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Has Apple given up and should you give up on them?

(TECH NEWS) Many people are not impressed with Apple’s innovations in recent years and are now wondering if they have anywhere left to go.

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Highschool heroes of the tech world

It is a question that has been raised since Tim Cook took over the company. Countless opinion pieces have already been published with slight variations to that theme.

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The common thread running through all those stories is this: Steve Jobs was an innovative genius under whom Apple had a definitive edge. Tim Cook is a bland operations manager, obsessed with supply chain.

Rumor has it Apple has peaked

Such allegations keep coming, despite Apple being one of the most valuable ($720 billion) and profitable businesses in the world.

Last month, Apple’s share hit an all-time high of $136.70, based on excellent business prospects in Asian markets.

And Apple’s stock prices have more than doubled since the death of Steve Jobs.

H8rs won’t listen to the numbers

Then why such harsh, unyielding criticism? Why wouldn’t the doubters lay to rest?

In part, this reflects the high expectations that Apple users, competitors and the market have from the company.

But, deeper analysis also reveals vulnerabilities that competitors are eager to capitalize on.

Nothing new, only improved

The critics point out to a few disconcerting facts.

First, they argue, expanding existing lines (iPhone SE and Plus; iPad Pro) is not exactly innovation.

Exciting new products are conspicuously missing since Jobs passed away. Apple Watch is the only new hardware product released in several years.

iPhone is the breadwinner

The iPhone, now on its 10th Anniversary year, currently brings in a whopping 60 per cent of Apple’s total revenues. In other words, Apple is playing it safe with its signature product for far too long.

That is a huge weakness, whose disruption might hit Apple’s bottom line hard.

This is especially scary since innovations in smartphones may have peaked, warned many analysts including Pieter Thiel. Much of this is down to the glacial pace of product enhancement, argued tech writer Alex Cranz.

Even the financial markets are showing signs of cooling

Mark Moskowitz, a Barclays analyst recently warned against continued investment on Apple, as consumers are increasingly turning to cheaper alternatives to the iPhone in Asian markets like China.

The iPad sales have already peaked and fallen.

And the Mac lineup hit a plateau long ago. Critics point out, that the Mac, especially fell victim to the popularity of iPods and iPhones, while “Mac hardware didn’t receive an update for over four years, and then OS X, once regularly updated with interesting features, now only receives the scraps from iOS.”

You’re tacky and I hate you

It is old, stale and not user-friendly, especially compared to the latest Windows competition. Similar disappointing complaints pepper the web about user experiences with iTunes, iCloud, and Apple Music.

Much of Apple’s future fate has come to be seen as hinging on its iPhone8, which is half a year away from public release.

Can rumors of OLED screen, 3D selfie cameras and wireless charging reestablish it as the innovative frontier of tech as it once was?

Critics seem eager to hold Apple’s feet to the fire

In a Washington Post editorial last year, Vivek Wadhwa, a fellow at the Rock Center for Corporate Governance at Stanford University said “instead of innovating, Apple has been launching frivolous lawsuits against competitors such as Samsung.”

He added, “It could have spent this money on acquisitions of companies which would give it a real edge.”Click To Tweet

Many analysts argue that in order for Apple to stay ahead of the curve, it will need to take disruptive risks and create its own relevance. It will have to hit hard and big. Like the iPhone back in 2007.

Make a move, Apple

Whether that would be a smart car or augmented reality or a new gadget that consumers do not even know they want, critics are waiting impatiently to be blown away once again by Apple.

iPhone8 may allay concerns of entropy for a little while, but a home run will require something that fundamentally shifts the paradigm.

#TheCoreOfApplesProblem

Barnil is a Staff Writer at The American Genius. With a Master's Degree in International Relations, Barnil is a Research Assistant at UT, Austin. When he hikes, he falls. When he swims, he sinks. When he drives, others honk. But when he writes, people read.

Tech News

Upload a pic, this site sizes it for 7 social media sites at once

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Creating the correctly-sized images for each social media platform can take a lot of time and patience. A new app helps to make this process simple.

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A goal that most all of us have is to always be increasing efficiency and productivity. The more that we complete repeated tasks, the more we are able to cut out unnecessary steps and get to the end result faster.

I have found this to be true in terms of social media management. Each platform has their own rules, their own means of posting, and it takes time and attentiveness to get your message across each individual site.

One of the most time consuming aspects of this is the visual component. It’s not only time consuming, but also crucial to have as part of your post as that is what draws an audience’s attention.

The issue with this is that there are different settings for each platform, forcing us to have specially-sized photos for each social media site. This was a problem I ran into a few months back when I was attempting to create a logo for my company to be used for each platform. What looked good on Facebook, wouldn’t translate to LinkedIn, and so on.

Now, I’ve learned of a one-stop-shop to create sizes for each social media site. This was found in the form of Landscape.

Landscape describes itself as “streamlined image resizing for social media.” The app lets you prepare images that meet the aspects for each social media site.

The free app was created by Sprout Social and it’s easy to use. First, you select an image and upload it to Landscape. Then, you choose the social networks that you want the image to be sized for. Finally, you crop the images to their respective sizes and upload them to your pages.

“Landscape is a powerful image resizing tool designed to help social media marketers, content creators and business owners develop a standout presence in an increasingly visual social world,” says Sprout Social.

“Our tool offers social media professionals an efficient way to produce multiple image sizes optimized for social media profiles, messages and campaigns – ultimately giving them more time to focus on what matters most: fostering engagement and authentic conversations through social.”

It’s as simple as that and helps save you time and aggravation.

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Tech News

App turns your phone into an intercom, great for remote teams

(TECH NEWS) Turn your phone into an intercom with one quick switch without having to install anything on any wall. #NewSchool

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Growing up, I lived in a blended family home. It was essentially like The Brady Bunch just without Alice and the general merriment.

Us kids would often keep to ourselves in our bedrooms and would sometimes communicate with our parents via phone – even though we were under the same roof. While I’m acknowledging that it was incredibly lazy, it was convenient.

It helped to cut out the fruitless, across-the-house conversations that would often result in miscommunications. In those times, I wished there had been an intercom system in the house.

This is no longer a problem for people to have as an app has been created that sets up an instant voice network. It was designed for work use or communication with people outside of the home, but this piece of machinery would’ve been very helpful in the Leddin household.

The app is called Switchboard and it creates an intercom for your friends and colleagues. Like a phone, there is a friend/contact list available or you can dial using voice command.

The nice thing about this compared to a regular phone call is that there are availability settings. You can control interruptions by “switching off” to go on Do Not Disturb mode, and it will not list you as available for calls.

Switchboard uses Slack integration that allows users to leave voice messages and automatically have them sent to Slack with a transcript.

“Switchboard is your instant voice network. It gives you a hands-free intercom between close friends and colleagues to let you chat more spontaneously, as though you’re in the same room,” explains developers.

“You control your availability so that you’re easy to reach when you want and you can focus when you need.”

The idea is to make it easier to communicate more efficiently, rather than using text messaging; though most smartphones do have a voice messaging component. While they refer to the app as an “intercom” it definitely reminds me more of walkie talkies, (similar to Voxer which is a walkie talkie app for team communication).

Switchboard is an interesting concept, and is something that could benefit teams that work remotely (or are too lazy to yell down the hall to another office).

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Tech News

Uber has secretly set up tip limits for drivers #classy

(TECH NEWS) Uber has had a shaky year, but their latest move proves that perhaps a new leader doesn’t mean a new culture.

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After frequent requests from drivers, Uber finally added a tipping option to their ride-sharing app this June. But, after a few months to try it out, riders and drivers alike have been disappointed to discover that Uber puts an upper limit on how much a rider can tip.

Lyft has allowed riders to tip for almost five years, but Lyft too has a tipping maximum. In many cases, Lyft and Uber drivers aren’t aware that there’s a limit to tips until they have a generous customer who finds that they can’t tip as much as they’d like.

Initially, these apps were seen as a convenient, tip-free alternative to traditional cab services. However, because fares are calculated in mileage and not time, tips can be especially appreciated when rides take a long time but have low mileage, such as in dense traffic, or when the driver has to make multiple stops. And of course, tipping is always a great way to say thanks to a driver who goes the extra mile (no pun intended) to help out the rider or make the ride especially pleasant.

Unfortunately, some riders have found that they can’t tip as much as they’d like. Uber told CNET that they placed a maximum on tips to help avoid “fat fingers” typos, such as when a customer means to type $10, but accidentally types $100 instead – a problem that could seemingly be solved by adding a secondary confirmation before withdrawing the payment.

Uber limits tips to 200 percent of the cost of the ride, or $100. Lyft also limits to 200 percent of the fare, but also blocks tips above $50. Of course, riders can always tip in cash – but not having to carry cash was one of the perks of ride-sharing apps in the first place.

Generally, drivers for Lyft get more tips than Uber drivers. That’s because Lyft riders receive a prompt to tip upon reaching their destination, whereas Uber drivers have to reopen the app and rate the driver before tipping. Since few Uber riders take the time to rate their driver, even fewer ever make it to the tip screen.

Granted, an extra big tip is a rare and precious thing. But it shouldn’t be up to the company to cap tips if riders feel compelled. Says Denise, a Los Angeles Uber driver, “Generosity should be something that you have no limit on.”

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