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Pixel 6 or Pixel 6 Pro? Some real-world guidance that might surprise you

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To Pixel 6 or to Pixel 6 Pro? That is the question.

By now, you’ve no doubt heard plenty about Google’s latest and greatest Pixels. So rather than repeat what you’ve already seen in several dozen other places, I thought we’d focus on a purely practical, real-world comparison for anyone torn between the two Pixel 6 models. I’ve been carrying around both the regular Pixel 6 and the Pixel 6 Pro and living with ’em for nearly two weeks now, and I’ve collected some pretty telling observations that might be a bit different from the more spec-oriented comparisons you’ve pored over elsewhere.

First and foremost, I’d say this: Lots of traditional tech reviews tend to focus on measurement minutia and place the greatest emphasis on numerically driven, objective variables. It’s understandable, as that’s part of the job of the traditional tech reviewer — and coming up with an authoritative assessment is certainly easier when you have consistent variables to add up and compare.

But I’d also say this: That kind of thinking frequently misses the forest for the trees. As an actual tech-totin’ human, the amount of RAM in a phone or the number of pixels in its display won’t mean much for you. All that really matters is what the phone is like to use in your day-to-day life. In contrast to all those objective measures, figuring out which phone is worth carrying is an inherently subjective, experience-based judgment.

And that sort of thinking is 100% what we’re gonna get into here.

[Got a Pixel? Any Pixel? Check out my free Pixel Academy e-course to discover all the advanced intelligence lurking within your favorite Googley phone!]

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

15+ macOS Monterey changes to help you get work done

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Just in time for the public debut of its revamped and updated MacBook Pros, Apple today releases macOS Monterey. Here are some of the key features of this release for enterprise professionals.

Which Macs are compatible?

Announced at WWDC 2021, macOS Monterey is the 20th iteration of Apple’s desktop OS since it migrated to OS X back in 2000. Monterey works on most Macs that are five years old or so, and even some models that are older. The following Macs are compatible with macOS Monterey:

  • MacBook (Early 2016 and later);
  • MacBook Air (Early 2015 and later);
  • MacBook Pro (Early 2015 and later);
  • Mac mini (Late 2014 and later);
  • iMac (Late 2015 and later);
  • iMac Pro (2017);
  • Mac Pro (Late 2013 and later).

Missing in action for a while: Universal Control

Apple won’t be rolling out Universal Control with Monterey on day one. The feature makes it possible to use a single mouse and keyboard between up to three Macs and iPads. The feature supports drag-&-drop between devices and should deliver significant benefit to anyone working across several devices. Improvements in AirPlay mean you can draw or sketch on your iPad and colleagues will be able to watch what you are doing on your Mac; you can also stream video or other assets from your iPad to your Mac, or use the Mac’s own speaker as an AirPlay 2 system.

But Split view is enhanced

While Split View is already useful when working between multiple applications, it has been awkward swapping between different ones in each window. You can now quickly swap one widow for another: just click the green button, select the change windows option and you can select another window from the thumbnails that you’ll see. You can also change a Split View window into full screen using the same green button and both windows will automatically go into full screen, so you can swipe between the two.

Improvements with multiple displays

If you use multiple displays with your Mac, windows will now resize automatically when you move between displays. This works for windows moved between Macs and iPads.

Useful Shortcuts come to Finder

If you do anything at all on your Mac, you’ll spend a great deal of your time in the Finder. One of the most functionally useful Monterey improvements is the capacity to save Shortcuts as Quick Actions, which will save you lots of time automating repetitive tasks.

If you collaborate on work with other Mac users using iCloud, the new Collaboration folder in the sidebar gathers all your shared documents in one place. Each item held in the folder will show you who has accepted an invitation to that file and who last modified it.

And Shortcuts are better

Apple has added Shortcuts to the Mac with an application that lets you build your own and provides you with a library of prebuilt items. This integration extends across the Mac.

The Finder will automatically choose relevant Shortcuts for the item you have selected, and you can run them from the Menu Bar, Dock, Spotlight, via Siri or contextual menus.

M1 Macs can run shortcuts created on iOS devices and existing Automator workflows can be converted into Shortcuts. If your business already uses Automator workflows, Apple says both Automator and Shortcuts will co-exist on the Mac for years. Here’s more info: What’s new in Shortcuts on macOS.

You can take Quick Notes on Macs and iPads

Already available on iPads, Quick Notes makes it super easy to take Notes while working within applications – just type Q+Globe or Fn key to open a. new note, or use a Hot Corner. You can add links to apps, websites, and other items, and these notes will pop up when you open a site referred to in the note. All of these are stored in the Notes app, making them accessible across all your devices.

The Notes application gains Smart Folders, tags and better tools (such as @Mentions) for collaboration within your teams. A new shared folder lets you monitor all your shared Notes.

There are useful Passwords tweaks

Passwords are now available in the new Passwords section in System Preferences. You can also import passwords from other password managers and use the built-in authenticator (also on iPhones/iPads) to generate security codes. Perhaps the most useful improvement for many professionals is better support for Windows – you can now access iCloud passwords on Windows and autofill them in Edge with the new iCloud Keychain for Windows extension.

Reminders gets much better

Reminders gets much more useful in Monterey, which ushers in the improvements in the app Apple has also made in iOS and iPad OS. That means you can tag reminders and use tags to find them again, create Smart Lists, and enjoy improved natural language support.

System-wide translation

Never be lost in translation again. Because translation is system wide in Monterey, you can translate text wherever you find it. Received a short report in French? Select the text, right-click it and choose Translate. You can then copy that text,  change the language, or replace the existing with translated text. Apple has also made it possible to dictate text of any length, rather than the 60-second limit that existed until now.

Machine vision intelligence

Live Text can automatically turn words in any image or online into editable text you can copy and paste across applications. The feature is also smart enough to identify phone numbers, web addresses, tracking numbers, or other items from an image.

Visual Look Up is similar. The feature uses on-device machine learning to identify things such as pieces of art, dog breeds, or landmarks and will then present you with relevant information about what it sees. (Think of it as being like a visual search engine.)

FaceTime plays better with others

By far the most important improvement in FaceTime is support for non-Apple devices using a web browser. That one addition may help the application gain ground lost to Zoom.

Full Keyboard Access

Full Keyboard Access lets you use your keyboard to take complete control of your Mac, no mouse required.

Data protection

Mac IT admins should be pleased that System Preferences now offers a tool to erase all user data and applications from the system, which makes it much easier and less time-consuming to protect corporate data.

Privacy protection

Monterey is festooned with privacy improvements, including a new recording indicator next to the Control Center in the menu bar that not only shows recording is taking place but will also tell you which app(s) are doing so. You’ll also get Mail Privacy Protection and all the recently improved privacy features in iCloud+, including Hide My Email, Custom email domain, and iCloud Private Relay. Two related enhancements include Account Recovery Contacts to help you regain access to your Apple ID if you become locked out, and the new Digital Legacy Program.

Time for Focus

Finally, there’s Focus. This lets you assign times during which notifications can be blocked and goes a little further than the Do Not Disturb feature it assimilated. It does so by providing granular controls, so you may have a Work-related Focus setup that accepts notifications from work apps but blocks all the others. The feature is supported in Messages, which will display a notice to let others know you’re currently unavailable. This should be pretty helpful to remote workers attempting to get actual work done, rather than engage in endless message chatter.

Learn more about Focus here.

Improvements for MDM

A key improvement in Monterey is the introduction of support for declarative device management, which means the device checks itself to ensure it is secure. An improvement in Managed Apple IDs makes it much easier to sign personal devices to corporate networks. Take a deeper look at the MDM improvements here.

There are, of course, other changes; let me know of any productivity-boosting improvements in the OS you come across.

Please follow me on Twitter, or join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.

Copyright © 2021 Softwaretoolapps, Inc.

Got a Pixel? Don’t miss these 8 buried Android 12 treasures

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Well, my fellow Pixel pals, the time has finally arrived: After months of development, mountains of beta releases, and a weirdly empty-feeling tease of a code release, Google’s Android 12 update is finally on its way into our moist, sweaty paws.

Android 12 represents one of the most significant evolutions to the operating system in ages — arguably since all the way back with 2014’s Android 5.0 Lollipop release. And much of that comes down to how the software operates on Google’s own Pixel devices.

Many of Android 12’s most meaningful changes seem like they’ll be exclusive to Pixels, in fact, which represents a pretty substantial shift in what Android even is and what the operating system represents. That’s why I’ve been referring to this as the start of the Android Pixel era — because now more than ever, there’s the Android experience, and then there’s the Android Pixel experience. The latter is where much of Google’s most impressive new magic resides, and as a Pixel owner, that’s the experience you’ll be getting.

Now, you’ve probably heard plenty about Android 12’s most prominent features — the new Material You design, most notably, along with the many less flashy but even more important privacy-related enhancements the software delivers.

But beyond those marquee features lies a treasure trove of tucked-away time-savers, experience-enhancers, and other subtle new touches — some of which will make their way to other Android devices eventually but many of which seem likely to be exclusive to Pixels for the foreseeable future. They aren’t at all obvious, and most folks will never even realize they’re present. But believe you me: They’re well worth your while to uncover.

Here are eight shiny new gems buried on your Pixel as of the Android 12 update. Dig ’em up, try ’em out, and then come sign up for my free Pixel Academy e-course to uncover even more hidden Pixel magic.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

Acronis gets deeper into the Apple enterprise with Addigy partnership

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The burgeoning enterprise Apple space saw thousands of IT admins virtually attend this week’s JNUC event, and the week tails off with news from Addigy and cybersecurity firm Acronis.

Securing the Apple enterprise

Addigy has confirmed that its cloud-based Apple device management tools now integrate with Acronis. This integration means IT can use Addigy to extend Acronis security tools to Mac and iOS systems via Acronis Cyber Protect Cloud. The idea is to bring all this control inside one management tool.

The move reflects continued effort on the part of Acronis to provide tools that managed service providers (MSPs) can use to deploy its cyber protection solutions across the Apple ecosystem. The combination means IT admins can deploy strong security across their devices through a single console.

A new ecosystem needs new protection

We know that Mac deployment in the enterprise continues to climb. Jamf CEO Dean Hager this week pointed out that his company, another Apple management vendor, now serves multiple customers who have deployed more than 10,000 units of Apple equipment across their enterprise.

His company has also claimed that 90% of employees will take a pay cut or change jobs to use the platform they want — and that 62% of them will choose Apple when they can. Acronis and Jamf announced a similar integration earlier this year.

Addigy also stresses growing Mac adoption, saying “at least 55%” of small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) now support Macs in their business.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

The two Pixel 6 numbers that could change everything

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They’re here. They’re really, truly, officially here.

After what’s felt like 47 years of waiting and approximately 994 gazillion unofficial leaks, Google’s Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro phones are out of hiding and on their way into the world.

Well, okay: To be fair, they’ve technically been in the world for a handful of days now — at least, for those of us lucky enough to receive loaner review units for evaluation. I’ve been totin’ the Pixel 6 and its plus-sized sibling around in my dusty ol’ dungarees for nearly a week at this point, and lemme tell ya: Based on these first several days, the devices are every bit as impressive as we’d been hoping they would be.

We’ll save the nitty-gritty of the Pixel-using experience and how the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro differ, specifically, for another day. (Hint: The comparison isn’t as simple and straightforward as you might expect.) Today, I want to talk a bit about the most consequential Pixel 6 revelations of all — actually, two of ’em.

And fair warning: My logic around this might come as a surprise.

The pivotal Pixel 6 numbers

We’ll start with the most obviously prominent Pixel number, and that’s the price: The Pixel 6 is selling for an almost shockingly low $600 in the U.S., in its lowest storage configuration, while the Pixel 6 Pro will run $900 in its base-model option. (The prices do go up from there, but only as a result of increased local storage capacity.) That, if you’ll pardon my French, is gosh-darned cuckoo. For context, Samsung’s current top-of-the-line standard Android flagship, the Galaxy S21, starts at $800 in its smallest available model and goes up to $1,200 for the most premium, plus-sized version — the one that’s most comparable to the Pixel 6 Pro.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

What happens when you put iPhone chips in Macs?

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Ten years after the first Apple-designed chip, the A4 System on a Chip, debuted in the iPad and the iPhone 4, Apple introduced its M1 SoC for personal computers. Launched in November 2020, the ARM-based processor uses the same basic architecture as the A-series chips and powers a range of Apple PCs including the MacBook Air, Mac mini, MacBook Pro, and iMac. Now, with the launch of Apple’s 2021 MacBook Pro models, the hugely praised M1 chip has now been joined by the M1 Pro and M1 Max. 

So what happens when you put an iPhone processor inside a Mac? You end up with the world’s highest performing mass market notebooks that, on paper at least, surpass anything you can get based on Intel or AMD.

But the new processors are decidedly not the same as iPhone chips.

Not an iPhone chip

Look and you can see the difference. While both Apple’s A-series and M-series processors are based on ARM’s reference architecture and build on what the company has learned about chip design, the Mac versions are a different beast. They are not a phone chip in a computer. Certainly it’s the same basic architecture, but developed to be slightly different between the different platforms.

The M1 Pro and M1 Max take the M1’s winning formula and improve it. These chips see Apple introduce unified memory architecture for Macs. That means GPU, CPU, and everything else share the memory pool, which delivers performance benefits, as data doesn’t need to bounce between GPU and CPU memory.

How else are they different?

Most obviously, the Mac chips are larger than the iPhone chips. But they’re different in another way. You see, while iPhone chips are built to deliver performance and battery life by making a compromise between CPU efficiency, GPU efficiency, and energy, the Mac chips take a slightly different direction, making compromises that focus more on performance. (That’s not to say energy isn’t prioritized.)

That’s why you’ll still get performance that’s just as good on a new MacBook Pro when it is using battery power as when you hook it up to the mains. You don’t get that on the high-end gaming systems Apple compares its new MacBook Pro chips to. Yes, some of those machines nudge these Macs on performance, but not by much. AnandTech has one of the best in-depth reports I’ve read detailing deeper details pertaining to these processors.

What about the efficiency cores?

Eagle-eyed viewers will have spotted that the M1 Pro and M1 Max both host fewer CPU efficiency cores than you find in the M1. I think this reflects another design decision on the part of the company: for pro users it was more important to dedicate system cores to performance.

That’s why these Macs are such high-performing machines. The remaining efficiency cores continue to do a lot of low-level utility work, but Apple clearly believes pro users want to get stuff done, and that’s why they focused on performance instead.

Every transistor is precious, and the decision to dedicate more cores to performance reflects that thinking. These designs also reflect decisions Apple’s silicon development teams took years ago.

It’s a thinking that likely illuminates how the company plans to develop Mac processors across the next several years. Apple plans this stuff. It didn’t make the decision to create M1 chips last week — it’s a plan that goes back years.

Why I’ll be searching for the Mac Pro at WWDC

Other than the larger iMac models — Pro and Max — that are now so easy to visualize, it’s the Mac Pro that stands as the next opportunity for Apple to show us what its processor development can do. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman tweets that the Mac Pro will ship in two iterations equipped with two and four times the number of CPU and GPU cores as the M1 Max. That’s up to 40 CPU cores and 128 GPU cores on the high end, he said.

His comment has generated a wave of speculation. The mathematics of his claim suggest Apple’s future Mac Pros will feature dual or quad M1 Max processors. While it isn’t clear what performance we’ll see achieved by putting four souped up M1 variant chips inside these Macs, we know battery life will be no obstacle to performance as they are connected to mains.

We can also speculate the markets these things are aimed at: sci-tech, the highest-end photography and video projects, machine learning development, medicine, architecture, compositing, data analytics, AR development, and experience design… All these uses will benefit from the incredible performance suggested by the chip, particularly on multithreading, with a graphics architecture reinforced by OS-level integration.

This promised leap in Mac performance means Apple’s teams will also be focusing on delivering the system integration the Mac Pros need to fully exploit those chips. In itself that also suggests we should anticipate important APIs for AI, AR, movement, scene, object detection and so forth, all now likely scheduled for announcement at WWDC 2022.

While I don’t really expect the Mac Pro to appear at the developer event (though there will be jubilation if it does), we’ll be able to understand more concerning what those Macs will deliver by studying any enhancements made in macOS then.

Preaching to the choir

In this light, this year’s MacBook Pros and the M1 series chips they contain must be seen as evangelists for that next big leap. As a Mac user who has paid attention to new models since the Performa series, I couldn’t be more excited, because over the coming 12 months we’re going to see what can be accomplished when you tie tightly integrated hardware and software to computers equipped with arguably the best processors in the industry.

I imagine the creative markets will explode into new possibility, and (if claims of AR glasses are correct) new creative opportunity. That’s even before considering M2 series processors, and what happens when Apple makes the move to 3nm chips.

Please follow me on Twitter, or join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.

Copyright © 2021 Softwaretoolapps, Inc.

The two Pixel 6 numbers that completely change everything

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They’re here. They’re really, truly, officially here.

After what’s felt like 47 years of waiting and approximately 994 gazillion unofficial leaks, Google’s Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro phones are out of hiding and on their way into the world.

Well, okay: To be fair, they’ve technically been in the world for a handful of days now — at least, for those of us lucky enough to receive loaner review units for evaluation. I’ve been totin’ the Pixel 6 and its plus-sized sibling around in my dusty ol’ dungarees for nearly a week at this point, and lemme tell ya: Based on these first several days, the devices are every bit as impressive as we’d been hoping they would be.

We’ll save the nitty-gritty of the Pixel-using experience and how the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro differ, specifically, for another day. (Hint: The comparison isn’t as simple and straightforward as you might expect.) Today, I want to talk a bit about the most consequential Pixel 6 revelations of all — actually, two of ’em.

And fair warning: My logic around this might come as a surprise.

The pivotal Pixel 6 numbers

We’ll start with the most obviously prominent Pixel number, and that’s the price: The Pixel 6 is selling for an almost shockingly low $600 in the U.S., in its lowest storage configuration, while the Pixel 6 Pro will run $900 in its base-model option. (The prices do go up from there, but only as a result of increased local storage capacity.) That, if you’ll pardon my French, is gosh-darned cuckoo. For context, Samsung’s current top-of-the-line standard Android flagship, the Galaxy S21, starts at $800 in its smallest available model and goes up to $1,200 for the most premium, plus-sized version — the one that’s most comparable to the Pixel 6 Pro.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

JNUC 21 brings major security and deployment improvements to Apple enterprise

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Hot on the heels of Apple’s MacBook Pro launch, the world’s biggest (virtual) gathering of Apple admins is beginning with a raft of announcements from Jamf, including solutions to secure remote working, accelerate deployments and more.

The big event for Apple IT

The 2021 Jamf Nation User Conference, a virtual event, will host over 10,000 Apple administrators from across the enterprise, healthcare, and education. The company now has over 57,000 customers, and its software is used to manage more than 25 million Apple devices, the company said.

“I think ten years ago Windows led in market share,” Jamf CEO Dean Hager told me. “Now, if you look at the U.S., Windows is around 32%.”

According to Statcounter, Windows had about a 75% share of the US market at the end of 2011 and has 31% today. Apple’s iOS and macOS together account for over 40% share in the US. And IDC recently claimed a 23% macOS share in US enterprise IT.

Part of the reason for this change is the expansion of employee choice hardware provisioning schemes across businesses.

“In this day and age, employees have a choice,” Hager told me. “If they don’t like the work computer, they’re going to do their work on their own machine. And as a result, you’re going to be less secure as an organisation.”

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

Apple’s new MacBook Pros leapfrog the competition

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In all my years of Apple reporting, I’ve never seen a change of this magnitude for the Mac.

Since I first began reporting on Apple’s business in 1999, I’ve watched as Apple tried really hard to explain the good points of each iteration of the old G-series Macs. I was pleased at the performance gains the Mac got with the Intel chip. But this? This is something quite different.

Probably the best notebooks in the world

At its October 18 Unleashed event, Apple announced its all-new MacBook Pro lineup. Available in two sizes, 14-inch and 16-inch, the new systems are powered by the company’s proprietary M1 Max and M1 Pro processors, which build on the M1 System on a Chip (SoC) introduced last year.

Apple says these Macs deliver GPU performance that’s equivalent to the best available high-end PC laptop, but use an astonishing 100 watts less power. Benedict Evans (no relation) noticed that these new Macs will carry a chip that itself has twice as many transistors as all the CPUs the company shipped in 1984.

With up to 21 hours battery life.

What this means is that you can take these powerful systems anywhere, engage in the most demanding computational tasks, and there is a pretty good chance you’ll still have enough power to place a FaceTime call (using the much-improved webcam) to the family before you spend the next couple of hours kicking back to watch Foundation again on the way home.

If you need a quick power boost, the new Macs support Fast Charging, which means you can charge them to 50% power in just 30 minutes. For business users, that’s just about long enough to enjoy a little food and a refreshing drink in the airport lounge while waiting for your flight. For people working in the most demanding situations, that Fast Charge facility will be critical in some scenarios.

But the best thing about these Macs is performance, not battery life.

Reprising just some of the data

During Apple’s event I extracted a few data points:

  • The new 5nm chips have up to 70% faster CPU performance than the M1 chip.
  • The GPU in the M1 Pro is up to 2 times faster than the M1. It’s 4 times faster in the M1 Max.
  • You get up to 8TB storage and up to 64GB memory.
  • The M1 Max gets a 10-core CPU, and the M1 Pro either an 8-core or a 10-core.
  • You get up to a 16-core GPU in the M1 Pro and up to a 32-core GPU in the M1 Max.
  • You get up to 200GB/s memory bandwidth on the M1 Pro and up to 400GB/s memory bandwidth on the M1 Max.
  • Both chips boast a 16-core Neural Engine.
  • You can support up to two external displays on the Pro, or four on the Max.

TL;DR? Apple has leapfrogged Intel and AMD with these chips.

“The advent of Apple Silicon has been a shot in the arm for the MacBook lineup, and today’s announcement underlines Apple’s determination to accelerate the growth of its laptop business,” said Ben Wood, CMO and Chief Analyst at CCS Insight. “The performance of the M1 chip in MacBook products released to date is a major endorsement of Apple’s investment in custom silicon. The M1 Pro and the M1 Max chips take this to new levels with further improvements in performance and battery life.”

The 14-inch models cost $1,999 or $2,499 and carry the M1 Pro chip. You can pop an M1 Max chip inside for up to $700 more.

The 16-inch models cost from $2,499 to $3,499. There are two M1 Pro configurations and one with the M1 Max. There are a bevy of build-to-order options, but you can pop a high-end M1 Max in the entry-level model for an extra $400.

You can read Apple’s press releases here and here, and its tech stuff right here.

A remarkable upgrade

But I don’t see the sense in reprising too much data you can find elsewhere.

That data will tell you what I’m saying to you now: These Macs are the most remarkable upgrade I’ve seen yet from Apple (and the Mac Pro is still to come, so…) and there is nothing on the market that competes with them when you combine up-front costs and TCO. I stand to be corrected on that, but I think this is what we’re about to find out.

You’ll also get a Liquid Retina XDR display.

Don’t let that data point slip by you — it effectively means Apple has just put one of those reference displays that used to cost $40,000+ inside a notebook Mac that costs a fraction of that. (For reference, Apple introduced the 32-inch Pro Display XDR alongside the Mac Pro at WWDC June 2019. I was there. I saw about six reference display systems that cost tens of thousands of dollars side-by-side. I know — because I’ve seen them — how good Apple’s Pro Display XDR is in comparison.)

Now it’s in a Mac you can carry under one arm.

(I can’t promise the screen brightness is equal, as we’ve not seen the comparisons yet.)

Raising the bar

Don’t get me wrong. I was blown away, too, by the Intel i9 16-inch MacBook Pro in 2019. I called it “absolutely the most capable Apple notebook I’ve ever used.” So it must be worth observing that these new Mac iterations deliver four times the graphic performance of those machines.

That’s not just for gaming. Enterprise users will exploit the potential of these Macs for everything from machine learning to high-end graphics design, scientific research to computational physics.

Does anyone else out there recall when Steve Jobs spoke up for the Xserve and praised the 15 gigaflops of performance that machine delivered? The M1 Macs already bring us many times that. The M1 Max and Pro deliver even more.

Bottom line? Enterprise users need to know that if you want to get some work done, these Macs are far more than capable of getting that work done for you. Probably for the next few years. Because that’s the thing, you see: When you pimp out product with this kind of power, efficiency, and performance, you’re also future-proofing the investment.

I predict these Macs are going to have strong second-user future for many years to come, because even in five or more years’ time they will still be better to use than most entry-level PCs.

Looking ahead

We just saw Apple launch new Macs that — on paper at least — promise an enormous leap in power and performance. That means these machines should deliver immediate productivity advantages to anyone using software optimized for the new chips.

“These products add to the biggest hardware cycle (with iPhone 13 leading the pack) at Apple in roughly a decade and remains a major growth catalyst for the story heading into 2022,” said Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives, as reported by PED30.

Since nobody has one yet (*sigh*), we don’t know how well these systems will perform in the real world — I doubt many outside Apple do. We also don’t know if these systems will outperform high-end PC desktops, but they probably will. We will need to wait on those real-world performance tests.

Perhaps the biggest immediate endorsement for this event is the 10% uptick in AAPL stock price as analysts look at these Mac beasts and see Big Mac Sales ahead.

Based on what we’ve been told, these Macs deliver a step change in performance that will make them the world’s most popular systems among those who want to get things done. They look good, have plenty of interconnects (including MagSafe, which doesn’t wreck your Mac if accidentally pulled out), and will run all your enterprise iOS apps — that’s even before you stop to consider the vast security benefits Apple has built into these machines.

“Organizations need to be willing to look at employee productivity and preferences, and the fact that Apple is continuing to advance its tools to give users what they need to get their jobs done well and in their preferred manner is only proving that they’re listening and making changes every day to be the number one device ecosystem in the enterprise,” said Jamf CEO, Dean Hager.

If your company runs an employee choice hardware program, don’t be too surprised to see a few of these being picked up. If your company doesn’t run one, then your staffers are probably going to wish you would.

Please follow me on Twitter, or join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.

Copyright © 2021 Softwaretoolapps, Inc.

Experts call Apple’s CSAM scheme ‘a dangerous technology’

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Apple’s decision to postpone introduction of its controversial client-side scanning (CSS) CSAM-detection system looks like an even better idea amid news governments already want to use the controversial tools for other forms of surveillance.

A ‘dangerous technology’

In a new report, an influential group of 14 internationally reputed security researchers have said such plans represent a “dangerous technology” that expands state surveillance powers. They warn the client-side scanning system, if used “would be much more privacy invasive than previous proposals to weaken encryption. Rather than reading the content of encrypted communications, CSS gives law enforcement the ability to remotely search not just communications, but information stored on user devices.”

These voices join a chorus of similar voices, including civil liberties campaigners, privacy advocates, and tech industry critics who have already warned that the plans threaten basic human rights.

While the system Apple announced seemed well-intentioned, its use of on-device scanning against image databases in the form of numerical hash data had many concerned. After all, if a device can be scanned for one thing, it can easily be extended to search for other things.

Turns out, some governments are working on precisely that. The New York Times reports the latest findings from a group of cybersecurity researchers who have been examining proposals of this kind from before Apple’s announcement.

European Union wants CSS

The researchers say they began looking into the technology prior to Apple’s announcement in response to moves by European Union (EU) leaders to insist on such a system. The researchers think a proposal to mandate such photo scanning in the EU could come as soon as this year, and would extent beyond CSAM to also include scanning for evidence of organized crime and terrorist activity.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

13 handy hidden tricks for Google Maps on Android

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Who doesn’t love Google Maps? The Maps Android app helps those of us with oatmeal for brains find our way anywhere, without having to fire any neurons or exercise any synapses. It even helps us find places to pick up tasty cuisine — like, uh, oatmeal (yum!).

But there’s much more to Google Maps than meets the eye — and odds are, you aren’t taking advantage of at least a few handy hidden features lurking within the Maps Android app. With Android 12 right around the corner and more shiny new Android goodies showing up by the day, I thought it’d be a fine time to dive deep into this ever-evolving Android anchor and think through some of its more off-the-beaten-path advanced options.

Take a few minutes to explore these possibilities the next time you’ve got Maps pulled up on your phone, and get ready to experience the world around you in a whole new way.

1. Automated trip organization

Way back in 2016, Google came out with an awesomely clever app called Trips. Trips tapped into all the info already in your inbox and automatically created impressively organized, easy-to-manage bundles of plans from your incoming itineraries and confirmations. It. Was. Spectacular.

But then, well, Google Googled. After a few short years, the company killed off Trips and left those of us who’d come to rely on its smarts stranded, without any comparable replacement.

Or so it seemed. Fast-forward to today, and much of Trips’ planning intelligence has quietly made its way into the main Maps app. You just practically need a map to find it.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

Apple needs to introduce an iCloud business suite for the enterprise

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I agree with CCS Insight that Apple already has the building blocks to offer its own business productivity suite built around iWork and iCloud. It seems strange that it hasn’t provided these yet.

Apple’s business services

The analysts at CCS Insight hold an annual predictions event — 2022 & Beyond — and, among a wide selection of interesting future Apple possibilities, state:

“Apple’s services unit has gone from strength to strength in the past few years. In 2Q21, it accounted for over 20% of total revenue and registered 33% annual growth. The unit’s strength gives the company increasing confidence as a web services provider, and it launches a productivity suite, based on iWork and iCloud, as a service aimed at smaller companies that are less well- served by Microsoft and more frequently use Google Workspace.”

What could the service offer?

Take email, for example. Apple’s recent introduction of support for domain-based email within iCloud+ for families could so easily be extended to provide a similar (and private) email service for small business users. A business would then be able to equip staff with email access, and Apple could add the email archiving, management, and search tools businesses need to ensure they maintain all necessary records. Integration would need to be cross-platform, but anyone who has ever set up iCloud mail from inside a Windows system knows it already is.

When it comes to iCloud Drive, why not create a white-box version of the service? This could make use of Apple’s existing MDM solutions and the existing iCloud Drive to offer a company branded, zero-trust, account-only shared 2TB of iCloud storage for use within a company.

Recently introduced iCloud+ features around phishing protection, hidden and single-use email addresses, and protection for Safari privacy become icing on the cake. That you can use storage from other providers all within Drive is a big dollop of cream on top of that icing. Existing online enterprise archives remain in reach.

What about iWork?

Productivity tools? Apple already has them. Pages, Keychain, and Numbers represent perfectly competent alternatives to Google Documents or Office apps, but somehow never seem to have quite caught the zeitgeist. Most people still collaborate on shared documents in Google Docs.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

Apple warns: Sideloading apps threatens an iCrime wave

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Apple is fighting back against growing pressure to support sideloading on its App Stores with an extensive 28-page white paper in which it offers stark security and privacy warnings.

The risks of sideloading

The white paper, “Building a Trusted Ecosystem for Millions of Apps – a Threat analysis of Sideloading” argues that because iPhones and other devices capture so much personal information about people, maintaining privacy and security is critical.“Supporting sideloading through direct downloads and third-party app stores would cripple the privacy and security protections that have made iPhone so secure, and expose users to serious security risks,” the company said.

The European Commission, in addition to lawmakers in some European states, the US, and elsewhere seem at present inclined to make Apple support app sideloading. The EC’s proposed Digital Markets App could force the company to do so. Apple rejects this on the grounds of the potential harm to its customers and its platform.

Apple published a similar document explaining the benefits of its curated App Store in June, warning of significant dangers to the lack of curation. Critics of sideloading argue that while curation isn’t perfect, it is far, far better than nothing.

The paper cites a Nokia study that showed Android suffers up to 47 times more malware than iPhone.  It also reprises a European regulatory agency that reported 230,000 new mobile malware infections per day.

Threat of a new iCrime wave

“Android smartphones are the most common mobile malware targets and have recently had between 15 and 47 times more infections from malicious software than iPhone. A study found that 98 percent of mobile malware targets Android devices.

“This is closely linked to sideloading: In 2018, for example, Android devices that installed apps outside Google Play, the official Android app store, were eight times more likely to be affected by potentially harmful applications than those that did not,” the paper says.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

iPhone SE 2022: Apple reads the room

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When it comes to the next iPhone SE, recent speculation suggests Apple is reading the room. It knows we’re facing a period of deep global economic uncertainty and seems to recognize the changing nature of consumer culture in crisis.

iPhone SE 2022 to be the ‘cheapest 5G iPhone ever’

Apple’s anticipated iPhone SE in 2022 will be offered up as the “cheapest 5G iPhone in history.” A report from UDN in Taiwan (as spotted by Patently Apple) states that the device:

“Is reported to retain a 4.7-inch LCD screen and Touch ID fingerprint recognition function. The new machine focuses on internal updates. The third-generation iPhone SE processor will be upgraded to an A15 chip to support 5G networks. Apple will position it as the ‘cheapest 5G iPhone in history.'”

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard that the SE will gain 5G capabilities in 2022; Nikkei made the same claim earlier.

For reference, the current and previously cheapest 5G iPhone, the iPhone mini, costs $699 — while the current iPhone SE goes for $399. Does that mean we can anticipate a 5G iPhone for $399? Or will Apple go higher while claiming to be lower in one of its classic marketing-related sleights of hand?

What to expect

We think Apple will introduce the next edition of its SE in the spring, following by two years its last update in April 2020. The latest report suggests that, despite component shortages, production is on schedule and will begin in December. In recent news, Apple’s leading iPhone manufacturing partner recently began recruiting 200,000 workers for its factory in Shenzhen.

There’s a chance Apple will replace the iPhone mini with the SE on the basis that the division between the two means neither product seems clear. This would be a great shame for users who like smaller iPhones.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

The most important Pixel 6 feature might be invisible

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Twelve days and counting.

It’s hard to believe, with as long as we’ve been talking about this topic, but Google’s much anticipated Pixel 6 phone and its plus-sized sibling, the Pixel 6 Pro, are finally set to make themselves official. The new devices will emerge from Google’s metaphorical womb a week from Tuesday — on October 19th, as Proud Mama Googleschmoop announced this week.

We’ve been thinking about the Pixel 6 phones for so long now that it almost feels like we know everything about ’em. But the phones’ most significant advancement may be something we haven’t yet encountered — and may never actually see, at least in any literal sense. In fact, the full scope and value of its presence might not become clear for some time yet, even after the Pixel 6 makes its way into our curiously moist person-paws.

Let me do a real quick rewind, and I’ll explain what I mean.

The Pixel 6 processor story

Back when we first heard rumblings about the idea of Google building its own custom processor for the Pixel 6 — way back in the year 2020, approximately 47 years ago — we talked about how having a Google-made chip inside the phone could matter for us regular ol’ Android-adorin’ animals in a few key ways.

One is that it’d give Google total power to decide how long the processor — and thus the phone around it — is supported. While nothing’s official on that front just yet, leaks suggest the Pixel 6 could receive a whopping five years of operating system updates, which would certainly put that point into action.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

Has Apple set the scene for its next small big thing?

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App Analytics in App Store Connect offers app developers a way to explore important app metrics such as transactions, redownloads, total downloads, pre-orders and updates; developers can drill down for insights into territory, source, device and so on, allowing them to understand and develop key app markets.

That’s great for developers, but what does it mean to enterprise users? For most, it’s an opportunity.

What’s in it for enterprises?

Companies with B2B or B2C apps can dive inside the information made available by users to extend their reach and better understand their customer base — what works, what doesn’t, and where core customers are located.

(You don’t gain access to individual addresses, of course. But the insights Apple provides can help companies determine the key locations in which their app succeeds.)

It’s also possible to measure the impact of marketing campaigns across multiple outlets. You can measure downloads from Smart App Banners in Safari and monitor the impact on sales/engagement of your marketing campaigns.

All of this can help businesses offering iOS apps build a deeper connection and understanding with their mobile customers, but it’s a drop in the ocean in terms of the quantity of data Apple’s devices have on what we do. Your iPhone even knows how many times a day it gets picked up. So, it’s better the information is kept on the device, rather than being shared.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.