Apple drops its cut of App Store revenues from 30% to 15% for some developers

Screenshot of App Store icon.

Enlarge / Apple’s App Store. (credit: Silas Stein/picture alliance via Getty Images)

In one of the biggest changes to the App Store model ever, Apple today announced that the majority of third-party developers releasing apps and games on the company’s App Store will see a reduction in Apple’s cut of revenues from 30 percent to 15 percent. The company calls it the App Store Small Business Program, and it aims to improve the company’s standing in public perception and antitrust battles while minimally impacting its own bottom line.

The program is opt-in, and any developer whose combined revenue across all their apps was less than $1 million in the previous year (or any developers new to the App Store) can apply and be accepted. The revenue measure at play here includes not just app purchases, but also in-app purchase (IAP) and subscriptions revenue.

If during the course of the year the developer surpasses the $1 million threshold, the 30-percent rate will kick back into effect for the remainder of that year. If the developer falls below the threshold again, they’ll receive the 15-percent rate once more the following year.

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Yeah, Apple’s M1 MacBook Pro is powerful, but it’s the battery life that will blow you away

Survival and strategy games are often played in stages. You have the early game where you’re learning the ropes, understanding systems. Then you have mid-game where you’re executing and gathering resources. The most fun part, for me, has always been the late mid-game where you’re in full control of your powers and skills and you’ve got resources to burn — where you execute on your master plan before the endgame gets hairy.

This is where Apple is in the game of power being played by the chip industry. And it’s about to be endgame for Intel. 

Apple has introduced three machines that use its new M1 system on a chip, based on over a decade’s worth of work designing its own processing units based on the ARM instructions set. These machines are capable, assured and powerful, but their greatest advancements come in the performance per watt category.

I personally tested the 13” M1 MacBook Pro and after extensive testing, it’s clear that this machine eclipses some of the most powerful Mac portables ever made in performance while simultaneously delivering 2x-3x the battery life at a minimum. 

These results are astounding, but they’re the product of that long early game that Apple has played with the A-series processors. Beginning in earnest in 2008 with the acquisition of PA Semiconductor, Apple has been working its way towards unraveling the features and capabilities of its devices from the product roadmaps of processor manufacturers.  

The M1 MacBook Pro runs smoothly, launching apps so quickly that they’re often open before your cursor leaves your dock. 

Video editing and rendering is super performant, only falling behind older machines when it leverages the GPU heavily. And even then only with powerful dedicated cards like the 5500M or VEGA II. 

Compiling projects like WebKit produce better build times than nearly any machine (hell the M1 Mac Mini beats the Mac Pro by a few seconds). And it does it while using a fraction of the power. 

This thing works like an iPad. That’s the best way I can describe it succinctly. One illustration I have been using to describe what this will feel like to a user of current MacBooks is that of chronic pain. If you’ve ever dealt with ongoing pain from a condition or injury, and then had it be alleviated by medication, therapy or surgery, you know how the sudden relief feels. You’ve been carrying the load so long you didn’t know how heavy it was. That’s what moving to this M1 MacBook feels like after using other Macs. 

Every click is more responsive. Every interaction is immediate. It feels like an iOS device in all the best ways. 

At the chip level, it also is an iOS device. Which brings us to…

iOS on M1

The iOS experience on the M1 machines is…present. That’s the kindest thing I can say about it. Apps install from the App Store and run smoothly, without incident. Benchmarks run on iOS apps show that they perform natively with no overhead. I even ran an iOS-based graphics benchmark which showed just fine. 

That, however, is where the compliments end. The current iOS app experience on an M1 machine running Big Sur is almost comical; it’s so silly. There is no default tool-tip that explains how to replicate common iOS interactions like swipe-from-edge — instead a badly formatted cheat sheet is buried in a menu. The apps launch and run in windows only. Yes, that’s right, no full-screen iOS apps at all. It’s super cool for a second to have instant native support for iOS on the Mac, but at the end of the day this is a marketing win, not a consumer experience win. 

Apple gets to say that the Mac now supports millions of iOS apps, but the fact is that the experience of using those apps on the M1 is sub-par. It will get better, I have no doubt. But the app experience on the M1 is pretty firmly in this order right now: Native M1 app>Rosetta 2 app>Catalyst app> iOS app. Provided that the Catalyst ports can be bothered to build in Mac-centric behaviors and interactions, of course. But it’s clear that iOS, though present, is clearly not where it needs to be on M1.

Rosetta 2

There is both a lot to say and not a lot to say about Rosetta 2. I’m sure we’ll get more detailed breakdowns of how Apple achieved what it has with this new emulation layer that makes x86 applications run fine on the M1 architecture. But the real nut of it is that it has managed to make a chip so powerful that it can take the approximate 26% hit (see the following charts) in raw power to translate apps and still make them run just as fast if not faster than MacBooks with Intel processors. 

It’s pretty astounding. Apple would like us to forget the original Rosetta from the PowerPC transition as much as we would all like to forget it. And I’m happy to say that this is pretty easy to do because I was unable to track any real performance hit when comparing it to older, even ‘more powerful on paper’ Macs like the 16” MacBook Pro. 

It’s just simply not a factor in most instances. And companies like Adobe and Microsoft are already hard at work bringing native M1 apps to the Mac, so the most needed productivity or creativity apps will essentially get a free performance bump of around 30% when they go native. But even now they’re just as fast. It’s a win-win situation. 

Methodology

My methodology  for my testing was pretty straightforward. I ran a battery of tests designed to push these laptops in ways that reflected both real world performance and tasks as well as synthetic benchmarks. I ran the benchmarks with the machines plugged in and then again on battery power to estimate constant performance as well as performance per watt. All tests were run multiple times with cooldown periods in between in order to try to achieve a solid baseline. 

Here are the machines I used for testing:

  • 2020 13” M1 MacBook Pro 8-core 16GB
  • 2019 16” Macbook Pro 8-core 2.4GHz 32GB w/5500M
  • 2019 13” MacBook Pro 4-core 2.8GHz 16GB
  • 2019 Mac Pro 12-Core 3.3GHz 48GB w/AMD Radeon Pro Vega II 32GB

Many of these benchmarks also include numbers from the M1 Mac mini review from Matt Burns and the M1 MacBook Air, tested by Brian Heater which you can check out here.

Compiling WebKit

Right up top I’m going to start off with the real ‘oh shit’ chart of this piece. I checked WebKit out from GitHub and ran a build on all of the machines with no parameters. This is the one deviation from the specs I mentioned above as my 13” had issues that I couldn’t figure out so I had some Internet friends help me. Also thanks to Paul Haddad of Tapbots for guidance here. 

As you can see, the M1 performs admirably well across all models, with the MacBook and Mac Mini edging out the MacBook Air. This is a pretty straightforward way to visualize the difference in performance that can result in heavy tasks that last over 20 minutes, where the MacBook Air’s lack of active fan cooling throttles back the M1 a bit. Even with that throttling, the MacBook Air still beats everything here except for the very beefy MacBook Pro. 

But, the big deal here is really this second chart. After a single build of WebKit, the M1 MacBook Pro had a massive 91% of its battery left. I tried multiple tests here and I could have easily run a full build of WebKit 8-9 times on one charge of the M1 MacBook’s battery. In comparison, I could have gotten through about 3 on the 16” and the 13” 2020 model only had one go in it. 

This insane performance per watt of power is the M1’s secret weapon. The battery performance is simply off the chart. Even with processor-bound tasks. To give you an idea, throughout this build of WebKit the P-cluster (the power cores) hit peak pretty much every cycle while the E-cluster (the efficiency cores) maintained a steady 2GHz. These things are going at it, but they’re super power efficient.

Battery Life

In addition to charting battery performance in some real world tests, I also ran a couple of dedicated battery tests. In some cases they ran so long I thought I had left it plugged in by mistake, it’s that good. 

I ran a mixed web browsing and web video playback script that hit a series of pages, waited for 30 seconds and then moved on to simulate browsing. The results return a pretty common sight in our tests, with the M1 outperforming the other MacBooks by just over 25%.

In fullscreen 4k/60 video playback, the M1 fares even better, clocking an easy 20 hours with fixed 50% brightness. On an earlier test, I left the auto-adjust on and it crossed the 24 hour mark easily. Yeah, a full day. That’s an iOS-like milestone.

The M1 MacBook Air does very well also, but its smaller battery means a less playback time at 16 hours. Both of them absolutely decimated the earlier models.

Xcode Unzip

This was another developer-centric test that was requested. Once again, CPU bound, and the M1’s blew away any other system in my test group. Faster than the 8-core 16” MacBook Pro, wildly faster than the 13” MacBook Pro and yes, 2x as fast as the 2019 Mac Pro with its 3.3GHz Xeons. 

Image Credits: TechCrunch

For a look at the power curve (and to show that there is no throttling of the MacBook Pro over this period (I never found any throttling over longer periods by the way) here’s the usage curve.

Unified Memory and Disk Speed

Much ado has been made of Apple including only 16GB of memory on these first M1 machines. The fact of it, however, is that I have been unable to push them hard enough yet to feel any effect of this due to Apple’s move to unified memory architecture. Moving RAM to the SoC means no upgradeability — you’re stuck on 16GB forever. But it also means massively faster access 

If I was a betting man I’d say that this was an intermediate step to eliminating RAM altogether. It’s possible that a future (far future, this is the play for now) version of Apple’s M-series chips could end up supplying memory to each of the various chips from a vast pool that also serves as permanent storage. For now, though, what you’ve got is a finite, but blazing fast, pool of memory shared between the CPU cores, GPU and other SoC denizens like the Secure Enclave and Neural Engine. 

While running many applications simultaneously, the M1 performed extremely well. Because this new architecture is so close, with memory being a short hop away next door rather than out over a PCIE bus, swapping between applications was zero issue. Even while tasks were run in the background — beefy, data heavy tasks — the rest of the system stayed flowing.

Even when the memory pressure tab of Activity Monitor showed that OS X was using swap space, as it did from time to time, I noticed no slowdown in performance. 

Though I wasn’t able to trip it up I would guess that you would have to throw a single, extremely large file at this thing to get it to show any amount of struggle. 

The SSD in the M1 MacBook Pro is running on a PCIE 3.0 bus, and its write and read speeds indicate that. 

 

Thunderbolt

The M1 MacBook Pro has two Thunderbolt controllers, one for each port. This means that you’re going to get full PCIE 4.0 speeds out of each and that it seems very likely that Apple could include up to 4 ports in the future without much change in architecture. 

This configuration also means that you can easily power an Apple Pro Display XDR and another monitor besides. I was unable to test two Apple Pro Display XDR monitors side-by-side.

Cooling and throttling

No matter how long the tests I ran were, I was never able to ascertain any throttling of the CPU on the M1 MacBook Pro. From our testing it was evident that in longer operations (20-40 minutes on up) it was possible to see the MacBook Air pulling back a bit over time. Not so with the Macbook Pro. 

Apple says that it has designed a new ‘cooling system’ in the M1 MacBook Pro, which holds up. There is a single fan but it is noticeably quieter than either of the other fans. In fact, I was never able to get the M1 much hotter than ‘warm’ and the fan ran at speeds that were much more similar to that of a water cooled rig than the turbo engine situation in the other MacBooks. 

Even running a long, intense Cinebench 23 session could not make the M1 MacBook get loud. Over the course of the mark running all high-performance cores regularly hit 3GHz and the efficiency cores hitting 2GHz. Despite that, it continued to run very cool and very quiet in comparison to other MacBooks. It’s the stealth bomber at the Harrier party.

In that Cinebench test you can see that it doubles the multi-core performance of last year’s 13” MacBook and even beats out the single-core performance of the 16” MacBook Pro. 

I ran a couple of Final Cut Pro tests with my test suite. First was a 5 minute 4k60 timeline shot with iPhone 12 Pro using audio, transitions, titles and color grading. The M1 Macbook performed fantastic, slightly beating out the 16” MacBook Pro. 

 

 

With an 8K timeline of the same duration, the 16” MacBook Pro with its Radeon 5500M was able to really shine with FCP’s GPU acceleration. The M1 held its own though, showing 3x faster speeds than the 13” MacBook Pro with its integrated graphics. 

 

And, most impressively, the M1 MacBook Pro used extremely little power to do so. Just 17% of the battery to output an 81GB 8k render. The 13” MacBook Pro could not even finish this render on one battery charge. 

As you can see in these GFXBench charts, while the M1 MacBook Pro isn’t a powerhouse gaming laptop we still got some very surprising and impressive results in tests of the GPU when a rack of Metal tests were run on it. The 16″ MBP still has more raw power, but rendering games at retina is still very possible here.

The M1 is the future of CPU design

All too often over the years we’ve seen Mac releases hamstrung by the capabilities of the chips and chipsets that were being offered by Intel. Even as recently as the 16” MacBook Pro, Apple was stuck a generation or more behind. The writing was basically on the wall once the iPhone became such a massive hit that Apple began producing more chips than the entire rest of the computing industry combined. 

Apple has now shipped over 2 billion chips, a scale that makes Intel’s desktop business look like a luxury manufacturer. I think it was politic of Apple to not mention them by name during last week’s announcement, but it’s also clear that Intel’s days are numbered on the Mac and that their only saving grace for the rest of the industry is that Apple is incredibly unlikely to make chips for anyone else.

Years ago I wrote an article about the iPhone’s biggest flaw being that its performance per watt limited the new experiences that it was capable of delivering. People hated that piece but I was right. Apple has spent the last decade “fixing” its battery problem by continuing to carve out massive performance gains via its A-series chips all while maintaining essentially the same (or slightly better) battery life across the iPhone lineup. No miracle battery technology has appeared, so Apple went in the opposite direction, grinding away at the chip end of the stick.

What we’re seeing today is the result of Apple flipping the switch to bring all of that power efficiency to the Mac, a device with 5x the raw battery to work with. And those results are spectacular.

#amd, #app-store, #apple, #apple-inc, #big-sur, #brian-heater, #computers, #computing, #enclave, #github, #intel, #ios-11, #ipad, #iphone, #m1, #mac-os-x, #macbook, #macbook-pro, #macintosh, #matt-burns, #microsoft, #ram, #steve-jobs, #tablet-computers, #tc

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iPad Air 2020 review: Semi-pro

For a long, long time, most of Apple’s iPads looked fundamentally the same. They all had a home button, they all had a similar aesthetic, and they all had similar screen-to-body ratios, with some minor variation over time. All of that changed in 2018 with the overhauled iPad Pro, and that design has since carried over across the majority of Apple’s recently released mobile devices, from the iPhone 12 to the iPad Air.

Today, we’re going to give the new iPad Air a quick review.

The Air incorporates Apple’s latest processor (the A14), which is also seen in the iPhone 12. And it adopts the general aesthetic and language of the iPad Pro, sans Face ID. The base price of the iPad Air is up from that of its predecessor, but you’re arguably getting a much more modern device for it.

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iPhone 12 mini Review: Tiny package, big bang

Reviewing the iPhone 12 mini and the iPhone 12 Pro Max at the same time has been an exercise in extremes. I noted in my earlier reviews of the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro that it was difficult to evaluate the middle of the lineup without having the extreme ends of the scale available to contrast them. 

Now that I have had a chance to examine those extremes, I have come away incredibly impressed with the job that Apple has done on the whole lineup this year. These phones are extremely well sized, highly crisp from a design perspective and generously appointed with features. Aside from a handful of small items, there are no glaring examples here of artificial cliffs on the feature side or price side that attempt to push people upwards in the lineup. Something that has been the case in some years. 

The most impressive of all of the iPhones 12 this year should be, by all rights, the iPhone 12 Pro Max. It’s big screen and beautiful casing make it very attractive and it has the best camera I’ve ever seen in a phone. 

But in my opinion, the iPhone 12 mini is the most attractive phone in the lineup. The dark horse that makes a strong case for itself outside of the ‘I just want a small phone’ crowd. 

The size

The iPhone mini is 20% smaller and 18% lighter than the iPhone 12 and about half the size of the iPhone 11. It really hits a nicely sweet note for fit, and the lack of a home button means that the screen can accommodate quite a bit more content on display at once. 

Though my larger hands do feel a bit more comfortable on the iPhone 12, I am happy to report that the typing experience on the iPhone 12 mini is far superior to the 4.0” first generation SE. It even gets a leg up on the 4.7” iPhone SE introduced earlier this year because the screen is the same width but taller — letting it pull of the Tardis trick of being smaller with a bigger screen. This allows the Emoji keyboard toggle and the voice dictation button to drop out of the bottom row of keys, relaxing spacing on the return, space and number pad buttons. This additional size, especially for the spacebar, improves the typing experience measurably. The key spacing is a bit less generous than the iPhone 12, but this is a workable situation for typing.

If you look at this and an iPhone 11, because of the way that the screen is rendered, you’re going to see pretty much the same amount of content. 

The iPhone 12 mini on top of an iPhone 12 Pro Max

On top of an iPhone 12 Pro Max

Speaking of rendering, the iPhone 12 mini is scaled, which means that it is displaying at roughly .96 of its ‘native’ screen resolution of 2340×1080. In my testing, this scaling was not apparent in any way. Given that the mini has a resolution of 476ppi in a smaller screen than the iPhone 12 which clocks in at 460ppi that’s not too surprising. iPhones have been doing integral scaling for years with their magnification features so Apple has plenty of practice at this. I didn’t notice any artifacting or scrolling, and most apps looked just fine proportionally, though some developers that do not take advantage of Apple’s native frameworks that support various screen sizes may have to do a bit of tweaking here and there. 

The iPhone mini has a nice lightweight compactness to it. In order to get a read on its vibe I compared it to the iPhone 4S, which felt far denser, the iPhone 5 which felt a bit more airy and the iPhone 5C which still feels fun but cheap. It shares pedigree with all of these devices but feels far more assured and integral. The iPhone 12 design language doesn’t feel like multiple materials sandwiched together in the way that these earlier devices do. It feels grown, rather than made. 

That integral quality does wonders when it’s such a small device because every millimeter counts. Apple didn’t cheap out on the casing or design and gave it an exterior to match its very performant interior. 

The speaker and microphone grills, I’m sad to say, are asymmetric on the iPhone 12 mini. Ding.

And don’t think you miss out on anything performance related when you go to the mini. While it appears that either heat management, scaling or power management in general has made Apple tweak the processor ever so slightly, the benchmarks are close enough to make it a wash. There is zero chance you ever see any real-world difference between the iPhone 12 mini and any other iPhone 12.

For what it’s worth, the iPhone 12 mini has 4GB of RAM, same as the iPhone 12. The iPhone Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max have 6GB. The biggest real world effect of RAM that I have found on iPhone is less dumping of Safari tabs in the background so if you’re a pro browser take that into account.

The iPhone 12 mini is basically identical in the photography department to the iPhone 12. You lose nothing, it’s a great camera. Nothing much to see there though so I’m not spending any time on it. You will have a world class phone camera, just no telephoto.

If you’re a camera-oriented iPhone user, your usage of the telephoto lens is probably the most crisp deciding factor between the iPhone 12 Pro and the iPhone 12. The LiDAR benefits are there, and they absolutely make a big difference. But not having a telephoto at all could be an easy make-or-break for some people. 

Cribbing from my iPhone 12 Pro review here, one easy way to judge is to make a smart album in Photos on a Mac (or sort your photos using another tool that can read metadata) specifying images shot with a telephoto lens. If that’s a sizeable portion of your pics over the last year, then you’ve got a decision to make about whether you’re comfortable losing that option. 

When I did this, just about 19% of my iPhone 11 Pro shots were taken with the telephoto lens. Around 30% of those were portrait shots. So for me, 1 in every 5 images was shot with that tighter framing. It’s just something I find attractive. I like a little bit more precise of a crop and the nice amount of compression (for closer subjects) that comes with the longer focal length.

You don’t get 4k/60fps video but you still can shoot 4K/30fps Dolby Vision video in this super tiny device, which is wild. It’s more than I think any normal iPhone 12 mini user will ever need.

Apple says that the iPhone 12 mini’s battery life is better than the 4.7” iPhone SE and that bore out in my testing. I got through a day easily, with maybe a few percentage points difference between the iPhone 12 mini and the iPhone 12. I didn’t have enough time to run a comparison against the battery king, the iPhone 11, but I doubt it would come anywhere near unseating it just from a physics perspective. This thing is small so the battery pack is small and the processor is not being majorly throttled in any way. 

 

 

I did have a chance to try the iPhone 12 mini slip case and I thought it was well made and clever, though absolutely positively not for me. I use my iPhone too much to be sliding it into a sleeve and back out again, it would be an exercise in futility. But if you are in the market for this kind of case, I hold that the Apple version shows off the company’s earned expertise in leather. It’s well trimmed, it has nice edge finishing and a clever clasp. 

It integrates Apple’s MagSafe magnet array to display a live clock on the OLED screen with a space for the ambient light sensor. The clock display is pretty clever. It has a lightly colored background that matches the leather color of the case using the same NFC trick as the silicon cases which display a color matched ring when you put them on. The clock fades in two stages over a few seconds but will turn on when the ambient light sensor knows it’s not in your pocket and the motion coprocessor in the A14 senses movement. 

So a quick lift will flip the time on and let you check it. It also still allows tap-to-wake in the clock window, showing you the color matched time. 

There’s also a hidden card slot for maybe 1 credit card or ID card inside the mouth of the case. Like I said, it’s not for me, but I can appreciate that a lot more is going on in this little case than meets the eye, and it shows off some of the sophistication that could be coming to other MagSafe accessories in the future. 

The conclusion

In my iPhone 12/12 Pro review I noted my rubric for selecting a personal device:

  • The most compact and unobtrusive shape.
  • The best camera that I can afford.

And this is the conclusion I came to at the time:

The iPhone 12 Pro is bested (theoretically) in the camera department by the iPhone 12 Pro Max, which has the biggest and best sensor Apple has yet created. (But its dimensions are similarly biggest.) The iPhone 12 has been precisely cloned in a smaller version with the iPhone 12 mini. By my simple decision-making matrix, either one of those are a better choice for me than either of the models I’ve tested. If the object becomes to find the best compromise between the two, the iPhone 12 Pro is the pick.

Now that I have had both of those devices in my hand, I can say that my opinion hasn’t changed, but my definitions of the lineup have a bit. 

Because the iPhone 12 mini has no appreciable compromises in feature set from the iPhone 12, I consider these one device with two screen sizes. Yes, this may feel like a ‘duh’ moment but I didn’t want to jump to this place without actually using the mini for an extended period. Most critically, I needed to get a feel for that typing experience. 

The iPhone mini is by far the best value per dollar in Apple’s 2020 lineup. With this you get all of the power and advances of the iPhone 12, everything but the telephoto camera (and 60fps/4k video) of the iPhone 12 Pro and everything but the new sensor in the iPhone 12 Pro Max. Those additions will cost you anywhere from $300-$400 more over the life of your device if you choose to step up. 

I’ve been thinking hard about what a clear break point would be between deciding on the iPhone 12 and the iPhone 12 mini. If you are someone who really likes or ergonomically needs a smaller screen, you’re being treated to a device with no compromises in core functionality. But if you’re not a “small boi” fan then what is the deciding factor?

For me, it comes to this decision flow.

  • Is the iPhone your only camera and do you use it constantly for images? Then choose the iPhone 12 Pro. 
  • Are you an iPhone photographer that regularly prints images or edits them heavily? Choose the iPhone 12 Pro Max.
  • Are neither of those true, but it is true that the iPhone is your only mobile computing device? Go with the iPhone 12.
  • If that’s not true and you regularly carry an iPhone alongside a laptop or iPad, then go with the mini. 

Here, I even made you a handy flowchart if that kind of thing is your bag:

This is one of the best years ever for the iPhone lineup. The choices presented allow for a really comfortable picking routine based on camera and screen size with no majorly painful compromises in raw power or capability. These are full featured devices that are really well made from end to end. 

I hope that this template in sizing sticks around for a while as the powerful camera tech creeps its way down the lineup over time, invalidating at least the photography side of my flowchart above. Until then, this is still one of the better “small” iPhones Apple has ever produced, and certainly one with the least overall compromise.

#apple-inc, #ding, #ios, #ipad, #iphone, #iphone-12-pro, #iphone-5s, #judge, #king, #mobile-computing, #mobile-phones, #oled, #ram, #speaker, #tc

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iOS 14.2 is here with new emoji and wallpapers, long list of bug fixes

A blue smartphone sits face down on a table.

Enlarge / The iPhone 12, which runs iOS 14, and now (should you choose to update) iOS 14.2. (credit: Samuel Axon)

Today, Apple began rolling out iOS 14.2, iPadOS 14.2, tvOS 14.2, and watchOS 7.1 for supported devices. The last update to iOS and iPadOS was iOS 14.1 on October 22.

The new versions of iOS and iPadOS add 100 new emoji, which include “animals, food, faces, household objects, musical instruments, gender-inclusive emoji, and more,” according to the release notes. iPhones and iPads got a new Shazam button in the control center. Shazam, which Apple acquired just over two years ago, identifies songs algorithmically by listening to them with the microphones in the devices. Before the acquisition, it was also used as a sort of audio QR code for marketing activations during TV commercials and the like.

There are also some AirPods-related changes, including variable battery charging to preserve battery longevity (something Apple has already implemented in other devices) and notifications that let you know when your volume level is high enough to cause hearing damage. Apple promised this with iOS 14 when it initially launched.

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The Level Bolt and Level Touch smart locks are a cut above the competition in design and usability

Level is one of the newer players in the smart lock space, but with a design pedigree that includes a lot of former Apple employees, the company’s already attracting a lot of praise for its industrial design. I tested out both of its current offerings, the Level Bolt and the Level Touch, and found that they’re well-designed, user-friendly smart locks that are a cut above the competition when it comes to aesthetics and feature set.

The basics

Level’s debut product, the $229 Level Bolt, works with existing deadbolts and just replaces the insides with a connected locking mechanism that you can control from your smartphone via the Level app. The newer $329 Level Touch is a full deadbolt replacement, include the faceplates, but unlike most other smart locks on the market it looks like a standard deadbolt from the outside – albeit a very nicely designed one. The Level Touch is available in four different finishes, including satin nickel, satin chrome, and polished brass and matte black (the latter two are listed as ‘coming soon’)

Image Credits: Level

The Bolt is similar in concept to other smart lock products like the August lock, in that you use it with your existing deadbolt, which means no need to replace keys. It also leaves the thumb turn intact, however, meaning from all outward appearance it isn’t at all obvious that you have a smart lock at all. Installing it is relatively simple, and basically amounts to a lock mechanism transplant. Level includes different cam bar adapters that fit the vast majority of available deadlocks, so it should be something most homeowners can do in just a few minutes. The Bolt offers access sharing via the app, auto lock when you depart, Auto Unlock when you arrive, an activity log, temporary passes, and a built-in audio chime. It also works with Apple’s HomeKit for remote control, voice control via Siri, automation and push notifications.

Image Credits: Level

The Level Touch takes everything that’s great about the Bolt, and adds in some super smart additional features like a capacitive external deadbolt housing, which allows an amazing touch-to-lock/touch-to-unlock feature, and NFC that allows you to use programmable NFC cards and stickers to issue revokable passes to unlock your door. On top of all that, it’s probably the most attractive deadbolt I’ve ever owned or used, which is saying a lot in a field of smart locks where most offerings have unsightly large keypads or large battery compartments.

Design and features

The Level Bolt’s design is clever in its ability to be completely invisible when in use. The deadbolt itself is the battery housing, holding one lithium CR123A battery (included in the box, offers over a year’s worth of use). Installing the Bolt was as easy as unscrewing my existing deadbolt, removing the internal deadbolt mechanism, picking out the right adapter for the cam bar, and then inserting it into my door’s deadbolt lock and screwing back together the external face plates. It took under 10 minutes, start to finish.

Setting up the lock was also simple. You just download the app and follow the instructions, and you’ll be able to control your app in just minutes, too. Using the app, you set up a home profile for your lock or locks, and you can also invite others in your household to share access (they’ll have to install the app and get a profile to do so). You can also set up HomeKit if you have an Apple device and a HomeKit hub (this could be an Apple TV, or an iPad) and instantly unlock a lot of features including remote unlocking and locking control when you’re away from home.

Image Credits: Level

Even without HomeKit, you can set up Level to automatically lock once you leave a certain geofenced area around your home, and to automatically unlock once you return within that perimeter. It’s a fantastic convenience feature that works great and offers tons of benefits when it comes to things like coming home with armfuls of groceries, or large packages.

With the Level Touch, you get all of the above, plus a feature I’ve come to find indispensable: touch control. The metal exterior of the Level Touch’s outside cylinder has capacitive touch sensors, which means that like your iPhone’s screen, it can detect when it’s touched by a finger or skin. You can activate a touch-to-lock feature which will allow it to lock whenever people leave and hold their finger to the deadbolt cover, and you can even set it to unlock when it detects a touch combined with immediate proximity of your phone for identity verification purposes.

To me, this is even more useful than auto-lock/auto-unlock, and yet still much more convenient than fumbling with keys or even using the app to manually lock/unlock. It’s one of Level Touch’s unique advantages, and it’s a big one.

As for installation of the Level Touch, it’s also very easy – no more difficult than installing any deadbolt you might buy at the hardware store. Like the Bolt, it uses a single CR123A battery loaded right into the deadbolt itself that should give you enough power for over a year of use.

Bottom line

Smart locks have become a lot more prevalent over the course of the past few years, but they also haven’t really progressed much in terms of functionality or design. Level has upended all that, bringing the best of convenience features and miniaturized hardware technology to smart, modern design that leapfrogs the competition.

#apple, #doors, #gadgets, #hardware, #homekit, #ios, #ipad, #iphone, #lock, #review, #reviews, #security, #smart-lock, #smartphone, #tc, #unikey

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Apple eyes the TikTok generation with an updated version of Clips

Apple is today rolling out an update to its video creation app, Clips, which brings much-needed support for vertical videos, allowing for sharing to TikTok and the “Stories” feature in other social apps. The addition is one of several arriving with the release of Clips 3.0, which also introduces support for horizontal video, as well as HDR for iPhone 12 users, along with other smaller changes, like new stickers, sounds and posters, for example.

Apple’s Clips was first launched in 2017 with an eye on being a first stop for video creation before publishing to Instagram. But the app’s support for only square-formatted video has since become outdated. Casual social videos today are often now published to newer video-centric social media networks, like TikTok and its short-form rivals, including Triller, Dubsmash, Instagram Reels, and others.

Meanwhile, Stories — like those found on Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Pinterest and soon, Twitter — have become a key way that today’s users publish content to social media.

Apple, in fact, says that support for vertical video had become its No. 1 request from users since Clips launched.

Clips 3.0 introduces supports both 16:9 and 4:3 aspect ratios, in addition to the square format. When the app is opened on iPad, it will default to the landscape format, which can be particularly useful in educational scenarios where teachers are using the app in the classrooms with students.

On iPad, Clips users can also interact with the app when their iPad is in a case, like Magic Keyboard for iPad and others. It also supports use with a mouse or trackpad, and allowing users to write text in text fields using Apple Pencil.

Image Credits: Apple

The new app will also now support recording HDR video footage with the rear-facing camera on iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro.

Clips’ overall user interface has been refreshed, too. You’ll notice a redesigned record screen that floats on top of the viewer when shooting vertically or horizontally, which could help to address some user complaints of the app feeling “slow.”

Users will also be able to more easily view and access the various Effects options, their Clips Projects and other media.

The tweaks to the user interface also feel a bit like a nod to TikTok. For example, you can now swipe up on the Effects to see a full-height card that shows you the available stickers and text labels to add to your videos. This format of a pop-up card filled with effects is similar to TikTok — though there it’s opened with a button tap and not a gesture.

Image Credits: Apple

The update also brings more content options, including 8 new social stickers (like “Sound On” for Instagram Stories), 24 new royalty-free soundtracks (bringing the total library to 100), and 6 new arrows and shapes. From the new Media browser in Clips, you can pull in your own photos and videos or toggle over to a Posters section to pick from 70 customizable, animated full-screen title cards that can be added to your video.

There are also updated filters, Live Titles and Selfie scenes available.

When your project is complete, you can easily share the resulting video to social networks from an updated sharing screen that includes quick access to destinations like Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, Twitter and Snapchat, in addition to standard options like iMessage or saving the file locally.

Though Clips hasn’t had as much attention as some of Apple’s other apps — its last update was 6 months ago, for instance — it has gained a following. Apple says that users create “millions” of Clips projects per day, and it sees higher usage in the U.S., U.K., and China.

This year, Clips usage increased by 30%, Apple noted — a change that could have been brought about by the shift to virtual schooling which saw teachers in need of tools for creating digital content.

Image Credits:

With its expanded focus on vertical video, Clips has the potential to reach a much broader audience.

Today, many users prep videos for Stories or TikTok on third-party apps, like InShot, Prequel, Splice, PicCollage, Canva, VSCO, Funimate, KineMaster, Magisto, CapCut and others topping the App Store charts. But Clips, until now, couldn’t compete because it didn’t include vertical video support at all.

The new version of Clips is rolling out today to users worldwide.

#apple, #apps, #clips, #ios-apps, #ipad, #iphone, #mobile, #mobile-applications, #tc, #tiktok, #video, #video-apps

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Microsoft Office gets mouse and trackpad support for the iPad

As promised, Microsoft announced that it has added full trackpad and mouse support for the iPadOS version of Microsoft 360. That includes Word, Excel and PowerPoint, marking another important step in Apple’s longstanding push to blur the line between tablet and desktop, making iPads more well-rounded productivity machines.

Apple laid the foundation back in March, with the release of iPadOS 13.4. Announced alongside the latest iPad Pro, the technology introduced the ability to pair a trackpad or mouse with the tablet, bringing an on-screen cursor. Romain breaks it down more fully here. Along with the new tablet and operating system upgrade came a new (pricey) keyboard sporting a built-in trackpad.

Image Credits: Microsoft

Today’s upgrade from Microsoft builds on that, offering a more desktop-like experience when using its productivity tools on the latest iPad, iPad Pro and iPad Air. It can be used for standard Office things, like highlighting text, selecting range cells in Excel and resizing graphics. Stuff that was possible before, but will definitely benefit from an approach more familiar to anyone who’s used to doing these things on a laptop/desktop.

The update brings a handful of other additions, including a clearer interface and newly organized menus. All should be rolling out to users “within a couple of weeks,” per Microsoft.

#apple, #apps, #ipad, #microsoft, #office

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Today is iPhone 12 and iPad Air launch day, but don’t expect speedy shipping

As previously announced, Apple has begun shipping orders of the iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, and redesigned iPad Air, with the first orders arriving today. This is the launch day for all three products, and new orders are no longer considered preorders on Apple’s website. The products are also available in Apple’s retail stores today.

Note, though, that today marks the day the first preorders are ending up in consumers’ hands. Shortly after these products went on sale, shipping dates for new online orders began to creep beyond the release date and into November. And at the time of this writing, new orders of the iPhone 12 Pro models are shipping in the United States between November 13 and 20, Apple’s website says, and the iPhone 12 is shipping between November 2 and 4. The iPad Air is shipping sometime between November 12 and 18.

Apple has yet to begin shipping the smallest and largest new iPhone models—the 5.4-inch iPhone 12 mini and the 6.7-inch iPhone 12 Pro Max. Only the 6.1-inch iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro are going out today. The other sizes will be available in November, Apple says, along with the new HomePod mini smart speaker.

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#apple, #apple-store, #ipad, #ipad-air, #iphone, #iphone-12, #iphone-12-pro, #tech

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Apple pushes out iOS 14.1, iMovie updates, and more

Promotional image of smartphones against a white background.

Enlarge / The various color options of the iPhone 12. (credit: Apple)

This week, Apple has released a number of software updates to pave the way for tomorrow’s iPhone 12 launch. Among them: iOS and iPadOS 14.1, and updates to iMovie and GarageBand for iOS.

iOS 14.1 adds support for the various new iPhone 12-specific features, plus a number of bug fixes. Most of the bug fixes fix UI bugs that shipped with iOS 14 last month. iPadOS 14.1 includes some of the same bug fixes.

Both updates are the second to come since iOS 14, after iOS and iPadOS 14.0.1. The update immediately prior to this one fixed a bug that caused users’ default mail and browser apps to reset when a device was turned off or restarted. However, users have since found that their preferences are also being reset when App Store updates occur. iOS 14.1 does not address that issue.

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#apple, #homepod, #ios, #ios-14, #ios-14-1, #ipad, #ipados, #ipados-14, #ipados-14-1, #iphone, #ipod, #ipod-touch, #tech

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An iPad Studio Tour Finds Bruce Nauman Pushing Limits

Through the medium of the touchscreen, the pioneering American artist has found a channel to fuse his body and his work space.

#art, #bowery-manhattan-ny, #ipad, #nauman-bruce, #sperone-westwater

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Review: iPad Air, smooth criminal

The 2020 iPad Air comes at an interesting time in Apple’s release cycle. The iPad Pro is still strong from a specs perspective but is now technically a half generation or so behind in CPU. The new pro models won’t arrive for (theoretical) months. 

So what you end up with is a device that shares the design philosophy of the iPad Pro and inherits some of its best features while simultaneously leaping ahead of it in raw compute power. This makes the Air one of the better overall values in any computing device from Apple in some time. In fact, it’s become obvious that this is my top choice to recommend as a casual, portable computer from Apple’s entire lineup including the MacBooks. 

The clean new design has a thin, pleasantly colored simplicity to it. It matches the new iPhone 12 aesthetic quite well. The smoothly bullnosed corners and dusty blue peened finish make this one of the better looking iPads since the original. For years, Apple moved to try to “pull” the casing of the iPads around the back, making it disappear. This new design is a nice balance between the original’s frank simplicity and the new iPad Pro direction. A bit less sharp-edged and a bit more ‘friendly’ while still crisp.

One thing that I love a lot about the Air is that it lives up to its name and clocks in at the lightest weight of any of Apple’s portables at 1.0lb flat. This plus the Magic Keyboard is just such a killer portable writing machine it’s wild. 

Apple didn’t fix the camera position on this, something that still stinks about the iPad Pro because you have to use Face ID to unlock it and your hand is always in the way in landscape mode. Instead, they straight up ditched the entire True Depth camera and Face ID altogether and tucked Touch ID into the power button.

The initial scanning process to set up a finger seemed ever so slightly more reluctant to grab my fingerprint here than it used to on the home button. My guess is that it’s to do with the oblong shape of the sensor or its housing. But once it was scanned and input, I’m happy to report that it works exactly as well if not better than any iPhone home button version. I set a finger on my left hand here because I only use iPads in horizontal mode. But if you aren’t a keyboard person and are doing a lot of reading, the right hand would be appropriate. 

I actually found this to be a more natural feeling activation gesture than swiping up only to remember that my hand is in the way and having to move it and look at the camera. If the camera was placed along the horizontal edge of the iPad Pro or even in the corner I might feel differently. But as a compromise so that Apple doesn’t have to ship a True Depth camera in this unit, it works plenty fine. 

The surface of the Touch ID button is covered by an opaque sapphire crystal cover that blends well with the casing but allows the print to be read through it. 

Once you have the iPad Air unlocked, it falls right into the ‘X’ style navigation system. Swipes to open and navigate and move around. This is great because it brings near parity of navigation across Apple’s device lineup (minus the iPhone SE.)

The camera is fine. Do you shoot pictures on an iPad? Really you do? Wow, interesting, ok. Maybe buy the iPad Pro which has a full LiDAR array, a Wide and an Ultra Wide lens. Great for artists, scanning, reference work etc. On the iPad Air the camera is just fine but is really a formality. It can be used in all of those ways and the quality is on par, but it’s there because it has to be there. 

Those of you that travel with an iPad and an iPhone will be happy to know that you can charge an iPhone from the USB-C port on the iPad Air. And yep, it works fine with USB-C hubs and card readers too.

The iPad Air has 4GB of RAM where the iPad Pro 2020 has 6GB. It has a Liquid Retina display, but no ProMotion 120hz refresh. The lack of ProMotion is unfortunate but understandable. It requires another whole layer of display technology that is quite a bit more expensive. Having gotten used to it now I would say that on a larger screen like this it’s easily the best excuse for spending the extra $150-200 to bump up to the 11” Pro model. It’s just really damn nice. If you’ve never had one, you’ll be a lot less likely to miss this obviously.

But it also has an A14 Bionic chip where the iPad Pro 2020 models are still on the A12Z. Because that ‘Z’ is related to the fact that it has an extended number of graphics cores (8-core CPU/8-core GPU), the performance gap isn’t as big as you’d think.

Though the iPad Air edges out the iPad Pro in single-core performance, the multi-core numbers are essentially on parity. This speaks to the iPad Pro being tuned to handle multiple processes in simultaneous threads for processing images and video. If you’re running Photoshop or Premiere Rush or LumaFusion on an iPad, you want the Pro. For most other uses, you’re gonna be just fine with the Air.

I do really wish that the Air started at 128GB instead of 64GB for the base $599 price. Apple has finally gotten the iPhone to a great place for minimum storage across the lineup, and I wish that the iPad Air matched that. If a ton of space is important to you, it’s important to note that you cannot get anything over 256GB in this unit, unlike the iPad Pro that is offered up to 1TB. 

The two speaker system in the iPad Air is arranged in the much better horizontal array but it’s hal the amount that are in the iPad Pro and it shows. It’s a bit less loud overall but honestly the top volume is still way more than you need for typical iPad viewing distance.

Much of what I wrote about using Apple’s iPad Pro over the course of 10,000 miles of travel applies directly here. I still find it to be a great experience that, once you’ve adjusted for workflows, is just as powerful as any laptop. The additional features that have shipped in iOS 14 since that review have only made the iPad a better platform for legitimate work. 

And now you get the Gen 2 pencil and the fantastic Magic Keyboard in an iPad outside of the Pro lineup and it honestly adds a ton of the utility. 

Here’s my advice: Buy this if you want a portable iPad Pro to use alongside a MacBook or desktop computer for those times you don’t want to carry or can’t carry it. If you want an iPad Pro as your only computer, get the big iPad Pro but probably wait until they update that one in a few months.

#apple, #apple-inc, #computing, #display-technology, #ios-11, #ipad, #ipads, #iphone, #portable-media-players, #ram, #speaker, #tablet-computers, #tc, #touchscreens

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Adobe Illustrator launches on iPad and Adobe Fresco comes to the iPhone

Adobe today launched the first public version of its Illustrator vector graphics app on the iPad. That’s no surprise, given that it was already available for pre-order and as a private beta, but a lot of Illustrator users were looking forward to this day.

In addition, the company also today announced that its Fresco drawing and painting app is now available on Apple’s iPhone, too. Previously, you needed either a Windows machine or an iPad to use it.

Illustrator on the iPad supports Apple Pencil — no surprise there either — and should offer a pretty intuitive user experience for existing users. Like with Photoshop, the team adapted the user interface for a smaller screen and promises a more streamlined experience.

Image Credits: Adobe

“While on the surface it may seem simple, more capabilities reveal themselves as you work. After a while you develop a natural rhythm where the app fades into the background, freeing you to express your creativity,” the company says.

Over time, the company plans to bring more effects, brushes and AI-powered features to Illustrator in general — including on the iPad.

Adobe Fresco on iPhone

Image Credits: Adobe

As for Fresco, it’ll be interesting to see what that user experience will look like on a small screen. Since it uses Adobe’s Creative Cloud libraries, you can always start sketching on an iPhone and then move to another platform to finish your work. It’s worth noting that the iPhone version will feature the same interface, brushes and capabilities you’d expect on the other platforms.

The company also today launched version 2.0 of Fresco, with new smudge brushes, support for personalized brushes from Adobe Capture and more.

#adobe-creative-cloud, #artificial-intelligence, #computing, #illustrator, #ipad, #software, #tablet-computers

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Adobe Lightroom gets a new color grading tool, auto versions, graphical watermarking and more

At its MAX conference, Adobe today announced the launch of the latest version of Lightroom, its popular photo management and editing tool. The highlights of today’s release are the introduction of a new color grading tool that’s more akin to what you’d find in a video editor like Adobe Premiere or DaVinci Resolve, auto versioning that’s saved in the cloud (and hence not available in Lightroom Classic) and graphical watermarks, in addition to a number of other small feature updates across the application.

Adobe had already teased the launch of the new color grading feature last month, which was probably a good idea given how much of a change this is for photographers who have used Lightroom before. Adjusting color is, after all, one of the main features of Lightroom and this is a major change.

Image Credits: Adobe

At its core, the new color wheels replace the existing ‘split toning’ controls in Lightroom.

“Color Grading is an extension of Split Toning — it can do everything Split Toning did, plus much more,” Adobe’s Max Wendt explains in today’s announcement. “Your existing images with Split Toning settings will look exactly the same as they did before, your old Split Toning presets will also still look the same when you apply them, and you can still get the same results if you had a familiar starting point when doing Split Toning manually.”

My guess is that it’ll take a while for many Lightroom users to get a hang of these new color wheels. Overall, though, I think this new system is more intuitive than the current split toning feature that a lot of users regularly ignored.

The new color grading feature will be available across platforms and in Lightroom Classic, as well as Camera Raw.

The other new feature Adobe is highlighting with this release is graphical watermarks (available on Windows, Mac, iOS, iPadOS, Android and Chrome OS), that augments the existing text-based watermarking in Lightroom. This does exactly what the name implies and the watermarks are automatically applied when you share or export and image.

Image Credits: Adobe

The most important overall quality of life feature the team is adding is auto versions (also available on Windows, Mac, iOS, iPadOS, Android and Chrome OS). This makes it far easier to save different versions of an image — and these versions are synced across platforms. That way, you can easily go back and forth between different edits and revert those as necessary, too.

Image Credits: Adobe

With its new ‘best photos’ feature, Adobe is now also using its Ai smarts to find the best photos you’ve taken, but only on iOS, iPadOS, and Android, Chrome OS and the web. It’ll look at the technical aspects of your photo, as well as whether your subjects have their eyes open and face forward, for example, and the overall framing of the image. Users can decide how many of their images make the cut by toggling a threshold slider.

Another nifty new feature for Canon shooters who use Lightroom Classic is the addition of a tethered live view for Canon – with support for other cameras coming soon. With this, you get a real-time feed from your camera, making it easier to collaborate with others in real time.

 

#adobe, #adobe-lightroom, #android, #apps, #artificial-intelligence, #canon, #chrome-os, #google-chrome, #ipad, #lightroom, #microsoft-windows, #operating-systems, #photo-management, #software, #video-editor

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This Week in Apps: Apple’s big event, lidar comes to iPhone, Android gets a new IDE

Welcome back to This Week in Apps, the TechCrunch series that recaps the latest OS news, the applications they support and the money that flows through it all.

The app industry is as hot as ever, with a record 204 billion downloads and $120 billion in consumer spending in 2019. People are now spending three hours and 40 minutes per day using apps, rivaling TV. Apps aren’t just a way to pass idle hours — they’re a big business. In 2019, mobile-first companies had a combined $544 billion valuation, 6.5x higher than those without a mobile focus.

In this series, we help you keep up with the latest news from the world of apps, delivered on a weekly basis.

Top Story

Apple introduces four new iPhones (and more)

Apple hosted its iPhone event this week, where it introduced the new iPhone 12… and the iPhone 12 mini, the iPhone 12 Pro and the iPhone 12 Pro Max — effectively plugging all the holes in the market. With the release of the four new iPhones, app developers will have a range of devices to build for, from small to very large — the 12 Pro Max, for example, introduces the iPhone’s biggest-ever screen and the highest resolution, at nearly 3.5M pixels.

It also, of course, includes serious camera improvements, from a redesign of the three-lens system to including a new deeper telephoto camera, now a 65 mm-equivalent instead of 52 mm, as on previous models. There’s also an improved wide-angle lens, larger sensor, the addition of sensor-level image stabilization and a revamped Night Mode. Photographers will appreciate the new Apple ProRAW format, as well. (More on that here).

The iPhone 12 mini, meanwhile, aims to serve the customer base that prefers a smaller phone, like the iPhone SE, but without sacrificing functionality.

All the devices share some key features, including 5G connectivity, the new MagSafe connector for wireless charging and snap-on magnetic accessories, OLED displays and the A14 chip. They also have a more classic look, with straight edges that allow for additional antennas, providing next-gen wireless connectivity.

One of the bigger differences, however, between the Pro models and the regular iPhone 12 is the addition of the LiDAR Scanner, which is also found in the latest iPad Pro. The scanner measures how long it takes for light to reach an object and reflect back. The new depth-sensing technology has big implications for AR, as it allows augmented reality objects to interact with objects in the real world. AR apps will be more user-friendly, too, as they won’t need to first scan the room to place the AR object in the real world. It can be placed instantly.

Apple is leveraging the sensor for the iPhone 12 Pro camera to offer up to 6x faster focus in low-light conditions. Developers, meanwhile, can leverage lidar for use cases like AR-enabled games that work in the real world, social media (like Snapchat’s new lidar-powered Lens), home design and improvement apps involving room scans, spatial layout planning (like JigSpace), better AR shopping experiences and more.

The company also announced an affordable version of its HomePod smart speaker, the $99 HomePod Mini. The item works best for those fully locked inside the Apple universe, as it will stream a handful of music services, but not one of the most popular — Spotify. However, Apple also introduced a nifty feature for the HomePod devices, Intercom, which lets you send announcements across the speakers. While Apple and Google have offered a similar feature for their smart speakers, Intercom also works across other Apple devices, including iPhone, iPod, AirPods and even CarPlay. (What, no Mac?)

If Apple isn’t too late to capture smart speaker market share, the new speaker could see more users adopting smart home devices they can voice control through the HomePod Mini.

During the event, Apple also subtly snubbed its nose at Epic’s Fortnite with the announcement that
League of Legends: Wild Rift would be coming to iPhone 12 to take advantage of its new 5G capabilities and A14 Bionic chip.

Weekly News Round-Up

Platforms

  • Lidar comes to iPhone 12 Pro. Developers can now build AR experiences that interact with real-world objects, and AR apps can now instantly place AR objects in the real world without scanning the room. The update will mean a huge increase in the usability of AR apps but is limited to the Pro model of iPhone for now. Snapchat is already using it.
  • Apple developers can now make their apps available for pre-order even earlier — up to 180 days before release on the App Store.
  • Android Studio 4.1 launches. The new, stable version of the IDE for building Android apps introduces better TensorFlow Lite support and a new database inspector. The team also fixed a whopping 2,370 bugs during this release cycle and closed 275 public issues.
  • Google introduces the Android for Cars library. The library, now in open beta, gives developers tools to design, develop and test new navigation, parking or charging apps for Android Auto. The Google Play Store will be enabled for publishing beta apps in the “coming months.”
  • Google stops selling music. The company no longer sells tracks and albums on its Play Store, shifting all its focus to YouTube Music. The latter also just launched on Apple Watch this week.

Trends

  • Shopping apps forecast. U.S. consumers were expected to spend 60M hours in Android shopping apps during Prime Day week, (which just wrapped) according to one forecast from App Annie.
  • Prime Day downloads grow. Sensor Tower estimates global installs of the Amazon app grew 23% year-over-year, to 684K, as Prime Day neared. Installs on Wednesday were up 33% to 750K. However, U.S. installs were down by 22% 10/13-10/14. Apptopia noted that app sessions, however, were up 27% year-over-year.
  • Shopping, Food & Drink app launches up more than 50% year-over-year. Shopping apps grew 52% while Food & Drink apps grew 60%, due to COVID-19 impacts, according to Sensor Tower.
  • Subscriptions. U.S. consumers spend $20.78 per month on app subscriptions, Adjust study says.
  • TikTok sale impact on ad industry. 73% of marketers said a TikTok sale in the U.S. would impact their 2021 advertising plans. 41% also believed the deal could allow Walmart to overtake Amazon in e-commerce.
  • Amazon expands AR experimentation to its boxes. The retailer launched a new AR application that works with QR codes on the company’s shipping boxes to create “interactive, shareable” AR experiences, like a pumpkin that comes to life.

Security

  • Robinhood said a “limited number” of its users’ accounts were hacked. The service itself was not hacked, but around 2,000 customers had accounts compromised by cybercriminals who first compromised users’ personal emails outside the trading app.

Other News

  • Zoom’s new events platform brings apps to video conferencing calls.
  • Messenger update brings new features, including cross-app communication with Instagram. The app gets fun features like chat themes, custom reactions and, soon, selfie stickers and vanish mode. But the bigger news is the (potentially anti-competitive) merging of Facebook’s chat platforms.
  • Life360 leverages TikTok teens’ complaints to start a dialogue and invent a new feature, “Bubbles,” which allows teens (or anyone) to share a generalized location instead of an exact one. The feature gives teens a bit more freedom to roam and make choices without so much parental oversight. Parents, meanwhile, can still be sure their teen is OK, as features like emergency SOS and crash alerts remain functional.
  • Must-read: The MacStories iOS and iPadOS 14 Review. Federico Viticci offers a 23-page deep dive into the latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system.

Funding and M&A

    • Future raises $24M Series B for its $150/mo workout coaching app amid at-home fitness boom. The app pairs users with real-life fitness coaching for personal training at home. The round was led by Trustbridge Partners with Caffeinated Capital and Series A investors Kleiner Perkins participating.
    • River raises $10.4M for its app offering news, events and other happenings from around the web, ranging from news stories from top publishers to sports to even notable tweets. The app presents the information in a real-time stream, browsed vertically. There’s also a “For You” page, similar to TikTok.
    • Roblox confidentially filed with the SEC to go public. This cross-platform gaming platform has boomed during coronavirus lockdowns. According to reports, the listing could double Robox’s $4B valuation.
    • Robo Adviser Wealthsimple raises $87M. The funding for the investing app with comparisons to Robinhood was led by Menlo Park-based Technology Crossover Ventures (TCV), valuing the business at $1B.
    • Fitness platform Playbook raises $9.3M. The company offers tools for personal trainers who want to make their own videos, which consumers then browse in Playbook’s mobile app. Backers include E.ventures, Michael Ovitz, Abstract, Algae Ventures, Porsche Ventures and FJ Labs.
    • Live streaming app Moment House raises $1.5M seed. The startup aims to recreate live events in a digital format. LA area investors invested, including Scooter Braun, Troy Carter, Kygo’s Palm Tree Crew and Jared Leto. Patreon chief executive Jack Conte and Sequoia Capital partner Jess Lee also participated.
    • Twilio acquires Segment for $3.2B to help developers build data-fueled apps.
    • E-learning platform Kahoot raises $215M from SoftBank. The Norwegian startup claims to have hosted 1.3 billion “participating players” in the last 12 months. The company’s gamified e-learning platform is used both in schools and in enterprise environments.

Downloads

Mycons

Mycons is a new app that makes it easier for users, including non-designers, to create and buy custom icons for their iOS home screen makeovers. In the app’s “Icon Studio,” users can create icons by swapping out the background, choosing a symbol and placing it on the icon accordingly. You can also create a whole set of icons in a batch export. If you don’t feel like designing your own, you can opt to purchase premade packs instead.

The app is a free download with a one-time, in-app purchase to unlock the fully functionality of the icon designer. The icon packs, which include different variations and matching wallpaper, range from $7.99-$9.99.

Spotify’s new iOS 14 widget

Image Credits: TechCrunch screenshot of Spotify widget

It’s here! The widget a number of people have waited for since the launch of the new version of iOS has arrived. 

The widget, which arrives in the latest version of the Spotify iOS app, comes in two sizes. The smaller widget will display just your most recently listened to item, while the medium-sized widget will instead show the five most recent items — four in a horizontal row and the most recent at the top. In that case, you can actually tap on the small thumbnail for which of the five you want to now stream to be taken directly to that page in the Spotify app. The widget also automatically updates its background color to match the thumbnail photo.

#android, #android-studio, #app-store, #apple, #apple-inc, #apps, #ar, #google-play-store, #homepod, #ios, #ios-14, #ipad, #iphone, #iphone-12, #league-of-legends, #mobile-app, #operating-system, #operating-systems, #play-store, #smartphones, #tc, #this-week-in-apps

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iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, and iPad Air orders have begun

Preorders began today for three major new Apple products: the iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, and iPad Air. All these devices are available for order on Apple’s website, but none is shipping right away.

The planned ship dates for all of these devices was October 23, but some are already backed up into November. In some cases, it depends on the configuration that you choose. At the time of this writing, some iPhone 12 and iPad Air configurations are shipping later, but others are still listing October 23 as the ship date. On the other hand, every iPhone 12 Pro configuration we looked at promises to ship either later in October or sometime in November.

Additionally, Apple seems to have normalized the cost of the iPhone across all carriers after an initial uproar about the phone being announced at a slightly cheaper price point on AT&T and Verizon.

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#apple, #apple-store, #ipad, #ipad-air, #iphone, #iphone-12, #iphone-12-pro, #tech

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The iPhone and iPad Spotify app now includes home screen widgets

Spotify—one of Apple’s main rivals in both the latter’s services strategy and in antitrust investigations—has released a new version of its iPhone app that supports home screen widgets, one of the flagship features of iOS 14.

Last month’s release of iOS 14 brought home screen widgets—previously only the domain of iPads and Android phones—to iPhones. As we noted in our iOS 14 review, the value of the feature depends entirely on strong adoption and clever uses by third-party app developers.

Releases of widget-supporting apps from developers have been slow. Part of that was because Apple launched iOS 14 with less notice to developers than usual, meaning many were racing to play catch-up. But even now, a month later, the roster of widget-supporting apps has only grown a little.

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#apple, #ios-14, #ipad, #iphone, #spotify, #tech

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Live from Apple’s virtual 2020 iPhone event

Apple’s big iPhone event is finally here – virtual, which is to be expected these day. This is already the second virtual event Apple has hosted this fall, following one in September at which it revealed the Apple Watch Series 6 and a new iPad Air. This time around, we’re going to see what the iPhone 12 looks like, as well as how many colors and sizes it comes in.

There’s also supposed to be plenty of other news, including a new smaller HomePod mini, maybe an updated Apple TV, possibly a number of different headphone products and more. Will we get our first glance at the first shipping ARM-based Mac to use Apple’s in-house processors? Probably not, but maybe!

We’re going to be following along live and offering commentary below, and you can also tune in live to the video stream right here. Everything gets underway at 10 AM PT/ 1 PM ET.

#apple, #apple-inc, #apple-iphone-event-2020, #computing, #gadgets, #hardware, #ios, #ipad, #iphone, #itunes, #mobile-phones, #portable-media-players, #steve-jobs, #tablet-computers, #tc

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iPad (2020) micro-review: Battle-tested and more than fast enough

Last month, Apple revealed and launched the 8th-generation iPad. You might have forgotten; it was overshadowed by a radically redesigned iPad Air, two new Apple Watches, and other announcements from the company. But nonetheless, this is likely to be one of the most popular iPads, if not the most popular in Apple’s lineup because of one thing: price.

At $329 with 32GB of storage and $429 with 128GB, it’s going to be ubiquitous in environments where cutting-edge features aren’t called for, like point-of-sale, industrial use, and in schools. But it’s also going to be a content consumption device for a wide array of consumers.

All that said, there’s very little different about this year’s iPad compared to the last. In fact, it all comes down to performance. So we’re going to go over just that today, along with a few quick notes on how it compares to the previous model.

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#2020-ipad, #8th-generation-ipad, #a12, #apple, #apple-silicon, #ipad, #ipados, #pencil, #tablet, #tech

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Following Apple’s Sidecar launch, Astropad announces Luna Display for Windows

In June, Luna Display creator Astropad wrote a blog post titled, “Why Getting Sherlocked by Apple Was a Blessing in Disguise.” It arrived on the one-year anniversary of Apple’s launch of Sidecar for macOS, which let Mac owners use an iPad as a second display — thus making Luna’s functionality redundant.

The rose-colored post detailed how the company planned to pivot by diversifying its portfolio — in the case of Luna, that specifically meant launching a Windows version. “Later this summer, we’ll open up Astropad Studio for a free public beta on Windows,” the company wrote. “Not long after, we’ll be launching a Kickstarter campaign for an HDMI version of Luna Display.”

Today the company launched a Kickstarter for its Windows version, two years after launching the original Mac dongle on the crowdfunding platform. Delivery is set for May 2021. Early-bird supporters can get on-board with the device for as low as $49 (down from a retail price of $80).

Image Credits: Astropad

The dongle turns an iPad into a second display for a Windows PC, either wirelessly or tethered. The model comes in either USB-C of HDMI models, depending on the ports available on your machine. The second tablet can be used as a touchscreen for the extended monitor, which should work well with Windows 10, given how much Microsoft has tailored it to a touch experience.

I was a fan of the original Luna for Mac — though, like many, had less interest in the product as soon as Apple announced native support for Sidecar. Following the launch of Windows support, owners of the original Mac version will be able to use their existing device with PCs, as well. The device will work for Mac to iPad, Windows to iPad, Mac to Mac (with one laptop serving as a second screen) and a “headless mode,” with uses the iPad as a display for the Mac Mini and Mac Pro.

#apple, #astropad, #hardware, #ipad, #luna-display, #microsoft, #sidecar, #windows

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The eighth-generation iPad is a fine choice for casual users

It happens to the best of us. Some newer, flashier model comes along and we’re no longer the latest and greatest new thing. The iPad’s had a plenty good run, of course. Ten years ago, the device redefined what a tablet is and has maintained a dominant spot atop the category, as countless competitors have fallen away. Apple recently announced that it has sold north of 500 million units over the life of the device.

These days, the device has been overshadowed by its own brand. The standard iPad has become something of an also-ran, compared to the Pro and Air. Now in its eighth generation, the product represents the entry level for Apple’s tablet offerings. While the Air took center stage at the company’s recent hardware event, it did extend some love to the iPad.

The latest version of the tablet retains the familiar design of recent generations, including the 10.2-inch display (up from 9.7) and smart connector on the side of the device for accessories introduced the last time out. The size isn’t too dissimilar from the Air — it’s a touch taller and about a millimeter and a half thicker, weighing in at an additional 32 grams.

Image Credits: Brian Heater

This is the last of three iPads to hang onto the Lightning Port — that’s certainly starting to feel like a bit of a relic. The upshot of that, however, is that the product continues to be compatible with older accessories, which means there’s a good chance you’ll save a little extra cash on that end, as well. The tablet also ships with a larger charger than the previous generation.

The biggest update this time out is, unsurprisingly, internal. The new version of the slate gets the same A12 — marking the first such upgrade for the device in two years. The update puts it a generation behind the Air, which received the A12 last year and has been upgraded to the A14. The Pro, meanwhile, currently sports the A12Z. Confusing, I know, but the main thing you need to know here is that the iPad is the entry-level model.

That includes the display, which is smaller than the other models and lacks the 120Hz refresh rate and brighter display of the Pro. Nor does it sport Apple’s True Tone display tech or the Face ID found on the Pro, instead retaining the home button Touch ID (versus the power button on the Air). The two-speaker system is also lacking compared to the quad-speakers on the Pro, most notably when you’re watching a movie on the tablet in landscape mode.

The battery is rated at 10 hours, which puts it in line with the other devices. I found I was able to get something in line with the company’s stated “all day life” for the product. If you’re someone like me who just uses a tablet for a couple of hours a day for entertainment purposes, you should be able to get away with charging it every few days.

Image Credits: Brian Heater

The iPad is compatible with the standard Smart Keyboard, but not the new Magic Keyboard. If you’re looking for something that can seriously replace your PC, you’re going to want to take a good long look at the Pro. The iPad is fine for sending emails and the like, but beyond that, you’re going to want to consider something more robust.

The iPad is really the workhorse of the line. Starting at $329 for the 32GB model, it’s by far the least expensive iPad model. The Air and Pro start at $599 and $799, respectively. And sale prices are a certainty, heading into the holiday season. As I type this, the entry-level device is currently marked down to $299 on Amazon.

The truth is, for most users, the standard iPad will be more than enough for most applications. Certainly that applies to people who are looking for devices to check email, visit some sites, play mobile games and watch Netflix (though it might be time to reconsider its camera placement in the age of teleconferencing). The iPad isn’t the king of the hill it once was among Apple tablets, but it remains a fine device.

#apple, #apple-ipad, #hardware, #ipad, #tablet

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Microsoft updates its Endpoint Manager with improved macOS support and more

At its Ignite conference today, Microsoft announced a number of new features for the Microsoft Endpoint Manager, the company’s unified platform for managing and securing devices in an enterprise environment. The service, which combines the features of the Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager with the cloud-based tools of Intune, launched just under a year ago. Today’s updates build on the foundation the team created at the time and add improved macOS and iPad support, as well as new tools for connecting mobile devices to on-premises apps and additional productivity tools based on the date the company gathers from the service. The company is also making it easier for corporate IT departments to provision devices for employees remotely.

If anything, the pandemic has only accelerated both the growth of this business for Microsoft and the need for companies to manage their remote devices.

“It really is about bringing this cloud and all the intelligence that we had in Intune together with Config Manager and making it act as one,” Brad Anderson, Microsoft corporate VP for the Commercial Management Experiences team, told me. “And it’s been so fascinated to see how the pandemic accelerated people wanting and needing to use that. When the pandemic first hit – and as I go back to March 8th or 10th, in the US, the calls that I was having almost every day with CIOs centered around, ‘my VPN is overwhelmed. How am I going to patch on keep all my systems updated?’”

Today’s announcements build on the work Microsoft has done on this service over the course of the last year. After launching support for scripting on macOS earlier this year, for example, the company today announced a new “first-class management experience on macOS” that brings deploy scripts, but also improved enrollment experiences and app lifecycle management feature to the platform.

Endpoint Manager now also supports Apple’s Shared iPad for Business functionality and will help businesses deploy iPads to their users and allow them to log in with Azure Active Directory accounts. This gives users two separate portions on the device: one for work and one for everything else.

Another new feature is Microsoft Tunnel. This gives businesses a VPN that can cover the entire device or single apps to ensure that their employees’ devices are secure and compliant with their internal policy to access their networks.

“The key thing [with Microsoft Tunnel] is that this is all integrated into our conditional access,” Anderson explained. “And so when that VPN comes up, before access is granted to the data or to the apps, the conditional access engine that we’ve built inside of Microsoft 365 has that point of view on the trust of the identity and the trust of the device. That really is the key differentiator on that. I’ll tell you, between you and I, that one feature is probably the single feature that customers who are running another MDM and then the Microsoft Endpoint Manager — that’s the one they’re waiting for.”

Endpoint Manager now also supports the Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) environment. That’s been a massive growth area for the company — one that has only been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. As Anderson told me, the company saw 10x growth for WVD through the pandemic. “Now, Windows Virtual Desktop is that first-class citizen inside Microsoft Endpoint Manager. So you can manage your virtual endpoints just like you manage your physical endpoints. All your policies are applicable, all your apps are clickable. And it just makes it easier to be able to use that as one of the tools you have to empower your users,” he said.

Another area of Endpoint Manager, which may only seem tangentially related at first, is Microsoft’s Productivity Score. There are two aspects to this service, though: employee experience and technology experience. Productivity Score is meant to help businesses better understand how their employees are working — and identify areas where companies can improve. On the technology side, that also means understanding which apps crash, for example, or why laptops slow down.

“Here’s one of the key scenarios,” said Anderson. “We’ll get a call every once in a while that says, like, ‘hey, my users are all having a great experience with Office 365 but I’ve got a handful of users for whom it’s slow.’ More often than not, that’s a networking issue. And so every time a user, for example, opens a file or saves a file, opens an attachment, we get telemetry back that helps us understand the operations of that. We probably know when an ISP in the south of France sneezes, because Office 365 is so ubiquitous now.”

The other new feature here is what Microsoft calls Endpoint Analytics. With this, Microsoft can now provide businesses with details information about when apps on their employees’ devices crash – no matter whether that’s an internal app, a third-party service — or a Microsoft app.

In addition to these technology scores, Productivity Score is also getting new categories like meetings, so managers can see how many meetings their employees have, as well as a new teamwork category.

#chrome-os, #computing, #enterprise, #ipad, #microsoft, #microsoft-365, #microsoft-ignite-2020, #mobile-devices, #network-management, #software, #system-administration, #tc

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The Apple Watch Series 6, Apple Watch SE, and 8th-gen iPad hit store shelves

Three days after they were all announced in a livestream on Tuesday, three new Apple products are arriving at consumers’ doorsteps and available at retail: the Apple Watch Series 6, the Apple Watch SE, and the 8th-generation iPad.

The Apple Watch Series 6 adds new color options (like blue aluminum, gold stainless steel, graphite stainless steel, and Product Red red), an altimeter, and blood oxygen level monitoring, among other features. It succeeds the Series 5 as Apple’s flagship watch and offers the key features of its predecessor as well, like an always-on display. The Series 6 is available in two sizes and starts at $399, but that price can go way up, depending on the customization options like material or band.

The Apple Watch SE doesn’t have an always-on display, but it’s a lot cheaper. It offers a more basic set of features—but it includes most of the sensors in the Series 6—for $279 and up. That said, it’s not the lowest-end Apple Watch; the Series 3 is still available for $199 and up, making that the cheapest option.

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#8th-generation-ipad, #apple, #apple-store, #apple-watch, #apple-watch-se, #apple-watch-series-6, #ipad, #tech

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Here’s everything Apple revealed at its September hardware event today

Apple announced a ton of new devices and features today at its September hardware event, but no word on its upcoming iPhones. That’s expected later in the month, maybe next.

In case you missed Apple’s hour-long keynote, here’s everything that was announced — including some things you might have missed.

Apple Watch

One of Apple’s big announcements is the new Apple Watch Series 6, priced at $399. The new wearable comes with a new Apple S6 silicon chip with an always-on energy-saving display. It also lands with a blood oxygen sensor.

Apple also announced a newer low-cost wearable, Apple Watch SE, which it priced at $279.

Family Setup: The new Family Setup option lets families stay connected, even when some members of the family don’t have an iPhone. It also comes with a family tracking feature, which lets parents make sure their kids have checked into school or sports practice, for example.

Fitness+: Apple is launching a new fitness subscription, landing at $9.99 a month or $79.99 a year. The service is available from inside the Activity app, and takes aim at in-home fitness services, which have taken off in part because of the ongoing pandemic. But so far, the fitness market doesn’t seem too flustered by the move.

Solo Loop: You can now get a Solo Loop for your Apple Watch, a single band that drops the standard clasp in favor of stretchy silicon. It comes in seven colors and a range of sizes.

The new Apple Watch Series 6 arrives September 18.

Apple iPad

Next up, the iPad. Apple said it’s refreshing the iPad line-up with a new fourth-generation iPad Air. The new slimline iPad Air lands with a 10.9-inch 2360×1640 resolution Retina display and replaces the Lightning port with a USB-C cable. The new iPad Air comes with a Touch ID fingerprint sensor embedded in the power button, and a new 12-megapixel, 4K-capable rear camera.

New A14 Bionic chip: Apple unveiled its new, super-fast five nanometer A14 Bionic chip, landing in the new iPad Air. It’s packed with close to 12 billion transistors, 40% up on the previous iteration of chips, and has a 16-core neural engine for apps that rely on machine learning and artificial intelligence.

New colors: Apple has two new colors on top of the existing silver, space gray and rose gold to now include green and sky blue.

New eighth-generation iPad: The new eighth-generation iPad got a refresh, too, packed with an earlier A12 Bionic chip, giving the iPad a much-needed performance boost.

Apple One

With an Apple subscription for TV, music, games, as well as iCloud storage charges, Apple is rolling its subscriptions into one place under its new Apple One plan. There are three tiers — one for individuals, another for families, and the top-tier includes the full package of Apple’s subscription services.

iOS 14, iPadOS 14, watchOS 14, and tvOS 14

Apple said its long-awaited software updates will arrive tomorrow — September 16. That includes iOS 14 for iPhones, iPadOS 14 for iPads, watchOS 14 for Apple Watch wearables and tvOS14 for Apple TV boxes.

And iOS 14 comes with new privacy and security features, a new and improved Maps, a redesigned Siri and a new in-built translator app.

No word yet on macOS Big Sur, Apple’s next desktop and laptop operating system. A release date is expected out in the next few weeks ahead of the holiday season.

#apple, #apple-hardware-event-2020, #apple-tv, #apps, #hardware, #ios, #ipad, #iphone, #operating-system, #tvos

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This is the new iPad Air, with Touch ID built into the power button

At Apple’s (virtual) hardware event today, the company announced a significantly redesigned iPad Air with a new look and tiny bezels. In a move portentous for other Apple products, Touch ID has returned — inside the power button on the top of the tablet.

For the 10th anniversary of the iPad, the new 4th-generation Air is the biggest change to the device in a while. “This is a big year for iPad,” said CEO Tim Cook, before introducing changes to the non-Pro tablets in the lineup. “And today, we’re thrilled to introduce an all new completely redesigned iPad Air.”

The biggest change has to be the next-generation touch ID sensor built into the power button. Time will tell whether this is truly more convenient than having it in the “home” button, but it’s clear now that Apple has seen that demand for the fingerprint-based unlocking method has not abated.

Image Credits: Apple

Could the new Touch ID power button show up on the iPhone 12, or at the very least on the iPad Pro later? It seems likely, as while Face ID has become more reliable over time, sometimes people just prefer the hands-on approach.

The look is new to the iPad Air series, but mainly just resembles the Pro, with flat sides, rounded corners on the screen, and a prominent camera bump. There are also a bunch of hot new colors.

Image Credits: Apple

There’s a new display, with a 2360×1640 resolution, a little higher than the last generation. You probably won’t notice the difference unless they’re side by side, but Apple has always pushed to make sure its devices have among the highest quality screens out there, and the new Air is no exception.

The connector has graduated from Lightning to USB-C like its big brother the iPad Pro, so while on one hand you might need to throw away your cables… again… the new cables aren’t special Apple ones sprinkled with fairy dust, so you’ll be able to use $5 ones from Monoprice instead.

There’s an improved front camera, and the back one gets the iPad Pro’s 12-megapixel, 4K-capable shooter. But no lidar, unfortunately. Speakers also get a boost, with stereo audio in landscape mode.

You’ll be able to pick up the new iPad Air starting next month at $599 for the cheapest version (wi-fi only, with the least amount of storage, exact amount TBD). It may be hard to justify spending the extra money for the Pro at this point.

The vanilla iPad, now in its 8th generation, also got a computing power bump to the A12 series of chips, but no big design changes. With 500 million iPad devices sold, the traditional design is proven to be just fine. It’ll set you back $329.

#apple, #apple-hardware-event-2020, #gadgets, #hardware, #ipad, #ipad-air

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The new iPad Air goes all-screen, adds Magic Keyboard support

The new iPad Air goes all-screen, adds Magic Keyboard support

Enlarge (credit: Apple)

Apple announced a new CPU today for the 8th generation iPad, the A12 Bionic. The A12 Bionic, featured in the base iPad model, offers 40% faster CPU and 20% faster GPU than 7th generation iPads, and Apple says that also means it’s twice as fast as the top selling Windows laptop, three times faster than the top selling Android tablet, and six times faster than the leading Chromebook.

iPad Air

Just like many analysts and leakers predicted, Apple introduced an iPad Air during its “Time Flies” livestream event today. The new iPad Air comes about a year and a half after the last refresh, but it does more than the previous update did: it overhauls the overall design of the device. The iPad Air will be available in October, starting at $599.

Taking cues from the more expensive iPad Pro, the iPad Air now has drastically reduced bezels, no home button, and rounded screen edges. It does not, however, have the front-facing TrueDepth sensor array that the iPad Pro uses for Face ID authentication. Rather, it introduces something new to Apple devices—albeit not new to consumer mobile devices in general. The new iPad Air has the long-rumored in-screen fingerprint reader, something people have speculated for a couple years would find its way into lower-end iOS and iPadOS devices like the iPhone SE.

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#apple, #ipad, #ipad-air, #tech

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What to expect from Apple’s hardware event

If this was a normal year, we would be settling in for an iPhone event right about now. This is, however, very much not a normal year. And while we are, in fact, getting an Apple hardware event tomorrow at 10 a.m. PT/1 p.m. ET, it’s looking entirely possible — even likely — that we won’t be getting much face time with the iPhone 12.

If the handset even makes an appearance at all. After all, Apple’s been pretty upfront about the months or so delay of its long-awaited 5G handset (shareholders, you know), owing at least in part to some supply chain issues. It follows, then, that the company is planning another event in the not so distant future.

As we’ve seen from Samsung, the move toward virtual events during the pandemic seems to have made companies a bit bolder about holding more events, without the the obligation of travel. What we can expect this time, however, are some refreshes to a couple of other Apple tent-pole products — namely, the Apple Watch and an old iPad favorite. There are a handful of other possibilities, as well, including service bundles and some additions to the AirPods line.

Let’s start with the best bets.

Apple Watch

Apple Watch Series 5

Image Credits: Brian Heater

The “Time Flies” slogan is the clearest indication that we’re getting some Watch news. Again, in most years, we’d simply be able to look at the calendar. But this isn’t most years. A healthy combination of rumors, leaks and some of the new features from the latest version of watchOS give us a pretty healthy picture of what we’re in store for at tomorrow’s big event.

The Apple Watch Series 6 is likely to be the centerpiece of the show. One of the biggest pieces of news from the new model is actually a feature loss. The latest version of Apple’s ultra-popular wearable is expected to drop Force Touch, as support for the feature is out on watchOS 7. Such a move could help slim down the watch — or even more likely/hopefully leave room for more battery.

With the addition of sleep features in the new version of the OS, it behooves the company to find ways to make the device last longer on a charge, so users can wear it to bed. There are already some on-board power-saving features to track while the wearer sleeps, but a bigger battery would make a big difference — and help the company stay competitive on that front.

Otherwise, the device is set to continue Apple’s focus on health tracking improvements. That’s long been a key to the Watch’s success — and the success of wrist-worn devices, generally. Among the expected features is the addition of SpO2 tracking. The Apple Watch would be far from the first smartwatch to track blood oxygen levels, but the feature would come at a time when home tracking of health vitals feels all the more important.

Rumors also point to the addition of a low-cost model — specifically a new Watch designed to replace the Series 3, which has stuck around at $199. The product would answer the fair bit of demand for lower-priced smartwatches. That’s particularly the case during COVID-19, as users are looking for a reasonably priced entry into health tracking. That said, it seems likely that the lower-cost product won’t be nearly as sophisticated.

iPad

Image Credits: Apple

It seems likely there’s an iPad on the menu for tomorrow, too. The top candidate is the iPad Air, which saw its last refresh in March 2019. Rumors point to a significant reduction in bezels and a power button with Touch ID moved to the top of the device. Other features for the iPad Air 4 include a 10.8-inch display and Apple finally swapping the Lightning port for USB-C.

Misc

All of those operating systems announced back at WWDC (iOS, macOS, watchOS, TVOS) should be coming out of beta any week now. This could be the event — though, again, with the possible addition of an iPhone event, we can’t say for sure. The company is also rumored to be launching “Apple One,” an offering that would bundle in some of its key subscription services, including Apple TV+ and Music. Additional bundles could feature Arcade and News+, along with additional iCloud storage.

Some additional longstanding rumors include AirTags, the company’s Tile-like device tracker that plays nicely with its Find My application. The hardware offering would make it easier to locate lost objects in a fashion similar to Find My iPhone. New AirPods could be on the docket as well. AirPods 3, AirPods Pro 2 and the long-awaited over-ear AirPods Studio all seem like reasonable possibilities.

#apple, #apple-hardware-event-2020, #apple-watch, #</