It's been a really crappy week. In fact, it's starting to feel like a really terrible year. Wherever you turn on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok or anywhere else, all you can really hope to hear about is the coronavirus pandemic.
In the UK, the government announced Friday that it was taking the next steps to enforce social distancing by closing pubs, restaurants, bars, clubs, gyms, and leisure centers. The most recent reports state that one in five Americans will soon find themselves under a "stay at home" order, measures already in force in Connecticut, New Jersey, Illinois, and California. In Europe, Italy is finding itself harder hit than China, with Spain not far behind.
For those of us not affected directly by disease, the impact is still enormous. Many have found themselves without work. Those lucky enough to keep their jobs are being asked to work from home in isolation, many for the first time. These are tough, tough times, but it shouldn't, and doesn't need to be all doom and gloom.
Amidst the chaos of the week, Apple gave us just a glimpse of normal life. A single flicker, reminding us that life in whatever form it now finds itself in must go on. And oh boy, it was nice to spend even just a couple of hours, thinking about processors, LiDAR scanners, 4K video, that Magic Keyboard, and Apple's stunning new Surf Blue silicone. Here's to you Apple, for giving us something to smile about this week.
In case you missed it, earlier this week Apple announced a couple of brand new products, a slight refresh for an old friend, and some hot new accessories.
First up was Apple's brand new MacBook Air. In a press release Apple stated:
Apple today updated MacBook Air, the world's most loved notebook, with faster performance, the new Magic Keyboard, twice the storage and a new lower price of $999, and $899 for education. The new MacBook Air delivers up to two times faster CPU performance and up to 80 percent faster graphics performance, letting customers breeze through daily activities and play more games.
That's right, the MacBook Air is now more powerful than ever. In fact, the earliest benchmarking scores seem to suggest it could be as much as 75% faster than its predecessor. If you're curious to know more about the new MacBook Air, then we've got plenty of great content for you, starting with our 'Everything you need to know guide' and our buyer's guide for those of you choosing between the MacBook Pro and the MacBook Air..
The MacBook Air has always been great. It looks great, is thin, light and ultra-portable. The improvements under the hood make it an even more viable option for students and creatives on the go. Oh, and did we mention that the butterfly keyboard is gone? Your new MacBook Air will also sport a shiny new Magic Keyboard like the one Apple debuted in its 16-inch MacBook Pro.
Next came Apple's brand new iPad Pro (pictured).
It's got a whack of shiny new features including a space-age (literally) LiDAR scanner for improved AR capabilities, and support for trackpad and mouse thanks to iOS 13.4. To go alongside it, Apple announced its new premium Magic Keyboard with built-in trackpad. From the press release:
With iPadOS 13.4, Apple brings trackpad support to iPad, giving customers an all-new way to interact with their iPad. Rather than copying the experience from macOS, trackpad support has been completely reimagined for iPad. As users move their finger across the trackpad, the pointer elegantly transforms to highlight user interface elements. Multi-Touch gestures on the trackpad make it fast and easy to navigate the entire system without users ever lifting their hand.
Make no mistake, the introduction of trackpad support to the iPad is a massive, massive step for Apple. You can read more about our thoughts on the iPad's new Magic Keyboard and Trackpad here.
Quietly, Apple also announced an update to old faithful, the Mac Mini, which now comes in doubled storage capacity compared to previous models:
The standard configurations of Mac mini now come with double the storage capacity. The $799 configuration now comes standard with 256GB, while the $1,099 configuration features 512GB of storage, and every Mac mini is made from 100 percent recycled aluminum.
And finally, Apple announced an awesome range of new Apple Watch bands and cases for iPhone 11 including three great new colors, Catcus, Grapefruit, and my personal favorite, Surf Blue. Apple's stunning new designs were a much needed slash of life, color and joy during a week of intense, devastating news.
It would be quite easy, and perhaps warranted, to argue that the significance of a new iPad Pro, iPhone cases or Watch bands pales at a time when the world is facing a global pandemic unprecedented in most of our life times. It may seem futile to suggest to some amidst the chaos that somehow, a new MacBook is a beacon of hope during severe economic downturn. I would never be so flippant as to say "sure, there's a global pandemic going on, but chin up, look at this new iPad". Yet Apple deserves credit for pushing out new products amidst this turmoil.
Apple could quite easily have chosen to delay the release of any or all of these products, citing supply chain issues or less-than favorable market conditions. It could have waited until its stores were open to maximize revenue and excitement, but it didn't. Apple's decision to press on with its product launches is a small yet powerful reminder that life must and will go on during these difficult times. In fact, credit needs to go to all of the great companies and businesses who are trying to do their bit right now, whether thats through improved services, helpful guidance, increased supply, or perhaps taking the incredibly difficult and selfless decision to put their operations on hold. Not only does everyone's collective effort make everything just a little bit easier right now, it also reminds us that things will, eventually, return to normal. I for one, am really grateful for that.
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