With the spring comes color from Apple. The new iMacs are offered in 7 different shades including a nice deep purple. As a refresh to the lineup, Apple has also released an iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini in a purple hue as well. I have a preview unit in hand to look at and so look at it I did. The color is great, closer to a violet on the sides and a lilac on the back.
This is a great color. In my opinion probably the best color of iPhone 12 released so far. Apple releasing this new purple shade also, to me, says to the people that love the mini: don’t worry this will still be available for a while. But, conversely, it could be a sign that this version of the mini might be the only one we get for a while. Maybe I’m reading into it too much and this is a ‘because we could’ thematic tie-in that offers a new option for spring buyers. Either way, it’s a really nice looking phone that ties into the ‘millenial purple‘ (read: lilac) trend that is booming in design and fashion right now. Apple’s color theory team is always pretty well on trend, so no change here.
Apple has also released a nice purple silicon case which complements it well.
If you want a deep dive on the seriously capable offering that the iPhone 12 mini is, feel free to reference our review from late last year.
Here are some nice pictures of the purple iPhone 12 mini for you to look at:
I’ve been playing around with Apple’s new AirTag location devices for a few hours now and they seem to work pretty much as advertised. The setup flow is simple and clean, taking clear inspiration from the one Apple developed for AirPods. The precision finding feature enabled by the U1 chip works as a solid example of utility-driven augmented reality, popping up a virtual arrow and other visual identifiers on the screen to make finding a tag quicker.
The basic way that AirTags work, if you’re not familiar, is that they use Bluetooth beaconing technology to announce their presence to any nearby devices running iOS 14.5 and above. These quiet pings are encrypted and invisible (usually) to any passer by, especially if they are with their owners. This means that no one ever knows what device actually ‘located’ your AirTag, not even Apple.
With you, by the way, means in relative proximity to a device signed in to the iCloud account that the AirTags are registered to. Bluetooth range is typically in the ~40 foot range depending on local conditions and signal bounce.
In my very limited testing so far, AirTag location range fits in with that basic Bluetooth expectation. Which means that it can be foiled by a lot of obstructions or walls or an unflattering signal bounce. It often took 30 seconds or more to get an initial location from an AirTag in another room, for instance. Once the location was received, however, the instructions to locate the device seemed to update quickly and were extremely accurate down to a few inches.
The AirTags run for a year on a standard CR2032 battery that’s user replaceable. They offer some water resistance including submersion for some time. There are a host of accessories that seem nicely designed like leather straps for bags, luggage tags and key rings.
As with anything to do with location, security and privacy are a top of mind situation for AirTags, and Apple has some protections in place.
You cannot share AirTags — they are meant to be owned by one person. The only special privileges offered by people in your iCloud Family Sharing Group is that they can silence the ‘unknown AirTag nearby’ alerts indefinitely. This makes AirTags useful for things like shared sets of keys or maybe even a family pet. This means that AirTags will not show up on your family Find My section like other iOS devices might. There is now a discrete section within the app just for ‘Items’ including those with Find My functionality built in.
The other privacy features include a ‘warning’ that will trigger after some time that a tag is in your proximity and NOT in the proximity of its owner (aka, traveling with you perhaps in a bag or car). Your choices are then to make the tag play a sound to locate it — look at its information including serial number and to disable it by removing its battery.
Any AirTag that has been away from its owner for a while — this time is variable and Apple will tweak it over time as it observes how AirTags work — will start playing a sound whenever it is moved. This will alert people to its presence.
You can, of course, also place an AirTag into Lost Mode, offering a choice to share personal information with anyone who locates it as it plays an alert sound. Anyone with any smart device with NFC, Android included, can tap the device to see a webpage with information that you choose to share. Or just a serial number if you do not choose to do so.
This scenario addresses what happens if you don’t have an iOS device to alert you to a foreign AirTag in your presence, as it will eventually play a sound even if it is not in lost mode and the owner has no control over that.
It’s clear that Apple has thought through many of the edge cases, but some could still crop up as it rolls out, we’ll have to see.
Apple has some distinct market advantages here:
Nearly a billion devices out in the world that can help to locate an AirTag.
A built-in U1 wideband chip that communicates with a similar U1 chip in iPhones to enable super precise (down to inches) location.
A bunch of privacy features that don’t appear on competing tags.
Important to note that Apple has announced the development of a specification for chipset makers that lets third-party devices with Ultra Wideband radios access the U1 chip onboard iPhones ‘later this Spring’. This should approximate the Precision Finding feature’s utility in accessories that don’t have the advantage of having a U1 built in like the AirTags do. And, of course, Apple has opened up the entire Find My mesh network to third party devices from Belkin, Chipolo and VanMoof that want to offer a similar basic finding function as offered by AirTags. Tile has announced plans to offer a UWB version of its tracker as well, even as it testified in Congress yesterday that Apple’s advantages made its entry into this market unfair.
It will be interesting to see these play out once AirTags are out getting lost in the wild. I have had them for under 12 hours so I’ve not been able to test edge cases, general utility in public spaces or anything like that.
The Internet of Things has a security problem. The past decade has seen wave after wave of new internet-connected devices, from sensors through to webcams and smart home tech, often manufactured in bulk but with little — if any — consideration to security. Worse, many device manufacturers make no effort to fix security flaws, while others simply leave out the software update mechanisms needed to deliver patches altogether.
That sets up an entire swath of insecure and unpatchable devices to fail, and destined to be thrown out when they break down or are invariably hacked.
Security veteran Window Snyder thinks there is a better way. Her new startup, Thistle Technologies, is backed with $2.5 million in seed funding from True Ventures with the goal of helping IoT manufacturers reliably and securely deliver software updates to their devices.
Snyder founded Thistle last year, and named it after the flowering plant with sharp prickles designed to deter animals from eating them. “It’s a defense mechanism,” Snyder told TechCrunch, a name that’s fitting for a defensive technology company. The startup aims to help device manufacturers without the personnel or resources to integrate update mechanisms into their device’s software in order to receive security updates and better defend against security threats.
“We’re building the means so that they don’t have to do it themselves. They want to spend the time building customer-facing features anyway,” said Snyder. Prior to founding Thistle, Snyder worked in senior cybersecurity positions at Apple, Intel, and Microsoft, and also served as chief security officer at Mozilla, Square, and Fastly.
Thistle lands on the security scene at a time when IoT needs it most. Botnet operators are known to scan the internet for devices with weak default passwords and hijack their internet connections to pummel victims with floods of internet traffic, knocking entire websites and networks offline. In 2016, a record-breaking distributed denial-of-service attack launched by the Mirai botnet on internet infrastructure giant Dyn knocked some of the biggest websites — Shopify, SoundCloud, Spotify, Twitter — offline for hours. Mirai had ensnared thousands of IoT devices into its network at the time of the attack.
Other malicious hackers target IoT devices as a way to get a foot into a victim’s network, allowing them to launch attacks or plant malware from the inside.
Since device manufacturers have done little to solve their security problems among themselves, lawmakers are looking at legislating to curb some of the more egregious security mistakes made by default manufacturers, like using default — and often unchangeable — passwords and selling devices with no way to deliver security updates.
California paved the way after passing an IoT security law in 2018, with the U.K. following shortly after in 2019. The U.S. has no federal law governing basic IoT security standards.
Snyder said the push to introduce IoT cybersecurity laws could be “an easy way for folks to get into compliance” without having to hire fleets of security engineers. Having an update mechanism in place also helps to keeps the IoT devices around for longer — potentially for years longer — simply by being able to push fixes and new features.
“To build the infrastructure that’s going to allow you to continue to make those devices resilient and deliver new functionality through software, that’s an incredible opportunity for these device manufacturers. And so I’m building a security infrastructure company to support that security needs,” she said.
With the seed round in the bank, Snyder said the company is focused on hiring device and back-end engineers, product managers, and building new partnerships with device manufacturers.
Phil Black, co-founder of True Ventures — Thistle’s seed round investor — described the company as “an astute and natural next step in security technologies.” He added: “Window has so many of the qualities we look for in founders. She has deep domain expertise, is highly respected within the security community, and she’s driven by a deep passion to evolve her industry.”
In today’s antitrust hearing in the U.S. Senate, Apple and Google representatives were questioned on whether they have a “strict firewall” or other internal policies in place that prevent them from leveraging the data from third-party businesses operating on their app stores to inform the development of their own competitive products. Apple, in particular, was called out for the practice of copying other apps by Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), who said the practice had become so common that it earned a nickname with Apple’s developer community: “sherlocking.”
Sherlock, which has its own Wikipedia entry under software, comes from Apple’s search tool in the early 2000s called Sherlock. A third-party developer, Karelia Software, created an alternative tool called Watson. Following the success of Karelia’s product, Apple added Watson’s same functionality into its own search tool, and Watson was effectively put out of business. The nickname “Sherlock” later became shorthand for any time Apple copies an idea from a third-party developer that threatens to or even destroys their business.
During his questioning, Blumenthal asked Apple and Google’s representatives at the hearing — Kyle Andeer, Apple’s
chief compliance officer and Wilson White, Google’s senior director of Public Policy & Government Relations, respectively — if they employed any sort of “firewall” in between their app stores and their business strategy.
Andeer somewhat dodged the question, saying, “Senator, if I understand the question correctly, we have separate teams that manage the App Store and that are engaged in product development strategy here at Apple.”
Blumenthal then clarified what he meant by “firewall.” He explained that it doesn’t mean whether or not there are separate teams in place, but whether there’s an internal prohibition on sharing data between the App Store and the people who run Apple’s other businesses.
Andeer then answered, “Senator, we have controls in place.”
He went on to note that over the past 12 years, Apple has only introduced “a handful of applications and services,” and in every instance, there are “dozens of alternatives” on the App Store. And, sometimes, the alternatives are more popular than Apple’s own product, he noted.
“We don’t copy. We don’t kill. What we do is offer up a new choice and a new innovation,” Andeer stated.
His argument may hold true when there are strong rivalries, like Spotify versus Apple Music, or Netflix versus Apple TV+, or Kindle versus Apple Books. But it’s harder to stretch it to areas where Apple makes smaller enhancements — like when Apple introduced Sidecar, a feature that allowed users to make their iPad a secondary display. Sidecar ended the need for a third-party app, after apps like Duet and Luna first proved the market.
Another example was when Apple built screen-time controls into its iOS software, but didn’t provide the makers of third-party screen-time apps with an API so consumers could use their preferred apps to configure Apple’s Screen Time settings via the third-party’s specialized interface or take advantage of other unique features.
Blumenthal said he interpreted Andeer’s response as to whether Apple has a “data firewall” as a “no.”
Posed the same question, Google’s representative, White, said his understanding was that Google had “data access controls in place that govern how data from our third-party services are used.”
Apple crammed quite a few announcements into a short, one-hour presentation yesterday: new iPad Pros, new iMacs, a new Apple TV 4K, and the long-rumored launch of AirTags, to name a few. But for everything Apple executives and product managers said onstage, there was something else that didn’t get mentioned (or got passed over quickly, perhaps).
Many of these smaller details were hidden on product, specs, or support pages after Apple updated its website with the event’s new products. This isn’t a comprehensive list of all the things that changed on Apple’s website, but we’re picking some of the most interesting ones.
Apple announces new devices, Amazon opens a hair salon and Venmo adds cryptocurrency support. This is your Daily Crunch for April 20, 2021.
The big story: Apple announces a new iPad Pro and much more
Apple revealed a bunch of new products at its press event today. As expected, there’s going to be a new iPad Pro that’s supposed to represent a 50% performance increase over the previous model, with pricing starting at $799 for an 11-inch model.
Today’s Apple event, chock-full of the company’s products that will help decide whether the company meets, exceeds or undershoots Wall Street expectations for its future growth and performance, had little to no impact on its share price.
By now this is the theme: Apple announces a slew of new products, services, software or peripherals, and its share price does nothing. It’s almost humorous; certainly Apple’s shares can move in the wake of an earnings release, but a new product digest? Not so much.
Or at least not as long as TechCrunch has been paying attention (here’s more evidence). It’s almost like Apple’s customers — and the press — care rabidly about what the company builds. And are very vocal about it. While investors are essentially at lunch the entire time.
Today, for example, Apple shares closed the day off 1.28% and have since fallen a further 0.36%. Apple stock closed the day worth $133.11 per share and was worth $133.40 at the time its event kicked off. So, the event hardly prevented the company from losing more ground.
To avoid being cliché I won’t paste the are you not entertained gif here, but it’s warranted. In short, this is what Apple stock did today, as investors were too focused on numbers to look upstream from revenue at the products that will drive the numbers that they later parse and come to a firm conclusion.
Now that Apple’s lost item finder AirTag has officially been introduced, competitor Tile is going on record ahead of its testimony in front of Congress tomorrow about how it perceives Apple’s latest product. The company says it will be asking Congress on Wednesday to take a closer look into Apple’s business practices, and specifically its entry in this lost item tracking category.
Tile has been a strong Apple critic since it learned that Apple would soon launch its own device to take on Tile’s leading lost item finder beacons. Tile had successfully carved out a market for its Bluetooth-powered keychain dongles which allow consumers to find the lost items Tile attaches to — like purses, luggage, keys, bikes, wallets, and more. It also introduced the idea of a “finding network,” where everyone with the Tile app installed on their phone could help to locate someone else’s Tile, in the case that a lost item was out of Bluetooth range of its owner.
With AirTag, Apple is reproducing these capabilities, while also adding support for more precise ultra-wideband technology, integrating AirTag into its first-party “Find My” app, and leveraging its larger iPhone install base to help find missing items. This presents significant competition to Tile, which is not only expected to face off with Apple’s AirTag across Apple’s own devices, but also share a portion of its subscription revenues from in-app purchases with Apple thanks to App Store policies.
Ahead of AirTag’s launch, Apple moved to head off any sort of anti-competitive claims by opening up access to its “Find My” app to third parties. It even partnered with a Tile competitor, the Chipolo ONE Spot, to serve as proof that it’s giving other lost item finders that compete with AirTag equal footing on its iPhone platform. But Tile’s argument to date has been that it doesn’t want to give up the direct relationship it has with customers via its own iOS app to instead support Apple’s “Find My” users, and that Apple’s mere decision to enter this market with its own item-locating tracker will allow it to easily dominate because of its first-party advantage and ecosystem power.
The companies are arguing against Apple’s in-app commissions, the so-called “Apple tax,” which Apple recently reduced for smaller businesses. Many larger companies do not want to pay Apple at all — they want to process their own payments directly to retain all the revenue collected. They also want a more direct relationship with customers, not one where Apple is the middleman. And in some cases like Tile and Spotify, the companies don’t feel it’s fair that they’re paying money to Apple when Apple directly competes with their business through its own first-party apps.
In a statement released today following Apple’s event, Tile CEO CJ Prober again publicly criticized Apple’s move into a market Tile created, saying:
Our mission is to solve the everyday pain point of finding lost and misplaced things and we are flattered to see Apple, one of the most valuable companies in the world, enter and validate the category Tile pioneered.
The reason so many people turn to Tile to locate their lost or misplaced items is because of the differentiated value we offer our consumers. In addition to providing an industry leading set of features via our app that works with iOS and Android devices, our service is seamlessly integrated with all major voice assistants, including Alexa and Google. And with form factors for every use case and many different styles at affordable prices, there is a Tile for everyone.
Tile has also successfully partnered with top brands like HP, Intel, Skullcandy, and fitbit to enable our finding technology in mass market consumer categories like laptops, earbuds, and wearables. With over 30 partners, we look forward to extending the benefits of Tile to millions of customers and enabling an experience that helps you keep track of all your important belongings.
We welcome competition, as long as it is fair competition. Unfortunately, given Apple’s well documented history of using its platform advantage to unfairly limit competition for its products, we’re skeptical. And given our prior history with Apple, we think it is entirely appropriate for Congress to take a closer look at Apple’s business practices specific to its entry into this category. We welcome the opportunity to discuss these issues further in front of Congress tomorrow.
From tweaks to the Apple Card to all new iMacs and iPads, Apple crammed this one-hour event with news. Don’t have time to sit down and click through every last announcement? We’ve slimmed it down to just the key points for maximum skimmability. Enjoy!
Image Credits: Apple
Apple kicked things off with a quick but key mention outlining a shift in how Apple Card works. “Apple Card Family” will allow you to share your card with anyone in your family over the age of 13, with customizable spending limits for each added user. You’ll also now be able to “co-own” an Apple card with another adult, with both owners building up their credit equally.
Image Credits: Apple
Apple will launch a redesigned Podcast app, including an option for paid subscriptions (monthly or annual) to individual podcasts.
Image Credits: Apple
No new iPhone this time (those come later in the year, generally), but the existing iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini are getting a new color option: purple. They used a song from Willy Wonka to announce it, because… well, purple.
Image Credits: Apple
After literal years of rumors and leaks, Apple has at long last officially announced its accessory for tracking things like keys, wallets, and bags through the same “Find My” app you use to find your various Apple devices when you lose them in the couch.
Called “AirTag” (curiously, not ‘AirTags’), Apple says they’ll cost $29 each or $99 for a four pack, and launch on April 30th. They’ll have user-replaceable batteries but, oddly, no built-in attachment loop; if you want to attach it to something like a keyring, you’ll need to add a case. Which, of course, they’ll be making and selling.
You can use an iPhone to calibrate the picture. Start the calibration, point your iPhone’s camera at your display, and Apple TV 4K will automatically optimize its own output accordingly.
They’ve redesigned the remote! They’ve moved away from the much lamented touchpad remote, building this new remote around a five-way click pad complete with iPod-esque scroll wheel. There’s a Siri button on the side, in case you feel like talking to your TV instead of pushing buttons. Word is (via WSJ’s Joanna Stern) they’ll also be selling this remote separately for $59.
$179 for 32GB model or $199 for 64GB.
Time for the iMac to shift over to M1! Apple announced a new lineup of iMacs — and in a throwback to the iMacs of yesteryear, these new ones will come in an array of fancy colors. Here are the highlights:
Built around the absurdly zippy M1 chipset Apple first introduced into its laptops last year
Apple just announced the new iMac powered by Apple’s own M1 silicon. Among the numerous updates and upgrades is a new power brick that sports something special to Apple’s lineup: an Ethernet port. On the surface, this seems like a silly placement of a critical I/O port, but there’s a good chance this feature could hit future Apple laptops where it makes much more sense.
The M1 iMac sports a new design that’s much thinner than the last generation and Apple likely didn’t want to make room for the Ethernet port. The only I/O ports appear to be a 3.5mm jack and several USB-C ports. The power adapter itself has a new magnetic connector and doesn’t use one of the computer’s USB-C ports. The Ethernet port was relegated to the power supply.
There are several advantages for this placement. It reduces clutter on the back of the computer and streamlines connectivity — items that are even more critical in a portable computer.
Apple famously shares components and accessories across its product line, making it very likely this power brick will come to other products. Apple started removing the magnetic MagSafe power connector when its laptops adopted USB-C in 2016, and it would be fantastic to see a similar product return to the product line. Apple removed the Ethernet port on the MacBook Pro in 2012.
Several companies offer add-ons for Apple power adapters. These, like the Twelve South PlugBug Duo, add USB ports to the adapters, but none have yet to offer Ethernet.
The big news from today’s Spring Loaded event is, as anticipated, a new version of Apple’s high-end tablet. The new iPad Pro is the first in the line to adopt the M1 chip introduced on the company’s Mac line. The device further blurs the line between the company’s tablet and desktop offerings, as well as improved battery life now listed as “all day.” The Pro also swaps the standard USB-C for Thunderbolt, which allows for a number of new features including external display support.
The Pro also joins the iPhone line with the addition of 5G connectivity. Like the new iMac, the pro features improved imaging, courtesy of the new ISP aboard the Apple silicon. That’s coupled with a new ultra-wide camera.
Apple has unveiled a new, colorful iMac today with an Apple-designed M1 chip. But that was just part of the story as the company used that opportunity to release new Mac accessories. In addition to a Magic Trackpad and a Magic Mouse with multiple color options, Apple is bringing Touch ID to desktop Macs with a new Magic Keyboard.
Touch ID on desktop works as expected. There’s a fingerprint sensor located at the top right of the keyboard. It replaces the ‘Eject’ key that you can find on existing Apple keyboards. It lets you unlock your computer, pay with Apple Pay, unlock a password manager and more.
Interestingly, Touch ID works wirelessly, which means that you don’t have to connect your keyboard to your Mac with a Lightning cable. There’s a dedicated security component built in the keyboard. It communicates directly with the Secure Enclave in the M1, which means that it only works with modern Mac computers with an M1 chip. It’s going to be interesting to see the security implementation of this new take on Touch ID.
Customers can choose between three keyboard models when they buy a new iMac. Some iMac models probably don’t come with Touch ID by default. You may be able to buy the keyboard separately, but we’ll have to wait for the event to end to find out how much the new keyboard costs.
(Almost) everything about the new M1 iMac in a nutshell. [credit: Apple ]
Apple announced iMac updates today at its event in Brooklyn, New York. As expected, the updates improve the desktop’s performance with new processors while maintaining the design we’ve known iMacs to have for the past couple of years.
Apple says the new system was designed from the ground up around the M1 system on a chip (SoC), allowing for a much smaller motherboard and cooling system than that seen in the company’s earlier Intel-powered iMacs. The new iMac’s overall volume is down by 50 percent and comes in at only 11 mm thick, with a single sheet of glass across the entire front of the device.
The iMac comes with a 4.5K Retina 24-inch display with very small bezels, resulting in a device not much larger than earlier 21-inch iMacs. The new displays also include TruTone technology, which dynamically adjusts color temperature in response to changes in the surrounding ambient light.
Apple announced a new Apple TV 4K today, which will come with a new Siri Remote.
In addition to the existing Siri support, this new aluminum remote features a redesigned clickpad that allows for circular gestures in the outer ring, which viewers can use to quickly find the scene they’re looking for. And to eliminate the need to reach for another remote, it also includes a mute button and a power button for your actual TV.
The new Apple TV 4K is built with Apple’s A12 Bionic chip, which the company says will allow it to support higher-quality video, specifically high frame rate HDR and Dolby Vision at 60 frames per second.
Of course, picture quality also depends on the TV itself. But Apple announced a new feature to address the situation, and it’s not limited to people who purchase the new device. To improve the color balance on their TV, any Apple TV owner should be able to use the light sensor in their iPhone to measure their current balance, and the output from their Apple TV will be adjusted accordingly.
The new Apple TV 4K will be available for $179 for 32 gigabytes (or $199 if you want to double the storage capacity), with orders starting on April 30 and availability in the second of May. You’ll also be able to buy an Apple TV HD with the new Siri Remote for $149, or the remote alone for $59.
“With the A12 Bionic and the all-new Siri Remote, Apple TV 4K lets customers enjoy their favorite shows, movies, and more in the highest quality, with simple and intuitive controls,” said Apple Vice President of Worldwide Marketing Bob Borchers in a statement. “And of course, Apple TV 4K offers easy access to Apple services, along with thousands of apps on the App Store for even more entertainment options.”
The new iPad Pro. It looks just like the old iPad Pro. [credit: Apple ]
Apple took the virtual stage at its “Spring Loaded” event today to announce an update to the iPad Pro. The big surprise is that the new iPad Pros have the M1 SoC, just like full-blown Mac computers.
Apple says the eight-core CPU will deliver 50 percent faster performance compared to the previous iPad Pro, and the eight-core GPU delivers up to 40 percent faster graphics performance. Storage is faster, too, with a 2x performance improvement, and there’s a new 2TB configuration.
The USB-C port is being upgraded with Thunderbolt compatibility, allowing the iPad to power additional displays with up to 6K resolution and other accessories. There’s also optional mmWave 5G onboard. The new front camera is a 12 MP wide-angle lens. A tracking feature called “Center Stage” will automatically pan a video-chat image to keep you in the frame as you move around.
Apple introduced new iMacs at its event on Tuesday, outfitted with its M1 processor and redesigned inside and out from the ground up. The hardware is impressive, but one of the biggest improvements for everyone’s Zoom-heavy life might be the webcam. Apple said it’s the “best camera ever in a Mac,” which honestly wouldn’t take much, but its specs suggest it actually is a big upgrade.
The camera finally achieves 1080p video capabilities, and Apple has also equipped it with a larger sensor that should provide greatly-improved low light performance. The M1 chip has better image signal processing capabilities, and uses computational video powers to correct and improve the image on the fly, which has brought benefits to the image quality even on existing MacBook Air and MacBook Pro hardware with the same old, bad webcam equipment.
That should mean this iMac actually has really good image quality — or at least not image quality you need to be embarrassed about. The on-board machine learning processor in the M1, which Apple calls the Neural Engine, will be working in real-time to optimize lighting and do noise reduction, too.
On top of the camera, Apple touts new beam forming mics in a three-mic array that will optimize audio, focusing on your voice and eliminating background noise. All told, this should finally be a Mac that provides a videoconferencing experience that doesn’t feel like it’s stuck in the early 2000s.
After years of waiting, Apple has finally given the world a dramatic new iMac redesign, aimed at the company’s long-standing goal of “making the computer disappear.” That, of course, only applies to the the thin new design, because these things are eye-popping. Naturally, the latest version of the 24-inch all-in-one desktop is built around the company’s new proprietary M1 chips.
The screen sports a 4.5K Retina Display, coupled with a 1080p camera — a first for the Mac line, and a sign the company is taking both audio and video more seriously as these products are serving as a kind of life line for the work from home crowd. True Tone is, naturally, on board for better color balance, and sound have been improved with six-speaker setup.
The new devices are significantly thinner — with overall volume reduced by half, according to the company. The rear is also flat, instead of curved. In addition to allowing for a much thinner design, the new chip allows for far faster performance than previous models — a huge performance bump we’ve seen in our own testing of the most recent generation of Macs. All told, the company says it’s up to 85% faster than the last model, coupled with a GPU that’s up to twice as fast and 3x the machine learning.
Around back are two Thunderbolt ports and a new magnetic power adapter that also delivers Ethernet.
The system comes in seven colors. It starts at $1,299 (with four colors — you unlock all seven at $1,499). It goes up for pre-order April 30 and starts shipping in the second half of May.
The Apple TV 4K set-top box will receive some needed upgrades, particularly to the remote. Today at an event largely focused on the new M1-powered iMacs, Apple told attending press and livestream viewers that the device will begin shipping with the A12 Bionic CPU inside it. The previous model introduced in 2017 included the A10X.
The A10X was a system-on-a-chip that included several components including a CPU and GPU; it was included in Apple’s 2017 iPad Pro tablets and is based on the same architecture as the iPhone. (The iPhone chips lack the X or Z in the name—for example, A13 or A14.) The A10X and the A12 Bionic are more powerful than their iPhone counterparts, though, especially when it comes to graphics performance.
The Apple TV 4K uses the chip for image processing—for example, to upscale and code 1080p, standard-dynamic-range content for 4K HDR displays. The A12 bionic further enables 4k high frame rate HDR. However, few if any critics or users reported that the Apple TV 4K was performing sluggishly or needed an upgrade here.
Apple has added a new color option to the iPhone 12 lineup — a rare mid-cycle facelift for the company’s flagship product. The new color is purple, and looks like a lavender-ish pastel hue, which is in keeping with the tones on the rest of the color options on the 12 lineup, which include a mint green and a red that leans towards the pink end of the spectrum.
The purple iPhone 12 is going on sale starting this Friday, April 23, and will begin shipping out to customers on April 30. It’s available for iPhone 12 and 12 mini, but the iPhone 12 Pro isn’t getting any new color options to match.
It’s a small thing, but not a bad way for Apple to jazz up their hardware mid-cycle in a bid to excite general consumers. Also, it suggests Apple is leaning in even more to a multicolor aesthetic for its hardware, which is a refreshing change after a mostly monochrome approach in recent years.
Apple today officially unveiled AirTag, its location tracking beacons that can help Apple device owners find lost items through Apple’s “Find My” application. The AirTags themselves are small, rounded tracking devices that can be attached to personal items, like purses, bags or keys. Pre-orders start this Friday, and the product goes on sale April 30th, for $30. A pack of three runs $99.
The item tracking uses the company’s proprietary U1 ultra-wideband chip for what it calls “Precision Tracking.” This will work with Apple’s newer iPhones (iPhone 11, 11 Pro and the newer iPhones 12 devices).
Last year, for example, Tile spoke about AirTags before a panel of the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, saying that Apple’s decision to launch its own version of the lost-item finder gave Apple’s new product a first-party advantage over its competitors. Apple’s devices, Tile explained, would be able operate in the background without having to continually popping up requests asking users to agree to background tracking, like Tile’s app has to do. Apple’s devices would also be integrated with “Find My,” but other tags would not be.
Ahead of today’s event, Apple announced the launch of its Find My Network Accessory program, which officially opened the doors to third-party manufacturers who wanted access to the Find My app. Early adopters included VanMoof’s S3 and X3 e-bikes, Belkin’s SOUNDFORM Freedom True Wireless Earbuds, and an AirTags competitor, the Chipolo ONE Spot — but not Tile. We understand Tile doesn’t want to participate in Find My because it has a direct relationship with customers through its own iOS app that it doesn’t want to give up.
Apple’s entry in this “lost item finder” space means competitors, like Tile, will have more serious competition even with the concessions Apple has made with the opening up of “Find My.” Tile so far has responded to Apple’s plans by pre-announcing its plans to launch its own UWB-powered tracker, arriving this year. Apple’s tight hold over its ecosystem benefits its launch of new products, like AirTags, forcing Tile to focus on touting its advantages, like its wider variety of form factors and cross-platform support.
After years of increased competition from Spotify, Apple today announced its own expansion into podcast subscriptions. At the company’s spring event this afternoon, Apple unveiled its plans for a podcasts subscription service which would allow listeners to unlock “additional benefits,” like ad-free listening, early access to episodes and the ability to support favorite creators. The service will be available as part of Apple’s newly updated Podcasts app where free podcasts are also found.
The announcement of the new service follows shortly after an industry report suggested that Spotify’s podcast listeners would top Apple’s for the first time in 2021.
Apple CEO Tim Cook briefly introduced the subscription at the launch of today’s event, noting that this was “the biggest change to Apple Podcasts since its debut.” He didn’t get into the details around pricing or functionality.
Cook also noted the Apple Podcasts app had been updated, with newly redesigned show and episode pages that make it easier to listen, follow and share podcasts. The app will also include a new “Channels” feature that lets you find shows from favorite creators and get recommendations.
Apple said the new service will be available in May to listeners in more than 170 countries and regions.
In a press release, Apple said the first premium subscriptions would come from both “independent voices and premier studios,” including Tenderfoot TV, Pushkin Industries, Radiotopia from PRX, and QCODE, as well as larger brands like NPR, the Los Angeles Times, The Athletic, Sony Music Entertainment, and others.
Apple’s plans for a podcast subscription service was previously scooped by The Wall St. Journal, which said the company was preparing to add a paid subscription option to its product, as well as by Vox Media’s Peter Kafka, who said he believed Apple would introduce a paywalled podcast subscription product at today’s event. There were also hints found in the iOS 14.5 beta, which showed a redesigned Podcasts app featuring an account button on the Listen Now tab. MacRumors had reported that show notifications had been relocated here, and suggested that managing paid subscriptions may also be found in this new area in the future.
The move to enter the subscription podcast space follows years of significant investment by the Apple Podcasts and Apple Music competitor, Spotify, also a chief Apple critic.
Spotify in February noted it had tripled the number of podcasts on its platform, year-over-year, to 2.2 million. It has also forged a variety of exclusive deals over the years with big names like Joe Rogan, Kim Kardashian, DC Comics, Michelle Obama and The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, among others. And it has acquired podcast startups, ad tech and studios, including hosting and ad company Megaphone, creation tools from Anchor, content producers like Gimlet, The Ringer, and Parcast.
In a now-rare announcement of a completely new product category, Apple today introduced AirTags, a Tile-like personal location device.
AirTags can be placed in or on personal possessions to be tracked with the Find My app (formerly Find My iPhone) on iPhones, iPads, or Macs. Users can then find those devices, including those detected by any other Apple devices nearby.
The new devices play off Apple’s work in bringing augmented reality features to its devices. Users will be able to lift their phone cameras and see the locations of their AirTags positioned accurately in real physical space on the screen. Like some other similar products, AirTags will also be able to emit a noise to make them easier to find.
Back in December last year Injective Protocol, launched the testnet for its DeFi protocols for cross-chain derivatives trading, with backing from giant crypto exchange Binance. It has now raised $10 million in a “party” funding round. Participating in the round was Pantera Capital, BlockTower, Hashed, Cadenza Ventures (formerly BitMex Ventures), CMS, and QCP Capital. Billionaire NBA team owner and Shark Tank judge Mark Cuban has also made a strategic investment into Injective, according to my sources.
Injective’s main competitors (centralized and decentralized exchanges) include CME Group, BitMEX, LedgerX and OKEx, among others. The advantage of the approach used by Injective (it says) combines the advantages of decentralized exchanges: resistance to front running, scams, and hacks, with the speed, low transaction fees, and no gas fees associated with centralized platforms. Developers can also create their own derivatives and markets to trade.
Eric Chen, CEO of Injective Protocol said in a statement: “Legacy institutions and practices create a number of artificial delays and middlemen that prevent innovation in the financial markets ecosystem. At Injective, our goal is to enable an unparalleled decentralized trading experience, whereby retail traders globally can for the first time access limitless markets without the typical predatory fees and slow transaction times”.
The background to this is that Injective is essentially trying to build a decentralized competitor to Robinhood, because their platform allows the creation of synthetic tokens that represent stock in public companies like Apple and indices like S&P 500. This means meaning trading can happen 24/7 with instant finalization, as DeFi promises.
“Why do I invest in Injective: the whole stop out because of the capital requirements, Robinhood didn’t do it on purpose to hurt traders, they just didn’t have enough equity and they would have gone bankrupt because they had too many customers. But if you’re doing it in a decentralized manner every investor gets to see how much Injective has of all of this, there’s no hiding it and that creates an opportunity”, said Mark Cuban on his investment in Injective.
The potential here is that brokers wouldn’t be able to block trades on certain stocks, as they did with GameStop, as pointed out by Cuban above.
Injective’s team is drawn from Stanford University, came up with its project in 2018, and Chen was working at hedge funds and worked in cryptographic research at a blockchain-focused fund.
Today, Apple is holding a (virtual) keynote at 10 AM PT (1 PM in New York, 6 PM in London, 7 PM in Paris). And you’ll be able to watch the event right here as the company is streaming it live.
Rumor has it that Apple plans to unveil a brand new iPad Pro. In particular, Apple’s tablet could get a big display update as the company could switch to mini-LED displays. You can expect some better specifications as well.
But that’s not all, we expect to see a refreshed iPad mini. Apple could also be ready to release AirTags after many months of rumors and leaks. As always, the only way to find out is by watching the event.
You can watch the live stream directly on this page, as Apple is streaming its conference on YouTube.
If you have an Apple TV, you don’t need to download a new app. You can open the Apple TV app and find the Apple Events section. It lets you stream today’s event and rewatch old ones.
And if you don’t have an Apple TV and don’t want to use YouTube, the company also lets you live stream the event from the Apple Events section on its website. This video feed now works in all major browsers — Safari, Firefox, Microsoft Edge and Google Chrome.
One after another, Chinese tech giants have announced their plans for the auto space over the last few months. Some internet companies, like search engine provider Baidu, decided to recruit help from a traditional carmaker to produce cars. Xiaomi, which makes its own smartphones but has stressed for years it’s a light-asset firm making money from software services, also jumped on the automaking bandwagon. Industry observers are now speculating who will be the next. Huawei naturally comes to their minds.
Huawei seems well-suited for building cars — at least more qualified than some of the pure internet firms — thanks to its history in manufacturing and supply chain management, brand recognition, and vast retail network. But the telecom equipment and smartphone maker repeatedly denied reports claiming it was launching a car brand. Instead, it says its role is to be a Tier 1 supplier for automakers or OEMs (original equipment manufacturers).
Huawei is not a carmaker, the company’s rotating chairman Eric Xu reiterated recently at the firm’s annual analyst conference in Shenzhen.
“Since 2012, I have personally engaged with the chairmen and CEOs of all major car OEMs in China as well as executives of German and Japanese automakers. During this process, I found that the automotive industry needs Huawei. It doesn’t need the Huawei brand, but instead, it needs our ICT [information and communication technology] expertise to help build future-oriented vehicles,” said Xu, who said the strategy has not changed since it was incepted in 2018.
There are three major roles in auto production: branded vehicle manufacturers like Audi, Honda, Tesla, and soon Apple; Tier 1 companies that supply car parts and systems directly to carmakers, including established ones like Bosch and Continental, and now Huawei; and lastly, chip suppliers including Nvidia, Intel and NXP, whose role is increasingly crucial as industry players make strides toward highly automated vehicles. Huawei also makes in-house car chips.
“Huawei wants to be the next-generation Bosch,” an executive from a Chinese robotaxi startup told TechCrunch, asking not to be named.
Huawei makes its position as a Tier 1 supplier unequivocal. So far it has secured three major customers: BAIC, Chang’an Automobile, and Guangzhou Automobile Group.
“We won’t have too many of these types of in-depth collaboration,” Xu assured.
Arcfox, a new electric passenger car brand under state-owned carmaker BAIC, debuted its Alpha S model quipped with Huawei’s “HI” systems, short for Huawei Inside (not unlike “Powered by Intel”), during the annual Shanghai auto show on Saturday. The electric sedan, priced between 388,900 yuan and 429,900 yuan (about $60,000 and $66,000), comes with Huawei functions including an operating system driven by Huawei’s Kirin chip, a range of apps that run on HarmonyOS, automated driving, fast charging, and cloud computing.
Perhaps most eye-catching is that Alpha S has achieved Level 4 capabilities, which Huawei confirmed with TechCrunch.
That’s a bold statement, for it means that the car will not require human intervention in most scenarios, that is, drivers can take their hands off the wheels and nap.
There are some nuances to this claim, though. In a recent interview, Su Qing, general manager for autonomous driving at Huawei, said Alpha S is L4 in terms of “experience” but L2 according to “legal” responsibilities. China has only permitted a small number of companies to test autonomous vehicles without safety drivers in restricted areas and is far from letting consumer-grade driverless cars roam urban roads.
As it turned out, Huawei’s “L4” functions were shown during a demo, during which the Arcfox car traveled for 1,000 kilometers in a busy Chinese city without human intervention, though a safety driver was present in the driving seat. Automating the car is a stack of sensors, including three lidars, six millimeter-wave radars, 13 ultrasonic radars and 12 cameras, as well as Huawei’s own chipset for automated driving.
“This would be much better than Tesla,” Xu said of the car’s capabilities.
But some argue the Huawei-powered vehicle isn’t L4 by strict definition. The debate seems to be a matter of semantics.
“Our cars you see today are already L4, but I can assure you, I dare not let the driver leave the car,” Su said. “Before you achieve really big MPI [miles per intervention] numbers, don’t even mention L4. It’s all just demos.”
“It’s not L4 if you can’t remove the safety driver,” the executive from the robotaxi company argued. “A demo can be done easily, but removing the driver is very difficult.”
“This technology that Huawei claims is different from L4 autonomous driving,” said a director working for another Chinese autonomous vehicle startup. “The current challenge for L4 is not whether it can be driverless but how to be driverless at all times.”
L4 or not, Huawei is certainly willing to splurge on the future of driving. This year, the firm is on track to spend $1 billion on smart vehicle components and tech, Xu said at the analyst event.
A 5G future
Many believe 5G will play a key role in accelerating the development of driverless vehicles. Huawei, the world’s biggest telecom equipment maker, would have a lot to reap from 5G rollouts across the globe, but Xu argued the next-gen wireless technology isn’t a necessity for self-driving vehicles.
“To make autonomous driving a reality, the vehicles themselves have to be autonomous. That means a vehicle can drive autonomously without external support,” said the executive.
“Completely relying on 5G or 5.5G for autonomous driving will inevitably cause problems. What if a 5G site goes wrong? That would raise a very high bar for mobile network operators. They would have to ensure their networks cover every corner, don’t go wrong in any circumstances and have high levels of resilience. I think that’s simply an unrealistic expectation.”
Huawei may be happy enough as a Tier 1 supplier if it ends up taking over Bosch’s market. Many Chinese companies are shifting away from Western tech suppliers towards homegrown options in anticipation of future sanctions or simply to seek cheaper alternatives that are just as robust. Arcfox is just the beginning of Huawei’s car ambitions.
Surprise! It’s another Apple Event. Gone are the days of getting a few weeks’ notice before these events now that they’re entirely virtual (at least until 2022, most likely). Instead, the company just dropped the news last week.
Thankfully, there have been plenty of rumors leading up to tomorrow’s big event — and perhaps even a few hints in the invite itself. After skipping last year’s spring event, due to cresting COVID-19 numbers in the U.S., the company has grown much more comfortable dropping semi-regular livestreamed events. As ever, we’ll be covering the event as it unfolds, starting at 10AM PT/1PM ET. But here’s what we expect to see, along with the customary high-production-value sweeping-drone transitions.
The closest thing we have to a surefire bet is the arrival of new iPads, keeping in line with what looks to be a finger-drawn image on the invite. Specifically, the iPad Pro is leading the way. The high-end tablet has been rumored to be getting a refresh at some point this season, so no time like the present.
The biggest news is likely to be the addition of a mini-LED display for the 12.9-inch model (a refresh to the 11-inch is coming sometime down the road). Benefits include increased brightness, better battery life and less potential for image burn-in. The tech would arrive in the place of the OLED currently found on iPhone models.
The improved screen technology is said to add a bit of thickness to the design, which otherwise is largely unchanged. Supply constraints could ultimately put a damper on availability, so there’s a possibility that the product could be announced tomorrow, but delayed for a later date.
There’s likely to be a processor update, as well. Rumor has it that the A14X will utilize the same technology that forms the foundation of the M1 chip found on recent Macs. That could, in turn, bring a real big performance bump.
At the other end of the spectrum is the iPad mini. The 8.4-inch tablet would be getting its first major boost in two years. The updates are said to be less pronounced than on the Pro. The classic iPad design language will remain, though the device is said to be getting a performance boost courtesy of new chips. A new Apple Pencil is rumored to be on the way, as well, though details are scarce.
And could this be the event where Apple finally gives the world AirTags? All signs point to “definitely maybe.” After several delays, the company’s Tile competitor is said to finally be arriving. At the very least, the timing makes sense. After all, the company just opened up third-party “Find My” access, along with a bunch of compatible devices. That includes direct competitor, the Chipolo ONE Spot.
Also on the maybe pile is a new Apple TV featuring a Find My compatible remote. That seems like a slam dunk, as one of the most frequently lost products in history. With Apple on a two-year line-wide refresh, some new silicon Macs could be on the list. The most likely candidate? At the moment it seems to be a long-awaited refresh to the iMac line.
At 10am Pacific time (1pm Eastern) on Tuesday, April 20, Apple will host its first live product launch event since the company’s three-event gauntlet late last year. Tim Cook and co. are expected to put much of the focus on the iPad lineup—but other announcements, like Apple Silicon Macs, are also possible.
As longtime Ars Technica readers expect, we’ll be liveblogging the event and publishing stories about the new announcements as everything unfolds.
If there’s one thing people are confident of going into this event, it’s the fact that Apple will announce new iPad Pro models. Leaks and rumors have claimed that the new iPad Pro will look quite similar to its immediate predecessor but that it will have a faster chip, improved cameras, and (at least in the larger 12.9-inch model) a Mini LED display.
The era of cloud gaming hasn’t arrived with the intensity that may have seemed imminent a couple years ago when major tech platforms announced their plays. In 2021, the market is still pretty much non-existent despite established presences from nearly all of tech’s biggest players.
Microsoft has been slow to roll out its Xbox Cloud Gaming beta to its users widely across platforms, but that’s likely because they know that, unlike other upstart platforms, there’s not a huge advantage to them rushing out the gate first. This week, the company will begin rolling out the service on iOS and PC to Game Pass Ultimate users, sending out invited to a limited number of users and scaling it up over time.
“The limited beta is our time to test and learn; we’ll send out more invites on a continuous basis to players in all 22 supported countries, evaluate feedback, continue to improve the experience, and add support for more devices,” wrote Xbox’s Catherine Gluckstein in a blog post. “Our plan is to iterate quickly and open up to all Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members in the coming months so more people have the opportunity to play Xbox in all-new ways.”
The service has been available in beta for Android users since last year but it’s been a slow expansion to other platforms outside that world.
A big part of that slowdown has been the result of Apple playing hardball with cloud gaming platform providers, whose business models represent a major threat to App Store gaming revenues. Apple announced a carve-out provision for cloud-gaming platforms that would maintain dependency on the App Store and in-app purchase frameworks but none of the providers seemed very happy with Apple’s solution. As a result, Xbox Cloud Gaming will operate entirely through the web on iOS inside mobile Safari.
Apple will reinstate Parler on its App Store following its multi-month ban, according to a letter Apple has sent to Sen. Mike Lee and Rep. Ken Buck, which was made public today via a post this morning on Congressman Buck’s Twitter. TechCrunch also obtained the letter from Apple directly to confirm. The lawmakers had earlier written to Apple on March 31, 2021 to ask for additional information about why the app, which is heavily favored by conservatives, had been removed from the App Store. Apple’s response explains how Parler had violated its policies but said it has engaged in extensive conversions with Parler’s team since the app’s removal. It also says Parler’s proposed updates to the app, its content, and its moderation practices will allow it to be approved for reinstatement to the App Store immediately update its release.
On March 31, @SenMikeLee and I sent a letter demanding answers about why Apple removed Parler from the App Store.
Google and Amazon also quickly banned Parler from their respective platforms after the Capitol riot.
In Apple’s case, the company had first given Parler notice the app would be removed unless the company submitted a content moderation improvement plan. But Parler’s then-CEO John Matze posted to his own Parler account that he would not cave to Apple’s ultimatums and the app, having failed to meet Apple’s requirements, was banned. In the weeks that followed, Matze was fired by Parler’s board, controlled by Republican Party donor Rebekah Mercer.
Parler has been working to obtain re-entry to the App Store since its removal, but those efforts continued to fall short. Bloomberg reported last month, for example, that Parler had submitted new guidelines in February that were insufficient to comply with the App Store rules due to issues with violating content. That letter, addressed to Parler’s chief policy officer on Feb. 25, had stated: “There is no place for hateful, racist, discriminatory content on the App Store.”
According to Apple’s new letter, released today, things have changed. It says that Apple has now informed Parler as of April 14, 2021 that its proposed moderation practices will qualify it for reinstatement. The letter, signed by Timothy Powderly
Apple’s Senior Director of Government Affairs in the Americas, says:
In the period since Apple removed the Parler app from the App Store, Apple’s App Review Team has engaged in substantial conversations with Parler in an effort to bring the Parler app into compliance with the Guidelines and reinstate it in the App Store. As a result of those conversations, Parler has proposed updates to its app and the app’s content moderation practices, and the App Review Team has informed Parler as of April 14, 2021 that its proposed updated app will be approved for reinstatement to the App Store. Apple anticipates that the updated Parler app will become available immediately upon Parler releasing it.
The letter also notes that it did not consult with Google or Amazon in respect to its original decision to remove Parler — a response meant to put to rest the false claims of a coordinated effort between tech giants to silence conservatives.
Apple did not detail what specific changes Parler had agreed to, but earlier this year, the app was still non-compliant with Apple’s guidelines for allowing user profile pictures that featured swastikas and white nationalist imagery, and because it had permitted usernames and posts that were misogynistic, homophobic and racist, Bloomberg said at the time.
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines.
This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest private market news, talks about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here and myself here.
First, our news roundup from last week was probably the most fun I’ve had in a few months, so make sure to catch up on that if you haven’t. That said, here’s a rundown of what we got into on the show this morning:
The new Clubhouse round has us thinking about what is a good venture-style bet, and what isn’t. At least you can’t fault the Clubhouse crew for not having conviction.
Third-party hardware integration can be a tricky thing. Peloton this week raised some eyebrows by dropping Apple GymKit compatibility for its Bike Bootcamp program. Users were, naturally, quick to react. The situation left some wondering whether the move was a direct response to Apple’s recent entry into the home exercise market with Fitness+.
A Peloton spokesperson offered the following statement to TechCrunch, “Apple GymKit is designed to work with equipment-based cardio workouts. However, Peloton recently implemented GymKit with Bike Bootcamp, a multi-disciplinary class type that combines strength and cardio, which the feature does not support. Members can still use GymKit to sync their cycling-only workouts to their Apple Watch from the Bike+.”
The comment appears to reflect one of the bigger issues with its initial GymKit implementation. Designed with the gym in mind, Apple’s program engages with specific exercise equipment. In other words, use the integration on the treadmill and the Watch specifically goes to work tracking run metrics. Use it with a bike and it tracks cycling.
A program like Bike Bootcamp complicates things, adding to the mix things like weightlifting. Likely that didn’t quite mesh with the third-party guidelines around GymKit implementation. The bigger issue for Peloton owners is that GymKit was a primary distinguisher between the standard Peloton bike and the Bike+ — two products with a $500 gulf between them.
Truth is, for now at least, working together is still a net positive for both parties. Apple may have its own fitness platform, but Peloton has a huge footprint — one that likely has significant overlap with Apple Watch users. GymKit may have been developed with gyms in mind, but people haven’t visited the gym much in the past year, and there’s a reasonable expectation that the industry might never entirely bounce back.
For Peloton’s part, it’s probably good to play nice with the company that utterly dominates the smartwatch category.
Streaming revenue has been a longtime concern for musicians, especially those scraping by in the wake of an industry-wide implosion of record labels. Of course, a year that has made touring an impossibility has only brought those issues into starker relief as the primary revenue source for many has completely dried up.
Apple is hoping to clarify some of the major questions around streaming revenue in a letter it sent to artists. The note, reported by The Wall Street Journal, outlines a revenue that amounts to around double what Spotify pays out.
“As the discussion about streaming royalties continues, we believe it is important to share our values,” the company notes. “We believe in paying every creator the same rate, that a play has a value, and that creators should never have to pay for featuring music in prime display space on its service.”
The company’s comment is a clear shot at Spotify’s much more varied payment model. What that actually works out to at the end of the day, however, is a slightly more complicated question. Things start at around a penny-per-stream (though it can go down from there). That amount is paid out to rights holders — be they record labels or publishers. It’s another in a long line of issues that have led many musicians to question the efficacy of intermediaries in 2021.
Spotify CEO Daniel Ek fanned the flames in an interview last year, stating, “Some artists that used to do well in the past may not do well in this future landscape, where you can’t record music once every three to four years and think that’s going to be enough.”
At the end of the day, it’s a battle of pennies — or fractions thereof, for many artists. And it has become immensely difficult for mid-tier and truly independent artists to maintain a living as the world has shifted to a streaming model. Services like Bandcamp and Soundcloud have worked to make things more manageable for smaller artists, but the life of a modern musician remains a struggle — especially in the age of COVID-19.
Docker, a popular multi-platform application used by software developers, has released a version that runs natively on Apple Silicon hardware, including Macs released with Apple’s custom-designed M1 chip.
The M1 chip uses the ARM instruction set and cannot natively run software that was designed to run on the x86 architecture that the Intel processors in previously released Macs used. Though the previous version of Docker did work via Apple’s Rosetta solution, the introduction of an M1-native version of Docker contributes to a closing gap for developers concerned about running their entire suite of tools in an optimal way.
It follows the release of M1 versions of Homebrew, Visual Studio Code, and other developer tools and applications. But some gaps remain—for example, Microsoft’s Visual Studio 2019 IDE (which is distinct from the comparatively lightweight Visual Studio Code) has not been updated.
Adding an existing Clipper card to an Apple Wallet apparently transfers the funds off that card. At that point, says Clipper, “your plastic card has been deactivated” — so it sounds like it won’t work as a physical backup card.
Some people will want to hang on to the plastic cards, regardless: Clipper notes that Bay Area bike share users and anyone using an RTC Discount Card will need to keep the plastic card, even after its deactivated for transit use.
Clipper has previously confirmed that support is coming for Google Pay (Android) “this spring”, but today’s rollout seems to support Apple Pay only.
As noted back in February when this was first confirmed as on-the-way, Clipper works with Apple’s “Express Transit” feature. That’s just a fancy way to say that you can tap-to-pay with the digital Clipper card without first needing to punch in your phone’s PIN or using FaceID. On certain newer iPhones, it also lets you keep using the Clipper card for a few hours after your battery has died; a wonderful thing in a pinch, but probably not something you want to rely on regularly.
It might have taken longer than expected (the event has historically taken place in March), but Apple announced its spring product unveiling event this week. Executives from the company will take to the stage in a livestream from Apple’s Cupertino headquarters, where they’ll introduce and discuss new products that Apple plans to ship in the near future.
As has become the custom, we’ll do our best to outline what you should or shouldn’t expect in terms of announcements from the unveiling.
While each Apple event’s accompanying graphic and name—this one is called “Spring Loaded,” and you can see the graphic above—can sometimes (not always) act as a sort of teaser for what kind of announcements are to come, the name doesn’t tell us much this time around. That said, the scribbled lines that make up the Apple logo above look like the work of an Apple Pencil, one of the key accessories for the iPad.
This is Amazon’s latest hardware product: The redesigned Alexa earbuds. TechCrunch covered the announcement here, where the specs and capabilities are listed. I’m sure they work fine, too, but the case design is a blatant rip-off of Apple’s AirPod Pros.
This is just lazy.
Amazon has a long history of selling and promoting lookalikes, copycats, and clones of other products. Likewise, the retailer sued third-party sellers for doing the same thing. Amazon also has been accused of investing in companies and later producing clones of the products. In 2020 CEO Jeff Bezos testified on this subject in front of a congressional hearing where he couldn’t guarantee the company would end this process. Often the products Amazon copies come from small startups without the resources to fight a giant like Amazon.
For the latest Echo Buds, Amazon copied a market leader instead of a small startup. To recap, Amazon, a company worth over a trillion dollars, just released a product that looks essentially identical to a top-selling product from Apple, a company worth 2 trillion dollars.
The Echo Buds are much less expensive than Apple’s $250 AirPod Pros, too. The standard Echo Buds costs $100, and the version with wireless charging runs $120. It’s important to note the wireless buds themselves do not look like AirPods. Amazon only copied the ubiquitous AirPod Pro case.
The consumer is the loser here. With more resources than many countries, Amazon can produce world-class products, yet it decided to copy a rival’s market-leading product. In the end, it’s easier (and cheaper) to follow trends than become a trendsetter.
Discord users who access the Discord app through iOS will now face restrictions on adult content that go beyond those for other platforms. The gaming-focused social networking app—which lets users create public or private servers to chat via with text, image, voice, and video livestreaming—announced this week that “all users on the iOS platform (including those aged 18+) will be blocked from joining and accessing NSFW servers. iOS users aged 18+ will still be able to join and access NSFW communities on the desktop and web versions of Discord.”
That NSFW designation can be set by the server owner or by Discord itself, in keeping with community guidelines requiring the label on loosely defined “adult content.” Individual channels within a server can be designated as NSFW without imposing limits on the full server, but an entire server may be labeled as NSFW “if the community is organized around NSFW themes or if the majority of the server’s content is 18+,” the company said.
Discord has set up an appeals process for server owners to challenge an NSFW designation. Individual users can also contact Discord if they were accidentally identified as minors during an age-verification process. But that age change will still be meaningless on iOS, where users of all ages will be barred from NSFW content.