Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Bloomberg: Apple switching Macs from Intel to ARM in 2020 →

Ian King and Mark Gurman for Bloomberg:

Apple Inc. is planning to use its own chips in Mac computers beginning as early as 2020, replacing processors from Intel Corp., according to people familiar with the plans.

The initiative, code named Kalamata, is still in the early developmental stages, but comes as part of a larger strategy to make all of Apple’s devices — including Macs, iPhones, and iPads — work more similarly and seamlessly together, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing private information. The project, which executives have approved, will likely result in a multi-step transition.

On the benefits:

By using its own chips, Apple would be able to more tightly integrate new hardware and software, potentially resulting in systems with better battery life — similar to iPads, which use Apple chips.

And:

As part of the larger initiative to make Macs work more like iPhones, Apple is working on a new software platform, internally dubbed Marzipan, for release as early as this year that would allow users to run iPhone and iPad apps on Macs, Bloomberg News reported last year.

What It Means

This is huge news if true! Us Apple diehards and developers have been speculating for a long time as to the likelihood of this switch. In fact, it has been assumed that Apple has been testing ARM-based Macs for years now, evaluating their feasibility.

It makes sense, since Apple has increasingly been designing and making their own ARM-based silicon much to our benefit. To name the chips to date:

  • A-Series System On A Chip for iOS devices (mainly CPU, GPU, Secure Enclave, Neural Engine)
  • M-Series Motion Co-Processor for iOS devices
  • S-Series System In A Package for Apple Watch (CPU, GPU, Motion)
  • T-Series Co-Processor for Touch Bar Macs
  • W-Series Processor for wireless devices (AirPods, BeatsX, also Apple Watch)

As you can see, Apple has become quite the expert with ARM-based chipsets. Also supposedly in the works is a chip to handle AI tasks — something Siri can only stand to benefit from.

There are many pros to using ARM, as noted in the article. Better battery life and a shared code base for development are huge ones. Plus, Apple would no longer be beholden to Intel’s timeline and delays for new chips, which has caused Apple major pain points. If you’re worried what kind of headache we’re in for if and when the day comes, I’d look at Apple’s track record. They have handled similarly large transitions with relative grace, like when they switched from PowerPC to Intel.

No Easy Task

Make no mistake. Switching to ARM will be no easy task. There will be a multitude of items to address.

Boot Camp, for instance, which allows for dual-booting Windows and macOS, will need to be adjusted. The only reason it works now is because of Apple’s switch to Intel and the x86-64 architecture. Microsoft does have a version of Windows for ARM coming out, but it’s seriously lacking. Unless Apple has some crazy emulation magic up their sleeves, Windows fans may be forced to use this version for now.

Same goes for applications. Apps will need to be adjusted and compiled for ARM, but I’m sure Apple will do everything in their power to make it as seamless as possible for developers.

This news comes at a time where Apple’s software quality is largely being questioned, due to bug-ridden releases in 2017. In fact, Apple is expected to announce new versions of iOS and macOS at WWDC this year focusing on quality and performance in lieu of major new features. This can only be a good thing if they have a massive transition planned down the line.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Kuo predicts Apple Watch Series 4 will have bigger screen, new design →

Benjamin Mayo for 9to5Mac:

With a launch in the third quarter of 2018, Ming-Chi Kuo says the new watches will have a 15% larger display. All Watches to date come in 38 mm or 42 mm screen sizes.

The analyst (who has one of the better track records of accuracy when it comes to Apple rumors) does not say whether the overall chassis will grow in proportion.

It is possible the new form factor incorporates thinner bezels, which would see the Apple Watch Series 4 feature a larger display without making the overall product larger. The report does mention a larger battery capacity which would suggest that is not going to be the case.

I completely forgot to write about this earlier in the week. Slimmer bezels are an easy way to make the screen bigger without increasing the physical body size. I would love to have more screen real estate on my wrist. This would open up new opportunities for Apple Watch and app developers. 1 I bet this is exactly what we’ll see in the new iteration, hopefully with an always-on watch face!

As I said in my Series 3 review, the current design is starting to get a little bit stale, and a new dot crown color isn’t going to cut it this time around. Less bezels/bigger screen would alter the design for the better (think iPhone X). Some folks also think Apple Watch is a little chunky, and they’re not wrong, but many mechanical watches are as chunky if not chunkier. If anything, I feel the rounded rectangle shape makes it seem chunkier than it really is. In other words, I personally don’t care for Apple to make it thinner.

One final thought: I still don’t think we’ll see a round watch face just yet (if ever). While I would love to see the design itself, it just doesn’t make sense from a UI/UX perspective. I wonder if it’s a hurdle we’ll ever surpass.


  1. Anything to reignite the stagnate Apple Watch dev community. 

Friday, March 30, 2018

How Dark Patterns trick you online

Great video by The Nerdwriter on YouTube, providing an overview and examples of Dark Patterns in UX design. As he explains, the term ‘Dark Patterns’ was coined by Harry Brignul. Harry defines them as such:

Dark Patterns are tricks used in websites and apps that make you buy or sign up for things that you didn’t mean to.

Check out Harry’s site for more info. You more than likely will be forced into a Dark Pattern at one point or another. As long as you recognize them, you’ll be better armed to prevail against them.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Facebook reportedly delays home speaker amid data crisis →

Sarah Frier for Bloomberg:

Facebook Inc. has decided not to unveil new home products at its major developer conference in May, in part because the public is currently so outraged about the social network’s data-privacy practices, according to people familiar with the matter.

The company’s new hardware products, connected speakers with digital-assistant and video-chat capabilities, are undergoing a deeper review to ensure that they make the right trade-offs regarding user data, the people said. While the hardware wasn’t expected to be available until the fall, the company had hoped to preview the devices at the largest annual gathering of Facebook developers, said the people, who asked not to be named discussing internal plans.

Good. I hope any device Facebook puts out now will be seen as extremely toxic.

Repeat after me: when it comes to Facebook (and Google), you are the product. To chart the comfortability of having these smart speakers in my home from most to least, it would go: HomePod > Echo > Google Home. Facebook’s would never even make the cut.

Firefox extension 'Facebook Container' limits tracking →

From the Mozilla blog:

This extension helps you control more of your web activity from Facebook by isolating your identity into a separate container. This makes it harder for Facebook to track your activity on other websites via third-party cookies.

And…

When you install this extension it will delete your Facebook cookies and log you out of Facebook. The next time you visit Facebook it will open in a new blue-colored browser tab (aka “container tab”). In that tab you can login to Facebook and use it like you normally would. If you click on a non-Facebook link or navigate to a non-Facebook website in the URL bar, these pages will load outside of the container.

Sounds like a great alternative for those who can’t or won’t get rid of their Facebook. This won’t protect you on mobile, though, where I assume most of Facebook’s traffic comes from.

Key Notes: Apple’s Field Trip event

As if you didn’t hear already, Apple announced a bunch of stuff today focused on education. With an upgraded iPad and new software, Apple presents its renewed plans for tech in the classroom.

An important distinction to make is that the new iPad is not a ‘School Edition’ iPad, if you will. There may very well never be a specific edition aimed at schools until if and when adoption rates spike along with radical education changes. Today’s event is framed as educational, but when it comes to iPad itself, the truth is that it will also be bought by millions of regular people and non-educational organizations. This product still has to be universal. It’s an iPad for the masses that also has benefits for schools, one of which is a price reduction.

Now, the new software on the other hand … that’s where the education piece really comes into play.

Read on

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Redditor builds awesome RFID jukebox with Google Home →

This is just plain cool! Really great ingenuity and design all around. Sure, it’s pure novelty, but what a cool piece for people to play with when they come over. It reminds me a little bit of Hit Clips, a music toy from 1999, but you know, actually useful. You would insert a cartridge that looked like a mini CD case into a Hit Clips player, and it would play about a minute of the listed song. I loved mine and thought it was the coolest thing at the time.

Makes me wonder if there is a way to make this work with Apple Music/HomePod. Maybe through a combination of services like the Apple Music API and IFTTT? I might have to take a look.

More information in the reddit thread.

Friday, March 23, 2018

BOFA: Apple to release ‘foldable’ phone in 2020 →

Tae Kim for CNBC:

Bank of America Merrill Lynch said the smartphone maker is working with its Asian partners on a foldable phone.

“We expect the iPhones this fall to be largely unchanged for the OLED versions although size changes have proved to be a catalyst in the past,” analyst Wamsi Mohan wrote in a note to clients Friday. “Our checks also suggest that Apple is working with suppliers on a foldable phone (that potentially could double up as a tablet) for launch in 2020.”

Yeah, okay Bank of America. Two years seems way too soon for this kind of product. Although, I think this could be where we are headed. Instead of reverting back to the old flip phone days, imagine a perfectly normal iPhone that could transform into an iPad mini whenever needed, with negligible bulk. And people harp on Apple’s obsession for thinness … just wait until we reap the rewards.

IBM unveils ‘world’s smallest computer’ at Think 2018 →

Monica Chin for Mashable:

March 19 is the first day of IBM Think 2018, the company’s flagship conference, where the company will unveil what it claims is the world’s smallest computer. They’re not kidding: It’s literally smaller than a grain of salt. 

But don’t let the size fool you: This sucker has the computing power of the x86 chip from 1990. Okay, so that’s not great compared to what we have today, but cut it some slack — you need a microscope to see it. 

The computer will cost less than ten cents to manufacture, and will also pack “several hundred thousand transistors,” according to the company. These will allow it to “monitor, analyze, communicate, and even act on data.” 

On the left of the above image is 64 of the computer’s motherboards, sitting on the tip of a person’s finger. On the right is one full computer resting atop a pile of salt. Truly remarkable! It almost looks like a speck of pepper.

IBM says it will be able to handle Bitcoin-related tasks (go figure). They also claim this type of technology will be embedded in everyday devices within the next five years. That sounds extremely ambitious and not incredibly realistic to me. It brings to mind Google and Levi’s monumental failure of a ‘smart jacket’ from last year. Either way, this kind of innovation will eventually allow technology to get even further out of our way. Imagine this kind of miniaturization for AR glasses.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

How to create your own HomeKit camera with a Raspberry Pi and Homebridge →

Andrew O’Hara for AppleInsider:

This project was built using HomeBridge. HomeBridge is a lightweight server that runs on the Raspberry Pi and emulates the iOS HomeKit API, bringing support to your own projects or (via plugins) to products that don’t currently interface with HomeKit or Siri.

For those who like to really tinker, it isn’t especially difficult to install HomeBridge yourself. However, we wanted this project to be accessible for anyone, so we’ve provided our own custom disk image for you to use.

The disk image we provide will include a copy of Raspbian Lite (the Raspberry Pi’s operating system), the necessary plugins and components for HomeBridge, as well as a few customizations to make the experience better.

Really great tutorial with a huge bang-for-your-buck factor. I’ve been meaning to try this myself, so maybe this will be just the nudge I need. HomeBridge works very well on my Pi; I use it to control my Nest Thermostat.