Apple Breakfast: WWDC 2021 Preview

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Apple generates a lot of news, and it can be hard to keep up. If your mind was on other things this week, our roundup of Apple-related headlines will bring you up to date.

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Getting excited about WWDC

We love a good secret clue here at Macworld, which is why we’re so keen on games like The Room Two+ and Hidden Folks. And also why we get such a kick from examining Apple’s invitations and sifting out the hints about upcoming announcements.

This week Apple sent out the invites to WWDC 2021, which will have the tagline Glow And Behold. And eagle-eyes pundits promptly discovered clues – hidden in backwards unicode reflected in a Memoji’s glasses, no less – that a new MacBook Pro is on the way. This was subsequently ‘confirmed’ by the well-known leaker Jon Prosser.

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(More on the next MacBook Pro in the rumours section.)

We also think Apple will announce its widely anticipated Beats Studio Buds at the event. References to and images of the Buds have been spotted all over the place, but this week we saw the real thing in the real world – if Instagram counts as the real world. Our long and nightmarish wait for the AirPods 3 goes on, but these will do as a stopgap.

WWDC kicks off in just over a week, so it’s time to start getting ready. We explain how to watch WWDC and what time it will start wherever you are. And the team discusses the likelihood of hardware launches in the video at the top of this article.

News in brief

The testimony and argument phase of the Apple vs Epic Games court case is over, but the verdict could take months.

In the last Apple Breakfast we talked at some length about the embarrassing revelation that the HomePod didn’t currently support Lossless Audio in Apple Music. Happily for owners of Apple’s chunky noise cylinder, that will be amended in a software update.

(That story also includes the curious implication that the AirPods Max might also support Lossless, but only when plugged in – it all comes down to your interpretation of the word “completely” in a support document. Apple has since confirmed our interpretation, which is that plugged-in AirPods Max can get some of the benefits of Lossless, but not all of them.)

In the latest instalment of our often controversial Different Think column, Jonas Ekelund argues that Apple’s biggest complainers have missed the point.

Everyone’s been knocking Apple’s stewardship of the App Store, but Snap’s CEO says the company is “happy” to pay the 30% revenue cut. “We really feel like Snapchat wouldn’t exist without the iPhone and without the amazing platform that Apple has created,” Evan Spiegel said.

Apple tried to buy Time Warner in 2015, we learned this week. What a difference that would have been made to the library of films on Apple TV+.

Talking of which, after what felt like an endless wait for Apple to push out the second seasons of Mythic Quest and Trying, they finally arrived this week. You can read about these and other shows on Apple TV+ in our roundup of everything that’s on Apple TV.

If there’s one thing the repair site iFixit loves, it’s dismantling expensive devices. This week their engineers/professional vandals took apart the new Apple TV and gave it a mark of 8 out of 10 for ease of repair. But the Siri Remote, which is clearly a nightmare to open up, came in for strong criticism. Good luck replacing the battery in that.

Curious about why the M1 is so much better than Intel? We have an interesting explainer about why the M1 feels faster in everyday use.

It’s not only the Macs that have the M1 chip. The iPad Pro does too and it’s been impressing many. But it’s not all good news: the iPad Pro has been critisised for a problem with the screen technology. Find out what that means here: iPad Pro criticised for booming problems.

The developers of Halide – a third-party camera app for iPhone and iPad – have discovered that the 2021 iPad Pro can take macro shots. Find out how to take macros with your iPad Pro and iPhone.

The iPad 2 has been classified as obsolete worldwide, after more than a decade of faithful service. Pour one out for an elite tablet.

Bugs & problems

Safari (on iPhone, iPad and Mac) remains vulnerable to a WebKit bug weeks after security researchers pointed it out. Attackers could use the flaw to run arbitrary code via the browser.

iOS 14.6 is here, bringing new AirTag features and Podcast subscriptions, plus no fewer than 30 security fixes. Time to update.

macOS 11.4 is also available to install now – and you should, because it offers an important security fix. Apple lists 73 Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) that are addressed by the update, among them a vulnerability that has already been exploited by hackers. Anyone who uses Xcode on their Mac should install this update as a matter of urgency. Read about it here: macOS 11.4 patches flaws exploited by XCSSET malware.

While we’re discussing security, you may have missed a surprising admission made by Apple software chief Craig Federighi while testifying at the Apple vs Epic trial. “Today,” he said, “we have a level of malware on the Mac that we don’t find acceptable.” We discuss his concerns, and the level of malware on the Mac, in this article: Do Macs need antivirus software?

The rumour mill

As mentioned at the top of the show, a new MacBook Pro is on the way, very likely at WWDC, but it won’t get the M2 processor – instead it will rock an M1X. Just a question of branding, you might say, except that Apple’s branding decisions usually reflect the actual benefits you’ll get from upgrading. Oh, and it will probably lose the MacBook Pro logo on the front, which most of us won’t miss.

We could also see a new, more powerful, Mac mini soon – and when it arrives it could have a thinner, more colourful design.

The Apple Watch Series 7 (which probably won’t be here until the autumn, so don’t get too excited) is set for two major upgrades: blood sugar analysis, and the first major redesign in the product’s history. Okay, maybe get a bit excited.

Another reason to be excited: Apple is working on a new iPod touch! Wow, that takes us back. Remember 2019, before life went weird?

The iPhone 13’s A15 processor is now in production. Which suggests Apple is on track for a September launch, rather than pushing it back as it did last year. On which subject, we’re now hearing that all four models of iPhone 13 will get the advanced photography feature sensor-shift OIS, which is currently confined to the 12 Pro Max.

And that’s it for this week. See you next Saturday, and stay Appley!





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