I’ve been a user and fan of Apple products since the first Macintosh in 1984. However, as fan I also recognize that one of my favorite companies in the tech world doesn’t get everything right every time. It’s a company of humans! Anytime you praise or criticize anything Apple, people come out of the woodwork to either chime in in agreement or tell you how much of an idiot you are. It’s also hard to criticize the richest company in the world. After all, they are a business that continues to make billions of a dollars every year, so who am I to judge? I’m a customer….
When Steve Jobs passed on in 2011, many wondered would it be the end of Apple’s innovation? We were assured by CEO Tim Cook that Apple had a lot of great products in the pipeline. However, looking back on the past year there have definitely been some hits and misses.
5 Things Apple Got Right in 2015
iPhone 6s and 6s Plus
While these are modest updates from their 6/6 Plus predecessors, they are solid products. I use my iPhone 6s Plus day in and day out without any real issues. I go several days without having to reboot it or manually quit apps. It just works. No complaints. Apple got the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus right in 2015. iOS 9.2 works well for me too.
The Apple Pencil is by far the best stylus I’ve ever used on a mobile device. Hands down it’s the most accurate and there is absolutely zero lag. Although I don’t draw very much, I do use it in Adobe Photoshop Fix to retouch photos and the experience is a joy! My only complaint with Apple Pencil is the charging method. I feel that the end should have been a female Lightning port so that you can plug ANY Lightning cable in to charge it. The way it works now is that it’s a male Lighting connection that can plug into the side of an iPad Pro to charge. It does come with an adapter to allow you to use a cable, but the adapter should have worked the other way around. You should use the adapter to plug it into an iPad Pro to charge. It actually looks pretty silly (non-Apple like) sticking out of the side of an iPad Pro. The saddest thing about this great product is that it was severely backordered at launch. Get Apple Pencil for iPad Pro here.
I didn’t really need or ever think about a larger iPad. I use the iPad Pro for work and it’s actually really really good. It’s FAST, the display is amazing and the more the Apps are updated to take advantage of it, the more I like it. Yes a tablet running Mac OS X applications would have been interesting, but I’m not sure that many would have chosen it over an iPad Air especially considering the price point it would have likely had. The iPad Pro isn’t for everyone. I get it. You may not ever want one and that’s OK. However, it’s a solid piece of gear with no issues for me to date. Get iPad Pro here.
I have worn an Apple Watch every day since day one April 24, 2015. The hardware has been really really good. I think I’ve only had to reboot it twice (outside of OS updates) since I’ve owned one. Battery life has been way better than expected, so much so that I removed the battery status “complication” from my custom watch face after the first few weeks. I’ve never run it down. Now keep in mind that I know for some that they like to wear their watches 24 hours a day and not take them off. So for those folks battery life is an issue because it does need to be charged daily. For me that’s not a problem because I hate sleeping in ANY jewelry. Even if the Apple Watch NEVER needed to be charged, I would still take it off every night. Get Apple Watch ON SALE here.
Apple TV 4th Generation
I was excited to see the NEW Apple TV 4th Generation. I ordered one on day one to try it out and replace the one in my living room. Although they removed the digital audio (Toslink) port, the hardware is solid. The NEW bluetooth remote works really well. Yes the Apple TV hardware has been great, my problem is with the tvOS that runs on it. So read below.. Get Apple TV here.
5 Things Apple Got Wrong in 2015
El Capitan Mac OS X 10.11
I can remember back in the day when I used to look forward to my Mac OS X upgrades! Apple would often proudly list the over 300 new features in the new update on their website. I made the mistake of not following my own advice and I upgraded my main drive on my MacBook Pro on day one. It was a HUGE MISTAKE! El Capitan has been the most frustrating upgrade I can remember in recent OS history. Now keep in mind that the OS itself runs OK for the most part and to date they’ve released two updates to get it to 10.11.2. However, the problem was with all the 3rd party apps and utilities that it broke. Well you might say that’s par for the course with any major OS upgrade and I would agree with you. However, we normally put up with those initial incompatibilities to get those great new features. In the case of El Capitan, there were no great new features that were worth putting up with. I’d be hard pressed to list 5 new features and the ones I could list off the top of my head are not must have features. If I could have easily gone back to Yosemite (Mac OS X 10.10.x) I would have!
MacBook (Retina, 12-inch, Early 2015)
I remember when the iMac came out in 1998 and Apple decided to ditch the floppy drive! OMG the panic that caused and you know what? It was OK. The industry moved on and soon followed suit. It was a bold move and probably the right move for this hot new consumer computer. Now fast forward to 2015 and look at the NEW 12-in MacBook Retina Display and we see a sleek new notebook that has only ONE PORT! Apple seems to believe that there are people out there that rarely need to plug things into their notebook computers. That might be true, but I think that that small group of people is really small. I’ve yet to see this new MacBook outside of an Apple Store. I don’t know anyone who owns/uses one. I fly often and I’ve never seen one on a plane. If you want to plug in the power AND any peripheral, you’ll need an $80 adapter! The one USB-C port is all you get. If it would have had at least 2 USB-C Ports then it would have been a lot more feasible for more people, but with only one port and relatively higher price point, this NEW 2015 MacBook has a very limited audience.
The Apple TV 4th Generation is powered by tvOS. While I like the hardware (see above), tvOS 1.0 felt really unfinished! Siri on Apple TV is severely limited and shipping without the ability to either use an external bluetooth keyboard or Apple’s own Remote App meant a very painful onscreen typing experience for everyone setting up all their apps on Apple TV. Also the fact that there isn’t a CENTRAL Cable/Satellite Provider Account Setup makes it even more frustrating. To use many of the Apps from the networks like ABC, FOX, CBS, HBO, you need to log in with your cable/satellite credentials. The way it works now, you need to do it for each app! Apple did do an update to tvOS to at least make the Remote App work, but for early adopters we had already put in the bulk of our text entries by that time. It’s amazing that Siri can’t do dictation like it does on iOS.
This is the product that surprised me the most in 2015. It’s a product that lacks the industrial design and sleekness that we’ve come to love about Apple products. The “hump” just looks odd. While I do appreciate the smarts inside this device with the integrated Lightning connector, I would not buy it if I had an iPhone 6/6s.
Watch OS 1.0 resembled the early days of iOS from the standpoint of the 3rd party apps being severely limited in terms of functionality. Many 3rd party apps relied so heavily on their iPhone counterparts that they were actually USELESS on Apple Watch. watchOS 2.0 went a long way to make it easier for 3rd parties to make better watch apps, but for the most part it seems that the industry has lost interest in this device. I don’t see a lot of new exciting watchOS 2 apps coming out like we saw when developers could write native iPhone apps. The odd thing is that a few things in watchOS 2 are actually a little slower than they were in watchOS 1.0, namely the time it takes to launch the Wallet app. Watch apps need to launch instantly to be really be usable. If they app hasn’t launched by the time the display goes to sleep, it’s a failure. Some of my Apple Watch 3rd party apps are GREAT and I use them regularly, however there are many more that are just not usable/useful in their current state.
The Bottom Line
Apple is VERY SUCCESSFUL and makes GREAT products! However, like ANY other company, they don’t always get things right or make products that EVERYONE will love. The examples above are examples that many will agree with and disagree with and that’s OK. After all these are MY opinions. I just wonder how much of what we see above would have happened or been released the way it was if Steve Jobs was still with us? I’m looking forward to see what Apple comes up with in 2016!