A Few Thoughts Following Apple’s “Unleashed” Event Today

Today was Apple’s much anticipated “Unleashed” event. Apple delivered the goods, and I have a few thoughts:

The Opening

  • The opening Movie was fun (as always). I knew we were in good shape when they included the MagSafe connector in the movie. However, I also laughed out loud when the indie artist (working from an old garage) used a $6,000 Pro Display XDR. That probably explains why there wasn’t a car in the garage.

Apple Music Changes

  • More playlists sound great. That was the reason I subscribed to Beats Music before Apple bought them. This is one of those things where the proof is in the pudding. Let’s see.

  • The new Apple Music Voice Plan lets you subscribe to Apple Music for $5/month, but the only interface you get is your voice. It’s a mistake. To try it out, I’ve spent the whole day trying to trigger music with only my voice. Here’s a sample interaction. “Hey Siri, Play Fried Bananas by Dexter Gordon” [beep beep] “Sure things. Here’s Damage by H.E.R.” I think this service is going to make people hate Siri.

AirPods Version 3

  • Assuming they fit, the smaller stem is better in my opinion.

  • I dig Spatial Audio. So getting it in the standard AirPods is a win.

  • I’m assuming that with force sensor controls, I no longer have to walk around beating on my ears to play and stop like a crazy person.

  • 1 hour of listening time with 5 minutes of charging. Yes, thank you.

  • I have a certain degree of trepidation about the v3 AirPods. I like the way AirPods v1 and v2 fit my ears. These are different. No matter how much better they get, I’ll be stockpiling the v2 AirPods, which are still for sale, if the new ones don’t fit my ears.

  • I’ve ordered a pair. Not sure if I’ll love them or return them. You’ll find out soon.

  • Also, here’s the new AirPods feature dump slide from the presentation, just for you.

Color HomePod minis

  • Yup, They have colors.

  • Nope. Still no word on a replacement for non-mini HomePods.

  • Every time I watch one of these, I make a note to try out Siri’s Intercom feature, yet I never do. Maybe this time.

  • There now seem to be two camps about the “Apple House” that keeps showing up in HomePod-related announcements. One group thinks Apple has trapped a family like a tribe of hamsters. The other just wants to move in. Put me in that second group. Sure, one of my walls would be plexiglass, and all of you could watch me 24/7, but look at those dining room chairs!

The M1 Pro and Max

  • So there was this big whoop-de-doop at WWDC when Apple “accidentally” added an #M1X tag to the YouTube video. So many (myself included) were convinced that meant the new chip would be called M1X. Turns out the chips are named M1 Pro and M1 Max. Do you think Apple gaslighted us all?

  • The rumor guys got the rest essentially right: 10 cores (with eight performance and two efficiency cores), 16/32 graphic cores, and up to 64 Gigabytes of RAM. So you are looking at something between 2 and 4 times more powerful than the M1, which is no slouch. This is the big thing I was waiting to learn, and I think Apple silicon is crushing it.

  • Apple put up a lot of graphs. To summarize them all, this chip performs like a lion but eats power like a mouse. It’s nuts.

  • Johny Srouji is one intense dude. If I were to let anyone down, I wouldn’t want it to be Johny Srouji. Could you imagine looking into those eyes after you drop the ball?

  • It was good to see some of the most prominent video production people talking about Apple silicon without the old-school style demos. Even if they go back to live events, this is the way to bring third-party developers.

The New MacBook Pros

  • Of course, the new MacBooks Pro had to go last

  • The New Cases: A bit boxier, but it doesn’t look that much different to me. That black anodization behind the keyboard = cool.

  • The Death of the Touch Bar: There has been a lot of anger aimed at the poor Touch Bar. I learned to like it. Either way, we can all stop talking about it now.

  • Touch ID: It’s still there, on the power button.

  • If the video is accurate, it looks like the aluminum case has “MacBook Pro” embossed in the bottom. Please let that be true.

  • Color: Any color you want so long as it is silver or space gray. This stung a bit after seeing so many excellent colors for the new iMacs a few months ago. I’d have loved to get one of these new MacBook Pros in orange.

  • Feature Parity: I dig that the choice between 14 and 16 inches is just that. Whatever features you want, you can get with either size.

  • The Screen: The new screen might be just as big of a deal as the Apple silicon. 120Hz ProMotion and variable refresh rate plus the iPad-style Liquid Retina XDR mini-LEDs. I need to see it, but I think this screen will be gorgeous. 7.7 million pixels on a 16.2-inch screen. Wow.

  • The New Camera: I laughed when Apple explained the new 1080 lens was double the prior camera. When 1080 is double, that means the old camera was garbage. (And it was.) A more accurate explanation would be, “Now we all know the old cameras sucked. These new cameras are okay and definitely don’t suck.”

  • MagSafe: Did you see the little green light is back? I loved that light. With a glance, you knew if your Mac was charged or not. Also, the cable is no longer fixed to the power brick. It’s USB-C on the other end, making it much easier to use with other chargers. This makes MagSafe even more convenient.

  • I/O: We got everything we wanted. MagSafe, HDMI, SD Card, high-impedance headphone jack, and three Thunderbolt ports. The works.

  • The Notch: I’m already reading people freaking out about the addition of a notch. I don’t think it is that big a deal, provided my menu bars will go around it and not under it. (I typically run a lot of menu bar apps.) I also think the size of the notch makes it a placeholder for Face ID in future iterations.

  • Pricing: I was curious about how they’d price the new MacBook Pros. They are no longer paying for Intel’s markup, but they also spent piles of money developing these custom chips. In the end, the pricing was about what I expected. These new MacBook Pros are incredibly powerful. You’ll pay a premium for that power, but the price doesn’t feel entirely out of whack to me. They must have got something right; ship times are already slipping to late December.

  • And here’s the feature dump slide for the new MacBook Pros.

Missing in Action

  • M1 Pro Mac mini: I expected to see one today but didn’t. If you are waiting for one though, I don’t think you’ll have to wait long. Now that the chip is out of the bag, I’d not be surprised for Apple to release an M1 Pro/Max mini with just a press release. There are rumors, however, of a new case design. That could mean they’ll wait until the new M1 Pro/Max iMacs are ready.

  • Consumer Grade External Monitor: I had to laugh at one point when they had one of the new MacBook Pros hooked up to three Pro XDR monitors. That was $18,000 of pixels connected to that Mac. If I had Tim Cook’s desk, I’d be pressing to get a more affordable Apple-branded monitor out the door ASAP.

The Video Keynote Format

  • It’s interesting how quickly these pre-canned Apple event videos have turned into the norm. I do have to wonder if they’ll ever go back to live events. If I was Apple, I’d probably not. These events are faster, and there are never any gaffes. The downside is that with no media present, you can’t have a hands-on area. But I’m not convinced Apple views that as a downside.