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12 things you need to know from Apple’s WWDC keynote announcement

Apple held their annual Worldwide Developers’ Conference in San Jose, Calif. Monday, where a slew of software updates were announced. While there was no new hardware announced at their annual keynote address by CEO Tim Cook and team, developers were left with new features to sink their teeth into.  Here’s a brief recap:

iOS 12

Augmented Reality
The tech giant is doubling down on performance with the latest iteration of its mobile operating system for iPhone and iPad. On iOS 12, the next generation of its augmented reality tool set, ARKit 2, was introduced, alongside a new ‘Measure’ app that enables users to get measurements of real-world items—all without a ruler or tape measure.

APPLE

Screen Time/Down Time
Screen Time will offer users a way to see how actively they use their device. Through a central dashboard, insights like device use time, time spent in specific apps, and regular reports sent out means users can see how much time they really spend on Instagram. This will be something that appeals to parents. Down Time will introduce the ability for device managers (like mom and dad) to limit access to specific apps, category of apps, or the entire device from certain periods of the day, or once a set threshold is reached. Sorry, kids!

APPLE

Animojis become more personal
Remember those animoji characters announced back in September? They are emojis brought to life using AR technology on iPhone X. The next step brings—ready for it?—Memoji to your repertoire. Users will design their own animated version of themselves—almost like a Bitmoji—and using iPhone’s front-facing camera, you’ll see the character come to life, mimicking your facial expressions, including tongue movements.
Group FaceTime
The video chatting service brings multiple parties together in a group video chat—up to 32 people to be specific. Active speakers’ tiles are made larger and smaller, while quiet participants are shelved. Chats can then utilize the Memoji effects, as well as a whole host of stickers and filters.

APPLE

watchOS 5

Automatic workout detection
In the new operating system for Apple Watch, for those who use it to work out, technology including the built-in heart rate sensor will automatically detect when you start a work out. It will alert you, and once accepted will retroactively record the fitness data.  This is powerful for people like me who forget to activate a new workout more often than not.
Walkie-Talkie
Yes, it’s back—and it’s cool again. But it’s the 21st-century watch version. Once you accept the connection with your desired family and friends, you can tap to record a short audio message, and it is transmitted to their device. A fun way to tell your kids, “Dinner’s ready!”

APPLE

No more “Hey Siri”
With the improved Siri Apple Watch face, users can now raise to activate Siri, without saying the words “Hey Siri.”
tvOS 12
Dolby Atmos surround sound support
Apple announced they are rolling out improvements to sound quality on Apple TV 4K, with integration of Dolby Atmos surround sound. Users with an enabled sound bar or speaker system will see an improvement, with upgraded media like movies to be pushed through iTunes automatically.

macOS 10.14 Mojave

Your privacy, first
The tech giant announced their new operating system, macOS 10.14 Mojave. The California road trip continues. Apple was quick to highlight privacy is at the forefront of user data, from mail to messages. Surprisingly, on Safari, updates will shut down Facebook tracking and ad targeting, forcing users to opt-in before they can use share/like buttons—the traditional source of ad tracking.
Dark Mode
The audience ooh’d and ahh’d for this one. Dark Mode is coming to macOS 10.14 Mojave. It is an adaptive mode that can dim your user experience to make being productive easier on the eyes at night. This is similar to the ’Night mode’ experience on the Twitter app.
Clean up your desktop with organization tools
New organization tools will help keep the clutter off your desktop. You can finally reclaim your wallpaper! Using ’stacks,’ macOS will sort and group materials by type. Photos, documents, videos, etc. For those who have a method to their madness, there will be a way to customize this function accordingly.
Rebuild of Mac App Store
In an attempt to better integrate Mac applications with its successful App Store ecosystem, Apple has rebuilt their App Store from the ground up, breaking app discovery down by ‘Create,’ ‘Work,’ ‘Play,’ and ‘Develop.’

Apple updates iMac, MacBook lines; doubles down on performance

Apple refreshed its line of Mac computers at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose, Calif., Monday, including the iMac desktop – a device the tech giant hasn’t updated in almost two years. Manufacturers typically renew computers at least yearly to stay relevant.

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iMac reimagined on the inside, not out

Not much has changed on the exterior, but the first thing you do notice when powering on is the vibrancy of the display – boasting a beautiful 4K display and 5K display in the 21.5-inch and 27-inch iMacs, respectively. These displays are 43 per cent brighter than its predecessor at 500 nits with support for one billion colours. Essentially, you’re guaranteeing yourself a vivid picture with whatever you’re doing.

The thin bezel of the new Apple iMac. CITYNEWS/Winston Sih

The thin bezel of the new Apple iMac. CITYNEWS/Winston Sih

From a performance perspective, Apple has heavily invested in the Intel Kaby Lake seventh-generation Core i5 processor as standard, with an option to upgrade to Core i7. Measured against the previous-generation model, the new iMac will allow for three-times-faster gaming on the 21.5-inch model.

iMac pushes the envelope in storage with the evolution of the Fusion Drive across the 27-inch line and on the high-end 21.5-inch 4K computer, adding higher-capacity memory. Fusion Drives allow users to access frequently used documents, photos, videos, on a flash drive, eliminating spinning disks of the traditional hard drive. It means fewer parts to break down. I’d like to see a move to this being standard on all desktops.

Available ports on the 27-inch iMac. CITYNEWS/Winston Sih

Available ports on the 27-inch iMac. CITYNEWS/Winston Sih

Users will find plenty of connectivity on the 27-inch iMac, and unlike iPhone 7, there’s still a headphone jack, alongside four USB 3.0 ports, two Thunderbolt 3 (a.k.a. USB-C for everyone else), a Gigabit Ethernet, and an SD card port. This allows for added displays, high-speed hard drive connectivity, and other third-party accessories.

Among the updates from the conference include a peek at the next iteration of the Mac platform – macOS High Sierra – chock-a-block full of new toys for developers to create immersive experiences for users, like virtual reality. However, the upgrade won’t be available until the fall.

MacBook Pro: Building on its success

The previous generation of MacBook Pro made the laptop much thinner and lighter. Plus, the integration of a fluid and interactive Touch Bar and Touch ID fingerprint reader has been surprisingly useful — not just a gimmick — and the 2017 version builds on that.

The new 15-inch MacBook Pro. CITYNEWS/Winston Sih

The new 15-inch MacBook Pro. CITYNEWS/Winston Sih

The upgrades bring a routine processor and hard drive boost. Machines will see the same Intel Kaby Lake processor as its desktop counterparts, as well as faster solid-state drives, and the 15-inch MacBook Pro will have snappier graphics out of the gate.

The notebook could benefit from an added USB 3.0 port for so many existing devices while still offering flexibility in the increasingly popular USB-C port. I also miss the SD card reader. Can there be a balance struck with ports, or lack thereof?

 

The OLED-lit Touch Bar on the 15-inch MacBook Pro. CITYNEWS/Winston Sih

The OLED-lit Touch Bar on the 15-inch MacBook Pro. CITYNEWS/Winston Sih

As for the OLED-lit Touch Bar that offers virtual buttons that react to the specific program you’re in, the technology continues to be unique in its class. I’d like to see exponential growth of adoption by third-party developers for it to be a real hit. But for the apps that currently utilize this, it’s fantastic.

 

The Force Touch trackpad on the 15-inch MacBook Pro. CITYNEWS/Winston Sih

The Force Touch trackpad on the 15-inch MacBook Pro. CITYNEWS/Winston Sih

 

With the last MacBook Pro, I had some issues with the shallow-but-tactile butterfly keyboard sticking. Apple has made some improvements to address reported problems with switch keys.

Other standard updates include increased speed and longer battery life. A larger Force Touch trackpad that reacts to the amount of pressure given to surface different actions remains.

MacBook receives a minor—but needed—spec bump

The new entry-level MacBook. CITYNEWS/Winston Sih

The new entry-level MacBook. CITYNEWS/Winston Sih

The entry-level MacBook remains one of Apple most popular laptops. It’s small in form and packs a punch as an ultraportable device, though it’s not as powerful as its sibling MacBook Pro. It gets the job done if you’re a parent just looking to surf the web and answer emails.

The entry-level laptop will get a boost in processor gigahertz, albeit minor at 1.2GHz dual-core, but when you’re working with less than 1.5 GHz to start with, every bit counts — even when you simply have a handful of web browser windows open.

In addition, the new solid-state drives are 50 per cent faster than its predecessor — rounding out a machine many students will no doubt adopt come September.

Availability

The new MacBook and MacBook Pro machines are available now.

A pro version of the iMac—aptly named iMac Pro—was announced Monday, but will not be available for sale until December. The updated classic line is available today.


New 10.5-inch iPad Pro brings a lot of familiar with a bigger display, more power

As computers become thinner and lighter, and tablets grow larger and more powerful, the line of whether you need one or the other is continuing to blur. Apple’s new productivity-focused tablet, iPad Pro is no exception.

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If I had to choose between my MacBook Pro or iPad Pro, nine times out of 10, I’m still going to choose the laptop. I find I’m generally more comfortable and don’t get anxious about the limitations of using a tablet. The tech giant continues to market these devices to two very different crowds—but is it working?

Let’s get to the basics

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iPad Pro now comes in 10.5-inch and 12.9-inch models, the former replacing the previous 9.7-inch tablet. The 10.5-inch version rings in at 6.1 millimetres in thickness, while still giving you nearly 20 per cent larger screen surface.

Apple’s claiming iPad Pro to have the most advanced display, featuring their ProMotion technology—essentially a doubled refresh rate at 120Hz to give you enhanced responsiveness. And I would consider it a success. The screen looks more vivid, snappier, and interacts well with the Apple Pencil—an accessory sold at an additional $129 CAD.

You can tell this device is built for productivity. I launched almost every one of my over 50 apps, and iPad Pro barely slowed down. Apple has integrated their new 64-bit A10X Fusion chip that handles the most demanding of heavy apps, giving this up to 30 per cent faster CPU and 40 per cent graphics than the previous A9X chip. I successfully streamed multiple 4K videos with no lag whatsoever.

Software brings new features, but you’ll have to wait

iOS 11, the next iteration of the mobile operating system coming to iPad Pro, will bring a lot of familiar from its Mac counterpart. But you won’t get it until later this fall. Some of these features include an application dock that is reminiscent of macOS, but drastically increases multitasking, as well as improved file management and inter-app content flows like drag-and-drop photos.

It’s just too bad the hardware and software changes weren’t timed together, however very clear that Apple is saving the release to work with the launch of their flagship phone—iPhone—typically in the fall, too.

For those who like to hold their iPads up in big crowds and take photos

Yes, you know who you are—you’ll find a 12-megapixel camera capable of shooting 4K HD video, a front-facing 7-megapixel camera for video calls, as well as a four-speaker audio setup.

This device is great for content consumption. There is no doubt about that. I’d much rather have my iPad Pro out at the airport or on a flight than my MacBook. Be it magazines or movies, everything from visual to audio will be pristine.

Gorgeous accessories, but it’ll cost you

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This is where I think Apple’s signature design aesthetic wins. Yes, you can buy third-party accessories, but nothing compares to the Smart Keyboard. The larger size now enables a full-sized keyboard, both software and hardware, and the Smart Connector allows for connectivity without charging or Bluetooth.
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Coupled with the interactive Apple Pencil for annotations and note taking, the keyboard and pencil combo will set you back just under $350 CAD, before you even buy the device!

Other accessories include a leather sleeve, Apple Pencil case, and a Smart Cover that doubles as a stand.

The verdict

When I go back to the MacBook Pro vs. iPad Pro debate, if I had to pick one product, I’d still go back to the MacBook Pro. That is, if I’m strictly thinking productivity. You get the benefits of a full macOS with the thin and portable design of iPad with the keyboard and travelling case. Plus, the 12-inch iPad Pro is still really weighty. If you’re making your tablet look and perform like a laptop—just go get one.

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iPad Pro is beautiful, but for it to be a true workhorse, you need the accessories. Add it to the starting-at pricing of $869 and $1,049 for the 10.5-inch and 12.9-inch models, respectively, you’re pricing out to be near a MacBook or MacBook Pro, not to mention competitors out there like Microsoft’s Surface.

For big content consumers who value the Apple ecosystem and the extensive App Store, alongside the improved, vibrant display, and expanded keyboard size, iPad Pro could bring over more folks who want to shed the full computer experience for a simplified and user-friendly mobile design—made even better with iOS 11.


If you’re a Mac user, beware of ‘ransomware’

Ransomware, a malware that hit over 6,000 people over the weekend, sneaks onto your computer by way of common torrent software (i.e. Transmission for Mac), restricts access to part or all of your computer, until you pay a ransom fee.

Parents with kids should be aware–many teens use torrent software to download pirated music, movies, and television shows. This content can often come with ‘phishing’ software – prying for personal information, including addresses, credit card information, and bank account passwords.

Although this is alarming being the first ransomware has hit the Macintosh operating system, security experts are noting to not overreact and keep the following tips in mind:

Ransomware protection tips

Courtesy: Symantec

  • Regularly back up any files stored on your computer
  • Always keep your security software up to date
  • Keep your operating system and other software updated
  • Delete any suspicious-looking emails you receive