Why Apple Why? My thoughts on iTunes 12.4

Yes, it’s time to talk about iTunes. I went on a little bit of a Twitter rant earlier in the week about the problems with iTunes. This topic has been covered very ably by 9to5mac, The Verge, and many other sites. Now I’m going to add my two cents to the mix.

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Above is an image of just one of the many bugs I have encountered with iTunes recently. This bug doesn’t crash iTunes or make it unusable, but it makes Artist view basically unusable and I would like to be able to use that view again. As I tweeted, this problem was around before 12.4 was released.

But the problems with 12.4 are less about bugs than they are design. 12.4 took what was already a lackluster user interface and made it even worse. The sidebar is now permanently displayed again, which is awesome for the Music section of the app. But for Videos, Podcasts, AudioBooks, and literally every other section of iTunes, it is pointless.

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Actually, it is worse than pointless. Because you cannot turn it off and still use all features of the App (you do need it in the Music section), it is actually a nuisence. All it does is waste landscape real estate, and make it harder to keep the app window small and manageable. Above are photos of the nearly empty sidebar for my TV show and Podcast sections of iTunes.

I feel Apple has two options on how to fix this mess. Option 1 is to go along with what everyone else wants and to split iTunes into separate apps like on iOS. Make Apple Music its own app. Make a Videos app, a Podcasts app, and integrate AudioBooks with iBooks like on iOS. For syncing with iOS, Apple already has the trademark for iSync from when other phones synced with Mac OS X. Bring that name back with a new purpose.

Option 2 is the less good option-I feel Option 1 needs to happen sooner or later. Option 2 is to go back to iTunes 12.3’s UI. Make the sidebar optional again. I actually didn’t hate iTunes 12.3 from a UI perspective. It had bugs and issues with performance but the UI was workable for me.

I know none of this is news to people who follow Apple. iTunes has gotten slammed by every tech critic around. And Apple needs to fix it. Fast.

How to save Nintendo in 3 easy steps

  1. Release the NX this year, and make it a killer mobile/home console hybrid that plays Wii U games as well as a new generation of games. Price it at under $250 and make sure the games do not exceed $30 each.
  2. To fund this new console while having money left over, release lots of virtual console games on iOS and Android app stores. Not new games-make new games exclusive to NX. But old games should be sold on other hardware. If I could buy Pokemon Yellow, Crystal, or Emerald on my iPhone, I’d do it in a heartbeat at any price that’s under $25.
  3. That’s it.

Nintendo executives, take my advice. Don’t be stupid like you have been in the past. Once you get smart, you can all enjoy swimming in your money pond like Scrooge McDuck.

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Apple Turns 40

On April 1st 2016, Apple turned 40 years old. And I was thinking about the best way to discuss that on this blog. What I decided was to post videos of the 3 most important product announcements of the last 40 years. Apple’s magic has not just been about their hardware or software, but also how they sell that hardware and software to the general public so effectively. And so here are the 3 most important Apple product announcements:

3: The original iPod – This product changed Apple from a moderately successful computer company into the leading consumer electronics company in the world today. While the iPod is now on its way out (thanks to the number one announcement on this list), it changed the music industry forever and made Apple more than slightly relevant. It made it an industry leader.

2: The Original Mac – Before the Mac, computers were very different. They were pretty elitist. They revolved around command line interfaces. Nobody knew what a mouse was before the first Mac in 1984. The Mac was not the first computer with a mouse, but it was the first one that people could afford. The Mac made computers easy enough to use that all future innovation (including the World Wide Web, desktop video editing, desktop publishing, the list goes on…) would be accessible to everyone, not just the few geeks who could figure things out.

1: The Original iPhone – The iPhone changed everything. Not just for Apple, but for the entire world. Before iPhone, nobody loved their phone. The mobile internet was a joke-totally unusable. Smartphones all had physical keyboards and buttons, and the software wasn’t even close to desktop software. There was no vibrant App community (although that came a year later with iPhone OS 2). Android would not be what it is today without the iPhone. And iPhone changed more than just the tech industry. The video camera on iPhone captured lots of breaking news events that we wouldn’t have known about if someone didn’t record them. Every modern protest movement seemingly revolves around the internet and people using devices like iPhone. So it is easy to say that the iPhone is Apple’s most important announcement yet.

Hey Siri, can you help explain why Apple held an event today?

While the Apple event today was happening, I was really enjoying it. Apple played up its history, showing a video to open the event covering the 40 years of innovation. Apple turns 40 on April 1st, something I totally forgot about. Tim also mentioned that this was the last event ever to be held in their original campus theater, before Apple moves to the spaceship campus in 2017. The section on environmental responsibility was great PR, as was the announcement of CareKit. Also, Apple introduced some nice stuff today. The smaller iPad Pro in particular is a great, albeit overpriced, addition to the iPad lineup. The iPhone SE is shockingly premium, with the full 6S featureset minus 3D Touch and a better FaceTime camera, and was priced more aggressively than expected at $400. The new watch bands are insignificant to me, but the $50 price cut will probably move some more units. And I love tvOS 9.2 with dictation and iCloud Photo Library support.

But then, after just 63 minutes of announcements, Tim Cook abruptly ended the event. And I was left slightly disappointed. No new Mac stuff at all, despite the availability of new processors and a need for USB C to be spread across the MacBook lineup. No significant Apple Watch update. No new iTunes yet, despite the words of Eddy and Craig a few weeks ago. This whole event was low on products-25 minutes of updates and only 35 of announcements does not warrant an event, even a small one. Are we spoiled? Yes, unquestionably. But putting that aside, the event was nice but nothing spectacular. I think it might have been better for Apple to just announce the smaller iPad Pro at WWDC or online.

Before I wrap this post up, I have two more quick complaints about the products announced today. First of all, 16 GB of storage isn’t enough anymore, even on an entry level iPhone. Customers know it, Apple knows it, and it’s really obnoxious. Second, why does the smaller iPad Pro have a protruding camera? Not nice when they charge so much for a case to protect it. Okay, I am now done nitpicking.

Watch the full keynote below!

My Thoughts on the iPhone SE Rumors

I used to be vehemently against the idea of larger smartphones. I thought that a 4 inch display was the perfect size to use in one hand and that really mattered to me. I didn’t think a bigger screen would be better in any way.

Then I bought my iPhone 6. And quickly began to love it. The larger screen does help with many things, including making the keyboard bigger, making watching videos better, and making games easier to control. The small tradeoff in one handed usability was not a big deal as a lot of things were made better with a bigger display.

But now that Apple is (according to multiple rumors) planning to release a new iPhone with a 4 inch display, I am stuck wondering why. I mean, choice is nice, but I don’t think many people would want a smaller phone after using a bigger one for a week. In addition, the new phone isn’t even going to be on par with the iPhone 6S-it won’t have 3D touch, and it won’t have the dramatically improved cameras. Unless you are going to make it great, why make it at all?

I don’t know the answer to that question. What I do know is that I was the target audience for the iPhone SE. I loved my smaller phone. But I was wrong.

Updated 3/7 with most up to date rumored name of product.