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...
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...
Federighi then demoed AR "Shared Experiences" where two people were playing the same game from their own perspective, and it looks pretty amazing...
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...
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.
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.
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.
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.
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...
Being able to put an Animoji over your head and add stickers live for photos is an interesting spin, however...
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.
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.
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?
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.
"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.
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
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.
I actually use News on my iPhone, so I'm happy that Apple is bringing the app to my desktop.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Where's the ghost of Steve Jobs when you need him?
I love comments! However, all comments are moderated, and won't appear until approved. Are you an abusive troll with nothing to contribute? Don't bother. Selling something? Don't bother. Spam linking? Don't bother.
Please understand that none of what I am about to say is meant to deny your issues at all, just to point out that they may not be widespread.
AppleTV – I haven’t noticed the Apple video sources to be any less reliable than others. Mostly, I don’t have issues with any of them. I do find that Hulu occasionally gets stuck on resume and has to be restarted, and sometimes, Comedy Central doesn’t update with new episodes of The Daily Show without a restart of the app. Oh, I do regularly seem to have trouble connecting to my iTunes movie library, but that’s true from my iOS devices as well. My biggest issue with the AppleTV is that I think there’s something wrong with the HDMI cable that runs through the wall to the TV, as the connection drops out for a few seconds periodically. Sometimes, it goes for days without doing it, and sometimes it does it dozens of times in an hour — or even a half dozen times in a single minute. I’ve assumed that I should replace the cable, but haven’t yet been motivated enough to deal with pulling the TV off the wall and running a new cable.
HomeKit – Pretty close to flawless for me, with the exception of a single Koogeek switch that I’ve given up on. That said, I don’t have any HomeKit-enabled cameras, so I don’t use that aspect. Also, I switched from a Nest to an Ecobee thermostat partly for the HomeKit support, but I find that I never use it via HomeKit as I haven’t found a use case that applies.
BTW, I don’t have any issue accessing MacOS menus from the top pixel. I was able to do so on the built-in display and on both HDMI and DisplayPort external displays. Seems very strange — perhaps there’s some extension you have that’s interfering in some way?
Also, we have the opposite printing problems: The windows systems at my house are typically unable to print to our printer and instead send a PDF to either a Mac or an iOS device to be forwarded to the printer.
As for Apple’s treatment of Pro users, that’s definitely been a mixed bag (at best) for the last half decade. That said, everyone in my admittedly biased podcast subscriptions who has gotten an iMac Pro seems to be very happy with it. Also, the addition of eGPU support is definitely aimed at Pro users.
I still have a 2015 MBP for work, which has been great for my software dev work, having come from a 2010 or 2011 MBP. I have one of the new 13″ TouchBar MBPs for personal use, and I really like it, but I certainly don’t use it heavily. Or even often, as I use my 2011 BTO iMac at home and my iPad or iPhone for much of what I could use the MBP for.
It seems very likely that we will see a MBP refresh sometime this summer, but it might just be a spec bump. There is some evidence that at least they’ll offer a 32GB configuration, the lack of which is the biggest “Pro” complaint I’ve seen about the MBPs (excluding keyboard complaints, which really isn’t a “Pro” issue).
It’s been a while since I spent significant time on a Linux or Windows desktop, but I’ve seen nothing that leads me to consider that I’d be happier there. And that’s ignoring what I’d be giving up in relation to synergy with iOS.
I am rebooting my brand new AppleTV 4K HDR all the time. At least twice a month. It will hang for no reason at all and it drives me insane. And I don’t know what to say about Apple’s inability to get a stream to me. It’s NOT my internet connection. I went from DSL to cable to fiber and it happened on all three of them. I’ll click on a movie and it won’t start or will start and then keep stalling. I’ll immediately try every other streaming service I have to make sure it’s not my internet that’s the problem. It never is. CBS All Access has a crummy app that sometimes screws up, but I can always count on their content to play. Not so much with Apple. Since all you do is plug it in, I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong. It’s not even on WiFi… it’s plugged directly into the router.
If HomeKit works for you, that’s great. But a cursory Google search shows that I was far from the only person who had problems. Since I ditched HomeKit and switched to the Schlage hub, all of my door lock problems… including delays… no status updates… ignored commands… unreachable devices… ALL of my problems went away. Add to that the extremely limited number of devices available… STILL… that will work with HomeKit, and I’m done. I don’t like to say never… but I’ll never buy another HomeKit device.
The issue with the Mac menu bar happens only on my MacBook Pro Retina and my MacBook Air. Hasn’t happened on my iMac Pro Retina yet. I can force a restart, which fixes things temporarily, but until Apple solves it, I keep running into the problem. I don’t know what extension could be causing the problem. I barely run any. And those I do haven’t presented any problems at all.
When I switched from Sierra to High Sierra, printing to my Xerox Phaser broke. Printing anything causes whatever app (including Apple apps) to crash immediately. If I attempt to change any printing parameters, the app will crash IMMEDIATELY. No fix from Xerox, as they say it’s an Apple problem. Apple says that they never have problems and their releases are alway bug-free and perfect, so I guess I must not be clicking on the “print” button the right way.
iMac Pro IS NOT A PRO DEVICE!!! Like all the other iMacs, it’s a CLOSED SYSTEM. Pros need to upgrade graphics cards and add/change hardware to keep up with software changes. How do you do that with an iMac? You can’t. Apple tried to address this with their stupid cylinder, but it was designed to look pretty, not be at all functional as a “pro” machine. And don’t get me started on their stupid “pro” laptops. Remove all the ports? Insanely stupid. Where do I plug in my stupid-expensive FireWire drives that Apple pushed so hard for people to adopt? Oh… get a dongle. And it had better be a dongle that allows me to plug in more than one thing at once WHILE charging my laptop! Otherwise it’s useless to pros. And isn’t that what you want when you travel with a laptop? To have to carry a bunch of additional shit that should have been included in the laptop in the first place? Apple seems to think so. Because it’s all “Hey, look at this pretty touch bar! Never mind that we’ve removed everything pros need and haven’t increased the specs in five years… TOUCH BAR!!!!” Ugh.
I am still with my 2015 MacBook and pray that it will hold together, because there’s no way I’m going to dump all the ports I need to get work done for specs that aren’t much different. Oh… and a Touch Bar I don’t care about.
All Apple has to do is create PRO tools that are ACTUALLY FOR PROS in order to stop the hemorrhaging of pros moving to Windows because Apple gives them no choice. Out of my design group, only 1/4 of us are using Macs now. The rest are all Windows (including a couple who have moved to Surface!). This would have been unheard of just five years ago. But Apple wants to put pretty design over function on “pro” equipment, which leads to their users getting fucked. I’ve read that Apple is actually consulting with pros to find out what they want in a machine… as if it’s a big secret or something. Once I heard that, I KNEW they were lost. Apple doesn’t know what in the hell they are doing. And so… I await the next generation, but am not holding my breath that it will be what I need. If not, I may have no choice but to move to Windows. Absolutely unthinkable for decades, but here we are today.
First, I’m clearly not a “Pro” user as you intend the word, and that’s fine. Further, I realize the folly of telling users what they need, though I will point out that Jobs was notorious for just that. With that caveat, I seriously question the idea that what a Pro user needs is an open system. It just doesn’t seem like the chip performance is increasing fast enough anymore for that to be critical, and their eGPU solution certainly seems like a reasonable solution. Sure, you can argue that internal expansion would be better, but it feels nit-picky, or even nostalgic. There are certainly advantages that come with a closed system, even for Pros.
As for ports, I’m a bit confused about the complaint. Sure, the FireWire story is unfortunate, but the writing was on the wall when they adopted ThunderBolt. And while the dongle situation is certainly inconvenient, it isn’t as bad as all that for the MBPs. The power situation is only a real concern for the single port MacBook and maybe the two-port MacBook Escape. As for “carrying a bunch of additional shit” when traveling, presumably, that’s only necessary if you are also carrying things that you need to connect to your laptop. Yes, it’s an inconvenient transition if you have a bunch of existing non-USB-C devices at a fixed location, but getting a hub for that is something that I know many people already did with previous generations of MBP simply to avoid having to connect and disconnect so many cables. When traveling, I wouldn’t expect so many devices to need to be connected. Yes, the loss of the SD port is annoying, but I simply bought the USB-C SD-card reader and keep it permanently in my laptop bag. I also acquired a USB-C-to-USB-A adapter just in case, though I don’t think I’ve ever used it.
I realize that this reply is even more Apple-apologist than my original comment. Not sure what to say about that. I’m certainly not trying to say that there are no issues, and I’m not at all defending their behavior regarding their Pro software, which has been bizarre at best, and more likely hostile.
Oh, and I like the “idea” of the TouchBar, though the reality falls far short. Of course, even the idea of it is revealed as silly when you consider how much better a touch screen would be (is). It’s certainly not a pro feature, just a pro-priced feature. 🙂
Sorry… I meant Thunderbolt. I think it’s insane that there is no Thunderbolt 2 port. Or HDMI port. Or SD card port. Or ethernet port. Or USB port. You know… the essential ports that professionals need to do their job. As it is now, the MacBook Pro has four ports. One is for charging (NOT Mag-Safe, which is another level if insanity altogether), the others will have me plugging in an HDMI dongle for video, an SD dongle for photos, and a Thunderbolt 2 dongle for my exterior storage. And then I’ll end up having to get a splitter for when I need to use USB devices like my scanner… or get to gigabyte ethernet when working on raw video from a server. Or I throw out all the Apple-forced technology I bought when Apple did their last purge and buy all new equipment. It’s just so outrageously stupid. These are not wacky requirements used by only a few professionals… THIS is what creative professionals are need. And Apple has no product for them. Referring to the current “Mac Book Pro” as pro anything on the port issue alone is more than a little insulting. A casual user having to occasionally plug in a dongle so they can download photos is a world of difference from professionals who have specific work environments that they are tied to every day. I truly hope that Apple is working with actual professionals as they say they are, because ANY of us would rather have an extra couple millimeters of thickness in exchange for “ugly” ports on the side. Having to carry six dongles and a splitter is absurd, but hey… look at the touch bar!
As for the chip-set? A Surface Pro at a similar (or smaller) price point beats out Apple’s best offering. Of biggest consequence is the graphics… a “pro” machine should have top-of-the-line graphics cards to handle intense chores like video editing or large photo editing or 3D rendering. Apple would rather shave off a few millimeters of thickness and an ounce of weight than give us a battery that’s worth a shit and can power the graphics professionals need.
And don’t get me started on the keyboard. While my old MacBook Pro was being serviced, I had a new model 2017 and could barely type on the thing. It horribly uncomfortable and invites errors because the keys barely travel. For 4 days I worked on the machine constantly and could never get accustomed to the keyboard. This is pathetic on Apple’s part seeing as how MacBooks have ALWAYS had the best keyboards money could buy. But now? We get a horrible keyboard because Ivy want’s to shave a millimeter off the depth. Madness. Many professionals have to type all day long… this is what Apple thinks they need?
The ONLY thing I liked in the new MacBook Pro was the trackpad. Everything else is designed to look pretty and service casual users. Not professionals. It’s not, in any sense of the word, a “Pro” laptop.
I still think the cable/dongle issue is well-resolved by a hub, which doesn’t seem like it would be an issue for a professional user. Sure, it’s not a portable solution, but most of the connections you describe aren’t portable scenarios. I do see that Amazon has a USB-C-to-HDMI cable to reduce one dongle, but I couldn’t find any USB-C-to-TB2 cables, so, yes, you’re stuck with a dongle for that.
That being said, I do not currently use a hub with my 2015 MBP, even though I have 5 connection, but that’s only because I don’t take my laptop home daily. If I did, I’m pretty sure I’d have acquired a hub already just for convenience. If and when I next upgrade that laptop, I’ll almost certainly get a USB-C hub immediately.
I yield that the “Pro” moniker on their laptops is really just a stand-in for “Premium” and it would be nice if they offered a laptop that truly targeted the type of user you describe. I do think they’ve done a reasonable job with the iMac Pro, which does include an SD port and an ethernet port. Pairing it with the eGPU support to handle GPU upgrades, and all that’s really missing is CPU upgrades, which may not even matter that much with how much Mojave is moving to the GPU. Of course, if it is a concern that leads to maxing out the configuration, the price gets pretty extreme.
Oh, and regarding the new laptop keyboards, my only issue has been that I really feel like I need to keep my fingernails well trimmed! But for work, I almost always use an external keyboard anyway.
Any chance you’ll be in Denver sometime this summer?
No plans for Denver right now… but you never know! I am dying to get back to Red Rocks for a show!
I dunno, I’m having a hard time getting any enthusiasm behind AR. Maybe there just hasn’t been “the killer app” released yet to make me get why I need this. Seems all a bit solution in search of a problem to me?
And I’m sorry, but I had the exact opposite reaction to the Lego demo. I’m sure they thought it was cool. As a parent I want my kids to spend *less* time staring at a screen. Focus on the R and a little less on the AR. I can’t imagine a situation where I’d be happier with them walking around the house with an iPad in front of their face instead of playing with *actual* Lego.
Ever since I was in the Australian outback with a stargazing AR app that was labeling the stars as I looked at them… then all of a sudden the app pointed out the International Space Station cruising overhead, I have been fully 100% onboard with AR. The possibilities are just so limitless. Holding up your phone to signs in a foreign language and getting an automatic translation overlaid? Amazing. Visiting a town and seeing an AR construct of what it looked like 100 years ago as you’re walking through it? Amazing. Getting kids to go outside and run around hunting for Pokemon in the Real World rather than sitting in front of a video game? Amazing. It’s all just so amazing, and we’ve barely scratched the surface! I cannot WAIT for AR to come to car windshields! As for LEGO… I think the fun of building something with physical bricks then watching it come to life in AR is fantastic for kids BECAUSE it encourages them to do something in the Real World rather than entirely within a video game like the way things are headed now. I see this as a benefit for making “old fashioned” toys new again so modern kids will still want to get their hands on something and enjoy it in a new way.
I’m glad you think it’s aces! I’ll still be steering the kids to less holding screen in front of face, more real life things. But different strokes for different folks. I’ll still keep an eye out for a killer app mind in case it does become more than novelty meh.