22nd January 2018

I’ve had the Touch Bar MacBook Pro now for over a year, and while I love the fact it has 4 x USB C ports, the cable that comes with it, isn’t exactly the best. I find that because it’s not as flexible as the MagSafe used to be, it’s more rigid, and tends to either bend at weird angles, or just slides straight out the port.

However, I’ve heard a lot of good things about Anker, and all of their various USB C products. So I thought I’d order one of their nylon braided USB C cables from Amazon. The Anker PowerLine+ C to C 2.0 to be exact.

The build quality is impressive, as you’d expect. But the nylon braiding, makes it such a superior cable than the Apple one. I find that it fits in the MacBook port with more of a grip, and (although it is a rather smooth connector), it seems to lock itself in position. It also isn’t affected by the twisting and bending of the default cable.

All I can say, is that it’s a pretty impressive little cable! And as I’m impressed with everything about it, I mean I even got a little magnetic pouch to hold it in, I’m probably going to invest in a USB C battery pack from them in the future.

I don’t think it supports Thunderbolt 3, as I can’t find any mention it on the Amazon product page, or Anker’s. However, that’s not a big concern for me. The only peripheral I use with my MacBook is a Transcend external drive, and I’m pretty sure that isn’t Thunderbolt either.

So if you have an Apple USB C cable, or just want to replace another branded one that’s not exactly holding up, I fully recommend this one. I paid £10.99 for mine, which is an unbelievable price.

15th January 2018
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Stephen Hackett, writing in his MacStories column:

Today, all of our notebooks are thin and light. We’ve traded our optical drives in for a series dongles and our spinning hard drives for fast, silent SSDs.

It wasn’t always like this. Once upon a time, notebooks had optical drives and a full array of ports, complemented by features like removable batteries.

A decade ago, we entered the current era of notebook design when Steve Jobs pulled the future out of an envelope.

The MacBook Air was a real astonishing product when it first launched, and the envelope presentation shocked quite a lot of people.

Stephen, goes into a lot of detail in his article, where he discusses things like the overall design, the IO it had, and also some of the issues it had.

Along with the article, he also produced another of his insightful videos:

Watch it on YouTube.

Read the full article on MacStories.

13th January 2018

Apple today, launched two more videos focussed on the iPad Pro to their YouTube channel.

Augement Reality

With iPad Pro + iOS 11, you can use augmented reality to literally transform the world around you. Your next computer might not be a computer.

Take Notes

With iPad Pro + iOS 11, you can use Apple Pencil to create multimedia notes. Draw, type, or drag and drop your favorite photos from Files. Your next computer might not be a computer.

I’m really enjoying their latest series of iOS 11 videos. It’s not a simple, an iPad is better than a Mac argument. Instead, they tend to focus on a younger user that has no concept of ”a computer”, but treat an iPad as the device.

It’s starting to become even more apparent, that younger generations are the ones that are truly adapting to new technology. Mainly because they haven’t got the burden of really knowing what it was like before these new devices, such as the iPad Pro.

29th December 2017

So, Apple finally came clean with the battery stuff on older iPhones:

We’ve been hearing feedback from our customers about the way we handle performance for iPhones with older batteries and how we have communicated that process. We know that some of you feel Apple has let you down. We apologize. There’s been a lot of misunderstanding about this issue, so we would like to clarify and let you know about some changes we’re making.

First and foremost, we have never — and would never — do anything to intentionally shorten the life of any Apple product, or degrade the user experience to drive customer upgrades. Our goal has always been to create products that our customers love, and making iPhones last as long as possible is an important part of that.

The situation isn’t ideal, in that they’ve annoyed, and probably confused some of their customers by not making it transparent from the start.

However, the actual power management feature that people are complaining about, actually seems like a really good idea.

About a year ago in iOS 10.2.1, we delivered a software update that improves power management during peak workloads to avoid unexpected shutdowns on iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, and iPhone SE. With the update, iOS dynamically manages the maximum performance of some system components when needed to prevent a shutdown. While these changes may go unnoticed, in some cases users may experience longer launch times for apps and other reductions in performance.

I’ve seen a lot of news outlets saying that this is Apple trying to move people to newer iPhones, and even that it is causing iPhones to not last as long (Not the battery, but the actual device’s lifespan).

I can only see this update doing the exact opposite. It slowed down performance, but that is to extend the short term battery life, and also the long term life of the device.

The lack of communication is what messes everything up though. Even if you disregard the trust factor of Apple doing this without telling anybody, it leads users to believe that they are affected by it, when in some cases they might not be. So after seeing a small bit of news about Apple slowing down iPhones, someone with a completely unrelated device, or even an affected device with another issue, would more than likely blame this new power management update.

What Apple are doing about this, is actually quite impressive. They’re reducing the price of an out of warranty battery replacement by $50. But more importantly, they’re going to start making the battery heath more visible in iOS. It’s something you have on a Mac, and I will welcome it to iOS.

They could have avoided this whole situation though, as clearly they proved they can be transparent about this feature (although in this case it was forced). So why didn’t they write a small article about a “new power management feature” and how they’re extending the lifespans of older devices, and then just make the whole thing optional.

20th December 2017

In a recent article by Mark Gurman over at Bloomberg, he wrote over 600 words on the supposed plan that Apple have, which would converge apps from iOS and macOS. Meaning that developers would be able to design just one app, and have it work on both platforms.

I personally dont think this is going to happen.

And if you read the whole piece, you’ll find that only 48 words out of the total 672 are relevant:

Apple currently plans to begin rolling out the change as part of next fall’s major iOS and macOS updates, said the people, who requested anonymity to discuss an internal matter. The secret project, codenamed “Marzipan,” is one of the tentpole additions for next year’s Apple software road map.

I’ve been hearing Mark’s name for a few years, and people always seem to make him sound like a very top Apple reporter, which I guess is why he now writes for Bloomberg. But his latest rumours, have been a bit lower in quality in my opinion.

Read the “full” article on Bloomberg.

08th December 2017
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Ingrid Lunden writing for TechCrunch:

As Spotify continues to inch towards a public listing, Apple is making a move of its own to step up its game in music services. Sources tell us that the company is close to acquiring Shazam, the popular app that lets people identify any song, TV show, film or advert in seconds, by listening to an audio clip or (in the case of, say, an ad) a visual fragment, and then takes you to content relevant to that search.

We have heard that the deal is being signed this week, and will be announced on Monday, although that could always change.

Ever since Shazam was first integrated into Siri, I only ever thought of this as the long term solution. Simply buying them to tidy it all up would be worth it in my opinion. However I assume they will gain a lot more than just that.

Read the full article.

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07th November 2017
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I did not expect to see this post in my RSS reader!

Apple have written an official response to all the news regarding their tax payments, with a few statements on some recent business restructuring, and quite a few various facts about it all.

Apple believes every company has a responsibility to pay its taxes, and as the largest taxpayer in the world, Apple pays every dollar it owes in every country around the world. We’re proud of the economic contributions we make to the countries and communities where we do business.

Read the full post on Apple Newsroom.

07th October 2017

How do you get the general public to update to the lates version of iOS?

Easy:

Hundreds of new emoji, including more emotive smiley faces, gender-neutral characters, clothing options, food types, animals, mythical creatures and more, are coming to iPhone and iPad with iOS 11.1. – Apple Newsroom

So in the next update to iOS, you’ll find mermaids, wizards, hedgehogs, giraffes, vampires, brocolli, and some more!

19th July 2017

Further proving their deep interest in machine learning, Apple have launched the "Apple Machine Learning Journal".

As they put it:

Welcome to the Apple Machine Learning Journal. Here, you can read posts written by Apple engineers about their work using machine learning technologies to help build innovative products for millions of people around the world.

They’ve kicked it off with ‘Vol. 1, Issue 1’, titled "Improving the Realism of Synthetic Images":

Most successful examples of neural nets today are trained with supervision. However, to achieve high accuracy, the training sets need to be large, diverse, and accurately annotated, which is costly. An alternative to labelling huge amounts of data is to use synthetic images from a simulator. This is cheap as there is no labeling cost, but the synthetic images may not be realistic enough, resulting in poor generalization on real test images. To help close this performance gap, we’ve developed a method for refining synthetic images to make them look more realistic. We show that training models on these refined images leads to significant improvements in accuracy on various machine learning tasks.

I can imagine the content being well over my head, but I’m going to enjoy keeping up with it.