Memphis to get 'next-generation' Apple store

Seems like our Apple Store — which was the 20th opened — is about get a big upgrade:

Rick Millitello, who presented the plan to the design commission on behalf of Apple, said the store will be one of the first to feature Apple’s new store design.

“Our project is the next generation of retail store that we’re rolling out, and that’s the design concept that we have – and we’re really excited because this is going to be one of the first, if it’s approved, that we build,” Millitello told the commission. “So we’re really excited to expand in Germantown and we’re excited to see the result of all the work that we’ve put in to develop this design.”

Other aspects of the design, according to Millitello, include a matte granite reinforced panel on the exterior as well as natural oak tables inside. The store will also feature a changeable display that will include living plants at times, TV displays that change and artwork, among other things.


September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

For the month of September, I'm donating my RSS sponsorship spots to St. Jude.

In May of 2009, my wife I watched helplessly as our six month old son was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor.

We didn't have a lot of time to process the life-shattering news. Before we knew it, Josiah was undergoing surgery. A few weeks later, we were transferred to St. Jude Children's research hospital here in Memphis, TN, where Josiah would battle through 18 months of chemotherapy, more operations, rehabilitative services and more.

St. Jude is a special place:

The mission of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is to advance cures, and means of prevention, for pediatric catastrophic diseases through research and treatment. Consistent with the vision of our founder Danny Thomas, no child is denied treatment based on race, religion or a family's ability to pay.

Over the last six years, St. Jude has spent millions of dollars on our son, saving not only his life, but our family from financial ruin.

Today, Josiah is in first grade. He can run in the yard, play with his younger brother and sister and play an alarming number of practical jokes on people. All of this is because of St. Jude's amazing work, backed by people like you.

Join us in this fight.

A couple of recent podcast appearances

I've been the guest on a couple of podcasts recently.

On TechTonic episode 21, I joined Joe and Joshua to talk about indie life, Relay FM and my new podcast, Liftoff.

On episode 55 of The Podcast Digest, I spoke with Dan about my history of writing online, and how I first got into podcasting, before talking about Relay FM's first year.

It's always fun to be a guest, I enjoyed both of these recording sessions. Go check them out.

The other side of One to One

The end of Apple's training program has an upside for some businesses, like the Apple Retailer Peter Cohen works for:

Apple makes its computers and portable devices very easy to use, but let's not deceive ourselves: Even Apple products can still be overwhelming, confusing and just plain scary for many. For them, One to One assistance and other individualized training is really helpful.

The problem is that individualized training purchased as a package is a money-loser for the store. We're not compensated by Apple for training customers in any way. When a customer buys the $99 deal from us, they're getting customized training for $10 an hour, which doesn't even cover the employee's wages.

When I was running an Apple-Authorized Service Provider, I had to make several decisions based on what Apple itself either dictated or set expectations around. Decisions that would have gone differently if Apple gave us more breathing room.

While it stinks, the fact is that these types of businesses are always living in the shadow of the giant. While One to One's demise may allow stores like Cohen's to charge reasonable rates for training, being in that situation is part of working with Apple as a partner.

I'm a big fan of Apple Retailers and AASPs when they do a good job. I hope they continue to thrive, but there's no doubt it's a hard — maybe even fragile — way to make a living.

The end of One to One

MacRumors is reporting that Apple is ending its One to One program:

MacRumors recently learned that Apple's One to One training program for Mac, iPhone and iPad may be coming to an end soon, and we can now confirm that Apple Stores are holding meetings with retail employees about phasing out the membership-based service, which has been available under its current name since May 2007. One to One members should be informed about the changes in the near future.

Apple hasn't removed the One to One page from its website at this time, but here's how the company describes the program:

One to One will help you do more than you ever thought possible with your Mac. First, we’ll set up your email, transfer your photos, music, and other files, and show you how to keep everything in sync with iCloud. Then, we’ll work with you to create a curriculum tailored to your goals, learning style, and experience level.

One to One has been around a long time. It used to be that anyone could walk in and buy a year's worth of training sessions, but over time, that changed. In 2009 Apple altered the program, making it available only to customers who bought new Macs. Here's a bit from USA Today, where Apple broke the news about the changes:

Apple's One to One subscription program will see major changes. Currently, anyone with $99 can sign up for a year of unlimited training on Apple computers and products.

But beginning June 2, Apple will limit sign-ups to people who buy new Mac computers at Apple Stores or via its website. Additionally, any of the 500,000 current One to One subscribers can renew.

"We originally set up One to One to get people to switch to the Mac," [Apple's former senior vice president of retail, Ron] Johnson says. "Now we want to expand it to make it even more relevant to people who have bought their Mac."

Still priced at $99, the annual subscription includes personal setup, transferring of files from an older computer (Windows or Mac) and help with projects.

This change made the program less accessible, but targeted it to the people who needed it most: those new to the Mac, its OS and its collection of first-party applications. While the possible field of customers shrank, One to One continued on, with Mac switchers learning about their new machines.

I am a big fan of One to One, and am sad to see it going away, if these reports are indeed true.

So is Serenity Caldwell, who worked as a One to One Trainer at an Apple Store:

One to One sessions ran the gamut when it came to topics: I'd clock in at 8:50 and have a "Welcome to Mac" tutorial session at 9 with a brand-new Mac user in their 40s; at 10 I'd be knee-deep in a Final Cut Pro project with a retired gentleman who wanted to reinvent himself as a documentary filmmaker; and by noon I'd be walking a new business owner through making a website with iWeb. (Still a thing in those days. Imagine!)

The pitch for One to One training was broad and all-encompassing: Want to learn basics? Dig deeper into the awesome things your Mac can do for you? Learn a professional program? We can help you do all these things and more.

As trainers, we studied modules and read up on our iLife and Logic apps, of course, but we were more guides and ambassadors than strict teachers. The One to One program was never designed to be a tutorial lecture: Instead, it was highly customized around the person's needs.

As a Mac Genius, I loved One to One. It was a great resource for people who needed software help that the Genius Bar just couldn't provide in our shorter appointments. Likewise, Trainers would often spot hardware or software issues on customer computers that we could deal with before they became bigger problems.

My store's One to One customers always felt connected with the staff in a way most people didn't. I watched people expand their knowledge and grow their confidence by coming in each week and sitting down with a Trainer.

Those days may be gone. I'm not surprised, really. The Apple Stores have gotten busier and busier, and my guess is the company thinks that things like workshops will help, but even the best workshop isn't as good as one-on-one time with someone.

My feeling is that this will increase the number of questions sales people have to field, and will lead to an increase in education-only Genius Bar appointments. I'm sure Apple's thought through all of this, but if One to One really is going away, it will be missed on both sides of those wooden tables.

All about all-in-ones

This month, in my Apple History column at iMore:

When I was in high school, I worked at the student newspaper, laying out pages on a 1998 Power Macintosh G3 All-in-One.

I'm of the mindset that this machine—dubbed the "Molar Mac" for its tooth-like appearance—is historically important, as it helped reintroduce the Mac community to AIOs that mattered. It's also the closest in design to Apple's perhaps most significant AIO of the 1990s: The original iMac, with its translucent plastic and swooping curves. The Molar Mac has largely been forgotten, set out to pasture with a bunch of other old Macs that no one really remembers. But it paved the way for something great.

Connected 54: Tim is the New Cook

This week on Connected, the band was reunited as Federico returned from vacation to discuss the iPad Pro and humans in the real world.

My thanks to these sponsors:

  • Arq: Arq automatically backs up all your Macs and PCs. Your files are stored securely, readable only by you.
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What I would like to see in the iPhone 6S Plus

After purchasing an iPhone 6 last year, I settled into owning a 4.7-inch phone. There were things I didn’t like, but overall, I was pretty happy with the device.

Then everything was ruined when I switched to a loaner iPhone 6 Plus for a couple of weeks. I ended up buying one, and I haven’t looked back.

There are compromises when it comes to having such a large phone. It’s bulky in some pockets, and I look like I’m holding a piece of pizza next to my face when I’m talking on it, but the improved screen, battery life and camera make it worth it for me.

If I upgrade phones this fall,[1] I will stick to the 5.5-inch form factor, assuming there’s an iPhone 6S Plus offered.

Usually when it comes to thinking about what upcoming iPhone hardware should have, I come up empty-handed, but as the 6 Plus is such a unique device, I have a pretty concrete list of things I want to see in the next revision.

More RAM

Despite its increased screen resolution over the iPhone 6, the 6 Plus ships with the same 1 GB of RAM as its little brother. Any 6 Plus owner will attest that this leads to some stuttering and sluggishness at times. I’ve experienced audio tearing and apps crashing under load. It’s not awesome. It makes the 6 Plus look half-assed, and it makes me sad.

As someone who also owns an iPad Air 2, I’ve seen what iOS can do with more breathing room. If all the iPhone 6S Plus brings is more RAM, it’d be an improvement to 2014’s model.

Flush Camera Lens

While there was a lot of eye-rolling when Apple first showed the camera lens poking out of the back of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, I think most users have gotten used to it by now. If in a case, the bump basically goes away, meaning many users won’t ever have noticed, more than likely.

However, most of the time, my iPhone is naked. I find it annoying that my iPhone can’t lay flat on its back, as it makes the vibrate motor seem way louder than it actually is.

While the vibrate motor in this phone seems harsher than past generations, the fact that phone is propped up in one corner makes the whole thing move when it goes off. When on a nightstand or table, a text message or email notification makes such a loud noise it’s annoying. The point of an iPhone in silent mode is to be discrete, and a giant BUZZ BUZZ BUZZ is anything but. I’ve gotten in the habit of sitting my iPhone glass down, especially if there’s someone sleeping in the room. I’d love to be able to leave it screen-up, but unless the back is flat again in the future, I don’t see it happening.

Louder Speaker

While the vibrate motor is too loud, the speaker in the iPhone 6 Plus is too quiet. I often listen to podcast as I work around the house or in my workshop, with my phone jammed in my pocket. I bet I’m not alone in that use case.

While I know I can’t expect MacBook Pro-levels of sound out of this thing, the iPad Air 2 and the 12-inch MacBook both ship with impressive speakers. I’d love to see some of that get miniaturized and put in future iPhones.

  1. Haha, who am I kidding?  ↩