Sunday, May 3, 2020

iPad - Next Major Upgrade Should Include Longer Battery Life

The 5th generation iPad Mini is my laptop.  I’m semi-productive on it and I am very satisfied with what I can do with it.  And with the lockdown and working from home, I have begun to explore more of what I can do with it including shooting and editing video with it.  It means I am spending more time with it and not only consuming media, I am doing more CPU intensive tasks with it.  So I think it’s time that Apple rethink what an all-day device means if Apple expects us to use our iPads for more than just play.  Ten hours of battery life is so 2010 (when the original iPad was introduced.

Ten hours might have been adequate in 2010.  Maybe even through most of the decades but as more users use productivity apps, that might even be fine.  From what I gathered, many users use their iPads to write and even do some light video work.  But for the next decade, iPads with 12 to 15 hours of battery life is needed.  And at some point, I think Apple will release iPads with longer battery life starting at the top with the iPad Pro line. 

If you take a look at what’s in the productivity category of the App Store, you still see a lot of writing apps as well as apps your typical mobile warrior will need - organization, meetings, messaging, and collaboration.  And you also see apps that were missing from only a couple of years ago:  CAD (computer-aided design, design, modeling, and photo/video editing apps.  Now, The only things I know about the A-series chips inside our iOS devices is that they are getting more powerful each each and they are more efficient with each generation.  But I also know that they are note quite notebook class chips yet.  And if we are expected to use our iPads as notebook replacements, that means the iPad chips need to work harder which would be a drain on the battery.

This takes me back to something some iPhone users had been asking Apple to do:  give us more battery life and stop making the iPhones thinner and thinner.  And Apple did exactly that with the iPhone XR and the iPhone 11s.  It would make sense for Apple to starting upgrading the battery life for the next generation of iPads so pro users can use their iPads for high-CPU intensive tasks and not worry about the battery life.

And there is another use for the iPad that Apple recently introduced in iPadOS and Mac OS Catalina.  It’s a feature I’ve been using more because I am currently working from home.   For me, it’s hit-and-miss with my iPad mini and MacBook.  It works at intervals and something happens and I get no response from the iPad side.  It could be the MacBook or not, I don’t know for sure. But if it works smoothly, I would be using it more often and that would also be a drain on the battery of the iPad.  

Recently, Apple upgraded the iPad Pro.  It’s the iPad Pro for anyone who did not get last year’s iPad Pro.  It’s a welcoming upgrade but it did not come with a huge jump in performance - on the CPU or battery side.  I don’t know what Apple has plan next for the iPad Pro but I anticipate there to be a multi-year transition to make the iPadOS a cousin to the Mac OS, not just a mere little sibling with only a subset of laptop features.  IPadOS will have more of its own features that allow users to become power users.  I fully expect Apple to upgrade the CPU each year for the foreseeable future.  And this would also be a good time for Apple to make sure the iPad, not just the iPad Pro, have longer battery life to support the future power users.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Should It Be Tim Cook Or Apple As A Company Be Applauded For Its Social Programs, And Would Apple Have Been So Generous If It Was not Apple or With Tim Cook As CEO

I was listening to a podcast today that focused on Apple and Apple products.  One of the hosts described Apple as being courageous in the face of the social and political pressures it had faced over the last three years both from the Trump administration, China's totalitarian regime, and others to today's pandemic raging through the world.  I wondered to myself if the host should have applauded Tim Cook himself or Apple.  There is no doubt that a vast majority of Apple employees share Tim Cook's social and political views.  So much of the employees agrees with Tim's actions and his positions.  And certainly, it has also helped that Tim Cook made many Apple employees very rich during his years as CEO and, hopefully, for many more years to come.

Still, I want to examine this question further:  Tim Cook the man is responsible for all the accolades that Apple has been showered with or should others in the company also share in it as well?  Think for a bit.  Okay, back?  It may not be just one or the other.  As with anything today, there is a scale with Tim Cook on one side and Apple on the other.  And I suspect who deserves the most credit is somewhere in the middle.  

Perhaps in the early part of Tim Cook's years as CEO, he lead the charge with many changes within Apple as a company.  And he had cleaned house during those years.  I don't need to go back and rehash all that.  And Tim Cook, while he appears to be a nice guy, was as certain as Steve Jobs was in that his vision for Apple be carried out.  There were a few rough quarters even as Tim has grown Apple during that time. Today, Apple is the most valuable company in the world that isn't a state backed entity.  All Tim's vision.  

If Tim Cook did not so openly share his political and social views and believe that Apple as a corporation not only have a responsibility to its shareholders but also a responsibility to the society in general, would Apple still be seen as a successful forwarding looking company that is also trying to change the world?  

I think Tim Cook deserved to be seen as the person who made it possible for Apple and other corporations to become more vocal in voicing opinions that in the past corporate boards would stay away from and doing something about it.  And that in turn has paved the way for its employees to more openly support similar efforts.  Okay, mostly liberal and left leaning positions but that is debate for another someone else to take up.

Whatever your political position, President Trump has declared himself a war president and companies like Apple have responded in kind - tens of millions of N95 masks donated, ventilators shipped to hospitals, and Apple even designed face shields for front line healthcare workers.  Apple and others are doing the right thing.  

Tim Cook's Apple, including himself, has stepped up during the world's time of needs.  

Perhaps, the host is right - Apple is to be applauded for its efforts.  After all, this is now Tim Cook's Apple.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Apple Watch and Ten Thousand Steps - Custom Metrics

Who here have not gotten started with a pedometer and than eventually graduating to a Fitbit or an Apple Watch to count the number of steps they’ve walked per day, probably with trying to hit the daily goal of 10,000 steps per day? And if you haven’t, you probably know someone who has a wearable device that counts the steps the wearer walks per day.  As an Apple Watch user, I would like to see Apple allow custom metrics in addition to the three circles many of us try to close on a daily basis.  And one of these metrics is the goal of hitting a specific number of active steps per day.

The calories ring means nothing to me.  Getting up 10 times a day is important to some folks who sit at a desk all day but for someone like me, who does sit at a desk all day, and I get up and move around 15 to 18 times a day, I rather have an alternative goal - instead of the standing metrics, I like Apple to give users an additional circle to close or to replace one of the circles with a set of other metrics. 

Maybe one of them can how many minutes of breathing you do (there is an app on the Apple Watch called Breath.  I find that to be a very useful app that I use through the day.  I rather have the steps goal as a metrics of my choice.  

Now, believe me when I tell you that the steps metrics is practiced almost like a religion among us who practice and live by it.  Why 10,000 Steps?  Probably social media. Or before that, it was what people tell each other or was told by someone at a gym.  Even before that?  Well, I would like to believe that it came from a bonafide medial study but it probably didn’t.  No one knows for sure but it might have originated from a Japanese pedometer in the 1960s that figured 10,000 in Japanese sounds pretty awesome and has cultural meaning.  

The adequate and minimum number of steps each person has to take varies.  It depends on the person, age, sex, diet, and the level of physical activity.  A friend has been doing 10K a day for more than 10 years.  Another friend practices months at a time, abandons it, and then picks it up again later and still came out to about 11K a day.  For me, as you can see from the screen shot I took from my phone, I averaged about 11.5K in 2019 and is almost 800 steps more a day in 2020 so far.  I found that I need to do an average of 12K a day to maintain or lose a pound here or there.  

On a personal level, hitting that 12K or more a day is uplifting.  And seeing my average go up as a result means more to me than standing on a scale trying to see where I am.  So, that why I guess Apple Watch wearers really try to close those three rings.  

If Apple wants to keep those three rings as they are now, fine.  But I would like to see an extra ring added for a customizable metrics.  

What do you think?  I think this is more feasible to do in the short run with a better return than wishing for the Apple Watch to have a week long battery life.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Your Phone or Tablet Breaks While Trying To Survive This Pandemic

Source: Slate.

You're at home. You're also a cord-cutter.  You might have other human contact in the form of a spouse or family.  Or perhaps roommate.  Your only connection to the outside world is your iPhone, Android device, or tablet.  You're doing fine provided that your Internet connection stays stable.  Then the unexpected and unfortunate thing happens:  your mobile device dies on you.  Maybe it just gave out or the screen gets broken.

Now what?

First, I feel for you. I'm sure this is not that common but it is not as uncommon as we expect.  The Slate post is about a man whose iPad screen cracked during California's statewide stay-at-home order.  He could not exactly head out to the nearest Apple store or the local mall repair kiosk right now.  Not next week or next month.  Not for a while.  We have no idea when stores or malls will reopen.  And when it does, you can expected there to be a lot of distancing policies and restrictions on the number of customers who can visit.  

So, while you can get still your devices repaired, like sending it in to have Apple, Best Buy, or a third party repair company fix whatever issue is ailing your iPhone, iPad, or Android device, I would certainly not call it convenient.  I find a quoted 5-day turnaround to be pretty fast but it is still 5 days without your link to the world.  Maybe you have a TV.  Maybe not.  I did not have a TV for years after mine broke.  

For a lot of people, their phones are all they have.  And not use getting news but what if your phone or tablet what you're using to stream music and video to help you or your family pass the time?  Your devices becomes all the more indispensable.   

If it has already happened, sorry to hear about it.  Again, I feel for you.  For others, perhaps now is the time to do what you can you protect your mobile device.  - get a case it a good start.  And if you can, get a screen protector.  Those are absolute musts at this time.  

An alternative is to get a cheap device as a backup or to replace your broken one.  You can get a tablet these days for less than $100.  Phones as well.  Not an iPhone or high-end Android device like the Pixel or the Galaxy but if it connects to the Internet, it's all you need to get by.  And there are third party sites that offer older generation or refurbished devices at a reasonable price.  My iPhone SE is a refub as is my laptop.  

But do it while you can.  

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Tim Cook and Apple Stepping Up: Twenty Million Masks (And Counting) and One Million Face Shields A Week

The Tim Cook led Apple is filling the role of the federal and state governments as the pandemic crisis is weeks from peaking.  Apple has sourced and delivered over twenty million medical masks and just announced today, Apple has delivered face shields to Kaiser and will be delivering up to a million more per week.

As an Apple fan, I cannot help but be proud of this iconic American company.  

I don't know what the cost to Apple is at this point and while I like to say that cost is not the issue here and it's stop the coronavirus pandemic at all cost, Apple definitely has taken the cost into account.  And while it's not much given Apple's bottom-line each day, month, quarter, and year, the good will Apple has built cannot be priced.  No matter what, Apple and other companies and a vast major of us on Main Street believes we will come out of this stronger.  

There have been a void in leadership at the top in the US, other countries, and international health organizations, it's good to see that we have other leader who will step up.