Aussie Mac Zone ~ Episode 392

Show 392 – Sept 02, 2021

Run Sheet ~ Zarn & Michael


Our Aussie Apple Ramblings 

Story 1 ~  MS

Australia considering new laws for Apple, Google, WeChat digital wallets

Reuters reports ~ The Australian government is considering new laws that would tighten the regulation of digital payment services by tech giants such as Apple and Google.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said he would “carefully consider” that and other recommendations from a government-commissioned report into whether the payments system had kept pace with advances in technology and changes in consumer demand.

Services such as Apple Pay, Google Pay and China’s WeChat Pay, which have grown rapidly in recent years, are not currently designated as payment systems, putting them outside the regulatory system.

“Ultimately, if we do nothing to reform the current framework, it will be Silicon Valley alone that determines the future of our payments system, a critical piece of our economic infrastructure,” Frydenberg said in an opinion piece published in the Australian Financial Review newspaper.

The Bank for International Settlements (BIS) earlier this month called for global financial watchdogs to urgently get to grips with the growing influence of ‘Big Tech’, and the huge amounts of data controlled by groups such as Google, Facebook, Amazon and Alibaba.

The Australian report recommended the government be given the power to designate tech companies as payment providers, clarifying the regulatory status of digital wallets.

It also recommended the government and industry together establish a strategic plan for the wider payments ecosystem and that a single, integrated licensing framework for payment systems be developed.

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), which is currently in charge of designating who is a payment services provider, reported that payments through digital wallets had grown to 8% of in-person card transactions in 2019, up from 2% in 2016.

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia, which has estimated digital wallet transactions more than doubled in the year to March to A$2.1 billion, has urged regulators to address “competition issues” and consider the safety implications of their use.



Story 2 ~ ZK

Apple rolling out new firmware version for AirTag item trackers

9TO5Mac reports ~ Apple is rolling out an updated version of AirTag firmware 1.0.291 with the build number 1A291c. This is up from the build number of last week’s release of 1A291a.

Apple is beginning to roll out a new version of firmware to its AirTag item trackers, 9to5Mac has learned. The new version of AirTag firmware comes two months after the previous release, which made improvements to anti-stalking features for the item trackers.

Today’s new release of AirTag firmware is version 1.0.291, and it features build number 1A291a. Prior to today, the most recent version of AirTag firmware was version 1.0.276 and build number 1A287b.

To check the firmware version of your AirTag, open the Find My application on your iPhone, then choose the Items tab in the bottom navigation bar. Then, choose your AirTag from the list of items and tap on the name of your AirTag. Doing this should reveal the serial number and firmware version of your AirTag. 

There is also no way to force it to update. Instead, just make sure your AirTag is in range of your iPhone, and it should automatically update.

It’s unclear what’s new in this updated AirTag firmware version. Apple has confirmed that it is working on an Android app that will detect AirTags and other Find My-enabled accessories, but as of publication, that application is not yet available on the Google Play Store.

It’s also possible that today’s update to AirTag includes additional improvements to the anti-stalking features Apple announced earlier this summer.



Story 3 ~ MS

Apple announces App Store changes: New communication rules, Small Developer Assistance Fund, more

9TO5Mac again ~ Apple has announced a handful of changes coming to the App Store in response to a class-action lawsuit from US developers. One of the most notable changes is that developers can now communicate with users about alternative payment solutions outside of their applications.

This class-action lawsuit was first filed in 2019. This is not the Epic vs Apple case, but rather a lawsuit brought against Apple from small developers. These changes to the App Store apply to all developers in the App Store in the United States and other countries.

Notably, Apple says that developers can “use communications, such as email, to share information about payment methods outside of their iOS App.” This means that a company or developer can email users, with their consent, to inform them about subscribing outside of the App Store.

Apple has confirmed to 9to5Mac, however, that this change does not apply to in-app communication. Developers are still not allowed to inform users in-app about pricing or subscribing options available elsewhere. Theoretically, Netflix could have a field in its iOS app for users to enter their email address, then communicate with that user directly via email about payment options.

Other highlights from the settlement:

      • Apple and the developers agreed to maintain the App Store Small Business program in its current structure for at least the next three years.
      • App Store Search has always been about making it easy for users to find the apps they’re looking for. At the request of developers, Apple has agreed that its Search results will continue to be based on objective characteristics like downloads, star ratings, text relevance, and user behaviour signals. The agreement will keep the current App Store Search system in place for at least the next three years.
      • Apple will also expand the number of price points available to developers for subscriptions, in-app purchases, and paid apps from fewer than 100 to more than 500. Developers will continue to set their own prices.
      • Apple will maintain the option for developers to appeal the rejection of an app based on perceived unfair treatment, a process that continues to prove successful. Apple has agreed to add content to the App Review website to help developers understand how the appeals process works.
      • Over the last several years, Apple has provided a great deal of new information about the App Store on Apple agreed to create an annual transparency report based on that data, which will share meaningful statistics about the app review process, including the number of apps rejected for different reasons, the number of customer and developer accounts deactivated, objective data regarding search queries and results, and the number of apps removed from the App Store.

Small Developer Assistance Fund

Apple is also announcing a Small Developer Assistance Fund, which will pay out between $250 to $30,000 to developers making under $1 million per year in the App Store. The amounts will vary based on the developer’s “historic participation in the App Store ecosystem.” Only developers in the United States are eligible for this program.




G#1 ~ ZK

New version of classic ‘Myst’ game now available for macOS; 50% performance boost for M1 Macs

9TO5Mac again ~ The team at Cyan has today released a newly-reimagined version of its adventure game Myst, first released in 1993, which includes fresh takes on the visual in every area in the game.

Myst runs natively on the M1 Macs and takes advantage of Metal 2.1 and AMD FidelityFX Super Resolution to achieve 50% more performance without compromising quality.

This results in dramatically improved modelling, textures, and dynamic lighting effects. The best part is that the new 24-inch M1 iMac can run Myst at 4K resolution while generating zero noise.

Here’s what Myst story is all about:

Welcome to Myst: a starkly beautiful island, eerily tinged with mystery and shrouded in intrigue.

Journey to Myst Island and other stunning, long dormant locations – called “Ages”- and begin to unravel the mystery you have been thrust into. As you learn what happened on the island, you will find that you are playing a key role in an epic story whose ending has not yet been written. Explore deeper connections in these stunning and surreal Ages, uncover a story of ruthless family betrayal, and make choices that will affect both you, and the world of Myst itself.

Myst supports the following Macs:

All MacBook Pros released since 2018;

All iMacs released since 2019;

All iMac Pros released since 2017;

All MacBook Airs released since 2018;

All Mac Pros released since 2019;

All Mac minis released since 2018.




#1 ~ MS

Apple TV+ earns two Emmy Awards for ‘Calls’ and ‘For All Mankind’

9TO5Mac again ~ The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences announced today that Apple TV+ has won two Primetime Emmy Awards ahead of the 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards ceremony, which is set to take place on Sunday, September 19.

Apple Original Calls won for outstanding Motion Design while For All Mankind: Time Capsule won for Outstanding Innovation in Interactive Media.

For All Mankind explores what would have happened if the global space race had never ended. The series presents an aspirational world where NASA astronauts, engineers, and their families find themselves in the centre of extraordinary events seen through the prism of an alternate history timeline — a world in which the USSR beats the US to the Moon. For All Mankind: Time Capsule is the AR experience Apple launched alongside the show.

Calls is based on the French series of the same name, and uses audio and minimal abstract visuals to tell short-form stories. Directed by Fede Álvarez (Don’t Breathe), each episode follows a dramatic mystery that unfolds through a series of seemingly average, unconnected phone conversations that quickly become surreal as the characters’ lives are thrown into growing disarray.



Story 4 ~ ZK

ACCC starts mergers law debate by declaring war on big tech market power

ZDNet reports ~ The ACCC is starting the debate on how Australia handles mergers, proposing a separate digital platforms approach to avoid market dominance.

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) chair Rod Sims has declared market power, or the lack of competition, is having broader effects on the Australian economy, starting the debate on how mergers are handled down under, particularly those involving big tech.

“The reason we are proposing change is not because we are worried about losing court cases; it is because we have serious concerns about the level of competition in our economy and our ability under the current law to prevent further consolidation via anti-competitive acquisitions,” he told the Law Council of Australia’s competition and consumer workshop on Friday.

“Unless something is done, these concerns will only intensify in the years ahead.”

Sims’ proposal is for the start of a new formal merger review process, changes to the mergers test, and reforms to deal with acquisitions by large digital platforms.

The ACCC wants the three ways to obtain clearance for a merger to be consolidated into one single method; this approach would also require all acquisitions above specified thresholds to be subject to mandatory notification to the ACCC before proceeding.

“It is to be expected that there will be some potentially problematic acquisitions that fall below the thresholds. We are therefore proposing that the ACCC have a ‘call in’ power for proposed acquisitions that are below the thresholds but where the ACCC considers there are potential competition issues which require a public review,” Sims said.



Story 5 ~ MS

Apple Watch passes 100 million active users

Cult of Mac reports ~ Apple Watch recently passed an important milestone. There are now 100 million of them in active use according to a market analysis firm. And more than 50 million Americans have one.

The user base is one of the most important measurements of a product’s success. It shows how many people are actively using a device, as opposed to buying one, disliking it, then dumping it in a drawer.



How To ~ MS

How to Show Your Mouse Cursor in macOS Screenshots

Lifehacker helps us with ~ There are plenty of ways to take beautiful screenshots on your Mac, but there’s a catch—the mouse cursor is missing in all of your screenshots by default, which may be a dealbreaker for some purposes. Sometimes you may not want to bother annotating screenshots, for example, so you could quickly show the mouse pointer to tell your dad where to click to fix his computer problems.

If you’re in that boat, we’re going to show you how to take macOS screenshots that include the good ol’ mouse cursor.

How to include the mouse pointer in macOS screenshots

You’re going to have to do a little bit of customisation to add the mouse cursor to your Mac screenshots. For this, you’ll need to find your screenshot options, which you can access by using the Command + Shift + 5 keyboard shortcut.

Once you’ve done that, click the Options menu on the right-hand side of the floating screenshot options pane. This will open up another menu where the last sub-head is labeled Options. Here, select Show Mouse Pointer.

And that’s it. From that moment on, all your Mac screenshots will include the mouse pointer too. Go right ahead and try it by using the keyboard shortcuts to take a screenshot. To capture the entire screen (including the friendly mouse cursor), press Command + Shift + 3. And to capture a part of the screen, try Command + Shift + 4, followed by the click-and-drag gesture.

While it’s natural to be excited when you finally start seeing the mouse pointer in your Mac screenshots, you don’t want to end up with a ton of random screenshots all over your desktop, so when you’re done taking screenshots, be sure to check if those images are ending up in your dedicated screenshots folder.

Finally, should you choose to hide the mouse cursor for screenshots, you can go back and reverse it by hitting Command + Shift + 5 once more, selecting Options, and under the Options sub-head, unchecking Show Mouse Pointer.




Apple announces service program to fix iPhone 12 sound issues

TECHSPOT reports ~ Apple says that “a very small percentage” of iPhone 12-series phones might suffer from a failure in a part of the receiver module, leading to affected units not being able to produce audio when placing or receiving calls. As a result, Apple has quietly launched a new repair program, intended to address this manufacturing flaw.

The “iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro Service Program for No Sound Issues” offers a free repair to replace the defective module, where eligible customers can send their iPhone to an Apple centre or Authorised Service Provider to carry out the repair.

Only phones manufactured between October 2020 and April 2021 are eligible, and — as you’d expect from the title — the 12 Mini and 12 Pro Max aren’t covered (as they’re presumably not affected by the issue).

Although a single component failure stopping such a basic feature from functioning is a pretty bad look, it seems to be rare enough that it hasn’t seen substantial media attention before this announcement, and it’s good to see any manufacturer getting on top of even relatively uncommon issues.

However, it’s also worth noting that it’s just a free repair for the receiver module; the company warns that units shouldn’t be damaged in any other way when sent in — and if they are, you might have to fork out to have the service centre repair that damage. Apple also recommends that you should back your phones up to iCloud before shipping, as a just-in-case.

Assuming that your device meets the requirements, the program’s coverage extends for two years after it was first sold at retail, and doesn’t affect any existing warranty coverage on the phone.



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