Being drawn out of the Apple ecosystem

I always like to share when I find a good product review, the balance between talking about the strengths, weaknesses and who benefits the most from said product. It was a review from a perspective of an iPhone user and it was great how he acknowledged the strengths of the Apple ecosystem whilst also acknowledging that if one isn’t as deeply invested into the ecosystem then it is possible to move from the iPhone to Samsung Galaxy S10 without missing out on anything.

The big thing that compels me is that I’m already very much invested into the Google ecosystem as well, my primary form of entertainment is via Google, all my searches are done through Google not to mention that I use Google Drive and Google Docs. There is also the fact that I am using the Chrome browser and I take advantage of the ability to install PWAs onto my desktop then add them to my dock. Although I like the idea of having native applications I find that, for example, the blogging application that I used to rely on didn’t handle embedding YouTube videos smoothly nor did it provide the ability to preview said video as part of the larger blog to see how it all fit in together without having to first post, view it then modify it.

Side note: It is interesting how the web browser these days has turned into a runtime platform – that the delivery of HTML5 technologies along with advances in javascript speed in browsers is delivering the sort of ‘write once, run anywhere’ that Java promised but never delivered as so far as desktop applications that end users not only used but actually wanted to use because they loved the experience (vs. just using them because they’re a necessary evil alongside taxes).

If you’re going to be a critic then have a clear understanding of the subject

I’m always amazed when I see people criticise Apple products and yet their criticisms are either half truths, straight out lies or a complete failure to give exact specific in favour of using vague terms about a product being ‘weak’ and ‘not up for the job’ thus leaving it to the listener/reader to guess as to what exactly the person is going on about. Here is a great video on YouTube regarding just this issue:

But I have to build on that video further because there seems to be a cottage industry of people being loose with the truth and only interest is hating on something because that is what all their friends are doing or that is what the ‘cool kids’ online are doing but here is the funny thing, when you actually corner them and demand an answer they slink away going, “I didn’t want to turn this into a debate”. Dude, you were the one making incendiary posts online and you’re surprised that it has received the attention it deserved? Are there genuine things to be critical about regarding Apple in terms of their products, services and general behaviour? Sure but you don’t need to make up stuff because ultimately it undermines your arguments – in much the same way that the obsession over ‘Russiagate’ has served to suck the oxygen out of the room when it comes to easily proveable problematic policies that actually impact the average person (see the EPA and Education appointments).

My frustration with the current discourse has nothing to do with defending Apple, Apple doesn’t need me defending them, they have a whole PR and marketing agency where they spending hundreds of millions are spent crafting a particular image. The issue I have are people who bullshit their way online and pollute the discourse to the point that no meaningful and fruitful discussion can take place thus undermining any possible reason for having a conversation in the first – for participants to share knowledge about topics that they’re knowledgeable about. That is the type of atmosphere I like to see when I join an online forum – reading through a discussion and because all those who are participating as honest actors, that knowledge can be shared and those of us reading can come away more knowledgeable. It reminds me of the ‘good old days’ of osnews.com where there were discussions comparing win32 threads to POSIX threads – the benefits and drawbacks of each approach. Yes, it was a debate but out of that debate you were able to see the arguments on both sides.

I have to admit, I gloated…

I know it isn’t a very mature thing to do but I can’t help but gloat when, after much hype and hysteria from the anti-Apple talking heads brigade, the whole edifice of hype regarding Samsung’s folding phone falls flat like a soufflé like a cupboard. I’m certainly not attacking Samsung because I think Samsung make some damn nice devices and products over all but rather I am gloating about the idiots who did their 10 minute videos on YouTube claiming that ‘Apple is dead’ and ‘Apple is in trouble’ because Apple isn’t some gimmicky foldable phone – a product that answers a question no one asked. I think that it is great that Samsung is pushing the boundaries and seeing what might work but what I find funny are the fanboys who went for good old gargle at the anti-Apple haterade fountain to get those clicks on YouTube. There are some good examples of just really, really horrible videos of people trying to ride the hate train to garnet more views so check out YouTube then come back.

So what am I talking about in reference to the Samsung Fold? this particular (link) provides a good overview. No, the Samsung Fold isn’t some ‘Apple destroyer’ as the talking heads on YouTube tried to make it out to be – when you’re things wrong then I think it is time to take at least a month off the internet to reconsider whether you know what you’re talking about before turning that microphone back on and start uploading videos again. (link)

Are there issues that Apple need addressing? yes but none of them have to do with the hardware but rather what is required is addressing issues with their software which really limit how far Ito the ecosystem they can go. Take the issue with extension – they introduced a new content blocking API which was promised to be more efficient but here is the problem, the content blocking as a limit of 50K rules which sounds a lot until you consider that the absolute bare basic setup using Ad Guard on Safari has 41555 rules simply if I enable the following rules: AdGuard Base filter, AdGuard Mobile Ads filter, EasyList, Peter Lowe’s list, AdGuard Spyware filter, NoCoin Filter List and AdGuard Safari filter. That is only a small selection that I had to limit because I was easily hitting the limit if I enabled a few more rule sets. Something like that needs to be addressed if Apple are serious about making there Safari extension platform something that developers want to target especially when you consider that the alternative is simply to tell users “download and install Chrome then install the extension on Chrome instead”.

Why does that matter? because the future of the Apple growth is going to depend on services which in turn is dependent upon the integration between the software (on the end users computer) and the cloud service. If for example that Safari does a half assed just in terms of an extension framework then combine that with the fact that it still trails in terms of HTML5 compliance thus leaving to a subpar experience when it comes to progressive web applications then it’ll be first step out of the Apple ecosystem. Whilst the end user has put their first foot out the door (they’re synchronising their bookmarks and passwords to the cloud so then everything synchronises between all devices) they start having a look around at what Google also have to offer – they’ve probably got a YouTube account already, maybe even a YouTube Premium subscription like myself, and it is a matter of going to Gmail.com to find that they can easily setup a Gmail account along with Contacts, Calendaring etc. then soon enough that person see’s that there is Google Drive and Google Photos – triple the space of what Apple offer and all free of charge.

So what is Apple’s trump card in terms of a point of differentiation when compared to what Google has to offer? privacy seems to be a card that Apple plays but there comes a point that all the privacy in the world isn’t come to offset the lack of functionality (compare iCloud when compared to what Google has to offer if one strictly just looks at Docs, Sheets, Slides along side Contacts, Gmail and so on. With all that being said I really have to ask how much stock the masses actually put into privacy given that even after a torrent of scandals relating to Facebook that there has been little to no impact on its user base numbers. To me it sounds an awful lot like the old story of people virtue signalling their outrage amounting to “I’m against bad things, I’m for good things” but beyond the public protestations that the simple reality is that the end user doesn’t really care all that much. In much the same way that when push came to shove with the impeachment of Bill Clinton, the average person didn’t care because it didn’t impact them directly. As long as the end user doesn’t see an obvious consequence then they’ll ignore those raising concerns as merely “overreacting”.

When I think about the issue if privacy, IMHO I think the greater concern isn’t Google but instead how the centralisation of data will become too tempting for governments not to take advantage of. This is one of the big philosophical differences between Google and Apple – where as Google would sooner centralise the crunching of data and delivery of services (for the sake of producing a better service for the end user), Apple wishes to keep as much of that on the device itself as to avoid the situation where their datacenter locations being a shortcut way for governments to get information their citizens not to mention the security implications of having a huge amount of personal information in the cloud that could be susceptible to hacking given that the end user is still the weakest link.

Side note: I’m sitting here using Chrome; there is a compromise one has to make in life if one wishes to get something accomplished. Yes, with Safari I have the benefit of a more lightweight browser and ‘greater privacy’ (as some proponents have claimed) but it means that it means giving up things like uBlocker Origin, Reddit Enhancement Suite and so on. At some point you have to ask whether what you’re giving up is worth what you’re gaining. As a side note to this side note, I noticed there are a large number of people who are YouTube creators that have a Mac for their computer but prefer running Chrome.

An organised home, and organised life

So I’m almost at the end of the week but on the good side I’m cramming as much overtime as I can in before I go on my break from 1 to 9 June this year – earn whole lot of money and use it to get myself into a better financial situation.  Basically if I can nail down 2 months of over time then that’ll get my closer to my goal and thus life is a lot easier for me in the long run.

Finished work tonight and finally got my act together in terms of completing some washing, hoovering the house, and other domestic chores to get the place in good order. Winter is going along with a vengeance but funny enough even tonight at 8℃ my house isn’t as cold as I expected since I’ve got double glazed windows doing a pretty good job to hold in the heat. When I get home tomorrow night/tonight after work I’ll fold everything up and organise my bedroom so it is more organised – an organised home is an organised life as they say.

Looking forward to WWDC with rumours that iTunes is going to be broken down into various parts – hopefully we’ll send up seeing it happen because god knows iTunes is trying to be everything to everyone resulting in a bloated convoluted piece of software that is only made worse the larger your music library gets. Regarding ripping, IMHO XLD does a lot better job.

There is also the other part that’ll make for interesting conversation and that is the removal of legacy components with 10.15 which makes me wonder what is going to happen in the case of XLD which makes references to QuickTime – given that is replaced with AV Foundation and AV Kit I hope that is work being done to shed that reliance on legacy technology so that in 6-7 months time that it’ll be all ready to run on 10.15.

Apple Pay supported at more banks!

Hot on the heals of ASB recently joining the fold of Apple Pay support (along side BNZ and ANZ) we have Westpac NZ recently join the fold on Tuesday which is inline with my speculation I had a while ago where Westpac will most likely keep their in-house NFC software for Android (their in-house NFC application is really sleek when compared to ASB where ASB tries to ram everything into a single application thus making the overall experience a lot more convoluted than if it were pushed off into its own application).  

Now, the big question is when does Kiwibank make the big move? Every since the giant core banking SAP fiasco where they planned to replace Ultracs with a SAP based core banking system they’ve been trying to move the organisation forward whilst cleaning up the mess as they go along. The situation hasn’t smooth sailing given that already this year I can think of 3 incidents where their Debit/Credit system when hay wire resulting in transaction double ups. There are rumours that whilst all that is being addressed that they’re working on a NFC client for Android but I’d say that like Westpac that they’ll also offer Apple Pay – to ignore Apple Pay would be business suicide because at this point it is a ‘must have’ requirement when deciding what bank to go with.

The big question is whether the banks that have their own ‘custom in house NFC apps’ will eventually move to Google as banks are at the moment looking at whether it makes sense having their own datacentre given that their primary focus is one delivering financial services whereby the datacentre is a means to an end when it comes to delivering services so does it make much sense replicating what already exists if for no other reason than saying, “we did it ourselves”? Westpac will probably move to Google in the long run just as they outsourced their datacentre to IBM when they migrated off the old Hogan system to Celeriti so part of that rationalising will be whether the expansion of what Google Pay can do and the limitations of their own payment solutions will eventually make moving to Google Pay a necessity.

macOS 10.14.4, iOS 12.2, tvOS 12.2 released and more

I was planning to stay up to watch the Apple Keynote that was scheduled for 6am today (Tuesday morning NZ time) so I decided instead to watch it after coming back from my sisters birthday party. Here is the link to the stream from Apple’s website (link). To be honest I ended up skipping through the video to get the major points but overall the whole thing was pretty boring – totally US centric with little consequence to someone like me living in New Zealand. I can’t blame Apple given that they’re very much at the mercy US based media companies run by old men who are over the hill and can’t grasp the idea of treating the world as a single market and using technology to sell directly to consumers (it is amazing how someone being paid $40million per year is still clueless about the internet).

I’ve installed macOS 10.14.4 from scratch on both my computers since I wanted to get rid of a whole lot of crap that had built up so I downloaded the latest build off the App Store and then created a thumb drive which I then uses to zero the drive then do a clean install. Apart from the system running a whole lot quicker without all the useless crap I installed I also noticed that both my iMac and MacBook Pro have had their Boot ROM upgraded which is probably part of the on going security efforts (and mitigating any possible performance penalties associated with the fix) that are being addressed through microcode updates.

On my iPhone XS Max I upgraded to iOS 12.2 and I noticed a slight improvement in the Safari performance but like macOS I’ve never had any issues (I use the Ad Guard extension which takes advantage of the more efficient content blocking API), the baseband has been updated to 1.04.30 – I haven’t noticed any difference but I guess that’ll be something I might pick up when I’m out in the real world using it.

tvOS was also released and it is as reliable as usual although I did notice that it might have addressed the issue where the television keeps turning back on again so I wonder whether that is part of the fix.

In terms of security, there are a lot of fixes (link) so it appears that the drive for improved software quality continues – great to see that Apple has realised that they dropped the ball and that they’re working on getting things back on track.

I’m looking forward to WWDC2019 so when I go to work tomorrow I’m going to put in leave from 1 June (my birthday) through to 9 June which will cover my birthday as well as WWDC where I can follow along each da and watch the various sessions about the upcoming changes/improvements that are going to be made to macOS. I’ll do my usual overview of the sessions I am interested in – I might even be motivated enough to watch the keynote but as noted before the one I’m always interested in is the Platform state of the union where the focus is more technical where as they keynote tends to be a high level overview that is more geared towards the technology press rather than someone like me who wants to know about the nitty-gritty details.

Side note: Yes I will be writing a post regarding the whole Mueller investigation soon.

Back to work tomorrow; Product refresh and sixth beta of iOS, macOS, tvOS and watchOS

Getting back to work tomorrow but happy to get back to work as things start to calm down – a whole new system and customers getting used to it is time consuming but gradually I’d say that as people become accustomed to the new system and the developers keep taking on the feedback it should hopefully mean that there are fewer rough edges. That being said, I’m happy with my work – a job is a job, money is money, and ultimately it is a means to an end so I can achieve what I want in my own spare time.

Apple recently released the sixth beta for iOS, macOS, tvOS and watchOS – it has been one heck of a journey given the number of beta releases but also keep in mind that part of this journey is the integration of biometric support into Safari which also includes a leap from 12.0.3 to 12.1 – reading through the release notes it appears that Apple has merged a lot of the changes from their technology previews into Safari resulting in a jump from 468 to 499 in the HTML5 test – although not as good as Chrome, which sits at 528. I am happy that Apple is taking its time to focus on not only implementing as documented but also ensuring that It is implemented in the most efficient way possible so that it doesn’t result in Safari becoming a battery hog like Chrome has become.

There is going to be an announcement on 25 March (US time) which makes me wonder whether it’ll be released in conjunction with that – that there are goodies that are dependent upon the up coming updates – maybe even features that have yet to merge will appear in a large beta build that have been getting tested internally. There are rumours regarding what will be announced with most of the big hitters like John Gruber and others have talked about Apple expanding its service side of the business along with greater investment into software (based on the job advertisements).