Inside Apple - March 4th, 2020

Inside Apple (Mar 4th, 2020)

More Apple employee travel restrictions / Many mini-LED devices in the pipeline / The weirdest Apple Watch band

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I am completely ready for the micro-LED generation of Apple devices (see #2). While I’m not sure Ming-Chi Kuo fully knows what he’s looking at anymore, it would be pretty hard to mistake a 27-inch display for anything other than an iMac, and that’s the product I’m most excited about. I still love the iPad — and believe me, I want a micro-LED iPad Pro, too, if the freelancing gods show favor upon me — but my Mac usage has come roaring back lately, and in a very desktop way. I still don’t see a need for a portable Mac, given my iPad usage, but what I want to do is VNC back into an incredible Mac on my desk at home when necessary. Then, when I’m at home doing the Lord’s work, I want an entire wall of glorious pixels. Are there any devices you’d add or upgrade when they get a next-generation display technology?

— Jon

1. Apple has expanded its coronavirus employee travel restriction to Italy and South Korea. Until the restriction is lifted, employees can only travel to Italy, South Korea, and China for business-critical reasons approved by a vice president. Apple announced the policy in an email to workers, which also encouraged canceling business trips and in-person meetings in favor of video calls. Apple has also had to close one retail store in Italy on government orders. — BLOOMBERG

2. Your boy, supply chain analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, has predicted six Apple devices to get mini-LED displays by 2021, including an updated iMac Pro, both sizes of MacBook Pro, the 10.2-inch iPad, and the 7.9-inch iPad mini. The smaller MacBook Pro will move to a 14.1-inch screen size, getting the same treatment as the 15-inch (now 16-inch) got last year, which must also mean it’s getting the new Magic Keyboard. As thrilling as all these products would be, there are some weird things about this list. Why isn’t the 11-inch iPad Pro on it, when the larger iPad Pro and two lower-end models are? It must also be said that Kuo’s approach this cycle has been a bit scattershot, with certain products popping up and down on his radar at various times and launch windows moving back and forth. — MACRUMORS

3. Qorvo, a radio chip supplier for iPhones, has lowered its quarterly revenue guidance because “the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has impacted the smartphone supply chain and customer demand more than anticipated.” Skyworks, another iPhone chip supplier, says the virus has not significantly disrupted its operations, though it also cut its revenue forecast by about 5% because of “interruptions in the global supply chain,” so that sounds a little bit like spin. Apple CEO Tim Cook has told the press he believes things are getting back under control on the manufacturing side, but suppliers are still feeling ripple effects. — CNBC

4. Google has canceled the in-person part of its annual I/O developer conference, scheduled for mid-May, out of coronavirus caution. Ticket buyers will be refunded, and people who registered this year will automatically be able to buy 2021 passes. Google didn’t give specifics on what it’s going to do instead, but expect to hear about some online substitute soon. Google is the latest in a string of big tech industry conferences to be canceled, and though Apple often waits until April to announce dates for its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in June, the Apple community should start bracing for that to be online-only as well. — 9TO5GOOGLE

5. Mario Kart Tour for iOS will gain real-time multiplayer racing on March 8. The feature was beta tested by a closed group of players in December. There are three multiplayer modes, one between friends and other nearby players, one against players around the world, and one for paying subscribers only that has more race types. Unlike Nintendo’s first iOS Mario game, Super Mario Run, I find Mario Kart Tour to be quite fun and true to the spirit of the classic of the genre, Mario Kart 64. — 9TO5MAC

6. The first episode of the upcoming Apple TV+ reboot of “Amazing Stories” got a couple bad reviews in advance of its launch on Friday, March 6. CBR says it’s “a warmed-over version of a creaky Twilight Zone or Outer Limits premise” — frankly a pretty predictable thing for a review of this show to say — and that “it’s bland and forgettable, although far from terrible.” The Spool calls it “lackluster” and called its characters uninteresting. Not what Apple wants, surely, but this has happened to TV+ before, and the shows were way better than the critics said. — IMORE

7. While it really would be a bummer if Apple has to cancel WWDC — which seems inevitable — it has already done a pretty great job creating a virtual component to the event for the past few years. The keynote is streamed live to the public, and every single session is available online for developers, so the enormous number of people who want but can’t get passes are still able to participate. The in-person connections will be lost — and WWDC is the de facto in-person gathering of the hardcore Apple community each year, so that’s a big loss — but it will be interesting to see what Apple and the community come up with as an online substitute. — MACWORLD

8. Apple will no longer re-engrave iPod replacements when customers with personalized engravings send in their device for repair. Apple still re-engraves for AirPods, iPads, and second-generation Apple Pencils, but it can’t be cost-effective to keep doing it for such a low-volume (and low-priced) product. You can still get engravings on new iPods Touch, though. — APPLEINSIDER

9. The Knox County, Ill. Sheriff’s Department recovered 55 stolen iPhones — about $80,000 worth of merchandise — at a traffic stop last week. This is Apple news, rather than local crime blotter news, because the phones were purchased fraudulently from mobile carriers using identity theft. This is the carriers’ problem first and foremost, but Apple wants its phones going to honest, lucrative users, so this vulnerability hurts Apple as well. — GALESBURG REGISTER-MAIL

10. Robin Harris found a very strange product at CES: an Apple Watch case that extends the watch out from your wrist to the base of your thumb at a ridiculous angle, so it’s always visible outside your sleeves. Harris says it continued to read his heart rate okay — though it lost contact and locked “once or twice a day” (gee, that doesn’t sound annoying at all) — but he got a lot of weird looks. Yeah, I’d give you weird looks, too. Still, I’m glad I got to think about the existence of this product for a few seconds. — ZDNET

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.

Edited by Inside staff writer Elizabeth Barr.

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