2017 was quite a year for Apple (and Apple fans). We finally got the mythical iPhone from the future. AirPods became a commonplace. The iPad became “a real computer” thanks to iOS 11. But of course, not all is rosy in Cupertino. While we got some great Apple hardware in 2017, Apple’s software effects continue to lag behind the competition. This time, it’s not just about Siri, AI, and machine learning. iOS and macOS were plagued by multiple bugs this year. Read on for the detailed breakdown of the highs and lows of Apple in 2017.
Touch Bar is a Failure
When the 2016 MacBook Pros with Touch Bar came out, I made sure not to judge too quickly. New technologies take time to adopt. It’s now been more than a year since Touch Bar came out. In the meantime, Apple released a new generation of MacBook Pros and the macOS High Sierra update.
And now it’s safe to say that Touch Bar is a failure. It’s not useful and most pro users have been successful in integrating it into their workflows. I was hoping that with High Sierra, Apple would make some changes to Touch Bar software but there was nothing on that front. While Touch ID on MacBook Pros is great, Touch Bar, not so much.
HomePod reveal at the WWDC was itself a bit weird. Apple was clearly feeling the heat from Amazon Echo and Google Home. HomePod was supposed to ship in December 2017. But it’s now been delayed till “Early 2018”. That could mean up to 3 months of waiting. It looks like the hardware is ready but software isn’t.
Apple’s Bad Week of Bugs
The latter half of 2017 was inundated with bugs in iOS and macOS. First, it was the calculator bug. Then two pretty major bugs showed up in the same week (date bug in iOS 11 and root bug in macOS). This doesn’t bode well for Apple’s reputation of providing rock solid, bug-free software.
This might be Apple’s biggest PR nightmare yet (with a bigger potential impact than iPhone 4’s antenna gate). A year ago, Apple changed how iPhone battery behave when they’re under huge load or when they are deteriorating. Previously, when a battery malfunctioned, the phone would just shut off. With the recent iOS updates, Apple started throttling the CPU to make sure the battery didn’t just die out randomly. While this an appropriate solution to the problem, it’s not the best one.
The worst part is that Apple failed to communicate this to users. When throttled, CPU performance can go decrease anywhere between 20-40%. And that makes for a big difference, especially for older devices like the iPhone 5s and iPhone 6.
The Magical AirPods
AirPods started shipping late last year but most of us couldn’t get our hands on a pair until early 2017. And AirPods were worth the wait. They’re my favorite Apple product of 2017 (yes, in the year that gave us the iPhone X). AirPods stand for everything that makes Apple great. The integration of hardware and software, the relentless need for pushing boundaries and making products that feel like magic.
From the outside, they might not seem like a big upgrade (from an audio quality angle, they certainly aren’t). But AirPods are all about convenience. No wires to worry about. They connect to your iPhone the second you put one in your ear (no buttons to mash, no menus to navigate). Playback stops when you take one out of the ear. Even Siri on AirPods is half decent thanks to the powerful microphones.
If you’re an Apple fan and you love your iPhone, go and get a pair of AirPods. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Read more: Apple AirPods FAQ: Your Questions, Answered
Apple Watch Series 3 (Now with LTE Calling)
Apple managed to squeeze a lot into this generation of Apple Watch. There’s an ingenious LTE radio in there (of the eSIM variety). Plus, the processor is a big upgrade. The speed gains, coupled with the LTE, make Apple Watch Series 3 an amazingly fast machine.
One of the biggest problems with the Apple Watch was that it always felt when you stepped away from the watch face and launched an app. Series 3 finally fixes that.
The New iPad (For All)
Apple surprised us in the beginning of the year by introducing a $329 iPad. It’s a cheaper version of iPad Air 2, but with a much faster A9 processor, 2 GB RAM and 32 GB capacity. While the screen isn’t laminated, the hardware at the $329 price point is really attractive. For anyone who doesn’t use the iPad for work, this is a great product.
10.5 inch iPad Pro + iOS 11 Make For A Great Computer
Last year, I fell in love with my 9.7 inch iPad Pro. This year, I fell out of love with the old iPad (god, those bezels) and fell for the sleekness that is the new 10.5 inch iPad Pro. It’s just a little bit bigger but it makes a huge difference in multitasking. Plus, the keyboard on the new iPad Pro is finally comfortable enough to type long-form. And iOS 11 just takes the iPad to a whole new level.
By far, my favorite new addition to iOS 11 is the new Dock. Switching between apps is so simple now. So is adding apps to Split View. iOS 11 takes the iPad Pro closer to being a real computer (and a hell of a productivity machine).
Apple Invents Time Travel with the iPhone X
Apple gave us the future’s iPhone, today. At a premium price of course (time travel research is expensive).
The iPhone X has its quirks. The Face ID doesn’t always work. And if you use it a lot, you discover some edge case bugs (especially if you use the camera a lot). But on the whole, it’s a great iPhone.
In a way, it’s boring. Apple has achieved what it set out to make. You get used to the gestures. It feels really nice in the hand (the extra thickness actually helps here). The cameras are amazing. Yes, it’s expensive. No, it’s not for everyone. But if it’s the sign of the times to come, the future’s going to be great.
Mac Pro Roundtable and The Birth of iMac Pro
Weirdly enough, Apple’s lowest and highest moment of 2017 came at the same time. Right before WWDC, Apple held a Mac Pro roundtable where they basically apologized for not updating the Mac Pro for 3 years. It was proof of what a lot of pro experts knew already. Lately, Apple wasn’t focussing on the Mac or pro hardware.
But Apple promised to make things right. Sometime after 2017, they’d come out with a real, modular Mac Pro, their own pro-level display and a pro version of iMac.
Apple has already delivered on one of those promises. The iMac Pro is out and it’s now the fastest Mac ever made. With the iMac Pro, Apple has pulled off an impressive feat. They’ve managed to put in an 18 core Xeon processor, with 128 GB RAM and VEGA graphics in the body of a regular iMac. And unlike the last generation Mac Pro, the iMac Pro seems to be designed with thermal headroom to spare.
Steve Jobs Theater
This year, we got a glimpse of the new Apple Park and Steve Jobs Theater. The Theater itself is an architectural marvel. It starts with a huge, circular column-less structure. It features a James Bond-style secret wall that turns to reveal the hands-on area. Even the elevator is made of glass, rotates as it goes up and down and looks damn cool.
The Notch was a necessary compromise for fitting in the TrueDepth camera system. But the opinion on the notch is split. People who own and use iPhone don’t notice it much after the first couple of days. But there are people who just can’t stand it (because design is subjective).
But the verdict still isn’t out. We don’t know of the notch is negatively affecting iPhone X sales.
Face ID Quibbles
I’ve been using Face ID for the past couple of weeks and it’s the only sore part of my iPhone X experience (I don’t mind the notch anymore). There are edge cases that amount to frustration. Sometimes Face ID doesn’t work when I’m in bed at night. Sometimes it doesn’t work when it’s bright out.
I hope that over time, Face ID gets better at reading my face. Some issues Apple can easily fix using software updates.
Read more: Top 10 Face ID Tips and Tricks for iPhone X
This is Apple’s vision of what the future workspace looks like. And just like any other Apple product, it will have an impact on the whole industry. The way Apple is designing the workspace (a mixture of open and closed spaces) will end up in a lot more places in the future.
Apple Park has already faced some criticisms from both the employees and outsiders. Programmers don’t think that open offices are the best for their productivity (while they do promote collaboration).
Your Year With Apple
As an Apple fan, what has your year with Apple been like? Which all Apple products did you buy and recommend this year? How are you using your Apple devices for work and in your personal life? Share your workflows and thoughts with us in the comments below and let us also know how you would rate Apple’s performance in 2017, with 1 being very disapponting to 10 being a home run.