M1 iMac

The iMac earns the distinction of being the first Mac in the lineup to be completely redesigned in the M1 era. This new iteration comes in seven colors, which is the first time the iMac has been available with colored housing since the G3 models in the late 90s and early 2000s.

I think the silver is actually the most attractive of the bunch. It’s possible I might change my tune after seeing them in person, though. I get the feeling the press shots and videos don’t really give a great impression of what they look like in real life — the colors all seems so pastel on the front. But it is worth noting, aside from the pink model in the audio testing room, the only models shown in the workspace behind the presenter were silver.

Before we get too much further, though, let’s address the elephant in the room. What is the deal with the chin? It’s been a part of the iMac design since 2004, but it’s not necessary anymore. Apple can build a sufficiently thin iMac with the computer components fully behind the display. Why won’t they do so? I can’t think of a single good reason not to.

Though, they have managed to give the iMac a much larger display — a 24-inch, 4.5K display — without increasing the overall size of the device too much. It has an anti-reflective coating on the glass and True Tone support. I’ve never been a fan of True Tone and disable it on all my devices, but I expect I’m in the minority with this.

They’ve improved the camera with a larger, 1080p sensor. I’m glad they’re finally making improvements on this front. They should have started years ago. And I hope this is just the beginning of a trend which will bring better front-facing cameras to the entire Mac lineup.

They’ve introduced a new, proprietary power cable with this model. It’s magnetic and allows them to add an Ethernet port on the power brick. It’s a little disappointing that the power supply isn’t integrated into the iMac anymore. And the proprietary cable is a little lame — it was kind of nice on previous models that you could plug in just about any standard three-pronged power cable and it would just work.

Moving Ethernet to the power brick is kind-of neat. Although, I always thought they would do something like this for laptops. The existence of USB-C and Thunderbolt seems like that would have been a bit easier to develop — since the cable is already capable of so much. Just imagine a power brick with an SD card reader, a couple of USB-A ports, a couple of USB-C ports, and HDMI. A lot of people would be really excited about a product like that.

Alongside the iMac, Apple introduce color matching accessories — Magic Mouse, Magic Trackpad, and Magic Keyboard. The standard keyboard features more rounded corners and some new keys — most notably a lock button and an emoji key. But there is a second keyboard model that features Touch ID on the lock button.

My work laptop — a 13-inch MacBook Pro features Touch ID and I love it. Most of the time my Watch is used to unlock, but the times when I’m not wearing my watch, the Touch ID sensor is clutch. Although we all know that the inevitable introduction of Face ID is going to be where it’s at, Touch ID is a welcomed addition.

The M1 iMac is available to order April 30 and starts shipping in the latter half of May. The base model starts at $1299 and is available in four colors — blue, green, pink, and silver. It features an 8-core CPU, 7-core GPU, 8GB of memory, 256GB of storage, two Thunderbolt ports, and the standard Magic Keyboard.

The higher end model starts at $1499, also comes in yellow, orange, and purple, adds two USB-C ports, an additional GPU core, the Magic Keyboard with Touch ID, and Ethernet on the power adapter.

Despite my qualms about the chin and color options, these seem like excellent devices. And I do appreciate the return of color, even if I personally prefer the silver model. And it does have me excited about the future of the Mac. What will come to the Mac Pro, 16-inch MacBook Pro, and 27-inch iMacs? What is Apple capable of when they really put the peddle to the floor with their own chips?

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AirTag

I’ve purchased a handful of Tiles over the past few years. I keep them in each of my bags so they are easily findable when I’m traveling. There hasn’t been as much use for them lately, obviously, but I still like the product quite a bit.

I’ve even purchased a couple for my father-in-law after an incident where he lost his keys in the yard while mowing. It took him a day or two to eventually find them. If he had a Tile on his keys then, it would have only been a few short minutes using the chime to hone in on them.

These little finder gadgets are a great idea for a product. And I think Tile has a pretty good implementation. But there’s nothing like something integrated into the system. Tile got Sherlocked. At least until they add Find My support to their devices.

In addition to integrating with the system’s Find My app, Apple one-upped Tile quite a bit on the technology end of things. With help from the U1 chip, when locating an AirTag, the app displays a delightful arrow pointing in the direction of the device.

And of course, it can play a chime too.

But if you’re even further away, AirTags communicate with nearby iPhones, iPads, and Macs to phone home, so-to-speak. This could have privacy concerns, but Apple addresses that on their product page:

Only you can see where your AirTag is. Your location data and history are never stored on the AirTag itself. Devices that relay the location of your AirTag also stay anonymous, and that location data is encrypted every step of the way. So not even Apple knows the location of your AirTag or the identity of the device that helps find it.

In terms of battery life, Apple claims that they can last more than a year, but they also use standard, user-replaceable CR2032 batteries. It’s been a while since Apple shipped a product with a replaceable battery – I think maybe the keyboard, mouse, and trackpad that took AAs was the last one to ship like that.

You can order AirTags starting on Friday for $29 a piece or $99 for a four-pack. And they offer free engraving for each one. It’s limited to just four characters, but that’s likely enough to identify which one is which.

It’s not all good news, though. The biggest omission with AirTag compared to Tile is the lack of a hook mechanism. There isn’t anything built-in to the AirTag that let’s you attach it to something else. Sure, you can just drop it into a pocket or pouch inside of your bag, but if you want to attach it with a loop or keychain, you’ll have to buy an accessory.

And these accessories aren’t cheap. They take, what appears to be a reasonably priced $29 AirTag and turns it into a pretty expensive kit. Every single Apple-made loop and keychain is at least as expensive as the AirTag itself. Belkin has some options that are less costly, but they’re still a bit more than I’d prefer.

Still, I expect I’ll end up with at least one of these. I can throw it in my bag and have a slick interface for finding it if misplaced. But I’m not sure if I really want to spring the $99 plus the cost of accessories to replace my existing Tiles. Although, maybe I can find a much cheaper way to attach them to things.

My Backup Strategy


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