Maccast 2016.11.06 - Show #591
V Opening
V Opening Music
* Music is Say Anything by Manda and the Marbles
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V News
V Reactions to new Macbook Pros
V Ming-Chi Kuo says they are seeing slow demand due to high pricing and specs that are not appealing to core Mac users
* He called the reactions "tepid"
* Also cites the other larger complaints we're hearing from the Internet. Switch to USB-C (dongles), no SD card slot, and lack of 32GB RAM options.
* Kuo expects Apple to lower pricing of MacBook Pro with Touch Bar models in the second half of next year
* There also may be a refresh of the CPUs in the second half of 2017 allowing for a 32GB model, if Intel can keep their "Canonlake" processors on schedule.
* Despite what Kuo thinks, Apple's Phil Schiller said the company has received more online orders for the new MacBook Pro so far than any previous-generation MacBook Pro.
V Many are feeling like the machine is a bunch of compromises forced on Apple by their reliance on Intel
V Intel changed the processor strategy and also slipped in the release schedule for Kaby Lake. It's another "tick" cycle instead of a rock, and also the quad-core versions are not available.
* Uses a 14nm process just like Skylake
* Also while great a 4K video playback, then Kaby Lake processors that are available now don't offer Intel's better "Iris" GPUs that Apple prefers over the IntelHD graphics
* The quad-core Kaby Lakes will have Iris, but won't be out until next year.
* The dual-core processors only have 12 PCI-e lanes which is why on the 13-inch models with four Thunderbolt 3 ports the two on the right-hand side have "reduced bandwidth".
* For low power consumption the Skylake processors only support LPDDR3 memory which is what limits the max RAM to 16GB
V Still some evidence exists that most users would never be able to use more than 16GB
* Johnathan Zdziarski did some testing on his 16GB MacBook Pro and found it hard too red line the RAM
* He opened and used about 30 "pro" and other apps simultaneously and only got up to 14.5GB of RAM in use and before things started paging
V These were significant apps, like VMWare with two virtual machines running
* Photoshop CC with 4 x 36MP multi-layer photos (over 1GB each)
* A 22 page Adobe In-Design document
* X-Code with four production Objective-C projects
* Word, PowerPoint, multiple browsers, PDFs, etc. You get the point.
* Yes, he did not run Final Cut with multiple 4 or 5K video projects, but who does that on a MacBook Pro (some, yes, but not many)
* And that's the point. All the brouhaha over the RAM is likely not necessary.
V The 13-inch base model has Geekbench scores around the same with scores about the same as the 2015 early MacBook Pro
* Single-core ~3700 and multi-core ~7200
* The new one has a 2.0GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor and the old one a 2.7GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor
* The newer Skylake processor is more energy efficient
* But the price difference is USD $500.00 and you don't even get a touch bar yet.
* Yes it does have 2 x Thunderbolt 3 ports and is thinner, smaller, and lighter.
* Also these are raw benchmarks and not "real world" numbers. The new models have super fast SSDs and RAM.
V The SSDs Apple use are expected to be some of the fastest on the market
* Computerworld had tested the 2015 13-inch MacBook Pro which had 1.4Gbps for writes and more than 1.3Gbps for reads.
* The new machine claims read/write speeds of 3.1Gbps and 2.1Gbps per second, respectively.
* 100% faster than the previous generation MacBook Pro SSDs
* They SSDs are all removable, but still have a custom form factor and pin configuration.
V Some existing Thunderbolt 3 devices may be incompatible
* A company called "Plugable" discovered some of their graphics adapters did not seem to be incompatible with Apple's new MacBook Pro.
* The issue appears to be the Texas Instruments controller chip.
* They claim that devices using the first generation TI USB-C chipset (TPS65982) will not work with devices using Intel’s Thunderbolt 3 chipset (Alpine Ridge).
* Apple is requiring the 2nd generation TPS65983 chipset for peripherals to be compatible.
* The loss of the start-up chime was a thing, but turns out it's just disabled. A simple terminal command can bring it back.
V Apple drops dongle prices, for now
* In what seems to be a move to help new MacBook Pro owners ease into the new USB-C connector Apple dropped the prices on all it's USB-C adapters
* USB-C to USB Adapter is now just USD $9.00
* The USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter, was USD $49, is now just $29.00
* The new Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 Adapter also has a USD $20 price drop to USD $29.00
* USB-C to Lightning Cable (1m) was dropped from USD $25.00 to $19.00 and the 2m cable went from USD $35.00 to $29.00.
V If you already purchased an adapter at the higher price, Apple has been emailing customers and issuing them credits.
* Didn't get an email, contact Apple Store support.
V Apple also is giving special pricing on the new 4K and 5K UltraFine displays they partnered on developing with LG
* The LG UltraFine 5K Display is a 27-inch display with support for P3 wide color gamut and a resolution of 5,120 x 2880. It is $1,299.95, but you can pick it up now for USD $974
* The 4K version is 21.5 inches at 4,096 x 2304 and also has P3 color. It is priced at USD $699, but for now is $524.00.
V Other features:
* 5K has 3 USB 3.1 ports, a mic and camera built in and delivers 85W of power.
* 4K has the USB ports, but they only support up to USB 2. It provides up to 60W of charging power.
* The 4K monitor is available now with shipping times at 5-6 weeks. The 5K monitor will be available in December.
V Apple's tablet market share is up
* IDC's latest numbers on the worldwide tablet market is out and it's a mix of good and bad for Apple
* The tablet market did decline almost 15 percent year over year, but is up almost 10 percent from last quarter
* Apple retained it's position as the top tablet seller with 21 percent of the market
* And while Apple saw it's iPad shipments fall 6.2 percent year over year it's revenues remained largely flat thanks to selling higher priced models like the iPad Pro
* Still IDC noted that the iPad Air and iPad mini were more popular than the iPad Pro.
V Rumors of 10th Anniversary iPhone
* Next year will mark the 10th Anniversary of the release of the original iPhone and many are expecting a big big update for next years iPhone
* The rumors have ready been that Apple plans to switch back to an all glass design
* It's also believed it may be the first OLED iPhone
* Rumors that Foxconn is testing wireless charging hardware came from Nikkei. They say they are working to get yield rates to satisfactory levels
* The report also says the feature could be limited to only the 5.5-inch model.
* We have heard reports of Apple researching longer range wireless charging
V The idea of wireless charging is interesting since Apple's removal of the headphone port, especially if Apple gets rid of the Lightning connector.
* World require wireless charging that can match the speeds of wires, which might not be possible.
V In the third quarter Apple captured 103.6 percent of total smartphone industry profits according to BMO Capital Markets
* The reason is the majority of vendors lost money.
* This is the first time Apple has had more than 100 percent of industry profits. typically they split the percentage with Samsung.
* That didn't happen this quarter due to the costly recall of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7
* Apple came in second to Samsung in terms of smartphones sold. With Samsung getting 21.7 percent of the market to Apple's 13.2 percent.
V Ming-Chi Kuo says don't expect an iPhone SE refresh this Spring
* He thinks Apple will keep the existing model in the line up to keep margins high and to not eat into iPhone 7 sales
* He also thinks Apple will put more pressure on suppliers in deals to keep margins high has iPhone demand continues to decline
V Price cut for Apple Music
* Digital Music News reported that Apple might be considering a price cut for it's Apple Music service
* According to the report, "serious discussions" are going on, but it is possible the cut might not happen.
* They say the cut could be as much as 20 percent meaning that a single-person plan would be just USD $7.99/mo and the price of a family plan would be dropped to USD $12.99/mo.
* The student rate would supposedly remain at USD $4.99/mo.
* This would bring Apple's pricing below other services like Spotify and Amazon Music Unlimited (inline with Prime Amazon Music Unlimited).
* It's also possible the cuts might be promotional only and for a limited time. Customers who signed up at the lower rate would keep the rate as long as they keep their monthly service active.
V Are smartwatch sales dropping?
* There seems to be a big rift in the analysis of the current state of the smartwatch market
* IDC ran a report saying that shipments have plummeted by 50 percent over the past year.
* IDC had shipment going from 5.6 million units in the third quarter of 2015 down to just 2.7 million in the 3rd quarter of 2016.
V Then the firm Canalys came out and said shipments actually rose 60 percent over the same period.
* They claim total smartwatch shipments exceed 6.1 million for the quarter.
* Interestingly Canalys had Apple shipping 2.7 million Apple Watches in the 3rd quarter which would be 0.1 million more than the total for the entire quarter that IDC is reporting
* The one area both report agree is on Apple's share of the market. IDC says 41 percent while Canalys has it slightly higher at 46 percent.
* The also both agree that interest in the Apple Watch is declining and that consumers were generally not motivated by the minor updates made to the Apple Watch Series 2 and iPhone 7
V AirPods might not ship this year
* Apple has updated their site to say "coming soon"
* DigiTimes says suppliers are saying the AirPods might not ship this year at all.
* It's unclear what the cause of the delay might be.
* One would suspect the new W1 chip, but Beats headphones with the new chip are already available and shipping
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V Feedback, commentary, opinions
V Your MacBook Pro feedback
V Fred laments the loss of ports, like SD card slot
* "I prefer multiple I/O ports (and formats), and dedicated power and monitor connections. It’s just easy."
* I "get" this, but I think having a standardized connector to handle multiple functions is better moving forward.
* Plus you can get a single Thunderbolt 3 dock and still have all the separate connections on the desk with just one cable to connect to "dock" your machine when you get home.
* Yes we live in "dongle land" for a little bit, but that goes away as you upgrade external drives and peripherals.
V I got a lot of agreement about the Touchbar and Apple's direction of keeping the Mac experience separate from the touch experience
* Many of you seem to like the concept of the Touchbar and it's potential. You also, like me, seem to be cautiously optimistic about it's potential
V Still some didn't agree with the "single" plane argument. Pointing out the iPad Pro with Smart Keyboard is the same paradigm that I claim Apple is avoiding.
* I will just say that even after over a year with my iPad Pro set up the use case between keyboard and touchscreen is still very awkward.
* Even with the Microsoft Studio you see the two operation modes are kept separate.
* BTW, I had the Touchbar resolution off slightly it's 2170 x 60 not 2180 x 80
V Desktop users like David are left confused
* He has a five year old iMac and doesn't want to wait to upgrade.
* This old machine is having issues, so what to do?
* That's a tough one. Luckily the iMac is not quite as long in the tooth as the Mac mini or Mac Pro.
* My guess is an iMac update will come sometime in the first part of 2017, but who knows really.
* The 5K iMac is a great workhorse and will be a huge upgrade from the machine you have now.
* If you feel like you can suffer through the next 3-6 months then it's maybe worth the wait.
* My best advice is to buy the machine you need when you need it and not worry about what Apple's cycle is.
V Also buy as much machine as you can afford at the time.
* At this point I would prioritize fast storage first, then memory, then GPU, then processor when making a buying decision.
* If you just need raw storage though, consider choosing a smaller SSD first to save cash and then go with externals. Just make sure the SSD you do get has enough storage for the stuff you want locally.
* For example, with Apple Music and iCloud Photo Library I no longer factor in my Photo or Music libraries. But that's just me.
V Steven sort of felt the same
* He was actually very happy and excited about the Macbook Pro seeing it as a machine with a great then form factor, gorgeous screen, great trackpad, amazing interface expandability and flexibility via the 4 thunderbolt ports.
* It was when it came to other Macs that he felt different
* "There is just no defending their completely baffling refusal to spec bump regular products nor their price points being extremely difficult to justify."
* He shared what I've heard from many which is it feels like Apple is seeing the Mac as more and more a "niche" product.
* They are selling fewer to consumers less frequently and so they need to maximize the ASP of each unit so their decisions seem to reflect that.
* What's hard is I can't say he's wrong, but I also can't say Apple's wrong for their reaction to the changing market forces.
V After a week digesting what the Macbook Pro is I think I've decided that Apple is delivering a pretty great machine given the timing and the technology that's available
* It's easy to get lost in the individual specs and price and lose site of the whole package. I did.
* After looking more at what else is on the market, their prices while at a premium, are not 100% out of line nor are they anything new for Apple.
* I wish they were more reasonable on RAM and storage upgrades, but again remember these are the highest end fastest components (i.e you get what you pay for).
* As for rev cycles. I can understand and appreciate the times have changed. PC sales are slowing as are Apple's update cycles. I can also appreciate that Apple releases what they feel is the best machine that they can at the time they are ready to release the machine.
* They don't bend to the schedules of their partners. They also don't make the choices they make without thinking things through even when from the outside it can seem like they did.
V Get iOS star ratings back
* At least when you get iOS 10.2 which is currently in beta
V When you do turning the feature back on is easy
* Settings > Music then toggle on 'Show Star Ratings'
V To set a star rating
* While the song is playing tap the '…' on the bottom of the "Now Playing" card
* Then tap the 'Rate Song' option and then set the star rating in the pop-up and tap 'Done'
* Yeah, a little more complicated than in the past
* You can also just ask Siri to, "Give this song 4 stars", which also works on current versions of iOS (BTW)
* If you use Apple Music then the song must be added to your Library before you can give it a star rating (It doe NOT have to be downloaded, just in your Library).
* Star ratings also have no influence on Apple Music recommendations.
V About App Thinning
* Mark wrote in to express a frustration I think we have all had when restoring or rebuilding an iOS device
* Even if you do a full encrypted backup in iTunes and choose to restore from that many of the Apps don't seem to restore.
* You end up waiting for hours (or longer) for all your apps to re-download and re-install.
* It did not used to be like this, what happened?
* In iOS 9 Apple added something called "app thinning" to help counter act the problem of limited storage on iOS devices
V The thought was that as more Apps became "universal" and more devices, like the iPad Pro, were having larger screens with larger asset storage was being consumed where it did not need to be.
* Why have an iPad Pro sized asset on a 16GB iPhone SE?
V So Apple thought, why not recognize the device and remove the extraneous assets from the app? That's, basically, what App thinning does.
* Well, that part is actually just one piece called asset slicing
* There is also On-demand resources. Where Del opera can install just the first few levels of a game, then as you progress, you can download in the background the new stuff you need and throw out the old stuff.
* Also Apps are uploaded to the Store in bitcode instead of as fully compiled apps. This lets Apple optimize and re-optimize an app binary for the specific device architecture that's downloading it without requiring the developer to manually update and resubmit the app.
* That means is that the app the developer uploads to the App Store is not bit for bit the app that gets downloaded and installed on your devices.
* It also means, that even if you "transfer purchases" back to iTunes, the copy that's on your Mac is also likely not the whole app.
* So when you re-install, especially if you've upgraded devices, the App you need might not be the app you have a copy of.
* That's why the apps are de-downloaded.
* So I'd there a way around it?
V Mark read a report that claimed one way would be to iTunes > Settings > Downloads and check on the automatic downloads for Apps.
* I get the thought, iTunes will always download and have a copy of the full app compiled as a "universal" binary ready for ANY device.
* You can also make sure to run your App updates in iTunes as well as OTA on your device.
* I don't think though that this will solve the having to re-download all apps problem.
* As I understand it the app thinning magic happens on the server and as part of the App downloading and install process. So Apple forces that to happen after a erase and restore.
* If I'm wrong I'd love to know.
V Picking Photos from 3rd Party Apps
* Play comment from Gary
* Never noticed or thought about it until you mentioned it. Maybe that's why Apple hasn't done anything about it yet.
* But now that you have I think you're right. Especially now that Apple has the new AI and auto keyword tagging. It would be helpful if the built in Photo picker in 3rd party apps had a search.
V I have noticed that some apps do create their own Albums when going the other way
* Snapseed and BitCam are two examples I have.
* These are only there if I've saved images to my Photo Library from the App.
V Gary did follow up with a tip
* Rather than creating a 'Third Party App' album you could just use the "Heart" button to add to favorites and then open the App and browse that Album
* I like your first idea of creating a separate album better because then you're not cluttering up your Favorites album.
V Test out the Touchbar with an iPad
* OK, I haven't Been able to try this because I haven't upgraded to macOS Sierra yet, but if this works (and I believe it does) it's just cool
* 9to5 Mac found a guy with a [project on GitHub]( that lets you try out the TouchBar with ANY Mac running the latest update to macOS Sierra
* 10.2 .1 added support for the TouchBar
V There are two apps. One you can just download from the GitHub and run on your Mac. It gives you the Touchbar in a virtual on screen window.
* You'll be able to see it switch contextually and you navigate various apps.
V The other app is for iOS
* You'll need to get the project files and then build and load them using Xcode.
* Then you can attach your iPad using a USB cable and use the app to see and control the simulated Touchbar from the iPad screen.
V Closing
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