Apple you are starting to worry me !


Mountain Lion, IOS 6, Retina MacBook Pro – impressive line up of new tech and thats just the stuff thats been announced so far. However, I feel a dark undertone churning away in the Apple marketing department, why you ask ? Well lets take a look at some of the new tech.

IOS 6 – Ok, I am not going to list out all the features (especially as I am under NDA), but I can’t help but think Apple is starting to piss off upset its consumer base by limiting the features which can be deployed to legacy devices. So, FaceTime over cellular ? I understand why this is not enabled on the 3GS in IOS 6 (yes it’s still selling) and lets face it no one wants to see a blurry sweaty palm, but not enabling on the iPhone 4, really ? Hardware restrictions maybe ? Nope, the Jailbreak community has had FaceTime over cellular for sometime which works just fine. Creating a personal hotspot to an iPod touch can work – so why ? Apple wants you to buy an iPhone 4S even tho technically there is no good reason why the iPhone 4 users can’t have it !. FaceTime is nothing more fancy than a video call, to which many 3G carriers have offered in the past with much earlier tech which worked in a fashion.

Whilst on the subject of IOS 6, Maps – come on Apple, lets face it Google rocks here !

No iPad 1 support, but surely if the 3GS can run it … Apple says NO !. Siri on iPad 2 .. Apple says NO !, so we have to ditch all the barely 1 year old tech to get the latest IOS offering – Apple says YES !. Ok, it could be worse, I could be a poor schmuck Windows Phone 7 (or is it Windows 7 Phone ?) user and feel like I have been crapped on from a great height to find out no Windows 8 update – ever !, or I could be an Android user who is still waiting for my carrier to test/validate/bloatware the rom images which may never come. So to be fair, Apple has until recently provided pretty good support and has mass take-up of new IOS versions due to the simple upgrade path.

Retina MacBook Pro – love this machine, looks awesome and I had that initial I want it feeling, but then I started to think. Non upgradable RAM & SSD (well as far as I know) ?, Non user replaceable battery, No optical drive, No ethernet port. Ok maybe the last few can be overcome by purchasing via add ons, but anyone who has ever owned a MacBook has I am sure replaced a battery, upgraded the RAM and/or Hard Drive – as time goes on we realise we need more space or better performance. However, we all know that failure exists and these things can go wrong and have to be replaced to avoid writing off a £2k laptop ! So what happens in 2-3 years (if I don’t have AppleCare) and the RAM goes bad ? Its no longer possible to remove and replace, SSD ? Battery ? – are we to toss these units away once the warranty expires and purchase the new generation of Mac laptop ?.

The iPad I know is again another device to which you have to make the choice up front about the spec before purchasing i.e 16/32/64GB etc and if the RAM fails you are in the same boat, but where does this path lead us, where are the days of people understanding how these machines actually work, what RAM and disks are or should we be blissfully unaware of what hardware components lie inside and just enjoy the tech ?

Ok, I am probably starting to sound like an old fart who nostalgically nurtures his 6 year old 17″ MacBook Pro – but heck I can replace the battery when it swells up, I can swap out the RAM if it goes bad, I can increase the HDD capacity if I want. I do worry Apple are taking this future of locking the user out from the Hardware and enforcing Software limitations to a place which is only going to leave a sour taste and possibly push some of it’s consumer base away.

Expanding Apple Battery

So around 2-3 months ago I started to notice my Apple MacBook Pro 17″ battery was once again starting to show signs of swelling. I originally purchased my MacBook Pro 17″ around late 2006 (Oct 2006) when the first battery started to warp. So I duly contacted Apple who were at that time (Nov 2010) offering a free replacement/recall of batteries which showed signs of swelling. I requested a ‘Do-It-Yourself repair’ to which Apple sent me a replacement Battery, Lithium Ion, 68W including packaging to return the defective part (otherwise a £70 fee would be charged).

The whole process was a pleasure from start to end, a courteous telephone conversation with an Apple AppleCare rep, quick response and a speedy dispatch of the replacement part – all rectified in a few days. So you can imagine when I started to see a repeat issue with my replacement Apple part, I thought it’s ok I will give Apple a call and report this problem again as they were super helpful last time and due to the fact they advised previously that this was not correct behaviour and not an intended design feature they would quickly resolve it.

So I started by checking the health of the battery which showed 108 Cycles which I don’t find excessive (Apple quote 400-500 Cycles for the life of a battery). I gave Apple a call who immediately refused to correct the issue as they stated the recall programme was now closed. I explained this issue had occurred again which was exactly what had happened last time, pointed them to the previous repair case number and numerous issues people had reported online about this problem. Again Apple refused to engage in resolving the problem stating that all batteries fail and that I would need to purchase a new battery as this was ‘wear and tear’.

I was completely bemused at this point, there was Apple back in 2010 apologising and falling over themselves to rectify clearly a defective product – but 2 years later Apple flatly refusing to entertain a replacement citing this was a purely a ‘wear and tear’ issue !. Needless to say I have now since purchased a new battery, but not an official Apple one as I felt that another supplier could not do any worse than the Apple battery had performed. I may find that this battery goes the same way the official battery, but for almost half the price I can afford to replace the battery twice for the cost of the official one.

I have taken some images tonight of the battery which was removed from the Mac around a 6 weeks ago which has somewhat expanded since removal – but laughably still contains a charge !

So for those with an expanding battery issue, time to fork out for another one as its doubtful Apple will anytime soon start recalling these batteries again. I am left wondering what will happen when this ‘wear and tear’ issue occurs to those with newer Unibody Mac’s to which the battery is not intended to be replaced by end users and which Apple does not support end user replacement either ?

Pebble: E-Paper Watch for iPhone and Android

As some of you may already know I tend to listen to Podcasts on the way to and from work (40 mins e/w) when I heard about this new watch. Pebble: E-Paper Watch for iPhone and Andriod. Pebble looks to be huge, currently as a Kickstarter project here the goal was to reach $100,000 but is currently (at time of writing) upto a whopping $8,944,369 with nearly 60,000 backers !

So what is this watch ? Well basically its a smart watch which contains an ARM CPU internally, runs for approx 7 days on a full charge and contains an E-Ink display, like the ones you find on a Kindle reader and connects to either your iPhone or Andriod smartphone via Bluetooth. Not only do these watches look stunning but the ability to customise them and deliver new content via an iPhone app or SDK is what I found really attractive. So if you want to get this years hottest new IOS/Android gadget – you better pledge.

The project is to run for another 11 days after which the watch will be fully funded and will no doubt be going into production. it is expected backers will receive their watch(es) at about September this year. So what are you waiting for, get your Pebble pledges in now before the clock stops ticking ! (sorry couldn’t help myself).

 

$15 or a free bumper ?

So as you may recall back in the summer of 2010 there was much-a-do about the iPhone 4’s radical antenna design. This led to people complaining of dropped calls and the much widely reported claim of the Death Grip.

Antennagate was born and a class action suit was brought against Apple for the iPhone 4 antenna reception problems which has now reached a settlement. So what was the settlement ? Well a preliminary approval grants U.S. residents who bought the phone can either get $15 in cash or a bumper case from Apple.

Natalie Harrison (Apple’s Director of iPhone Public Relations) has said “This settlement relates to a small number of customers who indicated they experienced antenna or reception issues with their iPhone 4 and didn’t want to take advantage of a free case from Apple while it was being offered in 2010.”

So if you got a free bumper case for your newly purchased iPhone 4 in 2010, you won’t be getting another free one, or the $15, according to Harrison. This settlement will only involve those iPhone 4 buyers who didn’t want a free bumper case, nor did they want to return an iPhone 4 for a full refund.

So if you want to make a claim head on over to www.iPhone4Settlement.com (once live) to request your bumper or $

I am sorry I don’t know how to do that !

Ok, so finally I have the iPhone 4S as O2 finally decided to offer via the website !.

As some of you already know I have been in hospital for a bit and my contract renewal was slap bang during my stay (I didn’t fancy my chances of getting it delivered there). So I placed my order on 19th Nov and received my text message advising the iPhone 4S was out if stock and it could take 3-4 weeks to supply. I kinda expected a delay due to the demand for the 4S.

So to my surprise I got a text on the 20th to advise delivery on the 21st :O wow !

So now I have said device what’s my thoughts, well it’s good and it is a much needed upgrade of my flagging 3GS and Siri is a nice feature but one of those after a few mins gets a bit old hat. Sure it’s a neat bit of technology and I am sure once Siri is out of beta and learns more new tricks it will be a much more useful feature. However for now I am a bit disappointed, sure I can dictate a text but not a tweet even tho IOS 5 has Twitter integration built in and API’s. Sure I can ask Siri to play my music, search a website, add an appointment to my calendar even set a geo-fence reminder – but you have to make sure Siri gets your request clearly otherwise you will get “I am sorry I dont know about….”

Ok I am probably being a bit tough on Siri, and whats with the male UK voice ? Why not female (without having to switch to US mode). I think once I can get Siri to locate where the nearest Pub/Indian/Chinese is in my country my use of Siri will be much more heavily utilized 😉

 

O2 – I will wait, thank you !

So, the iPhone 4S is almost upon us and finally O2 announce their tariffs. But wait I have to wait outside an O2 shop to get one ??? – nah I’m not that desperate. I really hate queuing for anything, especially outside a mobile phone shop.

So I get the email from O2 saying we are looking after our loyal customers and we get 1st dibs – but only from an O2 store ? So what about all the people they sold to online ?

So given that I actually have to go to work to earn the money to pay the contract O2 – I will just wait until you offer it online, until then I will stay on my unlimited data plan.

Boooo !!