Saturday, December 23, 2017

Apple MacBook, Planned Obsolescence and AirPods

Apple has been in the midst of a long term inter-operability / consolidation of its IOS and MacOS environments. When I first started using my MacBook and converting over from a PC in 2012-2013 there was almost no ability to communicate / transfer between my phone or iPad and my MacBook. I remember being bewildered that there wasn't even an app on MacOS to read Kindle books that I had on my iPad (and even today the MacOS app is a bit wonky).

Today there is some ability to use my MacBook from 2011 alongside my iPad and my iPhone. The key elements of inter operability include:

- Apple Messages works well between the devices. This is probably the biggest single unlock for my MacBook by far
- Apple Photos now work pretty seamlessly between all the devices. After Apple Messenger this is the next biggest "win"
- if you use iCloud you can share across all devices
- Facetime and answering calls works across all devices, depending on whether or not you want to turn it on (can be annoying when your computer "rings" when your iPhone rings)
- Notes works well across all devices and has been getting more powerful with each release (for items like to-do lists, etc...)

The apps on the MacOS still lag far behind those available for the iPhone. I don't know what the long term plan is for this. I know that apps function differently on each environment; common apps like "Bitmoji" work great on my iPhone, kind of OK on my iPad (I have an attached keyboard so it is strange and locks in portrait mode), and not at all on my MacOS (or I haven't really even tried it.

Back in the old days there was a term called "planned obsolescence" which meant that products weren't supposed to have a long life, they were built in a manner that demanded replacement in just a few years to continue the buying cycle. I must say that Apple has been very loyal to my 2011 MacBook in that it still works well and is a proud member of their ecosystem, running the newest programs and kept up to date in their OS cycle. 6+ years is a long, long time for a technology product. At any point they could have accelerated their features so that they weren't backwards compatible and basically made me dump my MacBook for a newer machine, but they didn't. For all the grief Apple gets there is a reason they are among the worlds' most valuable companies.

I recently took the plunge and bought AirPods. I usually am too cheap to invest a lot in accessories but I was frustrated about the blue tooth drops on my existing cheap headphones and noticed people walking around town without headphone wires around their necks.

I heartily recommend buying AirPods. They keep their charge for a long time (you charge the little case they come in which looks like a dental floss packet) and they sound great. The AirPods pair automatically with your Apple device in a seamless manner that (seems to) work every time. I didn't have any problem keeping them in my ear, either. If you pull out one ear bud they automatically pause the music (or podcast) which is great if you are at the checkout line or something like that and they even work well with phone calls - I tried it out while walking in the street outside in a busy area with lots of background noise. You can program the "tap" which allows you to fast forward the music or stop / restart. The AirPods can also be paired with your Apple Watch which can store music - this way you can go outside without your phone at all (although I haven't tried this yet).

The AirPods are around $150 which is steep and they come in a small case. Friends of mine have said that they are afraid of losing them and that is a real worry. But I think that they are worth that risk.

Cross posted at Chicago Boyz

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