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Inside Apple (Jan 15th, 2020)

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This year’s iPad Pro update is looking like an absolute monster (see $3). I’m still perfectly happy with my 2018 model — it’s iPadOS I have a problem with — and I wasn’t planning on upgrading for a while. The first rumor, about 3D sensors, wasn’t enough to push me over. Then rumors about a mini LED display started, and I began to waver. That plus 5G might put me over the edge. Are you excited about a next-generation iPad Pro?

— Jon

1. President Trump has decided to get involved in pressuring Apple to create a backdoor for its device encryption. The tweet came yesterday evening after Apple disputed Attorney General William Barr’s assertion that the company isn’t helping with the case. Just as it did with San Bernardino in 2016, the government, it appears, is using the Pensacola incident to make its case, despite the fact it is capable of cracking the phone using third-party security tools. Cellebrite, the company whose tools law enforcement agencies use in cases like this, updated its software right in the midst of this standoff. In my opinion, the government clearly just wants to take this opportunity to weaken the security of Apple’s newer devices before it removes all the ports, which could make iPhones impervious to hardware device cracking tools even in theory. — @REALDONALDTRUMP

2. Google Chrome is turning a corner on protecting user privacy, but it will take two years to implement its biggest changes. Most significantly, Chrome will (eventually) phase out third-party cookies — cookies added to your browser via sites you visit, but from a third party’s domain — which is one of the most pervasive ways companies track people around the web (Safari has long offered this protection). Chrome will also stop updating its user-agent string that reports to sites very precisely what version of the browser a user is on, which can be a way of tracking that user, especially when combined with other information. — CNET

3. Supply chain sources suggest that Apple is developing 5G mmWave radios for the iPad Pro. The iPad Pro is also expected to gain 3D sensors that give it a key role in Apple’s augmented reality strategy, so it makes sense that it would get next-generation radios, too. The question is, when is this iPad coming? The rumors about the 3D sensors indicated the “first half of the year,” which would be before the 5G iPhones, but that actually wouldn’t be unprecedented; the iPad got LTE in March 2012 before the iPhone 5 in September. But other rumors about new mini LED displays for the iPad Pro target Q3 2020, suggesting that all the 5G devices could come out around the same time. — MACRUMORS

4. The new location sharing warnings in iOS 13 are devastating the sketchier parts of the mobile ad market. Here’s everything you need to know to assess whether location-based advertising is a sketchy business: Apple did not block any existing location sharing capabilities. All it did was start regularly throwing up warnings to users about apps they have given permission to constantly track their location, so they have to keep regularly opting in. Obviously, people immediately started opting out. This kind of ad tracking was only possible because people were unaware they were being tracked. Good riddance. — DIGIDAY

5. The Disney+ app has been downloaded a flabbergasting 41 million times in its first two months, according to data from SensorTower, generating nearly $100 million. That’s four times as much money and 23 times as many downloads as HBO Now got in two months. And this is just data from app stores; it doesn’t include set-top devices like Roku, Amazon Fire TV, or gaming consoles. — BLOOMBERG

6. The rack-mount version of the 2019 Mac Pro is now available for sale. This version is for server rooms or big production studios, so in other words it’s for even fewer customers than the standard Mac Pro, but those who need it really need it. Despite its more slender, rack-mountable case, it’s still a perfect aesthetic match for the standalone Mac Pro hardware with those crazy air intake holes all over it. — @RENERITCHIE

7. Friend-of-the-newsletter Nick Heer was wondering how Apple might install a custom-built back-doored version of iOS on a locked device, as law enforcement is asking it to do (see #1). The issue is that law enforcement doesn’t have the device’s passcode, and OS updates typically require the passcode. Nick happened to have the ideal testing conditions to see if it’s possible to install an OS update via recovery mode without a password, and it turns out it is. The device still prompts for a passcode after the update is finished, though, so this doesn’t definitely work, but it’s conceivable that — if compelled by law — Apple could build a special version of the OS for a single device that’s still passcode-locked. Scary. — PIXEL ENVY

8. MacStories has done a well-deserved deep dive into Grindstone for Apple Arcade. Grindstone is the best example yet of how Apple Arcade has fixed mobile gaming. It has all of the qualities that are wonderful about casual mobile games with none of the garbage or addictive money-sucking qualities that dominated on the open App Store. — MACSTORIES

9. Yesterday was the long-awaited day Microsoft ended support for Windows 7, and it’s a pivotal moment for IT departments. Most of them will upgrade to Windows 10 and be done with it, but analysts at IDC expect 13 percent of them to take the opportunity to switch to Macs. That would represent tens of millions of device sales. — 9TO5MAC

10. If you need to travel with your iMac, please don’t raggedly saw off the stand and fill it with metal shavings. You can just remove the stand, for God’s sake. — @KIRILLZ

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.

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