As I’ve written before, this year I’ll be interested in Apple’s ‘Far Out’ event from a personal perspective, rather than just a professional one. Ironically I won’t be covering it in any capacity for the first time since 2014 because a friend has inconsiderately scheduled his wedding for the same day. (Or maybe it’s Apple that’s being inconsiderate?)
Either way, I won’t be watching the Apple event in full, but I will no doubt check in via snatched glances away from the festivities. Because this year I’ll be getting an iPhone 14 Pro after my long-serving Samsung Galaxy S10e decided to take a swim with me while on holiday.
It’ll be only the second iPhone I’ve ever owned, after using an iPhone 3GS back in 2008. It’s a phone I still feel nostalgic for, even if my addiction to Peggle meant I missed the stop on my commute on more than one occasion, and I’m looking forward to seeing if Apple can recapture that magic.
But I won’t be going all in on the extras I’m afraid, Apple.
Thanks, but no thanks
That’s not a criticism of other Apple hardware, but more of an acceptance that — good as the Apple Watch and AirPods look — I’m very happy with my third-party extras, made by Garmin and Bose.
Pro tip: It’s worth looking at what people who review stuff for a living actually end up buying themselves. I have a shelf behind me full of perfectly adequate smartwatches that manufacturers are yet to claim back after my testing, but I instead paid good money for the Garmin Forerunner 245 a few years ago, and haven’t looked back. It’s a great running watch, and was a useful companion as I tried to get back to my running best after a tedious battle with long Covid.
Admittedly, it’s not the most handsome wearable in town, and next to the Apple Watch Series 7 it looks positively homely. But that’s why I bought another Garmin wearable on the cheap: the Vivomove Style, which is a slightly less posh version of the Vivomove Luxe. It looks to the untrained eye like a regular analogue watch, but it has two cunningly hidden OLED screens to flash up notifications.
Brilliantly, both link to the Garmin Connect app, meaning that sleep, steps and heart rate are tracked and logged, no matter which I’m wearing at any given time. Even if I switch halfway through the day, they’ll eventually sync their activity into an overall picture of my exertion (or laziness).
As for audio, I have to confess that I am not a real audiophile. I don’t think my ears are particularly sophisticated, so I don’t review headphones. As such I’m very happy with the brilliant audio offered by my trusty old Bose QC 35 IIs — even if I’ve had to replace the foam inlays from overuse.
So impressed was I with Bose that I turned to the company again for my running earphones, with the Bose SoundSport wireless earbuds. They’re also decent, and I find them far more reliable than the sets of true wireless earphones I’ve used, which have always seemed massively flakey — this possibly makes me unfairly suspicious of AirPods.
In short, I don’t see a reason to switch to Apple’s own products here, good as they no doubt are. The price is certainly a bar, but even if they were cheaper, I’m not sure I’d see the point. Unless Bose and Garmin’s apps are awful on iOS, I just can’t see myself switching.
There is, however, one area where I’m already fully signed up.
The 'One' exception
Somewhat unusually for an Android and Windows user, I have an active Apple One subscription — and I can’t wait to use it on the hardware it’s actually built for.
I made the switch shortly after Spotify’s Joe Rogan fiasco, but it was also down to value. My partner and I already have an Apple TV Plus subscription (Severance is marvelous, if you’re yet to watch) and the Apple One family subscription gives us Apple Music, Apple TV Plus, Apple Arcade and 200GB iCloud storage for a pretty reasonable $19.95 per month.
Granted, I’m not getting much use out of iCloud or Apple Arcade yet — but all of that will change when the iPhone 14 Pro is in my hands. And while Apple doesn’t officially support Windows for Apple Music, I’ve found the $1.99 Cider app does a brilliant job of bringing the streamer’s expansive catalogue to Windows 11. It even plugs into Last.fm!
In short, Apple One appears like good value and offers something that other third parties can’t: Spotify can’t give me games, Netflix can’t give me music and Dropbox can’t give me TV.
As for the Apple Watch, AirPods or HomePod, I’m quite happy with the third-party alternatives. Maybe that will change in time if I grow to love my prospective iPhone 14 Pro, but for now, I’m only one foot in the door at the Church of Apple.