14 votes

Apple announces new MacBook Air and iPad Pro

I figured one thread for all of Apple's new product announcements would be enough.

The new MacBook Air with the same redesigned keyboard as the 16-inch model and newer processors. I'm glad to see that they're bringing the keyboard to the rest of the lineup so quickly (I'm writing this on a 2017 MacBook Pro and this keyboard is not pleasant even after two and a half years of adjustment).

The new iPad Pro is where things get interesting. Same design as the previous iPad Pros, but now with an ultra wide camera and a LIDAR sensor.

The iPad Pro also has a new keyboard and trackpad accessory that looks interesting. It has an adjustable hinge that can hold the iPad at any angle, which is one of my biggest complaints with the current keyboard case. I'm interested to see how well it works in a lap when hands on videos start coming out.

I'm excited that Apple is bringing official pointing support to iOS (beyond the basic accessibility feature in iOS 13). This could be a game changer. I'm also excited that it's coming to iOS 13.4 (and all iPads that can run it) and they aren't waiting until iOS 14 to roll out the feature. I've wanted Apple to start rolling out features on an ongoing basis (like Google is doing with the Pixel Feature Drops) rather than as one big drop every fall.

30 comments

  1. [8]
    NaraVara
    Link
    I think this is the turning point where the iPad starts to look like a true laptop replacement. One of it's big drawbacks up until now was was that the lack of pointer support made it kind of bad...

    The iPad Pro also has a new keyboard and trackpad accessory that looks interesting. It has an adjustable hinge that can hold the iPad at any angle, which is one of my biggest complaints with the current keyboard case. I'm interested to see how well it works in a lap when hands on videos start coming out.

    I think this is the turning point where the iPad starts to look like a true laptop replacement. One of it's big drawbacks up until now was was that the lack of pointer support made it kind of bad for spreadsheets, which even lots of regular, not particularly computer heavy job people still need to use. Having a pointer and trackpad fixes that and gets us to a point where you can run all the janky, macro-enabled excel workbook nonsense that peoples' horrible corporate IT foists upon them as they need.

    The software will still need to do some catching up I think, but now that the basic tools are there I think they can get there.

    My one concern, though, is that this might encourage developers to get lazy or bad about UX. Despite everything the iPad OS is still touchscreen centric. If they start to treat it as just a dumb display that you can happen to touch in lieu of a mouse, the way a ton of apps work on the Surface and Windows 10, then they will have blown it.

    8 votes
    1. [3]
      Greg
      Link Parent
      I'm increasingly anxious about a walled garden OS being used on a person's primary machine. It's a direction that the industry has been pushing for many years, and one that's almost unequivocally...

      I'm increasingly anxious about a walled garden OS being used on a person's primary machine. It's a direction that the industry has been pushing for many years, and one that's almost unequivocally anti-consumer.

      We might not see Apple kicking Microsoft or Google out of their ecosystem (although even that is possible), but smaller developers are likely to bear the brunt. High fees and anticompetitive practice almost go without saying, and on top of that we have already seen several years of overtly political policy making in the App Store. Even if Apple were irreproachably trustworthy, they still provide a single entity which governments can easily pressure into making decisions on my behalf - perhaps even governments far more repressive than my own.

      9 votes
      1. [2]
        nothis
        Link Parent
        I'm terrified of Apple genuinely pushing for iPads serving as future replacements of the MacBook product line. Let me get this straight: I love my iPhone. It's a near-perfect device. But a phone...

        I'm terrified of Apple genuinely pushing for iPads serving as future replacements of the MacBook product line. Let me get this straight: I love my iPhone. It's a near-perfect device. But a phone OS isn't a work environment. It's for texting/calling, for looking things up on the go and quick notes/photos. The idea of a completely locked-in OS for "real" work, something that doesn't let me look behind the curtains, is just horrible. For example, does iPadOS even allow different browser engines?

        4 votes
        1. emdash
          Link Parent
          No, iPadOS is a derivative of iOS, which has the same restrictions on applications for displaying web content: they must use WKWebView. That might change in the future, it's not hard to see...

          No, iPadOS is a derivative of iOS, which has the same restrictions on applications for displaying web content: they must use WKWebView. That might change in the future, it's not hard to see software liberalising the support other browser engines in the future.

          Trackpad/mouse support on iOS sounded crazy at one point too. And don't worry, Macs are also here to stay.

          4 votes
    2. [4]
      JXM
      Link Parent
      I think adding official trackpad support is a huge deal. Apple has tried to position the iPad as a computer replacement for a few years now by bending software companies to their will and getting...

      I think adding official trackpad support is a huge deal. Apple has tried to position the iPad as a computer replacement for a few years now by bending software companies to their will and getting them to adapt programs to a touch interface. But there are a lot of times when touch isn't the best interaction model and a mouse and keyboard are way better and faster. I'm glad they're finally realizing that.

      I hope that they'll enforce some sort of requirement that apps be functional without a keyboard and mouse as a way of preventing the bad UX you mentioned.

      Also, $300 to $350 for the keyboard and trackpad combination is absolutely insane. I thought the $180 they charged for the previous keyboard cover was overpriced but this is ridiculous. They can make whatever wacky claims they want about a magic space age hinge but that's way too expensive. It's bizarre that in the same year they dropped the entry price for the iPhone 11, they have ratcheted up the price of accessories...

      3 votes
      1. [3]
        NaraVara
        Link Parent
        Apple used to be really good at developer acculturation like that, but that was back when the Mac was a niche brand with a devoted fanbase. Now that it's mainstream the quality and "Mac-ness" of...

        I hope that they'll enforce some sort of requirement that apps be functional without a keyboard and mouse as a way of preventing the bad UX you mentioned.

        Apple used to be really good at developer acculturation like that, but that was back when the Mac was a niche brand with a devoted fanbase. Now that it's mainstream the quality and "Mac-ness" of the developer community has nose-dived, and so has Apple's inclination to take it seriously. We'll have to see how they manage this later.

        $300 to $350 for the keyboard and trackpad combination is absolutely insane. I thought the $180 they charged for the previous keyboard cover was overpriced but this is ridiculous. They can make whatever wacky claims they want about a magic space age hinge but that's way too expensive. It's bizarre that in the same year they dropped the entry price for the iPhone 11, they have ratcheted up the price of accessories...

        Functionally the pricing is just slightly higher than the highest end Surface Pro. The Surface Pro X is $999 for base storage and then something like $150 for the keyboard and another $100 for the stylus. The iPad Pro is $999 for a base 12in, $350 for the keyboard, and $100 for the stylus. An Apple Tax of about $200-$250 over a comparably specced WinTel box has always been pretty standard.

        1. [2]
          JXM
          Link Parent
          I think that's just because it's grown so much over the last decade thanks to iOS. There are still tons of great Mac apps out there, it just takes a more sifting through the bad ones to find the...

          Now that it's mainstream the quality and "Mac-ness" of the developer community has nose-dived [...]

          I think that's just because it's grown so much over the last decade thanks to iOS. There are still tons of great Mac apps out there, it just takes a more sifting through the bad ones to find the truly great ones.

          An Apple Tax of about $200-$250 over a comparably specced WinTel box has always been pretty standard.

          For a product priced at $1,000 that makes sense. But a $200+ upcharge for a $$300 product, it seems more egregious.

          1 vote
          1. NaraVara
            Link Parent
            It's not really a $300 product so much as a $300 option on a $1,000 product.

            It's not really a $300 product so much as a $300 option on a $1,000 product.

            3 votes
  2. [12]
    reese
    Link
    For an SSD? I'm sorry, but objectively lol. If you go to the product page and customize a MacBook Air, it's an additional $200 to upgrade to a 512GB SSD, $400 for 1TB, and $800 for 2TB. Jesus...

    Now starting with 256GB of storage, MacBook Air allows customers to store even more movies, photos and files.

    For an SSD? I'm sorry, but objectively lol. If you go to the product page and customize a MacBook Air, it's an additional $200 to upgrade to a 512GB SSD, $400 for 1TB, and $800 for 2TB. Jesus Christ, I mean, I see a 2TB SSD on Amazon for $230 right now. Does anyone know if Apple at least does not solder the SSD directly to the board for this iteration? That I could understand. I wasn't impressed with the "upgrade" sales tactics with my laptop manufacturer either, so I bought and installed my own SSD and RAM.

    5 votes
    1. [2]
      teaearlgraycold
      Link Parent
      The Air was one of the first laptops to solder in memory and storage. I don't think they've ever gone back on that.

      The Air was one of the first laptops to solder in memory and storage. I don't think they've ever gone back on that.

      8 votes
      1. reese
        Link Parent
        Thanks for answering my question. Well with that, as of this comment I'm socially distancing myself out of this topic.

        Thanks for answering my question. Well with that, as of this comment I'm socially distancing myself out of this topic.

        4 votes
    2. [3]
      Weldawadyathink
      Link Parent
      Just to note, apple usually uses very high end nvme ssd's. When you compare prices, look for something similar. If you just compare it to a budget SATA ssd, that is unfair. You are still paying an...

      Just to note, apple usually uses very high end nvme ssd's. When you compare prices, look for something similar. If you just compare it to a budget SATA ssd, that is unfair. You are still paying an apple tax for those storage upgrades, but it isn't as much as it may seem like.

      7 votes
      1. safari
        Link Parent
        I just bought a 2TB Sabrent Rocket for £250. According to benchmarks, it comes very close to the 970 EVO, according to reviews I've seen.

        I just bought a 2TB Sabrent Rocket for £250. According to benchmarks, it comes very close to the 970 EVO, according to reviews I've seen.

        7 votes
      2. nothis
        Link Parent
        I heard this for a while but looked at the benchmarks and they're nothing to write home about.

        I heard this for a while but looked at the benchmarks and they're nothing to write home about.

    3. [5]
      nothis
      Link Parent
      I always say that I completely accept Apple's pricing as "paying for the design" ("design" as in UX, usability, build quality, stable software, etc, not "nice round edges") with one exception:...

      I always say that I completely accept Apple's pricing as "paying for the design" ("design" as in UX, usability, build quality, stable software, etc, not "nice round edges") with one exception: Their higher tier storage upgrades. How on earth can they justify $800 for 2TB? What kind of magic-ass SSD is that? That's all just doubling the price of what it really costs and none of this scales with "design", that's just a literal rip-off.

      5 votes
      1. emdash
        Link Parent
        Storage upgrades with Apple have never been about the utility cost or the $/GB of the upgrade involved. It's always been a value add, and probably always will be. If people are willing to pay it,...

        Storage upgrades with Apple have never been about the utility cost or the $/GB of the upgrade involved. It's always been a value add, and probably always will be. If people are willing to pay it, Apple will charge for it—unfortunately.

        3 votes
      2. [3]
        JXM
        Link Parent
        Apple and other computer companies always make their money from upgrades. I agree that it's a lot (probably too much) but they are using extremely high end SSDs. So comparing it to an off the...

        Apple and other computer companies always make their money from upgrades.

        I agree that it's a lot (probably too much) but they are using extremely high end SSDs. So comparing it to an off the shelf SSD from Amazon isn't really fair (as GP did).

        2 votes
        1. [2]
          nothis
          Link Parent
          I've looked at the benchmarks out of interest and nothing about their speed is unattainable for a reasonable price. The good Samsung Evos cost at most half of that (in retail!) and are as fast or...

          I've looked at the benchmarks out of interest and nothing about their speed is unattainable for a reasonable price. The good Samsung Evos cost at most half of that (in retail!) and are as fast or faster.

          3 votes
          1. Weldawadyathink
            Link Parent
            Could you share the benchmarks you found? In the past, samsung evos had a limited buffer, and could only function at full speed until that was full. You had to buy samsung pro's to get full speed...

            Could you share the benchmarks you found?

            In the past, samsung evos had a limited buffer, and could only function at full speed until that was full. You had to buy samsung pro's to get full speed indefinitely. I haven't followed ssd technology for a while though, so this may not be the case still. If it still is, I would guess that apple ssd's are roughly equivalent to a samsung pro nvme drive or an Intel one. Another benchmark you rarely see is write endurance. Samsung drives in the past are really good at that. How much overprovisioning does each drive have? The one with more will likely have better write endurance.

    4. JXM
      Link Parent
      It used to start at 128 GB for $999 which was even worse.

      It used to start at 128 GB for $999 which was even worse.

  3. [3]
    babypuncher
    Link
    These new MBA's are a pretty beefy upgrade, especially considering the $200 price cut. It has me hopeful that the rumored 14" MBP will see similar improvements and price changes.

    These new MBA's are a pretty beefy upgrade, especially considering the $200 price cut. It has me hopeful that the rumored 14" MBP will see similar improvements and price changes.

    2 votes
    1. [2]
      stu2b50
      Link Parent
      It's pretty crazy if you look at the comparison table they have on the shop (https://www.apple.com/mac/) The macbook air is across the board better than the macbook pro 13inch on the table, AND is...

      It's pretty crazy if you look at the comparison table they have on the shop (https://www.apple.com/mac/)

      The macbook air is across the board better than the macbook pro 13inch on the table, AND is 200 cheaper.

      1 vote
      1. babypuncher
        Link Parent
        Unfortunately the table doesn't tell the whole story, since it just says "i3" and "i5" without mentioning what versions. The new Macbook Airs still use "Y" series Intel CPUs which max out at 4.5...

        Unfortunately the table doesn't tell the whole story, since it just says "i3" and "i5" without mentioning what versions. The new Macbook Airs still use "Y" series Intel CPUs which max out at 4.5 watts, while the "U" series chips in its bigger brothers are allowed three times that.

        4 votes
  4. weystrom
    Link
    I wonder how the new quad-core Air is going to perform, last year it had a pretty abysmal passive cooling system, let's see if they are going to make a change now that TDP has gone up from 7 to...

    I wonder how the new quad-core Air is going to perform, last year it had a pretty abysmal passive cooling system, let's see if they are going to make a change now that TDP has gone up from 7 to 12W.

    If they do, I might consider swapping my MBP13 from 2015 with an Air, because I'm not interested in having a touchbar at all.

    1 vote
  5. [5]
    haykam821
    Link
    Unfortunate that both keyboards (of the MacBook and iPad Pro) are using scissor again, with an inverted 'T' arrow key layout. Minus the crumb issue I really like the butterfly keyboard, which I...

    Unfortunate that both keyboards (of the MacBook and iPad Pro) are using scissor again, with an inverted 'T' arrow key layout.

    Minus the crumb issue I really like the butterfly keyboard, which I have on my current laptop. I don't think I could go back to a scissor keyboard even with the purported 1mm travel.

    The inverted 'T' arrow key layout, which Apple claims to be new, doesn't make sense to me over the previous layout. Apple claims it prevents people from having to look down to see where each arrow key is, but that's never been a problem for a pro user, and I think it'd be annoying to miss the arrow key.

    1 vote
    1. [2]
      JXM
      Link Parent
      Have you used the new keyboards? I've used the 16-inch quite a bit and it's a massive improvement over the butterfly switches. They feel a lot better and more stable than the previous scissor...

      Have you used the new keyboards? I've used the 16-inch quite a bit and it's a massive improvement over the butterfly switches. They feel a lot better and more stable than the previous scissor switches.

      But keyboard feel is entirely subjective, so my experience could be completely different from yours.

      I would say that the crumb issue is a dealbreaker. They tried to fix the issue multiple times and failed. The fact that a single crumb can result in having to replace basically the entire laptop (which can cost the user $1,700) is just flat out bad design.

      5 votes
      1. Greg
        Link Parent
        I've only played around in the store with the new ones (on the 16"), but to me they felt kind of mushy, compared to a more satisfying click on the 13" that I'm typing on now. The reliability on...

        I've only played around in the store with the new ones (on the 16"), but to me they felt kind of mushy, compared to a more satisfying click on the 13" that I'm typing on now. The reliability on the 13" is unequivocally terrible, so as you say making a change was the right decision, but on feel alone I wasn't convinced.

        1 vote
    2. [2]
      nothis
      Link Parent
      Too pro to make mistakes?

      but that's never been a problem for a pro user

      Too pro to make mistakes?

      1. haykam821
        Link Parent
        Too pro to need to look down to find the keys:

        Too pro to need to look down to find the keys:

        A redesigned scissor mechanism delivers 1mm of key travel for a comfortable and stable key feel, while the new inverted-“T” arrangement for the arrow keys makes them easier to find without looking down.

  6. Shahriar
    Link
    Eager for the refresh on the 13" MacBook Pro.

    Eager for the refresh on the 13" MacBook Pro.

    1 vote