Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Some thoughts on ios9 and OS X El Capitan from a non-user

I have not used iOS9 or OS X El Capitan, so these thoughts are based on Apple's announcements and observations from the Apple reporting community.  These releases are in public beta, and are available for normal release this fall.

What is new in El Capitan?  Here is a quick summary based mostly on Apple's announcement page: http://www.apple.com/osx/elcapitan-preview/

  • Split Screen to look at two apps in full screen view.
  • advanced Mission Control to organize your windows.
  • cursor finding capabilities - it can get big with a shake
  • updated spotlight - you can move and size the spotlight window,  search many other kinds of content (from the internet) including transit information, and use natural language for queries.
  • mail has many updated features:
    • full screen features enabling cut and paste across multiple threads
    • just like in iOS, we can now swipe to delete messages
    • more context sensitivity for adding contacts and events based on email messages
  • Notes is a much more fully featured app that some say will be able to compete with Evernote.  Images fit right in to notes, and there is an attachments browser.
  • Photos
    • 3rd party filters
    • 3rd party plugins for photo editing
    • location editing for a photo or an event is now possible (again)
  • Safari
    • Pinned sites for favorite websites
    • Air Play for web video (without sharing your whole screen)
    • The ability to mute all or other tabs
  • Maps
    • Public Transit information
    • time-based planning for a future trip
  • Better language support (for non-English languages)
  • Performance
    • Metal graphics performance comes to OS X
What is new in iOS 9?  https://www.apple.com/ios/ios9-preview/
  • A news app
  • An update to the Notes app (which matches new features in OS X Notes) including an attachments browser, checklists, and sketches
  • Maps
    • Transit, matching OS X features
    • A new nearby feature to find shopping and restaurants
  • Passbook becomes Wallet
    • your rewards/loyalty cards can in many cases will be part of Wallet.
    • A double-click to  the home button activates Apple Pay.
  • Carplay - major updates enabling using car knobs and applications from automakers.
  • Features for new iPads
    • Slide-over to have a 2nd app on the right 3rd of the screen.
    • Split view to have two apps shown 50/50
    • Picture in Picture - watch a video while using another application!
    • Quicktype:
      • Shortcut bar - Icons for cut, copy, paste, and fonts
      • Easy text selection - using multi-touch gestures on the on-screen keyboard to do text selection
      • Keyboard shortcuts - for external hardware keyboards
  • Siri - is supposed to be much more intelligent
    • context aware regarding photo and video information
    • can create context-aware reminders, based on what application you are currently using.
    • Deep search within apps
    • guesses for caller ID for unidentified callers?!?
  • Performance
    • power-savings across built-in iOS9 apps will enable longer battery life - 1 hour is claimed
    • built-in iOS9 apps use metal for faster performance
    • iOS updates stream and require much less free space to enable updates
  • 2-factor authentication for your AppleID means your old 
  • Android migration
    • Migrates much of your content automatically
    • Helps you re-download (or buy) applications on your Android device.

Frustrated with Music and iBooks on iOS

I am frustrated with Music and iBooks on iOS 8.  There have quietly been some fixes in iOS 8.4.1. Note:  I am not using Apple's new Apple Music service.  I do, however, happen to have and use iTunes Match.

I'll start with iBooks:

  • Peeve 1:  Until the recent fix, my iTunes server on OS X 10.7.5 was recently changed by Apple to no-longer know about Audiobooks.  It would import them, and then hide them.  No syncing of new audiobooks for users to iOS devices.  Thankfully, that has been fixed!
  • Peeve 2: iBooks does not remember my place in audiobooks reliably at all.  I am not the only one experiencing this problem.  Often iBooks puts me back at the start of a book.  
  • Peeve 3: iBooks often does not allow me to scan through to a point in a chapter - instead always showing that I am at 0.00 until the next chapter starts.  This is very frustrating.
Now on to Music:
  • The horizontal view in music went from cover flow (a while ago) to some other cover view, which was not at all useful, to no longer having a horizontal view.  Where did the horizontal view go?  Why can I not have a useful horizontal view?
  •  I never know what I'm going to get when I open the music app.  For example, I'm listening to a music playlist, and my iPhone was locked.  I unlocked and opened the music app, and the Radio choice is showing.  Why is Radio showing?  I'm not using radio at this time.
  • How do I see what I am listening to - i.e. a playlist I previously selected?  There is a tiny three-dots "button" to the right of the tiny line near the bottom that... doesn't get me back to the playlist.  It lets me "Start Station" - a radio station based on the current song.  Miracle of miracles, this time, when I clicked on My Music, I am back in my playlist.  I wonder if there was a fix in 8.4.1?  Usually I'm back in my music somewhere and have to re-select playlists and then reselect the playlist as the only way to get back to it.
  • How do I play the playlist over and over?  I see no controls for this in music any longer!  The controls are available when selecting the current playing song only, as a tiny icon in 2nd from the right.  It has the same 3 options as it always had - it just isn't available on the playlist screen any longer
  • Is it on my iPhone or not?  I'm getting on a plane... Ah a fix with 8.4.1 - I can see with a tiny icon on the right next to the song now. 

Bonus peeve: outages in the Apple Store - I tried to redeem a free song on a Starbucks card from Apple - but I cannot as the store is unavailable.  Adding insult to injury, I had to retype my AppleID password to check every time.  Not fun Apple.

I have been known by some for watching news about Apple and information from Apple with a large amount of attention.  Apple feels much less transparent about these kinds of problems and changes now.  That greatly disappoints me.  It feels more like what I hear from Android users, frankly.

I reveled in being able to get an elderly relative to use an iPhone when not familiar with using the internet.  Now these items are getting less self-explanatory, quietly having new major feature problems, and videos and manuals are needed to know how to use them.  It is not what I expect.