‘hello again’ 

Apple today announced an event that will take place on October 27. Here’s what the invite looks like:


Wait, damn it. That’s not right. Hang on.

Here we go:

Hello again

Crap. This is confusing. Let me see what Jason posted.

There we go:

Hello again again

I guess we’re getting Macs. I highly doubt that new MacBook Pros will have the same historical impact as the Macintosh and iMac, but it’s fun that Apple revisited the tagline.

E-ink Keyboard Rumored for Future MacBooks 

Eva Dou, at The Wall Street Journal, describing Apple’s plans to possible replace the plastic keycaps on its keyboard with ones that include e-ink displays:

The new keyboards will be a standard feature on MacBook laptops, and will be able to display any alphabet, along with an unlimited number of special commands and emojis, people familiar with the plans said.

Apple is aiming for a 2018 launch, these people said.

I’m actually more enthusiastic about this than I am the rumored maybe-never-announced MacBook Pro, assuming this keyboard would still have physical keys. In my mind, this MacBook would have a keyboard like it does today, just with a bunch of little e-ink displays in the keyboard, like shown in this MacRumors article.

It’s not hard to imagine the possibilities this could be bring. While many international keyboards use different physical layouts, this sort of system could allow users to type with their own language’s letters on the keys.1 Imagine that in a classroom.

Additionally, this could push the flexibility expected in the next MacBook Pro’s OLED Touchbar even further. Keyboards like this one that use custom keycaps to show shortcuts for professional apps could theoretically be done in software.

Count me as intrigued.

  1. In discussing this with my Connected co-hosts, they both seemed pretty excited about this possible use case. 

Notebook Rumor Roundup 

There are a bunch of Mac notebook rumors flying around today, so I thought it’d be fun looking at them individually.

RIP, 11-inch MacBook Air

TIL the 11-inch Air is still around.

I’m joking. Mostly. I know it has some big fans, but this machine feels redundant in a world where the 13-inch Air is just $100 more and the MacBook is just as portable:

11-inch Air:$899
13-inch Air: $999
12-inch MacBook: $1,299

If the 11-inch Air goes away, I wonder what will happen to that $899 price point. I can see Apple abandoning it.

13-inch Air to be updated

The new Air is to come with USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 support. Coupled with the processors Apple uses in the Air, this machine would continue to be more powerful and flexible than the 12-inch MacBook.

I think that makes a lot of sense. I think the MacBook is still a little too much in the future for most users. The Air is almost as light and thin, but a lot more useful for some users.

Ports? Where we’re going, we don’t need ports.

It sure seems like the OLED Touchbar is a lock for these new MacBook Pros, as is the inclusion of USB-C/Thunderbolt 3.

There’s part of that MacRumors report that still hurts, though:

Previous rumors and part leaks have suggested the upcoming MacBook Pro will include four USB-C ports, doing away with an SD card slot, an HDMI port, USB-A ports, and a MagSafe connection.

I understand why the MacBook has a single USB-C port. I can even see the Air moving to all USB-C/Thunderbolt ports. On the MacBook Pro, it seems like a bridge too far.

Apple has often included I/O in the MacBook Pro (and even PowerBook) not found on other machines. MacBooks had mini-DVI ports, while pre-unibody MacBook Pros got full-sized DVI connections. The MacBook Pro is the only Apple portable to ship with HDMI. The Pro and the 13-inch Air sport very helpful SD card slots while the 11-inch Air doesn’t.

I/O is important to professionals. Pros often have a lot of things plugged in, from hard drives to SD cards to external displays. I’m not in love with the idea of using adaptors for almost everything I need to plug in to a notebook. 

(Of course, I own Thunderbolt adaptors to access Ethernet, FireWire 800, DVI and VGA. It can be annoying, but adapting to USB just makes my head hurt.)

Having 4 USB-C/Thunderbolt ports may make for a nice, neat MacBook Pro, but it’s a machine that may prove more difficult to use in the short term. One day we’ll be in a USB-C world, but we aren’t today. The industry of boutique MacBook dongles show it. Going all in with a new MacBook Pro will make the future show up faster, but I’d argue that in a professional machine, leaving some “legacy” I/O for those who need it is the right call.

That said, I think we’re headed into a future with far fewer ports on our MacBook Pros. We’ll get used to it, and one day laugh and laugh at how we used to use things like HDMI and SD card readers on our notebooks.


On Annotable »

Joe Caiati, writing for The Sweet Setup:

A markup app can be used in many different ways, like showing design changes, pointing out something funny to your friends, or using it as an educational tool.1

With Apple integrating markup even further within its mobile operating system, it’s clear that this is an essential tool to have available. We’ve tested a folder full of options and it became clear that Annotable is the best markup app for iOS.

This has become a must-have app for me.

Welcome to Macintosh Season 3 »

Mark Bramhill’s Welcome to Macintosh is one of my all-time favorite nerdy podcasts. He is looking to bring it back for a third season, and has launched a Kickstarter project to do it:

Season 3 of Welcome to Macintosh is the most ambitious season to date. The stories I’m working on require traveling across the country, reporting on events, working with designers — and these expenses add up. Advertising helps, but the money only comes in after the episodes have been released. In the past, I’ve paid for expenses out of pocket and just trusted that things would work out. But that’s not sustainable, and it limits what I’m able to do and what stories I can tell.


Relay FM for iOS v1.5 »

This morning, we published an update to the Relay FM iOS app that packs some fun goodies:

When considering the next update to our app, we didn’t have to look any further than Myke’s sticker-covered laptop and iPads.

You can now cover your iMessage conversations with artwork inspired by your favorite Relay FM podcasts.

It’s all powered by Tapjet, an amazing (perhaps even magical) platform for building and updating the content within iOS apps. Major thanks to them for getting this going for us.

It’s been a lot of fun coming up with these, and I think you’ll enjoy them.

Project Titan Roadmap Shifts »

Mark Gurman and Alex Webb at Bloomberg:

Apple Inc. has drastically scaled back its automotive ambitions, leading to hundreds of job cuts and a new direction that, for now, no longer includes building its own car, according to people familiar with the project.

Hundreds of members of the car team, which comprises about 1,000 people, have been reassigned, let go, or have left of their own volition in recent months, the people said, asking not to be identified because the moves aren’t public.

The current thinking is that Apple is working to develop a self-driving platform, and will decide next year if its moving forward.

While the idea of an Apple Car was certainly exciting, I never felt completely comfortable with it. I think Apple should be spending time and money to feel out new projects, but it seemed like a big leap.