The top image is a good example of Apple’s “magic”. It is an iPhone XS Max photo snapped at the county fair of my grand daughter using portrait mode. This is as good an image as you will get from any camera in my hands. The subject is in focus. The background has nice looking bokeh. The colors to my eye are perfect. All from a camera in my pocket. Apple’s system auto up loaded it into my Photo’s app so this image can be easily edited on my Macs, iPad, or iPhone. And it is tucked away on line automatically to safely guard against its loss. In my opinion there is not a better solution to get this shot sold by anyone else in the World that is better than Apple’s.
I took this video with the same iPhone a few minutes later. It is in 4K @30 frames per second. I downgraded it to 720 to get the file size down when putting it into this post. The ease of making this video with the iPhone is pretty amazing. However, if I had brought my Sony A7iii with one of the better lenses I would guess that the quality would be slightly better. The Sony A7iii does a very good job of video. But then you have to carry a much larger camera system. And have a larger computer with software that costs money. Apple provides good software to work with their cameras for free.
Besides using my iPhone as a camera I also use it as a phone, calendar, reminders, notes, maps, TV remote, text messages, weather report, and lots of other daily tasks. The current iPhone is very magical in the way it works. For me it is the best device of its type made by anyone in the World. It is expensive, but I use it every day multiple times. For the use I get out of this device it is a very low cost item. Every year it keeps getting a little better.
For me the real magic in this year’s iPhone XS Max over the X is what was done to the camera. I waited until I saw the camera tests of it to buy one and once I saw the way it’s camera handled blowing highlights in clouds over the iPhone X I ordered one the same day. What I did not realize when I ordered it was how advanced the computational photography was in this device. After getting it I was just stunned to see how it could take still photos using file stacking when making regular photos, panos, and videos (4K @30 of less). I expect this fall’s new models will blow past this years and I will have to make the big decision of either the standard size or Max. I have not completely decided on that yet.
Home Pods. I still don’t like the fact that there are no wired connections on these speakers, but the fact that I am using them to replace a Yamaha media amp and surround sound speakers is pretty magical. The software to get two of them to act together for stereo sound works perfectly. The sound quality that comes out of these small speakers is amazing. You get very strong bass, good mid tones, and great high notes. The quantity of sound is not what you would get from much larger speakers, but then these high tech devices have their own internal amps and only cost approx. $250 each. Apple’s software to keep them running properly needs some work, but if I don’t become too irritated from having to make sure that the Apple TV software directs sound to the Home Pods and the TV then these are a good solution. Is the sound as good as my 5 foot tall JBL 100 lb speakers, nope, but for their size they are magical.
Apple Watch. I still have my original Apple Watch 1. I have used this almost every day for several years. I like it, it works great, it does what I want it to do. I have not been able to use it as a Dick Tracy wrist phone, but one of these days I will get one of the newer ones and I am sure this feature will work well too. I would not mind if there was more than one style of watch. I really do prefer the look of a round watch over a square. But considering the utility of my Apple Watch and the low cost this is the best smart watch I have ever owned. (I did have a Moto 360 before the Apple. )
My 2018 Mac Book Pro 15″. If I had it to do over again I would have stuck with the 13″ size. But this MBP has worked perfectly since new. I have had no problems with the keyboard at all. I do not find the new keyboard hard to use. The opposite. The key strokes are now less effort than on my 2013 MBP. For me it is a coin toss as to which design I like to use more. The newer style takes less effort and to me seems a little less fatiguing. The older style seems more familiar and you are able to stop a key stroke mid way than the new one. I don’t really care which one Apple uses. The MBP I bought last fall was a lot of money, over 3 grand. But it works really well and I paid over 2 grand back in 2013 for my older MBP. My old one still works. I don’t like that the new one is so thin it does not have USB C ports, HDMI port, SD card slot, but now with the changing of the design head at Apple we can go back to thicker laptops with more ports like my 2013 MBP. That would be a welcome change.
Thunderbolt Display. I have had one for about four years. I love it. Please Apple sell me a new Thunderbolt Display with 5K resolution from the iMacs. If you do I will order one immediately. This display is magic. It is so many times better than my old Samsung 27″ display I cannot count them. I love the extra ports on the back of the Thunderbolt Display. I use them every day. Do not remove them if you come out with a 5K screen.
Apple TV. Mine is about 3 years old. It is the 1080p one with 64gb of ram. I have not upgraded to 4K as my OLED screen is 1080. My big screen is so good I see no reason to upgrade. Apple TV is far more complex than the Roku I also have. The Apple TV does lots of things the Roku is not capable of. I like having both. To me the Apple TV box makes it possible to live without cable easily. We use it for seeing streaming services like Amazon Prime, PBS, and Netflix. We also buy some shows using the Apple app. We show media we create by making hybrid slide shows combining stills and video on the MacBook Pros and then show them wirelessly using Air Play. Last week I saw a news piece on Apple News that you could fix all the issues on the Apple TV remote with a $9 case from Amazon. I bought one. Putting a silicone case on the Apple TV remote makes the remote much much easier to use. It makes it a bit easier to use the flaky little touch pad on the remote, but does not completely fix its problems. Overall the Apple TV to me is worth a few issues that I am sure will be looked at and fixed by next generation. So is this a magic system? Yes. Two weeks ago at a high end resort we had a modern cable box system with some ability to steam shows like on Apple TV. The Apple TV is the best by a wide margin.
So I am running out of steam for this blog post. Apple still has lots of magic for me. Sure there is room for improvement, but I think over all the the Cupertino Company does an excellent job. I don’t care to go back to laptops that are not Apple’s. Cable TV boxes will almost certainly never be located in my family room again. I may have bought my last high end camera besides Apple’s. Apple Music does a very good job and I pull out my vinyl and CD’s less and less. The sound quality from Home Pods 1 makes me wonder if I will ever buy 100lb speakers again.
Bottom line – Apple’s “Magic” “Hits” far outweigh their “Misses” for me.