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Apple Podcasts Subscriptions and Channels launch in 170 countries and regions
by Paul Hill
Apple has announced Subscriptions and Channels are coming to Apple Podcasts today for users around the world. With subscriptions, content creators can more easily monetise their content and listeners can unlock additional benefits and support their favourite creators.
With subscriptions, content creators can make money from their shows and offer listeners premium benefits including early access to shows and ad-free listening. With channels, listeners can become exposed to new podcasts. Those who have subscribed to at least two channels will be able to see their subscriptions in the My Channels row on the Listen Now tab.
Commenting on Subscriptions and Channels, Oliver Schusser, Apple’s vice president of Apple Music and Beats, said:
The new features will be available to users running Apple Podcasts in 170 countries and regions on devices running iOS 14.6, iPadOS 14.6, and macOS 11.4 or later. Those that want to use these features for their podcast can head to the Apple Podcasts for Creators website to learn more.
By Usama Jawad96
Here are some iOS 15 features not coming to older iPhones
by Usama Jawad
Earlier this month, Apple announced iOS 15 with notification improvements, new FaceTime features, and more. It also revealed a list of devices that are eligible to receive the update, dating back to the iPhone 6s released in 2015. However, as with macOS Monterey offering exclusive features for M1 Macs, the Cupertino tech giant has announced that some iOS 15 features will also be available only on newer iPhones.
The report comes via 9to5Mac, which says that a handful of iOS 15 features require Apple's A12 Bionic chip or newer, which narrows the list down to iPhone XR, XS, iPhone 11 series, iPhone SE (2020), and iPhone 12 series.
The list of unsupported features on older iPhones is quite similar in some aspects to the situation for Intel Macs. Spatial Audio and background blurring in Portrait Mode on FaceTime, interactive 3D globes and AR-based walking directions on Apple Maps, Live Text and visual lookup in photos, and animated backgrounds in the Weather app are all not supported. The list further extends to the lack of on-device speech processing and Wallet keys on devices older than the iPhone XR.
The situation gets even more complicated and fragmented for newer devices. For example, improvements to Panorama mode, enhanced 5G connectivity, and prioritization of 5G over Wi-Fi will only be available for the iPhone 12. Similarly, Spatial Audio with dynamic head tracking requires an iPhone 7 whereas Walking Steadiness requires an iPhone 8 at the minimum.
Overall, it is important to understand that although iOS 15 is being rolled out to older devices dating back to 2015, users of some devices will be missing out on a lot of features offered by the operating system. Apple clearly wants users to upgrade to its newer offerings, which is evident from the lack of support for some headlining iOS 15 and macOS Monterey features for iPhones and Macs respectively.
Beats launches $150 wireless Studio Buds with Active Noise Cancellation
by Chandrakant Isi
Beats, which is now a subsidiary of Apple, has unveiled the Beats Studio Buds. These earbuds come in black, white, and signature red hues. The Beats Studio Buds are rated IPX4 for water and sweat resistance. These buds ship with three silicone ear tips to ensure a comfortable fit. Each bud has a tiny vent to prevent the build-up of pressure in your eardrums.
The Studio Buds feature an 8.2 mm driver paired with a two-chamber acoustic design. It comes with Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) to block unwanted noise. For situations where you need to be aware of your surroundings, these earbuds offer a Transparency mode. It uses the outward-facing microphone to capture and mix the environment sound into your music. The Studio Buds are compatible with Spatial Audio offered by Apple Music.
To ensure clarity over calls, these buds rely on dual-beam-forming microphones. Beats claims Studio Buds offer quick one-touch pairing with both Apple and Android devices. Instead of touch controls, each bud is equipped with a tactile button that enables you to play music, answer calls, skip tracks, and toggle ANC.
When paired with an iPhone, these earbuds play nice with Siri. While Beats hasn't revealed the battery specifications, the Studio Buds are said to offer eight hours of music playback on a single charge. The carry case holds enough charge to fully top up the buds twice. Expect these numbers to go down with ANC turned on.
The Beats Studio Buds are priced at $150 in the US and Canada. These are available to order from Apple.com with shipping slated to commence on June 24.
Is there something odd with the iPad Pro's Mini-LED screen or are you watching it wrong?
by Chandrakant Isi
It has been over a decade since the first iPad was introduced. Over the years, Apple consistently bumped up its specs with each iteration. What didn't change much, however, was the underlying display technology. Since 2010, Apple has relied on LCD screens with LED backlight for its iPad lineup. So when rumors of the Cupertino-based company embracing the mini-LED tech surfaced in 2019, fans were psyched. Websites dedicated to Apple news were quick to draw comparisons between mini-LED and OLED. Some even went as far as calling it the dream screen, and a best reason why you should buy the latest iPad Pro.
However, as the device shipped, users began complaining about a weird blooming effect on the display. Many consumers canceled their orders and even the ardent supporters described it as a "mixed verdict on mini-LED". What exactly went wrong with Apple's mini-LED display that was supposed to compete with the OLED tech?
Key differences between LCD and OLED
To understand the issue, we first need a primer on display technologies. In terms of home electronics, we experience two types of display technologies — emissive and transmissive.
OLED along with the good old CRT and Plasma tech are emissive displays where each pixel is self-illuminated and can generate colors. Since the other two technologies have been phased out, we will focus on OLED to get the point across. These panels can selectively turn off pixels to render inky blacks on the screen. Since they do away with the need for backlighting, OLED screens don't suffer from patchy brightness and light bleeding.
On the other hand, LCDs rely on backlight filtered through a layer of liquid crystal molecules, color filters, and polarizers to form an image. This particular process of rendering an image is lossy and comes with undesired side-effects such as uneven brightness, narrow viewing angles, and backlight bleeding. The biggest issue, however, is the inability to render proper blacks.
For instance, if you're watching Gravity (2013), the vastness of dark space will be rendered faithfully on an OLED screen. However, on an LCD screen, the panel's layer of liquid crystals won't be able to block backlight 100 percent. As a result, space will look more like a dark shade of grey instead of jet black.
Improving LCD's picture quality with better backlighting
To get around this shortcoming, manufacturers squeeze in more LEDs in their displays to get more granular control over backlighting. On expensive LCD panels, you get Full-Array Local Dimming (FALD) as opposed to the widely used Edge LED arrangement. As shown in the image below, a FALD display can pack in several hundred to thousand LEDs compared to a few dozen in a conventional LCD panel. More importantly, FALD panels can selectively dim or brighten up LED zones as per requirement.
How blooming comes into the picture
While this backlight technology improves an LCD's ability to produce blacks, it introduces a new issue known as blooming. This happens when the light meant for bright objects on the screen spills over the dimmed zones. Honestly, you can't expect otherwise when your Full HD FALD screen has a whopping 2,073,600 pixels (1,920 x 1,080), but only a few hundred dimming zones.
Mini-LED panel type takes it to the next level by packing in smaller LEDs in large numbers. Made possible by some impressive miniaturization engineering, this technology was first popularized by TCL on its TV line-up. For the latest iPad Pro, these mini-LED modules are manufactured by the Taiwanese company Ennostar. According to Apple's Director of HW Technologies, Heidi Delgado, the latest iPad Pro display has over 10,000 LED backlights and around 2,596 dimming zones. These mini LEDs are said to be over a hundred times smaller than the conventional ones. Since Apple hasn't shed much light on the underlying tech, here's a comparison image from TCL to put things in perspective.
At its core, the mini-LED panel is still an LCD with more refined backlighting. It is like a FALD LCD on steroids, which vastly improves the panel's contrast ratio. As highlighted in most reviews, the latest iPad Pro is undoubtedly very good at rendering deep blacks. However, along with amplifying FALD's best characteristics, mini LED also boosts its problems.
The iPad Pro (2021) has a screen resolution of 2732 x 2048, which translates to 55,95,136 pixels. While delivering 2,596 dimming zones is certainly an improvement, it is still not adequate for 5.6 million pixels. The display's 1,000 nits brightness, which is generally a good thing, also enhances the blooming artifacts. This issue didn't plague the previous-generation iPad Pro, because it had a paltry 72 LEDs. Sure, the low density of LEDs led to poor rendition of blacks but it also defused the backlight intensity over a larger area. Thus, avoiding the blooming artifact.
Can Apple fix this issue?
On the new iPad Pro, the blooming issue isn't noticeable while browsing the web, writing an email, or shopping on Amazon. It becomes jarring only when there are white objects or UI elements against a dark background. However, that's still frustrating for anyone who has spend over $1,000 for this product. It is strange that Apple failed to detect this issue during internal testing.
Even if Apple eats the humble pie, don't hold your breath for the company to patch things up over a software update. The only thing it can do now is to cap the brightness to make the blooming slightly less jarring. If the firm wants to ensure this issue doesn't crop up in future iPads, it will have to make a switch to OLED screens. With the price of current generation iPad Pro 12.9" starting at $1,100, we don't see why Apple shouldn't consider that.
By Abhay V
Apple adds Windows Precision Touchpad gestures' support to BootCamp on macOS
by Abhay Venkatesh
In what will be a welcome addition for Mac users that leverage BootCamp to run Windows 10 on macOS, Apple is finally adding support for Microsoft Precision Touchpad drivers to the software. This brings a native solution to use Windows-specific gestures on not just on MacBook trackpads, but also on external offerings such as the Magic Trackpad, negating the need to install third-party drivers and software.
The update to BootCamp bumping the version up to 6.1.15 was spotted by Reddit user ar25nan (via PiunikaWeb). The release notes suggest that “some settings” will use Precision Touchpad defaults, so it is not clear if those who prefer third-party solutions will be affected by the update. The change enables support for three- and four-finger swipe gestures, the ability to right click by tapping the lower right corner, and more.
However, the addition of support for Precision Touchpad gestures is limited to devices with Apple’s T2 security chip, according to the support article posted by the firm. The article also provides a way for users to check if their devices support the drivers. This means that devices introduced since 2018 with the chip will be eligible for the update. Those interested can check out the complete list of supported devices here.
While Precision drives have been around since 2013, there hasn’t been a native solution on the Mac to leverage the benefits of the drivers when using Windows on BootCamp. While third parties such as Trackpad++ have provided viable alternatives, it is good to finally have Apple support the drivers natively, especially for Intel Macs running BootCamp – considering that the firm is slowly transitioning to Apple Silicon powered Macs.