Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Apple OS XI

So looking forward a bit, it is almost obvious that as some time in the future (likely summer 2017), iOS and Mac OS will merge into a universal Apple OS. iOS 8 and Mac OS X are already sharing some features and functionality so it is only logical that they will unify into a single operating system.  With the introduction of features like handoff, iPhone Cellular Calls in FaceTime and iMessage on both iOS and Mac OS 10.10 Yosemite, the lines are beginning to blur between mobile and desktop OS's. Last week's Windows 10 announcement would seem to indicate that Microsoft is ahead of the game with regards to OS unification but the lack of adoption of Windows Phone and almost their almost non-existent tablet presence tells otherwise. It seems easier to unify OS's when two vital branches of the device tree are just beginning to grow. Not so easy on two very major OS's who are trees on their own.

Apple has the daunting task of unifying two major OS's with millions of users on each. But why would they do this? Why unify OS's that are fine apart? It's simple. To enrich the computing experience of the user. That's it. Imagine being able to access files on the external hard drive hooked up to your 5K iMac on your iPhone natively. Not via a third party app or some awkward virtual environment but in real time and using a Finder-like interface. To some degree this is already possible via iCloud but only for certain file formats. This could potentially eliminate the need to have interfaces for device such as iTunes (for those who still sync devices).

The next two versions of iOS and Mac OS X will ultimately reveal Apple's intentions. My guess is that iOS 10 will be the last version of iOS and Mac OS 10.12 will be the last version of Mac OS X.
Apple OS XI (11) will be the first Apple wide unified OS that will run on all Macs, iPhones, iPads, Apple TV and Apple Watch. Apple Watch may be a stretch but at this point in time, I have no doubt that Apple will find a way to ensure a unified and elegant experience on even a third-generation device (assuming a yearly update cycle) of such a small size. I have faith in Craig Federighi.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Month With Lion

Mac OS X Lion has been out for a month now in a Developer Preview form. I have been using it since day one. After a month of testing and normal use, I can say with confidence that Lion will blow your mind.
It is fast, smooth and just makes sense. It retains the major features of the Aqua interface but with twists. The iOS influence in Lion is very prevalent but it is not forced down your throat. Gestures used to activate features like LaunchPad and Mission Control just make sense. After a month of using gestures, I am so used to it that I struggle when using my Snow Leopard systems. They're that intuitive. 

Another feature that I love in Lion is the Mail application. I used to use Postbox because I love the way it handled Gmail. OS X Lion Mail will crush all third party email applications. It's hard to describe without breaking NDA but I'm sure you've all seen the videos on the web by now. Mail is very much an improved feature of Lion. Applications like calendar and address book also receive new looks but functionality is about the same. A simple application like Mail will sell many Macs by itself.

I was pleasantly surprised by how many applications DO NOT have issues running on Lion. Dropbox was the only application I had to tweak to get it to work on Lion. One line change in a .plist file is all that is required to get Dropbox to work in Lion. Photoshop CS5 Extended and applications of that caliber work fine in Lion. This would indicate to some that Lion is not a major change to the OS other than its looks. I can assure you that is not the case.

Overall, Lion is a major update to OS X. It will be to Snow Leopard what Leopard was to Tiger. I still have not even touched functionalities like AirDrop, at least not with other developers. Lion does have a few bugs at the moment, many of which I have reported. Only one bug I have submitted was ruled a known issue which says to me that they are working hard on fine tuning the OS for the next beta build.
I'm looking forward to seeing what they come up with next.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Why I Switched

I am up in the Bay Area visiting my family and so I have some downtime. I was getting stir crazy so I decided to pass some time doing what Americans do best; shop. I went down to the local Best Buy where I enjoy looking but not buying. I wanted to check out the latest smartphones but then remembered that they only have display models with fake homescreen stickers in place of actual working units. So I moved onto the laptop section.

At first I was floored by how cheap the laptops were. I think the top of the line HP laptop they had was the Envy Beats by Dre Edition which was only $849. Great price I thought to myself. Then I started to use it.
It's a shame that such a decent piece of hardware is stuck running Windows 7. It makes total sense to me that HP would want to transition to its own webOS platform. Windows 7 has a way of taking the life out of a system. It's just Vista with a slightly better Aero interface (which is a ripoff of OS X by the way). I don't know what manufacturers think when they load new laptops with so much crapware. Do people actually buy anti-virus programs via the link on their desktop? Who the hell uses Earthlink anymore?

I then eased my way down to the Apple section. There were some kids checking out the MacBook Air and some adults checking out the MacBook Pros. Even the displays Best Buy uses to show off Macs are just simple. Simplicity goes a long way for a consumer. We want things that just simply work out of the box. I have yet to encounter an Apple product that I struggled with out of the box. Not so when I was a Windows user. I still have nightmares of times when Windows ME gave me constant blue screens of death years ago.

I just got tired of Windows getting in the way of what I wanted to do with a system. You shouldn't have to massage an operating system to get it to do what you want. With defragmenting, anti-virus, disk cleaning, scanning and more, Windows just got to be too much. I do miss the prices of Windows systems. I saw a $250 netbook that seemed to be decent enough. The cheapest Mac I own is a $999 MacBook Air.  You do get what you pay for however.

While Macs are much more expensive and don't always justify the price difference, I will never go back. I do wish there were more plastic based OS X systems. I'll pay the price for an aluminum MacBook Pro but I would just as well buy a plastic one. Design is something worth paying for to some but for me its all about the specs. It can look pretty but it better get the job done. While I always get the urge to save money and just buy a Windows computer, my common sense kicks in and I make it a Mac.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Why You Don't Need A New MacBook Pro

The latest refresh to the MacBook Pro line has Mac users in a frenzy. While the refresh did not cover any of the external wishes people had (tapered edges, matte on the 13" screen, USB 3.0), it did come through when it comes to raw processing power. The second generation of Intel Core processors are impressive. Sandy Bridge is no joke. In processing power alone, the i5 in the 2011 13" MacBook Pro is faster than my 2010 2.66GHz i7. But do most of us truly need that much processing power? No.

I hate the term prosumer. It makes you almost believe that there are more than two types of users. There isn't. There is the professional user and there is the consumer. Professionals require different needs than the average consumer. Is it narrow thinking to believe there is no middle ground? Maybe. But when was the last time you saw a person buy a Mac Pro at the Apple Store? Professionals tend to not purchase their gear in the same stores that tweens use iMac's to ChatRoulette. The term Pro in MacBook Pro is to fool consumers into thinking they are going to get more out of a computer than they would if they just stuck to a MacBook or MacBook Air. The Air gets a bad rep for being "underpowered" and for "casual" users only due to its Core 2 Duo processor or 4GB max. RAM. The thing is; that is all that most need. It does not take a quad-core processor to update your status on Facebook.

Apple realizes that it must keep up with advances to please the spec. chasers. These people will blindly update their Macs every refresh so they can say they have the latest gear. This is exactly why the photography hardware business is booming. There will always be that faction that will pay the price to be cutting edge. Most Mac users do not fall into this category. While you may think you need professional level gear, you do not. Those who need the pro level gear either have it already or know they need it. There are very few cases where a professional will say to themselves, "Man, I really need that quad-core for this". Sure, video professionals need that power but I bet you they are not using a MacBook Pro for all that processing. Mac Pro's tend to fill that pivotal roll. Buying professional level gear does not make you a professional unless you are using it with an end-goal in mind.

I'm not trying to discourage anyone from spending their hard-earned money on anything. I'm simply stating that what you think you need is not a good enough reason to spend more money that you need to on a Mac. I wish I would have used this thinking when I purchased my MacBook Pro last year. If I would have,  I'd be a happy owner of a MacBook Air. Instead I am a closet spec. chaser trying to sell my mid-2010 MacBook Pro on Craigslist.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

You Can Keep Your Stinkin' Tablet

2010 was dominated by the iPad. No matter who you were, you knew someone who had an iPad. With its apps, Netflix streaming and ability to outlast any laptop battery, the iPad was the thing to own in 2010. With all the hoopla over tablets, many have wondered what this means for the regular Mac user. Are MacBooks going to be a thing of the past? Over my dead body.

With the release of the Developer Preview of Mac OS X Lion, Apple has made it clear that it does not want people to worry about the future of regular computing. A platform can only become truly independent  when apps designed to run on it can be written and designed on that same platform. Currently there are no plans in the near future to allow Xcode to run on any iOS platform. Therefore a Mac is still required to write apps for the iPad. The iPad being a citizen in a closed system will prevent it from truly becoming an independent platform for Apple.

Just think of what you can't do on the iPad. You cannot play Flash media. You cannot sync your iPad without a cable or on multiple computers without it wanting to erase your media every single time. You cannot store more than 64GB of media on the largest version of the iPad. With iPad 2 coming, you can no longer purchased an unlocked version of the iPad, something the technorati have failed to notice. I love my iPad but I am not turning a blind eye for any corporation.

The Mac will always be the platform you don't need to jailbreak to get the full use out of it. It has apps, plays Flash content, allows me to look at "adult" media without fearing the wrath of Jobs and it has true multi-tasking. The Mac will always be the platform that provides not only a way to consume information and media but truly produce information and media. The next time you ask me for a way to watch Flash media or gain more storage I'll simply tell you this; there's a Mac for that.