MyAppleMenu - Tue, Mar 10, 2015

Tue, Mar 10, 2015 The Spring-Forwarded Edition

We're hoping to make jokes about Apple today, but I'm not sure we can be funnier than the tweets on Apple's homepage:

— Anil Dash (@anildash) March 9, 2015

Spring Forward: MacBook

Instead of going with a Broadwell i5 or i7 like with the MacBook Air, the new MacBook will start with a 1.1GHz Intel Core M that sips 5W of power. It will come standard with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of solid state storage, and it will start at $1,299. An upgraded 1.2GHz Core M CPU (which will boost up to nearly 3Ghz under load) and 512GB of storage will run $1,599. The new models are expected to start shipping on April 10, and they even come in three colors: Space Gray, Silver, and Gold.

The numbers seem small on paper—it weighs two pounds and is 13mm thick at its thickest point. Seeing it in person really drives home what a small laptop this is. It’s the most similar to the 11-inch MacBook Air, but it’s got a bigger and better screen. I moved from an 11- to a 13-inch MacBook Air because I found the display too cramped, but the new MacBook is large enough to avoid that problem.

The new MacBook's charger is a cross between the standard MacBook charger and an iPhone or iPad charger. It uses a regular USB Type C cable that unplugs from the adapter—no more replacing the whole brick just because the cable frays—but the brick itself is comparable in size to the 45W adapter that ships with the MacBook Air.

The obvious third-party opportunity: an USB hub that can also charge the MacBook, iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. Every hotel will need one for each room.

Apple's "taptic feedback” system is more than just marketing. A small motor vibrates ever so slightly when you press down on the new MacBook’s trackpad, and the amount of feedback is adjustable in software. With the feedback set to “firm,” the trackpad plus the taptic feedback make the trackpad indistinguishable from a standard clicky trackpad. The only difference is that you get the clicky feel anywhere on the pad, including at the top.

Of all the new features in the new MacBook, this trackpad is probably the one that I'm most skeptical about. I've used the software-click option in the existing MacBooks, and I've never enjoyed it. This new trackpad is obviously significantly different, so it may well turn out to be good enough or even better. The good thing is: you can still get a Magic Trackpad. Of course, that's yet another accessory that you'd need to buy and bring along, together with your USB hub.

But, Jason Snell does have this to say about the new trackpad...

The real highlight of trying the MacBook was the trackpad. When the first reports about a non-moving trackpad arrived, I wasn’t happy. I’ve never liked the tap-to-click gesture on trackpads, and always turn it off. But what’s been implemented in the MacBook trackpad is not remotely like tap-to-click or anything else you’ve ever experienced on a trackpad. In fact, it’s more like a magic trick—or an optical illusion.

The first time I clicked on the MacBook trackpad, I was just moving the cursor around to get my bearings and wasn’t thinking of the fact that I was using a new trackpad. I pressed, the trackpad clicked, and suddenly my train of thought screeched to a halt. Wait, I thought, wasn’t this thing supposed to have a new trackpad? It had felt like nothing had changed.

That means you can either tap the touchpad or give it a harder press in order to bring up the functions that were usually associated with the right-click.

This reminds me of the early days of contextual menu on the classic Mac OS, where you can activate by pressing and holding down your single mouse button.

Quick MacBook thoughts: keyboard is weird, but you could get used to it. Force Touch trackpad is awesome.

— nilay patel (@reckless) March 9, 2015

bloody 'ell these new macbooks are cheap

— Visual Idiot (@idiot) March 9, 2015

Spring Forward: Apple Watch

Pricing is a little more complex than Apple’s iPhones or iPads, with pricing for the three collections— Apple Watch, Apple Watch Sport, and the gold Apple Watch Edition— all including various tiers depending on strap and case size combinations.

The case of the Sport being aluminum will ding and scratch. Apple has claimed its special alloys and coatings help protect the watch, but in comparison to the other variants of the watch, if this one takes abuse it will eventually show.

The ne plus ultra of mechanical watchmaking is the Patek Philippe Henry Graves Supercomplication, which sold this past November for $24,000,000. Why? Because it is not only incredibly complicated, with 24 distinct functions, but designed and built entirely by the human hand — something the Apple Watch will never be able to claim.

And that is a wonderful thing.

Spring Forward: ResearchKit

The software framework is designed to benefit medical research and can pull data from the Apple Watch and the Health app on iOS. Apps will be able to monitor asthma, assess Parkinson symptoms and more. Participation will be optional and data will be stored and transmitted securely.

Consumers should question any medical advice that comes from the apps, because it isn’t likely to be peer-reviewed, said Adrian Gropper, chief technology officer of Patient Privacy Rights, a nonprofit group.

Apple did take a step to ensure the safety of patient data by making ResearchKit open-source, which means that the code used to write the software is visible by the public, Gropper said.

Spring Forward: Apple TV

Richard Plepler, CEO of HBO, was on hand for Monday's event and called the deal a "transformative moment for HBO." Piepler also used the stage to debut a new trailer for the upcoming fifth season of Game of Thrones. The season premiere will air on April 8, and HBO Now subscribers will be able to view it for free.

I'm getting a stronger feeling of having overpaid my Apple TV, as compared to people living in the United States.



Omni’s culture deserves an article of its own, but I’m not going to get into culture much. Instead, this is an engineering-centric tour of the details of how we manage our apps.

The CIA Campaign to Steal Apple's Secrets

Jeremy Scahill and Josh Begley, The Intercept:

By targeting essential security keys used to encrypt data stored on Apple’s devices, the researchers have sought to thwart the company’s attempts to provide mobile security to hundreds of millions of Apple customers across the globe. Studying both “physical” and “non-invasive” techniques, U.S. government-sponsored research has been aimed at discovering ways to decrypt and ultimately penetrate Apple’s encrypted firmware. This could enable spies to plant malicious code on Apple devices and seek out potential vulnerabilities in other parts of the iPhone and iPad currently masked by encryption.


Parting Words

Thanks for reading.