Applesauce: All Things Apple – September 30, 2012
I prefer the iPhone 5. There, I said it, and Iām not alone.
I also prefer choice. For me, I choose the iPhone. As much fun as it is for tech nerds to constantly fiddle with their devices in the never-ending quest to get them just right, I would rather spend my time actually being productive than troubleshooting or fiddling with my smartphoneās home screen. Iād rather know what Iām getting every time, buy into a proven ecosystem, and let the phone work for me, not vice versa.
Iām sure no one is surprised to read this on a blog called āApplesauce,ā but I feel itās important to state at the onset.
However, when complaints grow about a new product, as often happens, I try to keep a level head, to understand what the real hubbub is about.
Which is all a needless preamble to the following thoughts:
Apple is coming under some very real fire this week for a few issues with the iPhone 5. Many are complaining about the battery life being worse than advertised, and some are even grading iOS 6 lower than the previous iOS 5. Thereās also the whole stink about the new cord and new Maps, so letās start there:
I donāt understand some of the fuss about Appleās Lightening connector and Maps app.
I wrote an overly long piece about Maps last week, which you can read here, but suffice to say, Apple released a pretty terrible product, but itās not much worse than Googleās.
About that Lightening connector:
Iāve been reading different articles and listening to podcasts in the first full week of iPhone 5 availability, and I have to say, I donāt get what the fuss is about.
For instance, on this weekās episode of MacBreak Weekly, Leo Laporte (President of the Internet) lamented about having to buy all new cords to replace his existing 30-pin cords.
Iāve been listening to Leo for several years now and think his commentary is often spot on, but I think his thoughts on Appleās new 8-pin connector might be blown a little out of proportion.
Buying new cords sucks, sure. Yet, weāre almost always stuck buying new cords anytime we buy a new device. The died-in-the-wool geeks know where to get cheap cables, of course, so picking up a new HDMI for that new TV in the bedroom isnāt an expensive hassle. Itās just a matter of waiting for the package to arrive. Likewise, any auxiliary cords or adaptors can be easily picked up at a nominal fee, but they often need to be picked up regardless.
Itās a safe bet that most Apple fans and iPhone users have at least three 30-pin cords in their possession. If they didnāt buy them as replacements when the original cord which shipped with the phone, pad or pod went missing or was destroyed by a lovable family pet, they were acquired whenever they purchased a new device.
These cords have either been accumulated overtime or purchased as needed.
Wonāt we one day get to the point where we own enough Lightening cords and accessories? Many of these people will no doubt buy a new iPad, giving them another Lightening cord. New iPod Touch? New cord. New iPhone 5S next year? New cord. Want one for your office? $20 and youāve got a new cord. In a matter of a year, youāve got at least another 3 lightening cords.
This change is just part of the evolution of the iPhone.
Did these people really expect Apple to short change their experience just so they wouldnāt ever have to spend another $20 on a cord? If Apple had stuck with the 30-pins for another year or two, Iād wager a guess that a number of users would have to buy new cords regardless just to replace their aging 4 to 5 year old accessories.
In truth, Iāve yet to find a hard, fast, specific reason from Cook, Mansfield or Schiller as to why Apple decided to switch to this new standard.
āIt features an all-digital, eight-signal design thatās significantly more durable than the 30-pin connector.ā
So we know itās smaller, and Apple says itās more digital and durable.
Boy, did Apple ever set Samsung up with that āDigitalā talk.
Love āem or hate āem, Apple canāt be faulted with passing off crap as accessories. For example, reviews have mostly been very positive about the new EarPods which Apple tosses in for free. Replacement EarPods are only $30 and, for the money, they sound great and fit even better.
Earlier this year, Ken Shirriff got all iFixit on the iPhoneās charger and found that, while expensive, Apple didnāt skimp on the components when building this thing, saying, āApple’s iPhone charger crams a lot of technology into a small space. Apple went to extra effort to provide higher quality and safety than other name-brand chargers, but this quality comes at a high cost.ā
Apple even continued to fidget with their 1-year old iPad 2 to make the processor smaller, more efficient and even cheaper to make, even as they were pushing their latest and greatest third-gen iPad.
Point is, based on their track record, this new Lightening thing is likely much better than the 9-year old 30-pin style.
I suspect they havenāt said exactly how this thing is better because they havenāt really had to yet. I suspect theyāre waiting until they really need to explain themselves, perhaps during some upcoming product announcement. Maybe Lightening will really come into its own in an upcoming feature on the iPad Mini?
And perhaps, just perhaps, the only reason Apple needs to give us right now is that in order to make the phone smaller and lighter, they just had to change things up. In order to pack in that crazy powerful A6 and zippy LTE, they needed a smaller port.
Isnāt that a sufficient reason for now?
Some people will never be satisfied.
By all the evidence given to us, Apple appears to have worked their butts into the ground to deliver this beautiful smartphone to the masses and yet, people are still complaining.
Leaving alone the fact that we really shouldnāt be complaining about the fact that we have the option to purchase such a sophisticated piece of technology, (my inner-hippie is showing) thereās been some evidence this week that some people on Twitter are complaining about something very peculiar: The lightness of the phone.
Like ice cream, beer or 30 Rock, you can always have too much of a good thing. So, I can see how it might be a little unnerving if Apple ever released a phone as thin as, say, a quarter. Or even a half-dollar.
That might feel a little weird.
After a week of using the iPhone 5, I can say this is the best phone Iāve ever used. For all its changesā the bigger screen, the reduced weightā it just feels comfortable, natural even.
According to Gizmodo, however, some people think the iPhone is too light, and itās putting them off.
I hate to quote tweets in an article. I feel itās cheap and lazy and akin to calling your mother to ask her opinion about something she probably knows nothing about.
Iāll just mention that the comments range from āIt feels cheap,ā to āWorst phone Iāve ever held in my life.ā
It really is a shame that Apple is acting differently from every other phone manufacturer out there by providing their customers with just one cord.
Yes, #thanksapple indeed.
One last thing about that Maps app.
I believe itās a terrible embarrassment to Apple to have released something so bad. However, just as I believe theyāll one day soon explain even further why they switched to Lightening, Maps will one day soon get much better.
Beloved Tech Pundit Andy Ihnatko made the point on the aforementioned MacBreak Weekly episode that he noticed some improvement within the first weekend in the Boston area.
Itās easy to pick on the top dog, and just as they say, the taller they stand, the bigger they fall.
So poking fun at Apple is fine for now, but I canāt help but find it interesting that everyoneās next choice, the product everyone seems to be clamoring for is Google Maps, a product which has seen its own faults and own missteps.
Furthermore, this Maps thing is starting to get a little out of hand, isnāt it?
For instance, Googleās Motorola has begun poking fun at this entire debacle with the Twitter hashtag #iLost.
Itās funny I guess, but as Apple Insiderās Daniel Eran Dilger points out, the address used to supposedly ātrumpā Appleās Map isnāt a real address. A public park in Manhattan sits where 315 E 15th Street is supposed to be, (the address listed in the ad) but as itās a park, this address will never be valid. Whatās more, Dilger points out (and Iāve confirmed on my own phone) that when iOS 6 Maps is used to find this address, it does reveal the park, showing a picture which looks nothing like the one in Motorolaās ad. Dilger also found that, when searching both iOS 5 Google Maps and iOS 6 Apple Maps, using āandā instead of ā&ā when looking for intersections can throw off either application, and switching to the ampersand yielded the correct result, āWhich is exactly what users in New York would do when searching for an incorrect, ambiguous street address that returned something other than the expected result,ā concludes Dilger.
But the hits, as they say, just keep coming.
After one full week of fiddling with the iPhone 5, many users are beginning to notice a rather unfortunate side effect to their zippy-fast LTE. Perhaps even Apple isnāt immune to the battery sucking power of next-generation wireless technology. Many i5 users have been complaining about shoddy battery life on their brand new phones on the Apple support forums, with many saying their phones will lose as much as 10% of their battery level in an hour when their phones are locked and in standby mode. There are a few fixes being suggested on these forums, such as restoring and setting up the phone as a new device, then restoring from an iCloud backup. Others are suggesting turning off iCloud syncing for the Passbook app. Some are even suggesting turning off many of the iPhoneās critical features, such as location data and push notifications. It should go without saying that turning off features which make the iPhone a powerful productivity tool is an Android-flavored solution rather than an Apple one.
Talking battery can be a tricky conversation to have. With so many variables at play, it can be difficult to assess battery life and what could be affecting it.
Are you in an area where the radios are constantly switching? Do you have a rogue app which is constantly sending data back and forth? Howās your screen brightness?
The folks over at iLounge have performed some exhaustive testing of the i5 and previous phones, performing a sundry of tasks, such as audio playback, cellular data and voice calling. In the end, iLounge wasnāt impressed with the performance of the i5 battery, calling this issue āone of the two biggest issues with the iPhone 5.ā The second issue, of course, is the aforementioned Lightening port. Lightening just canāt get any love, it seems. Maps looks to be a terrible mess in some parts of the world, the backlash from which has even caused Tim Cook to issue his sincerest of apologies and even recommend competitorsā Maps apps. If users arenāt upset about Maps, theyāll likely have something to say about the new Lightening port. In previous years, the iPhone has had at least one minor issue which Apple has had to address. This year, there are 2 main concerns, with a few other, smaller concerns Apple needs to deal with.
So, with these complaints running around, how do Apple users feel about the brand new iOS 6? A new poll by research firm OnDevice suggests that iOS 6 users are less satisfied with their new OS than they were with iOS 5.
It gets worse, Iām afraid.
According to OnDeviceās data, even Android users are more satisfied with versions 4 than iPhone users are of iOS 6. The decline in Appleās satisfaction scores are, however, very slight. Furthermore, it may be much too early to tell. Apple users have been upgrading their devices at a lightening pace, but in the end, itās only been available for 10 days or so. These numbers could go any way, up or down, in the future. According to the data, the average iOS 6 user rates their satisfaction level at a 7.65 on a scale from 1 to 10. iOS 5 satisfaction levels were just a hair higher at 7.75. Android 4 users, on the other hand, rated their satisfaction at an 8.07 on the same scale. Yes, it looks like itās the end of the world as we know it. It will be interesting to see how many of these issues effect sales. There are some credible complaints swelling up from the ground and yet, sales so far appear to be stronger than ever. Do these complaints matter to the every day consumer? Or do consumers and the tech press alike get off on attacking Apple so much that they will continue to buy their products if for no other reason than to make use of clever hashtags on Twitter?
Apple has some real work to do in the future, but I donāt think itās fair to start calling the game just yet. After all, Apple has shown us more often than not that they know how to do great things. These latest misstepsā¦theyāre all new. The scorecard is still unbalanced in Appleās favor, with more wins than losses. Weāll have to see what happens this next year with a few more devices scheduled to arrive.
Image Credit: Photos.com