Behind the Scenes of Apple’s new iMac and ‘Magic’ accessories

Really great read and behind the scenes look at today’s Apple product release by Steven Levy over at Medium:

There are many reasons why Apple is the world’s most valuable company. Tim Cook is celebrated as a supply chain Maester who has internalized the focus on innovation that his predecessor inculcated in the culture. Jony Ive has drawn global raves for making Apple a design icon. Its marketing and branding practices set industry standards. But a visit to the lab where its legacy products — computers — are made suggests another reason.

Sweating the details.

I love this piece. Great read. 

Apple introduces 4K iMac (21.5″), Magic Keyboard, Magic Mouse 2 and Magic Trackpad 2

Earlier today, Apple announced a new 21.5″ iMac with 4K Retina Display along with updates to the 27″ line and the removal of non-Retina 27″ iMacs from the line up. Additionally, newly designed versions of the Magic Trackpad, Magic Mouse and Magic Keyboard were also announced, with new features and lighting charging. Apple says of the newly released products: 

The idea behind iMac has never wavered: to craft the ultimate desktop experience. The best display, paired with high-performance processors, graphics, and storage — all within an incredibly thin, seamless enclosure. And that commitment continues with the all-new 21.5‑inch iMac with Retina 4K display. Like the revolutionary 27‑inch 5K model, it delivers such spectacular image quality that everything else around you seems to disappear. Adding up to the most immersive iMac experience yet — and another big, beautiful step forward.

Shame they couldn’t fit this into the fall Keynote. Some nice upgrades here.  Also great, their “Then and Now” page.

The iPad Pro and the Toaster-Fridge

Mark D. Mill with some smart thoughts on iPad Pro and how Apple is trying to redefine the iPad:

iPad Pro furthers the separation of iPhone OS and iPad OS as it enables two full-screen apps, a special port for an external keyboard, and ApplePen. Each element is designed to take advantage of the form of iPad’s large screen and enable functionality that simply would not be possible on iPhone. iPad Pro demonstrates the differentiation that is possible when it is allowed to be true to its form and not merely follow after iPhone. For iPad to succeed, Apple needs to focus on a third OS for mobile and free the iPad from iPhone-dependency so that ti can be true to its form. By developing independent software, hardware, and services,9 iPad will be differentiated by more than its screen size and do what only it can do. Only then can the toaster and fridge be separated.

Let’s hope iOS 10 brings along a new vision for the iPad – aka iPad OS. Also maybe a “macOS” rather than OS X 10.12. Let’s see how they push each platform forward come June 2016. 

Exploring 3D Touch

Interesting and detailed exploration of 3D Touch over on Medium by R. Kevin Nelson:

I was pretty giddy when Apple revealed 3D Touch at their September event. In a past work-life, I was working with TouchCo’s developer kit at around the same time that Roger Linn was experimenting with the ideas that would become the Linnstrument. TouchCo got bought, my project morphed from hardware to software as the company turned into Zya, and I moved onto other things, putting the interest and ambition in gesture control on the backburner.

Replacing an iMac

Heartbreakingly poignant piece over at DIMSUMTHINKING from way back in 2011. I found this on the web somewhat accidentally and was taken back by how unexpectedly emotional it became. I enjoyed it immensely and I hope you do too. A taste below:

I’m sure when you’re an Apple engineer heads down in a room grinding out code you can lose sight of the people you are building these products for. You could. I’m just glad you don’t. I’m grateful to every Apple engineer who took the time to make this machine powerful enough or me to use every day and easy enough for my daughters to do everything they can dream of doing.

Highly recommended read. 

Microsoft introduces a faster horse, broken legs included

I have been quite torn on Microsoft’s new product unveiling. Parts of them seem inspired and (perhaps) even well thought out, but overall it seems that Microsoft still is making the same mistake. Not only are they alienating allied PC vendors in a bid to win over Apple’s high end customers, they seem to lack an understanding of why Apple earned those users in the first place.

There is a great piece that reflects how I feel about Microsoft’s new products, by the talented Matt Birchler on BirchTree (rocking a beautiful new design to boot!):

The Surface Pro 4 was just released, and the PC world is basically losing its mind over it. It’s fast, has a nice screen, can be packed with RAM and storage (up to 16GB RAM and 1TB hard drive), and looks relatively nice. On paper, this looks like it blows Apple’s soon to be released iPad Pro out of the water. And while it is kid of crazy that you can get a tablet with those type of specs ($2,699 for those specs), it fails at doing what makes the iPad Pro so special.

Right on the money. At the moment, tons of people are fawning over the Surface 4 and the Surface Book (strange hinge design included) and forgetting that while Windows 10 is a big step up from 8 and 8.1, it is really more because it takes us back to earlier desktop friendly interfaces (ala Windows XP and 7) rather than doing a anything all that new. 

Windows 8/8.1 weren’t great, but they certainly were new. They just were not particularly well thought out or easy to use. There is a reason Apple refuses to merge OS X and iOS. Microsoft might want a unified Windows brand, but they seem to misunderstand the compromises they are making by fusing it all together.

I suspect that, as mentioned in this piece, iPad Pro will triumph in experience regardless of specs. Matt nails this point in the piece during this particularly insightful portion of his article:

But Microsoft thinks that there is no need to change. They are throwing faster hardware at the same old operating system we’ve always had. They say that Windows 10 is a “no compromises” OS, but that’s not true. They can make live tiles show a little data and they can make buttons a little bigger so your fingers can touch them, but that doesn’t change the fact that Windows 10 is a desktop operating system at heart, and it comes with all the baggage of a desktop OS.

Underestimating Apple Watch

Launch has passed. Hype has died down. Stock is solid. All eyes are on iPhone, Apple TV 4, iPad Pro, new 4K iMacs (yet to be unveiled) and a long rumored and unconfirmed Apple Car. It would seem few folks are still buzzing about Apple Watch, after so many months of buildup and anticipation. As I mentioned in my original review of Apple Watch: 

I am (as you might have noticed) incredibly happy with Apple Watch. Sure, I am biased – but I’m also honest. It is not what I expected – in all the best ways. It is not a necessity by any means – yet – but one day, it seriously might be. Just like the iPhone has changed our society, the watch just might too. It has subverted my expectations for what a watch can be and what it can and should do. It is still a young product and there’s tons of things that Apple can do to make it even better. It is a very compelling start. 

I highly recommend using the Apple Watch each and everyday for an extended period of time. There is no one perfect way to use it. I can not imagine life without it. It just may change your life. It changed mine.

I still believe in and love using Apple Watch and I think people are underestimating its potential and what it will be in the future. 

Over at Above Avalon, Neil Cybart makes the case and lays out similar ideas on how and why the Apple Watch is being underestimated:

The Apple Watch contains too much promise and potential to question it’s long-term viability as a product category. It is becoming clear that the device was dealt a bad hand when it comes to early expectations, being compared too much to its very successful siblings – the iPhone and iPad. However, when looking at all of the various data points, estimates, and trends, it becomes clear that the Apple Watch is doing much better than it seems. We are living in an iPhone world with Apple expected to sell more than 250 million iPhones over the next 12 months. The iPhone 6s and 6s Plus position the iPhone that much closer to becoming someone’s sole computer. In such a world, the Apple Watch likely has a role in handling some of the more simple tasks that were once given to iPhones, in addition to being given an expanding list of use cases that revolve around identity, monitoring, and personality. In a world moving towards more personal technology, Apple Watch has a place. It’s time to stop underestimating Apple Watch.

Highly recommended reading. Neil always has a great take on everything Apple.