Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Apple Recap

How'd I do with those predictions?

The big surprise, to me, was that the "It's Been Way Too Long" teaser image appears to have been nothing but a red herring. It doesn't seem to match up with any of the things they actually announced. It makes me wonder if perhaps they had to shelve a planned announcement.

The iPad Air and iPad Mini received incremental updates. The star of the show, obviously, was the Retina iMac.

As Marco Ament notes:

According to early Geekbench reports, the 4 GHz, 4-core Retina iMac appears to be 25% faster than the 6-core Mac Pro in single-threaded tasks and only about 15% slower in multi-threaded tasks...

...The Mac Pro is still more expandable than the iMac in some ways. It has 6 Thunderbolt ports across 3 buses for more monitors and high-bandwidth external storage capacity, and it supports up to 64 GB of RAM instead of the iMac’s 32 GB ceiling. Otherwise, the differences are small.

Retina iMac with 4 GHz, 16 GB, 512 GB SSD, M295X: $3500
Mac Pro with 6-core, 16 GB, 512 GB SSD, D500: $4300

But that's a bit like saying a $70,000 Corvette is cheaper than a $250,000 Ferrari. Sure it is, but it's way more than I could ever realistically spend. My most realistic hope involves my boss buying himself a Retina iMac so I can at least check it out.

Biggest Letdown. The Mac Mini's update was more of a downgrade, going from a quad-core CPU to a dual-core CPU, losing its second drive slot, and losing user-upgradable RAM. That's a real bummer, because Mac Minis make pretty good servers and you can host them very cheaply at hosts like MacMiniVault or MacMiniColo. I'd also been considering getting an 2014 Mini I could use for development work, since you can plug a couple of 27" monitors into one -- but the new Mini is just too lackluster.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Apple's October 16 Event: "It's Been Way Too Long"

Apple invite 1014

That's an interesting tease for an Apple event. What could be they be referring to?

Not the Mac Mini. It's one of my favorite Apple things, but it's also their least important (to them) product. There is zero chance it's headlining an event.

As everybody else has noted, the logo appears to be a throwback to the classic rainbow-colored Apple logo from the 70s, 80s, and 90s. It'd be cool if they were refreshing their branding. I give that possibility a "maybe," though I also don't think they'd throw a press party for that alone.

My guess is that the colors are a reference to colored Apple products. I'm almost embarrassed to admit that I hope this is true, but... I do. The colored aluminum on the iPods of yore was cool; imagine a colored anodized MacBook in your color of choice.

Things I Predict We'll See

  • OSX Yosemite, obviously.
  • Updated iPad Air, obviously.
  • Colored MacBook Pros and/or MacBook Airs.
  • Retina Thunderbolt Displays and/or iMacs.
  • Minor Mac Mini refresh. This might be a "silent" update where they don't mention it in the presentation, but it gets rolled out in the online store after the event.

Wish List

  • A "real" server-oriented Mac Mini. Max of 32-64GB of RAM instead of the current 16GB. ECC RAM for increased reliability. Lights-out management. Aside from a bump to 32GB I don't think these are even possible; the Mac Mini's form factor means it's pretty much always going to have "laptop guts" and not one of Intel's bona fide server-oriented chipsets.
  • Some possible way that a Retina Thunderbolt Display could work with my 2011 MacBook Pro @ 60hz. Again, I don't think this one is physically possible.
  • Free hookers, world peace, pizza.
  • A revelation that the A7/A8/A9 chips are somehow hardware-optimized to run their Swift programming language at obscene speeds, faster than C or hand-tuned assembly, and that they're turning this feature on for everybody today. Yeah, this is even less likely than the hookers, peace, and pizza.
  • Some kind of renewed Free / open source software commitment.