Aussie Mac Zone ~ Episode 237

Show 237 – May 14, 2018

Run Sheet ~ Zarn, Garth & Michael

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Our Aussie Apple Rambling

Story 1

Apple’s ‘butterfly’ MacBook keyboard problems bring class action lawsuit

A lawsuit filed in federal court claims that the keyboard used in all the MacBook Pros and MacBooks made for several years is defective. The plaintiffs request that this be made into a class action lawsuit, and that Apple be required to replace all the affected keyboards at no cost to users.

The lawsuit also requests punitive damages because, as they claim, Apple continued to build and sell laptops with the “butterfly” keyboard even though the company knew it was defective.

The keyboard design that’s at the canter of this controversy debuted in the 2015 MacBook, and was later used in the 2016 MacBook Pro. It’s been a part of all subsequent models.

The name “butterfly” comes from the primary internal component. On older keyboards this looks like a pair of scissors, but Apple redesigned the mechanism to look like a butterfly.

It more evenly distributes the pressure from tapping on the keys. However, the keys get easily stuck if any particle gets into the mechanism. And repair is costly. At least, that the assertion of a recall petition signed by almost 18,000 people in just over a week.

That’s also what lead plaintiffs Zixuan Rao and Kyle Barbaro claim in the lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court of Northern California.

Their suit says “Thousands of consumers have experienced this defect. When the MacBook’s butterfly keyboard fails, the keys stick and no longer register keystrokes.”

Rao and Barbaro don’t pull any punches. Their 37-page MacBook lawsuit claims Apple knew that this design was flawed in 2015 used it anyway, concealing the problems from the public. “Apple’s fraudulent concealment was malicious, oppressive, deliberate, intended to defraud Plaintiffs and Class members and enrich Apple,” is how they put it.

The lead plaintiffs ask the court to “Award all actual, general, special, incidental, statutory, punitive, and

consequential damages and restitution to which Plaintiffs and Class members are entitled.” Specifically, they want Apple to “return to Plaintiffs and Class members all costs attributable to remedying or replacing defective MacBook laptops, including but not limited to economic losses from the purchase of replacement laptops.”

A lawsuit like this one isn’t actually a class action yet. Rao and Barbaro asked that it be certified one, but it’s up to the court. The court will base its decision on whether a sufficient number of people have been harmed to warrant a class action.


Story 2

Apple cracking down on applications that send location data to third-parties

Over the last few days, Apple has seemingly started cracking down on applications that share location data with third-parties. In such cases, Apple has been removing the application in question and informing developers that their app violates two parts of the App Store Review Guidelines…

Thus far, we’ve seen several cases of Apple cracking down on these types of applications. The company informs developers via email that “upon re-evaluation,” their application is in violation of sections 5.1.1 and 5.1.2 of the App Store Review Guidelines, which pertain to transmitting user location data and user awareness of data collection.

Apple explains that developers must remove any code, frameworks, or SDKs that relate to the violation before their app can be resubmitted to the App Store.

Apple’s crackdown on these applications comes amid a growing industry shift due to General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, in the European Union. While Apple has always been a privacy-focused company, it is seemingly looking to ensure that developers take the same care of user data.

In the instances we’ve seen, the apps in question don’t do enough to inform users about what happens with their data. In addition to simply asking for permission, Apple appears to want developers to explain what the data is used for and how it is shared. Furthermore, the company is cracking down on instances where the data is used for purposes unrelated to improving the user experience:

You may not use or transmit someone’s personal data without first obtaining their permission and providing access to information about how and where the data will be used.

Data collected from apps may not be used or shared with third parties for purposes unrelated to improving the user experience or software/hardware performance connected to the app’s functionality.


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Story 3

iPads save $1.8M a year and 55,000 person hours, says Dallas construction firm

The technology head of construction company Rogers-O’Brien says that using iPads saves the company $1.8M a year, including 55,000 hours of reductions in working time.

In particular, says Todd Wynne, iPads solve a recurring problem that no-one outside the construction industry would ever guess existed …

With paper-based plans, he told Business Insider, there were always multiple versions floating around – and it was frustratingly easy for construction to begin based on an outdated version. When that happened, they’d have to tear down the work and start again.

Building plans are now stored in the cloud and everyone works off the same always-updated version. So if an architect or engineer makes a change, that change is instantly available, via the iPad, in the field.

“We call it the ‘One Truth.’ Everyone works off the One Truth,” he says. He estimates each project saves about 7% on costs just from this.

 There is also an incredible volume of paperwork involved in construction, said Wynne. Holding those documents on an iPad not only eliminated printing costs, but also saved wasted time. It wasn’t possible to carry all that paperwork around the site, so every time someone needed to check the documentation, they’d have to walk back to the site office to do it.

Wynne said that in the early days, the company was simply buying the iPads at full retail price from their local Apple Store.


Story 4

Apple drops plans to build Irish data centre after three years of delays

Fed up of waiting for the necessary permission to proceed, Apple has ditched its plans to build an 850 million euro ($960 million) data centre in Athenry, County Galway in Ireland.

“Several years ago we applied to build a data centre at Athenry,” Apple said in a statement. “Despite our best efforts, delays in the approval process have forced us to make other plans and we will not be able to move forward with the data centre.” It will continue with a second data centre in Denmark.

The Irish data centre would have been the biggest in Europe, creating 300 temporary construction jobs and 50 permanent technical positions. It was intended to help power Apple Music, the App Store, Messages, Maps, and Siri.

Apple has said that the move will not affect “our enthusiasm for future projects in Ireland.”


Story 5

Apple invests $10M in greenhouse gas-free aluminium smelting 

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard joined key execs from Apple and industrial manufacturers Alcoa and Rio Tinto to announce a new process for smelting aluminium that removes greenhouse gases from the equation.

Alcoa and Rio Tinto are creating a joint venture in based in Montreal called Elysis, to help mainstream the process, with plans to make it commercially available by 2024. Along with swapping carbon for oxygen as a byproduct of the production process, the technology is also expected to reduce costs by around 15 percent.

It’s easy to see why Apple jumped at investing into tech here, pumping $13 million CAD ($10 million USD) into the venture. The company has been making a big push over the past couple of years to reduce its carbon footprint across the board. This time last month, Apple  announced that it had moved to 100-percent clean energy for its global facilitates.

“Apple is committed to advancing technologies that are good for the planet and help protect it for generations to come,” Tim Cook said in a release tied to today’s news. “We are proud to be part of this ambitious new project, and look forward to one day being able to use aluminum produced without direct greenhouse gas emissions in the manufacturing of our products.”

Those companies, along with the Governments of Canada and Quebec have combined to invest a full $188 million CAD in the forward looking tech. While the new business will be headquartered in Montreal, U.S. manufacturing will also get a piece of the pie. Alcoa has been smelting metal through the process at a smaller scale in a plant outside of Pittsburgh since 2009.


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Story 6

Steam Link and Steam Video apps coming soon to iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV

According to a press release, Steam Link will allow gamers to stream their Steam library to these devices while connected to their Mac via a 5GHz network or wired in via Ethernet.

Steam says the app will launch during the week of May 21st, though a specific data is unclear.  The app will support the Steam Controller, MFi controllers, and plenty more across the two platforms.

While Steam Video will be rolling out later this summer, it will allow users to watch thousands of movies and TV shows through Steam directly on your iOS device via Wi-Fi or LTE. Users will be able to view content offline.


How to 1

A listener has reached out to us about an Apple watch issue they are having

So here’s the issue with the Apple Watch series 3 with E-Sim. When I’m out for a walk and I leave my phone at home my watch picks up the carrier’s network and I can make and receive calls on it. However when I try to send messages if it’s iMessage it gets delivered but standard txt messages, the green coloured ones fail to be delivered, unless I’m near by the phone.

Apple has a support article:

Which reads in part ~ If you have Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS + Cellular)

If your iPhone and Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS + Cellular) are both connected to a cellular network, your watch can do everything that it normally does, even if your iPhone isn’t with you.

When your watch connects to a cellular network, Green dots icon appears in the Control Centre.   

If your watch is connected to a cellular network, but your iPhone isn’t nearby, your watch can do the same things that it can when using Wi-Fi. 

This week in Apple History

May 13, 1991: Apple releases Mac OS 7, more commonly known as System 7.

The longest lasting of Apple’s classic Mac operating systems, it remains current until System 8 replaces it in 1997.

System 7 was the biggest shakeup Mac OS had seen since the operating system first shipped with the original Mac in 1984. System 7 was whip-fast, beautiful to look at, and boasted a bevy of new features.

One big new feature was true full-time multitasking, letting multiple applications run at the same time. This meant that, for the first time, you could carry out background processing. It allowed you to perform a processing-heavy task in one app while using another. That may sound (and is!) normal today, but it was a revolution in 1991.

In addition, users now had access to “aliases,” an idea later copied by Microsoft Windows 95 as desktop “shortcuts.” This made it easier to access individual files without having to track down the source application. 

The new Mac OS also brought a big improvement in terms of file sharing. If you had an AppleTalk network, System 7 made it easy to share files and folders between systems with a simple peer-to-peer LAN.

It was even possible to collaborate on projects with a “Publish” and “Subscribe” feature. This meant that changes made to a file on one person’s machine automatically transferred to every other linked document. Think Google Docs is impressive? System 7 was doing something similar a quarter-century earlier!

Feeling nostalgic? Check out this System 7 emulator that runs inside your browser window.

May 12, 2005: Longtime Apple frenemy Bill Gates tells a German newspaper that Apple may have hit it big with the iPod, but that its success isn’t going to last forever.

 The reason? Mobile phones are going to steal the iPod’s market share. The good news for Gates is that he was right on the money. The bad news for Microsoft is that Apple cannibalised itself by making the iPhone, which became even more successful than the iPod.

“As good as Apple may be, I don’t believe the success of the iPod is sustainable in the long run,” Gates told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. “You can make parallels with computers: Apple was very strong in this field before, with its Macintosh and its graphics user interface — like the iPod today — and then lost its position.”

Gates went on to describe how the rise of cellphones, capable of doing much of what an iPod can do, would destroy the market for MP3 players.

How to 2

Apple Watch: How to enable Elevated Heart Rate notifications

Apple Watch has been credited multiple times for saving lives. This is due to the device being heavily focused on health with detection features that can help spot health problems early on.

        1. On your iPhone, head into the Watch app > Heart Rate > Elevated Heart Rate
        2. From here, you can set the threshold for when the Watch app should notify you. Options range from 100 – 150 BPM depending on what your normal, steady heart rate is.


You can now watch Apple’s ‘Carpool Karaoke’ for free

It looks like you can stream the first two episodes right now, in fact, in your TV app on iPhone, iPad or (presumably) an actual Apple TV set-top box. The first one stars Will Smith (who recently failed to date a robot and will soon be known for bungie-jumping from a helicopter), while the second pairs Alicia Keys with your new Google Assistant John Legend. 

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