Soundbyte 350 – April 2024

ChristopherNews, SoundByte

Solar Eclipse

Hello and Welcome to Soundbyte. In this issue:

April Meeting and our Annual General Meeting

Please join us online next Monday, April 15 at 7pm (GMT+1) to discuss unique photos.

After our regular NewByte on the latest Apple News, please select your favourite and most difficult or unique photos to share and discuss with the group. We are particularly inspired by and would like to see any photos of the recent solar eclipse across the Americas. What other inspiring photos have you taken? We will also reveal the winner of our photo competition which took place a few months ago. Look for the link to the meeting in the email Soundbyte was sent with.

Stop Press -Annual General Meeting.Announcement

With regret, we have postponed our annual general meeting to May 13th. Please find the agenda within the new email announcing the rescheduled AGM. As many members as possible must attend as we will be electing a new committee. There is much to discuss about the year ahead and what it should look like. Take part and help us set LMUG’s future direction! We will start the evening with our usual NewsByte presentation.

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

We look forward to seeing you all there.

About that Garden Fence

Perhaps a long time coming, Apple is now being sued by the US Government for anti-competitive practices. This relates to how Apple Watch and only Apple Watch works exclusively with the iPhone, how the wallet works; limitations on the types of apps and the divide between iMessage and messaging on Android devices. In particular, regarding how the App Store works, developer discontent has been growing. One consequence of this discontent could be the lack of apps for Vision Pro. We saw last month the European Union essentially breaking Apple’s stranglehold within iOS for app distribution.

Apple will be arguing that the iPhone can’t be a monopoly because you can buy an Android phone. There are possible counter points. Apple really has the lions share of profit in smartphones. Many competitors lose money trying to compete and have to exit the (unviable) market, leaving less competition for Apple. The seamless integrations we like within the garden, although a clear good, do make it hard to switch, and that can tip, for example, whole families into the garden without any competition. It will all be argued-out in court, likely over several years. Watch an overview on the Verge here:

Apple is not alone in regulatory examination of possible monopoly practices, Google and Meta will also be investigated, this time by the EU again.

Apple lost another case recently, this time in the UK for misleading pension providers about sales in China. Read about it on the BBC.

One of the ways that Apple can respond to all this negativity is PR and recently there was a quite remarkable tour of Apple Park given to a YouTuber. Your editor’s eyes literally boggled at the scenery; the mundanity seen constantly in the background of this fairly private location and the perfection of the interactions. One for the Kremlinologists. Watch below:

Ready or not AI is coming

Another frightening knock against generative AI (or rather the difficulty of training AI well) has emerged when researchers asked the latest AI models to decide whether to kill people by analysing their dialect. What’s frightening isn’t only death, but also how the AI failed at recruitment decision-making as well. Read about it on the Register. The issue is when prejudices in the world are lapped up and repeated by AI. This appears to be quite hard to fix.

Enter Apple, stage left. Apple has published a paper about a new way to train AI models, read about it on MacRumors. It seems clearer than ever that Absolutely Incredible AI is going to be one of Apple’s main reveals at WWDC this June. Will Apple have cracked how to train AI to be a useful friend and avoid the disasters that beset both Google and Microsoft? We will have to see. But we can see a glimpse of what is so exciting about generative AI, if we can just find the right application to benefit most of us. Have a look at the astonishing capabilities of Google Gemini, that Apple might try to co-opt into the next iOS.

Dark Visions

Vision Pro isn’t out in the UK yet, but reviews in the US have already progressed the Youtube engagement cycle from rumour, to controversy, excitement, disappointment, and moving on. For reasons I can’t explain [ED to self: have you read your own sceptical opinions?], this particular recent review, which turns left into the dystopian fears around it, caught my attention (n.b. some swearing):

One thing he repeats is the serious need for apps. Related to,this, Apple has released this session from WWDC last year, on how to design them.

Never-ending cyber threats

Cyber is the ex that won’t leave you alone. It’s the ex that turns up to your restaurant when you’re trying to eat dinner in peace with your new partner (AI). Anyway, back to Cyber. First, in case you missed it: if you were a customer of The North Face, your data may have been hacked! Read about the bad news here. Closer to home, beware of yet another iPhone threat, this time to do with resets. Be very wary of any unexpected reset requests. Read more here. That’s enough negativity. Something very useful to have if the worst happens is the manual for your computer. Now neatly compiled for Apple for you to bookmark.

Sounds, keyboard and tags

I’ll end Soundbyte with a remarkable compendium of articles compiled by our technical editor.

  • If you have AirPods Pro but don’t have an Apple Music subscription, it’s possible you haven’t experienced Spatial Audio. Want to know what the fuss is? Try the samples here. Speaking of Apple Music, what’s going on with lyrics?
  • Ever wanted to upgrade the soldered in memory or hard drive on your MacBook. Sure, but what happens when you take that to the extreme? Read this review of the modular FrameBook on the Guardian.
  • What makes your keyboard click? Enjoy this deep dive from Arstechnica.
  • FindMy and AirTags work like magic. But now we know what’s behind the curtain, have a peek on Mac Observer.
  • Do you use the Apple Magic Mouse? The slippery one? Can we do better? Someone thought so.

Offers for members

Please find below the special offers available to our paying members. Access these great discounts from the discounts page in the member’s section of the LMUG website.

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  • TidBITS Content Network for Apple professionals: Get a free month of tips and articles!