iOS

How making its iWork and iLife apps free could hurt Apple and its users

“Free” seems like a good thing, right? After all, who doesn’t like not paying for things? This week’s announcement that Apple’s productivity and creative software—namely Pages, Numbers, Keynote, GarageBand, and iMovie—is now free to all users was mainly greeted with a positive reaction from pundits and consumers alike.

I’ll agree that making these apps (which were already provided no charge to people who bought new Macs, iPhone, and iPads) free across the board is largely a positive move. But that decision does have some consequences that could be a downside for end users, developers, and even Apple.

Not-so-fierce competition

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iTunes needs to go (well, the name, anyway)

I’ve been giving some thought to the future of iTunes and I’ve reached the conclusion that, well, it probably doesn’t have one. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news and all that.

Almost two years ago, around the time Apple was rolling out Apple Music, I reasoned that it was a good opportunity to break up iTunes, the app—which, if you’re keeping score, didn’t happen. But the longer I’ve considered the matter, the more I’ve come to think that the name iTunes is due to ride into the sunset. And how about this for confirmation: Apple just rebranded iTunes Podcasts as Apple Podcasts. iTunes, your days are numbered.

What’s in a name?

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In praise of the versatile Mac mini

The Mac Pro got plenty of love from Apple this week—and about time—but the other supporting player in Apple’s desktop lineup got only a brief nod from the company’s executives.

“The Mac mini remains a product in our lineup. Nothing more to say about it today,” Phil Schiller told reporters, according to John Gruber.

The Mac mini has never been a hot topic with the folks in Cupertino. Now in its twelfth year, the little Mac that could has been infrequently updated and often underestimated. But while it may not get the limelight as often as its siblings, I think that the mini has earned its spot as the unsung hero of the Mac lineup.

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To fix the Apple TV, why not free Siri from the Siri Remote?

Among the many things I find frustrating about the Apple TV experience—and yes, there are more than a few—the Siri Remote is near the top of the list. The small slab of metal, glass, and plastic was billed as one of the marquee features of the new set-top box when it debuted back in fall 2015, but my experience with it has been largely underwhelming.

I was, at the time of its introduction, hopeful about the Siri Remote’s potential. Apple went so far as to call it “the only remote you’ll need.”

After using it—or mostly not using it—for the last two years, I feel pretty confident in saying that it most emphatically is not.

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iOS

Apple's acquisition of Workflow could bring automation to iOS

After this week’s news that Apple had acquired iOS power user app Workflow, you’d be excused for being a bit confused about the future of automation on Apple’s platform. After all, it was just last November that Sal Soghoian, Apple’s product manager of automation technologies, left the company when his position was eliminated.

And yet, Apple snapped up Workflow, an app that many had compared to Apple’s own Automator, which was introduced way back in 2005’s Mac OS X Tiger. So what gives? Is there still some life in automation and scripting features on Apple’s platforms, or is this merely a case of Apple acquiring useful talent?

Follow the script

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The iPad Pro needs a refresh: Here's what to expect

I think we can all agree that it’s about time for an iPad update. The most recently updated model, the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, is approaching the year-old mark. And far be it for me to argue that every Apple product needs to be updated every year, but the iPad, well, the iPad has struggled a bit over the last few years, and it could use a jumpstart.

So, assuming that new iPads are coming down the pipeline—and the consensus seems to be that they’ll arrive sooner rather than later—what can we expect?

What makes a Pro?

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Why the new Mac Pro might never come

Pros have been dissatisfied with Apple of late, and it’s not hard to see why. The so-long-in-the-tooth-it-qualifies-as-a-fang Mac Pro hasn’t been updated in more than three years, but still commands a hefty price tag. And last fall’s new MacBook Pro added the splashy new Touch Bar while seeming to skimp on practicalities like RAM and processor power.

But all may not be lost! During the recent Apple shareholder meeting, CEO Tim Cook had this cryptic answer to a question about the pro market: “Don’t think something we’ve done or something that we’re doing that isn’t visible yet is a signal that our priorities are elsewhere.” (Or, if I may paraphrase: “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.”)

In case that wasn’t clear, he also answered more directly, saying, “You will see us do more in the pro area. The pro area is very important to us. The creative area is very important to us in particular.” But that doesn’t mean Apple is necessarily about to drop a new Mac Pro. Cook’s definition of “pro” is open to interpretation.

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