Archive for April, 2016

Macbook (2015 edition)

Wednesday, April 20th, 2016

The Macbook is a portable ultrabook launched in 2015 by Apple Inc. This was a revamp of the Macbook after the model was discontinued in late 2011 as the Macbook Air surpassed the sales of the old Macbook. The new Macbook is a very thin and portable ultrabook, packed with the Retina Display and the new “Intel Core M” processor, a processor targeted for mobile devices. It contains the new USB type C port, which is the reversible USB port. The port is used for both data transfer and charging (eliminating the MagSafe), making the Macbook much thinner than the Air. I will be reviewing the Macbook (MK4N2HN/A) Gold Color. Since I am in the Indian market, the option to customize is unavailable thus my experience may be a bit different than yours.

macbook-select-gold-201501

If we look at the design of the Macbook, it resembles to the Macbook Air with the aluminum body and the frame but has reduced in thickness due to the elimination of most USB type C ports. The keys on the keyboard are much bigger and are spaced out a bit more, to handle the big fingers. It feels a bit unstable due to the very light weight and the design is not sturdy if you are holding it in your lap. The laptop feels slippery and you have to be very careful, since it is a delicate product and dropping this computer can easily cause some dents and scratches to occur.

The keyboard does not have a lot of space, thus it is hard to push hard with the keys since there is not a lot of space. The keys are very thin and a bit of pressure feels like you are directly hitting a hard surface. The force trackpad however, is an amazing improvement since you are now able to make different actions based on how much pressure is placed, just like the force touch on the iPhone 6s and the Apple Watch.

In terms of the Operating System, the laptop came shipped with OS-X 10.10 with the latest features, like forwarding SMS or receiving calls from your iPhone (Handoff). The OS is extremely fluid and is very responsive to user actions. Since the laptop has the Intel Core M, the processor is not designed to run applications like photoshop, but is designed for just checking email and creating documents. It does its job very well, and is a perfect travel Ultrabook.

The performance of the laptop is very solid, since it loads all the safari pages at light speed. Mail works like a charm and it comes pre-loaded with iLife and iWork software. The laptop is designed for minor tasks, and running heavy software like Premier will slow the laptop down to snail’s speed. It is not designed for heavy tasks and for its price bracket and purpose, it is amazing.

The new technology. USB type-c. This is the replacement from MicroUSB and USB-A to USB type C. Using a conventional pen drive requires this adapter. USB C to lighting cables are also available, but currently it is better to use the USB C- USB A adapter. I have bought other adapters, but the finishing of the Apple adapter is much better than the rest. I personally do not like the change, since I have to carry this adapter in order to use the device anywhere outside my house. I also have to buy multiple adapters for converting USB c to connect to my Apple Cinema Display, which makes it much harder to use on conventional displays.

Recently, Apple has launched an upgrade of the 2015 model to the 2016 model and has made the specs even better for the lower price. A rose gold option is also launched and now is available. Make sure you buy the 2016 model and not the 2015 model. This review is for the 2015 model.

Overall, the laptop does it’s purpose of being an ultrabook and runs Mac OS-X at amazing speeds. It may not feel as powerful as a MacBook Pro or as fluid as a MacBook Air, but at a low start price for an Apple product, it does what the everyday consumer needs. This device is designed for people to carry their laptop around like their iPad, having a proper computer with them in a portable device. Apple has done a great job with the MacBook but improving the processor from Intel Core M will help making the device more powerful.

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CarPlay

Sunday, April 10th, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 12.50.26 PM

Apple CarPlay, is a new auto infotainment system in cars has just arrived in the Indian Market.

I will be testing the new system today in the Maruti Suzuki Ciaz.

CarPlay was introduced with the iPhone 5 in iOS 7 and today has evolved to support a limited range of 3rd party apps like Spotify. This review will be of the Wired CarPlay system. The CarPlay is integrated with the stereo and the steering controls. If we look at the current scenario, in India, only certain select models have this feature and thus, it is a very niche product. It is also very limited, since Apple does not provide the maps feature in the Indian market and makes the system very limited. Still, the integration with Siri and the overall concept does make it very useful, if you have an iPhone.

First, the applications. There are apps for

Phone, Messages, Music, Podcasts, Audiobooks and a Now Playing section .

The phone app showcases a similar screen with the different options like Favorites and recent calls, just like your iPhone screen. The incoming calls on the CarPlay screen allow for you to do everything you would on your iPhone, including starting conference calls. The system allows you to use many features of your iPhone’s phone app in the car.

The messages app is really weird, and only showcases your last messages. If you need to reply to any message, just like the Apple Watch, you will have to take the help of Siri. In poor cellular integration areas in Delhi, Siri just stops working and thus, it is impossible to reply. 3rd party messaging apps like Messenger or WhatsApp are still not supported.

The now playing app shows music or video data and is an indirect way to support 3rd party audio applications, with the music and volume controls on screen and on the steering wheel.

The music, podcast and audiobook apps mirror the ones on the iPhone and show all the tabs and includes integration with Apple Music. The podcasts app provides updates with latest entries while the audiobooks is an offshoot of the iBooks app, showing the supported audiobooks to be played through the cars audio system.

There is also support for 3rd Party apps. I tested Spotify and saw very good support for 3rd party apps. Only 3rd party audio related apps exist for the Apple CarPlay.

On the sidebar, it showcases vital stats like the signal strength, the cellular network and the type of internet connection being used and the current time displayed on the iPhone.

Overall, I have used CarPlay and have felt that is a huge step from Apple to integrate iPhones into automobiles.There is one down sight though, there is always a problem with CarPlay integrating with the audio from iPhone calls and it does not work. This could be specific to my unit, but in general, it has a lot of bugs that need to be amended before calling it a “polished” apple product.