"Despite Its Flaws . . ."


. . . I like Apple Music. It works for me.

. . . the Apple Watch is pretty neat. I wear it daily.

. . . the new Apple TV is pretty good.

This is how I’ve described Apple’s three new products released this year when asked. I like them, but I’m hesitant to recommend others buy them because of frustrating flaws or the absense of essential features.

If you ask me to describe my iPhone 6s Plus, iPad mini 4, or Retina 5K iMac, I have nothing but gushing praise. Admittedly, they are more mature products, but I’d also argue my review of the original iPhone and iPad was much more positive than my reviews of any “Version One” Apple has put out this year.

The original iPhone not only changed the industry, but it changed my life — from the first day. The original iPad showed me the future of computing. Even if I only use my iPad for watching video and reading, I use it for hours a day. And the iMac and OS X are so mature at this point, niggling bugs are really all I can complain about.

So what’s changed from those products to these new ones? I refuse to believe or use the “Steve Jobs” excuse. Apple is filled with brilliant people at all levels of the organizational chart. You don’t become the biggest corporation in the world being run by dummies.

I’d entertain the idea that Apple is stretching itself too thin. Despite being the biggest company in the world, they have gone from a single platform (OS X) to managing six (OS X, iOS, tvOS, watchOS, iCloud, and CarPlay). Apple has always struck me as a company that does more with less, but even this amount of annual innovation seems like an insane amount of work for one company to do without more than a few hiccups along the way.

My guess is our expectations for these products have grown exponentially from nearly a decade ago when Apple started really pressing the gas pedal on mobile and technology in general. The original iPhone was compared to a Blackberry or Nokia. The original iPad’s biggest competitor was a Windows PC Tablet. The only place I ever saw one of those was a university classroom.

Compare that to Apple Music, running up against Spotify, which is really damn good. The Apple TV is competing against Roku, TiVo, Xfinity X1, and a variety of other incumbents. I’m really not sure who or what the Apple Watch is competing against. FitBit? Android Wear? Omega?

When I die, I want my eulogy to mention all the time I wasted manually entering secure passwords on the new Apple TV.

— Justin Williams (@justin) October 31, 2015

When the bar is raised by existing competition, the flaws of a 1.0 product stick out far more than they did when you’re revolutionizing and changing a market that is either dormant or nonexistent. The piss-poor performance of apps on the Watch is hard to ignore. The clusterfuck of an interface that Apple Music has compared to Spotify is hard to justify. The lack of an update to the Remote app or Bluetooth Keyboard support on the Apple TV makes me curious how Apple prioritizes features; that truly seems like a glaring omission.

The Watch, Music, and TV products will continue to evolve over the next few years and see continued improvement, but I can’t deny I’m longing for the days of an original Apple product putting my jaw on the floor and giving me zero hesitation recommending it to others.

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By Justin Williams

This is a two sentence bio. There are many like it, but this one is mine.