Support this Site
Become a Six Colors subscriber and get access to a special weekly podcast, monthly newsletter, and community.
July 18, 2018 10:24 AM PT
This week, on the 30-minute tech show that has aired a quarter of a thousand episodes, Dan and Mikah are joined by special guests James Thomson and Kathy Campbell to discuss our strategies for unplugging from tech and social media, how we deal with physical media and a lack of space, whether we’d let delivery people come into our homes, and our favorite (and most wished-for) emoji. Plus, a frosty dessert-themed bonus question.
Jason Snell for Macworld
July 18, 2018 10:16 AM PT
When Steve Jobs came back to Apple in 1997, he didn’t like what he saw, so he set about changing the corporate culture. A decade later, one proof of his success was the fact that the company seemed to follow a rulebook, largely behaving with a consistency that allowed those of us who covered the company to react to wild rumors with phrases like “Apple wouldn’t do that” or “that’s not how Apple does things.”
But in the years following Jobs’s death (and the departure of some other Jobs-era executives), Apple has continued to evolve—and in many cases, it’s torn up the old rulebook. A lot of the changes strike me as being for the better—I feel like after Steve laid down the law in the late 90s, some policies and decisions were never really reconsidered until the Tim Cook era got into full swing.
Here are just a few ways that today’s Apple has tossed out, or at least amended, the classic Apple rulebook.
July 16, 2018 11:33 AM PT
Guest co-host Stephen Hackett joins Jason to discuss the new MacBook Pros and what they mean for Apple’s product line at large, adventures with the macOS Mojave beta, and the new Sonos AirPlay 2 update. And since this is the summer of fun, we cap it all off with a quick Mac OS X draft!
By Jason Snell
July 12, 2018 7:45 AM PT
The current generation of MacBook Pro models has been controversial since it was introduced in late 2016. The Touch Bar, the abandonment of MagSafe, a 16GB RAM limit, a reduction in ports, the move to USB-C (requiring dongles to connect old devices), and the low-travel keyboard from the MacBook… people were frustrated by a lot of Apple’s choices on these computers.
Another frustration pro Mac users have been having recently is that the product cycle has seemed to keep stretching, with Apple taking increasingly long between product updates. With its recommitment to pro users at a special media event in the spring of 2017, it seemed like Apple had gotten the message, but it would need to walk the walk. A quick MacBook Pro update last spring suggested the company was recommitting to relatively quick product updates; the grumbling began again when the year anniversary of that update passed with no sign of a 2018 revision.
On Thursday that revision arrived. And while it’s not a wholesale reinvention of this generation of MacBook Pro—Apple stuck with the previous body design for four years—it does address a few of the top complaints of MacBook Pro users. The 2018 MacBook Pros support up to 32GB of RAM, and they’re running Intel eighth-generation Core processors. It took Apple 13 months between updates this time, but it seems clear now that Apple is committed to an annual update cycle for the MacBook Pro that takes into account the latest high-performance laptop chips from Intel.
As you might expect from a mid-generation spec bump update, most of the changes on these models are modest. The MacBook Pro now contains the same Apple-designed T2 processor as the iMac Pro, replacing the T1 processor in previous models that drove the Touch Bar. The T2 does a lot more, most notably providing on-the-fly storage encryption and providing a secure boot process.
For the first time, a Mac gains a True Tone display, previously seen only on iOS devices. True Tone is a nice feature that matches the color temperature of your display to the color temperature of your surroundings, thanks to an embedded light sensor. Of course, a lot of the professional users who will be buying the MacBook Pro will demand color output fidelity from their new laptop display, and will therefore need to turn this feature off some or all of the time.
The low-travel butterfly keyboard has apparently also been tweaked, making this the third generation model (after the one in the original MacBook and the updated version that shipped on the 2016 MacBook Pros and every successive MacBook). The second revision of the keyboard was meant to add more tactile feel, but also really increased the volume of noise—I always describe those keyboards as sounding “crunchy.” According to Apple, this new generation of keyboard is quieter, but presumably the company didn’t just revert to the first-generation design and has retained some of the added feel that makes you forget you’re typing on keys with extremely short travel.
It’s also unclear if the new keyboard design will prove less prone to failure than the previous models. Apple continues to insist that only a very small percentage of keyboards fail due to small bits of grit and dust getting stuck in keys (though it made a repair warranty extension program all the same), and I know many people who have run into just this problem with their keyboards. Apple is never going to declare that its old keyboard design was terrible; we’re just going to have to wait and see if perhaps this new design turns out to be more resilient.
In the end, if you’re a MacBook Pro user who wanted access to the latest generation of Intel processors (including a six-core model!) and 32GB of RAM, this update will be welcome. If, on the other hand, you’re someone who thinks Apple made some poor choices in its design of this generation of MacBook Pro… this is still fundamentally the 2016 MacBook Pro design. A redesign will undoubtedly come along eventually—they always do. But this update isn’t that.
Jason Snell for Macworld
July 11, 2018 12:51 PM PT
On Wednesday, Sonos released support for Apple’s AirPlay 2, giving a dramatic boost in functionality to certain Sonos smart speakers via a software update. If you’ve got a Sonos One, Beam, Playbase, or second-generation Play:5, you’ll need to update your Sonos iOS app and then use the new app to install the software update.
This is a big step forward in flexibility for Sonos products—keep in mind that Sonos speakers don’t do Bluetooth or AirPlay 1, so they’ve been pretty firmly locked in their own universe unless you added a dongle or ran a software bridge. But once a Sonos speaker gets AirPlay 2, you can do a lot more than just play audio directly to that speaker from a Mac or iOS device.
July 11, 2018 6:00 AM PT
This week, on the 30-minute tech show that is both too fast AND too furious, Dan and Mikah are joined by special guests Jeff Carlson and Scholle McFarland to discuss the smart home gadgets we think are ridiculous (and the ones we like inspire of ourselves), how we discover apps, whether we make photo books, and how much we use our iPads for work. Plus, a special bonus topic on solving conflicts without violence.
July 10, 2018 11:34 AM PT
Myke got married, Jason’s back from his vacation, and the Summer of Fun continues with discussion of the Shortcuts app in the iOS 12 beta, potential colorful new iPhones, and AT&T’s plans to make HBO more like Netflix. Then at the very end, it’s time for the official wedding recap with Myke at the Matrimony.
By Dan Moren
July 10, 2018 7:19 AM PT
Yesterday’s release of iOS 11.4.1 contained a much remarked upon security feature dubbed “USB Restricted Mode.” To wit: iOS will now disable the data-transfer abilities of the Lightning port if the device’s passcode has not been entered for an hour, or an hour after it’s disconnected from a trusted USB device. Entering your passcode reenables the feature. (Charging is unaffected.)
That’s squarely aimed at tools like GrayKey, which law enforcement have used to exploit a loophole allowing them to unlock devices.
However, USB Restricted Mode is not—as currently implemented—fool proof. Security researchers at ElcomSoft point out that connecting a USB accessory inside the 1-hour window restarts the clock. That includes something like Apple’s own Lightning to USB 3 Camera Adapter.
That said, this isn’t a huge vulnerability—ElcomSoft even theorizes that it’s just an oversight. Not only does it require law enforcement to act quickly and to have the requisite hardware on hand, but it only works within the window: once USB Restricted Mode has kicked in, you can’t undo it without the passcode. Users can also manually enable USB Restricted Mode by triggering the SOS mode—holding an iPhone’s sleep/wake button and either volume button. That forces the phone to require a passcode.
It seems likely that Apple will fix this loophole in a future update, and I doubt that law enforcement agencies will act fast enough to capitalize on it in the meantime.
Dan Moren for Macworld
July 6, 2018 5:38 AM PT
Apple has a long back and forth relationship with the role of color in its products. Even looking back at the original Macintosh, which debuted with a black and white display at a time when the company’s long-running Apple II line boasted color graphics. (The Apple II which, it should also be noted, gave us the venerable six-color Apple logo.)
In more recent years, color has played a part in the outward facing part of Apple’s products as well. When the first iMac appeared on the scene in 1998, its most distinctive feature was the bright Bondi Blue exterior, which later multiplied into a variety of different options and set the tone for Apple products of its era.
For the last decade or so, however, Apple has largely retreated from offering color versions of its products. Only more recently has it shifted its strategy to include different metallic shades of products like the iPhone and the iPad. Broader color options have mainly been limited to the Product(RED) version of the iPhone that Apple seems to release about six months into the current model’s lifteime.
Now, a new report suggests that Apple may once again veer into color territory, with the current metallic options joined by different shades, including blue and orange. Frankly, it’s about time.
July 5, 2018 8:10 AM PT
This week, on the irreverent podcast that’s firmly on dry land, Lex has returned from a week on the ocean with a newfound perspective on life (or simply a lot of fatigue), John is waffling on whether to celebrate our traditional upcoming holiday, and Dan just has no understanding of basketball at all.
July 3, 2018 12:54 PM PT
This week on the 30-minute tech show that’s over 100°F, Dan and Mikah are joined by special continental guests Anže Tomić and Rose Orchard to discuss Apple’s Maps overhaul, Instagram’s “you’re all caught up” feature, e-commerce via social media, and Apple Pay on public transit. Plus, a special bike-themed bonus topic.
Dan Moren for Macworld
June 29, 2018 5:07 AM PT
The iPhone, Apple Watch, and Mac all got some love from Apple at this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference, but the fourth of Apple’s platforms was largely left out in the cold: the Apple TV.
Indeed, the newest version of tvOS doesn’t even get its own page on Apple’s site—clicking links about it will simply take you to an updated page for the Apple TV 4K, released last September.
On the face of it, sure, it’s understandable why the Apple TV and tvOS didn’t get a lot of attention: the set-top box is arguably the least ambitious of Apple’s products, and many of the roadblocks that the company has run into in terms of improving it have been stymied by the need to work with partners.
But that’s not to say that there aren’t still substantial changes that could be made to the platform. Here are just a couple of suggestions of things that Apple could improve.
June 28, 2018 9:41 AM PT
This week on the tech show that sometimes finds itself with a Scotsman, we discuss the new betas for Apple devices and why John hasn’t installed them. Plus, Apple finally cops to its keyboards having problems, and Dan and James have opportunities for you to clothe yourself!
By Dan Moren
June 28, 2018 7:18 AM PT
Live podcast fans will welcome the news of Rogue Amoeba’s latest Audio Hijack update. Version 3.5, released Thursday, adds support for internet broadcasts to Icecast and Shoutcast servers. That functionality was previously included in Rogue Amoeba’s Nicecast app, which the company discontinued back in March. 1
Audio Hijack 3.5 adds a Broadcast block which you can slot into your audio workflow, allowing you to easily stream content to a compatible server. And I can say that with some assurance because I’ve been using it to stream live episodes of The Rebound, Clockwise, and various Incomparable shows over the past month or so. 2 It’s an elegant interface and the results sounds great. In particular, the ability to save specific servers as presets and toggle back and forth between them has saved a lot of time.
The Broadcast feature supports both the MP3 and AAC formats, including the better sounding HE-AAC format. It can also automatically pull track names from some sources if you’re broadcasting music, and even lets you broadcast to multiple servers at the same time (if, for example, you want both an MP3 and AAC stream, or if you want to provide multiple bitrates for listeners).
And the Audio Hijack update also includes another useful innovation: an input switch block that lets you quickly toggle between two audio sources. Handy if, for example, you want to play music for your live stream up until you’re ready to switch over to your broadcast.
Current Audio Hijack users will get version 3.5 as a free update; a full license costs $59, though Rogue Amoeba offers several bundles as well. Nicecast customers can also snag a $20 discount.