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October 31, 2023

Snippet: Behind the Scenes at Scary Fast: Apple’s Keynote Event Shot on iPhone ☇


On Monday, October 30, at Apple’s Scary Fast special event unveiling the all-new MacBook Pro with the M3 family of chips and 24-inch iMac with M3, there was an unseen star of the show working behind the scenes. All of the presenters, locations, and drone footage in the event were filmed using iPhone 15 Pro Max, the preferred smartphone for creative pros and filmmakers. Led by documentary film director Brian Oakes, known for the award-winning Jim: The James Foley Story and Living with Lincoln, Scary Fast put iPhone 15 Pro Max right in the middle of the action.

While they didn’t strictly use an iPhone by itself, it was still the primary device doing the capturing. I’ve been enjoying the evolution of Apple’s “infomercials” over the past few years, prerecorded events necessitated by the pandemic. While the initial ones had way more polish than anyone was expecting, the current ones tend to take advantage of and have fun with the medium. In some ways, by sharing the behind-the-scenes process, the Scary Fast event also became another ad for the iPhone 15 Pro.

Snippet: Cutting Down on Apple Subscriptions ☇

An interesting perspective from Vicent Ritter, living in Poland with a UK Apple account:

So let’s finally get to the article… Why am I cutting down? Well, it’s not only about the monthly cost, but it’s also the problem of where I stand with the quality of their services and the fine line of alienating a normal person (oh god, don’t hate me now, you’ll see). I can see raised eyebrows in the back! Oh no, I can see someone press the big red “cancel” button.

I’ve been tempted by Apple One, but I find that it’s often cheaper by about $30/year for me to cobble together a handful of items or annual subscriptions of things I actually use. While I’ve considered going back to purchasing music and using iTunes Match ($25/year) to stream my library, I also realize that I’d probably spend more than the remaining $84/year on buying music and be much pickier about what I’d add to my library. By my quick math, I’ve added about 120-200 songs/year to my library and who knows what one-offs I’ve listened to without adding. It makes Music feel like a good value.

The iCloud+ 200GB plan is cheap enough and convenient, so it would go nowhere, but also hurts the argument for Apple One for me (that is only 50GB, so I’d still have to add iCloud+).

I’ve subscribed to TV+ from the start and really enjoy it, feeling like the prior two price points were a bargain. I’d guess that out of the streaming services in our household, it currently gets the most use (followed by HBO Max, Prime Video, Netflix, and then Paramount+). However, with the increased price, Apple needs to continue to bring quality content or it could end up on the chopping block.

As for the other services, I’ve subscribed to Fitness+ in the past, but currently don’t because I am lazy I need to find more time in the day. I like the idea of Arcade, but just don’t find myself playing games on my phone other than a few longtime favorites. Similarly, News+ sounds great, but every time I try it, it seems to struggle with what I’m interested in and the ads are really tacky.

It’d be nice if Apple One allowed mix-and-match services with a bit of a discount or an annual option. Not only would that create a more “sticky” experience (I’m subscribing to one thing instead of 3-4), but I think I’d be less likely to scrutinize every price increase. In my case, if I keep TV+ things are only going up about $3/month (or $30/year), but it’s on top of every other streaming service increasing prices and inflation in general—not a great look.

October 20, 2023

Snippet: Jon Stewart’s ‘The Problem’ Not Moving Forward at Apple Amid Creative Differences ☇

Lesley Goldberg for The Hollywood Reporter:

According to the New York Times, which first reported the news, the cancellation came after creative differences between the iPhone maker and Stewart over potential topics and guests for The Problem. The NYT reported that Stewart informed his staff Thursday that Apple pushed back on topics relating to China and artificial intelligence. Production on season three was already under way, with filming poised to begin shortly.

Sources tell THR that there had been tension between Apple and Stewart ahead of the show’s third season return over topics featured on The Problem. Those same sources note that Apple approached Stewart and informed the host that both sides needed to be “aligned” regarding topics on the show. Stewart, sources say, balked at the idea of being “hamstrung” by Apple, which threatened to cancel the series. Stewart, sources say, wanted to have full creative control of the series and, after Apple threatened to cancel the series, told the tech company that he was walking away from the show rather than have his hands tied.

While I enjoyed The Problem, it didn’t quite have the comedic punch of Jon Stewart-era Daily Show or John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight. If the statements are true, that seems really short-sighted by Apple—I’d guess that a smaller amount of people watch the show than will read how Apple appears to be kowtowing to China. It’s also a stark contrast to how Time Warner, AT&T, and now Warner Bros. Discovery have handled any kind of criticism and jokes by John Oliver.

Apple, when AT&T seems to have a thicker skin than you, you probably need to re-evaluate some things.

October 19, 2023

Snippet: Simplifying the iPad Lineup ☇

John Gruber:

On the one hand, this new Pencil makes complete sense. Lightning is quickly fading away, and this new slider seems like a much better design than the old cap. On the other hand, though, the fact that there are now three Apple Pencil models, all with different features and which are supported by different iPads, exemplifies just how over-complicated the iPad product lineup is.

As much as I enjoy the iPad as a product, the lineup is confusing and unwieldy. Gruber suggests simplifying things and I’d take it a few steps further:

  • iPad (10th generation) becomes the entry-level model
  • Combine the iPad Air and 11″ iPad Pro into an in-between model, or drop the price of the 11″ Pro and kill the Air. There’s currently 3 iPads all in the 11″-ish size class and for most people, each improvement is mostly just for something a bit nicer even if the basic iPad (10th generation) is fine for most people.
  • Much like the iPhone 15 Pro Max, put a few additional bells and whistles on the 12.9″ Pro so the big screen is not the only differentiator.
  • Keep the mini in its weird kinda-powerful, but small state that sits outside of the rest of the lineup.
  • Get rid of the original Pencil, and rename the existing second-generation Pencil as the Pencil Pro, leaving two models.

Although Apple doesn’t share sales figures by model, I’d guess that the best selling iPad is the 9th generation model, followed by the Pros. These changes would create a good/better/best lineup that doesn’t lend itself to “should I buy the regular iPad, the iPad Air, or the 11″ iPad Pro?” and any accessories will work with any iPad (outside of keyboards that only fit based on screen size). The 12.9″ iPad has a very specific customer, as does the mini, so those can be the weird outliers. It may make sense to keep another “step” around in the middle, although it currently feels like there’s a lot of overlap in the middle of the lineup.

“What do you get for the tech billionaire who has literally everything? The cherished startup vibes of his youth. It’s literally the only thing he doesn’t have anymore.”