Apple today announced a new MacBook Pro in a lighter, slimmer design. The big feature, however, is the new Touch Bar. the Touch Bar is a multi-touch Retina interface that spans the top of the keyboard. It's customizable and contextual, so it can display buttons, controls, and information depending on the current task. In addition, there is a built-in Touch ID sensor to support password and Apple Pay.
Other noteworthy features including a much larger trackpad, second generation butterfly keyboard and improved speakers,
The Touch Bar is pretty nifty and kind of hope Apple will release a stand-alone keyboard. In the demos, it seemed to work well as both a secondary display and customizable input device.
The 13-inch MacBook Pro starts at $1,499 (US), features a 2.0 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.1 GHz, 8GB of memory and 256GB of flash storage, and ships today.
The 13-inch MacBook Pro with the revolutionary Touch Bar and Touch ID starts at $1,799 (US), and features a 2.9 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.3 GHz, 8GB of memory and 256GB of flash storage, and ships in two to three weeks.
The 15-inch MacBook Pro starts at $2,399 (US), features the revolutionary Touch Bar and Touch ID, a 2.6 GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.5 GHz, 16GB of memory and 256GB of flash storage, and ships in two to three weeks.
Apple announces new TV app
Apple today make a few Apple TV announcements. One is a new TV app that aims to make accessing and discovering TV content easier.
Watch Now: Watch Now is where viewers will see their collection of available shows and movies from iTunes® and apps. From Watch Now, viewers can then go to Up Next or Recommended to choose what to watch.
Up Next: Users can enjoy the shows and movies they are currently watching, including recent iTunes rentals and purchases -- all presented in the order they are most likely to watch first. For example, when viewers finish an episode, the next one will automatically appear at the start of the Up Next queue, as will any new episodes as they become available. At any time, users can simply ask Siri to continue watching a show and immediately pick up where they left off.
Recommended: Viewers can explore a great selection of curated and trending shows and movies, including collections handpicked by Apple's curators, and dedicated categories and genres such as kids, sci-fi and comedy.
Library: Viewers can access their entire collection of iTunes movies and TV shows that they have rented or purchased on iTunes.
Store: If users are looking for something new, they can check out the Store to discover great new content across video services that they have not yet downloaded or are not yet subscribed to, along with the latest releases on iTunes.
Also announced were more improvements for Siri. Siri can now bring up live sports and news content, for example, from partner apps.
Lastly, Apple updated its plans for the already announced single sign-on feature, which will allow you to sign in once with your cable credentials to activate across all apps. This feature and the announced TV app is expected in December.
AirPods get delayed
If you've been waiting for Apple's AirPod wireless headphones to go on sale, you're going to have to wait a little longer. Apple says that it is not ready and will need "a little more time."
"The early response to AirPods has been incredible. We don't believe in shipping a product before it's ready, and we need a little more time before AirPods are ready for our customers," an Apple spokesperson told TechCrunch.
I figured we'd see the AirPods go on sale this week, but guess not.
Powerbeats3 with W1 chip now available
The $199.95 Powerbeats3 earphones are now available for ordering from Apple and Beats. They're expected to deliver the first couple weeks of November. The headphones utilize the same W1 chip as Apple's $159 AirPods that aims to make wireless pairing a seamless experience.
The advantage here is it gives you another option to experience Apple's attempt at simplifying wireless listening without Apple's AirPods. Other two options are Beats Solo3 and the still upcoming BeatsX.
I'm most interested in the BeatsX because I prefer in-ear phones with rubber inserts vs earbuds.
Apple Watch Nike+ launching this Friday
Apple's Apple Watch collaboration with Nike will be available starting this Friday. The special edition watches feature exclusive watch faces, special Nike sports bands, and a new Nike+ Run Club app.
Apple Watch Nike+ combines all of the unique features of Apple Watch Series 2 with the new Nike+ Run Club app for unrivaled motivation to go for a run, guidance from the world's best coaches and athletes and coaching plans that adapt to your unique schedule and progress. Apple Watch Nike+ also features exclusive Nike Sport Bands and unique watch faces inspired by Nike's iconic style that can be easily personalized with useful apps like Activity Rings, Heart Rate, Stopwatch and Weather -- helping runners stay informed at a glance.
iOS 10.1, macOS Sierra 10.12.1 now available
Apple pushed up updates for iOS and macOS Monday.
macOS Sierra 10.12.1:
- Adds an automatic smart album in Photos for Depth Effect images taken on iPhone 7 Plus
- Improves the compatibility of Microsoft Office when using iCloud Desktop and Documents
- Fixes an issue that may prevent Mail from updating when using a Microsoft Exchange account
- Fixes an issue that caused text to sometimes paste incorrectly when using Universal Clipboard
- Improves reliability of Auto Unlock with Apple Watch
- Improves security and stability in Safari
iOS 10.1 is a more substancial upgrade that's highlighted by the new Portrait Camera mode that utilizes the dual cameras on the iPhone 7 Plus.
Camera and Photos
- Introduces Portrait Camera for iPhone 7 Plus that creates a depth effect that keeps your subject sharp while creating a beautifully blurred background (beta)
- People names in the Photos app are saved in iCloud backups
- Improved the display of wide color gamut photos in the grid views of the Photos app
- Fixes an issue where opening the Camera app would show a blurred or flashing screen for some users
- Fixes an issue that caused Photos to quit for some users when turning on iCloud Photo Library
- Transit support for every major train, subway, ferry, and national bus line, as well as local bus systems for Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya
- Sign-based transit navigation including layouts of all underground structures and walkways that connect large transit stations
- Transit fare comparison when viewing alternative transit routes
- New option to replay bubble and full screen effects
- Messages effects can play with Reduce Motion enabled
- Fixes an issue that could lead to contact names appearing incorrectly in Messages
- Addresses an issue where Messages could open to a white screen
- Addresses an issue that could prevent the report junk option from displaying with unknown senders
- Fixes an issue where videos captured and sent in the Messages app could be missing audio
- Adds distance and average pace to workout summaries in the Activity app for outdoor wheelchair run pace and outdoor wheelchair walk pace
- Fixes issues that may have prevented Music playlists from syncing to Apple Watch
- Addresses an issue that was preventing invitations and data to appear in Activity Sharing
- Fixes an issue that was allowing Activity Sharing to update over cellular when manually disabled
- Resolves an issue that was causing some third-party apps to crash when inputting text
Other improvements and fixes
- Improves Bluetooth connectivity with 3rd party accessories
- Improves AirPlay Mirroring performance when waking a device from sleep
- Fixes an issue where playback would not work for iTunes purchased content when the "Show iTunes Purchases" setting is turned off
- Fixes an issue where certain selfie apps and face filters used with the FaceTime HD camera on iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus did not display a live preview
- Fixes an issue in Health where individual strokes are converted to separate characters when using the Chinese handwriting keyboard
- Improves performance of sharing websites from Safari to Messages
- Fixes an issue in Safari that caused web previews in tab view to not display correctly
- Fixes an issue that caused certain Mail messages to be reformatted with very small text
- Fixes an issue that caused some HTML email to be formatted incorrectly
- Fixes an issue that in some cases caused the search field to disappear in Mail
- Fixes an issue that could prevent Today View Widgets from updating when launched
- Fixes an issue where Weather widget sometimes failed to load data
- Fixes an issue on iPhone 7 where Home Button click settings would not appear in search results
- Fixes an issue that prevented spam alert extensions from blocking calls
- Resolves an issue that could prevent alarm sounds from going off
- Fixes an issue where audio playback via Bluetooth would cause the Taptic engine to stop providing feedback for some users
- Resolves an issue preventing some users from restoring from iCloud Backup
A look back at the iPod as it turns 15
The Verge has a visual walk down memory lane as the iPod turned 15 over the weekend.
Fifteen years ago today, on October 23rd, 2001, Steve Jobs stood up on stage and announced the original iPod. Since that day, the iPod has changed the way people buy and listen to music, sold millions of devices, and laid the foundation for the powerhouses that Apple has had with the iPhone and iPad.
I forgot about the first generation iPod Shuffle. It's basically the old Apple TV/Mac remote. Also, it's also kind of hard to believe the iPod Nano hasn't been updated since 2012. The iPod Touch was updated last year, but that still likely popular as an app platform and also need to stay relatively current since its running iOS.
Marques Brownlee offers a Siri vs Google Assistant video bakeoff
MKBHD put together a bakeoff video comparing Siri and Google Assistant. The video shows both AI systems responding to the same question.
Both systems were fairly similar I think, each doing a little better than the other some some areas. My takeaway was that Google seemed to have more native responses than Siri, meaning Siri had to do a general web search more often. When it came to contextual questions, like a follow-up to a previous question, they both did well, except Siri didn't perform well if the previous question wasn't one of those native responses.
Tests show performance difference between iPhone 7 modems
Apple typically sources components from more than one vendor when possible. Sometimes these components result in some performance variation between devices. For example, we had slight differences in CPU performance between Samsung and TSMC chips. We also had differences in storage performance and LCDs properties.
With the iPhone 7 Plus, Apple is sourcing its LTE modem from Qualcomm and Inte,l and it appears there may be some advantages for Qualcomm iPhones. GSM-only devices (AT&T/T-Mobile) utilize an Intel modem and GSM/CDMA (Verizon/Sprint) utilize the Qualcomm modem.
Cellular Insights (via MacRumors):
Both iPhone 7 Plus variants perform similarly in ideal conditions. At -96dBm the Intel variant needed to have Transport Block Size adjusted as BLER well exceeded the 2% threshold. At -105dBm the gap widened to 20%, and at -108dBm to a whopping 75%. As a result of such a huge performance delta between the Intel and Qualcomm powered devices, we purchased another A1784 (AT&T) iPhone 7 Plus, in order to eliminate any possibility of a faulty device. The end result was virtually identical. [...]
At -121dBm, the Intel variant performed more in line with its Qualcomm counterpart. Overall, the average performance delta between the two is in the 30% range in favor of the Qualcomm
Basically it seems the problem is limited to conditions with weaker signals. Even then, it I'm not sure it's that big of a deal. The tests show antenna attenuation with lab conditions, which is interesting, but doesn't necessarily correspond directly to real-world performance. And that's not to say the Intel modem is slow on its own.
So, seems just another tiny detail for people who like to fret over things.
In-App Purchase: Using Apple Pay to buy a $1 million Aston Martin
A 1964 Aston Martin DB5 was recently purchased at auction for over $1 million. The online auction was held with Coys of Kensington, which, using its auction app, accepts Apple Pay as a means of payment.
The rare 1964 Aston Martin DB5 that had gone through a full restoration including an engine rebuild, suspension and gearbox overhaul followed by 20-years in dry storage was sold Vero for a price of £825,000 (~ $1,013,000). The car was a highly-sought after right hand drive silver birch model which had a red leather interior trip (similar to the one on James Bond's movie car).