Asking people what they want will give you predictable results: complaints about any kind of change and positive feedback about shiny-looking features that demo well. You'll end up pulled in a million directions as you try to account for everyone's feedback.
The traditional Apple solution was to give a single idealized user — Steve Jobs — the power to improve his own experience. Nobody can replace Steve, but I think someone (or some group) inside Apple needs to fill this role before their products can become really great again.
Any user research will involve interacting with users, but it's not to gather their opinions, which is almost always irrelevant, but to document their behavior, needs and drives.
Users will offer solutions, because that comes naturally, but these need to be turned back into problems before being used. For example,
User: "I want a big button in the middle of the screen that says 'print' and then prints my stuff immediately!"
Researcher:"So you print a lot during your day?"
User: "Yeah, and each time I have to go down a long list of menus, and then I have to reselect the printer each time."
Apple has apparently been able to get by with user studies done on a target group of one (Jobs). However, he's not there any more, and the more time that passes, the more it seems that they haven't been able to fill his shoes.
Paul Graham wrote about this back in 2012:
"I was talking recently to someone who knew Apple well, and I asked him if the people now running the company would be able to keep creating new things the way Apple had under Steve Jobs. His answer was simply "no." I already feared that would be the answer. I asked more to see how he'd qualify it. But he didn't qualify it at all. No, there will be no more great new stuff beyond whatever's currently in the pipeline. Apple's revenues may continue to rise for a long time, but as Microsoft shows, revenue is a lagging indicator in the technology business.
So if Apple's not going to make the next iPad, who is? None of the existing players. None of them are run by product visionaries, and empirically you can't seem to get those by hiring them. Empirically the way you get a product visionary as CEO is for him to found the company and not get fired. So the company that creates the next wave of hardware is probably going to have to be a startup.
I realize it sounds preposterously ambitious for a startup to try to become as big as Apple. But no more ambitious than it was for Apple to become as big as Apple, and they did it. Plus a startup taking on this problem now has an advantage the original Apple didn't: the example of Apple. Steve Jobs has shown us what's possible. That helps would-be successors both directly, as Roger Bannister did, by showing how much better you can do than people did before, and indirectly, as Augustus did, by lodging the idea in users' minds that a single person could unroll the future for them.
Now Steve is gone there's a vacuum we can all feel. If a new company led boldly into the future of hardware, users would follow. The CEO of that company, the "next Steve Jobs," might not measure up to Steve Jobs. But he wouldn't have to. He'd just have to do a better job than Samsung and HP and Nokia, and that seems pretty doable."
People focus too much on the 'nasty' side of jobs, but it's easy to be nasty, and a lot of people do that, what's hard is having the other aspects that might be more subtle
in his biography (or most likely I read it somewhere else), the group that worked with him had a whole way of presenting things to him, that "made" him go for the best solution. It was a ruse, which he might have been aware or not, but it worked. And of course people were on their feet to present the best products
Jobs had a very finicky way of thinking about products, but I guess that created a dynamic in which other people that worked with him also stood for things that they believed in and that resulted in a balance of qualities that is lacking
Also Apple is not thinking about experience. When they took the floppy disks from the Macs I assume people were more than happy to see they go. Heck even display port has some advantages (you need one tiny interface to plug whatever kind of monitor you want).
Now we get a crapfest of different very similar cables with USB-C with different ports that look the same (charging/display/etc) and we killed an existing interface that for the most part works
And guess what Apple, your Keyboard and Mouse may be wireless and bluetooth but they still need an USB cable to be charged! Which cable comes with it? USB-A
I'm assume Steve would be testing the aerodynamic properties of the latest MB line, if you know what I mean
There were a lot of complaints, even more than you're seeing now. At the time it was still the main way people transferred files.
This is a great pitch for an early-stage fund. Sort of like the kind pg peddles :).
(I mostly agree with the analysis, but the bias is worth noting.)
1. The big companies also shutter projects. Minus the "amazing journey" blog post. Their announcements usually have the tone of "Thanks for being part of the gigantic data collection experiment although you wouldn't quite know that yet. Here, take this gratuitous 6 month window to take your data out and then go f yourselves."
2. The security updates, warranty and service and replacement etc also involves occasionally bricking perfectly running systems (ala Windows 10), so it is hardly a comforting thought.
It is the end goal for almost every startup in the current climate.
Did they ever had a chance against Apple ?
Well, revenue is already falling .
If you look at the first graph (revenue) you'll see that revenue is declining. Click "Trailing 12 months" to remove the seasonal trends.
Disclaimer: Fairlyvalued is new tool build by alch- and me.
Honestly I wouldn't be concerned if Apple never make a new category defining product in the rest of their existence. Jobs didn't spend his whole life dedicated to discovering new product categories, that's not how things like the iPod and iPhone happened.
Jobs biggest successes were matters of pure opportunism. Take the iphone. He couldn't have created that product in 2004, the hardware technology wasn't up to it. He was presented with a unique opportunity. A high quality OS core, world class developer and design talent, and mobile hardware that was just becoming powerful enough to run a version of that OS core. It doesn't matter how talented or how visionary he was, without those things all coming together at the right time the iPhone wouldn't have been possible.
People expecting Apple to come up with new products like that on some kind of schedule aren't taking into account how contingent these things are. Without the conditions for a new product category to emerge. Without the many different pre-requisite technologies coming together and without Apple having the right resources available to take advantage of them, these things simply won't happen. They couldn't happen, even with Steve Jobs around.
The received wisdom seem to be that SJ simply willed new products into existence and that somehow Apple should still be doing the same thing. That's magical thinking. But what they should be doing is developing their technologies and assets and applying them to new products and new problems. If that leads them into new product categories, all the better.
You should be able to crawl into your car and sputter "take me cough to the hospital" to which the car vocally responds "Right away" then drives itself to the hospital.
edit: Meaning, this interaction should play out exactly the same as if you had a full time driver/butler whos only job is to sit in the driver seat of your car and wait for your commands.
Can't say I've ever been impressed when one of these systems fails to understand me and replies with a human-like response. Feels disingenuous.
It also explains why it's shifted from being a computer company that makes gadgets (Jobs) is now becoming a gadget company that happens to make some computers as well (Cook).
In all this, the gates are wide open for Microsoft to score some good points here towards devs.
The true value of Steve Jobs is the reality distortion field. That's really was is missing here with the new Mac.
All the discutable decisions about the Mac that people complain about are just similar to the trends set under Jobs, the difference is that he would make the people believe that Apple was 100% behind the Mac. There would no need for Jobs to write twice in a month to employee and the press to say that Apple was committed to it.
I'm not sure what is missing exactly, but the MBP failed at delivery rather than feature. For example, did Apple really need to can all their Mac related accessories at the same time, building up a negative climate. They could have rebranded the LG monitor. Somehow give the people a hint that Apple is behind the USB-C, not just picking up and leave it up to the third party to sort out. (which is BTW what Apple has always really done, it just seemed handled better)
Apple strategy is to keep everything secret until they do a big delivery event. They are utterly bad at delivery since Jobs is gone, and the lengthy secrecy they keep around everything is now not building hype, just building apprehension.
That's not the case: back in 2001 post-PC thinking was popular too, and Jobs stood out against it https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lmvmtmqqbeI . That's evidently why Jobs was so reluctant to make the iPod work with Windows PCs: his whole plan for the iPod was to have it sell his intended Digital Hub, the Mac. He did eventually come around to post-PC thinking of course, but only quite late: even in the D 2007 interview https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=85PMSYAguZ8 he and Gates were quite resistant to it.
In 2007 Jobs was using the phrase "post-PC", and by the time he died in 2011, more than half of Apple's revenue was iPhone/iPad/etc.
To me it seems that Cook is just continuing the trend.
Why should one exclude the other?
You bet! all those billions sitting in their coffers and they still couldn't pull their asses to achieve progress. It is like Microsoft of the XP era.
I was pulling my hairs in 2003 cursing at Bill Gates, then switched to Mac until now. But I think the Mac era is over as well and Bill Gates is cool again. He's really great in his humanitarian work.
I'm sure a lot of what Gates is currently doing is praiseworthy.
But to be even-handed, we should also remember the means by which he obtained a lot of the money he's giving away.
The "current" Mac Pro is over 3 (4?) years old now. Users can't upgrade it because of the proprietary GPU cards and Apple don't seem able to keep it relevant themselves.
It's difficult to have a professional relationship with a supplier where the best options for macOS are either a dodgy Hackintosh or a used 2012 Mac Pro with a new GPU.
GPU is the future of professional computing in many emerging sectors. Apple currently ships no hardware compatible with any of this.
My wife is a professional photographer. Her current photo-editing computer is a Windows 7 desktop with 16 GB of RAM.
We know Windows 7's days are numbered, so we're starting to think about her next editing computer. The two most obvious options are (a) some Apple product, or (b) a computer running Windows 10.
Here are the major criteria for the replacement, which need to remain true for 3+ years after the computer's purchase:
(1) It must legally run current Adobe products.
(2) Can support > 16 GB RAM during its lifetime.
(3) There must be minimal unplanned downtime.
(4) The price can't be exorbitant, relative to a medium-high end PC. TCO should also be reasonable.
(5) It must be convenient to transfer photos from her camera's SD card.
(6) We'd like to minimize the time and attention we put into initial setup and maintenance.
So the most obvious options (currently) are:
* Apple: MacPro, iMac, or MacBook Pro
* PC: Windows 8 or Windows 10
Here's how I score the options, although perhaps someone will correct me:
(1) Easily satisfied by all options listed.
(2) No MacBook Pro satisfies this. Fast SSD for swap is helpful but sub-optimal.
(3) Windows 10 (non-enterprise) fails this, because of unavoidable updates. MacPro and iMac fail this because (AFAIK) Apple doesn't offer loaners for these during warranty work.
(4) For initial purchase cost, the MacPro is a fail, and the MacBook Pro is nearly a fail. However, all current Apple products are potential TCO fail given the lack of user-replaceable components.
(5) AFAIK the desktop Macs fail this, although connecting an external USB reader should be easy enough. I suspect the MacBook Pro would be more hassle, given its ports/dongles mess.
(6) All of the options should satisfy this criterion well-enough.
As far as I can tell, the winner is a Windows 8 PC.
Why is no Apple product a viable winner, given our criteria?
- Nothing in the current lineup meets all our criteria.
- We don't know if/when something will be added that meets our criteria.
- We're not sure what Apple's longer-term plans are, so we don't want to invest time/money into a PC-to-Apple transition, just to need to reverse it in a few years.
The three issues listed immediately above strike me as a pointless fail in Apple's strategy, at least relative to my wife's business's needs.
There are some points in the business calendar where 1-2 days of downtime is catastrophic. For example, shortly before the deadline for submitting highschool senior photographs to the yearbook publisher.
If we could purchase a version of Windows 10 which allowed her to delay installing updates for 1-2 months until a crunch time is over, that would probably be acceptable.
AFAIK only Windows 10 Enterprise allows that, and I'm not aware of any legal way we can get that.
If we do have to go the Windows 10 route, my contingency plan is to look into setting up a firewall (external to the Windows 10 box) that blocks all relevant Microsoft IP addresses.
Windows 10 is your best answer. It's gonna be supported very long and it's a 99.9% painless upgrade from Windows 7.
Definitely invest in a mid-to-high range PC would be my advice. I have 5-year old i7 3770 CPU and I am yet to find something that makes it choke. Only refreshment I did to my now 5-year old PC was to increase RAM from 16 to 32GB and to get GTX 980 (was 650 before). The PC is flying whatever I do -- and I'm a programmer, trust me I do a lot.
My wife needs her system to be stable during certain points in the yearly business calendar, and an unavoidable, potentially-breaking update is a serious concern.
But why Windows 10 rather than Windows 8? Both will receive security updates for a long time, and (AFAIK) Windows 8 doesn't have the issue of unavoidable pushed updates.
The only real downside I know of to Windows 8 is its bad UI, but I'm told there are 3rd-party shell replacements which approximate the Windows 7 interface.
I can't argue either way though. I as a programmer took the plunge one afternoon around 8 months ago and never looked back. Win10 is superior to Win7 -- my girlfriend's graphical processing software (and part of her games) even started working faster after her upgrade.
All of that is anecdotal of course but strategically speaking, Win10 will be around for much longer.
He said no one would use phablets and called them the 'Hummers' of phones - this was back when a 5-inch phones were considered huge. He also denigrated 7-inch tablets by saying users would need to file-down their fingers to use them (and yet iPhone users could comfortably use 3.5-inch screens). Apple proceeded to profitably venture into both product categories with the iPhone 6+ and the iPad mini.
We are now in a post-'Post-PC' world: iPad sales have plateaued/slumped over the last couple of years. If there is money to be made selling computers, Apple will sell them regardless of what they said in the past.
Pretty sure in 6 years Jobs would have picked up some new trends, details and directions. Pretty sure we'd not be stuck in some infinte repeat loop. Thinner. Groundhog Day. Repeat.
That is, does Tim see his role now as maximizing revenue from the current position, with the goal being to hand off a healthier company to a "visionary" successor?
My personal answer fluctuates depending on my daily gut feeling about human nature. And how many times sourcekit crashes.
They had one. Tim fired him.
Wouldn't Fadell be just as good?
Scott Forstall is why the iPhone was the iPhone. Tony Fadell was almost why the iPhone was an iPod.
I know--so obvious, right? All they needed was another Steve Jobs. Why didn't they think of that, and just go out and get one? I hear they grow on trees.
This whole idea goes by the name Jobs to be Done. Intercom has a sick PDF book on applying the concepts to product development: https://www.intercom.com/books/jobs-to-be-done
They need to relearn and engage in user discovery and questioning until they realise what niches they occupy and their use cases and needs.
I doubt Apple's former lead would ever have put out a Mac that needs a dongle to connect to iPhone but not Android. I doubt he'd have killed Apple monitors as an iMac sat next to a black LG is just so damn ugly. iOS, MacOS and current hardware shows, oh so clearly, that once notorious sense of detail and overall direction is long gone.
As is, their idealised user is envisioning all the wrong gimmicky things and missing most of the details. They're trying to play "what would Steve do?" but not being him they can't play that game well.
That just says it all really, doesn't it? Macs simply don't "just work" anymore. I feel like they're making almost random hardware changes
The original iPod was incompatible with many Macs still in use at the time that lacked FireWire ports.
What's wrong with the USB-C to Lightning cable?
What type of user experience is that?
As a side note: there's nothing wrong with usb-c. I can see why it's an improvement! But the reason apple are pricks is they didn't also throw in a single usb-a port so we can keep using the dozen devices and 30 cables I already own.
The current phone does not come with a usb-c cable because it is older than the MacBook Pros and the Laptops don't come with a lightning cable because not everyone that has the laptop has an iPhone.
I'm sure the next iPhone will come with a usb-c cable and then people will complain that they can't charge it with their old laptops.
It's one for people who pick up the new cable and get on with their lives.
One paper cut issue is solved by buying a cable and they can
t get by with their lives on the new or lack their of new hardware.
> Asking people what they want will give you predictable results...
Asking someone about what's making them unhappy is very different from asking them what they want. In my experience, the value in talking to users is in understanding common pain points, not finding solutions.
"The internet" wanted a better cheese-grater Mac Pro, Apple delivered a shiny, un-upgradable computer.
"The internet" wanted incremental Mac upgrades, Apple added the gimmicky TouchBar to the one Mac model that was still popular.
3D touch, Mavericks' Finder tags, Siri on the Mac, using the watch to unlock your laptop... I feel that Apple's updates are 90% gimmick and 10% substance at this point. I agree that Apple needs to find a new Steve Jobs, but in the meantime, asking customers for feedback doesn't look like it could make matters worse.
1) Apple weren't the first innovating in that regard. I don't know who was, I just do know Nokia was experimenting with Nokia 770 and Nokia N800 in 2005-2006. True, they weren't smartphones, but they were going in the right direction. Without many buttons. The Nokia N810 had a keyboard, and that was less well received than its N800 keyboardless counterpart.
2) Apple didn't remove all buttons from the iPhone (power, volume keys were still there). The two important changes were:
A) Removal of the physical keyboard, replaced by a (by then) well working OSD. Working with a capacitive screen.
B) They made 1 main button.
Sure there were other smartphone, Apple wasn't the first, etc
But thinking that people would just go 180 was just extraordinary. Apparently people were ready to sacrifice quite a lot for the huge screen of the iPhone.
Leader where? Blackberry was never the marketleader world-wide. That was Nokia, and OS-wise it was Symbian until ~2010 when iOS and Android took off. Nokia was never very popular in US though.
> and the keyboard was his best loved feature.
Because on screen keyboards were still using resistive touchscreen with pens. Which is a terrible user experience. Apple used capacitive touchscreen instead, and even though the resolution was low, it worked.
Nokia didn't invest enough in Maemo, and didn't want to adopt Android either. When they finally did go with Maemo, Elop came with plan A. Look at the user experience of Sailfish. That could've easily been Nokia in ~2014...
I like the 2016 MacBook Pro. The disappointment I felt was that after such a long wait for the update, I was expecting/hoping for a best of breed laptop, with no real flaws. In day to day use I don't actually think about its various (and widely discussed) flaws so much, and I just get on with using it as a tool to do my work.
The Touchbar is useless, though.
Even that part is mostly wrong. A fast horse can run more than 40MPH which about all you can expect from a car in a city. The main reason most people don't own a horse isn't that a car is faster.
Users ask for things that are obvious. No kidding faster is better. Can we have it cheaper and more reliable too?
If you ask most people in 1870 how to improve those aspects of a horse they'll tell you all about horse breeding but that doesn't get you a car.
Only on flat ground. Make a horse go uphill for a while and he will soon stop if carrying anything. A car, even an ancient one, not so much.
Add to that that cars can maintain a sustained speed as long as they have fuel, and of course cars are much faster than horses all things considered, and of course this is one of the reasons of their adoption - you can get much farther with a car than with a horse in the same amount of time, and it needs less maintenance as well.
> you can get much farther with a car than with a horse in the same amount of time, and it needs less maintenance as well.
But that's not faster. That's endurance, reliability, economy. You're arguing that the tortoise is faster than the hare, but "being faster" isn't how the tortoise won the race.
A slow car can go much more than 40 mph. Both cars and horses may be practically limited by traffic most of the time in crowded urban environments, but cars are still faster, even in most cities, on both peak and practically-attained-average speeds.
"The Model T had a front-mounted 177-cubic-inch (2.9 L) inline four-cylinder engine, producing 20 hp (15 kW), for a top speed of 40–45 mph (64–72 km/h)."
Being faster than horses isn't why cars won. Given the choice between a modern car and a hypothetical horse with the same or higher top speed, most people are still not going to choose the horse.
Oh wait, that's a fancier horse...
From the OP:
>>> Once they do that, they then need to go off and be Apple, but from a base of knowledge instead of a set of assumptions — assumptions that seem to be flawed and incorrect. But what Apple doesn’t want to do is start building products the way other companies do, because we don’t need “faster horses”, we need Apple to look beyond what users are asking for and figure out what they really need. That’s been Apple’s innovation strength in the past, and right now, it increasingly seems missing from the products they give us.
You want a Suffolk Punch boiy[sic]!
 boiy, or some spelling there of, is how old fellas round these parts (Suffolk, England) like to refer to each other. :)
For anyone wondering what a proper young old boy sounds like I would suggest the following factual and totally legit documentary on the storm of 1987 ...as described by one "Brian from Melton":-
That (IMO) was the Jobs difference. He wanted game-changing awesome in everything - the PR, the advertising, the packaging, the launches, the personal story, the ecosystem, the design, and the product internals.
Sometimes he got that very wrong. Mostly he didn't. But I always felt that Jobs was absolutely consistent about the goal, even when his idea of awesome was as much of a miss than a hit. (As at NeXT.)
Cook doesn't understand awesome in the same way. He understands useful, more or less, and he understands incrementally better. But he's not obsessively and addictively dedicated to making things that are unexpectedly cool and insanely great - or at least as insanely great as they can be, given what's possible. Mostly he seems to want to make money by cutting production costs to raise margins - which is fine for a company, but not very exciting for anyone else.
The problem for Apple is that Jobs was one of a kind. Not only is there no one at Apple who can replace him, I'd be surprised if there's anyone in the entire industry. The only two people who are similarly obsessive, effective and obnoxious are Bezos and Musk, and they both have other plans.
And I'm not saying that as a fanboi, because Jobs was clearly an obnoxious asshole for far too much of his life. But credit where it's due - he was uniquely smart and talented.
Apple's best hope might be to keep a very close eye on the AI startup scene and see if they can talent-spot the next major player before he/she gets to billionaire status.
This sounds dismissive. I get what you're saying but user information is invaluable. I assume you mean, make sure you get information from your customers in a productive way. For example I've never known a dev who wasn't surprised watching a usability study.
The new versions of macOs provide no added advantage and have a lot of regressions. I used to use Exposé all the time, now I don't because everything slows to a crawl when I activate it.
And I run into severe bugs. For example, when I installed Yosemite and activated Filevault, it managed to corrupt my partition and all my data (luckily I had a backup).
I really wish Apple starts actually hiring good software engineers or at least manage them to work on their OS because right now it's embarrassing. It reminds me of when Windows ME was a thing. If Apple ran the I'm a Mac, I'm a PC ad nowadays they wouldn't have much of a leg to stand on.
And then don't even get me started on their pro apps. Aperture used to be a great app (much better than lightroom), they stopped its development.
The first release of macOS Sierra (10.12.0) was vastly more usable than the first release of MacOS X Snow Leopard (10.6.0). I should know: I transitioned to Snow Leopard on release and practically nothing was running on it. I think it's the only time in my life I reverted to the previous version of macOS... It didn't prevent Snow Leopard to become one of the best OS, in the end.
The problem is that Apple is shipping things that aren't right/ready, but this should be independent from the release schedule.
The short version is that the Windows ecosystem is plagued by legacy software (even Windows itself).
A secondary issue are forced updates breaking things, which i've had on two of my 4 windows laptops so far. Finally, the mess of legacy and new settings screens is annoying, but once setup it doesn't matter much, so it only affects the first-run experience.
Aside from those i think w10 is nice. I wouldn't mind replacing my mini with a windows machine, and if apple doesn't update it soon i probably will.
I just got the Kaby Lake XPS 13 Developer Edition. If you want to be cutting edge and "refined", you'll have issues. By cutting edge I mean things like:
XPS13DE ships with Ubuntu 16.04, kernel 4.4. Switching to an external DP/TB3 monitor kernel panics. Switching to 16.10, kernel 4.8 makes Network Manager unhappy.
Using the Kensington SD4600P dock I bought (because the Dell docks are, to all reviews, horrible, and buggy), you can't run multiple displays except through Windows - OS X, Linux, ChromeOS can only drive one.
Not major issues, to be sure - but they do challenge where I want to be, a 'just works' experience (that I -used- to have with Apple, but less and less so recently), neat and polished (it is so nice to just put my laptop in a vertical dock at my desk, plug in a single USB C and get:
- power to my laptop
- 4K DP
- external keyboard, mouse, speakers, etc
all from that one little cable.
I'm glad they're settling into boredom - I just want to get stuff done without faffing around. Gone are my days of ndiswrapper for fun and XFree86Config for kicks. Actually, they're probably long-gone for a lot of people....
Does sleep/resume work?
Too true. I just tried opening Mission Control on a maxed-out MacBook Pro with Sierra and it took 7 seconds. It's a shame that Snow Leopard isn't compatible with most toolchains now.
I will say Snow Leopard was by far the peak of OS X stability (And with that, probably the best OS I have ever used) but Sierra is far from being bad or unusable for me.
I would start by checking the logs to see whether there's anything obviously failing, running the hardware diagnostics (reboot while holding down the D key – https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201257), and then uninstalling all of the apps which you mentioned that require privileged access since at least Karabiner and Little Snitch are kernel extensions and third-party kexts are notorious sources of bugs for months after a new OS X release.
I do agree that Apple needs to get better at I/O scheduling – even with an SSD the experience is less responsive than BeOS was on 90s PC hardware — but the animation loop has typically been a reliable diagnostic cue in my experience for distinguishing between swapping / disk failure and other issues.
This is exactly what I've seen. If I catch it early enough and can get the UI to respond to me tabbing to the terminal, I can kill Safari's web content processes or whatever it is that's leaking memory and it goes away.
I think what's happened is that every single developer at Apple has SSDs on their work and home computers so they get wasteful with memory. When iPhoto needs 150% memory to update an index you're not even going to notice that with an SSD, but with an HDD the system can freeze up.
This will eventually resolve itself once every computer has a SSD, but in the meantime the existing Macs with HDDs will be a mess.
13:41 up 38 days, 17:01, 6 users, load averages: 2.21 2.01 2.01
Smart user interfaces are practically invisible, created by dozens of tiny accommodations for each situation. The Mac is starting to lose that fit and finish.
I'm very curious to see how Apple plays out in the next few years and will likely look back at this article to compare, if I remember to.
As a developer, I wonder if making a Mac Developer model could be an interesting path, and if it would make financial sense in any way given the idea of "power users".
But maybe I'm just a noob who isn't professional enough to suddenly discover that life just isn't worth it without 32GB of RAM.
I have older MacBook Pros that I upgraded the RAM, and upgraded the storage (both capacity and speed), and they still work strong. When I am done with them, I pass them down to my kids.
This was a very important part of your comment. It's good that 16gb isn't an issue for you, but for some of us, it is.
To me it seems that more people now prefer laptops to desktops and it is annoying to sacrifice performance for portability. The lack of a truly powerful desktop Mac definitely is not helping in this regard either.
> If the 2016 kept the same thickness but offered 32gb, I would have been happy.
That's not possible with the current chip offerings from Intel though. The Intel CPUs that fit the MBP form factor and other features APple needs only go up to 16 GB RAM. If you doubt this is a pain point for Apple, note that Apple standardized on 16GB RAM out of the box. I'm sure thy'd love to be able to offer 32GB as an up-sell.
Sure they could inflate the MBP form factor an re-design around the chipsets that do offer 32GB RAM, but the chipsets that suit the current form factor and support 32 GB are supposedly due out next year.
That's entirely reversed. Your statement should read:
"That's entirely possible with the current chip offerings from Intel. However, it's not possible with Apple's requirements for form factor and power."
Inefficient programs with shiny GUIs.
OSX + GPU + Chrome + Hipchat alone consume over half of the available memory on my machine right now. And that's just the software which supports my development, no editors, compilers or VMs.
That said, I use a 2014 MBP and feel it's already as portable as I need. If the 2016 kept the same thickness but offered 32gb, I would have been happy.
I'm currently looking at gaming Desktops to replace my current setup because those are the only things with enough horsepower anymore. It sucks because I feel like I'm going to have to divide up a lot of the scripted tasks I have to make my workflow more efficient, given the lack of a real Unix environment on Windows.
My point is that Apple knows that laptops are a declining market. Still, the professionals who use MBPs drive adoption of other Apple products.
Yesterday I replaced our fleet of TimeCapsules and Airports with Lumas. Despite their problems they are still better than the Apple product. Rumor has it Apple isn't working on Airports any more.
Today, I began looking for a replacement for the 2009 MBP, which my 11yo son now uses. I started by looking at Microsoft Surface.
In the present, Apple doesn't meet my needs and as I look to the future, when I will need a new machine, the MacBook "Pro" is more like a MacBook "Bling".
Apple used to be an ecosystem. Now its just incremental phone updates.
Heck, Apple has become the "conservative" choice for a computer that is boring but will work with fewer problems. How we got here I have no idea.
See, I've had the exact opposite experience with my Surface. Most of the people I know much prefer MacBooks but are exploring the possibility of switching to something in the surface line. I know some of my friends had initial issues with the Surface Book but now they love it after much needed updates.
I think sometimes Microsoft pushes hardware out a little too early but, at least in my experience, they always make it a great experience even if it comes after several updates. But like Apple products it's usually best to wait until after the initial kinks work themselves out anyway.
MBPs are still the best computer one can get for a rock solid Windows experience; even the surface book trackpad (supposedly precision?) seems to not really compare to what comes on a MBP, and touch doesn't often fill in the gap. Over the last years, I've always regretted my PC purchases (4), but have never regretted my MBP purchases (3). It is really hard to come up with the courage to try again.
Going back to my rMBP for work feels limiting and slow.
There are workflow changes and difference I'm having to work through. They are different systems, after all. But it's been a good experience so far.
I currently own a Surface Pro 4. I love it. I had some issues up front and Windows is still Windows but it's gotten better and so far I love it. I'll admit it's impossible to beat a MBP's trackpad.
But as with everything I've seen folks with basically every opinion on the Surface line. So your mileage may vary.
The SP4 I have is better but still has issues with sleep/hibernation, at least compared to every Mac I have used. With my Macs I can leave them for a week and they will wake up immediately, and still have decent charge. I leave the SP4 for two days and it is dead. Leave it for a few hours and it takes 10 seconds to wake.
And the software side of those updates is bad.
Apple hardware is probably better than ever. The mechanical engineering and precision involved blows away anyone else in consumer electronics. The new MacBooks and iPhones are truly works of art compared to the cheap injection-molded stuff everyone else is pumping out.
But the software just keeps getting worse and worse.
My iPhone (and those belonging to my friend and family with iPhones) regularly has strange graphics glitches and Springboard crashes. MacOS is a clusterf*ck with tons of poorly-implemented useless "features" and UI glitches.
My suspicion is that Apple is hitting a level of software complexity where the development and maintenance costs of correct code are too high. I believe writing correct software has a super-linear cost; if you have N components in your code, you can expect something like O(N^2) cross-component interactions in your code, because any given piece of existing code is likely to interact with some portion of new code. I suspect Apple will have to change their software engineering practices if they hope to go back to a good level of quality and usability with a reasonable temporal and financial engineering budget.
I want a phone with a flat back that won't rock on a desk without a case. I want a desktop with modern specs. I want a laptop with great battery life.
Counter-anecdotally, I've owned a sequence iPhones starting with the 3G, and I've never experienced any serious glitches, ever. I remember Safari used to crash a few times a week on iOS 8, but that's ages ago.
Sounds like a hardware fault. You should take it to an Apple Store and have them run a complete diagnostic. Heck, the next time you see the graphics glitches, take a picture of the screen, and depending on the nature of the glitch, that alone might warrant replacing the device regardless of what the hardware test comes up with.
And FWIW, I've never heard of anyone else complaining of graphical glitches after upgrading to iOS 10. And if I search for "ios 10 graphics glitches", the only relevant hits are some complaints about minor glitches with the new UI for notifications (I assume that's not what you're talking about, and I also assume these minor glitches have been fixed).
Nope, just a lack of solid engineers. Anyone worth anything bailed years ago, and they're left with a used car salesman running the show (Craig Federighi). Holy Jesus is that guy a tool.
I looked back at a review of the 2009 MacBook because I didn't believe RAM was that expensive back then, but I was wrong:
* To upgrade the RAM in the 2.26GHz model, which comes with just 2GB of RAM in its standard configuration, Apple charges an extra $100 for 4GB (a pair of 2GB modules) and $1,100 for 8GB (a pair of 4GB modules). The 2.53GHz model, which ships with 4GB of RAM can be purchased with the optional 8GB of memory for an additional $1,000. *
The last unibody MacBook Pros that I owned, I upgraded to 8GB and 16GB for $35 and $79, respectively.
Network is faster but the app is what I really like. Now just roll over grab my tablet and see if the proper kids are at home. Also allows you see if who they said went home actually went home. How long until they figure how I know?
I agree with your assessment though. Seems dead.
I think that's a bit more solid than a rumour, though Apple is secretive enough that it could also mean that they're planning a replacement product similar to Alexa, for example.
Don't forget the watch, and the advances in dongle technology.
> Now its just incremental phone updates.
I see this point made a lot, especially on Hacker News whenever this general topic comes up. I'm just curious: what evidence is there to support this point of view?
I'm as frustrated as the next software engineer that the new Macbook Pros aren't targeted at me or users like me (and that there hasn't been a new Mac Pro in a long time), and my next primary machine may well not be an Apple product when my current Macbook Pro ages out. But I don't really see an argument that draws a line between that fact and a future perception issue for Apple - and that seems to be accepted as gospel whenever the topic of Apple comes up in developer circles. Who are these "influencers" whose opinions purportedly closely align with software engineers' and why do consumers care about them?
Macs or later iPhone, it didn't matter we had to tell everyone that those nice and shiny devices were the real deal and we kept showing and telling until the last potential convert saw the light as well.
I have been buying a new Mac and iPhone almost annually for about ten years now – even (or especially) after 2011 and 2013. I honestly was thrilled by iOS7, I loved it from the moment of its introduction and only saw potential.
All that said, no "OSX" release has made me happier than Snow Leopard unfortunately and I am still convinced that "Losing the Functional High-Ground" by Marco Arment channeled an important message about a pattern most of us likely still see across the whole product line-up even though many things got better since.
Why else have we slowly but steadily stopped recommending Macs over the last two years?
When will that happen to iPhones or iPads? I'm still recommending them left and right but it somehow also is getting harder in a way, especially when people keep losing their safe-in-the-cloud data (in some cases even those precious moments with iPhone – photos).
Unfortunately Apple does seem to need a (kool-aid sober) benevolent dictator with taste and wholistic understanding of their core product/business (what is that going to be btw?).
What I'm asking after, I suppose, is evidence that there are "gazillions" of former "Unix converts" driving significantly more money than I'm estimating here. I still continue to feel like this whole "software developers are influencers" line of argumentation when it comes to Apple products is just wishful thinking crossed with extrapolating from very limited personal anecdotes.
I think the better insight is that our needs, for practicality and occasional updates, are quite common. Its nice to add more memory or disk without needing a new machine. It would be nice to have a replaceable battery in my laptop. Apple is screwing up all these simple things.
People are not buying iPhones to spend the majority of the the time using the built-in native apps of iOS.
It's a small detail, but the power cord is the one part of the computer that users have no choice but to interact with every day and they've been ignoring the problems with them for the better part of half a decade.
Every Mac at work either has detached and frayed around the power connector strain relief, or looks like an extremely precise samurai has made tens of small cuts in the jacket of the cable.
I've had more problems with Apple cables than any other brand - and Apple tends to make their cables sleeker looking. Coincidence? I doubt it.
At least they've improved from the Wallstreet-era Powerbook G3 chargers, though. I think I went through 3 of those circa 1998. Of course, those machines, and the early G4 Powerbooks, had bigger issues than just that. Dark times in Macland.
(As an aside, how people talk about their device history is a good litmus test of the length of their experience with Apple hardware, thanks to the Intel switch laptop name change.)
If you leave out the tape, and you put a bunch of them in a box, this is the ritual for summoning an elder god. (the elder god is always gone by the time you re-open the box, but the non-euclidean tangle they've left the cables in is quite apparent.) Unless you're the kind of person who will happily and patiently sit uncluttering the cables without yanking them for a few hours, you'll damage your stuff extracting them from this class of mess.
For reference: I am actually still using the charging cable that came with my 2009 MBP (via a magsafe2 adapter) with my latest work-issued MBP as the spare adapter in the home office. The cable is a bit grubby, but undamaged and entirely functional.
Perhaps you had more Apple cables (an obvious branding) compared to any other brand? And your apple cables get more use than others (e.g. on your main laptop, compared to some cable left for years connected to a printer at the office, etc).
Except if you had e.g. an equal number of Dell and Apple machines, etc, or buy branded cables from a single brand.
I have never had an entire Apple charger stop working, though.
tl;dr they're pretty trash, but maybe so are other chargers.
There really is something wrong with the stupid cable. It's unthinkable that any of my other non-apple cables would do this.
I’m have to admit being a bit baffled by how nobody else seems to have done what Apple did with the Macbook Air – even several years after the first release, the other notebook vendors continue to push those ugly and clunky* things. Yes, there are vendors that have tried to emulate it, but usually pretty badly. I don’t think I’m unusual in preferring my laptop to be thin and light. (...) I want my office to be quiet. The loudest thing in the room – by far – should be the occasional purring of the cat. And when I travel, I want to travel light. A notebook that weighs more than a kilo is simply not a good thing (yeah, I’m using the smaller 11″ macbook air, and I think weight could still be improved on, but at least it’s very close to the magical 1kg limit)*
People forget that thin, quiet, light, etc are also "function", and more important to some people than function they'll never exhaust in their use cases, like a bleeding fast GPU.
This takes about 1 year, 1 year and an half. I never jam it in doors or desks. I do not have pets. I sometimes put it in my bag but I do not wind up the cable to avoid having additional tear on it. I do live part of the year in hot and humid climate (like Japan in summer or South East Asia) which might accelerate the issue.
But honestly, this is a problem, no matter how careful I am, I have to buy new chargers.
Now it doesn't really matter as they just use a standard USB-C cable so you can use whatever brand cable you want.
There's a reason why everyone else uses thicker cables and strain relief.
And it's not because of end-user negligence: it's because of engineering pragmatism.
Although all this is irrelevant since Apple phased out mag safe, the "ears" that hold the cable, and added a removable cable.
Still, Apple's Lightning cables are also extremely vulnerable to bending and abrasion. What makes you think their USB-C cables will be much better?
Non-technical customers who can't afford to buy new cables, or don't know to use better aftermarket cables, are already known to resort to using springs from pens as ad-hoc strain relief: https://www.google.ca/search?q=iphone+charger+spring
Nothing, but at least those can be replaced without having to upgrade the whole power brick.
I'd say half of the Macbook users around me have suffered problems with power brick cables. Specially where the mag safe cable connects to the power brick.
I wouldn't blame it on users though. I've never seen other power bricks so plagued with these problems.
Just stop already.
It's fine to say you don't have issues, but if six other people are saying they have issues, and know people with issues, it's rude to write them all off like that.
EDIT: replacing the paraphrased quote to try to avoid unfairly representing the original statement and remove my read of its intent. I had paraphrased it down to ""I assume the people having issues are responsible for those issues" which dropped the bit about perhaps having pets or similar and so put everything on the disrespecting the hardware part.
Even if every user was using it wrong I would still call it an Apple issue as their solution is obviously not meeting the needs of their users.
That's a really strange thing, because it's such a well-understood problem and the solution is known. I don't know why Apple makes such lousy power cables, even if they messed up a decade ago, you'd think they'd have fixed it by now.
The second layer of wiring that twists around the core wire is going only in one direction (a simple helix as opposed to a double criss-crossing helix like coax cable). Hence, if you twist the cable in the opposite direction, the helix becomes undone. I suspect that causes pressure on the white plastic insulation, and also leads to some electrical issues that increase resistance, produce heat, and causes the white plastic insulation to become yellow/burnt and to start disintegrating.
The funny thing is that you can abuse the cable in any way or you can be extra careful, but the only thing that will matter is in what direction you coil it. If you don't travel a lot and don't touch it, you're unlikely to notice any problems for years.
Apple likes their bright colors too much to do that :)
So your dream will likely come true in a different--yet much better--format.