Spring Forward

Last nights Apple event was interesting for a number of reasons. Firstly they were finally detailing the Apple Watch and it’s been five years since Apple launched a new product category and it always fascinates me how Apple pitches and shapes their message. Secondly, so many people predicted that the keynote was all about the watch….wrong! Finally, no one predicted that Tim Cook would start with the Apple TV. Here are my quick thoughts on the products and message from last night.

Apple TV

  • No one expected Apple to lead with the Apple TV but the HBO Now announcement was a big deal. Exclusively launching on Apple TV for the first three months and in time for the new season of Game of Thrones this was what many users were wanting for years although $14.99 a month seems a bit high compared to Netflix.
  • Apple TV drops to £59. Thats it. No new hardware, no app store. I’m not the only one that was disappointed with that. Surely the hardware will see an update this year? Surely?


  • Following on from puff pieces on CarPlay and HomeKit I wasn’t expecting much on health but ReasearchKit was afforded 15 minutes on the big stage and afterwards it was clear why.
  • This is a massive opportunity that started with the M7 processor in the iPhone 5S. Data is being captured and while it’s mostly seen as steps, it’s only going to get richer and help with medical research and diagnosis.
  • Apple Will Not See Your Data – clear message to customers and competitors on what differentiates Apple. Apple will need to be repeat this again and again along with the security message that they have been playing out recently.
  • Cynical view – we’re about to sell a $10000 watch so contrast it with a good news story but I don’t believe that to be the case.
  • Apple will open source ResearchKit so it can be run on any platform.
  • 5 apps already available and more on the way – this will be very interesting to watch over the coming years as the technology packed within phones and watches gets ever smarter.


  • My favourite part of the whole event. The new designs shown throughout the new MacBook were impressive.
  • The new keyboard mechanism looked great although early feedback seems mixed.
  • The force touchpad shows so much invention…apart from it’s name.
  • 12 inch and Retina but so light and thin.
  • USB-C. One port. £69 adapter to get a data, video and power connector at the same time. If I look at my MacBook Air usage now though, that one port is enough.
  • CPU is a bit stingy looking but…Fanless! How will I tell when Flash is running? (clue – it’s not installed cause it’s a piece of shit)
  • All day battery is good but you are basically buying a battery with a screen and keyboard.
  • I’ll wait for reviews to see what playback looks like but assuming it’s OK, I’ll be buying a MacBook this year to replace the current Air and probably the iPad too. Next year, an iMac Retina to replace the five year old iMac. I do think the MacBook is the future of laptop design and the only other niggle is that this is rev 1.0 of the MacBook and the next version is probably the one to buy. But thats too much like common sense.

Apple Watch

  • Strange intro as Tim Cook recapped all the features.
  • Christy Turlington Burns was on stage to enthuse about the Apple Watch, running marathons and blogging about it at Apple.com. Felt totally false.
  • Kevin Lynch took to the stage to demo the Apple Watch in a real world scenario. Flawlessly done but pretty dull including the ubiquitous airport gate change demo.
  • 18 hour battery and the news that it’s replaceable still feels a 1.0 target being met. Like the heavy first iPad Retina which was updated after 6 months. I don’t think we’ll see a 2.0 watch that quickly but I do expect next years product to be much better.
  • It was then onto pricing which was pretty much in line with much of the speculation including the expensive Edition pricing.
  • Apple never really sold a compelling reason as to why I need an Apple Watch. I found this part of the event underwhelming and pretty disappointing compared to other product launches. Will I buy one? Probably not although there is a bit of me that feels I should have one to try. I bought and instantly sold a Pebble and if the Apple Watch had a GPS I’d find it a more compelling product. It’s a wait and see right now.



  • Apple has mastered rolling out their products around the world quickly and efficiently. The same can’t be said for their services. Apple Pay, iTunes Radio, Beats, HBO Now and the initial batch of ResearchKit app’s are all US only. It’s only getting worse and becomes a bigger issue when the services are being used so heavily to promote the product. I hope they start to take this more seriously and while licensing is a complex issue, money helps and they have a lot of money so if anyone can fix it I expect it to be Apple.
  • Battery technology is becoming more of an anchor compared to the rest of the technology in our products. There’s clearly no Moore’s law for batteries.
  • Did anyone else expect more from Apple when it comes to their stores and promoting the Apple Watch than a new…table.

Overall a great keynote and one of the most interesting for years. The watch will sell millions but ResearchKit and the MacBook were the stars of the show. No one predicted that.

New Air

It’s been two years since my Macbook Pro said fairwell to this mortal world and I picked up an iPad to replace it. While a great device the iPad has never quite fully replaced the laptop for me. I thought about getting a laptop last year but upgraded the imac instead. This was to to be the year – all the rumours pointed to retina Macbook’s of some description. Hopefully an Air and I’d be set.

Macbook Air 2012
Macbook Air

It’s never quite that easy with Apple so I was left with a choice – updated Macbook Air or a Macbook Pro with Retina display. A nice decision to make, but one that I struggled with. Portability of an Air compared to heavier Pro with a Retina. The retina update to the iPad left older screens looking…poor. I visited the local Apple store and saw the screen. Amazeballs. Really really nice. But the weight and price of the Macbook Pro saw me stumping up for an Air but I’ve no doubt that when retina screens hit the Air line I’ll make the move. The screen makes such a difference to text and images. Within 2-3 years most pc’s (not just Apple) and monitors will be retina. Maybe not low end but like the iPhone and iPad, they are setting the standard to which others will follow. I thank Chris for keeping me on the straight and narrow – remember why you wanted the Air in the first place and he was right.

So my thoughts on the Air? What a great machine. Fast, light, cool and quiet. I bought the stock 13″ model but added another 4gb of ram. One of the downsides of the Air line (and the new Retina Macbook pro) is that you can’t upgrade then at all. Ram is soldered and I felt that while 4gb is fine today, I’m not sure about two years from now. It also allows me to run vm’s without any hiccups…but it’s an Air – surely you can’t run vm’s?

Macbook Air 2012
So thin and light

The screen on the 13″ is great. Clear and bright although I do notice a little smearing on scrolling which I didn’t expect. It’s a small complaint though as images pop nicely. The screen isn’t too glossy unlike the Macbook Pro’s which helps too. The backlit keyboard is comfortable and good in use – I hate using a laptop keyboard without a backlight. Must have feature for me. Connectivity is not too bad – two USB 3 ports, a thunderbolt port and a SD slot which is handy for me as the camera’s I have are SD. Not so great is the updated magsafe connector. It’s slightly thinner but seems to pop off with ease…too much ease. Looking online it also seems hardly any thinner than the previous design. But thats a small complaint.

Boot times are great and in use the Air feels so fast. 128gb of flash storage ensures that a machine with only a 1.8Ghz i5 feels much faster. I went with an SSD on the iMac last year and it made such a difference – don’t think I’ll have a computer in the future without flash storage. Finally it’s worth mentioning battery life – 5-6 hours on a machine this light is great.

Macbook Air 2012
Love the backlit keyboard

Setting up the Air was very straightforward thanks to the cloud. “The cloud” is such a cliché but it really helps setting up a new machine, and one that has limited space. On startup I entered my iCloud details and saw calendars, mail etc setup for me. I launched the app store, entered my Apple store details and downloaded/installed app’s without the hassle of visiting websites and digging out serials. I installed Dropbox and synced the folders I really needed – before long I had all my documents and active files on the Air with the knowledge that they are being shared without thought between the laptop and desktop. After 1Password was installed I could login to websites without having to remember passwords although Chrome sync had taken care of bookmarks, passwords etc for the common sites. All fairly straightforward and, well, easy. The final bonus was music as I authenticated the laptop against my iTunes Match account – I now have access to all my music, none of which is installed. Streaming works far quicker than on the iPad and has worked without issue so far.

I mentioned vm’s earlier. Windows 7 running through Vmware Fusion runs really well. Any thoughts that the Air couldn’t be used as a ‘proper’ laptop are dispelled when the vm is running and you can launch Lightroom as well alongside all the app’s that are usually running. Even then, the fan noise is pretty quiet compared to the memory of my old Macbook Pro.

So a great machine – I couldn’t be happier with it. One last thought though – it all feels a bit dull. Maybe I’m too used to OSX and the familiar software, but I used to get a kick out of getting a new computer and setting it all up. I’m not sure if it’s the familiarity or if it’s due to iOS or maybe I’ve just too many devices that overlap. I love my gadgets but sometimes you can have too much? Not sure – the laptop certainly helps with blogging, coding and the podcast which I struggled to do on the iPad and meant I was chained to the iMac. I’ll keep a track on my usage over the coming months – be interesting to see how it pan’s out across devices.

One things for sure – the Air is a great computer.