Picked up a new toy

Now fibre is impending I picked up a new Apple TV, this one is a 32GB 4K version.

I’ve got a 15MB (on a good day) so until I get my promised 70-80MB I’ll report back on how I get on.

Biggest letdowns of 2017

I’ve shared my favourite things so here are my biggest letdowns.

  • Star Wars Battlefront II : I don’t think I need to highlight the loot crate situation that highlighted EA’s greed to everyone. Yes, this was a big reason but also the first person mode in game felt broken. Confusing customisation and weird UX just made it feel like a rushed game with no love gone into it. I’m glad the community stood up together against EA and although in game purchases are turned off for now it’s still a poorer game than the first Battlefront (which I’m still playing and having fun with).
  • Formula 1 2017 : I love my F1 games and I had high hopes coming off the 2016 version. Well the 2017 version reuses most of the assets and ultimately feels like the same game. The physics and driving still feels good but the graphics just don’t come near to the competition. People looks strange and the constant screen tearing reminds me of a 10 year old game. I’ll pick up when it’s £10, that’s all it’s worth.
  • Sony 4K HDR TV : This was a pricey TV that suffered from lack of support from Sony to keep Android optimised and up to date. Everything felt slow, confusing and too many steps to do anything. The picture was ok but the OS just meant for a bad experience.
  • iOS 11 : So many little niggles for me from a UX and UI perspective. Bugs everywhere and even on an iPhone X it feels sluggish at times. It’s been a bad year for Apple in software and I’m hoping all of the lessons taken from 2017 will improve things in 2018.
  • VW Golf GTE : I wanted to love my new car but now I’m a few months in I really don’t like the VW hybrid implementation. I’m finding that for local miles it’s great, if I have a charge I’ll be good on electric. Unfortunately my job requires doing a lot of motorway driving, this isn’t good for a hybrid. Even with a full battery (around 20 miles) I’m getting 40MPG. On a low battery it can be as low as 25MPG on a long run (200 miles). I really want to love hybrid but for me based on the VW experience I’ll be going all electric with a Tesla Model 3 or petrol for my next car.
  • Sonos Play 1 : Sounds good but for me the implementation ruins the experience. The app is slow to respond and when using Apple Music it gets bogged down if you have a lot of music. Streaming is pretty solid in terms of play time after hitting play within the app and drop outs however. I’ll be looking at selling and getting a HomePod as soon as I can.

Here are my letdowns, what are some of yours?

My favourite things of 2017

Thought I’d share some of my favourite things from 2017. No particular categories just anything that gave me some joy this year.

  • Thor Ragnarok : Up there with The Last Jedi as my favourite film of the year and along with Guardians of the Galaxy one of my favourite Marvel films so far.
  • Star Wars, The Last Jedi : Very polarising film based on public opinion but on second watching it cemented it as one of my favourite Star Wars films. It plays with some of the rules of the universe, has lots of shocking moments and takes old characters in interesting new ways.
  • Stranger Things Season 2 : One of the most original, compelling and well acted TV series of the last 10 years in my opinion. Season 1 was amazing, season 2 took up it up a notch.
  • Nintendo Switch : My gadget of the year, goes everywhere with me. Bought on day 1 of release and played almost every day since. Just wish the older games were out so that I could relive the NES and SNES days.
  • Zelda Breath of the Wild : What can I say, not been this drawn into a game like this since the original uncharted. It feels like being inside something like middle earth and I think I put almost 100 hours into it. I don’t think I’ve ever been this obsessed with a game in my life.
  • GT Sport : Always been a fan of Gran Turismo since the original PlayStation. This new 4K HDR version feels like I’ve come back home. Loads of cars, loads of single player challenges and a cracking online option.
  • Lego BB-8 : Hands down my favourite bit of Lego I’ve done all year and a must for any Star Wars fan.
  • Sphero R2-D2 : If you can pick this up for under £100 then it’s a must, again if you are a Star Wars fan.
  • iPad Pro 10.5″ : Apple have made some good hardware this year but my pick has to be the new iPad Pro. Paired with the Smart Keyboard cover and Pencil it is easily my favourite “computer ” Apple has ever made. As with my Nintendo Switch it goes everywhere with me.
  • LG B7 OLED : Dropping our Sony with Android and grabbing this webOS enabled LG is one of the best decisions I’ve made all year. The quality of OLED blows me away every time I watch it and HDR adds a 3D quality you have to see rather than me try to describe.
  • Apple AirPods: I know they technically didn’t come out this year but that’s when I’ve been using them. Easy to set up, use across devices and design to easily make them my favourite headphones of all time. I still think they look a little funny but I’ll take it over wires dangling and getting caught on things.

So here’s some of my favourite things this year, what are some of yours?

CAN AN IPAD HELP WITH RSI?

I’ve been typing on keyboards for as long as I can remember (ZX Spectrum was my first computer if you are interested!) and it’s all catching up on me as I get older. I have experienced shoulder, hand and wrist pain over the years of working on a computer for 8 hours a day and wanted to share how the iPad has been helping me to manage this.

If you have been following me for a while you will know that I am a big advocate of using an iPad to get your work done and with the incoming iOS 11 update it’s an even more important time to start to look at if you can alter your work habits.

I’ve found using an iPad Pro as my daily machine for writing and as a supplement to my 9-5 machine to really improve how I use a computer and thus having a positive impact on my RSI issues.

THE 9-5

In my day job I am at a standard Dell laptop but supplementing this with my iPad has made a difference to how I’m sat and my posture throughout the day. I use my iPad for all my notes and sketches in the day (I’m in meetings at least 2 hours a day). Using the iPad encourages me to change my position, allows me to stand up and walk around and change my hand position.

WRITING

90% of what I do on this site is produced on the iPad and Apple Pencil. Using this combination allows me to change my sitting position, use the on screen keyboard, the smart keyboard cover and the pencil for navigation – basically it gives me loads of flexibility.

I also find that I enjoy using the pencil for navigation as a way to take a break from typing and walking around with it allows me to give my shoulders a rest.

SO DOES IT ACTUALLY HELP?

Unscientifically for me – yes.

I find that the iPad forces me to change my position and with the pencil on hand to navigate with it gives my wrists a much needed rest. It’s important to point out that regular rests (every 30 mins or so), even if it’s just standing and sitting again is important anyway and having an iPad on hand to use especially in the day job forces me to break my laptop typing and use something else.

Get up, walk around with the iPad and make the most of this amazing technology we have at our fingertips.

Sphero R2-D2: Initial impressions

I’ve had about 2 hours with the Sphero R2-D2 so wanted to share a few of my thoughts on using it so far. (For context I already own the Sphero BB-8 and am using on iOS).

  • The box is beautifully made and the unboxing experience is a step up from BB-8
  • Couldn’t see any instructions in my box
  • Comes with micro USB to charge
  • Has a charge indicator on the droid, this is great
  • Having sounds coming from Artoo is great, BB-8 doesn’t
  • On board LED lights are great and he looks just like the movies
  • Easier to control than BB-8
  • More predefined actions at the tap of a single button

In short, I love this new Sphero. It’s a must for any Star Wars fan if you can get it under £100.

What I want to see from Apple in 2018

As we’ve already talked about 2017 was a mixed year for Apple. Moving into 2018 it’s a good opportunity to think about what I’d like to see in 2018.

iPhone lineup

Between iPhone 8 and X Apple have had mixed reactions from the public. The 8 isn’t different enough and the X is too expensive. Personally I’d love to see how many iPhone SE and 7 models have been sold since the 8 and X were released, it may surprise you. I feel that they have sold rather well. I know a new line up has been rumoured already but here goes what I’d like to see

  • A new 4.7″ LCD that goes edge to edge, which replaces the current SE
  • The current 8 gets replaced with an edge to edge 5.8″ LCD
  • Plus model dropped
  • The current iPhone X gets a price reduction with 128GB storage option
  • A new 6.5″ OLED iPhone X to satisfy the current Plus owners
  • All models except the SE have a dual lens camera
  • All models have FaceID
  • All models start at 64GB and offer 128GB

Thoughts?

iPad lineup

The current line up is solid, I don’t think we’ll see much on the iPad front aside internal bumps. No edge to edge design needed or FaceID this year I feel.

I’d like to see dual lens on the iPad Pro and FaceID but I don’t see it happening this year.

Mac

As someone that using a Mac maybe 20% of the time it’s a hard one.

I’d say improved keyboards on The MacBook and MacBook Pro.

Deliver on your promise of a new modular Mac Pro.

Wearables

I wear my Apple Watch everyday and love it, don’t see where the hardware can improve at this point.

I’d like to see improvements in software

  • Third party watch faces
  • Improved proactive health detection

Services

iCloud is pretty solid for me so mine is more around consolidation. Roll video into Apple Music or create a new video streaking app. Stop the bloat on iTunes and finally split it up.

Create a new Amazon Prime like service where you pay once and get all of the services in one package.

Software

Improvements to core Apple apps such as Reminders, Calendar and Mail. They are unusable for when you want to get things done and I often use a third party app such as Fantastical.

Consistency, this is something that should be top of Apple’s list when it comes to software improvements. I am a bit sick of Apple’s own apps all having their own personality rather than a consistent approach. For example Music has the new larger header style but Reminders has the older list view that is inconsistent. Please Apple chose one style and stick to it.

How I feel about Apple slowing down older devices

It emerged yesterday that Apple have implemented methods in iOS to slow down devices with less than optimal batteries. When thinking about this more I had to ask myself if I was ok with this.

I honestly believe they have the right intention but have executed it in the wrong way.

It totally makes sense for them to help users get the most out of old devices but slowing down a device you paid for without a notification is wrong.

Apple needs to move quick and ship an update and revised statement. All I’m going to get asked and see reported in mainstream media is that Apple is slowing down devices to make you buy new ones.

Based on my use of older devices I think this is being done to iPad’s too. I have a second generation Mini that with latest updates had become almost unusable.

I want Apple to either ship a battery health app or integrate this into iOS.

All it needs is an indicator and notification to allow users to check on the health of their battery. When it needs to slow the device down it lets you know.

What disappoints me is that Apple, by not communicating this looks like it’s tried to get away with something.

They deserve all the negative press they get on this one.

Apple: end of year review (2017 edition)

It’s been a mixed year for Apple, some great new hardware intermingled with some embarrassing software cock ups, here’s my highs and lows following Apple this year.

iPad Pro 10.5”

My favourite Apple product I’ve been using all year. As you know if you’ve been following me I love using iOS, I prefer it to using my Mac these days. I really liked my 12.9” iPad Pro with it’s pencil support and professional apps. But it always felt too big, sometimes embarrassingly so. When using in client meetings I’d always get comments on it, “wow, what’s that??”.

So, when Apple announced the 10.5” I immediately jumped on it. I picked up a Smart Keyboard cover and it’s been my go to device for the last six months.

For me it really does balance portability with power perfectly.

iPhone X

I was sceptical about the X, with it’s higher price and strange screen design I wasn’t sold. I waited it out but some freelancing work came in that gave me the opportunity to try one so I did.

I’ve been using one for almost a month and am sold. As a 7 and 7 plus owner my dream was to get the bigger screen and better camera in a smaller body, the X gives me this. Having portrait and zoom mode available to me whenever I want it has been great and something I always wished I had when using my 7. I’d take my DSLR everywhere and whilst the X isn’t a match for my Canon it gets me almost there and it’s something I can pocket.

I’ve been using it naked as Jony Ive intended and along with the jet black 7 it’s the best feeling iPhone that I’ve used since the iPhone 3G (still my favourite design).

I won’t go too much into it here as I have other posts planned on my time with the X.

AirPods

A classic Apple product, does something much better than the competition. I’m constantly amazed by the range on them and the ease of pairing is unparalleled. It took me a while to get them in stock but since owning them I’ve used them everyday.

I still think they look a little strange but wouldn’t trade them to go back to wires.

They are also good value for money when compared to the rest of the market I feel, there’s nothing like them out there.

iOS 11

iOS 11 brought a lot of changes to iPad (for the better) but also a lot of bugs. In fact I’m still recommending unless you have an iPhone 8 or later don’t even upgrade.

It’s not until I got an iPhone X that I’ve been happy on iOS 11. On my 7 it lags, I run into random crashes on Apple apps and overall it just feels like it’s beta.

On the iPad it’s turned it into a much more productive product for me. Side by side apps and drag and drop have made things like putting email into my to do system a breeze.

I really wish Apple had forked the iPad version properly though and created an iPadOS. iOS 10 was solid and iOS 11 on iPhone introduces new bugs, such as the weather widget never updating correctly.

Overall iOS 11 has been a negative though for me this year.

Software quality

A major negative for me this year. Between allowing root access with no password on macOS and all of the little user interaction bugs (auto replace it with I.T.) on iOS Apple have had it all.

Apple need to go back to basics and either improve QA or rebuild it.

I’d also like to see more of a focus on looking after its radar bug reporting system. I don’t even raise bugs anymore as I feel they get ignored.

This is my main negative on Apple this year.

What are your thoughts on Apple in 2017?

Watch for my “What I want from Apple in 2018” post coming soon.