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Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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Apple execs talk AirTags security, pet tracking

Apple executives Kaiann Drance and Ron Huang spoke to Fast Company’s Michael Grothaus about AirTags, and there were a few interesting tidbits I hadn’t seen elsewhere:

AirTags also have a unique security feature called Pairing Lock, which protects against people who may find your lost item and snatch the AirTag from it to use as their own. Huang likens Pairing Lock to the iPhone’s Activation Lock. “It means that if you lose your AirTag, somebody can’t just pick up your AirTag, re-pair it with their phone, and continue using it,” he says. “This has been really impactful for the iPhone and we think it will be for AirTag as well.”

A lot of attention has rightfully been focused on how AirTags avoid people using them for nefarious purposes1, but as usual, Apple’s considered both sides of the equation.

I’ve also already heard a couple of folks talking about putting AirTags on their pets, which the Apple execs took on:

When I asked Drance about parents using AirTags to track their small children (such as during an outing at an amusement park) or pets (we know you’re up to something shady, Fluffy) she was quick to stress that the company designed the AirTag to track items, not people or pets. If parents would like to safely track their young children, she suggests an Apple Watch with Family Setup might be a better choice.

As for strapping an AirTag to a pet, Drance says, “If people do that, they just have to make sure that their moving pet gets into range of a device in the Find My network” so its location can be tracked.

Welp, that’s not a ‘no.’

Elsewhere, Matthew Panzarino at TechCrunch and Dieter Bohn at The Verge have both written up their hands-on experiences with AirTags.

  1. One point made in a few of these pieces is that the AirTag’s removable battery makes it easy to disable—which is both a good way to disable one that you find with you, as well as a deterrent for it being used to track people. 

Bloomberg: iPadOS 15 to feature major home screen overhaul

Mark Gurman at Bloomberg reporting on what we’ve all suspected: Apple is poised to show off a big update for the iPad at this year’s WWDC.

The company is planning the most significant update to the device’s Home Screen since first launching the product in 2010. Following a similar feature for the iPhone introduced last year, Apple plans to let users place widgets — miniature apps that can display the weather, upcoming appointments, stock tickers and other data — anywhere on the Home Screen. Users will also be able to replace the entire app grid with only widgets.

Widgets were one of the big hits to iOS 14 last year, which made their limited updates on the iPad that much more frustrating.

That said, I think this report is probably lacking some of the nuance of Apple’s implementation (or is looking only at an early build, as Gurman admits). Simply turning your entire iPad home screen into Widgettown feels more like a blunt hammer approach, though perhaps welcome in places.

It seems like iOS and iPadOS currently exist on something of a leapfrog development path. One year, iPad gets widgets in a column on the home screen; next year, iPhone gets widgets anywhere; following year, iPad gets widgets anywhere and lets you turn your entire screen into widgets.

This does hold out hope that iPadOS 15 will be a bigger update across the board, though the report doesn’t mention anything about one of the biggest areas of interest: multitasking.

The iPad Pro needs an iPadOS that’s just as advanced

Harry McCracken, longtime PC World editor and iPad power user, on the disparity between iPad hardware and software:

Ideally, a device’s software and hardware become so symbiotic that you stop thinking about the distinction between them. Over Apple’s long history, it’s achieved that state of zen more often than any other company. However, the iPad—at least in the iPad Pro era—has yet to reach it. The platform consists of remarkably advanced hardware running an operating system and apps that lag in sophistication.

We are all putting a lot of hope into iPadOS 15.

By Jason Snell

The Apple silicon transition reaches the iMac (and the iPad Pro)

Though the products themselves will mostly not be appearing until late May, Apple’s latest set of announcements is now in the rear-view mirror. And I’m struck by how much both the iMac and the iPad Pro roll-outs are really part of the larger story of the Mac’s transition to Apple silicon.

Jon Ternus

The Mac’s transition continues

The new 24-inch M1 iMac is exciting because it’s the first new Mac to debut since Apple unveiled the first Macs running Apple silicon last fall. That said, this feels more like an echo of that event rather than an entirely new chapter in the transition.

Essentially, the M1 iMac, M1 MacBook Air, and M1 Mac mini are the same computer. Sure, there are slight tech-spec variations here and there, but for the most part these four computers will all perform similarly. They’re just shaped differently to fit into different ecological niches.

We might want to get used to this.…

This is a post limited to Six Colors members.

Apple’s latest Apple TV update, our thoughts on the new iPad Pro, whether we customize our hardware, and where our first AirTags are going.

By Jason Snell

New Brydge keyboard has bigger trackpad, supports new iPad Pro

brydge keyboard

On Wednesday Brydge announced the Brydge 12.9 MAX+, a new version of its iPad Pro keyboard-and-trackpad product that converts an iPad Pro into a MacBook Pro-style laptop.

It works with the last three 12.9-inch iPad Pro generations, including the one introduced Tuesday. And even more impressive than the giant trackpad is the fact that this one finally takes advantage of the iPad Pro’s back magnets to attach magnetically, rather than by pushing it into a pair of clips like all previous Brydge designs.

Snap the iPad in and the magnets hold it tight

I got a chance to get my hands on a preproduction model, and it feels really nice. In fact, it feels almost exactly like using a MacBook Pro—except running iPadOS. The magnets hold the iPad Pro securely in place—in fact, there’s a small indented portion on the back that you need to use to push the iPad free when you want to remove it.

I appreciate Brydge’s products because they really provide a laptop feel. As I detailed earlier this year, Brydge’s new firmware makes its trackpad the equal of any third-party iPad trackpad around. It’s not as good as Apple’s own Magic Trackpad/Magic Keyboard firmware, but it’s good.

Does this look like an iPad to you?

The Brydge 12.9 MAX+ is $250. The company’s existing Pro+ keyboards are now $160 and $170. (In comparison, Apple’s Magic Keyboard for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro is $349.)

The details of Apple’s new podcast program agreement

I did a quick skim through the agreement for Apple’s new Podcast program yesterday, but Nathan Gathright took a more in-depth look and picked out some interesting details that I hadn’t caught, including that Apple is offering hosting for the first time, only accepts WAV or FLAC files, and lets you have free trials.

Gathright notes, as I did, that Apple says it can provide transcription—according to my Rebound co-host and podcast industry bigwig, Apple already does this to an extent to enable search and sometimes automatically detect hosts.

By Jason Snell for Macworld

The iPad Pro is a killer machine but its software is killing me

Nobody needed to convince me that Apple’s at the top of its game when it comes to designing iPad hardware. The 2018 iPad Pro was so fast that more than two years later, it can handle more or less anything that you can throw at it. The 2020 iPad Pro was essentially the same speed—and it didn’t matter.

So here comes the 2021 iPad Pro, which is an even more extreme dunk in terms of features. Adding an M1 processor isn’t going to add the same boost as it did on the Mac side, because the iPad Pro was always powered by an energy-efficient Apple processor. But it’s still an upgrade of two processor generations, and that matters. A new display on the larger model allows Apple to set a new standard for brightness and dynamic range. Thunderbolt accelerates the iPad’s connectivity with other devices.

And yet, in 2021, it feels like the same story: Apple killed it on the hardware side, and the software…well, the software lags behind, to put it nicely. Apple built a spectacular sports car, but where are the roads to drive it on?

Continue reading on Macworld ↦

By Jason Snell

Notes on the M1 iMac

The original iMac was all about colors. The first one was blindingly Bondi blue, and the follow-ups all came in various shades and designs. It was a computer you didn’t just buy to use, but to see.

When the G3 iMac left the scene, so did color. The iPod had taken the iMac’s lead and there were colorful iPod models for years, but the next generations of iMac were pale white plastic before shifting to silver aluminum. The Mac was drained of color, with an occasional darker gray or even more rarely, gold.

It’s been two decades since Apple rolled out a line of iMacs in an array of colors, but here we are: The new 24-inch M1 iMac has been announced, and it comes in what my Upgrade podcast pal Myke Hurley called “six colors and not a color.” Green, Yellow, Orange, Pink, Purple, Blue—all colors—and the supreme Apple not-a-color, Silver. One iMac, seven color options. What an embarrassment of riches.

Continue reading “Notes on the M1 iMac”…

By Jason Snell

As usual, the iMac takes it on the chin

Stephen Hackett details the history of the iMac’s chin:

From the front, it’s rather remarkable how little the iMac has changed in nearly two decades. The screen is front and center, surrounded by a bezel with a chin below the display. The whole thing is mounted on a foot that lets a user tilt the entire computer easily.

Now the whole computer is down in the chin. I’m sure Apple would like for it to disappear completely, but as Stephen points out, the chin is part of the iMac’s identity now—and Apple wanted to make the new iMacs as thin as possible.

New iMacs and iPads! The long-anticipated debut of AirTags! Podcast subscriptions! A new Apple TV remote! Ted Lasso’s secret shortbread recipe! Fresh from viewing Apple’s latest event, Jason and Myke break down all the announcements.

By Dan Moren

The fine print: What Apple didn’t talk about

While you’re caught up in the whirlwind of an Apple event, it can be easy to fixate on what’s being said on stage. But with just about an hour of screen time, Apple’s certainly not going to talk about every little detail of its new announcements, which is why we all spend a lot of time combing the company’s website for the little tidbits that it doesn’t talk about. Here are a few significant things that I’ve found so far.

Continue reading “The fine print: What Apple didn’t talk about”…

By Jason Snell

Mars helicopter takes off

In an astounding achievement, a helicopter has flown on another planet. On Monday NASA’s Ingenuity drone made its first flight, rising to a height of about three meters (10 feet) and hovering for about 30 seconds.

The video of the flight is astounding, especially when you consider that flying a drone on Mars is exponentially harder than doing it on Earth. First off, there’s no human to steer—Mars is currently 16 minutes away at the speed of light. Even more notably, while Mars gravity is only one-third of that on Earth, it has a thin atmosphere (equivalent to 100,000 feet on earth) that makes it much harder to achieve lift.

The helicopter is powered by a Qualcomm processor that’s basically a Snapdragon 801 smartphone processor (2014’s HTC One used a Snapdragon 801), as a part of a platform designed for drones. Most spacecraft are powered by processors hardened for the rigors of spaceflight. As a result, they’re based on very old designs and run very old software. Which is why, according to the New York Times, the tiny Ingenuity drone is “packed with more computing power than all previous interplanetary spacecraft combined,” all in the service of autonomously taking off, steering, and landing on Mars.

Emergency draft! In this bonus episode, Jason and Myke predict what will happen at Tuesday’s Apple media event. Will there be new iPad Pro models, and if so, will new accessories accompany them? Will we finally see a new iMac design? What other unexpected announcements might await us?

April 16, 2021

Non-hyperbolic Apple Event predictions and electric cars.

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By Dan Moren

Kindles can at last display book covers on their lock screens

I was frankly flabbergasted to see a post on The Verge this morning, reporting that Amazon has—finally!—added the ability to show the cover of whatever you’re currently reading on your Kindle’s lock screen.

Let me tell you: there was much rejoicing. Users have clamored for this feature for a very long time—even those who didn’t have the Special Offers option that shows ads on the lock screen were stuck with the company’s wallpaper options.

There are, of course, a few caveats to this feature: first, you’ll need to have a supported Kindle device, which includes the Kindle (8th, 10th generation), Kindle Paperwhite (7th, 10th gen), Kindle Oasis (8th, 9th, 10th gen), and Kindle Voyage (7th gen). You’ll also probably need to be on the latest firmware version.

Second, if you do have Special Offers, you’ll need to pay the $20 to remove it from your device.1

Finally, I had to restart my Kindle for the option to show up in Settings > Device Options, and even then it took a couple of lock-unlock cycles for it to show up on the screen. But voila, there it is! It’s almost like a real virtual book now, huh?

  1. The Verge also says that some people have had luck calling Amazon customer support and asking nicely. I just forked over the $20. 

[Dan Moren is the official Dan of Six Colors. You can find him on Twitter at @dmoren or reach him by email at His latest novel, The Aleph Extraction, is out now and available in fine book stores everywhere, so be sure to pick up a copy.]

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