Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Apple Stability

My daughter said to me the other day, "how come you don't shout and yell at your iPad and iPhone when they crash like you used to with the old laptop?".

That got me thinking.

I have a MacBook Air, an iPad, an iPhone and an iMac. All purchased in the last 6 months. I first got the iPad when they came out, then went for the iMac when the old Windows desktop died, then the iPhone and got a MacBook Air for Xmas from my dearly beloved. That gift alone will stop me divorcing her! Though it is far more likely she will divorce me!

Anyway I digress.

The MacBook and the iMac just work. I can not recall a single instance when they have misbehaved, so no need for shouting and yelling there. The only problem I had was with Microsoft Entourage, yes I know, what the hell am I doing putting the Evil Empire on a Mac. Well I am 50 and have used the MS Office suite forever, so I am too old to change. If there is a worse piece of software than Entourage, then I haven't found it. It is a real piece of shit and should be scrapped immediately. When I went back to the standard mail system that came with the iMac and MacBook, I have had no more problems. Word, Excel, Powerpoint for Mac, all work fine.

Now to the iPhone and iPad.

When I take away the emotion of "love" I feel for these devices and analyse my experience with them, the love still shines through but tempered with a bit of "tough love" I have had to show these devices.

There have been numerous lockups, crashes of Apps etc but I have never found myself raging like I used to with the Windows products.

Why is that?

I think it all comes down to a wonderful phrase I first heard from a whiteware company in NZ called L.V. Martin and Son. "Its the putting right that counts". In other words, shit happens, but whats important is how the aftermath of the "shit happening" gets dealt with.

With Windows products there is usually a lengthy aftermath of clean up and dealing with the leftover "shit".

With the iPad and iPhone the Apps will crash and a restart of the App gets you going again. Sometimes the Apps freeze in which case a soft reboot fixes all and with no lasting effects. The soft reboot takes about 5 seconds and doesn't run through a "do you want to start in safe mode just to be sure" sort of routine that Windows does. Soft reboot and its like nothing has happened.

Its almost Gallic in the aftermath. A little shrug of the shoulders, upturned hands and a C'est la vie, and life goes on as though nothing has happened.

VERDICT - the iMac and MacBook Air are the epitome of stability. I do not remember a single instance where a reboot or any sort of issue has had to be addressed. (I will not talk about the mini CD I put into the iMac DVD slot).

The iPhone and iPad have their moments but are so easy and quick to put right they are easily forgiveable and there are no lasting effects to those "oh shit" moments.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

iSky

Well I have spent most of this morning trying out the new iSky service from Sky TV.

Verdict, totally underwhelmed.

The premise is great. Watch programmes on your computer that you may have missed, not recorded or otherwise not known about. Lets not go into the fact that the advertising for the service was for end of 2010 and it is only in pre-release now, Jan 2011.

I was sent a tester login and password. I must have tried 20 times to get in before I worked out that you needed to have two different user-id and passwords. One for the iSky service and the second to identify you and your Sky TV subscription. It was not intuitive at all. The first box popped up asking for user-id and password, when that had disappeared, you were then asked to sign-in to view a programme. Isn't that just what I had done? Apparently not, this is where I eventually found by trial and error (mostly error) that the second sign-in needed to be my Sky TV ID to verify that I was allowed to watch that content.

SUGGESTION - Link the iSky user-id to the Sky TV user-id so there only needs to be one log-in. Shouldn't be hard, but obviously a system designed by techies with no thought to the user experience.

I must have spent about half an hour trying to get to the stage where I could watch a programme. The system would hang, I would get connection refused errors, just plain un-responsive. If this is what it is like in pre-release, what will it be like when everyone is trying to get on.

Eventually my chosen programme started playing. I was quite impressed by the lack of lag. It was quite a good experience watching the programme. Now to see if the usage counts against my broadband plan. I am with Vodafone so it is not supposed to. We shall see.

SUGGESTION - Get some subscribers to do user experience testing for you before you release. It just feels like a system designed by techies for techies.

VERDICT - Premise is great, content delivery is very good, overall user experience is poor.