Archive for the ‘apple’ Category

Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro mini-review: A vast improvement

May 30th, 2020

The past year has brought big changes to the iPad. First, the branch from iOS to iPadOS—and some accompanying changes to the software—signaled an effort by Apple to make real productivity possible on the platform. Second, Apple introduced trackpad support, bringing a whole new user interface paradigm to the iPad.

The latest product of that particular effort is the introduction of the Magic Keyboard peripheral from the 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models. It combines a keyboard modeled after the keyboard peripheral of the same name for Macs—a generally beloved design—with the first trackpad made by Apple specifically for the iPad.

After spending some time with the Magic Keyboard, we’re ready to share our impressions. It’s just a peripheral, though, so this is going to be a very short review. We’re not going to get too much into the software side of things, as we’ve done that in our previous coverage of iPadOS as well as our most recent iPad Pro review. And we’re going to go into even more detail in an upcoming article entirely about working with trackpads and keyboards on the iPad.

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Posted in apple, ipad, ipad pro, magic keyboard, Tech | Comments (0)

Big Tech goes on pandemic M&A spree despite political backlash

May 29th, 2020
Big Tech goes on pandemic M&A spree despite political backlash

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson)

Big technology companies are hunting for deals at their fastest pace in years, racking up acquisitions and strategic investments despite increased regulatory scrutiny during the coronavirus-led market turmoil.

Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft have announced 19 deals this year, according to Refinitiv data from May 26, representing the fastest pace of acquisitions to this date since 2015.

The Financial Times on Tuesday reported Amazon was also in advanced talks to purchase the self-driving car company Zoox, which was valued at $3.2 billion two years ago. Meanwhile, Facebook in March announced its largest international investment yet, purchasing a $5.7 billion stake in the juggernaut Indian telecoms operator Reliance Jio.

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Posted in Alphabet, amazon, apple, Facebook, google, M&A, Policy | Comments (0)

iPhone privacy prompts discriminate against non-Apple apps, complaint says

May 29th, 2020
Tile Mate, one of Tile’s tracking hardware products.

Enlarge / Tile Mate, one of Tile’s tracking hardware products. (credit: Tile)

Tile, a maker of hardware and software for digitally tracking the location of personal possessions, has written a letter to the European Commission accusing Apple of anti-competitive behavior as rumors abound that Apple plans to launch a competitor to Tile in the near future. This follows similar complaints by Tile in the United States.

The letter claims that Apple favors FindMy, the tech giant’s own device tracking app, over Tile’s in a few specific ways and asks for the European Commission to open a probe into Apple’s business practices. Here’s an excerpt from the letter by Tile general counsel Kirsten Daru, which was acquired by Financial Times:

In the past twelve months, Apple has taken several steps to completely disadvantage Tile, including by making it more difficult for consumers to use our products and services. This is particularly concerning because Apple’s actions come at the same time that Apple both launched a new FindMy app that competes even more directly with Tile and also began preparing for the launch of a competitive hardware product.

One of Tile’s key arguments is that Apple defaults the “Always Allow” flag to "on" for location-based tracking in the FindMy app when users set up their phones, but third-party apps that perform similar functions default to "off." The result is that third-party apps must frequently show dialogues asking the user for permission until the user opts to manually turn on “Always Allow” for the app. This “denigrates the user experience,” according to Tile’s letter.

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Posted in antitrust, apple, EU, European Union, Tech, Tile | Comments (0)

Apple introduces new MacBook battery management with macOS Catalina 10.15.5

May 28th, 2020
The new update is available via System Preferences on supported Macs.

Enlarge / The new update is available via System Preferences on supported Macs. (credit: Samuel Axon)

This week, Apple released macOS Catalina 10.15.5, rounding out a series of system software updates that has rolled out to various Apple platforms (iOS, iPadOS, watchOS, tvOS) over the course of a week or so.

This version of macOS is primarily focused on a new battery management feature similar to one already introduced in iOS. It helps prolong the life of the device's physical battery by moderating charging based on users' habits.

With "Battery Health Management" in macOS 10.15.5, Apple aims to increase the life of the lithium-ion battery in each MacBook by limiting that laptop's maximum charge level when plugged in based on analysis of your charging patterns and the battery's temperature history. Charging to full unnecessarily can reduce the number of cycles before a lithium-ion battery becomes less reliable.

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Posted in apple, Macbook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, MacOS, macOS Catalina, macOS Catalina 10.15, macOS Catalina 10.15.5, Tech | Comments (0)

COVID-19 contact tracing hits Apple devices with iOS and iPadOS 13.5

May 20th, 2020
Closeup photo of a hand holding the iPhone 11

Enlarge / The iPhone 11. (credit: Samuel Axon)

Apple released iOS 13.5 and iPadOS 13.5 for iPhones, iPods, and iPads today. They went live alongside minor software updates for Apple TV and HomePod devices. The iOS update mainly adds new health-related features—most notably the much-discussed Exposure Notification API that was co-developed with Google to help local, regional, and national governments enact contact-tracing strategies to battle the COVID-19 pandemic.

Usage of the contact tracing API is user-optional. Additionally, exposure reports require the user to, once again, opt in to the notification, and it can only be done after the positive result is confirmed by one of the government agencies.

Additionally, iPhone and iPad users who rely on Face ID to access content or services on their devices will find a new, simplified process for logging in if they are wearing protective facemasks that interfere with the face-scanning technology, as previously reported.

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Posted in apple, HomePod, iOS, iOS 13.5, iPadOS, iPadOS 13.5, Tech, tvos, tvOS 13.4.5 | Comments (0)

Apple reopens some US stores amid COVID-19, but they’ll work differently

May 18th, 2020
Masked retail workers stand across a counter from a customer.

Enlarge / Customers and staff in an Apple Store mid-pandemic. (credit: Apple)

Apple will re-open 25 more of its retail stores in the United States and 12 more in Canada by the end of this week, according to a public note from the company's SVP of retail, Deirdre O'Brien. However, the company's safety policies make clear that the shopping experience is going to be markedly different in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"In every store, we're focused on limiting occupancy and giving everybody lots of room, and renewing our focus on one‑on‑one, personalized service at the Genius Bar and throughout the store," O'Brien wrote. Her note added that temperature checks will be conducted at the door, health questions will be posted at the entrance to screen for symptoms, and face masks will be required of all customers and staff. Any customer who does not have a face mask will be provided one on entry to the store.

Additionally, each store will have full-time janitorial staff cleaning the space periodically throughout the day, and social-distancing rules will be enforced.

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Posted in apple, Apple Store, coronavirus, COVID-19, pandemic, Tech | Comments (0)

Apple acquired NextVR, suggesting it still harbors VR ambitions

May 14th, 2020
A virtual reality headset has been photographed on a white bedsheet.

Enlarge / The HTC Vive Pro, a headset Apple supported with recent macOS releases. (credit: Kyle Orland)

Apple confirmed to Bloomberg that it has acquired NextVR, a company that primarily makes sports-related content and experiences for virtual reality. Southern California-based NextVR also holds dozens of patents that might be useful to Apple.

The acquisition was first rumored last month, but today marks the confirmation that it has taken place. A price was not disclosed, but reports last month claimed the acquisition was expected to come in at around $100 million. NextVR stopped operating as its own entity last week, today's Bloomberg report says, and the NextVR website is now just a simple landing page indicating that new things are coming at a later date.

NextVR has enjoyed content deals with sports leagues like the NBA and media outlets like Fox Sports for some time. It's possible that Apple acquired NextVR to produce similar content, but it might be just as likely that one or more of NextVR's patents are what interests Cupertino. For example, 9to5Mac noted last month that NextVR holds patents for upscaling video streams, presumably in ways that suit mixed reality.

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Posted in apple, NextVR, Tech, virtual reality, VR, XR | Comments (0)

You can now buy Amazon’s Eero Wi-Fi directly from Apple

May 14th, 2020
Apple is selling all three Eero variants—clockwise from the top, you're looking at Amazon, Pro, and Beacon. We recommend the Amazon version as the best value by far.

Enlarge / Apple is selling all three Eero variants—clockwise from the top, you're looking at Amazon, Pro, and Beacon. We recommend the Amazon version as the best value by far. (credit: Eero)

Apple is now selling Amazon's three-piece Eero kit directly from to customers in the US, Canada, UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain.

As we've reported previously, the three-piece Eero kit—specifically, the redesigned version released after the Amazon acquisition—should be on anybody's short list when considering new Wi-Fi gear. Eero can't quite hang with Plume on the absolute busiest, toughest multi-system performance test—but it comes far closer than any other consumer kit we've tested, and it does so without Plume's unpopular ongoing subscription fees.

On paper, the base Eero kit doesn't look very impressive—it only offers dual-band radios and no Wi-Fi 6. The secret lies in its TrueMesh firmware, which dynamically adapts Eero's backhaul topology to the changing needs of the network on a moment-to-moment basis. In practice, Eero's dynamic management allows it to outperform some systems with much beefier hardware—particularly when its lower cost means putting in three access points to a higher-cost competitor's two.

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Posted in apple, eero, Tech, WiFi | Comments (0)

Report: Apple’s over-ear headphones have no left- or right-ear assignments

May 13th, 2020

Among other things, Apple's AirPods are known for the ability to detect when an individual earbud is or isn't in your ear and start or stop playback accordingly. A new report from 9to5Mac claims that a similar feature will be offered in Apple's upcoming over-ear headphones, but the headphones will instead detect whether they are placed on our head or lowered around your neck.

The publication cites "people familiar with the matter" who have detailed some of Apple's plans. The report also refers to the headphones as "AirPods Studio."

This product was previously described in some detail in a report in Bloomberg. That story said Apple is testing two versions of its over-ear headphones: one intended for sports and fitness use, and the other with a more "premium" feel with leather-like fabrics. Further, Bloomberg's sources said that Apple will make some components of the headphones modular—so, for example, wearers could replace the ear pads as they wear over time.

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Posted in 9to5Mac, Active Noise Cancellation, airpods, AirPods Studio, apple, Bloomberg, headphones, Tech | Comments (0)