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This week Jason embraces the iPhone 12 mini and then reboots his complaints about Apple’s focus on Mac security leading to bad user-experience issues. Then we consider the future, as we interpret early reports about new Apple Watch, iPad, and MacBook Pro models for 2021.
By Jason Snell
November 30, 2020 9:00 AM PT
For a while, the slides are of chunky plastic laptops in light gray, dark gray, and black. The G3 iBook appears briefly to provide some needed color.
And then, 12 years into Apple’s portable Mac journey, you see it. You might want to pause the slides for a moment, because the computer on the screen is undeniably a modern Apple laptop. It’s thin (at least for the time) and boxy and sheathed in silvery metal instead of plastic.
When you resume the slide show, silver metallic laptops will alternate with cheaper plastic models for a little while, but during the final decade of slides, they’ll all settle on this one basic design.
It all started with the Titanium PowerBook G4. But Apple still had a lot to learn.
By Dan Moren
November 27, 2020 11:50 AM PT
With an unprecedented three events this fall, Apple has revamped the vast majority of its key products. We’ve seen new iPhones, a new iPad Air, new Apple silicon Macs, and even a new HomePod model and an Apple services bundle.
But even that embarrassment of riches might not be enough to satisfy the most die-hard of Apple fans. After all, what about all the products that Apple didn’t announce this year? You know what I’m talking about—they’re the ones you wanted the most. And yet Apple, in its capricious whims, decided not to release new models.
Probably just to aggrieve you personally.
So, with the end of the year on the way, it seems as safe a time as ever to run down the full, comprehensive list of everything Apple didn’t announce this fall. And I do mean everything. Stand back: the first few rows might get wet.…
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By Dan Moren
November 27, 2020 10:42 AM PT
One of my only opportunities for solace these days is taking walks. I try to get outside every day, not just to close the rings on my Apple Watch, but also because I need a break from staring at screens. My AirPods Pro have become my constant companion on these perambulations, and I really appreciate not only how they let me block out the noise around me, but also that I can use the Hey Siri feature to easily respond to text messages or control music playback.
That said, one thing I get annoyed by using my AirPods Pro is when I need to, say, step into the convenience store to buy something. I’ve gotten accustomed to using Siri to tell my AirPods Pro to pause the audio I’m listening to and then to switch them into Transparency Mode so I can have a conversation without having to pull out the earbuds every time.1
Seems like it should be easier to do this, doesn’t it? Well, thanks to the power of Shortcuts, it can be! I’ve created two simple shortcuts: the first I call Conversation Mode, which both pauses the currently playing audio on my iPhone and switches my AirPods Pro to transparency mode. The second is Back to Audio, which does the reverse: turns on noise cancellation and then resumes audio. (You can download the shortcuts at the links above, though they are easy enough to re-create on one’s own.)
I debated creating a single shortcut to toggle between the two modes, but it proved a little trickier than anticipated to detect the current headphones audio mode, so to keep thing simple, I stuck with the two shortcut method.
Now, whenever I’m stepping up to the counter to grab something I ordered or paying at a cashier, I can just say “Hey Siri, conversation mode.” And, when I’m done, I can tell Siri “Back to Audio” to pick up right where I left off.
It’d be nice if Apple made this an actual option for AirPods Pro, or let you use Shortcuts to automate these features—say, pausing audio when I switch into Transparency mode–but for the moment, these will have to suffice.
- And with my clumsy fingers, sometimes risk dropping an AirPod. 😬 ↩
[Dan Moren is the official Dan of Six Colors. You can find him on Twitter at @dmoren or reach him by email at email@example.com. His latest novel, The Aleph Extraction, is out now and available in fine book stores everywhere, so be sure to pick up a copy.]
This is an M1 Mac show now.
Smart home automations, creativity in the time of pandemic, our Black Friday habits, and the impact of the latest improvements to Shortcuts.
By Jason Snell for Macworld
If there’s a single disappointment in the release of Apple’s first wave of M1 Macs, it’s the lackluster launch of iOS apps running inside of macOS. What should be an amazing unification of Apple’s platforms and a massive expansion of the Mac software base is, instead… kind of a non-event.
Running iOS apps on the Mac can be a little weird, it’s true. But it can sometimes be good. Unfortunately, a lot of interesting iOS apps just aren’t available at all, because their developers have removed them from the Mac side of the iOS App Store.
It’s not a great situation. It needs to get better. Here are some ways that might happen.
Myke and Jason have spent a week running Big Sur on M1 Macs and are here to report back on what the future feels like. Also, HBO Max gives up and plans a streaming release of “Wonder Woman 1984” so everyone but Myke can see it, and Apple pulls a PR move that gives a raise to small developers while enraging its loudest critics.
By Dan Moren for Macworld
The M1 Macs have arrived. The benchmarks are in. And what we’ve seen is nothing less than mind-blowing performance from Apple’s own silicon, compared to the Intel chips that came before. But this, as we know, is just the beginning. The M1 is only the first in a whole family of chips that will be powering Macs from now on.
As impressive as these new processors—and the improvements they bring in speed and battery life—are, some have felt underwhelmed by the new Macs, given that they look pretty much identical to the models they’re replacing. This was by design, of course, to impart a feeling of continuity from Apple’s existing models, assuring customers that fundamentally nothing has changed.
But as we look forward to the next generation of Macs that are no doubt working their way down the pipe even as we speak, it’s time to start thinking about what other features Apple’s unprecedented control over the hardware and software might enable the company to bring to its most venerable product line.
By Dan Moren
November 20, 2020 12:30 PM PT
Calling Apple’s history with speaker accessories “mixed” is probably being kind. In 2006, the company made its first foray with the iPod Hi-Fi, a technically impressive but expensive and ultimately doomed speaker dock for the company’s iconic music player.1 It was discontinued a year and a half later after disappointing sales.
You could be excused for thinking that the original HomePod was the iPod Hi-Fi Reborn. As a speaker, most reviewers agreed it was impressive, but it was very expensive and not terribly capable at anything else. At a time when the market was pushing smart speakers like the Amazon Echo and Google Home (now the Google Nest Audio, what a mouthful), the HomePod’s use of Siri was underpowered, lacking features as basic as being able to set multiple named timers. Despite the tried-and-true Apple strategy of not being first to market, but rather being the best, the company didn’t just walk in and take over.
Unlike the iPod Hi-Fi, however, Apple didn’t cut its losses. Instead, three years after it announced the HomePod, it’s back with another swing: the HomePod mini. Everything about this product seems, well, kind of un-Apple-like. It’s far cheaper than the original HomePod ($99 vs. the $349-eventually-lowered-to-$299 price tag) and features a number of trade-offs from its big sibling, most prominently a scaled down ambition of the sound—arguably the best part of the original HomePod.
For all of that, I’m here to tell you that the HomePod mini is great, and in many ways, better than the full-size HomePod. This is a case where I’d argue that Apple has made the right trade-offs—at least, if it’s goal is to make the HomePod popular.
What’s the best Mac of all time? It’s an impossible question to answer. Yet three well-known Mac commentators all have the same answer.
By Jason Snell
November 19, 2020 11:05 AM PT
One of my favorite episodes of Upgrade is from early in the show’s run, when we spent time critiquing the experience of buying and setting up a new iPhone. I keep coming back to something we said in that episode: Buying a new Apple product should be a day of joy and excitement. (Apple might even call it a “magical experience,” though I wouldn’t.) If you’re paying hundreds of dollars for a new gadget, one you might only buy every two or three years, you really should end the day feeling like a kid on Christmas morning—not someone waiting at the dentist’s office.
To Apple’s credit, the iPhone upgrade experience has improved a whole lot in the last five years. I’ve transferred data to all four of my review iPhone models in the last few weeks and it was smooth sailing. I know that people like to talk about doing a “clean install” and leaving the past behind, as if it was some sort of juice cleanse, but I’m not sure that ever made sense and I really don’t think it makes sense now.…