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Apple Special Event October 2013 Impression

Well, that was quick. Apple live streamed their keynote, and the stream is already available. As an armchair critic, time for yet more 2 cents from me. 😀

The keynote started with a very deep video that is basically Apple explaining to those bloggers that are shouting that they are no longer innovative because they don’t have huge phones with swimming fish as a wallpaper like Android. Typical Apple, the video is highly produced. It’s simple, yet enjoyable to watch.

As usual, the keynote started with Tim Cook with the stats. 9 million iPhones sold since the 5s/5c launch. Damn, and I thought we are in recession. Tim Cook showed a video, a very highly produced one, showing the launch day with people lining up and getting excited. Plenty of Asians in the video, kinda hinting Apple is serious in targeting China as their market. This is one of the reasons watching Apple keynote a lot more enjoyable than any other companies’. They just produced their stuff extremely well, unlike the other companies that seem to stuck in the 90s style of rigidity. I mean seriously, try watch Samsung or even Microsoft’s presentation for the Surface 2. And they wonder why Apple is garnering the brand awareness and mindset of the public. Genius marketing.

Oh, in the video, there’s a dude buying five of the 5c cases. Scalper alert!

“Biggest and fastest software upgrade in history… ever.” Yeah, Cook was talking about iOS7. Sounds great, but can you fix the battery drain and cut back on the animations please? They are getting old after two days. Tim Cook stated how great it is that consumers can experience the latest features. Yes, tell that to iPhone 4 owners.

A mention of iTunes radio with a plug for Justin Timberlake. Meh. Wake me up when all Avex’ catalog are in. Apps. Yes, we heard this before. Mac, with mentions of OS X, iLife, and iWork. Tim Cook seemed to be stumbling, hope he’s okay.

“The competitors are confused. They are making PCs into tablets and tablets into PCs.” LOL. Yes Microsoft, that’s you.

Craig was next with OS X Mavericks. Echo… Somebody is going to get some spanking later.

We heard many of these before in WWDC. Craig is claiming you can get an hour more battery life on the Haswell Macbook Air. That’s quite a feat if it’s true. Variable graphics memory allocation. Tags, which is not new as older OS X already has it, it was just called label. Why tags? I think this is Apple’s way of eliminating the file system from the user. I can see this being expanded on future versions of OS X, and the files and folders that we are used to getting more and more hidden.

Even Craig seemed to be stumbling, rushed. The presentation does not feel as tight as when Jobs was running the show.

Demo on Mavericks feature, showing integration between notification, mail, calendar, maps, etc.

Windows 8 pro for $199. Yep, jab #2 at Microsoft. Mavericks? Free! Even for those running Snow Leopard! Well, not completely unexpected. Many people have said this when Apple dropped its upgrade price to $20. Apple get their money from selling hardware. Still, a nice touch. I can see OS X updates will be just seamless in the future. Since it is free, it will be just an ongoing software updates. People do not have to worry anymore about what OS version they are running.

For me, I am sticking on Lion a bit longer (yeah, I have not even upgraded to Mountain Lion). It is always wise to wait for the first of second point update before upgrading an OS.

Phil was up next. Great reviews on Macbook Air. New retina Macbook Pro. That old Macbook Pro? Yeah, they are step children now that Apple doesn’t even upgrade it to Haswell. New Retina Macbook Pro is lighter and thinner. Gee, what’s new. 😀 Better battery life thanks to Haswell. Oh, and a keynote tip from Apple. See how Phill talked about the increased battery life, then showed a Macbook Pro with a screenshot from Batman movie, and then from behind, showed two more Macs and stated how you can watch the entire trilogy in one charge. Great presentation indeed!

Of course, everything is upgraded. PCI-e SSD, 802.11ac, Thunderbolt 2, Mavericks. Base 13″ model starts at $1299, pretty much set to replace the old Macbook Pro. Oh, best yet, shipping today! Again, this is why Apple is so successful. Many other Windows laptop OEMs have not even shipped their Haswell laptops that they announced earlier this year. The 15″ model is getting Iris Pro, with higher priced option for nVidia GPU, GT 750M. Interestingly enough, the 15″ model has less battery life than the 13″ model (8 hours vs 9 hours). 15″ starts at $1999 with Iris Pro, and shipping today too.

Mac Pro. In short, $2999, shipping in December. Yeah, not cheap. Nice, but too rich for my blood. Typical Apple, to entice you to spend that much money, they make a documentary on the making of the Mac Pro in the assembly line. Unlike Jony Ives’ documentary, the background is black. 😀 Can’t wait for the parodies people will make.

Next up was Eddie, with iLife, new versions for iOS and Mac. Finally, matching icons on the iOS version to match iOS7 style.  Eddie simply blazed through the apps without much demo other than Garage Band. I’m curious on the new iMovie and iPhoto, but alas, no demo. In-app purchase for Garage Band! Yeah, Apple made these apps for free, and they went into the IAP game. I just hope they don’t do that for iMovie effects.

New iWork. More syncing with iCloud and web version, plus collaboration! Take that Google Docs. Fun demo. Seems better rehearsed than Craig’s Mavericks demo. Free. Office 365 for $99 per year. Jab #3 at Microsoft. I guess it’s better to poke fun at Microsoft than Google.

They are all available today, but I cannot install them!! 😦 Why? They require Mavericks! No fun for me and my Lion. Oh, and no free iWork for me too. Have to buy new Macs. 😦

Tim Cook returned with stats for iPads. Yet more jabs at Microsoft in the most indirect manner. Yet another highly produced video showing iPad in a variety of usages, with Asians and Chinese in them. 😀 I wonder how they record the movie of the guy with a tent hanging on a mountain at the end though.

Phil with new iPads, finally! As expected, the new big iPad follows the iPad mini’s design with thinner bezel. The name becomes iPad Air. iPad Air? Doesn’t sound right. But I guess it’s better than what it could’ve been, ie. “The Newer iPad with retina display.” Even thinner than the previous iPad. What’s amazing is the weight, 1 pound. It runs the A7 SoC. Wait, no A7X? Yeah, I guess Apple sees the A7 is fast enough to push the retina iPad on its own. No TouchID though. No 802.11ac either. Same prices as the iPad 4, November 1, with a new breakthrough in LTE. Just one single SKU for LTE support for all carriers in the world, including all four US carriers. That’s amazing.

Previously, despite all iPads with cellular are unlocked, LTE support is carrier/region specific. You can buy a Verizon LTE iPad 4, for example, and although you can use it on AT&T, you will only get 3G/HSDPA speed. Seems like that’s over now with the iPad Air. It’s quite an amazing feat that we are at this point of universal LTE support this quick. Remember how long it took to even have phones with penta-band HSDPA? Yeah, that Nokia WinRT tablet with carrier branding? Good luck with that. The only downside left is the mess that is the iPhone 5s/5c, with every region having their own SKU with LTE that only works with the carriers in those region.

And, the iPad 2 lives! Yes, still at $399. More like the iPad for suckers, especially when you see the new iPad mini having the same price. I mean really, the iPad 2 was great, but it was released in 2011, running the old A5 SoC that doesn’t even get many of iOS7’s new features. You are better off buying a refurbished iPad 4 or the new iPad mini.

Of course, another documentary starring Jony Ives.

Ah yes, the new iPad mini. It finally received retina display thanks to the A7. And Apple didn’t stop there, they used that as an excuse to increase the price. The new iPad mini now starts at $399, shipping November (but no specific dates). Yeah, you still want to buy that iPad 2? 😀 Space gray is the new word for black. The old iPad mini hangs around at $299 for the 16GB wifi. I guess that’s Apple’s answer to the new Nexus 7.

Seriously, the iPad 2 and old iPad mini are for suckers, considering they are running a two generation behind SoC.

Tim Cook returned to wrap up the show.

So, how was my prediction? I got pretty close, although I got the order wrong. I thought Apple was going to do a 12″ retina Macbook to sneak in between the Macbook Air and the retina Macbook Pro, but looks like Apple managed to push the price of the retina Macbook Pro down, making the old legacy Macbook Pro a step child. Mavericks is free, which is unexpected but not surprising. New iLife and iWork. New iPads as expected, with a price jump on the retina mini, and the old ones linger around for suckers.

Of course, no Apple TV, and no smartwatch. Cue in the tech bloggers bitching on how Apple lacks innovation, ignoring the feat of engineering that brings 1 SKU to support all LTE around the world. As for me, I have been waiting for a retina mini since the original iPad mini was announced, so I’m getting that one. Bye bye Nexus 7, it’s nice knowing ya.

What’s on your shopping list?

 
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Posted by on October 22, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Apple Special Event, October 2012, Impression

Apple streamed the video very quickly. I’m guessing they are now extremely well rehearsed and confident about the performance to even do a live streaming. Well, let’s cut to the chase, and drop my 2 cents.

Just with any Apple keynote, it starts with stats. Tim Cook on stage, iPhone 5 selling like hotcakes, pretty neat video, iPod Touch selling like hotcakes, yada yada yada. Tim was highlighting how the new iOS6 features are already used in the millions.

Tim also took the opportunity to emphasize that iPad apps are not “stretched out” phone apps. Punch #1 against Android.

iBooks stats. Sorry Tim, imo e-ink is still the ideal screen for eBooks. New iBooks featuring continuous scrolling, a departure from the classic idea of pages. Beautiful Korean fonts, and Chinese, said Tim Cook.

Bam, the Mac. Yeah, so much for a segway. Apple is selling more. Yeah, most people know that Apple is printing money.

Phil Schiller on stage. Beautiful, gorgeous, best, describing the 15″ retina display. And as expected, now retina display comes to the 13″ Macbook Pro. Lightest Macbook Pro ever. Well… DUH! The retina display resolution continues to astound me. 2560 x 1600. Yeah, more than even my iMac. I still drool over the idea of photo editing on a retina Macbook Pro.

And, what’s missing from the inside? Discreet graphic. Yup, the 13″ Macbook “Pro” only has the HD4000 intel graphics. Advise to people, you may want to sit this one out and wait for Haswell. You’ve been warned. I doubt the “better” speaker is worth the price of this one. Starting price $1699. Shipping today. Again, THIS is why Apple is succeeding. Many other companies cannot even ship their products months after announcement, let alone same day.

17″ MBP is still MIA. 17″ retina display would be mind blowing.

Next, Mac mini. A refresh for the step child. Might be one of the few Macs left with Firewire 800. Quad core at this tiny footprint is amazing though. Starts with dual core i5 for $599. Server version uses quad-core i7 with 2x1TB drives (but only 4GB of RAM?) for $999.

And the big one, the iMac. No more optical drive, and what you get is a super thin display unit. It’s… amazing. I mean really, being able to make an iMac that thin, with a full computer inside, it’s mind blowing. Sure, it’s just the edge that’s 5mm, but it’s still damn thin. This is why I love Apple, and why I hate Apple when Phil said how a new thing can make the previous one look so old. Damn you Apple.

No retina display, but it’s fully laminated and individually calibrated. Phil keep saying how much better the speaker on this new iMac too, but who cares as a separate 2.1 speaker would probably still be better. Something gotta give right, for something this thin. The obvious one is the optical drive. Well, the hard-drive got a downgrade too, starting with a 5400rpm drive, which we know is kinda slow for a desktop. Apple’s best marketing is upselling, and they want you to upgrade to the fusion drive, basically Apple’s marketing scheme for hydrid SSD+traditional hard drive. Apple is using its own software to optimize performance on what files are going to the SSD.

21.5″ iMac starts at $1299. Yes, Phil conveniently skipped the fact that it comes with 5400rpm drive. 27″ starts at $1799. Shipping in November for the 21.5″ and December for the 27″. And I bet it’s non-user upgradeable at all, not even the RAM, which is unfortunate as Apple gouges you on upgrades. Another odd design decision, due to the thinner edge, the SD card slot goes to the back, like the Mac mini. That’s not really intuitive, but at least you won’t mistake the SD slot with the super drive. Seriously, one time I slipped an SD card into the super drive of my iMac without realizing it, and was freaking out in trying to get it out.

Tim is back, and iPad stats again. 100million iPads sold. It’s interesting that Tim is showing how Apple is selling more iPads than Windows PC manufactures, AFTER the new iMac announcement. Yes Tim, everybody loves iPad, and everybody use iBooks.

Interestingly enough, Tim Cook mentioned how the new iBooks allows publisher to “update” text books. Yeah, good luck with that. Publishers love to gouge students by having them buy new books every year.

Phil is back. You know that “new” iPad that you just bought? Well, yeah, that’s no more. Apple is releasing the iPad 4, a “newer” iPad, and discontinued the short-lived iPad 3. Interestingly enough, the iPad 2 is still available. This boggles the mind on why Apple would do this, but they did it. The “newer” iPad comes with an A6X processor and lightning connector. It also has 720p front-facing camera, and the more world-compatible LTE radio. Same price points. Yeah, so much for the iPad 3…

Along the new iPad, Apple is also announcing lightning to USB, SD adapter, HDMI, and VGA (individual adapters).

And finally, iPad mini, hiding behind the newer iPad. Really great segway. New design, look a lot like the new iPod Touch. Even the black one has a black back. It looks more like an iPod Touch XL than an actual iPad mini, and alas, the specs say so. 7.9″, 1024×768, IPS display. Yup, no retina here, which is ironic considering how Tim Cook was pushing iBooks. The focus is thinner and lighter. Phil didn’t even bother to mention the display being IPS, let alone it not being retina.

Oh, the Nexus 7, punch #2 against Android. It’s plastic, thicker, more bezel, and heavier. But guess what Phil, the Nexus 7 has higher PPI with its 720p display. Also, it starts at $199. Phil did point out the disadvantage of ICS/Jelly Bean’s virtual buttons that is taking up screen space. Oh, and Phil just keep on going in comparing iPad apps with Android apps.

Now, the letdown. A5 chip. Yeah, Apple can put an A6 on the iPhone, but only an A5 for the iPad mini? REALLY APPLE? Come on. At least it has 720p facetime camera, and LTE version, unlike the Nexus 7 that is stuck at 16GB wifi only max (and doesn’t even support 5GHz wifi n). Cue in another documentary by yours truly, Johnny Ive. They keep comparing the iPad mini with the iPad 2. Well, guess what Apple, you yourself was just talking about the iPad 4. That’s number 4, 2 more than the iPad 2. I want the iPad mini to be a smaller version of the CURRENT iPad, not the iPad 2 generations behind.

Oh, new smart covers for the iPad mini. Gone are the aluminum part, just the clothed colored cover.

It’s amazing how they are pushing this iPad mini on the documentary, despite the obvious failures (no retina display, no A6).

Pricing, 16GB wifi at $329. $100 to double the capacity, and $130 extra for cellular radio. Pre-order October 26, shipping the wifi version first to a lot of countries, again showing the reason Apple is so successful.

Tim is back to close the presentation.

So, how did my prediction go? Well, I over estimated Apple. I thought Apple would not cut corners with the iPad mini, using A6 processor, but I was wrong. At least I was correct in mentioning the use of IPS, where many tech blogs said otherwise that the iPad mini would’ve used the inferior 3GS screen. I was correct in the pricing, but I missed the fact that Apple is keeping the iPad 2 (and instead discontinuing the “no longer new” iPad with an A6X iPad).

A mixed bag presentation. I’m not bothered with the retina Macbook Pro until Haswell. The new iMac design simply awed me. It’s incredible, period, but real-life usability, I would still need an optical drive on a desktop. However, the reason I was excited about this was for the iPad mini, and I was disappointed that Apple is cutting corners on the iPad mini, by making it a smaller iPad 2 instead of a smaller iPad 4. I’m torn. I was so ready to get one, but now I’m cautious, fearing that Apple would release the real iPad mini (with retina display and A6) in 6 months from now. *sigh.

 
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Posted by on October 23, 2012 in apple, event, impression, Keynote

 

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Apple’s “a little more” November 2 Event Prediction

The iPhone 5 was just released, but it feels like an old news now. The rumors are now focused on the next Apple event on November 2nd. The speculations are highly geared towards the venerable iPad mini, a smaller ~8″ iPad. The photo leaks are bountiful, so it’s pretty much a given imo. So now the speculations move on to the spec and price. I’m joining in with my 2 cents.

There are many speculations around the screen, how it’s going to be similar to the iPhone 3GS, ie. an inferior screen to the IPS panels used for the regular iPads and iPhone 4/4S/5. Imo Apple wouldn’t do this. Apple is not that stupid. The 5th gen iPod Touch itself has an IPS screen, so it wouldn’t make sense to “downgrade” the iPad mini. Apple is proud for its choice of panels on its various products (Macs, Macbooks, etc). The iPad mini will have the same IPS panel. Resolution wise, per the rumors, would be 1024 x 768, making it denser than the original/iPad 2’s screen, but not retina. Considering the yield and cost for retina screens (for the “new” iPad, iPhone 5, and “new” Macbook Pro), I’m going to guess Apple will do this and save a retina version for next revision. It will be highly criticized as the competitors are employing 720p screens for their 7″ tablets, but I bet Apple’s marketing machine will spin it in a magical way that you won’t care.

Going down to the chip used, IMO it’s going to be the A6. The rumors are speculating that Apple would use the A5 (to differentiate it as a lower model than the big iPad). I doubt it. The iPad is a flagship brand, and I don’t think Apple would treat the iPad mini like the iPod Touch, which is the step-child of the iPhone. I was already surprised that Apple put the A6 inside the iPhone 5, instead of parodying the “new” iPad (using A5X). The A6 has the advantage of being smaller and more power efficient than the A5/A5X, something that is needed by the smaller iPad to keep the tag of “legendary” battery life.

RAM wise, I hope it would be 1GB just like its bigger brother, but I won’t be surprised if Apple decided to put 512MB instead. 512MB is still usable (iPad 2, iPhone 4S, 5th gen iPod Touch).

The leaked SKUs is showing multiple models, parodying the lineup of the regular iPad, ranging from 16GB to 64GB, each with 3G/4G wireless version. Having cellular radio version from day 1 will definitely be an advantage against the popular Android tablet, Nexus 7.

The highly controversial topic is the pricing. In the past, Apple used to have fairly comfortable price gaps for their lineup (I remember the 64GB original iPod Touch selling for like $600). Today, with the ceiling being $499 from the 16GB wifi “new” iPad, and the floor being $299 from the 32GB 5th gen Touch, there’s not much wiggle room. Currently, the rumor is $329 for the lowest end (presumably 16GB wifi version), adding $100 for double the capacity, up to 64GB, and just like the regular iPad, adding $130 premium for the models equipped with cellular radio. As you can see, the pricing becomes a jumble of mess. I don’t know how Apple is going to approach this.

Speaking about price, the obvious thorn is the iPad 2, which is still being sold today at the $399 price point. I’m going to guess that it will be discontinued (relegated to the refurbished section) to at least leave a bit of breathing room for the iPad mini. The iPad 2 itself is still a great device, and if an even further price drop happened, it will be a good deal snatching one up from the refurbished store.

Oh, and how about the name? iPad mini makes sense. Simple, straight, and parodied the Mac mini (and the defunct iPod mini).

Besides the iPad mini, there are other Apple products that are due for an update. The regular iPad themselves are rumored to be refreshed with the lightning dock connector, eliminating the 30-pin models. The Mac mini is als overdue for Ivy bridge update. Same thing with the iMac. Another contender is also a 13″ retina Macbook Pro, which would also fit the “little more” tagline, to go side-by-side the previously announced 15″. The dilemma here is due to the late update, one may want to actually pass on these Ivy Bridge Macs, especially the retina Macbook Pro, and wait for Intel’s Haswell next year.

So there you go. Imo this is going to be a smaller event, unlike the iPhone 5/iPod announcement. Focus will be the iPad mini. I’ve been liking the 7″ form factor of my Nexus 7, as it’s a lot more convenient to take with you, while still having a decent screen space compared to a smartphone. The downside of the Nexus 7 is the limited storage and the lack of cellular radio version. If Apple makes a 64GB iPad mini with cellular radio, that’s it, I’m getting one.

 
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Posted by on October 21, 2012 in 2012, apple, event, Keynote

 

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