Apple plans to release a cellular Apple Watch

Mark Gurman writing for Bloomberg:

Apple Inc. is planning to release a version of its smartwatch later this year that can connect directly to cellular networks, a move designed to reduce the device’s reliance on the iPhone, people familiar with the matter said.

Currently, Apple requires its smartwatch to be connected wirelessly to an iPhone to stream music, download directions in maps, and send messages while on the go. Equipped with LTE chips, at least some new Apple Watch models, planned for release by the end of the year, will be able to conduct many tasks without an iPhone in range, the people said. For example, a user would be able to download new songs and use apps and leave their smartphone at home.

Adding to this is John Gruber:

It’s hard to overstate just how big a deal this could be. No mention in Businessweek’s report, though, of the all-new form factor that I’ve heard is coming for this year’s new watches. That tidbit came from an unconfirmed little birdie, though, so I wouldn’t bet the house on it.

New Apple Watch in a new design and at least one model with a cellular connection. I guess T-Mobile’s old 200 MB for lifetime plan would be a good match for this – if it still was around for new customers. Although I’m not sure how much data you’d need on a Watch? I guess streaming Apple Music to the wrist is a feature that could potentially require a lot of data. Let’s hope more carriers will offer pools of data with existing device plans.

I assume, given the limited space, that Apple will ship it with an embedded, non-removable SIM. Which means that at least AT&T customers should be aware that their carrier might decide to permanently bind that SIM to themselves, just like they did on iPads with Apple SIM.

Apples 10,5″ iPad in numbers

Dan Provost on why Apple would release a 10.5″ iPad:

This new 10.5″ iPad would have the exact same resolution as the 12.9″ iPad Pro (2732 x 2048), but the same pixel density of the iPad mini (326 ppi instead of 264 ppi). Crunch the numbers, do a little Pythagorean Theorem, and you end up with a screen 10.5″ diagonal (10.47″ to be precise, but none of Apple’s stated screen sizes are exact). In terms of physcial dimensions, the width of this 10.5″ screen would be exactly the same as the height of the iPad mini screen.

MacBook Pro battery life: Apple responds to Consumer Reports

Apple responded to iMore after finding some issues with their battery test setup:

„We appreciate the opportunity to work with Consumer Reports over the holidays to understand their battery test results,” Apple told iMore. „We learned that when testing battery life on Mac notebooks, Consumer Reports uses a hidden Safari setting for developing web sites which turns off the browser cache. This is not a setting used by customers and does not reflect real-world usage. Their use of this developer setting also triggered an obscure and intermittent bug reloading icons which created inconsistent results in their lab. After we asked Consumer Reports to run the same test using normal user settings, they told us their MacBook Pro systems consistently delivered the expected battery life. We have also fixed the bug uncovered in this test. This is the best pro notebook we’ve ever made, we respect Consumer Reports and we’re glad they decided to revisit their findings on the MacBook Pro.”

Nintendo has no additional content planned for Super Mario Run

Takashi Mochizuki for The Wall Street Journal:

The Mario game, on the other hand, gives players only one chance to pay—the $9.99 charge to advance to the game’s higher levels. A Nintendo spokesman said the company didn’t plan to release additional content, either free or paid.

Nintendo doing what it usually does best: deliver, but not without some annoying pitfalls. This is just one of them. Another one, just for Super Mario Run, is the way the DRM works. Thought about installing and playing the game while staying in a hotel with the all-too-common crappy Wi-Fi? Forget it.

Even if you thought: Hey, I can install the game somewhere on fast Wi-Fi and will be set. No, you’ll have to download another chunk after you started playing. But even after that the game constantly phones back home to make sure you don’t have an illegal copy. And even on a 16M connection this randomly results in an error message.

Then you get to pay 10 bucks to unlock all levels. Something many people managed to be unaware of – despite all the news before it launched – just judging by the reviews in the App Store. I wonder how people will react once they notice this game is instant abandonware?

And don’t get me started about the nowadays usual ignorance when it comes to push notifications:

Tim Cook vs. Bloomberg: How Apple Alienated Mac Loyalists

Yesterday, Tim Cook: Don’t worry.
Today, Bloomberg: Do Worry:

In the Mac’s heyday, people working on new models could expect a lot of attention from Ive’s team. Once a week his people would meet with Mac engineers to discuss ongoing projects. Mac engineers brought prototypes to Ive’s studio for review, while his lieutenants would visit the Mac labs to look at early concepts. Those visits have become less frequent since the company began focusing more on more-valuable products like the iPhone and iPad, and the change became even more obvious after the design team’s leadership was shuffled last year, according to a person familiar with the situation.

In another sign that the company has prioritized the iPhone, Apple re-organized its software engineering department so there’s no longer a dedicated Mac operating system team. There is now just one team, and most of the engineers are iOS first, giving the people working on the iPhone and iPad more power.

Tim Cook: „Great desktops” are coming

Tim Cook in a leaked internal message that TechCrunch’s Matthew Panzarino got his hands on:

The desktop is very strategic for us. It’s unique compared to the notebook because you can pack a lot more performance in a desktop — the largest screens, the most memory and storage, a greater variety of I/O, and fastest performance. So there are many different reasons why desktops are really important, and in some cases critical, to people.

The current generation iMac is the best desktop we have ever made and its beautiful Retina 5K display is the best desktop display in the world.

Some folks in the media have raised the question about whether we’re committed to desktops. If there’s any doubt about that with our teams, let me be very clear: we have great desktops in our roadmap. Nobody should worry about that.

Goes well with this gem from earlier today:

MacBook Pro Launch: Perplexing

Jean-Louis Gassée about the MacBook Pro launch:

With both the RAM limitation and “donglegate” we see self-inflicted wounds, a puzzling lack of storytelling by a company that has a long history of controlling the narrative. Apple was forced to react with labored explanations and admission-of-guilt price cuts days after the late October launch. Experienced Apple executives violated a cardinal rule of selling: Don’t let the customer discover the problem. No product is perfect, so tell it all, tell it now, and tell it yourself. If you don’t, your customers — and your competition — will tell it for you.

He has too many valid points to quote. And while I still think that the 2016 15″ MacBook Pro is still the best computer I’ve ever owned, the battery life leaves a lot to be desired.

No matter what I do, I barely get more than 5 hours on a machine that Apple promises „up to 10 hours wireless web” or „up to 10 hours iTunes movie playback”. It’s nowhere close to those numbers. And that’s me just using Safari, Tweetbot, Slack, iTerm and/or iA Writer.

And today Apple officially released macOS Sierra 10.12.2 (which I’ve been testing for many weeks now). They „fixed” the problem by removing the remaining time indicator for the battery. Apple’s reason to do so is that it wasn’t accurate.

Interesting how this wasn’t an issue for all the years where the actual battery life was in line with Apples numbers. Also: the reported remaining battery life on my MacBook Pro seemed okay to me – it’s just that it’s not anywhere near Apple’s claims.

Here’s a quote from Marco’s post about it:

Or to quote John Gruber:

This is like being late for work and fixing it by breaking your watch.

Oh, and in case you still want to see the remaining time: you can either use Activity Monitor or iStat menus:

Nintendo’s Super Mario Run will require an internet connection

Interview with Shigeru Miyamoto at Mashable:

I learned today that Super Mario Run requires an internet connection to play. What’s the reason for that? Are there any thoughts about an offline mode?

For us, we view our software as being a very important asset for us. And also for consumers who are purchasing the game, we want to make sure that we’re able to offer it to them in a way that the software is secure, and that they’re able to play it in a stable environment.

[..]

Just to be clear: When you say “security,” you mean the risk of piracy, right?

That’s correct.

I think I just lost interest in spending these 10 Dollars.

Best Buy vs. The Apple Store

Jason Fried at Signal v. Noise:

But in the last few years, the stores have really turned me off. I don’t like stepping into them. They don’t make me feel welcome — rather they make me feel like I need a good reason to be there. Of course I have a reason to be there, but I don’t like the fact that I have to declare it upon entry.

At the door you’re often met by a bouncer who asks you what you need and then directs you here or there. “Please wait by that table over there for a guy with glasses and a blue shirt.” And so you go, awkwardly waiting. Not sure if you can leave your station, lest you miss your opportunity to talk to who you were directed to talk to. Then what?

I find the stores packed with so much Apple staff that you often have to break up a conversation between two staff members in order to ask a question. Now I feel like I’m interrupting someone just to buy something.

This is the second time I’m hearing complains about the Apple Store experience in the past few weeks. Previously Casey Liss on ATP #197 made some other remarks about the whole shopping experience at Apple.

His point was about the lack of a separate checkout area, as in you can’t line up in an obvious, well, line to pay for something. This results in a random crowd waiting for someone to serve you.

Sure, the Apple Store app in certain circumstances can make that experience easier, but that’s not always an option.1And you feel like a thief the first few times using it and „just walking out” with a thing.

Sometimes the lack of friction will add more friction somewhere else. Apple removed the dedicated checkout areas and the wait in a line, but what you get in return is an uncomfortable feeling while waiting for a person to finish helping someone else.

References   [ + ]

1. And you feel like a thief the first few times using it and „just walking out” with a thing.