Archive for Apple

Follow Up Review: AirPods Pro With MagSafe Case

Posted in Products with tags on November 24, 2021 by itnerd

After reviewing the AirPods Pro With MagSafe Case, I have found a few observations that I’d like to share, as well as a feature that I didn’t cover in my original review.

The first observation is that when I used these to watch some YouTube videos using my 16″ MacBook Pro, I noticed that the spatial audio was live. When I turned my head away from the screen, the AirPods Pro would trick my brain into thinking that the audio was coming from the left or the right. It’s kind of cool. While I might not leverage this feature every day, I may use the free trial of Apple Music that came with the AirPods Pro to try some tracks with Dolby Atmos and spatial audio just to see how good this feature really is.

The second observation is with this case, I found this case to be insanely slippery. Especially if your hands have moisture on them. My concern is that if they slip out of my hands, the case will crack or scratch. Thus I was forced to get this case to protect the case and give it some extra grip. Apple might be well served to come up with a case that didn’t have this issue.

Then there’s a fit. I spent this week trying all the sets of ear tips that come with the AirPods Pro and settled on the large ones. This was a good combination of comfort and having them stay in my ears. In my case, the medium ear tips were not snug enough, and the small ones were way too loose. I would suggest that anyone who buys these spend some time to find the ear tips that works best for them. One other thing on this front. Removing them will scare the crap out of you as you really have to pull on them to remove them. But once you do this a couple of times, you’ll have no issue going forward.

Finally there’s transparency mode. I have to admit, it’s kind of freaky how good it is. And compared to the wireless earbuds that I used as a comparison as it has a similar feature, it crushed those rather easily as it sounded really natural. So this in my mind push the AirPods Pro further ahead.

The bottom line is that the AirPods Pro is still a good pair of wireless earbuds. They’re expensive, but given the features that they come with, the sound quality, and how well they work with the Apple ecosystem, they are worth it.

Apple Will Alert Users Targeted By The NSO Group…. And Details How You Can Protect Yourself From Being A Target

Posted in Commentary with tags on November 24, 2021 by itnerd

Yesterday, Apple announced that it was suing The NSO Group who are purveyors of spyware to nation states, who in turn target journalists, dissidents, and activists. But Apple’s efforts don’t end there. A new support document from Apple outlines two things. First, Apple will alert users:

If Apple discovers activity consistent with a state-sponsored attack, we notify the targeted users in two ways:

  • A Threat Notification is displayed at the top of the page after the user signs into appleid.apple.com.
  • Apple sends an email and iMessage notification to the email addresses and phone numbers associated with the user’s Apple ID.

These notifications provide additional steps that notified users can take to help protect their devices.

And there’s this:

To verify that an Apple threat notification is genuine, sign in to appleid.apple.com. If Apple sent you a threat notification, it will be clearly visible at the top of the page after you sign in.

That’s great that Apple has your back on this front. Even though your chances of being attacked by the Pegasus spyware from The NSO Group is low. Having said that, Apple also gives you advice as to how to protect yourself:

All users should continue to protect themselves from cybercriminals and consumer malware by following best practices for security:

  • Update devices to the latest software, as that includes the latest security fixes
  • Protect devices with a passcode
  • Use two-factor authentication and a strong password for Apple ID
  • Install apps from the App Store
  • Use strong and unique passwords online
  • Don’t click on links or attachments from unknown senders

All of this is good advice. Though I would add that in terms of the last point, don’t click on links even if the sender is known unless you are actually expecting them to send you a link or attachment, as it is both easy and common to spoof sender addresses.

Here’s the last piece of advice from Apple:

If you have not received an Apple threat notification, but have good reason to believe you may be targeted by state-sponsored attackers or you require emergency cybersecurity assistance for other reasons, we strongly suggest you enlist expert help. The Consumer Reports Security Planner website offers a list of emergency resources that may be able to assist you.

Apple is clearly serious about taking on The NSO Group. I wish them luck on that front as those scumbags need to be erased from existence.

BREAKING: Apple Sues The NSO Group

Posted in Commentary with tags on November 23, 2021 by itnerd

From the “I didn’t see that coming” department comes this press release that just got posted on Apple’s website where they announce that they are suing The NSO Group. You might know them as the purveyors of the Pegasus spyware that nation states have been using to spy on opponents, journalists, dissidents among other targets. Here’s why Apple is doing this:

Apple today filed a lawsuit against NSO Group and its parent company to hold it accountable for the surveillance and targeting of Apple users. The complaint provides new information on how NSO Group infected victims’ devices with its Pegasus spyware. To prevent further abuse and harm to its users, Apple is also seeking a permanent injunction to ban NSO Group from using any Apple software, services, or devices.

NSO Group creates sophisticated, state-sponsored surveillance technology that allows its highly targeted spyware to surveil its victims. These attacks are only aimed at a very small number of users, and they impact people across multiple platforms, including iOS and Android. Researchers and journalists have publicly documented a history of this spyware being abused to target journalists, activists, dissidents, academics, and government officials.

And on top of that, Apple is going to help the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab to fight The NSO Group:

Apple will also support the accomplished researchers at the Citizen Lab with pro-bono technical, threat intelligence, and engineering assistance to aid their independent research mission, and where appropriate, will offer the same assistance to other organizations doing critical work in this space.

While I applaud Apple in taking on The NSO Group in such a forceful manner, one wonders if this will have any effect. After all, The NSO Group has a business model that is purely around supplying spyware to states to do whatever they want with. A lawsuit like this may not change that. Which is why I hope that governments around the world take action against The NSO Group to make this business model unacceptable. But until that happens, I applaud Apple.

Review: Apple AirPods Pro With MagSafe Case

Posted in Commentary with tags on November 18, 2021 by itnerd

I briefly tried the AirPods Pro when they first came out in 2019. At the time I thought the noise cancelling was amazing. But the sound quality was average at best. I then forgot about them and went on with my life.

Fast forward to 2021. I have in my possession these new AirPods Pro which Apple has quietly updated to include a MagSafe compatible case. Are they any better? Let’s find out by unboxing them.

On the right hand side there’s a pull tab that will help you to get rid of the plastic wrap which will be in a landfill site shortly after its removal because Apple still insists on using plastic wrap on the majority of it’s products despite making a big deal of not including plastic wrap on the iPhone 13 to save the planet. Once you remove the plastic wrap and remove the top of the box, you will see this:

You get documentation that you won’t read and no Apple Stickers. Lift those out of the way and you will see this:

There are your new AirPods Pro. It’s wrapped up in a paper like packaging. There’s more underneath this:

You get extra ear tips (Small and large ones. Medium ones are pre-installed) and a Lightning to USB-C cable. Now here’s your AirPods Pro:

Here is your pair of AirPods Pro. And you can have any color as long as it’s white. Unless you want to go to ColorWare if you’re willing to pay their prices to get a color other than white.

The pairing process is laughably easy.

  1. Open the AirPods Pro case next to your iPhone.
  2. The AirPods Pro will pop up on your phone. Click connect.
  3. Follow the directions.
  4. Done. Declare victory and have a beer.

And what’s really cool is that they automatically pair themselves to your other Apple devices via iCloud. In my case, they popped up instantly on my 16″ MacBook Pro and Apple Watch Series 6 instantly. And to add to the cool factor, simply putting them in your ears and using a device is enough to get connect to that device. For example, I might be using them to listen to music on my iPhone. If I stop listening to music and then start using my MacBook Pro, they will connect at the press of a notification. Going the other way it just connects automatically. While not perfect as I would like to see Apple have the ability to connect to any Apple devices automatically, this switching ability such as it is, is one of the chief reasons why people use these because “it just works” due to the fact that you are in Apple’s ecosystem. Here’s another example of this:

The battery widget on my iPhone 12 Pro shows the battery status from the case and the Airpod Pros.

One of the things that you can do to make sure you get the best audio experience is an an ear tip fit test. To do this you have to go into Bluetooth settings, and then tap on the small “i” icon next to the AirPods. From there, choose ear fit test. This will test whether you should use a different set of ear tips or whether the active noise cancelling is working properly. My advice is to choose the ear tips that feel the most comfortable for you after using them for an hour and then do the ear fit test. Speaking of comfort, I had no issues with comfort. But your mileage might vary on that front.

Controlling the AirPods Pro required me to unlearn some muscle memory as I am used to tapping my way through options in truly wireless earbuds. Apple instead has you squeeze the stems and the haptic feedback click (A.K.A: fake clicking) that they make is very convincing. A single squeeze on the stem will pause or play music, a double squeeze will skip to the next song, and a triple squeeze will skip to the next song. You can switch between noise cancelling, transparency mode, or nothing by long-pressing the stem. You also hear unique tones to indicate that the mode has changed.

You can customize them to do what you need as well. And in my case, here’s what I’ve done starting with the left side:

Followed by the right side:

The AirPods Pro is water-resistant and has an IPX4 rating. That means if you get caught in the rain or you sweat, you’re likely going to be fine. If you submerge them, you’ll likely going to be screwed. The case is a has a Lightning connector, but can be charged via a Qi wireless charger or via the same MagSafe charger that iPhone 12 or 13 users can use. More on that later. But the case is not water resistant or waterproof.

But what you’re likely here for is to find out if the sound quality is top notch. Let’s start with the microphones. I tried them out on some Zoom and Microsoft Teams calls and people at the other end of the connection said that I sounded great. But don’t take my word for it, here’s an audio recording so that you can judge for yourself:

This is simply the best audio in any truly wireless earbuds that I have tested. If you spend your day on calls, the AirPods Pro are a win.

Now that calls are covered. How about listening to music? To test that, I tested the AirPods Pro against a pair of truly wireless earbuds that their marketing material claims to have “next level” active noise cancellation, a transparency mode, and “Big, massive, earth-quaking-window-shaking sound”. In other words, it should be similar in capabilities to the AirPods Pro at a similar price point. I then enlisted the help of a HVAC unit that is loud enough to test the noise cancelling of both products. Finally I used the song “Electric Youth” by Denmark + Winter as that’s a song that runs through the audio spectrum from high to low. The net result that the AirPods Pro comes out ahead. But just ahead. Let me explain:

  • The music sounded about the same, but there seemed to be a bit more bass in the AirPods Pro. Highs, vocals, and mids sounded about the same. Which was clear and crispy. The bass wasn’t overdone or overwhelming, which meant it enhanced the music as opposed to destroying it.
  • The noise cancelling is clearly better on the AirPods Pro. On the other earbuds, they mostly killed the sound of the HVAC unit. The AirPods Pro eliminated the HVAC unit completely.
  • From what I remember about my experience with the AirPods Pro in 2019, these AirPods Pro sound better. I don’t know if that’s due to a firmware update, or if it’s a side effect of the resolution of the AirPods Pro service program where AirPods Pro manufactured before October 2020 had sound issues which Apple had to address, and that’s been carried forward into these. Either way, there’s a difference in sound quality for the better.

One other party trick is spatial audio. Spatial audio is Apple’s version of simulated surround sound; It uses a combination of software algorithms and the accelerometers in your AirPods Pro to place sound cues around you in 3D space. This simulates the immersive experience of sitting in the middle of a full surround sound setup. Currently, spatial audio only works with a handful of apps including Apple TV+ and Disney, for videos encoded for 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound as well as Dolby Atmos. All of this requires iOS 14/iPad OS 14 or higher. It also supports Find My, which means that you can leverage the Find My network and use similar functionality as the AirTags to find your AirPods Pro should you lose them. The last party trick is hands free Siri support in the form of “Hey Siri” along with other Siri functionality where messages can be read and responded to among other things.

In terms of battery life, I managed to get 5 hours, 6 minutes of constant playback with ANC turned on switching back and forth between my iPhone 12 Pro and my 16″ MacBook Pro, which is just above average for most true wireless models. It’s worth mentioning that Apple claims you’ll get about 4 hours and 30 minutes of constant playback with active noise cancelling turned on and the volume turned to about 50%. So this is a win as far as I am concerned. You’ll get 24 hours of listening time when you factor in the case.

In terms of charging, I was able to charge it using Lightning, wirelessly via a Qi wireless charger, and via MagSafe. One cool thing I will note is this:

It sticks to the MagSafe charger. Which means it is likely to be fully charged when you need them as it auto aligns to ensure charging takes place. That wouldn’t be the case with Qi wireless charging.

Cons? Well, these don’t work fully with Android. Not that anyone who buys them cares as the majority of people buying them will be Apple users. They’re also expensive. Which brings truly wireless earbuds like the Sony WF-1000XM4, Master & Dynamic MW08, and the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds into play as while they are all more expensive than the AirPods Pro, they have features and sound quality that may make them good alternatives.

That brings me to the price. In Canada the AirPods Pro With MagSafe Case is $329 CDN. That’s not cheap. But if you check Amazon, they are often on sale there. The bottom line is that Apple who has a reputations for making crappy headphones have a pair of good ones on offer that you should have a look at.

Apple’s Self Repair Program…. Don’t Be Fooled By This Announcement

Posted in Commentary with tags on November 18, 2021 by itnerd

Yesterday Apple dropped this press release announcing their Self Repair Program. Starting next year in the US (with other countries coming “soon”), Apple will be allowing users to complete their own repairs via a new online store dedicated to parts and tools. It will give customers who are comfortable with the idea of completing their own repairs access to Apple genuine parts, tools, and manuals, starting with the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 lineups.

The first phase of the program will focus on the iPhone’s most commonly serviced parts, such as the display, battery, and camera, but more kinds of repairs will become available later next year. Apple silicon Macs with the M1 chip, including the MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Pro, Mac mini, and 24-inch iMac will be next to join the program.

The Self Service Repair program will be facilitated by a new Apple Self Service Repair Online Store, offering more than 200 individual parts and tools to complete ‌iPhone 12‌ and ‌iPhone 13‌ repairs at launch. Customers will first need to consult the repair manual to ensure that they are comfortable performing the repair before they order the part(s) and tools required for the repair.

Now this sounds good on the surface. But Apple isn’t doing this out of the goodness of their hearts. In my mind there’s a number of reasons why they are doing this:

  • President Joe Biden signed an executive order earlier this year directing the FTC to crack down on companies who fight the option to do self repairs or third party repairs. Which they have vowed to do. Apple who historically have fought the right to repair anywhere and everywhere must have seen the writing on the wall and decided rather than fight, they should craft a response to this that still has them coming out on top. Plus they can roll this out in any place where they are left with no other choice but to comply.
  • The products mentioned are recent products. Which means that there is the possibility that they are covered by AppleCare. That means nobody is going to do their own repairs on these products as it will be free or cheap for the consumer to leverage AppleCare coverage instead of trying to fix it themselves.
  • You can bet your bottom dollar that Apple is going to provide these tools and parts with a hefty markup. And if you try to repair something and you screw up the repair, you can bet your bottom dollar that Apple will charge you an insane amount of money to fix it.
  • While I might be comfortable swapping a MacBook Pro battery, or an iPhone screen, most consumers, as in 90% or more are not. And Apple knows this. Which means that the take up on this is going to be low.
  • Apple can change the optics away from “Apple is against right to repair” to “Apple is open to right to repair” and get some brownie points for doing so.

But there’s one more thing to borrow an Apple phrase to keep in mind. Apple is only doing this with individuals. Not with third party repair shops. Now they have a program for that which has its own pitfalls for the owners of those shops. But this announcement doesn’t improve upon that. I say that because it still forces the average person to the Genius Bar rather than giving them the option to repair their Apple product wherever they want. And that of course also assumes that you want to pay Apple prices for your repair.

The bottom line is that this is an optics exercise for Apple. If they really wanted to embrace right to repair, they would go further than what was announced. But they haven’t. So don’t be fooled by this announcement. It isn’t what you think it is, and it’s not going to get the results that you think it will.

Do You Have A Lot Of Menu Bar Items On Your 2021 MacBook Pro? Here’s A Tip To Make Sure The Notch Isn’t A Problem

Posted in Tips with tags on November 12, 2021 by itnerd

The most controversial thing about the MacBook Pro that was just released is the notch. While it gives you insanely thin bezels, it does cut into the menu bar. That’s a problem for me as I run iStat Menus which monitors things like RAM and CPU usage as well as system temperature. If I have enough things active, it runs up against the notch:

On the left side of the screenshot is where the notch is. If anything else enters the menu bar, it goes under the notch. For example I’ve gotten rid of the Bluetooth icon for that reason as it was inaccessible at times. I needed a more elegant solution. Which is why after some research I installed a utility called Bartender. What Bartender does is allows you to take control of your menu bar so you can decide what is visible, and when it is visible. In my case when I run it, it makes my menu bar look like this:

While I clearly have a lot more space on my menu bar, you’re likely wondering where the rest of the stuff went to. Well, the stuff that I don’t need to look at on a constant basis gets placed here:

You can see that there’s a hidden menu bar with items that I don’t need on a constant basis. You can make it reappear if you click on the three dots. But the really cool thing is that they can reappear when needed. For example:

  • When I am on battery power, the battery icon will show.
  • When Time Machine is doing a backup, the Time Machine icon will show.
  • When I am disconnected from WiFi, the WiFi icon will show.
  • When my Cisco AnyConnect VPN Connection gets dropped, the icon will show.
  • When Garmin Connect has a notification, the icon will show.

The net result is that I get some space on my menu bar that allows me to see what I need to see, while making sure that the notch will not be an issue. And this setup can help anyone who doesn’t have a new MacBook Pro, but simply has a Mac with a ton of menu bar items.

Hopefully this tip helps you. If you have any ideas as to how to bring sanity to your menu bar, leave a comment or send me an email and share your thoughts.

Apple Introduces Apple Business Essentials

Posted in Commentary with tags on November 11, 2021 by itnerd

Apple today announced Apple Business Essentials, an all-new service that brings together device management, 24/7 Apple Support, and iCloud storage into flexible subscription plans for small businesses with up to 500 employees. The company also unveiled a new Apple Business Essentials app that enables employees to install apps for work and request support.

Apple Business Essentials saves precious time for small businesses as they grow. Available today in beta, the service supports small businesses through the total device management life cycle — from device setup to employee onboarding and device upgrades — while providing strong security, prioritized support, and secure data storage and backup.

Apple Business Essentials is a complete solution that makes employee onboarding simple, allowing a small business to easily configure, deploy, and manage Apple products from anywhere.

Within Apple Business Essentials, Collections enable IT personnel to configure settings and apps for individual users, groups, or devices. When employees sign in to their corporate or personally owned device with their work credentials, Collections automatically push settings such as VPN configurations and Wi-Fi passwords. In addition, Collections will install the new Apple Business Essentials app on each employee’s home screen, where they can download corporate apps assigned to them, such as Cisco Webex or Microsoft Word.

With Apple Business Essentials, it’s simple to maintain strong security across the organization. IT managers can enforce critical security settings such as FileVault for full-disk encryption on Mac, and Activation Lock to protect devices that may be lost or stolen — and Apple Business Essentials ensures these aren’t turned off by mistake. When employees use a personal device at work, User Enrollment creates cryptographic separation for work data, to ensure employee data remains private while company data remains secure.

In addition to streamlined setup and onboarding, Apple Business Essentials provides a dedicated iCloud account for work, providing simple and secure storage, backup, and collaboration on files and documents. Business data in iCloud is automatically stored and backed up, making it easy to move between devices or upgrade to a new device.

Businesses have the option to add fast and reliable service for employee devices with prioritized Apple Support. When a business adds AppleCare+ for Business Essentials to its plan, they get 24/7 access to phone support, training for both IT administrators and employees, and up to two device repairs per plan each year. Employees can initiate repairs directly from the new Apple Business Essentials app, and an Apple-trained technician can come onsite in as little as four hours to get their devices back up and running.

A set of three simple Apple Business Essentials plans enable businesses to cover every employee and device in their organization. Plans can be customized to support each user with up to three devices and up to 2TB of secure storage in iCloud, starting at $2.99 per month, with optional AppleCare+ for Apple Business Essentials.

Apple Business Essentials is available as a free beta starting today in the US. The service will be fully available in the spring of 2022. To sign up for the beta, visit apple.com/business/essentials.

Two Easy Ways To Easily Tell If You Are Running Mac Apps That Are Compatible With Apple Silicon

Posted in Tips with tags on November 9, 2021 by itnerd

So you just got a brand you Mac with the M1, M1 Pro, or M1 Mac processor in it. Congratulations! You absolutely made the right decision. But to fully leverage that new processor, you need apps that are designed for Apple Silicon so that you get the best performance and the best compatibility. Which means the question is, how do you make sure that your apps are ones that work with Apple Silicon? Before I get into the two ways that I would recommend to do that, let me explain the three different app types and why you should care:

  • X86-64 app running under Rosetta 2: If you’re coming from another Mac, or the developer of the app in question is on the lazy side, they may have only created an app that runs on Intel Macs that have Intel processors using the X86-64 bit instruction set. Which means that when you use that app on an Apple Silicon computer, macOS will have to use a translation layer called Rosetta 2 to allow it to run on Apple Silicon. Most of the time this works very well. However it is entirely possible that you may not be getting the best performance from the app in Rosetta 2. Also, it is also possible that you may have some issues with the app as no translation is perfect.
  • Universal Apps: This is where things get a bit confusing. Apple uses the term “Universal” for Apple Silicon/M1 optimized apps which work with Intel Macs too. But Apple uses the same term to refer to the same app being available on iOS and macOS. In this case, I am talking about the former as that form of Universal App ensures that you get good performance and compatibility with Apple Silicon Macs.
  • Apple Silicon Apps: These are apps that are native on Apple Silicon. These apps will give you the absolute best performance on your Apple Silicon Mac.

At the moment, I would expect most people who own Apple Silicon Macs to have Universal as developers really only want to write one app that works on both Intel and Apple Silicon platforms. But over the next few years, I expect that developers will transition over to Apple Silicon apps because there will be less and less Intel Macs in the market as time goes on and Apple will eventually drop support for Rosetta 2 for that reason. Thus it’s in your interest to make sure that you have as many apps that are Apple Silicon compatible as possible to stay ahead of this.

So, how can you tell what types of apps you’re running. Apple has a built in tool called System Information that can help you with that. Simply go to the Apple Menu –> About This Mac –> System Report. This will bring up System Information. Scroll down to the Software section and pick Applications. You should see this:

Here is where you will see all the apps that are on your Mac. Under “Kind” you will the type of app. In the screen shot above, you will see that I have the Apple Silicon version of Zoom, but everything else on the screen is a Universal app. You will also see iOS apps which is fine, Intel apps are ones which you should upgrade if you can, and Other. I honestly have no clue what that is. And nothing that I searched for cleared that up for me. If anyone out there has any info on this, I’d really appreciate a comment or an email with some clarification.

The second option is to use an app called Silicon which scans your computer for apps and displays everything in a user friendly way:

If you see a green dot next to the app, you’re good. If you see a yellow dot next to the app, then you need to update the app. It really doesn’t get any simpler.

Once you have an idea of what types of apps you have, I would go to the developer’s website or to the App Store to see if there is an update. If there isn’t one, I would email the developer as that may encourage them to update their app seeing as they will have to do it at some point.

Hopefully this helps you to get the most out of your new Apple Silicon Mac. If you have any questions, please leave a comment or send me an email and I’ll do my best to help you out.

So Now That I Have A 2021 16″ MacBook Pro, Am I No Longer Living The Dongle Life? Answer: No

Posted in Commentary with tags on November 7, 2021 by itnerd

One of the headline features of the new MacBook Pro is that Apple added back the HDMI and SD Card slots along with MagSafe. So does that mean that I am not living the dongle life.

The short answer is no. The longer answer goes something like this.

Even though Apple put back the ports that they took away in 2016. there are still dongles that one will need to use depending on their use case. In my use case, I have the need for three dongles:

I need a USB-C to Ethernet dongle, in this case made by Belkin, because I often over to program enterprise class network switches, or I sometimes have the need to use Ethernet instead of WiFi. Since the MacBook Pro doesn’t come with built-in Ethernet, I need a dongle for this purpose.

This is a USB-A to USB-C adapter from Apple. I have a ton of USB-A devices so this is an absolute requirement for me as this MacBook Pro doesn’t have a USB-A port.

This is a USB-C to VGA adapter from Belkin. Now you’re wondering why I would get this adapter. Well, many offices still use projectors that only have VGA. So to ensure that I am never caught out, I have always kept one of these in my bag just in case.

The bottom line is that even with the return of the ports on the New MacBook Pros, you will still need dongles. Though I suspect that you will need less dongles than before. Or put another way, you will still be living a form of the dongle life.

Can’t Get The Apple Polishing Cloth? Get This Cloth Instead…. If You Can

Posted in Commentary with tags on November 6, 2021 by itnerd

The Apple Polishing Cloth is the surprise runaway hit from Apple’s October event. It wasn’t actually announced, but once it was discovered it sold out quickly. It’s even gotten the iFixit teardown treatment. That’s because up until now, that the only way you could get your hands on one was to buy an Apple Pro Display XDR. Apple says it is made of “soft, nonabrasive material” designed to prevent damage to nano-texture displays. In short, you need the Apple Polishing Cloth to clean it properly without harming the display in any way. Presumably to allow Apple to avoid another “Staingate“. And it’s got a compatibility list which is mind blowing.

It’s available for $19 USD, if you can get your hands on one as it’s sold out into February 2022 which is insane.

iFixit describes the cloth as follows:

The material feels identical to the inner lining of an iPad Smart Cover, which features a thin layer of microfiber on the inside. Both have a distinct synthetic leather feel to them with a hint of fuzziness, similar to Alcantara.

And:

Upon closer inspection, it’s actually two cloths glued together! If you feel a bit underwhelmed by your $19 purchase, pull both layers apart and suddenly you have two cloths, each costing only $9.50.

Now I have been a victim of “Staingate“, but I am not going to pay $19 USD for a cloth. So I figured that I needed an option that was just as good. I did manage to examine one of these cloths for a few minutes as I have have a client with a Pro Display XDR. To me, this cloth is similar to if not exactly the same as the ones that have shipped with lab quality microscopes for years. So with the help of my wife who works in a lab with these sorts of microscopes, I sourced an alternative from Amazon. They do a great job of cleaning my new MacBook Pro screen and they cost $22.28 CDN for 24 cloths which is less than one Apple Polishing Cloth. Clearly others have figured this out as these cloths are sold out as I type this. But it is likely to be back in stock way sooner than the Apple Polishing Cloth. So if you want a cloth to clean your MacBook Pro screen, that’s likely your best option that isn’t from Apple. And to further help you, here is Apple’s official advice for cleaning Apple screens.