How Engadget’s parent company is making sites like ours easier to use

Today, May 17th, is Global Accessibility Awareness Day, but in fact, this entire month has been an eventful one people with disabilities. Two weeks ago, Google and Microsoft pledged to commit $20 and $25 million to the cause, respectively, to accessibility tech. Today, Microsoft revealed the Xbox Adaptive Controller, while Apple unveiled a coding curriculum that can also be used by students who are deaf and/or blind. Meanwhile, Oath, Engadget’s parent company which also owns Yahoo, rang in the day by holding an open house at its accessibility lab, where, among other things, it works to make sites like ours easier for everyone to use.

And that includes sites and services outside of Oath too: The accessibility-tech community is a small one, with researchers at Oath, Apple, Microsoft, Google and other tech companies regularly collaborating with each other. (Microsoft’s Chief Accessibility Officer Jennie-Lay Flurrie made the same Continue reading “How Engadget’s parent company is making sites like ours easier to use”

Apple faces class action lawsuit over faulty MacBook keyboards

Apple has faced some pointed criticism over the butterfly switch keyboards on the 12-inch MacBook and current-generation MacBook Pro. Whether or not you like the tactile feel, they’re sensitive to crumbs and dust — and since you can’t just remove individual keys, fixes are both elaborate and (if you’re out of warranty) very expensive. To that end, users Kyle Barbaro and Zixua Rao have filed a class action lawsuit against Apple accusing the company of knowingly selling MacBooks with faulty keyboards.

Source: AppleInsider

Your Mac might be storing your ‘deleted’ Signal messages

One of Signal’s major draws is the fact that it automatically deletes your messages. But though it may be wiping your conversations, it turns out your Mac probably isn’t, Motherboard reports. Security researcher Alec Muffett tweeted about the problem this week and the issue lies with how the computers manage notifications. Depending on your settings, the macOS Notification Center might display and retain your recent messages, including the name of who sent them and what they said.

Via: CNET

Apple’s influential, iconic iMac turns 20

There are few individual computer models that have left a lasting mark on the industry, but you can definitely put the iMac on that list. Apple introduced its signature all-in-one desktop at a special event on May 6th, 1998, and it’s safe to say the system has had a lasting impact on technology at large. At the same time, the iMac has also been a symbol of the cultural zeitgeist, including for Apple itself — it shows how the company evolved from an underdog in a Windows world to a behemoth focused more on phones than PCs. The iMac has had a long journey, but it’s worth following to see just how much the industry has changed in the past 20 years.

What to look for when buying a tablet as a laptop replacement

Tablets didn’t exactly take over the computing world, as Apple and Microsoft had predicted years ago. But they have been evolving to the point where they can fill in for a laptop under the right circumstances. Still, how do you ensure that the tablet you buy is good enough for you to leave conventional PCs behind? It’s not always easy — a tablet that’s powerful enough for one person might be overly complicated for another. We have some tips to help you navigate the shopping maze.

The best and worst laptop brands 2018

Whether you’re purchasing a $1,500 gaming laptop or a $200 Chromebook, the brand matters. That’s why we rate the top 10 laptop brands each year, based on their support, design, innovation, value/selection and, most of all, product quality.

For 2018, Lenovo retained its place for a second year as the best laptop vendor, but it just barely edged out second-place HP and third-place Dell. Apple, which used to dominate this contest, fell all the way to seventh place, down from fifth last year.

Apple’s iTunes software comes to the Windows Store

Nearly a year after it was originally announced and several months later than planned, iTunes is finally available via the Windows Store. While functionally it’s the same as installing from a regular download the way Windows users always have used the Apple software, its inclusion in the store means it will also work on PCs running Windows 10 S (soon to be S mode). It won’t use any less RAM or become any more suited for modern state of media management, but at least it’s there. Now, how about Google Chrome?

Via: Windows Central

Source: Microsoft, Windows Blog

Apple will replace swollen batteries in newer MacBook Pros

It hasn’t been that long since the iPhone battery fiasco, but Apple already has another battery issue to deal with. The tech giant has launched a battery replacement program for 13-inch MacBook Pros without Touch Bar manufactured between October 2016 and October 2017. A “limited number” of its base Pro laptops are prone to a component failure — it didn’t mention which component, only that the devices’ built-in batteries will swell if it malfunctions. Just earlier this month, the company announced a similar program for 42mm Series 2 Watches, since their batteries also have the tendency to swell.

Via: Reuters

Source: Apple

Don’t expect Apple to combine macOS and iOS anytime soon

At the end of 2017, Bloomberg reported that Apple will merge its Mac and iOS software codebases. This would enable designers to create a single version that works on both platforms — and it was rumored to come as early as this year. But the tech giant’s CEO Tim Cook denied this, stating that a merger would inevitably require diluting one operating system to make software compatible with the other. The compromises wouldn’t be what users actually want.

Via: Apple Insider

Source: Sydney Morning Herald

Apple warns Mac users that 32-bit apps will soon stop working

Starting tomorrow, you’ll see an alert box when you open a 32-bit app in MacOS 10.13.4. The one-time-per-app warning is designed to encourage users — and developers — to update their apps before Apple’s full transition to 64-bit. It’s not clear when the complete switch will happen, but when it does, all support for the legacy architecture will cease and apps that haven’t been updated will stop working.

Source: Apple

Dell was the bright spot in a lousy winter for PC shipments

Sorry, folks, those hopes of the PC market making a comeback were short-lived. Both Gartner and IDC estimate that computer shipments were down in the first quarter of 2018, ranging from barely under zero growth (IDC) to a drop of 1.4 percent (Gartner). While the exact numbers vary (Gartner includes more tablets in its data than IDC, but not Chromebooks), there are some common themes. In particular, Dell came to the industry’s rescue — it was one of the few bright spots in a market where rivals either saw sluggish growth or declined.

Source: Gartner, IDC

In pursuit of the perfect AI voice

The virtual personal assistant is romanticized in utopian portrayals of the future from The Jetsons to Star Trek. It’s the cultured, disembodied voice at humanity’s beck and call, eager and willing to do any number of menial tasks.

In its early real-world implementations, a virtual receptionist directed customers (‘To hear more menu options, press 9’). Voice-typing software transcribed audio recordings. It wasn’t until 2011 that Apple released Siri and the public had its first interactions with a commercially viable, dynamic personal assistant. Since Siri’s debut with the release of the iPhone 4S, Apple’s massive customer base has only gotten larger; the company estimates that more than 700 million iPhones are currently in use worldwide.

Apple will ship its redesigned Mac Pro in 2019

If you were budgeting for the redesigned Mac Pro this year, you’ll want to earmark that money for something else. Apple has revealed to TechCrunch that the modular workstation is now slated to ship in 2019, rather than sometime in 2018 as many expected (though it was never set in stone). The company is providing the heads-up now so that customers who need a system soon can buy an iMac Pro without worrying that the Mac Pro might be right around the corner, according to Hardware Engineering VP Tom Boger. It might be worth the wait, however — as Apple explained, it’s shaping the system based on its potential customers.

Source: TechCrunch

Apple hires Google’s former AI leader

Apple has regularly been accused of lagging behind Google in AI development, but it just scored a major victory that could help it turn things around. The iPhone maker has hired Google’s just-departed AI and search chief, John Giannandrea, to head up its “machine learning and AI strategy.” He’ll report directly to Tim Cook. It’s not certain if Apple has specific plans for the new exec, but Cook observed in a message to staff (obtained by the New York Times) that Giannandrea shared “our commitment to privacy and our thoughtful approach.” In other words, don’t expect him to widen Apple’s data collection just because of his Google history.

Source: New York Times

Apple iPad review (2018): A little better, a little less competition

The tablet business has been tough in recent years, but last year Apple found a hit in its low-cost iPad. Its admirable performance and battery life made up for its lack of frills, and that $329 price tag certainly didn’t hurt either. Apple saw its iPad sales grow year-over-year for the first time in ages after its release, all but ensuring we’d get a sequel — and here we are.

Apple spent most of its time at a launch event in Chicago lauding this year’s $329 iPad ($299 with that education discount) as a great machine for kids in classrooms. I won’t dig into that too much in this review — there are people far more qualified than me to explore the relative merits of iOS versus Chrome OS in schools. While the iPad’s announcement explored its use almost exclusively as a classroom tool, it’s a lot more than that. Continue reading “Apple iPad review (2018): A little better, a little less competition”

I can’t wait for laptops with Apple’s own chips

Apple might be ready to ditch Intel’s x86 chips in the Mac in favor of a custom-designed piece of silicon. At least that’s the story out of Bloomberg, which believes that a transition by Apple to its own CPUs could begin by 2020. It’s just a single, as yet unsubstantiated story, but it’s already made a dent in Intel’s share price, even if Apple is hardly its biggest customer. And yet it’s clear that between Intel’s recent problems and Apple’s successes, it’s time that divorce proceedings begin.

Apple goes on hiring spree to improve Siri’s smarts

It won’t shock you to hear that Siri is lagging behind rivals like Amazon’s Alexa or Google Assistant — the HomePod struggles to handle non-music tasks as well as competing smart speakers, for instance. And Apple appears to be aware of this shortfall. Thinknum has noticed that Apple has been on a Siri-related hiring spree in recent months, with 161 positions listed as of the end of March. There’s been an uptick ever since summer 2016, but there was a distinct surge in February of this year.

Source: Thinknum, Apple

The latest macOS update brings support for external GPUs

With the latest release of macOS High Sierra, Apple has officially delivered on a couple of items in the works since WWDC 2017 last June. macOS 10.13.4 brings the external GPU (eGPU) support that lets developers, VR users gamers and anyone else in need of some extra oomph to plug in a more powerful graphics card via Thunderbolt 3. While that may not make every underpowered laptop VR ready, it certainly makes staying macOS-only more palatable for some power users.

Another notable addition is Business Chat in Messages for users in the US. Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp and others have tweaked their services to enable customer service linkups and now Apple has its version available on the desktop. With it, you can interact with business representatives or even make purchases. Other tweaks include waiting for the user to select login fields before autofilling Continue reading “The latest macOS update brings support for external GPUs”