Apple Intelligence™

At the keynote for today’s WWDC24 launch, Apple revealed its version of LLM/machine language/AI stuff and is calling it Apple Intelligence, which will just confuse people, and when it doesn’t confuse people and goes sideways, Apple’s got its name stuck right there at the beginning to remind you who is behind the thing that isn’t working for you. It’s very Apple.

The keynote was pretty dull. Apple hits the same notes every time they do these and is leaning so hard into the Xtreme Craig Federighi stuff that it has gone from parody to self-parody to whatever it is now. After the prerecorded segment in which a bunch of people skydive into Apple Park, the camera drone zooms into Tim Cook on the roof of the building and saying, “Wow, that was so cool” with all the excitement of someone reading names from a telephone book (kids, ask your parents what a telephone book is).

There were a few things I liked:

  • Customizing icon arrangement on iPhone/iPad (and not forcing iPad owners to wait a year to get the feature), though it remains to be seen how much you can really customize it. Probably not as much as people will want.
  • The workout app on the Apple Watch finally acknowledges that there are days you might not complete your rings because you’re sick/hurt/on vacation.
  • Uh, I’m sure there was something else.

What I found most interesting is the limited pool of hardware that can take advantage of AI™. It will only work with an M1 or better SoC and last year’s iPhone 15 Pro/Pro Max models. I mean, I doubt I’d use it much, anyway. My phone is basically a camera and text messenger device.

Overall, some nice new things, unless you’re an iPad owner hoping for a dramatically overhauled and improved UI, in which case you are probably quietly sobbing right now.

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.

WWDC 2022 quick ‘n medium-warm takes

I watched the livestream of the WWDC keynote this morning, which was once again an entirely prerecorded presentation. Hooray for multi-year pandemics.

The best part, by far, was the way they really leaned into providing meme-worthy moments with Craig Federgerhi.

At this point, Tim Cook could be replaced by a Tim Cook animatronic figure. He says the exact same stuff every time, the epitome of boring corporate boilerplate. You’re gonna love it (when he stops droning on).

And now the medium-warm takes:

Not surprising:

  • Re-designed MacBook Air. It’s got an M2 chip, it’s $200 more, but still ships with an 8 GB/256 GB ram/SSD combo. Four colors now instead of two, the wedge is gone, MagSafe is back and yes, the notch is there, too. I was not surprised to see they are keeping the M1 Air in the lineup (for now, at least). I predict the M1 version will continue to be the better-selling model, though some might bite on the M2 for one of the new colors. I think those will move people more than the better performance. A shame it still has the same crappy external monitor support.
  • Lock screen improvements for iOS. They’re nice, and continue Apple’s ever-timid move toward more customization.
  • No interactive widgets. I know some were hoping for these, but I was not expecting them. I think there’s a 50% chance they may show up for iOS 17.
  • iPad multitasking. Yes, it’s been improved, with “Stage Manager” that dumps open apps into a column on the left side of the screen, making it somewhat easier to switch between them. The bigger news is that you can now have multiple overlapping and resizable windows open, and there’s full external monitor support (if you have a compatible iPad).
  • Improved watch faces. These were due for a refresh.
  • Improved workout stats, another persistent rumor. They mentioned three for running, which is nice: Stride Length, Ground Contact Time and Vertical Oscillation. I’m still thinking about getting a Garmin watch, though.
  • The Mail app finally gets some updates after a hundred years. This was widely predicted.
  • Redesigned Settings app for the Mac. This wasn’t actually highlighted in the keynote, but was expected. It looks like a Macified version of the iOS Settings app, which will probably work better on the Mac, since the iOS version is a gigantic, disorganized mess.


  • Mac Ventura, not Mammoth. Pretty much everyone got this one wrong.
  • Keeping the 13″ MacBook Pro (with the old design, including the touch bar) and simply putting an M2 in it. With the redesigned Air, I fail to see who would buy the entry level Pro, but someone must, since Apple claims it’s their #2 best-selling laptop.
  • Dropping support for watchOS 9 for the Series 3…then continuing to sell the Series 3. Bad Apple.
  • Dropping support for the iPhone 7 with iOS 16. I thought this might get one more year.
  • Apple has baked in using an iPhone as a webcam into macOS. Less surprising: Belkin is making clips to hold the phone to the top of the Mac’s display.
  • Clock app on Mac. Kind of weird, but why not? Basically the version found on the iPhone.

Somewhat surprising:

  • Not a peep about AR/VR, realityOS or related hardware. I suspect, given the presentation ran a bit shorter than the last few WWDC keynotes, that a segment was cut when Apple realized the hardware needed more time in development.
  • No news on the updated Mac Pro or a replacement for the Intel Mac mini still in the line-up. I assume both are not ready yet, or are being held back for a dedicated Mac event in the fall.
  • Weather app for iPadOS! Hey, it was either this or a calculator. It looks like it’s on Mac, too, though it wasn’t specifically highlighted.
  • Revamped Home app. Some had predicted this, but I was skeptical, since nothing short of a complete rewrite would really fix the Home app–which is what Apple has done!

Overall, the keynote was pretty predictable, with the usual mix of features that look promising. I still don’t get the M2 MacBook Pro, though. Why redesign the Air and keep the Pro untouched? Do they only have enough people to work on one model at a time? 😛