macOS Mammoth

With Mammoth, we’d like to see a dynamic flexible menu bar that can shrink and grow at will. It reserves more space for windows at the top of your display and hides a giant section of the menu bar that often serves no purpose. Both the right and left sides of the menu bar would collapse into small pill-shaped boxes that float on top of your content rather than being locked to the corners. If an app has more menu bar items, the pill can expand and vice versa. Lots of modern Mac apps that are making their way over from iOS don’t even utilize the menu bar that much… More here.

Excellent concept. It’s the little touches that can mean the most.

Mac OS To-Go. What if?

I started off imagining what iOS would look like in classic Mac OS style. I kicked things off stylizing iOS with the platinum design and ultimately decided to meld it with classic Mac OS user interface elements. The project became a mobile version of Mac OS 9 otherwise known by its codename, Sonata. I chose to call the software “Mac OS 9 To-Go” and wanted to see what it would look like on a 90s PDA/smartphone. It led to the first product, the Newton Phone… More here.

The reason Apple did so well in the mobile world is because the company specifically avoided operating systems that tried to act like their desktop counterparts. Microsoft didn’t work that out and failed, but BlackBerry and Palm did understand. There has never been a ‘computer-like’ mobile OS that worked or was successful.

Is it time for Apple to ditch the lightning cable?

The PolyCharge is an interesting product and one that appears to offer many advantages. It is on Indiegogo so you will have to gauge the risks, but this kind of product is starting to make more sense every day.

Marques published this video recently and got me thinking about the lightning cable that is becoming a royal pain for me these days. My MacBook uses USB-C, my iPad Air uses USB-C, almost every other device I own uses USB-C and my iPhone uses lightning or wireless charging which is sadly currently lacking in terms of speed.

Marques believes that Apple is aiming for only wireless and I guess this is the future, but something tells me we will need to lose the lightning cable before wireless charging is up to snuff to be comparable in terms of practicality.

From typewriter to MacBook: progress…

My daughter bought an old typewriter yesterday to clean up and fix. She loves the idea even though she realises that her Chromebook is a ‘much’ better tool for her writing, but as I lugged it into the boot of my car I realised just how far we have progressed.

It is heavy and by that I mean HEAVY to the point that I almost injured myself carrying a few steps, but it is also impressive in so many ways. From the attention to detail to the unbreakable components (OK it is broken currently) to the snapshot of its time it offers in every single part of it, it is a beautiful object.

And then I happened to place it down next to my MacBook Air and I realised just how far we have come. When I consider what I can do with the MacBook and what I can do with the Typewriter, which is only type very slowly when it is repaired, the leap is simply gigantic!

I realise that this is not a new discovery and that every part of the above is completely obvious, but putting the two next to each other tells a story that ten thousand words would struggle to convey.

Why people do not move from the iPhone?

If you go to this link on your iPhone you can experience what a Samsung Android smartphone feels like to use. It is a clever interactive website that attempts to offer a representation of how it would feel if you decided to move from your iPhone to a Samsung phone.

Android on my iPhone.

The problem for Samsung is that more people move from Android to iOS than the other way around, but it isn’t the case that this statistic is overwhelming. We have to remember that the vast majority of smartphone users have little allegiance to a particular operating system and within that a decent percentage barely understand much beyond the apps they want to use. This is not because of a lack of intelligence, it’s simply because they have better things to do with their lives.

For those of us who have nothing better to do or who use their phones so much that certain things become important there is a long list of reasons why it is hard to move away from the iPhone. Some of these are forced upon us by Apple, in good and bad ways, and some are simply because of the failing of other manufactures.

iMessage is often discussed as the killer iOS feature and rightly so. It is extremely reliable, as simplistically presented as you could wish for and it is divisive. The use of green and blue bubbles causes division immediately by effectively stating that you are either on a secure system that will cost you little to nothing (blue bubble) or you are using the less secure and aged SMS technology which can cost you extra through many mobile operators if you dare to include a picture (green bubble). The superiority of iMessage over SMS is stark and for those of us who have used it for many years the thought of going back to SMS seems crazy. And Apple ensures that iMessage is not useable on any other non-Apple platform.

Privacy is always a hot topic and the perception that iOS is more secure than Android is well known. It is true as it happens, but maybe not to the extremes that some people believe, but it remains one of the major reasons why I use a Mac and not a Windows PC, why I use an iPhone and not an Android phone and why I use an iPad in favour of… do other companies still make tablets?

Support is also very high on my list of reasons why I stick with Apple. This is forced by Apple in a good way because it is a critical differentiation to many other manufacturers. Where would I go if my Android phone broke or my Windows PC? I know people who have been through that process and the difference when compared to Apple’s retail footprint and online support is huge! These tools are important to me and I need them to work 99% of the time, and having efficient options open to me is vital should something go wrong.

Pricing is often thrown at Apple as a negative and on the face of it that appears to be a valid criticism. I don’t like how Apple limits certain memory options on iPhones and iPads to push you to buy the more expensive option (and Apple memory is strangely expensive compared to others) and it is often the case that the base point for Apple products precludes many from ever buying an Apple product. However, take a look at the flagship devices from the likes of Samsung and others, and you will see that the differentiation is not anywhere near as large as you may initially perceive. Also, and this is very important, the longevity of Apple products, particularly Macs, can make the initial cost much more viable. I have mentioned it a few times, but my daughter still uses my iMac from 2010 to write and to browse the internet every single day. Her iPhone is 4 years old, works perfectly, my son’s is 3 years old, has never had a problem, and so the story goes on with only my 2016 iPad suffering a big battery issue. I am convinced that the longevity of Apple products, and the many year support for OS updates, makes them excellent value when compared to the competition.

The ecosystem, which is often cited as a part of the legendary walled garden, is a forced feature from Apple that can be viewed as good or bad. As it has grown over time the number of ecosystem tweaks that bring all of your Apple devices together becomes very hard to break away from. iCloud, unlocking a Mac with an Apple Watch, automatic copy paste from iOS to Mac and vice versa, AirPods switching between devices seamlessly, SMS and iMessages on all devices, automated backups, Apple One which covers all devices for the family and so the list goes on. The amount of fiddling and manual intervention to do the things you would otherwise have to complete multiple times every day is minimal.

Security, along with privacy, is another factor that I would find hard to leave behind. From apps that are checked before publication on the App Store to the plain fact that macOS is attacked much less often than Windows are cleared advantages in this regard. We do not have to deal with updates every few days like Windows and to this day I have never installed an anti-virus solution on any macOS or iOS device I have owned. The downside is a lack of flexibility that Android, for example, can offer, but I genuinely feel that I can do everything I need to on my devices and in a way that offers some peace of mind for good measure.

The Apple Watch can only work with an iPhone and while this is a forced restriction by Apple it likely helps to grow the number of iPhone users. I have used many other smartwatches from the likes of Garmin, Samsung, Fitbit and Huawei, and there is no doubt in my mind that the Apple Watch, as a daily wear smartwatch, is streets ahead of the competition at this time.

Stability also remains high on my list and the reliability of every iPhone, Mac and iPad I have owned has been extremely high. This, alongside, all of the above breeds a very high degree of loyalty simply because they work every day over so many years.

It is not about being an Apple fan boy or having any loyalty to the brand. Apple is a tech company like any other and likely just a capitalist organisation trying to grab as much money as it can, but there are so many reasons why it is a) hard to leave an iPhone because you have gotten used to features Apple does not offer to other platforms, b) hard to leave an iPhone because it is so ridiculously reliable and powerful enough to cope with anything you throw at it and, c) it works with all of your other Apple devices that have formed a protective cloak around it to stop you ever moving to the Android side.

MagicBridge

MagicBridge turns your Magic Keyboard and Magic Trackpad 2 into a one-piece control surface, tidying up your workspace and keeping your trackpad right where you need it to swipe, pinch or tap. Make more magic on your Mac or iPad Pro… More here.

That doesn’t look very comfortable does it and $50 seems rather high. A shame because Twelve South stuff is usually very good.

why windows’ taskbar beats osx’ dock (2011)

It could be argued that I’m doing it wrong, expecting OSX to act like Windows instead of adapting to what OSX offers. For a long while OSX has had exposé, a single button that temporarily resizes and repositions all of your windows (or makes snapshot thumbnails, based on how you think of it) so that they are all visible at once. OSX Lion’s Mission Control furthers that paradigm. While I might be getting old and curmudgeonly, I don’t like exposé as much as Windows’ system, in part because it lacks the “quick bounce back” of alt-tab, where a quick tap of alt-tab brings me back to what I was last working on (Windows has a really good “most recently used” algorithm for tasks, an easy to miss but hugely important detail that Just Works.) More here.

Good stuff by Kirk from 10 years ago. Kind of relates to my Windows rant from yesterday.

The Photos app needs to quit

I am getting this every time I open Photos on my M1 Mac and have tried repairing the library (Option / Command when opening Photos), but it has not helped.

I’m being as light touch as I can because I don’t want to screw up the library, but if any of you have advice that would be greatly appreciated. Photos is fine on my iPhone and iPad.

Bugs in M1 Macs

The new M1 chip is certainly one of the most exciting things to happen in the consumer electronics space in a long time. Though it’s tempting to let our fanfare get the better of us, the M1 does have its fair share of bugs — some more serious than others.

I’ve listed three of the most common bugs with the new Macs that will make you think twice before pulling the trigger… More here. Thanks to Kirk.

I haven’t had any problems yet apart from the AirPods struggling with connecting, but then again they also struggle on my iPhone and iPad as well.