Apple’s October iPad Event – The Good, the Bad, and the Meh
Apple today held a special event to announce the long overdue updates to their MacBook, Mac Pro, and iPad lines. And while I am such a fanboy there was really never a question whether or not I will be buying something today, that doesn’t mean I’m so easily blinded by shiny things that I can’t pick out a “meh” moment or two from the festivities if pressed. So let’s see how Apple’s highly anticipated October iPad event broke down through the eyes of my patented “Good”, “Bad”, or “Meh” grading system!
OSX Mavericks: Well, they didn’t change the name, but this update to OS X looks to be one of the bigger performance-boosting updates we’ve seen. It will be interesting to see just how realistic Apple’s claims are about Maverick’s ability to extend battery life will end up being in the real world, but there’s no arguing with the price! That’s right, Mavericks is FREE. As for all the new little features… they’re fine, cute, evolutionary… Maps looks like it will be this year’s “Photobooth” as far as something my kids will spend hours wasting time playing with.
New MacBook Pros: Well, it’s about time. Retina displays across the model lineup, Haswell chips will be delivering increased battery life and minor speed bumps, and the new Iris integrated graphics promises to remove the stigma from the term “integrated graphics”. Of course if you still fear the word “integrated” you can opt to jump from the 13 inch to the 15 inch model and get a dedicated GT 750M graphics card. Both models have seen price drops as well, however they left the $1200 non-retina display MacBook pro unchanged. This model should really be $1000, given that it sucks.
The iPad mini gets a retina display Hooray! And they are keeping the original iPad mini and dropping its price to $299. I actually love the iPad mini – it might be the best thing Apple has made in the last few years. This will be tough to resist.
iLife/iWork Updates: Honestly there’s nothing Apple could do to iLife or iWork that raise it above a meh in my opinion (I don’t really use them to be honest), so if you are a big iLife fan, maybe this update means more to you, but I didn’t see anything worth getting excited about. Maybe Garage Band’s Drummer… But what IS exciting is Apple appears to be feeling the Christmas spirit just a bit early, and just like Mavericks, they are making iLife and iWork FREE!
The Mac Pro gets a release date! Just kidding, they didn’t. I don’t know why this model is so hard for Apple to pin down for us, but we got an “End of the year” release date, after hearing “this fall” at WWDC. It’s been roughly 30 years since Apple last updated its pro line of computers, so I guess we can wait a little longer. Although I’m not sure I am as excited as I want to be (see The BAD below).
New iPads: Hey, I wonder if it will be fatter and slower?! What? Thinner and faster? Ok, whatever… I guess Apple doesn’t like surprising the competition anymore. And speaking of no surprises, it’s got the 64-bit goodness the iPhone 5S has, has similar color schemes, better camera, blah blah blah. You either wanted it before this event or you didn’t, and there’s nothing here that wasn’t here before, but that’s not a bad thing. Oh wait, there IS a new thing… the NAME! It’s now the “iPad Air”. They shrunk the bezel a bit. So, why is something so droolworthy meh? APPLE IS STILL OFFERING A $499 16GB BASE MODEL!!! I’ve said it before, if you buy an 8GB iPhone, you do not need an iPhone. Likewise, if you buy a 16GB iPad, you are an asshole. PLEASE PEOPLE!! Do NOT buy the 16 GB model of the iPad Air. And maybe don’t buy ANY model. Apple should really be ashamed of itself here. This is the first time I’ve actually be angry at Apple in years. The iPad Air is this close to falling into the “BAD” category. THIS CLOSE APPLE!!
There’s too many iPads now: Apple started this event by reusing their WWDC video opener which pointed out that the other guys are trying to confuse you into thinking you have choice by giving you a bunch of different models. Well, Apple seems to now like to release a new model, and keep 1 or two previous models around to make you think you have options, but really you just have 2 year old technology for almost the price of the new stuff. This is the case with the iPhone, the MacBook Pro, and now the iPad and iPad mini. Not a fan.
The Mac Pro’s design Apple certainly has a hard-on for shrinking its devices, and for the most part I’m on board. But the ONE thing they make that did NOT need to be shrunk is the Mac Pro. The average Mac Pro sits under a desk or in a ventilated cabinet in a professional facility, out of sight. By shrinking the Mac Pro to the size of a tissue box, Apple has forced us to all buy a ton of expansion chassis, hard drives, and PCI card slots in order to get back the functionality we previously hard. They also have locked us into their two chosen graphics cards, which do not support the CUDA acceleration some of us live for in the graphics world. And to top it off, despite gutting the Mac Pro, removing the optical drives, PCI slots, and hard drive bays and controllers, the price didn’t really budge. So now we need to pay more for less, and get a cabled-up Frankenstein’s Monster sitting next to our cute black cylinder. This is nothing we did not already learn at the WWDC, but I like to rant because this kind of screws me personally as an After Effects guy.
So there you have it, the “Good”, “Bad”, or “Meh” of Apple’s October 2013 iPad event. Apple went cheap on their software, and gouged us all on their hardware. Feel free to tell me how right I am in the comments.