Third-party RAM for 27-inch iMac still far more affordable than Apple’s add-on RAM

Tim Hardwick, MacRumors:

To max out the RAM at checkout, Apple charges an additional $2,600, which is like buying another whole ‌iMac‌. Fortunately, the memory in the 27-inch ‌iMac‌ is user-replaceable thanks to the easily-accessible memory backdoor slot, and there are far more affordable options available from third parties.

Third party RAM prices vs Apple’s add-on price:

  • 128GB (4 x 32GB DIMMs): Amazon ($599) vs Apple ($2,600)
  • 64GB (4 x 16GB DIMMs) – Amazon ($269) vs Apple ($1,000)
  • 32GB (2 x 16GB DIMMs) – Amazon ($135) vs Apple ($400)

Same as it ever was. But good reminder for folks ordering the new iMac.

Apple’s kill switch, Charlie Monroe, and a day without business

Charlie Monroe:

On Aug 4, 2020 I woke up to a slightly different world – I had lost my business as it seemed. Full inbox of reports of my apps not launching (crashing on launch) and after not too long I found out that when I sign into my Apple developer account I can no longer see that I would be enrolled into Apple’s developer program – au contraire – it shows a button for me to enroll, which I tried clicking, but only got a message that I can’t do that.

After more investigation, I found out that the distribution certificates were revoked – evidently by Apple as no one else has access to them and I was sound asleep when all this happened. Each macOS app these days needs to be codesigned using an Apple-issued certificate so that the app will flawlessly work on all computers. When Apple revokes the certificate, it’s generally a remove kill-switch for the apps.

I got really frightened as all of sudden, no user was able to use my apps anymore.

This is an interesting read. Clearly, a mistake was made and Apple did apologize.

Do check that alert that popped up when users launched Charlie’s app. That’d certainly make me wonder about the safety of the software I was running.

27-inch iMac gets a major update

Apple:

Apple today announced a major update to its 27-inch iMac. By far the most powerful and capable iMac ever, it features faster Intel processors up to 10 cores, double the memory capacity, next-generation AMD graphics, superfast SSDs across the line with four times the storage capacity, a new nano-texture glass option for an even more stunning Retina 5K display, a 1080p FaceTime HD camera, higher fidelity speakers, and studio-quality mics.

And:

For pros who need to push iMac even further, the 27-inch iMac has a 10-core processor option for the first time, with Turbo Boost speeds reaching 5.0GHz for up to 65 percent faster CPU performance. And when working with memory-intensive applications, iMac features double the memory capacity for up to 128GB.

And:

For GPU-based rendering, editing multiple streams of 4K video, or playing a graphics-intensive game, the 27-inch iMac has more powerful next-generation AMD graphics. iMac delivers up to 55 percent faster graphics performance from its Radeon Pro 5000 series graphics, featuring AMD’s latest RDNA architecture with faster, more power-efficient compute units. And for customers using pro apps that can take advantage of large amounts of video memory for even greater performance, iMac features a graphics option with 16GB of memory for the first time — providing double the video memory capacity of the previous-generation 27-inch iMac.

And:

Apple today also announced that its 21.5-inch iMac will come standard with SSDs across the line for the first time. Customers can also choose to configure their 21.5-inch iMac with a Fusion Drive. iMac Pro now comes standard with a 10-core Intel Xeon processor. Designed for pro users who require workstation-class performance, iMac Pro features Xeon processors up to 18 cores, graphics performance up to 22 teraflops, up to 256GB quad-channel ECC memory, and a brilliant 27-inch Retina 5K display.

That’s a lot of upgrade.

As to pricing:

  • 27-inch iMac starts at $1,799
  • 21.5-inch iMac starts at $1,099
  • iMac Pro starts at $4,999.

Available to order now.

China refuses to accept ‘theft’ of TikTok if US acquisition goes ahead

Good rollup post from Tim Hardwick on the whole Microsoft wants to buy TikTok, Trump wants a piece of the action, China likely to retaliate situation.

You’ve no doubt followed this as it’s unfolded. New to the story is in this Reuters article:

China will not accept the “theft” of a Chinese technology company and is able to respond to Washington’s move to push ByteDance to sell short-video app TikTok’s U.S. operations to Microsoft, the China Daily newspaper said on Tuesday.

The United States’ “bullying” of Chinese tech companies was a consequence of Washington’s zero-sum vision of “American first” and left China no choice but “submission or mortal combat in the tech realm”, the state-backed paper said in an editorial.

Add to that this Daring Fireball post, titled, Major American companies with a consumer internet presence in China:

if China decides to retaliate — and why wouldn’t they? — what company might they target other than Apple? Facebook and Google are already banned in China. Amazon has AWS, which has a fair-sized presence there, but AWS is sort of the anti-TikTok in terms of being consumer-facing. Microsoft would be the obvious tit-for-tat target. But does Microsoft have a neatly bundled consumer presence in China?

If I were the dictator of China, and I was angry about the Trump administration forcing a proud Chinese company like ByteDance to divest itself of TikTok, and I was looking for a way to show that China cannot be pushed around by the U.S., I’d look at iCloud and the App Store, and humiliating the biggest company in the world.

And to add to this thought, this Wall Street Journal post titled, Apple Faces $1.4 Billion Lawsuit in China in Siri Patent Fight:

Shanghai Zhizhen Network Technology Co. said Monday that it is suing Apple for an estimated 10 billion yuan ($1.43 billion) in damages in a Shanghai court, after a court decision in June that upheld the validity of its Chinese patent for a chatbot similar to Apple’s Siri.

And:

As part of the suit, Shanghai Zhizhen, also known as Xiao-i, asked Apple to stop sales, production and the use of products flouting the patent—a category that includes virtually all the U.S. company’s devices.

I agree with Gruber’s take, above. Apple does seem the likeliest target for retaliation. What a mess.

I’ve worn Alexa-enabled glasses for two weeks. They’re driving me bananas.

[VIDEO] Geoffrey A. Fowler, Washington Post:

What do you call it when there’s a little voice in your head only you can hear? A hallucination?

Amazon calls it progress. I’ve been living with its latest talking artificial intelligence product, called the Echo Frames, for two weeks. They’re glasses with tiny speakers and a microphone so you can have your own private conversations with Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant everywhere you go.

This new version of Alexa is much more proactive about chatting — and it has driven me bananas.

According to Amazon, there’s a waiting list to buy these things. I did get an invite, and wrestled with the idea of plunking down $180 to see this brave new world.

Reading/watching this, I’m really glad I didn’t. Don’t miss the video embedded at the top of the article.

Watch SpaceX troubleshoot an iPad issue in space

NASA astronaut Bob Behnken:

“A timeline application on my tablet, uh, gives me a error message that says Safari cannot open the page, and then it’s got a HTML address because your iPad is not connected to the internet,” Behnken reported. “Can you confirm that Wi-Fi is off and AirPlane Mode is on,” asked Menon. Then the NASA astronaut improvised with a go-to troubleshooting step.

Follow the headline link to Zac Hall’s writeup. Scroll about halfway down to watch this all unfold in the embedded video (jump to about 4h16m in).

If your Mac occasionally shows “not charging”

Juli Clover, MacRumors:

Macs running macOS 10.15.5 or later have a Battery Health Management feature to preserve the life of the battery, and occasionally, the Battery Health Management option will cause the Mac to pause its charging for calibration purposes.

And:

Battery Health Management features are available on Mac notebooks that have Thunderbolt 3 ports and that run macOS Catalina 10.15.5 or later. The option improves the lifespan of a Mac’s battery by reducing the amount of time that the battery spends at a maximum charge, which can cut down on chemical aging.

This Apple support document walks through the details.

Demo of Google’s live-captioning for voice and video calls

From the Google Pixel 4a announcement:

Pixel 4a also has Live Caption, which provides real-time captioning (English only) for your video and audio content. New with the Pixel 4a launch—and also rolling out for Pixel 2, 3, 3a and 4 phones—Live Caption will now automatically caption your voice and video calls.

Follow the headline link to watch The Verge’s Dieter Bohn demo this. I’d love to see Apple add a feature like this to iOS and FaceTime. It’d be great for accessibility, in the same way as closed captioning provides an assist when you are watching a movie.

Rene Ritchie makes sense of the iPhone 12 5G mess

[VIDEO] This is a pretty solid walkthrough of how 5G will come to iPhone users (video embedded in main Loop post). Especially useful is the explainer on the differences between FR2 (the super high speed branch of 5G) and FR1 (the flavor that will roll out to the vast majority of users, those not in spitting distance of the 5G towers).

Lots of lingo, but worth your time. 5G is coming.

New ‘unpatchable’ exploit allegedly found on Apple’s Secure Enclave chip

Filipe Espósito, 9to5Mac:

One of the major security enhancements Apple has brought to its devices over the years is the Secure Enclave chip, which encrypts and protects all sensitive data stored on the devices. Last month, however, hackers claimed they found a permanent vulnerability in the Secure Enclave, which could put data from iPhone, iPad, and even Mac users at risk.

Good explainer. A few key points:

  • This vulnerability is permanent. Because the Secure Enclave is embedded in the processor and not patchable, it cannot be fixed on a specific device.
  • That said, Apple has fixed the design itself, starting with the A12. So if you’ve got a device with an A7 through A11, that issue exists on your device.
  • The good news? To take advantage of the exploit, a hacker would need physical access to your device.

Here’s a list of devices that have the Arm A12. If you’ve got one of these, or newer, you’ve got the fix in place:

  • iPhone XS and XS Max
  • iPhone XR
  • iPad Mini (5th generation)
  • iPad Air (2019, 3rd generation)

American Airlines adds free inflight Apple TV+ streaming

Zach Griff, The Points Guy:

Beginning Aug. 1, American now offers free inflight streaming of Apple TV+ shows, an airline spokesperson confirmed with TPG.

This new streaming option is available to every flyer with a Wi-Fi capable device on flights that feature internet access. However, you don’t need to pay for internet in order to stream — you’ll just need the AA app on your phone or tablet or visit aainflight.com on your laptop.

If and when you ever fly again, be sure to download the AA app (or whatever airline you’re traveling on) to your device before you leave. That way you won’t have to pay for internet just to download the app.

If your flight is equipped with seat-back entertainment, you’ll find a selection of Apple Originals preloaded on the screen.

The deal is exclusive to American, and builds on their existing Apple Music streaming deal.

Smart for American, smart for Apple. On Apple’s side, it builds the Apple TV+ brand, builds the exposure and audience for the various shows.

Apple halved Amazon’s App Store fee to get Amazon Prime Video on devices

Mark Gurman, Bloomberg:

Apple Inc. agreed in 2016 to halve its App Store fee for Amazon.com Inc. as part of a deal to put the e-commerce giant’s Prime Video app on Apple’s mobile devices and TV set-top box.

Eddy Cue, an Apple senior vice president, and Amazon Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos negotiated directly on the deal, according to emails released Wednesday as part of a congressional hearing on anticompetitive behavior. The companies agreed to a 15% revenue share for customers who signed up through the app and no revenue share for users who already subscribed via Amazon or elsewhere, the emails showed.

And:

Apple generally receives a 30% cut for the first year of an app’s subscriptions made through the platform. That fee drops to 15% after the first year.

And:

“That is not correct,” Cook said when asked if some developers are treated differently. “We treat every developer the same.”

Discuss.

Gruber: Parsing Tim Cook’s opening statement from today’s Congressional Antitrust Hearing

You can watch Tim Cook’s opening statement (with bonus Q&A) in our previous post, or follow the headline link for some links to the prepared remarks.

With that in mind, take the time to read John Gruber’s walk through Tim’s opening remarks. Long, cogent, and interesting, all the way through.

And, for dessert, take a look at Michael Tsai’s rollup page on Tim Cook’s testimony, with links to various write-ups from our community.

Google One app now lets you backup your iPhone, store photos on Google’s servers

Google blog:

Last year, we launched automatic phone backup for members on Android devices. So no matter what happens to your phone, you won’t lose the important stuff like texts, contacts and apps, and photos and videos. To bring this peace of mind to more people, we’re making some Google One features—phone backup and a new storage manager tool—free for Google users wherever Google One is available. You can back up your devices and clean up your files across Google Photos, Google Drive, and Gmail—all in the new Google One app for Android and iOS.

Two things leap out at me:

First, this feels like a push to expand Google’s pay-for-storage business. You get 15Gb for free, but once you buy into the model, you’ll inevitably want more storage, which means more money flowing to Google, less to Apple.

Second, what are the privacy rules here? I’ve not found specifics yet, but before you go down this road, be sure to read the EULA and know if Google has the rights to data mine your data, or use your photos in any way.

If the storage pricing is better, and if there’s no privacy concerns on your end, this might be a net positive, apply pressure on Apple to lower their storage prices.

Apple Store app now offers iPhone comparisons, new ‘For You’ tab

Juli Clover, MacRumors:

Apple today updated its Apple Store app with a new “For You” tab that offers access to order status, devices, accessory recommendations, services, reservations, and product tips, all in one simple to access place.

And:

There’s also a feature that’s designed to allow you to compare a new iPhone you’re considering purchasing with your existing ‌iPhone‌ so you can see the difference at a glance.

First, note that this is the Apple Store app, not the App Store app.

Second, I’ve not yet gotten this extra tab on my phone, which is running iOS 13, but I did get the new tab on my iPad, which is running the beta of iOS 14.

Phil Schiller, in Reuters interview, says Apple aimed to level playing field for developers

Reuters:

When the App Store launched in 2008 with 500 apps, Apple executives viewed it as an experiment in offering a compellingly low commission rate to attract developers, Philip W. Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing and top executive for the App Store, told Reuters in an interview.

“One of the things we came up with is, we’re going to treat all apps in the App Store the same – one set of rules for everybody, no special deals, no special terms, no special code, everything applies to all developers the same. That was not the case in PC software. Nobody thought like that. It was a complete flip around of how the whole system was going to work,” Schiller said.

And this bit of history:

In the mid-2000s, software sold through physical stores involved paying for shelf space and prominence, costs that could eat 50% of the retail price, said Ben Bajarin, head of consumer technologies at Creative Strategies. Small developers could not break in.

Bajarin said the App Store’s predecessor was Handango, a service that around 2005 let developers deliver apps over cellular connections to users’ Palm and other devices for a 40% commission.

With the App Store, “Apple took that to a whole other level. And at 30%, they were a better value,” Bajarin said.

Back to Phil Schiller:

“As we were talking to some of the biggest game developers, for example, Minecraft, they said, ‘I totally get why you want the user to be able to pay for it on device. But we have a lot of users coming who bought their subscription or their account somewhere else – on an Xbox, on a PC, on the web. And it’s a big barrier to getting onto your store,’” Schiller said. “So we created this exception to our own rule.”

And:

Schiller said Apple’s cut helps fund an extensive system for developers: Thousands of Apple engineers maintain secure servers to deliver apps and develop the tools to create and test them.

This is clearly a hot button topic. Does that 30% cut make the same sense today as it did back in the early days?

And what about the fact that macOS developers can sell their apps through services like Paddle, who takes a much smaller percentage but provides no marketing exposure or security/privacy oversight? Why doesn’t Apple allow this same sort of behavior in the iOS App Store? This would provide developers the same choice they have with the Mac App Store and likely quiet the uproar.

Seems to me, the devil in this model is the critical importance, to Apple, of services revenue. As I’ve said before, Apple is a public company and is beholden to its shareholders. They need that 30% from iOS app sales. I suspect the money it gets from the Mac App Store has never been big enough to be worth the PR black eye it would bring to force that iOS model on Mac developers.

It’d be interesting to see the cost of running the App Store, with all its engineers, writers, servers, all of it, as a cost per developer. Put that cost, side-by-side against the revenue per developer that Apple takes in.

Om Malik: Tech CEOs in DC is a waste of time

Om:

In a few hours, the chief executives of four major technology companies — Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google are going to be hauled up in front of our politicians. I am surprised to see Microsoft omitted from this list, though they should be in here with the big four. They will have to defend themselves from the charges that they stifle competition as a result of their market dominance.

And:

The short version (in case you want to skip reading the piece) — all sizzle no steak. In other words, you could (and should) avoid even thinking about it. You are not going to see the four chieftains say anything that damages their business or upsets the status quo. It is not going to impact the employees or the stocks of these companies. Hell, it is not even a photo-op: the whole non-drama is going to play out on Zoom.

Read the whole piece. A number of hot takes, all worth reading. I’m not convinced these hearings will turn into any meaningful change, especially with an election coming up with the potential to upend all political plans.

AMC Theatres, Universal collapsing theatrical window to 17 days in unprecedented pact

The Hollywood Reporter:

In a stunning reversal, AMC Theatres has struck a historic agreement with Universal that will allow the studio’s movies to be made available on premium video-on-demand after just 17 days of play in cinemas, including three weekends, the two companies announced Tuesday.

The deal — which presently only covers AMC’s U.S. locations — shatters the traditional theatrical window, a longstanding policy that has required studios to play their films on the big screen for nearly three months before making films available in the home.

Key to this deal is that AMC will get revenue from the video on demand showings. In effect, AMC’s theaters will be paid to let someone else show movies.

Will we see a return to normal movie-going behavior once COVID-19 is in the rear view mirror? Or are we seeing a behavior changing milestone in the model of going to a theater to see a movie? I suspect the latter, given the incredible wealth of quality content available on all our excellent screens, available without requiring us to leave our homes.

The Morning Show and the pandemic: Rewrites

Deadline:

When Apple TV+ hit The Morning Show had its Season 2 production stopped by COVID-19, no one rested on their laurels. According to Emmy nominee Mark Duplass, who played beleaguered producer Chip Black, the show is in rewrites to reflect the current global situation—something they also did in Season 1 as a response to #MeToo.

Follow the headline link to read the short interview with Duplass.

Some shows have returned to very cautious production, but most are taking the approach of The Morning Show and using this time for rewrites. I suspect when Hollywood does get the all clear to return to full scale production, we’re going to see a boom in creativity, some informed by the learning that comes along with all the remote collaboration, and some based simply on the massive amount of uninterrupted writing time.

New Apple Store in Thailand: A stunning design

Apple:

Apple today previewed Apple Central World, its second and largest retail location in Thailand. Nestled in the heart of Ratchaprasong, Bangkok’s iconic intersection, the store provides a completely new and accessible destination within the lively city.

Another Apple Store. Another canvas for Apple’s architects. Read on.

Apple Central World’s distinctive architecture is brought to life with the first-ever all-glass design, housed under a cantilevered Tree Canopy roof. Once inside, customers can travel between two levels via a spiral staircase that wraps around a timber core, or riding a unique cylindrical elevator clad in mirror-polished stainless steel. Guests can enter from the ground or upper level, which provides a direct connection to the Skytrain and the city’s largest shopping center.

These words to not do this design justice. Follow the headline link, check out that image. Don’t miss that transparent wrap-around staircase that takes you to the second level. An incredible design.

Definitely on my “sights to see” bucket list.

Black and white version of Spielberg’s Raiders of the Lost Ark, with music by Trent Reznor

Found this on Twitter this morning. Astonishing.

From Steven Soderbergh’s writeup:

I want you to watch this movie and think only about staging, how the shots are built and laid out, what the rules of movement are, what the cutting patterns are. See if you can reproduce the thought process that resulted in these choices by asking yourself: why was each shot—whether short or long—held for that exact length of time and placed in that order?

And:

I’ve removed all sound and color from the film, apart from a score designed to aid you in your quest to just study the visual staging aspect. Wait, WHAT? HOW COULD YOU DO THIS? Well, I’m not saying I’m like, ALLOWED to do this, I’m just saying this is what I do when I try to learn about staging, and this filmmaker forgot more about staging by the time he made his first feature than I know to this day.

Follow the link, watch the movie. That soundtrack is “In Mootion” by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. Fascinating how beautiful this film is, even with the loss of color, dialog, and that amazing score.

Was this used by permission? And, if not, how has it escaped a takedown all these years?

Qualcomm announces Quick Charge 5, charge Android phone from 0 to 50% in 5 minutes

Qualcomm:

The world’s first commercially viable fast charging platform to support more than 100W charging power in a smartphone, Quick Charge 5 is engineered to allow users to charge devices from 0 to 50 percent battery power in just five minutes – representing the fastest mobile phone charging capabilities available.

Compare this to Apple’s fast charge:

Use fast charge with certain iPhone or iPad models. You can recharge your iPhone up to 50 percent battery in around 30 minutes.

That’s a big leap on Qualcomm’s part. Also interesting is that Quick Charge 5 runs cooler as well.

Coming to commercial devices in 2020Q3.

Bowdoin College to provide iPads to all students during pandemic

Bowdoin College:

Students will receive an Apple iPad Pro with available Wi-Fi and cellular data connectivity (activated and covered by the College for those students who have internet connectivity needs), an Apple Pencil 2, and the Apple Magic Keyboard for iPad, which includes a trackpad.

And the teachers?

All interested faculty members and the staff who support teaching and learning will receive iPads that use Wi-Fi only to connect to the internet.

This is great. The college is covering the cost of the cell plan for students with no WiFi access. Well done, Bowdoin.

What to watch for in Congress’ big tech CEO hearing

Gilad Edelman, Wired:

ON WEDNESDAY, AFTER a brief delay, the CEOs of Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple will testify together in front of Congress for the first time ever. Well, sort of: Thanks to the ongoing pandemic, the executives will appear via video, presumably from some bland settings that belie the fact that the group includes two of the world’s richest people. Even so, the event could be historic, with Amazon founder Jeff Bezos making his congressional hearing debut. The theme: whether the four companies, each among the most valuable in history, have built their economic power, or are using it, in ways that harm American society overall.

Remarkable to think that this testimony will include the richest person in the world, commanded to appear in front of Congress.

And this, on Apple:

The case against Apple should be the simplest to follow, and it is likely to revolve around the App Store. App developers have complained—all the way to the Supreme Court—that the 30 percent cut Apple takes of all revenues from its App Store is unfair. They have also accused Apple of discriminating against or ripping off apps that compete with Apple’s own offerings. The CEO of Tile, which makes hardware and software to help people keep track of things like their keys and wallet, has testified that Apple changed its Find My iPhone app to mimic Tile—and then decided to stop selling Tile products in its stores.

Great take on tomorrow’s hearing.

Apple TV+ and Oprah Winfrey announce “The Oprah Conversation”

Apple:

Apple TV+ and Oprah Winfrey today announced “The Oprah Conversation,” a new series that will continue to explore impactful and relevant topics with fascinating thought leaders from all over the world. “The Oprah Conversation” will debut on Apple TV+ on Thursday, July 30.

And:

Filmed remotely and incorporating audience engagement, Oprah will lead timely and intimate discussions with today’s foremost newsmakers, thought leaders, and masters of their craft.

“Incorporating audience engagement.” — I wonder what that means.

First, there’s the question of audience. Surely this can’t be a typical, filmed before a studio audience thing.

And what will the engagement consist of? Will the audience be online, and have the ability to ask questions, a la Inside the Actors Studio?

I’m intrigued.

Watch someone learn to play the guitar, month by month, for four years

[VIDEO] Put in the time and you can learn just about anything. You can learn how to program, learn how to play soccer, learn a new language, learn how to play a musical instrument.

And in COVID times, we’ve got the rare opportunity to lock in, get that focused practice and learning time every single day, no excuses.

This video (embedded in the main Loop post) shows the power of dedication. Skip through it, if you like, or watch the slow evolution. Congratulation, Rachel. You have accomplished something amazing.

My Apple Watch saved my life: 5 people share their stories

Fall detection, aFib detection, encouraging fitness by closing your rings: These three things alone make the Apple Watch a great, ever improving investment, one that can save your life, and have saved many others.

A Sudoku app to rule them all

John Voorhees, MacStories:

Zach Gage has a knack for giving classic games an interesting twist. Sometimes that means turning the rules upside down and inside out like Flipflop Solitaire or Really Bad Chess. Other times, it means removing the tedious and boring parts of games to breathe new life into them, which is precisely what he and Jack Schlesinger have accomplished with Good Sudoku.

Follow the headline link for John’s review. I’ve been playing the hell out of the beta and I can tell you personally:

  • It’s become the number one played game on my iPhone
  • It’s a great way to learn how to solve a Sudoku

Download Good Sudoku for free, $3.99 to unlock the whole thing.

If you are into puzzles, this is money well spent.