Archives for posts with tag: apple

I’ve just renewed a contract with my mobile telecoms provider. Along with the 2-year deal came a free upgrade to a better smartphone.

Not the latest smartphone, you understand, because I don’t need the latest smartphone. I’ve eased from an iPhone 6S to a 7. An improvement, I think. I got more data too, which is nice.

One of the ‘improvements’ of the 7 is that it does away with the circular port for the headphones. You get headphones with a firewire thingy that goes into the firewire charging port.

This means two changes in behaviour for me, none of them good. Firstly, it means I can’t charge my iPhone 7 and use it with the headphones at the same time, which I used to do a lot. Secondly, it means I need one set of headphones for my laptop (standard earphone port) and one set for my iPhone (firewire). I travel quite a bit, and now I need to pack two sets of headphones for any trip. Harrumph

Of course, I could spend more money on bluetooth earphones that will pair with both laptop and phones. Double harrumph…

The lack of time and thought invested in accessories compared to the base product is something I’ve blogged about before.

I’ve come to the following conclusion rather late in life. Using a Mac makes you lazy.

Well, perhaps not lazy, it’s more that a Mac allows you to be less disciplined in the use of your computer. It tolerates your bad behaviours.

I use a MacBook Air. It’s about 3 years old. I can’t remember the last time I shut it down or even restarted it. It’s at least a month.

I can have dozens of tabs open in my browser, dozens of documents open in my office productivity suite, social media engines whirring away in the background, music running, a dozen emails open from my inbox, and it still chunters along just fine, despite the fact that these days it’s getting pretty hammered storage- and processor-wise.

In contrast to the 2 or 3 monitors you see people using at modern workstations, I have the single 13-inch diameter screen of my laptop. I simply toggle between all the different apps and docs as I go. This makes mobile working and ‘soft desking’ in various offices an absolute breeze.

Open the lid, close the lid; it’s like opening the door of the fridge. You’re straight into the good stuff, no delays at all. No pinwheel of death, no ‘have you tried switching off and on again?’, no reinstalling the operating system every 6 months.

But, boy does it make you complacent and then impatient when it comes to using something that’s not iOS. A former boss of mine asked me once, ‘You’re not one of those mac bigots are you?’

Guess I must be.

Every organisation at some point gets too big and hulking, loses touch with what made it great and is forced into a radical rethink or imminent decline. Sometimes it’s a series of points that when added together tip the see-saw.

That moment has come, I think, for Apple with the release of its 2015 operating system, OSX El Capitan. As a company that competes on product leadership, it was never that great at staying close to customers. It got away with this because its stuff was so well designed, so intuitive and so damned beautiful. You didn’t need a manual.

El Capitan has been a bit different, though. Stuff hasn’t worked properly and fixes haven’t been forthcoming. Since I put EL Capitan on the machine that’s created this post, the default application for reading pdf documents – Preview – opens them as completely blank, most of the time.

Lots of us have complained via the discussion boards and so far, most unusually, no fix has been announced or even acknowledged. It’s not the only problem either.

Is Apple losing its touch? Or is it symbolic of the decline of laptops and computers in favour of mobile? After all, Apple is now a mobile phone company. Either way, there’s something rotten in the state of California.

Tangled flex landscape

I’m as big a fan of beautifully engineered products as the next guy. I want to argue, however, that the device cable is part of the customer experience, part of the product, and needs some fairly urgent design attention.

I’ve a MacBook Air and an iPhone.  Not the latest versions of them, but pretty recent, let’s say the last 12 months. They’re lovely, and lovely to work with. The cable for my iphone has a mic, volume control, ear buds, all the usual stuff. So what’s the but, I hear you say? Well, it’s always getting tangled, and takes a while to get untangled, before I can use it, in that fiddly sort of way that inanimate objects have of turning me from mild-mannered man into raging psychopath in a matter of seconds.

If you calculated the total time lost globally from messing around getting cables and wires sorted, the productivity losses would be staggering. Yet it shouldn’t be that way.  I remember being round at a girlfriend’s apartment many moons ago, before cordless phones became mainstream, and marvelling at the cord on her telephone.  It was immense, and enabled her to potter round the sizeable apartment with the phone cradled between chin and shoulder. More impressive though, was that it had been engineered in some way to be tangle-proof.  It never got twisted up.

Even now with today’s phones you have to lift up the cord every once in a while and let the suspended handset helicopter itself back into a state of ‘untwistiness’.  Surely we shouldn’t have to put up with this nonsense in 2013? If the materials and the capability was there a quarter of a century ago, you can’t tell me it’s not important any more.

We need to start encouraging device makers to focus as much on the peripherals as the core device, as both contribute to the collective user experience.