Bob Nuttmann

Apple – The Magic Has Dimmed – For Me

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My first experience with Apple products was back when the first iPod came out.  I had been using digital music on Windows computers for a while and then went on a short trip to Mexico with my wife, teenage daughter, and one of her friends.  The friend had a brand new iPod.  The original white one.  I saw it and could see how it worked.  I knew this was a big deal immediately.  As soon as we got back I went to the local Computer Store and bought a green iPod Mini with 4 GB.  I think it cost about $150.  I still have it.  It still works, but the battery is weak.  I had that one day and knew right away that this was going to be a revolution in music.  I went out and bought one for my teenage daughter and wife.  Our family went through several generations of iPods until I finally got an iPod Classic with 120 GB about a dozen years ago.  It still works perfectly except the battery is not as good as it used to be.  Those devices were magic and touched with genius.

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All photos on this post from the Apple XS Max camera system

My next experience with Apple was in 2013 when I finally bought a MacBook Pro 13″ solid state laptop.  I had owned or the company had provided about 20 Windows computers over the years and I finally decided it was time to try a Mac.  This computer cemented my love of Apple products.  Even though it took me a while to learn how to operate the Mac vs Windows and even to figure out the limits of Mac compared to Windows I loved and still love that 13″ MBP.  My favorite laptop of all time.  I like it more than my 2018 MBP 15″.  For years it was just instant on and ready to go compared to Windows computers which always seemed to need a virus scan or update which could take between 5 minutes to two days depending on how lucky you were that day.  The little Mac Book was just always ready to work.  I added a Thunderbolt Display to the original Mac about three years ago.  A fantastic display that just works perfectly with the original MBP.  This computer was and is magic, even though it has slowed down a LOT in the last year.

Last fall I finally went a bought a new MacBook Pro 15″ with a six core I7 and 512gb of internal storage.  Cost over $3,000.  This laptop has maybe half the magic of my original MBP.  Why, limited ports.  Not even the Apple Thunderbolt Display would connect to the new MacBook without a dongle.  And almost none of my other stuff either.  No SD card slot.  No HDMI port.  And a real kill joy was no mag safe power cable.  The older MBP connected to the Thunderbolt Display through built in connectors for power and display info.  Now I had to dongle up the display info and use a completely separate usb c charging connector.  And even though I have not had any problems with the hardware on my new Mac including the keyboard I don’t like the new keyboard as well as the old one.  I bought a new Apple bluetooth keyboard.  It has the new keys.  It works fine, but I just do not like the low travel keys as well.

Windows 10.  Back when I got my original Mac we were on Windows 7.  Windows 10 came out before I bought my latest MBP.  Windows 10 is far far better for me than 7.  I almost just got a windows computer this time instead of a Mac because to me the software is about as good.  I only went with Apple because I loved my previous Mac.  I don’t love this new Mac.

Bluetooth is crap if you have lots of bluetooth devices.  My wife as an iPhone, iPad, and ear pods.  Bluetooth works just fine for her.  I have MacBook Pro 1 & 2.  iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Car, large stereo amp, ear pods, old Sony laptop, Magic Mouse, touch pad keyboard 1 & 2, and MX mouse.  Bluetooth only works for me sometimes.  I have almost given up on the ear pods because they work reliably maybe 50% of the time.  If I switch computers from one MacBook to the other I have to fiddle around getting everything to connect.  So I go around turning things off so other stuff works.  Wire connections work better and are sure.  Apple wants to get rid of all wires.

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iPhoto and Aperture change to Apple Photos.  I like Photos as an organizer for both photos and videos.  It works very well to keep your photos and videos safe, move less used files to the cloud, and do very minor editing.  I use it to edit pictures taken with my iPhone with the Apple standard camera app.  The problem with this software is that it does not work that well as an editor.  Most photos and videos from the iPhone are so good they need little editing, but any other camera usually needs some work and the Apple Photos software is just not that good.  iPhoto and Aperture was a better system for editing than Photos.  And Lightroom is far superior for photos.

Apple TV.  I have the 1080 64 gig model from a couple of years ago.  It works fine, but the remote is not very good at all and they have not fixed it.  Home Pod speakers.  A few months ago during an especially loud section of a movie my four year old Yamaha media amp blew.  Turns out the repair would cost about what a new one would.  $450.  My speakers were Bose from the late 1990’s.  So I trashed the Yamaha and gave the Bose to the church rummage sale.  I had heard the Apple Home pod speakers worked well and sounded good.  So I bought two from about $600 and did not need an amp.  They work.  Sometimes.  They work with Apple TV when you go into the settings and click the box to power them with Apple TV.  THERE ARE NO WIRE CONNECTORS TO THESE SPEAKERS EXCEPT TO PLUG THEM INTO POWER.  It does not take courage to build speakers like this without any wired connectors, it takes stupidity.  My other bluetooth speaker has both bluetooth and wired connections.  It works more reliably by far than Home Pods.  It just does not sound as good.  Home Pods do have very very good sound, when they work.  My LG big screen does not see the Home Pods so I cannot connect them directly to the TV.  I would guess that in a few more months I will get tired of fiddling with the Home Pods and eBay them.  Then I will go back to something with wire connections.

Ear Pods.  My wife bought these for me as a Christmas gift.  I don’t use them very often as they only connect to the device I want them to sometimes.  They mostly sit in one of my desk drawers.

My new Sony high end camera does not have USB C.  That means I have to use a dongle to hook the camera up directly to my newer MacBook Pro.  And if I want to directly read off an SD card I have to use a dongle.

Are you getting the drift?  Lots of loss of magic with very good Apple gear that is not quite finished or things have been removed that we’re useful.

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Taken inside with dim light with iPhone X

Now we come to the big one, smartphones.  My first three smartphones were all Motorola Androids.  Verizon did not sell iPhones.  But I have to say that the last two Motorola phones, a Droid Razr & a Droid Maxx were great phones for their time.  Both of these phones were magic and touched by genius.  The Droid Razr was the perfect size and weight for men’s pockets.  It was thin small and very powerful for the time.  It was also 4G at a time Apple only offered 3G.  It had software so I could connect it directly to my computer monitor or TV so I could mirror the screen and show Netflix and so on way back in about 2011.  It was a powerhouse for the time in a small size.  That phone still works, I gave it to my grandkids and they text me on it.  The next phone from Motorola was even better.  The Motorola Maxx, the first Maxx not the second crappy one.  Where the Droid Razr had only 8mp camera the Maxx had 10mp and made very good photos.  I still have a bunch of photos made with this and they look really good six years later.  The Maxx had a lot of special Motorola software and also the first google smart stuff.  So back in 2014 I could talk to the phone and it would get me directions quick.  And it would screen my calls to ask if I wanted to send to V mail or text back or ?  I also bought the Moto 360 watch.  This was before the Apple Watch and it connected to the Moto Maxx very well and was nicer looking than the Apple Watch.

All my kids, wife, and most of the rest of my family bought Apple phones.  Based on my super experience with the MacBook Pro 13″ I bought an iPhone 6s.  After having it a while I thought it was about half as good as the Moto Maxx.  But I could use Apple messenger and face time.  So I stuck with Apple and then Google bought and sold Motorola.  That ruined Motorola for me.  I bought a used Moto Turbo 2 on eBay a couple of years ago and just did not seem as good as my older Moto Maxx.  After the 6s I got a 7+.  I liked the 7+ with the dual camera a lot.  Then an iPhone X in the smaller size which I really liked.  This past year I have had an iPhone XS Max.  I like it but it is too big.  I preferred the smaller X size.

Overall I could say I am currently more satisfied with my iPhone than the rest of my latest Apple gear.  However, I still really like my 3 year old iPad and my wonderful MBP 2013.  But the activation of the iPhone camera is much slower and more difficult than my Moto Maxx.  The Moto Maxx had a tough shell that did not need a case and you just pulled it our of your pocket, gave a double twist of the wrist, and tapped on the screen where you wanted to focus.  It took the shot then.  And when you wanted to move the photo or video from the phone to any of my computers, easy, you plugged it in with a micro usb and transferred the file to whatever computer you we’re using.  The latest Apple gives a better image or video but is much more difficult and complicated to use.  For one thing the iPhones all need cases as they are super fragile.  That is a big negative.  The Moto’s case had just the right grip on it and slid in and out of my pockets just right.  With the iPhone you have to look at the screen and tap on the small camera icon on the bottom right.  When the camera app opens you have to find the shutter button on the screen and tap it.  This is way way way way less intuitive and easy as the old Moto.  And then moving files off an iPhone requires using Apple Photos or the Apple “image capture app” hidden in the utilities folder.  For Windows computers it is even harder.

On the other hand some real strong points with the iPhone XS Max I have is it has a beautiful screen (Although my Moto Razr and Moto Maxx both had good OLED screens way back when), is very secure, and the software has worked very well for me.  I like iMessage, Face Time, calendar, and maps.  It also cost well over $1000.  I especially like the Apple system for compressing photo and video files.  In general I also like the way Apple Photos organizes your photo and video files and allows you to download them if you want to at full size.  Apple is big on privacy and so am I.  I don’t have anything to hide but like the ability to decide what and if I want to share private details.  I also like and use air play frequently.  This allows you to put together high quality slide shows combining photos and video and then send them to the Apple TV to be displayed on my OLED big screen.  This works much better than any other wireless system I have tried.  I used to connect my first MacBook Pro to the TV using an HDMI cable and showed the slide show that way, but air play is better.

Cameras.  Apple and Google seem to be on a race to advance still photo and video in a compact size.  Even though I sometimes have difficulty getting these cameras to work as I would like them to, there is no doubt that Apple and Google are two of the driving forces in the image industry today.  However, and this is a big deal.  You can step away from all the advancements of camera tech on phones and just buy regular cameras and not have to update every year.  Sony does a very good job of compact cameras that fit in your pocket as well as an iPhone, and so do several other camera makers such as Nikon, Canon, Panasonic, and Olympus.  Get an Olympus Tough and you can use your phone for 3 years or so before upgrading.  Or a Sony HX99 or RX100.

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Conclusion.  Apple has lost a lot of its magic by not paying attention to detail and making their gear harder to use not easier.  The complete insult of showing me a video announcing that Apple has shown great “courage” by removing ports I use all the time and need is just BS.  It is the same arrogance Microsoft had for many many years until they brought in some people who paid more attention to their users.  Apple is so big and rich, plus has momentum that they are likely to cruise on for a long time still making blunders like the ones I put into this post.  But, it would be nice to once in a while pick up one of their products again like when I first met the iPod and think, this is going to change the World.  I am waiting.

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