Taking a look back at another week of news and headlines from Cupertino, this week’s Apple Loop includes the iPhone 11’s ugly design, forcing an iPhone upgrade, iPad OS launches, return of the Mac Pro, the mistake of the $999 stand, worries about Sign In With Apple, arrogant podcast changes, and how Apple hides your location.
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).
Ugly iPhone 11 Design Confirmed
Ahead of WWDC (relax, I’ll get to it), thanks to some well-timed leaks of third-party case designs, it’s clear that Apple has decided the best piece of design for their multi-lens cameras in 2019’s iPhones is a huge big square that looks like an Ikea induction hob. Forbes’ Gordon Kelly reports on the stove top design:
So what do we learn? The big takeaway is Apple is indeed fitting the iPhone 11, 11 Max and XR2 (final names TBC) with the largest camera hump in iPhone history. A huge square cut-out exists in the top left corner of all three new models and, while this makes sense for the new triple lens array in the flagships, Apple is still imposing it on the iPhone XR2 despite it having two lenses.
Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering Craig Federighi speaks during the keynote address during the 2019 Apple Worldwide Developer Conference (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
WWDC: A Sneaky Forced Upgrade For Older iPhone Owners
This week’s WWDC saw Apple officially announce iOS 13, and the update to the operating system comes with a sting. While many Apple watchers expected the iPhone 5S to lose support (being the next in line), Tim Cook will remove support for the iPhone 6 in this OS update, and the (now superseded) 6th generation iPod Touch. If you want the latest secure software, you are going to have to buy a new smartphone. Gordon Kelly looks at the sneaky forced upgrade:
In an unwelcome first, Apple has warned iPhone owners that iOS 13 will become the first generation of iOS to drop support for two generations of iPhone: the iPhone 5S and the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Somewhat conveniently, with a total of 220M units, the iPhone 6 range is the biggest selling generation of iPhones in history.
The news was stuck in the small print of Apple’s iOS 13 media page, with the company confirming the release is a “software update for iPhone 6s and later”. Needless to say, Apple decided not to reveal this information on stage during its announcement of iOS 13 at WWDC yesterday.
WWDC: The Launch of an iPad Specific Operating System
One change that – on the surface – looks to be major change. The introduction of iPad OS will give Apple’s tablet range of computers more opportunity to provide a tailor made environment. This will differentiate the iPads from the iPhones, but by creating more OS products, could continue the illation of macOS. Aaron Brown reports:
The launch of iPadOS isn’t that surprising. For years, Apple has been adding new capabilities and features to iOS that were only accessible on iPad, like the ability to run multiple apps side-by-side, a redesign of the Dock, and the ability to split the keyboard down the middle to use two-handed, to name just a few.
Apple iPadOS has a lot in common with iOS 13 (a system-wide Dark Mode for one), but also brings a slew of productivity-focused features that should enable those with an Apple iPad Pro to get some real work done on-the-move.
WWDC: Return Of The Mac
As for the Mac Pro, Tim Cook and his team decided that yes, they would launch it at WWDC. Forget cutting edge artistic design, this is a big silver box, with lots of vents, a ton of cooling, and the ability run with 1.5 terabytes of RAM; a 28-core, 56-thread Intel Xeon processor; and up to four GPUs. With prices starting at $6000 this is not a consumer machine, but a high end workstation for the media industry where the extra productivity offered by a $999 bracket to hold two monitors is actually worth it. Dieter Bohn and Nick Statt report:
As for what Apple expects users to do with this much power, the available demos highlight the usual suspects: film, music, and photo production and editing as well as 3D graphics. “Demo” is a bit of a misleading word in this case, as we weren’t actually allowed to touch the machines or run any kind of real-world tests. But we were able to see the new Mac Pro running software like Logic, Lightroom, and Final Cut Pro X. By all accounts, it seems like even the base version of the Mac Pro is among the most powerful creative production and editing machines Apple has ever concocted.
More at The Verge. That said, the inclusion of the $999 display stand in the keynote may be a rare PR mistake from Apple, given the other awkward changes not put on stage.
The new Mac Pro is displayed during the 2019 Apple Worldwide Developer Conference (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
WWDC: Will You Let Tim Cook Sign In For You?
But if you are looking to the future, then the announcement of ‘Sign In With Apple’ is the one that will raise eyebrows. Apple has made a big push for privacy in recent months, and that was the key benefit being promoted to the WWDC audience this week. 9to5Mac’s Ben Lovejoy has the headline:
Apple offers the option of sharing or hiding your email address with the developer. If you choose the ‘hide’ option, Apple creates a single-use email address for you – used only with that app – and passes that to the developer. Emails sent to that address are then forwarded to you by Apple.
What this means is that any time you want to opt out of emails from that app, you can deactivate the single-use address. Plus Apple already knows which apps we use, so we’re not passing that information to anyone new.
Checking the fine print is where it gets interesting. If developers are using any third-party sign-on serve (typically Facebook or Google) in their app, then they must also offer Apple’s service. That certainly feels like Tim Cook using the dominant positioning of the App Store to force the adoption of the service. Over to Ben Thompson:
Apple is going to leverage its monopoly position as app provider on the iPhone to force developers (who use 3rd party solutions) to use Sign In with Apple. Keep in mind, that also means building Sign In with Apple into related websites, and even Android apps, at least if you want users to be able to login anywhere other than their iPhones. It was quite the announcement, particularly on a day where it became clear that Apple was a potential target of U.S. antitrust investigators.
Apple’s Arrogant Podcasting Change
Despite the cute name, Apple did not invent podcasting (to my mind you’re looking at a mix of Dave Winer for RSS enclosures and Kevin Marks to automate the downloading). Nevertheless Apple acts as if podcasting belongs to Cupertino – this week saw it ram through changes to the categorisation of podcasts that will force all podcasters, developers, and hosting companies to react. James Cridland looks at the dictatorial decision:
Apple’s responsible for nearly 90% of all podcast listens: because Apple’s database powers many other podcast apps, from Overcast to Pocket Casts, Player FM to Castro. All podcast apps have used the original category list. As far as I can discover, Apple didn’t talk to a single podcast app developer before announcing these changes. Every one will have to rebuild parts of their app in response.
…As is clear from the release of this document, and the abject failure of the company to engage with any part of the podcasting community, it’s clear that they believe that they “own” podcasting. They do not.
Apple’s efforts to expand the “Find My…” app beyond your phone, tablet, and laptop, continue. The obvious market space is for small tracking chips that can be added to your Apple account and located from any of your devices. And the code for the first ‘Apple Tag’ is lurking inside iOS 13. Guilherme Rambo reports:
Apple is developing a Tile-like device that can be used to track a user’s personal items using the new “Find My” app introduced at WWDC yesterday. The product is known only as “B389” by the people involved in its development.
Now, the first beta of iOS 13 includes an asset package for a device with the product type “Tag1,1”. This type of asset package is used for pairing devices by proximity, the same way as AirPods and HomePod can be paired to a user’s device. The reference was first spotted by Steve Moser and confirmed by 9to5Mac.
More at 9to5Mac. As to how it works while maintaing privacy, Apple is using the principles of public key cryptography to encode one of your devices locations so it can be passed back to Apple’s servers through other Apple devices without leaking your latitude and longitude. Andy Greenberg explains:
…Apple warns that it’s still a somewhat simplified version of the Find My protocol, and that the system is still subject to change before it’s actually released in MacOS Catalina and iOS 13 later this year. The true security of the system will depend on the details of its implementation, warns Johns Hopkins’ Green. But he also says if it works as Apple described to WIRED, it might indeed offer all the privacy guarantees Apple has promised.
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.