2015 has not been a great year for Apple, but the year had started with great promise. Apple Watch was to be Cook’s new product category, helping balance Apple’s sales ledger from heavy iPhone success. It was to be Cook’s version of the introducing the first iMac, iPod, iPhone or iPad to the market. However the Apple Watch launch was blundered like no other in recent Apple history. Within hours, Apple Watch inventory was depleted from online sales, leaving nothing for in-store purchases — on the first day! You could come in, try on a Apple Watch, decide which one was right for you, select additional bands, and then go over to a Mac and order online with a delivery not to happen for the next 2 or 3 months. Awful. What should have been a great success, and caused huge lines in the malls across the country turned out to be a big, big dud. Since then Apple has built up the inventory to match a marginal demand, but Cook and company missed their big opportunity that the iPhone had upon its first day of sales.
It has been the battle cry for Apple detractors and anti-Apple tech journalists since Eddie Cue announced the all-new Apple TV – without 4K (UHD) resolution capability – during a September Apple special event.
For those of you not in the know, 4K, also known as UHD (Ultra-High Definition), is a resolution that is 4 times higher than that of traditional 1080 HD TV set or display. There is just one little catch to the promise of 4 times greater image quality — it doesn’t really matter.
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.
The auto industry: dull, unimaginative, predictable. The car market has remained relatively unchanged for decades, and a gluttony of focus group developed cars has helped keep it that way. The industry slowly innovates, making glacial ice-ages look fast.
The result is, at best, is incremental improvement, with Detroit scrambling to find the next niche segment to gain market share. But cracks in plodding automotive market are starting take place. From startups, to radical new fuel alternatives, the auto industry is on the precipice of the largest transformation in its history, and Apple appears ready to usher in its own sea change of ideas.
Excuse me for injecting some concern into the conversation, but it appears the highly rumored Apple TV network streaming bundle is sounding more and more like a zero sum game, or worse. Before Apple’s World-Wide Developers Conference in June, rumors suggested Apple TV would arrive at the show, possibly accompanied with an all new OS and television streaming service for roughly $20/month, the same as Dish Networks Sling TV service. Nothing materialized.
The summer months were slow, but gave us a new Apple TV launch date, which happened this past Friday. However, no TV package arrived and the only constant network bundle drumbeat that gets talked about contains ever higher monthly prices. Initial rumors were $20. That rumor quickly shifted to “between $20 - $30.” The latest price rumor is the now not-so-magical figure of $40/month. $40 did not seem right in terms of price competitiveness, and for a cord cutters that have found a lot of resources to watch what they want, it seems like a lot for perhaps not so much in return. So I checked out what my local providers offer.
Steve Jobs is famous for many things: iMac, iPhone, iPad, OS X, iOS and the resurgence of Apple. He is also famous for his in-house rants and various perspectives. One such quote was,
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.