The Scissor-Switch Edition Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Apple Announces New MacBook Air With Improved Keyboard, Faster Performance, And More Storage, by Chris Welch, The Verge

Apple’s 16-inch MacBook Pro is no longer the company’s only laptop with a reliable keyboard. This morning, Apple announced a revamped MacBook Air laptop with an improved scissor-switch keyboard, branded as the “Magic Keyboard,” that ditches the controversial butterfly mechanism of the previous-generation model. It has the same 1mm of keyboard travel as the 16-inch Pro.

The new Air also offers double the performance, according to Apple, featuring 10th-gen Intel processors up to a 1.2GHz quad-core Core i7. And it delivers 80 percent improved graphics performance, as the Air now features Intel Iris Plus Graphics. It comes with twice the storage as the prior machine — now starting with 256GB. You can configure it all the way up to 2TB.

Apple Unveils New iPad Pro With Magic Keyboard Case, Available To Order Today, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Apple describes the new Magic Keyboard as having a “floating design with smooth angle adjustment.” It attaches magnetically to the iPad Pro and features “unique cantilevered hinges” that allow it to adjust up to 130 degrees. The keyboard uses Apple’s scissor switch mechanism and is backlit as well.


iPadOS 13.4, which will be released on March 24, includes full trackpad support for the first time. Apple says that it hasn’t simply copied the trackpad experience from macOS, but rather completely “reimagined” it for iPad:

Emerging Technologies with Creativity

Augmented Reality: Meet The Artists Creating The Future Of Storytelling, by Michael Steeber, 9to5Mac

A small but growing number of artists are combining emerging technologies with creativity to make the world a brighter place. These illustrators, designers, and digital sculptors believe that augmented reality (AR) has the potential to unlock new forms of storytelling and self-expression. It’s a bold bet, and the artists I spoke to aren’t waiting around to see if the future they imagine will come true — they’re creating it.

You’ve heard that AR will be transformative. You’ve seen it in action everywhere, from the iOS Measure app to Pokémon GO. But one largely unexplored application of AR, until recently, is augmented reality art.

Sparked in part by the release of design tools like Reality Composer and Adobe Aero, as well as initiatives like Today at Apple AR[T] Labs and immersive Walks at Apple Stores around the world, artists have been taking notice.


Apple Has Radically Expanded Its Remote Learning & Device Management Advice, by William Gallagher, AppleInsider

In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, Apple has radically expanded its advice for teachers and education IT staff on how to facilitate working from home. As well as specific details of setting up Apple devices that need to be managed by the school, it recommends tools for working and for staying connected.

"Preparing your school's Apple devices for remote learning," is intended for IT staff to prepare both the school and individual Apple devices so that they can be used at home. It consists chiefly of one central support document, but then links to multiple pages and videos designed to help IT educators.

Apps That'll Help You Manage Stress & Anxiety During The Coronavirus Pandemic, by Jake Peterson, Gadget Hacks

There are plenty of apps in the App Store and Play Store that deal specifically with helping you with stress and anxiety, and we've pulled out the best of the bunch. But don't fret if your favorite meditation app is missing from the list below as we focused on apps designed to tackle stress and anxiety primarily.

While Headspace and others can help with psychological strain, pressure, and inner turmoil, meditation also benefits in a lot of other areas too. So you might find that the apps below help with stress and anxiety more than other apps broader in scope.

GitHub For iOS Lets You Check Your Code From Anywhere, by Ed Hardy, Cult of Mac

The code sharing and publishing service GitHub released iOS and Android apps today. These enable users to check code, talk to team members and even merge code right from their phone or tablet.

“There’s a lot you can do on GitHub that doesn’t require a complex development environment, like sharing feedback on a design discussion and reviewing a few lines of code, said Shanku Niyogi, senior vice president of product at GitHub. “Now we are making these tasks easy for you to perform, no matter where you work, with a beautifully native experience.”

HomeKit Secure Video Support Rolls Out For Anker eufyCam 2, by Andrew O'Hara, AppleInsider

Anker is now rolling out a firmware update to its eufyCam 2 security cameras bringing support for HomeKit Secure Video, after only starting with basic support for HomeKit after an update in January 2020.

Arcade Highlights: Roundguard, by John Voorhees, MacStories

Roundguard by Wonderbelly Games is a delightful mashup of genres that I highly recommend. Like a lot of our readers, I’ve been looking for distractions. It’s easy to get sucked into the constant barrage of bad news delivered to our devices, which feeds an unhealthy stress loop. One effective way I’ve broken that cycle is with video games, and the more absorbing and lighthearted, the better.

Roundguard fits the bill perfectly. The game has been universally described as a combination of Peggle and a dungeon-crawler RPG. That’s a strange mix to be sure, but it’s absolutely true, and it works.


Tips For The Mac User Newly Working From Home, by Jason Snell, Macworld

We live in strange times. I’d wager that a lot of you are now working from home, either for the first time or for a lot longer than you’re used to. I used to work in an office more or less every day, but for the past five years I’ve been working in my garage every day. As a result, I’ve learned a lot about the tools, techniques, and behaviors that can help you work more efficiently on your Mac or iPad from home. I hope what I’ve learned can help you be more productive and healthier at home.


iPhone Unlocking Tech GrayKey Went Up In Price Because Hacking iPhones Got Harder, by Joseph Cox, Motherboard

Last year, iOS forensics firm Grayshift increased the price of one of its iPhone unlocking products because breaking into iPhones became harder, according to emails obtained by Motherboard.

The news shows that although federal agencies and local police around the country have purchased the company's GrayKey device to break into locked and encrypted iPhones, that sort of access is not necessarily constant. The emails also highlight the cat and mouse game between forensic companies trying to discover vulnerabilities to unlock iPhones and Apple trying to make it harder for hackers of any stripe to break into its products.

Bottom of the Page

Here in Singapore, the new MacBook Air is not available for sale, and there's no date on when it will be available. The new iPad Pro is available, but the keyboard will only arrive in May.

Yeah, Apple's supply chain is definitely affected.


Thanks for reading.