Before every episode of The Vergecast I sit down, read through a bunch of news, and take a bunch of notes. It’s one of the most enjoyable parts of my week, and I started thinking it might be fun to do every day on the site. So, every chance I can, I’m sitting down and writing some notes on the news as though I’ll be talking about it later. Are you into this? Am I into this? I don’t know. But it’s fun to do! Give me some feedback and we’ll keep mutating this into something good.
MANY THOUGHTS ABOUT THE MAC PRO
- Apple came clean about the Mac Pro this morning, telling John Gruber, Lance Ulanoff, John Paczkowski, Matthew Panzarino, and Ina Fried that it will release updated Mac Pros next year, alongside a new Pro display.
- (When Apple put out the new MacBook Pros, it pointed people toward new a LG 5K monitor and told me it was out of the standalone display game. Then the LG display had some very silly problems. That can’t have sat well.)
- Panzarino’s story lays the issue bare: Apple bet on external expansion systems and parallel GPU architectures taking over pro markets, but none of that really happened. What did happen is big, heat-intensive single GPUs like the NVIDIA GTX1080 setting new bars for performance, and the Mac Pro as designed couldn’t deal with it.
Why did the current Mac Pro not work out? Apple made a bet on GPU parallelism that didn't happen. pic.twitter.com/1SXjXiaJ2Q— Matthew Panzarino (@panzer) April 4, 2017
- It is indeed bold of Apple to come right out and say they designed a product — and announced it with a lot of bravado! — around a bet that didn’t pan out, and then realized they needed to completely redesign that product for a tiny sliver of customers that needed something else.
- (Boldly out of character, at least. Other companies are direct about mistakes all the time. Google can’t seem to stop boldly launching new products based on random, weird bets and then killing them. Everything is a balance.)
- To me, the biggest question left unanswered is just... when? When did Apple realize it had “designed itself into a thermal corner” with the design of the Mac Pro? Why did it decide to just stay in that corner for literally years? And when did Apple decide to commit resources to a new machine? If the new Mac Pros aren’t coming until next year, that means the project to reboot them started relatively recently.
- Craig Federighi says the realization came “later than we liked” in the Mashable piece, so there’s that.
- And Rene Ritchie at iMore says this project started sometime last year, which is fairly recently.
- So was the previous plan based on the parallel GPU bet? Why didn’t Apple release any updates at all to the Mac Pro based on that bet in the three years the Pro was on sale, then? The only thing close to an answer is that Apple saw some pros moving to the iMac and thought everything would be fine.
- Has there ever been a product so deeply Osborned as this speedbumped old-design Mac Pro? It might be worth buying just for the collector value.
- If all Apple did was rush out a Hackintosh with GTX1080 support in the old cheese grater tower design, a lot of people would be very, very happy. Whatever the company is taking this long to develop has a pretty low bar to clear.
- At the end of all this, it really just seems like Apple thought people were fine with the iMac and MacBook Pro, didn’t want to throw resources at the Mac Pro, and got blindsided by the reaction of their most loyal fans who depend on high-end Macs when the Pro lingered and the MacBook Pro was a little weirder and slightly more underpowered than expected. So the course was corrected, and here we are.
- Of course, the company still thinks the iPad Pro is the future of personal computing. So.
- Speaking of iPads, Dieter reviewed the new one. iPad.
- Chris Welch reviewed the new Sonos Playbase. Buy one if you want to expand your Sonos system and don’t care about the missing future-proofing, buy something else in any other circumstance.
- Spotify finally broke down and agreed to restrict some music to its paid tier for two weeks. That’s a big change, but it was a long time coming — it’s entire reason Taylor Swift isn’t on Spotify. But the company got a compromise out of it: albums only get those two weeks of restriction, while singles will still be across the service. Feels like a good middle ground.
- Apple Music on Android was redesigned to match the iOS 10 Apple Music app, which is... surprisingly great now. I’ve switched to Apple Music, as has Micah Singleton. I have a whole piece about that to write one of these days. Someone make me do it.
- Meanwhile, Kanye’s The Life of Pablo went platinum due to streams. The big shift in music consumption isn’t coming, it’s here. It’s going to be really interesting to watch artists react to it; Drake calling More Life a “playlist” is just one tiny piece of it.
- Trump signed the bill allowing ISPs to share your data without permission. Hooray.
- FCC chairman Ajit Pai really sounds like net neutrality is next on his kill list. Is anyone surprised?
- Oath is going to be a delightful mess. More on this tomorrow.
- Samsung’s Tizen OS is not very secure. Who’d have guessed?
- Finally, August is selling a version of its smart lock that supports Z-Wave. This probably seems small, but in the grand Internet of Things story, these old protocols that require hubs are proving surprisingly durable.