Apple Services suck?

The current trendy opinion on Apple in the Twitter-verse and Inter-webs is that Apple services suck.

Ben Thompson is the most recent, in his article released today, titled “Divine Discontent: Disruption’s Antidote”.   It is a very good article on disruption, through the lens of Apple VS Amazon.  Apple Services are not the point of his article, per se, however, towards the beginning he tosses this quote in:

Apple is a product company that struggles at services; Amazon is a services company that struggles at product.

As much as I liked the whole article, this one quote bothered me to read, and continues to stick with me.

My experiences with Apple services are all pretty good.  I use Apple Music, iCloud Drive with desktop sync, iMessage, iPhone back ups, Health, Photos and Maps.  To say nothing about my contacts, calendars, and email all being available on all my devices, instantly.   Hell, I’m even using GameCenter all of a sudden for Churchill Solitaire!

They all work for me.

I’m not sure what Apple could do to make them work ‘more’ for me.  Things sync, they are available, they work.   (I guess my calendar items sometimes don’t sync quickly enough for my ADHD self.  But that is only once in a while.)

So, serious questions here – what has to happen for this popular narrative to change? Is there a way to change it?

Apple’s Ecosystem

I really like this long article by Federico Viticci for MacStories – deep dive into the power of the stock apps provided by Apple and how those tie together the Apple hardware together.

The article is not written from the point of an “Apple Fanboy” whatever that is… In fact, this quote is one of my favorites:

It’s possible to like something and still point out its flaws. This is an unpopular opinion both among those who think Apple can do no wrong, as well as folks who think they’ve done nothing important after Steve Jobs. I strongly believe that both extremist camps are misguided.

Federico echos my own, more limited experience – while it is incredible fun to try out new software and hardware, and it can be quite enlightening to do so, I find myself coming back to the stock apps and software.  Time after time I will try out a new calendar app, or to do app.  And, time after time, I find myself coming back to stock.

I do like trying out other things to see what other new unique things they offer – it informs and educates me so I know what I am giving up.  It seems to satisfy my internal FOMO!

This article has found me downloading the Apple Podcast app again – while I love Overcast, I think I need to try the stock app.   If the lack of Voice Boost and Smart Speed drive me crazy, then I’ll delete the stock app right away….

Apple Watch Software wishlist

Now that I’ve had my Apple Watch Series 3 for a while, here are somethings I’d like to see on the next version of the software:

1 – Keep the screen on at all times.  I think it should be an option for all the time – even if that means dimming the time and date, and turning off all other complications.  However, there are a couple instances where the screen HAS to fully remain on:

  • When in a workout, keep the screen on.
  • When the timer is on, keep the screen on.
  • When the stopwatch is going, keep the screen on.

2 – Please quit showing the ring closing animations DURING A WORKOUT!   I mean, come on!  Wait until I’m done working out.

3 – Manual Laps button during a run workout – so I can track what and how I want to.

4 – Make the HR sensor a little smarter – sometimes it will lose your pulse from time to time if you are using your wrist or arm in the workout.  It needs to be much smarter about picking up the HR.

Too many times it loses my pulse, then somehow catches on to only half of what I’m doing.  If I’m pushing a 140 HR doing a workout, too many times I’ll look down and see 70 – as if it only catches every other beat.  Come on – there is no way a HR goes from 140 to 70 in 10 seconds!  I’m working hard here!

And, it takes way too long to catch up to the HR once it does lose it – I thought it was scanning once per second, but sure doesn’t act like it.

5 – I still want longer battery life, but I’m seeing some really good life span with this new version.  I’ve done a six hour walk/hike with GPS on and still had over 65% battery life.

6 – I’d still like an Apple approved watch face that was all complications – allow me to place my second most used items one swipe away from my main watch face.

7 – More watch faces – including one with digital seconds and an improved large face.

That is all I can think of right now – any that you have thought of that is not on the list?

Apple Watch Notes – Part 1

I like my Apple Watch (42mm black Sport model) a lot.  I have been wearing it exclusively on my wrist for almost a year now.  It is a very compelling blend of hardware and software that is a very good Version 1.0 of a product.  I won’t go into all the things I like about it here, but, there are enough of them to keep it on my wrist for about a year.

But, it needs some help.  Rumor is that the might be a new watch of some sort this fall, but, in the meantime here are my observations:

It is too slow.  Period.  I think it’s a hardware thing first, then a software issue.  So, I guess I’m saying that I feel it’s underpowered.  There are too many times where it doesn’t register a wrist turn, or a tap on the glass to wake up.  Simply checking the time seems to take too much time, way too often.  Asking it to show some info from a compilation can take way longer than it should.

I really hate the times where I will swipe on the screen and nothing happens – I’m not sure if it is the sensor hardware on the glass, or if that is the CPU not handling the input.  But too slow.  It doesn’t happen all the time, but each time it does, it registers as an annoyance.

The software on the watch doesn’t respond quickly at times, but I believe most of those instances are to be blamed on the communication between watch and phone.  Could communications be sped up with a faster processor ?  Probably.

I wish it had more hardware – GPS would be a great start for me.  I’ve  read a lot of people asking about additional sensors:  Glucose, skin perspiration, temperature, etc.  Those sound well and fine, but also seem too fringe to me.

Apple has to appeal to the masses to drive adaptation – and right now, the most compelling use of the watch has to be the fitness aspects.  I think Apple will add the GPS chip and a much faster CPU to the next watch.

I don’t need a camera (I think) unless Apple has some new use case for me that I haven’t thought about yet.

In the next part, I throw out some suggestions on how to improve the software (at least according to me…)


Electric Cars

Today, Tesla introduces their Model 3.  Probably the most anticipated car over the last several years, at least since Tesla introduced the Model X.

This introduction, for a car that won’t ship in volume for another 1.5 years, is causing a frenzy that is more like an Apple product launch than anything I’ve seen before.

Tesla allowed customers to go into stores today and will open up online reservations later tonight.  From all accounts and pictures, tens of thousands of people gave up their day to wait in line and give $1000 to a company for a product they won’t see for at least 18 months.

Tesla is taking online reservations for the car tomorrow.  By putting $1,000 down, you will reserve your future car.

People don’t even know what the car will look like, or what options will cost.  That info is supposed to come tonight when founder Elon Musk gives a presentation.  We don’t know how much info he is even going to tell us, but we do know that he won’t answer all the questions – we WILL have unknowns tomorrow…

GM has announced that the Chevy Bolt will ship in 2016 – and they are testing the production line now.  Another 200+ mile car for around $35k.

I have an all electric car – the Kia Soul EV.  I never thought I’d drive a Kia, but now I don’t see myself driving an ICE (internal combustion engine) as my daily driver ever again.  It’s not about the brand on the car, but instead, what the drive system is.   I really like my Kia.  It’s not perfect, there are things I’d change if I could.  But I really like electric cars –

I am driving the future and I am convinced that we will all have electric cars someday.  There are just too many positives and the negatives are quickly going away –