Recent Articles By Charlotte Henry [RSS]

Pixel Starships for the Mac

· · Cool Stuff Found

Whilst procrastinating and surfing through the app store on my MacBook Pro I came across a new game Pixel Starships made by Savvy Soda. Unable to resist anything that is a) space b) pixellated and silly, I immediately downloaded. The premise is simple. You are the captain of a starship and you must conduct missions, earning rewards and building your ship and crew as you go. Pixel Starships is fun, silly and totally addictive. If you spent hours playing Clash of Clans or similar on your phone, you will enjoy this. Available in the Mac App Store for free (with in-app-purchases).

Pixel Starships for the Mac

New iPad Pro Means it is Time for padOS

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2018 iPad Pro with USB-C

It is fair to say that Ben Lovejoy from 9to5Mac is a fan of the new iPad Pro, including the “perfection of the rounded corners in the display.” He is increasingly recommending it to non-techies over a MacBook. His one gripe though is that he thinks the iPad Pro needs its own operating system – call it padOS. I can see the case for this. The iPad Pro, in particular, is now so advanced that people are doing an increasing number of high-powered tasks on it. The device needs an operating system that reflects that. As Lovejoy points out, Apple argues against converged devices. So why not add an extra operating system into the mix so that each hardware offering is compatible but has a unique software environment so users can truly enjoy devices to their full potential?

But while the iPad Pro isn’t trying to be a Mac, it is a grown-up device and it needs a grown-up operating system. Not macOS, but rather a tailored version of iOS, designed to take advantage of the additional capabilities of the iPad. What some people have termed padOS.

Xiamoi AirDots - the Latest AirPod Copy

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Xiaomi Air Dots

“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” the old saying goes. If that is true, Apple should be feeling very flattered indeed. Chinese company Xiaomi has become the latest firm to imitate the AirPods with its AirDots wireless headphones. It is not just the name that’s similar. The design of the AirDots shares a lot with the AirPods. They are fully wireless and have a very familiar look charging case. The next generation of the AirPods is thought to use Bluetooth 5.0, and the Air Dots utilise that same technology. In fact, the biggest difference is the price. The Next Web reported that the Air Dots will retail for just $30. Here is a bit of what they make off this copy-cat offering:

It seems like everyone wants to get on the AirPod bandwagon. Apple’s wireless earbuds have proven so popular that shedloads of companies are copying the format and releasing similar-looking versions of the audio gear. The latest in this line? The Xiaomi AirDots. The earbuds have many of the same features as the AirPods. First off, they’re true wireless, meaning there’s not a cable in sight on the headphones themselves. The Xiaomi AirDots also have touch controls on the side of the buds and come with the now standard charging case.

Reuters Looks at Apple's Challenges in India

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Apple India

India is home to a large population full of very tech-savvy. Not surprisingly, Apple is keen to increase its sales there. However, small incomes, high device costs and cheap alternatives are making this increasingly difficult. A good piece of analysis on Reuters reveals that even those in Bengaluru – India’s Silicon Valley, are resisting high-end new Apple devices. To compound the difficulties, Apple faces high import tariffs in India and lost some of its top executives in the country this year. While I suspect that tales of Apple’s demise in India is somewhat premature, there is little doubt the firm faces big challenges to keep the country’s 1.3 billion consumers buying its products. Here’s a snippet:

But in a country where the average per capita income is around $2,000 a year, even the cheapest of this year’s new iPhones, the XR at 76,900 rupees ($1,058), costs twice as much as many of the alternatives. Hong Kong-based Counterpoint Research says that iPhone sales are falling as a result. From three million phones in 2017, sales may sink to two million this year, according to their estimate, the first decline in four years.

New iPad Pro and MacBook Air Now Available in UK

· · Cool Stuff Found

LONDON – The new iPad Pro and MacBook Air are available for UK customers. Currys PC World is offering new iPads from £769 (US$1,011).  The retailer is also offering customers £50 ($66) off the price of the new device if they trade in an older tablet.  The new MacBook Air is also available, starting at £1,119 ($1,472). However, the 256 GB SSD model seems to be currently sold out. Currys PC World is also offering financing options on the new devices.

New iPad Pro and MacBook Air Now Available in UK

New MacBook Air - the "Sushi Knife of Laptops"

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2018 MacBook Air features.

After years of waiting for an upgrade, the announcement of a new MacBook Air last Tuesday was understandably greeted with some excitement. In an 8/10 review of the device, Wired‘s Lauren Goode referred to the slick new model as the “sushi knife of laptops.” She was particularly impressed by the new retina display,  which boasts a 1,440 by 900 pixel resolution, with 128 pixels per inch pixel density. For all the praise, the review does concede that if you’re someone doing high-end graphics work then this is not the machine for you. It also laments the reduced number of ports on the new MacBook Air. Here is a hint of what Ms. Goode has to say:

If you’re someone who builds graphics, edits 4K videos, or processes large photos for a living, the Air isn’t going to cut it. It will, however, handle 15 to 20 browser tabs at once, let you edit photos in Lightroom without any hiccups, and keep ten apps running smoothly at once. I know because I’m doing all of this right now as I type. The memory can also be configured up to 16GB, which gives it twice as much memory capacity as the previous MacBook Air.

Apple Wins Prestigious Award for Device Accessibility

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Apple has been given the Eleanor Roosevelt Humanitarian Award from the Center for Hearing and Communication for its work towards creating accessible products for those living with disabilities. Senior Director of Global Accessibility Policy and Initiatives, Sarah Herrlinger, will accept the prestigious award on behalf of the firm. Given the focus that Apple puts on diversity and accessibility, the award is likely to be a source of pride at 1 Infinite Loop. Indeed, in an interview with the CHC’s Director Laurie Hanin, Ms Herrlinger said: “Our products should reduce barriers so you can do just that, regardless of ability. This work is never done. But it’s exactly the kind of design and engineering challenge Apple was built for.”  AppleInsider rightly notes Apple’s long history with accessibility enabling technology:

The company has for years incorporated accessibility assets like VoiceOver screen reader technology and system-level integration with hearing aids in its iOS and Mac devices, and continues to make advancements toward improving the user experience for people living with hearing loss. In 2016, for example, Apple rolled out AirPods-style streaming and Live Listen support for Made For iPhone hearing aids.

Apple has Good Reasons not to Publish Hardware Sales

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New Mac models drove up quarterly Mac sales

There has been a lot of discussion about Apple’s decision not to reveal hardware unit sales following its earning’s call on Thursday. Investors certainly did not like it and we saw Apple’s stock price tumble by as much as 7% in the aftermath. There is an interesting—if sometimes snarky—piece of analysis on Yahoo! Finance that discusses Apple’s attempts to project itself as a services company, less reliant on hardware sales than it has ever been.  It concludes that this is a transition phase for Apple. Here’s a snippet:

Apple may want to project itself as a services company and want to direct investor attention to the services story and also, how it is a great place for customer satisfaction and security.

But it’s a little hard to sell that story when the services business contributed just 16% of revenue — yes even if that 16% represents a 27% increase from last year after one-time items, and even if that growth rate was substantially higher than the rest of the business.

MacBook Air vs Windows laptop - 10 Years On

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2018 MacBook Air

Back in 2008, the MacBook Air was miles ahead of anything available on the Windows platform. Tom Warren at The Verge says that 10 years on that is no longer the case and that “Apple’s new MacBook Air doesn’t do much to overtake these [sic] latest crop of Windows laptops”. He certainly has a point that last week’s MacBook Air update was “more a refresh than a revolution,” and that there has been a “quiet revolution” in Windows laptops over the last decade. He also discusses how the new iPad Pro has once again changed the tablet vs laptop debate, as iPad sales grow.

Apple’s new MacBook Air won’t drive the laptop market forward significantly, but the iPad Pro is stealthily making advancements. It’s been clear for some time that Apple is prioritizing the iPad Pro over the MacBook as its consumer “computer” of choice, but it was made even clear during Apple’s event earlier this week. Apple revealed it has sold more iPads in the past year than the entire lineup of notebooks from any single manufacturer. “This makes iPad not only the most popular tablet, but the most popular computer in the world,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook.

The Missing Announcements from Apple's October Event

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AirPower wireless charging mat with iPhone X, Apple Watch, and AirPods

Now that we have had a chance to fully digest what was announced at Apple’s event in Brooklyn last Tuesday, it is time to consider what was missing. Over on 9to5 Mac, they note the absence of announcements relating to an iPad Mini 5, AirPower and wireless charging for AirPods, any upgrades to the iMac line, an ECG app in Watch OS 5.1 and updates to the 12-inch MacBook. Few were really expecting new AirPods or AirPower, but other devices had been the subject of rumors, and it was surprising we didn’t hear about at least some of those products at Apple’s “There’s More in the Making” event. Here’s a snippet:

Apple’s October event included the tentpole announcements everyone was expecting: new iPad Pros, a new MacBook Air, and an update to the Mac mini. Many of the smaller updates, however, did not come to fruition.

Perhaps most perplexing of all is AirPower, which was promised as coming in 2018, but is still nowhere to be found. AirPower is also the product with the most confusing future. Does it still exist? Will we see it eventually, but in a different form? Only time will tell it seems.