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.

Cache me if you can

I went to upgrade my iPad to iPadOS 17 because it just came out today and I like living on the edge, and I’m also kind of dumb.

But I couldn’t, because my 128 GB iPad only had 3 GB of space left on it. I checked, and it turned out OneDrive was hogging about half the space. I found where you can clear its cache1You will never in a billion years do this accidentally and cleared the cache.

Then it took A Very Long Time to complete. But when it did, the free space went from 3 GB to over 61 GB (!)

The upgrade is in progress as I type this. It’s given me time to think about how I use my iPad Pro, which I bought a little over three year ago:

  • 90% of the time it’s for Procreate2The only app I use with a worse name is Diarium
  • 5% of the time I’m in a crossword puzzle app
  • 3% of the time I’m checking files in OneDrive
  • 2% is for everything else

So really, all I need is a good drawing tablet. Which the iPad Pro is. So I guess I’m good. (But I secretly want a Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra, not because of the super unsexy name, but because it has a super sexy 14.6″ AMOLED display. A larger canvas for drawing is also super sexy. If I win the lottery, it’s mine. If I don’t, well, 12.9 inches is not bad. Hehe /Beavis.)

The iPad is great until it’s not

Every time I sit down with Jeff to do something on his iPad, I am reminded at how the iPad excels at some things (sketching, reading) and is kind of dreadfully bad at others, especially if you don’t have some kind of pointing device other than your finger.

All of these can be a nightmare of fiddly misses, accidental taps and wasted time:

  • Selecting text
  • Positioning the cursor
  • Moving files
  • Flipping between apps and watching as they have to reload everything
  • Using “sharing” for the most basic functionality
  • Did I mention selecting text?

If you add a keyboard and mouse or trackpad, some of this is mitigated, but it still never feels as smooth to me as on a desktop computer or laptop. In a way, I think Apple would have been better off just making a Mac tablet–looks and feels like an iPad, but functions like an actual Mac. Sort of like what Microsoft did with the Surface (Pro), but better. The iPad, even 13 years after its introduction, still feels hamstrung by the design decisions made leading up to its introduction in 2010, and further back still to when the iPhone was being created in 2006.

Everything we worked on tonight would have been a lot easier on a laptop–even a Windows PC. In fact, since we were using OneDrive, it would have been better on a Windows PC than even a MacBook, which gets second-rate OneDrive support.

Oh well. I just wanted to vent a wee bit tonight, so here we are!

That blue light thing turns out to be a thing

Last week, I decided to change up my nightly routine. Instead of climbing into bed with my iPad and checking social media/tech news before going to sleep, I decided to switch to reading a book on my Kindle and then, as of last night, switching to my Kobo Libra instead (I prefer the Libra, as it has page turn buttons and understands that some people are left-handed, but the first book I read was a Kindle exclusive [boo]).

I use my Garmin Forerunner 255 to track my sleep and while it is not going to be 100% accurate, it usually gets pretty close to reflecting how I feel I’ve slept. It gives your sleep a score between 1-100.

Except for one bad night’s sleep (late to bed, stressed, early to rise), my scores have been consistently in the mid 70s to mid 80s, with plenty of REM sleep. During the blue light/iPad phase in the weeks before, my scores would dip into the 30s and 40s and insufficient REM sleep was a common issue.

So yes, it appears removing blue light as I was getting ready to sleep has resulted in better sleep. Science!

It also means I’ve finished reading an entire book this year. Miracle!

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?

Apple’s kooky new iPad vision starts to take shape

Today Apple quietly announced two sort-of new iPads: the iPad air and the iPad mini. Both of these have already existed, the Air reaching version 2, the mini reaching version 4.

The mini was badly in need of an update, having last seen hardware improvements in 2015–par for the course with the current Apple, neglecting its products for years on end (the Mac Pro is still the reigning champ, now sitting at 5+ years without a single update, though Apple has promised a new version this year).

The reason I call Apple’s vision for the iPad kooky is because I don’t think it was planned, it’s still a bit of a mess, but it is, finally, a kind of actual plan and presents a clearer vision of the iPad line-up.

In 2010 the iPad line-up was simple. There was the iPad, selling for $499. That was it.

In 2011 Apple brought out the iPad 2 for $499 and that was it. The same philosophy continued through successive models:

  • The New iPad (2012). This was an improved version 2, with the dumbest iPad name ever.
  • iPad (4th generation, also 2012). Basically The New iPad, but with a lightning port.
  • iPad Air (2013). This featured a lot of improvements–a better display, thinner, lighter (hence the name), but still kept the $499 price.
  • iPad Air 2 (2014). Like the Air, but with refinements.

In 2012, when the fourth gen iPad appeared, Apple introduced the iPad mini. This was the first time buyers had a distinct choice of what iPad to get, but it was still pretty clear: get a big iPad, or get a small one. In terms of specs, they were very similar.

In 2015 Apple mixed things up again by bringing out the first iPad Pro. It had a whopping 12.9 inch display and similarly whopping price. Again, the difference between the three models was clear–size (and price, with the Pro model).

In early 2016 Apple added the 9.7 inch iPad Pro and here things got confusing. The smaller Pro sold for $599, only $100 more than the Air 2. It had Apple Pencil support, a faster processor, generally enough improvements that people might be tempted to spend that extra $100. Apple was now in a position where it would cannibalize its own sales–but not in a good way.

Apple “fixed” the issue in 2017 by coming out with both a new iPad (again just called iPad, this being the sixth generation), killing off the Air 2 and bumping the specs of the 9.7 inch Pro to a 10.5 inch model. They sealed the deal by increasing the price of the Pro to $649 and decreasing (!) the iPad price to $329. Apple also made a lot of compromises with the iPad and its tech, essentially reverting it back to something more akin to the original iPad Air.

Now the gap between regular and Pro was clear: price! The smaller Pro cost almost twice as much.

This continued into 2018 when Apple introduced the third generation of Pros, with the now 11 inch model selling for $799 vs. the still $329 iPad. The 12.9 inch model started at $999.

But now Apple had a problem of their own making. The iPad and iPad Pros could both do all the same things, run all the same software. In 2018 Apple even added Pencil support to the cheaper model. The current Pros are great tablets–provided you don’t need a headphone jack–but the price difference was now so stark that most people wouldn’t even consider the Pro models, unless they had an extremely compelling use case or simply didn’t care about the cost.

Thus, today’s additions.

The revived iPad Air (not called iPad Air 3, just iPad Air, but at least it’s not New iPad Air) does three things: it cements the return of Air branding (started when the MacBook Air was refreshed–finally–in October 2018), further underlines Apple moving away from version numbers (only the phones and watches persist) and most importantly, provides a product in-between the cheap iPad and the ludicrously expensive iPad Pro. And the price?

Yep, $499.

In reality, the new iPad Air is essentially the just-discontinued iPad Pro 10.5 inch. It was selling for $649, so the Air is significantly cheaper. There are some features cut, like the 120 Mhz refresh rate Apple calls Promotion, but all of the important stuff from the 10.5 inch Pro has been kept, just at a lower price.

The mini is in a weirder place. I thought Apple was going to go the cheap iPad route, and revert the min back to the iPad mini 3 era of design–thicker, heavier, non-laminated display and so on, to keep the price down. Instead, they went the opposite, actually improving the specs. The display is even better than before, it adds Pencil support and so on, without changing the price, which remains $399. There is one downgrade–the mini 4 was reduced to one configuration with 128 GB of storage. The new one starts at 64 GB, so the cost is the same, but storage is now halved, though one might argue the improvements make up for it. I bought my mini 4 in late 2016 and back then I paid $499 Canadian for a 32 B model. I can now get the new 64 GB version for $529, a modest (for Apple) price increase that reflects the drubbing the Canadian dollar has taken over the last two years.

The iPad mini, then, is sort of a semi-pro, so Apple must be counting on people wanting the smaller size being willing to pay for it.

And now, for the moment, the iPad line and its vision are complete. There is a low end model, a smaller model, a mid-range model, and a pair of high end models. Prices start reasonable (for apple) and progress up to through-the-roof. And for the first time in a long time, all of the models are current. None are year-old models sold for less (or the same price, as the 10.5 inch Pro was).

This may help Apple keep iPad sales from stagnating, by tempting more people into spending what used to be the old iPad price of $499 to get the nicer specs. I wonder how it will affect the Pro models, though. Face ID and slimmer bezels are nice, but not hundreds of dollars more nice. For me, at least.

And for me, I’m content to stick with my iPad Pro 10.5 inch. It still works great as it nears its two year birthday and the new Air would only be an upgrade in terms of the processor boost–but the 10.5 inch has never felt slow.

(Also, congratulate me for not making a single penis joke after typing out 10.5 inch so many times.)

My iPad mini, now over two years old, is suffering worsening battery life. It will run itself all the way down in just two days of idling, so I have to charge it every other day instead of just once a week. I’m not keen on having to replace it, but at least when I do I won’t be paying much more (or maybe not more at all if I wait for a sale), and I’ll be getting some nice improvements, as well.

Probably the dumbest move Apple has made recently in regards to the iPad is calling the second generation Apple Pencil…Apple Pencil. See this Verge article for more.

Can Apple save the iPad? (Answer: maybe)

Back on December 28, 2015, I wrote this post mulling over Apple’s iPad line-up. I ended with this:

The iPad Pro is still a bit if a mystery in how it will play out but I think its high price will keep it from breaking out and becoming a huge seller. And people considering a Surface Pro are probably still more likely to get a Surface Pro, if only to overcome the limits of iOS that the iPad Pro still has to contend with (some would argue–as I would–that Windows 10 is a better operating system for productivity than iOS 9).

Rumors are circulating that Apple will reveal its next revision of the Apple Watch at a March 2016 event–about three months away as I write this– and the event may also reveal the follow-up to the iPad Air 2. If this turns out to be accurate, it will be interesting to see what the next iPad will look like and if the delay in updating it is due to product drift and uncertainty or because Apple is poised to bring some truly new features to the iPad.

Having an iPad Air myself, I admit I wouldn’t mind the lighter Air 2 but given the differences between the two models, I can’t justify the expense of upgrading. I’m curious to see if Apple can talk me into parting with my money in 2016.

Addressing each paragraph some 15 months later:

  • analysts have suggested that the iPad Pro models comprise about 7% of total iPad sales, so my thought here seems to have panned out
  • there was no follow-up to the iPad Air 2. Instead, Apple introduced the 9.7″ iPad Pro. With a few extra features, it had a much higher selling price than the Air 2–$599 U.S. vs. $399 for the iPad Air 2. The Pro retained everything from the 12.9″ version save for coming with a slightly slower version of the A9x processor and less ram. It did improve on the 12.9″ in terms of color support and a higher-resolution camera.
  • I did get an iPad in 2016, but it was the iPad mini 4, to replace my now-dead (and officially discontinued) mini 2.

Did the iPad Air 2 replacement finally come out in March 2017? Yes…sort of.

The new iPad (yes, it’s just called iPad, the whole Air line is dead now) improves on the iPad Air 2 in two ways: it has a brighter display and a faster A9 processor. It is the same as the iPad Air 2 in most other ways, save for these:

  • it is thicker and heavier, matching the specs of the iPad Air
  • it does not have the Air 2’s laminated, non-reflective display
  • it costs $329 U.S. vs. the (now discontinued) Air 2’s price of $399

As the price of the entry-level iPad Pro 9.7″ model remains unchanged at $599, there is a now-even-larger gap in price between the two of $270.

This is not the first time Apple has introduced a product that combined old and new tech at a lower price, as they used the same tactic when they brought out the iPhone SE last year. I think they’re trying to do the same thing now, creating a good entry-level tablet that can compete with a lot of the cheaper (but not insanely cheap) Android tablets, and also act as an enticement for people with iPads dating back to the first through third generations (2010-2012) to finally upgrade.

The lower price also makes the Pro models “look” more pro. This seems to be Apple’s strategy going forward. Where once there was one iPad for all and you just chose between wifi/cellular and storage sizes, you now choose between those things as well as weighing the additional features of the Pro line–the smart connector, Pencil support, better sound and so on.

In other words, Apple has eliminated the standard iPad in favor of a low-end and high-end line, similar to how they bifurcated their laptops into MacBook and MacBook Pro, and their phones into the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus (currently).

The question is, while the strategy has worked for the laptops and phones, can it work for tablets? Remember that figure I quoted above where only about 7% of all iPad sales are for the Pro models? I don’t think that’s going to change much without price drops. Those may come in time (Apple did reduce the pricing on the 128 and 256 GB versions of the Pro) but until that happens, if it happens at all, Apple seems to be pinning hopes of reviving the iPad’s sales by switching to a model of high volume and (relatively) low pricing, an unusual strategy for the company to make with one of its flagship products.

I suspect this isn’t going to work all that well. The lower-priced iPad will definitely pique interest with some but it’s fundamentally the same thing Apple has been making for seven years, just a bit cheaper now, and the iPad Pro models remain incredibly expensive in comparison, doomed to remain niche products, especially since the extra features they offer are poorly utilized by iOS (perhaps that will change with iOS 11, but I wouldn’t count on it).

If Apple went a bit further with the pricing–say, dropping the iPad to $299, that might help goose sales, as would dropping the 9.7″ Pro down to the original iPad price of $499. In the end, it’s not just the price that holds people back from buying, though, it’s what the product offers, and for many, the iPad simply doesn’t offer enough compared to a larger phone or smaller laptop. And Apple, which has tied iOS to both the iPhone and iPad, has done little to allow the iPad to stand apart as a unique device.

A rumor suggests a 10.5″ (or so) iPad is due out this year that will sport a nearly bevel-free design and a virtualized home button. While these features are intriguing, they don’t suggest the fundamental experience of using the device would be any different (and as a likely replacement for the 9.7″ Pro model it will probably be even more expensive). Again, Apple seems content to fiddle with the hardware and to an extent, the pricing, while ignoring the software side.

If they want people to buy more iPad Pros, they have to reduce the price. It’s that simple.

If they want the iPad as a whole to bounce back in sales and thrive (as much as any tablet can nowadays), they need to do more–a lot more–on the software side.

The new iPad will snare some people hanging onto old iPads, but it’s not going to turn around the overall decline of the line. Perhaps such a task is impossible, but Apple’s multi-faceted approach to solving the problem is missing at least one essential facet.

That whole iPad tablet thing

There have been a few famous tablets over the years. Moses brought a few down from Mt. Sinai you may have heard of, for example. I’d like to talk about one that is a little more current–specifically the iPad, introduced by Apple in 2010.

At the time one of the most amazing things about the iPad was not its relatively svelte design, power or display but its price–$500 was seen as a veritable bargain for a piece of Apple hardware. People were impressed, the iPad sold millions, the improved iPad 2 sold millions and everyone was happy ever after.

Until Apple’s 3rd quarter (Apr-Jun) of 2013, when year over year sales of the iPad declined for the first time. Sales remained flat for awhile but starting in the 2nd quarter (Jan-Mar) of 2014, sales of the iPad have declined year over year for every quarter–seven quarters in a row so far.

Reasons for the declines have been attributed to various factors but the main ones people cite are:

  1. Cheaper alternatives, mainly in the Android tablet market and in the forked version Amazon uses for their tablets
  2. Longer upgrade cycles; people upgrade phones every two years, tablets get upgraded more like computers, so some may hang onto their iPads for 3-4 years before feeling a need to update
  3. The rise of larger smartphones has eaten away some of the tablet market
  4. The rise of smaller, lighter ultrabook laptops has likewise eaten into the tablet market
  5. Hybrid devices like Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4 have lured away some people who wanted something more powerful than an iPad
  6. The iPad hasn’t changed fundamentally since its introduction over five years ago. Compare the original iPhone and its capabilities to the current iPhone 6s and the difference is fairly dramatic

The reason I decided to write this is because I think Apple’s iPad strategy is muddled right now and what they are doing is unlikely to reverse the declining sales (it should be noted that in Q4 2015 Apple sold 9.88 million iPads–the lowest number since Q3 2011–but that’s still an awful lot of iPads, so it’s not going away anytime soon, regardless).

Let’s see how Apple is addressing the above factors.

  1. Cheaper alternatives. Apple is never going to produce a bargain-priced tablet. Apple doesn’t do bargain-priced anything and that’s okay, no one expects them to. But they had to do something to bring pricing down and their solution has been to retain a selection of previous generation models at lower price points. Hence you can get the current iPad Air 2 for $499 or the previous generation iPad Air for $399. This is probably the best Apple can do here. They are never going to compete against Amazon’s $50 tablet-soon-to-be-in-a-cereal-box approach.
  2. Longer upgrade cycles. This is something Apple has no real control over. It affects all tablets, so it’s not a problem specific to Apple. Would dramatically different iPads spur people to upgrade sooner? It’s possible but it’s just as likely it could push people into keeping what they have if the new version deviates too much from what they expect an iPad to do.
  3. Larger smartphones. Apple has chosen to go the route of cannibalization here by introducing the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus in 2014 with larger 4.7″ and 5.5″ displays. While they’d prefer people buying an iPad and an iPhone, having them buy a larger iPhone is better than having someone eliminating both and getting a big screen Android phone instead.
  4. Smaller, lighter laptops. Apple is again going with cannibalization by introducing the MacBook, a 12″ laptop that weighs less than two pounds, comes with a single USB-C port and is available in three different colors–just like an iPad! Price-wise it’s in an entirely different market but design-wise it’s definitely the first step by Apple toward making a laptop that is as light and portable as a tablet.
  5. Hybrid devices. Apple executives like to make fun of products until they decide to do their own take on a particular device a few years later. Such is the case with the iPad Pro and its optional keyboard and stylus. Apple’s take on a Surface Pro-style device is more iPad and less laptop than the Surface but it’s clear Apple is trying to pull away sales from Microsoft’s hybrid while also attempting to expand the iPad’s reach.
  6. The 2015 iPads all do the same things the original did in 2010, they just do it faster while weighing less and looking better. This is one area where Apple does not appear to have a plan–or has yet to reveal it.

Looking over the list, Apple is clearly doing some things to address problems with declining iPad sales, even if some of those–like the introduction of larger iPhones–help the company more than they do the iPad itself. The reason I stated that Apple’s iPad strategy seems muddled is tied directly to its current iPad lineup and how it’s evolved over the last year.

In 2013 Apple introduced the iPad Air. The next year they brought out the iPad Air 2, a faster, thinner, lighter model. This year Apple did not update the Air–the primary iPad model–at all. They refreshed the iPad mini by replacing last year’s embarrassing iPad 3, which only added Touch ID–something Apple apparently thought people would be happy to shell out an extra $100 for–with the iPad mini 4. They also introduced the iPad Pro, the really big iPad. They retained the iPad Air and iPad mini 2 as “budget” alternatives.

The mini sells well but it doesn’t sell as well as the 9.7″ model. One could argue that its sales may decline even more as larger phones encroach on its space–a 5.5″ display is closer to a 7.9″ display than 9.7″, after all (Apple doesn’t break out sales per iPad model but industry fancypants generally agree the 9.7″ model is the main seller). The iPad Pro, while still fundamentally an iPad, is so much larger and more expensive that it is likely to draw people looking for its unique qualities rather than as a general tablet. Someone who just wants a good, solid iPad still has the iPad Air 2 and despite it being a year old, it is still a fine tablet. But by not updating its main model, Apple seems to be saying it doesn’t know what to do with it. They can probably make it faster, maybe a little thinner (they are hitting limits in this area) but is that enough to woo people to upgrade? It doesn’t look like it, but at the same time no update at all makes the iPad Air 2 feel a bit forgotten and again, it’s their primary iPad.

Will the improved mini 4 turn sales around? It’s unlikely, though the improvements are welcome.

The iPad Pro is still a bit if a mystery in how it will play out but I think its high price will keep it from breaking out and becoming a huge seller. And people considering a Surface Pro are probably still more likely to get a Surface Pro, if only to overcome the limits of iOS that the iPad Pro still has to contend with (some would argue–as I would–that Windows 10 is a better operating system for productivity than iOS 9).

Rumors are circulating that Apple will reveal its next revision of the Apple Watch at a March 2016 event–about three months away as I write this– and the event may also reveal the follow-up to the iPad Air 2. If this turns out to be accurate, it will be interesting to see what the next iPad will look like and if the delay in updating it is due to product drift and uncertainty or because Apple is poised to bring some truly new features to the iPad.

Having an iPad Air myself, I admit I wouldn’t mind the lighter Air 2 but given the differences between the two models, I can’t justify the expense of upgrading. I’m curious to see if Apple can talk me into parting with my money in 2016.

It’s a magical day in Canada

Today the iPad went on sale in Canada, the base unit going for $549, $49 more than south of the border, as is the way with Apple’s pricing.


Apple describes the iPad as “a magical and revolutionary product at an unbelievable price.” I believe this is the first time Apple has referred to one of its products as magical.


  1. The art that purports to control or forecast natural events, effects, or forces by invoking the supernatural.
    1. The practice of using charms, spells, or rituals to attempt to produce supernatural effects or control events in nature.
    2. The charms, spells, and rituals so used.
  2. The exercise of sleight of hand or conjuring for entertainment.
  3. A mysterious quality of enchantment: “For me the names of those men breathed the magic of the past” (Max Beerbohm).

I’m going to assume they’re going with #4 here, though who knows, perhaps the iPad runs on pixie dust and mystic rituals. Of course, it’s all too easy to bash Apple these days, as they have become a big, juicy target with the popularity of the iPod, iPhone and Macbook. Wait, Macbook? How’d that one slip through? There’s no ‘i’ in there anywhere! (Ironically, the Macbook replaced the iBook.) I’ve walked by local cafes that appear to have an ‘Apple notebook only’ policy in effect, where you may be forbidden entry should you enter without some flavor of Macbook tucked under your arm. When I ride the bus, a good number of people plugged in to portable music players are wearing the telltale white Apple earphones. The company’s products are everywhere.

Popular companies are popular targets and people love tearing down the big guys, perhaps to allow the little guys to rise up so the process can start all over. A circle of life thing for the petty and jealous, if you will.

I own two iPods (the classic and nano) and they work well enough as music players. iTunes isn’t as horrible for me as it apparently is for others and it’s nice that Apple finally abandoned that horrible brushed metal look on its interface. I was worried they would be adding wood paneling in a future version. I do not hate Apple, even if I don’t embrace their vision of a closed-off, proprietary future where all content is vetted by Apple on your behalf but the iPad is a pretty big meh. For me it fills a niche I don’t need filled. I simply have no pressing need to check my mail, view photos or surf the web in a portable format, especially for $549. I’ll admit if it had supported a pressure-sensitive stylus for input I’d have been mightily tempted, though. Having a portable electronic sketchpad is probably too sexy for me to resist, so I should thank Apple for saving me an “unbelievable” amount of money.

There are a few glitches with the Canadian rollout. One of the selling features of the iPad, shown in the image above, is iBooks, Apple’s answer to the Kindle and other ebook readers — except the iBook store in Canada doesn’t have anything you can actually buy on it yet. Oops. I’m also not sure if I’d want to read a book on an LCD screen, even a really nice one, but if someone wants to loan me an iPad, I’d be willing to run some tests, though. In the interest of science, of course.

I was downtown today and while I was in Pacific Centre I went upstairs to see if there might be a line-up at the Apple store. This was around 3 p.m. and indeed there was a line-up. And security! They had (velvet?) ropes to keep people orderly and a big sign for one line-up labeled “iPad purchases”. The other line, not worthy of an actual sign, may have been for iPad lookie-loos or people just wanting to grab some ear buds for their iPods. The reports of the thing selling out will be arriving shortly, no doubt, so kudos to Apple for another successful product launch. Who’d have thought the same company that put out the Newton, the Macintosh “Portable” that weighed 17 pounds and the original iMac mouse which was designed for hands that have never appeared on humans would end up so blazingly successful?

I do wish they’d stop with the whole iName thing, though. It’s as outdated now as the brushed metal look.