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  1. Apple confirms cloud gaming services like xCloud and Stadia violate App Store guidelines New cloud gaming services from Google and Microsoft won’t work on iOS Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge Cloud gaming is shaping up to have a big moment on mobile starting next month with the launch of Microsoft’s xCloud service, but iOS users are getting left out. And now we know exactly why: Apple won’t allow those products, because of strict App Store guidelines that make cloud services like xCloud and its competitor, Google Stadia, effectively impossible to operate on the iPhone. We already knew that there was some issue, likely App Store-related, as to why Stadia wasn’t available for Apple devices and why Microsoft’s service would likely face a similar fate. It seemed even more likely that xCloud’s fate on iOS was sealed yesterday when Microsoft cut off iOS testing for its xCloud app well ahead of its September 15th launch date on Android. Nvidia’s GeForce Now service is also similarly Android-only when it comes to phones, even though that platform technically lets you access titles you already own. But Apple has finally come out and said, in a statement to Business Insider, that these kinds of cloud services are in violation of App Store guidelines and cannot, in their current forms, ever exist on iOS. The primary reason: they offer access to apps Apple can’t individually review. Here’s the official Apple statement: The App Store was created to be a safe and trusted place for customers to discover and download apps, and a great business opportunity for all developers. Before they go on our store, all apps are reviewed against the same set of guidelines that are intended to protect customers and provide a fair and level playing field to developers. Our customers enjoy great apps and games from millions of developers, and gaming services can absolutely launch on the App Store as long as they follow the same set of guidelines applicable to all developers, including submitting games individually for review, and appearing in charts and search. In addition to the App Store, developers can choose to reach all iPhone and iPad users over the web through Safari and other browsers on the App Store. Back in March, Bloomberg reported Apple offering a very similar justification when questioned about potential antitrust issues related to Apple’s Arcade game subscription service, which the company operates despite the headaches its competitors have doing the same. Microsoft, in a new statement given to The Verge on Thursday, says it could not find a solution to bringing xCloud to iOS via the App Store, and it now pins the blame solely on Apple, which it says “stands alone” in denying consumers the benefits of cloud gaming by “consistently treats gaming apps differently” and “applying more lenient rules to non-gaming apps.” The company adds it plans to continue looking for a way to bring cloud gaming and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate to iOS devices. Here’s the statement from a Microsoft spokesperson in full: Our testing period for the Project xCloud preview app for iOS has expired. Unfortunately, we do not have a path to bring our vision of cloud gaming with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate to gamers on iOS via the Apple App Store. Apple stands alone as the only general purpose platform to deny consumers from cloud gaming and game subscription services like Xbox Game Pass. And it consistently treats gaming apps differently, applying more lenient rules to non-gaming apps even when they include interactive content. All games available in the Xbox Game Pass catalog are rated for content by independent industry ratings bodies such as the ESRB and regional equivalents. We are committed to finding a path to bring cloud gaming with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate to the iOS platform. We believe that the customer should be at the heart of the gaming experience and gamers tell us they want to play, connect and share anywhere, no matter where they are. We agree. Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge Regardless, the key bit in that statement is “including submitting games individually for review, and appearing in charts and search.” The way Stadia works today, and the way xCloud will work next month, is that you pay for access to the service itself, and that service then allows you to pay for or access free games from the cloud. Those games are not stored on a local device in your home, unlike the Apple-approved Valve Steam Link app (although Valve had its own set of troubles getting Steam Link approved on iOS). So Apple doesn’t know what you’re buying or playing on its devices because it can’t review them beforehand. It also doesn’t see any revenue from these services if they’re simply allowing you to access a subscription service you already pay for, which was the crux of a big showdown between Apple and Basecamp, the creator of new email service Hey, last month, which resolved only when Basecamp compromised with the iPhone maker by adding a free signup option to its iOS app. Apple is pretty explicit about all of this in the App Store guidelines, specifically section 4.2.7: 4.2.7 Remote Desktop Clients: If your remote desktop app acts as a mirror of specific software or services rather than a generic mirror of the host device, it must comply with the following: (a) The app must only connect to a user-owned host device that is a personal computer or dedicated game console owned by the user, and both the host device and client must be connected on a local and LAN-based network. (b) Any software or services appearing in the client are fully executed on the host device, rendered on the screen of the host device, and may not use APIs or platform features beyond what is required to stream the Remote Desktop. (c) All account creation and management must be initiated from the host device. (d) The UI appearing on the client does not resemble an iOS or App Store view, does not provide a store-like interface, or include the ability to browse, select, or purchase software not already owned or licensed by the user. For the sake of clarity, transactions taking place within mirrored software do not need to use in-app purchase, provided the transactions are processed on the host device. (e) Thin clients for cloud-based apps are not appropriate for the App Store. In other words, unless it’s a full remote desktop app, a cloud gaming service is not allowed as these guidelines are written today — even though very narrowly tailored LAN services like Steam Link and Sony’s PS4 Remote Play are. Google and Microsoft probably don’t want to offer signup options within the apps themselves because that would mean giving Apple a 30 percent cut of subscription revenue, but apps without “account creation” options violate section (c). Abiding by section (a) is also impossible considering these cloud servers on which the games are running are not owned by and located in the homes of consumers, but placed in data centers far away. And section (e) just flat out says this type of thing — a “thin client for cloud-based app” — can’t exist in the App Store at all; it’s not “appropriate,” Apple says. There are some workarounds here. For instance, the Shadow cloud gaming service gives you access to a remote computer “host device” that is not technically owned by the user, but rented from the company itself. It’s also not on the same network as the device that’s accessing it. Yet Shadow works, and it’s available on iOS today. A Shadow spokesperson tells The Verge that, when it found its iOS app was in dispute with Apple earlier this year, it removed the quick launch feature that let users boot right into games. It was then approved, because the app functioned more like a remote desktop service — the “generic mirror of the host device” that Apple mentions as an exception in its App Store guidelines. With Shadow, you still have to go and install Steam, login, and access your existing titles just as you would on any other remote desktop app. But the device users remote into is a gaming PC that Shadow rents to you on a monthly basis, which is a clever way around these restrictions. Valve did something similar with Steam Link by removing the option to purchase games from the iOS version of the app, as Apple took issue with the fact that Steam Link effectively acted as an app store within the App Store that circumvented Apple’s review processes. What does all this mean? Well, for now, iOS users are going to be missing out on the mobile-centric cloud gaming wave that’s set to arrive with xCloud’s launch. There is conceivably a way Google, Microsoft, and Nvidia could find ways around this by changing the core functionality of their respective apps. But it seems unlikely in the short term. The App Store is a massive market so lucrative developers have for years jumped through hoop after hoop to access its nearly 1.5 billion users. In this case, however, there is a fundamental disconnect between how these services operate and the way Apple wants software to function on the iPhone and iPad. That doesn’t seem like it’s going to change any time soon. Update August 6th, 8:53PM ET: Added statement from Microsoft. Apple confirms cloud gaming services like xCloud and Stadia violate App Store guidelines
  2. iMac 27-inch (2020) release date, price and news The iMac 27-inch (2020) gets a big upgrade (Image credit: Apple) Apple has officially unveiled the new iMac 27-inch (2020), bringing a number of big upgrades to its all-in-one PC. With the global Covid-19 pandemic and many people working from home, Apple's new iMac for 2020 includes an upgraded Face Time webcam and improved microphones, which should make video calls – be they with workmates or friends and family – much better. Billed as "By far the most powerful and capable iMac ever," the new iMac 27-inch (2020) comes with 10th generation Intel Comet Lake processors. The standard configurations come with six and eight-core CPUs, but you can also configure the new iMac to come with a 10-core processor – a first for an iMac, and which is getting into iMac Pro territory. The new iMac also gets AMD Radeon Pro 5000 graphics card options, with AMD Radeon 5300 XT and 5500 XT choices for the standard models - and can be configured up to an AMD Radeon 5700XT with 16GB of video memory. According to Apple, this will give the new iMac a big performance advantage over the previous iMac 27-inch (2019), with 55% faster rendering in Maxon Cinema 4D ProRender. While the new iMac certainly feels like it's pitched at professionals, it should also bring some big improvements to gaming as well. Apple also claims that the new Intel processors grant a 40% speed boost in 8K ProRes transcode speeds in Final Cut Pro X. There's also good news when it comes to memory and storage. The new iMac 27-inch can now be configured with up to 128GB DDR4 RAM – double the amount the previous model could handle. The 27-inch iMac (2020) also ditches Fusion Drives for good – every model now comes with a Solid State Drive (SSD) with data speeds of 3.4GB/s. The new iMac can also be fitted with a huge 8TB SSD, a huge leap over the maximum 2TB of the previous model. (Image credit: Apple) Cut to the chase iMac 27-inch (2020) release date There was a lot of anticipation for an announcement of a 2020 iMac update at WWDC back in June, but it was a no-show at the all-digital event. However, Apple has announced that it is available to buy globally right now through Apple.com. Apple Stores and Apple Authorised Resellers will also be getting it soon iMac 27-inch (2020) price Apple has got into a commendable habit of launching new models for the same price as previous ones, and it's the same for the iMac 27-inch (2020), with the price of the entry level model starting at $1,799/£1,799/AU$2,799. This means you get all those great upgrades for the same price as the model from last year. Working from home help These powerful processors, huge amounts of storage and bags of memory all suggest that Apple is squarely pitching the new iMac (2020) at digital creatives and professionals, but it's included some standout features for helping people work from home as well. So, the new iMacs come with the Apple T2 Security Chip, which offers on-the-fly data encryption, and ensures that any software loaded during the boot process hasn't been tampered with. And as we mentioned earlier, the new iMac comes with an improved FaceTime HD camera, with a 1080p camera, `which Apple assures doesn't make sacrifices when it comes to low light performance just for the sake of extra pixels. In fact, the T2 Security Chip will help improve image quality from the webcam, Apple claims, with an Image Signal Processor that controls tone mapping, exposure and face detection as well. There's also a new studio-quality microphone array which, in conjunction with the FaceTime HD webcam, will make sure you're seen and heard in crystal clear quality in meetings and video calls. Also, while the physical speakers of the iMac (2020) haven't changed, the T2 Security Chip will handle variable EQ to improve sound quality, including deeper bass. For many people finding themselves working from home during the pandemic, an all-in-one PC is a great choice, as it is an elegant and easy-to-setup way of having a computer in the home without it taking up too much room. The new iMac 27-inch (2020) will keep the same design as previous models, as well as the same dimensions, though the new model is slightly lighter due to it using SSDs rather than hard drives. Improved 5K display Apple has also brought some improvements to the 27-inch iMac (2020)'s display. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it now comes with True Tone technology. Also found in iPads, iPhones and MacBooks, True Tone adjusts the color temperature of the screen depending on the ambient light it's used in. The idea is that this will offer more vibrant colors, while reducing eye strain. You can also configure the 27-inch iMac's display to come with nano-texture glass. First introduced in Apple's Pro Display XDR monitor, this material scatters light "at the nanometer level", and should result in less reflections and glare when used. iMac 21.5-inch (2020) and iMac Pro (2020) As well as the new iMac 27-inch (2020), Apple has also updated the 21.5-inch iMac. For the first time, all 21.5-inch iMacs will come with SSDs – however if you want to boost the storage space without spending a fortune, you can configure the iMac 21.5-inch (2020) to come with a 1TB Fusion drive. The entry level model will cost $1,099/£1,099/AU$1699. The iMac Pro (2020) now has a base model that comes with a 10-core Intel Xeon processor, and that will cost the same as the previous 8-core model at $4,999/£4,999/AU$7,299. iMac 27-inch (2020) release date, price and news
  3. Apple reportedly acquires startup that could turn iPhones into payment terminals Mobeewave’s tech lets users tap a credit card or smartphone on another phone to process payments Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge Apple has acquired a startup with technology that could turn iPhones into mobile payment terminals, Bloomberg reported. Montreal-based Mobeewave has tech that requires only an NFC chip to work, allowing users to tap either their smartphone or a credit card to another phone for payment processing. NFC chips have been included in iPhones since the iPhone 6. And while Apple Pay lets shoppers tap their iPhones to pay at a retail store, adding Mobeewave could allow any iPhone to accept payments without extra hardware like a card reader. According to Bloomberg, Apple paid about $100 million for Mobeewave, and has retained its team of employees. Neither company would comment on the transaction. Rival phone manufacturer Samsung partnered with Mobeewave last year on a pilot point-of-sale program in Canada. And as Bloomberg notes, Samsung’s venture division is an investor in Mobeewave. Apple has acquired several other startups this year so far, including popular weather app Dark Sky in March. It looks to be integrating Dark Sky’s features into its native weather app in iOS 14 and has shut down the Android version of the Dark Sky app as of August 1st. Apple also confirmed in May that it bought VR broadcast company NextVR. Apple reportedly acquires startup that could turn iPhones into payment terminals
  4. Apple is now the world’s most valuable publicly traded company It’s now larger than Saudi Arabia’s state-owned oil company Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge Apple is now the world’s most valuable publicly traded company, passing Saudi Arabia’s state-owned oil company Saudi Aramco. As of close of business Friday, Apple has a market valuation of $1.84 trillion, while Saudi Aramco’s is $1.76 trillion, according to CNBC. Apple’s stock, which has been on a largely-steady climb since the end of March, closed up more than 10 percent on Friday following the company’s record-breaking third-quarter earnings on Thursday, ending the day at $425.04. Apple’s total revenue for Q3 hit $59.7 billion, up 11 percent from last year. Strong Mac and iPad sales were a highlight, and the company likely saw increased demand for the devices while people have been sheltering in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Apple also announced a four-for-one stock split as part of its third quarter earnings, which will lower the price of an individual stock. Amazon, Facebook, and Google all announced earnings yesterday as well, and for the most part, they had pretty good quarters. Amazon doubled its profit — during a pandemic. Facebook saw a daily user increase of 12 percent year over year to 1.79 billion. And combined, the four companies netted $28.6 billion in profits. As my colleague Liz Lopatto put it, during the pandemic, the tech companies are raking it in. Apple is now the world’s most valuable publicly traded company
  5. Apple reports strong Mac and iPad sales in record-breaking Q3 earnings Apple’s hardware fared well in the third quarter Xinhua/Wang Ying via Getty Images Apple today reported extremely strong third quarter earnings, offering another look at how the company is shaking off the toll the COVID-19 pandemic is taking on its business. Analysts had been expecting around $52.3 billion in revenue and earnings per share of $2.07, but Apple crushed those predictions with $59.7 billion in revenue — up 11 percent from last year’s third quarter — and EPS of $2.58, up 18 percent. The company announced a four-for-one stock split alongside the earnings, saying that “each Apple shareholder of record at the close of business on August 24th, 2020 will receive three additional shares for every share held on the record date.” As has become the norm, Apple’s services and wearables divisions performed strongly. But the iPhone, Mac, and iPad all fared well during Q3 as well. With the updated 13-inch MacBook Pro released in the spring, the entire MacBook line has now made the switch to more reliable keyboards and left the controversial “butterfly mechanism” design behind. That has likely only helped the already-high demand for computers and tablets as remote work continues on for so many people. This was the first quarter to factor in sales of the second-generation iPhone SE, which is Apple’s cheapest iPhone with a starting price of $399. iPhone sales were particularly slow for the first three weeks of April, according to a Bloomberg interview with Apple CEO Tim Cook, but picked up afterward. The company is expected to announced a new lineup of “iPhone 12” devices in early fall, including one with a 5.4-inch display that should appeal to consumers looking for a smaller-sized phone with the same all-screen design as the larger ones. It’s rumored that this will be the year that Apple brings 5G to some iPhones, though there have been reports that 5G models might ship later than the usual September release window. Other products rumored for release this year or early next year include premium Apple-branded headphones, a redesigned iMac, the first Macs running Apple’s own silicon, a Tile-like tracking device, and more. Apple has already revealed many of the new software features coming to iOS 14, iPadOS 14, macOS Big Sur, watchOS, and tvOS, with public betas now available for most of the updates. Apple declined to provide earnings guidance for this quarter due to continued uncertainty from the COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s not doing so for the fourth quarter either. After briefly reopening them to customers, Apple has had to reclose a number of its retail stores in the United States as COVID-19 cases spike across many states. Stores that remain open are operating at limited capacity and require temperature checks before people can enter. Both employees and shoppers must wear face masks. Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images The pandemic has also pushed back Apple’s original time frame for returning to work at its offices. The company has “kicked the time period” back to early next year, Cook told Bloomberg. Apple’s earnings report comes one day after Cook testified alongside fellow Big Tech executives Jeff Bezos, Sundar Pichai, and Mark Zuckerberg as lawmakers continue to investigate potential antitrust violations and whether the massive companies now wield too much power. In Cook’s case, the House Judiciary Committee mainly pressed Apple’s chief executive on how the company runs the App Store and the subscription fees it collects from developers. “We apply the rules to all developers evenly,” Cook said, though documents obtained by the committee suggest companies like Amazon have gotten special treatment. But that was yesterday. Cook had a more triumphant tone today. “In uncertain times, this performance is a testament to the important role our products play in our customers’ lives and to Apple’s relentless innovation,” he said in the earnings press release. Apple reports strong Mac and iPad sales in record-breaking Q3 earnings
  6. 20 years ago, Steve Jobs built the “coolest computer ever”—and it bombed "Nobody ever made anything like that," said Steve Jobs. Enlarge / This G4 Cube ran for several years as a headless server until succumbing to the thermal issues that plagued the device from launch. It's now a decoration in Managing Editor Eric Bangeman's office. Eric Bangeman 187 with 126 posters participating This month marks the 20th anniversary of the Power Mac G4 Cube, which debuted July 19, 2000. It also marks the 19th anniversary of Apple’s announcement that it was putting the Cube on ice. That’s not my joke—it’s Apple’s, straight from the headline of its July 3, 2001, press release that officially pulled the plug. The idea of such a quick turnaround was nowhere in the mind of Apple CEO Steve Jobs on the eve of the product’s announcement at that summer 2000 Macworld Expo. I was reminded of this last week, as I listened to a cassette tape recorded 20 years prior, almost to the day. It documented a two-hour session with Jobs in Cupertino, California, shortly before the launch. The main reason he had summoned me to Apple’s headquarters was sitting under the cover of a dark sheet of fabric on the long table in the boardroom of One Infinite Loop. “We have made the coolest computer ever,” he told me. “I guess I’ll just show it to you.” He yanked off the fabric, exposing an 8-inch stump of transparent plastic with a block of electronics suspended inside. It looked less like a computer than a toaster born from an immaculate conception between Philip K. Dick and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. (But the fingerprints were, of course, Jony Ive’s.) Alongside it were two speakers encased in Christmas-ornament-sized, glasslike spheres. “The Cube,” Jobs said, in a stage whisper, hardly containing his excitement. He began by emphasizing that while the Cube was powerful, it was air-cooled. (Jobs hated fans. Hated them.) He demonstrated how it didn’t have a power switch but could sense a wave of your hand to turn on the juice. He showed me how Apple had eliminated the tray that held CDs—with the Cube, you just hovered the disk over the slot and the machine inhaled it. And then he got to the plastics. It was as if Jobs had taken to heart that guy in The Graduate who gave career advice to Benjamin Braddock. “We are doing more with plastics than anyone else in the world,” he told me. “These are all specially formulated, and it’s all proprietary, just us. It took us six months just to formulate these plastics. They make bulletproof vests out of it! And it’s incredibly sturdy, and it’s just beautiful! There’s never been anything like that. How do you make something like that? Nobody ever made anything like that! Isn’t that beautiful? I think it’s stunning!” I admitted it was gorgeous. But I had a question for him. Earlier in the conversation, he had drawn Apple’s product matrix, four squares representing laptop and desktop, high and low end. Since returning to Apple in 1997, he had filled in all the quadrants with the iMac, Power Mac, iBook, and PowerBook. The Cube violated the wisdom of his product plan. It didn’t have the power features of the high-end Power Mac, like slots or huge storage. And it was way more expensive than the low-end iMac, even before you spent for a necessary separate display required of Cube owners. Knowing I was risking his ire, I asked him: just who was going to buy this? “That’s easy!” Jobs didn’t miss a beat. “That’s easy!” he said. “A ton of people who are pros. Every designer is going to buy one.” Here was his justification for violating his matrix theory: “We realized there was an incredible opportunity to make something in the middle, sort of a love child, that was truly a breakthrough,” he said. The implicit message was that it was so great that people would alter their buying patterns to purchase one. That didn’t happen. For one thing, the price was prohibitive—by the time you bought the display, it was almost three times the price of an iMac and even more than some PowerMacs. By and large, people don’t spend their art budget on computers. That wasn’t the only issue with the G4 Cube. Those plastics were hard to manufacture, and people reported flaws. The air cooling had problems. If you left a sheet of paper on top of the device, it would shut down to prevent overheating. And because it had no On button, a stray wave of your hand would send the machine into action, like it or not. In any case, the G4 Cube failed to push buttons on the computer-buying public. Jobs told me it would sell millions. But Apple sold fewer than 150,000 units. The apotheosis of Apple design was also the apex of Apple hubris. Listening to the tape, I was struck by how much Jobs had been drunk on the elixir of aesthetics. “Do you really want to put a hole in this thing and put a button there?” Jobs asked me, justifying the lack of a power switch. “Look at the energy we put into this slot drive so you wouldn’t have a tray, and you want to ruin that and put a button in?” But here is something else about Jobs and the Cube that speaks not of failure but why he was a successful leader. Once it was clear that his Cube was a brick, he was quick to cut his losses and move on. “A spectacular commercial failure” In a 2017 talk at Oxford, Apple CEO Tim Cook talked about the G4 Cube, which he described as “a spectacular commercial failure, from the first day, almost.” But Jobs’ reaction to the bad sales figures showed how quickly, when it became necessary, he could abandon even a product dear to his heart. “Steve, of everyone I’ve known in life,” Cook said at Oxford, “could be the most avid proponent of some position, and within minutes or days, if new information came out, you would think that he never ever thought that before.” But he did think it, and I have the tape to prove it. Happy birthday to Steve Jobs’ digital love child. This story originally appeared on wired.com. 20 years ago, Steve Jobs built the “coolest computer ever”—and it bombed
  7. Apple's iPhone 11 assembly in India has reportedly kicked off Apple's plan to move its iPhone assembly to India may have finally taken off. A new report from TechCrunch says the tech company's manufacturing partner, Foxconn, has begun assembling the iPhone 11 series in India. The report cites a person familiar with the matter, claiming that Foxconn is now manufacturing the latest-generation iPhone units at its plant near Chennai, India. Piyush Goyal, India’s Minister of Railways and Commerce & Industry, also confirmed the news via Twitter, citing a report from Economic Times. Currently, the iPhone 11 production in Chennai is allegedly running at limited capacity, although there are plans to ramp up yield in the future. Nonetheless, the initial batch of units was already sent to local retailers. Reports about Apple's push for an India-based assembly of its smartphone products date back to as early as 2017 when an Indian minister suggested that possibility. In 2018, amid tensions between China and the U.S., Apple began holding talks to relocate its iPhone production to a Foxconn facility in India. Those reports gained further steam when Apple CEO Tim Cook confirmed earlier this year that the company would open its first retail store in India in 2021. Foxconn is also investing up to $1 billion in its manufacturing business in that country. Source: TechCrunch Apple's iPhone 11 assembly in India has reportedly kicked off
  8. Report: ARM is for sale and Nvidia’s interested, Apple isn’t Who will buy one of the world’s most widespread chip designers? Enlarge Arm 95 with 73 posters participating Hey, you! Do you want to control the future of basically every mobile device on Earth, and even some laptops and desktops? Have I got a deal for you! ARM Limited is for sale, the company in charge of the ubiquitous ARM CPU architecture that powers the majority of devices that run on a battery. It will only cost a few tens of billions of dollars. Bloomberg has two reports on the matter, one stating that Nvidia is interested in buying ARM and another saying that Apple isn't. ARM is currently owned by SoftBank group, a giant Japanese holding company previously featured on Ars for buying Boston Dynamics, buying Sprint, and buying stakes in Uber and GM's Cruise. SoftBank bought ARM for $32 billion in 2016, and since then, ARM has only gotten more powerful. ARM doesn't manufacture chips; instead, it sells IP based on the ARM CPU architecture in the form of its in-house Cortex CPU designs or licenses to design whatever you want using ARM's instruction set. In 2016, SoftBank described ARM as its prized possession, with SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son describing it as “the center of the center of SoftBank.” In the coronavirus era, SoftBank has been hit hard by the tanking valuations of Uber and WeWork, along with the bankruptcy of OneWeb, and now it's willing to sell ARM to raise money. As for SoftBank and Apple, Bloomberg says, "The two firms had preliminary discussions, but Apple isn’t planning to pursue a bid. Arm’s licensing operation would fit poorly with Apple’s hardware-focused business model. There may also be regulatory concerns about Apple owning a key licensee that supplies so many rivals." Apple's situation is probably the case for most companies with an attachment to ARM. ARM is so widespread that buying it will be a regulatory nightmare, and even the most lenient rubber-stamp regulators around the world must shudder at the idea of an existing ARM licensee buying ARM. Apple is famously transitioning its entire Mac lineup from Intel to in-house ARM chips, and it has the cash to buy ARM. Would any government approve Apple gaining that much power over the Android ecosystem, though? Qualcomm is another company closely tied to ARM, but it is already a convicted monopolist in many countries thanks to its power over the modem and ARM SoC market for smartphones. Google has the cash, too, but it already makes regulators nervous thanks to its control over the smartphone industry via Android. SoftBank was a great home for ARM since it let the company be neutral—SoftBank didn't make devices or sell chips. Many companies with an interest in ARM would create a huge conflict of interest. Nvidia is an ARM licensee, but it is not a major competitor in the smartphone industry. Nvidia's chips are sold on the strength of its GPUs, and the company's biggest design wins (really, you could say "only design wins") are the Nintendo Switch, the AR-focused Magic Leap headset, and its own Nvidia Shield Android TV box. With it being mostly shut out of the mobile SoC market by Qualcomm, Nvidia has started to focus on car hardware. The company's latest SoC is called "Orion" and seems exclusively designed for self-driving cars, where its strong GPUs can assist in all sorts of computer vision compute. With such a small chunk of the market, Nvidia might be one of the few ARM licensees that could squeak by regulatory approval. If Nvidia doesn't pull the trigger and ARM does prove "too big to buy," there are some other options. The original "ARM is for sale" report from The Wall Street Journal mentioned that "it is possible SoftBank will ultimately choose to do nothing" and figure out a different way to deal with its money issues. The idea of an IPO for ARM has also been floated by SoftBank in the past, and this solution would also solve the regulatory issues surrounding the sale to a tech company. Report: ARM is for sale and Nvidia’s interested, Apple isn’t
  9. Apple has finally embraced key-based 2FA. So should you Hardware keys are more secure—and finally ready for the masses. Enlarge / An Ars-branded Yubikey. Steven Klein 146 with 108 posters participating Almost three years ago, Google introduced its Advanced Protection Program (APP), a security plan for high-risk users that requires hardware keys for account access and is arguably the industry's most effective way to stop account takeovers in their tracks. But until now there was a major flaw that held APP back: its iPhone and iPad offerings were prohibitively limited for most users. Now that this has changed—more on the change in a bit—I feel comfortable recommending APP much more widely. What is APP? By requiring users to produce a physical security key in addition to a password each time they log in with a new device, APP is designed to stop the kinds of account breaches that Russian operatives used to disrupt the 2016 presidential election when they published sensitive emails from high-ranking Democratic officials. Those attacks presented targets with convincing emails purportedly from Google. They warned, falsely, that the target's account password had been obtained by an outsider and should immediately be changed. When Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign chairman John Podesta and other Democrats complied, they effectively surrendered their passwords to hackers. Although hackers have many ways to compromise accounts, phishing remains one of the most popular, both because it's easy and because the success rate is so high. APP makes such attacks all but impossible. The cryptographic secrets stored on the physical keys required by APP can't be phished and—theoretically—can't be extracted even when someone gets physical access to a key or hacks the device it connects to. Unless attackers steal the key—something that's not feasible remotely—they can't log in even if they obtain the target's password. Think of APP as two-factor authentication (2FA) or multifactor authentication (MFA) on steroids. Security practitioners almost unanimously consider physical keys a more secure MFA alternative to authenticator apps, which provide an ever-changing password that users enter as a second factor. Temporary passwords are even more of a problem when sent via SMS text messages, which are vulnerable to SIM-swapping attacks and to compromises of cell phone networks. One-time passwords are also problematic because they can be phished and in some cases can be stolen. A 2016 study of 50,000 Google employees over two years found that security keys beat out other forms of 2FA, both for security and reliability. APP combines the security of physical keys with a rigorous method for locking down an account. When first setting up APP, users must enroll two security keys such as those made by Yubico or Titan Security. Once the keys are enrolled, all devices that may be logged in to the account are automatically logged out and can only be logged back in using one of the keys as a second factor. Users must also use the keys when logging in from any new devices for the first time. (Google calls this process bootstrapping). Once a device is authenticated, it by default no longer needs the second authentication factor during subsequent logins. Even then, Google may require a second factor again in the event that company employees see logins from suspicious IPs or other signs that the account has been, or is close to being, hijacked. Google says that APP provides additional safeguards but has never offered many details beyond that. To make bootstrapping less painful, users can enroll their Android—and more recently their iOS device—as an additional physical key that is activated by clicking yes on a screen that automatically appears during the bootstrapping process. The appeal of this option is that users generally have their phone in their pockets, making it more convenient than more traditional physical keys. Here's how it looks on both iOS and Android: Enlarge / A built-in security key in an iPhone (left) and a Pixel (right). The phone-based keys—which comply with the recently introduced WebAuthn standard (more about that later)—work only when Bluetooth is enabled on both the phone and the device that's being bootstrapped. On top of that, the keys only work when both the phone and the bootstrapped device are in close proximity to each other. This requirement fixes a security weakness in earlier push-based 2FA, in which users tapped an OK button on their phones after successfully entering an account password. Similar to temporary passwords from authenticators and SMS, push-authentication protections can be bypassed when an attacker's carefully timed login closely follows the target trying to log in to the attacker's fake site. Since the targets think they're logging in, they have no reason not to hit the yes button. The Bluetooth requirement adds an additional hurdle—not only must the attacker have the target's account password and time things perfectly, but the attacker must also have physical proximity to the target's device. Great for Android, but what about iOS? As a security maven and a journalist who works with anonymous sources from time to time, I enrolled in APP, both with my personal account and my work one, which uses G Suite. (I had to ask my administrator to allow APP first, but he was able to easily turn it on.) The process for each account took less than five minutes, not counting the time it took to buy two keys. From then on, a physical key was the sole means of providing a second factor of authentication. While APP is no magic bullet against breaches, it does more than any other measure I can think of to prevent account compromises that result from phishing and other types of attacks that exploit compromised passwords. I liked the assurance, and I also liked the usability. Using a Pixel XL that had NFC support, I was able to easily use physical keys on all the devices I owned, even during the early days of APP when key options were more limited. Things became easier still when I could use my phone as a security key. Until now, however, I've held off recommending the general use of APP or even physical keys for 2FA on other sites. My reason: Apple's long-standing practice of tightly restricting access to the Lightning port, and until recently iPhone and iPad NFC, made using hardware-based keys on these devices prohibitively limited. It was hardly worth recommending an authentication method that was unpalatable or unsuitable to users of one of the world's most popular and influential platforms. For most of APP's existence, the only kinds of physical keys that worked with iPhones and iPads were dongles that used BLE, short for Bluetooth Low Energy. I found those dongles fragile, cumbersome, and prone to failures that sometimes required three or more tries before logins would succeed. These keys were the antithesis of the Apple mantra "It just works." Even worse, I have my doubts about Bluetooth security. A raft of vulnerabilities, both in the Bluetooth specification and in some of its implementations, raises legitimate concerns that they aren't subjected to rigorous security auditing. Google's disclosure last year of a vulnerability that made it possible for nearby hackers to hijack the Titan Bluetooth pairing process didn't make me feel any better. (The flaw has since been fixed.) This lack of viable key options was out of Google's hands. Apple's tradition of building from the inside out—and its aversion to technologies it views as untested—made the company slow to open its products to hardware-based keys. As a result, Apple resisted calls to allow iPhones and iPads to connect to most devices over NFC or through its Lightning port. While USB-based keys could be used on Macs (and Windows and Linux devices) that ran Chrome and, later, Firefox and other browsers, Bluetooth remained the sole means to connect keys to iPhones and iPads. Ultimately, Bluetooth keys never seemed to catch on. Key maker Yubico, for instance, still doesn't offer products that use Bluetooth. Comments like these on a Google support forum capture some users' frustration with the lack of viable options. With iOS and iPadOS largely left out, Google and some industry partners did their best to cobble together alternatives. FIDO2 While hardware-based 2FA has existed for decades, Google was the first to market it to the masses with APP. The program began as a joint project that Google and Yubico developed, with contributions from NXP, for Google employees logging in to the company network. At its core was a protocol known as U2F—short for Universal Second Factor. The protocol allowed hardware-based authentication over USB-C, NFC, and BLE. Eventually, U2F became an industry-wide standard when Google and Yubico submitted it to the FIDO Alliance, a standards body developing authentication methods that use biometrics and security keys to augment—and in some cases to replace—traditional passwords. By the time Google introduced APP, it was using the resulting FIDO U2F standard. Facebook, GitHub, Dropbox, and other sites began using the standard to support security keys on their sites, though in forms that remain much less rigorous than APP. Not long after that, FIDO changed the U2F name to CTAP1—short for Client to Authenticator Protocol (CTAP2, which extends to roaming authenticator use cases, is out of the scope of this article). CTAP1 was combined with a separate Web standard called WebAuthn, which received oversight from the W3C body. With that, came the birth of FIDO2, an open standard that provides a full suite of authentication protocols that are designed to be more secure—and in many cases easier to use—than passwords alone. In June 2019, for example, Google began allowing APP account holders to use their Android phones as security keys to log in to their iPhones and iPads, but this option didn't do much to convince me that APP was ready for the iPhone and iPad masses. Once I got over the learning curve, the option worked well enough. But even then, the requirement of a second mobile device—running a rival OS, no less—meant it wasn't likely to appeal to a large percentage of iOS and iPadOS users. In August 2019, Yubico released the Yubikey 5Ci, a key that used proprietary technology to connect to Apple's Lightning port while the world waited for Apple to add native support. Most people hardly took notice because the 5Ci could only be used with the iOS version of the upstart browser Brave and then for a vanishingly small number of services. More mainstream browsers and sites were completely left out. It wasn't until the following month—September 2019—that Safari for macOS added support for physical keys, making it the last major browser to do so. It was only with December's release of iOS and iPadOS 13.3 that Apple added native support for NFC, USB keys through an authentication standard known as FIDO2. These additions were a major improvement, but they came with their own limitations. Seven months later, only Safari and Brave for iOS and iPadOS can use authentication keys. A variety of sites that offer hardware-based 2FA don't work well or at all with Brave. While the browser works with Yubico keys, keys from Titan aren't supported at all. To the frustration of browser makers and online service operators, Apple has yet to publish the programming interfaces that third-party browsers need to actually read the keys using the recently added native support. (Brave can read 5Ci keys thanks to a proprietary Yubico interface. To support Yubico NFC keys, Brave uses a combination of Yubico interfaces and a set of Apple APIs that give iOS and iPadOS apps raw access to NFC-enabled devices.) An Apple spokesman confirmed the company has not yet made the support available but said that shouldn't be interpreted as that it won't happen in the future. All of these usability restrictions kept me from widely recommending physical keys at all—again because I didn't want to endorse one MFA method for iOS and iPadOS and another one for all other platforms. And then the Earth moved Finally, in June 2020, the world experienced a seismic shift, and it became possible for the first time to use non-BLE keys to log in to APP accounts on iOS or iPadOS devices. The support isn't ideal, but it's good enough. Without the benefit of Apple APIs, APP for iOS and iPadOS works only after a user has signed in to the account outside of Chrome—through Gmail or another Google app, or directly in Safari. I put the new support through its paces, testing three keys—a Titan NFC, a Yubikey 5 NFC, and a Yubikey 5Ci. All three performed seamlessly logging an iPhone SE in to APP-protected accounts. There are several ways to bootstrap an iPhone or iPad. The easiest is going to Settings > Passwords & Accounts > Add Account > Google and entering the user ID and password for the APP account and, finally, clicking continue to a prompt that says "'Settings' wants to use 'google.com' to sign in." After clicking continue, a screen will prompt the user to hold a security key to the back of the device or to connect it through the Lightning port. Both keys worked fine when using the Passwords & Accounts method. Like most other USB keys, the 5Ci requires a touch of a metal button or strip after inserting the key. Users need only bring NFC keys on or near the top of the device. The phone will vibrate once the key registers. These images capture the flow: First image of article image gallery. Please visit the source link to see all images. Rather than using device settings, users can bootstrap an iPhone or iPad from inside Safari, Gmail or another Google app. The flow for these latter methods is almost identical to the one described above. Once my iPhone was bootstrapped, I could use both iOS Mail and the Gmail app to access my Gmail account and any Google app to access other Google properties for my account. I could also use both Safari and Chrome to access my APP account. Even though native support still leaves out most third-party browsers, the native support finally puts iPhones and iPads level with other devices when using APP. Now that Apple has made support for the FIDO2 standard native in iOS and iPadOS, users need not install Google Smart Lock, which previously was required. (I'd still recommend using the app because it allows bootstrapped devices to double as physical keys in their own right. Smart Lock is also required when using Bluetooth dongles.) A word of caution, though, for anyone—regardless of what OS they're using—considering APP. Once it's turned on, the process for recovering accounts in the event of a lost password or keys is much more rigorous than normal and may start with a days-long "cooling off" period that locks users out of their accounts. Because they're phishable, recovery codes aren't an option with APP, either. To hedge against the possibility of all of one's keys being lost or destroyed, users can enroll as many keys as they want, and some can be kept off site, such as in an attorney's safe or with a trusted friend. My experience was more mixed using security keys to log in to other sites. My biggest complaint is that Apple's decision to withhold the programming interfaces makes it impossible for browsers other than Safari to use the newly added native support. With my 5Ci and the Yubikey 5 NFC, key-based 2FA worked fine for Github, Twitter, and most other sites I tried, but Dropbox consistently failed when I used Brave. First image of article image gallery. Please visit the source link to see all images. A place to start I focused this article on APP for Apple mobile devices for two reasons. First, APP sets what I think should be the paradigm for most if not all hardware-based 2FA for online accounts. Namely, APP makes security keys mandatory and doesn't accept temporary passwords from an authenticator app. Because they're phishable and in some cases can be stolen from computers or cloudd services, one-time passwords aren't an option either for APP. As a fallback, every other site I've used that allows hardware-based keys requires that 2FA from authenticators or SMS messages be enabled or that one-time passcodes be accepted. By making these weaker methods mandatory, sites and services negate the added security benefits of security keys, because attackers can exploit the weaknesses described earlier. What's more, logging in from a cellphone that also generates or receives a temporary password isn't true MFA. Because the phone is serving double duty, it doesn't meet the required definition of "something I have." This distinction applies to MFA on Android phones as well. A second reason for my focus here: until now, iPhone and iPad users have been left out of key parts of the ecosystem for hardware-based 2FA. What the new APP for iOS and iPadOS shows is that after almost three years, the program is finally ready for the masses. The larger point is that, as long as iPhone and iPad users were left out, prospects were dim for hardware-based security keys and other forms of MFA. For the first time, iOS and iPadOS have native support for a widely embraced standard that has the potential to make logins easier and much more secure. Getting iPhones and iPads onboard could well serve as a tipping point—not just for APP but for hardware-based security keys and other newer forms of MFA. Whatever platform you're on, now is a good time to get acquainted with hardware keys. APP is as good a place as any to start. Apple has finally embraced key-based 2FA. So should you (To view the article's image galleries, please visit the above link)
  10. Apple won't have to pay multi-billion-dollar Ireland tax bill €13bn Apple EU demand overturned by European court (Image credit: Shutterstock / Neirfy) Apple won’t have to pay up to €13 billion in taxes to the Irish government after a European court overturned the demand from the EU. A European Commission (EC) investigation four years ago concluded that Apple had been able to avoid taxation on almost all profits generated in Europe by routing revenues through Ireland. This, it argued, meant the company paid a tax rate that fell as low as 0.0005 per cent in 2014. Apple Ireland tax Given that other companies in Ireland were not subjected to the same rate, the EC said this effectively amounted to state aid. It was alleged that Apple had benefited from this arrangement for more than two decades but the EU was only able to demand that Ireland recover up to ten years’ worth. Both Apple and the Irish government appealed the decision and have emerged victorious. In its ruling, the court said that the EC had not provided sufficient evidence that Apple had been given an advantage to the extend that it could be considered state aid. Dublin welcomed the development as vindication that it hadn’t given the company an unfair advantage, while Apple said the issue was not about how much tax it paid, but in which jurisdiction it paid it. Ireland and Apple have a long-standing relationship, with the firm opening a facility in Holyhill, County Cork in 1980. Apple won't have to pay multi-billion-dollar Ireland tax bill
  11. Apple just unveiled its picks of the best iPad and iPhone apps of the year - here they are Apple hosted its Design Awards and these are the winners iPhone 11 Pro Max (Image credit: Future) If you're looking for advice on the best apps for your iPhone or iPad, then there's nowhere better to turn to on the matter (apart from TechRadar) than Apple itself, and the company has just announced its picks of the eight best designed apps of the year. That's thanks to the Apple Design Awards 2020, part of the company's annual developer conference WWDC 2020 which also brought us the unveiling of iOS 14, iPadOS 14, watchOS 7 and more. Now, we know which apps Apple thinks were the best designed of the year. There are four productivity or creative apps, and four games included as part of the list. It's worth pointing out that not all of the apps are new, so presumably the design awards can be given to recognize new updates which improve an app, but the games were all released less than a year ago, with two of them being part of Apple Arcade. We'll list the apps that won the Apple Design Awards below, so you can see if any are ones you might benefit from. Apple Design Awards: best apps Looom (Image credit: Eran Hilleli) The first app mentioned, Shapr 3D, is a computer-assisted drawing app for iPads, which lets you create 3D drawings for designers and artists without needing an actual computer to do so. You can check out Shapr 3D on the App Store here. Another iPad-only app, Looom, is for creating hand-drawn animation and, in particular, looping animations. You can use an Apple Pencil or just your finger to easily sketch and animate. Looom is on the App Store here. While Sibelius is the go-to computer program for writing music, it seems StaffPad could be that for tablets - it lets you hand-write notation, and it then adds that into the stave so you can edit it further. Like the two apps mentioned before, it's only available on iPad, but it seems great for people looking to write their own compositions. Check out StaffPad on the App Store here. The final creativity app to be awarded actually is available on iPhones as well as iPads - Darkroom is a photo editing app which has been popular for a while. It's not as complicated as Photoshop but that's its charm, as anyone can easily turn their phone camera snaps into great-looking works of art by quickly tweaking some of the details. See if Darkroom could help you on the App Store by clicking here. Apple Design Awards: best games Sayonara Wild Hearts (Image credit: Simogo) Sayonara Wild Hearts was one of the flagship Apple Arcade games, featuring prominently in the games service's marketing and promotion, and it's the first game winner of the Apple Design Awards 2020. The game is an arcade action game with a very distinct aesthetic style, and a strong musical element too. You can see it on the App Store here. One non-Apple Arcade game to win was Song of Bloom, and it's harder to explain than the others on this list. It's a puzzle game which requires you to think outside the box to complete its wildly varying puzzles - maybe we'd best let its App Store page do the explaining. Where Cards Fall is quite your typical Apple Arcade game, combining a cartoonish art style, oblique narrative focus, and relatively little gameplay, and clearly it has captured some hearts because of this. It's about reliving memories of the American high school experience, so it may not resonate with everyone, but if you think it's for you, you can check out its App Store entry here. If you liked the game Journey on the PS3 then you'll like the final award-winner Sky: Children of the Light, because it's by the same developer and has a lot in common with its predecessor. In it you can explore a big cartoon world, and there's a strong multiplayer focus so you can bump into, and join in with, other people exploring the same places as you. Click here to go to its App Store page. Apple just unveiled its picks of the best iPad and iPhone apps of the year - here they are
  12. Former Intel engineer reasons that Intel's Skylake lineup led to Apple opting for ARM Earlier this week at WWDC, Apple finally confirmed that it will be switching Macs from Intel to its custom ARM-based chips. The move had been rumored for a while but the conference was the first time we received official word from the firm. Apple's own silicon will bring with it some key advantages, including improved performance levels at lower power consumption and the promise of iPhone and iPad apps natively working on macOS. Nevertheless, Apple's decision to make the switch is still being discussed across forums. Considering this, François Piednoël, a former Principal Engineer at Intel, has reflected upon the firm's decision to adopt the ARM architecture during an X-Plane stream session. He reasons that Intel's 2015 Skylake processors had numerous quality control issues which led to frequent complaints from Apple: "The quality assurance of Skylake was more than a problem. It was abnormally bad. We were getting way too much citing for little things inside Skylake. Basically our buddies at Apple became the number one filer of problems in the architecture. And that went really, really bad." According to him, this was where the Cupertino firm made the decision to switch to a different architecture: "For me this is the inflection point. This is where the Apple guys who were always contemplating to switch, they went and looked at it and said: 'Well, we've probably got to do it.' Basically the bad quality assurance of Skylake is responsible for them to actually go away from the platform." Of course, Piednoël's comments are his own opinion and cannot be taken as fact. Though they do provide an interesting take on the situation. Officially, however, apart from stating the obvious advantages offered by its custom Apple Silicon itself, the Cupertino firm intended to unify the architectures across all its devices, consolidating its handheld and desktop offerings with the switch away from Intel. Source: PCGamer Former Intel engineer reasons that Intel's Skylake lineup led to Apple opting for ARM
  13. How fast are Apple’s new ARM Mac chips? It’s hard to tell There were canned demos but no benchmarks or comparisons Apple CEO Tim Cook, with a wafer of Apple silicon in the background For years, Apple has steadily revealed how the ARM-based chips in its mobile phones were catching up in performance to the beefier silicon you’d find inside a laptop or desktop — in 2018, the company claimed its new iPad Pro was faster than 92 percent of portable PCs. At some point, it seemed inevitable that Apple would turn the more efficient chips into the primary processors for its Mac computers, too. Now, it’s official: Apple is migrating the Mac to its own homegrown silicon, starting later this year. But are Apple’s ARM chips actually powerful enough now to replace the likes of Intel and AMD? That’s still an open question — because at Apple’s 2020 Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), the company shied away from giving us any definitive answers. a handful of canned demos and vague promises This time, the company’s typical array of charts, benchmarks, and “fastest ever” claims for each new generation of homegrown ARM silicon were completely MIA. Apple wouldn’t chat about it when we asked. Even a prerecorded chat with one of its silicon architects didn’t provide much insight. Instead, the company showed a handful of canned demos and made some vague promises that the future might be faster. The closest we got to a comparison was effectively, “is machine learning faster with hardware acceleration turned on?” Admittedly, we weren’t expecting Apple to hand us an ARM-powered Mac during a pandemic, and the prerecorded demos during the keynote and subsequent “State of the Union” address were moderately impressive. Using the same Apple A12Z Bionic chip you’ll find in an $800 iPad Pro, the company showed that a low-power ARM desktop can already handle a variety of power user apps on Mac, including: Versions of Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop, and Lightroom running natively on ARM Three streams of simultaneous 4K Pro Res video in Final Cut Pro Rotating around a photorealistic stone face in Cinema 4D Rotating around a 6-million polygon scene in Autodesk’s Maya animation studio, with textures and shaders on top Rendering effects in the Unity game engine The games Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Dirt: Rally running on Mac smoothly (but at low-ish resolution and detail) Dirt looked... well... a little messy. What’s more, Apple’s ARM-powered Macs will be able to automatically translate some existing Intel apps thanks to Apple’s Rosetta 2 conversion software: while they looked a little ugly, both Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Dirt: Rally were running that way, as was Autodesk Maya. But for the most part, Apple seems to be asking developers to take its word that ARM will unlock “a whole new level of performance,” without discussing how that performance actually stacks up right now. Maya seemed like a more impressive demo, though I don’t have a good frame of reference. The company’s press release says very specifically that Apple’s new chips will “give the Mac industry-leading performance per watt,” and that’s a very deliberate turn of phrase. Apple’s arguing that by building the most efficient kind of chips it can — “the highest performance with the lowest power consumption” — it can achieve more raw performance by tipping the scales of that performance-per-watt formula toward more watts. In other words, if you build a MacBook Pro-sized chip with a MacBook Pro-sized heatsink and enclosure, plus a MacBook-sized battery, your iPhone-esque processor theoretically has room to do a heck of a lot more work. But it’s almost always been true that ARM-based processors are more efficient than the competition, and the scales don’t tip on their own. Speeding up a chip isn’t just a simple matter of giving it more juice — you’ve got to design a beefy enough processor (or, say, the world’s fastest supercomputer) around that efficient architecture, and Apple isn’t bragging that it’s actually done that yet. You may remember Intel’s Core M / Y-series chips, which wound up in the thinnest MacBooks, also began with Intel touting their relative efficiency — but they wound up starting off slower than their mainstream Intel counterparts and only became a worthy choice after a few more years of work. Perhaps the iPad Pro’s A12Z Bionic would make for a more powerful MacBook than Intel’s current low-power laptop chips, but Apple isn’t saying so; maybe it’ll take a later chip in Apple’s roadmap. It also seems telling that Apple isn’t publicly planning to get rid of Intel anytime soon. Not only is Apple planning to release several additional Intel-based Macs in the future, but the company “will continue to support and release new versions of macOS for Intel-based Macs for years to come.” For a company that prides itself on the “courage” to often make a clean break with the past, it’s a little unusual. (Then again, this isn’t a product launch; it’s a developer conference.) All that said, Apple does say we should expect pure performance — not just efficiency — in one category in particular: graphical performance. Apple writes that the ARM initiative will also give the Mac “higher performance GPUs,” including additional horsepower for games, and it showed off a few apps (Affinity Photos, Unity, the aforementioned Cinema 4D, and Dirt: Rally) taking advantage of Apple’s Metal framework to fire instructions directly to the GPU. While that might not satisfy gamers used to having a dedicated Nvidia or AMD graphics chip, Apple’s integrated graphics might actually be a substantial boost over the Intel integrated graphics that ship in, say, a new MacBook Air. There’s also the possibility that Apple’s talking about building beefier GPUs of its own — though Apple isn’t talking about whether its CPUs will interface with laptop chips from AMD or NVIDIA, much less desktop GPUs or external GPUs right now. And it’s true that not everything is about performance, anyhow. Apple is promising its ARM-based Macs will be able to run more kinds of apps than before, thanks to both native iOS app support and hardware-accelerated machine learning chops built into the silicon. They’ll be able to “keep cached cloud content fresh for days” even when your Mac is asleep, and Apple says using your iPad as a secondary monitor for your Mac will get better thanks to the image processing that Apple’s already built into its ARM chips. Though Apple didn’t provide any metrics, the company suggests ARM will provide more battery life, too. Right now, Apple’s most important task is to convince would-be buyers that — this time — ARM chips won’t require them to abandon their old apps or make other unacceptable compromises in order to switch. That’s the message that Apple tried the hardest to nail at WWDC, and it feels like the company is making good headway. It’s got Rosetta to automatically translate some of your apps, while a handful of key developers like Microsoft and Unity are building native versions of others. Apple’s developer sessions showed that — theoretically — creating a “universal” app for multiple platforms is as easy as pressing a button. Apple showed off file system and network access, virtual machines and peripheral support, the ability to natively play a game with an Xbox controller, and even a promise to let you boot from external drives with ARM-based Macs. Watching Apple’s WWDC keynotes, it’s easy to imagine there might be no downside, no “legacy” apps you’ll need to abandon; just a whole bunch of extra iPhone and iPad apps you can now additionally use by upgrading to an ARM-based Mac. But it feels very strongly like there’s something Apple isn’t telling us about performance, and we’ll need to wait to see. Improved performance is one of the most compelling reasons to buy a new computer, and an absolute requirement for pros. Performance is time, and time is money, after all. How fast are Apple’s new ARM Mac chips? It’s hard to tell
  14. Apple WWDC 2020: the 18 biggest announcements Catch up with everything that happened right here Apple’s WWDC 2020 was unique before it even began. It’s the first time Apple’s developer conference has been streamed exclusively online with no in-person event. Regardless, there were some big announcements, including some you might have been expecting and others that might catch you by surprise. We walked through each moment in our live blog, featuring commentary by Nilay Patel, Dieter Bohn, and none other than Walt Mossberg, and I suggest you read that if you want the play-by-play analysis on the conference. But if you just want the skinny on what you need to know about from WWDC 2020, here are the biggest announcements. Apple details iOS 14, its next major software update Apple gave a first look at iOS 14, the new update coming to iPhones later this year. The most notable change comes in the form of widgets that you can place on the home screen. It’s like if Apple Watch apps invaded the iPhone home screen — it’s a really big deal that changes the look of the iOS software. Apple is debuting these new widgets in different shapes and sizes, and the idea is that you’ll be able to have more data-rich info on your home screen. If you want more, you’ll be able to get them through the Widget Gallery. It is also adding App Library, a new feature that automatically organizes apps based on their categories. It seems great for quickly accessing apps that normally live outside of the first or second page. Picture-in-picture is coming to iOS 14. If you swipe away while watching a full-screened video, the window will float on your home screen, allowing you to resize and move the video. PiP isn’t a super unique feature, but Apple is making it its own by letting you minimize the PiP into a small button on the side of the screen. That way, you don’t have to exit the video if you need to look at the whole screen for a moment. More varied Memoji are coming with iOS 14 Memoji are getting an improvement in the next big software update, including more age options, accessories for Memoji, like face masks, and emotions, like blushing. This might seem like a small addition, but it’s great if you’ve been wanting to live the dream of communicating solely through Memoji. Apple Maps is getting a dedicated map view for cycling and EV users Coming with iOS 14 is a big update to Apple Maps that includes a new cycling-specific navigation, among other things. It can alert you to increases in elevation as well as a notification if you’ll need to carry it up stairs to get where you’re going. Apple says this is coming first to New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Shanghai, and Beijing, though more will come in the months following iOS 14’s release. Additionally, it will get a view that lets EV drivers know where chargers are along their routes. Image: Apple Apple is debuting its digital car key, coming in iOS 13 and iOS 14 Apple introduced a new way to unlock and start your car, well, just the BMW 5 Series for now. You can register a key in your Apple Wallet, and when you walk up to a supported car, you’ll unlock it via NFC, then start the engine once your phone is resting on a pad. The keys are stored on-device, and it can be deleted from the cloud if you need to. What’s also cool about this feature is that you can create unique driving profiles for other iPhone users, giving user-specific permissions for, say, your kid, or no restrictions at all for someone else, like a spouse or other trusted person. App Clips are coming in iOS 14 Apple has debuted App Clips, which are like its version of Android’s Instant Apps. The gist is that you won’t need to download a full app to be able to gain access to what it offers, in addition to being able to make a purchase through it via Apple Pay. It seems great if you’re someone who doesn’t want to download more apps than you really need. Image: Apple A few changes coming to iPadOS 14 Similar to iOS 14, widgets are coming to the next version of iPadOS. It’s not clear yet if you can bring those out of the today view and into the home screen, like you can on iPhone. Apple is touting a new sidebar as its way of making it much easier to navigate apps. It showed it working on Apple Music and other apps. If you’re using your iPad as a laptop replacement, the sidebar should make it easier to do more without having to touch the screen. Apple also redesigned search on iPad, and it looks almost exactly like Spotlight on macOS. It can help you find contacts, search on the web, or serve as a Launchpad-like function to launch apps. GIF: Apple Handwriting with Apple Pencil is about to get better with iPadOS 14 Apple debuted a new feature called Scribble, which allows you to write in any text field with the Apple Pencil, then it will be automatically converted to text. The feature can automatically detect the context of the information you write, like a phone number or address, then direct you to the correct app when it’s tapped. This feature can also render handwriting in multiple languages into text on the iPad. AirPods will soon be able to seamlessly switch devices Apple is updating the software running on AirPods to let them connect automatically to whichever paired device starts playing audio. You’ll no longer need to manually select which source you want to connect to. You can see it working in the GIF above. The AirPods Pro are getting spatial audio Apple is utilizing the accelerometer in the AirPods Pro to provide spatial audio that tracks your head (and your device’s) location. Spatial audio should provide a more immersive sound experience by making you feel like you’re inside of the audio mix. Image: Apple watchOS 7’s Face Swapping feature makes it easy to share and get new watchfaces Have you seen a watchface that you like, but don’t know how to get it? Apple is making it easier to share watchfaces with a new feature called Face Swapping. You can add a watchface to your Apple Watch by finding one on a developer’s website, or through social media. The Apple Watch will track dancing in watchOS 7 The workout app uses the Apple Watch’s gyroscope and accelerometer, mixed with heart rate data, to track a range of dance types. This is a workout type that no other company has figured out, so I’m curious to see how this turns out. Sleep tracking is coming with watchOS 7 Apple is using machine learning to track your sleep. It utilizes the Apple Watch’s sensor to track your motion. The companion app on iPhone doesn’t require an Apple Watch to use, but your metrics will likely be a little more in-depth with one. Apple didn’t dive into the specifics on how sleep is tracked, so we’ll be on the lookout for that in the future. watchOS 7 can track handwashing Handwashing is a big deal right now, given the coronavirus pandemic. With that, watchOS 7 is getting a feature that uses machine learning to determine when you start washing your hands. The watch’s microphones listen for the sound of splashing water to confirm that you’re actually washing your hands, then it starts a cute countdown on the watchface. Apple develops a new smart home standard alongside Google, Amazon, and others Apple wants to broaden what kind of smart home tech that its users can use, in addition to HomeKit-compatible devices, so it formed a new alliance with the likes of Google, Amazon, Zigbee, and other companies to do just that. It absolutely flew through this section without much other info, but we’ll be watching to see where this goes. Apple TV is getting multiuser support for Apple Arcade If you’ve ever wanted to easily switch profiles so someone else can play an Apple Arcade title without deleting your progress, you’ll be able to easily do that with an upcoming update. Apple is also bringing support for the Xbox Elite 2 wireless controller and the Xbox Adaptive controller. Apple TV is getting picture-in-picture in tvOS 14 Any video app in tvOS 14 will be able to display in a PiP formation on Apple TV. Simply put, you’ll be able to watch more stuff on your TV without having to switch apps. To give an example, you can keep tabs on the news while you work out. Apple’s new macOS Big Sur software looks a lot like iOS Apple debuted its next major desktop software update, called macOS Big Sur. It features a big overhaul in design that brings it more in line with where iOS and iPadOS have been heading for the past few years. It’s even getting a lot of the features coming to iOS 14 and iPadOS 14, like widgets, messaging improvements like grouping and pinned conversations, and the ability to edit your Memoji. Apple is announcing its new silicon for its future computers Apple has been using Intel-based processors for years, but it’s making the long-rumored switch to its own silicon. It has been using its own tech for iPhones and iPads, and it’s not making the jump to covering its entire suite of computing products. The change is huge. It’s a big change for hardware, unleashing Apple’s own efforts in making components instead of being tied it to Intel’s progress, but it’s also a huge shift in software. Apple is making it possible to run apps made for Intel-based apps on the new Macs, as well as apps from other environments, like Linux. Additionally, thanks to using custom hardware, it can even run iPhone and iPad apps, which is a huge deal, to say the least. Apple WWDC 2020: the 18 biggest announcements
  15. What to expect from WWDC 2020: OS updates, ARM Macs, and more Will AirTags finally make an appearance? What about a new HomePod? First image of article image gallery. Please visit the source link to see all images. By all accounts, tech enthusiasts are in for a red letter day this Monday. Apple will kick off its annual Worldwide Developers Conference with a keynote at 10am PT/1pm ET. Apple execs will take the stage to announce major new updates to the company's various software platforms, and maybe more. It's going to be an unusual event this year. For the first time in WWDC's history, it will be held entirely online, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Apple will stream sessions by video, and will give registered developers Zoom-call-like training and help sessions to replace the sessions that are normally offered on-site. In a way, it could be a welcome democratization of WWDC, a conference that most Apple platform developers from around the world can't afford to attend in person. Apple has long offered videos of its sessions on-demand through its developer portal, but there will nonetheless be some firsts for the virtual attendees this year. We'll be liveblogging the event on Monday and covering all the news, of course. Here's what we expect to see at the event, from new OS features to hardware launches to that long-rumored ARM transition for Macs. iOS (or iPhoneOS) 14 and iPadOS 14 We probably know a lot more about iOS 14 than we usually do about a new version of the iPhone's software before WWDC. That's because pre-release builds of iOS 14 apparently leaked in part or in full to 9to5Mac. Frankly, so much leaked that we don't have room to summarize all of it here. And there's surely still plenty that didn't leak. Apple introduced sort-of-Android-like home screen widgets in iPadOS (they're not as robust as Android's widgets, but they're something at least) and we could see those come to the iPhone. Some of the leaks indicate that Apple will introduce an all-apps view similar in function to the Apple Watch home screen, and that view will have sorting options or allow users to easily see which apps have unread notifications. Below: Photos of Dark Mode, one of the biggest recent design changes to iOS 13, from our 2019 iOS 13 review. First image of article image gallery. Please visit the source link to see all images. There have been reports that Apple plans to do something users have been asking for since the App Store first launched: change the default system apps for things like email and web browsing. That would obviously be very welcome, but we'll believe it when we see it. We don't want to get our hopes up, after all. More leaks claim the new iPhone and iPad software will have a feature called "Clips," which would allow users to scan a QR Code or maybe perform some other action to get nominally functional images of apps that haven't been installed yet, offering some basic features from those apps. Android introduced a couple versions of this idea a while back, for its part. Messages is almost always a focus in new iOS updates, and it looks like we'll see that again this year. Users will reportedly be able to @ mention each other in group chats, like on Slack, Facebook, or Twitter. Additionally, users could gain the ability to mark messages as unread to return to them later. It also seems like Apple is considering adding the ability to undo sending a message you decide you shouldn't have sent, though it will let the person on the other end know that some omission occurred. The leaks also say Apple will introduce a new fitness app that will include workout regimens and videos, as well as an augmented reality app. Details on the AR app are light, though. One of the most incredible rumors is that Apple could introduce a version of Xcode that runs on the iPad Pro. This one came from a Twitter leaker, not the iOS 14 pre-release build leaks. If you're a developer and you know how all this works under the hood, you'll probably agree that seems like a stretch unless it's a stripped-down version of the Mac app missing some key features. But stranger things have happened, we suppose, and the lack of iPad versions of big apps like this is something we've repeatedly knocked iPadOS and the new iPads on, so it's worth mentioning. After iOS 12 and iOS 13 saw some pretty serious bugs at launch, Apple made some changes to how it tests software internally. The hope is that iOS 14 will be more stable at launch. Apple has said for a couple recent iOS updates that it wanted to focus on stability in that update and then make sweeping feature introductions in the next one, but those stability-oriented updates ended up not being as stable as expected, so that seems to be the narrative once again with iOS 14. This isn't from as credible a source as some of other reports, but it makes a lot of sense: a leaker said just this week that Apple will drop the "iOS" name and go back to "iPhoneOS" so it fits neatly with macOS and iPadOS. macOS 10.16 [Insert California Landmark Name] Not nearly as much as known about macOS 10.16, but we know for sure it will be covered at the event. Lately, Apple has put a lot more fanfare around iOS and iPadOS updates than macOS ones. Last year, the focus was on Catalyst, a framework that allowed iPad apps to be ported to macOS more easily than before in some cases. This year, very little has leaked about the new version of macOS in advance of the conference. We really don’t know what to expect. We can guess that some of those new iOS features mentioned above will make it to the Mac. But there’s definitely not always feature parity, so it’s hard to know which ones. We also don’t know what Apple will name this new version of the operating system. Ever since Apple adopted the macOS name in lieu of Mac OS X, it has named every annual update after a place of natural wonder in California. That’s likely to continue, but who can say for sure? We’ll find out Monday. watchOS 7 We have a little more to go on about watchOS 7 than we do about macOS, in part thanks to its tight integration with iOS 14 and the slew of iOS 14 leaks in recent months. Credible rumors to date include the ability to share Watch faces, as well as a handful of new faces, including faces made from the photos you have stored in the Photos app. One of the biggest likely changes is under the hood. Reports have said that Apple will make watchOS apps fully standalone. This sort of already happened as far as the user is concerned, but not really, as apps were still based on extensions. That’s very likely to change imminently. Other likely features include blood oxygen tracking and a kids’ mode with new parental controls. The beginning of the ARM transition for Macs In recent weeks, a widely circulated Bloomberg report from a reputable journalist claimed that Apple plans to announce the first steps in a transition away from Intel for the Mac product line. New Macs would start sporting Apple-designed CPUs and GPUs derived from the A13 or A14 expected in future iPhones. This would be monumental news, but at this point, it would not be at all surprising. The report is only the latest in a series of reports making the same case. This one said that Apple plans to transition the entire Mac product line to its own silicon, but not all at once. We don't know which machines would make the switch first, but a MacBook- or MacBook Air-like product seems like a relatively safe bet. There are many benefits for Apple in making this transition. Philosophically, the company has always argued for full integration of hardware, software, and services, but reliance on Intel's chips has undermined that. Intel's sometimes shaky roadmap has also stymied Apple's attempts to update Macs in the way and at the rate it wants, too. Apple's own silicon found in recent iPhone and iPad devices makes a case that an actively cooled Mac with a chip based on the same architecture could deliver supremely impressive performance. If nothing else, we might expect battery life improvements. It would also mean Apple can introduce some mobile-specific hardware, like the Neural Engine machine learning chip, that it very likely wishes it could put in the Mac more easily. In the long run, users could end up with faster, more reliable, and maybe even cheaper Macs that more gracefully run apps that originated on the iPhone App Store, which (depending on what your priorities are) might be considered a healthier and more robust software ecosystem than what the Mac enjoys—and Apple would have greater control over the machines that make the backbone of its entire product lineup. It could be a real headache for developers, though. Apple last made such a major architecture change in Macs about 15 years ago. It generally went more smoothly than some feared, but there was still plenty of friction, and some developers' apps and businesses didn't survive. If Apple makes this announcement as predicted, we believe it will be a forward-looking announcement, possibly not even tied to any immediate hardware release. And it will probably focus heavily on the tools and support Apple will offer to developers to help prepare for the inevitable. A new iMac The iMac was last updated over a year ago, in March of 2019. A leaker by the name of Sonny Dickson posted to Twitter that a new iMac is coming at WWDC that will incorporate “iPad Pro design language,” “Pro Display-like bezels,” an “AMD Navi GPU,” the T2 chip, and “no more Fusion Drive.” In addition to the length of time since the last iMac refresh, this sounds quite plausible because of what’s said to be included. For example, the iMac is the last Mac left without a pure SSD storage solution—and Apple has been cutting the prices of its solid-state storage across its product lines over the past year or two, indicating that the economics of shipping an SSD-only iMac are more attractive than ever. We don’t usually write news articles based on Twitter posts from supposed leakers, and we didn't in this case, but since we're speculating in this non-news article... the timing really does seem right here. So while we’re not exactly predicting it’s going to happen, it’d be fair to say we think it’d be welcome. Below: Photos of the iMac Pro from our 2018 review. First image of article image gallery. Please visit the source link to see all images. It’s also worth noting that Apple has not refreshed the iMac Pro in a significant way since it was first introduced back at the end of 2017. We liked a lot about the iMac Pro when we reviewed it, though it seems the bet it made on eGPUs has been slow to reach a payoff. If Apple is still committed to that product, this seems like as good a time as any to introduce an updated version. But we haven’t heard anything credible one way or the other. AirTags It feels like we've listed this one in our predictions for every Apple event for, well, ever. At this point, it's absolutely no secret that Apple is at least experimenting with a competitor to Tile's personal geolocation tags. A few reports have called Apple's take "AirTags." They would work similarly to Tile devices, but with some added features. For example, items you place them on or in would appear in an augmented reality view on your iPhone or iPad (or future glasses), and Apple introduced a ultra-wideband chip to recent iPhones called the U1 that helps the phone communicate with other devices in close proximity with high precision. So far, that chip has not been applied to much, and this seems like the perfect use case. 9to5Mac found references to AirTags in the iOS 14 build it scoured for all those details listed above in the iOS and iPadOS section of this article. That doesn't mean they're coming with iOS 14, necessarily. Traces have been found in pre-release builds of Apple's operating systems of features or products that took a long time to see the light of day, or that never came to fruition at all. But we're going to list AirTags yet again because surely, one of these days, it will actually happen. Right? The rest: tvOS, Apple TV, and HomePod Apple is sure to introduce a new version of tvOS, since that platform's development closely follows that of iOS. We have no idea yet what will be included in a new version of tvOS, though. Below: Photos of the Apple TV 4K from our 2017 review. First image of article image gallery. Please visit the source link to see all images. There have been some rumors that Apple will introduce a totally revamped Apple TV set-top-box, but count us as skeptical. Here's why: the main reason we can see for doing that would be to support new home theater and entertainment technologies that the current Apple TV 4K can't drive. But the Apple TV 4K supports most of the latest-and-greatest. It offers Dolby Atmos, all the major HDR standards, and 4K. The best thing Apple could do for the Apple TV 4K is bring the price down. We would have said to look out for a new game controller peripheral bundled in too—to support Apple Arcade games—but that seems less likely now that the company has added support for two of the most popular controllers in the world: Sony's DualShock 4 and Microsoft's Xbox One controller. Below: Photos of the HomePod from our 2018 review. First image of article image gallery. Please visit the source link to see all images. The HomePod is in a similar predicament as the Apple TV 4K. It's already loaded to the gills with cutting-edge and premium features. It mainly needs to get much, much cheaper to compete with smart speakers from Amazon, Google, and Sonos. So if we see any HomePod hardware at WWDC, we expect it to be a lower-cost sibling to the current model, not a bigger-and-better one. What to expect from WWDC 2020: OS updates, ARM Macs, and more (To view the article's image galleries, please visit the above link)
  16. Apple says the App Store generated nearly half a trillion dollars last year Apple promotes the benefits of the App Store economy to developers (Image credit: Future) Apple says half a trillion dollars’ worth of commerce was generated globally by its App Store ecosystem in 2019, highlighting the platform’s role in the app economy and its value to businesses of all types and sizes across the world. The App Store launched in 2008 as a marketplace for applications and games for the iPhone, and later, the iPad. The marketplace has developed into a vast e-commerce and software platform which generated $519 billion (£410 bn) in 2019, according to a study conducted by Analysis Group. App Store revenues The company claims that direct commission from Apple to developers only accounts for a fraction of this figure, with the majority of income derived from the sales of goods and services. The largest single category is the sale of physical goods ($413 billion), followed by digital goods and services ($61 billion). Apple says it wanted to create a ‘snapshot’ of the App Store ecosystem at a time when lockdown is changing consumer behaviours and providing a boost to e-commerce. Credit: Apple (Image credit: Apple Inc.) “In a challenging and unsettled time, the App Store provides enduring opportunities for entrepreneurship, health and well-being, education, and job creation, helping people adapt quickly to a changing world,” said Tim Cook, Apple CEO. “We’re committed to doing even more to support and nurture the global App Store community — from one-developer shops in nearly every country to businesses that employ thousands of workers — as it continues to foster innovation, create jobs, and propel economic growth for the future.” Apple will also hope it will encourage developers and businesses to prioritise its platform over others. The App Store launched in 2008 as a way of distributing applications and games to iPhone, and later iPad, users. Traditionally, the App Store has generated more revenues than rival Google Play despite the significantly greater market share of Android. The less fragmented nature of the iOS ecosystem, the closed-shop nature of the App Store, and integrated billing and payment options have all contributed, as has the fact that iPhone users tend to spend more than their Android counterparts who also have a greater selection of marketplaces to choose from. Apple itself benefits from this too, earning commission on some transactions – such as app purchases and subscriptions. Apple says the App Store generated nearly half a trillion dollars last year
  17. The potential class action says Apple is enabling gambling. Most complaints about loot boxes (aka “surprise mechanics”) in games are levelled against the developers, but the latest is aiming at the stores offering those games. AppleInsider has learned of a potential class action lawsuit accusing Apple of profiting from the distribution of games with loot boxes, whose gambling element allegedly violates California law. The company is tacitly aware that loot boxes are gambling as it requires that creators disclose the “odds of winning,” according to the lawsuit, but it doesn’t ask for a notification that loot boxes exist. Companies are also allowed to set their own age ratings, making it possible for an app deemed kid-friendly to include gambling elements. The lawsuit cites numerous games that rely on loot boxes (if sometimes indirectly), including Mario Kart Tour, FIFA Soccer, Roblox and Brawl Stars. The lawsuit was filed by Rebecca Taylor, a parent whose child has allegedly fallen to the “predatory” tactics. The lawsuit isn’t guaranteed to get class action status. However, it steps up the pressure on Apple and other digital game sellers to clearly disclose the presence of loot boxes. There have already been efforts to regulate the games, and lawsuits like this could increase calls to regulate the stores as well. Source
  18. Pocket Casts and Castro are gone from China’s App Store Apple has removed Pocket Casts, the popular iOS and Android podcast client, from the App Store in China. The Cyberspace Administration of China has determined that it can be used to access content deemed illegal in the country, and has demanded that Apple remove the app as a result. It’s the second major podcast app to be removed from China’s App Store this month. “We believe podcasting is and should remain an open medium, free of government censorship,” Pocket Casts says in a statement posted to Twitter. “As such we won’t be censoring podcast content at their request. We understand this means that it’s unlikely that our iOS App will be available in China, but feel it’s a necessary step to take for any company that values the open distribution model that makes podcasting special.” Pocket Casts tells The Verge that Apple didn’t provide specifics on which content violated Chinese law upon request, instead suggesting that the team reach out to the Cyberspace Administration of China directly. The app was removed around two days after Apple contacted the developer. China represented its seventh biggest market, Pocket Casts says, and it was considered to be growing. Castro, another iPhone podcast app, was also recently pulled from China’s App Store. The developers say China made up 10 percent of its user base, although it accounted for a smaller percentage of paying subscribers. Apple didn’t provide Castro with specifics on what content fell foul of Chinese regulations, either. The Verge has contacted Apple for more information on the matter, including which podcasts China considers illegal and what actions developers are expected to take, but is yet to hear back. Source
  19. Apple WWDC 2020 starts June 22 – here's the full schedule Apple WWDC 2020's schedule kicks off with a June 22 keynote (Image credit: Apple) It’s official: Apple WWDC 2020 is starting June 22 in online-only format, and we now have a schedule for all the talks taking place at this year’s online version of the tech giant’s annual developer-focused show. Given it's an online-only show, no part of WWDC 2020 will cost money to experience, unlike the pricey tickets Apple sold to attend the event in-person. While the keynote and first day's videos will be free, the following content from June 23 to 26 will require viewers to be members of the Apple Developer Program; so long as you signed up before Apple's WWDC 2020 blog post went live, you can watch everything. After the WWDC 2020 keynote, which will go live at 10 AM PT / 1PM ET on June 22, a ‘Platforms State of the Union’ will go over ‘the latest advancements across iOS, iPadOS, macOS,’ and other operating systems – presumably giving an early look at what’s coming in the next versions of each. Even if you aren’t into software, these talks will give insight into the devices headed our way, like the iPhone 12 lineup expected to come later in 2020. Following those opening remarks, the WWDC 2020 schedule continues from June 23 to 26 with over a hundred engineering sessions led by Apple engineers diving into niche topics – which are aimed at developers, but could provide interesting insight into Apple devices to come. As previously stated, you'll need to be members of the Apple Developer Program to watch these. Developers can also request appointments with Apple engineers for 1-on-1 meetings, though you’ll have to be a member of the Apple Developer Program to sign up. How to watch WWDC 2020 While tickets to attend WWDC 2020 in person have been pretty expensive in years past, with limited video access for remote attendees, everyone’s watching from afar this year. The typically free-for-everyone keynote will stream live on June 22 on Apple’s website, the Apple TV app, YouTube, and through the Apple Developer app and website. To watch the following ‘Platforms State of the Union,’ you’ll need to log in to the Apple Developer app or website. Ditto for the engineering sessions, which will be posted as videos at 10am PT / 1pm ET the day they’re scheduled (June 23 to 26). Apple’s also planning to unveil its redesigned Apple Developer Forums on June 18 for anyone who wants to follow along or ask company engineers questions or start up some technical discussions. More info is coming ahead of the keynote via the Apple Developer app and website; developers who sign up for the Apple Developer program also get instructions over email. Apple WWDC 2020 starts June 22 – here's the full schedule
  20. Apple is now worth 1.5 trillion dollars The company had a big 24 hours on the market even as other stocks struggled. The Nasdaq chart representing Apple's stock performance over the past five years. Nasdaq 91 with 62 posters participating Today, Apple became the first US company to achieve a $1.5 trillion market capitalization. The stock surged even as investors began pulling back in many other areas of the economy. Reasons given by investors for the optimism include anticipation of the launch of a 5G iPhone this fall, signs of strong App Store sales, and interest in the potential of ARM-driven Macs, based on a Bloomberg report yesterday that said Apple may announce an ARM transition at its annual developer conference later this month. Yesterday and today, Apple's movement ran counter to most of the rest of the market, where investors' actions have reflected fear of a global coronavirus resurgence and anticipation of bad news from the US Federal Reserve in a report due out today. Market capitalization essentially means the total number of shares of a company being traded multiplied by the current trading value of a share in that company, making it the best publicly available measure of the company's actual value. Apple’s valuation in the stock market has seen a dramatic rally despite two major investor panics in the past two years: one at the turn of 2018 and 2019, when reports said iPhone sales were declining, and another when the pandemic first took root in China, where much of Apple’s critical operations and partners are located, earlier this year. It should be noted that Apple has embarked on an aggressive campaign to buy back some of its own shares to reduce its cash reserves, which many investors deemed to be excessive—but a measure of market capitalization accounts for that. After investors became concerned in 2018 and 2019 of Apple's over-reliance on the iPhone, the company has endeavored to launch more services and produce content that could at least partially make up for the smartphone slowdown, which also affects its competitors. Generally, investors have been happy with the progress they've seen. Along with that services and content push, anticipation of ARM-based Macs that might offer competitive advantages in a pitch to consumers, optimism about the prospects for a 5G iPhone, and interest in the long-term potential of Apple's explorations of health and augmented reality technology seem to have given investors enough to be optimistic about. That said, today's stock market is nothing if not volatile. Time will tell if the growth continues or if shareholders will again get skittish. Apple is now worth 1.5 trillion dollars
  21. Apple plans to announce ARM transition for all Macs at WWDC 2020 Report claims internal Apple testing has seen “sizable improvements” over Intel. Apple discusses the 2018 iPad Pro's A12X CPU and GPU on stage at its October 30, 2018 event. Valentina Palladino 241 with 136 posters participating At its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) later this month, Apple plans to announce the beginning of its transition from Intel-based Macs to ARM-based ones with internally designed CPUs, according to a report from Bloomberg. The report comes from Mark Gurman, who has had a generally good track record on reporting the internal workings of Apple and cites "people familiar with the plans." The sources say that Apple is working on at least three different systems-on-a-chip for Macs. The first would be based on the A14, a processor planned for the new iPhone models coming later in 2020. The Mac processors would be manufactured by Apple partner TSMC “using a 5-nanometer production technique.” The project is codenamed Kalamata within Apple's walls. WWDC begins on June 22. For the first time in its history, it will be an online-only event this year—a result of concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Bloomberg report notes twice that world events and other factors make it possible Apple will delay the announcement. But the company's leadership wants to share the plans at WWDC if possible as a way to give Mac software developers ample time to adjust to the change, which is expected to begin with the launch of the first ARM Mac hardware in 2021. Apple last made a major transition in architecture when it moved from PowerPC processors to Intel ones in 2006, and it adopted a similar strategy of giving developers significant notice and providing tools for the change. As was the case between PowerPC and Intel, differences between Intel and ARM processors are substantial and will require developers to make changes to their apps. Bloomberg's sources clarified that the ARM Macs will continue to run macOS, not a branch of the iOS or iPadOS software used in ARM-based iPhones and iPads. That said, Apple began seriously planning the transition for Macs after it successfully adapted an iPad Pro processor for internal testing with Macs in 2018. Apple has already started blurring the lines between iPadOS and macOS software in its developer initiatives. It introduced Catalyst, a framework for easily porting iPad apps to the Mac, last year. But most developers see Catalyst as a stopgap for companies that already have iPad apps before the ultimate plan gains momentum—that ultimate plan seems to be SwiftUI, a framework for developing apps for multiple Apple operating systems side by side. Testing of ARM-based Mac chips at Apple has produced "sizable improvements" compared to Intel chips in graphics and AI performance. The new chips are also more power-efficient, which Apple could use either to improve battery life or produce thinner, lighter laptops—or whatever combination of the two it deems desirable. The shift would also free Apple from the shackles of Intel's development roadmap, which has on more than one occasion stymied Apple's ability to release the products it wants to, when it wishes to. Further, Apple might no longer have to introduce secondary chips like the T2 security chip; it could put much or all of the silicon it wants on the system-on-chip, including a counterpart to its proprietary machine learning and AI processors from the iPhone and iPad, which currently have no peer in Macs. All Macs will make the change Rumors and reports have circulated about Apple's plan to move to its own ARM-based Mac chips for years, but onlookers have been divided in their predictions about which Macs would make that transition. Some have suggested that ARM chips are ideal for a laptop like the MacBook Air but that Apple would at least initially forgo introducing ARM to the iMac Pro or Mac Pro, since third-party software support from companies like Adobe and Autodesk is essential for those machines' use cases. Others, though, have said Apple might start with the high-end desktops since performance matters most on those machines, and it could work with a small cabal of critical software companies directly to ease the transition. According to today's report, though, Apple plans to transition its entire line, from MacBooks to the Mac Pro—albeit not all at once. The report doesn't indicate which machines will hit the market first, only that Apple plans to bring this change to all Macs at some point. Bloomberg’s Gurman also notes that this shift is unlikely to drastically affect Intel's bottom line right away, as Macs only barely breach double-digit market share against other types of personal computers. But he speculates that the move might inspire other laptop manufacturers, who are prone to mimicking Apple in some products, to do the same—and that could make for a much bigger concern at Intel. Regardless of whether Apple moves forward with its ARM announcement plans, Cupertino will at a minimum introduce new versions of macOS, iPadOS, iOS, watchOS, and tvOS with “deeper integration of outside apps and services” (per Bloomberg) and expanded augmented reality features, as well as performance improvements. Rumors have also circulated about a new iMac model that may be introduced at the event. Apple plans to announce ARM transition for all Macs at WWDC 2020
  22. Apple has spent years and millions of dollars on automating its production lines with technology, and it has always reverted to using skilled human beings instead. The most profitable technology company in the world, and arguably the most technologically advanced firm in history, won't use automation to make its products. Apple has repeatedly tried to build machines to build its machines, but in every case bar its recycling plans, it has failed — and reverted to using human beings instead of robots. "Robotics and automation is fantastic and amazing when it works," David Bourne told The Information when discussing his time working with Apple supplier Foxconn. "But when something breaks, God knows what happens." Bourne, who is now principle systems scientist at the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, used to work with Foxconn on multiple automation projects that had been intended to produce Apple's products. It was Foxconn that pressed Apple on automation, and it was also Foxconn that impressed Apple on the idea. In 2012, Apple executives including Tim Cook were reportedly in China to see the results of an experimental production line. It was built to assemble the iPad by robots and showed the parts being cut, polished and then partially assembled into the final product. Terry Guo, then chairman of Foxconn, reportedly told Apple that his firm's assembly lines would contain one million robots within two years. Seven years on, in 2019, Foxconn was using just 100,000 robots across all of its manufacturing. Neither Foxconn nor Apple would comment publicly about why the automation was so much lower than predicted, but according to The Information, sources say it's down to dissatisfaction by Apple. Apple's own automation teams Seemingly as a result of Foxconn's original efforts, Apple launched its own secret robotics lab in 2012, based around six miles from Apple Park. It housed a team of automation specialists and robotics engineers who initially tried mimicking the iPad automatic production line. They were given the target of reducing the amount of human labor needed by half. Specifically, Apple wanted to be able to cut 15,000 workers from the production line, which represents about 50% of the number of workers used at key times. It didn't work. Typical problems that arose include how Apple's use of glue required precision the machinery couldn't reliably match. And the tiny screws needed required the automation to correctly pick and position them but that same automation couldn't detect problems the way a human hand could. This lab was abandoned in 2018, although reportedly some of its work was picked up and continued by other parts of Apple. It wasn't the only department working on the project — and arguably wasn't the biggest failure. That title goes to the millions of dollars spent automating production of what would become the MacBook in 2015. That automated production line was started the year before in 2014, but persistent failures meant not only was it also abandoned, but that MacBook itself was postponed by some months. MacBook The attempt to automate the production of the MacBook went beyond a test department in Cupertino. The equipment was installed in a factory in China, and it was intended to assemble the screen, the keyboard, and the trackpad into the MacBook's casing. Reportedly, though, there were problems with even the conveyor belt that moved parts along the line. It was erratic, it was sometimes slow, but the greatest issue was that parts along the line kept breaking down. The MacBook was delayed to 2015 because of automation failures What was worse, it wouldn't always be clear that something had gone wrong. "If things stop working, the automation can't detect that all the time and repair it," Bourne told The Information. Insurmountable issues If any firm were capable of fixing a technology problem, it would surely be Apple, but alongside technical issues there were more fundamental ones. Most specifically, since Apple redesigns its major hardware in at least some way every year, it would also have to redesign the automated factory lines. Compared to that, training workers on new designs is vastly easier and quicker. Plus, one reason both Foxconn and Apple were interested in automation is that as well as being dependent on workers, that dependency fluctuates greatly. Foxconn was having problems recruiting enough staff for the peak periods just after, say, an iPhone launch. Automation would theoretically reduce that problem, but Apple already has a way of removing it. When it needs to, Apple is currently able to switch production to other companies. If there's a problem or if more production is needed, it has alternative sources it can leverage. If those sources had to have annually-updated automated production lines installed by Apple, the company would not have the flexibility it has now. So more than overcoming technical issues, it is the series of business rationales that are likely to keep Apple using human labor in the production of its machines. It's not just Apple, either, as both Tesla and Boeing have famously attempted and abandoned automation for the same reasons. Source
  23. Top court rules iGiant's trademark infringed by components In a setback for the right-to-repair movement, Norway's Supreme Court has upheld a decision that a repair shop's use of unauthorized iPhone screens violated Apple's trademark. In July 2017, Norwegian customs officials intercepted a package from Hong Kong, sent to Henrik Huseby's repair store PCKompaniet, with 63 replacement smartphone touchscreens, all but one of which bore the Apple logo. According to Huseby's Supreme Court filing, these screens were refurbished, meaning they were pulled from old phones for resale, and the Apple logos would not be visible to anyone because they had been obscured. Apple insisted some of these screens were counterfeit and did not originate from the company's supply chain. In November, 2017, after Huseby refused to destroy the unapproved components, Apple filed a trademark lawsuit to prevent the screens from being used to repair iPhones. In February, 2018, Huseby won the initial round in an Oslo court on the basis that he never claimed the parts were approved by Apple. The court told Apple to pay Huseby 13,700 NOK, or about $1,450, £1,150 or €1,290. The iPhone maker then took its claim to Norway's Court of Appeals, which the following year ruled in Apple's favor because the parts unlawfully appropriated Apple's trademark. That decision attracted criticism from supporters of the right to repair movement for the court's failure to consider environmental sustainability as a justification for using refurbished parts. "The core of the case is the right of repairers to access spare parts without Apple approval," wrote Maja van der Velden, informatics professor at the University of Oslo, in a blog post last year. "This right is under attack by Apple’s drive to control how and whom can repair the Apple products you own." Huseby appealed to Norway's Supreme Court. He said in a plea for help paying his legal costs that the company was trying to use intellectual property law "to make my job and the job of millions independent repair businesses almost impossible." The Norwegian Supreme Court on Tuesday affirmed [PDF] the appellate ruling. The high court's decision orders Huseby to destroy the 62 phone screens seized by customs officials and to pay Apple's legal costs, 247,500 NOK or about $26,000, £20,820 or €23,300. Previously, the appellate ruling directed Huseby to pay Apple more than about 114,000 NOK, $12,000, £9,500 or €10,700 in legal costs for the initial case and the appeal. This could be crushing for his business. Advocacy group Right to Repair Europe did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but characterized the decision as "a dark day for our cause" on Twitter. "We're sending strength and moral support to Henrik Huseby today," the group said. "He took a stand where other businesses were afraid to. And he will pay a heavy price." Apple, after years of criticism for difficult-to-repair products and hostility toward independent repair vendors, last year made a concession to the right-to-repair movement by announcing that it will provide independent repair shops with access to its technical documentation. There are about 20 right-to-repair bills being considered in states across the US. In response to a US House Judiciary Committee competition inquiry addressed to various large tech companies last year, Apple responded with a letter [PDF] insisting that it doesn't prevent consumers from seeking out third-party repairs and that it has lost money on its repair business every year since 2009. Apple did not respond to a request for comment. Source
  24. The Apple AR glasses might be launching as soon as 2021 Either 2021 or 2022... probably (Image credit: TechRadar) When it comes to gadget rumors, not all of the stars align all of the time: for example, we've just heard that the long-awaited Apple augmented reality glasses could be launching in 2021, right after another prediction put the year of release as 2022. So which is it? Pushing the 2021 launch schedule is noted Apple tipster Jon Prosser, who has a track record as good as anyone when it comes to staring into the Apple crystal ball. His sources are usually some of the best in the business. In the 2022 camp is analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, another very well-respected figure in Apple and tech circles. That prediction is based on supply chain leaks, and we've got no reason to doubt the accuracy of the information. Whichever year these AR specs do arrive, Prosser has added another couple of tidbits of information: the device is apparently "sleek as hell" and runs a dashboard user interface with the name (or codename) Starboard. We've now heard so many rumors about Apple's AR glasses that it would be a surprise if development wasn't already well advanced. We know that the tech giant is keen on augmented reality, as demonstrated by the AR features in its iPads and iPhones. Ming-Chi Kuo and other sources had previously specified the launch window for the AR wearable at sometime this year, 2020, though that now seems unlikely to happen (especially with a global pandemic happening as well). Other media reports have previously hinted that 2023 will be the year of the Apple AR specs, with a bulkier AR headset coming in 2022. It may be that the date keeps changing as Apple makes new breakthroughs and hits new challenges with the technology. Apple being Apple, it won't want to launch the device until everything is just right. Remember that Google Glass launched all the way back in 2013, though the specs never achieved the sort of mainstream adoption that Google was presumably hoping for. Source: The Apple AR glasses might be launching as soon as 2021 (TechRadar)
  25. Apple’s AirPods Studio might be the smartest over-ear headphones ever Apple’s next-gen headphones can tell which ear is which, apparently (Image credit: Curved) Apple is said to be designing the AirPods Studio, and a brand new leak suggests that these will be the smartest pair of headphones we've ever seen. The over-the-ear AirPods Studio – also rumored to be called AirPods X – will include a number of sensors that can detect how you’re wearing them and re-orient their left and right audio channels to match, according to sources who spoke to 9to5Mac. On top of correctly identifying which ear is which, the headphones will supposedly be able to detect whether the headphones are on your head or neck, and pause the music when you’re not wearing them, a common feature of in-ear headphones, like AirPods and AirPods Pro, but one that's seldom seen on over-ear cans. The sources who spoke confidentially confirmed that the AirPods Studio will include Active Noise Cancellation and be able to use Transparency Mode like the Sony WH-1000XM3, but differentiate themselves by offering custom-tuning on iOS and macOS devices using, we assume, a new standalone app. Two styles: AirPods Studio and Studio Light? While 9to5Mac's source couldn’t confirm earlier reports about there being two separate models, the publication does reference an earlier report from Bloomberg that points to two separate models: one that uses premium materials, and another that uses lower-quality components but is likely to be less expensive. The potential AirPods Studio price and release date of the headphones are just two of the many, many unknown factors at this point, but sources have told Bloomberg that the premium model is likely to cost $349 (around £249, AU$500) to compete with the Bose NC700 and could be unveiled as early as June at the Apple WWDC 2020 keynote. Until we get the full details from Apple it’s worth being skeptical about all the AirPods Studio rumors, but having multiple sources all saying the same thing definitely bodes well and could provide some early information about Apple’s next-gen headphones. Source: Apple’s AirPods Studio might be the smartest over-ear headphones ever (TechRadar)
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