I was sat on my sofa with a cup of tea in my hand and a piece of cake, looking forward to the Apple event for autumn 2016. I never believe any of the rumours flying around in the months prior to one of these events. It’s preferable to wait until the actual announcement is made by Apple themselves. Even so, it was highly likely that a new thin strip of a screen was going to appear on the body of the MacBook Pro and be configurable. Sure enough, that’s what arrived and not a lot else. I was so disappointed at the end of the long event, about 90 minutes, I felt that Apple had wasted my time. I almost feel violated.
Microsoft 1 – Apple 0
Just a day or two before the Apple event Microsoft had an event and introduced a Surface Studio which is a huge touchscreen computer. It seems you can use it with the screen upright and directly in front of you. You can also fold the screen downwards and towards you to have a angled screen which is just perfect for artists and designers to work on. This is the sort of innovation you would expect from Apple, but instead it came from Microsoft. I would not be at all surprised if there were many art and design professionals who will be getting themselves one of these Surface Studio computers and leaving Apple Mac behind. The Windows operating system is much better than it used to be. While it might not be as gorgeous and delightful to use as the Apple operating system, it could be good enough in conjunction with excellent innovative hardware. I feel like Apple was given a bloody nose by Microsoft this week. The Surface Studio is quite expensive though.
Hats off to Apple for accessibility
Apple have been good in the area of accessibility for its users for a long time. At the start of the event they showed a movie being made by a person in need of the accessibility features within the operating system. Apple announced a website specific to accessibility users and we can’t praise Apple highly enough in this arena. The video showed Mac users can get as much benefit from accessibility features as can users of iOS.
Layers of TV content and controllability
Apple introduced an app called TV. Rather than having this as an extra layer between the applications and the user interface why didn’t they just make this the interface for the Apple TV? The answer to that question must be something to do with not all of the app makers wanted to be within the new TV app. It seems that some application makers such as Netflix prefer to be separate and not in the same realm as other app makers. This works out as a poorer experience for the users by there being an added layer to negotiate when watching TV. It will be okay if everything you want to watch is within this TV application, but for many they will have to jump in and out. This will be a fractured experience when it comes to choosing and using video content from the Apple TV. I’ve only just got into using Netflix and I’m loving it. So I for one I’m disappointed with Netflix not being a part of this new TV app from Apple.
See irrelevant tweets alongside your football game
Apple also announced this thing where you can give over part of your TV screen to messages coming in from Twitter. This was shown as being something you could do with a sports game or it could be something to do with a political event taking place. It could even be something you’d see within an Apple event. The extra information coming in is not coming in from your own Twitter accounts. From what I’ve heard so far, it seems that this is basically a curated list of tweets. This kind of defeats the point of the way Twitter is supposed to be used. If you have tweets coming in, you want to be able to interact with them. I don’t expect many people will use this feature as it makes the TV screen too busy and confusing to watch. Many will decide to go the route they go now, which is to use an iPad or iPhone as a second screen. It’ll be better to see tweets coming in from people who you’ve decided to follow and with whom you can interact.
What we were all waiting for – Is that it?
What most people were interested in with this Apple event was hardware. The majority would be watching this event for the new and innovative, marvellous and fantastic new Apple computers. What we got was far short of that. Apple gave us two and half computers with a new MacBook Pro. The main feature on two of these MacBooks was the function keys being removed from the keyboard and replaced by a strip of a touchscreen. Microsoft came up with a large computer which was all touchscreen and Apple gives the users just a little strip at the top of the keyboard. What is going on here? The half of a computer is a version of the new MacBook Pro with the old style function keys.
The Apple Touch Bar
The good thing about this Touch Bar is it also gives you a fingerprint reader. We’ll be able to use this to log into the computer and we’ll also use this to pay with Apple Pay. Providing the app makers add it to their applications there will be extra controls for the app on the Touch Bar. Adobe was shown off at the event as having started to integrate this into Photoshop. The Apple applications will all have this and it could be very useful in the Photos app and also in Final Cut Pro. The developer for Day One has said he will be putting it into that application. I think I may have also spotted that Affinity will be adding it to Affinity Photo and Affinity Designer. Until we get using the new Touch Bar were not really going to know how good and how useful it is to us users. Maybe it will be fantastic and inspirational and a great way to interact with out computers.
Thinner, Smaller and Lighter
It was to be expected the new computers would be thinner, occupying less volume space and would be lighter. That’s what Apple does. Of course it’s nice to have a computer that is lighter to carry around. It’s lovely to have one taking less space upon your desk. There’s not much of anything else though demonstrating innovation. The other changes to the computer is the removal of most of the other ports on the MacBook Pro. The 3.5 mm audio jack is still there, but everything else is gone. All the other ports have been replaced by USB – C ports. From these ports you can connect up your Thunderbolt, monitors, external hard drives, power cables and so on. For many people this is going to be a time of change denoted by having to buy extra dongles in order to connect older devices. No worries though, this is par for the course as nothing ever stays the same with computing. I like the track pad being larger. That’s good for giving us more room for gestures.
Nothing for the desktop class computer
The Mac Pro, the iMac and the Mac Mini were all ignored and forgotten about. Will Apple come up with a Bluetooth keyboard with a Touch Bar included? Will Apple make any updates to any of these desktop computers in the near future? This is another area where pro users may defect to Microsoft and Windows due to lack of updating of the desktop computer models. It’s possible that these computers are being neglected because they’re not bringing in the sort of money being brought in by mobile computing devices. For a large proportion of the computer buying public computers have been good enough. There’s been no need to upgrade computers on the desktop because they do well enough the jobs being asked of them. Maybe this is why Apple have been neglecting their range of desktop computers. I foresee there will be much complaining and gnashing of teeth within the Apple community over the next month or so. It is to be expected that the Apple podcasters and bloggers will have plenty to say about this lack of innovation.
What do we want to see from Apple
Of course we are going to want to see the Touch Bar being available for the desktop computer users. Is this something that’s going to possible with a Bluetooth keyboard? I sort of doubt Apple might come up with something such as a extra large device being a mix of an iPad and a iMac. This is what would be needed to compete with the Microsoft Surface Pro just announced the other day. It’s likely this would be too small a market for Apple to enter into. Personally, I think this is the sort of thing Apple should be doing. They should be making devices like this which are cutting-edge and different. Some of the things to get made in this way would not be successful, but somethings would be fantastically brilliant and would filter down to the ordinary computer users. There would be a trickle-down effect as the best and most useful innovations are incorporated into the day-to-day user’s computers.
The report card for the autumn AppleEvent 2016
Could do better and not trying hard enough. Apple is losing ground to competitors as far as innovation is concerned. We expect Apple to try harder and come up with the goods. Apple filled up the Apple Event with too much filling and fluff. They told us about stuff we knew already and wasted our time rather than getting it all done in a half an hour. Apple should be more respectful of our time. In future I will be wondering whether I should bother watching the Apple event on my Apple TV. I could be better off waiting till the next day and watch one of the videos on the Internet showing the main features in 5 to 7 minutes. I did see a video this morning which did exactly that. If you leave in some of the demonstrations you could pad the event out to 30 minutes. Come Apple get your finger out. This autumn Apple Event is best describes as insipid.