As we close in on rounding out the year, time to look back at the Apple bits that arrived at my doorstep in 2022
Merry Christmas with a HomePod mini
My year of Apple tech started on Christmas Day last year.
Little did I know what the year was going to hold in store for me, but it started off strong. I woke up a year ago to a HomePod mini under the tree – a gift from my little girl (well, 23…but you know what I mean!).
I had never owned an Apple speaker. Much to my dismay, I totally missed out on the full-blown HomePod when it was released in 2018. Of course, it had a pretty short lifespan of only three years, it was overpriced, and beset with quality issues. But, the one thing that virtually everyone seemed to agree upon, was that the audio was brilliant.
Clearly, I can’t testify to that, but, the HomePod mini is not too shabby. I have a reasonable ear, and although not a full-blown audiophile, can pick out the good from the bad.
I am writing today, at home, in the living room, with Con Funk Shun coming out of a pair of HomePod minis that are facing me. That’s right, not long after receiving that first one, I was that happy enough with it, that I bought a second. The benefit of having two speakers, is that stereo separation will alwaysbe better, and it certainly won out over the Sony soundbar that it replaced.
The bass is a little thin, but the mids, where a lot of the action takes place, is actually easy on the ear. They are loud enough to fill a decent sized living room, and they get used every day.
Siri is next to useless on these, as it is on most devices, but the Handoff feature is brilliant. The ease of continuing to listen to something that you had on whilst out, is a BIG plus.
And leading on from the HomePod mini, and the real reason I decided on getting a pair of them…
Apple TV 4K
I had bought my first years ago…around 2013 if memory serves.
Being honest, it just gathered dust, and it hardly ever got used. Like most, I lost that stupidly slim, original remote control, and had to order a replacement. But, the main reason I didn’t use it that much, was back then, there was not much original content on it.
If you have read me at all regularly this year, you’ll know what a massive fan I am of Apple TV+. The Apple TV box, is now how I consume the majority of my content.
The set-up is very Apple. From the colour calibration, to the audio integration, it is both thorough, and easy. As you’d expect, your iPhone is central to the set-up. Although, you can use the Apple TV straight from the box, it’s worth taking your time to go through the various menus, and get the box set to your liking and preferences.
The Apple Original content is just stunning now. There is so much to choose from, with more being added, seemingly, weekly. Last month, I wrote about just some of the highlights that I have watched this year. Black Bird, The Morning Show, Five Days at Memorial, Bad Sisters, Slow Horses, CODA, The Greatest Beer Run Ever, Sidney, Emancipation…you get the idea.
They all feel like an event, not just a TV programme – the lighting, cinematography, and production are more movie-like. And that is where you get the payback from setting your Apple TV box up correctly so that you get the most from it when watching the content.
One other thing, I happen to like, is that they have almost returned to old-fashioned values – with episodes often being released one at a time every Friday. The binge-watch culture is all well-and-good, but looking forward to a new episode, weekly, took me back a few years, and I happen to love it.
If you’ve not yet checked out Apple TV 4K, do yourself a favour for the New Year. I’d be surprised if you didn’t fall for it like I have over the past twelve months.
This was the big one of the year.
In the spec I have chosen, the price-tag was over £4000. I can’t properly justify that money, except to say that it’s the Mac I spend most of my days in front of. The nature of work I do, outside of writing, requires a reasonable amount of grunt, and Apple silicon, with the M1 Max chip, delivers that by the bucket-load.
To avoid any buyers’ remorse, I decided to tick as many boxes at check-out as possible. The MacBook Pro I am writing this on today, is the 16-inch, 32GB version, with a whopping 4TB of SSD, internal storage.
The Liquid Retina XDR, 120Hz, ProMotion display is an absolute joy to work on. Colour accurate, vibrant, and immersive. The backlit keyboard, trackpad, and audio configuration, have made this MacBook every bit the workhorse I was hoping it would become.
Expensive for sure, but the way it gobbles up whatever I throw its way, and silently as well, has almost justified the price. Apple silicon really has changed what you can expect from a laptop, and, performance in general.
The Studio Display
Ordered at the same time as the MBP, was the gorgeous Studio Display. I had, for the first time, made the switch from a desktop Mac, to a laptop. Whilst there was no trade-off in terms of performance, obviously, coming from a 27-inch iMac display, there was, in visual real-estate.
I have been lucky with mine, and have had no buzzing noises, or any other quality issues. The firmware updates have gone some way to sorting the webcam issues that shipped with the panel, but apart from that, the 5K display is all I’d hoped it would be, and a perfect partner to the MacBook Pro.
M2 MacBook Air
Probably my most underused device that I bought this year.
That speaks more poorly of me, though, than the abilities of the MacBook Air. Due to the cost, and sheer weight of the MacBook Pro, whenever I go on the road, I always leave that behind, and grab the M2 MacBook Air.
Having this Mac is all the reason I need not to buy an iPad. It gives me the full desktop experience, with macOS. It is light, portable, and means I can work pretty effectively whilst away from the studio.
I did carry out some basic audio, and video editing on it this summer. The M2 silicon managed to get the job done, which is pretty impressive for such a thin, and small Mac. Again, I come back to my point, that Apple silicon, really has pushed the boundaries of what us Mac users can expect from our machines.
There is rumour of a 15-inch MacBook Air coming out in 2023 as well…interesting…
iPhone 14 Pro
This was the first time I had owned a Pro iPhone, and it is a remarkable handset.
Again, mine was bought as a business decision first and foremost. I bought it for the video camera set-up that the 14 Pro was packing, to shoot all the video for myYouTube channel.
This phone now shoots 4K, 24 or 30FPS Cinematic, and the file sizes are super manageable. I did try shooting ProRes, but the files are just too big to work with. I even struggled to get them off the phone to edit!
The still camera is equally impressive, and there, I do shoot ProRaw – which offers me as much information to edit with in post as possible. Yeah, the files are bigger, but manageable. Generally, they are around 45MB-65MB, and the benefits are worth it to me.
The battery life is not quite what I had hoped for, but that is considerably better now in iOS 16.2, with the re-worked always-on display. My only word of caution would be, buy a 14 with decent storage. All the these video and photo files soon add up. Mine has 1TB of storage, which is a great peace of mind.
Dynamic Island was a bit of a miss for me, but, as more apps come on-board with it, may be my opinions will change next year.
My first Apple Watch, was this year’s 8. It was a slow grower, but now I adore it.
I’d still find it hard to sum-up in a single sentence as to why you’d want one, but the more active you are, the more it will become ingrained in your life. I wear it to bed, so it is tracking my sleep, and all day too.
The battery on the watch, actually, exceeded my expectations, easily lasting a day-and-a-half. And in that time, it will have tracked two, or three workouts, and all my other activities.
The watch, along with Apple Fitness+ have both made positive changes to my health and fitness levels this year. Even if it is the simple prompt to get up and move from the desk, Apple Watch has become central to my day.
I have also become addicted to the series of ‘Time to Walk’ podcasts. They offer a great alternative to music, or my go-to tech podcasts, and they have some really cool guests narrating their experiences and life-stories.
Apple Watch – five years too late, but now I get it!
Almost saving the best until last.
I ended up buying two pairs of AirPods Pro this year. In the spring, I upgraded to my first pair, then in the fall, I bought the second generation pair. WOW!
The improvements made to this second gen from the ANC, through to the sound stage, and battery life are just huge. They sat on my desk for a few days before unpacking and using them. From the moment I started to wear them, I was addicted.
What Apple has managed to pack in to such a small pair of earbuds in nothing short of spectacular.
Not only is the macOS Ventura feature itself impressive, so too is the Belkin mount that you can buy from Apple that turns your iPhone in to a simple-to-use webcam. I have used it several times now for interviews and FaceTime calls, and it is by far the best webcam I have ever used.
Well, 2022 proved to be quite the Apple year for me.
I didn’t go in to it expecting to add so much to my stash – it just kind of happened. I know, more than ever now, I am so deeply part of the Apple ecosystem, that, walking away from it, even if I wanted to, would be a messy divorce.
I changed all my various subs over to Apple One late this year to save a few quid, and simplify my outgoings. Not only did it serve that purpose, but it also gave me Apple News, which I now open up once or twice a day, at least.
As to the year ahead – who knows what that will hold for me. The main headline attractions of the headset & Mac Pro, although exciting, are not for me, but if that new HomePod comes along…I may be tempted. Oh, and then there is the USB-C iPhone 15, and AirPod Max.
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