By Jason Snell
March 27, 2017 5:12 PM PT
March 27, 2017 5:12 PM PT
March 27, 2017 • 1 hour, 36 minutes
This week on Upgrade, the revival of the iPad name leads us to speculate about a new phase in Apple’s product approach, and what it tells us about the future of the iPhone. We also discuss where the iPad Pro might go next, and what Apple’s acquisition of power-user app Workflow means about the company’s approach to iOS for professionals.
March 27, 2017 10:59 AM PT
Apple’s released one of its deluge of updates today, with new versions of operating systems for Macs and iOS devices, as well as revisions across the board to the iWork suite of apps. Here’s a quick rundown of what’s out there and what’s new.
The Mac gets the Night Shift feature introduced in iOS 9.3. Basically, at night it’ll shift to the “warmer” (read: yellower) end of the light spectrum, to go easier on the eyes. As on iOS, you’ll be able to set a schedule. Other additions include cricket scores and stats in Siri, dictation support for Shanghainese, and bug fixes for PDF rendering and annotation problems.
If you have Apple’s wireless earbuds, you can now use your phone to play a sound on them when you inevitably misplace them, via the Find My iPhone app. It’ll also save the last known location of your iOS device when the AirPods were connected. Also in iOS 10.3 comes the ability for developers to respond to customer reviews, a new settings view for your Apple ID, the ability to report calendar invites as junk, and—trumpets—Apple’s new APFS file system. (So be extra sure to make a backup before you update this time around.)
Now you won’t annoy those around you while you’re wearing your Apple Watch in the movie theater: enable Theater Mode and the display won’t light up when you move your wrist, though you’ll still get haptic feedback, and you can turn it on by pressing the Digital Crown or tapping the screen. The update also adds SiriKit support for watchOS.
I guess you can swipe through longer lists more effectively. (MacRumors says a longer swipe on the Siri remote “activates the new scrolling mode.”) Most of the other improvements are under the hood.
Now you can create bookmarks in Pages, which let you link between different parts of your document. There’s also LaTeX and MathML notation, RTF import/export, and TouchID security for documents. (Obviously you’ll need a new MacBook Pro on the Mac side.)
If you’re looking for a way to track your investments, apparently Numbers is now an option. You can now add current or historical stock info to spreadsheets and there’s a new My Stocks template. When collaborating, you can now work with sheets, and on iOS there’s a new action menu and a new editing interface. Plus it gets the same Touch ID security features as Pages.
Hey, you can now post interactive presentations on Medium, WordPress, and other websites. Schmancy. Plus, presenter notes on a black background on the Mac and an improved rehearsal view on iOS, Keynote 1.0 import support, and the aforementioned Touch ID security features.
Yep, you can now use Apple’s revamped TV Remote app—which came out in August of last year—on your iPad. There’s also a revamped Now Playing interface, with lyrics and playlists for music, plus chapters, audio tracks, and captions for movies and TV shows.
March 24, 2017 9:01 AM PT
The Workflow app for iOS was always widely recognized as one of the platform’s most powerful apps. And now, it’s a part of the platform, after Apple bought Workflow and made the app available for free. Because of that, there’s never been a better time to give it a try. Here are 25 of the coolest things you can do with Workflow.
March 24, 2017 5:52 AM PT
After this week’s news that Apple had acquired iOS power user app Workflow, you’d be excused for being a bit confused about the future of automation on Apple’s platform. After all, it was just last November that Sal Soghoian, Apple’s product manager of automation technologies, left the company when his position was eliminated.
And yet, Apple snapped up Workflow, an app that many had compared to Apple’s own Automator, which was introduced way back in 2005’s Mac OS X Tiger. So what gives? Is there still some life in automation and scripting features on Apple’s platforms, or is this merely a case of Apple acquiring useful talent?
March 23, 2017 9:25 AM PT
This winter has been packed with speculation about the future directions of the iPad product line, but nobody guessed that 2017’s first iPad announcement would be what we saw on Tuesday: An unexpected return of the original iPad line and the discontinuation of the iPad Air. The move was hardly exciting in terms of technology, but it could prove to be a smart and strategic one for the iPad as a whole.
March 23, 2017 • 43 minutes
In this week’s episode, the calm before the storm of minor Apple announcements, we talk Apple’s augmented reality plans, the possible futures of the Mac Pro and Mac mini (or lack thereof), Samsung’s new virtual assistant, Apple’s diversity problems, and Dan and Lex’s favorite new game. Also, planning begins on our musical episode.
March 21, 2017 7:55 AM PT
I love word games. Delight in them. I may even go so far as to say I adore them. But I confess that I’ve never been the best at anagrams—it just seems to require a totally different part of my brain from, say, crossword puzzles. But TypeShift from Zach Gage has got me hooked nonetheless, thanks to a few very clever conceits. Gage is an experienced game developer, whose previous titles include popular games like SpellTower, Ridiculous Fishing, and Really Bad Chess.
TypeShift is, at heart, an anagram game. Each puzzle gives you columns of letters that you can slide up and down—think of it like one of those horizontal combination locks, but with letters instead of numbers. Your goal is to form words from those letters. The good news is that it doesn’t really require rearranging letters, as in a true anagram.
Within each puzzle, your aim is to use all the letters in the puzzle in at least one word. There are generally a handful of core words that you can use to complete this puzzle, as well as a bunch of extra words that you can discover.1 (Even better, when you’ve solved the puzzle, you can tap on any word to get a definition of the word, right from Merriam-Webster, whose dictionary Typeshift licenses. You can then favorite those words just in case you want to look them up later.)
I really appreciate TypeShift’s Daily Puzzle, which—as with the New York Times crossword puzzle—gets harder as the week goes on, but my heart truly belongs to the game’s Clue Puzzles, which combine TypeShift’s normal play with crossword puzzle mechanics. You’re given a list of clues and must find words among the letters that correspond to those clues. It’s definitely a more Dan-friendly sort of puzzle.
TypeShift’s simple, bold graphics focus on easy readability—you can pick from a few different color schemes—and it makes delightful use of haptics on the iPhone 7 series, giving you little rewarding taps when you find a word, or “clicking” as you spin through the letter options. One thing I found myself wishing as I played was that I could go back and finish Daily Puzzles I’d missed, but if that’s possible, I haven’t found out how yet.
The game is itself free and includes a few packs of puzzles as well as the daily puzzle, but you can buy additional puzzle packs for a dollar or two. If you enjoy words and puzzles, it’s well worth your time.
I seem to usually end up finding a ton of extra words rather than the core words, so I’m definitely no speed demon. ↩
March 21, 2017 6:20 AM PT
Well, if your wildcard bet for today’s Apple announcements was an app for making short videos on your iOS device, I applaud your predilection for preternatural prediction. The company announced Clips, an app that lets you combine video, photos, and music into videos to share through Messages or on social media like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or YouTube.
As you might expect from an app that seems pretty clearly aimed at something like Snapchat or Instagram Stories, the app includes a number of filters, like comic book styles, as well as speech bubbles, shapes, and full-screen animated posters. There’s also a new Live Titles feature, which lets users make animated captions and titles from voice alone; it sounds as though it leverages Apple’s Dictation skills to create captions as people speak, but it can also synchronize them with your video. It supports different text styling, editing, and even inline emoji, in 36 different languages.
Clips isn’t available yet, but will be on the App Store in April for free, working with the iPhone 5s and later, the new 9.7-inch iPad, all iPad Airs and Pros, the iPad mini 2 and later, and the sixth-generation iPod touch. You’ll need iOS 10.3 or later. (Which, hey, you’ll notice isn’t out yet, so at least we’ve got an idea when that appears.)
March 21, 2017 6:07 AM PT
In addition to a red iPhone, Apple also introduced a new version of the 9.7-inch iPad—no, not the iPad Pro. Called simply “iPad”, this low-cost model appears to replace the iPad Air 2, and starts at a cheaper $329 price point for 32GB and $429 for 128GB. (As usual, cellular-enabled models are $130 extra.) It comes in silver, gold, and space gray versions and will be available this Friday, March 24.
Though this new model is the same height and width as the iPad Air 2, it’s slightly thicker—0.29 inches compared to 0.24 for the iPad Air 2—and slightly heavier, weighing in at 1.03 lbs, compared to the iPad Air 2’s 0.96. It has a Retina display, which Apple describes as “brighter” (presumably compared to the Air 2) and the same A9 chip found in the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus; that’s an improvement over the A8X in the Air 2, if not quite as powerful as the A9X in the Pro line. It features no Smart Connector, so no compatibility with the Smart Keyboard, and it won’t work with the Apple Pencil either.
There’s an 8-megapixel camera, that is probably the same unit found in the 12.9 inch iPad Pro and the iPad mini 4, with no support for Live Photos and no True Tone flash, and it can record video at 1080p. There’s also a standard 1.2-megapixel FaceTime HD camera, two speakers, Touch ID (no indication if it’s the first or second generation of that sensor), and support for Apple Pay.
The new iPad is clearly intended as a budget model, in the same way that Apple long kept around the iPad 2. While it has most of the “standard” features of the iPad, the line gets drawn between the Pro models, which have the Smart Connector, Apple Pencil support, even better displays, and faster processors.
As with the iPhone SE, Apple also snuck in a capacity bump for the iPad mini 4, which is now available in only a 128GB configuration for $399 (or with cellular for $539). That replaces the previous $399 model, which offered just 32GB of storage.
New Smart Covers round out the announcement, in charcoal gray, white, midnight blue, pink, and Product (RED) colors.
March 21, 2017 5:53 AM PT
If you’ve been craving an iPhone in a color beyond silver, two versions of gold, or two versions of black, it is your lucky day. After ten years of teaming up with Product(RED) to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS in Africa and releasing red versions of iPods, Apple’s releasing both the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus in a red aluminum finish. The red version of the iPhone 7 is available in two capacities: 128GB for $749 or $849 for 256GB, while the iPhone 7 Plus starts at $869 for 128GB and $969 for 256GB. (In other words, basically the same as the Jet Black iPhone). They’re also available for purchase via the iPhone Upgrade Program. The new iPhones go on sale this Friday, March 24, at 8:01 a.m. Pacific and will be available worldwide.
Buried deep down in its iPhone press release, Apple also notes that it’s bumping the storage on the iPhone SE, which will now be available in 32GB and 128GB models, but at the same prices of $399 and $499 respectively. (This replaces the previous configurations of 16GB and 64GB.) Those two will be available for order on March 24.
Finally, Apple also briefly mentioned new silicon iPhone 7/7 Plus cases in azure, camellia, and pebble, as well as new leather cases in an audacious taupe, sapphire, and berry.
March 20, 2017 4:42 PM PT
So, new Apple products tomorrow, released via press release rather than media event?
John Gruber speculates that a 10.5-inch iPad isn’t coming soon, but thinks small updates to the existing iPad line (which hasn’t been updated in a year) could be coming. Federico Viticci says that makes sense.
It would be interesting for Apple to release updated iPads without an event, but if this is a specs update and there’s no entirely new product like that rumored 10.5-inch iPad, update via press release seems perfectly reasonable.
Will there be an iMac update, too? It’s past due, so it’s possible—especially if it’s also just a minor spec increase with nothing new beyond faster processors. Apple’s media events are a good way for the company to tell its story when it’s got something big to unveil, but people will pay attention to any new product Apple introduces, whether or not there’s an auditorium and a live video stream involved.
Then again, maybe someone just needs to change the oil in the WebObjects server that runs the Apple Online Store, and that’s why it’s going to be offline tomorrow for a few hours. We’ll find out soon.