A few years ago my HP printer died when I replaced the inks. The seventh most read post is about my dead printer. My printer is dead!.
I haven’t done a podcast choice for a while now, but the sixth most popular post on the blog was the second in the series, Podcast Choice #02 – Friday Night Comedy from BBC Radio 4. Quite a popular post as people seem to keep wanting to have my copies of the shows I have downloaded over the years through iTunes.
Dropped into the Apple Store on my way home, this was an unplanned stop, as due to traffic problems I took the opportunity for a break to take a look at the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 plus.
As you might imagine the shop was quite crowded on launch day, but as it was early evening I was able to try out and get a feel for each of the new iPhone 6s.
I did think when I picked up the first iPhone 6 that it was the plus model, as it felt quite large and comparing it to the iPhone 5 it looked much bigger. I then realised that this was not the plus model, just the 4.7” iPhone 6. I then realised how much bigger the 5.5” iPhone 6 Plus is!
It is huge, not as big as some of the Samsung phones, it felt very much like an iPad mini. The 5.5” screen certainly gives you a lot more screen real estate than you get with the 4” screen of the iPhones 4 and 5. I can see how such a device will allow you to increase productivity, and is more usable.
I have read though that unless apps have been optimised for the iPhone 6 Plus they don’t look quite right. I am sure most developers will get round to changing their apps at some point (if they haven’t done already).
I am less sure about the design, the thinness does make it feel lighter than it probably is, but the curves seem more of a backward step, quite retro. The gold version looked like and felt like my Google Nexus One, more brown than gold.
Overall the new iPhone 6 looks and feels much more a response to what has been happening in the smartphone market than something new and innovative, that will make other companies sit up and take notice. The original iPhone and iPad, though not the first touch screen smartphone or tablet, were from a design and technical perspective innovative and game changers. The iPhone 6 is an interesting evolution of the iPhone, but it isn’t a game changer.
This is an amusing video on where Apple in 1987 thought they would be in 1997.
Interesting even back in 87, Woz said:
“A computer that talks is no big deal. A computer that listens? That’s a breakthrough!”
Remind you of Siri?
I also like the fact that there are little nods to the future that they guessed at, such as BBC 3.
The video also shows of VistaMac. It looks like Google Glass and take a floppy disk, though the disk is reminiscent of an SD card.
In many ways there are some things they got right, back in 1997, we were all using desktop computers, there weren’t many laptops (or tablets) around and most phones only allowed you to make calls or send SMS. The move to mobile, and connectivity means that the way we work, play and learn has changed dramatically in the last ten years.
The reality was in 1997 Apple was a small computer niche specialist company, they hadn’t changed that much since 1987. In 1997 things did start to change. It was the year that Steve Jobs came back to Apple and within a few years we had the iMac and the iPod. Apple have not looked back. Since then, Apple have grown and changed and dominate the hi end smart phone and tablet markets.
Am I missing the innovation everyone holds Apple in such high regard for? All I am seeing is reaction to what is happening elsewhere but no real drive or innovation. The latest updates are in reaction to Dropbox, user keyboards, messaging, widgets/homescreen, etc.
Apple have always been like that, even under Steve Jobs.
What they do best is take ideas from other people and make them really work well for users.
Steve Jobs famously said in 1996:
Picasso had a saying — ‘good artists copy; great artists steal’ — and we have always been shameless about stealing great ideas.
The Dynabook was first revealed in 1973, the HP TC1100 was a fantastic tablet (let down by a poor OS implementation), so when Apple released the iPad in 2010, this wasn’t innovation, this was reinvention of an existing form factor, and what they did was make it work and work well.
There were a few music download services prior to iTunes, but it was iTunes that made it mainstream.
There were many different mp3 players, from companies such as Creative, but it was the iPod which turned the mp3 player from a geeky product to a mainstream need.
The iPhone was, though innovative, most of the touchscreen phones before were clunky and didn’t work very well. What Apple did was take the touch interface to the next level, reinvention again, really.
Even Steve Jobs said reinvent when he announced the iPhone.
An iPod, a phone, an internet mobile communicator… these are NOT three separate devices! And we are calling it iPhone! Today Apple is going to reinvent the phone. And here it is.
The 11″ MacBook Air is a fantastic piece of kit, but before then we had the Asus EeePC mini-notebooks, and Sony for years were making innovative VAIO laptops.
So following the WWDC keynote where we saw Apple release their version of Dropbox, the iCloud Drive (which replaces iCloud, which replaced MobileMe, which replaced the iDisk!). The previous versions were all a bit “rubbish” in comparison to Dropbox, so it will be interesting to see how iCloud Drive works against Dropbox.
Store any type of file in iCloud and access it on any device. With iCloud Drive, you can organize your files in the cloud the way you like, create as many folders as you want, and add tags to find files faster.
This is a great example of how Apple continues to copy what others do, but also demonstrates that don’t always get it right.
Another example from WWDC is the possibility of using third party keyboards.
iOS 8 brings the biggest changes to the keyboard since the very ﬁrst iPhone. Now you can tap to choose the perfect suggestion for your next word. And for the ﬁrst time, third-party keyboards will be available. Typing as you know it might soon be a thing of the past.
Third party keyboards have been a feature of Android phones for a fair while now, this is another example that shows Apple rarely creates something totally new, but takes on board ideas from elsewhere.
In my opinion what makes Apple a success is they focus on the customer experience, learning from what others do and then improve it.
Lastly a quote from Steve
Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations.
Well maybe I should have been expecting it to do that, but my four year old iMac last night decided to throw a wobbly and fail to restart after crashing out.
Despite some attempts to start in safe mode, reset the PRAM, in the end I started it off in Firewire Target Disk Mode and connected it to another Mac. The result it looks like the hard drive is on the edge of failure. This is annoying as this was only recently replaced under AppleCare. My iMac is now out of AppleCare, so I am not sure what to do. The SuperDrive has also stopped working properly, well maybe it stopped working ages ago, I rarely use it, so perhaps I didn’t notice.
I am not sure what to do next, I do want to still use the iMac, but should I repair the drive or look to replace it. I would like to probably upgrade it to an SDD and then replace the SuperDrive with a standard HDD, but not sure if there is someone who can do that for me, or how easy it is to do myself.
I do get very disappointed with people who get so agitated by fanboyism, so much so that they ignore potential solutions as they are not made by their favourite “manufacturer”.
Often I get accused of being an Apple fanboy, which is not too surprising when I sit there at an event with my iPhone, Macbook and iPad. I must be, I am using all Apple equipment…
I use what I think is the best equipment for me in the context of budget, where I am, what I need to do, etc…
What I don’t do is constantly defend Apple regardless of the context. Likewise I don’t “attack” other companies on their products. It doesn’t achieve anything and isn’t helpful.
So what is the difference between constructive criticism and fanboyism?
If you hate everything that Apple makes then you are a fanboy. If you would never touch Windows or Android, then you are a fanboy. If someone criticises a product and the criticism is a valid criticism, and you defend that product regardless, then you are a fanboy. If you choose one company for everything you use (and importantly recommend too) and then attack everyone else for using different things then you are probably a fanboy.
I remember back in the first few years of the 2000s I was telling people about how I liked using OS X, but was told many a time that we shouldn’t be using OS X in education as Windows XP was the industry standard and used by businesses, therefore education should only use OS X. What I found rather amusing was when it came to choosing tablets, those same people who said we must use the “industry standard” of Windows XP, said we shouldn’t use iPads as they were a closed proprietary product… even though by most measures they were the industry standard! The true colours of those people as Microsoft “fanboys” came out.
There isn’t anything really wrong with choosing products from a single company, the reality is if you then spend time attacking choices by others, or defending the company’s products all the time, then that’s fanboyism.
At the end of the day, I will choose and use products that make my life easier, I will write and talk about those products, and I will also make valid criticisms about products I and others use. I am writing this blog article (in draft) using a MacBook and Pages (from Apple). I will publish it online using WordPress (open source) and using a 3G connection via an Android powered Google Nexus One phone. I know people will be able to read it using a variety of platforms and browsers.