CES 2020: Apple TV App Debuting on 2020 LG OLED TVs, Coming to 2019 and 2018 Models Later This Year

LG today expanded on last week’s announcement of new 8K OLED TVs with new details on the full lineup of 13 new OLED models, including a new 48-inch size.


Most notably for Apple fans, LG says the new lineup of OLED TVs will include an Apple TV app, letting users access ‌Apple TV‌+, ‌Apple TV‌ channels, and iTunes video content. In addition to the new 2020 models, LG says the app will also be coming to 2019 and 2018 models later this year, although exact details on which models will be getting the app have yet to be shared.

New for 2020, the ‌Apple TV‌ app allows customers to subscribe and watch ‌Apple TV‌+ and ‌Apple TV‌ channels as well as access their iTunes video library and buy or rent more than 100,000 films and TV shows. Customers with 2018 and 2019 LG TV models will also be able to enjoy the ‌Apple TV‌ app this year.

While AirPlay 2 and HomeKit support have rolled out to a number of TV models from LG, Samsung, Sony, and Vizio, the ‌Apple TV‌ app has until now been exclusive to certain 2018 and 2019 Samsung models. The ‌Apple TV‌ app is also available on certain Roku and Amazon Fire TV devices, providing owners of non-Samsung TVs with some alternatives beyond the ‌Apple TV‌ set-top box, but native integration with ‌Apple TV‌ on additional TV brands will be a welcome addition.

Tags: LG, CES 2020

This article, “CES 2020: Apple TV App Debuting on 2020 LG OLED TVs, Coming to 2019 and 2018 Models Later This Year” first appeared on MacRumors.com

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LG today expanded on last week's announcement of new 8K OLED TVs with new details on the full lineup of 13 new OLED models, including a new 48-inch size.


Most notably for Apple fans, LG says the new lineup of OLED TVs will include an Apple TV app, letting users access ‌Apple TV‌+, ‌Apple TV‌ channels, and iTunes video content. In addition to the new 2020 models, LG says the app will also be coming to 2019 and 2018 models later this year, although exact details on which models will be getting the app have yet to be shared.
New for 2020, the ‌Apple TV‌ app allows customers to subscribe and watch ‌Apple TV‌+ and ‌Apple TV‌ channels as well as access their iTunes video library and buy or rent more than 100,000 films and TV shows. Customers with 2018 and 2019 LG TV models will also be able to enjoy the ‌Apple TV‌ app this year.
While AirPlay 2 and HomeKit support have rolled out to a number of TV models from LG, Samsung, Sony, and Vizio, the ‌Apple TV‌ app has until now been exclusive to certain 2018 and 2019 Samsung models. The ‌Apple TV‌ app is also available on certain Roku and Amazon Fire TV devices, providing owners of non-Samsung TVs with some alternatives beyond the ‌Apple TV‌ set-top box, but native integration with ‌Apple TV‌ on additional TV brands will be a welcome addition.

Tags: LG, CES 2020

This article, "CES 2020: Apple TV App Debuting on 2020 LG OLED TVs, Coming to 2019 and 2018 Models Later This Year" first appeared on MacRumors.com

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Apple Pay Celebrates New Year’s With 20% Off Grubhub Orders

Apple today sent out an email advertising its latest Apple Pay promotion, which includes 20 percent off delivery orders from Grubhub through January 1.


The deal is valid when paying via ‌Apple Pay‌ through the Grubhub app and website with promo code CELEBRATE20. The code is one-time use for personal Grubhub accounts and offers a maximum value of $10 on order subtotals before taxes, tips, and fees.

In addition to Grubhub, Apple’s email also promotes other ways to use ‌Apple Pay‌ to “ring in the new year,” including movie tickets on Fandango, hotel deals on HotelTonight, and car rentals through Turo. Finally, Apple notes that it’s the last chance to receive 6 percent back on Apple Store and apple.com purchases when paying with Apple Card through December 31.

This article, “Apple Pay Celebrates New Year’s With 20% Off Grubhub Orders” first appeared on MacRumors.com

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Apple today sent out an email advertising its latest Apple Pay promotion, which includes 20 percent off delivery orders from Grubhub through January 1.


The deal is valid when paying via ‌Apple Pay‌ through the Grubhub app and website with promo code CELEBRATE20. The code is one-time use for personal Grubhub accounts and offers a maximum value of $10 on order subtotals before taxes, tips, and fees.

In addition to Grubhub, Apple's email also promotes other ways to use ‌Apple Pay‌ to "ring in the new year," including movie tickets on Fandango, hotel deals on HotelTonight, and car rentals through Turo. Finally, Apple notes that it's the last chance to receive 6 percent back on Apple Store and apple.com purchases when paying with Apple Card through December 31.


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Deals: Lowest-Ever Prices on Apple Pencil 2 and AirPods Wireless Charging Case

If you’re perhaps looking for an accessory to go with a new holiday gift, a couple of Apple’s more popular ones have received price cuts today to the lowest levels we’ve ever seen in our tracking.


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

Apple Pencil 2

While we saw the Apple Pencil 2 drop to as low as $104.99 for My Best Buy members ahead of the holidays, the iPad Pro accessory has hit a new low of $99.00 at both Amazon and Best Buy, a roughly 25 percent discount from its regular $129.00 price.

The Apple Pencil 2 works with Apple’s latest iPad Pro models introduced in 2018, including the new 11-inch size and the third-generation 12.9-inch model. It magnetically attaches to the side of the iPad Pro, charges wirelessly, and supports customizable double-tap gestures such as switching between drawing tools and bringing up a color palette.

AirPods Wireless Charging Case

Amazon has also discounted the AirPods Wireless Charging Case to just $46.33, an over 40 percent discount compared to the regular price of $79.00. Compatible with both the first- and second-generation AirPods, the standalone case accessory lets you upgrade from the standard case that charges only over a wired Lightning connection to one that also charges wirelessly via a Qi charging mat.

Related Roundup: Apple Deals

This article, “Deals: Lowest-Ever Prices on Apple Pencil 2 and AirPods Wireless Charging Case” first appeared on MacRumors.com

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If you're perhaps looking for an accessory to go with a new holiday gift, a couple of Apple's more popular ones have received price cuts today to the lowest levels we've ever seen in our tracking.


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

Apple Pencil 2


While we saw the Apple Pencil 2 drop to as low as $104.99 for My Best Buy members ahead of the holidays, the iPad Pro accessory has hit a new low of $99.00 at both Amazon and Best Buy, a roughly 25 percent discount from its regular $129.00 price.

The Apple Pencil 2 works with Apple's latest iPad Pro models introduced in 2018, including the new 11-inch size and the third-generation 12.9-inch model. It magnetically attaches to the side of the iPad Pro, charges wirelessly, and supports customizable double-tap gestures such as switching between drawing tools and bringing up a color palette.

AirPods Wireless Charging Case


Amazon has also discounted the AirPods Wireless Charging Case to just $46.33, an over 40 percent discount compared to the regular price of $79.00. Compatible with both the first- and second-generation AirPods, the standalone case accessory lets you upgrade from the standard case that charges only over a wired Lightning connection to one that also charges wirelessly via a Qi charging mat.

Related Roundup: Apple Deals

This article, "Deals: Lowest-Ever Prices on Apple Pencil 2 and AirPods Wireless Charging Case" first appeared on MacRumors.com

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Review: 2019 Nissan Leaf Plus Brings a Bigger Battery to the Popular CarPlay-Equipped EV

Earlier this year, I spent some time in a 2019 Nissan Altima, checking out how CarPlay interfaces with the native NissanConnect infotainment system, and I came away fairly impressed with the flexibility and ease-of-use of NissanConnect and the carmaker’s decision to make ‌CarPlay‌ standard across all trims.

Looking to show off more of its technology and how some of it integrates with iPhones, Nissan recently asked me to take a look at the 2019 Leaf, specifically the Leaf Plus, a new-for-2019 extended-range version of the popular electric vehicle that’s been on the market for nearly a decade.


The base Leaf starts at $30,000 before tax credits that can knock $7,500 off the price, and it comes with a 40 kWh battery that delivers up to 150 miles of range. There are three trims of the regular Leaf, with only the entry-level S model lacking ‌CarPlay‌ support. In fact, that base model comes with a basic 5-inch non-touchscreen display for the infotainment system, so most technology-heavy users will want to step up to at least the second-level SV trim on the regular Leaf.

The Leaf Plus begins at $36,550 before tax credits and upgrades to a 62 kWh battery that offers up to 226 miles of range. The extended-range Plus lineup also comes in three trims, all of which include ‌CarPlay‌ and Android Auto support.


My test vehicle was the top-of-the-line Leaf SL Plus, which checks in at an MSRP of $42,550 before tax credits, with a couple of minor add-ons like floor mats and splash guards pushing my vehicle’s sticker price to just under $44,000. For those looking to squeeze out every last mile of range, it’s worth noting that only the lowest S trim of the Leaf Plus can reach the 226 miles of rated range, with the SV and SL trims dropping back a bit to 215 miles due to some of the additional technology in the car sapping some of the battery’s energy.

All Leaf Plus models come with an 8-inch touchscreen very similar to that I experienced on the Altima, albeit with the hardware buttons located in clusters on either side of the display rather than in a strip below. The 8-inch display is plenty big for showing off NissanConnect and ‌CarPlay‌ making it easy to hit the desired icons on the screen, while the hardware knobs and buttons help you get a few common tasks done more by feel.

Behind the steering wheel, there’s a combination analog speedometer and digital information display, with the display offering a number of different views to suit your preferences, including such features as digital speedometer, compass, and current audio information (including ‌CarPlay‌ track information).


Importantly, all views also include a digital readout of your current battery level and estimated range, as well as a digital power meter to help you understand real-time power consumption and regeneration. One of the customizable views also lets you see the battery temperature, as charging times can vary significantly depending on the temperature of the battery.

My top-level trim naturally came with all of the tech bells and whistles, including Nissan’s Intelligent Around View Monitor for a bird’s eye view of your vehicle, intelligent cruise control, and ProPILOT Assist, which not only helps maintain a safe following distance automatically but also keeps your car centered in the lane, even on curves.

Intelligent Around View Monitor

NissanConnect

I covered NissanConnect and ‌CarPlay‌ in my review of the Altima earlier this year, and the experience on the Leaf is very similar. As on the Altima and most other vehicles, the Leaf’s ‌CarPlay‌ implementation is a wired one, so you’ll need to plug your phone into a USB port.


There is a single USB-A port near the base of the center stack, right next to the start button, and there’s a convenient phone cubby located right below the port. Unfortunately, this is the only USB port included on the Leaf, with nothing in the center console compartment or for rear passengers.

One of up to three customizable NissanConnect home screens

From there, it’s a relatively traditional infotainment experience. The 8-inch touchscreen is bright, with enough color to help individual items on the screen stand out a bit. NissanConnect allows for multiple customizable home screens with shortcuts and informational widgets for functions like the clock, audio, and phone. Unlike the Altima that I tested earlier, my Leaf Plus tester came with built-in navigation that performed well as an alternative to mapping apps available through ‌CarPlay‌.

NissanConnect audio app with ‌CarPlay‌ icon in dock for easy access

‌CarPlay‌

When you plug in your phone and activate ‌CarPlay‌, NissanConnect makes it fairly easy to hop back and forth between the two systems as needed, with a dedicated ‌CarPlay‌ icon in the dock at the bottom of the NissanConnect’s screens. When you’re in ‌CarPlay‌, you can use either the Nissan app icon on the ‌CarPlay‌ home screen or the convenient Home/Menu hardware button to jump back into Nissan Connect.

‌CarPlay‌ home screen

When active, ‌CarPlay‌ takes over the entire display of the infotainment system, and while I do prefer systems that offer at least minimal dual-system function with an app strip or even a small supplemental information screen on a widescreen setup, Nissan’s system certainly isn’t bad. The hardware buttons, steering wheel controls, and driver’s information display all help ease interactions with the systems, whether it be moving between ‌CarPlay‌ and NissanConnect or adjusting/viewing details for one while the other is active on the main screen.

Google Maps in ‌CarPlay‌

EV Features

As an EV, the Leaf has a lot of technology built-in for managing the battery and its charge level. The Leaf has a pair of charging ports located under a cover on the front center of the car. On the right is a standard port that lets you connect a Level 2 charger (220-240V) for normal charging that can give you a full charge in 11-12 hours or a Level 1 charger for trickle charging from a standard 110-120V outlet, although that would take on the order of two and a half days to fully charge the car’s battery.

CHAdeMO quick charge port (left) and standard L1/L2 charging port (right)

On the left is a CHAdeMO quick charge port that lets you use higher-powered chargers often found at public charging stations to recharge to 80 percent in as little as 45 minutes under ideal temperature conditions and when connected to a 100kW quick charger.

One welcome feature of most EVs is the ability to schedule charging, letting users take advantage of cheaper energy rates during certain times of the day if their electric utility charges variable rates, and the schedule can be managed either right in the vehicle after you park it, or from your phone.

App Control

With an EV, your phone can become a crucial tool since you can refuel your car from home or work without needing to stop by a gas station. Your phone gives you nearly instant access to information about your car’s charge level without needing to go out to the vehicle, so you can judge when your car has been fully charged or manage charging right from your phone.

Nissan offers an iOS and Android app to manage much of this from your phone, not only for battery management but for other features like remote start, car finder, plug-in reminders, and climate control remote start/stop so you can be sure your car is comfortable when you hop in. There’s even an Apple Watch app to let you perform most of those functions right from your wrist.


Unfortunately, the app has received many poor reviews from users, with numerous complaints about sluggish response times within the app, difficulty getting a connection to the car that sometimes results in commands failing to register, and other issues. Nissan regularly updates the app with bug fixes, but hopefully a more comprehensive overall is in the works to improve functionality.

NissanConnect EV also integrates with Alexa and Google Assistant to let you check on the car’s status and activate functions with your voice.

A basic set of NissanConnect EV features including remote charge start, remote climate control, and more is complimentary for the first three years of ownership, but there are a couple of paid upgrade tiers that offer additional functionality on 2018 and 2019 Leaf models. A Select tier includes remote lock/unlock, maintenance alerts, and Alexa/Google Assistant support and is priced at $11.99/month after a three-year trial.

A Premium tier adds features like remote horn/lights, valet alert, curfew and speed alerts, automatic collision notification with emergency calling, roadside assistance calls, and stolen vehicle locator. After a free six-month trial, the Premium tier is priced at $8.00/month and requires the Select tier, so once the three-year Select trial ends you’d be paying a total of $19.99/month for the full suite of NissanConnect services.

Wrap-up

Overall, I remain a fan of the NissanConnect infotainment system and the useful combination of hardware and software controls that make it easy to interact with. It plays quite nicely with ‌CarPlay‌ on the large 8-inch screen, and touch response is good.

For an EV where technology is a major focus, though, the phone app integration seems like it really needs some improvement, including app performance and perhaps some additional features like managing the charging schedule rather than limiting remote charge controls to manually starting a charge cycle.

I’d also like to see a bit more connectivity in the car, such as more USB ports or even an option for wireless phone charging. I realize that every power-drawing feature has the potential to impact the range of an EV, and manufacturers are generally trying to eke out every last mile from their batteries, but more and more of these technology features are becoming expected equipment on cars that can hit $30,000 or more like the Leaf Plus.

The Leaf has proven to be a popular EV, and the fact that it is still supported by the full federal EV tax credit makes it a competitive vehicle. The Plus lineup costs a good bit more than the regular version, but pushing the range above 200 miles is a significant improvement to the EV experience and lets even longer distance commuters rely on it for a full day without needing to worry about running low on charge, and makes longer road trips more palatable with fewer charging stops required.

Tag: Nissan

This article, “Review: 2019 Nissan Leaf Plus Brings a Bigger Battery to the Popular CarPlay-Equipped EV” first appeared on MacRumors.com

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Earlier this year, I spent some time in a 2019 Nissan Altima, checking out how CarPlay interfaces with the native NissanConnect infotainment system, and I came away fairly impressed with the flexibility and ease-of-use of NissanConnect and the carmaker's decision to make ‌CarPlay‌ standard across all trims.

Looking to show off more of its technology and how some of it integrates with iPhones, Nissan recently asked me to take a look at the 2019 Leaf, specifically the Leaf Plus, a new-for-2019 extended-range version of the popular electric vehicle that's been on the market for nearly a decade.


The base Leaf starts at $30,000 before tax credits that can knock $7,500 off the price, and it comes with a 40 kWh battery that delivers up to 150 miles of range. There are three trims of the regular Leaf, with only the entry-level S model lacking ‌CarPlay‌ support. In fact, that base model comes with a basic 5-inch non-touchscreen display for the infotainment system, so most technology-heavy users will want to step up to at least the second-level SV trim on the regular Leaf.

The Leaf Plus begins at $36,550 before tax credits and upgrades to a 62 kWh battery that offers up to 226 miles of range. The extended-range Plus lineup also comes in three trims, all of which include ‌CarPlay‌ and Android Auto support.


My test vehicle was the top-of-the-line Leaf SL Plus, which checks in at an MSRP of $42,550 before tax credits, with a couple of minor add-ons like floor mats and splash guards pushing my vehicle's sticker price to just under $44,000. For those looking to squeeze out every last mile of range, it's worth noting that only the lowest S trim of the Leaf Plus can reach the 226 miles of rated range, with the SV and SL trims dropping back a bit to 215 miles due to some of the additional technology in the car sapping some of the battery's energy.

All Leaf Plus models come with an 8-inch touchscreen very similar to that I experienced on the Altima, albeit with the hardware buttons located in clusters on either side of the display rather than in a strip below. The 8-inch display is plenty big for showing off NissanConnect and ‌CarPlay‌ making it easy to hit the desired icons on the screen, while the hardware knobs and buttons help you get a few common tasks done more by feel.

Behind the steering wheel, there's a combination analog speedometer and digital information display, with the display offering a number of different views to suit your preferences, including such features as digital speedometer, compass, and current audio information (including ‌CarPlay‌ track information).


Importantly, all views also include a digital readout of your current battery level and estimated range, as well as a digital power meter to help you understand real-time power consumption and regeneration. One of the customizable views also lets you see the battery temperature, as charging times can vary significantly depending on the temperature of the battery.

My top-level trim naturally came with all of the tech bells and whistles, including Nissan's Intelligent Around View Monitor for a bird's eye view of your vehicle, intelligent cruise control, and ProPILOT Assist, which not only helps maintain a safe following distance automatically but also keeps your car centered in the lane, even on curves.

Intelligent Around View Monitor

NissanConnect


I covered NissanConnect and ‌CarPlay‌ in my review of the Altima earlier this year, and the experience on the Leaf is very similar. As on the Altima and most other vehicles, the Leaf's ‌CarPlay‌ implementation is a wired one, so you'll need to plug your phone into a USB port.


There is a single USB-A port near the base of the center stack, right next to the start button, and there's a convenient phone cubby located right below the port. Unfortunately, this is the only USB port included on the Leaf, with nothing in the center console compartment or for rear passengers.

One of up to three customizable NissanConnect home screens

From there, it's a relatively traditional infotainment experience. The 8-inch touchscreen is bright, with enough color to help individual items on the screen stand out a bit. NissanConnect allows for multiple customizable home screens with shortcuts and informational widgets for functions like the clock, audio, and phone. Unlike the Altima that I tested earlier, my Leaf Plus tester came with built-in navigation that performed well as an alternative to mapping apps available through ‌CarPlay‌.

NissanConnect audio app with ‌CarPlay‌ icon in dock for easy access

‌CarPlay‌


When you plug in your phone and activate ‌CarPlay‌, NissanConnect makes it fairly easy to hop back and forth between the two systems as needed, with a dedicated ‌CarPlay‌ icon in the dock at the bottom of the NissanConnect's screens. When you're in ‌CarPlay‌, you can use either the Nissan app icon on the ‌CarPlay‌ home screen or the convenient Home/Menu hardware button to jump back into Nissan Connect.

‌CarPlay‌ home screen

When active, ‌CarPlay‌ takes over the entire display of the infotainment system, and while I do prefer systems that offer at least minimal dual-system function with an app strip or even a small supplemental information screen on a widescreen setup, Nissan's system certainly isn't bad. The hardware buttons, steering wheel controls, and driver's information display all help ease interactions with the systems, whether it be moving between ‌CarPlay‌ and NissanConnect or adjusting/viewing details for one while the other is active on the main screen.

Google Maps in ‌CarPlay‌


EV Features


As an EV, the Leaf has a lot of technology built-in for managing the battery and its charge level. The Leaf has a pair of charging ports located under a cover on the front center of the car. On the right is a standard port that lets you connect a Level 2 charger (220-240V) for normal charging that can give you a full charge in 11-12 hours or a Level 1 charger for trickle charging from a standard 110-120V outlet, although that would take on the order of two and a half days to fully charge the car's battery.

CHAdeMO quick charge port (left) and standard L1/L2 charging port (right)

On the left is a CHAdeMO quick charge port that lets you use higher-powered chargers often found at public charging stations to recharge to 80 percent in as little as 45 minutes under ideal temperature conditions and when connected to a 100kW quick charger.

One welcome feature of most EVs is the ability to schedule charging, letting users take advantage of cheaper energy rates during certain times of the day if their electric utility charges variable rates, and the schedule can be managed either right in the vehicle after you park it, or from your phone.



App Control


With an EV, your phone can become a crucial tool since you can refuel your car from home or work without needing to stop by a gas station. Your phone gives you nearly instant access to information about your car's charge level without needing to go out to the vehicle, so you can judge when your car has been fully charged or manage charging right from your phone.

Nissan offers an iOS and Android app to manage much of this from your phone, not only for battery management but for other features like remote start, car finder, plug-in reminders, and climate control remote start/stop so you can be sure your car is comfortable when you hop in. There's even an Apple Watch app to let you perform most of those functions right from your wrist.


Unfortunately, the app has received many poor reviews from users, with numerous complaints about sluggish response times within the app, difficulty getting a connection to the car that sometimes results in commands failing to register, and other issues. Nissan regularly updates the app with bug fixes, but hopefully a more comprehensive overall is in the works to improve functionality.

NissanConnect EV also integrates with Alexa and Google Assistant to let you check on the car's status and activate functions with your voice.

A basic set of NissanConnect EV features including remote charge start, remote climate control, and more is complimentary for the first three years of ownership, but there are a couple of paid upgrade tiers that offer additional functionality on 2018 and 2019 Leaf models. A Select tier includes remote lock/unlock, maintenance alerts, and Alexa/Google Assistant support and is priced at $11.99/month after a three-year trial.

A Premium tier adds features like remote horn/lights, valet alert, curfew and speed alerts, automatic collision notification with emergency calling, roadside assistance calls, and stolen vehicle locator. After a free six-month trial, the Premium tier is priced at $8.00/month and requires the Select tier, so once the three-year Select trial ends you'd be paying a total of $19.99/month for the full suite of NissanConnect services.

Wrap-up


Overall, I remain a fan of the NissanConnect infotainment system and the useful combination of hardware and software controls that make it easy to interact with. It plays quite nicely with ‌CarPlay‌ on the large 8-inch screen, and touch response is good.

For an EV where technology is a major focus, though, the phone app integration seems like it really needs some improvement, including app performance and perhaps some additional features like managing the charging schedule rather than limiting remote charge controls to manually starting a charge cycle.

I'd also like to see a bit more connectivity in the car, such as more USB ports or even an option for wireless phone charging. I realize that every power-drawing feature has the potential to impact the range of an EV, and manufacturers are generally trying to eke out every last mile from their batteries, but more and more of these technology features are becoming expected equipment on cars that can hit $30,000 or more like the Leaf Plus.

The Leaf has proven to be a popular EV, and the fact that it is still supported by the full federal EV tax credit makes it a competitive vehicle. The Plus lineup costs a good bit more than the regular version, but pushing the range above 200 miles is a significant improvement to the EV experience and lets even longer distance commuters rely on it for a full day without needing to worry about running low on charge, and makes longer road trips more palatable with fewer charging stops required.

Tag: Nissan

This article, "Review: 2019 Nissan Leaf Plus Brings a Bigger Battery to the Popular CarPlay-Equipped EV" first appeared on MacRumors.com

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Review: CalDigit’s Tuff Nano Portable SSD Offers Fast Speeds in a Compact Package

CalDigit is a popular maker of docks, external storage, and other accessories that work well with Apple’s ecosystem, and the company recently released a new Tuff nano external solid-state drive that packs blazing-fast transfer speeds into a tiny package.

I don’t have a huge need for external storage with my MacBook Pro, but when I have needed it I’ve used CalDigit’s previous Tuff SSD, which I reviewed a couple of years ago. The original Tuff was available in both SSD and traditional hard disk versions, with the hard disks offering greater capacity at slower speeds while the SSDs offered faster speeds but with lower capacities and higher prices.


The cost of SSDs has come down over the past couple of years as the drive modules have also gotten smaller, and CalDigit has taken advantage of those advances to create the Tuff nano.

The Tuff nano is currently available only in a 512 GB version priced at $150, and while it’s big enough to back up my entire ‌MacBook Pro‌, some power users may want more. Regardless, when you need speedy data transfers in a compact form factor, it’s a great option, and CalDigit is planning to launch a 1 TB version late in the first quarter of next year (pricing to be announced closer to launch), so you might want to hold out for that if you need a bit more storage space.


The Tuff nano is built for the road, with the compact size easily fitting in a pocket or bag and the SSD offering great shock protection. The drive casing is made of aluminum to help dissipate heat, but the whole thing is wrapped in a silicone bumper to protect everything against drops of up to three meters.

The silicone bumper also has a tab that fits over the drive’s USB-C port, helping give the Tuff nano IP67 water and dust resistance, meaning it is fully dust tight and can stand up to immersion in water up to one meter deep for up to 30 minutes. The tab seemed a little bit finicky in getting it to firmly seal the USB-C port, so make sure you double-check that it’s seated properly before potentially exposing the Tuff nano to liquids.

The Tuff nano comes in a selection of four bumper colors (Tomato Red, Olive Green, Royal Blue, and Charcoal Black), letting you choose your favorite if you only need one drive, or easily differentiate between multiple drives. The whole thing also comes in a plastic archive case measuring around four inches (10 cm) square by a little over 0.75 inches (2 cm) thick that fits both the drive and the included short 0.25-meter USB-C to USB-C and USB-C to USB-A cables that come with the drive.


The Tuff nano itself measures just three inches (7.6 cm) long by a little over two inches (5.5 cm) wide and just over half an inch (1.5 cm) thick, including the bumper. The drive weighs only 2.6 ounces (74 grams).

Moving on to performance, the Tuff nano maximizes speed by using a Toshiba M.2 NVMe PCIe SSD over a 10 Gbps USB-C connection, which CalDigit says offers read speeds of up to 1055 MB/s.

In my testing with the Tuff nano connected directly to a 2016 15-inch ‌MacBook Pro‌, I didn’t quite reach that level, but it was still plenty fast, yielding read speeds of 920 MB/s and write speeds of around 765 MB/s. Compare that to the original Tuff connected to the same machine, which maxed out with read speeds of just over 500 MB/s and write speeds around 485 MB/s.


That also makes the Tuff nano faster than Samsung’s popular T5 portable SSD, although the T5 is a little bit smaller and definitely cheaper per gigabyte than the Tuff nano, with Samsung rumored to be preparing a new T7 successor. Another competitor is SanDisk’s new Extreme Pro Portable SSD, which offers similar speeds to the Tuff nano at solid pricing but in a somewhat larger form factor that also lacks the Tuff nano’s water and dust resistance.

The Tuff nano comes formatted in HFS+ for macOS and can be connected directly to an iPad Pro over USB-C. For use on Windows, you’ll need to reformat the Tuff nano. Similarly, it should work with many Android phones, provided it’s formatted in exFAT or FAT32.


CalDigit clearly views the Tuff nano as the future of its highly portable SSD lineup, as it has reduced its original Tuff offerings to just the 2 TB hard disk model, and even that appears to be running low on stock, so it would not be surprising if that disappears entirely in the not too distant future.

The Tuff nano is an early entrant in the next generation of portable SSDs that are taking advantage of NVMe-to-USB technology to deliver blazing-fast data transfer speeds with versatile connectivity, and they’re a welcome advance in portability and performance. CalDigit has blended a strong set of features, including fast speeds, a compact design, and excellent water and shock resistance, all at a reasonable price point to provide convenient on-the-go storage for a variety of users.

This article, “Review: CalDigit’s Tuff Nano Portable SSD Offers Fast Speeds in a Compact Package” first appeared on MacRumors.com

Discuss this article in our forums

CalDigit is a popular maker of docks, external storage, and other accessories that work well with Apple's ecosystem, and the company recently released a new Tuff nano external solid-state drive that packs blazing-fast transfer speeds into a tiny package.

I don't have a huge need for external storage with my MacBook Pro, but when I have needed it I've used CalDigit's previous Tuff SSD, which I reviewed a couple of years ago. The original Tuff was available in both SSD and traditional hard disk versions, with the hard disks offering greater capacity at slower speeds while the SSDs offered faster speeds but with lower capacities and higher prices.


The cost of SSDs has come down over the past couple of years as the drive modules have also gotten smaller, and CalDigit has taken advantage of those advances to create the Tuff nano.

The Tuff nano is currently available only in a 512 GB version priced at $150, and while it's big enough to back up my entire ‌MacBook Pro‌, some power users may want more. Regardless, when you need speedy data transfers in a compact form factor, it's a great option, and CalDigit is planning to launch a 1 TB version late in the first quarter of next year (pricing to be announced closer to launch), so you might want to hold out for that if you need a bit more storage space.


The Tuff nano is built for the road, with the compact size easily fitting in a pocket or bag and the SSD offering great shock protection. The drive casing is made of aluminum to help dissipate heat, but the whole thing is wrapped in a silicone bumper to protect everything against drops of up to three meters.

The silicone bumper also has a tab that fits over the drive's USB-C port, helping give the Tuff nano IP67 water and dust resistance, meaning it is fully dust tight and can stand up to immersion in water up to one meter deep for up to 30 minutes. The tab seemed a little bit finicky in getting it to firmly seal the USB-C port, so make sure you double-check that it's seated properly before potentially exposing the Tuff nano to liquids.

The Tuff nano comes in a selection of four bumper colors (Tomato Red, Olive Green, Royal Blue, and Charcoal Black), letting you choose your favorite if you only need one drive, or easily differentiate between multiple drives. The whole thing also comes in a plastic archive case measuring around four inches (10 cm) square by a little over 0.75 inches (2 cm) thick that fits both the drive and the included short 0.25-meter USB-C to USB-C and USB-C to USB-A cables that come with the drive.


The Tuff nano itself measures just three inches (7.6 cm) long by a little over two inches (5.5 cm) wide and just over half an inch (1.5 cm) thick, including the bumper. The drive weighs only 2.6 ounces (74 grams).

Moving on to performance, the Tuff nano maximizes speed by using a Toshiba M.2 NVMe PCIe SSD over a 10 Gbps USB-C connection, which CalDigit says offers read speeds of up to 1055 MB/s.

In my testing with the Tuff nano connected directly to a 2016 15-inch ‌MacBook Pro‌, I didn't quite reach that level, but it was still plenty fast, yielding read speeds of 920 MB/s and write speeds of around 765 MB/s. Compare that to the original Tuff connected to the same machine, which maxed out with read speeds of just over 500 MB/s and write speeds around 485 MB/s.


That also makes the Tuff nano faster than Samsung's popular T5 portable SSD, although the T5 is a little bit smaller and definitely cheaper per gigabyte than the Tuff nano, with Samsung rumored to be preparing a new T7 successor. Another competitor is SanDisk's new Extreme Pro Portable SSD, which offers similar speeds to the Tuff nano at solid pricing but in a somewhat larger form factor that also lacks the Tuff nano's water and dust resistance.

The Tuff nano comes formatted in HFS+ for macOS and can be connected directly to an iPad Pro over USB-C. For use on Windows, you'll need to reformat the Tuff nano. Similarly, it should work with many Android phones, provided it's formatted in exFAT or FAT32.


CalDigit clearly views the Tuff nano as the future of its highly portable SSD lineup, as it has reduced its original Tuff offerings to just the 2 TB hard disk model, and even that appears to be running low on stock, so it would not be surprising if that disappears entirely in the not too distant future.

The Tuff nano is an early entrant in the next generation of portable SSDs that are taking advantage of NVMe-to-USB technology to deliver blazing-fast data transfer speeds with versatile connectivity, and they're a welcome advance in portability and performance. CalDigit has blended a strong set of features, including fast speeds, a compact design, and excellent water and shock resistance, all at a reasonable price point to provide convenient on-the-go storage for a variety of users.


This article, "Review: CalDigit's Tuff Nano Portable SSD Offers Fast Speeds in a Compact Package" first appeared on MacRumors.com

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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.


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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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

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

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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

Discuss this article in our forums

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

Discuss this article in our forums

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