In June 1984 my Dad bought me my very first computer, the first generation Macintosh. Ever since then I have grown to love and evangelize Apple products. When Steve Jobs returned to Apple I was like…HELL YEAH! And that’s when everything went from “Apple is gonna die” to “OMG Apple is kicking butt!” Sadly after Steve Jobs died, I felt very worried that the Apple I had come to know and love died with him. I remember telling a friend about 2 weeks after Jobs’ death:
Apple has about two, maybe three years left in it and then things are going to go downhill.
That was four years ago and things haven’t been going so well, maybe for the exception of the iPhone 6 series.
On Monday Apple revealed the new MacBook laptops and I have to say I am seeing something that is terrifyingly wrong. While I can admit that a minimal design is great for an operating system, for software applications and such, I cannot say it works in hardware. I think the world has made it clear that one port on a computer is just not right. If the laptop is charging, how am I supposed to charge my iPhone, or connect it to a projector for a presentation? Smaller and thinner isn’t always a good solution. For laptops, being light and elegant is nice – but in the case of the MacBook, the sacrifices made to make it so thin and light are way too high. The Force Touch trackpad is a disaster in the making, you literally have to crush your finger into it to get any feedback from it. The new keyboard is stiff and you really aren’t getting the tactile feedback your brain needs to help you know where your fingers are hitting. Next and most unfortunate is the screen size, 13 inches. That’s great if this was 2001, but this is 2015 and today’s applications require a lot more real estate. As a graphic artist I could never use this laptop for my work, and I don’t see anyone being able to benefit from a screen so small. Perhaps a grandmother who wants to Facetime with her grandchildren. I don’t even think a college student could tolerate a screen so small with all the windows that are usually open when doing research for a paper.
And for the first time in my life, I am going to say this: The MacBook is overpriced. Why would anyone spend $1299 for such a handicapped laptop, when you can get an incredibly feature rich laptop, with plenty of ports, for significantly less. Granted it would run Windows (yuck), but I am trying to make a point here – you are paying Apple for that stupid minimalistic design and all the work they had to do to cram stuff into that small space. It’s just ridiculous.
Next is Apple Watch. I cannot imagine Steve Jobs allowing such a thing to fly. It’s a vagrant display of wealth and serves no useful purpose except to extend your iPhone to your wrist. But you still need an iPhone to use all of the features. Why should I spend $500 on an Apple Watch when I can go out and get a Fitbit Surge, which covers the health monitoring aspect, for half that price. I don’t see why people need a watch on their wrist to tell them they have an appointment coming up in 30 minutes or that someone messaged them. That’s what we have smartphones for! So again, I think this is just Apple’s way of becoming a luxury company that sells luxury goods for people who are swimming in cash.
Last, but not least, is software. I have seen some very disturbing trends in Apple’s OS X and iOS operating systems. But before I start bashing, let me first say that Yosemite is an awesome OS, I love it. What I don’t like are the accessory applications that come with OS X, specifically iMovie. iMovie used to be an easy to use, easy to learn and understand, application. Sadly it has now become so complicated and so counter-intuitive, it reminds of something Microsoft would make. The user interface design is worthy of a greek tragedy. As a UI/UX designer myself I notice these things instantly. The first time I launched the latest version of iMovie I was lost. I had no clue what did what or where my stuff was or what the app was doing when I told it to share a video. In iOS 8, when I send a video or a photo to someone via Messages – I used to be able to tap on the video I just sent them and watch it again at full screen. Now I can’t do that – it plays inside a postage stamp sized area. If I want to see the video full screen I am forced to exit Messages and go into my camera roll. That’s just stupid.
So here we are, exactly where I figured Apple would be. I am still an Apple fan-boy, but at a much lower level. If Apple continues on this path, I may have no choice but to jump ship and become a follower of another product that is doing things the right way for their users and not wasting time and money with things that just aren’t practical.
During Monday’s presentation of the new MacBook and Apple Watch, all I could do is shake my head and shed a tear. The Apple I have known and loved, for over 25 years, really did die on October 5, 2011.