watchOS 8 adds new Mindfulness app and Portrait watch face

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watchOS introduces a new Portrait mode watch face with depth effect
watchOS introduces a new Portrait mode watch face with depth effect
Photo: Apple

We got our first glimpse of the OS that will be gracing everyone’s wrists this fall when Apple showed off watchOS 8 during Monday’s WWDC keynote.

This update looks like more of an evolution than a revolution. Text editing gets a little easier.  And we’ll get various small enhancements for the apps we already know and love, like photo sharing and a redesigned Music app.

Apple’s twice-dead AirPower charging mat project is alive. Again.

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AirPower cancelled.
Alive? Dead? Maybe not even Tim Cook knows for sure.
Photo: Apple/Cult of Mac

What does Apple’s oft-discussed, never-shipped AirPower charging pad have in common with Baron Samedi, the voodoo priest from the 1973 James Bond movie Live and Let Die? Two things predominantly: 1) People think they’re folklore until they actually appear, and 2) They seemingly can’t die.

That’s right: After dodging death more times than Evel Knievel, a new Bloomberg report claims that AirPower is back on. Again. Or, at the very least, the project still has a heartbeat.

Next Mac mini refresh could bring slimmer design, faster ‘M1X’ chip

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M1X Mac mini concept
It could look a little like this.
Concept: Front Page Tech

Apple’s next Mac mini refresh could prove even more exciting than the last, thanks to a slimmer chassis design and a faster “M1X” chipset, according to a reliable leaker.

The machine is expected to be offered as a more powerful alternative to the existing M1 Mac mini, which is already faster than most Intel-powered Apple computers, but not a complete replacement.

AssistiveTouch lets users control Apple Watch by clenching a fist

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AssistiveTouch lets users control Apple Watch by clenching their fists.
AssistiveTouch lets users control Apple Watch by clenching their fists.
Photo: Apple

Apple plans to release software updates this year that will make its devices far easier to use for people with mobility, vision, hearing and cognitive disabilities.

The features include AssistiveTouch for Apple Watch, which offers astonishing new ways for people with limited mobility to control the smartwatch without tapping its screen. The new feature uses Apple Watch’s array of sensors to interpret the wearer’s movement into interactions.

Cupertino showcased AssistiveTouch for Apple Watch — which lets users maneuver a cursor on the wearable’s screen simply by clenching their fist and pinching their fingers together, among other things — in a remarkable video. (We embedded the video below — definitely watch it.)

But AssistiveTouch for Apple Watch is just the beginning of Apple’s latest big push into accessibility.

50% smaller Face ID sensor could shrink iPhone 13 notch

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This concept image shows how the iPhone 13 notch might shrink.
Are you fed up with the iPhone notch?
Artists concept: Cult of Mac

Apple could shrink this year’s iPhone “notch” thanks to a 40% to 50% smaller VCSEL chip in the Face ID sensor, Digitimes reported Friday. According to the report, the smaller die size could show up as soon as the “new iPhone and iPad devices to be rolled out later in 2021.”

Only a tiny proportion of iOS users let apps track them

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App Tracking Transparency will be part of iOS 14.5, iPadOS 14.5 and tvOS 14.5. It’s already showing up in betas.
App Tracking Transparency is here -- and users seem to be responding.
Graphic: Cult of Mac

Apple’s new App Tracking Transparency feature looks surprisingly popular with users — and potentially devastating to advertising. According to analysis by Flurry, just 4% of U.S. users allow apps to track them when given a choice.

The new privacy feature, rolled out in iOS 14.5 in late April, requires developers to ask for permission to use Apple’s Identifier for Advertisers tag to track users’ movements across websites and third-party apps. Flurry’s stats indicate a massive 96 out of 100 users in the United States denied that permission.

Apple shines in hugely successful quarter

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Apple earnings call 2Q 2021: Apple racks up another impressive quarter.
Apple racks up another impressive quarter.
Photo: Razvan Chisu/Unsplash CC

The first three months of 2021 brought a flood of revenue for Apple, up 54% from last year. And profits, too. The company had a successful quarter all around, with double-digit growth in iPhone, Mac, iPad, wearables and services revenue.

A shining star in the results was iPhone revenue, which increased by a whopping 65%. But other product categories increased by even higher percentages.

2021 iPad Pro boasts M1 processor, beautiful mini-LED display

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2021 iPad Pro still comes in a 12.9- and 11-inch versions.
2021 iPad Pro makes huge strides forward in its processor, screen, port, storage and RAM.
Photo: Apple

The 2021 iPad Pro is built around an Apple M1 processor that brings a tremendous speed boost.  And the USB-C has been upgraded with Thunderbolt, leading to faster connections to external drives. Plus, there’s a version with 5G.

But the latest top-tier iPadOS tablet more than fast — it looks great too. The 12.9-inch version includes a mini-LED display that both improves the look and uses less power.

Apple saves 861,000 tons of precious metals by ditching iPhone chargers

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iPhone 12 box
Miss power chargers from your iPhone box? The environment doesn't.
Photo: Marco Verch/Flickr CC

Apple has saved 861,000 metric tons of copper, tin, and zinc ore by removing power adapters from iPhones, starting last year. That’s one of the tidbits from Apple’s factoid-studded Environmental Progress Report, released Friday.

It showcases how Apple is working toward its efforts of achieving net carbon neutrality across its whole supply chain by 2030. As Apple notes, that includes “How [an Apple product is] designed, how it’s made, how it’s shipped, how it’s used, [and] how it’s recycled.”

Brilliant MacBook Pro concept packs in the features we want

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This 14-inch MacBook Pro concept is by Renders by Ian
A new 14-inch MacBook Pro concept is based on leaks about this upcoming macOS laptop.
Concept: Ian Zelbo/Renders by Ian

A 14-inch MacBook Pro reportedly will join Apple’s product lineup, and a concept artist merged all the rumors into a design that might hit store shelves later in 2021.

It includes more ports than any MacBook in years, but even important is what’s missing: the Touch Bar and most of the screen bezels.