Earlier this week, Apple announced a bunch of new stuff on a video live stream. We’ve got new commercials for Apple TV shows, a purple iPhone, Podcast stuff, an Apple TV remote that actually makes sense, some AirTags, new iMacs, and a new iPad Pro.
The first really new Apple product for 2021 was the AirTags, and I immediately said, “Welcome to 2013!” AirTags are little battery-powered Bluetooth things that connect to your iPhone and help the iPhone’s “Find My” software keep track of the locations of the tags. Sounds familiar because these kinds of things have been around for many years. A company called Tile was one of the first to release this type of gadget back in 2013.
Nokia released a similar Nokia Treasure Tag in early 2014 that had similar functionality. I had a bunch of Nokia Treasure Tags attached to my Nokia Lumia 1020 and they certainly worked as advertised… just the same as today’s Apple AirTags. I stopped using them after getting a new phone because they were kind of a hassle. I mean, how many batteries do I have to keep around and keep replacing? Sure, the removable battery can be replaced pretty quickly, but still, it’s another thing to manage, and I never lost anything while I was using the Treasure Tags anyway. So what’s the point? It costs more cognitive energy paying attention to the battery levels of all of these tags than it costs to remember where whatever it’s attached to is in the first place.
The new iMacs are bringing back a rainbow of color options like the original iMac had in 1998. It has Apple’s new M1 processor, an extra thin form factor, and it comes in 7 colors. That’s cool and all, but the front has a big pastel-colored chin and a white bezel that looks really bad to me. What’s more, is that the white bezel is going to interfere with your white balance perception since that will reflect the color temperature of your ambient lighting instead of the color temperature of the display. Looks like the display is still pretty reflective too, so glare will still be a problem. That’s not so good for creative professionals.
Having the computer really thin is nice I guess, but how much does that really matter? The stand is still pretty thick, so it’s not going to save a whole lot of desk space. Maybe it makes the iMac easier to move, but if I’m going to put a computer on a desk, that’s probably where it’s going to stay until I replace it. That being said, I have seen iMacs that need replacing kind of frequently, so maybe that is a good thing since we’ve had to carry them to the car and then to the Apple store for repair kind of often. That’s in contrast to the HP workstation where a repair person just comes to the office and replaces parts right there under warranty the next morning.
Apple’s new Center Stage feature for video calls on the iPad Pro is probably the most impressive feature, but again… “Welcome to 2010, Apple!” This awesome feature was something that first appeared 11 years ago in Video Kinect for Xbox. Honestly, it makes way more sense having this feature plugged into a big screen TV than it does an iPad. You’ll need to set the iPad on a stand to make any use of it, and as you move away the people on the screen will look so much smaller. With Xbox Kinect and a big TV, I could walk around the whole room and the video call camera would follow me beautifully. It was even cooler when the person on the other end had the same thing in their living room… we could both walk around doing other stuff and it was like there was a camera crew focusing on our faces on the TV.
The iPad Pro does have a new mini-LED display now that’s supposed to display color better, but it’s still a glossy screen that’s going to have a lot of glare when using it in real life. Apple’s video looks to be extremely processed to remove or hide the glare of the environment completely. It looks super fake because it is. That’s not how the screen is going to look in real life.
I’ve never thought that the iPad Pro deserved the “Pro” moniker. It’s not great for creative pro stuff anyway. See “13 Reasons why I don’t use an iPad Pro & Apple Pencil for graphic design“. The M1 processor and 16GB of RAM options in the new iPad Pro seem like kind of a waste since it won’t run really high-end programs like those available on macOS.