July 18, 2018

Macworld:

…In the years following Jobs’s death (and the departure of some other Jobs-era executives), Apple has continued to evolve—and in many cases, it’s torn up the old rulebook. A lot of the changes strike me as being for the better. I feel like after Steve laid down the law in the late 1990s, some policies and decisions were never really reconsidered until the Tim Cook era got into full swing.

Here are just a few ways that today’s Apple has tossed out, or at least amended, the classic Apple rulebook.

I’ve made note of some of these changes on my own podcast but Snell writes about it better than I ever could. The PR moves are especially interesting. Snell says:

Today’s Apple PR, led by Steve Dowling, is much more creative in how it releases information into the world…

Not only are they more “creative” but, sans Jobs and Dowling’s predecessor, Apple PR is much more open than in the past. They still have a long way to go but throwing off Jobs’ yoke of absolute secrecy takes time.

Digital Camera World:

Mirrorless cameras have been around for almost a decade now, and in that time they’ve changed in countless ways.

While some of the designs many have stayed constant, the extent to which these models are more capable for a broader range of tasks means that many people have happily ditched their DSLRs, sold their glass (or not, as we shall see) and jumped across to one of the more recent but rapidly expanding mirrorless systems. Many others, however, are more hesitant, and they continue to ask the same question: are mirrorless cameras better than DSLRs?

If you’re expecting a short answer, it’s this: mirrorless cameras are certainly more capable than DSLRs in many respects, and they hold a number of different advantages, but there are many reasons why novice users and seasoned pros alike would still be better served by a DSLR.

There may be a big difference for professionals but for the average shooter, the gap between DSLR and mirrorless is almost nonexistent nowadays. I have no problem recommending mirrorless cameras to my students and workshop participants. For some, mirrorless cameras can be the better choice.

On a day (and a half) with more than one million deals worldwide offered exclusively to Prime members, sales this Prime Day surpassed Cyber Monday, Black Friday and the previous Prime Day, when comparing 36-hour periods, making this once again the biggest shopping event in Amazon history. Prime members worldwide purchased more than 100 million products during this year’s Prime Day event. Best-sellers worldwide were the Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote and Echo Dot – making this, with 12-hour early access to device deals, the biggest event ever for Amazon devices.

That’s an incredible amount of products to sell in such a short period of time. I found the top products sold in each country very interesting, too.

EU antitrust regulators hit Google with a record 4.34 billion euro ($5 billion) fine on Wednesday and ordered it to stop using its Android mobile operating system to block rivals, a ruling which the U.S. tech company said it would appeal.

That seems like an incredible amount of money, but then there’s this:

It represents just over two weeks of revenue for Google parent Alphabet…

Google is appealing the decision, more out of principle than financial reasons.

The new high-end MacBook Pro and “thermal throttling”

A new video is making its way around the net, under the title “MacBook Pro 15 (2018) – Beware the Core i9”. The video (embedded below), is a reasonably measured analysis of one specific new MacBook Pro model, the highest end, spec’ed with a 2.9GHz 6-core Intel Core i9 processor.

Before we get into the video at all, the issues Dave Lee raises are specific to this configuration. I’ve seen not seen anything to make me believe the over-throttling Dave encountered occurs on lower-spec’ed models. Per usual, ping me if I’ve missed anything, or if you see someone encountering this issue with, say, a 2.6GHz 6-core i7.

On to specifics:

Dave runs an Adobe Premiere render on Mac and Windows, the Mac using the i9, and the Windows machine using an i7. Under high load:

  • The Windows laptop (Intel i7) runs at an average clock speed of about 3.1GHz, temp of ~87°C
  • The MacBook Pro (high end i9) runs at an average clock speed of 2.2GHz, temp of ~90°C

In this specific case, with this specific configuration, with this specific i9 chip, the MacBook Pro runs hotter and slower under intense load.

Dave then sticks his MacBook Pro in the freezer and repeats the experiment, and the thermal throttling is significantly reduced, as the Mac no longer has to throttle performance to keep the machine from overheating.

I’d be very interested in seeing this experiment repeated by other folks. Thermal throttling is not the villain here. It’s about the ability of the Mac itself to dissipate heat efficiently. Once the chip heats up, that’s when thermal throttling kicks in.

Watch the video, draw your own conclusions.

A few years ago I had the privilege of being an engineer on the Google Photos team and part of the initial launch in 2015. A lot of people contributed to the product — designers, product managers, researchers, and countless engineers (across Android, iOS, Web, and the server) to name just some of the major roles. My responsibility was the web UI, and more specifically the photo grid.

Whether or not you use Google Photos, it’s fascinating to get an inside look at how it was built.

Samsung’s latest snarky swipe at Apple

Samsung’s latest ad continues their tradition of focusing on iPhone, rather than on their own product, typically with a heaping helping of snark.

This ad, embedded below, is no different. The core statement is:

“So the ten doesn’t have the fastest download speeds”

That swipe at the iPhone X is based on this Samsung press release, with the headline New Data from Ookla Shows the Galaxy S9 and S9+ are the Fastest Phones Ever.

From the release:

The Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ are the fastest smartphones on the market, with download speeds that are up to 42% faster than the closest competitor’s newest devices, according to Ookla®, a leading mobile data speed analyst.

And from the fine print:

Analysis by Ookla® of Speedtest Intelligence® data for iPhone X/8/7 for Feb–April 2018 comparing mean download speeds weighted averages on major nationwide carriers’ 4G LTE network results.

Not sure how scientifically rigorous the comparisons are, but I definitely agree that Samsung has the snarkiest marketing, by far.

John Poole, Primate Labs:

Apple announced updated 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pros last week. Let’s take a quick look at the performance of these new laptops using Geekbench 4 results from the Geekbench Browser.

For those unfamiliar with Geekbench 4, it is our cross-platform CPU and GPU benchmark. Higher scores are better, with double the score indicating double the performance.

Note that Geekbench scores tend to improve over time, as startup tasks like iCloud syncing tend to eat CPU time when a machine is first configured. Once those “one time” tasks are completed, usually after a few days, they no longer skew the results.

Benchmarks like these offer a nice way of comparing apples to apples when you are considering a move from one machine to another. If your workload includes very specific, repetitive, high-intensity tasks (such as audio or video rendering, for example), you might want to seek out benchmarks comparing results for those specific tasks.

Sarah Perez, TechCrunch:

With the upcoming release of iOS 12, Apple is introducing a new app called Shortcuts that will allow users to build custom voice commands for Siri that can be used to kick off a variety of actions in apps. While some apps will directly prompt users to add a Shortcut to Siri, the new Shortcuts app will offer more shortcut suggestions to try, plus the ability to create your own shortcuts and workflows. Now, there’s a new resource for shortcut fans, too – Sharecuts, a directory of shortcuts created and shared by the community.

The site is still very much in the early stages.

Shortcuts is an incredibly important addition to iOS, an evolution to the app architecture that gives you finer grained access to an apps functionality.

Sharecuts is a playground that lets you download useful Shortcuts built by the community but, in my mind, Sharecuts brings something more important to the table:

If you have the Shortcuts app installed, jump to the Sharecuts page (and bookmark it for later reference) and tap one of the Shortcuts. When it opens, you’ll be able to see, and change, all the elements that make up that Shortcut. To me, this is an invaluable learning tool, a wonderful community resource.

Tim Hardwick, MacRumors:

As part of its digital health initiative in iOS 12, Apple has introduced some improvements to the way app notifications can be managed, enabling users to more easily reduce the number of daily distractions their iPhone or iPad throws their way.

One of these new features is called Instant Tuning, which allows you to quickly adjust the future behavior of app notifications whenever they appear in the Lock Screen or the Notifications Center. Here’s how to make the most of it.

This is a short read, talks through an interface that is relatively hidden, but useful and easy to get to. Good stuff.

July 17, 2018

Greta Van Fleet: “When The Curtain Falls”

Here is their new song. This is a great band!

Apple has asked developers to do better with release notes — and so we figured we’d write about our system, in case it’s helpful to other developers.

I’m sure this will be helpful to others.

I wish the App Store had a delete button on the Update tab

I really enjoy the new App Store, especially the Today tab, where I can read more in-depth stories about developers, apps, and even collections of apps that I may find interesting. I spend more time on the new App Store than I ever did before. However, I still have a bit of a problem—Updates.

The Updates tab works exactly as expected—an app is updated, and you can download it directly to your phone. Great. However, many of the updates that come through are for apps that I haven’t used in a while and would love just to delete them. I wish there were a button right there, along with Update, that allowed me to remove the app.

I realize that I could just go find the app and delete it manually, but when I’m staring at a list of updates, pressing “Update All” seems like the most natural thing to do. I always tell myself that I’ll go through the pages of apps and delete the ones I don’t want anymore—I never do.

Having a delete button would be an effortless way for users to keep their devices clean and up-to-date without having to spend the time going through pages of apps.

I would love to say that I’m going to finish writing this and then go clean up my iPhone, but I just hit Update All. Next time.

This is amazing and so much fun!

While not an exact predictor, average lifespan is still a valuable piece of information. For example, let’s say you are buying an 20-year-old home with its original shingle roof, air conditioner, and water heater. If you look at the listing of expected lifespans below, you’ll see that all three of them would be either right at, or past, their average life expectancy.

I don’t know why I found this so fascinating, but I did. You just better hope that a few of these things don’t all fail in at the same time.

Federal officials on July 12 indicted Xiaolang Zhang on a single count of trade secret theft, alleging that Zhang had stolen a 25-page blueprint for a circuit board designed to be used in an autonomous vehicle, according to the indictment filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

They caught him red-handed. I don’t know what kind of defense he could possibly use to get out of this.

July 16, 2018

More than 70 new emoji characters are coming to iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and Mac later this year in a free software update. The new emoji designs, created based on approved characters in Unicode 11.0, include even more hair options to better represent people with red hair, gray hair and curly hair, a new emoji for bald people, and new smiley faces that bring more expression to Messages with a cold face, party face, pleading face and a face with hearts.

These are really great.

Teammates have long stopped laughing at J.D. Martinez and his iPad.

Boston’s All-Star slugger is serious about every swing he takes, even in batting practice, and he has the tape to prove it. Get to the park early enough for Red Sox BP, and you’ll see a pair of iPads attached to tripods, one on each side of the batting cage. When the 30-year-old Martinez steps up, video coordinator Billy Broadbent will point a third iPad at the batter’s box — Martinez’s personal device, which he’s used to record his practice cuts since 2015.

This is an incredible use of technology for a major star.

Kashish:

“Calvin? Calvin, sweetheart?”

In the darkness Calvin heard the sound of Susie, his wife of fifty-three years. Calvin struggled to open his eyes. God, he was so tired and it took so much strength. Slowly, light replaced the darkness, and soon vision followed. At the foot of his bed stood his wife. Calvin wet his dry lips and spoke hoarsely, “Did… did you…. find him?”

“Yes dear,” Susie said smiling sadly, “He was in the attic.“

Susie reached into her big purse and brought out a soft, old, orange tiger doll. Calvin could not help but laugh. It had been so long. Too long.

I’m not crying, YOU’RE crying.

I know this is an old post but I only just saw the tweet from Alan Bailward so blame him. The original Reddit thread is here. Thanks to Felix Lapalme for the URL.

Priceonomics:

Using our (CarMax) data, we explored which cars people own at trade-in and what they purchase as their next car. Do they stay with the same brand or not? Are people loyal to the same type of car they used to drive (i.e., do SUV owners keep buying SUVs or do they switch to sedans)?

Based on our data, we found that the brand with the most loyal owners is Lexus, followed by Mercedes-Benz and then Ford. The brand with the least loyal owners is Volkswagen, followed by Mazda and Volvo.

I found this fascinating. As someone who doesn’t own a car and doesn’t really care about cars, I had no idea that brand loyalty was so low in this market. No wonder the advertising around it is so prevalent and forceful. Customers are ripe for changes.

Jim and I talked briefly about this on the latest “Darymple Report” and he gave me permission to post a few more details here.

This is a workshop I call “Photo Tourism”. The idea is to go on the vacation you are already going on but go with a professional photographer (that would be me!) and learn how to take better photos as well.

We’ll be in Lisbon, Portugal from March 23rd to the 30th. Lisbon is an amazing and beautiful city – great scenery, food, history, tiles, and, even better, really inexpensive!

We will meet on four of the mornings we are there to learn about specific aspects of photography – Composition, Landscape, Portraits, and Street/Black and White. We will spend an hour or so going over the concepts and then “hit the streets” as a group to practice the theory. After lunch, you’re free to explore, shop, relax or continue to hang out with Melissa and I taking photographs. We’ll also have at least one sunrise and one sunset shoot for a total of six multi-hour classroom sessions.

There will also be a side trip to the beautiful little town of Sintra to see the spectacular Pena Palace.

Early Bird (purchased before November 1st, 2018) tickets are on sale now for $100 off the regular price. Hotel location and pricing will be announced soon. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to email me at shawn@StartingPointPhotography.com. I hope some of you can join me in Lisbon next March!

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The Peanuts gang singing Rush’s “2112”

This just made me happy. The action starts at about 1:06. Enjoy.

iFixit:

Here’s an inflammatory take for you: Apple’s new quieter keyboard is actually a silent scheme to fix their keyboard reliability issues. We’re in the middle of tearing down the newest MacBook Pro, but we’re too excited to hold this particular bit of news back:

Apple has cocooned their butterfly switches in a thin, silicone barrier.

First things first, this is indeed an inflammatory take, joining countless other headlines lambasting Apple and the MacBook butterfly keyboard.

But, the thing is, it looks like Apple has, indeed, addressed the problem. That thin, silicone barrier looks designed specifically to keep dust and crumbs from embedding themselves beneath the key press mechanism.

Not sure why Apple never came right out and said, “Our bad, we missed the dust problem with these keyboards, but we’ll fix it.” Is this lawyer-driven? A concern about class-action lawsuits and liability?

No matter, it seems to me that this 3rd generation keyboard is the fix. I’ve typed on it and I am comfortable with the feel and sound. Until I bring one home, I’m not sure how I will feel about the Touch Bar and the soft escape key, the boxier arrow keys, but I do like the keyboard feel and feel optimistic that the dark days of dust breaking the keyboard may just be behind us.

There’s a nice video embedded in the iFixit article that walks through the problems with the keyboard and shows the silicon membrane, up close. Apple keyboard cover-up. Get it?

HBO has an amazing, 17-year-long streak of getting the most Emmy Award nominations. But that streak is now busted, a sign of the changing times.

In this year’s nominations, announced last week, HBO got 108 awards, but Netflix got 112. In the streaming video space, that’s major news, a real changing of the guard.

When I first tweeted about this, I wondered when Apple would get their first non-technical award. Turns out, Apple has several awards/nominations in the bank already:

Know any others I missed? If so, please ping me with a link to the specifics and I’ll add it to the list.

I do think we’ll start to see more and more Apple nominations and wins as Apple projects start to make their way out of the pipeline. Will there come a day when Apple dethrones Netflix as the Emmy nominations champion? That possibility seem preposterous? Perhaps. But consider how deep Apple’s pockets are and how skilled a team they are putting in place.

I do think Apple has the potential to compete at the highest levels in this space. To me, it’s purely a matter of time.

Vanity Fair:

In June 2016, Bill G. B. Pallot and Charles Hooreman, rival antiques dealers in Paris, became the two most famous men in the French art world. That was when Pallot admitted to the police that he had masterminded the forgery of at least four chairs purportedly built in the 18th century for France’s royal household and, in a series of transactions via third parties between 2009 and 2015, sold them to the Palace of Versailles.

I love a good caper story. This one has, perhaps, my favorite lines of all time:

“I licked the chair and voilà,” he says. “I could taste the fraud.”

That line makes this story simply irresistible.

Austin Mann is a photographer who regularly puts Apple gear through its paces, often in remote and beautiful locales.

Austin got his hands on one of the brand new, 2.9 GHz, 32GB, 4TB MacBook Pros. From his review:

I’m deep in the mountains and wasn’t able to run many side-by-side speed tests, but I did manage to set up one test and the results were surprising.

The test was simple: convert a 4K Mavic Pro video file to 1080p H.265 (HEVC) using QuickTime Player (File > Export As > 1080p > Check “Use HEVC”).

I have three different MacBook Pros, all on macOS 10.13.6, all running QuickTime 10.4, all with the original file on the internal drive and exporting to the internal drive. Here are the results:

  • My daily MBP until I discovered these results: 2.3 GHz i7 MacBook Pro (15″, Late 2013, 16 GB RAM, 1 TB SSD) = 1980 seconds (33 minutes)
  • Top-of-line 2016 MBP: 2.9 GHz i7 MacBook Pro (15″, 16 GB RAM, 1 TB SSD) = 99 seconds
  • This top-of-line 2018 MBP: 2.9 GHz i9 MacBook Pro (15″, 32 GB RAM, 4 TB SSD) = 24 seconds

Those are some impressive results. Obviously, you’ll have to pay for the privilege, but if you are considering a purchase, this is a nice data point.

There’s lots more in Austin’s review. Take a look.

July 13, 2018

Austen Allred:

We’re going to try an experiment.

Our full iOS + Computer Science course (30 weeks) + a MacBook you can keep + free housing in San Francisco for the full 30 weeks.

You pay $0 until you’re making $50k+, then 17% of salary for 3 years, capped at $40k.

We’ll select 10 students.

There’s going to be a lot of suspicion about this and many naysayers but, if you qualify, it sounds like an amazing opportunity. You can read more detail here.

The video embedded in this tweet shows the Brazilian soccer team on their journey, last month, to get to the World Cup. As you watch the video, keep your eye out for AirPods. They won’t be hard to spot, which is the point.

There are many examples of this, no matter what team you follow. And, as I pointed out in this post, this is one of the few times that the inability to show a product logo (all logos from non-World Cup sponsors must be covered up) makes no difference at all to that product’s recognizability.

A real branding coup. [H/T Matt Abras]

About a month ago, Serenity Caldwell was a guest on episode 224 of John Gruber’s The Talk Show. About 4:30 in, the topic turned to Apple’s AirPower charging pad.

I’ve been thinking about the long delay since the original AirPower announcement (back in September, almost a year ago) and yesterday, on Twitter, someone mentioned a recently discovered European patent, covered in this Patently Apple article and pointed me to the Serenity Caldwell Talk Show appearance as well.

First things first, take a look at the patent article and scroll down to the second picture, which highlights what Apple calls an Inductive Power Transfer (IPT) System. From the description:

In order to ensure maximum power transfer efficiency to the Apple Watch, an Inductive Power Transfer (IPT) director such as IPT director unit #208 may be provided. The IPT director unit may function to direct the IPT field of the inductive power transmitter for receipt by the inductive power receiver of the Apple Watch.

The idea would be to have these table hockey bumpy things redirect power from the charging mat to be able to charge items that might not sit flat. One perfect example of this is an Apple Watch with a links band, or any band that does not open completely to allow it to lay flat.

This is a terrific solution. But (and this is pure speculation), this may be part of the reason we do not yet see an AirPower in the wild. As Serenity says in her Talk Show interview, Apple appears to be going far beyond what is necessary to simply charge an iPhone. There’s the complexity of the IPT system to transfer power to add-on devices to charge an Apple Watch.

There’s also the goal of communicating the charging state to software, so your iPhone can tell you the current charge of each device on the AirPower.

All this is speculation, but it’s not hard to see that Apple doesn’t want to ship yet another simple induction pad. As Apple does, they want to ship something special, something uniquely Apple.

One question I’d ask is, if Apple could do it all over again, knowing what they know now, would they still have made the AirPower announcement back in September? And, if not, what wires were crossed that caused that early announcement?