Apple’s Mac and iPad Event in Brooklyn just ended, so now it’s time to unpack a little of what we got to see. There are plenty of places you can turn to for specs, speeds, and feeds, so I’m not going to bother getting into any of that. There are just my initial impressions of what was announced.
The new MacBook Air
This was a necessary upgrade to a venerable laptop that changed the way laptops were made and what users expected from them. The MacBook Pro is a capable, modern machine again with a Retina display and a viable processor. I think the most interesting thing about it is that Apple held onto the Air branding, instead of moving on and just making a new MacBook. Another interesting point about this device is that it isn’t the cheaper Mac laptop we heard all those rumors about. The price fits the specs, at least for how Apple prices their machines. However, starting at $1199 isn’t cheap.
The potential pitfalls for the new MacBook Air are the switch to the Butterfly keyboard, which still has issues after a redesign to help prevent dirt and grit from getting in, and the switch to USB-C. There are 2 USB-C Thunderbolt 3 ports, so you can charge and plug in accessories at the same time. However, you will have to get adapters or a dock to plug anything else in. This is the way things are headed for all laptops, but most other manufacturers are giving customers a little bit of grace by keeping a USB 3 port or an SD Card slot around. If you have no problem with either of these changes, then you will probably love this new machine.
The new Mac Mini
As predicted by Mark Gurman, this device was updated with pros in mind. The base model is solid and affordable at $799, but you can really spec this baby up, if you need or want to. It is the perfect Mac device to put in a rack, and it seems like Apple finally wised up and acknowledged that this is the use the hardware is most suited to. The new Mini is going to be become the back-end behind a lot of creative endeavors, and that makes this a really smart move by Apple.
The star of the show- The new iPad Pro
Damn. Just damn. This was a mic drop from Apple. Last year’s update to the Pro was solid, but it was bolstered by the enhancements in iOS 11. This redesign stands on its own, and it laps the field and then laughs and waves while running backwards on the way by. The A12X Bionic alone is enough to accomplish that. The rest is just gravy. Really tasty gravy.
Apple underlined the point that they lead the pack with their sales screenshot showing the Microsoft Surface and Samsung at the bottom.
None of the early-rumor compromises we heard about the new Pro came to fruition. Face ID works in landscape. The new Smart Keyboard Folio holds the iPad Pro in landscape. The Smart Connector was moved, but the keyboard still works just like we’re used to. It just connects differently.
We also got all of the good stuff we hoped for. A USB-C port. An 11″ model in a body the same size as the current 10.5. A much smaller 12.9″ model. A thinner design all around.
A new Apple Pencil that attaches via magnet, charges wirelessly, and is pressure sensitive.
All of the loose ends are tied up. This feels like the true coming of age of the iPad Pro.
I usually don’t care for the app demos on stage, but Photoshop and NBA2K were both impressive for different reasons. Apple bragged on stage about the iPad Pro’s graphical capabilities being on par with the XBox One. This demo showed that it wasn’t just talk. The graphics and gameplay looked legitimately console-quality. I will own this game and I will be dusting off my MFi gamepad for the first time in a while because of it. This new Pro may just pull me away from the Nintendo Switch. I just hope this isn’t the only game we see like this ported to the Pro.
As for Photoshop, it showed that the iPad has truly arrived as a productivity tool. The Pro’s hardware is really capable of anything at this point. It can run full versions of serious apps. If Apple doesn’t cripple the USB-C port, then the iPad may finally start to escape the confines that most people still see it trapped in.
I will leave it there, for now. I have already ordered an 11″ Pro, a 12.9″ Pro, and a new Pencil for testing and reviewing. As soon as I have them, I will start writing about them and how they fit into my everyday life. From what I saw today, I really can’t wait.