New iPad Pro, new 2020 MacBook Air, PlayStation 5 News

Good morning! Bustling with tech news today as companies looked to say: this is the new status quo, but we can still take the wraps off new things. Apple, Sony, Google, and more!

Apple launched new iPad Pros, and a new and fixed MacBook Air, with a press release. Obviously things are different now, and whereas once Apple would’ve held an early spring March event around this time, ended up being a news announcement on its blog. Plus hype video, of course.
What’s new in iPad:
  • Apple’s new iPad Pro showed us a whole approach for the iPad, as suspected, adding trackpad+mouse support, an 8-core CPU, 6GB of RAM, same U1 chip as iPhone 11, a wild new keyboard cover/stand setup, and LiDAR sensor for depth-sensing and better augmented reality (AR). 
  • By the way, Apple’s “LiDAR” is the industry’s time-of-flight sensor (ToF). It’s the same type of sensor, as Tom’s Guide explains.. 
  • So, for example, the Samsung Galaxy S20 has the same sensor, although Apple suggests its solution has more tricks, but Sony owns 95% of the hardware ToF market for this. That implies it is the same Sony sensor being used, but that’s just speculation. 
  • The best news out of all of this is that this means AR is hugely more feasible, and it’ll be on an iPhone before too long.
iPad Pro pricing:
  • The new iPad Pro comes in 11-inch and 12.9-inch sizes, and starts at $799 for the 11-inch for 128GB storage, up to $1449 for 1TB storage, wifi+cellular.
  • It’s $999 for the 12.9-inch at 128GB storage, and up to $1,649.00 for 1TB storage, wifi+cellular, all available from March 25.
  • Those prices aren’t cheap, and getting close to highly capable laptop specs.
  • The kicker is the new keyboard cover and stand, called the Magic Keyboard, is another few hundred on top, and not available until May
  • “Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro will be available for purchase in May for $299 (US) for the 11-inch iPad Pro and $349 (US) for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro,” notes Apple.
  • $349! Even for Apple, even for Apple, that’s very very expensive. It does have some clever tricks.
  • Adding a trackpad for a touch device isn’t necessarily what you’d expect. Why, people shout.
  • But bring it on because this gives the iPad Pro more flexibility than ever before.
  • Apple is coming to the world of Microsoft Surface, as much as it wouldn’t want to admit that, but with potentially an overall more thoughtful approach. And the Surface solution with powerful tablet/PC and keyboard setup works well.
  • Take how the iPad’s new trackpad actually works, courtesy of this good breakdown from The Verge. It’s not a normal mouse cursor experience, only appearing when you need it, snapping to useful items, changing shape, and more. The trackpad also offers gestures.
  • Hats off to Apple’s industrial design, yet again.
  • Steven Sinofky has a nice Twitter thread (more easily readable here on Medium) explaining why the rush to condemn Apple for making the iPad Pro more like a laptop/desktop is not interesting. 
  • Yes, it is like a Microsoft Surface, and that doesn’t look like a bad thing at all, even if Apple is on the front foot, saying “Your next computer is not a computer.” (It is!)
  • Anyway, what’s far more interesting is that the reviews say about the complete setup, and how well it works with software, and if this is an update, or a truly new generation approach to working.
2020 MacBook Air:
  • The MacBook Air finally looks buyable!
  • The keyboard is fixed, adopting the new(/old) scissor keyboard also on the new MacBook Pro models, and there’s faster performance, and more storage, with the same form factor.
  • It packs twice the storage as the previous model, starting at 256GB, up to 2TB.
  • 10th-gen Intel Ice Lake processors (Y-series) power the devices, with Intel Iris Plus Graphics for better GPU power.
  • The good news is the price: the 2020 MacBook Air has a base price of $999, down from the previous $1099, and it’s a wildly better machine.
  • However, it’s much better to pay at least $1299 to get a quad-core CPU with 512GB SSD.
  • And that might just be all you need! For anyone wanting a Mac that does a mix of work, browsing, streaming, and socializing, and a little coding, design work, and higher-demand work, this is again the right place to look, after more than 4 years in the wilderness.

🔩Sony PS5

As promised, Sony detailed the system architecture going into the new PlayStation 5. 
  • Straight away people are diving into comparisons with the Xbox Series X , and from a top-down view, the specs are going to be similar given both systems use the same AMD processor and graphics architectures. See this comparison (complete with a typo or two, but the numbers are right):
(Image via Reddit).
  • But there appear to be a few crucial details: while both will cut game load times by huge percentages in the switch to SSDs, Sony looks to have focused on further reducing game load times by increasing SSD speeds: Sony says it has 5.5GB/s data transfer which is faster than the 2.4GB/s loading quoted by Microsoft for the upcoming Xbox Series X.
  • But then the Xbox Series X has the same CPU and GPU but at higher clock speeds, and more teraflops/CU output, with higher memory bandwidth (10GB runs at 560GB/s).
  • The difference may be that Sony’s CPU and GPU will be running at variable frequencies.
  • More from Digital Foundry (YouTube).
Does it matter?
  • Console fans loooove to debate Xbox vs PlayStation and which console is more powerful/better/masterful and so on.
  • More important though is the ecosystem and games.
  • Sony’s collection of first-party studios is what drives PlayStation’s exclusive games to be arguably the best reason to own a PS5, while Microsoft is working magic with Xbox Game Pass, PC crossover, backwards-compatibility, and has bought multiple game studios.
  • Sony did say it is working to bring most of the top 100 most popular PS4 titles to PS5 via backwards-compatibility at launch, too.
  • All together, what’s clear is one of gaming’s best eras is right around the corner, and pricing will be one of the most interesting factors.
  • More from Kotaku, and a reality check on what matters from a game developer at Big Evil Corp (Twitter), and it's not teraflops.

Round Up:

🆕 Google releases Android 11 Developer Preview 2 with a variety of new features, both user-facing and behind-the-scenes. Support for call screening, hinge angle detection on foldables, new Neural Networks API functionality, and more (Android Authority).
🤳 Here’s why we aren’t seeing many phones with pop-up selfie cameras in 2020: heat dissipation, battery life (Android Authority).
🚫 Samsung closes all US, Canadian stores for now, online support and sales still available (Android Authority).
📺 “After The Mandalorian, I haven't used Disney Plus in months”. You? (CNET).
🏥 Elon Musk: Tesla 'will make ventilators if there is a shortage', in a Twitter back-and-forth with Nate Silver (Engadget).
⛔ Google pauses Chrome and Chrome OS releases due to outbreak, citing “adjusted work schedules” (TechCrunch).
🌸 Washington, DC's famous cherry blossoms are almost in full bloom, and you probably can’t go see them so have a look! (WTOP).
👨🚀 How to keep astronauts sane: The psychology of long-duration space missions (Digital Trends).
🏂 The Alto games are free on iOS and Android right now: Alto’s Adventure and Odyssey both ( and Love them both.
🍿 Conan O'Brien will shoot full-length shows using an iPhone and Skype (Engadget).
🎥 Heard about the pandemic? On ‘Big Brother,’ in Germany, they hadn’t (NY Times).
🏎 This new sensor is how F1 plans to stop teams from cheating in 2020 (Ars Technica). While we’re here, 24 Hours of Le Mans has been pushed back to September.
🚢 The world's biggest hospital ship is coming to NYC to help (Jalopnik).
😷 “Will social distancing make viruses other than COVID-19 go extinct?” (r/askreddit).