Date Archives January 2016

MacID Review

I’d have a hard time guessing how many times I log in and out of my Mac in an average day. At the office, most times I will log out of my Mac when I go to the washroom or grab a snack. Often I forget, leaving my Mac unprotected.

Whether it be the library, Starbucks, or just an open-concept office, leaving your Mac unlocked and unattended is a risk. Having your Mac stolen is one thing, but your personal information is something insurance can’t replace.

MacID aims to fix this nuisance by pairing your iPhone and Apple Watch to your Mac. Once you install and setup MacID, walking away from your Mac will automatically log you out of your user account. Walking back to your Mac will generate a push notification on your iPhone/Apple Watch. With your iPhone, you’ll have to authenticate with Touch ID before your Mac will unlock. If you have an Apple Watch, you’ll only need to tap ‘Unlock.’

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Windows Phone Is Dead

Tom Warren from The Verge:

With Lumia sales on the decline and Microsoft’s plan to not produce a large amount of handsets, it’s clear we’re witnessing the end of Windows Phone. Rumors suggest Microsoft is developing a Surface Phone, but it has to make it to the market first. Windows Phone has long been in decline and its app situation is only getting worse. With a lack of hardware, lack of sales, and less than 2 percent market share, it’s time to call it: Windows Phone is dead.

Doesn’t something have to be alive in order to die?

The Case Against Control Center

Stephen Hackett writing over at 512 Pixels:

With iOS 5, Apple introduced Notification Center, the pull-down shade that houses missed notifications and messages all in one place.

With iOS 7, Apple added Today, a section of Notification Center that users can fill with first- and third-party widgets, as well as Control Center, a quick way to get at commonly-used utilities with a flick up from the bottom of the display.

I don’t think this has aged very well, unfortunately, and it’s mostly Control Center’s fault. In addition to it being confusing to have a hidden panel at the top of the screen, having one at the bottom too is a lot to handle for some users. But there’s a bigger problem in my mind: Control Center just does way too many things.

I agree with Stephen on a few points, particularly in regards to improving Control Center by making it more customizable.

Bloomberg: Apple Developing Wireless-Charged iPhone

Bloomberg:

Apple is exploring cutting-edge technologies that would allow iPhones and iPads to be powered from further away than the charging mats used with current smartphones, the people said, asking not to be identified as the details are private. The iPhone maker is looking to overcome technical barriers including loss of power over distance with a decision on implementing the technology still being assessed, they said.

Remember what I said yesterday about battery innovation? This would be innovation.

On iPhone Thinness

Over the past nine years, Apple has established a predictable release cycle for the iPhone. Every second year they release an iPhone with a new hardware design. Every alternating year they release an ’S’ upgrade with improvements to the core technology and a couple new features. It’s pretty much a given this Fall, Apple will release a new iPhone with somewhat redesigned hardware.

Almost every time Apple redesigns the iPhone – they make it thinner – often by removing ports and making it more power efficient (thus able to run off of a smaller battery).

iphone-6

 

And every time, people complain (and still end up buying it).

‘I don’t want a thinner iPhone.’

‘I like the current thickness.’

‘Instead of making it thinner, put a bigger battery inside.’

These are some of the common complaints. While I can see the reason behind these comments, I truthfully believe these people don’t actually know what they want.

As is so often done, I’m going to quote Henry Ford. I know most of you already know the quote I’m about to insert, but I’m going to do it anyways:

“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” – Henry Ford

If this is true, and people don’t know what they want, who does?

Well, Apple tries to guess. That’s their job as a seller of a product. They create things they think people will want. And ultimately, they don’t know if they will. What they do know is that technology products are like a shark, as in, if they don’t keep moving, they will sink and (eventually) die.

Let’s imagine a scenario where Apple listens to this group and makes the next iPhone the same width, or even a little thicker. Predictably, the battery life would be fantastic.

’True all-day battery life’ – the iPhone commercials would say.

‘Finally’ – the group of users would say exhaustedly.

This would be terrible for two reasons:

1.) If Apple determined that the right course of iPhone innovation is not to make it thinner, but instead to keep it the same width, they could conceivably keep this approach for the iPhone 8, and so on. While this may not seem like the worst thing, imagine if TV manufacturers had decided that a shallower tube television was ‘thin enough.’

The plasma TV hanging on your wall wouldn’t exist.

2.) Innovating in battery technology is not just making the battery bigger. It has been well-documented that battery innovation has become stagnant. Making batteries more efficient and providing more ways to keep them charged is forward progress in portable power.

I’m not against the current size of the iPhone, nor do I think it’s too thick or too thin. I believe that in order for innovation to push forward, changes have to happen and in doing so force other changes to occur.

Apple will continue to make all their devices thinner with each iteration, battery technology will continue to improve, and eventually we will own a device we could’ve never imagined 10 years prior. That’s what a technology company is supposed to do – innovate. That’s why so many of us love Apple and their products, because they aren’t afraid to make sacrifices to bring the future to life.

PS: Don’t get me started on the headphone jack, or lack there of (I’m fine with if there isn’t one in the next iPhone).

Twitter Has Become Secret-Handshake Software

Walt Mossberg on why Twitter has become too hard to use:

To potential new users, it’s a real challenge to learn all of Twitter’s often arcane little features. And even for people who have been using the service multiple times daily for years, like me, it can be tricky to decide when to use which feature and in which situation. For instance, new users might be confused about what a retweet is, or the difference between that and a “quote tweet” (where you say more about something you’re reposting). And they surely might not understand the need to place a period before the handle of a user, when that handle is at the very start of a tweet you compose, yet not elsewhere in the tweet.

I think the beauty of Twitter is that it doesn’t appeal to everyone, unlike Facebook. Users who understand it, love it. 

Twitter doesn’t seem to recognize this and continues to try and complete with Facebook, adding complexity to a simple service. With every new feature, it’s becoming more difficult to use and gaining new users has become troublesome.

The 2015 Panic Report

Panic, the developer behind apps such as Transmit and Coda, reporting on the past year and the struggles they faced with iOS revenue:

I brought this up last year and we still haven’t licked it. We had a change of heart — well, an experimental change of heart — and reduced the price of our iOS apps in 2015 to normalize them at $9.99 or less, thinking that was the upper limit and/or sweet spot for iOS app pricing. But it didn’t have a meaningful impact on sales.
More and more I’m beginning to think we simply made the wrong type of apps for iOS — we made professional tools that aren’t really “in demand” on that platform — and that price isn’t our problem, but interest is.

So, once again, we will investigate raising our iOS app prices in 2016, with two hopes: that the awesome customers that love and need these apps understand the incredible amount of work that goes into them and that these people are also willing to pay more for a quality professional app (whereas, say, the casual gamer would not).

Panic is also set to release Firewatch, a game for PS4, Windows and Mac in two weeks time – and I couldn’t be more excited to play it.

Tim Cook on Apple's Q1 2016 Results

Tim Cook on Apple’s recording-breaking Q1 numbers:

Good afternoon, everyone, and thank you very much for joining us. Today, we’re reporting Apple’s strongest financial results ever. We generated all-time record quarterly revenue of 75.9 billion dollars in the December quarter, in line with our expectations, and have 2 percent over last year’s blockbuster results.

This is a huge accomplishment for our company, especially given the turbulent world around us. In constant currency, our growth rate would have been 8 percent. Our record revenue and continued strong operating performance also led to an all-time record quarterly net income of 18.4 billion dollars. We sold 74.8 million iPhones in the December quarter, an all-time high. To put that volume into perspective, it’s an average of over 34,000 iPhones an hour, 24 hours a day, seven days a week for 13 straight weeks. It’s almost 50 percent more than our Q1 volume just two years ago, and more than four times our volume five years ago.

While these results are fantastic, the big news today from an investment perspective is the year-over-year predicted revenue for Q2:

We see that Q2 is the toughest compare. We believe it’s the toughest compare because the year-ago quarter also had catchup in it from Q1; if you recall, we were heavily supply-constrained throughout the whole of Q1, and so some of that demand moved into Q2. Plus, we’re in an environment now that is dramatically different from a macroeconomic point of view than last Q2: from a currency point of view, from the level at which we’ve had to adjust pricing in several of these markets, and sort of the overall melees in virtually every country in the world. It’s really all of those factors that play in there, and it’s difficult to sort out how much is due to which one.