New Apple gear: a bit of ordinary, a bit of wonder

Mark Lyndersay -
Mark Lyndersay -


NEWSDAY · BitDepth1320 Narration 20 - 09 - 2021

TIM COOK weathered the unenviable challenge of following Steve Jobs as the host of Apple's product announcements by anchoring launch events that were once almost seances with a calm, almost relaxed sense of excitement about the new stuff he'd authorised for production.

To his credit, he's downplayed Jobs's signature "One more thing…," deploying it only for truly revolutionary and game-changing new products, which is to say he hasn't said it much at all since the Apple co-founder passed away.

The company has managed, to a surprising degree, to make commodities out of its most popular products among its most faithful followers.

For the Apple diehard, it's never about what tablet or phone brand to buy, it's a matter of choosing the right iPad or iPhone. That doesn't grow the market though, and only cost-effective choices and truly exciting new features actually draw more than fans.

Both were on offer at last week's launch, which offered a well-equipped iPad at US$329 sporting the A13, one of the company's recent self-designed chips.

The baseline product supports the best features offered in its top-end tablets. It's half the price of this year's iPad Pro, and most users won't want for much by choosing it.

Getting a bigger hardware boost is the iPad Mini, an eight-inch version of the tablet that's been given the new A15 processor and a much better screen.

Apple seemed to be positioning this device for people who want a work-capable tablet computer that fits into big engineering or medical pockets.

If you want a device to take calls, do social media and messaging and take the occasional snap, the base model iPhone 13, equipped with the new A15 processor, will do just fine.

Apple boasts of better low-light performance for the new phone, and putting a bigger sensor and faster glass in their top-of-the-line smartphone will definitely do that.

The new Pro Max adds a wider ultra-wide lens and longer telephoto lens to its array, with the 77 mm telephoto, an ideal portrait lens length sporting an f 2.8 aperture.

The standard wide 26 mm lens sports an f 1.5 aperture and the ultra-wide 13 mm lens is set at f 1.8.

These are potent specs for any photographer's camera bag, and having them attached to a smartphone is beyond useful.

Apple manages to top that achievement with a new software feature, rack focus.

Until now, rack focusing, the smooth move of a focus point from foreground to background, is something you might have seen – but hardly noticed – in a film or television show.

To do it, you needed a lens with a special grip attachment, measuring tape and a crew specialist called a focus puller.

He's out of work now, and the measuring tape goes back into the tool box, because Apple has automated rack focus.

When a person enters the smartphone's frame, the lens smoothly switches focus from the background to them. Any iPhone 13 cinematographer can tap two spots within the frame and let the software do the work.

As if that weren't enough of a lure for the nascent filmmaker, the processor on the new iPhone is beefy enough to allow editing of footage shot in either Apple's native ProRes format or DolbyVision directly on the device.

"It will change the language of cinema in a very positive way," cinematographer Greig Fraser said of the new iPhone in a promotional video.

That may be Apple-inspired hype, but there's no question that these new AI-powered tools will make that language easier for almost anyone to speak.

Mark Lyndersay is the editor of An expanded version of this column can be found there. An author-narrated version of this column is available on NewsdayTT's website


"New Apple gear: a bit of ordinary, a bit of wonder"

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