Will 2016 confirm Apple’s erratic path?

Great monopolies create great antagonists. Apple has become that kind of company: loved and hated equally, with products that usually cause everykind of feelings, but almost never indifference.

2015 was a weird year from Apple, with products that many of us have rendered as unoriginal, beta devices that according to some editors ‘kinda sucked‘.

bii apple revenue by segment 3Q15

They probably did on some fronts, and now the analysts predict Apple will have a ‘difficult’ 2016. iPhone saleswill go negative for the first time in history‘, iPads won’t recover, and there are no products that could maintain Apple current growth.

The fact is, even with that kind of assesment I’m pretty sure Apple will again be bigger than before. The products they have released in 2015 are mediocre on most cases, but even considering that the sales have been impressive. I think Apple is the only tech company that has been able to cross a siginificant border: the one in which product quality is not as important as the brand itself.

I wonder if that will be enough on the next 12-24 months to maintain Apple where it is now, but what I’m sure right now is that Apple is not going to have a tough year. They know exactly where they want to be. And that could be pretty different to what we would like them to be.

No converged MacBook-iPad? Remember small tablets, big phones, stylus denial?

ipadpro1

Tim Cook spoke recently with The Irish Independent and he gave his opinion on the chances to release a hybrid computer that would be a combination of a MacBook and an iPad

We feel strongly that customers are not really looking for a converged Mac and iPad,” said Cook. “Because what that would wind up doing, or what we’re worried would happen, is that neither experience would be as good as the customer wants. So we want to make the best tablet in the world and the best Mac in the world. And putting those two together would not achieve either. You’d begin to compromise in different ways

Well, Apple said something similar about small tablets and about the validity of the stylus. Cook recently called the Surface Book a diluted product, when the iPad Pro is clearly following that concept and trying to convince everyone without actually succeeding.

I’m pretty sure that converged device will show up, and I’m confident the MacBook -or a derivative from this one- will probably use ARM processors in the near future. Maybe not in 2016, but 2017 seems feasible.

The big question is what OS will be used on that device. Is Apple working on OS X for ARM? It did the same when it had OS X running on Intel processors in secret during several years.

I see a pattern here.

Source: Tim Cook: Apple won’t create ‘converged’ MacBook and iPad

iPad Pro review time: a great product that you shouldn’t buy?

Walt Mossberg on The Verge has written an impressive, sincere and up to the point review. Three problems arises according to that piece: it’s “too big and bulky“, the keyboard case (just one angle, no backlightning, not many shortcuts) is disappointing (“I kept wishing for a trackpad, so I didn’t have to keep reaching for the screen“, something that Lauren Goode, the other reviewer, also misses there), and few apps take advantage of the greater screen state.

The Apple Pencil is great but not perfect either according to Mossberg, who points out the fact that “there’s no place to store it, or even to magnetically attach it when it’s not in use

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Those reviewers agree on one thing: the hardware is there, the software not so much. That’s important: the apps are not ready for the iPad Pro. I guess they will be at some point, but that could be a problem for early users. The new dual-window mode seems nice but it’s not a real replacement for multi-window management on a desktop OS. Andrew Cunningham at Ars Technica goes deeper on this and explains how many apps don’t render well on the new screen resolution, and reveals that “iOS 9’s multitasking still needs a lot of work“. The conclusions about the software are pretty evident:

There’s no exposed filesystem, no easy official way to install apps from outside the App Store, no iOS version of Xcode for developers. Connecting external accessories (cameras or SD cards, mics or audio interfaces) requires dongles and adapters and, occasionally, external power supplies. There’s no true multi-display support to speak of.

Cunningham goes further and tells us he feels the iPad Pro is a “sometimes computer“, which is probably a good definition of a product that wants precisely to be that. And although that could be enough for some people -artists and designers, for example-, I read the reviews and I can’t help but thinking about what a great product this seems and how no one reviewer really recommends it.

By the way, take a look at TechCrunch’s Matthew Panzarino review: he gives a different perspective, one in which he understands that Apple is just exploring the future with this device, as the company did with the MacBook previously this year. I’d say the former is the future for tablets, and the latter, the future for laptops. Fortunately, we’ll have many things in between.

 

Will the iPad Pro be able to save the iPad?

I’m blind to adjectives (and quotations) in press releases. That’s part of my education as a tech journalist, so I must really pay attention to read words like epic, groundbreaking, gorgeous or stunning.

But Apple and others have to try. Their mission is to make the world a better place sell products, and you often can’t be neutral when you do that at your company. Apple must do something else with the new iPad Pro: revive the category that’s suffering a lot.

The iPad Pro is a niche product. It escapes from that family target and identifies itself as a very special laptop replacement. One that is really a tablet, but that can outperform real laptops. The trade-off is evident, and there are three letters that define it:

iOS.

The strange thing about the iPad Pro is that it validates what Microsoft did with the Surface, but it does with that significant change. You can be quite productive with iOS, I guess, but that stubbornness is irritating. Apple, you’re competing with your own MacBook and MacBook Air (both on price and/or dimensions), so why would I decide an iPad Pro is better than that?

I guess the Apple Pencil is the only good answer for that.

I don’t know if that would be enough to save the iPad, but I predict the rest of the models will follow. Why do the Apple Pencil makes sense in the iPad Pro and not in the rest of the iPad family?

It does, and even the Smart Keyboard applies to that idea. But paying $799 for the ability to draw in a powerful tablet is something I wouldn’t recommend to anyone but artists and design professionals.

The rest will do far better with a laptop or a tablet. Or a smartphone, for that matter.

Source: Apple – Press Info – Epic 12.9-inch iPad Pro Available to Order Online Wednesday & Arrives in Stores Later This Week

If you want an iPad Mini 4, just buy an iPad Air (2).

Extra RAM and a better color gamut help make up for year-old guts.

There’s nothing new from Apple on the iPad mini 4. It is a last year device at this year’s prices. They did the exact same thing with the iPhone 5C. It’s still better than the shameful iPad mini 3, but either way, I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone.

But as nice as the upgrade is, there’s nothing here that wasn’t available for use a year ago. TouchID was already available. The A8 was already available. Apple obviously already knew that it was planning better multitasking for iOS 9, and it could have preemptively increased the amount of memory in the Mini to compensate.

If you want an iOS tablet, just get the iPad Air 2 (or for $100 less, the original iPad Air).

Source: iPad Mini 4 review: A lighter, faster tablet with a better screen | Ars Technica