May 25, 2022

Snippet: On Tech Negativity ☍

Lee Peterson:

I realise as I look at my last few weeks on here that my posts and probably my Twitter use has moved to the more negative view of tech or complaining about stuff.

This has got me thinking about what I do and write about here. I’m trying to write about passions but I think tech has turned into something I’m not as passionate about as I used to be. Tastes change over time and I feel gaming and Star Wars remain more positive but I think I’m run down by the tech news cycle and general lack of innovation.

I’ve had moments like this and it really feels like the 2010-2014 run was truly the salad days of the smartphone and social media era. I don’t dislike Big Tech™, but I’m finding that I enjoy social media much less, especially with the business side of many services being much more heavy-handed and cutting into the creativity side of the user experience, not to mention creepiness or trying to hog every last ounce of attention. For Apple, the Mac is relatively mature and boring (in the best way possible) and iOS/iPadOS have matured to the point that they also are starting to feel more iterative. It’s not that I dislike them, but there’s arguably less to write about. Beyond that, there are just some topics that seem to be the focus of most technology coverage that I either have no interest in or actively dislike.

All of this is fine—just as tastes and interests change, so do the topics covered on a site like mine. I don’t go into each day thinking of what I’m going to complain about, as I’d much rather share things that are interesting or bring me joy. If we have a stretch where the tech news cycle feels a bit tiresome, I may cut back on posts.

Snippet: Apple Shipped Me a 79-Pound iPhone Repair Kit to Fix a 1.1-Ounce Battery ☍

Sean Hollister for The Verge:

The thing you should understand about Apple’s home repair process is that it’s a far cry from traditional DIY if you opt for the kit — which I did, once I saw the repair manual only contains instructions for Apple’s own tools. (You can just buy a battery if you want.)

I expected Apple would send me a small box of screwdrivers, spudgers, and pliers; I own a mini iPhone, after all. Instead, I found two giant Pelican cases — 79 pounds of tools — on my front porch. I couldn’t believe just how big and heavy they were considering Apple’s paying to ship them both ways.

The entire article felt weird to me in that Hollister is complaining about what he got to do the repair versus the expectation of what he should have gotten. Other than the very quick turnaround (you’re given seven days based on the deposit, but the clock starts ticking the minute you have the tools, sometimes before the parts), the entire process is designed to be exactly like any Apple Authorized Service Provider, but in your own home.

Does it seem like this kind of hassle is something the average (or even tech-inclined) person would want to mess with? Probably not, but it is an option. Aside from redesigning iPhones to have easier-to-swap components, leading to bulkier designs that most people haven’t asked for, I don’t see a way around this. It doesn’t even save you money and there are a number of places besides Apple Stores that use genuine parts, so it isn’t some sort of scheme to funnel people into Apple Stores to get them to buy more things—kind of reminds me of the conspiracy theory that Apple makes iPhones worse after two years so you’ll buy another…but wouldn’t you be disgusted and start looking elsewhere?

Nonetheless, if you are interested in doing repairs on your iPhone yourself, it seems you’ll get all the tools you could ever want or need and for things more complex than battery swaps, it might be a worthwhile endeavor, especially if your phone is damaged or out-of-warranty.

May 10, 2022

Snippet: Apple Discontinues iPod touch, Ending iPod Line ☍

Apple:

Since its introduction over 20 years ago, iPod has captivated users all over the world who love the ability to take their music with them on the go. Today, the experience of taking one’s music library out into the world has been integrated across Apple’s product line — from iPhone and Apple Watch to iPad and Mac — along with access to more than 90 million songs and over 30,000 playlists available via Apple Music.

“Music has always been part of our core at Apple, and bringing it to hundreds of millions of users in the way iPod did impacted more than just the music industry — it also redefined how music is discovered, listened to, and shared,” said Greg Joswiak, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “Today, the spirit of iPod lives on. We’ve integrated an incredible music experience across all of our products, from the iPhone to the Apple Watch to HomePod mini, and across Mac, iPad, and Apple TV. And Apple Music delivers industry-leading sound quality with support for spatial audio — there’s no better way to enjoy, discover, and experience music.”

Apple rarely issues a press release for a discontinuation of a product, but the iPod was so important to the company. It was released just after things started to turn around in the early 2000s and continued through the iPhone era—it helped put Apple where it is today. While the iPod hasn’t felt like a relevant product for the better part of a decade, I really like that they took the time to acknowledge its importance.

We all get to wax poetic about a device for most of its life did one thing and one thing well—music. Work didn’t follow you home on your iPod and the only doomscrolling that happened was when you were trying to find a specific song. I owned a couple of different iPods over the years, and an iPod touch was my first iOS device (long before iOS was called that). It’ll be sad to close this chapter, but I don’t think it’s a surprise.

April 28, 2022

News: Apple Reports Q2 Results

Apple announced financial results for its fiscal 2022 second quarter ended March 26, 2022. The Company posted a March quarter revenue record of $97.3 billion, up 9 percent year over year, and quarterly earnings per diluted share of $1.52…

April 22, 2022

Snippet: Netflix Loses Subscribers for the First Time in Over a Decade ☍

Chris Welch for The Verge:

Netflix’s struggle to boost its subscriber count took a dire turn in the first quarter of 2022. The company reported a loss of 200,000 subscribers globally compared to Q4, and it’s forecasting even bigger losses to come. Netflix estimates it could lose up to 2 million subscribers in the second quarter.

“Our revenue growth has slowed considerably,” Netflix acknowledged in its letter to shareholders. “Covid clouded the picture by significantly increasing our growth in 2020, leading us to believe that most of our slowing growth in 2021 was due to the Covid pull forward.” Netflix ended the quarter with roughly 222 million subscribers, so it’s still the largest streamer — but it’s facing a slew of challenges.

I think the problems at Netflix are twofold: content and a disrespectful tone towards customers. There’s a lot of great streaming services out there competing for your time. HBO Max has become a fierce competitor for Netflix, growing in subscribers and having a lot of high-quality content. Apple TV+ has taken the quality-over-quantity approach, focusing on a few core series that have been popular and then expanding outward, but still keeping things manageable. Throw in other, cheaper services that may bring you in for a series or two like Paramount+, Hulu, Disney+, or Peacock, and there’s a lot of choices other than Netflix.

Netflix has canceled a lot of series that have shown promise and had critical acclaim to the point that I’ve generally gone into a series with the attitude of “don’t get too attached”—the days of House of Cards and Orange is the New Black feel really long ago and instead we’ve had little blips of niche excitement like Squid Game or Bridgerton. Even Stranger Things taking a long break has left a void.

The streaming giant has recently indicated it will tighten the screws on customers who share passwords and login info as it seeks to maximize revenue from the users it already has. And it’s not a small problem: Netflix now estimates that as many as 100 million households are using the service via shared passwords. “It’s harder to grow membership in many markets,” as a result of the situation, Netflix said.

I suspect this will backfire. Netflix already limits the number of concurrent streams, so even if you shared your password with all your friends and extended family, a very finite amount of people can actually use it at once. There’s also the chance that you wouldn’t be able to stream on your own account because others are tying up the allowed streams. That should be the driving force for the freeloaders to get their own account.

Netflix should focus on increasing quality content that people are addicted to so that they will sign up on their own because they can’t stop watching and get sick of the “you’ve maxed out the number of screens” limit. The current casual sharing of passwords happens, but I doubt even half of those would result in new subscribers. Many are probably tuning in to Netflix for a series or two and then leaving it idle while they watch other things. Adding to that, they’ve increased prices to the point that it’s the most expensive of the big streaming services. If that starts leading to more people wondering if they need Netflix (or drop it for a portion of the year), that’s what really should worry their leadership.