The Flock: Another tech podcast


Thoughts on Apple's Latest Announcements

2 November 2018

It’s the most wonderful time of the year for Apple fans and haters alike — and the fun just got started for real at Apple’s latest media event. You almost certainly know what Apple revealed in the presentation two days ago, so Uluroo will just cut to the chase and state his impressions.

MacBook Air

As far as Uluroo can tell, it’s the MacBook Escape with Touch ID, a different processor set, and a lower price point. Surprisingly enough, Apple chose to keep the MacBook Air branding; this seems to be an attempt to play on the notebook’s history as one of Apple’s most beloved products. What remains to be seen is whether customers are happy to cough up $1199 for this iteration.

The price, the ports, and the keyboard are the only things Uluroo imagines could be obstacles to the MacBook Air’s success (it has two USB-C ports and the third-generation butterfly keyboard from the latest MacBook Pros). If it cost $999, it would be a massive hit. Again, we’ll have to wait and see how things turn out.

Mac mini

It’s externally the same as the Mac mini, save for the space gray finish. As rumors suggested, it’s very much geared toward pros. Surprise — it has vast performance improvements over its four-year-old predecessor! The $799 starting price seems nice for consumers, but pros will likely want to upgrade the processor from an Intel Core i3 to an i7 for another $300. The Mac mini is a good deal at the entry level, but note that it can get expensive quickly.

Retail update

Predictably, this was the least interesting portion of the entire event. No comment.

iPad Pro

Put simply, these appear incredibly close to being perfect devices. The early complaints about them are almost exclusively related to limitations in iOS rather than flaws with the hardware. The iPads’ design and performance have hit the sweet spot; the Apple Pencil appears vastly improved; and iOS 13 will turn the iPad into a more capable, versatile device than it has ever been.

The price is the only major issue with the iPad Pro, or at least many consumers will think it is. The 11-inch model starts at $799 — which Uluroo thinks is justifiable given how vastly improved it is over the 10.5-inch device. The 12.9-inch model, though, starts at $999. If you’re not an integer person, that’s a $200 price hike just for a bump in screen size.

Consider also that these tablets start with 64 gigabytes of internal storage. If you’re trying to use an iPad Pro as your primary computer, you’ll definitely want to get the 256GB storage tier — which costs $949 on the 11-inch model. Add a Smart Keyboard Folio (which, by the way, looks very nice) and you’re heading into MacBook Air cost territory.

Overall impressions

Regarding the prices of these new products, Uluroo isn’t trying to feed into the “Apple is doomed because prices!” narrative. The iPhone X cost strategy has worked for Apple over the past year — as iPhone average selling prices indicate — and it’s going to continue working. It’s just disappointing that these remarkable devices are being pushed out of many customers’ price ranges; but again, this is not a problem for Apple.

It’s also becoming clear that Apple is preparing for the drastic shift from Intel processors on Macs to chips designed in-house. If Uluroo remembers correctly, the name “Intel” was spoken once in the entire presentation. The A12X chip is insanely powerful, and performance tests have shown that it gives the MacBook Pro a run for its money. Apple’s silicon is getting close to outpacing Intel’s; it’s certainly improving at a much quicker rate. Uluroo expects the first entirely Apple-powered Macs to arrive in late 2020.

A note for those wondering where some other Apple products went: Uluroo anticipates a spring 2019 media event or press release wave wherein Apple announces the seventh-generation iPad, the fifth-generation iPad mini, AirPods, and AirPower.

To Uluroo, the MacBook Air and iPads Pro are far more exciting than the iPhones launched in September, and Uluroo is very eager to get down to an Apple store and check them out in person sometime after 7 November. Apple is preparing to step fully into the next age of computing — one where mobile devices are more powerful than ever and powerhouse devices are more portable than ever. We’re witnessing the next step in that direction.