12th July 2018
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With all the nostalgia of the early App Store and iOS SDK days, Frederik Riedel tweeted about his experience developing iRedstone:

After he tweeted that, other developers started quoting it, and sharing their experiences. Frederik has compiled a great collection of them over on his blog.

12th July 2018

Well this is unexpected, Apple have updated some of their Macs:

Cupertino, California — Apple today updated MacBook Pro with faster performance and new pro features, making it the most advanced Mac notebook ever. The new MacBook Pro models with Touch Bar feature 8th-generation Intel Core processors, with 6-core on the 15-inch model for up to 70 percent faster performance and quad-core on the 13-inch model for up to two times faster performance — ideal for manipulating large data sets, performing complex simulations, creating multi-track audio projects or doing advanced image processing or film editing. – Apple Newsroom

The improvements are to the 13” and 15” models of the MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, and there are also a few extra bits of news. I thought I’d try and extract the key improvements:

MacBook Pros

 Hardware

  • Faster CPUs – Now using 8th generation chips:
    • Quad-core Intel i5 and i7 processors up to 2.7GHz (Turbo Boost to 4.5GHz) for the 13”
    • Hexa-core Intel i7 and i9 processors up to 2.9GHz (Turbo Boost to 4.8GHz) for the 15”
  • Up to 32GB of DDR4 memory in the 15”
  • New HDD options – 2TB for the 13” ad 4TB for the 15”
  • New Apple T2 Chip
  • True Tone
  • Upgraded graphics chips:
    • Intel Iris Plus 655 for the 13”
    • Radeon Pro chips with 4GB of video memory for the 15”
  • The 13” model now ships with 4 USB C ports
  • The keyboard has been replaced with a new 3rd generation butterfly keyboard, which is quieter, and maybe more reliable.
  • Battery capacities have been slightly increased to cope with the newer specs. However, Brian Heater at TechCrunch says that no mechanical changes have been made.

Software

  • “Hey Siri” comes to the MacBook Pro because of the new T2 chip.
  • Also, enhanced security with secure booting, and on-the-fly storage encryption because of the T2.

 Extras

  • There are new colour options for the MacBook Leather Sleeve (13” and 15”) – Saddle Brown, Midnight Blue, and Black.
  • These MacBook Pro’s are also part of the Back to Schoo program, where students can receive a free pair of Beats headphones with eligible Macs.

28th March 2018

Yesterday, I was getting pretty excited about the “new” iPad:

That’s why this iPad seems absolutely perfect. I get to use one of the most exciting accessories for the iPad, it won’t cost me a huge amount of money to do it, and there are a ton of extra upgrades that I’ll be getting in the mean time. For example, I’ll use this upgrade to move from 64GB to 128GB, the A8X will be replaced with the A10 Fusion chip (currently used in the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus), an ever so slight improvement to the camera (it can take Live Photos), and around a 19% increase in battery capacity. Along with some more improvements that will probably cause additional delight.

Since then, I’ve discovered one tiny spec of information that completely flipped this article on its head. As much as the new iPad was an upgrade to my Air 2, the display is actually a downgrade. Specifically, it is not a laminated screen like the Air 2, and more recent models. So the screen is actually clearly behind the glass.

I can’t buy a product like the iPad, knowing I’m going backwards in regards to the display. Because that’s 90% of the iPad experience!

I think my only solution is to get an iPad Pro if I want the Pencil support. I didn’t want to do that though, so I’ll have to have a think.

27th March 2018

Apple have just announced their newest iteration of the iPad, at their education focussed event. They also announced a lot of other school related software, and integrations, but I’m not interested in that at all really.

However, I am very interested in the new iPad. Even if it is geared towards the educational market. And that’s mainly down to two factors: the low price, and the Apple Pencil support.

I should probably interject here with more details on my current iPad situation. I have an iPad Air 2 WiFi, with 64GB of storage. It is actually only my second iPad, after the iPad 2, and I think it’s quite near as perfect as it can be for what I use it for. I watch videos, read blogs, write for my blog, listen to music, play games, etc.

Basically all the usual stuff. Apart from working. But I’m an iOS developer, so it’s not as easy to switch as some other professions. Anyway, I’m completely happy with my Touch Bar MacBook Pro.

Back to the iPad. One of the few features that has made me super jealous of iPad Pro users, is the Apple Pencil. Because it’s such an obvious extension to the iPad, and I can see myself using it for a wide range of tasks. Like taking notes, sketching (of course), mapping out ideas, and maybe I’ll even find a way to write for my blog by handwriting. I would probably prefer it.

With all of that said, it’s probably surprising why I haven’t already just purchased an iPad Pro. I have been very close to making the leap, but the one blocker has always been the price, compared to the added value it would give me. Sure it’s powerful enough to warrant that price. But it’s not worth it for me.

That’s why this iPad seems absolutely perfect. I get to use one of the most exciting accessories for the iPad, it won’t cost me a huge amount of money to do it, and there are a ton of extra upgrades that I’ll be getting in the mean time. For example, I’ll use this upgrade to move from 64GB to 128GB, the A8X will be replaced with the A10 Fusion chip (currently used in the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus), an ever so slight improvement to the camera (it can take Live Photos), and around a 19% increase in battery capacity. Along with some more improvements that will probably cause additional delight.

Maybe I’m biased in my opinion here, and I’m 90% certain’t I am. But, I think that this could be the iPad model that pushes a lot of other “normals” to upgrade. Seeing as it doesn’t require any extra use of the device to warrant the price. It’s a super reasonable price, and it could potentially be a decent upgrade for someone on an Air 2 like me or earlier. It would certainly push up numbers for iOS 11 adoption, and from the user’s pont of view, it would give them another few years with a solid device.

I’m very much looking forward to using this device. And it’s been quite a while since I’ve felt like that about a new Apple product. Minus the AirPods.

01st March 2018
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Matt Birchler has a pretty common request for Siri, and that is the ability to schedule requests.

While all of these assistants can turn things on, turn them off, move thing up and down, and such, they can only do those things now. I can turn on the lights now. I can open the garage door now.

It makes so much sense for this to be supported. Sure you might be able to schedule actions inside of an app. But if voice is an official method of input, you should be able to do everything with it.

There’s not even a particularly high barrier in creating a delay/schedule system. The simplest method I can think of, is that when a voice assistant hears a request with a related time, all it needs to do is store that exact request (even plain text is fine), along with the date/time. Then the system can set its own reminder, and at that time, it simply performs the request automatically, and deletes it from the queue.

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.