The ARM MacBook that will (never?) come

Apple Inc. is designing a new chip for future Mac laptops that would take on more of the functionality currently handled by Intel Corp. processors, according to people familiar with the matter.

The new report comes from Bloomberg, and there we can find  (not much) information about the codenamed T310, an ARM chip that would be the next Apple’s step on that theoretical path to abandon Intel chips some day.

The T310 could be used to enable a new low-power mode on Apple’s MacBooks, but it’s not exactly clear if the chip will in fact replace the Intel chip on every front in that scenario, or will limit itself to certain low-power tasks. Apple has already integrated a T1 ARM chip to manage the Touch Bar, and the new one could be use for a “Power Nap” mode that:

allows Mac laptops to retrieve e-mails, install software updates, and synchronize calendar appointments with the display shut and not in use

This is interesting in its own right, and would mean that that ARM chip is indeed capable of running macOS apps that (again, this is relevant) are theoretically coded on an x86 instruction code, not an ARM one. I wonder if there is some kind of emulation here, or those apps have two binaries to run in either processor when needed.

Both scenarios are interesting, and could lead to that future in which the ARM MacBook will, indeed, come. It seems that will take more time than we thought it would, though.

Source: Apple Said to Work on Mac Chip That Would Lessen Intel Role – Bloomberg

No one gets the MacBook Pro, and you probably won’t either

The MacBook Pro reviews are coming. Not the ones about the base model, but the ones that finally analyze the model with Touch Bar, that invention that according to Apple is the future of those computers. Well, not many seem to think likewise.

In fact, most of the reviews are just a confirmation of what people thought of these machines after being launched a few weeks ago. On ReCode Walt Mossberg has been unsusally crude with Apple, something that is really surprising:

The new 13-inch MacBooks — even the base model without the Touch Bar — are costly. And they may make pro users unhappy. But, for everyday Mac lovers — users of the Air or maybe the older low-end Pro — they are now your only thin, modern option with a full-fledged processor. The Touch Bar has potential, but it’s not magic. The battery isn’t likely to deliver on Apple’s claims. You can’t count on liking the keyboard. But, if you’re a Mac devotee ready to move past the Air — not back to a lower-powered MacBook — this is what Apple is offering. Take it or leave it.

There you go. It’s Apple’s way or the highway.

Same thing on The Verge. These guys have tested both the 13 and the 15 inch models, and the former has been rated with a 7.6. That’s the lowest score I’ve seen on an Apple product since The Verge was born five years ago. The two final sentences are again conclusive:

I have little doubt that in a couple years, the technology Apple has been waiting for will arrive and this vision, or something closer to it, will be complete. Apple just released this machine too soon, or was too aggressive in the decisions it made.

That future is almost certainly out there. But it’s not in this machine. Not yet.

In both cases they talk about the #donglelife problem: you better buy adapters and dongles for all those non-USB-C peripherals you got around, but they also claim the battery is underwhelming. The Touch ID, though, is a nice addition.

Engadget is on that line too: they don’t seem to understand this MacBook Pro and the reasons why Apple has decided to go this route:

As I said, there’s ultimately a lot to like about the new MacBook Pro. But it’s designed for someone who I’m not sure exists outside Apple’s fantasies of how professionals use computers. The MacBook Pro I want to see is built around real people’s work habits. I still recommend it, and I imagine many of you who have been waiting patiently will indeed buy this. But I’d enjoy it more if it were designed for people like us.

There are lots of other reviews, but from what I’ve read they are all (with a few exceptions) almost the same. Nobody seems to get the MacBook Pro, and maybe it’s our fault. Maybe we don’t understand it because we aren’t looking beyond our current devices or our current workflow.

Maybe Apple has just got ahead of its time like it did with other products. Or maybe not. Maybe the MacBook Pro is a big failure everybody is trying to understand and accept because it’s coming from Apple, so it has to be thenextbigthing.

I assume the latter.

I do think that some of the ports we’re using right now have to dissapear sometime in the future, but not so soon and in such a radical way. I really thing the Touch Bar isn’t going to stay with us for much too long.

At least, it will have to evolve and be something that proves that changing our way to work is really worthy. The current Touch Bar doesn’t do that.

This is not looking good Apple. Not at all.

Will the Touch Bar save the MacBook Pro?

The new MacBook Pro is (again) what we expected after months of rumors: lighter, smaller, faster. And more expensive, of course. The main argument here is the shiny new Touch Bar, a customizable touch OLED display that supposedly allow users to access certain application functions faster and easier than through traditional keyboard shortcuts or mouse control.

I tend to consider the Touch Bar on the MacBook Pro as an analogy to the 3D Touch support on the iPhone: something that looks nice on a demo, but that won’t be as revolutionary as it seems in real life.

3D Touch hasn’t been mentioned much by Apple in the latest months, and the problem with the Touch Bar is similar: developers have to enable that support specifically for MacBook Pro owners, who will be just a small part of the Mac user base. I wonder if that would be interesting enough for them given the effort that that kind of support could put to the task.

I found much more compelling the fact that the new MacBook Pro is lighter, faster and better connected. I miss the MagSafe, sure, but charging through USB-C isn’t a bad choice either.

The arrival of the butterfly mechanism to the keyboard is intriguing —although the result in the MacBook has been painful for some users— but the giant Force Touch trackpad is indeed interesting.

Oh, and we still have 3.5mm connectors on the MacBook Pros. Thank god.

Hello Mac. Oh, and good riddance, USB and 3.5mm connector 

Apple is expected to launch the next generation of Mac computers at the Oct. 27 event that lots of users were waiting. The PostPC era has clearly eroded the relevance of these machines, but users still need a PC or a laptop to perform their work on a daily basis.

It was about time, of course: users and critics were claiming for the renewal of several Mac computers, so the new models are expected to attract lots of interested buyers in the holiday season.

Apple will probably take advantage of new Intel’s Kaby Lake processors, and besides some gimmicks —we’ll see if that OLED row everyone is talking about in the new MacBook Pro is really worth it— there’s one thing that could stand out on these new machines: the lack of traditional USB ports.

Thunderbolt 3 over USB-C ports will reportedly be part of the new machines, which won’t have “normal” USB ports. There are rumors that seem to confirm too that the traditional 3.5mm jack will also dissapear on these designs, something that makes even more sense on those laptops after watching how the iPhone 7/Plus chaos wasn’t that chaotic at all for the ones that have bought those devices.

That will be an event to watch, for sure. Stay tuned.

The new MacBook is a new test to our patience

Apple has just announced the new MacBook (2016), a refresh that comes short of what we were expecting in almost everyway. The design is unchanged except for the new rose gold color option, and on the inside we’ve got some shy improvements.

Yes, there is new Core m3, m5 and m7 processors with new integrated GPU (25% faster according to Apple’s data), a somewhat faster memory and PCIe flash storage and one hour of extra battery life.

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These are nice but expected improvements, but what was most expected was the changes to its design: one unique USB-C port. Again. Doubling this would allow us to connect more than one device at a time without further peripherals or even give us access to Thunderbolt 3 devices. That’s extremely weird considering that Apple was a bit supporter of this technology back in the day. This move from Apple only serves to give more credit to the new HP Spectre.

Dissapointing. What’s the reason behind this stingy upgrade? Does Apple want us to buy the iPad Pro instead? Or is a new superpowered Retina MacBook Air (I’m dreaming now) coming at WWDC?

We’ll have to be patient.

Again.

The HP Spectre is everything the Macbook is not

HP has surprised us all with its HP Spectre, a laptop that is just a laptop in spirit -no convertible mumbo jumbo here, thank god- but that gives the conventional segment a real spin.

First, of course, is design. Last year Apple launched the MacBook, a new concept that was right in several ways -ultrathin and ultralight- but that was wrong in so many more. It was underpowered, had just a USB-C port and had a keyboard that made not many fans.

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HP has take all those hints and have made them their strengths: there are 3 USB-C ports (two of them with Thunderbolt 3), a promising keyboard (1.3mm of travel) and touchpad, powerful Core i5 and i7 CPUs, and an intriguing cooling system. The non-multitouch screen is also a great choice, because the 1080p resolution allows to save battery without compromising too much the pixel density.

This is a really well balanced spec sheet, but it is impressive to find it inside on such a thin device. Putting all that technology in just 10.4 mm is really a wonderful feat. The new HP logo for its premium products is also a nice addition, and although I’d like to have another color combination -silver instead of gold- I think HP has really made something great here.

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Surpassing Apple -which seems to be a little bit unimaginative these days– in design, specs and price wasn’t easy a few years ago, but we are seeing how more and more makers are showing their capabilities here. And that’s absolutely fantastic. Kudos for HP.

No converged MacBook-iPad? Remember small tablets, big phones, stylus denial?

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Tim Cook spoke recently with The Irish Independent and he gave his opinion on the chances to release a hybrid computer that would be a combination of a MacBook and an iPad

We feel strongly that customers are not really looking for a converged Mac and iPad,” said Cook. “Because what that would wind up doing, or what we’re worried would happen, is that neither experience would be as good as the customer wants. So we want to make the best tablet in the world and the best Mac in the world. And putting those two together would not achieve either. You’d begin to compromise in different ways

Well, Apple said something similar about small tablets and about the validity of the stylus. Cook recently called the Surface Book a diluted product, when the iPad Pro is clearly following that concept and trying to convince everyone without actually succeeding.

I’m pretty sure that converged device will show up, and I’m confident the MacBook -or a derivative from this one- will probably use ARM processors in the near future. Maybe not in 2016, but 2017 seems feasible.

The big question is what OS will be used on that device. Is Apple working on OS X for ARM? It did the same when it had OS X running on Intel processors in secret during several years.

I see a pattern here.

Source: Tim Cook: Apple won’t create ‘converged’ MacBook and iPad

Will the iPad Pro be able to save the iPad?

I’m blind to adjectives (and quotations) in press releases. That’s part of my education as a tech journalist, so I must really pay attention to read words like epic, groundbreaking, gorgeous or stunning.

But Apple and others have to try. Their mission is to make the world a better place sell products, and you often can’t be neutral when you do that at your company. Apple must do something else with the new iPad Pro: revive the category that’s suffering a lot.

The iPad Pro is a niche product. It escapes from that family target and identifies itself as a very special laptop replacement. One that is really a tablet, but that can outperform real laptops. The trade-off is evident, and there are three letters that define it:

iOS.

The strange thing about the iPad Pro is that it validates what Microsoft did with the Surface, but it does with that significant change. You can be quite productive with iOS, I guess, but that stubbornness is irritating. Apple, you’re competing with your own MacBook and MacBook Air (both on price and/or dimensions), so why would I decide an iPad Pro is better than that?

I guess the Apple Pencil is the only good answer for that.

I don’t know if that would be enough to save the iPad, but I predict the rest of the models will follow. Why do the Apple Pencil makes sense in the iPad Pro and not in the rest of the iPad family?

It does, and even the Smart Keyboard applies to that idea. But paying $799 for the ability to draw in a powerful tablet is something I wouldn’t recommend to anyone but artists and design professionals.

The rest will do far better with a laptop or a tablet. Or a smartphone, for that matter.

Source: Apple – Press Info – Epic 12.9-inch iPad Pro Available to Order Online Wednesday & Arrives in Stores Later This Week

Samsung ATIV Book 9 Pro is another testimony on why 4K is mostly useless on a laptop

We don’t need latops with 4K UHD screens. At least not yet. The benefits are minimal for most users, because you’ll end using scaled resolutions. That happens on Retina MacBooks since their launch, and for example the 15-inch Retina models have 2800×1800 native resolution, but you end using 1680×1050 or 1280×800 scaled resolutions.

With a UHD screen (3840×2160) you’ll end using 1920×1080 as the scaled resolution -unless you’ve got a really incredible eyesight. You’ll see beautiful detail and definition there, but the impact on battery is clear. The Toshiba Satellite P50T lasted 2 hours and 40 minutes on PCMark 8 Battery Life benchmark -3.5 hours on the Toshiba Radius 12 4K tested by Mossberg-, and although Samsung says this model lasts 6.5 hours, we’ll what’s the real number here. There’s an impact on performance too, although that is well managed by the GeForce GTX 950M included in the package.

The $1,599 price tag isn’t that bad for what Samsung offers in terms of specs, but if you value battery life, 4K laptops are not the way to go. In fact, the interesting one here is his little brother, the ATIV Book 9 Spin:

The $1,399 Samsung ATIV Book 9 Spin has a 13-inch QHD+ display that can rotate 360 degrees, turning this notebook into a tablet.

Not bad for a convertible laptop that offers the same specs minus the discrete GPU and that gimmicky screen. The resolution here (3.200 x 1.800) is nice and the format, with a 13.3 inches diagonal, is much more interesting for users that demand more portability.

Source: Samsung Enters 2-in-1 Fray with ATIV Book 9 Spin

9 reasons why the new iMacs are a disappointment

Yesterday Apple renewed their iMacs and peripherals with the traditional fanfare. The company masters product placement and their media coverage is astounding. In fact, most media seems to just believe the exact same message Apple sends on their press releases, and it’s difficult to find proper insight that goes beyond what Apple wants us to talk about.

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Prepare your wallet. This will hurt.

That’s what we’re here, of course. Since The Unshut is about talk freely and openly about all kind of things tech related, let’s talk about what Apple didn’t say on this particular occasion. The announcement speaks about stunning new Retina displays: we’ve got now a 4K 21.5” option on the smaller iMac, and the Retina 5K display is present on all the 27” iMacs. The new machines come with new peripherals too: the Magic Keyboard (as The Verge notes, the keyboard is magic now: it was just wireless before) , Magic Mouse 2 and Magic Trackpad 2 are also a matter of debate.

Here are 9 reasons why the new iMacs and their new peripherals are a (big?) disappointment.

  1. No Target Display Mode: you won’t be able to use the new Retina Displays to connect your console, a MacBook or Windows laptop, or a tablet, for that matter.
  2. Broadwell on the 21.5 inches iMac: Apple has decided to use the old Broadwell family of processors, and for a good reason: they’re integrating the latest SocS from this 5th generation because they include Iris Pro integrated graphics. That’s reasonable now that there is a 4K display with many pixels to move arround, but there are absences as well: no discrete graphics option on the 21.5 inches models. I could talk about memory too: no DDR4 support even on the new, Skylake 27” models. That’s not very important (benefits aren’t that amazing), but we’ve got again big costs for memory upgrades: $200 for each additional 8 GBs, when you could by for example a nice set of 16 GB (2x8GB) Crucial Ballistix Sport for $75 at Amazon.
  3. Hard drives. 5400 RPM: In 2015? Seriously? With products that cost a minimum of $1,100? This is even harder to believe on the 27 inches models, that start with 1TB hard drives (7200 RPM, miraculous) for $1,799. You’ve got to be kidding me.
  4. Fusion Drive with 24 GB of Flash: hybrid storage devices from Apple combine traditional hard drives with Flash memory, but on the 1TB base model you will have only 24 GB of Flash, when previous models had 128 GB (on 2TB and 3TB versions the drives actually include 128GB of Flash storage, you’ll have to pay $100 for each additional TB).
  5. Magic Keyboard isn’t magic: no backlightning, no numeric keypad. This is a desktop keyboard, why is Apple so obsessive with getting a keyboard as small as possible? The rechargeable battery is nice, even though you’ll have to use wires from time to time. $99 dollars for this, a non-mechanical keyboard, seems overpriced to me.
  6. Magic price for the Magic TrackPad 2: this is a good peripheral with a good feature -Force Touch is a more than welcome addition- but the price ($129) isn’t right again. Logitech T650 (true, no Force Touch there) is $40 at Amazon.
  7. Not much magic on the Magic Mouse 2 either: the big change here is the rechargeable battery and the Lightning port. That’s it. No Force touch (would have been nice), and that super flat design. Again, not very affordable at $79.
  8. No Thunderbolt 3, no USB-C: Apple continues to support Lightning above all the alternatives -not on the MacBook though, wonder why- and doesn’t take advantage of the new Thunderbolt 3 spec with the USB-C ports. I wonder if this is a limitation of the new motherboards in the iMacs.
  9. No Thunderbolt Displays: there was no news for Mac Pro -two years now without a big refresh- but the thing is even worse when Thunderbolt Displays are now 4 years old. It’s ironic: we’ve got 27 inch 5K Retina displays, but we haven’t got that on an independent display. I’d love to check that screens. 5K seems to me a bigger deal (1440p on perfect scale) than current 4K/UHD offers.

I don’t know about you, but for me the new iMacs are pretty much a fraud. I would only consider them if I really would take advantage of the new, promising screens and that gorgeous resolution. No gaming here (even on the $2,549 27 inch model with a Radeon M395X), the only real reason to upgrade is… none.

This is an adaptation of the original post, in Spanish, at Incognitosis.