Ecosystem… Good or Bad?

I am rooted into Apple’s ecosystem, though I wouldn’t say I’m deeply rooted in it. I don’t have Apple TV, I don’t use Siri, but I do have the “basics” of iMac, Apple Watch and iPhone (I still have an iPad but I don’t use it that often anymore).

I enjoyed using them, they may not be the best device individually (and there will never be “the best”), but the fact that all devices I use on daily basis can interact and linked with each other closely, work seamlessly across each other really makes a whole lot of difference. Apple has refined and pushed the envelope on ecosystem more than anyone else, and that is something which I valued, and I understand not everyone will value the same.

Being able to send a message from my iMac without the need to grab my phone, opening a tab on my iPad and have the same tab shown on my iPhone if I want to, copy from one device and paste your from your clipboard to another device are just a few of the features proved useful when you are being tied down to an ecosystem. Not to mention the seamless connectivity of AirPods to any Apple devices has shown what kind of efficiency a locked down ecosystem can actually deliver.

Well, depends on how you look at it, it could be a curse or a blessing. There was once I felt concern for tying myself down and be in the mercy of one company. I made a switch back to Android, I was waiting patiently for the Surface Phone to arrive (which promised Apple-like integration with Windows), but in the end, none of them turned out to be a viable option or materialized. Ever since Surface Phone was dead, Microsoft promised better integration with Android will arrive, but we have yet to see it until today.

In the end, I’m back to the Apple’s ecosystem and been happy to stay there ever since. One may argue you don’t need to have your phone to be in-sync with your other devices, well, it may not mean anything to you, but it meant a lot for those who are really using it. I value the convenience, and I’m willing to even pay a premium for it.

Of course it’s not all good and rosy for the Apple ecosystem at the moment. There are many other things they can do to improve further. Apple Watch still requires an iPhone to work, app experience across platform (iOS, iPadOS and macOS) could still be better and so on. But I believe some of this will sure get iron out in the future.

So is ecosystem a good thing or a bad thing? You be your own judge.

iPhone 11 Pro… so?

Another year, another iPhone.

Another year, another round of memes, pundits comments, claiming “Apple is dead without Steve Jobs”, “Apple has no innovation”, “Apple is just playing catch up on Android” and so on.

Is the camera bump and arrangement ugly?
Well, yes. But once you understood the reason behind why such arrangement was necessary, I can live with that.

Is the asymmetrical design of the phone bugs me?
Hell yes. I do felt industrial design on the iPhone has gone downhill for the past few years.

The iPhone 11 Pro is the same as iPhone X and iPhone XS!
Well, aren’t the iPhone 4, 4s, 5, 5s looked the same? Aren’t the Galaxy Note all look the same with just very minor tweak?

Okay, enough of rambling. So yes, I got myself the new iPhone 11 Pro in Midnight Green and 256GB storage. Well, it’s not like I want to upgrade from my iPhone 8 Plus, it’s more of like I need to upgrade because my telco contract has expired and I need to renew it this year, so… ya, here I am, holding on to this new iPhone.

Is it any good?
Of course it’s good.

Is it well worth the upgrade?
On the camera side, yes. Swapping from Touch ID to Face ID? Yes. Moving from home button to swiping gesture? Not bad. Other than that… nothing much to be honest, and that doesn’t necessarily mean a bad thing.

My already-2-years-old iPhone 8 Plus is already a great phone in terms of sheer performance, the new one is faster and more efficient of course, but to be that significant for you to notice a difference? Well, not so. Anyway, Apple’s A-series chip has been leading the industry for quite awhile now, it’s not fair to expect them to defy the law of physics and come up with processors with quantum leap on a yearly basis.

How about Android?
Well, after going back and forth between Android and iOS for the past couple of years… I have decided to stay with iOS for the completeness of the ecosystem. I’m not a fan of Google and I am trying my best to distance myself from their services as much as possible. It’s just my personal preference, not like I’m against Android in total.

Sorry, this isn’t really a review of the iPhone 11 Pro as one might expect, you can easily search for a tons of them from the internet anyway. If you like it, just search for all the positive reviews and look at it, feel good about it and go spend your money. If you hate it, just search for all the videos that tell you “don’t buy the new iPhone” and you will be a happy person thereafter.

Why isn’t there a review? Is it because there really isn’t much to talk about? Well, maybe. Whatever the differences between my iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone 11 Pro are good to have. But honestly, I can live another year without them too. The only problem I have with my older iPhone is the battery has started to age, oh and did I mentioned the battery life on the new iPhone is pretty amazing? Plus the need to renew my Telco contract and hence… here I am with my new phone.

I’m not telling you to buy or not to buy the new iPhone. In fact I think none of the reviewers should. One should just share the usage experience and let you make the judgement call. If any of the improvements are significant enough for you, just go ahead and upgrade even on a yearly basis. If you just want to use an iPhone, honestly the iPhone 11, even the iPhone 8 series are still extremely capable and a hell of a phone in 2019.

Is this the best iPhone? Well, I can tell you straight the answer: The best iPhone is the iPhone that Apple will announce next year 🙂 There’s really no point in looking for the best. If you are happy with iOS, just look for one that fits within your budget and get it. Be it iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone 11, iPhone 8 or even iPhone SE… till then.




















A Brand Story

Recently I have read a couple of books on some of the famous brands in the world, about the story behind their creation and success, about the vision, mission and values that formed a part of their identity. There were two books which I found to be particularly enjoyable and insightful to read:

“The Starbucks Story, How the brand changed the world” by John Simmons

The story of Starbucks has always been a fascinating one. A company that was founded by a few gentlemen who were obsessed over high quality coffee beans, which was then bought over by Howard Schultz, a man who was obsessed with the coffee culture and experience which he immersed in Italy. The whole brand was then transformed, from selling beans and brewing equipment to serving coffees and pastries, creating “The Third Place” that everyone will go besides office and home.

“Shoe Dog, a memoir by the creator of Nike” by Phil Knight

This is actually the first time I got to know the Nike brand in detail. I was surprised that the whole story was started off with Phil importing Onitsuka Tiger’s shoes, how it all went south in the end and ultimately led to the creation of their own shoe brand: Nike. The struggles of Phil and his fellowships was so real and raw, and it made me continued to read and read in order to find out what they did to get over all the hurdles. The story brought up the spirits behind Nike, on hindsight, you can really see where those spirits and rebellion came from.

Both books offered insight and behind-the-scene of how a brand was created, how their identity was defined. For Starbucks it’s always about customer experiences, for Nike it’s all about winning. Both books were easy to read and digest, and I learnt a couple of things about business management along the way as well. Even if you are not a business person, these books were entertaining enough for you to read and get to know the brand better, that is if you are a fan of these brands.

Goodbye AirPod… and Hello Sony WF-1000XM3

My AirPod was officially dead. It no longer hold its charge properly after almost 18 months of use. Despite people hating it, and I was one of them in the beginning, I started to love using it more and more, day after day. That’s until I ran into some frustrations (in particularly sound leakage) and got myself the Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones, which has been the king of noise cancelling headphones to date.

However, as pointed out in my earlier post, if there’s a choice, I would prefer something of a hybrid between AirPod and the WH-1000XM3 as I am not so much of a headphones person after-all. And after almost a year owning the WH-1000XM3 (and still using the AirPod on and off)… my dream was answered.

Thanks to AirPod, the wireless earbuds space has boomed. And then in came the WF-1000XM3. Sony seriously need to find a better way to name their products… That aside, this has become my go-to earbuds, replacing both AirPod and WH-1000XM3 (AirPod sitting in the museum now, while WH-1000XM3 was sold off).

I’ll not dwell too much on the technical aspect of the earbuds, in short, this beast provides true wireless, noise cancelling, excellent sound quality and great battery life. It is indeed a shrunk down version of the WH-1000XM3, with equally appealing aesthetic to boot.

My experience of using them so far has been positive. Both sound quality and noise cancelling are almost as good as its elder brother. In terms of noise cancelling, similar to its elder brother, there will be some white noise when it is activated, and it is still unable to handle noise cancelling well under windy condition. If you can’t get a good seal, your noise cancelling performance will degrade sharply. Anyway, for daily commute, this pair of earbuds does the job pretty well.

In terms of connection, you can’t pair this to more than one device at any one time, and transitioning from one device to the other is not as seamless as AirPod, which is to be expected. As for the connection stability, I do experience a few stutter in crowded places, which could be annoying to some. I believe like what others had pointed out, you’ll probably need Android devices in order to make full use of the new Bluetooth chip inside, I’m not too sure. By the way, I’m connecting to my iPhone 8 Plus.

The main concern I have will definitely be how well it stays in my ears. Similar to my AirPod, my right ear was the one that gave me the most problem in getting a good fit. Although these buds have not fall off from my ears for the past weeks, I do have a “less secure” feeling as compared to my AirPod in the early days of wearing it. Perhaps its due to the bulk of the size and weight of the earbuds is located further away from my ears, hence creating the sense of “it may drop off”. But as time goes by, I got used to it and it isn’t a problem anymore now. It survived the rush hour train ride and some stair climbing without any issue. Although it does look a little bulky, but once on your ear, it is actually quite flushed and didn’t protrude out too much.

Like what others had commented, it would be great if the earbuds are come with water resistant and volume control. Either way, it is not a deal breaker and I can live with it for now. Besides that, the black model comes with a case which has a soft satin finishing to it (the silver model looks the same too), and my concern is that this could be a dust/scratch magnet, or it will become pretty nasty looking as time passes. I would much prefer the function of multiple device connection to come as standard for the next generation.

All in all, I’m happy with the WF-1000XM3. It certainly lives up to the hype and will undoubtedly deserves a spot in my gear arsenal. It serves a good middle ground market between wireless earbuds and noise cancelling headphones, and I’m looking forward to see how Sony will improve on the M4 version. Till then.

Update: so far everything has been good except the Bluetooth connection to my iPhone, occasionally it will be a bit slow to connect. Also, occasionally right earbud signal would drop off for no apparent reason, and connects back by itself after few seconds. Both of these problems doesn’t occur like frequently, but still it adds up to the overall user experience. Will continue to monitor on this matter.