What is an Apple Air tag?
It's a tracking device they're calling AirTag. The new devices can be attached to just about anything – keys, purses, wallet, backpack, you name it – giving you an easy way to find the item using the Find My iPhone app. WKYC.comApple's 'AirTags' are on sale today, but how do they work?
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26 April, 2021 - 04:02pm
But an even bigger concern is that internal components like CPUs, GPUs, and storage tend to age faster than displays. While it’s always good to try to run gadgets into the ground before buying a new one, most people tend to replace computers after four or five years, at which point a system’s performance might not feel quite as snappy as once it did when it was new. The problem is that a good display can easily last a decade, assuming you can resist the temptation of replacing it with the latest hot new panel during that time.
My one worry is that somewhere deep inside the Apple mothership there’s a bean counter who has crunched some numbers and determined that if Apple released a new line of monitors, the Mac Mini and a new affordable Apple monitor might cannibalize the sales of iMacs.
To me, this makes the equation rather clear, and I can only hope for the sake of Mac fans that Apple will expand its display offerings sometime soon. Apple made some great monitors in the past, and I’m hoping that someday soon, it will begin offering some more affordable displays again.
It’s a scam and an environmental disaster.
26 April, 2021 - 04:02pm
Another week came and went, and it's time we did a recap. Apple's first event of the year took place and it brought new iPad Pros, a new iMac, the AirTag smart tracker and a purple paint job for the iPhone 12 and 12 mini.
The Apple iPad now has an M1 processor straight off the MacBook Pro and Air. It's unclear if the tablet will finally start to do more computer stuff like have proper file system support, or run desktop apps like Final Cut Pro. But it now has support for Thunderbolt 4 through its USB-C port, allowing it to power an external monitor.
The iPad Pro 11-inch retained its excellent 120Hz IPS LCD, but the 12.9-inch iPad Pro now has a mini-LED display with a typical brightness of 1,000 nits and a peak brightness of 1,600 nits. It's still 120Hz, HDR10 and Dolby Vision certified. Apple calls it the Liquid Retina XDR.
The iMac got a thin and colorful new design and the ARM-based M1 chip. It has a 23.5-inch 4.5K display with 500 nits, a starting configuration of 8GB of RAM and 256GB SSD and a starting price of $1,299.
The AirTags launch on April 30 for $29 per piece or $99 for a four pack. They have built-in Ultra Wideband technology for precision finding. In true Apple fashion the tags can't attach to anything without a paid accessory. Still, putting an AirTag into a pocket is free after that initial $29 fee.
The smartphone market got back to growth in Q1 with a 24% increase in shipments. Samsung led the way with a 32% jump in sales, followed by Apple and Xiaomi. In raw numbers Samsung shipped 77 million phones, Apple 57 million and Xiaomi 49 million. Huawei was on the opposite end of the spectrum, dropping out of the top 5 for the first time in years.
The next generation under-display cameras will reportedly be a big improvement over the first one we saw in the ZTE Axon 20. These new cameras are reportedly coming in the second half of 2021 with phones from Samsung and Oppo (foldables), vivo, Xiaomi, ZTE and Meizu in the works.
Samsung's Galaxy S20 FE now uses the Snapdragon 865 chipset uniformly across both 4G and 5G models. The Exynos 990 will be faded out.
The Google Pixel 5a 5G, which is rumored to arrive on June 11, will sport a Snapdragon 765G, matching the Pixel 5 for processing power.
Okay, those were the key topics of the week. You can find the full list of best read stories below. See you next week!
The M1 chip is much faster and you can configure your tablet with up to 16 GB of RAM and 2 TB storage.
All top five companies improved their overall shipments on a yearly basis.
The next-gen under-display cameras are reportedly "greatly improved".
The chip won't come cheap, though.
No more Exynos 990-powered Galaxy S20 FE.
The team had a similar philosophy when working on the Xperia flagship as it did when developing the Alpha cameras.
There are new color options for leather and silicone cases, the MagSafe wallet too.
This has been revealed through code in the Android 12 Developer Preview 3.
It will likely share a few key specs with the Galaxy A32.
It will be heavily modified, including physical shoulder triggers and a switch for Game Mode.
Just as we've seen in iPhone 13 and 13 mini renders.
The news comes officially from the company itself.
The phone is said to cost from CNY1,999, which is just north of $300.
The design is a big departure from the Honor V40 that was unveiled in January.
Apparently, it was Apple's decision to include a ToF sensor on the iPhone 12 Pro that caused Samsung to think about bringing it back.
The original Android 11 update was released almost a month ago, but was pulled due to bugs. This hotfix resolves those bugs.
They can be used as sensors, baby monitors, and camera solutions.
Tecno hasn't officially announced the phone, technically, but a store in Kenya is already accepting pre-orders.
The AirTag uses the Find My app to navigate you to your belongings.
The new K-series smartphone will be unveiled on May 6.
The 6nm platform will be a first for the Redmi K40 family.
26 April, 2021 - 04:02pm
When the third minute of Apple’s first product event of 2021 ticked over and they had already made 3 announcements we knew it was going to be a packed one. In a tight single hour this week, Apple launched a ton of new product including AirTags, new Apple Card family sharing, a new Apple TV, a new set of colorful iMacs, and a purple iPhone 12 shade.
Of the new devices announced, though, Apple’s new 12.9” iPad Pro is the most interesting from a market positioning perspective.
This week I got a chance to speak to Apple Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing Greg Joswiak and Senior Vice President of Hardware Engineering John Ternus about this latest version of the iPad Pro and its place in the working universe of computing professionals.
In many ways, this new iPad Pro is the equivalent of a sprinter being lengths ahead going into the last lap and just turning on the afterburners to put a undebatable distance between themselves and the rest of the pack. Last year’s model is still one of the best computers you can buy, with a densely packed offering of powerful computing tools, battery performance and portability. And this year gets upgrades in the M1 processor, RAM, storage speed, Thunderbolt connection, 5G radio, new ultra wide front camera and its Liquid Retina XDR display.
This is a major bump even while the 2020 iPad Pro still dominates the field. And at the center of that is the display.
Apple has essentially ported its enormously good $5,000 Pro Display XDR down to a 12.9” touch version, with some slight improvements. But the specs are flat out incredible. 1,000 nit brightness peaking at 1,600 nits in HDR with 2,500 full array local dimming zones — compared to the Pro Display XDR’s 576 in a much larger scale.
Given that this year’s first product launch from Apple was virtual, the media again got no immediate hands on with the new devices introduced, including iPad Pro. This means that I have not yet seen the XDR display in action. Unfortunately, these specs are so good that estimating them without having seen the screen yet is akin to trying to visualize “a trillion” in your head. It’s intellectually possible but not really practical.
It’s brighter than any Mac or iOS device on the market and could be a big game shifting device for professionals working in HDR video and photography. But even still, this is a major investment to ship a micro-LED display in the millions or tens of millions of units with more density and brightness than any other display on the market.
I ask both of them why there’s a need to do this doubling down on what is already one of the best portable displays ever made — if not one of the best displays period.
“We’ve always tried to have the best display,” says Ternus. “We’re going from the best display on any device like this and making it even better, because that’s what we do and that’s why we, we love coming to work every day is to take that next big step.
“[With the] Pro Display XDR if you remember one thing we talked about was being able to have this display and this capability in more places in the work stream. Because traditionally there was just this one super expensive reference monitor at the end of the line. This is like the next extreme of that now you don’t even have to be in the studio anymore you can take it with you on the go and you can have that capability so from a, from a creative pro standpoint we think this is going to be huge.”
In my use of the Pro Display and my conversations with professionals about it one of the the common themes that I’ve heard is the reduction in overall workload due to the multiple points in the flow where color and image can be managed accurately to spec now. The general system in place puts a reference monitor very late in the production stage which can often lead to expensive and time consuming re-rendering or new color passes. Adding the Liquid Retina XDR display into the mix at an extremely low price point means that a lot more plot points on the production line suddenly get a lot closer to the right curve.
One of the stronger answers on the ‘why the aggressive spec bump’ question comes later in our discussion but is worth mentioning in this context. The point, Joswiak says, is to offer headroom. Headroom for users and headroom for developers.
“One of the things that iPad Pro has done as John [Ternus] has talked about is push the envelope. And by pushing the envelope that has created this space for developers to come in and fill it. When we created the very first iPad Pro, there was no Photoshop,” Joswiak notes. “There was no creative apps that could immediately use it. But now there’s so many you can’t count. Because we created that capability, we created that performance — and, by the way sold a fairly massive number of them — which is a pretty good combination for developers to then come in and say, I can take advantage of that. There’s enough customers here and there’s enough performance. I know how to use that. And that’s the same thing we do with each generation. We create more headroom to performance that developers will figure out how to use.
“The customer is in a great spot because they know they’re buying something that’s got some headroom and developers love it.”
The iPad Pro is now powered by the M1 chip — a move away from the A-series naming. And that processor part is identical (given similar memory configurations) to the one found in the iMac announced this week and MacBooks launched earlier this year.
“It’s the same part, it’s M1,” says Ternus. “iPad Pro has always had the best Apple silicon we make.”
“How crazy is it that you can take a chip that’s in a desktop, and drop it into an iPad,” says Joswiak. “I mean it’s just incredible to have that kind of performance at such amazing power efficiency. And then have all the technologies that come with it. To have the neural engine and ISP and Thunderbolt and all these amazing things that come with it, it’s just miles beyond what anybody else is doing.”
As the M1 was rolling out and I began running my testing, the power per watt aspects really became the story. That really is the big differentiator for M1. For decades, laptop users have been accustomed to saving any heavy or intense workloads for the times when their machines were plugged in due to power consumption. M1 is in the process of resetting those expectations for desktop class processors. In fact, Apple is offering not only the most powerful CPUs but also the most power-efficient CPUs on the market. And it’s doing it in a $700 Mac Mini, a $1,700 iMac and a $1,100 iPad Pro at the same time. It’s a pretty ridiculous display of stunting, but it’s also the product of more than a decade of work building its own architecture and silicon.
“Your battery life is defined by the capacity of your battery and the efficiency of your system right? So we’re always pushing really really hard on the system efficiency and obviously with M1, the team’s done a tremendous job with that. But the display as well. We designed a new mini LED for this display, focusing on efficiency and on package size, obviously, to really to be able to make sure that it could fit into the iPad experience with the iPad experience’s good battery life.
“We weren’t going to compromise on that,” says Ternus.
One of the marquee features of the new iPad Pro is its 12MP ultra-wide camera with Center Stage. An auto-centering and cropping video feature designed to make FaceTime calling more human-centric, literally. It finds humans in the frame and centers their faces, keeping them in the frame even if they move, standing and stretching or leaning to the side. It also includes additional people in the frame automatically if they enter the range of the new ultra-wide 12MP front-facing camera. And yes, it also works with other apps like Zoom and Webex and there will be an API for it.
I’ve gotten to see it in action a bit more and I can say with surety that this will become an industry standard implementation of this kind of subject focusing. The crop mechanic is handled with taste, taking on the characteristics of a smooth zoom pulled by a steady hand rather than an abrupt cut to a smaller, closer framing. It really is like watching a TV show directed by an invisible machine learning engine.
“This is one of the examples of some of our favorite stuff to do because of the way it marries the hardware and software right,” Ternus says. “So, sure it’s the camera but it’s also the SOC and and the algorithms associated with detecting the person and panning and zooming. There’s the kind of the taste aspect, right? Which is; how do we make something that feels good it doesn’t move too fast and doesn’t move too slow. That’s a lot of talented, creative people coming together and trying to find the thing that makes it Apple like.”
It also goes a long way to masking the awkward horizontal camera placement when using the iPad Pro with Magic Keyboard. This has been a big drawback for using the iPad Pro as a portable video conferencing tool, something we’ve all been doing a lot of lately. I ask Ternus whether Center Stage was designed to mitigate this placement.
“Well, you can use iPad in any orientation right? So you’re going to have different experiences based on how you’re using it. But what’s amazing about this is that we can keep correcting the frame. What’s been really cool is that we’ve all been sitting around in these meetings all day long on video conferencing and it’s just nice to get up. This experience of just being able to stand up and kind of stretch and move around the room without walking away from the camera has been just absolutely game changing, it’s really cool.”
It’s worth noting that several other video sharing devices like the Portal and some video software like Teams already offer cropping-type follow features, but the user experience is everything when you’re shipping software like this to millions of people at once. It will be interesting to see how Center Stage stacks up agains the competition when we see it live.
With the ongoing chatter about how the iPad Pro and Mac are converging from a feature-set perspective, I ask how they would you characterize an iPad Pro vs. a MacBook buyer? Joswiak is quick to respond to this one.
“This is my favorite question because you know, you have one camp of people who believe that the iPad and the Mac are at war with one another right it’s one or the other to the death. And then you have others who are like, no, they’re bringing them together — they’re forcing them into one single platform and there’s a grand conspiracy here,” he says.
“They are at opposite ends of a thought spectrum and the reality is that neither is correct. We pride ourselves in the fact that we work really, really, really hard to have the best products in the respective categories. The Mac is the best personal computer, it just is. Customer satisfaction would indicate that is the case, by a longshot.”
Joswiak points out that the whole PC category is growing, which he says is nice to see. But he points out that Macs are way outgrowing PCs and doing ‘quite well’. He also notes that the iPad business is still outgrowing the tablets category (while still refusing to label the iPad a tablet).
“And it’s also the case that it’s not an ‘either or’. The majority of our Mac customers have an iPad. That’s an awesome thing. They don’t have it because they’re replacing their Mac, it’s because they use the right tool at the right time.
What’s very cool about what [Ternus] and his team have done with iPad Pro is that they’ve created something where that’s still the case for creative professionals too — the hardest to please audience. They’ve given them a tool where they can be equally at home using the Mac for their professional making money with it kind of work, and now they can pick up an iPad Pro — and they have been for multiple generations now and do things that, again, are part of how they make money, part of their creative workflow flow,” says Joswiak. “And that test is exciting. it isn’t one or the other, both of them have a role for these people.”
Since converting over to an iPad Pro as my only portable computer, I’ve been thinking a lot about the multimodal aspects of professional work. And, clearly, Apple has as well given its launch of a Pro Workflows team back in 2018. Workflows have changed massively over the last decade, and obviously the iPhone and an iPad, with their popularization of the direct manipulation paradigm, have had everything to do with that. In the current world we’re in, we’re way past ‘what is this new thing’, and we’re even way past ‘oh cool, this feels normal’ and we’re well into ‘this feels vital, it feels necessary.’
“Contrary to some people’s beliefs, we’re never thinking about what we should not do on an iPad because we don’t want to encroach on Mac or vice versa,” says Ternus. “Our focus is, what is the best way? What is the best iPad we can make what are the best Macs we can make. Some people are going to work across both of them, some people will kind of lean towards one because it better suits their needs and that’s, that’s all good.”
If you follow along, you’ll know that Apple studiously refuses to enter into the iPad vs. Mac debate — and in fact likes to place the iPad in a special place in the market that exists unchallenged. Joswiak often says that he doesn’t even like to say the word tablet.
“There’s iPads and tablets, and tablets aren’t very good. iPads are great,” Joswiak says. “We’re always pushing the boundaries with iPad Pro, and that’s what you want leaders to do. Leaders are the ones that push the boundaries leaders are the ones that take this further than has ever been taken before and the XDR display is a great example of that. Who else would you expect to do that other than us. And then once you see it, and once you use it, you won’t wonder, you’ll be glad we did.”
26 April, 2021 - 04:02pm
Analysis: when will Apple launch a new 16-inch MacBook Pro?
Since it got the major redesign in 2019, the only update this laptop has seen was a minor GPU bump in 2020, but using the same Intel processor. And now that Apple has its own processors, it's unlikely that we're going to get a quick 11th-generation Intel CPU upgrade – Apple's going to want to shove its own silicon in there.
But with the Apple M1 launching relatively recently in November 2020, when can we reasonably expect a more powerful follow-up that can sustain the beefier workloads that the 16-inch MacBook Pro supports? Well, we think it might be WWDC 2021 in June 2021.
We get it. Apple launched its most recent processor back in November 2020, powering the 13-inch MacBook Pro and MacBook Air (and it's in the iPad Pro and iMac now too), and it seems like it'd be too soon to launch a whole new processor. But when we're talking about mobile CPUs, we can look to AMD and Intel as an example of how generational launches usually go.
When a new CPU architecture is launched, like, let's say Tiger Lake, it's rare that Intel will drop the U-series chips for Ultrabooks and the H-series chips for gaming laptops and workstations at the same time. Instead, Team Blue will launch its low-power processors first, and then follow with its H-series chips a few months later. We think that's likely what Apple will do.
While Apple did shove the M1 into the iMac for some reason, we doubt it's going to put the same processor into the MacBook Pro 16-inch, which means that a higher-binned processor is going to be necessary.
And that wouldn't really be out of the blue for the way Apple does things anyway. For a while, Apple has been making its own processors for the iPhone and iPad, and they typically follow this same kind of pattern. In the past, Apple has launched a new SoC (System on a Chip) for an iPhone, then followed that up a while later with a more powerful version of that chip for an iPad or something similar.
For instance, Apple launched the A9 for the iPhone 6S and followed that up a couple of months later with the Apple A9X for the first-generation iPad Pro. And while that time scale is a little off for this case – it's been more than just two months since the M1 debuted – we still think Apple is going to follow this model.
The main reason we don't think we're going to see the 16-inch MacBook Pro adopt the M1 as it exists right now is that it's just not powerful enough to bring over the professional video editors, musicians and artists that depend on that laptop to make their living.
Don't get us wrong, the M1 is an amazing little piece of silicon, and in our testing is consistently one of the best processors for ultraportable devices. But once you start bringing high-performance H-series processors into the equation, that performance train will lose steam fast.
For people that need to do a lot of work in Blender or edit videos in 4K, they're going to need much stronger multi-core CPU performance, and that's where a higher-power version of the M1 would come into play, and the rumors are that it's already on the way.
Known Apple leaker @Jioriku suggests that the 16-inch MacBook Pro is going to be using an M1X, but won't be the most powerful version of it – with it likely showing up in an iMac – much like the M1. But because this is all in the world of conjecture and gossip, we don't really know for sure whether or not it's actually going to happen or what it will look like.
I talked about it in a comment thread, but the preliminary data from the new M series chip (M1X) in the 16” MacBook Pro looks really solid. This chip does have the potential to be in other products such as the new iMac as well which is promising for a few reasons1/March 19, 2021
The closest thing we've heard about the supposed M1X comes from way back in November 2020, when Twitter user @LeaksApplePro suggested that it would be a 12-core chip, with 8 high performance cores and 4 efficiency cores. That would be double the high performance cores that the M1 offers, and combined with the higher power budget, will probably result in a huge boost in performance.
But, again, as mentioned in that @Jioriku thread, the name of the game is thermals, and with how thin and light Apple insists on making its MacBook Pro these days, we likely won't see the full potential of the chip until much later.
Apple M1X:-12 Cores.- 8 performance cores.- 4 high efficiency cores.- Coming first on a MacBook Pro 16” unveiling as a press release.- According to a source who used a prototype, “if you think M1 is fast, you haven’t seen M1X”.-Name isn’t final though. pic.twitter.com/tpBhXpDCadNovember 22, 2020
If those specs are accurate – and considering their age they probably aren't – the improvements to the MacBook Pro 16-inch over the latest 13-inch model are going to be massive for its performance profile. It will probably mean that battery life probably won't be as good as the 13-inch MacBook Pro, but we think that's probably fine anyways, and what you would expect from a larger laptop.
What is essentially a 12-core processor could also be much more powerful than what Intel, and even AMD, brings to the high-performance mobile market right now, though, and could make for a really compelling laptop. Like, you know, if it exists.
Apple is weird. You never know how Apple is going to reveal a MacBook Pro. We've seen them shown off at WWDC and we've seen them just kind of thrown out in the wild with a short press release and a store page. But going back to that leak from November, if the M1X is that beefy and the 16-inch MacBook Pro is the computer that's going to be debuted alongside it, why wouldn't Apple go big with it?
And, well, WWDC 2021 is coming up pretty soon on June 7. And because the main audience for that conference is, well, developers, it would make sense to debut the more powerful version of the silicon that debuted at WWDC 2020.
Especially given how powerful and popular the M1 has been – the MacBook Air all of a sudden catapulted to being our favorite laptop – it would make sense for Apple to do some kind of victory lap around the M1's success.
Then again, Apple could spend literally the whole time talking about iOS 15 and macOS 12 Bigger Sur, and not announce any hardware at all, and then just sneak the MacBook Pro 16-inch out two weeks later. Either way, the MacBook Pro 16-inch and the Apple M1X are probably coming soon. After all, we seriously doubt Apple is going to launch its flagship laptop in 2021 without its own special little processor powering it.
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26 April, 2021 - 04:02pm
With the first event of 2021 behind us, let’s take a look at what the company announced that may indicate what Apple may be working on for the rest of the year and beyond.
Astronomers observe exoplanets—those outside of our solar system—not by perceiving them directly, but by measuring the effect those planets have on other elements of the universe. In the same way, you can observe the effect of Apple products on the overall ecosystem and make some educated guesses from the negative space—the things Apple didn’t talk about.
Take the new 24-inch iMac, for example. Built on the same M1 processor that powers the Apple silicon-based Macs that rolled out last fall, the new iMac ably supplants the aging 21.5-inch iMac at the bottom end of Apple’s all-in-one desktop lineup. But just as with the M1 MacBook Pro models, this is only part of the story. There’s a higher-powered 27-inch Intel iMac that remains part of Apple’s lineup, just waiting for an Apple silicon refresh all its own.
The 27-inch Intel-based iMac is still in Apple’s lineup, though probably not for long.
Why not refresh both now? Simply put, because the current state of Apple silicon isn’t the right fit for this larger iMac. But we can not only now make a guess at the design of a larger iMac (here’s hoping it offers the same vibrant colors as the 24-inch, perhaps even with some additional options), but also the features it might offer.
For example, since those looking for a larger, more powerful iMac will want more power, more memory, and better connectivity, it will require the next stage of Apple silicon evolution to enable those features—the M1 is not cutting it. And just as Apple bumped up the display size from 21.5 inches to 24, while keeping it within the same size footprint, it would hardly be shocking to see the 27-inch jump to a 30-inch display. Make no mistake: whatever replaces the 27-inch iMac is going to blow it out of the water in the same way the 24-inch iMac just did to its predecessor.
Apple promised a two-year transition to Apple silicon, and we’re still less than a year into that, so hold on to your hats. There’s more to come.
While the iPad Pro got a solid update in this event, one of the truly new features Apple showed off on its latest tablet is Center Stage. Enabled by the new Ultra Wide front-facing camera, this seemingly pandemic-inspired capability can frame the image it captures so as to center the faces that it detects. To those of us who have chatted with a friend or relative perpetually positioned half off the camera, this will come as a great relief.
We could see Center Stage on a future HomePod that better competes with products from Amazon and Google.
But it also seems like only the beginning for Center Stage. Recent rumors suggested that Apple may be working on a new HomePod device that integrates a camera of its own, designed primarily for video chatting. While some reports suggested that it might contain a robotic arm that moves the camera to follow the subject, à la competing devices from Facebook and Amazon, it seems more likely (and, frankly, more Apple-like) that such a HomePod will use Center Stage instead.
Likewise, it’s not hard to imagine Center Stage eventually making the jump to Macs as well, especially since it’s a feature available to third-party developers that will surely appeal to makers of other video conferencing apps, like Zoom and Skype.
As predicted, the new iPad Pro beefs up the existing USB-C port by adding USB4 and Thunderbolt to the mix. But…why? The latter enables connections to high-speed peripherals, which can let users add even faster external storage, but Apple also touted its ability to support external displays—including the company’s own Pro Display XDR.
Which prompts the question: who exactly is buying a $6,000 monitor to connect to their iPad?
The very expensive—and very impressive—ProDisplay XDR remains the only external display that Apple makes—otherwise, getting a third-party display for use with your Mac mini, MacBooks, and even as a secondary display for an iMac, remains a matter for third parties. Even though Apple itself creates great displays in many of its products.
An Apple display that’s more affordable than the Pro Display XDR could be a top seller.
In the case of the iPad, the external display story still seems to be untold. How much does Apple consider external display support a core part of the iPad’s functionality? There are a few examples why users might want it, but the current capabilities—display mirroring or support for some video apps—is currently limited.
No, this hardware feature is crying out for a good set of software features that can take advantage of it. And for a reasonably priced Retina display to go along with it. Who knows, perhaps those two will even arrive in close concert.