Nvidia to Launch Beta Mac Drivers for 10 Series GPUs

Nvidia made a surprise announcement this week. No, its not that TITAN Xp graphics card. Yes, it will definitely appeal to serious gamers with near unlimited budgets, but let’s be honest, Nvidia one-ups itself on a fairly regular basis. The real shocker is the other announcement that came with it: Nividia would be releasing beta Mac drivers for its GeForce 10-series chips based around its Pascal architecture.

Nvidia has released its own Mac drivers in the past. The MacBook Pro I’m currently using is using the Nvidia driver rather than Apple’s own. The interesting part is that the newest official Apple machines capable of using these cards are the 5,1 model Mac Pros released in the middle of 2010 and updated in 2012. These machines are nearing the end of their lifespan, have outdated I/O and honestly, the owners are not likely to upgrade them with modern video cards. These cards are not meant for the Mac Pro.

Where does this leave us? With two very grey markets. The first is Hackintoshes. While not a huge market, Apple’s lack of a up to date tower has left some niches of Mac users to take matters into their own hands and install MacOS onto DIY computer hardware. Since Intel’s desktop and mobile platforms usually share an architecture, and thusly drivers, its possible to make some fairly update to date and power homemade Mac clones. There are plenty of resources on the web, so I’m not going to tell you how. The one catch has been the graphics cards. Since Nvidia has fallen out of favor with Apple as of late, there have been no shipping Macs or graphics card beyond the 900 series. The Pascal drivers allow those Hackintoshes the latest and greatest 10-series cards in Nvidia’s stables.

Hackintoshes aren’t the only Macs the could benefit from the 10-series. With the advent of Thunderbolt 3, external GPU solutions for laptops are finally accessible. Not only that, but since the bus is bidirectional, TB3 can allow the eGPU to use your laptop’s own screen. There’s two catches. 1) The external enclosures tend to cost almost as much as the graphics cards themselves. This isn’t an option for the faint of budget at the moment. 2) Apple does not support external graphics options officially or otherwise. While there are options to enable external graphics support through terminal commands, if you fry your new $2500 MacBook Pro, you’re on your own.

All the grey areas aside, Nividia making these cards available to Mac users willing to live on the wild side is an exiting development. It’ll be interesting to see where this goes

Source: Nvidia

Editorial: Apple Changes Course on Mac Pro After Missing With Current Generation

By 2012, Apple’s Mac Pro was getting long in the tooth. It was gigantic and made of old tech. The limitations of the big, old cheese grater case it inherited by the Power Mac G5 were apparent and it kept getting more expensive. Apple did something very odd, they pre-announced they were working on a replacement and in late 2013, they announced the new from the ground up Mac Pro.

The new Mac Pro was a marvel of design. It featured a cylindrical design built around a massive heat radiation system. It was the smallest professional workstation ever built. It… well, was massively over engineered in a way that nobody asked for. It featured one CPU slot instead of two, requiring more expensive CPUs. There were only 4 DIMM slots for Ram. Instead of the multiple 3.5” bays, there was a single proprietary SSD similar to the then year old Retina MacBook Pros. It had two video cards and neither were upgradable.

Apple bet the farm on Thunderbolt 2 expandability and that professional users were be wowed by the technology of the new machine. They were wrong on both accounts. While the new Mac Pro was and is one of the most visually stunning desktops ever made and an absolute marvel of engineering, it never understood its audience and expected a glut of third party expansion options that never came. As a result, combined with to rocky transition to Final Cut X, many of the video pros to look at other options in the Windows world and even Hackintosh routes. Other than a surprise update this week, the new and improved Mac Pro never got a second chance and was basically the redheaded stepchild of Apple’s lineup.

Apple, thankfully, seemingly understands that it went down the wrong path, admitting to Daring Fireball and other invited media outlets that the second generation Mac Pro is not the machine they need. In addition to its expansion woes, it turns out the Mac Pro was basically built thermally for the hardware that it came with. Apple has had issues with newer, hotter processors and graphics chips that have made any further upgrades nearly impossible. So, the corresponding upgrade is its swan song. However, its not the end of the road for the Mac Pro name. Like with this one, Apple has essentially pre-announced that a third generation Mac Pro is being developed.

So, what will this new Mac Pro be? The short answer is we don’t. Phil Schiller used the term “modular”, but that can mean a few different things. Conservatively, it could be another tower like the previous iterations of the Mac Pro and Power Mac line. It would give professionals the expandability they were looking for and I wouldn’t blame them for going to a known quantity. However, that doesn’t quite seem like Apple. When they say modular, I am disposed to take them at their word and am intrigued to see what form that takes, especially when paired with Thunderbolt 3 technology for external storage, PCI-E expansion, or even graphics cards.

Apple isn’t only resting its pro ambitions on the Mac Pro. They also gave word of a new generation iMac that would further encroach on the pro space. While the all in one will not fit all the former Mac Pro users, Apple is correct that some could and have already gone that route. Updating with the latest CPUs and I/O will make what is an already capable lineup even more so. And for those wondering, yes Apple still has plans for the Mac Mini as well.

This little Apple Q&A is that the demise of Apple’s desktop options are greatly exaggerated. I can’t tell you if the next generation of solutions will match the questions, but we know Apple is at least trying. For a company whose aim is to change the world, not drift with it, mistakes can and will be made. It’s moving forward after those mistakes and learning form them that counts.

Source: Daring Fireball

Apple Introduces Red iPhone, New iPad, and Clip Video App

Apple Introduces Red iPhone, New iPad, and Clip Video App

There has been a rumor going round the last few days that Apple would do a soft update of some products today. That rumor turned out true, though not entirely in the same scope rumored. Instead of a massively updated iPad Pro line, Apple went a bit more mainstream with a new color to the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, a new low end iPad, and a new social media app called clips. Let’s take a look.

(PRODUCT) RED iPhone 7 & 7 Plus

Apple has had a long relationship supporting the retail initiative to support HIV/ AIDS research and care. That relationship has involved iPods, cases, headphones, and accessories is now going to the iPhone in the form of special edition (PRODUCT) RED iPhone 7s and 7 Pluses. The special edition (PRODUCT) RED version represents the 6th color choice available for the iPhone 7 series joining Silver, Gold, Rose Gold, Matte Black, and Jet Back.

The new phones will be available both online and in stores starting on March 24th starting at $749 for the 4.7” iPhone and $869 for the 5.5” iPhone 7 Plus in 128 and 256GB variants. There will not be an entry level 32GB version in (PRODUCT) RED.

Also getting a bit of love is Apple’s smallest and most affordable iPhone, the iPhone SE. While its not getting a replacement, the SE has had its storage doubled from 16 to 32GB in the entry level and from 64gb to 128gb in the next step up. Prices stay the same starting at $399 starting on March 24.

iPad

While we were expecting iPad Pro updates, Apple went in the other direction and made the 9.7” model more affordable. The new model is simply called iPad. It feature the A9 SoC from the iPhone 6 Plus and is a replacement in the lineup for the A8X powered iPad Air 2. The new iPad is lightly thicker featuring the 7.5mm thickness of the original iPad Air rather than the 6.1mm of the iPad Air 2 and 9.7” iPad Pro. That doesn’t mean the new iPad in losing any features as it still has Touch ID, 8MM rear and 1.2mp front cameras, and stereo speakers.

The iPad will ship on February 24th in Space Gray, Silver, and Gold. It will come in 32 and 128GB versions. Pricing may be the new iPad’s killer feature starting at $329, $70 less than the Air 2, for Wi-Fi and $459 for cellular. The 128GB models add $100 to both of those prices.

Clips

The Most surprising announcement was an app called Clips. Clips is Apple’s take on the multi-clip videos that have become popular on Snapchat and Instagram, only platform agnostic. What makes Clips unique is that the app can add captions and titles in realtime using only their voice. Clips of courses also features the filters and animations that have made these videos popular.

Clips will be a free download from the iOS Apple Store in April and be compatible with iPhones, iPods, and iPads using the 64-bit A7 SoC and later.

Apple allows you to share clips privately with your friends messages or post the finished product to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, or Vimeo.

Source: Apple 1, 2, 3

Apple Refreshes Retina MacBook

Last year, Apple announced the 12″ Retina MacBook ultraportable. Today, the machine got its first update. There’s a lot of things you’d expect and others that are a little surprising. Let’s take a look at what the 2016 model brings.

The 12″ is based around a 2304 x 1440 Retina display. This doesn’t change neither does the casing itself the difference is what’s inside. The Broadwell Core-M has been traded out for its updated Skylake Core M3 counterparts. The new CPUs share the same clock speed, but are a bit more powerful. According to Apple, the new Intel Integrated HD 515 graphics are a not insignificant 25% more powerful than the HD 5300 of last year. The chips are also more efficient offering an additional hour of run time now between 10 and 11 hours. The flash storage has been upgraded to a faster PCI-E standard and system memory is now 1866mhz.

For I/O, you still have two options: a 3.5mm headphones jack and a one-size fits all USB 3.1 Type-C jack. Many, including myself expected this port to be upgraded to Thunderbolt 3 with Skylake. That will presumably happen with updated MacBook Pros later this year. However, given the tasks this Core M-powered machine is expected to perform, one could argue that Type-C was good enough.

Pricing and configurations for the 2016 MacBook are the same as the 2015 models starting at $1299 for the base model. You can still order your MacBook in silver, space gray, and gold with fan favorite Rose Gold adding the fray for 2016. The MacBook’s predecessor, the MacBook Air also received a minor refresh with all 13″ models now coming standard with 8GB of memory.

Source: Apple

iPhone SE: It’s Not About Us, Its About Everyone Not Us

If you’re reading this, chances are that the iPhone SE is not for you. We’re the geeks, the power users that always want the latest and greatest. What we aren’t is the majority, no matter what we think we are, we’re a very vocal minority in Apple’s sales. You’ll hear about how boring the SE is and how Apple should have done more. On the contrary, Apple made the device they needed to. I’ll tell you why.

When moving to larger screens, Apple moved with all deliberate speed. The 5 & 5S were more about moving the iPhone to the industry standard 16:9 than actually making the iPhone screen larger. It was just longer, but that set the table for what was to come. The iPhone 5 also introduced a new metal unibody construction that was thinner and higher quality than previous iPhones. It also introduced the lightning port. The next year the 5S added 64-bit ARM A8 processing and Touch ID, another important stepping stone, and honestly the feature I appreciate most. Being able to use my thumb print instead of my passwords has made the mobile experience much more enjoyable and convenient.

The next generation iPhone 6 and 6 Plus finally ushered in the medium and large screens I had been waiting for since I laid my eyes and hands on the Samsung Note II. Having larger screens was a godsend for me. I could use it. We also saw NFC and mobile payments make their debut on iOS leading to Apple Pay. The 6S generation brought a 4k rear camera and ability to use the screen as a selfie flash.

Apple found something out along the way. While many people were happy about the color choices and features of the new phones, sone size never fit all. Despite the new phones, 30 million people continued to buy the smaller 4” iPhones. Why? Because it fit them and their uses as much as my 5.5” 6 Plus fits me. The iPhone 5S was definitely a great phone, but it was behind of the features. Apple decided it was time for an upgrade. With the iPhone SE, Apple combined the best of the iPhone 5S with the best of the 6S.

While the iPhone SE may be Apple’s least expensive phone at $399, it is not in any way, shape, or form a low end phone. In fact, its one of the most advanced devices on the market. The A9 CPU is lifted straight from the 6S as is the 12mp rear camera and secure element for Apple Pay. The front camera, screen, and Touch ID sensor are the same as on the 5S. That said, decidedly unlike the 5S it has the Retina flash feature. If you’re looking for 3D touch, its not here. But considering the price and reusing the 5/5C/5S screen, I wouldn’t have expected it.

The most surprisingly controversial design element is reusing the 5S casing for the S$, though now with the same 4 colors as the 6S. The opposition to this perplexes me. Its a smart move for the consumer. The 5/5S have a mature and complete accessories market. Other than the design crowd, who would changing an already excellent design benefit?

The big question is who is this for? Let me tell you. First, its for the person who just wants to have an iPhone. This is your mom, dad, aunt, grandparent, etc and just want an easy to use smartphone experience. The other man crowd is people who even the 4.7” iPhone 6/6S to comfortably use. Lastly, its for the Apple Pay user. Apple wants mobile payments in everyone’s hands. Whoever you are, the iPhone SE gives you the high end features of the latest iPhones in a 4” form factor. You get the full iPhone experience at any size without compromise.

With the iPhone SE, the iPhone lineup is complete. If the SE doesn’t float your boat, you have two other options. Small, medium, and large everyone now has an option.

#CES2016: Ford & Fiat-Chrysler Get on CarPlay, Android Auto Bandwagons

I’m not going to lie, the rollout of mobile car connectivity platforms Apple Carplay and Android Auto have been slower than I expected. They’ve been given a major shot in the arm for 2016 as the Ford Motor Company and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles have both announced support for both platforms as part of their in-car entertainment systems. Both automakers had been long-term holdouts to the platforms. Let’s take a look at the details starting with Ford.

Ford’s implementation of Carplay and Android Auto will be part of their new QNX-based Sync 3 ecosystem. It will come standard on the 2017 version of Sync 3 with an update to 2016 MY vehicles coming later during 2016. Ford will take full advantage of Carplay enhancements in iOS 9 with not only touch control, but the vehicle’s physical buttons able to control the Carplay interface. The platforms are joined by additions to Ford’s own AppLink platform including a AAA app and in-car LTE internet support.

Not very long after Ford’s announcement, Fiat Chrysler announced its fourth generation of its Uconnect system. The new Uconnect will feature a 8.4-inch touch screen and also have Carplay and Android Auto support. The system will be available in the company’s Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Jeep, and Ram vehicles. Unlike rival Ford, FCA did not announce an upgrade path for older vehicles. They did, however, announce a special 12.1″ version of the Uconnect for first responders. The extra large version will be available on the Dodge Charger Pursuit police package and feature a resolution of 1024×768 compared to the 640×480 resolution of the 8.4″ version.

With Ford and FCA, almost every automaker will have both Carplay and Android Auto in their 2017 model year lineups.

Source: Ford, FCA

Rumors of Apple Watch’s Demise are Far Too Premature

You’ve probably seen it spattered all over town, the Apple Watch is dying, sales are down 90%, its a flop. It’s based on data from a service called Slice, but there’s a lot more story on how these stories used that data. 99% of a story is context and those figures are way out of context.

According to data MacRumors was able to obtain from Slice, Apple sold roughly $3 million Apple Watches through July 10th. To put this in perspective, the original Pebble old 1 million watches in just over two years and there were roughly 750,000 Android Wear devices its first year on the market. This is despite the average Apple Watch having a much higher average price tag than either of these devices.

Apple’s sales were highest during the launch and have tapered off since then. I don’t doubt Slice’s data, but there are some facts that need to be considered. First off, as MacRumors point out, Slice’s data is based almost exclusively on Apple Store online sales in the US. It does not include most International Sales and it does not include In-Store sales. Sales figures are further constricted by availability. The initial launch was so taxing on the supply chain that Apple did not have enough supply to launch the Apple Watch in its own stores or expand to other countries until late June.

As of today, while you can get a Fitbit, Pebble, or Android wear device in almost any population center in the US larger than 50,000 people, you can’t buy an Apple Watch at any third party retailer. If customers can’t get their hands on a product at a retailer, quite literally with a wrist worn device, they cannot buy it. High traffic as Apple Stores are, big box retailers such as Best Buy, Wal-Mart, and Target (and their global counterparts) as well as carrier stores are a major part of a product’s sales volume. One more thing… we have no direct data from Apple on Apple Watch sales.

However there are some valid points in some arguments against the Apple Watch. In its current form with watchOS 1.0, it is very much a 1.0 product. Features don’t work as well as they should and Apple didn’t give developers the full deck to play with. Apps, in particular were run through the companion iPhone and didn’t have access to the watch’s sensors like they needed. That changes in watchOS 2 which will presumably launch before the holiday quarter. There’s more features, native apps that run on the watch, and the apps get full access to hardware. In other words, Apple’s getting the kinks out now when sales don’t matter as much as they would in late October, November, and December when you would assume the majority of Apple Watch sales would take place.

The Apple Watch is a victim of Apple’s success. People don’t remember when the iPhone 1 launched with 4 apps or when the iPod only had firewire. Even the iPad struggled its first go around and that was with a more mature version of iOS behind it. They expect a mature, fully developed product out of the gate and that creates a bias. It also creates a lot of hits when you mention Apple in a headline, especially in the negative sense.

So here are the key facts of the situation

  • Apple has sold over 3 million Apple Watches.
  • There has been a decline in those sales since launch.
  • Apple has had severe issues with availability.
  • The Apple Watch has only been in Apple’s own stores for a couple weeks.
  • Apple Watch has only appeared in additional countries the last few weeks.
  • The Apple Watch appears in no third party retailers in the US.
  • The Apple Watch is a recently released and immature platform
  • The Apple Watch software is getting a major update in the fall.
  • the Apple Watch has not seen a holiday quarter.

The most important two:

  • Slice does not include most international sales nor walk-in sales
    and
  • We have absolutely no data from Apple.

Rather than jumping to conclusions for headlines, how about we take a step back and wait until the holiday quarter numbers are out in early 2016 before we make any conclusions. Shall we?
spacer-2

Apple Releases Apple Music, iOS 8.4, and OS X 10.10 UPDATED

Updated To Provide Additional Information on, iTunes, iBooks Author, and Garageband

The day we’ve been waiting for since WWDC is here, Apple Music is here. Its brought some OS updates in tow, iOS 8.4 and OS X 10.10.4. What does the new service and updates offer, let’s take a look.

Apple Music

Apple Music is Apple’s take on Spotify or Rdio based on Beats DNA. Instead of being its own service, it’s baked into the iOS Music and OS X/ Windows iTunes Apps. The iOS app came with iOS 8.4, but an updated iTunes had yet to show its face at the time of publication. Apple Music will also be showing its face on your AppleTV and on Android devices later this fall.

Apple Music is based upon 3 main sections of content: Streaming music, Radio, and Connect. Streaming music is much like Spotify where you get unlimited streaming access to a large collection of songs. You also get offline access to Apple’s music and iCloud access to yours. This includes not only large national acts, but after also a good deal of up and coming or lesser known bands. The second area is Radio which includes a live Radio station called Beats 1 with DJs and shows. There are also much improved and curated Pandora-like Radio stations based on artists and genres. Lastly, you have Connect which, is half artist-blog and half social network. I won’t lie, I’m a bit skeptical about this part.

Apple Music is $9.99 for individuals or $14.99 for families via iCloud family. Either way, you have 3 free months on Apple’s dime to figure out if you want to pay for it. Since Apple Music is replacing its Beats counterpart, there was some question about what will happen to Beats. Beats Music will stay open for a few more months during the changeover. If you don’t have an Android device and want to move over right now, Apple Music will incorporate a user’s Beats Music playlists and settings.

Update: iTunes 12.2 for the Mac has been released. iTunes for Windows still shows version 12.1.2 with 12.2 listed as “coming soon”.

iOS 8.4 and iBooks

iOS 8.4 isn’t just about music. iBooks also received a fairly substantial update. The biggest is the ability to find and play audiobooks. For digital books, you can discover books by their series and pre-order them. Lastly, iPhones can now view iBook author-designed books. They could previously be only accessed on iPads.

There are a couple other fixes as well like fixing the unicode crash, a bug fix for Apple Watch apps reinstalling themselves, and better compatibility with GPS accessories.

Update: To help better create books that work on the iPhone, an update to iBooks author for the Mac has also been released.

OS X 10.10.4

OS X 10.10.4 can be summed up in one word: reliability. The update fixes issues with networking, migration assistant, support for external displays, and syncing photos both with iCloud and the now replaced Aperture and iPhoto. As part of the changes for networking Apple has removed the discoveryd process that was introduced in Yosemite and has been a bit of a nightmare.

Overall though, 10.10.4 is a very much a bug fix release with no real updated features.

GarageBand

GarageBand for the Mac has been updated to version 10.1 with support for sharing to Apple Music’s Connect. The Mac version also gains Force Touch trackpad Support for use on the new 12″ MacBook and 13/15″ Macbook Pros. For fans of EDM, Hip Hop, and a few other styles, there are over 100 new synth patches, 10 new drummers, and 1000 loops added to the GarageBand library. The synth patches also support TransformPad sound morphing technology almost certainly based on technology from Camel Audio which Apple bought earlier this year.

Author’s Thoughts

Apple Music looks like it’s going to be a good one. The library is huge and the radio function so far is great. Expect a full review from the Tech Hangout in the next week or two.

WWDC 2015: Everything Announced

Apple’s WWDC 2015 keynote has came in went.  It was very evolutionary in word, but that’s not a bad thing after some major changes in both OS X and iOS.  In many ways, it was very similar to Snow Leopard or Mountain Lion where they took what they had and made it better.  WWDC also marked the introduction of WatchOS as a native development platform.  This year’s WWDC was a pure developer’s conference devoid of any hardware announcements.  Apple ended the day debuting Apple Music, the subscription service born out of the Beats Acquisition.

Apple TV or the Lack Thereof

Given the shape of the invitation, I hoped for AppleTV as a development platform along with a new version of the streaming device.  It was not to be as the AppleTV got nary a mention.  Whether the device was bumped last minute as Brian X. Chen’s source said or they just didn’t put any extra effort into the device, I don’t know.  What I do know is that we’re stuck with what we have for the time being.  That’ll only change when and if Apple announces something.

OS X 10.11 El Capitan

Sorry for the bad pun, but Apple is once again climbing the mountain with OS X 10.11 El Capitan.  Its named after a monolith peak in Yosemite park.  El Capitan takes what they were doing with OS X Yosemite and brings some new features.  Some of these are borrowed from iOS while others gain inspiration from competing platforms.  El Captain has a lot of under the hood tweaks to make the OS faster.

El Capitan features a redesigned version of Mission Control that makes it easy to add apps to their own desktop by simply dragging them to the top right of the screen.  A subset of this is Split View allowing you to easily drag two apps unto the screen and let them share screen real estate.  If this seems familiar, Windows has done something since Windows 7.  However, Windows 10 added something very close to mission control, so its all fair.  In the not very flashy, but useful category, the curse will supersize when you wake up your Mac to make it easier to find.  Safari adds a really cool feature called pinned tabs and allow you easily find and mute tabbed audio.  Mail adds swipe support from iOS plus natural language support not just in Spotlight, but systemwide.  Photos now works with extensions similar to the ones on iOS.  Lastly, Notes has been given a major update to make it a little closer to One Note or Evernote.  Mostly tweaks, but useful tweaks.

Like I said, most of El Capitan is under the hood with speed gains of 1.4 to 4x depending on the process.  Nowhere is that more evident with Metal coming over from iOS to take the spot currently held by OpenGL and OpenCL.  Apple’s implementations of these have been less than ideal, so Metal is very welcome.  Metal takes out most of the overhead in found in OpenGL and OpenCL and gives a  lot more access to the GPU itself.  Hence, the name taking it down to bare metal.  It also allows the GPU to work better with the system’s CPU  This should give some hefty improvements in Mac graphics performance in both gaming and professional applications like AutoCAD or Maya.  If you’re not excited, you should be.

OS X 10.11 El Capitan will ship this fall, but a public beta will be program will launch in July.

iOS 9

iOS 9 is Siri’s big coming out party.  With proactive search and for the first time an API for third parties, Siri can do a whole lot more.  Proactive search gives it access to your past and likely search results.  if this sounds familiar, it’s a lot like what Google Now and Cortana do.  Siri will learn your preferences and give you suggestions and if you ask it to save something for later it’ll remember.  Proactive will automatically launch certain tasks like bringing up music if you plug in headphones.  It seems to be what we all hoped Siri would be a couple years back.

iOS 9 is great for mobile users with a new lower mode to keep you holding if you start to run low.  It also has tweaks to improve battery life in general.  Apple says up to an hour.  Homekit has been enhanced with support for security systems, additional sensor types, and motorized blinds.  HelathKit has some new measurements like support for reproductive health sensors and UV exposure.  There’s also general speed improvements similar to OS X.  Gaming gets three new APIs GamePlayKit, Model I/O, and ReplayKit for exporting your video to Twitch like services.  For developers, the Swift 2 programming language has been made open source

Most of the apps have modest feature gains, but Notes gets everything that its OS X cousin gained plus drawing support.  News Stand may or may not be replaced with an app called news.  Its a lot like Pulse.  It takes print articles like you’d see in a reading app and adds in video and audio support.  I have my reservations, but I’ll give it a shot.  For Android switchers, there’s a Move to iOS app to transfer your data from your Android device.  It also helps to find iOS versions of all your Android apps.

The biggest changes in iOS 9 come for the iPad which gains additional capability compared to iPhones.  The new split screen multitasking is very similar to what you’ll see in some Android and Windows Tablets.  As part of that, there’s picture in picture for video.  You no longer have to stop watching your movie or stop your Facetime call to check sometime on your iPad.  There’s also a slightly redesigned keyboard.  It hasn’t changed much visually, but there’s a two-finger drag that adds as a cursor.  There’s also improvements for physical keyboard support.

Like El-Captian, iOS 9 will ship in the fall with a public beta in July.

Apple Pay and Wallet

Since its debut last fall, Apple Pay has brought mobile NFC payments to a level not seen before in the US with 2500 different banks and nearly 1 million retail locations with many more coming this year.  Apple Pay has been compatible with Visa, MasterCard, and American express, but is also adding the fourth major U.S. credit card issuer Discover in the fall.  They’re not standing pat.  With iOS 9, Apple Pay adds proprietary store credit and debit cards to the mix.  If you have a JC Penney or Kohls card, you’ll be able to use it in the fall.  I have my fingers crossed for Target’s Red Card.  Apple Pay is also going to integrate with store loyalty programs in stores like Walgreens, Dunkin Donuts, and even Delta Airlines.  These are run through the app current known as Passbook which is being rechristened as Wallet.

Apple Pay is expanding outside the US for the first time to the UK in July.  Apple Pay will be offered by 8 of the leading British banks and in 250,000 retail locations.  For those in London town, their public transit system will allow you to pay with your iPhone.

For anyone who wants to use Apple Pay and doesn’t have a quite have the need for a full Point of Sale system, Apple announced that it was working with Square on a new wireless Square Reader that supports not only NFC payments including Apple Pay, but also traditional magnetic stripe cards and EMV chip cards.  The new reader is $49.99, but its price is refundable by transactions within the first month.  Apple (and Android) Pay will literally be almost everywhere this fall.

Car Play

CarPlay has two big, but somewhat understated improvements.  First, it gains bluetooth connectivity.  That means you can keep your phone in your pocket or wherever else you want it.  It also means you might not have to channel a lightning cable from where you dock your iPhone to your head.  For aftermarket heads, this could make installation a lot cheaper.  It also adds support for more screen sizes than it previously had.

CarPlay also has much greater integration with your car itself.  Your physical knobs can be used to control functions in CarPlay.  There’s options also options for car manufacturers to build their own apps to control car functions.  You may never have to leave CarPlay in the not too distant future.

Maps

This version of Maps might be the big update we’ve waited for.  First it finally adds support for mass transit support, albeit in a very limited number of cities.  In the North America, there are map directions for NYC, San Francisco, DC, Baltimore, Toronto, and Mexico City.  In Europe, there’s only London and Berlin.  In China, the transit is… a lot better than everywhere else.  I’m hoping there’s an easy way for mass transit agencies to add their routes (like in Google maps) so this expands rapidly.  Support in 4 cities really isn’t support.

One feature that will effect everyone is nearby.  It allows you to quickly find food, attractions, shops, and even grocery stores.  Entries for these retailers will let you know not only the information, but whether they support Apple Pay.

These features will not only show up on iOS, but on the Mac and Apple Watch as well.  There was no mentioned of a rumored iCloud version of Maps during the keynote.

WatchOS 2.0

The Apple Watch was just released and still isn’t quite available in stores due the large about of pre-orders, but there was no time like the present to talk about its future.  Watch OS 2 will bring native development to the watch which should speed things up considerably.  Developers will have access to just about everything in the Apple Watch including watch face complications, the taptic feedback engine, digital crown, the mic, heart rate sensor, accelerometer and so on.  The original version of WatchKit allowed devs to quickly create apps, the version with WatchOS 2 allows them to make something more substantial.

The changes just aren’t for developers.  There’s time-lapse watch faces of New York, Shanghai, and London that change the picture with the time.  Third-party fitness apps will now count towards your goals and Siri commands can now trigger the start of workouts.  Siri can trigger glances and write voice replys to emails.  There was some discussion about how easy the Apple Watch would be to steal and that is put to rest with an AppleID tied activation lock.  You can have multiple friends lists now and there’s color controls for the emoji.  There’s even an alarm lock mode for when its docked on your nightstand.  It also integrates the changes in Maps and Apple Pay.
WatchOS 2 will ship this fall.

Apple Music

Two years back, Apple took on Pandora with iTunes Radio.  The results have been mixed at best.  Not just because the service has a few issues, but because another service came along more consistent with what consumers wanted, Spotify.  Spotify is now a cross-platform force that many users are using to stream music because its all you can eat nature.

Apple Music may have been the real reason that Apple bought Beats, not the headphones.  Jimmy Iovine was the president of Interscope records in his past life and brings valuable knowledge and connections in the recording industry.  Beats also brought musicians into the fold with Dr. Dre and Trent Reznor.

Beats music consists of three parts.  First the subscription music service.  You can access not only songs in your account, anywhere, but the entire iTunes library of over 30 million songs.  Its not just the US, Apple Music is launching in over 100 countries.  Its basically Apple’s version of Spotify except for the free ad-supported version, but it has the ace in the hole of expertly curated playlists.

The second part is radio.  Apple has an actual radio station now.  Beats 1 has hired known DJs Zane Lowe, Ebro Darden, and Julie Adenuga to stream from LA, NYC, and London the “best” music out there 24/7.  It’ll also offer other content just like a true radio station.  In addition to Beats 1, there will be new radio stations, also expertly curated, based on genre.  This will effectively replace iTunes Radio

The last is Connect.  Its kind of a blog/ social media apparatus for artists.  It offers exclusive access and content, though I don’t see it offering much that Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram don’t already give you.  Time will tell if its a useful tool for artists or Ping 2.0.

Apple Music will launch June 30th and cost $9.99 a month for an individual subscription or $14.99 for a family.  Like iTunes Radio before it, Apple Music will live inside the Music app for iOS and the iTunes Apps for Mac and Windows.  It’ll come to AppleTV and Android in the fall.

Source: Apple
spacer-2

Thunderbolt 3 Takes of the Best of USB Type-C and Turns it up to 11

I have to admit, with the invention of USB 3.1 Type-C, I wondered where Apple and the rest of the professional PC market was going to go.  USB-C took a lot of Thunderbolt’s advantages and put them into a connector that’s not much better than a Micro-USB or Lightning connector.  Intel made a lot of the ambiguity go away with today’s announcement of Thunderbolt 3.  Its faster, more capable, and completely compatible with USB 3.1 Type-C.  Apple’s future got a lot clearer.

The Mini-DisplayPort connector used by Thunderbolt is tiny compared to even HDMI and USB Type-C makes it look like a pig.  Thunderbolt had some advantages especially with professional customers since its direct to the PCI-E bus, but for consumers, the reversible connector of USB-C, 10Gbps data, DisplayPort and HDMI over a single cable, and gives you 100w of power.  In other words it takes every great great about USB 3.1, doubles the speed, makes it smaller, and combines it with both your display cable and your power cable.  USB-C is both more capable and more flexible.  Because of this, sooner rather than later you’ll see Thunderbolt 3 replace USB Type-A ports on computers, MicroUSB ports on phones and tablets, 12v power ports, and if I were a betting man even Apple’s proprietary Lightning connector.  It makes too much sense not to.  As for Thunderbolt, it features a couple of features that USB-C does not such as a faster data rate and lower latency with its own dedicated chip and peer to peer communication.

Thunderbolt 3 uses a combination of all of the advantages above and adds PCI-E 3.0 to the mix for up to 40Mbps of data bandwidth.  That’s double Thunderbolt 2 and Quadruple that of USB 3.1.  Its fully backwards compatible with USB 3.1 Type-C devices and gives the same 100w of power for computers and up to 15w for bus powered accessories.  It doesn’t stop there.  Thunderbolt has built-in 10gig-E ethernet in addition to the existing Thunderbolt peer to peer protocols.  It has a full 8 DisplayPort lanes that can drive twin 4k displays at 60hz.  It gets even better, while external graphics solutions were toyed about unofficially with Thunderbolt 1 & 2, Thunderbolt 3 officially supports external graphics cards for giving your laptop a little more umph.  This is especially huge if you have a laptop with Intel or AMD integrated graphics.

When will you see Thunderbolt 3 laptops, I expect later this year or early 2016.  With the USB Type-C compatibility,  there isn’t a whole lot of reason not to add it to the next revision of desktops, desktop replacement laptops, and (mobile) workstations that already use Thunderbolt.  For Apple, fully expect it to show up in the next revision of their computers.  It could also make sense to move Thunderbolt more mainstream.  PC gamers will appreciate the external graphics capability and people that don’t want to use Thunderbolt just have another USB-C port on their computer.  We have seen the future.  USB-C is the future with Thunderbolt evolving to become a higher-end version of that standard.  Its a commonsense solution that combined with much improved capabilities will benefit everyone.  I, for one, am excited about the future.

Source: Intel