Archive for December 7, 2017

Thursday, December 7, 2017 [Tweets] [Favorites]

The Magic Keyboard With Numeric Keypad Is Apparently Bendy

Bluetooth problems forced me to give up my aluminum wireless Apple keyboard and also plagued the Magic Keyboard and Logitech K811 that I tried as replacements. For the last several months, I’ve been using a Logitech K750. I chose this because it’s wireless but uses its own USB transceiver rather than Bluetooth, thus bypassing the problems introduced in Sierra. Unfortunately, I’ve started encountering problems with the K750. It now reports that its solar cells are not getting enough light to keep it charged. I don’t understand how this is possible since my office as four bright light bulbs, two displays, and a window. Is December in New England that much darker? In any event, there’s no way to charge the K750 directly, and the solar charging now only works when it’s away from my desk. The other problem is that it keeps forgetting that I’ve set the function keys to operate in standard mode, i.e. pressing F1 doesn’t require fn. Perhaps this is because the battery level is low.

So it’s time to change keyboards again. After many years using compact Apple keyboards—because of their feel and similarity with internal MacBook Pro keyboards—the K750 reminded me of how nice full-sized keyboards are. Most importantly, I use Page Up/Page Down and Home/End all the time, and it’s more comfortable to able to type those without chords. I also appreciate having the numeric keypad, a real Enter key (since fn-Return doesn’t work properly on third-party keyboards), good arrow keys, and extra function keys.

Right now I’m back to using my old Apple wired aluminum keyboard, which is no longer sold. The angle and feel are not as nice as with Apple’s newer keyboards, but otherwise it works well. Since it’s an Apple keyboard, I don’t need third-party software to make the function keys work without fn, and the fn key is also available to accept taps for dictation and LaunchBar. I was never able to get this to work with a third-party keyboard.

The old keyboard works fine, but since I would prefer something wireless I thought I would check out Apple’s new full-sized offering, which it calls the Magic Keyboard with Numeric Keypad. The price is kind of ridiculous. But aside from that, it seems like it would be great, presuming the Bluetooth issues are ever fixed. However, I noticed a large number of reviews from Apple’s own store that describe it as “bendy.”

Guy P:

Brand new just opened box - keyboard is bent!

Christopher E:

BENT! - it has become slightly bent (or perhaps it started that way and I didn’t notice it) - obviously it needs an additional rubber foot/feet in the middle, since the force of typing is concentrated in the centre of the keyboard, while the feet are on the edges. time will tell whether this becomes a functional problem - for now it is just very uncool for such an expensive item from the “it just works” company.

Kevin L:

After only five weeks of light use my “caps locks” key stopped working reliably. Sometimes it works fine, sometimes I have to tap it 5-6 times—very annoying. And, like many of the posts below, my keyboard is warping like a banana. The entire keyboard is sagging in the middle. I am really disappointed in the flimsy quality and poor workmanship. I expect so much more from Apple. I hope there is a recall so I can get one that works better. I went to an Apple store today and they agree to replace it; but, they don't have any in stock so I am waiting for a phone call when it comes in. I appreciate that Apple will replace it after six weeks, but I fear that the replacement will be just as bad.

Natalie J:

My space key through normal typing has gotten stuck on the left side so typing is now cumbersome on it. The entire keyboard appears to be bent despite my best efforts.

Adrien L:

The keyboard is bent. Seriously. It moves on the desk when I'm typing. This is bad, Apple, really bad.

Jan B:

After I paired the Keyboard with the Macbook I started typing. Immediately the Keyboard bounced around on my desk while using the Shift / Tab or Control Keys. After looking closely I saw that my Keyboard was bent in the middle so I filed a refund. After doing so Apples shipping time jumped to over 2 Months. So I ordered another Magic Keyboard from Amazon. This one had the exact same Problem.

Jeffrey C:

This keyboard is too thin and within a few weeks will bend in the center to the extent that it's touching the desk (while the rubber feet on the sides tilt up). I returned mine to our local Apple Store thinking it was defective, only to find all of the keyboards there with the same issue. I loved everything about the keyboard except for the flimsy construction. Hopefully Apple recognizes this issue and fixes it soon. For now, I went back to my 10-year old wired Apple keyboard, which works perfectly.

Mark W:

The problems - and it is a really annoying one - is that the keyboard is warped; wobbly on a flat surface. I like my Mac, my magic mouse, and even a trackpad, but this keyboard is just too stylish to hold up to it's basic function.

Kevin C:

The keyboard was so warped straight out of the box that it was unusable. Placed on a flat desktop it rocked from side to side. This is both a design and quality control failure. Ready to return in the box without its shrink wrap and the box is bulging on one end, push that end and it bulges on the other.

My first Mac was a 512K, there have been many since and there are six Apple products in the room I am writing from; Retina5K, iMac, MacBook Pro, iPad, iPhone, MacMini. I have never seen anything so completely shoddy before, never imagined it possible.

Very disappointed.

Donald M:

But after 5 weeks of use, typing hours a day (I'm a writer and book designer), it bent down in the center of the QWERTY portion, the pads at the end couldn't contact my desk, and the kb slid around. Useless.

No help from Apple -- they claimed I must have damaged it, that there was no way it could have happened except from accidental damage. Ridiculous.

Peter C:

I used this keyboard for two months. It had a distinct warp - while typing on the left side, the right side would rise off the desk. I decided to exchange mine for a new one, which we unboxed in store (Apple's policy - they return the old one in the new box). The new keyboard had the same warping problem, so I returned mine instead. That was disappointing - otherwise really liked the product.

This is just from the first page of reviews. MacRumors readers are reporting the same thing.

Fravin:

Mine is one week old and it looks like a banana. The bottom is bending down, making the edges being lifted from my table.

AppleSmack:

Yes, mine arrived bent, dipping in the middle. I gently bent, twisted, persuaded it until it was as straight as I could make it.

The previous model aluminium keyboard was aluminium all through. The Magic keyboard, despite being 2.5x more expensive than the previous version, is thin aluminium on top, plastic underneath. “Our best keyboard ever: lighter, thinner, flexibler.” Great.

Fravin:

I’m leaving an Apple Store without my keyboard but with the money back. The guy in the store had opened four bed news keyboards and all of them was bent.

Addie2020:

I had the same problem. Contacted Apple support and they arranged replacement very quickly after I returned the curved keyboard. It was a bit of a nuisance, but Apple support put it right efficiently.

iBug2:

Went to an Apple store to replace mine. They opened 4 boxes, all bent. So they will replace mine when they get a new shipment.

NightFox:

Yeah, I’ve just had one delivered and without even knowing of this issue, the first thing I thought when I got it out of the box was “that’s bent”!

When I put it on my desk, the middle touches the desk whereas the edges are unsupported, up in the air like a see-saw, one side more than the other.

Frankfurt:

2 months in and my keyboard is bent. That is probably too late for an exchange.

As the keyboard has been sitting on a flat service ever since I acquired it, this is clearly a design flaw.

davita70:

The rise at each side IS small, but big enough to make the keyboard rattle as you type. Like the sensation of eating at a table with one leg slightly slightly shorter than the others.

For the very expensive cost of this accessory, it’s a pretty fundamental issue, that outweighs some of the good points.

ZapNZs:

I was hesitant to say too much either way at first, given the tendency for an isolated issue to quickly become a something-SOMETHING-gate. But, from what I can gather, this is a serious problem that is affecting a significant portion of keyboards - i.e., more than half the models sold from one location have been returned (and, considering not everyone who gets a bendy keyboard is going to return it...) Some have had functional problems - it is unclear if these functional issues were related to the bending, were related to some other design issue, were related to misuse, or something else.

The US version is backordered too. Hopefully Apple is addressing this - whether that means recalling a batch of lots with bad heat treatments, or redesigning the keyboard if this is in fact a design flaw that affects all models.

This is discouraging, especially after the problems with the MacBook and MacBook Pro keyboards. I wonder whether this will be addressed in the dark version for the forthcoming iMac Pro.

Update (2017-12-07): Aaron Vegh:

Heh, thought it was just me. Replaced my first keyboard, and the new one is the same. Functionally fine, but aesthetically annoying.

Here’s a brief video showing the extent of it.

Update (2018-02-27): Mark Philpot:

By way of keyboard follow up: To be clear, the keyboard was originally flat. 100% of similar models in my company show equivalent stress “curves.” You can “bend” them back a bit so it’s less pronounced, but my conclusion is “thin has it’s costs…”

Update (2018-05-15): Josh Ginter:

My peak experience with the Magic Keyboard was on day one. Ever since, day by day, that experience has diminished. Slowly. But surely.

[…]

For one, my Magic Keyboard has suffered from that warping everyone talked about a few months ago. Does it inhibit the ability to type? No, not directly. But it drives me nuts every time I look at it.

Amazon Prime Video Finally Available for Apple TV

Chance Miller:

As announced in the Amazon Prime Video iOS app release notes, the Apple TV Amazon Prime Video app is now rolling out. The release notes say users have to download a separate tvOS app, which apparently will work on the third-generation Apple TV as well.

The Apple TV 3 doesn’t run tvOS or have downloadable apps, however the Amazon icon automatically showed up on my Apple TV 3. It seems that Amazon wrote a separate app using the legacy Apple TV SDK—much appreciated—and Apple auto-installed it for everyone. This is despite the Apple TV itself not getting any software updates in years.

John Gruber:

I’ve heard there is indeed a good story behind this delay.

Steve Troughton-Smith:

TL;DR it’s no wonder Amazon took so long in porting their app to tvOS; it’s a giant, [presumably] in-house web-based multi-headed hydra designed for a hundred different devices and consoles that probably needed a new UI glue layer for tvOS (but probably doesn’t use webviews)

Andrew Abernathy:

Like Netflix before it, Amazon Prime Video has a “Settings” section in the app that doesn’t actually have any settings. Have to go to web site to turn off auto-playing the next episode. I don’t understand this. So hostile.

One huge advantage of Amazon Prime Video over Netflix on Apple TV is that you can actually rest on a video for a moment without a trailer starting up and blaring at you.

See also: Ryan Christoffel, Dave Mark, Juli Clover.

Previously: Amazon Prime Video Coming to Apple TV, Movies Anywhere.

Microsoft Launches Windows 10 on ARM

Brett Howse:

The first PCs will be the ASUS NovaGo, which is a convertible laptop, and the HP ENVY x2 convertible tablet.

This is exciting news on a couple of fronts. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, which was the processor first announced for Windows 10 on ARM, offers reasonable performance, but with lower power consumption than what we’ve been used to in the PC space, and especially in low-power states. Without having the devices in-hand, we still don’t know how the SD835 compares in performance to the competition. We should finally be able to answer that soon though.

[…]

Battery life should also be a big win, and while we don’t have our own tests done yet, Microsoft’s information is claiming up to 30 days of standby and up to 22 hours of active use, while the detachable tablet-style HP ENVY x2 is claiming up to 20 hours of active use.

Peter Bright:

Branded as Always Connected PCs, the new Windows on ARM systems are positioned as bringing together the best of PCs and smartphones. They have PC form factors, with the productivity enabled by a real keyboard, touchpad, and general purpose operating system capable of running regular Windows software, but they bring with them the seamless switching between LTE and Wi-Fi, instant on, multiple working day battery life, and slimline, lightweight packaging that we’re accustomed to on our phones.

[…]

The emulator runs in a just-in-time basis, converting blocks of x86 code to equivalent blocks of ARM code. This conversion is cached both in memory (so each given part of a program only has to be translated once per run) and on disk (so subsequent uses of the program should be faster, as they can skip the translation). Moreover, system libraries—the various DLLs that applications load to make use of operating system features—are all native ARM code, including the libraries loaded by x86 programs. Calling them “Compiled Hybrid Portable Executables” (or “chippie” for short), these libraries are ARM native code, compiled in such a way as to let them respond to x86 function calls.

Learning With Privacy at Scale

Davey Alba (tweet):

BuzzFeed News interviews with a dozen AI experts paint a picture of Apple’s artificial intelligence research that shows the company is opening up a bit more — but there is still a disconnect between the academic AI community’s values and Apple’s way of doing business. The company’s obsessive focus on the AI applications in Apple products can make working for the company less desirable to some talented experts who have no shortage of options, researchers said. And that’s bad news for Apple, which faces an uphill battle in attracting the people it needs to become a true frontrunner in AI among the giants of tech.

[…]

“That blog is completely useless,” an AI professor of an elite university, who asked to remain anonymous because they did not want their name attached to criticisms of an influential tech company, told BuzzFeed News a few weeks ago. “There are absolutely no details, for example, in Apple’s post about AI in handwriting recognition. It amounts to bragging and it is impossible to actually learn anything from it. It feels like they realized most big-name institutions have blogs and created one, but didn't do it in a way that adds any value. I would contrast it with Google’s post about neural networks for language understanding, which has many more details and points to public code along with walkthrough explanations.”

[…]

Doubling down on its commitment to privacy, Apple also keeps most user data on the phone itself and deletes it after a few months. But Eugenio Culurciello, a professor at Purdue University who works on machine learning hardware, said that while AI processing on a chip is better than it has been before, limitations on power and memory bandwidth still make a mobile device no match for cloud AI — which is what Google and Amazon use. […] Essentially, Skymind’s Nicholson added, Apple is accepting a commercial disadvantage based on its business model. “AI at Apple is hobbled by the way they handle information,” said Nicholson.

Apple’s Differential Privacy Team:

Given the popularity of emojis across our user base, we want to determine which specific emojis are most used by our customers and the relative distribution of these characters. To that end, we deploy our algorithms to understand the distribution of emojis used across keyboard locales.

[…]

Some websites are exceedingly resource-intensive, and we wish to identify these sites in order to ensure a better user experience. We consider two types of domains: those that cause high memory usage and those that cause excessive energy drain from CPU usage. In iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra, Safari can automatically detect these exceptional domains and report them using differential privacy.

[…]

We want to learn words that are not present in the lexicons included on the device in order to improve auto-correction. To discover new words, we deploy the Sequence Fragment Puzzle (SFP) algorithm described above.

Previously: Apple’s Machine Learning Journal/Blog, iOS 11 Autocorrect Bug, Why Little Bugs Need to Get Fixed.