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  • Latest Round of Apple News

    Posted on Nathan Parker Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    This topic contains 6 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  Nathan Parker 1 month, 1 week ago.

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    • #1870632 Reply

      Nathan Parker
      AskWoody_MVP

      Hi everyone! Next week is my final week for my intensive Latin classes, then I’ll be returning to a more regular weekly post as I have in the past. Since I had a little time off this week due to the July 4th holiday, here is a random bit of Apple-related news from me.

      First of all, I’ll be signing up for an Apple News+ trial on July 9th (same day my iCloud storage renews so I can keep all Apple services billing the same day), and shortly after my Latin class ends, I’ll be putting Apple News+ through the paces and offer an official review. As soon as Apple Card is released, I’ll likely be signing up for it as well and offering an official review on it. I’m also testing a handful of Mac apps I’ll be reviewing coming up.

      WWDC 2019 Coverage

      I finally had a moment this week to watch the WWDC 2019 video. I did learn more about Apple’s major announcements from WWDC than I have by reading websites alone. The enhancements in tvOS look interesting (although minimal). watchOS has some great new enhancements coming I look forward to trying out. I’m thoroughly excited about iOS and iPadOS. Dark Mode looks great, the new performance and apps enhancements will be nice, and I am excited about the new iPad-centric features. I’m also excited about macOS Catalina, especially Sidecar and Project Catalyst apps. The new Mac Pro and XDR Display is luxurious, but overkill for most users, although WWDC did leave me wanting to get my feet wet with Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro on my iMac Pro. The new development enhancements with ARKit and Swift UI look interesting as well, although the more game-centric stuff is less of an interest of mine.

      Jony Ive Departs Apple

      Apple announced this week that Jony Ive is departing Apple to start his own design firm. I’m not going to the extreme that some are stating that “Apple is doomed” (Apple survived the passing of Steve Jobs and the departure of other high-profile executives), but I’m also not in the camp that is glad to see Ive go either. My analysis of the situation is, that overall, I’ve enjoyed most of Ive’s designs, and even in areas where I originally disliked a few of Ive’s designs, I generally came around to ultimately enjoying them. I am glad that Ive will still be consulting with Apple in his new design firm, and on one hand, I am glad that Ive has a chance to branch out to working with other companies as well, although on the other hand, I am a little disappointed in his departing Apple. While I don’t think (and I certainly hope) there are no major hardware changes at Apple with Ive’s departure, I am slightly disappointed that Ive won’t be able to focus all of his energy on designs for Apple and hope those who fill his shoes internally will still produce quality designs for Apple (although Apple can still receive Ive’s wisdom from outside when need be). Now that Apple is entering more of a services market instead of only focusing on products, I can see where Ive may feel that his design role is not as major of a factor in services, although Apple’s services have generally been an acquired taste, rockier from the start, and took time to “get right”, with the major selling point of Apple’s services being privacy. Ensuring as Apple does more with services that they get the design of their services as solid as they have with hardware is important, so design does matter from a services standpoint as it does from a product standpoint. Additionally, Apple will still need to keep innovating with hardware, as they’re still the premiere computer, smartphone, tablet, smartwatch, and hardware manufacturer around.

      Keyboard How-To Articles

      I was on the phone with Apple Support earlier today, and they sent me a couple of articles on keyboard how-to’s for the Mac and iOS. Here they are below for everyone’s benefit:

      Bluetooth Keyboards for Macs

      iOS Keyboards

       Flotato Web Apps for Mac

      Finally, I’ve been testing a neat little app recently called Flotato, that allows me to turn any website into a standalone Mac app. I’ve tried it with a few enterprise weather apps I use for work, and so far, they’re working great. Performance is zippier over using a web browser, and I can easily pin the apps to my Mac’s dock or launch them through Spotlight (there isn’t an easy way to pin them to Launchpad yet). I’ll likely turn over frequently-used web apps into Flotato apps when I need quick-access to them, then use Safari bookmarks or pinned tabs for other stuff. I’m using the free version at the moment, although I’ll likely upgrade to the paid version around the end of the month.

      That wraps it up this weekend! See you next weekend for a return to a regular column.

      Nathan Parker

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    • #1870967 Reply

      Ascaris
      AskWoody_MVP

      Some of the commenters over on The Reg have laid the blame over some of the negative aspects of Apple design at Ive’s feet.  Things like the drive for thinness that was so extreme that it birthed the butterfly keyboard; the port choices that made Apple into a dongle company that also sells computers and mobile devices, in the words of ExtremeTech’s Joel Hruska; the touchbar that was an answer to a question nobody asked; the trashcan Mac Pro, that kind of thing. I’m not enough of an Apple watcher to know how much of this is really a function of Ive’s influence, but it seems to me that if his status was so high at Apple that no one dared criticize his designs, it could be an improvement to replace him with someone who was a mere mortal, one who can be questioned.

      I’ve never been a big fan of Apple, but now that Microsoft has gotten so pushy with Windows, Apple has become my recommendation (with reservations) for people who just want a computer or tablet to use without having to be techies.  For techies, of course, or just people who are a little more technically minded, I would suggest Linux, but they’re less likely to be asking an opinion anyway.

      With Microsoft being as it is, Apple is in a great position to expand the Mac’s reach, if it is still interested in that market.  It’s things like the butterfly keyboard, the super long wait time for a replacement during a battery recall (which is itself a function of the way Mac laptops were designed to be unrepairable), and the i9 units that throttled so much that i7s performed better (and the solution was a firmware update to run the CPU right to the edge of its temp tolerance, creating more heat and potentially shortening the life of the unit rather than give the thing decent cooling, which would add weight and thickness) that make Mac hardware, supposedly the strong point of the Mac platform, into a liability rather than an asset.

      As long as Apple persists in trying to make their devices hard to repair, I would never buy one personally, and it is only because of the sorry state of Windows that I would recommend them to others.  I would give MacOS (or whatever they would call it) a try if Apple were to release it as a standalone product, but as long as I have to buy Mac hardware in its current form to use it, that’s not going to work for me.

      Apple could fix this and still have huge margins and profit… I don’t begrudge them that.  I just want products that are going to last, in terms of update support from the company (5-6 years isn’t enough for the prices Apple charges, especially since that clock starts ticking when the product is released, not when I buy it), in terms of hardware longevity and durability, and in terms of repairability and parts availability if something were to go wrong after the warranty period has ended.  Lenovo, Acer, HP, Asus, Dell, etc., all have parts stores where one can order OEM parts for their computers, but Apple not only won’t sell those parts, they also do all they can to prevent anyone outside of Apple from repairing them.  They want the repairs to be almost as expensive as buying a new Mac, but that means they have to prevent independent shops from repairing the things cheaper than Apple is willing to.

      If Apple were to reverse that and start having repair policies like any of the other top computer manufacturers listed here, I’d certainly consider them.  I can’t say for sure that I would get one, as I don’t know whether or not I would like MacOS.  I have never tried it.  Maybe I’d hate it, maybe I’d love it, or it may be something in between.  There’s never been a reason for me to find out.

      I do hope Apple sticks with Tim Cook’s prior statement about how converging iOS and MacOS would be a bad idea that invariably results in an inferior experience on both platforms.  He was right on the money, and I have cited him many times in discussions over what’s wrong with Windows 10.  It looks like Apple is beginning to move in a convergence direction, and that’s unfortunate.  We need an alternative to Windows 10, not another one.

       

      Group "L" (KDE Neon User Edition 5.16.4).

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    • #1871057 Reply

      OscarCP
      AskWoody Plus

      I suspect that the drive to sleeker, ultra-thin and, consequently, ultra-light laptops is probably,  at least in part, explained by the desired to provide “road warriors” and such with ultra-portable laptops, somehow more suitable for their work, even with their minimal design, that iPads or iPhones. Assuming this is so, the resulting hardware, of course, offers no advantages but inconveniences when using the same laptops, for lack of alternatives, to those of us who are not traveling salespeople.

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    • #1871170 Reply

      Nathan Parker
      AskWoody_MVP

      The main design choice I wasn’t a fan of Ive’s at first was iOS 7. I couldn’t stand it originally, to the point I had seriously considered moving to Android. I grew accustomed to it, and overall, I’m used to it, although I’d still like to see a few refinements.

      I do wish Apple would pull back on the obsession for thinness, as sometimes it is counter-intuitive. I own an old 12″ PowerBook, and even at four pounds and with a bunch of ports on the side, it was still super easy to carry versus the 17″ Sony I had before it, and even though it’s a little over an inch thick, it was the ideal balance between portability and ports. Apple can still ship compact devices without sacrificing ports and force a ton of dongles, if they would pull back on thinness. I did hear Apple may be ditching the Butterfly Keyboard which I hope does happen.

      In terms of repairability, it would be nice to see more easily serviceable Macs, although I’ve generally had fewer hardware issues with Macs, or if they occurred, they occurred during the warranty period. With Best Buy Apple certified for repairs now, that gives me another option to get Macs repaired closer than an Apple Store.

      In terms of macOS on non-Apple hardware, that’ll never happen due to Apple’s tight hardware/software integration (it’s Linux for Windows Wonks looking for an alternative to Macs for PC hardware, although macOS is based on BSD UNIX for anyone who wants to throw BSD UNIX on a system).

      In terms of macOS and iOS not converging, I see Apple continuing that route. They will add some iOS-style features to the Mac, plus some iOS apps will be able to be run on a Mac using Project Catalyst in Catalina, but the two platforms converging is unlikely. They’ve seen the mess it is on Windows, plus the two serve two different needs. They’re likely to continue the route even to the extreme of sometimes going overboard on keeping the two separate (such as instead of a touch screen Mac, they did the gimmicky touch bar).

      Nathan Parker

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      • #1872258 Reply

        Ascaris
        AskWoody_MVP

        I realize that Apple will not be releasing MacOS as a standalone.  Even though Macs are x86/64 these days (though rumors are that this may change too), Apple has achieved much of the “just works” for which its products are known by having a limited set of hardware they need to support, where it is feasible to test all of the combinations of hardware out in the wild, and to craft the drivers (and even the OS) to work specifically on the hardware they offer.

        Windows has long had both the strength and the burden of being the OS that any OEM can slap on any hardware– high quality and low quality alike.  In the Windows 95 days, Windows got quite a reputation for crashing at the drop of a hat, but much of that crashiness was not the result of Microsoft code.  There was a lot of bad hardware around, not to mention bad drivers for both good and bad hardware.  It was the early days of Plug-and-Play, which all of us “in the business” quickly came to call “Plug-and-Pray.”

        The ISA bus was never intended to be self-configuring as was the PCI bus, and the current hardware at the time usually included both types of slots.  The motherboards of the era typically had the hard drive (IDE) and floppy controllers/adapters on the motherboard, but sound cards and dial-up modems were usually the ISA type, including the infamous “Winmodems.”

        Any instability in hardware or bugs in firmware or drivers could easily bring down the whole thing, and frequently, they did.  Current video cards at the time used PCI, so the bus was designed with self-configuration in mind, but the caveats about hardware, firmware, and driver quality still applied.  Everyone was buying a computer to use this hot new “World Wide Web” thing, and with PCs being seen by many as commodity items, a lot of people bought cheap, then blamed Microsoft when it crashed.  It soon became a known thing that Windows was fussy with hardware and crashy, so even if a person who bought cheap was inclined to place the blame at his own decision to go low-dollar, the common knowledge that Windows was bad would probably make him think twice about that.

        If Apple was to step into the “boxed operating system” market, it would instantly increase the MacOS/OSX/whatever they would call the new version market share, but it would also expose them to the “anything goes” hardware market that has been problematic for MS, and that goes against everything that makes the Mac what it is.  Apple has primarily been a hardware company that sells their products with an in-house OS preinstalled, whereas Microsoft was a software company that sold its OS for lots of manufacturers to preinstall… every one of them a manufacturer that the software vendor had no direct control over.

        Microsoft’s recent interest in Linux has given me pause, and what Apple has done as far as using an open-source platform as the foundation of their OS invites comparison.  I am wary, and I don’t think for a moment that MS is acting in any interest other than their own, but I also don’t find much reason to believe the knee-jerk “Microsoft is out to destroy Linux!” fears.  MS is less concerned about Windows than at any point since Windows has existed, so why make the move to kill Linux now, when they’re making money selling Azure services to Linux devs?  It doesn’t make sense.

        When Apple went to the open source community to find a kernel for OSX, they probably considered Linux.  It’s more popular than BSD, and has more hardware support.  It also has the GPL, whereas BSD has the much more closed source friendly BSD license.  Given that Apple is a closed source shop, the BSD choice must immediately have held appeal, and if Apple is only going to support a limited selection of hardware and write the drivers themselves, the greater hardware support of Linux wouldn’t matter.

        Microsoft, though, is still a software company first when it comes to the OS market.  They still have to make Windows run on just about any x86 hardware in existence.  BSD has that nice license, but the relative lack of hardware support means a lot more work if it is going to work with everything that regular, NT-based Windows works on.  Linux works on nearly everything, but there’s that “cancer” of the GPL.  There are ways around it… Microsoft has a competent and formidable legal department, but even then there are likely to be issues if they were to really try to build a commercial Windows on top of Linux.

        Two things may be at play there.  First, Google has shown with Chrome that open-sourcing the product doesn’t mean less control, or that someone will strip out all of the bits that serve the corporate interests and undercut them with their own product.  There are de-Googled Chromium derivatives, but most people use the actual Chrome.  They perceive it as the “real” version, the better one, with the full feature set, like the Google translator.  The code’s open source, but it serves Google just the same as if it were closed.

        Second, MS has no doubt observed that lawsuits against Platinum members of the Linux Foundation by lesser members tend to just go away.  If Microsoft becomes (or is perceived as) a genuine benefactor to the Linux community, they will likely be able to get away with more than if they kept their hostile stance.  Suddenly, MS loves Linux.

        It all just fits so neatly with the idea that they may be exploring a Linux-based Windows.  They may not decide to do it, but I bet they’re at least considering it, especially in light of how they’ve done just this same kind of thing with Edge.

        The reasons behind the development of WSL are self-evident if you consider the success MS has had with Azure and Linux devs.  Anything they can do to make it easier to develop for Azure is obviously advantageous.  They wouldn’t have to become a Platinum member of the Linux Foundation for that, though, nor would they have to buy GitHub or open source a few token (and largely meaningless) programs.  There seems to be another motive behind that, and “they’re trying to extinguish Linux” doesn’t fit.

        Until then, and maybe even after if MS continues their current converged design trajectory, Apple’s MacOS remains the most popular currently-developed OS that is designed specifically for the PC form factor (including laptops), and that puts it at a natural advantage over Windows for me (as a PC-oriented user). It’s a very weird thing for me, as one who has preferred Microsoft and Windows to Apple Mac since 1990, to suddenly find that the “other” side is more in line with what I consider the “right” way in terms of UI/OS design than the side I have been on.

         

        Group "L" (KDE Neon User Edition 5.16.4).

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    • #1872520 Reply

      cptomes
      AskWoody Plus

      Linux Tech Tips just published a YouTube video on their results creating a Hackintosh that’s more powerful than an iMac Pro…  Choose the right hardware and Mojave will just work.  Not for the faint of heart and not for the average user.  If Apple published a stripped out version of macOS “El Capitan Light” with generic drivers for generic hardware they would instantly have another double digit bump in market share.  Lots of c2d machines out there running win7 or older and people would jump at it.

      Hey look! Another Feature Update!

      You mean I shouldn't click Check for Updates?

      Why does it keep saying "Something Happened"?

      2 users thanked author for this post.
    • #1872863 Reply

      Nathan Parker
      AskWoody_MVP

      I agree that many of the issues with Windows have to do with poor hardware and bad hardware combinations that can bring everything down (especially in the Windows 95 days). I also do see Microsoft warming up to Linux so they can push it on Azure for developers. I see both Microsoft and Apple attempting to do more with services (Microsoft with Azure and Office 365 and Apple with consumer-oriented services) so they can branch out of their core focuses and continue to bring in consistent profit margins.

      There are ways to make Hackintoshes, and I know some people who’ve pulled them off. Apple will, of course, balk at it and not bless it since they want to sell customers a high-end Mac hardware to go with macOS. The only time they’re going to get out of the comfort zone and offer apps on other platforms (like they’re doing with iTunes, Apple Music, and Apple TV) is to increase their services revenue and to attempt to draw people into the Apple ecosystem.

      Nathan Parker

    Please follow the -Lounge Rules- no personal attacks, no swearing, and politics/religion are relegated to the Rants forum.

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