Cereal Killer, Phantom Phreak, Crash Override…if these handles appear on your computer screen, you’re beyond saving–consider yourself hacked. In this cyberpunk thriller, a renegade group of elite teenage computer hackers rollerblade through New York City by day and ride the information highway by night. After hacking into a high-stakes industrial conspiracy, they become prime suspects and must recruit the best of the cybernet underground to help clear their names.

Event

  • Apple “Far Out” Event Prediction/Wish List Results

    Apple “Far Out” Event Prediction/Wish List Results

    Yesterday Apple held their “Far Out” event and I had made some predictions and here are the results.

    Four new iPhones, with no iPhone mini

    iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus arranged in a semi-circle

    There were four new iPhones, the iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Plus, iPhone 14 Pro, and iPhone 14 Pro Max. You can still purchase an iPhone 13 mini for $599.

    Always On Screen for some, if not all, iPhone 14 models

    This one was correct, the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max both have an Always-On display. The display will be able to be reduced down to 1Hz to save battery.

    iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max in Deep Purple
    iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max in Deep Purple

    No new iPads and no new Macs

    Both of these were correct, because there were no iPads nor any Macs at this event.

    New Apple Watch Series 8

    There is an Apple Watch Series 8, which is very similar to the Series 7, but does include Crash Detection and a new thermometer designed for recording differences in temperature.

    Apple Watch Series 8 in Midnight with a Midnight Band
    Apple Watch Series 8 in Midnight with a Midnight Band

    New Apple Watch SE

    This is also correct, with the introduction of the 2nd Generation Apple Watch SE. The 2nd Generation Apple Watch SE is available to order and will begin arriving September 16th.

    Apple Second generation Apple Watch SE
    Apple Second generation Apple Watch SE

    Possible Apple Watch Pro

    This was half-right, because there is the Apple Watch Ultra, not the “pro”. It is the Apple Watch Ultra. You can order it today and it will be available beginning September 23rd.

    Apple Watch Ultra with its bands
    Apple Watch Ultra with its bands

    Second generation AirPods Pro

    There is a pair of second generation AirPods Pro. You can order them starting September 9th and they will begin arriving September 23rd.

    2nd Generation Air Pods Pro
    2nd Generation Air Pods Pro

    Recap

    I think I got every single one of them correct, which is not likely to happen again in the future. You can read my recap of all of the announcements at the “Far Out” event.

  • Apple “Far Out” Event Recap

    Apple “Far Out” Event Recap

    Today Apple has their “Far Out” event at Steve Jobs Theatre in Cupertino. There were three products covered, AirPods, Apple Watch, and iPhone. Let us look at each of these starting with AirPods.

    AirPods

    2nd Generation AirPods Pro in a case

    AirPods are a popular set of in-ear headphones that many people like to use. The AirPods Pro were last introduced in October of 2019 and today Apple introduced the 2nd generation AirPods Pro. The 2nd generation AirPods Pro has gained improved battery life with up to six hours of listening time on a single charge. This is up from 4.5 hours on the 1st generation AirPods Pro. The charging case also allows for up to 30 hours of total listening time. On the topic of the charging case that has seen some changes as well.

    The AirPods Pro charging case can now be charged via lightning, using MagSafe, or any Qi-compatible charger, including the Apple Watch charger. The 2nd generation AirPods Pro case also includes a lanyard, so you can easily attach them to items like a bag, purse, or any other item.

    AirPods Pro are still $249 and they will be available for pre-order on September 9th, and will be available starting on September 23rd. Next, let us look at the Apple Watch.

    Apple Watch

    The largest part of today’s event was spent on the Apple Watch. There were three new models introduced, the Apple Watch Series 8, the Apple Watch SE (2nd generation), and the all new Apple Watch Ultra. Let us look at all of them in turn, starting with the 2nd Generation Apple Watch SE.

    Apple Watch SE (2nd Generation)

    Apple Second generation Apple Watch SE
    Apple Second generation Apple Watch SE

    The new Apple Watch SE is a redesigned Apple Watch. It still has the 40mm or 44mm size as the previous version. It now has an S8 SIP. The S8 system-in-package includes some new features like Crash Detection, which can be used to automatically contact emergency services and your emergency contacts should you get into a crash while wearing the Apple Watch SE.

    There are variety of bands and styles, like the Solo Loop which comes in Sunglow, Succulent, Chalk Pink, Storm Blue, Midnight, and Starlight. There are Braided Solo Loops in Rainforest, Slate Blue, Beige, Midnight, Black Unity, Pride Edition, and (PRODUCT)RED. A Slew of Sport Bands, Sport Loops, and Nike Editions.

    The Apple Watch SE also has a slightly lower price at $249 for the 40mm and $279 for the 44mm version. This is in comparison to its previous $279 price tag for the 40mm and $309 for the 44mm. The GPS + Cellular models are $299 for the 40mm, and $349 for the 44mm version. You can order the 2nd generation Apple Watch SE today in one of three colors, Midnight, Starlight, and Silver. It will begin delivering on September 16th.

    Now, onto the Apple Watch Series 8.

    Apple Watch Series 8

    Apple Watch Series 8 in Midnight

    The Apple Watch Series 8 is an improvement over the Apple Watch Series 7 in a variety of ways. It still has the same 41mm and 45mm case options. The Apple Watch Series 8 has the same S8 SIP as the 2nd generation Apple Watch SE, which means that it has the same Crash Detection feature.

    There is a new “Low Power Mode” on the Apple Watch Series 8. This can increase the battery life up to 36 hours from a full charge, when an iPhone is paired with the Apple Watch. This can be toggled on and off in the Control Center on the Apple Watch. When you enable Low Power Mode it will disable auto-workout detection, the Always-On display, and heart health notifications, amongst other items. You can This feature is available on all Apple Watches from Series 4 and later with watchOS 9.

    The Apple Watch Series 8 also brings a new sensor, this time it is a temperature sensor. To quote Apple’s press release:

    “Apple Watch Series 8 takes a unique approach to temperature sensing with a two-sensor design — one sensor on the back of the watch, nearest the skin, and another just under the display — reducing bias from the outside environment. Nighttime wrist temperature can be a good indicator of overall body temperature. The sensors in Apple Watch Series 8 sample the wrist temperature during sleep every five seconds and measure changes as small as 0.1° C. In the Health app, users can see nightly shifts in baseline temperature, which can be caused by exercise, jet lag, or even illness.”

    The temperature sensor was designed for use for women’s health, specifically this is designed to allow women to keep a record of retrospective ovulation estimates, which can be useful in family planning. Along with this temperature sensing also enables improved period predictions.

    Beyond family planning, iOS 16 and watchOS 9 also add additional features for Cycle Tracking. Now users can receive notifications if their logged cycle history shows any deviations, like irregular, prolonged, or spotty periods. Thees can be symptoms of an underlying health condition, which can be discussed with a woman’s physician.

    As mentioned above, the Apple Watch Series 8 comes in two sizes, the 41mm and 45mm versions. You can choose from an aluminum case or a stainless steel case. The aluminum case comes in Starlight, Midnight, Silver, and (PRODUCT)RED. Pricing for the Aluminum is $399 for the 41mm GPS, $429 for the 45mm GPS, $499 for the 41mm GPS + Cellular, and $529 for the 45mm GPS + Cellular.

    The Stainless Steel colors are Silver Graphite and Gold. The Stainless Steel are GPS + Cellular models. The 41mm is $699, and the 45mm GPS model is $749.

    One thing to note is that there are no longer “Nike Editions” of the Apple Watch. There are still Nike Bands, but now you can use the Nike Watch faces on any of the Apple Watches. This is a big change from previous Apple Watches.

    The Apple Watch Series 8 is available to order today and will be available starting September 16th. Now, onto the Apple Watch Ultra.

    Apple Watch Ultra

    The Apple Watch Ultra is a brand new model designed for extreme conditions, and its design is meant for this. The Apple Watch Ultra sports a 49mm watch face, which is 8.8% larger than the 45mm and 17% larger than the 41mm model. The screen is enclosed by the case of the Apple Watch to help protect it against damage when hit against surfaces. Beyond encasing the screen with the case of the Apple Watch, the case material is Titanium which should also help with protecting the Apple Watch Ultra.

    Apple Watch Ultra with Action Button
    Apple Watch Ultra with Action Button

    The Apple Watch Ultra has the side button and Digital Crown, but it also includes a new Action button. The Action button can be configured to allow you to easily perform a quick action by clicking the Action button. The actions available can be customized in the Apple Watch Ultra’s settings.

    The Apple Watch Ultra is designed for extreme sports, like ultra marathons, diving, hiking, and more. Since it was designed to be used in a variety of environments the screen is brighter, up to 2000 nits. There is a “Night mode”, which will remove any harsh lights and change the color to be a Red to make it easier for you.

    Since it is possible that you will be out in extreme environments, if you do need help there is an 86-decibel alarm that you can enable that will travel up to 600 feet, or 180 meters, so others can help find you. There is a new Compass app that will allow you to mark waypoints so you can try and find your way back.

    Apple Watch Ultra with side button and digital crown
    Apple Watch Ultra with side button and digital crown

    The larger screen on the Apple Watch Ultra allows for up to 36 hours of battery life while in full workout, or up to 60 hours with low power mode. This is very helpful if you do not have a charger with you, or if you are in an area where you cannot charge the Apple Watch.

    Watch Bands

    Apple Watch Ultra Bands
    Apple Watch Ultra Bands

    There are three different watch bands designed with the Apple Watch Ultra in mind. These are Alpine Loop, Trail Loop, Ocean Band. The Alpine Loop comes in three different colors, Orange, Starlight, and Green. The Trail Loop comes in Yellow/Beige, Blue/Gray, and Black/Gray. The Ocean band comes in Yellow, White, and Midnight. There are also some bands that you find on the other Apple Watch models, like the Solo Loop, the Braided Solo Loop, Sport Band, and Sport Loop. The Alpine Loop, Trail Loop, and Ocean band are each $99.

    The Apple Watch Ultra is available for order today for $799, and will be available beginning on September 23rd. Now, onto the iPhone

    iPhone

    Apple introduced four new iPhone 14 models today. The iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Plus, iPhone 14 Pro, and iPhone 14 Pro Max, as predicted there is no iPhone mini model. Let us look at each of the pairings, starting with iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus. There are two physical sizes for devices, either 6.1-inch or a 6.7-inch screen. The entire iPhone 14 line up has some commonalities. This includes some camera improvements, Crash Detection, changes to Emergency SOS, and a change to SIM cards.

    SIM Card Changes

    There is a big change across all of the iPhone 14 models, at least in the United States. There are no longer any physical SIM slots. All devices will now have eSim. This means that you will need to transfer your number from your physical SIM to an eSim.

    Action Mode

    All of the iPhone 14 devices have new camera sensors, which will be discussed in each section, but one of the common items is a new feature called “Action Mode”. Action Mode is designed to allow you to be right in the action and still have stabilized photos and videos, without any third-party accessory, like a Gimbal stand for stabilization. This means that you can keep up with the action and have the video come out stabilized.

    Photonic Engine

    iPhone 14 Pro takes computational photography even further with Photonic Engine, offering a giant leap for mid- to low-light performance in photos across all cameras through a deep integration of hardware and software: up to 2x on the Main camera, up to 3x on the Ultra Wide camera, up to 2x on the Telephoto camera, and up to 2x on the TrueDepth camera. Photonic Engine enables this dramatic increase in quality by applying Deep Fusion earlier in the imaging process to deliver extraordinary detail, and preserve subtle textures, provide better color, and maintain more information in a photo.

    Crash Detection

    Mentioned in the Apple Watch section is the Crash Detection. The iPhone 14 line also supports Crash Detection and can contact emergency services, if you do not cancel it in within 10 seconds.

    Emergency SOS

    There may be times when you are outside of cellular cover and you may need some emergency services. There is a new service called “Emergency SOS via Satellite”. This function will allow your iPhone 14 to connect to a satellite and contact emergency services via text message. The iPhone 14 will help you align your iPhone with the satellite to be able to connect. This feature will be free for two years when you buy an iPhone 14 device. There is no indication of how much it will cost after the first two years. This will be available starting in November.

    Emergency SOS via Satellite on iPhone 14
    Emergency SOS via Satellite on iPhone 14

    Now, let us look at the iPhone 14 devices.

    iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus

    iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus arranged in a semi-circle
    iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus arranged in a semi-circle

    The iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus are the non-pro models of the iPhone 14. The iPhone 14 has a 6.1-inch screen, while the iPhone 14 Plus has a 6.7-inch screen. The iPhone 14 Plus is a new model and matches the same 6.7-inch screen size as the iPhone 14 Pro Max. The iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus have a 4 nanometer A15 Bionic processor. This is a slightly improved A15 Bionic that provides even better efficiency which results in better battery life.

    The iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus have a total of three cameras, the front True Depth camera system, a 12MP Main Camera, and an Ultra Wide camera.The new camera has a larger ƒ/1.5 aperture and 1.9 µm pixels. This enables photo and video improvements in all lighting scenarios. The new front TrueDepth camera features an ƒ/1.9 aperture that now includes autofocus. This means that it can focus even faster than before, including with groups of people and it can make sure each one is focus.

    The iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus come in five colors, Midnight, Purple, Starlight, PRODUCT(RED), and Blue. They come in storage sizes of 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB. The iPhone 14 pricing is $799 for 128GB, $899 for 256GB, and $1099 for 512GB. The iPhone 14 Plus is $100 more, so it is $899 for 128GB, $999 for 256GB, and $1199 for 512GB. You can pre-order an iPhone 14 or iPhone 14 Plus on Friday, September 9th. The iPhone 14 will begin delivering September 16th, and the iPhone 14 Plus will begin delivering on October 7th.

    iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max

    iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max in Deep Purple
    iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max in Deep Purple

    The iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max have the same screen size as the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max at 6.1-inches for the iPhone 14 Pro and 6.7-inches for the iPhone 14 Pro Max.This chip features a new 6-core CPU with an accelerated 5-core GPU. The GPU has 50 percent more memory bandwidth, which will make graphic intensive apps and games that much better. The new 16-core Neural Engine provides up to 17 trillion operations per second, which is great with the new Photonic Engine.

    There is a new camera system for the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max. This system includes a 12MP Ultra Wide camera with 1.4 µm pixels, which delivers sharper images with more detail. The telephoto lens has an improved 3x optical zoom capability. The True Depth camera on the front is just like the one on the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus and comes with an ƒ/1.9 aperture that, according to Apple, enables better low-light performance for photos and video. The new camera system also allows for a new Cinematic mode, which is 4K at 24 frames per second, which is the standard for many films. This is in addition to the existing 4K at 30 frames per second. There is one last big feature with the Main camera.

    The Main camera is a new 48 Megapixel sensor with quad-pixel grouping. This means that each of the pixels is groups of four, which provides more light in low-light situations. Along with this, the 48 Megapixel sensor, with quad-pixel grouping, results in the standard 12 Megapixel images, with more details, and is optimized for professional workflows. The quad-pixel sensor also allows for a new 2x zoom, which will take a 12-megapixel image with the pixels that are in the center of the sensor. This results in a full 4K image with no digital zoom.

    The iPhone 14 Pro Max has a completely new feature for the screen, an Always-On display. The Always-On display is similar to that on the Apple Watch, in that it can reduce the refresh rate down to 1Hz. This will be fantastic when you do not need the information on the screen to refresh that often. The screen is one of the biggest uses of battery on an iPhone, so being able to reduce it down to 1Hz should allow you to improved battery life.

    The TrueDepth camera location has changed slightly, to be right inline with the status bar at the top of the screen, including screen around the sensor. This new sensor area is call the “Dynamic Island”. This area will dynamically change depending on usage. Things like notifications will adjust and appear out of the Dynamic Island. You can tap on a notification and interact with it. Similarly, the Face ID popup will appear around the Dynamic Island. If you have multiple items that could use attention, one of the items will be off to the right, so you can interact with it as necessary.

    Dynamic Island on iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max
    Dynamic Island on iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max

    The iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max come in four colors, Space Black, Silver, Gold, and Deep Purple. They also come in four different sizes, 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB. The iPhone 14 costs $999 for 128GB, $1099 for 256GB, $1299 for 512GB, and $1499 for the 1TB. The iPhone 14 Pro Max is $100 more for each, meaning $1099 for 128GB, $1199 for 256GB, $1399 for 512GB, and $1599 for the 1TB model. You can pre-order iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max on Friday September 9th, with delivery starting on on September 16th.

    Closing Thoughts

    Today’s event was packed at just over 90 minutes. 40 minutes was dedicated to the Apple Watch, another 40 minutes to the iPhone, and the last 10 minutes to the AirPods Pro. The Apple Watch models are available for order today, with the AirPods Pro and iPhone 14 line of phones being available for pre-order this Friday, September 9th.

    Sources

    Apple Watch Ultra
    iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus
    iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max
    AirPods Pro
    Apple Watch Series 8 and Apple Watch SE (2nd Generation)

  • Apple Announces September 7th “Far Out” Event

    Apple Announces September 7th “Far Out” Event

    Today Apple sent out invitations to various people in the media about an event happening on September 7th. There were two different invitations sent out, one for an in-person event and another for streaming. The fact that there are two different invitations being sent out indicates that this might be a similar to the World Wide Developer Conference keynote where a selection of press and developers were able to attend the keynote in person.

    In Person Invitation to the September 7th, 2022 "Far Out" Event
    In Person Invitation to the “Far Out” Event
    Streaming Invitation to the September 7th, 2022 "Far Out" Event
    Streaming Invitation to the “Far Out” Event

    This event will begin streaming at 10 am Pacific Time on Wednesday, September 7th, 2022. Typically, Apple has Tuesday events, but September 5th is Labor Day in the United States, so it will be on Wednesday the 7th.

    As with all other events this one has a theme, “Far Out”. It has also become standard that there is an Augmented Reality experience when you visit the Apple Events page.

    This event’s AR object is a star field that you can zoom in on and view. Music will also play if you zoom in far enough.

    Augmented Reality object for September 7th, 2022 "Far Out" Event
    Augmented Reality view for the “Far Out” event

    It is likely that Apple will announce the new line up of iPhones as well as any new Apple Watches. It is not likely that we will see any new iPads given that Apple confirmed that iPadOS will be released later in the fall.

    As is the case with all Apple’s events I will have a recap of what was announced sometime after the event, as well as my predictions, sometime before the event.

  • Apple’s “Peek Performance” Event Predictions

    Apple’s “Peek Performance” Event Predictions

    With Apple’s “Peek Performance” event on Tuesday that means it is time that I make my predictions for what we will see.

    iPhone SE

    Apple has been releasing a new iPhone SE model in the spring since it was first introduced. The first generation was released on March 31st, 2016 and the second generation was released on April 24th, 2020.

    One might think that it would be another two years before Apple introduces a new iPhone SE, however I do not think that is the case. I think Apple wants to get as any iPhone 5G capable phones in the hands of people. The iPhone SE is one of only two remaining models that Apple sells, themselves, that are not 5G capable. The other model that is not 5G capable is the iPhone 11.

    I guess that the third-generation iPhone SE will have 5G, an A15 chip and will still have Touch ID. I could actually see the home button going away and being replaced with a Touch ID sensor in the power button.

    iPad Air

    The iPad Air was last updated the iPad Air in September of 2020. I suspect that there will be an update to the iPad Air. I do not suspect the form factor to change, just the internals.

    The biggest changes I see with be the addition of 5G and an A15 processor. The last possible change might be in the base amount storage going up from 64GB to 128GB.

    Mac mini

    I think Apple will also release the higher-end Mac mini. I do not think this will be much of a change from the existing M1 Mac mini, except for the color, Space Gray instead of Silver, and it will have an option for an M1 Pro or M1 Pro Max and additional storage configuration options. The available options would be the same ones that are available on the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros, meaning up to 64GB of Memory and up to 8TB of storage.

    Classical Music app

    The last thing that I think Apple might announce is the release of a classical music streaming app. Back in August Apple (https://www.apple.com/newsroom/2021/08/apple-acquires-classical-music-streaming-service-primephonic/) announced that they acquired the Primephonic streaming service. At the time, Apple stated that the Primephonic app would stop working on September 7th, and quote

    “Apple Music plans to launch a dedicated classical music app next year combining Primephonic’s classical user interface that fans have grown to love with more added features”

    It is possible that Apple will announce a release date for the revamped Primephonic app. I do not think this will be integrated into Music, but will be an entirely separate app.

    Prediction Recap

    • New iPhone SE with 5G
    • New iPhone SE still has Touch ID.
    • New iPad Air with A15
    • New iPd Air with 5G connectivity
    • New Mac mini with M1 Pro and M1 Pro Max
    • Announce release of revamped Primephonic app

    The “Peek Performance” event will begin streaming from Apple Park at 10a.m. Pacific time on Tuesday, March 8th. You can stream it on the Apple Events page.

    As has been the case with previous events, I will post a recap sometime after the event. I will also post the results of my predictions to see how well I did.

  • Apple Announces “Peek Performance” event announced

    Apple Announces “Peek Performance” event announced

    Today Apple has announced an event for March 8th that they are calling “Peek Performance”. This event will start at 10 am Pacific Time. As has been the case for the last couple of years, this will be a digital event.

    As usual, I will have my predictions for what we will see posted sometime before the event.

    Just like many of the recent Apple events, if you go to the Apple Events page on your iPhone, you can tap on the icon and see an augmented reality presentation. It may look like something like the photo below.

    "Peek Performance" event Augmented Reality object.
  • Apple ‘Unleashed’ Event Predictions Results

    Apple ‘Unleashed’ Event Predictions Results

    Apple held their ‘Unleashed’ event earlier this week and like every other event, I made a set of predictions for the event. Here is what I predicted as well as the results.

    New 14-inch Mac Book Pro/New 16-inch MacBook Pro

    I got these two predictions correct. I am combining these two into one because Apple did announce two new MacBook Pros, a 14-inch and a 16-inch. The reason that these are being combined is because they are effectively the same except in a couple of small ways.

    There is a new 14.2-inch MacBook Pro and a 16.2-inch MacBook Pro. These both have either an M1 Pro or an M1 Max that can be configured up to 64GB of unified memory and up to 8TB of storage. You can order one of the new MacBook Pros today, the 14-inch model starts at $1999 and the 16-inch model starts at $2499.

    Higher-End Mac mini

    Unfortunately, I did not get this one correct because there was no new higher-end Mac mini announced at today’s event.

    New AirPods

    I got this one correct as well. There are a new pair of 3rd generation AirPods that have a new contour shape that supports spatial audio, wireless charging via Qi or MagSafe. The 3rd generation AirPods cost $179, you can order them today for delivery next week.

    macOS Monterey release date

    This one is a tough one because Apple did not actually announce a release date at the event, but there is a release date for macOS Monterey. That date is next Monday, October 25th. It will be a free download for all users.

    Recap

    Overall, out of the five predictions I made, I got four of them correct, 80% is not a bad percentage for a results. You can read more about all of the announcements at the ‘Unleashed’ event in my event recap post.

  • Apple ‘Unleashed’ Event Announcements

    Apple ‘Unleashed’ Event Announcements

    Today Apple held their ‘Unleashed’ streaming event. Given that it was only 50 minutes, it was packed with a number of announcements. As anticipated it was an event that focused on two areas, Music and Macs. Let us go in order discussed with the event, starting with Apple Music.

    Apple Music Voice

    Apple Music Voice with AirPods, HomePod, and iPhone

    Apple announced their streaming service back in at WWDC 2015. At the time they indicated it would be available in July. Since the initial announcement there have been two plans, an individual plan for $9.99 a month and a family plan for $14.99. If you have an Apple One plan, it is included. Today Apple announced a whole new plan called the “Voice” for $4.99

    The Voice Plan will allow you to use only your voice and ask Siri to play a playlist, an artist, or any song from the catalog of 90 million songs and even the playlists that Apple Music has to offer. 

    Apple Music Voice is limited in what it offers. For instance, you do not get Spatial Audio, Lossless Audio, Lyrics, or Music Videos. These require the Individual or Family plan.

    Users can subscribe to the Apple Music Voice Plan through Siri by saying “Hey Siri, start my Apple Music Voice trial,” or by signing up through the Apple Music app. Once subscribed to Apple Music Voice, users can request music be played across all of their Siri-enabled devices, including HomePod mini, AirPods, iPhone, or any other Apple device, and when using CarPlay.

    Apple Music Voice plan will be available later this fall in 17 countries. It will cost $4.99 per month. If you do sign up for an Apple Music Voice Plan you will need something to play it on, say a HomePod mini. That is the next item on the agenda.

    Source: Apple Newsroom

    HomePod Mini

    The HomePod mini is a great device for being able to listen to music, audiobooks and podcasts. The HomePod mini can also be used 

    When introduced there were only two colors available, White and Space Gray. There are three new colors, Blue, Orange, and Yellow. These are functionally the same as the existing Space Gray and White HomePod mini, but these can add some additional pop and color to match your existing palette or style.

    These HomePod minis will be available in November for $99 each. Next, is something else you can use to listen to music, AirPods.

    HomePod mini 2021

    Source: Apple Newsroom

    AirPods

    3rd Generation AirPods

    Apple has been in the headphones market a long time, ever since the original iPod introduced 20 years ago in October of 2001. Apple’s first pair of Wireless headphones was the AirPods introduced in December of 2016. Two and a half years later the 2nd generation AirPods were introduced in March of 2019. Today, the 3rd generation of AirPods have been introduced.

    The third generation AirPods have an all new design similar to those of the AirPods Pro with shorter stems. They also have force touch support on the stems instead of having to tap on your ear. There are two big changes for the 3rd generation AirPods, support for Spatial Audio, improved battery, and wireless charging.

    The third-generation AirPods support Spatial audio, so you can be immersed in whatever audio you are listening to, whether it be a song, music, or a podcast. If you are watching a video that support spatial audio you will also become immersed in the audio. This is possible through  a new contour design on the AirPods that allow the Spatial audio to be directed right towards your ear. 

    The battery life has improved to 6 hours on a single charge with the case being able to five full charges for a total of 30 hours of charge. When you need to charge the 3rd generation AirPods you have three options, wired, using the USB-C to lightning cable, using a Qi-compatible charger, or using MagSafe.

    The last item to cover is the MacBook Pro.

    Source: Apple Newsroom

    MacBook Pro

    The MacBook Pro is the laptop designed for Pro Mac users and it just got a whole lot more pro. There are two all-new designed MacBook Pros, a 14-inch and a 16-inch. These are identical in their capabilities. We will get to those in a moment, but first we need to cover the chips that power these machines. These are the new M1 Pro and M1 Max chips.

    M1 Pro and M1 Max

    M1 Pro and M1 Max Chip logos

    The M1 Pro and M1 Max chips take the features of the M1 and crank them up. The M1 Pro ranges from an 8 cores CPU and 14-Core GPU, to a 10-core CPU and 16-core GPU. The M1 Pro has a memory bandwidth of 200 Gigabytes per second. The M1 Pro has a hardware video decode engine, a dedicated video encode engine, and a dedicated ProRees encode and decode engine built right into the chip. The maximum amount of memory on the M1 Pro is 32GB.

    Meanwhile, the M1 Max comes in a 10-core CPU and 24-core GPU or a 10-Core CPU and 32-Core GPU configuration. The M1 Max has double the memory bandwidth to 400 gigabytes per second, and also doubles the number of video encode engines and the number of ProRes encode and decode engines. The M1 Max can have up to 64GB of memory.

    The M1 is a system on a chip and has a unified memory architecture. This means that the memory is shared, resulting in up to 64GB of video memory when you have an M1 Max with 64GB of memory. These chips also have a dedicated display engine. This display engine allows the M1 Pro to have up to two Pro Display XDRs connected at the same time. The M1 Max can support three Pro Display XDRs and 4K tv at the same time. 

    According to Apple, these chips are up 2x faster in CPU performance, and 4x faster in GPU performance than the standard M1. Apple states that the M1 Max uses 40% less power than a comparable Pro PC with laptop graphics, while using up to 100 watts less power. 

    Source: Apple Newsroom

    14-Inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros

    14-inch MacBook Pro and 16-inch MacBook Pro

    The 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros are entirely new designs that have a bunch of new features. These features includes new displays, new connectivity, and a new camera. 

    Display

    The displays on the new MacBook Pros are 14.2-inch and 16.2 inch respectively. This is possible because the area around the screen has been reduced to 3.5mm on all sides. These displays use the Mini-LED technology from the iPad Pro to create super thin, but bright displays with up to 1000 nits of standard brightness and a peak of 1600 nits. The new display provides a new resolution of 3024×1964 on the 14-inch, and 3456×2244 on the 16-inch.

    Since these are the same technology as the iPad Pro displays, this means that the new MacBook Pros now also feature ProMotion, which can be up to 120Hz refresh. This should make everything super smooth when using macOS. While this adaptive refresh rate is on by default, it can be set if you need a specific refresh rate for what you are working on.

    Connectivity

    The MacBook Pros have a slew of connectivity. When the 2016 MacBook Pros were introduced they switched entirely to USB-C for everything. This mean that you would need a dongle to connect to have access to any port beside USB-C. That changes with these new models. 

    Both models feature 3 thunderbolt 4 ports, a headphone jack with support for high-impedance headphones, a dedicated SD card slot, a dedicated HDMI port, and, the best part of all, the return of MagSafe. MagSafe 3 also allows fast charging, meaning that you can get a 50% charge in 30 minutes. Battery life in the 14-inch is up to 17 hours, and the 16-inch will get you up to 21-hours of usage. 

    Camera

    The FaceTime camera on the MacBook Pro is in a notch and has been upgraded to a 1080p camera with an f/2.0 lens, which means that it has even better low-light performance. macOS handles the notch by extending the Menu Bar and keeping all of your content visible.

    Other Specs

    The 14-inch MacBook Pro starts at $1999 for a machine with an M1 Pro that has an 8-Core CPU, 14-Core GPU, 16GB Unified Memory, and 512GB SSD Storage. There is a slightly better model that is $2499, and comes with a 10-Core CPU, 16-Core GPU, 16GB of Unified Memory, and 1TB SSD Storage. 

    The MacBook Pro no longer has a TouchBar. In its place are the standard function keys. Physical function keys are generally more usable for professionals as opposed to the Touch Bar. There is still the Touch ID sensor in upper right corner of the keyboard.

    With either model you can configure up to 64GB of unified memory and up to 8TB of storage. There is also Apple Care available. There is a new option for Apple Care, an Annual payment for $149 or three years of coverage for $399. You can choose between Space Gray and Silver cases options.

    The 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro are available to order today with delivery starting next week. As of this writing, which is only a couple hours after the end of the end of the announcement, delivery dates have already slipped to early November for many configurations, and for some M1 Max models it is early December.

    Source: Apple Newsroom

    Closing Thoughts

    The things announced today are a definite improvement. The new Apple Music Voice plan is great for those who may only have a HomePod mini or only want to stream music without having to spend a lot. 

    The new colors of the HomePod mini can definitely spruce up ones place and the addition of colors is great to see. I hope to keep seeing new color options in the future.

    The 3rd generation AirPods are a bit more at $179, instead of the $159 price of the 2nd generation, but they now include the wireless charging case and support for spacial audio. They should be a good improvement over the 2nd generation. I have purchased a pair of these for myself and will have a review of them sometime after I get them. The 2nd generation AirPods is still around at a new price of $129. You can order the 3rd generation AirPods today and they will begin delivery next week.

    The star of the show are the new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros with the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips. These chips provide significant performance increases over the standard M1 and even more improvement over the previous Intel versions. The new Mini-LED displays allow for even better performance due to the capabilities of the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips, but also due to the addition of ProMotion. The battery life has significantly improved to 17 hours for the 14-inch model and up to 21 hours on the 16-inch model. You can order these starting today and they will begin shipping next week.