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And They Said We Can’t Innovate

This week Apple is holding it’s yearly developers conference in San Francisco. Each year thousands of people attend and even more watch online to see what Apple has been working on for the last year. Because Apple has been riding the momentum they had created over the years, people felt that Apple had started to slip. New tech comes out so fast and companies like Samsung have been training us to believe that new tech should come every couple of months. At Apple’s keynote presentation yesterday it was apparent that Apple is smarter than most think they are. I watched the keynote from my iPhone as I waited in the airport to catch my flight to the Search Marketing Expo in Seattle. Since several people ask me what I think about Apple’s newest announcements, I thought I would write about it.

New Services

Apple continues to add value to their platform by adding new services like iTunes Radio, AirDrop for iPhone and iWork for iCloud.

itunes radioiTunes Radio: Many have said that an unlimited listening platform would hurt music sales in iTunes but I think it will work to their advantage. These days, when people listen to music and hear something new that they like, they go and download it. I have been an Rdio user for a few years now and when I really like a song, I often download it. Those who like to own their music and be able to access it anywhere will buy songs. iTunes Radio will work as a radio. It does not look like you will be able to listen to entire albums. From what I can tell, iTunes Radio is like Pandora but integrated into the music app. You will have to listen to ads but if you are an iTunes Match subscriber, you will have ad free listening.

iTunes Radio is very similar to Google Play Radio which was released at Google I/O just last month. Both services have curated music variety channels they produce. You can create your own channels based on a specific genre of music, artist or song. It’s pretty cool. Being that I have been using Rdio for so long, I tend to listen to an album or create my own playlists of music I know already. I am looking forward to moving back to a radio style listening experience.

AirDrop for iPhone: AirDrop for iPhone will be fantastic. I have been very tired of emailing myself photos or using a third party app that usually crashes or wrecks my photo library. The ability to share files with someone near you through AirDrop will make sending photos to my wife much easier. When I take a photo of our boys she always wants me to send it to her and this is usually a pain. With AirDrop enabled on your iPhone or iPad, you can send files to others who have AirDrop enabled and are near you. I will learn more about this feature once I get back to my office. Here in the conference center in Seattle I am pretty sure nobody else has iOS 7.

iWork for iCloud: I have not spent much time looking at iWork for iCloud but it will be nice to be able to edit docs online with out having to open them up in an app. Being that my workflow is entirely Mac and so is my office, we don’t really need to worry about collaborating with those who use other platforms such as Windows. What I am hoping for is an easy way to collaborate with documents that are saved in iCloud. Google has done well with this. Being able to share a document with others and work on it together is a neat feature. For Apple, I think that taking iWork to the cloud will make it easier for those unfamiliar with iWork to experience it. It will also make it easy to edit documents should you find yourself on a computer that does not have iWork installed on it. For people like me who have their MacBook Pro with them at all times, it will not matter as much. Apple even said that the native iWork apps will provide a better experience than the iCloud version. I am sure that there will be many more features added in the future as this is just the beginning of cloud document management for Apple.

OSX Mavericks

It’s not as catchy of a name but it’s the new OS coming for Mac and it looks fantastic. Apple has added many features that users such as myself have wanted. I am very excited about the features that will make it easier for multiple displays to be used with out effecting your single display use. Using a second display with my MacBook Pro has been a pain because when I disconnect that screen, all of my windows get reorganized. I like things to be where I left them and it looks like Apple has made it easier to use a second monitor.

There are a few hacks that I have used for years now that are being introduced into OSX Mavericks such as tabs in finder. I always hated having multiple finder windows open. Using tabs has made it easier to manage and get around different folders. I use TotalFinder which makes it easy to do this and easy to hide your finder window and bring it back when you need it. We will see if tabs in finder will be enough to get me to remove TotalFinder altogether.

I am super excited for Tagging. I always try to create a file structure that will help me remember where I saved files. I always end up with a couple of copies of files because I forget that I had already downloaded something and saved it. Tagging will make it easier for me to view items that may be in different folders but are part of the same project.

Battery life is going to be drastically improved in the new version. I have often struggled with the desire to have a long lasting battery and a powerful laptop. My MacBook Pro is maxed out with the most powerful processor and memory on the market because I need it to work quickly so I can get on to the next task. Longer battery life with out having to buy a new laptop sounds great to me.

Safari is looking great. Since Google announced the decommissioning of Reader, I have been trying to decide what I will use to read websites using RSS. I may end up using Safari for this. I currently use Google Chrome because I like having access to bookmarks, tabs, browsing history and pretty much everything else across all of my devices but now Safari will have this functionality as well. Though Google Chrome is pretty robust and works well, I may switch back to Safari for a while to see how it performs. As I write this, I am using Google Chrome but I will be giving Safari a try once OSX Mavericks is released.

iCloud Keychain is going to be a game changer. Password management in Google Chrome and most other browsers has been hit and miss. I have tried managing passwords using Chrome and the passwords are often not found when I try to access the same site on other devices. The only thing that is going to be a downfall of iCloud Keychain over Google Chrome Sync is the fact that iCloud Keychain will only be for iOS and Mac devices where as Google Chrome Sync works across all devices with Chrome installed which includes Android.

I have often avoided Calendar in OSX because it is a pain to use. I use Fantastical because it is much easier to use and manage calendar events. With the added features and Maps integration into Calendar, I think it will be much easier to manage events and tasks in Calendar than it was before.

iBooks coming to the Mac will actually make it useful to me. I purchase most of my books through Kindle because it works on all devices. iBooks is adding some really nice note taking features which will make it easy to read and take notes. For the classroom, this will be epic. I am pretty excited to see where this goes and how my kids will use it to learn in the coming years.

Mac Pro

I could not be more excited about the announcement of the soon to come Mac Pro. Most of the time I do not need that kind of power but when it comes to doing video, I need it. Allowing my iMac to render video during the day brings it to a crawl and I can’t accomplish much else while it is doing it. The Mac Pro usually can handle those tasks quickly and still have extra power to work on extra tasks. I am sure the price points will be similar but I am eagerly awaiting more info on this product.

iOS 7 and the No New iPhone

I installed the new iOS 7 yesterday and I have a love/hate relationship with it so far. I like many of the new features added, which I will explain below, but the design is going to take a lot of time to get used to.

The new flat design is not appealing to me. The shapes and designs look more like a mock up than they do actual user interface elements. This is not the first time I have disagreed with Apple’s design of things but I am pretty sure they know what they are doing. Being that about 2 months ago I switched to Android as my primary phone, I will have to spend more time with iOS 7 to see if it will make me want to switch back to iPhone as my primary device.

Apple did not announce a new iPhone, and I think that is smart. There is a small amount of people out there that would switch phones for slightly better performance in low light. This was the main reason I switched to the HTC One as my primary phone. I usually have my iPhone on me as well or with in reach, but the HTC One has been my phone since it came out a little over a month ago.

There are many new features in iOS 7 that will make it easier to use and more efficient. Many of the new bells and whistles in iOS 7 are just upgrades to already existing features. Here are a couple of my favorites.

  • Control Center – Now we have an easy way to do things like switch off Wifi, turn on the flashlight and adjust screen brightness.
  • Multitasking – More apps will have access to multitasking and apps will be updated with the new content when you launch them instead of launching them and then waiting for new content.
  • Notification Center – Now you can view notifications in the lock screen. The new notification center is much more robust and easy to manage.
  • AirDrop – Now you can share files with other people from iOS device to iOS device using AirDrop. Much easier to get photos and other stuff to your friends.
  • Photo App – Photos are managed much better. Instead of a huge list of images, everything is categorized and grouped, sometimes automatically for you.
  • Siri Updates – Siri is much more useful and smarter now. For me, I will use Siri to see tweets, read iMessages and turn on/off features of the phone.
  • Near Me Apps – You can see apps that are popular near you which is cool because you can see which games or social apps are popular in your area which makes using them more fun.

ios7photos ios7photos2

What is iOS 7 Missing?

In my opinion, Sharing is still broken in iOS. By broken, I mean that it never existed. In Android, I can take a photo in Snapseed, edit it and share it right to Instagram with in seconds. It is a nice workflow for making sure my images look good on their way to Instagram. When I come across an article that I want to share, I can share it to any of my social apps easily with a few taps. You can accomplish these things in iOS but you have to save your images then open them with the other app or copy an article link and paste it into the app you want to share with. It’s a process I try to avoid. I do not understand why iOS does not want to make it easy to share content to any app. I understand that they have Twitter and Facebook integrated into iOS but that is not good enough in a world where we are posting to multiple social networks and profiles. I don’t understand why any community manager or online social person would want to use anything else other than Android right now.

Typing should be on it’s way out. It is so much more efficient to Swype your words. Google has integrated this type of data entry into it’s core keyboard and many other keyboard apps on Android support different variations of Swype. Swype allows you to create words by dragging your finder over the letters as you spell out the word. To spell the word “phone” you would tap down on the letter p and drag your finger across the keyboard as you made your way over h, o, n and e. Once you get the hang of it you can knock out entire sentences very fast. I am so used to it that when I have to type normally on a smart phone it’s annoying. Apple should allow developers to create keyboard replacement apps like Android has allowed.

Innovation also seems to be missing from iOS 7. Though Apple has innovated some neat new products this year they failed to do much other than add some new flavor on top of features already had in previous versions of iOS. Being that they completely redesigned the look and feel of the iPhone operating system, I feel that was a cloak that covered up the fact that they should have developed some truly new features we didn’t know existed.

Apple Knows Best

I know that Apple has not just been sitting on their hands over the last couple of years. They have tons of amazing talent that I am sure is developing amazing technology that they are not ready to put out yet. I know that a huge part of it comes down to how much life they have left in other products. They didn’t release a new iPhone yet because they don’t have to. People are still buying the iPhone 5 and I bet sales will jump now that people know there is no iPhone 6 coming in the near future. Besides a better camera, I don’t need anything else out of my iPhone 5 as far as the device itself goes. Time will tell whether or not iOS 7 will be enough to keep my interest. Google didn’t announce a new version of Android at Google I/O this year so you can bet Android is just going to get better this year. I sure hope that Apple has a few bells and whistles left to add to iOS 7 before it’s final release.

It is evident in their new Mac Pro that Apple can innovate. That device is beautiful and will be a powerful trophy that will live on the desktop because it’s so nice to look at. The desktop computer no longer lives on the floor, I think that is what Apple aimed to do with the new Mac Pro.

The Macbook Air is also a revolutionary product. You can see that every pc manufacture has been trying to copy it as more and more laptops start to look like Macbook Airs and Macbook Pros. The fact that your laptop can last all day on a single charge is amazing. At these conferences that I attend we are all often sharing wall outlets to keep our laptops charged. Apple has definitely built technology that you can not afford to live with out.

What do you think?

How did you feel about the keynote? Do you think that Apple innovated this year?

2 Comments

  • Jason
    June 11, 2013 at 7:36 pm

    The Mac Pro looks amazing. That turbine/bullet look is super cool I think.

    I’m looking forward to the updates to OS X to get rolled out to my machine.

    The updates to iOS still isn’t enough to make me want to switch from Android. I’m pretty sure my next phone is going to be an HTC One.

  • jeradhill
    June 12, 2013 at 11:41 am

    You will love the HTC One. I love the phone and rarely touch my iPhone because of it.

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