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Apple March 2019 announcements

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Ric Ford

MacInTouch
The Verge has some interesting reporting on Apple's change from a computer company to something different:
Chaim Gartenberg said:
How Apple makes billions of dollars selling services
Breaking down Apple’s new focus — from Apple Music to accounting tricks

... Apple’s services business brought in over $10.9 billion during the most recent quarter, setting records in “every geographic segment” in the process, according to Apple CEO Tim Cook. Cook also said that Apple is on track to double its services business from 2016 to 2020. Last quarter saw a 19 percent increase year over year.

It’s a substantial figure compared to Apple’s other business segments: services already brings in more per quarter than the Mac ($7.4 billion last quarter), iPad ($6.7 billion), or the collected “Wearables, Home, and Accessories” group of products ($7.3 billion). And that balance will likely only continue to shift as Apple starts to push services harder and introduces new services to which people can subscribe.

So what’s already bringing in all that services revenue, and how healthy are those businesses? ...
 


For those who have existing fusion drives, the spinning disk is a standard SATA drive, is it not? I cannot find answers on the internet, but if my 2015 iMac's spinning drive fails, can I not replace it with a SATA SSD in either the 3 1/2" format or a 2 1/2" format with a frame? My iMac fusion drive uses a 7200 RPM 2TB disk paired with the larger SSD. Another 2015 iMac in my office has the smaller SSD paired with a 1TB, 5200 RPM hard disk. In all cases, replacing the spinning hard disk with an SSD would be an improvement, especially for the 5200 RPM disk.

I recognize that the SATA interface limits throughput. I know that in my older iMacs, replacing a spinning SATA hard disk with a SATA SSD made a large improvement in the performance in the older iMac, even when the interface was 3 Gbps instead of 6 Gbps.

Note that in the iMac with the larger SSD and the 7200 RPM spinning hard disk, the only time that low speed is really noticeable is when I am using Parallels running Windows 10. I suspect that the combination of Windows virtual hard disk file size and my infrequent usage of Windows results in the Windows hard disk file sitting on the spinning hard drive. On my 2015 MacBook Pro with a 2TB SSD, Parallels Windows is quite fast.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
For those who have existing fusion drives, the spinning disk is a standard SATA drive, is it not? I cannot find answers on the internet, but if my 2015 iMac's spinning drive fails, can I not replace it with a SATA SSD in either the 3 1/2" format or a 2 1/2" format with a frame?
iFixit reports that the 21" iMac 4K uses a standard 2.5" SATA drive.
iFixit said:
iMac 21.5" Retina 4K Display 2017 Teardown
– The standard 2.5" SATA hard drive is fully upgradable—though you can't add a blade SSD thanks to an empty pad on the logic board.
EveryMac.com has details on all models:
EveryMac.com said:
Apple iMac "Core i5" 3.2 27-Inch (5K, Late 2015) Specs
This model is equipped by default with either a 1 TB (7200 RPM) hard drive (MK462LL/A) or a 1 TB "Fusion" Drive, which combines a 24 GB SSD and a 1 TB hard drive (MK472LL/A). It has a Serial ATA (6 Gb/s) connector for a 3.5" hard drive.

At the time of purchase, Apple offered a 2 TB "Fusion Drive" (which combines a 128 GB SSD and a 2 TB hard drive) for an extra US$200, a 3 TB "Fusion Drive" (which combines a 128 GB SSD and a 3 TB hard drive) for an extra US$300, a 256 GB SSD for an extra US$100, a 512 GB SSD for an extra US$400, or a 1 TB SSD for an extra US$900.
 


If you find yourself saddled with a spinning hard drive in an iMac (late 2012 or newer) and want to improve performance dramatically, you don't actually have to open up the machine. The USB3 ports on the iMac are quite fast and, if you put a 2.5" SSD into a USB3 case (or buy an already built USB3 SSD) and clone over the installation using Mike Bombich's Carbon Copy Cloner, you end up with a reasonably fast machine.

You may either set up CCC to clone back to the internal as a bootable emergency drive or simply wipe the internal hard drive and make it a Time Machine backup. After witnessing certified Apple techs destroy iMac screens attempting to remove them (that pesky double-faced tape!), this is my recommended upgrade for clients who decided to go cheap when they bought their iMacs and, too late, realized how poorly the machines run with spinning hard drives.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
The USB3 ports on the iMac are quite fast and, if you put a 2.5" SSD into a USB3 case (or buy an already built USB3 SSD) and clone over the installation using Mike Bombich's Carbon Copy Cloner, you end up with a reasonably fast machine. ... After witnessing certified Apple techs destroy iMac screens attempting to remove them (that pesky double-faced tape!), this is my recommended upgrade for clients who decided to go cheap when they bought their iMacs and, too late, realized how poorly the machines run with spinning hard drives.
And it's cheaper, too.

Apple internal 256GB SSD: $200
SanDisk T5 250GB SSD: $72

Or go with Thunderbolt 3 NVMe for better price/performance than Apple’s upgrades:

Samsung X5 500GB SSD: $248
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Still no update to Apple's iMac memory document... five days after the new model introduction. (I'm actually starting to wonder at this point if this could be intentional manipulation of customers.)
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Mark Gurman, who has consistently reported accurate information about Apple plans, describes Apple's momentous business move from computers and hardware into services and media businesses:
Bloomberg said:
Apple's Reinvention as a Services Company Starts for Real Monday
When Apple Inc. boss Tim Cook takes the stage at the Steve Jobs Theater in Silicon Valley on Monday, he will usher in a new era for the world’s largest technology company.

The chief executive officer is expected to unveil streaming video and news subscriptions, key parts of Apple’s push to transform itself into a leading digital services provider. The company may even discuss a monthly video games subscription. Likely absent from the event: Any new versions of the gadgets that have helped Apple generate hundreds of billions of dollars in profit since 1976.

It’s a particular challenge for Cook, who took over after Jobs died in 2011. The current CEO is an expert in hardware supply chains who spent years wrangling eager component manufacturers in Asia to assemble the company’s blockbuster iPhone. Apple’s newer partners -- Hollywood studios, movie stars, newspapers and magazine publishers -- are more wary of working with tech giants, or have already teamed up with rivals like Netflix Inc. and Amazon.com Inc.
 


Mark Gurman, who has consistently reported accurate information about Apple plans, describes Apple's momentous business move from computers and hardware into services and media businesses:
The move was actually less than momentous when it was first announced to us in Apple Education Sales. "Sell service!" was the mantra back in 2000 and 2001 - a lot more profit than selling hardware. Anyone who was paying attention then saw the handwriting on the wall.

I've been chewing on this for a number of years, and I think it's time I said it (but who cares what I think, eh?). If we should even care about Macintosh hardware, Apple needs to spin off the Macintosh Division so there may be someone in charge who even cares as much as we do.

I'm not suggesting any sort of Chinese Wall to hobble the ability of Apple to make their services work seamlessly (although even that has been a partial disaster); rather, that the "Macintosh Company" be tasked with making insanely great computers (and that doesn't require insanely expensive ones with cr*p keyboards that require a $700 repair when they get a speck of dust under the keys and can't be reliably used by touch-typists nor even those of the "hunt & peck" persuasion).

Any Mac design that can't be easily opened for RAM upgrade or a hard drive swap should be abandoned. Any reasons why this can't be done are simply excuses used to justify designs that are not insanely great but just insane. Oh, one more thing: Jony Ive, you're fired.
 


A brief question: for the newly-refreshed iMac models that were released last week, will they only run with Mojave and newer versions of macOS? Or can one run them with Sierra or High Sierra?

I'm sure they come with Mojave installed, but I wondered if there was a chance I could run an older macOS version on them (natively, i.e., not in a virtual machine.)

I've checked the Tech Specs, but they don't state this explicitly. Thanks in advance!
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
A brief question: for the newly-refreshed iMac models that were released last week, will they only run with Mojave and newer versions of macOS? Or can one run them with Sierra or High Sierra?
As they use newer-generation CPUs and hardware, I don't believe they will be able to run pre-Mojave versions of macOS or OS X (and they may even need a newer version of Mojave than the current one).
 



Still no update to Apple's iMac memory document... five days after the new model introduction. (I'm actually starting to wonder at this point if this could be intentional manipulation of customers.)
Or simply just a reflection that there is nothing particularly new here in the 2019 models that is different from the 2017 ones. It is relatively straightforward processor tweaks (and probably a swap to a new pin-compatible chipset: 300 series PCH). It is being labeled "new" primarily by the new processors in the sockets/pads that were already there.

All 27" 5K retina sections of the document point to the same area for "instructions". Physically, there are likely zero changes to the process. The only change is the DIMM's rated clock speeds, which are in the specs for the device.

They capped the new Mac Mini at 64 GB along with these new iMacs. Even the "TBD" placeholder that OWC has maxes out at 64 GB. (There doesn't seem to be anything bigger than 16GB SO-DIMMs, so 64GB is the practical limit.)
 


They capped the new Mac Mini at 64 GB along with these new iMacs.
Which strongly implies that 32GB SO-DIMMs exist (at least for Apple to purchase from its suppliers), since you can BTO a Mac Mini with 64 GB. Unfortunately, it doesn't appear that you and I can buy these SO-DIMMs today, but it would be reasonable to assume that they will be available at some time in the future.

The 64GB maximum on the Minis is a limit of the CPU and/or core-logic chipset from Intel. The 2018 Mac Mini uses one of three CPUs: i3-8100B, i5-8500B or i7-8700B. All three have a maximum capacity of 64GB.

The reason for the limits on the new iMacs is far from clear, however.

According to MacObserver, the 2019 iMacs use a variety of CPUs with a variety of maximum RAM capacities. The 21.5" model uses one of four CPUs: i5-7360U (32 GB max), i3-8100 (64 GB max), i5-8500 (128 GB max), or i7-8700 (128 GB max). The 27" model uses one of four CPUs: i5-8500, i5-8600, i5-9600KF, or i9-9900KF, all four of which have a maximum of 128 GB.

But we also know that Apple is not advertising these limits on their tech specs page. The BTO maximum capacities are 16 GB for the smallest 21.5" (where the CPU goes up to 32 GB) and 32 GB for the other 21.5" models (where the CPU goes up to 64 or 128 GB). Similarly, they advertise the smallest 27" model as a maximum of 32 GB and the others as 64 GB, even though the CPUs all support up to 128 GB. The reason for the discrepancy is unknown at this time - maybe they will support more, but appropriate DIMMs aren't available at this time, or maybe there's something on the board that creates a limit. We probably have no way of knowing at this time.

I am surprised that they don't offer 128 GB for the 27" models, since 32 GB SO-DIMMs exist (the ones Apple puts in Minis that are BTO with 64 GB), but maybe the SO-DIMMs used on the Mini aren't compatible with the CPUs used on the iMacs.
 







Any Mac design that can't be easily opened for RAM upgrade or a hard drive swap should be abandoned. Any reasons why this can't be done are simply excuses used to justify designs that are not insanely great but just insane. Oh, one more thing: Jony Ive, you're fired.
Thirded. Or fourthed. Whatever. My admiration for Ive's brilliant designs has long been eclipsed by my horror at the seemingly casual way he's willing to compromise functionality for incremental design improvements. Really, the current MacBook keyboards would be literally the worst in the industry, even if they were reliable, which they aren't; and Apple's "thin at any cost" design mantra means that replacing a malfunctioning keyboard will cost you more than a new Dell laptop.

Apple's march towards hardware and relentless hostility to third-party service is one reason I went Hackintosh some years ago.

I'm desperately hoping the long-promised "modular Mac Pro" isn't something that's expandable only via Apple-proprietary "modules". But it would not surprise me if it were.
 


Thirded. Or fourthed. Whatever. My admiration for Ive's brilliant designs has long been eclipsed by my horror at the seemingly casual way he's willing to compromise functionality for incremental design improvements. Really, the current MacBook keyboards would be literally the worst in the industry, even if they were reliable, which they aren't; and Apple's "thin at any cost" design mantra means that replacing a malfunctioning keyboard will cost you more than a new Dell laptop.

Apple's march towards hardware and relentless hostility to third-party service is one reason I went Hackintosh some years ago.

I'm desperately hoping the long-promised "modular Mac Pro" isn't something that's expandable only via Apple-proprietary "modules". But it would not surprise me if it were.
David, I'd love to "do a Hackintosh", if I knew how, so any sort of link with appropriate hardware choices would be appreciated. As my apps of choices are cross-platform, the "PC" could always run Windows, and I'd manage.

I will bet $100 that whatever Mac Pro comes out of Apple will be completely, laughably overpriced and as proprietary as is possible, given that Apple doesn't (yet) manufacture RAM modules. Remember: Apple believes its mission is to sell products you didn't know you need and now can't live without. Like Athena from the head of Zeus, it will spring forth fully grown, wearing its battle armor. However, as Horace wrote: "Parturiunt montes, nascetur ridiculus mus." Or, "The mountains are in labor, a ridiculous mouse will be born."
 


Perhaps missed with all the noise coming out of Cupertino on Monday was the release of macOS Mojave 10.14.4 along with the delta and combo updaters for the same.
 




I have a more simple and prosaic complaint: I would perhaps have replaced my family MacBook Airs (or is that MacBooks Air?) with newer computers some time ago, if they came with larger SSDs at a reasonable price, or allowed me to replace or insert an NVME drive.

I know from experience that the 128gig is too small for my uses, and 256gig barely enough. Apple may be proud that their SSDs are super-fast, but I'd be happy with the speed of standard NVME sticks. And right now, as it has been for ages, larger drives are still far too expensive.

It used to be worthwhile for me to update my Macs every two years or so (I'd pass down or sell the previous). Right now, my newest Mac is five years old, and there's no laptop computer Apple sells that I'd unequivocally recommend on price/configuration basis to non-Mac people on a budget. (And non-Mac people are always on a budget.)

For heavier computing I use a hackintosh, but it's not for everyone.
 


I have a more simple and prosaic complaint: I would perhaps have replaced my family MacBook Airs (or is that MacBooks Air?) with newer computers some time ago, if they came with larger SSDs at a reasonable price, or allowed me to replace or insert an NVME drive.
I know from experience that the 128gig is too small for my uses, and 256gig barely enough. Apple may be proud that their SSDs are super-fast, but I'd be happy with the speed of standard NVME sticks. And right now, as it has been for ages, larger drives are still far too expensive.
MacBook Air models prior to the very latest may have their SSDs replaced. See here:

 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Apple's marketing show yesterday felt incomplete for such a major strategic shift.
CNBC said:
Apple made its most important announcement in years on Monday, but critical details were strangely absent
If Apple Version 1 was the Macintosh computer, and Apple Version 2 was mobile hardware from the iPod and iPhone through the Apple Watch, then Apple Version 3 would include a variety of subscription services with recurring revenue.

That's the vision Cook has been selling to investors on earnings calls for two years now and became more urgent last quarter as iPhone sales slowed in China. Apple shares recovered from that news and are up about 20 percent for the year but are still down more than 10 percent from the stock's peak last August.

Monday's event was supposed to be the big coming-out party for this services vision.

But if Apple v.3 is going to change the way investors value Apple, they'll need more answers than Cook gave Monday. Apple was so sparse on key details around its video and news services that it felt like Apple had rushed the event or was waiting on a critical deal that never came through.
 


David, I'd love to "do a Hackintosh", if I knew how, so any sort of link with appropriate hardware choices would be appreciated. As my apps of choices are cross-platform, the "PC" could always run Windows, and I'd manage.
TonyMacX86.com is a great place to learn about Hackintoshes. They have buying guides if you want to build your own. I was reluctant to simultaneously build a computer and figure out how to install macOS on it. Fortunately there are also many guides on how to install on OEM systems. I chose an HP 8300 Elite SFF, as they were being retired by businesses and readily available for cheap (this was late 2017), and there were great step-by-step guides.

For $134 I got an i5 3570, 6GB RAM, 500GB hard disk drive system. Copious bays and ports have allowed me to upgrade at will. I did have to buy a video card (Nvidia GT 710 for about $40), as the integrated graphics on my chip aren't supported, and a WiFi card (again, onboard chip not supported.) Audio was a work in progress then (since fixed), so I got a cheap USB to SPDIF adapter (I was using the optical out of my iMac previously). So it's a mix of things working and not working.

However, if you would be comfortable opening a Power Mac or Mac Pro to add memory or swap a drive, nothing hardware-wise was difficult. As far as installing macOS, I followed a guide step by step, and it was a piece of cake. I honestly was surprised at how easy it was.

I've since gone from El Capitan to Sierra to High Sierra and have Mojave installed, but have not transitioned over yet. I have a 3.5" -> dual 2.5" hot swap dock installed in the front drive bay, so I can easily swap systems (I don't actually hot swap, but I don't have to open the case). System updates are fairly straightforward, although it usually takes a few days for Nvidia to update their drivers. (I'm not sure of the details, but I believe I used to have to have Nvidia drivers but native support was added - maybe in High Sierra - and remains in Mojave.) I just wait a few days for the authors of the guides I used to post their experiences.

Currently I have two 500GB SSDs and 24 GB of RAM installed. When I transition to Mojave, it's on a 1TB SSD, so I'll be back to one drive. All told, I'd guess I've spent between $500 and $1000 and a fair amount of time; but I have a system that I can easily change to suit my needs.
 


David, I'd love to "do a Hackintosh", if I knew how, so any sort of link with appropriate hardware choices would be appreciated. As my apps of choices are cross-platform, the "PC" could always run Windows, and I'd manage.
Barry:


There are step to step instructions for different builds depending what you need. My last one is an i7-8700K overclocked at 5GHz. It beat the Geekbench specs of all but the very top iMac Pros.

It was almost easy to build. Follow the guy called Pastrychef; he has set by step instructions with explanations of what you are doing. If you get the same motherboard he has in the latest build, it is a breeze - he gives you all the software for booting macOS.

I was wary at the beginning, but now I'm super happy. Superfast, I have two NVMe drives that scream, Radeon RX580 driving 3 monitors, all the Apple stuff, AirDrop, unlock with Watch, iMessages, all just works.

The only thing that worries me is when Apple will decide that macOS will be dependent on a T2 chip. But considering the massive installed user base, I think it will be many years (if ever).
 


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