Benjamin develops app for iOS and writes about Apple news, product reviews and more on 9to5Mac and his personal blog. Follow Benjamin on Twitter to keep up with his latest projects. You can also email him directly.
2015 isn’t over yet but the rumor mill is now churning for Apple’s 2016 product pipeline. According to a somewhat-sketchy report from Economic Daily News, the MacBook Air will be getting a major upgrade in mid 2016. The new design will be thinner and lighter with substantial internet component changes, as per the report. In terms of rough timeframe, the product could be announced at WWDC 2016, around June. The MacBook Air has not seen a significant hardware change since 2010, so a major update is certainly due.
The fate of the MacBook Air has been in question for some time, with the early 2015 Retina MacBook seemingly taking center stage in Apple’s thin and light laptop range, albeit priced slightly higher than the respective Air. Perhaps most interestingly in the Economic Daily News story is that Apple is considering a ’13 inch and 15 inch MacBook Air’ bringing the Air into the 15 inch screen size form factor for the first time.
The idea of a smart home is a long running meme in technological circles. Apple has made the biggest stride recently with HomeKit and there is now a significant ecosystem of lights, switches, and other accessories to buy for your home. That being said, smart home accessories are still novelties and quite pricey: they aren’t must-have purchases. However, this makes them great gifts for the holiday season — uncommon presents that are fun to play with and have some long-lasting usefulness. We’ve rounded up our favorite HomeKit accessories below …
Intrepid iOS developer/hacker Hamza Sood is back, this time with a cool hack to bring 3D Touch to the iPad Pro. By hooking relevant parts of the iOS system code via a jailbreak, detailed here on GitHub, iOS turns pressure data from Apple Pencil into pressure data for 3D Touch interactions. This is neat for two reasons: iPad Pro does not normally support 3D Touch (a feature currently exclusive to iPhone 6s) and its an unorthdox use for the Apple Pencil sensors, which is generally focused on drawing and sketching. You can see the video of the hack in action after the break …
The iPad Pro accessories, Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard, may be in short supply worldwide but that doesn’t stop iFixit from tearing them down. The Apple Pencil teardown demonstrated some clever internal component miniaturization and the Smart Keyboard has similar tricks. Most notably, the teardown shows Apple’s “conductive fabric material” that runs down the length of the accessory. Rather than trailing wire or a ribbon cable inside the keyboard, Apple is using special fabric that can send power and data in both directions. iFixit believes this has durability benefits too, claiming it should be less likely to break than normal wiring would over the course of the product’s lifetime.
In fact, in general, the Smart Keyboard is praised for its durability here. The entire product is encased in a rich fabric for water and stain resistance leaving no visible holes; iFixit literally had to cut their way inside the keyboard. Inside, there are a lot of protective layers to keep the components in place. The less good news is that iFixit scored the Smart Keyboard a 0/10 for repairability as any attempt to get to the internals involves damaging the device permanently.
Apple’s new official dock for Apple Watch, the Apple Watch Magnetic Charging Dock, is now available to buy in Apple Stores and online. This particular image is from the Berlin store in Germany. In the US, the first-party Apple Watch dock costs $79. The Apple store website says the product will be available in US retail for in-store pickup starting this Friday, the 20th November.
As indicated by the leaked photos from last night, the dock allows the watch to either lay flat or sit upright in Nightstand mode thanks to the magnetic attachment. The charger itself is integrated into the unit, so you will still have the charger that comes bundled with the Apple Watch available as a spare if you buy the dock. The dock also comes with a 2 metre Lightning cable, longer than typical Lightning cables Apple provides.
A reader got their hands on one and has already compiled a full hands on video with Apple’s new dock which you can see after the break …
Apple has emailed developers about the recent damaged apps bug affecting a sizeable proportion of the OS X user base with some getting repeated errors on app launch. Whilst a reboot should be enough to invalidate and reload the certificate cache for most people, there are some weird edge cases. Apple says that a permanent fix for the caching issue will be included in a future OS X software update.
The email is effectively Apple apologising to developers for the store platform problems, which caused many customers to understandably, but incorrectly, point blame at the app developers, not Apple.
As expected, Apple Pay is now available in Canada. You can use use eligible American Express bank cards to make mobile payments at a whole host of retailers that support the NFC technology across Canada. Apple Pay retailer mobile payments works with iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus. Some had suggested that Apple may need to push out an iOS software update but iOS 9.2 remains in beta — this all works from within the Wallet setup on iOS 9.1.
For the UK, Apple has also brought Tesco Bank and TSB onboard … expanding Apple Pay to even more people in the country.
According to the iPhone in Canada blog, American Express representatives have confirmed that eligible American Express bank cards will be able to use Apple Pay from tomorrow in the country, Tuesday November 17th. Apple announced on its last earnings call that American Express would lead the expansion of Apple Pay beyond the UK and US, with Canada and Australia coming by end of year and Spain, Singapore and Hong Kong to be added in 2016.
Apple has acknowledged the recent terrorism attacks in Paris with a commemorative ribbon on the Apple France homepage, www.apple.com/fr. The black ribbon is a sign of remembrance and mourning; Google has also added the symbol to its homepage in response to the attacks.
In addition, Apple has been contacting affected employees in French Apple retail stores to check they are safe.
Apple has launched a holiday gift guide microsite today, featuring Apple products and accessories targeted at a wide variety of audiences. The list is separated into six main sections: Gaming, Photography, Music, Fitness, Learning and Travel. Naturally, Apple prominently features its own devices in the recommendations (iPhones, iPads, Apple TV, Beats headphones) alongside third-party accessories and suggested apps.
For example, in the Photography category of its gift guide, Apple lists the brand new iPhone 6s as the ‘world’s most popular camera’ alongside silicon cases, the olloClip Active Lens telephoto mount, a Gorillapod tripod as well as apps like Instagram, VSCO and Darkroom. Also, check our own gift guide for photography here.
The Mac App Store noticeably experienced some problems last night / early this morning with downloaded apps. Upon opening affected apps, the system would say that the app is ‘damaged’ and cannot be opened, just like the examples from Graham. It certainly seems scary at first glance.
The error message recommends reinstalling your apps individually. While this will fix the problem, it’s a pain to do and isn’t necessary at all: your apps are fine, but the error message makes the situation sound far worse than it is. To simply fix the problem, just reboot your Mac, running OS X Yosemite or El Capitan, and the problem will ‘magically’ go away.
The more interesting question is, why did this happen at all?
The iPhone podcast app Castro has a lot more competition in the market nowadays since I first reviewed it back in 2013. Arguably, Castro is still the most visually appealing of the current crowd and the developers are currently working on the next major version of the app, Castro 2. In the meantime, the developers have released Castro 1.5 with some new features and a new pricing model. Following Overcast’s lead, Castro is now completely free for all to download. The company is moving to a patronage model.
You can now get the alternative web browser Firefox for iPhone and iPad in the App Store. Except its not really Firefox as you know it on the desktop, because the underlying engine is all WebKit, not Mozilla’s Gecko renderer like it is on the Mac. This is the same as the iOS Google Chrome app — the App Store rules require browsers to use the Safari WebKit engine. This isn’t really a bad thing, the WebKit rendering core is the industry leading mobile (and desktop) engine.
You might want to use Firefox for iPhone and iPad if you use Firefox on the Mac, due to UI similarities for the browser chrome or just for syncing convenience. The Firefox app will sync bookmarks, open tabs across all your devices by logging into your Firefox account. These are the main differences between Firefox and the native Safari app.
According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, Apple is actively in talks to launch a new person-to-person mobile payments service, like Apple Pay but for sending money between friends and family. Apple is in discussions with US banks to negotiate terms for the new service, which could launch next year. The publication says it is unclear if any deals have been struck to date and technical implementation details remain in flux.
Essentially, imagine AirDrop for mobile payments between people. This would essentially pit Apple Pay against other friend-to-friend payment solutions like PayPal’s Venmo, Facebook Messenger payments and similar services. Even Gmail offers person-to-person transactions right from the email client.
The iPad Pro went on sale at Apple this morning (after a few retailers jumped the gun)and now the reviews are out from a wide variety of tech publications. The iPad Pro features a large 12.9 inch Retina Display, a powerful A9X processor, quad-speaker layout and more. The Pro starts from $799 and maxes out at $1079 for the 128 GB WiFi + Cellular model. However, the most interesting features are arguably the accessories, like the Apple Pencil stylus and Smart Keyboard, which run an additional $99 and $169. The accessories are almost more important than the iPad hardware itself in making this a true PC replacement and — ultimately — a compelling purchase.
We’ve rounded up the iPad Pro reviews from various publications after the break …