Posted on September 22nd, 2023
Today I was much like a kid at Christmas given that my new Apple Watch Series 9 and iPhone 15 Pro Max arrived. It happened the morning I was hanging out with my friends, so I was anticipating the transfer from my old phone to be shit-butt city as we went bar-hopping and I was climbing on and off Wi-Fi all afternoon.
Turns out I had nothing to worry about. Unlike last year when I upgraded to the iPhone 14 Pro Max, everything went off without a hitch. Well, almost. There's one teeny tiny problem that's giving me fits, but I'll get to that.
As I mentioned during the keynote, I had zero intention of upgrading my Apple Watch Series 6. There just doesn't seem to be anything worth upgrading for. Well, except having a new battery, since the one in my old watch would no longer last the day if I had the always-on display set to "on." Still. With the display off except for tap-to-wake, I easily made it through the day and it did everything I needed it to do.
What tipped the scales for me was the fact that Series 9 does most all Siri processing locally. Which means that simple requests aren't passing through the cellular radio on my iPhone for a round trip that causes a noticeable delay. And, sure enough, the Apple Watch is really quick with Siri requests, which makes the price of admission worth it for me (once you factor in the $115 that Apple will give me to trade in my old one).
But it turns out this isn't the best part of upgrading.
The display is not just brighter... it's bigger!
It's five o'clock somewhere...
I have to get the little watch since, as you can see, my arms are so thin. The Series 6 is 40mm. The Series 9 (in red) is 41mm. But there's also the fact that the display goes out further to the edges. Everything looks bigger. Very nice.
The double-finger-tap control works as advertised. Everything is very zippy. Fast and smooth. Overall, a good upgrade from where I was. I dunno if this is a worthy upgrade if you've got a Series 8, but for me it was a good choice.
I gave serious consideration to skipping an upgrade for a year so I could own my iPhone 14 Pro Max outright. But ultimately I figured one of the benefits of being in the Apple Upgrade Program is getting the latest and greatest, so I caved. Mostly because I use it more as a camera than a phone and the 5× optical zoom lens plus claims of better night photos swayed me. Along with the fact that iPhones hold their value well... but not so great that I'm leaving loads of money on the table from what I can tell looking at the 13 Pro Max used market.
Camera aside, I honestly don't notice a big difference with the 15. Sure it's a touch lighter, but all the things I like are mostly the same and the one thing I hate (Apple's silicone cases do not stay attached like they used to) is also the same. It's fast. It's capable. It runs all my apps very well. The end. Maybe I'll buy a game that has ray-tracing to see how that looks. Stunning, I'm sure.
Setup was far, far better than the past two years. Pairing my new Apple Watch was seamless. Everything copied over just fine. The only problem I have is that my phone app shows a red badge notification with a "1" in it... even though there's no fucking notifications when I look everywhere in the app. I've restarted three times and shut it down once. No joy. I finally just turned off badge notifications. Hopefully Apple will fix this shit one of these days. UPDATE: Turned off my iPhone for 20 full minutes then restarted. That did the trick.
Other than that, my complaints are A) They don't have a (Product)RED silicone case for it... B) The new Action Button is a cool thing, but it's WAY up on the side, so it's only hand if you're holding your phone horizontally... and you can't customize it for double-click or triple-click, and... C) The blue that I got is pretty much black with a blue cast... in the right light. And it's like... what's the fucking point? You've already got a black phone. So why not make a bright red (Product)RED phone or something that will truly look bold and different? Why do Pro users always get fucked with these boring-ass "premium" color choices? Of course, I'll take these over the fucking PASTELS that the regular iPhone 15's got. Because yikes. Those look like total shit. Maybe I should have gone with Raw Titanium color to have something different? Meh. It doesn't bother me that much. It's just disappointing.
Lastly there's USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 which will allow you to transfer much, much faster than Lightning (480 megabytes per second vs. 10 gigabytes per second). If you've got the right cable. And it's about fucking time. Jesus. Apple puts these massive sensors in their cameras and allow shooting RAW, but it takes an eternity to get them off of it because the resulting files are huge. I didn't even bother to shoot RAW, because it can take days to get them all in your computer to actually work on them. I've got USB-C 3.2 cables, so maybe now I will. Thank you to the EU for mandating USB-C on all phones... otherwise Apple would probably stick with obsolete Lightning ports for years longer. The one thing I don't understand it why they didn't just go with Thunderbolt4 (100Gps) compatibility to really make it worthwhile. Guess they're saving that to get you to upgrade in the future? In any event, you can record ProRes 4K 60Hz video directly to an external SSD now, which is pretty special.
First a caveat on that spiffy new 5× lens. It needs good light to function. If you don't got that, it switches back to you main camera. This did not happen with the 3× lens on my old camera. At least not that I recall. This is a pretty big downgrade, if you ask me. It may very well be a deal breaker for some people who would rather have a 3× lens with more flexibility. As for me? I'm greedy. I wish we would have gotten both. Add a fourth lens on the Pro Max to get the best of both worlds! Or, ideally, give us a 3× and a 10×. UPDATE: If you want to force the camera to use the 5× lens in low light, some third party camera apps (like Halide) will let you.
That being said, when you've got some light it's very nice. This was shot in a bar with not great lighting, but look how good it turned out at 5×! Very sharp and the color is beautiful, despite the fact that we're very clearly entering HDR "Deep Fusion" territory here...
That's pretty impressive... but the main lens really looks great...
Interesting that Apple now calls the "Main Camera" the "Wide Camera" and the "Wide Camera the Ultra Wide Camera. Note that the "Wide Camera" has a goodly number of pixels more than the previous generation (but with bigger files, natch)...
Now... I have only had the camera for a tiny amount of time. I will obviously be taking more photos and a closer look at the features and quality sometime soon (especially when it comes to being able to change the focal point after the fact... because in playing around with it, this is a very cool feature). And of course I'll want to look at how well it shoots ProRes video (especially its ability to shoot LOG video that can be color graded easily and pushed in directions you can't get easily otherwise).
But last thing I want to say before I go is how Apple's claim that the new camera has "seven lenses" is not quite the bullshit it seems given that there's only three lenses on the back. The main lens allows you to use "virtual lenses" that crop into the data with common focal lengths (24mm, 28mm, and 35mm). But you still end up with 5712×4284 images, which means that Apple is upscaling or doing some kind of magic to get there. And the result is very good. I did the same thing in Photoshop to compare, and Apple's method always comes out on top. Which means that they must have specialized computational photography routines to come much closer than a mere crop.
Ultimately I don't know that going for the upgrade was the best choice for me. I likely could have gotten along with the 14 Pro Max for another year without issue. But as somebody who likes any improvement Apple will give me on the cameras, the 15 Pro Max will likely make me happier overall.
Until next year.
Posted on June 21st, 2023
When you assign a Memoji to your Apple profile, it propagates everywhere across all your Apple stuff. It's even on my computers now, and I notice that if you don't touch it for a while your Memoji falls asleep...
Which is not a good thing, because it just makes me want to take a nap.
Posted on June 5th, 2023
Another year, another Apple World Wide Developer Conference. Guess we're doing this...
• TIM! Every time I see Tim Cook, I wish he was more of an asshole. He's just so nice. But somebody in his position really needs to be at least a little bit of an asshole so that broken shit GETS THE FUCK FIXED! See: Steve Jobs.
• MacBook Air 15-Inch! This looks like an amazing computer for the price. Capable. Powerful. Beautiful (especially that dark blue one). I need a MacBook Pro for the work I do... but, if I didn't, this would be my laptop of choice.
• Mac Studio! The Mac Studio M1 Ultra I hsve at work is the best Mac I've ever used. It's nice that they are committed to keeping it moving forward. The performance jump of the M2 Ultra is nice, but not big enough to make me jealous.
• Mac Pro! After it was announced, people were freaking out over the $7,000 price tag. Yeah, this Mac isn't for you. It's for people who need the raw power and PCI expansion it has. And, if these same people took two seconds to compare it to the old Mac Pro... you're getting a far, far more powerful machine for way less. Because the old Intel-based Mac Pro was insanely expensive. I saw an article which had the headline Maxed-out Apple Silicon Mac Pro costs 1/4 what a maxed Intel one did. And so... yeah... for people who need this, it's actually quite the bargain.
• iOS 17! I'm not going to run through all the features since there are plenty of sites happy to do this... but I will make a few comments here. ONE) The Live Voicemail is so nice because I don't EVER want to pick up. Now I can see if it's actually necessary for me to do so (the live message typing out about the family of raccoons in the basement while Craig is talking is hilarious). TWO) I don't give a fuck about the new Messages features... I JUST WANT IT FUCKING FIXED! HOLY FUCKING SHIT!* THREE) The Check-In feature is nice. So many times it would be nice that somebody I'm meeting can see what's happening as I make my way to them. FOUR) Okay, the Live Stickers are unnecessary, but awesome. FIVE) Yeah, AirDrop... right... DON'T ADD FEATURES, JUST FIX THE SHIT THAT'S BROKEN FIRST! I can't use AirDrop between my phone and my work Mac... or my MacBook Pro and my work Mac. I have even gone so far as to start over from scratch, but no joy. WHY?!?? FUCK!!! SIX) Oh joy. Apple will FINALLY STOP FUCKING AUTOCORRECTING WHEN I SAY "FUCK!!" So damn annoying. Your fucking phone shouldn't be gatekeeping how you express yourself and fuck Apple for screwing us over for so long. Craig being "so ducking cute" about it is rage-inducing.
• iPad OS 17! I really need to use my iPad more. I absolutely love the way it works, but my go-to device it my MacBook Pro. It's just easier to bounce in and out of work. ONE) Wallpapers and widgets are great, but Craig is going to be in hot water with the flat earthed crowd by showing a GLOBE EARTH (As an aside: there are very, very few people who can get away with saying "that's cool." Craig Federighi is one of them. He is cool). TWO) PDFs are a great thing, but a mess to deal with. Looking at the great advancements the iPad is getting to deal with them feels like this is how they should have been used all along. Very nice.
• macOS Sonoma! It seems weird to me that macOS just isn't advancing as it should. Where is the next revolution in desktop computing? The (needed) return of widgets, game mode, and this other shit are nice and all, but this is getting ridiculous. File handling? Sharing? FIXING THE FUCKING PILE OF SHIT KNOWN AS "APPLE MAIL"? Why are we still waiting? ONE) I wonder how many people can actually appreciate what a coup it is to have Hideo Kojima appear at your event? "Legendary" is completely underselling him. TWO) Video Conferencing is a huge part of my life. These new features while "fun" are actually kind of important to communication (especially when you are communicating in a language that's not native to either you or them). THREE) Passkeys are nice (anything which moves away from typing passwords is very nice), but they have so far to go yet. They don't work some of the time, and it's frustrating how many times I am repeatedly having to enter my account info over and over. FIX YOUR SHIT, APPLE!! FOUR) These new Profiles in Safari are a game changer for people who work while off work. Separating my work and private life are important, and every little bit helps.
• METAL CRAIG (audio and home)! I was sincerely hoping for an update to AirPods Pro with a price drop. No such luck. Though the adaptive audio is pretty darn cool. ONE) AirPlay in Hotels would have been fantastic... when I was traveling (assuming it worked in the hotels I frequent), but now? Meh. TWO) Jesus. TV OS is still isn't addressing what a steaming pile of shit that navigation is to deal with? I fucking hate having to slowly scroll through shitloads of media because there's no alphabet jump menu available... LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE HAS BEEN USING FOREVER! WHAT THE FUCK?!?
• WatchOS! I have an Apple Watch
• Apple Vision Pro! And heeeeere it is. The main event. ONE) All the AR/VR headsets to date have been shit (remember "Google Glass?"). Apple, being Apple, seems to have come up with something far more compelling. If it truly does work as advertised, this is a massive game changer. TWO) The interface is brilliantly realized. They reeeeeally put the time in to make sure that it's intuitive and easy. Once you get used to it, I have no doubt it will be as intuitive as any other device we're wed to. The depth and shadows must have been really tough to nail down. THREE) The minimal gestures required to interact with Vision Pro actually works better than the science fiction projected. Nice. FOUR) Look, these will never not look weird when worn, but I appreciate that Apple is doing to make it as less weird as possible. FIVE) Being able to bring your Mac into your AR/VR "world" is pretty amazing... but feels like it would be headache-inducing. Maybe once you get used to it, things would seem second-nature, but I wonder what the learning curve is to get there. SIX) WAIT A SECOND... people on FaceTime calls appear on tiles to you, but what do you look like to them? SEVEN) OKAY, THAT PANORAMA MODE IS FRICKIN' AMAZING! EIGHT) Boy, porn filmed in 3D, then displayed on Vision Pro in spatial video is going to be the real game changer experience! NINE) Now, see, this is what I'm really excited about. Having a 100-foot movie screen in your living room with no distractions! Sweet! And how many times have I dreamed about sitting on a plane and not having to experience being on a plane! TEN) Boy... gaming was really light in this presentation. Given how that's the cornerstone to so many of these things, that's weird. ELEVEN) Bob Iger appearing here for Disney has me thinking about how hilariously ridiculous it would have been to have Bob Chapek doing this. But anyway... Disney producing content for Vision Pro is about as big an endorsement as you could hope for. And what they're presenting seems as good a reason to buy into VR/AR than anything. TWELVE) The design of this thing makes every other VR/AR headset look like it's positively ancient. The new Quest 3 just announced by Meta looks like absolute dog shit by comparison. Though it will likely be affordable. I probably won't even be able to afford the corrective lenses I'd need to buy to even use Vision Pro. THIRTEEN) These don't debut until next year and it will feature the M2 and not the M3 chip? Yikes. Big yikes. FOURTEEN) And that's what's so weird. The unit is not transparent. The thing it 1000% opaque. But it fakes it by displaying your eyes on the face of it that people are looking at. SO WEIRD. FIFTEEN) Ah, in answer to my earlier question, what people see when chatting to you is an avatar ("digital persona") that's computer-generated. This will either be good enough... or slip right down the uncanny valley and look scary-awful. Probably somewhere in-between? SIXTEEN) I'll bet Zuckerberg and Meta, who failed spectacularly with their "MetaVerse," is shitting their pants after wasting billions of dollars and getting nowhere even close to what Apple has done. SEVENTEEN) TouchID -> FaceID -> OpticID. EIGHTEEN) At least Apple put some thought into the privacy of these things. Which is smart. By allowing people to know where you're looking while looking at them, you've opened a huge can of worms. Apple neatly sidesteps this. NINETEEN) Given how much this thing is going to cost, Apple's smartly leaning into all the hardware it will replace. Smart. TWENTY) THREE THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS?!?? BWAH HA HA HAAAAAA! Now, look, I get it. I know how it works. They have an absurd price tag to start, but eventually as they optimize manufacturing and such, the price falls. But starting THIS high is pretty disgusting. Who the fuck can afford to spend THREE THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS on a VR/AR headset? Even one this good and feature-packed? Do I want one? Oh hell yeah. Will I buy one? WITH WHAT?!? Maybe if I can sell my organs or something. And yet, the allure of being able to escape from this shitty reality into something better does seem like it would be worth the fortune it casts to do so. I just wish it didn't have a big ol' cord dangling off of it for the battery... and the fact that you only get TWO MEASLY HOURS OF RUNTIME PER CHARGE? Wow. Hope you only take short flights!
And that's the end of WWDC 23. I've never felt so poor!
*Seriously. The fact that Messages regularly reports I have new messages when I don't (I'm guessing this is a flaw in syncing between devices) is absolutely infuriating. Quitting and restarting Messages doesn't fix it. YOU HAVE TO RESTART YOUR COMPUTER?!? WHAT THE FUCK?!??
Posted on May 2nd, 2023
Look, I know that I'm droning on about top-tier First World Problems, but it's infuriating just how bad things are getting with Apple and their bullshit.
I am perfectly willing to accept the blame when the fault is mine. A few days ago it was overcast and raining that day. All of a sudden all my lights came on. It took me a second to realize that when I wrote the automation which monitors light levels and turns on lights when it gets dark was fooled by the overcast weather. My bad. I should have included a time range so lights aren't turning on in the middle of the day.
That I can deal with because I can (probably) fix it.
What I cannot fix is the idiotic crap that pops up every damn day.
Like coming home and telling Siri on my Apple Watch to unlock the front door. Something I've done hundreds of times before. Only to get this...
No reason. It just happened out of the blue. And when I go to the Home app on my iPhone? No problem. The front door is unlocked post-haste.
The other day I was writing an email in a language I'm not terribly comfortable with and decided to ask Siri if the word I was using means what I thought it did. Siri didn't understand. So I thought... let's try a more popular foreign language here in the USA...
ME: "Hey Siri, what does the word 'mañana' mean in Spanish?"
SIRI: "In Spanish, mañana means" =insert pause= "mañana!"
AND SIRI SAID THE SECOND MAÑANA IN A SPANISH ACCENT!! Thanks a fucking heap. Remember last week when I was talking about how Apple is losing the AI digital assistant battle badly? This is exactly what I'm talking about.
But even something like that is not going to send me into a ballistic rage where I want to rip my little HomePod orb out of the wall and chuck it out the window. No, that's reserved for stupid, inexplicable bullshit that has absolutely nothing to do with what Apple should be promising... but instead what they have actually been promising!
Like telling Siri to play a song I want to listen to. Have Siri tell me the song will play. Then have Siri tell me there's a problem with Apple Music. WHAT THE FUCK?!? I'm trying to listen to an Apple Service on an Apple Product. There's no disconnect here. And the solution I get from Apple Support Knowledgebase? Remove the HomePod from HomeKit. Reset it. Then reinstall it. Do you know what happens when I do that? THIS RIGHT HERE...
What a friendly error message! What the fuck does (300208) even mean? I tried three times. The fucker will not add back to HomeKit. And the KnowledgeBase isn't helping. I've wasted fucking hours of my life on this shit. So now I have a dead HomePod and I will have to try and get support out of Apple, whose support is so fucking shitty now-a-days that I am almost to the point where I want to throw this one away and get a new one.
For months the internet has been abuzz about how Apple is at the forefront of eliminating passwords forever so we can use biometric data (like a retinal scan or a fingerprint) to unlock our lives for us. Even when the story is about Google following Apple's lead! Which is so fucking laughable because Apple can't even get rid of passwords in their own fucking ecosystem! This is what I got when I went to remove my HomePod mini from my HomeKit so I could re-add it...
Apple asks me for my password ALL THE FUCKING TIME! And if Apple can't even get their shit to work for themselves, then what hope do they have trying to bring others along? Passkey barely works (when it works at all) on many sites which try to implement it (like this blog!).
This has disaster written all over it.
"Hey Siri! I can't breathe and I think I'm having a heart attack! Call 9-1-1!"
"Playing the song 'Every Breath You Take' on Apple Music." =insert pause= "Apple Music is not responding."
We're fucking doomed.
Posted on April 27th, 2023
And the critics aren't wrong. Siri hasn't gotten much smarter in years. Maybe a decade. Marry this to the absolute fucking travesty that is
HomeShit HomeKit (which is largely controlled by Siri) and Apple has fallen so far behind the curve that they can't even see the curve. It's all flat to them.
And, as I always do, I am going to blame this totally on Apple CEO Tim Cook. Apple needs a complete and total bastard like Steve Jobs in charge, and Cook isn't even close. Jobs was a ruthless taskmaster who obsessed over user experience and made absolutely sure that bugs got squashed and Apple was constantly moving forward. Cook seems to content to coast right off the racetrack and get lost in the woods.
Nope. Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and everybody else is jumping on the AI bandwagon to make smart assistants... um... smart... and Apple, as usual, doesn't give a fucking shit. They do whatever the hell they want whether it benefits their customers or not... whether their customers want it or not... whether it makes sense or not.
I fucking hate it, but what's the alternative?
Look, I am not expecting the world here. I don't necessarily want (or need) for Siri to be as smart as HAL 9000 or the computer on Star Trek or whatever. But I would like it to actually fucking work for the things it advertises it can do. But I've lost track of the number of times it fails with even the simplest request... like playing a song I ask it to play. And not from some third party service... from Apple Music! It's like, that's the ultimate softball request. Play a song from a service YOU control. And yet... well... good luck with that.
More than a few pundits are saying that Apple's complete lack of interest in making Siri competetive could ultimately sink the company. This could be hyperbole. But it's not outside the realm of possibility that it's dead-on accurate. When everybody else allows you to have a smart assistant that's actually keeping up with the times and, you know, useful... when Apple is still banging rocks together, how can they possibly survive?
Posted on April 23rd, 2023
The weather can't make up its mind lately, but I'm not letting grey skies ruin my weekend... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Ghosty Mc Ghost Ghost! I was SO looking forward to Ghosted on Netflix. The film didn't disappoint. Ana de Armas is frickin amazing... and the fact that Chris Evans could play absolutely ANYTHING he wants, but chooses to play the damsel in distress in this movie just makes me love him all the more (he had already completely changed my mind about his career trajectory with Gifted, which I also loved)...
This is a great action flick, and the performances are everything you'd hope they'd be given how outrageous the story is. There's also some notable cameos to watch out for, if you're interested in giving it a shot.
• Mrs. Davis Loves You! There's a new show on Peacock called Mrs. Davis. I'm loving it, but am having a hardtime putting into words why I'm loving it. Maybe the trailer will help?
Jake McDorman (from Limitless) is in it, which doesn't hurt. Also in the series? A very cool edition of Bristish Knights shoes...
Alas, you can't actually buy these, which seems like a hugely missed opportunity.
• Edna! Comedian Barry Humphries died this past week. He is most known for playing a character which I obsessed over for the longest time...
In one of those sublime ironies, Humphries grew famous for a drag performance, but was a noted transphobe. I always looked at him differently after that. Fortunately most of the time I knew of Dame Edna was well before he outed himself as a bigot. But still...
• S'more! I won't go so far as to say that I hated The Menu... but I came very close. It was a film based on manipulation and shock value which had no value. At least not to me. It also dragged on to the point of tedium once the plot had been revealed. This was a painful conclusion for me to draw, because I loved the cast and the performances were amazing. THAT BEING SAID... the end game was brilliant. From Anya Taylor-Joy's little monologue to Ralph Fiennes's response to Anya's last request to the final shot of the film. It's flawless and haunting. I have fast-forwarded the movie to the end to watch it at least six times. Including just now today...
It makes me want to re-cut the movie down to a 15-20 minute short which is nothing but that which could have been a great flick.
• Pricey Taco! I swear before the pandemic that I was able to walk into Taco Bell and get my usual Two Chalupa Supremes (substitute rice for beef), a side of Fiesta Potatoes, and a bottle of water for under $10. But now? SEVENTEEN FIFTY-SEVEN?!??
WTF?!? And what's worse? NOBODY TAKES YOUR ORDER! YOU HAVE TO INPUT IT YOURSELF ON A BACTERIA-RIDDLED TOUCH-SCREEN! Good thing I travel with hand sanitizer!
• Hey Siri! The fact that Siri has become so fucking useless for home automation shouldn't really surprise me, but it totally does. Lately when I ask Siri to play a song, all I get is "There's a problem with Apple Music." Ask to unlock the door... The front door is not responding (though I can unlock through the app just fine). Even turning on a frickin' light is hit-or-miss. And when you call Apple they don't know shit. About a music service I PAY them for. And HomeKit has always been useless, so I don't even bother to try and get support for that. And so... no idea what I'm going to do. Amazon and Google are pulling resources from their digital assistants, so I don't know if they'll even be around to switch to. Thank heavens I made sure that all my new devices are Matter compatible. Maybe some enterprising company (or individual) will come up with a localized voice assistant for Matter that I can buy to run locally. Then I get a small computer and some kind of Matter-compatible microphones and call it a day. Why is it that companies have failed so miserably with a technology that's supposed to be our future? It started out so promising... now this.
• Taters! I bought a bag of luxury potatoes because I wanted to make potato salad this weekend. But when it came time to do it tonight... I looked at the bag... and thought "ZOMG! I WANT CRISPY-FRIED SPICY POTATOES FOR DINNERRRRR!!" I love them, but they take SO long to make properly. You have to cook them on low under a cover to get them softened. Then you have to add oil and fry at a higher temperature. Then you have to keep micro-dosing oil on them and turning not too early and not too long so they brown up nicely. Then you have to taste continuously so you can add just the right amount of freshly-ground black pepper, salt, harissa spice, cayenne, and Central Street blend. BUT OH SO WORTH IT! So crispy! So spicy! So hot!
Most restaurants won't put in the time and effort. But I'm patient and have very good flipping skills with a skillet.
Now it's time to eat those beautiful taters.
Posted on April 3rd, 2023
The point of this post is in the title... AppleTV is shit. But it's the best shit you can buy for streaming.
I'm not going to run through my many complaints. If you've read this blog for any amount of time, you've probably already heard it all. If you haven't heard it? The GUI (graphic user interface) is fucking horrendous. If you own more than twenty movies or television shows, scrolling through all of them is a nightmare. Apple provides no alphabetical index on the side so you can at least jump to the first letter of the title you're looking for. It's fucking stupid.
Since the quality of the picture is so radically better when viewed through the AppleTV device instead of the GoogleTV app for AppleTV, I decided to ditch my AppleTV 4K (2017 Revision 1) for the newer AppleTV 4K (2022 Revision 3). And because I want to be sure that I get the smoothest possible playback, I purchased the "better" version which has Ethernet and 128GB.
The difference between Rev. 1 and Rev. 3 are slight at the start. Both support 4K DolbyVision HDR10 UHD playback. Both support Dolby Atmos. You have to pay extra for Ethernet now, but my Rev. 1 had Ethernet as standard. But then there's the improvements which really count... my old AppleTV was a slow mess with its A10X chip. It's radically snappier with the new A15 Bionic chip. I'm also working with the 128GB vs. the 32GB I used to have. And then there's the fact that Apple finally future-proofed their tech by using the HDMI 2.1 standard instead of the old 2.0. I am using Ethernet instead of WiFi, but if I were to use wireless, the new model comes with WiFi 6. The new one is also smaller and feels lighter than the old one too. As if all that wasn't enough, it contains a Thread mesh networking radio to become a border router for your HomeKit shenanigans and Matter Smart Home devices.
But the most welcome change? The controller...
Apple ditched their shitty fucking touchpad controller for a new controller that has a good heft and actual directional buttons. Which means that navigation doesn't randomly jump all over the place like it used to. I have no idea why it took them this long to replace that technology FAIL. But look how long it took them to replace their heinously shitty "butterfly keyboard" on their laptops. And... oh yeah... you can charge with USB-C instead of the ten-year-old Lightning connector that nobody else in the industry is using. Yay. Alas no charging indicator... you have to look up the battery level on your AppleTV.
The navigation buttons surround a select button to form a "clickpad" that's also touch-enabled, which is very cool for whizzing through video. You also have a dedicated power button(!) and a mute button(!). It almost as if Apple is listening to what their customers want! Color me shocked. Regardless of why they did it, Apple has gone from my most hated remote ever to my favorite remote ever.
I dare say that the remote upgrade is reason enough to upgrade. Mostly because I am actually using it instead of avoiding it and using a 3rd party remote.
When compared to Amazon FireTV, Google Chromecast, and Roku, AppleTV is way ahead (except for the navigation GUI, which is still the absolute worst). The only competitor they have in this space is probably the NVIDIA Shield, which offers more flexibility and connectivity, but looks like absolute ass. I borrowed one from a friend who tested it and ended up preferring it to my old AppleTV, but not the new AppleTV Rev. 3.
So... yeah... my home theater setup is now complete.
Over the next couple of days I'll be talking about the DolbyVision and Dolby Atmos that I'm getting through my AppleTV box. If that's not for you... then I guess I'll see you on Thursday!
Posted on February 20th, 2023
Apple is one of the wealthiest companies on the face of the earth. So is it really too much to expect that they fix their stupid home automation bullshit? After my fifth reboot of my router and all my HomePod minis because my automations randomly stopped working... again... I ordered a bunch of cheap NON-HOMEKIT smart-plugs. This way instead of having to run around my house and move all my furniture when I'm forced to reboot, I can just use the Gosund app to reboot them all from the comfort of my couch...
I find it absolutely embarrassing that Apple can't seem to get their shit to actually work. They released HomeKit EIGHT FUCKING YEARS AGO! Eight years and they're still fumbling around in the dark. Just like I am when the automation to turn on my garage light doesn't work... again.
I cannot fathom how Apple isn't embarrassed as fuck that they have unleashed a shitty technology and haven't been able to get it working reliably for eight years. If I were Apple CEO Tim Cook, I'd dedicate however much money it takes to FIGURE THIS SHIT OUT so that HomeKit customers don't have to spend $40 on smart plugs from another manufacturer just to keep their crap operational. Anything less make him look like fucking amateur hour.
And while he's at it... maybe he could have them fix Apple Mail so that deleted messages actually delete instead of randomly go blank buck stick around until you quit and restart the app? Not everybody buys into HomeShit, but most of their customers are using the mail app that came with their computer!
And, oh yeah, happy fucking Presidents' Day.
Posted on February 10th, 2023
It's that time of year when Six Colors has released their annual report card on all things Apple.
Their report card is calculated by talking to a lot of people. Mine is calculated based only on my own experience. In many ways I agree with their assessment. In others I disagree strongly (they gave HomeKit a D+, which I thought was incredibly generous given the shitshow it is).
But anyway... here we go...
Apple must be doing something right, because their latest round of MacBook Pros were sweet enough to convince me to upgrade after only one year (thanks to their trade-in problem, which is not great, but so easy and better than nothing). For most things... like email and web browsing and the like... there is virtually no difference with the new M2 MAX chip. But for the actual work I do? 15% to 20% faster is absolutely worth it. Less time waiting on renders and stuff gives me more time to do other stuff. I was a bit surprised that the iMac is still stuck at 24" and the M1 chip... and there's still no MacPro, which is getting increasingly embarrassing... but I am fairly certain all that is forthcoming with the advent of Apple's new 3nm chips, coming soon to a computer near you. Though it's kinda a bizarre flex for a desktop machine when the true miracle of dropping to 3nm is the power savings, so I'm guessing it must have one heck of a performance bump. 2022 was pretty much a stop-gap year to the Next Big Thing, and how 2023 pans out will largely depend on just how big that Next Big Thing ends up being.
If I wasn't on the Apple iPhone Upgrade Program track, I would have likely skipped the iPhone 14 Pro. It just wasn't much more significant than the 13 Pro it replaced. All the improvements were mediocre and far from sexy, which is a real head-scratcher. Maybe now that we're in 2023 Apple has something more spectacular planned... a better camera would be a great start... but I have to wonder if there's nothing but low-hanging fruit from here out. I'd like to think that the "Dynamic Island" isn't the pinnacle of iPhone innovation, but it's really starting to feel that way. If I were still with my iPhone 12 Pro, I'd likely be none-the-wiser, and that's a very bad sign for Apple. Still, their phones are really nice (and still my favorite), so grading them lower than a B seems criminal.
I love my iPad Pro, but there has been zero reason to upgrade it after three years. There's nothing going on with iPad, which is a shame, but it's still the best tablet on the market by a country mile. And, as Apple-savvy as I am, I have no fucking clue which accessories work with which model, which is an absolute disaster for a company that bills itself as the easiest and most user-friendly option.
Apple Watch: B
Another product that just doesn't seem to be going anwhere... no revolutionary new features or ideas here. At least with the base model. A very notable exception is the Apple Watch Ultra, which is amazing on every level and bumps my grade from a C to a B. Problem is that it's very narrow in focus, as big as a Buick, and has a limited audience. And yet for those who need it, the thing is a game-changer. I am still waiting for a blood glucose monitor before I upgrade again. My 3-year-old Apple Watch is just fine. Even then, my "ancient" tech is still far more appealing to me than the newest of the new when it comes to other brands.
Holy shit. What the fuck is it going to take before Apple gives us a user interface that's worth a shit? I just raged about this fairly recently, and if I start in again I may not be able to stop. Just about every other TV interface on the market that I've seen is better than this crap, and the fact that Apple does nothing about it just means I'm not investing in any more of their bullshit. I don't care how good the remote is.
I am so meh on everything Apple is doing in the Services arena that I am finding it difficult to even comment. It's all still too expensive for what you get. The plans don't have enough options so that people can get exactly what they need, so they are either paying for more or less than what they would otherwise like. Apple TV+ is okay, but I don't watch enough on it to really care (until Ted Lasso returns). I don't give a crap about the fitness stuff. I switched to Apple Music when I dumped Amazon Prime, but it's not that different and costs more than what I was paying, so I honestly don't care. I don't have time to play their games. I know Apple is making a metric shit-ton of money off Services... I wish I could say they earned it. Right now their bundles aren't worth it to me, so I am paying for iCloud Drive, AppleTV, Apple Music, and iTunes Match all separately. In order to get an Apple One bundle, I'd still have to purchase an iCloud Drive upgrade because what comes with it isn't enough. Let me build my own bundle with a calculated discount and I'd likely upgrade my score to a B. That's for flexibility, not value.
I jumped to HomeKit when Insteon folded the first time. This involved a lot of expense on my part, as most all my switches and devices had to be changed out. And what did I get for my money? A horrendously fucked up system that barely works. And it just keeps getting worse. All of a sudden half my shit will just up and stop working. HomePods will refuse to issue commands. I've woken up to find that my garage door mysteriously opened at 2am for no reason. And despite everything running on the super-speedy Thread technology now, Automations are slow as shit... when they bother to work at all! At the rate that I've had to unplug and plug back in my HomePod minis in an attempt to get things working again, you'd sure as hell think that Apple would make a plug on the mini itself so I don't have to go moving the fucking furniture every time I need to unplug to reset my network. HomeKit is HomeShit more than ever, and there's no end in sight. Just more "architecture upgrades" to slap lipstick on a pig. Fortunately most of my devices are Matter compatible, so I'll be looking into going that route. Hopefully it will allow me to use Siri since Apple is in with Matter, but things will actually work once I transfer.
Hardware Reliability: A-
Software issues and OS stupidity aside, the hardware is always on-point. Although I am dropping them from an A to A- because of the afore-mentioned wired plug on the HomePod mini. Now that the MacBook Pros offer an SD card slot and an HDMI port instead of forcing me to use dongles, I'm thrilled (a
Software Quality C+
Even with HomeKit removed from the equation, I still have numerous problems with the way Apple software functions (or doesn't function as the case may be). Apple Mail is a fucking travesty and one of the biggest piece of shit apps I have ever used. And Apple doesn't give a fuck. Features I use are stripped out of their software for no reason other than they want it that way. Bugs are rampant and pop up in the strangest places. It's almost as if nobody at Apple is using their own apps, because the same bugs never seem to go away. One day maybe Apple will start giving a shit. Until then? Still the best option, faults and all.
Developer Relations N/A
As I am not currently in the Apple Developer Program, I don't really have room to comment. Except to say that the World Wide Developer Conference always seems like a fantastic step in keeping things right with those developers on their platform. As a consumer, however, I can say that their App Store is a pile of shit. Which is a mystery because they get a cut of every sale. You'd think they would want it to be a top-tier experience. But instead apps you are looking for are hard to find, update options are weird, AND THERE'S NO FUCKING WAY TO FIND ONLY GAMES THAT DON'T REQUIRE IN-APP PURCHASES! And speaking of in-app purchases... maybe they wouldn't be as annoying if they weren't so damn expensive, but since Apple takes such a huge, huge cut of the money, expensive they will remain. This is such a problem that it's entirely likely Apple will be forced to allow customers to "side-load" apps and bypass the App Store. This would be a disaster because affordable apps wouldn't come with protections. And it's all on Apple and their greed.
Societal and Society Impact B
They are one of the most accessible platforms in existence, and trying to make sure that anybody can use them regardless of any physical or mental challenges is pretty incredible. Where they fail is with their employees. And it's some pretty heinous failures. They need to do better.
Customer Service B+
This is a category I added on my own after my heinous experience with the iPhone Upgrade Program (I returned my old iPhone at an Apple Store... Apple said I never returned it... and I spent TWO MONTHS trying to get it straightened out). I have to say... exchanging my iPhone in the mail? Flawless. The trade-in experience with my MacBook Pros? Flawless. Actually getting support? Not so flawless. Apple makes it incredibly difficult to get the help you need, instead letting you use Google for support (see: HomeKit). That being said, they did exchange my faulty keyboard with hardly any trouble, so hardware is not the issue it used to be, so there's that.
Overall, Apple is still doing more right than wrong. It's why I'm so loyal, because other brands are pretty awful. And yet there's always room for improvement, and Apple has more than a few things that need improving, so here's hoping.
Posted on February 7th, 2023
As I mentioned a few times, I wandered back into Apple's HomeKit smart home technology after the Insteon stuff I was using went out of business (apparently they were bought out, so I dunno what's happening with it now). Very fine people were saying that HomeKit had improved muchly since I tried it out years ago, so I thought "Let's give it a shot."
Turns out it wasn't a smart move.
HomeKit is still HomeShit, and it's frustrating me to absolutely no end. Today when the Kitty Breakfast alarm chimed, none of my Automation routines triggered. Lights didn't turn on, thermostat hadn't changed, and what have you. Then this evening the lights didn't turn on when the light sensor determined the light was dim enough to trigger.
Now, Automations have been finicky for a while, and this is nothing new. What is new is that 75% of my devices are "Updating" and then "Not Responding."
Turns out that Apple updated HomeShit and it broke my home.
After researching on the internet for nearly an hour, I saw that many, many people are having the same problem. And what works for one person doesn't work for the other. The only thing I could do is keep trying everything that everybody else did and hope that eventually something would fix itself. So I rebooted the router. I removed and re-added devices. I unplugged all my HomePod minis and AppleTVs and plugged them back in. I unplugged them again, rebooted my router again, then plugged them back in. Then I did that exact same thing, but this time I only plugged in one HomePod mini that I wanted to act as a "border router." And that's what did the trick. The next day I plugged in the remaining HomePod minis and AppleTVs and everything was working again.
Except for the door sensor that turns on the garage light when I open the pass door.
Eventually I took the battery out and let it sit overnight. Then the next morning I put the battery back in and everything started working again.
Rumor has it that Apple is working on a HomeKit Controller. Like an iPad with special hardware to build a more reliable HomeShit network. I think that's probably because giving that task to HomePod minis isn't working and they know it.
A cynical person would say that Apple created a problem so they could sell you the cure. Maybe it's true.
All I know is that I am sick and fucking tired of having invested new money into having a smart home only to find that the discontinued, broken, 18-year-old system I had been using for six years was more reliable.
Apple has billions of dollars. Billions, with a B. And yet they apparently don't give one cent's work of fucks to fix their busted HomeShit bullshit. I keep waiting for the class action lawsuit which would force them to either fix HomeShit or refund all the money people have invested in it, because this is getting fucking ridiculous.
If this was the home I wanted I would have just left it as a dumb house and saved some money.