Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Some of the best links to WWDC 2014 aka OS X Yosemite and iOS 8 news and tips

Already there are many great reports of details not covered in the 2014 WWDC keynote.  Here are some note and links to articles about those details:

  • Mac Stories - More iOS and OS X partnership - Yosemite will let you record video of apps on your iPhone.  This will empower app previews that will be used in the app store.
  • MacRumors - Battery usage per app will be made visible
  • 9to5Mac 
    • self-timer in camera
    • siri integration with Shazam
    • rearrange share sheets - see the site to understand
    • better accessibility zoom features
    • the ability to request the non-mobile version of sites while in Safari
    • auto-delete messages in iMessage

Google News has ZERO news articles about Apple's WWDC 2014.  Interesting.

Monday, June 2, 2014

WWDC 2014 Keynote cheat sheet

First, if you missed it where do you see it?  http://www.apple.com/apple-events/june-2014/

As expected, WWDC is all about developers.  Apple announced OS X 10.10 Yosemite, and IOS 8.

As a user, what does this mean?  A ton.  This really is the biggest release in a long time.  I think it will be a revolutionary experience.  I already enjoy iMessage in Mavericks.  This release goes so far beyond that I think we will be delighted.
  • OS X Yosemite
    • It will be free, and this summer there will be a public beta program.
    • The interface has been greatly refined
    • Dark mode - instead of bright menus and dock, they can be dark
    • Further minimization to window real estate
    • Notification: Day at a glance like in iOS
    • Spotlight
      • Not stuck in the upper right corner anymore
      • Bringing in many more resources, including internet resources for immediate data availability
    • Mail
      • Mail Drop - up to 5GB attachments sent encrypted through iCloud
      • Markup - draw on images right from mail - with smart help
    • Safari
      • A single bar (by default) frees screen real estate. 
      • Sharing, RSS feed reading in the side bar, sharing to people to communicated with most recently
      • Tab view
      • FAST - faster than ever, and more power efficient!  HTML5 premium video means no netflix plugin and 2 extra hours of watching video
    • iCloud Drive
  • iOS 8 will not run on iPhone 4 - iPhone 4S is the minimum.
    • Smart notifications let you stay in context/in app while responding to notifications from: texts, email, calendar, reminders, and even messages from apps!
    • SMS
      • recent and favorite contacts are easy to select via the multitasking interface
    • Mail
      • easy marking as unread and flagging
      • more recognition of data in emails for other uses, such as to add to calendar
    • Safari
      • Tab view is for iPad also
    • Keyboard
      • context smart word suggestions, learning about your context and tone!
      • 3rd party keyboards are now possible!
    • Family Sharing
      • Now an official way to set up sharing as long as we use the same credit card.  
      • Approval of purchases being made on another iPhone!
      • different iCloud accounts, and yet find family members anyway.
    • Health app
      • integrate data into one dashboard
      • emergency card for the lock screen
      • control what data to share with each app
      • healthkit - enable sharing data with your doctor, or other apps
    • Spotlight
      • It searches more resources and understands context and location
      • can search stores
      • also works in Safari
  • There is huge integration between devices - continuity.  Why did Microsoft never do this?
    • Air Drop - OS X and iOS can share.
    • Handoff - pick up where you left off!  This is amazing.  Works either way - lets you pick up finishing an email, or a pages document, and more.
    • Instant Hotspot - super easy to configure, works over the network! 
    • SMS - sent SMS (non-imessage) texts from iMessage!
      • Add/remove people from conversations, name groups to communicate with, get out of conversations, silence conversations
      • Smart voice messaging, listen and respond with the phone to your face
      • share location information as part of the conversation
      • see all attachments in a conversation
      • send many photos and videos at the same time
    • Phone - your computer can, partnering with your iPhone, accept and make calls!
    • Photos
      • every photo protected and available in original format via the iCloud Photo Library (on devices or on the web).
      • new affordable storage options to put your whole library in the cloud without taking up all the room on your devices.
      • Organization bits (moments, collections, years, favorites, albums) available on all platforms
      • edits available on every device
      • search and smart suggestions
      • smart composition and photo editing tools
      • Time-lapse videos!
As a developer, what does this mean?

  • Metal - supposed to be 10x better than OpenGL
  • Tools:
    • lots of data sharing options
    • PhotoKit and Camera API - embed photo editing tools directly into the photos app, and take photos with precise control over the camera
    • add custom actions, for example a bing capability to translate a webpage!  Weird and wow.
    • Apps can target the notification center now
    • Developers can make keyboards
    • Access to TouchID
    • HomeKit - central control of supported devices (with Siri support)
    • CloudKit - develop cloud apps without other infrastructure ?!?  Wow.
    • SprteKit (2D), SceneKit (3D)
  • Xcode brings: A new programming language - Swift for iOS (I really feel I have heard of this before)
    • Very efficient (faster than C), modern
    • Same compiler, so can live with objective-C programs
    • Playgrounds - interesting real-time exploration of variables, their values, and their effect on the app
Whew.  So much!  What do you think?  I think with these new features now, and with new hardware this fall, Apple will have a blockbuster year.  I do not think any other company can match this feature set.  It will likely drive a virtuous feedback loop inciting more mac purchases from iPhone users and more iPhone purchases from mac users.

Speculation before the June 2014 WWDC

I am reading much speculation about many things Apple.  This comes in about 3 flavors at the moment:

  • What is Apple going to do with the Beats acquisitions?
  • What new products will be announced when, and which will be announced at WWDC?
    • new iMacs
    • iPhone 6
    • iOS 8, fitness and health monitoring
    • iWatch
    • mobile payments
    • Where and how will sapphire be used?  How about liquid metal?  Will they be used together?
  • What is the recently started Apple home integration product set going to offer us?

With the Beats acquisitions (the hardware and the service) I do not understand the value.  I do not think Apple will lose on the deal,  but I do not see leverage for something huge.  I hope and trust that Tim Cook knows what he is doing.

New products... Apple executives have been making promises.  Tim Cook talks of multiple new product categories.  Eddie Cue says Apple has the best product pipeline in 25 years.  What is not enough a cause of speculation in my opinion is the new head of apple retail, Angela Ahrendts.

Apple has new materials that are likely ready or almost ready for use in products that no other company can copy.  This is what Apple does.

Now for prognostication:
WWDC is for developers, not new hardware announcements.  iOS8 and OS X 10.10 will be announced.  APIs for home integration and a framework (and APIs) for health and fitness monitoring will be announced.  I think the rest of new product categories will wait until later.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

What is the difference between internet radio vs "streaming services"?

I have been using Pandora and iTunes Radio, and have heard about Spotify.  Apple's soon-to-be completed purchase of Beats Music intensified my interest in understanding and communicating the difference.

Pandora and iTunes Radio enable users to create the equivalent of a radio station based on a song or artist.  With both, listen to ads or pay to listen ad-free.  This means that a playlist is made for users.

Spotify enables users to play specific desired songs at will, in playlists.  The users make the playlists.

Beats music is like a modification of Spotify, with playlists to let users explore and get familiar with musicians that are all built by humans.

I buy most songs I want, and make my own playlists.  However, services are great ways to explore music.

Time magazine has a decent article describing the features of many online music services.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Apple and Apple TV - is a revolution possible?

The future of Apple TV... This is a defining moment for the future of Apple and Steve Cook.  There is absolutely HUGE excitement about the idea of a truly revolutionary TV experience.  But why?

I look at Tivo.  Tivo was so revolutionary, when compared to a VHS recorder.  VHS.  VHS is a relic, and that is what I have to compare to Tivo.  They innovated, and stopped, from my perspective.  We have the experience that could be described by some as exactly the same decade later.  What are my chief Tivo complaints?

  • The remote.  I can no longer control volume - the volume controls are worn out!  I keep buying replacement remotes...
  • Why does it seem to take 50 clicks to get to content?
  • Skipping commercials is... still too hard.  And commercials are too loud!
  • Watching recorded content is too limited.  Why can't I watch on my computer or iPhone or iPad and have it extraordinarily easy to navigate?
  • It costs a lot for what I get.
What complaints do I have about the Apple TV?
  • Why can't I control volume?
  • Why can't I search other content sources - like netflix?
  • I have to have an iTunes server in my home to get the most from Apple TV.  This is a barrier to many new users.
  • Why does it take so many clicks to go from my TV show playlist to get to a movie, and back again?
  • Why do I still end up with letterboxed HD content on my HD TV through my Apple TV?
So what would make for a revolutionary apple TV to me?  Some comments assume that the next version would have a screen or additional control over an attached TV.
  • iTunes Match for all media - audio books, movies, tv shows, and even books.  This would make a need for an iTunes server gone - let Apple run the iTunes server!  I could sync all media to my iOS devices without plugging into a computer.
  • Help us, let us control the volume.  If Apple controlled the TV, the entire TV, this could be done even if I use a FireTV, Roku, Tivo, over the air digital TV, or a cable/satellite TV box.  There seems to be zero will or interest in the TV industry at fixing this very broken feature.
    • do that from my computer, iPhone, or iPad - then my remotes to change the volume do not always eventually break!
    • set minimum/maximum volumes
    • reduce dynamic range for TV commercials - I'd love it if a loud commercial was nearly muted!  A button and/or learning capability using my input to help improve this would be welcome; consumers are ready to help.
    • automatic reduction of dynamic range for movies - all movies these days seem to have quiet whispering moments you cannot hear, and ear-crushing loud times that wake the whole house during late-night movie watching by other family members.  The ability to adjust the range acceptable for me would be helpful.
    • let me use headphones in my iOS device to listen to my video on my TV, and mute my TV if I want.  How would I use this?  When I go for a snack or break and other TV watchers do not want to pause, I can continue to participate!  Also, I can listen and mute the TV and let the room be silent for others.
    • If I could put a microphone in my baby's or child's room to prevent the volume in my room from getting loud in the child's room - that could be awesome!
    • Hooking in a baby monitor to AppleTV could be awesome.
  • Search/Navigation
    • Give me the equivalent of iOS multitasking - a home button to switch from one content piece to another, so when I stop watching a TV series in the middle to watch a movie, it is only a click or two to get my place back.  If this could work across content sources, it would be best.  Imagine clean navigation directly from a specific TV series in netflix, to a movie in netflix, to a TV series in iTunes
    • Let me search and find content across different providers.  Netflix search is ok and all, but it is just not that useful at this point.
    • OK, let me search at all!  When I am browsing movies, I need the option to search by name (other than by scrolling through the list)
    • Voice search could be awesome.  The concept of voice search through the remote might work.
    • Give me a way or ways to skip ahead 15 seconds or a minute (and back).
  • Black screen
    • The ability to have a truly black screen with zero light but letting me continue to listen could be very powerful for those who listen to TV as they go to sleep.
  • Gaming - of course, there have been many rumors that Apple TV will support games in the future.  I am interested to see what happens in this space.   Something more than airplay of iOS gams to Apple TV could be welcome.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

My favorite Apple reporter - Daniel Eran Dilger

I admit that I had all but given up hope that news reporting about Apple would forever be completely anti-Apple.  With a bias so clear and strong, ignoring so many facts, I could not understand how the industry could stand.

Apple re-invigorated the tech industry and much of the media industry.  Without Apple, Android would not be what it is today.  Without Apple, Samsung has admitted that it would not be what it is today.  Without Apple, cellular companies around the world would not be where they are at with technology and sales.  And music sales would not be what they are.  Apple has created whole new industries too.  App sales are one example.  Alternative TV content distribution boxes are another.

The only consistent reporter and editorial author with a view that looks to examine facts others ignore or distort is Daniel Eran Dilger.  He authors numerous lengthy pieces with insight and analysis into all things Apple.   I want to credit Phillip Elmer-DeWitt of Fortune's Apple 2.0 who has consistently reported on Mr. Dilger's editorials.

Mr. Dilger writes for http://appleinsider.com/,  also has an online magazine, http://www.roughlydrafted.com.  He has also been a frequent guest on http://www.technightowl.com.

Searching AppleInsider for Daniel's articles, well, it kind of sucks today.  Many other authors quote him, leading to articles not by Mr. Dilger.  Here is a short list of some of the articles that seemed to me to be pretty unique, with my naming for these articles:

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Apple websites, blogs, and news sites I use

I looked back on my pre-iPhone days to a Treo650 blog I once ran.  I found a very useful blog listing the many Palm/Treo websites I used frequently.  It is high time to list some sites I use with frequency now:
Apple Insider -- My favorite Apple reporter, Daniel Eran Dilger, is a regular.
ArsTechnica Apple - sometimes long insightful articles
CNN Money AKA Fortune Apple 2.0 - Phillip Elmer-DeWitt
Daring Fireball -- John Gruber - There is also a Podcast "The Talk Show With John Gruber"
GigaOM Apple -- Om Malik has put together a great team.
Mac Observer -- John Martellaro
Mac Stories -- Interesting thoughtful articles
Macworld -- Kirk McElhern, iTunes Guy
slashdot Apple
Taste of Apple Tech
TidBITS -- Managing Editor John Centers
TechNightOwl - Gene Steinberg's "PC news" program.
  • I now mostly just get the audio podcast every week.
  • Not strictly about Apple, but often is very Apple focused.
Sites I'm looking into:
iMore -- Managing Editor Peter Cohen
TĂșaw -- has a daily podcast and a weekly podcast I'm checking out also.
ZDNet Apple
CNET Apple

Do you have a favorite Apple website or podcast?  Do you have further comments about these sites?  Leave a comment.