Apple Preventing in-store iPad Mini with Retina Purchases

It seems Apple is constraining in-store purchases of the iPad mini with retina display.

The Backstory

A couple nights ago, I reached that point where I was 99% certain I wanted to get an iPad mini, despite the lack of Touch ID. I knew supplies were tight, but I figured it was worth seeing if any were in stock locally. To my surprise, there were some available, so I placed an order for Personal Pickup at the Pioneer Place Apple Store.

Yesterday, I picked up the new iPad at lunch time and started to install things and get it set up. Knowing that a few folks had seen image retention problems, I decided to use the test by Marco Arment to check my display.

Unfortunately, it failed with a noticeable retained pattern.

I set up a Genius Bar appointment for later in the afternoon. I talked to the Genius about what I saw and she said that because the unit was brand new, it made sense to just return it and get a new one rather than any sort of repair process. So far, so good.

We Don’t Have Any Available

The Genius told me that they didn’t have any of the same model iPad available for exchange (they didn’t have the other color, either). She was very apologetic and facilitated me returning the defective iPad, telling me that I should just order a new one online and that was going to be the quickest way to get a new unit.

That was a bummer, but not entirely unsurprising, since I knew supplies were short. What happened next was the surprise.

I left the store, went out to my car, and had a bright idea: I was about to drive across town for a meeting, putting me within a mile of another Apple Store (Bridgeport Village). I figured I’d fire up the Apple Store app and see if the other store had any iPads available.

They did. But the app also told me that Pioneer Place, the store I’d just left, had them available as well.

Apple Preventing Stores from Selling iPads Without Online Order

I walked back into the store and talked with two employees, explaining what I’d seen and asking for an explanation. They told me that they’re not able to sell the iPad mini with retina units unless they’ve been preordered online.

That’s right: they have the units in stock, but aren’t allowed to sell them to a customer who walks into the store and asks for one.

They suggested that I could order one online and that it would be ready for pickup, at that store, within an hour. They even offered to let me use the store’s computers to make the order. After a bit of back-and-forth conversation that basically consisted of me repeating WTF, I left the store as I needed to head across town.

Once back in my car, I ordered the iPad for pickup at Bridgeport, made the 45-minute drive, picked it up, and was on my way.

The new unit doesn’t have the screen retention problem.

 First Thoughts on OmniFocus 2

OmniFocus iconLast night I attended the OmniFocus Debut event in San Francisco, where the Omni Group offered the first public look at the next Mac version of OmniFocus, their powerful task management system that’s based on David Allen’s Getting Things Done (GTD) methodology for personal productivity.

Making it Easier

Omni Group CEO Ken Case kicked off the presentation by sharing the high-level goals for OmniFocus 2. One of the challenges with OmniFocus 1 is that while it’s a powerful application, there’s a steep learning curve that can make it difficult for new users to get up and running into a productive state. Easier ramp-up time was a concern, and as Case noted, with OmniFocus 2 you’ll no longer need a degree in OmniFocus to use OmniFocus.

This easier ramp-up is facilitated primarily by two visible changes which became obvious as product manager Liz Marley demonstrated the working version of OmniFocus 2. The first is a refreshed look to the application. It’s hard to specify exactly what’s changed, but instead of the dated look of OmniFocus 1, the new version appears cleaner and more in line with current UI practices. The second big change is quite tangible: the separate Projects and Contexts sidebars are gone, replaced by a consolidated sidebar that features collapseable panels. In these panels you’ll find access to Projects, Contexts, your Inbox, Flagged items, as well as a couple new views/features…

Back to the Mac: Forecast

OmniFocus’ Forecast view was introduced with their iPad application, offering an easy look at what tasks are coming in the next week. It quickly became many users’ favorite way of interacting with the program, providing a relevant view at pending work without having to create a custom perspective.

OmniFocus 2 introduces a Forecast view to the Mac version of the software. The basic look is similar to that of the iPad Forecast view, integrating both upcoming tasks and calendar entries into a view of “soon to come” items.

In a nice enhancement beyond what’s available on the iPad, OmniFocus 2 doesn’t restrict Forecast view to only the next week. You can pop open a calendar view of the upcoming month and select an arbitrary range of dates to be included. If you’d like your forecast to just include three days, you select those three days. Want a 2-week view? Sure. And, in a feature that David Sparks said made him pee a little with excitement, you can also select days vertically on the calendar, meaning that, for example, you can take a look at your next few Saturdays.

Back to the Mac: Reviews

The other area in which the iPad version offered a better experience than OmniFocus 1 for the Mac was the interface used for task reviews. Getting Things Done advocates a weekly review, but OmniFocus also allows users to specify a different review period on a per-project basis.

The pre-release version of the software we saw last night didn’t yet have a functional Reviews component, but we were shown mockups of what is hoped to ship when the software is available. The Review interface is very similar to that of the iPad, which should make it much easier for OmniFocus users to keep on top of this important part of the GTD system. From the stage, Merlin Mann noted that the GTD review is where one is held accountable, and the improved Review feature will make it easier to see when you’ve been a slacker (which, in a positive light, might incentivize you to get back on track).

My Take

OmniFocus 2 is about what I expected, and that’s a good thing. The new Forecast and Review views will be a nice enhancement to the Mac OmniFocus experience, and I’m looking forward to a fresher UI in the application. OmniFocus 2 will be a nice evolution of the product that should provide a more pleasant experience when working on tasks. A couple speakers yesterday reminded us that the goal of software like OmniFocus is not to become good at OmniFocus, but rather to become good at finishing tasks and projects.

I’m sure I’ll have more to say once I start using the product.

What’s Next

Ken Case noted that everyone has two big questions: when and how much?

When: OmniFocus will enter a private beta soon; allegedly those of us in attendance last night will be the first private beta testers so I’ll share what I can, when I can. They also have over 9,000 folks who have registered to be part of their beta testing, so there won’t be any lack of “real world” field testing. After a private beta, there will be a public beta (expected to last about a month) and then release.

How Much: OmniFocus 2 will be released in two versions. A Standard version will include all of the basic user features (projects, contexts, forecast, review, etc) and will be priced at $39.99. A Pro version will add the power user abilities to create custom perspectives (workflow views) as well as AppleScript support. The Pro version will be priced the same as the previous version of OmniFocus: $79.99.

Current registered users of OmniFocus will be eligible to upgrade at a 50% discount.

Read more about OmniFocus 2 on the Omni Group’s blog.

What Does (and Doesn’t) Get Restored in an iCloud iPhone Restore

Apple App Store iconLast weekend my iPhone 4 was replaced (thank you AppleCare) due to a faulty home button. I made an iCloud backup prior to heading down to the Genius Bar at the Apple Store, and the swap was a painless process. I got home and began the process of the restore from iCloud. Things got a little bumpy along the way. Here’s what I learned:

  • If you’re using two-factor authentication for GMail, Google Apps, Dropbox, LastPass, or any other services and you rely on an iPhone app such as Google Authenticator, you should disable two-factor authentication temporarily until you get Google Authenticator installed on the new phone. It was interesting when I went to log in and was prompted for the code from a nonexistant code-generation app.
  • Some apps seem to restore settings/configurations from the iPhone backup and others don’t. While Foursquare and Starbucks had no idea who I was and required me to reauthenticate, Instagram and 1Password had my profile, settings, and configurations all loaded automatically.
  • My Twitter accounts that are integrated and stored in the iOS settings were restored, but were nonfunctional. Attempts to tweet from Reeder and Instapaper resulted in failures. I went into the Settings and Twitter configuration, re-entered the credentials, and then it worked again.
  • Something is jacked with Google Calendar sync. It’s synchronized my main calendar, but no amount of reconfiguration seems to be allowing it to sync my additional calendars.
  • Despite telling Downcast to sync my podcast information via iCloud using the various settings in the iCloud options of the app, Downcast doesn’t (by default) back up the media. The result was that I had playlists indicating various podcasts and episodes were unheard, but when I attemped to play those episodes, Downcast had to stream because the files weren’t on the device. I couldn’t figure out how to force Downcast to re-download. I ended up exporting my subscriptions as OMPL, deleted them all, then re-imported which aallowed Downcast to re-download. It turns out there is a setting to force Downcast to back up media to iCloud, but it’s not in the iCloud area of the settings. Instead it’s the very last option on the Settings screen.

I share this information in hopes that I can help someone else. My iPhone 5 should be arriving in a couple days; based on my experiences with this swap/restore I think I’ll be using the iPhone 5 as a good opportunity to start fresh with a clean set of software.

Speaking at NMX 2013

I’m excited to share that I’ve been selected to present at NMX in January in Las Vegas.

NMX (formerly known as BlogWorld & New Media Expo) is the leading conference for those with a professional or personal interest in blogging, podcasting, social media, and other “new” media topics.

I’ll be presenting a session titled “You’re a Better Photographer Than You Realize: Photography Tips for New Media”. Whether it’s with a DSLR, smartphone, or point-and-shoot camera, pretty much everyone doing social media is creating photographs of some sort. In my hourlong session we’ll dive into practical tips on exposure, composition, lighting, and other techniques to make interesting images.

I’ve really enjoyed my past experiences attending and speaking at BlogWorld; I’m looking forward to NMX and I hope to see you there! With the location being at the Rio in Vegas, the NMX folks offer a great program for a low fee when compared with other similar events.

Register Now for NMX 2013 in Las Vegas, Jan 6-8!