March 10, 2014
It’s been a slow and steady fall for Windows, for as far back as NetMarketshare has been collecting this data. And for the Mac, the reverse is true. Mac market share was 4.58% back in February 2009 and has steadily climbed to its current share of 8.16%.
Apple on Monday released iOS 7.1, its first major update to the software that powers the iPhone and iPad since it released iOS 7 last year.
The new update, a free 280-megabyte download, adds some new options for Siri, improved fingerprint sensing with Touch ID and aims to fix an irksome bug that caused some users to have their iPhones spontaneously reboot during use.
As always, make sure you have a recent backup before applying the update.
From the New Yorker:
King Digital Entertainment, best known as the makers of Candy Crush, recently filed for a widely publicized IPO.
In its I.P.O. filing, King claims that a “unique and differentiated model” for developing games will enable it to create new hits, and plenty of analysts believe that King has cracked the code of hooking consumers. But that’s unlikely. The world of pop culture contains many more one-hit wonders than hit factories. After all, luck plays a huge role (is there really a good explanation for the hula-hoop frenzy of the fifties?), and, more fundamentally, serial innovation is just tough: studies suggest that most new products fail. In the gaming industry, success has always been highly unpredictable. Parker Brothers, according to a history of the company, found that there was no secret formula: products that tested well often flopped in the marketplace, while “an in-house flop could become the hit of the industry.” It says something that King, which has been making games for a decade, had profits of just $7.8 million in 2012. The company didn’t make eighty times more in 2013 because it had cracked a code; it just caught lightning in a bottle.
Are they a one hit wonder? Interesting article.
It’s a great show. Note that there’s the slightest whiff of a spoiler in the article, so if you are a purist, leave this one be.
If you own an iPhone 5s, give this a try. In the Settings app:
General > Touch ID & Passcode > Touch ID
You’ll see a list of your previously scanned fingers (Finger 1, Finger 2, etc.) Now place one of your scanned fingers on the home button. Touch ID will scan your finger and attempt to find a match. If it does, it will highlight that finger in its list.
This might seem frivolous, but it’s useful for verifying the fingers you’ve scanned. A nice touch, Apple.
[Via The Typist]
UPDATE: Loved this comment from BC2009:
A MUCH MUCH more important hidden feature of this screen is that you can use this screen to over-train your iPhone 5s with your fingerprints. If you have larger fingerprints you will find that after normal training the iPhone 5s may only have part of your finger registered (e.g.: the very tip versus the heel versus the sides).
However, from this screen you can keep tapping your finger to find the parts it recognizes and the parts it does not. Move your finger so it recognizes it and then slightly move your finger so that a part it previously did not recognize is also included. The iPhone 5s will learn those additional parts of the same finger. Once recognizes the additional region, you can move it a little more to include a part not previously recognized. Eventually, the entire surface of your fingerprint from the heel of the fingerprint, to the tip to the sides will be registered.
I’ve done this with my four registered fingers and it no longer matters which part of my finger I use and from which angle I use it.
The Pono Player has been making noise in the audiophile space for a few years now. Neil Young has campaigned against audio compression and the Pono Player is his vision of what the music listening experience might be.
I love listening to music and I, like most people I imagine, have settled for compressed music as a standard. I hope this succeeds. I’m curious, but I’m also skeptical. Young is using Kickstarter as his funding vehicle. I think he’s going to need much more than that if he’s going to achieve any kind of market penetration.
You can read the press release on the Computer Audiophile forum. Worth reading the comments there, too, to see how that community is reacting to this.
Darwinism is partly based on the ability for change that increases an individual’s ability to compete and survive. Malware authors are not much different and need to adapt to survive in changing technological landscapes and marketplaces. In a previous blog, we highlighted a free Android remote administration tool (RAT) known as AndroRAT (Android.Dandro) and what was believed to be the first ever malware APK binder. Since then, we have seen imitations and evolutions of such threats in the threat landscape. One such threat that is making waves in underground forums is called Dendroid (Android.Dendoroid), which is also a word meaning something is tree-like or has a branching structure.
Dendroid is a HTTP RAT that is marketed as being transparent to the user and firmware interface, having a sophisticated PHP panel, and an application APK binder package. The APK binder used by Dendroid just so happens to share some links to the author of the original AndroRAT APK binder.
Think about this. The Android malware universe is becoming as sophisticated as, say, the credit card resale black market. This creature is evolving. That’s scary.
China has a real problem on its hands. On a bad day in Beijing, visibility can be measured in tens of yards.
China declared a “war on pollution” this week, and is now fortifying its arsenal with a new weapon: smog-clearing drones.
The drones work by shooting chemicals into the air, freezing pollutants and making them fall to the ground, according to state media. The unmanned vehicles currently carry about 176 pounds of haze-scrubbing chemicals, while future versions will hold more than 1,500 pounds.
I’m all for cleaning the air, but this approach seems naive to me. Even if it works, when the pollutants hit the ground, won’t they be scattered, by shuffling feet, bicycles and cars, back into the air again, this time in a layer lower to the ground and denser with hazardous materials?
That said, they’ve got to do something, and maybe this will lead to better long term solutions.
In 1995, Apple was looking at the world ahead and released a promotional video to educators laying out its vision for how students would be learning one day. It’s been 19 years since this video was produced and some of its predictions have become everyday realities. Here’s what Apple got right about the future, even if they weren’t the company to bring the changes about in some cases.
Watch the video, then read the article.
This is a trademark filing, not a patent. True Tone is the dual LED flash on the back side of the iPhone 5s. One LED is amber, one white. From Apple’s web site:
The new True Tone flash gives the iSight camera capabilities that are the first for any smartphone. It’s made up of two LEDs, one white and one amber. But they don’t simply fire in tandem. When you take a picture with the flash enabled, the iSight camera uses software algorithms to assess the color temperature of the scene. That allows iPhone 5s to determine just the right percentage and intensity of white light versus amber light you need — using over 1000 unique combinations. The result is a beautiful shot with more true-to-life colors. Not too cool. Not too warm. Better highlights. More natural-looking skin tones. And the same goes for the iSight videos you record.
With all the new tech associated with the release of the iPhone 5s and 5c, I somehow missed this. I definitely see the difference in my pictures, though. I love the tone I get when shooting with my 5s.
I have high hopes for this series. This is TV I want my kids to watch.
Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey is both ambitious and quaint. It attempts to convey humanity’s most expansive ideas in the space of a weekly 44-minute TV series. That’s ambitious. The show is also unabashed in its commitment to truth—it matter-of-factly presents what we know about the universe, what we’re pretty sure about, and what we don’t know yet. Cosmos doesn’t hedge: You won’t hear the narrator, astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson, neuter any of his statements with a gratuitous “some people believe…” counterpoint. He states the truth as a broad scientific consensus understands it today. In a media environment where truth has to compete with a “balance” designed to prevent hurt feelings, Cosmos’ straightforward tack is quaint—laudably so.
[Via The Rajam Report]
BlackBerry CEO John S. Chen, in an interview with the New York Times Bits blog:
“My view of BlackBerry is broad,” Mr. Chen said in an interview following a speech at the Oasis conference here. “I’ll let the software determine what kind of device we make.” This could mean embedding Blackberry communications in other products, or making new ones, and forming partnerships, he said.
It’s a seemingly big change for BlackBerry, which became famous with its raised keyboard phone, but is getting hurt in that business. Mr. Chen, who earlier saved Sybase, a database company, by moving new businesses over several years, thinks creating assets apart from phones are key to BlackBerry.
Chen did a masterful job reinventing Sybase, taking them from a somewhat precarious position into a big growth juggernaut before retiring. He’s now signed on for a five year commitment with BlackBerry. I hope he is successful. There are a lot of jobs at stake.
BlackBerry has to spend some money on marketing to ensure it has a customer profile, in preparation for the possibility that it returns to broad health. Mr. Chen said, however, that being in the consumer eye is not the priority at the moment.
For reassurance, he has turned to a most consumer-oriented showman who once found himself in a position similar to Mr. Chen.
“I watched Steve Jobs on YouTube, when he came back to Apple,” said Mr. Chen. “He got up and said, ‘I don’t have a new product, I’m insanely focused on my customer base.’ That’s me now.”
In Mr. Chen’s case, that is not consumers, but large, regulated enterprises and the government. The good news is, they pay more money. The hard news is, they want innovation, too.
Though some might bristle at the comparison, (Chen can’t possibly be comparing himself to Jobs, can he?) I think in one narrow way, he’s right on. Focus on the customers. The innovation part is the big question mark. Time will tell.
Google executive Sundar Pichai told the South by Southwest conference Sunday that the company plans to release in two weeks a software development kit based on Android for makers of wearable devices, such as smartwatches.
I wonder what the tagline will be for this? “Viruses on your wrist” or “Android: Fucking up every part of your life.”
I would like to have seen Assange. On another note, Skype sucks balls.
Instagram has inked its first major ad deal with an agency, and it’s big.
The photo- and video-sharing site is rolling out a paid advertising program with a year-long commitment from Omnicom to spend up to $100 million, according to people familiar with the matter.
You knew it was coming. If you didn’t, you should have.
March 9, 2014
The Mophie Space Pack does three things, but it doesn’t do them equally well.
This is an accessory that will appeal mostly to Apple die-hards who use their phones all the time and want to carry as much of their stuff with them as possible.
I’ve always been a fan of Mophie products but this one seems to be too much for me. Is it a product you’d be interested in?
There are documents from Gandhi, Darwin, George Washington, Napoleon, Einstein, Churchill, and many more. Click on a document and you can zoom in, get a really high resolution look at some amazing bits of history.
Genius. And before you hit that share button, know that it’s fake.
Many thanks to CocoaConf for sponsoring this week’s RSS feed on The Loop. What do you get when you take some of the best Apple dev authors, trainers, and speakers and combine them with the most passionate, engaged developers in a region? You get a learning and networking experience that will not soon be forgotten! You get CocoaConf!
CocoaConf is back this Spring and better than ever! We’ll be bringing the newest and best iOS and Mac developer technology training to five U.S. cities over the next few months:
Since readers of The Loop are just the kind of attendees we’re looking for, we’re offering you a special discount. Register for any CocoaConf event and use the promotional code LOOP to save 20% on your ticket!
Don’t miss out on this exciting opportunity—tickets are going fast!
This site will teleport you around the globe, always to a picturesque spot. Click the Teleport button to make the next jump, click Map to switch to a zoomable map view so you can learn where you are. Much fun.
A supercut of all the things James O’Malley did when he visited Canada.
What, no poutine?
The title of the linked article is The Lost Star Wars Movie, but I think that’s a little misleading. This isn’t about any of the Star Wars worlds or characters. Nonetheless, it’s a very interesting read and certainly does have a connection to the making of Star Wars and, most closely, to George Lucas.
Text-to-speech, or speech synthesis, has been around for a long, long time. Every Mac, since the very first one, has had speech synthesis built right in.
To get a sense of this, bring up Terminal (it’s in Applications > Utilities) and type:
say “I read the Loop every day, and now my teeth are the color of the winter sun”
Hit return, and you’ll hear your Mac’s computer voice, in all its default glory. Now open System Preferences and select the Dictation & Speech icon. Fiddle with some of those options and click the Play button to try them out. Now if you go back to Terminal, your new settings will be reflected when you ask it to say something.
Now that you see what comes built in, click the headline link and give this demo a try. There’s something about having an avatar, and the quality of the voices are great. Remember, no curse words. Oh, OK, go ahead. So much fun!
We’ve all had that sinking feeling when we realize we might just have lost all our precious data.
I knew something was wrong when I booted my 2012 MacBook Pro, walked away to get coffee and returned to find the computer had turned off. When I booted again, the grey screen appeared and the MacBook Pro booted part way before powering down. An attempt to boot into Safe Mode revealed that the CPU was halting, killing the processes, then shutting down.
Next came booting into Recovery Mode and attempting to fix the disk. After several minutes, the kiss of death was issued: the drive was corrupted, and I needed to erase and reinstall OS X. No big deal. I went to the bookcase for the external drive where I kept my Time Machine back-up. It was a bit out-of-date because of a few weeks of traveling, I thought as I plugged it in, but I would have no issue restoring from it. Right?
The dead external drive said otherwise.
If you own a Mac, there’s certainly a good chance this will happen to you someday. Read the post, and don’t forget to do a backup. Apple really makes it all so very easy.
NASA clearly created this for kids, but adding the voice of GLaDOS (Ellen McLain) from Portal was a genius move. Just the right touch of sarcasm. Brilliant!
There is a moment in this video, a very emotional and poignant moment, when this singer becomes aware that the audience knows the words to her song. It’s a subtle thing, almost like a loss of innocence. I found it beautiful and rare.
March 8, 2014
This is real. If you’ve got kids, there’s a chance they might learn a completely different way of doing math than the way you were taught. Love it or hate it, there’s no question this is an interesting and logical way to solve a subtraction problem.
If you are struggling to wrap your head around this, think about handing someone a $20 to pay for something that costs $3.27 and watching them give you change. 3 cents to bring it up to $3.30, than 70 cents to bring it up to $4, then $1 to bring it up to $5, then another $15 to bring it up to $20. 3 cents plus 70 cents, plus $1 + $15 = $16.73.
So 20 – 3.27 = 16.73, All done without borrowing.
UPDATE: To clarify, it’s certainly easy enough to use this “common core” approach when making change, but how would you solve the problem 96003.0023 – 9996.782? I can only do this using standard borrowing. For you folks who grew up with common core, how do you solve this problem?
AT&T on Sunday will reduce the price of their 2 GB “Mobile Share Value” plan from $80 to $65 per month, with one smartphone and no annual contract. Two smartphones cost $90, down from $105.
The 2 GB plan includes unlimited talk and text, 50 GB of cloud storage using AT&T’s Locker service, and unlimited international messaging. AT&T (coverage map here) is directing customers who need more than two lines to its 10 GB Mobile Share Value plan, which starts at $145 for three phones.
AT&T already had a price edge over competitor Verizon, whose 2 GB More Everything plan costs $90 for one phone and $130 for two (unless you participate in Verizon’s “Edge” upgrade program, which makes you eligible for discounts). The news comes on the heels of T-Mobile’s recent improvements to its Simple Choice plan, which keeps prices pretty much where they are but increases data allowances. Sprint’s pushing their Framily Plan, which scales its savings depending on how many people sign up with you – at two lines, it’s $100 a month, with 1 GB of data for each phone.
A smartphone pricing move that benefits the consumer. Huzzah! Wonder if this will happen automatically or if I’m going to have to make a call to customer service (shudder) to get that discount.
The Incredibles is one of my favorite Pixar movies. If you liked it even a tiny bit, follow the headline link for some fun background. I didn’t know any of this. Be sure to read the comments, too.
Please, Pixar, make a sequel sometime soon.