This month’s topic leaves me with a bit of a puzzle, sensation-seekers. I’ve been looking back on the past year’s columns and to my shock and horror noted that it’s been a few months since I offered any simple, practical advice to you, the valued reader.
“How about ‘the best way to spend X pounds to improve your life as an Apple user’?” I thought. “I choose an amount and talk about the most useful ways to spend it, if you’re a Mac OS or iOS user.”
Pure Tabasco. But there’s a snag: the pinpoint demographics that are available to modern publications such as this one indicate that Macworld’s readership covers all income ranges. From those up on the very top who, when they run out of clean towels, simply buy a new house with clean towels already in it, to those right at the bottom who are so strapped for cash that they need to steal energy from the hardworking sun and wind instead of paying for it like decent people.
I’m egalitarian by nature. The only answer is to write separate advice for each of you.
If you have only one pound to spend, and you wish to improve your life as an Apple user: get a free cloud storage account on Dropbox.com. Dropbox has moved beyond iDisk and become the internet’s thumb drive. So many apps on so many mobile devices can natively access your Dropbox files that for the first time you can have a truly seamless workflow that crosses all of your computers with no need for syncing or backup.
I can start this column by creating a text file on my MacBook, finish writing it on my iPad at the coffee shop and then edit and file it from my iPhone. Genius.
Yes, it’s free. Use the quid to buy a Coke. Use it to toast the genius who insisted that you try Dropbox.
If you have a hundred pounds to spend: buy an Apple TV. Your HDTV is the biggest screen in your house and the Apple TV lets you connect it to all the iTunes libraries in your house and (via AirPlay) every Mac OS and iOS device you own. While it doesn’t run third-party apps, the fact that it’s an iOS device with an iPad processor makes you wonder what’s in store for 2011.
If you have a thousand pounds to spend: buy four or five AirPort Extreme base stations and offer them to the coffee shops, libraries and bagel places you hang out in.
Honestly, it’s the only way to ensure the best features of the Mac OS will work. If you want to be able to use Back To My Mac and attach volumes remotely, you could spend weeks doing network diagnostics and troubleshooting… or you could just get your favourite café to use Apple networking equipment.
If you have a hundred thousand pounds: hire Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen to come to your house and act out the Apple commercials live for your and your friends. The calm, soothing command tone of Captain Picard suits an ‘I’m a Mac’ guy well. And only a man who has fought the Balrog and been dragged to his death in the abyss of Khazad-Dum can bring the proper dimension of pain to the personification of Windows.
If you have a million pounds: lease an executive jet. Any fun you might have popping over to Singapore for an ice cream is secondary to the insider information it can yield you, if used properly. The idea is to figure out where Steve Jobs is going to fly to, wait for him to disembark and then, after distracting the guard, switch your plane for his.
Steve owns a Gulfstream G5 (no relation to the Power Mac G5). That’ll be out of your price range, but older models of the executive edition of the Embraer Legacy are quite affordable. The Legacy is available in the same 15-seater, twin-engine configuration as the G5 and it’s a close enough match to pass casual inspection, at least for the hour you’ll spend rifling through the Gulfstream’s seat pockets for documents and engineering samples.
If you have a hundred million pounds and you want to improve your life as an iPhone owner: start a company that makes Android tablets and phones and do it right. As is, Android is only competing with Apple in sheer numbers. We want Android to challenge Apple where it matters: in the innovation game, so Apple will feel an extra push to keep moving the iOS forward.
Android is a fine OS that’s almost always kneecapped by handset makers who can’t be bothered, and by carriers who worry about a specific phone cannibalising sales of other profitable products or making lucrative add-on services obsolete. Killer Android features like sharing a 3G connection via WiFi are eliminated. Terrific standard apps such as Google’s own camera app are jettisoned for something that was licensed as part of a signature user interface package. And the potential for creating a whole new UI that builds upon Android while remaining compatible with all existing Android apps has mostly gone untapped.
Challenge your software and hardware team to make something as useful, fresh, and stylish as the iPhone and iPad, except make it more open for both users and developers. Sell them unlocked and rootable.
Apple’s a practical company. It responds to what the users want. But it’s not going to change its policies until another company has massive success with mobile devices that only differ from iDevices in the freedom allowed. When freedom becomes the most desired feature, then Apple will design the perfect phone.
And if you have a billion pounds to spend: you need an in-house visionary and consultant. I invite you to contact me for availability information and housing needs at your soonest convenience.