Hello and welcome to this month’s bumper edition of Soundbyte! In this issue:
- May Meeting – Content Creation
- The new iMac and iPad Pro
- Privacy enhancements in iOS 14.5
- M2 – the next Apple chip?
- Avoiding Zoom Fatigue
- Goggles go high-tech for the military
- What’s next for HomeKit?
- 9 Years left…
- Back to the Future
- Rearrange your iPhone apps like a ninja!
- Offers and discounts for members
May Meeting – Content Creation
Join us this Monday, May 10 at 7pm for our monthly (online) meet up. This month we have a special guest, YouTube star and marketer Mark Ellis who will explain his content creation process using apps like Final Cut Pro and Logic. We will start the evening as usual with Newsbyte, going over the news from last month.
Check the members email for the link to the meeting. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to the Brew and Byte Podcast, now with chapter markings so you can skip to the part of the conversation that interests you the most. Check out the latest episode on the show notes page for Brew and Byte!
The new iMac and iPad Pro
Apple sprung a special event on us last month that was packed with new products. We will cover the details on Apple’s Spring Loaded event in Newsbyte but here are some of the highlights and my thoughts:
Apple unveiled a long awaited re-design of the iMac, available in a spectrum of colours. It is a design made possible by the efficiency of the Apple M1 chip. This efficiency means that there is no longer a need for large fans and heat sinks to cool the chip. Instead, Apple removed the bulge on the back where the intel chip and cooling apparatus used to be and slimmed down the iMac as far as possible. It is so thin, they moved the Ethernet port to the power cable. Despite it being so slim, Apple promises excellent sound from the internal speakers. This is just as well, because according to Macworld in this article, Mac OS still does not work well with external wireless stereo HomePods. As a new minimalist Apple design, it has of course caused a lot of controversy in the media. Despite this, we can expect this to be a hit with customers. The iMac combines a minimalist design, an outstanding super high resolution screen, the latest connectivity and the ferocious performance of the Mac Mini (see previous Soundbytes). This combination will be hard for PC makers to match with hot and power hungry Intel chips, they will need something else.
Apple then shocked everyone by putting the same high-performance Apple M1 chip into a new iPad Pro. They also gave the iPad Pro a new mini-LED screen. Called XDR, this screen shares the same ability to dim different areas of the display to enhance blacks and contrast, as Apple’s Pro-Display XDR monitor. Some commentators think these upgrades indicate that the iPad will become more Mac-like with Mac apps like Final Cut Pro added. Your editor, who has used an iPad as his ‘computer’ since 2011, is sceptical. The iPad has always been overpowered and great value as a result. This power is what ensures the iPad lasts for 5 years or more. The iPad Pro would normally have an “X” chip with enhanced graphics power. This year with the iPad Air and iPhone getting the A14, we might have expected an A14X. But the M1 is so similar that Apple probably decided to save themselves the bother of making it. Of course, Apple would like you think it is far more dramatic…
Apple unveiled a new accessory called Airtag. This is a slim disc that you can slip in your bag or attach to a keychain. It is also a technology (called Find My) that can be built-into products like bikes. Similar to products like Tile, which can play a noise and show on a map where your lost keys are, AirTag helps you find your bag or keys that you have lost or left behind somewhere. The killer feature is the iPhone integration. AirTag can communicate with any and every iPhone that passes near it (there are millions of iPhones in the World), sending a completely encrypted message to indicate its general location. It also includes a special chip that will direct you, via an iPhone 11 or later, to its precise location within the nearest foot (30 centimetres).
Apple has also included a privacy features to alert you, in case someone puts an AirTag on you and tries to track you (think stalkers). You will get an alert on your iPhone once you’re safe at home. You can pause these alerts, if for example, you lend your car keys with an AirTag to your partner to drive somewhere. What is slightly less clear, is how an AirTag can help you find, for example, a stolen laptop. Won’t the thief be alerted to the AirTag in your laptop bag once they are safe at home? Apple doesn’t market AirTag for this scenario, but it seems likely that Apple has taken this carefully into account.
Privacy enhancements in iOS 14.5
Pro-consumer but advertiser-enraging enhancements have been made to iOS 14.5. This is a setting that enables you to opt-out of money-making but privacy-intrusive tracking [how many hyphens! ED.]. Apple’s head of software explains more below:
M2 – the next Apple chip?
Apple will not be resting on its Laurels with the Apple M1 chip. It is widely expected that when Apple unveils its new professional-level Macs later this year and next, they will sport a powerful new chip – the Apple M2. A couple of significant announcements have foreshadowed what these might look like and how far Apple could go.
When Apple switched from using Intel chips in Macs to its own Apple Silicon, it didn’t simply start making its own version of Intel Chips. It switched architecture. The Intel chips use an architecture called x86, while the Apple M1 uses an architecture called ARM, designed and licensed by a company based in the UK, also called ARM.
Apple has had a very long and close relationship with ARM, helping found the company in the early-1990s. Apple has always kept up with the latest revisions to ARM’s architectures as you can see in this table below, showing ARM architectural developments and the Apple products they enabled:
|First Apple Product
|VSLI ARM 610
|DEC StrongARM SA110
|Apple Newton MessagePad 2000
|Apple iPhone 3GS
|Apple iPhone 5S
|Apple ”Pro-level” Macs?
You can see that Apple has been using ARM over many years, for critical products (including the iPod which used ARMv4). A significant moment came in 2013 with the iPhone 5S and the Apple A7 processor. By 2013, Apple had a license to make its own custom Apple Silicon/ARM chips, starting with the A4 in the original iPad. But its in-house chip designers pulled-off an audacious coup with the A7, implementing the ARMv8’s 64-bit architecture a full year before any other consumer chip company. Because of this, is it expected that Apple will have been in early and hard at work on the lastest ARM architecture: ARMv9, which was announced last month. ARM v9 includes performance improvements, but if you look closely at the other features, they look similar to the existing custom Apple Silicon designs, with secure enclaves (touch-ID), media encoders (4K video processing) and neural engines (artificial intelligence). It is possible that ARMs other customers (including Google and Microsoft) wanted ARM to design in for them, some of the special features Apple have put into their own custom ARM chip designs.
But it is another thing that ARM announced recently that might indicate the sort of chip that Apple could design for the Mac Pro. The current Mac Pro uses Intel Zeon server chips. These are a step above the computer chips in regular PCs and are typically much larger with many cores, up to 28, in the top-of-the-line Mac Pro. When these multi-cores are working together, they can greatly outperform the M1 which only has 4 performance cores. Well, ARM has designed a new chip to outperform these Zeon chips. Gary Simms, below, explains it. This is not a chip that Apple will use for the Mac Pro, they will design their own custom chip suited to the Mac, but let your mind boggle at what might be possible if Apple designed an M2 for Mac Pro with with 128 cores!
Avoiding Zoom Fatigue
And now for something completely different. As you know, our meetings have been online, through Zoom since the start of the pandemic. And for many of us this is the tip of an iceberg of online meetings where you worry about your background, what you’re wearing and much else. Stanford University has produced some advice on how to manage the fatigue caused by this. Read how in this article from Tidbits.
Goggles go high-tech for the military
Good news for Microsoft (from over the garden fence). The US military has ordered an enormous number of their (large and rather un-Apple like) augmented-reality headsets. Perhaps this will be the next-generation of night-vision googles. Read more about these goggles on the BBC.
What’s next for HomeKit?
Apple slipped in a major feature in the latest HomePod Mini and Apple TV: Thread. Thread is a new technology for smart devices that enable them to daisy chain wirelessly so that you do not need repeater hubs around your house. It’s all explained here.
9 Years left…
We’ve got to get carbon emissions well under control by 2030 and Apple is progressing its plans to make itself and its suppliers carbon neutral.
As part of this, Apple is investing in nature to remove carbon from the atmosphere. Read about it on Mac Rumors.
Related to this, plenty of smoke was seen and a few flames quickly dowsed around Apple’s secret (shush don’t tell anyone!) plans to make an electric car. If Apple was thinking of working with Hyundai, what might they have seen to make them think they were a potential partner? Maybe something like this?
Back to the Future
What happens when you merge one of the most iconic Macs from the past, the PowerMac G4 Cube, with a powerful new M1 Mac Mini from the present. A match made in heaven? Take a look:
In other news that could influence the future, VMware Fusion has announced and Parallels has now delivered official virtualisation support for the Apple M1 processor. Testers have wasted no time testing Windows in Parallels with surprising results. As mentioned previously, this version of Windows is a test version with no official support. Try this at your own risk or watch below risk-free!
Rearrange your iPhone apps like a ninja!
Watch below to learn this hidden trick to re-arrange your iPhone Home Screen multiple apps at a time. Like a ninja!
Offers and discounts for members
Find below this months special offers for our paying members. Access these offers through the members section of the LMUG website.
- Free Lessons for Apple User Groups from Dan’s Tutorials
- Eve Products: 25% Discount
- TechTool Pro: 50% Discount
- AgileBits 1Password 7: 25% Discount
- MacCleanse 8 Software: 20% Discount
- EverWeb by RAGE Software: 50% Discount
- Opus ][ Complete Collection: 25% Discount
- Que Publishing Products: 35-45% Discount
- Take Control Books: 30% Discount on All eBooks
- Teams ID, a Password Manager for Teams: 33% Discount
- TidBITS Content Network for Apple professionals: Get a free month of tips and articles!