April 20, 2015

Kevin Fox is a bit of an Apple historian and a self-professed digital packrat.

Last week I happened across a blog post showing the history of Apple.com over the past 17 years, complete with screenshots culled from the very earliest days of the Internet Archive Wayback Machine. It’s a serious trip down memory lane, but it didn’t go back far enough.

I remember a very different, more playful Apple.com homepage. I remembered a page that was more Fractal Design Painter and less grids and columns. I remember taking a screenshot of that page because I liked the look of it. But where would it be today?

Follow along as Kevin’s archaeological skills kick in and he finds the earliest known image of Apple’s home page. Great read, great work.

[Via 512 Pixels]

Apple Insider:

Porsche owner Volkswagen Group is offering substantial CarPlay support across its marques, including Audi, SEAT, Skoda, Suzuki and Volkswagen.

You can see the fill list of CarPlay compatible manufacturers towards the bottom of this page. That’s 34 and counting. Impressive progress.

Jordan Kahn, writing for 9to5mac, pulled together a collection of ads for Apple Watch replacement straps ad other accessories. One item I found especially clever was an adapter that allows you to connect a traditional watch strap to your Apple Watch.

Given that replacement straps are strictly mechanical (no electronics involved, like an iPhone case), I’d expect the replacement strap market to quickly bloom and commoditize, meaning you’ll soon be able to buy a replacement strap at those little watch kiosks in the mall.

April 18, 2015

My thanks to Iconic for sponsoring The Loop this week. Looking for a special gift for that mega Apple enthusiast in your life? How about the newest edition of an absolutely stunning coffee table book that features lush, beautiful photographs of Apple devices? ICONIC: A Photographic Tribute to Apple Innovation is Iconic uses vivid color and detail to document Apple’s journey in design, form and function—and looks back at over 35 years of Apple innovation. Four years in the making, the author captured over 150,000 photos of nearly every product Apple has made, including rare prototypes and even packaging. With a foreword from Steve Wozniak and The Loop’s own Jim Dalrymple and hundreds of amazing quotes from other Apple pundits—ICONIC is the ultimate coffee table book for every Apple fan, and the perfect gift for any Apple owner who ever wanted to explore and discover the true roots of their favorite iMac, iPod, iPad, or iPhone. With free global shipping, see the different editions and use the coupon code THELOOP on checkout for 10% discount.

Jim’s Note: In addition to writing the foreword for this book, I also own two and love them!

So jarring to move from that page back to their current home page. Definitely a step back in time.

From the IconFactory blog:

Today we are pleased to announce that Twitterrific 5.11 with Apple Watch support is available in the App Store. Ever since we first saw Apple’s new wearable in action, we knew Twitterrific would be a great fit. There are a myriad of compelling features in this update so we wanted to take some time to share a few of them with you.

I find it fascinating to watch existing products evolve an Apple Watch app. Good read, especially if you are thinking about building your own WatchKit app.

[Via iOS Dev Weekly]

Tim Cook is a steal

From Bloomberg Business [AutoPlay]:

Apple Inc.’s Tim Cook has the best pay-for-performance rating of any chief executive officer on the Bloomberg Pay Index, the first daily ranking of the highest-paid U.S. executives.

Cook was awarded $65.2 million in compensation last year. During the three fiscal years he has run Apple, revenue climbed 69 percent to $183 billion and net income grew 53 percent to $39.5 billion. Sales of iPhones more than doubled to $102 billion.

“Apple is just unbelievably killing it,” said Dan Ernst, an analyst at Hudson Square Research in New York. “A good leader like Cook builds a team around him that can do the job.”

Perfectly said. Tim Cook is the consummate team player, incredibly well organized, and unselfish to boot.

On a side note, I did not embed the link in the headline because the embedded video, which really adds nothing to the story, is set to autoplay. AutoPlay has its place, but not on a news story. My 2 cents.

Follow the link to see a gallery of images. Interesting palette of colors. I wonder if they’ll make their way to the mainstream product line.

April 17, 2015

Don Henley will not take it easy when there’s a product being sold that references both his name and career with The Eagles, and now everyone knows: After filing a lawsuit against a Wisconsin clothing company that emailed an ad telling customers to “don a henley and take it easy” last October, the two sides have settled the case, with the company issuing an apology to both Henley and his fans for trying to be too clever.

I really like Duluth Trading Co. and their ads, but they did go too far this time.

Wall Street Journal:

Apple Inc. is planning to launch its mobile payments service in Canada this fall, marking the start of its international expansion of Apple Pay, according to people familiar with the matter.

The company is in negotiations with Canada’s six biggest banks about a potential November launch of the service which would enable mobile payments for both credit and debit cards using iPhones and the forthcoming Apple Watch, those people said.

From the download/knowledge base page:

The OS X Yosemite 10.10.3 Supplemental Update fixes a video driver issue that may prevent your Mac from starting up when running certain apps that capture video.

My hope is that this somehow fixes a problem I’ve been having with Safari ever since I installed the 10.10.3 update. Probably a stretch, but I can dream, can’t I?

Peter Cohen, writing for iMore, talks you through the Time Machine interface. It’s not difficult, perhaps obvious, but well worth the read and the thinking that goes with it.

One thing that was new to me was the existence of Apple’s Time Machine exclusions list:

/System/Library/CoreServices/ backupd.bundle/Contents/Resources/ StdExclusions.plist

Interesting stuff.

Apple fleshed out its guided tour offerings. The first set, which appeared about 10 days ago, were Welcome to Apple Watch, Messages, Faces, and Digital Touch.

Joining the list are four new videos: Phone Calls, Siri, Maps, and Music.

Still to come: Apple Pay, Activity, and Workout.

From MacRumors:

The classes are listed as an available option on April 24 on individual retail store websites and in the “Stores” section of the Apple Store app. Not all retail locations are displaying Apple Watch workshop availability at this time, but select stores both in the United States and in other countries are offering workshops as of today. Workshops take place at 1.5 hour intervals all day long in most locations and are also available on Saturday and Sunday. It appears that some locations may also be offering extended hours to allow more time for hosting workshops.

Smart offering from the Apple Workshop folks.

Dowling replaces longtime Communications VP Katie Cotton, who retired last May.

Time published its annual list of its 100 most influential people. This list is about influence, not about popularity, courage, or accomplishment. Near the top of the list is Apple CEO Tim Cook. He is introduced as “a courageous innovator” by John Lewis, a civil rights leader and Democratic Congressman from Georgia:

It could not have been easy for Tim Cook to step into the immense shadow cast by the late Apple co-founder, Steve Jobs. But with grace and courage and an unabashed willingness to be his own man, Tim has pushed Apple to unimaginable profitability—and greater social responsibility. He is setting a new standard for what business can do in the world. Tim is unwavering in his support of an individual’s right to privacy and is not only embracing equality and LGBT rights but advocating for change through his words and actions. His commitment to renewable energy is also leaving our planet a little cleaner and a little greener for generations yet unborn.

Above all, he has shown that profitability and integrity can go hand in hand. Tim has done this while introducing, time and again, some of the most innovative products the world has ever seen. Tim Cook is proof that even the most successful companies can and should be judged by more than just their bottom line.

At the bottom of the page is a timeline you can scroll through to get a sense of the path that took Tim from his birth in Mobile Alabama to where he is today.

Also of note, Airbnb founder Brian Cheskey’s intro was written by Jony Ive.

As is the case with all lists, there’s plenty to argue about. Kanye West as the most influential person? I think that’s a stretch. But there’s plenty of interesting content here to go through.

[HT: Sébastien Page]

April 16, 2015

As with every product we make, we want as many people as possible to enjoy using Apple Watch. That’s why it’s designed with assistive technologies and features that make it easy for people with disabilities to use. Accessing them is also simple, either through Settings on the device itself or through the Apple Watch app on your iPhone.

I love that this is a priority for Apple.

This is exceptionally great!

We surveyed a group of over 1,000 nationally representative consumers on 4/11, the day after the preorder window for Apple Watches opened. Our key insights include: (1) encouraging initial demand, with +11% of iPhone users “very likely” to purchase an Apple Watch this year, (2) regular watch wearers are among the most likely to order an Apple or other smart watch, suggesting high displacement rates for traditional watches from smart watch adoption, (3) young consumers are substantially more likely to buy an Apple Watch than older consumers, and (4) those likely to buy a smart watch most often indicate Fossil, Seiko, Casio, Rolex, Timex, and TAG Heuer are the watch brands they wear today.

I find it very interesting that regular watch wearers are among the most likely to order an Apple Watch. I would have thought they would be more reluctant to move from analog to a smartwatch. The brands listed in No. 4 have a lot to worry about in the next year or so.

Create stunning mobile apps simply by placing text, images and movies in a Dropbox folder. Professional results to rival major apps.

This is the platform The Loop magazine is built on. Glide is now ready for the public, so let’s support them.

Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of Environmental Initiatives:

Today, Apple and The Conservation Fund are announcing a collaboration designed to help America’s working forests stay working forests. For Apple, this is the beginning of a worldwide effort, one that represents a new approach as it reassesses its impact on the world’s paper supply chain.

Apple believes that paper, like energy, can be a renewable resource. So Apple is striving to supply 100 percent of the virgin fibers used in its paper and packaging from sustainably managed forests or controlled wood sources.

As usual, an interesting manifesto from Apple regarding its environmental initiatives but I also find it fascinating this is a story on Medium, not a press release. Hopefully, we’ll see more of these kinds of articles directly from Apple.

LA Times:

The Los Angeles Unified School District is seeking to recoup millions of dollars from technology giant Apple over a problem-plagued curriculum that was provided with iPads intended to be given to every student, teacher and administrator.

To press its case, the Board of Education on Tuesday authorized its attorneys in a closed-door meeting to explore possible litigation against Apple and Pearson, the company that developed the curriculum as a subcontractor to Apple.

This story has been ongoing and includes an FBI investigation, resignations of officials and plenty of blame for all to go around.

Inquisitr:

Dan Price, the CEO of a start-up company located in Seattle, has just raised his employee’s minimum wage to $70,000 by cutting his $1 million salary to that of his lowest-paid employees.

Price is taking upwards to 80 percent of his credit card processing company Gravity Payments’ $2.2 million expected profit and putting it into his employee’s salaries.Price recently announced that over a three-year period, Gravity Payments will be offering its 120 employees a salary of at least $70,000.

Fantastic news for the company’s employees. Some say this will become the model for other companies but I’d be hugely surprised if anyone else followed suit. It’s just not The Corporate Way.

One thing bothered me about this story though.

Price recently told the New York Times that he was motivated to make the radical change after he read a newly released study about how pay raises increase the happiness of those receiving them.

Seriously? You had to read a study to know this? He’s obviously never been poor a day in his life. The vast majority of us know all too well how important money can be to peace of mind, health, happiness and security.

My criticism aside, I couldn’t be happier for the employees of Gravity Payments.

John Siracusa:

Nearly 15 years ago, I wrote my first review of Mac OS X for a nascent “PC enthusiast’s” website called Ars Technica. Nearly 15 years later, I wrote my last. Though Apple will presumably announce the next major version of OS X at WWDC this coming June, I won’t be reviewing it for Ars Technica or any other publication, including the website you’re reading now.

Siracusa’s name was known to many long before he started to write his incredible in-depth reviews of Apple’s Mac OS X but he will be forever known as the guy who wrote in the most detail about the OS.

He says:

Someone else can pick up the baton for the next 15 years.

Sadly, that’s not going to happen. No one can replace Siracusa or his writing style or his passion for writing the most complete reviews humanly possible of Mac OS X.

On the future of Apple Watch

I can’t help but think the Apple Watch is going to join the iPhone as a juggernaut.

It might take time, but I think time is going to be very kind to the Apple Watch. Think back to the first iPhone. It was saddled with slow cellular radios and limited power. But it was clearly better than what came before it. As technology evolved, the iPhone experience improved. Remember the constant dropped calls? The problems of the wrap around antenna that caused reduced signal when you held the phone without a case? These were genuine problems which brought a fair share of negative press. But the iPhone marched on, continued to improve. Battery life improved, the cell radio got stronger, carriers built out the cell infrastructure. And the iPhone became a juggernaut.

The Apple Watch is brand new. So much change is coming. The vast majority of the current Apple Watch processing is dedicated to communicating the results of processing done on the iPhone. The current Apple Watch is a relay device. But my guess is that that will change over time. As battery life continues to improve, as the processor gains power, as the software continues to evolve, the Apple Watch will grow and do much more “in house” processing. Apple will guide that process by adding to the Apple Watch SDK, giving developers more to work with, more flexibility to extend the bounds of what makes an Apple Watch app.

There are enough Apple Watches in the wild (or coming over the next few months), there are enough early adopters that, in my opinion, the Apple Watch has achieved critical mass. There will certainly be complaints, but the Apple Watch community is now large enough, it is (or soon will be) in the critical work flow of enough people, that there’s no turning back.

The Apple Watch is a juggernaut. Or perhaps a juggernaut junior.

The Telegraph, from a memo written by Apple retail chief Angela Ahrendts:

Many of you have been getting questions asking if we will have the watch available in store on April 24 for walk-in purchases. As we announced last week, due to high global interest combined with our initial supply, we are only taking orders online right now. I’ll have more updates as we get closer to in-store availability, but we expect this to continue through the month of May. It has not been an easy decision, and I want to share with you the thinking behind it.

The whole memo is thoughtful and worth reading.

Mikey Campbell, Apple Insider:

Well-informed KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has in the past proved accurate in predicting Apple’s moves, estimates Apple Watch preorders will exceed 2.3 million units, though production bottlenecks relating to the device’s haptic vibrator and advanced OLED screen are restricting rollout.

And:

Existing limitations could hinder accelerated manufacture, however. Currently, Apple is seeing restricted supply of vibration motors from Hong Kong-based manufacturer AAC and flexible AMOLED screens from LG Display, which is said to be Watch’s sole display supplier. Powering Apple Watch’s Taptic Engine, AAC’s motors must meet stringent operating requirements that require a smaller form factor than iPhone vibrators, while being more accurate. Technical hurdles for LG include AMOLED panel color accuracy and life span.

Lots of interesting tidbits to process.

April 15, 2015

iOS users dominate music festival Coachella

Gopi Sangha, Director of Technology for Coachella said three-quarters of attendees are using the Coachella app and 90 percent of those are using iOS.

“It’s a luxury to have all our audience kind of sit on one platform so we can nail the experience for that,” said Sangha.

Several celebrities like Katy Perry, Drake, and Pharrell Williams have been spotted with the gold Apple Watch Edition ahead of the device’s launch, but Apple gifted designer Karl Lagerfeld with something even more special — a custom gold Apple Watch with a gold Link Bracelet.

I checked and FedEx didn’t leave one of these at my door.

Jim and Dan talk about the meaning behind the WWDC announcement, why Jim got three Apple Watches, the evolution of music (from vinyl to tapes to cd’s and now streaming), beginning guitar without an amp, and more.