Apple Ecosphere

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Apple Ecosphere: a reader asks…

Bit by bit I’ve been sucked into the Apple world. It started with the iPhone 6, then I got into Apple Music (subscription as well as my huge library), then a pair of Airpods, then an Apple Watch, an iPad Pro and finally a 12″ Macbook. Gotta say I’m pretty happy, they all work pretty well together once I bumped up the iCloud storage space. Yep, I’m paying Apple monthly both for Apple Music and for iCloud storage. I’m ok with that. My question is, do you think I should upgrade to the iPhone X? It’s not a question of money (I’m on the Apple upgrade program) or affordability, it’s more about the changes the X has over the tried-and-true TouchID.

I can only tell you about my own experience which is somewhat similar to yours. I’ve had my 2016 Macbook for over a year, the iPhone X since Friday afternoon, my Airpods for 10 months, my Series 3 watch for 2 months, and Apple Music for 6 months. Here’s my impressions of each, positive and negative, followed by my overall impression of being in the Apple ecosphere.

apple-macbook-image-from-appledotcomMacbook: This is a reliable workhorse for general computing. Had I wished to do stuff like video editing I would have chosen the Macbook Pro, but for everyday tasks it’s fine. Like web-surfing, email, documents, spreadsheets, presentations and the like. I use Office 365 with it, and miss a few features on the Windows version but am otherwise ok with the performance. Battery life is just fine, I can go pretty much all day without having to charge. A nice touch, my Apple Watch will unlock the Macbook from sleep mode (not when first booting up) to get me working faster. I can take phone calls and do text messaging on the Macbook, so I don’t have to pull out my iPhone to answer a call.

Apple Music: While I also have a huge library I amassed over the years, with Apple Music I can listen to just about anything I want. I can create custom music stations (like playlists, only Apple picks songs similar to what I’d put in my own playlist). I’ve used Pandora and Spotify and Apple Music is fine for my needs, which admittedly aren’t as focused as such for music audiophiles. I just like to listen to tunes and be able to switch around easily. Apple Music does this for me.

airpods-image-from-appledotcomAirpods: I’ve used a lot of different wireless earbuds since the Airpods were first announced, it took several months for me to get my hands on them. These are true gems, rock-solid performance and great battery life. I have run the battery down with long phone conversations, and if I need to extend I just pop one earbud out to charge and swap them to keep going. Most wireless earbuds have trouble running the signal through water (like your body) so I had to be careful which pocket I put my phone. Not with Airpods, they work no matter which way I use them. Imo, this is the 2nd best product Apple’s produced that I use every day and have no regrets on cutting that particular cord. They’ve never fallen out of my ears without help (like pulling my shirt over my head), and the sound quality is fine for me (again, I’m no audiophile).

apple-watch-series-3-ordering-page-screenshotApple Watch Series 3: A huge improvement over my original Series 0 watch, I can’t imagine going a day without my watch now. I went without it for one weekend and really missed it. I check my text messages (and sometimes emails), news headlines and weather on my watch, and can answer the phone (with my Airpods in) with a quick tap on the wrist. With this I take my iPhone out of my pocket much less often. The Series 3 has all-day and evening battery life even with my high usage pattern. With WatchOS 4.1 I can even stream Apple Music, although I haven’t tried that yet and expect it will take a big hit to battery life (as it should). Yes, the watch is my #1 best Apple product that I get the best use out of more than any other.

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iPad: I have the iPad Air 2, so am a bit behind you, but I mostly use it for reading books (Kindle app) and for surfing the web. The instant-use-anywhere capability and reliable workings (plus good battery life even 2 years after purchase) means I’ll use it more often than the Macbook for web-surfing – it’s just faster and easier.

iphoneX-image-from-appledotcomLastly, my new iPhone X: Most of the reviews I read both before I got mine and after seem to be written by folks who either don’t have one, or didn’t spend much time with theirs. I don’t find the notch a bother, the indicators that fit in the screen ‘ears’ work just fine, and they are good spots to swipe down for the notifications (left ear) and control panel (right ear). I don’t see what all the fuss is about. Battery life when I first set it up wasn’t so great as it took many hours to get my hundreds of apps and such downloaded, but after that was done I found I can get all-day and evening use out of it. I have always charged my iPhones overnight, and wouldn’t expect multi-day use out of my usage pattern, which is pretty heavy. The screen is great and a significant improvement over my old iPhone 6. I am not one for the huge slabs like the iPhone 8 Plus or the various Android phablets, the size of the iPhone 6 (and now iPhone X) work pretty perfect for me, my pockets and my hands.

Performance on the iPhone X is what you’d expect – fast! I’m back to having my internet speed being the slowest part of the equation & experience using a smartphone, as it should be. Of course I got a case (Tech 21) for it, I’m not silly. I’ve not used a smartphone without a protective case in years. FaceID works fine, just as good as TouchID did for my needs, and the fallback passcode is the same as it always was (not that I need that much). I’ve never doubted Apple’s security posture and don’t think they’ve strayed with FaceID. For other features, I tried the animoji once, but am meh on it. I also think the Portrait Stage Light feature is a work in progress (ways to go there). The Portrait with Bokeh is nice, but I’m also just a snapshot kind of user, so it’s more than good enough.

Summary: Apple Music isn’t a deal-maker or breaker for me. Having a larger iCloud storage allowance is critical, given I have several devices that backup to iCloud and I have a ton of photos to back up. I’m ecstatic about my Watch and Airpods, and very happy with the new iPhone X. The rest are good products that help me in my digital life. I use the Watch the most often, Airpods almost as much, and iPhone pretty heavily (to read news, email, text, phone and some web-surfing). All in all, I’m not dazzled by Apple tech, nor am I overly critical. For someone who’s fully or even partly in the Apple ecosphere, the choices within that ecosphere are enough to satisfy most people. I don’t think Apple’s products are going to attract a lot of Android-powered users, but it will certainly grab some who are unhappy with their tech. Just like some folks who are unhappy with Apple tech will gravitate to Android-powered devices.

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But all-in-all, I’m satisfied that Apple’s trajectory on tech is going well, and I betcha that in a year or two, most smartphones will have no headphone jack, and be using biometric security and full-screen displays. Certainly since last year the iPhone 7 and Airpods pointed the way towards the future. With wireless charging (Apple charging pads and Airpod wireless charging cases forthcoming next year), Apple is moving us towards a more wire-free co-existence with our tech. If only Apple would improve Siri as much as they’ve improved the iPhone.
There are currently 680 reader comments on my articles, care to join in? Use the Leave a Comment form below/at the bottom of any existing comments. This is a good place to ask follow-on questions on this subject.

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