Okay, creative pros or itinerant machine art producers or fugitive digital bohemian technomusicologists or whatever we call ourselves – a lot of news just dropped at WWDC, but here’s the stuff that likely matters most to you.
M2 architecture – and a new MacBook Pro 13″ and MacBook Air. The M1 was the first-generation Mac, and it felt a little like early adopter tech compared to the M1 Pro and M1 MAX. Now, there’s both a new architecture – the baseline M2 – and updated MacBook Air and 13″ MacBook Pro. I expect that will make the budget-minded entries far more competitive, and of course will have us on the lookout for Pro and MAX versions and other updates of the M2 Pro and M2 MAX. You also get the stuff I loved on the higher-end models, at the entry-level price. For now, check the 13″ models while we wait on what the bigger siblings will bring.
The MacBook Air also gets a very-tempting hardware redesign. You get a dedicated MagSafe charging port, two Thunderbolt ports, full-height function row on the keyboard with Touch ID, and generally the form factor and touchpad you know from the higher-end models.
Big surprise – both the new Air and new 13″ Pro models are promised as available next month, though we’ll see in what quantities. (Surprise as in – despite the ongoing pandemic.)
And I’m still excited to see what the MAX can do with Houdini. (For now, these performance gains – while cool – mainly trounce rival PCs in the same price class plus the previous Macs at that tier, though they are impressive.)
Oh, also 13.6″ display and better camera and battery on the Air?
About that M2 – new features. Apple promises 40% more operations per second for the Neural Engine, a new higher-bandwidth video decoder supporting 8K H.264 and HEVC (hey VJs!), ProRes playback of multiple streams of 4K and 8K video, and new improved image noise reduction.
On the CPU side, you get 18% greater multithreaded performance than M1, says Apple, and … it squashes PCs on efficiency and power, compared with the latest 10-core PCs, but I’ll let you read the claimed stats.
The GPU has a larger cache and higher memory bandwidth with up to 25% higher graphics performance.
I still like the Pro as a sweet spot, but the Pro and MAX also ironed out some glitches on the original M1 so – I’m bullish on baseline M2, too.
macOS Ventura. Spotlight has some cool new tricks that remind me of third-party stuff I’ve used over the years. Stage Manager – uh, hot take, can we just finally tile easily? But yeah, there are now some flashy ways of moving windows around. I think the big bonus here is that there is built-in, internal support for using iPhones as webcams (and mics), which was always a bit dicey with third-party utilities. You also get camera centering with the Ultra Wide camera and clever special effects like “Studio Light.” Camera improvements have me very excited.
The other stuff we’ll need to deep dive on – think accelerated visual performance, which they’re touting for gaming but might well apply to a ton of creative and live visual apps.
There are also new accessibility features that I’ll be curious to explore as far as creative apps. Apple has really led the industry on accessibility in a lot of ways, and a ton of musicians and artists make use of this every day.
I’m sure I can maybe possibly be sold on Stage Manager. I also love what Apple has (finally) done with Focus on iOS, so I’m glad to see that on desktop, too.
And uh – they have the ability to favorite music artists and get notifications when I drop a record. Sorry, I mean, when an artist you actually listen to drops a record.
iPadOS 16 + iOS 16. iPadOS 16 is interesting from a collaborative standpoint. Both look like worthy updates, though what’s new for developers, advanced graphics, and music we’ll need to loop back on.
What we didn’t see: No widely-anticipated augmented reality / mixed reality announcement. But I expect “we didn’t get to see the new hardware thing we expected” could well be the theme of 2022, given ongoing major supply chain disruptions. Read: COVID-19 means people can’t get to work in China and other locations, goods can’t move, and the war in Ukraine means raw materials from Ukraine and Russia aren’t getting to their destination. Not to, like, bring down the mood, but we should absolutely get out of the sense of entitlement we’ve tended to have.
Of course, the absence of the rumored augmented reality stuff could also have nothing to do with that. Apple tends to be conservative about showing stuff only when it’s done and ready. And this is new tech for them. I’d say wait and see.
Meanwhile – the Mac sure remains a healthy platform with speed, battery life, and features that come straight out of a lot of user fantasies. Stay tuned for more on the new OS(es) and silicon. I’m personally going to stay focused on upgrading my brain and learning more of Houdini and stuff, and … resting my brain at the lake, too.
And the edit from Verge:
One more thing: Yeah, we better finally call it “Apple Silicon,” not “M1.”
Or just, you know – Mac.