Editor's note: we're winding down the site with some of our special stories and moments across the last few years. As a long-time staffer, the heyday of the Macworld Expos were a very special time for all of us working at MacNN: it was a rare chance for us all to get together in person, report on the latest and greatest in an intense blitz of publicity, and stay in swanky New York City or San Francisco hotels. Editor Charles Martin attended the final Macworld/iWorld Expo in March of 2014, and filed this report.
Over the weekend, Apple employees once again participated in the Bay Area Pride Festival, including CEO Tim Cook , as they have as an official participant since 2014. Employees received special rainbow-colored Apple Watch bands this year, accompanied by a special playlist of related iTunes content . The event, which continues to focus on the LGTBQ community but has expanded to be a more general celebration of freedom from oppression or discrimination. This is the third year that Apple has officially participated, though employees have marched in the parade for many years prior to the official involvement.
By sheer coincidence, our final episode of The MacNN Podcast comes just before a scheduled break for the Canada Day/Fourth of July holiday. Yes, it is sort of true -- because the site will be shutting down (more on that in a bit, but you can read about it here ), this will be the last episode under the MacNN banner. However, because Mike and Charles and others are still having too much fun with this, we'll pick up again on the week of July 11 with a new creation, Cranky Old Guys Generally Disapproving of New Things, or Project Keep Us Off the Streets, or whatever we're going to call it.
I'm not even supposed to be here. While, strictly speaking, I started my career in BBC local radio, I soon moved into computer magazines -- and then I left, from boredom. I'm only telling you this because it's you. Also because they were PC computer magazines: I struggled to get excited when this month's grey box was one percent faster or perhaps 10 percent greyer than the last. Yet by sheer number of hours alone, I think I've written more computer journalism on MacNN in the last 19 months than I have anything else.
[Update: outage resolved] Since at least 2:17 PM Pacific Time today, the iTunes and App Stores appear to be dysfunctional for at least some users. The problem appears to be most severe in the northeastern US and in England, but there are scattered reports from a number of other countries, though not all users are affected. For those that are, however, upgrades and purchases are not able to go through. This also is having an impact on Apple's streaming services and the ability of users to log into their iTunes accounts.
Editor's Note: As we wind down operations, the staff of MacNN is running some of their personal favorite stories, either moments we were especially proud of or -- as with this one -- stories that really stuck out in our minds. I'm MacNN writer William Gallagher, and I've chosen my colleague and pal Malcolm Owen's series about being a Windows user returning to the Mac. It's a fresh perspective on what, to me, is the very familiar Apple environment.
Honda has revealed that it will offer an upgrade for buyers of the brand-new 2017 Honda Accord, which debuts June 27, that supports both Apple's CarPlay and Google's Android Auto for those buyers who include the seven-inch Display Audio touchscreen in their options packages. Honda currently supports CarPlay in the 2016 Accord and Civic, and the 2017 Ridgeline, with the 2017 Civic Hatchback gaining the technology when it arrives this fall. The company did not say how much the 2017 Accord upgrade would cost.
I first started writing for MacNN and Electronista back in 2010, after seeing an ad in the banner of the site, looking to hire new writers. I was already gainfully employed in a good job, but I just love technology so much, and always had aspirations as a writer, that I thought I'd apply and see what happened. I was very fortunate to be chosen out of over a hundred applicants, and have thoroughly enjoyed the journey since then. For me, it has been nice to have a second income stream, but I've done this job because I've absolutely loved it, not because I've had to do it.
Apple on Thursday confirmed that it was no longer producing the only independent monitor it was still making, the 27-inch Thunderbolt Display . The $999 high-quality device was popular with graphic artists and other large-monitor enthusiasts in its heyday, and was designed to promote the then-new Thunderbolt port on 2011 and later MacBook Air and Pro models. The peripheral featured a 16:9, 2560x1440 display that was well-regarded in terms of out-of-the-box color fidelity, and included a built-in FaceTime HD (720p) camera, mic, speakers with subwoofer, a built-in MagSafe cable, and a design intended to complement the iMac and MacBook Pro lines.
Editor's Note: As we wind down operations, the staff of MacNN is running some of their personal favorite stories, either moments we were especially proud of or -- as with this one -- stories that really stuck out in our minds. Without question, this was one of them. Originally written in 2013, we have laughed about this one many times (only because we can't afford it), but fret not -- some more "night shift what th--?" type stories are yet to come. In the meantime, we give you one of the stories we're glad we didn't flush the press release on -- the Bluetooth Toilet. And yes -- it is still available.
Editor's note: We are running a selection of some of our favorite -- best, oddest, warmest -- stories from the past few years of the site, starting with this one: arguably the most personal story we ever covered. I wrote this with tears in my eyes. Personally, I think his Stanford Commencement Address (seen below) -- and the follow-up articles we ran with so many quotes from those who knew and admired him ( here , here , here , and here ) -- are the best tributes to the impact he had on us all.
The problem of doing something you love for a job is when you aren't able to do it anymore, and you have to separate yourself from it. As you are likely to be aware from earlier this week , myself and other members of the editorial team were informed our services will not be required from the end of this month. Since each of us are writing what could be described as a note of farewell for an impending closure, I'm now having to go through that separation process -- and believe me, it's hard.
A lawsuit borne of the short-lived "Error 53" issue that happened to some iOS devices where the Touch ID button had been replaced or repaired by unauthorized non-Apple personnel was dismissed on Tuesday by a US District Court judge, who rejected both the plaintiff's original complaints and their amended claims following Apple's release of a tool to restore iPhones bricked by the anti-tampering feature, which was designed to prevent third-parties from altering or hacking into the Touch ID sensor.
Apple's infusion of artificial intelligence (AI) into some aspects of the forthcoming iOS 10 and macOS Sierra will have a number of implications for users, from a more intelligent Siri to a particular new feature found in the updated Photos, as seen in the macOS Sierra developer preview. Photos can, in addition to auto-creating groupings of photos by who is in them and where or when they were taken, but can also be asked to group things like "photos with cars" or "surprised people."
Apple has opened registrations for its annual summer camp for kids in the US, Canada , China , France , Germany , Hong Kong , Italy , Japan , The Netherlands , Spain , Sweden , Switzerland , Turkey , and the United Kingdom , allowing children ages 8 to 12 who are accompanied by a parent or guardian to attend a series of workshops at a local Apple Store focused on iMovie, iBooks Author, and in some countries, basic programming. The sign-ups are on a first-come, first-served basis, and tend to fill up quickly.
As expected, Apple on Tuesday released the public-tester versions of its latest OS X and iOS betas -- the third round of OS X 10.11.6 and iOS 9.3.3 betas for testing, alongside a developer-only version of the forthcoming tvOS update, v9.2.2. The two major-platform betas, now available to pre-registered public testers, offer no notable changes or major bug fixes, but instead focus on minor bugs, security enhancements, and performance or interface tweaks.
Adobe has made a large number of updates to its suite of Creative Cloud apps today. While most of the main apps have extra features for designers and film makers to try out, the main changes revolve around a few major additions to Photoshop, as well as a deeper integration with Adobe Stock, increasing the library of content available to use as well as making it easier to add content to a project, and notice of an upcoming change for users to make money from their own creations.
Various reports have confirmed that Apple is beginning to remove the 13-inch non-Retina MacBook Pro, the least expensive model, off the floor of its stores, with clerks steering budget-minded customers towards refurbished Retina models instead. The move comes even as expectations rise about a forthcoming refresh of the MacBook Pro line, which is overdue for a specifications bump and may -- according to rumor -- drop the non-Retina model entirely in the next round of possible upgrades, including a move to Skylake processors and new graphics systems.
In a bid to boost the discoverability of new apps, Apple announced earlier that it would launch a test program for Search Ads , a forthcoming feature to the App Store that offers -- for the first time -- paid promotions on one of Apple's storefronts. Previously, Apple staffers have picked items to received promoted status at will, resisting efforts at putting advertising in the search results for fear that big players would dominate and further obscure up-and-coming, smaller, and new releases.
Apple, which is seen as a relatively minor political player compared to other tech firms, has opted out of supporting the Republican Party's 2016 presidential convention due to presumptive nominee Donald Trump's long string of racist, misogynist, and minority-bashing comments. A number of other tech and non-tech companies have also indicated they will not provide funding or other support for the convention as well -- HP had previously said it would skip the convention, and Microsoft has opted to cut back on its contribution. Most of the big tech players generally offer computers and cash to both of major party conventions.
A new report claims that Apple -- a member of the Unicode consortium that approves new emoji characters -- lead an effort to remove two previously-approved symbols for Unicode 9 : one representing a rifle, and the other a part of a Modern Pentathlon set, a sport that includes rifle marksmanship. Microsoft was among some other members who helped nix the additions. There has been no effort to remove the existing handgun emoji, or other items like knives or the (cartoon-style) bomb.
As the UK prepares to vote on whether to remain or leave the European Union -- a question that has already brought out US-political-style racial divides and even gun violence -- American political site Politico is testing an unusual way of delivering breaking news on the hotly-debated referendum through a nearly-unique use of Apple's Wallet technology. The premise of the experiment is to use a "pass" in Wallet (normally used for boarding passes, event tickets, coupons, loyalty cards, or credit/debit cards for a single-issue news feed -- giving users access to the latest polls or breaking news directly on the lock screen, if desired.
Really, rumor mongers? Really? WWDC's corpse is not even cold yet, and you're already walking back your weakest rumor by claiming it was going to be in there, but mean old Apple axed it? This is Standard Rumor Fizzle Excuse number two, right behind "delayed because of production problems." So let us be sure we have this right -- that dual camera lens you've been assuring us for months would be the lead visible difference in the otherwise-samey "iPhone 7," the one you showed us numerous mockups of, has been "cancelled" days before Foxconn cranks up the assembly to make 70 million of them for this fall because Apple just realized the technology is "immature?" Right. Sure.
On Thursday, Korean manufacturer Samsung announced that would buy US cloud services company Joyent , based in San Francisco, for an undisclosed sum. The 11-year-old company will retain its name and top managment, but it will be integrated into Samsung's mobile division, and reportedly help the rival smartphone maker offer its own cloud services. In a statement, Joyent CEO Scott Hammond said that "Samsung brings us the scale we need to grow our cloud and software business."
One feature shown off at the WWDC keynote that is dependent on the 3D Touch technology found on the iPhone 6s will be replicated to work on older iPhone models that don't have the feature in iOS 10, Apple told developers on Thursday. "Future betas will provide access to this functionality for users of iPhone models without support for 3D Touch," according to release notes in the first iOS 10 developer preview. Currently, Rich Notifications -- which include images or video -- are only supported on the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus.
Developers and other testers have gotten their hands on the preview releases of the next major versions of each of Apple's four platforms -- the newly-renamed macOS Sierra (formerly OS X 10.12), iOS 10, watchOS 3, and tvOS 10. Beyond the announced feature set seen during the Worldwide Developers Conference keynote, there have been a number of discoveries of unannounced changes, additional (minor) features, and other small tweaks and surprises. While they may change (or even be withdrawn) before the final release, here are some that caught our attention.
Even though it launched in late March and uses a familiar design, the four-inch iPhone SE is still seeing constraints on supply (or unexpectedly strong and long-lasting demand) that has kept the device at about a two-week wait time for US and overseas customers alike. The ongoing supply issue is in marked contrast to recent improvements the company has made in improving wait times for newly-released products, like the most recent MacBook refresh.
There are, it would seem, two types of iPhone owners: those who buy their device based on price, and thus don't really consider how much storage it has, for one reason or another -- and those who write angry letters to Tim Cook every month demanding a 1TB capacity iPhone. Long-time Mac and iPhone users who have been using the devices for a long time are dumbfounded that Apple still offers a 16GB base capacity for most of its iOS devices (and still offers "anemic" base storage levels for some Macs, like the MBA), but this Pointers will lead you down the path of Zen, and the validation of all things. Even 16GB.
Now AAPL Stock: 92.34 ( -1.06 )
Scrivener for iOS to arrive in late July
For some long-time Scrivener users, to quote Paul Simon, "these are the days of miracle and wonders." As it marks its 10th anniversary in business, developer Keith Blount has announced that the long-awaited iOS version of his creative-writing tool Scrivener is to be submitted to the App Store, following strong praise from beta-testers. The program, expected in late July, will sell for $20 and work with both the iPad and iPhone. When we interviewed Blount last January, he added that Scrivener 3 for Mac would follow along shorty afterwards. http://bit.ly/2901XLE
WhatsApp now handles over 100M calls daily
WhatsApp is celebrating that it is being used for over 100 million calls every day. In a brief notice, the Facebook-owned messaging platform advises the voice-calling feature it rolled out to its users last year now deals with an average of over 1,100 calls initiated per second. Earlier this year, it increased the security of its calls and other messages, by introducing end-to-end encryption on all platforms. http://bit.ly/292HqCX
Adele's '25' album now streaming
Recording artist Adele has "pulled a Kanye" after saying that her current album "25" would not be available for streaming. The seven-month-old record, which has yielded a number of hit singles, is now available for streaming on all the major streaming services, such as Apple Music and Spotify, as of today in most major markets, with worldwide distribution to come. Reportedly, the singer had demanded streaming be limited to paid subscribers -- a condition that has hurt some streamers with artists, who aren't paid royalties for free or trial listens . Apple pays performers its normal royalty rates during its free trial, avoiding the issue -- and having repeated success in both signing up exclusives and placing those exclusives into the top of the charts. http://ti.me/28U7NOu
SanDisk iXpand case has battery, storage
A new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s case from SanDisk appears to be the "holy grail" of accessories: a stylish and protective case that offers both extra storage as well as the option of extra battery power as well. The iXpand Memory case offers either 32GB, 64GB, or 128GB of additional storage incorporated into the case, and an optional add-on battery pack (sold separately) adds up to an extra day or more of charge. Through the associated iXpand app, camera photos and videos can be automatically stored on the extra storage, optionally password-protected, The cost for the case is (in order of storage capacity) $60, $100, and $130. The battery pack's release data has not yet been announced, but the add-on should retail for an additional $30. http://bit.ly/291epHu
Fifth Hong Kong store to open June 30
The 46th official Apple store in what the company calls the "Greater China" region will open at 10AM local time in Hong Kong's New Town Plaza in the Sha Tin district on Thursday, June 30, according to a new page on Apple's retail website. Despite slowing growth due to economic turmoil in China, the country is still Apple's fastest-growing market. The new story will be the fifth for Hong Kong, a lucrative market for Apple thanks to the high concentration of wealth there and a thriving "gray" market. Normal store hours for the new store will be 10AM to 10PM every day. http://apple.co/291diaT
Apple Music bug bites very short songs
There appears to be a reproducible bug in the current version of iTunes -- version 12.4.1, running on OS X 10.11.5, both the current non-beta versions of the respective software -- that causes a streamed song to become "stuck" in endless buffering if the streamed item just before this happened was 60 seconds or less in length. The problem appears to stem from code in iTunes that signals the next track to start downloading one minute before the currently-playing track is done, and thus songs shorter than one minute don't trigger the download. Locally-stored music is unaffected by the bug, and the problem does not appear to exist in either the macOS Sierra developer beta or versions of iTunes earlier than 12.4, and does not affect the iOS Music app at all. http://bit.ly/291cN0l
Walmart Pay expands to 15 states
Walmart, one of the key progenitors of the failed CurrentC mobile payment system that was distinguished from Apple Pay by its ability to collect and share customer financial and buying data among its participants, has expanded the soft rollout of its alternative solution "Walmart Pay" to an additional 15 US states following a pilot program in Arkansas and Texas last month. Walmart continues to resist adding Apple Pay. The system, built into the Walmart app for iOS and Android, works with a complicated system of the camera scanning a purchase code at the register, then generating a QR code which is then scanned by the register. The system is available now in Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, and Washington, DC. http://apple.co/28SqZfu