Apple Watch Wish List

Next Monday Apple will unveil more details about the Apple Watch. The event in Autumn 2014 revealed the Watch's existence, with a ship date of early 2015, but was short on some of the details. We know there will be a number of editions of the Watch and the price will start at $349, but we do not know the full price range and many of the features of the Watch are a mystery. 

Here is what I will be looking out for:

1/ battery life: this will be a key element as I would expect the Watch to last a full day. Anything less will be irritating as you will need to remove it in the middle. The idea of topping up your watch in your car or at work might put people off. We really hope Apple can stretch the battery in the Watch to a reasonable span, such as 12 hrs or more. 

2/ health: it would be wonderful to think that the Watch would track heart rate and blood sugars-  I know this is almost impossible. But as a diabetic I would like to think that the Watch could communicate with other gadgets for health and make health info a more regular part of life, not something you need to find out at your doctor's surgery. Blood pressure will be possible with the sensors, so I will be watching with interest. I will be disappointed if it simply also tracks steps and distance, the same as any other Nike-type monitor. 

3/ connection to iPhone and Mac: how are we going to load apps and sync info to the Watch (music etc). I still am not a fan of the way this is organised in iTunes- installing and arranging apps in the iTunes window is fiddly at best. I hope Apple have a great way to organise your content for the Watch. 

4/  tactile communication: the ability to send a "buzz" your Apple Watch friends is great. I love the idea of this way to communicate- more than text or email. It is a physical way to communicate and this will be catchy. It also works for routines- the Watch will vibrate if you have not stood up in a while- good for those of us looking after bad backs! Apple seem to have thought through the personal side of the Watch, and the ability to vibrate on your wrist is far more immediate and intimate than a buzzing iPhone. This will be an interesting one to keep an eye on as it could develop into a whole new, personal, way to communicate. 

5/ security: the Watch strikes me as the new thing too steal, and so I will be interested to see if Apple have thought this through. The iPhone is now a nightmare for a thief as the user can use Find My iPhone and can lock/wipe the device. We hope that the Watch, so publicly visible on a wrist, has these types of features and more.  

6/ Apple Pay: we expect Tim Cook to give an update on the new payment system, Apple Pay.  Hopefully he will announce that it is coming to Europe and we can't wait for it to arrive here. It will be a fantastic way to pay without having too pull out our cards at checkouts

7/ price: this thing won't be cheap! The starting price point of €349 is for the most basic version, but we expect the range to be big, and into the thousands. The more limited edition Watch, with gold, is likely to have an eye watering price to match. It is also likely that most people will be spending around $400-500 after they have selected a better strap or gone for a slightly better face.

8/ sizes: the Watch comes in a 38mm or 42mm size and I hope that Apple do not market this as a "ladies and gents" versions. I really hope the point of the sizes will be personal use and not gender based. If you look at a traditional jewellery store, the smaller watches are for women and the larger faces for men.  This irritates me and hope that Apple stick to breaking this type of gender-based stereotype. It would be nice to see the faces as a personal choice, the same with the straps. 

9/ don't expect this in your local shop: the Watch is likely to be an Apple-only purchase, so for Ireland it will be bought on the Apple online store. I do not believe that they will supply the Watch to third-party retailers, at least not at the beginning. Given the number of faces and straps available, this is a custom-build, so online shopping makes more sense. But there again not being able to hold or touch a Watch in Ireland before purchasing could be a  problem. Strong demand at the start will mean that Apple won't care about this, but expect to see Apple Watches in stores in a few years time as the product matures.

10/ this is the new iPod: the iPod range has not been updated in a few years and this is likely to continue. The Watch, along with Bluetooth headsets, is likely to be the new iPod. 

11/ what does the Digital Crown do?? The dial on the side of the Watch has not been discussed in detail. Look out for more news on this on Monday. Tim Cook did not refer to its purpose in the Autumn release.

12 surprise: Apple almost certainly held back on revealing significant functions of the Watch, so that this is revealed closer to the launch date. This means that competitors do not have time to try to copy its features. Expect a few show-stopper features to be revealed next week. 

We look forward to learning more on Monday. 

Simon Spence/2015

ClubMac- Dublin Mac User Group

Many thanks to ClubMac for inviting me along to speak to their meeting yesterday.  ClubMac is a Dublin Mac user group and provides s great forum for people to gather to discuss all things Apple. They hold regular news update and Q & A slots, for members to ask technical questions, and then have keynote presentations from invited guests. 

My own topic was publishing books on the iBooks Store, something I have done for a few years now with my children book series, Early Myths

I received a very friendly welcome and I would recommend the group to anyone starting out with a Mac who would like an opportunity to meet fellow users to learn more. Thanks to Tom and his colleagues for a very enjoyable evening. 

For more information check out the ClubMac website: www.clubmac.ie

Apple's New Data Centre

Great to see such a huge investment in Ireland. This carries on a long relationship between Apple and Ireland with the company having a long history in Cork. 

In the 80s and 90s Apple manufactured Macs in Cork, such as the PowerMac. In recent years they based their European call centre there. 

[Link to Irish Times story]

Apple Watch: All to be Revealed

So many aspects of the Apple Watch are yet to be revealed.  We expect to see Apple launch the watch at a special event in April where we will finally find out more about the capabilities of the new devices. Items such as what the digital crown does, the health features, and many of the built in apps are yet to be discussed in depth by Apple.

There is also the battery life- likely to be a breakthrough for this new market, but also likely to be widely criticised in the press. The Watch wilt meet expectations in this area, as the expectations are too high.

My own personal interest will be in the health apps, and whether this will benefit a Type 1 diabetic such as myself.  It is possible that the Watch will sync with blood-testing devices to help diabetics control blood-sugar levels, something truly revolutionary for diabetics.  The health apps will also track steps, distances etc and begin to help in your lifestyle. A Watch vibrating if you have not moved from your desk in an hour will certainly add a helpful prompt in our daily lives, and possibly for the better. Many of us need a reminder!

Simon Spence/2015

New iTunes-Beats Streamng Service Revealed

Not sure we learn a lot from this article by 9to5Mac but if true it will be good to see Apple compete head on with Spotify. The one interesting aspect will be the price point. $7.99 per month is still quite a commitment for many users, as it is close to buying an album each month, something which will not attract the majority of users. The speculation on a lower point of $5 would seem tone far more attractive. 

The rest of the article seems to be as informed as educated guess-work: Beats bring integrated into iTunes, new employees clashing with existing employees, slight delay in expected launch date? All a bit standard. 

[Article Link]

Simon Spence/2015

Google Dominance in Search

interesting results from StatCounter. Apple have chipped away at Google in some forms of search by introducing Maps and pushing Siri, but overall Google remain as dominant as ever in web search. 

The one thing which would make a huge difference- if Apple changed the default search provider in iOS and OS X. But the key here is that Google pay Apple for this position and any switch would be hit users. If Yahoo or Bing got their act together and provided a noticeably better service, then I think Apple would have no problem in switching. But right now moving away from Google would make a user's experience on an Apple device worse. That's why Apple have not moved- not any sense of loyalty to Google. 

[Article link via Daring Fireball]

Simon Spence/2015

Category Changes: the Possibility of a Revised MacBook Air

The recent rumour about Apple revising the MacBook Air leads to the question–how powerful should a low end laptop be? In the 00's, Apple's category division was simple– PowerBook laptops were for professionals and iBook laptops suited home users.

 

In more recent times, the introduction of the MacBook Air followed a similar path, with the original version being quite underpowered compared to its professional counterpart. But for Apple, the problem was cost.  The Air came with a higher price than the iBook and this left it stranded between the two categories. The chip in the original MacBook Air was very slow in comparison to the professional line-up.  But as the MacBook Air settled down, Apple built in better chips, recently an I5 or i7, and the performance of this laptop began to reach above threshold required by the average user.  We have recommended MacBook Airs into many businesses, where we would not have looked at an iBook ten years ago.  

Therefore the waters have narrowed between the pro and consumer laptop families and this is something we welcomed because it gives a wider choice where business users don't dismiss the lower range. In fact the old category division of professional/consumer no longer applies. Today the choice between MacBook Air vs Pro lies primarily in screen size, plus variations on graphics power and chip speed. 

We hope that this is not a position which Apple reverses in the future, by aiming any new MacBook Air towards the lower end and widening the gap between these two sections. We think the continuity between Air and Pro is good for buyers and the decision comes down to lifestyle choice, such as weight, design, and form, ahead of a blunter choice of money and speed.

Simon Spence/2015

Three Reasons Why Tim Cook is Apple's Greatest CEO

I have been impressed by Tim Cook, long before he took over from Steve Jobs as CEO at Apple, In fact when we look back at his seventeen years at Apple, Cook has been responsible for much of the success.

Nuts and Bolts: When Cook arrived at Apple in 1998, the company's supply-chain was a mess. It was Cook who worked on their supplier list and reforming how the company purchased components. One of the major challenges for a company such as Blackberry and Samsung in 2015 is how Apple have locked up the supply of essential components. Take the Touch ID fingerprint sensor on the iPhone and iPad; you can be sure that Samsung would like to have something equal to Touch ID, but they have locked in many of the parts required, making it hard for competitors to compete. Others have to settle to second best.

Focus: Steve Jobs mentioned this as a reason for Apple's revival on many occasions, but Tim Cook is the essence of focus. One of the ways that Apple makes such huge profits from their large revenue is that Cook has led the drive to eliminate waste and streamline expenditure. The company is notorious for driving a hard bargain with suppliers and his focus on detail means that Apple are not left with stockpiles of old products. Apple's supply chain is lean, something which is frequently mentioned at the financial analysts call at the end of each quarter. In the 90's, Apple were left with old Macs in the chain, most of which they could not sell. Today Apple is lean and supply is normally constrained, much to the frustration of many would-be buyers! Ask Amazon about being left with $170m Fire phones or Blackberry about their $1bn write-down. Apple tend to hit the 6 week mark on inventory- always selling manufactured products in that timeframe.

Leadership: although this will probably be proved one way or another over the next few years, Cook appears to have a great touch in placing people in the right posts. The press will quote John Browett who came from Dixons to head up Apple Retail; and then left within a few months. But most of the appointments have been good- with Cook's focus on trusting long-term Apple employees such as Craig Federighi, Jonny Ive and Eddie Cue. Cook is a team player, less interested in leading from the front, which was a trademark of Jobs' early years as Apple's CEO. Jobs' led the team-building towards the end of his leadership and Cook has embraced this role. He introduces keynotes at Apple events, but is happy to hand over to is team to make of the big announcements.

So when it comes to Apple's record breaking results, they can be traced back to the early days of Tim Cook at Apple and how he reformed Apple's supply chain and partner relationships, a model which has been the bedrock to the company's success in recent years.

Simon Spence/2015

Tomorrow- Apple reports Q1 results

Apple will announce its results for Q1 2015 tomorrow and there will be a number of items we will be looking out for:

1/ iPhone numbers: we expect these to be big and likely to set a record. Q1 covers the Christmas period and so sales of iPhone always hit a high watermark in this part of the year. But the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus have been a runaway success so we expect to see all-time records for the iPhone.

2/ Apple Watch: we are unlikely to get a launch date tomorrow- this will probably come later in March. But we will be watching out for hints from Cook as to which part of the next quarter they are looking to. 

3/ iPad: iPad sales have flattened and so it will be interesting to see what happened in the Christmas market. Did the iPad Air 2 help to boost numbers or are people waiting for the next big thing in the segment before upgrading? The iPad Air 2 was not a huge change from the first iPad Air and nor was the new iPad mini that different to the previous model. We expect relatively flat numbers and for the media to over exaggerate the "deflation of the iPad bubble."

4/ iPod numbers- watch these dwindle. It has been nearly two and a half years since Apple revised this segment and do you know anyone who bought one as a present this Christmas?? The iPod feels like Apple history.

5/ Mac figures on the rise: these have been rising at a strong and steady pace in recent years and we expect this to continue. The new MacBooks Pros and Airs along with the new retina Display iMacs mean that this should be a strong segment in Q1. 

Simon Spence/2015

Apple Beta of 10.10.2

Apple have released the fifth version of the 10.10.2 beta to developers, with a focus on WiFi and Mail.

We have held off giving our full recommendation to Yosemite until now due to the WiFi bug, but hopefully this next update will mean that 10.10 becomes a more stable OS. 

[AppleInsider Link]

Simon Spence/2015

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