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Dubaya Dubaya Dee See

Posted on June 5th, 2018

Dave!And lo, Apple did unleash another World Wide Developer's Conference this week.

Given my rapidly diminishing enthusiasm for Apple, I wasn't the least bit compelled to drop everything and watch it live. Instead I made it my after-dinner entertainment tonight.

Here are my thoughts on the parts that stood out to me...

iOS AR
If there's a promise for the future of computing that most people can see coming, it's augmented reality. Apple has teamed up with Pixar to create the USDZ file format for AR Kit 2. This is a fascinating advancement, and the fact that Adobe has grabbed it by the throat and promised support for USDZ in Creative Cloud bodes well for the format. Craig Federighi demonstrated customizing a USDZ guitar and dropping it into reality at actual size so you can visualize exactly what it will look like in your space...

Apple iOS AR Kit

Federighi then demoed AR "Shared Experiences" where two people were playing the same game from their own perspective, and it looks pretty amazing...

Apple iOS AR Kit

But the coolest demo? LEGO!!! They've shown how their physical models can be recognized by AR Kit, then expanded upon with virtual "sets" which are interactive in AR space. Then they showed how two people could explore the space with their own characters at the same time as your real-life model comes alive...

Apple iOS AR Kit LEGO

You can even look inside the physical model to see what's happening inside of it. Kids are going to love this. Especially LEGO-loving BIG kids like me!

The future of AR is mind-boggling. You just know that Apple is developing a headset for full VR/AR envelopment. It will be cool to visit the world... real and imagined... from your sofa.

PHOTOS
I'm still sore from Apple discontinuing Aperture, but they're adding interesting features to Photos, including search, which I'm assuming is making use of their machine-learning algorithm. This will make it easy to dig through the bajillion images on my iPhone. Other features, like automatic image collaboration between iPhone users are also a step in the right direction.

SIRI
I use Alexa on my Amazon Echo dozens of times a day because she can do so much stuff. I rarely use Siri because she can't really do much of anything. Apple seems to be aware of this, and is attempting to make Siri more relevant and useful. A big step up is "Siri Shortcuts," which allows Siri to be customized for your life, and even monitor your habits and schedule to suggest ways she can help out. It's all nice, and will probably encourage me to use Siri more, but my primary use of a digital assistant is home automation. Unfortunately Apple is married to their shitty, shitty "HomeKit," which I gave up on. Maybe if they start allowing other automation interfaces... like my ISY... I'd be able to use Siri for many of the things I use Alexa for.

SCREEN TIME
It's kind of bizarre that Apple is advocating not using your iPhone so much, but once they sell you the phone, they probably don't care how often you use it. To that end, they've expanded what "Do Not Disturb" can do, added new features to slow or group Notifications, and even added "Screen Time" which can monitor and limit how much you use certain apps. Parents can use "Screen Time" to monitor, adjust, and allow/disallow apps on their kid's phones remotely... and restrict access to certain apps and sites. It's a great idea... but I wonder how many people will use it. They use their phone when they want to use their phone and it seems bizarre to set limits on that. Our lives are our phones now, for better or worse.

ANIMOJI
I rarely use Animoji. Apple adding the ability to stick your tongue out or customize Animoji to look like you with "Memoji" is probably not going to change that. It's fun, and very cool... but I don't see it getting much use from me...

Apple iOS Memoji

Being able to put an Animoji over your head and add stickers live for photos is an interesting spin, however...

Apple iOS Memoji

Maybe I'll be more apt to video chat if I can use an avatar like this and not have to worry whether or not I'm having a good hair day.

FACETIME
Group Facetime for up to 32 people at the same time is a pretty incredible technical achievement. The fact that Apple made the feature so smart is what makes Apple be Apple. When somebody starts speaking, they enlarge so you know who's doing the talking. You can also use Live Animoji or Live Memoji during Facetime calls. This would be a complete zoo, but an interesting one.

WATCH OS
I always like to see how Apple Watch is maturing but, until they find a way to make it thinner on my skinny arm, I'm just not interested... no matter how many cool and useful features get added. Kinda sad how Apple has resurrected the dreaded "push-to-talk" and is calling it "Walkie Talkie." I frickin' hate push-to-talk because I don't want to hear people shouting to each other over a phone (or watch) in public. Aren't phone calls irritating enough?

APPLE TV
I really like my Apple TV, but it's got a lot of problems that no amount of new features are going to fix. I can't tell you how many times I've had it lock up. Or be unable to stream a purchase. Or have the interface go all screwy for no reason. I reboot the dang thing so many times that I finally bought an electrical plug that I can control on my iPhone so I don't have to get up, unplug it, then plug it back in. When I contact Apple support, they tell me the problem is always, always, always my internet. So I switched from cable to fiber, which is ten times faster download speed. Still having problems. If bandwidth issues are such an AppleTV-killer, they need to have their apps be a lot smarter on handling it. None of the other apps on my AppleTV have any problems. Netflix, HBO, CBS, ABC, YouTube, Hulu... all of them just fine. So it's not the AppleTV hardware... it's Apple's software that's the problem. You'd think with billions of dollars Apple could get somebody to fix their shit, but no.

MOHAVE
"We love the Mac! — Tim Cook says this every time he presents the Mac at WWDC. He pretty much has to say it because Mac users aren't seeing it. I am almost to my breaking point with frustration at just how bad MacOS has gotten. Printing is so screwed up that it's almost impossible to get work done. Way too many times I end up having to put my work into a PDF and send it to a colleague so they can print it on their Windows machine. Apple can blame printer companies all they want, but it's their OS updates which cause things to break. And lately Apple introduced a huge bug which makes your mouse pointer unable to access menus if you go to the very top of the screen. You have to move the pointer down on the menu bar in order to get a menu to work. WHAT THE FUCK?!?? does ANYBODY bother to beta test this shit anymore? Who the fuck releases such obvious bugs into an OS update? Apple. That's who. They may "love the Mac" but they are constantly shitting all over it, so you'll have to excuse me for not believing them.

STACKS
Apple has been promising automated file stacking and organization for years... but the only place it was ever implemented was in the Dock. Now it's come to the desktop. This is a nice feature for people like me who make a huge mess out of their desktop on a daily basis. But this is the biggest new feature of the next MacOS X release? Stacks? Really? I don't give a shit how much Apple professes to "love the Mac" they are letting it stagnate to obsolescence, which is pathetic.

QUICKLOOK
Adding handy tools to QuickLook is nice, but they aren't very smart about where they are putting their efforts. What about the third party tool you have to buy in order to modify file dates and manipulate other file data? THAT'S WHAT THE FINDER SHOULD BE ABLE TO DO! But instead we get the ability to trim a video clip in the Mac file manager? WTF? Handy, yes, but is editing video something you really need to do on the desktop? Is opening up iMovie really so difficult? How about adding new file tools to the file manager? Revolutionary, I know.

NEWS
I actually use News on my iPhone, so I'm happy that Apple is bringing the app to my desktop.

HOME
I will say this again for those in the cheap seats... HomeKit is utter shit. Partly because AppleTV is totally inadequate as a hub for it. Mostly because it's so restrictive that anybody serious about home automation just doesn't give a shit about it. I tried HomeKit with my locks and couldn't wait to get rid of it. Unreliable, slow, and not nearly pervasive enough with manufacturers, Apple should just buy a company that actually knows how to do this and give up on their massive failure.

PRIVACY
Apple's continuing efforts to protect its users' privacy is admirable. No matter how far they go, it will never be far enough, but I'm grateful for what we do get.

ML
Machine Learning is one of those things that's incredibly useful, and the fact that Apple has been advancing in this area so rapidly is encouraging. And now they've created tools for analyzing datasets which make it easier than ever to get information into a machine learning environment. The possibilities here are mind-boggling, and one of the few exciting things to be happening in MacOS X. Whether it will get put to good use is anybody's guess.

MERGE
Here we go with "We love the Mac" again. This time in the context of the question "Is Apple merging iOS and MacOS?" The answer is "no," but Apple is bringing more of the tools from iOS to MacOS so that iOS apps can be ported to the Mac. Which is great for developers. If your app can run on a phone, pad, and desktop, then this is a big step forward to making it easier to get there.

SWIFT
I have a long programming history. I've coded in BASIC, Pascal, Modula-2, Assembler, JavaScript, Java, PHP, C, C++, Objective C, Ruby, Python, and probably a half-dozen others I've forgot about. I rarely have time to code now-a-days, but I'm intrigued by Apple's Swift programming language. There's a lot to like. It's relatively simple. It's relatively complete. It's relatively easy to debug. And holy crap is it fast. I definitely like it better than Apple's previous tool of choice, Objective-C, and it's maturing quickly. I don't think I'd want to write an app for iOS without it. Yes, there's a way to go yet, and Apple has shifted some major concepts which require re-coding... but overall it's a great environment to develop in, and it's only going to get better in time.

   
And that was the end of that. No new hardware released announced for the MacOS X side of things, which is hugely disappointing. Apple used to absolutely rule this arena. Even people who had to run Windows were buying Mac laptops to do it because they were just that good. But Apple doesn't seem to give a shit now... releasing "pro" equipment that's not what "pros" even want. Instead of true innovation we get a "touch bar" or some silly shit slapped on, which is just a weak effort to hide the fact that the base specs aren't much better than they were five years ago. Oh well. Apple had a good run, but I guess it couldn't last forever. Hopefully Adobe will port their software to Linux so I can switch away from Apple before they hit rock bottom.

Again.

Where's the ghost of Steve Jobs when you need him?

   

Apple WWDC 2017

Posted on June 5th, 2017

Dave!And so it's time once again to tune into the Apple World Wide Developer Conference keynote to find out what everybody's favorite fruit-based tech company has up their sleeves for second quarter 2017.

I have to admit, I no longer get ramped up for these Apple things like I used to. In the past, I would take a frickin' vacation day when the WWDC keynote was unspooling just so I could unpack all the Apple goodness that had been unleashed. I'd pour over every minute and blog epic breakdowns of everything that was announced.

Now?

Well, I'm still excited over Apple's stuff... they're an exciting company. But the way they keep screwing up has me less enthused than I once was. I bought into their HomeKit home automation tech, only to find out that it is a total load of crap. They keep making "pro" equipment that isn't for "pros." The reliability of their products is in the toilet, and the way they address their lack in quality is bullshit. Meanwhile Microsoft is killing it with their Surface line, easily picking up the pro design market that Apple is abandoning.

But I digress.

Rather than have to watch hours of keynote like I did, here's a 19 minute recap that tells you everything you need to know (assuming you haven't seen it already)...

And here are my reactions...

  • Amazon on Apple TV. It's about frickin' time. I mean, I know this was probably more an Amazon issue than an Apple issue, but the wait has just been silly. A pity that the Apple content delivery is so shitty. I still can't get reliable streaming of my Apple video purchases despite every other streaming service in existence working perfectly fine... even on my AppleTV.
  • watchOS 4 Some nifty features. It's interesting how Apple has cracked the nut here that so many companies have failed with. Problem is that the watches are still too thick and clunky to be comfortable on me.
  • MacOS High Sierra. As the self-proclaimed "Heart and Soul of Apple," the company sure doesn't seem to be putting the Mac on the same level as their phone/watch/tablet products. This update to the MacOS offers some interesting features... in particular the new file system that's been a long time coming... but most of it is fluff. Where is the groundbreaking innovation that's going to keep the Mac platform moving forward? Certainly not at this keynote.
  • VRkit. Mass adoption of Virtual Reality isn't going to happen until it's much cheaper... and a hell of a lot less cumbersome and uncomfortable. When Apple releases VR that's accessed with a pair of glasses instead of some janky headset, maybe I will get excited. But now? Interesting and entertaining for early adopters, but it's got a long, long way to go before it's an essential technology.
  • iMac Pro. Why the fuck can't Apple get it through their heads that all this "pro" equipment they are releasing is not what pros are wanting? Your "pro" Mac option is now a fucking iMac? An iMac? A $5000 computer you can't expand or self-service? Oh... but it comes in fucking "Space Gray," so that makes up for everything! Give me a fucking break. Yes, it's an awesome computer... a powerfully awesome computer that looks great... but it is NOT WHAT PROS ARE LOOKING FOR!
  • iOS 11. Messages syncing is great, Personal Apple Pay is wonderful. Upgraded Siri is awesome... especially the translation feature! Siri learning and persistence is cool. Photo upgrades are welcome. New Control Center is overdue. Do Not Disturb while driving is critical to help keep dumbasses from being dangerous on the road. ARkit augmented reality is sweet, but kind of gimmicky.
  • iPad Pro. Wishing this was my iPad. The upgraded display is phenomenal, and looks like it will make using Apple Pencil even more remarkable. But the best part is the new size. The move from 9.7" to 10.5" feels like the perfect move... just a little bit more room to be more productive, but not to the cumbersome degree of the 12.9" model. I don't know that these new iPads are the ideal answer to Microsoft's Surface, but it's definitely a step in the right direction. But at a price.
  • iOS for iPad. If Apple keeps bringing desktop features to iPad, pretty soon they won't need to sell desktops. Which is probably the ultimate goal here. File management is finally here and, while not as feature-rich as I had hoped, it's still very much a step in the right direction.
  • HomePod. I'll buy one. Absolutely. This is the perfect device for playing music in my bedroom... perhaps even in my living room. But when it comes to home automation, it's too little too late. WAY too little because it relies on Apple's shitty HomeKit technology that I've abandoned. WAY too late because Amazon's Alexa does so much more in every arena, and already controls my home automation perfectly. To me, this is competition to SONOS, not Alexa. Maybe one day that will change, but Apple is going to have to integrate with other systems like Amazon has done in order to make any headway.

All in all... some nice upgrades in the OS and software departments, but more of the same bullshit for pro design users. A market Apple used to own, but is throwing away with gleeful abandon. Leaving me to wonder if my next computer will be running Windows. My license for Adobe's Creative Cloud Suite works for Mac or Windows, and they function the same on both systems. Food for thought.

   

Stuff I Bought Week: iPad Pro and Apple Pencil

Posted on April 2nd, 2016

Dave!When Apple came out with the iPad Pro, I was intrigued. Not because we were getting a giant iPad... but because it was accompanied with "Apple Pencil," which is what Apple calls their touch stylus.

So I went to the store to give one a try and ended up taking a pass. Not because of Pencil, which was amazing (as you'll see), but because the iPad Pro was just too big. I like drawing/painting/sketching while laying on the couch watching TV, and the big iPad felt like it was more of a table-top tool.

Fast-forward to earlier this month, and Apple announced that a smaller model of the iPad Pro would be released on March 31st.

And it's glorious...

Apple iPad Pro 9.7

There are a lot of iPad reviews out there, so I'm just going to give a quick run-down on what matters to me...

  • The Apple Pencil stylus is incredible. I've used a lot of display tablets over the years, including the high-end Cintiq Wacom models, and this is the best I've ever seen.
  • Seriously. If you're an artist, go to an Apple Store and try out Pencil.
  • The glass is so thin on iPad Pro that it's more like drawing directly on the tablet instead of drawing above it. This is a huge step forward, and makes all the difference.
  • No. Lag. None. Even when rapidly scribble-shading, it keeps up.
  • The sizing is perfect for couch-drawing. I admit that there are times I'd like to have the larger drawing surface of the original iPad Pro model, but I'm ultimately happy with the smaller model.
  • iPads and iPads have genreally had shitty sound. All that changes with this model. You get four speakers to orient stereo sound in either horizontal or vertical orientations. And it's really good sound!
  • I'm not one to take photos with an iPad, but that may change. The camera on this thing is awesome. Low light performance is quite good. Not as handy as my iPhone for quick snaps... but it's nice to know I have iPad as an option if I need a shot.
  • Apple's "TrueTone" sensor evaluated room lighting and adjusts the display tint to fit in with your surroundings for a more natural visual. I didn't think much about it, but tested how it works under the Edison vintage lights in my dining room which are very warm... sure enough, it's a noticeable (and welcome!) improvement.
  • I never bought an iPad Air model, so I wasn't prepared for how thin this thing is. It's very nice, and the weight it comfortable to hang onto.
  • The multi-tasking is a nice addition, but it doesn't seem terribly practical for the 9.7" model as opposed to the larger 12" version.
  • The Apple Smart Keyboard is a better than trying to type with the on-screen keyboard... but not by a lot. The only real benefit is that you're not obscuring the screen with the keyboard. Otherwise it's just too cramped for easy typing, and almost impossible to use unless it's sitting on a sturdy flat surface.. This is where the 12" model with its full-size Smart Keyboard is a better choice if you're doing a lot of typing.
  • The Smart Keyboard does not protect the back of the iPad. You need a separate piece for that.

For the most part, I am very, very happy with the iPad Pro... and ecstatic when using it with Apple Pencil and an app like ProCreate that can take advantage of it. This is easily, hands-down, no-bullshit the best stylus tablet experience I've ever had. The fact that it's not tethered to a computer is just icing on the cake. If you're an artist who is considering going digital... or are already a digital artist looking to upgrade, stopping by an Apple Store and checking out the iPad Pro is a no-brainer.

   

Pencil

Posted on September 9th, 2015

Dave!Another September, another Apple Event.

This time there were few surprises, as Apple rumor sites have had the skinny on what's coming for months. Actually, with the exception of the Apple Pencil, I don't think there were any surprises. But we'll get to that in a bit.


Apple Watch

  • Until they make it thinner, I just don't give a crap. All the cool new features in the world don't mean a thing unless I actually want to wear it. Holy crap. You're Apple. Figure out a way of moving the battery to the strap or something.

iPhone 6S

  • I covet the new 12MP camera. That also shoots 4K video. Which is amazing (assuming you've got the memory for it).
  • DEEP. TRENCH. ISOLATION.
  • At first I thought that Live Photos was gimmicky... until I looked at the gallery. Photos that come to life like this are pretty cool. Kinda like Vines, I guess. Facebook support is great... hopefully Vine will be supported too.
  • 3D Touch (formerly Force Touch?) with Taptic Engine response and "Peek & Pop" looks wonderfully intuitive and useful. If developers start integrating it in their apps like the video showed, this alone might be worth the cost of an upgrade.
  • Faster-Better-Stronger Touch ID is a welcome upgrade.
  • The new "iPhone Upgrade Program" from Apple is interesting. A new iPhone every year so you've always got the latest. Unlocked for any carrier. AppleCare+ included. $36.58 a month for a 64GB 6S. That's $438.96 a year, which saves you around $200 from the cost of buying a new iPhone outright each year... $300 if you include a new AppleCare+ contract. Still, I don't know if this is something I'm willing to get into unless my mobile carrier will give me a discount on service since I won't be subsidizing a phone with them. I'm guessing that's not going to happen, and so... my 2-year contract with AT&T will undoubtedly be renewed. When is Apple going to create their own mobile network?
  • UPDATE: Shit. No optical image stabilization on the 6S. You still have to go with the "plus" model to get it, which sucks, because I still find the "non-plus" models to be too big.

Apple TV

  • Still no HomeKit. Holy shit is Apple fucking up on this.
  • The new model is not the breakthrough Apple seems to think it is. Others (including Google) had a lot of these new features ages ago.
  • Given how pathetic Apple's menu system is and how hard it is to do anything with the crappy Apple TV interface, slapping Siri on top of everything is appreciated... but doesn't do jack to solve the real problem.
  • The new swipe remote is great. If there is one area Apple excels, it's boiling down complicated remotes to something elegant and simple. Nice.
  • Siri's "What did they say?" feature which automatically jumps back 15 seconds AND temporarily turns on closed captioning is genius. The ability to access Siri info while watching AppleTV without interrupting what your watching is also very nice.
  • The Apps feature, assuming they get some good games, could really put a dent in Wii, Playstation, and Xbox sales. Apple TV certainly has the power to play good games.
  • Where my disappointment comes in is that I honestly thought Apple would be coming out with their own network content offerings, thus allowing everybody to build a cable package of only the channels they want to pay for. I am so sick and fucking tired of paying for an outrageously expensive cable package filled with tons of shit I don't want, but have to pay for. Oh well. It's coming one of these days. It pretty much has to, even if Apple isn't the one to do it.
  • Given how much money I've got invested in iTunes Store media AND the fact that my Apple TV is really old... I'll probably go ahead and spend the $149 come late October (since I won't be playing games (I have consoles for that), the $199 version would be overkill). Blergh.

iPad Pro

Okay. I'm just going to come right out and say it... I want one of these things so very, very bad.

Surprise!

I've been jonesing for a graphics tablet with display for the longest time. Problem is they are incredibly expensive, and the stylus lag coupled with the thick glass above the display on more affordable models is a total boner-killer for me. But here comes Apple with a new "Apple Pencil" that apparently eliminates lag and is coupled with Apple's laminated display which minimizes the amount of glass between you and what you're drawing...

And, oh yeah... it's still an iPad, so it can do everything an iPad can already do on top of being a kick-ass graphics tablet display. Giving you a much bigger bang for your buck than purchasing a graphics tablet display alone.

And about that price...

$799 for a 32GB model (pretty useless if you're doing serious work)
$949 for a 128GB model (more realistic, but I was hoping for at least 256GB)

Add a $99 Apple Pencil and you're over $1000 for the model you want. Which hurts. But that's roughly what a Wacom Cintiq 13" HD Touch runs, and it can only do one thing (though, admittedly, it does it very well). So, assuming iPad Pro and Apple Pencil end up being as good as they look, APPLE! TAKE MY MONEY!

Guess we'll find out come November.

   

All things considered, a worthy Apple Event.

My favorite part of the show was closing it out with a great live performance by OneRepublic. My second-favorite was the news that Apple now has an Android app for transitioning from an Android phone to an iPhone. Classic!

Android to iPhone Transfer App

   
As a Certified Apple Whore, I never feel more alive than when Apple releases something new that I want.

   

Eventful?

Posted on October 16th, 2014

Dave!Another Apple event?

Apparently this is for all the crap they didn't want mucking up their big iPhone 6 slash Apple Watch event last month.

So what's on-deck this time around? Let's take a look, shall we? Needless to say, there will be spoilers for those who haven't seen the broadcast.

   
• iPhone 6 Launch! Before Tim Cook takes the stage, we get to look at the hysteria surrounding the launch of the iPhone 6 from around the world. Holy crap. As big of an Apple Whore as I like to think I am, even I felt this was way, way over the top and embarrassing. It's not a cure for cancer, people... it's a frickin' PHONE. Albeit a pretty phone. That's too big. I want the same size iPhone I used to have. Not surprisingly, it's the biggest iPhone launch ever, because aren't they all?

iPHONE, MUTHAFUCKER!!!
1. ZOMFG, WHITNEY, IT'S A PHONE! ZOMFG, BRITTANY, THIS IS THE BEST DAY OF MY LIFE!
2. There may be genocide in Syria... BUT iPHONE, MUTHAFUCKER!!!
3. SECOND MARKET VICTORY IS MINE! SEE YOU ON eBAY, BITCHES!
4. YOU, SIR, ARE A FUCKING iGENIUS! I'd like to book some one-on-one training!

As if that weren't enough hype, Apple dusts off Walt Mossberg for one of his idiotic quotes designed to make people think that Walt Mossberg is still relevant to tech journalism when all it does is reaffirm that Walt Mossberg will continue to say anything he has to in order to keep Walt Mossberg firmly implanted up the collective asses of giant tech companies so as to give the illusion that Walt Mossberg is relevant to tech journalism.

WALT MOSSBERG!!!

WALT MOSSBERG!!!

   
• Apple Pay! Heaven help me, I'm actually excited about being able to pay for things with my iPhone and not have to lug around a crap-ton of antiquated credit cards, debit cards, reward cards, and the like...

WALT MOSSBERG!!!

Even more exciting is the online component to Apple Pay, which will hopefully bury those PayPal fuckers (THAT STOLE MY MONEY!) once and for all. The privacy component sounds great (no need to turn over your card number or any personal information)... at least until naked pictures of me end up on the internet. Guess we'll find out Monday.

   
• Apple Watch! For the first time in a long time, Apple has announced a product that I'm not immediately wanting to buy. Sure, Apple Watch looks great, and it seems a handy thing to have (assuming you own an iPhone)... but until I see one in person, the idea of having a giant klutzy bangle strapped to my write holds little appeal...

Apple Watch, Apple Watch, Apple Watch, yo!

Naturally, it's better-looking than anything else on the market... but I was hoping Apple would figure out a way to make a thinner profile... put the battery in the band or something... to make it not be such a boat anchor. Oh well. Maybe Apple Watch 2.0.

   
• iOS 8.1! In addition to iPay, Monday's update will also include a beta for iCloud Photo Library. WHEEE! THAT TOTALLY MAKES UP FOR KILLING OFF APERTURE!

NOT!

But if they finally... FUCKING FINALLY... allow you to AirDrop files between OS X and iOS devices... I'll be happy.

   
• MacOS X Yosemite! I've been using the beta. I'm not too impressed. Yes, there are some nifty features (I am really loving being able to use my Mac as a speaker phone... and being able to send an SMS from your Mac through your iPhone is fantastic)... but it's just so damn ugly. Hideous day-glow colors I thought had been abolished in the 80's permeate absolutely everything. Tacky, distracting, and just inexplicably bad GUI. Perhaps I'll get used to it. But I doubt it.

   
• Continuity! The ability to seamlessly transition from your iPhone to your iPad to your Mac is a pretty killer feature. The problem being that it doesn't always work the way you'd expect it to. Much like the early days of iSync, it would seem that Continuity has a ways to go before it actually becomes the user nirvana it claims to be. Bonus points to Apple for getting Stephen Colbert onboard for his Supreme Commander of Security bit though.

   
• iPad Air 2! Not a lot of new features and improvements here. Certainly not enough to get your average iPad Air user to buy the latest model. And yet... LOOK HOW THIN IT IS! IT'S THINNER THAN A PENCIL! TWO iPAD AIR 2's ARE THINNER THAN THE ORIGINAL iPAD! THEY'RE SO THINNNNNNN!

Apple iPad 2... SO BLOODY THIN!

The bonded, glare-resistant display sounds nice. Wish they'd update all their other shit to have less glare on them. A speedier processor is great if you're playing a lot of games and such. Using an iPad as a camera is weird to me, but a lot of people do it, so I suppose they'll appreciate the camera upgrade. Adding Touch ID is a no brainer, as iPad Air 2 can be used for Apple Pay.

The ridiculous thing here is that, like with the iPhone 6 before it, Apple doesn't start the base model with 32GB. $499 for 16GB? Absurd. And then it jumps all the way to 64GB... WTF?

   
• iMac Retina 5K! Okay... this... THIS... is frickin' incredible. Phil Schiller's presentation pretty much said it all... for the entry price of $2,500 you get a mind-bogglingly beautiful 5K display that's cheaper than most 4K displays... and a computer thrown in for free...

Apple iMac 5K

Forget the Mac Pro... THIS is a photographer and graphic designer's wet dream...

iMac 5K Comparison

Once I got used to the Retina Display on my MacBook Pro, it's almost painful to use a machine that doesn't have a Retina Display. Assuming I can ever afford to buy this, I won't have to.

WANT!

WANT SO BAD!

   
• Mac mini! Kind of a wacky product to still have around. I mean, sure, when you were trying to get Windows users to switch, it made sense to have a cheap Mac that could use your existing monitor, keyboard, and mouse... but now? Well... I suppose there's still an audience out there given that Mac mini is half the price of an iMac... but it's really not the best way to experience a Mac, and I'm surprised Apple is still dredging the bottom of a dying computer market.

Then again... market share is market share, and Apple is about the only computer manufacturer out there still able to be in it at a profit, so what do I know?

UPDATE! The internet is having a field day over the fact that the new Mac mini no longer allows user-upgradable RAM. A valid concern, to be sure... and I really hate what this says about the disposability of computer equipment that can't be upgraded... but, again, this is the bottom-feeder Mac of a dying PC market. Can't really blame Apple for cutting every possible corner they can to keep prices at a point that the audience for this item expects?

   
Annnnd... that's a wrap...

iMac 5K Comparison

Kind of a lackluster event, so far as Apple is concerned, but it does solidify the ideal that Apple has their shit together when it comes to creating a complete line of products that will integrate into every aspect of your life. They're not just a computer company... or even a tech company, really... Apple is a lifestyle company.

Now if they'd just come out with their own television and DVR service for my lifestyle, I'd be really happy.

   

iOS 8

Posted on June 4th, 2014

Dave!"Android fragmentation is turning devices into a toxic hellstew of vulnerabilities."
Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, ZDNet

This is the second half of my notes on Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference keynote, this time focusing on what's coming down the pipe in iOS 8. And something else entirely, which was an unexpected surprise.

To start things off, Apple CEO Tim Cook was back on stage to drop some rather startling statistics on iOS update adoption vs. Android update adoption...

Tim Cook

89% of iPhone users are on the latest version of iOS. A mere 9% of Android users are using the latest version of that mobile OS. For developers, this is a pretty big deal. If you are counting on new OS features for the functionality of your app, you have to be assured that your users have a version of the OS which has those features. From the looks of things, Android developers are going to be very slow to implement new stuff in their apps, because the vast majority of their users are on some older version where they are unsupported. Add to that the heinous fragmentation of the Android OEM variants, and Apple has made a very good case for developers to choose iOS as their platform of choice.

After Tim Cook's intro, Craig Federighi comes back to show everybody what end-user features and improvements we can expect with the next update.

One area where iOS has always been pretty horrible is dealing with interruptions. Get an alert, and you have to dump out of whatever you're doing to deal with it. iOS 8 takes a big leap forward by allowing you to handle common interruptions (like text messages and calendar alerts) without leaving the app you're in...

Craig Federighi

This is very cool, but it would be pretty useless if it were restricted to Apple-only interrupts. Fortunately, interactive notifications are available to 3rd-party apps, which is fantastic for people like me who communicate primarily through Facebook Messenger or other non-Apple services. What remains to be seen is how far the interactivity goes. Can developers customize the controls available to best fit their apps? Or does Apple limit interactivity to internal iOS buttons and text fields? Time will tell.

Taking a page from Windows Phone 8, iOS 8 now has some people-centric additions... like being able to access frequent and recent contacts on the app-switcher page. A terrific use of some wasted space...

Craig Federighi

Unfortunately, the usefulness of this feature is hampered by Apple deciding how you can interact with these people. Right now you can text, call, or Facetime with them... but there's no option for Facebook messaging or a slew of other 3rd-party apps that people use to keep in touch with the people in their lives. So, ultimately, a step in the right direction... but not a very big one.

Next up was a beautiful new grouped tabs interface for Safari on the iPad...

Craig Federighi

I do three things on my iPad... 1) Watch movies when I travel... 2) Read comic books... and 3) Surf the internet. The area in most need of improvement is Safari for web browsing, and it's nice to know that Apple is at least trying to make it a better experience.

One of the most exciting pieces of news at the keynote was Apple's announcement of an improved keyboard... now with predictive text. As you type, words appear above the keyboard where iOS is trying to guess what you're typing. Kind of like what happens now as words appear above your input cursor while you type... except now you get more than just one word, which should be a lot more productive. iOS doesn't stop there though... it also tries to predict words you'll use in response to emails based on the content and whom the email is from! The keyboard learns context, and tries to be smart about how it assists you...

Craig Federighi

As if all that weren't enough... Apple is now going to allow you to install alternative keyboards! This means terrific technology like Swype, which allows you to slide your finger from letter to letter in a word... and Fleksy which has an amazing word-guessing algorithm and cool gesture controls... can be installed and used system-wide. This is fantastic news, because now users can test keyboards and find the one that will allow them to type the fastest.

And then, AT LONG LAST, Apple has finally given some love to their texting app, "Messages." I don't know what the heck took so long, but now we can finally manage users on group messages... and even dump out of a conversation if you want. If that's too extreme, you can put a thread on "do not disturb" so it won't keep buzzing your phone. Even better, iOS 8 has even more ways to communicate... allowing you to share your location, and even add voice memos and quick videos...

Craig Federighi

Now if Apple would only get off their ass and give the same attention to VOICE CALLS. I mean, come on... PC call center software has been around for decades which allows you to do simple things like record custom voicemail messages and selectively route callers... why in the hell is iPhone so far behind in this? It IS, after all, primarily a PHONE, isn't it? Oh well, I suppose I should be thrilled that we at least get to block a caller from calling again... how long did we have to wait for that?

And then we have HealthKit... Apple's portal to managing all your health apps...

Craig Federighi

The ultimate promise of the idea is that one day you will be able to monitor various aspects of your health (like blood pressure and the like) which can automatically be transmitted and monitored by your automated analysis software and you doctor. If there's a problem detected, your doctor's office can then contact you to get it sorted out. It's a fantastic idea. In theory. In reality, I wonder how many doctor's offices are going to implement this stuff any time soon. I also wonder when we're going to get Apple's "iWatch" which will have health monitoring and syncing that makes HealthKit actually useful. Who knows.

From there we moved on to photo storage (in iCloud, of course) and the idea of Apple's "Smart Adjustment" technology which gives you the ability to perform comprehensive edits that are smart enough to do a lot of "behind the scenes" work to give you much better photos with little effort...

Craig Federighi

It will be bundled with iOS 8 and be added to Yosemite in 2015. Which is great and all... but I have to wonder where this leaves Aperture, Apple's high-end photo editing and storage software. How will it be able to handle edits made in iPhoto on iPhones, iPads, and Macs? Will they integrate, or be a separate set? Will flattened edits in Aperture be saved out so that devices reading from your iCloud Photos can actually view them? All of this is up in the air. And since Apple won't comment on future software (natch) it's tough to tell if Aperture is even going to be around in 2015. This is very, very frustrating... but so typically Apple. I honestly don't expect them to tip their hand and tell people what's happening with Aperture... but it would at least be nice to know that it's still going to be around.

A surprise to no one, Siri is being updated...

Craig Federighi

I use Siri all the time, so naturally I am thrilled to have improvements to his/her functionality. What bums me out is how far behind the Mac version is to the iOS version, and no mention has been made as to whether or not any love is going to be spent improving the Macintosh side of things. I would hope so, because the crappy dictation functionality on the Mac is pathetic. Why Apple can't keep up with the iOS side of things is a complete mystery. Why can't you ask Siri questions on a Mac like you can on an iPhone? It makes -zero- sense. And yet here we are.

And here's where things start to get interesting.

Very interesting, if you're a developer.

First of all, Apple is going to finally allow permission-based data sharing between apps. Something that is long overdue and will makes for some incredible extended functionality possibilities. Sure, the functionality will be limited so as to keep data safe... but this is such a massive leap in the right direction that I find it hard to not get excited at the prospect.

Game developers will get up to a massive 10x speed bump in their apps thanks to a new technology called "Metal" which allows them to get closer to the raw power of the iPhone/iPad processor than ever before.

And, lastly, something that took everybody by surprise... a new development language called Swift that takes the best parts of past programming languages and marries them to modern programming concepts while leaving all the antiquated baggage behind...

Craig Federighi

Without being able to see it and play with it, there's no way I can really comment on how useful Swift might end up being. But it certainly sounds promising. And powerful. And easier to use. And smart. I can't wait to take a look.

And that was that.

No new hardware. No new AppleTV. No new iWatch.

Just some interesting new features and a promising new future for Mac developers. Which is what I guess we should expect from a Developer's conference.

So I guess I'll try not to be disappointed with the lack of new toys.

   

Yosemite

Posted on June 3rd, 2014

Dave!Because my entire day yesterday was spent catching up on work, I had the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference keynote running... but couldn't pay very close attention to it.

And so... today's the day I get to channel my inner Mac Whore and talk about new happings at everyone's favorite fruit-named tech company. If the thought of that bores you, here's your chance to escape! But don't come back until the day after tomorrow, because that'll be Part Two.

   
OS X YOSEMITE

The successor to OS X Mavericks, OS X Yosemite, was presented by Craig Federighi, the Senior VP of Software Engineering at Apple...

Craig Federighi

The guy is incredibly charismatic and engaging... reaching to near Steve Jobsian heights with his presentation skills. He's also darn funny, injecting wit and humor into his speech at a breakneck pace.

The look of Yosemite is very much a continuation of iOS7. All aspects of the OS from the controls to the icons have been simplified, saturated, and flattened. In addition, transparency effects have been liberally sprinkled all over the interface elements. Which is something I'm not thrilled about because I find it unnecessarily distracting. Hopefully users will have the ability to disable the transparency like they currently can with the menu bar.

Federighi seemed especially proud of the new look for Yosemite's trashcan...

Craig Federighi Yosemite Trashcan

Personally, I don't give a shit what the trashcan looks like... I only care that it works. Which it currently does not in Mavericks. It will show as "empty" even when there's files inside. Hopefully somebody bothered to fix this incredibly basic and incomprehensibly ignored bug.

After talking trash, we moved on to the system font, which is no longer Lucida Grande. I don't know what the new typeface is called, but it's very pretty and easy to read. And as exciting as that improvement is, the next improvement is something I've been begging for... DARK MODE... where the menu bars and menus are darkened so they don't distract from what you're working on...

Craig Federighi DARK MODE

The window model for Yosemite continues to add functionality for title bars and devote more space to content, which is nice. Apple has also changed the way window controls work... with the green button now taking the window full-screen. Something I could get behind if they WOULD ONLY HAVE AN OPTION TO KEEP THE MENU BAR VISIBLE! I frickin' hate going full-screen because fighting the disappearing menu bar drives me insane. I need to be able to see my clock... my battery level... the date... all that important stuff that's so handy to have available... at a glance.

Notification Center is getting the ability to add widgets, which will finally make it useful to me.

Spotlight, Apple's search system for OS X, is getting an upgrade... and this time it looks more than just cosmetic. All I care about is that it's not a flaky pile of shit like the interface is now (How many times do you end up launching the unintended result? For me, it's practically daily). The addition of Sherlock-esque internet data for searching is a welcome throwback.

Next up, Apple puts the smack-down on DropBox by releasing an online storage option of their own called iCloud Drive. I don't know how it will be an improvement over DropBox, which makes cloud storage so drop-dead easy, but I'll definitely be taking a look.

Federighi then took a look at Yosemite's update for OS X Mail... currently the most-hated app I use every day. It is a buggy, slow, and overall shitty email client that looks downright embarrassing when compared to what Microsoft has going on with Outlook. He promises that they have worked very hard to make improvements with the basic functionality, which would be very nice. A new feature for Mail is "Mail Drop," which allows the seamless sending of files up to 5 gigs via iCloud Drive.

Safari is a world-class browser, but Apple's not resting on their laurels. They've added a number of new features for convenience, speed, and improved battery life... but the standout for me is being able to spawn separate windows for Private Browsing instead of it being an "all or nothing" game.

And then came the first surprise of the day... something Apple is calling "Continuity"... which works towards providing a seamless experience between MacOS X and iOS. The crowd erupted in applause when Federighi announced that FINALLY you can "Air Drop" between MacOS X and iOS. This omission has been categorically absurd and, if I had been in the audience, I would have been screaming "IT'S ABOUT FUCKING TIME!"...

Craig Federighi DARK MODE

But Apple didn't stop there, because next came a new feature called "Hand-Off." This nifty bit of tech means your Mac and your iPhone (or other iOS device) now has proximity awareness of each other. You can start composing an email on your Mac, then hand it off to your iPhone so you can keep composing as you walk out the door. Additional features, like being able to answer an incoming call from your iPhone on your Mac or use your Mac to make calls through your iPhone is dead-sexy. That Federighi demoed this by calling a "new employee" — Dr. Dre — was just the icing on the cake.

And there's where Apple wrapped up their look at just some of the new features that will be available with the new MacOS X.

The beta for Yosemite has been released to developers already. Non-developers can join the beta program later this Summer. Then everybody will be able to grab a free copy come Fall.

   
Tune in tomorrow when I unleash my commentary on Part Two of the keynote... with iOS 8.

   

EyeOhEssSe7en

Posted on September 18th, 2013

Dave!And so iOS 7 was released at long last, and has been trumpeted as "The biggest update to the iPhone since the original iPhone." After using it on my development iPhone for weeks, I'd have to say that's pretty much all marketing hype. Yes, it looks fresh, but it's pretty much a few really good new features tacked on to the iOS we know and love... but with a fresh coat of paint.

Not that this is a bad thing! Truth be told, Apple got so many things right when they first created the iPhone that there's not a lot that needed to evolve and change. I'd take old iOS 6 over my Microsoft Windows Phone... and I'd definitely take old iOS 6 over any of the four Android mobiles I own. Now that we're at iOS 7, that goes double. It was a rough start, but now I like it. A lot.

And so now I'm going to talk about some iOS 7 stuff. It's not going to be in-depth, because there's a gazillion websites out there that have this covered, but it will be things I feel are a bit annoying. Because that's what I do.

   
iOS 7 Home Screen

HOME...
The text is crazy thin... almost too thin... which makes it tough to read in spots. Fortunately there's an option for "bold text" under the General/Accessibility settings, so it's an easy fix. There's no fix for Apple's new boring-ass icons, however, and that's a shame. Yes, some are not too bad... Weather is simple, but effective... Passbook is kinda cool... but what in the hell is going on with Photos and FaceTime? I don't know what the hell Photos is trying to say, and FaceTime uses a video camera shape for an icon that practically doesn't exist any more. And then there's Safari and Settings... both of which are somehow overly-detailed and plain-ass boring at the same time. Total garbage. Give me the beautiful icons for Tweetbot and Reeder any day.

   
IOS7 Icon Zoom!

EFFECTS...
Overall, I like Microsoft Phone 8 well enough... but the nonstop barrage of time-wasting animations, flippy-tiles, and other inane bullshit drives me insane. I was always much happier with the more restrained approach that Apple took with iOS 6... pretty animations, but not in your way or wasting time. So of course Apple threw all that out the window with OS 7. Now the phone fades on and fades off... icons glide in slowly from beyond... apps zooooom open and closed. And while it's nifty the first fifty times you see it, by the fifty-first you just want your life back. Hopefully Apple tightens these up in the future, because wasting people's time like this is just wrong.

   
iOS 7 Today

NOTIFICATION CENTER...
An essential tool for managing all the alerts and info your iPhone is throwing at you, Notification Center was a welcome addition. Unfortunately, it's taken a dive in iOS 7. The super-thin text makes readability difficult, and will probably be what convinces me to turn on "bold" text in Accessibility settings. Also, the addition of a "TODAY" tab is something I really, really don't want. Just give me a newest-first list of alerts, and I'm fine. If iPhone would stick to the tab I last used, it would be okay, but it randomly switches to "TODAY" for no discernible reason. Oddly enough, you can turn off "TODAY" in the lock-screen. Why they don't allow you to turn it off in Notification Center is a mystery.

   
iOS 7 Passbook

PASSBOOK...
If there's one feature that has become essential in my travels, it's Passbook. It has my loyalty cards, train tickets, airline boarding passes, and other great stuff available instantly without adding bulk to my wallet! So imagine how thrilled I was to find out that the new iOS 7 Passbook was going to allow you to scan barcodes on cards so you can add them to your iPhone arsenal! Except... it doesn't let you create cards at all. It scans your cards and sees if it can find an existing card to add. Except in the ELEVEN cards I tried, it worked on exactly zero of them. Suckage. GIVE US A FREAKIN' CARD DESIGNER, APPLE!

   
i OS7 Siri Stupid

SIRI, PART 1...
Apple's "personal digital assistant" which is called "Siri" is something people either love or hate... use or don't use. I love her. I use her. And with iOS 7 Apple has given her a higher quality voice and even more functionality. They've even given us a way to make her smarter, thanks to being able to tell her when she's pronounced a word wrong. At first I thought that she would also be learning from the new "tap to edit" link that appears after your query has been parsed, but she doesn't. For example, if you say "Open Waze" to have her open the Waze app... she thinks you are saying "Ways" and so I tap to edit it and type "Waze." Simple, right? But Siri forgets what I've taught her, so next time I say "Open Waze" she gets it wrong again. Bad enough she doesn't even try to find the app when she knows I'm asking for an app, but not being able to teach her that I actually have a Waze app is pretty lame.

   
i OS7 Siri is a Man, Baby!

SIRI, PART 3...
One thing I was excited about with the New and Improved Siri was the option to have her become a him and speak with a male voice. This would allow me to live with HAL from the movie 2001 in my pocket, which is a dream come true for somebody with my name. "I'm sorry, Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that...

Except... male Siri doesn't sound like HAL. He sounds like female Siri who has been pitch-shifted to have a deeper voice. This wouldn't be terrible if Apple allowed 3rd party voices so somebody could build HAL for iPhone, but they don't. Boo.

   
iOS 7 Siri Settings

SIRI, PART 3...
As I mentioned, Siri has new functionality that's kinda handy. When you tell her "Turn on Bluetooth" she understands and takes care of it. Cool! Except... she appears to be severely limited here, and it's maddening. Why is it I can say "Turn on data roaming" and she understands it, knows it's located in "Cellular Settings," and provides a link to get there... but she won't just change the damn setting for me? These kinds of omissions drive me nuts.

   
iOS 7 Control Center

CONTROL CENTER...
Apple did us a huge, huge favor when they finally gave us a way to access frequently-used settings and tools in iOS7's new "Control Center." And it's great. Just swipe up from the bottom, and you're there! Except... it's not configurable, which sucks ass. When I'm traveling, I use international data roaming, which is very expensive. In order to save money, I find myself turning it on and off frequently. As mentioned above, Siri can't do this. Instead it takes multiple taps to get to the settings because I can't configure Control Center to have it, and this is nuts. I rarely use my phone as a calculator or stopwatch, why in the hell are they taking up space that could be designated for something I will use.

   
iOS 7 Cellular

DATA ROAMING...
Falling in line with my previous point, turning off International Data Roaming wouldn't be so important if I could choose which apps are able to use it. But, while iOS 7 does allow you to choose which apps can use cellular data, it's all or nothing. There's no way of saying "This app can use Cellular data at home, but not Data Roaming abroad." So, basically, Apple has screwed international travelers not once here, but three times. Does nobody on the iOS team ever leave the US?

   
And... that's about it for the things I would like changed in iOS 7.

Today.

Tomorrow the list may be entirely different.

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Mini

Posted on October 23rd, 2012

Dave!As expected, Apple unleashed their iPad Mini at today's event... along with some other surprises...

   
• iPad Mini! The entire point of this product is to compete with the legions of other 7-inch tablets out there... in every way except price. Apple doesn't play the price game, they play the quality & value game... they make their product worth that extra money. Even so, I thought for sure the Mini would start at $299 and was fairly shocked that they went with $329 on the low end. Regardless, Apple is going to sell a bazillion of these things over the holidays...

IPad Mini

But... not to me. My iPad 3 with Retina Display is absolutely perfect for the one thing I most use an iPad for... reading comics a full page at a time. The Mini's lower resolution would require that I read my comics panel by panel (again, like with iPad 2) instead of page by page.

But... I still want one. It's that sweet-spot size between an iPhone and iPad that would make it so perfect and handy for everything else I find myself reaching for the iPad to do... surf the web... read a book... check email... play games. And, unlike every other iPad I've owned, I would want it with a cellular connection so I could have internet everywhere instead of having to find a free WiFi hotspot.

I will resist the temptation, of course, because my iPad 3 is enough. But when Apple comes out with an iPad Mini with Retina Display... I just might break.

   
• iPad 4! The smartest thing Apple did at their press party was something nobody expected... a brand new iPad. This has a lot of people who just bought the iPad 3 six months ago in an uproar because the latest version is faster, has speedier WiFi, and better LTE connectivity. I don't care because I can't read comics twice as fast if the iPad is twice as fast, but there's a lot of people feeling burned.

Two things... 1) Apple simply had to get on a holiday release schedule with their new iPads because that's when most of them are sold... and 2) In the Android tablet world, there are a dozen manufacturers that are coming out with something newer and better every month. Apple is the only seller of iPads, so it feels worse than it actually is.

   
• 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display! While the small size is a killer feature for a traveler like me... I need a bigger screen to do the work I do. The 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display I have is perfect... and will be even more perfect when Adobe's apps are fixed to take advantage of the additional pixels. Still, for a lot of people, the compact size of this new model will be plenty big with the denser display being able to show so much more information than the old models.

   
• Mac Mini! For somebody wanting a cheap Mac, the new Mini is about as good as it gets. Even the low-end $599 model will provide an excellent experience for running desktop apps. And it's so ridiculously tiny, taking up almost no space. You'll still need a display, keyboard, and mouse... but a lot of people have those sitting around from their previous computer, so the Mini is pretty much a dream come true for somebody wanting to switch to Mac in the most affordable way possible.

   
• iMac! And here it is. The new product from the event that I am most jealous of... the new impossibly thin iMac...

New iMac

I bought the last generation model of iMac for work, which now seems like a clumsy piece of crap compared to this stunningly beautiful machine.

People who have seen the display say it's one of the most amazing computer displays ever, even though it hasn't got Retina resolution. I still don't know how Apple is going to come up with the processing power to even run a 27-inch Retina display yet, so this may be as good as it gets for a while. What most interests me is that the glare has been drastically reduced, which is always the big problem with glass facings.

Apple also made it a lot more powerful... even though it's so damn THIN. But it's not the faster chips that make me covet the new iMac... it's the new "Fusion Drive."

I bought both a Solid State Drive and a "regular" Hard Drive so I could use the SSD for speed and the HD for storage. To make work go faster, I put the project I'm working with on the SSD, then move it back to HD when I'm done. A little bit of a hassle, but the speed increase makes it worth the trouble. Now Apple has come up with "Fusion" which combines the two drives and does all this automatically and seamlessly. New files go on the SSD half of the drive, which are automatically moved to the HD half when you stop working on them. Genius.

Of course I want one... I just can't afford one. Wah!

   
• Mac Pro? Still no Mac Pro. Apple obviously feels that the iMac line is powerful enough that professionals who use Macs will move to them. They added wicked-fast transfer technology like "Thunderbolt" to make sure of it. And they're right... I moved to iMac because there wasn't a new Pro model available, and I've been very happy with it. But... there is a gaping hole in their lineup that Apple has got to address sooner or later or else they are going to start losing customers (if they haven't already). Supposedly the new Mac Pros are coming next Spring. But it would have been really smart to surprise people with a release today to show that Apple is still serious about professionals that need the serious raw power and expandability that an iMac can't offer. Oh well. That ship has sailed for me, so I won't worry about it.

   
And... it looks like Apple is all set for the holidays. All their consumer products have been refreshed and made better than ever. Which means they are going to be raking in a fuckton of money over the next two months. Which is nice... I hear Apple could use the money.

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iOS6

Posted on September 20th, 2012

Dave!And now... continued from yesterday... my observations on Apple's iOS 6 update. For everybody who hates Apple stuff, sorry... but you have one more day to go.

   
• Messages. If there's one feature I was most excited about when it comes to iOS 6... it would be Unified Messaging. This means that whether I am on my iPhone, my iPad, iMac, or my MacBook... any time somebody texts me via Apple Messages it will appear on all of them. And I can reply from all of them using my mobile number as the return address so it's seamless to the person I'm communicating with. As if that weren't awesome enough, all my devices archive the complete conversation so it's seamless for me to move between them too. This feature alone makes the upgrade to iOS 6 worthwhile.

The only problem is setting it up. I thought it would all happen automatically but, when it didn't, I finally figured out that you need to log out and log back into your iCloud account on your iPhone, THEN do the same on all your other devices and computers. Works like a charm. All you have to do is choose which email addresses you want people to message you at... and whether you want your mobile phone number to receive messages on that device. Easy.

   
• Mail. Apple always seems to be hesitant to adopt things they didn't invent. Even when those things are superior to what they've developed. Which is why you could have knocked me over with a feather when I found out that Mail has adopted "pull to refresh"... a feature I've loved ever since I first saw it in Tweetie. Not only that, but they added a really cool widget that stretches and snaps when you pull. It's awesome. And I've been begging for it to happen in Mail for a long time. Another new feature is a VIP Mailbox which collects important email from Very Important People you designate. This can be tied to VIP alerts which will let you know when VIP email arrives. It's quite cool...

Mail VIPs

AND DID I MENTION THEY FRICKIN' ADDED PULL TO REFRESH?!? HOLY CRAP DOES THAT MAKE ME HAPPY!

   
• Do Not Disturb. It's a bit tough for me to dig up praise for a feature THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN INCLUDED ON iPHONE FROM DAY ONE. but I'm going to try. Because being able to have your iPhone or iPad shut the hell up during the middle of the night is something worth praising. Even if it's years overdue. Suffice to say that being able to selectively (or automatically) make your iPhone ignore everything but calls from critical people you designate is part of what makes a smartphone a SMART ... PHONE! Long overdue and much appreciated.

   
• Passbook. One of the buzzword technologies hitting mobile phones is "NFC" which is "Near Field Communication." This allows you to buy stuff or unlock stuff or transfer stuff very simply over very short distances. It sounds kinda cool. No more fumbling for your credit card or airline ticket or room key when you've got your mobile phone! Except... not many people are using it. Yet. And, like all new tech, we don't know if it will really catch on. So Apple is conveniently ignoring it. For now. As a stop-gap, they've come up with Passbook. It's kind of like a wallet for your cards and tickets and stuff. Except instead of using NFC, it relies on good old-fashioned bar codes...

IOS 6 Passbook

The above image comes from Apple, because Passbook itself hasn't really caught on yet. I think it will. It's just too good of an idea to be ignored. Especially since the cards/tickets/whatever are "location aware" and will pop up automatically when you are near the place they can be used. I look forward to using it. Eventually.

   
• Facebook/Twitter. And so now you can Tweet and Facebook directly from the Notification Center. You can also Tweet and Facebook stuff from other various apps like Photos and Safari courtesy of the "Share" button. It's kinda nifty...

IOS6 Tap to Tweet!

iOS 6 Share Me!

   
• Maps. There's no subtle way to say this... Apple's replacement for Google Maps (titled simply "Maps")... sucks. And sucks hard. First of all, there's NO Public Transit Directions. This is just awful for somebody like me who travels to new places a lot and uses public transportation. Second of all, the map data is often good, but sometimes pretty terrible. Things are missing or on the wrong place. Satellite views for some locations are so bad as to be indecipherable. It's just a mess, and even if Apple starts throwing millions of dollars at the problem, it's going to be a while before they are even close to Google Maps.

The good news is that when Maps works, it's pretty frickin' incredible... and so very very pretty. PLUS YOU CAN MAKE THE LABELS BIG SO YOU CAN ACTUALLY READ THEM! Sweet! But the feature that sets Apple Maps apart is their amazing "Flyover" feature that allows you to swoop around some cities in beautiful 3-D. I could play with it for hours...

Maps Seattle

Maps Space Needle

Turning off the satellite gives you the geometry for Flyover...

Maps Seattle Geometry

There is some freaky imagery with Flyover in places... but when it works, it's pretty great. Like the Hard Rock Hotel in Chicago...

Maps Chicago Hard Rock Hotel

Some famous places like The Coliseum and The Vatican are well-rendered...

Maps Coliseum

Maps Vatican

Others, like the Eiffel Tower? Not so much...

Maps Flat Tower

I have no doubt that Apple is going to invest the time and money to keep improving Maps to the point that it eventually eclipses Google. The question then becomes... how long is that going to take? Could be years. Which means I really need my Google Maps back for serious use. Hopefully Google will give us an app for that... but, until then, I guess there's always their mobile maps site. Sure I'll lose the "turn-by-turn directions" that Apple has... but I'd take time-tested, reliable maps over flashy add-ons any day.

   
• Photo Stream. One of the things that drives me insane is how difficult it is to transfer photos. Transfer to my iPad. Transfer to my Mac. Transfer to friends. Transfer anywhere, really. At first I just emailed them to myself. Then I bought an app that had a klutzy way of setting up a link between my iPhone and my Mac. Apple's "Photostream" technology came along, but YOU don't choose what gets put there. Enter "Shared Photo Streams" with iOS 6. Now you can create your own custom streams, invite whomever you want to view them, then post photos until your heart's content. Bonus? You and others can COMMENT on the photos. Pretty sweet. It's not direct, instant transfer to somebody you're talking to, but it's good enough.

   
• Facetime. And so FaceTime over cellular is now possible with iOS 6. Unless you're unwilling to give up your grandfathered unlimited data plan. Then AT&T decides they're going to FUCK YOU JUST BECAUSE THEY CAN... THEY ARE GOING TO DENY YOU THE ABILITY TO FACETIME OVER CELLULAR LIKE THE GREEDY BASTARDS THEY ARE. Data is data. How they can differentiate how you use that data is pretty fucked up and should be illegal. And what about their customers that are deaf?!? A deaf person could really make use of this technology... but only if they want to sign up for a data plan that AT&T decides they can make money off of. Holy crap do I loathe cell companies.

   
That's not all the new features in iOS 6, but it's the ones that matter to me. Sure there are loads of other niceties... like being able to dismiss calls with a text... and the nifty panorama camera feature that's head and shoulders above the third-party apps for shooting panos... and shared iCloud tabs across devices from Apple's Safari browser is sure handy... etc. etc.

Any downside?

Well, as I said, Maps is a problem. It can be pretty, but it's not nearly as usable as the Google Maps it replaces. At least not yet. I wish Apple would have waited a while longer until their Maps were more functional. Other than that? Not a lot. My older iPhones don't seem to run any slower, which is always a concern. All the features that are available on each of my iPhones seem to be working as advertised. I suppose I could nitpick on little things, but the truth is that I am very happy with iOS 6... despite the fact that it's not much of a leap over previous iOS versions when it comes to the experience. Probably because Apple got it right the first time, but I fully admit I'd like to see a few more bells and whistles in the way things work. The iPhone 5 that's coming out tomorrow is leagues faster and more powerful than the original iPhone... why doesn't it have more whiz-bang visuals to take advantage of that? Not enough to distract or slow-down the gadgets running iOS, but something to make it feel a bit fresher than the original iPhone.

Because other mobile OS's like Windows 8 and Android may be behind the curve... but they're closing in a lot faster than Apple is willing to admit. Publicly. Hopefully behind the closed doors of Cupertino it's a different story.

   

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