On September 9, during Apple's San Francisco special event, Apple’s Sr. Vice President, worldwide marketing, Phil Schiller, took to the stage and introduced the iPad Pro. The latest and largest tablet of its kind from Apple delivers an incredible 12.9", 5.6 million pixel display, and weighs only 1.5 lbs. Accompanying the iPad Pro is a versatile accessory called Apple Pencil along with an optional Smart Keyboard. While the iPad Pro left the audience quite pleased, Schiller made one comment that was likely to have left Intel speechless.
Apple’s new OS X version, El Capitan, is now weeks away from release. Although unlikely, it is possible El Capitan might be released next week at Apple’s special event in San Francisco, or perhaps a day or two before the big event. This is great news for Mac users, even though many may not know it has arrived or what benefits it delivers.
Starting with the name of this release, El Capitan, Apple is signaling that this version of OS X is full of bug fixes, turning OS X into a strong, reliable pillar. El Capitan is a prominent feature in Yosemite National Park, and the play on words is not the first time Apple has done this with a new version of their desktop operating system. OS X Leopard (10.5) was followed by OS X Snow Leopard (10.6). OS X Lion (10.7) was followed by OS X Mountain Lion (10.8). In both previous cases the Snow Leopard and Mountain Lion releases fixed a myriad of bugs found in earlier releases and also managed to offer some new features. Expect El Capitan to do the same thing. Bug fixes and optimization — both in performance with Metal and in usability with Split View — are the mainstay of this release, and Mac fans should appreciate this next version of OS X.
Yesterday Apple released two operating system updates. In reality, Apple really released three: OS X 10.10.5, iOS 8.4 and iTunes 12.2.2. If you think about it, iTunes is somewhat of a pseudo operating system inside an operating system (for managing media on Mac, iOS and Windows).
First, Apple released all three of these yesterday at the same time. It tells us that iTunes must’ve been at the core of the fixes because it would and could effect both iOS and OS X. The iTunes release notes state this version contains bug fixes for Apple Music — a critical component of Apple’s iTunes strategy going forward.
When Scott Forstall was given the big boot at Apple, software UI design took a major turn at Apple. Several in the graphic design field have bemoaned the new UI design era of Jony Ive and his flat looking user interface in both OS X and iOS. However, most of the complaints are about OS X. Starting with OS X Mavericks and continuing with Yosemite, Ive & Co. changed the way everything has looked in OS X: from the dock to icons to system fonts, to windowing — almost everything.
Below are five things we have compiled from T-GAAP user feedback that would make OS X El Capitan far more useable and far more appealing.
Lately things have not gone so well for Apple — not that they have been disasters, but for about 8-10 years there was nothing our favorite fruit company could do that wasn’t a gigantic success. iPhone, iOS SDK, iPad, Mac transition to Intel, OS X,... just to name a few. That does not mean Apple did everything right (kill Xserves for example), but overall their successes far outweighed any shortcomings.
However 2015 has been a different year for Apple. With much promise, Apple Watch was going to be that “new product” that everyone was wearing. It was supposed to be the year that whether you went to the mall, to church or to the airport, you would always spot several people wearing Apple Watch. Nearly five months in, that just is not the case. Apple Watch is for sale, but even Apple hid its sales numbers for the device in their last quarterly earnings report (expect the same for this quarter’s as well). That is not something you do for a product that is flying off the shelves.
Last week I wrote about whether Tim Cook was the right guy in 2015 to lead Apple forward. I then followed with an article about the stock being in a dulldrums. While comments to both stories were not necessarily positive, both postulations may be true. Sometimes people do not like to hear the truth, especially when it goes against their preconceived ideas. Change is difficult for most, and adjusting to reality is often something people prefer to avoid.
The fact is Apple is in a funk this year. While OS X will add some nice do-dads to its plethora of features and iOS 9 looks to be a welcomed update as well, it hasn’t been since the iPad’s launch that Apple’s luster was shining bright. Sure the stock has done amazing things since the beginning of this decade as has Apple’s savings account. Tim Cook has proven to be a very good manager of what is. Incremental change over time with the direction of the company in an upward direction. But while good for the first four years of the 2010 series, year number five is proving a bit more difficult.
2012, 2013, 2014,.... 2015? Will Apple hold its fourth consecutive special event in September this year? Answer: Yes! If there is one major difference between Tim Cook and Steve Jobs it is that Cook brings us predictability with Apple special events, whereas Jobs kept us continually guessing. We were never quite sure when something was going to happen — and Jobs certainly enjoyed that aspect of his unpredictability.
For the past three years, Cook has led the charge at a special event in September, followed by one in October. October is a magic month on Apple’s calendar as it is the beginning of the new fiscal year. Therefore charging sales early in the fiscal calendar is important to ensure a good fiscal year and avoid the need to play catch-up later on. This means front loading the year with new items to sell. Typically, September events have been where Apple announces the newest iPhone. In October, some other do-dad makes the stage. Last year it was Apple Watch and Apple Pay.
When Craig Federighi showed off OS X El Capitan (aka OS X 10.11), the WWDC 15 crowd’s delight grew at the turn of each new slide. OS X Yosemite promises put a sheen on some features where Yosemite fell short, while adding a few new tricks of its own.
After the initial excitement for OS X El Capitan wears off, then reality sets in. The main question on every upgrader’s minds is “Will all my apps work in OS El Capitan?” The assumption is yes, but that can sometimes be an erroneous one.
When I learned that another new photo editing application was coming, one that claimed it would be able to take on the juggernaut of the industry, Adobe Photoshop, I rolled my eyes. “First this software will need to be able to knock off Pixelmator,” I thought. I downloaded Affinity Photos immediately, and within one day of using the software I realized that Affinity was no competition for Pixelmator – it easily surpassed it.
The company in charge of Affinity is Serif LTD., located in Nottingham, England. Serif has been around since 1987, and has a host of web and creative editing tools, largely focused on the consumer and educational markets. If you have never heard of them, as I had not, there is a big reason for that. Until Affinity Photo, all Serif's software was built exclusively for Windows. However, with the Mac continuing to grow and stay firmly entrenched in the creative markets, Serif set off in a new direction. Affinity Photo was engineered from the ground up for OS X. There is no Affinity Windows counterpart. There no shared code or pallet design ported from the platform best forgotten. Affinity Photo is 100% OS X goodness, and already includes Force Touch capability.
After watching Craig Federighi give his presentation of OS X El Capitan, I must say the thing I am most waiting for is the transition from Open GL to Apple’s Metal. Apple’s website describes Metal this way:
“Metal is a new graphics core technology that gives games and apps near-direct access to the graphics processor on your Mac, delivering enhanced performance and a richer graphical experience. Metal speeds system-level graphics rendering by up to 50 percent, as well as making it up to 40 percent more efficient. Metal allows the main processor and graphics processor to work more effectively together, boosting high-performance apps.”