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    Coming April 30: On this week’s all-star episode, Kyle Wiens of iFixit joins us to give the results of teardowns of some of the very latest tech gear. During this segment, he’ll discuss Apple’s 2016 MacBook, and whether, aside from minor hardware upgrades, it differs much from last year’s model. He’ll also present the results of the teardown of the iPhone SE, the latest smartphones from Samsung and LG, and some virtual reality headsets. He’ll also remind you about the poor repair rating of the Microsoft Surface tablets.

    You’ll also hear from Stephen Baker, Vice President for Industry Analysis at the NPD Group.. He discusses why he feels Mac sales dropped so much in the March quarter; he suggests some of Apple’s notebooks are long in the tooth and need major refreshes. He’ll also talk about the impact of the iPhone SE, and whether there’s a big market for smaller smartphones. The discussion will also focus on 4K TV, and where the new format is going. What price points are most popular, and what about getting more genuine 4K content to watch? Stephen also talks about the contribution of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay to the infotainment systems of a growing number of motor vehicles.

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    The Apple Car — Again

    April 19th, 2016

    Ever since rumors first arose about an Apple Car, speculation has been fairly consistent. Apple has established a Project Titan, and has leased property in Sunnyvale, CA, near its Cupertino headquarters, at which to develop and test possible prototype vehicles. Recently, a project lead left the company, and there were rumors that Apple’s head designer, Sir Jonathan Ive, wasn’t happy with the results.

    Of course, none of this has been confirmed, other than, apparently, the fact that there is a facility of sufficient size to develop a car that may or may not belong to Apple. But Apple won’t say anything beyond, perhaps, interest in the car business. You shouldn’t expect anything official unless or until Apple is actually planning on selling such a beast.

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    Newsletter Issue #855: The 9.7-inch iPad Pro: Touching the Bases

    April 18th, 2016

    I went back and forth about whether to request the smaller iPad Pro from Apple for review. I did evaluate it’s bigger brother last year, and went away somewhat unimpressed. Sure, the Apple Pencil is the best stylus I’ve ever used, but I’m not a graphic artist or illustrator, and I certainly don’t play one in the movies. I use keyboards, and the Smart Keyboard Apple provided didn’t rate so well. The stiff spacebar was particularly irksome.

    Not that I’m against iPads, per se. I can see their value as consumption devices and perhaps a limited purpose notebook computer. With a proper keyboard that provides a feel similar to a that of a notebook, I might actually embrace one for writing, at least for some of my work.

    With that in mind, I was still curious how the 9.7-inch iPod Pro would rate compared to an iPad Air 2, and whether it was truly worth a $100 price increase over the former’s original price. All right, the standard storage is increased from 16GB to 32GB, but that doesn’t $100 make. Maybe $5, but I realize Apple is pumping plenty of resources to make the iPad something more than just a gadget to play some games and watch Netflix.

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    The Next iPhone: What Can Apple Do Next?

    April 15th, 2016

    The conventional wisdom has it that Apple will continue to follow a tick-tock refresh scheme with the iPhone. What this means is that, one year, there will be a fairly significant case redesign, plus the usual run of internal hardware enhancements. The following year, it’s essentially the same case with revised innards. But even if the internal expansion of the odd-year model is more significant than the one featuring external changes, the former is assumed to be a minor update.

    So the iPhone 4s, considered a trivial update, had antenna changes that reduced the so-called “AntennaGate” effect of holding the handset in a certain way, and Siri was introduced. Both were significant, except, of course, to the critics.

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    Why Not FBI Versus Android?

    April 14th, 2016

    When it comes to reports about the government having problems recovering data from a smartphone as part of a criminal investigation, it was all about the iPhone. You know the story: The Department of Justice was granted a court order demanding that Apple build software to bypass brute force protections on an encrypted iPhone 5c used by a terrorist in the San Bernardino attacks.

    The day before a court hearing intended to deal with Apple’s protests, claiming they were being ordered to build an insecure operating system they referred to as “govOS,” the DOJ called it off. They asserted that they had been approached with a third-party solution. The following week, that solution supposedly succeeded, with the iPhone being unlocked within 26 minutes.

    While there was early speculation that an Israeli mobile forensics company, Cellebrite, was given the task, it turns out that this was not so. The FBI was approached by a team of hackers that used a zero-day exploit that apparently only worked on an iPhone 5c.

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