Apple Pay Mac

Yesterday I was doing some payments online and was offered to use Apple Pay on my Mac.
Apple-Pay-Mac

The setup was fast an easy. You either scan or manually type in your credit card info, then confirm the setup with a one-time code sent via SMS - everything the same as you would set it up on your iPhone or Apple Watch.
Apple-Pay-Mac-2

After adding Apple Pay, you can use it on checkout by putting your finger on the Touch ID sensor on your Mac or typing your password. It's just as easy to use as on any iOS device or the Apple Watch.

Easier to recommend before

As I recently mentioned in my iPhone portrait and camera zoom posts, previously it was easier to recommend Apple products to people around me.

I've touched this topic few days ago by saying how for many years I was amazed and blown away buy the sheer technical accomplishments Apple was able to achieve.

MacBook
I remember the days of the Sony Vaio laptop series, how it had the thinnest, lightest and most powerful Windows devices at the time. And when I learned about Apple's MacBooks which were even more slick, powerful and compact I couldn't wrap my head around on how that was even possible. Being a teenager at that time I was very lucky to get a white polycarbonate MacBook as a gift from my dad. And that was truly an exceptional device for that time, far ahead of the competition in every imaginable manner.

iPod-nano-2
But my first actual Apple device I got a year before my first MacBook. It was an iPod Nano 2g with 2GB of ram which was leaps and bounds better than my iRiver mp3 player that it replaced. The iPod was so thin and so well built and so comfortable to use with the click wheel, I to this day wonder how two similar but so different (iRiver and iPod) products could exist at the same time. The difference and superiority of the iPod was uncanny.

MacBook -unibody
After my first MacBook in few years I again was lucky to upgrade it to the first unibody aluminum MacBook Pro. It was such a huge upgrade in terms of look and feel and it pushed the MacBook so far away, since not any other competitor could match the quality even of the previous white MacBook, and this new device with a chassis milled from a single piece of aluminum was just lightyears ahead of anything on the market.

iPhone-3g
And then came the original iPhone. First, I was like 'eww, it can only run 1 app at a time when my Nokia can hold 32 apps in the background no problem'. But then, when the iPhone 3G came I finally understood how good that 1 app at a time were. At that time, I was already using one of the Sony-Ericsson smartphones with a stylus and the transition to using a phone with your finger went incredibly smooth. Since the iPhone 3G I owned each version of it, since all the internal (not always the external) upgrades were compelling to push me for the latest version each year.

Both the MacBook and the iPhone was a pain to use in an environment of Windows computers and smart and dumb phones of that time. On Mac OS I had problems printing, working with office documents, working with network devices. On the iPhone I couldn't send anyone files via Bluetooth, I didn't have MMS for a while, first few iPhones had to be unlocked via a proxy sim card to work outside of US.

But all of that was worth it for what you were getting. On the MacBook there were no viruses on Mac OS (still almost virus-free), it had a stellar trackpad (still the best among all laptops), long battery life, insane build quality. The iPhone was just an all-screen device, with one of the best cameras since the 3GS era and most importantly it had a fluid intuitive UI and new, best, innovative 3rd party apps when the App Store launched in 2008.

Though the years under Steve Jobs Apple kept innovating and being far ahead of the competition in many aspects: great hardware and software design, build quality and materials, newest technologies, seamless ecosystem and hardware+software integration, first platform of choice for desktop and mobile developers. But I guess it's hard to keep the lead forever. This is why in my opinion Apple gradually lost a few of their advantages to the competitors and this is why it's now harder to recommend their products anymore.

The Legend

Despite Apple each year proclaiming that they created the best ever iPhone, in my opinion iPhone 5s was best iPhone Apple ever made.
Legend-1

Not only it brought the new soon to become industry standard - Touch ID, but it continued on the amazing industry design which got even better after being introduced in the iPhone 5. Many years after and few months ago they reused those straight lines in the latest iPad Pro unfortunately leaving the polished cut of the bezel of the iPhone 5s behind.
Legend-2

That phone's design was so unique at that time that I wanted to keep it as a memory on how good the hardware design might be because I had the feeling it will be hard to release something more beautiful. And I think none of the next designs on the line could achieve that level of polish. Unfortunately, I had to give my personal phone away long time ago so I wasn't able to leave it for my collection of awesome hardware I owned. But recently I was lucky enough to buy it for testing content on smaller screen devices, which are seemingly going away. The iPhone 5s is the last 4" Apple device supported by the latest iOS and that's probably the last year of support for this phone by the latest software. But it was a good ride, and supporting it for 5 years is unheard of in the industry.
Legend-3

I'm really happy that I am able to keep this marvel of engineering in my drawer to be able to take it once in a while in order to appreciate this piece of technology.

Purposeful limitation

After being misled on the promise of the 2x camera on my iPhone I felt the same thing with portrait mode.

On the iPhone Xs (and previous 2-camera lens setups) portrait mode supposedly is possible because of the second camera whereas on the Xr you can get them with one camera. Google for example does portraits with one camera on their Pixel 2 and 3 for few years already and does actually a quite job with that. The same as with digitally stabilizing video on the original Pixel which turned out to be really good comparing to OIS (Optical Image Stabilization) at that time.

Don't get me wrong, I like portraits, even the fake ones you would get from a mobile device. They look noticeably better than regular pictures we had all this time and I'm glad the whole industry moved into that direction. But forcing buying a two-camera phone for portraits is just pure marketing, the same as forcing to upgrade from an iPhone X to Xs for Smart HDR which essentially is a blown-up saturation software-wise possible on the X as well.

Previously the push to new hardware was with actual improvements in it. Now it's just purposeful limitation accompanied by better selling marketing shots. Just like with the new butterfly keyboard on the Macs (which no one actually asked for) that made the product look better on photos but made its operation worse on a daily basis. People keep dealing with it, which let Apple not to fix the flawed keyboard much for three years already. The same reason of people accepting everything lets Apple charge for features on newer devices that technically could have been on older devices as well.

All that said Apple doesn't feel being a pioneer in technology like when I started using their products twelve years ago. Nowadays formerly known copycats like Xiaomi or some even less known Chinese brands are pushing the envelope by building ideas that market leaders can't deliver. Maybe it's not Apple's fault in particular, but it's just what happens with companies that get big. Just recall the huge Nokia back in the days overrun buy a considerably small at that time company from Cupertino which was so far ahead in everything and so easy to recommend to switch to.

You're overpaying for your iPhone's camera

Just as I've mentioned in my summary on why you're overpaying for your high-end smartphone's camera, here are my thoughts specifically about the iPhone's dual camera setup and why you're overpaying for it.

Inpost

I got a dual camera first in the iPhone X, so I personally wasn't familiar with it on the iPhones 6 Plus, 6s Plus, 7 Plus and 8 Plus (which was presented along the iPhone X).

First, I was sold on the 2x camera since quite few of my photos started making more sense with having objects to be bigger to be recognizable and framed better in general. I also had to do less movements trying to capture something and not having to physically get closer to it.

But then I stumbled upon some article comparing 2x optical zoom from the second lens to the 1x lens digitally zoomed in two times. And somewhere in that article I noticed the author mentioning the fact that the 2x camera might not even being used depending on the conditions. Whether the phone would use 2x or not mainly depends on outside lightning. So at times when you're surrounded with dim light, and take 2x photos, they are actually taken with the 1x lens and 2x digital zoom.

Here's an experiment: go to a place with dim lightning, close your 2x camera with a finger and switch to 2x. You'll see the image zoomed, even though your finger is clearly in the way. And since you paid for the 2x camera which is not always used, it means you overpaid on the promise of it.

I get that's no surprise the 2x isn't always used, because with that tiny telephoto lens and tiny sensor you can't fight the laws of optics. But Apple is still not shy selling the zoom feature like it's the best in the world and people buy and pay for that idea and not the actual thing. And I get this is pure corporate marketing BS aimed to boost sales but previously I never felt that mislead like I do this day. And from now on each time I will hear about camera improvements pushed so hard each year as one of the biggest on the market I would be much more skeptical to what is being promoted and promised.

Continue reading my thoughts on the potrait photo letdown when that post goes up.

About Ukraine

I was going through this station to my University each day for 5 years, and all the time before that while living with parents since it was the closest metro station to our home:

If you come with USDs or Euros, this is definitely true, especially outside of Kiev:

Chaos in Winter is absolutely true. Few years back we had an enormous snowfall in Kiev in March where even the driving rules stopped being relevant:

This is funny, and also true:

Random flight

Short footage from this weekend's flight. Recorded a plane flying half a kilometer away but decided to exclude it from the end result because the plane was way to far to be interesting on video. And you probably shouldn't fly close to planes anyway 🙂

Mario joins the battle!

On Sunday got this gem. And it's epic!
SSB-2

As the cover says, everyone is here! It's the biggest character mashup I've seen so far:
SSB-3

And most importantly, you can play the game anywhere you go:
SSB-4

I unlocked Mario in one of the few battles, freed him from possession and he joined my (the!) battle!
SSB-2

Being honest I missed out on the previous Super Smash Bros, so maybe for someone all of this is not new. But for me this game has so much diverse content, that I think it easily deserves its 93 points on Metacritic just for the content itself. The game's score is a bit lower than the 97 of my another most favorite and the most diverse game I ever played. Super Mario Odyssey which was the 2nd best game of 2017 which I bought the Switch for was beaten last year only by Zelda's Breath of the Wild, another Ninendo's marvel. I guess in this company of awesome unique games Super Smash Bros has good chances in getting into this year's Top 10 games as well.

Btw, just noticed my game cartridge has German writings on it, so probably Germany is Nintendo's main region in Western Europe 🙂:
SSB-5

And here's my Wedding Mario Amiibo, which I bought few months ago. Now I can fight using specifically this skin as well in all the battles to come. Because not only you get all major Nintendo's characters, but you get all of them in a variety of skins, including Wedding Mario 🙂
SSB-6

Once again Nintendo oudid themselves.