Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Wow, iPad Air and Mac Pro (updated)

Apple Keynote speech 22 Oct 2013.

(Funny how they still call them "keynotes", even though they for years haven't had a expo to be keynote for.     :-)
(Yes, I use emoticons, even in articles. Some serious writers consider this childish. But I've often been too serious in my life, it's not a trap I want to spend too much time in!)

I think that was a very impressive event.

The new iPad not only comes in my favorite metal color, "Space Grey" (space has a color?), but it is now significantly more powerful.

And incredibly (seriously), they have made it also significantly smaller/thinner, and most important: They have decreased the weight from 1.4 pounds to just one pound! That's a drop of almost 30%.

This is a spectacular achievement, I can't imagine how many man hours must have gone into that. It's the one thing that has always been the weakest point of the full sized iPad: it was too heavy. It's great on a stand, or if you can rest your hands on something, but for reading it bed for example, it was pretty distressing, and I think the main reason the iPad Mini does so well. In fact, for years this has been my number One wish for the iPad: much lower weight. I am much looking forward to experiencing the difference this weight reduction makes. I suspect it may make me take out the full sized iPad more often, instead of the Mini.

Talking about the iPad Mini, I think it's the same size and weight, but they have managed to squeeze in the more power-hungry, but desperately-wanted Retina Display. Many, many people have waited for this. (I thought the present one was not at all bad. After all it had rather higher pixel resolution than the iPad 1! But we get so used to new levels so very quickly, don't we?)

Another thing which struck a note with me: the upcoming Mac Pro (December). I don't know all the technical terms which were flying through the air like confetti, but it sounds like it will be spectacular powerhouse. And much smaller than the previous model (which admittedly is huge). But mostly again: it is even more quiet!

This is damn impressive. Back when I had a PowerMac G5 (ca. 2004), they had worked hard to make the cooling really good and quiet. And yet, when stressed this machine got so loud I just couldn't stand to work with it. (I'm pretty sensitive to noise.)
Then when the Intel based Macs came, bravo! That Mac Pro was "lightyears" more quiet. The difference was like night and day. That may be my favorite feature of a Mac of all time.
And now: the next model will be even more quiet than that. They've reduced the noise in idle state from about 27db down to 12db. A huge jump. For all intents and purposes, this is not just quiet, this is silent. I can't believe it, I'd have been impressed if they'd just managed to keep the same level. Well done Apple.
(I have an environment monitor in my bedroom, and even when I think the room is pretty near silent, it measures as over 30db...)

I think Apple deserves big kudos for focusing not just on the spectacular features which demo well, but working very hard on the deep characteristics which really matter: power efficiency, battery life, low noise, more effective use of memory, and so on.

OK, admittedly I have been an Apple fan since about 1995. But I say like David Pogue said many years ago: It is not Apple I am a fan of, it's elegance. If somebody does it more elegantly, I go to them. I haven't yet. (I've bought several Android devices and a couple of PC laptops, because they had beautiful hardware. But they all suffer from the software: it just lets me down, repeatedly.)
But near the end of the keynote, Tim Cook said that their competitors would be happy and proud to be able to present even one of the products Apple announced today. And you know what, I think he's right. I really think they are in a class of their own.

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