May 20, 2015

Mark Gurman, writing for 9to5mac:

During his trip last week across China, Apple CEO Tim Cook held a meeting at Apple’s China headquarters with several employees in attendance, according to sources with knowledge of the briefing. Cook reportedly reiterated several recent China-focused announcements, including the new forest-focused environmental initiatives and improvements for education, but he also mentioned some new tidbits regarding the upcoming retail launch for the Apple Watch and the rollout of Apple Pay for China…

Regarding the Apple Watch, Cook began by telling the employees that “the Watch could not be going better, we’re working really hard on making more.” Cook joked that Apple wishes it had more operations staff and engineers to make the launch go even smoother, according to the sources. Notably, Cook promised that Apple Stores will begin carrying Apple Watch stock “by June.” This indicates that comments from Angela Ahrendts in April are still on track. For the first time, Cook also confirmed that the upcoming June in-store launch will include the company’s stores in China.

This is pretty big news. What do you do if you’ve got a Apple Watch on order and a shipping date in late June? Me, I’d leave it in the cart, then plan a trip to my local Apple Store in a few weeks, see if you can’t get that watch off the shelves then, once watch is in hand (on wrist?), cancel the online order.

This situation is going to create a little inventory bubble for Apple. But no matter, I suspect Apple will sell every watch they can make.

May 19, 2015

Banjo cover of ‘The Final Countdown’

Pretty amazing.

This addresses a few of the things I’ve had trouble with.

Great article, written by EVH.

You can now subscribe to the new podcast I do with Merlin Mann on iTunes.

Bird laughs like super villain

Take 30 seconds and have a good laugh.

In a letter to be sent Tuesday and obtained by The Washington Post, a coalition of tech firms, security experts and others appeal to the White House to protect privacy rights as it considers how to address law enforcement’s need to access data that is increasingly encrypted.

Added support for the Apple Watch – now you can use PCalc without taking your phone out your pocket! Includes a full calculator app, a tip calculator, and a glance to see the result of your most recent calculations.

It’s great to see PCalc on the watch.

Samsung has just released a public beta of its new feature called Samsung Flow, which is essentially a ripoff of Apple’s Continuity – introduced last year. This new feature will allow users to start a task on one device, and be able to pick it up and continue from another.

Can this company can up with nothing original? I’m all for competition, but Jesus, this continuous copying is getting tiresome.

Elvis: Burning Love

Elvis is just a badass.

British Pathé:

Follow us through the 20th Century and dive into the good and the bad times of the past. Feel free to explore more than 80,000 videos of filmed history and maybe you’ll find stuff no one else has ever seen.

Do not go to this site if you want to get any work done today. Thanks to my friend Antonio Rosario for the huge time suck.

Apple intros new MacBook Pro, lower-priced iMac with 5K display

Everyone has been focused on the new gadgets coming out of Cupertino, but Apple’s Mac team has been killing it lately. First the new MacBook, and now updated MacBook Pro and lower-priced iMac with a 5K display.

The new MacBook Pro features the Force Touch trackpad first introduced on the MacBook. The trackpad has built-in force sensors and a Taptic Engine that delivers haptic feedback. I’ve been using this on the MacBook since it was released and I love the interaction and feedback you get from it.

Apple didn’t just add the Force Touch trackpad. According to Apple, it also features up to 2.5 times faster flash storage than the previous generation, with throughput up to 2GBps, and offers an additional hour of battery life, with up to 9 hours of wireless web browsing and up to 9 hours of iTunes movie playback. Graphics on the computer are up to 80 percent faster performance, as well.

This is the new iMac:

With a resolution of 5120 x 2880, the new $1,999 iMac with Retina 5K display has 67 percent more pixels than a 4K display, and features a 3.3 GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 processor with Turbo Boost Speeds up to 3.7 GHz and AMD Radeon R9 M290 graphics. The new iMac also includes 8GB of memory and 1TB of storage, as well as four USB 3.0 ports and two Thunderbolt 2 ports that deliver up to 20Gbps each, twice the bandwidth of the previous generation. The top-end iMac with Retina 5K display now starts at $2,299 and features a 3.5 GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 processor with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.9 GHz, AMD Radeon R9 M290X graphics and a 1TB Fusion Drive.

I couldn’t have said it any better than that. The only thing I can add is: I want one!

The new MacBook Pro is available today and starts at $1,999. The new iMac is also available today starting at $1,999.

TedLandau

I had the good fortune to be around for the dawn of some of the most significant technological developments in human history: the arrival of personal computers, the emergence of the Internet and the World Wide Web, and the current dominance of social media and mobile devices. These and other technological advances continue to alter our world at an ever accelerating pace. One day Apple is on the verge of bankruptcy. The next day (or so it sometimes seems), it is the largest most profitable company on earth. Who’d have guessed?

There are a lot of people I wish would retire from writing about Apple – Ted Landau is not one of those people. Many of us owe a great debt of thanks to Ted for all of his many years of service to the Mac Community. For me personally, I was a fan of his writing at MacFixIt and he was always extraordinary helpful whenever I emailed him. As a podcaster, I interviewed him several times and, as a speaker at Macworld Expos, I was lucky enough to sit and chat with him on many occasions. Quiet, soft-spoken, gracious, kind, knowledgeable, Ted is all that and more. We wish him all the best in his retirement!

Jason Scott, of the Internet Archive, wants your AOL CDs.

I think the big question back is why wouldn’t I try to image and archive all these CD-ROMs that came out of America Online? After all, for some time, half of all CDs manufactured in the world had an AOL logo on them. Like it or not, folks – those things are payloads of history.

You see, there wasn’t “a” AOL CD that went out. There were so many variations, containing so many different add-ons and wrap-ins, that they became time capsules in themselves. So yeah. I want them.

For real. He gives his mailing address and everything.

File this one under history.

Kirk McElhearn digs in to Spotlight queries on the Mac, shows you some excellent tips that will help you find that elusive file. This goes well beyond the basics. Read. Learn.

If you read the 95 page Apple Watch User Guide cover to cover, move along, you obviously know this information. But if not, either flip over to page 7 and check out the chart at the bottom of the page, or follow the headline link.

Either way, good idea to learn the meaning of the seven possible status icons that appear above the 12 on your watch face. And not such a bad idea to bookmark the link to the User Guide for later reference.

Walt Mossberg, writing for Re/code:

I’m not talking about which watch face to select on any given day, or whichever particular band you chose. Those things matter, of course. But lets talk about customizing the software so you have the apps you want, where you want them; having your favorite contacts and frequently-sought info in an accessible place; and receiving a helpful number of notifications, but not so many that you want to take the thing off.

Once you’ve read Jason Snell’s piece about Apple Watch faces and complications, spend some time with Walt as he talks you through things like settings, apps, and notifications. Excellent complementary pieces.

At its surface, this post by Jason Snell for Six Colors is a detailed review of a specific Apple Watch face, known by the name Utility.

As an aside, you can find Utility, along with images of the rest of the built-in Apple Watch faces here.

But if you are new to Apple Watch (and who isn’t?), the post offers a terrific learning experience. Jason does a fantastic job of walking you through the optional settings available for Utility. For example, would you prefer a face with no numbers? Just a few? All of them? How about color?

More importantly, the post teaches you about complications, annotations wedged in and around the clock face, that do things like show battery life, phases of the moon, temperature, day and date, etc.

This one is worth passing along.

May 18, 2015

The Wall Street Journal:

Investor Carl Icahn said he expects Apple Inc. to introduce an ultra-high-definition television in 2016. But after nearly a decade of research, Apple quietly shelved plans to make such a set more than a year ago, according to people familiar with the matter.

Apple had searched for breakthrough features to justify building an Apple-branded television set, those people said. In addition to an ultra-high-definition display, Apple considered adding sensor-equipped cameras so viewers could make video calls through the set, they said.

Ultimately, though, Apple executives didn’t consider any of those features compelling enough to enter the highly competitive television market, led by Samsung Electronics Co.

It’s been an open secret for years that Apple has tested many variations of television sets but just couldn’t find a way to include features compelling enough to bring it to market. Regardless of what Icahn wants or believes, Apple will do what’s right for Apple. And, as many of us have argued for many years, an Apple-branded television set isn’t going to happen.

The Dalrymple Report: A new podcast with Merlin Mann and Jim Dalrymple

Jim Dalrymple and Merlin Mann talk about firsts, staying healthy and active, and the virtues of consistent beer.

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Kirk McElhearn puts a Fitbit One and his Apple Watch through their paces, to get a sense of the accuracy of the Apple Watch as a fitness tracker.

Lots to read here, but from his conclusion:

I’ve said before that fitness trackers are more about motivation than accuracy. If they get you to be more active, by prodding you to reach new goals, then they are successful. They should give you reliable data about your activity, though, and not be far off the mark. (I consider that the 5% difference in step count is acceptable.) But they shouldn’t lead you to wonder whether your activity is counted correctly, as the Apple Watch does. Either the Apple Watch is severely flawed in its fitness tracking capabilities, or I received a dud (I’m going to call Apple later to try and find out). I’m curious as to whether other readers have compared the Apple Watch with other fitness trackers, or whether anyone has similar data, reported by the Apple Watch, which just seems wrong.

I think accuracy is incredibly important if you use your Apple Watch to manage your personal health. The difference between a long run at 150 BPM and 145 BPM is not a big deal, but a run at 160 BPM when you think you are at 140 BPM can be life threatening, more so the older you get.

Obviously, as Kirk points out, accuracy in step counting is less critical, but it is important. If one device can get it right, then Apple should be able to get it right.

Clearly, this is Apple’s first kick at the can here, their first shipping medical sensor and their first activity tracking device. I have no doubt that, just like Apple Maps, Apple’s medical and fitness efforts will continue to evolve, continue to get more accurate over time.

Have a need to run Windows on your Mac? Alex King puts the latest insider preview of Windows 10 on a Boot Camp partition on his 12-inch MacBook.

This is a terrific piece of work, well worth the read if Windows on a Mac is in your future.

Rob Richman, writing about Apple Watch for Opinion8td:

As an early adopter it reminds me of when I got my first iPod back in 2002. It’s not yet perfect but in my opinion it’s worth its weight in gold aluminium. I remember those halcyon days in my late twenties listening to Coldplay on my way back from work on the London Underground with those striking white headphones in my ears and my iPod hidden in my pocket.

A year later that innocence came to bite me when I was mugged for my iPod. Admittedly I was an easy target being 158cm, of very slight build and carrying a £400 music player that was being ‘advertised’ by those white headphones. Once I got over the shock of being mugged it was a hassle getting my insurance to pay out for a replacement but a few weeks later everything was sorted and after putting my music back on the new iPod I was very careful about where and when I used the iPod. If memory serves me right I used a cheap pair of black headphones to disguise the fact I owned an iPod like many others in the years ahead.

Bringing this back to my Apple Watch I am beginning to feel scared of people seeing me while I’m out walking. The weather in London is warming up and there are days that it’s even t-shirt weather making my Apple Watch permanently visible. I want to check notifications as well as finding out whether I have hit my activity goal but I feel more of a target now I am wearing this expensive and desirable ‘fashion’ tech accessory.

I remember when this wave of anxiety passed through the iPhone community as iPhone mugging became a thing. I don’t carry this concern personally, but I’ve never been mugged before either.

I don’t believe Rob is being a fear monger here, and I do think there’s a legitimate potential concern, given the iPhone’s history.

Fear aside, I think Rob makes another interesting point. Apple produces iconic products and they are styled to stand out from the crowd. Those iconic white headphones tell folks your brand of choice and send a signal as to the valuable tech you are carrying.

Now we’ve got a new signal. No longer hidden, the distinctive strap and rectangular face are unmistakable, even from across the room. There are not a lot of watches that can so quickly achieve that iconic status, that across-the-room recognizability. That’s Apple.

John Biggs, Tech Crunch’s resident (and self professed) watch nerd, talks about why the Apple Watch has convinced him to move on from the world of mechanical watches he’s worn and loved his whole life.

Eric Slivka, writing for MacRumors:

In one of its latest efforts to bolster its mapping capabilities, Apple appears to have acquired Coherent Navigation, a Bay Area GPS-related firm founded in 2008 by engineers from Stanford and Cornell.

One of Coherent Navigation’s areas of focus was High Integrity GPS (“iGPS”), a system that combines signals from the traditional mid-earth orbit GPS satellites with those from the low-earth satellites of voice and data provider Iridium to offer greater accuracy and precision, higher signal integrity, and greater jam resistance. Iridium touts iGPS as having the potential to provide location information accurate to within centimeters.

That “appears to have” was converted to “confirmed” in this New York Times article:

To that end, Apple confirmed on Sunday that it had purchased Coherent Navigation, a Bay Area global positioning company, further bolstering Apple’s location technology and services.

“Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans,” the company said in an email.

Not sure how that quote is a confirmation. Perhaps there was more to the email. But the founders now appear to be Apple employees, so it really does seem like a done deal.

May 17, 2015

Steve Jobs movie first look

Universal pictures has unveiled the “first look” clip from the upcoming movie about Steve Jobs. It’s just a teaser but it looks interesting. Fassbinder was an odd choice to portray jobs but he is a very good actor and the rest of the cast is equally accomplished.

One of the odd things about getting older is movies are being made about the times I’ve lived in and, in the case of parts of this movie, events and presentations I was at and tangentially involved in. It’s kind of a weird feeling and I don’t know how unbiased I’m going to be watching this film. But I am looking forward to seeing it.

Tim Cook – The George Washington University Commencement Speaker Spring 2015

Tim Cook was George Washington University’s Commencement Speaker for Spring 2015. He goofs around a bit, gives some of the usual graduate advice and talks about his early years at Apple.

The New York Times:

For many of the largest Silicon Valley technology companies, mapping software undergirds numerous software applications and features in their products. For Apple, it is little different. To that end, Apple confirmed in an email on Sunday that it had bought Coherent Navigation, a Bay Area navigation company, further bolstering Apple’s mapping technology and services.

This is obviously a move by Apple to continue to improve its Maps app. The Sunday confirmation from Apple is interesting too. Another sign of its softening of its former hard line position with regards to PR.

The entire article itself is fascinating, especially if you are a fan of spirits (the alcoholic kind), but what I found most interesting was this:

As bourbon enthusiasts realized their favorite products were becoming harder to find, they started purchasing multiple bottles: two, three, six, why not 12. They then bunkered that bourbon in their basements, for the day when they couldn’t find their preferred dram, or, I suppose, the day when the apocalypse comes. Liquor store owners noticed. Though wholesale costs have only crept up slightly, retailers’ prices have skyrocketed for any bottle with even a slight smell of scarcity about it.

Wholesale prices crept up only slightly, but retailers artificially inflated their selling prices, sometimes at five times their standard price. And because of the rumored scarcity, bourbon enthusiasts leapt in, eager to buy in before prices rose even higher.

Artificial markets are everywhere. You see them at the end of every year on places like eBay as perceived scarcity impacts the sales price of holiday gifts.

Another example is a cut-in-line market, where you can pay to move up in line, perhaps paying for better seats at a concert than the folks who camped out all night to wait for their seats, or paying for the latest Apple product so you don’t have to wait for yours to ship. Cut-in-line markets come with their own premium pricing.