My wife and I are casual musicians and both grew up with a love for music. Ever since we moved in together, we always have had a speaker in the kitchen — it’s the place we most commonly play music without headphones. The JBL OnBeat Venue LT speaker we’ve had in there has served us well, but has officially been usurped by HomePod. Here’s why.
Onavo Protect, the VPN client from the data-security app maker acquired by Facebook back in 2013, has now popped up in the Facebook iOS app itself, under the banner “Protect” in the navigation menu. Clicking through on “Protect” will redirect Facebook users to the “Onavo Protect – VPN Security” app’s listing on the App Store.
Marketing Onavo within Facebook itself could lead to a boost in users for the VPN app, which promises to warn users of malicious websites and keep information secure – like bank account and credit card numbers – as you browse. But Facebook didn’t buy Onavo for its security protections.
Instead, Onavo’s VPN allow Facebook to monitor user activity across apps, giving Facebook a big advantage in terms of spotting new trends across the larger mobile ecosystem. For example, Facebook gets an early heads up about apps that are becoming breakout hits; it can tell which are seeing slowing user growth; it sees which apps’ new features appear to be resonating with their users, and much more.
Trojan horse, much?
Tons of people will enable this without question. Don’t be one of those people. If you’re looking for a good VPN service, check out Private Internet Access. I use it from time to time, and they have a good track record when it comes to privacy.
Ah, Undo and Redo — the holy grail for those that make mistakes; saviors of ‘oh shit’ moments; enablers of the daring; unsung heroes of obsessive writers, carefully restructuring their sentences. You’ve been with us since the early days of computing. You deserve better than the terrible gesture given to you on iOS.
If you don’t know about Shake to Undo, I won’t blame you — I’d rate its discoverability on iOS at the utmost lowest, below even 3D Touch. Granted, it’s not a hard concept. Make a mistake? No problem, just literally shake your phone in disgust and look like a dumbass in the process. It’s especially ‘fun’ if you do it in front of people. Even if they’ve used the gesture themselves, you might get an odd look. Oh, and just to make matters worse, we’ll make you tap a slow-to-appear prompt to confirm your action (see top image). Have a lot to undo? Oh well. You’re in for more shaking than a Shake Weight commercial. I can only assume whomever concocted this gesture likened it to shaking your head when something isn’t right, but it’s been a huge swing-and-a-miss we’ve had to put up with for far too long. It’s even worse than squeezing the sides of your phone as an input method, found in Android phones. Come to think of it though, I might prefer squeezing my iPhone to Undo/Redo. I still might feel a bit ridiculous, but it sounds like a better mechanism on paper.
I shouldn’t loathe using a gesture, but that’s where I’m at with Shake to Undo. To be specific, I am speaking mostly about this gesture on iPhone. This is less of a problem on iPad, as you have a full-screen software keyboard, complete with contextually-aware Undo, Redo, Copy, Cut, and Paste keys. You’re in even better shape if you have a hardware keyboard attached for that sweet CMD + Z and CMD + Shift + Z action. Still, as dumb as I feel shaking my iPhone, I would feel like a colossal moron shaking my iPad, as if in a fit of fury.
Now, a good amount of drawing or specialty apps have dedicated Undo and/or Redo buttons in their toolbars. Here are GoodNotes and Excel, for instance. This is less of a problem for these apps, but I still think a better system-wide solution is in order.
The solution is obvious though, isn’t it? Any time you need to Undo/Redo, just ask Siri.
[pause for laughter]
Good one, right? Ok, for real this time.
Here’s my proposal for fixing this in the most straightforward way I can think of. Add contextually-aware Undo and Redo options to the formatting toolbar. It makes perfect sense, since Copy/Cut/Paste already appear here. If you don’t know what toolbar I’m referring to, it’s the pop-up one presented when you tap or tap-and-hold on text and other media.
Before I present a simple mock-up of simply adding these options to the existing toolbar, I have a mini-rant about its layout. I can’t believe Apple presents this menu as one long, scrollable horizontal toolbar. In a day and age where we have more vertical space than ever (I’m looking at you, iPhone X), I can’t fathom why they haven’t changed its design. There is plenty of vertical space on every current-generation iPhone to at least double its height. To illustrate my point, here’s my combination Undo/Redo mock-up and tweaked design for this toolbar. Note: this doesn’t take into account every single option that can appear on this toolbar (depending on the app, selection, etc.), but I think it gets my point across.
The lower half of the bar could still be scrollable if there are additional options required for the app, but at least you’d have most of the common options readily available. This would also make multiple Undos/Redos faster than shaking and waiting for the prompt we have now. That is to say: the bar could remain visible after hitting Undo or Redo, and dismissed only by tapping outside its bounds.
This would work for virtually any scenario you’d need Undo/Redo in (i.e. manipulating content). What do you think? Is there a better way? Let me know! Any reasonable solution would be leaps and bounds better than what we have now. Fixing this would make for a better experience and offer better discoverability. Not to mention I can stop feeling like a dumbass whenever I need to Undo.
Judging from my analytics, this post on HomePod’s technology is proving particularly popular over the last week as launch nears. In similar vein, WinterCharm from Reddit’s audiophile community had an hour with HomePod and has great things to say. Here’s a few of his notable thoughts.
On the HomePod’s size:
Fucking hell this thing is TINY. It’s really surprising to see it in person. Hefting it is odd, too. The fabric is soft but firm. It was also lighter than I was expecting. It’s also very pretty. Aside from the single cord coming out the back, there is no idication that it has a particular side/front. It’s built to blend into whatever space it’s in, rather than stand out.
On the sound:
Having heard it side by side with The Sonos Play One and Google Home Max, A single HomePod is already much better than both in terms of sound quality. I would say the Sonos Play One was 80% of the way there, but it just lacked the clarity of bass and wide soundstage. The Home Max was consistent with the Sonos Play One.
I started out with “Hotel California” by The Eagles. The first impression was the neutrality of the speaker. The HomePods are tuned for an as-true-to-recording sound. When the song calls for it, there is bass. When the song turns to crystal clear highs, they are reproduced faithfully. What really was interesting is the instrument separation in the room. At about 45% volume, the HomePod FILLED the room I was in with some great sound. When you walked away from it, the sound gets quieter, but not as quickly as you’d expect. All the details were still there, just softer. there was no feeling of walking out of the sweet spot that you get with a normal speaker. And that’s when it hit me… Apple really has done it.
Significantly better audio than Sonos Play One or Google Home Max.
Walk around in the room you never feel like you’re leaving the sweet spot. An impressive feat.
Volume is more than adequate. The speakers sound accurate, never introducing extra bass when the song didn’t call for it. 40% was fine for me. Pushing them to 80% was really fun.
Highs are great, but I expect that they’ll become crystal clear with a second HomePod.
For a speaker so TINY, these are fucking AMAZING.
The bass is really clean, and well controlled. Build is solid.
There are other reviews out there, but this is the feedback that matters to me most — a real audiophile’s review. I wouldn’t call myself an audiophile per se, but I really value high-quality audio. This makes me even more excited to fire up my HomePod on February 9.
Apple has shaken up its iOS software plans for 2018, delaying some features to next year in an effort to put more focus on addressing performance and quality issues, Axios has learned.
On cut features:
On the cutting board: Pushed into 2019 are a number of features including a refresh of the home screen and in-car user interfaces, improvements to core apps like mail and updates to the picture-taking, photo editing and sharing experiences.
I’ve been wondering when Apple would spruce up the home screen with something more modern. If this report is true, it’s too bad we’ll have to wait for their vision of what that looks like. Also sad about CarPlay. It definitely could use some work.
On new features still slated for release:
What made it: There will be some new features, of course, including improvements in augmented reality, digital health and parental controls. In addition, Apple is prioritizing work to make iPhones more responsive and less prone to cause customer support issues.
There are multiple outlets corroborating this story, so I’m inclined to believe the context. However, as these rumors go, there’s no telling to what exact degree they are true until the WWDC keynote is over.
I don’t see this is a bad thing, but more of an unfortunate necessity after the string of bugs and security issues caused by lack of oversight. Not to mention the bad press Apple received as a result thereof. Hypothetically, this could mean iOS 12.x and macOS 10.14.x releases may be more substantial updates down the line — especially for iOS and new iPhone models, which typically have a few unique features.
Also, if Gurman is right, this could allow more time for Apple to focus on watchOS and tvOS. watchOS received a relatively small update last year in the form of watchOS 4. For a device still in its infancy, it has started to hit its groove, but adjustments are still in order. This is especially true when it comes to opening up the SDK even more for developers (e.g. new APIs for audio to allow for podcast apps).
We’ll see how true this is eventually. A lot can happen between now and June.
Hot on the heels of iOS 11.2.5’s release yesterday, Apple previewed major features for the next major version of iOS this morning: iOS 11.3.
New AR Experiences. In addition to horizontal surfaces like tables and chairs, ARKit can now recognize and place virtual objects on vertical surfaces like walls and doors, and can more accurately map irregularly shaped surfaces like circular tables.
New Animoji.1 iOS 11.3 introduces four new Animoji, giving iPhone X users the ability to express themselves as a lion, bear, dragon or skull.
Business Chat. Business Chat is a new way for users to communicate directly with businesses right within Messages. This feature will launch in Beta with the public availability of iOS 11.3 this spring, with the support of select businesses including Discover, Hilton, Lowe’s and Wells Fargo.
Batteries and Performance. iOS 11.3 adds new features to show battery health and recommend if a battery needs to be serviced. These can be found in Settings -> Battery and are available for iPhone 6 and later.
Health Records in Health App. Patients from participating medical institutions will have information from various institutions organized into one view and receive regular notifications for their lab results, medications, conditions and more.
HomeKit software authentication. HomeKit software authentication provides a great new way for developers to add HomeKit support to existing accessories while protecting privacy and security.
Pretty cool stuff. There are a couple more features, so check out the preview page.
I’m most excited about the ARKit upgrades. Being able to use AR on vertical surfaces is a no-brainer for further implementations. Glad to see Apple added it.
Also, being in Healthcare IT, implementing Health Records in the Health app must be no easy feat. I can’t wait for the day when this is the norm for all healthcare systems.
Surprisingly (or unsurprisingly) missing from this list is a feature originally intended to launch with iOS 11.0 — Messages in iCloud. Similar to iCloud Photo Library and iCloud Music Library, Messages in iCloud stores your messages in iCloud, which are then retrieved by your Apple devices (instead of the awful syncing mechanism in place now). Apple said they needed more time to perfect the feature, so it was removed from early iOS 11 betas.
As it turns out, the first iOS 11.3 developer beta went live just a few minutes ago, and Federico Viticci discovered Messages in iCloud is indeed included. Upon discovery, I was a little surprised Apple didn’t include this on their preview page. Either they still aren’t confident in their ability to perfect the feature for iOS 11.3, or realized it’s not a super-sexy feature to market to the masses like … Animoji. I’m hoping its the latter.
Jeremy Horwitz for Venturebeat on Apple’s CES presence:
My position: Apple’s 2009 withdrawal from trade shows may have been justifiable back then, but the overall impact has been negative. Additionally, Apple’s related decision to move most of its product launches to a single quarter each year has damaged the brand, despite the strength of Apple’s sales and stock. However, unless certain highly improbable changes are made at CES, this particular trade show is not the right venue for Apple. Instead, the company should leverage its incredible retail infrastructure to do something different.
Not sure how it has damaged the brand, specifically. He goes on to address Apple’s ‘boring calendar’:
On a highly related note, Apple never formally said that it was going to stop staggering major new product releases across the year, but that’s effectively what happened: Since Tim Cook took over, Apple has announced almost nothing of significance until WWDC in June, and the vast majority of new products are released during a narrow window from mid-September to early November.
Some people have suggested that fewer events are the natural result of maturing products — version 1 deserves a splashy event whenever, but no one will care to show up for the “special” debut of a slightly slimmer version 2, or a waterproof version 3, which could arrive via press release. That’s Apple’s problem to remedy, partially with more breakthrough products, and partially with developer engagement and marketing to show how seemingly small changes — say, adding a game controller and games to the Apple TV — could disrupt an entire industry.
Alright, here we go. Products are ready when they are ready, even if they are delayed (e.g. Apple Watch, AirPods, HomePod). Furthermore, Apple isn’t the same company it was ten years ago, where they could release more throughout the year at a much smaller scale. Everything they make now has to be produced in massive quantities. Care and precision is key and extremely difficult, as we’re seeing by delayed products.
Jeremy’s proposal on changing things up:
Perhaps Apple’s “goodbye, Macworld” press release had the best idea of them all: Since Apple’s retail stores see millions of visits per week, why not bring them all together once or twice a year for global-scale special events?
Live from Apple Park’s Steve Jobs Theater, the company could simultaneously broadcast a keynote to all of its retail stores, complete with a window of limited hands-on time with new products for press and customers. Imagine the lines and the local media coverage; they would be off the charts, and diversify the voices offering perspectives on new Apple products.
The full list of reasons why this would never happen is a big one, so I’ll cut it down to a top few:
Apple would never allow just anyone who shows up to have hands-on time with unreleased products, whether they be hardware or software. It’s a huge part of their M.O. — one that I don’t see ever changing. Allowing first-look experiences for YouTubers in a controlled environment is as close as we’ll ever get to this idea.
Just imagine the damning press and social media calamity if someone were to record a device failing, malfunctioning, or worse.
Having these events would send a confusing message to the uninitiated, perhaps encouraging the idea that all announced products will be available for purchase immediately following the keynote.
A bug report submitted on Open Radar this week reveals a security vulnerability in the current version of macOS High Sierra that allows the App Store menu in System Preferences to be unlocked with any password.
As mentioned in the radar, System Preferences does not accept an incorrect password with a non-administrator account. We also weren’t able to unlock any other System Preferences menus with an incorrect password.
We’re unable to reproduce the issue on the third or fourth betas of macOS High Sierra 10.13.3, suggesting Apple has fixed the security vulnerability in the upcoming release. However, the update currently remains in testing.
Apple has really been dropping the ball with these breaches lately. Though App Store preferences are not as concerning as say, access to the whole system, the reality is still unacceptable.
I love AirPods, as you may be able to glean from my official review. They are a product everyone expected Apple to make, but their astounding quality and value took everyone by surprise (yours truly included). So much so that Apple can’t make them fast enough, being virtually out of stock since launching in December 2016. Shipping time was finally down to a few days recently, only to be pushed out again do to the holiday shopping season. Suffice it to say, AirPods have been a massive sleeper hit.
I’m still blown away by how amazing these little things are. That said, here’s how I think Apple can iterate for AirPods 2.
New W-series chip
AirPods have great Bluetooth connectivity and battery life, but Apple has room for gains here. The current AirPods introduced the W1 chip — Apple’s own wireless silicon for their custom Bluetooth stack. A second generation W2 chip has already found its way into Apple Watch Series 3, but it handles both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi for the device. Perhaps we’ll see a W2X or W3 chip customized for new AirPods.
“Hey Siri” support
I’m surprised this wasn’t baked in with the current AirPods, but perhaps it’s a battery thing. I think this would be far more elegant than double-tapping the pod itself. It would enable for faster track control, as well (i.e. play/pause, volume, previous/next).
Better volume control
This is probably the biggest complaint I’ve heard about AirPods, aside from fit issues. If you have an Apple Watch, this is less of a problem, as you can control volume from your wrist. Other methods include adjusting from iPhone or double-tapping and asking Siri (both slow).
Here’s the setup I’d like to see:
Default: double-tap for Volume Down, triple-tap for Volume Up.
Options to change double-tap and triple-tap to Previous Track/Next Track.
Option to enable double-tap for Siri.
This would be one setting across both AirPods (as opposed to the current per-AirPod setup). This way, you get the same experience if you’re wearing only one AirPod at a time (either one). Triple taps would would necessitate the need for an upgraded accelerometer, so add that to the list.
AirPods sound plainly good, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Current peak volume, mids, and highs are respectable for their small size. Bass is another story. You probably wouldn’t want AirPods specifically for bass-heavy music, but for better bass, you need to move a lot of air. And to move a lot of air, you need a larger device. AirPods aren’t going to get bigger, so we’ll see if Apple’s killer audio engineering team can work even more magic here.
Fun fact: my right AirPod fits better in my right ear than my left. The left is a little loose, but it usually doesn’t fall out unless I’m moving around a lot. That said, maybe Apple can add tiny bumps or padding to allow AirPods to hold onto your ears a little better. Either that, or make two sizes? Something tells me it won’t come to that.
Standard wireless charging case
Apple announced a new wireless charging case for current AirPods to work with their upcoming AirPower mat. No further details have been announced, although its price is rumored to be $69. It must be purchased separately for us existing AirPods owners, but I’m confident Apple will bundle this in with AirPods 2.
This is a wildcard. I feel like they may leave colored accessories to the Beats line so as to retain their iconic ‘Apple White’ look. Either way, I’d love to see AirPods available in these staples:
This is my biggest complaint with AirPods. I have a problem a few Apple devices, and switching my AirPods from one to the other has become a huge chore for the past six months or so. I don’t know if it was an AirPods firmware update, iOS 11 update, or a combination of both that caused it, but they are definitely slower at switching between devices than when they first came out.
While writing this, my AirPods are connected to my iPad Pro, despite Control Center not reflecting as such (see video below). Yay, bugs! Anyway, I just switched my AirPods continuously through three devices: my iPad Pro, iPhone X, and iPhone 7 I use for work. Every time I switched, it took about 10 seconds for AirPods to connect. Not terrible, but it absolutely doesn’t happen that fast every time. It seems to be more of an issue when using one AirPod at a time, or if each AirPod was independently connected to different devices last and you’re trying to switch one of them. I don’t know what it is, but it needs to be fixed for those of us with multiple devices.
I will also get an endless ‘loading indicator of doom’ far too often when switching.
AirPods connect successfully, but Control Center gets stuck on ‘iPad.’ Bad Control Center, bad.
Better Auto Sensing
Ever had this happen while lying down in bed?
Pop AirPods in.
Wait for the ‘connected’ confirmation sound like a dummy.
Sit up or move your head around like a mad man until they finally auto-connect.
In other words, AirPods only auto sense your ears if you are mostly vertical. This needs to be improved for us loungers. A combination of upgraded sensors and firmware should do the trick.
This is tangentially related, but Come.On.As I’ve ranted about before, we still don’t have a real EQ on iOS. This just cannot stand anymore. Apple the music company needs to deliver. And don’t give us that BS about an EQ having an impact on battery life.
So that’s about it. If I had go guess as to when second generation AirPods would surface, I’d say Fall 2018. Apple’s Fall event is typically when they make music-related announcements, and pairing AirPods with the typical Apple Watch refresh timeframe makes sense. After all, the current model was announced around this time for an October launch (then postponed to December).
Transmit for iOS always felt like an obvious addition to our lineup, but we never thought it made a ton of sense in the tightly-restricted world of iOS until Apple announced the “Share Sheet” for iOS 8. Finally, we thought, in addition to using Transmit iOS to upload/download whatever you need, you could easily (?) get data out of apps and send it to your favorite servers. So, in 2014, we built it!
On lack of sustainability:
Transmit iOS made about $35k in revenue in the last year, representing a minuscule fraction of our overall 2017 app revenue. That’s not enough to cover even a half-time developer working on the app. And the app needs full-time work […]
On the future of iPad productivity apps:
My optimistic take: we hope that as iOS matures, and more and more pro users begin to seriously consider the iPad as a legitimate part of their daily work routines, Transmit iOS can one day return and triumph like it does on the Mac.
The idea of this needing to happen really sucks, but it’s not Panic’s fault. Apple has only recently begun to capitalize on the form factor and power of iPad. The latest iPad Pro models in conjunction with iOS 11 are huge stepping stones for real productivity when it comes to the tablet as a form factor. As I’ve said before, I use mine to wholly write and publish this blog.
I have been a long-time user of Transmit on iOS, and while it won’t disappear if you already bought it, it’s sad to see development and sales end. I really wish they could have stuck it out longer, as I think iPad is going to have its watershed moment for productivity in the next two years (perhaps with the adoption of an iPhone X-esque edge-to-edge screen, TrueDepth Camera, and Face ID).