Apple generates a lot of news, and it can be hard to keep up. If your mind was on other things this week, our roundup of Apple-related headlines will bring you up to date.
Intel fights back
It’s been a tough few months for Intel. Formally given its notice by Apple back in June 2020, the company has been forced to sit and watch the M1 chip, which displaced its processors in the latest Macs, get praised to high heaven for superior performance and power efficiency.
At long last, however, the chip maker has come out fighting. This week it released speed test results that appear to indicate that actually – actually – Intel’s chips are better than the M1 in several respects.
Intel claims that an 11th-generation Core i7-1185G7 can match or exceed the M1’s performance in a MacBook Pro in both native and non-native applications; that the M1’s power consumption is inferior; that the M1 simply cannot run a lot of software; and that the new MacBooks have compatibility issues with things like monitors and game controllers.
Call us cynical, but some might wonder if Intel is really the most objective judge of all this. Indeed, former Macworld editor Jason Snell has criticised Intel’s tests for being deliberately M1-unfriendly, referring to “inconsistent test platforms, shifting arguments, omitted data, and the not-so-faint whiff of desperation”. Ouch.
The riddle is solved, and it seems that Dan Riccio’s mysterious Apple project will revolve around AR and VR. Apple’s former senior VP of hardware engineering has taken over responsibility for the company’s augmented reality and virtual reality ventures, which gives an idea of how seriously it takes these areas of development.
It had previously been announced that Riccio was “creating something new and wonderful that I couldn’t be more excited about”; at the time we speculated that this must refer to either VR/AR, or the Apple Car.
The Apple Car project gets murky
Talking of the Apple Car, we wrote last week about the flurry of developments concerning the heavily rumoured project, with Hyundai starting the week by seemingly ruling itself out of consideration, and miraculously ending it close to finalising a deal.
Well, so much for that. For one reason or another, negotiations between Apple and Hyundai-Kia have been suspended, and it looks like Apple will be looking elsewhere for its car manufacturing partner – an arrangement which analysts expect it to announce in the first half of this year.
Talking of those reasons, Samuel Nyberg has written an in-depth analysis of the saga, and believes Hyundai’s woes give an idea of how difficult Apple is to work with.
“Whichever car manufacturer ends up getting the gig,” he writes, “it will not be easy to collaborate with Apple. It’s a company that’s used to getting what it wants, and perfectly happy to walk out the door if anything threatens that.”
None of which will stop car firms lining up to apply for the contract. And Nissan, it seems, is one of the keenest of all. Be careful what you wish for.
News in brief
A new bill in the North Dakota Senate will – if passed – force Apple and other platform owners to allow software developers to use alternative app stores and payment systems. Apple privacy manager Erik Neuenschwander says the legislation “threatens to destroy iPhone as you know it”.
EU competition czar Margrethe Vestager has warned that Apple must treat all app developers fairly, as the company steps up its privacy protections and changes the way user data is handled. The odd thing is that Vestager appears to be responding to Facebook’s characterisation of Apple’s position – namely, that it will make its own apps exempt from the new rules – rather than the way Apple has actually said it will behave.
Dennis Steimels offers eight reasons why you should wait for the iPhone 13.
After telling developers to send back their rented A12Z Mac minis early, and facing criticism for offering just $200 compensation – and that in a time-limited company credit rather than cash – Apple has agreed to give a full refund.
Over in Texas, Apple faces a lawsuit from Gesture Technology Partners, which alleges that Face ID and other camera features in Apple products infringe on a group of patents.
The upcoming iOS 14.5 software update, which is currently in beta, may restore the ability to use picture-in-picture in YouTube (via a browser, not in the app). This feature was nerfed following the launch of iOS 14 last September, but it works again in the latest beta. Has Google missed a trick?
Apple doesn’t reveal the numbers officially, but an analyst has calculated just how many Apple Watches are being worn. The number, he reckons, passed 100 million in December.
Bugs & problems
Apple has announced a free replacement programme for faulty MacBook Pro batteries. A “very small number” of models from 2016 and 2017 have been unable to charge beyond 1%, which obviously won’t do.
The rumour mill
Apple is working on the ‘iPhone Flip’, Jon Prosser claims – a foldable clamshell addition to its smartphone range. It will come in “fun colours”, but not for a few years. If ever.
Designer Antonio De Rosa has created 3D renders of Apple’s rumoured VR headset, based on a leaked drawing. He calls it the Apple View.
Switching from VR to AR, where Apple’s long-mooted AR glasses remain a distant prospect, we have at least some reason to feel optimistic: Apple and TSMC are reportedly developing micro OLED screens for the product at a “secretive facility in Taiwan”. The project is at the trial production stage.
Apple may be about to fix the old ‘frayed Lightning cable’ problem.
And that’s it for this week. Stay Appley!