This is excellent.
This is excellent.
Time is a funny thing. It marches on, making us older and making many things we once enjoyed obsolete.
I laugh (sometimes to myself, unless it’s Fox News and then out loud) at people who design their evenings around the television news hours. I haven’t watched traditional television news in a decade or so, and I can’t remember the last time I saw anyone under sixty reading a newspaper anywhere other than the restroom. I didn’t mourn the obsolescence of television news or traditional newspapers- I was happy to have the internet to access information that interested me. Faster, and on my schedule.
I didn’t even mourn the obsolescence of traditional records, even though I write songs for them and occasionally receive royalty checks. The greedy, inept record label cartel led me to embrace the new era of Apple, Amazon and direct distribution, even if it costs me money (though I really don’t think it does).
But even though I no longer subscribe to any magazines, the death of two of them has led me to stop for a moment and reminisce over days gone by.
The first was when Stereo Review became whatever it became, on the way to whatever it is now, if anything. Stereo Review, back in the Julian Hirsch era, was a wonderful, wonderful thing. Back in the day, I would go to bed early on the day my copy arrived, so I could relish the stories, reviews and analysis.
The second was today, when I read that the print edition of Macworld is ceasing publication. I subscribed to Macworld for a long time, but I confess to being part of the problem, as I have not subscribed to the print edition in several years. Nevertheless, I remember learning about some of the coolest devices I ever experienced in the pages of that now shuttered publication. This copy has a permanent place on my bedside table.
Sure, Macworld will continue online in a vastly reduced form. And thankfully, Jason Snell managed to save Clockwise, one of my very favorite podcasts (Jason, if you need some non-paid help in keeping that wonderful podcast going, let me know. I’m in.). But knowing that Macworld, in its traditional, obsolete-or-not, hard copy form will soon cease to exist makes me sad.
Maybe it was inevitable, but it’s still sad.
You know what today is, right?
It’s One After 909.
Much of The Beatles’ catalog, while excellent, now bores me to tears, because I’ve heard every song several hundred times (or more). One After 909 is an exception to that. It rocks so hard.
While generally considered one of their later songs, it was actually one of the first Lennon-McCartney compositions.
So Apple announced its new iCloud pricing today, in advance of the forthcoming iCloud Drive. It costs more than its two main competitors, Dropbox (get some free storage by signing up via that link) and Google Drive.
1TB of iCloud storage is $20 per month ($240 a year). That’s cheaper than it was, but significantly more than Dropbox ($10 per month or only $100 for a year) and Google Drive ($10 per month or $120 per year). I have a 1TB plan from both Google Drive and Dropbox currently. Would I dump one in favor of a pricier iCloud plan?
Maybe. It depends, but only on one thing. The forthcoming new Apple Photos app.
Space is space, and no one should pay double or more for space at one trusted brand over another trusted brand (I love the cloud, but only at names I know and trust: names like Amazon, Apple, Box, Dropbox and Google).
But space to use along with a powerful app that solves a terrible problem? You bet. I’d happily switch to iCloud if the Photos app would:
1. Look and work elegantly, like most Apple apps (excluding iTunes, which is a bloated wreck).
2. Easily assimilate and combine my current iPhoto libraries, of which I have three because they do not sync between computers.
3. Thereafter automatically upload, sync and manage my photos from whatever Apple device they originate on.
Photo management is a mess currently. I love much about iPhoto, but the process of keeping your photos together in one place and managed logically is somewhere between burdensome and impossible.
If Apple can do that and combine it with some storage, I would gladly pay more for iCloud space.
If not, I’ll pass.
As anyone who hasn’t been unconscious all day knows, Apple introduced both its next-generation iPhones as well as its long-awaited Apple Watch today. There are detailed summaries and hands-on reviews all over the internet, so I will dispense with the summary and descriptions and simply give you my initial thoughts.
First, let me add my voice to the chorus of howls whining about the utter failure that was Apple’s live stream of today’s keynote. Despite trying over and over, I was unable to obtain anything resembling a reliable, uninterrupted stream via my Apple TV. Eventually, I was able to obtain an intermittent stream via my iPhone, but even this smaller stream was interrupted incessantly by oddly-intermingled earlier recorded clips of people milling around before the event started, and an unbelievably annoying translator (Japanese or Chinese, I believe) talking over the speaker. No attempt at live streaming would be greatly preferable to the disaster that was served on us today.
Having dispensed with my mini-rant, let’s get down to the details of today’s announcements. Which were pretty awesome.
So about this iPhone 6. Yes, I want one. There are enough improvements, from a bigger screen, to a faster chip, to a better camera, to faster WiFi, to an ambitious payment system, and beyond to make me more than willing to pre-order my iPhone 6 this Friday, for a September 19 delivery. I’m very interested in the motion-tracking and fitness features, and wonder if this will be the end of my beloved Fitbit. I suspect it will come down to reliability and the device’s ability to track treadmill miles with a reasonable accuracy. Whether it’s recommended or not, lots of people (including me) occasionally hold on to treadmills when they walk or run, and I always question whether a device (be it a new iPhone or an Apple Watch) will accurately log treadmill miles. Fitbit does a reasonable job of this. I also wonder how the iPhone fitness apps will work if you don’t have an Apple Watch (more on this below).
The only material issue surrounding my new iPhone 6 is whether I will get a slightly larger iPhone 6 or a significantly larger iPhone 6 Plus. Initially, I felt reasonably certain I would choose the larger device, but the more I think about it the more I wonder if carrying around a larger device all the time would be cumbersome. Granted, using it while stationary would be wonderful, but the idea of logging 60 or 70 miles a week on roads and treadmills with a big, honking iPhone 6 Plus in my pocket worries me.
One thing I’m certain of. The fact that the Apple Watch requires an iPhone for effective use is the biggest thing the smaller iPhone 6 has going for it. I question the effectiveness of having a smallish, elegant device on your arm if you are required to lug around a large, 6 ounce iPhone Plus in your pocket (if it will even fit). It’s a true conundrum. Sitting at my desk or on the couch- iPhone 6 Plus for sure. Traveling, running or walking- smaller may be better. Not to mention that I am very attached to my iPad Air, and typically have it close by when at home.
The bottom line: I was leaning towards the larger model, but now it’s a toss up.
So, what about the Apple Watch?
I haven’t worn a watch in many, many years, and absent Apple’s involvement, I have absolutely no desire to wear one. In fact, I hate the idea of a watch. Prior to today’s keynote, I, like many others, expected Apple’s “wearable” device to be much more Fitbit-like, and much less watch-like. I was wrong. The Apple Watch is very much a watch, albeit one with lots of features.
I like the idea of being able to “glance” at information, quickly and easily. If it works, I like the fitness aspects. I guess it would be cool to be able to communicate with my family and friends via sketches and dictated messages. Having said that, I don’t text much now, and I don’t see the Apple Watch turning me into a power-texter. I wasn’t into Dick Tracy as a kid, and I just don’t know that I want his watch now.
Of course, I wasn’t sure I wanted an iPhone, until I had one. Or a Sonos. Or all sorts of other things you have to experience to fully appreciate. And there’s no denying that the interface looks beautiful, intuitive and powerful. At the end of the day, my dislike of watches will have to battle my love of Apple for the future of my currently bare arm.
I will say that, while the Apple Watch screams cool, I don’t see anything about it that will make it a mandatory purchase for all iPhone users. Additionally, the requirement to associate an iPhone with the device limits its ability to penetrate the Android and other wearable markets. I’m sure Google and Samsung breathed audible sighs of relief at this.
I think the biggest leap forward we learned about today will end up being Apple Pay.
If it is adopted on a universal or close to universal basis, Apple Pay will be life- and commerce- changing. Clearly, someone needs to step up to the plate and address the endless security problems inherent in current credit card standards and technology. Apple changed the music business, and there is little reason to doubt it can do the same with the credit card business. While I am not much of a Passbook user currently, I am excited about the potential for my iPhone to replace both my membership cards (as few as they may be; I am profoundly unaffiliated) as well as my credit cards.
We can debate the details, but clearly today was another big day for Apple, and for current and future Apple users.
I’m a headin’ out to the west, son
I got some tending got to do there
Tell your brothers, tell your sisters
Tell ‘em take care
The Sumner Brothers – Going Out West