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Apple's new MacBooks and Mac Mini could change PCs as we know them – CNET

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Typically, people talk about the way Apple’s devices look. But this time what matters most is under the hood.


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This story is part of Apple Event, our full coverage of the latest news from Apple headquarters.

On Tuesday, Apple announced its first personal computers powered using chips that are more like those in an iPhone than those in a typical PC. The machines are the $999 13-inch MacBook Air, the $699 Mac Mini and the $1,299 MacBook Pro. That alone is exciting to tech fans, but it’s also a sign of what’s possibly to come, whether you buy a Mac or not. Apple has said it’s going to change the brains of its computers over the next couple of years. Starting with the just-unveiled machines, Apple is going to throw its weight behind its self-made chips.

Most people may not care about a change to a small chip in their Mac computers, but it could mean big changes for Apple and the tech industry, too. For the past 14 years, Apple has relied on Intel-made chips to power its laptop and desktop computers. Apple has spent more than a decade on research and development, and at least $1 billion buying more than half a dozen companies, to create the M1, a chip similar to those in iPhones and iPads and that takes on Intel. Now Apple’s first computers powered by the M1 have been made available for preorder and will start shipping next week. 

Apple says the M1 is more powerful and energy efficient, allowing for potentially smaller and slimmer designs, longer battery life and new technologies as well.

“Advancements of this magnitude only come from making bold changes,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said during Apple’s event Tuesday. He added that Apple’s own chips will usher in new technologies and “extraordinary battery life” from the computers. “This is exactly why we are transitioning to Mac Apple silicon at Apple,” Cook said.

For Apple, this moment has been more than a decade in the making. The question that’s nagged the company since co-founder Steve Jobs died in 2011 is, What comes next? Jobs ushered in the Mac computer, the iMac all-in-one desktop, the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad. Since his death, Apple’s biggest new product has been the Apple Watch, which has turned into an enormous business. Last year it outsold, by a huge margin, the entire Swiss watch industry. Still, it’s not an iPhone-like dent in the universe.

By combining all its devices under the same chips and common code, Apple will be able to offer an experience that truly spans its desktops, laptops, phones and watches. The company has already said app developers will be able to create one app and send it to all devices, with adjustments for keyboard and mouse versus finger touch and gestures.

The result may be a further blurring of the lines between what a computer is, and what it’s meant to do.

The changes are already beginning with Apple’s newest computer software, MacOS 11 Big Sur, which brings to PCs even more of the icons, sounds and general look of the iOS software that powers iPhones. Big Sur will be made available on Thursday for free for recently made Macs.

“With the current Mac — it’s the Mac versus the PC,” said Carolina Milanesi, an analyst at Creative Strategies. “Now, if it behaves like an iPhone, I can manage it like an extension of my iOS devices.”

Apple's iPad Air uses the new A14 Bionic chip. It's got 11.8 billion transistors.Apple's iPad Air uses the new A14 Bionic chip. It's got 11.8 billion transistors.

Apple’s iPad Air and iPhone 12 use the company’s A14 Bionic chip. The new Macs might too.


Screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET

What may come

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The difference between computers and phones is becoming a matter of screen size.


Angela Lang/CNET

Apple says its transition to new chips may be a little bumpy, as app developers change the way their apps are coded to work with this new machinery. In the meantime, Apple promises most of the software we all use, including web browsers; photo and movie editors from all sorts of companies; and even Microsoft’s popular Office suite of programs, will work on the new machines on day one.

What’s likely to change more than anything involves a component other than the chip for the laptop and desktop. Apple’s iPhones and iPads don’t have fans to keep their chips cool. So far, the company has pulled off that same trick with its MacBook Air laptops, though its new Mac Mini and MacBook Pro do have fans.

But aside from those changes, and what-if speculation about detachable laptop-iPad hybrids, Apple watchers seem hard pressed to come up with design-change ideas. (Writer’s note: Apple, please bring back the MagSafe magnetic charging cables to the laptops. Pretty please.)

Another longer term play may be the integration of cellular service into these types of mobile chips. Computers with built-in cellular radios have been niche products at best, but these kinds of processors are designed to work with cellular radios. People buy connected iPads all the time — a connected MacBook Air isn’t a huge leap. 

Though that’s not likely to come out any time soon, the carriers will probably be eager to get 5G into a future generation of Apple’s silicon-based MacBooks.


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Apple’s credit card may be the company’s secret weapon when it comes to getting more people to consider Mac computers.


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By switching to its own chips and away from ones made by Intel, Apple will get more than the expected performance and power efficiency boost. It’ll be able to more closely tune its software to work with its specialized chips, for example. And the company will also be able to manage manufacturing.

“When you control your own destiny and control your own parts, you can save money,” said Bob O’Donnell, an analyst at Technalysis Research.

Generally, O’Donnell said, chip prices make up at least 20% of a laptop’s costs. If Apple were to turn those savings into lower prices, it could attract new people who now just won’t pay or can’t afford the company’s laptops, which start at $999.

It may also spark consumer interest and spur competition from other PC makers, who’ve so far only toyed with using mobile-phone chips in computers (though with just under 7% market share in 2019, according to IDC).

But the Apple credit card could be the company’s true ace up its sleeve, analysts say. Putting Macs on a two-year, interest-free installment plan could get people hooked on the idea of buying a computer for about $42 a month.

“Getting the Mac into a larger population could be huge,” O’Donnell said.

Regardless, Apple’s move is bound to make waves, both by showing us how powerful its iPhone chips are, and potentially spurring the industry to change their devices to keep up.

“This is the biggest announcement in ‘computers’ in a long time,” tweeted Steven Sinofsky, a venture capitalist who oversaw Microsoft’s Windows software division more than a decade ago. “The real impact is the direction this takes things.”

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Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 888 promises faster speeds, better cameras, and more powerful AI – The Verge

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Qualcomm teased the Snapdragon 888, its latest 5G-equipped flagship smartphone processor, on the first day of its Snapdragon Tech Summit. But at the day two keynote, the company provided all of the details on the new chipset, which will be the brains powering almost every major 2021 Android flagship.

First off, the basic specs: the new processor will feature Qualcomm’s new Kryo 680 CPU, which will be one of the first devices to feature Arm’s latest customized Cortex-X1 core and promises up to 25 percent higher performance than last year’s chip with a maximum clock speed of 2.84GHz. And the company’s new Adreno 660 GPU promises a 35 percent jump on graphics rendering, in what it says is the biggest performance leap for its GPUs yet. The new CPU and GPU are also more power-efficient compared to those on the Snapdragon 875, with a 25 percent improvement for the Kyro 680 and a 20 percent improvement on the Adreno 660.

Another key difference between the Snapdragon 888 and last year’s 865 is that Qualcomm has finally integrated its 5G modem directly into the SoC. That means manufacturers won’t have to deal with finding the space (and power) for a second external modem. Specifically, the Snapdragon 888 will feature Qualcomm’s 5nm X60 modem, which the company announced back in February, and it will enable better carrier aggregation and download speeds up to 7.5 Gbps on new devices. The Snapdragon 888 will also support Wi-Fi 6 as well as the new 6GHz Wi-Fi 6E standard, which should boost that rollout by making it the default on most Android flagships.

As is tradition for a Snapdragon update, Qualcomm is also putting a big emphasis on its camera improvements. The new Spectra 580 ISP is the first from Qualcomm to feature a triple ISP, allowing it to do things like capture three simultaneous 4K HDR video streams or three 28-megapixel photos at once at up to 2.7 gigapixels per second (35 percent faster than last year).

It also offers improved burst capabilities and is capable of capturing up to 120 photos in a single second at a 10-megapixel resolution. Lastly, the upgraded ISP adds computational HDR to 4K videos, an improved low-light capture architecture, and the option to shoot photos in 10-bit color in HEIF. That said, it’ll be up to phone manufacturers to build cameras that can take advantage of the new features.

The final major changes come in AI performance, thanks to Qualcomm’s new Hexagon 780 AI processor. The Snapdragon 888 features Qualcomm’s sixth-generation AI Engine, which it promises will help improve everything from computational photography to gaming to voice assistant performance. The Snapdragon 888 can perform 26 trillion operations per second (TOPS), compared to 15 TOPS on the Snapdragon 865, while delivering three times better power efficiency. Additionally, Qualcomm is promising big improvements in both scalar and tensor AI tasks as part of those upgrades.

The Snapdragon 888 also features the second-generation Qualcomm Sensing Hub, a dedicated low-power AI processor for smaller hardware-based tasks, like identifying when you raise your phone to light up the display. The new second-gen Sensing Hub is dramatically improved, which means the phone will be able to rely less on the main Hexagon processor for those tasks.

All of this adds up to a substantial boost in Qualcomm’s — and therefore, nearly every Android flagship’s — capabilities for what our smartphones will be able to do. The first Snapdragon 888 smartphones are expected to show up in early 2021, which means it won’t be long before we’ll be able to try out the next generation of Android flagships for ourselves.

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Amazon customers with missing consoles offered new PS5 stock – Eurogamer.net

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With a deadline to accept by this weekend.

Amazon has begun contacting customers hit by its launch day missing-presumed-stolen PlayStation 5 disaster, and is offering a priority order for a replacement.

But because all affected orders were mass-refunded last week, this will now mean ensuring payment details are up to date and accepting a new £449.99 charge.

One affected customer – Push Square managing director Anthony Dickens – shared the email he received from Amazon via Twitter. In the message, Amazon gives a deadline of 23:59 UK time this Saturday, 5th December to accept.

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Can anything be done to stop the PS5 and Xbox Series X scalpers?

You’ll need to contact Amazon via its website livetext or phoneline to sort this (affected customers should already be familiar with those!). After that it should be job done, and there’s no need to put in a new order via Amazon’s website or sit and wait around for whenever new stock actually goes on sale.

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“Please note that this offer is solely for the purpose of replacing the PlayStation 5 that you ordered,” Amazon’s email reads. “It cannot be transferred to another customer and cannot be used to purchase additional units of the PlayStation 5.”

I’ve just heard from a couple of the customers I’ve been speaking with over the past few weeks who have also received similar emails from Amazon. If you’re an affected customer, it’s worth checking to see if you’ve received one too. And if you’re left waiting, do let us know.

Amazon previously pledged to “put it right” for all affected customers after shockingly widespread claims of stolen deliveries. One customer even pursued their PS5 order to the depot, where they were told a driver would be sacked.

Earlier this week I contacted Amazon to ask what it was doing to investigate its PS5 launch day issues, and whether it could reassure customers with future orders over the security of their orders. The company has yet to respond.

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PS5 comes out top in massive month for console sales | UK Monthly Charts – GamesIndustry.biz

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Almost 900,000 games consoles were sold in the UK during November, according to the last GfK market data.

The hardware data is for the four weeks ending November 28th.

In terms of home consoles (not handhelds), it is the eighth biggest month for console sales and the second biggest month for console revenue, behind December 2013, which was when PS4 and Xbox One received big new shipments.

The most successful machine of last month was the newly released PlayStation 5, which means that Nintendo Switch had to settle for second place for only the third time in two years. Even so, it was a big month for Switch, with hardware sales up 96% over the previous four weeks. The console had a very successful Black Friday, and so far this year, Switch hardware sales are up 63.1% year-on-year.

In terms of boxed software, 2.38 million games were sold in the UK last month (October 25th – November 21st). Switch games were the most popular of the month, accounting for nearly 35% of all games sold, followed by PS4.

Nintendo was the top publisher of the month thanks to continued strong sales of Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Mario Kart 8: Deluxe, Minecraft and Super Mario 3D All-Stars. The company held off strong competition from Ubisoft, which saw big sales of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla (No.2) and Watch Dogs: Legion (No.5).

The biggest selling new game of the month was Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War. The Activision shooter sold significantly fewer boxed units than previous games in the franchise, with the vast majority of sales coming via digital download.

The other big new game in the charts is PS4 and PS5 game Spider-Man: Miles Morales. The title reached No.4 and primarily sold on PS5. In fact, it was comfortably the biggest PS5 launch game, ahead of Call of Duty.

The launch of new consoles unsurprisingly caused a spike in the accessories market. Nearly 1.25 million accessories were sold in November (October 25th – November 21st), which is up 61.4% month-on-month and 48.3% compared with last November.

The best-selling accessories of the month were the PS5 DualSense Controller (No.1) and the Pulse 3D Headset for PS4 and PS5 (No.2). The PS4 DualShock drops from the top spot to No.3, meanwhile the new Xbox controllers debut at No.4 (Shock Blue), No.5 (Carbon Black) and No.9 (Robot White). Other new accessories in the charts include the Media Remote for PS5 (No.7), the DualSense Charging Station (No.8), and the PS5 HD Camera (No.11).

Here is the UK Top 20 Best-Selling Boxed Games for November (GfK data)

Position Title
1 Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War
2 Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
3 FIFA 21
4 Marvel’s Spider-Man Miles Morales
5 Watch Dogs: Legion
6 Animal Crossing: New Horizons
7 Mario Kart 8: Deluxe
8 Minecraft (Switch)
9 Super Mario 3D All-Stars
10 Fortnite: The Last Laugh Bundle
11 Ring Fit Adventure
12 Marvel’s Avengers
13 Minecraft Dungeons
14 Grand Theft Auto 5
15 Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity
16 Demon’s Souls
17 Star Wars: Squadrons
18 51 Worldwide Games
19 Just Dance 2021
20 Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time

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