Four months ago, Tim Cook and other various higher-ups at Apple got on stage and showed us the Apple Watch. The watch, they explained, was incredible, and that pinching and touching the screen with your fingers was awkward on such a small device because it covers up the content. So, to fix this, they explained in a grandiose way that only Apple could, that they’d invented an amazing new way of interacting with a smartwatch – a digital crown.
A crown, that thing on the side of the watch that’s been there forever. Apple translated it over to a smartwatch. That’s basically it. And then the demo consisted of some other Apple employee touching the screen a whole lot and barely using the crown.
Yesterday, the higher-ups of Microsoft got on stage and said they’d invented an amazing new interface for technology. Ten years ago, this would be an eye-rolling moment. Did they invent a mouse with 5 buttons and 3 scrollwheels?
No, Microsoft has suddenly made untethered augmented reality a, well, …reality. Out of nowhere, they busted out this augmented reality headset called the Microsoft HoloLens that will project what they call “holograms” into your daily life.
So Apple puts a crown on a watch, and Microsoft is putting us one step closer to making every nerd’s childhood dreams come true. Am I taking crazy pills? As Engadget said, “When did Apple become the boring one?”
And look, maybe Microsoft Holographic and the HoloLens will be rough for a while and not be perfect, but this technology is so exciting. The fact is, Microsoft is putting money into something that has incredible potential is anything but boring.
Of course, Microsoft can’t just do this one thing and suddenly be amazing, so I want to make something pretty clear: using any tech company’s products over a long period of time may be a roller coaster ride, and for the past year or so, Microsoft has been cruising on up, and Apple has been coasting down. Windows 8 may have been a low point, but most people I know that didn’t like 8 do like 8.1, including me. In fact, I freaking love Windows 8.1. I love it on desktops, and I love it on my Surface Pro 3. Oh, and I love my Surface Pro 3. And Windows Phone. And how cross-compatible all of Microsoft’s apps and devices are. It’s just awesome. And Windows 10 looks amazing. I can’t wait for it.
Really, the one misstep Microsoft has made recently has been the Microsoft Band, which is not a smartwatch, but a fitness band. It’s kind of big and clunky-looking, and far too expensive.
And Apple? Yosemite bugs everywhere, iOS 8 bugs everywhere, this stupid new iPhone hardware that’s prettier than it is functional with software that is not designed for one-handed use (“reachability” is a kludged-together pain in the ass). Their hardware on the laptop side looks nice, but where are the freaking touchscreens? Oh, but OS X isn’t touch optimized, so even if they did have a touchscreen Mac, it would probably be a pretty crappy experience.
I love my MacBook Pro. It’s a really solid piece of hardware that’s served me well for years, but going forward, buying any kind of computing device without a touchscreen just seems stupid (exceptions given for desktops).
I really hope this is just a bump in the road for Apple, but I also hope this amazing stuff Microsoft is doing never stops. Competition is awesome and drives companies to be better and make better things, and man, I can’t wait to try a freaking Microsoft HoloLens.
Oh, and I’ll wait and see if Microsoft does a smartwatch too, because the Apple Watch is far too boring to pay $350+ for, only to be locked into iOS to use it.