Inside Apple’s factories [Cook book outtakes]

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Apple factory workers in China
Workers examine a camera module in one of Apple's factories in China.
Photo: Apple

Tim Cook book outtakes: How Apple's Operations department works This post was going to be part of my new book, Tim Cook: The Genius Who Took Apple to the Next Level, but was cut for length or continuity. Over the next week or so, we will be publishing several more sections that were cut, focusing mostly on geeky details of Apple’s manufacturing operations.

A good measure of the size of Apple’s manufacturing operations is its capital expenditure, the amount of money spends on things like buildings and equipment.

Apple’s capital expenditure, or CapEx, is mindboggling. To get an idea of how big it is, take Apple’s new spaceship campus in Cupertino – which is the fourth most expensive building in the world. It cost the company an estimated $5 billion to construct.

Apple spends a similar amount every six months on manufacturing equipment.

Living with a MacBook keyboard is like managing a chronic condition [Opinion]

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Taking it out on your problematic MacBook butterfly keyboard will only make things worse.
Taking it out on your keyboard will only make things worse.
Photo illustration: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

At this point, we all know the MacBook’s butterfly keyboard can prove problematic. Apple recently admitted the problem is real — and even issued a rare apology.

Anecdotally, pretty much every MacBook owner I know has experienced keys sticking or repeating at one time or another. But occasionally I meet someone who seems blessed with a faultless MacBook keyboard. And Apple claims the problem only affects a small number of MacBook users.

So what is going on? I have a theory — and a tip that might keep your MacBook’s keyboard from crapping out if it hasn’t already.

All the services Apple unveiled at its ‘show time’ event

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Apple services
Today's keynote didn't feature any new hardware.
Photo: Apple

Apple’s services business is about to kick things into overdrive in 2019. During the company’s “It’s show time” event at Apple Park this morning the company unveil a slew of new services that cover everything from news to credit cards.

There was something for everyone to get excited about at today’s event that packed more celebrity power than any Apple event ever. Tim Cook finally gave us a look at the original TV shows Apple has been brewing up for years, but there are still a lot of questions surrounding Apple’s new services.

Everyone from Netflix to big banks were put on notice today with Apple’s new services lineup. Only one of the new services are launching today, but there’s still a lot to look forward too.

Why this week’s Apple PR blitz is brilliant [Opinion]

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Updated iMacs, AirPods, and iPads have all debuted this week. What’s next?
Updated iMacs, AirPods, and iPads have all debuted this week. What’s next?
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Apple isn’t following its usual strategy for product launches. Rather than holding a press event during which a collection of devices gets shown off, it spread the news out across multiple days this week.

This bold new approach brought plenty of attention to products that might otherwise have gotten lost in the furor around bigger announcements. And it’s also creating excitement about what’s coming next.

What to expect from Apple’s ‘show time’ event on March 25

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Apple Show time event
Apple is expected to launch a number of new services this spring.
Photo: Apple

The first Apple event of 2019 is nearly here. Tim Cook and friends are set to take the stage at the Steve Jobs Theater on March 25 to unveil the company’s newest goodies, only instead of unveiling some shiny new gadgets you can buy, Apple is supposedly going to bust out some services you can subscribe to.

The Apple rumor mill has been working in overdrive leading up the event, so we have a pretty solid idea of what we’ll see.

If you hate Apple keynote spoilers, stop reading now.

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iPhone survey
I wanted a Galaxy S10, but I'm stuck with iPhone.
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

How to win Apple Watch Activity Competitions every time

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Let the battle commence with Apple Watch Activity Competitions.
Let the battle commence with Apple Watch Activity Competitions .
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

Apple Watch Activity Competitions are a perfect way to fall out with friends and colleagues. Simply send a challenge via the Activity app on your watch and, if they accept, a seven-day grudge match commences.

With Activity Competitions, a new feature in watchOS 5, it’s not the taking part that counts. It’s the winning. The winner receives a shiny virtual medal to add to their awards, while the loser gets zip.

Fortunately, when you know how Activity Competitions work, you can maximize your chance of winning every time. Here’s how.

How gesture controls could replace 3D Touch and bring multi-touch to the Mac [Opinion]

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Hovering your finger over an icon could bring up more options
Hovering your finger over an icon could bring up more options
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

Next week at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, LG looks set to unveil a revolutionary new smartphone with gesture controls. In a brief teaser video, the South Korean tech giant boldly promises the end of multi-touch — the way we’ve all been interacting with smartphones ever since the iPhone launched in 2007.

A gesture sensor could pick up hand movements in front of the device, rather than requiring physical interaction with the screen itself. So, for example, you could point at a button from a distance, rather than actually needing to tap the glass screen to select it.

In reality, I doubt that gestures will replace multi-touch anytime soon. However, I do think Apple could make intelligent use of this new tech. It could replace 3D Touch (which Apple looks set to scrap), and it could serve as a clever way to finally bring multi-touch to the Mac.

iPhone photographer turns lengthy commutes into works of art

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Dina Alfasi
Israeli photographer Dina Alfasi finds beauty in her work commute.
Photo: Dina Alfasi

Dina Alfasi is like most commuters. As soon as she finds a seat on the train or bus, she pulls out her iPhone.

Alfasi may look like she is catching up with emails, streaming music or reading the news. Instead, Alfasi is making a discreet photograph of the person across from her.

I work on my iPad every day, and here’s what drives me nuts [Opinion]

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The new 2018 iPad Pro is a lust object you probably don’t need.
The iPad Pro is amazing, but it can drive you crazy.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

A few of us here at Cult of Mac work on iPads pretty much exclusively. Apple’s tablet proves more than capable of “real” work, but that doesn’t mean it’s perfect. Far from it, in fact. The iPad Pro 2018 is a fantastic machine that invites you to use it for everything. But that only makes the frustration worse.

Today I’d like to talk about what really drives me nuts about the iPad.