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Why Apple killed the floppy disk and headphone jack before you were ready to give them up – CTV News



From the floppy disk to the headphone jack, Apple has a history of removing ubiquitous technology from its gadgets before people think they’re ready to give them up.

In some cases, Apple’s changes have been about making devices faster, more functional, thinner, or less tied down by a tangle of wires. In other instances, Apple pushed industry standards for technology in a new direction.

Now, Apple could be ready to take the next big leap with a wireless iPhone.

Here are a few major examples of Apple ditching tech.


A wireless iPhone?

Top Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, of TF International Securities, released a report earlier this month predicting that Apple will remove the lightning cable port from high-end iPhone models in 2021. That would create a wireless version of the iPhone that Kuo said would help to differentiate the more expensive iPhone models and boost sales.

Kuo’s forecast isn’t a certainty and Apple declined to comment on it. But if the predictions are borne out, it could be a sign that Apple will move toward killing the lightning charger altogether.

Apple already sells wireless charging docks that work with the iPhone 8 and later. But it’s not clear consumers are clamoring for a fully wireless iPhone just yet.

For one thing, wireless charging is just not as fast as traditional, wired charging yet. The 18-Watt wired charger was a major selling point for the iPhone 11 because of its rapid charging speed, according to Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives. By contrast, the fastest wireless chargers offer only 7.5 watts.

There would be other challenges, too. Customers would have to toss their wired headphones and chargers and buy new ones. And many older cars enabled with CarPlay — Apple’s technology that lets users see Apple Maps, Music and other apps on their car screens — require a plug for the feature to work.


Death of the disk drive

With the 1998 release of the iMac, Apple did away with the floppy disk drive, leaving only a rewritable CD drive.

That lasted about 10 years, and then Apple killed the CD drive, as well.


The MagSafe charger

This popular charging technology disappeared from Apple laptops with the 2015 MacBook Air and 2016 MacBook Pro. It was a controversial decision — the magnetic charging cable was popular because if it was unexpectedly yanked on (say, by tripping over the cord), the charger would easily disconnect rather than pulling the laptop down to the ground.

Those Macs also did away with the traditional USB port. The USB port and MagSafe charger were replaced with a USB-C port that doubles as a charger and a way to quickly transfer data to and from the computer.

The switch allowed Apple to make a thinner, lighter computer but it meant that users who still used the larger USB drives had to buy adapters to connect them to their new computers.


The 30-pin charging cable

In 2012, Apple switched to the lightning cable, and Apple customers said goodbye to the larger 30-pin charging port, which had been used in iPhones, iPads and iPods for a decade.

But the company has slowly been phasing the lightning cable out of its iPad designs. And the lightning cable doesn’t plug into most Apple computers these days.


Goodbye, headphone jack (hello, AirPods)

The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, released in 2016, got rid of the headphone jack, instead featuring just one USB-C port that could be used for headphones and charging (and requiring customers to buy new headphones or an adapter in order to use them with the new phone).

Separately, this new model also got rid of the physical home button on the front of the phone, opting instead for a virtual button with haptic feedback, which simulates the feel of pushing the home button. The home button went away entirely with the debut of the iPhone X in 2017. This year, Apple made no new iPhones with home buttons.


Touch ID vs. Face ID

Many users were skeptical when Apple introduced Touch ID, its fingerprint sensor unlocking technology, for iPhones in 2013. But privacy and security fears surrounding the use of biometric data didn’t stop Apple from removing Touch ID and replacing it with Face ID, facial recognition unlocking technology, with the iPhone X in 2017 (users opt-in to use the tech).

When it announced the iPhone X, the company said the new unlocking technology was significantly more secure than Touch ID — the odds of someone wrongly gaining access to a phone with Face ID is one in 1 million, Apple said, versus the one in 50,000 change with Touch ID.


The “butterfly” keyboard saga

But such changes have not always stuck.

The 2015 MacBook Air also came with a new kind of keyboard, called the “butterfly,” replacing the old “scissor” style keyboard. The update was another way of making its laptops thinner, and the keys require less forceful tapping in order to work.

But the butterfly keyboard has not been well received by customers, even after two redesigns. Many complained about the keys sticking or malfunctioning, and Apple publicly apologized earlier this year.

In November, Apple released a new MacBook Pro that reverted back to the old (though slightly updated) scissor keyboard. And Kuo predicted in a note earlier this year that Apple’s other computers will soon get the scissor keyboard back, too.


Speaking of keyboards…

This getting rid of standard technology thing dates all the way back to Apple’s very first Macintosh computer in 1985.

Unlike the early Apple 1 and Apple 2 computers — and other companies’ models at the time — the Macintosh came without arrow keys on the keyboard to train early personal computer customers how to use a mouse. It turned out, though, that people wanted both a mouse and arrow keys, so Apple reinstated the arrow keys, which have remained ever since.

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Microsoft launches Mesh mixed reality platform at Ignite – IT World Canada



Microsoft kicked off its virtual Ignite conference with a splash as chief executive officer Satya Nadella announced the company’s new mixed reality platform, Microsoft Mesh. Powered by Azure, Mesh allows people to interact in a virtual or augmented reality world.

More Ignite coverage

Microsoft announces three new industry-specific cloud offerings

“Mesh enables you to interact holographically with others with true presence in a natural way,” Nadella said during his keynote. “I can meet my colleagues on the other side of the world collaborating as though we were in the same room. Again, with no screen mediating our interactions. It’s pretty mind-boggling to imagine, but this is the future we are building. One of my favourite lines we used to describe the possibilities when we first introduced HoloLens was when you change the way you see the world, you change the world you see. I can’t wait to see the world we create together.”

Virtual worlds

He then handed the reins to Alex Kipman, a Microsoft technical fellow in AI and mixed reality, who spent the next 45 minutes presenting from several virtual worlds. In an unusual twist, viewers could don their own headsets, join him, or get a similar (although 2D) experience viewing the keynote on the AltspaceVR website – or through the desktop app.

Alex Kipman, technical fellow, AI and mixed reality

“Today, you and I make history as we collaborate on the largest mixed reality show ever created,” Kipman said. “Microsoft Mesh connects the physical and the digital worlds, allowing us to transcend the traditional boundaries of space and time. Microsoft Mesh is powered by Azure, and all of its AI and compute capabilities working seamlessly together from the intelligent edge to the intelligent cloud.”

Mesh, he said, lets developers create immersive experiences that lead users to connect from anywhere, feed true presence in mixed reality, and let workflows transition from familiar 2D mediums to the world of mixed reality. He said that over half of the Fortune 500 companies have purchased Hololens.

For example, Toyota uses Hololens, Dynamics 365 Remote Assist, and mixed reality services to improve maintenance efficiency. Technicians wearing Hololens can view information such as wiring harness configurations on specific car models via Azure Object Anchors while working on the vehicle. This process reduces inspection times by up to 20 per cent. The company is rolling out the Hololens 2 solution to all of its dealerships in Japan.

Another customer, Accenture, is experimenting with hybrid workflows to increase accessibility, allow remote collaboration and minimize unnecessary travel with a Mesh-enabled alt space. Since Mesh will work on HoloLens 2, Windows virtual reality headsets, Oculus headsets, PCs, Macs, and even smartphones, users are free to pick the most convenient device.

Beyond the enterprise

“But what happens when you go beyond the enterprise?” Kipman asked. “Collaboration doesn’t just take place in enterprise settings. Sometimes we just call it hanging out with friends. With Microsoft Mesh, you can connect from any device on any platform, transforming the way we connect to one another. Enabling hanging out wherever your friends are.”

Alex Kipman, Microsoft’s technical fellow, AI and mixed reality shows off the ways Mesh can be used outside of the enterprise setting. Source: Ignite keynote

In his virtual arena, the audience consisted of the avatars of attendees joining through VR. Kipman and several of his guests, including Niantic CEO John Hanke (who, with Pikachu, interacted with a colleague in a Pokémon GO battle), appeared via holoportation, which uses 3D capture technology to beam a lifelike image of the individual into the virtual world.

Alex Kipman, Microsoft and the virtual avatar for John Hanke, Niantic.

“Whether you’re exploring a brand-new park, or just walking through a familiar neighbourhood, augmented reality can make the real world a little more magical,” Hanke observed. “In the future, we imagine a real-world filled with adventures, helpful information, and of course, a lot of friends. AR that’s grounded in the real world, aware of us, and the environment, is an incredibly powerful starting point. And it becomes even more powerful when we can share it.”

In conjunction with Mesh’s release, Microsoft is also releasing developer tools to build Mesh experiences.

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Google pledges not to use other web tracking tools after phasing out cookies – Financial Post



Privacy activists have criticized tech companies for using cookies to gather web browsing records across websites they don’t own

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Now, Google is pledging it will not use other technology to replace the cookie or build features inside Chrome to allow itself access to that data, though it continues to test ways for businesses to target ads to large groups of anonymous users with common interests.

“Keeping the internet open and accessible for everyone requires all of us to do more to protect privacy — and that means an end to not only third-party cookies, but also any technology used for tracking individual people as they browse the web,” Google said in the blog post.

Rival advertising tech companies are building tools to identify users across the web anonymously, including Criteo SA and The Trade Desk.

Shares of both companies dropped in January 2020 immediately after Google first announced it would eliminate cookies, but have risen consistently over the past year.

© Thomson Reuters 2021

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Microsoft Teams Gets End-to-End Encryption, Channel-Sharing, Webinar Support for 1,000 Attendees, and Mor… – Gadgets 360



Microsoft Teams app has got new features including end-to-end encryption for calls, webinar support for up to 1,000 attendees, a new channel-sharing feature, and support for intelligent speakers that can differentiate between voices of up to 10 participants. Microsoft announced the new features during its ongoing Ignite 2021 developers’ event. It also introduced Microsoft PowerPoint Live in Microsoft Teams for more engaging presentations and a new Presenter Mode for customised video feeds during virtual meetings.

As per the announcements made during Microsoft Ignite 2021, the company said that its communication and collaboration app Microsoft Teams can now support up to 1,000 attendees during webinars. “And if your webinar grows to over 1,000 attendees, Teams will seamlessly scale to accommodate a 10,000-person, view-only broadcast experience,” Microsoft said. The limit will be increased to up to 20,000 people till the end of the year in order to facilitate remote work amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The new event capabilities are included with several Microsoft Office and other plans.

Microsoft Teams will now also support end-to-end encryption (E2EE) for one-to-one Teams calls. Microsoft says that a company’s IT department will have full discretion over who can use E2EE in the organisation.

Another important update regarding Microsoft Teams is the announcement of Teams Connect, a new feature that allows a firm to collaborate with multiple organisations internally or externally. With Microsoft Teams Connect, organisations can share channels with anyone, which will appear within a person’s primary Microsoft Teams account alongside other teams and channels. For example, if a team in an organisation is working on a specific project in collaboration with another team at a different company, they can share channels in order to easily access content for a streamlined workflow.

Microsoft Teams Connect is available today in private preview and will roll out broadly later this calendar year, said the company. Furthermore, the company is also bringing new gallery views to Microsoft Teams Rooms, including Together Mode “to make it easier to see everyone in the meeting”.

Microsoft Teams Intelligent speakers automatically generate transcripts during a meeting
Photo Credit: Microsoft

Microsoft also launched new Microsoft Teams Intelligent speakers. Microsoft says that these speakers can identify and differentiate the voices of up to 10 people talking in a Microsoft Teams Room. Created in partnership with EPOS and Yealink, the speakers can also automatically generate a transcript during a meeting, which will be attributed to the person speaking at any given point. The company is also giving users full control to turn attribution on/ off as a privacy and security measure. As per a report by The Verge, these speakers also support translation if users want to follow a meeting in a different language. However, there is no information on what all languages are supported for translation.

The company also announced Microsoft PowerPoint Live in Microsoft Teams that enhances the ease of presenting by bringing notes, slides, meeting chat, and participants all in a single view. Microsoft Teams will also soon get a new Presenter Mode that will show the presenter’s video feed alongside their content as they present.

What will be the most exciting tech launch of 2021? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.

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