The Rare-Look Edition Sunday, March 29, 2020

Apple Stores In China Offer A Glimpse Into An Alternate Timeline With New Artwork And iPad Pro Displays, by Michael Steeber, 9to5Mac

On a brighter timeline, Apple Stores around the world are stocked with the brand new LiDAR-equipped iPad Pro and updated MacBook Air. In reality, every Apple Store outside of Greater China is closed indefinitely. The 52 stores that remain open now give a rare look into a global product launch that could have been.


MacBook Air 2020 Review: The Most Boring Mac Is Among The Best, by Samuel Axon, Ars Technica

Buy a MacBook Air if you want a Mac but sustained, heavy-duty performance isn’t what you need; get a MacBook Pro instead if you do need that kind of performance. But if macOS is negotiable, you might also consider the XPS 13, a Microsoft Surface device, or even an iPad Air or Pro.

So the new Air isn't "the world’s best laptop," as its predecessors were often called. It’s just a really good portable computer. But that’s not a criticism. I for one am grateful that there are so many appealing options out there now that it’s just about impossible for any laptop—even one this strong—to claim the title.

Apple's New Powerbeats Are OK, But Design Flaws Keep Them From Greatness, by Patrick Lucas Austin, Time

If you’re spending this much on headphones, you probably care about audio quality. Powerbeats delivers, sounding much better than most truly wireless options, including Apple’s AirPods. The bass is stronger and voices are clearer, though some might take issue with the sealed in-ear design for outdoors activities like running. Still, they sound great, and are as functional as the Powerbeats Pro, featuring capabilities like audio sharing when paired with an iPhone.

But the Powerbeats’ design is compromised in some frustrating ways. Every ear is different, but the Powerbeats don’t do enough to accommodate that variety. For me, the Powerbeats’ “adjustable” rubber hooks weren’t adjustable enough, and 10 minutes into my runs my ears would start to ache as they pressed against the rubber I had tugged and twisted on, only to have it slowly morph back into its uncomfortable original position.


Curse Words, by John Gruber, Daring Fireball

Cursor is an overloaded term.

Why Are Music Streams Down If Everyone's Stuck At Home? Experts Weigh In, by Geoff Mayfield, Variety

While it might seem counterintuitive that music streams would decline at a time when so many Americans were ordered to stay home, data-savvy label executives were neither startled nor concerned by the 7.6% drop in plays that happened in the March 13-19 tracking week. Simply put, they say it’s down to focus on news and other televised options; the loss of daily commutes, where many people stream music; and multiple people at home together streaming the same things.

Amid Our Fear, We’re Rediscovering Utopian Hopes Of A Connected World, by Alan Rusbridger, The Guardian

If this is the worst of times, it is also the best of times. In our anxiety we are drawing deep reserves of strength from others. In our isolation we are rediscovering community. In our confusion we are rethinking whom we trust. In our fragmentation we are rediscovering the value of institutions.

To each their own narrative or metaphor. If this feels like the blitz spirit to you, all well and good. Others find it helps to imagine a world recast through virtual networks.

But what it amounts to is this: there is such a thing as society and we are all interdependent. And if it sometimes takes a grave crisis to remind ourselves of these truths, then this moment may well be historic for the possibilities of hope as well as for all the tragedy and turmoil.