January 12, 2017

Apple Campus 2, January drone footage

Lots of rain and water accumulation. Should help point out any leaks before all the finish work is done. Still a fair amount of work to do, but things are really taking shape.

Mac Rumors:

In the U.S. last month, an estimated 75% of revenue from headphones sold online came from wireless models, up from 50% in December 2015, according to Slice Intelligence. Apple’s new AirPods led the way, capturing an estimated 26% share of online revenue in the wireless headphone market since launching on December 13.

And:

AirPods stole the top spot from Beats, which took an estimated 15.4% of online revenue in the wireless headphone market, down from 24.1% between the start of 2015 and December 13. Given it owns Beats, Apple appears to have actually taken nearly 40% of online revenue in the market since launching AirPods.

I regularly see Apple’s traditional white EarPods as well as Beats over ear headphones out in public. But I have yet to see a single pair of AirPods in the wild. I expect this is wave, still too far from shore to see. Could also be a sign that people tend to use AirPods in more private settings.

But given the huge sales numbers, I think this will change, especially in cold weather climates as Spring arrives and more and more people are hanging around outside.

Jeremy Burge, Emojipedia:

The Google design team were months ahead of Apple with new emoji in the past year. Support for the latest emojis came to Android in the major Nougat release in August of 2016.

Yet the vast majority of Android users still can’t see these new emojis.

What they see, instead, are empty rectangles. Why? Lack of timely Android updates.

New emojis are bundled with system updates for iOS and Android, as emoji fonts and relevant Unicode support is provided at an OS level1.

This system should work well, but the weak link is relying on manufacturers to provide updates in a timely manner.

Vlad Savov reported in September2: most phones at IFA (large tech show in Europe) were running a year-old version of Android.

And:

These aren’t old phones not getting updates: they’re brand new phones running an out of date OS. It’s not a good sign.

Great post from someone who really knows the emoji business. One takeaway? Know that if you are including emoji in a text heading to an Android phone, the recipient might be getting rectangles.

Horace Dediu, Asymco:

In its first 10 years, the iPhone will have sold at least 1.2 billion units, making it the most successful product of all time. The iPhone also enabled the iOS empire which includes the iPod touch, the iPad, the Apple Watch and Apple TV whose combined total unit sales will reach 1.75 billion units over 10 years. This total is likely to top 2 billion units by the end of 2018.

And:

The revenues from iOS product sales will reach $980 billion by middle of this year. In addition to hardware Apple also books iOS services revenues (including content) which have totaled more than $100 billion to date.

This means that iOS will have generated over $1 trillion in revenues for Apple sometime this year.

Simply remarkable.

January 11, 2017

A spate of top engineers have left Apple for Tesla and other companies over the last few months. What’s going on?

The moves to Tesla are certainly interesting, but I wouldn’t read too much into the overall trend. Apple gains and loses people all the time and we never hear about it. It’s always been like this.

The Verge:

This week marks the 10th anniversary of the original iPhone introduction, and with it, a flood of stories about the design and development of the device. One video from Sonny Dickson, showing what looks like an iPod interface with a virtual click wheel, has attracted a ton of attention, since the longstanding story has been that two teams inside Apple competed to make the iPhone — one to turn the iPod into a phone, and the other to shrink OS X to work on a mobile device.

Not so, says Tony Fadell, who led the iPod team at Apple and then the iPhone team. He called me from the Detroit Auto Show, where he’s presenting on panels related to autonomous cars, to clarify what we’re seeing here.

We’ve all seen that video so it’s great to hear from someone involved as to the story behind it and the early iPhone development.

Paul Kent:

I’m organizing this dinner to honor our friend Sal Soghoian. We’ll be toasting Sal’s career while at Apple and wishing him well as he gets ready to write the next chapter! We’ll have a cocktail hour, a meal together and a chance to tell Sal how much we appreciate his contributions to the Apple user community. Your fee covers the cost of the meal (tax and gratuity included!), EventBrite fees, and chips in $5 for Sal and Naomi’s dinner. It will be a great night honoring a great guy who’s given so much to the Apple community.

I’ve known Sal for years and there is no better person in the Mac Community. I wish I could go to this event.

Digg:

These days, you can do pretty much anything with CGI (sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s… not). But back in the early days of movies, filmmakers had to be a lot more creative about they filmed stunts. This collection from silentmoviegifs explains how some impressive scenes from movies by the likes of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton were achieved — our personal favorite is the Chaplin rollerskating scene.

Today, it seems like anything that can be imagined can be done through CGI but in the days of silent films, they had to use old school technology to create the “special” effects.

In Fender Collection 2 you’ll get all of the glorious “tweeds” from the ’57 Custom Series, a refined, player-centric take on a classic platform that includes the ’57 Deluxe, the ’57 Champ, ’57 Pro, ’57 Twin and ’57 Bandmaster.

Plus you get a spot-on model of an original 1953 Bassman and a 1965 blackface Super Reverb.

It’s hard to argue how iconic some of these amps are. IK has done a great job in the past bringing some of the most sought after amps to the public in its AmpliTube products.

Somewhat buried in Jason Snell’s iPhone 10th birthday celebration writeup was this wonderful picture.

There’s the incredibly intense look on Steve’s face. And the fact that this is one of the last such events where none of the pictures was taken using an iPhone.

Gregg Keizer, Computerworld:

Apple will steal a march on Microsoft this year when for the first time this century shipments of devices powered by its operating systems outnumber those running Windows, research firm Gartner said today.

In 2017, Apple’s combination of iOS and macOS — the former on iPhones and iPads, the latter on Macs — will take second place from Windows on the devices shipped during the year. The gap between the two will widen in 2018 and 2019, with Apple ahead of Microsoft both years.

Not terribly surprising, given the rise of mobile and Apple’s dominance in that space. But still, just a little bit satisfying.

Not clear from the article but, presumably, first place is held by Android.

Family sharing is extremely useful. Use it to share music, apps, photos, and even a calendar. No blood test required.

Nice job laying this out by The App Factor.

This is cool. iFixit pulled together a single page, scrolling gallery of 10 years of iPhone teardowns, from the original iPhone all the way to the iPhone 7 Plus.

Definitely worth a look.

DSL Reports:

AT&T continues to quickly hike the cost of unlimited data in order to drive its dwindling grandfathered unlimited data users to metered plans. Users in our forums say they’re being notified of a $5 bump in the cost of unlimited data starting in March of 2017. The hike would be the second such hike in as many years, after AT&T bumped the cost of unlimited data last February.

Back in the early days of the iPhone, success for AT&T was no guarantee. To help bring customers to the fold, AT&T offered unlimited data plans for a limited time.

These plans have been “grandfathered” since then, but AT&T has made a number of efforts to wean customers off those unlimited plans to more traditional metered data plans. These efforts continue with the coming $5 per month bump.

January 10, 2017

We will start with an overview and work our way to create a Koala in pure CSS.

There’s also a video you can watch as well as the written instructions.

We would like to welcome Chris Lattner, who will join Tesla as our Vice President of Autopilot Software. Chris’ reputation for engineering excellence is well known. He comes to Tesla after 11 years at Apple where he was primarily responsible for creating Swift, the programming language for building apps on Apple platforms and one of the fastest growing languages for doing so on Linux.

That explains what happened.

Spotify:

What you’ll do:

Provide world-class leadership to our playlist editors and supporting staff.

Identify and substantiate new playlist ideas, e.g. from a playlist for shooting hoops with your friends, to the perfect warm up playlist for addressing the nation about health care legislation that bears your name.

Who you are:

Have at least eight years experience running a highly-regarded nation.

Familiar with the Spotify platform, with experience in programming playlists at a federal level. Anything from an eclectic summer playlist, to a celebratory, “I just found my birth certificate” playlist.

Can speak passionately about playlists at press events. Let us be clear, you should be nothing short of one of the greatest speakers of all time.

Someone with good team spirit, excellent work ethic, a friendly and warm attitude, and a Nobel Peace Prize.

This is an oddly specific job posting.

The Fraser Canyon when things go sideways

Clayton Brown:

Trucking through the Fraser Canyon when things go sideways. Less than ideal conditions cause multiple problems along this long and narrow highway causing hundreds of motorists to be stranded for hours.

This video, even with its annoying as hell music, shows what truckers go through trying to drive in winter conditions. I don’t envy them. This road is the Trans-Canada Highway about 30 miles east of where I live. I love riding that road in the spring in summer (it’s one of the prettiest in British Columbia) but you couldn’t pay me enough to drive it in the winter.

I’m happy to announce that Ted Kremenek will be taking over for me as “Project Lead” for the Swift project, managing the administrative and leadership responsibility for Swift.org. This recognizes the incredible effort he has already been putting into the project, and reflects a decision I’ve made to leave Apple later this month to pursue an opportunity in another space.

As Gruber says, I’d love to know what the other opportunity is.

Over the years, Sonos has weathered competition from better known rivals like Apple and Bose to find a devoted audience among audio enthusiasts. But lately its wireless speaker has lost ground to an unexpected competitor, Amazon’s Echo.

Now it faces another challenge: a change in the corner office. After 14 years leading the company he helped found, John MacFarlane has resigned as chief executive of Sonos and has been replaced by one of his deputies, Patrick Spence.

I don’t understand the competition. To me, Sonos and Echo serve different purposes—Sonos is a wonderful wireless speaker system and Echo is more of an assistant.

China’s largest mobile social media network WeChat is offering its 768 million users a function which allows them to by-pass app stores such as Apple’s.

I’m not really clear on how they implemented this, but bypassing the App Store is certainly not something Apple is likely to look kindly on.

Popular Mechanics:

Despite what you heard, the Amish aren’t against technology. Communities adopt new gadgets such as fax machines and business-use cell phones all the time—so long as the local church approves each one ahead of time, determining that it won’t drastically change their way of life.

So it is with the Amish horse-drawn buggy. You might have thought the technology inside this 1800s method of transportation stopped progressing right around then. Instead, buggy tech keeps advancing, and buggy makers have become electricians and metalworkers to build in all the new tech you can’t see under the traditional black paint.

As a Nova Scotianer, I’d never seen an Amish buggy until, while riding my motorcycle through Pennsylvania, I came through a curve and saw a large pile of “dirt” in the middle of my line. Rear tire hit the dirt and squirted out from under me. Freaked me out. I looked behind me and realized it wasn’t dirt but horse manure. As I got ready for the next curve, I thought, “Where the hell did that come from?” Looking through the curve ahead, I saw the buggy in the road and literally laughed out loud. I slowed and came up behind the buggy and saw two small children in the back, facing rearward. It was a “buggy station wagon”! The kids waved to me, I waved back and then passed the buggy, still laughing inside my helmet.

Apple comments on Consumer Reports faulty MacBook Pro tests

Back in December, Consumer Reports issued a statement saying they could not recommend Apple’s new MacBook Pro because the latest batch of MacBook Pro laptops exhibited “battery life results (that) were highly inconsistent from one trial to the next.”

Many people saw issues with the tests as soon as they were published, and as it turns out, they were right. Consumer Reports were using hidden settings meant for developers, instead of using the normal settings that people use everyday, to test the battery.

“We appreciate the opportunity to work with Consumer Reports over the holidays to understand their battery test results,” Apple said in a statement provided to The Loop. “We learned that when testing battery life on Mac notebooks, Consumer Reports uses a hidden Safari setting for developing web sites which turns off the browser cache. This is not a setting used by customers and does not reflect real-world usage. Their use of this developer setting also triggered an obscure and intermittent bug reloading icons which created inconsistent results in their lab. After we asked Consumer Reports to run the same test using normal user settings, they told us their MacBook Pro systems consistently delivered the expected battery life. We have also fixed the bug uncovered in this test. This is the best pro notebook we’ve ever made, we respect Consumer Reports and we’re glad they decided to revisit their findings on the MacBook Pro.”

Consumer Reports updated their MacBook Pro page, but they are blaming the bug for the previous faulty results. The true problem was their methodology.

Bohemian Rhapsody played by 100+ year old fairground organ

This is a pretty amazing mechanism.

The Mac and the mouse cursor

Rob Rhyne (via DF) asked the question:

If you could take only one device with you, which one would you take? Ben Brooks or Federico Viticci would almost certainly choose an iPad.

However, I’d take a Mac. Exactly the 11-inch MacBook Air, which I’m using to write this article.

John Gruber responded:

If I could only use one device, it’d be a 13-inch MacBook Pro. I bet a lot of people would pick an iPhone, though.

I’d take a MacBook Pro. I do too much that depends on the extra horsepower. That said, it’d be awful difficult to get past the basic need for a phone. Either choice would leave me without some basic functionality. The Mac and iPhone together fill my every device need.

That said, I read about another interesting thought experiment, posed by Mark Hibber (Seeking Alpha):

It would be so simple, if Apple just allowed iOS to support a mouse or trackpad driven cursor. Then iPads and iPhones really could begin to replace PCs. Then iOS really could be a viable option for professionals. Then the iPhone could finally realize its potential.

Why is cursor support so important? If the reader hasn’t tried this experiment, just go ahead and try it and you’ll see what I mean. Connect your iPhone or iPad to an external monitor (either through an adapter or through AirPlay). Great, you now have a mirror of what you have on your little iOS device. Now try to use it for something other than watching a movie, such as using one of Apple’s productivity apps from iWork.

You’ll figure it out right away. It’s mostly an unworkable arrangement, because all your user inputs have to go through the iDevice. You can’t see what you’re doing on the external monitor, so you constantly have to glance down at the iOS device. That’s the whole beauty of the cursor: You can see where you’re pointing without looking at the pointing device.

To me, this gets to the core difference between macOS and iOS, between my MacBook Pro and my iPhone/iPad. The cursor is a useful placeholder. It marks my spot, but also lets me keep my eyes glued to the screen while I drag and drop and mouse around with my hands. This really becomes an issue when the screen gets too large for my lap.

I don’t see Apple getting rid of the mouse cursor model. My gut here? Apple will either keep the Mac and iPad separate, as it is now, or will migrate the mouse to the iPad (as Microsoft and others have done).

Gartner:

Advances in various technologies will drive users to interact with their smartphones in more intuitive ways, said Gartner, Inc. Gartner predicts that, by 2019, 20 percent of all user interactions with the smartphone will take place via virtual personal assistants (VPAs).

And:

Apple’s Siri and Google Now are currently the most widely used VPAs on smartphones. Fifty-four percent of U.K. and U.S. respondents used Siri in the last three months. Google Now is used by 41 percent of U.K. respondents and 48 percent of U.S. respondents.

Interesting that Apple has not joined the Amazon Echo and Google Home party. The trend for voice is clearly rising. Though my Apple Watch is always listening, there is a core difference between Siri and Echo/Home. While both are always on, Echo and Home are more traditionally conversational. I ask about the weather and a voice responds, all without my having to tilt my watch to look at the screen or pull my iPhone out of my pocket.

Will Apple go this route?

Good tutorial for folks new to the Mac.

Short answer:

There was no USB-C back in 2012 when Apple shipped Lightning on iPhone 5. It didn’t exist. The spec wasn’t even finalized until August of 2014.

But there’s more to this article. I especially appreciate the overlay showing the relative footprints of USB-A, USB-C, and Lightning.

Will the iPhone ever move to USB-C?

USB-C would require another port change for customers. Many people weren’t very happy with the last one, and Lightning was 10 years after Dock. It’s only been 5 years since Lightning. And in that time, with hundreds of millions of devices on the market, Lightning has become ubiquitous enough that everyone has it, typically in abundance.

Interesting that the Mac has made the first move, going all-in on USB-C. I wonder if there’s a prototype USB-C iPhone floating around an Apple campus somewhere.

In the just-released Greenpeace report, Clicking Green: Who is winning the race to build a green internet?, Apple simply crushes it.

Through page after page of detailed analysis, Apple comes out on top, and usually by a pretty fair margin. Apple should be very proud of these results.

If you want to cut right to the chase, scroll to page 46 for an alphabetical walk through all company scores. Compare Amazon’s individual category grades (they got an overall C) with Apple (one of the few companies that got an overall A).

Nice job, Apple.

January 9, 2017

Jim Dalrymple returns to the show for the first episode of 2017. Topics include New Year’s Eve, Siri/Alexa/Google Assistant, Apple’s aging AirPort and Mac Pro lineups, the future of desktop Macs, Apple Watch battery life, and rumors of upcoming new iPads.

I always have so much fun doing Gruber’s show.