Genuinely excited over Apples this autumn

Yes, well, it’s been a good year with the James Grieve this year too and Jenny’s been kept very busy keeping up with the windfalls – we’ve now enough apple sauce and stewed apple to feed an army with apple crumble!

But, of course, I’m really talking about Apple’s September event and the announcements made about iPad, Apple Watch, Apple TV and of course the new iPhone 6s.

File:Iphone 6s.png - Wikimedia Commons

I can’t remember a set of announcements that (apart from the Apple Watch) I’ve been so excited about. I mean it! Whether that’s because I have an aging iPhone 4s and an iPad 2, or whether it’s because I’ve been waiting what seems ages for Apple to launch the new Apple TV – I can’t say. I do know I’ll be throwing ideas around in my mind for quite a while about the iPad , whilst I’m playing with the new iPhone 6s which I do intend to get.

The iPhone decision is quite easy to make. I decided to keep my 4s on iOS 7 – a good decision, it still works very well, and with a slimmed down set of apps there’s a good case to say – just keep going, use it as a phone, nothing else. However, for me, 3D Touch just looks like a huge step forward and I can see lots of developers making use of it and enhancing the experience of using the phone. Then there’s the new camera and it’s larger sensor. Live Photos looks really interesting and I’m already looking at Martin’s slo-mo videos taken on his iPhone 5/6 and thinking … that would be nice. So there you have it. I have to have iOS 9 and I have to have an iPhone 6s … but not the Plus – we are talking about a phone after all!!

So … the iPad. I made the decision to try iOS 8 on my iPad 2. Wish I hadn’t, it slowed down horribly and the experience is not relaxing as you wait as an app loads and wonder whether it’s going to, or not. So … I had made the decision NOT to bother to upgrade the iPad and to just use my MacBook Pro more, maybe upgrading that to a more portable MacBook next year, but two things have changed my mind, and left me with a dilemma that I think I’ve now resolved.

The children bought my mother a Kindle. Seeing it’s form factor and how easy it is for her to hold it in one hand made me realise that a smaller iPad COULD work for me. I’d always previously rejected the iPad Mini as I couldn’t see what it’s purpose was. This was even more the case when the iPhone 6 Plus came along, but it’s just too big to be a phone … isn’t it?

Then along comes the iPad Pro and suddenly something becomes really clear to me – there is a real use case for the iPad Pro. I can see myself watching videos, streamed media, editing photos on it and NOT on a MacBook … but not yet. It’s not the perfect device, and I’m not sure it ever will be until the Lightning connector is replaced by a USB-C connector. I’ve already blogged about this connector on the MacBook and I do seriously feel that this is the way forward for Apple.

When you’re taking pictures in RAW with a 36MP sensor, you’re talking about large files. I need to be able to save them on a portable disk if I’m going to take my iPad away on trips with me. I need a proper USB port to use and I don’t mean a Flash Drive. This storage also has to work with the software I’m using – Lightroom. So, I’m sorry, the iPad Pro will have to wait – even though it looks gorgeous and I’d love to have one.

So, the real surprise of the Apple Event was the underplayed (understandably I suppose) announcement of the iPad Mini 4. The specification has been ramped-up, it looks a really good reader with the Retina screen and I can hold a glass of wine in one hand and the iPad in the other whilst of course controlling the Apple TV with it. I think I’m sold on this device – will give it a look later today and maybe, just maybe, I’ll buy it!

So, last but not least, the Apple TV. Now Apple has a platform to make things happen on. This looks a really exciting development with the hardware being given an operating system – TV OS – that will allow the creation of apps that will revolutionise watching TV in your living room. It’s a real game changer – I will definitely be buying the large memory version when it appears in the shops in November.

Finally, why nothing nice to say about the Apple Watch? I’m just not convinced. I actually don’t wear a watch very often these days – probably something due to me being retired. I can’t see anything in it I couldn’t do without. I freely admit to possibly being wrong, but I think I can wait a lot longer, perhaps forever, to be convinced.

Obsolescence at 4 years old …

This is not a post exactly about …

… more one about …

I received an email yesterday (see below) from Amazon advising me that they couldn’t continue supporting their Instant Video app on my Samsung Smart TV/Blu-ray setup – and it’s not yet 4 years old! Come on now, that’s obsolesence gone mad, or laziness in the extreme.

To compensate they’re prepared to sell me an Amazon Fire TV player at discount price for a limited period. That’s very kind of them. In the email however they fail to suggest that anyone with an Apple TV can continue using Amazon Instant Video through their iOS app using AirPlay; they only suggest non-Apple and non-Google ways of watching content.

This smacks of opportunism at the very point that Apple are about to announce their fourth generation Apple TV.

Not impressed – Amazon Instant Video at £79 a year is getting less atractive – especially since Clarkson et al are about to land on the streaming service sometime next year.

In other technology developments in the household I’m pleased to report that BT Sport is a useful addition to the VirginMedia offering and that I’ve written a dummy’s guide on how to use all the controllers to manage the various pieces of kit attached to the Samsung TV and Mac Mini. I’m also finding the VirginMedia Anywhere app (on the iPad) a great way to manage viewing and recording to the new TiVo box we got earlier in the year which is now holding loads of music recorded from the new Sky Arts Channel which is also pretty good.

The email I received is below …

We’re writing to inform you that the Amazon Video app will no longer be available on your Samsung 2011 TV/Blu-rayafter midnight on 14th September, 2015.  We are sorry for any inconvenience that this may cause. We are continually upgrading our service and this can occasionally mean we are unable to support certain models of a small number of TV and Blu-ray devices.        

To continue to access Amazon Video on your TV after this date, you can connect a compatible streaming device (e.g. Amazon Fire TV, and Fire TV Stick) or games console (e.g. PlayStation and Xbox).

In recognition that we will not be able to offer you our application on your Samsung 2011 TV/Blu-ray, we would like to offer you an Amazon Fire TV for £39 (saving 50% on the RRP of £79). This product will plug into your existing TV and gives you access to our upgraded service so you can continue to watch the great range of movies and TV shows available on Amazon Video in your living room.”