Sobered but Undeterred, Apple Delivers the Products We Need

Apple Park campus cafeteria doors opening
Image of iPad Pro 2020 with Magic Keyboard
One down, many to go in 2020. Image credit: Apple

With leadership and determination, Apple continues to provide modern tools to use in our daily work. After all, computers and phones are essential for our economy: education, science, research, government and business in the pandemic fight. And also for our play and entertainment so necessary for mental health.

Let’s jump right into that and see what Apple is up to.

The Week’s News Debris

2019 iMac. image credit: Apple

• New iMacs are coming. Digital Trends sizes things up. “iMac 2020: Everything we know about this year’s update so far.” Discused: release date, displays, Mini-LEDs, bezels, Comet Lake CPUs, more.

The new range of iPhone SE devices
iPhone SE (2nd gen). Image credit: Apple

• By my brief notes, in thinking about the 2nd gen iPhone SE, the major cost factors in an iPhone are the display, Face ID, and the camera system. Cult of Mac goes into more detail. “How Apple made the 2020 iPhone SE so cheap.

• In light of that, how does the 2nd gen iPhone SE camera stack up? Here’s a good analysis from CNET: “iPhone SE’s camera specs hold their own against iPhone 11 Pro’s, at half the price.

How does iPhone SE stack up?

• There have been rumors that supply chain issues might delay the iPhone 12. But here’s a solid contra-indication. “TSMC gives more evidence that iPhone 12 will be ready for later this year.

In more evidence that this year’s iPhone 12 will debut on time, Apple chipmaker TSMC says that its 5-nanometer chips are already in volume production and with satisfactory yield rates. TSMC expects a ‘a very fast and smooth ramp’ of these chips in the second half of the year. It is heavily rumored that these will be the chips used in the new iPhone 12.

• And what might the iPhone 12 lineup be like? Over at Bloomberg, Mark Gurman and Debby Wu think there may be “as many as four new models.

This year’s successors to the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max will be joined by two lower-end models to replace the iPhone 11. At least the two high-end devices will have flat stainless steel edges instead of the current curved design as well as more sharply rounded corners like the iPad Pro introduced in 2018.

Any way you look at it, Apple remains in high gear when it comes to delivering us modern tools for work and essential play. High praise for the men and women of Apple and suppliers.

• Finally,

Ahem. Replicator: Tea, Earl Grey, decaff.


Particle Debris is generally a mix of John Martellaro’s observations and opinions about a standout event or article(s) of the week followed by a discussion of articles that didn’t make the TMO headlines, the technical news debris. The column is published most every Friday except for holiday weeks.

6 thoughts on “Sobered but Undeterred, Apple Delivers the Products We Need

  • John:

    Regarding your lede, let’s come at this from a different but telling angle. Bear with me.

    The iPad was a revolutionary device at release, but both its use case and how it has changed user workflow has been evolutionary. The original question for the user community was, what is the use case for the iPad and what niche will it occupy. Over time, as it consolidated its content consumption role, it began to make quiet but substantive inroads into a content creation role. The first time this became practically apparent to yours truly was when, with the release of the MBP 2017 with its new keyboard and Touch Bar, I was not particularly persuaded to upgrade until my son’s hand me down MBP that I had given him crumped, and he needed my 2014 asap for school. This escalated further with the release first of the first gen 10.9” iPad Pro, and further still with its successor, the second gen 11” iPad Pro, and then iPadOS.

    The relevance to the iMac? I have found that, whatever I can do on my iPad Pro, I do on the iPad Pro, whilst my MBP often sits unused for hours, apart from serving as a second screen, as I work from the iPad Pro. The question I unexpectedly found myself asking is not what is the use case for my iPad Pro, that answer is, ‘Whatever I can, I will’; it is now, what is the use case for my MBP or any Mac laptop, as a ‘portable computer’, and does it still own that portable computer space.

    This is a valid question for people in my profession who travel the globe, work in settings with spotty and tenuous IT infrastructure, and in many cases, where the electricity grid is overtaxed and frequently down and where Wi-Fi is simply not available (I know, unthinkable for many in high income settings who might read this), but critical and competitive work has to continue at pace. I have had two MBPs suffer blunt force and environmental trauma (high heat and humidity, which is death on electronics), and once had to literally fly from Bangladesh to Thailand just to get my MBP serviced (which, while my wife and I enjoyed our three days in Bangkok – just for a laptop repair – are you serious?!!), the iPad Pro is a far more robust and resilient design, with no moving parts, and a relatively cheap keyboard attachment, especially when married to a protective case, and coming in at a fraction of the size and mass of the MBP. Is the MBP still the optimal portable solution for one’s computing needs? The iPad Pro is pushing hard on the negative with a compelling, albeit incomplete and still evolving riposte. Let’s be clear, the MBP can do things that the iPad Pro cannot, such as run professional grade data analysis software, like multi-core Stata, and cite-while-you-write reference managing for grants and manuscript development. These remain essential tasks in scientific work. However, the iPad Pro can do things that the MBP cannot, such as access the internet without Wi-Fi, work all day on a single charge, including video teleconferencing and multitasking without Wi-Fi, easy editing with a pen and notes to colleagues, and superior cameras forward and aft for field documentation of important findings. Indeed, on my most recent conference call with WHO on coronavirus, when the presenter began the slides, he hadn’t expanded them to full screen. On my iPad Pro, I simply used my fingers to enlarge the slides to fill the screen and read the data, a feat I could never do on my MBP.

    For the first time, I am actively considering ditching my much loved MBP, which is getting progressively less use as a portable machine, for a true desktop designed for long term desk use, and using only my iPad Pro, with access to all of my online files, as my rugged, powerful, ultra-portable device. The iMac is a compelling machine. The possible specs on the 2020 iMac, particularly at an entry level below cost for a similarly kitted MBP, and the prospects of an upgraded iMac Pro, combine to give this user serious pause, and ask the unthinkable; ‘Do I still need a laptop for portable computing?’ The follow-on silence to that question is deafening as I ponder my options. I could purchase two lower-end iMacs, one for office and one for home, for not substantially more than the cost of a maxed out MBP. While I know that I would never be content with a low-end machine of any kind, the principle is notable. With the change in workflow courtesy of this pandemic, we may be doing more work from home, and spend less time in tightly clustered offices. A powerful desktop machine in one location, likely at home, is enticing, more so with its larger screen than my MBP, allowing me to likely carry the MBP to my shorter jaunts to the office, if I need to use macOS for that day.

    While I’ll check back in at some point and share what I’ve decided, I can share now that I will be looking hard at the iMac and the iMac Pro, whilst I still haven’t given the new MBP so much as a glance – unprecedented in the past two decades of my professional life (not the MBP, but a Mac professional grade laptop).

    Evolution selects for the most efficient, least costly path to success in survival – quintessential definition of competitive advantage – and remains a powerful, resistless force in survival in the workplace.

    1. What he said.

      Seriously though, I’ve moved most of my computing over to the iPad. My iMac is on my desk and I do use it, but for content creation and my other heavy lifting I use my iPad Pro. A few years ago I experimented with an external keyboard and found it kludgy. With padOS I’ve found it works a thousand times better and now carry a MagicKeyboard with me all the time. My next iPad will definitely be ordered with a keyboard/trackpad case, it’s just a matter of deciding on the Apple, the Brydge, or the Logitech.

      1. @geoduck:

        I have experimented with a number of keyboards, including Apple’s Magic Keyboard (portable) from day one of the original iPad, and more recently the Apple Smart Keyboard, the Brydge, the ZAGG Slim Book Go, and the Logitech Slim Folio for the 11” iPad Pro.

        Of these, my favourite depends on use case. I prefer the Apple Smart Keyboard for both ease/speed of typing and for low footprint/easy portability with minimal mass. The fact that it requires no charging is a plus. The Logitech, which despite the moniker, is not slim, is nonetheless my second favourite, primarily for the backlit function, but also the feel of the keys. They’re substantial and enable fast and accurate typing. The keyboard holds a charge literally for weeks if not months, despite heavy use, and the case protects the iPad. Third, I place the ZAGG, both for its protection as well as the keyboard, which though not as substantial as the Logitech, is still a good typing experience with backlit keys and a longstanding charge, and is an economical choice. I place the Brydge last both because of the mass (both bulk and weight), whilst providing no protection, and because the hinges need to attach to the iPad screen. The brilliance of Apple’s solution is that nothing touches the screen, therefore does not damage the screen. The two folio cases place rubberised bumpers on the screen, so protect it.

        This was my experience, but perhaps others might find these user observations useful.

      2. Interesting. Thanks. I’m waiting for some reviews on the ones with Trackpads. No rush though. I figure my ‘17 iPP is good for another year or so.

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