Apple Upgrade Regret

As someone who owns an iPhone, Mac, iPad and an Apple TV, I can safely say I’m deeply embedded into the Apple ecosystem. I got my first Mac, a white iMac n 2001 at the dawn of the OS X revolution and loved it. I had switch back to a Windows PC for university as back then a lot of the software development tools I needed were PC-only or required I keep upgrading my OS on the iMac to install them (the poor G3 processor struggled from the offset with OS X).

I came back into the Apple ecosystem with an iPhone in 2009, and later an iPod Touch (now retired), iPad and more recently and Apple TV. They all work well together, and the hardware design and quality is second to none.

So I was excited when Apple announced as WWDC that iOS 8 and Mac OS X 10.10 Yosemite would further deepen that integration. About a month ago I finally upgraded my phone (a trusty 2-year old iPhone 5) and iPad to iOS 8., and two weeks later my MacBook Air to Yosemite. My Apple TV also got upgraded (after weeks of nagging me) to iOS version 7.0.2 (oddly it seems to be on a different versioning system).

In short, I have regrets.

Yosemite on the desktop is the polar opposite of 10.9 Mavericks. While Mavericks was all about optimisation, whether it was battery life or memory consumption, Yosemite is a lavish excursion into a world of translucency and bright colours and unfortunately, some bugs.

Take for example listening to music over headphones. No longer possible if you have an Apple TV on the same network. You either need to unplug the Apple TV, or turn off Wi-Fi. Animations are choppy, and the new looks resembles the much derided Windows Vista. There are a few useful new features; Safari now feels much more streamlined and being able to send and receive SMS messages from the Mac is brilliant. I’d rather have a fast, bug free system running Mavericks and sacrifice these small but useful features, however.

On the Apple TV side things are even worse. It used to be that from a Mac or iOS device you could start beaming audio or visual content while the Apple TV was in deep sleep mode (“off”). This no longer works. Now I need to hunt around for the infrared remote and switch on the Apple TV first. This also rules out using the iPhone Remote app, as it uses the same mechanism and cannot wake the Apple TV. Often I try and beam a video to the Apple TV an get sound coming out of the TV but no audio. Frustrated, I reboot my iPhone or Mac and it still happens. In the end I learnt that I actually need to reboot the Apple TV to get my videos to play.

Nothing major on its own, and yes the very definition of a 1st world problem – my frustration is that this stuff used to work so brilliantly, and now it doesn’t.

On the iOS 8 side things have been surprisingly non-eventful. After the upgrade that was iOS 7 it might just be it seems that way in comparison,  but it seems to work pretty well. I love being able to use LastPass in Safari. Occasionally I find Safari will show me a white page, only to show the content when I try and scroll. No big issues though.

Writing bug free software isn’t easy, I know that all too well, so I don’t feel like its fair to call out Apple as being any different to say, Microsoft (one word: Excel). However Apple could make the lives of its users easier by letting them downgrade! There’s nothing wrong with trying something, deciding it’s not for you right now, and going back. Software should be running on a device because the user wants it, not because they have no way of removing it.

Print vs Digital Magazines

For the recycling...

 

I’ve been a subscriber to various magazines over the years. Since 2006 and to this day I’ve had a subscription to New Scientist (that’s just over 400 magazines delivered to my door alone), previously .Net Magazine and PC Pro.

New Scientist is a weekly periodical and appears in newsagents on a Thursday. Back in 2006 (and for many years) this meant it would arrive on a Thursday in the post. Unfortunately as time went on, it became Friday…and then Saturday. Recently I’d been receiving some issues on the Monday, 4 days after I’d seen it on the newsstand and 3 days before the next issue. This seemed a bit bizarre to me, so decided to switch to the cheaper subscription ‘digital only’ subscription.

I read a lot on my iPad, but i’ve always enjoyed the feeling of ‘switching off’ that comes with picking up a real, printed magazine. That said, I’ve found the NewScientist iPad app a vast improvement on earlier attempts at magazines on tablets. Unlike a lot of earlier magazine apps I tried when I first got an iPad in 2011, the NewScientist app is not a scanned-in image of the printed page. That means text is infinitely sharp, and you can select words to look them up (or even copy and paste them). A push notification alerts me when a new issue is available to download, although so far is hasn’t downloaded in the background as iOS NewsStand are apparently able to do. Being mostly text this does mean the downloads are relatively small, so that’s not a big deal.

One thing that does strike me as odd, being ‘digital only’, is the concept of an ‘issue’ itself. Does The Verge have ‘issues’, does the BBC News website? Of course not, they’re digital publications. I wonder whether magazines of the future will either. There is, however, something to be said for having a completed body of work that can be enjoyed as a whole, and having it delivered on a regular schedule and to be able to refer to back to an article based on its issue number and page rather than URL.

So glad I made the switch. Not sure I’ll be taking my iPad with me to the beach though. Sand and screens have never been a great mix. For that I’ll resort to good old paper.