Opinion November 9

AAPL: 120.57

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When I wrote last week’s opinion piece on five hardware lessons Apple could learn from Android manufacturers, a few of you wondered why I hadn’t added wireless charging to the list.

Those who know me might be especially surprised. I hate cables, and indeed went to the trouble of having a bespoke desk made so that cables could be rendered almost invisible. I’ve also been known to favor hi-tech approaches over low-tech ones just because I’m a gadget guy, so why wasn’t I calling on Apple to introduce wireless charging … ?  expand full story

Opinion November 6

AAPL: 121.06

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While the new fourth-generation Apple TV advances Apple’s entertainment box in many areas including universal search, Siri  input and a whole App Store for the first time, much of week one with Apple TV 4 has been about what you lose when moving from Apple TV 2 or 3.

The list is uncomfortably packed for a device that had three years to advance since its predecessor hit the market: missing Bluetooth keyboard and iPhone/iPad Remote app support for easier text input, Apple Watch’s built-in Remote app doesn’t recognize it yet, the Podcasts app hasn’t moved over, and the Photos app is exactly the same (no iCloud Photo Library) despite the newer iCloud Music Library feature making the cut for Apple Music.

There’s also the oddity of each channel being pre-installed on older Apple TVs while new Apple TVs ship with only iTunes, Music, and Photos apps installed. If I were gifting a family member a new Apple TV — something I’m sure will be popular during the holidays — I’d prefer essential channels like Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, and HBO to come pre-installed, albeit optionally deletable, to make the experience friendlier. There’s also the lack of one universal sign-in process between multiple channels so that’s a big setup challenge. I had hoped Apple would tackle this with the new box but instead its just like the prior Apple TV experience.

That being said, my biggest critique and one I haven’t seen acknowledged nearly enough this week is the drop in usability of popular video apps, like the ones that used to be pre-installed on the third-gen Apple TV as ‘channels’. Simpler, list-focused versions of apps like Netflix and Hulu were just easier to use than current versions on the new Apple TV… expand full story

Theo Levey’s early iPhone 6 render wasn’t perfect, but it was usefully close

Reporting on future Apple products isn’t easy — it’s actually one of the biggest challenges in the world of technology journalism. Back in April 2011, The Verge’s predecessor (This Is My Next) ran a much-discussed report on the “iPhone 5,” which was claimed to be teardrop-shaped, with an enlarged, gesture-sensitive Home Button, and a bezel-less 3.7″ screen. NFC, inductive charging, and a speaker and sensors hidden behind the screen were also said to be possibilities for the new iPhone. Not surprisingly, the report lit up the Internet, generating a lot of attention (and over 500 comments) for a fledgling web site. Though some people were skeptical, accessory makers actually took the report seriously enough to manufacture cases matching the claims.

As it turned out, the report was wrong — very wrong. Exactly none of those features actually arrived in either the “iPhone 4S” Apple announced in October 2011, or the real “iPhone 5” that debuted in September 2012. The report also didn’t forecast actual iPhone design trends in any useful way. From my standpoint, that’s the critical difference between most Apple rumors and the ones that are actually worth caring about: some early information, even if it’s imprecise, can help you make a better buying decision about an Apple product today or six months down the line.

A small group of nitpickers — notably including people who are fed information directly by Apple, off-the-record — have been taking shots at people who report independently-researched rumors, attempting to undermine the value of big, “not from Apple” scoops versus small, “not (officially) from Apple” tidbits. This may be an inside baseball topic that most people really don’t care about, but it’s worth at least considering for a moment…

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I know, it’s almost a blasphemous headline, and I can feel the comments system bracing itself for impact even before anyone has read a word of my arguments. Especially as Apple has engaged in lengthy lawsuits against Samsung for copying its own features.

But while Apple doesn’t blindly copy, it does learn from other companies, and it does so all the time. Indeed, you could say it’s one of the key things that sets Apple apart in the tech world: it doesn’t scrabble to be first to market with new technology. Apple instead sits back and watches, looks at what other companies do and then figures out how to create a better version.

Touch ID is a classic example. Fingerprint readers have been around forever in laptops, and Motorola put one into a smartphone – the Atrix – way back in 2011. But early fingerprint readers were inconvenient, requiring you to scroll your finger across them, and unreliable. Apple waited until it could do the job properly.

So what are some of the things Android manufacturers have done that I think Apple could usefully learn from … ?  expand full story

Opinion November 4

AAPL: 122.00

Stock Chart

Feature Request is a new regular 9to5Mac series where authors offer their opinion on how to improve popular hardware or software products.

A lot of the apps on the new Apple TV bring similar experiences as on iOS to the big screen, but we’re bound to see some unique apps designed specifically for the living room that perhaps didn’t make a lot of sense on smaller or mobile devices. One example of this and my first Feature Request: Airbnb should add a concierge-style experience for guests through its new Apple TV app. expand full story

Opinion October 30

AAPL: 119.50

Stock Chart

After a rough start and a mixed early experience, I did finally press the button on Apple Music – a decision I’m grateful for at present as my main Mac is away for repair. This diary piece is as much about that experience as Apple Music, but I will get to music, I promise …

I love a large screen on a laptop, so have stuck doggedly to my 17-inch MacBook Pro, despite the fact that it’s now four years old. It’s a maxed-out late-2011 machine that has been very heavily upgraded over the years, with 16GB RAM and 2TB of SSD storage, and consequently still offers decent performance.

Until recently …  expand full story


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