Apple Maps update

Apple Maps got a server-side update today for users in the United States, promising improvements with Apple’s pre-existing Maps client apps.

  • better maps and navigation
  • Favorites, Collections and sharing (including ETA)
  • “Look Around” and “Flyover” for some cities with “interactive streel-level imagery with high-resolution 3D photography”
  • real-time transit information for selected cities
  • “Flight status uses on-device Siri intelligence to scan for information stored in Mail, Calendar or Wallet and proactively serves flight information for terminals, gate locations and departure times, as well as flight changes or cancellations for upcoming travel.”

Apple also claims privacy protections as a competitive advantage:

With Maps, no sign-in is required and it is not connected to an Apple ID in any way. Personalized features, such as suggesting departure time to make the next appointment, are created using on-device intelligence. Any data collected by Maps while using the app, like search terms, navigation routing and traffic information, is associated with random identifiers that continually reset to ensure the best possible experience and to improve Maps. Maps goes even further to obscure a user’s location on Apple servers when searching for a location through a process called “fuzzing.” Maps converts the precise location where the search originated to a less-exact one after 24 hours and does not retain a history of what has been searched or where a user has been.

There is an Apple support document for Maps problems:

If the Maps app isn’t working on your Apple device
If you can’t find your location or you notice incorrect results while using Maps on your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or Mac, learn what to do.

Belkin PCIe Power Cable Kit for 2019 Mac Pro

PCIe Power Cable Kit for Mac Pro is a collection of six cables from Belkin International Inc. for bridging power connectors in Apple’s 2019 Mac Pro to third-party PCIe cards with auxiliary power requirements, such as many graphics cards. Belkin promises “no excess cable length” and “high-quality construction.”

  • PCle Aux Power Cable 8 pin to dual 6 pin (one)
  • PCle Aux Power Cable 6 pin to 6 pin (one)
  • PCle Aux Power Cable 8 pin to 6+2 pin (four)

PCIe Power Cable Kit for Mac Pro is priced at $69.99 and sold by Apple. (Amazon and others have a wide variety of similar cables at lower prices.)

DxO PhotoLab

DxO PhotoLab is cross-platform image-processing software from DxO Labs that includes features for non-destructive editing, raw conversion, denoising, moiré removal, exposure and color correction, “smart” exposure optimization (with face detection), haze removal, and selective tone controls, batch processing, distortion correction based on profiles for thousands of lens/body combinations, local adjustments via “U Point” control points, “smart assistants”, a “DxO PhotoLibrary” for organizing and searching images, and more. (See DXO tutorials for more details.)

DxO PhotoLab 3 is available in Essential and Elite editions for macOS 10.13 and up (or Windows) priced at $129/$199 (with two/three activations), respectively, and there’s a 30-day trial available. The latest updates include a new repair tool.

Nik Collection

Nik Collection is a set of cross-platform photo processing plug-ins from DxO Labs (which acquired them from Google after Google had acquired Nik Software).

The collection consists of includes seven separate plug-ins for use with Adobe Photoshop, Photoshop Elements and Lightroom: Dfine for “noise reduction tailored to your camera”, Sharpener Pro for image sharpening, Viveza to “selectively adjust the color and tonality of your images”, Silver Efex Pro for processing black-and-white images (dynamics and grain with emulation of popular films), Color Efex Pro “for color correction, retouching, and creative effects”, Analog Efex Pro for the “look and feel of classic cameras, films, and lenses” and HDR Efex Pro for HDR processing.

Nik Collection 2.3 is priced at $149 for macOS 10.12 and up, and Windows, with a 30-day trial. The software functions as a plug-in for Photoshop, Lightroom, and “DxO PhotoLab 2 Essential Edition, our new standalone host launcher for Nik Collection 2.”

The latest version brings macOS Catalina compatibility and a number of other features, including “150 creative filters, local adjustments on RAW files, support for HiDPI displays, and DxO’s advanced optical correction tools.”

LiveCode

LiveCode is a cross-platform, open-source, visual, rapid development system that provides authoring on Windows, Mac or Linux systems and deployment of apps, royalty-free, across Mac, iOS, Android, Windows, Linux, Raspberry Pi, web servers, and HTML5 web apps. It has strong similarities in design and programming to Bill Atkinson’s brilliantly revolutionary HyperCard for early Macs but is much more powerful.

LiveCode can open HyperCard stacks (though you may need an older LiveCode version to do it, and the stacks may need changes to function and look the way they did before). LiveCode guides, lessons, and dictionary offer more details.

LiveCode 9.5.1 is the latest “stable” download for OS X 10.10 through 10.13+, as well as Windows and Linux. (Earlier versions support PowerPC and Intel Macs back to Mac OS X 10.5).

LiveCode licensing options range from the free, open-source Community license through several commercial versions with support for closed-source apps and additional support. There’s also a 10-day trial available.

LiveCode for FileMaker (“LCFM Native”) promises to convert FileMaker applications into native smartphone apps. (Pricing depends on several different factors.)

Our new tool lets you take an existing FileMaker layout, run it through the compiler, use built-in LiveCode functionality to augment your app with native functionality and deploy it as a native app. For example take a FileMaker Go or Desktop layout and convert it to become a native Android app. Presto, your FileMaker solution is now a native Android app. And still talking to FileMaker.

MuseScore

MuseScore is a professional music notation program that’s cross-platform and open-source. In addition to a full set of notation and formatting feature, text support, and MIDI import/conversion, MuseScore offers playback capabilities with a mixer, MIDI output, synthesizer, and SoundFont samples. For getting started, there’s a Startup Wizard Tour feature along with a library of video tutorials. Other features include support for MusicXML files, early music, fretboard diagrams, keyboard shortcuts, and much more. (See the MuseScore 3 Handbook for more information.)

MuseScore 3.4.1 is freely downloadable open-source donationware for macOS 10.12 and later, plus Linux, Windows, and additional platforms.

SoundSource

SoundSource is a Mac menubar app from Rogue Amoeba Software Inc. that can control audio on a “per-app basis” – volume, output device, EQ, effects, etc., along with keyboard shortcuts and a new “smart volume overdrive” feature, Bluetooth battery information for AirPods, AirPods Pro, and Beats devices and more.

SoundSource 4.2.1 is priced at $29 for macOS 10.12 and up with a free demo download available. The latest releases include full macOS Catalina support.

Apple software/security updates

Apple issued bug fixes, software and security updates today for the Mac, mobile and media systems that it still supports (which no longer include macOS 10.12 Sierra nor anything earlier), plus Apple Windows software:

Apple’s downloads page is often out of date and misleading, but there’s at least a bit more information about bug fixes and downloads available elsewhere, if you search hard enough:

    Apple financials

    Apple reported its most recent quarterly financial results today, with a press release touting quarterly revenue of $91.8 billion with earnings per share of $4.99.

    “Our very strong business performance drove an all-time net income record of $22.2 billion and generated operating cash flow of $30.5 billion,” said Luca Maestri, Apple’s CFO. “We also returned nearly $25 billion to shareholders during the quarter, including $20 billion in share repurchases and $3.5 billion in dividends and equivalents, as we maintain our target of reaching a net cash neutral position over time.”

    Apple’s Consolidated Financial Statements [PDF] demonstrate its continuing transition from computer company to media/services/etc.

    Net Sales
    category
    2018 Q4
    ($billions)
    2019 Q4
    ($billions)
    iPhone$ 52.0$ 55.9
    Services10.912.7
    Wearables, Home and Accessories7.310.0
    Mac7.47.2
    iPad6.76.0
    Total ($billions)$ 84.3$ 91.8

    Asus ProArt PQ22UC

    ProArt PQ22UC is a 4K OLED display from Asus that features a 21.6″ panel with 99% DCI-P3 color coverage, hardware calibration support, HDR, and an innovative mount/support system. Other features include 10-bit color depth and a 14-bit LUT, 6-axis color adjustment, Delta E < 2, selectable color temperature and gamma modes, plus the ability to save and optimize color profiles in the monitor itself, response time of 0.1 ms, pixel density of 204 ppi, a 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio, and support for HDR-10, HLG, and Dolby Vision. An innovative, detachable stand can be folded for transport, with a carrying bag. Micro HDMI 2.0 and USB-C ports connect to a host computer, and a second USB-C port is used for the power adapter.  (See user manual for more details.)

    Asus ProArt PQ22UC [Amazon] lists for $3999 ($3886 when checked at Amazon). Note that maximum brightness is limited for very bright/white content.

    Brightness:  330 cd/m2 (Typ.) Peak white, 130 cd/m2 (Max.) Full white