Apple announced a lot of things yesterday: new iMacs, new Apple TV and remote, a new iPad Pro, and a purple iPhone. What should you get, what will actually help you, and what’s better than the last version? Buckle up, I’ll help you make sense of it.
What was introduced
- Apple Card Family
- Paid-for podcast subscriptions
- AppleTV with a new remote control
- iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini – in a new, purple color
- iMac with M1 cpu, in seven colors
- iPad Pro with M1 cpu
What are the details that make these things special or different?
Apple Card Family
Before, you could get Apple Card for one family member, and not share it or manage it among family members.
But that’s not how a lot of families do their finances. People don’t manage their credit history separately, especially if they’re building it when together as a family. Many families don’t keep separate accounts, or separate cards, with separate limits and bills to manage.
But there’s a problem: Traditionally, when you have a credit card set up with a primary card holder and secondary card holder, the credit bureaus that decide if you’re creditworthy only assign the credit built to the primary card holder.
(It’s possible that it’s a legacy credit card problem, where the credit card issuers only send the credit built to the primary card holder’s credit report.)
Apple Card Family fixes this decidedly unfair practice, so that spouses build credit, too. On top of that’s, the card now allows adults to authorize 13-year-olds to use the card and set spending limits.
Paid-for podcast subscriptions
Lots of companies are entering the podcast space, including Spotify, who paid famous shows large sums of money to get them to be exclusives on Spotify. One of the questions that was never answered well was, “how do regular podcasts monetize themselves? How do people get paid?”
One answer, historically, has been advertising. Another has been to ask for listeners to donate.
Here, Apple is essentially creating a podcast store similar to the App Store.
It appears that podcasters will continue to be able to make shows available for free, but this adds the ability for podcasters to ask for listeners to pay a subscription fee.
“Just as they can with shows, listeners will be able to browse free channels, which make it easy to find more shows from their favorite creators, as well as paid channels and channels that provide additional benefits for subscribers.” – Apple’s press release on the subject (emphasis ours.)
Podcasters pay Apple 19.99 USD a year for the privilege of making paid channels, and give Apple 30% of the subscription fees. If this sounds similar to the old App Store terms for app developers, you’re not mistaken.
An AirTag is a small device for locating items. You place it in a pocket of a jacket or purse, or put it in a holder and attach it (loop or key ring) to an item, and then you can track that item.
It uses Apple’s U1 Ultra-wide band technology, so that you can locate an item precisely – it’s not just in the house, it’s in the couch, between the couch cushions. When a user moves their iPhone, attempting to locate a thing, the iPhone will show an arrow pointing you in the right direction.
AirTag works with Bluetooth. If a device is in range, it’s easy to find. What if a device is out of the range of Bluetooth? Is it just lost?
No. Apple takes advantage of the huge number of iPhones in the world. If you are out of range of your AirTag, and use the Find My app (which used to be called Find My iPhone), and the AirTag is in range of someone else’s iPhone, their iPhone will sense it, and report it’s AirTag location back to you, anonymously and privately.
You can also place an AirTag in lost mode, and be notified when its found in range of someone’s phone. If a lost AirTag is found, the finder can tap it using their iPhone, or any NFC compatible phone (android!), and be taken to a Web site that will display a phone number for the owner.
I mentioned privacy and security above – a lost tag gets its location relayed back without identifying anyone who found it. But what if you were being tracked by someone you wanted to evade? What if you were trying to escape an abuser?
Apple doesn’t put it in those terms, precisely, but they have addressed this problem.
First, similar to how Apple and Google rotate Bluetooth identifiers for COVID-19 contact tracing, AirTag Bluetooth identifiers rotate to prevent unwanted tracking.
Second, iOS devices can detect an AirTag that isn’t with its owner, and notify them if an AirTag appears to be traveling with them.
Third, even if you don’t have an iOS device, an AirTag separated from its owner will beep when moved to draw attention to it.
Just as before, tapping an AirTag with an NFC capable phone will bring up a webpage. You can call the number that page shows if it’s lost, or disable the AirTag. (I’m not completely sure if you can disable a lost AirTag, but at least there are some careful decisions made around privacy and unwanted tracking.)
AirTags are available as a single for $29 USD, or 4 for $99 USD. And, they’re IP67 water and dust resistant.
AppleTV and the new remote
The remote control of the AppleTV HD and AppleTV 4K has long been criticized as one of Apple’s worst designs in recent years.
The problem: The previous remote was a symmetric rectangle, one end is a touch surface, and the buttons are mostly symmetric, making it impossible to tell in the dark which end is the touch surface.
Apple made a revision of the previous remote, giving the menu button a raised white ring. One button. One small difference. It was laughable.
Here, the remote is made of machined aluminum, and has a large, round touch surface at one end. The ring of the touch surface can be used like the touch wheel on old iPods. It may not be as pretty, but it’s 100% more usable.
The new AppleTV gets an updated A12 Bionic CPU, and is able to support high frame rate HDR video. Sports should play more smoothly.
One of the neat tricks is, Color Balance. People generally don’t color calibrate their TVs. (I use the THX Tune-Up App usually).
Here, the AppleTV will display an image on the TV, you’ll hold up your iPhone camera to it, the camera will read the color balance, send that information back to the AppleTV, and the AppleTV will adjust the color balance output to overcome the mis-adjustment of the TV.
Obviously, it can’t fix brightness and contrast issues, but presuming those are mostly correct, fixing colors goes a long way.
Color Balance requires iPhone with Face ID running iOS 14.5 or later, and is available for Apple TV 4K (1st generation and later) and Apple TV HD with tvOS 14.5. These software updates will be available next week.
iPhone is now purple
You thought the iPhone mini was going away. You were wrong.
The iPhone 12 and 12 mini are now available in a “stunning” purple color.
Two things are important to note: many people have been suggesting that there’s poor sales of mini, and that mini would be discontinued. Introduction a new color suggests the opposite.
Second: The last time we had a new color mid-year was when the iPhone was introduced in white for the first time. That was due to difficulties in manufacturing a white iPhone. Here, purple shouldn’t present the same trouble, so it’s not clear why the mid-year change happened.
iMac 24” with M1
It comes in 7 colors.
It comes with 8GB of RAM, custom configurable to 16GB.
And it’s got 4 USB-C 4 / thunderbolt 3 ports. And it’s only mildly thicker than the remote control of the new AppleTV.
Imagine if you took an iPad Pro, and upsized it to 24” and put it on a stand, running macOS. That’s the new iMac.
It’s got a fantastic 4.5K display. It’s got a three microphone array, so that it can noise-cancel background noise and focus on you, the speaker, for conference calls while working from home.
Equipped with six speakers, it’s able to play entertainment with Dolby Atmos spatial sound.
And, the camera has been upgraded to a 1080P camera, so that you look better than previous Macs allowed you to.
There are three keyboard options:
- A keyboard with a Lock icon in the upper right key
- A keyboard with Touch ID, a first for a desktop mac
- And a keyboard with the full numberpad
Keyboards, mice and trackpads are color-matched to the iMac, as is the magnetically attached power cable, and a USB-C lighting cable for charging an iOS device or the mouse.
Ethernet is provided through a port on the power adapter, and carried up the power cable into the machine, a method we’ve seen before on devices like Google’s Chromecast.
The iMac comes in seven colors:
Default configurations are all 8GB RAM and 256GB or 512GB storage, but it is possible to custom configure a machine with 16GB RAM and 2TB of storage.
iPad Pro with M1
The iPad Pro has been upgraded with a few things:
- Mini LED display – 10,000 LEDs instead of the previous 72 LEDs on the screen.
- M1 processor, shared with the macs – 50% faster than the A12z Bionic used in the previous iPad Pro
- 8GB RAM on models with 128, 256, 512gb storage,
- 16GB RAM on models with 1TB or 2TB storage
- A front facing camera that is 122 degrees field of view, used to pan and scan to keep users in frame on video calls.
This is huge. Never before has Apple put a chip they’re using in desktops in the iPad, with this much storage or RAM.
The reason you don’t need to buy one yet is, the OS and apps are the same. Unless you’re feeling pinched loading in Very Large files in Photoshop, you may not need the new iPad Pro, and can wait a year for the OS and software to take advantage of the new resources.
How capable is this thing? Well, it can drive the Apple XDR Pro display at full resolution, which is something some macs couldn’t do even very recently. It’s wild. But again, you may not need it.
With its microphones, cameras, and 5G connectivity options, you could use it as a part of a remote video production set up, filming yourself, or previewing HDR footage realtime, if you were on a movie or TV set. It’s powerful, but again, you have to know your needs to know if you need one.
The Magic Keyboard with trackpad is still available for iPad Pro, and is now available in white. The form factor hasn’t changed, the keys haven’t changed, and the keyboard is compatible with previous versions of the iPad Pro.
The iPad Pro is available starting at $799 for the 11 inch, or $1099 for the 12.9 inch. If you want that 512GB or 1TB model, you’re looking at $1399 to $1799. If you want 2TB, it’s going to cost you $2199.