April 23, 2016

In the race to develop self-driving cars, the United States and Europe lead in technology, but China is coming up fast in the outside lane with a regulatory structure that could put it ahead in the popular adoption of autonomous cars on its highways and city streets.

I’m not surprised at all. This is going to be an interesting battle over the next 5 years or so.

April 22, 2016

Apple:

Starting June 1, 2016, all new watchOS apps submitted to the App Store must be native apps built with the watchOS 2 SDK or later.

Yes. Please.

Dio: The Last in Line

This is one of my favorite Dio songs. Such a simple beat, but damn this song rocks.

“Microsoft has agreed to withdraw its regulatory complaints against Google, reflecting our changing legal priorities. We will continue to focus on competing vigorously for business and for customers,” a Microsoft spokesperson said in an email.

Google, in a separate email, said the companies would want to compete vigorously based on the merits of their products, not in “legal proceedings”.

Farrelltron Graphics:

Insanely rare video of the now iconic ballad “Purple Rain” live in 1983 at First Avenue in Minneapolis. This is the first time the song Purple Rain was ever performed live and this performance was the bare bones used on the album and in the movie.

This was Prince’s signature song. The video is fascinating especially if you watch the movie afterwards, as I did last night. You can definitely hear how the audio from this video is used in the movie. Speaking of the movie, as I said on Twitter last night, “I learned something disturbing tonight I didn’t know 30 years ago. “Purple Rain” has some classic tunes but it’s a crappy movie.” It really is poorly acted. But the musical performances more than make up for the deficiencies.

Hey Liam, what are you doing for Earth Day?

Siri and Liam, together for Earth Day. Can it last?

John Vettese, writing for WXPN Music Notes:

there was once a time when The Boss was just a young dude with a guitar and a dream. We hear that in this recording of his first-ever radio appearance, on WBCN in Boston on January 9, 1973. It might just be my favorite Springsteen rarity – I love how giddy and unsteady he sounds, the breezy saxophone commentary from Clarence Clemons, the way they effortlessly play off one another. Does this outdo the album version on Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.? Perhaps.

A Springsteen fan? Then you’ll love this.

[H/T Brother Stu]

Jason Kottke lays out, visually, that Apple, Reebok, and TrapperKeeper all used the exact same font at one point in time. Fascinating.

From the Google Search blog:

Last year we launched video actions in Search to help viewers find direct options to watch the shows they are looking for on programmer and distributors mobile apps and sites or stores like Google Play.

Today, I’m excited to announce that, coming soon, Google Search will have live TV listings. So now when you’re looking for The Big Bang Theory, we’ll not only show you the apps and sites where you can find the latest episode, but also show which channel you can turn your tv to later in the evening or week to catch it live.

This is a solid step in the right direction. Personally, I’d love to see an all-in-one guide, with links to imDB or Rotten Tomatoes ratings, and notifications for when a show is on your specific cable/Apple TV/Amazon Video setup.

One service I used to use is LocateTV, which (until it shutdown recently) let me build a list of movies I want to watch and notified me when the movie was on my cable system. This was also a step in the right direction, hate to see it go. I’d love to see something better emerge from the ashes.

And how about a Siri API to drive it all.

Siri, let me know when Horace and Pete is available on Netflix

That is something I really need to know.

Nevan King does a fantastic job speculating on Siri’s process and explaining the concept of an API (Application Programming Interface, the code that lets one program interface with and control another). The thing I love about this piece is that you don’t need to be a programmer to make your way through it. All you need is a user level understanding of Siri and iOS.

If you are at all interested in Siri’s process, and how it could work eventually, I highly recommend this read.

AnandTech does their typical great job digging into the details. In this case, Brandon Chester keeps the focus on the 9.7″ iPad Pro display, looking at things like DCI-P3 gamut support and the underpinnings of True Tone.

New York Times:

Last week, Apple’s iBooks Store and iTunes Movies were shut down in China, just six months after they were started there. Initially, Apple apparently had the government’s approval to introduce the services. But then a regulator, the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, asserted its authority and demanded the closings, according to two people who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

“We hope to make books and movies available again to our customers in China as soon as possible,” an Apple spokeswoman said in a statement.

This is troubling. Apple needs China for growth, and they need an entire intact ecosystem to keep customers coming back for more. Hopefully, this is a short term political disagreement that can be solved through negotiation.

Apple and Earth Day

Today is Earth Day. Apple celebrated, in part, with the video embedded below.

This is the kind of video that Apple really does well. There’s a cute tagline:

Every time you send an iMessage, you’re showing some love for the Earth.

Terrific music that times out perfectly, flowing in and out with the scene elements, with a solid upbeat rhythm. High resolution animation that reflects the Apple and iOS aesthetic.

A great message, well put together. Perfect for Earth Day.

April 21, 2016

Dan Moren:

But. My chief frustration—and what keeps me from using more of the service’s functionality—is that the only way to get at the features is via my computer or iOS apps. I can’t stream any of this content where I watch most things: my TV.

That may be changing, though.

I read Dan’s piece with a lot of interest. This could be a great app for a lot of people on Apple TV. Comcast seems to want to do something to get the FCC off its back, and this could be it.

Marco Arment:

While a good search-ad system could benefit the App Store, customers, and many of us, nothing in Apple’s track record suggests that they’re willing or able to do this well.

But a bad search-ad system, on top of bad search, will only further damage the App Store, funnel more of our already slim margins back into Apple like a massive regressive tax, and erode customers’ confidence in installing new apps.

I’ll be honest: I can’t imagine a scenario where this would go well.

The paywalled report claims that the fighting is holding back Apple from fixing “technical problems that have plagued iCloud and iTunes,” while at least one key engineering manager is said to have departed the company over the ongoing conflict.

Political infighting is the worst.

FY 16 Second Quarter Results Apple’s second quarter earnings announcement has been rescheduled to Tuesday, April 26, at 2:00 p.m. PT/5:00 p.m. ET out of respect for the friends and family of Bill Campbell, whose memorial service will be held Monday. Apple executives and employees will be attending the service to remember Bill and his many years of friendship and service to the Apple community.

Very classy.

MacBook reviews like this piss me off

Reviews in the tech industry are hit or miss at best—we can all agree on that. Sometimes a review comes out that I just don’t get at all. Mashable’s review of the latest MacBook is one such review for me.

I should say that I don’t have one of the new MacBooks, so I haven’t used it, but I do use the last generation every single day and love it.

The most upsetting news is the new MacBook still has a single USB-C port.

That’s not the least bit upsetting—that’s the best news of all. MacBook appeals to a lot of different people, me included, that don’t need more than one port. I don’t want the laptop any bigger just to fit another port or two.

I don’t plug my iPhone into the computer, I don’t plug my iPad into the computer–I don’t plug anything into the MacBook other than the power cord.

If you need a computer with multiple ports, Apple has those. Perhaps the MacBook isn’t for you, but it’s perfect for me.

The reviewer shows a picture of trying to plug a keyboard, mouse and an iPhone into one USB-C to illustrate why he needs multiple ports. He’s either being deliberately obtuse, trying to misled his readers, or he’s never heard of Bluetooth.

Besides, most people wouldn’t need to plug an external keyboard into laptop that already has a keyboard, although I understand some do.

Though I would have liked to see a bigger boost in performance than just a 20% faster processing, 25% faster graphics and extra hour of battery life, I also would have liked it if the laptop was capable of editing 4K video. Why is it the iPad Pro can edit multiple streams of 4K footage, but the MacBook can’t? It’s embarrassing.

And I want a fucking unicorn. 20% faster processing, 25% faster graphics, and an extra hour of battery? Sold!

I’ve run Pro Tools on a MacBook Air from a couple of years ago, so I’m not sure what kind of processing power he’s looking for. This MacBook is plenty powerful.

I’ll admit, I don’t know why the iPad Pro can edit multiple streams of 4K video and the MacBook can’t.

I also don’t understand why the 12-inch MacBook is still so damn expensive. $1,300 is far too much for the base model that’s slower and less capable than both the 11-inch and 13-inch MacBook Air. The high-end (non-custom) MacBook Airs are both cheaper than the entry-level MacBook at $1,100 and $1,200, respectively.

Go buy Dell.

If the MacBook is what the future of laptops looks like, it needs to be affordable as well. And for the vast majority of potential buyers, it’s not.

No, it doesn’t. It needs to be the best, and I’m pretty damn sure there is not much out there that can outlast Apple’s equipment. I wonder if he’s seen the PC sales numbers for the past few quarters—they’re all down, except Apple.

I also don’t understand…

No, you clearly don’t. That is the most intelligent thing he said in the entire review.

Microsoft Corp’s quarterly adjusted profit missed analysts’ estimates as a continued slump in personal computer sales hurt the company’s core Windows business, sending its shares down 4 percent in extended trading.

Bad day to report earnings.

Google’s parent Alphabet Inc reported a first-quarter adjusted profit that was lower than analysts’ estimates, as cost per clicks fell.

I believe this is only going to get worse.

Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey said on Thursday the agency paid more to get into the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters than he will make in the remaining seven years and four months he has in his job.

According to figures from the FBI and the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, Comey’s annual salary as of January 2015 was $183,300. Without a raise or bonus, Comey will make $1.34 million over the remainder of his job.

I have no issue with that.

NFL:

“I want you to know it’s raining.”

“Yes it’s raining.”

“Are you okay?”

“Can you make it rain harder?”

Right on.

In my opinion, the single greatest, most electrifying Super Bowl halftime show ever performed.

Legendary musician Prince has died, the Associated Press reported Thursday.

So sad.

I’ve been waiting for this! I’m a Les Paul guy, but I think I’m going to try something different and go with the Warhammer Pelham Blue FR this time.

The auto industry is just waiting for someone like Apple

The auto industry has seen a number of disruptive events. For example, big gas guzzlers were pushed out of the way by rising gas prices to make room for smaller, more fuel efficient cars.

But the auto industry remains pretty much intact. They are still mostly sold in dealerships, still a mostly poorly designed capsule that is not particularly easy to reconfigure. Gas mileage is better, but still not nearly as good as it could be. Replacement parts are custom and exorbitantly priced.

Tesla has done a lot to open the door to disruption. They’ve made a retail electric car that people crave. They are bringing that car to the masses with their latest effort. They’ve done an incredible job helping build out an “on the road” charging infrastructure. And their sales model is closer to Apple’s than it is to any traditional automobile manufacturer.

But their cars are still recognizably cars. The major disruption is still to come.

Neil Cybart does a really nice job digging into some of the major elements that make a car a car, exploring ways in which each element is open to change.

Personally, I suspect the thing that will disrupt the auto industry into something truly brand new is the autonomous vehicle.

For the first time, the box on wheels can become a first class compartment, catering strictly to the needs of the passenger, without the need for a front seat dedicated to the driver. That single change is a before and after moment, a chance for a company with a pristine design sense to truly disrupt the auto industry.

Apple certainly has the design sense to create a uniquely beautiful, fantastically functional vehicle. If they throw their lot in with Tesla, together they can make vast (and sorely needed) improvements to the charging infrastructure. I’m looking forward to placing my order.

Jason Koebler, writing for Motherboard:

You may have seen a viral headline floating around over the last few days: Apple recycled $40 million worth of gold last year, which was extracted from iPhones. Almost none of what was reported is true.

A bold claim. But he backs it up with some pretty solid reasoning.

Federico Viticci, writing for MacStories:

Every year, I put together a list of the changes I’d like to see in the next version of iOS. I’ve been doing this for several years now. This year, I wanted to prepare something bigger. The tenth version of iOS due to be released later this year will be a major milestone for Apple and iOS users. It only felt appropriate to celebrate the occasion with a different take on my annual iOS wish list.

For the past few months, I’ve been collaborating with Sam Beckett (author of a fantastic Control Center concept we linked to a while back) to visualize my iOS 10 wishes with a professional concept video and static mockups. Sam and I discussed my ideas for a couple of months, and he was able to visualize2 what I would like to have in iOS 10 – both for the iPhone and iPad – with a style and attention to detail I’m extremely happy with.

Below, you’ll find a collection of my iOS 10 wishes, organized in tentpole features (the ones also shown in the video) plus additional sub-sections. Some of these wishes have been on my list for years; others are a consequence of the features Apple shipped with iOS 9.

I absolutely love this piece. Take a minute to watch the video, embedded below. Federico and Sam Beckett did an amazing job visualizing iOS elements that do not exist in real life, making them seem as if they did exist. Incredible.

As you watch, keep in mind that these are just some of Federico’s concepts. The article lays them all out. What a mind.

From the Reserve Strap blog:

In recent WatchOS releases, Apple made the decision to remove all functionality from Apple Watch’s accessory port thereby blocking Reserve Strap’s ability to charge the Apple Watch. This was a deviation from how the port functioned in all previous WatchOS releases and appears to have been a deliberate effort to block development of third party smartbands.

This action was surprising given that prior to this WatchOS update, Apple had been an advocate of our product–going as far as inviting us to Cupertino to show them early prototypes as well as placing pre-orders for many Reserve Straps. Additionally, Apple continues to run old versions of WatchOS on their in-store kiosks in order to utilize the functionality of the accessory port.

Wow.

This is an old anecdote, but it’s been making its way around the internet the past few days and it’s the first time I’ve seen it.

Tomas Higbey:

I worked at NeXT the summer of 94. I was in the break room with 2 colleagues when Jobs walked in and started making a bagel. We were sitting at a table eating ours when he out of the blue asked us “Who is the most powerful person in the world?” I said Mandela since I had just been there as an international observer for the elections. In his confident fashion he stated “NO!…you are all wrong…the most powerful person in the world is the story teller.” At this point I was thinking to myself “Steve, I love you but there is a fine line between genius and loco..and I think I am witnessing this right now”. Steve continued, “The storyteller sets the vision, values and agenda of an entire generation that is to come and Disney has a monopoly on the storyteller business. You know what? I am tired of that bullshit, I am going to be the next storyteller” and he walked out with his bagel.

The story takes place in 1994. Toy Story was released in 1995. Is this true? Apocryphal? No matter, it is a good story.