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Other World Computing

Other World Computing






Whiskey Lately

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.

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.

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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 Ďsecurity theatreí 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 ó long and complex. With that said, I couldnít 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 canít cut/paste passwords, which is a bummer. Good news though is Agile Bitís Knox not only makes that possible but makes managing secure disk images a little easier.

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. Iím usually pretty good about remembering my tracker, but on days I donít I try to keep my phone on me. Then Iíd 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 companyís latest A8 system-on-chip ó or a variant of it: a dramatic increase in on-board storage to accommodate app ó 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.

Trans Intl

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 weíve seen on our screens and what weíve felt with our fingers have had little to do with each other. The iMovie update takes some first small steps toward marrying the two.

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:

Weíve turned up the volume on collaboration because itís 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. Itís that intersection. Without collaboration, you get a Windows product. Thereís a company that pumps out an operating system, another that does some hardware, and yet another that does something else. Thatís whatís now happening in Android land. Put it all together and it doesnít 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.

Trans Intl

Recent Articles

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. Itís 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 ďUSB 3.1 Gen 1,Ē and it retains a theoretical transfer rate of 5.0 Gbps. The USB-IF has confirmed to us that ďUSB 3.1 Type 1Ē 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 ďUSB 3.1Ē even though theyíre using what we have heretofore known as ďUSB 3.0Ē 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 menís watch. If youíre 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 ďfrom $10,000Ē 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 youíre willing and able to spend that much on a watch, you might not be too concerned about future upgrades.

Iím 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 whatís 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 thatís basically seems like the new retina MacBook Air, but Apple is keeping on the MacBook Air. Iíd 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. Iíll 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. Itís 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, thereís 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.

Itís 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 itís a strap for the Apple Watch that has a battery backup. The idea is you can recharge your Apple Watch while youíre wearing it.

Cool idea thatís most certainly the first of many, many straps for Appleís upcoming watch.

Thereís no ship date, although you can pre-order for $250. Thatís 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 ó particularly Tim Cook ó 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.

Tim Cook talks up customer privacy

Tim Cook in an interview with The Telegraph:
ďNone of us should accept that the government or a company or anybody should have access to all of our private information. This is a basic human right. We all have a right to privacy. We shouldn't give it up. We shouldn't give in to scare-mongering or to people who fundamentally donít understand the details.Ē

He also went on to say that one day consumers will understand how their privacy has been used and "be very offended."

Privacy is a good way for Apple to differentiate itself from other competitors. The sharing of private info makes some thing incredibly useful, not to mention free, for consumers. So that will be something to weigh, but a strong stance on privacy should help Apple demonstrated value for its business model for many.

iPhone design and battery life

9 to 5 Mac the past week posted a poll asking readers about the trade off of thinness and battery life. I think the poll wording could have been better, but itís an interesting question. The questions I think leave people to make assumptions on how much thicker a phone could be for an expected battery life increase. 0.5 mm for 50% better battery? Sign me up! 5 mm for 10%? No way. We just donít know what people are thinking to really tell a story on the results.

Also, the second most popular option is whether Apple should instead improve battery life through engineering and not a thicker device. Apple of course could do both, so itís not really an either/or proposition.

I think a better question would be to hypothetically ask:

- iPhone 4/4s thickness for 35% better battery.
- iPhone 5/5s thickness with 25% better battery.
- iPhone 6/6+ or same thickness for 15% better battery.

Iíd probably fall in the last category. Iím not sure Iíd want a thicker phone, but Iíd be fine if the iPhone didnít get any thinner in exchange for a modest improvement in battery. A lot of that is psychological because Iím willing to give up the unknown verses return to a known. I still remember thinking Iíd love a phone as thin as the iPod touch, and the iPhone 6 is nearly there. If presented an iPhone a 1 mm thinner, I may feel differently.

Anyway, as we discussed in a recent podcast, I was considering switching over to the iPhone 6 Plus from the iPhone 6. I ended up doing so a week ago. No real reason, I just had the opportunity by upgrading a phone on our family plan. Basically for an extra $100 I could have a new gadget by handing down a family member my iPhone 6. I havenít made up my mind yet on the 6 vs 6 Plus. Other than the obvious size differences, Iíd say the 6 Plus is heavier than I anticipated. On the flip side, the screen seems noticeable better and Iím quickly getting accustomed to having a larger screen.

The other big difference is the battery life. So far Iíd guess itís about 20-25% longer. The iPhone 6 didnít gave me problems with battery life, but Iíd frequently end the day with a battery warning. Sometimes Iíd charge up during the day just to ensure I had enough battery for the evening. I havenít had these issues in my first week of the iPhone 6 Plus.

So, back to this 9 to 5 Mac pollÖ The iPhone 6 is thinner than the iPhone 5/5s, it is bigger, and has a slightly larger battery. The iPhone 6 also has a bigger screen, which takes more power, but still has better battery life than the iPhone 5/5s by a small margin. The iPhone 6 is even more so of an improvement to go along with a promotionally larger size.

So, maybe the question isnít just do people want a thicker phone for better battery life, but what about a bigger phone?

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