Apple iTunes Affiliate Program Changes

Earlier this week Apple sent out an email to affiliate members indicating some changes that will be taking place as of October 1st. Here is the email that was sent:

Thank you for participating in the affiliate program for apps. With the launch of the new App Store on both iOS and macOS and their increased methods of app discovery, we will be removing apps from the affiliate program. Starting on October 1st, 2018, commissions for iOS and Mac apps and in-app content will be removed from the program. All other content types (music, movies, books, and TV) remain in the affiliate program.

This will have some impact on some websites who rely on affiliate links from iOS apps, Mac apps, and in-app purchases to run their business. At least there is some heads up on this. This has been preceded by Apple reducing the payout from 7% to 2.5%. So it was inevitable that this would be the case that these would be removed.

I am not impact much by this because the website does not rely on affiliate links. I am curious to see how long the affiliate program lasts overall. I would not be surprised if it goes away in the future. It may take a couple of years, but it is possible that it will be stopped in the future.

2018 MacBook Pro Thermal Bug

I did not write about this last week when it happened, because it appears as though there is a barrage of negative stories about Apple and with everything going on the world, who needs additional stories to get riled up about. Last week Dave Lee posted a video that showed that the Core i9 model of the 2018 MacBook Pro was throttling down its CPU under heavy loads. If you were to buy one of these computers, you would expect it to work really well, regardless of how much load the computer was under.

When the video was released many were skeptical that this was actually the case, and if it was indeed the case, that it was a design flaw with the MacBook Pro. It appears as though it is not a design flaw, but in fact it is a bug with the new 2018 MacBook Pros. Here is Apple’s statement:

Following extensive performance testing under numerous workloads, we’ve identified that there is a missing digital key in the firmware that impacts the thermal management system and could drive clock speeds down under heavy thermal loads on the new MacBook Pro. A bug fix is included in today’s macOS High Sierra 10.13.6 Supplemental Update and is recommended. We apologize to any customer who has experienced less than optimal performance on their new systems. Customers can expect the new 15-inch MacBook Pro to be up to 70% faster, and the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar to be up to 2X faster, as shown in the performance results on our website.

This means that it is not the hardware itself that was the issue, but in fact it is software related. It is good to see that Apple took this seriously and found the cause of the issue. This bug affects the 13-inch models as well as the Core i7 and Core i9 15-inch models. It is highly recommended that you get the supplemental update to fix the issue. You can download it via the Updates tab in the Mac App Store, or by downloading it directly from Apple’s support page.

Via Six Colors.

Apple Updates MacBook Pro with Touch Bar

Today Apple refreshed the MacBook Pro with Touch Bar line. Both the 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pros with Touch Bar have been updated. The 13-inch sports 2.3GHz quad-core 8th Generation Core i5 processors,Intel Iris Plus Graphics 655 graphics, and 8GB of RAM. The 13-inch with Touch Bar is configurable with a 2.7GHz processor and up to 16GB of RAM. The 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar still starts at 256GB of storage and can be configured with 512GB, 1TB, or 2GB. The 13-inch model starts at $1799 and goes up to $3699, at the top end.

The 15-inch model has a bit beefier specs. The 15-inch sports a 2.2GHz 6-core 8th Generation Core i7 Processor, Radeon 555X with 4GB of video memory, 256G of storage, and 16GB of memory. The 15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar can be configured with a 2.9GHz 6-core processor, 32GB of RAM, a Radeon Pro 560X, and up to 4TB of storage. Yes, 4TB. The price ranges from $2399 to $6699 for a fully loaded model.

All 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar models come with four Thunderbolt 3 ports, a brand new T2 processor, which supports “Hey Siri”, and the Retina Displays are now True Tone displays. The biggest question is the keyboard. The 2018 MacBook Pro with Touch Bar has a third-generation keyboard, which is quieter than previous models. It is presumed that the new keyboards will not experience the same issues as the previous models, but that is not known yet and only time will be able to tell us for sure whether or not they are improved.

These are the first True Tone displays on a MacBook Pro. True Tone is a screen technology that will look at the colors in the room and it will automatically adjust the color profile so it will look best in all lighting conditions. True Tone already exists on the 10.5-inch iPad Pro, the 2nd Generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro, and the iPhone X. It is good to see True Tone come to the MacBook Pro line.

There are a couple of other things to note. The first is that the old 2015 MacBook Pro that Apple was selling, is no longer available. Similarly, 13-inch MacBook Pros without Touch Bar have not been updated. These are still the same as before. Similarly, there have not been any other laptop updates.

Along with the new MacBook Pros, there is also a new external graphical processing unit (eGPU), the BlackMagic eGPU. The BlackMagic eGPU has a Radeon Pro 580 graphics processor with 8GB of GDDR5 memory, two Thunderbolt 3 ports, four USB 3 ports, and one HDMI 2.0 port. This is $699 and will work with any Mac that has a Thunderbolt 3 port.

It is good to see Apple update the MacBook Pro with Touch Bar. The specs will definitely be welcome, in particular the 6-core processors in the 15-inch models. The ability to choose up to 4TB of storage and 32GB will be great for those users who need that much storage and memory. If you really need the external graphical processing, it is great to see new hardware for those users as well. You can order the 2018 MacBook Pros today.

MacBook and MacBook Pro Keyboard Repair Program

Late on Friday Apple announced that they are creating a Keyboard Service Program for a range of their laptops. There have been many reports of users having keys that stick, letters not being shown, or a key that gets repeatedly pressed even if you only press a key once.

The list of affected computers are:

  • MacBook (Retina, 12-­inch, Early 2015)
  • MacBook (Retina, 12­-inch, Early 2016)
  • MacBook (Retina, 12-­inch, 2017)
  • MacBook Pro (13­-inch, 2016, Two Thunderbolt 3 Ports)
  • MacBook Pro (13-­inch, 2017, Two Thunderbolt 3 Ports)
  • MacBook Pro (13-­inch, 2016, Four Thunderbolt 3 Ports)
  • MacBook Pro (13-­inch, 2017, Four Thunderbolt 3 Ports)
  • MacBook Pro (15-­inch, 2016)
  • MacBook Pro (15-­inch, 2017)

If you have one of these laptops and are experiencing any of the keyboard issues, you can contact Apple, or Apple Authorized Reseller, and setup an appointment. If you have already paid to have your keyboard fixed, you can get a refund.

It is good that Apple has recognized that this is an issue but this is not new. This has been going on for over three years and this way overdue. What is worse is that if you got any dust under the keys, they would stop working and the “fix” to use compressed air at a 75 degree angle is not acceptable for most users.

I hope that any future updates to the keyboard will not have these issues, but there have not been any updates since last summer. Only time will be able to tell if this was a small time-frame where laptop keyboards were problematic or if this is an on-going issue.

Source: Apple.

The Early 2015 13-inch MacBook Pro: 3 Years Later

Current MacBook Pros

There has been much consternation over the direction that Apple has taken their laptops. While there have been those that have questioned the inclusion of the TouchBar, many have questioned whether or not the TouchBar is a useful tool in place of standard function keys. While the TouchBar has been controversial, there is a topi that has been even more problematic, and for good reason. That feature is the new keyboards. The issues that have been expressed are:

  • How little it takes for a key to stop responding.
  • The cost of an out-of-warranty keyboard repair, which is approximately $540 dollars out of warranty.
  • The suggested fix by Apple.
  • And most problematic, the rapidity of the issues.

All of these have added to the hesitation of many pundits to recommend the 2016 and 2017 MacBook Pros.

Early 2015 MacBook Pro

A couple weeks ago the Apple Care on my Early 2015 MacBook Pro ended. When I realized it had been three years, it got me to thinking about how I never wrote a review of the MacBook Pro. I did post about the issue that I had when I first got the machine.

As a brief recap of the issue, it would stop randomly and sometimes rebooting fixed the issue, sometimes it did not. At the time Apple offered to just return the computer and order another one. This was just about the time that the brand new 12-inch MacBook was released. I seriously considered ordering one, but since the laptop was just still so new, I opted to have them fix it. Ultimately, this was a better choice for me. The ultimate problem was a bad cable to the SSD. Once they replaced that, it fixed all of the issues.

Selecting the MacBook Pro

When I start looking at any computer, I end up creating a Numbers spreadsheet to allow me to compare many different factors, with just a quick glance. These include:

  • Storag
  • Memory
  • Price
  • Video Memory

Storage, Memory and Price are the biggest factors that I look at. Screen size typically dictates the prices. I look at video memory, mostly for long term viability.

Specs

The MacBook Pro that I got is a mid-tier model. It is a 13-inch with a 2.7GHz Core i5 CPU and 16GB of memory with a 256GB SSD.

The 2015 MacBook Pro was my first purely solid-state storage computer. Prior to getting the 2015 MacBook Pro I had a 2011 iMac with a 1TB hard drive traditional hard drive, a 2007 Black polycarbonate MacBook with a 500GB hard drive, and a 2007 20-inch iMac with the same specs as the Black MacBook.

For just over two years after getting the MacBook Pro, it was effectively my primary computer. It is not that my 2011 iMac did not work, it did and still does. There were a couple of factors that lead me to use it as my primary. The first is that it seems like a faster computer. The second, and more importantly, the MacBook Pro has a Retina Screen.

The Screen

The MacBook Pro has a 2x Retina display which allows for resolutions that go between 1024 by 640 to 1680 by 1050. For my usage, I tend to go with the highest resolution of 1680 by 1050. When I first got the MacBook Pro I went with the default because it was new. As time progressed, and especially when the MacBook Pro became my primary computer,

This has to do with needing as much space as possible when doing coding, particularly with Xcode. As mentioned above, the MacBook Pro was my primary computer for a while, so it is the one where I updated my app <a href=”http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/wwrite/id366196225?mt=8&at=1000l5Yb’>wwrite and wwriteFree. While working on the code, and in particular in the Xcode Simulator, given the size and space needed for being able to develop and test the app.

Over the years, the extra screen resolution has been quite handy. It has been nice having the extra screen size. There have been occasions when I need to adjust the screen resolution, but I have typically kept it at the maximum.

Storage

One of the changes that Apple made with the 2013 MacBook Pros was the removal of the optical drive. The lack of an optical drive allowed Apple to reduce the overall size and weight of the laptop. A byproduct of the decision to make the laptop smaller was that the option for a spinning hard drive was removed, resulting in only SSD storage.

There are a total of four storage options, 128GB, 256GB, 512GB and 1TB, depending on which model. My MacBook Pro has 25GB of storage. I debated on going with the base of 128GB, but knew that would not be enough. At the time, the cost of getting 512GB, or 1TB, was just a bit too much. So I settled on the 256GB model.

The choice of getting 256GB was worth it. While I have not filled up the storage on the MacBook Pro, I do think that having 512GB of storage would have allowed for a bit more leeway with what can be stored on the MacBook Pro. In particular, for the pictures that I have in stored in Photos.

Keyboard

The keyboard on the 2015 MacBook Pro is one that may users would say are the the best laptop keyboards that Apple has manufactured in the last decade. The 2015 MacBook Keyboard is backlit. For me, it was the first laptop that had a backlit keyboard. While it has been nice, it is not always that useful for me since I do not generally use the laptop in the dark, so the backlight has not been that useful.

After three years of usage, I have noticed one issue, besides having to re-accustom myself after using the Magic Keyboard for a while, I have two letters that have effectively worn off. These are the “A” and “R” keys. I am not sure what the reason that this has happened, but It could be the way that I hit the keys when I am typing. Here is an example of what it looks like

Ports

The 2015 MacBook Pro has a selection of different ports. These include:

  • Two Thunderbolt 2 ports
  • One HDMI port
  • Two USB 3.0 Type A ports
  • One SDHC slot
  • One headphone jack
  • One MagSafe 2 connector

I think I have used all of the ports at least once. I know I used the SD Card reader to install a copy of macOS to test something on an older version of macOS. I would not recommend running macOS off of an SD Card. It is painfully slow.

Since there is no built-in ethernet adapter, I had to purchase a thunderbolt to ethernet adapter. When I used the MacBook Pro as my primary computer, I would use the computer plugged in most of the time, so having Gigabit network connectivity did help quite a bit. Now, I use the laptop as a laptop. The portability is definitely nice when I need to change where I am sitting and working on my e-books.

General Usage

The general usage of my MacBook Pro has been for portability. I normally use the MacBook Pro for writing a lot of my blog posts, and for a significant portion of the writing of my e-books. The final compilation of my e-books is now done one my 27-inch iMac, mostly due to all of the space.

The amount of storage that I got has not been too bad, in particular since the release of macOS Sierra, when Documents and Desktop storage was released. It has allowed me to not manually manage the storage on my MacBook Pro.

The speed has remained pretty much the same since I first got the MacBook Pro, which is really nice considering that it is a three-year old computer.

Closing Thoughts

The 13-inch 2015 MacBook Pro has been a great computer. While the keys have begun to rub off, the keys still work well and I have not had any real issues with the keyboard, besides when I switch to and from this keyboard and the Magic Keyboard.

Having a solid state drive in the MacBook Pro has been a great speed improvement over the 2011 iMac that I had previously. Having an SDD is much faster than a spinning hard drive and is noticeable. If you were to take the Geekbench specs from my 2011 iMac and this MacBook Pro, they would be about the same, except the multi-core, which is still better on the 2011 iMac.

Overall, the 2015 MacBook Pro is a solid machine. I have not had any issues except for that first issue. I anticipate that the 2015 MacBook Pro will last for a few more years, until it can no longer support the latest macOS. If you want at 15-inch version, you can still buy the 15-inch 2015 MacBook Pro new from Apple today. However, if you were looking for a 13-inch model an online seller, like eBay, may be your best option but I would not be surprised if they go for a premium.