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10 things to watch for at today’s Apple silicon Mac event – The Verge

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Today, Apple is unveiling new Macs that will be based not on Intel processors, but Apple’s own Arm-based chips. It’s a big deal and something we’ve been waiting a long time for. Depending on how you count, that wait has lasted either six months (since they were officially announced) or several years (since Intel’s roadmap detoured into a quagmire).

Jay Peters has the summary of what exactly we’re expecting from Apple’s ‘One More Thing’ event. If you’re looking to get a sense of what the stakes are today, Chaim Gartenberg has a nice overview about just how big a gamble this is and just how committed Apple is to it. And as I mentioned last week, I have already written a couple pieces on “why this transition could be tricky and how Microsoft’s rougher ride in a similar transition could provide some lessons for Apple.”

So: the day is here and there are many, many questions that Apple will hopefully have answers to. I fully expect we’re going to get a mix of good, bad, and possibly ugly answers — and heck, maybe even some very great ones too.

One reason I’m more optimistic about how well the new Macs might perform is that Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman dropped his traditional pre-announcement reporting of what’s to come and his sources say it will include an Arm-based 13-inch MacBook Pro in addition to a MacBook Air.

To me, you don’t include a “pro” model on day one unless you are very confident in the benchmarks and performance. Better to stick with just the mid-range model if you’re not sure. After all, the only Windows Arm-based laptops we’ve seen recently are in that zone. But nope, Apple’s apparently going all-in.

In that context, as you watch the event today (I don’t think it’s appropriate to call these videos “keynotes” any more), I wanted to just list out a few things to keep an eye out for. I hope Apple hits all of the points below. How (or whether) Apple addresses some of these issues should give you some early indications of how well this whole Apple silicon transition is going to go in the early days.

How fast is fast? Apple is surely going to tout some impressive benchmarks for these Macs. But hopefully we’ll also see something more real-world — head-to-head comparisons work best when they’re done with applications people actually use in ways that tangibly show the speed difference.

How about battery life? One big benefit of Apple’s silicon is that we know it’s likely to be much more power-efficient than Intel’s chips. However, Apple could architect these chips in any number of ways that could kill a battery in the name of faster performance — or make it too slow in the name of battery life. Watch carefully to see if Apple thinks it can get the best of both worlds or if it’s tilting the scales one way or another.

Now that many of us are using iPads full-time for work, we’re finding that you can kill them off in a single workday. iPadOS was built to run only on battery power from the start, but macOS needs to run on both battery and the mains. Can it be made efficient enough to match the iPad’s battery life?

What will the graphics situation be? Apple has been using either integrated Intel or discrete AMD GPUs for a very long time on the Mac, but it’s been using its own stuff on the iPhone and iPad with some fairly incredible results. The difference, though, is that fewer Mac apps are likely to use the right kind of code to get the most out of whatever Apple puts in these Macs. Keep an eye out for what apps Apple demos and what apps it does not (and yes, I’m talking about Adobe’s Creative Suite here).

See if there’s LTE or 5G: It’s a stretch, but using the same processors as the iPhone and iPad theoretically makes it easier to integrate cellular radios. And Apple did buy Intel’s entire 5G modem business. My bet is it won’t happen this round, but if it does it’ll be another sign of just how serious Apple is about these Macs.

What about Rosetta? Apple is going to automatically make apps designed for Intel chips work on its Arm chips using a translation layer called Rosetta 2. Keep an eye on what apps get shown off there too — and for a bonus, see if you can spot any slowdowns outside of that one particular app.

This is one place where I really do wish we were at a live keynote instead of a pre-recorded livestream. Live demos are of course heavily tested and scripted, but I’ve seen enough of them go sideways to know that they’re also usually real. If something goes sideways in the Rosetta 2 demo, it’s probably a safe bet Apple would just re-shoot it.

Big Sur is a big question mark. Apple’s newest operating system for the Mac will obviously be a requirement for these new MacBooks, but I can tell you from experience that the betas have been rockier than usual. Will the OS be stable enough for release?

See if Catalyst is brought up. Catalyst, if you don’t recall, is one of the ways Apple is trying to bring iPad apps over to the Mac, by offering developers a framework to re-use their iPad code in a Mac app. That’s a very oversimplified explanation, but so far Catalyst apps have been a fairly big bummer so there’s no need to rehash it all again. It’s possible that Apple will continue to only half-heartedly support it (instead of going all-in as I hoped it would) because something “better” is happening on Arm-based Macs. To wit:

See if iPad and iPhone apps are any good. Macs running Apple Silicon will be able to natively run iPad and iPhone apps. There’s any number of ways this could happen, from a full-on iOS instance running behind Big Sur to including just enough pieces of the iOS subsystem to make apps work. Everything in that spectrum has advantages and disadvantages.

But assuming performance is solid, the big question will be whether these iPad and iPhone apps feel like aliens dropped onto a Macintosh planet. One big knock on Catalyst apps is they’re not Mac-like enough, and iPad apps won’t be Mac-like at all. Big Sur looks more like iPadOS than ever, but will that be enough to make iPad apps feel at home?

See what iPad and iPhone apps are actually available. By default, any iPad or iPhone app should theoretically be available for Arm-based Macs — but developers can opt their apps out. Last night 9to5Mac reported that many of the apps you might have hoped for are already opted out. YouTube, Google Maps, Gmail, Snapchat, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, Facebook, Instagram, Among Us, and even Candy Crush all reportedly won’t be available for the Mac at launch.

A charitable reading could be that these companies want to ensure their iOS apps offer a good experience on the Mac desktop. A less charitable reading is they believe there’s no such thing as a good iOS app experience on a Mac desktop. And a conspiratorial (but not necessarily wrong!) reading is that all these companies know they can collect more data on you through a desktop web browser than they can through a native iOS app.

See what the release date and pricing will be — and wait for reviews. Last but not least, let’s see if Apple can get these out the door on time and at a reasonable price. And my personal advice (which I swear isn’t being given because I’m a reviewer) is to wait for reviews before purchasing.

Hell, I would recommend you wait a year or more if you have a computer that works for you right now. Right now I have more faith than I expected that Apple is going to quickly and successfully navigate this transition, but even in the best possible case it’s going to be a little rocky here and there, with apps you depend on unexpectedly not working or working poorly. That thing happens all the time with new versions of an OS — it will only compound when you throw an entirely new processor architecture into the mix.

If Apple truly wows us with performance, sticking to that “wait and see” approach could be hard for a lot of us. And given the confidence required to put out a MacBook Pro right away, I bet Apple doesn’t want to make it easy to wait.


iPhone 12 reviews

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max review: the best smartphone camera you can get. Here’s Nilay Patel’s review of a very big phone. Great video on this one!

Apple iPhone 12 mini review: fit to size. And here’s my review of a very small phone. Also a great video on this one!

The Apple MagSafe Duo charger is overpriced and under-delivers. I am simply baffled by this product.

The iPhone’s ultrawide camera could get a big boost in 2021, says Kuo. The iPhone 12 mini and Pro Max haven’t even arrived to customers yet and we’ve already got rumors for the next one.

Playstation 5 review

PlayStation 5 review: a big, confident step into next gen. Right on the heels of the Xbox reviews we have this gangbuster from Andrew Webster and a video by Vjeran Pavic. True to expectations, Sony made a very good console. I still think it’s too weird looking for my living room and I haven’t figured out how I’m going to deal with that yet. I also think that the new controller lives up to the hype — it’s incredible. I just wonder whether or not developers will do enough to keep it that way.

Sony gives your PS4 a second life: slinging a PS5 to another room of your house.

Sony reveals PS5 games will be region free, and the console will support PS Now.

Buying Guides

The Verge Holiday Gift Guide 2020. Lots of great stuff in this guide put together by Barbara Krasnoff and many folks on our staff.

The Verge’s 10 favorite gadgets that cost less than $50. Same deal. Well, different deals, but same deal: great list from Barbara Krasnoff and staff.

More from The Verge

Lenovo’s Smart Clock Essential is a slightly smarter bedside clock. Lenovo has been trying to make Google-powered smart alarm clocks happen for a while now. Its latest effort is maybe the best: it just made that thing instead of a smart display. Dan Seifert explains:

It’s a voice-controlled, Google Assistant smart speaker with a simple, black-and-white segmented LED display. It displays the current time, weather conditions, day, and your currently set alarms. The display will automatically adjust its brightness depending on the light levels of the room, so it’s not blinding you in the middle of the night. But it’s not a touchscreen, doesn’t display photos or video, and can’t be used for monitoring camera feeds. It’s effectively what you’d get if you combined a modern smart speaker with an old-school LED clock radio from the 1980s.

Virgin Hyperloop hits an important milestone: the first human passenger test. Andrew Hawkins:

The Pegasus pod used for the first passenger test, also called XP-2, was designed with help from famed Danish architect Bjarke Ingels’ design firm. It represents a scaled-down version of what Virgin Hyperloop hopes will eventually be a full-sized pod capable of carrying up to 23 passengers. It weighs 2.5 tons and measures about 15-18 feet long, according to Giegel. Inside, its lush white interior is meant to be familiar to passengers, who may not be immediately comfortable with the idea of slingshotting through a vacuum-sealed tube at the speed of a commercial jet.

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iPhone 12's camera beats even the iPhone 11 Pro. Here's proof – CNET

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Andrew Hoyle/CNET

The iPhone 11 Pro packed one of the best cameras around, being able to take such great shots that it replaced my DSLR on a road trip around Scotland. Apple’s latest iPhone 12 may be one of the more affordable of the new lineup — which includes the smaller iPhone 12 Mini and the more premium 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max — but its camera is even more formidable.

I’ve taken the iPhone 12 for a spin around my home in Edinburgh, and I’ve been super impressed with how it stacks up against the previous 11 Pro. Sure, it doesn’t have the 2x telephoto lens, but the images it can capture with the standard view and the super-wide lens are superb. 

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iPhone 11 Pro, standard lens


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

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iPhone 12, standard lens


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

On this first scene in Dean Village, both cameras have captured an excellent overall exposure, but the iPhone 12’s shot has a richer blue sky and more contrast and detail on the buildings, resulting in a better-looking shot overall. 

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iPhone 11 Pro, super-wide lens


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

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iPhone 12, super-wide lens


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Switching to the super-wide view, both phones have been able to capture a huge amount of the scene in front of them, but again, the iPhone 12 has a bit more punch to the scene. Some of the buildings look a bit darker, however, which may not be to everyone’s tastes. 

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iPhone 11 Pro, standard lens


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

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iPhone 12, standard lens


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

While the overall exposure is great on both shots, the bright sky on the iPhone 11 Pro appears to have caused some haziness around where the buildings meet the sky. The iPhone 12’s shot has a clear distinction between the areas, which looks much nicer.

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iPhone 11 Pro, standard lens


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

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iPhone 12, standard lens


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Although the sky doesn’t cause the same haze in this scene, there’s a noticeable difference in the contrast between the two images. The iPhone 12’s shot has richer colors, which helps add some punch to the shadows on the church, as well as help distinguish the various trees from each other further down. 

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iPhone 11 Pro, standard lens


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

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iPhone 12, standard lens


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

In this example, however, I can see almost no discernible differences between the two images. Both are pin-sharp with accurate colors and great contrast. 

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iPhone 11 Pro, standard lens


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

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iPhone 12, standard lens


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Up on Edinburgh’s Calton Hill, I prefer the look of the shot from the iPhone 11 Pro. It has a warmer white balance to it (which may only be caused by the tiny shift in shooting angle) that I think gives a more pleasing tone to the scene and has allowed it to maintain some of the sunset colors in the sky. 

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iPhone 11 Pro, standard lens


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

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iPhone 12, standard lens


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Looking at the increasing sunset from another direction, both phones have captured the tones and the exposure extremely well. The iPhone 12’s shot does have more contrast and clarity on the buildings further in the scene, as well as making them a touch brighter, which I think makes for a superior image. 

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iPhone 11 Pro, standard lens


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

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iPhone 12, standard lens


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

As the sunset deepened, the phones had to fight harder to keep that bright streak of orange in the sky under control, while still capturing plenty of detail in the foreground. They’re both great shots, but the iPhone 12’s image again shows brighter details in the building and foreground foliage. 

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iPhone 11 Pro, standard lens, Night mode


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

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iPhone 12, standard lens, Night mode


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

As night began to fall I headed further into the city and found this scene. The 11 Pro has captured a great image overall, but it’s clear to see that the iPhone 12’s is brighter, with more detail on the cobblestones and on “The Arches” sign. 

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iPhone 11 Pro, super-wide lens, Night mode


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

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iPhone 12, super-wide lens, Night mode


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

The situation is much the same with these beautiful Christmas decorations, shot using the super-wide lens and the Night mode. The iPhone 12 Pro’s shot is brighter, with much more visible detail to be seen. 

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Detail crop, iPhone 11 Pro


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

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Detail crop, iPhone 12


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Cropping in to the top of the building on that same super-wide shot, it’s clear to see that the iPhone 12’s image is both brighter and sharper.

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iPhone 11 Pro, standard lens, Night mode


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

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iPhone 12, standard lens, Night mode


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Taken using Night mode at 10 seconds, both shots have captured an impressive amount of detail in what was such an incredibly dark nighttime scene. The iPhone 12’s shot is a touch brighter, however.

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Crop detail, iPhone 11 Pro


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

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Crop detail, iPhone 12


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Cropping in on the corner of the same images, it’s possible to see that the iPhone 12 has been able to capture significantly better detail in the edges of its frame when using Night mode.

The iPhone 12 takes better photos

In almost every example in this test I prefer the look of the images from the iPhone 12 over those taken on the iPhone 11 Pro. Details are clearer, shots are brighter and more vibrant, and Night mode images have seen huge improvements. It’s not such a significant upgrade that it’s worth moving from an iPhone 11 Pro to the iPhone 12, but the 12 is the phone to go for if you’re looking at upgrading from an earlier handset. 

The only downside to keep in mind is that the iPhone 12 doesn’t have the 2x telephoto lens. As a photographer, I love using the zoom on the phone as it allows me to get some really interesting angles on subjects that you can’t do with a wide-angle lens. If you’re a really dedicated photographer then it’s worth considering spending the extra and going for the iPhone 12 Pro or 12 Pro Max, both of which offer the telephoto lens as well as the standard and super-wide views.

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Google AI researcher's exit sparks ethics, bias concerns – Yahoo Canada Finance

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RFI

Italy faces more rules over Christmas in its fight against coronavirus

Italians are preparing themselves for a very different Christmas due to newly announced restrictions to combat the coronavirus. But a recent survey has revealed that the public is largely in favour of the limitations being adopted to personal freedom – if it is in aid of protecting public safety. Nearly 60 percent of those who participated in the Cencis survey accepted that the government should decide “when and under what conditions they can leave their houses, what they can or cannot do, who they can see and where” to protect the health of the Italian population.Nearly 80 percent said they were in favour of tough curbs at Christmas time.A new emergency decree signed by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte took effect on Friday and will remain valid until January 15.Italy’s regions have been divided into three different colours according to the level Covid-19 infections and risk, with red being the most dangerous, then orange and yellow.Only in yellow regions are bars and restaurants allowed to be open for regular service. In the other regions, they are only allowed to be open for take-away service.In a press conference outlining the new restrictions over the Christmas season to avoid another surge in coronavirus infections, Conte said that Italy was obtaining good results thanks to already existing measures, but this was no time for complacency and that new ruled were required.  “The measures we’re adopting are adequate and proportional to the level of risk, without being unnecessary penalised”, he said. “We have avoided a nationwide lockdown but now, near Christmas, we must not let our guard down.” Christmas midnight mass, which is very popular with Italians, has been banned and the prime minister has urged his fellow countrymen to refrain from inviting guests to their homes during the festivities.Italians are banned from leaving their towns on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. Movement between Italy’s 20 regions is also banned from December 21 to January 6 unless a person can show they are travelling for their job, a health issue or an emergency.Ski resorts will be closed until January 6 and cruises have been banned over the holiday period.“There is still a long way to go until we’re out of the pandemic,” said Conte. “We must avert a third wave, which could arrive as early as January and be no less violent than the first wave.”From December 10-21, residents returning to Italy from other EU countries will need to take a Covid-19 test before travelling and show the negative result on arrival. From December 21 to January 6, anyone arriving in Italy including from EU countries must quarantine for two-weeks.

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Tips on how to find the Playstation 5 and XBox Series X, the hottest items this Christmas – CTV News Ottawa

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OTTAWA —
One of the hottest items on many Christmas wish lists this holiday season is the Playstation 5 and Microsoft Xbox Series X consoles.

With so many people at home looking for something to do during the COVID-19 pandemic, demand is high for the latest generation gaming consolesGetting your hands on one seems to be a game all on its own.

Salim Saikley is one of the lucky few able to purchase a new console this holiday season.

“It really feels like you’re part of an elite club,” said Saikley.

After weeks of trying to buy a Sony PS5 gaming console, he finally found one at an online store, “I was able to pick one up as of 6:30 a.m.” He ‘picked it’ online, and hopes to have it delivered next week.

The new PS5’s are reselling on sites like Kijiji for nearly double the retail price. Saikley does not think that is something he would have done.

“Really hard to justify a gaming console for over a thousand dollars,” said Saikley.

Even though he doesn’t consider himself a ‘gamer‘, he’s looking for something else to do at home during the pandemic.

“COVID for sure is a massive factor; another thing to do in the home besides projects and cooking, building projects – we’re a little tired of that,” said Saikley.

At retailers like The Source, which is owned by CTV News Ottawa’s parent company Bell, the pandemic is helping to drive sales.

Gaming gives us a really good opportunity to play interactively; to play with other families, and to make sure that we’re keeping that social connection alive,” says Andaleeb Dobson, vice-president of Merchandising and Supply Chain at The Source. Gaming is through the roof, it’s been seven years since we’ve had new XBox or Playstation consoles.”

The hottest game consoles have been on the market for about a monthDobson says launch day was very busy on their website, “We sold lots of consoles in less than half an hour.”

Best Buy Canada says pre-orders sold out quickly, and a company spokesperson told CTV News Ottawa, “We expect that demand to last well into the new year as inventory becomes available.”

Hamse Deira managed to buy three on pre-order months ago.

“Honestly, it’s amazing,” said Deira, who sold one and surprised his older brother with the other new console“He was still sleeping, so I put it on his on his bed, and I just tapped him and he woke up and was freaking out; he almost knocked it off the bed!”

How to get one now?

Ray runs the website and twitter feed GameDealsCanada.com.

CTV News Ottawa asked Ray for tips to find the Playstation 5 and Microsoft Xbox Series X consoles this holiday season.

“Turning on notifications for Twitter helps get the latest alerts for surprise drops, but for scheduled ones like the ones Walmart and EB Games just did, it takes speed and a lot of luck,” said Ray in a Twitter message to CTV News Ottawa.

He says you’ll need that luck and suggests you follow all of the retailers’ social media accountsRetailers often post when they will be releasing more consoles.

He offers other tips on his website too, including creating an account at the online store ahead of time and making sure it works. Ensure your billing address and shipping address are correct, and add a valid credit card number ahead of time.

Ray also suggests trying stores’ online app; while many are trying to log onto the website, you may have luck with your phone.

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