Review ~ Apple iPhone 7

(Image: Apple Inc)
(Image: Apple Inc)

The first thing you notice abut the iPhone 7 is that you can easily mistake it for an iPhone 6/6s. They share a form factor, hand-feel and (very similar) weights of 143 grams or 192 grams (for iPhone 6s and 6s Plus respectively) compared to the slightly svelter 7’s 138 grams/188. Other dimensions are the same: 138.3mmx67.1 by 7.1mm thick for the 6s/7, and 158.2×77.9 by 7.3mm thick for the 6s Plus and 7 Plus. Both have the same screen dimensions too: 4.7 inches diagonally, and 5.5 inches diagonally for the Plus.

So what’s new? Quite a lot. In fact, as soon as you click the Home button, your 7 will feel different, for it’s not a mechanical (press in and bounce back) button at all, but a pressure-sensitive solid disk that, thanks to ‘haptic feedback, feels as if it ’clicks’. This is typical of Apple – a solid button is less prone to breakdown and easier to keep waterproof, but engineers and designers clearly decided the feel of a click was important enough to retain somehow. So if you’re wondering what Apple was thinking, leaving off the headphone jack, it’s this little trembling motor that explains it, for this bigger ‘Taptic Engine’ overlaps the space where the jack entered the 6 and 6s body. (Yes, the iPhone 6s has a Taptic Engine too; it’s smaller and the new version is more advanced). also, the removal of the jack allowed for a slightly bigger battery.

For further under the hood, Apple has been very busy indeed. For a start, iPhone 7 is the first water resistant iPhone – not full-immersion proof, but rather shower proof. This will lengthen its life while removing some worry from yours.
The Taptic Engine gives feedback for far more than just that faux-click Home Button. In games, tap a blaster and feel its kick. Pistols can have rapid-fire pulses you can feel; strings you play in, say, GarageBand for iOS make the iPhone subtly thrum in your hand. My cheap and cheesy favourite is rolling the onscreen Timer or Alarm time-setting dial in the Clock app, which also triggers an audio ‘click’ to further enhance the feeling. But it also reacts to the 3D Touch feature introduced with iPhone 6s: the harder-press you can do for messages that arrive on the Lock screen to reply, for example, or the press-on attributes of Apps on the Home screen. Expect more apps to take these capabilities on board.

Sight — So at first sight, this might look the same as iPhone 6 and 6s, but it feels different in new and clever ways. It also looks different once you start experiencing this screen. On the 7, the screen is still 1334×750 pixels at the ‘Retina’ resolution of 326ppi (1920×1080 and 401ppi on the Plus) and both have the same contrast ratios of 1400:1 and 1300:1. ‘Retina Display’ means you can’t discern the actual pixels like you can with the naked eye – and believe me, if you never knew you could, look at an iPhone 3 screen or an early iPad. Ouch.
But it’s brighter: maximum brightness is 625cd/m2 compared to 500 cd/m2, and it shows a wider colour gamut. In use, this looks great – it’s slightly warmer, with intense tones and great detail.
Actually, while we’re talking about the way things look, some of the iPhone 7s do stand out at a glance from the 6 range: there are new colour options since there are two black models: the striking, glossy Jet Black (main picture, above) as well as a regular matte Black, joining the existing metallic silver, gold and pink.

Shootin’ match — So the screens are brighter, but the cameras are also higher resolution. The front-facing camera is 12 megapixels; same as for the 6s but the 6 was 8 megapixels. But in the 6s, only the 6s Plus has optical image stabilisation whereas both models of the 7 has it. Be warned that the camera is slightly closer to the outer edge, meaning the camera cut-outs in cases for the 6 range will impede the lens. But the camera is more complex too, with a six-element lens compared to 5, and this 28mm camera has a wider aperture, which means it captures images better in lower light (it’s f1.8 instead of 2.2).

iPhone 6 shot (at MOTAT) – click on the picture to see it in more detail
iPhone 6 shot (at MOTAT) – click on the picture to see it in more detail. This file is 2.3MB
In this complex environment, the iPhone 7 definitely takes a better picture, producing a sharper picture with better exposure processing than my older iPhone 6 (not 6s)
In this complex environment, the iPhone 7 definitely takes a superior picture, producing a sharper image with better exposure processing and less haze than my older iPhone 6 (not 6s). This file is 2.7MB

The bigger 7s has two front-facing cameras: a wide-angle and a telephoto (56mm, f/2.8). Both have digital zoom up to 10 times (the 6s only goes to 5x) but the Plus has Optical Zoom up to 2x, so rather than enlarging the pixels (yes, it looks pretty awful pretty quickly) the 7 Plus actually has moving lens elements to do the first stage of the zoom at full quality, and both models have optical image stabilisation for smoother video recording, and even smoother Live Photos (I still think this is a silly gimmick, but whatever). Also, the lesser camera above the screen, for selfies, FaceTime/Skype etc is 7 megapixels as against 5 for the 6s. And don’t worry, the 7 still uses ‘Backside Illumination’, which is not for that kind of selfie: it’s a built-in digital image sensor that increases the amount of light captured to improve low-light performance. The 7 does do better in low light.

iPhone7 does well at the challenging Black Cat Test (unretouched)
iPhone7 does well at the challenging Black Cat Test (unretouched)

Sounds good — Another thing you’ll notice is that the 7 sounds better. The on-board (internal) speakers are louder and clearer. It also acts in stereo now, if you hold the phone in landscape mode, you should be able to hear separation between the channels since it’s using the top ear-piece speaker (for phone calls) for one channel and the bottom speaker for the other, but they’re so physically close together on iPhone 7 I could barely distinguish any difference except when I created a track in Garageband and panned it hard to one side or the other – maybe it’s more noticeable on the bigger-bodied Plus, but either way, it’s still going to be way better via earbuds or headphones.
airpodscase-pf-open_airpods-pf-float_pr-printBut what about the lack of headphone jack?
You have three ways to listen to music: via a pair of Lightning-compatible headphones (a pair of Lightning EarPods are included in the box), or use a pair of 3.5mm headphones with the included adapter (I find it hard to substitute my snug-fitting Apple In Ear Speakers) or wireless headphones connecting via Bluetooth – Apple’s own version of these will be available soon (left, picture from Apple Inc).
OK, some of you may be able to hear the difference between over-wire and over-the-air audio, but I sure as hell can’t, but I never have been good at hearing what those pro audio people swear is ‘better’, even when my ears were a lot younger. If I get good bass, some definition and some overtones, I’m happy. But if you’re not like me, or at least you like to think you are not like me in this regard, you’ll prefer a physical connection for your audio.
So I’m no authority here – audio sounds fine to me via my In Ear Speakers and the jack to Lightning adapter which Apple includes in the box. In fact, audio site what Hi Fi thinks this solution actually sounds better than the jack of the 6.)


Chips — iPhone 7 has the new 64-bit A10 Fusion chip with an embedded M10 motion coprocessor compared to the 6s A9 with embedded M9 motion coprocessor. This A10 is a quad-core processor with two high-performance cores with two high efficiency cores. This makes the A10 more efficient, delivering the same perceived performance as the A9 while using less power, but able to unleash high-performance cores when pushed. This low-power ability can lead to a full two hours more battery life than the iPhone 6s, and I didn’t test that with a stopwatch but I’m definitely charging it a less than I had to with my trusty old 6.
Mind you, this surprised me – startup speeds: from off to the lock screen, my iPhone 6 took 42 seconds – the iPhone 7 only 16.
Oddly, perhaps, the handy 64GB model is definitely gone from Apple’s options – you can get the 7 in 32, 128 or the pretty massive 256GB, whereas the 6s was 32GB or 128GB.

Conclusion — In use, to be brutally honest, the 7 feels like an incremental change rather than a new model. Just as the 6s is demonstrably better than the 6, this feels like, well, a ‘6ss’. It is definitely better, but it doesn’t feel like a full model change. The rumour mill says Apple will pull out the stops with the 8 (or will it be called the 10?) Since this model, should it appear in 2017 in place of a ‘7s’ will mark the 10th anniversary of the iPhone’s introduction.
I’m not trying to sell it short – it’s a fine phone. If you were going to buy an iPhone tomorrow, you’d be mad to prioritise a 6s over a 7 unless that extra couple of  hundred is just too hard to justify.

What’s great — Water resistance; faster; expanded, more sophisticated Haptics for better feel and response. Great cameras, beautiful screen

What’s not — I could say the lack of jack, but it doesn’t bother me in the slightest. But it might bother you.

Needs — Developers to get on board with the possibilities of that Taptic Engine and Apple’s clever, more powerful A10 processor.

iPhone 7, 32GB, 128GB or 256GB only, starting at NZ$1199 for the 32GB 7, $1399 for the 128GB and $1599 for the 256GB. The 7 Plus is $1429 for the 32GB, $1629 for the 128GB and $1829 for the 256GB. (iPhone 6s starts at NZ$999; $1199 for the 6s Plus).

From — Selected telephone retailers; Apple online.

Apologies this took a while to arrive – it took me a little longer than usual to get my hands on one. 

Lots on the new MacBook Pro, LG Ultrafine monitor, Sierra combo updater, goodbye 11-inch Air, iTunes update, Sonnet 10-Gigabit, Stronghold Kingdoms

(Image from Apple Inc's MacBook Pro page)
(Image from Apple Inc’s MacBook Pro page)

A closer look at Apple’s late-2016 MacBook Pro lineup — The new trio of MacBook Pro models each feature a thin-and-light design and powerful technology that Apple hopes will spark the interest of everyone from road warriors to professionals. From the Touch Bar to Touch ID to the gigantic Force Touch trackpad, AppleInsider presents a rundown of the line’s best features.
The AMD Radeon Pro 450, 455, 460 chipsets debuting in the MacBook Pro detailed benchmarked: AMD has offered up some technical information on the three discrete chipsets debuting in the new MacBook Pro line, showing nearly double the performance on the Radeon Pro 460 over the Radeon Pro 450.
The MacBook introduced USB-C to Apple’s laptop lineup in 2015, and the just announced Retina MacBook Pro with Touch Bar gives us Thunderbolt 3, which looks exactly like USB-C. Not sure what the differences are and how they affect you? Read on to learn more. Apple had to introduce yet another dongle for it. And Apple posted Sir Jony Ive’s inside-look introductory video for the new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar.
Seven technologies died in the new MacBook Pro, including MagSafe, but there are other new things too, like the new MacBook Pro Touch Bar and Apple’s T1 authentication chip.
Software: here’s how Photoshop will work with the new MacBook Pro Touch Bar, and Microsoft announces plans to bring MacBook Pro Touch Bar support to Office suite.

The LG UltraFine 5K is the display Apple promotes for its new MacBook Pros — At today’s ‘hello, again’ event, Apple CEO Tim Cook spoke of Apple teaming with LG to offer a 27-inch 5K Retina display to go along with the new MacBook Pros. It’s the LG UltraFine 5K Display. It will set you back US$1299 and will be available in December. This suggests Apple has permanently exited the stand-alone monitor business [Apple made good monitors but they well overpriced].

Apple updates iMovie, Pages, GarageBand, Keynote, Numbers, Xcode with Touch Bar compatibility — Apple has posted new versions of iMovie, Pages, GarageBand, Keynote, Numbers and Xcode for the new MacBook Pros Touch Bar compatibility. They join Final Cut Pro X with such functionality. Apple World Today talks about these updates too.

Apple Releases Combo Updater for macOS Sierra 10.12.1 — Apple has released the combo updater for macOS Sierra 10.12.1. It’s a 1.36GB download and contains everything in the macOS Sierra 10.12.1 released on Monday. Apple is recommending 10.12.1 update for all users — if you updated through the Mac App Store already, you do not need this download.

Apple Discontinues 11-inch MacBook Air — Apple dropped the little Mac laptop from its online store on Thursday following the ‘hello, again’ event where new Retina MacBook Pro models were introduced. The 13-inch MacBook Air is still available, but now the more expensive and port-limited 12-inch MacBook is the smallest screen laptop Apple offers.

iTunes update kills bugs —  iTunes 12.x IconApple released iTunes 12.5.2 late last week. The update fixes two bugs, one dealing with album playback order, and the other an issue with lyrics showing in Beats 1.

Sonnet announces Dual-Port 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10GbE) PCI Express Adapter Cards — Sonnet Technologies has announced the Presto 10GbE SFP+ Dual-Port 10 Gigabit Ethernet PCI Express 2.0 card and the Presto 10GbE 10GBASE-T Dual-Port 10 Gigabit Ethernet PCI Express 3.0 card.

LaCie targets its new Thunderbolt 3 portfolio to new MacBook Pro users — LaCie, the premium brand from Seagate Technologies, has announced its Thunderbolt 3 portfolio of storage solutions aimed at video professionals. They’re described as “ideal companions to Apple’s new MacBook Pro.”

Stronghold Kingdoms: Heretic available for the Mac — Firefly Studios has released a free expansion for Stronghold Kingdoms — Stronghold Kingdoms: Heretic. Now available as an update for Mac, Heretic allows players to build kill streaks by crusading against the forces of evil or “go heretic” and join them. You can ally with fellow players and save medieval Europe or swear allegiance to series antagonist The Wolf and watch the world burn.

Futurology ~ Alien Megastructure, Planet 9, Mars software glitch, salt reactor, space-back, winter predictable, MacBook Pro Touch Bar, survive community, rich people

(Image from Gizmodo)
(Image from Gizmodo)

Berkely hunts Alien Megastructure — Since it was first suggested that the flickering star known as KIC 8462852 might be a Dyson Sphere, telescope-toting astronomers associated with the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) have been scouring the system for signs of aliens. Now, the most well-funded SETI program on Earth, UC Berkeley’s Breakthrough Listen, is getting in on the hunt.
~ Tabby’s Star is ‘astonishingly weird …’

Sun tilt points at Planet 9 — Planet Nine, the undiscovered planet at the edge of the solar system that was predicted by the work of Caltech’s Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown in January 2016, appears to be responsible for the unusual tilt of the Sun, according to a new study.
~ The study has eclipsed others. 

Software ruined the Mars landing — Researchers with the ExoMars mission are pointing to a potential software glitch as the cause of last week’s crash of the Schiaparelli lander. The challenge now will be to isolate and correct the error in hopes of preventing a repeat in 2020, when mission planners aim to land a much larger rover on the Red Planet.
~ Note to self: don’t dare say ‘Windows …’

Space travel is bad for your back — New research shows that astronauts who return from extended missions in space experience a significant weakening of their spinal muscles. Disturbingly, their back muscles don’t return to normal even after several weeks back on Earth.
~ At least space travel is good for the imagination. 

Molten salt reactors could also power Mars stations — NASA has had concrete plans to send people to the Red Planet since 2010—with target dates in the 2030s. But whoever gets there first, the power problem remains. Astronomer Frank Shu has a great idea that could work: a type of nuclear reactor that’s cheaper, safer, and more efficient than the ones currently in wide use.
~ My condiments to that scientist. 

Winter predictable a year in advance — Thanks to supercomputer technology granted by the UK Government in 2014, a £97 million high-performance computing facility has allowed researchers to increase the resolution of climate models and to test the retrospective skill of forecasts over a 35-year period starting from 1980… The forecasters claim that new supercomputer-powered techniques have helped them develop a system to accurately predict North Atlantic Oscillation: the climatic phenomenon which heavily impacts winters in the UK.
~ I really don’t think this is such a breakthrough. For thousands of years, the British winter has been utterly predictable as ‘very wet and incessantly miserable’. 

All the stuff you can do with the MacBook Pro’s new Touch Bar — Apple’s first big update to the product line since 2012 is thin, light, and sports a giant trackpad, but the flashiest change by far is the Touch Bar.
~ Sorry, couldn’t resist. It’s high tech, though …

Survive climate change with a good community — The variable that best explained the pattern of mortality during the Chicago heat wave was what people in my discipline call social infrastructure, and this has implications for dystopia.
~ Yeah, yeah, yeah yeah.

Rich people don’t pay attention to other people — In a small recent study, researchers from New York University found that those who considered themselves in higher classes looked at people who walked past them less than those who said they were in a lower class did.
~ Certainly explains why I have so much time for people. 

Final Cut Pro X gets big update


Apple today also introduced a significant update to its professional video editing app, Final Cut Pro X, featuring incredible new editing features for the Magnetic Timeline, support for the revolutionary Touch Bar on the new MacBook Pro and a redesigned interface with full support for wide colour workflows. The Touch Bar replaces the keyboard’s traditional function row with a brilliant, Retina-quality Multi-Touch display that dynamically adapts to Final Cut Pro X by putting intuitive, context-sensitive controls right at the user’s fingertips. Apple also released updates to Motion and Compressor.
With the new Magnetic Timeline in Final Cut Pro X, users can understand their film at a glance with customisable arrangement and colour coding of audio clips based on type or “role” — such as dialogue, music and effects. It’s simple to create and assign roles, and give each one a unique colour. And in a first for pro video software, users can simply drag to instantly rearrange the vertical layout of their timeline or highlight specific audio roles while editing.
Integration with the Touch Bar on the new MacBook Pro boosts creativity and productivity by dynamically adapting to each task and presenting intuitive controls exactly when and where users need them. While using Final Cut Pro X the Touch Bar lets users instantly switch between editing tools, adjust audio levels and tap into useful commands for trimming and playback. It will even display a colour-coded, interactive overview of the entire timeline so users can navigate their project with the touch of a finger.
A redesigned interface streamlines the layout of Final Cut Pro X to optimise screen space for MacBook Pro users, while a darker, flat look puts the focus on the content. Customisable workspaces lets users adjust window arrangements for different tasks such as organising, editing and colour grading — even across multiple monitors. Full support for wide colour workflows allows users to import, edit and deliver video in standard Rec. 601 and Rec. 709 colour spaces, or in wide gamut Rec. 2020 colour space.

Additional Features in Final Cut Pro 10.3:
• Flow transition creates invisibly smooth jump cuts;
• Remove Attributes allows users to easily delete or reuse select effects across multiple clips;
• Timecode overlay effect and generator allow users to edit with a large view of source timecode;
• Support for ProRes MXF, Panasonic V-Log and export of AVC-Intra;
• Direct video output via Thunderbolt 3 enables high-quality video monitoring on an external display with a single cable.

Motion 5.3 features a sleek new interface with support for wide colour workflows and 3D text enhancements that improve the performance and realism of 3D titles. The new Align To behaviour lets users easily connect separate objects to create advanced animations, and Touch Bar support provides easy access to a wide range of interactive tools on the new MacBook Pro.

Compressor 4.3 has a new dark look to match Final Cut Pro X and Motion. Enhancements to iTunes Store Package creation let users easily browse, verify and compress packages so they can be delivered to the iTunes Store faster and fully compliant. Wide colour support ensures end-to-end colour fidelity when delivering files in standard and wide colour spaces, and Touch Bar support simplifies common tasks like setting up batches and adding markers on the new MacBook Pro.

Pricing and Availability — Final Cut Pro 10.3 is available as a free update today for existing users, and for NZD $449.99 inc. GST for new users on the Mac App Store. Motion 5.3 and Compressor 4.3 are also available as a free update today for existing users, and for NZD $74.99 each for new users on the Mac App Store. For more information, please visit Apple’s official Final Cut Pro X site.

Apple’s official MacBook Pro announcement for NZ, with prices

Apple's official page is live now
Apple’s official page is live now

Apple’s official NZ announcement: Revolutionary Touch Bar, Breakthrough Performance in Apple’s Thinnest & Lightest Pro Design Ever — Apple today introduced the thinnest and lightest MacBook Pro ever, along with a breakthrough interface that replaces the traditional row of function keys with a brilliant, Retina®-quality Multi-Touch display called the Touch Bar. The new MacBook Pro features Apple’s brightest and most colourful Retina display yet, the security and convenience of Touch ID®, a more responsive keyboard, a larger Force Touch trackpad and an audio system with double the dynamic range. It’s also the most powerful MacBook Pro ever, featuring sixth-generation quad-core and dual-core processors, up to 2.3 times the graphics performance over the previous generation, super-fast SSDs and up to four Thunderbolt 3 ports.
The Touch Bar places controls right at the user’s fingertips and adapts when using the system or apps like Mail, Finder®, Calendar, Numbers®, GarageBand®, Final Cut Pro® X and many more, including third-party apps. For example, the Touch Bar can show Tabs and Favorites in Safari®, enable easy access to emoji in Messages, provide a simple way to edit images or scrub through videos in Photos and so much more.
“This week marks the 25th anniversary of Apple’s first notebook; through the years each generation has introduced new innovations and capabilities, and it’s fitting that this all-new generation of MacBook Pro is the biggest leap forward yet,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “With the groundbreaking new Touch Bar, the convenience of Touch ID, the best Mac display ever, powerful performance, improved audio, blazing fast storage and Thunderbolt 3 connectivity in our thinnest and lightest pro notebook yet, the new MacBook Pro is our most advanced notebook ever.”

Thinnest and Lightest MacBook Pro Ever — Building on innovations pioneered in MacBook®, the new MacBook Pro features an entirely new enclosure design and all-metal unibody construction that creates an incredibly rigid and dense notebook that is amazingly thin and light. At just 14.9 mm thin, the 13-inch MacBook Pro is 17 per cent thinner and 23 per cent less volume than the previous generation, and over 200 grams lighter at just 1.37 kilograms. The new 15-inch MacBook Pro, at just 15.5 mm thin, is 14 per cent thinner and 20 per cent less volume than before, and weighing just 1.83 kilograms, is over 200 grams lighter.

Touch ID Comes to the Mac — Integrated into the power button is the convenience and security of Touch ID, one of the great features customers have come to know and love from their iPhone® and iPad®. Once you enrol your fingerprint in Touch ID on your MacBook Pro, you can quickly unlock your Mac®, switch user accounts and make secure purchases with Apple Pay® and your eligible cards on participating websites with a single touch. Touch ID enables a quick, accurate reading of your fingerprint and uses sophisticated algorithms to recognise and match it with the secure element in the new Apple T1 chip.

Apple’s Brightest, Most Colourful Notebook Display — The best Mac display ever delivers images that are more vivid, reveal even greater detail and appear more lifelike than ever. As thin as a MacBook display at 0.88 mm, the Retina display on the new MacBook Pro at 500 nits of brightness, is an amazing 67 per cent brighter than the previous generation, features 67 per cent more contrast and is the first Mac notebook display to support wide colour. And with power-saving technologies like a larger pixel aperture, a variable refresh rate and more power-efficient LEDs, the display consumes 30 per cent less energy than before.

The Most Powerful MacBook Pro Yet — Powerful processors, cutting-edge graphics, blazing-fast SSDs, high-speed memory and an advanced thermal architecture deliver amazing pro-level performance in a dramatically thinner enclosure. Sixth-generation dual-core Core i5 with eDRAM, dual-core Core i7 with eDRAM and quad-core Core i7 Intel processors deliver pro-level processing performance while conserving energy. The new 15-inch MacBook Pro features powerful Radeon Pro discrete graphics delivering up to 2.3 times more performance than the previous generation; while the 13-inch MacBook Pro comes with Intel Iris Graphics that are up to two times faster than before. All models feature SSDs with sequential read speeds over 3GBps and Thunderbolt 3 which consolidates data transfer, charging and twice the video bandwidth in a single port — allowing users to drive a 5K display and power their MacBook Pro with a single cable.

The New MacBook Pro Also Offers:
• Much larger Force Touch trackpads — 46 per cent larger on the 13-inch MacBook Pro and twice as large on the 15-inch MacBook Pro;
• More responsive and comfortable typing on the keyboard with a second-generation butterfly mechanism;
• Louder, more true-to-life sound through speakers with double the dynamic range and improved bass;
• macOS™ Sierra, our most advanced desktop operating system, with new features like Siri® integration, Universal Clipboard, Apple Pay on the web and Photos, which helps you rediscover your meaningful memories, organise your library and perfect shots like a pro.

Pricing & Availability
• The 13-inch MacBook Pro starts at Recommended Retail Price (RRP) NZD $2499 inc. GST, features a 2.0 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.1 GHz, 8GB of memory and 256GB of flash storage, and ships today.
• The 13-inch MacBook Pro with the revolutionary Touch Bar and Touch ID starts at RRP NZD $2999, and features a 2.9 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.3 GHz, 8GB of memory and 256GB of flash storage, and is estimated to ship in two to three weeks.
• The 15-inch MacBook Pro starts at RRP NZD $3999, features the revolutionary Touch Bar and Touch ID, a 2.6 GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.5 GHz, 16GB of memory and 256GB of flash storage, and is estimated to ship in two to three weeks.
• Additional technical specifications, configure-to-order options and accessories are available online.

New MacBook Pro, new Final Cut Pro, new monitor(ish), 25th anniversary of the PowerBook

OLED arrives at Apple and it's on a MacBook, not on an iPhone
OLED arrives at Apple and it’s on a MacBook, not on an iPhone

Apple announces new MacBook Pro in 13″ and 15″ and silver or space gray — Both models have an Oled touch row above the number keys called the Touch Bar, replacing the Function keys (F-Keys). This replaces the standard system functions of instant access to brightness and volume, and it adapts to the software you’re using: in Safari, it shows buttons for the favourite sites, for instance. Once you’re there, it becomes a back, search field, tab, and more. In photos, it has an interface for straightening a photo. In other apps it presents formatting controls for Bold, colour, etc, and can also predict who you might want to add to an email message.
[This will need support from third-party apps, and Adobe is already on board with Photoshop. Affinity Designer, Pixelmator, Sketch, DaVinci Resolve and other companies are already being revised and updated for the Touch Bar, and Microsoft is building Touch Bar support into Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Skype for Business.]
You can customise every single part of the Touch Bar including system functions: in Finder, you can customise the Touch Bar so you can have a button you drag to Touch Bar in order to connect to a server. 
The 15-inch MacBook Pro was 18mm, the new one is 15.5mm – that’s 14% thinner, and 20% smaller by volume. It weighs 1.81kgs (4 US pounds), a saving of .23kgs (half a pound). The 13-inch is 23% less by volume the the previous generation, and 14.9mm instead of 18mm.
The trackpad is a force touch trackpad, twice as large as the previous generation. The keyboard is all new as well. It uses the butterfly switch mechanism from the 12-inch MacBook, using a second-generation butterfly for better feel and travel.
with the new MacBook Pro, you log in with your fingerprint, which is integrated into the power button. This is Sapphire crystal, and supported by a brand new chip, the Apple T1, with secure enclave meaning you can use it for secure purchases. [Gotta love how Apple makes it easier to buy things – yes, I am being slightly cynical.]
The screen is 67% brighter, 67% higher contrast ratio and shows 25% more colours, with wide colour gamut.The 13-inch has dual i5 or i7 intel iris graphcs with 64MB of eDRAM, with the same SSD of the 15″. The 13-inch Intel graphics is 103% faster than previous 13″ in gaming, 76% in video and 3D graphics.
Both models have four USB-C-shaped Thunderbolt 3 ports – the new MacBook Pro can be charged from any one of these, and each also handles Thunderbolt, USB, DisplayPort, HDMI or VGA.

Coming … NZ pricing, availability and the most important question of all, perhaps: what exactly is the CPU?

Apple's Store page during the announcements ...
Apple’s Store page during the announcements …


No Thunderbolt Display, but … Instead, Apple took the unprecedented step of working with another company, in this case LG, to make the LG Ultrafine 5k Display with wide colour gamut, three extra usb-c ports and cameras. It connects to Mac over a single cable and charges your Mac over that cable. You can use two of them at the same time: 35 million pixels driven by the graphics of the 15″ MacBook Pro.

New Final Cut Pro — This uses the new Touch Bar to see the entire timeline and shows where you are on the timeline. This is draggable to move through a project; tap it to jump to sections, and also you can zoom in on the Touch Bar. The Touch Bar shows the same overview of the timeline, but can be navigated without ever leaving full screen view.

This week is a huge week in the history of the Mac — This week marks the 25th anniversary of our first notebook. It was on Oct 25th of 1991 that Apple unveiled the first PowerBook. The PowerBook defined the modern notebook for its time, changing the category and changing Apple forever. This was the first portable that featured the keyboard forward design, with the pointing device integrated into the palmrest. It was also the first laptop with an active matrix display. Every generation of Mac notesbooks had innovation that pushed the industry forward. [Surprised none of us worked that out in advance of this Mac announcement!]

[All this info came from Apple Insider’s live, on-site blog.]

Campus delayed, R&D spend, iMac beats Surface, Twitter cuts


Apple pushes Campus 2 completion into 2017, possibly changing move-in plans — Construction work on Apple’s new Cupertino headquarters, Campus 2, now won’t be finished until the beginning of 2017, according to the city’s latest weekly update on the project. Street and building work was originally meant to be wrapped up in the third quarter, leaving construction nearly a month overdue. The Cupertino government also remarked that landscaping and site work, which only started in Q3, won’t be done until at least the second quarter of next year.

Apple R&D spend breaks $10B barrier in 2016 after $350M increase in Q4 — Apple spent nearly $2.6 billion on research and development operations during the fourth fiscal quarter of 2016, bringing the company’s yearly total to more than $10 billion for the first time ever, regulatory filings show.

Spec for spec, the iMac is a bargain over the Surface Studio — 
Just for fun, we compare Microsoft’s brand-new desktop PCs to similarly spec’ed iMacs released a year ago—and the iMacs are US$700 to $1000 cheaper.

Twitter cuts 9% of its workforce, Vine getting axed — In an effort to streamline operations and refocus the business, microblogging service Twitter will lay off 350 people, and will shut down the Vine video service “in the coming months.”

And now … The Mac announcements are just starting so I’ll get on to those.

French iPhone bludgeoning, IBM’s Watson, Apple Watch text size


French Apple iPhone, iMac bludgeoner given six-month suspended jail sentence, fined — The man who smashed at least 17 demo stations at the Dijon, France Apple store on September 29th had his day in court, and in addition to a six-month suspended jail sentence, he must pay Apple €17,548 for the damage – far short of the company’s own estimate. [A crime of passion?]

IBM extends Watson cognitive capabilities to MobileFirst for iOS apps — As part of a continued partnership with Apple, IBM has announced an extension of the MobileFirst for iOS program that integrates Watson cognitive computing technology to bring natural language processing, deep data analytics and more to iOS 10.

How to change text size on your Apple Watch — It’s easy to change the text size on your smartwatch. Here’s how: Open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone. Select Brightness & Text Size. Use the bottom slider to adjust text size. The farther right you move the slider, the bigger the text gets …

Exciting news for Mac owners, image leaks, India, Cook’s hints, notes from Q4


Apple CFO: there’s ‘some exciting news for current and future Mac owners very soon’ — Apple sold 4.89 million Macs during its fiscal 2016 fourth quarter that ended Sept. 24. That’s down 17% year-over-year, but things may be looking up.
Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri says that Mac installed base at the end of the September quarter was the biggest ever. And, obviously referring to Thursday’s “hello, again” media event said that there would be “some exciting news for current and future Mac owners very soon.”

MacBook Pro’s new Magic Toolbar leaked in hidden macOS Sierra 10.12.1 images — The macOS Sierra 10.12.1 update includes a hidden image depicting a brand-new MacBook Pro with an OLED touch bar at the top, allegedly dubbed a Magic Toolbar. Apple is officially expected to announce this new MacBook Pro tomorrow, NZ time, or US Pacific Time Thursday 10 am during its second autumn event. [I will not release MagBytes tonight as usual, but tomorrow so I can include the specs for the new Macs in issue 80.]

Apple makes slow pivot to India as China sales cool — Once Apple’s largest growth market, revenues from Greater China slid 30% during the fourth fiscal quarter of 2016, prompting the company to turn at least part of its focus toward prospects in India.

Tim Cook says Apple is interested in both content creation and ownership — In typically vague fashion, Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook evaded questions and offered little in the way of details during his company’s quarterly earnings conference call on Tuesday. But his comments on original content could fuel speculation that Apple plans to make more original content or perhaps acquire a high-profile content maker.

Notes of interest from Apple’s Q4 2016 conference call — Apple closed the book on its fiscal 2016 with a quarterly earnings conference call, marking the end of the first year where iPhone sales declined. However, Apple is bullish on its outlook, particularly with the newly released iPhone 7 series and a growing services business. Revenue from Apple Music, Apple Pay & other Apple services jumped 24% in Q4.

iPod 15, top tech, free MyScript Nebo, HomeKit fix, tvOS 10.0.1 Update, watchOS 3.1, Watch Power Reserve

(Image from Apple's iPod page)
(Image from Apple’s iPod page)

To iPod on its 15th birthday: thanks for revolutionizing digital music — In 2001, Apple unveiled a singular product that launched the company out of the niche PC market and started an evolution that morphed the company into the world-dominating presence we know now. That device was iPod. [There are three models still available.]

9.7-inch iPad Pro, iPhone 7, and Apple Watch Series 2 are on Best Buy’s ‘Top Tech’ list — Apple’s 9.7-inch iPad Pro, iPhone 7, and Apple Watch Series 2 are all on Best Buy’s annual Top Tech list — the 20 “must-have technology products” for the holiday season.

MyScript Nebo iPad Pro note-taking App is temporarily a free download — The iPad Pro and Apple Pencil make for a great note taking combo. MyScript Nebo lets you amp that with built-in handwriting recognition. Nebo converts what you write into editable text, lets you add formatting, turns your drawings into editable graphics, exports to Microsoft Word or any app that supports text editing and more. You can currently get it free instead of the usual US$8.99 but this is temporary, so grab your copy now [if you have an iPad and an Apple Pencil; not sure if it works with other styli but for free, you can give it a try, right?]

Apple fixes Two-Factor Authentication setup bug — HomeKit in iOS 10 requires Two-Factor authentication if you plan to remotely control or monitor your smarthome devices. That isn’t a big deal, unless you’re one of the unlucky few who were blocked from switchting to Apple’s more secure password authentication system. The good news is that Apple finally fixed the issue, so HomeKit can be more that your in-home personal assistant again.

tvOS 10.0.1 Update improves security, skips Single Sign-on — When Apple released macOS Sierra 10.12.1 and iOS 10.1 on Monday it also slipped out tvOS 10.0.1. The update is available for the fourth generation Apple TV, and offers security and bug fixes, but doesn’t give us iOS 10’s promised single sign-on feature.

watchOS 3.1 has Charging Fix, Message Effects improvements, more — Apple has released watchOS 3.1, an update with a mix of improvements and bug fixes. On the improve side if the ability to replay bubble and full-screen effects in Messages. On the bug-fix side, a charging issue for Apple Watch Series 2 was fixed, and more.

How to use Power Reserve on your Apple Watch — Although the Apple Watch Series 2 offers better battery life than the first generation smartwatch, sometimes you may still find yourself running out of juice. In that case, you’ll want to switch to Power Reserve mode.

macOS Sierra to 10.12.1, Apple financials, Civ VI

Civ VI is here
Civ VI is here

Apple updates macOS Sierra to 10.12.1 — Apple has released macOS Sierra 10.12.1. It can be downloaded from the Software Update function in the Mac App Store. According to Apple, macOS Sierra 10.1.2:
Adds an automatic smart album in Photos for Depth Effect images taken on iPhone 7 Plus;
Improves the compatibility of Microsoft Office when using iCloud Desktop and Documents;
Fixes an issue that may prevent Mail from updating when using a Microsoft Exchange account ;
Fixes an issue that caused text to sometimes paste incorrectly when using Universal Clipboard ;
Improves reliability of Auto Unlock with Apple Watch;
Improves security and stability in Safari.

AAPL Q4 2016 Earnings Report Coverage this afternoon — Apple’s fourth fiscal quarter earnings conference call is scheduled to start after the market closes this afternoon, Tuesday, October 25th. The Mac Observer will be here to bring you the latest news, announcements, and analysis from the event. Apple offered guidance for revenues between US$45.5 billion and $47.5 billion, with gross margin between 37.5% and 38%. Today’s results will include initial sales of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, along with Apple Watch Series 2.

Long-awaited Sid Meier title Civilization VI arrives on macOS — Just three days after launching for Windows, the latest installment of the long-running Civilization strategy series, Civilization VI has come to macOS after three years development. Developed by Firaxis and ported to macOS by Aspyr, this changes the formula of the game somewhat, placing more emphasis on the terrain around a city which can be developed into districts. Other new features include research on the game’s technology tree based on nearby terrain, a tree for cultural improvements, better government civics structure, and new artificial intelligence mechanics.
Minimum requirements for the game are OS X 10.11 El Capitan or macOS 10.12 Sierra, a quad-core i5 processor running at 2.7 GHz or faster, 6 gigabytes of RAM, and 15 gigabytes of storage space. Minimum GPU requirements are a Radeon HD 6790, GeForce 775M, or Iris Pro. The game does not support Metal at this time.
Civilization VI is available now on Steam for NZ$99.95/US$60 – a single purchase allows play on macOS and Windows. (A Deluxe Edition will set you back NZ$129.95!) The title will arrive on the Mac App Store shortly.

Tuesday Talk ~ Radio, radio

radioWhat’s the point of music radio any more? I have very ingrained radio habits. I listen to NZ National from 7am till about 1, to catch up on what’s going on in the world from the country’s best journalists, then I switch to Auckland’s BFM, which I prefer for the music, some of the Wired journalistic-style features and, let’s face it, the consistently funniest ads you’ll ever hear. My only gripe with BFM is that some of the DJs think I want to hear them discourse at length about whatever takes their fancy. They’re wrong.

But I was listening to BFM the other day when I realised the DJ was actually playing tracks from Apple Music. I’m not saying I could figure this out due to some kind of extremely fine-tuned musical perception combined with my long time close association with all things Apple, because no – I knew because he said so!
Now, in iTunes, you can listen to radio without even using Apple Music. Open iTunes, make sure you’re on Music, and along the top centre, you’ll see Library (your music), For You (Apple Music), Browse, Radio and Store. Yes, it’s called Radio.
There’s plenty there, and it’s well worth a look, but the difference between that and Apple Music is that Music has you pay a subscription but then it curates to your tastes, even making suggestions to encourage music discovery, which is really cool (Spotify and the like does the same thing).
Which brings me back to BFM. I listen to BFM because about half the music they play, at least, is music I like, and it’s been my primary source of music discovery since the 1980s. With Apple Music, I would get a more tailored experience, discover new music, no ads at all (even though BFM’s are very witty), and no annoying DJs who wrongly assume I will be dazzled by their brilliance about everyday life when all I want them to do is put another track on.

So, radio, it might be time to reinvent yourself and ask once again ‘what do listeners actually want?’