Aussie Mac Zone ~ Episode 263

Show 263 – Nov 19, 2018

Run Sheet ~ Zarn & Michael


Our Aussie Apple Ramblings

Story 1

iPhone triumphs over local rivals on record Chinese shopping day

cultofmac reports ~ The iPhone outsold Chinese rivals on Alibaba platforms during China’s Singles Day on November 11. Singles’ Day is a holiday in which people not in a relationship buy themselves gifts.

Alibaba’s figures don’t reveal which iPhones sold in highest quantities during the 24-hour event, or exactly how many units were sold. However, they reveal that Apple managed to beat out Huawei in second place, followed by Xiaomi in third place.

Samsung, which is often considered Apple’s biggest mobile rival, struggled in to eighth place. The brand has been weak in China for a while now.

“It’s a positive sign for Apple, because normally Xiaomi or Huawei has been the top brand,” Neil Shah, research director at Counterpoint Research, told CNBC. “This shows the Chinese smartphone users are maturing fast and they are looking to buy more high end devices, which is a good sign not only for Apple but other brands.”

Apple has struggled in China as of late, although recent quarters show that it is recovering. In the most recent financial quarter, which ended in September, Apple’s Greater China revenues increased 16 percent year-on-year.


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Story 2

Swift Playgrounds for iPad adds improved third-party content integration, more reports Apple has updated its Swift Playgrounds app with a handful of enhancements. Today’s update is the first to come to the app since April, and includes improvements to third-party content integration, touch interactions, and more.


Apple explains that today’s update makes it easier to discover and download content from third-parties directly within the Swift Playgrounds app. The ability to access content from third-parties was originally introduced earlier this year and it allows users to subscribe to playgrounds from other creators.

Elsewhere, today’s update includes improvements to touch gestures, with Apple saying selecting code is “more precise and easier to use.” The “What’s Next” suggestions are also more powerful with today’s update, Apple says.

The change log for the update to Swift Playgrounds is:

      • Third-party content is easy to discover and download for free directly within the app
      • Touch gestures for selecting code are more precise and easier to use
      • What’s Next is smarter about suggesting new playgrounds for you to try
      • On-screen keyboard shows and hides more predictably
      • Additional bug fixes and performance improvements


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Story 3

Volkswagen owners can use Siri Shortcuts to unlock their car

engadget tells us ~ You can also set the temperature and start the defroster using your voice.

If you’re a Volkswagen driver, you now have another way to lock and unlock your car, start and stop electric charging and check your remaining estimated mileage. That’s because VW has added Siri integration to its Car-Net app.

You can also use Siri to turn on alarms, start the defroster, set the temperature and remind yourself where you parked. You might opt to set up routines using the voice assistant’s Shortcuts, a feature that arrived with iOS 12. So you could, say, ask Siri to warm up the car, defrost the windshield and top up the battery charge with a single command before you step out into a chilly morning.

VW does charge a monthly subscription fee for Car-Net, however, so you won’t get those Siri commands for free. Still, this update deepens VW’s ties with voice assistants — it has already added Amazon Alexa to its cars.


Story 5

Apple confirms its T2 chip will block some third-party repairs

the next web reporting ~ Apple has confirmed that its new security chip T2 – which it uses, among others, in MacBooks launched this year – will prevent third-party repairs to some degree.

Responding to a query from The Verge, the company verified that parts like the logic board and Touch ID components for the new Macbooks can’t be replaced by a third-party repair shop – and so you’ll have to visit an authorised Apple service centre to get your laptops fixed. However, it didn’t confirm if this extends to last year’s iMac Pro – the T2 chip’s first host.

The new chip’s job is to make the boot process and Touch ID more secure. So it makes sense that Apple is preventing unauthorised shops from replacing critical parts. However, it’s unclear if the T2 chip also restricts replacements for more common parts like the display, speaker, and keyboard.


Story 6

50 countries vow to fight cybercrime – US and Russia and China don’t

from ~ Fifty nations and over 150 tech companies pledged Monday to do more to fight criminal activity on the internet, including interference in elections and hate speech. But the United States, Russia and China are not among them.

The group of governments and companies pledged in a document entitled the “Paris call for trust and security in cyberspace” to work together to prevent malicious activities like online censorship and the theft of trade secrets.

The push is supported by EU countries, Japan and Canada as well as tech giants Facebook, Google and Microsoft, among others.

It will happen in the early part of next year, and the goal is to “elaborate precise, concrete joint proposals about the fight against hate speech and offensive content,” Macron said.

MS ~ could not get a list of countries or companies.  Did Apple or Australia sign up?


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Story 7

Optus announces 43 new mobile towers for South Australia

further to ZDNet’s story last week ~ Optus will be lighting up 43 new mobile sites across South Australia by March 2019 under a AU$23.6 million investment, the telco has announced.

The sites listed by Optus include Adelaide Airport, Adelaide Oval, Elizabeth Station, CBD West, Mt Gambier CBD, Mt Gambier North East, Tanunda CBD North, Nepean Bay West, Everard Park, Two Wells Central, Woodchester, Nuriootpa Township, Ashville, Oaklands Park, Avoca Dell, and Georgetown.

It will also build new towers at Aldinga Foreshore, Gawler Central, Port Parham, Yongala, Bute, Kadina Township, Scott Creek, Birkenhead, Kudla, Stirling North, Cadell, Kongwirra, Cavan North, Marble Hill, Snowtown, Cooke Plains, Seppeltsfield, Cockatoo Valley, and Tintinara East.

Under the federal government’s mobile blackspots program, Optus will additionally be building out mobile sites across Farm Beach, Wolseley, Puntabie, Wynarka, Yahl, Sevenhill, and Mindarie in South Australia.

“We want customers to have a choice when selecting their network carrier, which is why we have invested in over 70 new sites across South Australia in the last 12 months, with more than 40 set to come online over the next four months,” Optus CEO Allen Lew said.

Thanks to Timothy for working on our new intro / outro music

His music is available on iTunes, Beatport, Spotify, Amazon, Juno, Soundcloud & Apple Music

Story 8

9TO5Mac gives us a great story

Apple celebrates VoiceOver success with story of blind veteran surfer

Apple recently said that its accessibility feature VoiceOver is helping more blind people to read than any competing system.

More people in the blind community now use VoiceOver than any other mobile screen-reading software combined.

As an illustration of the power of the technology to assisted blind and partially sighted customers, Apple tells the story of Scott Leason, a blind veteran who regularly surfs off San Diego’s Mission Beach …

Scott Leason is an early riser. By 5:30 a.m., he’s checked his email, social media, the news and the weather. He’s reviewed the day’s surf reports via the Surfline app on his new iPhone XR, prepping for the day’s ride. Before the sun rises on this particular Friday, he’s geared up and ready to go for his session at Mission Bay Aquatics Centre in San Diego where he’ll surf Mission Beach.

And he experiences it all without seeing it. Leason is blind.

Apple says that Leason was blinded when shot by a robber, but was helped by training from the US Department of Veterans Affairs’ Blind Rehabilitation Centre – and Apple tech.

Accessible mobile computer technology was still nascent [in 2009], but Apple’s iOS was quickly becoming a user favourite. In 2012, Leason received his first iPhone — the iPhone 5 — and training from the Blind Rehabilitation at a Veteran Affairs Medical Centre in Long Beach. “It’s a lot easier to navigate with the phone,” Leason says. “I think a lot of the visually impaired prefer the iPhone because they can do everything on it. And VoiceOver works pretty darn good.”

One of Leason’s surfing instructors says that he was amazed by what the vet could do with his iPhone.

“The first time he got an iPhone and learned how to use VoiceOver, I asked him to show it to me because you just see him tapping the screen and to me it made no sense what he was doing cause it’s just like this flurry of tapping and these words coming out of the phone really really fast,” Paul Lang says. “And when he showed me all the stuff he could do with it, it just blew my mind that he had learned how to interact with it to get all of that out of it. … He’s no different than anybody else. He’s just sitting in the corner over there getting caught up on his phone or listening to music, reading, and sending text messages.”

Leason himself says he can sum up the impact of the iPhone on his life in one word.

“I’m independent,” he says. “That’s the best way to describe the iPhone: independence.”

You can read the full story here.

The American Foundation for the Blind honored Apple for VoiceOver back in 2015, with Apple showcasing apps that take advantage of the feature. Facebook is one such, the app using AI and VoiceOver to describe the contents of photos to blind users, and Leason is not alone in describing Apple’s accessibility tech as life-changing.

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