Rumors and Tomorrow’s Peek Performance

With Apple’s Peek Performance event tomorrow, we’ll all know soon enough if we’ll see anything noteworthy. That said, it seems the rumors are now flying fast and furious with the emergence of a hypothetical “Mac Studio”, which is something between a Mac mini and a Mac Pro. Luke Miani even has renders (that don’t look very attractive to me). The rumors of a lower-cost monitor are also heating up.

I think the release of this first generation of Apple silicon has been a lot of fun with new Macs and new designs steadily flowing out of Cupertino. I also think that very same fact makes it easy to get carried away with it all. Will I be happy if there are new Macs tomorrow? Yes. Will I be surprised if the event is a lot more low-key with an iPhone SE and a new iPad? No. We’ll all know tomorrow.

Apple Event: Peek Performance

As predicted by the Apple rumor oracles, we are getting an Apple event next week, March 8, 10:00 a.m. Pacific. Announcements went out this morning and the event is called “Peek Performance”. It is really easy to read the titles of these events and wishcast your own hopes onto them but “Peeuk Performance” does sound like a great name for the new high-end iMacs. I’m just sayin’.

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.

Unleashed


Unleashed Artwork.jpeg

Today Apple announced its “Unleashed” event for next week on October 18 at 10AM Pacific. This is a rare Monday event. The artwork looks like it was shot from the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon. I’ll be shocked if this not the M1X MacBook Pro event. With the M1 MacBooks, we got to see the Apple Silicon tuned for battery life. With the M1X, I’d expect to see the Apple Silicon tuned for performance. In other words, “unleashed”.

If the rumors are to be believed, we’ll be getting 14” and 16” MacBooks Pro and (possibly) a performance Mac mini with the larger iMacs to come next year. Although I’d love to see Apple prove those rumor guys wrong and give us iMacs too.

Some Thoughts Following the Apple “California Streaming” Event

The Presentation


drummer.png

  • The opening video hit me in the feels. I saw lots of grumbling about “California Pride” on Twitter. However, the older I get, the more I love California. Also, that drummer is a complete badass.

  • One Hour and Fifteen minutes. I like the pacing of these virtual events.

Apple TV

  • Everyone that hasn’t watched Ted Lasso is sick of being told to watch Ted Lasso. But if you haven’t watched Ted Lasso, you should watch Ted Lasso.

iPad

  • The latest iPad Basic continues to be the best bang-for-your-buck product you can buy in an Apple Store. A very capable machine for $329. It’s probably enough iPad for most people, including, if I’m honest, myself. HOWEVER, I wish they could find a way to make it work with the G2 Apple Pencil.

iPad Mini

  • I dig the new iPad Mini. I’m a massive fan of the flat edge design and stoked to see it spread to the iPad Mini (giving the iPad mini G2 Apple Pencil support).

  • USB-C on the iPad Mini. Come on Apple … you are so close. Just adopt it across the line.

  • The front-facing 12MP ultrawide camera for iPad and iPad Mini (adding center stage) makes so much sense. In my usage, the front-facing iPad camera is way more important than the back-facing camera.

  • If I were in charge, I would have made the iPad mini’s back-facing camera flush with the device, even if that meant a lower quality back-facing camera.

The Apple Watch

  • I kind of love that the rumor mill got the flat sides wrong. I wasn’t sure I’d like a flat-sided Apple Watch.

  • The rumor mill wasn’t, however, wrong about production delays. They don’t have a sales date at this point except “later this fall”.

  • Hopefully, the new bike rider features can keep Stephen Hackett alive longer.

  • Quick charging will be a helpful feature. If you can fully charge your watch in under an hour, it will make it even easier to sleep with it on. I did note this will require you to buy a “quick charge” cable.

  • That dark feeling that overcame you when they announced the continued sale of the Apple Watch 3 was a moment where every Apple Watch developer in the universe cried out in agony. I wish they could have price-dropped the Apple Watch SE and drop the Apple Watch 3. Friends don’t buy friends the Apple Watch 3

  • No Ceramic, but titanium remains. I bought the Titanium Apple Watch Series 5, and I still wear it every day. It looks pristine.

Apple Fitness Plus

  • I use it often and got a thrill out of seeing some of my favorite Apple Coaches in the video (Team Betina!)

  • I thought with the inclusion of Tai Chi workouts, they’d be adding Tai Chi to Apple Fitness Plus. Sadly, no.

  • I know Apple Fitness is easy to make fun of, but it resonates with me for the reasons in the video. I don’t have to go to an expensive gym and deal with all of that, yet I still get good workouts.

The A15 Bionic Processor

  • I’ve never understood why they add the “bionic” moniker.

  • Apple continues to crush everyone with chip design. They have a 5nm process and didn’t even really brag on it. 15 Billion transistors … in your phone!

  • I know this is not a giant iPad, but wouldn’t it be awesome if it was?



PICTURE

iPhone 13

  • I’m glad the iPhone Mini is coming back. But I don’t know anyone that currently owns an iPhone Mini and plans for their next phone to be an iPhone Mini. In the end, I think it is the battery life that spoils the fun.

  • Starting at 128G. Amen.

  • Midnight and Starlight are the new Space Grey and Silver.

iPhone 13 Pro

  • I like the new Sierra Blue, though I’ll likely buy the silver … ahem … starlight one.

  • I was hoping they’d have an always-on screen with at least the time.

  • The faster refresh rate is very noticeable to me on the iPad. I’m super curious to see how it feels on the phone. Apple also did a good job explaining why this won’t crush your battery.

  • I feel like those giant camera lenses are going to matter. I can’t wait for Austin Mann to get his hands on one of these and report in.

Cinematic Mode

  • Yes!

  • There still isn’t as much separation (bokeh) as you’d get with a fancy camera system, but if it performs as demonstrated, it will be great.

A Few More Points

  • Did you catch the part that the new Mag Safe wallet has built-in Find My? Yes, please, but for everything Apple makes.

A Few Thoughts on Today’s Spring Loaded Apple Event

Today was Apple’s Spring Loaded event and it certainly was loaded with a new Mac, iPads Pro, AirTags, AppleTV, and a bit more. I have a few initial thoughts:

The 24″ iMac

  • Hooray for color back on the Mac. It’s been way too long. I particularly like that Apple went with bold colors on these new iMacs. As a good friend texted me, “They had me at Purple.”

  • Colored keyboards, mice, and trackpads also make me happy.

  • This really feels like the ‘Computer as Appliance’ version of the iMac.

  • I never thought I’d need a Magnetic power connector for an iMac. I’d be afraid I may yank the power while shifting the thing.

  • Just four ports. No SD card. No USB A. This is probably an M1 limitation but I’m not aware of any other iMac ever shipping with just four ports.

  • And the Ethernet is on the power brick. Weird. The reason I suspect is that the actual computer isn’t deep enough to plug in Ethernet (or USB A).

  • Overall, I really like the redesign. I am a bit sad the chin stayed and I’m still curious for the rest of the story with the bigger iMac.

  • When we saw the rumors of a flat slab iMac, I wondered if they’d be able to make the audio any good. I’m glad they addressed this in the product rollout, but I’m also looking forward to reading reviews on this point.

  • I think this will be the last implementation of the M1 chip. I suspect the next big Mac announcement will feature Macs with something faster that the pundits collectively call M1X. Probably more performance and graphics cores. If I was a betting man, I’d say that will show up in the 14″ and 16″ MacBooks Pro, a space grey Mac mini, and (hopefully) a big iMac, and (perhaps?) the rumored Mac Pro Cube.

The New iPad Pro

  • I didn’t expect them to put the M1 in the iPad. I expected something very M1-like, but with an A at the front. In hindsight, however, it makes sense. When you are making your own silicon, you’ll want to keep things as easy as possible.

  • The new screen technology on the 12.9″ iPad Pro is impressive.

  • I’d really like to hear about people using a 2TB iPad.

  • The 5G was expected, but I’m pleased to see it happen.

  • You can get it in any color you like so long as it is space gray or silver. I hope this isn’t a sign of things to come for the bigger iMacs. Why does Apple think pro devices can not have fun colors?

  • We heard a lot of rumors about a new Apple Pencil, but that didn’t happen.

  • I feel like every time Apple brings out a new iPad, it goes out its way to show how useful the iPad is, but then they don’t really deliver the goods with so many issues in the operating system. I wish the software team would reflect the marketing team’s enthusiasm.

AppleTV 4K

  • All they really had to say was, “We fixed the crappy remote.”

AirTags

  • Finally! We’ve been hearing about these in rumor-land for years.

  • I expect these will be a big hit and they seem priced about right at $99 for a four-pack.

  • I’ve always wondered how Apple would address the “creepy problem” when they announced AirTags. What if creepy people hide AirTags on other people so they can surreptitiously track them? Apple explained, “AirTags are for things, not people.” I’m curious to see how that gets implemented. (I’m also thinking about attaching one to my dog. What about dogs, Tim?)

Apple’s Spring Loaded Event


spring-loaded.png

Today Apple announced its “Spring Loaded” event for next Tuesday, April 20. A spring event has been rumored for months. I’m glad they’ve announced it so we can get on with it.

For some pure speculation, I’m thinking we’ll see new iPad Pros and the years-rumored AirTags. I’d love to see new Apple Silicon Macs, but I expect those won’t get announced until WWDC in June.

Thoughts on the One More Thing Event

So today, Apple announced its first Apple Silicon Macs. I have a few thoughts:

  • Wow! I had high expectations, but overall, Apple delivered with the new M1.

  • The M1 performance looks like a crazy leap forward. Generally, we’ll get 3X performance increases and 5X graphics improvements. That is completely nuts.

  • On all of these devices, Apple suddenly had all of this additional low watt/hour power. In each case, they chose to use it by giving the devices both more power and more battery. That isn’t a surprise. What is a surprise, to me at least, is how much power and additional battery life they were able to get.

  • Battery improvements are nuts. They gave many numbers, but it sounds like at least 6 hours of additional battery on both laptops.

  • There are two chip options available: 7 core and 8 core. I suspect that is simply a result of chip binning. When they didn’t get a full yield on a chip, they make that one of the less expensive ones.

  • My initial impression is that the scales just got tipped even more toward the MacBook Air in the Air vs. Pro question. The MacBook Air is so much more powerful and now fanless. You’ll need to justify going up to the Pro.

  • The M1 Mac mini was not in any of the rumors I read but makes sense. The Mac mini is now a mighty little computer.

  • There were no demos of running iPhone and iPad apps on the M1 Macs. Didn’t that seem weird?

  • Speaking of iOS, we didn’t get several of the iOS features I’d liked to have seen, like FaceID, cellular radios, and Touchscreen. But it is still early. I expect that may change with future hardware.

  • Did anybody else catch the bit with Ken Case playing the harp at 20:59?

  • You can order the new Macs today. Big Sur ships in two days. Buckle up, gang.

Overall, this change just gave the Mac a jolt of electricity. I fully expect the Mac hardware to also evolve in unexpected directions. I cannot wait to see how this all plays out over the next few years.

A Few Thoughts Following Today’s Apple Event

  • Every year Apple shows off its latest processor on a chip, and every year I’m impressed. What will it take for the competition to get closer to Apple? It seems like they have this massive lead, and they just keep running at full tilt. Moreover, it is that chip speed that drives so much of the innovation and features. Most of the new features announced today are possible because of processing power.

  • That was the first time that any carrier partner got any time at an Apple event in a long time. I’m curious to see how the real world numbers compare to the promises for 5G. Also, did you catch how many times they said or wrote “under ideal conditions”? It was a lot.

  • The new ceramic shield for iPhone glass sounds very interesting. I have a few predictions on this: a) your iPhone glass will break less often; b) your iPhone glass will scratch easier; c) there are going to be some crazy YouTube iPhone drop tests in the next few weeks.

  • One thing that stands out is how many new announcements (A14, XDR Display, Ceramic Shield, 5G) are all across the line on the iPhone 12. Apple is no longer holding the best stuff for only the Pro phones.

  • I’ve thought that this would be the year that I don’t get a Max sized iPhone for several months now. Then Apple announced the additional camera improvements with the 12 Max. When they explained an 87% improvement in low light, my smaller phone willpower evaporated. Instantly.

  • I think MagSafe might be a bigger deal than expected. We’ve all struggled with chargers and cases in the past. The modular nature of MagSafe will resonate with a lot of people (myself included). However, why’d they have to call it MagSafe? That still stings as I look at my MagSafe-less laptop.

  • It was no surprise that the iPhone is no longer shipping with a charger or EarPods. I get the reasoning, and lowering emissions is a good idea. I do wish they had an easy way for customers to buy these costly phones to click a box and get those things shipped to them if needed.

  • Did you catch that they will now ship a USB-C to Lightning cable? Finally.

  • When they said the iPhone was getting the most popular video game in the world, I thought we’d get Donkey Kong. I’d never heard of League of Legends.

  • You have to think that when Apple decided to make the HomePod mini, the starting point was someone standing in front of a whiteboard and writing, “$99”. I suspect the mini will be much more popular than its older sibling.

  • Speaking of HomePod, mine were going off like crazy with all of the “Hey Siri”s in the presentation. Apple needs to work on that. I’d like to see them let you create your own trigger phrase.

  • In hindsight, using HomePods and Apple devices as an intercom system seems such a no brainer. The question is whether anyone will use it, or it will become the next Walkie-Talkie that still exists on the Apple Watch, but nobody uses.

  • Finally, am I the only one that wants to move into the Apple Demo house?

The Apple September 15 Event

On Tuesday, Apple is having its first of an expected several events over the next few months. Announcements expected over this time are:

  • New Watches on September 15

  • New iPad Air on September 15

After that, there are iPhones, Apple Silicon Macs, a supposed Tile competitor, and who-knows-what else, which should arrive starting in October.

As to the new Apple Watch, 9to5 Mac did some sleuthing and found code related to blood-oxygen level sensors. I’m glad to see Apple continue with yearly updates to the Apple Watch. When you compare what they started with to what we’re going to get on Tuesday, they’ve come a long way.

It also looks like we are getting close to the iOS 14 release. We’ll learn a lot on Tuesday.