Apple: Consumer Convenience vs. Is This Necessary?

Apple’s many announcements yesterday all had one thing in common: a strong emphasis on consumer convenience.

Let’s begin with the iCloud. I do a lot of multimedia work, so naturally, I need a lot of space on my computer for video editing & such. So for myself and a lot of other people, storing your music, photos, and such on a cloud server frees up a good deal of space.

The other reason iCloud is convenient is because when you buy an iTunes song on your computer or phone, it automatically downloads to your other devices. Everything is automatically synced up. The cloud is essentially replacing MobileMe and phasing it out.

However, what I want to know is if the cloud is optional. I’ll admit, I haven’t watched the keynote yet, so I may be missing something, but I searched the internet and people seem to be unsure if the cloud will automatically tinker with everything or not. I don’t want absolutely everything to be stored on the cloud; I want to be able to have stuff on my computer. It feels more personal that way. Plus, the idea of trusting a cloud server with your personal data might make people feel somewhat uneasy.

But where consumer convenience is concerned, the cloud is a winner.

And the coolest part is the (definitely optional) iTunes Match service. For just $24.99 a month, all your iTunes songs (even the ones you didn’t purchase) will be matched up in the iTunes store and even if you downloaded a low-quality version of the song, the iTunes Match service will give you a high-quality version.

Now, it’s convenient, but some bloggers think this will be a problem considering pirated music will be counted and undetected. However, if you really think about it, these concerns aren’t really that serious. Do you honestly think someone who bought pirated music would cough up 25 bucks a month for this service? No, that defeats the whole purpose of freebies.

But I digress.

Moving on, we have iOS 5. You know how whenever you get notifications, it interrupts whatever you’re doing to notify you and you have to get rid of it manually to continue? Well, Apple’s realized this is slightly annoying for consumers to deal with, so with iOS 5, notifications appear on the top of the screen, and if you swipe from the top you get to view them all in a “Notification Center.” Sounds a lot like Facebook Notifications? Yes. Sounds EXACTLY like Facebook Notifications? Yeppers.

Next up, iMessage. You know, I’m generally okay with Apple using the “i-” prefix, but when I read “iMessage,” I couldn’t help but think, “Hmm, I think this is starting to get old.” Regardless of the strange name, iMessage combines the best of iChat, text messaging, and Facebook Chat into one big package. iPhone, iPod, and iPad users can send photos, videos, contacts, etc., and can see if people are in the middle of typing (like Facebook Chat).

Now, you may have noticed that I mentioned how similar some of these Apple updates are to current Facebook features. So I have to admit, it’s kind of surprising that iOS 5 features Twitter integration with all apps (Safari, Youtube, Camera, etc.).

But perhaps the most interesting feature of iOS 5 is that according to Apple, you don’t need a computer in order to own one of their mobile devices. You can do more editing on mobile devices with iOS 5, so technically, you don’t need a computer to sync up to.

Now we have to deal with Lion. OS X 10.7. I’m slightly less enthused about reviewing this newest software update to the Mac system, because unlike how convenient the iCloud and iOS 5 are, I perused through some of the new details and said, “Is this necessary?”

For example, full-screen apps. I, like a lot of other people, multitask on my computer, so the point of full-screen applications isn’t quite clear to me.

And as for Launchpad, I understand why we need this for the iPad. We need a space to organize apps. But apps on a Mac? That’s what the Dock is for. So the Launchpad feels kind of redundant to me.

Here’s what I do like about Lion. The new Resume feature that automatically reopen applications right where you left them is incredibly convenient. And Auto Save is a feature that should have existed at least half a decade ago, but better late than never. Air Drop makes it easier to transfer files wirelessly, so that’s good.

So overall, I give Apple 1.6 out of 2 thumbs up for yesterday’s announcements. Mostly good improvements designed to make our lives easier, but some unnecessary features that I question the need for.