482: It’s Covered in Soap!


00:00:00   [Music]

00:00:08   From Relay FM, this is Upgrade, episode 482 for October 23rd, 2023. Today's show is brought to you by Fitbond, Memberful, and Factor. My name is Mike Hurley and I'm joined by Jason Snell. Hi, Jason Snell.

00:00:24   482 with 480 me and 480 you, Mike Hurley. I love it, that's great. Happy, happy 482. Thank you. A not particularly meaningful number. You just made it beautiful.

00:00:38   You feeling a little down? You feeling a little sick? Are you under the weather? I'm a little sick, yeah. I apologize for how I sound. This is just what you're gonna get. And who knows?

00:00:45   I hope I'll get to the end of the episode. But I was on a call today with Steven, as we call it, Speak Every Monday, and by the end of that call, there wasn't much left. But then I took a little break and I'm back again, so we'll see how we go.

00:00:59   But let's just get started with our Snell Talk question for this week's episode, which comes from Kevin. Kevin says, "With the orange tube man being such a hit for the Snell family on Halloween, do you have any plans to also wear the orange, wild, wavy, inflatable tube man costume from Spirit of Halloween?"

00:01:15   No. Okay. It's cool though. It is an orange tube man costume. Fun idea. Not for Jason. Thanks, Kevin. No. Do you never dress up for Halloween? No, no. Have you ever? I said this the last time, I don't like Halloween. Yeah, but you may have had to go to a party at some point.

00:01:42   Yeah, I have, you know what I have? I have a t-shirt that is Captain Kirk's shirt from Star Trek. Okay. I have a gold t-shirt with a little Enterprise, you know, badge on, just silk screened onto it.

00:02:00   And if forced, it's either that or I will take out one of my sports jerseys. I'll take out like a Giants jersey and a baseball cap and say I'm a baseball player. Those are my fallbacks and I'll just remind everybody, I am somebody who, when in sixth grade and forced to go to my elementary school's Halloween carnival, went "undercover" as a student.

00:02:28   That's good. So you're very much the Jim from the office kind of vibe when it comes to Halloween. It's been a long time since I've seen that show, but I assume Jim didn't like Halloween. No, and basically dresses up the way that you dress up. Yes. I am exactly that then. That's fair. I like this costume though and I think you should buy it. Or someone should buy it for you. I will say if the Snow Children are out there, buy this for Dad. I think he'd like it. No.

00:02:57   If you'd like to send in a Snow Talk question of your own, go to UpgradeFeedback.com and you can help us start an episode of the show. We will begin the next chapter, which is follow up. The Take Control of Photos update is now out and available for people. So what is this Jason Snow? I'm giving you the floor.

00:03:17   Thank you. I do a book about the Photos app on Mac and iPad and iPhone and the latest version is out, which contains all the updates that were in the operating systems that were updated this year. iOS 17, Mac OS Sonoma. That actually was out about a month ago, but we did a new update for the wonderful sneaky things Apple sneaks in when they release a new iPhone that require me to revise the book because there's suddenly a new version.

00:03:46   It's basically a given at this point, right?

00:03:51   Yeah, there's always. I think we draft it because it's so juicy to do that. Anyway, it's out. If you have last year's edition, I think this is a free update. And if you're wondering about everything that happens in Apple Photos and how it works and how you can use it, that book is there and you can buy it.

00:04:11   I have two pieces of feedback from anonymous submitters about the Sonoma video reactions that we were talking about.

00:04:20   Oh, yes.

00:04:21   It was very fun for me, by the way. I'll point people to two things. One, there's a very good video that was put together by Chip, who is our video editor, of me trying out the video reactions while we were recording last time. So Chip edited those into one of our reels. I'll put that in the show notes.

00:04:39   You also wrote about this in Six Colors, as sometimes happens, right? We talk about a thing and then you have a thought and you expand on the thought in Six Colors. And there's a screenshot of me with balloons there.

00:04:50   Well, Anand wrote in to say, "I was just watching a technology livestream and apparently air quotes will trigger the confetti thinking that people are throwing peace signs. This confused both hosts."

00:05:01   That's very funny. But the one that is even funnier to me comes from another anonymous submitter who says, "I was on a call with work with Apple Enterprise," which is a funny phrase considering you're talking about Star Trek a minute ago, the Apple Enterprise.

00:05:14   "And the unexpected video reactions affected them too because they use WebEx internally, which for some reason doesn't support these reactions, but they were calling us on Zoom. So they were triggering the reactions in all sorts of inappropriate moments unexpectedly.

00:05:28   They didn't know why and they didn't know how to turn them off."

00:05:31   Oh, the irony.

00:05:32   It's kind of great, right?

00:05:34   Mm-hmm.

00:05:35   So there you go. People are struggling.

00:05:38   Yeah, it was a good... I talked about that subject on podcasts a lot and realized I hadn't written anything on it. And I just kind of wanted to get that down. The idea that I see the conundrum of having a new feature and wanting to turn it on, but also having it be something that's going to take people by surprise and confuse them.

00:05:54   And the sort of a follow-up to you and I have even talked about in the past, this idea of how do you get people to discover new features and finding better ways to sort of prompt a user and say, for example, "Hey, you just finished a video conference.

00:06:11   Did you know we have some new video conferencing features?" instead of, "Surprise, you have balloons," or trying to throw up a dialogue box when you're starting your meeting, which is the last time you want to stop and read a dialogue box.

00:06:24   It's the eternal problem, right, of people will say, "Your features aren't discoverable," or, "Your features are getting in the way."

00:06:34   Yeah.

00:06:35   But the thing is, this is Apple's problem to solve.

00:06:39   It is not an easy problem.

00:06:40   But they have to find a way to solve it. This is the job, right?

00:06:43   That is the job. And I think that they need to take pride in the fact that the user experience is a priority for them, or it's supposed to be, and they need to find ways.

00:06:54   I feel like with Tip Kit, which they introduced this year-

00:06:56   Which is a great feature. I love it.

00:06:58   Yeah. I feel like they're heading down that path, but the video effects is a really good example, a really good use case of what was the decision.

00:07:09   Basically what I'm saying is I think this is a class at Apple University, right, which is like, "What were the features? What was the decision that was made? What are the other options? What was the user reaction? Could we do this better next time?"

00:07:21   I really like Tip Kit, but I have a piece of feedback about Tip Kit, too. I wish there was a way for apps to know I've already done the thing before.

00:07:28   Right? Like, I'm getting a lot of tips and apps that I've been using for years, and it's like, "I know how to do this thing. I've done it already."

00:07:35   Yeah.

00:07:36   That's a one-time frustration for the benefit of everybody else.

00:07:40   I think that can be done, but the problem is the apps have to track that behavior.

00:07:45   They don't.

00:07:46   And if they didn't track it before, but I've had that same thing where I open an app and it's like, "Hey, did you know you could do this thing?" It's like, "I do that every day."

00:07:54   But as I said, if we have to endure that one time, but it makes it better for everybody else, we will die on that hill. You know what I mean?

00:08:02   We will take that sacrifice for-

00:08:05   Yeah, it's fine. I get it, right? Because if it's a feature I use every day, it's obviously a great feature, and they're concerned that people don't actually know that it exists. Like, yeah, you should tell them.

00:08:15   Okay, so there's the new Apple Pencil.

00:08:19   Pencil news! Pencil news!

00:08:21   Let me give a quick recap for how we got here, starting from last week's episode to now, because I do think there's some interesting context here. So on last week's episode, we spoke about the many and duelling reports over whether there would be any new iPads debuted in the week to come. So last week.

00:08:39   9to5Mac were very confident that there would be new iPads, but it did not come to pass. Mark Gurman was very firm in saying there would not be new iPads.

00:08:48   Mac Otakara said that there would be a new Apple Pencil only, and that's exactly what we got. I think I imagine, I think I remember me and you being like, there's no way that's the case, because it doesn't make any sense. We'll get to that in a minute.

00:09:00   However, Mac Otakara said that they, that this pencil would have new magnetic tips, which it did not.

00:09:07   Nope.

00:09:08   The new Apple Pencil itself looks like the Apple Pencil 2. It will attach magnetically to an iPad, but does not charge. It includes a USB-C port under a sliding cap, has no pressure sensitivity, does not have the double tap feature, but does support Apple Pencil hover. That's the state of play as we are today.

00:09:28   Yeah, it's basically Apple Pencil 1.5 or, you know, 2 minus, because it looks like an Apple Pencil 2, but it's like 2 minus some features, but it's also minus some features that are in the Apple Pencil 1. So it's very weird. It is really Apple Pencil Lite, I think is where we're headed here.

00:09:44   And there probably will be a third generation pencil, and that will probably be Apple Pencil Pro, essentially. And then we'll have the two. It's, yeah, this is, I laughed when I saw this announcement because it is both sort of like what was reported.

00:10:00   Obviously, they had some information that was right, and that Nakada Kara report was like, "There's just going to be an Apple Pencil," on its face, absolutely correct. However, there was this thought of like, "Well, it's going to be a third generation Apple Pencil, obviously."

00:10:14   And it's like, "Oh no, who could have predicted that it would be this thing that is less functional in some ways than the original Apple Pencil, but at least it doesn't have like a cap with a nub under it. It's just got a sliding out port."

00:10:28   I could imagine that there might be magnets in that cap. And so they were told it had magnets, and they just decided that it was magnetic tips, because that made the most sense or something.

00:10:37   Right, because you're filling in the blanks, and if you're not too diligent about it, or it could get mistranslated, or there's other things that it could be, but yeah.

00:10:44   It's interesting, like if we take a step back, what I like about this announcement is it's a new low-cost Apple Pencil that anyone can buy, right?

00:10:59   So like if you don't need, like I don't use double tab, and I don't use pressure sensitivity, right? I don't use those features.

00:11:06   I'm doing like podcast editing in ferrite. I don't use those features. So I could save money, and the only downside for me would be, because I can use this with an iPad Pro, the only downside would be I can't charge it on my iPad.

00:11:21   So if it's out of juice, I got to go find a USB-C cable somewhere and plug it in. That's the downside.

00:11:27   It is a, I mean, once you've used the Apple Pencil too, it's a pretty big downside. And like, it is why I to this day stand firm on, while inelegant, the original Apple Pencil, you could charge it all the time.

00:11:45   Right? So like, if you have a, if your iPad's battery is full, and you're out at a coffee shop with the new Apple Pencil, and it dies, unless you have a cable with you, you cannot charge it.

00:11:57   Because I'm sure you could probably charge it from a device, right? You wouldn't actually need to plug it in, just like cable to the iPad or the iPad, but you need a cable.

00:12:04   And so like, while inelegant, I still think that the Apple Pencil One was the best that could have been done at the time. And like, and I would argue that this, whatever this is, the, what are we, what are we actually going to call this product?

00:12:19   Well, for now, it's the USB-C Apple Pencil.

00:12:21   The USB-C Apple Pencil, I'm not sure that it is practical. I actually, no, I don't think it's practical as a design. I think that people think they want this, right? So you don't have the little cap or whatever.

00:12:36   But I actually think that this is a worse design from a charging perspective, like a usability perspective.

00:12:42   It's a compromise, right? And it's funny, because we've been talking about like, what would a compromised Apple Vision non-pro be?

00:12:50   And the compromises are all about like, what's core to this product versus what can we get away with dumping, even though it makes it less nice?

00:13:01   And being able to charge when you're with the device is a, I mean, from the day they announced the first Apple Pencil, like that was fundamentally part of the device, right?

00:13:12   Is you're out with your iPad, your pencil is this tiny thing with a tiny battery, it runs out of battery. What do you do? You just plug it in for a minute and then you're good to go.

00:13:21   And when they made this version of the pencil, they tossed that, right? They said, okay, yeah, it is nice to do that.

00:13:31   I don't think, personally, I don't think this is Apple abandoning that concept.

00:13:35   It might be, but my guess is not because being able to charge it wherever you are without having a cable is a really nice feature.

00:13:44   But I can also see how they threw it overboard for two reasons. One is to make a cheaper pencil and two is because they have some iPads that can't charge that way,

00:13:54   like the 10th generation iPad they introduced last year, for which this seems to be the perfect pencil. However, it came a year later, which is so weird. So weird.

00:14:07   I'm just realizing, because maybe I've forgotten this. Before the 10th generation iPad, what pencil were you supposed to use?

00:14:16   Oh, you use Apple Pencil 1.

00:14:18   But there was a wiggly janky lightning to USB-C adapter. Yeah.

00:14:22   Yeah, so what happened here then? Like why is this product now, why is it so late, right?

00:14:34   Yeah, yeah, yeah. I don't, other than Apple maybe being like, look, we just ship them when we're done.

00:14:42   We ship them when we got them and then we'll figure it out later.

00:14:44   But it seems weird that one, the iPad Pro or the iPad 10th generation shipped, think about that one, right, for last year, shipped at a higher price than people expected.

00:14:57   They had to keep the ninth generation price in the line because the 10th is just too expensive.

00:15:02   The 10th has all these features that don't exist in the rest of the iPad product line, and it's got this janky adapter in order to use the Apple Pencil with it.

00:15:12   And from the perspective of today, I have been thinking for the last week, why did this pencil not ship last year with that product?

00:15:20   Because it would be a much better fit. It would make much more sense. It would be much more elegant.

00:15:24   All right, here's my counter that I've been thinking about today, which is why did the 10th generation iPad ship other than that it was ready?

00:15:33   Because like it wasn't going to fill the spot of the ninth generation.

00:15:36   It made all the other iPads kind of look bad because they were making some updates and upgrades and changes.

00:15:42   And would it have been possible to delay it six months and have it ship with this pencil?

00:15:48   Again, there's probably a good reason. It might even just simply be we had to deprioritize it.

00:15:54   It might be that they got a lot of feedback about their pencil strategy. I kind of don't believe it.

00:16:00   I think they knew that it was a compromise and they just weren't ready to supply a replacement yet.

00:16:05   But something very strange happened here that these two products that seem almost made for each other got released a year apart.

00:16:14   Do you think this could have been... No, that doesn't make any sense.

00:16:19   I was just going to say, could it have been something to do with the USB-C changeover?

00:16:23   But they'd already decided that for the iPad. So it's not that.

00:16:26   Right. They had a USB-C iPad, but they didn't have a USB-C pencil for it that charged by a method that wasn't induction.

00:16:33   And the new iPad didn't have induction. So they had to use the old pencil that had a port, but it was the wrong port.

00:16:40   So they had to do an adapter. Right. And it's like, what is happening?

00:16:43   We'll wait for the iFixit teardown, but it doesn't look, on the face of it, look like a complicated product. Right?

00:16:50   Like it doesn't... No.

00:16:52   I can't look at it and be like, oh, well, they must have had problems with this part of it.

00:16:57   You know, that may be delayed it. But yes, it obviously got deprioritized, but it's strange to me that they went to the length that they went to creating the new keyboard case for the iPad that kind of nobody was asking for.

00:17:12   When the Apple Pencil is, I think, maybe more of an important thing, especially because an existing keyboard design already existed that everyone was okay with. Right? The smart keyboard.

00:17:25   And I had to guess, I would guess that there is a real conflict, or there has been a real conflict between the people who are designing iPad hardware and thinking about where the iPad is going as hardware, and the people who are in charge of the sales channel for education.

00:17:43   That's my guess about what's the core of this. I could be wrong. I don't have any inside information, but that's my guess.

00:17:49   And you see it when the 10th came out and the 9th remained, because they had to hit a price point, especially for education.

00:17:56   I think there's the legacy of having lots of first gen pencils out there and having a lot of...

00:18:05   So it feels like the hardware people are ready to move into the future, but that the sales people and the market aren't ready for it.

00:18:13   But that's why I keep coming back to the 10th generation iPad feeling kind of unnecessary. Like, did it need to ship last October?

00:18:19   It gave them a new iPad to sell, and the fact is, it probably sold pretty well into general consumer market, right? Not education market, general consumer market.

00:18:27   But even for them, if they wanted to use the Apple Pencil, they had to have this weird adapter to do it. Something got out of whack there.

00:18:34   And of course it happened in the iPad product line, right? Because that's the other thing. First off, please note, no new iPads in 2023.

00:18:44   So that happened. The biggest iPad announcement of 2023, other than iPadOS, is this pencil.

00:18:52   And the iPad line is weird, right? Because it's got the Pro, but it's also got the Air, and the Air is a lot like the Pro.

00:18:59   And then it's got the feature mismatch, where there are different features in different places, like moving the camera, and that different accessory that you mentioned.

00:19:06   That's got the back plate with the kickstand, and then a separate attachable keyboard. Like, the iPad is all over the place.

00:19:14   And this year we had no clarity, because nothing changed except that there's this new pencil.

00:19:18   And so for this pencil to come in, again, it's just like Troy walking into the apartment with the pizza, and the apartment's on fire from Community.

00:19:30   That's what this is. The pencil is just minding its business. The pencil's like, "Hey guys, I'm a new pencil!"

00:19:36   And it walks into the house that's on fire, the apartment that's on fire, and goes, "Oh no!"

00:19:40   It's not the pencil's fault. I think this pencil is a low-end Apple pencil, essentially. It's fine. I would value other features of it.

00:19:49   All of our confusion and critical discussion here is actually nothing to do with the pencil. It's what the pencil indicates.

00:19:57   Yes, about the rest of the iPad.

00:19:59   So, you know what you just said there? Is this the first year since the introduction of the iPad that there has been no new iPad? I expect so, right?

00:20:09   I think so.

00:20:10   That's odd. That is very odd.

00:20:13   Right? And they have so many of them.

00:20:15   Yeah, they sure do. Let me quote from the article that you wrote about the Apple pencil, which wasn't really about the Apple pencil as well.

00:20:23   This is going to be great, because it's going to be in your deep voice, and it's going to make it sound very impressive.

00:20:26   "Still, it's hard to look at the shenanigans in the iPad product line over the last few years and not get the sense that things are kind of a mess.

00:20:34   This new pencil should have shipped last year with the 10th generation iPad. There's insufficient differentiation between the iPad Air and the iPad Pro, leaving old models aside.

00:20:44   It just feels like there are too many iPads, doesn't it?

00:20:47   It's possible that we're witnessing a reset, however. There hasn't been a single new iPad announcement this year, and given Tuesday's Apple pencil announcement, it sure feels like there won't be one.

00:20:57   Perhaps 2024 will bring us a new wave of iPads that will finally make the product line make more sense.

00:21:03   But don't get your hopes up too much. Apple will probably still keep selling some of the old models too. It's what today's Apple does."

00:21:11   Hmm. I want to believe that they're going to get the product line in order. But, and you know, it can be overstated, right?

00:21:22   Like, I think that those of us who are staring at the iPad product line when we think about this stuff are like, "It's confusing."

00:21:28   And that, I think we can overstate that, right? Like, consumers don't need a tidy, consistent set of products in order to buy a product.

00:21:40   But it helps, is the thing, right? Like, that's the line here is, I'm not saying that nobody's going to buy an iPad because they look at the iPad lineup and they say, "Nope, I'm confused. I'm out of here."

00:21:52   But having a lack of clarity or too much choice without clarity about how to make a choice, right, is not great for consumer behavior, right?

00:22:05   I think that a lot of people are like, "Hmm, I don't even know. iPad Pro, iPad Air." And sometimes you just say, "Forget it. I'm not going to worry about it."

00:22:12   And that's the bigger danger here is not that, like, all of us nerds are saying this should be a tidier product line.

00:22:19   It's more like, if you're a buyer, how do you choose what to buy if the product line is kind of all over the place and doesn't make sense?

00:22:26   You know, I'm going to stop you there because I think we need to come back to this in Rumor Roundup.

00:22:34   Okay.

00:22:35   Before we go from this segment, I do just want to read a succinct list of what friend of the show, John Gruber, would do to the iPad lineup.

00:22:55   Okay.

00:23:24   Pretty good list of stuff.

00:23:27   Yeah, I mean, I could quibble with some of the details there, but, like, what he's asking for is some clarity.

00:23:33   And again, this is the difference between saying, "I want a clean product grid because I'm an Apple nerd and it bugs me that things are out of place," and the, "I want consumers not to be confused about what the right iPad is for them."

00:23:48   The 9th gen iPad shouldn't exist and the price should be lower. Like, that is the easiest one to do, in my opinion.

00:23:55   Right. Well, I think, and I mentioned this in my article, I think that this is emblematic of Tim Cook, which is, I think Apple is less willing to budge on its margins in the short term, in the near term for a new product,

00:24:08   in order to, and is more willing to just keep an old product around in order to maintain their margins. And I feel like, and I'm not on the inside, so I don't know the details, but just my gut feeling from out here is

00:24:23   that there used to be a little more aggression in taking the hit to put the new product in there.

00:24:30   And now Apple doesn't want to take the hit. So they bring out an M2 MacBook Air and they keep the M1 in the line. They bring out the 10th generation iPad and they keep the old one in the line.

00:24:39   That said, you know, I also get that there's education customers who don't want to spend the extra money on it. And if you're not willing to lower the price, then this is where it gets us.

00:24:49   It's not just education, right?

00:24:51   Yeah, I think the education customers are driving it. But yes, it's in general, they're worried that they don't have an iPad down at that price. And I guess my counter argument would be embrace the fact that you improve the low end iPad.

00:25:06   And, you know, in a year, you're going to be able to bring the margins back to where you want them to be, but maybe take the hit in the meantime. And today's Apple's like, nope, we're not taking the hit.

00:25:15   That's why we make all the money is because we don't take the hit. We're just going to sell the old one too. And I get that. The iPad mini absolutely needs an update. The iPad Air needs an update.

00:25:25   I much prefer face ID to touch ID, but I also understand that if you want to say, look, touch ID is good enough for the iPad unless you're paying a lot of money.

00:25:37   I can see that argument, but the truth is that every iPhone has face ID at this point, right? So maybe that's what we should do.

00:25:45   All but one.

00:25:47   All but one. All but the one. So yeah, I mean, I would like the iPad lineup to be clearer. I feel like Apple does actually, is trying to get to a destination with the iPad.

00:26:01   But the problem is it moves very, very slowly and it's all kind of out of sync. I do think that there's probably more of a plan than we can see.

00:26:09   But when you're only updating these products every 18 months, you end up in this situation where everything like we get an outlier, like a 10 Gen iPad that is probably saying this is what the iPad is going to be more like in the future.

00:26:23   But the rest of it isn't ready yet. And again, but that one was, so they shipped it. So I don't know. It does feel like I said in my article, maybe there are too many iPads.

00:26:35   Part of the reason I say too many iPads is also that the more of them there are, the less clarity there is about what is this iPad for.

00:26:42   At the end of the day, if you're thinking about buying an iPad, you want to be able to look at the product line and say, what's the right iPad for me?

00:26:49   And if there's a lot of crossover and there's a lot of variety of like, well, this does this thing, but this does this other thing.

00:26:54   And then these things are the same size, but this one has this slightly different feature. It starts to get confusing.

00:27:02   And that's bad for consumers, which I think is the only, like the neatness of the product chart on the corporate report is irrelevant.

00:27:11   The confusion in consumers though, is a problem.

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00:29:00   I can just do the exercise and progress. I think that's really cool.

00:29:03   Personalized training of this quality can be expensive. Fitbod is just $12.99 a month or $79.99 a year.

00:29:09   But you can get 25% of your membership by signing up today at fitbod.me/upgrade.

00:29:16   So go now and get your customized fitness plan at fitbod.me/upgrade.

00:29:21   That is F-I-T-B-O-D.me/upgrade and you will get 25% off your membership.

00:29:27   Thanks to Fitbod for their support of this show and Relay FM.

00:29:32   So we're into Rumour Roundup now and we're back to duelling news of a product announcement.

00:29:39   Oh, the mystery is continuing.

00:29:41   It's continuing. In his Power On newsletter, Mark Gurman is reporting that Apple is getting ready to announce new Macs literally at the end of the month, either October 30th or 31st.

00:29:54   Gurman is expecting an update to the 24-inch iMac and maybe the MacBook Pro, but it is unclear from his reporting at least what these updates will actually be.

00:30:05   In Mark's report, he also talks about how Apple have wanted to update the iMac sooner but haven't been able to get it done.

00:30:14   Similarly, they've been kicking the can down the road on a new 32-inch iMac Pro, but current estimates put this as a 2024-2025 product.

00:30:24   Ming-Chi Kuo is reporting that he expects no new Macs or iPads to launch in 2023.

00:30:31   Ming-Chi Kuo says the iMac will get its update in 2024.

00:30:35   Wow. Disagreement.

00:30:38   Again, Mark was right last week, so I don't know.

00:30:44   Yeah, something is going to happen. I think something is going to happen.

00:30:50   You feel it in your bones?

00:30:52   I feel it in my bones, yes.

00:30:54   Do you feel it in your email inbox or in signal messages or what?

00:30:59   Well, look, it's always hard this time of year to say, are things being updated for holiday promotions or are things being updated for new Apple products at Apple retail?

00:31:15   But it seems like there are updates coming in Apple retail, and I've seen some reports of this.

00:31:23   I have a theory. I'm going to give you my theory.

00:31:26   Give me a theory, Jason. I want it.

00:31:28   Because this is like last week where we're forced by conflicting reports to guess about what will happen.

00:31:36   And last time we got a very weird Apple pencil, so who knows what we're going to get this time.

00:31:40   But here's my theory.

00:31:42   You made a theory.

00:31:43   We're going to get. Let's assume that Germin is right and there's going to be an iMac and maybe a MacBook Pro update.

00:31:51   What would those even be? Here's my theory.

00:31:53   iMac, after all this time, I am going to make the be prepared for disappointment guess and say it's an M2 iMac.

00:32:03   That would suck.

00:32:04   Not an M3, an M2 iMac.

00:32:09   So it's the end of the iMac.

00:32:11   The end of the M2 cycle is the iMac instead.

00:32:15   And it's just an update.

00:32:17   Maybe there's an M2 Pro version, alternately.

00:32:22   But, you know, that would be the silver lining of that, I think.

00:32:27   Right.

00:32:28   Because they could do new M3, right? But it feels like maybe the M3 is just not, now is not the time.

00:32:32   If they put an M2 Pro in the iMac, like that would, I think maybe be more exciting than just putting an M3 in it.

00:32:41   Yeah, I agree.

00:32:42   So, you know, that would be good.

00:32:44   That would be worth doing and then like reshuffling where the iMac is in the refresh cycle.

00:32:51   Yeah, yeah.

00:32:52   And it gets it updated and out there and it's not a high priority for Apple, obviously.

00:33:00   And then they worry about the M3 later.

00:33:03   But if that's the case, if the M3 isn't shipping yet and it's an M2 iMac, what is this MacBook Pro update that we're hearing about?

00:33:11   Yeah, I can't get my head around that at all.

00:33:13   This doesn't make any sense to me.

00:33:15   Here's the thing I made up in the shower this morning.

00:33:17   Are you ready?

00:33:18   Yes.

00:33:19   It's covered in soap.

00:33:21   They're selling, the MacBook Pro comes with soap.

00:33:24   It's so slippery.

00:33:25   Oh, here's my theory is it's a redesigned 13-inch MacBook Pro that's still an M2 but doesn't have the touch bar anymore.

00:33:33   And it's more, it looks more modern.

00:33:35   It's got the curved edges and stuff like the high-end MacBook Pros, but it's still just the cheap 13-inch MacBook Pro.

00:33:41   Hmm.

00:33:42   Right?

00:33:43   So not a new chip, just no touch bar.

00:33:49   It's the, we're going to make this thing look like the 14 and the 16 now.

00:33:53   And maybe a display update or something that makes it nicer.

00:33:58   Maybe it's got an HDR display or something like that.

00:34:00   Do you think they're going to keep that?

00:34:02   That's my, I think they are.

00:34:05   I think they want to have that low-end MacBook Pro.

00:34:08   And that low-end MacBook Pro design has not, literally has not changed since 2018, right, when they introduced the touch bar.

00:34:14   It's been the same.

00:34:16   2018, right?

00:34:17   Is that right?

00:34:18   Or was it before then?

00:34:19   Anyway, it's since the bad time.

00:34:22   You know, I would say I just went to the store because I forget the prices of all this stuff, right?

00:34:27   Like it's so hard to keep track of it all.

00:34:29   And I can see why they keep it in the lineup.

00:34:31   It's like a $700 difference between the start and the prices.

00:34:34   Oh, it's enormous.

00:34:35   MacBook Pro starts at $2,000 except for the 13-inch, which starts way less.

00:34:40   So it's the, what happened is they introduced the MacBooks with touch bar, but they kept around the MacBook Escape, right?

00:34:47   Which didn't have the touch bar and then eventually it got the touch bar.

00:34:50   And that is this thing that is still kicking around.

00:34:52   So that's my best guess.

00:34:53   And again, it's based on the premise of what could a MacBook Pro update look like if there are no new chips?

00:34:59   What would it be?

00:35:00   And that is my best guess is it's just a rejiggered 13-inch model.

00:35:07   So it's like a chunky MacBook Air, right?

00:35:10   It's like a chunky MacBook Air.

00:35:12   Visibly.

00:35:13   It's the same size, but a bit thicker.

00:35:15   Yeah.

00:35:16   And maybe it's only M2 Pro.

00:35:21   And maybe it's, so it's got ports that, you know, it's got things that it could do that the Air couldn't do.

00:35:29   But yeah, basically that's what it is.

00:35:30   Chunky MacBook Air.

00:35:32   I would say while there is a, it's a peculiar product.

00:35:36   I mean, the fact that it's still in the lineup is peculiar, right?

00:35:39   Like it's similar to what we were just talking about, but there's price, whatever.

00:35:43   This would make more sense to me than anything I can imagine that they would do to the existing 14 and 16.

00:35:51   Oh yeah, that's just it.

00:35:52   I don't think there's anything for the 14 and 16 to do except get an M3.

00:35:56   Right?

00:35:57   And I feel like we're not there.

00:35:59   'Cause the M2 ones came out this year, right?

00:36:02   Yeah.

00:36:03   Yeah, so I can't imagine they would go all the way to M, when we haven't seen an M3 chip.

00:36:09   So imagine a new 13-inch MacBook Pro that has a new design, maybe an upgraded screen,

00:36:18   and I think the way you do this is, and an M2 Pro chip in it, which means it gets, it can have more ports.

00:36:25   It differentiates itself from the MacBook Air in a bunch of different ways, while still being way cheaper than the $2,000 laptops.

00:36:33   Jason, it's gonna start at, it's gonna start, where is it gonna start? Let me see.

00:36:40   It will start at $1499, and the existing MacBook Pro 13-inch will remain in the lineup.

00:36:47   That's what's gonna happen.

00:36:48   You know, I was gonna say the same thing.

00:36:51   I was gonna say, we're gonna, we were like, yes, finally we got rid of the 13-inch MacBook Pro, and Apple's gonna go, "Eh, eh, eh, not so fast."

00:36:58   Or like, oh, we bring that one down now in price. That one's now $1099.

00:37:02   No, I don't think so. I think it stays at $1299, but they make a-

00:37:06   I was kidding. I really hope that that doesn't happen.

00:37:08   Like, genuinely, to me, if they do this redesign and keep the old one around, it feels pointless. Like, just keep it.

00:37:15   It would be, like I said, it would be the ultimate kind of Apple move of like, yeah, we finally replaced that thing you wanted us to replace, except it's not going away. It's still there.

00:37:24   Like, why did you do that?

00:37:25   From my perspective, Apple needs to be doing a better job of convincing the 13-inch MacBook Pro customers that they actually want a MacBook Air.

00:37:32   Because, like, by and large, that's what you want, but you don't know that. I believe.

00:37:41   Like, the 13-inch MacBook Pro, it has what, a little bit more ports and it has a touch bar? Like, the MacBook Air is so good and so powerful and so thin.

00:37:53   Like, I would expect most customers, that's what they should be using, but they just don't know that.

00:37:58   So, if I had to guess, what I would say is, redesigned hardware available as an M2 for $1299, the current price point, with super stripped-down specs and really unpleasant, but new, not the old design.

00:38:15   But that M2 Pro starts at $1499, and that's the one you really want, and that's their upsell. Something like that.

00:38:23   I don't know. The, yeah, this is the, finally, give this thing an update because it's not been updated.

00:38:31   Anyway, that's my theory. I have no information about this. I just want to be clear. I'm making this up.

00:38:37   That's good. The Discord is rightly correct to me that the 13-inch MacBook Pro actually has fewer ports than the MacBook Air.

00:38:43   Like, really, like, that is what you want.

00:38:45   Doesn't have Mac save.

00:38:46   Like, the MacBook Air, in my opinion, best Mac ever made. That's the Mac you want. Like, it's so good.

00:38:52   So how do you differentiate? And the answer is, well, yeah, it's a chunky MacBook Air that can have a Pro chip in it,

00:38:57   and now finally doesn't have a touch bar, and finally does have MagSafe, and supports, if you buy the Pro configuration,

00:39:04   supports multiple external displays and, like, all the things you want that go beyond that base that's in the MacBook Air.

00:39:13   That's, that's, I mean, makes sense. Makes sense if you think about it. Not, and then again, this goes back to saying, like,

00:39:23   there are Apple nerds who are concerned about the tidiness of the product line versus there's just, like, the business of selling computers that Apple is in.

00:39:30   And I think about this with this, too, is we all want to have Apple product announcements that are, you know, entertaining, exciting,

00:39:39   make us really thrilled about new developments and all that. But part of the job of selling computers, a lot of computers in a Mac product line,

00:39:48   is just keeping it, you know, keeping them updated, keeping and making them available for sale. They're not always going to be exciting updates.

00:39:55   And that's why I'm saying, like, it, an M2 iMac at the very end of the M2 cycle and an M2 13-inch MacBook Pro are not ever going to be exciting products,

00:40:11   but they tidy up the Mac line, get those slots refreshed, and allow Apple to move into 24 and start rolling out M3 Macs.

00:40:21   So I think I wouldn't be disappointed by either of those moves because I really think the iMac should get updated, especially if it got a Pro chip option.

00:40:30   That would be awesome. And I love that iMac, and I want it to be better, and I want it to be updated.

00:40:35   And I don't like that base model 13-inch Pro, and if they finally kick it to the curb, that's going to be awesome.

00:40:40   But, like, is it an exciting update that makes you very thrilled about the future of the Mac? Well, no, that's not what it's for.

00:40:48   It's tidying. It's maintenance. It's just something that needs to be done.

00:40:53   You know, last thing I want to say on this, and we can move on, but I feel like maybe the MacBook Pro is suffering from the similar problem that the MacBook Air did,

00:41:06   which is, like, the brand recognition is so strong that people want the MacBook Pro, even though they don't necessarily need.

00:41:17   I firmly believe that the reason that that 13-inch MacBook Pro exists at all is not just because of corporate buyers, although it is that, too, but it's also the brand recognition.

00:41:27   Some people, whether they're corporations... But I feel like the corporate buyers is a similar thing, right? They're like, "We want a MacBook Pro for our employees, and what's the cheapest one we can get?"

00:41:34   Some people don't want to buy a non-Pro, and they think about the MacBook Air as, like, that's for consumers, that's the little one that's going to be lesser.

00:41:41   And even though this 13-inch MacBook Pro is not really lesser than the MacBook Air, it fills the slot, it's got the name, and that's why it exists up to now.

00:41:53   But yes, wouldn't it be nice if Apple gave that thing a redress to be somewhere in between the M2 Air and those 14-inch models?

00:42:02   And was something in between more expensive than the Air, more capable than the Air, but not, like, one step behind in hardware design like the current model is?

00:42:14   All right, Mark Gurman agrees with Ming-Chi Kuo that there'll be no iPad refresh this year.

00:42:22   Gurman expects iPads to come in March, where we'll see an update to the iPad, the iPad Air and the iPad Mini, along with a revamp to the iPad Pro, but it's not completely clear that this iPad Pro revamp will actually make it in March, but that's the earliest he would expect to see it.

00:42:41   And Digitimes is reporting that Apple is working on a 12.9-inch iPad Air.

00:42:47   More iPads.

00:42:49   This report would mirror what 9to5Mac was talking about a couple of weeks ago, that there would be multiple models of the iPad Air in future, but they didn't have any information on it. They just heard that there'd be multiple.

00:42:59   Digitimes says that this would be an LCD display, obviously, not a mini-LED.

00:43:04   If this happens, what happens to the iPad Pro, do you think? Do you think that the iPad Pro will start at 12.9?

00:43:15   Okay, so because Apple really likes reusing products, part of me thinks the Pro and the Air will parallel themselves, parallel each other in size, because it means that they can design one or two for two sizes Magic Keyboard.

00:43:35   If they do that, they better have a really good reason for why you'd want an iPad Pro.

00:43:41   Well, it's going to be, you know, HDR OLED with Face ID and I don't know what else, but it'd probably be the display primarily.

00:43:54   Maybe the processors too, be a newer generation of processor.

00:43:59   Yeah.

00:44:00   But you're right. If differentiating on size is not necessarily, I don't think they want to differentiate on size, because I think they want to reuse accessories.

00:44:10   I would wonder though, the fact that they never updated the display on the 11.

00:44:15   Yeah, it does make you wonder if it could go away.

00:44:18   It might suggest that they never planned to update the screen on the 11.

00:44:22   And there's some big iPad rumors out there, right? So it's possible that it'd be like 12.9 and then like 14 or 15, a mega iPad Pro for artists or iPad studio or whatever, right?

00:44:33   It's possible. It's hard to predict what Apple's going to do with the iPad, right? Because we're already so baffled about the iPad that we don't really know what they're going to do.

00:44:43   I wanted to say also Gurman's report about an update to the iPad, full stop, right?

00:44:48   What is, are they going to do an 11th generation iPad?

00:44:52   Yeah, I don't know. Maybe they're just going to put an M2 in it.

00:44:56   Well, the base model is not, right?

00:44:58   Yeah.

00:44:59   Base model is not. Base model will be an A series something, right?

00:45:03   Oh, does the iPad have an A chip in it?

00:45:07   Yes.

00:45:08   I forgot. All right, then they'll put the, what they're going to put in the mini, which is the A whatever, 16 bionic or something.

00:45:12   Yeah, yeah.

00:45:13   But I just don't know why. I don't know why.

00:45:16   I don't know what that update is since they just updated it a year ago and they still have the ninth generation in.

00:45:21   Are we going to get in a situation where they're going to kick the 10th down and kick the ninth off the price list and then have a new 11th?

00:45:29   And how is it differentiated from the 10th? Or do they just get rid of the 10th and keep the ninth around?

00:45:34   Or do they, I just, I don't know what's happening there. That is weird that those would get an update.

00:45:38   iPad mini absolutely deserves an update.

00:45:41   I think the question with mini for me is what does it look like?

00:45:44   Does it look like a small iPad or does it look like a small iPad Air?

00:45:48   My hope is that it looks like a small iPad Air, right? In terms of power and functionality.

00:45:54   Yeah, I would prefer it to do that.

00:45:56   But then you've got the stage manager problem.

00:45:59   You can't put stage manager on that. So it's actually worth keeping it on the A chips. There's a reason to say that's why it's not on there.

00:46:06   Yeah. Although you could say it doesn't work with stage manager because the screen's too small, but you can plug it in and it'll work with stage manager.

00:46:13   Yeah.

00:46:14   Do that.

00:46:15   I'm not sure. Yeah, I'm not sure. I don't think it, well, they could, but I don't think stage manager needs any more asterisks to it as a thing.

00:46:23   Yeah, I know. And yet they could do it. Like what's stopping them? We didn't really need more Apple pencils.

00:46:28   That's true.

00:46:29   And we got those. So anything is possible. But yeah, it's fascinating. I don't know.

00:46:35   I mean, those of us who observe the iPad as part of what we do for our livelihood, I think are all kind of fans of the iPad Air and the iPad mini.

00:46:44   As the sweet spots of this product line. I have a 12.9 inch iPad pro. I love it. It hasn't really changed very much in the last, you know, whatever since 2018 ish again.

00:46:56   But I love it. But the air keeps coming on. And so you have this question of like, if you take groupers advice and you make a face ID, then like what is in the iPad pro at that point?

00:47:08   And there better be some new things, whatever they might be. I'll just say it again. Ability to virtualize Mac OS on an iPad Pro would be a real nice differentiator.

00:47:20   And there are all those rumors that there's a new Magic Keyboard, right? And that's my other question is like, what is the new Magic Keyboard?

00:47:26   And is that something that is on the Air and the Pro or is it just on the Pro? I don't know. It's fascinating.

00:47:32   They got a lot. I mean, literally everything has to be updated next year. So here we go. I would also not be surprised if the Pro ended up not being until the summer.

00:47:42   Yeah. And finally, a rumor roundup from Mark Gurman. I'll read a quote. Apple is planning a new system for its retail stores that will update the software on iPhones prior to sale.

00:47:52   The company has developed a proprietary pad-like device that the store can place boxes of iPhones on top of. That system can then wirelessly turn on the iPhone, update its software and power it back down, all without the phone's packaging ever being opened.

00:48:08   The company aims to begin rolling us out to its stores before the end of the year. What year do we live in? This is wild.

00:48:18   This year.

00:48:19   This is wild.

00:48:20   And this is a little bit of follow-up because they talked about this on ATP last week too. And they seemed kind of like completely, yeah, like you. They're like, this is wild. How is this? What is this?

00:48:30   And I don't know. I looked at this and I thought, I could see it. I can see how this works.

00:48:34   No, I could see. It's an interesting idea, but it's bananas to me that it can. How does it turn them on?

00:48:42   So here's the concept. Here's the concept. Apple ships all the iPhones from the factory. They ship them in a very particular state of software where they are ready to be set up. They're in a setup mode, essentially. They're charged to like 80% and then they're put in the box.

00:49:04   So Apple controls that, right? So it's possible that Apple can do this so that if it receives a particular signal or if it gets a little ping from an NFC or from a wireless charge or whatever, like it gets it and it knows that it's the Apple signal.

00:49:25   It feels like there's some kind of Bluetooth low energy or whatever, like how they do with Find My, right? There's always something going on with the device, even when it's off.

00:49:33   Right. So when it's off, but in that mode, it is actually sitting there listening for a very specific signal, whatever means it is. And when it gets it, it is, and I don't even know if there's data transfer or if it's literally looking for a particular Wi-Fi connection, you know, that is controlled by Apple and at every Apple store and that every iPhone that's in that state can see that connection.

00:50:00   And all it uses that connection for is running software update and it runs the software update. It's completely headless, obviously. There's no screen. The screen's in the box. The box is closed and it says, do I need to do an update? Yes, I do.

00:50:14   It runs the update, it reboots and it goes back in that state and it powers itself down to almost nothing. And there was a lot of consternation on ATP about like, what if it doesn't, you can't do an update unless it's 50% battery.

00:50:27   And I'll say, first off, who made that rule? Apple. Who's willing to break that rule? Apple. Apple can break that rule. If Apple's confident that it doesn't actually need 50%, it just will. Apple could do whatever it wants. Right. So I think that that's what's going on here is they're going to charge the phone to a level where they're fairly confident that by the time it reaches a store, they can do this thing where they can wake it up and it's going to look around, get on the network because it's a known Apple network because it's an Apple retail store.

00:50:54   It'll do its update. And they might roll this out to partners at some point too, right? Where you set up this Wi-Fi in this way and then your phones will do this too and here's the pad and all that. But really, that's the only plan here is, is let's do a, let's, obviously they looked at the issue of having to make people, it's like what we said about making the upgrade to a new iPhone delightful. Well, software updates make it not delightful.

00:51:18   And as John Sirocuso pointed out on ATP last week, if they're going to do more shipping by boat instead of plane, the lag between OS versions is going to be even greater. So they, if Mark Gurman's report is taken as to be true, they have built in a system in the iPad or iPhone firmware that says, I can wake up, I can do a software.

00:51:42   I'm going to look for this network. I'm going to do a software update and I'm going to reboot and go back to sleep and I can do it all while I live in my little box before I get sold to anybody. And like Apple controls the whole process.

00:51:52   So I think that this is pretty straightforward actually. And I wouldn't worry too much. Like they ship those phones with a lot of battery in them. And this is, although this can take time, they're not even necessarily like lighting up the screen.

00:52:05   They're literally in the background doing a thing that Apple has built. So I think it's a cool idea and I don't, I don't think we need to overthink it. I think that this is Apple engineering a whole special state for a new iPhone that they can do something with in order to force a software update while it's still in the box. It's a great idea.

00:52:25   And one little bit of follow up mentioned by David shop in our, in our chat room, it's like, I kind of want iPhones to ship already connected to my Apple ID. Well, let me tell you, Amazon does that.

00:52:36   Amazon devices that you buy for yourself on Amazon, unless you tell them no, they come logged into your Amazon account. So I, it would not surprise me if the end goal of this whole thing for Apple is for that phone to arrive already prepped for your Apple ID.

00:53:00   I mean, you'd need to put in your password and verify and all those things, right? They want it to be secure. They don't want people stealing iPhones in order to get access to your Apple ID, but I could see ways where they could do some more personalization stuff right out of the box. But, you know, anyway, we'll see. But the idea of the software update is exciting.

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00:55:31   Our thanks to memberful for their support of this show and Relay FM. Let's do some upstream. A couple of upstream things going on. So Killers of the Flower Moon came out.

00:55:44   It's the new Scorsese DiCaprio movie that was originally started at Paramount and Apple bought it out and apparently cost like $200 million.

00:55:53   This movie is notable for a few reasons. One of them is the fact that it's got a full theatrical release before it comes to Apple TV Plus and Apple have so far not said when it's coming to Apple TV Plus, which I'm sure was the thing that was in the negotiations to convince people to go to the cinema and see it.

00:56:14   The problem is nobody's going to the cinema to see it. It had a low opening weekend of $23 million, which is not great for a $200 million movie, but kind of makes sense if people know it's coming to streaming and it's three and a half hours long and there is less people going to the movies these days.

00:56:31   So it's a low opening weekend mostly compared to its budget, but what I will remind people is the cinema take is essentially immaterial to Apple. I mean, it's money, but Apple wants to make a movie with Martin Scorsese and have it be on Apple TV Plus.

00:56:58   They want Scorsese to bring all of his next movies to Apple TV Plus, right? That's what they want.

00:57:03   They want him to be on Apple TV Plus. They want him to win Oscars, be nominated for Oscars, and Martin Scorsese wants his movies in movie theaters. So this is the agreement. Lots of filmmakers are like this. This is the only reason you'll ever see a Netflix movie in a movie theater.

00:57:26   Either the director says, "I want this to be in a movie theater," and they do it in order to keep the talent happy or because they want a particular, you know, be Oscar eligible or whatever. Those are the reasons.

00:57:37   But Apple, in the long run, I think Apple is more open to this, but I also think that theatrical, Julia and I talk about this a lot on downstream. The idea is it's money, right? The theatrical is money. It's also marketing, right?

00:57:51   You market the theatrical release, you get all the reviews and all of that. Then when you put it on your streaming service, everybody's like, "Oh, yeah. I heard good things about that. I've been meaning to see that. Martin Scorsese's new movie. Yeah. Oh, and now it's on Apple TV Plus. Okay, great." And there's a lot of benefit there.

00:58:06   Well, I might, I mean, I am the exact person who wants to see this movie, right? The pair of Scorsese and DiCaprio is like my dream pairing always. My favorite actor, my favorite director, they go together. I'm going to wait. I'll wait because it's so long.

00:58:22   Yeah. My understanding is I think there's a longer version that'll be on Apple TV. And that's fine because I'm at home, right? If they said this is a three and a half hour movie of an intermission, I would go to the cinema to see it. But I don't want to sit down for three and a half hours in the cinema without going to have a break. And I don't like using the bathroom in the middle of a movie. I don't like doing that, so I won't do it, but that's a long movie not to do that for.

00:58:46   So Apple would just put this on Apple TV Plus if they had their druthers, right? They would not care. So the low opening weekend kind of doesn't mean anything other than, I mean, it would be great if it were a huge hit and they had to hold it in and all that. But like this was a hard sell anyway, given the subject matter, given the length of the runtime. And the point here is to make Marty happy. That's the point. I hope he's happy and then it will pop up on streaming.

00:59:10   I've been seeing ads all over buses for this movie.

00:59:15   Yeah, they're all over the place, but I'm looking forward to it. I mean, it's reviewing well, but I mean, I'm just gonna have a great time when it comes out. It's like how I felt about the Irishman, right? Similar things like, oh, yeah, give me that movie at home. It's a million hours long.

00:59:29   Yeah, exactly right. So the game that Apple's playing here isn't theatrical at all, but there has to be a theatrical release and it doesn't really matter if it does well or not. It's a tough sell and here we are.

00:59:43   The problem with Jon Stewart has been canceled at Apple TV+. I'm going to read from Charles Bloom Moore at The Verge.

00:59:50   The New York Times reports that along with concerns about some of the guests booked to be on The Problem with Jon Stewart, Stewart's intended discussions of artificial intelligence and China were a major concern for Apple.

01:00:04   Although new episodes of the show were scheduled to begin shooting in just a few weeks, staffers learned today that production had been halted. According to The Hollywood Reporter, ahead of its decision to end The Problem, which is the name of the show, The Problem, I guess it became a problem,

01:00:19   Apple approached Stewart directly and expressed its need for the host and his team to be aligned to the company's views on topics discussed. Rather than falling in line when Apple threatened to cancel the show, Stewart reportedly decided to walk.

01:00:33   The Times' report doesn't detail what about the show's planned coverage of AI in China prompted Apple's executive leadership to butt heads of Stewart, but considering how pointed criticality is a big part of what ultimately made The Problem with Jon Stewart a hit for Apple TV+ and how maintaining and calling your relationship with China is crucial to Apple's future plans for growth, it doesn't come as a shock to see the show hitting the chopping block this way.

01:01:02   I just want to pull up one point. I'm not sure this show was ever a hit for Apple TV+. I think it got some viral steam for a few interviews, but that was all focused around the YouTube channel. I don't think that any of the interviews that went viral, you can go on the YouTube channel, you can see what I'm talking about.

01:01:24   There are videos like this is 100,000, 200,000, and there's videos like 3 million views, right? Like you can see which ones became popular that they broke out a bit. But I don't think this is ever a hit for Apple. And I mean, we spoke about it at the time, like, at least at the beginning, the show wasn't very good. Like, I don't know how it changed because I stopped watching it. What is your take on this news?

01:01:47   Well, I want to throw in one more reporting thing, which comes from Matt Bellamy at Puck who said, "My first question when I saw that the problem with Jon Stewart was scrapped on the eve of season three was what took this long and what changed.

01:02:00   Stewart already did two button pushing seasons of the show. According to sources familiar, Apple execs took more of an interest in topics last season. And when Stewart began discussing plans to delve into the 2024 political campaign, they voiced increasing concerns. So Stewart bailed. Pretty simple and relatively little drama."

01:02:17   So this is interestingly little drama part of this where it sounds like, okay, so a few things here. First off, you don't hire Jon Stewart and expect that you're going to be able to give him a corporate edict about what he can and can't talk about, right? And if Apple really did think that, then that's incompetent.

01:02:39   Which I don't believe.

01:02:41   You can't. But I will say, it was a big get to get Jon Stewart. It was like, "Oh, we got Jon Stewart, right?" Like prestige and everybody loves Jon Stewart. But the show, as you said, the show wasn't that great. It felt a little like he didn't quite know what to do. He didn't want to do the daily show. He didn't want to do Last Week Tonight, right? Jon Oliver, his former correspondent and guest host is already doing that show. So how do you do a show?

01:03:06   He was probably sweet talked as well, being like, "You can talk about your favorite issues." And he did the interview with the veterans who weren't getting support and 9/11 responders who weren't getting medical support and things like that, right? Advocacy things for him. And so they talked him into doing this. But the show wasn't that great.

01:03:25   And you get to a point, if you're Apple, where you're starting to think, "Well, wait a second. What are we getting out of this?" And this is what Bellamy says what took so long. It's like, if the numbers aren't very good and the prestige really isn't there so much, and all it's going to be is Jon Stewart bringing up issues that are going to make our thorny partners mad at us.

01:03:52   Even though it's not us, it's him. Why do we keep doing this? And so my guess is that they had a conversation, which is why Matt Bellamy says drama-free. My guess is that they have had a conversation that was more like, and I know that they picked it up for season three and people are like, "Aha!" But they didn't just cancel it. They picked it up and then canceled it.

01:04:12   Well, there's a lot of that happening in Hollywood right now. A lot of that happening where after the strike is over, everybody's taking stock of where they are now versus where they were and making changes and saving money.

01:04:24   Yeah. And I'll say, there's a thing to say like, "Oh, they're just getting ready to start." They're probably meant to have started months ago, right? So they're further down the line than would necessarily be expected based on contract and what was being produced and when it wasn't being produced.

01:04:42   My guess is based on Matt Bellamy saying relatively drama-free is that somebody, an executive, sat down with Jon Stewart and said, "Okay, Jon, I know we picked this thing up, but it's not really doing very well.

01:04:55   And your list of topics is just like a greatest hits list of things that we are very carefully managing relationships and they're going to give us black eyes and we told you we wouldn't interfere, but this really gives us concern."

01:05:15   And my read on this based on the drama-free report from Matt Bellamy's sources familiar is that it was one of those things where Jon Stewart was saying, "I understand and I'm not interested in doing a show."

01:05:29   That Apple basically said, "Please, we'll keep paying you for this season, but we want you to back away from some of these issues. And if you don't want to do that, we can just walk away."

01:05:40   And Jon Stewart said, "Let's walk away." And that would be how you would do it that's drama-free.

01:05:46   But I will come back to the other point, which is Apple, I have a hard time believing that Apple was so deluded that they went into this thinking they could tell Jon Stewart what to say.

01:05:56   However, after a couple seasons where you're thinking this isn't really picking up viewers and it's really not getting us prestige and why are we still doing this, to then continue, especially if you had a problem and dealt with Fallout for some of the topics in season two,

01:06:10   you get to season three and you're like, "Oh, are we going to do this again?" And then you have a conversation.

01:06:14   And maybe the conversation isn't so much, "We need you to change your topics to suit us," as much as, "If this is where the show is going to go, we would rather just end it now."

01:06:27   And I come back to, again, Matt Bellamy saying, "Drama-free." It seems to be like, "John Stewart knew it wasn't working and they walked away," and that's the end of the show.

01:06:40   But yes, if this really is, fundamentally, if Apple is micromanaging Jon Stewart and telling him what topics to cover because they're sensitive to Apple, if that's the case, that's incompetence on the part of Apple, because you don't hire somebody like this and then not give them editorial freedom.

01:07:00   But again, I think in the end, if it was a hit and everybody loved it and was talking about it, Apple would give them all the editorial freedom because they would be benefiting. But once they're not benefiting you and you don't have that, that's when you go and say, "Look, you can either be a hit and tweak all of our source bots, or you cannot be a hit and not tweak them, but you can't be not a hit and tweaking them."

01:07:27   And Jon Stewart at that point was like, "Okay, let's just end it here."

01:07:31   That feels like a more practical read of the story to me. I mean, I have my biases, which might suggest that I don't want to think that Apple's just like bursting in the door and being like, "You can't talk about that."

01:07:42   And so this seems more to me realistic as a way that this might have gone down, especially because we know the show was not successful. And so as you say, at that point, why even continue?

01:07:57   And I'll just say, I've seen a lot of people online saying, "This is censorship." Yeah, but let's be real here for a second. Let's just think about this practically.

01:08:06   Apple is paying for the show to be made, right? They are paying for the show to be made. If they don't want to keep paying them anyway, and now we're also getting into things which are going to get us into trouble, why would they keep doing that?

01:08:20   And realistically, Jon Stewart can just go tell these stories somewhere else if he really wants to. Jon Stewart has not been censored by Apple.

01:08:31   Apple doesn't want to keep paying for the problem with Jon Stewart, so they've canceled the show, right? And all of these things can be true.

01:08:39   Welcome to the world of corporate-owned media, which is all media, basically. And this stuff happens all the time. And again, if you're successful, they'll let you say, like, first AT&T and now Warner Brothers Discovery, they let, my impression is they sure let Jon Oliver say pretty much anything he wants.

01:08:57   Because Jon Oliver's a great success for HBO. That's a successful show, and that's the difference. And here, like I said, I think the problem with Jon Stewart was always more valuable because Jon Stewart was part of Apple's sphere than it was that it was a hit show.

01:09:12   It was a great get. It was a feather in their cap that they signed him. I'd also say that I like Jon Stewart a lot, but I'm not sure how committed he is to this.

01:09:22   I mean, he was burned out by The Daily Show. He didn't want to come back and do something that was like The Daily Show again. And this show was struggling to find out what it wanted to be.

01:09:33   And again, he was in a position where I guess he wanted to do something. Keep in mind, he had an HBO deal that fell apart too, where they were trying to do something and it just sort of didn't work.

01:09:43   I think Jon Stewart, this is one of his challenges, is he doesn't really have to do anything, but he does want to do some things. But what? And how does he make that work?

01:09:52   And I think that that is going into this too, which by the way is why when there's this report that it's drama-free, I tend to believe it.

01:10:00   Because I think Jon Stewart, he probably has some empathy for his staff, although since they picked up the show, there's probably a payout and severance and all that for the staff.

01:10:12   But Jon Stewart fundamentally can just walk away if it's not a project that he wants to be involved with anymore. And it sounds like that's bottom line what happened here.

01:10:20   So I don't know, because literally Jon Stewart doesn't need to do anything. I'm sure he wants to, right? I'm sure he wants to do projects, but doesn't need to put up with anything.

01:10:34   So anyway, I think this is unfortunate in the sense that if you're Apple, you hire somebody like this and you got to just say, look, they had editorial independence and you should just accept that.

01:10:48   At the same time, if you're Apple and the show isn't really working for you on any other level and you see you're just going to get more trouble, that's when you go to Jon Stewart and you say, this isn't working.

01:11:00   And we can make this more dramatic if we want it to be, but it sounds like it really wasn't that dramatic.

01:11:08   And yes, as you said, this is a big corporation paying for this content and all the big corporations do this and all of them have these issues.

01:11:22   And yes, Apple's relationship with China is absolutely going to be a lens through which Apple sees the world and makes decisions based on it. And we should all be aware of that too.

01:11:32   That's absolutely the case. That is the way. I'll also say, remember Expensive NBC? Remember that report?

01:11:39   I was just thinking of that exact quote myself.

01:11:41   Right. Which was by the way, by Trip Mickle, my favorite writer. He's the one who reported about Expensive NBC back in the day.

01:11:49   Didn't he break this exact story at the New York Times?

01:11:53   Maybe so. Expensive NBC. So I'll just say also it's, who did you get the information from?

01:12:02   We always talk about that on this show. Well, who's the source? Why did they give it?

01:12:06   So that's my guess here is if Matt Bellamy is saying it seemed pretty drama free, it wasn't working, they decided to go their separate ways.

01:12:15   We're big Bellamy fans on this show. So I trust what Matt Bellamy says more than anybody else in this sphere.

01:12:25   Yeah. So the people who are breaking this, maybe there's no drama there, but if you're a producer on the problem with Jon Stewart and you were working on something about China or about the 2024 election or whatever,

01:12:38   and then Jon Stewart has an all hands meeting where he says, look, I talked to Apple executives, they're uncomfortable.

01:12:45   I'm uncomfortable with going on with without this. They're not really behind us. We're just going to walk away.

01:12:50   And that's the end of the show. I it would be very easy for me to be like, oh, man, Apple is censoring me because I was doing this story about China.

01:12:59   And that's why they came down on us. I was like, is that why? Is that exactly why? Is it part of a much larger picture?

01:13:05   That's where you get your expensive NBC for those who don't remember, which was a hit piece about Apple TV programming that said that Tim Cook was going to watch all the shows and read all the scripts and that it needed to not have any adult content on it.

01:13:18   And I believe there is an M dash F dash within the first 10 seconds of the morning show starting. It was very clear.

01:13:26   Yeah. And also the first scene of C.

01:13:29   Yes.

01:13:30   One of the more graphic things I've seen on television.

01:13:34   Very clearly not accurate. But what happened was somebody probably on Amazing Stories, which was originally calibrated to be for adults and then was taken by Apple TV.

01:13:45   But they wanted to be remember Amazing Stories. That one really did well ever come out.

01:13:49   It did. And then it was sunk beneath the sea. But the point there is that they recalibrated Spielberg recalibrated it with Apple for families.

01:13:57   And certainly the people who were working on it before this is my theory anyway, we're really mad that Apple had taken their more adult focus show and turn it into a more family focus show.

01:14:06   And so that's where expensive NBC came from is this idea that man Apple censoring us.

01:14:11   So consider the source.

01:14:13   But also I don't want to soft pedal the fact that Apple is a big corporation and their stuff that they don't want to wade into if they can avoid it because it's sensitive for them.

01:14:26   And that is not just true of Apple, but that is true of Amazon and it is true of Netflix and it is true.

01:14:33   It is true of Disney.

01:14:35   It is true of literally all of the big corporations that's going to happen.

01:14:40   And so so I'm not saying don't blame Apple here, but I'm saying if if this is your sort of shock moment where you're like, oh, I can't why I never write.

01:14:49   It's like, well, guess what?

01:14:50   This happens all the time and it's something you got to be aware of.

01:14:53   It's why certain movies don't get made because they're not going to get distributed in China.

01:14:57   Although lately nothing is getting distributed in China.

01:15:00   Therefore, that will change how they calibrate what they what they make.

01:15:04   This is just how the business of entertainment works.

01:15:08   Sometimes parts of general liver are cut out when they're broadcast here in the UK.

01:15:12   Oh, I know.

01:15:14   And they lean into that, right?

01:15:15   They they now make alternate joke clips to put in the UK version because what like depicting parliament isn't allowed.

01:15:26   I mean, the one I'm thinking he made some he made a lot of jokes about the queen after the queen died immediately.

01:15:32   Yes.

01:15:33   All right, John.

01:15:34   Thank you.

01:15:35   John Oliver loves to remind you that he's British and then also talk about the fact that he hates it, which is a very interesting mix.

01:15:41   I love John Oliver.

01:15:42   Absolutely.

01:15:43   That part I find to be quite frustrating, but hey, you know, nobody's nobody's no effect.

01:15:49   Jason Snow.

01:15:52   No, that's for sure.

01:15:53   By the way, just before we move on, host of the Daily Show is open.

01:15:59   Oh my God.

01:16:00   Can you imagine?

01:16:03   Pretty funny.

01:16:04   They were going to give it to Hasan Minhaj.

01:16:09   And then the New Yorker story came out about him fabricating his stories and it's kind of hard for a show that's about the news to have that as a host.

01:16:16   So apparently that deal fell apart.

01:16:18   So they're still looking.

01:16:19   John, don't do it.

01:16:21   He's back on the market.

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01:19:36   Let's do some Ask Upgrade questions to finish out today's show.

01:19:42   You're going to get across the line. We're going to drag you across the finish line, Mike.

01:19:45   We're going to do what you're going to make it.

01:19:47   Mimi asks, are you bothered by the fingerprints on your midnight MacBook Air? That was a big thing at the time.

01:19:52   You know, I am so tired of people talking about fingerprints and stuff. I am not even remotely bothered.

01:20:00   Are there fingerprints on it if I look? I guess so, but there are probably a lot at this point.

01:20:05   Don't care. Love the midnight MacBook Air. Love how it looks. Don't care about the fingerprints.

01:20:10   So no, no, absolutely not. Do not care.

01:20:13   This is in a similar vein, I think, from Jordi, who asks, last week you had a question from a listener about having the screen face up or down when you don't use a case, which made me wonder, do you use a screen protector?

01:20:25   Absolutely not. No case. No screen protector. I hate them.

01:20:29   Never met a screen protector I liked, you know?

01:20:33   I was visiting my mom and she has a screen protector on her phone. I was like using her phone. I'm like, oh, oh.

01:20:39   Here's the thing about screen protectors. I don't like how they feel, but also I wouldn't be able to not peel it off.

01:20:46   Like over time, you know, I'd like to start picking at it. I can't live my life that way.

01:20:51   Nope.

01:20:52   Don't like them. And anonymous asks, with the recent Apple Pencil announcement and otherwise somewhat odd updates or no updates at all to certain products over the course of the last year, do you think this could be a result of Apple putting the majority of their resources into Vision Pro?

01:21:08   And as a result, the other product lines are suffering for it. I know it's a strange question considering how massive Apple is, but if it's still true that their engineering teams are quite small in comparison to the company size, could it be a possibility?

01:21:22   I think the answer is more complex, right? I think that Vision Pro is probably part of it, but also it's everything else, right? It's COVID because they work way ahead.

01:21:42   It's COVID and disruptions to being back in the office. It's supply chain. It's probably things involving certain parts. Remember they had the legacy nodes thing for a long time where they couldn't get certain parts.

01:21:56   And I know that was a while ago, but again, it takes time for that all to clear. They are on a new chip process with this three nanometer thing from TSMC.

01:22:05   They may have staked a whole bunch of their future products to the three nanometer process, but they may have limits in what the volume is from that process, right?

01:22:16   There's inflation. There's lots of stuff. So I would say, I don't think we can point at one thing and say, this is why Apple's updates seem to be kind of off.

01:22:31   I think it's probably like a whole lot of stuff that's happened dating all the way back even into 2020 and the pandemic in terms of disrupting and that sometimes those echoes take a while to come through.

01:22:46   Is Vision Pro and all the stuff that they put into it part of it? Yeah, I think so. Although again, I got the impression that Vision Pro hardware has been done for a while now, and it really is the software that is still in process.

01:22:56   But still, there was a time when they were building Vision Pro as a product and that took resources away from other products.

01:23:02   I've been hearing this a lot, right? Like at the moment, it kind of feels like if there's anything that Apple isn't doing that somebody wants them to do, they're blaming Vision Pro.

01:23:11   And I'm not sure that this argument holds water in general. Like, I feel like they should have staffed up for this. It is a different product, right?

01:23:19   So they should have had some new people working on it. They're also a very large company. They can assign people as needed. I don't think that it is the bottleneck for the whole company.

01:23:27   Similar in the way to me, like kind of dubbed in as what we were just talking about. This idea when Apple was getting into TV that people were convinced that the company was not going to be focused on its laptops anymore.

01:23:39   Right, right, right. Too busy working on this script to the morning show to write a new, to do a new laptop. Sorry.

01:23:46   I know this is a little closer, but I've got to assume that they have people in the Vision Pro and Vision OS teams working on these products that aren't necessarily being taken from the iPad team.

01:23:56   But I don't know. If you would like to send us a question, that's it for Ask Upgrade now. It's over.

01:24:03   It is. It's over. You can send us your feedback follow-up questions at upgradefeedback.com. You can check out my writing at sixcolors.com and hear my podcast at the incomparable.com and here on relay FM.

01:24:13   You can listen to Mike's podcast, of course, here on relay FM. Check out his work at cortexbrand.com. You can find us on Mastodon. I am J Snell at Zeppelin.Flights. Mike is imike@mike.social.

01:24:23   You can also find us on Mastodon as upgrade@relayfm.social. And there are video clips made edited by Chip and distributed by Jamie on Mastodon, TikTok, Instagram, YouTube.

01:24:35   Upgrade Relay on those last three. We're on Threads, iMike and J Snell. Thank you to our members who support us with Upgrade Plus.

01:24:43   Thank you to our sponsors, Factor, Memberful and Fitbot. And most of all, thank you for listening and thank you, Mike Hurley, for surviving to the end of this podcast with your cold. I appreciate it.

01:24:55   Anytime.

01:24:56   Say goodbye, Mike Hurley.

01:24:58   Goodbye, Mike Hurley.

01:24:59   [Music]