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by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Jason Snell

iPad Pro 2018 review: A computer, not a PC

You have to judge a product on what it is.

In starting the pricing of the 2018 iPad Pro models at $799 and $999, in comparing the power of the A12X chip inside to PC laptops, in replacing the Lightning port of previous iOS devices with the USB-C port found on Mac and PC devices, Apple is sending a clear message: The iPad Pro is not meant to be a toy or a curiosity or an alternate device. It is just as serious a device as a computer, Apple suggests, and if that’s true we should judge it accordingly.

But just because the iPad Pro needs to be taken as seriously as a computer doesn’t mean it should be judged as a PC. The iPad is not a computer, not as the term’s been defined for the past 40 years. It’s something new and different, and it excels in some ways that PCs don’t while also struggling to do some things that PCs do well.

No, the iPad Pro can’t do everything a PC can do—nor should we expect it to, because it’s not a PC. If you choose to use an iPad Pro rather than a MacBook or a Windows laptop, you are presumably doing so because some aspect of the iPad Pro makes it more appealing than those products. In other words, there’s something else it does better than those devices, making it worth the trade-off.

Better is to judge the iPad on what it is—and where its potential lies. While it’s misguided to consider the iPad’s path incomplete until it turns itself into a PC, it’s fair to ask if the spectacular hardware Apple’s developed here is being let down by its software.

The iPad Pro isn’t a PC, and shouldn’t be judged as such. It’s something new, and different. But being new and different doesn’t mean it gets a free pass. It’s still got to measure up.

You have to judge a product on what it is.

Continue Reading "iPad Pro 2018 review: A computer, not a PC"


Podcast

Upgrade

Upgrade #219: The Chicken Just Laid an Egg

After a week with the new iPad Pro, it’s time for our in-depth review of what we like and don’t like about Apple’s latest tablet hardware. Which size is the best? Why does Jason want to cover his Smart Keyboard Folio with stickers? Does the new Apple Pencil pass Myke’s tests? And why is Jason so angry about Apple’s pro apps?

Episode linkMP3 (2 hours, 1 minute)


Jason Snell for Tom's Guide

4 iPad Features That Apple Should Bring to the iPhone ↦

Most of the time, the iPhone stands at center stage in the iOS world. But every now and then, the iPad gets a moment. With this week’s release of new iPad Pro models, people are talking about Apple’s tablet and its laptop-equivalent power and price. The debate about whether the iPad can ever truly serve as a replacement for a conventional PC rages on.

But let’s take a break from all that talk about iPads and PCs and instead ponder a different question: What is Apple doing on the iPad that could, one day, benefit the iPhone?

The new iPad Pro inherits numerous features from the iPhone X family of devices, including Face ID, shrunken-down bezels for an edge-to-edge look, a Liquid Retina display reminiscent of the iPhone XR’s screen, a version of the A12 processor and the absence of a headphone jack. But it’s also not hard to imagine the iPad leading its smaller iOS cousin in a few new product directions.

Continue reading on Tom's Guide ↦


Dan Moren for Macworld

Chips ahoy: The Mac’s transition to Apple processors is happening sooner than you think ↦

The recent Apple event in New York City had a lot going on, and we’re still working through all the new products the company showed off. But as the dust clears, there’s one lasting impression about which I feel remarkably certain.

There’s a sea change coming.

John Gruber alluded to this in his piece at Daring Fireball about the new MacBook Air:

Look at the iPad’s A12X compared to the iPhone’s A12 and you can see how much attention Apple is paying to the iPad’s system architecture. There’s no reason they won’t pay as much or more attention to the Mac’s custom silicon when they switch from Intel to their own chip designs. It should be downright glorious.

That line in the middle, delivered in a matter-of-the-fact fashion, has stuck with me. Not “if they switch.” “When.”

Like many other Apple watchers, I’m considering this transition a foregone conclusion. I’ve already put a stake in the ground that Apple will ship a Mac with custom silicon by 2020 at the absolute latest, and I stand by that.

The question is: which Mac goes first? There are, to my mind, two major contenders in this space.

Continue reading on Macworld ↦


By Dan Moren

Second Star Wars live action series will follow Cassian Andor

If it seems like just a couple weeks ago that we were getting news on Jon Favreau’s live action Star Wars series, The Mandalorian, that’s because it…was. But Disney has already announced it’s working on a second live action series set in the Star Wars universe, this one following Rogue One’s Cassian Andor. Actor Diego Luna will return to the role for the show, which will center on espionage adventures prior to the events of Rogue One, for obvious reasons.

Honestly, I was just thinking about Cassian the other day and how I was bummed we wouldn’t get more about him. That said, I’m fascinated to see how they draw his character; when we meet him in Rogue One, he’s not exactly the nicest of guys. Will this be a darker series in tone?

Given Solo’s apparently disappointing box office and the death of the Boba Fett movie, this seems to point to Disney repositioning Star Wars into a serialized TV format. (This makes three series, including the currently airing Resistance animated show, and not including the forthcoming conclusion to the Clone Wars series).

In some ways, that pivot’s no surprise, given the era of Peak TV we live in now, plus the ability to build ongoing original content for the company’s upcoming streaming service. The question is whether viewers will show up for this content in a way that they didn’t necessarily for the feature films. Right now Disney’s Episode IX is still scheduled for December 2019, and there is a trilogy in development from The Last Jedi’s Rian Johnson as well as some number of films from Game of Thrones producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss—but little is known about any of those movies.

[Dan Moren is a tech writer, novelist, podcaster, and the Official Dan of Six Colors. You can email him at dan@sixcolors.com or find him on Twitter at @dmoren.]


Podcast

The Rebound

The Rebound 212: Serf Culture

This week on the irreverent tech show where only two out of three of us are doing fake Scottish accents, we continue to take a look at Apple’s recent product announcements, including the Mac mini that can be made surprisingly pricey, the MacBook Air that confounds Apple’s laptop lineup, and even a little bit of the iPad Pro and how it hints at a future for Apple’s custom chips. Plus all of Dan’s former co-workers are disappearing inside Apple, like some sort of very monochrome horror movie.

Episode linkMP3 (47 minutes)


Linked by Dan Moren

2018 Mac mini RAM replacements feasible, but not simple

Update: The guide linked below uses some pictures from the 2014 Mac mini model, and though they are apparently similar to the 2018 in many ways, those looking to do their own upgrades will be better served by waiting for an official guide from iFixit.

Glad as we all are to see Apple didn’t solder the RAM to the motherboard in its latest Mac mini update, the process still isn’t as simple as in days of yore. Rod Bland has posted a guide on iFixit detailing the process, which requires a few specialized tools.

I’ve upgraded Mac minis in the past, and while everything is friendlier than the first models, which famously required a putty knife to open, this is yet another reminder that the days of easily upgradable computers are waning. It’ll be interesting to see what the company’s forthcoming Mac Pro looks like in this department.


Jason Snell for Macworld

The rules of magnetic attraction in Apple products ↦

magnets-pencil

There was a time when magnets were the most terrifying things in computing. Magnets erased floppy disks and tape cassettes and even hard drives. But in the modern era, magnets are our friends. Apple has used them for various important tasks over the years, from the convenient breakaway charging cable of MagSafe to the sensor that knows you’ve closed your MacBook’s lid—and the attraction that helps keep it closed.

But in the last few years, Apple has brought the rules of magnetic attraction to the Apple Watch, the iPhone, and now the iPad. How do they work? You don’t need to know to appreciate what magnets do for modern Apple devices. And that goes double for the new iPad Pro, with its 102 magnets—as cited in Apple’s launch video about the product, no less—and all of the magnetic accessories that go along with it.

Continue reading on Macworld ↦


Linked by Dan Moren

Digging into Apple’s custom silicon

Ars Technica’s Samuel Axon scored an interview with Apple’s Phil Schiller and Anand Shimpi all about Apple’s custom silicon in the new iPad Pro. It’s an interesting read, and a rare dive into the nitty gritty technical details.

The iPad Pro outperforms every MacBook Pro we tested except for the most recent, most powerful 15-inch MacBook Pro with an 8th generation Intel Core i9 CPU. Generally, these laptops cost three times as much as the iPad Pro.

“You typically only see this kind of performance in bigger machines—bigger machines with fans,” Shimpi claimed. “You can deliver it in this 5.9 millimeter thin iPad Pro because we’ve built such a good, such a very efficient architecture.”

Ars also gets into the more interesting context to these chip discussions: namely, how does Apple’s venture into custom silicon affect the future of the Mac? That remains one of the most interesting and exciting potential stories of—likely—the next year or two, so it’s interesting to pick up the breadcrumbs here and there.


Podcast

Clockwise

Clockwise #266: I’m in Dongle Heck

This week, on the 30-minute tech show that will always share its cookies with you, Dan and Mikah are joined by special guests Heather Kelly and Casey Liss to discuss products we’d like to see resurrected, how we cope with living in Dongletown, whether tech helped or hindered our voting, and tech decisions we’ve reversed ourselves on. Plus, we all learn a little something about Casey’s aspirational headwear.

Episode linkMP3 (28 minutes)


The new space gray Mac mini (top) with its silver second-generation predecessor.

By Jason Snell

Mac mini 2018 review: The Swiss army knife of Macs returns

When the Mac mini was introduced at Macworld Expo in 2005, what caught the eye was the $499 base price, the lowest price ever for a Mac 1. In an era where the iPod was in the process of entirely rehabbing the Apple brand in the eyes of the general public, the Mac mini was for switchers—people who decided that the iPod was so good, maybe a computer made by Apple would be better than whatever PC they were using right then.

It was a good idea, and I suspect that the Mac mini drove a lot of switchers—or at least got them into an Apple Store, where perhaps they ended up walking out with an iMac instead.

Apple and the Mac are in very different place today, though. Most of the Macs it sells are laptops. The concept of the low-end desktop switcher feels outmoded. (Which is not to say there aren’t any, just that there maybe aren’t as many as there might have been in 2005.)

In the intervening 13 years, the Mac mini has become something different. As the one Mac without a built-in monitor that isn’t an expensive and large Mac Pro, it’s become a bit of a Swiss army knife, fitting as a tiny Internet or file server (I’ve had a Mac mini running in my house more or less constantly for more than a decade), running lights and audio in theaters and at rock concerts, and thousands of other small niches that are vitally important for the people who live in them.

Just last week, hours after an Apple media event, I found myself in an edit bay at the offices of Stitcher in midtown Manhattan, recording a podcast. The multi-microphone, multi-display audio setup was powered by—you guessed it—a Mac mini.

Apple has witnessed how the Mac mini has gone from being the best Mac it could build for $499 to one that’s a vital tool for professional and home users in a variety of contexts. And so, after a long time in the wilderness, the Mac mini has at last been updated—the right way. The last time the Mac mini got updated, Apple took away the highest-end configurations. This time, the Mac mini has been built with those many niche uses in mind.


  1. For the record, you had to pay an additional $50 for Bluetooth, $79 for Wi-Fi, and $100 for a SuperDrive, and you could max out the Mac mini at $1200 if you tried. ↩

Continue Reading "Mac mini 2018 review: The Swiss army knife of Macs returns"


By Jason Snell

MacBook Air review: Center of the Mac world?

Think back to the fall of 2010. The iPad was just a few months old, and Apple introduced a new design for the MacBook Air. The previous model was an impressively thin and light laptop (that could famously fit in a mailing envelope), but it was expensive and had a single USB port concealed beneath a weird flip-down door. But the new models—and there were two, at 13 and 11 inches—were entirely different. They were still thin and light, but now they offered two USB ports and a new wedge-shaped design.

In that moment, the MacBook Air went from being a bit of an oddball to being the heart and soul of the Mac laptop line—and since two-thirds of Mac sales are laptops, it’s probably safe to say that the MacBook Air is the definitive Mac of this decade. For the past eight years, its exterior design has largely remained unchanged, as other products have come and gone.

Just when we thought it was dead, after several years of essentially no updates, the MacBook Air has returned with a new version that’s clearly inspired by the classic design. It’s been so long since the last major MacBook Air update, in fact, that most of the “new” features on this device are simply a recap of all the changes Apple has made to other Macs the past few years, finally rolled into this one: a new keyboard, Retina display, Force Touch trackpad, Apple-designed T2 processor, USB-C/Thunderbolt 3, “Hey Siri”, and Touch ID.

Surprise! The definitive Mac of the 2010s is going to survive this decade. And while this MacBook Air is dramatically different from previous models in many ways, it’s also got a bunch of familiar touches that make it undeniably a MacBook Air. Like its predecessors, it’s not the computer for everyone… but it will probably be the most popular laptop among the (count ‘em) six models Apple currently offers.

Continue Reading "MacBook Air review: Center of the Mac world?"


Podcast

Upgrade

Upgrade #218: Previously, on Apple Laptops

It’s review time! Hear Jason’s thoughts on the new MacBook Air and Mac mini. How do they fit in to Apple’s product line? Who are these machines for? Also: The iPhone XR - is it a ‘budget’ iPhone, or is it the right iPhone for most people?

Episode linkMP3 (1 hour, 38 minutes)


Podcast

The Incomparable

The Incomparable #431: Overture and Apes

Pick up a femur, order a moon sandwich, and always remember to bring your space helmet with you! On its 50th anniversary, Jason is joined by John Gruber, John Siracusa, Dr. Drang, Moises Chiullan, and Philip Michaels to discuss Stanley Kubrick’s classic “2001: A Space Odyssey.” What is the Monolith’s purpose? When and why does HAL become murderous? And why is there so much solarized stock footage of landscapes? Watch out for cheetahs!

Episode linkMP3 (1 hour, 57 minutes)


Dan Moren for Macworld

4 Apple products and technologies that are running out of time ↦

What is dead may never die, as the Ironborn of Game of Thrones are fond of saying. This week, Apple resurrected both the MacBook Air and the Mac mini at its event, proving that death is sometimes only a temporary state of affairs—at least where tech products are concerned.

But just as this week’s Apple event giveth, there’s also the suggestion that it might taketh away; some Apple products and technologies find themselves in limbo after the announcements of the week, meaning that the writing may perhaps be on the wall for them.

Of course, not all of these products and technologies will die immediately—some may linger on for a while yet, and a few of them may not stay dead. (As the Air and mini showed us, sometimes they’re just hibernating.) But Apple has a habit of being brutal when it comes to cutting the dead weight from its lineup, even when it comes to killing those things that it once considered its darlings.

Continue reading on Macworld ↦


Jason Snell for Macworld

Apple’s latest record quarter: Why Apple loves China but hates sales figures ↦

It’s another record quarter as a part of a record fiscal year for Apple. The revenue was nearly $63 billion, the profit more than $14 billion, and for the year Apple generated $265 billion in revenue and nearly $60 billion in profit. It’s the company’s eighth straight quarter of revenue growth, and that growth has accelerated every one of those quarters. This is a healthy company; you couldn’t find a healthier one if you tried.

Yes, Apple’s stock is getting hit because its guidance—the amount of money it expects to make during the current quarter—is actually slightly below what Wall Street analysts were expecting. For the record, the revenue Apple has guided to—between $89 and $93 billion—would be the most revenue Apple has ever generated in a quarter, and somewhere between 1 and 5 percent growth. In other words, get ready for another record Apple quarter, because this one’s shaping up to be huge.

As always, it’s worth reading between the lines of the federally-mandated financial disclosure tables and listening to the specifics of the company’s ritual phone call with financial analysts to see what else is on the company’s mind. Here are a few things that I noticed.

Continue reading on Macworld ↦


By Jason Snell

This is Tim: A transcript of the Apple Q4 2018 analyst call

[Here’s a complete transcript of Thursday’s Apple call with analysts.]

Tim Cook: Good afternoon everyone and thanks for joining us. I just got back from Brooklyn where we marked our fourth major launch event of the year. In addition to being a great time it put an exclamation point at the end of a remarkable fiscal 2018. This year we shipped our two billionth iOS device, celebrated the 10th anniversary of the App Store, and achieved the strongest revenue and earnings in Apple’s history.

Continue Reading "This is Tim: A transcript of the Apple Q4 2018 analyst call"


By Jason Snell

Apple results: A record September quarter with $62.9B revenue

Apple reported the results from its fiscal fourth quarter Thursday, saying it generated $62.9 billion in revenue, with Services revenue reaching an all-time high of $10 billion. iPhone sales were up slightly over the same quarter last year, but iPhone revenue during the same period was up 29 percent. Mac sales dropped 2 percent but Mac revenues rose 3 percent. iPad unit sales fell 6 percent and iPad revenues dropped 19 percent.

A phone call with analysts is forthcoming. We’ll be here with llive coverage of the analyst call, and more. And yes, if you want to be in on the excitement of the analyst call 1, you can listen to it too.


  1. When Tim says “this is Tim” or “customer sat” you have to drink. When analysts ask for “more color”, an Apple exec drinks. ↩

Continue Reading "Apple results: A record September quarter with $62.9B revenue"


Podcast

The Rebound

The Rebound 211: My Virtual Finger

There wasn’t a lot of coverage on this week’s Apple event—you probably haven’t even heard about it. Good for you, then, that we’ve got in-depth reactions recorded directly after its conclusion! Hear us wax rhapsodic about the new iPad Pro, MacBook Air, and Mac mini, even as we discover facts while we record. Or, in other words, our usual blend of nonsense and tomfoolery.

Episode linkMP3 (42 minutes)


By Dan Moren

Stuck on macOS 10.14? Here’s the fix to get to 10.14.1

I’ve been participating in Apple’s Public Beta programs for both iOS and macOS for the last couple years, and generally it’s been a pretty smooth experience. But there’s often some trickiness when it comes to getting off the beta—and this year, that’s where I hit a speed bump.

When macOS 10.14.1 arrived yesterday, I fired up Software Update—newly relocated in Mojave to a pane in System Preferences—to install it on my MacBook Air. Lo and behold, however, Software Update insisted that my current version of macOS Mojave 10.14 was the most recent, and no updates would be forthcoming, thank you very much.

I’ve heard of issues like this in the past, so I cast about to find a download link to the standalone updater, which was graciously provided by Twitter follower Paul. Problem solved!

Or so I thought. See, when I opened up the installer, I was met with another roadblock: an error message telling me that my Air “does not meet the requirements for this update,” with no further information. More and more puzzling.

update-fail

I was fairly confident that the root of the issue here was something to do with having been in the Public Beta program. I’ve heard of others being stuck with dead-end builds of an OS and a tweet from Eric Holtam seemed to confirm that the build I was using, 18a389, wasn’t eligible for the update. I tried re-enrolling in the Public Beta program, restarting my Mac, then unenrolling and restarting again to see if it would point me towards the right update, but no dice.

So, what’s a guy to do? I contacted Apple Support, whose less than helpful suggestions were either a) roll back to a Time Machine backup from before I enrolled in the Public Beta and then install the update (less than ideal, since I would lose any files created after that backup or modifications to other files), or b) do a full restore and start from there. 1

Neither of those were terribly appealing options, so I went for door number three: download the macOS Mojave installer from the App Store. I figured I would download it, reinstall Mojave to the shipping build of 10.14, and then install the 10.14.1 update on top of it.

In fact, it worked better than expected—downloading the Mojave installer kicked me back to the Software Update pane and informed me that I’d be downloading and installing the official build of 10.14.1. And half an hour and several progress bars later, here I am, on the latest update, safe and sound. And hopefully on a stable build that won’t run into this problem in the future.

So, if you’re likewise suffering from a case of no-update-itis, get thee to the Mac App Store post haste and try the Mojave installer. It sure beats restoring from a backup.


  1. When I expressed some frustration about this, I was reminded that I shouldn’t be installing the Public Beta on a mission-critical machine. Fair enough. I’m not sure why some builds get dead-ended like this, but if it’s just an oversight on Apple’s part, seems like something that could be fixed.  ↩

[Dan Moren is a tech writer, novelist, podcaster, and the Official Dan of Six Colors. You can email him at dan@sixcolors.com or find him on Twitter at @dmoren.]