The Apple Pips

Inside All Apple Products

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The Mac mini isn’t dead yet, says Tim Cook

The 2014 Mac Mini. (credit: Andrew Cunningham)

More than 1,000 days have passed since Apple updated its Mac mini hardware. Since then, Apple has launched the Apple Watch, AirPods, the retina MacBook, and the Touch Bar MacBook Pro. Meanwhile, the Mac mini has existed in a state of arrested development. You'd be forgiven for considering the possibility that the product has been living its last days. But in an e-mail to an Apple customer today, Apple CEO Tim Cook said the Mac mini isn't going anywhere.

The customer, who goes by the name Krar, e-mailed Cook to note that the Mac mini hasn't seen an update in three years. Krar wanted to know, "Are we are going to see anything in the pipeline any time soon?" Cook's response, which was shared on MacRumors, said:

I'm glad you love the Mac mini. We love it too. Our customers have found so many creative and interesting uses for the Mac mini. While it is not time to share any details, we do plan for Mac mini to be an important part of our product line going forward.

He's not saying much, but even confirmation that this product has a future is in some ways surprising. The entry-level Mac mini still runs on Haswell processors and Intel HD 5000 integrated graphics. It comes with only 4GB of RAM. It starts at $499, but other compact desktops offer much more current specs at that price point. The mini is clearly long overdue for an update, but because it's unclear which direction Apple might take the device with future iterations, it seemed like a safe bet that its time on the market was drawing to a close.

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Sonos One review: A better sounding smart speaker

Enlarge (credit: Jeff Dunn)

Sonos is finally girding itself for the smart speaker wars. With Amazon’s Echo line of speakers proving a surprise hit and the usage of digital assistants growing generally, wireless speaker pioneer Sonos has launched its first voice-enabled speaker, the Sonos One. This $199 device taps in to the same Alexa assistant that Amazon plants in its own hardware; at some point in 2018, Sonos says it will add support for the rival Google Assistant as well.

It is generally accepted that current smart speakers like the Echo and Google Home, the devices for which such assistants are mainly designed, are mediocre when used as speakers. Given Sonos’ reputation for delivering above-average audio quality, the hope is that the One provides the smarts of an Echo (and, eventually, a Home) without skimping on sound.

In many ways, that’s exactly what the Sonos One does. It runs circles around the Echo and Home in the audio department, and it does nearly all of the same "Alexa things" you can do with an Amazon-made device. The One makes sense for someone who has a set of Sonos speakers already and is curious to see how an Echo-like machine would fit into their lifestyle.

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“Security concerns” lead to LTE service shutdown on Chinese Apple Watches

Enlarge / You can now make calls from your Apple Watch without the phone nearby.

Apple's struggles in China continue to mount, and this time, it's Apple's newest wearable causing problems for the company. According to a Wall Street Journal report, standalone wireless service available on certain models of the Apple Watch Series 3 has been shut down just one month after the device became available. Chinese customers who purchased a Series 3 with LTE are not able to connect their wearables to their wireless networks, and it's unclear when service will be reinstated.

When the Apple Watch Series 3 became available on September 22, LTE service was available exclusively through China's Unicom wireless company. However, new cellular subscriptions were cut off after September 28. Those who registered for wireless service on their Apple Watch before September 28 (essentially, customers who bought the new device within the first week of sale) have been unaffected. Those who have tried to set up wireless service on a Series 3 device since September 28 have been unable to do so.

Unicom's website only says that cellular service was initially offered on a "trial basis," but the company is not saying when it would come back for new customers. Analysts suspect the shutdown is due to security concerns from the Chinese government, which heavily regulates all mobile phone service and devices.

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iFixit rips apart the Pixel 2 XL, checks out Google’s first consumer SoC

Ron Amadeo

Google's new flagship smartphones, the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, are out today. In the life of any major smartphone, there comes a time when it must hit iFixit's workbench for a teardown, and for the 2 XL, today is that day.

The site found a few surprises inside the Pixel 2 XL. First up is a magnesium mid-frame, which should make the phone extra stiff. The mid-frame is also housing a heat pipe for better cooling, which seems to be showing up more and more in smartphones. Under X-Ray, you can see that, like the smaller Pixel 2, the Pixel 2 XL does have antenna bands, but they're invisible on the 2 XL. It is also nice to see the "Active Edge" pressure sensors, which allow you to squeeze the phone to call up the Google Assistant.

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Ultimate Ears adds Amazon Alexa to Blast and Megablast speakers

Ultimate Ears, maker of fine portable Bluetooth speakers and custom-fit headphones, has hopped on the digital assistant bandwagon with the new Blast and Megablast Bluetooth speakers. Now with built-in Wi-Fi and Amazon Alexa, the Blast and Megablast have the full suite of Alexa services, including voice control for the likes of Spotify and Amazon music, as well as for smart home tech like Philips Hue bulbs and Logitech Harmony remotes.

The Blast costs £200 and the Megablast £270. Both are up for pre-order today, with launch due in "late October."

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