Peace Out Android

Great piece from earlier this week over at MotherBoard:

I’ve been antagonistic with Apple products ever since I was a teenager, when Apple used to try to shove its apps down my throat (cough iTunes cough) whenever I just wanted to watch a movie trailer on Quicktime. I never liked Apple’s walled garden and “we-control-everything” approach, and I particularly disliked Apple fanboys’ dumb “oh my god there’s a new iThing coming out” reverence and hysteria.

So when the original iPhone came out a few years ago, I swore in multiple heated discussions with friends and strangers that I’d never buy an iPhone. Since then, I’ve only owned Android phones. First a few HTC ones, now a Sony phone.

Well, I’m sick of it. And I’m ready to go to the dark side.

Don’t get me wrong. In many ways, Android is great. I love its open source ethos and the ability one has to customize it. But I can’t take it anymore for one simple, but really fundamental, reason.

Google still has very little control over software updates, and Android users are basically at the mercy of their carriers and phone manufacturers when it comes to getting updates or new operating system versions. For example, it took Sony more than six months to push Android 5.0 Lollipop to its new line of Xperia Z phones, despite the fact that it had promised for a much shorter turnaround after Lollipop was released by Google. Just for comparison’s sake, when Apple released iOS 8 in September of last year, it immediately became available for all iPhone users, even those with an 2013 iPhone 4S.

I used to dabble in the Android world. After the initial excitement, I started to lament the lack of updates to fix the many issues I had. For example, I had an HTC Thunderbolt – only because I wanted 4G LTE – and it was broken in so many ways. Fixes were never delivered and the device was left to rot a few weeks after its debut. I resorted to rooting my phone to improve the device. That should have been unnecessary. That experience (along with a near burn) made me realize how great the iOS ecosystem is. Timely and useful updates. Security. New features. Not perfect by any means, but as close as it gets. 

Apple Pay usage growing

Some nice updates on Apple Pay via Globe News Wire:

Apple Pay usage in the US is growing, driven by both increased frequency of transactions and the expanding base of iPhone 6 owners, according to The Auriemma Consulting Group (ACG) Apple Pay Tracker, which interviewed 500 iPhone 6 and 6+ owners between May 29 and June 15, 2015. Forty-two percent of US Apple 6/6+ owners reported having used Apple Pay, virtually identical to the proportions reported in two previous waves of the study conducted in February and April 2015. “While the proportion of users has remained stable, the denominator has grown through new iPhone and Apple Watch sales and the upgrade cycle. We’ve also seen the average number of transactions increase both in-store and in-app,” says Marianne Berry, Managing Director of ACG’s Payment Insights practice.

Data from the study indicates that American users consider Apple Pay to be more than a novelty, Berry notes. “It’s not surprising that the first cohort to own the newest iPhone would be eager to try Apple Pay, so we were particularly interested in comparing trial to adoption rates. Eighty-four percent of Apple Pay users reported having made more than three transactions in stores, and 76% have used it more than three times in-app, suggesting that the abandon rate is low.”

The number of places where Apple Pay is used has also increased. In the April survey, only 13% of US Apple Pay users had used it in more than six stores, while two months later that number had grown to 24%. During the same two month period, the number using Apple Pay for six or more apps grew from 1% to 10%.

Great to see it growing.  It is a great service. The article has a few more interesting tidbits that are worth the read. 

New Apple TV hardware to debut in September

Buzzfeed reports on some Apple TV update news:

In March of this year, BuzzFeed News told you that Apple had a new Apple TV in the pipeline and planned to unveil it in June at its annual Word Wide Developers Conference. Two months later we told you the company scrapped that plan, delaying the device to do a bit more work on it. It opted instead to focus its keynote-address attentions on its next generation operating systems and Apple Music streaming service.

Now, as Apple heads toward its annual fall event, the successor to its superannuated set-top box is once again top of mind and at last headed to market — and for real this time.

Sources familiar with Apple’s plans tell BuzzFeed News that the company intends to announce its next-generation Apple TV in September, at the same event at which it typically unveils its new iPhones. The device itself is pretty much as we described it to you in March, sources say, but “more polished” after some additional tweaks. Expect a refreshed and slimmer chassis and new innards; Apple’s A8 system on chip; a new remote that sources say has been “drastically improved” by a touch-pad input; an increase in on-board storage; and an improved operating system that will support Siri voice control. Crucially, the new Apple TV will debut alongside a long-awaited App Store and the software development kit developers need to populate it.

It’s a significant overhaul of the diminutive set-top box, which hasn’t seen a material refresh since 2012, and one that Apple hopes will inspire a big upgrade cycle through the annual winter holiday consumer binge, setting the stage for the subscription internet-TV service Apple’s been trying to get off the ground for years. While that service is most certainly in the offing, sources tell BuzzFeed News that Apple does not currently plan to announce it alongside the new Apple TV. “Late this year — maybe, but more likely next year,” said one, seconding a June report by Re/code.

While launching new Apple TV hardware apart from a new subscription TV service might seem counterintuitive, it does make strategic sense if Apple doesn’t yet have the deals in place to field such a service. Certainly, Apple doesn’t need to debut the two things together. By rolling out the new Apple TV and SDK ahead of the service, Apple is giving developers some lead time to develop compelling apps for the device — and taking good advantage of a holiday shopping season that will likely drive sales, further growing the Apple TV installed base to which it will someday sell streaming service subscriptions.

IBM goes all in on Apple

Via MacRumors:

While IBM announced in an internal memo several months ago that it was planning to purchase up to 50,000 MacBooks for employees by the end of 2015, chief information officer Jeff Smith has revealed in a new internal video released to employees yesterday that he believes IBM could actually end up purchasing 150,000-200,000 Macs annually. 

In the video, Smith relates a conversation he had with Apple’s chief information officer Niall O’Connor about the possibility of a massive Mac deployment for IBM.

“I’d like to be able to offer these to everyone that can use it. We’ve got to find a way to make the overall cost the same or lower than PCs to make that happen. Would you be interested in helping me do that, because you guys know these devices”, and he said, “No, Jeff, we’d never do that…very secretive, we never allow anyone in. You know, we just don’t do that.” 

And I said, “Well who’s your largest corporate customer?” And he said “Well, that customer has got about 25,000 MacBooks a year.” And I said, “Well we could be 150-200,000.” And he goes “Jeff, that’s a great idea! We’re gonna come here, you know, next week…you bring your whole team,” and that’s exactly what happened.

In a separate clip from the video, Smith describes a recent conversation between Tim Cook and IBM vice president Fletcher Previn in which Previn indicated the initiative could see 50–75 percent of IBM employees eventually converting to Macs from the Lenovo ThinkPads that are currently the company standard. 

When everyone was chasing the enterprise market, Apple chased consumers. Now, with everyone trying to be Apple and chasing consumers, Apple is chasing the enterprise crowd. Interesting shift. I am most curious to see how these moves impact iPad long term. 

Best Buy to carry Apple Watch starting August

Wow. Apple Pay and Apple Watches. It’s almost like Best Buy wants customers to flock into their stores. Good news. Also significant and indicates that supply has ramped up. The WSJ reports:

One month after Apple Inc. started selling Apple Watch at its own stores, the company said it will bring the device to Best Buy stores in August.

Apple said its smartwatch will be available at more than 100 Best Buy stores in the U.S., expanding to over 300 outlets before the holiday shopping season. Best Buy will be the first major U.S. retailer beside Apple to sell the device.

“The Apple Watch is an important addition to an emerging product category, and we know our customers want it,” said Jason Bonfig, senior category officer at Best Buy. “We are excited to bring Apple Watch to more consumers, especially with the holidays coming up.”

Best Buy stores will carry Apple Watch Sport and Apple Watch as well as a wide range of straps and other accessories. It will not carry Apple Watch Edition, the gold-cased model whose price starts at $10,000.

No Edition?

iTunes is a “toxic hell stew”

Marco Arment has some thoughts on iTunes and Apple Music based on recent events. It’s hard not to agree with him. iTunes is an overstuffed and cluttered mess. I honestly dig Apple Music – but understanding where everything is and how it is connected takes work. After using it for a while now, it’s still overly complicated. I’m hoping Apple does right by uses and rethinks iTunes and its purpose to better mirror the experience that was on iOS. Even the iOS Music App is in need of a redo. Way too overstuffed.  Here is a taste of Marco’s piece:

With the introduction of Apple Music, Apple confusingly introduced a confusing service backed by the iTunes Store that’s confusingly integrated into iTunes and the iOS Music app (don’t even get me started on that) and partially, maybe, mostly replaces the also very confusing and historically unreliable iTunes Match.

So iTunes is a toxic hellstew of technical cruft and a toxic hellstew of UI design, in the middle of a transition between two partly redundant cloud services, both of which are confusing and vague to most people about which songs of theirs are in the cloud, which are safe to delete, and which ones they actually have.

And…

The safest, most sensible course of action for users is to just keep their music libraries away from iTunes Match and Apple Music. We’ll all just know not to order that fish, and many of us won’t use Apple Music at all because its integration into our local libraries feels too unsafe.

And that’s too bad for everyone, because Apple Music is pretty great when everything works and you can figure out where everything is.

Why there’s nothing quite like an iPhone

Apple has just updated their iPhone advertising campaign with a brand-new page on why there’s nothing quite like iPhone. A taste from their page:

Every iPhone we’ve made — and we mean every single one — was built on the same belief. That a phone should be more than a collection of features. That, above all, a phone should be absolutely simple, beautiful, and magical to use.

Worth a look. Great way to sell iPhone.