It has been my fifth day with the all-new Apple TV, and while the interface is certainly fast, (by the way 1080p is a welcome upgrade from my previous 720p Apple TV) there are a few areas that are in need of help. Some areas of complaint have already been mentioned by others, but there are a few omitted nuggets which could really make the system a lot more powerful, and frankly, amazingly better.
Taking a look at the physical, the taller Apple TV versus the previous generations makes zero difference. However, the remote control is an advancement compared to the previous couch-hiding silver remote. The new remote’s optional lanyard certainly helps keep it noticeable on the couch, a coffee table or even if it somehow wondered into the kitchen. I have found myself constantly pressing Siri instead of the menu button. If Apple would add a simple braille bump to the menu button, using it would prove much less error-proof. Outside of blind finder navigation (which would really help), the trackpad with click solution works very well, and having the remote run on Bluethooth eliminates the need to have line of site to the Apple TV. Overall, the remote is a welcome upgrade.
This weekend was more frustrating than most. I was going to show my wife some pictures I had taken on my iPhone. But within reach was my iPad. I picked up my iPad, opened the Photos app and my pictures were not there. What? Hmmm. So began the weekend hunt to figure out why.
First you must understand I try to avoid using iCloud (or anything that involves a third-party “learning about me”) as much as I can. For Books, for Podcasts, for Messages, for Notes, Music and Video I am unable to avoid using Apple’s syncing services. However, for Photos, Contacts, Calendar and Mail, I have some other options. For the later three I have my own hardware running OS X Server. But for photo syncing I want to continue syncing locally — between my Mac and iOS devices — when on the same Wi-Fi connection.
There is Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Messages, Facetime, Instagram,... an almost endless list of apps we can use to communicate with one another. But the tool that has been around the longest that no one can seem to live without (although a few may have have tried) is email. OS X El Capitan’s Mail version 9 contains some very solid improvements. These are not features that will jump off the page mind you, but instead Mail now works the way you expect it should, and sometimes even better.
In 2007 when we were first introduced to the original iPhone and iOS, many questions arose. Did it mean the end to OS X? Was iOS the “future” for Apple? Why did Apple create iOS instead of a mobile version of OS X?
Yesterday we awoke to some new Mac goodies and accessories. First a new 4K iMac was introduced and a refresh to the one year old 5K iMac. Both are welcomed editions and continue to show Apple’s commitment to the desktop. Of note is that for connectivity neither included the new USB-C port, but instead the familiar USB 3 & Thunderbolt 2 ports. Apparently USB-C is only going to be something we see in notebooks going forward.
Also included in the goodie-bag were some new accessories: a new keyboard, trackpad and mouse. The Magic Keyboard leverages the scissor technology introduced this spring in the new 12" retina MacBook. This gives the keyboard a lower profile and supposedly makes typing more accurate. The other major changes was a lithium-ion battery is built within, so there is no need to change out batteries. Instead a lighting/usb cable will recharge this bad boy when it runs low on power. The new Magic Trackpad 2 adds force-touch and the new Magic Mouse 2 has fewer moving parts and supports multi-touch. Both items also include built-in lithium-ion batteries, so Apple is eliminating the need for separate rechargeable batteries or off-the shelf disposable batteries. Because all accessories have built-in lithium-ion batteries, it means their prices have jumped from previous models they replace. But when you figure the cost of disposable batteries, or Apple’s rechargeable batteries, over the life of these items, the cost difference is negligible, yet the convenience/ease-of-use vastly improved.
Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, recently chastised Apple’s latest products, and virtually scoffed at the idea Apple was taking any serious talent from the company. Less than a week later Musk backtracked on those comments. No doubt his PR team got a hold of Musk and demanded he dial back his ego and frustration, but the damage was already done. Telsa’s best years may no longer be ahead of them, as the company is likely to be outflanked by Apple, who has more resources, and as much drive to do something truly great, than anyone in any market.
Jimmy Iovine, co-founder of Beats, says he is “scared” about music’s future. Why so? Iovine claims that free music streaming services like Spotify and others return fewer dollars to artists. In order to make up lost revenue, musicians are spending more time on the road playing concerts. In Iovine’s view this means less time to work on future albums. Good music, according to Iovine, requires time and that time is being eaten up by longer than usual concert schedules.
Of course, Iovine is now part of Apple and its attempt to re-energize its iTunes brand. The latest attempt is Apple Music streaming music service. This gives one access to Apple's entire music library on demand. Apple Music does NOT offer a free version beyond a 90-day trial period. After that it is $9.99/month. It appears Iovine’s comments could be a building frustration that young people are not willing to pay for music — especially when they do not have to.
Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors, recently lashed out at Apple, calling the iPhone maker a "Tesla Graveyard," where the only employees Apple had of poached from Tesla were the one’s who hadn’t made the cut at Tesla. Musk has also bashed Apple’s Pencil and new iPad Pro, noting they were not relevant enough. With Musk’s logic, the newly unveiled Tesla Model X SUV is just a bigger Model S electric car — not so relevant.