Plenty of people are singing Apple's praises today after the company unveiled new details about its upcoming operating systems for computers, Mac OS X Lion, and mobile devices, iOS 5. And the much hyped iCloud arrived in vapor form, as well. The opposite view got short shrift, as usual. But that's what The Orange View is all about.
1. Peeved about MobileMe renewal
About two months, Apple triggered the automatic one-year renewal of my MobileMe subscription for $99. Now, all those services and more are about to be offered free. Will I get some kind of credit? An email from Apple says my MobileMe subscription, that's the service that just became obsoleted by a free service, "will be automatically extended through June 30, 2012, at no additional charge. After that date, MobileMe will no longer be available." Huh? You took my $99 and instead of a refund or a credit towards another service you're extending my subscription to a dead, outmoded service for an extra two months? Yuck. I wonder how many other people feel the same way.
2. Not purchased here
The best new service in iCloud is the music locker but it's limited in some frustrating ways. For all music you have ever bought from iTunes or buy in the future, Apple will begin letting you re-download it onto as many as 10 devices and computers for free. It's not exactly clear to me how the device limit will work -- what if you download a bunch of songs to a phone and then de-select it from your iCloud plan -- but it is still pretty cool and way, way, way overdue. Among other things, this means you don't have to backup music files purchased from iTunes as they can be re-downloaded if lost.
But what about music you didn't buy from iTunes? Apple says for $25 a year, you can include non-purchased music in the iCloud as long as the songs match songs currently for sale in the iTunes store.
This is a huge and annoying limit. For example, a bunch of my favorite Prince music is no longer in the store. A bunch more was ripped from old indy label CDs for small bands that never made it to the digital era. Sounds like these will be excluded. Yes, the service is more convenient than Amazon's or Google's in the sense that no uploading is required. But that benefit is more than offset by the limits on what can be included (and with our fast Verizon FiOS Internet connection, uploading is not such a big deal). UPDATE: Non-matching songs can be uploaded, so, as Emily Litella used to say, never mind.
3. Hello, video, can you see me now?
The iCloud service only applies to music. Video is excluded. But the files I really want stored in the cloud are the much larger video files I own, particularly of television shows. That's the way Amazon's video download service works. I bought a season of "Mad Man" and I can download the episodes to my Tivo or watch them on my laptop whenever I'd like. After I'm done, I delete the files so most of the time I don't have to carry them around. That's also the way Amazon Kindle books work. I need that for my iTunes video, too. With AppleTV in particular, it seems so obvious that you should be able to stream from Apple's servers any movie that you previously purchased. But no.
4. Lock in is bad
The new Apple messaging service that can replace SMS seems okay. I think it is as much aimed at Google Voice as Blackberry Messaging, unlike many commentators, but whatever. The more annoying facet is that the iMessage service only works among iOS devices (iPhones, iPads, iPods). The world is not made up solely of Apple customers. Seems crazy that the service can't interact with regular SMS users, Mac users or anyone else not carrying an iDevice (even with the fallback setting mentioned by a commenter, which just changes how the message travels not who can be addressed). Facetime suffers from a similar limit although at least it works with Macs.
5. Good bye OS disks
The Lion upgrade will be available only as a download from the Mac app store. It will not be available on disk. Aside from the inconvenience of having to download a huge, multi-gigabyte file onto multiple computers, doesn't it seem like operating system upgrades are too important to require an active Internet connection? I want to be able to revive a dead laptop or fix a malfunctioning desktop even when I'm not online -- or can't get online. Perhaps there will be some way to do this after you download the update once, I hope.
6. Cupertino, start your Xerox machines
An awful lot of today's Apple features seemed like knock offs from the last few versions of Android devices. Jeffrey Talajic has quite the rundown on his blog. Should be interesting to hear what Apple fans will say now after they spent the last few years deriding Android's excellent notification system and claiming "Post PC" somehow didn't mean "Post PC."