September 9, 2015

1029 words 5 mins read

Microsoft showed off at an Apple event... oh and some new iDevices

Screen Shot 2015-09-09 at 10.41.25 AM
On the right you’ll see a screenshot I captured from today’s Apple event. One half of that image is an Apple staff member talking about the latest and greatest iPad Pro. On the other half of the image you’ll see… a Microsoft logo. At an Apple event? These two used to be mortal enemies. Heck, just last week there was news of Microsoft running a joint project with VMWare. Those two haven’t gotten along since high school.

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Okay, so maybe that is slightly over dramatic, but it is impressive to see how much Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is “burying the hatchet” with companies with which they were formerly bitter rivals. At the end of the day, it’s a very smart move for Microsoft since they can no longer only use Windows as their lever to move the world. Microsoft knows that it needs to get out and build good products that run anywhere and that’s what they’re doing. Look at Lync 2013 which runs on all the mobile platforms, or more recently Office 2016 for both Windows and Mac at the same time.

But enough about Microsoft… new Apple toys! Today we saw the iPad Pro (coming November), a new Apple TV (coming October), and the new iPhone 6S and 6S Plus (coming later September). There’s a lot of new features and all the major tech sites have all the glorious details. I’m willing to admit that all the devices announced today are pleasantly surprising. They all have features and additions that go above and beyond a simple “upgrade”.

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Take the Apple TV for example, it’s become a full fledged platform of its own. Sure you could argue that it doesn’t need yet-another-app-store (maybe it should be part of the iDevice app store), but it does work. There is a lot of traction with Smart TVs these days, or accessories to make your TVs smart, like Kodi.TV, Roku, and Google TV. Their addition of a very fleshed out remote control (motion, touch, and voice IR) gives you a lot of capabilities for the gaming market, but I also suspect you’ll start to see bluetooth game controllers for the Apple TV. Why not? It’s practically a console on its own. The rest of the apps, like Gilt or Zillow might seem silly at first, but they do start to make a lot of sense. How often have you turned your laptop to a friend or significant other on the couch to show something off? Ever end up losing your laptop so they could look around more? Why not just use the TV where everyone can see it (and the remote is much easier/cheaper to toss around).

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Next on the block is the iPhone 6S (and 6S Plus). I was expecting these to be much like the 5S, yawn-city, however they’re holding their own for features. The “3D Touch” itself isn’t that impressive, however their demos with the “peaks” and quick actions did impress me. Their use cases are spot on as well. If I get a text message with an address, it’d be fantastic to be able to very quickly see that on a map, and then go back to the conversation. One of the issues I’ve always had with mobile platforms (versus full OSes) is that they tend to be slow to get things done. You need to clunk from one app to another, to another, then back pedal, and hope your context isn’t lost (which often times it is). Of course there’s also the sexy new 12 megapixel camera. The iPhone’s camera, while never as many megapixels as Android, has always been better. When hanging out with Josh, it’s not uncommon for us to try and take similar pictures — we compare and his Samsung Galaxy S5 shots almost always looks sub-par when compared to the iPhone.

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Lastly, the device that excites me the most: the iPad Pro. Yes, the guy who once wrote an article titled “iPad. Biggest. Flop. Ever.” is very excited about the iPad Pro. Maybe I’ll refute myself some other time, but I think where they are going with the iPad Pro is quite interesting. The device is slowly converging on the Macbook line. The new Macbook? 12 inch screen. The new iPad Pro? 12.9 inch screen. Base level Macbook cost? $1,299.00. Upgraded iPad Pro cost? $1,347.00 ( Wi-Fi + Cellular model w/ 128GB — $1079, Apple Pencil — $99, Smart Keyboard — $169). You get the idea, but it’s not just the hardware. With all the multi-tasking additions for iOS 9 (did you see them run Word and Excel side-by-side? with copying between the two apps?) along with the general upgrades, you’re starting to see a “mobile” OS which has a lot of features that rival the desktop edition. While I have a Microsoft Surface Pro 3 (which comes in at $1,399.00 before accessories, and does have a desktop OS), I think the iPad’s mobile OS is better featured for what you’d want to do with it. In my particular case, for a long time I’ve been looking for a great digital writing experience and everything I’ve tried (every stylus on iPad they make, Surface Pro 3, etc) have been “okay” at best.

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So where do I settle on all these new gadgets? Well being a lover of all things new and shiny… I want one of each (okay, just one iPhone will be enough). Each device truly appeals to me in some new ways. I’m not sure I will actually buy all of them as I’m not a millionaire… yet, but it would be nice. Before I depart, one other interesting thing to note in today’s keynote (beyond Microsoft showing up) is that Tim Cook only shows up on stage every 30 to 45 minutes. In the days of Steve Jobs, he ran the show and only briefly let others on. This combined with the Apple Pencil (which again, Steve jobs previously railed against) shows how much Apple as a company has changed since the passing of their former leader. For a company formerly based off a cult of personality, they’re doing a very good job of developing and innovating… and flourishing.