eXtensions - Saturday 1 May 2021
Saturday Digression: Apple Revenue, Updates and Orders - A Busy Week (amended - spelling)
By Graham K. Rogers
Several product areas had record sales this quarter, especially the iPhone and Macs. Services were up, as were wearables, but not to the extent that the other sectors achieved. Again, I cast my mind back to the pride expressed by Steve Jobs at the iPad announcement in 2010 where he revealed that the previous quarter's revenue had been $18 billion. This quarter it was a fraction under $90 billion with revenue up 54% year over year to a new quarter record. Here is the main part of the press release:
Apple today announced financial results for its fiscal 2021 second quarter ended March 27, 2021. The Company posted a March quarter record revenue of $89.6 billion, up 54 percent year over year, and quarterly earnings per diluted share of $1.40. International sales accounted for 67 percent of the quarter's revenue.
iPhone 12 - Image courtesy of Apple
I did all three at the same time (Big Sur, iOS/iPadOS) after running a backup on the MacBook Pro. I left the Watch and the AppleTV until the evening. Installation times were somewhat different for the Macs and mobile devices. The iPad showed its white progress bar first and restarted while the iPhone was still on Preparing Update. The Big Sur update had not even finished downloading by the time the iPad Pro was done. That was just as the Verifying process for the iPhone began and the installation was complete more than 10 minutes before the Mac was done. I also updated the Mac mini later and noted that the download was smaller at 5.71GB compared with the 6.62GB of the MacBook Pro, so there were probably some M1-specific updates in that. Big Sur has had multiple changes which are outlined in a couple of articles by Mr Mac and hoakley (Eclectic Light Company). I link to a later post by hoakley here as that had more details.
As part of the extensive update, there were several security changes, including one that covered a major threat. Although the two Macs I updated (a third was already running beta software) had no apparent problems - I even ran a Webex class afterwards - others have not been so lucky. Hoakley (Eclectic Light Company) makes a number of comments on the update, on shortcomings, and in ways things might be fixed.
I knew there would be lots of changes to iOS and Federico Viticci (MacStories) has a good look at what Apple put in the update. Updating tvOS is much easier where I live now. In my old condo, I always found problems updating with the internet provider I had. IOS also failed often at the "Verifying" step: something in the process failed to shake hands.
Apple Watch 6
Entering a passcode had become tedious, especially considering the number of times here one is asked to check in; but this will take some of the edge off to that. I had ample opportunity to try this out the morning after I had complete the updates and with the way we are asked to check in to malls and even shops inside them, the feature had a good workout and only let me down once. I did find that the MorChana app I use for checking in (using QR codes) failed consistently that day. At home later I saw there was an update which fixed the problem.
Another feature with the iOS update was that the system checked the battery for optimisation. Over the years Apple has taken a lot of criticism (some not altogether justified) over the batteries in the iPhone and there has been much work on this in the background. This time the work is a little more visible and does announce what it is doing at the outset. Results are not going to be instantaneous and the recalibration may take a few weeks.
The TV update opened with a page of new features: Home Screen; Watch new Apple originals; and Color Balance. I was slightly surprised that this was available for my older (vanilla) box. I was also asked if I wanted to send analytical data to Apple. I don't mind so accepted. I tried once or twice to use Color Balance, but according to several online comments, it needs all the planets to be in alignment. I will keep at this.
However, Friday evening (here) the store changed. This time, instead of going offline, the pages were changed without a break, although it may have caused some problems with users in other countries reporting odd ordering problems. They were not alone, but the new Macs are not affected and delivery in Thailand is shown right now as end of May, beginning of June.
The iPad Pro panel had changed and now displays an "Order" button, which I pressed as soon as I saw it. I had decided on the 11" iPad Pro (as I have now) with WiFi + Cellular but when I made the choices (color, storage, connectivity) the Buy button stayed gray. I had a look at the same choices using the iPhone, in case my earlier selections had broken something, but that was the same. While on the page with the iPhone, I accidentally pressed the Wifi-only means of connecting and the Buy button turned blue. Back on the iPad, I had another look: no Cellular.
The M1 iPad Pro - Image Courtesy of Apple
There are two related accessory decisions I have yet to make: the keyboard and case; and the Apple Pencil. The case I have been using with its integrated keyboard has been a boon to productivity so this is a must-have, although I am not sure which one will work. I will try my current case in the hopes that it works although I am fairly certain that the connectors were changed. I have a spare Bluetooth keyboard for initial working, but if necessary I will order a new keyboard/case as soon as I confirm what I need.
This is the same for the Apple Pencil which is an important tool when I am editing papaers, reports and thesis work. When my current iPad Pro arrived I was unable to use the original Apple Pencil, which I still have for the Gen 7 iPad. I bought the Apple Pencil 2. I am sort of hoping that this will work with the M1 iPad Pro, but if not, it will be down to the Apple Store with my credit card at the ready.
Another revelation concerned Adobe Flash. I just hated it on the Mac anyway, especially with its insecurities and the fuss I had to go through every time it needed an update. I was glad to see the back of it, and chuckled when I saw Steve Jobs' open letter about why Flash would not be on the iPhone. There was more to this than just Steve Jobs being Steve, as Forestall gave evidence that they tried hard to make it work on the platform, but "the results were embarrassing". The whole quote from the article by Filipe Espósito (9to5 Mac) is worth examining:
We did not ship Flash. We tried to make Flash work. We helped Adobe. We definitely were interested. Again, this is one where I thought if we could help make it work, this could be great. Flash has been such a problem because the way that it hooks into systems, it's been a virus nightmare on Windows, even on the Mac. And when we got it running on iOS, the performance was just abysmal and embarrassing and it could never get to something which would be consumer value add.
As well as a good DSLR camera (Nikon D850) I usually carry a medium format film camera with me, mainly a Hasselblad, but I have others as well. One of these is a Rolleiflex Twin Lens Reflex camera (TLR) which I accidentally bought on eBay. I won the bid and the rules mean I have to pay up. With a personal history of SLR and DSLR cameras, this meant learning a new approach. Right from the first roll, the output was good and sharp despite a ground glass that needs cleaning (or even replacing). I recently wrote about this on the EMULSIVE site, which has a wide range of contributors: AN ACCIDENTAL ROLLEIFLEX TLR: A NEW EXPERIENCE WITH THE ROLLEIFLEX AUTOMAT 6x6 MODEL RF 111A (excuse the caps but this is how the site does things). It is a site worth following and not just because I put articles on there.
Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs. After 3 years writing a column in the Life supplement, he is now no longer associated with the Bangkok Post. He can be followed on Twitter (@extensions_th)
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