Weekly News Summary for Admins — 2023-01-20

Not only did we get release candidates for the iOS 16.3 and macOS 13.2 updates next week, but Apple also released new MacBooks Pro and a new Mac mini with M2 and M2 Pro and Max chips. Also, they released a second generation big HomePod.

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The Mac mini with the M2 Pro chip closes an annoying gap that Apple has had in their Mac portfolio. In the Intel Mac era, the use case for a powerful desktop Mac was covered by the high-end iMac and Mac mini, as well as the low-end Mac Pro. With M1 chips the Mac mini and iMac with M1 maxed out at 16Gb of RAM. The Mac Studio starts with the M1 Max chip at a higher price point. The Intel Mac mini sort had to fill that particular gap.

But the new Mac mini with the M2 Pro Chip nicely fills this slot, where is provides more CPU, GPU, RAM, and SSD than the ‘plain’ M1/M2 while staying below the Mac Studio’s price range.

I can see many uses for this “Mac mini Pro” especially for users who prefer the size, battery life, and price point of the MacBook Air over the more powerful 14″ and 16″ MacBooks Pro, but may want just that more power on their desktop connected to a multi-display setup. Also, lightweight video and audio editing stations that may have been limited by the ‘plain’ M1’s RAM limitation, should be fine with the Mac mini with the M2 Pro. One of the amazing aspects of the Mac mini is that its particular design has been nearly unchanged since 2010.

With the introduction of the Mac mini with the M2 Pro chip, Apple has also removed this second-to-last remaining Intel Mac, the 2018 space gray Mac mini with a 6-core Intel core i5 chip, from the store. The 2019 Mac Pro is now the last remaining Intel Mac.

There are still some weird empty spots left in the product line up. The iMac 24″ still has the ‘plain’ M1, and the ‘M2 or M2 Pro’ options would fit the iMac line nicely, too. Many are hoping for a larger iMac display option, but I am not so sure this is in Apple’s plans (I’d love to be wrong). The option to connect a second, external display on a potential ‘iMac with M2 Pro,’ could be a workable alternative, leaving the high-end, multi-screen setups to the Mac Studio and Mac Pro.

The other empty spots in the Mac line-up are at the extreme ends. The Apple silicon Mac Pro will be a challenge and come under intense scrutiny from the Pro users that need that level of power and expandability and those that claim to. A new, smaller MacBook in the style of the 12″ MacBook, or 11″ MacBook Air, which gives up some processing power in favor of size, portability, battery life and (maybe) price, would be quite interesting. I’d also like Apple to take a stab at a ‘Mac nano’ closer in size to the Apple TV, which can be powered over USB-C/Thunderbolt and connected to a display or dock with a single cable.

It is also rare that Apple revives a product after discontinuation, which makes the new 2nd generation HomePod quite intriguing. The original HomePod was never for sale in my region, so I set up two pair of IKEA’s Symfonisk speakers in our house, which work fine. But I wish the Sonos software which powers the Symfonisk speakers would support HomeKit and Shortcuts better, or at all. I also have a single HomePod mini. The options to ‘move’ music (and radio and podcasts) from the phone or Mac to the HomePod are more powerful than on the Sonos software, but the Siri-only interface is still bewildering to me. There is also an interface to control the HomePod in the Home app, but that also seems quite unintuitive. On the other hand, the size of the HomePod mini allows me to take it on travels, which I think is wonderful.

In non-hardware news, the X World conference has announced dates for their conference in Melbourne, Australia on March 30 and 31 making it the next upcoming MacAdmin conference.

As always, you can find an overview on my conference page.

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I want to take this as chance to explain my treatment of Twitter going forward for now:

I have always used third-party Twitter clients (mostly Tweetbot) over the web interface or their native app. I have always found the web interface confusing, grating, and just too much attention-seeking. I had stopped interacting on Twitter after the takeover and only used it to catch up with some accounts which I have not found to be elsewhere.

I was expecting the worst for Twitter after the takeover, but even so, the utter lack of respect, decency, and humanity shown to employees, advertisers, users/creators, and now third-party developers has been shocking.

I understand that Twitter as a business was probably in for some tough times either way. But economic pressure is no excuse for this crass, and cowardly behavior. You should not assume malice where incompetence is an explanation. In this case, though, it just might be both.

I have stopped reading Twitter entirely. I am in the process of removing Twitter references from my pages. (Though I might not have found every reference yet.) Weblog entries will still automatically post to Twitter, but I will not engage there any more, at all.

It used to be that Twitter would provide a majority of the traffic going to my weblog, second only to search engines. This started to change earlier last year with a significant drop in November, which continues to this day. Other social media such as the Mastodon Fediverse and LinkedIn seem to making up for that drop and I am active and engaged there, as well as the MacAdmins Slack.

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