Apple’s New Vision

Podcast: Episode 0 (Pilot)
June 15, 2016

This is a technology update for you in a different form. Many of the people I consider friends in the technology services and analysis industries have their own podcasts (think online, downloadable broadcasts). Whether I make this an ongoing thing or it is simply a different medium that I choose for my client updates from time to time, I want to try something new with you. Today’s topic is — Apple’s New Vision.

Apple finally articulated its post Steve Jobs vision on Monday. It’s only taken them 4 years and 7 months to present a cohesive image of “Who Are We?” to to their loyal fans and also prospective customers. I think this is a vision that people can buy in to once they understand the proper places of all the players and the
interconnectedness of technologies in the Apple ecosystem. Apple essentially has four distinct software platforms. They have the macOS, iOS (for mobile devices), tvOS for the apple TV platform, and watchOS for the Apple Watch. It’s worth noting here that macOS is the new-old name for Apple’s computer operating system, with a lowercase m-a-c and a capital O and S. Their software was known as Mac OS with a different capitalization scheme in the 1990’s, which was changed to Mac OS X in 2001. As I said, there are four platforms. With the software updates coming this fall, those platforms are going to be more integrated than ever before. I used to think that the melding of the Mac, iPhone, and iPad was a bad thing. I thought Apple had lost respect for the Mac. Some of my customers are Mac-only, but more are adding an iPhone and even an iPad into the mix. Under the hood, Apple has not changed its file system structure since the late 1990s. That system known as HFS+ is barely adequate today. Apple needs to do a better job of helping its users back up and restore their data. Time Machine, the Mac’s built in backup utility has shown a lot of promise. However 9 years into its life cycle, there are a lot of holes in the dam at this point. By some time next year, Apple will upgrade its file system from HFS+ to a new Apple File System. This new, below the surface support structure will power the Mac, iOS devices, Apple TV, and Apple Watch. As far as the Macs are concerned, only Macs with solid state hard drives will get it. All of the 2013-later MacBook variations, as well as MacBook Airs going back a little further already have solid state drives. With the iMac and Mac Minis, solid state drives are an option but not the default. There is no need to worry, Macs without solid state drives or SSDs, will be grandfathered in for a period of time. If you are ordering an iMac or Mac Mini this year, make sure you order one with an SSD.

Apple is shooting for a more unified experience across devices and the ability to move from one device to the next without skipping a beat. Mac and iOS customers can already make and answer phone calls on either platform. iMessages can be composed and responded to across devices. Those experiences will only get better. Come the fall you will also be able to copy and paste across devices. The Apple Maps experience on the Mac will be vastly improved and Mac users will now be able to use Apple pay from their computers.

Here is my take.

MacOS Sierra, known as version 10.12, will seem more like a meal carefully paired with a fine wine — the iOS device. I see the Mac as the full set of tasks and possibilities. Numerically, lets place the Mac at 100% You have the largest screen available to you. You have a full keyboard and a mouse as trusted tools. I picture the iPad encompassing a subset of the Mac’s features. You may want to and probably should use a high end Belkin or Logitech keyboard with your iPad Pro or iPad Mini 4 for those long typing sessions when the on screen key pressing experience won’t cut it. I think the iPad can perform about 80% of the Mac’s functions. The current iPhones are amazing, functional devices. They are truly handheld computers for your pocket or bag. The screen size will limit you from completing intense productivity tasks, but there are some excellent folding keyboards you can take along with your iPhone. For the sake of this discussion, let’s put the iPhone’s functional capacity at 65% of a Mac.

Imagining the three devices in a workflow sequence — you could view a document and make some very light edits on an iPhone. You will be able to type a full length document and make corrections on the iPad with a proper keyboard. You will be able to apply final formatting, merge documents, and perform substantial revisions from the Mac. It would be easy to imagine a parallel workflow with a photo instead of a document.

In my opinion, the Apple TV and Apple Watch are tangential devices that will play an increasingly important role in this ecosystem. The Apple TV is meant to be the media hub of your living room. Mac and iOS devices can be beamed directly to the Apple TV for a truly big screen experience. Furthermore, Apple TV can play content from Netflix and Hulu subscriptions, iTunes Music and video purchases, as well as the apps from various pay TV stations. The Apple Watch seems like a niche product right now but it allows for notifications from commonly used apps on your wrist, can be use to make and receive calls, and can track fitness data. This product can only get better and offer enhanced functionality for the non-technical user in the future.

Finally, I don’t want to leave out those who may use an iPhone and / or iPad but have a Windows computer. Certain apps, like Photos on the Mac are not available for Windows, but a Windows user can achieve a highly integrated experience — quite similar to the one I just described. Files and photos can be saved to iCloud drive for Windows and then accessed on your iOS device. iCloud Calendar, Contacts, and Mail can be accessed in Windows through Outlook. Songs and photos can be added and synced through iTunes for Windows. Finally, there will be a new Apple Music app, for subscription customers, on all devices including Windows — in the near future. The iPad and iPhone are very Microsoft friendly. For example, documents can be created and saved in the iOS version of Word and then can be opened on a Windows machine with Word via Dropbox, One Drive or iCloud Drive. iOS devices and Windows play well together.

Well that wraps things up computer students and loyal clients.