Taking a look back at another week of news and headlines from Cupertino, this week’s Apple Loop includes leaked iPhone specs, details of the new iPhone circuit board, Tim Cook’s smartphone features that will ‘blow us away’, the cancelled MacBook and the updated MacBook Pro, testing FaceID for iCloud access, fixing the secret Zoom server, and why Steve Jobs was a Wizard.
Apple Loop is here to remind you of a few of the very many discussions that have happened around Apple over the last seven days (and you can find the weekly Android news digest here).
iPhone 11 Circuit Board Leak Reveals Secrets
Thanks to the leaked circuit board of the upcoming iPhone 11, it’s possible to see the changes that Apple will be making to the flagship smartphones. Apart from a slight increase in battery capacity, there’s not much change on offer from 2018’s handsets. Forbes’ Gordon Kelly explains:
At face value, the alteration seems minor: Apple is moving from the L-shaped logic board inside both the iPhone X and iPhone XS, to a more compact, stacked rectangular design. And what the new design enables Apple to do is fit much larger batteries than the iPhone XS (Koroy states 15-20% larger) which will drive the leap from 4G to 5G as well as providing the extra capacity to compensate for reverse wireless charging devices like AirPods.
…Does all this clever circuitry mean you should now buy the iPhone 11? Absolutely not. While it looks set to deliver improved battery life, the real benefits will only be reaped in 2020 when Apple catches up to rivals with 5G. Moreover, don’t expect an iPhone 11 to hold its price when you eventually sell it in a 5G world. That’s why the smart money waits.
More here on Forbes.
Where’s The New In The 2019 iPhone?
The big problem Apple has, which the circuit board lead confirms it, is that there’s nothing genuinely new in the 2019 iPhone family. Specs are bumped up to maintain parity with Android, new features (such as reverse wireless charging) finally reach the iPhone, but there’s nothing here that could significantly increase Apple’s revenue, as I noted earlier this week:
While Android-powered handsets are pushing forward with challenges to the expected form factors in the screen and forward facing cameras, faster and more efficient communication options in 5G, a wealth of options across multiple price points, what is Apple left with? The same offering as last year with a little bit more battery power, the same design language that was tired at best in 2017, and the same feature set as mid-range Android handsets.
Apple may have a suite of products that will “blow us away” as Tim Cook has promised, I just hope he doesn’t mean this year’s ugly and boring iPhones.
Read more here on Forbes.
What iPhone 2020 Features Could Blow Us Away?
Maybe Cook is talking about the 2020 iPhones? If he is then he is likely relying on 5G, the OLED display moving to the iPhone XR family, and the inclusion of VR capabilities. Those points have been picked up by analysts JP Morgan, as Kif Leswing reports:
Currently, the iPhone XS and the iPhone XS Max use OLED screens, which have power and image quality advantages, but are more expensive than the LCD screens used on many smartphones, like Apple’s iPhone XR.
Upcoming 5G networks have the potential to dramatically increase cellular download speeds, if carriers can build out the technology in time. Apple’s current devices have 3D-sensing cameras on the front, and the J.P. Morgan analysts predict that in 2020, they will be equipped with similar cameras on the back.
More at CNBC. Of course these are all existing and known elements in Apple’s plans. How about a new design with a curved screen? While it would – once again – be seen as a copy of Android devices, Tim Cook’s team have been working on the technology as a recently published patent illustrates.
Apple notes in its patent that, “electronic devices such as portable computers and cellular telephones are often provided with displays. For example, a liquid crystal display (LCD) may be formed from a stack of display structures such as an thin-film transistor layer with display pixels for providing visual information to a user, a color filter layer for providing the display pixels with color, a touch screen panel for gathering touch input from a user, and a cover glass layer for protecting the display and internal components.
More on this at Patents and Tech.
Apple Launches New MacBook Pro And Air Updates
Apple rolled out changes to the MacBook family this week through the impressive medium of a press release. The MacBook is cancelled, the MacBook Air gets a retina screen, and the function-keys on the lower MacBook Pro are replaced by a touch bar. There are some short-term discounts for students, but the update diminishes the Mac lineup:
But now every laptop from Apple (and arguably every competing laptop to Apple’s deskbound hardware) come with a focus on being thin and light. From being a unique designator, the Air suffix saddles the lower tier MacBook with a tired brand about being light of design… and Apple’s design decisions around laptops are far from cutting edge.
More importantly, if you purchase these new machines, you are not going to be getting the new scissor-switched keyboard that is expected to arrive later this year. These updated Macs are going to be hobbled with the butterfly keyboard and a promise that any repairs to the unreliable keyboard will be expedited.
More here on Forbes.
Apple Abandons The MacBook
Meanwhile, spare a thought for the MacBook. Launched in 2015 as a thinner, lighter, ultra portable macOS machine with a number of firsts. All of those advantages have been claimed by others, the MacBook never saw a significant upgrade. Zac Hall laments its loss:
Ultimately, the 12-inch MacBook only saw three generations: the original in 2015, a speed bump in 2016, and one last processor upgrade in 2017. While its design was used as inspiration for the Retina MacBook Air last fall, the 12-inch MacBook specs were left unchanged from 2017 to its demise yesterday.
If you could never see yourself purchasing the 12-inch MacBook over another laptop in the lineup, the decision to kill the MacBook makes perfect sense. If you considered the design “for you” then the move makes no sense.
As an owner of the first and third generation MacBook, I find myself frustrated with how the end played out. Only Apple knows the market that the three generation computer captured, but it hardly had a chance to compete with the new MacBook Air.
More at 9to5Mac.
Your Face Can Unlock Your iCloud Account
Apple is trialling a new way to sign into your iCloud account. Previously your password unlocked your files, but code lurking in the latest betas of iOS, iPadOS and macOS test the ability to use biometrics such as your fingerprint or facial recognition. Chance Miller reports:
When you visit iCloud in Safari on a device running the iOS, iPadOS, or macOS betas, you’ll see a new pop-up asking if you’d like to sign-in using your Apple ID with biometrics. On a Face ID-equipped device, this means signing in with Face ID, while other devices, including Touch Bar-capable MacBook Pros, use Touch ID. The above screenshots show the Face ID sign-in process on an iPhone XS Max running the developer beta of iOS 13.
More at 9to5Mac.
Third-Party Vulnerability Closed By Apple
Kudos to Apple for taking the unusual step of releasing a ‘silent’ update for Mac users that removes a hidden web server that was installed by Zoom’s video conferencing software. That server remained on a MacOS powered machine even if Zoom’s software was uninstalled. Zack Whittaker reports:
The Cupertino, Calif.-based tech giant told TechCrunch that the update — now released — removes the hidden web server, which Zoom quietly installed on users’ Macs when they installed the app. Apple said the update does not require any user interaction and is deployed automatically.
The video conferencing giant took flack from users following a public vulnerability disclosure on Monday by Jonathan Leitschuh, in which he described how “any website [could] forcibly join a user to a Zoom call, with their video camera activated, without the user’s permission.” The undocumented web server remained installed even if a user uninstalled Zoom. Leitschuh said this allowed Zoom to reinstall the app without requiring any user interaction.
More at TechCrunch.
Steve Jobs was a wizard. At least that’s what Bill Gates thinks. Rick Levinson reports on Gates’ comments for CNBC’s Leadership podcast:
Steve Jobs was a master at “casting spells” to keep Apple employees motivated and working long hours, said Bill Gates, the billionaire co-founder of technology giant Microsoft.
“I was like a minor wizard because he would be casting spells, and I would see people mesmerized, but because I’m a minor wizard, the spells don’t work on me,” said Gates, the world’s second-richest person.
…Jobs was a singular case, Gates said, where Apple was on a path to die and goes on to become the most valuable company in the world. There aren’t going to be many stories like that, he said.