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Apple Apple Watch iCloud iPad iPad Air iPadOS tvOS watchOS

Apple “Time Flies” Event Recap

Apple held its “Time Files” event livestream event today. It was not a live event, but a pre-recorded one. The style of the video was very similar to that of Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference. We saw different parts of Apple’s campus with different people in each area. Today’s event focused on two products, the Apple Watch and the iPad. Let us look at what Apple announced for each.

Apple Watch

Today Apple announced two new Apple Watch models, the Apple Watch Series 6 and the Apple Watch SE. These two models are similar, yet still different. Let us cover the aspects that are the same between the two models.

Common Features between Apple Watch Series 6 and the Apple Watch SE

There are a number of common features between the new Apple Watch Series 6 and the new Apple Watch SE. The first of these is the case sizes. Both come in 40mm and 44mm varieties and both have a Retina screen. Next is a feature that was added in the Apple Watch Series 5, fall detection. This is a great feature for those who may be prone to falling and need to be able to contact someone in the event of a fall. This is present in both models.

There is a new feature that is available on both models, a new Always On Altimeter. The Altimeter will be able to inform you, in real time, of your elevation. This is great if you are doing some hiking and want to see how high up you have gone.

One of the ways to personalizes the Apple Watch is by picking the finish for the watch. Both models come in an aluminum finish and are available in Silver, Space Gray, and Rose Gold.

Apple Watch Series 6 Exclusive Features

The biggest area for the Apple Watch is regarding Health. There are a variety of sensors already present on the Apple Watch. Sensors like the ECG, fall detection, heart sensors, and ECG app. There is a new sensor being added to the Apple Watch Series 6, a Blood Oxygen app. This app will be able to inform you of your blood oxygen level, with a simple 15 second test. This is possibly through the use of infrared to analyze the color of your blood and the color can determine the oxygen saturation level.

The Apple Watch Series 6 comes in more than just the three colors mentioned above. It also comes in two additional aluminum finishes, Blue and (PRODUCT)RED. It also comes in Stainless Steel and Titanium versions. The Stainless Steel color choices are Silver, Graphite, and Gold. The Titanium color choices are Titanium (Silver), and Space Black.

New Bands

Besides the finish of the Apple Watch, many also customize their Apple Watch through the use of different bands. To go with the new Apple Watch Series 6 and Apple Watch SE, there are some new bands. A lot of them in fact. There are some new Hermes Fauve Barénia Leather Attelage bands in both single tour and double tour varieties, five new Sport Band colors, seven new Sport Loop colors, three new Nike Sport Band colors, and three new Nike Sport Loop colors. There are also two entirely new types of bands, the Leather Link and Solo Loop.

Leather Link

Apple Watch Leather Link Watch Band

According to Apple, “The Leather Link features handcrafted Roux Granada leather made in France. The band elegantly wraps around the wrist and magically attaches with flexible molded magnets that gently flex to help maintain a secure, comfortable fit throughout the day.”. The magnetic links will allow you to adjust the band to the perfect fit for your wrist.

The Leather Link band comes in four colors, Baltic Blue, California Poppy, Saddle Brown, and Black. These will work with the 38/40mm or the 42/44mm Apple Watches. Each Leather Link band is $99. They have a bit of a wait time, anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks, depending on the model.

Solo Loop

The Solo Loop is made of a silicone rubber that is designed to stretch. There are no clasps, buckles, or any other item to adjust. Each Sport Loop is designed to be slipped on and off the wrist easily. Because there are no attachment mechanisms, they are designed to fit on your wrist, therefore there is a sizing guide that will allow you to determine the proper band size. The band sizes range from 1 to 9 on the 40mm Apple Watch and 4 to 12 on the 44mm Apple Watch.

There are seven different color options. These options are: Deep Navy, Ginger, Cypress Green, Pink Citrus, White, Black, and (PRODUCT)RED. Each of these is $49 and they will begin arriving on Friday. There is a second type of Solo Loop, the Braided Solo Loop.

To quote Apple, “Each Braided Solo Loop features a unique, stretchable design that’s ultracomfortable and easy to slip on and off your wrist. Made from 100 percent recycled materials, the 16,000 polyester yarn filaments in each band are interwoven with thin silicone threads using advanced braiding machinery then laser cut to an exact length. The 300D construction offers a soft, textured feel and is both sweat-resistant and water-resistant.”

The Braided Sport Loop comes in five colors. These colors are: Inverness Green, Black, Pink Punch, Atlantic Blue, and (PRODUCT)RED. The Braided Sport Loop comes in the same size configurations as the silicon Sport Loop, and these are $99 each.

There is one last thing to note about the Solo Loop and Braided Solo Loop. These are not compatible with all watches. The Solo Loop and Braided Solo Loop bands are only compatible with Apple Watch SE and Apple Watch Series 4 or newer. Therefore, you will not be able to use these on the Series 3, or earlier models.

Family Setup

There is one new feature for the Apple Watch, which is compatible back to the Apple Watch Series 4 and that is Family Setup. There are many people who would like to be able to get an Apple Watch for the child or an elderly parent. This has not been possible because an Apple Watch has to be paired with an iPhone. That changes.

Family Setup allows you to setup another Apple Watch using your iPhone. When you do this, the Apple Watch will be independent and allow the Apple Watch to function on its own.

Family Setup makes it possible for the entire family to benefit from the important health and safety features of Apple Watch, like Emergency SOS, while Maps, Siri, Alarms, and the App Store provide greater independence without needing an iPhone. In addition, parents will have peace of mind knowing they can reach their child and identify their location, and that all personal data stays securely encrypted. With watchOS 7, the whole family can also take advantage of optimized features that enhance the overall Apple Watch experience.

There are a couple of limitations for the Family Setup. The first is that a cellular version of the Apple Watch is required. This will not work on a GPS model of the Apple Watch. The second restriction is that this only works on the Apple Watch Series 4 or later, including the Apple Watch SE.

Apple Watch Pricing and Availability

The price of the Apple Watch is an important one. The existing Apple Watch Series 3 is still available for the same starting price of $199. The new Apple Watch SE is $279 for the 40mm version, and $309 for the 44mm. There are cellular options for the Apple Watch SE, these are $329 for the 40mm and $359 for the 44mm. The Apple Watch Series 6 starts at the same price as the Series 5, $399 for the 40mm, and $429 for the 44mm. The cellular models are $499 and $529 respectively. The Stainless Steel models starts at $699 and the Titanium models start at $799. All of the Apple Watch Series 6 and Apple Watch SE are available for order today and will start arriving this Friday.

There is one last thing to note about the Apple Watch. the Apple Watch Series 6, Apple Watch SE, Apple Watch Series 3, and Apple Watch Nike do not include a power adapter. Note, this is not the charger, but the little power brick that the charger plugs into. This is being done as a means of helping the environment. I believe that this is actually the case. It just so happens that it will also help save a bit of money, not just through not having to put a charger in each box, but also by reducing packaging as well as shipping weight. All of this adds up over millions of devices.

iPad

The Apple Watch was not the only item announced during today’s keynote. The iPad also saw some updates as well, but not all models of iPad. Only the iPad and the iPad Air were updated today. Let us look at each of these.

iPad

The iPad is Apple’s entry-level device, but even though it is entry level, it is full of features. The new iPad features a 10.2-inch LED screen as well as Apple’s A12 Bionic chip. This is the same one that is in the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max phones. To quote Apple:

The eighth-generation iPad with the A12 Bionic chip delivers a huge leap in performance, with 40 percent faster CPU performance and twice the graphics capability.2 This makes the new iPad up to two times faster than the top-selling Windows laptop, up to three times faster than the top-selling Android tablet and up to six times faster than the top-selling Chromebook. For the first time on iPad, A12 Bionic introduces the Neural Engine for next-level machine learning capabilities, including people occlusion and motion tracking in augmented reality (AR) apps, enhanced photo editing, Siri performance, and more.

In combination with A12 Bionic, the power of iPadOS, and Apple Pencil (1st generation), the new iPad is perfect for drawing, note-taking, marking up documents, and more. With its thin and light design, iPad is portable and durable with ultra-fast wireless performance, support for gigabit-class LTE connectivity, and all-day battery life, giving customers the freedom to work, learn, and connect at home or on the go. With Touch ID, unlocking iPad is simple and secure using just a finger, to keep important information safe.

The biggest change, besides the processor and graphics, is that the iPad is now USB-C. Included in the box is a USB-C to lightning adapter and a 20 watt USB-C power brick.

The iPad comes in the same three colors as before, Silver, Space Gray, and Rose Gold. It comes with 32GB or 128GB of storage, and there are cellular models as well. The price is still the same at $329 for the 32GB Wifi model, and $459 for the 32GB Wifi + Cellular, and $429 for the 128GB Wifi and $559 for the 128GB Wifi + Cellular models. These are available for order today and will arrive starting this Friday.

iPad Air

The bigger of the announcements is the iPad Air. This is not only because it is changed significantly more, but also because of the size difference. The 4th generation iPad Air is now a 10.9-inch model. This is accomplished by taking cues from the iPad Pro design and incorporating them into the iPad Air. The 4th Generation iPad Air has significantly reduced bezels, which allows the screen size to increase to 10.9 inches. This creates a resolution of 2360 by 1640 pixels. All of this is on a Liquid Retina LED display. The screen has a True Tone display that support the P3 Color Gamut and is fully laminated. This means that it includes the oleophobic coating to help reduce fingerprints.

All of this is driven by the A14 Bionic processor, which, according to Apple

…features a new 6-core design for a 40 percent boost in CPU performance, and a new 4-core graphics architecture for a 30 percent improvement in graphics.2 To deliver breakthrough machine learning capabilities, A14 Bionic includes a new 16-core Neural Engine that is twice as fast, and capable of performing up to 11 trillion operations per second, taking machine learning apps to a whole new level. A14 Bionic also includes second-generation machine learning accelerators in the CPU for 10 times faster machine learning calculations. This combination of the new Neural Engine, CPU machine learning accelerators, and high-performance GPU enables powerful on-device experiences for image recognition, natural language learning, analyzing motion, and more.

The iPad Air takes many cues from the iPad Air, most notably, its square edges. The square edges allow for the iPad Air to utilize the 2nd Generation Apple Pencil. The iPad Air supports charging the 2nd Generation Apple Pencil right on the top edge, just like the iPad Pro. These square edges allowed Apple to reduce the bezel size. One thing that was not brought over from the iPad Pro is Face ID. Instead, the iPad Air still has Touch ID. However, the reduced bezel necessitated that the Touch ID sensor to go somewhere else. The Touch ID sensor is now moved to the top button. The Touch ID sensor still operates the same way as before, just in a different spot.

Just like the iPad, and the iPad Pro, the iPad Air now uses a USB-C port and included in the box is a USB-C charging cable and a 20-watt USB power adapter.

The 4th Generation iPad Air comes in five colors: Silver, Space Gray, Rose Gold, Green, and Sky Blue. The iPad Air comes with two storage options, 64GB or 256GB. As with the other iPads there is the Wifi-only model and Wifi + Cellular. The price for the iPad Air is $599 for the 64GB model and $749 for the 256GB Wifi-Only model. The Cellular models will cost $729 for the 64GB model and $879 for the 256GB model. The iPad Air will be available in October.

Services

Apple is pushing services, along with hardware, as their future. Currently, Apple has six different services. These services are:

  • iCloud
  • Apple Music
  • Apple TV+
  • Apple Arcade
  • Apple News+

There is a new service to go along with these. This is called Apple Fitness+.

Apple Fitness+

Apple Fitness+ is a new subscription service that will provide you the opportunity to perform workouts whenever it works for you, wherever you might be. This could be out in the park, at the gym, traveling, or just at home.

Apple Fitness+ delivers personalized recommendations to help customers quickly get to their next workout, and uses Apple Watch to provide an engaging, immersive experience to help them stay motivated throughout.Using a custom recommendation engine, Fitness+ considers previously completed workouts and intelligently suggests new options that match the workouts users select most often, or something fresh to balance their current routine. Customers can also use an intuitive filtering tool to choose what is most important to them when looking for a workout, whether it’s the workout type, the trainer, the duration, or the music. For Apple Music subscribers, favorite music from Fitness+ workouts can also be easily saved and listened to later, whether in a workout or otherwise.

Apple Fitness+ will be available later this year and it will cost $9.99 per month or $79.99 per year.

With all of these services, it might be nice to have them all combined into a single bill. Let us look at one last new item, called Apple One.

Apple One

Today Apple announced a new Services bundle, Apple One. Apple One is a combination of different Apple services at different price points. Apple One has three price tiers, “Individual”, “Family”, and “Premium”. The Individual and Family plans will include Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, and iCloud Storage. The Individual tier includes 50GB of iCloud Storage, whereas the Family tier includes 200GB.

The Premium tier includes Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, 2TB of iCloud Storage, Apple News+, and Apple Fitness+. The Family and Premium tiers will allow you to share with up to five family members. If you need more iCloud storage than your plan includes, you can pay for that separately, to supplement what comes with your plan.

Closing Thoughts

Today’s event was just over an hour, but included a whole lot of new products. This includes the Apple Watch Series 6 with its brighter Always On display, the new Blood Oxygen app, and always on Altimeter. The new Blue and PRODUCT(RED) colors are great additions to the lineup.

The new Apple Watch SE is a great way for bringing many of the features of the Apple Watch in a slightly less expensive price point. You get many of the same features of the Apple Watch Series 6, but with the Series 5 processor.

The new 8th Generation iPad is a huge jump in performance with the A12 Bionic and it has USB-C. It maintains the same base price of $329 for a 32GB Wifi model.

The iPad Air has seen the biggest set of changes with a new larger 10.9-inch screen, flat sides, reduced bezels, and the all new A14 Bionic processor. The iPad Air does not get Face ID, instead the Touch ID sensor is now moved to the top button and still functions the same way as before. The 4th Generation iPad Air also supports USB-C as well as the 2nd generation Apple Pencil.

All of the new products introduced today are available for ordering today, and will be available starting on Friday. The only exception is the iPad Air, which will be available in October.

The last item to note is that iOS 14, iPadOS 14, tvOS 14, an watchOS 7 will all be available tomorrow, September 16th.

Source: Apple Newsroom: Apple One, Apple Fitness+, Family Setup, Apple Watch Series 6, Apple Watch SE, 8th Generation iPad, and 4th Generation iPad Air.

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Apple

Apple Announces Phil Schiller will advance to Apple Fellow

Today Apple announced that Phil Schiller is going to become an Apple Fellow. Being an Apple Fellow means that he is being recognize by Apple as having a distinguished career and providing extraordinary contributions while working for Apple. Schiller will still be in charge of the App Store and Apple Events.

“Phil has helped make Apple the company it is today and his contributions are broad, vast, and run deep. In this new role he will continue to provide the incredible thought partnership, and guidance that have defined his decades at Apple,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “Joz’s many years of leadership in the Product Marketing organization make him perfectly suited to this new role and will ensure a seamless transition at a moment when the team is engaged in such important and exciting work. I’m thrilled that the whole executive team will benefit from his collaboration, ideas, and energy.”

Schiller has helped guide Apple’s products as well as its marketing for 30 years. He most recently led the effort to plan and execute Apple’s first-ever virtual Worldwide Developers Conference. The event, notable both for its innovative software and hardware announcements as well as its creative and much-praised execution, set a new standard for what virtual events can achieve in the era of COVID-19.

“It has been a dream come true for me to work at Apple, on so many products I love, with all of these great friends — Steve, Tim, and so many more,” said Schiller. “I first started at Apple when I was 27, this year I turned 60 and it is time for some planned changes in my life. I’ll keep working here as long as they will have me, I bleed six colors, but I also want to make some time in the years ahead for my family, friends, and a few personal projects I care deeply about.”

To go along with this Greg (Joz) Joswiak, who has been a a longtime leader within Apple Product Marketing , will take over part of Phil Schiller’s role, in particular he will be on the Apple executive team as senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing.

Joswiak takes on the role of senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. This organization is responsible for Apple’s product management and product marketing, developer relations, market research, business management, as well as education, enterprise, and international marketing.

Joswiak brings more than 20 years in leadership roles across Apple product marketing and has served as the vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing for the past four years. Joswiak has overseen the product management and product marketing for numerous breakthrough products including the original iPod and iPhone. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering from the University of Michigan.

This is a big change for Apple, particularly since Schiller has been at Apple for so long. It was something that would eventual happen. Apple will not be the same without Schiller. As John Gruber stated, “Schiller hasn’t just been at Apple a long time — he’s held the position atop product marketing for, well, as long as I can remember.”

Source: Apple

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Apple Video

Apple Commits to being Carbon Neutral by 2030

To quote the late Carl Sagan:

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbour life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit? Yes. Settle? Not yet. Like it or not, for the moment, the Earth is where we make our stand. It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. … To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another and to preserve, and cherish, the pale blue dot; the only home we’ve ever known.

It is true, no matter how much Science Fiction and the actions of some may provide us the hope of being able to settle and colonize another planet, it is still a long, long ways away. It is not likely that we will be able to colonize another planet in my lifetime, or within the next 100 years.

In order to be able to be able to colonize another world, we need to take care of this one. Apple is doing its part to help protect the one planet that we have. Apple has already been carbon neutral with its global corporate operations, but this goes well beyond that.

Apple is hoping to be carbon neutral not just for global operations, but also for manufacturing, its supply chain partners, and even all of the products it sells. This is a big task, but it should go a long way to helping the planet. From the press release, here is Apple’s ten year roadmap:

Apple’s Climate Roadmap

Apple’s 10-year roadmap will lower emissions with a series of innovative actions, including:Low carbon product design: Apple will continue to increase the use of low carbon and recycled materials in its products, innovate in product recycling, and design products to be as energy efficient as possible.

  • Apple’s latest recycling innovation — a robot the company is calling “Dave” — disassembles the Taptic Engine from iPhone to better recover key materials such as rare earth magnets and tungsten while also enabling recovery of steel, the next step following its line of “Daisy” iPhone disassembly robots.
  • The company’s Material Recovery Lab in Austin, Texas, which is focused on innovative electronics recycling technology, is now partnering with Carnegie Mellon University to further develop engineering solutions.
  • All iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple Watch devices released in the past year are made with recycled content, including 100 percent recycled rare earth elements in the iPhone Taptic Engine — a first for Apple and for any smartphone.
  • Apple decreased its carbon footprint by 4.3 million metric tons in 2019 through design and recycled content innovations in its products. Over the past 11 years, Apple has reduced the average energy needed for product use by 73 percent.

This is just part of their overall strategy. This is a big undertaking and one that I hope they are able to achieve. There are many that claim that being carbon neutral, or even just moving to be more green is not fiscally possible. I disagree with them. Will it be free? No, but nothing is free. This video starring Bill Nye is still accurate, and we all need to do better to help the environment.

We only have one planet, and we must take care of it in order to be able to have not only our species, but many other species, survive. It is good to see companies doing their part to help save our planet, since it is the only one we have.

Source: Apple.com

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Apple WWDC

Apple WWDC Keynote Announcements

2020 has not gone as most might have expected, it has provided twists, turns, and things that were completely unexpected. Even with so many things not following the usual pattern, some things must go on. One of those things is Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference, albeit with a slightly different approach.

Today’s keynote has provided a look at what is coming with the latest releases of their platforms. We will look at all of them, but let us start with watchOS.

watchOS

In just over 5 years, the Apple has become a mainstay and a constant throughout their day. It might become a constant companion at night as well. This is due to the new Sleep Tracking feature of watchOS 7. Sleep Tracking will keep track of your motions throughout the evening, including micro movements, to help you determine how well you slept.

watchOS will also be gaining new Watch Face sharing capabilities with “Face Sharing”. If you see a Watch Face that you want, you can easily download it from a webpage, iMessage conversation, or in the App Store.

The Apple Watch is great for quickly glancing at information from complications. Developers will now be able to provide you with more information and multiple complications. This means that you can have multiple complications from the same developer.

Health is the primary focus for Apple Watch and one way to stay healthy is by exercising. There are a variety of different workout types available now, but there are a couple more. These are dance, functional strength training, and cool downs.

One of the biggest focuses this year, health wise, has been Covid-19. One way to help minimize exposure is through hand-washing. The Apple Watch will detect when you are washing your hands, through motion and sound, and will help you make sure that you wash your hands for the recommend length of time.

Next, let us look at iOS.

iOS

iOS powers the iPhone and iPod touch. iOS 14 has seen some major changes this year. The iPhone’s home screen has remained largely unchanged since the original iPhone with its grid of icons. Now, you will be able to hide entire pages of apps and move them to your App Library.

The App Library will allow you to search for apps, and will automatically organize applications so you can find them. The App Library is just a swipe to the right after your last page of shown apps.

Arguably though, the biggest change is with Widgets. Instead of having all of your widgets live in one view, you can now various sizes of widgets, provided a developer creates them. This will allow you to be able to see the information that you want more easily.

Additionally, the widgets you see can be personalized. For instance, you may want to see news in the morning, meetings throughout the day, and fitness information in the evening. This is entirely possible through machine learning. iOS now supports picture in picture including the ability to hide the currently playing video but still have the audio continue so you can do other tasks while still continuing your audio.

There is another new feature to highlight for iOS. That feature is called App Clips. App Clips are small parts of an app that allow you perform particular tasks. App Clips are great for tasks like paying for parking but you do not have the app, an App Clip can allow you to pay for the parking, but not having to get the entire app. However, you are able to get the full app if you need to.

Communication is a major aspect to human culture in general, but is vitally important this year. There are many ways to communicate and one of the primary ways is with Messages. Messages has been updated with a couple of new features. The first of these is improved group messages. You can assign an icon to a group so you can easily identify the group. Similarly, you can pin it to the top so you can quickly access your chats. Some group chats are quite active and you may not always want to be notified for each message. Now with iOS 14 you can change it so you will only be notified when you are mentioned in a chat. This means that you can always react when you need to, but you can also go back to the previous messages later on.

Communication does not always occur via a screen, it can also occur in-person. While it happening left often now with Covid-19, but that will not always be the case. The world does not have a single language and this can make it difficult to communicate. There is a new app called Translate. The Translate app will allow two individuals to communicate by translating the languages used. This means that you can communicate with someone who is using an entirely different language much more easily. The key to this is that all of the translation is being done on device.

iOS 14 contains a significant number of changes and many of them that cannot be covered, but you can see the list on the iOS Preview page. Next, let us look at iPadOS.

iPadOS

Last year Apple separated out the iPad into its own operating system. When this was announced it was expected that the iPad would get some of its own features, and that has come to fruition with iPadOS 14. iPadOS 14 includes changes around the Apple Pencil and handwriting. Handwriting has been significantly enhanced with iPadOS 14. You are now able to write just about anywhere and when you do, it will be automatically converted to typed text, with a feature called Scribble.

iPadOS will now be able to use a new feature called Scribble. Scribble allows you to write something in a text box and it will automatically convert it to text, so you can begin searching. Additionally, you can select any hand-written text and you will be able to copy it as text so you can paste into other applications. Handwriting and Scribble will also be able to detect many different types of data, like addresses and phone numbers, and provide you the ability to easily tap on them.

One of the things that you usually cannot do with handwritten text is manipulating the writing. That changes under iPadOS 14. Now you can select text from a single character, to a word, or to an entire paragraph with your Apple Pencil and then copy and paste it into another application.

One of the largest changes for iPadOS is that some elements no longer cover the entire screen. This is true for both Siri, voice calls, and Spotlight. For Siri, the icon is now in the lower right corner. For voice calls, you will now see a small notification alert at the top of the screen. You can swipe it away to dismiss it, or you can answer it right there. For Spotlight, the search window has become very much like macOS. When you swipe from the top, you will see a popover that has a Search, Siri Suggestions, and any Handoff activities.

You can see all of the new feature on the iPadOS preview page.

tvOS

tvOS is designed for the living room. This does not mean that you do not need to be aware of other things going on. Your Apple TV can be used as your HomeKit hub and because of this, tvOS can now notify you of some things that occur, such as your HomeKit doorbell being rung. When this happens you will see a live view of that, so you can identify who is there. Furthermore, it uses facial recognition from your tagged photos so it can identify people you already know.

One of the biggest areas for HomeKit is smart lights. Now with tvOS 14, your smart lights will be able to automatically adjust their color temperature throughout the day. This means that you will not have blue light showing when you are trying to get ready for bed, but you will be able to have the brighter light during the day.

Apple TV is a great gaming platform, in particular the ability to pair Xbox One and Playstation 4 controllers to the Apple TV. Controller support is expanding to include Microsoft’s Xbox One Elite 2 controller, and more importantly, the Xbox Adaptive Controller will be supported. This change is great for accessibility and including all game players.

Let us turn to the biggest change, macOS.

macOS

macOS has been around in its current iteration for almost 20 years. The first version of Mac OS X was released in March of 2001. macOS has seen its share of changes with the Aqua interface, the removal of Carbon-based apps, and ultimately the removal of 32-bit applications, and even the source of names going from big cats to California place names. This year’s release is code-named Big Sur. macOS Big Sur brings a slew of changes including a new sidebar, an all-new Control Center, a revamped Notification Center, and a whole new design language.

The new sidebar that is shown on all apps brings a refined look to macOS that is reminiscent of iOS and iPadOS. In fact many of the designs take the best parts of Apple’s operating systems and combines them into a single design-language. You have more icons shown in the sidebar, along with different colors to help group elements together. Toolbars are redesigned as well. Toolbar icons will generally be along the top of the screen next to the search icon, which is collapsed until you need to use it.

The new Control Center is inspired by iOS and, just as is the case on iOS, you can quickly toggle settings within the system. Some of these include WiFi, Bluetooth, AirDrop, Do Not Disturb, the screen brightness, sound volume, and keyboard brightness. This will make your productivity even faster by eliminating steps that you would normally have to take to change a system setting.

Besides the design, there are some changes to core applications that are used on macOS every day, in particular Messages and Maps. Messages and Maps are now both built on Apple’s technology called MacCatalyst. These new apps will allow you to have complete feature parity between the iOS/iPadOS and macOS versions of the apps. This means that you will be able to see the things like confetti, balloons, and other effects just as on iOS. Furthermore, this also means that any new features that come to Messages will appear on both platforms, which creates a better experience overall.

Maps will also have feature parity with iOS and iPadOS. This includes features like Look Around, the new detailed maps, progress on a friend’s estimated time of arrival, if they have provided one, as well as much more. Some of these include Cycling Directions, electric vehicle charging stations, and curated guides to places.

When you begin to use macOS Big Sur, you will notice that many of the controls are different. The buttons that you have used have all subtly changed and have become more refined. This includes things like icons. App icons are now more rounded, similar to iOS. Even with this, they still remain unique to themselves. There are a large number of changes that are not being covered in this post, because there are too many to cover in a single post.

There is one last big change with macOS Big Sur that needs to be covered. That change is the version number. When Mac OS X was first introduced, it began with Mac OS X 10.0 Cheetah. Each new version of macOS changed this. Version 10.1 was Mac OS X 10.1 Puma followed by Mac OS X 10.2 Jaguar, Mac OS X 10.3 Panther, and so on, until we got to macOS 10.15 Catalina. macOS Big Sur is now version 11.0. Besides the visual changes, macOS Big Sur also brings with it, another underlying change called Apple Silicon.

All of the macOS features are available on the macOS Big Sur preview page.

Apple Silicon

Outside of the visual transitions, macOS has undergone a transition from PowerPC to Intel and that transition occurred from 2005 to 2006. macOS is about to undergo another transition. This one from Intel to Apple Silicon. The transition from Intel to ARM is now underway, with the release of Xcode 12 and the ability for developers to begin taking their existing apps and converting them to Apple’s Silicon.

There are many reasons for this transition. The biggest amongst them is that Apple will be able to more tightly integrate the hardware and software for macOS. This means that they will be able to fine tune their silicon to work for macOS as well as bringing new features that macOS has not been able to have, like better battery life, Apple’s integrated graphics processors, and the Secure Enclave.

As with any transition there may be changes that developers will need to make to their apps. Some of these will take some time and if you are not able to complete your code changes, you can rely on the emulation layer, Rosetta 2. This will allow your existing apps to continue running on Macs running on Apple Silicon. One of the biggest tasks performed on macOS is development work. Sometimes this requires you to have more than one operating system install, and this is done with the built-in Virtualization software. This software will take

Developers can apply to be in the Universal Quick Start Program to begin getting their applications ready for the Apple Silicon transition. Apple is anticipating selling its first Apple Silicon-based Mac by the end of the 2020. Furthermore, Apple is expecting the transition to take two years to complete.

Closing Thoughts

This is a big year for Apple overall. iOS 14, iPadOS 14, tvOS 14, and watchOS 7 bring new features to each of their respective platforms. The biggest change comes with the new version of macOS with the transition from Intel to Apple’s own Silicon.

The features I have highlighted only scratch the surface of new features that are available in all of the new operating systems. Some topics have been skipped entirely, like enhancements to Car Play and the ability to use your iPhone as a car key, which will also be coming to iOS 13.

The developer betas of iOS 14, iPadOS 14, tvOS 14, watchOS 7, and macOS 11.0 are available today. There will be public betas of each of iOS, iPadOS, macOS, and new this year, watchOS, will be available next month.

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Apple

Thoughts on Apple Blocking ‘Hey’ app Update

I have been thinking about the ‘Hey’ app controversy that has been happening this week. I was not sure if I was going to post about it, but I have decided I have thing to say about it. I will not go in-depth into the situation. There are others that have done a much better job than I could.

If you want to read the start of it, you can begin with the original Twitter thread from Basecamp’s co-founder, and Chief Technology Office, David Heinemeier Hansson. The first tweet is below and clicking on it will show the entire thread.

For more comprehensive coverage, check out a TechCrunch piece by Sarah Perez and an interview with Apple’s Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing, Phil Schiller TechCrunch’s Matthew Panzarino. Despite the more expansive coverage by others, a brief summary is needed.

Brief Summary

To summarize the issue, Apple is refusing to allow an update for Basecamp’s ‘Hey’ email app, without Basecamp implementing in-app purchasing for subscriptions. Doing so allows Apple to get their 30% cut of the subscription fee. I have some thoughts on this as an independent developer.

My Thoughts

First, this entire situation should be terrifying for all developers. The amount of power that Apple has over the App Store is absolute. They can make or break an independent developer. If Apple is willing to pick on a large developer, then what chance does a small and independent developer have? Ben Thompson, of Stratechery, has heard from numerous companies, “from the smallest companies in the world to the largest”, about how they have been subjected to the same demands as Basecamp, so this is not a one-off situation.

Second, this is very bad from an optics standpoint. Former technology journalist, and super smart techie, Christina Warren sums it up quite nicely:

This is a complete and utter shit show, plain and simple. There have been many examples of Apple doing things that go against the interest of developers. Sometimes these are in the names of customer privacy, which is to be lauded, yet in other situations, the actions are just plainly against the developer.

Third, the timing of this could not have been worse. If this had been, say November, it might not get as much attention, but this is the week before Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference. The week prior to, and of WWDC, the focus is on Apple, its developers, and the new releases. Furthermore, the response from Apple became a focus of the technology community on the same day that the European Union began investigating Apple for its App Store practices.

What did not help was the tone of the response to Basecamp. As Ben Thompson and John Gruber stated on their June 19th episode of their podcast Dithering, typically “Apple is a measure twice and cut once company”, also stated, and I am paraphrasing, “it could be that Apple felt pressure to respond” as to not have the story continue into WWDC week, when they want the focus to be on the new releases.

From Ben Thompson’s June 18th Stratechery newsletter:

Everyone else is absolutely terrified of Apple — again, from the smallest companies in the world to the largest.

In fact, I would go so far as to say that executives in the tech industry are more afraid of Apple in 2020 than they were of Microsoft two decades ago. App Store Review is such an absolute gatekeeper, and the number of ways that Apple can retaliate are so varied and hard to verify, that no one is willing to publicly breathe a word against the company.

This last sentence is the part that I think is the most problematic. Microsoft had quite a strong hold on the internet browser market in the mid-1990s that it was difficult for anyone else to make a dent into the market, because the browser was built into the operating system with no way to uninstall. I would venture to say that their stranglehold is somewhat similar to the way that Google has used its dominate market position to force changes that go against the open web standards, but that is a different topic entirely. The result of these practices was the infamous Microsoft was an anti-trust trial that resulted in Microsoft having to unbundle their internet browser from the operating system and provide users with alternatives. It it unknown what a similar trial for Apple would result in.

The arbitrary nature of the App Store approval process is not new. Many Apple developers have stated that sometimes it comes to the luck of the draw as to whether or not your app will get rejected for any reason. This is due to the “Monday Morning Reviewer” syndrome and the whims of the reviewer. For instance, you could submit your app for approval, have it get rejected for some reason, make a minor change or no change at all except for a build number, then resubmit and it will be approved. This shows the arbitrary nature of the App Store reviewers and the inconsistencies between them.

Lastly, many have stated that Apple’s priorities are as follows:

  1. Apple
  2. Customers
  3. Developer third.

This seems to be borne out in practice. Apple is first and foremost a public company. Their valuation depends on investors paying more for shares of the company and their primary focus is making more money. Customers coming second also makes sense, because Apple cannot make money without customers.

However, having developers being last does not always make sense. I think Apple forgets that a vast majority of its developers, 99.9%, are also their customers, just as much as their non-developer customers are their customers. Developers, who have inarguably helped build the App Store and Apple into the company that they are today, are the same ones who buy Apple’s products. They have to do so, in order to build an app and have it in the App Store. Outside of this, developers are often the ones telling their friends and family to purchase Apple products and bringing people into the Apple ecosystem. The reason that they do this is not just because they are developers, but because they also enjoy using the products.

What I think Apple seems to forget is that yes, they built the platform, however it is is the developers who have created the apps in the App Store. The apps have driven demand for Apple’s products and the App Store in general. I understand that Apple has seen falling demand for the physical products and wants to wants/needs to shift to services as their primary source of revenue. This approach makes sense, but not to the extent where it will begin pushing developers to think about releasing new apps and I honestly could see some developers opting for other platforms and foregoing Apple’s platforms entirely.

Furthermore, I would not be surprised if we starting seeing MORE apps that utilize cross-platform frameworks, like Electron, instead of fewer. The reason I think this is because if a developer uses one of these and Apple decides that they want to pull their app from the store, then their development workflow does not change much and they still can make money from their work. This results in a worse experience, but when you are at the whims of an arbitrary set of rules, you may not have a choice.

If you ask any developer who has been building apps for the App Store for any length of time to describe an instance when their app was rejected, each and every developer would invariably have an example to share. I am no exception to this.

My Experiences

I will state outright that I do not make my primary living from the App Store. The amount I have made from the App Store does not even cover the developer fees that I have paid. Even with that though, I still do have two apps on the App Store, and I also use my developer account to be able to download and install beta releases of Apple’s platforms, for my books, so I do rely on my developer account. I have been paying for my Apple Developer account since 2008 when the iOS SDK was announced, so I am not a newbie to the App Store and the Apple developer community. This entire situation makes me quite hesitant to develop any new applications, because they can be rejected for any reason, and at any point. It is not likely that Apple would remove an already published app from the store, but it has been done.

Since my app has been on the App Store for over 10 years, I have had my fair share of app rejections. Most of these were due to mistakes on my end (like app crashes and buttons not working, or missing metadata, missing entitlements, and other minor blunders), but two that I can think of right now, were not. The first instance was when my App was rejected because Apple wanted to ask about how I used a specific feature. Instead of just putting a hold on the release, they outright rejected the app. No developer likes to have their application rejected and having it rejected for something like this seems counter-intuitive.

The second, and more time consuming issue, was when I was forced to change the name of my ad-supported app, because it contained the word “free” in the name. The app had been in the store for 8 years at that point and there was no issue up until that point. This is a prime example of rule re-interpretation. Neither of these really impacted my revenue since my app has had $635 in total sales since being released in 2010. The time consuming aspect was not the fact that the name had to be changed, but this version is the one where I introduced app icons. This caused me extensive amounts of time. First, I had to come up with a new name. Next I had to make the necessary code changes, re-create the icons, and then re-import all of them. Each icon had to be individually imported and with 14 icons and 18 different sizes for each one, this meant 252 individual icons that needed to be imported. Needless to say it was a lot of work for a change that did not need to be done, except on the whims of an Apple App Store decision.

Possible Solution

I do have an idea, which might be a compromise, but would take significant work on Apple’s part. Right now there is no way to side-load an app onto iOS. I think Apple should create the ability to do so. This could, and should be, in the same manner as macOS apps that cannot, or their developers prefer not, to have them on the Mac App Store. In other words they need to be notarized.

These apps would still get the same protections that apps on MacOS get, in that they will be checked for malicious code, individual app versions can be removed. Additionally, these apps could be distributed outside of the App Store. With this approach, these apps could be allowed to use their own payment processing, but they would still be protected by the App Store. Sandboxing can be enforced and required. Alternatively, maybe it does go through a full App Store review, and a downloadable, distributable version that is counter-signed by Apple is provided.

This could be a special type of app that would not be allowed to be distributed on the App Store and it would still need to be verified before it can run. This would require significant work for Apple, not only on the App Store side, but also on iOS. They would have to build the ability to side-load apps onto iOS, which is not available now.

I do not claim that this is the best approach and I am sure that I am missing somethings that could cause the idea to not be a worthwhile pursuit, but it is something that can be looked into. It would mean additional work for users to obtain these. However, all around it could allow developers to be able to provide their apps in a secure manner and the slight relaxation of the rules for these apps would generate good will amongst developers and users.

Even if Apple were to begin working on this now and make it a priority, it will likely be a year before we will see this come to fruition. However, considering the amount of time that things like this take, it would not be something we would see for years.

Closing Thoughts

I do not think this is a one-off situation, nor the last time that this type of controversy will erupt. There have been rumblings that Apple specifically targets popular developers to make examples of them, specifically because of the popularity of the app. The developers often do not have any choice but to comply. In this particular case, Basecamp is not complying, they are going to fight.

While I understand that the App Store rules are intentionally not black and white, as to allow some interpretation, and that the rules do not explicitly state what is allowed versus not allowed, in this case I do think Apple is making a mistake by not applying the rules consistently. This line from Apple’s response to Basecamp is contrary to what they are doing:

We are happy to continue to support you in your app business and offer you the solutions to provide your services for free — so long as you follow and respect the same App Store Review Guidelines and terms that all developers must follow.

There has not been consistency and enforcement of the rules. There are big companies who can get away with many things without having their apps pulled and their developer accounts cancelled. One big example is Facebook. They used background APIs to listen as well as always track users. At the same time, if a small developer did this, their app was removed and their developer account cancelled.

Sadly, I do not think Apple will be changing its mind on this. I think it will come down to Apple’s hand being forced by laws and rulings that they are compelled to comply with in order for there to be any meaningful change. Unfortunately, this is not a fast process and it will take time for the investigation by the European Union to conclude. Getting a law passed in the United States, in the current political climate, is not likely either. This means that many developers will likely have no choice but comply with Apple’s demands or face losing their livelihoods.

As is the case with many other developers, I am somewhat concerned about talking about the topic for fear that Apple will find it, read it, and not like what I have posted and then remove my developer account, but as you can see, I did post the article.