Weekly Digest - 2020.02


Cool tech at CES 2020

As always, the second week of January is the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) week. I'm not going to cover in much details what has been shown, people on the site can do much better job. Instead, I've created a list of the most interesting gadgets & thing shown at CES 2020.

Mobile, portable & wearable devices

Laptops

Computers

TVs & Monitors

Headphones & speakers

Smart home devices

Cars & Vehicles

Weekly digest - 2019.46


16-inch MacBook Pro

It's finally here, and it is a beast! The brand new 16-inch MacBook Pro has been released.  Here is what's new:

2.6GHz 6-Core model:

  • 16-inch display (3072x1920px) 226 ppi,
  • New Magic Keyboard with a refined scissor mechanism,
  • Physical Esc key is back,
  • CPU:
    • 2.6GHz 6-core Intel Core i7 processor with Turbo Boost up to 4.5GHz or
    • 2.4GHz 8-core Intel Core i9 processor with Turbo Boost up to 5.0GHz
  • GPU:
    • AMD Radeon Pro 5500M with 4GB of GDDR6 memory or
    • AMD Radeon Pro 5500M with 8GB of GDDR6 memory,
  • 16GB 2666MHz DDR4 memory, configurable up to 64GB,
  • 512GB SSD storage, configurable up to 8TB,
  • New 6-speaker sound system,
  • New thermal architecture.

2.3GHz 8-Core model:

  • 16-inch display (3072x1920px) 226 ppi,
  • New Magic Keyboard with a refined scissor mechanism,
  • Physical Esc key is back,
  • CPU:
    • 2.3GHz 8-core Intel Core i9 processor with Turbo Boost up to 4.8GHz or
    • 2.4GHz 8-core Intel Core i9 processor with Turbo Boost up to 5.0GHz
  • GPU:
    • AMD Radeon Pro 5500M with 4GB of GDDR6 memory or
    • AMD Radeon Pro 5500M with 8GB of GDDR6 memory,
  • 16GB 2666MHz DDR4 memory, configurable up to 64GB,
  • 1TB SSD storage, configurable up to 8TB,
  • New 6-speaker sound system,
  • New thermal architecture.

All of this in almost unchanged form factor. The new MacBook Pro is ~2%  bigger, 0.5mm thicker and 170g heavier than 15-inch model,  but Apple managed to put bigger -  100Wh - battery which should allow for 11h of work.

All of this for the same price as for old 15-inch model. The base 2.6GHz 6-Core model starts at $2399. For the 2.3GHz 8-Core model  we have to pay $2799.

Disney+ launched

Disney+ launched in USA, Canada and Netherlands. On the first day new platform surpassed 10 million subscribes. This number is not surprising as Disney+ has massive portfolio of movies and TV shows, including very popular Marvel and Start Wars franchises.

Disney+ will be available in UK, Germany, France, Italy, and Spain on March 31st. There are rumors that Poland will be included in this group as well,  for about $8/month, which is similar to Netflix's monthly subscription.  


Image credits: Apple

Weekly digest - 2019.28


Nintendo Switch Lite

Nintendo has announced the Switch Lite. It is a new Switch that only supports handheld mode. Here is the list of changes in comparison to "standard" Switch:

  • smaller touchscreen (5.5-inch),
  • no detachable Joy-Con controllers,
  • cannot be connected to TV,
  • side buttons are replaced by real D-pad,
  • lack of HD Rumble and IR Motion Camera,
  • better battery life (~1h longer),

Nintendo Switch Lite launches on September 20 for $199.99 in three colors: yellow, grey, and turquoise.

Apple's new MacBook lineup

On Tuesday Apple completely revamped their notebook lineup. First of all, they stopped selling 12-inch MacBook. Macbook supposed to be replacement for MacBook Air, but it never became popular.  Smaller size and new keyboard weren't enough to steal users hearts.

Speaking of MacBook Air, the old non Retina version is also finally gone. Also, Apple has updated the new Retina version with True Tone display and they lowered the price from $1199 to $1099 ($999 for students).  

MacBook Pro lineup also is simpler. Apple stopped selling the 13-inch MacBook Pro without Touch Bar. It means that all MacBooks Pro, not matter of size, now come with Touch Bar.

In addition to cleaning up the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro lineup, Apple has lowered the cost of SSD options for all Mac, including the desktop ones. The price drop is especially visible in more high-end versions.

For example this is how the new prices, of SSD options, look like in comparison to old ones for 15-inch MacBook Pro:

Storage Price Before Price Now
256GB $0* $0*
512GB $200 $200
1TB $600 $400
2TB $1200 $800
4TB $3000 $1600

(*) Base model

Overall, this news was a completely surprise and the welcome one. It's not only a huge simplification of the MacBook lineup, but also a big change for the entire Mac lineup, as most of the Macs are now more affordable.

I hope Apple will continue this trend with other products.


Image credits: Nintendo

Weekly digest - 2019.23


WWDC 2019 is over. Now, it's time to summarised the new things that have been announced.

iOS 13

As always we got a new version of the iOS. Last year, Apple focused on bug fixes and performance, this year we got a new features. Here is the list of the major changes coming this September:

  • Dark Mode,
  • Improved Photos and Camera apps,
  • Improved privacy and security,
  • Sign In with Apple,
  • New Maps app,
  • Improved voice of Siri powered by neural TTS (Text to Speech),
  • New Memoji and Memoji Stickers,
  • QuickPath - a new Swype keyboard,
  • New Reminders app,
  • Redesign CarPlay
  • Faster unlocking with FaceID  and faster app launches,

Those are the major changes. If you want to see what else have changed, check out this list or this video.

iPadOS

When new iPad Pros came out, people unanimously agreed that the raw power of the hardware was limited by the operating system. During WWDC, Apple acknowledge this problem, and addressed it by creating a new operating system - iPadOS. Although iPadOS is, right now, the iOS 13, Apple added some cool new features, which might be the first step into creating an iPad a true device that can replace a computer:

  • Slide Over and Split View,
  • Multiple instances of the same application,
  • App Exposé,
  • New Home Screen with widgets,
  • New Tool Palette for Apple Pencil,
  • Full-Page Markup allows to take screenshots of entire document or website,
  • Brand new text editing gestures,
  • Floating keyboard,
  • Sidecar allows to extend workspace by using an iPad as a second Mac display,
  • Redesigned Files App with support for external drives and file servers,
  • Mouses are now supported,
  • Safari on iPad is now a desktop class browser with download manager,
  • And it also contains all the changes introduced in iOS 13.

Those are only the major changes. The full list is available here.

This is huge release for iPad. Apple tackled most of the complaints people had after iPad Pro premiere.

macOS 10.15

Latest version of the mac operating system is named Catalina. Like the rest, it also comes with cool new features:

  • iTunes is gone and will be replaced by 3 separate applications for Music, Podcasts and TV,
  • Supported iPad applications can be run natively on macOS thanks to project Catalyst (formerly known as Marzipan),
  • Sidecar allows to extend workspace by using an iPad as a second Mac display,
  • ScreenTime is now also built into macOS,
  • FindMy combine functionality of Find My iPhone and Fid My Friends,
  • Approve with Apple Watch allows to authenticate or approve operations on the Mac from the Apple Watch,
  • Voice control  allows to control the Mac with voice commands,
  • Notes and reminders app has been redesigned,
  • macOS comes with ZSH as a default shell instead of Bash.

The full list of changes is available here.

watchOS 6

Changes made to watchOS as not as spectacular as for other systems, but they are definitely the nice step forward:

  • AppStore for watch allows to install apps independently from iPhone,
  • Activity Trends allows to track activity progress over time,
  • Cycle tracking is a new app dedicated for women,
  • Hearing health monitors the level of noise and alert a user when it's too loud,
  • And as always new watch faces, but still no custom ones 😢.

New Mac Pro

Apple has finally showed us the new Mac Pro. Apple listened to criticism and delivered truly powerful and modular computer. The top specification is mind-blowing:

  • 28-Core 2.5GHz Intel Xeon W with Turbo Boost up to 4.4GHz
  • 1.5TB of DDR4 ECC RAM,
  • 2 AMD Radeon Pro Vega II Duo cards with total of 128GB of memory,
  • 4TB SSD,
  • 1.4 KW PSU,
  • Eight PCI Express expansion slots,
  • Afterburner card for accelerating ProRes and ProRes RAW footage manipulation,
  • I/O card with 2 USB3 and 2 thunderbolt ports,
  • Two 10Gb Ethernet ports,
  • 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.0,
  • Built-in speaker and 3.5 mm headphone jack.

This computer is a beats. It's both luxurious and powerful at the same time. Unfortunately not many people will be able to afford this computer. Even the base model starts at $6000, so the maxed out version will be around $30k. Despite the price, I'm really glad to see that Apple listened and created both modular and powerful computer.

Pro Display XDR

Alongside with Mac Pro Apple also announced new Display. Here is the specification:

  • 32-inch display
  • Resolution: 6016 x 3384 pixels (6K)
  • Brightness: 1000 nits sustained, 1600 nits peak,
  • Contrast ratio: 1,000,000:1,
  • Color: P3 wide color gamut, 10-bit depth for 1.073 billion colors,

This monitor, with both specification and pricing, is definitely dedicated for professionals. The version with standard glass costs $5999 and the version Nano-texture (antireflective) glass costs $6999. Both prices are only for the displays as the stand is not included in the box. The dedicated stand costs $999 and visa adapter "only" $199.

Lack of the stand caused a small outrage over the Internet. As I mentioned before, this monitor is dedicated for professionals and apparently selling products without obvious elements is a common practice 🙁


Image credits: Apple

Weekly digest - 2019.04


This week we also start with Apple news, rumors to be precise. We all anticipating the March event, but the question is what Apple would present. The iOS 12.2 beta unveiled a little bit of the secret. It looks like new (smaller) iPads are coming as well as new iPod touch. iPads are not a surprise but the iPod Touch is, I thought Apple has already killed iPod line.
So far we don't have any rumors regarding iPhone SE replacement, AirPower or new AirPods, except that the latter should be released in the first half of 2019.

Speaking of Apple rumors, new reports suggest that iOS 13 will get a major redesign. The last time iOS got one of those was iOS 7 and since then Apple was perfecting its clean design. I personally doubt that we will see any drastic changes in terms of graphic design, but we might get new ways to interact with the operating system. As Apple plans to combine iOS and macOS apps into one with project Marcepan we definitely will see some changes.

iFixit unveiled a new flow in MacBooks and called it Flexgate. Apparently the ribbon that connects the display with the motherboard is being pulled out when display is open, causing cables to tear over time. This issue is known to all generations of the MacBook Pros with Touch Bar. This is the design flow which Apple hasn't acknowledged yet. Which is not surprising, to fix this problem the entire display must be replaced and such repair cost about $600. Well, if this is a common problem, another law suite is waiting for Apple as well as another repair action.

That's all for this week, if you want more, here is the list of interesting things.

30th anniversary of the Macintosh

Avoiding conflicts between developers and marketers

Open source Eva icons as Vue components

Here are some super secret VS Code hacks to boost your productivity


Image credits: iFixit.