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.
I know, I know,... the turkeys have not yet entered the ovens, and I am talking about Christmas. Shame on me. But as we finish off the month of November and move quickly into the gift-giving (er, getting) season, my mind wanders to what could be and what should be in the Apple server space.
Until 2011 Apple made a very sturdy, ultra-dependable server solution: XServe. It did all the things a good server would do: RAID, redundant power supplies, 1U enclosure and all around robust hardware (fans, circuits, etc). The problem was Apple was not selling many and was about to make a major push to delivering consumer-based cloud services with iCloud. Inside the hallowed halls at Apple the decision was made to build Apple’s cloud on UNIX rather than OS X. While understandable that sealed the fate of the XServe.
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.