Thursday, May 18, 2017

Apple AirPods Review

The AirPods have been a sleeper hit for Apple, reminiscent of their magical and whimsical nature. They also have been out since December 2016, and are still largely in short supply. I’ve had them since day one, and everyone who sees me wearing them always asks me how I like them, so I figured a proper, in-depth review was in order. Read on if you want to know everything about the AirPods and how much I like them.

Read on

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Verge: The 6 big updates coming to Google Home →

Google Home

The Verge put together a great summary of the big updates for Google Home announced today at Google’s I/O developer conference. Google Home was introduced last May, and has been met with decent reviews, but this round of updates sounds pretty great.

Jacob Kastrenakes for The Verge:

Sometimes you actually want to see what’s going on, so Google’s making a TV interface for the Google Home. You’ll soon be able to ask the Home to send information to your TV, from basics like the weather and your calendar, to information it’s looking up like nearby restaurants or YouTube videos you might want to watch.

I’ve thought Siri should be able to do this exact thing, but from any Apple device to the Apple TV. It would be really nice to say “Hey Siri, play some Rush on my Apple TV”, or “play this on my Apple TV”, and have it play whatever you’re watching. Competition for the home is heating up, with Amazon’s Echo Show announcement and rumors of a Siri Speaker announcement next month. This is when the real fun begins for us consumers.

Google Assistant app arrives on iPhone to challenge Siri

Google Assistant announced at 2017 I/O conference

Google brought their Assistant app to the iPhone today, announced at their Google I/O conference for developers. The Assistant is similar to Siri, Alexa, Cortana1 and others, but you are also able to ask it things via textual chat as opposed to just voice. It also can control some smart home devices and talk to other third-party applications.

In my opinion, any third-party digital assistant is dead on arrival on the iPhone, due to the fact that they are locked into applications, and you can’t replace Siri from being the default. After you’ve unlocked your phone and found the app, you might as well have used Siri anyway. Still, it’s fun to play around with, and this is surely a big moment as we move towards more voice-based interactions with our technology.

Google Assistant is now available on the App Store.

  1. Microsoft’s digital assistant. 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Apple Today launches with in-store classes →

Apple Today launches.

Apple Today has launched, spearheaded by Angela Ahrendts, SVP Retail. It’s Apple’s new initiative to bring you into their stores. Classes include photo walks, drawing with iPad Pro, making movies, coding, and more. Apple has always hosted classes at its store, but this program is more encompassing. Visit the link above to find classes happening at an Apple store near you.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Apple updates Operating Systems for multiple devices

Apple has released the following operating system updates today. With exception to the Mac, these are minor fixes. Apple is expected to announce iOS 11 and macOS 10.13 next month at WWDC (Worldwide Developers Conference). These typically are the big updates that drop in the September/October timeframe.

I always update right away to make sure I’m running the latest and greatest versions, but you’ll be okay waiting on updating to these new versions until you have some extra time.

  • iPhone/iPad: iOS 10.3.2
    • Minor fixes.
  • Mac: macOS Sierra 10.12.5
    • Fixes an issue where audio may stutter when played through USB headphones
    • Enhances compatibility of the Mac App Store with future software updates
    • Adds support for media-free installation of Windows 10 Creators Update using Boot Camp
  • Apple Watch: watchOS 3.2.2
    • Minor fixes.
  • Apple TV (latest): tvOS 10.2.1
    • Minor fixes.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Apple publishes how-to videos for shooting on iPhone →

Apple has published 16 video guides on shooting pictures and video on iPhone. Some of the sixteen guides were posted on YouTube, with the rest on a dedicated Apple page. With the exception of Portrait Mode only being available on iPhone 7 Plus, a majority of these tips can benefit any iPhone user. Videos include topics from shooting a great selfie, to capturing a unique angle. I’m glad to see Apple doing more of this kind of thing, as interactions with the iPhone’s interface become a little less obvious over time with new mechanisms like 3D Touch.

Microsoft announces new Fluent Design System

Microsoft unveiled its new Fluent Design System today at its annual Build conference. Fluent Design is Microsoft’s next-generation design language that more closely resembles Apple’s iOS aesthetic and Google’s Material Design. With blurred effects, shadows, transparency, and more, this is more of the UI design trend we’ve become accustomed to in recent years. In fact, Apple is expected to introduce UI changes for iOS 11 at their upcoming Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) on June 5, and Google is working on a new smartphone Operating System called Fuchsia, with a new UI.

Elements of the Fluent Design System will be rolled out in phases among Windows, iOS, and Android apps. Some existing Windows apps have already received elements of the Fluent Design System via update, and Windows itself will be receiving larger elements and more in the [Fall Creators Update later this year][4].

I like what we’ve seen of Fluent Design so far. It hearkens back to the Aero glass days with Windows Vista, but as a more matured and better utilized aesthetic. Looking forward to seeing how beneficial it is on the desktop.

Fluent Design Email

Fluent Design for Email – Credit: Microsoft

[4]: TDU8XttQQkGyim7k.97

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Tesla Reveals Solar Roof Pricing →

Tesla Solar Roof tiles

Tom Randall for Bloomberg:

Tesla will begin with production of two of the four styles it unveiled in October: a smooth glass and a textured glass tile. 1 Roofing a 2,000 square-foot home in New York state—with 40 percent coverage of active solar tiles and battery backup for night-time use—would cost about $50,000 after federal tax credits and generate $64,000 in energy over 30 years, according to Tesla’s website calculator.

If you haven’t heard about Tesla’s Solar Roof (and tiles), you really should check them out. They’re made with tempered glass and claimed to be three times stronger than standard roofing tiles. Tesla continues to be the Apple of the car/energy industry, with this blend of design and engineering.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Net Neutrality and You

Save the Internet

Credit: Joseph Gruber License

You’ve probably heard the term “Net Neutrality” before, but what is it, really? It’s a highly important topic that should be on everyone’s radar, because it affects us all. It should be a non-partisan issue, but President Trump has already repealed FCC privacy rules, in addition to the GOP passing legislation to allow the sale of private Internet data. Now, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently announced plans to roll back regulations that classify Internet Service Providers (ISPs) as utilities. Read on for a breakdown of Net Neutrality and what we can do to fight for it.

Read on

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

CNET: Voice call functionality coming to Echo devices and Alexa app today

Hot on the heels of Amazon’s Echo Show announcement, CNET has confirmed Amazon will be introducing voice calling features for existing Alexa users today.

Existing Echo devices and the Alexa app will be updated to receive this functionality, which has the opportunity to truly change the dynamic in which these smart speakers are used.

This is truly an ‘Amazon’ way to do this, since their Fire Phone was a flop. I expect Apple’s ‘Siri Speaker’ to handle calls as well, but in a much different way. Either way, taking calls from the comfort of the couch without reaching for your phone will be nice.