Egg Freckles
Notes from my Newton

Thu 1/19 | Apple's Support Gap

Nick Heer:

I’ve been trying to book some time at my local Apple Store to get my iPhone’s battery swapped, and it has not been easy — at least, not compared to the way it used to be. Previously, I’d open the Apple Store app on my phone, open up my store’s page, and tap the button to get support. I could easily make a Genius Bar appointment from there with just a few taps.

When I worked for Apple retail from 2003-2006 we were instructed to help everyone. This was before concierge, before appointments, and before the iPhone. It was just me, the bar, and hundreds of Apple customers looking for help every day.

Needless to say this approach did not scale after the introduction of the iPhone. But even now — ten years after the iPhone was introduced — I would still rather wait 3 days to see someone in person, then send my device off in the mail and hope for the best.

Thu 1/19 | Default Apps in iOS

Kirk McElhearn, writing for Macworld, is frusterated he can't choose his default apps in iOS.

But iOS offers no such option. If you tap a URL, it opens in Safari. If you tap a link to send an email, it opens in Mail. The default calendar is Apple’s Calendar app. And so on. You may not want to work that way and because Apple doesn’t give you any choice, you’re stuck with workarounds: using share sheets to open a web page in a different browser; copying an email link or address to create an email; and so on.

The simplicity of iOS is inviting to new users, but it is hurting the growth of the platform.

These kind of design decisions keep me from considering iOS to be more than a appliance.

Thu 1/19 | Apple Abandons Airport

Mark Gurman writing for Bloomberg:

Apple Inc. has disbanded its division that develops wireless routers, another move to try to sharpen the company’s focus on consumer products that generate the bulk of its revenue, according to people familiar with the matter.

If the rumors are true, and Apple is out of the standalone display business, this report makes sense.

In a world where the most popular computers have a always-on cellular connection, and every ISP gives you a free wireless router on contract, it makes sense for Apple to get out of wireless router business.

If Apple replaces the Airport Base Stations in their retail stores with a third-party product, Eero seems to make the most sense. Eero has dedicated apps like Airport, and is innovating in a direction that Airport has not moved in years.

Decemberi 2016 | Gimmick Strip

Gimmick Strip

Last weekend I had the chance to visit my local Apple Store and check out the new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar. I was not impressed.

The Touch Bar could have been the greatest user interface advancement to hit the Mac since the Multitouch Trackpad. Instead it is a Gimmick Strip used to quickly tap commonly used keyboard shortcuts and emoji. Complex tasks, like those used in Final Cut Pro X, are possible. But instead of keeping your hands on the keyboard and your eyes on the screen, the Touch Bar forces users to waste time hunting for hidden commands.

Designing the Touch Bar took development time away from the Mac. Apple only released four new Mac models this year. One was a speed bump, and only two have the Touch Bar. How many more Macs could have been updated this year if Apple hadn't wasted time on Touch Bar? If Apple thinks the Touch Bar is such a big deal, why not include it on every new Mac?

Like the Multitouch Trackpad on Mac OS X and 3D Touch on iOS, adoption of the Touch Bar requires new hardware. New hardware comes at a cost. The increased price of new MacBook Pros will delay the adoption of Apple's newest user interface. How many Mac users will benefit from a feature that is only on the most expensive Macs? Will developers embrace a feature only wealthy Mac owners can afford?

Even if the Touch Bar is adopted by the few, we will all be stuck with its cost for a long time. Raising the price and complexity of every Mac model that includes it.

The Touch Bar is a distraction. A bone thrown to the Macintosh Community while Apple continues to prioritize iOS. It might be a shiny bone, the best distractions are, but given its limited functionality the cost is too high. Until we all get more time with the new MacBook Pros, adding the Touch Bar asks more questions than it answers.