Top Stories: Apple M1 Macs and HomePod Mini Launch, iOS 14.2.1 Bug Fixes for iPhone 12, App Store Fee Changes
It was a week full of unboxings this week, with Apple's new M1-based Macs and the HomePod mini making their way into customers' hands for the first time. We're seeing impressive performance from all of the new products, and it'll be super interesting what Apple is able to do with its higher-powered Macs as the transition to Apple Silicon continues.
This week also saw the release of a special iOS 14.2.1 update for the iPhone 12 lineup to address a few early bugs on those devices, and Apple announced a new App Store program that will cut its commission in half for developers who earned under $1 million from the App Store in the previous year. Read on for all of the details on these stories and more!
First Apple M1 Macs Begin Arriving to Customers
The first Macs with Apple's custom M1 chip began arriving to customers Tuesday, and there has been quite a bit of excitement surrounding the launch, as performance has proven to be quite impressive.
Benchmark results have shown that the new MacBook Air with the M1 chip outperforms a high-end 16-inch MacBook Pro, while the new 13-inch MacBook Pro can compile code as fast as a 2019 Mac Pro, all while consuming only a fraction of the battery life of the previous-generation Intel-based 13-inch MacBook Pro.
There are already quite a few popular apps that have been optimized with native support for Apple Silicon, including Pixelmator Pro, Fantastical, BBEdit, Affinity Designer, Twitter, Darkroom, and djay Pro AI. A crowdsourced list of universal Mac apps can be found in the MacRumors forums.
Watch the Apple M1 MacBook Air Blaze Through Opening Every Default App
To further demonstrate just how impressive the M1 chip's performance is, MacRumors forum member iChan shared a video in which he opened every default app in the Dock on the new base model MacBook Air, and the notebook handled the task with ease. We also performed our own tests pitting the new M1 MacBook Air against the equivalent Intel model from earlier this year, and it wasn't much of a contest.
These feats are even more impressive considering that the base model MacBook Air is equipped with just 8GB of memory and has a silent, fanless design, making it exciting to see what Apple will achieve with its M-series chips in higher-end Macs to come.
Rumors suggest that future Apple Silicon Macs will include new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models with an all-new form factor as early as Q2 2021, in addition to a redesigned 24-inch iMac and a smaller version of the Mac Pro.
Hands-On With the New HomePod Mini
Apple's new HomePod mini also began arriving to customers this week, and we picked one up to see how it measures up to the full-size HomePod.
HomePod mini measures in at just 3.3 inches tall and 3.9 inches wide, so it's a good deal smaller than the standard HomePod. Despite its compact design, we were impressed at the sound that the speaker was able to put out.
Priced at $99, the HomePod mini is a more budget-friendly competitor to the Amazon Echo and Google Home, while still offering many features of the full-size HomePod, including Siri, HomeKit integration, Apple Music, Intercom voice messaging, and stereo pairing with another HomePod mini.
Apple Releases iOS 14.2.1 With Fix for Text Message Bug and iPhone 12 Mini Lock Screen Issues
Apple's iPhone 12 models have had a few bugs since their release, and Apple cleaned up several of them this week with the release of iOS 14.2.1, which is only for the iPhone 12 family.
The update fixes a bug that caused some MMS text messages not to be received in both single-person and group chats, and it fixes a bug that caused the Lock Screen of the iPhone 12 mini to become unresponsive. It also includes a fix for Made for iPhone hearing devices that were experiencing sound quality issues.
Apple Drops App Store Fees to 15% for All Developers Making Under $1 Million From App Store
Apple this week announced a new App Store Small Business Program that will allow developers who earned up to $1 million in post-commission earnings during the previous calendar year to qualify for a reduced 15% commission on the sale of apps and in-app purchases tied to digital goods and services.
The program is set to launch on January 1, 2021, and Apple will be sharing comprehensive details in early December. In the meantime, Apple outlined the following parameters:
- Existing developers who made up to $1 million in 2020 for all of their apps, as well as developers new to the App Store, can qualify for the program and the reduced commission.
- If a participating developer surpasses the $1 million threshold, the standard commission rate will apply for the remainder of the year.
- If a developer’s business falls below the $1 million threshold in a future calendar year, they can re-qualify for the 15 percent commission the year after.
Apple Investigating Display Issues With iPhone 12 Models
In an internal document for technicians this week, obtained by MacRumors, Apple has acknowledged an issue with some iPhone 12 displays exhibiting flickering, a green or gray glow, or other unintended lighting variations under some conditions.
Apple says that it is aware of customer reports related to this issue and is investigating. Apple has advised technicians to avoid servicing affected iPhones, at least for now, and instead inform customers that they should keep their iPhone up to date with the latest iOS version. This guidance suggests that Apple may be confident that it can fix the issue in a future software update.
A similar green tint issue affected some iPhone 11, 11 Pro, and 11 Pro Max displays, and Apple was able to fix it in iOS 13.6.1.
Each week, we publish an email newsletter like this highlighting the top Apple stories, making it a great way to get a bite-sized recap of the week hitting all of the major topics we've covered and tying together related stories for a big-picture view.