Whenever someone asks me why I like Apple stuff so much, I use this quote I ripped off from someone, but I can’t remember who: Apple tells you “this is the best choice and that’s it” where as other companies like Google or Microsoft will say “here’s all your options, have at it” – I like the fact people smarter than me have made the choice for me. Steve Jobs described this in an All Things D interview a few years ago:
And Steve is right. Apple has made money hand over fist, so the decisions they’re making are obviously correct. Most of the time. Sometimes though, Apple’s decisions give me the shits. These are a few of them.
The New iMac & Expensive SSDs
Who uses computers without an SSD these days? Poor people or people who don’t know better – that’s who. Everyone else is using an SSD. They’re awesome. So when Apple released the new iMac, with no SSD option other than a $1,080 BTO option (on the 27″ only! Suck it if you want a 21.5″ iMac with an SSD), I was sorely disappointed.
What Apple have done instead is something called “Fusion Drive” which is a 128GB SSD, plus a 1TB or 3TB spinny disk and the operating system decides where to put what. A decent compromise between the large amounts of data people keep on their computers and the high price of an SSD, but I don’t want that. I just want a reasonably priced 256GB/512GB SSD and no mechanical hard drive.
Clearly Apple knows people want just a plain SSD, as they made the 768GB drive an option in the 27″ iMac, but why not roll that out to 256GB and 512GB drives?! It actually wouldn’t bother me that much to spend a little extra to get the 768GB SSD, but $1,080?! That’s total bullshit. I can buy a 512GB Samsung 840 Pro SSD for $520 down at the local PC store. Would it have killed Apple to add a 512GB SSD option for say $600? (which is still overpriced). Apple offer the 512GB SSD in the 13″ Retina MacBook Pro lineup for an extra $580 as an upgrade from the 128GB model – use that same SSD in the iMac!
No AppleTV SDK
I understand why this isn’t a thing. Apple are biding their time and making sure whatever they do with the Apple TV is spot on, as they know that if they can get iPod or iPad level success with the Apple TV, they’ll be a trillion dollar company. But in the meantime, as a nerd who knows how shit works (most of the time), the Apple TV not having an SDK for 3rd party developers is like when the first iPhone came out and there wasn’t an SDK for it either.
Apps for networks, with video on demand. Back catalogs of rights holders (HBO, FX, AMC, etc.) can simply be an app – easy to navigate and difficult to pirate. Sports making their own apps for live streaming of events – instead of paying Foxtel to watch the AFL, the AFL can do it themselves and charge you $150/season for all the live games of your team, with other games on demand. News can be live, via a BBC, Al Jazeera, CNN or Sky app.
Then there’s games. Xbox, Playstation – Apple TV with an iPhone controller (or a Leap or a MYO). I think you can imagine the possibilities yourself.
Can’t merge Apple IDs
Somehow I ended up with a separate Apple ID for buying apps and music and whatnot off the iTunes store, and an iCloud account. I’ve also got another email address which I use for logging in to the Apple Developer Connection. I’d like to merge them together so my iCloud details are my sole Apple ID for every instance where I need to log into an Apple thing.
Lightning AV connector & short cables
The Lightning connector is pretty cool. You can plug it in any way you like and it’s smaller. I also understand they had to move on from the 30-pin cable eventually, but in this transition period, there’s been a few hiccups. First of all, where’s the 2m or 3m Lightning to USB cables? Long cables are good for running them along in the car, or from power outlets far away behind the couch, or just far away in general like at a cafe or airport. I had a 3m long 30-pin cable that was super handy. There’s also the price of a new cable – $20!? Cheap Chinese knockoffs haven’t been coming in very fast either and the ones that have aren’t very reliable.
The Lightning AV connector (which is what inspired this article) has recently been hacked open by the guys at Panic and they discovered that the new AV connector isn’t as simple as it was in the past. The iOS device uses it’s hardware to make a realtime H264 stream of its screen and pipes it over to that CPU on the Lightning adaptor which converts it to a HDMI signal to display on the TV. Sounds nifty, but in reality, it has several drawbacks – increased CPU load on the device so battery time decreases significantly. Fast quality encoding results in artefacts and poor image quality on the output display. No 1080p image as was available previously (as the iOS device can’t do realtime 1080p encoding – at the moment). Eventually these issues will be fixed or worked around by Apple, but right now – pisses me off that I can’t record a 1080p signal out of the iPhone or iPad like I used to and that image quality when outputting to a 1080p projector is kinda crappy.
Mac Pro where art thou?
The iMac is cool (barring the SSD issue..) but the Mac Pro is my preferred computer. Lots of hard drives, multiple monitors, fast graphics cards, heaps of RAM, dual CPUs, awww yeah. But Apple has forgotten about the Mac Pro. The design hasn’t changed in over 10 years, the CPUs residing in the current model are a generation behind, there’s no Thunderbolt or USB 3.0 and the graphics cards options are virtually ancient (5000 series ATI cards?!).
I know Apple is working on it, but it still frustrates me that there’s no high performance Mac Pro available. There are people making Hackintoshes to get the Mac they want, for god’s sake. Even Marco Arment got in on this debate yesterday.