Comment: Spotify HiFi could be the butt kick Apple needs

In his newsroom writes Spotify: “High quality music streaming is always one of the most requested new features by our users.” … and provides “Premium subscribers in selected markets” prospect of being able to upgrade the playback quality to “Spotify HiFi” in the course of the year. Implicitly at no extra charge, but that remains to be seen.

First of all, based on current knowledge, this means that Spotify will offer its catalog in “CD quality”, which corresponds to 16bit / 44.1kHz and a data rate between about 700kbps (lossless compressed) to 1,411kbps (uncompressed CD quality). This is not what is commonly referred to as “HiRes” (High Resolution). This means everything above CD quality. Compared to the previous Spotify streaming offer with lossy compressed transmission (Ogg Vorbis) with 320kbps, CD quality is an important and, in the right environment, a clearly audible leap in quality.

In times of video streaming in HD or even 4K UHD with HDR, the available internet bandwidth has long ceased to be an argument to limit music streaming to highly compressed data rates, like Spotify and also Apple Music do it so far. At least not in the home WiFi with flat-rate internet. If you have a limited data volume, you should at least choose a lower resolution when you are out and about, possibly also compressed with loss.

But why do the big providers Spotify and Apple limit the data rate so much instead of at least offering CD quality (or higher)? The answer to this is quite simple: Because you don’t have to, because for most users it is simply enough and they don’t complain. Those users who seriously want more and who by no means want to be satisfied with Apple’s or Spotify’s quality – a comparatively small minority – have long since turned to other services such as Qobuz or Tidal who have been making their catalog available in CD quality for a long time and at least to a certain extent also stream in HiRes with up to 24bit / 192kHz. An estimated 80-90% of the offer is limited to CD quality even with these providers. At Qobuz, however, there has recently been a clearly increasing tendency towards more HiRes. Most of the rest of the users live well with what the big providers deliver to them and will probably only be happy about a higher quality when they experience it for the first time. Be it on your own loudspeakers at home or with friends with a better playback system.

For users who stream music with common lifestyle or smart speakers such as the HomePod or mobile with the iPhone and Bluetooth headphones, the lossy compressed data stream is otherwise still sufficient. Playback in CD quality or higher is largely superfluous because, for example, the wireless Bluetooth transmission itself works with lossy data compression. Although many smart speakers theoretically offer the transmission options for CD quality (e.g. via AirPlay), they can hardly be heard due to other technical / acoustic limitations.

Bluetooth headphones such as Apple’s AirPods Max (see review) hardly benefit from CD quality or HiRes streaming due to the Bluetooth limitation.

Nonetheless, the demands of a not inconsiderable number of users have grown over the years, so that CD quality – something that has been technically possible since the early 1980s – should finally also become standard for streaming offers. Spotify is currently said to have almost 300 million subscribers. Apple Music is likely to have around 80 million users today. This means that Spotify and Apple serve far more customers than all other providers combined. At least some users of the upcoming Spotify HiFi offer will get to know and appreciate the higher sound quality in practice. Even if that’s only 5% of Spotify users, that would still be a significant number of users. Much more than, for example, the user base of Qobuz or Tidal.

This is good news for the hi-fi industry because it should fuel the demand for better playback systems. Apple is less affected in this regard because the iPhone manufacturer does not offer audio components with a correspondingly higher playback quality. Even the AirPods Max are irrelevant in this regard because of their limitation to Bluetooth. And yet the call for higher streaming quality could also get louder in the Apple camp. If only because the lawn next door always appears greener than your own.

In order not to end up alone in the hallway with an exclusively highly compressed range of music, Apple might ultimately have no choice but to do the same with Spotify. – Better late than never!


How to Automatically Change iPhone Wallpaper

Changing the lock screen and home screen wallpapers on your iPhone or iPad requires using the Settings app. Wouldn’t it be great if you could change your wallpaper automatically, with just one tap? With wallpaper automation now available in iOS 14.3 and iPadOS 14.3, you can do just that. In this tutorial, we’ll show you how to use a custom workflow in the Apple Shortcuts app to automate changing your wallpaper with a single tap of a home screen icon.

How to Automatically Change iPhone or iPad Wallpaper with One Touch

This step-by-step tutorial will teach you how to use a simple third-party script that takes advantage of a new wallpaper automation feature in Apple’s Shortcuts app. This will allow you to change the wallpaper on your iPhone or iPad simply by tapping an icon on your home screen. If your device is not using iOS 14.3+, the shortcut will do nothing. iOS and iPadOS 14.3 are currently being tested with developers and will be released publicly later this year.

Allow untrusted shortcuts

Because we are using a third-party script for the Shortcuts app instead of Apple’s own, we need to allow untrusted shortcuts on your device first.

  1. Open the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Choose “Shortcuts” from the list.
  3. Slide the switch next to “Allow untrusted shortcuts” to the OFF position.

Now the Shortcuts app will allow you to import third party scripts.

Adding wallpapers to a photo album

Our custom shortcut expects to find wallpaper images in a custom album that we are going to create in Apple’s Stock Photos app.

  1. Open Photos on your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Tap “Library” at the bottom.
  3. Press the “Select” button.
  4. Touch all the images you want to use as wallpapers.
  5. Press the Share icon, then choose “Add to album” and select your album “Wallpaper” in Photos.

Now you should have a new album in Photos, called Wallpaper, containing all the images you want to use for the wallpaper rotation in our custom shortcut.

Import shortcut

With the Shortcuts app set to accept untrusted shortcuts and our Wallpaper ready album in Photos, we will now import our custom shortcut that does all the magic.

  1. Open the Safari browser on your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Using Safari, go to this link.
  3. Touch the “Get Shortcut” button.
  4. Scroll down and hit the “Add untrusted shortcut” option.

The shortcut will be imported into the “My Shortcuts” section of the application shortcuts.

Permission to use photos

Since this is a third-party shortcut, you need permission to access your photo library.

  1. Open the shortcut app on your iPhone or iPad
  2. Tap “My Shortcuts” at the bottom.
  3. In the “My Shortcuts” section, tap the three dots in the upper right corner of the “Wallpaper” shortcut.
  4. Press “Allow access” at the bottom, just below the message “This shortcut does not have access to your photos”, then press OK to confirm the operation.

Our custom script can now access Photos content.

If you see a message at the bottom of the shortcut details screen that says “this action could not be found in this version of Shortcuts”, along with an “Update Shortcuts” button, you are using an iOS version or iPadOS that is older than 14.3 and this script will not work for you.

Don’t bother tapping the “Update Shortcuts” option because doing so will simply take you to the Software Update screen in Settings. If you are not on iOS 14.3 or iPadOS 14.3, then you will have to wait until Apple releases these software updates for public consumption.

Add the shortcut to the home screen to be able to automatically change the wallpaper

Lastly, we’ll create a homescreen icon for our custom wallpaper script so that we can run it by tapping on the icon instead of having to navigate to it within the shortcuts app.

  1. Open the Shortcuts app on your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Tap “My Shortcuts” at the bottom.
  3. Long press on the makeshift wallpaper shortcut and then choose “Share” from the pop-up menu.
  4. Select “Add to Home Screen.”

Customize the home screen name and icon for the shortcut, then tap “Add”.

You have now created a homescreen icon for your Wallpaper shortcut.

Use the shortcut to automatically change the wallpaper of your iPhone or iPad

With everything set up and ready to go, we can now use this shortcut. Thanks to the shortcut home screen icon and changes Apple has made to the Shortcuts app on iOS and iPadOS 14.3, our shortcut runs silently, without showing you the Shortcuts app first.

So now every time you tap on the Wallpaper icon on your iPhone or iPad home screen, it will change your wallpaper using the images from your wallpaper album in Photos.

Previously, you had to go to the section dedicated to the wallpaper in Settings and press the option to choose a new wallpaper. You would then browse your photo library to find the correct image. As you can see, our custom script replaces this multi-step process and is much more elegant.


iMac Pro: Apple will not give more configuration options and will be sold while supplies last

The iMac Pro It is the professional and most expensive version, and after only seven months since its last update Apple announced that it has removed all its configuration options. In this way, the Cupertino company will now only market a model, with the possibility of modifying it and at a fixed price while supplies last.

Apple says goodbye to the iMac Pro?

Apple recently posted on its store that the iMac Pro will be sold “while supplies last.” In addition, the Cupertino company eliminated all possibility of updating and configuration, leaving only a standard version at a fixed value of 5,499 Euros.

In this way, the iMac Pro can not only be achieved with a predetermined configuration, but also, once the last of the devices is exhausted, it will no longer be available. The professional version of iMac was released in 2017, and since then it has not received any substantial hardware update during its existence.

The iMac Pro will be marketed, currently and while supplies last, with an Intel Xeon W 10-core 3GHz processor, 32GB of RAM and 1TB of internal SSD storage. On the other hand, it will include a dedicated Radeon Pro Vega 56 graphics card with 8 GB of dedicated video memory, an 8 GB Ethernet port and four Thunderbolt 3 ports.

Apple’s suggestions

Beyond the announcement of the possible end of the iMac Pro, Apple gave some alternatives for professional iMac users. The Cupertino company proposes to its followers to acquire the latest 27-inch iMac, presented in August 2020.

The 27-inch iMac features a 5K display with True Tone, with a nano-textured glass option; And it will be available with configurations up to: a 10-core 10-core Intel Core i9 processor, 128GB of RAM, 8TB of internal storage, and up to an AMD Radeon Pro 5700 XT graphics card. Plus, you’ll have a 10 Gigabit Ethernet option, a higher resolution 1080p camera, upgraded speakers and microphones, and many more settings.

On the other hand, the company indicated that customers who need even more performance, power and expandability can opt for the Mac Pro. Notably, while Apple currently recommends the 27-inch iMac based on an Intel processor, rumors indicate that the company could launch a redesigned iMac with a next-generation Apple Silicon chipset.


Apple is discontinuing the iMac Pro – can still be ordered while stocks last

On the occasion of the Worldwide Developers Conference 2017, Apple presented the iMac Pro. The design was similar to the normal iMac, but the professional model came in the color space gray. The innards of the iMac Pro, however, did not resemble the normal iMac: Apple uses 8, 10, 12 or 14 or 18-core Xeon processors from Intel as well as AMD Vega graphics cards. In August 2020, Apple canceled the 8-core version – the new base model comes with a 10-core Xeon chip.

“While stocks last”
But the iMac Pro hasn’t been updated since it was launched – and there have been some rumors lately that Apple will be discontinuing the iMac Pro. Now Apple has made a change in the Apple Store, which will likely mean the end of the iMac Pro. There is only one model left to order – and this with the note “As long as stocks last”:

The still available model comes with a 3.0 GHz 10 ‑ core Intel Xeon W processor, 32 GB RAM and 1 TB SSD and a Radeon Pro Vega 56 with 8 GB HBM2 graphics memory. Other configuration options are no longer available. Apple implemented the change in all Apple online stores worldwide – the same information can be found in Germany, the USA, Canada and the UK. Apple specifies a delivery time of 14-21 days for the € 5,499 “remaining stock model”.

Setting because of M1-Macs?
It is rumored that Apple will shortly be introducing new iMac models with Apple’s M1 chips in order to replace the Intel-based models here as well. It can be assumed that the upcoming M1 iMacs will have equally impressive performance values ​​as the M1 Mac mini or the MacBook Air with M1 – and will outshine the current iMac Pro. The 2020 M1 Mac mini already overtook an iMac Pro with a 10-core Xeon processor in the MTN test. Therefore, there should be no reason for Apple to keep the iMac Pro in the program if the normal iMacs already outperform it.

Probably not a replacement
It is quite safe to assume that Apple is not planning a new model of the iMac Pro in the near future – the market is likely to be too small and the development effort too high. But even if Apple does plan a new model, it will no longer be an Intel-based model, but an iMac Pro with Apple’s own chips. But Apple does not yet have its own processors on offer that have the CPU performance of the high-end models of the Mac Pro or iMac Pro.


The $ 500 for the Development Kit is already starting to be received

When Apple was planning to launch the new M1 Macs, it loaned developers a specific kit for testing. That kit consisted of a new Mac mini with M1 specifically for them. So that they could do the necessary tests in order to improve the applications and software. After some doubt on the part of Apple, the return of the money, the $ 500, that they had to put has already started to occur.

$ 500 in a voucher for the entire Apple store is what Apple is handing out to developers

Apple recently released a communication addressed to all developers who were in possession of a development kit. In it, they were asked to return them before March 31. We are still in time to proceed with the return, but some developers have begun shipping that Mac mini with A12Z chip, 16 GB of RAM and a 512 GB SSD to the company. And they have already started receive the promised $ 500.

Developers are receiving a one-time promo code which unlocks $ 500 of credit that can be used for any product from the online Apple Store.

In appreciation of your participation in the Universal App Quick Start program and to help with their continued development From Universal Apps, we would like to provide you with a one-time $ 500 promo code toward the purchase of a new M1 Mac or other Apple products ordered through the Apple Store Online.

After the controversy that arose, it is not bad that Apple delivers on its promise. At first it seems that Apple was not going to give those $ 500 to the developers who had participated in the process. However, he soon rectified and immediately said otherwise. Now we see how the established is fulfilled and that these developers can receive that promo code.

Keep in mind that thanks to them, developers, many of the applications work as well as they do now and with the newer processors. In addition, many elements of the macOS Big Sur software work this way because of the opinions of the developers. They deserve that $ 500. Of course.


Government of India threatens Twitter employees

Today, a new report from The Wall Street Journal says that the Indian government is threatening to jail employees of Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter. This comes as the gap between Indian officials and social media companies continues to grow.

Indian government threatens to jail big tech employees

The report provides some background on the situation in India:

The warnings are in direct response to tech companies’ reluctance to comply with the data; and the government’s withdrawal requests related to protests by Indian farmers that have made international headlines, people say.

Though the threats mark an escalation in India’s efforts to pressure US tech companies. All at a time when those companies hope to grow into the second most populous nation in the world in the coming years.

According to two people familiar with the warnings; the report explains that “some of the written warnings cite specific India-based employees at risk of arrest if companies fail to comply” with the data and recall requests.

Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp issued their own statements on the situation:

A WhatsApp spokesperson said the company complies with data requests that are “consistent with internationally recognized standards; including human rights, due process and the rule of law ”. A Facebook spokesperson said the company “responds to government requests for data in accordance with applicable law and our terms of service.”

If Twitter “will continue to advocate for the fundamental principles of the Open Internet.” A company spokesperson said, adding: “Threats to these principles are on the rise around the world, which is of deep concern.”

Additionally, other Facebook data indicates that the company has complied with half of the Indian government’s withdrawal requests. Twitter has fulfilled 1% of those requests, its data shows. Although WhatsApp messages are encrypted. So they can’t be read by third parties, but that hasn’t stopped regulators from requesting the data anyway.