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Last updated 21/05/20
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Final AMA

Guest: Rene Ritchie

tank#0001: Hi Rene! :ablobwave: Glad to have you. How did you first get started in tech? Did you always know you wanted to do it? Did any major figures in the industry have influence?

I got a job doing web development and then got interested in PDAs and early smartphones. I hung out on TreoCentral to learn more about the Palm Treo, they spun off a website called Phonedifferent, and I eventually began working there. Dieter Bohn, who ran it, now at the Verge, was my biggest early influence.

DavidM#9437: Hi Rene, can you describe your workflow and the tools you use to take a content idea from idea to shooting?

I start off in Apple Notes on iPad or Mac, with Safari as a research tool. Then I write an outline and flesh it out, sometimes a little, often a lot. I shoot off that, bring the footage into Final Cut Pro X, edit the "a-roll" of me talking, add the b-roll of what I want to help make the points I'm trying to make, and then export in H.264 and upload to YouTube.

Streamwood14#2389: There has been some discussion that the upcoming phones released this fall will not have a charging port - is this a good move by Apple and the way of the future?

This fall is probably too early. I expect they'll still have lightning. Next fall I think we'll see that start to shift to Smart Connectors. Lightning was good for it's time, it let Apple ship the iPhone 5 before USB-C was ready for market. But it's still a physical plug which, which can result in hardware failure. I'd love to see Smart Connectors on the mainstream models and USB-C on the Pro models, because Pro. But I think we'll get Smart Connectors with adapters going forward.

iamchaosmikey#8894: How nervous were you about going independent?

So nervous! I gave my notice a month early so I could help with any March Apple event coverage, which obviously didn't happen. But then the whole shelter-in-place thing did happen and I wasn't sure if I'd just had the worst timing ever.

n4cer#1756: Hi Rene, what's your view on Jon Prosser?

I've enjoyed his show for years. I think he works really hard at making tech news entertaining, something that I have absolutely no ability to do. (He's also incredibly supportive of other YouTubers.)

A13#4935: Hello Rene, do you really think Apple will release a car? How successful do you think it’ll be?

A decade ago Apple had a Purple project to explore multitouch and a phone and a tablet ended up getting spun out of that as products. Now Apple has a Titan project to explore automation and a "car" may be spun out of that as a product, but what would that mean? An actual single owner vehicle? An AV? An eBike? A fleet of Apple-owned cars that ferry people around cities? A home robot? LiDAR on the iPad Pro is probably the first tech coming out of that project, but it's going to be a long road (no pun intended) to a big commercial project like a car.

SigmaSquadron#0001: Why did you decide to go independent?

The work I wanted to do probably wasn't going to be that valuable to Future/iMore but was going to be valuable to me. I didn't just want to cash a check, that didn't seem fair to anybody. So, I figured the best thing to do was go indie and see if I could make it work.

OhItsReallyNoah#4759: If you had to choose a 3 device starter pack for someone switching to apple, what would it be?

I think I answered this one? Lost cost: iPad 10.2, iPhone SE, either Watch 3 or AirPods. Premium: MacBook Air, iPhone 11, either AirPods Pro or Apple Watch 5.

Matt DeForrest #4186: In your descriptions of Nebula, you talk about educational creators (or something like that). How do you position that category relative to traditional education (i.e., K-12 + university)?

I think education, in the context of YouTube and Nebula, is more like PBS and less like K-12. It's taking subjects like science, engineering, arts, etc. and making relatively short form (10-60 min) videos that explain those subjects. Wendover, Real Engineering, Real Science, all that kind of stuff.

Eli#3333: What is your favorite piece of technology you've ever owned?

Currently iPhone 11 Pro. Before that, iPhone X. Before that, iPhone 7. Before that, iPhone 4s (fixed antennas!). Before that, OG iPhone. Before that, Treo 680. Before that, Amiga 2000. Before that, Apple II Plus. :)

jemes#5573: If you could have any colour replace Midnight Green on the 12 Pro models, what would you choose?

Great question! Mace Windu Lightsaber Purple! (Runner-up: Product RED)

ricard#4224: Good evening Rene (an European here :blush:). How do you objectively think Apple will handle the transition to ARM MacBooks and do you think people buying Intel-based MacBooks in 2020/2021 will be harmed in terms of the longevity of their devices?

Good evening! Thanks for staying up late for this! I think the transition to ARM will be handled similarly to the transition from PowerPC to Intel. We'll get an announcement followed by a succession of products over the next year or so. I don't think anyone will be harmed by final-stage Intel Macs. I think some people will be apprehensive of ARM Macs and consider the mature Intel Macs a much better investment for the first few years until ARM proves itself, and app compatibility stabilizes.

n4cer#1756: Rene, What in your opinion is the feature still missing from the Apple Watches today?

Sleep tracking is one of the biggest. Apple bought Beddit a couple years ago and we still don't have anything there, especially an ultra-low power mode and fast-charging combo to make it really convenient to do. That said, I'm really intrigued by the rumors of mental health features. Also, of course, I'd love it if the Apple Watch could become fully independent from the iPhone.

DavidM#9437: Do you have any tips or tricks for finding relevant b-roll and ensuring there’s no copyright issues?

The first isn't really a trick, but shoot as much as you can yourself, and always grab extra when you are shooting so you can use it not just for one video but many videos. The second is stock footage sites. There are a bunch of those. Useful if you need something that you just can't get. Again, try for things you can re-use so it doesn't get too expensive. Third is copyrighted but fair use footage, but you really have to make sure you're using it fairly — transform it, criticize it, comment on it. And the contest any strikes that you think aren't in the spirit of fair use.

AgentF1981#8468: Do you think Apple's obsession with thinness hampers the MacBooks Pro performance?

Thinness is more of a marketing spin on lightness, which was a big thing for Jony Ive and team. Lightness is a usability advantage. No one thinks they need lighter devices but everyone complains when they're heavy, especially when you have to hold/carry them for long periods of time. Performance is hard right now because thanks to Intel changing how their silicon works, and a lot of really bad articles and videos on "thermal throttling" people have been really confused by it. Every device is a trade off. All design is a compromise. Apple can make bigger, heavier devices with bigger thermal capacity, but they won't sell as well. Even to pros. As much as people rag on the 2016 MacBook Pro line, it was the best selling line ever, by far. If you unplug a machine and it suddenly goes into low-power mode or the battery goes to 1 hour, is that better? Intel only guarantees base frequencies these days. Apple believes in running at thermal max. Those two realities, combined with them wanting to ship MacBooks that more than just a small niche of people want to buy gives us the current compromise. I don't mind it, I just think they should always have a model on the very top that gives production pros hardcore options. The 16-inch MacBook Pro was a step in that direction. Woof, sorry for blathering on that long!

DrewLikesBacon#8588: Rene, what might an apple car look like, if it's getting released?

I have a suspicion the original plan was probably the shuttle buses that take Apple workers to AC2 and Infinite Loop. If they ever produce an actual car, I think the core aesthetic of simplicity will still win out. Nothing extraneous or fancy. Simple lines.

Ymerix#5109: Which killer feature is missing on iOS ?

I still want multi-factor biometrics. A system that takes snippets of facial-geometry, voice utterances, fragments of fingerprints, gait analysis, and maintains a threshold of trust so you don't have to actively authenticate, unless and until it loses that trust. Face ID isn't great with masks, Touch ID isn't great with gloves. We need something more passive and more robust. Also, working Siri would be nice. Voice interface and ambient computing will be huge parts of the future, especially the AR future Apple is working on. Siri needs to be fixed and fast for that to happen. (For most people, I think they'd say a new, dynamic SpringBoard, ThemeKit, and a proper FontKit too.)

Matt DeForrest #4186: What bag do you use when you are just taking your iPad out to the coffee shop (as opposed to the full kit when traveling to something like WWDC)?

I've just switched to the new Peak Design backpack, which is pretty good. For years I used a Tumi Alpha Bravo backpack, which I loved. I'm a big believer in backpacks because messenger bags just feel like they keep pulling your spine sideways and messing with your posture.

DavidM#9437: How do you like to organize your footage to find it easily?

I'm kinda legit terrible at that. Right now I just put it in folders named after what the shoot was for. So, for example, "iPhone 11 B-Roll", "Pixel 4 B-Roll", "AirPods Pro B-Roll".

MatteBlxck#6723: Rene, what new stuff do you think will come to the iPad Air (4th Gen) and when?

I'm actually working on a video for that now, probably for next week. (Might do iPad mini first). Typically, Apple pushes down technologies from the premium to the mid-range, especially when the premium has just gotten or is getting new technologies to maintain differentiation. It may be too early for the new redesign and Apple Pencil 2/Magic Keyboard to get pushed down to the new Air. So, maybe we'll just see a slightly bigger size, maybe ProMotion display (I don't think it has that yet?), and updated processor for now. If Apple waits until next year to update, after the miniLED iPad Pro ships, maybe more?

n4cer#1756: Rene, do you think iPad OS will see significant updates to align it closer to the Mac OS at WWDC this year?

I think some people within Apple were planning on a new OS to replace both the current, still NEXT-based, macOS and iOS, but I don't think that's moving forward yet. The iPad was never designed to be a Mac. It was designed to be a computer for everyone for whom the Mac was too complex, confusing, and off-putting. So, while I think Apple has finally decided to give in to the nerds and give us more traditional computing features, I think they're also careful not to turn the iPad into a traditional computer that would alienate the far bigger mainstream market. Under the covers, I think there'll continue to be better integrated plumbing. In terms of interface, I think they'll continue to have different priorities. We can't get to the future if we keep running back to the past, but we shouldn't throw out what works until we can make something truly better, if that makes sense?

AgentF1981#8468: Do you think Apple will bring multiple user accounts to iPadOS?

I really want multi-user on iPad. It already exists for education iPads. There's even a no-user mode that resets and wipes after every use. I don't think just porting over macOS multi-user would be a great experience, but something tied to iCloud that more efficiently manages overlap between users while protecting personal instances and unique storage containers would be great.

MatteBlxck#6723: Rene, what do you think is a good iPad to start with Id you’re just getting into the Apple ecosystem?

If you're tight on money, the 10.2 inch iPad is still one of the best values in tech today. If you already have like a PC laptop or gaming PC, and want something fancier, either the iPad Air or 11-inch iPad Pro are great secondary machines. If you want something you can use instead of a laptop, and money is no object, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro with Magic Keyboard feels like the first real convertible from an Apple point of view.

n4cer#1756: Rene, what are your thoughts on Siri. Specifically the rate at which Apple deliver updates to it?

I think Apple needs to treat Siri as one of their highest priorities. In my opinion, John Gianandrea's ML team will be as important to the next decade of Apple as Johny Srouji's silicon team has been to the last decade. And Siri needs to be the front-end to that. If I got three magic Siri wishes, I'd ask for a complete overhaul and relaunch, followed by constant streaming updates, and SiriOS as the layer that sits on top of everything else. The goal should be not just to beat Alexa or Google Assistant, but to beat JARVIS and FRIDAY. And right now Siri just isn't anywhere near that. Which is like the Mac shipping with a worse GUI than Windows 3.

ricard#4224: If Apple decides to completely change the design of the next line of MacBooks Pro, adopting a kind of design change cycle like that of the iPhone, what differences would you like to see happening on the Air, Pro 13/14 and Pro 16 models (and do you think the Macbook models should be more differentiated in terms of design)?

For the MacBook, I'd love for Apple to continue their war on bezels and go edge-to-edge on the displays like they have on modern iPhones. You don't need to hold them like iPads, so go nuts. Delete those things. Then add a Face ID system. If we're still on Intel, than a T3 based on A12 with a proper neural engine. Also a proper camera along with it, even if the casing has to thicken a little around the camera point. I don't think the rest of it has to change much. I would like to see ports on both sides of the Air and 4 ports on all Pros, because Pro. If they're going to keep the Touch Bar, they should improve it. It's been years. Taptics/haptics is the obvious next step. I don't think they need any big structural changes, though. The unibody design has proven really durable.

DavidM#9437: Which equipment have you purchased for your vid work do you feel has had the greatest impact for the least cost?

Blankets! You put them on the floor and around you and they make the sound much better. Also, something black/white/gray you can have or hold in the shot. It could be a proper color card or even just a gray Apple Watch band. Anything that you can pull up in frame later and use to fix white balance if you have to. Also, a lot of stuff is "free" just learned. Like learning how to set proper frame rate, refresh rate, white balance, etc. for whatever camera you're using.

pointlessduffin#3953: is it worth it to upgrade from the xr to the se 2020?

That's a very personal question. It depends on what's valuable to you. You'd lose the modern design, Face ID, and gesture navigation, which some people prefer. But if you really want Touch ID back, it might be worth it to you. You also lose display size and battery life, but you gain slightly better performance and photos. I personally wouldn't do it unless you really want Touch ID back badly. I'd wait for the iPhone 12 (mini).

OhItsReallyNoah#4759: Do you thing the iMac Pro will ever get an update as we are 6 months away from it's three year anniversary?

I hope so. You can argue that Intel's XEON chips haven't been compelling from an upgrade standpoint over the last couple of years but there's zero excuse to not be upgrading the GPU at least once a year. That Mac team is really resource strapped, though, and has been busy with the Mac Pro and getting Magic Keyboards into everything. (I know it's weird thinking about Apple being resource strapped, but most of the talent they get goes into SPG (special projects, which all the hotshots want to be on), iPhone (which makes all the money), etc. It's like an agent who has a few older, crooner clients but also Taylor Swift. My guess is the iMac Pro will get it's update with miniLED displays, which were pushed back to next year. Fingers crossed, redesign as well.

pointlessduffin#3953: Is the cheapest 2020 4 Port MacBook Pro a good buy for a heavy multitasker and a programming student or should i consider something else?

The dirty little secret is that they're mostly all fine. They'll all run at thermal max, boost to give the perception of snappy app launch, web loads, and ramp ups, but then coast down to base frequencies for sustained loads. It's like running a Ferrari on a highway, depending on the amount of traffic. You'll still get from A to B in any of the models. For a lot of multitasking, like if you really mean a ton of high demand applications running at the same time, just max out the memory. You can go to 32 now :)

xlite#1709: So there are low, mid, and mmWave 5G. With companies like OnePlus and Samsung making separate models for mmWave 5G. Do you think Apple will do the same with the iPhone?

I'm not convinced mmWave will ever be a real consumer technology. I have a suspicion it'll end up like WiMAX with very limited, specific use. I think the rumor is all iPhone 12 models will have Sub-6 and only the Pro models will have mmWave. Unless you nest up on an mmWave antenna, though, I'm not sure how useful it will be. Sub-6 I really like, though, because as Daniel Bader says, it will finally make the promise of LTE real for people in rural and other under-served areas.

ricard#4224: Rene, it is undeniable that, above any technical specs, Apple's greatest asset is the pleasure and engagement that the brand has been able to create with its consumers, especially over the past two decades - can you describe specific reasons why you enjoy being part of the universe of Apple products users so much and why we keep this incessant curiosity about what is to come next for this particular brand?

I used to be all in on Microsoft. I had an HP Jornada, Palm Treo Pro (WinMo), XBox, Dell laptop, everything. And Bill Gates would come out at CES every year and show off these demos of all of it just working together. But it never shipped. Like, not ever. So when my new Dell laptop came, running Vista, and said it didn't have drivers for the display it shipped with, the IT team at work just took it away and gave me a 17-inch MBP instead. About the same time, Steve Jobs announced the iPhone (and Apple TV). And, piece by piece, Apple began to ship a truly integrated line of products that created an experience in whole greater than the sum of any part. I think they realized at that point that low cost could beat specs, but low cost had no brand loyalty or sustainability. But that experience could beat low cost * and * specs. And that had brand loyalty and sustainability. And what's super interesting is that all these products are hard to predict in advance but really obvious in hindsight. It's why I'm never really that interested in what's coming next. There will always be another iPhone. I'm interested in the way in which it's coming. What problem will it solve? That's endlessly fascinating to me.

OhItsReallyNoah#4759: Do you think there will be any meaningful upgrades in the AW Series 6?

Not everyone buys new versions every year. I think tech pubs and YouTubers have confused people into concentrating on year-over-year upgrades but regular people just don't shop that way. So, the important thing isn't that Apple Watch 6 is much different than Apple Watch 5, because very few people will buy them sequentially. What's important is that if you still have Apple Watch 0 or AW 1 or 2, even 3, or you've never bought an Apple Watch and are finally ready to buy, that you get the very best version of the Apple Watch possible so it lasts you as long as possible and gets updates for as long as possible. The important thing is that, whether the update cycle in 2 or 3 or 5 years, the updates between those models are significant. That said, I'm hoping for a special mode to make sleep tracking better, and for another step towards full-on Apple Watch independence. If you have an Apple Watch up to AW3, and you get the redesign, always on, and that, I think that'll be compelling.

Referee#1536: With unc0ver 5.0.0 / 5.0.1 being released a few days ago, have you jailbroken your iPhone? Do you have security concerns when it comes to jailbreaking?

No, I used to jailbreak back in the day to carrier unlock or to get apps or features like notification center, but I stopped a few years ago. I think there are some really cool tweaks still, just nothing that I need enough to jailbreak to get them. The security concerns I have are mostly around cracked apps/games. Those are a really easy way to get people, jailbreak or not, to self-infect. On the flip side, jailbreaks help indy security research and gets Apple to patch vulnerabilities that might be exploited by other, bad actors, so there's a plus as well.

MacLogical#6519: Should Apple have used an AMD Threadripper CPU for the recent Mac Pro model instead of the Intel Xeon?

My guess is Apple has an agreement with Intel that makes it financially advantageous, and also allows for deeper partnerships in terms of custom boards and integration for features like power nap. I don't think Apple would throw that out for a one-off on AMD. AMD would have to prove themselves with 3+ generations of much better chip sets,and a road map with much better performance efficiency for 5-10 years (there's no doubt AMD would work with Apple on the custom and integration parts though, they do that already for GPU). And, my guess is, by that time, Apple will be well into ramping up ARM.

Logan#4855: What’s the next thing your looking forward to in regards to HomeKit accessories?

I really, truly, sincerely want Apple to make a few, security and privacy-centric HomeKit accessories of their own. First, to dogfood HomeKit themselves and take some of that pain off third parties. Second, because things like routers, locks, and cameras would benefit from products from a company as security and privacy-by-design-centric as Apple. Sure, HomeKit Secure Routers and cameras at the API level are all well and good. But actual Apple AirPort Mesh, Apple Lock, and Apple iSight for Home would be better :slight_smile:

End of AMA.Message by tank#0001

Big thank you to @ReneRitchie#0847 for taking time out of his busy schedule and attending this AMA. We're glad to have hosted you, and are yet to see such brilliantly detailed answers from our AMA Guests! You can follow Rene on Twitter at https://twitter.com/reneritchie, or one of his social links below.

End of AMA. Final message by reneritchie#0847

Hi everyone! Name’s Rene Ritchie and I’ve been covering personal technology for just over a decade with a focus on Apple. Previously, I was editor-in-chief of iMore and Editorial Director for Mobile Nations. Now, I’m indie and you can find my videos at https://www.youtube.com/reneritchie, my podcasts at https://apple.co/reneritchie, my blog at https://www.reneritchie.net/, or just hang out with me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/reneritchie or Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/reneritchie.