Taking a look back at another week of news and headlines from Cupertino, this week’s Apple Loop includes iPhone 13 production grows, new Wi-Fi 6E features, hiding the iPhone notch, MacBook Pro launch dates, new Magic Keyboard, powerful GPUs for the Mac Pro, and iPad Mini survey, and the promise of a thinner iPhone.
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).
Apple Will Scan For CSAM Images On Your iPhone
Apple has announced the inclusion of “expanded protections for children” to most of its platforms (iOS, iPadOS,macoS, and watchOS). There’s a lot of discussion starting to take place, looking at issues from scanning of private images, wider privacy concerns on how this feature may be extended by governments around the world, Apple’s image as a privacy focused company, the pressure this will put on other manufacturers to include this system “because Apple does it”:
“Apple intends to install software on American iPhones to scan for child abuse imagery, according to people briefed on its plans, raising alarm among security researchers who warn that it could open the door to surveillance of millions of people’s personal devices… The automated system would proactively alert a team of human reviewers if it believes illegal imagery is detected, who would then contact law enforcement if the material can be verified. The scheme will initially roll out only in the US.”
No single link here, this is a pretty wide ranging topic, so I’d start with Apple’s own statement followed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s discussion on the implications of “…a backdoor into its data storage system and its messaging system”, The Register’s highlighting why “this tech has mission creep all over it.”
iPhone 13 Production Grows
With the iPhone 13 launch around five weeks away, Apple has started to build up supplies of the handsets ahead of a retail release nearer the end of September. It has also brought a new manufacturer into the process to assemble the new handsets. Given Apple has upped the order book on the iPhone, this shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise… assuming Tim Cook and his team have got the sales predictions right:
“Chinese electronics maker Luxshare Precision Industry will build up to 3% of the upcoming iPhone 13 series, winning orders away from Taiwanese rivals Foxconn and Pegatron… Luxshare will start building the iPhone 13 Pro — as the premium model is expected to be called — this month, according to sources, a major breakthrough for a company that has never produced iPhones on its own.
Improved Wi-Fi For iPhone 13
Last year saw the iPhone finally pick up 5G to improve the smartphone’s connectivity to the rest of the world.This year, the focus will be on closer connections, with the inclusion off Wi-Fi 6E – which should offer a more consistent experience. MacRumors’ Sam Fathi has an interview with the Wi-Fi Alliance’s Kevin Robinson to find out more:
“Released in 2019, it promises to offer users a more consistent, robust, and reliable Wi-Fi experience that works across a range of devices. Wi-Fi 6E, which on the surface is simply Wi-Fi 6 expanded into the 6-GHz range, was announced more recently in January of 2020.”
Apple Prepares AirPods 3 For September
Alongside the iPhone 13 family, Apple’s traditional September even will see the launch of the third-generation AirPods. The earbuds are expected to support a wireless charging case and a more curved design. They were also expected to launch in April but supply issues hit the product. Presumably the longer lead time has allowed stocks to build up as required:
“Arguably the only tech product which can compete with a new iPhone for attention, the arrival of third generation AirPods will offer millions of iPhone fans some solace after Apple CFO Luca Maestri confirmed that ongoing chip shortages will “primarily impact” iPad and iPhone production ahead of the Christmas rush.”
(Forbes via Dylandkt).
Hiding The iPhone’s Notch
Looking beyond the iPhone 13, Apple’s R&D team continues to work on minimising the impact of the notch that houses the selfie camera and FaceID technology. A new patent describes sliding a portion of the display to cover the sensors when not in use. From the patent:
“”It may be desirable to hide cameras and other input-output devices from view when not in use. Accordingly, the electronic device may be provided with one or more adjustable windows. The windows may be formed in display window regions that overlap input-output devices in the electronic device. For example, a window may overlap a camera or other optical component.””
When Is Your New MacBook Arriving?
At WWDC 2020, Tim Cook announced that Apple would move the Mac platform completely over tot the ARM-powered Apple Silicon chipset. Now we have a better idea on the timescale from Mark Gurman. The M1X MacBook Pros in the next few months, a ‘high-end’ Mac Mini by the end of the year, and both the Mac Pro and the ‘high-end’ iMacs by the end of 2022:
“Looking ahead, Gurman says that the new MacBook Pros with more “M1X” processors are still on track for a release in the “coming months,” while a new high-end Mac mini will come “soon after that.” In 2022, Gurman expects that the iMac will “fully transition by the end of next year” and that a “revamped, smaller Mac Pro with Apple Silicon” is coming “later next year as well.””
Magic Keyboard Is Not For Everyone
The TouchID enabled Magic keyboard that shipped with the iMac is now available to purchase separately. But before you all rush to but the keyboard that does the fingerprint thing, take note… the keyboard only works with Macs carrying Apple Silicon:
“That makes the newly available standalone keyboard particularly useful for owners of the M1 Mac Mini, given that it’s the only M1-based computer that doesn’t include some form of Touch ID biometric security out of the box.”
New Mac Pro GPU
Also going on sale this week for Mac fans are three new high-end AMD GPUs for the Mac Pro, offering significantly more power than the current Vega II cards they are replacing. I wonder how these will fit in with the Apple Silicon ARM-based Mac Pros that will be launched before the end of 2022?
“The new Radeon cards are also a significant expense: the price tag on these upgraded GPU modules ranges from $2,400 all the way up to $11,600, and that’s on top of the Mac Pro’s base asking price of $5,999. So while the ongoing chip shortage and GPU scarcity may have you hungry for a new graphics card, Apple’s new offerings probably aren’t worth the price of admission… According to Apple, these new Mac Pro GPU options will deliver as much as 84% faster performance when using Octane X rendering software, and up to a 23% boost in performance when using Blackmagic’s DaVinci Resolve editing suite.”
The Changing iPad Mini
Apple is currently running a customer survey asking about the size of the iPad Mini screen. It asks about thoughts on the size, which apps are used, and preferences to running in landscape or portrait. Many are remembering the survey where Apple asked about the inclusion of a USB charger in the iPhone retail packaging, and drawing their own conclusions about the potential of a new iPad Mini:
“Rumors abound that Apple is planning a very big overhaul of its iPad mini later this year that could include a new A15 processor and a design overhaul to match the iPad Air and M1 iPad Pro (2021), currently the best iPad models Apple has to offer.”
Apple is set to adopt Integrated Passive Device (IPD) technology, which will allow for thinner components and more space inside the same physical structure. So, will Apple use this to increase the size of the battery, or make the iPhone even thinner? I know where my money is, and it’s not on trying to reach two days of power
“…Apple is expected to significantly increase the adoption of IPD (Integrated Passive Device) in new iPhones and other iOS products, providing manufacturing partners TSMC and Amkor with strong business opportunities. The report further added that peripheral chips for iPhones, iPad and MacBook series are going slimmer with higher performance to allow more space for larger-capacity battery solutions for the devices, with the demand for IPDs to grow sharply in line with the trend, the sources said.”
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.