Turning up the Volume with Apple Music

· Charlotte Henry · Editorial

Britney Spears playing Apple Music Festival

Steve Jobs revolutionized the music industry. Twice. But then Apple went a bit off key. The new Apple Music has it back on song though…Charlotte Henry explains why.

Apple’s Mac Lineup: Judge, Jury and Execution

· John Martellaro · Particle Debris

A woman using Touch Bar on MacBook Pro

This week, there has been a boatload of commentary about Apple’s October 27 “hello again” event. And then Apple SVP Phil Schiller responded in an interview. John takes a look at the most persuasive arguments both for (defendants) and against (prosecutions) of Apple’s approach to the Mac and the event presentation itself. Finally, he offers his verdict.

3 Products with Fatal Flaws (at least for Dr. Mac)

· Bob LeVitus · Dr. Mac's Rants & Raves

Beddi Clock Radio for iPhone

Dr. Mac looks at three newish products that may suit your needs—an app-controlled alarm clock; tiny wireless earbuds; and a canless canned air system—but have one or more fatal flaws for him.

Apple Has Missed the Plot

· John Kheit · Devil's Advocate

MacBook Pro with Touch Bar DJ demo at

John Kheit thinks Apple has lost the plot about what users need in Apple devices, especially with creative pros. He argues that Microsoft nailed it with Surface Studio, while Apple’s new MacBook Pro is a far cry from a pro Mac.

Microsoft Takes Apple by Surprise, Pours on the Heat

· John Martellaro · Columns & Opinions

The contrast between Microsoft’s October 26 event and Apple’s October 27 event has the PC industry in a buzz. Observers who have been diehard Apple fans are casting jealous eyes towards the new Microsoft products. Meanwhile, some observers who have been against Apple for political reasons are making some solid observations that don’t have the traditional earmarks of being self-serving and misinformed. John explores.

Dear Apple: Your Products Are Thin Enough Already. Stop it

· David Chartier · Editorial

Phil Schiller comparing MacBook Pro Thinness at

It is possible to obsess too much over a single tree at the expense of the forest. David Chartier argues Apple has done this when it comes to making devices thinner, and that it’s time for that to stop.

Apple's 'Hello Again' Event Wasn't About the Mac After All

· John Martellaro · Editorial

2016 MacBook Pro

During Apple’s “Hello Again” event, Apple spent an hour and 25 minutes talking about several cool things. The new MacBook Pros are very nice—but they were the only major Mac announcement.  In contrast, the event tagline suggested that Apple would say something important about the “Mac” as a product. Instead, the vacuum persisted and Apple elected to take a stand, instead. on how it sees the MacBook Pro catering to the pro market with the Touch Bar.

Microsoft Just Announced the iPad I Always Wanted - Surface Studio

· John Martellaro · Editorial

Microsoft Surface Studio PC

Microsoft has just announced the Surface Studio, a 28-inch All-in-One computer with a Skylake Processor and a touch sensitive display that tilts. The design, operation and concept of this computer, is basically a giant iPad, the iPad John always dreamed of. His first reaction follows.

Who Wants to Be a Mac Dictator?

· Bob LeVitus · Dr. Mac's Rants & Raves

Old Fashioned Microphone

Did you know that macOS Sierra (and Mac OS X El Capitan) have pretty good dictation built-in at no extra cost? Dictation can be faster than typing and a nice change of pace; discover how to enable and use it in this week’s thrilling episode of Dr. Mac’s Rants & Raves, only here at The Mac Observer!

Anticipation and Joy: Abusing Autonomous Cars For Fun

· John Martellaro · Particle Debris

Autonomous car concept

We tend to think of robots and AI agents as potentially threatening. But when they’re specifically charged with protecting the human passengers in autonomous cars, there could be some serious shenanigans by aggressive drivers. Even abuse. What if one of those autonomous cars, in turn, does something unexpected? John looks at a mind-numbing scenario.

Apple and IBM Partnership: Macs, iOS and Watson Are The Glue

· John Martellaro · Particle Debris

IBM's Watson supercomputer

IBM and Apple have been partnering with each other for some time now. The action continues with Macs finding great favor within IBM. Also, education initiatives continue. Finally, IBM’s Watson has to be giving Apple some big ideas. This has the signs of becoming one of the most productive partnerships ever, amongst former rivals, in the tech industry.

Apple Will Likely Let the 2013 Mac Pro Quietly Die

· John Martellaro · Editorial

There was a time when Apple was into powerful headless Macs for technical professionals. Those who wanted their own multiple displays and great expandability. Lately, Apple seems to have lost interest in that market and focussed on mobility. There is a smattering of hopeful signs, but John Martellaro thinks the Mac Pro is headed for the annals of Apple history.

Did You Get the (i)Message? Tapback, Digital Touch, Apps, and More

· Bob LeVitus · Dr. Mac's Rants & Raves

Turn your phone sideways to handwrite a message.

When Dr. Mac sent his daughter an iMessage with iOS 10’s whizzy new stickers, full-screen effects, and animated GIFs, he was shocked when she replied: “Haha! I didn’t even know you could do all that.” He thinks it’s likely some of you in reader-land have yet to discover the joys of the iOS 10 Messages app. So in this week’s Dr. Mac’s Rants & Raves (Episode #197 if you’re counting) the good doctor offers up a short primer on the interesting new features in Messages.

Thoughts About Apple's Secret iPhone 7 Chip

· John Martellaro · Editorial

FPGA

An intriguing chip has been discovered in the teardown of the iPhone 7. We know that it’s a field-programmable gate array (FPGA), but we don’t know what it’s intended to do. Speculation abounds. John has a SWAG.

Apple Reportedly Scales Back 'Titan' Apple Car Project For Now

· Bryan Chaffin · The Back Page

Apple Car has been Bob Mansfielded, according to a report from Bloomberg. Citing unnamed sources, the report said that Apple has reassigned employees and is focusing solely on developing an autonomous software system. Furthermore, the company’s executive team has imposed a deadline of the end of 2017 to determine the viability of that system. But, Apple Car isn’t necessarily dead, and Bryan Chaffin explains why.

Petition Asks Apple to Bring iTunes Song Ratings Back to iOS [Update]

· Bryan Chaffin · Editorial

iOS 10 Screen for

Duncan Lockard started a petition at Change.org asking Apple to “Put song ratings back on iOS.” I signed it, and if you like song ratings, I’d encourage you to sign it, too. [Updated with additional information on displaying Star Ratings in Songs view.]

What Will We Do When Siri Picks Our Pocket?

· John Martellaro · Particle Debris

Hal9000 eye

A major problem with Artificial Intelligence (AI) development is that a time might come when AI’s are able to learn and teach themselves faster than humans can manage them. Recently, President Obama suggested AI’s that aren’t properly constrained and regulated could be unleashed on unsuspecting citizens and severely disadvantage them. Figuring out when to step in will be the great 21st century challenge for governments.

ACLU Highlights Surveillance State Intersecting with Surveillance Capitalism

· Bryan Chaffin · The Back Page

Spy in the data

Social media as a tool of police or state surveillance is troubling, but it’s a complex issue, too. The ACLU highlighted a situation this week where the surveillance state was meeting surveillance capitalism, and Bryan Chaffin thinks it’s a topic worth discussing.

First Look: 'Portrait Mode' for the iPhone 7 Plus

· Bob LeVitus · Dr. Mac's Rants & Raves

Depth-of-field preview on iPhone 7 Plus screen.

Dr. Mac’s been beta testing Apple’s new depth-of-field effect—which is coming soon to the iPhone 7 Plus (only) real soon. He says it does a phenomenal job of simulating the effect most of the time — so good, in fact, he’s threatening to sell his DSLR.