April 24, 2015. It was to be a big day in Apple’s history, and a big day for Tim Cook to show the world he could match the brilliance of his predecessor Steve Jobs. Apple Watch was finally available for sale. It was Cook’s first new product category and it was fully under his direction and guidance. The result? Yawn.
Apple Watch is cool and works well within the Apple eco system, but it wasn’t a must-have item, and yet Apple spent abundant resources on bringing this gem (pun intended) to market. Products that suffered in Apple Watch’s development wake have been iPhone, iPad, iOS, Mac and OS X. It seems under Cook Apple can really only fully focus on one item at a time, which is exactly where Apple is today.
It seemed like an eternity for Apple to move to an iPhone display form factor larger than 4-inches, but then it happened. In the threat of Samsung and Android gaining massive market share against Apple's stodgy belief that a 4-inch iPhone was the perfect size, Apple released the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, and changed the course of the smartphone market.
Like going back to the future, today there is now the iPhone SE, which is chalk full of iPhone 6S power and abilities, all housed within a 4-inch display form factor, and costing only $399 off-contract. Apple CEO, Tim Cook, has explained to CNBC's Jim Cramer, the iPhone SE is seeing better than anticipated sales. Despite iPhone SE's lower price point, Apple is likely to quietly push sales of the phone in Asia, and for good reason.
With the arrival of the 9.7" iPad Pro and its starting price point of $599, I began to wonder for whom is this product targeted? For starters, the new iPad Pro has many of the same features as its larger 12.9" sibling coupled with a few extra goodies, such as Apple's latest 12-megapixel iSight camera technologies, 4K video, and a higher resolution front-facing FaceTime camera. Technology aside, the answer that will – or will not – drive 9.7" iPad Pro sales is going to all about the screen size. Is it worth saving $200 to settle for a 9.7" display, or is it best to wait, save and purchase the original 12.9" iPad Pro?
I have a son who is battling this very question. He could certainly get into the iPad Pro 9.7" much sooner than saving and waiting to get the 12.9" version, but he is also an artist, and the extra screen real estate is likely to make a big difference over time. The questions for him are, how big a difference, and will he regret the smaller screen once he purchases it? If he purchases it?
We are nearing the one year anniversary of Tim Cook’s spring time special event. In 2015, Cook gathered the media to promote a product developed under his watch, Apple Watch (pun intended). While he announced it and showed the new device off to the world in October 2014, during the spring special event fully reviewed the watch as well as gave us a launch date. At the same event he showed us a new entry to the laptop lineup, MacBook. This sleek, 12" retina display Mac came with stunningly fast SSD, great battery life, a brand new keyboard and an all-new trackpad technology Apple calls force touch.
While neither of these products launched as everyone had hoped, both being in short supply, they were two brand new products. What most did not notice is that during the fall of 2015, Apple had only one special event, when in years past two were common. One event for iPhone and another for Macs. If Cook holds to a new pattern it means that we should expect a special event in March, then the WWDC in June, mostly focused on software, and then a final special event in September.
DuckDuckGo is the search engine that does not track your searches or send your search words/phrases to the websites you click on from their search engine. In other words DuckDuckGo values your privacy. Since its launch a few years ago, DuckDuckGo has grown in popularity and now is available a option in Safari on OS X, iOS, as well as Windows. In 2014 it became a default search engine option for Firefox browsers as well.
It must be that time of year, you know, the time of year when musicians get their groove on. According to the Mac App Store Garage Band In-App Purchases lead the way as the #1 purchased download. Interestingly AntiVirus Sentinel Pro is #2. This seems odd since the advent of OS X, anti-virus software has been less and less necessary. Windows that has been the germ spreader over the past decade and a half, but perhaps Windows defectors are buying a first time Mac. Therefore part of their thinking is that one must have anti-virus software. Rounding out the top five are Logic Pro X at #3, Document Writer at #4, and Final Cut Pro X at #5. The festive holidays must bring out the creative in people, with GarageBand, Logic Pro X and Final Cut Pro all in the Top 5.
Apple’s latest and greatest Apple TV ships with an all-new remote. Its touch control is a small improvement over the previous push button selector. Voice control is a nice addition. Its new layout and controls enabling TV power and volume are also nice features. But the biggest update to Apple TV's remote is its size.
Not once since having Apple TV in my living room have either myself, or my family, lost the diminutive compact remote. The previous remote was the same since the original Apple TV, and caused me countless headaches. It wasn’t that the remote was not well thought out, or didn’t work as advertised — it was fine in terms of functionality. However, the original Apple TV remote was simply too small for adult hands. The anodized aluminum and slim, curved design, was simply not that comfortable to hold. On the other hand the new Apple TV remote feels like what a remote should feel like.
With the advent of iOS 7, Apple included a feature called Frequent Locations. This was a tracking mechanism that allowed your iPhone to take inventory of where the iPhone went and how long it stayed in one location. With the release of iOS 9 Apple made this feature exceedingly more prominent, or intrusive (depending how one views it).
The way you know if Frequent Locations is activated is that your iPhone will pop up an alert telling you how many minutes it will take to get to a particular destination. For example around 6pm, when I would get into my car to head home, my iPhone would display “Approximately 44 minutes to reach home” or provide a similar message. At times iPhone would also inform me about traffic. My first thought was that I must have turned on some setting, but I realized I had not. My second thought was that this feature is creepy – how do I shut this off?
Apple’s all-new iPad Pro has been breaking some land-speed records. Testing has revealed the iPad Pro’s processor runs laps around Intel’s Core-M chipset (found within Apple’s MacBook), while coming perilously close to Intel’s flagship Core-i5 series of chips.
The simplified history is Apple’s ARM-based designs have been moving north faster than Intel can move south into the mobile space. The question one must ask is, how long will it be until Apple equips their Mac notebooks with their own A-series processors? There are a number of factors that go into such a massive foundational decision, but the positives — assuming the A–series chips continue their northerly trajectory — should quickly outweigh the negatives.
I have bemoaned Apple’s laptop lineup before, but every time I look at it, I still cringe. I can not imagine someone going into an Apple Store today and clearly understanding the reason (and the difference) between a 13" MacBook Air and a 12" MacBook. Or between an 11" MacBook Air and the new iPad Pro.
Tim Cook is running all about this week talking about the iPad Pro as his new notebook. He claims all he needs is his iPad Pro and his iPhone. Fine, fantastic. But while he is euphorically trying to restart growth in the iPad line up, he is, at the same time, furthering muddling the notebook line up, making the consumer choice confusing. Sometimes I long for the days where the authoritarian Steve Jobs would say you can have a notebook and it comes in these three models — that’s it. Jobs loved simplicity and Apple’s product lines almost always reflect that. Everything was easy to understand. The differences between each model was clear, including the pricing, and therefore made the choice simple for the purchaser.