End of the iPod

Like many of you i’m sure, the gateway device that introduced me to Apple Products was the original iPod. For obvious reasons, that device holds a special place in my heart. I was sad to hear today Apple is quietly phasing traditional iPods out (via macrumors)

Apple today removed the iPod nano and iPod shuffle from its website and online store around the world, and it has since confirmed the iconic portable media players have been discontinued. Apple continues to sell the iPod touch with updated pricing and storage, including a 32GB model for $199 and 128GB model for $299.

Apple also released this statement to clarify:

“Today, we are simplifying our iPod lineup with two models of iPod touch, now with double the capacity starting at just $199, and we are discontinuing the iPod shuffle and iPod nano,” an Apple spokesperson told Business Insider.

End of an era for sure. Business-wise, it just doesn’t make much sense to keep iPods around much longer. But the 15 year old in me is sad to see it go.

10 Years of iPhone

Hard to believe the iPhone has been around for 10 years now. Today marks the exact 10th anniversary of the original iPhone release. Love it or hate it, use it or don’t. You can’t deny its impact in the world today. Calling it the most successful consumer product of all time is accurate and anything less would be selling it short.

Let’s see where another 10 years gets us. Happy 10th Anniversary iPhone.

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Fidget Spinner & Rubik’s Cube: The Tale of Distant Cousins 

It’s no secret today’s kids get a lot of flak. They don’t dress right, they have zero attention span, they stare at a glowing plastic screen all day, etc. etc. etc..

Sure, I’ve heard all of these statements. But the other day I was watching someone at work spin this toy thing on their finger for minutes upon minutes. Finally I asked: “What is that thing?” “A fidget spinner” he replied. And so it began.

Something about it struck me as odd. Well, many things about it struck me as odd. First, apparently this is a country wide phenomenon, to the likes of the infamous Furby revolution. They didn’t exist and then bam, there they are. The 2nd thing was how no one was making the obvious comparisons to the Rubik’s Cube. It’s a no brainer for me. Make sense or not, these things are cousins. Well, distant cousins.

The toys have some major differences though, the Rubik’s cube was a problem solving mechanism. It had a mission statement. That little cube stared at you, playing or not, and demanded to be solved. For the majority, the RC was a puzzling, difficult contraption that was a bicycle for the brain. A tool for young and older minds alike.

The Fidget Spinner is none of that. It’s a thing that spins, thats it. It doesn’t even try to be advantageous. It has no motivation or drive. It just spins. Even someone as dimwitted as myself could see the potential for some kind of gaming experience or challenge inducing feature. Like just thinking out loud, maybe a digital counter to number the spins. So when you pass it from person to person, they could compete for the most spins. I don’t know, you get the idea. But no, the Fidget Spinner effortlessly lacks the ambition.

So your probably asking why are these things distant cousins? Simple reason I tell you, the masses are consuming it. Sure the majority of certain demographics play with other items in large scale. Video games, cell phones come to mind, but this is a plastic little toy.

Here’s why this is somewhat scary to me. The way my brain works is odd sometimes. I try and reverse situations to make sense out of them. So here I go. If the Fidget Spinner was released when the Rubik’s Cube was (1974), is it a hit? Is it a run away, hands down worldwide sensation? Or what about the Rubik’s Cube? If the Rubik’s Cube took the stage in 2017, does every young child to early adult lust for one?

I mentioned in the first paragraph what the general consensus of the young generation is to some. Lazy, unambitious, and mostly idle, a zero competitive spirit, etc. Personally, I don’t really believe that. I’ve always believed you can’t judge by the majority, you have to do your due diligence and judge on a person to person basis. Thats how I would want to be judged.

I will say this though, with the rise of the Fidget Spinners, I’m scratching my head harder then ever. Truth is, the Rubik’s Cube wouldn’t make it in today’s world. It’s problem solving, thinking required, mentally intimidating demeanor would be unattractive in comparison to the Fidget Spinner customers. Which makes me wonder more than ever; after the Fidget Spinners time in the limelight is long gone and the masses spin their last fidget, what comes next?

Could it be that the these toys mirror the current state of cultural and societal span of attentions? I seriously hope not. But it does raise the question quite boldly.

iPad Adventures Part 1

This feels familiar. Unnervingly familiar. I am checking the tracking status on a particular order I just purchased. What could this be? A new iPhone? A new book? A new movie? Any of those would be fine I suppose. What wouldn’t be fine? A new iPad…

Let me give you clue, it rhymes with iFad. Yup thats it. In the mail somewhere in Indiana is an iPad Pro 9.7 inch with my name on it. I know what your thinking at this point. Why. Why. Why. I have a few answers and not surprisingly, many questions myself.

Many of you are very familiar with my history with Mr. iPad. We have had a interesting relationship to say the least. From iPad 2 all the way up to this shiny new guy. My past is marred with battle scars of trying to fit the iPad into my life. Truth be told, it never quite has.

So why now? Why again? I have 2 ( I think) very good answers. Numeral uno: PRICE. I can hear your eyes rolling but give me a chance to explain myself here. So black friday, ya. That happened. I happened to find a very expensive iPad Pro model for a fraction of its normal price. So that alone was hard to pass up.

But the real reason. Ah yes. The real reason. Simple put, Apple. Yes, Apple. You see I’ve been watching diligently as Apple sways in and out of keynotes making grandiose statements for certain products and utterly avoids others. You see one thing you have to know about me (if you haven’t already) is I’m a Mac guy. I always have been. I edited my first short film on a Macintosh. I wrote all my screenplays on a Mac. The Mac is near and dear to my heart. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same about Apple anymore.

Of course Apple doesn’t want anyone to think they are abandoning Macintosh. That would be foolish. Unavoidably, their actions hint at such motives though. So to make a long drawn out story not too long, ill just say this: I see the writing on the wall. iPad is Apple’s future. And its hard to completely blame them for it.

So back to me… I had to make a decision. I had to decide if I was going to keep fighting the good fight and continue on in my Mac ways, or try something different. I don’t want to miss something if Apple has big plans for the iPad next year. More accurately, I want to be prepared. As it stands now. All of my heavy work gets done on my MacBook Pro. I love this machine. But I’ve also had this laptop for 4 years now.

I think its also important to not just be doing something because A.) your comfy with it and B.) its what you’ve always done. I would never subscribe to that in life. At least I try hard not to. So I have no clue why I do such things in my tech products.

Many of you will ask the specifics. What model, what accessories. My plan is to try and document what Im doing, how I’m doing it and with what I’m doing it with. So all the details will be on here shortly.

Its funny, I already sense that familiar feeling. And the voices, of Dear heaven; the voices: “Too many products, not enough focus. Waste of money. Waste of space. Not efficient.” All voices running through my head right now. All old voices mind you. I need to try and beat those. Or at least figure why they are so loud.

Who knows if this experiment will work. Im ready to give it another go though. I will try and document my experiences with new iPad and report back. Maybe I bring it back. Maybe history repeats itself. Or maybe it finds a nice spot in my life… Who knows? Will find out soon.

5 Years Without Steve Jobs

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Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me. Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful, that’s what matters to me.– Steve Jobs

I’ve never met Steve Jobs. I never will. But the impact his products have made in my life is undeniable. Today marks the 5 year anniversary of his death. I often wonder about many things; what he would think of current Apple products? The direction Apple has gone? Decisions they have made? Obviously no one knows these answers. But I still wonder…

I owe Steve Jobs my love to video production. I’m not great at it, and really don’t do it as much as i’d like anymore. But the truth is, his passion for getting complicated, expensive tools in ordinary people’s hands in a reworked, simple product is the direct reason for my filmmaking an editing projects.

Steve’s Stanford Commencement Speech was a huge influence of me filming a screenplay on a whim. His reluctancy until achievement of excellence still inspires me and truthfully, could be used at Apple currently. His drive for perfection is largely unmatched not only today, but in an all time spectrum.

In a world where iPhone is king, I think it’s important to remember SJ and Apple at their roots. At their simplest form: The Mac. Steve was passionate about the Mac. To a fault really. But the result is someone like me. I didn’t have to go to college to learn video editing, or filmmaking, or sound sampling, or color correcting, or graphic designing. I just had to buy my first Macintosh.

Thanks Steve.

The Most Skippable iPhone?

Like a kid at Christmas, there I was doing my part. I waited patiently. I was ready. This year though, Apple had other plans.

I have been anxiously awaiting this years iPhone release for more than a year. It has been my customary tradition to upgrade my most used tech device every 2 years. Even when Apple introduced their now infamous “Upgrade Program,” I still held off. Because frankly, I like keeping my phones for 2 years. I don’t why, I just do.

So around June-ish the rumors started to hit pretty heavy that the new upcoming iPhone is not what we thought it may be. It’s not redesigned, it’s not exciting and most notably it’s not even garnering the most attention. Turns out this year, the next next iPhone is getting more attention then the soon anticipated one. The rumors started to hit hard that Apple was working diligently on a revolutionary, edge to edge screen design for the 10th anniversary iPhone that would release in 2017. This was a first. I didn’t know what to think about this. Essentially my mind translated all this into: this new, unreleased iPhone (2016) is already outdated.

I didn’t like this. Who would? Here I am intentionally waiting for the new hotness, only to start hearing rumors that the new hotness is not the new hotness. I thought to myself, “Be Patient”. Wait and see. And wait I did…

Fast Forward…. Enter September 7, 2016. Apple officially reveals iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. The rumors were dead on. Not newly designed. Not exciting. Not new hotness. To be fair, the iPhones 7 have a lot going for them. This marks the first time Apple has ever made a design 3 times in a row. At this point I would assume they have perfected it. So a big benefit is naturally, if your buying an iPhone 7, your receiving a very well polished, solid device to surely last you 2 years.

So there I was faced with this unusual situation I never chose to be in. I waited, I did my part. Apple showed their cards and I’m kind of left scratching my head. What do I do? I thought about this a bunch. I didn’t want to waste my upgrade on a phone only to be left out in the dark when/if Apple does release this magical, unicorn, 10th anniversary iPhone next year. Also another huge element in my decision making was Apple’s new operating system, iOS 10. In my mind, iOS 10 was going to make or break my decision. If it ran awful on my current iPhone 6 my choice would be an easy one. If it ran silky smooth. That would pull me in the keeping the 6 camp.

On the other hand, iPhone release week is a fun time to be an Apple fan. You get caught in the excitement extremely easy and naturally, you want to be a part of it and on my traditional 2 year cycle, I usually am. Another huge benefit I was to gain is simply having a new phone. My current phone is 2 years old and showing some age. The great thing about buying a new phone every 2 years is really receiving upgrades from 2 new phone generations, not 1.

So honestly speaking, the night preorders hit, instead of my usual super excitement, I set my alarm for 2:55 AM with an indecisive (who me?) mind. My alarm sounded, clock showed 2:55. Here I go. Pull out my trusty laptop. Apple.com here I come. Do all my preorder set up and come to the moment of truth: the “place order button.”

Excitement got the best of me. I preordered feeling “OK” about the decision but also in the back of my head knew iOS 10 dropped in 3 days. If iOS 10 would run smoothly on my current iPhone 6 and I wasn’t impressed with the 7, the plan of action would be pretty clear: my usual return policy which is return everything! Lindsey now calls it my “ride of shame” which I laugh at because it unbelievably accurate of my emotions when I’m driving to the Apple store with a receipt and a box.

So, iPhone 7 preordered and coming on launch day and awaiting iOS 10. The day of iOS 10’s release I was excited. Kinda like the excited I used to be for new iPhone releases. And that spoke volumes to me. I asked myself why? The truth I came to find out was simple. I really didn’t want the iPhone 7. In many ways I was hoping to pass on it. If I passed on it, I would have many, many options for next year.

iOS 10 released and I honestly think my phone runs better then it did on iOS 9. The big things checked out: battery life, responsiveness, all good! I was excited. I felt confident my 6 would be good to last another year, Then my 7 came in the mail. And to give Apple credit, the phone is gorgeous. I ordered the matte black model and boy I’m happy I did. Even without a new design, somehow Apple made this phone better looking then ever. I was tempted briefly to keep it (of course I was) but after some clear thinking and adding up all the moving parts: iOS 10 performance on my current phone, next year impending magical phone and keeping my upgrade intact. I just couldn’t do it. Ride of shame, we meet once again.

So thats it, thats my story (so far). The back up plan is if something happens to my third year iPhone that deems it unusable, I’ll bite the bullet and head on over to Apple and pick up a 7. Until then I feel at peace with my decision. An odd choice ill be the first to admit. I’ve never had a cell phone for 3 years. So we will see how that pans out.

I should note, people have mentioned the obvious to me. What if Apple’s magical unicorn phone does not come out next year? Do you hold on to your iPhone 6 a 4th year? The answer: I don’t know. I doubt it, but we’ll see. For the record, I’m really hoping Apple comes through.

Like many reviewers currently out there, I can’t bash Apple. My decision was based on what I wanted and not what Apple did or did not do, if that makes sense. Sure the iPhone 7 didn’t ring my bell this time around. That doesn’t mean it’s not a great phone. In fact it is a great phone. Any time Apple makes something 3 times over you better believe its a solid product. You also have to give Apple props that my current daily driver (iPhone 6) is 2 years old and simply running better then ever. What other tech company can boast about something like that? So in one way the iPhone 7 is Apple’s most skippable phone. In many others, Apple’s most conceived phone. Its all in how you look at it.

If you ordered an iPhone 7 or 7 Plus. Be excited. It’s a worthy representation of the newest iPhone. But as for me, When I returned mine I finally got to play with one in the store. The best way for me to sum up my hands on experience of an iPhone 7 is simple. IPhone 7: next year’s iPhone hidden in this years casing. Its extremely clear to me that this years iPhone is a transition phone until next year. And you know who can’t wait to be excited again for a new iPhone announcement? This guy.

Austin Mann’s iPhone 7 Camera Review

 

Whole thing was shot on iPhone 7 and 7 Plus cameras. If you can, look at his example photos on a display with wide color gamut. Mann on the 7 Plus 56 mm camera:

It works exactly as I hoped. It is super quick to switch between lenses, even while you are rolling video. As seen in the video above, jumping from 1× to 2× while recording can be a great way to punch in and emphasize a detail.

In terms of quality, I found the the 2× zoom lens to be equally as sharp as the iPhone wide-angle we’re accustomed to. However, I do not recommend the digital zoom beyond 2×. The quality of digital zoom degrades quickly and I find it unusable for photography (although it’s actually kind of nice as an animal spotting tool).

The 2× works in ALL modes (photo, video, time-lapse, slo-mo, and even pano), which surprised me. I didn’t expect it in each mode, and I really enjoyed shooting 2× panos, capturing extra detail in the area of the landscape I found most interesting.

And on search:

Shooting photos is one thing; finding them and sharing them is another. The new Photos app in iOS 10 has a great search feature (the magnifying glass at top right) that hasn’t been talked about much.

I’ve found this feature to be very powerful and way beyond what I expected. For starters, I can search for a location like “Lake Kivu” to see all the photos I took on the lake. But going further, I can search for “tree” or “mountain” and immediately see all images containing trees or mountains. Even further still, I can search for “palm tree” and it accurately displays palm trees I’ve photographed in the last week.

Watch Austin’s excellent review here

The iPad Paradox

I’m getting closer and closer to replace my trusty old macbook with an iPad. Articles like this push me even closer to the ledge. Michael Gartenberg over at iMore:

With some products… there’s a distinct conflict between consumer understanding of the features and the value assigned to those features. While the internet was filled with a rabid fan base of customers who loved and praised TiVo at every opportunity, most consumers didn’t understand the value of a $500 “digital VCR.”

In short, if you met a TiVo owner at a party, they were rabid…. When most people tried it, the lightbulb turned on. TiVo was not an expensive VCR — it redefined watching TV. I suspect iPad is suffering from the same paradox. Customers who buy an iPad Pro understand the power it unlocks relative to a Mac. The more they use it, the more it displaces their Mac. They “get it,” but most folks just don’t.

This is the conundrum. So many people who try to use the iPad Pro to get work done just seem to have that light bulb turn on over their head. They get it. It doesn’t happen for everyone, but it happens for a lot of people it seems. I’m jealous as I’ve been looking to replace my laptop for years. Anyways, great article if your interested.

Read the rest here

Homescreen.me

How different people arrange their iPhone Home screen has always been of natural curiosity for me.

The iPhone has become an integral part of our lives, and seeing the apps that different people elevate to their Home screen provides insights into how they work and live their lives. But it also gives us the opportunity to discover new apps, find a new wallpaper, or re-think the layout and structure of how we organize the apps on our own Home screens.

If you find yourself curious about the iPhone Home screens of others, the relaunch of the Homescreen.me website might interest you. The basic pitch is that it allows anyone to upload and share their iPhone Home screen and Apple Watch watch face. The team behind Homescreen.me is also featuring the Home screens of different users, giving you the opportunity to get inspired and discover new apps.

Personally, I’m really am enjoying the new Homescreen.me. Check it out:

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