Fedrico Viticci’s First 48 Hours With the New 12.9-inch iPad Pro →

November 13, 2018 · 07:05

Federico Viticci, on MacStories:

In practice, I find the iPad Pro’s new design appealing for a couple of reasons. Visually, it’s striking. Whether I’m holding the iPad Pro and using the multitouch keyboard or typing at a desk with the Smart Keyboard Folio, all I can see is a screen that elegantly reaches the corners of its enclosure and embraces them. It’s beautiful, and a testament to Apple’s terrific work on Liquid Retina displays. Again, compared to older iPads it instantly feels like the future, available today. The new iPad Pro elicits the same feeling of last year’s switch from the iPhone 7 to the iPhone X, albeit at a much bigger scale.

Like the iPhone 4 (Retina) and later the iPhone X (“all-screen”) were the two major stepping-stones to the future, the 2018 iPad Pros’ design make it feel like a completely new visual experience — a first since the original iPad from 2010. Realistically, nothing much has changed, but it feels like we have the future in our hands.

From an ergonomic standpoint, I also believe the new design makes it easier to hold the 12.9″ iPad Pro in both landscape and portrait; particularly for portrait orientation, I find typing with my thumbs on the software keyboard sort of possible again, whereas the old design with the thicker bezels on each side often resulted in giving up thumb-typing on the large iPad after a few minutes.

Federico states that thumb-typing is “sort of possible”, which makes me glad I went for the 11-inch model. I probably wouldn’t have thumb-typed this post on its larger brother, either going for an external keyboard or my MacBook Pro instead.


iSH — an iOS Linux Shell for Your iPhone or iPad →

November 13, 2018 · 06:53

Lawrence Abrams, for Bleeping Computer:

Have you ever wanted to run a Linux shell on your iOS device to transfer files, write shell scripts, or simply to use Vi to develop code or edit files?  Now you can, with a project called iSH that is currently available as a TestFlight beta for iOS devices.

iSH is a project that aims to bring a Linux shell to iOS devices using a usermode x86 emulator. iSH is built on the Alpine Linux distro, which is designed to have a small footprint, be secure, and easy to use with little or no distracting bells and whistles.

There’s a link to apply for the TestFlight beta there.

via @stroughtonsmith


Should Apple Make a 15-inch iPad Pro →

November 12, 2018 · 10:02

Chance Miller, on 9to5Mac:

With the recent push towards smaller bezels, some are calling for Apple to make an even bigger iPad Pro. While the largest iPad currently sold by Apple is 12.9-inches, some iPad fans say Apple could push that to around 15-inches.

For instance, a couple of weeks back, developer Steven Troughton-Smithshowed off how iOS would need little work to be capable of running on a 14.9-inch iPad Pro. Safari, for example, could show two side-by-side tabs, as well as a third app with a 14.9-inch display.

I had the opportunity to use a 15-inch Surface Book 2 for a few weeks and I found myself using the screen detached quite a lot. Sure, it’s unwieldy at that size, but when I sat down in a comfy chair, I used it in portrait, resting the bottom on my lap. At 15 inches, it was a huge reading slab, perfect for browsing my RSS feeds or the web, for example. The funny thing is that the 12.9-inch iPad is actually worse in this scenario — it’s too small to use rested in my lap and too heavy to use one-handed.


Will Hains And Marco Arment on the Wobbly Smart Keyboard Folio →

November 11, 2018 · 09:35

Will Hains, on his blog:

I heard my friend Casey describe a car he was reviewing as “tossable”. I’m pretty sure that’s not a word in any version of the English language, but the meaning is clear.

That word floated up in my mind as I struggled to fold and unfold the 12.9-inch behemoth, to pry it from my office desk, and to get it in and out of my bag. It felt too awkward and unwieldy to quickly whip out while on the train and crunch through a few email replies.

I got very good at handling my old 10.5-inch iPad Pro, even propping up the too-clever-by-half keyboard cover. It was just more… tossable.

I too was extremely tempted to go down the 12.9-inch route at first but then I remembered my experience with the first generation model of this size. I like to use my iPad to read and thumb-type (e.g. when using Twitter) and the on-screen keyboard of the larger model is just not built for this. It should be smaller (or there should be a choice of an alternate keyboard). Weight is another issue — personally I don’t find it comfortable to hold with one hand for extended periods of time. The larger screen and the ability to run two full-sized portrait apps next to each other do not make up for this.

In practice, it means the top edge of the iPad Pro 12.9”, when propped up in its keyboard cover is very high off the desk. It’s harder to reach the top of the screen when there’s no keyboard shortcut to go back a screen, and the left-edge swipe gesture is unavailable. And when I did tap the top of the screen, the whole thing wobbled.

I first read about the wobbly screen in the Smart Keyboard Folio in Will’s post and layer saw that Marco Arment mentioned it in his video review. Do watch the whole thing — it comes at the iPad from a different and interesting perspective.

I don’t believe I saw anyone else mention this in anywhere else and it could be a deal-breaker for some. Personally, I’m not getting Apple’s Smart Keyboard Folio — it’s just too expensive for what it offers.

Having said all that, I just thumb-typed this post on my 11-inch iPad, which I wouldn’t have bothered to do on the 12.9-inch model — I’d have put it off for later, when I had an external keyboard connected.


Apple Walks Ars Through the iPad Pro’s A12X System on a Chip →

November 8, 2018 · 10:07

Samuel Axon:

The iPad Pro outperforms every MacBook Pro we tested except for the most recent, most powerful 15-inch MacBook Pro with an 8th generation Intel Core i9 CPU. Generally, these laptops cost three times as much as the iPad Pro.

“You typically only see this kind of performance in bigger machines—bigger machines with fans,” Shimpi claimed. “You can deliver it in this 5.9 millimeter thin iPad Pro because we’ve built such a good, such a very efficient architecture.”

The hardware is plenty fast. Now we just need software to make real use of all this horsepower.


No More Speed Bumps for Macs, Only Meaningful Updates →

November 6, 2018 · 15:39

John Gruber:

Behind the scenes last week in New York, I asked a few folks from Apple for any sort of hint why these two Macs — the MacBook Air and Mac Mini — went so long between updates. One thing I was told is that Apple wants to focus on “meaningful updates”. The days of “speed bump” updates are largely over. The value just isn’t there.

Guess I’m not getting a quad-core 13-inch MacBook Pro without a Touch Bar anytime soon…


The New MacBook Air — ‘Sometimes, That’s Enough’ →

November 6, 2018 · 12:15

Dieter Bohn, writing for The Verge:

That fan is a weird place to start when talking about the new $1,199 MacBook Air. I’d rather jump into all the many good things there are to talk about: the pixel density on the new display, smaller bezels, Touch ID, the T2 security chip, a larger trackpad, and a smaller design. I’ll get into all that. But I want to hang with this fan noise for another minute because its whirring encapsulates the most important thing to know about this MacBook Air.

Namely: it’s a computer that will let you do whatever you want, even though some of those things are probably beyond its capabilities. It won’t say “no” when you want to open 20 tabs and eight apps and then edit a photo. (Though, sometimes, with a fan and spinning beachball, it will say “uncle.”) Most of all, it’s a computer that is familiar. It does everything you expect in a way that you’re used to.

Sometimes, that’s enough.

I’m still waiting for a 15 W TDP quad-core MacBook, be it a MacBook Air or refreshed MacBook Pro Escape. There’s currently a hole in the line-up and it feels that it’s there so as not to cannibalize MacBook Pro sales — the Air has a 7 W CPU, the Pros have 28 W parts, and the 2017 Escape has dual-core 15 W processors. Where are the quad-core 15 W TDP Intel Core i5s and Core i7s?

And no, no Touch Bar for me, thanks.


iPad Pro 10.5-inch vs. 11-inch On-Screen Keyboard

November 6, 2018 · 11:54

Since the iPad Pro reviews have started to trickle out yesterday, I was looking for a comparison between the on-screen keyboards. I own a 10.5-inch iPad and will be switching to the 11-inch model tomorrow (hopefully, if there are no delays!), but I couldn’t wait. Luckily Steve Troughton-Smith had the simulator handy and helped me out1.

Above is the 10.5-inch keyboard in portait orientation, while the new 11-inch edition is below. You can click the images to load them full-screen and use the arrow keys (or swipe on them) to navigate between the two.


Make of this what you will but I can’t say that those additional keys are useful for the way I use my iPad. I’ll find out soon enough, but I am curious if it will be more comfortable to thumb-type on than the older one.

  1. Thanks Steve!

Apple iPad Pro Review 2018 — Future of Computing, Not a Laptop Replacement →

November 5, 2018 · 15:43

Nilay Patel, for The Verge:

I use Lightroom CC all the time and I would love to manage and edit all my photos on an iPad Pro, especially since editing with the Apple Pencil is so much fun on this display. But I have no desire to import hundreds of RAW files into my camera roll and iCloud photos account. When I brought this up, Apple very proudly pointed to a new Siri Shortcut from Adobe that imports photos from the camera roll into Lightroom and then automatically deletes them from the camera roll.

I couldn’t test that Lightroom Siri Shortcut, since it’s not yet available. But I can tell you that macro-based hacks around the limitations of an operating system are not usually included in bold visions of the future of computing, and that Siri Shortcut is a pure hack around the limitations Apple has imposed on the iPad Pro.

Oh, but it gets worse. I shoot photos in JPG+RAW, and the iOS PhotoKit API only allows apps to grab one or the other from the camera roll. So I could only import my RAW images into Lightroom, leaving the JPGs behind to clutter up my camera roll and iCloud storage. That’s untenable, so I just gave up and imported everything directly into Lightroom using my Mac, because my Mac doesn’t insist on abstracting the filesystem away into nonsense.

This is my single biggest gripe with Apple and Adobe — they still haven’t figured out how to make this as simple as on a Mac (or Windows machine, for that matter). This basically makes it impossible for me to use an iPad for processing my RAW files. I’m still hoping both companies get their act together, but after 8 years, I’m closer to just accepting this won’t happen.

Apple seems to want it both ways with the iPad Pro: it loves to tout the iPad’s laptop-dwarfing sales figures and industry-leading performance, but when pushed on the iPad’s limitations, the company insists that the iPad is still an ongoing attempt to build the future of computing, not a laptop replacement.

But after eight years, this double-sided argument is no longer tenable. Unlike virtually every other computer, the iPad is a product of Apple’s singular vision: the company designs the display, the processor, the operating system, and the limits of the applications and accessories that plug into it. And after all this time, it’s clear that whatever roadblocks and frustrations exist in using the iPad Pro are there because Apple wants them there. There just aren’t that many excuses left.

I still love the iPad but it’s far from being a laptop replacement for so many people. Apple did finally cave and introduce the Files.app so I’m keeping my fingers crossed for substantial changes in iOS 13, but I’m not holding my breath.


iOS 12.1 Brings Group FaceTime and New Emoji to iPhone and iPad →

October 30, 2018 · 07:40

iOS 12.1 will be available Tuesday, October 30, bringing Group FaceTime and more than 70 new emoji to iPhone and iPad. FaceTime changed the way people communicate and share important moments, and now with Group FaceTime, it’s easy to chat with more people than ever before — from 2 to 32 people. iOS 12.1 also brings Depth Control in real-time preview and Dual SIM support to iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max and iPhone XRcustomers.


Apple Watch ECG Will Be Limited by System Region Settings and Can Be Changed to Enable Use Outside US →

October 29, 2018 · 13:20

Guilherme Rambo, on 9to5Mac:

This limitation is not enforced by hardware, and if you buy an Apple Watch Series 4 in any country, it includes the new sensors. Looking at code within iOS related to the ECG feature, we’ve been able to confirm that its limitation to the US will be based on the software region of the user’s devices (iPhone and Apple Watch).

I wish Apple just required users, in areas of the world without regulatory approval, to understand that the ECG function is for their own personal use and that they shouldn’t bother sharing the information with doctors — a clearly worded pop-up or instructional screen should be sufficient. I don’t plan on switching my region to anything else because this is a hassle in a number of areas (which I don’t recall now but I remember doing it once and a number of things frustrated me).


Google’s Night Sight for Pixel Phones Will Amaze You →

October 26, 2018 · 23:42

Vlad Savov, for The Verge:

If you listen closely, you might be able to hear every other phone camera engineer flipping their desk and resigning in disgust. This is just an astonishing improvement. The Pixel 3’s camera is already among the very best low-light performers, so when a scene is so dark that it barely registers anything, you know there’s hardly any light. And yet, with Night Sight on, we actually see a scene that looks like a moderately noisy daytime shot.

These are the kind of shots (the Night Sight ones) that the first smartphones took in pretty decent lighting conditions. Computational photography is obviously the future but I did not expect such stunning results so quickly. I would actually consider getting a Pixel 3 XL if it had a dual camera system because I really enjoy having a 50 mm lens on my iPhone.


Huawei Cloned Another Famous Smart Speaker →

October 26, 2018 · 23:36

Saqib Shah, for Engadget:

As first impressions go, there’s the glaringly obvious: this device looks like a HomePod doppelgänger, complete with a stout, cylindrical design with control buttons at the top. But, at 399 yuan ($60) it doesn’t cost nearly as much as Apple’s $349 gadget. It also comes in black and white.

There are many words in the English language but I don’t know one that would sufficiently describe how pathetic the copycat trend is. What kind of designer would be actually proud of this work?


Google Pixel 3 Doesn’t Support 10W Qi Charging →

October 23, 2018 · 23:30

Ron Amadeo, writing for Ars Technica:

Google’s Pixel 3 smartphone is shipping out to the masses, and people hoping to take advantage of the new Qi wireless charging capabilities have run into a big surprise. For some unexplained reason, Google is locking out third-party Qi chargers from reaching the highest charging speeds on the Pixel 3. Third-party chargers are capped to a pokey 5W charging speed. If you want 10 watts of wireless charging, Google hopes you will invest in its outrageously priced Pixel Stand, which is $79 […]

Google got back to us. The Pixel 3 does not support 10W Qi charging at all. It supports 10W wireless charging, and it supports the Qi wireless charging standard, but these are two different things. Qi is capped at 5W, and for 10W wireless charging, you need a charger with what Belkin calls “Google’s 10W proprietary wireless charging technology.”

This is something I expected Apple to do, when they first introduced inductive charging, not Google.


Facebook Portal — Who You Call and What Apps You Use Could Determine What Ads You See →

October 17, 2018 · 11:00

Kurt Wagner, reporting for Recode:

Last Monday, we wrote: “No data collected through Portal — even call log data or app usage data, like the fact that you listened to Spotify — will be used to target users with ads on Facebook.”

We wrote that because that’s what we were told by Facebook executives. 

But Facebook has since reached out to change its answer: Portal doesn’t have ads, but data about who you call and data about which apps you use on Portal can be used to target you with ads on other Facebook-owned properties.

Of course it can. And over time it’ll probably do other nasty stuff to its users.


Morgan Knutson Tells His Story of Working at Google on Google+ →

October 16, 2018 · 12:50

Moran Knutson, in a long thread on Twitter:

Now that Google+ has been shuttered, I should air my dirty laundry on how awful the project and exec team was.

I’m still pissed about the bait and switch they pulled by telling me I’d be working on Chrome, then putting me on this god forsaken piece of shit on day one.

Read the whole thing, it’s worth it. I’m actually suprised (though I shouldn’t be) about how things are done over there.

If your team, say on Gmail or Android, was to integrate Google+’s features then your team would be awarded a 1.5-3x multiplier on top of your yearly bonus. Your bonus was already something like 15% of your salary.


Safari Content Blocker Evaluations — 2018/9/26 Edition →

October 11, 2018 · 09:50

Ben Brooks:

I ran another round of content blocker testing for Mobile Safari in order to take a look at which ones are the ‘best’ right now. To be fair: it’s really hard to find these content blockers on the App Store now, so I grabbed the ones which looked the most popular to me (top lists, and top search results) and then did the testing to see which was the best.

My favourite is 1Blocker X, which I have been using exclusively — it gets the job done, doing excellent work saving me LTE bandwidth (and battery at the same time). It is, in fact, so good, that my wife asked me to install it on her iPhone, and she’s not the type of person who enjoys the additional overhead of using a content blocker.


Apple Frames: A Shortcut for Framing Screenshots From Every Apple Device →

October 11, 2018 · 09:45

Federico Viticci, on MacStories:

When I published my iPhone XS Frames shortcut two weeks ago, I noted that my goal was to eventually support screenshots and device templates from other Apple devices, starting with the Apple Watch and MacBook Pro. After two weeks spent rebuilding the shortcut and asking Silvia to prepare several more templates, I’m happy to re-introduce my shortcut as the new and improved Apple Frames – a comprehensive custom shortcut to frame screenshots taken on every Apple device. Well, at least most of the current ones that the company is still selling.

Federico has two versions of the shortcut for Apple’s Shortcuts app — with and without the Macs. They’re both brilliant.