May 23, 2016

Rather than focusing on the incremental innovation needed to win back the attention of enterprise users and premium consumers, Google’s vision for Android this year has again leapt in new directions which appear even less attainable. Android’s scattered, imitative strategies du jour are resulting in a platform that looks a lot like Apple’s—albeit the very unsuccessful Apple of the mid 90s.

This is a really interesting article from Daniel Eran Dilger. It will certainly be interesting to see what Apple does at WWDC.

i.am+, the company founded by musician will.i.am, recently announced the launch of its new i.am+ EPs, a set of premium Bluetooth earphones that are available exclusively from Apple retail stores and Apple.com.

Something about this strikes me as odd. The rumors of Apple releasing their own wireless headphones, Apple owning Beats, all of that. I don’t know.

Using Apple Music’s “A-List” to find new music

I mentioned in a previous article how I was using Apple Music’s curated radio stations (specifically the Hard Rock station) to find new music on the service. For the last little while, I’ve also been using Apple Music’s “A-List: Hard Rock” as a way to find music.

The curated Hard Rock station is a mix of songs–some you know, others that will be brand new to you. It’s a great way to listen to music if you want some familiarity, along with a mix of songs that Apple deems to be the best of the new music.

The “A-List: Hard Rock” is a playlist, not a station, and it’s focused only on new music. After looking at the list of songs, I found that many of the new songs I found on the Hard Rock station were listed here–and I found a few others too.

“A-List: Hard Rock” is basically a shortcut into finding the newest Hard Rock trends. What’s more, Apple has “A-List” playlists for many of the music genres, so you can pick your favorite by going to “New > Genre” and have a listen.

I’m not always in the mood to just listen to new music–most of the time, the Hard Rock station suits my needs with a mix of both. When I really want to listen to mostly songs I know, I’ll start my own station based on one of my favorite songs.

Whatever your listening habits, you can find new music on Apple Music using the curated stations or the “A-List” playlists.

The punch and musical character offered by the Neve EQs, compressors, and preamps have left their mark on legendary pop, rock, and hip-hop albums for over 40 years.

I’m one of those that loves what Neve gear brings to the sound of an album.

Black Stone Cherry: Blind Man

I love this band.

Great article. I can’t remember a time when podcasters, me included, haven’t complained about Skype.

Spotify has upgraded its family plan, now allowing up to six Premium accounts per family for $14.99 a month. The new plan is a direct match to Apple Music’s family plan — which Google Play also matched back in December — and is a dramatic improvement over Spotify’s old family offering, which would’ve cost users $30 a month for family of five (there was no six-person plan available before today).

Smart move.

Before Auburn decided what to do, the district surveyed grades seven through 12 students and teachers, Auburn School Department Technology Director Peter Robinson told the Auburn School Committee on Wednesday night.

The results were overwhelmingly in favor of laptops: 88.5 percent of teachers and 74 percent of students favored them over iPads.

Interesting that iPads showed great success in lower grades, but the schools said “iPads have shortcomings for older students.”

May 22, 2016

The Washington Post:

The only work he could find was as a night custodian at a local college. It was about a 50 percent pay cut, the work wasn’t stimulating, but the benefits were good. He decided he would take advantage of every free benefit the school offered so it would feel like he was making more money.

So Vaudreuil starting taking undergraduate classes tuition free at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts by day, and cleaning up after his classmates by night.

Nearly a decade after his life unraveled, Vaudreuil graduated on May 14 with a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering.

Someone hand me a tissue. I think I’ve got something in my eye.

The Outbound:

Based on press releases, we know that the tourist in question encountered a newborn bison in the park, physically put it in his vehicle, and transported it to a park ranger facility because he thought it was cold. The man was cited for disturbing wildlife. However, after a two-day attempt by park rangers to reunite the calf with its herd, park officials made the difficult decision to euthanize the animal. These events paint a sad but all too common picture in which humans tampering with wildlife results in detrimental, and often fatal, outcomes for the animal.

First of all, I’m embarrassed that the idiots who did this were Canadian. Secondly, if you have to go out in the woods (and I don’t recommend it), please be aware you are the visitor/intruder and leave it the same way you found it. That includes not physically interacting with the animals you come across.

May 21, 2016

Apple CEO Tim Cook laid out his company’s plans for the vast Indian market in a meeting Saturday with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who in turn sought Apple’s support for his “Digital India” initiative focusing on e-education, health and increasing farmers’ incomes.

It’s fine that India ask for help from Apple, but the country is going to have to give something too—you can’t ban Apple from selling used iPhones and then ask them for help.

May 20, 2016

Amid a growing number of complaints over iOS 9.3.2 bricking some 9.7-inch iPad Pro models, Apple yesterday pulled the iOS 9.3.2 update. 9.7-inch iPad Pro users who have not installed iOS 9.3.2 no longer see the update, with iOS 9.3.1 now listed as the most current version of iOS 9 available for download.

Very specific problem for one model of the iPad. Weird.

Mr. Cook said he was not chasing market share in India but wanted to partner with telecom operators to enhance the quality of services. “We are in India for the next thousand years. Our horizon is very long. We are focussed on best, not most. So it doesn’t bother me that we don’t have top market share,” he said.

Apple is committed to its new markets, no doubt about that.

Pro Video Coalition:

The plan involved a sequence for the final three minutes of episode 595 (entitled “Simprovised”) that would be acted and animated in real time. The idea was to feature skilled improviser Dan Castellaneta, as Homer Simpson, responding to questions from live callers—real ones, who dialed a toll-free number—as a series of other animations played around him. The beginning and ending lines would be scripted but would still be performed in real time.

I find this an incredible achievement. Imagine an entire episode performed live.

15 years ago yesterday, Steve Jobs introduced the first Apple Store

It is amazing to see how well that design has aged. It’s really the products that show how long ago this was made.

Short version: Turn on Airplane Mode (though not this Airplane Mode – did we mention they’ll be the house band at the 2016 Beard Bash?)

I’m a fan of Apple Support’s Twitter account (@AppleSupport).

I wish there was a way to teach Siri to better understand my pronunciation of other words, like Draymond Green. The technique @AppleSupport shows in the linked tweet works for names in your address book, but not for other names and other words.

The New York Times:

On March 31 the Beijing Higher People’s Court upheld earlier rulings by a lower court and China’s trademark arbitration board that Xintong Tiandi had the right to use “iPhone” for products in Class 18 of the international trademark classification system, since Xintong Tiandi acquired the trademark in 2007 when the iPhone name was “not renowned” in China, the court ruled. Apple has the rights in Class 9, which covers computers and smartphones. Class 18 covers leather goods.

You’ve no doubt heard of that case. But here’s the kicker:

Xintong Tiandi didn’t exist in 2007. A Russian company acquired the rights then and Xintong Tiandi bought the rights from it in 2011, the Chinese company’s lawyer, Xiong Zhi, said in a telephone interview. Public company filings show that Xintong Tiandi was set up in 2011.

Intellectual property protection is critically important for any company that spends money on research and development. From this article from Seeking Alpha [Free Reg-wall]:

It’s probably no coincidence that Apple chose a private company for its first truly major investment in China. By pumping money into an existing firm like Didi with big growth potential, Apple avoided China’s problematic state-run sector and also minimized its risk of intellectual property (IP) theft that is rampant in the country. By comparison, India’s receipt of an R&D center plays to its strength as a software development hub, and also its stronger security systems for protecting IP.

And:

Minister Miao Wei was quoted saying he hoped Apple could improve its R&D activities in China and also provide a secure user experience.

Apple is walking a fine line here, opening an R&D center in India and not (at least yet) in China. Tricky business.

The Economic Times of India:

Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan played host to Apple CEO Tim Cook at a private dinner at his home, Mannat, on Wednesday in the presence of Bollywood superstars and celebrities.

And:

Earlier in the evening, Film and TV Producers Guild of India president Mukesh Bhatt took Cook on a tour of the sets of his new horror film Raaz 4 at Mehboob Studio in Mumbai. “People from the Apple group got in touch with me, saying that Tim would not want to skip Bollywood on his first visit to India. I showed him around the sets. He seemed keen to see how Apple could partner with the industry – after all, movies don’t have to be made by just big film producers these days, it can be shot on an iPhone.

Bhatt said Cook asked questions about the studio’s history. “I found him to be down-to-earth, sensitive, passionate. His best quality is that he is a great listener,” said Bhatt, who also attended Shah Rukh’s party later in the night.

Tim Cook is a CEO and an ambassador, doing all he can to open India and China’s doors to Apple.

M.G. Siegler, writing about a closing keynote speech Steve Jobs gave at the 1997 WWDC conference (recalls that Steve Jobs was newly returned to Apple at the time):

It’s almost unbelievable how prescient nearly everything Steve Jobs says here actually is. If not all of it came to pass, nearly all of it did. And he spoke about things in great detail. As Rands notes, Jobs wasn’t underestimating the future, he was writing it, seemingly on the fly in that conversation.

This is one of my favorite Steve Jobs videos. He’s blunt, passionate, and you can feel him pulling this audience along with him.

May 19, 2016

Futurism:

This project was led by prosthetic artist Sophie De Oliveria Brata, founder of the Alternative Limb Project. Open Bionics, another prosthetics company, was in charge of the manufacturing and the 3D printing of the arm’s hands.

At £60,000, this carbon-fiber limb is controlled by muscle signals from James. He can shake hands, lift groceries, and even pick up coins. More excitingly, it features an interactive screen, a flashlight, a USB port for charging phones, and even a drone on the side—all battery powered.

This is insanely cool. Not cool enough that I’d want to try it but still pretty cool.

My thoughts on Apple’s new retail store strategy

It’s not often that Apple invites journalists to its stores for a preview anymore, but today was a bit different. Apple not only unveiled its new San Francisco store, it also explained its new strategy for its major retail outlets.

As I sat listening to Angela Ahrendts, Apple’s senior vice president of retail and online stores, it became clear very quickly that Apple kept its attention to detail in the design of the location, but completely rethought how it functioned.

Ahrendts

“Fifteen years ago today Apple opened its first two stores and we’re thrilled to mark the occasion with the opening of Apple Union Square in San Francisco,” said Ahrendts. “We are not just evolving our store design, but its purpose and greater role in the community as we educate and entertain visitors and serve our network of local entrepreneurs.”

Ahrendts said the company even thought about how sections of the Apple stores were named, like the Genius Bar. The word “bar” brings up thoughts of a busy, noisy space—not really what you’re looking for when trying to talk to an expert about your problems.

genius

Apple renamed it the Genius Grove and added trees and seating, which gives it a more relaxed look and feel. It’s calming.

While Ahrendts talked about Jony Ive and some design elements of the store, like the 42 foot tall doors that open 40 feet wide, she focused most of her talk on the “purpose” of the store itself.

In all, Apple said they were unveiling five new features in the San Francisco Apple Store:

“The Avenue,” inspired by the window displays along a boulevard that dynamically change with the season. Avenue walls are interactive themed “windows” where Apple’s products and services come to life, from music, to creativity, apps, photography and more. New “Creative Pros,” Apple experts in creative arts, offer advice and expertise at each of the displays. Customers will also find “Only at Apple” products on the Avenue, a curated collection of third-party accessories.

“Genius Grove” invites customers to get support working side-by-side with Geniuses under the comfortable canopy of local trees in the heart of the store.

“The Forum” is a vibrant gathering place, centered around a 6K Video Wall. It is home to “Today at Apple,” which brings to the community the world’s most talented artists, photographers, musicians, gamers, developers and entrepreneurs to inspire and educate our customers to go further with the things they are passionate about. Today at Apple includes year-round programs for kids, new monthly events for teachers, sessions for current and aspiring developers, Creative Sessions in partnership with local experts in creative arts, Game Night with editors from Apple’s App Store and more. The Forum and Video Wall are a place of discovery, including events about the making of movies from iTunes, or exclusive premieres of new music and music videos from Apple Music.

6KVideoWall

“The Plaza” will be found only at Apple’s most significant stores, including Apple Union Square. It’s open to the public 24 hours a day, features public Wi-Fi and seating, and takes Today at Apple outside, with a regular weekend series of well known local acoustic performances such as Travis Hayes and global talents like Escondido, who will then give exclusive interviews about their craft in the Forum. The Plaza at Apple Union Square features a fountain by well-known San Francisco sculptor Ruth Asawa, originally commissioned in 1969, and a new work, “Love” by local artist Laura Kimpton, commissioned by Hyatt Hotels.

plaza

“The Boardroom” is an intimate space where the store’s Business Team offers hands-on advice and training to entrepreneurs, developers and other small and medium business customers.

By looking at the list, it’s easy to say that some of these features have been around for a while—you would be partially correct. The Genius Bar has been a staple of Apple stores for years, but yet, I feel like they are different.

staircase

Apple is becoming a larger part of the communities where they do business. Not just the tech community or for the people that are buying products, but the larger community.

It’s not just Apple, the gigantic company, it’s an individual store, with local people working there, local entrepreneurs presenting, local businesses learning, and local artists inspiring and educating.

The Apple store in San Francisco felt different. It felt good.

Google did not pay to use Oracle’s software in millions of smartphones, but the company believed that the intellectual property was free for anyone to use, Larry Page, chief executive of Google’s parent company, told jurors in court on Thursday.

Page just seems pissed off in his answers.

Vox:

If I tell you to imagine a beach, you can picture the golden sand and turquoise waves. If I ask for a red triangle, your mind gets to drawing. And Mom’s face? Of course.

You experience this differently, sure. Some of you see a photorealistic beach, others a shadowy cartoon. Some of you can make it up, while others only “see” a beach they’ve visited. Some of you have to work harder to paint the canvas. Some of you can’t hang on to the canvas for long. But nearly all of you have a canvas.

I don’t. I have never visualized anything in my entire life. I can’t “see” my father’s face or a bouncing blue ball, my childhood bedroom or the run I went on 10 minutes ago. I thought “counting sheep” was a metaphor. I’m 30 years old, and I never knew a human could do any of this. And it is blowing my goddamn mind.

While I’m not as afflicted as the story’s writer, I have many of the same issues. When I say/type the word “cube”, the vast majority of you will see a three-dimensional cube in your mind’s eye. I don’t have a mind’s eye. I see the actual word “cube”. It’s the only way I can visualize it. It’s probably why I have such an incredibly bad sense of direction. I can’t visualize the three-dimensionality of geography and place myself spatially. Maps mean nothing to me because I can’t imagine my place in the in the 3D space.

Vanishing New York:

CEO of Tekserve Jerry Gepner got in touch to fill us in on the details. He writes:

“I want to state clearly that Tekserve has no plans to close, but we will morph with the times.”

“We are indeed winding down our retail store operation. This is not due simply to major vendors squeezing margins for their resellers and channel partners, but more down to the changing face of retail in general. Over the past several years, consumer buying habits and options have changed, particularly with respect to consumer electronics. The small specialty retailer is rapidly becoming a thing of the past, and Tekserve is no different in that respect.”

First spotted in a tweet by Arik Hesseldahl, this story, while not unexpected, still makes me sad. Tekserve is one of the few remaining cool, old school, Mac retail stores. They had a fabulous vibe, true nerds behind the counter, a great location and wonderful staff and ownership. While they will stick around, their retail location will be missed.

RSVP for the Beard Bash 2016 at WWDC now open

The Loop and iMore are happy to announce that RSVPs for the Beard Bash 2016 are now open. We have a great night of music and fun planned for the night of June 13, 2016 and we hope you’ll join us.

You must be 21 or older to attend the party because we will be serving alcohol—IDs will be checked at the door. You also must bring your RSVP to the event, which will also be checked at the door. Luckily, the RSVP can be placed in your Apple Wallet on the iPhone. Please arrive early—we expect a large crowd and we want everyone to have a great time.

The party will be held at The Mezzanine in San Francisco, one of the city’s finest live music venues. We will have two bands this year. The party will kick off with a San Francisco staple of rock music, The Department of Rock. This band is a lot of fun and they have an incredible setlist.

The party’s headlining band will be familiar to many of you: Airplane Mode, an indie rock band from New York City. Known for their heavy use of Apple products on-stage, founding members (Dave Wiskus and Joe Cieplinski) have strong ties to the iOS developer community.

The party will be on Monday, June 13, 2016 from 8:00-11:00 pm and we will have free beer and wine available.

We have a few of great sponsors for this years Beard Bash including Pixelmator, MacPaw, Hover, and Microsoft. We thank them for their support and for making this event a reality.

Go get your RSVP!

Apple today announced the opening of a new office in Hyderabad that will focus on development of Maps for Apple products, including iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple Watch. This investment will accelerate Maps development and create up to 4,000 jobs.

“I hope Apple can expand its business in China, deepen its cooperation in research and development and industrial supply chains, and provide a convenient and secure user experience for Chinese consumers,” said Miao Wei, the head of China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT).

Pay us more money.

Z Greth Photo:

The whole point of this is not to show you how to process your own image, but to give you an insight as to my thought process when I’m processing my images. The specifics of each step won’t help you, but hopefully you’ll come to realize that you’re probably having the exact same conversations in your head that I usually am. And at the end of the day, it’s your story to tell…and this was mine.

I love this kind of photography and would love to attempt it someday myself but it can be quite an involved and sometimes complicated process. Thanks very much to @varunorcv for the link.

This is an incredibly well presented oral history of the Run DMC reimagining of Aerosmith’s seminal Walk This Way. From the Washington Post:

It’s 1986. Rap music is explosive and on the rise but still misunderstood and barely represented in the mainstream. The leading innovators are Run-DMC, a trio from Queens who sport black leather jackets and unlaced Adidas sneakers. Two albums into their career, Joseph “Run” Simmons, Darryl “DMC” McDaniels and Jason “Jam Master Jay” Mizell are already minor stars and musical revolutionaries. For their third album, producer Rick Rubin, a 22-year-old white kid from New York University, comes up with a crazy idea: He recruits Steven Tyler and Joe Perry, the leaders of the down-and-out arena-rock group Aerosmith, to collaborate with Run-DMC on a new version of their 1970s staple “Walk This Way.”

The rappers hate the idea. The rockers, struggling with drugs and low record sales, don’t know what to make of Rubin’s pitch. But on a Sunday in March, they meet in a Manhattan recording studio to create what will become one of the most important songs of the modern pop era. This is the oral history of Run-DMC’s cover of “Walk This Way.”

This is a phenomenal presentation, much more than a simple oral history. There’s recently uncovered video from the studio and interview-style comments from the various players woven together as the story unfolds.

If you have even the slightest interest in music history, take the time to make your way through this gem.