2012, the year of the new Apple

So, the first complete year of Apple without Steve Jobs at the helm in the 2000s has drawn to a close, though who knows when his legacy of influence will end behind the scenes. It’s been quite a revolutionary year, though there haven’t been any brand new product lines.

The most notable and widest spread product update is certainly the iPhone, I say widest spread because it is unbelievably popular and even those who aren’t Mac users own them – it’s a fully featured Apple product that the masses are interested in and can afford. For example, I could spend a day without seeing a single Mac, but I’d be hard pressed to walk one block without seeing an iPhone. Anyway, this year’s iPhone update was certainly the biggest physical update we’ve ever seen – it now has a 4″ screen, and it’s ever steadily getting faster, but on the whole it’s the normal amount of new features Apple brings out yearly.

One feature to spread across Apple’s portable range has been the inevitably controversial lightning connector. Another first since 2007, Apple made a change to the connector port on the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and iPod nano, said by Apple themselves to be “a bold move”. Smaller, reversible, and hopefully a lot less prone to connections issues with fraying cables, it threw the accessory industry up in arms as their 30-pin connector products were nearly made redundant. Apple released a 30-pin connector to lightning port adapter, but really, the height of the new iPhone and iPod touch combined with that adapter just won’t fit in those speaker systems with an enclosed iPhone space. It also seems there are more cases available for the iPhone 4/4S than for the iPhone 5, but I’m hoping that situation will improve over the coming months.

iTunes was updated with a massive visual overhaul, covered in slightly more detail here. My opinions on it are still mixed, as queuing music is fantastic but I do miss the control I had over the way I viewed my music collection.

In the Mac corner, we saw the majority of devices getting thinner and faster, with the new iMac and retina MacBook Pro. We’re still awaiting a retina MacBook Air, but is there really a need? The Mac Pro has been largely overlooked yet again, I can’t remember when I last saw it get an update in a keynote rather than a subtle enhancement. Year by year it does look as if Apple is trying to drop the Mac Pro, but as impressive as the iMac gets each year, you just can’t beat 12 cores and 64GB of RAM, which many media professionals use daily.

Elsewhere there was an update to the Apple TV introducing 1080p output for the same price of $99. Not to forget the iPad mini, a product anticipated almost since the day the original iPad was released. And then there’s the iPad… when Apple announced a fourth generation, I fit into the category of people who asked themselves “but didn’t they just release the third generation?”. Yes, in a move uncharacteristically like Apple, they updated a product within their usual 12 month rotation – perhaps compensating for the iPhone 4 not being updated for nearly a year and a half.

And finally, there’s iOS 6. Making the headlines for all the wrong reasons, Apple released their first version of iOS without Google’s products being an out-of-the-box component because their deal expired. Google released a YouTube app on the App Store fairly promptly, but only recently updated it to support the iPhone 5’s screen size. I’m sure you won’t forget the Maps fiasco, with Apple’s maps being ridiculed and sneered at. Google left Apple users without an alternative until only earlier this month with Google Maps finally making it onto the App Store. I can’t imagine what took them so long to produce it, maybe they chose the path of letting Apple embarrass themselves rather than play the role of the instant hero. Nevertheless, I feel Jobs’ declaration of thermonuclear war on Apple will prevail posthumously.

Oh, one last thing in the Apple headlines – Scott Forstall was forced to leave Apple. With Steve out of the picture, Tim and Jony saw a chance to remove Forstall and his skeuomorphic design tendencies. While the appearance of iOS is getting stale, I personally don’t dislike Notes looking like a legal pad and folders having a cloth background, but clearly others want it gone. It would be interesting if 2013 brings a completely re-designed iOS.

In the ever-busy Apple ‘rumor mill’ we exit the year with a potentially Intel-powered Apple watch, interesting since the latest iPod nano did away with the form factor that made it wearable on the wrist, and the never-faltering suggestion of an actual Apple TV; a screen, not just a box.

When I started this back in 2010, I had no idea what the coming years would hold. This year I’ve only had 1,800 views, but considering there were only 11 posts excluding this one, that’s not too bad. I will try to get back into reporting every bit of Apple news there is in 2013 rather than just the key pieces, so please stick around for more to come and have a Happy New Year! I won’t be going any time soon, as despite the ever-present lack of a large and loyal reader-base, running this has at least contributed to my writing improving, something which will hopefully be beneficial in a career.


My opinion on Google Music

Mainly, I don’t really see me having a use for it. I listen to my music on three devices, my HTC Touch Pro2 (phone and pocket computer, also only thing with ‘reliable’ internet access), my iPod Touch (holds my whole library from it’s state in 2009, but can’t sync so it’s an outdated collection) and my laptop (internal HDD is only 40GB, so almost all music is stored across two external 500GB drives, but the laptop never moves so portability isn’t an issue). My iPod says “431 Songs”. In total, I probably have around 550. When out and about, I use my phone for music as one of it’s few good features is it has dual speakers with amazing quality (whereas the iPod isn’t powerful or particularly crisp when outside). Okay, I guess that could be seen as the perfect opportunity for Google Music. I only have about 30 songs on my phone’s storage card, so it’s hardly convenient to listen too music of my choosing. My laptop is my music ‘hub’. All music is on it, but it goes nowhere. This would seem to set the perfect scene for a Google Music usage opportunity. However, my main issue is internet. I don’t really have an Internet connection. Well, it’s on and off. Mostly off (long story). Pretty much all tweeting, blogging, e-mailing, browsing, IRCing etc. is done on my phone. I do sometimes tether my phone to my laptop, but that ends up somehow burning through at least 100MB in two hours. Carriers in the UK don’t quite understand the idea of ‘unlimited’ or ‘fair’. 500MB a month isn’t good enough for any phone made after 2008 (approximately). Or maybe it’s just that I in particular need to access everything online via it. Well, imagine if your data cap on your broadband was 500MB a month. You probably wouldn’t cope. I’m not getting at anyone here, or trying to make you feel I’m hard done by. I am trying to switch to the 3 network, who while not being famous for coverage, would appear to offer truly unlimited data. So, when I’m on the go, I can’t just stream my music due to the data cap. Oh, and nothing that’s fancy online works on Windows Mobile. So, I’d have to tether my iPod to my phone and use that for streaming. Which means no awesome speakers. And it means my phone would have to be switched on permanently (if I turn the screen off, wifi goes off, so tethering stops). The battery, to put it bluntly, doesn’t last long.

Maybe it’s just my specific situation that makes me dislike it. I suppose I see an ‘end’, there’s just no means (as in a means to an end. Google Music would be the solution to my slight music problem). If I lived in America with slightly nicer carriers, and if I had an array of devices that weren’t a) knackered b) incompatible and c) outdated, maybe I would use it.

I guess part of my ‘beef’ with it is that it’s Google. They do search. And adverts to monetize the search. And email to also increase ad revenues. And maps to provide a feature-full platform… Okay, maybe they don’t just do search. But Music? They killed newspapers (allegedly). Apple killed the singles with iTunes. That is a pity. I like having the thing physically. A film on DVD always feels more worth it than if it was purchased of iTunes. Same with books and music. But, digital does have a great benefit. Portability.
If it was Amazon Music, I probably wouldn’t oppose it as much. Google do seem to be trying to improve everybody’s lives in every possible way. But remember, they’re a 14 year old search engine.