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iOS 15 Safari — Apple’s Fixing it! (Feat. Gruber)

At WWDC 2021, Apple unveiled new interface designs for Safari on Mac, iPad, and iPhone. They're all radical but none as in-your-face radical as the iOS 15 version for the iPhone, which pulls the address bar to the bottom and hides a ton of controls behind a menu-hamburger button.

And Daring Fireball's John Gruber and I have thoughts!

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iPhone 12 MagSafe Battery Pack is Here!

Apple has just announced the new MagSafe Battery Pack for iPhone 12... all the iPhones 12 — iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 12 Pro Max. It's like the previous Smart Battery Case but, without the case. Yeah, just the hump!

Apple has just announced a MagSafe Battery Pack. It's $99 and it works with the full range of iPhone 12 products. That means the iPhone 12, iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 12 Pro Max. Just one MagSafe Battery Pack to charge and rule them all. And yes, I will get my hands on it for review as soon as is inhumanly possible. So make sure you hit that subscribe button so you see it the second it goes live.

And yes, absolutely totally sure, iPhone 12 Pro Max users might be just laughing at this saying they've got their hump already built in. But iPhone 12 mini users might still be loving their baby phone on the daily, but might want to really, really take a look at the MagSafe Battery Pack to extend that into the whole daily, the nightly. Now, because it's an Apple battery pack, you're immediately gonna see a lot of criticism saying it is low capacity and high price. Because that has traditionally been the knock on Apple's previous Smart battery cases. You'd see them just get trounced in articles, even first looks.

And then a couple months later, you'd see it's the only thing even those tech reviewers were using at CES or other trade shows. And the reason for that is Apple doesn't focus on raw capacity. They focus on the efficiency. There's a lot of things that are counterintuitive about battery pack technology. For one thing, batteries are terrible for radio frequencies. They block them. So a lot of traditional battery cases back in the day would actually prevent the signal from getting out, forcing the radio to power up, thereby wasting a lot of the charge you were busy trying to give them. Also, they would tend to put the iPhone into plug-in mode. You know, when it thinks that it's actually on a cable in a wall. And then it just loses all its mobile restrictions. All the networking activity starts ramping up, it starts updating things. It starts again consuming much more power than normal. So it's not taking full advantage of the charge you are trying to give it. That's something that some other companies sometimes ignore, going for the more brute force, maximum capacity, absolute unit approach, which, you know, some people appreciate.

Apple has been very good about engineering around a lot of those concerns. You know, they just wanted to get as much casing out of the way as possible. And that led to that giant hump. And now this is just that giant hump. It is the pokey evolution, the final form of Apple's slap on battery technology, but now they don't even need that case anymore because it's using MagSafe. Now there are some drawbacks to that, obvious drawbacks to that, One is it won't stay on as securely as a case will, it will only stay on as securely as the MagSafe battery allows. And if you've used other MagSafe products then you'll know sometimes that's really good and sometimes it feels like it's moving around in your pocket. Remains to be seen how well the MagSafe specifically stays on, but it's something to certainly keep an eye on.

The other thing is because it's charging wirelessly and not going through the lightning port, it's limited to 15 Watts currently for Apple's iPhones. Now it does have an independent lightning port on it, all of its own. So you can plug in your iPhone as you would normally while you're using the MagSafe Battery Pack, but you can also plug in any other accessory without any interference. You know, plug into wired CarPlay or hard-line sync to your Mac. You can also plug directly through lightning into the MagSafe Battery Pack. And that means you'll be charging the battery pack, which will then be wirelessly charging your iPhone. And depending on the power brick you're using, if you're using one of the new 20 watt Apple Charging Bricks, it'll charge the MagSafe unit much faster. And it'll do what Apple's previously done with battery packs, and that is move the charge between the battery itself and the device. It'll tend to prioritize the device, especially at the beginning so that you can get back up and using it without any worries.

Even if you have to take off the case as fast as possible, and then it'll start shifting power to the case so you have that reserve built up. Those are the sorts of things that really, really appeal to Apple and their sensibilities. So if those are also appealing to you and your sensibilities, then you might want to check out Apple's MagSafe Battery Pack. $99, you can order it now and if you want to learn more about the iPhone 12 or MagSafe, check out these videos.

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M1X vs M2X Macs — Differences Explained!

Why would Apple put an M1X into the MacBook Pro and iMac Pro, if M2 is just around the corner? Why not just wait and use M2X? Well, that's the topic for my column this week on iMore:

https://www.imore.com/m1x-vs-m2x-what-should-apple-put-next-macbook-pro

Numbers and letters

If Apple sticks the naming conventions they've been using for… the last decade of silicon, then the number on the chip means the generation of the silicon, and whether or not it has an X grafted on the end means whether or not it has extra cores and other features grafted onto the package inside. That's it, that's all… Kinda.

I'll get to M2X in an intel TDP hot minute, but it's a little more complicated than that. Why? Because Apple is currently on the A14 in terms of silicon generation, and yet, instead of using M14 for the exact same silicon generation on the Mac, they decide to restart the numbering with 1. M1.

Even though A14 and M1 have the same Icestorm efficiency cores, Firestorm performance cores, and no such cool codenamed graphics and neural engine cores. The M1 just has more of the eCores and pCores than the A14. Along with bigger memory options, as well as thunderbolt controllers and Mac-specific IP for virtualization and x86 emulation. Because both the letters and numbers are different, people either don't realize or keep Momento'ing — Dory'ing — that A14 and M1 are the same generation. Why you even see people… and publications… wondering out loud about an M1 iPhone. As redundant as that would be.

Maybe, in another, simpler timeline — the Alligator Loki or Frog Thor of timelines — Apple would have stuck with calling the M1 the A14X because the pattern is so similar to the previous A12 for iPhone, A12X for iPad Pro, A10 for iPhone, A10X for iPad Pro. But we don't live in that timeline. That timeline was pruned. So, we're stuck with A14 and M1.

Although... that does save the X for an even more X-tra M1X if Apple decides to stay with the current naming scheme.

Scaling the silicon

Time was Apple only needed the iPhone and the iPad Pro version of any particular generation of custom silicon. The aforementioned A10 and A10X, or A12 and A12X. And yes, they were used in the iPad Air and Apple TV as well, but I'm really trying to keep this simple.

Nowadays, Apple needs the iPhone, iPad Pro slash low-power Mac, and high-performance Pro Mac version of this particular generation of custom silicon. A14, M1, and presumably, M1X. And, who knows, maybe an even higher-end Pro Mac-as-in-Mac-Pro version at some point as well… but, yes, simple!

In other words, A14 for iPhone, M1 for iPad Pro and MacBook Air, Mac mini, etc. M1X for 16-inch MacBook Pro, iMac Pro, etc.

If it helps, think of it in old school Intel parlance — A14 would be like current generation Ice Lake i3, M1 like Ice Lake i5, and M1X like Ice Lake i7… just… with way better performance efficiency across the line.

Timelines

So, now we get to where the next round of confusion is coming from — 2021 is half over already, and we still haven't seen any M1X Pro-level Macs. Which also means fall is just around the corner, which means new iPhones are coming, which means a new Apple silicon generation is coming with them. The A15.

That's led some people to say it's too late. Apple can't announce an M1X or anything else based on A14 generation silicon. Not any more. They done. Which… maybe? But certainly not definitely.

Apple announced the A14 in September and shipped it in October of this year. They didn't announce and ship the M1 until November and still announced M1 products in April of this year.

Now, some years, Apple only makes the iPhone version of a silicon generation. There was an A10 and A10X, and A12 and A12X, but there was no A11X or A13X. The closest we got to the latter was an A12Z, with all its graphics cores fully operational and a few other tweaks.

And Apple announced that A12Z for the iPad Pro in March of 2020, almost 6 months after announcing the A13 for the iPhone 11. And the iPad Pro stuck with the A12Z until it was replaced by the M1 in April of 2021, almost 6 months after Apple announced the A14 for the iPhone 12 and iPad Air.

Both times, for six months — six long months — the iPhone and even iPad Air had newer generation silicon and better single-core performance than the iPad Pro. And Apple had a grand total of zero-fs to give, zero, fresh out.

Because the iPad Pros still had much, much better multicore performance, because they were still much, much more massively multicore. Because of that X, as in extra core architecture. Or Z, you know, just go with me here.

M1X vs. M2X

So, for the sake of argument, let's say Apple decides to keep the M-series on pace with the A-series, with new releases every year, on the year, and after the A15, Apple announces an M2 on the same generation silicon.

Slightly better process, 20% or so better performance balanced by 20% or so better efficiency, maybe quite a bit more for graphics, and maybe on the ARMv9 instruction set architecture, even though ARM-v9 mostly just tries to emulate and give to other licensees most of what Apple's already been doing for the last few years. But maybe we get a nice vector boost anyway.

First, M2 would almost certainly be an ultra-low-power chip, like M1, destined for the iPad Pro and MacBook Air, like M1. Second, rumor has it we're not getting that next iPad Pro and MacBook Air until next year anyway. Which means we won't be getting M2X until then either, if even then. Given how long we've had M1 for without M1X.

And, again, in old school-Intel parlance — A15 would be like next-generation Tiger Lake i3, M2 like Tiger Lake i5, and M2X like Tiger Lake i7… just… still with way better performance efficiency across the line.

And that timeline still leaves… plenty of time for M1X MacBook Pros, maybe even M1X Mac mini Pros, and stretch goal, M1X iMac Pros this fall, even thereafter.

What's in a name?

Sure, if Apple goes back to September for iPhones and October for Macs, we could have A15 and better single-core perf in our phones than M1X provides in our Pro-level Macs. Which, yes… awkward, but nothing that hasn't happened before with our Pro-level iPads.

The alternatives, the… multiverse of madness… possibilities include Apple waiting and going M2X for the Pro Macs instead, though I really don't want to wait that long, you? Or using a name like X1 instead of M1X to make comparisons more… Apples to Apple's other Apples. But that doesn't change the actual silicon inside.

Apple could use M2 as the name M1X, I guess, to make the high-performance version a higher-number, but then what do they call the next-generation ultra-low power version, M3, which just re-creates the same problem further down the road. Or… call it M1S instead, to kick it even further down the road?

Apple could also tune for higher frequencies and performance in M1X than the ultra-efficiency-focused A15 or M2 would ever allow. Which is what I'm personally hoping for, only partially so that I don't have to make this exact same video again after they're announced.

Missing the SoC for the single-core

All of that not only misses the point entirely; it misses the SoC for the single-core: An iPhone, even an iPad Pro or MacBook Air, will just never have the sheer number of cores, ports, memory, or storage, or the display size, of a Pro-level Mac. And, regardless, every year, there'll be at least one, maybe several, faster Macs.

Apple has their roadmap, based on the availability of leading-edge — hell, bleeding-edge nodes — and the… maybe lack of availability of trailing edge nodes, so it's going to be challenging to predict when exactly everything is going to hit. Maybe including for them.

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Apple Fall 2021 Events Preview — iPhone 13, M1X Macs, Watch 7, More!

New iPhones. New Macs. Pro Macs! Resigned Pro Macs! New iPads. New Watches. Redesigned Watches. Maybe new AirPods. HomePods! Great thing about Apple is that no matter how dreary dull the summer feels, we’re only ever one good morning away from new products. We’re all just waiting for Tim to put sneaker back on stage and show us what’s next for 2021!

So far, so… AirTags, Rainbow iMacs, 4K60 Apple TV, and M1 iPads Pro. Now hit subscribe, so we can get into all the sizzling hot fall action because… I mean, Apple has released products in the Summer… In 2020 we got the 27-inch iMac spec bump. In 2019 we got a MacBooks Air and 13-inch MacBooks Pro spec bump. And in 2018 we got the 13- and 15-inch MacBooks Pro spec bump.

But Apple silicon just doesn’t bump its specs… or spec its bumps the way. It doesn’t follow the same wacky update schedule — or lack thereof — as Intel, and with major redesigns reportedly attached, I just don’t think we’ll be seeing any M1X MacBooks Pro or iMacs dumped in press releases this month or next.

About the only thing I could see between now and never is an Intel Mac Pro update. Latest generation Xeon and Big Navi for those that just really want to ride x86 off into the sunset. But that’s about it. And the longer it takes, the less likely it becomes.

Now, because 2021 is… the 2020 Jr. of years, timelines could move around faster than Lokis in a Nexus event, and we could once again get iPhones in October and Macs in November, or whatever… whenever… but just to keep things simple, we’ll just pretend the world has stopped ending by then, cool?

So… September. Every year but last year, for almost a decade now, we’ve gotten new iPhones. For almost half a decade, new Apple Watches to go with them. And for the last couple of years, new entry-level iPads as well.

This year, that means iPhone 12s or iPhone 13 or iPhone Mother of Dragons or whatever Apple decides to call their next pocket computer. It’ll supposedly once again be coming in mini, regular, pro, and max sizes. With better cameras, ProMotion displays, A15 chipsets, a few new colors, same old Lightning connector… you all know all the rumors by now! And if not, link in the description.

If AirPods 3 or AirPods Pro 2 are ready, we should see those as well. Because it’s been a minute! Like damn. The regular AirPods with more Pro-style designs, just no pro-style ANC, and the Pros… with more Studio Buds like designs and even better sensors? Leaker magic 8-ball says still unclear!

Apple Watch Series 7 might be getting a new, retro-future chic look to match Apple’s latest, more squared off design language. Probably no blood sugar monitor yet, though. That chips… complicated! Always coming but just never quite arriving. But, casing color and material remixes are always on the table.

The next iPad nothing should be the previous iPad Air, so no new design, but an again slightly bigger display. Even odds on whether or not it stays laminated at that price point though.

Then… October. Typically that’s for new Macs and the higher-end iPads. But we’ve already gotten the new M1 Pros, and would it were not so, Apple doesn’t usually update the Air every year on the year. But… but the iPad mini is rumored to finally be getting its big… small… makeover this year, becoming a sort of iPad Air mini. Same size, less bezel, more screen, and Touch ID in the power button. Yes please!

As for Macs, well, Apple said a two-year transition starting at WWDC 2020, and the first year got us all the new M1 ultra-low power variants, but none of the M1X ultra-high performance ones.

And if you’re still confused about M1 vs. M1X vs. M2, allow me to translate into old-school Intel lingo for you: M1 would be like current generation Canon Lake i5, and M1X would be like Canon Lake i9. Then M2 would be like next generation Tiger Lake i5, and M2X would be like Tiger Lake i9… just with way, way, way better performance efficiency across the line…

So, what we’re still waiting on is those higher-end, redesigned 14-inch and 16-inch M1X MacBooks Pro, along with the also rumored, also higher-end, also redesigned Mac mini Pro and 32-inch iMac Pro. And, of course, the one Mac Pro to rule them all.

The M1X MacBooks Pro, which might just might come with mini-LED XDR displays, and MagSafe, HDMI, and SDXC ports, have been leaking like it’s hot… for what feels like forever at this point, but they really do seem to be next in line. Maybe alongside that more-ported Mac mini Pro. The M1X iMac Pro sounds like it might take a little bit longer, so if not October or November, then maybe 2022… which is also when the Mac Pro is expected to land, capping off the Apple Silicon transition.

There are a few other wild cards out there as well, like iPhone SE Plus or iPhone SE 3, a more affordable Apple HDR display, a new HomePod biggie or TheaterPod Apple TV hybrid, or HomePad iPad hybrid, a higher end Apple TV for gaming, and it’s eventual successor, Apple VR. But those all sound less like 2021 and more like 2022 projects as well

But who knows? If there’s a November episode of the Apple Events show scheduled for this year, maybe Apple will use it less to talk about what’s next, and more to talk about what’s really all new?

Will these events be pre-recorded, or canned, like they’ve been for the last year, or will Apple will start moving back to live-and-in-person events as soon as practically possible? … VAMP

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Why do MacBook Webcams Suck? (Reacting to Linus Tech Tips)

Linus Tech Tips (née Sebastien) just posted a really great video on why PC laptop webcams still suck oh so very much. But that’s by no means limited to PC Laptops. I’ve been complaining about MacBook webcams being sucktastic for years now as well. Which is really hard to take, especially from Apple, who makes some of the best mobile cameras, and most expensive laptops, in the business. So, why?

Linus goes over cost, which is never not an issue but isn’t as big an issue with Apple’s margins. And sensor size, which is an increasing issue on near-zero bezel PC laptops but again isn’t as big an issue with Apple’s still somewhat beefy bezels on even the already screen stretched 16-inch MacBook Pro. Also, Windows Hello facial biometrics, which requires extra or combined IR cameras, but since we still don’t have Face ID on the Mac, that’s just a non-factor for us.

So, again, why? What leaves MacBooks stuck with 720p as in potato webcams so always?

Well, in addition to the sensor, you need a lens system on top of it. And lenses… they crave depth. It’s why actual camera lenses are so… depthy. Like cannon depthy. Both kinds of canons! It’s why the iPhone cameras demand a bump and still project a good bump and a half beyond them, and even the selfie-cam, the closest analog to the Mac’s webcam, demands a notch to clear most everything else out from behind it. Depth tasks them… it tasks them and they will have it!

But the current iPhone is 7.4mm thin, the current 12.9-inch iPad Pro is 6.4mm thin, 5.9mm for the 11-inch. But even that is just way, way, thicker than the current MacBook lids.

The camera craves depth and the lid, it offers none.

Now, more recent iMacs have gotten more better 1080p webcams, including the new, iPad-thin M1 iMac. But the new M1 iMac only looks iPad-thin at a distance. Close up, it’s actually thicker than an iPad, thicker even than an iPhone 12. By half.

The other problem was, up until recently, very few people seemed to really, truly care about webcams on a laptop the way they do on a phone. I mean, mess with our selfies, we’ll cut you. But on a laptop, we’ll either just make do, or make like a streamer and buy external camera do. If we really have to. Then 2020 happened, and we all suddenly really had to. We all really, truly had to care. Desperately. And they were all out of stock or price gouged, everywhere, always. So, we turned our lidless ire, wreathed in pain, at the laptop makers. And they kinda had to start caring too.

One of the last things Linus touches on is computational photography, or rather the lack of it on PC laptop webcams when compared to phone cameras like Apple’s or Google’s. But that’s one area that Apple has begun to focus on. Computationally. The M1 is basically a Hulked out version of the A14, the chipset in the iPhone 12. They share the same image signal processor, or ISP, and 16-core Apple Neural Engine, or ANE. Which means M1 Macs can do the same kind of computational enhancements, including frame fusion for extended dynamic range, noise reduction, even portrait mode. And they work… pretty damn well for webcams, especially with the much bigger, better M1 iMac optics.

So, Apple’s basically already proven all they really need to do to give us MacBook webcams that don’t suck is to give us MacBook camera sensors that don’t suck by figuring out how to engineer them into lids that are so thin they’re pretty much forcing them to still suck.

Or, you know, give us a camera bump already.

For a deeper look at what’s coming next for all the MacBooks, see my previews right here, or check out this other video YouTube thinks you may just like better. It’s me vs. the algorithm, so let me know which one you choose and I’ll see you in that next video!

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Why Steve Jobs Leaked the Mac Codenames

The original Mac OS X beta, way back in 2001, a Steve Odessy, was code-named Kodiak, after the Alaskan brown bear. After that, Apple switched Mac OS X codenames to the big cats, starting with 10.0 Cheetah and 10.1 Puma. But then… a funny thing happened on the way to the keynote stage. Steve Jobs decided to use the private codename… as a public marketing name. Instead of OS X 10.2, he oh so proudly proclaimed OS X Jaguar. Technically jag-wire! But, why?

See, for hardware projects, Apple typically uses dry letter and number strings. Kinda like Sony does for their actual product names. The original iPhone was M68, the original iPad was K48, the original Watches, N27 and N28, you get the idea.

For overall experiences and software projects, though, Apple goes full on codename. And I love it. Like, Top Gun call signs meets X-Men aliases. ALL CAPS love it. The Intel Mac was Marklar, after the South Park aliens, Swift Playgrounds was Serenity, but not Firefly or Caldwell, and CarPlay was Stark… after Tony… You get it!

And people inside Apple live on those codenames. So much so, they might not even know, care, or realize what the release version names are, because by then they’re already off and onto other, newer projects with shiny new codenames. Literally living a couple years in the future.

So, how did something so always private become so uniquely public, but just for macOS? Well, hit subscribe and buckle up.

Because, after the beta bear, Apple switched Mac OS X codenames to the big cats, starting with 10.0 Cheetah and 10.1 Puma. But then… a funny thing happened on the way to the keynote stage. Steve Jobs decided to use the private codename… as a public marketing name. Instead of OS X 10.2, he oh so proudly proclaimed OS X Jaguar. Technically jag-wire! Not just for Apple internal but for the whole entire world… external. For everyone. It was just way cooler sounding. Especially compared to Windows XP. And after nearly losing the company before buying NeXT and getting Steve Jobs back, well, Apple could do with a little cool. Or a lot.

But it did create a problem. At Apple, there’s no such thing as a public codename. So, with the big cats burned, the software engineering organization, in the midst of transitioning from the leadership of Avie Tevanian to Bertrand Serlet, had to come up with a whole new theme. And, of course, they turned to wine.

10.3 became Pinot in private, Panther in public. The PowerPC version of 10.4 was Merlot and the first public Intel version, Chardonnay. But both were branded as Tiger.

10.5 Chablis became Leopard. But then… then came 10.6 Snow Leopard. Which never had a wine codename. It was always just Snow Leopard. Because it was always just meant to be a refinement of Leopard. It didn’t have no new features, it had Grand Central. ActiveSync, and a ton of real under-the-hood type stuff. Just very few user-facing new features. And Steve Jobs didn’t like the idea of trying to sell that on stage, not at all. So, Apple marketing decided to slice that Gordian knot by leaning in, all the way in, and it became the… keynote mic drop of “no new features”. The myth was made and now every year we have people asking for another Snow Leopard year, even though those kinds of under-the-hood updates are exactly the ones that sometimes end up biting all of us right in the apps. But, whatever. That’s how myths work.

10.7 Barolo brought the wine back and became Lion, the king of the OS X jungle, and 10.8 Zinfandel, Mountain Lion.

With 10.9 Cabernet, though, Apple looked at what was left of the big cats, saw they weren’t so much with the big any more, and promptly decided to retire the brand… Sorry Lynx. So sorry Ocelot. And the crack marketing team, as current software engineering head Craig Federighi loves to call them, switched things up to California landmarks, and OS X Mavericks. Almost… almost like Top Gun call sign Maverick! No Iceman X-Men cross-over next, though. 10.10 Syrah became Yosemite.

Then, with OS X 10.11, the Mac team changed direction, the wine retired to a vineyard, because of course it did, and the new program management at Apple decided to switch… to Apples. Literal. Garden of eden. Sir Issac newton. Pie and crumble. How do you like them Apples. Starting with Gala, as in Royal. Released as El Capitan.

The crack marketing team wasn’t going to be up-staged… or out-switched though, so with 10.12 they decided to escalate again. Not by going with OS X Weed as Craig so delightfully dad joked. But by changing the name of the operating system itself, from OS X to macOS. And so Fuji became macOS Sierra.

10.13 Lobo… not Lobo… Lobo. Made Sierra High… High Sierra.

But then Apple changed things up again, this time across the codename board, dropping the OS specific themes and adopting a… sign-of-the-darkest-timeline theme for all their operating systems. iOS was Peace. WatchOS was Glory. tvOS was Hope. And macOS 10.14 — that was Liberty. But… it got released as Mojave, because dark mode.

10.15 Jazz didn’t continue the zoom out, zoom in pattern, didn’t go with Death Valley or anything like that. Much to my personal emo goth chagrin. It went with the much cheerier Catalina instead.

Then came the most symbolic change in the history of the modern Mac. One they didn’t make for Intel transition — nope — but absolutely did for the Apple silicon one — they finally took macOS to 11. And it was Golden. Not Golden Delicious. GoldenGate. Which, maybe they should have used for the marketing name too? But, wherever, bygones, they called it Sur, Big Sur.

And now Apple is letting the macOS fully loose. No more incremental versioning. No… 11.1. Built that, shipped it last year. Now it’s a full version each year, just like iOS and watchOS and every other OS has been getting… every year.

Including this year, in beta now and going into general release this fall. macOS 12. Star. Monterey.

And a full rundown on that, see my preview right here, or check out this other video YouTube thinks you may just like better. It’s me vs. the algorithm, so let me know which one you choose and I’ll see you in that next video!

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The Most Expensive Apple Ecosystem

The ecosystem. It’s what everybody always talks about. What makes Apple products so damn sticky, competitors so hella jelly, regulators so silly salty, and customers just… so happy… if sometimes… straight jacket itchy?

Your AirPods automatically switch between all your other Apple devices, sometimes miraculously, others times… way too promiscuously.

Your Apple Watch unlocks your iPhone when you’re wearing a mask, or your Mac.. any time. Syncs your rings to Fitness+ on the Apple TV at workout time. Copies your Apple Pay off your iPhone so you can oh so easily tap to pay.

Your iPhone unlocks your Apple Watch, hands off a message to your iPad, a song to your HomePod mini, scans a document into your Mac. And soon, will be pushing a FaceTime movie over SharePlay to your Apple TV.

Your iPad copies and pastes a photo to your iPhone, or works as a Sidecar display for your Mac. Projects a 3D spatial audio with dynamic head tracking experience to your AirPods.

Your Mac does all the big editing and batch jobs, from photos to music to contacts to, soon, Shortcuts that all get synced back to all your other devices, all the time. And, soon, will act as an AirPlay target for your iPhone or iPad or other Mac, or will take control of your iPad or other Mac for a fully unified experience.

But… at what cost? What’s the buy in?

The ecosystem. The ecosystem. The ecosystem. It’s what everybody always talks about. What makes Apple products so damn sticky, competitors so hella jelly, regulators so silly salty, and customers just… so happy… if sometimes… straight jacket itchy?

You get an Apple device, create an ID, it works fine. You get another, log in, Bluetooth creates a secure pairing, direct Wi-Fi creates a fast connection, and then they’re working together. You add another, maybe another, and then you’re off and ecosysteming, child, and the more you add, the more you’re locked in… but the more you unlock as well.

Your AirPods automatically switch between all your other Apple devices, sometimes miraculously, others times… way too promiscuously.

Your Apple Watch unlocks your iPhone when you’re wearing a mask, or your Mac.. any time. Syncs your rings to Fitness+ on the Apple TV at workout time. Copies your Apple Pay off your iPhone so you can oh so easily tap to pay.

Your iPhone unlocks your Apple Watch, hands off a message to your iPad, a song to your HomePod mini, scans a document into your Mac. And soon, will be pushing a FaceTime movie over SharePlay to your Apple TV.

Your iPad copies and pastes a photo to your iPhone, or works as a Sidecar display for your Mac. Projects a 3D spatial audio with dynamic head tracking experience to your AirPods.

Your Mac does all the big editing and batch jobs, from photos to music to contacts to, soon, Shortcuts that all get synced back to all your other devices, all the time. And, soon, will act as an AirPlay target for your iPhone or iPad or other Mac, or will take control of your iPad or other Mac for a fully unified experience.

But… at what cost? What’s the buy in? If you’re new to Apple and just want to know how much, or how little, it takes to get a Nike-clad foot into the bead-blasted aluminum door, or if you know all about but have family or friends you’d rather have me explain it all to, I gotchu.

Good

Apple doesn’t typically make cheaper versions of their products the way other companies do. They don’t typically let you choose lower quality casing materials, less performant storage, lower binned chipsets, or adware subsidized experiences to lower the cost of entry. They’re a premium technology company, like a premium watch company or car company, and they charge premium prices. Love that or hate that, hate that you love that, or just love that you hate that — it is what it is. Kinda.

Apple does price drop, sometimes even repackage, previous versions of their products, sometimes for substantially lower premiums. And every once and a while, they even push out new products with paid-down technologies at much lower prices. Well, lower for Apple prices.

That’s the case with the new Beats Studio Buds. Really good active noise cancellation and transparency mode, all for $150, which less than any pair of AirPods. If you want actual AirPods, you can lose the ANC and interchangeable tips, pay a little more or a little more more for inductive charging. But Beats right now are the ones to beat.

You can get an Apple Watch Series 3, with all the basic fitness and notification features, for $200. It’s getting a little long in the bluetooth — the whole silicon stack, actually — which means it won’t be getting software updates for much longer — but if you don’t want to step up to the much more modern and capable Apple Watch SE, which starts at $280, the Series 3 is the cheapest way to at least step in.

The second-generation iPhone SE gives the all the power of the iPhone 11 in the body of the iPhone 8, starting at $400. That still makes it one of the most capable phones on the market, even if it has only a single camera and a battery that you more often than not might have to top up before the end of the day.

Year after year, the non-Air, non-Pro iPad — the… just iPad — remains one of the best deals in tech. And it just keeps getting better. Better-best deal in tech. Starting at $330, you don’t get the newer, fuller-screen design, or anything more than a… pedestrian camera system, but you do get one of the best tablets on the market with access to all the iPad apps, and options for keyboards and the Pencil.

The MacBook Air was once the best mainstream laptop in the industry. And now, with an Apple silicon M1 chipset, it arguably is that again. Starting at $1000, it’s ultra portable, utterly silent, and Intel smoking fast.

Better

Apple mostly uses higher-end products to introduce and pay down new technologies, and then pushes them down to the more popular, mainstream product lines. Mostly. When they do, it gives you almost as much for… almost as much. A little bit less. The trick is figuring out when good enough is good enough, and you’re saving some cash, and when just a bit more money will actually get you much more value — especially over the life of the product.

AirPods Pro will give you the ANC and silicon tips of the Beats, the sensors and inductive charging of the AirPods 2, and dynamic head tracking for spatial audio. All for $250.

The Apple Watch SE will get you a modern wrist computer starting at $280, more for a bigger case and… or for LTE. If you want all the features, though, including an always-on display, blood oxygen, and ECG, you’ll need to step up to the aluminum Apple Watch Series 6, starting at $400. Which, yeah, bit of a step.

The iPhone 11 is last year’s model, but starting at $500 it still packs a ton of performance and value. If you want the latest chipset, an OLED display, 5G, HDR, and MagSafe instead of regular old inductive charging, there’s this year’s model for that. The iPhone 12… starting at $830.

The new iPad Air has many of the features of the iPad Pro, but starting at $600. The bezels are little thicker so the display is a little smaller, it’s got LTE instead of 5G, and it doesn’t have as many cores, but each of the cores it does have is every bit as efficient and performant. If you want 5G and prefer Face ID to Touch ID, you can check out the 11-inch iPad Pro with the M1 chipset, starting at $800.

For the Mac, you have the new M1 MacBook Pro, which is the entry-level MacBook Pro with only 2 ports, but with even better battery life than the M1 MacBook Air, starting at $1300. If you’re less laptop and more desktop, there’s the new 24-inch M1 iMac, also starting at $1300 for two ports… and more… for more.

Best

If money is no object, if you have cash to spare, if whatever you buy is paid off by clients or studios, or the time bigger and faster saves you is worth more than its weight in gold — you know, ancient bitcoin — then the highest-end Apple products typically have the latest, greatest technology, sometimes for Apple, sometimes for the entire industry.

The AirPods Max will give you full over-the-ear immersion with all the computational bells and whistles — and, uncharacteristically for high-end Apple, a rainbow of colors — for $550.

You can go with the aluminum Apple Watch, starting at $400, but if you want to be — if you need to be — extra, you can go up to stainless steel or titanium, starting at $700, or flex all the way up to Hermes starting at $1230.

You can make your iPhone Pro, which gives you a telephoto camera, LiDAR Scanner, and more memory and storage, starting at $1000, or take it to the Max with a slightly better camera system, bitter OLED display, and longer battery life, starting at $1100.

If portability is the most important thing for you in an M1 iPad Pro, you can get the 11-inch model starting at $800, or a chunk more for 5G. If size matters, you can jump to the 12.9-inch model with HDR-capable mini-LED display, starting at $1100. Or more, much more, for additional storage or RAM, because that’s a thing now on the iPad Pro.

For the Mac… it gets complicated. There just aren’t any high-end, high-performance Apple Silicon Macs yet. The entire first year of the two year transition has been spent on ultra low power. So we have up to another year to wait. Which leaves us with Intel… for now. The 16-inch MacBook Pro starting at $2400 or the full-on Mac Pro starting at $6000 and going up… and up… and up. If… super big giant if… you can’t wait on Apple silicon.

Now, even if you want to complete your ecosystem bingo, you certainly don’t have to stick to all the products in one tier. You can mix and match to your heart’s, wallet’s and need’s content. That’s kinda what I’ve done with my own personal setup. But, long video already long, I’ll save that rundown for the Nebula cut, where I don’t have to worry about YouTube view durations or retention or views per viewer… or any of that stuff.

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Why Steve Jobs Hated the iPad mini

Steve Jobs didn’t want an iPad mini. He hated the idea. The original iPad was the perfect size and anything smaller just wouldn’t be usable. He made fun of the tiny Android tablets already on the market, literally saying you’d have to shave down your fingers just to hit the tap targets, and that all they could run was blown up phone apps. An unbelievably ironic statement for reasons I’ll get into in a future video.

So, he had Apple focus on making the iPad 2 faster, thinner, and lighter, the iPad 3 Retina, and the iPad 4… fixing the iPad 3.

But then something interesting happened...

Steve Jobs didn’t want an iPad mini. He hated the idea. The original iPad was the perfect size and anything smaller just wouldn’t be usable. He made fun of the tiny Android tablets already on the market, literally saying you’d have to shave down your fingers just to hit the tap targets, and that all they could run was blown up phone apps. An unbelievably ironic statement for reasons I’ll get into in a future video.

So, he had Apple focus on making the iPad 2 faster, thinner, and lighter, the iPad 3 Retina, and the iPad 4… fixing the iPad 3.

But then something interesting happened. In January of 2011, Apple’s head of services, Eddy Cue, read an article on GigaOm. It was by Kevin Toffle, and it was titled Why I Just Dumped the iPad (Hint: Size Matters)

In the article, Kevin laid out why he still very much liked the OG 9.7-inch iPad, but also why he sold it and got a 7-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab instead. Basically, it was a play on the now famous iPhone-line — the best camera is the one you have with you. For Kevin, the best tablet was the one he could have with him, constantly, in the back pocket of his non-skinny, non-hipster jeans. There were trade-offs, for sure, but, for him, convenience won.

So, Eddy Cue went out, got a Samsung Galaxy Tab, and started using it. He didn’t like Android, obviously, or web browsing for some reason, but he liked email, books, and social media. And he emailed then chief operating officer, Tim Cook, head of iPhone and iPad software, Scott Forstall, and head of marketing, Phil Schiller and told them as much. And he talked to Steve Jobs about it as well. Several times.

Now, the one thing most wanna-be Steves forget about Jobs is that he wasn’t a dictator. He had strong opinions but he also hired smart people and expected them to have strong opinions — and arguments — as well. To change his mind when they knew they were right. Because if they were ever wrong… well, that’d be on them.

It happened with iTunes on Windows and it happened again with the iPad mini. They convinced him there was a market for smaller tablets, but also a threat from them, and if anyone was going to cannibalize the iPad with a smaller tablet, it was going to be Apple, dammit.

Then, as was so often the case, when Steve Jobs changed his mind, he changed it hard. Like Fast chase scene 180 furious spin hard. Going from not wanting and iPad mini to wanting it immediately. The fastest turn around of any new Apple hardware product at the time.

Sadly, Steve Jobs passed away in October of 2011, right after the introduction of the iPhone 4s. But the iPad mini was locked.. FTLs all spun up and go for jump.

Except… except for what could have been an almost insurmountable obstacle for Henri Lamiraux’s software team at the time. They’d done a marathon of sprints to get the original iPhone up and running for 2007, the App Store for 2008, the iPad for 2010, and the idea of having to make another entirely new interface size for 2012… it was a lot.

But, as luck would have it — or, more precisely, the serendipity that comes from smart, sustainable, scalable software decisions over time — they figured out that if they made it slightly bigger — 7.9-inches — they could scale the existing 9.7-inch iPad interface down to iPhone density, and it would still be usable. The bigger iPad-sized UI elements and touch targets just became smaller iPhone-sized UI elements and touch targets. That also meant all of the existing iPad apps, at least the ones that used Apple’s UIKit frameworks or respected the human interface guidelines for the iPad, would just work on the iPad mini. Giving it a huge advantage over tiny Android tablets and their still blown up phone apps.

That effectively flattened the software obstacles and it was go for launch. Well, race for launch, in typical Apple fashion at the time.

They couldn’t do a Retina display, because for chassis and cost reasons it was on second generation Apple A5 silicon, and the iPad 4 was only able to do it well with that many pixels with an A6X, but they’d get there by version 2. They could do a new, sleeker industrial design language though, the one that would only come to the regular iPad the following year with the first Air.

So, on October 23, 2012, at the California Theater in San Jose, Phil Schiller took to the stage and announced it — the iPad mini. Everything great about the original, with a shave and a haircut, all Pym-particled down in size. The most convenient iPad ever.

And, especially in the years before Apple started making big and bigger iPhones, they sold just a ton of smaller iPads.

And now, rumor has it, Apple is revving up their engines for the biggest iPad mini update ever. Maybe not an iPad Pro Pro, but… poetically, and iPad Air mini. I’ve got all the details for you right here, right now, so give it a click and I’ll see you in the next video.

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Intel Pro Mac Now or Keep Waiting on M1X?

M1 let Apple take the existing MacBook Air chassis and… rip out the fan, let the Mac mini run on max… basically forever, and make an iMac almost as thin as an iPad. But those are all ultra-low power implementations of Apple silicon. The ones that put the efficiency in performance efficiency. One year later, and we still don’t have any ultra-high power implementations. Any that put the performance first. Also, any with bigger displays, more ports, and higher memory and storage configs.

If you want a pro Mac, you still have to buy an Intel Mac… for now, or keep waiting for an M1X, probably until this fall at the earliest, next summer at the latest. So... should you keep waiting?

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watchOS 8 Beta — Apple Watch Upgrade!

Photo Face. Photo Grid. Photo Share. Smarter Home. Status screen. Home Key. Car Key. Office Key. Hotel Key. All your IDs. Eventually. Super scribble. Editing schemes. Easy JIF GIF memes. Focus. Mindfulness. Respiratory rate. Health Trends. Tai Chi and Pilates bends. More always on. Better Contacts. Amazing Assistive Touch. And yes, Multiple timers. And more! It’s the watchOS 8 Public Beta. It supports every Apple Watch going back to the Series 3 and SE. You can install it now, but beta means beta, especially on the watch, so think twice, and then strap yourself in. Get it? (Sorry…!)

Portrait Watch Face

Always on, which makes the watch work… as a watch, now works well beyond the watch. On all sorts of apps, including third-party apps!

Some years, Apple has a bevy of new Watch faces for us. This year, they’re focusing on one main one — the Portraits Watch Face. It uses the depthy data from portrait mode photos shot on your iPhone to layer the time in between the subject and the background. It’s a cool effect, and given the popularity of the OG photo face, something a lot of people will love… to showcase their loves… significant other, child, maybe… pet?

I’m still waiting for a Photo variant of the Infographic face though. Basically, something I can customize the hell out of, so I can make my own Superman watch, or whatever, without giving up on all the complications I need. And yes, I will be asking for this every year until I get it. Because that’s what works.

Photos

There’s a new Photos app on the Watch. In addition to the traditional synced photos, you can also see memories and featured photos. Memories are even shown off in a new mosaic grid.

And if any of them catch your eye… or heart… you can easily share them over Messages or Email. Which is something I’ve ended up doing every damn day on the iPhone. So, I’m super happy to have it right on the Watch now as well.

Workouts

Pilates is making it’s way into Apple Watch workouts this year… and so is Tai Chi. And Apple seems to be doing this right, because the workout is fine for my mom doing her Yangjia Taijiquan movements, all slow and steady, but also for me getting my much more ballistic Chenjia on. Well done!

Messages

There’s a new, hybrid message composition board on the Watch that lets you switch between Scribble, dictation, and emoji. You can even edit dictations now by using the Digital Crown to move the cursor point. Yes, the Apple Watch got editing before ducking Twitter.

There’s a new Contacts app, so it’’s easier to browse, add to, even edit your connections right on your Watch. And yes please, because every step towards a fully independent Watch is a good one.

And you can also add the ultimate in high density inter-human communications, the final form of hieroglyphics and pictographic — JIF/GIFs and memes. Just enter a hashtag image and select from whatever’s trending.

Tim smiling at M1 iPad do jif gif

Actually, the G is silent…

Mindfullness

The new Mindfulness app on the Apple Watch doesn’t so much replace the previous Breathing app as it does… next level it.

The breathing part is more holistic now, bringing the mind and body together through Focus, which works the coolness and heat of your respiration in attentive cycle. Center, where you ground yourself through your belly, or Dan Tien in Taiji and Qigong parlance. And connect, where you concentrate on your chest and heart as you inhale and exhale.

And if you’re worried about forgetting anything while you’re breathing, you can now set multiple timers to remind you. Yes, the Apple Watch also got to multiple timers before the iPhone. Be mindful of that for next year, iOS!

Then there’s Reflect, which is… next next level. It’s more meditation meets positive affirmation meets… self discovery. You’re presented with a short, random concept for reflection and an animation to help you visualize at the same time.

It doesn’t just give you options, it gives you a gateway into regulating your feelings, your stress levels, your ability to deal with the world.

You can also quickly and easily set one of the new Focus Modes on your Watch, like Personal or Work, and it’ll propagate to your other devices. So, basically, shields up whenever you want.

I think it’s terrific Apple’s starting to help with mental health as well as physical and I can’t wait to see how far they can take this.

Trends

There’s also assistive touch, the mind-blowing, totally sci-fi new accessibility feature, which Apple pre-announced just before watchOS 8, and I covered in a previous video. Link in the description.

Also new in health are trends. That’s for new features like respiratory rate in sleep and walking steadiness — which leans on the iPhone sensors to try and prevent you needing the fall detection of the Apple Watch sensors.

Apple is just applying on-device trend analysis on all the health-related data your Watch and iPhone are collecting, so it can surface important changes, and give you and your doctor the best, most timely information possible.

IDs

The Apple Watch is getting Keys and IDs, just like the iPhone. I covered the basics in the iOS 15 beta video, link in the description, but I’m most looking forward to all of them on the Apple Watch. The ability to tap and go — or tap and enter — from your wrist just beats the pants pocket off of having to fish out and handle it on the phone.

Home

Beyond Home keys, there’s also a much improved Home app. Which, we’ve needed for a while. Apple nailed the Dick Tracy years ago, so now it’s all about the Tony Stark.

You get a current status board right at the top, accessories and scenes auto-sorted by relevancy, a dedicated area for any and all cameras, as well as a place for favorite rooms, accessories, and scenes.

You watch will also suggest relevant additional actions when a trigger occurs, even if they’re not part of an existing automation, like if the doorbell rings, unlocking the door and turning on the entrance lights.

Because the Watch display is so small, input so constrained, and interactions so brief, Apple is leaning on machine lifting to so just so much of the heavy lifting here.