The Touch Bar mistake

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This morning at a special event Apple introduced what they believe to be the next big thing in laptop computing. A majority of the introduction of the new MacBook Pro was spent focused on its new Touch Bar.

I’m in the market for a new laptop. My current 2012 non-Retina MacBook Pro is starting to show its age and is significantly thicker and heavier than the new MacBook Pro which isn’t so great for carrying it around Uni.

Prices were raised across the board, and while I’m not happy about that, I won’t focus too much on why that’s bad. Simply put, previous MacBook Pro prices reflected the “Pro” part of the device already, and any increase now is just too much. Fortunately, they’ve released a “cheaper” model, which is still more pricey than the previous generation entry-level MacBook Pro, without the Touch Bar.

Regarding the Touch Bar, honestly, I don’t see much use for it at the moment. Its best feature at the moment is Touch ID for unlocking the MacBook Pro. This isn’t to say that it’ll remain this way, though. As developers implement the API, and as Apple introduce new updates to macOS we may very well see some cool uses for the Touch Bar that can’t be imagined right now. This is a big “if.” I’m torn between purchasing the base model with the Touch Bar or upgrading the model without the Touch Bar - 16GB RAM / 512GB internal storage is very appealing.

Back in 2012 when I bought my current non-Retina MacBook Pro, I talked myself out of the Retina model because of the cost savings. That’s something I’ve since regretted, as I’ve come around to not only the benefits of a Retina display but also the advantage of the thinness and lightness of the machine I didn’t buy. It was a mistake to not buy the best computer I could’ve at the time. And I’m worried that’ll happen again here if I purchase the new MacBook Pro without the Touch Bar. I mightn’t miss the Touch Bar for the first couple of years, but this laptop is likely something I’ll own for 4+ years and the Touch Bar may have increased significance in the future. One argument I’m using to talk myself out of it is that ~50% of my usage involves having my MacBook Pro connected to an external monitor with MacBook Pro out of reach, so I won’t be able to use it half of the time anyway. Right now I’m conflicted, and I just am hoping I won’t look back in a few years and say, “Well that was a mistake,” just like has happened by not purchasing a MacBook Pro without a Retina display.

Fortunately, I have a few months to make this decision. It’s a lot of money to spend, and I want to make the right one. My indecision will undoubtedly be expressed via Twitter if you’d like to follow along. 🙂

Headphone jack

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Tomorrow, Apple are holding a ‘Special Event’ at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium for what is widely believed to be the unveiling of the iPhone 7, and Apple Watch 2 with new bands. It is, of course, also the event where we’ll hear more about the release of iOS 10, tvOS 10, watchOS 3, and macOS Sierra.

Honestly, I’m still undecided on whether to upgrade from my iPhone 6. The iPhone 7 isn’t shaping up to be very exciting, and really the only thing it’s missing is 3D Touch - which is exciting but not a justification to buy a whole new phone. Quite frankly, I just want a new MacBook Pro but there are strong reports which say the Mac won’t be mentioned tomorrow, and we’ll likely have to wait until the end of October. Apple are making it incredibly difficult for me to give them money, but whatever. The non-Retina screen I’m looking at as I type this is burning my eyes, but that’s cool Apple. You take your time. I’ll wait. Others have speculated as to how and when they’re going to be announced. I’d love for them to be announced tomorrow, and a release date set (even if it’s for much later in the year). At least then we’d know what we’re getting, and when.

The real topic of controversy this year is the rumoured (but almost certain) removal of the headphone jack from this next-generation iPhone. The best explanation I’ve heard floating around - and the one I agree with most - is that it’s happening this year to get the fuss out of the way. Any significant change Apple make to a product, especially the iPhone, will undoubtedly get a lot of media attention. By making it the focus of the 2016 iPhone, Apple are able to offer a significantly redesigned iPhone in 2017 with the hope of no negative press coverage. It’s a smart way to get all of the complaints out of the way early, on an iPhone that won’t prove significant in the history of the product. News moves fast, and no one will care about the removal of the headphone jack by the end of this year. Perhaps even by the end of this month.

So how will you listen to audio on your iPhone 7? I’m going to assume for the sake of this post that the iPhone 7 will come with earphones that plug into the Lightning port of the iPhone (the port you currently use for charging), and that Apple will heavily push the sale of wireless (most likely Bluetooth) earphones. There will also be some kind of adapter that you can plug into the Lightning port to use existing earphones with a 3.5mm headphone plug if you so desire. Whether or not this comes in the box remains to be seen.

I’ve stayed relatively mute on this topic ever since the rumours became loud earlier this year, simply because I don’t care. I’m neither for nor against its removal. It sincerely doesn’t bother me. If the headphone jack stays, cool. If it doesn’t, also cool. I’ll live, and so will you. It’s not what you’d believe if you read Twitter, or were closely in tune with the tech media, but I honestly don’t care, and don’t think many others outside of these circles do either. The frequency and reliability of reports saying it’ll be removed make it pretty obvious this was a controlled leak by Apple, to ease us into the idea over the last six months, without springing it on us tomorrow. Considering the fuss in the media thus far, I was surprised the first my mum heard of the removal was this past weekend. It surprised her, but only took a 20 second explanation and she understood why it’s probably going to be removed and was fine with it.

As little as I care, it’s important to think about the implications for the community as a whole. After all, the iPhone is a device used by upward of 40% of people in developed countries, and is the single best selling phone. As someone who catches public transport frequently, I’m always looking around to see how people are using their tech, and I’d say 80% of people fit into one of two categories - they either use the earphones that are included in the box with their smartphone, or they’re using Bluetooth earphones. Common brands of Bluetooth headphones include Bose, Sony, and Jaybird. The removal of the headphone jack won’t have an impact upon these people at all. They’ll buy the iPhone 7, and either pull out the earphones in the box and start using them, or they’ll pair their existing Bluetooth headphones and be done with it. This doesn’t leave a great number of people impacted by the change. As for everyone else? Well, I’m sure they’ll either be able to buy an adaptor for a few bucks, buy a new pair of Lightning earphones (which will undoubtedly soar in popularity after this month), or take the plunge and buy some Bluetooth earphones. Similar to the transition between the 30-pin dock connector and Lightning, we’ll all have forgotten the 3.5mm headphone port was a thing before long.

The removal of the headphone jack will anger many, but it’s important to remember this change is inevitable. Any change to the iPhone will make people angry, but all in all this change isn’t as significant as you’ve been made to believe. Remember, most people don’t care. They’re going to buy the iPhone 7, use the lightning earphones that come with it, and get on with their life.

Apple Watch Edition try on experience

Today I tried on an Apple Watch Edition. The 42mm Yellow Gold model, to be precise, with a black sport band.

Briefly, I wish to discuss the try-on experience…

I was greeted warmly by the Apple Store employee who would go on to be my Apple Watch expert. He lead me upstairs (middle level of a 3 level store), and not to some secret room as some other people have experienced. He took me casually to a table in the middle of the store, a part of the store where many customers pass through on their way to the Genius Bar or to One-to-One sessions. After filling out some details on his iPod touch communication tool, the employee spoke into his two-way radio and I heard him call for the model of watch I wanted to try on. About ten minutes passed in between this and the watch arriving, during which we made small talk about the Apple Watch, whereby he told me what he liked about his, explained just how much interest there really has been in the Edition model and finally his thoughts and opinions on Apple Music. Which, for the record, were as textbook as you’d expect from any Apple employee. It was apparent to me that he’d been well briefed on the features of Apple Music to point out to customers as he guided me through a discussion about the perks of Beats 1 and the usefulness of the Connect feature in Apple Music.

From a door which I presumes leads to the back of the store emerged another Apple staff member, carrying a small blue box - not unlike a fancy jewellery box. She headed towards the table where the employee and I were standing, and she was accompanied by a security guard. She gave the box to the employee I was with and walked off, while the security guard took his place about 5 meters behind me. Subtle and not hugely intimating, but his presence was still known to me.

The lid comes off the box, with the employee explaining to me how it doubles as a charging case. By this point I just wanted to try on the watch – come on, I’ve read enough about this thing to know you can also plug a lightning port into the back of it. And there it is, the seventeen thousand dollar Yellow Gold Apple Watch, in all of its glory…

So I tried it on and yada yada, it’s nice. Its beautiful. It makes me wish I had a spare $17,000, yet even then I don’t think I’d be crazy enough to spend it on a watch…

First impressions:

- Oh my, the gold

- Looks great


- Sport band is an appropriate fit… not too flashy, and very comfortable


- Noticeably heavier than the Sport and Steel models. In a nice way, it felt like a very premium watch.

After a few minutes with the watch on, it had run through the demo loop a few times, I felt the haptic feedback and heard a “ding” from a few demo notifications and I decided I was done with the try on. I’d seen everything I needed to.

I took the watch off, thanked the employee, and went on about my day. Overall, it was a pleasant experience, and one which was a lot more casual and laid back than I’d expected. There was no secret room guarded by 10 pin codes and 3 security guards. Just myself and an Apple employee at a table in the middle of a busy Apple Store, with the distant presence of a security guard.

I’ve seen, held and worn a $17,000 Apple Watch Edition. Is my life complete yet? Certainly not, but I suppose I’m one step closer to being able to say it is…

The New MacBook. In all of it’s golden - actually, Space Grey - glory!

I finally got around to looking at The New MacBook in store today, and I must say it’s rather impressive. Nothing really took me by surprise, although I was pleasantly surprised to find I like the new keyboard.

I need to say this… MARCO WAS WRONG!!! (If you have no idea what I’m taking about, read this:

I typed extensively on it, and there were a few typos here and there that I wouldn’t usually make, but after a while I got into a pleasant rhythm. I feel as though with a bit more time, I’d be significantly faster and more accurate typing on this thing that on the keyboard of my current MacBook Pro.

It’s still a “no buy” for me at the moment, for two primary reasons:
- A 12″ screen is just too small. There’s no two ways about it. Using a scaled resolution doesn’t help much either – it’s just too small. I’d be a lot more serious about a similar MacBook with a 13 or 14″ screen. But as it is, the 13″ screen on my current MacBook Pro does the job, albeit a little on the small side, and I certainly couldn’t move to anything smaller.
- It was noticeably slower than my current MacBook Pro. Not in a bad way and certainly not in a way that would be perceived as slow for most users, but coming from a computer with a powerful i7 processor, a 1.1GHz Core M chip just doesn’t cut it. Even adding an extra second or two onto the opening of most applications on the computer is enough of a performance loss for me not to be interested. And I didn’t even begin to compile code on it…

This is not to say the MacBook isn’t a good machine, because it is. It’s also not to say it won’t get better in future models over time, but at this point I don’t think the hits in screen real estate and performance are worth the benefit of a stunningly thin and light design.
There’s certainly a lot of potential for the MacBook – a computer that’s right for 80% of people, 80% of the time.

Samsung - originality and creativity

Oh Samsung. Unsurprisingly, you’ve managed to stuff up again. This time it’s with regards to your latest flagship device - Galaxy S6. 

Reading this report, I began to realise something. Samsung are becoming more conservative and more “Apple-like” with their flagship handsets. Take the Galaxy S6, for example. With this phone, Samsung have backtracked on a lot of features which defined them in previous versions, and have opted instead to make a phone which is much more similar to the iPhone 6, particular in its physical design. With its aluminium and glass body, visual antenna breaks/gaps and a bottom which is almost indistinguishable from that of iPhone 6, Samsung have lost their flair. 

What happened to the Samsung who threw everything at the wall in the hope it would stick? What happened to the makers of the Galaxy S4, with its crazy eye-tracking software which scrolled the page for you as you read, and which allowed you to answer a call without actually touching the device. Where are the minds behind the Galaxy S5 hiding? Those folks made a flagship device waterproof, while hiding a phone inside weird band-aid like casing. You can criticise those things as much as you want for being gimmicks, but they were original and cool. Instead the Galaxy S6 is just as boring as the iPhone 6. Don’t get me wrong - I love my iPhone. But I love it for the unique offerings it has, and not for the features that are already offered by others.

The Samsung of 2013 would’ve released one flagship model to their Galaxy lineup this year - the Galaxy S6 Edge. Instead they didn’t back themselves enough on their innovative new design, and clearly didn’t feel as though they could sell it well enough to have just one model of phone. They played it safe, and didn’t take much of a risk. I think the curved Edge is cool although I cannot see much use for it. However, I know people with the phone and they seem to like it. I’m very open minded about a new feature such as that and would’ve loved to see Samsung back themselves more, and really try to give this product the hard sell. The Samsung I know releases a single flagship device: The Galaxy S6 Edge. The Galaxy S6 stays in the lab. I like Samsung for their crazy ideas. They were amongst the first with larger-screen phones, phones with LTE radios, phones with curved screens/edges. I want to see them continue this trend and not have a “fallback” phone in case things go wrong. Where’s the fun in that?

So please, Samsung, stick to being that crazy uncle we all know and love. People who continue to want premium-feeling phones with an OS that is simple, stable and “just works” will buy an iPhone, and people who want the latest and greatest, the coolest new innovation right from the get-go will buy a Samsung mobile phone. Wacky, yet cool, features in phones are what I want to remember Samsung for - and not as a copycat of Apple. 

And oh, if you’re going to copy the iPhone, at least do it right. Be shameless and relentless with your copy-cat attitude. Otherwise, this is the result.

I did not buy Apple Watch. Say it with me.

I did not buy Apple Watch. I did not buy Apple Watch. Say it with me. 

I decided against the purchase of Apple’s newest innovative product: Apple Watch. It took a lot of willpower to restrain myself from pressing the “Pre-Order” button but I think I’ve finally overcome my desire for this object. Now that it’s out in the wild, it’s been brought to my attention that it’s “cool” but certainly not necessary. 

Simply put, I couldn’t justify the price. $579 here in Australia for a 42mm Sport model… that’s ludicrous for something which is meant to be an accessory to my iPhone. With that money I can sell my current iPhone, buy this year’s model and still have money to spare! (I will not be doing this, by the way.) 

Yes it’s a well-designed, desirable product. But the second generation will be even more so and I think I’ll wait until then. Apple Watch does not have enough unique functionality. My Original Pebble can do the large majority of the things Apple Watch can, and it can do them a lot better at that.

As the date of shipment of my Pebble Time nears closer and closer, I become more convinced I made the right decision to buy the Time and wait until the next generation of Apple Watch. 


Apple Watch Sport on the left, Pebble Time on the right.

Apple Watch try on & first impressions

I’ve been meaning to write this up for a while now. Apologies that it’s taken so long.

This will just be a short post outlining my first thoughts and impressions of the Apple Watch. A bit of background: last Friday Apple opened up Apple Watch pre-orders. They also opened up their stores to try-on appointments. While I’m not pre-ordering or buying this first-generation Watch (happily sticking with my original Pebble until my Pebble Time order ships), I did book myself in for a try-on appointment. 

I tried on a multitude of watches, including:
- 42mm Space Grey Sport. This one was my favourite, as it was extremely comfortable & lightweight. The sports band feels amazing, and happened to fit my wrist perfectly - which is more than I can say for some of the other bands. I also feel as though 42mm is definitely the right size for me, as 38mm is just too small. 

- 38mm Stainless Steel with Milanese Loop. I was most disappointed by this one. To begin with, it was the only 38mm watch I tried on and I didn’t like the size at all. It felt microscopic. Secondly, the Milanese Loop wasn’t as comfortable as some people have made out and I also didn’t think it looked very nice. 

- I also tried on a few others, including Stainless Steel with both the classic buckle and Leather Loop. I don’t have too many interesting thoughts on those bands. 

After the try-on, if I was to purchase one I’d certainly be going with the 42mm Space Grey Sport model for the reasons listed above. 

A few observations about the watch:

- Apple Watch looks INFINITELY better in person than it does on Apple’s website or in any other photos of it. I went in with the intention of not wanting one, but if there’s one reason as to why I slightly want one now it’s because of just how good it looks on the wrist. Seriously, I encourage you to go and check it out in a store - Apple Watch looks incredible. 

- However, it is small. I mean really small. I did not expect it’s size. Even the 42mm is feels tiny on my wrist. Apple’s marketing material don’t show the size of the watch in comparison to any other objects, hence I was fooled into thinking it was the size of an average male wristwatch. This is not the case, and took me by surprise. 

- The Sport band is insanely comfortable, and *feels* more premium than other bands even though it’s the most simple looking one. 

- The leather loop felt more solid and more magnetic than I thought. The layer of leather was really thin which made the band feel cheap, in my humble opinion. 

- The stainless steel Apple Watch collection is noticeably heavier than the Apple Watch Sport. Not in a way which is uncomfortable however, it’s just worth noting for the sake of this post. 

- The Apple Watch Edition loops surprisingly good. I thought the Gold might look too fancy for my tastes, but that was not the case. If I had the money I’d go for the 42mm Gold Apple Watch Edition with the black sport band. Unfortunately that costs A$17,000 here. 

With regards to the try-on appointment itself, I made a few observations. I didn’t feel rushed at all. I felt as though I was allowed and able to try on every watch I wanted without being rushed away. I did, however, feel restricted in what I could do when I had the watch on. I know this hasn’t been the case for everyone, but the particularly Apple Store employee who was focusing on me made sure that I didn’t loosen/tighten any of the bands myself, and whenever I would try to take a watch off or put a new one on she was sure to assist me. It was as if I was a toddler who wasn’t trusted to play with a fancy collection of toys. She was nice about it, however I did want the experience of fiddling with the straps on my own. The only exception to this rule was when I was trying on the Leather Loop and the Milanese Loop - she put the band on most of the way and told me to “lock” it in place at a tightness which felt comfortable. I also didn’t get to swap any of the bands, or try out different band combinations other than the defaults which I was presented with. Who knows - maybe if I’d been able to put the Milanese Loop on a 42mm Steel Watch my opinions of it would be completely different. 

Overall, my experience last Friday afternoon inside of the Sydney Apple Store on George Street was a pleasant and enjoyable one.

It’s worth mentioning that at the time I went into the store, there was no new MacBook to look at. At that time, Australian stores had no idea when it was getting released in Australia - they couldn’t tell me that or when they would be getting stock. As I left the store and Apple Watch pre-orders began around 5pm local time, the MacBook magically became available on the Apple Online Store in Australia, so I presume it’s now available to look at in stores. From the online photos, it truly looks like an amazing machine and I imagine I’ll be writing up another post about it when I take another trip to the Apple Store to check it out (hopefully soon!).

I’ll leave you with some photos from my journey to the Apple Store:

The above image contains A$48,000 worth of Gold Watches.

Was surprisingly unimpressed with the above combination - 38mm Stainless Steel Apple Watch with the Milanese Loop. Behind my wrist you can see the store employee taking out another watch for me to try on. The display case is standard for every try-on - all of the watches are lined up inside of it. Here, they are attached to chargers until they are taken out of the case. All of the watches inside the case are available to try-on during the appointment, however the employee will ask you a few questions to get to know you and your interests before suggesting only a few to try on. The idea is to pick something based on the style you like and then they begin the try-on based on that. 

Last - but certainly not least - the above image shows my favourite watch combination: 42mm Stainless Steel Apple Watch Sport. It was the appropriate look of style meets stealth. In conjunction with the sport band, it was also very lightweight which made it the most comfortable of the watches I tried on.

At the beginning of this post, I said it was going to be a short one. I’ve gotten a bit carried away here - oops! I do hope, however, that you’ve found this post enjoyable and informative in some way or another. That’s it for today folks.