Rumored MacBook Pro OLED touch bar to mimic iPad Pro?

Last week brought the first—and surprising—rumor from AppleInsider of an OLED touch bar above a new MacBook Pro (MBP) keyboard. At the time, I tweeted an image I mocked up of what that touch bar may represent.

This week brings a fresh rumor, including a supposed spy shot, of the OLED touch bar, so I thought I’d write a blog post to further explain my mockup from last week, with the amazing ways it could be used on a Mac.

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The Flip-Flop Between iPad Pro and Original iPhone

While responding to a tweet yesterday by Neil Cybart (@NeilCybart), I suddenly had an epiphany about the strange difference between the original iPhone and the iPad Pro.

Neil’s tweet was about an anticipated and continued drop in sales for iPads:

My response was much like the refrain from a real estate agent, but instead of location, location, location, I said this:

And that got me thinking about just how much has changed in the mobile industry over the past 8 years, since the introduction of the iPhone. (It can hardly be called the “mobile” industry anymore, though, as the iPad Pro at 12.9˝ is now larger than the Retina MacBook at 12˝, and iOS & Android work on everything from watches to TVs to cars to phones to laptop-like tablets.)

So, what was the epiphany?

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Will $399 iPad Air 3 have an A9 chip, & Apple’s A9X chip be reserved for iPad Pro?

Apple recently released iOS 9.3, surprising everyone with its robust education features. Chromebooks have overtaken education, and Apple needs to be competitive.

It seems curious to me, though, that all these education features come in a point-release, iOS 9.3, instead of a major release like iOS 10. Sure, Apple might want to get these features our there ASAP, since Chromebooks are now over 50% of the education market in just a few years’ time.

However, point releases such as 9.3 often relate to new hardware. Everyone’s expecting an iPad Air 3 this spring, and like all past iPad Air’s, it’ll have Apple’s fastest CPU, the A9X, right?

Well, something funny happened along the way to this year’s delayed iPad Air: the iPad Pro.

Sure, the iPad Pro is bigger than the iPad Air, but Pro is more than just about being bigger. MacBook Air’s and MacBook Pro’s have both had 13˝ models, for example. Pro models are typically more expandable (ports), have nicer screens, have more RAM & storage options, & have faster CPU’s. The iPad Pro has all of these things, with Smart Connector, Smart Keyboard, Pencil, 128 GB option, 4 GB RAM…

And, I’m suggesting, the iPad Air may “just” get the A9 CPU instead of the A9X. This might logically come with a $50-$100 price reduction.

Why would Apple lower the price of the iPad Air? Simple: the education market. Chromebooks are cheap, and while Apple doesn’t do cheap, they are astute competitors.

The iPad Air used to need the fastest CPU because mobile CPUs were generally pretty slow compared to laptops. The A9 and A9X changed that equation. The A9X is actually faster than the mobile Intel CPUs in the base models of the Surface Pro 4 and the Retina MacBook.

The A9X is actually faster than the mobile Intel CPUs in the base models of the Surface Pro 4 and the Retina MacBook.

Meanwhile the A9 is no slouch. It makes the iPhone 6S the fastest phone on the market—by a very wide margin. If the Air series is a “light” (figuratively and literally) version of the Pro line, then it certainly makes sense for it to have a lighter-weight, but still very capable, CPU.

This would allow Apple to lower the price of the iPad Air, making it more attractive to the education market, the enterprise, and consumers. It would also allow Apple to create a bigger price gap between the iPad Air and the iPad Pro, possibly allowing the iPad Pro 2 to start at $799 and the iPad Pro 1 to drop to $699 this fall.

To drop the iPad Air’s price by $100, Apple would have to make other hardware compromises. Maybe 3 MB RAM instead of 4; probably no Pencil support; definitely no Smart Connector. In other words, Apple needs to further distinguish the Air and Pro lines—more than just screen size.

But this low price and basic features, while still being powerful enough, could make it a great tablet for large purchasers, such as schools, the enterprise, and for children. Don’t scoff: many people are perfectly fine with a MacBook Air or Retina MacBook instead of a MacBook Pro. Pro’s can still buy the iPad Pro, if they need features like the Pencil, Smart Keyboard, 4 GB RAM, and 128 GB storage options.

So I think iOS 9.3 was the final puzzle piece that makes this all make sense. The iPad Air 3 was delayed for reasons that no one really understood. But a lower priced model aimed at education & the enterprise would make all the puzzle pieces fit together.


Apple has hugely ambitious plans for open-sourced Swift, and hints on what’s coming to iOS

Craig Federighi revealed many interesting tidbits when you read the transcript–and read between the lines–of his talk with John Gruber of Daring Fireball on The Talk Show podcast.

First let me tie this into yesterday’s post by talking about the maturation of iOS by bringing in features from OS X, and then I’ll talk about the hugely ambitious plans to take Swift Everywhere.

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Should You Port Your iPhone/iPad App to Apple TV?

Your business or enterprise has an iOS app for iPhone and/or iPad, and you’re intrigued by the new app support on Apple TV and tvOS. Should you port your app to tvOS?

It seems like a fairly easy decision. Despite its different name, tvOS is very similar to iOS and has many of the same foundational building blocks. Much like Apple Watch and watchOS, Apple TV and tvOS allow you to build much of your app without changes.

But there are both technical and user experience reasons that feed into the decision on whether to port your app.

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There’s no such thing as an iPad app

After the reviews of the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 trickled out yesterday, the meme on Twitter seemed to be “Apple needs to create better iPad apps.” Nilay Patel of The Verge said it, @Lessian said it, and earlier @Monkbent said it.

While I agree with their intent—that iOS, now running on 64-bit processors, is fully capable of much more than apps do today—phrasing it in terms only of the iPad does a disservice to Apple, to UX designers, to developers, and to businesses.

I’m here to warn you today that there is no such thing as an iPad app. And if you think about it that way (thinking that iPhone and iPad—and even Mac OS X—apps are different things), then you haven’t fully grasped where Apple is moving to in the future.

It’s funny: in the past six months, the argument has completely inverted. Earlier this year, at a mobility conference, I gave a presentation called “You Can’t Ignore the Tablet”. Now, six months later, here I am warning people not to create iPad-only apps.

There are both technical and non-technical reasons why iPad-only apps don’t make sense. Here’s a list of 4 reasons why you don’t want to create an iPad-only app.

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The one thing no one is talking about for Apple’s iPad & Mac event this week


Sure, everyone wants new devices, and new devices are a key part of Apple’s ecology, but devices without software (apps) are meaningless. Take Windows Phone… please.

OK, so some people are talking about OS X Yosemite and iTunes 12 being unveiled tomorrow. Sure, that’s software, but we’ve heard all about Yosemite at WWDC in June, and iTunes will get a new coat of paint but otherwise won’t be significantly different.

I’m talking about major software changes. What am I talking about?

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Product Owners: It’s Time to Throw Off the Shackles of iOS 6!

One year ago, Apple introduced the most significant visual upgrade in iOS’s short but significant history: iOS 7 had a completely new look. Along with that look came subtle but significant changes in how to design and implement iOS apps.

Those subtle changes by themselves weren’t so hard to implement, but there was one albatross that hung over developers’ and designers’ heads: Continue reading