Photos versus photos…

iu

Tim Cook’s opinion on Google Photos

Photos – I have thousands of them, and being an Apple user, I’ve always trusted Apple software to organise and display them.

Over the years, Apple’s venerable Photos Mac application has grown from a sleek, polished app with great editing tools, spawned a serious Photoshop-like killer (Aperture), but has since withered to a bloated, slow, skeumorphic mess, and poor Aperture has been unceremoniously discontinued, leaving Adobe to soak up the bitter ex-Aperture users.

From this mess, is born a brand new Apple Photos app and a brand new viewpoint of where Apple sees photos on the Mac going.

Well – it’s a 1.0 that’s for sure. It takes some getting used to, and it needs a 1.x update, but if there’s one it is – it’s fast, and the editing tools are amazing, not Aperture-amazing, but a great start.

Alongside Apple’s Photos, comes a new Google Photos app, named well, Google Photos. Being from Google, the King of Search®, it’s based online. By all accounts the editing tools are not stellar, and your photos are compressed in various forms, along with other limitations that are inherent in this online approach.

I’m skimming briefly over the actual apps, because let’s face it, there’s not a lot to say about them – they hold your photos in one place and allow you some editing tools that not many people know how to use anyway.

Apple, to their credit, has hit upon a novel approach here – the various editing tools are simply point and click, with a drop down menu if you want to tweak, but in my view the problem with everyone’s photos, regardless of platform is that we have too many of them to edit, tag, file, and sort through, and it’s Google that potentially raised the bar here.

The problem with everyone’s photos, regardless of platform is that we have too many of them to edit, tag, file and sort through.

This brings me to the main crux of Apple Photos versus Google Photos – it’s the philosophy behind the apps, in terms of where they are stored and how you search for them, and it illustrates the philosophy behind Apple versus Google.

Apple’s approach is obvious. Apple makes hardware, they make money on hardware (lots of it) and they want you to buy more of it. So it follows that Apple Photos editing tools are top-notch and your photos stay on your hardware, with the potential upload to the cloud (which you have to pay for) is a secondary concern.

Google’s approach is obvious. Google is an advertising company, they make money (lots of it) through targeted ads, and they want to serve you as many targeted, relevant ads as they can. This is not for Google’s users benefit, this is to benefit Google so that they can attract advertisers with accurate user behaviour profiles, so they can make money. The uploading to the cloud part is a primary concern to their business.

The philosophy behind Apple and Google’s approach is based upon inherent concerns that stem from their business models (despite what they say to the contrary), and it helps that there’s a point of difference between them, so users have to make a choice and be potentially locked into either service.

The problem for me here is transparency.

Apple’s consumer-facing statement is that they are concerned about their user’s privacy, and will not jeopardise that to make money. Any money you give to Apple is transparent and up-front, you pay for hardware, software and services – and that’s it.

Google’s consumer-facing statement says that they want to organise the world’s information to help it’s users, everything they provide is free – and that’s it.

Now, there’s an army of Google users out there that know only too well that Google’s approach comes at a price – they are mining and exploiting your behaviour online, with sometimes unsettling results.

It may be an army, but it’s a drop in the ocean to the vast majority of Google users – they simply don’t know or care what’s Google is doing.

What Google have done is basically put your photos into a sealed-off version of the web. They’ve leveraged the mature tools they have for search into a very attractive package. Your average Joe can’t surf and turf through your photos (yet, but that’s only and online exploit away), but the behavioural data that’s in them is fair game to advertisers.

The vast majority of Google users don’t care about this, but that’s because they don’t know what’s happening.

Apple’s business plan is transparent – you pay for services and walk away – that’s the truth.

Google’s business plan is opaque – you get everything for free and walk away – that’s a lie.

Most tech pundits have conceded that nobody cares – but we don’t really know that, and we won’t know that until Google is completely transparent about what they are doing with your info.

If the average Google user was presented with a dialog box stating clearly what Google will do with the info after you’ve just signed up for one of their free services (be it email, surfing habits or photos of your kids), we all might start caring about this.

Google will never do this, so it’s up to Apple to make people aware and to start caring again.

Apple says that you can have all the benefits of Google’s approach without giving up your privacy. I’m not convinced of that – I say to Apple, instead of talking about it, you need to just do it – then you can talk about it.

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More differences…

16-Pieces-Precision-Star-font-b-Tor-b-font-Flat-Hex-Philips-Bits-Screwdriver-Tools-Set

I’ve written at length of the reasons why Apple can exist, seemingly to the bafflement of the PC/Android/Windows press and users.

Why do people pay the Apple premium again and again?
Why don’t Apple users simply see the value in build-your-own PC’s and cheap Android phones?
Why are they wasting their money?
Why do they like being in a ‘walled garden’. etc, etc…

I could write another lengthy piece about how their definition of ‘value’ is skewed, and I have in the past talked about this in respect to Mac vs PC, but the point of this article is to illustrate that it doesn’t matter about whether it’s to do with Mac’s or PC’s, because it’s happening again with iOS vs Android, and would happen with any perceived ‘value’ proposition, the object in question is just transitory.

Recently I was in a coffee shop, waiting for my kids to meet me after a cinema visit. I was a bit early, so I sat down with my drink and decide to finally finish a book I’d been dipping in and out of – “Jony Ive” the book by Leander Kahney. (It’s an OK book, a bit boring in places though).

Sat near me, were a small group of ‘younger’, people (mid-20s, early 30s), simply enjoying the day, chatting and socialising. They had phones, mostly iPhones & Samsungs and a Windows phone.

One chap however was busy – very busy.

Next to all the drinks and chatter was an iPhone – in pieces. Screws, plates, tiny screwdrivers were carefully positioned whilst he prodded and poked inside.

The others were busy talking, but one turned to him and said (their emphasis), “what are you doing?”

His reply illustrates my point perfectly.

“I’m adjusting the sensors of course”, he said firmly, (his emphasis).

Shortly after my kids turned up and I never found out whether that poor iPhone 4 (I think) was ever resurrected.

And there’s the rub – I use an iPhone (as most do), to actually use it. Reading, surfing, texting and even phoning people sometimes too.

Some people though are more concerned with tweaking, adjusting and maintaining. There will always be a market for those types, and Android and Windows is perfect for them – heck, I bet their car and possibly even their TV is in pieces most of the time also.

The market’s getting smaller though, hopefully it will disappear at some point and we can all get on with enjoying our objects, instead of maintaining them.

and another thing…

radiowaves

Coming back to the issue of Apple’s software quality, it got me thinking a lot more critically of all the issues I have to deal with, using Apple hardware and software on a day-to-day basis.

The wi-fi issue is a show-stopper, especially for a Mac that doesn’t have an ethernet port, but here’s a few other, that simply have no solution:

1) SMB connections in Mavericks. Simply don’t do it. The SMB stack in Mavericks is so broken, it is less than unusable. It’s slow, glacially slow and should have never been shipped.
My solution? I make sure that all Mac’s use AFP connections.
Apple solution? Switch to Yosemite which has SMB3.

2) Outlook meeting invitations in Apple Mail/Apple calendar. Doesn’t work. Invites from Outlook users either don’t get through, or display a cryptic error message when accepting. On the odd occasion they do work, the acceptance doesn’t always get back to the PC. Useless.
My solution? Don’t use it and hope that Microsoft upgrades Mac Outlook so it works.
Apple solution? Crickets…

3) Handoff and continuity. It doesn’t work, at least not reliably. The compatible Mac’s (2 Airs, 2 iPods, 2 iPhones), sometimes see each other, sometimes not. Continuity I’ve got to work once.
My solution? Don’t use it.
Apple solution? Future update may make it work? Maybe?

4) Family sharing. Kind of works, but if one of your siblings has credit in their iTunes account, and buys something, it comes of of the organiser’s credit card. I’ve had the kids not able to open an app I’ve already given permission to, and the only solution is to re-purchase it.
My solution? Don’t use it.
Apple solution? Future update may make it work? Maybe?

5) Parental controls. Doesn’t work (stopped working in Mavericks). It logs the kids out hours before it should, it says you can only log in after a certain time, even when that time has passed. Lots of other issues.
My solution? Don’t use it.
Apple solution? Still doesn’t work in Yosemite. Who knows.

I’ve used Mac’s for over 20 years, and the worrying pattern here is that when something doesn’t work, Apple simply ignores it if you can get by not using it, or fixes it in a future version of the OS, which then brings a whole host of new problems.

That’s probably the reason the OS is now free, so at least you can’t complain about being charged for ‘a bug fix’.

I know Apple doesn’t listen, but they need a ‘Snow Leopard’ moment.

Apple – stop. Look at the bug list, work your way through it and release it when it’s ready.

If that takes 2 years then so be it – it’s not like you’re going to run out of money is it?

Apple’s software quality…

Cockroach

A lot has been made recently concerning the perception that Apple’s software of late, isn’t up to the moniker of ‘it just works’.

We all know that’s just a marketing term, that like most, doesn’t stand up to detailed scrutiny in any company, least of all Apple.

We’ve all had that situation where a certain feature isn’t reliable and we just end up not using it, or finding an alternative way of doing that feature.

However I think we’ve reached a tipping point here where the drip, drip affect of increasing unreliability has brought all this to a head.

I can reference other people’s experience, but this time I’ve plenty of my own.

I purchased a new MacBook Air 13″ for my son for Christmas. It was an upgrade to his existing MBA 11″, which was trickling down to his brother.

A few weeks before Christmas the package arrived, and shortly after I decided to transfer the account from the old Air to the new one.
Switching the new Air on, I set up the account, and the Air tried to connect to my network. It could, but kept dropping the signal.
I’d heard about Yosemite’s wi-fi ‘issue’ so I upgraded to 10.10.1. This didn’t help.

So I thought that maybe transferring the account would solve this, as the other Air (and other Mac’s, iPod’s & iPhones in the house had no trouble).

I couldn’t get it to work. Both Air’s were on the same wireless network, but I couldn’t get them to connect.

Googling, I found that wireless transfer of account wasn’t a wise choice, so I purchase a Thunderbolt cable and did it that way. It still didn’t work.

So in the end I used a Time Machine backup to restore the account. This worked and 15 minutes later the Air was ready.

It still had the wi-fi issue, so I hoped that an update before Christmas would sort it out.

Christmas came, and an initially happy boy was disappointed that he couldn’t stay online.

The specific symptoms were:

1) On restart the Air connected fine.
2) 10-15 minutes later, the wi-fi stopped working.
3) The wi-fi was ‘on’ in the menubar, but with no wireless access points listed.
4) Opening up network prefs, it said wi-fi was off. Pressing the ‘on’ button did nothing.
5) On restart it worked again, but 10-15 minutes later… ad infinitum..

Over the next 2-3 weeks I tried everything. Pref files, resets, settings, terminal – nothing worked.
So I took it to a Genius and he of course couldn’t replicate the issue and reinstalled Yosemite.
On returning home, it couldn’t even see my wireless network.

So in frustration I rang the 90 support line. They called it in.
2 days later they managed to replicate the issue, and swapped out the wireless card and it’s now working fine.

But this wasn’t a hardware issue. The issue was solved by swapping hardware, but I erased and emergency recovered the OS prior to sending this back. It took about 2 hours, on my network – no wireless issues at all.

The emergency partition doesn’t use Yosemite drivers – therefore it’s a software OS problem.

Phew – that was my issue, lots of others have this issue, with lots of different configurations.

But my main problem is on principal – Apple sold me a brand new Mac that didn’t work.

Let me repeat that – Apple sold me a brand new Mac that didn’t work. A £1k Mac, a premium product – it didn’t work, fresh out of the box.

These are the kind of stories that you used to here from Dell users, bargain basement PC’s that simply didn’t operate correctly.

They could blame Microsoft (and Microsoft blamed Dell), but this is Apple.

Apple for christ’s sake.

Something is going on here, something in the OS development process at Apple is seriously wrong – and it needs to change.

I’m following a thread on Apple Support Communities here, and some are reporting that 10.10.2 hasn’t solved the issue for them.

I haven’t installed 10.10.2 on the 2 Air’s yet, I’ll make sure I’ve got a TM backup if I need to roll back, but this is Apple people – I shouldn’t have to be this careful.

It seems that Apple’s ambition of Handoff & Continuity isn’t ready for primetime – they need to fix this, or admit there’s an issue, and disable it.

Much-needed iWatch thoughts…

Much-needed iWatch thoughts « John Moltzs Very Nice Web Site

Much-needed iWatch thoughts « John Moltzs Very Nice Web Site.

Great article by John Moltz at ‘Very Nice Website’.

Could not agree more with all these points, if the iWatch has notifications, it will drive me crazy also, and to mis-quote Steve Jobs it will eventually, “sit unused in a drawer somewhere’ just like my old Palm.

A point I’d not thought of though was the reason why Android Watches have notifications – it’s to send you ads, which is basically the reason Android exists.

Payments? I’ve always been very scared of NFC and the ability to ‘touch and pay’. I like to keep many barriers and steps between my money and a company who wants my money.

I’d like even more barriers between the potential thief of my device and my money – NFC makes it much too easy, so if the iWatch had this, then security would have to be bullet-proof.

The main point for me, is that it would have to be small. I have quite skinny wrists for a man, and most men’s watches look ridiculous on me (maybe I’ll look at the rumoured ‘female’ version of the iWatch!).

Sensors are a given, but again, security, security, security Apple – make it work.

And finally the most important features – it’s name. I really hope it’s not ‘iWatch’. I’d like Apple to simply evolve what they already have – iPod.

Retire the big iPod (now the the iPhone is rumoured to have a 64gb model), and re-position the 2 remaining iPods as wearables and call them iPods.

The iPod – evolved – would be a nice touch and a way to keep the complexity to a minimum and be a simpler message to sell to the public.

September 9th, we’ll know more.

Elegy for the iPod, the device that transformed Apple | Macworld

iPod!

 

Elegy for the iPod, the device that transformed Apple | Macworld.

Nice article looking back over the phenomenon that was / is the iPod.

I remember when it was released, Steve Jobs said (paraphrasing), “We’re going to announce something new – and it’s not a Mac”.

I thought at the time it was a nice idea but expensive. Since that day I have bought:

iPod mini (still works but unused)

iPod classic (still in use in the car)

iPod shuffle (sadly lost to the washing machine)

iPod Nano (still in use at the gym)

iPod touches (about 5 of them for various members of the family).

Yes – the iPod did chance Apple forever – it allowed the masses to experience the Apple brand and understand what those crazy Mac users have been going on about for all those years – a significant amount of them joined us also.

Apple Will Murder Microsoft and Bury It With BlackBerrys Corpse – Rocco Riffs – TheStreet

Have a nice day...

Apple Will Murder Microsoft and Bury It With BlackBerrys Corpse – Rocco Riffs – TheStreet.

This is a significant article.

I’ve written at length for my distrust of Microsoft, representing in my view, a road that personal and business computing should have never gone down.

Microsoft got lucky with DOS – everything else, Windows, Office, Sharepoint, .Net, Exchange – it’s all momentum from that huge mistake that IBM made all those years ago, letting Bill Gates provide a disk operating system he didn’t even own at that point.

It allowed ‘computing for the rest of us’ to be a ridiculed statement made by a company that didn’t understand what ‘business’ needed.

Over the years, Apple has struggled on, sometimes lacking any direction, sometimes having the odd big success, but even that was dismissed as transitory – the mantra being that Apple needs a hit every year or two, otherwise it would just fade away.

Meanwhile Microsoft soldiered on, knowing that their army of IT people whose jobs depended on Microsoft staying in pole position, would keep them healthy.

An almost parasitic dependancy on each other developed, Microsoft need those IT managers to keep fooling company’s into believing there is no alternative, and those IT managers need Microsoft to keep the technology just opaque enough so that their jobs are safe, the rest of us suffered, or worse, carried on, not even knowing there was an alternative.

One thing they didn’t bank on was BYOD – bring your own device. Even in my little corner of the world, away from the US and even London, I’ve seen the effect. More people are choosing ‘anything but Microsoft’ for their personal computer and phone needs.

It’s still early days, and I don’t see a Mac on every desk anytime soon, but the article puts it perfectly:

“These days consumer preference dictates enterprise decisions. If you’re not powerfully out in front with the consumer, you’re going to end up getting hurt in the enterprise. That’s why it was smart for IBM to partner with Apple. Led by Apple, they’ll bury Microsoft in the same grave BlackBerry cluelessly fell into.”

Apple’s joint enterprise with IBM is very significant, as is this article. I’ve never seen any commentator dare even mention this as an option. I’ve also never seen anything like this from Apple either.

The enterprise doesn’t mention Macs, but I can understand that. In the eyes of business, the Mac brand is tainted (even though it’s a world away from the Mac of 1984).

However it doesn’t matter – the juggernaut that is iOS is the Mac OS underneath. Everyone knows that, Microsoft knows that, IBM knows that. What they don’t know is what iOS devices Apple will release in the coming years, which will be automatically part of the agreement.

If you consider that iOS and Mac OS will merge at some point and what the device Apple will merge them on will look like, you can start to see a future where we will all be using devices that run iOS.

Any IT manager still clinging on to Windows will use it in the server room where it belongs – just don’t let any normal person near it.

And I haven’t even mentioned the software services that Apple offers as part of this agreement – why would you choose Office when (an admittedly enhanced) iWork is free?

 

 

Consumers want what we don’t have…

whatsgoingon

via Apple Acknowledges Consumers Want Larger and Cheaper Phones – Mac Rumors.

Very interesting post from MacRumors.com, on the perceived evolution of Apple’s customer base, to-wit,”consumers want what we don’t have”.

As new players enter the market, the customer’s needs change, this is inevitable in any free-market and it’s something that Apple used to be very good at despite all the dogma that, “Apple abhors focus groups, and doesn’t listen to it’s customers.”

Take the iPod for instance.

The iPod started of in as much the same way as the iPhone, a very expensive, albeit limited answer to a market that already existed.

Over time, new models were introduced, the hardware got a lot cheaper, and every single market niche was eventually filled, from the music-mad (100g+ iPod classic for all your songs), to the teen with limited cash, (the iPod mini/nano), onto the bargain-basement little iPod shuffle.

The iTunes store gained traction and ALL the hardware from the high end to the low-end was serviced by the iTunes store.

To the point we are now at where the competition to the iPod doesn’t exist, it’s been destroyed, other than extremely cheap devices that are little more than USB sticks with a few extras.

Game, set and match.

You can argue that the bottom has fallen out of the iPod market, now that the iPod touch fills most of what remains, however all the iPod line is still on sale.

So why hasn’t this happened with the iPhone?

Where is our iPhone mini or nano?

Where is our iPhone shuffle, or the candy-bar phone equivalent?

While we’re at it, why can’t developers write apps for the AppleTV?

Why doesn’t Apple view the iPhone market, in the same way the viewed the iPod market?

It would certainly work, the AppStore is perfectly capable of servicing every model of iPhone, with apps that can only run on certain hardware, (you can’t view videos on an iPod shuffle like you can on an iPod classic for instance).

Lot’s of why’s, very little answers.

Looking at some of the internal memos that have come out from the Apple / Samsung trial, it’s clear that there’s a struggle going on at the top of Apple, in what they stand for, what markets they should service, and what their profit-margins should be.

It’s clear that Apple needs to get focused and act like a start-up, like they used to.

Apple Argues that Copying Was Built into Samsung’s Development Process – The Mac Observer

Apple Argues that Copying Was Built into Samsung’s Development Process – The Mac Observer.

“Apple told a jury on Tuesday that Samsung didn’t just copy Apple’s intellectual property, but that deliberately copying the iPhone was part of Samsung’s “development process.” “

You can (and many people have) argued until they are blue in the face regarding whether Samsung copied Apple after it launched the iPhone in 2007, however from my point of view, I remember an incident very shortly after the launch of the iPhone that illustrates the ‘common man’ point of view.

I was wandering through my local computer superstore, looking for a phone for my son. It was to be his first phone and was going to be a very cheap, dumb feature phone.

He of course, wanted an contract iPhone, but as he was only 11 at the time, that wasn’t going to happen.

As I was looking around the store I noticed that the iPhones were separated from all the other phones (for branding purposes), and it was very clear that the iPhones were for one particular wage-bracket, and the other phones were… let’s just say they were cheap.

My son then exclaimed that he’d seen an iPhone for under £100 and that’s the one he wanted.

I scoffed of course, but upon looking, just for a second I thought – ‘they’ve made a mistake here, what’s an iPhone doing in the ‘cheap phone’ section’.

But it wasn’t an iPhone.

It looked like an iPhone, it had the same metal band around the edges, the same colour, the same rounded edges, a not too dissimilar button at the bottom, but it wasn’t an iPhone – it was a Samsung Galaxy S:

At that, in a nutshell, is Apple case.

Since then, Samsung have moved further away from copying Apple, but the first few phones from them in the wake of the iPhone, they deliberately, blatantly copied the iPhone.

The number of sales that Apple lost in that period is up to the courts, but this incident illustrated to me that Samsung rode on the back of Apple’s success and they need to punished for that.

TidBITS: Explaining the Apple Ebook Price Fixing Suit

TidBITS: Explaining the Apple Ebook Price Fixing Suit.

I was looking for a totally impartial, warts-and-all, facts-based run-down of the Ebooks lawsuit – here it is, summed up thusly:

“…there is nothing inherently illegal with the agency model, price tiers, or an MFN clause. And there isn’t even anything wrong with combining them in negotiation with a single company. The problem comes when they’re combined in negotiation with six publishers that between them control nearly 50 percent of the book market, and over 90 percent of the New York Times bestsellers.”

To be honest, I was ready to side with Apple on this, but they are the guilty, albeit well-meaning party in this lawsuit.

I get the impression that Apple, blinded by the envy/hatred that Amazon had sewn up 90% of the eBook market, saw themselves as some sort of saviour for the publishing industry, and like so many people before, executed badly and made things worse.

Let’s hope they learn their lesson.