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    Newsletter Issue #1016: So Apple Didn’t Fail Under Tim Cook

    May 16th, 2021

    Wall Street analysts must go back to the drawing boards after Apple reported two blowout quarters in a row so far this year. With total revenue of $89.6 billion for the most recent quarter, you’d almost think they had, by mistake, released the numbers for a holiday quarter. But no, this was correct. It was 54% higher than last year, with earnings of $1.40 per diluted share.

    Most important is that Apple’s “failing” products all had significant growth. That includes the iPhone and even the “old fashioned” Mac. So maybe Apple wasn’t so crazy switching to Apple Silicon and ditching Intel. Or maybe most Mac users don’t concern themselves with the niceties of parts selection and such and are more concerned with having a computer that, well mostly, just works.

    In passing, I go with the latter. While I don’t have any polls at hand, I rather suspect that the vast majority of Mac users wouldn’t know what sort of processor their machine has. Well, perhaps the numbers will be higher for the M1 Macs, since Apple has made such a huge deal in promoting them.

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    Newsletter Issue #1007: Apple’s Tricky Pricing and Suspicious Claims Mar iPhone 12 Rollout

    October 13th, 2020

    Nothing about Apple’s rollout of the iPhone 12 series and a smaller, cheaper HomePod was surprising. It was a typical overproduced sales pitch that came across as cold, over-rehearsed.

    The final scene, of CEO Tim Cook walking towards the camera, was especially artificial. He speaks well, and has a calm, reassuring demeanor, but his delivery is stiff almost as if he’d practiced too much. He should avoid the flourishes, and perhaps speak from his desk to give it more of an aura of credibility.

    On the other hand, none of that diminishes the value of the new gear. Indeed, Apple can make a compelling argument for you to upgrade your iPhones, especially if the unit you have — from whatever company — is getting long in the tooth. That’s where the value of the new gear is front and center.

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    Newsletter Issue #1002: Some People Forget that Apple is a For-Profit Company

    August 10th, 2020

    While Apple makes a huge deal of customer privacy and adherence to environmental standards, it may be, in part, a marketing ploy. After all, Apple is in business to make profits and add value to its stockholders. It is, after all, a mutational corporate powerhouse.

    So after CEO Tim Cook delivered testimony to a sometimes-contentious hearing at the U.S. House of Representatives on July 29, developers began to speak out about policies that they felt were restrictive. It didn’t help that some internal email exchanges were revealed that revealed discussions about raising Apple’s cut of App Store revenue from 30% to 40%. A scandal! Or maybe not. After all, where are the emails about discussions on the part of Google and other companies that might have impacted the fees they charge? Did anyone bother to look for them? And if they did, where are they?

    Besides, it’s not wrong for a company to look at different financial setups for products or services, even if some seem a little too greedy.

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    The First iOS 12 Public Beta: But Will You Need Those New Features?

    June 27th, 2018

    Since I’ve been largely in cheapskate mode in recent years, I seek ways to save money. I no longer pay $99 to join the Apple Developer Program. At most I miss one or two early previews after the annual WWDC. Otherwise, a public beta release is usually released no more than a day after the developer version, unless there’s something really bad that has to be fixed first.

    With the release of the iOS 12 public beta, I went ahead and downloaded it for installation on a late model iPhone. It is possible to restore your device if something goes wrong by downloading a previous version (not to worry, it’s searchable). So I took the plunge.

    The first step requires installing Apple’s device profile on your iOS device, so it will be able to alert you, download and install the new releases.

    Since this week’s release is the first for regular folk, don’t expect miracles. The final or near-final version won’t be out for two months. That said, my initial experience, after about a day, hasn’t been so bad. The symptoms are largely about flakiness. So sometimes, when I try to delete an email, the Trash icon isn’t there, and backing up through the menus and returning brings it back.

    A handful of web pages stay white and never render or refresh, but it’s not consistent. So far, at least, there have been no crashes.

    One of the tentpole features of iOS 12 is not something you can see. It’s the promise of faster app launches, faster keyboard display, and speedier swiping to the camera, ranging from “up to” 50-100%. The highest boost is promised for an iPhone 6.

    I read an early review of the first iOS 12 release for developers, in which the promised performance leaps were tested. It was a mixed bag, with some of the touted functions coming close to matching Apple’s claims, and some not-so-different. To be fair, early betas aren’t optimized for performance. Better to test this with a final or near-final release.

    So I didn’t bother to actually check speeds. My subjective impressions were positive. It seems to boot faster, and most things appear to be snappier. Both Lyft and Uber, which used to take maybe six seconds to load, took roughly three seconds to launch with the iOS 12 public beta. The zooming effect appears faster and smoother, with no overt evidence of stuttering. Most interesting is the fact that, even though I’m at a motel with three megabit Wi-Fi connection, my iPhone didn’t didn’t feel that slow at online access.

    Assuming faster performance is all or mostly across the board, it means that the same hardware that worked with iOS 12 will of a sudden run faster. This is very much against the grain, where the oldest supported hardware usually becomes unbearably sluggish with a new iOS release.

    Indeed, it’s very likely some people buy new gear not because what they have doesn’t work so well, but because performance has deteriorated so much — and not just because the battery is spent and the CPU is being throttled. Thus, Apple might possibly sell fewer iPhones. But I expect Tim Cook and his team expect people, will be more satisfied that their gear is not exhibiting many overt signs of aging and will be just as inclined to upgrade, or more will stick with iPhones.

    I am not considering how well an Android device ages since many of them never receive a new OS release.

    I am interested in the FaceTime Group feature as a possible substitute for Skype, at least for audio-only use, but that means that guests for my shows will need to use Apple gear. I’ll keep it in mind.

    The added security and privacy features, including a proper password manager and default blocking of social network interactions, are welcome. But they aren’t things people will necessary notice until they began to seriously look around.

    I’m also intrigued by yet another promise of a better Siri — last year’s promise wasn’t fully realized — and I’ll give it a chance and see if I can reliably take it beyond simple alarms.

    For the most part, you should be able to install an IOS public beta without seeing much in the way of front-facing changes, at least at the start. Although I’ve seen over 200 new or changed features listed, they are largely  more subtle than usual. This may be in keeping with the rumor that Apple is focusing more on performance and reliability than adding cool stuff, that some key features are being held off to 2019.

    It’s not that Apple plans to say that a new OS release is less than originally planned. But it’s also true that some features may be delayed or omitted because they aren’t perfected. But customers shouldn’t have to wait for months for AirPlay 2 and other promised features either. On the other hand, it may also be possible that this will be the norm, that some things will be rolled out through the year as they are ready. It’s not that Apple has to worry about readying an OS for retail sale.

    But even though my initial experiences with iOS 12 are positive, I urge you to be careful about installing a beta OS unless you have a ready backup routine.

    I will hold off installing a macOS Mojave beta until it’s closer to release. I no longer have a backup computer, since the next OS won’t run on my 2010 MacBook Pro.

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