The Sizzle

Issue 408 - Tuesday, 6th June 2017


WWDC 2017 - hardware updates
iMac, MacBook and MacBook Pro got hardware bumps. All of em get the Intel CPUs and AMD GPUs, iMac gets TB3/USB-C ports and new price points, MacBook supports 16GB of RAM. Go look at them on the Apple online store. Solid updates there, hopefully Apple keeps it up. Even the MacBook Air got a CPU update.

Apple mentioned the iMac Pro when they had their Mac Pro apology event and now it's here. It's a black iMac, with a fancier screen (but still 27"), based on a workstation platform. That means Xeon CPUs (single CPU, up to 18-cores), AMD's Radeon Vega next-gen GPU, ECC RAM (128GB), 10 GigE and a user removable stand! Comes out in December. The base model will start at US$4999. No AU pricing yet (I predict around $7,499 at least).

The iPad Pro got a huge update. There's now a 10.5" screened device that's the same physical size as the previous 9.7". Both the 10.9" and 12.9" get way faster A10X SoCs, True Tone support, better quality displays and a new feature Apple calls "ProMotion", which is basically a 120Hz refresh rate, that allows for super smooth scrolling and industry leading 20ms latency when using the Apple Pencil. You can order those now from the Apple store too.

WWDC 2017 - software updates

watchOS is in its 4th iteration and keeps things focussed on fitness. There's now the ability for gym equipment manufacturers to let you tap your watch to the elliptical/treadmill/whatever and combine all the data it knows about your exercise with what the watch knows. There's loads more workouts in the Workouts app and a Siri watch face that acts like Siri on the lock screen of your iPhone with updates on how long it'll take to get home, upcoming appointments, and shit like that.

macOS High Sierra. Yeah, that's what they called macOS 10.13, High Sierra. It's like Snow Leopard compared to Leopard back in the day. A refinement of the previous OS, with not many new features. Safari is faster than ever, Photos gets some love (some new editing tools and filtering), the new Apple File System introduced to iOS a few months ago will be the default file system for macOS now.

Apple's mini website for iOS 11 is worth scrolling through. Loads of good stuff for the iPad, particularly when paired with the Apple Pencil, like the ability to take notes directly from a locked home screen. The improved multi-tasking functionality looks interesting, with a very macOS like dock and App Spaces. Mac Rumours has a run through of some new little things in iOS 11. There's way too many to list here, but some of my favourites are: you can type to use Siri, Control Centre gets a huge revamp and you can pick and choose what you want in there (low power mode!), QR code scanner straight in the default Camera app, built-in screen recording and Do Not Disturb mode whilst driving (other smartphones had this and I was jealous).

WWDC 2017 - other stuff
Apple Pay lets you send and receive money straight from iMessage. Want to send someone $50 but don't have any cash on you? Just iMessage them $50 via Apple Pay and it gets added to their Apple Pay Cash Card where they can then use it as credit for other purchases with Apple Pay or withdraw it to a bank account. Very cool. Maps finally gets lane guidance, catches up with Google Maps by including shopping centre and airport interiors and one-ups Google Maps to include speed limits whilst driving. The App Store gets a redesign to bring it into line with Apple Music. There's a Magic Keyboard variant with a numeric keypad for ya.

Last but not least, something all new from Apple - that Siri speaker rumour floating around was true, but it's called HomePod. It's a fabric wrapped cylinder a bit taller than an iPhone Plus that's like the Amazon Echo or Google Home, but uses Siri instead and has a much better speaker setup. It's primary use isn't so much to be an assistant like the others, but to be a Sonos-esque speaker with Siri built in. It'll also tie into HomeKit for yelling across the room to turn the lights off and do the general Siri stuff like weather updates and timers and measurement conversions. It's also out in December, for US$349. No AU pricing.

Dropbox is setting up an AU proxy
Dropbox is setting up an Australian proxy server in Equinix’s Sydney data centre and will support all Dropbox users, not just the big businesses of those who pay. Daniel Iverson, Dropbox’s head of solutions architecture APAC said that they will "proxy all your file-related information, block data and metadata. It will optimise the network connectivity between Dropbox clients and the Dropbox cloud. There is no caching; all your data is still stored in the Dropbox cloud in the US." - anything that speeds up Dropbox is sweet with me.

NBN achieves gigabit download speeds over HFC in their lab
NBN said they've been able to get (almost) gigabit speeds over HFC in the lab. Using DOCSIS 3.1, speeds of 984 Mbps were reached using the current DOCSIS 3.1 compatible NTD (i.e: that box you plug your wi-fi router into when NBN give you HFC based internets). NBN plans to roll out a 1000/100 speed profile trial for those on HFC around the end of 2017 and would like to launch it as a product for all ISPs to sell to their HFC based NBN users some time in 2018. Which is all well and good, but no ISPs will offer it because the cost of supplying gigabit over the NBN is crazy.


Panasonic's fancy new AU-EVA1 pro video camera
Panasonic released a really cool looking video camera last week. It's "pro", but in terms of video cameras, is not high end. The AU-EVA1 has Super 35 sized sensor that records 4K video at 60p and 2K at 240p. It'll record 10-bit 4:2:2 compressed video at 400mbps, onto regular SD cards (no expensive CFast cards!). To top it all off, it uses an EF lens mount, so you can get lenses from practically any rental house. There's no price yet, but Panasonic reckon it'll be under US$8,000 (which is very cheap for a camera like this) and be out in our spring. Here's Philip Bloom's take. Here's a video interview with one of the Panasonic people talking about the cam. I like it. I'd like to buy one, but I have no need for one.

Afghanistan gets an LTE network
Afghanistan recently got an LTE network! Unfortunately, their precious towers are targets for "insurgents". People literally blow the fucking things up for whatever crazy reasons, so Afghan Wireless has to employ 3-6 guards at every tower 24/7, just to make sure their infrastructure isn't damaged. Imagine if Telstra had to post armed security guards at all their towers across Australia?

Nord VPN saw a huge spike in Aussies grabbing VPNs in April
Nord VPN, a prominent VPN provider noticed that registrations from Australian users jumped 100% since April 13th 2017 - the day the government announced the decision to *not* allow data being stored under data-retention legislation in civil court cases. Around that time was also when a campaign to use a VPN began due to ISPs finally complying with mandatory data-retention laws passed in March 2015. I guess if the data gathered won't actually keep us safe from the terrorists, at least it's keeping the people at Nord VPN and whoever supplies them with servers and bandwidth, employed. Jobs and growth via stupid legislation!

Here endeth the sizzle (until tomorrow!)

The Sizzle is curated by Anthony "@decryption" Agius and emailed every weekday afternoon. Join us on Slack and chat with other Sizzle subscribers. Know someone who could use a bit of Sizzle in their life? Buy them a gift subscription!