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.
OS X has been my favorite OS since its launch way back in 2001. I find it easiest to use and most flexible for what I need to do. That said, like a best friend who has all sorts of great qualities, there is always one or two things you wish you could tweak and make different. Here is my main issue with OS X. For many this may seem mundane but far too often this causes me an “Oh Shoot!” moment, and there is an easy fix.
Around the time of OS X Mavericks, OS X lost its 3-D look and became more of a “flat” OS like iOS. Many people did not like this. For me it was not too big of a deal, but one artifact that came about during this transition was being able to easily distinguish between an active window (the one you are working on) and inactive windows.
Apple’s Mac lineup is stale, and that is putting it mildly. The Mac Pro is now a staggering 2 1/2 years into its lifecycle without a single upgrade. The MacBook Air has seen almost no changes, save for incremental processor updates since 2010. The iMac form factor has not changed since the fall of 2012. The newly minted MacBook and MacBook Pro's have seen only slight incremental upgrades this past year, and the Mac mini is a mere afterthought. What's going on?
The only significant new release to Apple’s Mac lineup has been the MacBook (of which I use and love), in April of 2015. It recently received a slight Intel processor update. Wow... In fact, all Apple has been keen to do the past few years is release Intel processor updates to products, with the MacBook Air still living in an ancient design, with what can now only be described as a horribly low-resolution display. Apple’s Mac lineup has become a cash cow with little invention, but that may be about to change.
Call it a sophisticated workstation, call it a silent powerhouse or video editing marvel, but now-a-days, do not call it relevant. Apple has again let its cutting edge flagship Mac Pro tower languish into obscurity due to a lax approach to updating, reminiscent of predecessors. How relatively lax you may ask? Since its release on December 13, 2013, the Mac Pro has had not three, not two, not one, but zero updates — as in none.
The good news, according to financial site The Motley Fool, is that the long overdue refresh may be arriving soon. Today is supposedly the day Intel will release its 14nm "Broadwell EP" lineup. As workstation class chips go, the Broadwell-E looks to be impressive as ever, sporting up to 10 cores per processor, with an overall 18% raw speed increase. But Intel has seen delays with this processor refresh, and as of yet there has been no press release for the processor. Will Intel suffer upon us yet another delay, thus delaying the Mac Pro update?
Sometimes you can learn just as much about a company by what is not said as opposed to what is said. Case in point is Tim Cook & Co.’s most recent special event held this past week. At the special event we were dazzled by an updated iPhone line and a new iPad Pro size. Like a magician, Apple said, “Look over here!” However, what one product line — product category — did Apple not talk about at all, as if it didn’t even exist. Macs.
Every model in the Mac product category is now over a year old — even their newest items. Some Macs, like the Mac Pro are now over two years old. It seems like the Mac line-up has been relegated to cash-cow status and therefore Apple is putting as little effort (aka little money) into Macs as possible and reaping as much margin and cash as possible. Or is something else afoot?
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.
Apple naming its file management system “Finder” seems to lend itself to the idea that files and folders are easy to find. Unfortunately that is not always the case. Therefore Apple built a search tool inside its operating system to help wade through a myriad of folders and directories to help you find what you are looking for.
The first iteration of this technology pre-dates OS X and was a client/server search tool called AppleSearch in 1994. It was not well received (or used) so Apple updated the interface to re-release the Finder search tool, this time calling it Sherlock in 1998. Sherlock was and extension, and part of the Mac OS 8.5 launch. Today’s Spotlight replaced Sherlock in 2005 and was part of the release of OS X 10.4 (aka Tiger).
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.
While the Mac/OS X platform is the healthiest it has ever been, the accompanying Mac App Store is trending in the opposite direction. The most recent developer to discontinue offering its software exclusively through the Mac App Store is Bohemian Coding, the makers of Sketch. Bohemian had been toying with idea of leaving the Mac App Store for quite some time, but a recent inability to update the App Store quick enough with a security update was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
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.