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Macworld: 2012 writings

Macworld logoAll (or as many as could be found online) of my 2012 writings for Macworld.

Siri, why is Google voice search better than you?

In case you missed it, a month or so ago, Google added voice search capabilities to its free Google Search app for iOS devices. If you haven’t tried this out yet, I highly recommend you do: I find it so useful I’ve given Google Search a spot in my Dock.

What’s so good about Google’s voice search, especially on a device that comes with Siri already? To demonstrate the answer to that question, I made a little video, wherein I used my iPad mini to ask both Siri and Google four questions:

How do you spell exuberant? Who won the Trailblazers basketball game last night?
How do you make vanilla ice cream? How high is Mount Kilimanjaro?

So how’d it work out? See for yourself…

Watch the full-size version
[mp4 only • 1024×768 • 11MB]

(Production aside: Yes, I realize you can use Siri from anywhere. I toggled back to the home screen each time simply to give different backgrounds to Siri and Google.)

Read on for my thoughts on how these two tools compare.

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Why didn’t Apple reveal iPad mini sales figures?

First, only Apple knows why they didn’t share iPad mini sales figures, so what follows are just my thoughts. Instead of splitting the mini from the fourth-generation iPad, they reported a combined three million units for the iPad mini and fourth generation iPad. So why didn’t they split it out? At the highest level, I think (again, only my thoughts) it’s as simple as this:

Apple hasn’t ever historically split out products by type within a family. In their annual report, they tell you how many Macs, iPods, iPhone, and iPads were sold, and that’s it. Reporting a combined “total iPads sold” figure is perfectly in line with past behavior.

Beyond that simple explanation though, I believe that reporting a sales mix would be a lose-lose proposition for Apple. By way of example, here are some theoretical press headlines, based on a few mini/full-size iPad sales splits.

mini: 500,000; iPad: 2,500,000

  • “Apple’s new mini a flop; sells only 500K units”
  • “Apple’s lost the magic touch post-Jobs; new mini tanks”
  • “New fourth-generation iPad underwhelms; doesn’t reach 3mil units mark”

mini: 1,500,000; iPad: 1,500,000

  • “Customers confused by iPad options; pick both equally”
  • “iPad mini cannibalizes iPad sales”
  • “Full size iPad sales impacted by release of mini; margins likely to dip”

mini: 2,500,000; iPad: 500,000

  • “New mini succeeds, at huge cost to full-size iPad”
  • “Margin impact of iPad mini sales success will harm profitability”
  • “iPad mini roars to life; is the full-size iPad dead?”
  • “Full-size iPad on life support after horrid opening weekend”

Clearly there’s some (OK, a ton of) exaggeration in these fake headlines, but the summary level is certainly true:

  • If iPad mini sales exceeded iPad sales, then that’s a margin hit, and a warning sign on full-size iPad’s future.
  • If the sales were equally split, that’s still a margin hit, and possibly a sign of customer confusion.
  • If iPad mini sales were substantially under iPad sales, then the new product’s a flop, and Apple’s lost their touch.

So even ignoring Apple’s track record of reporting sales by family, it seems there’s no upside to splitting the sales figures. Given the lack of a good interpretation for any split, as a shareholder I’m happy they’re reporting a lump sum figure.

Note that this does not make the iPad the equivalent of Amazon’s Kindle: Amazon has never, to my recollection, reported any exact Kindle sales figures.

Wallpapers: iPad 3 and newer

The following wallpapers are 2048×2048 pixels in size, and designed for use on third-generation iPads (“the new iPad”). Note that the images shown in the image sliders below (hover and click to cycle) are low-quality 256×256 JPEG representations of the actual photos; to get the high-quality images, download the entire bundle [29MB] and install only those you wish to use.

Home Screens (5) Lock Screens (24)

License: All photographs in these wallpapers are © Rob Griffiths, and are freely provided for personal use only. You may not include these wallpapers on other sites, nor in any commercial product, without my prior permission. (I hate having to put this here, but prior experience has shown it to be necessary.)

Wallpapers: iPad and iPad 2

The following wallpapers are 1024×1024 pixels in size, and designed for use on the first and second generation iPads. Note that the images shown in the image sliders below (hover and click to cycle) are low-quality 256×256 JPEG representations of the actual photos; to get the high-quality images, download the entire bundle [9MB] and install only those you wish to use.

Home Screens (8) Lock Screens (30)

License: All photographs in these wallpapers are © Rob Griffiths, and are freely provided for personal use only. You may not include these wallpapers on other sites, nor in any commercial product, without my prior permission. (I hate having to put this here, but prior experience has shown it to be necessary.)

How to not upgrade to iOS5

If you follow me on Twitter, you’re probably familiar with my iOS5 installation difficulties. Two days into the process, and I’ve still not been able to update either my iPad (first generation) or iPhone 4. This is—by far—the most frustrated I’ve been with any Apple upgrade, ever…and that covers a lot of history!

Simply as a means of venting, and perhaps to save someone else from going through what I’ve gone through (though note that I haven’t yet solved the problem), here’s what I’ve gone through to try to upgrade my iPhone and iPad.

Update: On my 48th attempt, my iPhone 4 successfully updated to iOS5. Now, on to the iPad…

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11.6″ MacBook Air: Who needs a netbook?

As I’m really enjoying my new 11.6″ MacBook Air, I thought it might be interesting to compare it with some other portables I currently own. Specifically, I wanted to compare the Air to my previous fave ultra-portable Mac (the 12″ PowerBook G4), a Dell Mini 10 running Mac OS X, and my current fave Mac laptop, the high-res anti-glare 15″ MacBook Pro.

What follows isn’t a comprehensive set of benchmarks done under controlled conditions. It’s more of a quick look at performance (and measurements and specifications) across a series of machines, three of which can be considered “ultra portables.”

Read on for the table…

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Macworld: 2010 writings

Macworld logoAll (or as many as could be found online) of my 2010 writings for Macworld.

January
Jan 5 LaunchCodes brings back 10.5-style document opening
Jan 13 Does auto-expiring security software make sense?
Jan 21 What key features will a tablet need before you buy one?
Jan 26 What might a tablet’s home screen look like?
Jan 26 Fusion 3.0.1
Jan 26 Parallels 5 (build 9308)
Jan 26 VirtualBox 3.1.2
Jan 27 Virtualization: Performance testing
Jan 27 Virtualization: Which one to use?
Jan 27 The iPad’s five worst surprises
Jan 29 Virtualization: Behind the scenes
February
Feb 25 First Look: Quicken Essentials for Mac
March
Mar 8 Why I don’t use Google Docs
Mar 23 Magic Launch brings creator-code support to Snow Leopard
April
Apr 3 In the line for an iPad: A first-person account
Apr 9 Why pay for Final Cut Express when iMovie is free?
Apr 29 Numbers 1.0 for iPad
May
May 6 Essential Mac utilities: text expanders
May 6 Spell Catcher X 10.3.4
May 6 Typinator 4.0
July
Jul 7 Ten ways to customize Chrome
Jul 8 First Look: Firefox 4 beta
August
Aug 2 Office 2011 pricing penalizes owners of multiple Macs
September
Sep 13 What OS X has meant to me
Sep 28 Microsoft Excel for Mac 2011
October
Oct 12 Office 2011: the macro is back
Oct 19 OS X 10.7: The rumors and the reality
Oct 27 Boost your Mac’s speed with a hybrid drive
Oct 27 Office 2011: Excel FAQ
November
Nov 5 IT conference attendees react to Xserve’s demise
Nov 9 Recapping the MacTech conference
Nov 12 Expert printing tips for Excel 2011
Nov 15 Mac Pro: Tower of power
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