The problem with Apple

For the last two decades, Apple has overcome a series of unwarranted hardships in acceptance. Apple was innovating – from the creation of the iMac, to the iPod, to the iPhone—basically, anything new with an “i” in front of it over the last 15 years you could almost guarantee was from Apple, and was something new, exciting and intuitive.

Sure, while many of the things they did wasn’t necessarily the first of its kind, it was always taking what was already in existence, and changing it for the better. Intuitive interactions, seamless UI, clean aesthetic, all with performance in mind. Apple’s attention to detail was unparalleled.

One thing that helped this idea of seamless and intuitive interaction across all devices, was the fact that Apple owned both the hardware and the software of all their products. They were in complete control. Because of this control, they could oversee the performance between the hardware and the software. You could say they were made for each other unironically and unmetaphorically. Their support was – and in many ways still is – seamless. No matter the problem you might have with a device, you could take it to Apple, and they would handle it.

So WTF happened?!

The death of Steve Jobs was, in fact, the death of Apple. It did not take long for Apple to introduce a stylus to the iPad – to which even the slightest of idea of needing to use an accessory to operate a device was borderline insulting to the man. Granted, his idea of the stylus being grotesque was at a time when iPhones were much smaller, and iPads didn’t even exist. Even still, Jobs believed in intuition.

Then you have the 6 Plus. For all intents and purposes, it’s a decent phone – but it’s huge. When asked about the idea making a phone as big or bigger than a Galaxy S phone, he responded that they were “Hummers” and that “ can’t get your hand around one’s going to buy that.” Boy was he wrong about that.

The thing is, Jobs spent his days at Apple developing a brand people could believe in. People believed Apple would provide them intuitive and innovative experiences for their needs. The “Pro” line of products – the Mac Pro, the Macbook Pro – were for professionals, and while they were loaded with quality hardware only a power user might need, they had the same intuitive experience as any other product. The interaction between devices was seamless.

This brand trust so many of us have had over the years is slowly starting to break, and has been breaking ever since Jobs’ death.

Some very basic examples:

  1. No headphone jack on the iPhone 7 without using an accessory.
  2. No ability to charge your iPhone and use wired (normal) headphones without buying an expensive adapter.
  3. No ability to charge your iPhone on your new Macbook Pro
  4. No ability to charge your new magic mouse on your new Macbook Pro
  5. No ability to charge your new magic mouse and use it at the same time.
  6. Gimmicky hardware with a multitude of UX and UI bugs.
  7. Trackpad on Macbook Pro is so big, it interferes with typing.
  8. Physical function keys are gone in favor of a giant trackpad and a touch screen bar.
  9. High performance hardware, low performance software.
  10. Phones get bigger and harder to carry and operate, “Pro” computers get smaller and less usable
  11. Zero scalability – everything is soldered in. Upgrading your device means buying a new one.
  12. Wireless earbuds – or Airpods – over $200 for shit sound? No thanks…
  13. Late to market on smartwatch device – releases slow performing, low-battery life, overpriced fashion accessory and heart rate monitor.
  14. No standard USB ports on Macbook Pro, so no real way to use any apple devices – or any standard peripheral – on a “professional grade product”.
  15. Macbook Air – the light consumer-grade Macbook – taken off market because it competes too much with the supposed “Professional” grade Macbook.

The list goes on. It seems like Apple is now in the business of releasing gimmicky toys with little thought put into how people would actually use them. The devices run slower and poorer, have shorter and shorter lifespans, become less usable, yet become more and more expensive.

At this point, Apple is using its brand as a crutch and is no longer doing anything to re-enforce it. It’s getting lazy. There are no longer any inventive minds at Apple; they are simply taking what already exists, and transforming it into subpar toys. Nothing useful, just something that warrants nothing more than a glance with a very concerned “That’s interesting” remark.

I miss the old Apple. I miss Steve Jobs and his creative mind. I miss looking forward to Apple’s announcements.

Oh well.

Everything wrong with the new Macbook Pro

Apple just announced the new MacBook Pro in all its sexiness. It looks nice. It has features no other laptop has, like a touch screen interface just above the keyboard. It has the word “Pro”. It let’s you flaunt your high-income lifestyle while you sip your latte at your local coffee shop, because Starbucks stopped being cool once everyone started going there.

But let’s be honest. Something’s wrong here. The MacBook Pro just doesn’t seem worth it. Now, I’ve never used it – so I won’t comment on performance, but I will note some very striking cons that may help you save $1500, or spend it somewhere more worthwhile. So here it is, my list of everything wrong with the new Macbook Pro.

No Standard USB Ports

This might be the most minor of issues I have with this release. USB is the most common interface between your devices. Your iPhone charges and can connect to other devices via USB, your favorite mouse probably connects via USB – if it’s not an Apple branded mouse, that is.Sure, you have USB-C…but…good luck actually plugging anything in. At $1500, I’d expect a laptop to be able to handle the most basic of peripherals without spending $50-$100 for an adapter.

But hey, at least you still have a headphone jack…

The Gigantic Trackpad is TOO CLOSE to the keyboard

Do you have giant thumbs? Or even NORMAL thumbs? If so, beware. This may quickly become a usability issue for you. Hear me out…

I use the previous gen Macbook pro, which has a 3/4″ gap between the trackpad and is maybe 3″ wide. My palms touch my trackpad as I type, and my thumbs occasionally do as well. This gets tedious sometimes when I’m resting my hand to the side of the trackpad and attempting to scroll at the same time – not realizing my resting hand is ever so slightly touching the trackpad.

Mishaps like this will probably be virtually unavoidable without first messing with the trackpad settings. I’d love to be proven wrong here, I just don’t see how the positioning and size of the trackpad is practical.

No Function keys

Someone said “Man, I think it would be great to put all that volume control in a touchscreen above the keyboard.” Someone replied “Yeah, I’d like to get rid of a row of keys so many people use for productivity.” Those two individuals had a brain-baby, which is the new “Function bar,” and, sorry to say, it’s such a stupid idea.

I get the thinking behind multitouch for performing functions like volume control, launching apps, stroking something other than your ego. But – the function keys, or f-keys, serve a multitude of purposes. Many of us, especially those of us who use complex productivity or programming tools, use the keys every day. Many of us also use a VM or dualboot between Windows and OSX on our Macs. The F-keys are crucial here.

While the F-keys are a swipe away on OSX, there’s no physical response – for one, they’re not the default state and may not be able to be permanently left as the default option. Further, there’s no telling whether or not there will be Windows compatibility issues.

Now, you COULD buy the lower-end 13″ model that doesn’t have the touch screen and get your F-keys back, but only at the expense of, you know, more RAM, better drive space, a better processor, more screen real estate, etc. So, basically, if you’re a so-called power-user, you might be f’d.

No 17″ model?

Do you build websites, design high-end graphics, edit videos, or do anything that requires multiple windows to be open at the same time, at home or on the go? Then you probably value screen real estate. Well you’re in luck – Apple does not! In fact, they seem to think you should be more of a one-thing-at-a-time kinda person.

That’s why they’ve done away with the 17″ model. If you really want that screen realestate, you could just buy a larger high-res display that plugs directly into your macbook pro — oh wait, Apple discontinued those, too. So now you have to buy a 3rd party monitor AND the adapter for every monitor you want to use.

This may be the most minor of things I take issue with, but Apple seems to note care about productivity. Removing your standard USB ports that charge your other Apple devices and connect external storage without purchasing a dongle, removing the function keys for those who use them for efficiency in their productivity applications, and now less screen real-estate. Instead buy a larger high-res display — oh wait, Apple discontinued those, too.

In summary…

It really feels like Apple has just stopped caring. They don’t seem to care about productivity, usability, or the needs of the end user. They just seem to care about doing what no one else is doing. “Hey let’s add a touch bar!” “Hey, let’s make a huge trackpad!” “Hey let’s make a darker one!”

All these things are cool, I suppose, but at what expense? I really feel like switching from a Macbook Pro from one or two generations ago to the new Macbook Pro would be more of a downgrade.

But hey…at least they kept the headphone jack.