Apple makes some amazing products. I would contend the iPhone 7 is the best smartphone ever made. The iPad Pro is literally years ahead of the next best tablet. The MacBook Pros announced yesterday are the best laptops for millions of people. And don’t get me started on their smart watch…it’s not even close.
Not only are these products excellent, but they’re boldly careening towards a future with fewer, better ports and ridiculously thin and fast products.
And while all this is great, it’s getting messy when you start to pair these devices together. As noted by Dave Chen today:
If you bought a brand new MacBook Pro and a new iPhone 7, you wouldn't be able to connect them w/o buying a dongle https://t.co/XUzJDUklfY
— David Chen (@davechensky) October 27, 2016
Now technically you can buy a USB-C to Lightning cable from Apple and avoid the dongle, but you can’t go into an Apple store and get the right cable bundled with your shiny new Jet Black iPhone. And I hope you weren’t hoping to use that USB-C cable to charge from the wall, because you can, but the adapter costs $50 (hat tip to @VafeR for this correction).
How about we talk about the elephant in the room, the headphone jack? The iPhone 7 doesn’t have it, and comes with a dongle so you can use your old headphones. “Dongle” is a more stupid word than it is a thing, but it’s not something you expect from Apple products. So your old headphones will work with your Macs and iPads, while the new Lightning headphones will work with your iPhone. Bad news is that there is not a single wired headphone that works with ever Apple product in their line. Bluetooth is your only option. It’s the future, but it’s a hassle today.
Even if you stick to the Mac, a portable hard drive you get for your MacBook Air, iMac, or mini won’t work with your MacBook Pro. The awesome new 4K/5K LG display will work with the new MacBook Pros, but you can’t plug it into your Mac Pro or even make it a second screen for your iMac.
On the iOS side, you have the Apple Pencil that works on the iPad Pro, but not the regular iPads or any of the iPhones. Yes, they want this to encourage people to buy an iPad Pro, but what’s the reason for not supporting this across at least their new iPhones?
Want the best iPad Pro? Good luck, because the 13 inch model has more RAM, a bigger screen, and louder speakers, but the 9.7 inch model has a true tone display and a better camera. One would think they would have the same specs, or one our be clearly better. Instead the question is what features are most important to you, because you can’t have it all in one model.
Moving to the software side, take a look at iMessage. It got a great update in iOS 10, and is one of my favorite changes. Sadly, about half of the new features came to macOS. Stickers show up in your chat on the Mac, but you can’t send them from there. Same deal with iMessage apps and tapbacks (is that really the term?), they’re on iOS but not macOS.
It sounds bad when you list everything together, but it’s not a disaster. Apple isn’t on the brink of ruin, but this is a problem that seems to get worse every year. Apple’s unofficial mantra has long been “it just works” and trying to understand their entire line is more frustrating than it has been in the last decade or so of Apple products. It would just be so nice if Apple could get their entire product line on the same page. If I am having trouble keeping it all straight, I really worry about how casual consumers are doing.