MBW 762: Bring In the Technocrane

Beep boop - this is a robot. A new show has been posted to TWiT…

What are your thoughts about today’s show? We’d love to hear from you!

Those AirTag privacy features Andy was describing seemed odd. Why would I want my tag to start chirping when it’s out of range? I understand the issue of stalking, but you don’t want a plane full of checked luggage beeping.

Quite a nice use-case, I put a Tile in my bag, and it pings me when in range on the luggage carousel. Saves joining the scrum of people all looking for the same black Samsonite.

And he said anybody can NFC a tag and get owner contact details? And also disable a tag that isn’t theirs?

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I think Andy was mistaken about some of that stuff. I haven’t read up myself, but your points seem obvious and sensible enough that there must be something we’re missing.

Agreed. I was imagining sticking one in my expensive bike, only for someone to NFC scan the bike and disable the tag. What’s the point?

Being in on the Apple ecosystem is a disincentive too. I’ve tried Samsung SmartTags, might consider AirTags as we have Macs and iPhones in the family - but I’d miss shouting ‘Alexa/Google where are my keys?’ when I can’t find them. :crossed_fingers:t2:Tile can keep going.

These tight 60 minute presentations are a real treat. I used to skip most Apple events and just wait for the recap because they were so ponderous (let’s spend five minutes talking about user base growth; let’s watch a video of someone playing a game; etc.).

Since no one asked, I’ll offer some brief thoughts on the announcements:

  • Purple iPhone: I like it. In line with the idea of adding new colors in the spring like they do for accessories, and like Alex said a relatively inexpensive way to bump sales and interest among “normal” buyers (the tech crowd is probably going to just wait the few more months for the next model)
  • AirTags: I’m a Tile user (keys and AirPod charging case) and when those batteries die I’ll switch to AirTags. I would like a slim card version for the wallet. Otherwise I like the features, the privacy stuff, the replaceable battery, and the price (relative to competition).
  • Apple TV: Roku user here, but I am very curious about ATV-- the price is just appalling though. To Andy’s point this device is in the mushy middle. Apple is not doing a good job prosecuting their case for why I should pay a 100% premium over competition. Neither are they using their scale, resources, etc. to push these capabilities down into lower price points the way they have with the base iPad or with iPhone SE.
    You’re telling me that over the last five years they haven’t found a way to produce this device more cheaply? I am just kind of baffled by the strategy here. And like Andy said, I just don’t see the same energy for this device as I do for the rest of the lineup.
  • iPad Pro: excited for the upgrades here, especially the HDR and screen tech in the new 12.9". I love my 2018 iPad Pro 11, but since I got the 12 Pro Max I find myself using the phone more than I expected for looking at photos and videos; the screen is just so much better. If anything, I wish they went even farther with the iPad Pro and bumped up the pixel density from 265 to over 300. The software is still clearly holding back iPad.
    I have to think iPad OS will soon offer enhanced support for external displays, allowing more apps to fully utilize widescreen displays, and taking advantage of keyboard and trackpad support. I really wonder also if Apple is going to bring Final Cut to iPad.
  • iMac: I like the new 24" iMac. I was not personally disappointed because I was fully expecting just the 24" with an M1. The only question for me was the design, and I like it well enough. I have been a long time Surface user, but we recently inherited a 7 or 8 year old iMac that the kids use and it is slow enough now that we’ll be in the market for a replacement. I really wonder though whether to get an iMac or just get a Mac Mini since we have extra displays, keyboards, mice, headsets and cameras lying around the house. Am I willing to pay an extra ~$700 for the design and the premium touches like Touch ID, improved speakers, nicer screen, etc.? Maybe? For all the excitement this is just a replacement for the base iMac.
    This is not a lower end iMac or a cheaper iMac or Apple’s attempt to convert Windows users en masse. They showed a profile pic of the iMac next to the iPad (attached to the Smart Keyboard) and I just thought “Add a freaking touchscreen and a lower hinge to the base so you can pull the display down in front of you like Surface Studio!”. Even without a touchscreen I wish the base had a little more flexibility than just tilt. VESA is nice, but come on a little more flexibility would be appreciated.
  • Ted Lasso: loved the first season; a bright spot of sunshine in an otherwise fairly bleak 2020. I just finished binging Schitt’s Creek so I’m in need of something light and refreshing. Ted Lasso will fit the bill.

I was surprised about the complacency for the 24" M1 iMac. In 5 short months, our attitude towards the M1` system performance has gone from total awe to complacency. We are strange creatures – the performance of the M1 system is perfectly fine for a low-end iMac. FWIW, I think Apple will make a small speed increase in the clock speed of this processor: those 2 small fans should be fine for cooling the unit. We’ll know in a couple of weeks.

I loved Colleen Novielli’s comment that “the thermals are huge” in the existing [Intel] iMac and that Apple was one reason Apple could make the enclosure so much smaller. Rene scored this as a slam-back on the Justin Long Intel commercial. Fun! With manufacturers having difficulty supplying any chips, minimizing the total number of discrete components on the board is provides several kinds of advantage.

Is there really a good reason to be disappointed?

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I hope we didn’t come off as disappointed. Speaking for myself, I was just hoping to see some high-end Macs. I suspect we’ll see them in June.


This is the section related to what Andy was discussing. It does seem that these tags are not useful for tracking stolen devices, as they can be disabled by somebody else?

'AirTag is also designed with a set of proactive features that discourage unwanted tracking, an industry first. Bluetooth signal identifiers transmitted by AirTag rotate frequently to prevent unwanted location tracking. iOS devices can also detect an AirTag that isn’t with its owner, and notify the user if an unknown AirTag is seen to be traveling with them from place to place over time. And even if users don’t have an iOS device, an AirTag separated from its owner for an extended period of time will play a sound when moved to draw attention to it. If a user detects an unknown AirTag, they can tap it with their iPhone or NFC-capable device and instructions will guide them to disable the unknown AirTag.'

If an Air Tag is put into lost mode they cannot disable it.

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So I disable your tracker before I steal your device, and not after! Got it!

Apple has a gaggle of iPhones for various price ranges. Ditto for iPads. Not so much the iMacs. Honestly, had there not been an entry price iMac when I bought my first non-PC, I probably would have stuck with the PC. The blazing fast M1 chip is great for those who need it, but for someone just looking for an iMac for the family to use, has Apple decided that is what the iPad is for now?

Over the course of the past several years, it seems that Apple has decided to cater more to the “pro” user, as far as computers are concerned.

I’d like to see a $999 iMac as well, but I think Apple would say if you’re looking for an inexpensive Mac then you can get a Mac Mini-- which I’m thinking about. We have a 7 or 8 year old iMac that is ready for retirement, and I’m thinking maybe I just get a Mini to pair with peripherals I already have lying around the house.

I’m not sure Macs are any more pro (or simply premium) focused than they used to be. Honestly I haven’t tracked their prices carefully but it seems like the starting iMac was always over $1000, and quickly jumped once you got a reasonable amount of RAM or storage. Maybe the original Mac Mini came in at $500 some fifteen years ago, but even that quickly escalated once you got reasonable RAM and storage, easily eclipsing the prices of comparably equipped Windows desktops.


Honestly, if you look on the apple webpage, you’ll see brand-new 21.5" iMacs for $1099. And if you look under the refurbished section, you’ll see iMacs under $900. Refurbs are fine machines; they come with the same warranties as new units. I wouldn’t buy an Intel Mac today, but they are definitely still available.

If you think comparably-equipped Windows machines are are actually comparable, you should buy and use them. If you think Macs are superior, then I’d get an M1 Mac Mini to refresh your old iMac. I’d go with 16GB of memory and 512GB of storage, but YMMV. You can always throw more external storage on later. IMO, the only real feature you’d be missing from M1-land is the Touch ID, but you can address that in the future by getting one of the new Touch ID wireless keyboards. Buying an M1 processor should maximize the useful life of your new machine.


Agree 100% on all points.

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Hey Leo, I suspect this is the first step of many, I do not think Apple will only have two events, they will probably have more and build anticipation up for the iPhone event. The pro stuff will probably come closer to the iPhone event.

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Air Tags are not meant to prevent theft. If you plan to steal whatever it is attached to you could just as easily pull it off and throw it away.

Well if complete strangers can take control of it (as implied) why not steal it too… :wink:

I think you’re right.

The VanMoof bike integration suggests otherwise. Maybe that doesn’t have the privacy features as you’re unlikely to try and smuggle a bike in somebody’s bag :slightly_smiling_face:

Think I’ll stick with the original plan and get a dedicated device like this or this.

I assume it’s the same as Tile - once a tag is reset it’s dead and you can’t use it again?

And is AirTag Hermès the new Gold Apple Watch? £400 for a luggage tag you think you might lose?

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I’d argue that Apple should do hybrid events. Maybe something onstage throwing to videos with a little bit of interactivity during live segments.

I really wish AirTags worked properly with Android. Do we know if the UWB would work with UWB compatible Android devices?