Yesterday at Apple’s annual developer conference, WWDC, the company revealed a refreshed version of the MacBook Air, the company’s thin-and-light Ultrabook competitor. Both 11-inch and 13-inch versions are getting Intel’s latest Haswell chips. Apple claims 9 hours of battery life for the 11-inch Air and 12 hours for the 13-inch. While critics have called Ultrabooks ‘MacBook Air Clones’, Apple may be falling behind.
Although Juniper research have predicted that 178 million Ultrabooks will ship in 2016, they’ve also predicted that 20 million will sell in 2012. ABI Research have just issued a similar number but include Apple products in that figure.
Apple now has another product that compares well with the Ultrabook sector, and it’s very impressive. Weighing in at 1.63KG / 3.57lbs the Macbook Pro 13” offers more processing headroom, a lot of pixel density, two Thunderbolt ports, backlit keyboard, SSD and a huge, really huge, 74Wh battery. That alone is an engineering feat that others need to be aware of.
Today at Apple’s annual World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) the company refreshed it’s lineup of laptop computers. The company also introduced a brand new addition to the lineup which will surely set the performance and feature bar for future Ultrabooks. Apple annoyingly is calling this the ‘Macbook Pro with retina display’, despite that it is smaller, lighter, and uses a totally different chassis than the Macbook Pro (it’s almost as thin as the MacBook Air, actually). The screen is 15.4″ and a whopping 2880×1800 resolution, but the unit is still fairly light at 2.02kg and thin at 18mm. Step inside to learn everything there is to know about Apple’s new MacBook Pro with retina display.
It looks like Ultrabooks may indeed be catching Apple’s attention. Bloomberg reports that Apple will be launching refreshed versions of the MacBook Pro which will use Ivy Bridge processors, have a slimmer body, high resolution retina display, and include “flash memory to cut startup times and extend battery life”. Read the full story
If Apple launches a 15” MacBook Air this spring it will send a strong message to everyone that the time for traditional laptop designs is coming to an end. A report at Apple Insider says it’s likely to happen. Personally, I’m not surprised at all. We’ve already seen Samsung and Acer launch 15” ultra-thins and if the Ultrabook methodology is as cheap as I think it is, traditional style laptops for gamers could get more niche, and more expensive. The same will be true of traditional MacBook Pro.
A launch of the new MacBook Air models hinges on Intel’s Ivy Bridge platform availability so the reported ‘April’ launch could be well towards the end of April with devices being available in May although with Ultrabooks also lining up to use the platform, it will be interesting to see who get’s the first batch.
Apple now have a series of patents for the MacBook Air ‘ornamental design’ and we’re wondering just how much this could impact Ultrabook design in the future. When you see approvals for layouts such as the one below, you have to wonder!
Yes, you’re looking at a featureless rectangle that was approved two days ago as Patent US D654072.
The iPad 3 is expected to be unveiled by Apple in the next few months. I decided to sit down and come up with a little wish list of the iPad 3. This might be somewhat different from other lists that you see out there because I don’t actually own an iPad. In fact, I don’t own any tablet at all.
When the original iPad launched, I picked one up, and although I could appreciate the device, I found that I wasn’t using it as much as I would like (here’s my review). It simply didn’t fit into my daily routine. If I was out and about, my iPhone was a better tool for quick access to information and a more convenient on-the-go media player. If I was at home, my computer was a more productive tool for web-work and browsing. There wasn’t room for a third-device in my life. So, I ended up getting rid of it, and I haven’t been compelled to buy a new tablet (whether it be Android and iOS) since, despite testing a number of them.
So what would it take for me to pick up an iPad 3? Here’s a wish list for improvements and features that might tempt me into adding a third device:
Retina display (but not if it’s going to double the cost of the iPad 3)
Faster – You might think this should go in the obvious section, but what I’m talking about here is relative speed. Despite being much larger, the iPad 2 is roughly as powerful as the iPhone 4S. Presumably the iPad 3 will be as powerful as the iPhone 5. I’m hoping for an iPad 3 that makes use of all the extra space and really gives me a significant boost in processing capability over the current-gen iPhone model. If they have to bring down the battery life from 10 hours to 8 to achieve this, that’s fine with me.
4G LTE option – Again, this could fit someone’s definition of obvious, but the key here is the practicality of it. If this were a ‘wish list’ in the sense that I’m wishing for stuff that will never happen, then I may as well not bother. The question of 4G LTE in Apple devices one of battery life, competitive pressure, and coverage. Right now, 4G LTE radios drain batteries more rapidly than their 3G counterparts. In my opinion, this is why Apple has so far shied away from including 4G LTE in any of its products even while competitors have been doing so for quite some time. 4G LTE is also still in the rollout phase in the U.S.. As consumer demand and expectation of 4G LTE in products rises, 4G LTE radio efficiency continues to increase, and coverage as well. Apple is likely watching these three factors and will find the optimal intersection of them to launch 4G LTE in their products. Let’s also not forget that AT&T is now rolling out 4G LTE which means that two largest U.S. carriers now support the option. I do expect Apple to offer 4G LTE on the iPad 3, you can read more about that here.
NFC – Near Field Communications seems like one of those buzz-words that has been around for years but doesn’t actually mean anything. To the average consumer, it doesn’t mean anything at this point. I doubt most Nexus S owners know that their device even has the feature. However, if Apple was to release it’s next round of devices (including computers) with NFC hardware, it could really help the technology take off. Given the prevalence of iOS devices (here in the U.S.), NFC on all of them would be great for sharing photos and apps, transferring content back and forth from iPhone to iPad, and functioning as a digital Wallet of sorts.
Wireless Charging – People have been talking about this one for years, and that’s probably because the idea is really awesome. I would love nothing more than to have a bedside table with an inductive top, upon which I could set down an iPad 3 and have it charge without having to run any cords. The iPad is a good fit as a sofa surfer or bedside companion — having an inductive charger on your coffee table or next to your bed would be convenient, and would make the iPad 3 stand out front competitors. This sort of feature is easy to ‘wow’ customers that come into an Apple store (because it’s so simple) and that makes it an easy sell if Apple wants to charge extra for a wireless charging station.
More Ports – Sometimes Apple seems to let its aesthetic sense get in the way of adding truly useful stuff to its products. I mean, you can buy an SD card adapter for the existing iPad, but why not build a slot right in? The iPad is one of the best devices for sharing photos with friends and family on the couch (way better than having people crowd around a computer screen), and being able to load photos onto the iPad 3 through an SD card slot (without the adapter!) would save you from buying the $30 adapter and having to remember to carry it with you! A USB port would open up a lot of possibilities as well.
LED notification light – Speaking of aesthetic sense getting in the way of features — I really wish Apple would man-up and add a notification LED to the iPad 3 (and the iPhone for that matter). Having to click the home button and glance at the screen every time you are checking for notifications is a bother. I shouldn’t have to check my iPad 3 for notifications, the iPad 3 should tell me with a little light! Almost all of Apple’s competing devices have such a light, and Apple could easily hide it in the bezel so it would be unseen until needed.
7″ Model – Yes, I know it’s extremely unlikely that we’ll see a 7″ iPad 3, but it is possible (in the sense that it would be possible to fit the components into that form-factor). Though Steve Jobs railed against any tablets smaller than 10″, many pundits have expressed the desire for a 7″ iPad, and the 7″ Android tablet market is healthy. Our own Chippy swears by the 7″ form factor and in my own testing I’ve found it more versatile and relevant to my own work style than a 10″ tablet.
Built-in Stand – I always loved how Nokia included a built-in stand on their internet-tablet series of devices, and I’d love to see one on the iPad 3. This is unlikely for Apple given their extreme emphasis on aesthetics, but I know they could come up with a solution that is ‘sexy’ enough even to fit their standards. Their Smart Cover is clever, but I’d prefer something less intrusive and more rigid.
Non-aluminum Back – I’ve got a theory: Apple knows that aluminum scratches easily, and that’s exactly why they’ve used it on the back of many of their devices; an iPod Touch has a shiny mirror-like aluminum back when it’s brand new, after a year or two of good use, the back will be so scratched that it’s hardly a mirror any more. Even though the device still works just fine, the scuffed back makes the product feel like it’s old and outdated… wouldn’t a shiny new iPod Touch of the latest generation be a great solution to that problem? This is planned-aesthetic-obsolescence. So yeah, I that the back of the iPad 3 is not aluminum. When I owned the original iPad, I hated setting it down on a hard surface on its bare back because I knew it was prone to scratches (that’s one of the reasons I made the iPad Booksafe case). Even worse was when a friend would slide the iPad on its back across the table to get it closer to them. That scraping noise is the sound of nightmares when it’s coming from a > $499 gadget!
I could go on (coffee maker, fly swatter, teleporter, etc.), but I think I’ll be lucky if even one of the items on this list comes to be. The inclusion of any of them would make me more tempted to reevaluate the possible inclusion of a third device into my life. Maybe I’m just a hard sell. Sorry, Apple.
And for the rest of you, what’s on your iPad 3 wish list? Or are you like me and have no place for a third device in your life?