eXtensions - Sunday 11 September 2022
Weekend Comment: New Apple Products and Features; The EU Wants to Regulate AI
By Graham K. Rogers
Although there was some outcry initially, this complemented the EU moves to reduce electronic waste (for example with regulations regarding USB-C cables). When certain Android phone makers followed suit shortly after, it all went quiet.
However, Brazil, presumably taking a break from wrecking the Amazon rain forest, has now decided that sales of the Apple iPhone are blocked until a charger is included, Joe Wituschek (among others) reports, noting that Apple has been quick to appeal to the Brazilian consumer protection agency, SENACON. Other reports tell us that there was also a fine of $2.4 million levied on Apple.
Just to put a damper on any of the announcements to come, there were rumors with a negative spin from several sources about a cut back in MacBook Pro orders and shipments from Apple. With exquisite timing, a couple of these arrived in my mailbox a few minutes before the iPhone event was due to begin.
And now for the main event. . .
I was surprised to see that, despite the comments online that this was to be a live event, all of the output was pre-recorded. I know that media representatives from many countries attended, including Spin 9 and Sueching from Thailand. Several sites gave Live commentary, but they were watching the same as the transmitted video and commenting on it, in the same way that I wrote my notes a few hours later. Those correspondents were also able to have a hands-on look at the new products and chat to others, including Apple personnel, who were there.
I could have stayed up, but I am past all that. I read the outlines and significant comments early in the morning, then watch the presentation late afternoon. Rather than rush to output, I wait a couple of days to think about what I had seen and to gauge feelings. The two top announcements were the Apple Watch Ultra (rumors only told us it was a big watch), and the Dynamic Island that turns the Notch into a small rectangle with rounded ends (the Pill that several rumors had), but that changes its shape depending on the task. Like the original iPhone, the solution is a mix of hardware and software. Those confident rumors all missed that.
With Tim Cook playing his normal ring-master role, he passed off the significant announcements to others in the company, including Joz for the iPhone; and each of these would make some comments then pass the baton on to the next presenter. It is dynamic, but sometimes a little confusing, especially with the transitions. To outline the Apple Watch, and later as second ringmaster for the Ultra, Cook introduced Jeff Williams. The COO does not often make such presentations - we are used to Craig Federighi, Kevin Lynch and Johny Srouji. Lynch is working hard on the Car amongst other things, while Federighi and Srouji are probably in reserve for the iPad Pro release: perhaps next month. So when Williams appeared I wondered if this was his first major step into the limelight. At 59, is he being groomed for the CEO position for when Cook (now 61) steps down? Federighi is 53.
Apple Watch Ultra - Image courtesy of Apple
AirPods Pro 2nd Generation - Image courtesy of Apple
The iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Max both use the A16 Bionic chip: 6-core CPU with 2 performance and 4 efficiency cores; 5-core GPU; and 16-core Neural Engine (TechSpecs). This has replaced the Notch with the Dynamic Island. Even static images of this show how well it is able to adapt to the use. There is a YouTube video from Apple that shows this to good effect although it might be useful to watch it a couple of times to grasp the full concept.
iPhone 16 Pro Dynamic Island - Image courtesy of Apple
This has taken a lot of thinking as satellites are not as close as the local cell towers. Geosynchronous satellites (they do not move in relation to Earth) are mainly placed in the Clarke Belt (the same man who wrote 2001 A Space Odyssey) which puts them some 35,800 kilometers above the equator.
Although the pings for GPS only use a minimal amount of data, sending a message uses much more and signals take a while to be sent or received. Apple has solved two problems here: actually finding where to point the phone antenna is done with an app that shows the narrow area to be used.
The messages have been limited using algorithms: it is not necessary to send a full alphanumeric word combination or sentence as long as sending device and receiver agree on the protocol. Think of how teenagers communicate. Emergency services have used codes for several years to convey meaning (e.g. Morse code SOS), so this would convert a request that the user selects from a list to a brief data burst of characters and symbols.
Despite the updates to specifications, Apple is sticking with Lightning connectors. I am glad to see that I am not the only one that thinks a move to USB-C is overdue. Jan Kamps (TechCrunch) outlines pretty much the same reasons I have for wanting this on the iPhone now.
Right at the end of the Apple video presentation was a teaser for Season 2 of Severance. There was no information about how close we are to a release of this. With the iPhone 14, Apple Watch 8 and AirPods now announced, what can we expect next from Apple? Ventura and iPadOS 16 are scheduled for release in October, so I expect new Macs and a new iPad Pro later in September or early October. Which Macs will be announced is always a guess, but with the basic MacBook Pro and the MacBook Air now sporting M2 chips, it is probable that other notebook computers will be upgraded. But will there be a new Mac Pro? Apple is keeping everyone waiting on that.
It could well be that the iPad Pro will also see the M2 chips but there are other iPads that might well see changes too. Apple Glasses? Apple Car? No guesses or predictions from me on these rumors in the pipeline.
I note also that the EU has ignored several IT experts when it insists that future legislation will allow side-loading, despite the clear risks that unauthorized apps can present. I will stick to the walled garden. Now, however, the EU is investigating AI and has come up with proposed regulations that already have experts concerned about the extreme limitations this will place on developers as well as the risks to users. Kyle Wiggers, reporting on TechCrunch, summarizes the potential problems that the EU's approach may lead to and includes a good collection of expert names that are sounding the warning bells. Of course, experts waded in on sideloading and the EU have ignored them too.
Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs. After 3 years writing a column in the Life supplement, he is now no longer associated with the Bangkok Post. He can be followed on Twitter (@extensions_th)
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