iPhones, keyboards, and India
Instruction Set 2023/8/4
Welcome back to Multicore. This is Instruction Set for Friday, August 4th.
I don't even know where to start this week — there's a lot to get through even after breaking out Nintendo coverage into its own post. But hey, that's what Instruction Set is for. I'm just going to cut this intro off right here and hopefully get on a roll by writing about mechanical keyboards.
8BitDo is a company from Hong Kong that makes a bunch of game controllers, many of which are fantastic. The Pro 2 is my go-to for my MiSTer setup, I use the similar Xbox-branded version with my PC, and the wireless Arcade Stick is an invaluable tool for all the Arcade Archives games on my Switch.
For its latest product, 8BitDo is delving into the world of mechanical keyboards and, well, just look at them:
That’s the Famicom-themed version of the Retro Mechanical Keyboard.
And here’s the NES version.
Both come with oversized programmable A and B keys to stick somewhere else on your desk. There are also dedicated dials for volume and wireless connectivity on the top left.
The keyboard itself uses Kailh White switches, which are an updated take on Kailh’s previous Cherry MX Blue clones. In other words, it should be tactile, clicky, and kind of loud. That means it probably isn’t going to be a great choice for pro esports players, but it does feel appropriate for the vibe going on here.
While I’m a little confused by the Famicom version having Japanese hiragana characters on what is otherwise a US keyboard layout, I think both models look great. My PC keyboard is on its way out, and $100 sounds pretty reasonable for these — at least, barring any disastrous impressions upon their release later this month.
USB-C replacing the Lightning charging port on all new models, in accordance with EU regulation
Thinner bezels on the Pro models, down to 1.5mm from 2.2mm
Titanium edges on the Pro, replacing stainless steel
A 3nm process for the A17 processor
“Major” rear camera upgrades
A customisable “action button” that replaces the mute switch
Gurman also says the Apple Watch Series 9 and second-generation Apple Watch Ultra will have a genuinely new processor for the first time in three years. The S7 and S8 chips were essentially rebrands of 2020’s S6, so the move to a more up-to-date architecture should theoretically help with performance and/or battery life.
Apple, meanwhile, reported yesterday that its hardware revenue was down year-on-year across the iPhone, iPad, and Mac businesses in the April-June quarter. Total sales of $81.8 billion beat the company’s forecast, however, driven in part by record services revenue of $21.1 billion.
This is theoretically a “big redesign” year for the iPhone, but leaks suggest the changes might be quite subtle. They usually are, of course, and that hasn’t made much difference to Apple’s bottom line since the days of the maligned “S” refreshes.
I do wonder how the USB-C storyline will play out in mainstream circles. It’s clearly a pro-consumer move — albeit an unwilling one — but I can already see the UK tabloid headlines shrieking about how Apple is forcing you to buy new charging cables.
Here’s a fascinating product launch from India. Jio is the country’s leading mobile operator and drove telecom incumbents out of business by bringing cheap 4G service to hundreds of millions of Indians. Now it’s putting out laptops running a forked version of Android called JioOS.
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