iOS

How iCloud Photo Library matches up to Google Photos

Last week at the Google I/O developer conference, Google announced a raft of forthcoming additions to its Google Photos service. Since Google Photos runs on iOS and in any web browser, it’s a serious photo-storage option for Mac, iPhone, and iPad users—and in many ways, it’s way ahead of Apple’s Photos apps and iCloud Photo Library service.

Then again, WWDC—Apple’s own developer conference—is in just two weeks. It’s an opportunity for Apple to declare where it’s taking Photos and iCloud Photo Library next. In the meantime, though, it’s worth pointing out where Google Photos is beating Apple’s offerings, and where Apple’s ahead—and how WWDC could be poised to change both sides of the equation.

Apple’s advantages

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Apple Park: The last great product by Steve Jobs

One of the words I use a lot when reviewing Apple products is opinionated. I firmly believe that great art or design can’t happen without a point of view—and the more you depart from a focused point of view, the more likely a creation will be compromised, workmanlike... good, maybe, but not great.

When it’s at its best, Apple strives for greatness. It doesn’t always get there—and every now and then you get the sense it’s not actually trying to get there—but when things are hitting on all cylinders, Apple releases products that are backed by a strong point of view about what will delight and serve its customers.

The MacBook, for example, is a product based on a focused vision: That a single port and a slower class of processor are worthy trade-offs for an incredibly thin and light computer with a Retina display. You don’t have to agree with Apple’s take—in the case of the MacBook, the company’s practically daring you to disagree—but you can’t deny that it’s an amazing execution of a particular set of priorities.

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How does the Surface Laptop stack up to Apple’s notebooks?

The MacBook Air has been such a hit for Apple the past few years that even Microsoft is making one. Starting at $999, the Surface Laptop sure looks good–it’s got a MacBook Air price, a wedge shape, weighs 2.76 pounds, the latest Intel core i5 processor, and a high-resolution display.

Given that Apple hasn’t updated the MacBook Air in ages, the Surface Laptop attacks Apple at a vulnerable spot right in the midst of a product transition. Well played by Microsoft, but if you look a bit closer it sure looks like Apple’s got the Surface Laptop surrounded.

The $999 laptop

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6 key takeaways from Apple’s Q2 2017 earnings call

On Tuesday Apple announced its latest corporate earnings, a relatively flat quarter that still brought in $11 billion in profits. As always, if you look beyond the raw numbers on its reports and listen to its hour-long phone call with select Wall Street analysts, you can get some interesting perspective on where the company is going.

Rumors suppress demand

If there’s anything Apple likes less than discussing its future product plans, it’s probably other people discussing its future product plans. Aside from a tossed-off joke on stage at a product launch, Apple rarely discusses rumors of what it’s working on. Which is why I was struck by Tim Cook’s response to a question by UBS’s Steve Milunovich about a recent survey from 451 Research that suggested a drop-off in intent from prospective iPhone buyers.

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What to expect from Apple's Q2 2017 earnings call on May 2

Did you forget to mark your calendar for the orgy of charts and numbers that is Apple’s legally mandated quarterly release of its financial results? If so, have no fear–I remembered to mark mine for next Tuesday, May 2, when Apple will release the results in the early afternoon (Cupertino time) and then offer some of its executives up to financial analysts in an hour-long telephone call.

This is the season where Wall Street tries to intuit where Apple’s stock price will go, and those of us more focused on Apple’s products will scrape for any suggestion about how those products are selling and what might come next.

It can be easy to joke about these quarterly rituals–I’ve already done it several times, and this is only my third paragraph–but they’re vital opportunities to take a rare glimpse into Apple’s inner workings and the thinking of Apple executives about the company’s business strategies. Yes, it’s a choreographed dance, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t glean understanding from it.

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iOS

After more than two years, Apple Pay still feels like the future

There’s a lot of negativity out there, on the Web and in the world. People are angry, dissatisfied, tired of political clashes and online arguments and the realization that the Internet connects us directly the best and worst humanity has to offer.

I’m not saying the anger and frustration isn’t justified. If you’re feeling it, you probably have a good reason. But sometimes, even in dark times, it’s worth taking a deep breath, stepping back, and considering the bigger picture about 2017.

It’s this: It’s twenty seventeen. The. Future. And even though we don’t have flying cars or jetpacks or a colony on Mars, Apple’s done its best to make the future pretty darn amazing.

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Which cutting edge technologies will become mainstream?

Sometimes I think the reason we’re fans of technology is because we are willing to expose ourselves to new and frustrating experiences just for a small glimpse at the future.

So much of what I write, and have written for a couple of decades, is to help communicate the frustrations, possibilities, and workarounds involving brand-new technologies, for people who are pretty close to the cutting edge. We are not generally the sort of people who wait a few years for the technology to settle down and become boring and reliable. Instead, we’re in line at the Apple Store hoping for a chance to live in the future today.

Even when I was a teenager, I wanted to learn about computers because I knew they would be the driving force of the future and I couldn’t wait to get there. But now, as someone in his mid 40s, I’ve discovered another aspect to this effect: I’ve seen those dreams of the future come true.

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