October 2018 Apple Event

Apple Logo Sketched in Green

Two of the three products announced at the October 2018 Apple event had been waiting in anguish for many, many years for an update. The ever so popular MacBook Air had not received any major updates for almost 3 years and the Mac Mini at over 4 years. Both of which served as entry points to the MacBook and Mac ecosystem with raving fans suffering no more.

For the first time, Apple held its product event outside of California, across the country in New York a the Brooklyn Academy of Music. The headline Apple was promoting leading up to the event was “There’s more in the making” in which all 3 devices can be used as creative tools. The event kicked off with a unique shape shifting apple logo a metamorphic display of colours and images swapping between various versions of the apple logo. This truly was a unique one of a kind show opener for an Apple event, one in which I hope they continue to build on for future events. What followed was essentially a love letter to New York showcasing the people, the city, the energy that make the city what it is, all of course with Apple branding sprinkled throughout. The opener was fun and had a ton of energy, maybe Apple will consider hosting more events in NYC in the future?

The first product to preview which had the audience chomping at the bit was the MacBook Air.

Macbook Air

Macbook Air 2018 Rose Gold

Tim Cook opened the Macbook Air segment with a stroll down memory lane, has the MBA already been with us for over 10 years? The Steve Jobs manilla envelope reveal of the MBA in 2010 was truly an iconic moment in computing and one many of us tech enthusiasts remember with fond memory. The original MBA killed the Netbook trend and created the new segment of Ultrabooks. These new thin, light and fast notebooks also came with all-day battery performance. The love and caring from Apple towards the MBA has wavered later in the products lifecycle with no major updates for years. Apple has finally updated the base MBA to now include a retina screen (2560×1600), 8th Generation Intel processor, 8GB of RAM a 128GB SSD and of course USB-C inputs throughout.

Touch ID has also been added to the keyboard, a feature that was previously reserved for the more expensive TouchBar enabled MacBook Pro. On the topic of the keyboard, the ‘butterfly keys’ that are now standard in the Mac and Macbook Pro are included here but, the MBA receives an udpated 3rd generation butterfly keyboard. The 2nd generation butterfly keys on my 2016 Macbook Pro are loud, clack and can sometimes stick. I’m hoping the 3rd generation keys bring some saneness to the touch typists of the world. The low travel of the previous generation keys always have me pulling my hair out! (Or whatever hair is left 🙂).

The Macbook Air Family

The Macbook Air can be upgraded to include up to 16GB of Memory and SSD storage up to 1.5Tbytes! With specs like this the MBA is looking more and more like the entry level Macbook Pro. I am sure someone has already done a 2018 Macbook Air vs 2018 Macbook Pro comparison.

The price, the price, it always come down the the price, the previous generation MacBook Air’s were thin, reliable, and relativlley cheap (in apple dollars)! Previous generations came in just under $1000 dollars at $999 USD. This new MBA is priced at $1,199 USD. They claim it is the ‘most affordable’ retina screen they have ever offered. Which is a true statement, but may push some new customers out of the market.

Mac Mini

An excruciating 1,475 days had past since Apple updated the Mac Mini. A period of time which may have seemed like an eternity for some, where others moved from desktops to Macbooks. The iMac and Mac Mini in a sense seem like relics of the past. Many end users have switched from traditional desktops to notebooks and have done away with sitting at a desk (while at home).

Mac Mini Desktop

The MacBook Mini now has a space grey finish, and has been substantially updated to be a decent desktop machine sporting an eighth generation Intel i7 processor (6 Core) and up to 64GB of memory. Storage has also been upgraded to be all flash for superior read/write performance. In a surprising move Apple has actually included 2 traditional USB Type A inputs, and a headphone jack! Both inputs have been standard on any desktop and laptop for years before Apple decided to shun these inputs on their iPhones and Macbooks. In addition 4 USB Type C Inputs and an optional blazing fast 10GB Ethernet Port is included.

iPad Pro

I love my 2018 iPad. Why? It was cheap, it works, it’s reliable and it’s fast. I have always felt the iPad Pro sits at a price point that would push consumers to a Macbook Air, or a Surface Pro device. Why get an iPad Pro, when you get an iPad for almost half the price? In years past the bigger screen with large bezel seemed just way to unruly to handle as a pickup device for reading at night (that’s just my opinion).

Apple has redesigned the iPad Pro and I love it. The new industrial square block design is a major change to the rounded edges on iPhones, Macbooks and really the entire Apple lineup. It vaguely reminds me of the iPhone 6 with it’s antenna lines on the back with a shape similar of the iPhone 4.

iPad Pro 12″ with Pencil

The screen size has been increased to 11″ but somehow with smaller bezels and Apple’s amazing engineering the footprint of the device stays the same as the previous years 10.5″ iPad Pro. The screen uses the same Liquid Retina technology seen in the iPhone Xr, so not an OLED screen which is a bit disappointing. The 12.9″ iPad Pro still remains for 2018, but with the engineering enchantments is now smaller than the previous years and comes in just about the size of a piece of paper.

At this point Apple has joined the USB-C revolution and has converted the iPad Pro lightning input to USB-C. The magic of USB-C and it’s almost infinite possibilities of devices to input is unfortunately extremely limited due to iOS, there is still the option to plug-in Cameras, external displays, musical instruments and more. You can now even charge your iPhone from the iPad Pro which is very convenient! Though the ability to plug-in a USB-C hard drive for Photos or files would have really been a game changer, and brought this device into a space that it never existed and possibly cannibalized Macbook Air sales.

iPad Pro 2018 11″ vs 12.9″

Other enchantments include the new Apple Pencil 2 which is magnetic and clips to the top of screen and charges itself. Touching the pencil to the iPad Pro screen instantly starts notes for you to begin writing. There is also a new folio keyboard which has 2 positions for typing. The Home Button has been removed and now Face ID is used for authentication.

From a pure hardware perspective this thing is an absolute beast going into the area of overkill. I don’t think there are many applications available on App Store that could really take advantage of the hardware offered here by the iPad Pro. Which begs the question, why? The iPad Pro is expensive, and generally creative or power users would prefer to use a Macbook over an iPad for productivity. The presentation did demo NBA 2K and a full version of Photoshop, each of which ran impressively well with no lag.

Final Thoughts…

This was a strange event, the crowd beaming with enthusiasm with lively cheering at every announcement during the presentation, you would think this was the second coming based on the audience 🙂 The iPad Pro was the start of this event with an amazing redesign pushing the limits of engineering. Unfortunately lacking universal USB-C support is a major knock for this device. The Mac Mini and Macbook Air both look amazing but both needed to be updated years before this event. The fact it took so long to update the devices is a bit concerning as Apple continues to focus on iPhones (it’s their largest volume device in sales) but ignores some of their core devices.