About the Author

Benjamin Mayo

@bzamayo

Follow Benjamin on Twitter to keep up with his latest projects. Benjamin blogs about Apple news and rumors, and posts insightful product and app reviews. Read his work on 9to5Mac and his personal blog.

Benjamin Mayo also creates apps for iOS as a professional indie developer and contractor; more details here. Email to discuss making your iOS project.

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Benjamin Mayo's Favorite Gear

July 19

Apple is facing a new security threat, thanks to developments in the spyware/surveillance tool sold by the Israeli firm NSO Group. Via the Financial Times, the Pegasus phone software now not only harvests data from the user’s onboard storage, but also all communications with the connected cloud.

The vulnerability purportedly affects the iPhone and Apple’s iCloud as well as Google Android phones, and even third-party apps installed on the phone that communicate over “encrypted and secure” connections.

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July 17

An article from the Information today covers a breakdown of the lengths that factory workers have gone to get parts of unreleased iPhones out into the black market, and Apple’s countermeasures to tackle the issue and maintain high levels of product secrecy.

Most interestingly, the report says that Apple is actually reducing the number of staff it has assigned to catching leaks of factory parts and is instead focusing on cracking down on the leaking of CAD drawings and schematics, just like the schematics that we’ve seen this year showing the iPhone 11’s design.

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A Digitimes report this morning claims that Apple is working with supply chain partners to ready a time-of-flight 3D sensing camera system for the rear camera. This feature would debut in the 2020 iPhone revision.

A time-of-flight VCSEL is similar to the infrared TrueDepth camera system found in iPhones today on the front of the device, which enables Face ID. Adding such a 3D-sensing system to the back camera would enable higher-fidelity 3D photo captures, potentially opening up new augmented reality opportunities.

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July 16

Apple plans to use some of its spare cash to fund original podcasts for its platforms, according to a Bloomberg report. The news comes as the podcast game heats up with competitors like Spotify investing hundreds of millions of dollars in original content projects.

Up to now, Apple has participated in the podcast ecosystem by hosting the de-facto canonical directory of shows, which most third-party apps rely on to find new shows. The directory was free to join and did not require an Apple business relationship.

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July 15

The Retina MacBook Air was refreshed last week with a new price and the addition of a True Tone display. The refresh was minor, with the same CPUs as 2018, but a $100 cheaper price point: the 2019 MacBook Air starts at $1099 from Apple, with $999 student pricing.

It turns out that one downside to this latest revision is that the laptop actually features slower solid state storage than the 2018 model.

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July 12

Powerbeats Pro now available to order in Spain, Japan, Sweden, and more countries

Apple has opened the floodgates for a lot more regions to order the Powerbeats Pro truly wireless earphones. The Powerbeats Pro can now be ordered from the Apple Store in Japan, Spain, Sweden, and several more countries around the world.

According to Bloomberg, Amazon is working on a new addition to the Amazon Echo smart speaker lineup to more directly compete against Apple’s HomePod and Sonos speakers in terms of sound quality.

The new model is purportedly set to release “by next year” and current prototypes feature at least four internal tweeters. The HomePod cylinder contains seven beam-forming tweeters. The current Echo lineup will also “receive minor updates this fall”, according to the publication.

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The newly-announced $1299 MacBook Pro adds Touch ID, Touch Bar, and the latest 8th-gen Intel CPUs. At first glance, the CPU may seem a bit paltry given its 1.4 GHz base clock spec.

However, it turns out that this machine is probably faster than you’d think and compares quite favorably given its entry-level price point in the MacBook Pro lineup.

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July 11

The Eve app for HomeKit has today been updated with a new dark theme option (available to iOS 12 users only), in addition with a few new scheduling features for the HomeKit-compatible Eve Aqua.

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Representing a significant milestone, some Apple iPhones manufactured in India are now being exported to countries in Europe for sale, via The Economic Times.

Initially, Apple set up iPhone manufacturing in India to avoid import taxes and allow the company to be more price-competitive in the Indian smartphone market, which is seen as a potential growth opportunity over the next few years.

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Apple has disabled the Walkie-Talkie service on Apple Watch this morning, due to an unknown exploit that could have allowed a stranger to eavesdrop the Apple Watch microphone without consent.

Apple told TechCrunch it just became aware of the issue. The company says they do not believe any unscrupulous actor took advantage of the vulnerability.

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July 10

Apple has today filed for five new iPad model identifiers with the Eurasian Economic Commission.

These devices are registered as running iPadOS 13, which means Apple is intending to release the products in the fall alongside the final versions of iPadOS software.

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Vertical desk stands for the iPhone have risen in popularity since the introduction of Face ID, allowing the owner to unlock the phone without taking it off the stand — the Face ID camera is pointed at just the right angle.

The HiRise Wireless approaches the classic formula with great materials and a sleek design, plus a small twist: the Qi charging pad is not fixed in place. It can be popped out and taken with you. It’s a small thing — but it really ramps up the product’s flexibility and functionality compared to the status quo.

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UK NHS to provide health advice through Amazon Alexa

The UK National Health Service is partnering with Amazon Alexa to bring official government health advice to smart speakers like the Amazon Echo.

Apple launches developer accelerator program in Shanghai, China

Apple has opened another center for app development and design, this time in Shanghai — and its first in China.

Apple runs these offices in specific areas to stimulate the ‘app economy’. Participants can take classes in various parts of the app development process, including one-on-one tutorials, for free.

July 9

In addition to launching refreshes to the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro, Apple has lowered the cost of higher-end Mac solid state storage options, cutting the price in half for many of the configurations.

For example, the 4 TB SSD of the 512 GB 15-inch MacBook Pro used to cost $2800. It now costs $1,400. These savings are seen across the iMac, iMac Pro, Mac mini, and MacBook Air line.

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Apple has launched its 2019 Back to School deals with its typical promotion. The company will give students a free pair of Beats headphones when they buy an eligible Apple device.

For the first time, the promo includes the high-end Beats Studio 3 over-ear headphones, when buying an iMac or Mac notebook.

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Apple has upgraded the entry-level $1299 MacBook Pro. The laptop now features the latest 8th-generation quad-core processors, and adds the Touch Bar for the first time. This means it also adds a Touch ID biometric sensor and the Apple T2 Security chip. The 13-inch Retina display now supports True Tone.

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Apple today updated the MacBook Air with True Tone adaptive screen technology a lower price point. The Air now starts at $1099 (with $999 student pricing) down $100 from its $1199 retail price when it launched late last year.

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The rumors around the redesigned 16-inch MacBook Pro continue to flow in. A report today via Economic Daily News suggests that the new laptop will enter mass production in the fourth quarter.

The previously-rumored 10.2-inch iPad is also apparently on the way with mass production starting later this month, set to replace the 2018 iPad.

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