Have Apple lost their way?

It pains me to say this – but I think they have.


I am a true Apple Mac fan – from the ipod, iphone, ipad (mini and maxi), macbook air and my work Imac these represent some amazing bits of kit. even Apple TV is rather cool – although it could be better.

But since Steve Jobs died in October 2011 I think the Company has flat-lined. Last weeks big announcement was a bit of a flop. Colourful iphones and ones with faster processors are hardly the ‘one more thing’ moment Jobs became famous for. It was the big reveal. The groundbreaking stuff.

Apple made the best portable music player of all time. The iPhone when it was launched was groundbreaking. The processing power of my MacBook Air is amazing – I can run my office on something the size of an A4 pad of paper.

But where is the Apple TV screen? Where is the watch? Where is the thing we are all going to have to buy because we have to? It’s simply not there.

Jobs was always going to be a hard act to follow. He was a game changer. He surrounded himself with talented people including the incredibly talented Jony Ives. But they needed his direction and single mindedness.

Apple are suggesting that they have an announcement soon – but it needs to be more than ‘better screen resolution’ or ‘faster processing’. It needs to be a game changer!

In the meantime Samsung continue to make a better phone (the Galaxy S4) and have recently announced a watch!

Is it too late for Apple to rescue themselves? Probably not – but they need to act now!

I definitely want one of those….

Sometimes you come across a gadget that you just must have. It is here. The Pebble. Not a bit of space dust, but a watch for the 21st Century.

This is a stripped down gadget. It doesn’t do a lot, but what it does is rather cool. It relays messages from your iPhone to your wrist, with a vibrating alert. So you don’t have to keep checking your phone!

It connects with bluetooth and always shows a watch face – which is fully customisable. It also does something called fuzzy time – which in English is how we tell the time – “It’s ten to eleven”. I love this…

Since my Nike Fuel Band is broken this looks like a great replacement. The only issue seems to be that I need to go to the USA to get one?

Apple gear of the future

Check out this phone…


This is really cool – and could only be Apple. The design is just amazing – and a precursor to what we now take for granted – clean lines, simplicity and stand-out-from-the-crowd.

But if you look closely you’ll spot the date and the old Apple logo…

This is not available – in fact it was a shelved product that never made the mainstream – titled the Apple Snow White 3 – this was the original “Macphone”. Incredibly this was 1984 – nearly 30 years ago!

As you can see there was the phone part – but also a tablet for writing messages…

Apple have always been at the forefront of technology – but this just shows how far advanced they were – even thirty years ago!

New 3d Mapping is on its way

It wasn’t that long ago when I first used a GPS unit in my car – it was on an old Psion ‘green screen’ hand-held computer. That was 1996, it was clunky but just about operable. Of course GPS is everywhere now – and my golf watch is just brilliant.

We are now used to having an enormous amount of data in our pockets – the iPhone was really a revelation – especially with the map feature. The mapping software is brilliant and I guess I use it most days. It doesn’t matter where you are in the world it finds stuff. Of course we are all used to google maps too – I use these at work (most days) although I find those on Bing to be slightly better. The 3d photographs are generally good – although sometimes the light isn’t great – making some views unusable.

But it looks as though the bar has now been raised by the Apple guys. They have a pathological hatred of Google and have evidently been chipping away at their dominance – after all we can’t have two giants ruling the world?

Apple have suggested that their newest maps will be in 3d. And an example has been released – showing a video fly through of Oslo. It’s amazing! Apparently this has been rendered from a mixture of satellite data, user photographs and some clever algorithms.

You have to watch the video to believe it. This will certainly take mapping imaging to a new level. I can see this being even more useful to me in my day!

Apple iPhone replacement earphones

I once read that the value (in audio terms) of the bundled earphones with your iPod or iPhone equated to the price you paid for them; nothing. I have never found the little white packaged buds to be too bad, until a week ago.

As Best Buy enters the last few weeks of it’s short life there have been a few bargains. But one was that they were offering 50% off earphones. Amazingly I managed to pick a pair of Etymotic earphones up for £67.50 – half of their retail price! These are the Rolls Royce of earphones.

They are brilliant – especially as you can download an App from the Apple iTunes store – called awareness – it uses the microphone in the earphone wire to ‘listen out’ for whats going on around you – and if it hears something it interrupts the music… very clever…

The sound is really good, but partly because the block everything out – they fit like a glove. You can have some further earpieces made (for about £75!) which are made just for you – just like the rock starts have. I’m not sure whether I am ready for that sort of expenditure yet. I’m impressed though with the sound quality.

Whether I would have paid £135 for them .. I’m not so sure!

By Tim Garratt Posted in Business, Nottingham Tagged awareness, Best Buy, earphones, Etymotic, headphones, hi-fi, , ipod, itunes,

The paperless office

It was a few years ago that this phrase was born, a sort of utopian world where you no longer needed a pen and paper. We would speak at computers or type away. It wasn’t something that I could do easily. I like scribbling ideas and notes in my Moleskine books.

Latterly I had settled on a squared book, which contained pages of sketches, notes, to-do lists and minutes of meetings. It was a great aide-memoire.

But I have seen the light. And gone paperless (well almost).

I have had an iPad for some time (actually since the day they were launched) – but a few weeks ago, I got an iPad2 – and swapped my old machine with a colleague. I found that I wasn’t using the 3G capabilities – and he wanted that facility.

The new bit of kit spurred me into action and I decided to see if I could manage without my notebook. And since 10th October I haven’t scribbled anything in it. It is partly because I have discovered Evernote – which is a free App – and one that synchronises with my iPad, macbook air, iPhone and iMac. It is really clever – it lets me clip things to it – web addresses, PDF files and the like. All of my projects are in one place. I can add to notes and they are sorted by project.

Alongside this I am using DropBox and Iprocrastinate for my to-do list and for sharing documents respectively.

It was interesting to be at a clients office last week – and be able to discuss some land with him – by showing him a crystal clear OS map on my iPad – rather than one of my sketches! Of course, I could have printed the plan off, but I didn’t know I was going to be discussing this particular matter when I went to see him. As I build up the notes and database, I can see this method of working becoming more useful.

And just in case, for the moment, I am carrying my notebook around… I wonder what a psychiatrist would make of that! Safety Net?

When Apple goes bad

Most people know that I am a huge fan of Apple. I have the full range of kit, an iMac, Macbook Air, ipad2, iPod, apple TV, iphone4 etc. I like it because it works. And having had years of staring at Microsoft egg-timers it was a refreshing change to plug and play!

The new iCloud?

The new iOS launched last week was going to be really interesting as it shifts much of the connectivity up onto the Apple Cloud and thus allows you to share everything you have between devices. On the face of it this sounds great (although I have used idisk for a couple of years quite successfully – and that is to become defunct next year).

But the transition has not all been good. I can forgive the long download times, because what Apple do most of the time is not provide sticky plasters – but rather the whole programme refreshed.

But in my move to the iCloud (I have an Apple Mac account) I must have pressed the wrong button. I allowed ical (the electronic diary) to merge with my work (outlook) diary. This it turns out was a mistake. Over the next few hours my work diary was reduced to blank pages. My ical is now beautifully full – and looks ugh prettier than the Microsoft system.

This is great – except that my office uses Microsoft. My PA books my appointments on her PC.

This morning that has all changed. I spent a frustrating two hours yesterday trying to undo the damage, but alas, you can’t go backwards. My guess is that Apple are just trying to educe Microsoft’s hold…

The technical forums are full of questions, but have no answers!

Sometimes Apple can be just a little bit frustrating…

Technology – in you we rely

This week Blackberry has hit the news, but not in a good way. They have been having major connection issues with users left without email or browsing. And this spread all over the world. Thankfully we are iPhone users, so we were / are feeling very pleased with ourselves.

I am a keen advocate of the use of technology in business. I know that sometimes this ‘always on’ stuff can be a bit of a distraction. But I hope it means that we can offer a better and faster service to clients. It seems incredible sometimes to step back and realise what we are capable of. From taking digital images, dictating digitally, producing professional looking documents – from home, the office or a train. In my case this blog is being written in a hotel room on the Isle of Wight!

In simple, we have become completely reliant on our tech-toys. Who could really live without a mobile telephone now? I can’t imagine life without Google. The information you can draw upon, in seconds, is mind blowing. In my professional life it is amazing how we have progressed in such a short space of time.

But all of this goodness comes with a downside. When the internet fails – or the Blackberry world falls apart – we are stumped. People flood twitter with their frustrations! They stop functioning…

It isn’t until things go wrong that we stop to think how reliant we have become. In my office if we lose our email for a few hours, people start swearing and asking (demanding?) to know when it is going to be fixed. Appendages feel like they have been removed!

In God we may have trusted before, but I think it is the technology is our new God? Let us pray.

Passwords – another warning

It was last November that I blogged about a Nottingham firm of agents who had their database hacked and the entire list of their visitors details dropped on the internet – you can read about it here.

A new app in the Apple store was pulled yesterday by Apple. It was Daniel Amitay, who created an app called Big Brother Camera Security, and added an iPhone-style four-digit passcode access to his program. He then got the program to report the passwords back to him! He was staggered to discover how many of them use codes that are easy to recall, but also very easy to guess. His program recorded the passwords anonymously! Apple took a dim view and stripped him of a place on the shelf in their shop.

You will see from the graph the most commonly used numbers Daniel found! The last one is interesting – it seems that many of the users perhaps use their birth years as a password?

The problem we all have is that we are all being asked for passwords for all manner of things; your phone, computer, credit card pin and the list goes on. And how do you remember them all? Some need to have numbers in and some are specific lengths. Writing them down isn’t particularly helpful. So we do all tend to use the same or a similar set of passwords. As has been demonstrated here – this could be dangerous since you have no idea who is collecting them or how secure the storage is..

We have all been warned again – if you use 1234 as your password please take your seat in the silly corner…

It just works?

It’s always an interesting time of year when Steve Jobs takes to the stage in San Francisco at the WWDC. Previously announcements have included the iphone and ipad. But this weeks was different – it was about the software.

There are always some fascinating statistics during a keynote and this year was no exception…

The market is shifting; Apple grew its revenues by 28% in the year – against PC sales falling by 1%. Apple now has 44% of the phone market – with 200 million devices in circulation worldwide. The ipad has been a massive success – selling 25 million units in 14 months! And itunes is now the largest music store on the planet – selling 15 billion songs since it started. There are now 425,000 Apps for sale in the AppStore – and 14 billion have been downloaded…

But Steve Jobs kept coming back to his favourite phrase, “it just works”. And this is true – that is why I became a mac fan – you don’t have to spend hours searching for ‘driver discs’ – the system just works. You plug something in and it knows what it is.

The real star of the keynote was icloud – which is clearly the way forward. In essence you are now going to be able to have copied of all of your documents held on the cloud – and automatically synced to all of your devices – automatically. For me this will be brilliant. I already use the idisk facility offered by mobileme, but the new system looks brilliant and much more user friendly. Whats more its going to be free.

The question will be whether I sign up for the new itunes service which will look through your itunes library for all fo your ripped music and then ‘convert it’ into itunes music for downloading and synchronising with all of your devices. I am waiting for details of this, but this looks to be an interesting move…