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iPad Pro — Buy Now or Wait for A14X iPad Pro?

Eighth GPU core. Wide angle camera. LiDAR Scanner. 6GB of memory on every model. That’s how Apple updated the iPad Pro last year.

I’ve been using it every day since it first came out alongside the Magic Keyboard and I’m going to tell you whether or not you should get it now… or wait for the next-generation version that’s rumored to be coming out something later this year.

Design

The 2020 iPad Pro kept the same design as the 2018 iPad Pro — because that was the biggest redesign in the history of the iPad. Which also means we’re unlikely to get a design anywhere nearly as big anytime soon.

So, if design is high on your list, go ahead and get the current iPad Pro, because the next one just isn’t going to look much different.

Display

Liquid Retina, Apple’s term for the corner-to-rounded-corner LCD display technology first unveiled with the iPhone XR, is what the 2018 iPad Pro used and what the 2020 iPad Pro still uses. And it’s among the best LCD that LCD can be. Just Retina high-density crisp, P3 wide gamut colorful, and up to 120Hz ProMotion refresh rate smooth. But, because it’s LCD, it doesn’t get the deep black, peak brightness, or wide contrast ratio — basically, the high dynamic range — of OLED.

Since Apple’s apparently still not happy with the tradeoffs OLED forces at larger screen sizes, rumor has it the 2021 iPad Pro will go with miniLED instead. That’s a technology that tries to get close to OLED levels for HDR, while also avoiding some OLED problems.

So, if you don’t care about high dynamic range, in other words, watching HDR content like you would on an iPhone or OLED TV, then you can happily get a current generation iPad Pro.

If you really want that high dynamic range, though, if you just insist on HDR all the things, then you’re going to want to wait on the next iPad Pro.

Compute

The 2020 iPad Pro has an Apple A12Z system-on-a-chip. That’s the 2018 iPad Pro’s A12X but with higher binning, so instead of just 7 functional GPU cores, it has 8. But all of those cores, CPU and GPU, are still A12 generation architecture and IP. Just slightly better optimized and with a bit more graphics punch. And while it may not match the single core performance of the A14 in the iPhone 12 or current iPad Air, it’s still a monster when it comes to multicore. And I’ve yet to maxi it out in daily use.

The 2021 iPad Pro, though, is expected to be getting an Apple A14X. That’ll be the A14 like the iPhone 12 and current iPad Air, but with the extra performance and graphics cores, like the A12Z. In other words, pretty much what Apple just shipped as the M1, minus some Mac-specific IP. Which means it’ll be the the absolutely most monstrous multicore iPad ever. Or, at last until the next, next update.

So, if single core performance isn’t the most important thing to you, or good enough is just good enough for now, now, now, get the current A12Z iPad Pro.

But, if you need the absolute fastest multicore iPad ever, or you just want to make sure you get iPadOS updates for absolutely as long as possible, wait on that rumored A14X.

Capacity

The 2018 iPad Pro introduced a 1TB option that also came with 6GB of memory. The 2020 iPad Pro pushed that 6GB of memory across the entire lineup. And…

It’s honestly hard to tell what Apple will do with the 2020 iPad Pro. It could stay exactly the same, or Apple could decide to push it even further with up to 1.5TB or 2TB of storage and up to 8GB of RAM. Because, for pro apps like Photoshop, the more the better, and the top iPad not even having as much RAM as the bottom Mac, even given the difference in memory handling between iOS and macOS… is just weird.

At the lower end, it’s also possible Apple will continue to offer more storage at the same prices, which they’ve done every so often over the last few years.

So, if you don’t need anything more than 1TB and 6GB, then you don’t need anything more than the current iPad Pro.

But, if you really do need more storage and more memory, you can roll the dice by waiting and seeing if Apple decides to deliver more, or just more for your money, with the 2021 model.

Ports

The 2018 iPad Pro was the first iOS-base device to switch from Lightning to USB-C, something the 2020 iPad Air did as well, and… none of the iPhones have done at all, and may never do. It gives the iPads access to more and faster peripherals, almost on par with the Mac.

Almost, because unlike any of the current Macs, the iPad Pro USB-C port is only USB-C, where the Macs also support Thunderbolt 3.

Now, Apple added on-board Thunderbolt controllers to the M1 for the new Macs, and since the A14X would theoretically be very similar to the M1, many of us are holding out hope that the next generation iPad Pro will also get a thunderbolt controller and also support TB3. Nothing exists until Apple officially announces it, though, so right now it remains just that — a hope.

So, if USB-C is all you need, then the current iPad Pro will give you exactly what you need.

But, if you want to hold out and hope along with us for Thunderbolt 3, then you’ll need to wait on the 2021 iPad Pro at the earliest.

Wireless

The 2020 iPad Pro brought Wi-Fi 6, which… is better than Wi-Fi 5. But there are rumors the 2021 might bring Wi-Fi 6E, which adds 6GHz and makes it actually really better.

Likewise, since the iPhone 12 was all about 5G, it’s a super safe bet that the 2021 iPad Pro will go 5G as well. With support for both Frequency Range 1, the low and mid bands, and Frequency Range 2, the high bands, aka mmWave.

So, if you’re fine with Wi-Fi 6 and LTE, you’ll be fine with the current iPad Pro.

But, if you really want Wi-Fi 6E and 5G, you’ll really want to wait on the 2021 ver

Camera

The 2020 iPad Pro received a fairly major camera update, at least as iPad camera updates go. It got a dual camera system for the first time, adding in an ultra-wide angle. And it also got a LiDAR Scanner for near-instant augmented reality tracking. Sadly, the LiDAR Scanner wasn’t hooked into the camera system like it is on the iPhone 12 either then or, double sadly, now.

And… there aren’t any solid rumors about the 2021 iPad Pro being any better. That means we’ll probably see the same kind of incremental camera hardware improvements we always do, and the A14X image signal processor will bring way better computational photography to the table, but it will almost certainly, once again, fall way, way short of what the same generation iPhone is rocking.

So, you’re probably find just getting the current generation iPad Pro when it comes to the camera.

But, if you wait, you will get slightly better optics and at least some of the latest computational camera benefits. Even though I’d love, love to see Apple get just way more aggressive here.

Extras

The 2018 iPad Pro dropped Touch ID for Face ID, which was great at the time but has become less great in the age of masks. Apple’s begun working around this with the Watch, and there are rumors that the next iPhone will bring back Touch ID but in-display. If the iPhone is only getting that this fall, though, odds are the iPad Pro will only get it after that, in the next next update in 2022 or 2023.

Likewise, with so much work from home going on, there’s been a lot of frustration with Apple putting the front-facing camera in portrait mode while we’re all using it so often in landscape. Meaning all anyone ever sees of us is wicked side-eye. But, there haven’t been any credible rumors of Apple changing that… like at all.

So, if you’re waiting for better biometrics or video conferencing optics, you may have a long while still to wait.

And while you’re waiting, check out this playlist, where I run down everything Apple has coming our way next. See you in the video!

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Apple March 2021 Event Preview!

Yeah, we’re doing this again. 2021: 2020 Reloaded style. Don’t even… You know the drill.

Logo. Speed ramp. Drone shot. Apple Park. Transition. Steady Cam. Rapid zoom. Tim Cook. Good Morning!

And then… what exactly? Apple TV, iPad Pro, iPhone SE Plus, AirTags, AirPods, M1X Macs?

See my weekly column at iMore to find out!

https://www.imore.com/if-apple-has-march-2021-event-heres-what-id-love-see

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Face ID — Apple’s iOS 14.5 Fix Fully Explained!

You’re out and about in this… zombie apocalypse, just trying to live your life, you go to unlock your iPhone, but because you’re wearing a mask, Face ID just drops you straight into Passcode, and you’re left frustrated, annoyed, trying to poke out those digits… like an animal. While the world burns.

And no, Apple can’t run to your house and weld Touch ID back on. And that doesn’t even work if you’re wearing gloves anyway. And maybe the next iPhone will address all this, maybe not, but you need some help with this iPhone and you need it now. Now. Now.

Apple has a plan. Is it a good plan? That’s what we’re here to figure out. But it starts with the Apple Watch and iOS 14.5, currently in beta. If you have it — or when you get it — jump into Settings > Face ID & Passcode. Authenticate, go down to Unlock with Apple Watch, and switch it on.

Now, what happens behind the scenes… is a lot. Because, your iPhone has been able to unlock your Apple Watch since the original Apple Watch launched way back in 2015. So, letting your Apple Watch also unlock your iPhone is… complicated. Like a door with keys on both sides. And Apple wants to avoid any possible security issues, exploits or, you know, universe ending space time paradoxes.

That’s why it’s being handled in a very specific, hyper narrow, highly focused context. And that’s unlocking your iPhone and only unlocking your iPhone. Not Apple Pay, because you can already do that directly with your Apple Watch. And not iTunes or App Store purchases, or iCloud Keychain, at least not for now. Just iPhone unlock. Only iPhone unlock. Here’s how it works.

You start off by using Face ID exactly as you normally would. Just… look at your iPhone. But, if you’re wearing a mask and Face ID can’t “see” your nose and mouth — in other words, can’t scan enough of your facial geometry to reliably identify you — instead of immediately failing and demanding you enter your Passcode, the way it did before, it’ll now kick over to your Apple Watch to confirm your identity.

For that to work, obviously, you need an Apple Watch. And a recent one. Series 3 or later, because it also needs to be able to run the latest version of watchOS in order for all this to work. And if that bothers you, if that’s a deal breaker for you, let me know in the comments.

That Apple Watch needs to be paired with the iPhone you’re using and on your wrist with Wrist Detection enabled — which it is the default… but just in case you’ve turned it off at some point. That’s the system that uses the heart rate sensors to keep your Apple Watch unlocked while you’re wearing it but also to lock it immediately when it comes off.

That’s to stop someone else from trying to use your Apple Watch to unlock your phone, but more on that in a minute.

So, you have to be wearing your Apple Watch and it has to have been unlocked, either via your iPhone or because you entered the Watch passcode earlier. Because, if your Watch doesn’t know you’re you, it can’t vouch that you’re you to your iPhone.

Similarly, you have to have used Face ID or your Passcode to successfully unlock your iPhone at least once, recently, as well. That makes sure Face ID is active and ready to rock.

And while this all may sound super-involved, it’s really just to make sure everything is all nice and securely authenticated before enabling this added, extra level of convenience. And, really, all of us are doing all of this every day pretty much all the time now anyway, automatically. I’m just going over all the little details because it’s what I do, and if you’re here for it, do me a solid and hit that subscribe button and bell and help this community grow.

Now, when you want to unlock, your Apple Watch and iPhone have to be in close proximity — Ideally, you’re the one wearing your Watch and trying to unlock your iPhone. But since it’s still in beta, we’ll have to wait and see what the exact range ends up being. Not that most of us are in the habit of leaving our iPhones lying around, unattended, where they might get pilfered anyway.

I’ll get to situations like if you’re sleeping in a second, but… if you’re worried about someone else picking up your iPhone and trying to unlock it using your Apple Watch, the way older, cruder Bluetooth Trusted Object systems worked, well, they’d first have to be wearing a mask to avoid Face ID just falling back to Passcode immediately.

Even then, to prevent pranks or shenanigans, whenever your iPhone unlocks via the Apple Watch, you get a Taptic notification right on your wrist, and a button that immediately lets you re-lock your iPhone if wasn’t you and someone else was trying to get in without your permission. Also, if your iPhone is moved out of Bluetooth range of your Apple Watch within one minute of your iPhone being unlocked by your Apple Watch, your iPhone will re-lock automatically. Just in case.

And if you are worried about a snoopy roommate trying to use your Apple Watch to unlock your iPhone while you’re sleeping, well, the whole unlock with Apple Watch system is automatically disabled if your Apple Watch is in Bedtime mode. And even if it’s not, if your Watch hasn’t detected any movement in the last little while and isn’t reasonably sure you’re awake… or conscious, it’s going to decline to authenticate as well. Again, just in case.

Like I said, this isn’t some crude bluetooth trusted object system. Convenience is absolutely still being balanced against security. There’s just a ton of work going on behind the scenes to make sure that, when you’re out and about with your mask on, and need to use your iPhone, you can just lift it up, look at it — and even with your mask still on — your Apple Watch will authenticate you and unlock your iPhone so you can use it just exactly when you need to.

Now, I do hope that Apple tightens up the range before release. It’s currently about 2 meters and that feels just too broad for me in the context of using my watch to unlock my phone, which should both be in my possession at the time, meaning only a meter or so at most. I’m assuming Apple is using time of flight, like they do for the Apple Watch to Mac unlock, to prevent relay and replay attacks, so it’s possible they can find a sweet spot where your iPhone will never be out of watch range but also unlikely to be out of reach where someone else can nab it.

Ultimately, though, those of you who’ve been here with me for a while know where I’m going to go with this — we need to move from single, reactive authentication to multiple, active authentication. In other words, instead of having to Touch ID, Face ID, or Passcode into our devices every time, like an animal, the devices should be constantly checking every touch of our finger, glance of our face, snippet of our voice, along with gait analysis and trusted objects like an Apple Watch, combined with time, place, and behavior data, and just maintain a trust threshold. If they’re certain we… are us, they should just be unlocked and ready to use. And when they’re not, that when they should challenge for a full scan of our finger or face or passcode.

Rumors of Touch ID returning alongside Face ID in the iPhone 13, and things like Apple Watch unlock make it feel like we’re getting there… just not anywhere near quickly enough.

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M1 MacBook Pro — Buy Now or Wait for M1X?

The M1 MacBook Pro. Currently the most powerful portable Apple Silicon, with not only performance but battery life that just clowns the same, low-power Intel version from the same year. But, also… stuck with the exact same design.

It’s really more of a MacBook Air Pro, and I’ve been reviewing it since it first came out, so I’m here to tell you whether you should get it now, or wait for the MacBook Pro Pro versions that are coming up next.

Design

The M1 MacBook Pro that Apple released late last year is the entry-level MacBook Pro, and I don’t just mean by price-point, but also literally the entry-level MacBook Pro. Apple opened it up, ripped out the intel, slammed in the M1, closed it up, and called it a day. At least when it comes to the design. Which is totally fine as new silicon launch platforms go, because it keeps everything else nice and stable and lets everyone focus on launching that new silicon. And since it’s barely any bigger than a MacBook Air, and still paradoxically thinner at its thickest point, it remains the best design for anyone who wants maximum performance from an ultra portable. At least for now.

Because what’s rumored to be coming next is that long-anticipated redesign. Specifically, something that keeps the flat corners but also flattens out the currently curvy top and bottom. What that’ll mean in terms of external ergonomics and internal capacity, we’ll have to wait and see.

So, if you don’t care about the design, and the current bead-blasted aluminum unibody is perfectly fine for you, go ahead and get the M1 MacBook Pro now.

But, if you’ve just been aching for that redesign, and you want your MacBook Pro to look even more like an iPad Pro… taco? Then go ahead and wait on the M1X version rumored for later this year.

Display

The M1 MacBook Pro kept the same 13.4-inch Retina high-density, P2 wide-gamut, LCD display as the previous generation Intel models. No better, but only because it was already one of the very best LCD laptop displays in the business. It’s just a little tight if you’re trying to do a lot of audio, video, or code editing strictly on the built-in display.

The M1X MacBook Pro, though, is rumored to be getting an even bigger, better, bezel-blasting display. Closer to 14-inches, and possibly even miniLED, which uses local dimming zones for deeper blacks, bright whites, better contrast, and closer to full-on high-dynamic range, or HDR. Maybe not as dynamic as OLED, but also not as problematic. Also, for those who want more of a portable workstation, a 16-inch M1X should be coming around the same time.

So, if the current LCD display is good enough for you, get the current M1 MacBook Pro.

But, if you really want something a little bigger and with a higher dynamic range so you can really get your HDR on, wait for the 14-inch M1X. Maybe even and especially the 16-inch version.

Compute

The M1 MacBook Pro is Apple’s first generation of Apple silicon, based on the same IP and architecture as the A14 Bionic in the iPhone 12. It’s an ultra-low-power system on a chip, but it’s got just about the best single-core performance in the business. Especially with the active cooling system that lets it run, full out, for far longer than the Air. Also, it’s not just fast it’s responsive. So much so, it makes using the Mac feel like using the iPad. Just… Instant. It runs native apps better than ever before and slugabed intel apps — especially the ones that lean hard on graphics — surprisingly well. The up to 20 hours of battery life are beyond mind blowing. It really makes the Pro the M1 Mac to beat right now.

But, it’s the ultra-lower power version and that means, yes, there will also be a higher-power option. An M1X, or whatever Apple ends up calling the chipset that adds even more performance and graphics cores for even better multicore performance. Maybe even lets the single core run just a little bit faster as well. How many more cores remains an open question, but rumors are pointing to anywhere from 12 to 16, so 1 and a half to double. Either of which is really going to shake things up.

So, if you want the best mobile processor on the market right now, and you want it right now, now, now, get the M1 MacBook Pro.

But, if you want even more multicore to throw at your problems, then you’ll want to wait on the M1X MacBook Pro.

Capacity

One of the best parts of the M1 MacBook Pro is the unified memory. Just a big pool of 8GB or 16GB slapped right on the chipset and shared between the CPU, GPU, neural engine, and image signal processor. Combined with everything from memory compression to ultra-fast swap — I mean 8GB is still 8GB, but it’s the very best 8GB it can be. Same for 16GB. Especially when it comes to graphics, because embedded graphics is usually far, far more RAM constrained. And bottlenecked. But those are the only options on the entry level Pro, both the old Intel and the new M1… 8GB or 16GB.

But, an M1X MacBook Pro will almost certainly take a page from the higher-end Intel MacBook Pro and go all the way up to 32GB on the 14-inch, 64GB on the 16-inch. At least to start.

Same with the storage capacity. Instead of being capped at 2TB, they should mirror the Intel models and go to 4TB and 8TB respectively. Which. Just. Drool.

So, if you don’t think you’ll need more than 16GB and 2TB for your MacBook Pro, go ahead and get the M1 now.

But, if you really want more, especially if you want much, much more, you’ll want to wait on the M1X.

Ports

One of the biggest compromises on the entry-level MacBook Pro, since Apple introduced it back in 2016, is that it only has two USB-C / Thunderbolt 3 ports, and they’re both on your left. Which makes it more than slightly annoying if the only power plug in range is decidedly on your right. It made the lack of MagSafe, on this model in particular, particularly hard to swallow. And the M1 version did nothing at all to address this.

Simply by virtual of being the higher-end MacBook Pro, though, the M1X version should have four ports, two on each side. Rumor has it, though, that it’ll also bring back both MagSafe for power and an SD Card slot for media, something else that went missing back in 2016. Especially if those are in addition to, and not instead of any of the USB-C ports, that’ll make the next MacBooks even more Pro. Again.

So, if two times USB-C / Thunderbolt 3 is all you need, then go ahead and get the M1 MacBook Pro now.

But, if you’re willing to wait, four ports, maybe even MagSafe and SD, could be yours on the M1X.

Pricing

The entry-level, 2-port M1 MacBook Pro starts at $1299, which really fits in with it’s more portable, quasi-MacBook Air Pro origins. The current higher-end, 4 port, 13-inch MacBook Pro starts at $1799, and the 16-inch, at $2399.

Apple could hold the line on those prices for the M1X 14-inch and 16-inch MacBooks Pro respectively, or they could bump them up slightly to pay down whatever new technologies, like miniLED they end up including. We’ll just have to wait and see.

But, if money matters and you want an entry level MacBook Pro, you’ll want the M1, available now.

And if money — and time — are no object and you’re just lusting after a higher-end Pro, you’ll want to wait on the M1X Pro.

And while you’re waiting, check out this playlist, where I preview all the Macs that are coming next. Just click on the playlist and I’ll see you next video.

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Favorite iPhones Ever! (Feat. MKBHD, iJustine, & More!)

I’m so beyond thrilled and excited to tell you that you can right now, today, go and watch my very first Nebula Original and see me talking with a bunch of my creator friends like MKBHD, iJustine, John Gruber, Brian Tong, Jacklyn Dallas, Georgia Dow, and more, about the impact Apple’s iPhone has had on this industry and our lives.

Including, for just a few minutes out of this exclusive techu-mentary, which single iPhone, if we all had to choose, was our very favorite.

Watch the whole entire Nebula Original at:

https://watchnebula.com/videos/impact-iphone

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AirTags — Are They Private & Secure?

AirTags — what are they, where are they, when will we get them, but much, much more importantly, how will they work… I mean, exactly, crucially, critically, when it comes to protecting our security and privacy?

Picture it. It’s March or maybe September, whenever Apple thinks enough of us are going out into the world again. You unbox your brand-new AirTags. Simple, elegant, little quarter-sized disks that you can use to put pretty much anything on Apple’s FindMy network. The same network that currently powers Find My iPhone, Find my Mac, and more.

Your iPhone immediately detects them, and you see the pairing interface slide right on up. Animated as always. Just like AirPods. Tap to connect and done.

But what you don’t see, not at all, is that at that very moment, your iPhone generates an elliptic curve P-224 private key pair as well as a symmetric key and stores both in your iCloud Keychain. That’s Apple’s built-in security system, the same one used for accounts and passwords. Then, iCloud syncs it to all your other Apple devices over secure CloudKit. The same way health data and other sensitive information gets synced.

And this is exactly the kind of tech I explain on this channel all the time, so if you’re into it, hit that subscribe button and bell and let’s make this community grow.

Then… then… you put your new AirTag into a keychain case, sold separately, because of course it is, attach it to your house keys, and then just go about living your 2021 life. You know, the second Matrix sequel of years.

Then, maybe in a few days or a week, you double mask up and make a zombie apocalypse-style supply run to the local Quicky Mart, the post office, maybe Big Belly Burgers for some take out, before heading home again, only to discover you’ve lost your house keys.

But, instead of cursing, retracing all your steps, wasting the rest of the day as penance for your folly, you simply fire up the FindMy app on your iPhone, swipe past devices and Friends, land on the AirTags page, see exactly where you left your keys, and go get them.

And that works because, your AirTags have been been broadcasting on Bluetooth Low Energy. Just stealthily, silently, pinging away. Yes, one ping only, at least at a time. They’re not just tags, they’re FindMy Beacons. Pinging away.

And that ping is based on your symmetric key which, because of P-224, is 28 bites, and fits ever so nicely inside the 32-bite packet limit for Bluetooth 5.0.

And because it’s Bluetooth, it doesn’t matter that the AirTag isn’t on Wi-Fi or a cellular network. It’s doesn’t need to get onto the world wide internet. It’s just raising its electromagnetic hand locally. Hyper locally. Within Bluetooth range.

So, wait, if it isn’t on the ‘net, how will you find it? I’ll get to that in a roasting hot minute.

But because it’s Low Energy, it’s also going to have minimal impact on battery life. Which is good. Because a dead AirTag would be much harder to find.

And, even though your AirTag is pinging away like the Red October, it’s being really clever and stealthy about it.

It’s taking your symmetric key and, every 15 minutes, using it to generate a second key based interwoven with the time interval. Then, it derives a third, public key and uses that to un-linkably diversify the actual data in the ping it’s so busy broadcasting out.

To ridiculously over simplify it, it’s like taking the letters of your name, adding all the letters that spell out the time, shaking them all together, then wrapping them up in a new rando lock-box every 15 minutes, and throwing the box into a lake filled with other boxes that are also changing, seemingly at random, every 15 minutes.

You know your name and you have the key to the box and can find it, but good luck to anyone else trying to break in and use it to find you.

And yes, there are still potential security concerns here, and I’ll get to them, but, effectively, this also means that once the world stops ending and we’re all out and about all the time again, shopping malls won’t be able to use the AirTags to log you as you go from store to store, not for longer than 15 minutes, and no one can use it to track your location for anything longer than that either. Not in any place where there’s any density of Bluetooth activity.

But, because most places do have Bluetooth activity, and plenty of it, that’s how the actual FindMy part.. finds.

When someone else, anyone else, with an Apple device comes within Bluetooth range of the AirTag attached to your house keys or whatever, and they’ve also opted-in to the Find My network, they become what’s called a finder.

Then their device, let’s say it’s an iPhone, will pick up the ping, the public key being broadcast by your AirTags, and let Apple know they’ve been found. The process is encrypted and the data is hashed into a lookup index using SHA256 and relayed to Apple using an Elliptic Curve Integrated Encryption Scheme.

So, Apple ends up having your public key and the location where it was broadcast stored for that lookup table.

Now, your identity remains private because the public key doesn’t contain anything about it. It’s just a pseudo-random blob of data. So, the finder has no way of knowing who you are just because they came within range of your AirTag or house keys.

And because this is all happening behind the scenes, the finder doesn’t even know they’re relaying any information to Apple or maybe even that your house keys are there. Not unless they stumble on them completely separately from the Find My system.

Second, if you’re the finder, you don’t have to worry about your privacy either. The location data comes from your iPhone using typical location services — Wi-Fi router mapping, cellular triangulation, assisted GPS, but nothing aside from the location is sent. Nothing that says you’re the one at that location. Nothing to ID you at all. It’s not that you could literally be anyone. You’re no one. As far as the data is concerned, you don’t exist. No one was ever there.

Also, because Bluetooth LE, and things like network coalescence, which basically just means Find My waits to relay the data until the processor and modem are waking up anyway, like to check for messages, there’s very little impact on the finder’s iPhone battery life either. Even if it’s constantly, passively, picking up pings. Just like it would be from AirPods, Apple Watch, AirDrop, or other accessories or features anyway.

And, the Find My network is opt-in. Which means no one has to be a finder and relay AirTags data if they don’t want to. Though the more people that do opt-in literally the better for everyone.

The relay is encrypted from the finder’s device to Apple, so even if somebody bothered to try and eavesdrop on it, all they’d get is that pseudo-random blob. And, since Apple doesn’t have your private key, only your devices do, Apple can’t tell what’s in the blob either. Not that it’s for your device, not what time, and not where. All Apple can do is store the reports as they come in.

But, once you realize you’re missing your keys and you go into the FindMy app to… find them… your iPhone will pull that AirTag’s information from iCloud Keychain and start going back and computing all the 15-minute interval public keys and lookup indexes its generated, and ask Apple’s servers for any matching reports.

If there are any, Apple will send them down, again as encrypted blobs between their servers and your iPhone so no one can listen in, and then your iPhone will decrypt them and show you where your AirTag has been, and when.

So, yeah, about those potential security concerns.

Because some people are legit going to worry that AirTags will be abused by bad actors. That someone with malicious intent could just drop one into your car or gym bag and use it to track you.

But, honestly, very similar products that offer almost exactly the same base functionality, like Tile, have been on the market for years already, never mind the cell phones and full-on James Bond spy kit that we’ve seen in every cheesy TV and movie plot for even longer. But, yeah, once it gets an Apple logo on it, it’s open season in headlines.

Beyond any valid concerns Apple will need to address, and any clickbait I’ll be more than happy to address, you know, the way I do…

You’ll just see the AirTag on your house keys show up in Find My the way your iPhone or iPad or other Apple kit has for years now and, hopefully, you’ll be able to go right back out and pick them up. No frantic calls to families or locksmiths, not with all… this going on as well.

And we know all this because that’s how FindMy has been working since the new network launched back in September of 2019. But thanks to some leaks, including Apple’s own in the various betas, there could also be a super easy, really a new convenience way to track down your tags to the exact inch as well.

Basically, the FindMy app would turn into an augmented reality view finder for you, and you’d be able to just hold it up and scan around for your house keys, and the U1 ultra low band spatial positioning chip in the AirTags, the same as the one in the iPhone 11 and iPhone 12, would light up the exact location for you on the screen. Even if that location was under a car or in a bush or otherwise out of plain sight.

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HomePod mini Review — 3 Months Later!

Apple announced the HomePod mini back in October. I’ve been using it ever since, and right now I’ve got Mikah Sargent on the line so we can re-review all about it, three months later.

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M1 Mac mini — Buy Now or Wait for M2?

The M1 Mac mini. The only desktop Apple Silicon, at least for now. Ultra low power. Entry level. But with performance that beats Intel and rivals AMD’s latest and greatest. Just… with… no new design. At least not yet. Starting at $699.

I’ve been reviewing it since it first came out, and I’m going to tell you whether or not you should get it now… or wait for the M1X or M2 Mac mini that’s rumored to be coming later the year or sometime next.

Design

First, my usual advice. Always wait as long as you can to buy, then buy when you really need to and enjoy the hell out of whatever it is you buy — with zero regrets — because there’ll always be something new and next.

Especially when it comes to Mac mini updates, because Apple has a spotty track record with them to say the least. You can lay a large portion of the blame for that on Intel’s roadmap, which was and is just the worst.

But with the in-house M1 chipset, Apple’s put the entry-level back into the mini Mac. No change in casing — they wanted to keep things simple to start, and silver again, but this round really was all about the Apple Silicon.

Now, M1 doesn’t take up nearly as much room as the old Intel chips did, so the Mac mini is just all shades of empty inside. So, could Apple make an M1X version that fills it up with more of… everything? A new space gray Mac mini Pro, so to speak? Or could Apple — would Apple — make an M2 version that’s even smaller, like Apple TV smaller?

Either way, if the current design is cool with you, then you can go ahead and get the M1 Mac mini now.

But if you want something fresh and new, or just… more, you’ll have to wait for whatever, whenever Apple does with the mini next.

Display (Support)

The M1 Mac mini was a huge upgrade in terms of processors but also a step… diagonally sideways and kinda back in terms of display support? Instead of up to three 4K displays or one 5K and one 4K, like ye old Intel Mac minis of yore, the M1 version supports only one 6K and one 4K. Albeit that 6K is the Pro Display XDR. That’s just the trade-off, the limit for M1 at the moment.

So if that’s fine for you — and it probably is for the vast majority of you — than go ahead and get the M1 Mac mini now.

But if only three screens or more will do it for you, then wait and see what the higher-end Mac mini will do.

And, since the stats say many people don’t even go with multiple displays, let me know how you’re feeling about this one in the comments below.

Compute

The M1 Mac mini rocks… the M1. Apple’s first generation custom Mac silicon. It’s based on the same IP and architecture as the A14 Bionic in the iPhone 12, just with more performance and more graphics cores. And those performance cores are among the best performing cores in any computer, anywhere. Especially with the Mac mini’s thermals, which lets all those cores run at max… basically forever. It’s not magic, it’s just really good design, and it means even the the entry level model is still a beast.

A theoretical M1X Mac mini — or whatever Apple calls the beefed up version of the current generation chipset, the one expected to debut with the next MacBook Pro updates — and I’ve got a whole video up on that, link in the description — well, it would keep the same single core speed, which again is already excellent, but add even more performance and graphics cores for even better multicore action.

A theoretically M2 Mac mini, would probably be based on A15 architecture and IP, what we’d expect to see in the iPhone 13 next fall, and get the same kind of year-over-year increase to single core speeds we’ve seen from the A-series over the last few years.

So, if M1 is already everything you need, go ahead and get the Mac mini now and enjoy.

If you need more multicore, wait on a M1X. If you need more from every core, wait on an M2. Even if it may take another year or more.

Capacity

One of the things that sets Apple Silicon apart in the desktop world is unified memory. A giant pool of 8GB or 16GB slapped right on the chipset and shared between the CPU, GPU, neural engine, and image signal processor. Combined with everything from memory compression to ultra-fast swap it really lets the 8GB or 16GB be all they can be. But 8GB and 16GB is all the M1 Mac mini currently offers. There are precisely zero options for 32GB or 64GB right now, not unless you stick with Intel.

The M1X, though, is rumored to support even more memory, those same 32GB and 64GB options that the old Intel models currently enjoy.

There are even reports of a new mini Mac Pro, something like the old G4 Cube, and if that interests you, I’ll link to it in the description as well.

But, if up to 8GB or 16GB is already more than enough for you, then the M1 Mac mini will be more than enough.

And if you really need more, like 32 to 64GB more, then you’ll really need to wait on the M1X or M2.

Ports

As much the M1 Mac mini was an improvement over Intel, it was also a major regression in one aspect — a critical aspect for some. Ports.

Both have two USB-A ports, one HDMI 2.0 port, and a gigabit ethernet port. But where the space gray Intel Mac mini had an option for 10 gigabit ethernet, the M1 does not. If you want 10 gigabit ethernet on it, you’ll need to get a thunderbolt dongle. And that brings us to potentially the bigger problem — biggest problem even — where the Intel Mac mini had 4, count ‘em 4 USB-C / Thunderbolt 3 ports, the M1 Mac mini only has two.

They’re USB-4 ports and since the thunderbolt controllers are on the SoC, they’re as blazing fast as they can be, but there are still only two of them. For anything more, you’ll have to break them out into hubs.

So, if two USB 4 Thunderbolt 3 Ports and gigabit ethernet are enough for you, or living that hub and dongle life isn’t a show stopper, go ahead and get the M1 Mac mini.

But if more on-board ports are life, are critical, are absolutely something you need, then you’ll need to wait on the M1X or M2.

Wireless

M1 brought Wi-Fi 6 to the Mac, which… is better than Wi-Fi 5.

There are rumors the M2 might bring Wi-Fi 6E, which adds 6GHz and makes it actually really better.

So, if that’s also something you need, you’ll also need to wait on the M2 and see.

Pricing

The silver M1 Mac mini starts at $699, ever-so-slightly less with an education discount, which makes it, currently, the most affordable Mac. Even if it’s not yet back down to that magical $599 price of eld. The space gray Intel Mac mini starts at $1099, which is a lot more bucks for an arguable amount of bang.

A theoretical M2 Mac mini with otherwise the same specs could end up being the same price for those same specs. Apple often holds the line generation and generation, sometimes even through redesigns. There’s just not telling when that’s coming.

A theoretical M1X Mac mini, with more cores, more ports, and space gray back on board… well, I’d expect that spec-out also to be priced out, by several or many more hundreds of bucks. In other words, sooner, but more expensive.

So, if money and especially time matters, you want the M1 Mac mini, available now.

If you don’t mind waiting, the M2 could give you slightly more for your money, even if you lose out on using an M1 between now and then.

If money is no object the M1X could give you even more Mac in the mini. If and when it comes out.

And while you’re waiting, check out this playlist, where I take a closer look at the M1 Macs and preview the M2 MacBook Airs coming next. Just click on the playlist and I’ll see you next video.

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Truly Wireless ‘AirPower’ — Real or Fake?

Tech giant Xiaomi just click-baited the whole entire internet — again! — this time with their latest, greatest render-ware… ever — true wireless charging. No cables. No pads. No nothing. Just ubiquitous, ambient power, constantly beamed into all of our devices.

But here’s the billion dollar, take all my money now, question — is it real… or just real fake?

Our phones used to need a cable just to make a call. Ask your grandparents. Then they went cordless. We used to have to plug in to use the internet. Ask your parents. Then we got Wi-Fi and cellular. Not too long ago, we needed a power adapter to charge. Now we have inductive pads, like MagSafe. And, soon, maybe… one day… eventually…. truly wireless charging. Power just… beamed straight through the air.

A lot of companies have been working on this for a long time.

Rumor had it Apple was considering short-range truly wireless charging for the iPhone X. A base-station like the old AirPort Extreme or HomePod, but instead of Wi-Fi or computational audio, it would just… radiate power. You’d leave it on your desk or bedside table or kitchen island, put your iPhone down somewhere in its vicinity, and it would just… charge. You could prioritize which of several devices you wanted to charge first, and to how much, before it would start shifting the power around.

But what Xiaomi is teasing — and let’s be 100% crystal clear, teasing is all it is right now, just a complete tech thirst trap — what Xiaomi is teasing is a huge escalation over short distance truly wireless charging. It’s room filling. Now, if you’re thinking there’s just gotta be a whole host of problems with that, you’re doing the kind of thinking that’s right. And more on that in a charging hot minute.

But what the concept renders show is a base station the size of a… of a beer fridge, with dozens of antennas, beam forming mmWave-like high band frequency transmissions at our phones and similar devices, locked on to a U1 or similar spatial positioning beacon, so as we walk around using them, texting, gaming, browsing, watching my YouTube videos the second they drop because you’re a super hero who hit that subscribe button and bell, and I appreciate you!

Instead of the battery level draining down… it’s charging up.

Which is just… the beautiful dream. Like, sci-fi level cool. The way every gadget works in every movie, never running out of power, not unless and until it becomes critical to the plot.

Now, there are problems with all of this, of course. Beyond simply that it’s not at all a real product yet, just a bunch of medium effort computer graphics. And even when and if it starts to ship, it’s going to be way less science fiction and way more science fact — way less JARVIS and way more Siri — for generations at least.

And even though all of these radio waves have been around us humans for a long time already, and the chances of them being dangerous — like setting our cats or crotches on fire — are about the same as the chances of them giving us super powers, like Wanda or Captain Marvel style super powers, are just wicked low. Not that that’ll be of any comfort to the cable news and Facebook fed conspiracy prone who don’t believe in the pandemic but somehow at the same time believe 5G caused the pandemic… that they don’t believe in.

But fundamental problems like how many base stations will you need per house, per room even? Xiaomi says they can charge through obstacles… but mmWave is currently blocked, like utterly and completely blocked by… leaves… even rain. So, are they planning on ricocheting beams off multiple base stations or objects like they’re filled with tiny Dude Perfects or something?

What kind of heat will they generate in the device? What kind of power draw will the base stations require? How fast will the technology mature? Never mind the devices, how often will we need to upgrade the base stations, and what will that cost? To buy? To lease? More than a $20 USB-C wall adapter, wanna bet? Let me know what you think in the comments.

Also, Xiaomi is talking about providing 5 watts of power… when and if this concept ever materializes into a reality. That’s what the rinky-dinky OG iPhone charger provided, the one everyone complained about being too rinky-dinky for years. It’s why companies like Xiaomi started putting their chargers on Hulk serum, even breaking compatibility for proprietary plugs, and breaking their batteries up into multiple cells so they could charge them in parallel. Basically, putting speed ahead of every other concern, even overall battery capacity and long term battery health.

Well, every concern but convenience. Because, at the same time we were complaining about wired charging speeds, we were also complaining about the lack of inductive chargers that were… yes, way less speedy.

AC plug on the back end, coils in a pad on a front end that transfer power to the coils in our phones in other end, only nowhere nearly as efficiently. Starting us all the way back down at 5 watts. Only to jump that back up with even more power hungry proprietary chargers to pump out even more speed, and heat.

Now, one day, truly wireless, for the ultimate in convenience but – just the opposite of that in terms of efficiency. Starting, say it with me, right back at the bottom with 5 watts.

But don’t let me reality punch you in your Tony Stark spot, because I’m also ludicrously excited about all of this.

Even beyond the rumors back in 2017, this is clearly where Apple has been headed for years. For years. First with inductive charging in the iPhone 8, and the ill-fated attempt at an AirPower charging pad, the one hindered and ultimately canceled by Apple’s desire to let you charge any device, including the non-standard Apple Watch, in any arbitrary place on the pad.

But they’ve been pressing on with other versions, introducing MagSafe with the iPhone 12, and now they’re rumored to be considering at least one portless model for the Phone 13. I just did a whole video on that, link in the description.

And that’ll start by leaning on MagSafe, sure, but the endgame just has to be a true AirPower system, no Mag or Safe needed. For the iPhone, which pretty much everyone is fine dropping down on or even better, near, a power source every so often to top it up, but for the Apple Watch, which most people want to just keep charged for much longer, and especially for future products like Apple Glasses, which will have the tiniest of batteries but also our least amount of tolerance for having to take them off and charge them.

Now, remember, the grand dream with inductive charging was going to be Qi embedded in every table at every restaurant and coffee shop, in bus, train, plane, and ride-share. Just… everywhere. Ubiquitous power for everyone. And, even 2020, the AirPower of years aside, that’s still not even come close, not close, to materializing.

So, while this Xiaomi render is just a render, if we look out over the next 100 years, providing we don’t conspiracy theory ourselves into extinction, if we look out over the next 100 years? Certainly. 50 years? Almost certainly. 25 years? I bet. 10 years. I think so. 5 years? Maybe?

But at some point in the near-ish future, I think it’s safe to say our power cords will go the way our telephone cables did, our internet cables, our audio cables, and we’ll just have mostly efficient, highly convenient truly wireless charging in our homes and offices and schools and malls, and then, just… everywhere.

With Xiaomi and probably Samsung, even Google, prototyping it, experimenting with it right out in the open, and Apple doing what Apple does, especially after what happened with the original AirPower — keeping it a secret project prototyped and experimented with strictly internally, until they’re ready to announce a commercialized, mainstream version that’s ready to ship that fall, with the next iPhone. And Apple Glasses.

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Apple Just Made HOW MUCH Money?! ($AAPL Q1 2021)

$111.4 billion. Yeah. Apple, the company that every market manipulator and pocketed click baiter loves to cast as doomed, so very legion of doomed, perpetually, flailing, failing, and sure to go under… just any product now… regardless of how those products are actually performing — just posted their Holiday quarter results and even now — in the midst of peak 2020-21, the Cyberpunk on last gen consoles of years, they crushed…

And you won’t believe how hard.

iPhone

The iPhone was up 17%. Apple sold 65.6 billion dollars of them. Now, it’s important to remember that the iPhone shipped later than usual last fall, so instead of the initial surge being in the previous quarter, all of it was in this quarter. Just all the surge.

Same with all the new M1 Macs, but more on those in a scorching hot minute.

Prices on the base models were up, due to more expensive components like OLED and 5G modems, but the mix was also high, which means the people who bought into the iPhone 12 almost immediately, often bought into the more expensive models like the 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max.

Which, to me, just highlights how people keep insisting on reading the market wrong. Like I said in my launch-day review — it’s not that everyone is looking and saying, I can save a couple hundred bucks by not going Pro. It’s that they’re increasingly looking and saying, I can spend a couple hundred bucks and get the Pro.

It’s not that everyone wants the lowest dollar price. Increasingly, more people want what they feel is the best value priced package per dollar. And that includes not only what it can do, but how long it will last doing it. How long they get updates, even how high the resale prices sustain. And yeah, still the cachet.

Which is why, I think, switchers were up as well, meaning more people coming to the iPhone from Android, and upgraders were way up, meaning way more people going from an older iPhone to an iPhone 12.

Tim Cook was also still bullish because, despite there now being over a billion iPhones in our pockets, y’all, globally there are still more people without iPhones than with. And he’s is looking at them. Looking at you maybe. And thinks he can still get way more of the market, especially in places like India.

And what’s especially fascinating here is that Apple built themselves into an iPhone company. But then they used the iPhone to build up everything else. So, when the iPhone isn’t as strong, everything else picks up the slack. But when everything is strong, they force multiply each other.

Services

Services were up 24%, to 15.8 billion dollars. Driven by record performances in App Store, Music, and Cloud, among others. When you include everything the App Store gets a cut of, Apple hit 620 million paid subscribers this quarter. Which… given how many of us are spending our time in lockdown, just makes the kind of sense that does.

In addition to the 1 billion iPhones, Apple has almost 1.7 billion devices total in active use, and that’s just a huge and still growing base to build services on. Like I said, a platform to build another platform or several on.

It’s also why, even though Apple’s margins haven’t really changed much since the Steve Jobs era, they’re at the high end right now. First, the mix towards the higher end products I just mentioned, but also more people getting in on more Apple services. My guess is Apple’s hardware margins continue to get driven down by Apple continuing to invest in more expensive components, but services margins just more than make up for that — allowing Apple to continue to make those hardware investments without eating into ancillary product profits or simply running on empty like some other companies do.

Apple retail hit also records, which given how many stores had to be closed or massively constrained is beyond impressive. Much of the business there shifted to online, but the logistical genius of Diedre O’Brien and crew in staying multiple steps ahead and handling everything from pick ups to support is… or will be… the stuff of legends. Even AppleCare was up during all… this. Which is amazing.

iPad

The iPad was up a whopping 41%, to 8.4 billion dollars, driven by the ongoing work-and-school-from-home reality so many have been facing for so long now. Also, the new iPad Air and entry-level iPad updates were compelling. And, like I said, while I think a lot of people who cover Apple still fail to realize the difference between cost and value, consumers are continuing to understand that better and better.

But what’s really remarkable is that around half the people buying iPads were first time iPad buyers as well, despite the tablet market essentially continuing to be an iPad market. And I think that goes back to work-from-home, but also to how badly most competitors continue to execute on tablets, especially in terms of software and ecosystem integration.

Apple Watch and AirPods

Apple frustratingly lumps Watch, AirPods, HomePods, and an all the extras into the same category so competitors can’t easily see how well any one of them is doing at any given time. But, taken together, they were up 30%, to 13 billion dollars.

A ludicrous 75% of Apple Watch customers were first time Watch buyers. I say ludicrous, because like the iPad, the Apple Watch essentially owns its market. But, that market is like the opposite of the phone market right now. Not that many people have smart watches, and so it’s just wide open, with tons of room to run. Especially with products like the lower priced but feature packed Apple Watch SE coming into the mix. And I wonder if Apple’s going to double-down-as-in-price-down on that this year to get even more people into the Watch, and then services like Fitness+.

AirPods continued to sell well, as did HomePod mini at launch, and while everyone was concerned about Lisa Jackson getting safely off the roof at Apple Park — she did! — I’m still concerned about Bob Borchers and team escaping that bottled house of Kandor in the Theater lobby. Hit intercom if you need help, Bob!

Mac

The Mac was up 21%, to 8.7 billion dollars, which doesn’t take a Mentat to figure had a lot to do with the release of M1, Apple’s first custom silicon for the MacBook Air, entry-level MacBook Pro, and new base model silver Mac mini.

Around half the people buying Macs were first-time Mac buyers, and since Apple still has only a tiny, tiny share of the PC market, there’s just tons and tons of room for more growth there as well. Especially as the next set of Apple Silicon Macs start coming out, the higher end Pros and iMacs, and over the next few generations of all of them.

In other words, legacy PC users, Apple thinks the combinations of industry leading performance, experience, and battery life are going to prove just way, way, way too compelling for you to ignore.