SANEBUTDIFFERENT

Mar 11, 2015

Watching the latest Apple keynote, I was heartened to see the new technological improvements and possibilities, but there are some questionable decisions and lack of fixes for existing problems.

Apple TV

It’s nice to see that Apple is continuing to push Apple TV, but its potential is still limited by the lack of proper App Store for Apple TV.

Content-wise, Singapore still doesn’t have first-class access to content providers like Netflix, Hulu and now HBO Now, which makes it pretty pointless in this market. Hell, we don’t even have a decent selection in iTunes/iBookstore.

And even if we could get these services in Singapore, would consumers actually pay for multiple video services when Popcorn Time exists? The market fragmentation is just too great.

Still, I’m sure this is a step forward for those in the US who like HBO shows to enjoy free-for-all access to their content.

ResearchKit

I’m all for ResearchKit. In theory. One of the benefits touted by Apple was the ability for people to see and monitor their personal stats even before the study is completed, and make lifestyle changes accordingly. However, one concern I have is that by doing so, it invalidates any sense of consistency or a “control group” factor because people are introducing new variables into the study. With the privacy and anonymity in place, it will be impossible (?) to contact the participants who show promise for follow-ups.

Furthermore, I am skeptical at the accuracy of technology today — one day as I was taking the bus, I was wondering how many of those jerks and bumps were actually contributing to the steps taken in HealthKit. I went home and looked up a study that shows there is still a margin of error introduced by vehicles, albeit small. I think the iPhone pedometer needs to be tested for accuracy in this aspect.

However, I find the tests that make use of voice-overs and accelerometer/pedometer are very creative and more apps should make use of the onboard sensors.

Macbook

Keyboard

Glad to see that the keyboard retains backlighting even though the goal is to shave thickness. What disturbs me is the design of the new arrow keys. What’s wrong with the old design!

Force Touch Trackpad

I’m excited for this one, because the diving board mechanism on my Early-2009 Macbook Pro is starting to fail and the click on the Magic Trackpad that depends on a hard surface is just bad. This technology just begs to be included in the next-gen iOS devices. Also, Magic Trackpad 2 anyone?

I’m disappointed to see the 15″ rMBP didn’t get the update. Are they planning to phase them out at some point like they did with the 17″ MBP?

Logic Board

I’d like to see someone try to 3rd-party upgrade this thing. Everything is soldered on now. Fanless is great, in theory. No more spinning up and telling the whole world you’re looking at gifs on Tumblr or playing Hearthstone.

Ports

Enough has been said about the port so far. I’m just surprised that there isn’t a Thunderbolt adapter anywhere (yet). Nor a new Cinema Display. Strictly speaking, this is a content consumption machine more than anything. I would also have liked to see a second USB-C port like how the 15″ rMBP has two Thunderbolt ports. I mean, the thickness is already catered for the first port…

Also glad to see MagSafe go, *if* it allows for 3rd-party battery packs and chargers to be made.

Screen

New resolution, new media queries for web developers? Perhaps 1152px width media queries will become more common. Definitely designers and developers need to start being more aware of @2x quality images for retina displays now that they’re really becoming mainstream. Fuzzy images hurt people’s eyes.

I hope they got rid of the terrible anti-reflective screen coating which peels easily. (But since they left it on the Retina iMac, I doubt they would remove it on this one. We’ll see.)

Apple Watch

Definitely shows promise in terms of new features and applications, but a major dealbreaker for me is the fact that it needs to be paired to an iPhone. I hate to take my iPhone running. I would never want to take my iPhone *and* Apple Watch running. So far, it seems like the Apple Watch can be used standalone for some features, though it’s not clear which. I’m hoping that the running/tracking stats is one of them.

Apple Watch also knows when you’ve been sitting too long. One day, chat apps will start ratting on your Last Moved instead of Last Seen. No more pretending. And it’ll know to alert your loved ones that you’re dead if you haven’t moved in over a day.

Analysis

More and more, Apple is making a shift to consumer and consumption-grade devices, eschewing the pro and prosumer market. With the Apple Watch moving into the fashion accessory market and Apple releasing a blinged-out Macbook, I joked that Apple is no longer in the computer industry but rather in the fashion accessory industry. This made more sense the more I thought about it. Apple products have become the must-have status symbol for coolness and style, which is why Apple would kill off the practicality of ports for the sleek sexiness of a thin device.

I’m all for thinner devices, but sometimes this obsession with thinness is just ridiculous. We can all look forward to PC clones following suit in this direction with thin laptops and really minimal ports.

And we’re all at fault here, really. Even in the case of the new Mac Pro and iMacs which have no real purpose being slim, Apple decided that they should be, because that’s what people want. We look at photos of offices and workspaces that proudly display these slim devices and decide, “yeah we want that”. But this comes at the sacrifice of everyday practicality and really, nobody loves adapters and external peripherals and they are not sexy at all. There comes a point where we need to make a stand that this direction is not what we want for our devices.

With the new Macbook, I feel that one big missed opportunity is the lack of a 4G modem. It’s 2015 — how much longer till 4G is built into laptops as a standard?! As anyone can tell you, public wifi is atrocious. This needs to happen and Apple needs to lead.

Finally, there are many people who go “meh” at the new Apple Macbook and Apple Watch, because technology companies like Intel and Apple have a tick-tock cycle of releases and if this is a ‘tock’, it’s pretty underwhelming for sure.

Nevertheless, I believe that we need to look at the potential of these new technologies and how they can lead to great new products. Just as people said “nobody wants an iPad” all those years ago, I’m sure these new products will mature into a great category-defining successes one day.