Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Mobile: Apple Will Not Merge iOS and OS X But iOS Will Feel More Like A PC With Each iOS Upgrade

Just this week, the small subsection of the Interne that is the tech media is abuzz with the Tim Cook interview where he vowed that Apple will never merge its two operation systems, iOS for the iPhone and iPad with OS X running on the Macs.  Anyone call for that needs to stop because we always knew it would never happen.  However, with each annual iOS update, the iPad will feel more and more like a Mac with new features.

Case in point is the new multitasking feature and picture-in-picture in iOS 9 that is available to the latest iPads.  Whether tech pundits call this move as a natural improvement to iOS to make the iPad more of a productivity tool or an answer to Microsoft's resuring Surface tablets, you can be sure that Apple is moving to address iOS's shortcomings as a productivity OS and sell iPads to enterprises.

What's more, iOS 10 should bring more features that addresses even more issues some users have.  What is one glaring difference (omission as some might call it) is that iOS does not support a mouse, something OS X and Windows 10 running on the Surfaces do.  Right now, anyone using a keyboard with an iPad or even iPhone has to use their fingers, hands, and, by extension, arms to touch the screens.  Imagine doing that 8 hours a day.  You can't right?  It's why Apple has not added touch interfaces to the iMacs.  This is an issue that Apple will need to address.  And let's be honest:  moving a cursor and clicking makes things a whole lot easier than pressing your finger against the screen. 

The reason why I'm bring this up now is because of this T-GAAP post I read (recommended reading even if I disagree with it) is that Apple is likely to replace Intel chips in its Macbooks with its own A-series chips.  The cost savings aside, I do not think it will ever happen unless Intel suffers a catastrophic meltdown down the road.  And even if that were to happen and Apple's A-series chips ended up being 4-5 times faster and more efficient, that is quite likely years and years away.  In the short term, Intel is firing on all cylinders as far as its mobile chips are concerned. 

And Apple does want to differentiate the two lines of computers.  Apple sees a different world ahead for mobile computing while the rest of the PC industry is saddled with legacy expectations. 

While Apple is not going to launch a Macbook with its own chips in 2016, 2017, 2018, or ever, I'm going to predict that Apple will in the near future allow developers to create apps on the iPad with its own version of Xcode.  This makes a lot of sense.  Also, quite possibly iBooks Author as well.

So, two ways Apple will address any real or imagined shortcomings of the iPads:  continue to improve iOS and highlight productivity tools and bring over development tools over to iOS.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Apple's $250 Band Would Be A Huge Life Saver (And Quite Profitable)

Motley Fool is not a quite I'd recommend anyone go to for financial information, tips, or eye-opening posts but their fear-mongering post about the Apple Watch has made me decide to write this post, one that has been a long time in coming:  Apple should release a workout band.  Like what Fitbit, Jawbone, and dozens of others have released years before and continue to improve upon. 

First, why $250? You think that is expensive and you're right if this was Fitbit's own workout band.  But this will be Apple's own iOS-linked band to the iPhone ecosystem.  Plus, it'll look pretty good too just as the Apple Watch does.  And yeah, it's an Apple product so it will command a premium. 

The main reason Apple should release it is because it is leaving a ton of money on the table.  Tens of millions of these workout bands are sold annually and an increasingly health-conscious mobile population, Apple has a lot to offer.  Furthermore, sensors on these bands will fit right into Apple's own health care platforms.  It will serve as a halo device to other Apple products as well. 

Furthermore, an Apple band can serve as a remote to the Apple TV (and gaming) or the future Apple car just as I'm certain that the Apple Watch will play a pretty big role on the home as well as the car. 

Timing will be an issue.  Apple will give the Apple Watch ample time to mature and serve as the sole wearable device from Cupertino for another year or so before it launches any band, if it seems fit to do so. 

The question is whether Apple will indeed release an Apple band.  I'm gonna say yes only because Nike gave up its effort on the Nike Fuelband.  And Tim Cook, Apple's CEO, who happened to sit on the Nike board likely has some hand in that.  Perhaps through a collaborative effort, Apple will brind a band to the market with Nike's help.

On top of that, the health features of the Apple Watch is its main and killer feature.  If it did not have that, would anyone buy a watch just for notifications? 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

iPad As a PC Replacement: It's Already Happened for Many But It Does Have A Long Way To Go

Post from The Verge arguing that the iPad Pro, or any iPad isn't ready to replace the PC yet.  This is arguable but the post seemed to argue against itself.  At the end of the day, it's what you use a computer for, whether this computer happens to be in a PC or tablet form factor).

The article said that people are not upgrading their iPads because their older iPads are simply adequate for what they need to do with it.  And for the most part, I think I would be happy with my iPad Air (I skipped the iPad 2, 3, and 4 and got an iPad mini).  I recently got an iPad mini 4 because I just wanted something small for media and ebook consumption.  And honestly, I'm done. 

I'm interested in the iPad Pro but I'm more looking forward to an updated 12" Macbook, whenever Apple decides to ship it.  Why?  Keyboard, mouse, and productivity tools that are available only on the Mac and that I'm more comfortable with certain things on a laptop form than on a tablet:  mouse and keyboard.  Sure, I can hook up a Bluetooth keyboard up to an iPad but I'm just more used to a mouse and being able to flip easily from one app or screen to another.

And here's the irony of it all for the iPad as far as Apple is concerned.  Apple is not putting touch interfaces on the Macs because Apple argues rightfully that people don't want to poke at their monitors or LCD screens. And yet, it is asking iPad users to do just that when they are using them in laptop form (with a BT keyboard).  Wouldn't it be easier with a mouse?

And this is where The Verge is arguing that the Surface Book from Microsoft is hitting all the right notes.  And on this front, based on my needs and habits, I agree.  The Surface Book seems to say that it wants to bridge the best of both worlds.  And it does - it runs Windows 10 and you can use it as a tablet or laptop.  And yeah, it sits comfortable on your lap. You cannot say the same thing about the iPad in some scenarios. 

At the end of the day, you just wish that maybe Apple would come out with a MacPad running OS X that works as a tablet and can quickly transform into a Macbook when it is sitting on a laptop-like dock just like the Surface Book.

Whether the iPad is a PC replacement depends on the user.  It already is for many folks.  It is for me for the most part except the 20% of the work I do that requires a Macbook - some out of necessity and others out of how productive I want to be.  The Verge seems to suggest that the iPad and the Surface Book will evolve and converge to meet somewhere in the middle.  Perhaps, but it is awesome to see just where that might be.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Apple Likely Will Bring Interest Free Payment Plan To iPad To Spur Sales

I love Apple's new iPhone payment plan where you can pay for a brand new iPhone over two years and upgrade to a new one after 12 payments have been made to get a new one (you'll have to trade in the old one though).  And here's the kicker:  I am not even a part of this installment plan because T-Mobile had issues the day I went to the Apple store to get my iPhone 6S.  However, given its appeal, I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that Apple will expand this plan not only internationally and online so that you don't have to visit the store to do it (not sure how Apple will handle the part about you trading in your old iPhone), but Apple will include the iPad as well.

When Apple add the iPad to the installment plan, it could be the catalyst that Wall Street and investors are looking for to jump start the iPad.  Furthermore, it could be also mean more sales as people who cannot or are unwilling to pay a premium up front for the iPad, iPad mini, or iPad Pro up front but would not mind paying for the Apple tablet over a couple of years with the option to trade in for a new one after a year.

For the same reason that I upgrade my iPhone annually, I, along with many others, would be willing to do the same for the iPad. 

And all the fear about sagging iPad sales from Wall Street will go away.  I don't know what the actual profit and cash flow projection is or what Apple's internal numbers really show but I do know it's this.  HUGE.  Possibly bigger than HUGE because none of its competitors can really follow Apple down this route because they simply do not have the cash on hand to do it.

And here is another reason why Apple will start selling the iPad with installment plans as an option:  Apple is looking down the road at the bigger picture when Apple Financial or other services come online.  We'll get into another day but these small baby steps Apple is taking, starting with the iPhone installment plan, will amplify into bigger sales and profit in the decades to come. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Apple TV Review Fore-Thoughts

I decided perhaps I should try my hand at giving a product review. And it just so happens that I've got a brand-new Apple TV all set to go.  It'll take a week or so.  I don't see how people can review anything after spending only a day or two with it.

Let me start by pointing this out.  I got it on Monday, 11/2.  I bought it home along with the controller and it's sitting by my front door.  And since Sunday, I've been watching Sling TV, Amazon Videos, Netflix, and my own iTunes purchases on the current Apple TV I have. 

So, I've had the newly "no longer a hobby" Apple TV for almost 48 hours and have not rushed to open and put it to use.  It says a lot about the old Apple TV as an useful media center and what it is capable of with Airplay and how much better the new Apple TV better be for people to buy and use it as their primary media box for their home.

MacBook Air M2 - I Love It And Any Laptop You Get Will Always Be Right For the Time

The 2016 MacBook sitting off to the side still has some value as I gleefully starting using my MacBook Air M2 that I got for a decent price ...