#Mavericks to be renamed OSX ADHD?

Installed the OSX Mavericks on a Macbook Air and a Mac Mini yesterday and here’s initial impressions on the most salient features and why it’s for the hyperactive mental butterflies.

weird-topgun#1 – dig the fact it’s FREE after the 20 sheets we had to outlay for a Mountain Lion which was a purely under the bonnet release (the classic IT developer “technical debt/architecture” release punted out to a screaming CFO – “where’s the capability uplift for the million bucks we’ve just outlaid? I don’t care what a scaleable SOA is!!” ).

Anyhoo. Here in Australia download took around 90 minutes with the install about 35 minutes. And I’d conveniently forgotten to connect up my Lacie this morning for Time Machine backup in event of brick – the Amber Gambler continues.

Here’s the salient features standing out for me.

Multiple displays with independent docks/menus

mavericks-multi-monitor_dtI’ve always had a second and sometimes daisychained third and fourth monitors with my laptops. But frustrating having to go back to the primary screen to get to the menu and mission control. And frustrating that full screen in one window freezes the other. So this update is perfect and fixes all of that – well done Apple! Breathed life into my 2007 23” Apple monitor that’s somehow still going… !

However – I did find the dock to be much slower in appearing on all screens which was disappointing (on a 2011 Macbook Air, should be fine).

What would have been nice would be AirPlay for any Apple device connected to your HDTV.  I have a Mac Mini connected to mine – would be good to Airplay from my Macbook Air to the Mini rather than bizarrely just to the AppleTV. A deliberate strategy I think to keep this product line going until the integrated Apple TV set comes out.

Finder Window with TABS

Ooh yes!!! How I lamented the loss of “File Mangler” on Windows replaced with this bloody awful Explorer thingmie making copying of files between directories a right Royal pain in the arse. Same deal with Finder on Mac. And lo – multiple Windows would be opened to solve this issue together with parallel working in different directories on different documents. Jumble.

osx-mavericks-finder-search-tabsSolution: multiple Finder Windows in one shell window  à la Safari style. Simple solution and works brilliantly – being able to copy between different groups of directories organized across different tabs, quickly and neatly and logically. One of these “just works”, “feels natural” UX upgrades that is awesome.

So these upgrades cater to the “power users” – people who clearly work in parallel on the multiple streams of work simultaneously properly hyperventilating as they do so. Should have called it OSX ADHD

Safari / Notifications

mavericks_sharingTop sites.. meh. Shared Links – dig big time. This is basically encroaching somewhat on Hootsuite’s territory whereby you get a real-time feed in a window to the left of your browser window of all your social media updates that have links attached to them.

You add your internet accounts in Settings (Twitter, FB, LinkedIn etc.) and relevant updates appear in notifications, you can Tweet / Update directly from Notifications (again, Hootsuite type basic functionality) and show these updates in Safari.

A nice version 1 foray into social media management from the desktop for Apple.

iBooks

iBooksMovedMoved your books/PDFs from iTunes to new iBooks app. Meh. I’m not convinced my fine Scottish eBook Sir Walter Scott’s “Ivanhoe” was in German when I downloaded it. Perhaps a hidden long-term strategy from Apple to seed us for a move for Infinite Loop to Munich.

Maps

iPlaetI was kind of “meh” about this… but I take it back big time. In addition to the new Maps native application, maps and location are an integral part of Mavericks now.

Map pop-up options or small map embeds are available everywhere you enter an address – calendar entries and contacts to name a few.

Here’s the kicker on integration.

You’re about to drive to your mate Balthazaar’s mansion. You either pull up his contact and click on map to see his place in the maps app, or just type in his name to the Maps app search and it auto-completes from your contacts (as per Maps on the iPhone).

You can enter directions … and then before you jump in the car hit “share” and choose your iPhone from the drop-down. The route will appear as a notification on your iPhone which you can bring up with turn-by-turn directions as you head out the door and mount the iPhone in the car. Dig.

OZ

Screenshot I took of the Sydney Flyover – Grand Theft Auto #2 rendering

And so to the gimmicky flyover function – kind of Grand Theft Auto 2 rough rendering of your cityscapes overlaid with restaurants, roadworks, street names and such. It’s actually kind of fun … if a little slow. Really don’t see much use for this – unless somehow Apple can negotiate a partnership with Google Streetview or send out a fleet of flying-monkeys with cameras from Infinite Loop to duplicate in Apple’s own ecosystem.

I imagine the flyover view for “selected cities” is limited to big ones. So if you don’t live in Wagga-Wagga, it’s kind of creepy to flyover your own property and see a rendering of your bedroom window. I wonder if there’s a rendering in Moscow with Edward Snowdon waving from the roof of the Kremlin with an arrangement of white stones spelling out “THIS IS JUST THE BEGINNING SUCKAS!!!”.

Calendar

Would you believe as an avid iCal user across the ecosystem the wee update in iOS7 of different fonts actually made a massive difference?! It’s the little things.. And duplicated here in Mavericks. Much clearer to read, much slicker interface for events.

And finally – rather than a week by week view you can smooth scroll to show the end of one week and start of another on the same screen…. er… so you can drag across all the stuff you popped into your Friday to carry over to the next week. A frequent function for the procrastinators out there (I prefer to use the calendar rather than the Reminders app in OSX – find it easier to colour code and view everything just in calendar rather than switching between apps).

Loving the maps integration in the Calendar event. Your mate tells you the name of a bar to meet in – you set the appointment and enter the name of the bar, auto-looked up with drop down of options to select. Click on the name and it’s set as location in the appointment withScreen Shot 2013-10-24 at 11.46.44 am

  • full address
  • map part shown in the appointment (which of course you can click on from your iPhone for directions)
  • travelling distance time calculated from last appointment
  • WEATHER – for the particular location on the particular day/time – woah!

It’s the little things…

Glitches – minor grumbles!

On settings menu the groovy metallic iCloud icon has retro-morphed back to its blue original breaking with the theme. I don’t think this will contribute to global warming.

I can’t get my other devices to appear on the share button on the Maps application to send directions to my iPhone for example, despite being registered on iCloud. This is a pain as the transfer-as-you-jump-in-the-car feature is a major plus of Maps.

In Finder re. tabs – you need to manually open the first tab rather than having a “+” button icon appearing on the right to click on as per Safari. It’s the little things…

Conclusion

This is a winner – especially as free!

The performance is noticeably faster on Safari, Mail and Calendars, which is awesome in itself.

You can see the strategy here as more iOS7 apps are introduced to the desktop (iBooks, Maps). The convergence of Mac OS releases across all devices simultaneously with a common set of apps/UX.

And the further strategy of the Apple value proposition. The ecosystem. The hardware/OS/UX experience integrated and controlled by the one company. With the native apps being so COOL that you you are drawn into the iCloud Apple ecosystem big time.

original

A bit like buying a Gilette razor except the initial razor purchase isn’t as cheap.

Well done Apple. Now let’s see a new form-factor iPhone6! (vs. last disappointment!)

#iOS7 and The Amber Gambler

Having refused to upgrade my iPhone4 to a newer model I was waiting with baited breath for iOS7… which arrived this morning in Australia and was promptly downloaded to my puny A4-chipped hardware.

I was an amber gambler. I had a meeting in the city this morning and arrived early, ensconcing myself in a café and pillaging their wi-fi to download and install the update. One install brainfart and the phone is out and that important meeting location update to the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb instead is missed…

iPhone4_iOS7

… but wasn’t to be … all good! Surprisingly quick and smooth install for such a major update on such an enfeebled and emaciated bottom-spec chip. An amber gambler also for the reported issues that may accompany a major upgrade to a low spec device. We’ll see how that goes…

First impressions

First impressions are that this is an awesome update, doing exactly what it says on the tin. I think that the features in iPhone 5+ unavailable on the puny 4 are gimmicky and vastly over-rated (see below). I’d avoided the Beta versions released in the previous months, preferring to wait to hit up the gold disk today.

So what do we have?

GUI

Great sharp look across the whole user interface. Über sharp font. I was reminded what a massive upgrade the iPhone4 Retina display was having looked at a 3GS the other day. The new clear font really does the sharp display justice.

moleeeeeRegarding icons and new Apple app UX; finally a move from skeuomorphism back to crisp flat icons. Except the Contacts icon which is uninspired and bloody awful. Why does this bother me? A mate pointed it out this morning. It’s like the mole in Austin Powers. I can’t stop looking at it. I digress.

Usability

ios7.controlcenterBIG step forwards here. Search Bar available from a quick downward swipe in the middle of the screen. New Control Centre  from a swipe up from the bottom of the screen. Finally – in the control centre amongst other settings you can switch on BlueTooth in one touch from here – very handy quick fix if you’re in the car and forgot to pop in on.

Screen Shot 2013-09-19 at 7.47.14 PMOne area they’ve got right is the multi-tasking. Great switching between apps in a carousel display, with a simple swipe up to remove an app from the carousel and close it. Actually useful in another sense in that the carousel view is dynamic – so when switching between apps and passing the email app on the carousel you can quickly check the top email to see if worth opening the app or not (couldn’t find a screenshot of this, but you get the idea).

Multi-page folders – very handy … if you’ve got a load of legacy apps on your phone you can’t quite bring yourself to delete but might use one day … chuck them all in one big themed folder rather than a few numbered ones.

Apps

Screen Shot 2013-09-19 at 7.44.09 PMAlso loving the new vertical tab carousel in Safari with a quick slide to the left to close a tab. I see they’ve brought the private browsing option to the fore in Safari now for those “colourful” websites accessed via the Screen Shot 2013-09-19 at 7.52.04 PMcompany phone.

Calendar – not so much. Looks crisp but a lot of screen real estate is wasted with the week band at the top of the screen with it’s iOS7 wider spacing. Now you could argue that I should break the cobwebs on the Scottish sporran and invest in a 5+ with more screen real estate but who am I to break stereotype here?

Thrifty ScotiTunes looks great – back to earlier more usable versions of iTunes. Loving the tiled album browser view. Everything’s a lot more … image-intensive. From the animated equaliser graphic for currently playing track to the band album cover displayed on virtually every playlist.

Screen Shot 2013-09-19 at 8.00.59 PMPhone – loving the contact images displayed everywhere continuing with the “more graphical” theme.  Fuctionality-wise, when the phone is locked and you receive an incoming call you can choose to ignore and remind yourself of the call an hour or so later, or send a text message back from a number of pre-stored messages such as “on my way”, “ring you back”. Great wee feature.

Very simply … I also like the well-spaced circular number buttons on the dialing screen of the phone app too! It’s the little things…. so I forgive Jonathan Ives on one of his pretentious white-backgrounded HD rants. Had a bit of a transformation himself that lad.

ives

What don’t we have in iPhone4 version of iOS7?

  • Airdrop file sharing – meh
  • Siriproblems with Scottish accents anyway as mentioned previously
  • 3D Flyover/Turn by Turn map navagation – meh
  • Live camera filters – major meh – use Instagram or apply in camera app after snap
  • Airplay Mirroring – more meh

As to the the cosmetic…

Missing the “look at my phone, look at my phone!” features that any half-decent Samsung is going to slap down big time anyway.

So on the iPhone4 no…

  • parallax tilt effect – meh
  • live wallpapers – in a word crap. I remember about 2 years ago being blown away by a Samsung Galaxy’s breaking waves on the seaside wallpaper never mind a few wee bubbles bouncing about.
  • Translucent effect throughout OS – granted this would pretty it up a bit and reinforce the feel of the “layers” design but again a “meh” that doesn’t justify the outlay. The iPhone4 step-change GUI improvement is good enough.

Performance

I have a concern over speed with iOS7 on iPhone4. There’s a lot more animation from the the unlock “icons bouncing to middle of screen”, multi-tasking, app selection “genie” opening … and app opening seems to take longer on iOS7 now.

The control panel crashed on me twice in half an hour. This is a bit of a “watch this space”.

So in all….

Screen Shot 2013-09-19 at 7.54.09 PMAs I began – an awesome update! Loving the new GUI right down to the circular phone dialing buttons (it’s a phone too now I think about it 😉  ).

Everything feels fresher and more cleanly designed. The phone itself feels a hell of a lot more usable with the main apps and settings features a lot slicker and much more speedily accessable.

A big thumbs up Apple! Now …. let’s surprise the market Bernanke-style and knock out the iPhone6 Glasses next week….

Throwing ze #iOS7 switch in Australia Boris…

I said I wouldn’t get excited but … 3.58pm Australian Eastern Standard Time – Logged into iCloud to check an iPhone backup and I note the remodelling of the splash page with new iOS7 font and layer effect … but no iOS7 as yet to download…

ic

The Woz – fan of the NBN!

Steve Wozniak is becoming an Australian citizen, citing one reason being the potential of the NBN, as per an article in today’s Australian Financial Review.

With recent economic slowdown, and talk in the mining industry of the end of the boom, it’s vitally important that Australia adequately plans for it’s technology future, more cohesively that the poorly organised New South Wales digital summit (see my earlier post on the NBN here).Image

iOSDroid – just work dammit!

Just work dammit!

Well then. I’ve been making a hooh-hah about the merits of the Koreans, robots and children’s candy (in a sign of the unstoppable behemoth of globalis(z)ation, I finally succumb to the American word for the Scottish “sweetie”). Read Samsung, Android and Jelly Bean.

It’s time for a new phone, the anticipated 2 year replacement.  In Sydney, Samsung has adopted the Applestore Strategy, and has opened up a huge airy, light store directly opposite the large Applestore (though I do have to say that I was in Shanghai recently and YAY impressed with the view of the Applestore from the top of the Oriental Pearl tower some 250m below, with the iconic fruit clearly visible in a submerged cylinder of glass).

Image

Applestore Shanghai over left shoulder on the glass floor at the top of the Oriental Pearl tower. Scared is not the word.

On my first visit to the Samsung store, I was blown away by Android, and by the form factor of the Galaxy Note 2. I loved the old school stylus, the bright screen, the clear browsing, the seemingly infinite customization of Android.

With the Note 2 coming out in the next month, I was resolved to drop Steve (peace be upon him) and set out on a new relationship with the Korean. I watched Samsung videos, looked up reviews, various websites, and even constructed a comparison spreadsheet of features and requirements, as all IT people should do with all affairs of the heart.

I wasn’t impressed with the specs of the iPhone 5 – despite speculation, I had hopd for something radically different. And less impressed with the tales of woe of iOS6 on existing phones (though as we speak I am currently installing on my iPhone 4 – fingers X!).

I dropped back into the Samsung store yesterday and checked out the Samsung offerings. I decided that the Note 2 was actually too large to be a real phone, and that in fact the stylus was decidedly inaccurate and gimmicky – a bit like those bloody annoying devices that couriers ask you to sign your name with in an even more illegible scrawl than your years-of-typing-not-used-to-writing handwriting.

And so to the Samsung phone. I played with Jelly Bean on the Galaxy S4 and couldn’t see a massive difference over the previous version – the “smoothness of scrolling” of Project Butter did not really impress me, as a new user. However, not a bad looking device – nice and bright, with a major selling point being an actual changeable battery, like every device other than an iPhone!

iPhone 5 and Galaxy Note

I thought I’d better give the iPhone a lookin, and popped into the glass Mecca opposite. A hive of activity – though noticeably not as much as you’d expect on the weekend of the release of the device. I got my hands on an iPhone and wasn’t massively impressed with the extra row of icons of real estate. It was blisteringly fast (on Apple’s in-store Wi-Fi of course) and the screen was, for want of a better word, retina-clear. No idea what the headphone jack is doing on the bottom, and I shudder to think where following the ex-Google maps app might take me, from all accounts.

But what struck me was the design of the thing and the lightness of it. Okay, the user interface now looks pretty dated (the static row of icons versus the bright animated backgrounds of Android) but hey the thing “just works” I thought.

Major language warning for the below video courtesy of The Onion – Sony releases a new and challenging product….

And I remembered that’s what brought me to Apple in the first place and the core (boom boom) value proposition of the company. An OS based on Unix, hardware and software made and jealously guarded by the company means control, but also means less glitches. I remember years of pissing around with PC hardware at work, with various compatability problems, drivers etc. and just wanting to come home to a computer that actually did stuff without more interrupt conflicts! A bit like a chef coming home and putting a microwave meal in the oven. And even then (2000 or so) without the full compatability with Windows, I’d pay a premium for that assurance.

And so it is with iPhone. I’ve bought into the Apple iCloud ecosystem – I know the lock-in of the game, but honestly, the iCloud and iPhone are an extension of my Mac. They just work. Some might call that lazy pig headedness, an ostrich mentality, but I’ve done my time with bleeding edge and patchwork solutions.

Image

Locked in to the core

A friend of mine, a long-time Apple fanboy, finally switched to an Android (in part I’m sure to an awesome promo with a pair of Beats headphones!). His first impressions – the key ones – are that the whole OS just isn’t as slick, intuitive or integrated an experience as iOS. Furthermore, he noticed several glitches, and more importantly mentioned a key issue that he said “no Android fanboy tends to talk about”.

Just as a combination of hardware, OS and apps brings you a Windows experience, a combination of hardware, carrier, OS and apps brings you your Android experience. On the Google Play app store he found a frustrating amount of apps which upon selecting “install” gave the message “sorry – this application is not compatable with your device”. Furthermore, he needs to wait for his handset provider and carrier to get their act together to fine tune Android Jelly Bean for his device before he can download it.

Similar compatability issues were apparent in the Samsung store. Asking about the Galaxy 4G the assistant apologetically mentioned that only one network supported 4G right now, the others requiring “configurations” to work with Galaxy handsets.

 That is not a good experience.

I am very much of the JFW (“just flippin’ work”) school when it comes to technology. Ironically, I find iOS to be very “corporate” against the fun and youthful Android phones, especially Samsung – a point they make in their cheeky anti-iPhone campaigns with the hip kids keeping place in line for their parents at the iPhone launch (55secs in):

But it got me questioning what I really want with a phone, the one device that you take EVERYWHERE with you …. a point not lost on Apple industrial designer Jonathan Ives, as he hammers home in the well-scripted website ad (read: argument!) for iPhone 5. I thought:

  • Compact and lightweight – iPhone 5 cuts this big time – I don’t know what I was thinking about with the Galaxy Note. I was walking along typing with one hand on my iPhone 4 this morning, and did notice this – no chance on a larger device (another subliminal plant from the iPhone 5 video!).
  • Durability – I want something solid that I’m confident I can knock around a bit! The Samsung is cheap and plastic feeling compared to the solid iPhone
  • One stop shop – handles ALL your comms, entertainment needs on the move – some people have a phone and an iPod Touch – why?!
  • Just bloody work – proven with iOS for me. I don’t need a gazillion different configuration options, and there’s only so much you can do with the form factor of a small mobile device. Some things are best done on the desktop, and that’s OK!
Image

The new faceless corporate – Google carrying the hammer?

A second comparison of the iPhone 5 with the Samsung Galaxy S3 and I guess Android for that matter, leads me to a different conclusion – Android looks like a childish sibling. OK the thing is attractive to look at, but iPhone hits all the points on the app grunt work, and is pretty much guaranteed to work seamlessly. This is ironic since Apple always marketed itself on the “youth” aspect, and the “I’m a Mac, I’m a PC” ad poked fun at the boring, sensible world of the PC. Apple seizes this mantle over it’s more fun cousins now.

But it just bloody works. From 90% Samsung, I’ve swung back to 90% iPhone.

Now there’s the question of why I actually need a $1000 phone over iPhone 4 and iOS6…. and it’s just installed, seems OK …. let’s consider some opportunity cost….

The Silicon Beach

I attend a Sydney startup group named Silicon Beach.  An apt name for the New Australian Economy?

Think about it…

  • Mining boom runs out – what is Australia going to do next?! (the “Dutch Disease“)
  • National Broadband network kicks in – connecting the whole country with a vast fibre optic network
  • Tony Simonsen, CEO of Equinix, in an article in the Australian Financial Review this week says “..I really believe the NBN is going to promote [and enable] small business and start-up ventures staying in regional areas”
  • Australia is a pretty big place, with a low population, and is really quite a nice place to live!

How about an influx of startups, tempted away from the Valley and other hubs, to enjoy state-of-the-art infrastructure in Australia, top weather, the best sharks (and not talking about the Venture Capitalists) and a choice of where to base yourselves for an awesome alternative lifestyle to the usual tech crowd.

Amazon drops in a cloud data centre into Alice Springs in the centre of Australia, buried underground with cooling systems driven by huge solar panels in one of the sunniest places on Earth.

Boosted by tax revenues, the Australian Government invests in entrepreneurial startup businesses with various incentive schemes, and lowers Australian company tax. Knock-on effect of stimulating the economy – building local infrastructure to support these distributed tech communities – and making Australia a more attractive hub in which to base regional businesses.

Planes get faster. The great Australian trade-off – seeing your homeland once every two years if you’re lucky – is less of an issue.

Roll on NBN, the New Australian Economy  – The Great Silicon Beach!