I did not “Let Loose”

From the Apple Canada website. Missing: Tim Cook saying, “Good mooorning!”

Apple had an “event” today, and I put that in quotes because the event is just another pre-recorded video showing off new hardware. Apple also decided to air it at 7 a.m. Pacific, so I assume they are past getting live views and just want the video out early so tech sites, “influencers” and the like can spend the rest of the day posting stories about what got unveiled. Unless the EC beings down new restrictions on Apple today, then all the various media will pivot to that story, because it’ll be a lot juicier.

I doubt I’ll go back and watch the video now, because what was revealed had all been leaked days, weeks and in some cases, many months earlier. The highlights:

  • iPad Pro but with OLED and M4. Thinner, just the way Apple likes it! Otherwise, it’s an iPad.
  • 13″ iPad Air (new) and 11″ (same) with M2 (new, but -2 from the M4). Gotta differentiate Pro from Not Pro. Otherwise, it’s an iPad.
  • A fourth Apple Pencil, but now it’s Pro1Next year Apple will change its name to Apple Pro Inc.. But it also works with the new Air. But it also only works with the new Air and new Pros, meaning Apple now has four pencils in its line-up that all work with different models and generations of iPad. This Pro one includes a squeeze gesture and “barrel roll” feature. It’s otherwise an Apple Pencil.
  • Apple killed the $329 ninth-generation iPad and brought the price of the 10th generation model down to $349, from $399. This means an overall price increase for the base of $20, which is not bad considering the features of the 10th generation.
  • All front-facing cameras are now on the long side of the iPad. It only took them 14 years to fix this.
  • The base model of the iPad Pro 13″ model, equivalent to the one I got in 2020, now comes with 256GB of storage instead of 128GB. That’s good. It starts at $1800. That’s bad. In fact, it’s ludicrous. Add an Apple Pencil Pro®? It’s now $1968. Fancy a “magic” keyboard, too? $2417. Now, add your taxes and…$2,707.04! Also, note that unless you go for the 1 or 2TB storage options ($830 and $1380 more, respectively), you actually get a binned M4 with fewer cores. Watch the Luke Miani video below for more on this.
  • Fun Fact: That 2020 iPad Pro I bought cost $1169. If you add about $150 to match the 256GB of storage for the new model, it comes to $1319, which is still almost $500 less than the new one. I mean, I understand Apple charging so much more. OLED is a brand-new screen technology Apple just invented, and the company is desperately in need of revenue, as it is down to its last few pennies.
The video is better than the thumbnail.

And that’s about it. Just refinements, some (rather large) price increases, more product confusion, more gating (the Apple Pencil Pro works on the new iPad Air, which has no new hardware, but won’t work on the older M2 iPad Pros, which run the same SoC) and a bunch of iPads. I don’t think these will move sales much, other than the 10th gen now being sensibly priced.

Something you don’t expect to see under “The good” in an Ars Technica review

In service to our great AR/VR future, Samuel Axon tested the Apple Vision Pro outdoors and in public settings. My favourite part may be that he opened the Music app and placed the window in a neighbour’s yard, then had to leave it there, because you can’t easily take windows around with you (to be fair, this is not something you should normally expect to do with the Apple headset)1.

  1. And yes, technically, you could argue this is not a review. But you could also have a chocolate chip cookie instead, and you would enjoy that more. ↩︎

The Macintosh was released 40 years ago today. I am mandated to tell a story about it.

macintosh classic
Kids, ask your parents about floppy drives. Photo by Sidde on Pexels.com

Because everyone else on the internet is doing it.

I did not use a Macintosh in 1984, My home computer at the time was a Commodore 64, which, at $200 U.S., was somewhat more affordable than the $2495 Macintosh.

But I did use a Macintosh in 1985, when, as part of a job entry program, I was placed into a small advertising firm that was outfitted with Macs and a LaserWriter. The LaserWriter fascinated me as a child of dot matrix printers that were slow, loud and mangled paper as soon as you turned your back to them. The LaserWriter was silent1OK, silent-ish and sexy.

I remember three things from my time in that early Macintosh office:

  • I didn’t have a lot to actually do, so I spent time writing a parody screenplay for a Friday the 13th movie I called “Friday the 13th, Part VII: Orville Finds a Meat Cleaver.” I printed out a copy on that sleek LaserWriter and still have it today.
  • I am left-handed but learned to use a mouse right-handed because the mouse cord was not long enough to place the mouse on the left side of the Macintosh. I still use mice right-handed today.
  • The owner of the company, a serious young man named Arnold Brown, got mad at me for adding helpful directions into a database of local businesses. I remain as adept with databases today. I could have easily fixed the entries, but he insisted on doing it himself, perhaps as penance for having agreed to bring me on.

My own Mac journey is thus:

  • 2013: I got my first Mac, a MacBook Air. This was just after they got bumped to 8 GB of ram. They still come with 8 GB of ram, more than 10 years later. I didn’t really like macOS back then and traded the Air for a Microsoft Surface Pro 3. There are people out there who are probably wondering what kind of madman I was, but the SP3 had a better display, pen support (I used it for doodling at times) and I was able to crank out an entire novel on it.
  • 2018: I got a Mac mini. It had the flakiest Wi-Fi and Bluetooth I have ever encountered in a computer. I got rid of this, too.
  • 2020: MacBook Air M1. Finally, a Mac I genuinely liked! The one-monitor limitation was stupid, but I used a USB adapter to work around it. I used it exclusively at home, so eventually sold it, as it seemed silly to have a laptop that sat on the desk 100% of the time.
  • 2022: We arrive at my fourth Mac. We’ll see how long this one lasts. It’s a Mac Studio with the M1 Max SoC. It generally runs everything very well. It is silent. The design is surprisingly ugly (a stretched up mini is not much to look at). Bluetooth is better, but also still flaky. It’s like Apple keeps the secret sauce to how it works for their own peripherals. The worst thing, though, is the way software will randomly crash out with no warning. This happens across all apps, including Apple’s own. I reboot the Mac every once in a while and just hope for the best. It’s a fine machine, otherwise, and while macOS has regressed in some ways recently, it’s better than it was in 2013.

Bonus story with me and a Mac in it: Four days before Christmas 1998, someone broke into my apartment while I was at work and stole my PC (a Celeron something or other, whose processor I had upgraded just a few weeks earlier) and my roommate’s strawberry G3 iMac. I think my roommie eventually got another Mac, though I have no recollection of what it was. The strawberry iMac was much prettier than my PC.

The face computer

Apple wants everyone to refer to their Vision Pro headset as a “spatial computer”, not an AR/VR headset, because Apple loves twee-sounding names (that sometimes stick, but mostly just look vaguely silly years later, like “Dynamic Island” does and will). Verge writer David Pierce, in this article, refers to it (cheekily) as a “face computer” and it makes me smile every time I see it.

Also, the image below will always make me giggle. Apple is desperately trying to make wearing a VR headset (sorry, face computer) a perfectly normal, everyday thing, not something out of a Black Mirror episode where the eyes staring back out of the headset display start shooting death rays or something.

Click to learn more!

Jason Snell, former editor of Macworld, posted a link on Mastodon to a story he wrote on his own site, Six Colors, about automations. So far, nothing abnormal here.

When I went to read the story, a newer one had been posted in the interim, about how the soon-to-be-defunct news app Artifact had one killer feature, as summed up in the headline of Jason’s story:

Jason: “…what I loved about Artifact was that you could take a meaningless clickbait headline and have the app read the story and write a new headline based on its contents.”

Also Jason: “…in the era of the web and news aggregators, headlines that give away pertinent information have become a lost art. Whole generations of editors have been trained to write coy headlines that will earn a click, even if the people who are clicking will be immediately disappointed by the truth of the story.”

Scroll a little down from this story, and you’ll find another piece linked from Macworld that Jason wrote. The headline on Macworld is a bit different, but essentially the same:

That’s right–it’s a classic clickbait headline, posted on the same day that Jason was complaining about…clickbait headlines. I guess writing good headlines truly is a lost art. 🙂

Apple logic courtesy of Mark Gurman

On the AirPods Max, which were released three years ago (2020) and have not been updated in any way since:

Apple also looks to breathe new life into the AirPods Max headphones. The cans don’t sell well enough for the company to invest in entirely new hardware or software features, but Apple is planning a model that trades in the Lightning charger for USB-C and potentially adds new colors.

Mark Gurman

This is a rumour, so we can’t treat it as actually happening, but it sounds plausible, so let’s play through the logic as if this is what will come to be:

  • AirPods Max released in 2020. Consensus is: great noise-canceling, very good sound, terrible case/charging setup, overpriced.
  • Apple does nothing with the line for the next three years.
  • The perception is the headphones do not sell that well.
  • Apple is going to “breathe new life” into them.
  • But they don’t sell well enough to make actual improvements, so they’ll only get some different colours (maybe) and a switch to USB-C, which is being mandated by EU law, anyway.

Unless “breathe new life” doesn’t mean “generate new sales” this plan makes no sense. If Apple doesn’t address the shortcomings of the AirPods Max, no one is going to rush out and start buying them again. Yes, you’ll get a tiny sliver of sales for some different colours, but given Apple’s recent history with colour (fear, paranoia) we might not even know the colours have been updated. I think what bugs me is that the world’s richest, fattest company can’t be bothered to properly update some of their products when some, like Sony and countless others, regularly improve and iterate.

But hey, they are the world’s richest company for a reason, and I’m just a schlub on the internet, so don’t mind me!

Apple’s October 30, 2023 Scary Fast event

If you’d like a nice, non-sarcastic (mostly) take on what Apple unveiled today, have a look at Jason Snell’s post on Six Colors.

If you’d like my take on the actual event, which may contain a wee bit of sarcasm, read on!

Scary Fast

Everyone knew this event would be all about Macs since the preview image included the Mac Finder and so it was. It began at an unusual 5 p.m. Pacific and, being a day before Halloween, had a spooky Halloween theme. The scariest part is checking the prices of everything in Canadian dollars.

I didn’t do timestamps for the event, but the whole thing wrapped up in 30 minutes. There were no interminable sketches about how great Apple is doing on the environment or constant reminders about Apple’s (newly more expensive) services–though there were still reminders.

  • The event starts with music that is bad, but not overly loud, possibly because really loud music is not spooky.
  • We then transition into a Mac ad about “hard work” where everyone is cute and riffs on comments everyone else makes, including a guy from Porsche, because everyone can relate to the simple pleasures of a Porsche. At the end, everyone has a good laugh about how they may be doing hard work, but working isn’t hard on a Mac! I can see the marketing team high-fiving each other over this.
  • We see Apple Park at night, but it’s been enhanced to look all foggy and spooky (I will be using that word a lot). The camera is flying all over, but you know its destination: Tim Cook. Will he be dressed as a pirate? The ghost of Steve Jobs? A giant carbon credit? He is dressed as none of these things. He is dressed as Tim Cook, though he is favouring dark clothes because spooky.
  • Tim doesn’t say much and we move on to the “lab” with Johny the Chip Guy. The lab is dark and spooky. In the back is a glowing pumpkin that is actually an orange iMac from like 2002 or something.
  • Johny intros the M3, M3 Pro, M3 Max and M3 Fred. Just kidding, Fred is not ready yet. Neither is the M3 Ultra, but it will presumably come out later, as did the M1 and M2 versions. These chips are totes faster, though if you look, they constantly emphasize performance vs. M1, because vs. M2 they’re merely 10-15% faster, which is nice, but not roll-your-socks-up-and-down exciting.
  • Dynamic caching is introduced for the GPU. It will help with demanding applications and make for better games. Both of them!
  • Ray tracing, just like on the iPhone 15 (they don’t say this, but it’s basically the same thing). Ray Tracing would also be a great character name in some future noir thriller.
  • More vague graphs comparing M1 to M3.
  • M3 Max now supports up to 128 GB ram, which is impressive until you remember the Intel Mac Pro supported 1.5 TB.
  • We now transition magically to Kate! Kate is dressed in black because spooky.
  • Kate talks about the MacBook Pros. They have axed the 13″ MBP ($1299) and replaced it with a 14″ MBP ($1599). You may be thinking, “Don’t they have a 14″ MBP already?” Yes! Now they have two. This new one is basically the same 14″ model, but only gets the M3, no Pro or Max. Also, the touch bar is DEAD. They should have had a ghostly visage of it floating behind Kate.
  • I kid you not, they highlight performance by showcasing Myst. You know, that game that came out 30 years ago. It’s like they sit down and say, “We need a list of popular Mac games” and no one ever comes up with anything other than Myst.
  • For some reason, taking 18 months to bump memory from 96 GB to 128 GB of ram is touted as a great feat.
  • 22 hours of battery life. Impressive!
  • They slam Intel laptops, including older Intel Mac laptops. 11x faster! 11 hours more battery life! WHY ARE YOU STILL USING INTEL MACBOOKS YOU GODLESS HEATHENS? Intel Mac laptops actively seek out kittens and rub their fur the wrong way. It’s true.
  • Modest card: “World’s best laptop display”
  • A new colour!
  • An ad for the new oclour!
  • It’s Space Black, or as everyone else calls it, dark gray.
  • They promise it hides fingerprints better and is durable, a handy quality for an electronic device.
  • Suddenly an awkward plug for Monarch, coming next month to Apple TV+. Totally worth the price increase! It’ll look great on these new Macs, see?
  • Baldur’s Gate 3 is name-dropped. This is actually a current top-tier game, a unicorn among Mac titles.
  • Suddenly, Kate is standing in someone’s living room. Behind her a guy on a couch is playing a guitar while a girl sits next to a coffee table kind of looking at her MacBook. A keyboard is on the floor. Neither of them seem to notice Kate is suddenly with them and talking to what would be a wall.
  • Kate suddenly zaps into a lab of some sort. It is an immaculate lab, everything perfectly arranged. It’s not spooky, though.
  • Kate leaps again (not literally, though that would have been awesome) to her final stop: Some tony home where a person is using a MacBook to control three monitors and what seems to be a large TV above them. The little nook he’s in has foam on the walls to dampen and absorb sound, such as all the gabbing Kate is doing, which the guy sitting there does not seem to notice.
  • It has taken 24 minutes so far to say “We have new chips in our laptops, which are otherwise unchanged.”
  • Back to John. He announces prices, which are the same as before but truly scary when converted to Canadian, just in time for Halloween and forevermore.
  • He also mentions the 24″ iMac getting the M3. No other changes. Price the same. He talks about all its features, which, again, are not new or changed in any way. You can sense the audience starting to squirm at this point. I am starting to squirm.
  • One more potshot at Intel: 4x faster than their lousy old iMacs.
  • John then claims the 24″ iMac is the “perfect size” to replace both the 21.5 and 27″ intel iMacs, which is an odd thing to say. I suspect some people with 27″ iMacs would not consider a smaller display to be better, nor would they like the utter lack of ports or other compromises in the 24″ iMac, which, again, is a desktop computer, where thinness and lightness are not really a top priority.
  • Back to Tim! He reveals himself to be a gay werewolf. Nah, just kidding. He actually says “Only Apple can deliver” the deep integration between all their devices, so BUY ALL THE DEVICES, OK? Especially Macs, because sales are way down.
  • We are now 30 minutes in and the event ends with a card that notes it was shot on iPhone and edited on Mac. It will later be cut up into memes and posted on TikTok.
  • And that’s a wrap!

One of the shortest Apple events ever, with no real new products (the low end 14″ MacBook Pro is kind of new), so basically 30 minutes to say, “New chips, yay!” to plug Apple TV+, and mercilessly diss Intel. It could have been a press release.

Apple September 2023 “Wonderlust” event: My medium-warm takes

Apple held its annual iPhone event today. They showed two new phones and two new watches. This took 82 excruciating minutes. Behold below, my summary written in a magical list as I watched/endured.

First, some alternate titles for the event that Apple didn’t use:

  • Paddedlust
  • Titaniumlust
  • CarbonNeutrallust

And, of course:

  • Magicallust

And now, the event, minute by agonizing minute!

NOTE: Gratuitously bolded words and phrases ahead.
  • The event starts with obnoxiously loud music, as per usual. Seriously, if normal volume is a 1, this is about 100. If it’s too loud for my ears, it is too loud for all of humanity.
  • Before anyone speaks, a sizzle reel!
  • But this sizzle reel is all about feels!
  • Specifically, it is framed around people celebrating birthdays because their Apple Watch called 911 when they crashed/had a heart attack/got kidnapped by aliens, so instead of dying, they had another birthday to celebrate. Teary testimonies all around.
  • LESSON: Buy an Apple Watch OR YOU WILL DIE.
  • Next up: Tim Cook, who says they’ll be covering the iPhone and Watch for the next 78 minutes, though it will seem much longer.
  • First, though, Tim highlights new Macs released in June, quoting Marques Brownlee on how rad they are, because if you can’t trust some guy on YouTube, who can you trust? Also, a plug for the Vision Pro, because it’s still coming and you better start saving now lol.
  • They also use the Vision Pro segment to highlight how great TV shows will look on it (?!) like “The Morning Show”, new season debuting next week on Apple TV+. Synergy!
  • Tim’s voice sounds a bit odd and tinny? Maybe they recorded it using a mic on the drone that was flying toward him.
  • About 10 minutes in, and we are onto the first actual hardware, the Apple Watch.
  • Jeff Williams appears, and he is dressed weirdly in a mismatched dark blue button-up shirt and light gray pants, like they were the only clean clothes he had.
  • Another sizzle reel with Stupidly Loud™ music.
  • The Series 9 watch…looks exactly like every other Apple Watch.
  • But it’s “next level”. They say this.
  • S9 chip, so it’s faster.
  • After 8 years, it still has 18 hours of battery life (lol). But it does more now! Like find your iPhone precisely. But only if you have the newest Watch and newest iPhone. Start saving for these, too!
  • It goes from 2,000 nits down to 1 nit. I have nothing to offer on this.
  • Jeff is walking like a badly programmed robot. This is somewhat unnerving.
  • New feature: Double Tap™ to allow one-handed (hehe) use for times when your other hand is busy or absent. (Note: This was already an accessibility feature, it’s just official™ now).
  • Another sizzle reel, this time for Double Tap. Use Double Tap to take a phone call while rock climbing. Safe! (This was actually shown in the sizzle reel.)
  • Now in pink aluminum! The Apple Watch, not the sizzle reel.
  • Like Tim Cook, Jeff Williams also cannot pronounce the word “important” for some reason. But they each pronounce it differently. Diversity!
  • And now the Apple 2023 Carbon Neutral Sideshow and Revue, starring Tim Cook and Octavia Spencer. It is now safe to go use the potty, have lunch, take a bath, whatever you like, because this is going to drag on FOREVER.
  • This isn’t a sizzle reel, it’s like a little very long sketch going on (and on) about Apple 2030, which is when the company plans to be fully carbon-neutral.
  • Your expensive watch is now made out of recycled everything!
  • God, this won’t stop. Mother Nature is depicted as a sarcastic grump. It’s not offensive because Mother Nature is make-believe, like elves, unicorns or owls.
  • We are now 23 minutes into the event and they are still talking about how great Apple is with the environment. Now you get bullet points in the bullet points:
    • No more leather (which was previously mentioned, but hey, why not mention it again?)
    • FineWoven™ instead! It’s the new leather, but without any cows involved.
    • Jeff is still walking like a robot.
    • Hermes bands, still super expensive, but now without actual leather!
    • Nike bands with recycled bits of stuff in them that make each one unique (and ugly).
  • They mention Double Tap AGAIN. It’s magical. You know, like everything else Apple has manufactured in China using cheap labour. Magical!
  • 30 minutes in, the Watch Ultra is mentioned. It’s more Ultra! It’s Ultra 2!
  • A rehash of everything that is in the Series 9 goes here.
  • But the Ultra goes to an Ultra bright 3000 nits.
  • A new watch face! More about software because THERE IS NOTHING ELSE NEW ABOUT THE WATCH.
  • It lasts 36 hours, just like before. In eight years it will still last 36 hours.
  • Now they combine their two favourite things about the event: Recycled junk and titanium. The Ultra has recycled titanium. It’s the best!
  • No dark titanium model. If you had that on your Apple Event bingo card, too bad.
  • No price changes on any of the three models. Reasonable!
  • We are now 35 minutes in. It feels like 350.
  • iPhone! Yes, they are now going to spend the next 47 minutes talking about iPhone. Please stand to insure your legs get circulation.
  • Sizzle reel time! Stupidly loud music? Check!
  • iPhone 15 is “absolutely incredible” (probably magical, too1See below), says Tim.
  • Dynamic Island™ added to it. Now maybe devs will do something with it? Or maybe not!
  • It “feels magical2A hundred thousand years from now Apple will still be describing things as magical.” If everything is magical, isn’t everything actually not magical?
  • Dynamic Island lets you track a pizza delivery and the big game at the same time. A wonder for the ages!
  • 2000 nits! It’s the Year of Nits! Also, contoured edges! Colour infused throughout the glass! Five colours! All the colours are washed-out pastels because Apple is very afraid of colour.
  • Still has a mute switch! (They don’t mention this, but you can see it in one of the beauty shots.)
  • STILL MORE carbon-neutral talk. Recycled junk inside everything. New iPhones are probably made out of surplus lightning cables.
  • 48 MP main camera. Basically getting everything the 14 Pro had last year, save for the telephoto lens, variable refresh rate and whatever else that is so important I’ve forgotten it.
  • LESSON: Wait one year to get the good iPhone.
  • Portrait mode is better! Switches to it automagically. Even works on dogs and cats. Possibly apes.
  • You can switch focus to a different person/dog/cat/ape in post. This is actually neat if it works.
  • Better night mode, A16 Bionic, better battery (but they don’t say how much better).
  • Wireless features! Uh, wireless features?
  • New UW chip allows for “precision finding” to better stalk people find your friends.
  • Better audio on phone calls for the five people who use their iPhone as an actual phone.
  • Emergency SOS to more countries, roadside assistance via satellite (free for two years).
  • LESSON: Buy an iPhone or be trapped in the middle of nowhere FOREVER.
  • We are now 50 minutes in. How is it possible that there are still 32 minutes to go? But there are.
  • Wired features!
  • Briefly highlighting USB-C and trying to make it sound like they weren’t totally forced to adopt it due to the mean old Europeans.
  • EarPods and AirPods Pro 2 both use USB-C now, but use MagSafe instead, OK? We make a lot more money on those accessories! (Seriously, they start talking about MagSafe during the “wired features” section.)
  • Another sizzle reel with REALLY LOUD MUSIC. So much bass. Please make it stop.
  • $799/$899 (prices unchanged).
  • Back to Tim. Pro models! We are 55 minutes in.
  • Sizzle reel for the Pro models. Titanium, as expected. The music is horrible. This is music for aliens or robots. Or robot aliens.
  • It’s the most pro phone ever. Tim actually says this.
  • Greg (or “Joz”) up next. He’s Apple’s actual marketing shill. And yes, his nickname rhymes with the famous shark, so I do a bit of a spit-take every time someone says, “And now over to Jaws.”
  • Lightest pro model ever!
  • Titanium! Did we mention that?
  • A delight to hold in your hand. We won’t tell you how much less it weighs, though. (I looked it up. The iPhone 15 Pro Max weighs 19 grams less than the iPhone 14 Pro Max, or about the equivalent of 4 U.S. nickels.)
  • YET MORE on titanium. It’s titanium all the way down. Grade 5 titanium! Same as the Mars rover. Maybe The iPhone 15 Pro is made from recycled Mars rovers.
  • Brushed texture, just like that old version of OS X everyone says was the best.
  • Look at these non-colours you can get the Pro in!
  • More repairable, with back glass easier to replace. No reason for the change. Not like there’s pressure to do this from outside forces. Right to repair? Never heard of it! Nope!
  • Pro gets a new Action Button™. Suck it, non-Pro models!
  • Choose from pre-defined actions (looks like nine). One probably allows you to start playing horrible music at the touch of a button.
  • Joz/Jaws is also moving like a robot. What the hell? He shuffles awkwardly when moving left to right in front of the giant display behind him. Is this an Apple event or some covert preview of a new season of Westworld?
  • A17 Pro. It’s even better because they finally dropped that dumb Bionic name. It’s Pro all the way down (unless it’s titanium).
  • Whimsical transition to Apple’s hardware lab. Check your Apple Event bingo card!
  • A17 Pro gets its own bullet points:
    • USB-C but more better. It’s USB 33USB 3.0 came out as a standard in 2008, BTW fast! (10 GB)
    • 3 nm chip!
    • GPU mentioned again. It’s Pro class, in case you were wondering.
    • 20% faster!
    • Ray tracing! Also faster! But only 4x faster.
    • 30 FPS with ray tracing. Don’t ask about 60 FPS.
    • Jaws: iPhone Pro is best for gaming. Candy Crush has never run better! Buy games! Buy IAP! BUY! (I am extrapolating a bit here.)
    • 68 minutes in now. Remember to feed the cat, if you have a cat.
    • Sizzle reel #367: Games, featuring devs from various software companies. Apple is so cute when they pretend to cater to gamers.
  • The cameras!
  • Larger sensor on the main camera, better low light performance. “Feel her emotion” Jaws implores you, while showing a photo of some woman standing around.
  • Zoom: 3x telephoto, Pro Max 5x (120 mm).
  • Better stabilization in case you are taking photos while drunk or riding atop a train.
  • Tetra prism™ design on Pro Max (don’t call it a periscope lens).
  • Ultrawide camera is also more better, with 10x optical (?) zoom range and macro (I think I missed something here, because 10x seems wrong, but I’m too lazy to check.)
  • Fast transfers to your Mac! You have a Mac, right?
  • Record directly to external storage! Just like any digital camera has been able to do for 20 years or so.
  • 4K video at 60 FPS.
  • Hey, you can view your photos on the Vision Pro! Isn’t that handy?
  • Capture spatial video now. You know where you can relive these “magical” memories? That’s right, on your Vision Pro!
  • Thank the merciful lord, that is it.
  • Cut back to Tim summarizing how great everything is.
  • $999/$1199. Pro Max is $100 more, but gets bumped from 128 to 256 GB storage, so effectively the same price as last year with same config.
  • 6 TB and 12 TB iCloud plans now. I bet those will be reasonably priced!
  • iCloud still comes with 5 GB of free storage, the same it came with in 2011, when iCloud debuted. Because storage needs have not changed in the last 12 years, you see.
  • Tim says the following words in conclusion about Apple products: Amazing! Indispensable! Innovative! Essential! And he’s thinking Magical. You know it. We all know it.
  • LESSON: Without Apple products, your life is a worthless sham, and also you are at grave risk from everything around you.
  • 82 minutes later and we are finally done. Tim is now off to wake up members of the press, so they can look at the new phones and watches.

Seriously, the padding of this particular event was downright silly. If brevity is the soul of wit, Apple has no soul and no wit. But they have sizzle reels. Boy howdy, do they have sizzle reels.

Next year’s sizzle reels will be made entirely from recycled titanium. You’re going to love them.

WWDC 2023 keynote: My next-day lukewarm takes

Everyone is talking about the Apple Vision Pro and will keep talking about it…until the end of the week.

Here’s my summary in handy list form, after watching the WWDC keynote:

  • MacBook Air 15 inch: Appears to be exactly that, the same M2 Air but with a bigger display. Price is reasonable! Keeping the M1 Air in the line-up when it’s only $100 less than the M2 version is odd. Apple does this sort of thing a lot. Apple is odd.
  • Mac Studio with M2: Nice to see this new product getting updated. No price change on the default config, but it should still come with a 1 TB SSD standard (it comes with 512 GB).
  • Mac Pro: WTF LOL etc. After being very late in completing their transition to Apple Silicon because of the Mac Pro, what they released is kind of baffling. First, they re-use the Intel case from 2019. OK, no real issue there, but in terms of specs, this is a Studio with some PCI slots, a few more Thunderbolt ports and it costs…$3000 more. Also, unlike the Intel version, you can’t have separate graphics (integrated on the SoC, like the Studio) and ram is limited to 192 GB instead of 1.5 TB (!). In several important ways, this is worse than the Intel Mac Pro and unless you absolutely need PCI slots for…something (other than graphics cards), it’s a terrible value and not really expandable in the way a traditional desktop PC is. Apple should just kill the Pro, they have basically been botching it for a decade now. Also, I predict this Pro will receive no updates, just like the last two Pros they released that were left to wither and die.
  • Mac gaming for real this time! Proof: Another four-year old PC game is getting ported, this time it’s Death Stranding.
  • iPadOS: The pattern is now clear: This gets one or two token new features, then last year’s leftovers from the iPhone. Apple can and should do better.
  • Speaking of better: They didn’t really show it, but Stage Manager sounds like it’s close to the state it should have been when they introduced it a year ago.
  • iOS: Some nice little things, nothing really outstanding. I think it’s due for a major redesign, but Apple is probably too conservative now to do that.
  • watchOS got a new widgets interface that look interesting. I’m not sure about devoting a button to Control Centre, considering how seldom I used it when I had various Apple Watches.
  • macOS: I had to actually edit this back in, after forgetting about the Mac completely (I am even typing this on a Mac, ironically). Again, a few nice little things added (widgets again, so Dashboard has been sort-of revived), but nothing remarkable.
  • The Home app was not mentioned and remains bad.
  • You can now say Siri instead of Hey Siri. But is Siri itself any better? They didn’t really say!
  • The Journal app1Cleverly called Journal (iPhone only) sounds kind of creepy, drawing from other apps on your phone to suggest/cajole. I don’t need my phone watching me and making suggestions on what to do or write about.
  • Craig is the only one who seems natural at presenting and obviously loves the meme-generating moments. He also has a boffo announcer-style voice.
  • The Vision Pro headset is even more expensive than the rumours suggested, at $3500. This is ultra-niche territory, and I have a hard time thinking how Apple could scale this down to something “affordable” for a non-pro version. And Apple’s idea of affordable is probably $2000, anyway.
  • The fake eyes on the Vision Pro are super creepy.
  • Apple showed nothing that came even close to a killer app for the thing. In fact, they didn’t show ANYTHING that was compelling, just “all the stuff you normally do, but now in 3D floating in front of you!” Some have suggested watching movies/TV will be the killer app, but for $3500? No.
  • The Vision Pro has two hours of battery life, which means you could watch the first two-thirds of the regular version of The Fellowship of the Ring before it dies.
  • The media is saying it’s the best VR headset out there. I mean, for $3500, it kind of better be.
  • The stuff with Bob Iger was cringy and fake. And that sweater looked weird, not causal.
  • But hey, you can now have Snoopy on your watch face.

I think Vision Pro is going to amount to a whole lot of nothing2Yes, I am ready to be openly mocked if I turn out to be completely wrong about this. It’s vastly too expensive and inessential. When Apple can shrink this down to a pair of discreet-looking glasses and cut the price by $2000, then, maybe it will become a thing. And we’re probably 10 years out from that.

Overall, lots of nice little updates and tweaks, the new hardware is fine, if unexciting (save for the Mac Pro, which they should have just sent off to join AirPower in the Apple graveyard), and the Vision Pro is, I think, going to be the first major new Apple product to not really have much impact.

EDIT: Honeybog in the comments on Ars Technica actually says some things about the Vision Pro that make sense to me. I’ve almost changed my mind. What he said is below. The Ars article is here.

I wasn’t very enthusiastic about Apple getting into AR/VR, but one thing that really impressed me with that keynote presentation was how thoroughly they made a case for using these, which is something no other company has been able to do beyond gaming. Facebook’s most compelling case was what if your employer subjected you to living in a world that was part 2006 Wii graphics and part 1984.

In some ways, Apple being able to make a case for why this space should exist is a bigger deal than the technology behind it or how many they sell.

It made me want to work on my Macbook on a plane and not have the person next to me or behind me viewing my screen.

It made me want to have a workspace with adjustable windows, have a standing desk just by standing, not have to deal with monitors.

It made me want to watch a movie on this.

It really made me want to smoke some pot, put on some music, and look through old travel photos with this.

I don’t want any of these things for $3,500, but I don’t think that matters. Apple managed to make the first non-gaming compelling case for these, and I don’t see that genie getting put back in the bottle. It’s too expensive for most people, but I think the fact that they started with “Pro” tells you everything you need to know about how this is going to get segmented. Apple is clearly starting at the high end, because they can’t afford a flop, but I have no doubt we’ll see a version below $2,000 (I think the sweet spot is $1,200) within a year or two.

Oh, Apple: Chapter 98

Yesterday, Apple updated its base iPad and iPad Pro models, along with the Apple TV box, via press release and tweet. Speaking of tweets, here’s one showing how you charge the Apple Pencil on the 10th generation iPad (that’s the one they announced yesterday if you aren’t a hopeless tech geek like me):

I had the 10.5″ iPad Pro from 2017 and it used the first generation Pencil–it charged just like in the Old shot above, though I used the female to female lightning adapter to charge it via cable rather than risk it snapping off while plugged into the iPad in what was an ill-considered charging scheme.

Speaking of ill-considered, the new iPad still only supports the first-gen Pencil, but eliminates the lightning port in favour of USB-C, thus creating a situation where there is no way to charge the Pencil (the 2nd gen Pencil charges via induction by magnetically attaching to a side of the iPad).

Apple’s solution is to now include (another) adapter with the first-gen Pencil that allows it to connect to a USB cable, which then plugs into the iPad. This is also how you pair the Pencil. It’s cumbersome and requires two separate items (the adapter, the cable) in exchange for previously needing none.

It’s silly and dumb and Apple is rightly getting roasted for it.

Some are speculating that Apple did this because they finally moved the front-facing camera to landscape mode and couldn’t figure out a way to also includes the magnets in the same space to allow induction charging. That’s possible. Did Apple make the right choice? Will more people use the front-facing camera than a Pencil? I really don’t know. It seems like six of one, a half dozen of the other to me, but I can’t help thinking Apple either should have found a way to make induction charging work, or not move the front-facing camera until they could. This solution is an awkward, muddled compromise.

And it’s an excellent example of the current state of Apple.

Also note: The iPad Pros announced do not get the landscape camera, because they’re just getting a spec bump. Fair enough, you might say, but people are inevitably going to wonder why the low end model now has a superior camera to the high end, and rightly so. Apple wasn’t forced to spec bump and release the updated iPad Pros at the same time–but they chose to.

This is also an excellent example of the current state of Apple.

(I didn’t even mention the absurd $120 increase in price for the base iPad, which Apple acknowledges by keeping the old $329 model in the line-up. We’re at a point now where it makes more sense to buy older Apple stuff than the latest, because the latest is overpriced, even by Apple’s lofty standards.)

Oh, Apple. Why are you always such an easy, juicy target?