Soundbyte 352 – June 2024



Welcome to Soundbyte! In this issue

June meeting: WWDC

Join LMUG next Monday, June 10 after Apple’s WWDC keynote presentation for our monthly meeting. Join us in Zoom from 5.45PM before the event starts and you can watch the keynote in another window from 6pm UK time. Switch back to Zoom after the keynote and we will discuss what happened. Access the keynote from the Apple Events page.

We will review the new products announced at WWDC, their impact and if we’re buying any of it. Come with your questions and we’ll try to answer them.

Check the email this newsletter came in for the Zoom link to the meeting. 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.

iPad Pro pushes the boundaries

In last month’s Apple event, two new iPads were announced and one was given a big price cut. The £150 price cut went to the base model iPad, which in reality is enough iPad for most people. It has the modern charging connector (USB-C), a fast enough A14 processor for most games and apps and support for the basic Apple Pencil. It also has a modern design with a centre stage camera on the side for video calls and Touch ID for password free unlocking, purchases and more. The only thing missing is Apple Stickers!

Apple updated the iPad Air. This gains the high powered M2-chip and a bigger screen option; ready for Pro applications and also support for the new Apple Pencil Pro.

This is perhaps the best iPad for someone wanting a tablet for art, creativity and music making (not like that, Apple!), but doesn’t have high-end professional workflows to complete.

As you might expect, the third updated iPad is the iPad Pro (sorry, no love for the Mini this time!) Apple have really expanded the difference between the Air and the Pro with some significant changes. First is the redesign. It is now only half a centimetre thick in its thinnest, lightest (and slightly more repairable) model. And it now has a super-bright OLED screen, making it superlative for outdoors professional work. The redesign has prompted Apple to redesign the Magic Keyboard case, adding function keys to improve productivity if a keyboard is needed. And then to blow the doors off, they have made iPad Pro the first Apple product to contain the new M4 chip. All the better to drive AI powered improvements inside Apple’s professional apps: Final Cut Pro and Logic for iPad.

The iPad can be used as a computer on its own. iPad is your editor’s main computer. But there are numerous niches where iPad Pro in particular appears to have become an indispensable tool. I’m thinking of sports where a powerful handheld computer with a camera can track and analyse athletes. Flight bags where it can replace heavy folders with manuals and route maps with a lightweight device with long battery life. A wide variety of iPad optimised apps help architecture, planning and other professions that need mobile and maybe stand-up computing. Less unweildy, longer lasting and lighter than a laptop. In these cases it’s a productivity increasing partner to the Mac or PC where more power (M4 chip) pays for itself. It also looks very cool, if that’s something you look for.

But we can’t talk about the power of the iPad without talking about the limitations. For me, as an iPad only user for several years, I found myself buying a Mac Mini to use the Photo editor I wanted, and to just get access to more capable apps. This doesn’t mean I want to put macOS on the iPad! Rather, a bigger screen with more resolution is just better for many workflows and there are some which are just easier on a Mac. Have a look at this video below from a long time serious iPad user:

Future shock part 6: Apple Dethroned?

Last month, the new Qualcomm chips, bringing fast ARM computing to PCs, were on the horizon. They are now in-sight and maybe we will see a real review next month. But so far, we have some official bench marks where we can see some versions of the Qualcomm X-Elite chip besting the M3 MacBooks. Have a peak at the early results below:

Now, this is a genuine lead in some areas, because as we saw above, the M4 is only in the iPad, not the Mac. And the indications are that in one area, the neural engine (for AI), the Snapdragon is a fair bit faster than the M4. We will have to see what extra power Apple adds when the M4 comes to Pro Macs. The M4 chip is a redesign using a new more efficient chip process (more power for less electricity). It also appears to be Apple’s first ARM v9 chip, Gary explains below:

How to make films with iPhone

We already know that professionals can use iPhone to take amazing videos. But how can you get that cinematic effect? Have a look at the video below to see how to transform your own home videos:

And have a look at these ingenious tricks to get professional-level video in controlled settings, like an interview or presentation.

Highs and lows with AI

Wow, a new version of ChatGPT has come out, and it’s amazing. At first sight. It is still a question and answer box, but golly it is impressive. Have a look at this video below of GPT-4o:

Perhaps what’s most impressive is the voice. Almost human. Almost Siri like. Perhaps we will see Siri gain similar abilities at WWDC? Apple is talking a lot about AI this year. Perhaps that is due to shareholder pressure not to miss the next wave or else! But Apple’s AI must have some real abilities to make our lives easier while respecting our privacy, not just sass. I’m thinking, can you describe your work and it builds an automation or Apple Script to do your work for you?

Something like this was unveiled by Google. Where their Gemini AI can read all your email (wait you’re saying no already? wait!) Imagine you are running a small business and it reads your orders and receipts and tabulates them for you to analyse. Useful or dystopian hallucinations?

Perhaps more exciting was what is in Google’s labs. It looks like they are working on new smart glasses…

Microsoft also unveiled their new AI tools alongside new PC laptops with Qualcomm X-Elite chips. Their big new feature is called Recall. This captures everything on your screen, all the time and (wait you’re saying no already? wait!) lets you ask the PC about something you did before to recall it. As well as a privacy concern, this might be a rip-off of a Mac app, , where you can actually see it doing some useful things, in certain environments. Apple will need to tread carefully with their AI to avoid bad mistakes.

VMware goes free

In a potentially great move for Mac Users wanting to run Windows, VMWare has made their Workstation Pro product for virtualising a PC free for personal use. Fusion Pro is free too:

Security updates

There are a whole bunch of security stories this month. Here are some bullets points from our Technical Editor:

  • Remember to keep your iPhone up-to-date. That usually works, but some people were waiting for the next update when their updated iPhone started showing them old deleted photos. Uh-oh. Read more on the Verge.
  • You might be familiar with advert and discounts for VPN software. Now, you might want to check under hood to see what security they are using as Norway’s Cyber Security Centre warns off a specific type of VPN that is too vulnerable to cyber attack. Read more here.
  • Did you know AirBnB had a problem with spy cameras? Have a read on Tidbits on how to look out for these before getting ready for bed.
  • Not quite security, but if Spotlight is slow on your Mac, you might be able to do something about ir. Read more on The Mac Observer.
  • Finally is it time to despair? AI may make fraud harder than ever to detect, maybe we need AI to protect us? Read more on BBC News.

Why it’s always 9:41 – Apple lore

Have you noticed that in Apple’s marketing, the iPhone tends to have the same time on screen, every time? It’s tradition apparently.

Going back in time, have a look at these BBC archive videos, one on the Information Superhighway (as it was called at the time) one on early computer viruses and this one on mobile phone theft!

Another relic is the optical disk. But once it was the future!

Jumping over the Garden fence, back to the old nemesis of the Mac, Windows 95. It’s dead isn’t it? Yes, but can it be brought back? Have a watch of this fantastic cinematic video describing one guys attempt:

Back to the present for some great tips for the Mac here:

And what looks like maybe the best new web browser for doing research.

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