June 1, 2018

Jason Kottke:

One of the recurrent topics here at the ol’ dot org is paying our respects to people who are mind-bendingly good at what they do. Case in point: watch this woman turn a magic scarf into about 100 different pieces of clothing in about 90 seconds. Reader, I audibly gasped at ~0:25 when she turned a scarf into a dress in the blink of an eye.

Jason is not wrong. This is hypnotic. The perfect person to sell these.

Good list. Anything they left out? Leave a comment.

iPhone J.D.:

3D Touch was introduced with the iPhone 6s in September 2015, and also works on the iPhone 7, iPhone 8, and the iPhone X (and the Plus variants of those phones). But even though 3D Touch has been around for many years, I talk to many folks who don’t even know that the feature is there. Frankly, I forget about it sometimes too. But there are tons of really useful things that you can do with 3D Touch. Here are a few of my favorites.

3D Touch is, by its nature, only discoverable if you seek it out. Or if you read articles like this one. Short, and worth the scan.

I’m not quoting the Bloomberg article here to avoid spoilers, but follow the headline link if you are interested in a seemingly solid take on what’s coming next week.

Three days until the keynote.

The Japan News:

Canon announced Wednesday it would end sales of its EOS-1v, the last remaining model of film camera that the company has sold in Japan. The company’s film cameras, which symbolize Canon’s old-time roots, will come to the end of their 80-year history.

As Robert Walter put it, this is a sign of the times. To me, this is a domino that is connected to other film cameras, then, eventually, to DSLR cameras as smart phone cameras gain in capability, shrink the market for larger/bulkier cameras.

Not sounding a death knell for DSLRs, just watching the market shrink, squeezing out competitors, triggering consolidation until we just have a one or two players left in the DSLR space.

As is, last year 85% of all photos were taken using smartphones, with only 10.3% taken using traditional digital cameras. If that trend continues, watch for the next domino to fall. Will the next generation know the Nikon/Kodak/Leica brands?

Music Business Worldwide:

Apple has launched a new internal division dedicated to music publishing and music publishers, MBW understands, led by respected exec Elena Segal.

Segal, who was previously Legal Director of iTunes International, is stepping up to become Apple Music’s Global Director of Music Publishing.

And:

MBW hears that the new music publishing team at Apple Music will contain sub-divisions including Operations, Commercial, Publisher Relations and A&R. (The latter refers to assisting the music industry with the development of key songwriters, rather than signing talent directly.)

And from this follow-on post:

A transformation is coming to the way that Apple reports streaming data – both to the industry and to the public via its charts.

And:

The music business has long used Apple’s iTunes download charts as a key barometer of success. Yet it’s fair to say that, in recent years, Spotify’s global and territorial streaming charts have become a more frequent point of reference for labels and artists than Apple Music’s equivalents.

Apple clearly wants to change that.

Interesting. Two sides here: On one side is music publishing. Will this trigger another round of negotiations with Apple Records or does the current deal allow for an Apple music publishing arm?

Will Apple connect their music publishing with their in-the-works video content publishing? Will there be an all-you-can-eat deal, so i can pay one price and get all the music, as well as all the video content?

The other side: The way I read these posts, as well as Apple’s help wanted ad for a Charts & Market Analytics Manager, Apple is modernizing their charts and data sharing, perhaps with an aim of taking on some of the gains Spotify has made in this space.

May 31, 2018

Red Dragon Cartel guitarist Jake E Lee sat down with Charvel to discuss what initially inspired him to want to play guitar (any guesses?) as well as some of his favorite features on his Charvel USA Signature Blue Burst guitar.

I have a lot of respect for Jake and I absolutely love Charvel guitars.

This is pretty clever, both as a product and as a tagline. The AudioMod Qi enabled Battery Case features a 3.5mm headphone jack and a 3200Mah battery.

Price is $88. I’m going to get one, take it for a spin. Good idea.

[H/T Ryan Mark]

The Telegraph:

A teenage girl used Apple’s Find My iPhone app to help her secret boyfriend rescue her from a forced marriage thousands of miles away in Bangladesh.

A court heard her parents tricked her into going on a sham holiday from their home in Leeds, West Yorks, as part of a plot to force her to marry her cousin.

And:

Details of her rescue by British authorities emerged at Leeds Crown Court. They were able locate her after she secretly contacted her boyfriend of eight months in the UK before the wedding took place.

The girl, now 19, used the Find My iPhone app and Instagram locations to secretly alert her boyfriend back in the UK, who she hadn’t told her family about.

Find My iPhone is a huge win for Apple customers. Wondering if someone is, as you read this, pitching this story as a blockbuster movie.

New York Times:

The company’s relationship with the Defense Department since it won a share of the contract for the Maven program, which uses artificial intelligence to interpret video images and could be used to improve the targeting of drone strikes, has touched off an existential crisis, according to emails and documents reviewed by The Times as well as interviews with about a dozen current and former Google employees.

And:

Executives at DeepMind, an A.I. pioneer based in London that Google acquired in 2014, have said they are completely opposed to military and surveillance work, and employees at the lab have protested the contract. The acquisition agreement between the two companies said DeepMind technology would never be used for military or surveillance purposes.

About a dozen Google employees have resigned over the issue, which was first reported by Gizmodo. One departing engineer petitioned to rename a conference room after Clara Immerwahr, a German chemist who killed herself in 1915 after protesting the use of science in warfare. And “Do the Right Thing” stickers have appeared in Google’s New York City offices, according to company emails viewed by The Times.

And:

Dr. Li said in the email that the final decision would be made by her boss, Diane Greene, the chief executive of Google Cloud. But Dr. Li thought the company should publicize its share of the Maven contract as “a big win for GCP,” Google Cloud Platform.

This is clearly a contentious, divisive topic. Google is a business, has obligations to shareholders, and is watching competitors like Microsoft and Amazon reap the rewards of lucrative Pentagon contracts. Not an easy thing for a business to say no to.

The internal debate over Maven, viewed by both supporters and opponents as opening the door to much bigger defense contracts, generated a petition signed by about 4,000 employees who demanded “a clear policy stating that neither Google nor its contractors will ever build warfare technology.”

Polarizing.

Reddit thread, with this prompt:

With all the predictions for WWDC, I’ve seen many people say that Apple Music needs to be fixed. Most comments however, never elaborate as to what is actually broken.

As someone who hasn’t really had any problems with the service, I’m curious as to what people think is wrong with it?

Lots of specific suggestions, an ever growing list.

Daniel Eran Dilger, AppleInsider:

Apple did introduce Siri Intents for HomePod, enabling App Extensions to take over the handling of specific requests, such as third-party messaging or list-management apps. You can expect to see an expansion of these Siri Extents for HomePod this year. HomePod shipped with a notable lack of support for features Siri can already handle, including Calendar tasks.

A nit: Calendar was promoted to HomePod in the latest release. Not perfect, but definitely there.

The fact that HomePod packs a speedy processor and is unconstrained by battery limits means that HomePod could eventually serve as a smart home computer in the background. Both HomePods and Apple TVs could be orchestrated to handle background tasks distributed across your home network.

And:

Additionally, the fact that HomePod has some onboard storage and a fast processor means that Apple could eventually delegate it tasks that are otherwise wasting battery on your mobile device. Imagine if, rather than Photos doing background imaging processing on your phone for face recognition and album creation, all your devices simply synced your photos to iCloud and your HomePod took advantage of its idle time to process your images in the background, synching them back to iCloud and back down to your devices.

Offloading battery-sucking tasks to the always powered HomePod is an interesting idea.

Daniel’s article is worth reading, some thoughtful speculation.

Andrew O’Hara, Apple Insider, does an excellent job walking through AirPlay 2.

A few nuggets:

There is now a substantially bigger streaming buffer. This helps reduce interruptions due to network issues. In our testing, this was very noticeable. Audio drops were down significantly from the original AirPlay.

And:

There is now tighter sync between devices, which reduces the lag quite a bit in most situations, and lends itself to multi-room audio. There can still be a bit of lag when starting/stopping a stream, but it is definitely less than in the past.

And:

Apple TV is also AirPlay 2 ready now, so during any playing video a swipe down from the top brings down the info bar. Swiping to Audio shows any AirPlay 2 speakers that can be streamed to. If on the home screen, a long hold of the play/pause button will also bring up the AirPlay controls.

Also worth checking out is Apple’s updated list of AirPlay 2 compatible speakers, found on Apple’s Home Accessories page (tap Speakers).

Guilherme Rambo, 9to5Mac:

Following the update of Apple’s official WWDC app for iOS, the unofficial app for macOS has been updated to version 6. WWDC for macOS allows both attendees and non-attendees to Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference, which starts next week in San Jose, to access live-streams, videos, and session information during the conference and as a year-round developer resource.

Another very useful feature of the app is the ability to stream live videos and recorded sessions to Chromecast devices.

If you are at all interested in WWDC, this is an incredible resource. Download the app, or access the source code (it’s open source) on the official product page.

Bravo, Guilherme.

May 30, 2018

Digg:

“So here’s how it’s going to go: I’m going to jab this spear at your face over and over again and you’re going to dodge it and we’re not going to mess this up, right?”

Damn. One wrong move and someone is shishkabob.

Susan Bennett is featured in the latest episode of the video podcast, People in America. Here’s the iTunes link.

Most interesting tidbit? Susan did all her voicework for Siri in 2005, but Siri wasn’t really mainstream until it was integrated into iPhone OS (now iOS) in 2011 and she was unaware that her original voicework was going to be used for Siri. Fascinating.

Nice read, full of fascinating detail.

First came the slow embrace, as Apple Watches started appearing on players’ and managers’ wrists in a variety of sports. As the Apple Watch gained in popularity, the pushback started, as people figured out the potential for cheating.

See also, Boston Red Sox Used Apple Watches to Steal Signs Against Yankees.

Scandalous!

Jeff Benjamin, 9to5Mac, on what you can do with AirPlay 2:

  • Quickly see what’s playing in every room on every speaker
  • Play the same song, in sync, in every room
  • Play different songs on different speakers
  • Use Siri to play different songs in different rooms
  • Stream to rooms without grouping speakers

Take the time to watch Jeff’s excellent video, embedded below. It starts with the basics of setting up a stereo pair, but then comes the good stuff, as he dives into the details of AirPlay 2. Absolutely worth the watch.

iOS 11.4 and Messages

First things first, take a minute to read Apple’s official press release with all the details on iOS 11.4.

With that in mind, this from this Juli Clover MacRumors post:

Apple says the update also successfully fixes an issue that caused iMessages to appear out of order on some devices, a frustrating bug that’s been around for quite some time and has been the subject of many complaints.

This is the big one, to me. So much Messages oddness, hoping this does indeed fix Messages.

Related note: Take a look at Joseph Keller’s iMore post, How to turn on Messages in iCloud.

All this is working fine for me. So far, so good!

May 29, 2018

Ars Technica:

Apple’s iOS 11.4 rolls out today, and it brings a big update to HomePods: AirPlay 2 with multi-room audio. The update allows the HomePod and Apple TV (the two Apple devices that currently support AirPlay 2), as well as forthcoming third-party AirPlay 2 devices, to play the same audio throughout your home or only in select areas of your home.

All AirPlay 2 devices can be controlled using an iOS device, HomePod, Apple TV, or by asking Siri. Users can say, “Hey Siri, play classical in the living room,” and the appropriate audio will play through the AirPlay 2-compatible speakers, but only in the living room. Essentially, the new setup makes it easier for users to play in-sync audio through all (or only some) of the speakers in their home.

This will be a big deal to those of you with compatible systems.

I agree with Lory’s thoughts on these two news apps—a lot of it comes down to personal preference. I have been enjoying the local news and Boston Bruins stories in the Google app, but there’s a lot to like about Apple’s app as well.

Earn points each day, from Sunday, June 3 at 12:00 a.m. to Thursday, June 7 at 11:59 p.m., by wearing your Apple Watch and closing your Activity rings. Simply download the Challenges app on iPhone and allow Challenges to access Health app data, which includes data from your Activity rings. Work as a team of four with fellow WWDC18 attendees to earn as many points as you can. If everyone on your team closes their rings that day, you’ll get team bonus points (in addition to individual bonus points). Individuals who earn 200 points or more during the challenge will receive a reward on Friday, June 8 at McEnery Convention Center.

This is a great idea.

Make the most of the 2018 Apple Worldwide Developers Conference with the WWDC app. Even if you can’t join us in San Jose, you can still follow along each day on iOS and tvOS, and watch videos on demand throughout the year. And because the WWDC app experience extends to Apple Watch, favorite session information is available right on your wrist.

Everything you need to know about WWDC in one app.

Watch hero make incredible climb up side of building to rescue child

This was all over the news over the weekend. An incredible, selfless, quick thinking act by Mali migrant Mamoudou Gassama, in Paris illegally, climbing a building to rescue a child dangling from a balcony.

The overwhelming social media response brought this to the attention of French President Emmanuel Macron, who praised Gassama as a hero and offered him full French citizenship and a job as a firefighter.

Amazing.

Check out your Twitter timeline, 10 years ago today

This is pretty cool. Click on this URL to see your Twitter timeline as it would have looked 10 years ago today if you followed the same people you follow now. Obviously, the actual look is current Twitter, and the stream will only include people who were on Twitter back then.

The date is embedded in the URL, so feel free to muck around to look at different dates. Embed a date one day later than the one you are looking for. For example, here’s one that shows Tweets from January 9th, 2007, the day Steve Jobs revealed the iPhone.

Fun!

[Via Andy Baio]

Rajesh Pandey, iPhoneHacks:

Getting the 5.8-inch OLED display of the iPhone X repaired from Apple is an expensive process. With Apple charging hundreds of dollars for a screen replacement if you don’t have Apple Care for your iPhone X, it is not surprising that many people end up getting their screen replaced from a third-party repair store which charges significantly less than Apple.

Is there a downside to using an aftermarket replacement? In the video embedded below Rajesh takes a look at several aftermarket solutions, compared to an official OEM replacement display.

I came away from this video wondering how representative this is. Do all aftermarket displays suffer from these same shortcomings? At the very least, I would definitely do my homework before I went for a 3rd party replacement display.

Ashraf Eassa, The Motley Fool:

Back in 2013, Apple introduced the A7 system on a chip (SoC) as part of its then-flagship smartphone, the iPhone 5s.

The A7 was the first 64-bit ARM processor.

Now, Intel’s chips, at the time, ran at much higher frequencies (in excess of 3 gigahertz), but what the strong per-gigahertz performance of the A7 chip signaled to me was that Apple had built a very impressive base from which to build up in future smartphone chips.

And:

While Apple is great at chip design, it doesn’t manufacture its own chips — it outsources production to third parties. Apple’s A-series chips through the A7 were manufactured exclusively by Samsung, and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company was the exclusive manufacturer of the A8, A10, and A11 chips. TSMC and Samsung reportedly split the orders for the A9.

Both TSMC and Samsung have delivered new manufacturing technologies at a breakneck pace. The performance, power consumption, and economic viability of a chip are determined heavily by the technologies upon which it’s manufactured.

Apple is relentless. As they constantly innovate in chip design, they can take advantage of whatever manufacturing advances bring the most performance advantages for each particular chip generation.

The result:

I believe that when Apple introduces its next iPhone in about four months, it will deliver equal or better CPU performance to Intel’s best notebook processors designed to consume 15 watts but at a fraction of the power consumption.

Amazing.

Daniel Eran Dilger, Apple Insider, takes a look back at past World Wide Developer Conferences and the various technologies Apple revealed. This is not nostalgia, but more an exploration of Apple’s evolving strategies, both in timing and in impact.

One bit in particular:

Recall that several years ago, Android phones essentially had a monopoly on 4G LTE service, a truly compelling and vast jump in data speed over what iPhone 5 could do at the time. That advantage lasted for years, but today is irrelevant.

Qualcomm is now trying to resurrect this in advertising the potential for 1.2Gbit mobile data on its Android chipsets–something that isn’t even available in practice from typical mobile networks. But that marketing hasn’t stopped Apple’s iPhones from being the most popular devices around the world–even with a substantial price premium.

If novel features like voice search and AI were really compelling features that drove significant numbers of buyers to new hardware, Google’s Pixel 2 and Andy Rubin’s Essential phone would not have been total duds. The reality is that mainstream buyers consider factors like longevity, reliability and brand experience, and that gives Apple a reprieve from chasing down every short-term tech fad and brief feature advantage its competitors can offer.

I thought this was a terrific read, start to finish. The WWDC keynote is this coming Monday, June 4th.

May 28, 2018

The Guardian:

London is to introduce a contactless payment scheme for buskers in what organisers say is a world first.

The project will allow street musicians across London to accept payments via cash, contactless cards, wearable technology and chip and pin.

Launching the scheme, London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, said it would allow more Londoners to support the capital’s street performers.

My hometown of Halifax has a yearly “International Busker Festival” so I’m very used to seeing and enjoying buskers. I’ve often wondered what has happened to their revenue with so few of us carrying cash nowadays. This seems like a great idea to help people who want to contribute to a busker.