Even after all the fuzz when ComiXology (or better: Amazon) pulled in-app purchases from the iOS app, it's still my favorite platform to read and buy comics with an app that's far superior over Dark Horse's app for example.
9to5Mac leaked information on the long rumored 12" MacBook Air yesterday. It caused some fuzz online with people arguing pro and against.
The main reason for this is that this machine is quite a radical new approach to Apple's classic MacBook line up: fewer ports, smaller and it looses some key features like MagSafe.
I think most people were hoping that Apple would just give the existing Air a retina display and be done with it. But when you give the Air a retina display you would also need to give it a better graphics card to drive that screen, which means a higher power draw so a bigger battery. Follow this train of thoughts and the Air turns basically into a MacBook Pro.
What they did here is rethink the Air from a post-PC standpoint. The main features that make the current Air such an awesome machine is portability, battery live and the fact that even the 11" model gives you the full OS X experience on the road.
Apple already has another great device to work away from the office. It has a 9" screen, runs iOS, has a lightning port for power and accessories and an headphone jack to listen to movies or music while traveling. Combined with a detachable keyboard and it's a pretty powerful machine.
But suppose you really need OS X for some specific software but also want it to be portable..
Replace detachable with attached, lightning with USB and iOS with OS X and voila, it's basically the new MacBook Air.
I see this machine really as what an iPad would look like if it would run OS X. Not some weird hybrid like a Surface but a machine that gives you the real OS X on the road.
I also found it weird that people reacted so adversely to the lack of ports. An iPad has only one port and nobody complains about that. In an era where everything lives online I think such a machine can really work for a certain group of people. People who AirPlay presentations, whose files sync across Dropbox and iCloud, who take photos with an iPhone and sync them with iCloud Photo Library. Well, basically those people who can be productive on an iPad but prefer or need OS X.
From another point of view I find this to be a very weird move. Since this is basically an iPad running OS X, should we be worried about the iPad? Why push OS X to such a mobile device instead of doubling down on the iPad and improve its shortcomings? I mean, the iPad as a device is awesome, but iOS still lacks some polish on the iPad.
Is it because Apple is a hardware company? A company that knows how to create awesome hardware? Is it easier for them to push OS X to a mobile device than to improve iOS?
I'm really curious on how Apple will advertise this machine upon launch. Will they place it next to the iPad on a slide? Or will they ignore the iPad and push the Air as a truly mobile solution for OS X?
One things for sure, I'll miss the safety of Magsafe.
When Apple presented the iPhone in 2007, I was sold after the second time Steve said: "An iPod, a phone, an internet mobile communicator". Three years later, when they presented the iPad, I was sold after I saw Steve casually browsing the New York Times sitting in that chair. But when they presented the Watch in September I wasn't immediately sold.
Not because the keynote was bad, not because the product as bad, but mainly because I couldn't see its purpose. I found it to be a answer for a question that we didn't ask.
In a way the iPad is also a solution for a problem that we imagine. You can do everything you do on the iPhone or Mac. But thanks to some awesome apps, the iPad proofed that it's a good product that definitely solves problems. Although one may argue that Apple should keep asking the question -what is it useful for?- in order to further iterate on the original concept and further improve iOS on the iPad. But that's another discussion.
Apple presented the Watch as a fitness tracker, a way to glance at notifications and a way to interact in an intimate way with your significant other(s). At least, that's how I remember the keynote. They're all features that seem useful, but they don't really solve any issue I have or replace actions I can just as well do on my iPhone or iPad. My iPhone can tell me how many steps I took and my iPad can alert me for a new mail, it's not that I get anything new from buying the watch,
In a way where the iPad promised a better reading experience than the Mac, and a better way to be productive on the road compared to the iPhone, it's seems to me that Apple argues that the Watch will be better at notifying me than the iPhone currently does. They are selling a better feature experience as a reason for this new product to exist.
So the standing question is: do I want my notifications to be improved? Is getting email alerts on my wrist something I want? Is glancing at a message from my girlfriend during a boring meeting going to improve my life? Or will this intimacy cause me to be more stressful because I literally carry my work on my wrist now?
Only one way to find out: test it. So when a friend was selling his Pebble Steel this week because he was moving to a Moto 360 I decided to buy it from him. The fact that it was dirt cheap (about half retail price and thus similar to a Jawbone or Fitbit) made the decision even easier.
The Pebble gives me passive notifications (I can only glance, not respond), a step counter and an alarm on my wrist. At least, that's what I've got currently installed. So now I'm curious: will I like it? Will it improve my life in any way? Will I get addicted to it? Will glancing at my wrist become a habit?
But one thing I'm sure of: if I like the idea of a smart watch, I'm buying an Watch, because the Pebble currently feels like a hack on top of iOS instead of something that just works. Nothing beats integration when it comes to user experience and the joy of tech.