Soundbyte 302 – April 2020

ChristopherNews, SoundByte


Due to the Covid-19 Coronovirus outbreak, LMUG meetings will need to take place online for the foreseeable future. This will include our next meeting on April 6 (taking place early to avoid Easter Monday on the 13th) and our AGM, which is postponed to May. Apple stores are closed and our pub venue, the Sir John Balcombe, has also temporarily closed, following government orders.

While this disruption is regrettable, our meetings will continue! I urge all LMUG members to read about how we will hold them. The modern technology we will be using is a great opportunity for you to join our meetings if you haven’t before; haven’t been able to for a while; want to keep up attendance or want something interesting to do during the lock down!

I look forwards to seeing as many of you as possible next Monday. Thank you for supporting LMUG!

In this issue:

  • How will we hold our online meetings?
  • Our next meeting: Show and Tell – Quarantine
  • New Macs announced
  • New 2020 iPad Pro
  • How to clean your Apple products
  • Apple targets adware on Macs
  • More rumours about Apple Glasses
  • Is Apple ready to ditch Intel chips?
  • Bring back the bong!
  • Special Offers for members

How will we hold our online meetings?

All change! As mentioned above, we simply cannot have our usual meet-ups in a pub for the time being. Luckily, new technology has been developed over the past few years to make group video conferencing and webinars possible for everyone. You may have heard that the G20 world leaders recently met by video conference to discuss the Covid-19 world pandemic. The software they used is called Zoom and it is available as a free app on the Mac (in Safari) and iOS (on your iPhone or iPad). There is also a version for Android.

LMUG will use Zoom for its meetings.

In order to use Zoom you need to sign up for a free Zoom account or you can sign-in with an existing Facebook or Google account. You need to do this before you can join a Zoom meeting.

We will be able to present our presentations directly though Zoom. It will fill your screen, but you will still be able to talk and contribute. There is also a mute button and stop video button for privacy.

Zoom is being used widely by business; schools and even yoga instructors, to deliver their services online rather than in-person during the lock-down. LMUG’s committee member, Martin Kelly has volunteered to help you set up Zoom. You can find his email address in the Soundbyte email.

Our next meeting: Show and Tell – Quarantine

Join LMUG online on Monday April 6 at 7pm.

To join the meeting, look in the email that this month’s Soundbyte came with. You can find the link to join the Zoom meeting in there.

We will run a quarantine special this month. We will start as normal with Newsbyte and then focus on three areas to help us get through the lockdown:

  • Fighting Isolation: How to use Zoom and join-in with video meetings
  • Time for creativity: Paid apps now free during the lock down
  • Keep up your spirits: Great entertainment now available

We are hoping to use this meeting as a trial run to ensure we are comfortable with Zoom, ready for our AGM next month.

If you missed our last meeting, on living with an iPad, you can watch below:

New Macs announced

Apple has announced a refreshed Mac Mini and upgrades to its most popular Mac, the MacBook Air.

The new Mac Mini has double the hard drive space, now with a minimum of 256GB. Mac Mini can be configured up to a massive 2 Terrabytes. Prices start at £799.

The new MacBook Air has gained the redesigned ‘scissor key’ keyboard from the MacBook Pro. The new keyboard is considered nicer to use and should be much more reliable, should a crumb get stuck between the keys. It also gains additional storage, the latest Intel processors and a £100 price cut! Starting at £999. Watch Nilay Patel’s a review of the 2020 MacBook Air below:

New 2020 iPad Pro

Apple announced new iPad Pro’s. These retain the same design as the 2018 iPad Pro’s with some significant changes. These includes an upgraded A12Z Bionic chip; a wide angle lens; a LiDAR scanner and coming soon a new Magic Keyboard. Prices start at £769. Daring Fireball has written a detailed review here.

You can also watch Marcus Brownlee’s full review here:

The LiDAR scanner is specifically for augmented reality. When pointed at a room or object it can rapidly determine its distance and size. You may have used AR before in Apple’s measuring app, which the LiDAR scanner accelerates and makes more reliable. It will be up to developers to make compelling uses for it.

But perhaps more significant than the hardware is the iPad OS update that has arrived alongside the new iPad. This brings Trackpad and Mouse support to the iPad. Apple’s Craig Federighi demos the trackpad feature in a video on this page.

Did you notice the Magic Keyboard Craig Federighi was using? It is a cantilevered design that holds the iPad using magnets but balances it in a way that evokes the iMac G4 from 2002. Ah memories of simpler times!

As of publication, no reviewer has seen the new Magic Keyboard yet, so we don’t know, for example, how the balancing works on your lap. But Apple has released an extraordinary advert showing it in action:

Some reviewers have looked at the progress of the iPad and compared it to the Microsoft Surface Pro. Microsoft started from the opposite direction to Apple. Apple built the iPhone OS into the iPadOs. Microsoft put the full Windows PC into a tablet. It launched in 2013 and the current version is the Windows Surface Pro X. So is Apple now copying Microsoft?

Microsoft Surface Pro X, starting from £899

Anyone who has used both devices will know the answer is absolutely not! The iPadOS works totally differently and far better on a tablet than Windows 10. But those of us with very long memories, will remember that Apple and Microsoft have a cross-patent agreement. They can borrow ideas but they cannot clone each other. The iPad and Surface Pro aren’t the only uncanny valleys in computing. This month’s peek over the garden fence is at the upcoming XBox games console from Microsoft. There is nothing in it of interest to me, except for the design, which looks like a squared off version of the 2013 Mac Pro. Definitely not a copy, but we can see some shared ideas around ventilation. Let’s hope if there are some ideas being shared, that we continue to see great innovations being developed as a result.

How to clean your Mac

With the Corona virus pandemic, questions have been raised about shared computers and phones and the risk of transmission through surfaces. Apple has responded with guidance, for the first time on cleaning your Mac. Read it here.

Apple targets ad-ware on Macs

Is your Mac infected? Have you seen that ad on the web? It is almost certainly malicious spam and you should ignore it. It has gotten so bad that Apple is now using functions in Mac OS to take action to block them Read more about what Apple is doing here.

More rumours about Apple Glasses

It’s the next big thing, allegedly, and more clues are emerging about Apple’s secret, not so secret work on putting a computer into something you should wear on your head. Maybe.

The speculation centres around patents recently lodged by Apple. These show systems for wireless charging, object detention and face fitting. Another shows that Apple was continuing to work on purchased Augmented Reality technology that could feature heavily in Apple Glasses.

It just isn’t possible though, to guess what real products might emerge from Apple’s patents. Maybe the LiDAR functions in the latest iPad is the real output? We can only guess. For an idea of what Apple Glasses might do, we can look over the garden fence. One interesting application could be video conferencing. Have a look at the video below for what the current state-of-the art Augmented Reality version of this looks like.

I don’t know about you, but I find the not quite dead faces a bit creepy and the headset used (Microsoft Hololens) rather strange. Whereas what Apple did with Animojis, which is literally the same technology, shows a completely different direction is possible.

Is Apple ready to ditch Intel chips?

Rumors go on and on about Apple putting their A-series chips into Macs. The A-series is indeed very powerful, running in iPhones and iPads, but each predicted deadline comes and goes. Is the technology ready? Former Apple executive Jean Louis-Gassee, thinks so. Read on.

Bring back the bong!

Does your Mac go bong when you start up? This sound was a comforting system test to confirm the Mac was feeling OK. Apple removed this feature a few years ago, unfortunately. In this video we get to hear every startup bong Apple made since the 1980s.

But surprise, they have now brought it back! Sort of. Learn how to enable it in this follow up video.

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