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Everything you missed at Apple and Google's events
Apple and Google hosted two huge keynotes this week. Here's what you probably missed from both of them.
It truly is Techtober.
Both Apple and Google hosted huge events this week to make some pretty major announcements. For Apple, it was time to show off its new MacBook Pros with more powerful M1-based processors, updated designs, more ports, and higher price tags. For Google, it was time to show the world what a true flagship Pixel smartphone was made of.
It’s a bit hard to believe that these announcements occurred in the same week, given how either company likely wanted the maximum amount of press coverage they could get. There was no clear “winner” in terms of press, at least to me, so it seems both did what they set out to do.
That being said, news like this moves way too quickly for anyone to be able to keep track of it all. Any reporter trying to cover these events had their work cut out for them - there’s just so much to talk about! I fell victim to this, and I’d like to help you all catch up on this week’s announcements while I try to do the same.
The Apple Music “Voice” plan
At the top of Apple’s keynote were a couple of music-related announcements, one of them being a new plan for Apple Music. It’s called the Voice plan, and it’s meant to be used primarily on Apple’s HomePods. You basically use Siri to request certain genres, playlists based on artists and moods, and other forms of musical content that doesn’t involve any specific selection.
The best way to look at it is like a Pandora or Amazon Prime Music alternative. You can’t select any song to listen to, you can’t save music to your library, and there’s no way to listen offline. The most influence you have over the music that plays is naming a genre, mood, or artist. Apple will give you access to what’s basically its entire catalog of music, you just won’t be able to listen to any of it on-demand.
This new tier costs $4.99/month which is the cheapest plan Apple’s ever offered (outside of the student discount on the Individual plan). It’s definitely a weird plan considering how much it leans into Siri for its functionality. If you plan to use your iPhone to mainly control music playback, you’ll more than likely wanna skip this tier and spend the extra $5 a month for an Individual plan. You’ll just be happier.
New HomePod mini colors
Coinciding with the new Apple Music plan and the updated third-gen AirPods, Apple announced new colors for the HomePod mini. There’s now a blue, orange, and yellow HomePod mini you can buy for the same $99. Other than the new colors, there is nothing else new to talk about in terms of HomePods, which means the HomePod mini will continue to drive all of Apple’s smart home speaker sales until something else comes down the pike.
macOS Monterey is dropping October 25th
If you own a supported Mac, you’ll be happy (or confused, or frustrated, or completely neutral) to know that macOS Monterey is gonna roll out starting October 25th. It’s definitely one of Apple’s more controversial updates with its new UI, but it does have a few good features like Universal Control (which’ll roll out later this fall) and Focus modes. There’s also a slew of FaceTime updates, a few Safari changes, new features in Messages, and more.
Android 12 is now available
This piece of news kind of got buried last Tuesday since Google didn’t address it during its event, but Android 12 is finally rolling out to supported Pixel phones. If you have a Pixel 3 or newer, you should get the update over the air over the next week or so, if it hasn’t reached your device already.
This update is one of Google’s bigger Android upgrades in the past few years with the introduction of its new Material You interface. I’m not sure how alone I am in this opinion, but I think the UI is kind of overrated. It looks sleek and modern, sure, but something about it just feels… off. Maybe I just don’t like the more abstract promotional renders Google’s been sharing everywhere to promote the UI. Whatever the case, I’ve been very lukewarm on the new design.
The Pixel Pass gets you a Pixel 6/Pro and a bunch of services for $45/month
A lot of people were interested in a piece I did that covered some the leaked details about Google’s Pixel Pass, a subscription plan that gets you a new Pixel 6 or 6 Pro and a bunch of services for a set monthly cost. Now that it’s officially a thing, I feel like there will be plenty of interest in it.
With the Pixel Pass, Google will give you either a Pixel 6 or 6 Pro and subscriptions to YouTube Premium, Google One, YouTube Music Premium, and Google Play Pass for a single monthly cost. Plans start at $45/month for a baseline Pixel 6 and $55/month for a 6 Pro. It seems like a pretty good deal since financing a Pixel 6 or 6 Pro by themselves is around $30-$35/month.
There’s a new Pixel Stand, but it’s still $79
Finally, there’s a new Pixel Stand. It can fast-charge your Pixel 6 at up to 23W, it has a fan, it’s much more angular, and it still costs $79. I think upwards of $50 is too much to charge for a wireless charger, so I’m definitely not intrigued by the new Pixel Stand at all. But I know some people have been waiting years for Google to release a new one, and this model should make them happy.