Futurology ~ 10 more Earths, Mars-sized mystery, visit Uranus, Bright Nights, human Genome rethink, long bog sword, ancient prosthetic toe


Lovely, lopsided Uranus …”

10 more planets humans may be able to ruin — Researchers from NASA’s Kepler space telescope team announced we might get to bring our garbage party to another planet — OK, a bunch of them.  The Kepler team has apparently identified 219 new planet candidates, 10 of which are roughly Earth-size and within their star’s habitable zone, the orbit zone around a star that could support liquid water and possibly life. This latest update to the Kepler catalogue brings the total number of planet candidates identified by the space-based telescope to 4034.
~ Well gosh, that’s heartening. Maybe they should have Keplered them to themselves? 

Mystery Mars-sized planet — It’s been about 11 years since Pluto was demoted to dwarf planet status, leaving a 2370km-sized void in our hearts. Since then, the hunt for Planet X – aptly renamed Planet 9 – has grown into an international movement to find such an object in the Kuiper Belt beyond Neptune’s orbit. Now, scientists Kat Volk and Renu Malhotra from the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory are upping the ante: they suggest a completely different, tenth planetary-mass object is hiding somewhere in the Kuiper Belt as well.
~ Sigh. Or, you know, they’re just making suff up. It’s pretty dark out there. 

Uranus is the loneliest thing in the solar system — It hasn’t had contact with anyone in over 30 years, since NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft whizzed by it on 24th January 1986. Thankfully, some good folks at NASA and elsewhere are advocating for missions to Uranus and its Ice Giant companion, Neptune, which could take place at some point in the next few decades.
~ If only I could think of a pun. 

Satellites solve ‘bright nights’ — When Roman philosophers such as Pliny the Elder witnessed moonless nights glow bright like the day, it made an impression. Others since then have been awestruck by these ‘bright nights’ too.
Scientists from York University in Toronto have since observed what they call “enhanced airglow events” where elements in the night sky release photons. They know what’s causing airglow in their satellite data. But now they think they have figured out what enhances the glow, which may have caused the brighter nights documented throughout history.
~ Let me guess: was it light?

Study forces scientists to rethink human genome — As genetic sequencing has gotten cheaper and computerised data analysis has gotten better, more and more researchers have turned to what are known as genome-wide association studies in hopes of sussing out which individual genes are associated with particular disorders. If you have a whole lot of people with a disease, you should be able to tell what genetic traits those people have in common that might be responsible. This thinking has resulted in an entire catalogue of hundreds of research studies that has shed light on the genetic origins of diseases such as type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, Crohn’s disease and prostate cancer, while helping fuel the rise of personalised medicine.
But now, a group of Stanford University geneticists writing in the journal Cell posit that such large studies are actually likely to produce genetic variants with little bearing on the disease in question — essentially false positives that confuse the results.
~ ‘False positives’ really is cruel irony. 

Stunning medieval longsword discovered in Polish bog — Late last month, an excavator operator was working at a peat bog in the Polish municipality of Mircze when he accidentally stumbled upon a glorious specimen of 14th century craftsmanship. The remarkably well-preserved longsword is a unique find for the area, and its discovery has prompted an archaeological expedition hoping to find more artefacts in the (location undisclosed) bog.
~ For the love of peat!

Study sheds new light on incredible 3000-year-old prosthetic toe — It’s called the Greville Chester Great Toe, and it’s one of the earliest prosthetic devices known to scientists. The Iron Age prosthetic was discovered by archaeologists 17 years ago in a plundered tomb that was carved into an older burial chamber known as Sheikh ´Abd el-Qurna, an acropolis just west of Luxor, Egypt. A team of researchers from the University of Basel and the University of Zurich are currently reexamining the device, and the archaeological site itself, using state-of-the-art techniques — and they’re learning some extraordinary new things about it.
~ Come on, if they could make a massive pyramid, a toe doesn’t seem that much of a stretch. 

The Apocalypticon ~ CIA snack-scam, Russian demands, cyber attacks, future-blind, Afghan camo, sexless Rubbermen, fighting Stalkerware


A crew of CIA contractors crafted a scheme to steal thousands of dollars worth of snacks from the agency’s snack machines. And they pulled it off – and then they got fired, of course.
This was no petty heist – the contractors apparently made off with over $US3000 of vending machine treats in a period stretching from the spring of 2012 to the autumn of 2013.
~ Diabolical! Wow, that really puts the Russians in their place, right? Now I really feel safe. OK, maybe not …

Western technology companies, including Cisco, IBM and SAP, are acceding to demands by Moscow for access to closely guarded product security secrets, at a time when Russia has been accused of a growing number of cyber attacks on the West, a Reuters investigation has found. Russian authorities are asking Western tech companies to allow them to review source code for security products such as firewalls, anti-virus applications and software containing encryption before permitting the products to be imported and sold in the country. The requests, which have increased since 2014, are ostensibly done to ensure foreign spy agencies have not hidden any “backdoors” that would allow them to burrow into Russian systems. But those inspections also provide the Russians an opportunity to find vulnerabilities in the products’ source code – instructions that control the basic operations of computer equipment – current and former US officials and security experts said. IBM, Cisco and Germany’s SAP, Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co and McAfee have also allowed Russia to conduct source code reviews of their products.

President Barack Obama reportedly approved the use of cyberweapons targeting sensitive Russian computer systems following the Kremlin-directed cyberattacks that upended the Democratic Party last summer, according to a new report from the Washington Post – one of the most comprehensive so far to describe the administration’s response to Kremlin cyber-aggression.

Unwillingness to foresee the future … Back in 2006, when the iPhone was a mere rumour, Palm CEO Ed Colligan was asked if he was worried: “We’ve learned and struggled for a few years here figuring out how to make a decent phone,” he said. “PC guys are not going to just figure this out. They’re not going to just walk in.” He was asked ‘what if Steve Jobs’ company did bring an iPod phone to market?’ Well, it would probably use WiFi technology and could be distributed through the Apple stores and not the carriers like Verizon or Cingular, Colligan theorised.
The point being, if you don’t understand a company’s goals, how can you know what their strategies and tactics will be?

The US government wasted millions of dollars dressing the Afghan Army in proprietary camouflage: the price tag for the never-ending, but occasionally paused, war in Afghanistan is well north of a trillion dollars by now. Nearly $US100 million ($132 million) of that is attributable to America’s generous decision to buy uniforms for the struggling Afghan National Army — and a newly released inspector general report says that as much as $US28 million ($37 million) of that cost was tacked on to pay for a proprietary camouflage pattern (above) that Afghanistan’s then-minister of defence thought looked cool.
~ I actually think it would be pretty effective … if they were fighting in Minecraft. 

After nearly four years, David Lewandowski has created a new entry in his highly successful rubbermen videos. Now they’re hungry. In 2011, Lewandowski scored a hit with a short video titled Going to the Store, in which one impossibly flexible, sexless computerised humanoid traipsed through real world footage. Now there is an army.

As if there aren’t enough tech security threats to worry about, you also need to be on your guard against so-called ‘stalkerware’ — those invasive types of programs installed by suspicious spouses, jealous exes or controlling parents without your knowledge. Here are the warning signs to look out for, and what you can do about them.

Five Tip Friday ~ Safari in macOS


1/ How to clear your Safari browsing history in macOS Sierra — You can remove all records that macOS Sierra’s Safari keeps of where you’ve browsed during a period of time you want. If your Mac and your other devices have Safari turned on to sync in iCloud preferences, your browsing history is removed from all of those devices.
Clearing your browsing history in Safari doesn’t clear any browsing histories kept independently by websites you visited. Choose History > Clear History, click the pop-up menu, then choose how far back you want your browsing history cleared.
When you clear your history, Safari removes all the data it saves as a result of your browsing, including the history of webpages you visited, the back and forward list for open webpages, Top Sites that aren’t marked as permanent, your frequently visited site list, recent searches, and more. You will need to log into services like Facebook again … so make sure you really want to remove all this data before you clear your Safari history.

2/ Bookmark folders — If you’re using Safari’s Favorites Bar (which can be revealed by choosing View > Show Favorites Bar from the program’s menus at the top), there are a few neat things you can do with folders full of bookmarks (Bookmarks menu, Add Bookmarks Folder). You can tell what bookmarks in the Favourites Bar are folders because of those tiny downward-caret-arrow things to the right of each one (above). Apple calls these Disclosure Triangles because clicking them always reveals things. If you click on one, you’ll note the Open in New Tabs option.
Choose that, and obviously the bookmarks within that folder will open in their own tabs, which is a fast way to launch a whole bunch of sites at once. If, however, you hold down the Option key on your keyboard before you click there, Open in New Tabs switches to Replace Tabs. This means any tabs you had in your existing Safari window will vanish and be replaced by the ones in the folder you chose. Neat!

3/ For an even faster way to do either of those things — Use the Command key or the Option key. If you hold down Command and click on any toolbar bookmarks folder, it’ll open the sites within in new tabs; hold down Option and click one, and Safari will replace your existing tabs like we just discussed.

4/ Set your folders to automatically replace existing ones with just a click — To configure that, right- or Control-click on the folder and pick Automatically Replace Tabs from the contextual menu.
That will add a little square next to the folder in your toolbar, which will mean a single click will replace all of your existing tabs with the ones in that folder. (Be careful about doing that accidentally. If that happens, there are ways to recover your lost tabs.)

5/ Some of this functionality is available from the bookmarks sidebar if you prefer that view — For example, you can right- or Control-click on folders from there to pick Open in New Tabs. Holding down the Option key will switch that to Replace Tabs, as it does in the toolbar. [These last four tips came from The Mac Observer, which has more pictures.] 

Sharing memories, Apps cleanup, LGBTQ donations, Storm Radar, GPU sale, uphill battle in India


Apple explains how to customize and share Photos Memories in new tutorials — Expanding its How to Shoot on iPhone 7 tutorial series, Apple has posted a pair of videos explaining how to customise and share Memories clips generated by the Photos app in iOS 10.

Apple cleaning hundreds of thousands of titles from App Store in Review Guidelines crackdown — As part of an extensive housecleaning operation, Apple has over the past year removed hundreds of thousands of clones, 32-bit titles, spamware and other software from the App Store ahead of this fall’s iOS 11 launch.

Apple donating some proceeds from Apple Watch Pride band to LGBTQ groups — Some of the money generated from the Pride Edition nylon band for the Apple Watch is going towards LBGTQ advocacy groups in the US and abroad, Apple quietly announced this week.
As a company Apple has long backed LGBT rights, for instance being one of the first major US businesses to extend benefits to same-sex couples. Current CEO Tim Cook is gay, and has not only marched in the San Francisco Pride Parade but spoken out on related political issues.
Recently, an Apple statement condemned US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal of some transgender rights. [As NZ Labour’s David Parker says, ‘How does giving someone rights take them away from anyone else?’]

A first look at The Weather Channel’s new Storm Radar app — If you’re a weather fanatic, you’re probably familiar with the products of The Weather Company. The company is owned by IBM, and its products include The Weather Channel and Weather Underground. The company has just announced another free iPhone app called Storm Radar, and AppleWorld Today takes a first look at it.

Outgoing Apple iPhone GPU designer Imagination seeks sale of entire company to parties unknown — Just over two months after Apple told it that it would no longer be using Imagination Technologies GPU offerings, the company is seeking to sell itself off, either in chunks or as a larger whole.

Apple facing uphill battle in India from Samsung mindshare, factory expansion — Other than just battling the Indian government for concessions and dealing with the shaky financial situation of the populace, Apple is also fighting a large and aggressive Samsung presence in the subcontinent for the minds of the consumers.

2017 27″ 5K iMac, games sale, Rest Time, 2-factor macOS authentication, Air 2 for education, Music cut, Taiwan Apple Store


Apple’s 2017 27″ 5K iMac impresses with truly powerful desktop-class graphics — Daniel Eran Dilger writes that Apple has radically overhauled its iMac lineup for 2017, giving its 27-inch Retina 5K models dedicated graphics driven by AMD Radeon Pro 570, 575, and 580 GPUs; a brighter display with enhanced P3 wide color; more powerful Intel Kaby Lake CPUs; upgradable RAM sockets and modern, ultrafast USB C and Thunderbolt 3 connectivity.

Steam Summer Sale now on — In welcome news for a wet NZ winter, the 2017 Steam Summer Sale has just kicked off. While known for PC games, Steam sells a growing number of Mac games, so there should be some great deals to be had over the next few days. The sale is on now until July 5th with discounts up to 85% on hundreds of games.

Rest Time 1.0 is a new macOS break reminder — Publicspace has launched Rest Time for macOS. It’s a break reminder written completely in Swift and uses Apple’s latest platform technologies.

How to implement Apple’s two-factor authentication in macOS Sierra — Two-factor authentication is an extra layer of security for your Apple ID designed to ensure that you’re the only person who can access your account, even if someone knows your password. Here are the steps to take to enable it on macOS Sierra.

A bold move for Apple would be a ‘MacBook Air 2 for Education’ — There is no doubt that Apple’s arsenal when it comes to education is not yet fully formed. Back when the MacBook Air was a Thing, too expensive for secondary education, Apple got the idea that the less expensive iPad, the computer of the future, should be up to bat. It didn’t really pan out, so John Martellaro thinks it would be a brilliant move if Apple did something dramatic in education and launched a MacBook Air 2.

Apple wants record companies to accept a smaller Apple Music cut — Apple wants record companies to accept a smaller cut from Apple Music streaming revenues, according to a Bloomberg report.

First Taiwan Apple store to open on July 1 — Apple on Wednesday officially announced a grand opening date for its first retail outlet in Taiwan, noting the Apple Taipei 101 outlet will open its doors to customers on Saturday, July 1.

Memories ad, safer driving, iOS verification failures, 40 more for Apple Pay


Apple shows off Memories feature in new iPhone 7 The Archives ad and tutorial video — Apple has continued the ‘practically magic’ advertising campaign for the iPhone 7 on Tuesday with a new ad spot called The Archives which emphasises the Memories feature in Photos.

Inside iOS 11: Apple’s ‘Do Not Disturb While Driving’ keeps you safe on the road — Beginning this fall, iOS 11 will debut a new safety feature for Apple’s iPhone called Do Not Disturb While Driving.  AppleInsider corralled a co-pilot to test it out, and here’s how it works.

If you’re seeing an iOS Verification Failed Error, you’re not alone — Some iPhone users have been plagued lately by seeing an iOS Verification Failed message when trying to login on iCloud.com. Apple has acknowledged the error and has talked with several people on this.

Forty more institutions join the Apple Pay train — Another 40 institutions have joined Apple’s list of participating partners since the last refresh. You can find the complete list here.
The mobile payment service works with many of the major credit and debit cards from the top banks.On the Apple Pay page, Apple says that “we’re working with more banks to support Apple Pay” and that “if you don’t see your bank below, check back soon. [New Zealand still only has ANZ, though.]

No to memory business, Hitman, Cook up and down, leaks, new features for Outlook, low auction, iBooks


Apple has been ignoring iBooks …

Toshiba selects winning bidder for chip business, rules out Apple/Dell/Foxconn consortium — Toshiba has chosen a consortium formed by Bain Capital, Mitsubishi, and Japanese government investors as the preferred bidder for its memory chip business, effectively locking out a Foxconn-led consortium including the likes of Apple and Dell.

Hitman arrives on Apple’s macOS, first episode free to download — Feral Interactive has shipped Hitman for macOS, complete with all installments of the episodic assassination-based game playable on Mac for the first time. The launch is accompanied by the release of a demo from developer IO Interactive, providing access to one episode from the series for free. [Expect your brain to be challenged, as it’s a stealth game.]

Apple CEO Tim Cook drops from 8th to 53rd in Glassdoor rankings — Apple’s Tim Cook has slipped from 8th to 53rd place in Glassdoor’s annual CEO rankings for large US businesses, based on anonymous reviews left by the company’s workers. This still gives him a 93% approval rating in the poll, Glassdoor said. In 2016 Cook managed 96%, helping to elevate him from 10th place in 2015, and 18th in 2013 and 2014. It’s not clear what led to Cook’s fall, although simply being in the top 100 puts him well above the 67% average CEO rating for companies on Glassdoor.

Why Apple employees leak company secrets — “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power,” said Abraham Lincoln
Percolating throughout the internet is a very interesting article at The Outline on how Apple hunts down employees who leak corporate secrets Leaked recording: inside Apple’s global war on leakers. It’s all to easy to point out how ironic this leaked recording is, but John Martellero thinks it’s actually a good thing that the leak occurred and the article was written.

Kensington has entered the burgeoning Thunderbolt 3 dock market — It has security options and a mounting kit setting it apart from the others. The Kensington SD5000T has a front-mounted USB 3.0 type-A port, and a USB 3.1 Gen 1 type-C port on the front. On the rear is a fairly standard array of ports with another USB type-A port, the two Thunderbolt 3 ports, Gigabit Ethernet, audio in and out, and a full-size DisplayPort. It costs $349.99 and is available from Amazon[In NZ this will cost $519.95 and should be available from the usual suppliers and apple Resellers.]

Outlook 2016 for Mac gets 4 highly requested new features — Good news for Outlook users: Microsoft this week announced that it is adding several of its customers’ “most requested features” to Outlook 2016 for Mac. The new features, which are rolling out now to various preview and release versions of the app, address four key areas.

Latest Apple-1 auction fetches surprisingly low $355,500 — At a June 15 Christie’s auction, a customised Apple-1 sold for $355,500, skewing toward the low end of house estimates, and below all other auctions for working Apple-1 computers. [This continues a trend, though.]

Let’s see some love for iBooks, iBooks Author — iBooks is a free ebook app that allows you to read publications purchased at the iBook Store. iBooks Author lets you create iBooks textbooks (as well as other types of books) for the iPad and Mac. But the app and the service have been languishing [hear hear!]

Fast refresh, less stealing, war on leakers, Back to the Future iPad, Siri will translate, Little room-filler


The 10.5-Inch iPad Pro’s 120Hz Refresh Rate Matters — Jeff Butts talks about the difference between refresh rate and FPS (frames per second) “because I have a feeling many folks are wondering. The new 10.5-inch iPad Pro boasts a 120Hz refresh rate, but what does that really mean in real-world terms? It’s clear that at least one writer covering the tech industry doesn’t quite grok the difference.” Basically, the frames refresh 120 times per second, even when your content only moves at 60FPS.

Apple product security team briefing shows 99% drop in stolen iPhone cases from 2014 to 2016 — A new report sheds some light on Apple’s anti-leak department, with employees for the Global Security Team coming from the NSA, FBI, Secret Service, and US military supervising an operation that deals with more people per day in the production lines in China than the TSA does in airports. Apple is seeming engaged with a ‘global war on leakers‘.

Back to the Future fan makes Apple’s iPad, Xcode centerpiece of custom DeLorean modification — Utilising several third-party solutions, a Back to the Future film fanatic has built a custom DeLorean door and trunk controller in a dash-mounted iPad that can also provide speed information, as well as nearly all of the features an Apple CarPlay solution would.

Siri will translate for you in Apple’s iOS 11 — Beginning this northern Autumn (our Spring) with iOS 11, Apple’s voice-driven personal assistant, Siri, will gain the ability to translate to multiple foreign languages. Here’s a peek at how it will work.

Little room-filler — The Pioneer Rayz Rally is an external wired iPhone speaker, powered through the device’s Lightning port, and it’s suitable for both small areas and conference rooms. Pioneer claims the device “automatically knows what mode” it is in: on a call or for general audio playback, and will optimise the audio accordingly. It’s US$99 on Amazon.

iMac ‘Touch Bar, Cook wants schools coding, Irish tax review, Kensington Dock, app bundle


How to add a Touch Bar to your iMac — Apple’s revamped iMac didn’t come with the option of a Magic Keyboard with Touch Bar as I anticipated. However, you can add one thanks to the Duet Display app.
The app is actually two apps: one for your Mac and one for your iOS device – it allows you to use your iPhone or iPad as an extra display with a ‘virtual’ Touch Bar with your iMac. [Duet is great for lots of reasons, and really useful.]

Apple’s Tim Cook asked President Trump for coding requirement at US schools — At a Monday technology summit with US ‘President’ Donald Trump, Apple CEO Tim Cook reportedly suggested making programming a mandatory subject in the country’s schools.

Judicial review of Apple’s Irish data center plans could finish this Friday — The Irish High Court could make its decision on a review of Apple’s plans for an Athenry data center as soon as this Friday, according to a report.

Kensington ships SD5000T Thunderbolt 3 Docking Station — Kensington has announced the general availability of its US$349.99 SD5000T Thunderbolt 3 Docking Station for macOS. It provides a bridge allowing more mobile and thinner devices access to a suite of gadgets on the user’s desk. [The standout feature of this one is it fits to the back of VESA-compatible monitors for zero footprint. We have yet to discover it will be available in New Zealand, but the Belkin Thunderbolt 3 Dock is and I hope to review this soon – here it costs NZ$579.99.]

Another Mac App bundle — The full bundle is 15 apps, and you can get all of them if you beat the average price (US$13.01/cNZ$18 as of this writing). Pay less than the average—even a penny—and you get two of the apps. Beat the leader’s price at any point and you’ll be entered into the a giveaway. Check it out! [I’ve really gone off these – I’ve bought them before for one or two apps I want at bargain prices, which is definitely monetarily worthwhile, but eventually I end up having to delete all the other apps as they just take up space and I forget what they even do … if you have, say, a MacBook Air, do you have room for this?]

Tuesday Talk ~ What is Apple up to? A lot!


(Speculative image from TechFrag)

Apple sure has been busy lately! While everyone knew (and hoped) Apple was up to things, the gap between the 2016 and the 2017 WWDC seemed to yawn cavernously on, with any glimmers of hope generated by eager commentators and aficionados while Apple remained monolithically silent. We all hoped Apple was crazy-busy behind the scenes, but there was little evidence to support that, thanks to the usual layers of secrecy, until the very welcome blockbuster announcements.
The hardware announcements appealed to almost everybody, but of course, WWDC is a developer conference. For the San José hordes to leave smiling, they needed more than a raft of new hardware to aspire to.
But Apple’s messages have been mixed. On the one hand, Apple more than halved affiliate fees people can earn by directing their readers to Apple services, which just seems rude and uncaring considering how stinkingly-wealthy Apple is, while on the other there have been moves to both broaden and tighten the so-called ‘Apple ecosystem’. In this model, every device you have is by Apple, and Apple tech and services connects them all up. Coders code  on Apple devices and in Apple environments, and users can’t really get into the hardware and software of those devices, unlike the more accessible Microsoft and Android platforms.

Some of these moves are very welcome. For example, Apple will soon let the people who make podcasts learn what podcast listeners actually like – and what they ignore. A coming version of Apple’s Podcasts, which is by far the most popular podcast app, will provide basic analytics to podcast creators, giving them the ability to see when podcast listeners play individual episodes, and more importantly what part of individual episodes they listen to, which parts they skip over, and when they bail out of an episode.
This has been an annoyingly opaque world for far too long: launch your podcast into the ether and your only real feedback is how many people downloaded it, and the minimal user-feedback on iTunes.
iBooks is even worse – the authoring app dates back to 2012 and the awful truth only really dawns on you when you publish a book: sales are tiny because nobody really uses the iBooks platform (which is flat-out marvellous) and Apple seemingly cannot be bothered to put any effort into it or to properly promote it.
But the podcasts initiative is a sign of hope.

However, Apple is now clearly busy on several fronts. Self-driving machine learning is at the core of Apple’s car ambitions. We know this because Tim Cook said so. You know, in public. Business Chat will appear in iOS 11, which will work across Apple’ iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch, but not the Mac (at first, anyway). Apple customers will be able to start a conversation with a business from Safari, Maps, Spotlight, and Siri. Once again, inside that Apple ecosystem, all will be sweet – it’s just that some find this a constriction whereas most users find it a pure boon.
Tim Cook has also announced a wide range of software and hardware changes that will finally bring VR to macOS, and that’s pretty surprising because Tim Cook himself had been on record as giving “exactly zero damns about VR“. Which I think is a good thing because it shows he’s flexible to new realities, right?

For some, of course, it has all been too much, even from the 2016 announcements. Because when you think about it, a lot of the top announcements at the last WWDC hardly went anywhere. How many people with 3D Touch-capable devices actually use it? Not many, in my experience, which is a shame as it’s remarkably useful. The same can’t be said for Stickers in Messages. I had a look once, and can’t be bothered with it. Like most people. This was froth, unlike most of the core tech and fundamentals of this year’s initiatives. It’s hard to use, and worse, virtually pointless.
Even Siri was practically useless to me until I discovered it’s superb function as a maths problem solver. I’m so bad at maths it takes me ages even to frame the question properly in a calculator or spreadsheet. Then if I’m lucky I might get close to the answer. Being able to just ask Siri a maths problem framed as a normal question is unbelievably satisfying and efficient.

All round, I think this year’s WWDC showed a much greater commitment to the core of what makes people Apple fans. And I’m really happy about that. 

iPad Pro feature parity, ProMotion, Apple/Ikea app


Apple’s 2017 12.9″ iPad Pro gains feature parity with its smaller sibling — Staggered launches of the first generation of iPad Pro tablets left the larger 12.9-inch model in an awkward position, lacking key professional-grade features like always-on Hey Siri and a colour-balancing True Tone display. Apple has rectified that with its 2017 12.9-inch iPad Pro, bringing it up to speed with the smaller 10.5-inch version with a simultaneous release.

Apple’s 120Hz ProMotion iPad Pro display hints at even better AR and VR support in future devices — Apple has a long history of introducing groundbreaking technology in one device, only to gradually carry it over to the rest of its product lineup in the ensuing years. With that in mind, the newly released iPad Pro with 120Hz ProMotion display could hint at the future of Apple’s portable devices – particularly as the company pushes into augmented reality and virtual reality …

Apple, Ikea teaming up for an augmented reality app — Apple and Ikea have announced an augmented reality app that allows users to try out how furniture will look in the home before buying.
In an interview with Di Digital, Inter Ikea’s Leader of Digital Transformation Michael Valdsgaard says of Apple: “It will become the biggest AR-platform in the world overnight. It’s super interesting to us.”

Clues in High Sierra code, Cook to meet again, European encryption, Amazon overtakes Sonos, fix Message sync


Apple widening NVMe flash storage support in High Sierra possibly good news for Mac Pro, iMac Pro — The discovery that Apple has intentionally removed restrictions on NVMe in the High Sierra beta suggests that future Macs won’t be limited in which mass-storage flash drives may be used, possibly including both the ‘modular’ Mac Pro and the iMac Pro.

AMD Vega 56 and Vega 64 GPUs destined for iMac Pro detailed in Linux driver — The GPUs that will be in the iMac Pro – the Vega 56 and Vega 64 – have been detailed by an AMD-provided driver update for Linux, with the cards able to utilise much as twice as a much data in each register as previous cards when 32 bits of precision aren’t needed.

Apple CEO Tim Cook meeting with President Trump to talk trimming government waste — More than a dozen tech CEOs, including Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook, will meet with US President Donald Trump and his staff on Monday, discussing ways that the government can trim costs and improve security with the help of American corporations.

European Union seeks to ban backdoors for encrypted communications — A European Parliament committee has published a draft report proposing that the ability for citizens to protect their data with encryption should be protected, including banning any possibility of government sanctioned backdoors to encryption protocols that could be used by law enforcement officials.

Amazon over takes Sonos in the intelligent home speaker market — Strategy Analytics latest Global Wi-Fi Speaker Forecast 2014-2022 reports that global shipments of Wi-Fi based wireless speakers grew by 62% in 2016 to 14 million units with Amazon accounting for 77% of the increase in volume demand from the previous year. The company estimates that Amazon shipped over five million Echo speakers in 2016 compared to just over four million from second placed Sonos.

How to fix things when Message won’t sync between your Mac and iPhone — If you notice  Messages won’t sync between your Mac and an iPhone:
Open “Settings” on the iPhone (or iPad) and tap “Messages.”
Scroll down and tap on “Receive At” which is usually followed by a phone number or email address.
Tap the “Use your Apple ID for iMessage” button at the top and sign in.
Exit out of Settings.
On your Mac, double-check the Apple ID used in Messages for Mac to make sure it’s the same as the Message setup on your iPhone (or iPad). (From Apple World Today.)

iPad Pro faster than MacBook Pro, iPad and K12 education, Nest and HomeKit


New iPad Pro models can outperform MacBook Pro — Two new iPad Pro models as well as new MacBooks were introduced at WWDC. The Mac Observer has done benchmarks to compare the 12.9-inch iPad Pro in terms of Apple Pencil performance, but new benchmarks have surfaced that show both new iPad Pro models can outperform certain MacBook Pro models when it comes to CPU and GPU performance.

What if the modern iPad really isn’t right for K-12 education? Apple started out with the idea that the iPad is the PC of the future and should be the student’s first exposure to computers. But is it working?

Report claims Nest open to HomeKit compatibility, new info suggests move not imminent — A new report claims Google’s smart thermostat and smart home hardware vendor Nest is considering a move to support HomeKit – but few hard details are available and new information suggests that compatibility isn’t coming any time soon.