Apple

All posts tagged Apple

If I chose a current AppleWatch

Waiting for the DT Camera version…

Investors are being fed news of some massive Apple Watch sales decrease since its release. Oddly the overall percentage of the market of people that use the iPhones (iPhone 5 & up) that work with the Watch that actually bought the Watch is inline with historic sales trends of other accessory technology. Most technology accessories, from bluetooth headphones to keyboards to eye wear face significantly lower sales numbers. At the current Apple Watch price point, the percentage is actually abnormally high given inexpensive accessories run under $100 and might get 4% adoption (this translates to something you can observe: less than 1 in 20 people that own a tablet have a bluetooth keyboard.) Whereas Apple Watch owners are almost equal to that within a 2 month launch for a device that starts at $350. While only 1 in 5 people in the U.S. have an iPhone, of those, the number that have or plan to get an Apple Watch are 1 in 10, conservatively.

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MFi-controllerOver a year ago when I found out about the MFi controller program that would allow manufacturers to create gaming controllers for iOS device, I was a bit excited. But after looking at the offerings, I decided to wait until the quality & price was in parity with other controllers on the market. Now, well over a year later, and I am still waiting.

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QualtyNerpFowndThis is actually the first time in a long time I am not taking an iTunes update, given that it doesn’t fix the graphic artifact during scrolling issue, and other users are reporting worse things happening. In retrospect, I should have stuck with 11.x . iTunes 12.x is looking more like Windows Millennium everyday.

Sad.

This was once SoundJam, an app so good that Apple bought it. But this is now another example of an app in the care of a company too big to care to give it the attention to detail, and true UI/UX modernizations and feature enhancements an indie would have. A third party company would have listened to their customers or face declining sales. Apple is too big to truly care about the declining quality of iTunes. Whomever is sitting in charge of shipping product quality control is obviously not paying attention, and this toxic style of management is what can and has brought once great companies down.

Since v4 the only “improvements” have been cosmetic and the addition of the various stores. Apple has never addressed iTunes key failings and has instead focused on bloating it u to the point where once loyal users are looking elsewhere for leading edge features.

But this isn’t really about Apple. Apple is really an example. This is about a mentality epidemic in proportion of people who think that marketing, money or someone else can make up (or take the blame) for subpar products. The logic is as follows:

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Last year my Airport Express (v1) was made obsolete by apple deciding to drop support for configuring it from 10.9. This year an Apple Extreme (802.11n Dual-band) that was in service for about 4–5 years finally started failing thanks to either age or heat problems. The heat issue is often important to some tech people because the amount of equipment in use easily spikes the temperature in our rooms 5°–10° or in the closets we have to stick them in. Not everyone thinks a mess of wires (properly tied or not) is a thing of beauty, so often we have to put them in closets and in spaces with little ventilation. This leads to heat building up and soon DSL modems and their UPSes and WiFi routers are dying. WiFi routers can last a long time if treated well, but if they are used constantly and under heavy loads with bad cooling, don’t expect them to last more than 5 years. As for the Airport Extreme, I am taking it to a less demanding/harsh environment. Hopefully, the lighter load will mean at least a few more years of service out of it.

As an aside: I once made the case for proper cooling in a new building when asked by the CFO if we needed Air conditioning. I said we don’t need it, but some of our equipment would burn out/malfunction 1–2 years faster costing at least a few K per year in increased maintenance and secondary costs (downtime, multiple backups, etc.)— maybe more.

I mentioned it to a friend and he said he was concerned with the iPhone 6 series’ ambient temperature ceiling (95° F). Another friend pointed out that that’s because Li-Ion batteries have this restriction, which neither of us was aware of. Checking our 5s specs, the temperature limits is also 95°F, which is interesting because the 5ses didn’t seem to have any problems in Nevada last month. So, maybe the phones Li-Ion batteries will die faster. No problem: I have replaced a few iPhone batteries and parts.

Interestingly enough, I looked and fewer and fewer manufacturers are putting this info in their specs sheets, leading me to believe some of support costs could be avoided by placing this info in the specs and making sure customers are aware of it. I know plenty of people that leave electronics with Li-Ion batteries in their cars (hidden of course). Luckily, non-operating ambient temperature ceiling are above 110°F.

Anyway, heat plays an important role in the lifespan of many electronics, and it occurred to me that few people even mention it. So, I am mentioning: If you are on a 3-year replacement cycle, paying attention to this fact isn’t too important. But if you are in the miserly camp of stretching your dollar by upgrading devices less than 3 times a decade, you might want to be aware of heat and operating temperature limits as a consideration.

I recommend products all the time, but also steer people clear of products that are nothing but headaches. iTunes Match falls squarely in the latter category. After many problems with iTunes Match not working over 2 years that I have documented in my blogs, I finally decided to give up on this red-headed step child of Apple’s eco-system.

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Okay, since tech journalists far and wide love speculating, and taking the whiff of a rumor and exploding it into fact, that is picked up ad nauseam until when said fantasy feature is not announced people, including the same amplifying pundits, have a rage quote episode and decry how Apple’s ship is going down. How I truly hate that continual churn of stupidity. Let’s not include the fact that many of these predictions are not rooted in technical understanding nor have a solid idea of what a product really needs. And to be clear: any product needs to fill a gap, by making things either easier than before or make something that was impossible, possible (with minimal fuss in the case of consumer products). 

With that said, here are my completely baseless predictions on what Apple will reveal in about 9 hours presented to you in pseudocode-o-vision. Make no mistake: none of these have any basis in any current rumor or factoid about what parts assembly lines in Taiwan are missing this week, and all of the numbers (even the number of the new iPhone and OSes) are made up. 

1: Apple will slightly redesign the outside of the iPhone 5s, not that it matters because any tweak might look nice but be a literal pain to hold more than a few minutes at a time. (Chance of this actually happening? Meh; var Meh= ~10%; [note: all numbers are also completely made up.])

1.25: Apple will offer a 128GB iPhone 5S. if(anyoneAtAppleHasAppsGoneFree){Chance(Meh *5)};

1.5: Higher Res Camera (~10MP), a 720pixel display, a brighter LED flash, a bigger ~1.8Ah battery for a few more hours runtime (~10 hours on mobile data) . {Chance(Meh*7);}

1.75: The new iPhone will have a new improved accelerometer that registers fewer false tilts. Absolutely no dat that makes me think this can happen if(iPhone5s->DoesItNeedIt(Accelerometer++)){Chance( Meh% *√3.14159…);

 

/*By the way here’s a fun bet: 

Noivad:“I bet I know the last number of π!”

Patsy:“No way! π is infinite!”

Noi:“Yes but if it wasn’t what would the last digit be?”

PatsyCline:“No way you could know that!”

Noi:“Do too! wanna know why?” 

Patsayjack[SIC]:“Why?” 

Noi:“’Cause it’s Zero! XD” 

PatBucannan:“Grrrr!” 

Note: this joke requires a lot of suspension of disbelief, much like Green Lantern did… not because of the idea that an imagination ring that granted flight and super powers is really out there, but for the mere fact that Data for an Alien Autopsy was handing over on a 3.5″ HD in a lab that had the spare change to mount Neon Lights and unnecessary lifts everywhere & a super top secret drone fighter had a release party with press, cameras and a super top secret drone on display in the center of a fountain.*/

 

2: Apple will Retiring the MBP13″ in favor of New MacBook Airs (11 & 13) with better graphics and larger active and storage RAM, an updated iPad mini, and iPad Macro. Your truly will shed a single tear then buy 1 or 2, 2TB 2.5″ HDs for his MBP13, and some sort of bullet proof case, and clean its fans out more often. {Chance(Meh*2.5)};

 

3: iOS 7 & OS 10.9 will get a facelift. Why? cause that cute little WWDC poster with the translucent icon borders, and some mysterious new guy at iOS’s helm (whom I will refer to simple as JIve) who loves clean design. { Chance(Meh * 10);} //again completely made up.

 

4: Apple will open up iOS 7 to allow changing things such as the default browser, mail client, navigation client, contacts and calendar app to third parties and allow better interaction with Apple’s iCloud. Apps will simply have to be updated to register themselves as a calendar, a browser, a navigation app, etc. To show up in the list of other default clients. 

4.5: Siri will be able to pull up locations in Apple Maps or the third party registered nav apps. if(OS7->Siri > OS6->Siri) {Chance(Meh+75)}  //Yup, you guess it, another made up number. But it’s a feature I would love to see.

 

5: Siri will finally be let out of the box more. Siri will be able to set up appointments just by saying: “Meet with legal the week after WWDC to prepare my defense for this article,” and Siri will look up WWDC’s date, a legal contact (if you have it in your contact’s notes or any field with “legal” in it), and ask “will this be at legal’s offices?” I’ll whine, “yes,” and Siri will schedule the appointment. If I’m lucky, Siri will also set my alarm to tell me when to hit the road and send the location to my registered Navigation app, Waze. Siri will be in OS X 10.9 as well, and allow me to activate it with a control-space by default. I’ll tell it to “push this (by this I mean the document that has focus on my system) to my blog on Wednesday at 9AM,” and Siri will scan it and offer tags for the article, such as “Mea Culpa” and “Oops, I got sued again.” The reasoning is simple: since both OSes are under the control of JIve, teams will naturally start exchanging ideas and bring them closer to feature parity, and leverage the installed base of iOS devices to pick up Windows 8 defectors who decided to get an iPad instead of a SMurface Pro, after upgrading their desktop or laptop to Windows 8 and being horribly confused. if(OS7->Siri->GetsLove(AppleFocus)){Chance(Meh + 40%);} 

/*I would love it but the cool engineers at Apple (you guys know who you are) probably have their hands full actually making Siri distinguish between “Pick up my dry cleaning tomorrow at six,” and “Pick up my dyke leaning tomato axis.” Don’t ask me why Siri thinks I have anything to do with flood plane repairs near fruit gardens….*/

 

6: Better iOS <> OS X data exchange via iCloud. Set a reminder on my iPad or iPhone to pay my Netflix bill via paypal on the 10th with Siri, and my “maintenance” Reminders list on my OS X machine will open up my browser to hulu.com at 9AM on the 10th. It will also check my Queue and notice that A movie in my Queue will expire in 2 days and add that to my “downtime” reminders list. My “business” reminders will also remind me it is time to do a full backup with MySQL Workbench of my personal projects server and offer to trigger that script lying around ~/Documents/Dev/mySQL/Scripts that I never got to setting up a CRON/Launch agents action for. if(iOS7->dataPayload == iOS->dataPayload){Chance(Meh+65%)}; other fantasy automatic reminder features: if(iOSX->date->autoscan){Chance( Meh)};

 

7: iOS7 will offer an improved Bluetooth Manager that allow Airplay-like connect/disconnect options in any apps that support BT audio or connections because some bitchy customer (Me) told the AppleCare rep how stupid it was that you had to turn off BT to disconnect one device from an iPad, and then reconnect the other devices that you didn’t want to disconnect but has to, in order to release that one device for something else to hook up to it. if(AppleMonitorsSupportCalls){Chance(Meh*.2);}

 

8: iOS7 will offer multiple user Accounts, so each person that shares an iPad will be able to keep their Pandora account separate from their Kids and we have no more psychiatric admissions because Dad found out he was accidentally rocking out to One Dimension [SIC]!  Also, How many of use would rather keep our Browser free of links to <Insert This Quarter’s Teenie Bopper Idol Here> and home screen free of that clutter of time wasting games? Not to mention accidentally leaving your device with the store password entered right before the kids decide now is a great time to stock up on in App Purchases costing a few hundred dollars? if(AppleActuallyCaresToSeeHowTheirProductsAreUsedInWild){Chance(Meh *3 );}

 

9: OS X 10.9 will be more secure requiring people to mess with CLI defaults to install software that is not signed. Shortly thereafter 3 or 4 free and paid apps will be able to toggle this setting with one click.

 

10: iOS 7 will come with an upgraded Weather app, that allows you to control the temperature, cloud cover and humidity within one mile. Things will be great for about 5 minutes until people start overriding each other’s settings and cause tornados, flash floods and other events eventually leading to earthquakes and tsunamis before Apple engineers can turn off the iWeather server controlling it all.

 

While I am making predictions, I will take this opportunity to complain for a paragraph about the backslide companies such as Apple are making with their products: Hey how many people know that the Kensington Security slot is not present on the new Retina MBPs and the MBAs? And how many people even know what that is? Well, there goes physical security for those who care about it! As it is, Kensington is one of the few manufacturers who makes a case for the iPad with a lock for end users. Aside from them, I am not aware of any security cases for the iPad that are not meant for Kiosks and Register applications of the iPad… Apple’s design team apparently never takes any of their products out in public? Case Designer: “I got rid of that ugly slot on the side! It was really annoying, and no one knew what it was for!” Apple Exec that approved it: “Good job! That little slot was really annoying us with the extra 30 seconds it took the C&C machine to carve it out!” But whatever, a friend pointed out that Mac laptops are becoming disposable products with the tendency to use glue instead of screws in more products. 

Okay, well I thought I was going to write wild predictions about iOS7 offering to do your laundry at Lundry Locker or being able to point the camera at your eggs and it telling you the exact time to take them off the stove, but I guess I got too serious and just injected my wishes for Apple Products.

One of the gifts I received this year was an AppleTV. I had been wanting one since they came out, but was waiting on 1080P support. I was actually recommending it someone as something to go with the iPads he purchased, and he gave me one as thanks for the recommendation and help with technical support. Airplay Mirroring, for those that do not know, is the ability to show what is on screen on a 2011 or newer iOS device on your television.

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Apple Geniuses are Limited, By Policy 

One thing that always strikes me on each visit to an Apple Genius bar is how little the employees can actually tell a person because of Apple policies. A number of times in the past 6 years, I have considered getting various Apple certifications, but the one thing that always stopped me was the conflict of interest it would cause. With the increased access to the inner workings of the OS and the hardware it runs on top of, there is a significant burden of what one can and cannot say. I have always worried that the best interests of a customer preserving data would go against official policy just to keep a certification. Because of this trade off, I have not pursued any Apple Certifications, even though I could probably have written half of the OS X certification book. (Holding down the option key is a great way to find hidden features…)

I witnessed first-hand a customer being told he would have to wipe his drive if Disk Utility didn’t work to fix his problem. I mentioned that Disk Warrior might be an alternative if the problem was directory corruption. Since the person did not have a backup, I mentioned it. The employee responded that Apple employees are not authorized to even use it. I told him that I could, and pointed to my bag.

Also, unless a person already knows the name of a product that would suit their needs that isn’t on Apple’s roster of approved devices, an Apple employee cannot even mention its name. In another case, months ago, I mentioned needed more than 1TB internally, and an employee hinted there was an alternative. It wasn’t until I told him that I was considering getting a DataDoubler sled and swapping out the optical drive that he could even say anything more.

I do not expect regular in-store support personnel to know much beyond the basic features of devices they sell. A few do know more, but in most cases, Apple Policy makes actually helping people meet their needs more difficult. I have overheard Apple employees not mention how to backup an iOS device manually even though I know it is part of their training. They seem unaware that there are dock extension cables that are iDevice certified. A customer had a question about his iPad not charging, or charging very slowly. He was told to purchase an iPad specific auto adapter, instead of being told to just make sure the 12volt adapter can output 2.1 amps. Another asked a similar question about quick charging an iPhone. Again, the employee that person spoke with neglected to mention hooking the iDevice up to a 2.1A charger to charge it quickly.

In general they do not mention alternatives that would meet a person’s needs simply and easily. The unifying principle behind this is to keep things consistent and simple. But simple does not equal easy, nor does it mean inexpensive. For example, one customer asked a simple question about getting the best sound out of iTunes. The answer was painfully obvious to me, but the customer was not told to rip the CDs in a lossless audio codec.

But this isn’t just Apple. When I had Microsoft Certifications, the agreement a person has to sign in order to receive even one, is to agree, under penalty of law, not to say anything disparaging about Microsoft products. I am not sure if that clause was enforceable, nor if it is still in the certification legalese. I realize that almost none of the certificate wielding professional followed this rule. Still, I always thought signing away your freedom of speech, should not even be legal.

A few months ago, one of the feet on my laptop fell off. I called Apple hoping they could send out a replacement, but AppleCare personnel insisted the foot was attached at the factory, and I couldn’t do my own repair. So, after a few calls, insisting that I have been disassembling laptops for over a decade, I relented and took my machine in for a bottom case swap. At that time there were no other problems with the laptop. When I got the machine back, the next time I used the optical drive, it no longer worked. I had to take it in again and have that swapped.

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Yet another major version release of OS X is out, and I have talked to a few people about it. For the most part, aside from a few “.0” bugs, the response has been pretty positive. I decided to upgrade after I noticed a vast majority of the apps I use regularly released updated Mountain Lion compatible versions within days of its release. Also, there were no reports of data loss (not that I have to worry about that because of the religious fanatic level of backups I have) or any major problems from people that upgraded right away.

My Advice for Upgrading to Mountain Lion: 10.8

So, I followed my own advice previously posted about upgrading. I’ll recap it here. In short:

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