Taking a look back at another week of news and headlines from Cupertino, this week’s Apple Loop includes a shocking iPhone 13 twist, accessibility improvements in iOS, the latest iPad Pro delay, new iMac review, reporting on Apple in China, iPhone’s Japanese growth, lossless sound for Apple Music, more from Epic Games vs Apple, and Halide improves the iPad.
Apple Loop is here to remind you of a few of the very many discussions that have happened around Apple over the last seven days (and you can read my weekly digest of Android news here on Forbes).
And The New iPhone, Can It Be Pink?
This week’s discussion over the iPhone 13 is not about new features leaking out of the supply chain, but the thirst for a concept render of the handset. Which is pink. While it might seem a bit out there, not only have we seen pink in the line-up previously with the iPhone 5C, but there’s a newfound love of colours in Apple’s newer releases, especially the iMac, Maybe the geekerati are right to dream of pink:
“But still, many Twitter reactions expressed hope (or at least a capitulation to capitalism that one could interpret as buying intent): “Capitalism is bad but the pink iphone is so sexy,” one person tweeted. Another just tweeted “manifesting” between two candle emoji with an image of not only a pink iPhone 13, but a pink Nintendo Switch, too.”
Opening Up The iPhone For All
Apple has announced a number of updates to its devices that will increase the accessibility of the iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch (Apple Newsroom). Improvements are being made to Assistive Touch, VoiceOver, Hearing Aid support, and background noise filters:
“For neurodiverse people (or anyone who likes white noise), Apple is introducing Background Sounds that can be incorporated with other audio and system sounds. They include “balanced, bright, or dark noise, as well as ocean, rain, or stream sounds” that can be set to play continuously and mask distracting or overwhelming noises.”
That iPad Pro May Take Longer To Arrive
Reports of a two-month delay to the new iPad Pro are coming in. The global chip shortage has hit the mini-LED supply chain so the cutting edge tablet (even though Apple doesn’t call it a tablet) with the M1 chip is going to be tough to find in retail stores:
“[The production issues are] …pushing new orders into late June and early July depending on configuration chosen. Apple’s new, similarly M1-powered, 11-inch iPad Pro model with traditional LED backlighting is facing no such issues. Effectively, it amounts to a two month delay or order backlog that will mean getting one in the coming months could be more of a challenge than would otherwise have been the case.”
Notebook Check. Naturally, there are enough iPad Pro units for reviewers. John Gruber goes through a quick history lesson of the iPad, x86 architecture, Apple’s Axx processors, and finally to the M1 tablet in his review:
“The M1 MacBooks and Mac Mini that debuted last November — marking the beginning of the uppercase “s” Apple Silicon era for MacOS — completely reset the dynamics. The Macs, once again, were the fastest devices. With the new M1 iPad Pros, Apple has achieved equilibrium. It’s literally the exact same chip. The iPad Pro has the speed of the Mac and the Mac has the incredible power efficiency and thermals of the iPad Pro. I saw this coming years ago, yet it’s still hard for me to believe.”
Reviewing The New iMac
Can you have such a thing as a portable desktop? That’s Devindra Hardawar’s question as he reviews the new Apple Silicon powered iMac:
“The new case colors also go a long way toward making the iMacs seem more approachable to kids and less tech-savvy users. That was the whole point of the original bubbly iMacs, after all. Those helped set Apple apart from the sea of gray “IBM clones” of the ’90s. Now, it seems Apple is trying to rekindle that sense of fun, after being bogged down by staid silver and gray designs over the last decade.”
Apple And China
Jack Nicas, Raymond Zhong and Daisuke Wakabayashi have examined Apple’s relationship with Chine in a hard hitting report for the NYT. In their words, “Apple built the world’s most valuable business on top of China. Now it has to answer to the Chinese government.”:
“Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive, has said the data is safe. But at the data center in Guiyang, which Apple hoped would be completed by next month, and another in the Inner Mongolia region, Apple has largely ceded control to the Chinese government.
“Chinese state employees physically manage the computers. Apple abandoned the encryption technology it used elsewhere after China would not allow it. And the digital keys that unlock information on those computers are stored in the data centers they’re meant to secure.”
New York Times.
iPhone’s Japanese Growth
Japan is seeing a rapid explosion of 5G device sales – much like other territories- and the iPhone 12 family is getting a lot of credit thanks to a near fifty percent market share ahead of Sharp, Samsung, Fujitsu, and Sony:
“Apple’s iPhone 12 reportedly drove some 11 million 5G smartphone shipments, a 4000% increase on 2019’s 269,000 units. As the best iPhone in recent years and the first to feature 5G, it’s not hard to see why.”
Better Sound, But At A Cost
Apple Music is adding new audio codes to the service that will offer both lossless audio and spatial audio to the service. This will be available to all subscribers at no extra cost, starting in June 2021 (Apple Newsroom), although to get the full benefit you are going to need suitable hardware, and that excludes every one of Apple’s current audio products, even the $549 AirPods Max:
“The problem is, none of Apple’s current mobile hardware or headphones support the ‘Hi-Res Lossless’ capabilities of the update. Apple Music’s new Hi-Res lossless feature won’t work on iPhone 12 (which is capable of lossless at 24-bit/48kHz, but not the higher ranges necessary for the hi-res offering), while AirPods Max and AirPods Pro use the AAC codec, but not the Apple Lossless Audio Codec (ALAC) required for hi-res audio. This means you’ll have to use competing products outside of the Apple ecosystem in order to hear Apple Music at its best.”
Seven Days In Court
This week’s “just one thing” from the Epic Games vs Apple trial is Craig Federighi’s discussion on “significant” and “unacceptable” levels of malware on macOS. It’s a curious line, suggesting that because this product line has issues, another product line can lock itself down:
“Apple’s choice to essentially attack the security of its own software may seem shocking after the company spent years criticizing competing PCs as insecure. But Apple’s now defending its App Store for the iPhone and iPad in a California court, where Epic is asking a judge to force major change. The court is considering whether Apple should be allowed to wall off its phones and tablets, only allowing apps to be installed through its App Store. Epic says that Apple’s approach is too restrictive and that competing technologies should be allowed onto its phones as well.”
The team behind the popular professional camera app for the iPhone, Halide, have brought the comprehensive app over the the iPad. It may be for a small subset of users, but it’s a powerful choice for the group:
“With Halide for iPhone, we set out to build a camera that blends the simplicity of the built-in Camera app on iPhone with the flexibility and power of a professional camera. It features manual exposure and focus, a discrete depth capture mode, file formats like RAW (and now ProRAW), and more. Packing in all these features is one thing, it’s another to do all of this with an eye on keeping it usable.”
Apple Loop brings you seven days worth of highlights every weekend here on Forbes. Don’t forget to follow me so you don’t miss any coverage in the future. Last week’s Apple Loop can be read here, or this week’s edition of Loop’s sister column, Android Circuit, is also available on Forbes.