Epic Games Antitrust Case Against Apple Will Fail

Here is a video I made explaining why Epic Games recent federal court Antitrust case against Apple in the Northern District of California will fail. Check it out.

Here is what I state in the video.

Okay, so here’s the thing a couple of days ago, Epic Games sues Apple, and it seeks declaratory injunctive relief in federal court in the Northern District of California. And what my YouTube video is about is how this claim by Epic Games is not really an antitrust violation. There’s really no basis for this. And if you understand what antitrust is all about, you’ll see why this doesn’t make sense. 

Now, here’s the thing with antitrust. So antitrust is when a company has a monopoly in a market and it takes that monopoly in the market and uses that to destroy some other market or to destroy some other entity that is trying to compete. And that’s what antitrust is all about. This goes back to the Sherman act way back at the beginning of the 20th century. 

So Fortnite — that’s the game that Epic Games is famous for. So they released Fortnite which is the shoot ’em up game, multiplayer game and actually had it’s probably its greatest success on the iPhone. And what Epic Games is claiming is that it’s unfair for Apple to take 30% from selling the game in the App Store. So Epic Games is basically trying to get a court to say it’s illegal for Apple to charge 30% to any app that is being sold through the app store or 30% of the services. Also, what’s going on is Epic Games is trying to claim that Court should then tell Apple that they have to allow other stores to enter to sell apps on the iPhone. And they’re claiming that, you know, Apple has a monopoly over the iPhone. 

Okay, let’s think about this. What does that mean? First you have to establish what is the relevant market? And does a company have a monopoly power in a relevant market? Right, but the key is what is the relevant market? Right. And monopoly power historically had been, you got to be significantly over 50% usually 60%, 70%, 80% or maybe 90%,  dominating the market. Okay. 

So what are things that are typically monopoly power? Well, your local electricity company like the one where I live in New York City: Con Edison provides electricity. The relevant market for electricity is New York City because I can’t really buy electricity from California. That is because Con Edison owns the wire lines, and I have to get it through Con Edison in New York. Now, the government regulates Con Edison, because otherwise Con Edison could just raise the price a lot. And we don’t have any real choice. 

The fact that a company created a product doesn’t mean that it has a monopoly in the market. That wouldn’t make sense, right? Think about it. Does Nintendo have a monopoly power? Because it makes the Nintendo Switch or other Nintendo devices? No, because the market isn’t just Nintendo’s switch. Similarly, Microsoft doesn’t have a monopoly power because it has the Xbox because, you know, yes, it controls the Xbox. But the Xbox competes with other things. So Microsoft doesn’t have monopoly power over the relevant market. 

So you have to figure out what is the relevant market. And one way economists historically have tested monopoly power is to do an analysis of, could the monopolist significantly raise prices, and its customers couldn’t leave, there is no place to go. So for example, we need electricity, where we live in New York City. Now Con Ed, if it wasn’t regulated by the government, they could raise the power and maybe some people couldn’t afford it and would have to shut off the electricity. But a lot of people would have no choice and would have to pay much higher electricity. And there’s really no other product that they could get in New York City. We don’t have fireplaces for heating up and it’s not really practical to use candles for light That would be an entity that would clearly have monopoly power. 

Buried in Fortnite’s complaint against Apple — I’m reading it, it’s, well, it’s on the web, you can find it, I found it at unrealengine.com. But if you look in the complaint, a lot of it is how users don’t have choices. And it sort of puts down the quality of the App Store. Let me let me take some of the arguments one by one. Here’s the key thing. If you go to Section three, paragraphs 156 157 and 158. These are the paragraphs that are alleging that, you know, trying to convince the court why just the iPhone is the market.  The Complaint alleges this heading entitled Competition In The Sale of Mobile Devices Cannot Discipline Apple’s Conduct in the iOS distribution, or iOS in an app payment Process market. So basically, it’s saying Apple’s mobile device customers face substantial switching costs and iOS lock in. So that’s one argument that they make. The second argument is that Apple’s sticky iOS ecosystem protects its dominance in the sales of mobile devices. And then the third point they make is information costs and other market inefficiencies in iOS, iOS distribution iOS in that payment process market. 

So basically what they’re saying to the court is people who are iPhone users can’t switch can’t switch away from the iPhone can’t switch away from Apple’s devices, because they’re locked in and you know, they’re locked in because they have a lot of devices. They can’t switch. Now, I think this argument is ridiculous stretch and is kind of crazy. Okay, let’s take the situation with Fortnite. 

First of all, I think most people would agree Fortnite the game is played by kids, a lot of teenagers, young kids, maybe even under 10 a lot of teenagers and maybe young adults.  These kids are if they’re really passionate fortnight fans, they’re going to lobby their parents for an Android device. Now here’s the thing, Google kicked out Fortnite from the Google Store and Android, but Android allows you to side load apps and also Samsung has its own store and Fortnite is in the Samsung store. So, if you want to play Fortnite on a smartphone, you don’t have to stay with Apple, you can switch to Samsung phones and to other Android phones and get them on your device. This isn’t like the electric company, the electric company can raise the price a lot if its not regulated. There’s nowhere for me to go. 

If I really want to use Fortnite and it’s not offered on the App Store for Apple, I can switch to an Android device and Android devices can be very cheap. And I can use it that way. So even now their complaint goes on at length trying to make arguments about how that’s impossible. Let’s take the first argument Apple’s mobile device customers face substantial switching costs and iOS locking. This is what Fortnite’s attorneys, a major law firm, is trying to argue: 

So it’s Apple’s power and iOS app distribution market. And iOS in app payment processing markets is not constrained by competition in the sale of mobile devices, because Apple’s mobile device customers face high switching costs in are locked in to Apple’s ecosystem for at least six reasons. These costs make it more difficult for users to purchase a mobile device from a competitor after having committed to Apple’s mobile devices, thereby bolstering Apple’s market power. 

So they’re basically saying again, that it’s very high switching costs. Now, I don’t think that’s the case. Okay. First of all, most people anyways after a couple of years, or if not every year, are upgrading their smartphone. It’s ike in some ways these smartphones are accessible luxuries that even people who are economically challenged go for, as well as middle class and upper class people. I remember years ago, I used to stand in line for the Apple store, you know, when that was a thing here in New York City and across the country. And I gotta tell you, it seemed to me there are a lot of people who were economically challenged, who are waiting for the 500 or $600 or $700 iPhone, and for good reason, because these devices are an incredible Information and Communication deal for people. 

A lot of people who didn’t have a regular computer can afford a smartphone and particularly the iPhone. And even today, I think a lot of people upgrade every year or every other year or maybe every three years. But the thing is they have it’s not that expensive. The cell phone carriers are still doing these promotions where you get a free phone if you switch. So if you really wanted to switch, you could switch carriers and get a subsidized practically free Android or iPhone. T Mobile has these deals. So I’m not sure what switching costs now, in terms of the apps. 

Well, one of the things this complaint doesn’t point out, you know, and what’s interesting that complaint at some point tries to compare the iPhone to the Apple’s Macintosh. And you know, the current Macs and long history of Mac’s Apple has an app store but also Apple allows people to download programs for the Mac from, from the web, or from alternative stores. Epic Games is saying that’s the way it should be. But here’s the thing for consumers. Apple’s App Store on iOS, which is exclusive has been better for consumers. Then this open system on the Mac, and the open system that was on Windows PC. And the best evidence of that is, look how cheap the programs are on the iPhone, compared to programs on the Mac. Programs on the Mac are much more expensive. You typically pay $10, $20, $30, maybe even $100. Well, you know, on the on iPhone, the biggest complaint has been a sort of, you know, the prices of apps keep going down and down and down and down. And developers can’t really charge that much money for an app like you can’t really, you never see somebody selling an app really for 100 bucks or 50 bucks on the iPhone. Instead, there’s a lot of free apps or $5 apps or a $10 app. And maybe if there was a really great you know, professional app Like, like ferrite, you know, that people use to edit audio and podcasts, you know, that might be $15. But if anything, these apps are really cheap. And, you know, I don’t use Android devices. But my sense is that the Android counterparts to a lot of these apps are also cheap. And don’t cost much. So if I wanted to, you know, if I really wanted if I was really into gaming, and you know, Epic Games basically says in its complaint that it wants to create, like its own store, on iPhone and sell other apps directly to people. Well, let’s say if they couldn’t do that. And they did that on Android, and I really loved Epic Games. I could easily switch. And I think a lot of people could just buy another Android device. It’s not that expensive to to play these games. 

Let’s look at  Section B in the complaint where Fortnite alleges that: Apple sticky iOS echo system protects its dominance in the sales of mobile devices. This is kind of a rehash of the other one, but it says Apple’s ability to raise customer switching costs creates customer lock into its ecosystem. iOS ecosystem is reflected in Apple’s ability to maintain its dominance in the sale of premium smartphones as well as in the sale of tablets. First, Apple’s iPhone dominates sales of premium smartphones. In 2019 alone, Apple’s global iPhone sales generated more than $150 2 billion in revenues. And in the first quarter of 2020, Apple was able to capture 60% of global premium smartphone revenue. Okay, so then it goes on to say that Apple maintains substantial operating profits ranging from 62 to 90%. And it goes on to say Apple has also been able to maintain its pricing power over many years. It’s then it’s then it sort of segues into that. But to say the high switching costs are obvious from empirical evidence. According to 2017 survey by Morgan Stanley 92% of iPhone users intending to upgrade with the next year indicate they would stick to an iOS device. 

But wait a second, this evidence is not evidence of high switching costs. See, this logic doesn’t make sense. This is a survey that says a lot of iPhone users tend to stick to iOS devices and upgrade to a new one. And and then they’re arguing that’s a switching cost. It’s not a switching costs. People are happy with iOS devices. Apple makes a premium product. And the irony is the reason that Apple is making a premium product is because it curates the App Store and prevents crappy apps from coming in there. The curating prevents third party apps from over your device and hijacking it. Now what do I mean by that? Okay, now the Mac. And just like the PC for years was around before the iPhone, right? But the Mac just like the PC was susceptible to malware taking over your PC or Macintosh. 

And even recently, you know, my teenage daughter I gave her gave her and my son 13-inch MacBook Pros a couple years ago.  And my daughter, you know, who probably learned when she was younger how to use an iPhone before she used the Mac. She was clicking stuff on the internet with her MacBook Pro. And I’m telling you, malware got into her to her MacBook Pro, because she clicked on the wrong thing. And next thing you know, both browsers, both Chrome and Safari. were sort of hijacked by this fake Google thing that made it look like you were using Google. But you weren’t using Google, you were using some third party unrelated to Google hijacking your browser to think that it was using Google when it was using its own stupid malware.   

This argument in the complaint that because so many people want to stick to the iPhone, there’s high switching costs, there’s no basis to say people are sticking with the iPhone because they don’t have a choice. This is kind of a logical if you think about it, right? What they’re trying to argue is, people don’t want to stay with the iPhone, but they’re forced to stay with the iPhone. But how are they forced to stay with it? Apple’s coming out every year with expensive iPhones for a premium and people they’re not getting the deal. No one’s giving like if there was a subsidy, right? What if If you could like somehow, you know, turn in your iPhone and get a huge subsidy for the more expensive iPhone, that’s why you would stay for it. That would be cheaper than buying an Android. But that’s not the case.  

For iPhone users, they can now go to Android.  You could go out right now and get a much cheaper Android device that will do a lot of the basic stuff that an iPhone does, right? But a lot of people are finding that it benefits consumers to use an iPhone, right? And how does it benefit the consumer? it benefits the consumer because Apple is investing a lot of its profits into creating better processors. So you get a much more powerful processor for your bang for your buck with an iPhone than you do with an Android device. I mean, now that’s well documented. I don’t know if the average consumer knows that. But the other thing is Apple does a really good job with the camera but then look the Google does with its with its camera, the Google phones right that are androids. 

So what is it? I mean, the other thing that they don’t really talk about is great customer service. Apple has all these Apple stores, right? So you know, if you have a problem with your iPhone, you just go to a Genius Bar, and they take care of it. Android doesn’t have any genius bars. There’s no Google stores. There’s no Samsung stores, that you can just go in that that I know of, and solve that. So what is going on is that, to the extent people are sticking with the iPhone, it’s because there’s better customer service. And I’m telling you one of the better customer services, that Apple is curating the App Store. 

Now remember, Apple has kicked off a lot of things from the App Store. Apple has, there’s no pornography in the App Store. There’s no you know, crazy apps that are like for like Nazis or something like that. Or, you know, Holocaust denying apps or anything like that. Now on a Foogle device, you can’t get it through Google Store because Google stores is trying to do curating just like Apple’s trying to do. But Android is an open system. So you could side-load pornographic apps. But here’s the other thing, an Android phone is more susceptible to malware being installed into it, because it can be side loaded. And by side loading it you can get into the system. And so that is a risk. That’s why if you see a lot of a lot of businesses and enterprise and government are using iPhones instead of Android phones because of the security. 

So one of the reasons that the app store is closed is for that security and for that peace of mind. Take also an example customer service. Now remember a while back, Apple went to you know, allowing service by some games.  Games like Fortnite, frankly, you know, make more money by selling points or coins or, or something in the game. And we know, you know, many years ago, there were these horror stories of kids buying games in the app store, and racking up huge, huge fees that with their parents credit cards, buying gold coins or something stupid like that in games, people were upset and people reached out to Apple, and Apple is the one who refunded those monies and cracked down on that practice. 

Now, here’s the thing. Epic Games has its own store. Parents are going to have to rely on Epic Games to prevent that kind of abuse of children, where kids rack up and waste money on points on games. And, I mean, with me, I’m very strict with my kids in the sense that I don’t let them play games, where they’re gonna have to buy coins and wrap things up. Okay. 

And so you know what Epic Games wants it? So Epic Games wants to do two things: it wants to not have the 30% fee. But let’s go back to that. If Apple has doesn’t have monopoly power, it can do whatever it wants. If Apple doesn’t have monopoly power over smartphones, it can if it wanted to kick out everybody out of the App Store, Apple could decide. Remember, the original iPhone didn’t have an app store. It just had a few of Apple’s own apps. And Steve Jobs said, Oh, people can download from a website, make a website, be an app on the iPhone, and you can still do that you can save any website, you know, look like it’s an app, but it can it can’t do much other than what the website does, because it can’t go into everything that’s in the iPhone. 

If Apple doesn’t have monopoly power, it can do anything it wants. It doesn’t have to be fair to anybody. Apple can make deals and say okay, you know, Netflix is a big provider. I’ll give you a special deal. You guys are smart. All developers, they’ll give you a different now, people aren’t gonna like that maybe developers weren’t like that. And so for business reasons. Apple wants to be fair, but that’s for business reasons for you know, for the company. 

Now, if you remember companies before they’re a monopoly, the whole point is to compete with the competition. And Apple has lots of competition. Lots in the sense of Apple is competing with Amazon. Apple is competing with Microsoft. Apple is competing with Google and Apple is competing with Facebook. Okay. And Apple has a lot of other count competition. Spotify is competing with Apple. But let’s take these other big entities. These other big entities are worth over a trillion dollars, just like Apple is worth over a trillion dollars. Apple is in ferocious competition with them and Apple does not have dominant market share of the smartphone market. 

And here’s what I’ll point out to you. Okay, so a little while back when another app was trying to claim, you know, antitrust violations. I did an article on my blog, MacsFuture.com  Apple does not have monopoly power in the smartphone market. And that is the relevant market. There are charts. And so if you look at smartphone sales from the third quarter of 2007, through the fourth quarter of 2019, which is last year, you could see that Apple has anywhere from under 15% to a little over 20% of all smartphone sales, globally. Right. So I mean, the world is kind of integrated economically, and smartphone sales Apple is every year more than 23% in some quarters, it’s down below 15 or 12%. Obviously, its fourth quarter around Christmas time is the big one. 

Now in terms of worldwide smartphone shipments, market share forecast, Apple is listed as having less than 15%. And the rest is really dominated by Android. Android has 85% of the market in terms of mobile operating system market share. Apple has less than 20% of the market share. 

Now one thing that is true is in terms of profits made in the smartphone market. Apple, does have a majority of the profits, but that’s because it’s making premium phones and it’s making its own chip and It’s integrated. In other words, there’s no other company making its device, and also the operating system. I mean, Google is trying to do it. But in very small quantities, only a small quantity of the Android phones or pixel phones. And Google, I think, is outsourcing the actual manufacturing of the hardware. But Apple is making the hardware. It’s making the chips, it’s making the operating system and so it has more efficiencies in making these devices. 

And I think because of that, it’s garnering more profit. It’s the premium now, but is that the relevant market, that they have a majority of the hardware profits in the smartphone market? I don’t think that’s the relevant measure of market and think about it. Think about it from Epic Games perspective. Epic Games, wants to be able to get to as many customers as It can. But Apple only has 20% of all smartphones. If Apple kicks it out, they’re still 80% of the other smartphones, right that Epic Games can sell to. So Apple can shut out Epic Games from a majority of all smartphone users, because it only controls maybe 20% of all smartphone users. 

So then what’s the argument for Epic Games Epic Games? And I don’t think they’re arguing this in the complaint because they can’t, because they also sued Google. Right? But they can’t argue that the people who use iPhones are more likely to pay for games. And so that’s the more lucrative market and we’re being shut out of the more lucrative market. Well, I’m not sure for gaming if that’s true. I mean, I think there are a lot of gamers on Android. 

And so that’s not the relevant market. But then here’s the thing. It’s not just smartphones and for gaming, right? mean, Epic Games a little too cute by half here. But the gaming market isn’t just smartphones, right? A lot of people play Fortnite on the PlayStation, on the Sony PlayStation, the Microsoft’s Xbox, I think even maybe Nintendo Switch, the Mac, the PC, all these other devices are gaming platforms. Windows is a huge gaming platform. And I’m sure a lot of people play Fortnite on that. 

So when you factor that in, in the universe of gaming devices, Apple has only a teeny percent of installs. So can’t really shut out and dominate, right? Like if Apple was a monopolist truly in this market. For games, Apple would be able to dominate 80% of the market for games of the people playing in games and then shut out for it. Right, but it can’t. 

What this really is, is that Epic Games, which grew in Apple’s App Store, and is now making hundreds of millions of dollars, if not billions of dollars, is greedy, and doesn’t want to give Apple its cut of activity in the App Store. Now, regarding Apple’s app store, something like 80%, or 90% of the apps in the app store are free. And Apple’s doing all this backend work in terms of developing the technology for the developer tools like Xcode, and the API’s that come out every year that are revealed WWDC, lots of money is spent to do that. And for every game like Fortnite that makes money, Apple has all these free games that it’s supporting and those developers. Apple has an economic basis for charging 30%. 

And then the other thing is if you look at this 30% cut, it’s not high. You know, if you go to Walmart and try to sell some product through Walmart, Walmart, I’m sure Walmart’s taking a significant cut out of that. And I’m sure Amazon takes a cut out of products that you’re trying to sell through Amazon. And you know, if you want to go in if I want if somebody wants to release an app into into Nintendo store, sure Nintendo’s taking a cut, Microsoft is taking a cut. Everybody’s taking a cut.  So 30% is appropriate where Apple’s doing all the work in terms of collecting the money from users, providing the support is a reasonable fee. 

Look, I think when a court looks at this case, the first thing they’re going to do is look at whether or not what first they’re going to decide what is the relevant market and I just think that the arguments that Epic Games is making  — basically saying that the iPhone is itself a relevant market — are a big, big, big stretch. And I am going to follow this case, but I have a feeling that Apple is going to prevail on this. Apple may be worth close to $2 trillion. But it’s facing competition from other trillion dollar companies. And we’re not even talking about the Chinese companies that are out there that are worth, you know, maybe close to trillion dollars and are giants that are going to compete with the American companies. Apple’s a big company, but it still isn’t dominant in terms of market share. That’s why I think Epic Games is going to lose. We’ll have to see.

The HEY APP — Apple Is Not A Monopolist or Violating Antitrust

The latest rage among some developers on Twitter and the internet is to say that Apple is unfair for charging a 30% cut of selling apps or services through Apple iOS APP Store. Fine, it might be unfair, but sometimes business is unfair. But what really doesn’t make sense is that some developers are claiming that Apple is a “monopolist” and violating Antitrust Laws by charing 30% for app or services on the Apple iOS App Store. This makes no sense.

For example, this developer, Russell Ivonovic, said:

The issue is, Apple also makes the iPhone, and has mandated that there’s no other way to get software onto an iPhone except through their store. So what you have is the company which has a monopoly on installation of software on the iPhone, mandating that you use their store, and give them 30%. If you don’t like that deal, there’s no alternative available. It’s the definition of anti-competitive monopolistic behaviour: taking the market dominance you’ve created in one market, to give you an unfair advantage in another.

Rusty Rants

This logic makes no sense. It claims that because Apple makes the iPhone, and has an exclusive App Store for the iPhone, it is a monopolist and abusing monopoly power. By this logic, anyone who makes any device and any service that controls its device and service and limits what can go on that service is monopolizing its device and service and thus is a monopolist. By that definition, Nintendo is a monopolist because Apple, Google, and Microsoft and no one other than Nintendo can operate an App store for Nintendo devices. How about Walmart? By that logic isn’t Walmart a “monopolist” because Walmart controls what it sells in its stores? What if I want to sell a product in Walmart’s stores? Can I force Walmart to allow me to set up a stand in Walmart and sell it? No. That would be stupid.

It is well established in Antitrust Law that for a company to be deemed to have “monopoly” power, it must have more than 50% and closer to 80% and 90% in the relevant market. So there are two key things to properly define. First, what is the relevant market? And then what is that company’s market share in that relevant market.

Apple Does Not Have Monopoly Power In The Smartphone Market And That Is The Relevant Market.

What Rusty and other get wrong is that the relevant market is not iPhones in and by themselves. The relevant market is at the very least all smartphones, if not also all computing devices. Lets take the smartphone market. The smartphone market is dominated by two types of smartphones iPhones and Android Devices. These devices are so similar, that in the early days of Android, Apple engaged in major litigation with Samsung claiming that Samsung violating its patents on iPhones and iPhone designs so that customers couldn’t tell the difference between iPhones and Android. And if you go to websites and YouTube channels covering Androids, customers who are using Android smartphones claim Android smartphones are much better than iPhones.

So most customers would say the market between iPhones and Androids is very competitive. And in terms of market share, the data shows Android has a larger share of the market than Apple. In fact, data shows that Apple sold fewer than 30% of all the smartphones in recent quarters and years.

Statista

Rather than being dominant in the smartphone market, IDC’s data shows that the iPhone currently counts for only about 15% of all smartphones shipped worldwide and will fall to 13% in the coming years.

IDC

In terms of installed mobile operating systems world-wide, i.e. smartphones being used world-wide rather than ones just recently purchased, Apple has less than a 30% market share.

Statscounter

So with far less than 50% share in the smartphone market, there is no way any court can find Apple to have monopoly power in the smartphone market. And that makes sense. A monopolist is such that it can raise prices and customers have no choice but to pay the monopolist and can switch to another supplier . For example, ConEdison, the Electric Utility in New York City, is a monopolist in New York City. I have to purchase electricity through ConEdison. For that reason, the government regulates ConEdison’s prices. But Apple can’t raise the price of its iPhones and then require me to pay it. There are all those Android smartphones that my Android friends say are better than the iPhone. So if Apple raises the prices of its top new iPhone to $3000, I don’t have to purchase it. I can purchase the latest Samsung smartphone for $1500.

Apple Is Not A Monopolist Because Its IOS APP Store Is Better for Developers Than the Android App Stores.

Now Rusty Rants claims there is no other choice for developers than Apple’s App Store. But Rusty there is. You and other developers can make apps for the Android Store. It is a bigger market. There are man more Android customers than iPhone customers. Now those Android stores are not as lucrative. But that is because Apple made a better app store. And it is a better app store than the market for Apps on the Android smartphones, because Apple curates the iOS App Store to make sure there isn’t malware and other terrible apps on the app store. It is not a perfect, but many customers like it because Apple keeps iOS devices safe and not destroyed by malware.

Apple’s App store is more lucrative than the Android app market, because Apple’s exclusivity has made it a better store. Ironically, the very thing that some developers want to do, open up iPhones to have additional app store, or allow side loading, is the very thing that will destroy the quality of the iPhone experience and cheapen the quality of the iOS App store.

Developers who complain: “Cry my a river.” You don’t have to develop for iPhones, or smartphones. There are various other devices that you can develop for, like the Web, and Web apps, like plug-ins for WordPress, like apps for linux devices like Raspberry Pis.
You can develop for PCs and Macs. There are enterprise developers. The market for developers services is incredibly large and iOS developers are only a tiny slice of the developer market.

These complaints of Antitrust violations are ridiculous.

Christmas In The Summer – 2020 WWDC

Christmas In The Summer – 2020 WWDC

We are just a day away from the virtual WWDC starting on June 22, 2020. This is Apple’s annual developers conference that usually takes place in the first week of June each year. But this year it is going to be only online and starting later in June.

Its always felt like Christmas in the summer. When I was a kid, Christmas was a time of surprise and new toys being given to me. For many years now, WWDC has been the same thing. A time of surprise and new toys being available. The difference is the new toys are new software technology and new hardware technology.

When Steve Jobs was alive, he ruled over WWDC. He ran the show on the main keynote speech that always takes place on Monday the first day at 10 am Pacific time. He was like the magic Uncle in the Nutcracker bringing magical toys to the children. He captivated us with his showmanship. Gather closely and I will pull something from my pocket which will dazzle you. Steve died on October 5, 2011. And his successors, led by Tim Cook try to continue with that summer time magic in WWDC.

I look forward to Monday, June 22, 2020 and the coming WWDC keynote. There are rumors and leaks of what is to come. I welcome the rumors and leaks. They provide hope of new and interesting things. At this time of difficulty in our country and world, we need the magic and positive excitement of WWDC.

Here are things that I am looking forward to:

New iMacs

The rumors are that Apple will announce new iMacs and release them at WWCD. They key part of that rumor is that Apple has finally redesigned the iMacs. As you may know, for about 8 years or so, Apple has not changed the design language of the iMacs. The rumor is that Apple has actually created a new design and its like the style of the latest iPad Pros and the expensive XDR monitor that Apple released in 2019 along with the new Mac pro. My 2020 iMac finally died earlier this year so I have been looking to get new Mac. I have been lusting after the Mac Pro but the price of that along with a monitor is fiscally irresponsible for me to pursue. A new iMac with a fantastic screen makes more financial sense. So if new ones come out, I will probably pull the trigger and get one.

Transition of Macs to Apple’s Own Processors

Apple is expected to announce to developers that it is transitioning the Macs away from using Intel’s processors to using Apple’s own ARM processors that Apple has developed and uses in its iOS devices. I am all for this. I remember in the mid-2000s, about 16 years ago, when Apple switched from RISC processors to Intel processors for its Macs. It was a big deal back then. The Intel processors were faster and better performers. Through out the 1990s and early 2000s, one knock about the Macs was that they weren’t as powerful as the Intel-based PCS. Also, back then, software was such, that there was less software to use on Macs because the software on Intel-based PCs couldn’t run on Macs without a virtualization software also being run. It was a miserable experience running Windows software on those non-Intel Macs. But then Apple switched to Intel. And Apple created the Bootcamp software so you could boot the Intel Macs as a Windows computer. It was a big deal and made the Macs more useful.

So why am I looking forward to ARM-based Macs? Because Apple has shown it is an amazing processor maker. Its processors for the iPhones and iPads are amazing. I am writing this on a 2020 iPad Pro and the power of this device is amazing. Every year Apple comes out with newer processors that greatly increase performance from the prior year. Apple optimizes its software with its processors to make them more efficient. Intel meanwhile has been lagging and rapidly going down hill as a processor company. It has let AMD lead the market in high end processors for PCs. Intel missed the boat in developing processors for smart phones. Apple and Qualcomm make all the processors for smart phones. Apple creating Macs based on its own processors will result in super powerful Macs that will eventually dwarf Intel-based PCs. I don’t think the new iMacs that will be announced next week will be running Apple processors, at least not the main workhorse processors. But it looks like Apple will announce the transition to developers. Most likely, the first ARM-based Macs will be the lightest MacBooks. Then Apple will migrate developing its own processors up to the Mac Pro. Apple just released last year the Mac Pro so it wouldn’t make sense to change that Apple-processors right away. No one who purchased $6k to $50k for a Mac Pro prior to WWCD wants to feel like their Mac Pro is obsolete. My guess is that Apple’s transition to all ARM-based Macs will take at least 3 years. The Mac Pros will be the last computers that Apple upgrades to Apple processors.

New IOS and Mac OS

One thing for certain, Apple will announce new features to the operating systems for iOS devices and Macs. That has been the case at each WWDC I can remember. What are some of the features I am expecting and hoping for?

Better Multitasking. Apple has made iPad OS much more useful for power users who are using the iPad as their main or only computing device. In particular, multi-tasking and access to files has greatly improved. We can bring up at least two Apps side by side and quickly get access to other Apps. We can quickly share data and files among apps through the Sharesheet, the Files App and Shortcut actions. I expect Apple will go further in that direction with more multi-tasking features in both the iPad OS as well as iOS for the iPhone. Apple may bring up some of the features on the iPad OS to iOS. Apple may allow its larger iPhones to run Apps side by side like on the iPad. I expect that Apple will increase the amount of Apps you can bring up side by side on the iPad and also make it more elegant when you do so.

Shortcuts App I think the Shortcuts app and its integration into iOS and iPadOS is one of the most amazing and powerful features on iPhones and iPads. I believe Apple will make that program and system integration more powerful. Among the things I would like to see:

  1. Allow Shortcuts to be organized into folders.
  2. Allow all shortcuts to be run and executed in the background.
  3. Improve the scripting actions to make it easer to create if and then actions and make it more intuitive.
  4. Add more actions tied into the system. For example, there is a built-in password manager in iOS which works when you log into accounts on the browser and apps. Tie that to Shortcuts.

SpringBoard Redesign

I desperately want Apple to redo the springboard on iOS. One huge problem with iOS is when you have many apps on the iPhone or iPad, its hard to organize them and move them around. In addition, if you have many apps on your device, its hard to find what page they are if you want to move them around. I would like Apple to make it much easier. For example, I wouldn’t mind when you edit a folder on the springboard, you can click somewhere and get a list of all the apps on your device and pick which apps you want to move into that folder. Similarly, I would like to click on the springboard anywhere or in the Control Center and see a list of all my apps and I can delete the apps. Or if I pick the apps on the list, I can chose to create a folder with them or move them to a list of folders. This needs to be fixed. Please please Apple fix this!

Airtags

There have been rumors for more than one year that Apple is developing Airtags. These would be cheap plastic tags that you can attach to anything and then you will be able to find them using your iPhone or Apple Watch. The key technology is that Apple will crowd source all the iPhones that people own to help you find where your lost Airtag is located. The idea would be that if I lost my Airtag, even if my iPhone was out of bluetooth or other wireless range from the Airtag, another person’s iPhone that went by the Airtag that I lost will tell Apple where my Airtag is and then Apple will automatically tell me where my Airtag is. I guess some people will worry about privacy because one’s iPhone could be used to help someone else find their lost Airtag. But Apple could do this while keeping any data about people’s Apple’s data or information. A number of years ago I tried a third-parties tag products which also tried to do this. But the product wasn’t that good. The tags were expensive, the batteries didn’t last too long, and the tags were too big and heavy. Significantly, the ability to find the tags was based on how many people but that tag. That is because that third-party didn’t control everyone’s iPhone or devices. It only controlled those devices where the owner purchased their tag. Here, Apple could use all the iPhones that are out there, regardless of whether the people purchased an Airtag, to help find lost Airtags.

Carkey

Apple is supposedly going to work to have the iPhone be able to replace your carkey. This makes sense. Just like Apple has worked to replace subway cards so you can use your iPhone to get an on a public bus or subway, Apple is working on making your iPhone be your car key. More and more Apple will make your iPhone be the control for everything you do. Apple Wallet and ApplePay is replacing my physical credit cards. Many buildings allow you to use NFC on your iPhone to get into your dorm or office. Soon governments will realize that your credentials, like passports and drivers license should be in Apple Wallet and be digital. Carkey technology will just be another thing that you don’t have to carry and have on your iPhone.

Augmented Reality Technology and Apps

Hey, my 2020 iPad Pro has lidar sensors in it. Apple should release more augmented reality apps to work with it. They should also release more AR technology in the iOS and Mac system. Bring it on. Very soon, they will release AR Glasses so let the customers get used to it.

These are just some of the things I hope they release on Monday. I am sure some will not be announced, some will be announced, and hopefully some which I never thought of will be announced and surprised me.

Shortcut Your Life

One of my favorite Apps, is Apple’s Shortcuts App. If you don’t know anything about it, Apple’s Shortcuts app allows you to automate things you do with your iPhone or iPad. It is a way for anyone to learn how to be a developer as it shows you how to think like a developer. I have a many shortcuts on my iPhone and iPad. I plan to create a page where I write up how to use Shortcuts and what you can do with it. I plan to create a subscription newsletter. Among the things I do with Apple Shortcuts is:

  1. Quickly get the password for certain important things.
  2. Put the lights on and off in various rooms using verbal commands.
  3. Having the tv put on and have Apple TV’s Youtube TV to come out and have my virtual remote ready. And then quickly shut things down when I don’t need to watch TV.

The amount of things you can come up with with Apple Shortcuts is almost endless. And Apple Shortcuts is very powerful as you can put various development language to make really powerful and complex Shortcuts.

This is not my day job. I am not a professional technology person. Rather, I am an everyday person who likes technology. So if I can learn this, you can to. It is easy and powerful once you pursue learning Apple Shortcuts.

Here is where the sign up will be if you are interested:

My goal is to write many articles and videos showing how you can use Apple Shortcuts to make your life and work easier. I believe Apple will eventually have Apple Shortcuts on the Macintosh. In particular, as many business use iPhones and iPads for their employees, Apple Shortcuts will help businesses by more efficient. So sign up, and you will get newsletters on the word of Apple Shortcuts.

Thanks, Lex.

Apple Glass, LIDAR, GPS Inaccuracy and the Holy Grail of Location and Mapping Accuracy!

In the Graduate movie, a young Dustin Hoffman is playing a recent college graduate who doesn’t know what to do with his life. Some jerky older adult pulls Benjamin (Hoffman’s character) aside to tell him “one word, Plastics, there is a great future in Plastics.” Well it looks like this year, the great future is in LIDAR. One word, LIDAR. Hear me out.

Prosser’s Apple Glass Leak

As I mentioned in a recent post, the YouTuber, Jon Prosser, recently leaked from an Apple employee that Apple is working on releasing glasses next year. Prosser claims he has seen the glasses Apple is making and claims that the product will cost $499 (without prescription lenses), it will be called Apple Glass, Apple Glass1 looks like regular glasses, and Apple Glass will have LIDAR technology but no cameras. It’s the last part that I will address. Why would Apple not put cameras in Apple Glass? And is LIDAR technology enough for the Apple Glasses to make customers really want to purchase that product?

First, why won’t there be cameras in Apple Glass? Prosser suggested that there would be no cameras because people freaked out when Google Glasses had cameras in it. I think that makes sense. Apple doesn’t want people to be afraid to wear Apple Glass. Apple wants to make it easy for every day people to purchase the glasses. Apple also has been telling everyone that they respect the privacy for consumers. If cameras were on Apple Glass, people would be afraid that whoever is wearing Apple Glass is video recording what they see.

A number of years ago, I purchased Snap’s glasses, Spectacles. You can see the video I made here. They were fun to wear but the glasses were big and people could see the camera on one side of the glasses. When you were having the glasses take pictures or recording video, a light would go off on the side of the glasses letting people know you are recording them. I wore then for a while, but I felt I looked kind of silly wearing them and I have stopped using them.

So one reason Apple might not put cameras on the Apple Glass is that people might be afraid to wear them if everyone knew they had cameras on it. That makes sense.

Another reason to not use cameras on the Apple Glass is that cameras, that are always working or on a lot, could eat up the battery of the Apple Glasses. Prosser says the Apple Glass will be connected with the iPhone to work. So probably it will wirelessly connect with Bluetooth or some other wireless technology like the W1 chip. So that wireless connection itself will eat up some of the battery on the Apple Glass. And if Apple Glass look normal like regular glasses, well there won’t be much room for batteries on Apple Glass. So to save battery energy, maybe that is why Apple will not use cameras on the Apple Glass.

LIDAR

But how could Apple Glass be a great technology if they don’t have cameras? The answer is LIDAR, which Prosser mentioned is on the Apple Glass. He also pointed out that Apple put LIDAR on the latest iPad Pro so Apple could test out LIDAR before Apple Glass comes out. I think that makes sense. But how could LIDAR make Apple Glass be great new technology.

First, what is LIDAR? Here was what Velodyne a major manufacturer of LIDOR sensors and technology describes it as:

Lidar is an acronym for “light detection and ranging.” It is sometimes called “laser scanning” or “3D scanning.” The technology uses eye-safe laser beams to create a 3D representation of the surveyed environment. Lidar is used in many industries, including automotive, trucking, UAV/drones, industrial, mapping, and others.

Velodyne goes on to explain how LIDAR works:

A typical lidar sensor emits pulsed light waves from a laser into the environment. These pulses bounce off surrounding objects and return to the sensor. The sensor uses the time it took for each pulse to return to the sensor to calculate the distance it traveled. Repeating this process millions of times per second creates a real-time 3D map of the environment. An onboard computer can utilize this 3D map of the surrounding environment for navigation.

LIDAR has been around for a long time in automobile technology for autonomous cars to “see” as The Verge pointed out in an article right after the Consumer Electronic Show this past January. That technology, as the Verge pointed out, has been very expensive, but now that technology is becoming much cheaper.

So cheap, in fact, that the companies leading the pack now predict LIDAR will become as commonplace in mass-market vehicles as cameras, radar, and other low-cost safety technology.

(The Verge).

So why would Apple want to put pulsed lasers rather than cameras in Apple Glass? Or not both? As Velodyne explained, LIDAR has an advantage over cameras for mapping out what is around you because it immediately creates a 3D map while cameras create a 2D map that then the computer has to figure to make it 3D.

Cameras produce 2D images of the environment and companies are installing them around vehicles to use for navigation. However, there are serious problems with the accuracy of proposed camera-centric systems which have not been solved and will likely not be solved soon.

Lidar “sees” in 3D, a huge advantage when accuracy and precision is paramount. The laser-based technology produces real-time high-resolution 3D maps, or point clouds, of the surroundings, demonstrating a level of distance accuracy that is unmatched by cameras, even ones with stereo vision. Whereas cameras have to make assumptions about an object’s distance, lidar produces and provides exact measurements. For this reason, autonomous or highly automated systems require lidar for safe navigation. The ability to “see” in 3D can’t be underestimated. Lidar produces billions of data points at nearly the speed of light. Each point provides a precise measurement of the environment. Compared to camera systems, lidar’s ability to “see” by way of precise mathematical measurements, decreases the chance of feeding false information from the vision systems to the car’s computer.

(Velodyne).

So LIDAR appears to be more efficient than cameras at mapping the world. Maybe also LIDAR may use up less energy than having cameras open all the time. Also it looks like when you use cameras you will need more processor power to determine what the camera is seeing.

Now the LIDAR Apple puts into Apple Glass may be similar to the LIDAR sensor that Apple put into the newest iPad Pro. This is how Apple discussed its LIDAR technology in its March 18, 2020 Press Release when it announced the newest iPad Pros:

Breakthrough LiDAR Scanner

The breakthrough LiDAR Scanner enables capabilities never before possible on any mobile device. The LiDAR Scanner measures the distance to surrounding objects up to 5 meters away, works both indoors and outdoors, and operates at the photon level at nano-second speeds. New depth frameworks in iPadOS combine depth points measured by the LiDAR Scanner, data from both cameras and motion sensors, and is enhanced by computer vision algorithms on the A12Z Bionic for a more detailed understanding of a scene. The tight integration of these elements enables a whole new class of AR experiences on iPad Pro.

So you figure Apple will use LIDOR sensors in Apple Glass that are as good as the LIDOR sensor in the iPad Pro. So that means the LIDAR will be able to see anything in front of you that is at least within 5 meters, which is just short of 16 and 1/2 feet. So what could Apple do with 16 and 1/2 feet of LIDOR data for Apple Glass?

Some Ideas of What Apple Could Do!

What if Apple used the map and GPS data that the iPhone has together with the LIDAR data from the Apple Glass? Let’s think about this. Your Apple Glass maps out what is in front of you for 16.5 feet in front of you and sends it quickly to the iPhone. Your iPhone knows where you are because of GPS, Bluetooth Data and Wifi connections. Now Apple has been spending many of the last few years catching up to Google Map by sending cars mapping cities and towns in the U.S.A. and around the world. That is why in Apple Maps you can drill down on the map in the city your are and see 3D renders of buildings and monuments. So when the LIDAR data comes back to the iPhone, the iPhone can quickly connect it to the data from the GPS and Apple Maps and match up the LIDAR data. So even though you don’t have a camera, the pictures and virtual 3D pictures of the buildings on Apple Maps could be sent to your Apple Glass and matched up with the scan of your LIDAR data. That means your Apple Glass and your iPhone which is connected to it will know exactly what you are looking at through your Apple Glasses and it will be able to label it quickly for you. So you will able to look at a building or a a neighborhood and Apple will know exactly where you are and what you are looking towards and map out in front of you.

This LIDAR information is really helpful for Apple because currently, GPS data is not very accurate.2 Significantly, the current state of GPS data, according to the United States Government, is accurate to 16 feet. That is just short of the range of the LIDAR sensor on the iPad. The LIDAR data could fill in the 16 feet of inaccuracy from the GPS data. So the LIDAR data married with the GPS data will help Apple pinpoint exactly where you are standing and where you are looking. Apple will then put Augmented Reality (AR) data on your Glass as you are looking.

Right now, if Apple just used GPS data, the accuracy of what you see would be really messy. But with LIDAR data being sent back to the iPhone and matched with GPS data, Apple will have much better accuracy regarding where you are. Apple couldn’t do this with out first mapping out cities and towns on its own. Apple now has data regarding where buildings and structures are located. With LIDAR and other location data, Apple will be closer to the holy grail of location accuracy.

What does this mean? When I am driving and wearing my Apple Glass, I will be able to get map data on my Apple Glass rather than what I currently do, i.e. either look at my Apple Watch for prompts or look at the iPhone next to me. With Apple Glass, Apple Map data will be right in front of my eyes. I will look ahead. Data will come on telling me which way the route is going and where I have to take turns.

Similarly, using Apple Maps when you are walking and following directions is a pain. You have to look down at your phone or Apple Watch. And because the GPS isn’t very accurate, the map is often not lined up with the direction I am looking at. With Apple Glass, Apple Map will be more accurate and very convenient. The LIDAR data from Apple Glass will tell exactly Apple Maps where I am looking and the map data will be shown on my Apple Glass screen. Walking directions now will be incredibly easy.

With Apple Maps supercharged and showing on you Apple Glass, developers will make great apps using the map data combined with the LIDAR data. Someone can make a walking tour app for tourists on Apple Glass. When you look at certain landmarks, information can be showed on your Apple Glass or a video or audio played.

As found by Josh Constine in leaked iOS 14 files and building on what Benjamin May at 9to5Mac reported in March 2020, Apple is working on using Apple branded QR codes to work with AR. Longtime tech maven, and the guy who first wore Google Glasses in a shower, recently extolled how important Apple’s AR glasses with QR code will be. Scoble believes that that Apple’s QR code will allow people to use Apple Pay by just looking at the QR code and telling Siri it is ok to pay it. Scoble points out that Apple will further know your location to match up with the store and Apple Pay because they know exactly where they put the QR code for the store. His post is on LinkedIn here. What is interesting about Apple’s QR codes working with LIDAR is that LIDAR is not a camera but Apple figured out how to crate QR codes that LIDAR could read using software.

The Last Frontier of Mapping

But I think Apple will use Apple Glass for something even greater — one of the last frontiers that hasn’t been mapped? What is that? Is it Antarctica? Is it deep oceans? No, it is your local gigantic box store, like Costco or Home Depot. GPS can only map what is outdoors and generally tell you roughly where you might be in a building. But Apple Maps doesn’t not have mapping information for large buildings. Now Apple previously tried to use technology to map the great indoors. Way back at the Developers Conference in 2013, Apple launched the iBeacon protocol which uses small Bluetooth beacons that will work with iPhone. I played around with such iBeacons and they were cheap, like $10 each. You could plug them into the wall in a building and when you walked by with an iPhone that had an app that worked with it, the iBeacon could send you a message on your screen. And presumably, if Apple knew where the iBeacons were placed, it could map your location in doors. But that technology never really took off. It didn’t work well with the iPhone. For it to generally work, stores had to put the iBeacons around and map the location of each. Then for it to work, the store’s app had to be used by the customer and work well with the data from the store.3

What I want as a consumer, and which iBeacons failed to deliver, is walk into my local large Home Depot Store and when I tell my iPhone to get me a certain screw, the iPhone takes me directly to the hallway and exactly where the screw I need is located. Finding products in stores without having to search for help and look at a bad map in the store is want I want Apple to solve.

Apple Glass with LIDAR data could solve this problem. A developer working with Home Depot or other stores could use Apple Glass to quickly LIDAR map the store. Then the Home Depot app would have an exact map of each store. And when someone came in the store with Apple Glass, the Home Depo app would know exactly where in the store the customer was located based on the LIDAR data it was getting. The Home Depot app would then guide the customer exactly to where the product is.

More importantly, Apple could use the LIDAR data from customers who walk into stores to map each store. Already, Apple is using Siri data from customers, although anonymously so it doesn’t know the name of each customer, to improve Siri. Apple is crowdsourcing Siri data from its millions of customers to improve Siri. Apple could do the same with the LIDAR data that customers wearing Apple Glass are collecing when they walk into stores. What if Apple married the LIDAR data with the Apple Pay data when Apple customers purchase products in large stores and malls? Apple probably knows exactly what terminal in a store you used Apple Pay. Although the stores don’t know your name and ID, Apple probably knows where the Apple Pay transaction occurred. Apple could marry that location data with the LIDAR data to map indoor stores and malls.

Don’t Forget the U1 Chip!

There is more that Apple could marry up with the LIDOR Data. Apple has a U1 Chip. Remember, back last year, Apple put a U1 Chip in the iPhone 11 Pro. Back in September 2019, longtime Apple journalist Jason Snell was so impressed by the U1 chip and its potential, he penned an article entitled: The U1 Chip In The iPhone 11 Is The Beginning of an Ultra Wideband revolution. Snell pointed out Apple only released this nugget of information about the U1 chip on its website:

The new Apple‑designed U1 chip uses Ultra Wideband technology for spatial awareness — allowing iPhone 11 Pro to understand its precise location relative to other nearby U1‑equipped Apple devices. It’s like adding another sense to iPhone, and it’s going to lead to amazing new capabilities.

It looks like for now the U1 chip is used for making AirDrop transfers and maybe the Apple Tags which hasn’t been released. The U1 chip is low powered and can pinpoint other U1 chips.

Snell explained its potential after interviewing an industry person familiar with the technology:

But the possible applications of UWB go way beyond AirDrop and tracking tags. Decawave’s Viot says potential applications include smart home tech, augmented reality, mobile payments, the aforementioned keyless car entry, and even indoor navigation. (And it’s not a power hog, either—Viot says that Decawave’s latest UWB chip uses one-third of the power of a Bluetooth LE chip when in beacon mode, as a tracking tile would be.)

(SixColors).

So think about what this means? Apple is rolling out the U1 chip roughly at the same time it is rolling out the LIDRO technology.4 Apple could have both technologies working together. For example, eventually if all the Apple devices have the U1 chip, Apple could use the location of the devices together with the LIDAR data. So if you lose your device in a mall, Apple could pinpoint for you exactly where that device is.

Conclusion

Developing new sensors, it looks like Apple is very serious with AR and mapping indoors with LIDOR technology. Apple getting in the LIDOR game is very serious. Remember, there have been rumors for many years that Apple is working building a car — Project Titan. (See MacRumors). LIDOR has been used for building an autonomous car.
Who knows what new products and services Apple will bring to the market in the coming years. What ever they do will push us forward into the future.


  1. I refer to it as Apple Glass without “the” in front of it because that is Apple’s naming convention for products. For example, Apple always refers to “iPhone,” not “the iPhone”. ↩︎
  2. In addition to GPS, Apple’s latest iPhone also has GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System)technology. GNSS is an umbrella over all the satellite location technology. GPS relies on the old United States Department of Defense satellites. But other countries and Europe are creating new location technology location using new satellites. Europe’s Galileo is precise to 1 meter, roughly three feet, much more precise than GPS. So eventually satellite location for iPhones and other devices will be more precise than GPS. ↩︎
  3. Apple hasn’t abandoned iBeacon technology and still touts it in the technology specifications for the iPhone and iPad devices. It refers to it as “iBeacon microlocation.” ↩︎
  4. Now interestingly, it doesn’t look like the latest iPad Pros released this spring have the U1 Chip. (See AppleInsider — speculating that because of supply issues or the iPad Pro doesn’t have the latest processor, that is why the iPad Pros do not have the U1 chip). ↩︎

iPad Pro or MacBook Air For My Friend? Which To Get?

I have a really good and close friend who is not a tech geek like I am. Recently, his 2012 13-inch MacBook Pro broke down. I told him it was time he should get a new device. I suggested he get either an iPad Pro or a MacBook Air. I gave him the pros and cons of both devices: on one hand the 12.9-inch iPad Pro and on the other hand either the 13-inch MacBook Air.

Now mind you my friend didn’t do much with his prior 13-inch MacBook Pro. He is a writer. So the most he did with his MacBook Pro is write. He also used the mail app to send and receive emails. He also used the Safari and Chrome browsers to go on the internet. But that was about all he did with it. He didn’t have photos on that MacBook Pro. He never edited videos. As for sending messages or texts? He sent and received messages and texts on his iPhone, not on his MacBook Pro. He did watch videos on the MacBook Pro on the internet. And also listed to some music from the internet. He doesn’t have a tv, so his only movies or audios were on the MacBook Pro.

In the end, he went with a 13-inch MacBook Air. He is very happy with his purchase. It is a great upgrade from his 2012 MacBook Pro. But I think he made a mistake. I believe he should have purchased instead the 12.9-inch iPad Pro. Here is why:

Technology-wise, he gets much more technology from an iPad Pro than a MacBook Air.

Cameras. The iPad Pro has much better camera than the MacBook Pro and it has it on the front facing you and also on the back. The MacBook Air has a 720p FaceTime camera. The iPad Pro’s TrueDepth Camera, which is on the side with the screen, has an 1080p camera that shoots 7mp photos. In addition, it has two great camera lenses on the back that can shoot 4k video and photos at 12mp and 10mp. Now why should he care about these differences? Well, during the shutdown, like all of his, he is making many Zoom video calls with people. And if you have a better camera for the calls, then the Zoom or video calls you make are better. So right there for that reason the iPad Pro would be better for him than the MacBook Pro. But the cameras on the back are also better for him. He doesn’t take many pictures and he has an iPhone. But the cameras on the back would allow him to do more things with his iPad Pro than the MacBook Air. For one, he could scan documents with the iPad. You can’t scan papers with the MacBook Pro unless you have a good scanner connected to it. A good scanner can cost an additional $500. I do all my scanning now with my iPhone 11 Pro or my old iPad Pro.

Also, the cameras on the back have new technology for the iPad Pro. They have LIDAR sensors. Here is what the National Oceanic Service describes LIDAR as:

Lidar, which stands for Light Detection and Ranging, is a remote sensing method that uses light in the form of a pulsed laser to measure ranges (variable distances) to the Earth. These light pulses—combined with other data recorded by the airborne system— generate precise, three-dimensional information about the shape of the Earth and its surface characteristics.

A lidar instrument principally consists of a laser, a scanner, and a specialized GPS receiver. Airplanes and helicopters are the most commonly used platforms for acquiring lidar data over broad areas. Two types of lidar are topographic and bathymetric. Topographic lidar typically uses a near-infrared laser to map the land, while bathymetric lidar uses water-penetrating green light to also measure seafloor and riverbed elevations.

No my friend isn’t going to be interested in LIDAR technology because he doesn’t know how it it will help him. But the thing is he will probably keep his new device for at least 7 years. And clearly Apple plans to do something with LIDAR on the iPad and also third-party developers will create programs that use LIDAR. Right now, without LIDAR, my iPhone 11 Pro has a measurement app which allows me to measure stuff with the iPhone. With LIDAR, the measurement app will work even better. By purchasing the MacBook Air rather than the iPad Pro, my friend is missing out on all the possible apps that could use LIDAR.

In addition to LIDAR, the iPad Pro has other sensors that the MacBook Pro doesn’t have. It has a Three-axis gyro, an Accelerometer and a Barometer. Plus it has FaceID security rather than a fingerprint security. The MacBook Air does not have these sensors.

Screens. How about the screen? The iPad Pro’s screen is superior to the MacBook Air’s screen. The 12.9 inch iPad Pro has 2732-by-2048-pixel resolution at 264 pixels per inch (PPI). The Macbook Air is 2560-by-1600 native resolution at 227 pixels per inch.

Weight. The 12.9-inch iPad Pro is lighter than the 13-inch MacBook Air as it weighs 643 grams while the MacBook Air weighs 1.29kg (or 1290 grams). But if you get the Magic Keyboard for the iPad Pro that combined weight will be about the same as the MacBook Air. But the point is you can have the iPad Pro naked with no cover and you can easily read it in your bed or sofa or when you are on a public transportation because its so light.

Power. The MacBook Air got a single-core Geekbench score of 1110 and multi-core score of 2862. The newer iPad Pros got Geekbench scores of 1118 single core and 4704 for multi-score. So the iPad is more powerful in multi-core processing.

Other Differences. There are a couple of other things that are different between the iPad Pros and and all the Mac.

  • First, the iPad Pro you can get with a cellphone antenna if you pay extra. You can’t get that with any Macintosh. So with the iPad Pro if you have a cellphone antenna, you can always connect to the internet even if you you are not at home and don’t have a connection to a wifi that is connected to the internet.
  • Second, the iPad Pro has access to many more apps and programs in the iOS App Store than what the Macs have access to in the Mac App Store. In addition, the iPad apps are generally cheaper than the programs for the Macs.
  • Third, and the most obvious, the iPad screen has touch on it so you can navigate the screen using your finger. This is a big deal because some apps are better to use by using your finger than using a mouse, trackpad and keyboard. Say you are watching a video. Isn’t it better to hold the iPad Pro and use your finger to start the video or to swipe around for other videos? Same with looking a photos. Isn’t touch better for looking at them? I think so.
  • Fourth, the iPad Pro can work with the latest Apple Pencil. My friend writes. Sometimes you want to write with a pencil and take notes. With the Macintosh you don’t have a choice. The screen on the Macintosh doesn’t have touch screen or the ability to use a pencil. With the iPad Pro you have a choice, touch, keyboard, trackpad, mouse or pencil. Actually also voice control. The Mac has voice control but I don’t think it is as useful or as ingrained in the system as voice control on iOS devices.
  • Fifth, the Mac has some major advantages but mainly for pros. For example, on the Mac you can use Xcode to create apps for the iPhone, iPad, Macs, Apple TV and Apple Watch. On the iPad Pro you can’t do that. But my friend is not a developer so he should not care about that. The Mac lets you put apps that don’t come from the Apple App Store. That is a big deal for a power user like myself. For example, I have long used the Audio Hijack program from Rogue Amoeba, which allows you to record any audio that comes through your Macintosh. There is nothing like that on iOS as Apple doesn’t let third-party developers fool around with the system underneath.1 Similarly, because your have a Terminal App on the Mac, and because MacOS was built on UNIX, you can put UNIX commands and do crazy stuff on your Mac. On your Mac, you can download Homebrew on the Terminal App and then do additional crazy stuff. Like for example, there are programs that can make your Mac a server for HomeKit so you can have devices that are not HomeKit work with Apple’s HomeKit on your iPhone and iPad. And of course scripting. On the Mac, you can run AppleScript and other scripts to automate your Mac. On the other hand, on iOS, Apple has the Shortcuts app, where essentially you can create your own scripts and automation apps. And iOS now has a finder so you can navigate into the folders for each app pretty much to find the files you need. So iOS is closer to having a finder like on the Mac.
  • Sixth, the security on iOS is greater than on the Mac because you can’t install non-Apple approved programs on iOS. Also, because the iOS apps are siloed when they run, unlike on the Mac where the programs get closer to the underlying system, your iPhones and iPads are much less likely to get hacked or hijacked. On the Mac, you can still get locked out and have your computer hijacked if you click on the wrong thing form the internet.

What about cost? That shouldn’t be the difference in deciding to purchase the MacBook Air or iPad Pro. The MacBook Air ranges in price from $999 to $2249 if you max out the ram and storage to 16gb of Ram and 2tb of SSD storage as well as bump up slightly the processor speed. The 12.9-inch iPad Pro starts at $999 and ranges up to $1649 if you max out storage to 1tb and get the cellphone antenna built in. If you add in the Magic Keyboard for the iPad Pro, add another $349. If you get the Apple Pencil, add in another $129 for the second generation model. So the prices of the iPad Pro and Macbook Air are congruent on price range. Given that my friend is likely to own this new device for at least 7 years, he could splurge on either the iPad Pro or MacBook Air top price and it would be not very expensive for each month he uses it. For example, take $2000 and divide it by 7 years times 12 months; it totals $23.8 per month.

What about storage? That also shouldn’t be the difference for my friend. The MacBook Air gives you more storage than the iPad Pro if you pay for it. Up to 2 TB for the MacBook Air and only up to 1TB for the iPad Pro. My friend told me he only used 10% of all the storage on his 2012 MacBook Pro. That MacBook Pro had 4gb of ram and a 500mb hard drive. So my friend used approximately 50 mb of storage. The entry level iPad Pro comes with 128gb of storage. That is 256 times more storage than he use don his 2012 MacBook Pro. That entry model would probably have sufficient storage for my friend.

So why did my friend pick the MacBook Air instead of the iPad Pro when the above shows that that iPad Pro has more flexibility and much better technology?

I think he was prejudiced against getting the iPad Pro by a prior experience with an iPad that he purchase many years ago and quickly returned to Apple. Many years ago, when the iPad was in its nascent existence in 2012, the iPad and its operating system couldn’t do as much compared to a Mac. Back then, there were no keyboard covers. You connected a keyboard by bluetooth or lightning back then. Significantly, the operating system for the iPad wasn’t geared for physical keyboard back then. Also, there was no support for a mouse or trackpad. So if you used a physical keyboard a lot, you had to each out to change an app or edit. For someone used to writing a lot on a MacBook Air, the 2012 iPad and its operating system could not really well complete with a Mac. I remember my friend purchase the iPad on my recommendation back then and he promptly returned if to Apple after trying to use it. He doesn’t trust that the experience on the iPad has changed so much since 2012 that it would be easy for him to write and use the iPad Pro.

Second, I don’t think he can appreciate that new things that he never tried could enhance his life. I think most people in the World are like that. It is normal. We live in today. If things are working today, we are happy with that. Something new might not work and it takes additional effort to learn. This is why Apple is careful about how and when it releases new products. Apple knows it has to bring people to the new technology by seducing them with great design that is friendly to people and technology that is so good that people will quickly adopt it. Look at the original iPhone. Most people didn’t think it was a big deal or given its high price anyone would adopt it. Remember Steve Balmer then the CEO of Microsoft. He said no one would purchase the iPhone. RIM, the makers of the then very popular Blackberry said no one would purchase the iPhone because it didn’t have a physical keyboard. iPhones and iPhone-copiers (i.e. Android phones) now completely control the cell phone market. No one purchases cellphones with physical keys or keyboards. I think most people when they start using an iPad regularly will full embrace it as their main computing device. My mom, who is 90, started using an iPad about 6 years ago. She has access to regular computers. But when I see her she is always on the iPad.

Eventually my friend will have an iPad as his main device. Eventually.


  1. Apple isn’t approving Audio Highjack to get into the Mac’s system to highjack audio. Audio Highjack is not sold in the Mac App Store. Instead you download and install it directly from Rogue Amoeba. ↩︎

Review of Apple Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro

Magic Keyboard
Magic Keyboard

I finally purchased Apple’s Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro.

Here are my thoughts:

The cover and keyboard along with the trackpad together with the new operating system for the iPad makes the iPad Pro closer to being like a regular laptop but also like a great tablet. I used it with the 2019 12.9-inch iPad Pro. It works with last year’s iPad Pro along with this year’s iPad Pro.

I purchased the first 12.9-inch iPad Pro along with Apple’s first cover keyboard. I liked that cover keyboard that Apple made for the first iPad Pro but that cover keyboard has serious problems. First of all, the way it it was weighted was awkward so when you opened it up you always felt that iPad will fall out because you didn’t set it up correct. It felt like it was an origami puzzle. In addition, after a while, the connection between the cover keyboard and iPad Pro stopped working. The connection port on that older iPad Pro is on the bottom edge of the iPad Pro and it would connect with a slot on the seem of the keyboard cover. I still have both but the keyboard doesn’t work as the connection on the keyboard covers wore away and no longer work. The same happened to a second Apple keyboard cover I purchased. So it must be endemic for that keyboard model.

Before this year’s Magic Keyboard for the iPad Pro, Apple created a new keyboard cover for the iPad Pro that solved a lot of the problems that the original keyboard cover had. The newer keyboard was stiffer. That keyboard is still sold and it is called the Smart Keyboard Folio. Instead of three origami parts that folded like the original, the newer keyboard had essentially two parts with one side slightly bending. Also, the connector port for the iPad Pro was moved to the flat part of the back of the iPad Pro instead of edge of the bottom of the iPad Pro. This makes the connection to the iPad Pro more stable and also less likely (I Hope) that the connection between the iPad Pro and keyboard cover doesn’t wear away easily like the first generation keyboard cover. Apple still sells that older keyboard cover (what I call the origami keyboard cover) for the cheaper and older generation iPads (the non-pro iPads and the 1st and 2nd generation iPad Pros). See here.

This year’s new Magic Keyboard for the iPad Pro builds upon that Smart Keyboard Folio and adds additional features that make it much better.

  • First, the keys are much better. They have more depth and travel so they feel like real keys like the Magic Keyboard that Apple makes for the iMacs.
  • Second, there is a trackpad. It is a real clicking type trackpad and it is level throughout the rectangle. It works really well and you can swipe fingers similarly like the Magic Trackpad for the iMac, the MacBook Pros and MacBook Air. Apple upgraded the operating system for the iPad so it works well with mouses and trackpads. So this Magic Keyboard for the iPad Pro has it all, a keyboard and trackpad.
  • Third, the keys have back lighting. This means you can now type in the dark and seek the keys. Prior keyboard covers that Apple made did not have back lighting. This is a big deal. Makes it even more like a laptop.
  • Fourth, the Magic Keyboard has a USB-C charging port on the left side which also passes through the charge to the iPad Pro. It is nice because it frees up the USB-C port on the side of the iPad and its lower to the ground and flat with the desk that you put this iPad Pro on. So the cable will not be up in the air connecting to the iPad.
  • Finally, the Magic Keyboard has a dock which makes the iPad Pro rock back and tilt up at a good angle to look at when you are typing. Some say it makes the iPad Pro look like it is floating.

This Magic Keyboard makes the iPad Pro an even better production machine. People who use the iPad Pro to do work will find it even easier to produce their work. This includes not only people who write on the iPad Pro, but also those who edit videos or audio like podcasts.

So what are some drawbacks?

  • First, these keyboard covers are very expensive. The one for the larger iPad Pro is $349. The version for the 11 inch iPad Pro is $299. Are they worth the money? You can use pretty much any keyboard and mouse and trackpad with the iPad Pro. I have a great mechanical keyboard from Keytron which pairs by Bluetooth to the iPad Pro and works well with it. But, Apple’s Magic Keyboard is easy to travel with the iPad Pro. You can close it up and it become like a slim book that you travel around with. You can’t easily do that with regular keyboards, mice and trackpads. And third-party companies that make similar keyboard covers are not as good as Apple’s Magic Keyboard. So this keyboard cover is good for someone who plans to move around and travel with their iPad Pro and also wants to easily work with it using the keyboard and trackpad. But you pay a pretty high price for it. I purchased the Keytron keyboard for under $100 and recently got Logitech’s MX Master 3 Mouse for $100. These are two great devices for working on computers and the iPads. But they are not as portable as the Magic Keyboard for the iPad Pro. So you are paying for the portability when you pay $349 or $299 for these Magic Keyboards.
  • Another frustration is you cannot bend one of the covers fully behind the iPad Pro so that it is flush with the back. The original keyboard cover and the second generation keyboard cover allows you to do that. That allowed me to then use the iPad as just a tablet and get the keyboard out of the way when I didn’t need to use it. On the second generation it was awkward as the keys would be facing out on the back so when you held the iPad with one cover on the back your hand would be pressing down on the keys. The original origami keyboard cover for the iPad Pro had the keys facing in on the back side of the iPad Pro. This newest model doesn’t allow you to swing one side of the cover fully on the back. That means you cannot use the iPad as just a tablet unless you completely separate it from the Magic Keyboard. I don’t like that because I rely on the Magic Keyboard as a cover protecting the iPad. So the Magic Keyboard for the iPad Pro is really less a cover for the iPad Pro then a highly portable and compact keyboard with trackpad. I guess Apple had to make it this way to make the structure of the keyboard cover stronger than the previous models. The origami keyboard cover was frustratingly unstable. This Magic Keyboard is heavy and well balanced. You can more easily balance it on your lap and type on it.

So who is this keyboard cover for? I would suggest it for anyone who is an iPad enthusiast and anyone who uses the iPad Pro as their main work or production device. If you do a lot of work on the iPad, you should definitely get this. Between using the keyboard, touchpad and touch screen, you have complete and easy control of the iPad Pro. Having the backlight and additional USB-C connection on the keyboard (it only charges and doesn’t send data) makes it easier to use the iPad Pro.

I should point out that Apple has three different covers for the iPad Pro.

Magic Keyboard Smart Keyboard Folio Smart Folio
Model 11-inch iPad Pro 12.9-inch iPad Pro
Magic Keyboard Cover $299 $349
Smart Keyboard Folio $179 $199
Smart Folio $79 $99

If you are a hardcore iPad Pro user it might make sense to purchase not only the Magic Keyboard Cover but also the Smart Folio. The Smart Folio has no keyboard or trackpad. It is just a cover for the front and back. What is good about it it automatically shuts down the screen when you close the cover. Also, you can swing the cover on the front to the back and it is thin. So if you just want to use the iPad Pro as a tablet this Smart Folio will protect it. So I can see someone purchasing both the Magic Keyboard Cover and the Smart Folio. When they don’t need the keyboard and what to travel with the iPad Pro they may put the Smart Folio on it. When you need the keyboard and trackpad you take the Magic Keyboard Cover. Yes, you could get the Magic Keyboard Cover and just take out the iPad Pro naked when you want to use it just as a tablet. But some people, like me, would be afraid that the iPad Pro will be damaged it you don’t have a cover.

One thing to point out is that the Magic Keyboard for the iPad Pro is pretty heavy:

The 12.9-inch iPad Pro and Magic Keyboard weigh in at 3 pounds (1362 grams), more than the 2.8 pounds (1290 grams) of the 13-inch MacBook Air but the same as the 13-inch MacBook Pro.

(The Verge). For that reason that is also why you can’t really hold the iPad Pro with the Magic Keyboard as a tablet. It is heavy, heavy as a 13-inch MacBook Pro. That is why I may purchase the Smart Folio to use the iPad Pro as a tablet when I want to be more mobile and protect it.

To sum it up, though it is expensive, the Magic Keyboard for the iPad Pro is the best keyboard and trackpad when you want to be mobile with the iPad Pro. If you are never leaving your office with the iPad Pro, I would think about getting another keyboard or trackpad and a stand for the iPad Pro. But if you are ever going to move around and leave your home or office with the iPad Pro and want to type and do work on your iPad Pro, this is the device for you.

Definitely a thumbs up from me!

The Apple Leaker — Jon Prosser — Think Secret!

Many of you following Apple have heard of this gentleman named Jon Prosser who has a YouTube channel called Front Page Tech. His channel for many years have been essentially a comedy tech news channel. He seems like a nice guy. But lately, his channel has gotten very serious because it looks like Apple employees are leaking to Prosser various secret products. For example, recently he leaked that Apple has glasses coming out at the end of the year or in 2021 and he claims he has seen the glasses and knows the price, around $500. See this episode. Earlier, about one month ago, he leaked the iPhone SE coming out. See this episode.

I have listened to him on various podcasts he has been a guest on. First, I heard him on iMore’s podcast here. iMore podcast April 26, 2020. On the iMore podcast he goes on at length at how he gets his information from sources at Apple. He basically admitted he is getting the information straight from Apple employees who are leaking to him. But it also looks like he is inducing the employees to leak to him. For example, on the iMore podcast, he admits that he asked the Apple employee to let him get a picture of the product. See this part of the podcast

I heard Prosser today also on the CultofMac podcast cast. See the CultCast’s May 21, 2020 episode. Prosser seem like a nice guy. He is also somewhat young. He mentioned before he built up his YouTube channel (he has about 247,000 subscribers) he used to work for Chris Pirillo, a longtime character on the Internet. Prosser mentioned on the CultCast podcast that he had a really hard childhood as is parents died when he was young. He also joked about being worried about Apple coming after him.

Frankly, I am worried about Prosser. I think he is over his head. On the podcasts he sounds like he is inducing Apple employees to leak confidential information to him. This could be a problem for him. Inducing an employe to breach a company’s trade secret could be deemed a misappropriation of a company’s secret and thus illegal. Prosser openly states on the podcasts he appears on that he assures the Apple employees he is getting leaks from that he will work to keep their identity confidential. On the iMore podcast he admits that he is telling his sources what he would like to get from Apple’s confidential information.

Many years ago there was another young tech person who got secrets from Apple’s employees. The website was called ThinkSecret.com and the owner of the site was a young tech person named Nick Ciarelli (aka Nick DePlume). Apple sued him and his site and in 2007 he settled and that website has been vacant since then. See Digital Media Law.

What Prosser has to be careful of is that Apple could sue him for inducing employees to violate the confidential agreement. Just getting sued by Apple could be incredibly expensive. And Prosser seems to be baiting Apple on his videos and podcast appearance. He knows that Apple is trying to find who is leaking to him. I feel that I am seeing a slow automobile accident happening right in front of me. I feel bad for the Apple employees who are leaking and for Prosser. I don’t think they know what they are dealing with here. Apple has a large legal department and it hires some of the top law firms. If Apple feels that Prosser is inducing its employees to leak, I could see Apple suing Prosser. Apple eventually will also find the employees who are leaking to Prosser.

My advice for Prosser is to be very careful and not do anything that looks like he is inducing leaks to him.

Restarted My Podcast and YouTube Channel

Many years ago, I had a podcast on itunes: MacsFuture and and iPad podcast. Also had it on YouTube. Well, I have decided to again try to podcast and have a YouTube channel. Here is my first podcast episode.

Ep, 1 Staying Mentally Sharp Through the Pandemic with Tech Projects MacsFuture

I went on a an adventure during this pandemic shutdown. I kept my brain sharp by learning technology and working on tech projects. Listen to my adventure. You may then be inspired to try various projects. Lex McFarley. I worked on WordPress site, learned Apache, learned UNIX and Ubuntu. Learned static sites with Hugo and Swift Publish. Learned to set up my own Jitsi video service. And also created my own cloud service with NextCloud. Check it out.

A Trip Down Memory Lane – I Don’t Miss Old Tech

Over on John Gruber’s Talk Show Podcast, Gruber had Adam Engst on, one of the founders and keeper of TidBits. TidBits is probably the oldest internet publication covering Apple, let alone the oldest publication on the internet. Engst and Gruber reminisced about the early days of the Macintosh in the late 1980s and Engst and his wife’s early days with the TidBits sites.

Engst and his wife were at Cornell University as students when they first got into the Macintosh and Apple. Same with me. I was there also as student and also got into the Macintosh. While I can reminisce, and appreciate how amazed I was in the past, I don’t miss the old technology.

The original Macintosh came out in 1984. I got my first Macintosh in 1986. My first Macintosh was the Macintosh Plus, which was the third version of the Mac.1 The big feature of that Mac is that it came with a whopping 1 megabyte of RAM, four times the amount of the original Macintosh. That Macintosh, also known as the Macintosh Plus, retailed for $2,599. Looking back, that was a lot of money. In today’s money, that is $6,114.2. It is funny that I now hem and haw about replacing my broken-down 2010 iMac and whether to spend more than $2500 on a replacement and whether to get a dream machine like the Mac Pro which costs at least around $6000. But back in 1986, when I was a student, I got that Macintosh Plus which in today’s money is more than $6000. Now back then I purchased the Macintosh Plus through the school. So I got a big discount. I think around 30% discount. So I think I paid around $1,819 and with tax, over $1,900. In today’s money that is around $4,500. Back then my family helped me out and purchased it.

I was thrilled to have that Mac. It was my first personal computer. Earlier in school several years before, I had taken a computer course where I worked at a terminal that was hooked up to some mini-frame computer or mainframe computer. I took a course where we learned the Fortran language.. I don’t remember much about that computer language but I remember it was supposed to be helpful for scientific classes and economics. I remember I could send a message to other students on another terminal in the room. There was no internet at that time. Sending a message to another terminal in the same room was considered pretty amazing back then. The key thing about that terminal computer course is that you typed out the instructions to the computer. There was no mouse and there was not Graphical User Interface.

The Mac was totally different. First, I didn’t have to go to a room in school to use it. I could use it in my apartment. Second, it it had a GUI and a mouse. No computer I used prior to that Mac used a mouse. The mouse was revolutionary. You could just click and point and move around on it. It seemed so easy. The way I first felt about it about how easy it was to use is similar to how people who first used an iPhone felt compared to a regular computer. That is how revolutionary it was. In 1986, Microsoft had just come out with Windows 1.0 in late 1985 but it could not yet compete with the Mac’s operating system. It wasn’t until later after several generations of Windows that Windows was as good at the Macintosh’s operating system, and then with Windows XP it passed the Macintosh.

Back in 1986 I was excited by several software programs. First I was amazed that you could print out documents that looked like what you had on the screen. Prior to the Mac, printing of course didn’t look exactly like what you had on the screen, because there was no GUI. The Mac had the first GUI (for everyday people) that let you create a document on the screen like what you wanted printed. Seems crazy now that prior to the Mac you couldn’t do that. No the printer I had for the Mac, which came from Apple, was a dot matrix printer. It printed slow and put dots on the paper. It wasn’t sharp. Not by today’s laser print standards. But it what you printed looked like what you had on the screen. You could among other things, print rudimentary graphics with your texts. At the time, that was mind-blowing. It spawned a whole industry of desktop printing.

I quickly realized you could other crazy things with the GUI. I was into music. I quickly purchased software that came out that allowed you to control keyboard and music devices and record music onto the Mac. It used a technology that is still used now: MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface). I remember I had Opcode’s MIDIMAC Sequencer which came out in 1986. You have MIDI now in every iPhone, iPad or Mac you purchase. It is built into Garageband, Apple’s free music creating app. Opcode’s MIDIMAC was rudimentary and limited compared to Garageband today. Essentially, you could arrange notes on the MIDIMAC which would then use Apple’s limited sound synthesizer chip. The sounds were very cheesy and sounded nothing like real acoustic instruments. It took years for computer to become powerful enough to record audio directly from microphones into computers. Back then, the only recording of sound was highly limited into dedicated samplers where you could only record a few seconds. That didn’t come to the Mac for many years. Instead, back then one purchased a separate “Sampler” device.

Finally, the third category of programs that made my early Macintosh fun were games. There were crazy graphic games. At colleges and universities these Macintosh games flourished. I remember going to a computer room in a university I was at and finding many Mac games on a common Mac in the room. I copied them and then had many free games on my Mac. This was revolutionary. Prior to that, purchasing a game, like a video game, was expensive and you needed a special console for your tv. With the Mac, you could copy games from another Mac and share them with your friends. That is until copy protection came out.

The only thing I really reminisce about those days is just remembering how impressed and blown away I was about that new technology. Looking back, that technology looks like a joke. My first Mac had 1 MB of RAM. My current Mac that I am writing this on has 16 GB of RAM. I know have 16,000 times more RAM than the first Mac. My first Mac didn’t even have internal storage. I had to put floppy disks into the Mac to run a program and save files. Nothing was stored on the Mac. That didn’t come for me until a few years later when I upgraded to the Mac SE/30. That first hard drive totally changed the way I used that Mac. It made it so much easier. No longer did I have to use a floppy disk to load a program and save a file. With the hard drive, I could use a program just by starting up my Mac. No floppy disk needed to first be loaded.

But get your mind around this. That first internal hard drive I had was 30 MB in size. That was considered a large amount of storage at the time. The floppy disks I used prior to that were 512k or half of that in storage size. That 30 MB hard drive size is now not large enough for basically one photo file that my camera shoots. And at most, it would hold just a few of the photos my iPhone 11 Pro shoots. I can purchase a MacBook Pro now with 4 terabytes of storage. Think about that difference. One gigabyte is 1,000 MB. One terabytes is 1,000 GB. So a 4 terabyte Mac today has more than 1 million times storage than my Mac SE/30.

My reminiscing is really just limited to remembering how I felt when I saw the technology that the Mac had back in the 80s. It was the future for me. But back then, I could only compare the Mac with what was the technology then or before then. I couldn’t compare it with the future. And what I found out was that compared to the near future, the Mac I had in the late 1980s was not great. By today’s standards its a joke. Because technology goes forward very fast. Everyday I see new technology that blows me away. And by tomorrow that technology is average or old.

Proof of this is Apple’s recent upgrade to Logic Pro which came out yesterday, May 12, 2020, just as I am finishing this post. Take it a look at its features and then go back and see what the music making program that was on the Mac back in the late 1980s could do. You can’t even compare it. It you went back in time with the Logic Pro from today you would freak out anyone back then and they would think you were from another planet. Imagine then what the Logi Pro app in the future in 20 years from now would be like!!!