Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you
Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you

The Wrap – June 9, 2017

What Apple announced this week at WWDC, Foxtel takes on Netflix, Oppo’s newest phone and our obsession with the old and broken phones. This is The Wrap.


It’s the second week of June, and you’re tuned into The Wrap, Australia’s fastest technology round-up that you can enjoy anywhere you’re keen to hear about the latest news and reviews in technology.

And this week, that world starts with a “world” of a different kind, with Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference, a middle of the year showcase for what Apple is doing next, and based on what we saw earlier in the week, Apple has a lot coming.

Let’s start with the iPad Pro, because you’ll find two models of that on the way, here to replace the aging iPad Pro with something a little newer, a little faster, and a little better suited for the crazy world of apps we’ll all be sending its way.

The new iPad Pro models are a 10.5 inch model replacing the old 9.7 inch one and a 12.3 inch model that just kind of takes over the place of the old 12.3 inch model, and both of these bring a newer faster processor, better graphics, and the support to process 4K video.

They both even have the new cameras straight out of the iPhone 7, with a 12 megapixel rear camera and 7 megapixel front camera, making them ideal for 4K video capture from the tablet, handy because that’s really what you want your tablet to do: make 4K films.

Apple was a little resistant to the whole 4K thing, but it seems to be in full swing now, and its latest iMac announced this week is one made to handle 4K filmmaking and then some.

This is the iMac Pro, and while the new iPad Pros are interesting, we think the iMac Pro might be our favourite little announcement this week, as Apple has basically taken the 27 inch iMac and stuffed high-end workstation technology into the desktop computer, resulting in an Apple computer made for video, photo editing, animation, development, games; you name it, this is basically the powerhouse of all-in-one systems behind a 27 inch 5K screen.

There’s no word on price yet, but when it comes to Australia later this year, don’t expect it to be cheap. It’ll be powerful, but it definitely won’t be cheap.

And Apple also used its conference to announce a new version of its mobile operating system, iOS 11, as well as a new version of its smartwatch operating system, watchOS 4, complete with more Disney watchfaces from a well known Pixar franchise.

There’s also a new speaker coming from Apple — yes, we said a speaker — as the company creates a sort of hybrid between music speaker and physical Siri hub. It’s called HomePod — because we can’t let the “pod” name die — and you’ll be able to ask it to play music and also ask Siri all the things you might normally ask.

Apple also spent its time upgrading the MacBook, MacBook Pro, and the regular and presently available iMac, and its MacBook Air even saw an update, tiny as it is with a new processor, though to be honest, it’s not very new.

In fact, the MacBook Air update is probably the most frustrating thing about the updates this week, because practically everything saw an update, but yet for some reason Apple keeps this outdated relic with a mediocre screen around. Just retire it already. It was past its prime years ago, and it’s still here. It’s the oldest of the old for Apple’s computers.

We’re big fans of choices, and that’s just not a great one anymore, and there’s more choice not just in computers this week, but TV, too. Specifically, streaming TV.

This week Foxtel decided to take on streaming players like Netflix by relaunching its Foxtel Play service as Foxtel New, a service designed to bring Foxtel’s channels to the digital world.

Now it’s not as cut and dry as say the one price the other streaming providers offer, making Foxtel that wee bit extra complicated, and definitely the most expensive of the bunch, because while Foxtel Now starts at $10 per month, you have to add extra packs just like you would on cable in order to get extra channels and shows. For instance if you want to watch Game of Thrones, that’ll cost you $15 per month, and if you want Foxtel’s sports, you’ll need to tack on $39 extra per month.

The upside is that you don’t have to get locked in for a year or two and can pay monthly, streaming from mobile devices, but the downside is the cost, because the moment you go over that $15 per month, Foxtel Now becomes the most expensive streaming service in Australia, and that could be a hard pill for some to swallow.

We’re actually not sure why Foxtel hasn’t revisited the pricing and slimmed it down for people who want to stream and are happy to not record, just getting content on-demand and from its servers. Imagine if Foxtel Now cost $20 per month for all entertainment programs and channels, and a further $20 per month for sports. Yes it would be expensive, but at least the pricing would feel better, and be more in line with the sort of pricing we’re seeing from other streaming providers.

And we get it: Foxtel doesn’t want to be seen as a streaming provider. Technically, it’s a broadcaster and cable provider which is very different, but these days, that hardly matters, and when you’re competing against other streaming services like Netflix, like Stan, like Amazon Prime Video, and even iTunes and Google Play Movies & TV, you actually have to feel like you’re competing, and we’re not sure Foxtel is doing that, even with Foxtel Now.

At least you can decide if you really want it, which is a fair sight better than the way we treat old phones, and this week there’s news that for a population of just under 24 million, Australia has a surprising amount of pointless phones, many of which are junk and could be recycled.

That’s the word from Mobile Muster, which did some research to find that we have almost as many phones doing nothing as we have people living in the country.

Mobile Muster’s research says there is an estimated 23 million phones doing nothing that aren’t broken and could be given to people and put back into action, while a further five million are broken, useless, and should be recycled.

That research comes as Mobile Muster aims to get people recycling their broken phones and cables to recover the materials being used, because much of what’s inside these devices can be recovered. We’re talking metals and plastics, not your hidden selfies, with the important materials reused, while your old data is disposed of securely and safely.

According to Mobile Muster, 50,000 phones can remove the need to mine over 330 tonnes of metal ore, suggesting there’s a lot of metal we could get out of those five million sitting in a drawer doing nothing, and even more from the 23 million gathering dust quickly.

You might even be looking at your phone now and wondering if it’s worth keeping or updating, and if you are, you’re not alone.

This week saw a few phones make their way into Pickr’s tracking system, including a $199 6 inch phone from Alcatel, a slightly more premium 6 inch phone from Sony on Vodafone, and a budget $300 ($328) phone from Oppo, which we reviewed at the site.

That phone is the Oppo A57, and while the name is confusing, the phone itself is the company’s latest stab at a play between budget and mid-range, delivering everything you might need in a metal phone for not too much money.

It’s an area Oppo has been working on for ages, and the A57 continues what we’ve seen in devices like the F1 and F1s, with a 5.2 inch screen with an acceptable but not amazing high definition resolution, an eight-core processor, and a relatively meaty feature list for the price, including 32GB of storage, a 13 megapixel rear camera, 16 megapixels for the front-facing selfie camera, and a fingerprint sensor.

Oppo is known for making what is basically an iPhone clone, and that’s really what the A57 is: a $328 iPhone Clone that offers a metal body, the look and feel of an iPhone sitting atop Android, and around two days of battery life.

While you may run into some performance bumps here and there, Oppo has managed to hit some strong targets in the A57, with the phone really nailing value without any problems. This phone is not an iPhone, no way, but for the price, you’re not going to care, and it really does come off as a great device for people keen on an iPhone but not happy to pay the price.

You’ll find the full review at the website, and that’s all the time we have for The Wrap. Tune in next week for more news and reviews in the space of time it takes to fully finish your regular morning cup of whatever.

Have a great weekend, and we’ll see you next time on The Wrap.

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