All In With Apple Again

Android Attraction To Apple Allure

It’s happening. Again. I’ve been switching up my workflow by using Apple’s apps instead of Google’s or other third-party apps. At first, when I switched from my Android phone back to iPhone, I didn’t think I’d do this. I should know myself better than that; I love to use all the different tech solutions! Also, Apple’s ecosystem is alluring.

Switch Flip

Having returned to an iPhone, I’m reminded how Apple’s iOS is just so simple, elegant, polished and cohesive. You use one part, see how nice it is and how well it works, so then you want to try more of Apple’s solutions – both software and hardware ones.

The cohesive nature of Apple’s products makes going all-in logical, simple, and almost irresistable. Apple is known to make “the whole widget,” which means they design both the hardware and the software to work seamlessly together.

This, of course, is obvious throughout just the iPhone’s software, its default apps and operating system, iOS. A common design language permeates iPhone.

Those are some of the basic reasons why I switched back. And there are more.

Family Sharing

Apple Music – My wife and I both like Apple Music streaming. Going from $20/mo (two individual accounts) to $15/mo (one family account) is a no-brainer. This works best when we’re both on iPhone.

iCloud – It just makes sense, and is more simple, to use the cloud backup solution that’s native to the device you have. With Apple devices, it’s iCloud, so my Google Drive set-up is being upended.

The Big Stuff

Notes – This one has been tough. Evernote is great, but there’s a lot of good I can say about Apple’s Notes app too. The number one strength of the Notes app is its cohesion to the iPhone itself.

The system level integration, by default, gives it great advantage. This means the simple and elegant common design language, both in form and function, puts Notes a notch up.

Photos – First, let me say it, I love Google Photos. If I had to score them, Google’s photo solution gets a 10 out of 10, and Apple’s gets a 9 out of 10. So why did I switch back to Apple Photos? Two main reasons: one, it’s default. So it shares the iPhone’s cohesive design, plus it utilizes the built-in iCloud backup system.

And two, after getting my wife to migrate to Google Photos when I did, several months later she voiced her preference for Apple Photos. So it makes sense for me to share the Photos experience with my wife.

Calendars, Mail, Reminders, Contacts – For many of the same reasons above, the basic productivity and utility apps and services on iPhone are my preference. Reminders, especially, is fantastic, even with Siri voice control, so it wins over Google Tasks.

Other Stuff

Sign in with Apple – This is new to me. Typically, I refuse to reuse the same online identity for various account logins. But I’m really thinking about using Apple’s privacy focused solution! It seems secure and convenient, and it relates to iCloud Keychain, Apple’s password management solution (which is excellent).

Privacy – I had already begun to move away from Google, having installed the DuckDuckGo tracker-blocker extension in the Chrome browser – it works so well! I also changed my default search engine back to DuckDuckGo (I used this for a long time before with great results).

On Apple, more private searching and less ad-tracking is default. Win!

Pages/Files/iCloud Drive – Can’t lie: Google Docs and Drive are great. I might stick with them. But for now, I’ve switched back to Apple’s solutions. (I’m typing this draft post in Pages via the Chrome web app now; it’s quite good.)

iLife

Nerding out on mobile computing tech is a thing I do. And Apple does this kind of tech best, so my new-to-me iPhone has been fun to switch back to.

Maybe it’s obvious, but I tend to switch up my tech workflow in general because I get bored and want something new. Call me human, I guess. That said, I really like Apple’s stuff above all, so I’d like to unpack my bags and stay for good.

For now, yeah, I’m all-in with Apple again. Over the years, the healthy fruit continues to make awesome devices and services. So there’s a strong chance that I remain an Apple convert and don’t revert elsewhere. I’m committed…until I’m not.

So, shocker, I’m also looking at getting more Apple devices: iPad, MacBook, Mac mini, Apple Watch, AirPods… Pretty much whatever has an Apple logo because it stands for quality, reliability, simplicity, privacy, elegance, and more.


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New Macs And A New iPhone

This week in Mobile Computing, two things happened. New Macs arrived; so did an iPhone.

First, Apple finally revealed the start of its move to the new brains and brawn of its Mac devices: their in-house custom built chip called “M1.” The hype was high in the announcement, with claims of high power/speed plus crazy long battery life. Initial benchmarks look promising if not surprising. Did Apple under-promise and over-deliver?

Second, after passing on my iPhone 7 to join the Android life with a new Moto G Power phone earlier this year…I switched back! Now I’m enjoying my new-to-me iPhone 8 Plus; I missed iPhone. 


M1 Macs

Not gonna lie: the new M1 MacBook Air and Mac mini are compelling devices. Apple kinda gushed on the big-picture tech specs during their announcement this week. This geek was impressed.

Apple already has big mind-share and market prowess as an aspirational brand of just-works mobile computing, and I see no signs of abatement. It’s hard to resist. Only time will tell, though, if their new custom Mac chips will land well. Will this be just another iterative change or a transformative one?

What’s the big deal, really, about an M1 MacBook Air, for example? Well, on top of what’s already good about the device, now it’s:

  • Quieter or silent (fanless)
  • Faster (speed)
  • Stronger (more powerful)
  • Longer (much better battery life)

So if the MacBook Air was only very good before, now it’s great. Or if you thought it was great before, now it’s superb. To me, it’s all looking to be a bigger change than the mere annual spec bump, by far.

And this is just the start.

iPhone 8 Plus

Over the years, almost all of my Apple purchases have been of used devices. Because Apple stuff is such high quality to begin with, buying a three year old iPhone like I did this week is hardly sacrificing anything. In fact, I got a fantastic smartphone for a fraction of its initial price tag.

The particular one I bought is in serious like-new condition too! It had been encased and screen protected, and it even included the original unused EarPods. It’s truly immaculate.

I’m extra happy for this iPhone since it’s my first dual-camera and phablet version (I previously owned an iPhone 4, 6, and 7).

While I did trade off a few things in leaving behind my Moto G Power Android phone (most notably the nice ultra-wide camera and mega-long 2 to 3-day battery), I gained some great stuff: NFC for contactless payments, great water resistance for spills and pool drops, a 2x telephoto lens, and wireless charging for saving wear and tear on re-plugging in a cable a million times.

Above all, though, I got an iPhone. I missed it. The system and apps and hardware are just so nice and easy to use. And the main draw in switching back, for me, was the fact my wife and son had kept their iPhones.

I was hoping and kinda planning on leading my family to switch over to Android with me, but that didn’t happen! So with my kids using my old iPhone 7 under the Family Sharing I had set up, and with my wife sticking to Apple Music and iMessage etc, I kinda had to go back. Practically, it just made more sense and works out better overall.

It’s the Apple ecosystem that pulls you in and keeps you. And frankly, I really like it. I had even quit using Spotify, embracing Apple Music beforehand. The switcheroo was a no-brainer.

For a moment, when I was prepping to leave my Android phone, I had some anxiety. I wasn’t sure I could de-couple from it, being so entrenched in the Google-verse. Long story short, I just went for it. And right away, I was so glad to be using an iPhone again.

Apple Centric

So yeah, I guess I give up. Take my money, Apple. I’m interested in more, because the Apple ecosystem of hardware and software gets better the more invested you are. AirPods, HomePod mini, Apple Watch, iPad, MacBook Air, MagSafe, rumored Tile-finding devices… What do I want for Christmas this year? Hmmm…

Yet I’m not too enamored. I’m still loving my simple and affordable Chromebook and, so far, am still relying on many Google apps and services or other 3rd-party ones.

Mobile Computing is my thing. It’s also Apple’s, and I think they do it best. Yet Google is strongest at cloud services. As always, I hope to pick what works best, not break the bank, and resist some marketing hype. But in the end, I’m still only human.

Hey, Siri! It’s me, Jason; I’m back.


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iPhone Temptation

When looking at Apple’s new iPhones, I’m tempted to buy the more expensive versions. I am lured by the upsell. The least expensive iPhone is all the smartphone you need…but the other iPhones are more shiny!

The dubious rationale behind the purchase of a $1,000 phone is explained nicely in this article on Medium: The Weird Economics of the Apple Upsell.

This year, Apple’s iPhone lineup is a huge Sarlacc pit, ready to pull you in at any point. The span of magical iPhones for 2020 is impressive indeed; there are 7!

The new top iPhone 12 Pro Max 512GB at $1,400 is a full $1,000 more than the 64GB iPhone SE at $400!

Yet both iPhones do basically the same things: make phone calls, texts, take good pictures, run apps, and surf the web. Both have NFC for wireless payments. Both are water resistant.

So what justifies the huge price difference? Fair question. What is the rationale behind buying anything over the iPhone SE?

In the Medium article I mentioned above, it talks about comparing the cheapest new iPhone to the next one in the lineup and then repeating that process each step of the way up until you’ve rationalized buying a phone for $1,400. It makes sense yet it’s kind of bonkers at the same time.

But here’s how to break that reasoning. Don’t compare the iPhone SE to the next one up the lineup chain. Compare the new $400 iPhone, which is all you really need, to the old phone you are upgrading from. That’s the only one to compare to.

If your current phone is ready for an upgrade, then you simply compare it to the least expensive iPhone and leave it at that. Don’t look at the others. Compare only your old phone with the new lowest-cost iPhone. Old phone: frown. New phone: smile. New phone only $400, yes!

It would be nice to live in a reality where we’re rational all the time and never let our emotions or impulses affect our decisions. But we don’t.

Yet it’s rational to strive for such rationality. So we do.


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Your Phone Is Your Computer

In the last few years, smartphones have become more expensive. In fact, some phones cost more than laptops. How can a phone command such a high price tag? Among many factors, I’m looking at this one idea: your phone is your computer.

Here’s one example of the higher price of a smartphone over a laptop: my own Android phone is $250. And my Chromebook, on sale, was about $200. So my phone cost more than my laptop. How can that be?

Another example of device cost disparity is found in Apple’s 2020 iPhone lineup too. With new Apple iPhones now on sale, you might be faced with choosing one that costs more than a MacBook. This is “just a phone” we’re talking about here, right?

The new iPhone 12 Pro Max with 512GB storage costs $1,400 while the entry level MacBook Air is priced at $1,000. Why does a phone cost $400 more than a computer?

Whether you’re looking at an expensive iPhone or a flagship Android phone like the Samsung Galaxy Note20, you’re likely to spend as much, if not more, than you would on your laptop or desktop computer. That sounds a bit ludicrous, but it kind of makes sense when you think about it.


The Most Personal Computer

These days, we rely on smartphones more than our computers. And although computers are productivity machines, our phones do as much or more. Since phones are pocketable, they’re more versatile than traditional computers.

Your phone is your point-n-shoot camera; it’s always with you to capture life’s moments. Then on that same phone you edit the photos or videos from the camera, much like you can edit video on a desktop PC.

Smartphones are now our wallets too. They wirelessly pay for things at the store. And they secure your identity so you can pay online. Speaking of money, you can budget finances right on your phone using a spreadsheet or a specialized app.

Our phones, using GPS and an accelerometer, record our steps and calculate our general fitness; they’re like pedometers. Try doing that with your laptop in your backpack.

And phones are now the best music playback devices. They stream wirelessly from the internet to any bluetooth speaker or headphones, at home and on-the-go.

So a phone’s utility often outclasses a productivity laptop. Smartphones changed computing life as we know it starting back in 2007 when the first iPhone debuted. Many people today couldn’t live without a smartphone; they’re as necessary as cars.

Yet when we look at a new phone that costs $1,000 or more, we wear a grimace emoji on our face. Sticker shock shows we forget how much we rely on our phones for all their many capabilities.


I tend to be budget conscious and frugal. Yet I think that since phones are the most important computer in our daily lives, it’s reasonable to pay a high price for them. And to offset that cost, we can say a laptop is our secondary computer, like a peripheral that is ancillary to our mobile phone, and thus pay less for it.

In other words, flip the script.

Instead of a low cost phone and high cost laptop, get a high cost phone and low cost laptop.

Either way, the more I think about all that I use a phone for in daily life, and how much I rely on it, the higher prices seem justified. Our smartphones are tiny marvels of modern mobile computing.

Yet novelty, hype, and marketing work hard to sell those high priced smartphones; I work hard to resist.

What’s your take on high cost phones these days? Do you feel the prices are warranted?


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Apple iPhone Lineup 2020

Apple spilled the sauce this week. The mobile devices company revealed its newest iPhone(s). There are 4 new ones for 2020. They’re similar to each other, and they’re familiar, being basically the same as last year’s iPhone. They are, after all, iPhones. And that’s not a bad thing.

Watch Apple announce the new iPhone 12 and more.

iPhone 12

For 2020, the four new iPhones are all twelves. You have two tiers; each tier has two versions that differ mainly by size. In fact, when you compare them by specs, you see they have very little difference between them.

The lower tier of iPhone(s) 12 is, I guess, the “normal” one. The upper tier is called “Pro.” Although there are 4 new iPhones, there are only three sizes: small, medium, and large.

SmalliPhone 12 mini5.4” screen
MediumiPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro6.1” screen
LargeiPhone 12 Pro Max6.7” screen

This year, the iPhone 12-es do not offer any major new features; they simply iterate current abilities. Basically, they’re all a little bit faster, nicer, or better than before. If you have an iPhone 11 from last year, I don’t see why you’d need to upgrade.

But do the new iPhones need to make great new advancements? No, not really. They’re already excellent mobile devices, firmly established at the leading edge of mobile computing. This year, they keep that solid stance, moving forward just enough with the march of time.

Well, the cameras are improved, especially on the most expensive model. But I dare say that most people’s phone cameras are good enough these days. So why shell out so much money for a phone that costs $1,000?

The real updates to the 2020 iPhones is the all-new-retro industrial design we first saw with the wonderful iPhone 4 back in 2010. That’s right, the greatest thing about the latest iPhones appears to be their appearance – a 10 year old squared-edge design.

Plus, new colors.

Yes, the iPhone(s) 12 do look as super sleek as ever. It would be travesty to encase them. But nobody wants to drop their fancy expensive mobile computer on the concrete. Heck, I put my “budget” $250 Android phone in a $20 case with a glass shield on it.

I would have bought a vibranium case, but Walmart was all out. And the adamantium cases cost too much. So, they’re really unobtanium. But I digress for fun.

Here’s the full starting price comparison of all the current iPhones Apple now sells:

iPhone SE$400
iPhone XR$500
iPhone 11$600
iPhone 12 mini$729*
iPhone 12$829*
iPhone 12 Pro$1000
iPhone 12 Pro Max$1100
*Depends on carrier…

It should be noted that the $400 iPhone SE can do all the same basic things as the $1100 iPhone 12 Pro Max. The differences, costing $700 more, are enhancements and preferences.

For this year’s iPhones, Apple also announced new MagSafe accessories. Cases, wallets, and chargers, for example, magnetically attach to iPhone 12. The video demos make MagSafe look compelling.

As an aside, Apple has talked about Augmented Reality (AR) in its product announcements for years, touting it as the future or as innovative. It looks cool in demos, but is anyone actually using AR? It doesn’t seem to be a real thing, or maybe it remains niche. I keep thinking that, after years of advancing AR tech, a compelling use case would appear. /Crickets.

Oh, and the iPhone 12-s now have 5G.


HomePod mini

One other thing that Apple announced is their new $99 HomePod mini. Notice that I prefaced the product’s name with its price, because that, to me, is what’s most “magical” about this Apple product.

Despite being a “Mobile Devices Company,” Apple is pushing into the home devices market. A sub-$100 price point is like a magical barrier. Given the cost and the capabilities of the HomePod mini, Apple is banking on each household buying multiple mini HomePods.

Even I, an Apple-deviceless nerd, am tempted.

Besides being affordable (for an Apple product), the HomePod mini is said to play good quality music in a 360 degree spatial way, so it should sound good from any direction. Nice.

And if you have two ($198!) HomePod minis in the same room, they will auto-magically pair together to play audio in stereo. Nice-Nice!

Also, you can play music throughout the entire house from all available HomePod minis.

Plus, with multiple mini HomePods, you can use a feature called “Intercom.” It does what you think and sounds useful. You can announce to your household anything you want. Siri plays back your voice, not the Siri voice, to share your announcement. And you can speak it from anywhere: your Apple Watch, your iPhone, your other HomePod mini.

From what I’ve read online, though, Amazon’s Echo speakers with Alexa have the same functions, more or less, and they come with even lower price tags. But Apple is known to make devices work together better than any other company. And since iPhones are common in many households, a $99 Apple smart speaker should be an easy sell.


Apple Aspirations

Apple has made incremental moves in the mobile device area with the new iPhone 12 while it has made a big step in the home device area. But add to that Apple’s product launches last month, the new Apple Watch and iPads; you see overall progress for its mobile devices business. And more is on the way.

Next month, Apple is said to be revealing another of its biggest leaps forward for mobile computing with new laptops featuring its own custom CPUs. As usual, we’ll wait and see.

I admit, since my wife and kids use iPhones, I’ve been thinking about switching back. And these Apple announcements draw me. Even when you look past the marketing hype, there’s no doubt that Apple devices have high-quality and reliability. Plus, they have privacy and security. And now iPhones have widgets like Android.

So…


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