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Other World Computing

Other World Computing






Whiskey Lately

Report: The how, the where, and the when for the Apple Watch ordering

9 to 5 Mac has a nice compilation of details on the Apple Watch. The Apple watch is going to be quite a bit different than other Apple product launches.

I'm curious about making a try-on appointment starting April 10th. It sounds like you can make an appointment to check out the watches at an Apple retail store, and then pre-order your preference. Ideally, that's the way to go, but I wonder at what point they cut off deliveries for launch day?

There will also be a new reservation system where you can pre-order your watch and pick it up in store. That part isn't completely new, but what is different is reportedly you'll be able to try it on before paying for it. And you will have the option to try other watches. Again, I wonder how that will work for launch day.

Of course, these are problems for the super nerds who want a watch of their liking on launch day. After the initial surge these questions won't matter.

Apple retail tracking site ifoapplestore calls it quits

Gary Allen is ending his project tracking Apple’s retail stores at iifoapplestore. Over the years the site has been a great resource for the happenings with Apple’s retail arm, especially in the early years. Covering Apple retail has been a passion as he has visited over 140 stores around the world as most unique tourist. Gary cited mainstream coverage of Apple retail as he no longer is serving an obscure niche.

Anyway, I appreciate his parting words of advice:

My final advice is: don’t overthink Apple. Instead, remember Steve Jobs and his boundless enthusiasm and joy—especially on stage—for what the products can accomplish and make possible. It’s fine to speculate on sales numbers and stock price. But it’s more pertinent to wonder how FaceTime or other Apple product feature can bring distant people together, to help diverse cultures understand one another to make a better world.

Session with Becoming Steve Jobs authors available on iTunes

A 49 minute video and audio podcast is available on iTunes with the new biography of Steve Jobs. A passage from the book was read by one of the authors and that was followed with Q/A about the book.

Co-authors Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli talk about their book Becoming Steve Jobs. The book sheds new light on the colorful and compelling figure who became one of the most famous CEOs in history. Moderated by John Gruber of Daring Fireball. Becoming Steve Jobs is available on iBooks.

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MacBook's USB-C Connector, Meerkat, Super Troopers, + More

9:00 - New MacBook and USB-C
35:30 - Periscope & Meerkat
45:00 - Enlight
50:30 - One Shot
53:00 - Super Troopers 2

This week we debate the new USB-C connector on the latest MacBook. Also a bunch of apps have caught our eye including Meerkat, Enlight, Periscope, and OneShot.

TED comes to Apple TV

Apple added three new TV channels to the Apple TV set-top box on Tuesday in the United States: TED, Tastemade and Young Hollywood. The three new channels bring non-profit TED Talks and a wide selection of premium food, travel and celebrity programming to the Apple TV and should be available beginning today.

Steady drip of new content for Apple TV.

Agile Bits on passwords and security theater

Many banking and financial sites implement restrictions on password length, require certain special characters to be present, and put in place various ‘security theatre’ measures on their websites that do little for increasing user security, while ultimately making it more difficult for users to rely on password managers to fill their complex passwords in on the site.

1Password folks seem to like their sentences like their passwords — long and complex. With that said, I couldn’t agree more. Weird password rules are one of my big pet peeves especially when they actually make password security worse.

Anyway, this is in a blog post admonishing the bank TD Canada Trust on their new iOS app which restricts the ability to cut/paste passwords. It looks like the bank is revisiting this decision and will be more friendly to password managers in the near future, which is great news.

Interestingly, OS X does the same thing with secure disk images. You can’t cut/paste passwords, which is a bummer. Good news though is Agile Bit’s Knox not only makes that possible but makes managing secure disk images a little easier.

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Fitbit to add multiple tracker support

This week Fitbit said it is release an update that adds support for multiple devices within the app. Users can sync up to one of each of their tracker models, so up to six devices. The idea is you can wear a wrist band for some exercises, but then switch to the waistband/pocket tracker for daily walking.

Also new for iOS is a MobileTrack feature that allows you to use your iPhone step counting feature in the Fitbit app. The idea is if you forget your tracker you can still keep count.

The MobileTrack feature seems a great idea. I’m usually pretty good about remembering my tracker, but on days I don’t I try to keep my phone on me. Then I’d manually enter in the steps. This would seems to save me the extra task of manual entry on the website.

Report: Major Apple TV update, app store expected

John Paczkowski for Buzzfeed:
As for the new Apple TV box itself, expect an updated design and new innards: the company’s latest A8 system-on-chip — or a variant of it: a dramatic increase in on-board storage to accommodate app — well beyond the 8GB in the current device; and an improved operating system that will support Siri voice control of Apple TV, and enable it remotely for a selection of Homekit-enabled home automation devices, as earlier reports have suggested. Presumably it will also feature a new remote.

Also expected is an app store for the Apple TV, which has seemed like an obvious expansion for years. These features, and perhaps also plans for the rumored launch of a live TV subscription service, are expected at WWDC sometime in June.

ABC News gets tour of Apple health and fitness lab

Apple built a special lab in what appears to be a nondescript industrial warehouse. The lab has been testing over 10,000 fitness sessions with Apple employees logging over 18,000 hours of data. The lab features fitness gear, monitoring equipment, and even giant walk-in coolers to simulate different outdoor conditions. All this data is going into Apple's fitness features of the upcoming Apple Watch.

ABC News got a tour and have done a few stories. Here's one from Night Line:

Haptic touchpad on new MacBook Pro

There's a nice piece by Kyle Vanhemert at Wired that covers haptic technology and Apple's implementation in the new Macbook Pro. Apple has updated iMovie to support the hardware. One feature gives the user tactile feedback of when manipulating clips.

[iMovie example] it hints at a massive change in how we might interact with our devices in years to come. Until now, what we’ve seen on our screens and what we’ve felt with our fingers have had little to do with each other. The iMovie update takes some first small steps toward marrying the two.

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Recent Articles

Tim Cook on internal collaboration and the customer experience

There are a lot of good quotes in this Fast Company interview of Tim Cook. Here's a good one one on internal collaboration and how it translate into a better customer experience:

We’ve turned up the volume on collaboration because it’s so clear that in order for us to be incredibly successful we have to be the best collaborators in the world. The magic of Apple, from a product point of view, happens at this intersection of hardware, software, and services. It’s that intersection. Without collaboration, you get a Windows product. There’s a company that pumps out an operating system, another that does some hardware, and yet another that does something else. That’s what’s now happening in Android land. Put it all together and it doesn’t score high on the user experience.

Steve recognized early on that being vertical gave us the power to produce great customer experience. For a long while, that was viewed as crazy logic. More and more people have opened their eyes to the fact that he was right, that you need all those things working together.

Report: Apple TV subscription service expected this fall

The technology giant is in talks with programmers to offer a slimmed-down bundle of TV networks this fall, according to people familiar with the matter. The service would have about 25 channels, anchored by broadcasters such as ABC, CBS and Fox and would be available on Apple devices such as the Apple TV, they said.

Interestingly,Comcast is reportedly withholding NBC content in favor of its own X1 platform. Something to ponder with the Time Warner-Comcast merger still pending regulatory approval.

To me what will matter is the flexibility in the packages. To make this valuable to content providers, Apple will most likely need to bundle channels, but they obviously have to compete on price with cable/dish bundles. So, there needs to be a minimum bundle that's affordable, but still flexible enough to let people add additional content.

Second is access to on-demand content. For us, we use TiVo and can wait a long time before getting around to binge watching a season of a show. So, we'd like to keep long-term access to shows that at minimum aired since we subscribed. It would be pretty nifty too if we had access to back libraries of seasons, but that might be dreaming.

Want to live above an Apple Store?

Gary Allen @ ifoapplestore:
For an offer over US$495,000 you might win the bidding to live above the Brisbane (Australia) store, in an historic building with amenities that include a fitness center, sauna, car park and swimming pool. The apartment just came on the market. It’s one of five known Apple store buildings that include residential space.

Some glam shots at the link, which as you'd guess, look pretty swanky. The two-bedroom apartment is on the 7th floor of the building sharing an Apple Store. At the very least, it should make waiting in line for the next Apple gadget easier.

As a bonus, the building was the General MacArthur's Pacific headquarters during WWII.

New movie: Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine

John DeFore for The Hollywood Reporter:
As an iPhone user, Gibney understands there's more to it than that. But Machine is his two hour-plus corrective to uncritical idolatry of the tech legend, a film that roots around in his misdeeds and mean traits, not in search of a complete portrait, but in the spirit of a Judgment Day prosecutor who knows damn well the defendant was not a holy man.

I guess I'm just curious about the continued and apparently sustained interest in Steve Jobs' personal life. Maybe it's just me, but I'm way more interested in how Jobs operated from a leadership and management angle. Along with the story behind the story of the big products he ushered into the market. The tabloid stuff to me is just old news. Perhaps it's still just easier to get people to go on record about Jobs' life than the products.

Confusion over the MacBook's USB-C port

Andrew Cunningham for Ars Technica:
USB 3.0 has retroactively been renamed “USB 3.1 Gen 1,” and it retains a theoretical transfer rate of 5.0 Gbps. The USB-IF has confirmed to us that “USB 3.1 Type 1” uses the same controllers as USB 3.0, so we can expect to see some early Broadwell-based Type C systems like the Retina MacBook come with “USB 3.1” even though they’re using what we have heretofore known as “USB 3.0” controllers.

I was a little confused why Apple described the new MacBook's port by the connector type, USB-C, and not the spec name. This may be why. It would seem that the new MacBook uses the new connector, but for practical purposes is essentially the same as USB 3.0. Not nearly as exciting as many, including myself, assumed from what I learned at CES.

Now, the Type C connector allows for the mega port to handle all I/O, including power. So, there is an advantage if that's what you're looking for, however, that choice doesn't bring any additional throughput speeds.

For the faster 10 Mb/sec speeds, you'll need the newer USB 3.1 gen 2. And sure enough, if you look at Apple's website, it lists the USB port as USB 3.1 gen 1 at 5 Mb/sec.

Podcast: The Apple Watch

Join us as we break down Apple's big Watch announcement.

Griffen WatchStand announced for Apple Watch

The versatile WatchStand is compatible with all versions of the Apple Watch and holds it at an easy viewing angle as it charges. Accommodating both semi-flexible and fully flexible bands, WatchStand securely displays and charges Apple Watch vertically or horizontally for the perfect view.

WatchStand is expected to ship this summer for $30.

One thing that's nifty is it also has a spot for your iPhone. I could be in the market for a stand that had an elegant solution to charging both devices at once.

Waterfield Designs Time Travel case for the Apple Watch

Waterfield Designs makes some nice stuff, and while I thought their Apple TV case was a little far out on the nerd spectrum, what about an Apple Watch Case? I mean, you keep it on your wrist, right? Well, it's actually more of a travel solution for when you want to pack up your watch and accessories. You can pack up the charger and a pair of Bluetooth earbuds too. Plus, when the watch isn't on your wrist, it has a safe place to rest even when charging.

The Time Travel Case sells for $49-$59 and comes in a variety of colors. The $49 model is ballistic nylon and the other $59 models are leather.

Speaking of a place to store your watch, Waterfield Designs also announced a leather pad for resting your watch. So, the idea is you can keep this on your dresser or night stand and give your precious a safe place to charge. The WatchPad measures 8" x 4.75" and sells for $17.

The Apple Watch

Apple today re-announced the Apple Watch. This time around we got a pre-order date (April 10th), a ship date (April 24th). and a price. Lots of prices.

We knew the entry level would start out at $350. We learned that the stainless models will run you $200 more. And we learned Apple will have a number of band options. We also learned that if you want the larger 42mm model, that will cost you an extra $50. This is kind of interesting. Intuitively a bigger display reasonably costs more. Also, intuitively, generally men watches are larger than women. So, in this case, it seem weird that Apple would charge more for basically the men’s watch. If you’re looking to buy one of the gold Edition models, this 42mm up-charge is $2000.

Speaking of the Apple Watch Edition... During the podcast we did a little over/under discussion. I picked $2500 as the number, and everyone was pretty much split on whether the Edition would cost more or less than that. Obviously the price is much over that. The Edition at 42mm and the gold buckle bands top out at $17,000. Yikes. Watching the stream, my take was Tim Cook rolled out the “from $10,000” a little sheepishly. And unlike the Sport and stainless models, there was no pricing slide and no feature video.

In general one challenge I think for the Apple Watch is how many people will be willing to buy a new watch regularly. This is kind of nutty land for $10,000-$17,000, but I suppose if you’re willing and able to spend that much on a watch, you might not be too concerned about future upgrades.

I’m wondering if down the road the Apple Watch has a chance to outpace upgrades for the iPhone. In other words, if the Apple Watch is a hit, will the watch become a bigger interface than the phone, and thus people may be more motivated to upgrade what’s on their wrist rather than carry in their pocket.

Anyway, this will be an interesting product launch.

New MacBook comes in smaller, lighter than MacBook Air

This is an interesting new product that’s basically seems like the new retina MacBook Air, but Apple is keeping on the MacBook Air. I’d guess cost may be a factor. The new MacBook starts out at $1300, while the MacBook Air retains sub-$1000 prices. Compared to the Mac Book Air, the new MacBook is just slightly thinner at 0.4cm thinner and about about 1/3 a pound lighter.

It of course also ships with a 12-inch Retina display and comes in colors similar to the iPhones and iPads. I’ll be curious to see benchmarks of the dual core i5 and i7 CPUs vs the dual Core M processors.

Also new with the MacBook is a new ForceTouch pressure sensitive new trackpad, which pretty nifty. I was kind of hoping to see some kind of TouchID interface, but maybe some day.

Another new feature is the addition of USB 3.1/USB C. I learned about USB 3.1 at CES and got the vibe Apple was about to adopt it. In addition to a headphone jack, the new MacBook only ships with one port. The one port handles power, USB, and Thunderbolt/Mini DP all in one. It’s a reversible cable and can handle up to 5Mb/sec. So, on one had this is pretty cool that Apple is on the front edge of the adoption curve. On the down side, there’s only one port. So, this will mean hubs and dongles will be a bigger role in your laptop case. Also I wonder about the future of Thunderbolt and why someone might want to invest in Thunderbolt devices down the road vs USB 3.1.

HBO Now official announced for Apple devices

Apple and HBO jointly announced HBO Now, the standalone streaming service for its HBO Go service. The service will launch in April for $14.99/month. HBO Now will give people an option to watch HBO content without a cable subscription. HBO Now will be available on iOS devices and Apple TV.

It’s been known this service has been in the works for some time, but is still a big deal. For decades the HBO has been tied at the hip to cable companies who basically acted as their sales and marketing arm. Going out on their own is a big step towards decoupling content from distribution.

Reserve Strap battery backup for Apple Watch

The Reserve Strap went on pre-order. Basically it’s a strap for the Apple Watch that has a battery backup. The idea is you can recharge your Apple Watch while you’re wearing it.

Cool idea that’s most certainly the first of many, many straps for Apple’s upcoming watch.

There’s no ship date, although you can pre-order for $250. That’s a little pricy for a little convenience.

Podcast: Switching to iPhone 6 Plus, Apple Watch Role Playing, Over-Under + More

Last time Mike talked about upgrading from the iPhone 6 to 6 Plus and that happened. So, we'll talk about that. Also Monday is the big Apple Watch announcement and we'll preview that.

New Steve Jobs book announced

John Gruber on Becoming Steve Jobs by Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli:
The book is smart, accurate, informative, insightful, and at times, utterly heartbreaking. Schlender and Tetzeli paint a vivid picture of Jobs the man, and also clearly understand the industry in which he worked. They also got an astonishing amount of cooperation from the people who knew Jobs best: colleagues past and present from Apple and Pixar — particularly Tim Cook — and his widow, Laurene Powell Jobs.

Gruber has an advanced copy of the book and seemed to have given it a favorable early review. Not much details, but it's promoted as containing some new sensational stories.

The full title is Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart into a Visionary Leader and will be released March 24th.

Apple promotes iPhone 6 photo gallery

I've gotten every iPhone model except the iPhone 3G (no 3G service in my area to justify the expense at the time) and each upgrade I was usually most interested in the camera improvements. I take a lot of photos with my iPhone. Not only do I trust it for an important job, but it also makes it possible to capture a lot of stuff. As the saying goes, the best camera is the one you've got with you.

The iPhone 6/6 Plus camera takes some pretty great photos. And even though the megapixels haven't changed in recent years, each iPhone keep getting better at taking photos.

In this gallery from Apple only a few were in low-light conditions, but they still looked pretty good. Once in a while I'll go through my old photos over the years and the quality of photos in less than great lighting is the most stark differences between models. I hope the iPhone keeps improving in this regard.

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