The Did-A-Bunch-Of-Research Edition Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Apple's Phil Schiller On Reinventing The New MacBook Pro Keyboard, by Roger Cheng, CNET

But a few years back, we decided that while we were advancing the butterfly keyboard, we would also -- specifically for our pro customer -- go back and really talk to many pro customers about what they most want in a keyboard and did a bunch of research. That's been a really impressive project, the way the engineering team has gotten into the physiology of typing and the psychology of typing -- what people love.

As we started to investigate specifically what pro users most wanted, a lot of times they would say, "I want something like this Magic Keyboard, I love that keyboard." And so the team has been working on this idea of taking that core technology and adapting it to the notebook, which is a different implementation than the desktop keyboard, and that's what we've come up with [for] this new keyboard. We're doing both in advancing the butterfly keyboard, and we're creating this new Magic Keyboard for our Pro notebooks.

MacBook Pro 16” First Impressions: Return Of The Mack, by Matthew Panzarino, TechCrunch

The new 16” MacBook Pro Apple is announcing today is an attempt to rectify most, if not all, of the major complaints of its most loyal, and vocal, users. It’s a machine that offers a massive amount of upsides for what appears to be a handful of easily justifiable tradeoffs. It’s got better graphics, a bigger display for nearly no extra overall size, a bigger battery with longer life claims and yeah, a completely new keyboard.


Apple is calling it the Magic Keyboard in homage to the iMac’s Magic Keyboard (but not identically designed). The new keyboard is a scissor mechanism, not butterfly. It has 1mm of key travel (more, a lot more) and an Apple-designed rubber dome under the key that delivers resistance and springback that facilitates a satisfying key action. The new keycaps lock into the keycap at the top of travel to make them more stable when at rest, correcting the MacBook Air-era wobble.

And yes, the keycaps can be removed individually to gain access to the mechanism underneath. And yes, there is an inverted-T arrangement for the arrow keys. And yes, there is a dedicated escape key.

16-Inch MacBook Pro First Impressions: Great Keyboard, Outstanding Speakers, by John Gruber, Daring Fireball

What Apple emphasized yesterday in its presentation is not that the butterfly-switch keyboards are problematic or unpopular. They can’t do that — they still include them on every MacBook other than this new 16-inch model. And even if they do eventually switch the whole lineup to this new keyboard — and I think they will, but of course, when asked about that, they had no comment on any future products — it’s not Apple’s style to throw one of their old products under the proverbial bus. What Apple emphasized is simply that they listened to the complaints from professional MacBook users. They recognized how important the Escape key is to developers — they even mentioned Vim by name during a developer tool demo. And they emphasized that they studied what makes for a good keyboard. What reduces mistakes, what increases efficiency. And they didn’t throw away the good parts of the butterfly keyboard — including excellent backlighting and especially the increased stability, where keys go down flat even when pressed off-center. The keys on this keyboard don’t wobble like the keys on pre-2016 MacBook Pro keyboards do.


I expected Apple to do this — to correct the mistakes of the previous keyboard. But I feared that they wouldn’t, out of stubborn pride or just plain bad taste in keyboard design. It is a bit frustrating that it took them three years to do it, but they did it. This is what their modern MacBook keyboards should have been like all along.

Key Upgrade: A First Look At The 16-inch MacBook Pro, by Jason Snell, Six Colors

With the 16-inch MacBook Pro, Apple has revealed its priorities for the MacBook Pro. The new keyboard was almost a given, but a larger display with smaller bezels, an emphasis on performance and battery over size and weight, and a redesigned cooling system to provide more thermal room for processor- and graphics-intensive operations. It seems to me that this MacBook Pro is finally fulfilling the promise made by Apple executives in 2017 to take the needs of its professional users more seriously.

Also: Mac Pro

Apple’s Mac Pro Ships In December With Maximum 8TB Of Storage, by Matthew Panzarino, TechCrunch

Apple is making its Mac Pro and Apple Pro Display available in December, it announced today. The machine was announced earlier this year but no availability window had been set.

In addition to the previously announced specs, Apple also noted that it would be able to be ordered with up to an 8TB SSD. Apple’s Pro Workflow Team continues to take feedback about wants and needs of its pro customers and Apple says that the MacBook Pro can now handle up to 6 streams of 8K Pro Res vide, up from 3 streams quoted back in June.

How Much Better

Review: Apple AirPods Pro, by Parker Hall, Wired

Apple’s $250 AirPods Pro are good. So good that I forgot how weird I look with the twisted little golf tees hanging from my ears, or that these headphones—like most other wirefree models—will probably only last a couple years before their batteries bite the dust. I’m not even afraid of being made into a meme about how rich I look.

Instead of complaining, I'm going to revel in how much better these are than the first two AirPod models. I love how much more comfortable the new silicone eartips are, and how the active noise canceling makes it so I can barely hear a screaming toddler in the snack aisle. I can’t stop taking the sweat-resistant buds on runs, where Siri heeds my every command.

All The Ways iOS 13 Makes AirPods, AirPods Pro, And Beats Headphones Even Better, by Andrew O'Hara, AppleInsider

If you find yourself wearing AirPods throughout the day, there's a good chance you'll like "Announce Messages with Siri."

It does exactly what it sounds like — announces received messages through Siri while you are wearing your AirPods or AirPods Pro. Siri will lower your audio levels, and say something along the lines of "Ken said, ..." and if another message is received while that is being read, Siri will naturally continue the conversation and read the second message after.

Hidden Camera

Facebook Bug Has Camera Activated While People Are Using The App, by Alfred Ng, CNET

When you're scrolling through Facebook's app, the social network could be using your camera, concerned users have found. Multiple people have found and reported that their iPhone cameras were turned on in the background while they were looking at their feed.

The issue came to light through several posts on Twitter. Users noted that their cameras were activated behind Facebook's app as they were watching videos or looking at photos on the social network.

A Brief Explanation Of Facebook's Scary New iPhone Bug, by Adam Clark Estes, Gizmodo

“We recently discovered that version 244 of the Facebook iOS app would incorrectly launch in landscape mode. In fixing that issue last week in v246 (launched on November 8th) we inadvertently introduced a bug that caused the app to partially navigate to the camera screen adjacent to News Feed when users tapped on photos,” a Facebook company spokesperson told Gizmodo. “We have seen no evidence of photos or videos being uploaded due to this bug. We’re submitting the fix for this to Apple today.”


Revisiting The Apple Stock App Experiment, by Josh Ginter, The Sweet Setup

Apple’s stock apps are good. Some of them are even great. But, for every annoyance or roadblock in Apple’s apps, it’s almost a certainty there’s a third-party app out there that fixes that annoyance.

I’m a man of habit. As it turns out, Things, Bear, Spark, and Fantastical have entrenched themselves in those habits.

Apple Watch Thanksgiving Activity Challenge Returning This Year, Encourages A 5K Workout, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

You can earn this award by completing any walk, run, or wheelchair workout of at least 5K – or 3.1 miles – in distance. If you complete the challenge, Apple will reward you with exclusive badges in the Activity app, as well as stickers for use in Messages and FaceTime.

FoodNoms: A Privacy-Focused Food Tracker With Innovative New Ways To Log Meals, by John Voorhees, MacStories

With FoodNoms, I’ve found it easier to stick with food tracking than ever before. The app’s database of foods seems a little limited compared to other apps I’ve used, and I’d like to see more ways to visualize trends over time added to the app. Still, those limitations are largely made up for by the ability to log portion accuracy and scan nutrition labels, along with the multitude of other ways to log meals. Add FoodNoms’ privacy focus, and I expect it’s going to win over a lot of people.

Mujjo’s New Touchscreen Gloves Will Keep Your Hands Warm And Still Allow You To Use Your iPhone Or Apple Watch, by Dennis Sellers, Apple World Today

Mujjo introduced its Touchscreen Gloves last year. This year they’ve improved their insulation by adding an extra layer of Polar fleece. Plus, the new thumb construction makes them fully responsive and optimized for larger screens, such as that of my iPhone 11 Pro Max.


IBM Finds Its Mac Users To Be More Productive Than PC Users, by Adam Engst, TidBITS

Fletcher Previn was clear about how correlation should not be confused with causation, saying, “You have to be careful about cause and effect. I don’t know if giving an employee a Mac makes them a better employee, or whether better employees want to choose Macs.” And in a statement that sums up the difference between business and scientific research, he smiled and concluded, “And ultimately, I don’t care.”


It may even be that the key difference between Mac users and Windows users is not the computer that they use, but the mere fact that they chose one computer over another. What past history, personality traits, or beliefs about career advancement might play into that choice? Previn acknowledged this, saying, “If you’re the kind of salesperson who’s so mindful of looking progressive that you go out and choose Mac, are you also on top of a bunch of other things?”


Navigation Apps Changed The Politics Of Traffic, by Laura Bliss, CityLab

Waze often describes itself in terms of the social goods it promotes. It likes to highlight the dedication of its active participants, who pay it forward to less-informed drivers behind them, as well as its willingness to share incident reports with city governments so that, for example, traffic engineers can rejigger stop lights or crack down on double parking. “Over the last 10 years, we’ve operated from a sense of civic responsibility within our means,” wrote Waze’s CEO and founder Noam Bardin in April 2018.

But Waze is a business, not a government agency. The goal is to be an indispensable service for its customers, and to profit from that. And it isn’t clear that those objectives align with a solution for urban congestion as a whole. This gets to the heart of the problem with any navigation app—or, for that matter, any traffic fix that prioritizes the needs of independent drivers over what’s best for the broader system. Managing traffic requires us to work together. Apps tap into our selfish desires.

Doom Creator John Romero On What's Wrong With Modern Shooter Games, by Edwin Evans-Thirlwell, The Guardian

“Give us more guns!” is a common battle-cry among players of first-person shooters, the videogame industry’s bloodiest genre. Doom co-creator John Romero has a rather different opinion.

“I would rather have fewer things with more meaning, than a million things you don’t identify with,” he says, sitting in a Berlin bar mocked up to resemble a 1920s Chicago speakeasy. “I would rather spend more time with a gun and make sure the gun’s design is really deep – that there’s a lot of cool stuff you learn about it.”

Why Do Holes Horrify Me?, by Chrissie Giles, Digg

Once you know about trypophobia, whether you have it or not, you start to spot potential triggers everywhere.

You start talking about it, too. In the pub, at work, in conversation with my mum, I am like Julia's boyfriend or those Reddit posters, quickly pulling up a screen full of lotus seed pods, Surinam toads and honeycomb, reading the person's facial responses.

Bottom of the Page

I was just listening to yet another podcast with complaints about the butterfly keyboard. Apple should really do a laptop trade-in program and offer some really good discounts to its loyal customers.


Thanks for reading.