Here’s the thing. The past few years have overwhelmingly delivered a whole class of Apple devices I simply want. I’ve bought a number of them. Not so for anything announced this year. Here’s what we got, and what I would have liked to see Apple have announced instead:
We got: A new super slim but otherwise really limited laptop aimed at… who exactly? Not mobile creatives, executives, or cost-sensitive casual users, given the spec and upgrade limitations.
I wanted instead: Two new laptops – a super portable Macbook Mini, and a Macbook Pro upgrade (thinner, bigger drives/battery, more RAM, higher resolution screen in the same size package). Both thin and light. Touchscreen tablet versions would have been interesting, but even upgrades to the standard laptop package would have been good. The Macbook Mini would be roughly the size of three iPhones side by side (maybe 7.5″ x 5″ or so), running full Mac OS X.
We got: A $20 software bundle for the iPod, but only for the lucky customers who paid 15 or 20 times that already for the top of the line iPod only a few months ago.
I wanted instead: to be honest, I didn’t care much about this one, not owning an iPod Touch or an iPhone. Still, if I did, I’d probably be disappointed.
We got: A software upgrade to Time Machine masquerading as completely new hardware (Time Capsule).
I wanted instead: Allow Time Machine to work with something other than locally plugged in external drives, particularly external drives attached to existing (again only months old) Airport Extremes.
We got: Overpriced limited “movie rentals” and a minor supporting upgrade to the miscast living room product that no one bought last year and which is still a hard sell because it lags behind its competitors in features and doesn’t make up for it with anything that’s great about Apple products.
I wanted instead: Remove whatever restriction is preventing Netflix from doing Watch Now on the Mac. Treat movie rentals like digital media instead of overpriced restricted analogues to going to the video store. Why the 24-hour limit?!? Give me 30 days for a video rental so I don’t feel like I’m being ripped off. Give me TV shows in HD for less than it costs to buy the disc. Let me watch whatever I want to watch on the set top box. In fact, forget the set top box and morph the Mac Mini into the set top box. Anyone watching movies on an HD screen also probably wants to do computing tasks on that screen too. That’s why I have a Mac Mini attached to my living room projector. For not too much more than the Apple TV, you could buy a used Mac Mini and get 100 times the functionality. What I want to see here is making it easier to watch more kinds of digital media on the Mac Mini in a living room setting – Front Row is just awful and limited.
Bonus: Where’s OpenDocument support in iWork?!? Come on man, don’t be like Microsoft on this one. There’s no possible way that .pages and .numbers are going to become the dominant interchangeable file formats that will make people have to buy iWork anytime this century. People buy iWork because they like your applications, not because they have to in order to read a file someone sent them. It doesn’t hurt you to support the open standards, and it helps the users.
[update: I was thoroughly shocked to discover that TextEdit.app, of all things, reads .odt files. There's also Quick Look support for them.]
After all, ranting about this stuff is fun, and I enjoy picking it apart, but sometimes it helps to be productive too. So, those are my suggestions for things I’d actually hand over some cash to Apple for this year.