Picture this: Judging Apple on cameras

macalope
IDG

Apple is set to announce new products today but why bother? Everyone knows innovation is dead at Apple.

Over at The Outline, Joshua Topolsky declares “Apple: the second-best tech company in the world.” (Tip o’ the antlers to Žiga.)

Based on a sample size of a couple of camera features.

Apple doesn’t lead the way anymore.

Someone should tell all those Android OEMs that ran out and copied the notch. Hey, dummies! Apple doesn’t lead the way anymore! You’re following the wrong company! A notch isn’t cool! You know what’s cool? Two notches.

It wasn’t that long ago that anyone who cared about taking great photos on their phone was destined to buy an iPhone (whether they wanted it or not)…

GREAT STRAWMEN IN HISTORY, NUMBER 3,475: THE PEOPLE WHO BOUGHT AN IPHONE EVEN THOUGH THEY DIDN’T WANT IT.

Apple doesn’t make the best cameras anymore! They always used to make the best cameras. Except before they did. But then after they did, they made the best cameras. Until now when they don’t.

Here’s Robert Scoble on the original iPhone camera:

The camera sucks. It’s a 2megapixel device without flash, without zoom. Nokia’s newest cameras blow this one away.

How’d that work out? Sure, the market is obviously not the same as it was 11 years ago, but people don’t make decisions based solely on camera ability.

Google in particular has surprised pretty much everyone by not only making the best smartphone camera on the market, but by using software, not to mention the vast amounts of data it collects from its users to do things Apple told us you need hardware for…

You need hardware for it if you want to retain your privacy.

The company has also been out-innovating the competition with wild features like its new Night Sight mode on the Pixel 3…

A feature that has not technically been released yet. However, it does look amazing. Of course, it comes with a price. And that price is Google’s usual Faustian bargain, such as:

“Google tracks your movements, like it or not.”

Topolsky references Tim Cook’s recent speech on privacy but doesn’t think much of it.

You’d be hard pressed to argue with many of his points — most aimed squarely at Facebook — but…

I will sure as heck try!

…Apple’s lack of data (and its inability or unwillingness to blend large swaths of data) actually seems to be one of the issues driving its slippage in software innovation.

Topolsky is yet another pundit here to advise you to sell out your privacy for features. That is certainly a choice that adults can make, but it’s not one The Macalope is going to.

Laying aside the fact that it’s somewhat meaningless for Apple, a company whose success is not rooted in leveraging enormous amounts of personal information collected from its users, to call for regulation…

It’s not meaningless. You can certainly say it’s self-serving, but it’s not meaningless. What’s meaningless is pundits who argue the privacy doesn’t matter as long as ZOMG CAMERA FEATURES RIGHT NOW INSTEAD OF NEXT YEAR.

…it’s only repeating what countless privacy advocates and tech policy experts have been saying now for decades: letting companies like Facebook, Google, and Amazon run absolutely wild in this space is not a positive.

Privacy advocates said it first, so there. Once someone says something, no one should say it again or say they agree with them. That’s just repeating.

Better personal information protection does not necessarily mean we can’t also have good products…

But Topolsky’s not waiting to find out.

But Google is not Facebook, and while I give up some of my data to the company, what I get in return has sizable value…

Following the actual argument here is like trying to find a pacifier in an Ikea ball pit.

Privacy is good! Apple is dumb for arguing for it. I give up my privacy readily because I get something back. BUT, let me just stress this clearly, privacy. Also, unrelated Apple problems.

Coming in second in the camera space alone might not be that big of an issue, but Apple has also had significant problems with its hardware recently…

That link goes to a piece about the MacBook Pro keyboard. That is definitely an issue. It’s not, however, an issue with the iPhone. Regardless, we know for a fact that Google phones have no quality assurance problems, such as sprouting superfluous notches.

…(who could have predicted that in 2018 people would be touting Microsoft as the industry leader in design?)

People have been declaring Microsoft the new leader at least since 2011 and, conversely, that Apple is the old Microsoft since 2009. If there is a wackadoodle argument to be made, trust the internet, someone has made it. That doesn’t make it right.

Apple introduced a new phone last year that almost every manufacturer has rushed to copy, down to the purported flaws. One of the most copied items? The camera app. If Apple’s not leading anymore, that’s probably at least as big a problem for the industry as it is for Apple.

  
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