Air New Zealand:
As the official airline of Middle-earth, Air New Zealand has gone all out to celebrate the third and final film in The Hobbit Trilogy – The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
It very well may be the most expensive aircraft safety video ever made. And interesting to see some of the difference between the demonstrations we see on North American Airlines. But I’m sorry – I don’t believe for a second that Elijah Wood flies Coach.
MasterCard expanded its Priceless Surprises advertising series with two news ads. This first one debuted during Game 1 of the World Series:
That baseball legend is George Brett, an all time great and one loyal guy. He’s been working for the Kansas City Royals all of his adult life (since 1971).
The second spot debuted last night, during Game 2, and features Mariano Rivera, a legend in his own right:
Interesting that MasterCard included Tommy Lasorda in the ad’s title (thanks to Kip Beatty for pointing that out in comments). I wonder if he was originally slated to be in this spot or, perhaps, if we’ll see Tommy (who just turned 87!!!) in a Game 3 ad.
Thanks to my friend Sly for sending me this video and thanks to the American hockey fans who honoured all Canadians by singing our National Anthem and showing their respect on this awful day. Tears and chills.
I picked up my new iPads after the event in Cupertino ended last Thursday where Apple introduced the new products. I’ve been using the new iPads just as I have used the previous generation devices, so I could get a good idea how they function under my normal working conditions.
The best feature to ever come to an iPad is Touch ID. I’ve spent the last year holding my finger on the iPad’s Home button, waiting for it to unlock, and cursing when I realized what I was doing. It’s been a long year.
Touch ID is more than a convenience feature—it actually helps the user with security too. Without Touch ID, passcodes to unlock the iPad are typically very simple, allowing people easy, quick access to the iPad. After all, if it becomes too much of a pain to just get the device open, we’ll either not use it or disable security altogether. Neither one of those options really work.
Touch ID solves this problem by allowing you to add a secure password, while giving easy access to the iPad using your fingerprint. Apple is also giving developers access to Touch ID so you can unlock apps, like 1Password, with your fingerprint.
So, yes there is a measure of convenience that you can enjoy after setting up Touch ID, but you should also take the opportunity to secure your device.
One of the things I use my iPad Air 2 for is music. I plug in my guitar to the iPad and use one of the many great music apps out there for amp modeling. For me, this is a solid test of the iPad because you are processing audio in real-time—if there’s any problem with the processor it should show up when trying to work with live audio.
There were no problems at all with the iPad Air 2 or the iPad mini 3.
I plugged my Les Paul into a Line 6 SonicPort, which goes into the iPad via the lightning connector, and then to BIAS, the amp modeling software. So when I strum a chord on the guitar, I should hear sound immediately—any delay is called latency and really messes with your ability to play or record. I experienced no latency with either iPad in my tests.
To be honest, I’m not really surprised I didn’t have any problems. When I saw the Pixelmator guys demoing Pixelmator for iPad during the event last week, I knew this was a powerful device—that was a really impressive demo that had everyone in the crowd clapping.
The iPad Air 2 is thinner than its predecessor and while it’s only by a little bit, it does make a difference. The hardware design is slightly different and when combined with the thinness, the iPad Air 2 feels very comfortable to hold and use.
There is one really odd thing that I found when using the new iPads. Since I started using the iPhone 6, I got used to pressing the sleep button on the side of the device. Now, I’m doing that on the iPad, except the iPad’s sleep button is still on the top—it hasn’t changed. Instead of putting the iPad to sleep, I turn up the volume.
It’s a small thing, I know, but it’s an annoying lack of consistency across the product lines. I almost feel like the Sleep button will become my new nemesis now that the iPad has Touch ID.
Of course there is more to the new iPads than hardware—iOS 8.1 was also released bring deeper integration between OS X Yosemite and iOS. My two favorite features are Instant Hotspot and Handoff.
I had a few problems setting up Instant Hotspot, which is odd because it’s not supposed to need any configuration, but yet it didn’t work reliably for me. I mean that it didn’t show up consistently in the “Personal Hotspot” space under the Mac’s Wi-Fi menu. What’s even stranger is that it acted differently uses two different Macs—on one the hotspots showed up like they used to, as a regular Wi-Fi network.
Whatever was causing the problem fixed itself because as of tonight, it’s working perfectly. I could easily chalk this one up to user error, but it does bother me that I don’t know why it didn’t show up properly.
Handoff is a brilliant idea. It allows you to start your work on one device, and then pick it up on another just by choosing the app. All of the work magically appears on your new device and you just keep working.
Like Instant Hotspot, Handoff is a feature that I’ll be using a lot.
I said on Amplified last week that if all Apple did to the iPad was add Touch ID, I’d be happy—that’s what they did with the iPad mini, and to be honest, I’m happy. They did much more than that to the iPad Air 2 and it’s working perfectly for me.
I will continue using both iPads because they both have a place in my lifestyle and workflow. At the end of the day, I still use the iPad Air for the larger screen, while I use the iPad mini when I go out for a coffee and need to be a bit more portable. That’s not going to change any time soon.
The iPad created and made popular a market for powerful, portable tablets. The latest updates, along with iOS 8.1 and the App Store ecosystem, only solidifies Apple’s position as the No. 1 tablet-maker in the world.
Just no words to describe this video. It’s incredibly creepy, yet compelling. Amazing CGI work.
From Apple’s official press release:
Strong iPhone, Mac & App Store Sales Drive Record September Quarter Revenue & Earnings
CUPERTINO, California—October 20, 2014—Apple® today announced financial results for its fiscal 2014 fourth quarter ended September 27, 2014. The Company posted quarterly revenue of $42.1 billion and quarterly net profit of $8.5 billion, or $1.42 per diluted share. These results compare to revenue of $37.5 billion and net profit of $7.5 billion, or $1.18 per diluted share, in the year-ago quarter. Gross margin was 38 percent compared to 37 percent in the year-ago quarter. International sales accounted for 60 percent of the quarter’s revenue.
Apple’s board of directors has declared a cash dividend of $.47 per share of the Company’s common stock. The dividend is payable on November 13, 2014, to shareholders of record as of the close of business on November 10, 2014.
“Our fiscal 2014 was one for the record books, including the biggest iPhone launch ever with iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “With amazing innovations in our new iPhones, iPads and Macs, as well as iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, we are heading into the holidays with Apple’s strongest product lineup ever. We are also incredibly excited about Apple Watch and other great products and services in the pipeline for 2015.”
“Our strong business performance drove EPS growth of 20 percent and a record $13.3 billion in cash flow from operations in the September quarter,” said Luca Maestri, Apple’s CFO. “We continued to execute aggressively against our capital return program, spending over $20 billion in the quarter and bringing cumulative returns to $94 billion.”
Apple is providing the following guidance for its fiscal 2015 first quarter:
• revenue between $63.5 billion and $66.5 billion
• gross margin between 37.5 percent and 38.5 percent
• operating expenses between $5.4 billion and $5.5 billion
• other income/(expense) of $325 million
• tax rate of 26.5 percent
You can listen to the call here.
You can read a transcript of the call here (Seeking Alpha, free reg-wall).
The Washington Post ran a sensationalistic story this morning that claimed Apple would have user’s location, unique identifying codes and search terms when using Spotlight in OS X Yosemite and iOS 8.
The function is part of Spotlight search, which was updated with last week’s launch of new Mac computers and Apple’s latest operating system, Yosemite OS X, which also is available for download to owners of older machines. Once Yosemite is installed, users searching for files – even on their own hard drives — have their locations, unique identifying codes and search terms automatically sent to the company, keystroke by keystroke. The same is true for devices using Apple’s latest mobile operating system, iOS 8.
There’s only one problem with the story—it’s not true.
On iOS 8, here’s what Apple actually gets (PDF document):
To make suggestions more relevant to users, Spotlight Suggestions includes user context and search feedback with search query requests sent to Apple.
Context sent with search requests provides Apple with: i) the device’s approximate location; ii) the device type (e.g., Mac, iPhone, iPad, or iPod); iii) the client app, which is either Spotlight or Safari; iv) the device’s default language and region settings; v) the three most recently used apps on the device; and vi) an anonymous session ID. All communication with the server is encrypted via HTTPS.
To help protect user privacy, Spotlight Suggestions never sends exact location, instead blurring the location on the client before sending. The level of blurring is based on estimated population density at the device’s location; for instance, more blurring is used in a rural location versus less blurring in a city center where users will typically be closer together. Further, users can disable the sending of all location information to Apple in Settings, by turning off Location Services for Spotlight Suggestions. If Location Services is disabled, then Apple may use the client’s IP address to infer an approximate location.
The anonymous session ID allows Apple to analyze patterns between queries conducted in a 15-minute period. For instance, if users frequently search for “Café phone number” shortly after searching for “Café,” Apple may learn to make the phone number more available in results. Unlike most search engines, however, Apple’s search service does not use a persistent personal identifier across a user’s search history to tie queries to a user or device; instead, Apple devices use a temporary anonymous session ID for at most a 15-minute period before discarding that ID.
Apple has posted its privacy policies on its Web site, so you can see exactly how they feel about it any time you want.
The fact is, Apple doesn’t collect data about its customers like other companies do, like say, Google. Apple sells products, not advertisements or customer data. By anonymizing the data it receives, Apple is able to make the operating system work better for you, while maintaining your privacy.