Thursday, October 27, 2016

Today's Apple Announcements

I watched the Apple event today and I'm a bit underwhelmed.

They started talking about iPhones which was annoying because even during the recent iPhone event people wanted to hear about new macs. Now the mac event had to share time with iPhones. Then they announced a new TV app for Apple TV which brings a unified TV experience to all your devices because there's also an iPhone and iPad app. All your devices except your macs.

So a half hour into their mac event they finally announced new MacBook Pros which were overdue. So the new model is thinner and lighter, no surprise. The screen is a bit better, so are the speakers, okay. It's got a giant touch pad and I wonder if it leaves enough room to rest your palms. It has replaced all the ports with four Thunderbolt 3 ports (which physically are USB-C ports). It's nice that any of them can be a power connection, but magsafe is gone and you're gonna need a bunch of dongles. Also nice is it's SSD only, no HDs. The 15" comes with a base 512GB SSD and 1TB is $400 more while 2TB is $1,200 more!

The big feature is a new TouchBar which replaces the row of function keys. It's basically an iPod Touch at the top of the keyboard that's half the height of a key. It's retina color screen and it changes functions depending on the app you're using. So it can show emojis or shortcuts, or photos to scroll through, or the old function keys or media keys. I wonder if Safari will have a "Do you want to upgrade Flash Player" button on the TouchBar?

As a touch typist who knows keyboard shortcuts (and also a Quicksilver user) I’m not sure I’d use it. I don't look at keys when I type and these keys always change. I know many people don't learn shortcuts like command-B to bold text and maybe this is for them. But since the keys change with context, how do you change the volume while editing a video? Don’t those buttons just go away?

And do I want to scroll through a small row of emjoi looking at the keyboard instead of looking at a big grid of them on that giant 15" screen right in front of my eyes? Even the space limited iPhone replaces the keyboard with a bigger list of emoji. Why not put a screen on the new double sized Force Touch Pad? The Touch Pad doesn't have taptic feedback, at least the Touch Pad would (and you'd still have a row of physical keys).

And I suspect all the Windows users are saying, well we have a touch screen on our laptops, so we can just touch our video editing controls. I get that for a desktop machine like an iMac a touch screen would be awkward (though Microsoft yesterday announced a neat way to do it), but I'm not sure that's the case in a laptop (given the examples they demo'ed today).

The one really nice addition is that the Touch Bar includes Touch ID so you can do Apple Pay and login to your account with just a fingerprint.

It's rather a huge disappointment that they didn't say anything about new iMacs or MacPros today. I wonder if a TouchBar will come to their keyboards? Apple recently (a year ago?) announced new keyboards for those machines and they didn't even include a number pad. Then again, maybe the real estate restrictions are too much for a desktop. I'd rather have the TouchBar software run on an iPhone or iPad next to the desktop machine. They didn't say anything about that either.

At the end of the event they said the new MacBook Pro supersedes the $999 13" MacBook Air in every way. It's thinner, just as light, faster, has more connectors, etc. It's also starts at $500 more and that's without a TouchBar. And while the 12" MacBook is the modern low end, it's $1299. So Apple is still selling the Air.

They should refresh the MacBook with a faster CPU (though I'm guessing they can't put the Intel i processors in a fanless case) and better screen with their new wide color gamut tech and update to the newest bluetooth and new butterfly keyboard tech. If they made a 14" version I think it would be perfect for a lot of people.

1 comment:

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