Custom Silicon Macs will Usher in the Next Generation of Creative Professionals.

On November 10th, Apple officially unveiled it’s custom silicon Mac computers. For nearly a decade, Apple has been dependent on the slow progression of Intel chipsets. Like other PC makers, Apple has designed their laptops and workstations around Intel’s specifications. Apple’s dependence on Intel timelines bottlenecked its ability to innovate and fully customize the macOS experience. Apple has designed it’s custom chips for it’s iOS devices for years now, and now that the technology is mature, it was finally time to bring this technology to the Mac.

The chipset that will be making its way to Macs this year is the M1. The M1 uses a 5mn process and utilizes eight cores. Four of those eight cores are high-performance cores, and the other four and efficiency cores. The chips will intelligently swap between the high performance and efficiency cores on the fly for specific tasks to maximize these new machines’ battery life and performance.

The performance and efficiency of these chips are the main stories here. Apple is introducing these chips into a new MacBook Air, a MacBook Pro, and a Mac Mini. Apple claims their MacBooks will receive drastically improved battery life and unparalleled performance, especially for optimized apps to work with the M1 chip.

The power of Apple’s chips isn’t a mystery. Devices like the iPad Pro and iPhone have continually blown away the competition in performance and streamlining workflows. Some creative professionals use the iPad Pro exclusively to edit high-resolution videos in record time.

Though I believe Apple’s claims regarding performance and battery life, I would hesitate for a creative professional to rush out and purchase Apple’s latest offering. I would recommend letting reviewers test these machines, run them through their paces, and see how quickly compatibility and optimization come for apps they may depend on.

Apple is continuing to be competitive with their pricing for their new devices. The MacBook Air still starts at a reasonable $999 with 256GB of storage to start. The Mac Mini starts at a very competitive $699, meaning the bar for entry for capable Mac desktops is the lowest its ever been.

These new Macs are going to usher in the latest generation of creative professionals. The substantial performance gains, unified coding experience across macOS and iOS, and reasonable price points will encourage first-time Mac buyers and seasoned professions to invest in Apple’s new hardware within the next few years. Apple silicon is going to be huge, and custom silicon will be the future of computing. Luckily, Apple has a massive head start.

Apple Has Set the Stage to Eliminate the Charging Port

This week Apple held its virtual October event highlighting its latest iPhone models. For the first time, Apple has revealed 4 iPhone models for its annual line up. Apple CEO Tim Cook said, “the iPhone 12 begins a new era for the smartphone. Many might assume Cook was referring to 5G connectivity with that statement, and while I agree 5G is part of the equation, I believe Cook’s vision for the future of the iPhone is much more ambitious. 

The iPhone 12 series has numerous new features and improvements over last year’s iPhone 11 series of phones. For one, all of the iPhones in Apple’s lineup are equipped with OLED displays. Significant camera improvements make their way across all of the new iPhones. However, only the 12 pro series of iPhones will receive the new Lidar camera sensor, which will be used for 3D Mapping for improved AR and even faster autofocus. 

One new feature that Apple did introduce this week that I feel will have significantly more impact in the coming years, and that feature is MagSafe on the iPhone. All of the new iPhones are equipped with an array of magnets on the phone’s rear to assist with perfect alignment for apples fresh MagSafe accessories. You can even charge your new iPhone through this rear magnetic mount with a new MagSafe charger. 

The introduction of this new charging method is a subtle warning for a future many in the tech community has seen coming for some time now. Apple is getting ready to kill the charging port on the iPhone. For those hoping that the iPhone would ever adopt a USB-C port like the MacBook and iPad Pro, I’m sorry to report that Apple plans to eliminate this port altogether. In the past, Apple has said its vision of the iPhone was to be a port less and buttonless slab of glass, and this new MagSafe standard is apple setting the stage to eliminate one of the essential ports on an iPhone or any device for that matter.

You may be asking yourself why would apple eliminate the charging port on their devices. Apple has a record of pushing the technology community forward, even when they understand these transitions will be uncomfortable. Eliminating this port will work wonders for the device’s security, blacking nearly all brute force attempts to access data stored on the device. Having no port would also increase the device’s resistance to dust and water elements, damaging the device or causing the device to deteriorate faster. 

I believe Apple is pragmatic about this new standard and easing its customers into this change slower than usual. The iPhone 12 series will still have the option to charge via the lightning port on the phone’s bottom. Apple is hoping its users will adopt this charging method now, so they will have the proper hardware already on hand when apple is ready to make the switch to a port less iPhone. I believe that change is coming sooner than we think, perhaps as early as the iPhone 13.

Without a doubt, this change will stress those who aren’t prepared to make the switch, no matter Apple’s efforts to soften the blow.

Pokemon Sword And Shield Review: Not Quite next Generation

fI’ve finally had a chance to play the highly anticipated and controversy-ridden Pokemon Sword and Shield. Pokemon Sword and Shield exist in the 8th generation of the mainline Pokemon RPG games. I’m nearing completion of my first play-through of the base game and it’s clear to me why this game has been so divisive amongst the fanbase. While there are no perfect games, and there are also no games that have no value to anyone, I won’t leave you guys in suspense regarding my overall feelings on the game. I like Pokemon Sword and Shield. I enjoyed playing this game. To be fair, I also love Pokemon. I think that love has a lot to do with my final feelings on this game. My love for this franchise goes back for well over 20 years. Game Freak and the Pokemon company certainly benefit from my near-blind nostalgia and optimism. I, however, was let down time and time again, expecting this franchise to finally evolve into the series that long-time fans have been begging for. Again for the record, I like this game. I’m excited to continue into the post-game and maybe the competitive scene. I do however believe it’s important to discuss what the game got right, and where the series has plateaued, and what that means for the future of Pokemon. 

Pros of Generation 8

Sword and Shield are the first mainline Pokemon games to be released on a proper home console (Well, The Nintendo Switch is a Hybrid). The Nintendo Switch boasts an enormous advantage over the Nintendo 3DS in terms of raw power. The 3DS was the previous home for mainline Pokemon games. Fittingly, Sword and Shield are the best looking and graphically impressive mainline Pokemon games to date. The game’s resolution is also the highest it’s been. The Games run at a dynamic 1080p HD while docked and 720p when being played in handheld mode. Pokemon is fast approaching 1000 unique monsters, and some of these Pokemon have various forms and special evolutions ( Mega Evolution & Gigantamax). Even with so many Pokemon in existence, the designers at Game Freak are still able to produce amazing new Pokemon designs that are sure to become fan favorites. 

Some may consider my next “pro” to be a con, but it’s all about perspective. I think it’s a good thing that Pokemon’s core formula is unchanged. Pokemon is still a simple and accessible turn-based RPG that has various mechanics tacked on top to add depth and strategy. Playing a Pokemon game is like riding a bike, once you learn it’s easy to jump into a future game, no matter how long it’s been since you played. Even though the core gameplay of Pokemon is simple enough, there is a robust competitive scene where only the most seasoned Pokemon veterans should even attempt. 

The Wild Area is the undisputed biggest and most revolutionary change to this generation of Pokemon games. The Wild Area is an open-world segment of the latest Pokemon games. In this area, players have full control of the camera and have a relatively large area to explore and catch Pokemon. The addition of the Wild Area is a sure sign of the Pokemon company attempting to step out of their comfort zone and provide new experiences for their games. 

Where Pokemon Sword and Shield Miss the Mark 

While again, I feel the need to stress the point that I ultimately enjoyed Pokemon Shield (The version I played), the game is not perfect, actually far from it. My first con with the game is that it feels incomplete. Due to the nature of the Pokemon franchise as a whole (the games, anime, trading cards, and other merchandise all need to come out around the same time), it is clear that these games were on a very tight release schedule. As a result, the game feels like it was rushed. During development, fans for the series were quick to criticize certain aspects of the games as more details were revealed. The most infamous was the removal of half of the entire roster of monsters in the Pokemon universe. This single decision outraged millions of fans worldwide and rumbles of discontent continued up until the game’s release. The Pokemon companies’ response to these complains did little to ward off concerns of the fans. Their explanation for the removal of Pokemon was so they could focus on improving animations for a smaller pool of Pokemon and improve the overall quality of the games. Again, as more information from the games was revealed fans were quick to point out inconsistencies with the Pokemon company’s claims of a higher quality game. Within a promotional trailer of the game, a tree in the wild area was shown to have a very low-resolution texture. Many fans and critics likened the tree’s appearance to an asset that might have been made for an N64 game. Fans complained that the image of the tree was far too low of a resolution to existing in a modern game being released in 2019. Regarding that point, I do have to agree. Unfortunately, there are low-resolution textures all over the game. Overall the game falls short of the standards that most gamers expect for a home console game released in 2019.

In the animation department, there is little indication that Game freak was aware that they were developing on a platform that is an entirely different league than the 3DS. Battle animations are your standard Pokemon fare, just a higher resolution than 3DS. It would have been nice for Game Freak to have added some variety to battle animations, for example when Pokemon reach different stages of their health during a battle there could be a more obvious sign that Pokemon is reaching exhaustion (besides their standard animation slowing down).

Aside from the moments of disappointing graphics, another con of these games was a very bland story. Major plot points concerning the legendary Pokemon and the heroes of legend were merely glossed over. Many of the characters in the main storyline just weren’t interesting. Your three rivals during the game were one dimensional and attempts at minor story arcs were not consequential. Given the resources and talent Game Freak has at their disposal its disappointing more effort wasn’t given into providing a more enriching story.

The scope and scale of the game are quite diminished from what one would expect from looking at the world map. When you are venturing outside of the wild area, paths are very linear and only serve to lead from one location to the next. There are hidden items scattered about in the few deviations from the beaten path. I do wish there was more to explore, and what is here to explore, I wish that was simply more interesting. The art design for Pokemon games has been overly simplistic for far too long. Before, those design choices had to consider the current handheld hardware. On the Nintendo Switch, however, Game freak could have used their imagination to lead us through extraordinary landscapes. Instead, we were treated to bare open fields, sparse trees, and rocks here and there. These scenes bare little resemblance to the high fantasy landscapes that can be found in most JRPGs.

The Pokemon game’s improvements have always been iterative. So no one should be shocked that Pokemon Sword and Shield are more of the same. Can we be blamed for expecting more? Nearly every other game developer is pushing the boundaries of their beloved franchises, and those risks have been more than rewarded. Just take the Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The Zelda games have been formulaic for decades, but Nintendo decided to take a risk and make a Zelda game for the modern age, that still felt like Zelda. Pokemon Sword and Shield are by all accounts still Pokemon games. They have visually improved, and have received a plethora of quality of life changes that were only for the better. The problem is that even though I enjoyed this game, the changes weren’t enough for me to love this game. Modern gamers expect developers to push the boundaries of software and the hardware it is run on. Game Freak received a message loudly and with fury during the development of Sword and Shield that they had failed to deliver. Only time will tell if Game Freak and the Pokemon Company can find a balance between their vision of the trajectory of the Pokemon franchise and the future long-time players will continue to demand of the series. 

Should You Update to the latest iPhones?

On September 10th, Apple held its annual iPhone update event. The company unveiled three different models of phones for its customers to choose from. These phones included the iPhone 11, the iPhone 11 Pro, and the iPhone 11 Pro Max. As reactions from this event pour in, the consensus seems to be that these phones are incremental upgrades from last year’s models. Before we discuss if you upgrade your phone this year, we will cover what is new with these iPhones.

iPhone 11

Apple’s naming strategy for their phones has been unpredictable as of late. You might think the iPhone 11 would become the direct successor of the iPhone 10s (Xs). In terms of the processor, yes, there is an upgrade there. However, the screen resolution is much lower on the iPhone 11 over the Xs. Also, the XS uses an OLED display while the iPhone 11 still uses an LED display. In essence, the iPhone 11’s purpose is to be a comparable phone to last year’s extremely popular iPhone XR. The XR was a successful attempt by Apple to introduce another budget model of its iPhone. The iPhone 11 hopes to continue that trend and hopefully persuade cost-conscious customers to upgrade their aging iPhones finally. So what does the iPhone 11 offer?

Screen Shot 2019-09-10 at 3.14.50 PM
Photo Credit: Apple

First, we will cover what is the same as last year’s XR. The iPhone 11 still has its 6.1-inch Liquid Retina Display. The display has a roughly 720p resolution, which sounds disappointing on paper. However, the display is very sharp and showcases vibrant and accurate colors. Users of the iPhone XR have been satisfied with the display, and keeping the resolution the same is an efficient way for Apple to keep the cost of the phone lower. Speaking of the costs, the price for the iPhone 11 is about $50 cheaper than last year’s XR. This strategy is exciting news for budget wary customers as the iPhone 11 is priced at $699 to start instead of the $749 starting price of the XR last year.

It’s not all the same with the iPhone 11. This time the iPhone 11 gets a dual camera set up like the iPhone 10. Only this time the iPhone 11 is getting a wide-angle lens and an ultra-wide lens. If you want the extra zoom of the telephoto lens, you need to pick up an iPhone 11 Pro.

iPhone 11 Pro (Max)

Like the iPhone 11 and XR, much hasn’t changed between this year’s flagships from last year’s model. The iPhone 11 Pro models are the direct successors to last year’s XS phones. As you might expect, the phones are physically very similar to the XS. The display sizes remain the same at 5.8 in for the 11 Pro and 6.5 in for the 11 Pro Max. The resolution for the phones also stays the same. The iPhone 11 Pro’s display does get significantly brighter. The phones can sustain a brightness of around 800 nits, and reach a peak brightness of about 1200 nits. The 1200 nit peak cannot be sustained for extended periods, and will only trigger in specific situations. The Cameras on the iPhone 11 Pro have also changed. The phones now sport a triple-lens setup. All of the lenses are 12 MP but have different functions. The primary shooter is a wide-angle lens. The telephoto lens has also returned to provide a 2x optical zoom. This time, however, the telephoto lens will have a much wider aperture to let in more light. This wider aperture should significantly improve low light photography when taking macro photos. Finally, the third lens on the new iPhone is the ultra-wide camera. This lens will allow the iPhone to take a much better landscape or pictures of large groups of people.

Aside from the significant camera improvements, the iPhone 11’s battery life has been noticeably improved. The iPhone 11 Pro is expected to achieve four hours more battery life than the XS, and the 11 Pro Max should receive five more hours than the XS Max.
While the changes presented here are significant, in the grand scheme of things they may seem incremental.
Should You Upgrade?

The decision to upgrade or rather my endorsement to upgrade depends mostly on what your current device is. If you are using a phone older than the iPhone X I would highly suggest upgrading. The speed, battery, and camera improvements will be monumental for your user experience. If you have an iPhone X or newer, it depends on if you want the best iPhone you can get. Full disclosure, I am an iPhone XS Max user, and I am upgrading to the 11 Pro Max. I love taking photos on my iPhone. I, however, was beginning to fall out of love with the camera experience on the iPhone. The more I saw pictures from Googles Pixel 3. The new camera updates to the 11 Pro have me excited again, and I’m eager to have a comparable camera experience to Google’s phones.

If you don’t primarily use your iPhone for photography, and the battery life is exceptional on your current iPhone, I would hold off and wait for the 2020 iPhone. In 2020 Apple should be ready to refresh the design of the iPhone significantly and finally make some changes to the notch.

Buyers Beware: Nintendo Has Unveiled Two New Switch Models

 

Rumors about the now confirmed Switch Lite and a potential “pro” upgrade to the Switch have been circulating the internet for over a year now. Finally, these rumors have proven to be at least partially true. In a series of minimal press announcements, Nintendo has announced the upcoming Switch Lite. The Switch Lite will be a smaller console that can only be used in handheld mode. The Switch Lite will not be able to interface with the Joy-con controllers like its bigger sibling physically. There are a few games that can only be played in docked or tabletop mode, and the Switch Lite won’t be able to play those games. Thankfully the Switch Lite has more than just caveats. The console will get a significant boost to its battery life ranging anywhere from 3-7 hours depending on the game being played. The system will also come in three new colors. These colors will include grey, yellow, turquoise, and a special edition Pokemon Sword and Shield color variant with a graphic on the rear displaying the new legendary Pokemon. Most impressive Nintendo has managed to shave $100 off the MSRB of the Switch Lite meaning it will retail for $199 instead of $299 which is the price of the base switch model. The Switch Lite will be released this Autumn on September 20th. 

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Photo Credit: Nintendo 

 

Nintendo didn’t Stop with the Switch Lite. They have also announced a new version of their base switch model will be rolling out this fall. This Switch will be branded identically to the previous Switch model, which means consumers are going to have to be vigilant to make sure they are getting the updated console. The updates to this version of the Switch aren’t significant enough to warrant a new name or even the “NEW” moniker Nintendo has used in the past for their 3DS systems. This newer model Switch is confirmed to have better battery life than the previous Switch and its new Lite variant. The battery life for this Switch will range anywhere from 4.5-9 hours of gameplay depending on the game being played. The updated Switch unit will be priced at $299, the same price as the original Switch. It’s safe to assume the older Switch models with the inferior battery life will also still be priced at $299. To avoid buying the older units, shoppers should look at the serial numbers on the boxes. The code for the newer units should begin with the letters “XKW.”

I wouldn’t be too concerned over this as the holiday season is approaching. I anticipate Nintendo will flood store shelves with the newer switch models and Switch Lite, so chances are you will get the newer models if you buy one this fall.

If you have been holding out on a Switch I would recommend waiting until this fall so you can get the best that is being offered, and if you currently already own a switch I don’t see much need to upgrade. If you are worried about battery life, I recommend spending less money and getting an external battery pack.

As for those holding out for a Switch Pro rest assured it isn’t coming out this year or likely next year, so go ahead and find a good deal on a Switch when you find one.

The LAST Thing Nintendo Needs is a “Less Powerful” Switch.  (Switch Mini Rumors) 

Rumors concerning the impending reveal of a new “Switch Mini” are causing quite the stir online and within Nintendo’s own board meeting. Investors directly ask executives about the possibility of the Switch Mini at a recent meeting. Nintendo only critically said that they wouldn’t prematurely announce any new hardware so they could preserve a sense of “surprise” for their audience. 

Nintendo is no stranger to releasing various hardware iterations of their gaming consoles. The last being their “New” Nintendo 3DS which boosted CPU speeds and a few hardware tweaks. The company also released the Nintendo 2DS Which was essentially a wedge-shaped 3DS without the 3D capabilities. Nintendo released the 2DS to achieve a lower price point for their customers who might be willing to give up 3D elements to their games in exchange for a more affordable product. 

Some online are suggesting that the Switch Mini may have various technological compromises to achieve a lower price point for consumers. These compromises may be the lack of Joy-cons, a smaller and lower resolution screen, a smaller battery, and perhaps a lower clocked CPU and GPU. Of all of these potential cuts, the clock speed of the CPU and GPU and the battery capacity should be unchanged. 

 

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Photo Credit: Honson

Quite frankly, the LAST thing that Nintendo needs is a less powerful Switch unit. I love my Nintendo Switch despite the raw power difference between the Switch and other consoles, the Switch is still my go-to device for gaming. This is primarily due to the unique selection of games such as Zelda, Xenoblade, and Splatoon, for example. I do however have to admit that the current version of the Nintendo Switch is underpowered. Yes, I said it! Because it’s true! It’s 2019, and Nintendo has YET to provide a home console that can reliably deliver at LEAST a1080p resolution or 60 fps across its games. Some do hit that mark but surely not enough do. Current Generation consoles like PS4 Pro and Xbox 1X are already flirting with 4K resolutions, so needless to Say Nintendo is falling behind on that front. 

While Switch Ports like Doom and Wolfenstein are impressive “given the hardware,” I think, fans would just like comparable ports of AAA games without the stipulations. I get it, the Switch is a Hybrid console, so sacrifices had to be made, but also better design choices could have been made. This is where the conversation gets back to the switch mini. If the Switch Mini is less powerful than the current generation Switch, how on Earth will performance fare especially with the switches more ambitious games like Breath of the Wild, Mario Odyssey, and Xenoblade Chronicles 2 (which at some points struggles to run on the current hardware).

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Photo Credit: Nintendo/ Monolith Soft: Xenoblade 2

I hope that the current Switch model gets a significant price drop and instead of a Switch Mini, Nintendo reveals a Switch-Pro with advanced specs, improved performance, and visuals for existing games. 

Pokémon I’d Be Willing to Cut From Sword & Shield 

During Nintendo’s E3 conference and Pokemon Tree House special, the Pokemon company dropped a devastating bombshell on longtime Pokemon players. Unfortunately, due to the sheer number of Pokémon in existence and the time it takes to reanimate them for the new game engine properly, certain Pokémon will be completely cut for the game. This will mark the first Pokemon game since Pokemon bank was introduced that all Pokemon won’t be available in the game in any capacity. 

This is undoubtedly disheartening news for all players who have been “catching them all” for over two decades only to be told not all of their Pokemon will be allowed in the brand new HD Pokemon games being released this fall.

At this time the Pokemon Company ‘hasn’t released a list of the Pokemon that did make the cut or how many will be available in the game. There is also discussion among players if the rest of the Pokemon will (eventually) be patched into the game. At this time, the Pokemon company has given no indication that this is their plan. For better or worse this is the reality we live in, and we can only hope our favorites make it into the game.

While I don’t speak for the Pokemon company or Game Freak, I do however have (MY OWN) opinions of which Pokemon should be in the game based on (MY OWN) preferences. Below I will prepare a list of all the Pokémon I am ok with being cut and a short reason why for some. (I for obvious reason won’t be including any Pokémon that have been confirmed to be in the game via trailers and officially released content) 

 

1) Beedrill Line

2)Pidgeeot Line

3) Fearrow Line 

4) Wigglytuff line

5) Parasect line 

6) Dugtrio Line 

7) Primape Line

8) Muk Line 

9) Electrode Line 

10) Blissey Line

11) Furret Line

12) Ledian (Does anyone use this Pokemon???)

13) Jumpluff Line

14) Unown (All of them Are Useless)

15) Forretress Line 

16) Dunsparce (Unless it gets an evolution) 

17) GranBull Line

18) Quillfish 

19) Corsola

20) Delibird (Why dies this Pokémon exist)

21) Swellow Line 

22) Exploud Line 

23) Hariyama Line 

24) Volbeat

25) Illumise 

26) Chimeecho

27) Luvdisc

28) Bibarel Line 

29) Kricketune Line 

30)  Wormadam Line and variants 

31) Patchirisu 

32) Chingling 

33) Chatot

34) Drapion

35) Carnivine ( Just a poor design)

36) Rotom (As a playable Pokémon)

37) Phione

38) Manaphy 

39) Shaymin Both forms 

40) Victini

41) Swoobat Line

42) Audino Line 

43) Darmanitan

44) Maractus

45) Garbodor line (its literally trash)

46) Emolga

47) Amoonguss Line

48) Cobalion

49) Terakion 

50) Virizion

51) Meloetta forms 

52) Talonflame line 

53) Furfrou 

54) Slurpuff line

55) Dedenne

56) Carbink (Unless it gets an evolution)

57) Gourgiest Line and all variants 

58) Oricorio variants (They only make sense in the Alolan Region)

59) Ribombee Line 

60) Lurantis Line

61) Silvally Line 

62) Minior (literally forgot this Pokemon exists) 

63) All Tapu Forms 

64) Cosmoem Line (For a company worried about scalability I wonder why they literally created a useless Pokémon)

65) The Ultra Beasts will likely be cut

While I would ideally like all Pokemon to be in the game or at some point be patched in, I do challenge all of you to go through the Pokedex and pick out the Pokemon you personally dislike, don’t use or have entirely forgotten about. I was truly surprised by the sheer number of Pokemon that I was ok with potentially not being in the game. I figure at least some people will have a significant number of Pokemon they honestly wouldn’t miss if they were cut from the game. I personally found this experiment helpful with coping with the changes coming to the new Pokemon games.

 

Be Honest, Will you REALLY MISS... THIS THING???
Photo Credit: Pokemon TCG

Questions About iOS We have After WWDC.

During this year’s WWDC, Apple debuted its future for its various operations systems. Highlights included iOS 13, MacOS Catalina, and the debut of Apple’s newest operating system iPad OS. While Apple revealed a great deal about these upcoming software releases, there are still many questions we have about the operating systems themselves, including how they will affect existing devices, and to what degree the new features will be implemented.

iOS 13

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Photo Credit: Apple

My biggest question about iOS 13 is regarding the new Dark Mode. I wonder if Dark Mode will present “true blacks” on OLED devices such as the various iPhone X models except for the XR which uses a liquid retina display which is an LCD. When I say a “true black,” I mean pixels being entirely turned off while using dark mode. If this is the case, I iPhone X(s, Max) could see gains in battery life because fewer pixels have to be illuminated and thus are saving energy. Older iPhones and the XR will of course not be able to achieve true blacks dude to the nature of LCDs, but I’m sure the Dark Mode will still be much easier on the eyes, there however just won’t be any battery savings. 

TvOS 

As a gamer, you can imagine that I was excited at the announcement that the Apple TV would natively support PlayStation and Xbox One controllers. This is fantastic news as I have been highly reluctant to purchase one of the expensive MiFi controllers that were compatible with iOS and TvOS. As I already own multiple PS4 controllers, I now feel empowered to try out more games on my Apple TV. I am, however, more curious about the support Playstation and Xbox controllers will have with iOS, Mac OS, and iPad OS. The Nintendo Switch is one of my favorite gaming consoles due to its very portable nature, other devices I always have with me are my iPad, my MacBook, and my iPhone. I have never liked only having a touch screen for gaming inputs, and I know I could have purchased one of those MiFi controllers, but as I said, I already have enough controllers at home laying around. A few years back, I bought Final Fantasy 7 and Transistor on iOS, but I just didn’t want to play with touch controls or buy a new controller to play them. But now I have the option to play both of these games on my Switch. I historically haven’t had a problem with double dipping on games, when they release on a platform that is more in line with my play-style, and I’ve been on the fence about purchasing these games on Switch. But now my decision will depend on if I can natively use my PS4 controller with my iPad because in that case, I will stick with those games on iOS. 

iPadOS 

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Photo Credit: Apple 

 

Year after year, changes to the software experience on iPad had stolen the show at WWDC, and this year was no different. This time, Apple defined a new pedigree for the software experience on iPad by giving the device its own operating system. iPadOS is the new name of the software that will now power iPad Devices. At this time, iPadOS isn’t a significant departure from the iOS experience on iPad but is different in a few key ways. A notable update is that multitasking is now improved on iPadOS. Multitasking has been improved by allowing better window management and allowing multiple windows of the same app to be displayed. Two of the most desired features that I wanted for iPad (https://iphonetennismatch.com/) are finally making their way to the tablet. The First feature is one that Apple omitted from their presentation, but none the less is present in iPadOS and will for many vastly improve their iPad workflows. That feature is mouse support on the iPad. This feature won’t be immediately apparent as Apple wants you to primarily utilize the iPad’s touch screen to navigate menus and apps. The support for mice and trackpads will be found in the accessibility section of the settings app and can be toggled on or off. It has been confirmed that Apple’s own Magic Mouse and Trackpad will be compatible with iPads on iPadOS. The cursor will be the same found In the assistive touch function found in iOS. Whether or not Apple will add a proper cursor or be more forthcoming on the addition of this feature will remain to be seen.  The Second feature that I anticipated coming to the iPad was the adoption of native support for using an iPad a second display for the Mac. Apple did publicize this feature during its keynote, and they called this feature “Side Car.” It has been confirmed that this feature can be used via USB-C and a wireless Bluetooth connection. There are however questions on whether older iPads that use a lighting cable will be able to utilize the Side Car feature, or if older Macs will be able to interface with newer iPads using this feature as well. According to some sources, All iPads that can support iPadOS will be able to use the Sidecar feature with Macs that can install MacOS Catalina. I do hope that this is the case as it wouldn’t force current Mac and iPad users to upgrade their devices to take advantage of this feature. 

Our Wishlist & Predictions For The World Wide Developer’s Conference

 

With WWDC less than a month away and with rumors spreading concerning which features will come to iOS, MacOS, WatchOS, and TvOS this fall, it seemed like an opportune moment to share our wishlists and predictions for the World Wide Developers Conference.

 iOS13 

My number one wish for iOS is a system-wide Dark Mode for iPhones and iPads. Dark modes for phones and laptops are popping up everywhere. Last year Apple gave us hope by announcing dark mode for MacOS, and I’m hoping this year the iPhone and iPad will follow suit. Even Google is getting in on the action as at their Google I/O event, they announced a system-wide dark mode was coming to the latest version of Android. As other operating systems are adopting this feature, I anticipate the inclusion of dark mode on iOS is very likely.

Apple Finally added a user accessible file system to their iOS devices on iOS 11, while this addition was much appreciated, a fuller-featured file manager should be encouraged. Adding more robust support for external storage and management of files stored on those devices would be ideal. Apple wants us to envision the iPad as a viable replacement for our laptops but to do that the iPad needs to function more like a laptop in critical ways such as file management. Due to constant pressure from competitors and Apple’s user base, I anticipate this feature is moderate likely, but it will be implemented in Apple fashion (file type restrictions, installation restrictions, etc.).

I’ve been praying for the addition of a native option for using the iPad Pro as a secondary display for Mac. I’m very hopeful this feature will finally be made available for my mobile workflows. I do however believe if this feature is implemented, it will only be available on iPad Pros with a USB Type C Port, as the lightning port might not have enough bandwidth to support a high-resolution extension of a Mac display. This feature has been available for some time with the use of third-party apps such as Duet and Astropad, but due to the bandwidth of the lightning port video output is highly compressed and the refresh rate is much lower than traditional monitors and displays. 

Multitasking on iPad has significantly advanced over the last couple iterations of iOS, but to truly compete with desktop operating systems, the iPad needs to implement windowed multitasking. These windows need to be arranged as desired or arrange in a split screen configuration as well. Again due to the competition and demand from its user base, I would assume the addition of this feature to be very likely as Apple continues to persuade users that the iPad is a viable replacement for laptops.

 Besides, better multitasking tools on iPad, Apple should also add mouse support to the iPad Pro. With the addition of the Apple Pencil and support for external keyboards, I find my fingers rarely touching the iPads screen. I notice this in specific workflows, especially when I decide to try typing documents on the device. It’s always an inconvenience to move my hand towards the touchscreen to adjust my cursor, and when I try its never as accurate as a mouse’s input. As Apple would have to rework most of their first party apps to utilize mouse support, I would say the addition of this feature is unlikely to slightly likely. 

WatchOS 6

I personally don’t want or expect too much from the next version of WatchOS. The Apple Watch is already one of the most feature-rich smartwatches on the market and understandably one of the most popular wearables. The Apple Watch does have some glaring omissions to its software offerings that wish Apple would finally address. First, I would like Apple to allow support for third-party watch faces. An SDK for building watch faces and a spot in the App Store would create an entirely new development sector for Apple and developers. The only new watch faces Apple Watch owners get are from Apple directly or collaborations other companies have arranged directly with Apple. Examples of this are Pixar’s Toy Story watch faces and Disney’s Mickey and Minnie Mouse watch faces. I would also appreciate more options with the Watch Face options Apple gives us by default. For example, I like to use the live Jellyfish* watch face, though all of the jellies shown are fine, I’d like only one or two of the pictures to be in the rotation. Apple, however, gives you an all or nothing option on that front. Apple also provides a few minimalist watch faces in various colors, which I do enjoy. However, I do wish Apple Watch users had access to a color wheel to choose more specific colors for these watch faces. 

MacOS

As much as people say that Apple needs to pay closer attention to the Mac, I personally feel that Apple has every configuration of Mac desktops and laptops available to a vast variety of users. Also, MacOS seems to get newer and more impressive software features faster than any platform maintained by Apple. MacOS is feature rich, fast, stable, and reliable. I expect Apple to build on this and to further refine its desktop operating system. I personally don’t have many wishes for MacOS as any changes I want to make to the OS or UI I can change with an app. Any new features Apple decides to bring to the Mac will be quality of life changes that I didn’t know I needed or wanted, and those are my favorite kinds of features.

It’s Time for Apple to Start Acting Like It Owns Beats Audio, and Finally Kill It 

When Apple acquired the enormously popular brand Beats Audio in 2014, it stunned the technology market. This acquisition had analysts wondering what Apple planned to accomplish with Beats now under their ownership. I, being someone who follows Apple very closely, knew Apple was preparing to enter the headphone and audio market. I figured within a year or two they would begin rolling out their own branded audio hardware. As anticipated Apple released the first generation of AirPods in the winter of 2016. AirPods was Apple’s take on truly wireless headphones which were quickly growing in popularity at the time. Apple developed the W1 chip that would be the Bluetooth controller for the AirPods, allowing both earpieces to seamlessly and wirelessly connect to iOS devices with ease. I said to myself, “FINALLY,” Apple’s acquisition of Beats has taught them what they need to know about making a solid pair of headphones and hoot market them with Apple branding. Apple then did something that surprised me. Alongside the new, shiny, and Apple-branded AirPods, Apple also released Beats X headphones. These headphones weren’t “truly” wireless as the earbuds were connected via a cable, but these headphones did feature the new W1 chip that had all the same software and hardware integration with iOS devices that the AirPods had.

At the time it had been two years since Apple had purchased Beats, but no significant new model’s of Beats headphones had been announced. Most models were quietly refreshed, some wired options were given a lightning cable connection, and others were given lightning ports for charging. Marketing for Beats had taken a sharp downturn, while ads and product placements for AirPods seemed to be everywhere.

Fast forward to 2019 and Apple is now ready to refresh its AirPods with a second generation. This time around the AirPods are equipped with an H1 chipset. The H1 is supposed to allow for even faster Bluetooth connection and hands-free Siri activation. I believe that Apple is gradually phasing out the Beats brand and was offering an olive branch with the Beats X that launched aside the first generation of AirPods. Apple however still has more olive branches to provide. With very little press and marketing, Apple quietly announced the Power Beats Pro. Unlike the Beats X, the Power Beats Pro are truly wireless like the AirPods and offers a charging case also like the AirPods. Unlike the AirPods the Power Beat’s charging case doesn’t support wireless charging.

To my surprise, the Power Beats is also, shockingly, more expensive than the new AirPods even with the wireless charging case. AirPods 2nd Generation with the wireless charging case cost $199.00, and the new Power Beats Pro will cost $249.95. What doesn’t make sense is why Apple is selling a pair of headphones that they own, but aren’t “Apple Branded”. These headphones also come at a $50 premium over their own headphones that they are heavily marketing and actually are “Apple Branded”.

Companies will often own or manage several brands that can sometimes offer similar products. Car companies are well known for implementing this strategy as they usually offer cars at various price levels and styles to accommodate the tastes of multiple markets. One could argue that Apple is using this strategy with its Beats acquisition. The majority of the Beats line-up has been mostly unchanged since Apple’s acquisition. It is clear Beats Audio is not a primary focus for Apple. I believe Apple still offers Beats for enthusiasts who still demand the Beats sound signature. The youth and athletic market that Beats had locked in for years is now being turned over to Apple as teenagers, and young adults purchase AirPods. AirPods are trendy and seen as a status symbol to teenagers and young adults, and Beats are viewed more like a relic of the not so distant past.

Apple is just getting started in the audio industry. With the release of AirPods and their HomePod home speaker, it is clear Apple is going all in on their own branded audio hardware. It’s evident that the future of Beats audio is bleak and the brand is existing just to supplement Apple’s hardware offering until it releases their own on-ear and over-ear headphones. Beats Audio has various endorsement deals currently in effect with other all known brands that include Disney and the NBA. Apple is likely waiting for these deals to expire before they finally kill Beats Audio and eventually establish themselves as a premium provider of audio hardware.