¶ Last Week’s iPhone and Watch Event

Apple held their annual iPhone — and now Apple Watch — event last week on September 10. This is easily Apple’s biggest event of the year where they roll out the latest and greatest iPhones and other hardware, just in time for people to begin thinking about the Christmas shopping season.

Apple has posted the full event on YouTube, along with a humorous 2 minute summary that is worth watching. I have some quick thoughts on everything that was announced, so let’s get started.

Apple Arcade

On September 19th Apple Arcade will ship within iOS 13. Apple has worked with a lot of game developers to launch 100+ new games exclusive to Apple platforms this fall. And these aren’t just for iPhones and iPads. They’ll be available on Mac and Apple TV, too. And this year’s new operating systems support pairing Playstation and Xbox One controllers, which is great news for gaming.

While gaming on iOS is popular, it’s rife with sleazy grifts of in-app purchases and sketchy ads that are probably harvesting all sorts of data. Apple Arcade solves this with high-quality games without ads or in-app purchases. And the price is extremely compelling: $4.99 per month, and it covers up to six people with Family Sharing.

I don’t play many games on iOS (even less on Apple TV and none on Mac). My son, however, loves gaming on his iPad mini. I’m often reluctant to install new games on his iPad because they are often, for lack of better words, crappy. While my family may not hop on Apple Arcade right away, I can see it being a peace of mind alternative to all these games with questionable motives.

Apple TV+

As if anyone needs yet another TV subscription, Apple is coming out with their own. The big difference between Apple TV+ and contenders like Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+ is Apple does not have a vast content back catalog to lean on. All they have is all-new original content. But that content looks good. And the price is pretty great, too. $4.99 per month for the whole family. And, starting now, if you buy an iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, or Mac, a whole year of Apple TV+ is included. Boom.

iPad

The iPad lineup has settled into having something for everyone. The iPad as the entry level, the iPad mini for folks who like petite tablets, the iPad Air for people wanting a bit more productivity, and the iPad Pro for those looking to use an iPad as a laptop replacement.

One of the lines got a little more blurred with last week’s update to the entry-level iPad. Going from a 9.7-inch screen to a 10.2-inch screen and gaining a Smart Connector for use with the Smart Keyboard Cover makes the iPad a close contender with the 10.5-inch iPad Air. And the iPad maintained its $329 starting price. That’s pretty fantastic.

It’s definitely a no-brainer for someone’s first iPad.

Apple Watch Series 5

The Apple Watch remains one of my favorite devices. Like the rest of the internet, I was struggling to think of what exactly could be improved on from last year’s Series 4. I had settled on the idea of improved power management to enable sleep tracking. I wasn’t wrong on improved power management, but I was dead wrong on what it would be used for.

The Apple Watch Series 5 has an always-on display, which is a really nice touch. Anyone who has ever worn an Apple Watch knows that it needs a certain amount of tilt and motion to figure out you want to see the display and light it up. There’s no way to really sneak a casual peek at the time. Now that won’t be a problem.

Apple also added a built-in compass and the cellular communications work better in more places, but other than that there isn’t much new on the technology side.

On the materials side the lineup expands from aluminum and stainless steel to include titanium and the return of ceramic. Titanium and ceramic bear the Edition name, which translates to a giant sack of money for a watch. While I will never own an Edition model, I must admit I yearn for that white ceramic case. I’ll satiate that desire by trying one on at the Apple Store for a few moments.

I’ll be sticking with my Series 4. It does its job amazingly well and will be even better with watchOS 6. But if you have a Series 2 or older, definitely consider the Series 5. Apple is keeping the Series 3 around at $199, which I imagine made some Fitbit execs lose sleep.

iPhone 11

I love my iPhone XS and it was the right choice for me, but it certainly is not the right choice for most people. For the past year the iPhone for most people has been the iPhone XR, but Apple’s initial marketing seemed to position it as the lesser sibling of the XS. And that seemed to stick among people I know. They felt the iPhone XS was the good phone, and the XR was an also-ran, even though I greatly encouraged folks to check out the XR.

Apple’s marketing is on point this year with the iPhone 11, which is the spiritual successor to the iPhone XR, but positioned as the standard iPhone. Naming matters. And it’s truly a great phone with a great camera, a second ultra-wide camera, and a Night Mode that, combined, I think will be very popular. And it has an extra hour of battery life compared to the already impressive XR.

I’ve already heard from friends and family that they think it’s time for them to upgrade and they have their eyes on the colorful lineup of the iPhone 11. Especially since the price is $50 less than the iPhone XR’s previous price point.

iPhone 11 Pro

Whereas the iPhone 11 is a great phone and camera for everyone, naturally there are some people who want a little more. iPhone 11 Pro is for these people. The wide camera lens is joined by not only the new ultra-wide lens from the iPhone 11, but also a telephoto lens á la the iPhone XS. And like the iPhone XS it has an OLED display. It has better water resistance than the 11. For most other specs, though, it has the same guts as the iPhone 11.

It does not, however, have the rainbow of colors of its sibling. The iPhone 11 Pro sticks with the very “pro” colors of silver (white), space grey, and gold — along with a new midnight green. The best description of the new color I’ve seen comes from John Gruber: “Boba Fett-y”.

One spec that is remarkably impressive is battery life. The iPhone 11 Pro boasts 4 more hours than the iPhone XS, and the iPhone 11 Pro Max 5 more hours than the iPhone XS Max. That’s insane for a year-over-year jump.

Now, let’s talk about the naming here. iPhone 11 Pro is the perfect modifier for the luxury model of iPhone this year. The name positions itself as a step up from the iPhone for most everyone, rather than last year’s naming positioning the more affordable option as a step down. There’s a difference.

But iPhone 11 Pro Max? That’s a mouthful. I get that Apple wants to differentiate the smaller and larger screens of iPhone 11 Pro, but do they need to? I would have rather seen both be named simply iPhone 11 Pro, and then talk about the different screen sizes separately, as they do with iMacs, iPad Pros, and MacBook Pros.

The naming of the iPhone 11 Pro Max aside, I think the 2019 lineup of iPhones is stellar. I know a lot of iPhone 7 owners that have held on to them, skipping the iPhone 8/X, and XR/XS. Now in their third year of ownership, they are noticing the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro, and considering upgrading.


While I am keen toward the iPhone 11 Pro, I’ll be recommending the iPhone 11 to most people. It has an impressive feature set, a variety of colors, and a more affordable price that is in line with the iPhone 7 of a few years ago. iPhone 11 is the default iPhone, and it deserves to be.

Hey, Apple – The Activity App Needs Rest Days Like Right Now

My friend Gedeon Maheux wrote yesterday about how he would love for Apple’s Activity app to start offering rest days as part of its goal for helping users becoming more healthy over time.

Contrary to what the folks on Apple’s Activity team may tell you, this isn’t actually healthy. It’s important to give your body (and mind) a break to recover and rebuild every now and then. Which is why iOS desperately needs to build in the concept of rest days into its Activity app.

Let’s just set aside the fact that the Activity app doesn’t even allow you to keep your streaks alive if you become sick or injured. That’s bad enough. But not to be able to give myself a much-needed break after many months of filling my rings is a poor decision on Apple’s part. I had really hoped iOS 13 would introduce Rest Days or Rain Checks or something that would allow us to take a day or two off a month and keep streaks alive, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

The concept is simple – For every perfect month of activity award I complete, give me one rest day that I can use at any time to take an activity break and recuperate. Over time they would accrue like vacation days and I could even apply them for actual vacations so I don’t have to worry about filling my rings when I’m laying on the beach or waiting in line at Disney World.

I couldn’t agree more. One of the Activity awards I am most proud of achieving is my Longest Move Streak, which I let lapse at 1,000 consecutive days on December 31, 2018. I ended it for several reasons, and one of the biggest ones was ending the streak on my terms, and not losing it due to a sick day. You’ll enjoy the irony here: on January 2nd, 2019, I got the flu and was so weak I barely moved, aside from the frequent trips to the restroom to throw up.

So yeah, if I hadn’t ended my streak on my terms, just two days later I would have had it ended anyway.

A system for rest days would have saved my bacon if I had continued my streak. In fact, another streak I have maintained was saved by the app’s inclusion of rest days. I currently have 1,397 day streak going in Pedometer++. The system “Underscore” David Smith created for Pedometer++ (and Activity++) for rest days is well-balanced, and useful. From the settings screen of Pedometer++:

When enabled, activity streaks will not be broken by a single day missed after six consecutive days of reaching your goal.

I like this system. You have to earn the rest day, but it isn’t an arduous amount to earn it. You could conceivably take one day off each week and maintain a streak. It’s really similar to the idea of a Sabbath — a day of rest. And, of course, you don’t have to use it. But it doesn’t carry over and stack up, as Ged wants for vacations.

Either way, rest days are important for everyone, and sorely needed in Apple’s approach to healthy living in the Activity app. While I still try to complete my Move ring every day, I don’t sweat it if I just need a rest from it now that I’ve sealed away my Longest Move Streak at 1,000 days. For those still striving to keep that streak going, I hope Apple gives them a break with rest days in a future update.

Apple Launches Independent Repair Provider Program

If you live near an Apple Retail Store or an Apple Authorized Service Provider — such as every Best Buy in the US — you can typically get an Apple device repaired by trained technicians with genuine parts that won’t void your warranty.

But if you don’t live near either of those, you’ve had to rely on either mailing your device off to Apple or taking it to a local place that may or may not be using sketchy parts or practices.

Well, that all changes today with Apple’s launch of its new Independent Repair Provider Program. Apple Newsroom:

Apple will provide more independent repair businesses — large or small — with the same genuine parts, tools, training, repair manuals and diagnostics as its Apple Authorized Service Providers (AASPs). The program is launching in the US with plans to expand to other countries.

This is great news. Now those cellphone repair outfits or local computer repair shops can have access to the same training, equipment, tools, guides, and more as Apple and its authorized providers use. This means that end users like you and me can have a little more trust if needing to have a device repaired.

Another great tidbit is the barrier to entry for independent providers is pretty low.

There is no cost to join Apple’s independent repair program. To qualify for the new program, businesses need to have an Apple-certified technician who can perform the repairs. The process for certification is simple and free of charge. To learn more and apply, visit support.apple.com/irp-program. Qualifying repair businesses will receive Apple-genuine parts, tools, training, repair manuals and diagnostics at the same cost as AASPs.

Now, instead of advising friends and family to only seek repairs from a small list of places, I can check and see if a shop has this certification and access, and feel better about recommending them.

I’ve had friends take their device to independent shops and I have definitely seen some sketchy repairs — such as a Touch ID/Home button that doesn’t feel quite right, making me think it is a knock-off part. And since that is a part that is supposed to be part of the security of the device, it left me with a bad feeling.

I’m very glad Apple has launched this program, and I hope independent repair shops take it seriously and join the program.

¶ The Aluminum Anniversary

July 11, 2008. 4:45 AM. My alarm goes off. In four days at almost this exact minute my son would draw in his first breath. But in this moment, now, I am groggy and slightly hesitant to leave home knowing he could arrive at any time. In retrospect, it was more than a little foolish to be doing what I was doing.

I quickly dressed, gave my wife a kiss on the forehead while she slept, grabbed my Motorola RAZR, and then got in the car and drove an hour to Omaha.

Why?

You know why. That’s where the Apple Store is.

I arrived at [Apple Store Village Pointe] around 6:00 AM. There was a line. I expected a line. Thankfully it wasn’t too long. I was 22nd in line.

After a little while some Apple employees began walking up and down the line, chatting up folks, offering donuts, coffee, and bottled water. I recognized one of them. A few days prior, Apple had posted some tutorial videos about the iPhone 3G, the App Store, and MobileMe ([remember that?]). The guy I recognized was the guy from the MobileMe videos. When he got to me, I pointed this out, and he confirmed it and told me his name was John. He still works in the Omaha store, and whenever I’m there we catch up. I still call him MobileMe John.

After standing in line for a few hours, the store finally opened. It didn’t take long before I was paired up with an employee. I bought a 16GB iPhone 3G, in black, naturally. Of course, AT&T’s activation servers had already turned into molten slag, so setup didn’t get very far. The employee offered that I could stay and finish setup there whenever the servers connected again, or if I was comfortable with it I could finish the process of activating and porting my number at home via iTunes.

I thanked him, he gave me a high five, and I left the store, got more coffee, and drove home. Once I got back to my apartment I plugged my new iPhone into my MacBook, and started the setup process on iTunes. Activation was still unsuccessful, but trying. I decided to sleep while it did its thing. A couple hours later I was awoken by the shimmering sound of an iPhone connecting. Bleary-eyed, I looked at the screen. Activation successful.

I set up my iPhone from my iPod touch’s backup, and it worked flawlessly. I started installing apps: Twitterrific, Facebook, AIM, and a lightsaber app.

Fast-forward to the early hours of July 15. My wife tells me it is time to go to the hospital. I begin using the Clock app’s stopwatch to time contractions, using the lap function. When our doctor arrived at the hospital, he remembered my iPhone from our last visit with him the day before, and he cracked a joke asking if I would use the lightsaber app to cut the cord in a little while. No one thought it was funny.

A few hours after Jonathan was born, I took a photo of him with my iPhone, shared it to Mail, filled out a little message with the time, his length, weight — all that stuff people ask about when a baby is born — and then sent it to a bunch of people.

And ever since then some iteration of the iPhone has always been in my pocket. As strange as it sounds, the iPhone has been a part of my family. As the hardware became better, it has become my primary camera. I’ve taken more photos with the iPhone over the past ten years than I had taken at any other time in my life. I’ve made friends through this screen, both near and far. I’ve chronicled joyful and painful times of my life into it. My son and I have pointed it at the sky and seen constellations light up.

This object of glass is the technology I dreamed of as a kid watching Star Trek. It is my tricorder, my communicator, and my captain’s log. In many ways, it’s more than that — because it can become anything I need it to be.

¶ iPhone Batteries and Performance

A little over a week ago Apple addressed the perception some users had about their iPhones running slower. Apple’s statement then:

Our goal is to deliver the best experience for customers, which includes overall performance and prolonging the life of their devices. Lithium-ion batteries become less capable of supplying peak current demands when in cold conditions, have a low battery charge or as they age over time, which can result in the device unexpectedly shutting down to protect its electronic components.

Last year we released a feature for iPhone 6, iPhone 6s and iPhone SE to smooth out the instantaneous peaks only when needed to prevent the device from unexpectedly shutting down during these conditions. We’ve now extended that feature to iPhone 7 with iOS 11.2, and plan to add support for other products in the future.

Put simply, Apple stated (admitted?) that they began limiting the power draw on the battery during peak performance in January 2017 on iPhones with aged batteries that couldn’t handle the load.

I believe Apple in that the goal of this software feature was to prevent unexpected shutdowns, thus extending the useful life of an older iPhone, even if that meant it wasn’t as performant as it was when brand new.

The rest of the Internet seemed to disagree, and took this as proof of the age-old conspiracy theory that Apple intentionally plans the obsolescence of iPhones to drive sales of newer models.

That idea is folly, and ridiculous. Full stop.

This evidence is in the history. Apple offers software and hardware support for older models of phones far longer than anyone else in the industry. They also sell older models brand new at more affordable prices to make sure there is an iPhone model for almost anyone.

It simply does not make any sense that Apple would plan to slow down a brand new older model to push someone to buy a newer, more expensive model. That works directly against Apple’s best interests for itself and its customers.

That said, the perception that Apple intentionally hobbles devices out of greed is one that is rampant, and has been for years. I have family who outright believe it. And Apple’s lack of communication and clarity at the outset of rolling out this feature only helped to sow more distrust.

This afternoon, Apple blinked. They issued an open letter apologizing for their lack of clarity.

We’ve been hearing feedback from our customers about the way we handle performance for iPhones with older batteries and how we have communicated that process. We know that some of you feel Apple has let you down. We apologize. There’s been a lot of misunderstanding about this issue, so we would like to clarify and let you know about some changes we’re making.

First and foremost, we have never — and would never — do anything to intentionally shorten the life of any Apple product, or degrade the user experience to drive customer upgrades. Our goal has always been to create products that our customers love, and making iPhones last as long as possible is an important part of that.

I very much believe Apple in that second paragraph. It fits in line with the history of their actions. To drive the point home further, Apple concludes with action.

We’ve always wanted our customers to be able to use their iPhones as long as possible. We’re proud that Apple products are known for their durability, and for holding their value longer than our competitors’ devices.

To address our customers’ concerns, to recognize their loyalty and to regain the trust of anyone who may have doubted Apple’s intentions, we’ve decided to take the following steps:

  • Apple is reducing the price of an out-of-warranty iPhone battery replacement by $50 — from $79 to $29 — for anyone with an iPhone 6 or later whose battery needs to be replaced, available worldwide through December 2018. Details will be provided soon on apple.com.
  • Early in 2018, we will issue an iOS software update with new features that give users more visibility into the health of their iPhone’s battery, so they can see for themselves if its condition is affecting performance.
  • As always, our team is working on ways to make the user experience even better, including improving how we manage performance and avoid unexpected shutdowns as batteries age.

At Apple, our customers’ trust means everything to us. We will never stop working to earn and maintain it. We are able to do the work we love only because of your faith and support — and we will never forget that or take it for granted.

Apple is making the right moves here. They are carving themselves off a giant piece of humble pie. The forthcoming update to iOS with greater transparency for battery health is how this feature should have been introduced. The $29 battery replacement fee should probably be permanent instead of just for 2018. We’ll see what happens there.

I can’t sum up my thoughts about Apple’s misstep with communication better than John Gruber did earlier today:

The funny thing about Apple is that their communication problems tend to happen only when they don’t communicate at all. This whole iPhone battery controversy erupted only because Apple had never explained what was going on, which opened them up to accusations of nefarious intent. When they do communicate, they do so with clarity, plain language, and honesty. And, when called for — as in this case — humility.

¶ On Privacy and Servicing Apple Devices

Yesterday my friend Adam asked me for advice on what he should do when taking his Mac in for service at the Apple Store.

The question is simple: Should the drive be wiped for privacy reasons?

The answer is equally simple: Yes.

That said, Apple shouldn't even be making a person consider this question. The problem in this entire situation is Apple requiring the admin password in order to service a device.

And it is indeed a requirement. I've been asked for my admin password on a Mac or the device unlock code on an iPhone by Apple Store employees before. And I have tried to refuse in the past, at which point the Apple employee will promptly cease helping you.

This is wrong. Apple should not require me to write down my password on a piece of paper and then take my device into another room for hours on end. Also, they do not inform you what happens to that piece of paper containing the password when service is finished. For all I know my encrypted drive could have been cloned and the admin password is now known in order to decrypt it.

Now, I'm the type that knows this dance with servicing devices, and I make a backup and wipe the device prior to service, using a simple generic password for the device during the service period. After I receive the device back, I need to spend a great deal of time restoring the device from backup.

It's inconvenient and unnecessary.

I have a proposed solution for this and Apple could build into every device they make. Create a service partition. A service partition of the device's storage would allow Apple to boot up and test the functions of the device without having access to user data. This partition would not have admin rights to the system, but would provide only the access necessary to run tests to ensure service was successful.

I imagine this being similar to booting up a Mac into Apple Diagnostics or macOS Recovery. With a Service Partition, core functions for testing would exist, without providing access to user data. No password is needed. Privacy is maintained.

Apple should build this into macOS, iOS, watchOS, and tvOS to protect their users and make servicing devices more efficient.

¶ AirPods | Review

The iPhone 7 famously removed the 3.5mm headphone jack that has long been on most audio devices for as long as I can remember. In its stead, Apple offered three solutions:

  1. A Lighting-to-3.5mm adapter, included in the box.
  2. An updated version of EarPods, now featuring a Lightning connector, also included in the box.
  3. Go wireless with bluetooth headphones.

To emphasize the third option Apple unveiled their new wireless AirPods. They look nearly identical to EarPods, as if someone had taken a scissors and snipped the cables off. For storage and charging the AirPods slide into a case not much larger than a container of floss, which houses a battery for on-the-go charging and a Lightning connector to recharge the case itself.

Apple promised to deliver the AirPods in October, shortly after the iPhone 7 launched, but something came up that necessitated a delay. Consequently, they launched right before Christmas. And thanks to some quick action by \Santa\ my wife, I had a very nice Christmas gift under the tree.

The Setup

AirPods are ridiculously easy to setup. With my iPhone unlocked I just flipped open the charging case with the AirPods inside it. I brought the case about an inch from my phone and a little card slid up from the bottom of the screen with a Connect button. Tapping that instantly paired them to my iPhone.

And since I use all Apple devices for my computing, iCloud synced that pairing to my iPad, Apple Watch, MacBook Air, and (presumably) the MacBook Pro I use at work.

Switching between devices is as easy as selecting the AirPods from the audio output list on the device I want to use them with. Sure, it’s not as easy as unplugging the standard headphone jack and plugging it into another device, but it’s also not difficult and the AirPods switch between devices pretty quickly.

The Fit

I’ve been using Apple’s iconic white earbuds since I bought my first iPod back in college. Those initial earbuds didn’t fit great the sound was subpar. Nonetheless I wore them because they were iconic. They were a status symbol, and college-me was a bit vain.

In 2012 Apple revised their earbuds when they introduced the EarPods alongside the iPhone 5. EarPods promised a better fit and better sound. For me, they delivered on both fronts. I’m willing to entertain the thought that one night Jony Ive snuck into my room while I was sleeping in order to take an injection mold of my ears. That’s how well EarPods fit me.

My wife, on the other hand, cannot use EarPods. They fall right out of her ears. And if she can manage to keep them in for any length of time, her ears begin to hurt. You’re mileage will vary.

In short, AirPods fit exactly like EarPods. If you like the fit of EarPods, you will love the fit of AirPods. If EarPods won’t stay in your ears, then AirPods likely won’t either.

The Experience

AirPods sound great. The audio quality is a little richer than regular EarPods, as they have a bit more bass to them. It’s not a dramatic improvement, but it is noticeable. And that bass isn’t too heavy; it is just enough to give a nicer sound.

One place I’ve longed to have wireless headphones is at the gym. Inevitably I always catch the EarPods’s cable and painfully yank them from my ears. AirPods solve this completely. They are truly wireless, and they stay put in my ears no matter how much my head jostles.

One part of the gym I hadn’t considered before is when I am changing back to my regular clothes. Normally I would need to pause whatever I am listening to so I could change, as the cable is in the way. With AirPods, I can change my shirt without any issues, so I can keep listening.

AirPods also do the right thing in my car. While listening to music as I left the gym, I got into my car, started it, and plugged my iPhone into my Griffin iTrip Aux. The audio switched from my AirPods to my car stereo without skipping a beat. A moment later I double tapped the right AirPod, the music paused, and Siri activated via the AirPod. I asked Siri to call my wife, and it connected the call through the AirPods. When I finished the call, the music resumed through the car’s speakers. Perfect.

Another nice touch is removing just one AirPod from my ear pauses playback, which is handy when I am ordering coffee and want to pause my music and show the barista I am listening to him or her. Popping the AirPod back in resumes playback.

The Aesthetics

AirPods are nice looking, however, they do look a bit dorky in your ears. Family members have joked that it looks a bit like I have Q-tips hanging out of my ears. It is kind of amazing how removing the cable from the earbuds drastically ups the nerd factor.

I have to wonder how the AirPods would look in a Jet Black finish. I bet that would look pretty sweet.

The Battery

Each AirPod has a tiny battery in it that is supposed to last up to 5 hours of use. The case they slide into is their recharging station, itself having a battery in it that provides up to another 24 hours of charge. The case recharges via a Lightning port on the bottom.

So far battery life seems to meet expectations, but I haven’t given everything a thorough rundown yet.

What is really nice is that the AirPods recharge quickly. 15 minutes in the case will give them 3 hours worth of juice.

The Downsides

There is one major downside to the AirPods compared to EarPods. The EarPods have an inline remote with volume and playback controls. These controls are really handy and quick to use.

With AirPods there’s only a single control gesture: double tap. This can be set to Play/Pause or to activate Siri. That’s it. And it is one or the other. There is not a way to quickly adjust volume or go forward or back a track. To do that you need to activate Siri, speak a command, then wait for Siri to do what you asked.

What I have decided to do instead is tap the side button on my Apple Watch, tap Now Playing, and use that to adjust volume or track selection. It works, but it is a bit of a pain. That said, it is faster than having Siri accomplish the same task.

I hope Apple can add more tap gestures to the AirPods via an update. I’d really like to see taps mimic the inline remote of AirPods. Single tap for Play/Pause, double tap for track forward, triple tap for track backward, and tap & hold for Siri.

Maybe single tap is not available so you don’t get a false positive on activation. If that is the case, perhaps double tapping the left AirPod could handle Play/Pause and double tapping the right AirPod could handle Siri.

Wrapping Up

AirPods are probably one of the neatest gadgets I’ve used in recent memory. There’s a ton of technology packed into these tiny earbuds and that allows them to do things the way you’d expect in almost every situation. It’s clear that Apple spent a lot of time sweating the details to make AirPods delightful to use.

If the standard EarPods fit your ears, I think the AirPods are a must own for any iPhone user. The experience is magnified if you use other Apple products like an iPad or Mac.

In the wake of the uproar over the iPhone 7 removing the 3.5mm headphone jack, the AirPods succeed in completing Apple’s story of a wireless future.

On Apple’s Nostalgia

This morning Apple announced a new photo book chronicling roughly the past 20 years of Apple's designs. It is dedicated to the memory of Steve Jobs. I've seen some folks on Twitter taking umbrage with that dedication, noting that Steve Jobs was adament to not dwell on the past.

I enjoyed Stephen Hackett's thoughts on Apple being nostalgic:

The point is that while nostalgia was not part of Jobs’ DNA, it has resurfaced in Apple’s. The company is changing, and part of that includes things like this new book.

Some find it troubling or uncomfortable, but I don’t think it is. A photo book of Macs and iPhones isn’t what is keeping Apple from releasing a Mac Pro. A promo video including the iBook G3 didn’t force the company to remove MagSafe from its new notebooks.

Apple can continue to push ahead, even as it allows itself the occasional glance in the rearview mirror. The company has an amazing history, and it’s okay to be proud of it.

It is absolutely okay for Apple to be proud of its history. I'll go a step further and say that in the post-Jobs Apple, it is necessary for Apple to remember the roots established by Steve Jobs.

This wasnt necessary when Steve was with us. He was present to continue driving the vision — his vision — of Apple. Steve is gone. If Apple doesn't take moments to look back and remember that vision, then Apple may lose its way.

As long as the of today and the Apple of tomorrow continues to glance back at its roots, I think it will stay true to course.

40 Years of Apple

Today is Apple's 40th anniversary. That's right, the company got its start on April 1, 1976. It's no joke. Apple has had an amazing history.

Apple has been a part of my life for 25 years. I have so many fond memories of playing Swashbuckler and Spy's Demise on my Grandpa's Apple II, while sitting on his lap. And that Mac Classic my folks brought home in 1990. And how the first photo of my son that I shared with family and friends was taken and sent with the iPhone 3G I bought just days before.

I really enjoyed this video featuring journalist Walt Mossberg, as he recalls some great stories he's had over the years about Apple and its products.

Here's to the crazy ones.

Apple's Classic Hotrod

I have yet to use the new iPhone SE, which was released today, but everything about it sounds like a winner in my book for many folks. I always loved the design of the iPhone 5 and 5s, and the SE uses that with most of the guts of the latest and greatest iPhone 6s. So far I've recommended it to a few friends who are either considering their first smartphone or finally upgrading from an iPhone 5.

I read a couple reviews and so far my favorite has been Jim Dalrymple's.

Look at the iPhone SE like this.

Pick your favorite classic car. An old Corvette or Mustang—whatever your favorite car is. That design will always be classic, no matter what has happened in the automobile industry in the last 40 years, those 1960s designs will always be classic.

Now, take that classic car design and replace the engine, drive train, and everything else you can think of. What do you have? A hotrod. An incredible classic design with the most advanced technology that you could put in it.

That is the iPhone SE. A classic design with a lot of the newest and greatest technology.

The iPhone SE is Apple’s classic hotrod.

I've always been a latest & greatest kind of person myself, but I certainly can appreciate a timeless classic.