Top Stories: Apple Maps Adding Waze Features, Intel Downplays M1 Chip, MacBook Pro Charging Issue Fixed
This week saw another good mix of news and rumors, led by the discovery that Apple Maps is going to be gaining Waze-like features for crowdsourcing accidents, hazards, and speed checks.
Intel is also generating some headlines for a new ad campaign and questionable benchmark data aiming targeting Apple's latest M1 Macs, while the long-rumored Apple Car remains in the news with Hyundai/Kia apparently having shot itself in the foot by previously acknowledging it was in talks with Apple to produce the vehicle. Read for details on these stories and more from the past week!
Apple Maps Adds Waze-Like Features in iOS 14.5
iOS 14.5 and iPadOS 14.5, which are still in beta, are shaping up to be major software updates for the iPhone and iPad. We already highlighted several new features last week, such as the ability to unlock an iPhone with an Apple Watch while wearing a mask, support for 5G in Dual-SIM mode on iPhone 12 models, and AirPlay 2 streaming for Apple Fitness+ workouts, and we've since learned that the update adds new Waze-like features to Apple Maps for crowdsourced accidents, speed traps, and road hazards.
Starting with iOS 14.5, Siri also remembers which streaming music service a user chooses, allowing for third-party services like Spotify to be set as default rather than Apple Music — here's how. This functionality doesn't appear to be working perfectly yet for all users on the beta.
Last, it appears that YouTube's mobile website is once again working with "Picture in Picture" mode on the iOS 14.5 beta. Apple has indicated that iOS 14.5 should launch to the public in "early spring," which likely means some time around late March.
Intel Downplays Apple's M1 Chip With 'Carefully Crafted' Benchmarks
For one, Intel chose some very specific benchmark tasks to demonstrate that Windows laptops powered by its latest 11th Generation Core processors are superior to Macs with Apple's custom M1 chip, such as exporting a PowerPoint presentation as a PDF file.
Intel also used different processor SKUs depending on the test, and switched from the 13-inch MacBook Pro to the MacBook Air for the battery life test, so there are lots of inconsistencies throughout the slideshow.
"Inconsistent test platforms, shifting arguments, omitted data, and the not-so-faint whiff of desperation," said Apple columnist Jason Snell, writing for Six Colors. "Today's M1 processor is a low-end chip for low-end systems, so Intel only has a small window to compare itself favorably to these systems before higher-end Apple silicon Macs ship and make its job that much harder."
Apple Offering Free Battery Replacements for 2016-2017 MacBook Pros That Can't Charge Past 1%
Apple this week released macOS Big Sur 11.2.1 to address an issue that may prevent the battery from charging in some 2016 and 2017 MacBook Pro models.
Apple says a "very small number of customers" have experienced an issue with the battery not charging past 1%, and it is offering these customers free battery replacements. Our article provides steps on how to identify your Mac model to see if it is eligible.
If your MacBook Pro has not exhibited this issue, updating to macOS 11.2.1 as soon as possible is still highly recommended as a precaution. There is also a macOS Catalina 10.15.7 Supplemental Update that addresses the issue.
Buyer's Guide: Don't Buy a MacBook Pro Now
If you have been thinking about purchasing a new MacBook Pro soon, let this serve as a reminder that now might not be the best time to do so.
In recent weeks, reputable sources like TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo and Bloomberg's Mark Gurman have claimed that some significant changes are coming to the MacBook Pro this year, such as the return of MagSafe charging and more ports, including an SD card reader.
Kuo and Gurman also said that Apple plans to replace the controversial Touch Bar with a physical row of Fn keys, and a modest redesign is expected with flatter edges on the top and bottom of the MacBook Pro. Other expectations include a brighter display and next-generation Apple silicon.
If you do buy a MacBook Pro now, we recommend choosing the lowest-end 13-inch model, which already uses Apple silicon. Otherwise, waiting for the rumored 14-inch and 16-inch models later this year is a wise choice.
Bookmark the MacRumors Buyer's Guide for more purchase recommendations!
Hyundai and Kia Now Say They Aren't in Discussions to Develop Apple Car
Following weeks of rampant "Apple Car" rumors, Hyundai and its subsidiary Kia in regulatory filings this week said they are not (or at least no longer) in discussions with Apple to cooperate on development of a self-driving electric vehicle.
Hyundai last month confirmed that Apple was in discussions with a variety of global automakers, including Hyundai. However, the automaker walked back the statement just hours later, and merely said that it had "received requests for potential cooperation from various companies regarding development of autonomous EVs."
Bloomberg reported that talks between Apple and Hyundai had "paused recently," adding that Hyundai's original statement and the subsequent reports "upset Apple," a company known for its culture of secrecy.
Apple is still believed to be considering partnerships with other automakers, such as Nissan, Honda, and Mazda. In any case, it is widely believed that the Apple Car is still several years away from becoming a reality.
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.