Sent by President Thomas Jefferson to find the Northwest Passage, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark led the most important expedition in American history. This extraordinary film tells the remarkable story of the entire Corps of Discovery.
Yesterday Apple announced that their Business Essentials product, which was announced in November of 2021, is now available for all small businesses in the United States.
To recap, the Business Essentials service allows companies to have a one-stop place to manage not only user accounts and devices, but also with the possibility of getting AppleCare+ support on devices. This includes 24/7 technical support that your employees or IT staff can use to get support from Apple for both devices and software.
Beyond this, Apple Small Business Essentials comes with dedicated iCloud storage for documents, collaboration, and general storage. Along with this, any business data is automatically backed up to iCloud so upgrading devices, or changing to a new device, simple and easy. This is made possible through the use of a managed Apple ID, which allows for the separation of work and personal data.
Prices for Business Essentials range from $2.99 per user per month to $24.99 per user per month, depending on devices, storage, and AppleCare. Here are the features that you can get, and at which price point.
Cost per month
For those plans that include repair credits, that can be on-site repair, in some markets. This means that the device can be able to be repaired quickly and the employee can get back to doing their work as soon as possible.
If you are interested, you can learn more about Apple’s Business Essentials at the service’s dedicated website.
This article continues the series that I started earlier this year called “15 Years Later”. The series is intended to look back at 2007 and many of the big things that happened in relation to technology, at least in my life.
Next in the series relates to the Windows Vista article, and that is my first Mac. We will get to my first Mac in a bit, but before that let us look at a brief history of my interactions and usage of Apple products prior to 2007.
A Brief History with Apple and their products
One of the things that Apple did during the 1980s and 1990s was try to get Macs into schools. Because of this many people’s first interactions with Apple were through these computers. I am no exception. Throughout school we had Macs, not everywhere, but we definitely had labs of Macs. Some of these included Apple IIs. I remember playing Oregon Trail on the green screens.
We did have a hand-me-down Apple II at home for a while and we played some games on it, games like Into the Eagles Nest, Oregon Trail, and others. However, we also had PCs where we used those most often.
Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s we had PCs, all Gateway computers in fact. Since we had PCs, I did not have much interaction with Apple and Macs until around February of 2005 when I needed up buying a 1st generation iPod mini. This was after the 2nd generation had been introduced. I managed to get an iPod Mini on sale. So this was my first actual Apple device that I bought.
It was not that I was not aware of Apple products, I was. However, as mentioned, I was using PCs at the time. Including purchasing Windows Vista, which was a complete disaster when it launched. Because of my significant issues with Vista, I started looking more intently at the Mac.
On March 28th, 2007 I bought my first Mac. Before I dive into my recollections of the iMac, let us look at what led me to getting the iMac.
Deciding on the Mac
There were many things that lead me to getting the iMac. The biggest of these was the fact that it had an Intel processor. What this meant is that I could run Windows either via virtualization or natively via Apple’s Boot Camp functionality.
At the time, I distinctly thinking that if I was to get a Mac I would definitely want it to be an Intel-based one so that I could run Windows if I needed. If it did manage to turn out that I did not necessarily want to use the Mac, I could always just boot into Windows and use the iMac as a Windows computer.
I do remember looking at a Mac mini as an option, but the specs on the 20-inch iMac were higher than what was possible on the Mac mini. Therefore, I decided to get an iMac.
My First iMac
As I posted at the time, the first Mac that I purchased was a 20-inch Intel Core 2 Duo iMac with a 128MB ATI Radeon x1600 dedicated graphics card, with 1GB of RAM and a 250GB hard drive.
I remember wanting the 24-inch model, but it was more than I wanted to spend at the time. The 20-inch iMac had decent specs. At the time 250GB of storage was enough for what I needed.
The 250GB hard drive would allow me to store a lot of data, including having enough space to carve out for Windows, whether using Parallels or Bootcamp. On the topic of Windows, let us look at that briefly.
As mentioned above, one of the reasons I opted to get an Intel-based Mac was to be able to run Windows, in some form, should I need to. There are two ways to be able to run Windows on an Intel-based Mac. You can either use virtualization, using software like Parallels, VMWare Fusion, or even VirtualBox or by using Apple’s Bootcamp.
Virtualization allows you to run both macOS and Windows at the same time. When you run Windows within macOS is considered the “host” operating system, while Windows is the “guest” operating system. This technique works well if you have Windows-only software that you need to run, but you still want to be able to use your Mac apps at the same time.
Meanwhile, Apple’s Bootcamp will allow you to run Windows natively on a Mac. This means that you will not be able to access any of the Mac apps, nor run them, because using Bootcamp means that you are booting directly into Windows, and not macOS.
I remember installing Windows in Bootcamp on the iMac. Instead of installing Windows Vista, I ended up installing Windows XP. I did not suspect I would have the same drivers issues that I was experiencing on Windows Vista itself, because Apple was the one who wrote the drivers for Bootcamp, and they surely did not want users to have a bad experience.
Speaking of macOS, let us look at some of the things that were on macOS at the time.
The 20-inch iMac that I purchased in 2007 was running Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger. Tiger included a number of features, like Spotlight, iChat, and Dashboard. It would support four different
I remember thinking that macOS was significantly different than Windows, and it was then, and it still is even today. Coming from Windows it was initially tough to adjust to the different paradigm of how things are setup on macOS. One thing that many people did not necessarily need to deal with in Windows, at least at home, is permissions. Most macOS users do not need to worry about them either, but given the Unix underpinnings of macOS, power users may need some basic knowledge of permissions.
The Late 2006 20-inch iMac came with Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger, but it would support up to Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, which was released in 2011. Just about five years of support for a desktop in the mid-to-late 2000s was more than most could
It did take some time, but eventually I got comfortable with the way things worked with the Mac. There is one particular set of apps I want to discuss, and those are text editors. So let us look those next.
I distinctly remember being both excited and disoriented at the same time. The way macOS works is different than Windows. Beyond that, the applications were significantly different.
Safari has come pre-installed with macOS for over 20 years now. It is the default browser, and the one that I use more often than any other, even to this day. The web is the web and things all worked the same. However, one area where things are vastly different is when it comes to programming tools.
When using Windows I primarily ended up using Notepad for almost all of my code editing. When I started using the iMac, I figured I would use the same technique. In the case of macOS, the text editor is TextEdit.
While this worked, I figured there had to be a better option. I started looking around and eventually stumbled across TextWrangler. TextWrangler was the free version of Bare Bones’ software BBEdit. TextsWrangler has since stopped being updated, but there is a free evaluation version of BBEdit.
Most of today’s Apple products cannot be upgraded in any way. As of this writing, which is just after Apple’s “Peek Performance” event, there are only two device that can be upgraded. The Intel-based Mac mini and that is the 2019 Mac Pro. Back in 2007 this was not the case. Almost all of Apple’s computers could be upgraded.
It was not long before I ended up adding additional memory within two weeks of getting the iMac. I thought it was longer, but it was about 10 days, according to this post.
The upgrade procedure was quite straight forward.
Turn off and unplug the iMac
Unscrew the two screws at the bottom of the iMac to expose the memory. The screws did not come out of the cover.
Remove the cover.
Pull the two tabs to pop out the memory.
Put in the new memory.
Secure the screws on the cover.
Plug back in and turn on the iMac.
If done properly, it would be an easy upgrade. And so that is what I ended up doing, upgrading the memory. There was a limitation of the Late 2006 20-inch iMac is that it was a 32-bit systems. This meant that the maximum amount of memory that the system could address was 3GB of RAM, technically 3.22GB. Additionally, with only two slots of memory, this meant that the iMac could have a 1GB and a 2GB memory module to get the maximum amount of memory. Technically, you could install two 2GB modules, but again, the maximum memory was 3.22GB. If you needed that extra 220MB of memory, it could be a worthy upgrade.
The 1GB that came with the iMac would have been enough for just running macOS, but having the 2GB of memory would be needed to run Parallels. This was actually a prudent decision on my part, because the next version of macOS, Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard needed 2GB of RAM to run.
I no longer have the 20-inch iMac in my possession, so I can not verify , but if I recall properly the screen was not of the best quality. Yes, it was 20 inches diagonally and it worked well, for the time. At this point in time though. I do not know if I could even handle a 24-inch screen, let alone a 20-inch screen, I have become way too accustomed to having a 27-inch monitor
I do not regret getting the 20-inch iMac back in 2007. It was a good machine for the time and allowed me to learn a new operating system, yet at the same time move away from the problems of Windows Vista. The answer was the iMac.
The Late 2006 20-inch iMac will always have a special place in the computers I have owned. This is because it was my foray into the world of Macs and macOS. The iMac I bought in 2007 was not the last Apple product, let alone Mac, that I would buy during the year. But those are products for posts later in the year.
The picture below is from the box for the iMac, even though I do not have the iMac itself, I still do have the box. It makes a great place to put things on that are not too heavy.
Apple touts that its products are of high quality. For the vast majority of cases, this is true. No matter how much quality assurance is done, there are always going to be individual exceptions to having quality products. I do not mean lines of products, although sometimes that happens. What I mean is that individual items end up going bad. No matter how hard a company tires, it is just the way with modern manufacturing. Apple started out as a computer company, and has since transitioned away from being a computer company to be a general technology company, and is attempting to move towards being a services company.
Most of Apple’s modern devices are all-in-one devices. Some examples are the iPhone, iPad, MacBook Pro, Apple Watch, and MacBook Air. These devices all come with displays built-in. For all of these, except the Apple Watch, you can plug in the device into an external monitor if you so choose. Most people who have an iPad or iPhone may use AirPlay, but sometimes that is not always possible and instead connecting directly is the way to go. Before we dive into Apple’s latest standalone display, let us look back at a short history of Apple’s previous displays.
Apple Display History
Standalone displays are not a new product line for Apple. The first computers that Apple created did not include a monitor and instead users were instructed to plug the computer into their television. This changed in 1980 when Apple unveiled the “Apple III”. The Apple III included a Cathode Ray Tube, or CRT, monitor. Apple would continue to offer CRT monitors for sale with computers until the late 1990s. At this point Apple began a switch away from CRT monitors to flat-panel monitors. These would not be the first Liquid Crystal Display, or LCD monitors. The first LCDs were used with the Mac Portable line of computers during the mid to late 1990s. Most did not have any experience with these because most users purchased desktop computers.
The standalone displays produced by Apple have had a long history and have shifted over the years. Over the last 25 years there have been 16 different models of standalone display sold by Apple. Most have been flat-panel models, however there have been a few CRT-based models. Here is a list of all of the released Standalone displays with the introduction and end dates. The list includes:
Apple Studio Display – 15-inch – March 1998 – January 1999
Apple Studio Display – 17-inch (CRT) – January 1999 – May 2002
Apple Studio Display – 21-inch (CRT) – January 1999 – January 2000
Cinema Display – 22-inch – September 1999 – July 2000
Cinema Display – 22-inch – July 2000 – June 2003
Apple Studio Display – 15-inch – July 2000 – January 2003
Apple Studio Display – 17-inch – May 2001 – January 2004
Cinema HD Display – 23-inch – March 2002 – June 2004
Cinema Display – 20-inch – January 2003 – June 2004
Cinema Display – 20-inch – June 2004 – February 2009
Cinema HD Display – 23-inch – June 2004 – November 2008
Cinema HD Display – 30-inch – June 2004 – July 2010
LED Cinema Display – 24-inch – October 2008 – July 2010
LED Cinema Display – 27-inch – July 2010 – December 2013
Thunderbolt Display – 27-inch – July 2011 – June 2016
Pro Display XDR – 32-inch – December 2019 – Currently Available
If you look at each of these displays, you may notice that each display type was not on the market for that long. The longest was the 30-inch Cinema Display, which was around for just over six years. The next longest available was the Thunderbolt Display, which was just about five years. Most models were only around for a year or two. We will not dive into all of these different models, but we will look at three models. In order we will look at the Thunderbolt Display, the LG UltraFine displays, and the Pro Display XDR. The reason for these two in particular will be shown. But before we dive into each of those, there is a quick side topic that I want to cover, Target Display Mode.
Target Display Mode
One of the features that Apple included in Macs between 2009 and 2014 was a feature called Target Display Mode. Target Display mode was a way of being able to connect a Mac to an iMac and use the iMac as a display for the other Mac. This function worked well when using a MacBook or MacBook Pro, and using an old iMac. Target Display Mode only worked for iMac between 2009 and mid-2014. You can check out the Apple support article all about Target Display Mode.
The big change that happened with iMacs released after mid-2014 is that the screen resolution of iMacs improved to become “Retina”. The late 2014 iMac came in two sizes, 21.5-inch and 27-inch. The 21.5-inch was 4K and the 27-inch was 5K. Both of these required a custom timing controller. This timing controller meant that the iMac could no longer be used as a second display for a Mac.
When I got my Early 2015 iMac, I remember using my mid-2011 iMac as a second display for the laptop. It worked quite well and when I needed a larger screen it was a nice thing to have. There are third-party solutions, like Luna Display, which can take an iMac and make it into a second display. Before you delve down this, you may want to read about Adam Engst’s experience at Tidbits.com or Allison Sheradin’s experience at Podfeet.com.
Now, let us look at one of Apple’s standalone displays, the Thunderbolt Display.
The Thunderbolt Display was introduced in July of 2011 and Apple stopped selling it as of June 2016. The Thunderbolt Display was a 27-inch in-plane switching, or IPS, paneled display. It had a resolution of 2560×1440, so just slightly higher than High Definition. The Thunderbolt Display was an improvement over previous versions because it was intentionally designed to be used with a MacBook or MacBook Pro. It was not just designed to be able to connect to a MacBook or MacBook Pro, but the Thunderbolt Display included a MagSafe power adapter that would allow you to charge a MacBook Pro when it was connected to the Thunderbolt Display.
One of the advertising aspects of the Thunderbolt Display is that there were two cables total, the Thunderbolt cable with MagSafe connector, and the power cable. The Thunderbolt Display was more than just a display, it was actually a hub. If you connected the Thunderbolt Display to a Mac, you could plugin some peripherals with the provided ports and the devices would be connected to the Mac. The available ports on the Thunderbolt Display were three USB 2.0 ports, one Firewire 800 port, another Thunderbolt Port, and a gigabit ethernet port.
Almost six years ago, on June 23, 2016, Apple announced, through a statement, that it was discontinuing the Thunderbolt Display and they would no longer produce standalone displays. At the time they stated,
“We’re discontinuing the Apple Thunderbolt Display. It will be available through Apple.com, Apple’s retail stores and Apple Authorized Resellers while supplies last. There are a number of great third-party options available for Mac users”.
Apple would continue to sell the Thunderbolt Display until supplies ran out. Apple clearly stated that they were getting out of the standalone display business. Instead of making their own displays Apple decided to partner with LG to make some displays. Let us look the LG UltraFine displays next.
When Apple introduced the 27-inch 5K Retina iMac in 2014 many were hoping that Apple would eventually release an “iMac without the computer”, meaning just the screen. However, this did not happen. Instead, as mentioned above, Apple partnered with LG to make displays that were not only compatible with Macs, but also sold by Apple in its physical stores as well as their online store.
The reason that they chose LG is because LG was already in the display manufacturing business. Secondly, LG was the company that built the actual panels that were used for Apple’s 4K and 5K Retina displays in the iMac; therefore it made sense to partner with LG to make the displays.
The LG UltraFine monitors came in two sizes, a 21.5-inch 4K model with a resolution of 3840-by-2160, and a 27-inch 5K model with a resolution of 5120-by-2880 pixels. These resolutions are the same as the 4K and 5K Retina iMacs. The screens also included support for the P3 color gamut, meaning that colors are brighter and more vibrant than standard Red Green Blue color space.
The LG UltraFine monitors also featured a Thunderbolt 3 connector and a USB Hub to connect up to three USB-C devices. The USB-C ports are USB 3.1 generation 1, which are capable of up to 5 gigabits per second. As you may notice, this is very similar to the functionality of Apple’s Thunderbolt Display, just by a third-party manufacturer.
Also similar to the Thunderbolt Display you could charge a MacBook or MacBook Pro. The 4K model could charge up to 60 watts and the 5k Model could charge up to 85 watts. These two wattages means that you could easily charge any of Apple’s MacBooks.
In May of 2019 some changes were made. The 21.5-inch 4K model was replaced by 23.7-inch 4K model. The power from the monitor was increased to 85 watts. The 27-inch model was updated in July of 2019. The changes for this model were increased power to 94 watts, and this added support for the iPad Pro.
The LG UltraFine monitors were not completely well received, at least not by everyone.
LG UltraFine Critiques
There were some critiques of the UltraFine monitors. The most notable is that if you had a 27-inch LG UltraFine that was too close to a wireless router, including the Apple AirPort, the screen would go black and become unusable. LG did fix this by adding additional shielding to models produced after February 2017.
There was another issue that has not been satisfyingly fixed, and that is that the monitor does not always sit properly on the stand. What happens is that the stand ends up wobbling whenever it is touched. This can make using the UltraFine less than ideal.
In June of 2019 at their World Wide Developer’s Conference, Apple unveiled a brand new Mac Pro with its complement Display, the Pro Display XDR.
Pro Display XDR
Introduced in June of 2019, the Pro Display XDR was the first Apple standalone display in three years. The Pro Display XDR took the 5K Retina screen and made it bigger. The Pro Display XDR is a 32-inch 6K monitor with a resolution of 6016 by 3384. The “XDR” portion within the name stands for Extreme Dynamic Range. Dynamic Range, in relation to color, is the range from smallest value and the largest value. In this case, it is in terms of color range.
Similar to the Thunderbolt Display and the LG UltraFine, the Pro Display XDR can also be used as a USB hub, USB-C to be exact. However, unlike the Thunderbolt and LG UltraFine these ports are USB 2 speed, except when using a 16-inch MacBook Pro, where they are USB 3.1 generation 1, or 5 gigabits per second. So, in reality these ports are better used for charging or for devices that are not speed-sensitive. The reason for this is because the bandwidth for Thunderbolt 3 is used up by the display to make sure it gets the full 6K screen resolution.
When the Pro Display XDR was introduced Apple mentioned that it was a display that could be used as a replacement for $40,000 reference monitors that are used by video professionals to make sure they are getting accurate color within their video or photos. Color is not the only reference mode that you can do with the Pro Display XDR. The complete list of reference modes includes:
Pro Display XDR (P3-1600 nits)
Apple Display (P3-500 nits)
HDR Video (P3-ST 2084)
HDTV Video (BT.709-BT.1886)
NTSC Video (BT.601 SMPTE-C)
PAL and SECAM Video (BT.601 EBU)
Digital Cinema (P3-DCI)
Digital Cinema (P3-D65)
Design and Print (P3-D50)
Internet and Web (sRGB)
Beyond reference modes the Pro Display XDR has some additional features that can be found on other Apple devices. This includes, Night Shift and True Tone both adjust the color. Night Shift automatically adjusts the color temperature of the display as the day progresses to the warmer end of the spectrum, so this is easier on the eyes.
True Tone will take the light levels around you and adjust the temperature of the screen to be close to the light in the area surrounding you. This is designed to make the color appear more natural.
The Pro Display XDR also supports Dolby HDR 10 and Hybrid-Lag Gamma (HLG) playback for video. Along with this, the Pro Display XDR supports various refresh rates, including 47.95Hz, 48.00Hz, 50.00Hz, 59.94Hz, and 60.00Hz. These refresh rates are standards that are used for both National Television System Committee, or NTSC, and Phase Alternating Line, or PAL, standards.
The Pro Display XDR is a standalone display that has some advanced features. The Pro Display XDR is designed for professionals and has the professional price. The Pro Display XDR starts at $4999 to be exact, and that is without a stand. You have two options for stands, the Pro Stand or the VESA mount. The Pro Stand will add an additional $999 and the VESA mount adds $199.
There is an alternative screen technology, which is an option for the Pro Display XDR. That technology Apple calls “Nano Texture”. Nano Texture is an advanced glass technology that is etched directly into the glass and it is not another layer on the glass. Nano Texture is designed for those places that have direct sunlight or changing lighting conditions where being able to see the screen in all conditions is needed. For most users though, Nano Texture glass is not needed, but for those that need it, it is an option.
Therefore, the base model Pro Display XDR and the professional stand brings the total price up to $5999 for both. The Nano Texture price will add another $1000. Many people want to get an Apple standalone display, but cannot afford, nor justify, the entry price. However, there is now a product that more people can afford called the Studio Display. Now, let us look at the Studio Display.
As mentioned earlier, many Mac users have been hoping Apple to take the screen out of the 27-inch iMac and just put it into a standalone display, which is basically the iMac without the computer. When Apple announced that it was no longer making standalone displays, many figured that Apple would not end up doing this. Furthermore, Apple has done just this, and then some. Before we dive into the display itself, let us look at the name.
The Studio Display was introduced at the same time as the Mac Studio computer, so the common word of “Studio” makes sense and the two products are very complementary. Long time Mac observers may recognize the name “Studio Display”, because it is not the first time that Apple has used the name “Studio Display” before.
The name of “Studio Display” was used previously in 1998 when it was used for the 15-inch flat panel LCD that was introduced with the G4 Cube. This was the start of a series of flat-panel and cathode ray tube (CRT) monitors that ranged from a 15-inch screen to a 22″ model.
Beyond the name, each of the Apple Studio Displays had a commonality between all of the displays. That commonality was that they were all in the same ratio, 4:3. The various models had different connections. Some had DVI, others had ADC. The 17-inch Apple Studio Display was the last model available, but was ultimately discontinued in 2004. The replacement was Apple’s Cinema Display line, which was a line of widescreen displays.
It has been almost 18 years since the name was last used, and with a new display, it makes sense to use the name again. Now that the name has been covered, let us look at the devices that you can use with the Studio Display.
There are a number of devices that fully support the Studio Display. These include:
Mac Studio (2022)
16-inch MacBook Pro (2019 or later)
14-inch MacBook Pro (2021)
13-inch MacBook Pro (2016 or later)
15-inch MacBook Pro (2016 or later)
MacBook Air (2018 or later)
Mac mini (2018 or later)
Mac Pro (2019 or later)
24-inch iMac (2021)
27-inch iMac (2017 or later)
21.5-inch iMac (2017 or later)
iMac Pro (2017)
Macs are not the only devices that support the Studio Display. You can also connect an iPad to the Studio Display. There are only a few iPad models that are supported. The complete list includes:
iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd generation or later)
iPad Pro 11-inch
iPad Air (5th generation)
The reason that there are only a few models that support the Studio Display is because each of the iPads has an M1 processor. The M1 has Thunderbolt support. In order to be able to support the full 5K resolution, as well as being able to support charging, you need enough power and bandwidth. Other devices, like the iPad mini, only supports USB-C, so it only has 5 gigabits per second for bandwidth. This just is not enough to handle 5K resolution. The 5K resolution for the Studio Display needs 14.75 gigabits per second. With this whole discrepancy you can see that USB-C just does not have enough bandwidth for the display.
When you do connect one of the supported iPads to the Studio Display you will likely see the iPad screen mirrored to the display. It is possible that some apps will display a different screen than the main app, but the developer needs to explicitly code this into their app to fully support external displays.
Now that we have looked at what devices can be used with the Studio Display, let us look at what drives the Apple Studio Display.
Every display that you use, no matter how small or large, nor how basic or how advanced, needs some sort of mechanism to actually run the display.
You might think that a display is a very basic item. All that the display would need to do is take the video signal from the Mac and put it upon the screen. If this was the case, it might be easy enough to just use an off-the-shelf part. However, with the Studio Display that is not Apple’s approach.
Apple could have developed an entirely custom chip, with its own custom firmware, just for the Studio Display, but it was not necessary to do, because Apple already had developed a chip that would be able to handle all most of the features of the Studio Display, That chip is one that Apple has used for a number of its products. The Studio Display has an A13 processor in it, and it is the same processor found in the 9th generation 10.2-inch iPad, iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone 11 Pro Max, and 2nd generation iPhone SE.
Even though Apple included an A13, they could have created a custom operating system, or firmware, just for the Studio Display, but they did not. Instead, they are using iOS, yes, iOS to run the Studio Display. You can actually check the firmware version of your Studio Display by using the following steps:
Click on the Apple Menu.
Click on “About the Mac”.
Click on “System Report” to bring up the system report.
Click on “Graphics/Displays”. Each of the graphics cards and displays should be shown.
Under Studio Display, locate the line that says “Display Firmware Version”.
This is the firmware version. As of this writing my Studio Display has Version 15.4 (Build 19E241). This is the same build as iOS and iPadOS 15.4. From time to time, you may need to update the firmware in your Studio Display, so let us look at that next.
The Studio Display will likely need to be updated to improve features and functions. It is possible to think that there might be a dedicated app to update the firmware, but that is not Apple’s approach to this. Instead, you update the firmware for the Studio Display as you would any other update to macOS, by going to Software Update. If there is an update it will appear in “Software Update” in system preferences. Once the update has been downloaded and installed, the Studio Display will reboot to complete the installation of the firmware.
There is an Apple support article that was published on March 19th, 2022 which outlines the process as well. The update took about 10 minutes total from the time I started the download to the time macOS booted up again. You will need to reboot your Mac, because the firmware on the Studio Display will need to be updated when macOS is not running. After I updated my Studio Display, it was running 15.4 (Build 19E241).
There are a lot of things that the A13 is used for, and with iOS running on the display, it . One of the most important reasons that Apple included an A13 was for one of the features of the Studio Display, the camera, so let us look at that next.
One feature that the Studio Display has, that the Pro Display XDR does not, is a built-in camera. The camera on the Studio Display is a 12 megapixel ultra-wide camera, the same one that is on the 5th generation iPad Air.
The A13 processor contains an image signal processor. The image signal processor is used to process the signal coming from the camera and then applying various filters, and then sends them to the display to be shown through whichever app needs the camera. On the topic of the camera, let us look at the specs.
The camera has a 122 degree field of view with an ƒ/2.4 aperture. These specifications allow a device to support feature Apple calls Center Stage. Center Stage is a feature that will automatically follow anybody in the view of the camera, so they remain the focus of the view. This is possible because the camera will automatically move in and out as the focus of the screen changes. This is the same feature that is on the following devices:
5th Generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro
3rd Generation 11-inch iPad Pro
9th generation 10.2-inch iPad
6th generation 7.9-inch iPad mini
5th generation 10.9-inch iPad Air
The Studio Display is the first non-iPad device to support Center Stage. As of this writing, there are no Macs that support Center Stage, just iPhones and iPads. Even though the Mac does not natively support Center Stage, if you have a Mac connected it will support Center Stage through the Studio Display.
I am not one who uses cameras for video calls that often. The only time I generally do is for work. For those I use my work issued MacBook Pro.
I did do some testing with the camera, and I did see that the camera did seem to have some artifacts when I was using it. What I mean by this is that the the image did not seem to be as crisp as it could have been. Instead, it was blocky and not what many would suspect from Apple’s hardware.
Other reviewers who had the product before me have stated that Apple has acknowledged that there are issues and they will be releasing a firmware update in the future.
Let us now look at something that is related to the camera, or at least is used in conjunction with the camera. That item is the microphones.
The Studio Display has an array of three microphones. These are used with the camera to provide audio for FaceTime calls, or any other app that uses the camera. According to Apple, the microphones have a high signal-to-noise ratio. What this means is that the higher the signal to noise ratio the clearer the audio will be.
Beyond the high signal-to-noise ratio, the microphones also have directional beamforming. Beamforming is used to be able to cancel out background noise, all while picking up the person speaking. This will be very useful when on FaceTime or other video calls, because any background noise will be removed which should help make your voice as clear as possible.
The microphones are not only used for video calls. The Studio Display has another feature, it supports “Hey Siri”.
Back in April of 2010 it was announced that Apple purchased an app called “Siri”. When Apple purchased the Siri app it continued to be available on the store. With the introduction of the iPhone 5S in October of 2011 Apple released a version of Siri built into iOS.
Starting in 2014 iOS and iPadOS devices could actually use a new feature called “Hey Siri”, without needing to touch the device itself. This was only supported on iPhone 6s and later. The list of supported iPads for “Hey Siri” include:
iPad Air (3rd generation) and later
iPad mini (5th generation) and later
iPad Pro 12.9-inch (2nd generation) and later
iPad Pro (10.5-inch)
iPad Pro (9.7-inch)
iPad Pro (11-inch) all generations
iPad (6th generation) or later
iPhone and iPads are not the only devices that now support Hey Siri. The other devices that support it are HomePod, AirPods 2nd generation or later, AirPods Pro, AirPods Max, Apple Watch, various Beats models, MacBook Pros (2018 and later), MacBook Air (2018 and later), iMac Pro, iMac (2020 and later). You can add one more device, the Studio Display.
As mentioned above, the Studio Display uses an A13. One thing that the A13 can do is be used for “Hey Siri” on the device. Having Hey Siri on the Studio Display means that you can get information regardless of which Mac is connected. This means that you can ask Siri to get the current weather, sports scores, or any of the general facts that Siri is able to retrieve for you.
The Apple Studio Display is not only for displaying things or being able to use FaceTime, but it can also be used to connect things, so let us look at what you can connect to the Apple Studio Display.
Much along the lines of LG UltraFine displays, the Studio Display can be used for more than just a display. The Studio Display can also be used as a USB hub for connecting additional devices. You can connect up to three USB-C devices. The three USB-C ports are capable of handling up to 10 gigabits per second, which is twice as fast as the LG UltraFine monitors was capable of.
To make things easier, there is a Thunderbolt cable included with the Apple Studio Display. This cable is compatible with Thunderbolt 3 ports so you can connect the Studio Display to any compatible Mac or iPad. The maximum bandwidth for Thunderbolt 3 is 34.56 gigabits per second. The math is a lot of multiplication, but if you are not using any compression, running at the native resolution of 5120 by 2880, with 12 bits of color, the entire link can become saturated.
It is not likely that the peripherals will get the full 10 gigabits per second throughput. This is because the video will get priority for the bandwidth from the Mac to the Studio Display. This makes sense because any configuration that would have the video become distorted would negate the entire purpose of having the display. Instead, it makes more sense to have the throughput of peripherals drop down and become slower, because you are less likely to notice a speed drop in peripherals, where you would if the display is distorted.
As of right now items without batteries still needs to be physically connected to power. Technology has not progressed enough to have perfected wireless power, and I do not mean Qi charging, that is more inductive charging than true wireless charging. The power cable on the Studio Display is directly connected with no way of being able to remove it. This is not the first time that Apple has used this approach with its products. There are two recent products that do not have removable power cables, the HomePod and HomePod mini.
For the HomePods, one could argue that it makes sense because those two products are speakers that might cause some issues if the power cables were removable. It would also add some bulk to the product and likely interfere with the acoustics of the speakers if there was a bulky power cable coming out one of the sides of the HomePod.
The thing with the Studio Display is that that argument does not hold up. The Studio Display is a large product, so it should also have a removable power cable. All of Apple’s previous displays, including the Pro Display XDR have had a removable power cable. Laptops, obviously, need to have them, but all iMacs have had a removable power cable.
I have a couple of theories as to why there is no removable power cord on the Studio Display, plug placement. My guess is that there is not much space left on the interior of the Studio Display that would allow a power plug to be exposed to the back of the display. The second theory is that this may be the approach going forward. For devices like displays, HomePods, and other “appliance” devices that are not portable, have the cable built right into the device without being able to remove it.
What I do find interesting with this is that Apple could have placed the power plug anywhere. They did not put it directly center on the Pro Display XDR, so it could have been an option to place the power cord anywhere along the back of the device.
Friend, and editor of my books, Barry Sullivan has his own theory. He thinks it is a cost cutting decision. Having a power cord that is hardwired to the display is just plain wrong. The cost of repairing a damaged cord is expensive. What does one do for a display on their computer while waiting for repairs?
Regardless of why Apple decided to do this, it could be problematic for some users. There are instances when you want to be able to have either a longer power cord, or a shorter one, depending on need. Since that is not an option with the Studio Display, there will likely be a loop of extra cable.
That covers the connectivity, so let us move onto the speakers.
If you were to look at all sorts of monitors, one thing that you might notice is that most monitors do not have speakers on them. This is the case for a couple of reasons. First, including them would make monitor and the internals a bit more complex. Secondly, for most people the price of the monitor is a factor when it comes to which monitor to purchase. Therefore, any speakers that would be included with the monitor would increase the price of the monitor, again price is a major factor for most users. Furthermore, any speakers that would be included would likely not be of the highest quality, because while a differentiation, it increases the price of the monitor. Lastly, and somewhat related, many who want good speakers will have a separate pair of external speakers, therefore including them are are not worthwhile. If you do manage to find a monitor that has speakers in it, they are very likely going to be basic stereo speakers.
Unlike the Pro Display XDR, the Studio Display does have speakers built-in. Over the last few years Apple has steadily been improving the speakers in all of their products. The Studio Display has a six-speaker system, similar to that of the MacBook Pro.
The speakers support Spatial Audio for music as well as video with Dolby Atmos audio. The Dolby Atmos support means that you can watch movies with pretty good audio right on the monitor. This is a significant improvement over using the built-in speaker on the Mac mini, and likely significant improvements over the built-in speakers in the Mac Studio.
During my usage, I easily noticed that the Studio Display speakers are significantly better than the iMac speakers. They have more bass, and are louder in general than the iMac speakers. This makes complete sense given that there are six speakers in the Studio Display as opposed to the two speakers in the iMac.
For additional comparison I tested the speakers on my iPad Pro and they sound better than the iMac, but not nearly as loud as the iMac. The Studio Display speakers sound a lot better than the iPad Pro, which makes sense given there is more space for the Studio Display to move air, and the are more speakers. However, when I compared to a HomePod mini, the HomePod mini has better sound than even the Studio Display. After thinking about it for a bit, I can understand why. The HomePod mini is designed to create the best sound for the environment that it is in.
If you look at a System Report for the a device that has a Studio Display connected, you may notice that the there are actually 8 output channels. These are capable of outputting up to 48KHz, so it can provide high quality sound. The internal speakers on my mid-2017 iMac can only output at 44.1KHz, so this is definitely and improvement, just in output quality.
Even though the HomePod mini sounds better, the Studio Display speakers are still really good, and much improved over the iMac speakers. Now that viewing things has been mentioned, let us look at the screen itself.
Throughout my time using computers I have gone back and forth between using two screens and just using one. The sizes of the screens have varied as I have purchased new computers and new screens.
If you have used any of the 27-inch 5K Retina iMacs since their introduction in 2014, you may not initially notice that many differences between the Studio Display and the 5K Retina iMac Screen. You would be completely rationale to think that they are same screen. The reason you might think this is because the actual screen of the Studio Display is very, very similar. In fact, they are the exact except for one specification. The resolution as the 27-inch 5K iMac, of 5120-by-2880, it supports the P3 color gamut, True Tone, and supports for 1 billion colors, and support for Night Shift.
The one area where the Studio Display screen has a slight improvement over the previous 27-inch 5K iMac is in its brightness. Instead of having 500 nits of brightness of the 5K iMac, the Studio Display has a maximum of 600-nits of brightness. This is a 20% improvement. What this means is that the screen can be brighter when needed.
You may not initially notice any change, but that is not really a problem because you likely will not want to have the screen at its highest brightness setting. Having the highest brightness level can hurt ones eyes when used for a long time. Even if you do not want to use it at its brightest settings all the time, there may be times when you need it temporarily. For those times, there is a feature that can utilize the full brightness.
It has been a while since I have had two Apple screens connected to a computer and I had forgotten that when you have two Apple displays connected, that many functions can be set independently. For instance, The brightness setting can be set differently for each screen. What this means is that if I want to have the Studio Display be a bit dimmer than the iMac screen I can do just that.
There are a couple of different ways to adjust the brightness, using hardware keys and Control Center. When you want to use the dedicated keys on a keyboard you can do so just like you would for just an iMac or MacBook Pro. The thing to be cognizant of is that when you switch the second display, it needs to have focus before the hardware keys will adjust properly.
The second option through Control Center is a bit different. Once you open up Control Center and click on the arrow next to “Display”, it will expand and show both of the screens independently. Here you can adjust the sliders to the brightnesses that you would like for each of the displays.
While you might not need to have the brightness set all of the way up at all times, you may want to be able to make sure that some aspects of the item you are working on meets industry standards. There is a feature for specifically for that situation called Reference Modes, so let us look at those now.
Reference Modes are not a brand new feature to macOS. They were actually introduced with the Pro Display XDR in 2019. The ability to use reference modes is also supported on the 14-inch and 16-inch M1 Pro/M1 Max MacBook Pros introduced in 2001. The same functionality now comes to any Mac with a Studio Display connected.
A reference mode is a preset on the Studio Display that will allow you to make sure that you are matching the industry standard requirements for the particular mode. There are a number of presets that are possible with the Studio Display. The available reference modes are:
Apple Display (P3-600 nits)
HDTV Video (BT.709-BT.1886)
NTSC Video (BT.601 SMPTE-C)
PAL and SECAM Video (BT.601 EBU)
Digital Cinema (P3-DCI)
Digital Cinema (P3-D65)
Design and Print (P3-D50)
Internet and Web (sRGB)
Setting a Reference Mode
There are a two different ways of setting a reference mode. Either through the mirroring menu item or through System Preferences.
Accessible by using the following steps:
Open System Preferences.
Click on “Displays”
Click on “Display Settings” at the bottom of the screen.
Select the Studio Display
Under Presets, select your desired preset.
If you need to be able to quickly access different reference modes you can select specific modes to appear in the menu. You can so by following these steps:
Open System Preferences.
Click on “Displays”
Click on “Display Settings” at the bottom of the screen.
Select the Studio Display
Under Presets, select “Customize Presets”. A popup will appear.
In the list of presets, enable the checkbox next to each of the presets that you want to enable.
Once finished, click the “Done” button to close the popup.
Click “Done” again to close the Display Settings screen.
The list of reference modes that you select with the “Show In Menu” checkboxes will be shown in Control Center, as shown in the example below.
When you switch reference modes, the device will momentarily turn off and then turn back on. To me, it seems like the screen is doing a soft reboot. What I mean by this is that it disconnects from the host Mac, including stopping and switching audio, and then changes the reference mode, reconnects audio and shows the screen again.
Most non-professional users are not likely to use reference modes, but for those that do need them they will come in handy and are a nice feature to have. And now, you do not need to purchase the Pro Display XDR or upgrade your MacBook Pro just to get the modes. Next, let us move onto the pricing for the Apple Studio Display.
The Apple Studio display is somewhat reasonably priced. The Apple Studio Display starts at $1599. For this amount you can get a standard display, with either the tilt stand or with a VESA adapter. If you want the Tilt and Height adjustable stand, the price would be $1999.
There is a second screen option, called Nano texture. Adding the Nano Texture option will cost an additional $300. Therefore it is $1899 for the Tilt adjustable stand or VESA Adapter, and $2299 for the Tilt and Height Adjustment stand.
There is one thing to note about the Studio Display, the stand is not replaceable. This means that the stand you get when you purchase the Studio Display is the one it will have for its entire life. Therefore, if you do purchase one be sure to get the stand you want.
One last thing to note is that if you do go with the VESA mount, you can put the Studio Display in portrait orientation. Therefore if you have the need to use a monitor in portrait mode, you might want to think about the VESA adapter.
There is one other item related to pricing that you may want to know about. That item is AppleCare.
When you buy the Apple Studio Display you may want to add on AppleCare for the display. You have two options. The first is to pay for three years of coverage up front for $149. You also do have an additional option of paying per year. The price per year is about the same as the up-front cost at $49.99 per year. Regardless of which route you go, the price will be about the same.
If you do need to use the AppleCare+ for the Studio Display you will be charged $99 for screen damage or external enclosure damage. If there is any other damage it will cost you $299. With AppleCare+ you will get two incidents every 12 months.
When I purchased my Apple Studio Display I opted to go with the yearly AppleCare+ coverage. This is the first time I am going with yearly payments for AppleCare. The reason I opted for this is that I will likely keep the monitor for well more than three years, probably closer to 5 or 6 years, before I replace it. I would rather pay $299 for getting a replacement or getting my Studio Display fixed after the three years. Furthermore, if for some reason I do not keep it for three years, I will only need to pay for the coverage that I need and not more. However, I did run into a problem.
AppleCare+ Billing Issue
When I have purchased AppleCare in the past I have always gone with pre-paying for AppleCare. As mentioned above this time around I decided to go with the annual AppleCare payment. This was the first time that I have opted to use the annual AppleCare option, and I ended up running into a problem with purchasing the yearly AppleCare+ for my Studio Display.
When I went to order the Apple Studio I added AppleCare+ at that time. Apple’s policy on annual AppleCare is to bill it when the device ships or is picked up. This approach makes sense because lead times for devices can vary. As expected, I received an email stating that my Studio Display had shipped. Within a half hour of receiving that email, I received another email indicating that there was a billing problem with purchasing my AppleCare+. This is odd considering that Apple charged my card for the Studio Display with the same card. Immediately after receiving that email, the payment went through on my card, albeit in a “pending” state.
Because there was a problem, I called Apple support to verify whether the charge went through or not. Apple’s voice system initially sent me to technical support, despite me asking for billing (computers, gotta love ’em). The first person I talked to in tech support did a cursory check to see if they could see anything, but they could not see much on their end. So, they sent me over to the AppleCare team.
The second support person I talked to thought it might have been a phishing email, which is possible. But phishing emails would not contain AppleCare agreement numbers, valid serial numbers, not to mention the last four of my credit card number. So, we ruled out the email being a phishing attempt. They continued to do some additional checking, but ultimately they ended up sending me to the Agreement Admin team.
The third person I talked to did some more searching but they could not bring up the agreement and serial number combination in their system. There is an Apple site that you can use to add an agreement to your account if you have both the agreement and serial number. They asked me to attempt to add the agreement to my Apple account, but I could not add it to my account. The last check we did was to look up the coverage using checkcoverage.apple.com using the serial number. That site indicated that the Studio Display did not have active AppleCare plan.
After discussing with the AppleCare admin support person, we decided to wait until the charge either cleared or was removed from my card. If it cleared, then I would call them back so they could figure it all out. If it was removed then I could sign up for AppleCare+ on the site or by calling them again.
It turns out that the payment ended up going through about five and a half hours after I got the email saying that there was a billing problem. It took another 12 hours or so before the Apple site indicated that it was under warranty.
Now that AppleCare has been covered, there are two other sets of items to look at. The first of these is what happened when I connected the Studio Display to some of the supported, as well as, non-supported devices, so let us look at that next starting with the supported devices.
Usage with Other Devices
I use the Studio Display with my mid-2017 iMac as a the primary display with the built-in iMac screen as the secondary display. As outlined above is the list of supported devices. Macs are not the only devices that are supported. One of the devices that is supported that I have is the 5th generation iPad Pro.
5th Generation iPad Pro
According to Apple’s page, the entire iPad Pro line can be used with the Apple Studio Display. So, I decided to try and connect my 5th generation iPad Pro to the Studio Display.
When I initially connected the 5th generation iPad Pro to the Studio Display, nothing showed up. Instead nothing appeared. When something is not working, it is best to reboot a device. So, I ended up rebooting the iPad with the Thunderbolt cable connected to the iPad. When the iPad rebooted the iPad would not finish loading. It acted the same way as my iMac when there is a secondary bootable hard drive connected, where it would just stall. Once I unplugged the thunderbolt cable from the iPad the iPad booted right up. I then re-connected the Thunderbolt cable and the iPad screen showed up on the Studio Display.
It might just be my device, but it seems as though unless the iPad is turned on and unlocked, the negotiation between the iPad Pro and the Studio Display fails at some point. For example, I plugged in the Studio Display to my iPad Pro when the iPad was closed. When I turned on the screen for iPad Pro, nothing appeared on the Studio Display. The only way to get it to work was to unplug the Studio Display and plug it back in, while the iPad Pro screen was on.
6th Generation iPad mini
Unlike the iPad Pro, I had zero issues connecting the iPad mini to the Studio Display. When I connected the iPad mini to the Studio Display the iPad mini screen showed right away without any issues. I was able to control the exact same things as the iPad Pro.
I did some looking around for what devices I could actually connect to the Studio Display. At first I thought that I could not connect anything except Thunderbolt 3 or Thunderbolt 4 devices, because I could not find any way to connect older Thunderbolt 1 and 2. I knew I had a Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter, but I thought that was a one way device, like so many other adapters. After thinking about it a bit, I realized that Thunderbolt is a two-way communication medium, so any connection from Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 should work without issue.
I got out my Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter and a Thunderbolt 2 cable and proceeded to connect some devices. I connected my Early-2015 13-inch MacBook Pro, a mid-2014 21.5-inch iMac, and even a mid-2011 21.5-inch iMac, all with various results.
The early-2015 MacBook Pro is running macOS Monterey 12.3, so it was able to connect, mirror or extend the display and function as a second monitor. The one function that did not work was that I could not adjust the brightness on the Studio Display with the function keys on the keyboard. However, I could adjust it using Control Center or in System Preferences, so you can use the Studio Display with any device that runs macOS Monterey 12.3.
The mid-2011 21.5-inch and mid-2014 21.5-inch iMacs could not display anything on the screen. This makes sense given that neither of the devices is capable of running macOS Monterey. The latest operating system for these are macOS High Sierra (10.13) and macOS Big Sur (macOS 11) respectively. Given that all of these devices run Thunderbolt, both of these iMacs was able to see the USB-C drive connected to the Studio Display, so even if it cannot be use as a display, it can be used in a pinch for connecting devices.
The mid-2014 21.5-inch iMac was able to identify the display in system preferences, and even in System Report. So there was some communication between the Studio Display and older devices. But this all leaves me with some questions.
As outlined above, the Studio Display has a limited number of iPads that it supports. What is not described is what features or functions that the the supported devices can utilize that other devices, like the iPad mini, might not be able to. I did some testing of connecting USB-C drives, playing music, and even adjusting the volume. All of these worked on both the iPad Pro and the iPad mini.
I could not find anything that the iPad Pro was able to do that the iPad mini could not. It is possible that it could be that the iPad Pro can support Dolby Atmos over thunderbolt, where the iPad mini might not be able to, because it is USB-C. It should be noted that neither of these devices was on a beta operating system, both were using iPadOS 15.4 (19E241), so it is not a case of one device having improvements or a different set of software features, over the other.
Furthermore on my early-2015 MacBook Pro, it was able to display the screen and I could use it in either mirrored, extended, and even as my main display.
The common thing that I could not do with any of the devices, even the iPad Pro which is supposed to be fully supported, was adjust the brightness automatically. For the early-2015 MacBook Pro I could use the Studio Display without issue.
So, the real question is what does Apple mean when they say “supported” devices with the Studio Display? It cannot be fully functionality, because the two iPads do not seem to have any difference even though the iPad mini is not officially supported. It is possible that I am missing something. Does anybody else have any idea?
Possible Future improvements
There are a couple of things that I could think of where the Studio Display could be improved. There are three areas total where I think there could be improvements are with Thunderbolt 4, Airplay, and the power cable.
Given the intention for the display, Thunderbolt 3 is sufficient. However, it could be nice to have Thunderbolt 4 for additional bandwidth for two reasons. The first being consistency between the monitor and the Macs that are connected and supported. The second is to be able to have the USB-C devices connected be able to run a their full 10 gigabits per second bitrate.
It would be nice to be able to have a Studio Display be an AirPlay receiver. I am sure this would require additional hardware, but it since there is already an A13, it might not be as much extra hardware. The Apple TV is an AirPlay receiver, and even the A10 can be an AirPlay receiver, so the A13 is not the limiting factor on that.
Removable Power cable
Similar to HomePod, the Apple Studio Display does not have a removable power cable. While this is not likely a problem for most users, it could become one. If any damage occurs to the power cable, then it would likely fall into the $99 accidental damage portion of AppleCare. Having to pay $99 to get a power cord fixed would be, in my opinion, absurd.
On one of the biggest factors when it comes to purchasing anything these days is the price. At first when you see a monitor that starts at $1599 you might think that it is overpriced. Many users are not willing to spend that much on a monitor, but others will if it has the proper set of features. The Apple Studio Display is a 5K Retina screen. There are not many 5K Retina screens on the market today. There are a large number of 4K ones, but there is only one other 5K screen on the market, the LG UltraFine 5K.
When you compare the features and price of the Apple Studio Display to the LG UltraFine 5K, you might reevaluate that the Studio Display is too much. The LG UltraFine has a retail price of $1299. So, for the $300 difference you get a number of features. You get an Ultra Wide camera with a 122 degree field of view that supports Center Stage, so everyone will stay in focus and the center of the screen.
Instead of a set of stereo speakers, you actually get six speakers that not only sound better, but also supports music mastered for Spatial Audio as well as audio from movies that have a Dolby Atmos option.
You can use the Studio Display as a USB-C hub and connect peripherals to the display. When you do you will be able to use them with your Mac as you would if they were directly connected. These will run at 10 gigabits per second. While this is not Thunderbolt speeds, 10 gigabits per second is fast enough for many peripherals like audio interfaces, external hard drives, and other accessories.
Those who were asking for Apple to just take the screen out of the iMac and do nothing else with it, they would have been perfectly happy, but that is not what Apple did. Instead, they went above and beyond by providing features and functions that many users have come to rely on with their MacBook Pros. If you are looking for a new display, you might want to check out the Apple Studio Display.
After each of Apple’s events I end up recapping my predictions that I made for the event. This event is no exception. Let us look at how well I did today.
I made two guesses for the iPhone SE. These were “New iPhone SE with 5G” and “New iPhone SE still has Touch ID”. I did get both of these right. The iPhone SE now has an A15 and it supports 5G connectivity. so, I got these two correct.
There were two iPad Air-related predictions that I made, these are “New iPad Air with A15”, and “New iPad Air with 5g Connectivity”. I only got this half right. The new iPad Air has an M1 not an A15. However, the new iPad Air does have 5G connectivity, for cellular models. So I got one out of two.
I predicted that there would be a “New Mac mini with M1 Pro and M1 Pro Max”. Nope, no new Mac mini. The Intel Mac mini is still on sale. So I did not get this one right at all.
There was a new Mac, the Mac Studio. The Mac Studio is in no way a replacement for the Mac mini, because it starts at $1999 for the M1 Max and $3999 for the M1 Ultra processor.
Classical Music app
I made a guess that Apple would “Announce release of revamped Primephonic app”. This was was completely wrong. Apple did not mention this at all. Maybe it will be announced at another event soon.
Out of the six predictions that I made, I only got 3 correct. So this is a 50% correct. This is not too bad given that they did not announce two of the things that I predicted. Be sure to check out my recap of the “Peek Performance” event for additional information.
Today Apple held their “Peek Performance” event. The event itself was an hour long and included five product announcements including updates to existing products, including the iPhone, iPad Air, and iPhone SE. There were two brand new products introduced as well, the MacStudio and Studio Display. The releases go up in terms of amount of changes as the post goes on.
The iPhone 13 line was the simplest of the updates, a new color, Green. There are actually two different shades of green, one for the iPhone 13 mini and iPhone 13, and another shade for the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max. For the iPhone 13 mini and iPhone 13 is called “Green”. The color for the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max is called “Alpine Green”.
These two shades of green are reminiscent of the “Midnight Green” that was present on iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max.
These phones will be available for pre-order on Friday, March 11th, starting at 5 am Pacific Time and delivery will begin on Friday, March 18th.
The iPad Air got an update today as well. The 5th generation of the iPad Air is a mix of the iPad Pro and the iPad mini. It still has the same physical form factor, including Touch ID in the Home button at the top. The iPad Air still supports the 2nd Generation Apple Pencil. But there have been some internal changes.
It has the same design as the previous iPad Air model, but it includes an M1 processor like the iPad Pro. The M1 is an 8-core CPU, 8-Core GPU, includes Apple’s Neural Engine, and has a whopping 8GB of RAM. This is double the RAM of the previous iPad Air, which only had 4GB.
There are three big big changes. The cellular models now support 5G, just like the cellular versions of iPad Pro and iPad mini. The second big change is the Face ID camera, which is a 12MP sensor. It now supports Center Stage, like the iPad Pros and MacBook Pros.
The 5th Generation iPad Air comes in 5 colors, Space Gray, Starlight, Pink, Purple, Blue. The only color that is the same as the previous models is the Space Gray, all of the others are new colors. Silver is replaced by Starlight, Rose Gold is replaced by Pink, Purple replaces Green, and the new Blue replaces the Sky Blue.
The storage remains the same at 64GB or 256GB. The 64GB Wi-Fi only model is $599, the 256GB Wi-Fi model is $749. The Cellular models cost $749 for the 64GB model and $899 for the 256GB Model. This is a $20 increase for the cellular models.
You can order the new iPad Air starting Friday, March 11th, starting at 5 am Pacific Time and delivery will begin on Friday, March 18th.
The iPhone SE (3rd generation) is a bit more subtle upgrade. The form factor remains the same, as does the size, and the home button. The iPhone SE now includes an A15 processor, like the iPhone 13 line. This makes sense given the last update to the product was released in 2020. Beyond the inclusion of the A15, the iPhone SE also now supports 5G connectivity and Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax).
The iPhone SE comes in three colors, Midnight, Starlight, and (PRODUCT)RED. You can now choose between 64GB, 128GB, or 256GB models. The 256GB option is new this year. The prices are $429, $479, and $579 respectively.
Just like the iPhone and iPad Air, you can order the new iPhone SE starting Friday, March 11th, starting at 5 am Pacific Time and delivery will begin on Friday, March 18th.
That covers the existing products, let us now turn to the new products, Mac Studio and Studio Display.
Mac Studio and Studio Display
The Mac Studio and Studio Display were designed to work together. We will cover each in turn, starting with the Mac Studio.
The Mac Studio is an entirely new product. It has a similar form factor to the Mac mini, except in its height. The dimensions of the Mac Studio are 7.7 inches (19.7cm) by 7.7 inches (19.7cm), by 3.7 inches (9.5cm) tall. This is where the similarities between the Mac mini and Mac Studio end. Both the outside and inside of the Mac Studio are different.
The Mac Studio is is the same width as the Mac mini, yet it manages to pack in two more ports in the back. Specifically it has 4 Thunderbolt 4 ports, 2 USB-A ports, a single 10Gbps ethernet port, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. The front of the Mac Studio has three ports, an SDXC card slot and either Two USB-C or Two Thunderbolt 4 ports. Which one of the ports is on the front depends on the internals.
The design of the Mac Studio is dictated by processor. The Mac Studio has two options, the existing M1 Max, and the all new M1 Ultra. You have your choice of 64GB The M1 Max is the same ones that are available with the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros. There are two M1 Max options, 10-Core CPU/24-Core GPU or 10-Core CPU/32-Core GPU. Again, these are the same options available on the latest MacBook Pro models. You can choose between either 32GB or 64GB of unified memory.
The M1 Ultra is effectively two M1 Max chips that have a custom interconnect that Apple calls “UltraFusion”, between the two processor dies. This interconnect allows the two processors to communicate with minimal latency and both processors can access the same shared memory. The M1 Ultra appears to apps as a single processor, so there is no need for developers to make any special accommodations with their apps to take advantage of the power and processing capabilities of the M1 Ultra.
Since the M1 Ultra is effectively two M1 Max chips the core count is doubled. This means that the processor comes in two flavors. One with has a 20-Core CPU, 48-Core GPU, and 32-Core Neural Engine, and another that is a 20-Core CPU, 64-Core GPU, and 32-Core Neural Engine.
Double the processors results in being able to address twice as much memory, so the M1 can support 64GB or 128GB of memory.
The Mac Studio is only available in Silver. The pricing on this starts at $1999 for the 10-core CPU/24-Core GPU M1 Max with 32GB of memory and 512GB of storage and $3999 for the 20-core M1 Ultra. You can configure up to 8TB of storage.
The Mac Studio can be ordered today, but shipping times depend on the configuration.
Apple has long had standalone displays. However, that has not always been the case. In fact from 2016 to 2019, Apple did not have its own standalone display. Instead it partnered with LG to provide the Ultrafine 4k and 5k displays. When these were introduced there were some interference problems with the displays and Wi-Fi. In June of 2019 Apple introduced a standalone display, the Pro Display XDR. While this was great for certain groups, it is not affordable for most people. The Pro Display XDR starts at $4999 (without a stand), and is more like $5999 with the stand.
Today Apple introduced a more affordable standalone monitor, the Studio Display. The Studio Display is an all-aluminum design 27-inch 5K Monitor. The Studio Display is not simply a monitor. Much like Apple’s previous standalone displays, it includes some connectivity. Specifically it has Thunderbolt # port for connecting to a supported Mac, or iPad. Along with the Thunderbolt 3 port for connecting, there are three USB-C ports that can connect at 10Gbps, so you can connect peripherals to the display.
The Studio Display is actually powered by an A13 Bionic processor. The A13 Bionic enables for some features that are currently only available on iPads or MacBook Pros.
The Studio Display includes a “High-fidelity six-speaker system with force-cancelling woofers”, support for wide stereo sound. Beyond Wide Stereo sound, it also supports Spatial Audio when playing music, as well as with video, if the video supports Dolby Atmos.
Much like the Pro Display XDR there is a camera built into the display. The one included is a 12MP ultra-wide camera with a 122 degree field of view with an ƒ/2.4 aperture. These the same specifications as the one in the 5th generation iPad Air. This means that the Studio Display can support Center Stage.
The Studio Display is designed for professionals and can be used as a reference monitor. It includes most of the same reference modes as the Pro Display XDR. The available reference modes are:
Apple Display (P3-600 nits)
HDTV Video (BT.709-BT.1886)
NTSC Video (BT.601 SMPTE-C)
PAL and SECAM Video (BT.601 EBU)
Digital Cinema (P3-DCI)
Digital Cinema (P3-D65)
Design and Print (P3-D50)
Internet and Web (sRGB)
The Studio Display has two different screen options, standard and Nano-Texture. There are also three stand options to choose from. The first is the Tilt-adjustable stand, which has a 30 degree adjustability. The second is the Tilt and Height Adjustable stand, which has the same adjustability but can be adjusted up to 105mm. The final option is a VESA compatible bracket so you can mount it on an arm.
The Studio Display is available to order today. It starts at $1599 for the standard glass and either the Tilt-adjustable stand or VESA mount adapter. The Tilt and height-adjustable stand is available for $1999. The Nano-texture glass version will cost $1899 and $2299 respectively. These can be ordered today and delivery starts Friday, March 18th. However, as of this writing the delivery dates have slipped to March 24th as being the earliest delivery date, and April is for most configurations.
There are a couple of other things to cover. First, Apple has removed the 27-inch iMac from sale. The intended replacement is the Mac Studio and Studio Display. The Intel Mac mini and Mac Pro are now the only Intel-based machines available from Apple.
Along with the Mac Studio and Studio Display Apple also released matching Magic Keyboard with Touch ID and Numeric Pad, a Magic Trackpad, and a Magic Mouse. These are designed to match the Studio Display. They are priced at $199 for the Magic Keyboard, $149 for the Trackpad, and $99 for the Magic Mouse. These accessories are available to order today.
There were a ton of things announced today, including the new Green colors for the iPhone 13 mini and iPhone 13, and Alpine Green for the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max. These are available for pre-order on Friday at 5 am Pacific Time.
The 3rd generation iPhone SE keeps the same form factor, but adds an A15 processor and 5G cellular connectivity. There are three colors, Midnight, Starlight, and (PRODUCT)RED. The price has increased $20, probably to accommodate the price difference for the 5G cellular modems. You can order on Friday starting at $429.
The 5th Generation iPad Air now includes an M1 processor with 5G for cellular models. This now includes 8GB of RAM and is available in five colors; Space Gray, Starlight, Pink, Purple, and Blue. The iPad Air is still available in 64GB and 256GB Models starting at $599. You can order the iPad Air starting on Friday at 5am Pacific Time.
The biggest announcements are the Mac Studio and the Studio Display. The Mac Studio is a new Mac that supports either the M1 Max or the new M1 Ultra. The Mac Studio starts at $1999 for a 10-core CPU/24-Core GPU and 512GB of storage.
The Studio Display is a new 5K Display that can be used as a reference monitor for some profiles. The Studio Display includes 1 Thunderbolt 3 port to connect to a device and you can use any of the three USB-C ports to connect peripherals. The Studio Display has a 12MP Camera that supports Center Stage and support for spatial audio. The Studio Display starts at $1599. Both the Mac Studio and Studio Display are available to order today.
I will post how I did with my predictions later this week. What do you think about today’s announcements?
With Apple’s “Peek Performance” event on Tuesday that means it is time that I make my predictions for what we will see.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Covid-19 pandemic has changed things in many ways, including accelerating trends that had already begun. One of the trends that had begun prior to the pandemic was contactless payments. Apple Pay has been available since 2014 with the release of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.
Even though Apple Pay has been quite successful, not everybody can use Apple Pay. There is an industry standard that many cards have incorporated that allow you tap on a payment terminal instead of having to insert your card and wait for authorization.
Yesterday, Apple announced that the ability to use contactless payments is coming to some models of iPhone. That feature is called “Tap to Pay”. Tap to Pay will allow businesses to accept payments by using the Near Field Communication, or NFC, chip that is in an iPhone XS or newer.
“Tap to Pay on iPhone will work with contactless credit and debit cards from leading payment networks, including American Express, Discover, Mastercard, and Visa.”
This is not an automatic feature for businesses because it will require a “partner-enabled” iOS app as well. The first partner that Apple will be working with is Stripe.
Here is the best feature for businesses: “No additional hardware is needed to accept contactless payments through Tap to Pay on iPhone.”. This means that as long as the business has an iPhone XS or newer, it should work.
Ultimately, this means that if you have a contactless credit, or debit, card and the merchant has an iPhone with a Stripe-enabled app that supports “Tap to Pay”, you will be able to simply tap your credit or debit card and pay for goods and services. Similarly, you can also use your iPhone or Apple Watch to pay using its NFC chip.
The new feature will roll out in the United States first, and possibly other countries later on. Apple has stated that other payment providers. Tap to Pay will also be rolling out to Apple’s own stores later this year.
I am not going to argue that they are not being used for these purposes, because clearly they are. Despite these malicious uses, an AirTag can be used for its intended purpose, to find a missing item. The is not a super long story that involves things like diving into a river or anything like that, but it is still an example of their intended use case.
Last May I posted a review of Apple’s AirTags. When I wrote the review I was not sure how I would use them and decided to put them on my various keys. At the time it seemed somewhat strange to do so, because my keys normally never leave my sight and are always put back into the same place when I am done with them. Despite this I have kept the AirTags attached to my keys, and I am glad that I did. I have not really had any case when I needed to actually try and locate one of the keys. However, that changed last week.
Living in the northern hemisphere in February means that it is likely that you will see snow, and we definitely have seen our share of snow this season. In particular we had a storm last Tuesday into Wednesday. Two things that typically go with snow are cold and wind. There’s a Midwestern saying that goes “It wouldn’t be so bad without the wind”, and it is 100% true in the winter in the Midwestern United States.
My normal routine is to go grocery shopping at the end of my work week. It being the day after the storm, there was still a lot of snow on the ground, and it was windy and cold. I was returning to my car and pulled the remote to unlock my car out of my pocket. I unlocked the door, put the groceries into my car, and put the cart back in its proper spot. I removed the items from my pocket to find the key that starts my car, I realized that it was missing.
Now, I was at the grocery store, so obviously I had it and I put it in my pocket when I got out of the car to go into the grocery store. I panicked for a second and then realized that I had an AirTag attached to that key, so I should be able to find it.
I started by looking at the “Find My” app to see where the app said the key was. It indicated that it was last seen on the street next to grocery store. I then tapped on the “Items” tab to start locating it.
At first it said that it could not find the key. I started to backtrack to where I had been, so I went back to the cart that I put back, nothing there. As I began walking back towards the car, the app showed a weak signal for the AirTag. At this point I started to play a sound to see if I could locate the AirTag by sound while I walked back to the store. As I was walking back the App started showing that I was getting close and I found the key laying on the ground.
Within 2 minutes of it first finding the signal I was able to find the key. I had dropped it out of my pocket when I pulled the remote out of my pocket to open the car.
Suffice to say I am glad that I did buy the AirTags and that I put them on my keys, because it definitely came in handy.
“Every once in a while, a revolutionary product comes along that changes everything”. When someone states something like the previous quote it is often seen as hyperbole. However, in the case of this exact quote, it was quite prophetic and not hyperbole at all. Although it would take a bit of time for it to catch on.
This is the opening line to a keynote that introduced a device that would change the way that people use technology. The keynote was for the MacWorld San Francisco that took place 15 years ago today, on January 9th, 2007.
I have not been lucky enough to attend any of Apple’s keynotes. Instead, I would watch them at home. I distinctly remember feeling that this would be a different one, and indeed it was. As Steve Jobs stated, “Today we are introducing three revolutionary products, A Widescreen iPod, Revolutionary mobile phone, and an internet communicator…Are you getting it, these are not three separate devices. This is one device, and we are calling it iPhone”.
Apple introduced the iPhone well before it was to be on sale. The iPhone did not go on sale until June 29th, 2007. The rationale for announcing it so early in order to avoid any information being leaked. Jobs even stated as much in the keynote. For years there had been rumors that Apple was building a phone. In fact, Apple started by making a tablet, but they could not get the technology to scale properly, so instead they turned to making a phone.
Was the iPhone the first Smartphone, no, that would likely go to the Palm or Blackberry. Yet, the iPhone has indisputably been one of the most popular lines of devices ever produced. The introduction of the iPhone sparked the modern cell phone revolution. Many of the paradigms and interaction methods introduced with the iPhone remain to this day, including swiping and pinch to zoom, just to name a couple of examples.
The iPhone not only changed the way we interact with mobile devices, but it also brought a much more prevalent and larger revolution, the mobile app revolution. Again, the iPhone was not the first to have apps, but it was the device that help usher in a new digital economy. While it is entirely possible to use a mobile device using only the provided applications, it is very very likely that every smartphone user has installed at least one additional app to their phone.
At the time of its launch, there were many who did not think as though Apple could pull it off. For instance, Nokia’s Chief Strategist at the time, Anssi Vanjoki stated:
The development of mobile phones will be similar in PCs. Even with the Mac, Apple has attracted much attention at first, but they have still remained a niche manufacturer. That will be in mobile phones as well.
Another example is from Palm CEO Ed Colligan, he said
We’ve learned and struggled for a few years here figuring out how to make a decent phone. PC guys are not going to just figure this out. They’re not going to just walk in.
The last example is from Research in Motion’s Co-CEO of Blackberry, Jim Balsillie,
It’s kind of one more entrant into an already very busy space with lots of choice for consumers. But in terms of a sort of a sea-change for BlackBerry, I would think that’s overstating it.
At the same Macworld event Steve Jobs stated that Apple was hoping to sell 10 million iPhones in all of 2008, which would have been one percent of the overall market at the time. It took Apple just over 74 days to sell their one millionth iPhone. Apple did reach their goal of selling 10 million iPhones in 2008, when they sold 6.9 million iPhones in their 4th fiscal quarter, alone, which was from July to September 2008.
Personal Journey with iPhone
As for my own personal journey with the iPhone, that is an easy one. I did not buy an iPhone on launch day. I actually waited until the second day, June 30th. While there was definitely less fanfare that day, it was actually probably better because I was the fourth person in line when I went to get mine. I can clearly recall the delight of being able to use a whole new type of cell phone. My Motorola Razr V3 was still a great phone, but the iPhone was different.
Since that day, I have only had an iPhone as my preferred mobile device. While I would prefer not to give up my iPad, if I had to choose only one device between the iPhone and the iPad, I would choose the iPhone every time. My iPhone the device I use the most. It is usually not more than a few feet away from me at any point throughout the day. The iPhone has come a long way in the last 15 years. Will the iPhone last forever, no, nothing ever does. But I am sure it still has a long life left in it.
We now have many things that were not present on the first iPhone. Things like Copy and Paste, Multitasking, and vastly superior cameras and even video recording capabilities. The original iPhone did not even have 3G capability, that would come in 2008 with the release of the iPhone 3G. It is strange to think that the iPhone that begun the entire journey of modern smart phones can no longer be used as a cell phone. Even its four successors, the iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, and iPhone 4S will no longer be capable of being used more cellular connectivity as of July 1st, 2022.
While there are many who prefer to use Android-based phones, they cannot argue that the iPhone is the device that pushed Google to create Android. I do not think that today’s modern technological landscape would be nearly where it is today if it were not for the iPhone. It was, and remains, a truly revolutionary device that has transformed an incalculable number of ways that we do things. It will be interesting to see the next 15 years of the iPhones life will be like. It is possible that the iPhone may be a secondary market and something else may take over.
You can watch the full Macworld keynote on YouTube.