It’s been so long since I felt the want and drive to discuss one of Apple’s events. This year’s Spring Loaded event was a doozy, to be sure. This usually results in an emptier wallet in the week ahead, with some ripe anticipation for the latest evolutionary product to be delivered.
This year is different though. Not good different. Not bad different.
Here are my thoughts on Tuesday’s events, specifically in relation to the products I find fascinating or interesting.
We have two ultra-expensive truck keys. They each cost about $500 ($200 or so to replace plus a $300 activation fee, or something like that) and they each have specifics built in — by carrying my key, the truck will automatically sense if I’m sitting in the driver’s seat and will adjust my seat to the predetermined seat settings.
These keys are neat. They’re also very expensive.
One of our keys is always missing. And since it’s a rare day where I can point the finger at my wife for being the forgetful one, I’m going to take the opportunity.
Put another way, the truck automatically adjusts to my seat setting, even if she’s the one in the driver’s seat.
I hope AirTag can fix this issue. My wife has a U1 chip inside her iPhone 12 Pro, allowing for Precision Finding with AirTag. The UI demoed on the iPhone as you walk towards your AirTag looks extra easy to understand and the entire experience seems, at least from the beginning, as something worthy of adding to our in-house Apple ecosystem.
But they’re not cheap, no matter what everyone says. AirTags are $39 a piece here in Canada, or $129 for four. Since there’s no adhesive on the backside of the AirTag, you’re likely to need some sort of keychain holder, which costs between $25 and $45 (actually $450 if buy a Hermès option).
Which means, to protect our truck keys, we’ll need to spend $65 on each key to ensure we never lose them.
$130 of investment to save two $500 keys might make sense, but you can’t look me in the eye and call that “cheap” or “inexpensive”.
AirTags have a healthy Apple price tag to them, don’t you worry.
M1 iPad Pros
I love consistency and completion — if I purchase one f/2.8 zoom lens from Canon, I’m likely to purchase the other f/2.8 zoom lenses to complete the trinity.
Which isn’t to say there’s a current Apple M1 trinity to be had — the debut of the M1 iPad Pro makes two specific M1-powered devices to be added to your arsenal. But you can bet your bottom we’re going to see an M1-powered iPhone in the future.
This new M1 iPad Pro is 50% faster than the 2020 iPad Pro I’m writing this on. That’s utterly insane. To think the latest iPad Pro is twice as fast as my 2019 27-inch iMac makes my head sting a bit.
But the rest of my sentiment has been read again and again across the internets: The iPad has almost never been limited by hardware capabilities.
When compared to a Mac, my most processor-intensive task (photo editing) has been a better experience on the iPad for years already. Photos load faster, edits apply quicker, exports happen faster. I even find renaming and uploading exported photos from the Camera Roll to Ghost or Wordpress to be a better experience on the iPad. This, among other reasons, is why the iPad is still my favourite computer ever.
When software is optimized and dialed in on the iPad, there is little the iPad can’t do.
But where there are software gaps, there are major usage gaps. Backbreaking gaps. Dealbreaking gaps. The type of gaps you simply cannot make up, no matter the amount of money, patience, and Shortcuts-creating experience you may have.
In almost every circumstance, you can do the task you want to do on the iPad. In many circumstances, you can create a workflow or a shortcut to handle your task.
Yet, in so many of those circumstances, it’s simply easier, more efficient, and certainly less expensive to have a Mac around to complete the task.
So to me, there are clear and definitive lines to what the iPad can and can’t do in my working life. The iPad is king at:
- Manipulating and marking up PDFs
- Handwritten notes
- Reading email messages
- Photo editing
- Writing pieces like this
- Browsing the internet
- Watching movies
The iPad is not king at:
- Referencing PDFs (once they’re marked up, viewing PDFs on a big iMac screen is far superior to viewing on iPad)
- Responding to email messages (in that, I tend to work with attachments a lot and they’re simply easier to include on a Mac)
- Working inside Microsoft Word or Excel
- Working with physical storage devices, like SD cards or USB sticks
- Working with heavy web-based apps like CaseWare RCT
- Working in VPN apps like AnyDesk
It’s clear my “not king” needs are laser-focused and specific.
But for these specific workflows, there’s no current iPad workflow that would somehow surpass the ease and efficiency of working on a Mac. I also don’t believe a magical update to iPadOS 15 in June will change that.
So, to me, the iPad is good at certain things. And the M1 likely doesn’t impact any specific “king” workflow other than photo editing.
Having an M1-enabled iPad Pro could be a boon for some people. I’m excited to read about how the new speed impacts their workflows. And I’m excited for the challenge of discerning hyperbole and marketing from actual improvements.
My guess is, no matter what comes down the pipe in June 2021 WWDC for a revolutionary iPadOS 15, I’ll still turn to the iMac for my daily work and keep the iPad for ancillary tasks.
Speaking of iMacs...
We knew this was coming.
What we didn’t know — or perhaps what I failed to see staring me right in the face — was the updated iMac design.
There have been some mixed reactions to the 2021 M1 iMac, for sure. There are many questioning the oddity of the chin. Others question the pursuit of thinness in an otherwise stationary computer. Others view the white bezels with blazoned question marks above their heads and still others aren’t fond of the new colours.
Wherever you stand, the debut of the M1 iMac is surely a sign of fun things to come.
I’m... intrigued. That’s the best way to put it.
I’m not fond of any of the colours. This is clearly a consumer-first iMac meant for households — I wouldn’t be caught dead with a bright orange iMac at the office. Thank goodness they created a silver variety that’s less obtrusive and flashy.
I’m not fond of the chin, but who am I kidding — this isn’t a dealbreaker.
I think the Pro Display XDR design making its way throughout Apple’s product lineup is to die for — nevermind how beautiful the Pro Display XDR display is, I want one on my desk simply because it looks so cool.
I’m also not fond of the larger radius corners of the new Magic Keyboard and Magic Trackpad. These new accessories look like children’s toys to my eye.
But that’s where the lack of fondness ends.
I would love to add an M1 iMac to my collection. It’d be faster than my current 2019 27-inch iMac by a country mile. The I/O would actually be easier to wield, specifically thanks to the nifty gigabit Ethernet port built into the power brick.
And the new Magic Keyboard has Touch ID. I, like so many others, type my 1Password password about 250 times a day. Skipping that step 250 times a day would free up actual minutes, which frees up actual cash.
Last thought: Where the debut of the M1 chip in the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro seemed to signify a price drop (I picked up my M1 MacBook Air with an education discount for only $1170 CAD — that’d be less than $1,000 USD), the M1 iMac seems to be more stable in terms of pricing. The price the 21.5-inch iMac left at is what you’re paying now for the new M1 iMac.
I wonder where this will leave us for the inevitable replacement for the 27-inch M2/3/4/X/Y/Z iMac in time.
I know I’m going to regret buying a 24-inch M1 iMac the moment they showcase the replacement for the 27-inch iMac. And screen real estate matters a lot to my daily workflows.
But you can bet I’ve come up with all the justifications necessary to add a 24-inch M1 iMac to my shopping cart.
What I’m Going to Buy After This Keynote
This list is tentative, barring reviews, funds, and wants:
- Two AirTags and two Apple leather keychain holders
- M1 11-inch iPad Pro after I see what happens at WWDC in June (maybe)
- 24-inch iMac three or four years from now when my children are in school and need a computer because we’re still in COVID-19
That’s a pretty cynical list.
Despite some serious innovation and excitement in the form of the M1 in the iPad and the M1 in the razor thin iMac, I don’t think I’m pulling the trigger on anything in the short term.
I ordered an Xbox Series X yesterday. Should be here next week.