May 25, 2017

This is my last weekly column for The Verge and Recode — the last weekly column I plan to write anywhere. I’ve been doing these almost every week since 1991, starting at The Wall Street Journal, and during that time, I’ve been fortunate enough to get to know the makers of the tech revolution, and to ruminate — and sometimes to fulminate — about their creations.

Cheers, Walt!

Free tickets for my WWDC party are now available

I’m very happy to announce that free tickets for my WWDC party are now available. With the generous help of our sponsors iMore, PleyMart.com, MacPaw, and Pixelmator, this year’s party is going to be bigger than ever!

The party will be held on June 5, 2017 from 8:00pm – 12:00am at the National Civic Center in San Jose, California. It’s directly across the street from WWDC.

Dubbed the Beard Bash (because I have a big beard, and no, you don’t have to have one to attend), this party is a way to say thanks for all the great work developers, designers, and others in this industry do every day. This is an all ages event, so anyone can attend.

We will have a live band called The Department of Rock playing throughout the night.

Thanks to our sponsors, we will provide free beer and wine for all attendees of legal drinking age. You will need to show ID in order to get a wrist band when you enter the venue. Other beverages will be available to purchase.

When you register for a ticket, you will receive an email confirmation with your RSVP. You must bring that to the party so it can be scanned before you enter. Each ticket allows one person to enter. For your convenience, there is a link in the confirmation email to add your RSVP to your Apple Wallet.

I have posted an FAQ about the party if you have questions.

I hope you enjoy the party—go get your ticket!

Sir Jony succeeds Sir James Dyson OM, Provost of the College (2011–17), as this key honorary role is renamed. The Chancellor is head of the College, presiding over meetings of the Court, a member of its governing body, Council, and conferring degrees at Convocation. Baroness Gail Rebuck remains Chair of Council and becomes Pro-Chancellor of the university. The posts of Chancellor and Pro-Chancellor are non-salaried.

Congrats, Jony.

Nearly a quarter of American adults sold or traded in a vehicle in the last 12 months, according to a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll published on Thursday, with most getting another car. But 9 percent of that group turned to ride services like Lyft Inc and Uber Technologies Inc [UBER.UL] as their main way to get around.

About the same percentages said they planned to dispose of cars and turn to ride services in the upcoming 12 months.

This makes a lot of sense in urban areas and for people that don’t like to drive. I enjoy driving, so I wouldn’t do that, but it seems to be a growing trend.

MacRumors:

In a new study comparing the accuracy of seven different fitness trackers, the Apple Watch was found to have the lowest margin of error when measuring heart rate, beating the Basis Peak, Fitbit Surge, Microsoft Band, Mio Alpha 2, PulseOn, and Samsung Gear S2.

Researchers set out to determine the accuracy of wrist-worn devices at measuring both heart rate and energy expenditure, aka calories burned via physical activity. 60 volunteers participated, including 29 males and 31 females, each of whom wore several fitness trackers and completed activities like cycling, running, and walking.

If these numbers are important to you (and they are for a lot of people), it’s good to know the Apple Watch comes out ahead.

Macworld:

Last week at the Google I/O developer conference, Google announced a raft of forthcoming additions to its Google Photos service. Since Google Photos runs on iOS and in any web browser, it’s a serious photo-storage option for Mac, iPhone, and iPad users—and in many ways, it’s way ahead of Apple’s Photos apps and iCloud Photo Library service.

Then again, WWDC—Apple’s own developer conference—is in just two weeks. It’s an opportunity for Apple to declare where it’s taking Photos and iCloud Photo Library next. In the meantime, though, it’s worth pointing out where Google Photos is beating Apple’s offerings, and where Apple’s ahead—and how WWDC could be poised to change both sides of the equation.

I don’t use either to manage my photos. Any Loopers want to weigh in on their particular pros and cons?

The Sweet Setup:

You don’t have to wear a tin foil hat to understand the benefit of removing GPS info from your photos. In this workflow post, we’ll show you how to remove this metadata from your photos on both your Mac and iOS devices.

Removing GPS data on your Mac is simple to do with the built-in Preview app. You can also remove GPS info from photos on your iOS device, but you’ll need a third-party app in order to do so.

My life is an open book so I don’t care about the GPS data on my photos but many people do have legitimate concerns. These are easy steps to take.

May 24, 2017

The Dalrymple Report: With guest James Dempsey

James Dempsey joins me this week to talk about his event happening during the week of WWDC. James shares some stories about his time attending WWDC, from singing his first song on stage during the conference, to what it’s like being a developer and attending WWDC.

Links:

Show Info / Tickets

James Dempsey and the Breakpoints Album

Subscribe to this podcast

Petapixel:

Cone is a beautifully designed iOS app that uses the phone’s camera to pick Pantone colors from the world around you.

The $2.49 app samples colors along with their Pantone name in real-time. Cone is a very handy way to create satisfying color palettes from real life scenes, and it also provides the hex color values for use in web or graphic design.

I don’t know that I have a use for this app but it’s a very clever implementation.

Chaos Computer Club blog:

Biometric authentication systems – again – don’t deliver on their security promise: The iris recognition system of the new Samsung Galaxy S8 was successfully defeated by hackers of the Chaos Computer Club (CCC). A video demonstrates how the simple technique works.

The video is embedded below (with a German voiceover). This seems incredibly easy to replicate. Did Samsung even try to break their own iris recognition system?

Sigh. Oh, Samsung. [H/T Robert Davey]

The new Microsoft Surface Pro: What that $799 price really means

Microsoft just rolled out the latest and greatest version of its Surface tablet/laptop hybrid, branded as the Surface Pro. Here’s a link to the official Surface Pro product page.

Much has been made about the Surface Pro’s price of $799. But what do you get for your money?

The $799 Surface Pro ships with:

  • Intel® Core™ m3 processor
  • 128GB SSD
  • 4GB RAM
  • Intel® HD Graphics 615

That’s a pretty bare-bones machine. Apple’s cheapest machine (the $999 MacBook Air) comes with 8GB of RAM. I can’t imagine using a modern version of Windows or macOS with less than 8GB. Let’s tweak that so we can compare apples with Apples.

Bumping the Surface Pro to a minimally livable (in my opinion) 8GB brings the price to $1299. There’s just no cheaper way to get to 8GB without bumping the processor up to the Intel® Core™ i5, which is the same processor in the $999 MacBook Air. To be fair, these are different processor and screen generations, but the price bump from $799 to $1299 to get to 8GB is an important factor.

If you are considering buying a Surface Pro, take a few minutes to step through the configurations and compare the specs with the MacBook Air and 13″ MacBook Pro. And keep in mind the inherent differences between Windows and macOS.

Apple press release:

Apple today launched a new app development curriculum designed for students who want to pursue careers in the fast-growing app economy. The curriculum is available as a free download today from Apple’s iBooks Store.

App Development with Swift is a full-year course designed by Apple engineers and educators to teach students elements of app design using Swift, one of the world’s most popular programming languages. Students will learn to code and design fully functional apps, gaining critical job skills in software development and information technology.

Here’s a link to Apple’s Everyone Can Code page.

And here’s a link to the ECC curriculum in iTunes.

Jordan Kahn, 9to5Mac:

Apple’s head of Worldwide Human Resources Denise Young Smith will now run diversity programs for the company under a newly created VP position, according to sources familiar with the move. The executive shuffle will see the creation of a new VP role for Apple’s Inclusion and Diversity team with Smith reporting directly to CEO Tim Cook. Sources say Smith has long had a passion for diversity initiatives at the company and the newly created position reflects an increased focus on the company’s efforts.

And:

Smith has been at Apple for over 20 years and was first promoted to VP of worldwide HR back in 2014 from her previous role as head of HR for just Apple’s retail stores, a role that Steve Jobs handpicked her for during the early days of Apple’s retail efforts.

Hodinkee:

Yes, this is an hourglass. You turn it over and it measures out 10 minutes as the particles inside run through the small hole in the center of the glass. But that’s where the similarities with hourglasses you know end. It’s hard to think of a simple object hiding more complexity than this one.

You start off thinking, “Well, this is stupid. It’s just an hourglass.” You read more and think, “Kinda cool design though.” Then you get to the price and think, “There are 100 people out there with more money than sense….”

May 23, 2017

AgileBits:

Travel Mode is a new feature we’re making available to everyone with a 1Password membership. It protects your 1Password data from unwarranted searches when you travel. When you turn on Travel Mode, every vault will be removed from your devices except for the ones marked “safe for travel.” All it takes is a single click to travel with confidence.

I think we’ll see more companies implement these kinds of security features in their apps.

The Verge:

The steady rise of the company’s profile is proof that it’s possible to meet one very specific consumer need and ride that wave as it continues to ripple out to other markets. A majority of Anker’s sales come from cables and wall chargers, and it’s now moving into the smart home and auto market — anywhere a plug and a cable can solve a problem.

Yang saw a desire for a better type of accessory — one that wouldn’t cost as much as a replacement straight from the original manufacturer, but that would be of a high enough quality to earn consumers’ trust.

I have a couple of Anker cables and battery packs. I think they are very good quality and certainly cheaper than the ones I’ve bought from Apple.

Apple has settled a patent dispute with Finnish telecom equipment maker Nokia and agreed to buy more of its network products and services, sending Nokia shares up 7 percent.

I’m surprised this was settled so quickly.

“Today at Apple”

Looks like fun.

Spotify:

If you’ve never tried Spotify Premium, you can get three months for just $1 for a limited time. That’s three months of no ads, better sound quality, offline listening, and full mobile access.

The usual caveats apply: Only for US-based customers and only for those who have never signed up before.

Apple Watch versus GPS reference clock

Watch the video embedded below on a big screen if you can, so you can really see the movement of the Apple Watch second hand. Not sure I’d expect anything different, but there is something quite satisfying watching the digital and analog line up so precisely.

[H/T Mac Kung Fu]

Learn how to draw a bunch of cool icons. Terrific post from Marc Edwards. Have an icon you are struggling to recreate? Ping Marc on Twitter.

Ben Lovejoy, 9to5Mac:

Smart bulbs from the market leader Philips start at $25 per bulb for white and $50 for color, a price that soon adds up if you’re looking to fit out your entire home.

But all that is set to change in the summer as Ikea has announced that its smart lighting system will be HomeKit-compatible as of the summer. Ikea’s smart bulbs start at just $11.99.

And:

The existing product line is limited to white bulbs, but once you’ve bought the gateway for $79.99 (which includes two bulbs), you can add smart bulbs at prices ranging from $11.99 for a 1000-lumen E28 bulb, through $14.99 for a 400-lumen E12, $17.99 for a 980-lumen E27 to a $19.99 G10 spotlight. Dimmers and motion sensors are also available at similarly affordable pricing.

Ikea getting in the game brings down prices, legitimizes the sector, and will help popularize the concept of adding smart bulbs to your home.

Follow the link, check out the picture. If you really want to make a statement, you can buy matching footwear. Natch’.

Washington Business Journal:

Apple representatives say their plans for the historic Carnegie Library will respect and improve the building’s historic architecture.

“Some of you may say ‘Apple! I don’t want to see another glass box. We had enough of that with the Spy Museum,'” Apple development lead Michael Brown said of the International Spy Museum’s failed 2014 plan for the Carnegie Library.

And:

Brown, along with reps from architect Beyer Blinder Belle, gave a closer glimpse at Apple’s plans during a National Capital Planning Commission historic preservation meeting last week. Apple has a letter of intent with Events D.C., the District’s sports and convention arm that runs the building, to operate a global flagship store in the 63,000-square-foot building. Apple would take up most of the circa-1903 building, sharing space with the Historical Society of Washington and Events D.C.

I do find it interesting that Apple will be sharing this space. Will the other groups have separate entrances? Will there be any actual shared space?

No matter, Apple’s plans will have to pass muster with the Washington D.C.’s strict Historic Preservation Review Board. When complete, this is going to be a destination Apple Store.

Juli Clover, MacRumors:

For the last few weeks, Apple has been testing its autonomous driving software in three Lexus RX450h SUVs, which have been photographed around the San Francisco Bay Area. This morning, MacRumors reader Andrew was able to capture some video of one of the SUVs, giving us our closest look yet at the vehicles Apple is using to test its system.

Not sure how much we can draw from this. I think it’d be more interesting to get a closeup look at the camera rigging and the computers inside the car. I suspect we’ll eventually have WWDC sessions that focus on self-driving car APIs.

May 22, 2017

One of my favorite Apple Music stations

Apple Music has some great built-in stations, but one of my favorites is the Rock Workout station. It’s all upbeat music across many generations of rock, which means you can listen without losing that high-tempo groove. I use it on my walk and when I’m driving and just need some great punchy Rock.

This is a really good page. It’s not a lot of specs and things people don’t necessarily care about, just some good fun.

Letter Opener for macOS

Working together with Windows users shouldn’t be problematic at all. Still, some email messages can not be natively read by the Mac and are packed into Winmail.dat or MSG files that have to be extracted and displayed somehow. Letter Opener for macOS does that with a simple double-click!

Letter Opener for macOS Mail

The plugin to stop the Winmail.dat file flood for good.

If Winmail.dat files are a reoccurring problem, Letter Opener for macOS Mail is the solution. Installed into Mail it opens and displays the files directly inside Apples Mail application, so the user can forget about Winmail.dat files entirely.

Use coupon code ROCKET88 for 30% off Letter Opener for macOS Mail.

A small Boston company, founded by the inventor of a popular corporate encryption technology called RSA SecurID, sued Apple and Visa on Sunday, arguing that the Apple Pay digital payment technology violates its patents.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday tightened rules for where patent lawsuits can be filed in a decision that may make it harder for so-called patent “trolls” to launch sometimes dodgy patent cases in friendly courts, a major irritant for high-tech giants like Apple and Alphabet Inc’s Google.

Anything that gets rid of patent trolls is a good thing, but I’m sure the trolls will try to incorporate in East Texas, where many of the patent cases currently take place.

Update: I misread the ruling. Lawsuits will have to be filed in the jurisdiction of the defendant, which should definitely deal a huge blow to patent trolls.