Early MacBook thoughts in no particular order

To get it out of the way: space gray, 512GB, 1.3 GHz. Ordered July 27, estimated arrival Aug 11-17, actual arrival Aug 3.

Here we go:

  • Someone bolted a keyboard to an iPad and installed OS X on it. Cool.
  • It’s solid, an evolution of the MacBook Air construction; the one-piece-ness of an iPad. It feels just great.
  • The keyboard layout is a little odd. F-keys are shorter, arrow keys were redesigned (though I appreciate that they now completely take up that space; the keyboard looks more symmetrical, balanced). Will take some time getting used to. Shouldn’t be a problem.
  • Best. keyboard. ever. For context, I like my key travel as short as possible and my keyboards as silent as possible. It’s part of the reason I like touchscreen-typing on an iPad so much.
  • Speaking of silence, no fan. It’s kind of amazing. It’s gotten warm as I installed the El Capitan beta, Dropbox, and did other moderately intensive tasks, but… silence. I’m happy.
  • I’ve met a few people who have strong complaints about the no-moving-parts Force Trackpad, so I was a little worried. But it feels fine, I got used to it right away. If you’re in that camp, be sure to tinker with options in System Preferences > Trackpad.
  • I really dig that we can turn down the trackpad’s click sound. Same thing as the keyboard for me; quieter the better.
  • I’m mostly a writer these days, so I haven’t pushed it much with things like audio recording or video editing. I’m working on getting the Finer Things in Tech podcast back in action, so I should have a reason for it soon.

Any questions? I’ll update here if I get some good ones.

Can an iPad really replace your PC? Yes, and one Apple blogger set out to prove it

Absolutely. 

I’m getting close myself. The last few tasks that keep me tied to my Mac are some obscure file management for stuff like WordPress (though Transmit for iOS is helping), cleaning up our photo library so I can move it to iOS and iCloud Photo Library, and, ironically, Squarespace for this site and an upcoming relaunch of Finer Things in Tech.

If you’ve been curious about this, This BGR-syndicated-to-Yahoo interview with Federico Viticci, my internet pal and wrangler of Macstories, should be an eye-opener.

Apple’s record first-quarter profits and iPhone sales in context

I think $74.6 billion revenue, $18 billion in profit, and 74.5 million iPhones gets interesting in a different way when paired with this: 

Justin Williams on Apple’s WWDC 2014 announcements and what’s next

The Next Five Years — carpeaqua by Justin Williams:

I came into this years WWDC fairly mellow to what would or wouldn’t be announced. There wasn’t any anticipation or excitement the night before. Just a standard amount of curiousity. After the Keynote, I can’t remember being that excited since the announcement of the original iPhone. They blew the roof of Moscone.

With my entire list of complaints about the Apple platform resolved, what am I supposed to complain about now?

I’ve seen the first sentiment quoted here from many developers—Apple announced a head-spinning number of wonderful things this year and got back in the game. But I link this because Justin is one of the more critical and—more importantly—cross-platform developers I know. Apple did really well, but check out his piece if you want to see some of the ways Apple is still behind in developer tools.

Kirk McElhearn: “Why Does Apple Only Offer 5 GB Storage with iCloud?”

Kirk asks a good question, but bases part of his argument for cheaper iCloud prices on what I believe is a misperception of iCloud’s purpose:

Yes, you can get an extra 10 GB for only $20 a year; that’s enough to back up a couple more devices, but it’s pretty stingy. For $100 a year, you only get 55 GB (the free 5 GB plus another 50). Cloud storage prices are plummeting, and Dropbox, for example, gives you 100 GB for $100 a year, and Dropbox’s storage is much more flexible, since you can access it directly from a Mac.

The misperception here, I argue, being that Dropbox is more “flexible” because you can access it “directly from a Mac.”

I don’t think most regular users care about direct file access like this. In fact, I’d argue that it’s a hinderance, an intimidating aspect of computing that Apple has long been directly working towards removing. Apple isn’t a fan of exposing the file system to the user and clearly hasn’t been for quite a while. Granted, Apple still has plenty of work to do to fully realize this vision, including bringing over some of the convenience and necessary inter-app features that a file system admittedly provides. But make no mistake: iCloud is a foundation of Apple’s existing and future products, and abandoning the file system in iOS is absolutely a deliberate direction.

I’m not defending Apple’s iCloud prices—I agree with Kirk, they should come down a bit. But iCloud’s convenience of being built in and enabled practically out of the box, combined with its removal of this loathed aspect of computing, are part of the reason Apple believes it can charge a comparative premium for extra space. In other words: Apple sees them as competitive advantages, not flaws.

9to5Mac says Apple is planning app intercommunication APIs and much more for iOS 8

I’m not usually one for reporting rumors, but this is too important to pass up. iOS users have been handicapped without this. Mark Gurman for 9to5Mac:

Apple is said to be working on and testing functionality that would allow apps from the App Store to better communicate. An API is being developed for apps to be able to share data. For example, a future photo editing application could have the ability to push the edited content for upload via the Instagram or Facebook apps.

Apple Explains Exactly How Secure iMessage Really Is | TechCrunch

I have my beefs with iMessage, but credit where it’s due: Apple went all-out with iMessage security. Greg Kumparak:

So if Apple never has your private key, how do messages arrive at all of your devices in a readable form? How do your private key(s) get from one device to the other?

Simple answer: they don’t. You’ve actually got one set of keys for each device you add to iCloud, and each iMessage is encrypted independently for each device. So if you have two devices — say, an iPad and an iPhone — each message sent to you is actually encrypted (AES-128) and stored on Apple’s servers twice. Once for each device. When you pull down a message, it’s specifically encrypted for the device you’re on.

Adventures in iMessage #… who’s counting anymore

iMessage nope
Today I’m able to send and receive from iPhone, but I can’t send to the same addresses, in the same conversations, from my Mac. I can receive their messages just fine, but I am gagged.

Sometimes iMessage on either device flips out and tells me addresses I’ve been messaging for years—even @iCloud and @me addresses—are not registered with iMessage. Sometimes it’s for 10 minutes, sometimes for hours.

Sometimes messages appear on one device, but not another. Too often one device gets them all, but they’re out of order. I’m not a developer, but I’m confused as to how messages with time stamps get out of order. For years.

Sometimes a message is sent, is marked as delivered, then minutes or an hour later is marked as never delivered with an error.

I am [this] close to shutting off iMessage and having Verizon shut off my SMS (yes, you can do that. But you have to call in to set it up). I really am.

We’re still doing this?

I’m surprised we’re still having the “is Apple merging iOS and OS X?” discussion. Even if you hooked a touchscreen up to OS X, in its current form, you’d hate it. Just look how well Microsoft’s doing with this.
They’re two OSes with completely different purposes. Not everyone needs pro tools, and there’s plenty of people who can’t work within the simple confines of iOS. These facets are explored quite well in the pieces linked here.

Last but not least, even if Apple did find a way around the many, many obstacles and constraints of merging OS X and iOS, there’s no way they’d tell you without a giant keynote screen behind them and a product demo ready to wow the world.