Category: Apple, Opinion

The Future of Personal Computing

I was about half way through a run last Wed evening when it dawned on me that Apple’s September event was underway. By the time I sat down to watch it later that evening I had already caught the headlines. But there’s nothing quite like watching these well staged events from start to finish and things have certainly come a long way compared to the glitchy QuickTime streams we used to struggle with. Streaming quality was beautiful on the big screen thanks to the Apple TV.

It was interesting to see that I’m in the 3% of customers not satisfied with the Apple Watch. Hey, if being in the minority bothered me I would have been a Windows user decades ago LOL. I was expecting the iPhone 6S and while there were no surprises, it certainly didn’t disappoint and I’ve already put in my pre-order. It’s still not my ideal iPhone. I’d like to see something in the 5’s form factor with a more rugged casing and double the battery life (at the expense of some extra thickness) but ‘rugged’ and ‘thicker’ are not exactly in Apple’s vocabulary. Anyway, the 6S is still a worthy step up in features from a 5S and I’ll just have to deal with the Samsungish form factor. 3D Touch brings a new dimension to interacting with the device, particularly how well it’s been integrated into iOS 9 and I’m looking forward to it. That’s the kind of forward thinking, human experience focus that Apple does so well.

The new Apple TV was also a welcome addition, albeit late by a couple of years. The Siri integration looked solid and the App store will be the game changer. My old Apple TV wouldn’t get half the use if it weren’t for the excellent Plex Connect hack so I’m looking forward to seeing some native apps. There’s a real opportunity here not only in the living room but also in the classroom to develop some seriously innovative solutions. This is the way to leverage the power of the iPad in that space.

By far the biggest star of the show was the iPad Pro and more significant than the device itself was how Tim Cook choose to preface it; “This is the clearest expression of our vision of the future of personal computing…” This is an elegant way of saying ‘The Mac is dead, long live the iPad’. The writing has been on the wall for a while and many will disagree with my assessment (or at least lament its truth). Apple isn’t going to kill off the Mac immediately and so long as they are selling, why would they? You only have to look at where the efforts are being invested and where the innovations are coming from to see where we are going.

The Mac has been stagnating in hardware and OS development for years. The design has barely changed in a decade. We’re at the mercy of Intel’s roadmap which translates to minor speed bumps year after year after year. The headline ‘features’ of Mac OS updates are largely steps to bring parity with iOS, often by dumbing down apps or implementing iOS interface elements like Launch Pad which are of little worth on a file system based Mac. The questionable single port MacBook is just an attempt to dumb down the hardware. If it weren’t for a few new desktop pictures, I doubt we’d hardly notice the last 4 major Mac OS updates.

I’m slowly coming to terms with this, bidding farewell to tools such as Aperture which had made the Mac my professional creative workhorse for so many years. Seeing an iPad Pro edit 4K video streams certainly helps sell Apple’s vision. I want one. I’m still wondering how my RAW image/video workflows fits into a 128GB flash device but I bet they will eventually – or more likely that new workflows will emerge. I’ve been at this game long enough to know you either roll with it or get left behind. In my Apple Watch article I concluded by saying I hoped Apple would continue to innovate and while this show didn’t launch anything revolutionarily new, it certainly delivered on some welcomed evolutionary innovation.