App Store graphic revives wild speculation about touchscreen Mac

Apple has downplayed rumors of a touchscreen Mac, but a new macOS Big Sur graphic on the App Store has revived rumors that such a device could be coming.

The App Store graphic, spotted by developer Louie Mantia, features a stylized human hand tapping on various widgets and user interface elements in macOS Big Sur.

Apple has since removed the animation and the hand graphic and replaced it with a static image depicting the widgets feature in the new macOS update.

However, as one would expect, Mantia’s tweet picked up a bit of attention and reignited rumors and speculation that Apple is in the process of transitioning macOS to a touch-based user experience.

The macOS Big Sur update brings a complete visual overhaul to the Mac operating system that heavily borrows from iPadOS and iOS. That has led some people to believe that it’s a first step toward merging macOS and iPadOS, or at least a step toward bring a touch-based UX to the Mac.

In an interview from earlier this week, Apple software chief Craig Federighi downplayed rumors that a touchscreen version of macOS was coming, and claimed that touch-based controls weren’t in mind during the redesign.

On the other hand, Federighi didn’t outright deny that a future version of macOS could incorporate touch support. And, in fact, Apple patented touch-based command systems for macOS earlier in 2020.

Apple II lid signed by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak going up for auction

A lid from an Apple II computer signed by company cofounders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak is set to go up for auction later in November.

The signed lid, a part of a “Rare Books, Autographs & Maps” collection at auction house Doyle, will start at a bid between $20,000 to $30,2000.

According to Doyle, the lid was prepared for the late Thomas Earl Neudecker II from the University of Pittsburgh at a release event for the Macintosh computer on Jan. 24, 1984. Both Jobs and Wozniak signed the lid using a felt tip, with the latter Apple cofounder signing it as “Woz.”

The framed lid is bundled together with a fabric Macintosh banner that was likely used at the event and features a Clemont Mok design of a cyclist carrying a Mac computer.

Neudecker, a University of Pittsburgh professor who studied the effects of technology in schools, had the Apple II signed at the 1984 launch event, where he represented his institution.

“At the reception following, attended by the founders of Apple, he made it a point to meet Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. In preparation for this he carried the lid from the family Apple II Plus in his briefcase,” Doyle explains in the lot description. “When he met them he had them sign the lid. It became a prized possession, and he had it framed and hung it in his home office.”

Apple products and other memorabilia signed by Jobs typically fetch high prices at auction. A first-print issue of Macworld signed by Jobs sold for $47,775 in 2018, for example. A floppy disk signed by Jobs expected to sell for at least $7,500 at auction in 2019.

Items signed by both Jobs and Woz are even rarer, since the two had a “falling-out” after Jobs stepped down from Apple in 1985.

Apple VPs talk new M1 Mac development, Intel relationship, and more

A pair of Apple vice presidents offered more details about the development and performance of the company’s M1 Apple Silicon chip in a new interview.

Apple VP of Platform Architecture Tim Millet and Apple VP of Worldwide Marketing Bob Borchers sat down via video call with YouTube channel The Tech Chap to discuss some of the intricacies of the M1 and the new Apple Silicon lineup.

“M1 is a huge step forward in terms of performance for Macs,” said Borchers. “And in real very ways, whether’s it battery life, graphics performance, or just CPU. We are talking multiples increase over previous generations.”

Millet, a part of the team who works on Apple Silicon, explained how the gains made with M1 stemmed from the Platform Architecture team’s work on Apple A-series chips.

“What we knew going in when we started building chips for the phone was these were incredibly thin and light beautiful works of art that our industrial design team creates,” Millet said. “We don’t get to tell them to increase the size of the product, increase the battery to deliver better performance.”

The job of Millet’s team then was to “figure out how to deliver that performance within the constraints of the system,” adding that performance that doesn’t translate to the real world within those constraints “doesn’t matter.”

When asked about the potential confusion for consumers about the differences between Apple Silicon and Mac chips, Borchers said the first step with M1 was to bring the proprietary chip design to some of Apple’s most popular models.

“It is a transition that will take time, so there are places where we wanted to continue to offer Intel processors and additional choice,” said Borchers.

Some of that additional choice could be users who need four ports on their Mac portables, or users who want to upgrade internal memory up to 32GB.

When asked about whether the M1 would be a 10W or 15W chip, Millet said “I think you’ll see across the different array of machines that we announced yesterday, you’re gonna see M1 at its best in every one of those enclosures.”

As an example, the M1 is able to fit in the enclosure of the MacBook Air. But with the addition of a fan in the 13-inch MacBook Pro and Mac mini models, users will see “a different level of performance,” Millet added.

At another point in the interview, Millet also expanded on how the M1 chip’s unified memory carries a number of benefits over traditional RAM.

“The CPU gets a much wider memory system to allow multi-threaded applications across our eight cores. They’re going to be unconstrained by memory bandwidth,” Millet added. “And the GPU has a high-capacity memory system getting its high bandwidth.”

When asked about whether Apple is still “friends with Intel,” Borcher said that the two companies still have a “great relationship” and that Apple still plans to ship “amazing Intel systems.”

The full interview is about half an hour and is worth a watch for anyone interested in some of the more technical details about the M1.

Hasan Minhaj joins 'The Morning Show' cast for season two

Comedian, writer, and political commentator Hasan Minhaj joins up for season two of Emmy award-winning Apple TV+ series “The Morning Show.”

Hasan Minhaj, known for his Peabody-winning Netflix show “Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj,” is set to join the cast of Apple’s newsroom drama “The Morning Show” for season two.

As pointed out by Deadline, the series marks Minhaj’s first foray into drama, as well as his highest-profile acting job to date. Minhaj will join stars such as Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, Billy Crudup, and Martin Short.

Written by Kerry Ehrin and directed by Mimi Leder, “The Morning Show” is AppleTV+’s newsroom drama centered on the world of morning news. It takes a look at the lives and ambitions of those involved in helping America wake up. The series spends a great deal of time exploring workplace power dynamics.

Apple releases extended trailer for 'Servant' season two

A new trailer for the Apple TV+ M. Night Shyamalan series sets the scene for the psychological thriller’s second season, and reminds viewers of just how “insidiously creepy” the first was.

Following a teaser video that featured reviews from the likes of Stephen King, Apple has now dropped an extended trailer for M. Night Shyamalan’s thriller series “Servant,” airing on Apple TV+.

The 68-second trailer concentrates on establishing the main story of the series, as shown through the experiences of each of its main characters. That includes Nell Tiger Free, who returns as Leanne Grayson.

“Servant” is directed by M. Night Shyamalan, and was created by British television writer Tony Basgallop. Best known in the UK for contributing to drama “Teachers,” and soaps “EastEnders,” and “Casualty,” this is his first show for Apple TV+.

Season two of “Servant” will premiere on Apple TV+ on January 15, 2021.

Apple's leather case for iPhone 12 gets an upgrade

Apple’s leather case has been updated for the new iPhone 12 line, and while MagSafe is the big addition, it contains a few other changes from its predecessors. We have them all, and here’s what you need to know.

Unlike Apple’s clear case and silicone cases, Apple’s leather case was delayed and didn’t go up for order until the iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 Pro Max went up for preorder. The leather case is available in sizes for all of Apple’s iPhone 12 line including the iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, and iPhone 12 Pro Max. As a reminder, the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 rock the same size case.

At the same time, Apple released the leather case, it also listed its leather sleeve for the new phones. Other than that leather sleeve that isn’t available to order at the time of this review, we have them all.

A minor note, the boxes between the Apple silicone cases differ. Apple has elevated the packaging just a bit, making it a bit more premium to go with the nicer cases. They aren’t sealed with a sticker, but instead, have an elegant locking mechanism that “pops” open when you pull the top of the packaging.

Some new colors

Apple has five colorways for its signature leather case. We have Baltic Blue, California Poppy, Saddle Brown, (PRODUCT)RED, and of course — black.

Apple's leather case colors from left to right: California Poppy, (PRODUCT)RED, Black, Saddle Brown, Baltic Blue

Apple’s leather case colors from left to right: California Poppy, (PRODUCT)RED, Black, Saddle Brown, Baltic Blue

If any of those colors sound vaguely familiar, it’s because Apple is pulling from its color wheel of existing leather accessories. The new Leather Link for example comes in Baltic Blue, Californian Poppy, Saddle Brown, and black.

Apple's Leather Link band compared to the Baltic Blue leather case

Apple’s Leather Link band compared to the Baltic Blue leather case

Brown and black will likely continue to be the most popular colors but after using them them, we’re partial to the California Poppy and the Baltic Blue. The California Poppy is kind of a light caramel brown and is different, while not being too wild. It (obviously) matches our Poppy Leather Link Apple Watch band for a complete look.

An iterative design

Apple’s leather cases have changed ever-so-slightly from Apple’s previous incarnations. Apple has made functional tweaks alongside the addition of MagSafe.

Apple's leather case covers the bottom of the phone and has anodized aluminum buttons

Apple’s leather case covers the bottom of the phone and has anodized aluminum buttons

The case covers the entirety of the bottom of your phone, rather than just covering the corners of the lower half. We preferred the more open design Apple had before, but it is hard to argue that the new cases are more protective.

Raised lip around the camera module

Raised lip around the camera module

We see new changes around the camera bump too. There is a new raised plastic lip that extends around the entirety of the camera module which should shield the lenses even further from getting scratched when set down on a rough surface.

Other signature details are still here, including the depressed Apple logo on the back, the supple leather, and the anodized aluminum side buttons. All details that set Apple’s apart from cheaper alternatives.

The leather wraps all around the edges and folds over to the inside. That gives you leather on the outside, as well as on the interior edges too. The back panel is covered with a microfiber lining and a plastic ring in the center to denote its MagSafe magnetic ring. Speaking of which…

MagSafe… the new connector on the block

Aside from the changes to the design, Apple has MagSafe baked in here as well. We’ve already talked at length about MagSafe — we’ve broken down how it works, as well as what it can do — and won’t do so again here.

California Poppy leather case

California Poppy leather case with MagSafe charger

We do though want to mention why it is imperative to include MagSafe in the case that you use if you want to utilize MagSafe accessories. It is plausible you could adorn your iPhone 12 Pro with a non-MagSafe case and still use the MagSafe charger. But if you try to use a MagSafe mount, dock, wallet, or other accessories, putting a case in between will weaken the magnetic attraction, because of physical separation between the peripheral and the iPhone enclosure’s magnets.

A weaker magnetic pull between the phone and the accessory can easily result in your phone or accessory breaking free, with one or the other tumbling away. Nobody wants this, so when choosing a case, keep MagSafe in mind.

One thing we haven’t experienced yet in our limited time with the cases is the wear-in on the back that Apple itself has warned users about. The last image on Apple’s site is a warning of the ring that will in all likelihood develop with copious MagSafe use, just from constant compression. Apple advises users to choose the silicone case if the ring is a problem for you.

Leather can compress and develops a patina over time so it makes sense that a magnetic ring on the back of the case would eventually result in a wear mark and depression.

  • All-encompassing design
  • Metal, tactile buttons
  • MagSafe integration
  • Great feel and colors
  • Matches new leather link bands
  • Develops a great patina over time
  • Fairly expensive
  • MagSafe can leave a mark

Where to buy

The Apple Leather Case with MagSafe for the iPhone 12 Pro Max can be ordered in your choice of five colors at Amazon, with each retailing for $59.

B&H is also accepting orders for the new iPhone cases, with free expedited shipping within the contiguous U.S.

Apple joins industry group working on 6G in North America

Apple and other prominent technology and networking companies have joined an industry group that’s working to advance cellular technology in North America to 6G and beyond.

Credit: Andrew O'Hara, AppleInsiderCredit: Andrew O’Hara, AppleInsider

The Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS) on Thursday announced the addition of 11 Founding Members, including Apple, Charter, google, VMWare, HP, and Cisco, among others.

Read more…

Pixelmator Pro gets redesign for macOS Big Sur, native Apple Silicon support

The new Pixelmator Pro 2.0 is claimed to be the largest redesign of the already regularly-updated image editor, bringing new Apple Silicon-powered Super Resolution, and customizable workspaces.

Pixelmator Pro 2.0Pixelmator Pro 2.0

Mac image editor Pixelmator Pro has seen significant feature additions throughout 2020, but it is now to be completely redesigned with version 2.0. It’s been reworked visually to surface the most popular controls, and it has also been optimized for both macOS Big Sur and Apple Silicon M1.

Read more…

What happened during the troubled Big Sur launch, and why Apple can't let it happen again

Apple’s Big Sur updated needed to go smoothly, and instead it caused disruption worldwide even for users who weren’t trying to download it.

Anyone can make mistakes. And very few companies can deliver a revamped operating system to millions of users without problems. However, Apple is one of those firms that can do it, it’s one that has done it extraordinarily successfully.

It’s also the one that on Thursday got it startlingly wrong. In 2020, at the dawn of Apple Silicon, when consumer trust needs to be maintained at all cost during a big hardware transition, Apple cannot allow this week’s errors to ever happen again.

Ready or not

If we’ve all previously wondered whether iOS 13 was a little bit jinxed, macOS Big Sur has definitely been a problem child. It is the biggest update to macOS in years, but it’s also had what has seemed to be a very extended beta period.

Right up to the end, that beta didn’t seem to be closing in on the kind of robust, finished version that could be delivered to the public. It rolled out on November 12, though, and it was ready.

Only, instead of checking out Software Update in System Preferences, take a look at the macOS Big Sur entry in the Mac App Store. The latest version, the one announced and revealed on November 12, was actually uploaded and ready to distribute on November 9. It has not been changed or updated since then.

So it had been ready to release in time for Apple’s unveiling of the Apple Silicon M1 Macs, but Apple chose to hold it back for three days. There was no apparent technical reason for it, nothing within the update it self. But what there was in those days, was the initial pre-order phase for the new Macs.

There could be one or two meetings going on in Apple Park about these problems

There could be one or two meetings going on in Apple Park about these problems

Apple cannot have expected a software release to impact on the online Apple Store. But if it did know that there was a risk of a serious problem, it can have expected that its resources would be stretched if it were simultaneously trying to handle a lot of sales transactions. And it could have done more to prevent it.

The move to Apple Silicon

You can’t fault any company for balancing its resources, for deploying its efforts strategically. But this was part of the transition to Apple Silicon, a gigantic move that Apple has to get right.

What’s more, it’s a gigantic move that Apple had already done a great job of convincing us that it would get right. Even if you weren’t using Macs around the transitions to PowerPC or Intel, Apple’s really well presented explanations of what it is doing, when, and why, are remarkable.

Those explanations, this expectation Apple has built up so well, they are all remarkably punctured when the company stumbles. It’s not as if this were just something like Big Sur taking a long time to download because of demand, though that was part of it.

It was that the problems downloading Big Sur affected Mac users around the world — including ones who were not trying to get the new macOS at all. Apps that were working just fine on Macs with macOS Catalina were suddenly not launching.

That was not a demand problem, that was a mistake. To run your apps, you just had to disconnect from the internet or use an app like Little Snitch to block some traffic, and all was fine.

Naturally, you couldn’t download Big Sur if you weren’t online, but to get on with your work, you had to figure out this workaround. So however many people were watching that very, very slow download of macOS Big Sur, there were countless others who weren’t downloading it but still could not do their work.

There are likely to be some people in Apple Park having a very bad day today, and the conversations will be chiefly about what went wrong with the Big Sur download. But they should also include examining how users were abandoned.

Apple didn’t tell users what was going on, it didn’t change error messages to ask people to try later. It took users to figure out what was going so wrong, and it took users to devise this workaround.

It wasn’t about demand

It’s also a little too easy to blame the problems on just how many people were trying to download macOS Big Sur. This was a failing, it isn’t an excuse to claim Big Sur is popular.

Again, there aren’t many companies that can push out an OS update to so many users, but this is was actually one of Apple’s smaller cases.

True, macOS Big Sur was a very large file to download, but according to Apple’s last unit sales volume data from a few years ago, there are at least 20 iPhone users to ever one Mac owner – and this ratio has surely only increased with time. So iOS 14, for example, was a far bigger deal to distribute from a volume of data perspective.

Apple can do OS distributions at large scale. Apple has now done this many, many times. And, it does it with popular media as well — the download crushes from a new Disney movie are fairly incredible, we understand, with 4k movies of similar size as Thursday’s Big Sur download.

It hasn’t been without incident, though, it hasn’t been that everything has always gone so smoothly that Apple could be forgiven for relaxing. While nothing like this week’s issues have come up before, macOS Mojave caused a lot of problems at first.

Yet if the next year’s macOS Catalina saw issues with people’s older apps failing, that was the move to 64-bits, it wasn’t an error. So for all the disruption that the Big Sur problems caused, it isn’t a case of Apple not being up to the task.

It is a case of mistakes. They were just costly mistakes that came at a time when Apple needs to be rock-solid with its releases.

'AirTags' appear to include privacy features to stop unwanted tracking

Apple looks to be including safety and privacy features in its “AirTags” accessory that could address concerns about unwanted tracking or stalking via the Find My app.

Those features were revealed by code strings buried in the first developer beta of iOS 14.3, which was briefly released and then pulled on Thursday.

Developer and MacRumors contributor Steve Moser, who was able to download the beta before it was pulled, spotted discovered the new “AirTags” features.

One of the code strings reads “If you feel your safety is at risk due to this item, contact your local law enforcement. You may need the serial number of this item.”

Another piece of evidence indicates that Apple could alert users with an “unknown accessory detected” prompt if they are carrying a tracking device that doesn’t belong to them. “This item has been moving with you for a while. The owner can see its location,” an alert reads.

Apple may also provide instructions on how to disassemble an unfamiliar “AirTags” tracking device so that users can stop sharing their location.

The security and safety features should help address concerns about unwanted tracking and stalking, such as if a bad actor surreptitiously places an AirTag device in someone’s bag.

Other “AirTags” evidence found within the first iOS 14.3 beta include information on the initial setup process, apparent compatibility of the Find My app with third-party tracking devices, and a feature that allows a user to scan an AirTag and bring up its owners information.