Understand What Apple is Achieving or Get Left Behind

Some observers complain that Apple doesn't come out with innovative products fast enough. Perhaps what they mean is that the rate isn't fast enough to keep their readers in a state of frenzied page views. But, in fact, it's actually quite hard to keep up with what Apple is doing, and it takes personal time and work to appreciate what Apple achieves. The alternative is to be left behind.

Out of the money, left behind.

If I were to characterize what I'm seeing by readers, including a few of my own, I'd say that there has been some resistance to the Apple Watch and the new MacBook. Apple customers are having a hard time putting Apple's products into perspective, learning about their intended use, thinking about how to exploit them and embracing the future.

During the March 9th Apple event, Phil Schiller, Apple's Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing said:

Our vision for the future of the notebook is one without wires.

To achieve that requires advanced technology and manufacturing. That costs Apple money, and sets the end user price accordingly. The MacBook, part of a larger line of very nice notebook computers from Apple, is designed for extreme mobility, not massive CPU power. And yet pervasive is the complaint that it's underpowered. Not exactly spot on thinking.

Meanwhile, with the Apple Watch, many potential customers seem to have mistaken the glitz of the Apple Watch for a glorified, expensive wristwatch instead of a breakthrough personal communication device. That's probably not Apple's fault. It's impossible to convey to potential customers what the Apple Watch can do in TV ads and short videos. The explanation would be tedious. So the natural solution is to create demand. The customers will figure it out later.

But put one in the hands of experts who instantly recognize what Apple is trying to do, and you have the makings of a revolution. That is, if readers take the time to study and read the right reviews. Those are the intelligent ones that explain rather than predict failure for dollars.

It seems to me there's a disconnect between the future that Apple is capable of laying out for us and the level of learning and expertise required to appreciate what Apple is doing. I blame headline click-baiting for that. Headlines that stress the dramatic, the potential corporate ruin or the most sordid matters get lots of views. But really good articles that tell the reader how the future is shaping up and how to exploit Apple's new technology are hard to turn into sexy headlines.

Believe me. We keep trying.

The alternative to this constant learning process is to become a grouch, always on the outside, always misunderstanding, always left behind.

On page two below I've collected some really good articles about the Apple Watch, the Apple MacBook and the Microsoft Surface 3. Learning how these devices work and how they can help you move smartly into the future is your number one task these days.

Don't screw it up.

Next page: the tech news debris for the week of April 13. Insights into Apple Watch, MacBook, Surface 3.

Page 2 - The Tech News Debris for the Week of April 13


Here's more on the new Apple MacBook from Bare Feats: a nice set of benchmarks that tell the story about what the MacBook is intended for. But then, we knew what the results would be. "SHOOTOUT: 12-inch Retina MacBook running Pro Apps and Games." Cutting to the chase, here's the important conclusion.

I would not recommend the 12-inch Retina MacBook for running any Pro Apps or Games featured on this page.... However, the 12-inch Retina MacBook handles email, browsing the internet, calendaring, writing notes, etc., just fine."

Which, incidentally, is exactly how I plan to use mine. When it arrives in May. (Awesome Space Gray. Not Gold.)

Image credit: Apple

Given all the discusion about this extraordinary MacBook as an OS X product, why not try it with Boot Camp and Windows? Andrew Cunningham at ars technica takes it for a spin. "Using the Retina MacBook as a Windows PC."

Finally, as you know, AndandTech does awesome reviews, and so let's check what that site has to say about the MacBook. "The 2015 MacBook Review." This review has everything, including key insights on how the Core M processor ramps up and down to/from Turbo speeds.

This is the review you read before you buy.

Image credit: Apple

Ben Bajarin is one of my favorite writers, and one can learn a lot from him. Check out his article, "My First Week With the Apple Watch." Especially helpful are his insights on "Notifications done right." If you have been in doubt about the usefulness of the Apple Watch for your own needs, read Ben's observations.

Here's another thoughtful, insightful review of what the Apple Watch tries to achieve by the distinguished analyst Horace Dediu, titled simply, "The Watch." Mr. Dediu writes, incisively:

Even more remarkably, this tasteful minder is offered not to a fortunate few but to millions of people of average means. In the true sense of technological democratization, Apple Watch is a phenomenon for mass consumption.

A maxim of the computing of the 21st century is that the closer the machine is to us the more we value it. It does not get rewarded for being fast but for being a companion. It does not get valued for features but for beauty. It does not get hired for power but for control. It does not get worn because it’s smart but because it’s clever.

People understand these tradeoffs instinctively.

Despite the insights by some very talented technologists, were early reviews of the Apple Watch, by those writers selected by Apple, really objective? Or were they designed to generate page views and secure the writer's favored position with Apple? Jean-Louis Gassée ponders the early Apple Watch reviews and quotes Neil Cybart who suggests that reviews are broken. (Not mine, I'll insist.) "An Apple Watch Meta-Review Reimagined."

One of these days, many of us will have a personal robot to assist with our lives. But why settle for the developer's ideas about what the robot's personality should be like? Download the one you want! "Want your robot to be Taylor Swift? Google can help."

I expect a rush by celebs to copyright their personalities—if it can even be done.

For a good tutorial on the politics and legal issues related to Net Neutrality rules, see "Here's Big Cable's plan to stop the FCC's net neutrality rules." It's long, so if all you have time for is the key issue, skip to the very last paragraph. It sums up the FCC's strong position nicely.

Image credit: Microsoft

My reaction to the new Microsoft Surface 3 tablet has been positive. I've handled one in a Microsoft store, and I hope to have one soon for review. Meanwhile, to get a taste of what Microsoft has finally done right, see "Surface 3 review: Smaller, slower, cheaper… better?" by Peter Bright at ars technica and "Microsoft Surface 3 review." by Tom Warren at The Verge.

It's gotten cool enough to want one.

Finally, it's really nice to know that an iPod touch has enough processing power that a chess grandmaster can get some useful, but highly illegal, help at a tournament. In this case, he was discovered and ejected from the tournament for consulting with his iPod in secret. The other chess grandmasters must have said, "Is that an iPod in your pocket or are you just happy to mate us?" Here's the sorry tale of a hard lesson learned. "Chess grandmaster hid an iPod touch in the bathroom to cheat during tournaments."


Teaser graphic via Shutterstock.

Particle Debris is a generally a mix of John Martellaro's observations and opinions about a standout event or article of the week (preamble on page one) followed by a discussion of articles that didn't make the TMO headlines, the technical news debris. The column is published most every Friday except for holidays.