Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR on sale now | Inside Apple - December, 11th 2019

Inside Apple (Dec 11th, 2019)

Mac Pro first impressions / Every OS updated yesterday / ‘AirDoS’ attack vulnerability patched


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$AAPL (10:16 AM EST December 11): $270.66 (+0.81%) // More info

With yesterday’s updates, my OSes finally feel baked now. I still have one really annoying bug where the Reminders complication on my watch says I have “10 overdue” whenever I have one overdue task, but I’m not getting any awful UI bugs or crashes anymore. How are things on your end? Are we out of the woods?

— Jon

1. The Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR are now on sale. The usual suspects published unboxings and first impressions, and they seem overjoyed with both products, at least once they get over the price. The maxed-out configuration of the Mac Pro exceeds $50,000, and that’s without the display, but of course, that’s nearly 10 times the price of the base model. The Mac Pro comes with swanky black and silver Magic Keyboard and Mouse peripherals, which, sadly, are not sold separately. — THE VERGE

2. U.S. senators grilled Apple and Facebook execs yesterday about the possibility of building backdoors to encrypted messaging that can only be accessed by “the good guys.” Both companies took a hard line that it’s impossible and that any weakness in encryption can be exploited by bad actors. Regardless of its impossibility, Senator Lindsey Graham insisted, “You’re going to find a way to do this, or we’re going to do it for you.” — @JOSEPHFCOX

3. Every Apple platform got an OS update yesterday — iOS, iPadOS, tvOS, and HomePod 13.3, watchOS 6.1.1, and macOS 10.15.2 — bringing some small but welcome changes. iOS and iPadOS got Screen Time limits for kids communicating with specific contacts and a toggle to turn off Memoji Stickers. tvOS got a preference to restore Up Next to the home screen Top Shelf instead of the obnoxious What to Watch section. The Mac got iPhone remote control support for the media apps, and iOS and Mac got a better layout for Apple News stories. For me, though, the biggest news is that the Column Browser is back in Music for Mac! — MACSTORIES

4. A bug in iOS, patched in yesterday’s 13.3 update, allowed attackers to lock up iOS devices by automatically flooding them with AirDrop file transfer requests. The attack could be accomplished with an open-source tool. Kishan Bagaria, who discovered it, called it an “AirDoS” attack (derived from DDoS, or “distributed denial-of-service”). It was hard enough to turn off Bluetooth while such an attack was underway that the best way to escape was to get out of AirDrop range. — TECHCRUNCH

5. Ellen DeGeneres, Michelle Obama, and Apple gave out new Macs and iPads to students and teachers at Randle Highlands Elementary School in Washington D.C. yesterday. It was part of “Ellen’s Greatest Night of Giveaways” program on NBC. The school is in a distressed neighborhood; 65 percent of the student body is either in foster care or experiencing homelessness. The plan was to donate $100,000 for institutional expenses, but Obama used the Steve Jobs “one more thing" line at the end to surprise the school with new computers. — APPLEINSIDER

6. Apple CEO Tim Cook gave an extensive interview to the Nikkei Asian Review while in Japan this week. Cook explained Apple’s decision-making approach to multinational manufacturing in response to criticism of its reliance on China. He also responded to questions about growing antitrust suspicions aimed at Big Tech, rejecting Apple’s inclusion in a category with companies like Facebook and Google. He added, “A monopoly by itself isn’t bad if it’s not abused. The question for those companies is, do they abuse it? And that is for regulators to decide, not for me to decide.” — NIKKEI ASIAN REVIEW

7. Bloomberg has written an in-depth history of the development of voice recognition tech and the privacy concerns that go along with it. The story covers the more straightforward data-harvesting approaches at Amazon and Google, but it also provides the most detail yet on how Apple managed to get into trouble for crossing privacy lines with Siri data collection despite its stated values on privacy. — BLOOMBERG

8. Assets found in yesterday’s iOS 13.3 release suggest an imminent update to the lower-end Powerbeats wireless earphones with “Hey Siri” and “Announce Messages with Siri” support. The Powerbeats Pro true-wireless earbuds have these features, but the Powerbeats are the $199 Bluetooth headphones with the connecting wire, and they don’t have Apple’s H1 chip yet, which is also what allows for the more seamless pairing with multiple devices found with AirPods. — 9TO5MAC

9. Apple Card is an “elite” card like other high-rewards credit cards that costs retailers more to process, and those retailers are getting grumpy. In order to take Mastercard or Visa cards at all, retailers have to take “elite” cards and accept their higher transaction fees. Negotiations with the networks aren’t going anywhere, so retailers are starting to refuse credit cards from those networks in some stores as a form of protest. — BLOOMBERG

10. Tim Cook’s Asia trip has moved on to Singapore, where he was spotted having a local-style breakfast this morning. Cook’s favorite dish was gao teng kueh, a layered cake made with tapioca flour, rice flour, and coconut milk. — CNBC

Jon Mitchell has been a tech journalist since 2010. He covered Apple, Google, and the societal effects of social media for the storied blog ReadWriteWeb (now ReadWrite). He co-hosts Internet Friends, a podcast about life online with occasional lengthy digressions into Apple news. He’s the author of In Real Life: Searching for Connection in High-Tech Times from Parallax Press. He has recently, reticently returned to Twitter at @ablaze.

This newsletter was edited by Bobby Cherry, a Pittsburgh-based freelance journalist and senior editor at Inside, who also curates Inside Pittsburgh. Reach him at bobby@inside.com.

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