Apple’s highly anticipated Mac Pro won’t be released this year

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Mac Pro Release

For years, Apple let its relatively ancient trashcan Mac Pro languish on the sidelines without any updates. Indeed, Apple’s seeming ambivalence with respect to the Mac Pro led many to believe that Apple might axe the product altogether. In turn, a narrative claiming that Apple no longer cared about its demographic of pro users and creative professionals quickly emerged and began to take hold.

In an effort to assure the Mac faithful that Apple hasn’t forgotten about its pro users, Apple last year invited a handful of journalists down to Cupertino where a number of executives — including Phil Schiller — revealed that Apple was working on a brand new Mac Pro design.

“With regards to the Mac Pro,” Schiller explained at the time, “we are in the process of what we call ‘completely rethinking the Mac Pro’. We’re working on it. We have a team working hard on it right now, and we want to architect it so that we can keep it fresh with regular improvements, and we’re committed to making it our highest-end, high-throughput desktop system, designed for our demanding pro customers.”

The news was music to many people’s ears, though Apple, in typical fashion, didn’t provide us with any sort of timeline as to when this new Mac Pro might see the light of day. Indeed, Schiller added that Apple’s Mac Pro team was instructed to come up with something truly great as opposed to focusing on coming up with a product as soon as possible in order to meet some arbitrary deadline.

Consequently, there’s been a bit of speculation as to when Apple’s new Mac Pro will hit store shelves, with some of the more optimistic users holding out for a launch sometime in 2018. Alas, it turns out that anyone eagerly anticipating a next-gen Mac Pro will have to wait until 2019 to see what Apple has been cooking up in its secretive lab.

Recently, Matthew Panzarino of TechCrunch was invited to Apple’s new spaceship campus for an update on Apple’s “renewed pro product strategy.” There, Apple senior director of Mac hardware product marketing Tom Boger said that the highly anticipated machine will, in fact, ship sometime in 2019.

“We want to be transparent and communicate openly with our pro community so we want them to know that the Mac Pro is a 2019 product,” Boger told Panzarino. “It’s not something for this year.”

Interestingly enough, we also learn that Apple in recent years created a team focused solely on developing Pro level hardware and software.

Now, it’s a year later and Apple has created a team inside the building that houses its pro products group. It’s called the Pro Workflow Team and they haven’t talked about it publicly before today. The group is under John Ternus and works closely with the engineering organization.

Moreover, the Pro Workflow Team works closely with creative professionals to ensure that the company’s products more adequately suit the needs of the broader professional community.

“We’ve gone from just you know engineering Macs and software to actually engineering a workflow and really understanding from soup to nuts, every single stage of the process, where those bottlenecks are, where we can optimize that,” says Boger.

“We’re getting a much much much deeper understanding of our pro customers and their workflows and really understanding not only where the state of the art is today but where the state of the art is going and all of that is really informing the work that we’re doing on the Mac Pro and we’re working really really hard on it.”

The entire piece is well worth a read and can be viewed over here. Suffice it to say, Apple has certainly not forgotten about developers and creative professionals.

Apple – BGR

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Apple’s legal problems over battery slowdowns aren’t going away any time soon

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iPhone Slowdown Lawsuits

Apple has to face at least 61 lawsuits that were filed against the iPhone maker soon after the company acknowledged that it slowed iPhones down via software to prevent unexpected shutdowns caused by old batteries.

A report a few days ago said that all class actions may be merged into a single lawsuit in the near future. In the meantime, U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation ruled that all iPhone slowdown lawsuits should be transferred to the U.S. District Court for Northern California.

Here’s an excerpt from the ruling:

These actions share factual questions arising from allegations that Apple included code in updates to its mobile operating system (iOS) that significantly reduced the performance of older-model iPhones. Plaintiffs also allege that Apple misrepresented the nature of the iOS updates and failed to adequately disclose to iPhone owners the impact the iOS updates would have on the performance of their iPhones.

Discovery regarding the engineering of the iPhone and the iOS updates likely will be technical and complex. Plaintiffs assert similar causes of action for false advertising, alleged unfair business practices, trespass to chattels, breach of contract, and unjust enrichment. Moreover, plaintiffs bring these actions on behalf of overlapping putative classes of iPhone owners. Moreover, plaintiffs bring these actions on behalf of overlapping putative classes of iPhone owners. Centralization thus will eliminate duplicative discovery; prevent inconsistent pretrial rulings, including with respect to class certification; and conserve the resources of the parties, their counsel, and the judiciary

More than half of the lawsuits were already filed in the Northern District of California, MacRumors explains.

Apple first confirmed the intentional slow down of iPhones back in December, soon after a Redditor discovered that his iPhone’s speed returned to default after a battery replacement.

The company then introduced a cheaper battery replacement program as well as a new battery management setting that would let users disable throttling. All the while, Apple maintained the idea that it’s not slowing down devices to convince customers to replace older iPhones that may feel slower than before.

Apple – BGR

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Rumors keep mounting as Apple invests more into next-gen MicroLED screen technology

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Apple Watch updates 2018: MicroLED screen

Switching to OLED displays on the iPhone X was a huge change for Apple. The company has been famously prissy about the screens in its devices, and it took Apple years longer than the rest of the industry to make the leap from LCD to OLED for its flagship smartphone’s screen. But although Apple still has some work to do integrating OLED into the rest of its iPhone lineup, new rumors out of Taiwan suggest the company is already looking to the future.

According to Digitimes, Apple is in “preliminary talks” with Taiwanese firm PlayNitride over “cooperation in the micro LED segment.” PlayNitride has just had an application approved to invest $ 17.1 million in a production facility for MicroLED displays, and it seems as though Apple is particularly interested in what the company has to offer.

The report says that “PlayNitride will produce micro LEDs, display modules and panels [at the facility]. Micro LEDs feature low power consumption, high brightness, ultra-high resolution and color saturation, quick response time and long service life. Micro LED displays can be used in smartphones, smartwatches, VR devices and large-size TVs.”

Given the current high cost of MicroLED displays, there are only two applications that Apple is rumored to be looking into right now, and neither of them involve smartphones. The first, and likeliest to happen in the near future, is a next-generation Apple Watch with a MicroLED display, which could make the device last longer and possibly be thinner.

The second, and far juicier, is the possibility of a MicroLED display-powered augmented reality headset. Apple has long stated its interest in AR, and if the company is projecting a two or three year delay until launch of AR glasses, that’s enough time to get MicroLED production going.

This new report lines up with one we saw earlier this week, which said that Apple has already partnered with longtime manufacturing partner TSMC to produce MicroLED displays for future AR glasses. Apple’s interest in PlayNitride’s facility could simply be a matter of hedging its bets, or it could be an indication that Apple will need to ramp up production in the near future.

Apple – BGR

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Are Apple’s rumored new iPhone features Android ripoffs, or revolutionary?

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Apple Touchless Control

After three consecutive years of iterative iPhone updates that included almost no design changes, Apple in 2017 released a completely redesigned iPhone. No, I’m not talking about the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, which recycle Apple’s iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus designs for the fourth consecutive year. I’m talking about the iPhone X, which is a completely reimagining of the iPhone.

Now that the wheel has been reinvented, however, Apple is expected in 2018 to once again release iterative iPhone updates. Things will get a bit more interesting this year if Apple does indeed release two additional new iPhone models alongside its iPhone X successor, but all three phones are expected to feature the same design as the current-generation iPhone X. But if we look a bit further down the road, the company may be working on new iPhone models that are unlike anything we’ve ever seen before from Apple. I first discussed them on Wednesday, but I wanted to quickly revisit the topic following a wave of presumptive coverage from tech blogs.

Bloomberg on Wednesday reported that Apple’s iPhone engineers are working on some pretty interesting things that could hit the market in the not-too-distant future. As I covered yesterday, touchless gesture control features are reportedly being developed for upcoming iPhones, and Apple is supposedly even testing a new iPhone design that is curved instead of flat, like every iPhone that has been released so far.

Now, it’s important to acknowledge that those are the only two facts pertaining to Apple’s future plans that were included in that Bloomberg report (facts is italicized because the report cites only one anonymous source for each of those claims). Everything else was background, filler, or speculation, like the notion that Apple might be considering a curved iPhone design in order to “differentiate design” in a “crowded marketplace.” Coverage on other sites also included no additional facts, only speculation.

There’s nothing wrong with speculation, of course, but a narrative developed on many sites that seems like it could be way off base. The basic idea presented in posts like this one from my favorite blog Gizmodo (other than BGR, of course) is that Apple’s touchless gesture control and curved screens aren’t novel new ideas. Instead, they’re similar to things that were done on Android phones years ago.

This may be true. Apple may be cooking up pointless touchless gesture controls like we’ve seen on earlier smartphones. Apple might also be toying with curved phone designs merely to “differentiate” its phones in a “crowded marketplace.” Does that really sound like Apple, though? Does the company ever really do silly things like just to be different? Would Apple release a curved phone to differentiate itself after seeing that no one liked Samsung’s curved phone in 2013 or LG’s curved phones in 2014 and 2015? That sounds… unlikely.

What am I getting at here? In a word, chill. Until more light is shed on the internal projects at Apple that Bloomberg revealed, we have absolutely no idea why Apple is working on these new iPhone features, or how they’ll tie in with other new iPhone features. As I mentioned in yesterday’s coverage, these two features may actually be releated. Apple has been working for years on all sorts of exciting new tech, including displays with 3D holographic capabilities.

What if Apple is developing touchless gesture support in order to allow people to interact with objects that appear as though they’re floating in front of the screen? What if Apple is testing curved iPhone designs so that the sensors reading these touchless controls can detect gestures performed so close to the display? We don’t know, and we won’t know anytime soon. Until we get more information, however, let’s try not to jump to any conclusions.

Apple – BGR

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Bloomberg: Apple is working on iPhones with designs and features like nothing we’ve ever seen

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iPhone X Plus Release Date

Apple’s tenth-anniversary iPhone X marked the first big redesign on the company’s smartphones since 2014, when Apple finally relented and released an iPhone “phablet” with a significantly larger display. Earlier iPhone models all had screens that measured between 3.5 inches and 4 inches diagonally, even as customers clamored for an iPhone with a bigger screen. The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus would end up flying off of store shelves as a result of the pent-up demand for bigger iPhones, and their sales record would still stand today if Apple’s holiday quarter the following year didn’t include an extra week.

But the iPhone X redesign was far more substantial than the iPhone 6 and even the iPhone 6 Plus phablet. The handset’s iconic home button was completely removed so that the phone could adopt an “all-screen” design, and some fancy internal engineering allowed Apple to extend the display almost all the way to the bottom of the phone. Touch ID fingerprint authentication, which had become a staple that was copied by every other smartphone maker in the world, was also removed and replaced by a new 3D facial recognition system called Face ID.

The iPhone X was indeed a bold reimagining of the iPhone, and it looks like Apple has no plans to stop there. According to a new report, Apple is working on new iPhone designs and new features that are unlike anything we’ve ever seen before from Apple.

Bloomberg on Wednesday issued a new report that may offer some insights into Apple’s plans for the iPhone of the future. We’re not talking about the distant future here, but rather a few years from now. The site has a good track record when it comes to Apple’s unannounced plans, so this may indeed be our first taste of things to come from the most successful consumer tech company in the world.

According to the report, Apple is working on both new designs and new features for its iPhone lineup that are unlike anything we’ve seen before from the Cupertino, California-based company. Bloomberg says Apple is internally developing “touchless gesture control” features that would let an iPhone user “perform some tasks by moving [his or her] finger close to the screen without actually tapping it.”

It’s unclear what exactly would be gained by moving one’s finger in front of the screen rather than tapping it. Apple does have several patents on glasses-free 3D display technology, however, and the company has also been researching various holographic display features. It’s possible that these touchless gestures could be tied to one of those solutions, though Bloomberg’s report makes no mention of holographic displays or glasses-free 3D images. The report does cite one unnamed source as indicating that this technology won’t make its way into Apple’s iPhone lineup for “at least two years,” if at all, so we’ll undoubtedly learn more about it soon.

On the design front, the report claims that Apple is working on curved screens for future iPhone models. Again citing just one anonymous source, Bloomberg says Apple is “developing iPhone displays that curve inward gradually from top to bottom.” This is a curious claim for a few reasons, but the biggest is the claim that Apple is considering the move “to differentiate design in crowded marketplace.” Apple is not a company that has been known to do things just to differentiate its products from competitive offerings.

On top of that, phones with screens that “curve inward gradually from top to bottom” are nothing new. LG released two different smartphones with that exact design, but then abandoned the “G Flex” line due to a lack of interest from consumers.

The only way we could see this rumor making sense is if the curvature of the phone serves an important purpose. For example, if Apple is indeed working on touchless gesture control, a slight curve could help Apple better position cameras and sensors in order to detect movements close to the screen. This is just speculation on our part, however.

Bloomberg notes that the new curved iPhone design and Apple’s supposed touchless gestures are “still in the early research and development stage and Apple could choose to not go forward with the enhancements.”

Apple – BGR

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Apple recently poached Google’s chief of search and AI

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Siri Vs Google

Back in 2011, Apple introduced Siri with a whole lot of fanfare when it unveiled the iPhone 4s. Positioned as the iPhone’s new flagship feature, the iPhone 4s launch itself was pushed back by a few months so that Apple could iron out a few of lingering performance issues with Siri. And though the Siri launch had its fair share of hiccups, Apple’s intelligent assistant has improved considerably over the past few years.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that competing intelligent assistants from the likes of Amazon and Google have seemingly lapped Siri across a number of different performance metrics. While the exact reasons behind Siri’s fall from grace can be debated — some point to Apple’s obsession with user privacy — a recent report from The Information articulated that political in-fighting has been hindering the Siri team for years.

The report reads in part:

Siri’s various teams morphed into an unwieldy apparatus that engaged in petty turf battles and heated arguments over what an ideal version of Siri should be—a quick and accurate information fetcher or a conversant and intuitive assistant capable of complex tasks.

Apple, at the very least, seems to be aware that Siri performance needs to be improved in a fundamental way. Case in point: The New York Times is now reporting that Apple recently hired John Giannandrea, Google’s former chief of search and AI. At Apple, Giannandrea will reportedly head up the company’s machine learning and AI initiatives. And speaking to the importance of his role, Giannandrea will report directly to Tim Cook.

The Times report reads in part:

The hire is a victory for Apple, which many Silicon Valley executives and analysts view as lagging its peers in artificial intelligence, an increasingly crucial technology for companies that enable computers to handle more complex tasks, like understanding voice commands or identifying people in images.

Looking ahead, it will be interesting to see if Siri can eventually make up significant ground as it seeks to catch up to Siri and Alexa. The Giannandrea hire will certainly help and it remains to be seen if Apple will have any Siri performance improvements to divulge when WWDC rolls around this coming June.

As a final point, it stands to reason that Giannandrea will also play a prominent role in Apple’s self-driving car efforts, an initiative that Tim Cook previously categorized as the “mother of all AI projects.”

Apple – BGR

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Apple’s next iPhone display revolution might begin with its mysterious AR glasses

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Apple Watch 2018

The iPhone X is Apple’s first handset to sport an OLED screen instead of LCD, but Apple is already planning a new display revolution for its products, not just the iPhone. Apple is working on MicroLED screens, various reports have said, with a new story claiming that the Apple Watch and unreleased first-generation Apple AR glasses will feature MicroLED displays shortly.

Apple is also said to be developing MicroLED screens that are bigger than the iPhone and could be used in larger devices, like MacBooks.

Apple has partnered with TSMC to manufacture small-size MicroLED screens, Digitimes has learned. The two companies are working on silicon-based backplanes for use in the Apple Watch and the mysterious augmented reality device Apple is rumored to be working on.

The Apple Watch’s MicroLED screen would measure 1.3- to 1.4-inches and will supposedly enter mass production as early as the second half of 2018 or in 2019. The AR wearable device would have a 0.7- to 0.8-inch Micro LED screen, but the glasses do not yet have a mass production date, the report notes.

Because MicroLED screens for the Apple Watch are 400-600% more expensive than OLED ones, only the top-of-the-line Apple Watch version will get it at first.

Apple is also working on large size MicroLED screens built on TFT-based backplanes, which could even be used in products much larger than the MacBook, the report notes. The only thing made by Apple that’s bigger than a MacBook is the iMac, for the time being. These panels should hit mass-production in 2019 or even later.

Recent reports did say that Apple plans to reduce the screen-to-body ratio of future Apple Watch models. It’s unclear whether the change is related to the adoption of MicroLED screen technology. However, MicroLED displays should be thinner than alternatives.

Separate reports said that Apple is planning big changes for the MacBook line starting with 2020, when Intel chips should be replaced with Apple’s own processors. It’s unclear whether such a big revamp of Apple’s MacBook and iMac lines would also include the introduction of MicroLED screens.

Apple – BGR

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Report: Apple’s own chips will replace Intel in MacBooks within 2 years

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Apple MacBook processors Intel

According to a report from Bloomberg‘s Mark Gurman, Apple is planning on replacing the Intel chips currently used in its Mac computers with Apple-designed processors by 2020. The move would help Mac devices work “more seamlessly” with iPhones and iPads, and could potentially be a major stepping-stone along the path to creating one unified operating system for all Apple devices.

Intel shares dropped more than 9 percent following the Bloomberg report.

According to Bloomberg‘s sources, replacing the Intel processors in Macs is just one part of a broader strategy to make Apple devices work better together:

The initiative, code named Kalamata, is still in the early developmental stages, but comes as part of a larger strategy to make all of Apple’s devices — including Macs, iPhones, and iPads — work more similarly and seamlessly together, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing private information. The project, which executives have approved, will likely result in a multi-step transition.

The first step in the transition would be replacing the Intel processors in Apple’s laptops with a chip designed in-house. That step could be complete in just two years, and would give Apple much closer control over the processors used in its laptops. Apple works closely with Intel on processor design and features, but taking the process in-house would give Apple more control, and potentially more of an edge over rival laptop companies.

Apple has increasingly been focused on bringing component design in-house, although its efforts have mostly been restricted to mobile devices thus far. It designs the processors that run the iPhone and iPad, as well as a number of custom chips like the M-series motion co-processor. Apple is already rumored to be working on its own modem chips, some of which it already gets from Intel.

Apple – BGR

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2018 iPad vs. 2017 iPad: Video breaks down how the two tablets compare

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iPad 2018 vs. iPad 2017

Just days after revealing it at a press event in Chicago, Apple has launched its new budget-friendly iPad. At $ 329, it’s tied with last year’s model as the cheapest iPad on the market, but comes equipped with upgraded chips that make it speedier than the 2017 entry-level iPad. But is the performance upgrade enough to warrant a purchase?

That’s a question consumers are going to have to answer for themselves, but over the weekend, AppleInsider shared the results of a series of benchmark tests that put the upgrade into perspective. While the iPads are virtually identical at a glance — from the design to the cameras to the display to the return of the headphone jack — the 2018 model features Apple’s A10X Fusion processor, which is a major improvement over the 2017’s A9.

As a result of this change, the 2018 iPad tops last year’s model in every benchmark that matters. In the Geekbench 4 single-core test, the 2018 iPad was 44% faster than its predecessor. In the multi-core test, the 2018 model performed even better, topping the 2017 iPad by 53%. Watch the full video of the tests below:

The gains weren’t quite as impressive with Geekbench’s GPU test, as the 2018 iPad only scored 23% higher, but in the AnTuTu benchmark, the new iPad was shown to be 38% faster than the old model. 3D Mark’s Slingshot Extreme benchmark came back with the same results, as the 2018 model once again scored 38% higher.

While the 2018 iPad looks identical to the 2017 9.7-inch iPad, it can’t be understated how much faster apps, games, internet browsing and other standard operations will be on the new model. If you’re in the market for an iPad and can’t afford to shell out for the iPad Pro, the new 9.7-inch iPad should be a no-brainer.

Apple – BGR

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Apple brings official support for external GPUs to macOS in new update

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Apple external GPU support

Apple introduced support for external GPUs on macOS High Sierra this week, months after revealing it would do so at WWDC 2017 last summer. Rolling out earlier this week, the macOS 10.13.4 update gives Mac users with Thunderbolt 3 ports the ability to enhance the graphical performance of their machines by connecting a variety of external graphics processors. This can open the door to 3D and VR gaming, even on a relatively weak machine.

Apple lists several supported eGPU configurations on its website, highlighting several AMD Radeon cards such as the RX 570, RX 580 and RX Vega 56. Apple also notes that you’ll need a Thunderbolt 3 chassis to sufficiently power your card, so it’s not as simple as plug-and-play (though that shouldn’t come as much of a surprise).

Apple warns that eGPUs are only supported on MacBook Pro notebooks released in 2016 or later, iMac computers released in 2017 or later, and the iMac Pro. You also need to have the latest version of macOS High Sierra installed on your machine, so be sure to update before you try plugging in an external processor.

Here’s everything Apple says you can do once you update to macOS 10.13.4 on a supported machine:

  • Accelerate applications that use Metal, OpenGL, and OpenCL
  • Connect additional external monitors and displays
  • Use virtual reality headsets plugged into the eGPU
  • Charge your MacBook Pro while using the eGPU
  • Use an eGPU with your MacBook Pro while its built-in display is closed
  • Connect an eGPU while a user is logged in
  • Connect more than one eGPU using the multiple Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports on your Mac2
  • Use the menu bar item  to safely disconnect the eGPU
  • View activity levels of built-in and external GPUs. Open Activity Monitor, choose Window > GPU History.

If you’re at all uncomfortable using an eGPU, be sure to read Apple’s support page before you plug one in.

Apple – BGR

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