124: There Are Always Gates


00:00:00   [Music]

00:00:08   From Real AFM, this is Upgrade, episode number 124. Today's show

00:00:13   is brought to you by Blue Apron, Eero, and Encapsula. My name is Myke Hurley,

00:00:18   and I am joined by Mr. Jason Snell. Hello, Jason Snell.

00:00:21   Hello, Myke Hurley.

00:00:22   How the devil are you today, sir?

00:00:24   Ah, very good, very good. Back another week in the saddle. Last week was tough because it was

00:00:31   come back from vacation time, but I'm settling in now. I'm in a much better state than I was last

00:00:38   week when we were talking after my, just like the night before flown back from vacation. I'm in a

00:00:44   better place now. Good. Follow-up this week is really peculiar. We have a smattering of things

00:00:50   that stretch back multiple shows?

00:00:53   Mm. Well, this happens this time of year where, you know, we have a lot of things that echo

00:00:58   from when we were doing show—because we did last week's show, but then we did, like,

00:01:03   we skipped a week because we had the upgrade-ies, and it happens. It's okay. It's January.

00:01:08   Weird stuff happens in January.

00:01:11   So the first thing is that last week we were talking about the Amazon Echo, and we were

00:01:16   discussing wake words and that kind of thing. And it turns out, I saw this from a friend

00:01:20   of the show, Joe Steele tweeted this from Amazon Fire TV News, which is a very niche

00:01:28   product website, that apparently the Amazon Echo is going to be receiving an update to

00:01:35   allow the phrase "computer" as a new wake word. Apparently there's some kind of Star

00:01:40   Trek joke in here?

00:01:42   Yeah, well that's how they talk to computers, right?

00:01:47   In Star Trek, it's just that.

00:01:50   It's computer and program or whatever.

00:01:53   "Hello computer!"

00:01:56   All of that sort of thing.

00:01:57   It's sort of a Star Trek reference.

00:01:58   "Computer" is a terrible wake word.

00:02:01   It would be triggered constantly.

00:02:04   I agree.

00:02:05   I agree and it's really weird.

00:02:11   I don't know whether they thought of this maybe as a joke,

00:02:14   if it's even a real thing, I'm not even sure.

00:02:17   We talked about this last time.

00:02:19   I feel that two-step phrases are the way you do this,

00:02:25   because then it's a lot easier to steer clear.

00:02:28   Like people were saying,

00:02:31   what if you are somebody with the name

00:02:34   of Amazon's digital assistant?

00:02:36   Amazon's wake word is that name.

00:02:38   There's no context to it.

00:02:39   you literally just say the name and there are lots of things that can set that off at

00:02:45   least with and I can name them now at least with Siri and Google you can't just say the

00:02:52   word you have to add a little greeting kind of word on the front of it and it's that two-word

00:03:00   phrase that triggers it and that's the way to do it so you know if Amazon wanted to make

00:03:06   it like "Hey computer" or "Hello computer" like "Scottie and Star Trek 4" or "Okay computer"

00:03:13   which would be very Radiohead, I would like that. That would all be good. I think Amazon

00:03:17   actually needs to provide that as an option for all of their triggers is some phrase that

00:03:23   is not just a name. I think that was a mistake when they did it. And at least as an option,

00:03:30   right? I mean, and again, the more options you've got here, the better, I think, in letting

00:03:34   people kind of customise for how they, you know, who they are and what their names are and how they

00:03:37   live their life. But I think I, yeah, yeah, it's weird though, because that's like a noun.

00:03:46   - Yeah. Well, James Thompson in the chat room has said that the PlayStation 4 uses the term

00:03:52   PlayStation to trigger its voice control. And I think that Xbox did Xbox, which was the problem

00:03:58   with that ad that we spoke about.

00:04:00   - Yeah, exactly.

00:04:01   - That's terrible.

00:04:02   I mean, as I say, I still stand by the fact

00:04:05   that I think that Amazon got it right by giving it a name,

00:04:07   like which was different to the product name.

00:04:10   But I do agree with you that it would be good

00:04:12   to have the two step, like two word phrase.

00:04:15   I prefer single word phrases because if you're talking

00:04:18   to this thing all the time, it's just nicer

00:04:20   to have the one word.

00:04:21   But I do agree it would be good

00:04:22   to have the choice of things.

00:04:25   And if Amazon seemed to be willing to add new wake words,

00:04:29   I don't think that this would be too difficult

00:04:31   as a thing to add.

00:04:32   - Right, and the dream is that you should be able

00:04:34   to give it whatever wake phrase that you want,

00:04:36   but it's not, the technology is not good enough

00:04:39   to do that yet.

00:04:40   - I agree.

00:04:41   Many weeks ago, someone wrote in,

00:04:44   I think their name was Steve,

00:04:45   and they were talking about having the larger

00:04:49   of the Apple TVs, you know, just like the 64,

00:04:51   I think, was it like 32 and 64, or is it 64 and 128?

00:04:55   I think it's 32 and 64, but I don't really know because it's never mattered.

00:04:58   Yeah, so there was a 32GB Apple TV and a 64GB Apple TV, and he wrote in kind of questioning

00:05:05   what that would be used for and if he was future-proofing himself, that kind of thing.

00:05:08   And at the time, this was, you know, maybe towards the end of last year, we kind of said,

00:05:13   "No, there is absolutely no point in having the larger of the two Apple TVs."

00:05:18   This has now potentially changed over the last few days.

00:05:21   I think Taylor last week, Apple announced to the developer portal that they are increasing

00:05:27   the size limit available for a downloaded application from 200 megabytes to 4 gigabytes,

00:05:34   which is a significant change. We've also now on demand resources. So these are the resources

00:05:41   that can download when you need them, which is great, can be 20 gigabytes. So it was 200

00:05:49   of

00:06:04   for when it's downloaded as opposed to downloading a small subset and then needing to immediately

00:06:09   dip into the 20 gigabytes of on demand resources.

00:06:14   I don't know why Apple have done this specifically.

00:06:17   I think that there is a reason that they have done it.

00:06:20   Like there is maybe a partner that they want to work with, because it's such a huge increase.

00:06:26   It feels like that there is a reason behind it.

00:06:29   Which do you know what I mean?

00:06:31   200 megabytes to 4 gigabytes is extremely significant as a change.

00:06:37   Yeah, it's gotta be that there's somebody, either they got feedback from some existing

00:06:46   partners or there's somebody who is coming that they're like, "Okay, we can do that for

00:06:51   you." They're being more vigilant about storage. Or, I guess you could also argue that another

00:06:58   Another factor may be that they're looking at the uptake of apps on Apple TV and realizing

00:07:02   that being quite that diligent at minding the storage space on these devices and being

00:07:09   concerned that everybody's apps are going to crowd the space, they may realize now that

00:07:14   that's just not happening and that they can loosen that and it's not a problem.

00:07:18   But whatever it is, this does make it a bit more viable for games.

00:07:22   I just hope that Apple is able to do something to try and lure people in because we're going

00:07:28   to talk about this a little later on in the show. The Apple TV app landscape is barren

00:07:33   at best right now.

00:07:36   So I will also, we'll put a link in the show notes to speaking of friend of the show, Joe

00:07:41   Steele, he wrote a blog post that includes both his analysis of the change in resource

00:07:48   caps and some what he likes to call rampant speculation about the Apple TV and Joe's theory

00:07:57   is that one of the things that they're going to do is that there's a new Apple TV coming

00:08:01   and maybe this is the 4K UHD HDR capable fancier model and it might be you know his his theory

00:08:11   here is allows them to drop the old Apple TV out of the price list move the current

00:08:17   generation down a slot and then bring in a couple new models with more storage

00:08:22   and support for UHD on top. So the 4K Apple TV version, maybe that's

00:08:32   something there. There are things about about size. I mean what Joe

00:08:36   suggests is maybe they actually will offer a first-party controller. I think

00:08:41   that's an interesting theory. I think one of the problems with games on Apple TV, I

00:08:45   I know they promote the Steelcase controller, right?

00:08:50   But it's not quite the same.

00:08:51   - They have a couple that they promote.

00:08:52   But see, the thing is about the controller,

00:08:55   and I've made this argument in the past,

00:08:57   it doesn't matter how good a third-party controller is,

00:09:01   to show you are serious about games,

00:09:03   you have to make one yourself.

00:09:06   Like, that is a commitment

00:09:07   to the seriousness of video games, right?

00:09:10   Which is, we believe in this and our platform so much

00:09:12   that we've put the engineering time

00:09:14   into booting our own controller.

00:09:15   Like it is a sign which is important.

00:09:18   - Yeah, friend of the show, Joe Steele reminds us

00:09:21   that friend of the show, James Thompson,

00:09:22   is the one who originated that theory, by the way.

00:09:24   And then Joe just blogified it and expanded upon it.

00:09:28   But I don't know, I mean,

00:09:31   one of the interesting things about Apple TV,

00:09:33   like you were saying too, is a lot of potential here, right?

00:09:37   And it's just not, you know,

00:09:38   Apple has been very limited in what it's doing.

00:09:40   So if it supported, you know, 4K,

00:09:43   And what if Apple did make an actual game controller

00:09:47   and was more aggressive in getting games built for it?

00:09:51   And there are lots of things they could try,

00:09:54   lots of things they could try,

00:09:55   and they haven't really tried a lot of them yet.

00:09:57   So maybe, and maybe this is a sign

00:10:00   that there's movement happening on the Apple TV front

00:10:03   that is, maybe this is happening out in front

00:10:06   of other changes.

00:10:07   I don't know.

00:10:08   - We'll see.

00:10:11   We also got some follow up about 5K displays. Now this is a conversation that has been long

00:10:16   running on this show as to what devices could and could not power these 5K displays, what

00:10:22   dongles would be needed, etc. And we had somebody who wrote in the US to be kept anonymous,

00:10:28   they're an Apple retail employee, and they sent us an image about how they are being

00:10:33   instructed to swap out existing displays for Mac Pros for the new 5K display. And he's

00:10:40   included or she is included the picture of the dongles that is yeah and the

00:10:47   cables that happening here now correct me if I'm wrong but what we're seeing is

00:10:51   a thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter, Thunderbolt 2 cable running to a Mac Pro

00:10:56   and it's working with the 5k display right?

00:10:59   yeah this is the how do you demo the fancy 5k display and the Mac Pro instead

00:11:07   of the old Thunderbolt display which has been discontinued and the answer is you

00:11:12   use a Thunderbolt 2 to Thunderbolt 3 adapter and then the Thunderbolt 3

00:11:17   adapter goes into the display and that works although I believe it doesn't work

00:11:22   at 5k 60 hertz I think it may be only works at maybe 4k resolution at 60 hertz

00:11:29   I'm not sure about the all the details it's not ideal but it does allow them to

00:11:34   to demo it in Apple stores. And I think it's also funny that we think of display out as

00:11:39   mini display port, but in this case, since it's actually taking the, what this monitor

00:11:46   wants is Thunderbolt, you need to use a Thunderbolt adapter. And then it does apparently work.

00:11:53   And this person, I don't actually know for sure if it is a man or a woman, but this person,

00:11:59   it's another friend of the show, let's say, a listener, an upgrade sent this in and had

00:12:03   telling us that this was kind of going on in the background about how they were going

00:12:06   to demo this stuff with the Mac Pro. And this is the solution and we got a photo of it sort

00:12:11   of like zip-tied together, this whole kind of adapter dance to get it to work at all.

00:12:17   I think it's kind of a miracle that it works at all, that you can attach that Mac Pro to

00:12:22   that thing and it will drive it at all, quite frankly.

00:12:24   Yeah, I mean, again, this isn't like a groundbreaking thing, but it's kind of tying up a loose end

00:12:29   that we weren't sure about, right? Which was, will this thing actually work? And the answer

00:12:36   is yeah, it will. So at least we know now. I'll put a link to the photo in the show notes

00:12:44   in case you're so inclined to want to check those things.

00:12:48   It is fascinating to me from the perspective of real world consequences of Apple's product

00:12:54   decisions. Like, Apple makes product decisions and we can say, "Oh, well that was interesting,

00:12:59   I understand why they did that. And then the fallout tends to be that the users have to

00:13:03   deal with the fallout, right? But with Apple retail, Apple retail has to also deal with

00:13:08   the fallout of weird things happening with Apple's product line. And this is a good example

00:13:12   of that where they've got Mac Pros that are three years old, but they've got demo stations

00:13:16   with them that were set up with a Thunderbolt display, but the Thunderbolt display got discontinued.

00:13:21   So now what do they do? And it's like, well, the 5K display, we want to display that. It's

00:13:24   beautiful. Okay, we can do that, but we can't really do that. So how do we, you know, we

00:13:28   adapt it and all of that. It's just a kind of a funny example where people who work for

00:13:33   Apple have to deal with fallout from Apple product decisions in a way that maybe, you

00:13:38   know, the people who are on the Apple campus in Cupertino don't have to deal with it.

00:13:43   I just used a workflow, a new workflow that I created for that image to remove photo metadata.

00:13:50   Oh, nice. So, I also included a link to that workflow in the show notes because why not?

00:13:56   But yeah, that was one that I worked on recently.

00:14:00   You just throw some photos at it and it will remove the metadata from them because I figured

00:14:04   this person wanted to remain anonymous and I would do my best to accommodate that.

00:14:09   So thank you anonymous listener.

00:14:11   We'll call them the upgrade tipster.

00:14:15   Oh my god.

00:14:18   Oh dear, this week's episode is brought to you by our friends at Blue Apron, a new sponsor

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00:15:32   best, which is really great. I heard you like "Yes"-ing in the background.

00:15:36   Yes, see, well so customizing is a big deal because we have some particular foods that

00:15:42   We don't eat in this family and then we've got some particular picky eaters in this family.

00:15:46   And so one of the great things about Blue Apron for us is that you can go on their website

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00:15:52   You're not locked into two meals.

00:15:54   For us it's two meals a week for four people.

00:15:56   Some people, I think you get three for two people.

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00:16:06   And you get to build your own menu of, in our case, the two meals that we want that

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00:16:40   then the next week you get the meals that you selected on their website. It could be

00:16:43   easier and for me that relieved a lot of my stress about what if they send us a food we

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00:18:24   Oh yeah. Free food!

00:18:26   I'm looking at two weeks out and my options are pesto shrimp, pimento cheeseburgers, spinach

00:18:32   and sweet potato quesadillas, and cashew chicken stir-fry.

00:18:36   We can't talk about this anymore.

00:18:37   It's like, I want all four. Can I have all four of those? And the answer is no, I need

00:18:41   to pick two. But what a choice I have to make there.

00:18:44   We're recording a little later than usual today and I haven't had my daily answer.

00:18:47   You a little hungry?

00:18:48   We can't talk about this anymore.

00:18:49   I haven't had my lunch either, so yeah.

00:18:52   Just a little topic we want to touch on very quickly, because it's big news, but it maybe

00:18:57   doesn't affect me and Jason so closely, which is the departure of Chris Latner from Apple.

00:19:03   Now I will say right now, if you are at all interested in this and have not listened to

00:19:08   this week's three-time upgradey award-winning podcast, the Accidental Tech Podcast, you

00:19:13   should go listen to Episode 204.

00:19:15   They go into a lot of detail explaining why Chris is important and what this could mean

00:19:20   for Apple and for the community of developers that are tied to Apple, right?

00:19:28   All right, I haven't listened to that one yet. Should I go listen to that now and then

00:19:31   come back? Yeah, you go take two hours and then I'll

00:19:34   keep going and then I'll see you at the end. Just keep talking. Just yeah, keep it, keep

00:19:39   the ball rolling while I'm gone and then I'll come back and tell you what I think about

00:19:43   ATP at the end of it. We're not developers either, you and I. We are people who think

00:19:49   about, write about, talk about technical things for Apple products and other stuff, but we're

00:19:53   not coders.

00:19:54   We are product-focused. We are the product-focused part of Apple kind of observing, whilst those

00:20:00   guys are more cody.

00:20:01   Yeah, I'm not gonna have a relationship with Swift and with Clang and LLVM that a developer

00:20:10   might have.

00:20:11   that Chris created basically. Most notably today he's the creator of Swift.

00:20:17   Yeah, he was sort of the first person working on Swift as it gained momentum and then, you

00:20:22   know, obviously all of these things have large numbers of people involved and that's something

00:20:26   that several people, including Chris Latner, said after it came out that he was leaving

00:20:30   that like there are lots of people working on this, it's not just him, you know, it's

00:20:35   not, he said it's not a problem. And in fact he's still going to, because a lot of this

00:20:40   is open source project stuff he's going to keep his hand in. But he is leaving Apple

00:20:45   and going to work at Tesla to work on, I believe they said, the software involved in the autopilot.

00:20:51   Yeah, he's going to become the SVP for the autopilot team.

00:20:56   Yeah, so first off, that's a pretty great step for him career-wise, and he's been at

00:21:03   Apple a long time. I think, you know, again, people should listen to ATP if they want to

00:21:09   hear those guys' perspective on it, because I think that's got to be – I'm looking

00:21:12   forward to doing that when I walk the dog later, probably. But I do think it's worth

00:21:17   mentioning it, because this is an interesting example, and there was somebody else who left

00:21:23   Apple for Tesla this week who's actually one of – this guy Matt Casebolt, who worked,

00:21:28   apparently, on the MacBook Pro, the new MacBook Pro that came out.

00:21:32   he was also the leader the MacPro team. The trash can MacPro, right? So I think there's

00:21:38   a bigger question we talked about before about brain drain at Apple and my first thought

00:21:43   and I read a Ben Thompson at Stratechery wrote a piece last week about I think just on his

00:21:49   email, I think not a public piece about this issue and he said you know there is the reality

00:21:56   of the fact that Apple is a company where you're maintaining incredibly profitable products,

00:22:07   and Tesla is a company where they are trying to build new things. And you know, you can

00:22:13   oversimplify that and overstate that because Apple's trying to do new things, the AirPods

00:22:17   are a good example of something that's very different, the Touch Bar is an example of

00:22:21   something that's got a lot of interesting things in it, but Apple as a company is a mature,

00:22:26   successful, incredibly profitable company that wants to keep raking in the profits.

00:22:31   And Tesla is a new company that's trying to do things in a category that's new.

00:22:35   And what I'm saying is that I think for some people, the opportunity, I mean, everybody's

00:22:42   got different career goals and everybody has a different mindset when they're thinking about

00:22:45   their job. But I think for some people, the opportunity to do something like work at Tesla

00:22:50   on that new stuff is going to be more appealing than kind of working within a large Apple

00:22:57   that is maintaining a customer base and a code base and trying to keep everything running.

00:23:03   It's a very different kind of environment.

00:23:05   And I could see how for some people, they feel like the job's done at Apple in some

00:23:10   ways and that there's this exciting new adventure to have at Tesla or other companies

00:23:15   like that and that that's why they step out on their own.

00:23:17   And I think that's a challenge for Apple is, and this is something that I know we've talked

00:23:22   about before too when we talked about Project Titan, the idea of doing an Apple car, it's

00:23:25   like you've also got a challenge of keeping your talented people at Apple.

00:23:29   If they want new challenges, you could put them on your new projects at Apple in order

00:23:34   to keep them, but even then the same thing has happened, which is the key products that

00:23:41   you have, that you do make money from, that you want to keep making money from, the iPhone,

00:23:45   the iPad, the Mac, the Apple TV, the Apple Watch, all of these things, there still is

00:23:51   the potential for a brain drain, because even if you're just moving them within Apple

00:23:55   to special projects, you're moving them off of what they were working on before.

00:23:59   So I do think, I don't think it's like the number one challenge facing Apple, but

00:24:04   I think it's got to be a challenge. And when you see two high-profile Apple people

00:24:09   who are responsible for building important parts of Apple's product foundation leaving

00:24:14   to go to Tesla, which is also really interesting, right, because they make cars, although, you

00:24:20   know what, they told us that cars are the ultimate mobile device, so I guess we should

00:24:23   listen. It's enough to make you notice and wonder what, you know, what the processes

00:24:30   are behind that.

00:24:31   Yeah, like, we've been talking so much recently about what the future of technology is, right,

00:24:36   and what Apple could potentially do for growth, and, you know, we've spoken about VR and

00:24:42   that kind of stuff, but car tech and self-driving tech

00:24:44   is another strand of technology,

00:24:47   which isn't personal computing,

00:24:48   but is a strand of technology,

00:24:50   which is one of the things in our current purview

00:24:54   that could be the future, right?

00:24:56   Like it's one of the things

00:24:58   that a lot of companies are taking bets on

00:24:59   because they believe it could be the future,

00:25:01   including Apple.

00:25:03   But the company right now who is leading that charge

00:25:06   is Tesla.

00:25:08   And if you're interested in working

00:25:10   in the future of technology, they are a company to move to.

00:25:14   And one of the things that, you know,

00:25:17   I was talking to Marco Almond about his Tesla on our trip.

00:25:21   And one of the things that he kept mentioning to me

00:25:23   was that how interesting a car it was,

00:25:25   because they were not held back

00:25:29   by an existing infrastructure of building a car, right?

00:25:32   - Yeah. - So everything was new.

00:25:34   And this is the same for Apple.

00:25:36   Apple already has an institutional way

00:25:39   of building products.

00:25:41   - Yes.

00:25:41   - Even though it's a car,

00:25:43   it's still gonna be built in the Apple way.

00:25:45   And if you're bored of that,

00:25:47   it doesn't matter what they move you to,

00:25:50   it's still gonna be the Apple way of doing it, right?

00:25:53   Like bugs for the car will go through radar, right?

00:25:56   Like all of this stuff is just their institutional way

00:26:00   of building products.

00:26:01   And if you don't wanna do that anymore,

00:26:04   like just moving to a different team is not new.

00:26:09   And so I don't, I can't reconcile in my head

00:26:13   if this is an Apple problem or just a people problem,

00:26:18   which Apple could never fix.

00:26:20   But I can't work it out in my head as to whether it's like,

00:26:23   do people just want to work on new things

00:26:25   or do people want to get away

00:26:26   from Apple's way of making things?

00:26:28   And I think it could be a little column A,

00:26:30   a little column B,

00:26:31   but it doesn't mean that Apple is bullied.

00:26:34   It just means that they're like,

00:26:38   But a lot of these people that came into this company maybe joined when Apple is a little

00:26:42   bit more of the scrappy underdog.

00:26:45   Maybe a lot of people don't like that.

00:26:47   They're like the biggest company in the world right now because that brings a lot of baggage.

00:26:52   And I can see why people might want to move to Tesla who are the scrappy underdog in their

00:26:57   world in the car world.

00:26:59   I think the car thing, it's also important to say there are lots of other companies that

00:27:05   are working on car tech.

00:27:08   The difference is what you said, which is they're car companies. They're old car companies.

00:27:13   And they may be trying, "Oh, no, but we've got this new division and we put a team together

00:27:17   in Silicon Valley." But in the end, you're still working for Ford or Nissan or whoever

00:27:24   you're working for. In the end, you are not working. And if you're a Silicon Valley person

00:27:30   like Tesla, my impression is, is run much more in a more familiar fashion. It's a Silicon

00:27:36   Valley company that makes cars. It's not a car company that's got an outpost in Silicon

00:27:39   Valley. I think the larger issue for Apple, yeah, is these are -- you're looking for

00:27:45   very talented, highly technical people who should be thinking like Apple is like the

00:27:48   ultimate job for them. But the problem is there are lots of really interesting companies

00:27:54   in Silicon Valley, so there's a lot of competition for that sort of talent. I do wonder sometimes,

00:28:00   and we've already seen it with how Tim Cook has reversed a lot of the things that were

00:28:04   going on in the Steve Jobs era where it was like, "No, no, it needs to happen in Cupertino."

00:28:09   It's like, you can't do that anymore. You can't make everybody move to Cupertino, and

00:28:14   they're not doing that. They've got centers in lots of different places in the world now,

00:28:19   and they have to keep doing that too because they need more talent, and they're not going

00:28:22   to get all of their talent to move to the mothership. They're going to have to be in

00:28:26   other places. I do wonder sometimes about the corporate culture at Apple too, and I've

00:28:32   I've heard lots of different things. I've talked to a lot of people. You know, obviously

00:28:38   the people who work at Apple are a lot more circumspect about this than people who have

00:28:42   left Apple or have never been to Apple. But the impression I get is Apple is still kind

00:28:48   of a hard place to work, especially if you're in these product groups. And that, you know,

00:28:53   you're expected to devote your life to Apple. And a lot of Silicon Valley companies are

00:29:01   like that but you know. Yeah I don't think that that is a unique thing to them. I mean

00:29:07   not every sort of company will work that way but I would expect Google is the same and

00:29:12   Microsoft is the same. Yeah but not every company is like that and I guess what I'm

00:29:16   saying is there is a time when you can afford to work your employees to death and or to

00:29:24   near death and you can afford to make them all move to California and you can afford

00:29:30   to put them on projects that are not the hottest and most cutting-edge products, but hey, they're

00:29:36   working at Apple and that should be enough. Yes, you're working on the Apple TV, but you're

00:29:42   at Apple and you're in California and that should be enough. And I think it may be that

00:29:48   Apple is not at that point anymore, where it needs to be, and I think you see it with

00:29:53   the geographic diversity, for example, that it needs to open things up a little bit, because

00:29:59   you don't want to do is make Apple a place where the best and brightest don't want to

00:30:03   work. But it's a challenge, right? Because I've said this before, I know I did it a couple

00:30:09   of years ago, and I'll say it again, with no malice toward some of my former colleagues

00:30:15   at all, but when I was hiring people to work at PC World, it was very hard, especially

00:30:23   junior people, it was very hard to find people. And you're like, "Oh, well journalism and

00:30:27   in tech journalism, everybody wants to get a leg up in tech journalism, right? There's

00:30:30   so many people out there, it's such a tough business to be in. We had a very hard time

00:30:34   hiring people for PC World. Why was that? It's like, it was not perceived as a good

00:30:38   career move to write about Microsoft and PCs, like that was considered old tech. I could

00:30:43   get a whole lot of senior level people who've been covering PCs for decades who wanted to

00:30:49   work at PC World. But in terms of junior level, entry level people, it was very hard to find

00:30:54   people with that level of experience.

00:30:55   They were applying to Macworld, right?

00:30:57   They didn't, yeah, they wanted to be at Macworld or TechHive or they were going to work at

00:31:01   Engadget or Gizmodo or CNET or The Verge or something like that, right?

00:31:05   There was kind of a hierarchy of how excited people were about it, but PCWorld was not

00:31:10   on the list.

00:31:11   And we found some great people who were legitimately enthusiastic.

00:31:14   It's not like you can't find them, but it's way harder to do it.

00:31:18   And I think about that sometimes when I think about Apple and saying, "Hey, we want you

00:31:21   to work on the Mac, which is our fourth priority here. You want to get somebody who either

00:31:28   says, "Hey, I'm working at Apple. This is a good place to start. We'll see where we

00:31:31   go from here." Or they say, "I love the Mac. It doesn't matter to me that you guys are

00:31:35   working on the iPhone. Let me add it. I want to do that." I think the problem is that you're

00:31:39   not going to get as many people who are going to say, "I love the Mac. Let me add it." And

00:31:43   they're rather going to say, "Do I really want to specialize in the Mac? I hear it's

00:31:47   kind of fading away. I really don't want to take that job. I want to take this other job."

00:31:52   So you know, it's a challenge running a big company and dealing with talented people and

00:31:56   trying to recruit people. So that, I think, as an outsider, I look at it and I'm like,

00:32:03   "Wow, what an incredible job it must be, and incredibly hard job it must be, for hiring

00:32:10   at Apple in general, and in Silicon Valley in general, I would say." Because you do have

00:32:14   such competition and you're trying to make these people happy. And you can pay them well,

00:32:20   but the problem is everybody else can pay them well too. So just paying them well is

00:32:23   not enough. You have to pay them well and you have to make them feel like they're

00:32:27   doing something that furthers their career and keeps them interested. And everybody else

00:32:32   is trying to do that too. And it's a hard problem. And when the person who created the

00:32:38   language that you're basing the future of your platforms on leaves your company to go

00:32:44   work at essentially a competitor. Before it's considered to be complete. Yeah, even if it's

00:32:50   all above board and this really is like Chris Latner wants to make a change that's better

00:32:56   for his family, that's better for his career, he feels like there are no more mountains

00:33:03   to climb at Apple and he wants to move on to something else, even if that's all true,

00:33:08   still really hard to swallow if you're Apple and you can't look at it any other way. This

00:33:14   is a key person building key technology who decided for whatever reason that the grass

00:33:20   was greener somewhere else. And that's tough because for every Chris Latner, there are

00:33:25   a whole bunch of other people who are not as visible who are in exactly the same sorts

00:33:31   of situations. And not just Apple, every tech company, but it's just, it's tough. It's

00:33:37   tough.

00:33:38   All right, moving on. For the second year in a row, you have conducted the Six Colors

00:33:45   Report Card of Apple's year. Can you explain a little bit about what this project is and

00:33:50   why you began it?

00:33:52   Yeah, so a year and a half ago maybe I got an email from somebody who, well it was it was

00:34:04   Koivin, the designer who I think works at Adobe now, anyway saying I had this idea and I've never

00:34:10   done it, maybe you could do it now that you're doing six colors and it is ask a bunch of people

00:34:16   who comment on Apple to give to give Apple a grade at the end of the year, like what do they do well,

00:34:21   well, what did they do poorly? I think this would be cool and I'd like somebody to do

00:34:26   it and if you think you can do it, then I'll stop going to other people and asking them

00:34:31   if they would do it." And I said, "Sure, that sounds like a great idea." And four

00:34:35   or five months pass and it's November of 2015 and I do a survey and I email a couple

00:34:43   dozen people and do a report card about Apple. And so this year was the second year, second

00:34:52   annual Myke, second annual.

00:34:53   Myke: I did think about saying that.

00:34:55   Chris: And I was able to, I expanded the panel, I asked more people and in the end sort of

00:35:02   like the people who responded are the people who are on the panel, but I did ask a larger

00:35:06   group, I think it was almost 50 people I asked and I got three dozen responses, to grade

00:35:13   Apple on a 1 to 5 scale and also leave any comments they had. And the comments were really

00:35:19   voluminous and thoughtful, and so I quoted them at length this year and even had a link

00:35:25   to all of their verbatim comments because some people wrote a whole lot of stuff. And

00:35:32   I thought it was interesting in just getting a read. Again, it doesn't mean anything

00:35:36   on one level. The grades and the scores are arbitrary, although a lot of stuff gets washed

00:35:43   out by averaging out 37 scores. You kind of get an idea of the general vibe of the group.

00:35:55   And I got to compare it with the votes last year, which was also really interesting because

00:35:59   we got to see for the first time how the scores changed from year to year.

00:36:04   Now you sent me the report card, but I told you that I wasn't going to complete it because

00:36:08   I wanted to give my scores on the show instead. So what we're going to do today is I want

00:36:16   to break down, I want to go through basically all of the topics and all the categories.

00:36:21   And I've pulled out some quotes that I think are interesting, so I want to talk through

00:36:25   some of those and then I'll give my scores as well. I know that you are, you're kind

00:36:30   of standing back from all of this as the overseer, the adjudicator.

00:36:34   Yeah, that was my that was sort of my goal was to get everybody else's scores and comment

00:36:40   on them sort of like round them up but not participate so I didn't vote.

00:36:47   So this year we start with the Mac. The Mac was scored a C- with an average score of 2.6

00:36:53   a median score of 3. This is down from last year where it was scored a B overall. John

00:37:00   Councillor O'Keele says the Mac was neglected. A horrid year says Rob Griffiths. Hardware

00:37:05   wise 2016 was an awful year for the Mac says John Gruber. But Casey Liss, our lovely friend

00:37:10   Casey Liss who believes the situation isn't as bad as everyone thinks says that he thinks

00:37:14   some of the angst is overblown. Now my score for the Mac this year, I think I'm going to

00:37:20   give it a two out of five. Now I do not believe that the future of the Mac is as bleak as

00:37:30   and

00:37:51   I think that I made a prediction on connected that I will stand by that.

00:37:56   I don't think that the Mac Pro will exist next year in the way that we know it to, but

00:38:00   I feel that there is a chance that Apple make a significantly more powerful iMac to take

00:38:06   its place.

00:38:07   So I think that all of – my personal belief is that next year everybody will be served

00:38:12   by something.

00:38:13   But that –

00:38:14   So you mean this year?

00:38:15   This year, sorry.

00:38:16   Yeah, 2017.

00:38:17   In 2017, there will be a brighter future for the Mac,

00:38:22   but 2016 was a terrible year of Mac product releases.

00:38:26   - Oh yeah.

00:38:27   - There were very few, there were many drawbacks,

00:38:29   and the prices were too high.

00:38:31   Too many products were left basically

00:38:33   to just die on the vine,

00:38:34   and the replacements kind of weren't sufficient.

00:38:38   So, you know, the fact that there were releases

00:38:41   got it a point, you know?

00:38:42   So like, I'm gonna give it a two out of five,

00:38:45   which I think is fair.

00:38:46   Because I would say the MacBook that I bought, I really, really, really, really like it a

00:38:51   lot, but I know that it's my very specific needs for it.

00:38:56   So I can't use that as my overall grading because I know that most people do not find

00:39:02   the MacBook to be a sufficient replacement for any type of computer for them because

00:39:05   it's underpowered.

00:39:06   The—a lot of the comments that I got were about the MacBook, although it was just a

00:39:14   small update that you know it was there the macbook pro updates although controversial a lot

00:39:20   of people have you know used them and like them or like things about them and there were a lot of

00:39:26   positive again nothing was universally positive or negative everything that i found a positive

00:39:30   comment about i found a negative comment about almost other than like apple's commitment to

00:39:33   privacy but other than that um everything was kind of split so um i will say that i was surprised at

00:39:41   the number of people who said who cited Sierra as an example of positivity on the Mac that they

00:39:47   thought that that was also part of the sort of like among the good things Apple did this year

00:39:51   that they thought that was a fairly gentle software update and that they they said positive things

00:39:56   about it. I thought that was interesting. There are other comments about it too that especially

00:39:59   came back in the software section. I think two is a fair score. It was a bad year for the Mac.

00:40:03   Almost nothing got updated. I think you know the median score was a three. Most of the scores were

00:40:10   were a 3 because that's the medium, but 2s were very common as well and the average

00:40:16   was a 2.6. So yeah, it was what I called a C-. It could have easily been, I suppose,

00:40:22   a D+ kind of thing in terms of a grade point average. But last year, the Mac got a B. Last

00:40:28   year people were feeling pretty good about the Mac and this year, they were not. Big

00:40:31   surprise there, they were not.

00:40:34   This week's episode is also brought to you by Eero. These days, everything in our homes

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00:40:53   in between. What stitches them all together is Wi-Fi. But there are some things about

00:40:57   Wi-Fi that are just fundamentally broken. Inconsistent speeds, being slow and unresponsive,

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00:42:05   regards to some other products like this that you've installed in your home?

00:42:08   - Well, I would say that this is the most Apple-like of any of the

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00:42:19   the app, and it says, "Let me find your Eero, and let me configure it," and if there needs to be a

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00:43:28   Move on to the iPhone.

00:43:30   The iPhone this year was graded a B+ or an A-, an average and median score of 4.

00:43:35   Last year it was graded an A. It is still in the scorecard, the best performing category.

00:43:42   Corey.

00:43:43   Yes.

00:43:44   Marco Almond said the iPhone SE was unexpectedly great.

00:43:47   I think people forgot that the SE was this year.

00:43:49   I think that might have been boosted the scores further.

00:43:51   Yeah.

00:43:52   Like a very long time ago.

00:43:53   I know it was.

00:43:54   The 7 and 7 Plus mostly overcame their seemingly pointless headphone jack removal with substantial

00:43:59   camera upgrades, small but welcome battery improvements and surprisingly compelling new

00:44:04   black finishes.

00:44:06   Christina Warren said we definitely need the major redesign to happen in 2017.

00:44:11   Apple can't count on its biggest competition blowing up upon itself two years in a row."

00:44:16   I loved that comment.

00:44:18   Yeah, she went on in a verbatim, she goes on in a lot more detail, but basically it's

00:44:23   like Apple, what she said was, "Apple really dodged a bullet here."

00:44:27   The Galaxy Note 7 actually looked fantastic, like the best phone, and it blew up.

00:44:34   Like literally caught on fire to the point where it is now a joke.

00:44:38   and like we said, worst product of the year. And what she says is, that was really lucky

00:44:43   for Apple to have this year where they kind of did a third iteration of the iPhone 6 in

00:44:48   large part, and they got away with it in part because their toughest competition basically

00:44:56   fell on their face. But that's not going to happen again, and Apple can't count on

00:45:01   that. So, game on for 2017. I thought that was a solid piece of analysis.

00:45:05   I'm going to score the iPhone a 3.5.

00:45:08   You don't get to do that.

00:45:09   Pick 3 or 4, Myke.

00:45:10   Pick 3 or 4.

00:45:11   3.

00:45:12   Alright.

00:45:13   Now, I would mostly expect the iPhone to hit a 4 on this scale every year.

00:45:17   I think that in recent memory, I would have graded all iPhones a 4.

00:45:23   Right?

00:45:24   That's where I would have gone.

00:45:26   is to hit a 5 out of 5 in today's market in the iPhone would be a serious jump that I

00:45:35   think is unfair for us to predict or desire from the company. For them to make the perfect

00:45:41   iPhone or to make such a jump that it would go up to a 5 I think is unrealistic because

00:45:47   of the age of the iPhone and the revision of the iPhone. Like the original iPhone was

00:45:51   a five out of five, right? Because it was such a huge jump.

00:45:56   It was the difference between rating a product and rating Apple's performance in the product

00:46:00   category. I think if Apple revised all the iPhones in 2017 and there was a brand new

00:46:05   industrial design and the SE got a new design that was cutting edge, I can see scenarios

00:46:12   where I would give the iPhone a five out of five still if they did everything and there

00:46:16   was a major release. But you're right, it's a hard standard. Not a lot of fives, not a

00:46:21   lot of ones right in in reality most people are going to you know five-point

00:46:26   rating system we're going to give a two three or a four yeah the median score

00:46:29   for the iPhone was a four it went down slightly and I think that was sort of

00:46:34   headphone jack and not not big changes kind of stuff but it's still a very good

00:46:38   score because Apple does a good job I just can't give a four to the seven I

00:46:42   just I just can't I got it you know I left for three left over so I got a lot

00:46:47   great features, we all got a lot of great features, but I said this before, they took things away and

00:46:53   it doesn't seem to add any immediate benefit. There is no benefit for the headphone jack being

00:46:58   removed. There just isn't. We were in Hawaii, I was very clever. I brought my little mini plug and

00:47:06   the adapter for the iPhone 7, knowing that we would have a rental car that probably would have

00:47:10   an aux jack in it and we could use that to listen to music while we were driving around the island.

00:47:15   And I also brought out of our car, I brought the power adapter for the car power adapter.

00:47:22   And I plugged them both in and we were headed to our destination and I realized,

00:47:28   "Oh, I can't use both of these." So we listened to music for a while while we were running the GPS

00:47:34   and then I was worried about the battery so then we stopped listening to music and I charged it.

00:47:38   And I just had that moment of like, "Oh, there's the iPhone 7 for you. I can't do both of these

00:47:43   things with my readily available connectors. I would need to buy some other adapter for

00:47:48   this very specific use case and so I just didn't and it was just one of those things.

00:47:54   It's like most of the time it doesn't really bother me but then every now and then I go

00:47:57   "oh right"

00:47:58   I want to just compare that to the MacBook Pro real quick because there are a lot of

00:48:04   the same frustrations there right like they took all of the ports away that we were used

00:48:07   to and they replaced them so like every now and then you'll run into a scenario where

00:48:11   like you need a charger and you don't have the charger you only have the old chargers or you

00:48:15   have an sd card you don't have an adapter that kind of thing so it's frustrating but there is

00:48:19   an argument to be made that USB-C will be better than what we had before right and that it's just

00:48:26   going to take a little bit of time there is no argument to be made about the removal of the

00:48:30   headphone jack in that same way like they're just i just can't see one it's like oh but lightning

00:48:36   will be better in the future. No, Bluetooth already existed. Removing the headphone jack

00:48:42   did nothing for Bluetooth. The removal of the headphone jack is just a negative. There

00:48:48   is no reposit to it. I just can't see one. And for that reason, this time, I will knock

00:48:54   the iPhone for it. Next time, I'm not going to because it's just where we are. But I think

00:48:59   for this phone, for me, I've, over the time, I'm not angry about it anymore, but I just

00:49:06   can't objectively say that the 7 was better than the 6 in every single way because it

00:49:11   introduced a new thing which was weird stuff which we never had before. So 3 for me.

00:49:17   Plus you know, I want a new design, I just want one. I can't help it.

00:49:23   Let's move to the iPad though because I think I'm more positive than most people I think

00:49:28   in this. The iPad was graded at B-, an average score of 3.4, a median score of 3 with last

00:49:34   year at a B+ so it went down a tad. Marco says again "The release of the 9.7"

00:49:40   iPad Pro is absolutely stellar, providing a huge upgrade of no downsides to the mainstream

00:49:45   iPad that's ideal for nearly everyone." An important person to comment on this would

00:49:50   be Federico Fatici and Federico said "Apple had little to show for iPad users in iOS 10,

00:49:56   and while the 9.7" iPad Pro is loved by many people I know, I don't use it and I still

00:50:01   think the bigger pro is better suited for my work.

00:50:04   Sean Blonge said "My next MacBook will be an iPad Pro"

00:50:10   David Sparks said "Having used an iPad as a laptop replacement for several months, it

00:50:16   feels like the hardware is there but the software still lags behind. iOS limitations with simple

00:50:21   things like saving multiple files needs to be addressed for the platform to move forward."

00:50:26   Renee Ritchie of iMore said "While Apple is finding its groove with technology like

00:50:29   the Apple Pencil and the Smart Keyboard case, they're still not telling a compelling story.

00:50:35   I don't agree with that from Rene, actually.

00:50:38   I think it's really interesting that he thinks that the story of the iPad is part of the

00:50:44   problem.

00:50:45   It is very peculiar for me and Rene to sit on opposite sides of something like this.

00:50:51   I feel like I'm one of the only people that loved the supercomputer advertising campaign

00:50:57   for the iPad Pro but I think that that package, the pencil, the smart keyboard and the iPad

00:51:04   is the ultimate computer in my mind for the vast majority of people that need a computer.

00:51:11   So I am scoring the iPad 4 so I'm going to be scoring higher than the average because

00:51:18   the 9.7 inch iPad Pro may be my favourite computer of all time.

00:51:23   When paired in the configuration I have it with the Apple Pencil and Logitech Create

00:51:27   keyboard, even with the Smart keyboard though, I struggle to prefer any device more than

00:51:32   that one.

00:51:33   I love my 12.9 but the 9.7 is better in more scenarios than the 12.9.

00:51:40   I was just travelling over the weekend and I had my 9.7 with me and I was working on

00:51:44   the train.

00:51:45   The 12.9 on the train that I was on, it would have been too cramped.

00:51:51   I wouldn't have really had enough space for it on the tray table but the 9.7 fits perfectly.

00:51:58   I love it. Now the only thing that was holding me back, because I would have given it a 5

00:52:03   this year because I think the iPad took such a jump in hardware performance in 2016 with

00:52:09   the 9.7 Pro which I think took everything that the 12.9 had and made it better. The

00:52:15   "Oh gosh, that screen!" You know, with the True Tone, it's just incredible. But the

00:52:22   poor performance on iOS for the iPad this year held it back for me. The fact that all

00:52:27   the iPad got was a version of, and in some cases a half-baked version of what the iPhone

00:52:33   got is not enough. And I have hope for 2017. You know, I'm still holding out for the

00:52:40   Spring event to bring fantastic new iPads as well as new great advancements

00:52:45   of software but I have to grade 2016 a little lower than I would have wanted to.

00:52:49   Yeah I think that's the challenge of of constraining to a calendar year is we

00:52:55   also don't get to pick up you know that the 10.9 inch iPad Pro or 12.9 inch iPad

00:52:59   Pro was last year was was was 15 not 16 so you can't you can't calculate that

00:53:04   into it. I think it's fair to ding Apple both years, but you know now we didn't

00:53:11   know about the iPad Pro in 2015 when the first iPad Pro came out, but now that we

00:53:16   we've seen it and in 2016 the 9.7 came out, you've got to ding it also ding

00:53:21   Apple for being so inconsistent with that product that the two iPad Pros are

00:53:26   both like different in a bunch of different ways. There's no top-of-the-line

00:53:29   line iPad. I'm hoping again for 2017 that we'll get two new versions of the iPad

00:53:35   Pro at least and that they will be synced up on features like the True Tone

00:53:39   display for one and USB 3 data transfer speeds and fast charging for another but

00:53:45   right now they're kind of like you know you can pick your poison and I like that

00:53:49   9.7 inch iPad Pro but I wasn't it wasn't I didn't switch to it right like I I'm

00:53:55   very happy with the larger iPad Pro myself, although the 9.7 has a lot going

00:54:00   for it and I think is a much more mainstream product. In the end, I agree

00:54:03   with you. It comes down to the software. iOS 10 didn't do anything for the iPad,

00:54:08   essentially, and you know, a couple of minor features, but there are glaring

00:54:12   problems with the iPad features introduced in iOS 9 that weren't

00:54:16   touched in iOS 10, and we can be hopeful for a 10.3 or whatever that addresses

00:54:21   them, but that's going to be 2017, so it doesn't count.

00:54:24   I also believe if you're hoping for consistency and clarity in the iPad line in the spring,

00:54:30   I think it's going to get worse, honestly.

00:54:32   But by getting worse will make the overall product line better.

00:54:36   This 10.9-inch iPad, I am very – I will use a Tim Cook term – very bullish on that

00:54:41   thing existing.

00:54:42   Yeah.

00:54:43   But that will confuse the line more.

00:54:46   Well, if there are more options in the line, I do think that could be fine for the product

00:54:53   line. My challenge is if you've got three iPad Pros and all of them have

00:54:59   slightly different feature sets, that's weird. Now it may be that we end up with

00:55:04   a 12.9 and the 9.7 in sync and then this other one that's out of sync, but I

00:55:11   would hope they all have true tone displays. I would hope that they all have

00:55:15   USB 3.0 speed if, you know, if they don't go to some weird new USB whatever or, you

00:55:22   I don't even know what they're going to do, but I would hope that they would sync as much

00:55:26   of that as possible so we just know this is what an iPad Pro does instead of now where

00:55:31   it's like a little bit here and a little bit there.

00:55:33   So move on to the Apple Watch, which was graded a B with an average score of 3.7 and a median

00:55:39   score of 3 up on last year where it was graded a C. Dan Morin said, "It's a testament to

00:55:44   2016 as a weird year when the Apple Watch is one of the bright spots in the company's

00:55:48   up.

00:55:50   Fraser Spears went on to say that watchOS 3 essentially delivered a whole new watch.

00:55:54   I'm going to go out on a weird limb here I think and go over 4 for the Apple Watch for

00:56:00   2016.

00:56:03   The watch still has a way to go, but Apple delivered more than I was asking for and expected

00:56:09   in 2016 from the Apple Watch which is why I've gone as high as I've gone.

00:56:14   They made some fundamental changes to watchOS that made it more usable which clearly gave

00:56:18   us the indication that the engineers spent time reworking after finding the pain points.

00:56:25   Right, like it was so obvious that watchOS 3 was a response to living with the watch

00:56:31   in its, in its like, in its original form.

00:56:34   There were so many things that were improved by it and the series 2 watch which I do own

00:56:40   now, I don't know if I mentioned it on this show, I've had one for a couple of months

00:56:43   because I had some issues with my Series 1 watch which was 100% caused by me. The screen

00:56:50   is fantastic. The battery life is nothing short of remarkable and everything, everything

00:56:59   feels even more snappy on the Series 2. So the pairing of the watch Series 2 and OS 3

00:57:07   it a significantly better product than the Apple Watch Series 1 running at OS/2. So I'm

00:57:14   going to go with 4 on that.

00:57:16   Yeah, well it's, I mean, it is a, the median score was a 3 but there are a huge number

00:57:23   of 4s and 5s that came in because the average score is very high and I would say this was

00:57:30   a very popular category. It was the highest gainer among Apple product categories in the

00:57:38   survey. And you know, Dan's quote really says it all that people were in a weird year.

00:57:44   People were really happy about what happened to the Apple watch this year. And the answer

00:57:46   is new hardware and a really great operating system update that affected every model. And

00:57:55   That's that watchOS 3 is, you know, again, we can say the OS they should have shipped

00:58:00   on the watch, but they shipped the watch without it and they learned.

00:58:04   And watchOS 3 is exactly what it should have been all along, but they needed to learn.

00:58:09   And we, you know, we could have told them, I think maybe on day one, like, "Oh, that

00:58:13   is not the way you want to use that button on that watch."

00:58:17   But they had to learn their lesson and they did and they fixed it.

00:58:22   And so, yeah, I think it's a good story.

00:58:24   much more to do. Christina Warren made some comments in the survey that were very much

00:58:30   like this is not a category I think that is what anybody thought it would be and it's

00:58:35   proved to be a lot harder than people thought and a lot of companies are kind of falling

00:58:38   apart here. Apple is persevering and making their product better and focusing it more

00:58:45   and that's what more can you ask for.

00:58:47   And then the last of Apple's own made hardware will be the Apple TV which was graded a C-

00:58:56   this year with an average score of 2.7 and a median score of 3 down from last year where

00:59:02   it was graded a B.

00:59:05   John Gruber said "I don't expect new hardware every year but I think the content situation

00:59:08   needs to improve and it didn't in 2016."

00:59:12   Marco Ahmet said Apple TV has effectively stood still in 2016 despite needing significant

00:59:18   attention in UI, remote design, performance, bugs and reliability.

00:59:22   John Siracusa says that the Apple TV is more expensive and less capable than its competitors.

00:59:28   Katie Floyd said Apple just can't seem to bring the content deals together to make the

00:59:32   Apple TV my primary box.

00:59:34   I'm going to score the Apple TV a 2 out of 5.

00:59:38   I like my Apple TV and use it most days when I have a TV.

00:59:43   I currently do not have a TV in our front room,

00:59:48   but when we get one in the next couple of weeks,

00:59:50   the Apple TV will be hooked up to it

00:59:53   and it will be the main way that we consume television.

00:59:56   But our television consists of about three applications

01:00:01   which exist on other connected TV boxes.

01:00:04   - Yep.

01:00:05   The Apple TV doesn't provide anything different

01:00:08   or competitive for me that I can't get from any other device

01:00:13   and they have, and Apple have not unveiled anything in 2016

01:00:18   that has markedly improved my experience.

01:00:21   If you're a cable customer and use one of the very few

01:00:24   services that have signed on for their single sign on,

01:00:27   it might be an improvement for you.

01:00:28   But Apple has done nothing.

01:00:30   Even just basic content deals will not improve my experience

01:00:35   But there are just problems with navigation,

01:00:37   I have bugs in applications,

01:00:39   there is nothing to make my experience any better,

01:00:42   but it doesn't mean I have any different feelings

01:00:43   about the product.

01:00:45   But the Apple TV for me is like,

01:00:48   it's effectively just a dumb box,

01:00:51   which I can get Netflix and YouTube through.

01:00:54   - And there are much cheaper dumb boxes out there

01:00:57   that work just as well.

01:00:59   And the only thing it really does,

01:01:01   I mean, if you're an Apple user,

01:01:03   The reason that you buy an Apple TV and not a Roku or a Fire TV or something like that

01:01:09   is one, you've got existing movies that you bought on iTunes and this is the only

01:01:15   way to get them, or two, you need to do AirPlay and this is the only way to do that.

01:01:21   Really.

01:01:22   I mean, there are AirPlay apps for other platforms, but they're really not—I don't recommend

01:01:28   them.

01:01:29   So those—

01:01:30   So I just got a Fire Stick.

01:01:31   Yeah.

01:01:32   two of those. I was away this weekend and needed to watch something in a hotel room. It's a long

01:01:38   story, it's not worth getting into. And the easiest thing to do is just to pick up a fire stick from

01:01:44   for a local store. I don't really like the UI, the fire stick, any of the fire, like I don't know if

01:01:50   there's like differences, like we didn't get the fire TV, I got the stick and it's not the one that

01:01:54   has the voice remote, like I don't know, I just bought one, I don't know. I just got what was

01:01:59   available. The UI is not very great, but frankly it has the three apps that I'm looking for

01:02:06   plus Amazon's stuff. So I mean I'm going to connect both of these things, but it might

01:02:12   be that for me we may use the Amazon one more because it's the one thing that has everything

01:02:17   we need.

01:02:18   Yeah, it's right, and you mentioned Amazon. Amazon is not on the Apple TV, so you have

01:02:22   to airplay that if you want to get Amazon stuff on your TV through an Apple TV. And

01:02:27   You know, I think I think this this one took as big a fall as the Mac did and it's not

01:02:32   surprising right there's no hardware updates here. There's no relevant software updates

01:02:38   here. It was already kind of behind when it shipped. I mean remember we thought it was

01:02:45   shipping like nine months or a year later than it was supposed to already and then they

01:02:50   didn't do anything to it again and the competitors the competition here is tough and Apple TV

01:02:56   I think more like more than any other Apple product feels like a product that exists to

01:03:05   take advantage of customers who are in Apple's ecosystem. It feels like, you know, people

01:03:13   criticize Apple, they knock Apple a lot for being like overcharging suckers who use their

01:03:20   products and are just suckers for Apple's marketing. And, you know, there's a lot of

01:03:25   these stories that they that they tell about this. The Apple TV is close to

01:03:30   being like that though. The Apple TV is a lesser product that costs more, does less,

01:03:36   and the only reason you really need it is because you've been locked in by some

01:03:40   other part of Apple's ecosystem. Because Apple's devices only do

01:03:45   AirPlay and they won't let anybody else's boxes do AirPlay.

01:03:50   And so if you want to do that or if you want access to iTunes content, these are

01:03:55   your choices. And that's not a product, that's not a product at that point. They made a big

01:04:02   deal of the apps and there are some apps and some of the apps are nice, but again, most

01:04:05   of the apps I use on the Apple TV are video apps and those apps exist like there's a Plex

01:04:09   app for the other platforms.

01:04:10   It's like you created this whole new thing called TV and couldn't get Netflix to sign

01:04:15   on. Like, you're failing on all fronts with this. Every advantage that Apple tried to

01:04:23   push forward this year with the Apple TV has huge holes in it, right? TV couldn't get

01:04:28   Netflix single sign-on basically got any cable companies.

01:04:32   And I will say one of the clarifying things about doing, thinking about calendar years

01:04:35   like this survey does is, and you've mentioned it a couple of times, it squelches all track

01:04:42   record and optimism. Yep. Right? Like those are out of it. It's like what happened in

01:04:46   2016? It's like January 1st to December 31st. Like that's all you have. You can be bullish

01:04:50   about the future of the Mac or pessimistic about it. You can be bullish about the future

01:04:54   of Apple TV or pessimistic about it. But what happened in 2016? And the answer with Apple

01:04:59   TV is nothing. So, and it was already behind. So I think it's fair.

01:05:05   All right, so next up, all of the categories are software services, initiatives, that kind

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01:06:44   of this show and Relay FM.

01:06:47   - Somebody's gonna write in and say,

01:06:48   no, I like the bad stuff.

01:06:50   - Well, those people are wrong, Jason.

01:06:52   They are wrong.

01:06:53   - They get the enemy discount.

01:06:54   - They get the enemy discount,

01:06:55   which is they have to pay for other people's months.

01:06:58   Cloud Services, graded AC and the report card.

01:07:05   way for it. That's good. That's up. People are feeling slightly more excited about Apple's

01:07:12   cloud services.

01:07:13   "Average score of 3.1, median score of 3. I have my theory about this. Why is this way?

01:07:19   Last year, graded C- or a D+. Christina Warren said…" Christina went a bit… she started

01:07:27   asking questions. She kind of went a bit philosophical here.

01:07:30   "Are Apple's cloud services finally good?" is the question I asked myself. The answer

01:07:34   is almost. And in the same vein Federico said, "It's difficult to provide a unifying

01:07:39   comment on the overall state of Apple services. They still feel too disconnected from each

01:07:43   other with varying degrees of success. They're getting better, but perhaps too slowly."

01:07:48   Now I have given Apple's cloud services a three, and it's because I'm mostly indifferent.

01:07:55   And I think that's why they are a three, because it is indifference. So I use quite

01:08:00   a lot of them. I use Calendar, Mail, Music and Photos primarily. Like I use those extensively.

01:08:05   They are services that I use. I mean iCloud stuff is, you know, iCloud Drive and it's

01:08:11   going on in the background but I don't really think about those and that's kind of the thing

01:08:14   with Apple services is they mostly do what I expect them to do but excel in nothing.

01:08:22   like

01:08:42   some appointments but if I get a uh you know like what happens with google services if I get

01:08:47   an amazon email I don't automatically get a tracking link put into my google search or now

01:08:54   screen like they don't do any you know the photo stuff I can search for horses and mountains but I

01:09:02   don't get a google assistant notification telling me oh here's this album we made for you automatically

01:09:09   which is of this trip that you just made. Or like, "Oh, here's a GIF we just made of these few photos."

01:09:16   So much of what Apple does, your photos app should be giving you that, not cloud services,

01:09:21   the way Apple structures it. Your photos app should be giving you that. Cloud services,

01:09:25   they can't do that. They can't talk to each other. It's not surfaced and I'm not told about it.

01:09:30   Google does a really great way of doing a lot of this stuff and telling me about it.

01:09:36   And my feeling is because Google knows they can be consistent no matter where you're looking

01:09:40   at it.

01:09:41   And Apple can't be.

01:09:44   I'm not sure that that is fair to lay on Apple's cloud services.

01:09:46   I think maybe that because of the way Apple has structured its data, that is a software

01:09:51   issue.

01:09:52   And the same would go for, like, your mail client should be getting mail from your travel

01:09:58   or from Amazon and recognizing that it's a flight or it's a package to be tracked and

01:10:05   doing something with it. Because that's what they have to do. Because Google is essentially

01:10:10   running an app on Gmail that does that. And Apple isn't letting itself look at your mail,

01:10:17   so the software needs to be able to do that. And that's the challenge, is that a lot of

01:10:22   the times that doesn't happen either, right? And it is magical. I just bought a flight

01:10:29   to LA for next month, and you know what happens? I get my receipt from Southwest Airlines in

01:10:35   my Gmail and the flights on my calendar. That's it. It's already there because Gmail knows

01:10:42   that that is a flight I'm taking.

01:10:44   Alright, I'll agree with that. That is a fair criticism, but I still will stand by my point

01:10:49   that Apple services just do what I expect them to do. They don't do anything. Apple

01:10:56   haven't introduced a service this year which is life changing for me. They haven't given

01:11:02   me anything new. They've stabilized things and they said they've made some of the client

01:11:07   stuff that are like some of the things that sit on top of our messages better, but there's

01:11:13   nothing, there's nothing that's making me go, "Wow, Apple services!" I'm just indifferent

01:11:17   to them.

01:11:18   Yeah, I think what I would, I'd turn that around and say, "Indifference is a huge step

01:11:26   up for Apple?"

01:11:27   Yes, which is why it's a 3 and not a 2, which is why I probably would have given it before,

01:11:31   right, for inconsistency. I would probably say that if I had to choose, I would choose

01:11:37   Apple getting their services to be reliable, and that Apple is still fighting against perception.

01:11:43   In fact, several of my panelists refused to answer this question at all because they refused

01:11:47   to use Apple's services because they don't trust them. And my message to them was basically,

01:11:53   I think you might want to give them a try because I have not been bitten by an Apple

01:11:56   service in a while now. I think iCloud Photo Library is quite good at what it does. That

01:12:03   said, I will also, now I'm going to do exactly what you just did, because Apple has this

01:12:09   privacy approach to the server data that its servers can't look at it, Apple needs to

01:12:14   be better on the software side to do the same sort of magic that Google can do up in the

01:12:18   server and they're not. And the example I would give from this year is, yes, Photos

01:12:23   now knows about horses and mountains, but does it sync all of that up to the cloud,

01:12:27   that metadata, so that you don't have to reanalyze your photos on every device? No, it just doesn't

01:12:32   do that.

01:12:33   And that is part of the service component of that, right? So I agree.

01:12:36   Right, because it should sync that metadata and it doesn't. But I think this was a positive

01:12:41   result from Apple because, and I know it's a C, right? I mean, it's not a really great

01:12:47   score.

01:12:48   It's a passing grade.

01:12:49   the context of where Apple has been with cloud stuff, what I look at here is that

01:12:55   Apple seems to be getting out, like Christina said, like they're almost

01:13:00   good at this point. They're not a joke, they're not unreliable, they're not like

01:13:05   "well this is fine but this one you shouldn't even touch." It's like there are

01:13:08   still some rough spots but it seems to me like Apple has really stabilized the

01:13:12   cloud services stuff. The next step though is it's got to be better than

01:13:16   acceptable, right? It's got to do things working in tandem with the software on the

01:13:24   devices. It's got to start doing things that are kind of delightful, and there's

01:13:27   not a lot of that right now.

01:13:29   Homekit.

01:13:30   Okay.

01:13:31   Graded a D+ of an average score of 2.4, median score of D—sorry, median score of 2.0. Last

01:13:41   year it was graded D.

01:13:42   Yeah, you went from a D to a D+, congratulations.

01:13:45   I'm not really sure how.

01:13:47   Brent Simmons said, "This is a thing I don't want Apple

01:13:50   "to spend its time on."

01:13:52   I disagree with Brent vehemently,

01:13:55   but I know where he's coming from.

01:13:57   I assume that Brent is wishing that Apple

01:14:00   would spend its time on the products

01:14:02   that they're successful at.

01:14:04   But I echo, Mark, seriously, no pun intended,

01:14:09   Marco's comment, which is that home kit offerings

01:14:11   continue to trickle out too slowly,

01:14:12   and Apple has no answer in sight to the Amazon Echo

01:14:15   in the Google Home. Apple's best hope for home automation currently is that it doesn't

01:14:19   take off, which is a terrible place to be. And Lex Friedman said, "I have various smart

01:14:24   devices and not one of them integrates with Apple stuff. Meanwhile, my Echo can control

01:14:29   just about everything in my house." HomeKit for me gets the lowest score that I have given

01:14:35   Apple for this scorecard, which is a one. Does HomeKit really exist?

01:14:42   does I actually now have a couple of HomeKit devices in my house.

01:14:46   I'm being facetious. You have to work at it. You have to work at it, Myke.

01:14:50   So I check the Apple Store page frequently for new HomeKit devices, like in the Apple

01:14:56   Store app, and it never changes. There don't seem to be new things that at least Apple

01:15:02   is selling with HomeKit integration in them. I think they're falling behind. I think

01:15:08   that whatever it is that Apple is making these companies do

01:15:12   is too much to try and get integrations.

01:15:16   And I know it's security,

01:15:19   but it may be that they're making people jump through hoops

01:15:23   and/or subsequently increasing the prices of their products

01:15:28   because of the chips or whatever it is that Apple requires.

01:15:32   I think that if Apple is very serious about this,

01:15:35   and they need to try and make this easier for people.

01:15:38   And I know that these products exist, right?

01:15:40   I know that they exist.

01:15:42   But let me tell you something,

01:15:43   a lot of the ones that exist, I can't buy.

01:15:46   - Sure.

01:15:48   - They exist in the United States of America.

01:15:50   They do not exist in the United Kingdom.

01:15:52   So from my perspective,

01:15:54   HomeKit is basically a bit of a disaster.

01:15:57   Like I was talking to Matt Alexander

01:15:59   and he was telling me that he has just bought

01:16:00   these new smart plugs or something called the iHome.

01:16:05   and that the iHome is, it works with the Echo and with HomeKit.

01:16:12   Now I looked it up and they just don't sell them here.

01:16:14   This is not a product that exists in the UK.

01:16:16   So this continues to be another problem for them, I think.

01:16:20   Well, yeah, I think that going from a D to a D+ really says everything about HomeKit,

01:16:26   which is that it got better, but it's not good enough.

01:16:31   good enough. I think I get where Brent is coming from on one level I disagree

01:16:36   because I feel like if you view the alternative as being Apple builds a

01:16:41   whole bunch of smart home tech itself this is better because it's a third

01:16:48   party initiative where Apple is just saying we don't want to build this stuff

01:16:52   but I think more realistically and this is what Brent's getting at this is one

01:16:57   of those things where perhaps Apple didn't need to build its own thing and

01:17:01   could have used some existing technology.

01:17:03   Yes.

01:17:05   And, you know, Apple has done some things to certify the HomeKit hardware that

01:17:09   there are arguments to be made that in terms of like security of devices of

01:17:12   the Internet of Things, things that are not going to get hijacked and turned into

01:17:16   botnets and all of that, that Apple's layer of scrutiny on HomeKit is maybe a

01:17:21   a good thing. But you can also make the argument that maybe Apple should have just let the

01:17:31   market work this out and not do what Apple does, which is create its own spec, create

01:17:38   its own licensing system, and made people basically come to Apple with their products

01:17:42   and ask for them to be approved and blessed.

01:17:45   It was like they barged their way in and said, "Hey, you have to come to us and get certification

01:17:51   because we've just started something."

01:17:53   If you want access to our users, but the reality is that the users do have access to other

01:17:56   things because you can just download apps that give you access to these other smart

01:18:01   home platforms.

01:18:02   Apple's leverage here isn't spectacular.

01:18:04   It's Siri and the Home app and the Control Center home thing.

01:18:10   their leverage as opposed to just like downloading an app for some other home

01:18:14   tech so it's not they don't have great leverage and their story isn't great it

01:18:20   is starting to take off and it may yet take off which is why it's definitely in

01:18:24   that you know D+ of like well the rocket turned on but it still hasn't left the

01:18:29   pad we'll see what happens next but I don't know it's a I'm with Lex too which

01:18:35   is that my Amazon Echo can control just about everything in my house and HomeKit can't.

01:18:42   And so, and you know, that's, in this state of Internet of Things, smart home kind of

01:18:51   devices, I think being able to absorb and control anything is a way more important place

01:18:59   to be than building a walled off subset of tech. And that's what HomeKit is. So if I

01:19:06   could buy a smart home thing that was HomeKit compatible and other things, I would probably

01:19:12   try to do that just because that gives me an extra bit, like the Hue light bulbs I have

01:19:18   are HomeKit, you know, and the LIFX light bulbs I have are not. But I'm not going to

01:19:25   to let it rule my world. Like, if it doesn't work with my Amazon Echo, I'm not going to

01:19:31   buy it. If it doesn't work with If This Then That, I'm probably not going to buy it. But

01:19:35   if it doesn't work with HomeKit, meh, I'll probably buy it anyway.

01:19:39   Hardware reliability. Apple scored highest. This is the highest scoring category overall,

01:19:45   right? Or actually it's the second highest after environmental and social issues, which

01:19:50   we'll get to. Spoilers.

01:19:52   Read A-, average score 4.1, median score 4, down a little bit, last year it was an A.

01:19:59   Dan Morin says, "In general, I feel that hardware quality and reliability has been one of Apple's

01:20:04   strongest points."

01:20:06   And then Susie Oakes of Macworld says, "It's disheartening to read story after story about

01:20:10   MacBook Pros having graphics issues, iPhone 6s having battery issues, iPhone 6 Plus having

01:20:14   touch problems.

01:20:15   I hope the hardware quality isn't slipping."

01:20:18   So two very different responses there.

01:20:21   I'm going to go with four for this one as well.

01:20:24   In my opinion, there has been a little change

01:20:26   in actual hardware quality year over year.

01:20:29   There are always bugs, there are always X gates.

01:20:33   Every big Apple product has some kind of critical flaw.

01:20:36   But this is normal, nothing's catastrophic, right?

01:20:40   Apple stuff has issues, but the overall quality

01:20:42   of the products I don't think has changed.

01:20:44   Like from a hardware perspective, everything is fine.

01:20:47   And you know, like depending on what you consider

01:20:50   hardware reliability, I can't really personally see much of a change year over year.

01:20:57   You know, there are things that maybe don't work the way that you want them to, but it's

01:21:00   not because they're flawed, it's just because they were designed that way, and I don't think

01:21:04   design decisions goes into reliability.

01:21:08   I kind of subscribe to your theory, which is there are always gates, and there are always

01:21:13   going to be, with any volume like Apple has, there are going to be issues, but it sure

01:21:18   seems like nobody was talking about problems with Apple hardware other than Steven Hackett

01:21:21   and his hissing iPhone 7.

01:21:23   But that ended up being that there actually wasn't really a huge problem with that. Like

01:21:29   it blew up to be a thing.

01:21:31   Because there were like five of them out there or whatever. But yeah, that's I think that's

01:21:35   your point and I agree with it, which is there are always little things here and there. But

01:21:39   I don't feel like that was a big story this year about Apple having to deal with hardware

01:21:43   problems and when we consider the competition, yeah, I think it's fitting that Apple got

01:21:50   a pretty good score here.

01:21:51   >> Yeah, like Steven's phone was hissing, Apple did take it back and they did replace

01:21:55   it and his next one was fine. He got a dud, right, it seems, and maybe other people did

01:21:59   as well, but that happens with every product. Like, there are always going to be those problems,

01:22:04   but it wasn't that every single phone hissed, because they didn't.

01:22:10   quality was greater to B- an average score of 3.4, medium score of 3, last year a C+

01:22:16   so we have an increase!

01:22:18   Casey List said "things aren't as ugly as they were in the past but I still feel

01:22:22   like we're not in the snow leopard glory days"

01:22:25   Rich Mogul said "there was a mixed bag across the platforms but overall an improvement from

01:22:30   the past year or two"

01:22:32   Federico Viticci of Max Stories said "considerably better than years ago thanks to the optimisation

01:22:36   went into iOS 9 and iOS 10. Still not perfect, still room to improve, but not as traumatic

01:22:41   as 7 and 8 were. We just mentioned him, Stephen Hackett said that whilst Apple's core OS is

01:22:48   stable and secure, I think the company could be doing a lot with first party apps to make

01:22:53   them more appealing. And the developer of Peacock, James Thompson said improved in 2016

01:22:59   friend of the show over a pretty poor 2015 heading in the right direction at least.

01:23:04   I'm going to give out another four this year for this because it wasn't just the same,

01:23:08   there was an improvement but it wasn't completely knocked out of the park.

01:23:11   I would say that overall iOS has been solid this year where maybe some of the previous

01:23:17   versions of iOS in recent years have not been when they've shipped. I feel that 10

01:23:22   was fine, that you know it wasn't seven, it wasn't eight right like it was totally fine.

01:23:30   but I will underscore that I am sad to see advancement, like a little advancement on the iPad

01:23:35   and that holds back what could have been a five. You know, if I would have got what I wanted on the

01:23:40   iPad, I'd be like great, for me personally, software quality is fantastic. I would just say I haven't

01:23:46   installed Sierra and I have no intention to because I don't like to be on the most recent version of

01:23:53   the OS on my production machine. I make sure that my security patches are in place but I don't

01:23:58   I don't upgrade. So yeah, I have little to say on Sierra because I've never actually

01:24:04   used it.

01:24:05   Right. Well, I think Apple, somebody, and it might have been Brent Simmons, said, you

01:24:09   know, let's get off the Mac once a year treadmill, which I kind of agree with. I feel like it

01:24:14   never, we never will. I feel like we never will because iOS is going to be once a year

01:24:18   and they're going to want to sync the features up. But I do think that Sierra was a mild

01:24:24   enough update that I think what we're seeing is Apple not trying to make every Mac OS release

01:24:31   a major release, but they still have to keep pace with iOS features and try to stay in

01:24:39   sync.

01:24:40   There has to be a revision of Mac OS in some form every year if iOS continues to be that.

01:24:47   Because otherwise iOS will have features that can't communicate with Mac OS and that will

01:24:52   cause myriad issues and many more people complaining and saying that iOS is

01:24:56   getting all of the attention. So there needs to be, I mean Sierra could have and

01:25:02   should have gone a little bit further when it comes to messages, stickers at

01:25:07   least, maybe not apps but stickers should have better features than it currently

01:25:12   does honestly I think. But they have to give some support because as

01:25:18   As somebody who is still using, what version am I using? Yosemite? I think? It was Yosemite

01:25:24   for Sierra, right?

01:25:25   Nope, El Capitan.

01:25:26   El Capitan, that's what I want. El Capitan, I get lost now.

01:25:29   I'm a captain.

01:25:30   The cats I could keep track of, but the California place names, they're lost on me. I can't,

01:25:35   like, reconcile them in my brain.

01:25:38   Your mind is still in Mavericks.

01:25:40   Yeah, I just can't. I just can't get my head around them. Anyway, so as somebody who's

01:25:44   still using that version. Was El Capitan I'm using? Did we establish that? Yes. El Capitan.

01:25:50   Like messages is a disaster. It's just so bad. So they had to give it something because

01:25:58   it's a nightmare trying to use all of the features. I still get just blank Twitter links

01:26:04   with no expansion and stuff like that. So there has to be something every year. But

01:26:09   I agree with you that it doesn't have to be, "Here's 20 new features for the Mac." It can

01:26:14   can be like, here's this new thing I wanted to add plus parity of iOS. And I think it's

01:26:17   important that they continue on that train.

01:26:19   >> And they can roll features out across the year. I mean, the touch bar, that's hardware

01:26:24   and touch ID.

01:26:25   >> Touch ID, yep.

01:26:26   >> That's hardware tied features. Those are OS features too, and they rolled those out

01:26:29   with the hardware. So they can roll stuff out on the Mac on a kind of ongoing basis

01:26:33   too, and then maybe have the milestone versions be really about syncing sort of the major

01:26:39   Apple platform features for the year. I like what, I mean, I like all these quotes. I pick

01:26:45   them right. You pick quotes out of the ones that I picked, right? So I did the first set

01:26:50   of picking here. And so of course I like what Stephen Hackett said. I think that's an important

01:26:55   point. I think Apple's core OS's are pretty stable. Like he said, I think he makes a really

01:27:00   good point about first party apps that a lot of Apple's apps seem kind of adrift. Like

01:27:09   One of the things that happens when you lose focus is you lose focus on some of the stuff

01:27:15   at the periphery and the apps.

01:27:16   I mean, you mentioned messages, but there are lots of apps that I feel like are like

01:27:21   that where it's just like, it's fine, but there are other alternatives that show you

01:27:27   that they could probably be better and there could be more innovation on the app front

01:27:32   too.

01:27:33   But it's fine.

01:27:34   I mean, again, a few years ago, we were really up in arms about how Apple software quality

01:27:38   was a disaster. And the perception seems to be in general that it's getting better.

01:27:46   Not like Casey said, maybe the glory days, whether they were real or not, but a perception

01:27:51   like this is not the hot button issue for 2016 anyway.

01:27:55   Developer relations, graded a C+, average score of 3.1, median score of 3.0, last year

01:28:01   it was graded a D. This is the biggest gainer of any category in the survey, positive gainer.

01:28:06   Yeah, it went up what like a full grade and a whatever you'd call it.

01:28:10   Grade and a half.

01:28:10   Yeah, grade and a half.

01:28:11   Phil Schiller's transition to leading the App Store has brought many welcome improvements,

01:28:16   said Michael Almond, but communication is still poor. The Dash situation ended poorly and search

01:28:21   ads have been controversial and alienating for many independent developers. John Gruber said,

01:28:26   "I think the App Store situation is improving but still has ways to go." So it's far to go.

01:28:32   And Brent Simmons said, "The Swift team is notably engaging."

01:28:36   I'm going to give this a two.

01:28:40   And the reason is I don't see a lot of these benefits in my day to day work.

01:28:45   I don't feel it, right?

01:28:49   It doesn't touch my work.

01:28:50   All I can comment is the things that I see and the Dash story, which wasn't something

01:28:56   that we covered with any significance, but it was when the developer of a documentation

01:29:02   application called Dash, there was like a back and forth which resulted in he said,

01:29:10   she said and their application being removed. I think that Apple did a really bad job handling

01:29:16   this. The phone call that was leaked I think was terrible and sounded condescending to

01:29:23   me. I really think that it was a bad mark from them this year and I personally, without

01:29:31   knowing all I know is what I feel and I feel that Apple didn't do the right

01:29:35   thing with this. They didn't resolve it in the way that it maybe should have

01:29:39   been resolved. Again all I can comment on is what I saw. I don't know the full

01:29:42   story but that for me was like that just wasn't good. They just

01:29:47   didn't look good and it was a big public thing and I think that the right thing

01:29:52   to do from a PR perception was to deal with that slightly differently to the

01:29:56   way that they did. So I'm gonna go over to developer relations. So the reason

01:30:00   scores are so much higher than next year or than last year is that Phil Shiller taking

01:30:06   over the perception has been Phil Shiller taking over the App Store stuff has made a

01:30:11   lot of things better. Like Marco said that the turnaround is a lot faster. And then,

01:30:16   you know, Brent mentioned the the Swift team being very engaging and communicating in ways

01:30:22   that maybe things were kept quiet at Apple earlier and they wouldn't speak. But I think

01:30:26   most of the scoring improvements here are about the fact that a lot of the complaints

01:30:30   that people had about the App Store were addressed this year. Not to say that there weren't some

01:30:35   issues and the Dash story is an example of that, but I think generally what used to be

01:30:42   a major complaint point, I think everybody wanted to basically give a little bit of applause

01:30:46   that it seems like some of the fundamental basic problems that App Store, App Submissions

01:30:52   and the like have had and the decrease of turnaround time, frankly, bottom line, like

01:30:58   which should be kind of job number one, has improved dramatically in the past year. So

01:31:03   that's what's going on here, I think.

01:31:05   And then the final category, which I spoiled earlier, which is the highest overall score,

01:31:10   is environmental and social issues. It's greater than an A-, an average score of 4.2,

01:31:15   median score of 4. It has declined slightly, as last year it was an A, which is interesting

01:31:21   to me. So Marco Almond said on this, "Tim Cook's handling of the FBI phone unlocking

01:31:27   controversy was stellar and may well go down as a highlight of Cook's tenure as CEO.

01:31:33   Federica Vittucci said "No one seems to care about these things as much as Apple"

01:31:38   and he gives major respect on all fronts.

01:31:41   John Molt said that "Apple's presentations this year were better in terms of diversity.

01:31:45   It was nice to see, although the company still has a long way to go in diversity developer

01:31:49   management."

01:31:50   And carrying on from this, Aline Simms said "The diversity statistics seem to be barely

01:31:54   shifting year over year and Aline would love to see Apple implement paid internship and

01:31:58   mentorship programs for underrepresented minorities. Even though leadership turnover is low, Aline

01:32:05   would like to hope to see more types of people represented in the leadership as well.

01:32:10   So I'm going to give this a 4 again. The FBI case was handled tremendously and I feel if

01:32:17   If this is the place that that exists, I think that Apple will significantly improve any

01:32:23   score.

01:32:24   If this is the category that that is going to exist in, then I will say that that was

01:32:27   a really, really big thing for Apple this year from a positive perspective.

01:32:32   And I agree that diversity is getting better, but only in what we're seeing.

01:32:38   So what Apple shows us on stage, the people that they show us on stage, the people that

01:32:43   that come out to make presentations.

01:32:45   I think we can agree that that's better than it's ever been.

01:32:49   But the positions are the same as they were before,

01:32:52   is my assumption.

01:32:54   But they're just changing who they show.

01:32:57   So where we may have Bazoma Saint-Jean come out

01:33:02   to talk about Apple Music, she's just replacing Eddy Cue.

01:33:07   So he's still there doing that, ultimately,

01:33:12   but they've changed the person

01:33:13   that they're bringing out on stage.

01:33:14   So they're doing a better job of showing us the diversity,

01:33:18   but as Alim points out, the diversity statistics

01:33:21   are not shifting in significant numbers.

01:33:25   - Right, they seem to be shifting, but it's very slow.

01:33:29   - Yeah. - Very slow.

01:33:30   - So I would personally say that from what I can see in that

01:33:33   and from what I hear from people

01:33:35   that are really deep into this stuff,

01:33:37   that would mark them down,

01:33:39   but the way that they handled the FBI thing

01:33:42   would mark them up and plus things in regards to environment,

01:33:46   like the actual environment of the world,

01:33:49   Apple will just remain consistent,

01:33:51   which is consistently great,

01:33:52   but they remain consistent year on year for that,

01:33:53   so I'm gonna go with four.

01:33:55   - Okay.

01:33:56   - So my kind of final thoughts on all of this

01:33:58   is that having looked at all of this,

01:34:01   I'm not unique in thinking

01:34:04   that this was a weird year for Apple,

01:34:06   but it wasn't an out and out disaster.

01:34:08   And seeing things in this category,

01:34:11   I am remarked at how many four out of fives I've given,

01:34:16   but the thing is that some of the places

01:34:18   where there would have been higher scores

01:34:20   didn't get those this year.

01:34:22   And that some of the things that you would expect

01:34:24   to have high scores had lower scores

01:34:26   than I would have expected to give them.

01:34:28   But I do think that 2016 is kind of just a bump in a road

01:34:32   in a few areas.

01:34:33   Like I'm optimistic for a better showing in 2017.

01:34:37   And I'm hoping that Apple will prove my optimism

01:34:40   to be correct.

01:34:41   Right, and that's the beauty of the calendar constraint again, is you can say, "Wow, that

01:34:47   was a bad year.

01:34:48   Let's try another year."

01:34:51   Were you, in your, on the site, you had some graphs and some charts, and I'm going to include

01:34:58   a link in the show notes, of course, to the report card.

01:35:00   Were you surprised by any of the changes year over year?

01:35:05   Not really.

01:35:06   I mean, I think this is an interesting quantification of what mostly we knew, like that the math

01:35:11   had a really bad year. I think dissatisfaction with the Apple TV, I think if you thought

01:35:16   about it you probably would have expected it, but it was strong. That was a clear signal

01:35:20   from these three dozen people. The friendliness toward the Apple Watch I think is deserved

01:35:26   given it was a really good year for the Apple Watch. You got hardware turnover and a really

01:35:31   good operating system update. I was not surprised, if anything I think I was a little surprised

01:35:38   that it was not quite as negative as I really expected. I thought, I mean, the Mac took

01:35:44   a huge tumble, but I thought it could have been even worse. And so, yeah, but I think

01:35:50   one of the values of doing a survey like this is that you're sort of seeing what the conventional

01:35:55   take on Apple's year was, because, like I said, you'll get people voting a one or a

01:35:59   five, but in the end, it will all kind of wash out to a, you know, this average score

01:36:05   of what most people sort of thought it was. And I think that's valuable. It's not a single

01:36:13   personal opinion. It's more like what's the trend. And in fact, you could argue that somebody,

01:36:19   you know, that the average score for a particular product was such and you could say, "No, no,

01:36:22   no, that's totally wrong. That's just groupthink. That's the conventional wisdom." It's like,

01:36:26   yeah, you might be right, but I think there's some value in seeing what was the conventional

01:36:31   wisdom about 2016. What in general did people think? And then in the details you can see

01:36:37   that there was a lot of disagreement on the details and that's why I put the quotes in.

01:36:41   I love it. I'm pleased that you do this and I look forward to next year's already. Do

01:36:47   you have, like if you were a betting man, what categories do you think would see some

01:36:53   big change for 2017? If you were going to put some bets down on this, what would you

01:36:58   I'm gonna say the iPad is going to go up because I do think they're going to

01:37:02   revise all of the iPad pros and do a software update that addresses the

01:37:07   iPad at some point in 2017 whether it's iOS 10.3 or it's iOS 11.

01:37:12   So I think the iPad has a chance to go up. I also would say that I think the Mac

01:37:18   has a chance to go up if Apple does a standard kind of battery of Mac

01:37:24   releases and show that 2016 was an aberration. But I think if I had to put

01:37:30   it on one that has the best chance to kind of rebound or progress I think it

01:37:35   will be the iPad. What do you think about the iPhone? I don't know, I mean it already

01:37:41   has a very good score. I think that even if Apple comes out with a really nice

01:37:45   new iPhone and a nice version of iOS I'm not sure that that score is going to

01:37:48   move particularly up. I think it could go down if there's a an iPhone 7s that

01:37:53   looks just like the 7 and there's not a whole lot more in there other than the usual camera

01:37:58   improvement faster processor sort of stuff. That could make it go down but even then the

01:38:03   iPhone's riding so high right now that I'm not sure that a boring iPhone year is going

01:38:10   to be considered a bad iPhone year by enough people for that to come down a lot.

01:38:15   All right so we're running a little bit long today so we're going to skip Ask Upgrade this

01:38:19   week if you want to send in your Ask Upgrade questions as always we'd really appreciate

01:38:22   it just send us a tweet with the hashtag #AskUpgrade and we will attempt to answer your questions

01:38:27   on the show. We'll pick that up next week. But I want to take a moment to thank our sponsors

01:38:31   again for this week's show, Encapsula, Eero and Blue Apron. If you want to find us online

01:38:36   there's a few places you can do that. You can go to SixColors.com and TheIncomparable.com

01:38:41   for Jason's work elsewhere but of course he is a host of a plethora of shows on Real

01:38:44   AFM and obviously this one, Free Agents, Liftoff and Clockwise. Jason is also on Twitter, he

01:38:50   @jsnell. I am @imike on Twitter. I am @yke and I host many shows, many shows, all the

01:38:57   great shows. All the great shows. Some of the great shows on relay.fm. There are many

01:39:02   great shows. How humble. That I am not a part of. Many, many great shows. But I am also

01:39:06   a host of many of them. We'll be back next time. Until then, say goodbye Jason Snow.

01:39:12   Bye everybody.

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