The Work-Life Edition Friday, August 7, 2020

Apple 27-inch iMac Review, by Brian Heater, TechCrunch

The non-Pro iMac line is well-positioned to appeal to the bedroom musicians and movie-makers, an increasingly broadening category in the age of COVID-19. Perhaps even more relevant, however, are the system’s teleconferencing capabilities. It seems unlikely that COVID-19 had a major impact on a device that had likely been in the pipeline for some time, but the new model does thankfully come with some features that will be welcome as Zoom conferences become an ever-increasing fixture in day-to-day work life.

The New 27-inch iMac’s Webcam Isn’t Just Better; It’s Smarter, by Dieter Bohn, The Verge

The webcam isn’t just better because it has more pixels; it’s also better because Apple is finally applying some modern image processing to the video stream. The iMac has a T2 chip, which is used to control lots of the components in the Mac. Apple is using it to process certain elements of this webcam’s image. It is able to do tone mapping, exposure control, and face detection.

2020 iMac Review: The Last Picture Show, by Jason Snell, Six Colors

The 2020 revision to the 27-inch iMac adds in many (but not all) of the features of the late 2017 iMac Pro. It’s an update with some intriguing options and which addresses some of the iMac line’s most glaring weaknesses. If this is the end of the Intel Mac era, at least it’s going out with a bang.

Apple's Technology Helps Quadriplegic Man, But Still Needs Work, by Ben Lovejoy, 9to5Mac

However, while Hughes gets enormous benefits from HomeKit and Siri – two mainstream Apple features – he ironically finds that some of the company’s Accessibility features are less effective. Lack of support for UK English in Voice Control, for example, means that he has to boot his MacBook Pro into Windows when he wants to dictate.


For example, Accessibility offers an auto-answer capability for phone calls, ideal for people who cannot touch a screen to answer a call. But you can’t ask Siri to switch on this functionality: a feature most useful for people who can’t touch a screen requires you to … touch a screen to enable it.

Interactive Content

When Microsoft's Ambitious 'Netflix Of Gaming' Service Launches In September, It Won't Arrive On Apple Devices – Here's Why, by Ben Gilbert, Business Insider

"The App Store was created to be a safe and trusted place for customers to discover and download apps, and a great business opportunity for all developers," an Apple spokesperson told Business Insider. "Before they go on our store, all apps are reviewed against the same set of guidelines that are intended to protect customers and provide a fair and level playing field to developers."

Because Microsoft isn't submitting each game on its streaming service to Apple's review process, the app that enables access to those games is being blocked from publishing.

Microsoft Condemns Apple’s App Store Policies, by Nick Statt, The Verge

Microsoft says Apple is denying consumers the benefits of such technology through unfair enforcement of its App Store rules. It also accuses Apple of treating gaming apps unfairly while allowing other media services to exist on the platform even when they “include interactive content,” a nod it sounds like to Netflix’s inclusion of interactive programming akin to text adventure games like last year’s Black Mirror: Bandersnatch.

Facebook Slams Apple’s App Store Policies, Launches Facebook Gaming On iOS Without Games, by Tom Warren, The Verge

Apple unveiled an appeal process for situations like this at WWDC back in June, but Facebook says it tried this and failed to convince Apple to overturn its decision. “We even appealed the guideline under the new app review process announced at WWDC,” says a Facebook spokesperson. “We did not receive a response.”

Facebook has now been forced to give up and remove games entirely from the standalone app launching on iOS today. The Facebook Gaming app is primarily used to watch streams of games, much like Twitch is used on both iOS and Android.


First Look: macOS Big Sur Public Beta, by Jason Snell, Six Colors

But overall, I think this is an exciting time to be a Mac user. Yes, Big Sur looks and feels very different from the Mac we’ve all come to know. But that’s part of the excitement. I’m excited that Apple is shaking up the Mac after many years of complacency. If you’re not excited by this, I understand it—and Catalina (and let’s be honest, Mojave) is there for you in the meantime.

macOS 11.0 Big Sur Preview, by Brian Heater, TechCrunch

It’s clear, of course, why one of Apple’s OSes would borrow so liberally from another. The iPhone has been top dog at the company for well over a decade now, and continues to monopolize resources and serve as a proving ground for its most cutting-edge experiences. Even as the Mac braces for its most radical update in recent memory with the switch from Intel to custom ARM processors, the shadow of iOS looms large over Big Sur.


The Wallpaper App Review: Endless Wallpapers Tailored For Apple Devices, by Ryan Christoffel, MacStories

A great iPhone or iPad wallpaper, to me at least, needs to be not just beautiful but also a good complement to the things sitting on top of it – apps and widgets. The Wallpaper App gets that. If you’ve struggled finding good wallpapers for your devices, this app is well worth a try.


Apple’s Rivals Are Picking The Wrong Battles, by Richard Waters, Financial Times

By trying to emulate Apple’s integration, without at the same time having the unitary control that Apple has over its technology universe, they may come up with a pale shadow of the experiences its technology makes possible. But as Apple inches closer to becoming the world’s first $2tn company, it’s not obvious what else they can try.

Scientists Rename Human Genes To Stop Microsoft Excel From Misreading Them As Dates, by James Vincent, The Verge

Excel is a behemoth in the spreadsheet world and is regularly used by scientists to track their work and even conduct clinical trials. But its default settings were designed with more mundane applications in mind, so when a user inputs a gene’s alphanumeric symbol into a spreadsheet, like MARCH1 — short for “Membrane Associated Ring-CH-Type Finger 1” — Excel converts that into a date: 1-Mar.

Bottom of the Page

The Finder on my Mac died in the middle of the day today. This latest version of macOS, 10.15.6, is turning out to be quite unstable.

I hope Big Sur will be better.


Thanks for reading.