So Apple has finally announced the first Macs that will run on Apple Silicon. To be specific, there is a new MacBook Air, MacBook Pro 13", and a new Mac Mini. And they all have the new M1.
This is still early on, and there's bound to be more information as time goes on, and as people eventually receive their machines. But, it leaves me with some questions regarding the M1, Apple's idea behind the Mac lineup, and Apple Silicon in general.
Is an M1 always an M1?
With all three new Macs having the M1 chip, I assumed that the only difference in power would be related to how much power it uses, and the thermal capacity of the machine. As in the Mac Mini is plugged in constantly, so it can draw more power. And the MacBook Air doesn't have a fan, so it needs to maintain a lower temperature.
But while it appears that the M1 is the same across the models, there is one machine which has a slight variant. The cheapest MacBook Air for some reason has an M1 with a 7-core GPU. And all of the other machines have an 8-core GPU.
So are all M1 chips the same? Does the "7-core GPU" variant actually have 8-cores, but one's switched off? Or did they literally make two options of the same chip, with 1 GPU core being the difference? If they are physically different, is does M1 represent a chip family?
Is CPU configuration now dead?
With the new M1s being the same, apart from the weird MacBook Air situation, there is now one less thing you can configure when purchasing a Mac.
Sure, you have the option of a 7-core or 8-core GPU on your MacBook Air, but this is not configurable in the same way that memory and storage are.
Maybe from now on, the chip will determine the model. And if Apple does start to separate Mac models by chip variants, will we ever be told more about them apart from the number of cores and the iteration?
What chip will be in the next tier of Macs?
Even if we class the Mac mini, MacBook Air, and MacBook 13" models as being transitioned to Apple Silicon, there are still four more models that run exclusively on Intel chips, the MacBook Pro 16", iMac, iMac Pro, and the Mac Pro.
I think they will obviously feature higher performant chips than the current M1 chips that are available. But I wonder how far they will go, and at what rate. Because although the MacBook Pro 16" is a laptop, it's the high-end model, and will therefore need to be much more powerful than the 13".
But when it comes to the other three models, they all have one benefit over the laptops, in that they have a constant power source. And the Mac Pro can go even further due to it's larger size.
Apple said they wanted to transition the whole Mac platform to Apple Silicon in around 2 years. But I wonder if this means only having Apple Silicon Macs available, or just by having an Apple Silicon option of every Mac, while still selling various Intel variants.
How many chip variants will Apple sell at once?
This isn't exactly a major question, but it will be interesting to see how many Apple Silicon chips will be available to buy at a single time.
When the whole platform has transitioned, I wonder if at one point they will all run the same M class chip with variants on certain models. And at what rate are they upgraded?
The iPhone chips are updated every year, so it will be good to see the same behaviour for M chips. Although would that mean every Mac gets updated every year? Or just certain models?
Is the memory limit a problem?
The Macs that have the M1 chip are all limited to a maximum 16GB memory. That doesn't seem great to me, since the Intel MacBook Pro 13" supports up to 32GB memory, double its replacement.
Maybe this is a technical limitation? I thought initially that it was a limitation from the M1 chip, but I've also seen suggestions that it's due to the type of memory, or even due to the heat generated from larger amounts of memory. So it could even be a product decision.
And although the limit is pretty small, will it actually be a problem? iPhones have much less ram than Android phones, and they're by no means slow. So maybe the tight integration of Apple Silicon and macOS will create the same benefit, and memory will go further on Apple Silicon than an Intel equivalent.
These are the questions I have right now, and I bet there's a load more that others want to be answered too. We'll simply have to wait and see what happens.
I'm not sure what has gotten into Apple recently, but they seem to have developed an aversion for including power adapters with products that require power adapters.
The reason for not including it in the new iPhones is supposed to be environmental. I don't fully believe that, but I'll let that one slide for now.
The fact they remove the power adapter from already existing products, without altering the price, tells you that it's not fully environmental reasons.
But when you think that one of the biggest features of the new iPhones is MagSafe, you would expect that a lot of people will be purchasing a MagSafe cable. That MagSafe cable costs £39. It also doesn't come with the required 20W power adapter. That comes separately at a cost of £19. So, £58 for a cable and power adapter which is meant to be the new way of charging your phone.
When looking into the Watch charging options, I came across the Apple Watch Magnetic Charging Dock, which I had completely forgotten about. Released in 2015, it's essentially the charging disc of the Watch charger, but at a 90° angle, on top of a small circular base. And that will set you back £75. It requires the old 5W power adapter, and that will cost you another £19. So all together, it costs £94 for an Apple branded Apple Watch charging dock.
Coming soon is the MagSafe Duo charger, a small foldable case which contains a typical MagSafe wireless charger, and a magnetic Watch charger. To use this charger, you use a single Lightning to USB C cable, plugged into the 20W power adapter. Except again, the power adapter doesn't come in the box. Alongside the £129 it costs for the charger, you will again need to spend another £19 on the power adapter, bringing this solution to £148.
I'm not sure if Apple is trying to make this a new normal, where products that require power adapters simply do not come with them. But to me, it seems absolutely ridiculous.
I’ll start with the fact that I’ve not been the Apple Watch’s biggest fan for a while. I’ve used a Series 0 and Series 3, but for quite a few months I’ve been watch free.
In my ideal scenario, I’d like Apple to offer a smart band instead of a full watch. But I’ve come to terms that it’s probably not going to happen any time soon. And in a weird U-turn, I ended up ordering a Series 6 yesterday in size 101.
The watch I ordered was a 44mm Space Grey Aluminium one with a Charcoal Braided Solo Loop. And it was because of a few reasons:
The new blood oxygen sensor. Maybe not impressive on its own, but I think having that and the heart rate monitor, the health/fitness capabilities will increase massively.
watchOS 7. I haven’t had a good look at watchOS 7 before this event, and I was really surprised to see how good it was. Especially the new watch faces. (Matt Birchler has a great review on watchOS 7).
Going back to work. A big reason why I stopped wearing the watch was because of the lockdown, and that I was no longer commuting to work anymore. Well, I’m going to have to start again soon, and I used my watch a ton while on the way or at work.
The new straps. The new Loop and Braided Loop straps are really nice. I found it really annoying that the buckle of the Sports Loop always dug into my wrist, so that’s definitely a good thing.
It’s a decent upgrade. As my last watch was the Series 3, the changes over the past three years have added up to become quite a large improvement. So I’m just generally interested in what an Apple Watch can do for me now.
A lot of people have been crying out for a single Apple subscription for quite some time now, and we’ve finally got one. It’s totally the right time for such a bundle. Especially with the new Fitness+ service coming soon. As Apple have been able to create three different plans with up to six different services.
I think the way they’ve split the plans make sense. One for the user that wants the fundamental services of music, television, and games. The same but for families. And one big plan for people that simply want everything. And they’re all topped off with different amounts of iCloud storage.
The iCloud storage probably won’t be one that draws people in, but I think people will definitely see the benefit of the extra storage once they use it.
I’m not sure what I’m going to be doing myself regarding Apple One. Because right now I pay for Apple Music, tv+, and 200 GB of iCloud storage. The 200 GB costs £2.49 a month, tv+ costs £4.99 a month, and I still somehow get student discount, so I pay only £4.99 for Apple Music. A total of £12.47. Less than any of the Apple One plans.
Maybe if I lose the Apple Music discount, then it would make sense. But I’d also have to pay extra for higher iCloud storage. I was hoping that I could use a bundle to try out News+, but £29.95 seems a bit much for my usage. Because I certainly won’t be using Fitness+, and I’ve already cancelled my Apple Arcade subscription because I wasn’t playing any of the games.
The new Apple Watch Series 6 is here (I’ve already ordered mine). But before I write up my thoughts on everything that was announced, I thought I’d play around with the sizes for the new watch straps, seeing as the new Solo Loop and Braided Solo Loop come in 9 sizes (Although the size guide has 12?). Mainly because I wanted to see if I see any interesting trends, but also, why not?
So it turns out that it’s not as simple as having a representative “Apple” size for a range of measurements. Instead, there are ranges for every strap size, and also one specific millimetre-precise measurement for every strap size that has two “fits”. A precise fit, which they say is for active lifestyles, and a relaxed fit for everyday use. They always recommend the precise fit.
Here are how wrist sizes relate to the new strap size:
Wrist Size (cm)
12.6 ≦ 13.1
Precise (Recommended): 1 Relaxed: 2
13.3 ≦ 13.7
Precise (Recommended): 2 Relaxed: 3
13.9 ≦ 14.3
Precise (Recommended): 3 Relaxed: 4
14.5 ≦ 14.9
Precise (Recommended): 4 Relaxed: 5
15.1 ≦ 15.6
Precise (Recommended): 5 Relaxed: 6
15.8 ≦ 16.3
Precise (Recommended): 6 Relaxed: 7
16.5 ≦ 17
Precise (Recommended): 7 Relaxed: 8
17.2 ≦ 17.7
Precise (Recommended): 8 Relaxed: 9
17.9 ≦ 18.4
Precise (Recommended): 9 Relaxed: 10
18.6 ≦ 19.1
Precise (Recommended): 10 Relaxed: 11
19.3 ≦ 19.8
Precise (Recommended): 11 Relaxed: 12
20 ≦ 20.6
As you can see the sizes span from 12.6 cm to 20.6 cm. But the Loop Solo and Braided Loop Solo only come in sizes 3 to 12, so the sizes are actually from 13.9 cm to 20.6 cm. If your wrist is smaller or bigger, you’re going to have to find another strap.
While that data is interesting (and maybe useful), I wondered if I could find anything else from the data. So I flipped the columns and simplified the data to represent a precise fit as being inclusive in the relevant sizes.
Wrist Size (cm)
12.6 ≦ 13.2
13.3 ≦ 13.8
13.9 ≦ 14.4
14.5 ≦ 15.0
15.1 ≦ 15.7
15.8 ≦ 16.4
16.5 ≦ 17.1
17.2 ≦ 17.8
17.9 ≦ 18.5
18.6 ≦ 19.2
19.3 ≦ 19.9
20 ≦ 20.6
To be honest, I didn’t see anything useful here. But I did work out that the first two sizes have a range of 0.7 cm, the next 3 sizes have a range of 0.6 cm, and the latter 7 have a range of 0.7 cm. I had a theory that the bigger the strap is, it makes sense that it would be able to stretch to a larger size. But I was expecting to see a higher variability.
Apple’s next event is just around the corner and seeing as it’s very much expected that the event will focus on the Apple Watch. Which, alongside journalists, is suggested by the name of the event, ‘Time Flies’.
The Apple Watch has certainly been a strange product for me. I had the very first model, and absolutely loved it. I eventually bought a series 3, and I was certainly still enjoying using it. But that all changed at the start of this year, when I stopped wearing it completely. I tried to start wearing it again recently, this time with no notifications, or third-party apps, but it still wasn’t a product that I wanted in my life anymore.
But for a while now, there has been a similar product that I’ve had in mind, that I would like from Apple. And that would be a smart band. Not a smartwatch. There are tons of smart bands available now, and they all have their own collection of features, whether it’s fitness tracking, receiving phone calls, listening to music, etc. But I want one from Apple. Partially because I’m a big fan of Apple products, but also because I’m heavily invested in the ecosystem. And any other smart band might have the features I want in principle, but it probably won’t ever be as integrated as something that Apple could make themselves.
Essentially, I want an Apple Watch, but without nearly everything that comes with the Apple Watch. I don’t want a big screen, third-party apps, notifications, or ability to make phone calls. Ideally, the benefit of this product would be that it wouldn’t be directly used. I want a device that acts as a constant health and fitness sensor, and feeds that data back to my other devices, whether it’s directly to my iPhone, or even with its own connect to iCloud.
In total, these are the features that I want this ideal product to have:
Takes form as a strap/bracelet, that’s around the same size as a typical smart band.
A small display used to show time, date, and maybe a few small health metrics such as heart rate.
Ability to upload data via nearby devices, or via a WiFi connection.
Long battery life.
It could be that this product is so “basic”, that there’s no reason why Apple would create such a device. But there’s certainly a market for it. Call it the Apple Watch Mini, or the Apple Watch Strap for all I care. I just want a smart band, that’s designed and built by Apple, that works perfectly with my other Apple devices.
Apart from that dream device. I can’t say I’m that excited about anything else from the event. Unless they give hints about the next iPhone or do something unexpected of course. There’s a lot of rumours regarding a new iPad, but my mind is set on a new iPad Pro, so I assume I’ll have to wait a little longer for that.
Simply, I want Apple to allow third party payments in apps. This does not have to turn the App Store into some sort of hellscape where card details are stolen on the regular and no one wants to buy anything anymore because it’s so bad.
E-commerce has grown a ton over the last decade, and it’s grown almost as much in the past 6 months all over again. People buy things online all the time, and modern tools allow merchants to collect that data securely. I’d love to see that come to the App Store, but in ways that only Apple can do.
I like everything he proposes here, especially a “PaymentKit” API, which would allow some form of conformity to a standard, while offering a greater level of freedom to app developers. Mainly because other payment platforms would be able to offer their own options as SDKs to app developers, giving them and the end customers more choice.
Just adding this framework wouldn’t mean an immediate fix to the issue regarding payments inside apps. However, it would lay the groundwork needed for a more competitive marketplace. And with more competition, there will be an incentive to offer a better solution for developers and customers.
Remember my theory that Google has grown bored with Android and doesn’t really care about it? That’s me talking about phones, which, in general, Google does care about insofar as they know that billions of people spend hours per day every day using them. With wearables Google never even cared in the first place, except for making goofy demo concepts like Google Glass. The customers who bought Wear OS devices care about them; the company that designed them clearly does not. If they cared, how could it be that you can’t listen to Google’s music platform on Google’s wearable platform?
He goes on to mention that it’s actually bad for the Apple ecosystem, since there’s no real competition. And even as someone who has stopped wearing an Apple Watch, I still agree that there is no real other worthy alternative.
I don’t think it’s just smartwatch market where Apple seems to be miles ahead of the competition as well. You just need to have a think about what the real options are for a tablet computer. Nothing else even comes close to iPad.
Furthermore, I think the problem is even bigger than just the smartwatch and tablet market. Because when you think about smartphones, there’s only two major players. Which means there’s no real need for innovation anymore, all you need to do is match and/or slightly out do the other player. I really want a third player to join the smartphone game, and have a real go at it. But then again, I can see why they wouldn’t. Apple and Google have both got massive head starts, and ecosystems already exist for both platforms. Sure, Android is bigger than just Google, and there are loads of companies creating their own Android phone. But that still doesn’t provide any real competition.
If you’re interested in Apple, or you simply follow tech news, then you’ll probably be aware of the rumour that Apple may not include a power adapter and EarPods in the box with the 2020 iPhone models. If you’re somehow in the weird intersection of not following iPhone news, but do read this my blog, then I’d recommend Sam Byford’s piece on The Verge as a brief introduction.
I’ll prefix everything in this post with the fact that this is just a rumour. So while it’s getting a lot of attention, it’s not official. Therefore every reaction to this is purely based on a hypothetical situation.
My opinions on this rumour are predominantly based around the potential lack of power adapter in the box. Not specifically because I don’t care about EarPods. I mean, I don’t care about EarPods. But that’s not the reason I see them as two separate scenarios to be discussed. The obvious distinction is that you need to be able to charge the iPhone to be able to use it, and EarPods are an optional accessory.
I haven’t used EarPods since I got a copy of the very first AirPods. In fact, the pair of EarPods that I got in my most recent iPhone two years ago, the EarPods went straight to my girlfriend. Who incidentally is starting to think about making the switch to AirPods as well. So while my sentiment is more than likely clouded my by own bias, I don’t think not including EarPods with every iPhone is a big deal. Simply because they are not required for typical use, and I bet a lot of people don’t use them at all. And that could also be for a few reasons, maybe they don’t need EarPods because they have a third-party option already, or maybe they already have a pair from their last iPhone, or maybe they just don’t use earphones at all. Nevertheless, I would assume that the people that really want to get a new pair of EarPods when they get a new phone, would most likely be willing to purchase them separately. Or that the amount that would mind, wouldn’t be a large enough of a percentage to matter.
The power adapter, however, is a completely different story. Because without one, you wouldn’t be able to use your phone after the battery ran out. Sounds pretty stupid, doesn’t it? Imagine paying a huge amount for a phone, only to find out that you need to buy a power adapter separately. That’s going to get you some bad press. And surely a lot of confused and angry customers. It certainly sounds like a case of Apple being greedy.
However, that reaction would most likely only be the case if Apple didn’t include a power adapter in the box, but offered no reason why, and let customers pay extra for it. And like most situations, there would probably be a lot more nuance that can’t be captured by a headline.
Because let’s face it, most people that buy the iPhone probably don’t need another power adapter. And in a lot of cases, it will be left in the box, which obviously means unnecessary waste. In Dieter Bohn’s piece on The Verge about the situation, he quotes an interview in 2018 between Nilay Patel and Steven Yang, the CEO of Anker, where Yang estimated the level of waste from smartphones that include a charger in the box:
[Say] every smartphone has a charger with it. We had 1.5 billion smartphones that shipped last year. … That’s only for phones. When we have tablets, laptops, power drills, [and more], we estimate a total of four billion chargers (were shipped last year). We estimate about 300,000 tons of e-waste just from these in-box chargers.
So there’s the environmental angle that Apple could push, which to be honest is something that Apple likes to do. But I still think that if they simply said “Most people don’t use the power adapter that we include in the box, so to reduce waste we’re not giving you one”, then they will still get a ton of bad reviews. And for a CEO that loves his “customer sat”, I’m not sure if he would do that. Or at least, I don’t think he would do something as simple as explaining it was better for the environment and leave it like that.
I think the general angle will be on reducing waste, but in my opinion, there are a few different potential benefits:
Obviously, the lack of EarPods and power adapters means less waste for people that wouldn’t use them.
If the box contains just the iPhone (and all the paperwork), then the box can be really small. That’s a good win for waste reduction, but it also benefits the logistics side of things as more boxes will be able to fit in a smaller area.
This may or may not be passed down to the customer, but the costs would be reduced. Meaning higher margins, or lower prices.
This is just a thought, but maybe by not including a pair of EarPods in the box, if they do decide they want a pair of earphones/headphones, they may decide to buy something more upmarket. Maybe a pair of AirPods, or even a pair of Beats. The same could also apply to power adapters.
There’s also one more thing that probably isn’t a real benefit to anyone, but I think it makes things simpler. Well, maybe more so for the EarPods. Because if you buy an iPad or Mac, you don’t get a pair of EarPods. I’m not sure if that thought process works regarding the power adapter but is certainly takes the product to it’s most essential form (Apart from going as far as removing the need for a power adapter, but I’ll get to that later).
Alongside the potential benefits, there are also potential drawbacks:
First-time buyers will need to purchase a separate power adapter.
Even current iPhone owners that are buying a new iPhone may need a new power adapter or EarPods, so they are in the same situation as first-time buyers.
Damage to Apple’s reputation. They’re already thought to be a greedy company by some, and the products are expensive. So this will only make that worse.
If people have to purchase a separate power adapter and earphones, then that purchase might not be made through Apple. Meaning they lose out on potential revenue.
I’m sure there are more pros and cons to the potential situation, but that’s what’s in my mind. And to be honest, my first reaction to it was a negative one. It seemed like such a fundamentally stupid idea that you could buy a smartphone, and have it not come with a power adapter in the box. Because at the face of it, it’s absolutely a dumb thing to do.
Having said that, I then read other articles about it, including M.G. Siegler’s, and also watched MKBHD’s video, and my mind started to change. I decided to step back and truly take a look at how Apple could deal with the situation, and I’m starting to think that’s there’s a potential to do it well. So I’ve come up with a few things that I think Apple could do to make the best out of it, some of them better than others. They won’t be able to do them all, but maybe just one of them, or even a mix would be beneficial.
Reduce the cost. Simply subtract the retail price of the EarPods and a suitable power adapter away from the cost of an iPhone, and have them available as optional extras on the product page. This one would be difficult to see on its own though, seeing as by subtracting the retail price would be reducing the margins of the iPhone. So it would have to be part of a bigger story about reducing the cost of an iPhone or adjusted slightly to make it possible.
Offer a discount for a power adapter or earphones/headphones. Probably the most obvious idea. But, essentially if Apple wants to sell the iPhone as a device-only package, by offering a discount on EarPods or the power adapter that would have typically come in the box, then at least customers have a less annoying solution if they really wanted one of those. Then the message becomes a bit more friendly, and not as if the decision is purely about trying to make customers pay full price for every accessory.
Don’t change the default configuration but let customers “opt-in” to not having EarPods or a power adapter included. This way no-one is negatively affected. In fact, it only benefits people that don’t want these “extras” and would be happy for them not to be included in the box. Although this would make logistics more complicated, as there would need to be flexibility for the product to come with different things in the box.
Have different configurations of each iPhone. In a similar vein to the previous idea, Apple could have multiple “default” configurations of each iPhone. If they did it this way, you probably wouldn’t be able to have all four options (with/without either EarPods or a power adapter), so it might just be that you get the iPhone as we expect, and a “device only” option.
Differentiate based on the model. One way to try and please more people is to decide on a model-by-model basis. It just allows for slightly finer control and has a chance to give more people a better default. My first thought was that maybe the base iPhone would just be the device, but maybe the “Pro” model would include EarPods and a power adapter. However, I can imagine it wouldn’t be as simple as that. Seeing as you might find that customers that opt for the more expensive model, might also have their alternatives, so you’d be benefitting the wrong side. I’m sure Apple would have more data on this, so if for example they knew that the majority of customers for a certain model threw their power adapters away, then they could make the decision specifically for that model. It has the potential to be messy. But one example that I think may work, is singling out the cheaper model, which right now is the iPhone SE, and having the “main” set of iPhones device only.
Go full-on configurable. One way to ensure each customer gets what they want is to let them configure every part of it. So instead of having one default configuration for the iPhone, or even just having the option to include a power adapter or not. What if, when you went to buy an iPhone, you could choose from the usual model, colour, and storage size, expand that to audio, charging, and maybe even a few other types of accessories. For example, Apple wouldn’t be removing EarPods, they would simply be letting you choose from having nothing, EarPods, AirPods, Beats, and maybe select third-party options. The same applies to charging as well, maybe you don’t need another power adapter, but at the same time, you might want to buy a 5w charger, a fast charger, or even a Qi charger. So instead of the story being Apple removing things from the iPhone box, it becomes a story about Apple giving customers more freedom and flexibility to choose what’s right for them.
After thinking about all of these ideas, and potential ways Apple could handle the situation, I’m not 100% certain what I would do. As it stands now, I think the best solution is to lean into the idea around letting users personalise their iPhone package, and making everything configurable. But that would need to be coupled with discounted options for things like EarPods and power adapters.
However, I am aware that if I was in charge of this decision at Apple, then I’m sure I would have totally different motives behind the decision. For example, if it was to increase the margin on the iPhone, to reduce electronic waste, or even because they want to encourage more people to make the switch to Qi or AirPods. But as I don’t know Apple’s motives, I can only offer an outside perspective on the situation.
It all changes though if the iPhone didn’t need a power adapter, or at least what we expect as a power adapter, a cable and a plug. What if the iPhone only charged via a Qi-compatible For example, what if the iPhone had no ports? And you had to have a Qi-compatible charger. Then it would be a whole new set of circumstances to deal with. And maybe all of this is simply preparing people for that future. But that debate will have to wait another day.
Apple has recently licensed fonts from type foundries such as Commercial Type, Klim Type Foundry and Mark Simonson Studio to be used as system fonts on Mac OS Catalina. But since these fonts are an optional download, many users of Mac OS X are not even aware they have access to them for free.
To see and install these optional fonts, open the FontBook application and switch to “All Fonts”. Browse the font list and you will see lots of font families that are greyed out—either because they were deactivated or they weren’t downloaded yet. If you right-click on a font or font family that wasn’t downloaded yet, you see an option to download the individual font or entire family.
Who would have thought there was essentially “hidden” fonts in Catalina? I certainly wouldn’t.