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Mossberg's Review of the Top Tech Dogs of 2016 Finds that Apple's products weren't up to their Historical Standards

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Walt Mossberg today looks back at 2016 and provides a quick look at what the top dogs of tech and in this report we cover what Walt said about Apple. Mossberg notes in his report that although "Apple is primarily a hardware company, in January I urged it to focus on improving its core software: the Apple-made Mail, Calendar, Music, Photos, and other apps on its devices. And in fact the company did some of this. Examples include a new user interface for Apple Music, easier app access on the Apple Watch, lots of new features in iMessage and improvements in Apple Maps, and in the default keyboard's predictive typing. And Apple's commitment to privacy and security remains steadfast and admirable.


But the all-important Mail app, on both iOS and macOS, is still poor at handling the overwhelmingly popular Gmail service and the iOS calendar is still clumsy; iTunes and Photos still need work.


Most importantly, and unforeseen by me back then, Apple managed to disappoint in 2016 with a series of hardware products that, while very good, weren't up to the company's high historical standards, in my view.


In most cases, I attribute this to an overemphasis on design at the expense of function. This isn't solely an Apple problem, but it's most clearly evident there.


The iPhone 7, while boasting better specs, axed the long-standing, perfectly fine headphone jack, making a dongle necessary to charge the phone while using earbuds. The MacBook Pro was made thinner and lighter, and given a narrow function screen atop the keyboard called the Touch Bar. But, in the process, it became a tweener with less battery life. And the new, wireless AirPod earbuds, while impressive in many ways, can't adjust the volume or skip a track without either interrupting the music to ask Siri to do it or fumbling for your phone or Apple Watch. That's a step backwards from the silent, manipulable control module on familiar old EarPods."


To rub it into Apple's face, Mossberg noted in his coverage of Microsoft that "the company's relatively small Surface hardware group scored a coup by enchanting designers, video editors, and other creatives with a gorgeous all-in-one desktop just as Apple was disappointing some of them with the new MacBook Pro." 


Ouch. Yesterday Mark Gurman hit Apple with a report that pointed to that same 'disappointment' of the MacBook Pro in contrast to Microsoft's Surface computers offering "Apple-esque quality." The tech press overall saw Microsoft's Surface Studio as a knockout blow to Apple this fall and see Microsoft's hunger at taking the fight to Apple all the way back to the top.


To read Mossberg's take on other tech giants such as Google, Facebook and Amazon, click here.


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