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The Future

Apple Loop: New iPhone Leaks, iPad Air’s Future, MacOS Faces Awkward Future



Taking a look back at another week of news and headlines from Cupertino, this week’s Apple Loop includes new iPhone 12 design leaks, folding the iPhone camera, your mostly dead MacBook and MacOS’ future, fun with Apple charts, new iPad Air pricing, the success of the iPhone SE, Apple’s carbon-free aluminium, and recreating the Big Sur wallpaper…

Apple Loop is here to remind you of a few of the very many discussions that have happened around Apple over the last seven days (and you can read my weekly digest of Android news here on Forbes).

New iPhone 12 Design Leaks

Tucked away in the latest beta of iOS 14’s accessibility tools is the latest leak around the iPhone 12 family. It’s not an obvious leak in the same way as having a graphic of the phone show up, but it’s a leak nonetheless, because of how the code is implemented.

“Thanks to some superb detective work by 9to5Mac, Apple’s plan to release its smallest ever, bezel-less iPhone has just been uncovered in its new iOS 14 beta release. And it is the evolution of a six year old software feature in iOS 14 which gives the game away.

“The culprit is ‘Display Zoom’, an accessibility tool which allows users to enlarge the user interface to make text, icons and buttons easier to see. How Apple achieves this is actually a hack: each iPhone simply displays the interface of the next smallest model with the same aspect ratio.”

Which, in its own way, confirms the smaller 5.4 inch iPhone 12. More here on Forbes.

Apple Unveils iPhone 11 And iPhone 11 Pro At Its Cupertino Headquarters
CUPERTINO, CALIFORNIA – SEPTEMBER 10: Apple CEO Tim Cook delivers the keynote address during an … [+] VCG VIA GETTY IMAGES

New iPhone 12 Design Leaks (cont.)

July 27 update: Over the weekend a closer look at the iPhone 12 screens was posted on Weibo. The pictures, presumably from the manufacturing lines, show the pre-packed screens ahead of the iPhone assembly process. The assumption is that these screens are the 5.4 inch variety. Tim Hardwick reports:

“At first blush, the panels seem to have the same notch size as the iPhone 11, but an improved screen to bezel ratio, although it’s possible this could just be down to their pre-assembly appearance.

“That said, despite the hand in the image, it’s not immediately obvious from the photos which size of ‌iPhone 12‌ that the panels are supposed to be destined for. Weibo blogger Digital Chat Station claims they are for the 5.4-inch model, which could suggest we’re looking at a smaller notch than the one on the 5.8-inch ‌iPhone 11‌.”

Although the broad specs of the screen have been leaked and discussed, there’s still some question over the position and size of the notch on the flat-screened iPhone 12 models. The question now is which data point is represented by the leaked images.

Folding The iPhone Camera

Apple’s designers are naturally looking further down the line than this September’s iPhone 12. And naturally the camera is going to be used to show Apple’s technological prowess. The latest report from noted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo highlights the potential use of a ‘periscope’ zoom lens in 2021’s iPhone:

“Periscope cameras (sometimes called folded optics) are already in a number of high-end smartphones, such as Huawei’s P30 Pro launched last year. Through the use of mirrors, the path of the incoming light can be bent, allowing the periscope lens to be both longer and orientated in a different direction – the obvious benefit here is to have the sensor beside the lens, rather than directly behind the lens.

“… a longer lens will demand more internal space, if you are looking for larger levels of optical zoom something else is going to need to be sacrificed, such as battery volume.”

More here on Forbes.

The Lifespan Of An Intel MacBook

With the transition of the MacOS platform to Apple’s own chips using the ARM architecture, what happens to the massive user-base of Intel powered machines. The switch to ARM will not be instantaneous, so your hardware is not dead. Even with Apple’s best intentions, the Intel MacBook is just mostly dead:

“MacOS on ARM has not appeared out of nowhere. Apple’s engineering team will have been working internally on this for many years, and some of the key third-party software will have been working with the the new architecture. The lack of ‘new’ features in MacOS over the last few years has left the MacBook range especially looking like Apple’s secondary team behind the iPhone and iPad families.

“…But ARM is the future of the Mac platform. Apple will not want to top the ball on this one, in fact it will want not only to push the development heavily, it will want to be seen publicly to be pushing the development.”

July 25 update: Lurking inside the latest MacOS beta is another illustration of where the Mac platform is heading, and how the Intel machines will be left behind. Biometric security is available on some Mac machines with the inclusion of Touch ID on a number of MacBook Pro machines. The latest beta of MacOS has code for the inclusion of FaceID, Apple’s 3D facial recognition system. Fossbytes’ Anmol Sachdeva reports:

“When Apple introduced FaceID biometric authentication technology in iPhone X, a code snippet with the project’s internal name as “PearlCamera” was found in the iOS update and now developers have found references to “PearlCamera” in macOS Big Sur Developer Beta 3…

“However, the project is in its early stage of implementation and Apple might take some time before adding FaceID in MacBooks.”

Thanks to the use of the True Depth camera to capture the face, this is not going to be available on any of the current Intel machines. Given the two-year window to move to ARM, there’s every chance that FaceID on MacOS will only be available on ARM machines. 

An Apple Chart With A Message

What does Apple’s shiny chart from WWDC mean? It’s quietly contrasting Intel and AMD chips with Apple’s upcoming chips for the Mac platform, but is there a unique message in here? Jason Snell has some “Fun With Charts”:

“On one level, it’s a meaningless bit of marketing fluff. There are no labels. The vast breadth of notebooks and desktop PCs is represented by two perfect rounded rectangles. “Macs with Apple Silicon” are represented by a fuzzy gradient of squares. What does it mean?

“It’s a question that won’t be answered until after the Betas of Summer have gone. It’ll be a while before we get a clear picture of what the first Macs of this new era will look like. We don’t have a lot to go on… but there is this chart.”

More at Six Colors.

Macs With Apple Silicon (Apple WWDC / via SixColors)
Macs With Apple Silicon (Apple WWDC / via SixColors) APPLE WWDC

Your Next iPad Will Be Cheaper

More news from the supply chain, this time on the upcoming refresh to the iPad Air lineup. It’s the welcome combination of more power for less dollars. Alex Alderson reports:

“The next iPad Air may not only have a larger display and a more powerful chipset than the current model, but it may be cheaper too. The iPad Air 2020 is believed to feature a 10.8-inch or 11-inch display and an A13 Bionic SoC, which would both be improvements over the 10.5-inch display an A12 Bionic in the current model.” 

More at NotebookCheck.

The Success Of The iPhone SE

Apple, like many manufacturers, is facing lower sales due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. With sales down 23 percent according to Coutnerpoint Research, the new iPhone SE is standing out. Launched in April, the mid-range iOS smartphone is performing ahead of expectations. Juli Clover reports:

“Priced starting at $399, the ‌iPhone SE‌ has been selling well in both postpaid and prepaid channels. More than 30 percent of ‌iPhone SE‌ buyers were upgrading from an ‌iPhone‌ 6s or older, and more than 26 percent of ‌iPhone SE‌ users came from an Android device, which Counterpoint says is a higher than normal Android to iOS switch rate.”

More at MacRumors.

Apple’s Environmental Progress

With a commitment to making the whole company carbon-netural by 2030, Apple continues to use its scale to promote environmental issues and its own impact. Alex Hern reports:

“The majority of the progress, Apple says in its 2020 environmental progress report, will be made by cutting its carbon emissions directly. But the last 25% will come from “carbon removal solutions” such as forest planting and mangrove swamp restoration.

“The company is investing some of a recently announced $100m (£78.5m) fund for a racial equity and justice initiative on minority-owned businesses that can help clean up its supply chain. “Systemic racism and climate change are not separate issues and they will not abide separate solutions,” said Lisa Jackson, Apple’s environmental lead.”

More at The Guardian. As part of the commitment, Apple confirmed that it will start using low-carbon aluminum as an intermediate step towards a carbon-red smelting process. The first consumer hardware to benefit from this will be the 16-inch MacBook Pro:

“For the moment, this MacBook Pro will be unique, but it will be joined in time by the rest of the MacBook range, then the Mac family, before the new aluminium will be found in every Apple product. It’s not an immediate switch over and it may not have a cut-of date of ‘before and after’, so there’s no way or a consumer to specify that it wants the newer materials. Instead they need to be content with the knowledge of Apple’s march forward.”

More on that, here on Forbes.

And Finally…

With the move to MacOS 11 Big Sur, Apple has a new default wallpaper. How easy would it be for Andrew Levitt and his friends to capture the same image in under seven days. One thing is or sure, it’s clear that Craig Federighi is camping out in Levitt’s head.

Apple Loop brings you seven days worth of highlights every weekend here on Forbes. Don’t forget to follow me so you don’t miss any coverage in the future. Last week’s Apple Loop can be read here, or this week’s edition of Loop’s sister column, Android Circuit, is also available on Forbes.

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The Future

All You Need to Know About Twitter’s Upcoming Audio Spaces Feature




Project creation is up 25% since April year over year, according to GitHub’s 2020 State of the Octoverse report.



Image: GitHub

Like many other teams, developers from around the world came together this year to innovate, collaborate, and solve problems. As the global workplace shifted to a remote model, there was “an increase in developer connection and camaraderie through open source,” according to GitHub’s 2020 State of the Octoverse report.

The report is divided into three separate reports.

Finding balance between work and play

The shift to remote work and the blurring of the lines between personal and professional lives affected many things—and the delivery of software and open source projects was no exception.

There were four key findings in this report. The first is that small pull requests drive innovation and productivity. “Teams that focus on small pull requests and closer collaboration have better reviews and faster feedback,” the report said.

Other findings are that automation drives productivity gains and improves developer experience, open source is a great escape when people are stuck at home, and developer activity highlights the importance of flexible and personal solutions.

In the latter instance, “Developers may be taking advantage of flexible schedules to manage their time and energy, which contributes to this sustained productivity,” the report said.

Another interesting finding was that enterprise developer activity drops on weekends and holidays, but open source activity jumps during those same times. This is “evidence that as people are ‘signing off’ of work they are ‘signing on’ to open source,” the report said. Open source project creation is also up 25% since April year over year.

Overall, there has been increased activity through the pandemic, with consistent or increased activity for pull requests, pushes, reviewed pull requests, and commented issues per person, compared to last year, according to the report.

Empowering healthy communities

GitHub’s developer community of 56 million saw 1.9 billion contributions added in the past year, the report said. Among the other key findings in this report were that GitHub is for more than just software developers.

While the number of people in the community continues to grow, the proportion of those who identify as developers has decreased, “signaling an expanding diversity of those joining the open source community,” the report said.

Another significant finding is that open source project creation jumped by up to 40% year over year as people are turning to open source as a way to create, learn, and connect with the community, according to the report. People are also merging pull requests faster than last year, which indicates increased collaboration, the report said.

GitHub supports distance learning, and more than 900,000 students used the community to learn industry-standard software and build their portfolios, the report said. Over 50,000 teachers automated their course workflows with automated assignments and auto-grading, the report noted.

Securing the world’s software

Most projects on GitHub rely on open source software, and active repositories with a support package ecosystem have a 59% chance of getting a security alert in the next 12 months, according to this third report.

The repositories most like to receive an alert in the past year were Ruby (81%) and JavaScript (73%).

One disturbing finding from the report was that security vulnerabilities often go undetected for more than four years before being disclosed, according to the report.

“Once they are identified, the package maintainer and security community typically create and release a fix in just over four weeks. This highlights the opportunities to improve vulnerability detection in the security community,” the report said.

Other findings were that most software vulnerabilities are mistakes and not malicious attacks, and automation accelerates open source supply chain security.

Suggested actions here are that developers:

  • Check dependencies for vulnerabilities regularly
  • Participate in the community if their organization has a security team
  • Use automation to remediate vulnerabilities and stay secure
  • Remediate vulnerabilities quickly and keep code base current.

While developers worry about introducing security flaws, that is a risk anytime they write code or add a new dependency, the report noted.

“The opposite is also a risk: Stale code and outdated dependencies mean attackers have time to methodically attack a system by leveraging every known vulnerability,” the report said. “Malicious attacks exploit flaws in code, and as a result, developers are embracing proactive detection and automation to prevent or limit the impact a bug can have in production.”

To be successful, the report said, developers must consider all vulnerabilities in their code—both the code they write, and the open source software they depend on.


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The Future

Coding the future: the tech kids solving life’s problems




They’re too young to vote or drive. But meet the children writing computer programs to track our health and wellbeing, choose a new school… and even how to cheat at online games

Portrait of Adarsh Ambati in the backyard of his family’s home in San Jose, CA.
 Making an impact: Adarsh Ambati developed a contactless vital signs monitor and a community sprinkler alert system to conserve water in his neighbourhood. Photograph: Winni Wintermeyer/The Observer

Adarsh Ambati, 15, San Jose, California

I started getting interested in coding when I was about 11. I joined a local community lab where biologists and computer scientists come together and conduct experiments. I wanted to join the lab because my brother was really into biology and at the time I wanted to be exactly like him. I was too young to participate in the experiments, so my mentor pushed me more towards coding.

Then a couple of years ago my mum had a third-degree heart block and had to go to hospital where she was hooked up to so many different wires to monitor her health. But the wires ended up hindering her health because they stopped her moving around. I wanted to make something that could help her and other people feel better by having their mobility restored, while still being able to monitor their vital signs.

That’s when I came up with an idea for a contactless vital signs monitor. It took me around nine months to develop the device and build an app with notifications so doctors could use it, but also regular people. Because it’s contactless and relatively portable it could even be used to detect infectious diseases such as Covid-19. My mum got better before I finished the project, so unfortunately I couldn’t use it on her, but I did test it on a lot of other people. I had 40 participants in my pilot study and did over 1,000 tests.

In the past, coders have been thought of as nerds and social pariahs, but technology has become a lot more interactive and social than it used to be.

At school there are a lot of kids who are really interested in computer science. I think about 25% of people want to pursue it in some way as a career. A lot of young people now associate tech with the sleek, beautiful campuses of Apple and Facebook in Silicon Valley.

I made my monitor because I saw a problem with my mum’s heart, but I also did a project about an eco- sprinkler system when I saw that a lot of water was wasted on my neighbours’ lawns. I want to combine my passions of environmental science and computer science and build a product that will make conservational biology much more efficient. Preserving biodiversity is something we’re struggling with as a planet; hopefully one day I can develop a device that can make that go more smoothly.

Raphaël Wreford, 13, London

Raphael Wreford, 13,at his computer at home
 Screen time: Raphaël Wreford. Photograph: Antonio Olmos/The Observer

My technology career started when I was four and my dad showed me how to make a PowerPoint. I was really bad at drawing, so I would use it to make cool shapes and animations. I began making one every week about the most boring subjects, like my house, and presenting them to my primary school class. I think I started a trend because so many people started doing it after that.

Soon after, my friend’s dad, who made video games, realised I was interested in computers and started teaching me about coding. He showed us the things he had made and I was fascinated because I realised with code you could make anything you want. I would play around with an old spare computer at home and mash the keys, hoping it would produce a good output – that’s how I lost my first computer to a million viruses.

Initially, I only wanted to learn code so I could make my own video games. My parents were quite strict with technology. I didn’t have a games console and I knew if I asked to play video games, most of the time the answer would be no. But if I asked to make one, they would let me because it was educational. It was a great way of bypassing the rules.

For about three years my friend and I used the library computer at school to work on game ideas. My first creation was very boring – and my family definitely expressed that. I really wanted to do something unique and helpful. I had an idea to make a video game for blind people. I always knew the game should be shaped around sounds, so a blind person could hear it. I spent a whole summer talking to my dad about it and when I started making it, it ran really smoothly.

I want to make it available on Android game apps soon and eventually add some of the adverts that allow you to get paid a little. Once you’ve got the skills it’s quite easy to make money from coding – even when you’re just 13.

I think 20 years ago coding seemed like a geeky thing to do, but now you have drones that rescue people in mountains, robot surgeons and AI that is a million times smarter than humans. Young people are realising they can save the world with code.

Fiona Geary, 13, West Cork

Fíona Geary at her computer at home
 Game changer: Fíona Geary. Photograph: Courtesy of the Geary family

When I was seven my parents saw things on the TV about coding and took me to a local coding club. I liked that you could write a set of instructions to the computer and it carried out your wishes: you could create any idea that popped up in your head. I started experimenting with mini-games. I made one where you had to save an alien planet from climate change. We always get lectures about climate change and I wanted to create a fun game with aliens to do a unique spin on the concept.

When I was 12, I made an animation about a refugee who travels to Ireland from Syria. I had heard about it so much in the news and I wanted to use my skills to get the message out there because people my age might not know about these things.

My current project is a website about mindfulness, the name is TeenBeo – beo is the Irish word for life. I think that every young person can get nervous sometimes and growing up in 2020 there is a lot of chaos with social media and living up to certain ideals. There are notifications coming at you all the time. The internet can be very hectic. That’s why it’s important to take a break sometimes. On my website there’s a stress ball you can click on when you are angry, there’s music, there’s a breathing exercise, there’s also an area where you can write down all your worries.

I haven’t shown it to my friends yet as I was keeping it a bit of a secret until I was comfortable with it. If I do put it up publicly, people could share their artwork and recordings on there. I don’t think there’s anywhere in life that so many people can come together as a community like the internet.

A lot of teenagers don’t get into coding, which is a shame, because it’s very helpful. It’s way harder to connect with people without technology – without it lockdown would have been a disaster: no online meetings, no online school, we would have basically done nothing the whole time. It’s hard to imagine a world without tech. I guess you would have to have a power cut to know what it’s like.

At the moment I’m dreaming of learning JavaScript and maybe some Python as well, and I would also love to program a robot. That would be really cool. Eventually, I’d like to work somewhere like Google, especially with all the slides, but I’m only 13 so I’m keeping my options open.

Elana Monaghan, 16, and Saibh Malcolm, 15, Galway

Elana Monaghan and Saibh Malcom in their school uniform at school
 Class act: Elana Monaghan and Saibh Malcolm

Elana: You can do anything with code; you can make an app or a website about anything, whether that’s about books or design. We’re both pretty creative and I think that’s one of the things that attracted us to code.

Saibh: For me the problem-solving side very appeals as well. There is so much to actually coding a website and there is always something more to learn. If you are creative, finding something that you can use your imagination with is so cool. You can think of anything and then go ahead and make it into something.

E: In Ireland, you get a choice of a few schools in your area and when it came to picking secondary schools I picked the one that was most convenient, but last year I transferred to Saibh’s school and now I’m much happier. After that experience, we came up with an idea for an app called Exploring Schools, to help primary school kids choose the right secondary school for them.

S: If I was still in primary school and had the app, I would definitely look at the number of people in the school: my primary school had about 40 students, and then I moved to a secondary school that had more than 800 students – and that was a big change.

E: Our app evolved as we got more focused and started getting the information together – that was definitely the longest part. There are 47 schools in Galway and we had to go through every school’s details.

S: We talked to our friends’ younger brothers and sisters and they all said they thought it would be really helpful. Most of the schools have their own websites, but they’re hard to navigate and find the information that you want. We want to help kids compare schools and have all the information in one place so they make the right choice.

E: We definitely want to expand the app. At the moment we only have it for one county in Ireland, but we’re hoping to have it for all of Ireland soon. We probably have to find a more efficient way of collecting the information – at the moment we’re just Googling the schools one by one.

S: Coding still isn’t very big, especially among girls, but I think people are definitely getting more into it. In our school we’re probably the only two people who are really into coding, but it’s becoming more popular.

E: In 10 years’ time everyone will want to learn how to code. It will definitely help us in the future.

Nico Papamichael, 13, London

Nico Papamichael, 13, London
 Bright spark: Nico Papamichael. Photograph: Linda Nylind/The Observer

There are so many things you can do with coding, it’s fun to explore and see what you can create. I enjoy trying things and seeing if it works – if it doesn’t, I try it a different way.

I’ve always been interested in things like computers, phones and technology, so I saved up and bought myself a couple of computers – I don’t spend my money on anything else, really. I started playing around with programming. I like to experiment with things that already exist. For example, I used to go to a swimming pool and they had contactless key cards that they gave us. When I stopped going I decided to reprogram the card so that I could tap it on to my iPhone and it would turn the flashlight on. It was pretty useful, actually.

I also spend more time messing around with video games than I spend actually playing them. I like to see how a game is written and do something with it that makes it easier to play or makes you invincible. I made a new world on MineCraft where I changed the icon and I changed how many points I had – you can change the colours and characters until it’s basically a new world. Once you know how to do it, it’s not really very hard. I’m just really interested in how I can improve things and make them more interesting.

I find it quite surprising that no one I know really enjoys doing the things that I do. We go to digital literacy classes at school, which is basically IT, and we learn coding. I tend to get through it in 10 minutes instead of an hour and then I just make my own stuff up. Everyone always asks me for help all the time. I think it’s because I see it as a hobby rather than a lesson that I have to do. They don’t see it as that much fun.

Code is like a language; once you learn it from the beginning you can only learn it more and more and more. One day, when I’m really good at it my plan is to create something that no one has ever made – I want to come up with a computer that no one has ever seen before.


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The Future

Xbox App May Come to Smart TVs in the Next 12 Months: Phil Spencer




Xbox app may come to smart TVs in 2021, head of Xbox Phil Spencer shared during an interview with The Verge. Microsoft is working on bringing its game streaming service — xCloud — to mobile phones and it seems like the company already has plans on implementing something similar with smart TVs. While Spencer did not share exact details about the app, Xbox chief last month hinted that the company could be working on TV streaming sticks for its xCloud gaming services.

Phil Spencer spoke with The Verge about the new Xbox consoles and the future of gaming, and shared that an Xbox app or something on those lines will make its way to smart TVs in the next 12 months. “I think you’re going to see that in the next 12 months. I don’t think anything is going to stop us from doing that,” the report quoted Spencer as saying.

Looking back at CRT TVs that project an image on the back of a piece of glass, Spencer mentioned that TVs nowadays are like game consoles stuffed behind a screen with “an app platform and a Bluetooth stack and a streaming capability”.

According to Spencer, watching Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and other streaming services is one of the primary things that users do on their consoles. Talking about changes in technology, the head of Xbox said, “I think you’re absolutely right, there will be winners and losers and things that evolve and get combined together. What I’m saying is the amount of compute capability in my home has increased with the number of streaming signals that have come in, not decreased. I think gaming will be one of those things as well”.

Back in October, Microsoft hinted at TV streaming sticks for its xCloud gaming services. At the time, Spencer stated that there may be low-price hardware in the Xbox ecosystem, referring to devices that can just plug into a TV and run games via xCloud.

Microsoft is working on bringing a stable version of its xCloud game streaming service to mobile devices. As of now, it is available in beta on Android with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate and brings over 100 games to a mobile device.


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