Where are the new Macs?

My occasional MacBreak Weekly cohort, Rene Richie, has posted an analysis on the current state of the Mac, where virtually all updates have been awol for the longest time!

In his usual fashion, Rene has done a sterling job analysing the recent history of the updates (or lack of them) for each Mac in the line up.

One of his assumptions in summing up is:

Because of technologies coming with the new Macs, perhaps including a new display that worked with all of them, presenting them as a group would have the biggest impact …

With the dearth of updates on virtually all of the line up, I would support his assumption 100%.

I would imagine that one potential sticking point is the inclusion of a standard USB-C port with support for Thunderbolt 3. It makes sense that any new Mac should have this port as standard.

big-picture-with-text_update_1_0

Perhaps as Rene suggests, there is a new Apple Cinema Display in the pipeline and due to the required 5K Display, it needs a USB-C Thunderbolt 3 port to drive it?

Perhaps this is tied in to the lack of an audio port on the new iPhone 7 (not that I’m suggesting that we should expect a USB-C port on the iPhone 7)?

Whatever the reason, it must be something that impacts the entire Mac line across the board.

I expect to see a slew of Mac related announcements in the Autumn.

Thunderbolt Displays in limited supply at Apple Stores ahead of WWDC

A reliable retail source informed us that the Thunderbolt Display has been out of stock for a month at all central and surrounding London stores, while a tipster claims that the 27-inch monitor has been pulled from sale, with stock “returned to warehouse,” at at least one U.K. retail store. A similar tip originating from Australia was received about Thunderbolt Display stock not being replenished.

MacRumors

If this is the case, I think it bodes well for an appearance of a new 5K Apple Cinema Display at WWDC plus updated Mac hardware to drive it.

At this point, we’re looking at Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C on an updated MacBook Pro or Mac Pro.

Fingers crossed!

Apple Opening Siri, Developing Echo Rival – Really?

Siri Icon

Some new information about Apple potentially opening up the Siri API for developers and working on an Amazon Echo type device.

Unfortunately it’s behind a paywall but the theme is:

Apple is upping its game in the field of intelligent assistants. After years of internal debate and discussion about how to do so, the company is preparing to open up Siri to apps made by others. And it is working on an Amazon Echo-like device with a speaker and microphone that people can use to turn on music, get news headlines or set a timer.

Apple Opening Siri, Developing Echo Rival — The Information

I’m in two minds about this.

The first is yes, Apple are well overdue in making the Siri API open to developers. This will make Siri so much more useful on all of the devices we currently use it on – iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch. Presumably, we’ll see Siri also available on the Mac at WWDC and it’s already available to a limited fashion on the Apple TV. Perhaps this was the missing piece Apple was waiting for before opening up Siri to developers.

The second bit I’m not too sure about – creating an alternative Amazon Echo-like device?

Yes, it does seem like Amazon are streets ahead in this space, at least in the context of reliability and confidence. Pretty much everyone I know who has an Echo (we can’t get them here in the UK), effuses how reliable it is in picking up and understanding every spoken command and actioning it. Whereas Siri…

Not so much.

I’ve really had a confidence issue with Siri for a while now.

It’s really clever and has a wide range of multi lingual understanding, but it just doesn’t pick up my commands half of the time. And as for the Apple Watch, I’ve pretty much given up using Siri due to the poor responsiveness. If it doesn’t work reliably, people will stop using it.

However,  creating a standalone Apple “Echo” doesn’t seem to fit with Apple’s Siri strategy.

As far as I can determine, they don’t want you to have a single device in every room, they want Siri to follow you around on all your devices.

Why have a separate device in each room whilst you have a device that you effortlessly carry around with you from room to room? Today that’s the iPhone or the Apple Watch, but who knows what wearables they decide on in the future.

So I’m torn.

Yes I’d like to see an Apple “Echo” but I’m not sure their strategy will allow for one. They may just focus on making Siri ubiquitous, responsive and reliable.

But never say never!

New MacBook Announced

MacBookApple have announced a stealth revision to the 12” MacBook today, with the major new enhancements being an upgrade to the new Skylake chip architecture, minimum of 8GB RAM plus an hours extra battery life. Oh, and you can now get it in Rose Gold if you want.

There is no change to the camera and no structural changes to the design. It’s not really surprising that there is no major design changes as the original MacBook was only released 12 months ago, so this should be seen as a limited performance boost on the original design.

The single USB-C port remains, again, no real surprise – it supports USB 3.1but I’m a little disappointed that Thunderbolt 3 support was not included. Looks like Thunderbolt 3 is being reserved for the next MacBook Pro update.

It has been a while since the MacBook Pro has had a design refresh, so I would expect to see multiple USB-C ports including support for Thunderbolt 3 in the Summer.

So will I be trading in my current MacBook for one of the new ones?

Unlikely as the update isn’t really significant enough to make me want to upgrade. The performance of the current MacBook is perfectly adequate for me in it’s current role – that of an all purpose travel Mac.