First Take: New iPads, iMac, Apple Pay, and “Yosemite”

October 24, 2014

in Travel Tech

  • SumoMe

About a month ago the world went amok (well, sort of) when Apple announced the release of two new smartphones: The iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus.

With much less fanfare, last week the Cupertino company unveiled other new products: The iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3, a new iMac desktop with Retina Display, the “Apple Pay” mobile payment system, and the new Mac computer operating system, “Yosemite.”

Change In Air

Here’s our first take on all three.

iPad Air 2

So now we have the second coming of the iPad Air, that is even thinner and lighter than the original “Air” model, let alone the previous iterations of the iPad.

Here’s what David Pogue of Yahoo Tech discovered when he was first able to get his hands on the iPad Air 2 at last week’s Apple press event:

After having a few more days to play around with the “Air 2,” Pogue was enthusiastic about the size (“Thin is in!”) and the improved WiFi connection speed which allows Web pages to load much faster, and liked the fact that Apple has added the Touch ID feature available on newer iPhones, and the improved (although not as good as the iPhone’s) cameras.

By the way, although the iPad Air 2 does feature “Apple Pay” (which I’ll discuss below), it only works with in-app purchases, so don’t bother waving your shiny new “Air” over a card reader as you can with an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus.

iPad Mini 3

As 9 to 5 Mac points out, the latest iPad Mini 3 has few new features over its predecessor, just the Touch ID and Apple Pay (again, for in-app ordering from online stores, but not those built of “brick and mortar”) and a gold color option.

This MacMixing video compares the Mini 2 and 3 and the iPad Air 2.

Time For A New iPad?

But are the changes to the new iPads so significant that you should replace your existing model? Unless you own the original or other “ancient” iPad or none at all, Pogue doesn’t think so, and neither does Yahoo Tech Editorial Daniel Bean and several tech pundits he quotes.

Nor did Farhad Manjoo of The New York Times or 9 T0 5 Mac.

I’ve got an iPad 4th Generation with Retina Display. It works fine. I won’t be replacing it with the “Air 2″ and I don’t need a Mini.

Apple Pay

So when I’m in a store and don’t want to pay cash or use a debit card, why not just pay with a credit card?

Because smartphone manufacturers want a slice of the credit card fees charged to merchants by the banks that issue the cards?

Maybe so.

Making a purchase by pulling my phone out of my pants pocket and then waving it over a card reader doesn’t seem to involve any significant time savings over pulling my wallet out of my pants pocket, taking my credit card out of it, swiping it through the merchant’s gizmo, putting the card back in my wallet, and stuffing my wallet back into my pants.

This video shows that Apple Pay isn’t necessary any faster than paying with a credit card.

Google Wallet, a “cardless” payment system similar to Apple Pay never took off, apparently because the legions of Android phone users saw no advantage in using it.

So why should Apple Pay become popular, especially since it is a hardware dependent system that works for in-store purchases only on the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, precluding owners of any model (including the latest) of iPad or iPhones (like my “5″) prior to the “6″ models from using it?

Molly Wood of The New York Times found Apple Pay easy to set up and use, more or less, for in-store purchases, but so much so when buying online via the few (she says 20) apps that are “Apple Pay capable.”

And this video from The Verge shows that using Apple Pay is simple, as long as the merchant can accept “contactless” payments.

Here’s a list of vendors who have or plan to jump onto the Apple Pay bandwagon. David Pogue of Yahoo Tech thinks it will eventually be terrific, but points out that you’ll only be able to use it now at 3 percent of U.S. merchants and that a group of them, including Wal-Mart and Starbucks, are planning to launch their own mobile payment platform and not sign up with Apple Pay.

However, even if Apple Pay works at a store where you shop, it may not accept your store-branded credit card, precluding you from some discounts available if you’d simply swiped the card through the card reader. And this Yahoo Tech story explains why those stores might be balking at allowing you to use Apple Pay.

The principle benefit of Apple Pay for consumers is that it may be more secure than swiping a credit card through a card reader at a retail store which, as we’ve seen in the last year such as with Target, might allow those who have hacked into the store’s computer system to obtain your credit card account or personal information.

New iMac Desktop

Last week Apple didn’t announce new laptop computers, but it’s 27″ iMac with Retina 5K display will knock the socks off at least some desktop computer users, especially those who do a lot of video editing.

Here’s David Pogue of Yahoo Tech taking his first look at the new desktop.

The base model costs $2,499 but my “Dream Machine” which includes additional memory and storage, a faster processor and video card, an external hard drive, Apple’s Final Cut Pro X video editing software, the AppleCare Protection Plan, and One to One in-store customer support, would set me back $4,395.99, plus tax (shipping is free).

I’ve had my 21.5″ iMac desktop for about three years and right now, it’s working fine, although the hard drive is running at close to full capacity and I should junk some files.

Sometime within the next two years, possibly sooner, it will be time for me to consider replacing it. And since I’m doing more video editing, a “5K” might be just the ticket.

When to Buy

Unlike with the release of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus last month, I haven’t heard any reports as yet that Apple’s new iPad Air 2 or iPad Mini 3 are sold out and on back-order forcing customers to wait a couple of weeks for delivery. But a check check on Apple’s Website showed me that a top-of-the-line 128 GB WiFi+Cellular “Air 2″ isn’t available for immediate pick up at any Apple Retail Store near me today, although the basic 16 GB model and the 64 GB models are. The same was true for the iPad Mini 3. But all models of the “2″ and “3″ are supposed to ship within 1-3 days if you order online for home delivery.

And the 27-inch iMac with Retina 5K display is available today for pickup in most stores near where I live in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Apple tends to participate in “Black Friday,” the day after Thanksgiving when many merchants offer deep discounts, creating “feeding frenzy” style buying both online and in stores that often makes or breaks the seller’s profit margin for the year. Sometimes Apple discounts some of its products, sometimes it gives buy a gift card to use to buy more Apple goodies.

What will Apple do this year? That’s unknown as yet, and probably won’t be announced until the last minute. But iPad sales have dropped off from their historic highs, so there’s a chance that Apple might offer “deals” on them this year to encourage existing iPad owners or new ones to plunk down cash for an Air 2 or Mini 3.

New Mac Operating System

Cats may have nine lives, but the Apple computer operating system, long named after such critters (Cheetah/Puma (1), Jaguar (2), Panther (3), Tiger (4), Leopard (5), Snow Leopard (6), Lion (7), Mountain Lion) outlived that naming convention and was replaced last year by “Mavericks.”

The latest version of the OS that was released this week is “Yosemite” which is intended to give Mac users an “iOS” experience and, in particular, make the interplay between Macs and the iPhone and iPad more seamless than ever.

Once again, we turn to David Pogue for visual commentary on the new Mac OS.


(See Pogue’s written story for more on “Yosemite.”)

Wow! I’ve got both an iPhone and iPad, so I’m frothing at the mouth about the prospects for “seeing Yosemite.” But while rushing off to the real Yosemite (as in “National Park”) might be easy since the park is only about a five hour drive from my home and the hordes of summer tourists are gone, I’m hesitant about replacing “Lion” on my iMac with “Yosemite.”

First of all, I still haven’t updated my iPad and my iPhone from iOS7 to iOS 8. When I reviewed the new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus back in mid-September, I said I’d probably wait a month or so before doing so in order to avoid delays in downloading the new mobile OS, and to let Apple and app developers discover and squash any software “bugs.”

Secondly, I need to make sure that my iMac has both the disk space and “guts” to run “Yosemite,” and whether it will run all of the features the new OS has to offer. It looks like my iMac meets the minimum system requirements and that only one feature (“Peer to Peer Airplay”) might not be available. Click here to go to Apple’s Website and learn what you’ll need for “Yosemite” to work for you, and read this CNET article for advice on installing the new OS.

Finally, as with moving from iOS7 to iOS8 on my Apple mobile devices, I’ll wait awhile before loading “Yosemite” onto my iMac, to avoid a possible “online traffic jam” as hordes of other Mac owners try to download it, and to give Apple a chance to deal with any bugs in the new OS, such as those reported yesterday by Apple Insider.

But eventually, I’m likely to follow the suggestion of Lifehacker and do so unless, of course, I decide to buy that “Dream Machine” iMac with Retina 5K display and ask Santa to bring me one for Christmas (along with an iPhone 6 Plus, too).

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Related Yahoo Tech story –

David Pogue Yosemite video.

Related Yahoo Tech story –

SF Chron story –

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