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 Needs A Bundling Option for its Upcoming Services 

 

Apple has numerous new services slated to become available later this Fall. Apple Arcade and Apple TV + (Plus) will be joining the ranks of Apple Music, News (+), and iCloud. These services are here to provide content and experiences for iOS and MacOS users across a variety of Apple devices. Apple is shifting much of its branding power behind these services in an attempt to bring in new streams of revenue for the company. It’s no secret that smartphone sales are becoming stagnant across the spectrum, including the iPhone. With customers demanding more and more features from phones, the cost of making them has intern gone up dramatically, as have the prices that customers pay. Smartphone users are holding on to their phones longer and not upgrading as often as they used to. Apple and investors are hoping that this push for services will help recoup revenue lost from stagnant iPhone sales.

As of June 2019, Apple has persuaded 60 million people to sign up for their Apple Music subscription service. Those numbers are in contrast to Apples biggest competition in the music streaming industry, Spotify, which has over 200 million active users. Spotify, however, has a free ad-supported option for music streaming and about half of their user base is using their free model. Spotify still has a remarkable 100 million paid subscribers to its premium service.

Apple isn’t only trying to get a slice of the music streaming pie. Apple is also gunning for the likes of Netflix and Amazon and the video streaming industry. Apple intends to compete with these media giants by creating their original content and releasing it on their streaming platform, Apple TV +. Unlike Apple Music, Apple has to create its content, which, as Netflix and Amazon have discovered costs billions of dollars. Not only is creating this programming expensive but its also a massive risk. These shows and movies have to resonate with audiences, develop a following, and most importantly be critically acclaimed and win awards. Unlike Apple TV+ Netflix and Amazon have TV shows and movies that aren’t their original content. This means all they had to do is pay for a license to run the show. The Alternative would have been funding the show from the ground up, which is significantly more expensive. Of course, Apple is free to pursue this route as well, however, the owners of popular content like Disney want their segment of the streaming market. At the end of their contract with Netflix, Disney is pulling all of their properties from the platform and is launching their own this Fall called Disney +

Disney knows the steaming industry is crowded and highly competitive. If you look at Disney’s acquisitions over the past couple years like Marvel, Star Wars, 20th Century Fox, and ESPN, it should all be clear as to their motives. Owning these properties means they own the rights to stream them without having to pay licensing fees. Disney is taking full advantage of the properties they have control over and are bundling them into one easily accessible package.

Apple is spending an estimated 6 billion dollars on it’s streaming and services efforts. Apple certainly has the cash in excess to take these kinds of risks. I, however, think Apple should follow in Disney’s footsteps to their approach to services, and that is bundling! For a limited time like Disney Plus, or more of a permanent fixture, Apple should bundle a few of their various services with each other. For example, I am a subscriber to Apple Music myself and a Publisher on Apple News, I, however, am not subscribed to Apple news plus. However, if Apple offered a bundle of both news and music for $15 a month instead of the $20, it would be separately, I would likely go for that option. I can see parents considering an Apple TV + subscription, and perhaps their children want Apple Arcade. I feel more parents would more likely add Apple Arcade if they could get access in a bundle. Who knows, Apple customers might have been waiting in mass for these services and won’t require any packages or other offers. I, however, am on a tight budget, and with all the new players entering the streaming market, each company needs to persuade customers as to why theirs is the best.

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.

Apple’s Paradigm Shift to Services has Begun

 

During Apple’s keynote event today, Apple as expected, announced a series of services. These services include “Apple News +”, “Apple Card”, “Apple Arcade” and “Apple TV +”. Apple is broadening and deepening the scope of their ecosystems. They are attempting this strategy in hopes to entice you with their offerings and then lock you into providing reliable streams of revenue.

Apple News Plus
Apple released its News app 3 years ago at the peak of personalized and curated news feeds. Today they are expanding this vision by offering a premium version of this service called Apple News Plus. Along with the usual web articles that have been offered and continue to be free, Apple has invited prominent News and print media outlets into their service. Outlets like National Geographic, GQ, and Essence magazine will now be able to be read in their entirety and unlimited as long as customers subscribe to this new service. Readers of the Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Times will now be able to read the paper on all of their Apple devices with the subscription as well. Apple has worked with these publishers to optimize and enhance their content for iPhones and iPads. Animations, transitions, and high resolution “Live Covers” will be used to immerse readers into the content they are consuming. Live Covers, will function like Apple’s Live Photos, but only for magazine Covers. Based on the demonstration that was shown during the keynote its looking like the News app may start looking like newspapers from Harry Potter, only in color. Apple News Plus will be 9.99 a month, but this service is supported by Apple’s family sharing feature. This means up to 6 people including the subscription holder can enjoy accessing Apple News Plus at no additional charge.
Apple Card
In an update to Apple’s “Apple Pay” service, the company is now offering their own branded credit cards. Apple plans to simplify the credit card experience and equip customers with the tools to safely and securely manage their finances. Apple ambitiously has “claimed” to have eliminated all fees associated with this card. This includes the removal of annual fees, late fees, and fees associated with exceeding spending limits. In order to offer a credit card, Apple had to partner with the bank Goldman Sachs and the company Master Card. Apple will offer cash back for purchases made on the card in the amount of 2% daily on purchases made on the card and 3% from purchases made at Apple retailers.

Apple will offer a virtual version of their card that will live on your iPhone with its data protected on the secure enclave partition of Apple’s processors. Its data will be encrypted and only stored on the iPhone. Apple will also offer a physical version of this card. The card will be made of titanium and will only feature a name and the Apple logo on the card. The card number, CVV, and signature won’t be present on the card for increased security. This card is to be used wherever Apple Pay is not supported. Details on where customers can get a physical card haven’t been made available at the time of writing. The Apple Card Service will be made available this Summer.

Apple Arcade
In an update to Apple’s App Store service, the company is now offering a subscription to mobile games that have been developed and curated in direct partnership with Apple. The games in this subscription will only be available through this subscription and only available on Apple devices across iOS, MacOS, and TvOS. Apple only offered a few teasers of the upcoming games offered in their service and announced that pricing for this service would be announced at a later date. The service is expected to launch in the fall of this year. The game service will operate through paid subscription only, which means none of these games will be free to play, feature adds, or offer in-game purchases. The service will, however, support family sharing, which means the entire family will be able to enjoy this gaming subscription across different devices.

Apple TV Plus
Today Apple finally unveiled its Apple TV streaming service. Actors, directors, and composers, filled the audience and graced the stage to give us a peek at the original programming that would be exclusive to Apple’s service. Apple also announced that its TV App would be getting an update to accommodate its streaming service and its new Channels feature. “Channels” is an option for customers to subscribe to individual content providers like HBO, Stars, and Showtime. Apple’s original content would only be available to subscribers of their TV Plus service. As its a paid service it will also be ad-free and arriving this fall.

On a final note, Apple introduced TV Legend Oprah Winfrey to introduce an unnamed project that she and the tech company were collaborating on. The only information we were given is that this program would be something like a book club.

Apple’s services could very well turn the tide for this company which is currently seeing sales slumps and fluctuating stock value. Apple needs to produce content that is engaging and provocative, but they also need to match the quality of its content with the quantity as well. Competition is heating up in the streaming world especially with Disney launching their own streaming service this fall as well.

Apple Quietly Refreshes iPad Air & iPad mini Ahead of March 25th Event.

Apple usually rolls out the red carpet when it intends to introduce new hardware to its customers. It is clear, however, that Apple’s focus isn’t on hardware. Apple has its sights clearly locked on to its new services. These new services will undoubtedly be unveiled during their keynote event on March 25th. As services will be the star of this event, Apple felt the need to go ahead and announce refreshes its iPad line.

iPad Air
The new iPad Air, not to be confused with the device of the same name that was released by Apple back in 2013, is a massive improvement over its predecessors. For starters the new iPad Air features a larger display, measuring 10.5” giving it the largest display of a non-pro iPad. Even though this iPad Air lacks the “pro” moniker, it is certainly packed with pro-level specs. This iPad Air is fitted with the A12 Bionic processor, the same processor in the latest iPhone XS and XS Max. In comparison, the newest iPad Pros have the A12x Bionic, which is just an A12 processor with a bit more power for pro users. Apple is also adding support for the first generation Apple Pencil and it also supports the Smart Keyboard as well. Consumers can get almost all of the benefits of an iPad Pro without the hefty price tag that comes with the “pro” name. The New iPad Air starts at $499 USD for a 64GB model and $649 USD for a 256GB model.

iPad mini
The iPad mini is no stranger to multiple refreshes, but thankfully this time Apple has made additions to this small device that bring it up to modern standards. Like the new iPad Air, this iPad mini is granted support for the first generation Apple Pencil. Apple clearly believes that all of its modern tablets should support its stylus and now they all do. The new iPad mini’s processor is just as powerful as the new iPad Air. Both devices are equipped with the A12 Bionic chip. This processor is perfect for multitasking and new advancements in Augmented Reality.

Everything isn’t New
Though these iPads are sporting new processors and have access to accessories like the Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard, they aren’t fitted with Apple’s top of the line technologies. Instead of Face ID, which is featured on the newest iPad pros, the new iPad Air and mini both still feature Touch ID and a home button. These iPads do have Retina displays like most Apple products, but they don’t have the Liquid Retina displays or curved corners like iPad Pros and the iPhone XR. Omissions like these were likely needed to keep costs low for Apple and their consumers.

Coming Full Circle
Apple is releasing these high tech budget friendly iPads with no ulterior motives. Apple is set to unveil its new streaming service on March 25th, and people will need devices with beautiful displays to consume this new content with. Apple has its eyes on the bigger picture, more Apple devices mean more subscribers to their various services.