So awesome. This is why I recently took up this hobby.
This is a video produced by Apple to encourage developers to make apps for iOS.
Here's last year's, if you didn't catch it at the time. It's equally heartfelt.
Amazing and inspirational video prominently featuring my good friend Andy Jay. If you enjoy watching talented gymnasts and free runners enjoy themselves, this video is for you.
Sometimes, things have to be done. This is one such example.
I'm honoured that the moment was captured by the official Rush photographer. Can't believe I was invited backstage — a perfect way to end my 7th time seeing this incredible trio.
Well, it’s an accurate title, I suppose.
My recent article, “A Tale of Two Adverts”, received a bit of attention online. Since publication, I’ve been keeping a closer eye on certain tech adverts because I think how a company advertises their product speaks volumes about how they view the product in the world. Microsoft has a new advert, so now’s a great time to analyse it.
I find most of the points raised in this ad to be questionable. Here’s a chronological list of them, along with my thoughts.
The iPad is a staggering 0.05” thicker than the Asus VivoTab RT. This seems like a weak first point to make to potential customers? That’s 1mm.
The iPad weighs 0.28 lb. more than the specific Windows 8 tablet Microsoft has chosen to compare it to. How convenient! (Microsoft’s own tablet, the Surface RT, actually weighs more than an iPad, but who’s keeping track, anyway?)
Microsoft’s poor software support for iPad
Yes, really! Microsoft criticises its own software in an advert — specifically, the lack of Office on iOS. This is an especially weak argument which is only getting weaker with time. Who actually enjoys using Microsoft Office? For me, the lack of Office support is actually a plus — the (hundreds of) alternatives available on iOS are much more enjoyable to use. (I appreciate I’m in a fortunate position not having to use Office, but how many people do actually enjoy using the suite? My guess? Not many.)
Support for multitasking in iOS exists, but Windows RT can display multiple apps at once — side by side. This is the first real point I feel is worthy of being presented in an advert, even though I question whether the tradeoffs made by this UI decision are actually worth it — every Windows Store app should be made to work full size, 1/3 size and 2/3 size. I imagine this isn’t trivial for developers to code. Considering Microsoft is struggling to gain marketshare in the smartphone and tablet world, adding complexities for developers to deal with may not be the best idea.
The Windows device shown in this advert has a microSD card slot for extra storage — just like the Surface RT. Whilst I appreciate the conveniences a microSD card can provide, it’s solving the wrong problem. The future is ubiquitous online connectivity, cloud storage and streaming — not memory cards. These portable storage cards require careful file management, something Apple wants users to avoid.
Criticising the iPad for not supporting as many printers as Windows RT devices is quite rich, considering what Microsoft considers “support”. Many Windows RT devices include support for cable-based USB printing — but wireless printing is a completely different story.
On iOS, the only way to print is wirelessly. Who wants a cable? Nobody, right?
In order for devices to qualify as AirPrint-enabled by Apple, they must meet some quite tough standards, such as not requiring any drivers. (Perhaps Microsoft is so okay with filling their devices up with crap that a bunch of printer drivers crammed onto the device seems fine?)
Say I own a Windows RT device and want to print wirelessly. Surely it must be much easier than on an iPad — after all, this advert shows wireless printing working perfectly, with the iPad dubbed as “Needing a special Apple printer”. The official Microsoft Surface support page answers my question:
Surface RT is compatible with printers that are certified for Windows RT. Some printers might not work with Windows RT or might not support all of the features of your printer. To find out what's compatible, find your printer in the Windows Compatibility Centre.
I checked my printer (which isn’t AirPrint-enabled), but it isn’t supported for Windows RT. Looks like you “Need a special Microsoft printer” in order to print wirelessly from Windows RT. Huh.
Considering AirPrint has been around longer than Windows RT, I imagine the wireless printing ecosystem is actually stronger on iOS than Windows RT — and that there are more AirPrint-enabled printers than Windows RT Wireless Printing(™)-enabled printers. I call foul.
Better luck next time
There are certainly some problems with Microsoft’s branding and advertising, but this article exaggerates them for comedic effect. I hope to see future Microsoft adverts showing products in use, being loved by people who feel real. Apple’s new ad, “Music Every Day”, just like their previous effort, focuses on exactly this. It’s compelling, touching and feels real. What more could you ask for?
The iTunes Mini Player has always been a feature I’ve stayed away from: it never helped me browse, queue up or enjoy my music in new ways. With the latest update, however, that’s all changed. I now find myself making heavy use of it.
Here are some reasons why:
- Playback controls from within the mini player, including being able to add the current playing song to playlists or start a genius playlist
- AirPlay controls
- Up Next access allows me to queue up songs to play after the current track finishes — or stop playback when the current song ends
- Search feature allows me to find and queue up any song within my music library
- Beautiful artwork display, with a user interface which fades away when not being used
- Mini Player hovers above all other OS X windows allowing me to enjoy artwork whilst doing other work — it’s even possible to hide the “Up Next” or “Search” drawer at the bottom of the window so only the artwork is visible
This update to iTunes seems to be one of the most profound in recent memory: whilst the upgrade to iTunes 11 was arguably a bigger undertaking, Apple has now really brought the Mini Player up to the next level. Music enthusiasts and casual listeners alike should enjoy all the new features. To get started, just click the icon next to the “Full Screen” button on the top right of the full iTunes window.