Thoughts From Today’s Apple Event

new 24 inch imacs

Apple’s pre-recorded presentations have gotten so tight it’s kind of wild to think of the number of things that got announced in just an hour.

Apple Card Announcements

This was a nice little surprise. I still think there’s some bullshit in the recent news that cleared the Apple Card of sexist behavior (when the rules are influenced by sexism but you followed the rules, it doesn’t mean you aren’t sexist). However, the added ability for multiple family members to share a card and build credit history is nice. I hope Apple keeps investing in new features for Apple Card; it’s an area that a company with Apple’s pull can really do a lot of good.

Podcasts

I’m not surprised Apple’s making the moves it’s making with podcasts, but I’m sad that big companies are continuing to try to dismantle the open podcast ecosystem by pushing people to use their own proprietary apps.

I’m not worried about the podcasts I listen to; they tend to be made by people who care about being independent and will stay that way, but I worry a lot about truly open podcasts as a market shrinking. Soon podcasts might look the way streaming TV looks now, where you need five different services just to watch all your shows. That sucks.

That said, I do like the thought that this might get more people in the habit of paying for podcasts. While I understand not every podcast listener has the money to pay for podcasts, I think that direct financial support is a great way to make more sustainable podcasts.

New Apple TV Hardware

Just some bullet point thoughts on this

  • Finally!
  • Putting in A12 chips is a little chintzy. Hopefully they can be clocked a little higher to make up for their age?
  • Redesigned remote: another resounding “Finally!” This remote appears to address some longstanding annoyances while ignoring others. They kept it flat and symmetrical so it’s difficult to tell by feel whether you’re holding it right side up. Also, why not put in a U1 chip+tiny speaker for Find My support?
  • The color calibration thing is the kind of small annoyance that only Apple would obsess over, and using the iPhone as the calibration device is a really clever use of Apple’s vertical integration.

AirTags

The rumor mill’s been talking about these for years, so it’s good to see they’re actually real.

The concept is cool enough, but I’d have gotten way more value out of Apple rolling out meaningful Find My support to its whole accessory ecosystem. My AirPods case would greatly benefit from Find My support, as would my Pencil and my Apple TV remote, all things I routinely lose.

The form factor of the AirTags feels super limiting. You can hang it from your keys or luggage, but what else can it go on? And even if they were tiny and versatile enough that they could go on anything, they’re still pricey enough that I wouldn’t put them on tons of stuff.

I like seeing Apple is continuing to invest in Find My as a whole ecosystem though.

iMac

I’m still partially holding my breath to see what Apple does with higher end computers (in the meantime I’m sitting pretty with my Mac Pro so don’t worry about me). So far, they’ve only been making Macs with an M1 chip. The M1 Macs are great machines; they’re speedy and power-efficient, but they are still the low end.

These iMacs announced today are the first Apple Silicon Macs to have a new hardware design, and I’m really excited to see Apple finally evolve the iMac’s industrial design.

Seriously, these iMacs are just beautiful. It’s not just that they have new colors, but they have a beautiful new industrial design and they are so thin (and there’s no bulge anymore that the previous-gen iMacs had).

I hope that the higher-end iMacs get the same color treatment but I have a feeling pro users will be stuck with a muted color palette.

I can appreciate that the M1 machines have a 16 gigabyte memory limit. I’m not crazy about that limit, but Apple’s M1 machines are incredible even with that limitation. But offering iMacs in an 8 GB configuration feels criminal to me. Modern applications command more memory, and Apple can bullshit us all they want about how the unified memory architecture is better (and there is absolutely truth to it) but no amount of memory unification makes 8 gigs enough memory, and these base level iMacs will have a shorter life for it.

That said, these latest iMacs continue the iMac’s reputation of being the Mac-iest Mac. You can look at an iMac and see the soul of the original 128k Mac shine through. The new industrial design is fresh and will carry the iMac well into this decade.

iPad Pro

I’ve been hoping to see iPadOS become more desktop-like and after seeing the new iPad Pro announced today, I feel like Apple’s really teeing itself up for that too.

When you buy an iPad Pro, you’re buying Mac hardware (and as it would turn out, you’re also paying Mac prices). You’re getting the full M1 processor like the Macs have. That gives you a real USB 4/Thunderbolt port, which lets you plug iPad into a 6k Pro Display XDR (still with mirroring, but I bet we’ll see that change soon). Apple’s even starting to talk about the amount of memory in the iPad Pro, something it’s never done with iPads before.

It’s become clear that Apple thinks of iPads as a full-blown personal computer and they’re giving it the kind of hardware that they feel a personal computer deserves.

I’d like to have seen it get the headphone jack back (hell, even the new iMacs get a headphone jack).

Also, the XDR display in the 12.9 inch iPad Pro looks like a remarkable technical feat. The 32 inch Pro Display XDR is an impressive display, but it uses just 72 different LEDs to create local dimming zones. That means that for images that are mostly a black background with small lit objects, the Pro Display XDR has serious blooming problems. The 12.9" iPad’s display has thousands of LEDs to light the screen, which greatly reduces the problem. I bet it will look stunning in person.

I’ll be buying an iPad Pro, but as much as I love RAM I might struggle to justify the sucker punch of the price tag for a model with 16 gigs of memory.

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