MacBook Pro keyboards, Nikon cameras, and iMac Pro service - the stories that we liked the most in 2018
Every venue in the history of publication has pieces that they like a lot — but never got as much traction as they thought it would. To celebrate the end of the year, AppleInsider staff got together to discuss not what you guys clicked on the most, but the editorial and feature pieces that we liked best in 2018.
While we came together as a group for picking the top 10 that we liked the most, we couldn't agree on order. So, pick your own order, and tell us which of these that you liked the best.
Looking back at Steve Jobs's NeXT, Inc — the most successful failure ever
Date published: September 12
Steve Jobs wasn't just the founder of Apple, he was instrumental in the development of another boutique computer company that had a lot of innovation under its belt NeXT. The story of NeXT is intertwined with Apple, and much of what you're using today wouldn't be the way it is if Apple didn't buy NeXT, which did far more than just return Steve Jobs to the company.
We took a look back at NeXT in September, and it was surprising how much of the saga wasn't lost, but fuzzy with time.
The 2016 MacBook Pro Keyboard saga
Date published: April 30 and July 13
Some of us have been Apple-centric for a long time, and we might know a guy or forty with some information behind the scenes. Starting at the tail-end of 2016, and continuing to this day, we've been collating service data from a wide array of shops, including some Genius Bars.
We'd been following the butterfly keyboard saga for some time, and it wasn't until April 2018 that we had enough data from the 2016 and 2017 models to draw any conclusions about failure rates.
No, it wasn't an epic number of failures, but it was enough to be noticeable in a machine with a lower failure rate overall than any other Retina MacBook Pro since inception.
Shortly after we released our report on the keyboards, Apple issued a repair program for the 2016 and 2017 models, and a but later, the 2018 MacBook Pro with a membrane that Apple says isn't for reliability improvement — but we'll see about that.
You'll be hearing more from us about this in 2019.
2018 i9 MacBook Pro thermal evaluations
Date published: July 18 and July 24
A short while after the 2018 World Wide Developer's Conference, Apple released new MacBook Pros, with far beefier processors versus the 2017 model. Since we know what you guys like, we knew from the get-go that we were going to have to look at each MacBook Pro release in its own piece.
In that comparative testing, we were a little puzzled by the difference between the GeekBench results and other tests that slam the hardware with more oomph than GeekBench does. So, we started looking into it — and found that the thermal situation was preventing the MacBook Pro from being all it could be.
Mike also appeared straight from his underground bunker in Northern Virginia on The New ScreenSavers with Leo Laporte to talk about it, a few days before Apple's patch to at least partially deal with the problem was released.
Our follow-up testing showed a vast improvement, and we absolutely adore the i9 MacBook Pros that we have.
But, to this day, we still think that the i9 in the high-end MacBook Pro could have been so much more for people that have long processing runs had Apple used a different thermal design when it crafted the 2016 chassis. Or, perhaps it could have been if Intel actually fulfilled promises for process size decreases that would have delivered a reduction in heat along the way.
MW07 wireless earphones review
Date published: September 13
Of all the headphones we tested this year, none impressed us as much as the MW07 from Master & Dynamic did. Known for their use of premium materials, the MW07 truly wireless earbuds are a higher-end alternative to Apple's AirPods. Even though they lack the custom W1 silicon of the AirPods, they make up for it with the design, build quality, and audio fidelity.
Each earbud is made from steel and hand-polished acetate like fashionable glasses. Pushing the beats are 10mm beryllium drivers capable of powerful bass and superior sound overall. If you are looking for something that looks and sounds better than AirPods, the MW07 are the ones we'd recommend.
And, they were fun to review.
How to upgrade the RAM on the new 2018 Mac mini
Date published: November 11
Apple made a big deal about the RAM being slotted in the Mac mini. So, we decided to see how easy it was, and make a guide about it. We were one of the first to get this done, with a follow-along printable guide.
It turns out it isn't as simple as unscrewing the bottom lid like the 2012, nor as complex as getting to the slots in the iMac Pro. But, if you're looking at 32GB or 64GB, it might be worth doing yourself.
Editorial: Ill-informed YouTuber bemoans Apple repair policies after breaking iMac Pro
Date published: April 18
You'd think that this one would have blown the doors off the place, given that we were criticizing a channel with millions of subscribers. Most of those fans weren't shy about demonstrating in our forums that they hadn't read our article, nor even scanned our forum rules before posting a missive about it.
In short, the Linus Tech Tips channel mangled multiple components of their iMac Pro during reassembly, and were thankfully truthful about the damage and how it happened. Yet, they were pretty upset when Apple refused to fix it in a retail store.
They then took it to an Apple-authorized shop. That shop wasn't quite so forthcoming about the reasons why they couldn't — or wouldn't — fix it, and gave the channel information that was false at best, and a lie to dodge the repair at the worst. As a result, LTT blamed Apple for having no part support, without actually doing any research beyond the one data point beforehand.
So, we called them out for not having the full story. Multiple AppleInsider staffers have worked in Apple authorized service departments and ones that were less-so over the last 30 years so we might know a thing or two about how it goes.
Ultimately, LTT figured out the facts of the matter a few months later, and published a few videos about how the Apple service program works after being educated by Louis Rossmann. In doing so, they confirmed everything we said in April about how Apple service departments work.
If only they had talked to Rossmann about Apple's service procedures before they published the first video.
Review: The Nikon Z7 camera is a future-forward mirrorless camera powerhouse
Date published: October 11
There are a lot of camera reviews, and there are a lot of Apple gear reviews. There aren't that many that focus on a camera from an Apple user's perspective.
Our Nikon Z7 review takes a look at the high-end hardware the same way that Apple's "Pro" market segment should. We examine it not just for how good the hardware is, but how well it integrates into an Apple Pro's workflow.
We've done a couple more like this since then, but this is the one that started it off.
Angela Ahrendts, the non-techie who runs Apple Retail, joined Apple on October 14, 2013
Date published: October 14
We usually look at Apple's products as they come out and we're always aware shortly thereafter of how well they do or don't sell. Yet, the bit in the middle tends to get ignored by everyone. Apple's retail arm is crucial to the existence of the company, and the work that goes on behind the scenes with the Apple Stores across the world is directly responsible for Apple becoming a trillion-dollar company.
The online and High Street Apple Stores had now been run by Angela Ahrendts for five years and this piece took her anniversary as an opportunity to examine the Apple product that is simultaneously its most visible and invisible.
Editorial: Apple has destroyed the potential of the Smart Connector on the new iPad Pro
Date published: November 27
We had so much hope for the Smart Connector when it debuted with the iPad Pro a few years ago. A simple dock connector not reliant on Lightning seemed like a pretty good idea.
Nobody did anything with it. And, when Apple refreshed the design of the iPad Pro in October, they changed where the connector sits on the device, ensuring that anything in the works by vendors wasn't going to be compatible with the new stuff.
Not great, and unnecessarily hostile to device manufacturers.
Understanding iCloud Drive and how to Save Money with Family Sharing
Date published: October 25, 2018
Apple's iCloud Family Sharing is a lot like your mobile plan and your cable company subscriptions. Things can change without much notice, and you could be saving some dough and getting a better experience if you stay on top of it. Family Sharing is a good way to not just share app purchases, but also a bit on storage for backups and whatnot as well.
It's always good when we can get you to save a few bucks on services you're already paying for. While you're at it, AppleInsider recommends reviewing all of your subscription services across the board on October 31 and April 1 — maybe you can cancel something you forgot you were paying for.