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Everything Apple Announced at its ‘Spring Loaded’ Event

The first Apple Event of 2021 was jam packed with new product announcements, including the brand new Apple Tags, updated Apple TV, new 24-inch iMacs with Apple Silicon and iPad Pros.

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The first Apple Event of 2021 was jam packed with new product announcements, including the brand new Apple Tags, updated Apple TV, new 24-inch iMacs with Apple Silicon and iPad Pros.  Here’s everything they announced during the Virtual Event:

AirTags

Apple entered a new product category with its AirTags, small tracking devices that use Bluetooth and the Ultra Wide-Band chips in the iPhone to locate them with Apple’s Find My App to help find lost items. AirTags uses the more than 1 billion Apple devices such as iPhones, iPads and Macs to provide a worldwide mesh network, while maintaining user privacy.

Orders will be open from 1pm on Friday the 23rd of April, available in one and for packs for £29 and £99 respectively.

Apple TV 4K (A12)

The last update to the Apple TV 4K was back in October 2017, so while this was a modest update, it will come as a relief to those holding out rather than buying a 3 and half year-old tech product for the same price it launched at. The appearance of the box itself is unchanged and features an A12 Bionic chip for better performance, HDMI 2.1 and WiFi 6. There was one cool new feature though, you can now calibrate the colour settings of Apple TV using your iPhone.

But the real change is the new Remote. The previous Apple TV Remote was like Marmite, some loved it, some hated it and the new one backtracks a little, replacing the touchpad with a more traditional button setup, although it is touch-enabled and a dedicated Siri button on the side. The new layout will be welcomed by those who found blind-navigation an issue with the previous Remote, while the power button also adds additional convenience.

The new Apple TV 4K (yes, it has the same name) will be available to pre-order on 30 April, shipping in the second half of May and costs £169 and £189 for the 32GB and 64GB models respectively.

24-inch iMac

One of the biggest announcements was the new iMac, the first to feature the company’s own Apple Silicon chips. With the first full redesign since 2012, the new iMac also comes in 7 different colours, something not seen since the original iMacs in 1998. It comes with the same M1 chip found in the Mac mini and MacBooks released in November and because of the thin, flat design comes with an external Power Brick sporting the Ethernet port, a neat solution to being unable to fit the bulky port in the thin chassis.

The new iMac will be available to pre-order on 30 April, shipping in the second half of May starting at £1,249.

Read more about the new iMacs here

iPad Pro (5th Gen)

Although the design of the new iPad Pros is pretty much the same as the previous two versions, these new models come with some significant new features that might tempt current owners to upgrade. First, they feature the same M1 chips found in Apple’s Macs, with option of 8GB or 16GB RAM rather than the 6GB of last year’s models. They also feature a Thunderbolt/USB4 port for fast transfer speeds and compatibility with high end accessories such as Apple’s 6K Pro XDR Display.

Apple has also added an Ultra Wide camera to the front, with a new ‘Centre Stage’ feature that keeps you in frame when moving around during video calls. Exclusive to the 12.9-inch model is a new mini-LED display, with thousands of ‘mini’ LEDs providing deeper blacks and significantly improved contrast.

Read more about the new iPad Pros here

Podcast Subscriptions

The new podcast subscription is a global marketplace for users to listen to ad-free content from both independent voices as well as premier studios. This service is available to listeners in over 170 countries from May, with pricing varying on each subscription.

You can watch the full event on Apple.com.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

Science and Technology Editor at The Analyst.
Has a passion for technology and what makes things tick.

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Tech

Is Privacy a Price Worth Paying for Online Communication?

In this episode we discuss data privacy concerns on social media platforms and messaging apps that have become such a prominent part of our lives

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All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Tech

Electronic communication or printing: Are either of them the better alternative?

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Print versus electronic communication; a debate ever since companies started advertising themselves as pro-environment. Banks, Telephone providers, Utility service providers, and many more have started to send bills, promotions, flyers, etc. through digital communication and customers are encouraged to save the environment by going paperless. While going paperless is considered best for the environment, it has a lot of disadvantages. Using paper is considered harmful to forests, furthermore, the main reason for deforestation is considered to be production and usage of paper. However, an in-depth analysis proves to be contradicting that belief. 

Printing is always put into the spotlight for not being ecological but digital media’s dependence on coal-powered electricity always goes unnoticed by many people. As consumers go paperless, the use of electronic media increases. Most of the energy used to power electronic media in North America comes from coal-powered plants. Coal companies are cutting trees leading to areas of deforestation and remove mountaintops to reach thin coal which seems buried deep in the mountains. As the use of digital media increases, a significant amount of technology is using energy from coal-fired electricity to power. This act is contributing greatly towards global warming. Adoption of digital media and cloud-based technology is consuming more energy now, than it has ever before. It is estimated by the end of this year, “data centers will demand more electricity than is currently demanded by France, Brazil, Canada, and Germany combined”. In 2012, more than $1 billion worth of electricity was used by networking equipment in America alone, which is equivalent to three large coal-fired power plants. Mountaintop coalmining is becoming a major cause of not only deforestation, but also destruction of ecosystems, pollution and the emission of greenhouse gases, that are contributing towards global warming.

The increased use of digital media also translates towards more devices being bought and used by more people. As the electronics industry races to make better and more advanced version of electronics, older technology is becoming obsolete, and many consumers are not recycling their electronics. Computers and most electronics contain toxic and recyclable materials. Recyclable materials like gold, palladium, platinum, copper, nickel, etc. are taken out of the electronics once it is sent for recycling but toxic materials like lead, zinc, nickel, etc. which should be handled with care, are left in landfills or sent to many underdeveloped countries. Toxic materials in electronics when released into the environment cause damage to human blood, kidneys and nervous systems. The materials from e-waste not only affect humans, but also can affect both land and sea animals. Moreover, recyclable materials like copper are extracted from the electronics by burning the devices which release hydrocarbons into the air. Lead poisoning is one of the biggest causes of deaths, in underdeveloped countries where most of the e-waste is dumped into landfill. Heavy metals eventually reach groundwater through the soil and effect the drinking and clean water that is then consumed by the many locals living near these landfills. 

Paper manufacturing has gotten a bad reputation over the years as issues with the environment have gotten more intense. Many paper manufacturing companies are using ways that would avoid harming the environment. According to the American Forest And Paper Association, more than 65% of paper in the US was recycled in 2012, making paper the biggest commodity to be recycled. Companies are using sustainable ways to manufacture paper and recycle the majority of it. Paper manufactured from the recycled fibres uses less energy and natural resources like wood, which in return decreases environmental pollution. Paper manufacturing companies have joined or launched programs for sustainable usage and production of papers like Integer Goal Programming, prevent any harm to the environment and maintain it. The paper industry has many professional certification programs to ensure the sustainability of the paper used today. Two of the more recognisable certifications are the “Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC™)”. 

Many companies that advertise being green and going paperless are known to have done very less research as electronic communication has bigger impact on the environment when compared to print media. As consumers find alternatives to print media, they forget to research the effects and contribution of electronics towards global warming. Upon comparison it can be seen that while the paper industry is moving towards sustainable production and avoiding harm to the environment, the electronics industry is lacking in this . Increased usage of digital media in turn requires a lot of energy, which is contributing towards deforestation and global warming. To conclude, digital media has more negative impacts on the environment when compared to the print industry. 

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Tech

Screen addiction: A silent health crisis in the making

Impact of excessive screen time on human brains is not the same for adults and children. Adult brains are more developed than children and have advanced social skills with self-control

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Apple released its first-generation iPhone in 2007 and life changed forever. Netflix started its streaming services in the same year. Twitter launched in 2006 soon becoming a global social platform, followed by Instagram, and Tik Tok in recent years. One billion hours of content is consumed every day on You-Tube. From shopping to banking, socialization to working and learning, there is hardly any aspect of human life that does not rely on digital devices. Technology has transformed the world, making it much smaller and smarter that can fit into one’s pocket.

While technology has enabled on-the go and on-demand lifestyles, its long-term impact on our minds and bodies has not been studied enough. Health care professionals agree that the negative impacts of too much screen time are as imperative to know as its advantages. Prolonged and excessive use of digital devices to scroll through social media, compulsive online shopping, inability to stop checking for emails or texts can be as addictive as tobacco, alcohol, or drugs. Screen use releases dopamine in the brain, which can negatively affect impulse control; like drugs, screen time sets off a pleasure/reward cycle. Brain imaging studies have shown that screen technologies and cocaine affect the brain’s frontal cortex in the same way. Though not officially recognised as a disorder, various terms are used to define the addictive digital behaviours, such as Internet Addiction Disorder, Compulsive Internet Use (CIU), Problematic Internet Use (PIU), or iDisorder and Screen Dependency Disorder (amongst younger populations). Some studies indicate that up to 38% of the population in the western world suffer from some form of screen addiction. Moderate usage of digital devices for day-to-day tasks does not imply internet or screen addiction. Rather, when online activities start to interfere with one’s life, similar to pathological gambling, it can then be identified as a form of addiction. Too much screen time restructures the brain in form of shrinkage or loss of brain tissue volume resulting in lower cognitive abilities, depression, anxiety, obesity, back and neck problems. Due to lack of real human connection, screen addiction changes how we interact. A screen savvy individual is more likely to have more social limitations, such as withdrawal, mental preoccupation, impulsive behaviours, poor self-esteem, and unstable relationships. Other much talked about impacts are sleep disorders, headaches, migraines, and vision issues (dry eyes). 

Impact of excessive screen time on human brains is not the same for adults and children. Adult brains are more developed than children and have advanced social skills with self-control. In contrast, young and adolescent brains are “not matured and are predisposed to changes in structure and connectivity that can restrict neural development”. 

Digital devices draw young minds in, they are portable and ubiquitous that do not separate the device from the child’s eyes. According to a research report released in October 2019, eight to 12-year-olds in the United States now use screens for entertainment for an average of four hours, 44 minutes a day, and 13 to 18-year-olds are on screens for an average of seven hours, 22 minutes each day. Children who spend more than two hours a day on screen-time activities score lower on language and thinking tests, and some children with more than seven hours a day of screen time experience thinning of the brain’s cortex, the area of the brain related to critical thinking and reasoning. Tech companies are developing highly addictive and entertaining digital devices, content and mediums that keep children away from non-digital activities that foster imagination, creativity and build appropriate social skills. In younger children, psychologists are discovering major developmental concerns such as speech delays, cognitive impairments, and inadequate problem-solving abilities. Children are often better at finding entertaining content that links to other content leading to an endless cycle, making children uniquely vulnerable to digital advertising, cyber bullying and even exposure to predators. Children cannot grasp the unregulated span of the internet and resulting addictive behaviours. 

Adolescents using social media excessively have tendencies to internalize problems and world view of their appearances, race, gender, or popularity leading to increased risk of major depression, suicidal thoughts, and anxiety disorders. A 10-year study on teen girls showed increased suicide risk for teen girls who spent excessive amount of time on social media. The suicide rate for podiatric patients in United States rose to 57.4% from 2007 to 2018. Many agree that this exponential increase is linked to excessive social media presence. Kids and adults are spending even more time online during the pandemic, adding to the social isolation and anxiety.

 The question remains that why the research data and general awareness of negative impacts of digital devices is so limited. Like tobacco, alcohol, drug manufacturers and casinos, tech companies are monetary giants with the unique privilege of shaping public opinions. Screen addiction is relatively a new challenge to a world that was not prepared for this digital explosion that occurred in less than two decades. Researchers, policy makers, and the public health community has not grasped the universal impact of screens. A multi prong strategy focusing on regulation, creation of safer environments, mental health awareness and reengineering of technology for positive uses is much needed to reap the real benefits of a digital world.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Economics

Is Cryptocurrency a Viable Replacement? – In Focus

How does Cryptocurrency differ from standard or Fiat Currency and what’s next for these distributed networks?

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Tech

James Webb Space Telescope: NASA’s $10 billion project set to launch in October after 25 years in development

Although development of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) began in 1996 and was initially planned to launch in 2007 with a $500 million price tag, the project had experienced many challenges over the coming years both delaying the launch and inflating the price

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NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, CC BY 2.0, via Flickr

Although development of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) began in 1996 and was initially planned to launch in 2007 with a $500 million price tag, the project had experienced many challenges over the coming years both delaying the launch and inflating the price. Now, 25 years later with nearly $10 billion spent, this international space project featuring NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) passed its final performance testing in February and is set to launch on 31st October 2021. However, in order to fully grasp the impact that the JWST will have on our understanding of the Universe, we must first look at its predecessor, the Hubble Space Telescope. 

Launched in 1990, the Hubble Space Telescope was one of the largest and most advanced space-based telescopes sent into orbit. Hubble enjoys a clear view of the Universe free from Earth’s atmospheric interference and ; as a result, it was able to detect and examine distant stars, galaxies and other cosmic objects that were invisible to us. A total of five service missions from 1993 to 2009 upgraded the telescope which further advanced its capabilities. For 30 years Hubble has greatly assisted astronomers from around the world uncover the mysteries of the Universe. However, even a telescope of Hubble’s stature has its limitations. The primary mirror of a telescope determines how much light it can gather. The larger the mirror, the more light it can gather making even the most faint objects visible. Hubble’s primary mirror has a diameter of eight feet while the JWST has a mirror measuring at 21 feet. Furthermore, Hubble’s instrument quality and type of light wavelengths it can observe are also limited as there is only so much that can be replaced and upgraded. To summarise, Hubble has cemented itself as one of the most remarkable technological inventions created by humans and will continue to operate for the foreseeable future, but it has reached its limitations in terms of what it can observe and its successor – the JWST- is ready to embark on its mission. 

The JWST will seek to bridge the gap between what is known and unknown in the Universe. Its capabilities go beyond that of Hubble’s as its larger primary mirror will allow it to look further in the past and inside stellar dust clouds where new stars and galaxies form. Moreover, the JWST will be able to observe more closely the moments right after the Big Bang and hunt for the first galaxies formed that were otherwise invisible to us. Additionally, one of the most prominent features of the JWST is its tennis court-sized sunshield which will reduce the sun’s heat by a million times. The purpose of the sunshield is to keep the mirror and the instruments as cold as possible, since if the Sun were to heat them up, they would emit their own infrared radiation. This becomes problematic as it would drown out the faint infrared radiation from distant galaxies the telescope was built to detect. 

Once in orbit, the JWST will be utilised by thousands of astronomers to extend and complement the discoveries of its predecessors. It will seek to unlock the remaining mysteries of the Universe and answer questions that have puzzled astronomers for centuries. It will search the deepest voids of space and time – to answer questions about the origins of galaxies, stars and their planets. Additionally, it will provide astronomers with a clearer sense of the fate of the Universe and everything within it. Therefore, not only is the JWST a device to study the past, but consequently the future as well.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Tech

Is Working from Home the New Normal? – In Focus

As lockdowns begin to lift, will people go back to the office or is working from home really the new normal for many? Our brand new series, In Focus, looks at angles to provide a better understanding of the issues.

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All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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