Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Bullish on iPad

Photo Credit: Livin4wheel

Tim Cook, talking about iPad on the July 2015 earnings call:

I am still bullish on iPad…I think iPad upgrade cycle will eventually occur. We’re 6X greater in usage than nearest closest rival. It’s a fantastic product. I see a lot of runway.
Source.

iPad was introduced in 2010 by Steve Jobs as a growing market need for a post-Netbook device (remember those?). It was the first truly mainstream tablet, and came at a surprisingly low price (for Apple). During its introduction keynote, this below slide was poised to position the iPad between use cases for a laptop and a phone.

Read on

The best of Apple's WWDC 2017 announcements

Amazing and inspiring words from the world’s biggest company. I usually can remember all the top features after an Apple keynote, but this one was SO packed, I had to go back and check things.

Apple was flying through their keynote at a blistering pace, and needingly so. They presented a ton of new features (and new hardware) across their line. Here is the top stuff that caught my attention. You can also replay the keynote.

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Planet of the Apps debuts tonight

Apple has long been promising additional self-produced content for Apple Music subscribers. They first purchased James Corden’s ‘Carpool Karaoke’ series in July of last year and have been adapting it for Apple Music, but its release has been delayed until August 8, 2017.

By means of the above delay, ‘Planet of the Apps’ will now debut first (tonight in fact). Think ‘Shark Tank’ meets apps. It features four pop culture judges listening to app pitches from developers, with the final ones receiving up to $10 million in funding. You can also find the apps on the show in the App Store after each episode.

I don’t know about this. ‘Carpool Karaoke’ is one thing, but the trailer for ‘Planet of the Apps’ is so cringe-inducing to me. Apple is definitely supportive of developers, so maybe this is a way to showcase their great work to the masses, whom are not technically inclined? Apple has been chomping at the bit to get into content creation, but I’m not sure they chose the right show to launch with. Business Insider ran a piece in February with negative feedback on the trailer from many developers.

Anyway, if you’re an Apple Music subscriber you can watch the debut tonight at 9pm Pacific in the Music app. This first episode will also be available for free on iTunes.

Monday, June 5, 2017

WWDC 2017 starts in about an hour

From your iOS or Mac device

From Apple TV

  • Download the Apple Events app.

On Windows

Or

  • Download VLC
  • Open VLC and go to Media> Open Network Stream and paste in this link: http://appleliveevents-i.akamaihd.net/hls/live/222436-b/17qopibbefvoiuhbsefvbsefvopihb06/master/4500/4500.m3u8?t=YWxpc2FtaXg=

You’ll also be able to read my WWDC analysis on all the announcements later this afternoon.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

WWDC 2017 Expectations

Next week, Apple is holding its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC 2017) in San Jose, CA and we don’t know much, as the usual rumor mill has been fairly quiet. John Gruber put it best yesterday when he wrote about the lack of scoops and Tim Cook’s famous “doubling-down on secrecy” comment.

WWDC is a developer event at heart, but Apple has been known to make consumer-facing announcements there as well, since media coverage will be high. Apple is set to give the opening keynote at 10AM Pacific on June 5, and you can watch it here.

Typically, hardware-specific announcements are kept to a minimum, but we may be in for a a few surprises this year. Either way, here’s what I think we can expect (and not expect).

Read on

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Siri Smart Speaker reportedly enters manufacturing

Hot on the heels of the recently-announced Amazon Echo Show and Essential Home, Bloomberg is reporting the rumored Apple “Siri-Speaker” has entered production. This comes ahead of Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) next week, where the device is expected to be announced.

I can’t wait to see what Apple does in this arena, because they’ll include features nobody else has thought of yet. They did it with other newer markets, such as Apple Watch and AirPods. Also, because I’m looking forward to the native HomeKit integration with my smart devices. Right now, I’m using an Echo Dot and love it, so next week should be exciting.

Here are my previous thoughts on how Apple can differentiate its Smart Speaker from the rest.

On a related note, I’m also working on a detailed write-up of my Smart Home configuration, so look for that coming soon.

More info on Essential Phone and Home

Andy Rubin took the stage last night at Walt Mossberg’s Code Conference to talk more about the Essential Phone and Home devices announced yesterday. Here’s the latest.

Essential Phone

Essential Home

Andy wants customers to be able to run whatever virtual assistant they want on the Home (i.e. Siri, Alexa, or Google Assistant).

He goes on to say:

All of these [companies] have ecosystem envy and want to create their own ecosystem. But consumers don’t want just Samsung stuff in their house. They want diversity.

This is a novel idea on the Smart Speaker concept, allowing for maximum compatibility with consumer devices. That said, I seriously doubt Google and Apple would go for it. Google makes its money on search and user data, and I don’t think they can afford to not have full control over that experience. Apple is renowned for being secretive, isolated, and integrated with their software and hardware. Don’t hold your breath for Siri on anything without an Apple logo. Amazon has already licensed out the Alexa voice service, so it seems like less of an issue there.

He also mentions that the new Ambient OS run by the Home will follow a similar development and deployment process as Android. This has led to fragmentation as new versions of Android become available, it is up to the phone manufacturers to implement them, which they have historically been slow to do. Andy says they have a plan to prevent this with Ambient.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Thoughts on new Essential Phone and Home products

As hinted at last week, Andy Rubin’s new startup (Essential) has announced [Essential Phone](https://www.essential.com/# introduction) and [Essential Home](https://www.essential.com/home# introduction) (Amazon Echo/Google Home competitor).

Essential Phone: In a Nutshell

  • Runs Android
  • Body is made of titanium, with a ceramic back.
  • Colors: Black Moon, Stellar Grey, Pure White, and Ocean Depths
  • 128GB of Storage, 4GB of RAM
  • Full Display (takes up most of the front of the phone).
  • Cameras
    • Rear: 13 megapixels, True monochrome mode, 4K video
    • Front: 8 megapixels, 4K video
  • USB-C port for charging and audio (phone comes with a USB-C to headphone jack adapter).
  • No headphone jack.
  • Accessories snap on to the rear corner of the phone via magnetic pogo pins.
    • The first of these accessories is a 360 degree camera ($50 with the phone or $199 by itself).
    • Another accessory announced is a docking station the phone simply rests on to charge.
  • Price: $699 (US only)

The Essential Phone looks pretty, and definitely has a gorgeous display, which is on par with what we’ll see with the upcoming iPhone 8 (latest mock up based on leaks below). The use of titanium and ceramic is really cool, given how strong these materials are. It has been rumored that Apple is testing out ceramic for the iPhone, and they released their first product with ceramic last year (Apple Watch Edition).

Latest mockup of iPhone 8 based on leaks.

128GB of storage should be good for most people, but 4GB of RAM in an Android phone is a little measly.

I’m wondering how well accessories will hold to the magnetic back, or how easily they can be knocked off the phone. Essential’s website says this about it:

Don’t you hate it when you have to buy new dongles, chargers, and accessories every time your phone is upgraded? We do too. So we decided to make this a thing of the past. The magnetic connector with wireless data transfer keeps your phone cord-free, future-proof, and always up-to-date.

I have a couple issues with this. First, Essential provides a USB-C to headphone jack dongle in the box. Sure, you don’t have to buy it separately, but they should own their design choice for not including a headphone jack in the phone instead of being hypocritical for embracing a natural progression of the market (see iPhone 7 and Galaxy S8).

Second, the thought of the magnetic connector keeping your phone future-proof and up-to-date is just BS. It echoes back to the reign of PCs, when eMachine computers would come with those horrid stickers proclaiming “This computer is never obsolete”. You will still have to replace your phone every 1-2 years to get the latest and greatest, not simply snap on accessories for the foreseeable future.


eMachines’s laughable “never obsolete” sticker.

That said, any competition is good for the industry and consumers. Fresh ideas are always welcome and it is clear Andy Rubin has a vision for Essential.

You can reserve an Essential Phone today, but there’s currently no delivery date specified.

Essential Home

Essential Home: In a Nutshell

  • Runs a new OS named Ambient
  • Round touchscreen
  • Covers the basics like: playin music, setting timers, answering questions, and home automation control
  • Proactively alerts you for calendar meetings or events

I’m loving the competition that is heating up in this market. Amazon is the leader by far, but Apple is rumored to be announcing a Siri Smart Speaker at WWDC next week, and Google Home is going to be receiving major updates soon.

Essential Home looks pretty cool. It has a touchscreen like the newly announced Amazon Echo Show. Unlike the Show, however, Essential Home does not appear to have a built-in camera for video calling. I like the first looks we’ve seen of the interface, but more information is needed to really get an idea of how Essential will position itself in this market. They can definitely make a larger impact here than with the Phone.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Walt Mossberg's last column: The Disappearing Computer →

Walt Mossberg, legendary tech columnist, has written his last article. Walt is The Godfather of personal technology columns, since his first in the Wall Street Journal in October of 1991. This last column describes what he sees coming in the next 10-20 years, and how amazing it’s going to be.

Walt will definitely be missed, but I’m sure we’ll still see him around now and then.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Gaddgict JSON Feed (Updated 5.27)

Many know what an RSS feed is, or have at least seen the icon before on a website. It offers a way for you to subscribe to a site’s posts via a third-party reader application. Gaddgict’s RSS feed can be found at https://gaddgict.com/feed/rss. RSS and Atom feeds have been the longtime-standard when it comes to aggregating posts.

Last week, I learned of a new feed spec called JSON Feed, thanks to John Gruber over at Daring Fireball. After checking it out, I couldn’t help myself and knew I was in for a fun little project. JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) itself is a simple way to organize data that can be easily read by applications. It’s lightweight, easy to read, understand, and put together. Popular feed readers have already started adopting JSON Feed (like NewsBlur), even though it’s in its infancy. Maxime Vaillancourt put together the first JSON Feed Viewer at https://json-feed-viewer.herokuapp.com, with a steadily-growing list of showcased feeds (you’ll find Gaddgict’s on there).

The direct link to Gaddgict’s JSON feed is https://gaddgict.com/feed/json. Now, for all the technical details behind how I implemented it…

Read on