WWDC Wish List: iOS 15

With only two days to go until Apple’s WWDC 2021 keynote, I’ve finally arrived at my last operating system wish list: iOS 15. The BIG one. Apple’s favourite child.

My iPhone is by far the computer I use the most every day and I’ll bet that’s true for a lot of people so it makes sense that iOS is still Apple’s major focus year-after-year. Within a few months, the new features Apple adds to iOS next week will be installed on hundreds of millions of devices around the world. No pressure, Craig.

iOS 14 was a huge update last year and kicked off a frenzy of home screen customization thanks to the addition of widgets, the ability to create custom app icons using Shortcuts, and apps like Widgetsmith that made theming easy. It’s hard to follow such a blockbuster release, but based on recent reports from Mark Gurman at Bloomberg, Apple’s planned some big additions for iOS 15 this year.

Rumours and the usual bug fixes aside, here are the major new features and enhancements I’m hoping to see in iOS 15 on Monday.

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WWDC Wish List: macOS 12

We’re less than a week away from WWDC at this point and I’m late sharing the rest of my wishes!

After a few years as an iPad-first guy, my interest in the Mac was renewed last year with the launch of Apple’s M1 chip. I’ve now moved to an M1 MacBook Air as my primary computer and couldn’t be happier. My satisfaction with the Mac extends to macOS Big Sur, which I find very stable and a delight to use.

I struggled to think of things I would like Apple to add to macOS 12 – which I predict will be named Monterey – but did come up with a short list of additions that would be nice to see next week.

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WWDC Wish List: watchOS 8

With two weeks to go until WWDC 2021 kicks off, Apple officially confirmed yesterday the date and time of their opening keynote and it’s Monday, June 7th at 10am Pacific / 1pm Eastern. Exactly as predicted.

watchOS is set to turn 8 this year and we’ve heard very few rumours about what to expect for this next release. I’ve worn an Apple Watch regularly since the Series 0 was released in 2015 so I’ve been along for the ride over the years as Apple has refined the purpose of the Apple Watch and refocused watchOS to match.

There’s no major reinvention I’m hoping to see for watchOS this year but who knows what surprises Apple may have in store for our wrists. I’m hoping to see more customization options for Apple’s most personal device alongside refinements and new features for some of the Watch’s core functions.

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WWDC Wish List: iPadOS 15

We’re exactly three weeks away from the start of WWDC 2021 where Apple will unveil the future of their software platforms: iOS, iPadOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS. Though Apple hasn’t officially confirmed the date and time for their traditional opening keynote, based on established patterns I’ve marked Monday, June 7th at 10am Pacific / 1pm Eastern on my calendar. We should look forward to the kind of well-produced video presentation we’ve come to expect from Apple during the pandemic, filled with dizzying drone shots of Apple Park and a cast of diverse, familiar faces. (Odds that Craig will spawn another new meme this year?)

As for what we can expect from Apple’s latest software updates, it’s been fairly quiet on the rumour front so far though I expect we’ll hear more from the usual suspects before the month is out. In the meantime, I decided to share some of my own hopes and dreams for the future of Apple’s operating systems, starting with the one that’s got the highest expectations this year: iPadOS.

It’s been over eleven years since the first iPad was released in 2010, five and a half years since Apple launched the first iPad Pro in November 2015, and two years since it was given its own operating system with the introduction of iPadOS at WWDC 2019. Yet the iPad Pro’s story remains muddled by the disconnect between its best-in-class hardware and its software, hamstrung by limitations inherited from iOS.

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AirTag review: the cheapest Apple product you hope you’ll never need

I don’t consider myself a forgetful person. I always remember my PKW (phone, keys, wallet) when I leave the house, have never accidentally left my bag on the subway, and unlike many (most?) other Apple TV owners I can’t recall ever embarking on a Siri Remote treasure hunt around my house. I’m not exactly the target audience for Apple’s AirTag – a cute, white puck you can attach to almost anything that can be tracked with your iPhone when misplaced. I also couldn’t avoid the allure of a fancy, shiny, yet surprisingly inexpensive Apple widget that I can show off on my keychain, and so an AirTag engraved with my initials arrived at my house last week.

From a design perspective there’s almost nothing to the AirTag. It’s a smooth white pebble with a stainless steel battery cover on the back adorned with an Apple logo. That’s it. Some have bemoaned the lack of a hole on the device itself for threading through a key ring or chain, but this is an Apple product after all and a hole would be unseemly. Placed inside Apple’s leather key ring (sold separately for $45 CAD, more than the $39 CAD AirTag it holds) it’s an elegant addition to any bag or set of keys. There are cheaper options for AirTag holders, but I like the premium leather look and wanted something to match my Bellroy key cover.

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Comparing 12.9-inch iPad Pro sizes

Federico Viticci, MacStories:

“The removal of the “forehead” and “chin” has created a sizable difference with the old model: when compared in portrait orientation, the new 12.9″ iPad Pro isn’t that much taller than the 10.5″ model from last year, which was the more compact option of the two. The original 12.9″ iPad always looked and felt enormous compared to every other iPad; the new design makes the biggest iPad look like a slightly larger version of the regular size ones. You can tell that it’s bigger (and, of course, it’s heavier), but its new design helps it look and feel more compact and acceptable than before.”

After a weekend with my new 12.9-inch iPad Pro, I absolutely agree with Federico. The new 12.9-inch is substantially smaller in every way – volume, weight, and thinness. All that equals a vastly more portable, usable iPad Pro with all the benefit of the extra screen real estate for Split View. I posted some Instagram photos this morning comparing the old and new 12.9-inch iPad Pros, showing how much smaller the new one is.

I’m very happy with my buying decision.

First impressions of the new 12.9-inch iPad Pro and Smart Keyboard Folio

My new 12.9-inch iPad Pro and Smart Keyboard Folio were delivered to my office at 4:30pm yesterday (talk about cutting it close, UPS!) and I didn’t get to unbox everything until after 7pm last night. In total I’ve spent about three hours actually using the new iPad, but that’s been enough time for me to form some early impressions of and fall madly in love with this gorgeous new computer.

For context, I’m upgrading from the original 12.9-inch iPad Pro and Smart Keyboard from 2015.

  • This is the first iPad I’ve owned with Pro Motion, Apple’s marketing name for the 120Hz screen refresh rate introduced with the 2017 iPad Pro models. My first exposure to Pro Motion has not been great so far; during the setup process I started to feel motion sick, and that sensation persisted for most of last night. I have sensitive eyes so I do want to give them time to adjust to the 120Hz display, as it makes every animation and interaction look buttery smooth. I hope I can adjust to Pro Motion and won’t have to disable it.
  • The new “edge-to-edge” display is gorgeous. Apple have left just enough bezel around the edges to fit the Face ID sensors and rest your thumb on when holding the iPad Pro. Don’t expect to see the iPad Pro’s bezel shrink any more in the foreseeable future. I love the rounded corners on the iPhone X and Apple Watch Series 4 displays, and I’m glad they’re finally on the iPad Pro as well. Rounded corners add so much to the cleanliness of a device’s design. I never want to see sharp, squared-off screen corners ever again.
  • The new 12.9-inch iPad Pro feels and appears SO much smaller than the old model. I noticed the size decrease immediately upon taking the new iPad out of the box. It’s much more compact to hold, aided by the even thinner and lighter body. While I was watching House of Cards on Netflix last night in bed, I actually had to hold the old 12.9-inch iPad Pro up against the new one to double-check that the screen was the same size. It seems that much smaller to the eye.
  • I’m already sad that I opted not to buy the new Apple Pencil 2 right away. I want to sketch and colour on this new iPad so bad, and have the full setup of iPad Pro in the Smart Keyboard Folio with the new Apple Pencil magnetically attached to the top. When I do eventually order the new Pencil, I’m debating whether I should have it engraved. How cute would it be to have a personalized, engraved Apple Pencil attached to the iPad Pro and Smart Keyboard Folio covered in stickers?
  • Because the on-screen Home indicator takes up extra pixels, all iPad Pro apps have to be re-compiled with Xcode 10.1 to fill the entirety of the new edge-to-edge displays. Most iPad Pro apps currently run in a “compatibility” mode that leaves black bars above and below the app, and some apps – such as Netflix and Marvel Unlimited – have black bars around all four sides. This sucks, and I hope app developers ship updates for their apps really quickly.
  • The new iPad Pro is incredibly thin. I can’t believe Apple fit one of their most powerful portable computers ever into such a small body. I want to take it out of the Smart Keyboard Folio all the time just to hold it. I’m also a fan of the new flat sides. Like the Microsoft Surface, I think the flat sides give the iPad Pro a much more modern design and I would love to see this design language come to a future iPhone X as well.
  • The Smart Keyboard Folio feels much sturdier than the original Smart Keyboard. I do miss the old “Media Mode” that would stand the iPad up with the keyboard hidden behind the device, but the new angle that Apple calls “Desk Mode” is an alright substitute.
  • The 12.9-inch Smart Keyboard Folio weighs 407g (according to Marco Arment) and coupled with the 12.9-inch iPad Pro at 631g the entire package weighs in at 1038g or 2.29lbs. That means despite the iPad Pro’s reduction in size and weight, the entire combo weighs only fractionally less than the old 12.9-inch iPad Pro (713g) and Smart Keyboard (340g) at 1053g or 2.32lbs.
  • I will be covering my Smart Keyboard Folio in stickers as soon as I can build up a good collection. I really wish my favourite podcasts and apps would start making logo stickers available again.
  • This article was written and published on the new iPad Pro. It’s a real computer, even for media production. And that photo up top was shot, edited, resized, and retouched entirely using iOS, too.

There’s still plenty about the new iPad Pro I want to test and play with, so stay tuned for further coverage right here on Fresh Fruit and be sure to follow me on Instagram for more glamour shots of the new iPad Pro in the coming days.

John Gruber’s iPad Pro review

John Gruber, Daring Fireball:

I’ve been using the 12.9-inch model for testing over the last five days. It’s a lot easier and more comfortable to hold. There have been times when I forgot I was using the “big” iPad…

With split view, iPad supports running two apps side-by-side. When both apps are 50-50, there remains a difference between the 12.9-inch and 11-inch iPads. On the 12.9-inch iPad, two apps sharing the screen 50-50 are both shown as the “full-screen” version of the app. It’s like each of the two halves of the screen are treated as an iPad Mini display. On the 11-inch iPad, however, two apps sharing the screen 50-50 use a compact size class horizontally.

This makes me feel great about my decision to get the new 12.9-inch iPad Pro. Unlike the 11-inch MacBook Air where you can scale the resolution to gain screen real estate (as long as you can deal with teeny tiny text and UI elements), the iPad Pro’s resolution is locked. In 50-50 Split View, the difference between a “full size” portrait app and a compact class size is important, particularly for iPad power users. It’s the difference between a universal app on an iPad versus an iPhone: less visible content, hidden controls, smaller work space. If you want to get work done on an iPad Pro, go with the 12.9-inch model which by all accounts so far is vastly smaller and lighter than the previous generation. I can’t wait to get mine on Wednesday!

Also, check out the Geekbench comparisons Gruber includes at the top of his review. Hot damn. The iPad Pro is quickly catching up to the MacBook Pro in performance. Can’t wait to see how iOS 13 takes advantage of all the power inside these new iPads.

The iPad Pro Is Already a Computer

Carolina Milanesi, Techpinions:

It was fascinating to have people point out to me after the event that the only thing that the iPad Pro is missing now to be a computer is mouse support. This to me is a symptom that shows how these people are not ready to transition all their computing needs to an iPad Pro. Either because of comfort or because of the kind of tasks they perform, a touch and pen first workflow would not suit them. This is why Apple continues to update its Mac line. But also, this is why Mac OS, while remaining a separate OS, will allow for apps to look and feel more like they do on iOS so that workflows could seamlessly go between an iPhone or an iPad to a Mac. The more you will be able to do that the more you will be able to consider an iPad Pro as your main computing device.

I saw many similar tweets and articles about what Mac features the iPad still needs before it can become a real computer. As Carolina points out above, these people are missing the point. The iPad is not slowly becoming a computer as we know them, it is redefining what it means to be a computer. The only reason we think mouse pointers, windows, menu bars, and right-clicks define computers is because that’s all we’ve ever known computers to be. That doesn’t mean a device needs those features to be a computer or just as powerful as a PC.

Of course there are “traditional” computer features I think the iPad Pro needs to gain in the next few years to improve its functionality: external USB-C storage support in the Files app, a file downloader in Safari, and further expansion of Split View to support more than 2 apps at a time would be top of my list. But the iPad doesn’t need mouse support to be good at Photoshop, or window support to be a powerful multitasking machine. Instead, I hope to see iOS 13 and future releases introduce new ways for iPad users to select text (some kind of trackpad support without a mouse cursor), work with large files, interact with external displays, and run multiple apps at once. That’s the future Apple is building toward with the iPad Pro and Marzipan.

Federico Viticci’s hands-on impressions of the new iPads Pro

Federico Viticci, MacStories:

The new 12.9” iPad Pro seemed particularly impressive in this regard: the combination of reduced physical footprint, lighter body, and edge-to-edge display gave me the impression that I was holding the largest iPad Pro in the smallest and most comfortable form factor I could have ever hoped for. I’m reserving final judgement for a proper review, but I think I’m sticking with the 12.9″ iPad Pro as Apple managed to make it even more portable and lighter than before. I was in love with it as soon as I picked it up.

Federico is the king of iPad in the Apple community, so you should definitely read his entire hands-on post for impressions of the new design, Apple Pencil, Smart Keyboard Folio, and USB-C.

As for the sizes of the new iPads Pro, I’ve been going back-and-forth on my decision to get the new 12.9” model. On the one hand, I love my 12.9” 2015 iPad Pro for its giant screen which is the best way to use split view and perfect for watching video. On the other hand, the iPad Pro is the only computer I travel with and the new 11” model has a much lighter, more compact form factor that is extremely cute and appealing.

Ultimately, I ordered the 12.9” iPad Pro with the Smart Keyboard Folio (new Apple Pencil to come later) and I’m probably going to stick with it. During a wonderful Twitter exchange the other day with Carolina Milanesi, Christina Warren, and Dan Seifert, I did some math and figured out that the new 12.9” iPad Pro with Smart Keyboard Folio will weigh somewhere around 2.2lbs compared to the new MacBook Air at 2.75lbs making it pretty competitive in the portability department. Despite the fact that, in Canadian dollars, the 12.9” iPad Pro plus Smart Keyboard Folio costs $400 more than the 11” with keyboard, I don’t want to compromise on my only portable computer.

I’ll have my first impressions of the new iPad Pro posted on Wednesday or Thursday, followed by a full review later this month. Look out for Federico’s iPad Pro review on MacStories too!