Thoughts & Impressions on Apple Event

In order of appearance:

Steve Jobs Tribute – Easily best part of the keynote. I had goosebumps when Job’s voice came over the speakers in that dark, intimate setting. Tim Cook was understandably, emotionally shaken. He delivered a well structured tribute for a well deserved man. Again, easily the best part of the keynote.

Apple Park Video – Very impressive. Very awkward. Don’t get me wrong, Apple Park is amazing. Every inch of the place looks like an Apple product. Obviously no money was left on the table here, Apple spared no expense in building this. So, in that instance, sure the video was great. Unfortunately it ran long for me. And by the end, it felt more like a “look what we did and you can’t have” video. Maybe thats just me, but after the first couple minutes, I’m thinking… “Are you guys just showing off at this point?” To which I’m pretty sure they would have answered: “yes and your welcome.”

Apple Retail Update – I like Angela Ahrendts a lot. I really do and I think shes doing great work…. But Apple Townsquares? Just stop. Its a place we go to give you money..

Apple Watch Series 3Solid upgrade in the Apple Watch line. I don’t love the price bump, but its Apple. Now we have an LTE enabled watch which I think makes sense, but the other side of me can’t quite connect the dots yet. Especially when cellular companies are selling me ‘air.’ Or more specifically charging me 10 extra dollars for use of the Watch on their network. A great reminder that I loath cell companies. All in all, same design, awesome new bands (sport loop) and good on Apple for pushing the line forward. If cellular means the world to you then update. If you have a series 2 and don’t care much about LTE, then sit this one out. Even if you have a Series 1 or 0, (like myself) I think unless cellular is something you’ve been waiting for for a while, then jump, if not. No worries and wait for next year’s redesign. (My opinion)

Apple TV – 4K, HDR, chip bump and SAME remote. Apple really? That remote is without a doubt one of the worst designed pieces of hardware to ever creep out of Apple. How in the world was this not redesigned and let out a 2nd time. 4k is great if you have a TV that supports it, HDR is the real winner here. Again, your TV has to support it, but HDR alone would make me upgrade if I had a TV capable. I’m holding off, but considering our Apple TV is our main way we watch our television, I’m happy to see Apple pushing their TV agenda forward.

iPhone 8’s – Its been the popular thing to bash these phones all because iPhone X was announced at the same event. Sure, the 8’s are less desirable for tech enthusiasts. But not only tech obsessed people buy iPhones. Apple knows this, and the truth is the 8’s are unbelievably great products. I really love the way the aluminum mixes with the new glass back. Also, the new gold color looks fantastic. I wouldn’t write off these phones just yet. I’m sure the demand will be a whole lot less compared to iPhone X, but these are solid upgrades which Apple should be commended for. Not to mention they feature almost every software upgrade that iPhone X does. iPhone X trumps 8 in hardware, sure. But there’s something to be said for tried and true, and the 8 is exactly that to the core: tried and true. I’m still heavily considering purchasing one.

iPhone X – The main event. I felt a very odd merging of emotions watching the unveil of iPhone X. Sure, I have been waiting for over a year for this phone, even published why I was passing on the 7 to wait on this very model. But as Phil Schiller was proudly announcing iPhone X I felt a sense of dread mixed in with my excitement. The lack of home button is really bothering me. I love my home button, specifically because I think its easily the best feature ever implemented on any tech product. And now Apple is ditching it. There is no denying how good iPhone X looks though. Its everything I thought it would be a year ago and in some ways more. I was little worried about Face ID and how well it would execute, but the hands on videos and trusted tech reporters cleared any doubt on that front. But one more gripe… That notch at the top of the display literally offends me. I don’t know how else to say it. It looks so out of place and so un-Apple. I get that Apple had no choice. That’s obvious. Internally, they can’t be thrilled with it either. But man, its rough to look at. Maybe using in real life changes things, but that notch. Anyways, bottom line for me is I’m excited to use it. As far as iPhone X as an over all product: Its obvious they believe in the design language and clearly is the future moving forward. Very impressive work for Apple.

My Verdict – I really enjoyed this event. A lot of it has to do with the Steve Jobs tribute in the new building. It just felt like an old school Apple event again. Maybe it was Steve’s voice. I don’t know. All the devices announced were impressive to say the least. The more interesting aspect of this event was wasn’t said though. No HomePod talk, no iMac Pro talk. Actually no Macintosh talk at all. Nothing ever mentioned. Thats kind of amazing to me. Amazing in a sad way. All in all, I’d say a solid day for Apple. They delivered on some heavy rumored products and high expectations of millions. But that notch though. Oh and by the way where in the world is dark mode?

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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.

WWDC 2016 Predictions and Hopes

It’s that time of year again! I genuinely like to ponder and predict results of WWDC. I kind of feel its the result of my podcast listening. Im not always accurate except one year in particular but I always enjoy the whole experience.

A little background for those who don’t know what WWDC is. Once a year, Apple does what they like to call WWDC or “World Wide Developer Conference”. Basically the gist is all the Apple developers around the world can come to a week long conference where Apple employees can give classes and help them with their apps. In the beginning of the week Apple does what they call a “Keynote”. This is significant to us. The keynote is when Apple will present what they have been working on for future builds of iOS and (soon to be called) Mac OS.

Below are some predictions that I have gathered over the past couple months:

Lets talk hardware first. This will be quick enough. NO HARDWARE! There, that was easy. While many people will be disappointed, to my knowledge Apple views WWDC as a software conference and while sometimes they release hardware, it won’t be this year.

Apple Music
First up, Apple Music. Debuting to much criticism and rightly so, Apple Music is the result of Apple’s 3 billion dollar acquisition of Beats Audio. The service was unveiled at last year’s WWDC with arguably the worst presentation Apple has ever rolled out. The presentation itself mirrored the finished product. Confusing and bloated. My prediction is Apple will uncharacteristically revamp Apple Music just a year in. While it won’t be a complete overhaul. It will be a repainting, per say. Agree with it or not, music has always been super important to Apple. They know the shortcomings of Apple Music and it doesn’t sit well with them.

iOS 10
Taking a look around the tech landscape will simply tell you Apple has fallen a bit behind in the Artificial Intelligence category. Amazon bravely is paving the way with the Echo and Google just recently announced Google Home. Both products are amazing and both quite honestly trump Siri in it’s current form. So one prediction for iOS 10 is finally Siri 2.0 with a Siri API. They simply can’t afford to not have this now.

Another tent pole feature and one I have been waaaaaiting for is dark mode. OS X got this two years ago and I have been hoping this would come to my iPhone ever since. That’s more of a hope than a prediction, but lets get it done Apple!

watch OS 3
It’s a given right? This has to be a rethinking of the watch software. No one could or would complain of its physical design, but Apple Watch’s software needs some help. Personally, get rid of the app icon grid and please let third party developers make watch faces. I know Jony Ive is cringing somewhere , but this is a much needed feature. Much like the success of the iPhone, developers could bring fresh air into this product.

I would also love to see the exercise and workout features get a little smarter. There is no good reason why I should have to manually tell my watch to activate a workout. It should just simply be able to tell my heart rate is elevated and automatically put me in a workout.

Also it goes without saying that the watch is in need to “feel” faster. While i enjoy mine, it certainly lags at times. I know this is more of a hardware issue then anything. But a little software work would help.

Mac OS
That’s right! A new name! Finally Apple can shed the long numbers, cat naming schemes and California names and just make this a whole bunch simpler. Also, i think the biggest announcement here is going to be SIRI integration. It really seems odd to me the Macs are really the lone Apple devices with the absence of SIRI. Rumors have pointed to this and i’m really hoping it pans out.

Another Application Apple may be readying is a new, slimmer iTunes. iTunes is really tough for Apple. It’s really the only true legacy software Apple currently supports. They have to provide support for so many older devices, it’s extremely tough for them to push it forward in a drastic way. A lot of people love to harp on how Apple is falling behind and the current state of iTunes is enough proof. Personally, I think it’s a really hard problem to fix. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t, It means more concentration belongs there.

Whatever happens on June 13th its important to remember Apple is a company and not a magical entity that can spawn whimsical products when they like. Always keep your expectations low and you will be the much more delighted when they announce whatever they announce! Happy WWDC!

P.S. Lets work on that Dark Mode 🙂

“Steve Jobs’ love of simplicity is gone”

Ken Segall, the former Apple ad consultant who coined the iMac name, wrote the copy for the famous ‘Think different’ campaign and authored the book Insanely Simple, says that Apple is beginning to lose touch with its heritage of simplicity. He gave his assessment of Apple’s ‘state of simplicity’ in a piece for the Guardian.

Though Apple’s customers remain fiercely loyal, the natives are getting restless. A growing number of people are sensing that Tim Cook’s Apple isn’t as simple as Steve’s Apple. They see complexity in expanding product lines, confusing product names, and the products themselves.

While the Guardian‘s headline makes the piece seem entire critical, it’s actually very balanced …

He points out that Tim Cook may be a very different person to Steve Jobs, but was hand-picked by Steve to take on the job and is fully aware of his own strengths and weaknesses. Segall also looks at both sides of the product line-up debate.

Apple now sells three different iPhones, four different iPads and three different MacBooks. The Apple Watch comes in seemingly infinite combinations of sizes and bands. The Apple universe is exploding with complexity! Or is it?

One could easily argue that a watch is a fashion product, so the decision here makes sense. And there is ample precedent for Apple expanding existing product lines. The original iPod, for example, successfully grew into a family of products.

Markets mature. A bigger audience has more diverse needs. If Apple were to ignore those needs, they would only force customers to go elsewhere. (As they did for several years by not making a big-screen iPhone.)

So, yes, Apple’s product lines have become more complicated. But really, are they that complicated? The company’s entire selection of products can easily fit on an average-size table.

Im not sure if I agree with Ken on everything he’s bringing to the table. But I have a lot of respect for his opinion. The truth is; if so many really intelligent Apple analysts are saying “something” is changing, are any of them right? Hard to say no.

You can read Ken’s whole piece here.

Three Year iPhone Design Cycle

Nikkei Asian Review is reporting Apple is moving to a new 3-year design cycle for the iPhone:

The new version slated for this autumn will look almost identical to the current iPhone 6. Functions such as the camera, water resistance and battery capacity will likely be improved, and the headphone jack will be removed. Also, a high-end version of the model will give users better-quality photo capabilities via correction functions.

This makes sense considering the leaks this far.

Read the scoop.