Apple has lost the functional high ground

Great post from Marco Arment on the quality of Apple software:

We don’t need major OS releases every year. We don’t need each OS release to have a huge list of new features. We need our computers, phones, and tablets to work well first so we can enjoy new features released at a healthy, gradual, sustainable pace.

Apple’s OS X and iOS releases have become quite unreliable over the last couple of years and the issues that I still have with iTunes, iTunes Match and iCloud give me no confidence that they will ever work without an issue at some point. For music it’s making me look seriously at Google Play and Spotify. Apple are lucky in that their major competitor on the desktop is Windows 8.

Apple’s hardware is hard to beat from a design and function perspective but their software has got disappointing. It wasn’t always the case and I hope they can get of the treadmill and focus on quality and reliability.

*Update* – it’s a year to the day since I posted about Apple’s poor software quality and hoped for a change in 2014. I didn’t realise when I read Marco’s post tonight and it was only when looking at today’s Timehop that I saw a link to the post. A year on and many of the issues are still present. Apple really needs to address this.

How In-app Purchases Has Destroyed The Industry

Great post from Thomas Baekdal that has gained a lot of attention on Twitter and other blogs on In-App Purchasing and how it has destroyed, not just destroying, gaming. Many have focussed on the fact it has ruined iOS as a gaming platform. Looking at the top grossing app’s today it’s galling to see just how large some of the IAP options cost.

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The screens above are from just a few of the top grossing games on the iPad. The amounts are horrific when you consider a PS4 or Xbox One full price game is around £49.99. Hard to see how this will change though. I don’t buy into the freemium games model and refuse to start a game that relies on IAP as a way to play. I’m sure many gamers are the same but it looks like the majority of casual gamers see it as a legitimate way to play.

What’s worse is the creep of IAP into full price gaming. Forza 5 for example has some shocking IAP’s for a full price game. I don’t think gaming on iOS or Android is finished, rather there’s a need for Apple and Google to make a stand against some of the ridiculous IAP offerings that developers are allowed to make. I also think the industry as a whole should be marking down these titles – use the app store reviews to mark these titles as 1 star, game review sites should be warning people accordingly too. Ultimately though it’s only by not handing over cash so readily that we will see a reverse in this trend. Wake up people.

2013 was a lost year for tech

As I read this from Christopher Mims I kept thinking that somehow he has lost out on an exclusive over the last 12 months. Or someone stole his toys. To say:

All in, 2013 was an embarrassment for the entire tech industry and the engine that powers it—Silicon Valley.

is just crazy talk. Read John Gruber’s or Om Malik’s response for a more balanced view of what the last 12 months has meant.

2013 was a lost year for tech journalism would be far more accurate.

PlayStation 4 – The Review

Next gen (sorry Nintendo) is finally here with the first reviews of the PS4 which is out in America this Friday. The Polygon review is gorgeous to look at as well which is a bonus but others are rolling out today including Joystiq and Eurogamer.

Looks like the PS4 hardware is great but what isn’t is the initial game selection. Roll on next week when the Xbox One hits the UK.

The birth of xbox live

Great article from Russ Pitts at Polygon that details Xbox Live and the bets that Microsoft made all those years ago.

I still remember getting on the beta service for Xbox Live. Moto GP was the game and that first time on Xbox Live felt so alien. With the headset on I could hear others but talking felt wrong. I quickly realised it’s potential as the first couple of sessions saw me racing the Moto GP developers. Xbox Live was awesome!

A couple of hours later and Live’s true future was realised when I heard the words ‘get out the way ya fannie’. Two young Glaswegians were also on the beta and thought it was hilarious to curse and swear to everyone in the room.

The highs and lows of Xbox Live.

Alfonso Cuaron Returns to the Bigscreen After Seven Years With ‘Gravity’

I watched Gravity tonight and loved it. Possibly the best movie I’ve watched this year and one of the best I’ve enjoyed on IMAX in 3D. The effects were stunning and as I watched I was wondering how they shot some of the film…which this Variety article explains. Do not read this if you haven’t watched the film!

What’s interesting is that Shak found the film dull – polar opposite to what I felt. I’ve found others say the same, and I wonder if it’s because there is not much actual story. I love space and everything to do with it so I got sucked into the film early on and it never let go but I can understand how people can find it quite an empty film apart from the visuals.

Still, I highly recommend you catch this at an IMAX to enjoy it at it’s best – it won’t have the same impact watching at home.

Dear Mr Watterson

One of my favourite cartoons is Calvin & Hobbes. Next month a new documentary, Dear Mr Watterson, looks at why Calvin & Hobbes was so successful and the impact it’s had on a generation of readers. Bill Watterson created the strip and stopped publishing in 1995. He is very private and the film seemingly respects that privacy. Looking forward to this.

Calvin & Hobbes takes me back to my time at uni. Lewis let me borrow a copy of one of his books and I was hooked. So good.