Posted on September 12th, 2023
Today was Apple Event Day... titled Wonderlust. No idea how what they presented is a combination of "Wonder" and "Wanderlust," but that's marketing for you.
If you want to watch it, the full video is on Youtube here. If you want it condensed down to 17 minutes, then The Verge has got you covered...
My comments (since I know you're dying to hear them) are below...
Transition has been complete to Apple Silicon. Though I still think that the Mac Pro is a bit nonsensical which, if not really Apple's fault... it's due to Apple Silicon not really being conducive to external upgrades for memory and such.
Really nice that Marques Brownlee (MKNHD) got a shout-out as an important voice to quote. He definitely deserves that.
They don't give us any new AppleVision Pro news, except to say that what's being developed for it is incredible. I don't doubt it. I truly don't.
I have an Apple Watch Series 6. There was zero incentive for me to upgrade to Series 7 or 8. Sure my battery dies too soon and I have to keep the always-on display off, but it's otherwise still perfect for my needs. And now here's Series 9.
The chip that runs the latest and greatest is truly impressive... now featuring Machine Learning Neural Cores so that many of your Siri requests run on-device and are more accurate. I would hope that even those commands which have to go out over cellular data on my iPhone will be speeded up as well. Specifically, telling my garage door to open. I think that this will be the case, because the command will just be issued while (hopefully) instead of a round-trip to have the command processed?
I use my watch to find my iPhones more often than I'd ever admit. Apple Watch now has the ability to find it with a directional beacon. This is a bit nicer than triggering an alert noise and having to try and listen for it. I leave my iPhone in all kinds of places... in the garage... outside... whatever... so this is good news for me (and my cats, who scamper when they hear that alarm going off).
2000 nits brightness on the screen. So good. That's double the Series 6 I have, which is more than adequate in all but the brightest of sunny days.
One-handed gesture for double-tap. This is straight out of the AppleVision Pro handbook. Watching it in action on Apple's demo video makes it look like a very cool thing to have. I know I would start using it from Day One, because I'm always reaching for the button.
Available in Pink! But I want that (Product)RED watch with a black band... it's actually what I wanted last time, but you can't get a different color band when you go with Product(RED).
Apple's first carbon-neutral product. Good on them.
Octavia Spencer as Mother Nature? Well, I guess if you gotta go with some stunt casting on a stupid promo video, Octavia Spencer will make it look 100% less stupid, so there's that.
Apple is reeeeally pushing sustainability in all aspects of their operation. It's great and all, but I'm wondering if anything is being done about taking care of their workers better. Because putting nets on their buildings to keep employees from killing themselves by jumping off is not exactly a solution.
Despite the fact that much of what Apple is doing to "save the planet" is highly beneficial to them (whether by act, deed, shipping costs, or tax write-offs) it's still a cool thing to be doing. If most companies acted like this, it actually would benefit the planet. Though "carbon offsets" are dubious at best, and there's loads written about how they're kinda a scam. Maybe Apple is different, but yeah... this is benefitting them too. Don't assume otherwise.
Apple abandoning leather is nice for me, who wants to kill as few creatures as possible. The only things I bought made out of leather is some of my shoes and the Apple Wallet on my iPhone. This will give me one less thing, because when my wallet wears out, I'll switch to a non-leather one.
Still too big for me and my pencil-arms.
3000 nits display. Insanity. That's fully-readable in full sunlight.
Better, faster, yada yada. This is not a watch for me, but it's very capable with many cool features for outdoorsy type people.
Oh gawd. Pastels?? Why? Are they popular again? I'm not seeing it. I'm mad enough that Apple used pastels on their iMacs. And no purple? WTF? At least they have black as an option for people who don't want a pastel.
Dynamic Island for everyone! I have to admit this is a pretty cool idea I use often (and a great way to conceal the cameras).
The glass tech on the back will never be not cool.
Camera improvements are always a given and, as usual, some of the tech is filtering down from the Pro models. I mostly prefer Apple's take on photography over their competitors, and knowing Apple wants their lesser model to keep pace is nice.
The ability to switch focus after the fact is the real power of computerized phone cameras over DSLRs. There have been attempts to do this for years, but Apple's take is the first way to do so without penalty.
A16 Bionic is inherited from the iPhone 14 Pro. A very good chip indeed.
Ultra-wide-band chip has been improved to have more precision finding. That's great news for people who rely on FindMy like I do!
Voice Isolation is a cool feature, but I'll be interested to hear how Apple's implementation is. In the past, the technology has been hit-or-miss.
Find My over satellite? Was this already a feature that I didn't know about?
Roadside Assistance over satellite is handy. I dropped AAA, but if I were driving in isolated places, I would re-up my membership.
Satellite services free for two years. What happens after two years? Time to get a new phone? $1000 a month? What?
USB-C. About FUCKING time. Jesus. Lightning was great TWENTY YEARS AGO! Though the fact that large files will STILL take forever to transfer because they are using
Here we go... the whole reason I tuned in. Will I be trading in with my iPhone Trade-In Program... or waiting a year to own the phone I have outright?
Titanium frame. Well that looks expensive. Though the lighter weight might be worth it. And it sure is pretty with that brushed texture.
The display has the same specs as before... just with a smaller bezel. This results in a slightly (probably unnoticeably) smaller size phone. Considering I buy the Max model, even a tiny bit is appreciated, though this is clearly nothing to be excited about.
Blergh. Once again, the Pro models don't get fun, bright colors. Always the more "refined" look... which is a bit of a bummer. FOR CRYING OUT LOUD... GIVE ME MY FUCKING (PRODUCT)RED PRO MAX, APPLE! The Blue Titanium is so dark as to be fairly black (like the purple I have now), so I might go with the Natural Titanium color if I upgrade, just to have something different. I'd have to see them in person. The option of White Titanium is puzzling. It's like... why bother? It's close enough to Natural as to be moot.
The Action Button is a smarter use of control real estate, that's for sure. And being able to customize it is pretty great. I'd probably use it for camera, but who knows?
"Standby Mode" only works if you have a charging stand that supports having the phone display sideways. Since I've got a Google Hub as a clock (to instantly view my Nest Cams), I'm probably taking a pass and not buying a new stand if I upgrade.
Welp. We knew it was coming... 3 nanometer chips. It seems more like a concept that's more science fiction than reality. At some point, I wonder just how much speed and power a phone actually needs. Regardless, the power-savings and heat reduction will always make the smaller chips worth having. But I'm puzzled that battery life is still clocking in at the same as before: up to 29 hours video playback? Shouldn't it be better than before? Or did they shrink the battery?
It will be interesting to see the speed benchmarks of the A16 Bionic vs. the A17 Pro. I am expecting it to not be a serious increase for normal use, but will obviously be better for gaming and such.
The GPU capabilities are impressive as hell already. Now we're getting an additional GPU core for added capabilities. Realtime ray-tracing is cool for gaming... and 3D applications across the board, if that's your thing.
A video just to focus on gaming. Amazing that CONSOLE GAMES can now be ported to play on a frickin' phone without dumbing down the visuals or play mechanics. That'll sell a few iPhone 15 Pro Max handsets!
The base model starts at 256GB, double the minimum as before. That's what I got last year because I wanted to shoot the ProRes video at maximum (which won't work on 128GB models). So the cost, for me, is the same as last year. The rumor mill was saying that there would be a hefty price increase, so this is a pleasant surprise.
This is really all I care about, so it's getting its own section.
All lenses seems to have an improved anti-reflective coating, which is great.
As expected, all the Photonic Engine routines are getting improvements. Making it easy for anybody to get amazing shots. There's nothing that Apple didn't demonstrate that wasn't incredible.
The telephoto lends upgrade is pretty sweet. 5X Optical Zoom on a 25% larger sensor (although the aperture is the same across the board). That's on the Max. The regular-sized phone is sticking with 3X. The "periscope prism" design of the lens allows a lot of focal length in a small space... which is superior to janky digital zooming (which is not exactly janky on an iPhone since their neural engine rendering helps out quite a bit).
The shake-reduction should be better given that the 15 Pro has double the speed of micro-adjustments than the 14 Pro. This is very cool, because as good as my current phone is, there's definitely room for improvement. And on the Pro Max you've got 5X telephoto, which will make good stability a must-have feature.
The wide-angle lens macro mode is looking pretty great. Though the macro shots I am getting out of my camera now are also pretty great.
And here it is... direct recording Pro Res video to an external device via
Case in point...
Spatial video recording is now an option... of course. This allows shooting 3D photos and movies for the AppleVision Pro. This alone might make it worth upgrading if that's you, though if you're going to drop the money for an AppleVision Pro, you certainly don't need to worry about the cost of upgrading your iPhone.
Interesting to note that Apple is adding 6TB and 12TB storage options to iCloud. Their storage is already so expensive that I can't imagine how much this will cost.
The iPhone mini is officially dead. If you want a tiny phone, you're out of luck with Apple. The small phones never got the features I wanted, so they were never an option for me... but some people will rightfully be upset. But not enough people to keep Apple making them.
Apple didn't mention it in the presentation, but MacOS Sonoma will be releasing on the 26th (iOS 17 releases on the 18th). This is not a feature-heavy, revolutionary release, though there are a few low-key features I'm looking forward to.
Another nugget not mentioned... the iPhone Pro and Pro Max are Thread-enabled for Matter (the new smart home standard) which is interesting and cool. I haven't switched to Matter yet because HomeKit it bad enough without inviting more trauma. Eventually I will be switching because HomeShit is SO FUCKING BAD that I can't stand using it (the latest... telling Siri to turn off my table light turns off my kitchen lights).
Dunno if I'll be upgrading my Apple Watch. Again, there just doesn't seem to be much there to justify the cash outlay. Where's the new sensors they're working on? I keep waiting for some massive feature to debut that I can't live without... and it never comes. What I have is plenty (especially HomeKey, which I love for unlocking my doors).
While the Apple Watch Ultra is not for me... I cannot wrap my head around a display with 3000 nits brightness!
The new iPhone, however, is definitely appealing. Slightly, slightly smaller size... albeit with a tiny bit more thickness... plus a drop in weight (240g to 221g) is welcome but not critical to me. The extra GPU core and better speed are also not critical, as I am not running hardcore games on my iPhone (unless you consider Hello Kitty Island Adventure to be hardcore). I love the idea of
Apple will give me a $115 credit on my Apple Watch Series 6. Honestly, that's double what I was expecting. I seriously thought it would be a token $50 for something that's three generations old. And so... that, along with the Apple Card 3% discount, drops the price of upgrading to something I can stomach (in monthly payments with 0% APR, of course). Since the only way to get the Apple (Product)RED watch I covet is to get it with the (Product)RED band, I just did it. I can alway buy the black band later. Because holy crap does that look amazing...
So I guess I actually will end up with only a $65 credit since that black band will cost me $50. Dangit.
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 January 24th, 2023
Apple just released their new M2 Max MacBook Pro laptops.
I bought the M1 Max MacBook Pro just over a year ago. But... Apple was claiming a 25% to 30% boost in performance, which is a big deal for me because that's a productivity increase I can't ignore. Less time working is more time I have for other things... IF it were true.
So I decided to trade in my M1 for the M2 with the idea that if it's not noticeably faster, I would return it. The cost to upgrade is huge, and I can't afford to do it if there's not really a benefit.
WELP! KEEPING IT! The speed for the stuff I do most definitely is noticeable. It's almost unreal that it could get even faster when the jump last time was so huge.
Besides... how could I give it up when Jenny loves that new Mac Smell?
Everything in the new model besides the faster chip with faster graphics is pretty much the same. Though you are getting better WiFi 6E (which I can't take advantage of because I don't have a 6E router) and better HDMI 2.1 connectivity (which I can't take advantage of because I rarely if ever run an external display).
Something that hasn't changed but frickin' should have changed is the SD Card slot. It's still UHS-II when UHS-III has been out SINCE 2018! Not that I can take advantage of it either, but when you're paying this kind of price tag you expect that you're getting top-of-the line components. This is just sloppy.
But hey, it's still an incredible machine that I feel lucky to have in my possession.
Posted on October 24th, 2022
And lo did Apple release another Mac OS X update.
Right off the bat, Stage Manager (the feature I was most looking forward to) is a pile of shit. It's supposed to make it easy to focus on the task at hand by shoving the apps you're not using to the left-hand side of the screen. But nothing acts in an intuitive manner and trying to figure out what will actually happen when you interact with something is an impossibility because there's no sense to it. I spent five minutes trying to access my Finder windows so I could drag files to an app only to give up in frustration and turn off the entire shit-show. Maybe I'm using it wrong, but if something acts this badly and you have to get training to understand how to interact with it, then it's a big ol' fail, isn't it? So back to "Spaces," once again, I suppose. One can only hope that Apple gets this figured out, because it's an intriguing idea.
Safari is a web browser that's both great and incredibly frustrating. Great because it's fast and capable... frustrating because there are sites which break on it. Facebook, for example, is horribly frustrating because stuff randomly won't work on Safari. Take, for example, not being able to click on story links and have them open (currently you have to control-click and tell Safari to open the link in a new tab or window). It would be nice if you could use Safari without having to worry about crap like this, but it is what it is. You'd just think that Apple would put the effort in to make sure that popular sites are compatible... because you know that Facebook doesn't give a fuck. Their solution is going to be "use Chrome."
Apple Mail is a shit program that keeps getting more and more shitty because Apple takes features away and never fixes the things that needs fixing. Take, for example, being able to select the outgoing server. You used to be able to change it right from message composer. But then Apple took it away for unknown reasons. The didn't even give the user the ability to hide it or show it depending on if they need it... they just took it away. This time around Apple is improving things (like actually having search work worth a shit) and adding things (like "schedule an email" so it will send at a later date... and "undo send" to retract an email you sent), but Mail is still trash. The only reason I keep suffering through it is because there are things that are much easier due to the Apple ecosystem integration. I'd probably be a lot more forgiving if the program would quit in a timely manner... I am sick to death of "Shutdown was canceled by Apple Mail" popping up all the damn time.
In happier news... ZOMG! MacOS X has a Clock app! Works about the same as the iPhone version. What the hell took them so long? Can a calculator for iPad be coming next?
Back in the olden days, you had to purchase a separate font manager to deal with activating and deactivating the tons of fonts that designers need to use (I was a fan of Suitcase then FontBaseFont). But eventually I just went with MacOS Font Book because it's built in and worked okay. The Ventura version isn't better or worse... it's just different. All the typefaces are displayed in tiles which now gives you a hint as to what the font looks like (it's just an "Aa" shown in the typeface). This is nice, but it sure would be helpful if you could view more characters in a secondary pane or something. As it is, you have to waste time double clicking every time you want to see the full character set... or you can switch to a "Quick brown fox..." Sample view which requires a lot of scrolling if you have a lot of fonts loaded. Overall I think this is an improvement, but it would be nice if they would keep working on it, because it sure could be better.
One of the bigger shocks in Ventura is the new "Print" dialogue box. The old one has been busted for years, and now it's how it should have been from the very start. No longer is the "two-sided" option on the "simple" page and all the other options on the "more..." page, there's just one page...
Photos has always been a kinda half-baked app. It really needs a way to switch to an "expert" mode where it acts more like Aperture than something so basic. That being said, there's some new toys that make the latest version an improvement. For one thing, your photos are now text searchable in Spotlight...
You can even search for a text string in your images if you've photographed a sign or something. Also available is automatic detection of duplicate photos which can be easily merged, and you can share custom photo libraries more easily.
Continuity Camera allows you to use the far-superior camera on you iPhone as a webcam instead of relying on the customarily mediocre-to-bad camera in Apple's displays. When I tested it, people couldn't really tell the difference. Where this feature shines is when it uses the wide-angle lens to look down at your desktop, changed the distortion, and pipe that to your video stream. It's very cool. But also kind of wonky, because the distortion correction gets weird when something comes up off the desktop. Even so, this is an awesome idea.
You can choose to edit or unsend text messages in Messages now. I haven't taken the time to find out if this is apparent on the other end... but I sure hope that it is. The idea that abusers and harassers could change the narrative of events when you have to seek help is a dangerous game to be playing. If somebody is in that position, switching to SMS is essential, so worth checking out if you need it.
When it comes to System Settings... they are just... gone. Replaced, but not really. I have no fucking clue where anything is and have to search for what I'm wanting to adjust in the hopes I'll know what to do when I get there. This is a bizarre change, but I suppose that they are trying to unify how to change system settings across all platforms.
And lastly there's "Passkeys." This is Apple's admirable effort to abolish passwords. You have a public key that's on the website which gets matched to your private key on your Mac (via TouchID) or iPhone (via FaceID). You don't have to type out anything... you just get logged in after verifying on your device. It's a nice idea. So nice that other companies like Google are signing onboard. The problem is getting apps and websites to adapt it. Until they do, Passkey isn't going to help. I had read that PayPal, eBay, and Google were using Passkey, but couldn't find anywhere to turn it on, so that's not good. If there's one technology that I want to really take off, it's Matter SmartHome (a universal protocol for smart devices). If there's two technologies that I want to really take off, the second would be Passkey. So fingers crossed.
All-in-all Ventura is okay. I wouldn't consider it a game-changer or an essential upgrade though. But since it doesn't cost anything, maybe that's okay. Since all three of my Macs are running Apple Silicon now, I have a feeling that there are a bunch of little optimizations going on behind the scenes that I can't really notice to appreciate, but am grateful are there just the same.
If there's a takeaway to be had from the more recent OS X versions, it's that the big feature-busting releases are a thing of the past. From here on out it's all optimization with an occasional cool new thing thrown in so Apple's marketing department has something to sell.
You'll have to forgive me that I still keep hoping for something revolutionary to come along.
Posted on May 26th, 2022
My nine-year-old iMac computer at work has been dying for years and finally just refused to work properly at all this past January. You could never search for anything. Apps would hang the computer for no reason. The display would black out at random. It was horribly frustrating, but I held on... working partly on my laptop and partly on my home iMac when my work machine was acting up... because I knew that Apple was going to release new Macs at their Spring Event. Which they did back in March.
My guess was that they would release an M1 27" iMac, which is exactly the machine I needed.
My guess was wrong.
Instead we got the "Mac Studio" which was in every way perfect for my needs...
And now for the bad news... the Apple Studio Display that was to go with my shiny new computer hasn't arrived yet. It was actually supposed to arrive before my computer ages ago, but rather than ship it to me, Apple decided to hold off since my computer wasn't available yet. Then the COVID lockdowns hit China and so now the Mac finally arrived but I'm having to use a crappy old HDMI monitor that's so pixelated and low-res that I can barely work on it. Better than nothing, I suppose, but this is more than a little bit frustrating.
The computer itself is quite nice-looking. A minimalist 1/2-height cube with pleasing rounded corners. Kinda like a tall Mac mini...
On the front of the computer is the afore-mentioned SD card slot and two USB-C ports. There was no little "lightning bolt" symbol above the USB-C ports so I assumed that they were not Thunderbolt-4 compatible (as it is on the less-expensive model). I was wrong. They are full-on Thunderbolt, which is nice, and I'm guessing Apple left off the symbol for aesthetic reasons (as they are wont to do). The SD card slot is inexplicably still the older SD-XC UHS-II standard. The much faster SD-UC standard has been out for years now, so this is kinda inexcusable given the massive size of photo and video files now-a-days. My camera is not SD-UC so it doesn't affect me... but if I ever do get a camera with a SD-UC slot, I'm going to be understandably pissed. And... oh yeah... do you want to know what's not on the front of the computer? The power button. Which means if you need it, you are groping blindly around the back. I have no idea why this is the case. Apple could have at least put it on the side near the front if they thought it was too ugly to go on the front.
On the back of the computer is that pesky power button plus all the remaining ports. On my model this means four USB-C Thunderbolt-4 ports, two USB-A ports (helleluja!), and an HDMI 2.0 port (never mind that the 2.1 standard has been out since 2017, Apple is once again using older ports for some reason). Plus
One disadvantage about the computer is that the soft aluminum casing paired with sharp edges is just asking for dings and nicks to appear. Mine arrived with a small ding on the front-top edge, so I can only imagine that it's going to end up a lot worse once I start actually using it...
The fragility aside, I have no complaints. For something that's meant to occupy the space between consumer and pro in Apple's lineup, this is about what you'd hope for.
The computer comes with no keyboard and no mouse included in the price. You get the computer, a power cord, and a black Apple sticker (I thought that the black stickers were for "Pro" purchases, but I guess the "Studio" was deemed worthy...
For pre-configured machines you have a choice of a $2,000 model which has 32GB of unified memory and 512GB storage, plus the M1 MAX Apple Silicon chip with 8 performance cores and 2 efficiency cores for the CPU, 24 GPU cores, and 16 neural engine cores... and a $4,000 model which has 64GB of unified memory and 1TB storage, plus the M1 ULTRA Apple Silicon chip with 16 performance cores and 4 efficiency cores for the CPU, 48 GPU cores, and 32 neural engine cores. My work was nice enough to get me the ULTRA version because I needed the memory. It would have been cheaper to upgrade the entry model, but I was happy to get the more powerful machine.
As to whether the price is worth it? Well... yes and no. I think that the $2,000 model is actually a darn good bargain for what you're getting. That would be enough to satisfy mid-range power-users at a decent cost. The $4,000 model, however, seems overpriced. For that kind of money, you really should be getting the chip with 64 GPU cores (but that's a $1,000 add-on, $5,000 total). I might feel differently if there was a clear speed benefit to the ULTRA chip, but benchmarks show that it's mostly equivalent to the lesser version except in extreme circumstances, so I would have likely been just fine spending $2,000 for the base model and adding $400 for more memory and $200 for more GPU cores. But, hey, as Apple optimizes their "Metal" rendering engine to better take advantage of ULTRA, and app developers hop on board, I might end up being very glad that my employer spent the extra cash.
The hallmark of Apple Silicon is that you get considerable power out of less energy. This is a godsend for portable Macs (my MacBook Pro with the M1 MAX chip can go all day on a single battery charge) but not as critical for desktop machines like the Mac Studio. Conceptually desktop machines will be able to put additional power to good use. But in practice it doesn't feel like more bang for your buck. I ran races between my MacBook and Mac Studio expecting the M1 ULTRA to run circles around the M1 MAX, but that's just not the case. Yes, the Mac Studio is faster, but it's not by a revolutionary amount. This may sound like a complaint... but it really isn't. The fact that Apple has managed to make chips this powerful means that the entire line gets an "A grade" from me.
Everything on my new machine feels zippy. Basic tasks happen near-instantaneously. Complex Blender 3D scenes render very fast when using version 3.1 that's optimized for MacOS X's "Metal" graphics package. Rendering video in Final Cut Pro is ridiculously fast. Needless to day, the Apple Silicon optimized versions of Adobe's Photoshop and Illustrator perform amazingly well. And as more work goes into Metal drivers (by Apple) and apps (by developers) the sky's the limit. I was happy to have a working computer. But having one as powerful as the Mac Studio feels too good to be true. Work is so much easier when you have a screaming-fast machine.
Ultimately this is a very nice, very capable machine. And having an option for power-users which doesn't force you into a "Pro" machine that's overkill for your needs is refreshing. I won't get the full benefit from the machine until the Studio Display that goes with it arrives... and developers further optimize their apps to utilize it... but in the meanwhile I am a very happy camper.
Posted on March 8th, 2022
AND LO DID TIM COOK DESCEND FROM THE HEAVENS TO BESTOW UPON THE WORLD NEW APPLE PRODUCTS, AND IT WAS GOOD!
Or not. I haven't quite decided. But there was indeed an Apple Event™ today, and Tim Cook did indeed drop a bunch of stuff on an undeserving world. As usual, I just can't seem to shut my mouth about it, so here we go. If you want to watch the actual Apple Event™ before reading my commentary (or watch as you read) then here you go...
Some of the forthcoming movies and shows look interesting to me. The addition of Friday Night Baseball is an intriguing idea, but the only way I would want to watch it would be if they're showing a Red Sox game, so who knows how useful this will be to me. I'm not quite understanding where Apple is going with all this. Television series (like my beloved Ted Lasso) and movies (like the wonderful CODA) make sense. But baseball? I don't get it. This is not a big missing piece that is filling a hole in Apple's lineup to attract subscribers.
Whoop-dee-doo. A new green shade for iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro. It kinda makes me upset that A) Apple adds colors after you've already bought the latest model... and B) the Pro models always get "sophisticated" (i.e. boring) colors. Let me know what I can have when a product is released. And, for the love of God, give the Pro users cool bright colors like the non-Pro models get. I want my (PRODUCT)RED iPhone Pro, dammit.
iPhone 13 SE
This is the "budget" model iPhone that's not exactly "budget." But it is a more affordable option for people wanting a newer, faster iPhone with a better camera and 5G. What's surprising is that the SE is actually more bang for your buck than what you get with a standard model iPhone 13. Because with the exception of FaceID (which I love) this is a pretty sweet feature-packed mobile phone for $430.
iPad Air 2022
Yada yada yada... better, faster, stronger than the last model. This means nothing to me, because what I want is a 17-inch iPad Pro. That's all I want. Until they offer one that's sized for graphic artists, there's no need for me to upgrade from my iPad Pro 12.9-inch model. But for somebody wanting an iPad that slays? This is for you. This is the model I would have bought for my mom. In purple. At $600 it ain't cheap, but there's a lot of bang for your buck in that price tag. Inexplicably, by adding the M1 chip, Apple pushes this into "Pro" territory, which makes me wonder why they have "Pro" models at all. Unless there's new "Pro" models around the corner which will leapfrog this new Air? M2 perhaps?
And here we go. Pro users want to upgrade their machines faster than the average iMac user. But it's always a waste because the 27-inch display on the iMac Pro is integrated with computer, so getting rid of one means you're getting rid of both. And the trade-in value ain't that great. So separating the computer from the display makes a lot of sense. Unfortunately, doing so means that you have to pay more to get what you need (even though upgrading will be cheaper because you can hang on to the monitor (and this monitor is really sweet, featuring 5K, great sound, and a very good camera)...
My MacBook Pro with M1 Max is the ideal laptop because it redefines power computing on the go... all while getting sublime battery life. I couldn't be happier with it. Finally an actual Pro laptop! The new Mac Studio allows you to choose between this very capable chip... or the shiny new M1 Ultra. This beast of a processor is essentially "ultra-fusing" two M1 Max chips together into a single processing unit that's more powerful and efficient than using two separate chips that are soldered to the motherboard. Plus the system sees it as a single chip, so developers don't have to do anything special to take advantage of its power. Naturally, I covet a computer using one of these chips... but, even with the intensive work I do, it's likely overkill. Hopefully my office will spring for one of the cheaper models for me, because my 8 year old iMac is dying and takes forever to do simple tasks.
The $2,000 and $4,000 price tag is a lot of cash. But when compared to equivalent high-end PCs it's actually a pretty fair price. And compared to the iMac Pro it's replacing (at $5000) it's a hot bargain. Then there's the Mac Pro, which is still for sale on Apple's website and still using Intel chips. They start at $6000. I'd rather max out a Mac Studio for that kind of money. At least until Apple upgrades the Mac Studio to whatever ungodly powerful chips they're developing.
And that was all she wrote.
And speaking of "she"... interesting to note that all the developers interviewed when talking about the M1 Ultra were women. Appropriate as we celebrate "International Women's Day," I guess. Hopefully all these women are getting equal pay for their work... because that would be something to really celebrate.
Here's the Apple product matrix as it currently stands...
So... inconsistent and all over the map then. Steve Jobs must be turning over in his grave.
Though Steve was innovating in a different, simpler age. Tim Cook seems to be more interested in filling needs than filling boxes, which is probably how it should be. No, it's not simpler than having a neat matrix with clearly-defined labels... but it does make sure that people will get devices that are a good fit for what they are wanting to do with it and how much money they have to spend. And that's probably a better approach.
All I do know is that I wish money was not an option, because I would just buy the biggest, baddest, most expensive model of everything Apple makes every time they release it.
Fantasyland is so much nicer than Reality.
Posted on October 10th, 2021
Fall days are here, but it's still Summer Vacation at Blogography... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Bags! Washington State is one of those bizarre states that wants to do a good thing... but often ends up doing it badly. Take for example the "Single Use Plastic Bag Ban" that recently went into effect. The idea is to make people bring reusable cloth totes to the store in order to keep plastic bags out of landfills. But... holy shit. Those bags were never single-use to me. I use them to carry stuff all the time (like my lunch) and they're also the garbage bag I use in my kitchen and bathrooms. Stores will still have plastic bags available for a mandatory 8¢ each, but Washington State requires them to be thicker plastic so they're tougher. And I'm like... okay... 8¢ is still the cheapest garbage bag I can buy... and now they are going to be five times thicker, so it's actually one of the best frickin' garbage bags you can get. EXCEPT NOW THERE'S FIVE TIMES MORE PLASTIC GOING INTO THE LANDFILL!! Lots of people use them as trash bags, so even if a bunch of people switch to cloth totes, people will either be buying more plastic trash bags or using the thicker bags, meaning that we might actually have more plastic in the landfills. Does anybody think about this shit before passing these laws? ANYBODY?!??
• Finale! Not sure how to feel about the finale of Ted Lasso. In many ways, it was disappointing. There were zero surprises, if you've been paying attention. But I didn't hate it. The entire purpose of the second season was to lead up to the endgame of the third season, which was designed to be the last. It seems entirely likely that it will continue past that... there's just too much to lose... but Bill Lawrence says the three-season story arc will remain regardless...
He also says that Doctor Fieldstone and Trent Crimm will be back, so there's that. And so... until next year, I guess.
• Make Mine Marvel! And so now there's a Kathryn Hahn spin-off with Agatha Harkness from WandaVision. Add to this the rumor that some Netflix Marvel shows are headed to Disney+ as well (Jessica Jones? Daredevil?), and the future is looking very good for Marvel Studios fans... with Hawkeye, Ms. Marvel, Moon Knight, She-Hulk, Secret Invasion, Ironheart, Armor Wars, Wakanda Series, and an Echo Series, already announced...
And heaven only knows how many are being roughed out that we don't even know! I'm guessing that the Marvel stuff is the most popular part of Disney+, so increasing the number of new shows is a no-brainer.
• Kenan! The new cast lineup for Saturday Night Live seems solid. But the killer app of the show is Kenan Thompson. He's the most memorable part of every skit he appears in, but it's only due to how he plays it... not necessarily the material they give him. In Billionaire Star Trek he had a bit part as an Amazon delivery guy and Kenan is all I remember of it. The meeting with the school board sketch was instantly forgettable... except for Kenan. Everything EXCEPT for Kenan in the funeral skit evaporated minutes after I saw it. This is most decidedly not a great way to start the season. They had months to prepare for the first show, and nothing sticks in my head except how Kenan managed to make the most of what he had to work with? I dunno. SNL has a problem that's not an easy fix. Hopefully everything will gel and get dialed in before Jason Sudeikis shows up, because that show is something I am really, really looking forward to.
• Weekend! How my weekend started...
VS. how its going...
So pretty darn delicious, I'd say!
• Retired! Good riddance you crusty old homophobic, racist, misogynistic bigot. I’ve got a bottle of champagne chilling in the refrigerator for the day you depart this earthly plane. Don’t keep me waiting...
This asshole may be retiring now, but his brain retired decades ago.
• Inside! God. Could Intel reek any worse of desperation? This ad is fucking embarrassing. And the "random strangers" they pulled in are ridiculous. Like Apple fans are completely unaware that other products exist. I mean... holy shit... is Intel SO worried that people are leaning away from their chips that they have to be all pathetic like this? Sad. Just sad...
Somebody would have to be legit brain-dead to think that this reflects any semblance of reality.
Everybody remember to drink responsibly...
Posted on June 22nd, 2020
Here we go with yet another post-Apple-World-Wide-Developer-Conference keynote. This year's was really long, so I am only writing about things when I have a comment to make instead of summarizing every little thing that was presented. If you want to watch the keynote yourself, just head over to Apple.com and have a look!
• But First... Kudos to Apple for prefacing their WWDC Keynote with a statement on racism, equality, and injustice... and what they are doing to address racism in their industry and our communities. Not only that, but Tim Cook called out the "senseless killing of George Floyd," which is not as strong as calling it what it is... but at least they didn't diminish it by merely calling is "the death of George Floyd." This is not just lip service. Apple is putting their money where their mouth is too. Apple is investing $100 million to help in demanding equality in our communities. That's a drop in the bucket compared to the massive fortune they're sitting on, but it's a heck of a lot more than what other big companies are doing. Apple is also creating programs for Black developers and finding new ways to encourage involvement by POC in the developer community. As a step forward, all the developer videos from WWDC are completely free for anybody to look at this year. Good on them.
• iOS: Widgets. One of the things that I loved so much from MacOS X was the widget screen. So many incredibly useful tools are just a swipe away. Then Apple eliminated them and I was bigly sad. And yet... here they are in iOS?!? Does this mean we will see a return of widgets in MacOS? I am holding my breath. I have said many, many times how my favorite mobile phone to work on was Windows Phone. Yeah, I never gave up my iPhone for it but, upon release, Windows Phone OS had new ideas with fresh ways of doing things. By contrast, Android was just a poor iPhone copy. One of the best features of Windows Phone was "Live Tiles," and that's almost exactly what iOS widgets are looking to be like.
• iOS Picture in Picture Video. Before iOS 14, you had to stop watching a video if you needed to access your apps for some reason. Now Apple has made it so you can keep watching (and listening) while you use your apps. Given how many times a day I get a distraction, being able to keep watching while I'm glued to my phone while traveling is a serious big deal.
• iOS Translate. Holy shit. Offline machine learning translation with conversation mode? Sign me up! As translation gets better and better, this is going to open up the world in new ways. I cannot tell you how many times this would have come in handy with my work. Very exciting stuff.
• iOS Messages. I hate phone calls. All my friends and co-workers know this. I will put off returning a phone call for as long as possible. But a text message? I will hop on that immediately. And yet... I still kinda detest text messages because it's such a messy way to communicate. Apple has started addressing this by adding new features. The one that's most important to me? Groups. Group texts have been vastly improved, which is a huge step towards organizing the madness that can ensue.
• iOS Maps. I never use Apple Maps for actual navigation because I'm addicted to Waze. I only use it for the cool 3-D views of cities and to have access to their "Walk-Around" feature, which is a greatly upgraded version of Google Maps' "Street View." But that may change. Sounds like they are upgrading their directions (which have been pretty awful). All they need now is automated traffic redirection like Waze has and they could be a contender.
• iOS Digital Car Key. Being able to have my home unlock when I arrive is so cool. Apple is extending the idea further with digital car keys. Now not only can you use your phone to unlock your car, you can also message a digital key to somebody so they can drive or move your car if needed... no matter where you are in the world. Of course I would need to buy a new BMW in order to use it... BWAH HA HA HA... but a boy can dream, can't he?
• iOS Apps. No mention from Craig about the recent controversy of Apple being wishy-washy about which apps owe them a cut of their revenue, but I didn't expect there to be. Craig can likely get away with this because he's got almost offensively good-looking hair.
• iOS App Clips. Having to download a new app for some little task is frustrating. App Clips are tiny pieces of apps that handle simple tasks you need to get through your day. They load immediately and will streamline tasks because they integrate ApplePay and "Log-In With Apple" features. And if you want the full app after using the App Clip, you can easily download it. Simple!
• iPadOS. I only use my iPad for two things... creating art and Zoom calls. That's it. Everything else happens on my iPhone or Mac. Apple is working hard to change my thinking on this by continuously upgrading the iPad experience. They started off with something that goes a long way towards addressing multitasking issues and app navigation... SideBar. This seems a no-brainer given the small screen of the iPad compared to a desktop Mac, but this is the first I've seen it. Smart stuff.
• iPadOS Phone Notification. The way iPad handles calls is kinda stupid. You are dropped out of your app in order to deal with it. Not any more. You can accept or dismiss calls or FaceTime or Skype requests with a popup. Much better.
• iPadOS Pencil. iPad is now attempting to treat your handwriting like actual text. You can select it and move it easily. Or have it converted on-the-fly when you paste. iPad is essentially now full-on an Apple Newton with "Scribble" which instantly converts handwriting to text.
• AirPods. Auto-switching between devices? Magical. But the spatial audio feature being added to AirPods Pro is what has me really excited. If it actually works as advertised, this is Dolby Atmos Audio for one, and well worth investing in a new set of AirPods for me. The way the spatial audio ADJUSTS ON THE FLY when you move your head is incredible.
• WatchOS. I am fairly certain I will be buying into the Apple Watch ecosystem soon. I avoided it for the longest time because I find them so uncomfortable to wear. But after using Waze Band for a while now, I seem to have adjusted. My change of heart has everything to do with the Apple Health benefits which come with WatchOS. As I get older, I am more and more interested in taking advantage of the monitoring and active involvement of staying healthy. I will not, however, use the new "Dance" feature, which would probably result in injuries. Maybe if they add "pole dancing" I will reconsider?
• WatchOS Sleep. The Waze Band ventures a little bit into sleep monitoring, but I don't have a lot of confidence in accuracy and there's no tools to help you get better sleep. Apple Watch seems like there's a lot more going on, making sleep features far more useful.
• WatchOS Wash. Talk about timely features... Apple has added a hand washing monitor which makes sure you are washing long enough to destroy the lipid layer of things like COVID-19 so the virus will die.
Note that Kevin seems to have thinner wrists like me, so he's wearing his watch quite a bit lower than you usually wear a watch because it's uncomfortable on the wrist bone for us. This is encouraging. If this guy is in charge of stuff with WatchOS, and he has to wear a watch like I do, that means all the hardware monitoring features will likely work for me because he's obviously going to be testing them. Sweet!
• Privacy. Apple seems to put a lot more thought into privacy than other companies. They are constantly providing more tools to protect us and keep moving data analysis locally so that it doesn't have to go out onto the internet. I don't have much to say about this except Good job, Apple! Our own government doesn't seem to be interested in guarding our privacy, so it's nice that somebody is stepping up.
Shit Kit. I detest HomeKit. I avoid it whenever possible because it's just an awful, awful system. Expensive, limited, and it barely works for me. Despite having multiple AppleTVs in my home to fully blanket everything with plenty of signal, sometimes I get an error which says that HomeKit can't communicate with my devices. Ugh. Apple has been steadily improving HomeKit with features and such, so maybe I will check it out again one day. But given my horrible past experience, I'm in no hurry. And yet... there's some compelling integration with iOS that has me wondering if I should be investigating it sooner. The one thing I am very interested in is Apple joining a new home automation consortium with Google. Does this mean my Nest cameras will integrate with HomeKit? Interesting to think about.
• AppleTV. My experience with AppleTV has been less than stellar. Sometimes it's downright bad. It apparently has very little RAM for streaming because there are times I get shitty, stuttering video. But the biggest problem is with Apple media itself. Even when other streaming services are working flawlessly on my AppleTV, the stuff I bought from iTunes will fail to load or not display properly. Until they address this, all the other bells and whistles (like new picture-in-picture for apps) don't mean much to me.
• AppleTV+. One of my favorite works of science fiction is the original Foundation trilogy by Isaac Asimov. Apple bought up the rights and teased the result...
No idea how this will play out, but I'm certainly excited to see what they've done with it.
• MacOS Big Sur. "Drug-fueled, mini-bus-driving, vision-quest?" — Okay, Craig. Settle down! If you believe the hype, this will be the biggest change to the visual interface of the Mac since the switch to OS X. I don't know if that's the case... these changes seem a more "evolutionary" than "revolutionary"... BUT THAT BEING SAID... I absolutely love what I'm seeing. WIDGETS ARE BACK? FUCK YEAH!!! Discontinuing them was a bigly stupid move, and adding them into Notification Center is okay by me.
• MacOS Icons. MacOS has redesigned icons! Whee! What pisses me off is that Apple STILL hasn't allowed icons to be manually generated and "baked" into data files. Used to be when you saved a photo from Photoshop, the app would generate a tiny icon to attach to the file so you could see what image you've got. MacOS X eliminated this. Now data file icons are generated by the Finder. Which is so fucking stupid. No longer can you just scroll through all your images and see what they look like... you have to scroll and wait... scroll and wait... scroll and wait... it's infuriating.
• MacOS Maps. And... MacOS is no longer the red-headed step-child of Apple's hardware when it comes to maps. Apparently they are adding more iOS Maps features that have been missing since Maps appeared on MacOS.
• MacOS Safari. Even though I remain unconvinced that Safari is the best browser out there, it's my default browser just the same. Apple wants to be sure that this remains the case, because they keep making it more responsive and faster with each new release. On top of that, they are constantly improving security and privacy features. By far the most exciting is that they will now notify you if your passwords have been compromised when a data breach is reported. How amazing is that? THESE are the features that are important to me. And, oh yeah, they made Safari more customizable and pretty as well. Whee. And what about those new tabs? NICE...
Plus... inline translation when the language of the site is different than your selected language. Looks like you have to click a button. I wish I had an option for pages to translate to English automatically for me... and just let me know with an icon indicator or something so I can switch back if needed.
• Mac on ARM. First it was a switch from 8086 to PowerPC. Then it was a switch from PowerPC to Intel. Now Apple is reeeeeally moving forward by developing their own silicon chips for Macs, just like they already do for iPhones and iPads. This is incredibly smart. By having MacOS work hand-in-hand with custom chips that they design and control, Macs will get faster, smarter, and have better battery life. They can tailor every aspect of the "brain" of their computers to do exactly what they want with no wasted processes or energy. Everybody knew this was coming. I honestly thought it was going to be years off yet. I'm happy to see that it's happening sooner rather than later. My only worry? That eventually Macs will just become big iPads. Because right now there are things that Macs can do which are clumsy or impossible on an iPad. But who knows what the future will bring?
It looks like anything written in Apple's Xcode app development system will just have to be recompiled. Perhaps with minor tweaks. Simple. Microsoft and Adobe are already there for all their apps, and these are some really huge and complicated apps! What will be interesting is how these big companies use the custom hardware to add features to their products. This reminds me of the switch from PowerPC to Intel. All the apps would compile to work on both products via Universal Binary packages, and the user experience was seamless. But for those apps which weren't compiled to run on Intel silicon, they had a translation environment called "Rosetta." Now they've brought that idea back with Rosetta 2," so it looks like the transition is going to be just as seamless to Apple silicon, which is exactly what you want. Performance seems to be very good as well, so what's not to love?
• iOS on MacOS. A brilliant side effect of Apple making their own chips is that they can make it so iOS and iPadOS apps run natively on the new Macs. That's pretty great.
And that's a wrap. There's a lot of stuff to really appreciate here, but it's all vaporware until it ships and end-users have access, so I guess we'll see.
Posted on February 7th, 2020
Every year the Six Colors blog on all things Apple issues a report card. For the past week I've taken time when I have a free minute to make up a report card of my own.
I should start out by saying that I remain disappointed that Six Colors doesn't have a "Customer Service" section on their report card. If they did, I would give Apple an F- or whatever the lowest possible score is. The two horrendous incidents I endured in 2019... both of which were 100% Apple's fault... were so trauma-inducing that I STILL haven't been able to sit down and write out a blog entry on what happened. Every time I start, I get so overwhelmed with seething hatred that I have to stop. Maybe one day. But, suffice to say, Apple "customer service" is so downright horrific that the very thought of it has me questioning if I ever want to buy anything from Apple ever again.
But on to the report card...
Over the past five years I would have given Apple a D. Their shitty, shitty "butterfly" keyboards on their MacBook Pro laptops were a fucking disaster, and everybody hated them. But Apple being Apple felt that everybody was wrong and kept using the stupid things. They finally came to their senses and released a MacBook Pro with a "scissor" keyboard in 2019 and it made all the difference. I'm still upset that they removed Firewire, USB-A, and MagSafe from a so-called "pro" laptop, but I guess Apple is going to remain being Apple and ain't going to stop any time soon. The giant trackpad I was anticipating liking actually ended up being a negative, because it takes up a huge amount of space and is easy to touch when you don't mean to. Also? I have a hard time selecting text with it or click-dragging, something I've never had a problem with before.
When it comes to the desktop Macs, I have to drop Apple down a grade. They are so focused on the high-end Mac and iMac that it feels like the "models for the rest of us" are getting shafted. And don't get me started on the Mac mini. The original idea for that was to give people on a budget a way to afford a Mac by bringing their own periphreals. But now? The cheapest model is $800. EIGHT HUNDRED DOLLARS! If this is meant to be an entry model which is priced to be budget-friendly, it fails spectacularly.
When it comes to MacOS X, which is apparently included in this category, I am indifferent. It feels like MacOS has been stagnating for years. Nothing overly-exciting or truly fresh and new has been released in what feels like forever. To me, MacOS X Catalina was actually a step backwards. My MacBook Pro comes with a fingerprint sensor for TouchID. You would think that this means you are done with entering your passwords. You would be wrong. I am constantly entering my fucking Apple ID password. CONSTANTLY! It is fucking embarrassing just how bad Apple is at security. They put on this huge show of how they are encouraging people to use stronger passwords, then completely sabotage it by making people have to enter these longer, more difficult passwords over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over. Who the fuck is going to use a complex, hard-to-crack password when you have to keep entering it over and over again? Nobody. Apple's claim to be making strong passwords more common is 100% bullshit. If anything, Apple's piss-poor handling of passwords encourages easier-to-remember, easier-to-crack passwords.
I love, love, love the latest iPhone. The phone part is all the same... just a bit faster is all... but the camera is sublime. The camera is everything. I wrote extensively about the iPhone 11 Pro and its miracle-camera here. If anything, my opinion has only gone up since I wrote it. Between Night Mode, Deep Fusion, three lenses, and the amazing quality of it all, I almost never use my DSLR any more. Why would I drag it around everywhere when I can take shots like these with my frickin' phone?
Amazing. If this keeps up, in another couple years most people won't even think about buying an actual camera.
iPad is an amazing, amazing tool. Drawing and painting on it is a sublime joy that still amazes me. And, as they release newer models of iPads and Pencils, it just keeps getting better and better. Where the problem lays is with iOS for iPad. It's just so darn bad. I have been trying and trying to figure out how the gesture-based multi-tasking works, and just when I think I understand it something happens which makes me realize that I absolutely don't. In all honesty, this aspect of iOS for iPad needs to be completely gutted so they can start over from scratch. Just burn it to the ground and start over. The user interface is a place where Apple usually excels. But this? THIS?!? Complete shit. It doesn't matter how good the hardware is when the OS driving it is this cumbersome. And so I averaged them together to get my grade.
I'm probably not qualified to comment here because I don't own an Apple Watch and have no plans to buy one. They are just so darn thick that I find them uncomfortable. Why they aren't investigating putting the battery in the band somehow or doing something to make them thinner is a mystery. Because if you've got a thin wrist like I do, it's just not a very good option. It's a real shame too, because I really like the health features. That being said... if a chunk of money lands in my lap, I might bite the bullet anyway because there's just so much good stuff to be had so conveniently.
Apple seems content to let AppleTV languish, and it's really too bad. The interface is abhorrent. So horribly difficult to use. Have a ton of movies? I hope not. Because you'll spend a lot of time scrolling and scrolling. But what's worse is that Apple content is just plain shitty to stream. Constant buffering errors, drop-outs, and pauses. And before you blame my fiber internet (which is what Apple does)... I don't have this problem with ANY OTHER SERVICE when streamed on my AppleTV. Not even with Disney+ or Amazon Prime streaming on Ultra HD!
Then there's Apple's idiotic attempt at doing away with logins by tying services you purchase through them to your Apple ID. I say "attempt" because the shit DOES NOT WORK. I can't tell you how many times I've subscribed to a streaming service through the AppleTV in my living room then can't use it on the AppleTV in my bedroom. And since you don't get a login, there's absolutely nothing you can do... EXCEPT NEVER, EVER, EVER SUBSCRIBE TO ANY STREAMING SERVICE THROUGH APPLETV! As if that weren't enough, if you subscribe to a service through AppleTV that doesn't have a desktop app, you can't watch it on your computer. You could probably watch it online through the provider's website if you got a login from AppleTV, but you don't so you can't. It makes no sense... NONE... as to why you'd ever go through Apple.
And don't even get me started on the shitty, SHITTY fucking remote they bundle with the thing. It is the single worst remote control I have used on any product ever. Constantly grabbing it by the wrong end. Constantly having trouble navigating content. Constantly losing the little fucker in my couch. I HATE it. And I mostly hate AppleTV, even though most third-party apps are pretty decent... and those gorgeous screen savers are sublime.
I don't subscribe to Apple News+ or Apple Arcade, and only have Apple TV+ because I get it free for a year. I subscribe to iCloud, but it's so horribly priced that I only buy the bare minimum for iPhone backup. The only plus is that iCloud Drive is content to just be a cloud drive, which is more than you can say for DropBox, who keeps adding the most ridiculously shitty and bloated services to their cloud drive that I just don't want. About the only thing I can truly comment on here is paying for Apple services. For weeks I've been getting a pop-up on my Apple Wallet asking me if I want to link my Apple Cash as a payment method at Apple. I absolutely do. Except it fails when I make the attempt. EVERY FUCKING TIME!
Why in the hell do they bother asking if it doesn't ever work?
I fucking hate HomeKit. It's a flakey, incomplete, crusty asshole of a technology. After waiting forever for compatible devices to come out, I started buying them... then immediately stopped because the experience was so bad. Rarely worked well. Sometimes didn't work at all. I'd recommend that Apple just give it up already, but they just joined a consortium with Amazon, Google, and the Zigbee Alliance, so maybe they're on the right track now. Hopefully this will at least result in a workable technology, because I am totally ready to have my home automation built into iOS.
My score is comparative. When compared to every other tech company, Apple reliability is pretty darn good. It's not perfect, however. I've had to replace hard drives in two Macs in two years because the internal drives started failing.
Where do I start? I hated iTunes. I railed against what a profoundly shitty app it was and how bad my digital life was with it. Then they released the AppleTV app for MacOS and the Music app for MacOS and they are so fucking horrendous that I find myself longing for iTunes again. The TV app is the worst of the bunch. Try finding anything. You can't. Can't find the content you own easily. Can't find new stuff to buy AT ALL. When I go to the "movies" tab, for example, there are a bunch of things that AREN'T EVEN FUCKING MOVIES...
And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Everything from Photos to the App Store to Books to Messages have serious problems and Apple doesn't seem to give a shit just how bad an experience it is.
As I'm not a developer, I can't really comment here. Except to say that I still question Apple's App Store policy of taking 30% of in-app purchases. That seems high considering all they do is process payment. Credit card charges aren't nearly that high, and it seems an absurd percentage in exchange for the convenience. In-app purchases should just be another reason why developers love developing for iOS. As it is, many developers just don't use it because the cut is too high. Want to buy a comic book in Comixology? Sorry. Have to go to the website and buy it that way because Amazon apparently doesn't have margin enough on books to give away 30%.
Apple seems increasingly willing to suck up to the Trump Administration... wanting to play nice to get tariff exemptions, I'm guessing. From not speaking out against outright lies about President Trump convincing Apple "to open a new plant in Texas"... to Tim Cook (WHO IS GAY) sucking up to Cheeto Jesus even though he has been rolling back LGBTQ rights at every opportunity, I am disgusted to my very core on this. The only reason Apple gets a D instead of an F is that they seem to continue to improve working conditions and environmental aspects of the company abroad. Still a lot of room for improvement (and it's happening way too slowly), however.
And that's the end of that. Nobody wishes I could have given Apple better scores than I, but things are sliding so badly in so many areas that I really didn't have much choice. The lone exemption being the iPhone, which is better than it's ever been.
And one of these days... I promise... I will finally unload on the heinous state of Apple Customer Service that I had to endure. It is one of the most mind-boggling, mind-blowing things I have ever experienced in "service" and that is saying a lot considering the crap I've had to put up with over the years.
Posted on June 25th, 2019
And lo did Apple descend from the heavens to reveal unto The Faithful a public beta of the next version of MacOS X, Catalina (which is version v10.15, if you're keeping count). And since I know everybody in Blogography Land is just dying to know what I think of this fairly uneventful release, here you go...
It was a piece of cake. I logged in to the Public Beta program, registered my Mac, then clicked to install. I keep all my documents in Dropbox, so I didn't need to back up anything. If the install screwed up, all I'd have to do is scrub my machine and install my apps fresh. If you do keep data on your machine, be sure and back it up before installing any major OS release... beta or otherwise. Apple is better than most, but can still royally screw up from time to time (as I've found out the hard way).
Apparently services like DropBox are now "more integrated" into the Finder, but I'm not exactly understanding how. Maybe it's something the services have to update their software to support? Though DropBox has gone far beyond just storing files in the cloud, and is now trying to compete with collaboration and project management services like Slack and Basecamp, which is just stupid because that's not what I use DropBox for... so I'm probably dumping it anyway. If there are other changes, I haven't noticed them yet.
Gone. Vanished. This is shitty because I actually use Dashboard widgets several times every day. It's just so dang handy to be able to swipe over to a calculator... dictionary/thesaurus... measure conversion... and what-have-you. But no more. I cannot for the life of me understand why something so incredibly useful is being dropped. I don't even know how you can replace the widgets. I'm guessing with a menu bar app, but that's just nuts when my menu bar is already packed full.
Apple interface design is complete and total shit. And getting worse by the day. I have hundreds of movies. Do you know how insane it is to have to scroll through hundreds of movies to find what you want? Even simple fixes... like being able to press the R key to go to the movies starting with "R"... doesn't even occur to Apple's developers, which is both sad and embarrassing. But, even worse, Apple still has their idiotic and flawed security bullshit fucking up their apps. Any time I set up a new computer (or do a major OS upgrade) I end up having to retype my credentials over and over and over and over and over AND OVER AND FUCKING OVER AGAIN. This time? SIX FUCKING TIMES IN A ROW before it stopped asking...
All of Apple's "concerns" about helping people maintain better security is nothing but bullshit posturing when they have idiotic crap like this happening. Who wants to create passwords that are complex and secure when you'll have to type them so many damn times? Nobody. People are just going to keep creating the same easy-to-type-and-remember, easy-to-hack passwords they always have. So congratulations, Apple. In addition to making life with your computers increasingly more irritating and difficult, you're making them less secure.
The (main) replacement for iTunes is Music which, as the name implies, organizes and plays all your music. Except... not really well... it's mainly designed as a gateway and access point for Apple's streaming service, "Apple Music." Since I don't subscribe to Apple Music and prefer Amazon Prime's "Music Unlimited," that means the primary purpose of the app is lost on me. But... it does organize and play all my "iTunes in the cloud" music, so I guess no harm no foul. It's just a shame that Apple didn't innovate past what I already had in iTunes. The new Music is practically the same.
I don't listen to a lot of podcasts, but there are a few I do enjoy from time to time. The new "Podcasts" app seems perfectly serviceable (if a little bland), which is nice. Except... when browsing the available podcasts, I found a dumbass racist pile of shit staring at me. WITH NO WAY TO HIDE HIS DISGUSTING FUCKING FACE FROM AVAILABLE PODCASTS...
Seems like hiding podcasts you don't want to see would be a good feature to have.
I use Photoshop for photo editing, so the new editing tools aren't going to be used very often (if at all). But it is nice to know that they are available. Everything looks similar to the tools on iPhone Photos, so if you are familiar with that, using the Mac Photos is the same. They added some extras for such things as retouching brush, red-eye fixing, noise reduction, and selective color adjustments (which, I'm guessing, are being added to the new iPhone version as well)...
Other than that, they just made things prettier... so to speak. Videos move in preview. The "Day" view tries to logically group and display photos... that kind of thing. Apparently they are using their "machine learning" routines to group photos into events, which is handy for those times you shoot a hundred photos all the same. Photos will now group them...
Except I don't like the way that rectangular photos are sometimes cropped as squares to do this, however, so I'll probably end up in "All Photos" mode, which preserves the original photo's aspect ratio. Another way Apple claims to be using "machine learning" is to better recognize people in your photos. I'm not seeing much of a difference from how it worked previously, however.
Cosmetic upgrades on the start page, which is no less annoying than it's always been. Can't find anything else that's new.
Looks to be mainly cosmetic (It does look a little different). But Apple says there are new features to be found. They must be subtle, because I ain't feeling it.
Seems the exact same. Which is to say it's an underwhelming app that lacks any of the tools required for professional use. If you're just keeping track of birthdays and setting reminders for lunch appointments, you're good. But if you need more functionality, you'll be looking elsewhere.
Looks prettier, has more functionality, seems smarter. I use a different system entirely, so this is not something I'll make use of.
Looks a little different because of the inclusion of a useless "Gallery View" (too small to read anything, can't be enlarged)... but operates basically the same.
Because I didn't want to buy a new MacBook with Apple's shitty, shitty keyboards... and instead paid good money to have my old 2012 MacBook Pro Retina display repaired when it broke, my Mac is too old to test this feature (which allows you to use an iPad as a second screen). It seems odd that such a simple trick would be forbidden when my MacBook is perfectly capable of driving an external second monitor, but okay. I've read that you can hack old Macs to force them to support Sidecar, but since it's unsupported, glitchy, and slow... I'll just take a pass.
Apple's new "tracking tech" is mostly applicable to devices like iPhone which are mobile, easy to leave behind, and have a GPS. The fact that Apple is delving into creating a global mesh of "lost and found" is a remarkable thing with some pretty great privacy securities baked in. I suppose it's only a matter of time before Apple releases tracking "tags" to put Tile out of business. On a Mac, Find My is just combining "Find My Friends" and "Find My iPhone" into a single app.
I already know that I spend every waking moment in front of a computer. Having Apple tell me this is not helping. Fortunately, you have the option of turning it off.
Apple has made great strides in making their devices easier to use with enhanced voice control and other cool stuff. Bravo.
And that's about it. Like I said... pretty uneventful. When the biggest change is that you broke a single app into three separate apps, well, it's hard to see the point. But I guess it serves to let people know you haven't forgotten about the computer-side of the business, so I guess it's all good. I just wish Apple was interested in finding something new and exciting to push MacOS X into new territory.