So, after my last two videos on what Apple Silicon really is and what it really means, I got a bunch of questions from you all asking where that left Intel Macs, especially since Apple was still going to be releasing more of them.
At the exact same time Tim Cook announced that the first Apple Silicon Mac would be shipping this year, he also announced that they still had some new Intel Macs in the pipeline that they were really excited about.
Because, Apple Silicon is going to take some time to rollout. When Tim Cook said we’d get the first system by the end of the year, he said first system SINGULAR. As in one system.
Sure, it could be more, but we can’t expect any more.
He also said the full transition would take two years. As in, it could be two years before the specific Mac you want gets released with an Apple Silicon system-on-a-chip.
Sure, Steve Jobs said it would take two years for the PowerPC to Intel transition back in 2005 and it ended up taking less than one year, but past isn’t always predicate. Things could go just as well this time, or Tim Cook could be far more accurate about the time.
Either way, if you need a new Mac now, now, now, you may simply be in no position to wait for the Apple Silicon version later this year, next year, or seriously, in as much as two years.
And should know my standard advice by now anyway — wait as long as you can to buy, buy when you absolutely have to, buy the best you can afford at the time, and then have zero regrets because there will always be something next.
So, if you need a Mac now, and you can’t wait, don’t feel at all bad about getting an Intel Mac now. It’ll see to your immediate needs and when the time comes for your next next Mac, even better Apple Silicon models will be on the market.
And, especially if you are a high-order-bit Pro, where time is literally money, new systems are paid off by the studio, a single client, or a single gig, getting a new Intel 10th generation iMac or 16-inch MacBook Pro, with next-generation RDNA graphics from AMD, now could be well more than worth it to you even if you plan on getting an Apple Silicon Mac whenever they arrive as well.
If that’s your plan, jump down and tell me which one you’re waiting.
Rev A boards
I have this friend whose like a nerds nerd. He’s written software that’s literally been used by billions of people. On every platform. And there’s two things he doesn’t do — beta and buy rev A boards.
What he means by that is simple: He has to work, he has to produce, and he has absolutely zero time for anything that will slow him down or hinder him for doing that in any way. Which is what cutting edge, never mind bleeding edge, software and hardware will do.
So, he’s always a point version or two behind on his operating system and software updates and a generation or two behind on his computers and cards.
And that’s totally legit. Totally valid as computing choices go.
For some people, having the best and last of the old is just a much smarter, safer, more predictable, more practical position than having the first and least known of the new.
That’s why, while I’m here waiting and just totally obviously salivating over whatever Apple Silicon Macs we get first and soonest, and if you are as well, hit that like button and lets see how how it can go.
But him, he’s just sitting there, laughing, and more than happy for me to be the beta tester, the guinea pig, on all of that for the next year or several.
Just sitting there waiting to see how that family of Apple SoC’s really perform. How that Intel platter really, really gets served by the Apple Silicon’s sandwich.
How Apple scales up from ultra-lights to pro laptops, to desktops, to workstations. How those storm-based CPU cores really compare to Intel’s… endless Lakes. How the custom GPU face off againt Intel embedded and AMD dedicated, never mind Nvidia… How universal memory works compared to the PCI buses. What the RAM and storage stories end up being, the specialized silicon vs. general purpose computing plays.
Just laughing, waiting to spend his money on that 10th Gen, RDNA iMac or MacBook Pro…
And maybe some or many of you are as well. Let me know in the comments.
The software story
Now, as much as Apple loves to hold an event, show off a new product, and say orders start today or this week and they’ll be in the store or at your door immediately if not within a week or two…
When it comes to really new products, as in new category products, Apple typically announces them way earlier than when they ship, sometimes a month, sometimes several.
And no, not to give Tim Cook time to personally come to your house and baseball bat your old Mac so you’ll just have to buy the new one. It’s still not safe for him to travel.
But, no. Seriously no. To give developers time to get their apps ready.
For Apple Silicon specifically, there are a couple ways apps will be able to run.
First, existing Mac apps will run using Rosetta 2, which basically emulates Intel on Apple Silicon. It does a lot of smart things, including translating on download, install, and dynamical as needed, and it will probably run way, way better than anyone is assuming right now, but it’ll still be emulation.
Second is Universal Binaries 2, where developers have the existing Intel version, make a specific version for Apple Silicon, bundle them up, and you just get the right version for your system when you hit download.
Many, if not most developers, especially Indies who really care about the performance of their software are going to jump on that, like Mario on a super mushroom.
But many if not most is not all. Just like not all 32-bit plugins and apps got moved to 64-bit in time to survive the Red Upgrade that was Catalina, not all Intel apps will get moved over to Apple Silicon.
Sometimes it’s because they’re older apps and the people who developed them are just no longer around, and sometimes it’s because they see the Mac as just a niche market and t think they can justify the effort and costs, and sometimes it’s because their own internal resources and priorities and politics make it so it’s going to take them a bunch of months or a year or more to do it.
You know, like Google with iOS apps.
But, if that app happens to be a bleeding edge game or, far more critically, a high-performance audio or video tool, or 3D or scientific modeler that you depend on for your work, than Rosetta 2 just isn’t going to be much comfort… or much help…
And if that app or game doesn’t even exist on macOS to begin with, and you’ve been using Bootcamp to run Windows on your Intel Mac… well… Bootcamp isn’t even going to exist on Apple Silicon Macs either.
That’s all end of line.
So, if you need Windows, like good old-fashioned Windows on Intel, then you’re going to need an Intel Mac for a good long while still.
Which is why Apple is still closing them out, even with delays in the roadmap and shipping chips, and issues with lock-downs and shelter-in-place, and just… everything.
Getting the Mac lineup all good and all updated on the latest Intel and AMD chipsets, and promising to support them with new operating systems for years to come… that just creates the best and strongest foundation for everyone before everything that comes next.
Moving the Mac to Apple Silicon is exciting but, honestly, Apple Silicon isn’t even the most exciting thing about it. It’s the features that Apple Silicon will enable.
I’ll get to the specific Macs and features in a minute but, for years, Apple’s been able to deliver experiences on iOS devices, on the iPhone and iPad, that simply haven’t been practical or or even possible on the Mac.
Why? Because on the iPhone and the iPad, Apple’s owned everything from the hardware to the software to the interface, including the silicon.
And, on the Mac, they’ve been dependent on Intel.
And.. working around Intel.
For example, when Intel failed to support the 5K displays Apple wanted for the Retina iMac, Apple built their own custom timing controller. We all lost target display mode, but they fused the bandwidth together to support pushing that many pixels, if only internally.
When Intel failed to deliver HEVC — H.265 — support, and shunting it off to the GPU just wasn’t good enough, Apple used custom encode/decode blocks on their own T2 chips, essentially a variant of the A10 in the iPhone 7, to handle it instead.
Same with the Secure Enclave for Touch ID and Apple Pay, the always-on processor for voice activated Siri, the storage controller and real-time data encryption, and the list goes on and on.
But, building that much scaffolding is just… inefficient and, I imagine, exhausting. Especially when you’re still with Intel’s increasingly hot, increasingly power hungry CPUs continuously trying to just burst out of the bead-blasted unibody enclosures you’re trying to fit them into.
And every YouTuber is just face-palm thumbnail fire emoji fire emoji fire emoji.
And… just none of that happens with the iPad.
So, the Mac is moving to Apple Silicon, and we should start to see features more in line with, and more on pace, with the iPad.
We’re even seeing some of them already.
Apple’s shown the new restore system, which will let you recover your Mac using a hidden container, and the new full and reduced security modes for casual and hobbies users respectively, things that weren’t possible before Apple Silicon.
Likewise, hypervisor acceleration for virtual machines built into the Silicon, and all of it just showing that, now fully in control of their destiny, Apple pretty much can and will design the chips specifically to support and accelerate the features they’re putting into the operating systems.
So, when you take the features Apple’s already been able to deliver on the iPhone and iPad, the workaround they’ve already provided for the Mac, and the new stuff they’ve hinted at for the new silicon, it sets up just a huge amount of potential for the next generation systems.
Of course, Apple hasn’t said what’s coming or when. And it’s fair to assume things will start off more conservatively, more slowly, just to keep the transition as rock-solid as possible, but over the next few years, I have a really strong feeling the sky really is the limit.
Apple announced the 12-inch MacBook the same year they the announced the iPad Pro.
Both were ultra-thin, ultra-light, and ultra-silent with not a fan in sight, but while the iPad Pro was also ultra-powerful, the 12-inch MacBook was… most decidedly not.
And that came down to the differences between Intel’s anemic CoreM Y-Series and imbedded graphics and Apple’s increasingly performant A-series system-on-a-chip.
So, now, imagine something in between that 12-inch MacBook and the MacBook Air today, but instead of CoreM, it’s got one of Apple’s new family of Mac SoC’s.
You’d have something every bit as powerful as a current iPad Pro — more, even, if the SoC is on the new ARMv9 instruction set and 5 nanometer process like the A14 series might just be this fall, and its not as constrained by the size and power envelope of the iPad.
10 hours of battery life maybe? More if Apple decides to prioritize it over weight?
And, like the iPad Pro, maybe a smaller one at 12-inches, edge-to-edge, and a bigger one at 14-inches.
With more than the iPad Pro’s current limit of 6GB of RAM, and the traditional clamshell form factor traditional laptop users know and love…
It wouldn’t be a workstation, wouldn’t be meant to be anything even in the same universe as a workstation, but if you have a workstation at home or in the studio and want to travel with an ultra-light, Apple could build in acceleration for Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro and Xcode, and for 3rd party pro apps, beyond anything Intel has been capable of to date.
Remember, that 12-inch MacBook on Intel choked on a single stream of 4K while the iPad Pro could handle multiple streams like a boss. And that was 3 to 5 years ago.
Another option the iPad Pro’s had… forever… that the MacBook’s just never gotten at all is cellular networking.
It’s 4G LTE right now but expected to go to 5G Sub-6, maybe Sub-9 at the low end and mmWave at the high end this fall, when Apple’s… renewed partnership with Qualcomm kicks back in… after they take care of the much higher priority iPhone of course.
Apple could have added a cellular modem to the MacBook at any time. They’d have to figure out the antennas and give macOS the far more data-efficient features iOS has enjoyed for basically ever. But it costs a freaking fortune to license the modems and IP.
In other words, Qualcomm is famous for demanding a hefty share of the profits. The iPad option is already $120 and based on MacBook prices, it could go even higher.
Now, other companies are doing it, of course. Sure, it means paying for an additional cellular plan, with some 5G versions being just painfully expensive and other being truly excruciating. And 5G service still being largely mythical in most parts, but they’re doing it.
And that’s where Apple Silicon comes in. See, Apple didn’t just agree to buy Qualcomm chips, they agreed to license the technology. And then they bought Intel’s modem business, basically what they used to make iPhone modems before this new agreement with Qualcomm.
So, it’s also possible Apple could just wait a couple or few years until they’re ready to ship their own, custom, modems integrated right into the Apple Silicon.
Both for iOS devices and, who knows, maybe the Mac as well.
Would you want a cellular Mac? Let me know in the comments below.
Now, of course, with a MacBook or MacBook Air, you’re looking at an ultra-light device very much like the iPad. For a MacBook Pro, you’re looking at something quite a bit more…
Well, something… with a fan.
Given the bigger chassis, the better cooling, and the higher power draw that allows… Well, we’ll just have to wait and see what that kind of Apple Silicon SoC can really deliver.
Especially in terms of graphics where they’ll be trading in the dedicated AMD chips for integrated Apple chips… and even more dedicated accelerators and controllers.
Not just for hypervisors either, but for absolutely any feature Apple wants to make as absolutely high performance as possible. Whatever it takes to make the pro tools and pro workflows teams happy. And, yeah, us.
The goal should be every ounce of power Intel’s delivered to date, and more, with nothing like the power draw or thermal constraints.
Apple Silicon also houses Apple’s own, custom display controllers.
When it comes to displays, everyone pretty much has access to all the same panels from all the same same processes, whatever they’re willing and able to pay for.
But Apple has been demanding not just their own panel specs for years already on the iPhone and iPad, but building their own display controllers as well. Things that enable the 120hz adaptive refresh rates of ProMotion on the iPad Pro, and handles all the performance and mitigations of OLED on the iPhone.
Apple’s display team has already brought their DCI-P3 wide gamut pipeline to the Mac, their TrueTone dynamic color temperature adjustments, even adjustable refresh between 48 and 60 on the 16-inch MacBook Pro.
But there’s still more they can do. Maybe not with OLED, because of its quirkiness, but with miniLED that tries to better balance out some of those good characteristics, like deeper blacks and higher contrast, with less of the bad ones, like color shifting and sometimes less than consistent brightness levels across larger panels.
And, of course, if Apple ever decides to un-nope multitouch or Apple Pencil support for the Mac, all of that is already built to just work with all of this as well.
Drop a like below if those are things you want to see on the Mac.
With all of these next-generation systems, Apple’s going to be able to decide if they want to use the far greater efficiency of custom silicon to keep the same performance at even smaller weights and sizes, or boost performance at the same weights and sizes.
For something like the MacBook Air, portability is going to beat out absolute performance. For something like the MacBook Pro, the reverse is hopefully true.
But what about the desktops?
Apple could take the current Mac mini design and just power it up to perfect home server levels. Basically the all-in-the-box for anyone who doesn’t want a built-in display or a big old cheesegrator tower.
Though I’m sure I’m by far not the only Mac nerd still just begging for an expandable mini tower as well.
But, my fanfic budget for today goes only so far…
Now, Apple could also go the other way — maintain current performance levels, and just carve away so much casing the mini becomes more of an Apple TV-sized Mac… nano.
I mean, with an SoC, as long as you have the ports, you don’t really need much in the way of a box.
Especially considering, after Intel released the Thunderbolt 4 news last week, Apple sent me a statement, I shared on twitter, re-affirming their commitment to the technology, and that they’ll continue to support it with their custom silicon.
That’s something beyond what Apple does now with the iPad Pro, where there’s USB-C out, but no extra PCIe lanes, so no Thunderbolt out.
With USB 4 on the way, which keeps the the USB-C connector and basically supersets Thunderbolt, it could end up finally, finally delivering on the promise of one interconnect to integrate them all. Across the whole Mac lineup.
With the iMac, I think what’s exciting people the most is the rumors of a redesign. I did a whole video on that already, so, seriously, make sure you hit that subscribe button and bell so you don’t miss out.
Beyond having a more iPad Pro-like design and a potentially a mini-LED display, Apple Silicon also opens up the potential for technologies like Face ID.
The MacBook Air and MacBook Pro both have Touch ID. The first generation was essentially an Apple Watch system-in-package and display controller buried next to the Touch Bar. The current one is like an A10 chip buried under it.
But Apple has just never pushed the technology to the desktop Macs. Not even the keyboards included with the iMac Pro or Mac Pro.
It’s not a security issue. Apple figured out how to transit Touch ID authentication on the iPhone to the Mac years ago. Same with Apple Watch unlock. They even use time of flight to prevent relay attacks. It’s super cool tech.
But it’s expensive. They’d have to put a system-in-package or system-on-a-chip inside the keyboard, and that would bump up costs considerably.
Modern Apple Silicon, though, has the ANE, the Apple Neural Engine built in, and that’s what powers Face ID.
Sure, putting a True Depth camera system in an iMac would be expensive as well, but like Touch ID on the MacBook Pro, the expense would be in the computer, not a standalone keyboard.
Now, maybe no Face ID in the Pro Display XDR means its just not a technology Apple’s interested in shipping with the Mac, but I think that would be a huge missed opportunity.
Not just because having Face ID on the iMac, and all the MacBooks, frankly, would be incredibly convenient, not just because having a True Depth camera would finally bring the Mac at least partially into the world of Apple’s next big thing — augmented reality, but because it would also high-key help solve the ongoing embarrassment that is the potato cam problem on almost all current Macs.
Even if all some of you want to hear from me right now is Apple Pencil support and drawing board mode for an iMac Studio.
But that’s less about silicon and more about philosophy. Still, let me know your preference in the comments.
It seems… odd that Apple would release a Mac Pro last year and then a Mac to Apple transition plan this year.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Intel Macs won’t just remain useful for years to come, for pros specifically, who struggle to get the software they need supported even on Macs with Intel, they’ll likely remain table-stakes for years to come.
But, in a system-on-a-chip world, where does the ultimate system-spread-out-across-a-tower Mac even fit in?
And this is where my speculation really goes full-on fanfic.
But, Apple knew about the Intel transition when they were building this new Mac Pro. When they were spending those two or three long years in the desert with the Pro Workflows team figuring out what a modern, modular Mac really meant, really needed to be, and it’s hard to imagine the Intel to Apple Silicon transition wasn’t something they considered a lot. Like, a lot a lot.
Sure, it’s possible this was a last hurrah, the end of big iron, and the Mac Pro will be sent off to sit in a rocking chair next to the Xserve, Elvis, and Bruce Lee, and Bubba Hotep.
But it’s also possible the Mac Pro will just transition to Apple Silicon along with the rest of the lineup. Just, in its heart, instead of Xeon cores, it’ll have the monster of all SoC.
And maybe Metal and the various performance and machine learning controllers, which Apple designed to abstract away the hodgepodge of silicon that’s always lurked below the surface, the different CPUs, custom chips, and GPUs in any given Mac, any given year, will still enable a variety of options.
See, the dirty little secret about why there’s no Nvidia in modern Macs, I mean beyond the feuds of the past, is that they’re at absolute cross-purposes with Apple.
Nvidia wants to be the most important part of any machine, and totally commoditize the PC around it. Doesn’t matter what you buy or build, it just has to have Nvidia and CUDA cores and you’re set.
Apple, on the other hand, wants the most important part to be the machine, and totally commoditize the components inside. Doesn’t matter if one year it’s Nvidia, the next AMD, and the future, Apple Graphics. Just buy the Mac and you’re set.
And they’re both powerful and successful enough they neither sees any need to budge. AMD, though, seems happy to do whatever Apple needs.
So, maybe AMD can still exist in a post Apple Silicon world, abstracted away behind Metal as just another compute resource.
Or maybe Apple, with a bank even bigger than Nvidia, decides to spend the few years it takes to spin graphics chips every bit as good, maybe even better.
I mean, who would have thought 5 years ago we’d be seeing what’s happened to Intel?
Or, maybe it’s something entirely new and Apple sticks to the SoC but has a bunch of accelerator and expander cards available, re-programmable ASICs like Afterburner, but not just for ProRes, but for a wide variety of different needs, and like the storage expander, but not just for storage, for memory as well.
Maybe that’s what the next generation of massively modular Mac really means, and was really designed to be?
Siri Shortcuts. One of the biggest, nerdiest, and most awesome updates to iOS 14, iPadOS 14, and watchOS 7 this year, and… they barely got any attention at the WWDC 2020 keynote.
But… I can fix that! Joining me for this video is Matthew Cassinelli, who, long story short, was one of the original members of the Workflow team, brought into Apple, but who left just before they became Shortcuts, so he could share his expertise with all of the rest of us on the outside
iPadOS 14 has just gone into Public Beta. So, if you’re even thinking about giving it a test-drive before it goes into general release this fall, then this video for you.
I’ve also already done a complete iOS 14 preview, and have macOS, watchOS, and all the AirPods, HomePods, and Home stuff coming your way, so hit that subscribe button and bell right now, and you won’t miss anything.
iPadOS 14 Public Beta
You can get on any or all of Apple’s software testing programs, via beta.apple.com .
Just remember that beta means beta, so don’t put it on your primary iPad if that’s something you need to rely on day to day. Because there will be bugs, apps that don’t work, and all sorts of other stuff along the way.
And always make sure you backup before you beta, just in case you decide you really want to go back.
iPadOS 14 Compatibility
If you’re running iPadOS 13 on your iPad, you’ll be able to run iPadOS 14 on that very same iPad.
That includes every iPad from the 2014 iPad Air 2, the 2015 iPad mini 2, the 2017 iPad, and all the iPads Pro.
As always, Apple’s commitment to software updates is just, really, unmatched.
iPadOS 14 Cursor — Redux
Now, at first blush, it may seem that the iPad didn’t get as much attention or as big an update as the iPhone this year. That Apple is continuing their more like every other year cadence for the iPad.
And that’s… kinda sorta true. But only kinda sorta.
Obviously, the iPad didn’t get the new Home screen experience the iPhone did. Which is… More on that in a hot take minute.
And it also didn’t get anything in the way of a fix to the still fussy, fiddly multi-window mechanics from last year.
But, the iPad is getting not just everything coming in iPadOS 14, but most of what’s coming in iOS 14 as well.
That includes all the new features in Messages, Memoji, Maps, Privacy, Accessibility, App Clips — though without NFC options, obviously — Camera, Photos, and more.
No Translate app, though, which is just Kevin Sorbo levels of disappointing.
But, the iPad also just got a monstrous update back in March, which the iPhone did not get.
An update with trackpad, mouse, and cursor support. An update that, if Apple had waited and kept it for WWDC, would have made the 2020 iPad Pro release way less impactful but, hot damn, would it have spiced up iPadOS 14.
Sure, that was then and this is now and what have you done for my iPad lately, right?
Well, Apple did use iPadOS 14 as away to provide way more insight into how, exactly, this now cursor system works.
Specifically, how the initial, round cursor is meant to better fit touch screen devices than the traditional, more precise, but also far more finicky arrow pointer.
How it doesn’t just morph into button shapes to give you visual confirmation you’re on target, but also magnetically snaps to them and between them, to help you more confidently differentiate and actually hit your target.
Also, if the system thinks you’re trying to reach something further away than a small trackpad swipe will allow, it’ll throw and snap the cursor to what it thinks is your most likely target.
Similarly, instead of making you guess if your arrow pointer is at the bottom of the top line or top of the bottom line, and only letting you know if you got it right or wrong after you go to the trouble of dragging it out, it’ll remove the ambiguity before you even start by snapping between lines as well.
All this to say, cursor support on the iPad is way, way smarter and more sophisticated than it might have appeared at first glance… or swipe.
And, while, sure, some of that might be to work around the lack of affordance in modern iOS and precision in touch-first computing devices, it’s also kinda low-key brilliant and I’d love to see some of the considerations here get taken all the way back to the Mac.
iPadOS 14 Widgets
One of the biggest flagship, tentpole… whatever features in iOS 14 is the new home screen experience nearly two years in the making.
And iPadOS 14 gets… none of it. Well, a little. But not really.
iPadOS 14 is getting the new widget design. Derived from the SwiftUI Apple Watch complications, they look great, the information density is terrific, they’re super easy to take in even at a glance, and you can stack and smart stack them so you can fit a bunch into the same-sized space and the right one will usually just pop up for you at the right time.
They don’t have the in-widget interactivity of the previous versions, though. See my iOS 14 preview for details and diatribes.
But, the iPadOS implementation also has an extra strike in its widget box: Unlike on the iPhone, where you can drag and drop these shiny new toys right onto the Home screen, on the iPad they’re still locked and key-thrown-away into what’s basically Schrödinger’s sidebar. The Today view.
Which means you have to swipe them over from the Home screen or Notification Center, or pin them on the Home screen but only in landscape mode… and it’s… just a whole thing. Or an un-whole thing, more like it.
There’s also no App Library. Which is the new end-of-Home screen screen on the iPhone that auto-magically Marie Kondo’s all your apps into intelligent folders for you. It’s delightful and it’s just totally MIA on the iPad.
Now, it’s been suggested that the iPad screen is big enough and the icon grid can be made dense enough that you don’t really need arbitrary widget placement or the App Library.
And, hey, we’re the ones who kept asking for the iPad to get its own OS and be treated differently anyway. So… whoops.
But, my guess is that the iPad is different enough now for things like how the small, medium, and large widgets would fit on the wider grid, handle both the more dense and bigger icon versions, and how they’d react to the grid reorganize on rotation, that Apple just hasn’t had the time to implement it all yet.
Hard deadlines and work from home being hard deadlines and work from home and all.
But, hopefully, after piloting it on the iPhone this year, and seeing all the demand for it, we’ll get it on the iPad next year.
And if that’s what you want, drop a like below so that demand can really be seen.
iPadOS 14 App Interfaces
Like the iPhone, the iPad is shedding its full-screen takeovers, the ones for phone and FaceTime calls, Siri and search, for what Apple’s calling compact interfaces.
So, now, instead of a call… well… screen-spreading across your display, you’ll get banner notifications. Or, in Siri’s case, a swirling, pulsating powerball at relative bottom right as opposed to absolute bottom center. I covered the good and bad of both in my iOS 14 Preview, so make sure you check that out.
Where the iPad scores a decisive presentational victory, though, is Search. New. Universal. Search.
Swipe down on the screen or hit command space on the physical keyboard and now you have the glory that has basically been macOS don’t-call-it-spotlight-search-anymore for years.
Results start to appear from the first character you type, you can launch apps from the moment they pop up, you can do knowledge-based searches — which is basically type-to-Siri. And you can search not just the web but inside apps as well, which is terrific.
It’s only Apple apps right now, of course, but come general release this fall, hopefully a ton more text and data-centric apps will open wide to the feature as well.
And I love this, because there have been many years where new iPad ideas and conventions have been taken back to the Mac. So, it’s great to see the iPad pulling more of the new and better Mac ones over as well.
Including Sidebars, which are among just the Mac-iest of Mac interface conventions.
You can find them, freshly minted, in Mail, Notes, Files, Calendar, Photos, and a bunch of other built-in apps.
Like so many of the more complicated, more traditional computer trappings Apple’s been adding to iOS over the years, they’re not all up jammed in your face by default. You have to tap one of the new, crisp, clean toolbar buttons to reveal them. Which, I think is great.
It shows that even as Apple is increasingly evolving the iPhone an iPad to better fit the needs of the tiny but incredibly vocal, legit adorable minority of us nerds, they’re not abandoning the vast majority of mainstream users. The one’s that find traditional computer complexity not just off-putting but alienating. You know, the ones the iPad was literally designed for.
Because we nerds already have a ton of computing options and everyone else shouldn’t lose their best one just so we can hoard up another.
Anyway… sidebars. Yes.
For those of us nerds used to the Mac, they’re great. Along with the new pull-down menus, not only do they provide for far better consistency between the iPad and newly redesigned macOS platforms, come later this year when Apple Silicon Macs start to ship, and they can run iPad apps natively, right alongside Mac apps, it’ll provide far better consistency on that platform specifically as well.
Don’t you just love it when a serendipitous plan comes together?
iPadOS 14 Notes
I went over a bunch of built-in app updates in my iOS 14 preview. Things like @ mentions and reply threads in Messages, and cycling directions and skyline scanning in Maps. Link to all that in the description. But there’s also a lot more in this update.
Notes has a new drop-down that tries to make the most relevant actions pretty much instantly available to you for any given note.
The pinned notes section is now collapsible so if you, like me, have just a ton of stuff pinned, you can tap it away now so you can get to everything else without having to grunt scroll all the way past it every single time you want something else.
Document scanning is sharper and with better cropping, and search is smarter, with top hits, and what Apple calls elevated results for attachments, including images, PDFs, and web pages.
Still no plain text mode that I can find, though, which is the one thing that keeps it from being just perfect for me.
iPadOS 14 Reminders
You can now assign Reminders to anyone you share a list with, which is both great and how dare you.
I mean, we’ll see how many relationships can withstand “you were clearly the DRI on canceling Quibi!”
There’s a new details menu so you can more easily and quickly send out assignments as well, and also add flags, dates, times, and locations.
Reminders will also now offer you smart suggestions for those locations and dates, and lists you may want to move tasks to, as well as pulling potential reminders for you based on your email.
I’m always wary of to do feature creep, because I never want a task manager to just become one more task to manage, but so far, Apple is maintaining a decent balance.
And some fun. There are also almost a dozen new symbols and full emoji support so you can really personalize your reminders, and take your reminder assignments game to the next level. Emoji impatient Judge Judy tapping furiously on watch… 👩⚖️⌚️
iPadOS 14 Safari
Yeah, there’s no iPad version of the Translate app, which is depressing given how much emphasis Apple places on the universality of their apps.
Except for, you know, Calculator and Weather. And I’d still love to know who’s holding the Kompromat over the PM for those omissions.
But, Safari will now translate web pages directly, which is great for anyone who doesn’t want to just shovel yet more free behavioral data at Google.
It currently supports English, Spanish, Simplified Chinese, French, German, Russian, and Brazilian Portuguese — which means I can finally figure out what all my Brazilian jiu-jitsu coaches were yelling at me for all those years…
Safari will now show you more and better tabs, with favicons on by default so you can more easily find the one you’re looking for at a glance.
Using cryptographic derivation, which I think basically means getting something usable from a secret while still maintaining that secret, Safari will also check to see if any accounts you’re storing in Apple’s keychain system may have been hacked or otherwise compromised, and prompt you to change your password or switch to Sign in with Apple, if available.
You can also tap the options button and then Privacy Report to see everything all the cross-site trackers on all the websites you go to have been up to. It’s… a lot.
And yeah, we totally did find out if anyone can hear data harvesters scream in their hearts.
iPadOS 14 Game Center
Game Center is getting is biggest update since Apple shaved off the green felt and… pretty much everything else along with it a few years ago.
There’s a new in-game dashboard that gives you all your and all your friends’s progress in one easy-to-see, easy-to gloat over place. And you can tap in to get to your profile, achievements, leaderboard, even get friend recommendations.
Game Center is also integrated right into the App Store now, both into the Games and Arcade tabs and the actual game app pages.
That means you can see which games your friends are playing, so you can join them… or totally dodge them. Like Ally…
iPadOS 14 Augmented Reality
You can tell how seriously Apple takes ARKit by how relentlessly they’ve been improving it year after year. And ARKit may just be the biggest, most audacious update yet.
Reality Kit is getting video textures, so you can map a movie screen to your wall, facial expressions to head model, ripples to a river, pretty much anything you want to animate.
If you have the latest iPad Pro with LiDAR, the new depthy API will let virtual objects behave far more naturally with the real world. That includes things like virtual clothing try-ons, video and photo editing, and effects.
Location Anchors let you drop AR experiences not just into the real world but into precise real-world places in the real world.
Basically, you pick a famous area or landmark, or just, you know, your house, and then Apple pulls the all the rich, detailed data from the new Maps they’ve just launched in the U.S. and are continuing to roll out in Canada, Ireland, and the U.K., and the AR experience can just lock right in.
Sort of like… the opposite of the Matrix?
And then you can move around the virtual objects and see them in a way that’s just far, far closer to how real objects would look in the same situation.
It’s mind blowing to think of Gundam or a Valkerie landing in your driveway, but it’ll be even more mind blowing when we no longer have to hold up an iPad or iPhone to see it.
iPadOS 14 Pencil
As big as the trackpad and cursor update was last march, as much as it helped make the iPad work more like a traditional computer for everyone who wants to use the iPad as a traditional computer, I am exponentially more excited about the Pencil updates coming this fall.
You can draw a shape and if you pause at the end and keep the Pencil-tip down, the iPad will convert it into the perfect, geometric Platonic Ideal of that shape.
And that works for straight lines with and without arrows, curves with and without arrows, outline arrows, continuous lines with 90-degree angles, squares, rectangles, circles, ovals, hearts, triangles, stars, clouds, thought bubbles, and hexagons.
No octagons or sexy shapes. Sorry. So sorry.
For hand writing, it’s just a quantum leap forward. Like from Sam to Archer to Pride-sized leap.
First and most importantly, the iPad will just treat hand writing like typed writing.
Using machine learning models they’ve been building and training for years, they can just identify writing — you know, as opposed to abstract doodling — down to the individual strings and characters that compose it.
It doesn’t learn or get better at understanding your personal handwriting, it’s just been trained on an incredibly wide rang of hand writing samples. And, as someone who’s typed for so long I can barely fill out a cheque any more, it’s been identifying my writing amazingly well so far.
For things humans don’t typically write, but may write on an iPad, things like URLs, Apple even created machine learning models to produce writing samples for the other machine learning models to learn from.
It’s just machine learning all the way down in the most brilliant, terrifying way imaginable.
Because the iPad can identify your hand writing, you can now select it the same way you’ve always been selecting typing text. Just double tap and then you can move them change the color, even copy them and paste them as hand writing or as typed text.
And, if what you write triggers a data detector, like a phone number, email address, physical address, or web address it’ll even be turned into links so you can tap on them to go to FaceTime, Mail, Maps, and Safari. It’s great.
There’s a new shortcuts palette so, when you’re writing and drawing, you don’t have to put your Pencil down just to do brief, other actions on the iPad.
Just tap the pallets, then tap an action, and the actions vary by app so you almost always find exactly what you need.
Then there’s scribble.
Instead of just understanding hand-writing as if it was typed text, Scribble turns hand-writing into typed text.
It’s designed for text fields that expect you to type, but lets you subvert those expectations, not in a Last Jedi way, but in a way that gives everyone what they want. Go ahead, at me. I got The Mandalorian.
But, basically, you get to write with the Pencil and the text field gets the typed out result. As long as you start in the field, your text will go into the field.
In addition to generating typed text, you can also use scribble to edit it.
You can circle a word to select it and, if a word offends you, you can take up your pencil and scratch it out to delete and end it.
iPadOS 14 To Be Continued…
iPadOS 14 will continue in developer and public beta until this fall when it should go into general release for everyone.
There are rumors going around, because their are always rumors going around, that Apple is going to kill the Lightning port on the iPhone. Not to replace it with USB-C, no, but just to watch all the wires die.
Now, it probably won’t be with any of the iPhone 12 models released this year. And the entire industry is moving that way, not just Apple. But why?