Apple’s ‘Peek Performance’ Event

Mar 9, 2022 • Extra OrdinaryApple Event



Friday Night Baseball

Right out of the gate, Apple announced that there will be two baseball games broadcast every Friday on Apple TV+. As Dan Moren pointed out, they will even broadcast for free without an Apple TV+ subscription for a limited time.

After much speculation, it appears that Apple’s strategy here will be to add live sports in with a regular Apple TV+ subscription. I was hoping this would happen. People are already confused what Apple TV+ offers, much less what it even is. The last thing they need for their subscription content service that shares a similar name with a hardware product, an app and a content aggregation feature within that app is another tier to their subscription content service with a similar name.

iPhone

The iPhone’s new mid-cycle color this year, green, comes to all four regular and pro iPhone models. Last years’ mid-cycle color, purple, was only on the 12 and 12 mini. I would have loved to see the ‘pro’ version of purple. Also, I found the animation to be mildly unsettling.

The new iPhone SE is a solid update. Last-minute speculation was that it would take the design of the iPhone mini; I think it’s too early for this while the 13 mini is still for sale. I noticed that in their summary of new great features enabled by the A15 and their newer hardware they specifically called out Live Text—a feature of the Neural Engine on iOS 15, available on a lot of phones—but it definitely needs called out because it’s awesome. The $30 price bump is unfortunate for a price-sensitive model, but understandable for several years’ updates at once.

iPad Air

The new iPad Air catches up to the iPad mini with Center Stage and 5G and surpasses it with the M1 chip. Paired with the Magic Keyboard, this is the best value computer Apple has ever made. That it lacks Face ID is a heart-breaking stumble at the finish line. If they cannot bring the Face ID components down in price enough, maybe they need to add Touch ID to the Magic Keyboard, like on the iMac?

Mac

M1 Ultra

The M1 Ultra is the previously-rumored 2× M1 Max chip. Predictably, it doubles every M1 Max spec with 16 high-performance and 4 high-efficiency CPU cores, 64 GPU cores, 32 Neural Engine cores and 128 GB unified memory.

Is there a limit to the ARM architecture’s curve of power and performance? Is there a limit to the adjectives Apple can use to name these chips? The answer to both is the same: not yet, apparently.

Oddly, John Ternus says the M1 Ultra is the final chip in the M1 architecture. What about the rumored 4× M1 Max chip? Evidently, we will need to wait until M2.

Mac Studio

A professional standalone desktop computer that sacrifices internal modularity for price? The xMac has come to life in the form of the Mac Studio, albeit an entire processor transition too late.

Here is a crazy statistic: it’s less than half the size of the Power Mac G4 Cube. The G4 Cube was 8″ all around; the Mac Studio is about the same width and under half the height. That means you could fit two of them in the G4 Cube’s acrylic enclosure.

Another fun observation: although Apple generously put two USB-C ports and an SD card slot on the front of the machine, none of Apple’s press images have anything plugged into them.

Is this the machine I have been waiting for? It might be a bit too pro for me. The base model Mac Studio comes with the M1 Max. Now that more of the Apple silicon lineup has been introduced, I think what I want is a desktop computer with the cheaper M1 Pro. Interestingly, the Mac Studio’s debut has coincided with the discontinuation of the iMac Pro. The high-end Intel Mac mini is still for sale. I think whatever Apple puts in that slot in the lineup has my name on it.

Studio Display

Here comes a rare sentence: I am astonished this brand-new Apple product is so cheap. With remarkably similar specs to the Pro Display XDR, the Studio Display is a bit smaller for a quarter of the price. More precisely, 27% the price with 83% of the Ks.

Compare it to the LG UltraFine 5K, and you have a monitor that is $300 more expensive, but you get a brighter panel, True Tone, a better camera with Center Stage and optional nano-texture glass. That’s before even accounting for the solid aluminum enclosure, which surely puts the creaky plastic UltraFine to shame.

Compare it to the iMac and you can see the displays are remarkably similar. These were clearly cut from the same cloth, but the desktop market has narrowed such that Apple does not think there is not room in the lineup for both a big iMac and a small consumer monitor. As I will outline in greater detail for Cult of Mac, if you remove the ‘computer’ from the cost of the iMac, the cost of the iMac’s display is $550. An all-in-one machine allows both elements to share a profit margin in one product.

What’s next?

John Ternus, you are a tease. The Mac Pro is undoubtedly coming soon, perhaps at WWDC.

Of course, the transition is not done when everything Intel gets an Apple chip; it is done when every product is redesigned around the new architecture, free from the cooling and power constraints of Intel. The MacBook Air, MacBook Semi-Pro and Mac mini are still the same as their Intel counterparts with an M1 drop-in. And as revealed today, the M2 Supreme? Mega? Doubleplus Ultra? is left on the table, too.

The Mac is back, and it is back-er than ever.

Apple AR/VR Headset

Mission failed, we’ll get ’em next time.

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