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Mac Planet: Breakthroughs that didn't break through

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Launchpad on Mac. Photo / Supplied
Launchpad on Mac. Photo / Supplied

Apple makes great stuff, I love it (obviously) but I'm not quite the resounding fan everyone assumes I am. Some things just don't work for me. New things get introduced and I sometimes just have to wonder why. Is it to reach people in a new way? Due to feature requests? To appeal to people whose only experience of Apple is an iPad? Because a Cupertino bozo's pet project somehow gained some traction?

Here are some things in the new OS, and iOS, that I just can't be bothered using. I tried them a few times, but they didn't change my life. Here are some, in no particular order.

Mission Control
This annoyed me so much I took it out of my Dock. The idea is you can have spaces for different things - one with apps for web surfing and email, one for fixing photos etc.

Good. Who cares? I have lots of RAM, so I can have lots of things open. I remember and understand how to hide other apps (Command-Option-H) so they don't clutter my screen. Actually, screens - I have two, when home, since every Mac supports two out of the box.

I also know to Command-Tab through active apps, which is a really fast shortcut, btw. Try it: keep your finger on Command and each successive press of tab chooses the next open app. Let go the keys and that app springs to the front.

Mission Control seems unnecessary and hard to use. That's quite a criticism, for an Apple innovation. Bye.

Launchpad
Some people - OK, loads of people - finally succumbed to the world of Apple only when iPads entranced them. Some then bought Macs. Since iOS is a subset of OS X, they expect Macs to work in a similar way. They do, but not similar enough, seemingly. For a start, Macs don't have touchscreens. To make things worse, since Apple doesn't tell you very much about your new Mac unless you know how to find the info online (for example), you get presented with a pretty picture and a Dock, but you don't know it's a 'Dock'. And the hard drive icon is now missing by default. The result tends to be an unholy mess. People don't know (many don't want to know) where their documents are, or what and where the applications are, so they strew them dangerously all over the desktop. They assume, since it's not otherwise indicated, that the only apps (programs) they have are in the Dock. They're not.

So Apple introduced Launchpad. Click this and every app in that hidden(-ish) Applications Folder is displayed. Trouble is, most people who do this just look bewildered.

And I do know where my Applications Folder is. So Launchpad has been banished too.

Virtualisation
When Apple introduced Boot Camp, someone at Microsoft New Zealand excitedly rang me and said 'Good news! You can now run Windows on your Mac. We'll courier the latest Windows around immediately.' They were quite nonplussed when I said I didn't want or need it, but thanks for the thought.

Now, this one I know is useful to a lot of people. They either need to run a Windows-only package for work, or they need to do something that only exists on Windows. But that is simply not the case for me. The only reason I've even considered it is for a game like Battlefield, which started out as a Mac and PC game but dropped Mac support back in 2003, apart from Battlefield 2142 released 2006. But even so, I'd use Parallels or VMWare rather than install a whole partition full of Windows using Apple's free (it's in your Utilities folder) Boot Camp utility. But hey, it's there and it's free.

Siri
There are a few things I don't bother with on my iPhone and iPad, like Game Centre. I don't find iDevice gaming particularly engrossing or entertaining. I know that's just me: I don't go there.

Newsstand is OK, every now and again, for a couple of magazines I subscribe to. Stocks - nah. I don't have any.

Passbook; well, the idea of locking all my passwords into one file that might get damaged scares me, although I know it does more than this, at least in some places.

But what I really don't get is Siri. I guess it's a 'wow' concept, but is that all? I asked Siri 'What is the use of Siri?' It said 'I'm on it,' and then 'OK, here goes.' Then it presented a long list of meanings of the word 'use'.

So I looked up 'Seriously, what's the point of Siri?' on MacRumors.

Helpful answers in the comments included 'So you can look like a dick on the bus', 'How fast is it to say "Create an appointment for work tomorrow at 6pm" as opposed to unlocking the phone, going into the calendar app, and typing in all the required information?' and that it's useful 'particularly when driving', which I can't imagine a New Zealand traffic cop wearing. Can you? 'I was only talking to my phone, not to someone on my phone, officer ...'

I guess hands-free texting and emailing could really work for some people (I hope so). Particularly it might be useful for those with sight impairments, or big fingertips, but generally? I'm not convinced, but I'm really interested to hear if anyone's using it out there in the real world.

That noted, here's something you can do for a laugh: boot Siri by holding down the Home button,then say as clearly as you can "Call me ___". It will ask you to confirm your new moniker, and from then on, Siri will use that instead of your name in conversations. So if you hear an iPhone saying "Sublime Being Three, don't forget your father's birthday", it's talking to me.

Now, although it was hard to stop laughing after being called Sublime Being Three by your phone, you can also add all your familial relationships. "So-and-so is my father/sister/daughter/partner/wife etc". That's pretty cool.

But still pretty useless.

- NZ Herald

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