John Voorhees

1010 posts on MacStories since November 2015

John joined MacStories in 2015. He is an editor and regular contributor to MacStories and the Club MacStories newsletters, co-hosts AppStories, a weekly podcast exploring the world of apps, with Federico, and handles sponsorship sales for MacStories and AppStories. John is also the creator of Blink, an iOS affiliate linking app for the iTunes Affiliate Program.

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Austin Mann: A Photographer’s Review of the iPad Pro

Source: austinmann.com

Source: austinmann.com

Austin Mann has published a review of the new iPad Pro for photographers. Mann, a professional photographer, is in Iceland shooting 100-megapixel images with a Hasselblad H6D-100c that generates 216MB RAW files that are a great test of Apple’s new hardware. Mann demonstrates how well the iPad Pro handles those images by zooming in and out and panning around with little lag in a video demo of Adobe Lightroom CC.

Beyond the sheer performance of the hardware though, Mann has been impressed with the versatility and portability of the device. As he explains:

I was working with Mavic Pro 2 in the black volcanic deserts of south Iceland. While sitting in the car (in the middle of the desert, in the middle of nowhere), I decided to offload my images and review them.

I pulled out the iPad Pro and a card reader, and within only a few moments I was reviewing them on screen. Next thing I knew I was editing them with the Pencil in Lightroom CC and then I shared one with my wife—all within just a few moments.

It’s really easy to sit just about anywhere (even with a steering wheel in your face) and not just use it, but use it to its full extent. Another cool feature in this scenario is eSIM. Because the iPad Pro is connected to cellular, even in the middle of nowhere Iceland, I could quickly share the images without even thinking about my connection, WiFi, hotspots, etc. Time wasn’t mission critical on this shoot, but in a scenario where time is of the essence, this kind of workflow could be a game-changer.

That’s a sort of power the iPad Pro brings to bear that can’t be measured in chip speeds or other specs. It’s a flexibility that allows photographers and other creative professionals to work in more contexts and with greater efficiency. It’s hard to quantify but just as important.

Be sure to check out Mann’s review for more on his iPad Pro photography workflow and his beautiful photos of Iceland.

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Apple Updates GarageBand, Pages, Numbers, iMovie, and Keynote

As new iPad Pros are delivered worldwide today, Apple has released updates to GarageBand, Pages, Numbers, iMovie, and Keynote.

GarageBand adds support for keyboard shortcuts for the iPad Pro Smart Keyboard and other Bluetooth keyboards. The app also adds a Wah stompbox pedal and Face Control for the Smart Guitar.

Pages can now publish straight to Apple Books from both the iOS and Mac versions of the app.

iMovie adds support for mirroring and video previewing from the new iPad Pros to external displays. The video previews added to iMovie are not surprising given the press shots published by Apple last week demonstrating the feature and can handle uncompressed 4K output. The Mac version of iMovie also removes the option to publish directly to Facebook. Instead, the app can export to a Facebook-compatible format.

Finally, Numbers and Keynote also received updates, which are described merely as ‘stability and performance improvements.’


Phil Schiller and Anand Shimpi Discuss the iPad Pro’s A12X Chip

Ars Technica interviewed Phil Schiller, Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing, and Anand Shimpi, from Apple’s Hardware Technologies group, about the new iPad Pro’s A12X system on a chip. The article also benchmarks the iPad Pro against other iOS devices, Macs, and competing products. The results of Ars Technica’s tests are impressive. The iPad is not only the fastest iOS device available, but it also compares favorably with Apple’s pro Mac lineup.

In the interview, Samuel Axon of Ars leads off by asking about the iPad’s CPU. Shimpi explains how the chip outperforms the A10X:

“We've got our own custom-designed performance controller that lets you use all eight at the same time,” Shimpi told Ars. “And so when you're running these heavily-threaded workloads, things that you might find in pro workflows and pro applications, that's where you see the up to 90 percent improvement over A10X.”

Regarding the GPU, Shimpi says:

“It's our first 7-core implementation of our own custom-designed GPU," he said. "Each one of these cores is both faster and more efficient than what we had in the A10X and the result is, that's how you get to the 2x improved graphics performance. It's unheard of in this form factor, this is really an Xbox One S class GPU. And again, it's in a completely fanless design."

Apple is predictably tight-lipped about the Neural Engine, which powers machine learning tasks. In response to why the company keeps pushing its chip technology forward so rapidly despite its lead, Schiller pointed to Apple’s culture:

We don't care if they're doing something that isn’t interesting to us. We don't care if we're lapping them. Good. We’ll lap them ten times. It doesn't matter because it's in service to the user, not the competition.

It’s not surprising that Apple was unwilling to share much detail about how and why it’s pushing so aggressively with its custom silicon solutions. What’s clear, however, is that the company is well aware of the advantage its custom solution provides and is moving forward as fast as ever to improve it even further.

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MacBook Air and Mac mini Review Roundup: Welcome Updates to Apple’s Mac Lineup

Tomorrow, Apple will begin delivering new MacBook Airs and Mac minis to customers around the world. It’s been a long time since either computer was updated; too long many would say. John Gruber of Daring Fireball asked around about the period between updates:

Behind the scenes last week in New York, I asked a few folks from Apple for any sort of hint why these two Macs — the MacBook Air and Mac Mini — went so long between updates. One thing I was told is that Apple wants to focus on “meaningful updates”. The days of “speed bump” updates are largely over. The value just isn’t there.

That may not be a message that long-time Mac users want to hear, but it’s consistent with recent history and seems to be supported by the reviews published today. Regardless of the backstory though, both new Macs are substantial updates that have received generally favorable reviews.

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AppStories, Episode 86 – Apps and the New iPad Pro

On this week's episode of AppStories, we talk about the new iPad Pros announced at the event held by Apple in Brooklyn, New York, the apps announced onstage and that Federico tried in the hands-on area, Apple’s dubious comparison of the iPad GPU to the Xbox One S, and the first-party apps we expected but didn’t see.

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iPad Pro Review Roundup: Impressive Hardware Held Back by iOS Limitations

The initial reviews of Apple’s new iPad Pros are out. There is a general consensus that the hardware is impressive, but many reviewers conclude that limitations of iOS are holding the device back. Here are highlights from some of the reviews:

Performance

Laptop Magazine sums up what many reviewers discovered about the iPad Pro’s hardware:

The iPad Pro is the quintessential tablet for power users and creative pros. It's so fast that I imagine the likes of Qualcomm and Intel are getting nervous. This tablet wiped the floor with premium Windows laptops and 2-in-1s, in both benchmarks and real-world tests. The iPad Pro's display, sound and battery life are also top-notch, and the improved Apple Pencil is more comfortable and easier to store.

John Gruber, writing for Daring Fireball says:

“No one buys an iPad because of CPU benchmarks”, I wrote last year. I don’t think that’s true any more. I think there are people who will and should buy the new iPad Pro because of its performance. At the hands-on area after last week’s event, Apple was showing Adobe Lightroom editing 50 megapixel RAW images from a Hasselblad camera. The photos were by Austin Mann, who was there, and helpfully demoed the software, showing what a real pro photographer would do in real life with real images. The experience was completely fluid and instantaneous.

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Inside MacStadium’s Mac Data Center

If you’ve been around the Apple community a while, you’ve probably heard of MacStadium, but you may not understand the scale at which it operates. Snazzy Labs paid a visit to MacStadium’s data center in Las Vegas to check out some of the company’s roughly 8,000 Mac minis humming away powering websites like MacStories and performing all sorts of other tasks. During the segment, Snazzy Labs interviews MacStadium’s Brian Stucki about the Mac minis, hundreds of Mac Pros, iMac Pros, and even some Xserves that the company uses. Besides the huge number of Macs in operation, the customizations made to the Macs for things like data storage, redundant power, and networking are fascinating.

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Jony Ive Reflects on the Design of the New iPad Pros, Apple Pencil, and MacBook Air in a New Interview

Jony Ive, Apple’s Chief Design Officer, sat for an interview with David Phelan of The Independent to talk about designing Apple products in general and the new iPad Pros, Apple Pencil, and MacBook Air in particular.

On redesigning successful products Ive said:

Because when a product has been highly regarded there is often a desire from people to see it redesigned. I think one of the most important things is that you change something not to make it different but to make it better.

If you are making changes that are in the service of making something better, then you don’t need to convince people to fall in love with it again. Our sense of habit and familiarity with something is so developed, there is always that initial reaction that is more of a comment on something being different rather than necessarily better or worse. In my experience, if we try very hard to make material improvements, people quickly recognise those and make the sort of connection they had before with the product.

Ive also revealed that the original iPad was designed to be used primarily in a portrait orientation, while the new iPad Pros have no orientation:

So, in the new iPad Pro, one of the things we’ve been wanting to get to for a long time is a sense that the product is not oriented in a primary and then, therefore, in a secondary way.

The first iPad had a very clear orientation which was portrait. It had the ability to be used in landscape, I think very well, but it was pretty clear how the product was designed. And I think with the first iPad you had the sense that it was a product made up of distinct and somewhat separate components.

What I think marks the new iPad Pro as particularly special is it doesn’t have an orientation. It has speakers all the way around the perimeter. By getting rid of the Home Button and developing Face ID, the tablet is able to work in all of these different orientations.

On the Apple Pencil, Ive describes how its design abstracts away the underlying technical complexity to focus the user on the task at hand:

I think the way it just snaps onto the side, well, that’s a nice example of a sort of that magical feeling. It’s unexpected, we don’t quite understand how it’s working and even more incomprehensible is the fact that it’s also charging. You can see how that’s aligned with this idea that you can just pick the product up and use it without thought.

Actually, you’re using it with tremendous thought, but it’s based on what you want to be doing rather than wondering if you’re holding the tablet the right way up.

Phelan’s interview is full of many other wonderful insights and tidbits about the products Apple revealed earlier this week in New York and should be read in its entirety.

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Justin O’Beirne Evaluates Apple’s New Maps and How They Stack Up Against Google Maps

Source: justinobeirne.com

Source: justinobeirne.com

Justin O'Beirne has written about the evolution of Apple Maps and how the app compares to Google Maps several times in the past, which we’ve covered on MacStories. In his most recent analysis, O’Beirne asks whether Apple’s new efforts to update Maps has closed the gap with Google Maps. Backed up by over 100 images comparing the two sets of map data, the answer appears to be a qualified yes. In some respects, Apple has caught up and even passed Google, but in other areas, it remains behind.

Apple also has a long way to go before its Maps update is complete. As O’Beirne notes, the currently-updated map data covers a small fraction of the globe consisting of Northern California and a slice of Nevada. However, those 48 California and 4 Nevada counties contain a lot of new details.

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