Thursday Morning News
After every Apple event, there’s so much news it’s hard to know where to start. I must apologise, because I am absolutely going to miss stories that you think should have been covered in the news, but I promise I’ll try and get to everything over the next few days. But let’s start with MacStories and their overview of the new iPad Pros. The return of a straight-edge design reminiscent of the iPhone 4 gives us a look at what the future of computing looks like, and apparently, that future has magnets. 107 of them allow accessories such as the new Apple Pencil to connect, as well as the Smart Keyboard Folio case. Hands-on impressions talk up the edge-to-edge display and reduced footprint of the 12.9-inch model, although people continue to point out non-backlit keys as the main negative of the keyboard case.
Apple is drawing a line in the sand with this Apple Pencil refresh. The new 2nd-generation Apple Pencil with wireless charging and magnetic connection to iPad Pro only works with the iPad Pros announced yesterday, or in other terms, the 3rd-generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro, and the first-ever 11-inch iPad Pro. Apple also notes the first-generation, previous Apple Pencil only works with older iPads, including previous models of iPad Pro, and the 6th-generation iPad.
With USB-C now the standard port on the iPad Pro, Apple has released new accessories that allow you to charge and connect it. While the new iPad Pros ship with an 18W power adapter that will provide faster charging than the 12W it used to include, you can now get a USB-C to SD card reader priced at $65, or because neither new iPad Pro has a headphone jack, a USB-C to 3.5mm headphone jack adapter for $15.
9to5Mac says the rear-facing camera in the iPad Pros is a downgrade over previous models. The new camera only has a five-element lens compared to the six it previously has, and it also lacks optical image stabilisation that the previous sensor had. Overall thinness is said to be the reason for the missing camera specs.
Apple’s security whitepaper on the T2 security chip included with the current MacBook Pro lineup and the newly-announced MacBook Air tells us that it prevents against microphone eavesdropping by disabling microphone hardware when the laptop is closed. Hilariously, the whitepaper mentions that disabling the camera via hardware isn’t necessary, because the view is completely obscured when the laptop lid is closed anyway.
Jason Snell’s take on Mac news from yesterday’s event says that people still love the Mac, and the Mac is still important to Apple. And although the Mac laptop lineup is now a little confusing, given that there’s the MacBook, MacBook Air, and low-end MacBook Pros all available for similar amounts of money, the return of a much more powerful Mac mini means people will still be able to enjoy the Mac in a small desktop form factor.
Commentary from the Apple subreddit says there’s no reason for the MacBook to co-exist with the new MacBook Air. Curiously, the base model MacBook costs more than the cheapest new MacBook Air, despite having a smaller screen, no Thunderbolt 3, much worse CPU, and no Touch ID. Speaking of CPUs, the new processors used in the new MacBook Air are the same low-power parts used in MacBooks, which makes the new MacBook Air much more closer to the MacBook than the previous MacBook Air, and confirming my suspicions that if you want a desktop replacement, the MacBook Pro is still the way to go.
AppleInsider agrees with the sentiment, claiming that the new MacBook Air threatens both the MacBook and MacBook Pro Escape. The omission of the Touch Bar on the MacBook Air but the inclusion of Touch ID is a curious one, and will be especially interesting to see what Apple do with the Touch Bar the next time they significantly update the MacBook Pro lineup.
Meanwhile, the Verge writes that the choice between a MacBook Air and iPad Pro is a choice between the past and the future. Now that both of them are very similar in terms of performance, screen quality, battery life, and portability, it becomes a question of which platform you prefer. Do you want the familiarity of the desktop macOS, or would you prefer taking a leap and using iOS as your primary computing platform?
M.G. Siegler’s thoughts on Apple’s iPad Pro and Mac event says it was 100% Apple attempting to please the masses. We saw an update to the four-year old Mac mini, Apple continuing the milk the MacBook Air brand with a new machine that is a weird combination of MacBook Pro and MacBook, and new iPad Pros that seem to tick all of the boxes. Time will tell how they went.