Apple has published a Q&A page as a follow-up to Tim Cook’s open letter, resisting a court order requiring the company to assist FBI to unlock the iPhone of dead terrorist in the San Bernardino incident. In it Apple is asking the government to withdraw its demands under the All Writs Act and said Congress should “form a commission or other panel of experts on intelligence, technology, and civil liberties to discuss the implications for law enforcement, national security, privacy, and personal freedoms.” Apple vs the FBI. Whose side are you on?
Bloomberg has published a nice profiling of Johnny Srouji, senior vice president of hardware technologies at Apple. Srouji is the chief ‘chipmaker’ at Apple, responsible for the Ax series CPU used in iOS devices. The whole piece is an interesting read in the history of why Apple decides to build its own chip, Srouji’s background, and includes tidbits on the delay of the iPad Pro.
It is rare to have Apple’s top management being interviewed in a podcast. In the latest episode of The Talk Show by John Gruber, we have not one but two Apple heads in the podcast. It appears that Eddy Cue and Craig Federighi were in the podcast to promote the upcoming iOS 9.3 and tvOS 9.2 features. John Gruber however was able to get their opinions on the recent Internet rants about the perceived low quality of Apple software, and the plan for iTunes on the desktop. It might not worth a listen if you’re expecting something new or revealing in the podcast.
Bill Gates did an interview few days ago with BBC Radio 4’s Kirsty Young on the programme Desert Island Discs. He was asked to choose eight pieces of music, a book and a luxury item to take with him to a desert island. Mr Gates revealed detail about his life, including his relationship with Steve Jobs.
“Steve really is a singular person in the history of personal computing in terms of what he built at Apple. For some periods, we were completely allies working together – I wrote software for the original Apple II. Sometimes he would be very tough on you, sometimes he’d be very encouraging. He got really great work out of people.
“In the early years, the intensity had always been about the project, and so then [when] Steve got sick, it was far more mellow in terms of talking about our lives and our kids. Steve was an incredible genius, and I was more of an engineer than he was. But anyway, it was fun. It was more of a friendship that was reflective, although tragically then he couldn’t overcome the cancer and died.”
One of Bill Gates’ pick is the song Two of Us by The Beatles: “Steve [Jobs] was really into music and he loved the Beatles and so did I. And he actually mentioned the song, Two of Us, saying that was kind of like this journey we’d been on where we’d been competing and working together.”
Apple has determined that, in very rare cases, the two prong Apple AC wall plug adapters designed for use in Continental Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Korea, Argentina and Brazil may break and create a risk of electrical shock if touched. These wall plug adapters shipped from 2003 to 2015 with Mac and certain iOS devices, and were also included in the Apple World Travel Adapter Kit.
For years, Apple has been positioning itself as privacy-conscious compared to its competitors. It is no surprised that they have a privacy site (http://www.apple.com/privacy/) dedicated to explain the company’s commitment to protect your privacy and how your data is used. The site has been around for a while, but has recently been updated to cater for new features in iOS 9 and iPhone 6s.
“We use only the necessary data to help create the best experience for you, whether you’re using Maps to locate a restaurant or Apple Music to discover a new artist,” Apple says on the privacy site. “And we never sell your data. We know that the more personal your device becomes, the more critical it is to respect the data that’s on it.”
One key message that has been reiterated by Tim Cook during his media interviews and on the open letter fronting the privacy website: Apple does not need to use your data to make money like others such as Google and Facebook.
Check out Apple’s privacy site. Its full of details on how Apple design privacy into its devices and OSs, tips on how you can manage your privacy, and how Apple responds to information requests from governments.
Apple’s “Hey Siri” media event was packed with many announcements, and expectedly a number of details were not revealed at the event. Here are more information on Apple TV 4 you’ll want to know to get a better picture of what to expect.
The fourth-generation Apple TV is 50% taller (35mm vs 23mm) and 50% heavier (425g vs 272g) than previous model. It has A8 processor (vs A5 in 3rd gen) and 2G of memory. This spec is higher than iPhone 6/6 Plus which is using the same A8 processor but with 1G of memory. The beefier memory is much needed for improved caching and to support demanding games.
Apple TV 4 does not support 4k video. The HDMI port is version 1.4 and is not the 4k friendly HDMI 2.0. The service-and-support only micro-USB port is now replaced with USB-C. The optical audio port is dropped. This undoubtedly will make some users unhappy when they’re connecting their Apple TV via an AV amplifier that has no HDMI support. You will be fine if you connect Apple TV directly to the HDTV or via an AV amplifier that has HDMI input. Apple TV 4 will now support Dolby Digital 7.1 in addition to Dolby Digital 5.1. Great news for those with a 7.1 home theatre setup at home.
Wi-Fi in the new Apple TV is 802.11a/b/g/n/ac with MIMO. The wireless speed with proper setup could be faster than the wired 10Mb/100Mb Ethernet port. You may still want to use Ethernet for greater network latency and Ethernet is a more reliable connection in general. Apple could easily upgraded the network to gigabyte Ethernet at negligible cost. It is astonishing Apple could release a new networking hardware in 2015 with a technology that is older than 10 years. All hints point to a future revision of Apple TV with only wireless networking.
Curiously Apple TV 4 is using Bluetooth 4.0 instead of the latest Bluetooth 4.2. iPad Pro, iPhone 6s / 6s Plus and even the 6th gen iPod touch released this summer are all sporting Bluetooth 4.2. The latest Bluetooth 4.2 has better throughput and is more efficient. You’d expect Apple to support Bluetooth 4.2 for a device that is well suited to become a HomeKit hub. There is zero sign of anything “HomeKit” in the media event.
Apple is dubbing the new black remote “Siri Remote”. Siri integration is touted as the headline feature for you to use voice commands and for search. Unfortunately Siri in Apple TV will be initially limited to five languages in eight countries: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Spain, United Kingdom and United States. There is no specific if or when Siri on Apple TV will arrive for other countries.
Siri Remote has build-in accelerometer and gyroscope for playing game like a Nintendo Wii remote. To prevent gamers from throwing the remote at their HDTV screens, Apple is selling a wrist strap called Remote Loop that resembled the one Nintendo released for Wii controller years ago. There is no information on the maximum number of remote/controller that you can used during a game session. And there is no pricing yet for buying just the Siri Remote.
Beside using the Siri Remote for games, Apple TV also supports third parties MFi certified game controllers such as the Nimbus Steelseries Controller that is prominently promoted on Apple site.
Updated: Apple has stated in its App Programming Guide for tvOS that while you can use third party game controller with Apple TV, all games made for Apple TV must support the Siri Remote. This will reduce the number of games available during launch period as time is required to add Siri Remote support into existing games. Complex console type games will also be limited as most of them are designed to play with a dedicated game controller.
As for TV subscription plan, it remains a rumour for now. Judging from the accuracy of recent Apple rumours, it is safe bet that we will see a TV subscription plan from Apple materialise towards the end of the year or early next year.
Apple’s “Hey Siri, give us a hint” September 2015 media event is choke-full of new and updated Apple products. If you missed the livestream, view the edited version that give you all you need to know about what Apple revealed at the event. Save time by watching just the highlights rather than the full stream or reading liveblogs of the event. The Engadget covers the highlights a little over nine minutes, while The Verge’s version is just eight minutes long.
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