Saturday, March 31, 2018

Apple ID Website May Allow Users to Download Data

According to Bloomberg, Apple may revamp their Apple ID website to allow users to make a download of all of their data. This data includes things like contacts, calendar events, music preferences, photos, and much more. Users will also be able to "correct" personal information and delete or disable their Apple ID. These changes are being made to comply with the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation. 

Friday, March 30, 2018

Sixth-Generation iPad Now Available

Apple's newest tablet, the sixth-generation iPad announced Tuesday, is now available to pick up in Apple Stores. While it's been available for pre-order, you should now be able to see it in person at your local Apple Store. Whether or not there will be Apple Pencils next to them, I'm not sure. To check stock, you can use the in-store pickup option. Given this is an entry-model iPad, there's isn't too much concern about stock issues.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

iOS 11.3 Released... Actually

iOS 11.3 has been released for all compatible devices. This comes after Apple released iOS 11.3 exclusively for the new iPad that customers didn't have yet. This update has some nice features, including Battery Health, Health Records, Business Chat, ARKit 1.5, new Animoji, and more. The update is available now on iOS from Settings > General > Software Update. It should take around 20 minutes to update.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

iOS 11.3 Released... Kinda

iOS 11.3 was not mentioned at yesterday's event, even though its release was imminent. Well, we can't say it wasn't released soon after, because it is... but only for the new iPad. Keep in mind, this new iPad isn't currently in the hands of any consumers, so this is as good as not released. I assume this is a day one software update for the iPad. Because of this, we can assume that a full release of the software will come very soon. Probably in the next few days. Interestingly enough, we don't have a golden master for iOS 11.3 yet. Despite this, I still believe that we will get a release in the very near future.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Apple's Education Event Impressions

Apple had quite a few announcements lined up for the education side of technology today. While we didn't get much on the consumer side, I can understand why a press release might not have done it justice. That being said, I'm not sure how much traction in schools Apple will gain from this. We have a refreshed iPad with Apple Pencil support and A10 Fusion Chip. It costs $299 for schools, and remains at $329 for educators. If you are eligible for Apple's Education Store discount (student, family, or staff of educational institution), this iPad will run $309 for 32 GB. Given the crazy price difference between the iPad and the iPad Pro, I'm fairly confident we will get an "iPhone X style" iPad this WWDC. I also found the Logitech Crayon interesting. A $49 stylus as an alternative to Apple Pencil. I like the naming convention. I'm looking forward to the Apple Space Pen. Aside from this, we got some software updates for iWork. All in all, this event has me more excited for WWDC if anything. The iPad refresh is nice. I actually prefer the 9.7" iPad to the 10.5" iPad. The bezels aren't as thin, which prevents a ton of accidental inputs (especially on video scrubbing). The keyboard is easier to type on for me as well. Just by going off of what we know about it, the new 9.7" iPad looks like a great tablet for the average consumer with excellent value.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Foxconn Acquires Belkin

Foxconn assembles many of Apple's products and Belkin creates many accessories for Apple's products, but I never pictured one buying the other. Today, Foxconn acquired Belkin for $866 million. That's a lot of money for those keeping track at home. The Belkin brand encompasses Wemo, Linksys, and more. Belkin will continue to operate under its current brand name as a subsidiary to Foxconn, similar to the Beats acquisition. I am a fan of Belkin, and while I don't anticipate this acquisition to have any major effects on the consumer side, I am curious to see if we notice any positive change.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Apple Tying Up Loose Ends

Apple has been looked at as trying to catch up and stay relevant in recent years. I even accuse them of it. However, there is an important trend that has been very implicit in Apple's product launches. Apple is very different than its competitors because it makes software, but doesn't license it or make it open source. Android can often look more appealing to a user because of the variety of options that are available from so many different phones. These phone makers have much less at risk when they introduce a new phone. Meanwhile, the iPhone hasn't had any radical change until the iPhone X with its new display. Any new changes to the design have to be very well thought out for Apple, otherwise, iOS is no longer unified and developers become more frustrated. With Apple redefining an edge-to-edge display with its signature notch, we see two types of responses from Android. Either phones that brag about having no notch or phones that embrace the notch. In fact, this has led Android development tools to simulate many different sizes of notches. As one could imagine, this is much more frustrating for Android users and developers because the chances of an app being fully optimized for these phones is much less than an app being fully optimized for iPhone X. Being able to take a trend like this and capitalize on it like Apple has could be a big win for Apple, albeit subtle. This is just one example of Apple's strategy to regain relevance. The slashing of the iPad's price will likely be a big slap in the face at Chromebooks, and the idea of a cheaper Apple notebook coming soon could help shred more marketshare away from Chromebooks as well. Apple tying up these loose ends and capitalizing on their competitors' mistakes and pricing helps Apple products appeal more to the average consumer.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

My Thoughts on a Lower Cost iPad

Apple is expected to announce a lower cost iPad this Tuesday. Potentially, it could be just $259. Whether this is a new, improved model or a price drop, this is exciting news. There is the possibility that this is a watered down model, but we don't have much reason to believe this currently. I think the base model iPad has the best bang for its buck currently. I have mixed feelings about the iPad Pro, but the idea that the base model could get cheaper is an interesting thought. Hopefully, not much is sacrificed. We've heard rumors of Apple Pencil support. I think this makes sense on both sides. Apple Pencil probably isn't selling too well because it's only for the iPad Pro, and it has huge potential for education and everyday tasks. On the other hand, this takes away the distinctive traits of the iPad Pro. The iPad Pro does have significantly better processing power which shines in the right apps. I do think it's time to give Apple Pencil more potential and compatibility. I'll give more thoughts about this when we see what direction Apple takes this on Tuesday.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Apple's Education Event Won't Be Live Streamed

According to the Apple Events app on Apple TV, Apple will not live stream their Education Event this Tuesday. Despite this, a recorded version will still be available to view later that day for the public. This is a special education event, so it clearly isn't designed for the general public. The event is not on Apple's website currently and the last education event in 2012 was not live streamed either.

"Watch the special event--held at Lane Tech College Prep High School in Chicago, Illinois--after it concludes."

Thursday, March 22, 2018

iBooks Update in iOS 12

According to Mac Otakara, Apple will likely add a "Today" section to iBooks in iOS 12. This highly suggests a similar redesign to what the App Store had in iOS 11. The Today section has curated content and helpful articles about the content. While I'd like this in iOS 11.3, since it's a simple redesign, but it's a minor nitpick. I'm looking forward to any other iBooks updates we'll see in the near future.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Apple Watch's Accuracy at Detecting Abnormal Heart Rhythm

The developers behind Cardiogram and researchers at UC San Francisco have found that Apple Watch is very accurate at detecting abnormal heart rhythm. 97% accurate to be exact. Also known as atrial fibrillation, abnormal heart rhythm very often goes unnoticed, so detection is key. Just under 10,000 users signed up for the UC San Francisco eHeart Study. About 140 million heart rate and step count measurements contributed to Cardiogram's deep neural network, DeepHeart. DeepHeart used deep learning to learn to detect abnormal heart rhythm. Clearly, given the popularity of Apple Watch, this could become a very big push for heart health. Being able to give quantifiable data to a medical professional can help many detect atrial fibrillation and take steps to combat it. The full study is available from JAMA Cardiology

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Watson and iOS

Apple is letting in developers on an amazing new technology that could make a breakthrough in machine learning. Apple's Core ML framework can now use some of the technologies used in IBM's Watson. I'm probably butchering this explanation on a technical level, but this is a simplified explanation. It excels at analyzing images, and the images they give as an example are amazing. Looking at a machine, Core ML and Watson is able to reliably detect an error with a machine with an image (left image). Then, it can augment labels over important parts to guide repair. Wouldn't that be amazing to have every time you needed to fix something? While this is just an example, it wouldn't surprise me that this could become a reality with the technology available.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Blush Gold iPhone X

A rather sketchy rumor from leaker Ben Geskin states that the iPhone X will release a Blush Gold color. It looks like a take on the Rose Gold color from previous iPhones. However, what makes me skeptical is how he states “stuff can be canceled.” Don’t get me wrong, that could be 100% true, but it seems like an odd thing to state. 

Sunday, March 18, 2018

iOS 11.3's Potential Release

iOS 11.3 has been talked about for a while. Since the beginning of the year. It feels like a rather large update, even though it's a minor one. It has battery management features, which were announced with Apple's response to the performance throttling issue. We also saw the brief appearance of AirPlay 2. I'd like to see Apple's acknowledgement of most of the new features in iOS 11.3 followed by an announcement, and I think this education event will be the time to do that. Apparently, we will get something called ClassKit as well. I really hope that iOS 11.3 is released about a week after the presentation, if not sooner. That's my prediction.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

The Rapid Change of the Smartphone Camera

The original iPhone had a 2 megapixel camera. At the time, the iPhone camera was designed to be simple and convenient. Your phone was something you would carry anywhere. Anytime you needed to take a picture, you could. Today, we often use smartphone cameras to take pictures for reference. For example, let's say you need to take a picture of a flyer. You wouldn't be carrying around a point-and-shoot randomly, but even if you were, you'd have to take it back home and import it to your computer from your SD card. And even then, that picture is only available for viewing when you're on your computer. Moving on, the iPhone 3GS made a huge leap by introducing "tap to focus." The foundation of smartphone photography was formed when this came out. You could also take video on an iPhone now. The iPhone 4S had an 8 megapixel camera, which made images much clearer. Suddenly, other smartphone companies bragged about their cameras because they had more megapixels. For years, Apple improved their optics. This is where Apple differentiated themselves. They realized that there was a breaking point. It wasn't about megapixels anymore, it was about the overall quality. Today, with the iPhone X, we have Portrait Mode, Live Photos, and an optical lens. At this point, smartphones have replaced so many consumer cameras. And I notice that at this point, all smartphone cameras are the same in terms of quality. I notice that competitors to the iPhone brag about a slightly better camera rating. When I look at the comparisons, the photos are almost identical. If I took a photo on my iPhone, I wouldn't say, "It's great, but I wish the lighting were a hair better." I'm not suggesting that companies shouldn't make improvements to their optics anymore, but I think features like Portrait Mode, Live Photo, and HEIF help iPhone stand apart from its competitors. Features are now the next big thing to compete over.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Educational Apple Event Announced

Apple is hosting a keynote at a high school of all places. To discuss announcements for education, Apple will be doing a keynote at Lane Tech College Prep High School in Chicago. It will take place on March 27. We are expecting a cheaper entry-level iPad, costing around $259, a new MacBook or MacBook Air, a new Apple Pencil (based on the invite), and iOS 11.3, with something called ClassKit.

Image Credit: Bloomberg

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Apple Park Visitor Center

Apple Park has been challenging what a corporate headquarters can be with its architectural feats. In this video, I take a look at the Apple Park Visitor Center, located just across the street from Apple Park. Shot on iPhone X.

Music Credit: Hyde

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

AirPower Still Launching in March

Last month, reports surfaced of how AirPower will launch in March. Halfway into the month, DigiTimes has reported that this is still the case. It wouldn't be surprising to hear that AirPower would be delayed, so hearing more reports are welcomed. The enhanced AirPods case with wireless charging will likely launch with this. This will likely be released alongside a press statement. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

WWDC 2018 Announced

Apple has announced that WWDC will take place from June 4 to June 8 this year at San Jose's McEnery Convention Center. A keynote will be held on June 4 and will announce new software, such as iOS 12. Tickets cost $1,599 (exclusive to developers chosen via lottery) and there are up to 350 student scholarships available. Those unable to attend can view the keynote online.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Mac App Store App 'Calendar 2' Mines Cryptocurrency

In recent years, and especially now, we have heard more and more about websites and apps using services like CoinHive, which utilize your CPU (knowingly or unknowingly) to contribute to a large cryptocurrency mining operation. With a declining sustainability of ad revenue (especially with the popularity of AdBlock), many have turned to this method. With strength in numbers, these mining operations can bring in a fair amount of revenue. It's tempting for many, but it is heavily frowned upon. Mac App Store app, Calendar 2, has taken advantage of this by offering it as a "payment" option [Source: Ars Technica]. In exchange for your processing power, you'll get all advanced features for free. In addition, you can disable all advanced features or simply pay for them with money. However, the app mines cryptocurrency by default. That's deceptive for multiple reasons, but that aside, how did this make its way onto the Mac App Store? That remains unknown, but we do know that the app has been taken down since. The developer of Calendar 2, Qbix, is working to remove the miner due to several bugs.

"We have decided to REMOVE the miner in the app. The next version will remove the option to get free features via mining. This is for three reasons:
1) The company which provided us the miner library did not disclose its source code, and it would take too long for them to fix the root cause of the CPU issue.
2) The rollout had a perfect storm of bugs which made it seem like our company *wanted* to mine crypto-currency without people's permission, and that goes against our whole ethos and vision for Qbix.
3) My own personal feeling that Proof of Work has a dangerous set of incentives which can lead to electricity waste on a global scale we've never seen before. We don't want to get sucked into this set of incentives, and hopefully our decision to ultimately remove the miner will set some sort of precedent for other apps as well."
Regardless of any stance on their statement, it raises an important topic of apps and websites using our processing power to mine crypto. So many reports state how developers have to retract or update these apps because they are using too much power. If that's the case for one app, what's stopping other apps from fighting for CPU? All while the user is blissfully unaware of any of this. It's becoming an epidemic fast.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

New MacBook Coming at WWDC

According to DigiTimes, there will be a new entry-level 13.3" MacBook announced at WWDC. It's currently unknown if this could be a MacBook Air or a MacBook. It seems likely that this will be a long-overdue refresh to the MacBook Air line. In addition, it would have a Retina Display. The MacBook Air is the only all-in-one Mac without a Retina Display currently. This would be refreshing given that the MacBook Air feels very outdated by today's standards. That being said, I think the MacBook Air is having an identity crisis, due to the MacBook being thinner and more modern. I'd like to see how Apple would execute a MacBook Air refresh.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Support for iPhone X

iPhone X support will be mandatory soon, but many apps still do not support the new screen size. In a great article, MacRumors reached out to some app developers to see their status on making their apps optimized with the iPhone X. Looking at the article, it seems that most have active plans to update their apps. I believe the App Store guideline for iPhone X support is really pushing this. This will be in effect starting April 2018. I highly recommend checking out the article to see a complete list of the apps.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Google Maps and MAR10 Day

Tomorrow is March 10, which is Mario Day (MAR10), so Nintendo and Google Maps have teamed up to replace the current location point with Mario in a pipe frame kart. With the latest Google Maps update, you can tap the "?" block in the bottom right corner to toggle this theme. This will be available for the next seven days. Google Maps is available from the Apple App Store for free [Direct Link].

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Customize AirPods Gestures

By default, AirPods let you activate Siri by double tapping either earphone. However, you can customize this. On your iPhone, go to Settings > Bluetooth and select your AirPods’ info button. From here, you can choose your gestures for each AirPod. I personally keep my left AirPod for Siri and my right AirPod for the next song. Be sure to experiment with what works best for you. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

New iPad Pro Coming at WWDC

According to Jun Zhang, we could be seeing a new iPad Pro at this year's WWDC. This iPad Pro is expected to have Face ID. This could also mean we get a larger screen on the iPad, which would look amazing, given the mockup below. WWDC is only a few months away and we did see a new iPad Pro announced at last year's WWDC, so hopefully this is true.

Image Credit: Carlos Guerra

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Free Apple Music Trial with Select Car Purchase

By purchasing a Chrysler, Dodge, FIAT, Jeep, or Ram vehicle with CarPlay support, customers will receive six months of Apple Music for free. This runs until April 2019. While that may not sound like a big deal at first, I find it interesting because I remember so long ago, many dealers would offer a month of Sirius XM for free with a car purchase. I think this represents a big change with the large acceptance of CarPlay among cars today. Sirius XM hasn't been doing as well lately while streaming music has become more and more dominant. The fact that dealers are giving them out is an important point in this transition. 

Monday, March 5, 2018

The State of iBooks

Apple has shown a bit of an identity crisis with their iBooks brand. Aside from the fact that "iBooks" is very similar to the name of their precursor to the MacBook, the iBook, betas of iOS 11.3 have shown the app renamed to simply "Books." There have also been rumored of a completely revamped iBooks coming soon. I think changing the name to Books would be best, as eBooks are a very common form of media today and trying to brand them as your own is a bit tacky in 2018. Apple faces a lot of challenges in the eBook industry, especially from Amazon. Now, being on top in the eBooks arena means very little to be fair. Printed books are still very common. But I think Apple could take a note from their competitors and capitalize on their shortcomings. Let HomePod read your books to you with Siri's voice (similar to Alexa). Maybe add audiobooks or iBooks into Apple Music subscriptions to get more people on board with Apple Music and the Books app. Textbooks have not been touched for years and I think some revamping of iBooks Author to cater to interactive novels, manga, comics, and project books would be a great way to drive creators and a more diverse selection of readers. Think Live Photos, but for books, where illustrations could have subtle movements. This would be great for manuals and DIY project books especially. There is a lot of room for improvement.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Consumer Reports Ranks iPhone X Best Camera

Consumer Reports has ranked that the iPhone X has the best smartphone camera on the market currently. There's no denying that the competition has become very close, with controversy in some rankings. I personally have been loving my iPhone X camera. The optical zoom, Portrait Mode, HEIF, and Live Photos are my favorite features. We've reached a point where megapixels don't matter much anymore and it's all about optics and these nice features.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Apple Watch Sales for 2017

Apple Watch has grown significantly over the past few years. At it's launch, it was hard to get certain models and some questioned the role of the device. However, it is hard to deny the device's popularity today. Many people own one. Looking at sales data from IDC, Apple Watch has outsold every competing smartwatch combined in 2017. That is complete dominance. And I think it is the reason why it's so hard to find other smartwatches in the public today. 

Friday, March 2, 2018

Apple Products Last four Years on Average

Horace Dediu has released a report on the average lifespan of an Apple product. He calculated this with the number of active devices and the total amount of devices sold. Based on the recent earnings call from Apple, Apple has 1.3 billion active devices. Taking into account iPhones, iPads, Macs, and Apple Watches, the average turned out to be four years and three months.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

macOS 11 Concept

We have been on macOS 10 for a long time. Sometimes I wonder if we'll ever get a macOS 11 to simplify versioning. Ãlvaro Pabesio has posted a new concept on his vision for macOS 11. With lots of rumors of iOS apps being compatible on macOS, the concept takes this into account and creates a lot of cool features out of it. I also really like the Proactive Siri function and the use of what he calls "bubbles" as UI elements. I highly recommend you check it out.