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Yosemite

Posted on June 3rd, 2014

Dave!Because my entire day yesterday was spent catching up on work, I had the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference keynote running... but couldn't pay very close attention to it.

And so... today's the day I get to channel my inner Mac Whore and talk about new happings at everyone's favorite fruit-named tech company. If the thought of that bores you, here's your chance to escape! But don't come back until the day after tomorrow, because that'll be Part Two.

   
OS X YOSEMITE

The successor to OS X Mavericks, OS X Yosemite, was presented by Craig Federighi, the Senior VP of Software Engineering at Apple...

Craig Federighi

The guy is incredibly charismatic and engaging... reaching to near Steve Jobsian heights with his presentation skills. He's also darn funny, injecting wit and humor into his speech at a breakneck pace.

The look of Yosemite is very much a continuation of iOS7. All aspects of the OS from the controls to the icons have been simplified, saturated, and flattened. In addition, transparency effects have been liberally sprinkled all over the interface elements. Which is something I'm not thrilled about because I find it unnecessarily distracting. Hopefully users will have the ability to disable the transparency like they currently can with the menu bar.

Federighi seemed especially proud of the new look for Yosemite's trashcan...

Craig Federighi Yosemite Trashcan

Personally, I don't give a shit what the trashcan looks like... I only care that it works. Which it currently does not in Mavericks. It will show as "empty" even when there's files inside. Hopefully somebody bothered to fix this incredibly basic and incomprehensibly ignored bug.

After talking trash, we moved on to the system font, which is no longer Lucida Grande. I don't know what the new typeface is called, but it's very pretty and easy to read. And as exciting as that improvement is, the next improvement is something I've been begging for... DARK MODE... where the menu bars and menus are darkened so they don't distract from what you're working on...

Craig Federighi DARK MODE

The window model for Yosemite continues to add functionality for title bars and devote more space to content, which is nice. Apple has also changed the way window controls work... with the green button now taking the window full-screen. Something I could get behind if they WOULD ONLY HAVE AN OPTION TO KEEP THE MENU BAR VISIBLE! I frickin' hate going full-screen because fighting the disappearing menu bar drives me insane. I need to be able to see my clock... my battery level... the date... all that important stuff that's so handy to have available... at a glance.

Notification Center is getting the ability to add widgets, which will finally make it useful to me.

Spotlight, Apple's search system for OS X, is getting an upgrade... and this time it looks more than just cosmetic. All I care about is that it's not a flaky pile of shit like the interface is now (How many times do you end up launching the unintended result? For me, it's practically daily). The addition of Sherlock-esque internet data for searching is a welcome throwback.

Next up, Apple puts the smack-down on DropBox by releasing an online storage option of their own called iCloud Drive. I don't know how it will be an improvement over DropBox, which makes cloud storage so drop-dead easy, but I'll definitely be taking a look.

Federighi then took a look at Yosemite's update for OS X Mail... currently the most-hated app I use every day. It is a buggy, slow, and overall shitty email client that looks downright embarrassing when compared to what Microsoft has going on with Outlook. He promises that they have worked very hard to make improvements with the basic functionality, which would be very nice. A new feature for Mail is "Mail Drop," which allows the seamless sending of files up to 5 gigs via iCloud Drive.

Safari is a world-class browser, but Apple's not resting on their laurels. They've added a number of new features for convenience, speed, and improved battery life... but the standout for me is being able to spawn separate windows for Private Browsing instead of it being an "all or nothing" game.

And then came the first surprise of the day... something Apple is calling "Continuity"... which works towards providing a seamless experience between MacOS X and iOS. The crowd erupted in applause when Federighi announced that FINALLY you can "Air Drop" between MacOS X and iOS. This omission has been categorically absurd and, if I had been in the audience, I would have been screaming "IT'S ABOUT FUCKING TIME!"...

Craig Federighi DARK MODE

But Apple didn't stop there, because next came a new feature called "Hand-Off." This nifty bit of tech means your Mac and your iPhone (or other iOS device) now has proximity awareness of each other. You can start composing an email on your Mac, then hand it off to your iPhone so you can keep composing as you walk out the door. Additional features, like being able to answer an incoming call from your iPhone on your Mac or use your Mac to make calls through your iPhone is dead-sexy. That Federighi demoed this by calling a "new employee" — Dr. Dre — was just the icing on the cake.

And there's where Apple wrapped up their look at just some of the new features that will be available with the new MacOS X.

The beta for Yosemite has been released to developers already. Non-developers can join the beta program later this Summer. Then everybody will be able to grab a free copy come Fall.

   
Tune in tomorrow when I unleash my commentary on Part Two of the keynote... with iOS 8.

   

Applesauce

Posted on May 9th, 2014

Dave!For the longest time I've been dismissive of those who say that Apple has gone downhill since Steve Jobs left us (praise be unto His name). As a Certified Apple Whore, I pretty much have to, right? And besides, as great as His Steveness was, Apple has always been more than just one man. Steve Jobs didn't do it all alone, and the people who helped to make Apple into such a remarkable company are still around. So, yeah, Apple isn't going to be the same... but it couldn't possibly be the horrific disaster that all the nay-sayers keep insisting: "APPLE IS OVER!" "APPLE CAN'T SURVIVE!" "POST-JOBS APPLE IS DOOMED!" What nonsense!

Except...

As time goes on and the user experience with Apple products degenerates to complete and total shit, my opinion has been changing.

Don't get me wrong... I firmly believe nobody is doing it better... but the detail-oriented Apple that made me commit my eternal servitude over the past decade simply doesn't exist any more.

Let's walk through an example, shall we?

  • I receive a coupon code for a new book from Apple's iBooks Store, so I open the iBooks app.
  • Immediately, I'm asked to enter my Apple ID password.
  • After entering my password, I click on iBooks Store.
  • I am asked to enter my Apple ID password again.
  • I get to the iBooks Store and click on the REDEEM link to enter my code.
  • I am asked to enter my Apple ID password for the third time.
  • I redeem my code and it starts to download, so I click back to my iBooks Library.
  • I tap the new book to read it and am asked to enter my Apple ID password for the fourth time.

I perfectly understand the need to prevent random people from walking up to my computer and charging a bunch of crap to my Apple ID. Really I do. But having to enter my password four times? What kind of sadistic fucking asshole made that happen? And how badly would Steve Jobs explode over what a shitty user experience that is? I'd rather just buy a physical book at Amazon with their One-Click shopping.

This problem goes much deeper than just inconveniencing customers to enter their password over and over and over and over again... it encourages people to pick simple, short, easy-to-remember, passwords. Which is pretty much the opposite of what you want, because those are the passwords that are easiest to crack. What you want is people using heinously complicated passwords that are very difficult to crack. But to get this to work, you have to make it so the password only has to be entered rarely. The password should be remembered by the system and auto-populate whenever you want to buy something. Of course you have to secure the system with a password... otherwise you're back to square one. But THAT is the kind of stuff Apple figures out so well. Like the fingerprint scanner on the iPhone, for example.

So where is it?

And since one example doesn't build a compelling case, here are a few more things off the top of my head that have been bugging the shit out of me with Apple's "User Experience"...

  • The bouncy self-hiding menu bar when you go into MacOS full-screen apps is laughably stupid. Give the user the option of having the menu bar visible at all times when in full-screen mode. Anything less is just fucking annoying as shit. Especially if you have a laptop and want to be able to see your battery level at a glance. Or you want to see what time it is. Or you just want to fucking get shit DONE without having to fight with the damn menu bar every five minutes. I mean, seriously, this is such a huge fucking FAIL that this alone leads me to believe that nobody in Apple's UI team actually USES Apple's shit.
  • Why can't I STREAM my video purchases to my iPad, or Mac computer? Why am I forced to download everything in order to watch it? How can it be that Apple is such a bad joke when it comes to content delivery? Hulu, Amazon, Google, and every other fucking video service on earth can stream their stuff, but Apple can't figure it out? They did it for Apple TV... why is this so hard? YOU HAVE BILLIONS OF DOLLARS, APPLE, FIGURE THIS SHIT OUT!
  • Speaking of Apple TV, how embarrassing is it that Apple doesn't know how to make menus work efficiently? If I scroll all the way right, my next click should wrap to the left. If I scroll all the way to the bottom, my next click should wrap to the top. Otherwise, I'm having to press way too many clicks on the remote to do anything. How is it PlayStation and Xbox has this all handled, but Apple is still using menu technology stuck in the 1980's?
  • AirDrop.
  • Why does Apple work so hard to conceal purchases I make through iTunes? Over at Amazon, not only is it simple to look through my past orders... they're all searchable too! But with iTunes? Everything is coded into "batches" and nothing is searchable. On top of that, it's just such a bad experience. I have to go to my iTunes Store account settings to look up my purchase history? What sense does this make? This is fucking embarrassing. Even MORE embarrassing? You can't print out past purchases either (once you finally manage to find them, that is). Sure you can hit "print"... but you get blank pages? Amateur hour.
  • iTunes Match is clunky and slow, and Apple should want to look into this for anybody to take them seriously in the streaming music arena. I am sick and fucking tired of opening iTunes to listen to my music only to have iTunes sit there like a dumb shit while displaying "Getting iTunes Match Results from Apple" for ten damn minutes.
  • Since the dawn of time, when you want to use an old document to create a new one, you open the original document, then do a "SAVE AS..." to save it with a new name. Easy. But not with Apple. You have to use this weird "Duplicate" command with language so confusing that I never know what is actually happening. This is one area where Apple is over-thinking things in trying to make them easier... but fucked up horribly and actually made everything more difficult to use.
  • And why is drag-and-drop so fucking broken in the MacOS? Especially in full-screen app mode. 75% of the time I drag a picture out of mail so I can save it on my desktop, the operation fails. And that's just the beginning. Dragging shit anywhere in MacOS is never something you can count on... whether it's dragging into an application... or even within The Finder itself. Why is such basic functionality that people use every day never fixed?
  • Speaking of basic functionality... do you think Apple gives a shit how often my MacBook gets stuck in "right-click" mode for no fucking reason at all? And do they understand how the only thing that seems to fix it is to just keep randomly slapping the trackpad with multi-touch until the "right-click" comes un-stuck (or re-boot the whole damn machine?). Aren't they even a little mortified that such a massively huge and frustrating bug has been around for years and they just don't fucking care? Well, they should, because this is epic-level crap.
  • Speaking of broken, do you think Apple suffers any shame what-so-ever that their calendar app is such complete and total shit? So much so as to be practically useless? And I'm not just talking about some of the horrendously shitty UI changes they made in the advent of the disastrous design that permeates iOS7... I'm talking basic functionality and comprehensive display of information.
  • And speaking of iOS7... when did "style over substance" become a mantra at Apple? Buttons aren't buttons... text is hard to read... icons all blend together... Apple's overhaul of the iOS7 desperately needs an overhaul. Oh... and people over 30 buy Apple's shit. They should try to come up with an interface that acknowledges this for people with less than perfect eyesight.
  • And, before I forget... HOW THE FUCK DO YOU TELL WHEN THE SHIFT KEY IS PRESSED IN iOS7? I have been using the "new and unimproved" keyboard for over a year now and I still have trouble remembering. It's such an absurd problem that somebody even created a website to help people out. I ask myself almost daily... "Did Jonathan Ive really approved this stupid shit? Really?" This is Microsoft-level FAIL. Or it was. Many aspects of Windows Phone 8 kick the shit out of iPhone now. Of all the things on this list, this is the one fix I am most hoping to see come out of the upcoming Apple Developer Conference.
  • Now let's get to software... does anybody at Apple even give a shit about the software they develop anymore? If they do, nobody outside of Apple would know it. Has development of Aperture stopped and I should switch to LightRoom? Who the fuck knows! Every once in a while a update is released that fixes some bugs or adds some esoteric feature, but any significant updates for the software's main purpose... photo cataloging... hasn't happened in four years. I spent TEN HOURS trying to get an Aperture Vault copied to a new drive. Never worked. Never could figure out why. Never figured out how to get support to get it resolved. Why in the hell would anybody want to buy Apple-branded software when this is what you get? Secrecy is fine, but non-communication is paramount to abandonment.
  • And since when did REMOVING features in new software versions get to be policy? The latest versions of iMovie and Final Cut Pro stripped out so many features from their predecessors that I have no useable solution for video-editing from Apple. Hell, even burning a video to a DVD requires a fucking third-party application. Yeah, we get it, the future is digital. But, in the meanwhile, we need shit to work in the present.
  • Apple Mail... on any device... suck pretty bad. For something people use constantly, this baffles me. IMAP and Gmail support are completely screwed up in the MacOS app. The iOS app is even worse, because email goes missing at random. I'll see a piece of mail come in, click on it, only to have the mail vanish. Sending mail is equally bad because it will disappear without being delivered. Where did it go? What happened? Can I get it back? If it's not in "Sent Mail" and the recipient never got it, is it gone forever? It looks that way. Who knows? Oh… and do you know how many times I’ve gone to “undo” the deleting of an email only to find that “undo” is greyed-out in the menu and cannot be activated? Insanity.
  • Why does Apple even bother with having a data detector for FTP in MacOS when they only allow read-only connections? Why not let me choose to have an FTP session with a client that is actually useful? Because, seriously, I'd rather have NO data detector than to have a link that's difficult to cut and paste without accidentally opening up a half-baked FTP connection through MacOS.
  • Why is "list view" in MacOS X so mind-numbingly incompetent? The filename field never remembers the length I set it, and is always adjusting itself to be at least THREE TIMES the width of anything actually listed in it. This isn't just in the Finder, but everywhere a Cocoa app calls a list view (it really drives me crazy in Adobe apps, where the pallets are so small). So each time I have to widen the window enough to find the column mark, then re-size it down to a sane width. EVERY TIME!
  • iCloud syncing is awful. Yes, Apple finally... FINALLY... added the keychain syncing that they tossed out when .Mac died, but the underlaying architecture is still crap. If I set up all my Mail accounts on my desktop Mac then sync it to iCloud... shouldn't I be able to turn on iCloud syncing on my iPhone and have those accounts automatically populate? Well, that's the way it SHOULD work. But, guess, what? IT FUCKING DOESN'T! What the hell am I doing wrong? It's a button that goes on-and-off! How can I screw THAT up? And don't get me started with "Notes" where the syncing is haphazard at best. Can't tell you how many times I've pasted some critical information I need into notes on my Mac only to have it never sync with my iPhone. If you can't get that crap right, why bother at all?
  • Printing, in general, is an absolute mess. There have been many, many times when I can't even connect to a printer to get anything to print. Nope, you have to delete the printer and start all over again or re-boot ten times until MacOS finally realizes the network printer is available. Any time it takes you 20 minutes to print an email, you know that something is seriously wrong. Unless you're Apple, apparently.
  • And is it too much to ask to have a working trashcan in OS X? Half the time it appears empty when there's actually something in it.
  • And, lastly, Siri doesn't appear to be location-aware, which is about the stupidest thing ever. Google Maps in my frickin' desktop web browser even attempts to be location aware, but a PHONE doesn't? If a real-life "personal assistant" of mine tried to offer advice based on a location half-way around the world from me, I'd fire them.

Holy crap... and that was just the stuff off the top of my head. Had I put some actual thought into this list, it would be ten times as long, I'm sure.

And there's my problem with Apple. In the past, I would expect that insane shit ruining the Apple experience would eventually be fixed. Now? I honestly don't know. There's obviously people in charge of these problem areas. But is Tim Cook obsessing over making sure these people are getting things to work exceptionally well like Steve Jobs was? Or is he being distracted by shiny things to buy with Apple's massive bank account? Early after his take-over, I was willing to give him the benefit of doubt. But now? We're going on three years and I'm starting to worry.

I want... need... Apple to be insanely great.

Anything less isn't Apple.

   

Bullet Sunday 372

Posted on March 16th, 2014

Dave!Stop digging out that old bomb shelter... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Cold? "Russia is the only country in the world that is realistically capable of turning the United States into radioactive ash." — Kremlin-backed television presenter Dmitry Kiselyov, host of a weekly current affairs show in Russia. Behind him was a backdrop of a mushroom cloud following a nuclear blast. (from Reuters)

You wanna know what bothers me more than the thought of being turned into radioactive ash? I really, really, want to visit Russia. I always have. Ever since I first saw a photo of Saint Basil's Cathedral in Red Square. For most of my life, the idea of it has been an impossibility. But then the Soviet Union collapses, the cold war thaws, relations normalize, tourism becomes more and more common, and suddenly... but not really suddenly... the impossible becomes possible...

Saint Basil's Cathedral

And now I'm asking myself... Are current tensions going to blow over? Are current tensions going to escalate? What happens if they do escalate? Have I waited too long? Am I too late?

Last year I ultimately decided to visit Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. But also in the running? A river cruise through the Ukraine, including a couple stops in Crimea...

Ukraine Cruise

I guess that ship has sailed... for a while. Or forever. You just never know. How shitty is it that we can't all just get along?

   
• Flash! The first two comic books I ever bought were Green Lantern/Green Arrow #121 and The Flash #277. Not coincidentally, they became my favorite super-heroes for quite a while...

Flash and Green Lantern

At least until I discovered The Legion of Super-Heroes. And Batman, of course. But even so, I've always had a soft spot in my heart for those first heroes. Green Lantern finally made it to the big screen with a fucking horrendously shitty movie that I hated. Then Green Arrow got a very good television show I'm currently enjoying called Arrow. Next up? The Flash!

The Flash

It's a spin-off from Arrow, so my hopes are high. The costume is certainly a step in the right direction.

This isn't the first iteration of The Flash on TV. The first was a show starring John Wesley Shipp back in 1990. It was surprisingly good, but limited by the technology of the day. To say I'm anxious to see what we'll be getting in the year 2014 is an understatement. The pilot is filming now. I'm assuming we'll be seeing it this Fall. Assuming the show is picked up. That's a lot of assuming.

   
• Drop. Apple has a terrific bit of tech called "AirDrop" that allows you to share iPhone/iPad photos, contacts, files, and whatnot pretty much effortlessly. Open what you want to share, activate AirDrop, and you can beam stuff to other AirDrop users...

Air Dropi OS

Cool!

Apple has a terrific bit of tech called "AirDrop" that allows you to share Macintosh photos, contacts, files, and whatnot pretty much effortlessly. Locate the file you want to share in the Finder, activate AirDrop, and you can beam stuff to other AirDrop users...

AirDrop Mac

Cool!

BUT YOU WANT TO KNOW WHAT'S NOT COOL?!? EVEN THOUGH THEY ARE BOTH CALLED "AIRDROP," THE iPHONE AND MAC TECHNOLOGIES ARE NOT FUCKING COMPATIBLE! This is outrageously stupid and, for the life of me, I just don't get it. I keep thinking "It's coming any day now, I'm sure!" But then it doesn't, and I get pissed off all over again. Why bother naming them both "AirDrop" if they are so different that they can't even talk to each other? How is it that Apple can be so smart in so many ways but so stupid in others?

   
• Stick! I promised myself that I wouldn't start in on the new video game, SOUTH PARK: THE STICK OF TRUTH, until I finished LEGO MARVEL SUPER-HEROES, but I just couldn't resist any longer. I'm a massively huge South Park fan, and the trailer looked amazing (warning, NOT safe for work)...

And you know what? It IS amazing! It looks exactly like you're "playing" an episode of the TV series. As if that weren't enough, it is frickin' hilarious. As in laugh-out-loud-funny. Not only because it's South Park, but because they've managed to create a fully-realized RPG game that's actually a parody of RPG games... with humor built into practically everything you see and do. I'll want to play it a bit more when I get back from vacation before I write a review... but, if you're a South Park and video game fan, it's pretty much a no-brainer. You simply must own this.

   
• Mars 2. The Veronica Mars movie (which I reviewed here) has only been out for three days, and already the sequel talk has started. Here's creator Rob Thomas Himself..

“With the first movie, because it was crowd-funded, it was a love letter to the fans,” he explains. “I put every character they loved back into the movie. There are a lot of inside jokes. With a second movie, I would build it from the case out. In the first movie, I feel like I did just the opposite. I put all the dessert, all the frosting on there, and then put a detective case in the middle. On the next one, I would want the detective case to be the driving force of the movie.”

It's as if he read my blog post and is answering my prayers!

Needless to say, I would be positively thrilled to get a sequel. Especially if we get a fantastic Veronica-Mars-style mystery on-par with what we saw in the first and second seasons of the show. NOW SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!

   
Annnnnd... the end.

   

Bullet Sunday 365

Posted on January 26th, 2014

Dave!Now there's a full year of Bullet Sundays ... because a Very Special THREE HUNDRED AND SIXTY-FIFTH edition of Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Mac! Happy 30th Birthday to the Macintosh. It's easy to overlook the importance of something when you use it every single day, but I love my Mac more now than I ever have...

Macintosh 30th Birthday

If you haven't seen Apple's look back at Mac innovations, it's well worth exploring If I were forced to pick that one year of Macintosh history that was the biggest for me, it would have to be the release of the Titanium PowerBook G4 in 2001. Not only was it sexy as hell, but it was also the first time I felt I could do everything on a portable that I could do on my desktop Mac.

Here's to 30 more years of kicking ass.

   
• Truth! The greatest concert I ever saw was Depeche Mode's Music for the Masses tour back in 1988. A close second would be P!nk's Truth About Love tour from last year. Absolutely spectacular. If you didn't get to see it... or just want to see it again... it's been released on video and is for sale at the iTunes Music Store for just $15 and it's worth every penny...

P!nk Truth About Love Tour Poster

Just an FYI... the tour is actually still ongoing, with three more dates remaining for Anaheim, Fresno, and Las Vegas. If you've got loads of money sitting around, it's worth tracking down tickets for this sold-out show.

   
• Bernice! Looks like I need to start watching South Beach Tow! Because, BERNICE! How awesome is she?!?

Holy shit! I hope her ObamaCare has kicked in by now... she's got a rough job!

   
• Unintelligent! I have been recording the new show Intelligence on my DVR, stacking them up in the hopes of discovering another Black List. No joy. This is easily one of the stupidest shows ever to air on television. It's yet another one of those shitty series where the writers are constantly pulling some kind of random techno-bullshit out of their asses not because it makes sense for the story... but because they're too fucking lazy to come up with something... intelligent... for lack of a better word. "HOW ARE WE GOING TO STOP HER? SHE HAS A COMPUTER CHIP IN HER HEAD?""I KNOW! LET'S PRESS A BUNCH OF RANDOM BUTTONS AND EXPLOIT SOME HERE-UNTO NON-EXISTENT FLAW IN THE CHIP SO WE CAN HACK HER HEAD AND SAVE THE DAY!"YEAH! WHO GIVES A SHIT IF WE ARE THE VERY DEFINITION OF DEUS EX MACHINA! IT BEATS HAVING TO USE LOGIC FOR A LIVING! Seriously, I don't understand how this crap-fest ever made it to air.

   
• LEGO! Just when I think that I couldn't possibly be more excited about the upcoming LEGO movie, this comes along...

"Epic" isn't an epic enough word to describe the epicness of just how epic this movie is gonna be.

   
And there it is... a year's worth of 365 Bullet Sundays in the can. And you said it wouldn't last. Shame on you!

   

saTURDay

Posted on November 9th, 2013

Dave!Well this was a crappy day.

Remember when Saturdays were fun days and you actually looked forward to the weekend? Neither do I, but somehow a rumor got started, and it's been propagated enough times that people actually believe it. Much like an "honest politician," the idea of a work-free weekend has receded into the myths of modern society. In the darkest recesses of your mind you think you remember it... but the truth is that it's a fantasy that dissipated somewhere in your childhood, never to be seen again.

And speaking of fantasies lost in time...

Today I accidentally overwrote a file that I needed. Usually, this would be a huge concern, but I'm on a Mac that's continuously backed up on a "Time Capsule" by an app called "Time Machine" so it's all good, right?

Well, no, as it turns out. When I "enter Time Machine" to go back to previous versions of my files, everything is blank and all my files are missing...

Time Machine Empty

The "space" metaphor that Apple has going on here is ironically apt, as my Time Capsule has become a black hole from which nothing can escape.

Or so I feared.

Fortunately, ignoring Time Machine and manually accessing my backup drive allowed me to retrieve the file. So it would appear that the Time Machine backup engine is working as intended... it's just the spacey interface that's borked.

I'm trying to stay positive and just be thankful that my file could be saved... but seriously? Oh well. Maybe some third-party software developer will take this opportunity to write an app that can restore from Time Machine backups without the douchey interface messing things up.

If they can also write an app that will restore my Saturdays from the drudgery of work, that would be nice too.

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Mavericks

Posted on October 23rd, 2013

Dave!Okay then... it took me six hours to get my email restored after the new Apple Mail app in OS X Mavericks deleted every single piece of email on my Gmail account... but I'll talk about that drama a bit later. The short version? If you are using Google's Gmail, pack up your crap and get the hell out. They use NON-STANDARD implementations of email protocols, which means you too could end up having horrible problems like I did... regardless of whether you are on a Mac or not... regardless of whether you upgrade to OS X Mavericks or not. Gmail is a tool of the devil, and get thee behind me, Satan.

And now, a quick pass at the new Mac OS X 10.9 you knew was coming...

OS X Mavericks Logo

"Mavericks" has broken away from the "big cat" naming conventions of its OS X predecessors, but that's not the only shift that's happening here. Bucking a trend that's existed since the dawn of computer time, the update is FREE for any Mac that can run it (which is most anything sold in 2007 and later). This is not only a clear broadside attack against Microsoft Windows, but something that's long overdue. Paid OS updates for Apple products have always been kind of lame since Apple sells every piece of hardware that runs it. And that's where they should be making their money. Keep customers freely updated and happy, and that's bound to factor into their thinking when it's time to upgrade to a new computer.

From a user's perspective, Mavericks is an interesting mix. Yes, it features a new coat of paint on some of the visuals, but there's a lot interesting stuff happening under the hood as well. Add to that a few new features and bundled apps, and it's a compelling upgrade... especially given the price tag of zero dollars. But how will it stack up against my scathing review of its predecessor, "Mountain Lion?" Let's take a look, shall we?

BUT BEFORE WE START...
Please, please, please make a current backup of your computer before you upgrade to Mavericks! Sure, Apple's OS X upgrades are usually bullet-proof and only a teeny-tiny percentage of users will have any problems... but do you want that to be you? If I hadn't backed up my machine, I would have lost all my email. But I took the time in case I need to rewind, and so should you.

And now... on with the show. My thoughts on Mavericks are in an extended entry...

→ Click here to continue reading this entry...

   

Mavericky

Posted on October 22nd, 2013

Dave!And so I installed Mac OS X Mavericks on my work Mac.

This resulted in all my email being deleted in Apple Mail. "No big deal," I thought. "I'll just rebuild my mailboxes from Gmail." Except that's impossible when Apple Mail deleted all your mail off of Gmail.

And so now all my email... absolutely everything... is gone.

Fortunately I was smart enough to make a backup before I started, so I am hoping that I can restore everything... but this is a fucking horrendous situation. Thank you so much Apple for once again releasing a piece of shit OS that's fucked me over. Hard.

UPDATE: Apparently the problem cannot be laid entirely on Apple's doorstep. Gmail uses a highly non-standard form of IMAP, and doesn't really give a shit. They want you to access Gmail from their website or official Gmail client... and with any other method you're just taking your chances. But, again, Apple is not entirely blameless because Gmail is an incredibly popular service, and they shouldn't advertise as being compatible if they really aren't... whether it's their fault or not!

UPDATE UPDATE: In all seriousness, Gmail is the work of the devil. If you are using it with ANY email client not made by Google, including Apple Mail, you should archive your mail and walk away. Immediately. I've just gone back to using my host email for a while, as I know they are using standard IMAP protocols and aren't throttling bandwidth in any way like Google does.

   

Creative

Posted on June 22nd, 2013

Dave!Yesterday I took a look at Adobe's "Creative Cloud" app. Today I'm going to look at the "Big Three" apps within Creative Cloud... Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign.

But before I go there, I have to come clean and admit that most of Adobe's updates have pretty much been "fluff" to me. Yeah, it's cool to get time-savers like the "Spot Healing Brush" and cool extras like "Perspective Drawing Tools"... but, overall, the basic stuff you need to do the job have been around for a long time and everything else they keep adding is nothing more than fluff.

My problem is that I like the fluff.

I get giddy every time Adobe drops some new nifty feature that makes my job easier... or more fun.

Unfortunately, I think we're getting to the point where the fluff is starting to affect app performance, and that's a problem. Kinda. So let me get the worst out of the way first...

   
InDesign CC
In a nutshell? Fucking horrendous. The program is practically unusable now.
Should you upgrade? Only if you enjoy excrutiating pain and endless frustration.

By the time Adobe bought out Aldus PageMaker in 1994, I had already moved on to QuarkXpress for page layout. The problem being that I hated Quark. So when Adobe came out with InDesign, I jumped... nay, I bolted to InDesign... and never looked back. Partly because I loathed Quark so badly... but mostly because I loved what Adobe had done with InDesign.

Fast forward to yesterday and I have to ask... what the fuck is Adobe doing with InDesign?

The previous CS6 update felt slower than CS5 and crashed quite a bit. But it's an absolute joy to use compared to InDesign CC, which is ungodly slow and clunky. The lag when typing text is agonizing. Moving objects is sheer torture because they... just... won't... move. Even hiding all the images and turning off every automated feature doesn't help speed things up much. I could go on, but it's pointless to do so because InDesign CC is pretty much unusable and worthless.

But before I go, a question... why the fuck hasn't Adobe gotten off their asses and hidden the temp files that have been shitting all over my hard drive since InDesign 1.0?

InDesign Temp

   
Illustrator CC
In a nutshell? Not a lot to see here, move along.
Should you upgrade? Sure. You get a few nice pieces of fluff and I haven't found a down-side.

Adobe Illustrator is my most favorite program ever. I love Illustrator. It's powerful. It's comfortable. It's friendly. And the pen tool I use constantly to draw stuff is sublime. It also doesn't hurt that I'm really, really good at it. Just so long as Adobe doesn't break something, I'm excited by any new feature they want to throw my way. This time I'm especially excited by the free-transform tool (which allows you to distort objects oh so easily, especially with a touch screen)... the "touch text" tool (which allows you to perform really slick adjustments to live text)... the smarter Smart Guides (which is much needed)... and the nifty stuff they've done with brushes (like automatically generating corners and allowing you to use images and brushes). Granted, that's not a lot. But Illustrator is so amazing it really doesn't have to be. Overall a minor, unobtrusive, and welcome upgrade.

   
Photoshop CC
In a nutshell? Pretty great fluff this time. No noticeable slowdown from the additional features.
Should you upgrade? Only if you have confirmed that any third-party plugins you need are compatible.

Photoshop is a stunning example of what people mean when they use words like "invaluable" and "essential." It is the irreplaceable tool I need to do my job. I use it most every single day and love it more than chocolate pudding. So how does Adobe make a great thing greater? Welllll... the show-stopper this time is "Shake Reduction" which is a really smart, mostly-automatic, all-new version of "Smart Sharpen." And the results are pretty impressive...

Hard Rock Shaken
Oops. In my defense, my camera didn't have image stabilization. And I was drunk.

Hard Rock Unshaken
Yes. This. With just a press of a button. Is it magic? It's Photoshop.

And, speaking of Smart Sharpen, that's been improved too.

Next up? Camera Raw now only works as a filter now for quickly working on non-RAW images, but they've added some new toys too... like auto spot removal. And a cool little feature called "Automated Upright" which will allow you to more quickly and easily straighten buildings and stuff...

Photoshop Auto Upright

When enlarging photos... especially ones with well-defined edges... I usually use a third-party enlargement plugin that has edge detection or fractals or some method to preserve details in the image. Now Photoshop has a new enlargement method called "Preserve Details." And it works pretty well...

Photoship Preserve Details
It's tough to tell at this small size, but the "Preserve Details" enlargement on the right is much better.

There are other new features, improvements, and a few tweaks... but the above three are the biggies. And I think they're worth the price of admission when taken in a lump sum. But there is a down-side. Some of my third-party plugins are not working. Most notably, Imagenomic Noiseware. Until you're sure that your essential plugins can work with Photoshop CC you might want to hold off upgrading.

   
And there you have it. A mixed bag. Mostly thanks to a jaw-droppingly shitty InDesign update.

But also because Adobe can't be bothered to make their apps work well with my Mac. Full-Screen support is broken. Still. And my Magic Mouse acts like a total spaz with accidental scrolls and crappy tracking even though it's been out for nearly four years... so I have to downgrade to my Mighty Mouse, which is much older, but does work for some reason. Yet Adobe did expand Mac Retina Display support, so what do I know?

Now that we're stuck in the Creative Cloud I'm already looking for sunnier weather. Because even though I love Adobe and their critical tools which allow me to to what I do... they simply cannot continue to unleash horrendous piles of shit like InDesign CC any more.

Ever.

When you're responsible for something "invaluable" and "essential," you have to do better than that.

   

CC

Posted on June 21st, 2013

Dave!Adobe Creative Cloud has arrived.

Adobe software upgrades are usually a reason to celebrate, but their controversial decision to make a monthly Creative Cloud membership the only way to use such popular apps as Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign has made a lot of people upset and angry. Sure you can still buy the old CS6 software, but any new stuff is members only. This kind of sucks, because if you aren't able to pay your monthly fee, any files saved in the newer CC format become useless. And, of course, to use the latest features you have to save in CC format. Catch-22.

Regardless, I thought I'd give a quick overview of the thing for anybody out there who's curious. And if you don't even know what Creative Cloud is? Hark! A promo video...

And now for this Creative Cloud business...

The bad news is that Adobe still doesn't beta test anything before release. Or, if they do, they do a really crappy job of it. Just as it's always been with their apps, I've found bugs and problems on my very first day. How the fuck Adobe can miss or overlook stuff that I run across after mere minutes of use is just beyond me. The only thing I can guess is that they know their users don't have any realistic alternative to their tools so they just don't give a shit.

Anyway...

Everything I cover will be on a Mac, because I honestly don't give a flying fuck about Windows anymore after Microsoft released the horrendous pile of shit known as "Windows 8." If you're using that hot mess of an OS, I apologize, but, damn.

Creative Cloud Logo

   
The boat-load of apps that come with a Creative Cloud membership are now managed by a menu bar extension. I thought this was a lot nicer than the previous method of hunting down Adobe's Application Manager app, but the thing is (of course) buggy and defective, so it's a mixed bag. Never mind that it doesn't update itself after an app is installed (you have to restart your Mac for that), there is a much bigger problem. In that most times when you switch between Apple's virtual desktops (called "Spaces") the damn thing activates. That's right, it just opens up for no reason at all. And this is exactly the kind of thing I'm talking about when I question whether Adobe bothers to test their shit. I ran across this problem immediately after installation. How in the hell did Adobe's beta testers not notice it? Do they ignore basic Mac OS X features? This is fucking insane. And the fact that Adobe isn't embarrassed by things like this speaks volumes for what you're getting into when you sign up for their products.

But I digress. The menu extension looks like this...

Creative Cloud Menu

It's nice that you're told if your app is up-to-date, even though it makes the menu window huge. Oddly enough, if an app is not up to date, Creative Cloud doesn't have the ability to update it. Instead it launches Adobe Updater, which is kind of crazy. Why have one tool that can handle multiple tasks when you can clutter up a hard drive with two? Or, more likely for Adobe, twenty?

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

If you are a professional, you'll want to install the new CC apps next to your old CS6 apps in case you run into some heinous bug that prevents you from getting work done. Thankfully, this is fully supported. But what if you're a rebel like me who only wants the new apps? Do you have the option of overwriting Photoshop CS6 with Photoshop CC? Of course you don't! That would be too fucking convenient, and Adobe has a reputation for shitty, inconvenient installers, so that's not going to happen.

Welcome to Adobe manual uninstallation! It's stupidly inconsistent, but that's the Adobe way!

Some apps like Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and Acrobat have uninstaller apps in their folders. That's not so bad, right? Well, sure... if they worked. The uninstaller for InDesign hanged and had to be force-quit. The unistaller for Acrobat said that Acrobat was an invalid application to uninstall. You get the picture. Though at least they have uninstallers. Apps like Bridge don't. Regardless of how much work you put into uninstalling (Mac App Cleaner helped a lot), you still end up with traces of crap scattered over your hard drive. I did a search to root out all things "Adobe" so I could trash them, but I'm sure pieces are still around somewhere. Guess reformatting my hard drive is the only way to truly clean out old Adobe apps?

After installation... which was surprisingly smooth and easy... I thought I'd just quit Creative Cloud since I wouldn't be needing it the rest of the day. But, surprise!, Creative Cloud doesn't like that because Creative Cloud doesn't fucking know if it's working on an installation or not!

Creative Cloud Quit Warning!

I suppose it's possible that Creative Cloud hands off installation to yet another app but, if that were the case, why would quitting cancel the install app? Insanity.

In what I can only describe as some kind of bizarre tease, two of Creative Cloud's non-app functions... Cloud File Storage and Cloud Typekit Fonts... are "coming soon"...

Adobe Coming Soon!

   
The third non-app function is Adobe's acquisition of "Behance" which is an online portfolio you can share with people. I'm already using Deviant Art for my portfolio, but it's free so I went ahead and signed up. Eventually I might even put something there.

And that's pretty much it for Creative Cloud.

But what about the new CC apps? Are the new features in Photoshop any good? Does Illustrator have any cool new toys? Does InDesign finally have decent performance at long last? Tune in tomorrow and see!

UPDATE! And the hits just keep coming. Turns out that Creative Cloud saying an app is "up-to-date" is not always true...

Adobe Update Update!

Shocking.

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WWDC 2013

Posted on June 10th, 2013

Dave!Alrighty then. As a Certified Apple Whore, it's required by law that I post my thoughts on all the stuff Apple talked about in the keynote speech of the 2013 World Wide Developer's Conference (watch it for yourself right here!).

So for all you Apple-haters, I apologize. Come back tomorrow and I promise to draw a monkey or something.

iPhone with iOS7
At Apple, our new visual design direction is lickable like it's 1998!

   
Apple's new iCEO, Tim Cook, is no Steve Jobs... but I really like the guy. He gives a good presentation, represents Apple well, and inspires confidence in his company, which is all that matters. Seeing Phil Schiller is always fun. The guy has a genuine enthusiasm about Apple that's hard to beat. It's good to see more from Eddy Cue, Apple's internet services guru too. But the real standout this time around? Craig Federighi, vice president of software engineering. The guy is funny as hell, and has a conversational tone when he's presenting that sucks you in and compels you love Apple and the things they do. Seriously, the keynote is totally worth watching just to see this guy at the top of his game.

MAC OS X!
It looks like most of the stuff going on here is under-the-hood improvements, which is fine. But there are a chunk of notable usability enhancements as well, so I'm hopeful that I won't have as many problems with Mavericks as I had with Mountain Lion. Unfortunately, the one thing... THE ONE THING I WANTED TO SEE... was not shown. And that's the option to keep the menu bar showing at all times with full-screen apps. I am so sick and fucking tired of dealing with the bouncing menu bar intruding when I don't want it... and having to go hunt for it when I do want it... WHICH IS ALL THE TIME!!! The clock is there. My battery status is there. My sound volume indicator is there. Just give me a check-box option to keep the menu bar showing always and I'll be fine. Anyway... on with the show...

  • OS X Mavericks. So now that Apple has run out of big cats to name their OS X releases, they're going all mavericky and using surfing locations. I can't wait for OS X Shooting Gallery, OS X Kawaihae Breakwater, and OS X Padang Padang.
  • Finder Tabs. It's about fucking time. Third-party Finder replacements have had tabs for an eternity. I thought that Apple had seen the light when they put tabs in Safari eons ago, but better late than never.
  • Tags. Am I being insane, or is this just a re-do of the "labels" feature that we've had on the Mac for decades? Sure, "tags" look easier to manage, locate, and work with, but this is hardly revolutionary stuff.
  • Multi-Display. I love it when Apple gets riotous applause for something that they should have been doing all along. Granted, Apple's handling of multiple displays has always been miles above any other OS, but it's still been pretty broken. Now, at long last, they've decided to do something about their busted shit and they bring the house down? Really? I've gave up on multiple-displays when their "Spaces" virtual desktops became useable... but I admit to being thrilled with being able to use Apple TV as a second monitor that's independent of my MacBook's screen. Finally, I can send video to my television while I keep working!
  • CPU Nap & Memory Compression. Now here is where things start to get interesting, and where Apple is innovating with something that's more than just window dressing. OS X is getting very smart about using precious battery-sucking CPU cycles only when their needed, which should really help with battery life quite nicely. And using memory compression over hard disk virtual memory is truly behind-the-scenes magic that's going to have all kinds of yummy ramifications. Bravo.
  • Safari. Not a lot to see here that's new... but Apple looks to be doing a lot of cool stuff under the hood to keep Safari ahead of the game. Speed and efficiency are always welcome in a browser because it's always running (at least on my Macs), so the battery savings should really add up.
  • iCloud Keychain. What. The. Fuck. Took. So. Damn. Long? It seems like I've been bitching about this horrendous load of bullshit forever. In fact it's just been since Apple REMOVED keychain syncing when they killed off "Mobile Me" and replaced it with iCloud... but it feels like it's been forever. It kind of pisses me off that people were clapping over this one, because it feels like Apple is being rewarded for bringing back a feature they never should have fucking removed in the first place. Oh well. Looks like we're also getting a 1Password password/credit card management replacement, which is sad for the folks at AgileBits, but it's something that Apple should have done a long time ago.
  • Notifications. At first, I was thrilled that Apple came up with a system-wide notifications solution because I had always had some problems with the third-party solution called "Growl." The honeymoon didn't last, however, because notifications were just irritating distractions that you could never really do anything with except dismiss. You had to find the app alerting you, fire it up, do your business, then go back to what you were doing when you were so rudely interrupted. Well, not any more. Notifications are actually smart enough to let you act on them directly instead of just sitting there like a dumb shit. Long overdue.
  • Auto-Updating Apps. Some people will undoubtedly bitch about this, but I am over-the-moon happy. Apps SHOULD just update themselves when there's an update. Why bother me to do this menial shit manually? Sure, you run the risk of installing an update that has a huge bug, which is why so many people wait for a while before installing new updates, but I am not one of those people. I always update immediately, so... yay. I'm assuming this can be turned off for people who don't want it.
  • Calendar. Apple has always been way, way behind the curve with their calendar app. Compared to Microsoft Outlook on Windows, "Calendar" is pretty pathetic. Sure there are third party add-ons like FantastiCal that help, but the Mac needs a serious native calendar and scheduling app. Unfortunately, we're still taking baby-steps here, but I guess any improvement is a good thing. The new "Info Card" with travel times, forecasts, and contextual info is pretty slick (though it seems a bit pale compared to the way Google handles this on their Android handsets).
  • iBooks. So... Amazon has had a Kindle reader available on the Mac for like... forever. Which means Apple is playing catch-up again. STOP APPLAUDING FOR SOMETHING APPLE SHOULD HAVE DONE WHEN iBOOKS FIRST CAME OUT!!
  • Maps. Okay, being able to send directions directly to iPhone is cool. Flyover is amazing. A new SDK to allow developers to include maps in their apps is sweet. But I'm still not convinced that Apple's Maps is worth using over Google Maps. At least not yet. Apple Maps is horrible at locating businesses, and it's still giving me fucked-up directions from time to time. Until Apple can vastly improve the data driving the app, it's always going to be second-ran to Google.

MACBOOK AIR!
I love my MacBook Pro with Retina Display. It is unquestionably the best bit of tech I have ever owned, and the size, weight, features, and speed are amazing. That being said, there are times when I'm traveling where I would really appreciate having a much smaller machine to lug around. Basically, an iPad that's a fully-functional computer when I need it. The tiny 11-inch MacBook Air has always been so close to what I wanted. Now I think it's there. All I need is a thousand dollars and I'm golden.

MAC PRO!
"Can't innovate any more, my ass! — Phil Schiller, Vice President of World-Wide Marketing.
I honestly don't know where to go with this. I finally gave up on Apple ever releasing a new Mac Pro a year ago, and am now using an iMac that I'm quite happy with. That being said, I would much rather have a "pro" machine that can tear through the bigger projects I have to work on... especially when it comes to 3-D modeling and rendering... and video editing. And here it is. Except... it's not really a "pro" machine, is it? Sure it's got all kinds of killer pro features and looks fucking amazing... BUT EXTERNAL EXPANSION ONLY?!???? WHAT THE BLOODY FUCK?!?? One of the major differences between consumer machines and pro machines is that you can open the guts and configure the thing the way you need it for the kind of work you're going to be doing. But Apple has lived up to every criticism by choosing design over functionality, and it's a load of bullshit. Because it's BADLY DESIGNED! So you can rotate it to plug things in. That sounds cool, right? But what happens when you've got a ton of crap plugged into it? How does it rotate around when you've got a dozen cables anchoring it in place? I'm not debating whether innovations like the new "tri-core cooling technology" is cool... it's frickin' awesome... but this is not the machine pros are after, and it's a really shitty thing for Apple to do to those who have been waiting so damn long for a new Pro machine to come out. When I bought my iMac, I worried I was making a mistake, and a new Mac Pro would be released that would work so much better for my needs. Well all those worries are gone. If I had the choice even today between an iMac and a Mac "Pro"... I'd go with the iMac. This is the fucking Mac Cube all over again! Did NOBODY at Apple learn a damn thing from that fiasco?

iCLOUD!
Nobody is more convinced that the future of computing lies in The Cloud than I am. Having access to all your stuff wherever you are with whatever device you have is the future. The problem is that nobody is doing it very well... including Apple. But, to their credit, they do seem to be the most interested in figuring it all out. More and more cloud functionality is coming into place. Apple's cloud services are getting more reliable and robust every day. And things like iTunes Match are demonstrating the promise of what "cloud computing" is all about... have access to my entire music and movie/television library anywhere there's internet from my Mac, iPad, or iPhone? Yes please. It's all magic, right? Well... not really. Because Apple is constantly sabotaging themselves. Want to stream your purchased movies to your Mac or iDevice? Tough shit! Apple only allows streaming to AppleTV... anything else requires that you download the whole fucking file first. Never mind that Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, and the rest of the known fucking universe allows video streaming, Apple doesn't. Will this be fixed with iOS 7 and OS X Mavericks? Who the fuck knows? Will Apple fix the myriad of problems that prevent developers from integrating iCloud into their apps? Who the fuck knows? It goes on and on. The fact that Apple is working so hard on getting The Cloud done right is meaningless if they can't see the forest for the trees. YOU HAVE TO FUCKING COMPETE! Except Apple doesn't seem to care when the competition is trouncing all over them... they're Apple, so they don't have to! Except they really do. We finally get keychain syncing back, but it almost feels like too little too late when services like Dropbox and solutions like 1Password stepped up to the plate when Apple wouldn't for so damn long. And there's the crux of everything that's wrong at Apple... THEY decide what's important to their users rather than responding to what users find important and are actually doing. I love Apple and all, but I'm just so fucking sick of this.

iTUNES RADIO!
Well, it looks a little more polished than Spotify or Pandora... and it looks a lot smarter, even if the details are sketchy (how many skips do you get an hour?). I will probably use it. I will probably discover new music. I will probably end up buying a shitload more music than I am now. So, mission accomplished, I guess. The fact that iTunes Match subscribers don't have to deal with ads is kind of a nice bonus.

CLOUDY iWORK!
Oh... so Apple hasn't killed iWork on the Mac after all! It's just so hard to tell, what with them NOT UPDATING IT FOREVER. Just like with Aperture, buying iWork almost immediately makes you feel like you've purchased abandonware. Sure they'll fix a big or add a little fluff every once in a while (NEW! Documents in The Cloud!)... but it's hard to have faith with Apple as a serious app developer when they don't maintain a consistent release schedule. Years can go by with no major release or update, so you just never know. And here we are at long last... iWork is getting updated. Or is it? Because the focus seems to be on competing with Google Docs with a browser-based solution. Well, I have to tell you, this has me worried. Very worried. And it all comes down to this... will future releases of iWork (the app) be limited by iWork (the web app)? Is an Apple software engineer going to say "Here's a great idea for iWork Numbers... won't it be cool to give our users this functionality?" Only to be greeted with "Oh shit, we can't add that feature... we'd never be able to implement that in a web browser!" Well, I just don't know. But that would suck. And it wouldn't be surprising from Apple. All that being said? How frickin' amazing was that demo of iWork in the Cloud?

iOS 7!
Well, here it is... the moment the world has been waiting for... the next generation of Apple's iOS. The operating system which powers gazillions of iPhones, iPods, iPads, and whatever new iDevices Apple comes up with (iWatch?). I'll reserve comment on the new design visuals until I've actually seen them up-close-and-personal, but my initial reaction is mixed. I like the flatness of it all, which feels modern and forward-thinking. The typography and the stark, clean layouts are stellar. But the bright candy colors that I thought were banished with the old iMac aesthetic feel more "dated and tired" than "retro cool." Yet... Apple is nothing if not a trend-setter, so maybe it's a look that's making a comeback. I guess we'll find out this Fall. If I were to summarize, I'd say that I like most of what I'm seeing... but not everything. If nothing else, I think it's a consistent visual language that competitors lack will help keep Apple at the top of the heap.

  • Skeuomorphic. When the iPhone first debuted, there was really nothing else like it. The thing could become new devices just by running an app. To assist people with understanding this, Apple's designers used skeuomorphic design. This is what they call it when the calendar looks like an actual desktop calendar with leather binding and stitching... a voice recorder looks like a physical recording device with switches and knobs... and so on. At the time, I didn't mind it. But, as time wore on, it made Apple look incredibly dated. Fortunately, Jony Ive and his team have finally gotten rid of this crap so that iOS7 looks sleek and modern.
  • Control Center. I'm running out of ways to say "about fucking time." It was insane... in-sane that you had to navigate through an app and two menus just to adjust brightness, turn on Bluetooth, or whatever. Now everything is just a swipe up from the screen.
  • Notification Center. I was scared to death that Apple was going to copy Microsoft's "Live Tiles" which I fucking hate to bombard you with information that is ultimately no more helpful than the little red badges Apple is already using. Fortunately, Apple is smarter than that, and just tweaked Notification Center with a new look and some new toys. Thank. God.
  • Multitasking. And here is a situation where I can fully appreciate Apple taking their time to get it right rather than blasting out some battery-sucking "LET'S MULTI-TASK EVERYTHING!" bullshit that renders your phone useless half-way through the day. Nope, Apple's approach is to give us a "smart multi-tasker" that learns how you use your phone and assigns CPU threads appropriately. The interface is nothing new... looking a lot like the "cards" that came from the ill-fated Palm OS, and what's been available for eons with jail-breaking hacks... but it's very nice to have something so polished that's available to everybody.
  • Photos. The demo of the new "Photos" started out by showing how the average iPhone user has a mess of thousands of photos piled up that makes it tough to find anything. "We've all been there?" Yes. Yes we have. Now with "moments" the organization is automatic and oh so easy. I am forever digging through my photos, and this is welcome relief.
  • Camera. Oog. I'm not so sure about this. Swiping to switch between four cameras actually seems slighty more confusing than the little photo/video switch we have now. But I'm certainly willing to give Apple's designers the benefit of the doubt. Hopefully it will make it less likely to accidentally be in video mode when you're trying to shoot a photo. The filters are a nice addition if you like that kind of thing (and, obviously, a lot of people do), but I'll still be using a more feature-rich third-party app for photo manipulation.
  • Air Drop. Local file sharing... brilliantly realized. Though I have to admit that my favorite part of the demo was Craig Federighi's slam on Samsung's inelegant "tap-to-share" solution. The bad news is that you have to have an iPhone 5 to take advantage of the peer-to-peer WiFi networking that makes it possible but... still... wow. And, oh yeah, the other drop-sharing options are nice too. I just hope they work better than their current "share sheets" which don't post my photos to Facebook or Twitter half the time I use them.
  • Safari. Any improvements in speed are welcome... but the new tab-browsing, which is so much better than what we have now, is what makes this upgrade worth it.
  • Mail. Yeah, it's all visually beautiful and shit but, if the back-end is still totally fucking crap, what difference does it make? I am so sick and tired of disappearing emails... emails that are never delivered... mail that never deletes... the hideous amount of time it takes for the app to check for new mail... the list goes on and on. Something as critical as frickin' EMAIL deserves a bullet-proof user experience and rock-solid operation in addition to a pretty interface. If Apple can't deliver the whole package, they should just get the fuck out of the email business. Seriously.
  • Weather. So pretty. And adding the time zones to each location is long overdue.
  • Messages. Again, you can beautify everything as much as you'd like... but if messages isn't reliable, then it doesn't matter. I am still having issues with disappearing messages when syncing between iPhone/iPad/Mac, and it drives me insane. Blackberry Messenger is apparently coming to iPhone. Their rock-solid reliability could be an interesting option if Apple doesn't get their shit together.
  • Siri. I may be one of the few people who actually likes Siri, uses her often, and thinks it's an invaluable part of the iPhone experience. That being said, there is so much room for improvement. Siri can be stupid as a box of rocks with simple requests that she should be able to handle. Even stuff she's programmed to handle can go badly wrong if conditions aren't exactly as expected... such as a hiccup in your internet connection while driving through a parking garage. This is an area where Apple should literally spare no expense, because it could be the one area where iPhone completely trounces the competition. Pairing with Bing to get deeper search results and compete with Google was smart. But Apple needs to be going so much further than that. Give us all the Star Trek computer experience of our fantasies, and THEN you can take a minute to catch your breath. Until then, spend more money. Hire more people. Exceed our every expectation. If you don't, your competition will, and you can't catch up to perceptual magic.

PARALLAX!
Okay. There's one thing I saw in the keynote that has completely haunted me about the new design, and I love it more than sliced bread. The new iOS is multi-plane display capable...

IPhone Parallax Multi-Planar Display

This basically means that everything is set on three-dimensional layers, so as you move your phone around, the different planes move to communicate depth. Allowing you to "see around" stuff on upper layers as the camera is rotated. In video games and animation, this is called "parallax scrolling" (or something like that), and it's some visual trickery that really pays off. The idea of having such lush visuals on my frickin' PHONE is pretty spectacular. It's the little touches like this that makes Apple be Apple, and keeps Apple Whores such as myself in a constant state of geek heaven.

Annnnnnd... the end.

For now. As I get a better look at all this stuff, I'm sure I'll have more to say.

   

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