Apple Keynote, Brooklyn, NY, 2018.
Yesterday was my first Apple Keynote event so I thought I would share a few observations. (First a big thanks to Anna and Toru from Morpholio. Working with them over the last year has been a fantastic artistic endeavor and I look forward to many more years to come …).
So here’s my quick take on yesterday:
Apple acts like a company with a $1T market cap. The event was at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s (BAM) which is in a very busy area of downtown Brooklyn. Usually at this time (9am) the surrounding roads are full of people entering subways or getting breakfast and the roads are busy. Apple’s solution? They closed the three surrounding roads. Simple. Typically, when this happens in New York you would see a heavy Police presence. Here there was nothing of the sort, just hundreds of Apple attired people guiding you into the building. It was as seamless and professional a transition as I’ve seen and I've been to a lot of these sorts of events over the years
The hall held 2000 people and the lines to the supplied coffee / water was long. Fortunately, I had an emergency red bull.
The Opera house is a beautiful space, and has never looked better. The screen Apple used as a backdrop was the best I’ve seen at this scale, though the vocal acoustics (when people were speaking) were low from where I sat (middle rear 3 / 4). When video played the music was loud so there was a noticeable switch between the two.
Some people are really into Apple.
The majority of people around me experienced the keynote through the screen of their phone or camera. They might as well have watched from home. Maybe that's why my photos were rubbish; too busy looking at what was going on.
First up was the new Air laptop. It's great Apple is investing in the Mac platform again. I’ve been using Macs since the early 1990’s (I wrote my Stanley Kubrick thesis on a Mac Classic) and it's been sad to see the platform neglected over the last 5 years. That being said, this is an odd laptop considering what Apple is also selling. The base model Air (1.6 dual core / 8gig ram / 128gig SSD) is $100 cheaper than the less capable, more compromised, older MacBook (base config 1.2ghz / 8gig ram / 256 gig SSD). The MacBook is lighter by 0.75 of a pound but only has one USBC 3.1 Gen 1 Port. So Apple has two laptops of similar size and cost that … oh wait, there’s a third, the MacBook Pro 2018 with 2 Thunderbolt ports, without touchbar. That costs $1299, same as the MacBook and has dual 2.3ghz 7th Gen processor (old) / 8 gigs / 128 gigSSD. Confused? Yup, it all seems a muddle, three into 1. I’m sure the MacBook was supposed to replace the Air, but it is too limited for mass market and too expensive for its poor performance. I can see a space for it in the lineup but the MacBook Pro seems the odd man out here. Apple should drop that one. Of the three I’d get the Air if I still used a laptop (which I don’t).
A New Mac Mini! This was great. I use a 5k iMac only because there was no good modular desktop when I was upgrading. I’d much rather have a new Mini, add my own ram, external GPU and monitor than buy an all in one. The iMac is fantastic but even with its top of the line (then) graphics card it struggles with big Rhino files.
The new iPad Pro. This was what I went for. I use my iPad Pro 8 hours a day, every day. It’s not too much of an exaggeration to say it has changed my life. I’m still using the original 12.9” version which has felt slow, the battery is shot and the Apple Pencil is an ergonomic failure (I have to use a wrist guard to stop my wrist swelling after prolonged use. It is too slim, heavy and slippery for prolonged use.) so I’ve been waiting for an upgrade for months. Most of the specs had leaked online already so I won't recap here but using it on the hands on area was a great experience. It feels thin and high quality; it is an engineered, dense device. While a lot of the demos were showing games and AR I was only interested in trying out Morpholio Trace. The speed increase was dramatic, pro-motion and the new GPU have made a huge difference. This is the best iPad ever made, and for me can now do (almost) everything a laptop can. The Photoshop presentation was intriguing as well, a 12,000 pixel image with a hundred layers working natively looks to be a game changer for the iPad’s “Pro” credentials.
No headphone jack which sucks.
The only thing I really wish Apple would do is let people use a Trackpad with iOS. These iPads are now laptop sized but to have no reliable way of editing text is a huge hole in the platform. Sure, you can tap with your finger, but if you aim to edit documents of 100,000 words this drives you crazy. I tried to write my novel “The Streets” on an iPad. It’s possible for the first draft, though annoying, but as soon as you want to do any real editing you need to use a mouse. Apple’s stance is iOS is a touch interface but they already produce a track pad (which I use with my iMac). This is a touch interface device and would fit seamlessly into the iOS workflow. Maybe if they did that no one would need a new laptop. That may impact their decision here.
After the Keynote and hands on area Apple had booked the Mexican Restaurant Tacombi for lunch. The taco’s were fantastic! Recommend.
So that was it: a professional, rehearsed, considered presentation with some great new products. Other companies should look to this as an example of concise, simple story telling.
One More Thing: “The Streets” is finished, its cover is below. I’ve written a standalone novel in the same universe called “The Bridge” and am editing that now, both due out in 2019 ….
Have a great Fall and Winter,