Why I Finally Bailed On Gmail

By William Kristoph

Over a year ago I wrote about how Apple Could Steal Me Away From Gmail, if they made a few changes. Fifteen months later, I’m making the switch, even without Apple making the four changes I talked about in that article. Why? Because I can’t deal with Gmail anymore. Let me be very clear, I am not a power email user. That fact opens up pretty much any email out there.

Why did I switch from Gmail to iCloud?

  1. I simplified. Maybe Apple is leaking into my brain too much, but I simplified how I saved email. With Gmail, the archive button is the easy thing to do, so I end up with lots of emails that are saved, when they really should be deleted.
  2. The web interface is cleaner thanks to the iOS 7-like overhaul.
  3. I still like tags better than folders, but there is one bright side to folders on iCloud. It made me think about categories and what I need. I reduced 30+ tags down to 5 folders.
  4. I stopped using Priority Email on Gmail. Why? Because it was so awful at picking the emails that were priorities. It never learned the difference between a spammy coupon from the same place a receipt comes from. It was all priority or all nothing.
  5. Google’s practices. For a long time I was happy to look the other way when it comes to Google sifting through information. Now? It’s getting creepy when it’s combined with AdSense. Apple might mine my data too, but they seem less creepy about it. If if they’re not, Google seems to be the gold standard of intrusive to me, Apple can’t do worse.

My biggest complaint about switching email providers is all of the changes I have to make at various sites and how some of them, in 2013, continue to make changing an email address a difficult task. It should not be so hard to change an email address on a mailing list!

Why Can’t People Get Past Form Factor?

By William Kristoph

Apple announced their new phones, the iPhone 5c and the iPhone 5s and there was the typical outrage from many people on the tech blogs. “It’s not new. It’s just color. The 5s fingerprint scanner is a joke.” On and on and on many people talked about how Apple doesn’t innovate because they refused to make the screen bigger on the iPhone.

Really? The screen?

I don’t understand it and I probably never will, but so many techies focus on the size of the iPhone’s screen and the case before they consider it “innovative” and new. It’s just a screen! Whether it’s 4 inches or 4.3 inches or 10, who cares? That’s not what makes the iPhone 5s the first iPhone to make me say, “Wow” since I bought my first iPhone 4 years ago.

The arguably innovative stuff in the iPhone 5s:

  • 64-bit processor
  • M7 co-processor
  • Touch ID (fingerprint reader)
  • The bells and whistles of the new camera

Those four things are far more innovative and important than a bigger screen. Why don’t people notice that? The 64-bit processor is a good way to “future proof” for another two cycles of iPhones at least. The M7 co-processor could be big or useless, but it has the potential to have countless health apps and save battery life. Touch ID is cool, and I’m hopeful that it can be part of two factor authentication. The jury is out on that. Finally, the new camera is a huge selling point. No more blue-only flash, warm tones should look much better and the software that is part of the camera used to be something that only professionals could handle. Now it’s automatic.

Does this make the iPhone better than an Android phone? Maybe, maybe not. That depends on each user and how they like to use a smartphone. But let’s not just the phones based on something as silly as form factor. It’s a silly way to judge a phone and an awful way to discount innovation.



My Son’s Technology

By William Kristoph

I scan news about Apple products nearly every day. Usually, it so that I can pounce on a free app or find out about what new iPhone or iPad is arriving in the near future. Lately the stories focus on iOS 7 and the overhaul that Apple is doing to their mobile operating system. Most of the talk is similar, and quite frankly, pretty boring. The iOS 7 news is usually a diatribe about new icons and new fonts, with the occasional new functionality news item thrown in. Then I read Rene Ritchie’s article Forget Icons and Typefaces, iOS 7 is the Birth of Dynamic Interfaces.

Yes, I realize that Rene is the biggest fan boy of Apple products and that he’s absolutely gushing over iOS 7 in that post. Also, it’s probably a stretch that Apple is the first to bring this concept in an operating system to the market. That’s perfectly fine, because even with that in consideration, Rene is right. What is going on in the background of iOS 7 to make all of these nifty new layers, transparencies, smash ups and interactions is pretty amazing. The comments section of that article provides a very good analogy that this like the difference between rendering in 3D and faking a 3D look with 2D graphics. The difference is huge. It’s the difference between modern games and the stuff I used to play on a Sega Master System.

Continue reading My Son’s Technology

Smartwatch Craze Coming?

By William Kristoph

It seems like I’m flooded with “Smartwatch” news lately. First it was Apple, then Samsung answering Apple’s rumor and now it’s Microsoft. Suddenly every tech company with a stake in the mobile world is talking up a smart watch. Oddly enough, I still wear a watch. So, as a techie, I should be excited, right?


Forget that fact that anyone younger than me generally doesn’t wear a watch. I’m not considering them when I think about a smartwatch. As a watch wearer, I don’t understand the appeal of a “Smartwatch” at all. Here’s why:

  • My watch battery lasts for years. Why would I want something that I’ll have to charge?
  • I already have a smartphone with me. What could a smart watch offer that the phone does not?
  • My watch is one of the few pieces of jewelry I wear, it’s unique. Why replace that with a LCD screen?
  • If the watch uses voice commands, why would I want to look like Michael Knight trying to talk to KITT?

Maybe I’m missing something. I fully admit that I missed the appeal of the iPad when it first came out and love mine. But a watch? That’s innovation? What am I missing?


The Television Experience Needs A Drastic Change

By William Kristoph

My cable box bothers me. Whether it is the newer or older Motorola HD-DVR cable box, that giant silly cable box sitting on a shelf or mantle bothers me. They are ugly. Their software is terrible. They are unnecessarily large. The whole situation baffles me.

Is Apple CEO Tim Cook about to step in and save us from our terrible cable box experience? Maybe, maybe not. I’d love to see how Apple solves the silliness and stupidity that is our TV / Cable experience. I know many others are trying as I type this, but, much like the Android experience, I’m always left wanting something simpler and better. Also, I have no faith at all that Microsoft would have a clue how to bring television into the 21st century. So, I pin my hopes on Apple and wait.

Six Ways Apple Could Improve My TV

  1. Siri For TV Listings – Siri has plenty of imperfections, but have you ever tried to search for a show on your cable box? The whole experience it terrible and involves slowly inputting each letter with the remote and direction keys and hoping that the search is bright enough to understand the search term might be in the middle of the title. Siri’s natural language abilities would make search a snap.
  2. Minimalist Design – iPhones, iPads and Macs are all beautiful. An Apple Television set would likely be great to look at with the power turned off as much as it would with the best and brightest Bluray movie on it. And if Apple doesn’t go with a full TV? Then the current AppleTV already qualifies.
  3. Minimalist Design Part 2 – From my parents, to my wife, I’m frustrated by poor user experiences that keeps people from enjoying their technology. “Oh I can back up 15 seconds with this button?” “I can pause the TV when I’m watching it, not just a recording?” Apple has a knack for making technology easy to use. A DVR Remote is far less complicated than an iPhone or iPod, it just needs a better UI.
  4. Motion Sense That Doesn’t Suck – I tried the Kinect. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t great. Could Apple give me motion sense that works in a larger room with tons of bright light? Maybe. I’d still rather use something like Siri + a remote control, but motion sense would be an added bonus.
  5. Content. Content. Content. – I’d love a good excuse to kill off Netflix. iTunes movies doesn’t get me there, yet. Could Apple offer a subscription service at some point? Would I be willing to pay more than what I pay Netflix if most new release movies were available on streaming instead of Bluray? Heck yes! Even better, I would pay movie theater prices ($5-$10) for first run movies in my home most of the time to avoid rude crowds.
  6. Alerts – I just got three new HD channels? Who knew? Apple can solve this problem by tossing a banner up on the screen or light up an icon until I read it. Consistency is the key. Comcast has messaging ability, but Comcast is extremely inconsistent with its use. It’s also easy to miss the light on the cable box, which is the only indicator of a new message from Comcast.