Soundbyte 344 – October 2023


MacOS Sonoma

Welcome to this bulging edition of SoundByte! In this issue:


Join us at 7pm, GMT+1, Tuesday, October, 10 for our next meet-up. We will be reviewing all of Apple’s latest releases. This year has seen lots of developments to Apple’s devices and Oses, but most of them might not be visible on first boot. Let’s talk about what’s new on the iPhone, iPad, Mac and Watch.

Check the email this newsletter came in for the Zoom link. We will also post the link in our Slack General Channel. 

Follow the London Mac User Group on…Mastodon🐘! If you are not familiar with Mastodon, have a look at TidBit’s explainer here.

New venue alert!

For our in person meetings, we will be at a new venue. Join us south of the river at the St James’s Pub, in Bermondsey, for our January meeting. The pub is just 5 minutes walk from Bermondsey Tube Station on the Jubilee Line. We will stream the meeting online as usual.

iPhone 15

Like clockwork, the iPhone was upgraded again this year. Similar to previous years, some of the technology from the iPhone Pro 14 is now in the iPhone 15, while the iPhone 15 Pro gets some significant upgrades including a new A17 processor. Both new phones get new cameras and the default photo resolution doubles from 12 to 24 megapixels, showing more detail if you zoom in.

Apple has also been forced, kicking and screaming to add USB-C charging to the iPhone, and that’s the beginning of the end of the ancient Lightning connector, first added to the iPhone in 2012! That change was enough to temp LMUG’s treasurer, a long time Google user to give it a go this time, read his excellent in-depth review on Medium here.

Watch Mrwhostheboss’ review below:

Now, it wouldn’t be a new iPhone without a scandal and this year its overheat-gate. It turns out that the iPhone was overheating at random moments. The good news is that Apple has found the culprit and has worked on a software update to fix it. Did I mention above that Lightning was gone? Not to worry if that concerns you, Apple has also released a new pricey dongle to assist.

Some bad news is that Apple has not upgraded its MagSafe battery pack or Duo Charger with the new USB-C connector, instead it appears to be cancelled. This might not be a disaster as Apple has shared its MagSafe technology to make the new Qi Charger standard. This means third party options may multiply.

As mentioned above, the new iPhone Pro includes a new processor, the A17 Pro. In some ways it is an incremental update on the A16, in other ways it is significant, using the latest chip technology and including hardware ray-tracing, which makes lighting look realistic in games and could have a big impact when that technology comes to the Mac (see below). One famous YouTuber is already using his iPhone for a full gaming experience. Learn more about the A17 Pro from Gary below:

Apple Watch and AirPods get Pro upgrades

Apple Watch has been upgraded to series 9 with a new brighter screen, colours and it first upgraded processor for several years. Apple Watch Ultra was also upgraded to version 2 with similar upgrades. The Ultra now seems to be the choice for enthusiasts serious about fitness, have a look at DC Rainmaker’s thorough review below:

You would look hard to find what’s different about the AirPods Pro 2, until you go to charge it with a cable. Yes it’s now USB-C too, so you can charge it using the same cable as your new iPhone 15 (ED – aren’t we using wireless charging now?) A hidden change is a new audio codec on the Pro AirPods that promises high quality lossless audio…but only when used with an Apple Vision headset. Have a read of John’s Gruber’s review on of the new ear buds on Daring Fireball.

Speaking of the Apple Vision, in what can only be described as a remarkable stroke of inspiration from somewhere, Meta has turned left and completely changed their VR head set, adding a series of upgrades that make it work as a spatial computer, similar to Apple’s Vision Pro. But they have done this at a very non-Pro price. Have a look below for a familiar experience below via the Verge:


All of Apple’s operating systems got updates. For Mac Users we get Sonoma. This includes a change that is visible on start up, it gets the amazing screensavers from the Apple TV as dynamic wallpaper. But more seriously, it gets widgets from iOS, and some significant features for video conferencing, like compositing you into a corner of your presentation. There is more sharing, better pdf support and more. It’s almost dizzying, I found you can start a photo edit on Mac, transfer it to iPad like Magic to work up with Apple Pencil (or your finger) and then transfer it back in a blink. Have a look at MacRumors 50 features to check out on their website.

Apple has made some significant changes for gaming on the Mac. They are almost taking gamers seriously now. First is a Game Mode that tells the Mac to put all its resources to the task if you take your game full screen. More significantly, they have ported Microsoft’s 3D gaming technology to the Mac to help game makers port their top-end games over. One gaming company has used this to cut direct to the chase, look below:

Our Technical Editor hasn’t forgotten those of us on old unsupported Macs. Is there’s any hope for us? Maybe; he has used the instructions in this video to install macOS Monterey on his 2013 iMac:

The iPad and iPhone also received significant updates With iOS and iPad OS 17. Have a look at this review of iPad OS17’s features below from Christopher Lawley to familiarise yourself with what’s new:

You may notice that some of the new features of OS17 are similar to Sonoma. That is the level of cross development and compatibility between Apple’s OSes. iOS 17 gains the same stickers, sharing and video conferencing features. If you turn your iPhone sideways on a desk stand charger, it will also turn into night stand, like a big Apple Watch.

iPhone in nightstand mode

Widgets are also improved, but perhaps more important for us in the UK, coming soon, we will be able to integrate our bank accounts into Apple Wallet using the Open Banking framework. Read more on Mac Rumors here.

Phew, what next? Well, in the AirPod Pro review from John Gruber above, you can read about the new smart modes for separating voices from background noise. This update happens if you keep your AirPods next to your Phone, perhaps overnight. It’s invisible and just works. This is similar to the Apple TV Siri remote, place it near to your Apple TV overnight to upgrade its firmware and gain the ability to find lost remotes using an iPhone.

And that brings us to the Apple TV which gains the settings widgets from iOS along with the video conferencing features from the Mac (which could transform your Apple TV). Have a look at the summary below of what’s new from Brandon Butch:

ARM-in-arm forever more

Apple A17

It’s Apple and ARM sitting in a tree as Apple inks a very long-term deal to keep using ARM intellectual property in its Apple Silicon processors. Perhaps it’s time to buy some ARM stock if you can. Read about it on MacRumours.

Going for Green!

Green Apple Logo

The science is clear, we have got to go carbon neutral as soon as possible to limit the worst of climate change and Apple is with the science. In the details of the AirPod Pro update was a commitment to go carbon neutral not just with Apple’s internal operations, but with you too, covering the emissions that may occur when you charge Apple devices:

Today, Apple is carbon neutral for global corporate operations, and by 2030, plans to be 100 percent carbon neutral across its entire manufacturing supply chain and all product life cycles. This means that every Apple device sold, from component manufacturing, assembly, transport, customer use, charging, all the way through recycling and material recovery, will have net-zero climate impact.

This is great news along with the announcement that the AirPods Pro set a new standard for Apple in circular manufacturing, which reduces the pressure on Earth’s limited resources. Again direct from their press release, it uses: 100 percent recycled rare earth elements in all magnets and 100 percent recycled gold in the plating of multiple printed circuit boards. The case also uses 100 percent recycled tin in the solder of the main logic board and 100 percent recycled aluminum in the hinge. AirPods Pro (2nd generation) are free of potentially harmful substances such as mercury, BFRs, PVC, and beryllium. Redesigned packaging eliminates the outer plastic wrap, and 90 percent or more of the packaging is made using fiber-based materials, bringing Apple closer to its goal of completely removing plastic from all packaging by 2025.

Thinking of Apple…is what I was doing watching Greg Jackson unveil his new Octopus Cosy Heat Pump, Steve Jobs style, in front of a tech audience. This UK-made device could be quite important with some performance and price breakthroughs. Have a look below of what could be in our greener or purple futures (other colours will be available!):


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