March 27, 2015

How far would you have to travel to reach the Earth’s core? And what would you see along the way? Discover what lies beneath…

The BBC did a great job with this.

Jack White And Robert Plant perform “The Lemon Song”

This is just great.

Michael Mulvey on Samsung’s decision to price its Galaxy S6 higher than the iPhone 6 in the UK:

Premium pricing only works if your brand is perceived at premium and this perception is controlled by people who buy your products, not the company making them.

That pretty much sums up my thoughts. Does anyone see Samsung as anything other than a bunch of copying bastards?

In a sign of how important Beats is in reshaping Apple’s digital music, the company has made a musician a point man for overhauling the iPhone’s music app to include the streaming music service, as opposed to an engineer. Trent Reznor, the Nine Inch Nails frontman who was the chief creative officer for Beats, is playing a major role in redesigning the music app, according to two Apple employees familiar with the product, who spoke on the condition they not be named because the plans are private.

I’ll be honest—I love Apple, but they really missed the boat on the whole streaming music market. iTunes Radio is hit or miss at best.

Thanks to IK Multimedia for sponsoring The Loop with iRig 2, a guitar interface I’m using all the time. Now everyone can plug in their guitar, bass or other instrument and enjoy killer tone on their iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac or Android device — with the release of iRig 2, the world’s most popular guitar interface is now better than ever before. Revolutionize the way you make your music while on the go!

A digital rig with physical presence

With iRig 2, you’ll be able to enjoy IK’s full range of AmpliTube apps (the #1 app for guitar and bass players). It’s ready to go right out of the box. It comes with a powerful cross-platform suite of apps and software that includes free versions of AmpliTube for iOS, Android and Mac/PC. To use, just download your preferred version of AmpliTube for iOS from the App Store or for Android from the Google Play Store or from Samsung GALAXY Apps. Then plug your guitar or bass into iRig 2, plug your amplifier or headphones into your device and launch the app.

iRig 2 includes:

  • 1/4” instrument input for use with guitar, bass and other line level instruments
  • 1/4” amplifier output for use with an external amplifier without an adaptor
  • 1/8” TRRS output for use with iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac and Android
  • 1/8” headphone output
  • Compact and lightweight design
  • Selectable dual-mode switch: FX and THRU
  • Input gain thumbwheel for easy signal control
  • Comes with microphone stand Velcro strip
  • Comes with AmpliTube FREE and a full suite of powerful IK applications and software

Jim’s Note: I am a longtime user of IK Multimedia’s hardware and software. In fact, I have iRig 2 and I’m a big fan.

Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 3.08.14 PM

Uproxx:

Twenty years later, though, you can mention NewsRadio in a conversation about the best shows in TV history and faces light up. But we wanted to go straight to the heart of the WYNX studio, so we talked to some of the show’s stars — Dave Foley, Stephen Root, Maura Tierney and Khandi Alexander — as well as writers Brad Isaacs and Joe Furey, to find out how they feel about this series two decades later.

It really was an amazingly good television show.

The latest issue of The Loop Magazine is available on the App Store for both iPhone and iPad. I took a different approach with this issue, focusing entirely on Apple’s forthcoming Apple Watch. You can download the app free and preview each of the articles at no cost. You can purchase a monthly subscription, and get access to all issues for just $1.99 a month. You can also purchase a single issue for $1.99.

Among the articles in this issue are:

Thoughts On Apple Watch: I had some hands-on time with the watch after the event ended on March 9. I run through my observations and thoughts.

The Apple Watch Will Save My Life. Here’s How: Peter Cohen has a very revealing story on his health issues and how he expects Apple Watch to play a big part in monitoring and controlling them in the future.

Should You Buy An Apple Watch?: This is a question on everyone’s mind right now. It’s a personal device and will be a personal decision.

How The Apple Watch Will Be Your Personal Trainer: Rene Ritchie has a look at some of the features on the fitness side of Apple Watch and how they work.

Apple Watch’s Chances Of Success: This is a brand new category for Apple, so they are definitely taking a risk. What are the chances it will be successful and how do we measure success?

Lifecycle of Apple Watch: Misunderstanding of product lifecycle is something that plagues iPad, so how will it go for Apple Watch.

Apple Watch’s “Killer App”: There can only be one killer app for Apple Watch right now.

ResearchKit Brings A New Level Of Respect for Apple: ResearchKit is an amazing technology that Apple brought to the masses to help research diseases. It’s already having a huge affect.

The-Loop-issue-32

This is my new favorite timer. Want a 10 second timer? Just use the link http://e.ggtimer.com/10. Want a 5 minute timer? Use http://e.ggtimer.com/5minutes. There are even some specialty timers, which you can read about on the site.

It works on your Mac and your iOS device. The countdown is easy to see, and the alarm works, even in the background.

I’d test it a bit before you depend on it for anything important but, so far, it’s worked perfectly for me. I do recognize that there are plenty of ways to skin this particular cat (the built-in Clock app, Siri, any number of 3rd party apps), but I really like the simplicity and universality of this approach. Take a look.

BBC:

A group of users claim that Google bypassed security settings on the Safari browser to install tracking cookies on their computers in order to target them with advertising.

Google said it was “disappointed with the court’s decision”. One of the claimants called it a “David and Goliath victory”.

The case revolves around a so-called Safari workaround, which allegedly allowed Google to avoid the Safari web browser’s default privacy setting to place cookies, that gathered data such as surfing habits, social class, race, ethnicity, without users’ knowledge.

And:

The landmark case potentially opens the door to litigation from the millions of Britons who used Apple computers, iPhones, iPods and iPads during the relevant period, summer 2011 to spring 2012, said Jonathan Hawker who represents the Google Action Group, a not-for-profit company set up to manage claims against the internet giant for breach of privacy.

This could get ugly. [h/t Rob Richman]

9to5mac:

The Apple Watch is still almost a month away from shipping and 15 days away from being available to preview in Apple Stores, but a select few apps selected by Apple to be available for the Apple Watch have started hitting the App Store today. These app updates that add Apple Watch support include Twitter, Things, Target, Dark Sky, and Sky Guide, and many more apps are continuing to roll out with support.

And:

While most developers working on Apple Watch apps ahead of the device’s release next month still cannot submit their Watch-specific updates, Apple has clearly flipped the switch on the select apps being promoted alongside the Apple Watch.

The apps are likely being released publicly now to allow the inevitable Apple Watch reviewers to access third-party Apple Watch apps.

Makes sense. The excitement builds.

From Fortune’s Tim Cook profile that we posted last night:

Representing their companies publicly is obligatory for CEOs, but Cook takes public stands on issues including stopping the transmission of AIDS, human rights, and immigration reform. He sees them as opportunities for leadership. “You want to be the pebble in the pond that creates the ripple for change,” he says, adding that Apple’s people have long cared about such issues even if they haven’t previously spoken so openly about them. To Cook, changing the world always has been higher on Apple’s agenda than making money.

Followed immediately by:

He plans to give away all his wealth, after providing for the college education of his 10-year-old nephew. There should be plenty left over to fund philanthropic projects. Cook’s net worth, based on his holdings of Apple stock, is currently about $120 million. He also holds restricted stock worth $665 million if it were to be fully vested. Cook says that he has already begun donating money quietly, but that he plans to take time to develop a systematic approach to philanthropy rather than simply writing checks.

There have been plenty of CEOs who have turned to philanthropy after they retired. But few have stood for change, taken public stands on controversial issues while they were still CEO. Tim Cook stands out, stands tall among CEOs.

March 26, 2015

Fortune:

Since replacing the legendary Steve Jobs, Cook has led the iBehemoth to even greater financial success. Along the way he’s changed the culture of the company—and found his public voice as a leader.

Another profile on Cook. I like reading these because he seems to be more open about things than Jobs was.

Mongolian throat singing rap

This might just be the coolest thing I’ve watched all week.

Jason Mark (no relation) talks about the process of winnowing a pool of almost 150 applicants to find that perfect new hire. This is not an anecdote about the hiring process. It is a list of things to watch out for, things to NOT do when you are trying to get hired, along with attractive traits that separate you from the field.

One of the iconic images from Apple’s marketing pitch for Apple Watch is a shot of the watch face with a series of concentric circles, showing you progress towards your fitness goals.

Rene Ritchie, writing for iMore, digs in to the Stand, Move, and Exercise rings, demystifying the personal trainer aspects of Apple Watch.

Bloomberg:

Apple Inc. plans to introduce a trade-in program for iPhones in China, people familiar with the effort said, after a similar program bolstered sales in the U.S.

Consumers will be able to take older iPhones to Apple stores in China for credit against the company’s products as soon as March 31, the people said, asking not to be identified as the details aren’t public.

And:

Under the China program, retail staff at Apple outlets will assess an iPhone’s condition before offering store credit for those originally bought in Greater China, the person said. Foxconn will buy the phone directly without Apple ever taking ownership, according to the person.

Foxconn will repair the devices if needed and then sell them through its e-commerce sites eFeihu and FLNet, and through Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s Taobao online store, one person said. Foxconn also is in talks to sell the iPhones through physical stores and may take the trade-in program online in the future, the person said.

The New York Times spent most of their review of Becoming Steve Jobs comparing it to Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs, the authorized biography.

The former is mostly praised by current management, the latter mostly scorned.

What I found fascinating about the non-review was this:

A battle has broken out between these two biographies. Mr. Isaacson’s book was the officially authorized version. But Apple’s top brass has noisily endorsed “Becoming Steve Jobs” as a corrective, and Apple history can’t get much more official than that. If the Isaacson book ruffled Apple feathers, its executives had better brace themselves for Alex Gibney’s documentary “Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine,” which just had its premiere at the South by Southwest festival. It’s one thing to read about someone’s behavior. It’s quite another to watch the extensive archival footage of the unguarded Mr. Jobs that shapes Mr. Gibney’s portrait.

Can you separate the man from his work? Is that appropriate? We all know Steve’s foibles, the way his ego ruled and, sometimes, ruined him. All that negative is the cost that Steve Jobs paid for his abilities, for all that he accomplished. But he would not have been Steve Jobs without those inner demons. And to me, that’s the key.

The thing I found most interesting about this story was the role of ecosystem in the purchase decision.

From ComputerWorld:

iPads were first introduced in Parliament as part of a pilot in 2012, with 209 currently in use by MPs, according to John Thurso MP in response to a written parliamentary question.

The decision to hand out iPads was taken after an “independent assessment” of alternative tablets and how much it would cost to re-work existing services, infrastructure and train members and staff, Thurso said.

And:

The requirement was “for a secure, SIM-enabled tablet with a good life expectancy and capable of supporting future upgrades”.

The iPad Air 2 met these requirements and the committee found it to be “competitively priced” compared to similar models

The committee reviewed tablets ranging from £100 to £600. A basic cellular iPad Air 2 costs about £500 when bought individually.

“iPads are integrated with current business processes…a move away from the Apple operating system (iOS) at this time would incur costs to change these processes,” he explained.

Boom. There it is. Ecosystem. That’s why it is not critical that Apple sell a specific number of Apple Watches. The key is to recognize the boundaries of the ecosystem and continue to do all that is necessary to keep it healthy, keep customers happy, keep customers spending. This is not a moral or ethical strategy, it is a business strategy.

March 25, 2015

Marco Arment:

No sensible developer should be worried about angering “Apple” by fairly expressing legitimate criticism.

Agreed.

There is no single “Apple” to anger, as the company comprises thousands of people across many different departments, all of whom can think for themselves. I’m sure some of them can’t take criticism well and may be vindictive — any large group of people will contain almost every personality type — but that’s not the attitude of any of the Apple people I’ve interacted with.

This has been my experience as well.

Dan returns to join Jim on this episode to talk in depth about the Apple Watch, guitars, and more.

Sponsored by Squarespace (Get started by using the code GUITARS for a free trial and 10% off your first website on Squarespace).

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg kicked off the company’s developer conference today by saying the event, called F8, would focus less on product announcements and more on serving the developer community. And then he dove in and detailed a number of the social network’s new features, products, and updates.

800+ filters, textures, vintage film recreations and visual effects. $0.99, everything is included. No in-app purchases. No gimmicks.

Download, download, download!

Macstories:

While the original Fantastical was a companion to the full Apple iCal experience, Fantastical 2 reinvents itself as a full-blown calendar client that retains the most important aspects of the app’s debut and adds a whole new calendar interface to the mix.

You can’t swing a dead cat today without hitting any number of (at least a dozen so far) reviews of Flexibits new version of their popular calendaring app but, at $50, you better be really serious about needing a calendar app.

Yosemite is a conference for Apple developers, designers, and enthusiasts. It will be held next Spring, in the heart of Yosemite National Park.

The conference is happening April 20-23 at the Yosemite Lodge at the Falls, in the heart of the Yosemite Valley. It’s almost sold out, but there are a few tickets left.

Abdel Ibrahim, writing for WatchAware:

Last night while I was out for a drive, I had an incredible realization about the possible benefits of Apple Watch. I was listening to the radio (yes, I do that from time to time), and I was jumping around between channels and changing the volume with my thumb. Just like I always do. But this time, I looked down at the steering wheel and then over to my dashboard, and a thought occurred to me. “Huh,” I said to myself, “that’s interesting. The controls are right down here and right over there.” And then I started to understand the value of having such controls within a few inches of my fingers, even when redundant controls are only a few inches farther away.

Yes! This clicked for me. It’s all about economy of motion, reducing interface friction. Think of the analogy as Apple Watch is to iPhone as little button on your steering wheel is to same control on your car radio.

To me, the steering wheel revelation offers an even more basic level of insight. And that insight has to do with friction. Friction, in nearly every context, is something we’re always trying to get rid of. Anything we can do to make things faster and more efficient is almost always welcomed, especially when it comes to consumer technology. Whether it’s 1-Click ordering at Amazon or self-checkout in Walmart, if there is a faster way to get something done, we’re generally all for it.

A few weeks ago, I posted about Henry Ford’s time/motion studies and their relation to the Apple Watch. Abdel is homing in on the same concept here. These may be small movements, but they turn out to be important when magnified by time.

Interesting post from Daring Fireball:

On the Mac, you can put an Apple logo in any text field by typing Shift-Option-K. This might date back all the way to System 1.0 in 1984. Some people use this to spell the name of products like Apple TV and Apple Watch. It’s super-common with Apple Watch, in fact, almost certainly because Apple uses the logo mark (that is to say, the Apple logo glyph followed by “WATCH” in all caps or, even fancier, small cap Unicode glyphs).

This is a bad idea for a few reasons. First, it is not a standard Unicode character and almost certainly never will be — because it is Apple’s copyrighted intellectual property.

So if you are on a Mac, this character –  – will appear as the Apple logo. If you are on a Windows machine, you’ll see nothing (or perhaps a square/missing character symbol) between the two hyphens.

Read the rest of Gruber’s post for thoughts on the down side of this approach.

I wonder how long this page will exist in its current form. As is, you can order an Apple Pay decal kit at no charge (not even a shipping fee). Here’s what you get:

• Glass decals in two sizes
• Register decals in two sizes
• Application tool

Odd. [via iHeartApple2]

9to5mac:

Apple is pushing for retail employees to initiate conversations that build trust, enabling the employee to serve as a valued fashion advisor during the purchase process, similarly to how traditional watches are sold. Apple Watch sales training programs will take place for Apple retail staff over the course of the next two weeks, teaching entirely new sales techniques to encourage iPhone upgrades, assist with gifting, and guide customers in watch and strap choices.

This seems logical. But Apple Watch is the first product I can think of that requires such a left-shift in thinking and, in approach, from Apple Store employees. The iPhone and Mac were there pretty much from the beginning. And when the iPad arrived, it was a close enough experience to the iPhone interface that people made the move all by themselves.

The Apple Watch is a different breed altogether. This is the first Apple product that might prompt you to ask, “Does this look good on me?”

March 24, 2015

We experience Canadian nice as soon as we reach customs. The US border guards are gruff and all business. The Canadians, by contrast, are unfailingly polite, even as they grill us about the number of wine bottles we’re bringing into the country. One year, we had failed to notice that our 9-year-old daughter’s passport had expired. They, nicely, let us enter anyway. The niceness continues for our entire trip, as we encounter nice waiters, nice hotel clerks, nice strangers.

We are generally nice people.

Many of the CSS animation links I post on the site come from Donovan and now he’s teaching a course. I signed up.