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.
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.
New iPhones, a new iPad Pro and a new Apple TV, were all unveiled last month during Apple’s Bill Graham Auditorium special event. Beyond iPhone it is difficult to gage exactly which product is garnering the most attention. Now that the iPhone has launched the magic behind the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil has yet to be fully discovered. However what is least known is Apple TV and what it will truly be capably of once it begins shipping late October.
The mysteries of Apple TV are numerous, and one unknown begins to pile atop the next. Why does Apple TV’s A8 processor have such a massive heat sync? Why is the unit thick enough to support Optical Audio Out, but it is no longer included? Why is 4K (UHD) and HDMI 2.0 not supported? Why did Apple not release their own optional game controller to kick things off? And of course, why no silver, space gray, gold versions? Did the crew that built the MacBook with one port also lend their hand with Apple TV? It is almost as if Apple is launching their very own Area 51 product. Here’s to trying my hand at unraveling some curious areas of Apple TV.
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.
An all-new Apple TV has been highly anticipated since it was a no show at Apple's World Wide Developers Conference this past June. Rumors suggest the revised Apple TV will be thinner and slightly wider, with iOS 9 acting as the software core of the device. A state-of-the-art A9 processor, Siri integration, an app store, Home Kit and possible Force Touch remote control are all said to be apart of Apple's new black box. But new high tech goodies come at a price.
During an Apple Watch special event in March, CEO Tim Cook announced Apple TV would begin selling at a price of $69. For years Apple TV had been selling at $99. The lower price not only saw an increase in Apple TV sales, but also paved the way for an all-new Apple TV to enter the market at a higher price point. The lower price for the current Apple TV also gives Apple the flexibility to continue selling it as an entry level option, competing with Roku and others in the sub-$100 market.
Earlier this week, Bloomberg rumored that Apple's forthcoming Apple TV revamp will not include what many see as a key flagship feature – a streaming network bundle. Interviewed on Bloomberg TV, Sr. Intelligence Analyst, John Butler, followed up the rumor stating he believed Apple has underestimated how long a process it would be to forge network TV contracts. Dressed in suit and tie, topped off with sharp looking glasses, Butler looks and sounds most credible, but do John Butler's claims really match reality?
On February 9, Dish Network launched their over-the-top internet protocol service, called SlingTV. SlingTV's base package includes 23 networks, costs $20 a month and has accumulated roughly 250,000 subscribers. How has Dish Network been able to put together an impressive bundle of popular networks, but Apple, working on an over-the-top solution for years, been unable to negotiate a workable deal?
Apple Watch is likely to be a huge success. By any measure, it is also the most successful smartwatch in history, and it has only just started shipping. The tech industry is ablaze with pushing wearable technologies, whether we seemingly want them or not. Whether you are an Apple lover or Android devotee, wearables are going to be everywhere, but perhaps the question should be, why?
From a strategic standpoint, Google and Apple are racing to protect their smartphone sales, by adding devices that build an ecosystem around their phones. Apple Watch and Android Wear quickly strengthen a nearly inescapable ecosystem built around the smartphone. Both companies wearable devices are heavily dependent on their own supported smartphones. Once a watch is purchased, the odds of people switching to another operating system of smartphone becomes very, very low. For Apple and Google, making their smartphones the mobile digital hub is key for long-term success.
After finally receiving a MacBook, that went on sale April 10th, I’ve been able to put it through it's paces. I've used the MacBook in coffee shops, traveled over 700 miles with it, pushed a full NBA playoff stream through it, crushed out hundreds of emails, edited a dozen or so Pixelmator images and worked over the charger and keyboard thoroughly. To quickly summarize this new MacBook — it is the perfect road warrior laptop and business companion, eliminating any need for an iPad, and for many the MacBook Air.
If you are looking to purchase a new MacBook, perhaps it would be best to order it online, but be prepared to wait until June to receive it. According to Apple's online store, MacBook orders are still backlogged by as much as 4-6 weeks, and they are unavailable at any retail location. Apple claims this is due to incredible demand, but is the backlog due to incredible demand or incredibly slow productions times leading to few, if any, available MacBooks?
Apple packed a host of new technologies into the new MacBook. Force Touch trackpad, layered batteries, a new keyboard design, and efficient retina display are all new Apple-led inventions that put the MacBook in a category unto its own and could be weighing heavily on production. But perhaps the biggest problem isn't Apple's new display, keyboard, trackpad or battery. What if the biggest hold-up in MacBook availability is because of Intel.
On Friday, April 10th, Apple Watch pre-ordering was launched, and by-appointment-only demos were available for would-be buyers in order to get some personal time with Apple’s first wearable device. Another Apple product, largely overshadowed by Apple Watch, was also launched. Or was it?
The all-new MacBook was to be available for purchase – not just pre-order – on April 10th. Friday morning, I gathered in line at Portland, Oregon's downtown Apple store. Upon entering it appeared that roughly a 1/3rd of the people in line were waiting to get their hands on the new MacBook. Unfortunately those hoping to make a purchase and walk away with the new laptop were sorely disappointed, because there were no MacBooks in stock to buy from Apple. Two customers I spoke with had flown in from Utah, and another had taken the day off to drive several hours in order to purchase the MacBook. Needless to say, customers were not happy about the news — No MacBooks available in store for purchase.