With Apple’s New Austin Campus Underway, Is Apple Still Looking at North Carolina?

A year to the day after Apple announced plans to spend $1 billion on a new corporate campus in Austin, Texas, to initially support 5,000 employees with the potential to grow to 15,000, television station WRAL in Raleigh, North Carolina, has shared an update and a few new details related to North Carolina’s attempts to attract the new campus.

Rendering of Apple’s upcoming Austin campus

While it didn’t conduct a public competition like Amazon, Apple was open about its plans to construct a new corporate campus, announcing its intentions in January 2018. A number of cities emerged as top contenders to land Apple’s new campus, but by May 2018, sources were reporting that it was all but a “done deal” that the new campus would be located in North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park (RTP) near Raleigh and Durham, with a temporary location for up to 1,000 employees planned for an existing office building in nearby Cary.

Months went by without an official announcement from Apple, and with Apple ultimately revealing the campus would be built in Austin, many have wondered what went wrong in what appeared to be late-stage negotiations between Apple and North Carolina.

The December announcement seemed to surprise the governor and state legislative leaders, who hours later released a joint statement touting economic growth in North Carolina and pledging to “keep doing everything we can” to attract jobs. […]

Since then, there’s been little explanation about how or why the deal dissolved by year’s end.

But given the company’s notorious penchant for secrecy, [North Carolina Senate Majority Leader Harry] Brown said, media coverage of the potential plans for North Carolina didn’t help.

“Apple and companies like it are very sensitive to information getting out, and there’s a possibility that could have hurt the negotiations with Apple a year ago,” he said.

Even since the Austin announcement, there have been some curious developments in North Carolina that have hinted Apple may still have plans for the area. Most notably, in December 2018 just weeks after the Austin announcement, a mysterious entity known as Acute Investments purchased several tracts of land in RTP totaling around 280 acres, a massive investment that did not come with any public announcements. The Acute Investments representative listed on the deeds for the properties is local attorney Bruce Thompson, who is registered as a lobbyist for Apple, among other companies.

Assemblage of seven properties in Research Triangle Park owned by Acute Investments and “controlled by Apple”

As a result, Apple has long been suspected of being the mystery buyer in RTP, and today’s report from WRAL indicates that North Carolina Commerce Secretary Tony Copeland has finally confirmed that the land is indeed “controlled by Apple.”

In an interview with WRAL News last week, Commerce Secretary Tony Copeland declined to provide specifics about the state’s active recruitment of Apple. But he did point to a purchase of about 280 acres of Wake County land in Research Triangle Park for almost $50 million in late December 2018, just weeks after Apple’s Austin announcement. […]

Reached this week by phone, Thompson declined to comment.

But Copeland confirmed in the interview that the land is “controlled by Apple.”

In addition, the state of North Carolina continues to refuse to release any information regarding its negotiations with Apple for the new campus, claiming that the project remains “open.” Governmental authorities are typically required to release information to the public about their corporate recruitment efforts once a given project has ended, but North Carolina continues to insist the Apple project, known by its code name of “Project Bear,” has not been closed.

So given that the new campus has been announced for Austin and ground has now been broken there, it’s unclear what Apple’s plans are for North Carolina. Are negotiations actually still underway for yet another Apple campus to be located in RTP, or is the continued “open” status of the project simply a ploy by Apple to try to keep its negotiations secret for as long as possible? And why spend tens of millions of dollars on RTP land when Austin had already been chosen?

Is Apple looking at yet another significant campus in the near future, or is it banking land and leaving negotiations with North Carolina open as a backup plan or to provide options for much further down the road? It’s not clear when we’ll have answers to these questions, but given Apple’s appetite for office space, it would not be surprising if the company finds itself looking to expand again in the not too distant future.

This article, “With Apple’s New Austin Campus Underway, Is Apple Still Looking at North Carolina?” first appeared on MacRumors.com

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A year to the day after Apple announced plans to spend $1 billion on a new corporate campus in Austin, Texas, to initially support 5,000 employees with the potential to grow to 15,000, television station WRAL in Raleigh, North Carolina, has shared an update and a few new details related to North Carolina's attempts to attract the new campus.

Rendering of Apple's upcoming Austin campus

While it didn't conduct a public competition like Amazon, Apple was open about its plans to construct a new corporate campus, announcing its intentions in January 2018. A number of cities emerged as top contenders to land Apple's new campus, but by May 2018, sources were reporting that it was all but a "done deal" that the new campus would be located in North Carolina's Research Triangle Park (RTP) near Raleigh and Durham, with a temporary location for up to 1,000 employees planned for an existing office building in nearby Cary.

Months went by without an official announcement from Apple, and with Apple ultimately revealing the campus would be built in Austin, many have wondered what went wrong in what appeared to be late-stage negotiations between Apple and North Carolina.
The December announcement seemed to surprise the governor and state legislative leaders, who hours later released a joint statement touting economic growth in North Carolina and pledging to "keep doing everything we can" to attract jobs. [...]

Since then, there's been little explanation about how or why the deal dissolved by year's end.

But given the company's notorious penchant for secrecy, [North Carolina Senate Majority Leader Harry] Brown said, media coverage of the potential plans for North Carolina didn't help.

"Apple and companies like it are very sensitive to information getting out, and there's a possibility that could have hurt the negotiations with Apple a year ago," he said.
Even since the Austin announcement, there have been some curious developments in North Carolina that have hinted Apple may still have plans for the area. Most notably, in December 2018 just weeks after the Austin announcement, a mysterious entity known as Acute Investments purchased several tracts of land in RTP totaling around 280 acres, a massive investment that did not come with any public announcements. The Acute Investments representative listed on the deeds for the properties is local attorney Bruce Thompson, who is registered as a lobbyist for Apple, among other companies.

Assemblage of seven properties in Research Triangle Park owned by Acute Investments and "controlled by Apple"

As a result, Apple has long been suspected of being the mystery buyer in RTP, and today's report from WRAL indicates that North Carolina Commerce Secretary Tony Copeland has finally confirmed that the land is indeed "controlled by Apple."
In an interview with WRAL News last week, Commerce Secretary Tony Copeland declined to provide specifics about the state's active recruitment of Apple. But he did point to a purchase of about 280 acres of Wake County land in Research Triangle Park for almost $50 million in late December 2018, just weeks after Apple's Austin announcement. [...]

Reached this week by phone, Thompson declined to comment.

But Copeland confirmed in the interview that the land is "controlled by Apple."
In addition, the state of North Carolina continues to refuse to release any information regarding its negotiations with Apple for the new campus, claiming that the project remains "open." Governmental authorities are typically required to release information to the public about their corporate recruitment efforts once a given project has ended, but North Carolina continues to insist the Apple project, known by its code name of "Project Bear," has not been closed.

So given that the new campus has been announced for Austin and ground has now been broken there, it's unclear what Apple's plans are for North Carolina. Are negotiations actually still underway for yet another Apple campus to be located in RTP, or is the continued "open" status of the project simply a ploy by Apple to try to keep its negotiations secret for as long as possible? And why spend tens of millions of dollars on RTP land when Austin had already been chosen?

Is Apple looking at yet another significant campus in the near future, or is it banking land and leaving negotiations with North Carolina open as a backup plan or to provide options for much further down the road? It's not clear when we'll have answers to these questions, but given Apple's appetite for office space, it would not be surprising if the company finds itself looking to expand again in the not too distant future.


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AT&T Launches 5G Network in 10 Cities

AT&T today announced that it has launched its 5G network in its first ten markets: Birmingham, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Providence, Rochester, San Diego, San Francisco, and San Jose. AT&T has PDF maps of coverage areas within these cities in its press release, and the carrier is aiming for nationwide 5G coverage in the first half of next year.


For the time being, customers with the new Samsung Galaxy Note10+ 5G will be able to access AT&T’s 5G network, with more devices coming in the future. Apple is expected to launch its first 5G iPhones next year, likely in its usual September timeframe.

The 5G network AT&T is launching today is for the sub-6GHz spectrum, which offers broad coverage at speeds that are a step up from LTE. A separate flavor of 5G operates on the mmWave spectrum and offers even faster speeds but with shorter range, and is thus best suited for very dense, highly trafficked areas. AT&T refers to its mmWave 5G service as 5G+, and it launched in pockets of 12 markets almost exactly a year ago.

Noted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes there will be four flagship 2020 iPhones next September, with all of them capable of supporting both sub-6Hz and mmWave 5G technology in select markets such the United States, Canada, Japan, South Korea, and the United Kingdom. Other countries will see only sub-6Hz support, while 5G may be disabled entirely in other countries where 5G isn’t widely available, in order to reduce Apple’s costs.

AT&T was of course notorious for branding some of its enhanced 4G LTE network as “5G Evolution” or “5GE,” which began appearing in the iPhone status bar with iOS 12.2, confusing some users who thought they were able to access true 5G networks.

Tags: AT&T, 5G

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AT&T today announced that it has launched its 5G network in its first ten markets: Birmingham, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Providence, Rochester, San Diego, San Francisco, and San Jose. AT&T has PDF maps of coverage areas within these cities in its press release, and the carrier is aiming for nationwide 5G coverage in the first half of next year.


For the time being, customers with the new Samsung Galaxy Note10+ 5G will be able to access AT&T's 5G network, with more devices coming in the future. Apple is expected to launch its first 5G iPhones next year, likely in its usual September timeframe.

The 5G network AT&T is launching today is for the sub-6GHz spectrum, which offers broad coverage at speeds that are a step up from LTE. A separate flavor of 5G operates on the mmWave spectrum and offers even faster speeds but with shorter range, and is thus best suited for very dense, highly trafficked areas. AT&T refers to its mmWave 5G service as 5G+, and it launched in pockets of 12 markets almost exactly a year ago.

Noted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes there will be four flagship 2020 iPhones next September, with all of them capable of supporting both sub-6Hz and mmWave 5G technology in select markets such the United States, Canada, Japan, South Korea, and the United Kingdom. Other countries will see only sub-6Hz support, while 5G may be disabled entirely in other countries where 5G isn't widely available, in order to reduce Apple's costs.

AT&T was of course notorious for branding some of its enhanced 4G LTE network as "5G Evolution" or "5GE," which began appearing in the iPhone status bar with iOS 12.2, confusing some users who thought they were able to access true 5G networks.

Tags: AT&T, 5G

This article, "AT&T Launches 5G Network in 10 Cities" first appeared on MacRumors.com

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Review: CalDigit’s USB-C Pro Dock Adds Ports to Your Thunderbolt 3 or USB-C Mac, or Even an iPad Pro

Over the past few years, Thunderbolt 3 docks have become nearly ubiquitous, with a variety of different docks offering varying sets of ports in a few different body styles. Similar docks, albeit with more limited capabilities, exist for connecting over USB-C to machines that lack the more powerful Thunderbolt 3 standard, even in some cases including the iPad Pro.

Since the introduction of Thunderbolt 3 docks, users have typically had to choose either a Thunderbolt 3 or a USB-C dock to provide additional connectivity for their devices. Thunderbolt 3 docks offer more capabilities, but they lacked backward compatibility with machines that only offer USB-C.

A new generation of docks has started hitting the market, however, offering both Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C support for compatibility with a wider range of devices. I’ve had some time to test out CalDigit’s recently launched USB-C Pro Dock, which does exactly that.


Using both a 2016 15-inch MacBook Pro with Thunderbolt 3, a 2015 MacBook with USB-C, and an 11-inch ‌iPad Pro‌, I’ve tested the capabilities of CalDigit’s dock and come away impressed with the versatility and performance that come at a rather reasonable price compared to similar docks from other manufacturers.

I’ll start by noting that I’ve long been a fan of CalDigit, and the company’s TS3 Plus Thunderbolt 3 dock has been my favorite for everyday use with my ‌MacBook Pro‌ among all of the many Thunderbolt 3 docks I’ve tested. It offers the perfect set of ports for my needs, 85-watt charging to fully support my 15-inch ‌MacBook Pro‌, and a compact form factor that sits nicely under one of my external displays.

CalDigit’s TS3 Plus (left) and USB-C Pro Dock (right)

Given my experience with the TS3 Plus and some of CalDigit’s other products, I was excited to test out the new USB-C Pro Dock, and for the most part it lived up to my expectations.

Front ports: USB-A, USB-C, SD card, audio in/out

The USB-C Pro Dock has a horizontal design more typical of Thunderbolt 3 docks, as opposed to the TS3 Plus. I prefer the design of the TS3 Plus, but the USB-C Pro Dock design is certainly suitable and allows the dock to sit unobtrusively on a desk. It comes in a Space Gray aluminum that closely matches Apple’s notebooks of that color, with some finning on the sides to potentially assist with heat dissipation and black plastic on the front and back.

Rear ports: Ethernet, 2x USB-A, upstream Thunderbolt 3, 2x DisplayPort, power adapter

The dock weighs just under a pound and measures in at about 8.5 inches wide, an inch high, and a little over three inches deep. It’s powered by a fairly large external power brick as is typical of these docks, although the brick included with this dock is a bit flatter than some others I’ve seen and most users should be able to tuck it away on or behind a desk.

Power Output

The USB-C Pro Dock is able to provide 85 watts of power over either Thunderbolt 3 or USB-C, providing full power a 15-inch ‌MacBook Pro‌ or any other Mac notebooks you might use it alongside, with the exception of the brand-new 16-inch ‌MacBook Pro‌ that ships with a 96-watt power adapter. Dock manufacturers are still working out the best way to support this new higher-wattage ‌MacBook Pro‌, but for most users, even 85 watts will be plenty to keep that 16-inch ‌MacBook Pro‌ fully powered up.

To eke out a bit more power, CalDigit has an upcoming firmware update for the USB-C Pro Dock (and the TS3 Plus) that will bump charging to 87 watts, and CalDigit tells me most users won’t have any problems charging their 16-inch MacBook Pros at either 85 or 87 watts. For those pushing their machines to the limit on heavy CPU/GPU usage for extended periods of time, CalDigit recommends those users charge their machines with Apple’s power brick to ensure they’re getting the full 96 watts.

Displays

When it comes to display compatibility, the USB-C Pro Dock includes a pair of DisplayPort 1.2 connectors, and active adapters can be used to convert to other standards like HDMI. When connected to a Thunderbolt 3-equipped Mac like a ‌MacBook Pro‌ or recent MacBook Air, the USB-C Pro Dock is able to drive dual 4K monitors at up to 60Hz, offering great expansion capabilities for turning your notebook into a workhorse desktop machine.

Things are little more limited when you’re connecting the dock to a MacBook over USB-C, as the slower connection maxes out at supporting a single 4K display at 30Hz or dual HD displays, although those dual displays are unfortunately limited to mirrored mode rather than allowing for a full extended desktop.

The lack of a downstream Thunderbolt 3 port means I likely won’t be using this as my everyday dock, as I currently use a pair of LG UltraFine 5K displays, one connected through my TS3 Plus dock and one directly to my computer. I certainly could route both 5K displays directly to the ‌MacBook Pro‌ and use the dock separately for its other functions, but that increases the number of cables connected to my computer from two to three and so it’s overall less convenient, particularly when I’ve already got a TS3 Plus serving my needs.

But for someone maxing out with one or two 4K displays, particularly DisplayPort ones where you won’t need any adapters, the USB-C Pro Dock should work out just fine. In fact, CalDigit intentionally opted to sacrifice the downstream Thunderbolt 3 port in order to include two DisplayPort 1.2 ports, since most people end up using the Thunderbolt port to add another display anyway.

USB Connectivity

One of the other primary purposes of a computer dock is to provide additional USB ports for connecting a variety of accessories to your computer all through a single cable. The USB-C Pro Dock includes three 5 Gbps USB-A ports (one on the front and two on the back), as well as one data-only 10 Gbps USB-C port on the front of the dock.

Read/write speeds for CalDigit Tuff external SSD connected to front 10 Gbps USB-C and a 2016 ‌MacBook Pro‌

Connecting a fast CalDigit Tuff external SSD to that 10 Gbps front USB-C port and to my ‌MacBook Pro‌, I found solid speeds of 475 MB/s write and 500 MB/s read, which is typical for this drive over a 10 Gbps connection. Using the same setup but connected to a 2015 MacBook over USB-C, I saw speeds dip slightly to 411 MB/s write and 415 MB/s read, but that’s still solid performance.

The front-facing USB-A port on the USB-C Pro Dock supports standalone charging, so you can charge your iPhone, Apple Watch, or other devices via the dock even when your notebook isn’t connected or turned on. CalDigit also provides a driver to increase the power available over USB to allow the dock to support Apple’s SuperDrive.

SD, Ethernet, and Audio

Moving beyond displays and USB, the USB-C Pro Dock includes three additional features to increase the capabilities of a connected computer. One is a Gigabit Ethernet port to give you a speedy and reliable wired data connection, and the other is a UHS-II SD 4.0 card reader to make it easy to quickly transfer photos and files from a standalone camera or other devices.

Finally, there is a 3.5mm combination analog audio in/out port on the front of the dock to support speakers, headphones or combined headphone/microphone headsets.

‌iPad Pro‌ Support

While Thunderbolt and USB docks have traditionally been used to expand the capabilities of Macs, the adoption of USB-C on the ‌iPad Pro‌ has opened the door for Apple’s tablets to take advantage of USB-C docks as well, and CalDigit’s USB-C Pro Dock does the job here as well.

‌iPad Pro‌ connected to external display and SSD via USB-C Pro Dock

With a single cable connecting your ‌iPad Pro‌ to the dock, you can open support for an external display running at up to 4K and 60Hz, USB-connected drives, SD cards, ethernet, and audio in/out. The dock also lets you use external accessories like keyboards and mice, and it allows for fast charging of your ‌iPad Pro‌.

Backward Compatibility

For those users with older computers, the USB-C Pro Dock can be used with Thunderbolt 1 and 2 ports with appropriate adapters, although capabilities are more limited due to the lower bandwidth and you won’t be able to charge your device, for example.

You can even get some limited dock functionality out of the USB-C Pro Dock when connecting to a machine that supports only USB-A, provided you have a USB-C to USB-A adapter available. You won’t be able to drive any displays or charge your computer over that connection, but you’ll at least be able to take advantage of the additional USB ports, SD card reader, Gigabit Ethernet port, and audio capabilities.

Wrap-up

Overall, CalDigit’s USB-C Pro Dock strikes a great balance of performance and versatility, giving you the ability to connect to a range of devices to expand your connectivity options. If you want the flexibility to connect to a Mac and an iPad with the same dock, or if you’ve got both Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C Macs around the house, this dock is definitely worth taking a look at.

If you’re all in on Thunderbolt 3, make sure you take a look to see if this dock’s capabilities will be sufficient for your needs. If you’re using a Thunderbolt 3 external display, for example, you won’t be able to connect it through this dock.

On the flip side, if you don’t need the full capabilities offered by Thunderbolt 3, there are smaller and cheaper USB-C-only hubs out there that might do the trick for you, although many of those are bus-powered from the computer itself and require passthrough charging with your existing adapter.

With 85 watts of charging power on CalDigit’s USB-C Pro Dock, nearly every portable Mac can be charged at maximum speed, with the exception of the brand-new 16-inch ‌MacBook Pro‌, but even on that machine most users shouldn’t run into any problems keeping up with power demands.

While many full-featured Thunderbolt 3 docks are priced at $300 more, CalDigit’s USB-C Pro Dock undercuts that price point significantly, currently coming in at just $200 on Amazon and in CalDigit’s online store. A 0.7-meter cable that works with both Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C connections is included.

Note: CalDigit provided MacRumors with a USB-C Pro Dock for the purpose of this review. No other compensation was received. MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Amazon. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running.

This article, “Review: CalDigit’s USB-C Pro Dock Adds Ports to Your Thunderbolt 3 or USB-C Mac, or Even an iPad Pro” first appeared on MacRumors.com

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Over the past few years, Thunderbolt 3 docks have become nearly ubiquitous, with a variety of different docks offering varying sets of ports in a few different body styles. Similar docks, albeit with more limited capabilities, exist for connecting over USB-C to machines that lack the more powerful Thunderbolt 3 standard, even in some cases including the iPad Pro.

Since the introduction of Thunderbolt 3 docks, users have typically had to choose either a Thunderbolt 3 or a USB-C dock to provide additional connectivity for their devices. Thunderbolt 3 docks offer more capabilities, but they lacked backward compatibility with machines that only offer USB-C.

A new generation of docks has started hitting the market, however, offering both Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C support for compatibility with a wider range of devices. I've had some time to test out CalDigit's recently launched USB-C Pro Dock, which does exactly that.


Using both a 2016 15-inch MacBook Pro with Thunderbolt 3, a 2015 MacBook with USB-C, and an 11-inch ‌iPad Pro‌, I've tested the capabilities of CalDigit's dock and come away impressed with the versatility and performance that come at a rather reasonable price compared to similar docks from other manufacturers.

I'll start by noting that I've long been a fan of CalDigit, and the company's TS3 Plus Thunderbolt 3 dock has been my favorite for everyday use with my ‌MacBook Pro‌ among all of the many Thunderbolt 3 docks I've tested. It offers the perfect set of ports for my needs, 85-watt charging to fully support my 15-inch ‌MacBook Pro‌, and a compact form factor that sits nicely under one of my external displays.

CalDigit's TS3 Plus (left) and USB-C Pro Dock (right)

Given my experience with the TS3 Plus and some of CalDigit's other products, I was excited to test out the new USB-C Pro Dock, and for the most part it lived up to my expectations.

Front ports: USB-A, USB-C, SD card, audio in/out

The USB-C Pro Dock has a horizontal design more typical of Thunderbolt 3 docks, as opposed to the TS3 Plus. I prefer the design of the TS3 Plus, but the USB-C Pro Dock design is certainly suitable and allows the dock to sit unobtrusively on a desk. It comes in a Space Gray aluminum that closely matches Apple's notebooks of that color, with some finning on the sides to potentially assist with heat dissipation and black plastic on the front and back.

Rear ports: Ethernet, 2x USB-A, upstream Thunderbolt 3, 2x DisplayPort, power adapter

The dock weighs just under a pound and measures in at about 8.5 inches wide, an inch high, and a little over three inches deep. It's powered by a fairly large external power brick as is typical of these docks, although the brick included with this dock is a bit flatter than some others I've seen and most users should be able to tuck it away on or behind a desk.

Power Output


The USB-C Pro Dock is able to provide 85 watts of power over either Thunderbolt 3 or USB-C, providing full power a 15-inch ‌MacBook Pro‌ or any other Mac notebooks you might use it alongside, with the exception of the brand-new 16-inch ‌MacBook Pro‌ that ships with a 96-watt power adapter. Dock manufacturers are still working out the best way to support this new higher-wattage ‌MacBook Pro‌, but for most users, even 85 watts will be plenty to keep that 16-inch ‌MacBook Pro‌ fully powered up.

To eke out a bit more power, CalDigit has an upcoming firmware update for the USB-C Pro Dock (and the TS3 Plus) that will bump charging to 87 watts, and CalDigit tells me most users won't have any problems charging their 16-inch MacBook Pros at either 85 or 87 watts. For those pushing their machines to the limit on heavy CPU/GPU usage for extended periods of time, CalDigit recommends those users charge their machines with Apple's power brick to ensure they're getting the full 96 watts.

Displays


When it comes to display compatibility, the USB-C Pro Dock includes a pair of DisplayPort 1.2 connectors, and active adapters can be used to convert to other standards like HDMI. When connected to a Thunderbolt 3-equipped Mac like a ‌MacBook Pro‌ or recent MacBook Air, the USB-C Pro Dock is able to drive dual 4K monitors at up to 60Hz, offering great expansion capabilities for turning your notebook into a workhorse desktop machine.

Things are little more limited when you're connecting the dock to a MacBook over USB-C, as the slower connection maxes out at supporting a single 4K display at 30Hz or dual HD displays, although those dual displays are unfortunately limited to mirrored mode rather than allowing for a full extended desktop.

The lack of a downstream Thunderbolt 3 port means I likely won't be using this as my everyday dock, as I currently use a pair of LG UltraFine 5K displays, one connected through my TS3 Plus dock and one directly to my computer. I certainly could route both 5K displays directly to the ‌MacBook Pro‌ and use the dock separately for its other functions, but that increases the number of cables connected to my computer from two to three and so it's overall less convenient, particularly when I've already got a TS3 Plus serving my needs.

But for someone maxing out with one or two 4K displays, particularly DisplayPort ones where you won't need any adapters, the USB-C Pro Dock should work out just fine. In fact, CalDigit intentionally opted to sacrifice the downstream Thunderbolt 3 port in order to include two DisplayPort 1.2 ports, since most people end up using the Thunderbolt port to add another display anyway.

USB Connectivity


One of the other primary purposes of a computer dock is to provide additional USB ports for connecting a variety of accessories to your computer all through a single cable. The USB-C Pro Dock includes three 5 Gbps USB-A ports (one on the front and two on the back), as well as one data-only 10 Gbps USB-C port on the front of the dock.

Read/write speeds for CalDigit Tuff external SSD connected to front 10 Gbps USB-C and a 2016 ‌MacBook Pro‌

Connecting a fast CalDigit Tuff external SSD to that 10 Gbps front USB-C port and to my ‌MacBook Pro‌, I found solid speeds of 475 MB/s write and 500 MB/s read, which is typical for this drive over a 10 Gbps connection. Using the same setup but connected to a 2015 MacBook over USB-C, I saw speeds dip slightly to 411 MB/s write and 415 MB/s read, but that's still solid performance.

The front-facing USB-A port on the USB-C Pro Dock supports standalone charging, so you can charge your iPhone, Apple Watch, or other devices via the dock even when your notebook isn't connected or turned on. CalDigit also provides a driver to increase the power available over USB to allow the dock to support Apple's SuperDrive.

SD, Ethernet, and Audio


Moving beyond displays and USB, the USB-C Pro Dock includes three additional features to increase the capabilities of a connected computer. One is a Gigabit Ethernet port to give you a speedy and reliable wired data connection, and the other is a UHS-II SD 4.0 card reader to make it easy to quickly transfer photos and files from a standalone camera or other devices.

Finally, there is a 3.5mm combination analog audio in/out port on the front of the dock to support speakers, headphones or combined headphone/microphone headsets.

‌iPad Pro‌ Support


While Thunderbolt and USB docks have traditionally been used to expand the capabilities of Macs, the adoption of USB-C on the ‌iPad Pro‌ has opened the door for Apple's tablets to take advantage of USB-C docks as well, and CalDigit's USB-C Pro Dock does the job here as well.

‌iPad Pro‌ connected to external display and SSD via USB-C Pro Dock

With a single cable connecting your ‌iPad Pro‌ to the dock, you can open support for an external display running at up to 4K and 60Hz, USB-connected drives, SD cards, ethernet, and audio in/out. The dock also lets you use external accessories like keyboards and mice, and it allows for fast charging of your ‌iPad Pro‌.

Backward Compatibility


For those users with older computers, the USB-C Pro Dock can be used with Thunderbolt 1 and 2 ports with appropriate adapters, although capabilities are more limited due to the lower bandwidth and you won't be able to charge your device, for example.

You can even get some limited dock functionality out of the USB-C Pro Dock when connecting to a machine that supports only USB-A, provided you have a USB-C to USB-A adapter available. You won't be able to drive any displays or charge your computer over that connection, but you'll at least be able to take advantage of the additional USB ports, SD card reader, Gigabit Ethernet port, and audio capabilities.

Wrap-up


Overall, CalDigit's USB-C Pro Dock strikes a great balance of performance and versatility, giving you the ability to connect to a range of devices to expand your connectivity options. If you want the flexibility to connect to a Mac and an iPad with the same dock, or if you've got both Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C Macs around the house, this dock is definitely worth taking a look at.

If you're all in on Thunderbolt 3, make sure you take a look to see if this dock's capabilities will be sufficient for your needs. If you're using a Thunderbolt 3 external display, for example, you won't be able to connect it through this dock.

On the flip side, if you don't need the full capabilities offered by Thunderbolt 3, there are smaller and cheaper USB-C-only hubs out there that might do the trick for you, although many of those are bus-powered from the computer itself and require passthrough charging with your existing adapter.

With 85 watts of charging power on CalDigit's USB-C Pro Dock, nearly every portable Mac can be charged at maximum speed, with the exception of the brand-new 16-inch ‌MacBook Pro‌, but even on that machine most users shouldn't run into any problems keeping up with power demands.

While many full-featured Thunderbolt 3 docks are priced at $300 more, CalDigit's USB-C Pro Dock undercuts that price point significantly, currently coming in at just $200 on Amazon and in CalDigit's online store. A 0.7-meter cable that works with both Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C connections is included.

Note: CalDigit provided MacRumors with a USB-C Pro Dock for the purpose of this review. No other compensation was received. MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Amazon. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running.


This article, "Review: CalDigit's USB-C Pro Dock Adds Ports to Your Thunderbolt 3 or USB-C Mac, or Even an iPad Pro" first appeared on MacRumors.com

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Apple’s Most Devoted Fans Once Again Take Center Stage in a New Edition of ‘The Cult of Mac’

Back in 2004, then-Wired editor Leander Kahney published The Cult of Mac, a photo-filled book containing an array of anecdotes about fans, collectors, and others with special connections to Apple and the Mac. While Kahney took the opportunity to add a chapter on the iPod when the book was published as a paperback edition a couple of years later, the book remains an interesting look at a time when Apple had only recently surfaced from its near-death experience of the 1990s.

As outlined by Kahney in The Cult of Mac, Apple may even have been saved by those devotees to the Mac, some of whom became an army of essentially unpaid evangelists seeking to convert over to Mac anyone and everyone who would listen. Some even went as far as to stake out CompUSA stores to educate or counteract clueless salespeople who only wanted to sell Windows machines and were uninterested in directing customers to the Mac section of the stores, while others shared their love for the Mac with the world through tattoos, stickers, vanity license plates, and more.

“The Cult of Mac” first edition (left) and new second edition (right)

Much has changed for Apple in the fifteen years since the original release of The Cult of Mac, with the iPhone launching Apple to its current position as a consumer electronics and lifestyle behemoth. No longer the underdog, Apple has attracted millions upon millions of loyal customers into its ever-expanding ecosystem of devices and services.

So now with 2020 right around the corner, Kahney has teamed up with David Pierini, a writer for Kahney’s independent Cult of Mac site, to release a second edition of The Cult of Mac, another photo-heavy book that would fit right in on any Apple fan’s coffee table. Rather than a revision or update of the original, the second edition of The Cult of Mac is more of a companion book, revisiting some of the same themes but introducing some new ones and sharing new anecdotes about some of Apple’s biggest fans.

The coffee table nature of the second edition of The Cult of Mac is evident before you even open the cover, as the book itself is cleverly designed to resemble one of Apple’s iconic MacBooks, wrapped in a silver plastic jacket with an Apple-shaped title logo on the “lid” of the book. There are even four black “feet” on the rear of the book to match those used on Apple’s notebooks.


Opening the front cover of the book continues the theme, as it reveals a MacBook Pro keyboard and top case with the inside cover serving as a mock display, complete with an overlaid “macOS” app window on the transparent plastic jacket sharing an introductory description of the book. The next several pages of the book including the Table of Contents gradually shift orientation, encouraging the reader to reorient the book from the landscape mock computer into a traditional portrait orientation. It’s all cleverly done and a fun way to dive into the book.


The book itself is an easy read, broken up into short chapters and sections with lots of photos and artistic design elements. The book is about 200 pages and I read it cover to cover in just a couple of hours thanks to the emphasis on visuals over text, but the layout makes it easy to just pick up the book and read a few pages here and there.


Following a brief introduction, the second edition of The Cult of Mac tackles “The Line Sitters,” those who camped out for days ahead of a major product launch, sometimes in an effort to be first to get their hands on Apple’s latest devices and other times just for publicity. Subsequent chapters look at the way Apple fans have paid tribute to Steve Jobs, collectors and museums dedicated to Apple’s products, those in music and photography who have found inspiration from and utility in Apple’s devices, and those who repurpose old Macs for products such as jewelry, aquariums, and more.

The book wraps up with a look at those dedicated Apple fans whose obsessions date back even further than the Mac to the Apple II family, as well as a quick trip around the world to look at fandom in several different countries, including an iPad magician in Germany, the Russian and Ukrainian luxury ‌iPhone‌ markets, and users in the Middle East who use special cases to carry multiple iPhones for work and personal use.


Overall, the second edition of The Cult of Mac is an enjoyable read which, like the original, treads some different ground compared to the many Apple-related biographies and histories that regularly hit the bookshelves, including Kahney’s own biographies of Jony Ive and Tim Cook. It’s also a contrasting type of coffee table book compared to product-focused ones like Apple’s own “Designed in California.”

The Cult of Mac, Second Edition debuts December 17, and it’s available for pre-order now at Amazon in hardcover for $39.95, or if you don’t have a need for the physical book you can pre-order the Kindle edition or Apple Books edition for $23.99.

This article, “Apple’s Most Devoted Fans Once Again Take Center Stage in a New Edition of ‘The Cult of Mac’” first appeared on MacRumors.com

Discuss this article in our forums

Back in 2004, then-Wired editor Leander Kahney published The Cult of Mac, a photo-filled book containing an array of anecdotes about fans, collectors, and others with special connections to Apple and the Mac. While Kahney took the opportunity to add a chapter on the iPod when the book was published as a paperback edition a couple of years later, the book remains an interesting look at a time when Apple had only recently surfaced from its near-death experience of the 1990s.

As outlined by Kahney in The Cult of Mac, Apple may even have been saved by those devotees to the Mac, some of whom became an army of essentially unpaid evangelists seeking to convert over to Mac anyone and everyone who would listen. Some even went as far as to stake out CompUSA stores to educate or counteract clueless salespeople who only wanted to sell Windows machines and were uninterested in directing customers to the Mac section of the stores, while others shared their love for the Mac with the world through tattoos, stickers, vanity license plates, and more.

"The Cult of Mac" first edition (left) and new second edition (right)

Much has changed for Apple in the fifteen years since the original release of The Cult of Mac, with the iPhone launching Apple to its current position as a consumer electronics and lifestyle behemoth. No longer the underdog, Apple has attracted millions upon millions of loyal customers into its ever-expanding ecosystem of devices and services.

So now with 2020 right around the corner, Kahney has teamed up with David Pierini, a writer for Kahney's independent Cult of Mac site, to release a second edition of The Cult of Mac, another photo-heavy book that would fit right in on any Apple fan's coffee table. Rather than a revision or update of the original, the second edition of The Cult of Mac is more of a companion book, revisiting some of the same themes but introducing some new ones and sharing new anecdotes about some of Apple's biggest fans.

The coffee table nature of the second edition of The Cult of Mac is evident before you even open the cover, as the book itself is cleverly designed to resemble one of Apple's iconic MacBooks, wrapped in a silver plastic jacket with an Apple-shaped title logo on the "lid" of the book. There are even four black "feet" on the rear of the book to match those used on Apple's notebooks.


Opening the front cover of the book continues the theme, as it reveals a MacBook Pro keyboard and top case with the inside cover serving as a mock display, complete with an overlaid "macOS" app window on the transparent plastic jacket sharing an introductory description of the book. The next several pages of the book including the Table of Contents gradually shift orientation, encouraging the reader to reorient the book from the landscape mock computer into a traditional portrait orientation. It's all cleverly done and a fun way to dive into the book.


The book itself is an easy read, broken up into short chapters and sections with lots of photos and artistic design elements. The book is about 200 pages and I read it cover to cover in just a couple of hours thanks to the emphasis on visuals over text, but the layout makes it easy to just pick up the book and read a few pages here and there.


Following a brief introduction, the second edition of The Cult of Mac tackles "The Line Sitters," those who camped out for days ahead of a major product launch, sometimes in an effort to be first to get their hands on Apple's latest devices and other times just for publicity. Subsequent chapters look at the way Apple fans have paid tribute to Steve Jobs, collectors and museums dedicated to Apple's products, those in music and photography who have found inspiration from and utility in Apple's devices, and those who repurpose old Macs for products such as jewelry, aquariums, and more.

The book wraps up with a look at those dedicated Apple fans whose obsessions date back even further than the Mac to the Apple II family, as well as a quick trip around the world to look at fandom in several different countries, including an iPad magician in Germany, the Russian and Ukrainian luxury ‌iPhone‌ markets, and users in the Middle East who use special cases to carry multiple iPhones for work and personal use.


Overall, the second edition of The Cult of Mac is an enjoyable read which, like the original, treads some different ground compared to the many Apple-related biographies and histories that regularly hit the bookshelves, including Kahney's own biographies of Jony Ive and Tim Cook. It's also a contrasting type of coffee table book compared to product-focused ones like Apple's own "Designed in California."

The Cult of Mac, Second Edition debuts December 17, and it's available for pre-order now at Amazon in hardcover for $39.95, or if you don't have a need for the physical book you can pre-order the Kindle edition or Apple Books edition for $23.99.


This article, "Apple's Most Devoted Fans Once Again Take Center Stage in a New Edition of 'The Cult of Mac'" first appeared on MacRumors.com

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Review: Audi’s 2019 A7 Offers Wireless CarPlay and Up to Three Big Dashboard Screens

Wireless CarPlay has yet to take off with car manufacturers, with BMW (as well its MINI brand) being the first major car manufacturer to support the feature several years ago. As we recently covered, Porsche is in the process rolling out wireless ‌CarPlay‌ to its lineup, but there’s at least one other notable manufacturer adopting the technology, and that’s VW’s luxury brand Audi.


Audi’s latest “MMI touch response” infotainment system replaces nearly all center stack controls with a pair of touchscreens that offer haptic feedback when you touch on icons and other user interface elements. I’ve had a chance to test out a 2019 Audi A7 to see how the MMI touch response system works both on its own and in conjunction with ‌CarPlay‌, so read on for all of the details.


Audi MMI Touch Response

The A7’s dual center display setup consists of an 8.8-inch upper screen that serves as a traditional infotainment display and an 8.6-inch lower screen that supports climate controls, a few other vehicle functions, and customizable shortcuts that allow for one-touch access to items on the main infotainment screen like favorite radio stations, destinations, and more.

Audi’s MMI main home screen

On the Premium Plus trim and higher, the upper display is upgraded to a 10.1-inch widescreen display, which is what my test vehicle came equipped with. Regardless of screen size, both the top and bottom displays include the haptic feedback system that lets you know that your touch has been registered.

Lower MMI screen with climate controls and shortcuts

The haptic feedback system is an interesting innovation that will be familiar to iPhone users. On the MMI touch response system, it means you do have to press a bit harder on the screen than a simple touch, and I’d say the force required is roughly equivalent to a 3D Touch press on an ‌iPhone‌. It doesn’t require a terribly hard press, but it’s enough to help avoid stray taps.

Audi navigation app with Google Earth view

The elimination of nearly all hardware knobs and buttons from the dashboard of the A7 undoubtedly makes for a cleaner look, and the haptic feedback helps the touchscreen system mimic physical controls to some degree, but it still means you’ll likely need to glance at the screen to see what you’re doing rather than being able to rely on tactile feel like you can with physical controls.

SiriusXM audio screen on MMI system

That said, the MMI system has a clean layout that features minimal color aside from the navigation system. The color that is used elsewhere in the MMI system is primarily for showing the state of virtual toggles, sparse highlights, or grouping home screen icons by function such as a strip of yellow for audio-related functions, green for phone-related functions, and blue for navigation.

With this much touchscreen covering the center stack, it’s unsurprising that it suffers from a bit of glare, but it’s not bad enough to really interfere with operation. It also attracts some fingerprints, so it’s a good idea to wipe things clean once in a while.

Virtual Cockpit

As if two displays on the center stack weren’t enough, my test A7 was also equipped with Audi’s virtual cockpit, a customizable 12.3-inch display right in front of the driver.

Virtual cockpit with large gauges

With customization settings, you can put the built-in Audi navigation closer to your line-of-sight, and you can opt for either a small map window flanked by large digital speedometer and tachometer gauges or let an aerial perspective mapping view take over nearly the entire screen. It’s an impressive view to help guide you on your route, but unfortunately ‌CarPlay‌ can’t take advantage of this extra screen real estate.

Virtual cockpit with full-screen navigation view

‌CarPlay‌

With the widescreen setup on the higher trims of the A7, you’ll get a widescreen version of ‌CarPlay‌ that shows a 5×2 grid of home screen icons rather than the more common 4×2 grid seen on most other systems.

‌CarPlay‌ Home screen

Even with the widescreen ‌CarPlay‌, however, Audi’s MMI system maintains both a strip of icons along the left side for quick access to native functions like radio and navigation, as well as its own narrow status bar along the top that shows information like the time, signal strength, driver profile, device battery level, and wireless charging status. The status bar also provides a small pull-down to let you access any notifications from the MMI system.

Wireless ‌CarPlay‌ is a great feature, as it means you can leave your phone in your pocket and still have ‌CarPlay‌ pop right up as soon as you start up the car. It’s great for short trips where you’re not too concerned about getting your phone charged up while driving. Using ‌CarPlay‌ can burn through battery a bit, so for longer trips you’ll want to use either a wired connection or wireless charging (which I’ll talk about a bit later) to help keep your phone from running down.

Wireless ‌CarPlay‌ setup

Setup for wireless ‌CarPlay‌ is extremely simple, using a Bluetooth pairing process to get things going. Once the pairing is established, the phone and infotainment system communicate over Wi-Fi, and I experienced no lag when interacting with ‌CarPlay‌ wirelessly on the MMI system.

Widescreen ‌CarPlay‌ dashboard screen

‌CarPlay‌ on a widescreen display is fantastic for Maps and other navigation apps like Google Maps and Waze, as it gives you an expansive view of the area around your route even with the various informational overlays and icons showing on top of the map. Other apps see less benefit from the widescreen treatment, as many already have fairly sparse interfaces that are uncluttered even on smaller displays.

Widescreen ‌CarPlay‌ Apple Maps

Unfortunately, the haptic feedback that’s a key feature of the native MMI system doesn’t work with ‌CarPlay‌, so when you’re using ‌CarPlay‌ the system will respond to capacitive taps like any other touchscreen.

Wireless Charging

The A7 has a shallow storage compartment in the center console, and Audi offers a combination phone storage tray with wireless charger inside the compartment. The feature is part of a convenience package on the base Premium trim and comes standard on the higher-level Premium Plus and Prestige trims. Unlike wireless chargers in some other vehicles, the one in the A7 is a simple tray that accommodates a wide range of phone sizes and keeps your device hidden away. It does only charge at a maximum of 5 watts, so don’t expect super fast battery charging from it.

Center console compartment with phone box and USB ports

The charger, known as the Audi phone box, also provides a cellular signal booster to help maintain a strong signal by leveraging an external antenna. It’s all done seamlessly from the user perspective, so all you have to do is place your phone on the charger in the storage compartment.

Ports and Connectivity

Inside the center console storage compartment, you’ll also find a pair of USB-A ports if you prefer to use a wired connection for ‌CarPlay‌ and charging. Both USB ports are capable of transmitting data.

Rear USB ports and controls

On the rear of the center console is another pair of USB-A ports for the rear passengers, but these are charge-only ports that can’t be used to deliver wired ‌CarPlay‌, for example.

Wrap-up

Wireless ‌CarPlay‌ remains primarily limited to luxury brands so far, and it would be great to see it trickle down into more mainstream vehicles sooner rather than later. With rumors of Apple launching its first “completely wireless” iPhone without a Lightning port as soon as 2021, it appears users are going to be increasingly looking for wireless ‌CarPlay‌ support.

While I still prefer to plug into a USB port to top off my phone’s battery on longer trips, it’s convenient on shorter trips to have ‌CarPlay‌ automatically pop up with my phone still in my pocket. And if I just want a little extra juice, the wireless charger can provide that without needing to deal with cables.

From a broader perspective, I’m less of a fan of Audi’s touchscreen-heavy interface. Yes, it offers a very clean look for the dash, and the screens allow for some customizability and flexibility that you can’t get from hardware buttons, but I still prefer to operate many functions by feel, and touchscreens make that difficult.

Still, Audi’s MMI touch response is a powerful infotainment system, particularly on upgraded models that include a total of three large screens. ‌CarPlay‌ integrates well with the main center stack screen, offering a wide view of the ‌CarPlay‌ interface while still maintaining access to native functions. And if you’re up for using the native navigation system, the beautiful virtual cockpit offers some great functionality.

All of this doesn’t come cheaply, of course, with the base 2019 Audi A7 quattro starting at a sticker price of $68,000 and the recently launched 2020 model coming in $1,000 higher with a few additional standard features. My test vehicle was naturally specced out with plenty of extras, including the $8,300 Prestige package that added the larger 10.1-inch main screen, the virtual cockpit, premiums Bang & Olufson sound, the phone box with wireless charging and antenna boost, and much more.

Toss in a driver assistance package, upgraded seating and wheels, and a few more extras, and my tester came in at a bit over $85,000. That’s obviously out of reach for a good many car buyers, but for those who can afford it there’s a lot to like, and hopefully innovations similar to some of those found in the A7 will make their way into cheaper vehicles over time as technology tends to do.

Related Roundup: CarPlay
Tag: Audi

This article, “Review: Audi’s 2019 A7 Offers Wireless CarPlay and Up to Three Big Dashboard Screens” first appeared on MacRumors.com

Discuss this article in our forums

Wireless CarPlay has yet to take off with car manufacturers, with BMW (as well its MINI brand) being the first major car manufacturer to support the feature several years ago. As we recently covered, Porsche is in the process rolling out wireless ‌CarPlay‌ to its lineup, but there's at least one other notable manufacturer adopting the technology, and that's VW's luxury brand Audi.


Audi's latest "MMI touch response" infotainment system replaces nearly all center stack controls with a pair of touchscreens that offer haptic feedback when you touch on icons and other user interface elements. I've had a chance to test out a 2019 Audi A7 to see how the MMI touch response system works both on its own and in conjunction with ‌CarPlay‌, so read on for all of the details.


Audi MMI Touch Response


The A7's dual center display setup consists of an 8.8-inch upper screen that serves as a traditional infotainment display and an 8.6-inch lower screen that supports climate controls, a few other vehicle functions, and customizable shortcuts that allow for one-touch access to items on the main infotainment screen like favorite radio stations, destinations, and more.

Audi's MMI main home screen

On the Premium Plus trim and higher, the upper display is upgraded to a 10.1-inch widescreen display, which is what my test vehicle came equipped with. Regardless of screen size, both the top and bottom displays include the haptic feedback system that lets you know that your touch has been registered.

Lower MMI screen with climate controls and shortcuts

The haptic feedback system is an interesting innovation that will be familiar to iPhone users. On the MMI touch response system, it means you do have to press a bit harder on the screen than a simple touch, and I'd say the force required is roughly equivalent to a 3D Touch press on an ‌iPhone‌. It doesn't require a terribly hard press, but it's enough to help avoid stray taps.

Audi navigation app with Google Earth view

The elimination of nearly all hardware knobs and buttons from the dashboard of the A7 undoubtedly makes for a cleaner look, and the haptic feedback helps the touchscreen system mimic physical controls to some degree, but it still means you'll likely need to glance at the screen to see what you're doing rather than being able to rely on tactile feel like you can with physical controls.

SiriusXM audio screen on MMI system

That said, the MMI system has a clean layout that features minimal color aside from the navigation system. The color that is used elsewhere in the MMI system is primarily for showing the state of virtual toggles, sparse highlights, or grouping home screen icons by function such as a strip of yellow for audio-related functions, green for phone-related functions, and blue for navigation.

With this much touchscreen covering the center stack, it's unsurprising that it suffers from a bit of glare, but it's not bad enough to really interfere with operation. It also attracts some fingerprints, so it's a good idea to wipe things clean once in a while.

Virtual Cockpit


As if two displays on the center stack weren't enough, my test A7 was also equipped with Audi's virtual cockpit, a customizable 12.3-inch display right in front of the driver.

Virtual cockpit with large gauges

With customization settings, you can put the built-in Audi navigation closer to your line-of-sight, and you can opt for either a small map window flanked by large digital speedometer and tachometer gauges or let an aerial perspective mapping view take over nearly the entire screen. It's an impressive view to help guide you on your route, but unfortunately ‌CarPlay‌ can't take advantage of this extra screen real estate.

Virtual cockpit with full-screen navigation view

‌CarPlay‌


With the widescreen setup on the higher trims of the A7, you'll get a widescreen version of ‌CarPlay‌ that shows a 5x2 grid of home screen icons rather than the more common 4x2 grid seen on most other systems.

‌CarPlay‌ Home screen

Even with the widescreen ‌CarPlay‌, however, Audi's MMI system maintains both a strip of icons along the left side for quick access to native functions like radio and navigation, as well as its own narrow status bar along the top that shows information like the time, signal strength, driver profile, device battery level, and wireless charging status. The status bar also provides a small pull-down to let you access any notifications from the MMI system.

Wireless ‌CarPlay‌ is a great feature, as it means you can leave your phone in your pocket and still have ‌CarPlay‌ pop right up as soon as you start up the car. It's great for short trips where you're not too concerned about getting your phone charged up while driving. Using ‌CarPlay‌ can burn through battery a bit, so for longer trips you'll want to use either a wired connection or wireless charging (which I'll talk about a bit later) to help keep your phone from running down.

Wireless ‌CarPlay‌ setup

Setup for wireless ‌CarPlay‌ is extremely simple, using a Bluetooth pairing process to get things going. Once the pairing is established, the phone and infotainment system communicate over Wi-Fi, and I experienced no lag when interacting with ‌CarPlay‌ wirelessly on the MMI system.

Widescreen ‌CarPlay‌ dashboard screen

‌CarPlay‌ on a widescreen display is fantastic for Maps and other navigation apps like Google Maps and Waze, as it gives you an expansive view of the area around your route even with the various informational overlays and icons showing on top of the map. Other apps see less benefit from the widescreen treatment, as many already have fairly sparse interfaces that are uncluttered even on smaller displays.

Widescreen ‌CarPlay‌ Apple Maps

Unfortunately, the haptic feedback that's a key feature of the native MMI system doesn't work with ‌CarPlay‌, so when you're using ‌CarPlay‌ the system will respond to capacitive taps like any other touchscreen.

Wireless Charging


The A7 has a shallow storage compartment in the center console, and Audi offers a combination phone storage tray with wireless charger inside the compartment. The feature is part of a convenience package on the base Premium trim and comes standard on the higher-level Premium Plus and Prestige trims. Unlike wireless chargers in some other vehicles, the one in the A7 is a simple tray that accommodates a wide range of phone sizes and keeps your device hidden away. It does only charge at a maximum of 5 watts, so don't expect super fast battery charging from it.

Center console compartment with phone box and USB ports

The charger, known as the Audi phone box, also provides a cellular signal booster to help maintain a strong signal by leveraging an external antenna. It's all done seamlessly from the user perspective, so all you have to do is place your phone on the charger in the storage compartment.

Ports and Connectivity


Inside the center console storage compartment, you'll also find a pair of USB-A ports if you prefer to use a wired connection for ‌CarPlay‌ and charging. Both USB ports are capable of transmitting data.

Rear USB ports and controls

On the rear of the center console is another pair of USB-A ports for the rear passengers, but these are charge-only ports that can't be used to deliver wired ‌CarPlay‌, for example.

Wrap-up


Wireless ‌CarPlay‌ remains primarily limited to luxury brands so far, and it would be great to see it trickle down into more mainstream vehicles sooner rather than later. With rumors of Apple launching its first "completely wireless" iPhone without a Lightning port as soon as 2021, it appears users are going to be increasingly looking for wireless ‌CarPlay‌ support.

While I still prefer to plug into a USB port to top off my phone's battery on longer trips, it's convenient on shorter trips to have ‌CarPlay‌ automatically pop up with my phone still in my pocket. And if I just want a little extra juice, the wireless charger can provide that without needing to deal with cables.

From a broader perspective, I'm less of a fan of Audi's touchscreen-heavy interface. Yes, it offers a very clean look for the dash, and the screens allow for some customizability and flexibility that you can't get from hardware buttons, but I still prefer to operate many functions by feel, and touchscreens make that difficult.

Still, Audi's MMI touch response is a powerful infotainment system, particularly on upgraded models that include a total of three large screens. ‌CarPlay‌ integrates well with the main center stack screen, offering a wide view of the ‌CarPlay‌ interface while still maintaining access to native functions. And if you're up for using the native navigation system, the beautiful virtual cockpit offers some great functionality.

All of this doesn't come cheaply, of course, with the base 2019 Audi A7 quattro starting at a sticker price of $68,000 and the recently launched 2020 model coming in $1,000 higher with a few additional standard features. My test vehicle was naturally specced out with plenty of extras, including the $8,300 Prestige package that added the larger 10.1-inch main screen, the virtual cockpit, premiums Bang & Olufson sound, the phone box with wireless charging and antenna boost, and much more.

Toss in a driver assistance package, upgraded seating and wheels, and a few more extras, and my tester came in at a bit over $85,000. That's obviously out of reach for a good many car buyers, but for those who can afford it there's a lot to like, and hopefully innovations similar to some of those found in the A7 will make their way into cheaper vehicles over time as technology tends to do.

Related Roundup: CarPlay
Tag: Audi

This article, "Review: Audi's 2019 A7 Offers Wireless CarPlay and Up to Three Big Dashboard Screens" first appeared on MacRumors.com

Discuss this article in our forums

Apple Acknowledges Issue With Some Entry-Level 2019 13-Inch MacBook Pro Models Unexpectedly Shutting Down

Apple today posted a new support document outlining troubleshooting steps for users experiencing problems with unexpected shutdowns on the entry-level 2019 13-inch MacBook Pro with two Thunderbolt 3 ports, which was introduced back in July.


Apple’s troubleshooting steps involve making sure the ‌MacBook Pro‌ has its battery level run down to below 90 percent, connecting it to a charger, quitting all open applications, and letting it sleep and charge for at least eight hours.

Once the ‌MacBook Pro‌ has been charged for at least eight hours, users should make sure they are running the latest version of macOS, and if the shutdown issue persists after following these steps, users should contact Apple for service.

There is a fairly lengthy thread in our forums where some users experiencing the issue have gathered to try to diagnose and troubleshoot their machines, and there are scattered reports of the issue in other discussion forums, including Apple’s support forums.

Related Roundup: MacBook Pro
Buyer’s Guide: MacBook Pro (Buy Now)

This article, “Apple Acknowledges Issue With Some Entry-Level 2019 13-Inch MacBook Pro Models Unexpectedly Shutting Down” first appeared on MacRumors.com

Discuss this article in our forums

Apple today posted a new support document outlining troubleshooting steps for users experiencing problems with unexpected shutdowns on the entry-level 2019 13-inch MacBook Pro with two Thunderbolt 3 ports, which was introduced back in July.


Apple's troubleshooting steps involve making sure the ‌MacBook Pro‌ has its battery level run down to below 90 percent, connecting it to a charger, quitting all open applications, and letting it sleep and charge for at least eight hours.

Once the ‌MacBook Pro‌ has been charged for at least eight hours, users should make sure they are running the latest version of macOS, and if the shutdown issue persists after following these steps, users should contact Apple for service.

There is a fairly lengthy thread in our forums where some users experiencing the issue have gathered to try to diagnose and troubleshoot their machines, and there are scattered reports of the issue in other discussion forums, including Apple's support forums.

Related Roundup: MacBook Pro
Buyer's Guide: MacBook Pro (Buy Now)

This article, "Apple Acknowledges Issue With Some Entry-Level 2019 13-Inch MacBook Pro Models Unexpectedly Shutting Down" first appeared on MacRumors.com

Discuss this article in our forums

Hands-On With Wireless CarPlay on the Porsche Macan S

Five years after the launch of CarPlay, there are still very few car manufacturers supporting Apple’s in-car platform wirelessly. The main benefit of wireless ‌CarPlay‌ is a nearly seamless experience of having much of your phone’s core functionality available just a fingertip or voice command away on your car’s infotainment system while your phone remains in your pocket.

So far, wireless ‌CarPlay‌ support is largely limited to some premium brands, and Porsche is one of those brands that recently rolled out support for it.

For a taste of that experience, Porsche invited me down to Atlanta for a day to take a look at how wireless ‌CarPlay‌ works hand-in-hand with the native infotainment system on the 2019 Macan S crossover. I also got to spend some time behind the wheel of the Macan S on the track at the Porsche Experience Center and check out the Heritage Gallery, a frequently changing display of some of the most important and collectible vehicles in Porsche’s storied history.

Porsche 914 display in Heritage Gallery

While the Macan is certainly a fun crossover to drive and I had a great time putting it through its paces on the track and the other elements in the Porsche Experience Center, the primary purpose of my trip was to check out the infotainment system and how it works with ‌CarPlay‌.

2019 Porsche Macan S in Mamba Green Metallic

Porsche’s infotainment system is known as Porsche Communication Management (PCM), and as on most cars, it’s the hub for much of the technology you need to interact with on a regular basis. The Macan comes with a 10.9-inch widescreen infotainment display, which allows for terrific integration between ‌CarPlay‌ and the tile-based PCM system.

‌CarPlay‌ home screen integrated with PCM

When active, ‌CarPlay‌ takes over a significant portion of the display, but a top status bar, left-side shortcuts bar, and multiple right-side app tiles remain visible at all times, making it easy to manage both systems simultaneously.

Waze in ‌CarPlay‌

All of the home screen tiles on PCM are configurable, so you can customize things just the way you want, and support for multiple layouts makes it easy to switch between tile sets.

Customizing the PCM home screen layouts

The Macan offers a relatively clean center stack dominated by the widescreen display, with a handy set of hardware buttons and a couple of knobs thankfully making for quick access to a number of important functions merely by feel.

The simplicity of the center stack is made possible due to Porsche’s decision to move the vast majority of hardware controls down to the center console clustered around the gearshift. There are over 30 buttons and switches located down on the center console, including climate control, heated/ventilated seat controls, and various driving mode options. It’s an overwhelming experience when you first sit down in the cockpit, but you quickly discover that many of the important ones should become familiar to find by feel while others are used infrequently enough that their location isn’t an issue for everyday driving.

Macan center console

With available built-in navigation capable of taking over nearly the entire widescreen display, you certainly get an expansive view of what’s around you. The display sits a little lower on the dash than I prefer for visibility, but I’d say it’s about average in this regard.

Widescreen built-in navigation

The persistent top and left status/navigation bars and the hardware buttons make it easy to jump between functions even while enjoying a wide fullscreen experience. A small digital display on the driver’s dashboard can also serve as a configurable supplemental screen for navigation to make it easier to see directions and other vehicle information like audio, phone, settings, and more at a glance.

Driver display

While ‌CarPlay‌ is available on all Macan models, it is not a standard feature. ‌CarPlay‌ support is priced at $360 as a standalone option, or it’s available as part of several premium packages.

The 2019 Macan doesn’t offer wireless charging, but the recently launched 2020 model does include it as an option, allowing for an even more seamless experience. The wireless charger is included in an optional $690 smartphone compartment located in the center console, with the compartment also able to serve as an antenna booster for improved signal strength.

Center console compartment with USB-A ports

If you don’t opt for the wireless charger or just want to plug in your phone, you’ll have two available USB-A ports inside that center console. Two more USB-A charging ports are located on the rear of the console to serve passengers in the back.

Rear USB ports and controls

Wired ‌CarPlay‌ is available across the Porsche lineup, and the company is working on rolling out wireless ‌CarPlay‌ on a number of its models as the infotainment systems get refreshed, and for the 2020 model year, the Macan, Taycan Turbo/Turbo S, and all 911 Carrera variants will offer wireless ‌CarPlay‌.

One of the major points of difficulty with ‌CarPlay‌ is frequently integration with a vehicle’s native infotainment system, as swapping between the two systems or seeing what’s going one while using the other one can be difficult, but Porsche has done a great job making multitasking across PCM and ‌CarPlay‌ nearly seamless. The widescreen display offers plenty of room to show a traditionally sized ‌CarPlay‌ screen while still giving you access to all sorts of menus and information tiles from PCM, all visible at the same time.

To me, this is the best way to take advantage of widescreen displays with ‌CarPlay‌, rather than going to a wide fullscreen ‌CarPlay‌ interface that forces you to exit ‌CarPlay‌ in order to access native infotainment functions. On systems like this whether both ‌CarPlay‌ and the native interface are available simultaneously, you can sometimes run into conflicts where certain native functions like phone and messages are unavailable because they’re currently being handled by ‌CarPlay‌, but with the extensive home screen tile customization available in PCM it’s easy to configure things in just the way you like.

Wireless ‌CarPlay‌ is an extra bonus that really needs to start trickling its way down beyond a small handful of luxury car manufacturers at this point. For short trips where you don’t need or want to bother plugging in your phone, it’s super convenient for ‌CarPlay‌ to simply pop up on the dash even with your phone still in your pocket. The growing prevalence of wireless phone charging in vehicles even lets you top off your phone without needing to worry about cables.

The one major downside with all of this is cost, and ‌CarPlay‌ doesn’t exactly come cheaply on the Macan. As noted above, ‌CarPlay‌ is a $360 option on its own, or it comes as part of some other packages. And if you want wireless phone charging as well, that’s another significant cash outlay since it comes bundled as with the antenna-boosting smartphone compartment. It may not make a huge amount of difference to luxury car buyers already laying out quite a bit of cash for their purchases, but the ability to have your phone’s functions and data conveniently accessible on your car’s dashboard is such a benefit that I can only hope we see a trend toward ‌CarPlay‌ (and Android Auto) support being included standard on an increasing number of vehicles.

Related Roundup: CarPlay

This article, “Hands-On With Wireless CarPlay on the Porsche Macan S” first appeared on MacRumors.com

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Five years after the launch of CarPlay, there are still very few car manufacturers supporting Apple's in-car platform wirelessly. The main benefit of wireless ‌CarPlay‌ is a nearly seamless experience of having much of your phone's core functionality available just a fingertip or voice command away on your car's infotainment system while your phone remains in your pocket.

So far, wireless ‌CarPlay‌ support is largely limited to some premium brands, and Porsche is one of those brands that recently rolled out support for it.

For a taste of that experience, Porsche invited me down to Atlanta for a day to take a look at how wireless ‌CarPlay‌ works hand-in-hand with the native infotainment system on the 2019 Macan S crossover. I also got to spend some time behind the wheel of the Macan S on the track at the Porsche Experience Center and check out the Heritage Gallery, a frequently changing display of some of the most important and collectible vehicles in Porsche's storied history.

Porsche 914 display in Heritage Gallery

While the Macan is certainly a fun crossover to drive and I had a great time putting it through its paces on the track and the other elements in the Porsche Experience Center, the primary purpose of my trip was to check out the infotainment system and how it works with ‌CarPlay‌.

2019 Porsche Macan S in Mamba Green Metallic

Porsche's infotainment system is known as Porsche Communication Management (PCM), and as on most cars, it's the hub for much of the technology you need to interact with on a regular basis. The Macan comes with a 10.9-inch widescreen infotainment display, which allows for terrific integration between ‌CarPlay‌ and the tile-based PCM system.

‌CarPlay‌ home screen integrated with PCM

When active, ‌CarPlay‌ takes over a significant portion of the display, but a top status bar, left-side shortcuts bar, and multiple right-side app tiles remain visible at all times, making it easy to manage both systems simultaneously.

Waze in ‌CarPlay‌

All of the home screen tiles on PCM are configurable, so you can customize things just the way you want, and support for multiple layouts makes it easy to switch between tile sets.

Customizing the PCM home screen layouts

The Macan offers a relatively clean center stack dominated by the widescreen display, with a handy set of hardware buttons and a couple of knobs thankfully making for quick access to a number of important functions merely by feel.

The simplicity of the center stack is made possible due to Porsche's decision to move the vast majority of hardware controls down to the center console clustered around the gearshift. There are over 30 buttons and switches located down on the center console, including climate control, heated/ventilated seat controls, and various driving mode options. It's an overwhelming experience when you first sit down in the cockpit, but you quickly discover that many of the important ones should become familiar to find by feel while others are used infrequently enough that their location isn't an issue for everyday driving.

Macan center console

With available built-in navigation capable of taking over nearly the entire widescreen display, you certainly get an expansive view of what's around you. The display sits a little lower on the dash than I prefer for visibility, but I'd say it's about average in this regard.

Widescreen built-in navigation

The persistent top and left status/navigation bars and the hardware buttons make it easy to jump between functions even while enjoying a wide fullscreen experience. A small digital display on the driver's dashboard can also serve as a configurable supplemental screen for navigation to make it easier to see directions and other vehicle information like audio, phone, settings, and more at a glance.

Driver display

While ‌CarPlay‌ is available on all Macan models, it is not a standard feature. ‌CarPlay‌ support is priced at $360 as a standalone option, or it's available as part of several premium packages.

The 2019 Macan doesn't offer wireless charging, but the recently launched 2020 model does include it as an option, allowing for an even more seamless experience. The wireless charger is included in an optional $690 smartphone compartment located in the center console, with the compartment also able to serve as an antenna booster for improved signal strength.

Center console compartment with USB-A ports

If you don't opt for the wireless charger or just want to plug in your phone, you'll have two available USB-A ports inside that center console. Two more USB-A charging ports are located on the rear of the console to serve passengers in the back.

Rear USB ports and controls

Wired ‌CarPlay‌ is available across the Porsche lineup, and the company is working on rolling out wireless ‌CarPlay‌ on a number of its models as the infotainment systems get refreshed, and for the 2020 model year, the Macan, Taycan Turbo/Turbo S, and all 911 Carrera variants will offer wireless ‌CarPlay‌.

One of the major points of difficulty with ‌CarPlay‌ is frequently integration with a vehicle's native infotainment system, as swapping between the two systems or seeing what's going one while using the other one can be difficult, but Porsche has done a great job making multitasking across PCM and ‌CarPlay‌ nearly seamless. The widescreen display offers plenty of room to show a traditionally sized ‌CarPlay‌ screen while still giving you access to all sorts of menus and information tiles from PCM, all visible at the same time.

To me, this is the best way to take advantage of widescreen displays with ‌CarPlay‌, rather than going to a wide fullscreen ‌CarPlay‌ interface that forces you to exit ‌CarPlay‌ in order to access native infotainment functions. On systems like this whether both ‌CarPlay‌ and the native interface are available simultaneously, you can sometimes run into conflicts where certain native functions like phone and messages are unavailable because they're currently being handled by ‌CarPlay‌, but with the extensive home screen tile customization available in PCM it's easy to configure things in just the way you like.

Wireless ‌CarPlay‌ is an extra bonus that really needs to start trickling its way down beyond a small handful of luxury car manufacturers at this point. For short trips where you don't need or want to bother plugging in your phone, it's super convenient for ‌CarPlay‌ to simply pop up on the dash even with your phone still in your pocket. The growing prevalence of wireless phone charging in vehicles even lets you top off your phone without needing to worry about cables.

The one major downside with all of this is cost, and ‌CarPlay‌ doesn't exactly come cheaply on the Macan. As noted above, ‌CarPlay‌ is a $360 option on its own, or it comes as part of some other packages. And if you want wireless phone charging as well, that's another significant cash outlay since it comes bundled as with the antenna-boosting smartphone compartment. It may not make a huge amount of difference to luxury car buyers already laying out quite a bit of cash for their purchases, but the ability to have your phone's functions and data conveniently accessible on your car's dashboard is such a benefit that I can only hope we see a trend toward ‌CarPlay‌ (and Android Auto) support being included standard on an increasing number of vehicles.

Related Roundup: CarPlay

This article, "Hands-On With Wireless CarPlay on the Porsche Macan S" first appeared on MacRumors.com

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Deals Spotlight: Apple’s iPhone XS Max Smart Battery Case Drops to Just $59 at Amazon

Apple may have just released Smart Battery Cases for the iPhone 11 lineup, but there are plenty of people still using last year’s devices. If you’re an iPhone XS Max owner looking to boost your battery life, Amazon has just dropped the price of Apple’s Smart Battery Case in black to $59, more than 50 percent off of Apple’s $129 list price.


Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Amazon. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running.

The case is currently listed as in stock, but supplies may run out quickly so be sure to take advantage of the deal while it’s available.

For more deals, check out Amazon’s discount on the new AirPods Pro and stay on top of our Deals Roundup and Black Friday Roundup as we hit the holiday shopping season.

This article, “Deals Spotlight: Apple’s iPhone XS Max Smart Battery Case Drops to Just $59 at Amazon” first appeared on MacRumors.com

Discuss this article in our forums

Apple may have just released Smart Battery Cases for the iPhone 11 lineup, but there are plenty of people still using last year's devices. If you're an iPhone XS Max owner looking to boost your battery life, Amazon has just dropped the price of Apple's Smart Battery Case in black to $59, more than 50 percent off of Apple's $129 list price.


Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Amazon. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running.

The case is currently listed as in stock, but supplies may run out quickly so be sure to take advantage of the deal while it's available.

For more deals, check out Amazon's discount on the new AirPods Pro and stay on top of our Deals Roundup and Black Friday Roundup as we hit the holiday shopping season.


This article, "Deals Spotlight: Apple's iPhone XS Max Smart Battery Case Drops to Just $59 at Amazon" first appeared on MacRumors.com

Discuss this article in our forums

VirnetX’s $503 Million Patent Win Over Apple Vacated on Appeal in Mixed Result

A legal battle between Apple and VirnetX that dates back nine years has seen a new development today, with a $503 million judgment from 2018 against Apple for patent infringement vacated by an appeals court and the case sent back to a lower court for reconsideration, reports Reuters.


The result is a mixed one for Apple at this point, with the appeals court finding only a partial reversal in affirming infringement by Apple on two counts and reversing on two other counts. The appeals court is sending the case back to district court to determine whether revised damages against Apple can be calculated or if a new damages trial will have to be held.

The case in question is just one of two involving Apple and VirnetX over communications security patents related to VPN, iMessage, and FaceTime. Apple is currently on the hook for $440 million in the other case, but appeals remain in progress.

Tag: VirnetX

This article, “VirnetX’s $503 Million Patent Win Over Apple Vacated on Appeal in Mixed Result” first appeared on MacRumors.com

Discuss this article in our forums

A legal battle between Apple and VirnetX that dates back nine years has seen a new development today, with a $503 million judgment from 2018 against Apple for patent infringement vacated by an appeals court and the case sent back to a lower court for reconsideration, reports Reuters.


The result is a mixed one for Apple at this point, with the appeals court finding only a partial reversal in affirming infringement by Apple on two counts and reversing on two other counts. The appeals court is sending the case back to district court to determine whether revised damages against Apple can be calculated or if a new damages trial will have to be held.

The case in question is just one of two involving Apple and VirnetX over communications security patents related to VPN, iMessage, and FaceTime. Apple is currently on the hook for $440 million in the other case, but appeals remain in progress.

Tag: VirnetX

This article, "VirnetX's $503 Million Patent Win Over Apple Vacated on Appeal in Mixed Result" first appeared on MacRumors.com

Discuss this article in our forums

AirPods Shipments Expected to Double to 60 Million This Year on Strength of AirPods Pro

Shipments of Apple’s popular AirPods lineup are projected to double to 60 million in 2019, according to Bloomberg. The strong growth is due in part to “much higher” early demand for AirPods Pro than Apple had expected.


The $249 ‌AirPods Pro‌ — which offer noise cancellation and water resistance — have surpassed expectations and demand for them is pushing Apple’s assembly partners against capacity and technical constraints, a person familiar with the matter said. Multiple suppliers are competing for the business of manufacturing the Pro earphones, though some are still building up the technical proficiency.

After a ramp-up in popularity of the original ‌AirPods‌, which debuted in late 2016, Apple has released two updates to the lineup this year, with second-generation ‌AirPods‌ in March and the new ‌AirPods Pro‌ just a few weeks ago.

Apple Watch and ‌AirPods‌ are the two cornerstones of Apple’s push into wearables so far, and both have seen strong growth over the past few years. ‌AirPods‌ are the market leader in true wireless earphones, which are proving popular with consumers. While there are some competitors like Sony and Google already in the market, the launch of Microsoft’s Surface Earbuds has been pushed back until at least March.

Related Roundups: AirPods 2, AirPods Pro

This article, “AirPods Shipments Expected to Double to 60 Million This Year on Strength of AirPods Pro” first appeared on MacRumors.com

Discuss this article in our forums

Shipments of Apple's popular AirPods lineup are projected to double to 60 million in 2019, according to Bloomberg. The strong growth is due in part to "much higher" early demand for AirPods Pro than Apple had expected.

The $249 ‌AirPods Pro‌ -- which offer noise cancellation and water resistance -- have surpassed expectations and demand for them is pushing Appleā€™s assembly partners against capacity and technical constraints, a person familiar with the matter said. Multiple suppliers are competing for the business of manufacturing the Pro earphones, though some are still building up the technical proficiency.
After a ramp-up in popularity of the original ‌AirPods‌, which debuted in late 2016, Apple has released two updates to the lineup this year, with second-generation ‌AirPods‌ in March and the new ‌AirPods Pro‌ just a few weeks ago.

Apple Watch and ‌AirPods‌ are the two cornerstones of Apple's push into wearables so far, and both have seen strong growth over the past few years. ‌AirPods‌ are the market leader in true wireless earphones, which are proving popular with consumers. While there are some competitors like Sony and Google already in the market, the launch of Microsoft's Surface Earbuds has been pushed back until at least March.

Related Roundups: AirPods 2, AirPods Pro

This article, "AirPods Shipments Expected to Double to 60 Million This Year on Strength of AirPods Pro" first appeared on MacRumors.com

Discuss this article in our forums