Macnificent Podcast: 32. Probably a Controversial Opinion

This week, Chris and Ian recount their history with Apple, the products and experiences that shaped their love of the company, and some of Apple’s more memorable moments.

The Topics

iPod Classic

iPod Nano

Macintosh 2

Spectre Game for Macintosh

Original iPhone

1st Generation iPad

Apple LISA

Apple Bandai Pippin

Macintosh TV

iPod Shuffle, 3rd Gen

3rd Generation iPad

Apple 1984 Superbowl Commercial

Mac vs PC

Will Ferrel iPhone Commercial

The Original Switch Commercial

Original iPhone Commercial Campaign

iPad Air Your Verse Commercial

Apple 2013 Christmas Commercial

Apple 2014 Christmas Commercial

Something of the Week:

Ian: Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty

Chris: popSlate 2

@MacnificentFM

@IanFuchs

@CLHauk

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A Quick Q-and-A about Google Glass

I always enjoy sharing my opinions on technology with friends and family.  Even more so, when someone in public asks me about a device, accessory, app, etc. I always enjoy answering their questions and helping them understand or find something to fit their life.  In the last month, the device that’s sparked lots of questions from friends, family, and strangers alike is my Google Glass (check out my initial impressions of the device).

Google Glass

In the times I’ve taken Glass out in public, I’ve also received a handful of questions about how it works, what it does, and the like. Since Google Glass is extremely new, and relatively rare to see out and about, it seemed only fair to address some of the more common questions that I’ve been asked.

Continue reading “A Quick Q-and-A about Google Glass”

First Impressions: Hands-On With Google Glass – The (Possible) Future of Mobile Computing

We all know (and if you don’t, SHAME!) of Sonny Dickson.  He’s the guy that leaked several dozen photos of the new iPhones and iPads this past fall (with near perfect accuracy, I might add).  Not only is Sonny a super sleuth when it comes to connections in Apple’s production line, he’s also been kind enough to get us, at MacTrast, into the Google Glass Explorer program.

Glass-artsy

After getting invited to join the program, we thought it would be fair to share with all of you, what Google Glass is all about.  Today, we’ll take a look at what comes in the box, and I’ll give a few of my initial impressions.

Before I get to that, though, I will remind all of you that Google Glass is currently in a sort of quasi-open beta program.  Those allowed early access to the product are selected on a invitation basis, and have only seven (7) days from receiving their invite to order their Glass.  I would venture to guess that there are between 10,000 and 20,000 explorers out there right now, but I could be way off (Google didn’t seem to have any real solid numbers publicly available), and that number is growing as Google is in the midst of opening their second string of invites.

Enough about the technicalities though – head over to MacTrast.com for all the juicy details!


WWDC 2013 Predictions

With just over 12 hours until the 2013 WWDC keynote presentation, hundreds (or more) speculations, mock-ups, and predictions have hit the net.

I’m not typically one for making predictions or hypothesizing, especially when I have no insider knowledge of the matter, but I can’t help but speculate what may be on display in Moscone come tomorrow afternoon.

1. iOS 7.

This one is obvious. We know its gonna be called iOS 7 – the banners are up and photos are out. The bigger question is about what it will include.

Looking back at the iOS 4, 5, and 6 announcements (and associated banners), there was always a heavy weighted font and element of realism involved. Now that we’ve seen the slim iOS 7 type-face, I can only assume that we are bound to see a might lighter, smoother, simpler iOS.

I also think Apple is going to reshape the developers aspect of iOS. With recent rumors of AirDrop like functionality coming to
iPhone, iPad, and iPod touches, a much more advanced file structure and true app <> file interaction. Much like Android has offered for years now, the ability to click a photo and open it in any photo editor or send an document from app to app without having to export to Dropbox and move it around would be huge.

2. OS X 9?

While the general consensus is that OS X 10.9 is coming (has anyone else realized that technically the name is them OS 10 10.9?), I’m under the notion that we may see a very new OS X released. While the Mac operating system has certainly changed over time, many elements have remained consistent. It’s about time we see a huge change in OS X, hopefully not at the cost of usability or function. I’d truly like to see OS X 11.

With support for touch screen control (more on that later), more human interaction (Jarvis, look-up iron man 3), and a less hierarchical file system (to coincide with iOS) would all changes the Mac user demographic could make good use out of.


3. New products

I’m in full agreement with Mark Gurman on the lack of new iPad mini (or any iOS device). I could, however, see Apple alluding to new devices in updates to Xcode and app requirements. Support for a new screen resolution could quickly suggest a larger iPhone or higher PPI iPad mini.

Reports say Apple could be looking to AGAIN update the retina MacBook Pro line, which, to me, only makes sense if the update includes touch screen. An updated retina MacBook Air could also be huge for the Apple PC lineup, as well as a retina Thunderbolt Display.

4. The unknown.

Apple’s hobby market, the Apple TV could likely be a show stopper at WWDC, depending on what recent deals Apple may have made and how actively Apple decides to become involved in the future of home entertainment.

Another area of speculation is the iWatch market. If Apple is truly holding the Ace to drop at the end of the Keynote, it could completely reinvent the idea of wearable tech. With devices like the Pebble, Nike’s Fuel Band, and the increasing curiosity surrounding Google Glass, Apple releasing a wrist watch type wearable device could set the tone for yet another new industry (much like it did in the tablet industry with the iPad.

I’m no genius, but it looks like Apple is truly in a unique place that could greatly impact it’s position in mobile market in a matter of a few hours. If Apple fails to deliver significant (desired) changes, it could be a sign that they are losing their edge. Will we see a mass exodus – probably not – but it has become increasingly apparent that the Apple OS platforms have become stale, and developers are anxious to see what changes that will bring to the worlds most advanced computer and mobile operating systems.

It all goes down at 10 AM (pacific) tomorrow, and I’ll be following along as well as I can!

What do you think is to come? Send your best guesses to me on twitter – @IanFuchs, or leave a comment down below!

 


Why Verizon’s Shared Data Plans Suck

I’ve been a paying Verizon customer for over almost 3 years now (after a brief stint with AT&T after college).  My cellphone contract is the longest standing commitment I’ve had with any company for any thing (aside from my bank accounts).  On top of having the experience of being a customer, I also had the privilege of working for a Verizon Wireless Premium Retailer as one of my first jobs out of college.  Regardless of what money I give Verizon or what experience I have with the company, one things if for sure… THEY ARE TRYING TO SCREW ME .

When I signed on to have Verizon as my wireless provider, my account looked something like this.

700 Min + Unlimited texting: $80.00

Moto Droid (mine): $9.99 + $30 unlimited data

Moto Droid (my wife): $9.99 + $30 unlimited data

Basic phone (home phone) $9.99

Total bill – $170+taxes and fees.

Around year later, we picked up iPhones (when Verizon finally offered it) for our daily phones, and maintained the same basic phone as our home phone… but our bill went virtually unchanged.  We were able to use our iPhones as much as we wanted for texting and surfing the net.  On top of that, our 700 minutes included the unlimited nights and weekends + unlimited mobile-to-mobile calling, so we were using – at most – 150 minutes/month (if I used my phone for work related things).

When “Big Red” decided they were going to jump on the bandwagon of tiered data (no more unlimited – pay more to use more), I gave it a moment of consideration.  With the tiered data plan, I could keep my bill unchanged, but instead of paying the $30 for each smartphone to have unlimited data, each phone would be limited to 2GB/month (that’s what you get for $30).  Verizon even sweetened the pot by offering customers who jumped to tiered data a double-up on their data.  For only $30/line/month, we could pull 4GB of data each (totaling 8GB of data available/month – granted it wasn’t shared).

This didn’t sound like a bad deal… but when I could have unlimited data for $30/month, why would I choose to switch to something that gives me less for the same cost?  Then Verizon started policing usage by “legacy” data plan users.  If you were on an unlimited data plan, Verizon could “optimize” their network, by limiting your bandwidth, to allow more consistent speeds for those on tiered data plans.  This was a huge difference from AT&T’s data throttling, as Verizon would only do this when necessary (like when a specific tower is experiencing higher-than-normal traffic – like at a baseball game or concert).  The potential for Verizon to cripple my iPhones ability to surf the web scared me a little, and I began to think more about the tiered data plans.

A discussion with my wife reminded me that the best deal is the one that gives you the most for the least… stick with unlimited.  And we did.  Then the news broke – Verizon was dumping their 11-month-old tiered data plan options, and switching to a “more affordable” shared data model – Share Everything.  You already share minutes and texts with everyone in your plan, why not share your data too?

because is f***ing expensive.

Verizon’s new Share Everything plans sound really good – when pitched in commercials & by reps.  Verizon will tell you the new Share Everything plan features a couple “attractive” features.

  • Unlimited minutes, shared across all your devices
  • You can have up to 10 devices on your plan – a decent jump from the previous limit of 5!
  • You no longer have to pay extra to use tethering/mobile hotspot on your smartphone  ($20 value)

Verizon also boasts that you get unlimited texting with the ShareEverything (SE) plan, but most people already had unlimited texting bundled in with their minute plans – especially if they’re using a smartphone or have kids (the target audience of the new SE plans).  While Verizon highlights the unlimited texting as another great perk, I don’t see it as a real gain.

Lets take a look at the cost of the new Share Everything plans.  To start with, you choose your devices.  Smartphones ring in at $40/month each – which is the same as what I’m paying now.  Basic phones roll in at $30/month each, so a $20 increase/month from the current basic line cost.  Verizon also throws in hotspots/jetpacks/air cards/etc. for $20/month, and tablets for $10/month.   Where this gets interesting is that you no longer pay for the overall minute plan in the same sense.  You now choose your shared data level, and are left with your total.  The lowest offering is $50 for 1GB of shared data.  Whether you have 1 smartphone or 6, the data remains a shared bucket across all devices. Lets look at what I would get for the same dollar amount I pay now:

 My iPhone: $40

My wife’s iPhone $40

Basic Phone: $30

Unlimited Talk & Text + 2GB data: $60

Total bill – $170+taxes and fees.

Are they for real?  2GB of SHARED DATA! Had I jumped to tiered data when it was a per line addition, I could have 2GB for myself, my wife could have 2GB for herself, and we’d pay the same.  Better yet, with Verizon’s double data deal, we could have have 4GB each for the same cost.  How is this a good deal?  Who does this work for?

This is a good deal for someone.  It has to be… but who?  People who have several lines, constant wifi access for all devices, and spend a lot of time talking on the phone (to non-Verizon customers, during the day).  Seems like that really narrows the scope a bit, right?  Lets say – just for fun, that I ultimately ditch that basic phone and get a tablet instead.  I could move that $30 basic phone down to a $10 tablet price, save myself $20/month?  Fancy that, I can get 4GB MORE of data (a total of 6GB for $80) for that extra $20 and keep my bill the same.  It starts to look a little better here, but I’ve given up a line that can be used to talk or text.  I’m no longer getting one of those “great features” of Share Everything on one of my lines.

Something that doesn’t make sense to me here is this:

  • Mobile phone plans started out offering 50 minutes, no texting and you got billed for roaming (you know, calling outside of the town your phone number was native to).  It was expensive ($60 for 1 line, 50 minutes).
  • A few years later, plans featured larger minute offerings for the same price – or less (500 minutes for $60).
  • Skip ahead a few more years, and plans could include text messaging – again, more for about the same price (US Cellular, AT&T, and Verizon offered 500 minutes + unlimited texting for ~$65).
  • In 2009(ish) – more minutes, unlimited texting, unlimited data, slightly more costly, but a load more capability (1 line with 500 min, unlimited text, and unlimited data = $90).
  • Jump to 2012 – unlimited minutes (which is a useless notion), unlimited texting, and less data… for more money!  Ridiculous.

The mobile industry is screwing over customers more now than ever before.  Is there a good solution – not really.  I’m still holding onto my unlimited data plan.  Verizon says that when you upgrade (and sign a new 2-year contract – which means a subsidized phone cost), all customers on unlimited data are forced to change to a tiered data (for individuals) or shared data (for families) plan.  The only way around it is to pay for the phone at full-retail price.  My hopes of a $200 iPhone are lost, and I assume I’ll be shelling out $650/iPhone in a month or 2 when Apple drops “the new iPhone” onto the market.

At this point, it’s a lose-lose – but if they’re going to attempt to screw me around every corner, this is my tiny way of giving them the finger and taking advantage of being a long-standing customer.