Monday, April 30, 2018

A Day Made of Glass in 2018

About seven years ago, Corning posted the video below. The video shows off a concept called "A Day Made of Glass," where glass technology can be utilized to create a cohesive and immersive experience throughout your day. I would watch this thinking it was the future. However, it seems we're getting closer to this than ever. While the full glass technology isn't on our horizon, the functionality depicted is possible. With assistants like Alexa and smart appliances in our homes, we've already setup the framework for this type of functionality. Even our phones have edge-to-edge displays. Not everything in the video will be what Corning predicted, like 3D TVs and non-self driving cars, but it's nice to look back on. Be sure to check out the video below.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

T-Mobile and Sprint

T-Mobile and Sprint have finally agreed on terms that would allow them to merge. A lot of their marketing on this revolves around 5G rollout. Their combined power in the industry would allow them to roll out 5G quick and easy. I'm definitely looking forward to seeing how it will play out. I don't think it will revolutionize anything, but I'd like to see LTE become much more affordable and obtainable, especially with regards to throttling. 

Saturday, April 28, 2018

The Need to Lower iPhone Prices

iPhone X was way over-stocked in the post holiday season. The phone that brought so much change while serving as a culmination of ten years of iPhone has hit a roadblock. The main barrier in iPhone X is clearly the price. I think Apple's headed in the right direction with the LCD model that's rumored to come out this year, as well as the iPhone 8 line, but I think they're not understanding their audience. Normal people want an iPhone at a normal price. They likely don't care about LCD vs. OLED. A larger display might not mean much. In addition, the lineup is too confusing. I remember when the iPhone lineup was simple. If you ask what the newest iPhones were, you would hear the the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X are the newest models. Why is there no iPhone 9? What makes the iPhone X so special? A lot of unnecessary confusion is brought to the consumer. They may be confused as to why the iPhone X is so expensive, especially if they don't understand OLED technology. Apple needs to cleanup their lineup this year. Make the iPhone X-style display standard, but don't force OLED technology and cut prices. Make a more legitimate reason to upgrade to the high-end model than just OLED and Animoji.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Apple's VR Headset

Apple has been very clear about its interest with AR for iOS and VR for macOS. However, the VR industry is very non-consumer-friendly. It requires too much work and preparation from the consumer. Apple wants to change this [Source: CNET]. It would have two 8K displays (one for each eye) and be tethered to a "box" instead of a computer. It doesn't require external sensors either. It would work with AR and VR. This sounds very cool. Simplifying VR is a huge unique feature, but Apple needs to make the rest of their ecosystem play nice, which I'm sure Apple can do. Apple needs to make their computers work better with games if they want to create a respected VR platform. Macs are notoriously bad for gaming today. Also, I think AR features should work without the box if possible. Think VR is console gaming and AR is the handheld. AR works much better on the go, for things like navigation, and VR is great for immersion, like watching a movie. If these could look stylish enough to wear in public, we could have something cool on our hands. Granted, we don't know many specifics, like pricing, but it's still a cool idea. 

Thursday, April 26, 2018

AirPort Officially Discontinued

AirPort products were officially discontinued by Apple today, meaning any remaining stock will be the last we'll see of it [Source: iMore]. AirPort products were wireless routers made by Apple. The AirPort Time Capsule supported wireless Time Machine backup and the AirPort Express supported AirPlay. I can understand why Apple would want to discontinue this line, since it wasn't integral to Apple's main ecosystem, but I feel like if they expanded it with more unique features and advertised it more, it could've sold better. I would like it if they made them into iBeacons, so you could automate HomeKit devices when you're near one. Regardless, it's clear Apple wants to move onto bigger and better things.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Sonos and AirPlay 2

We've heard little from Apple on the status on AirPlay 2. It's a nice idea, but we haven't actually seen it in action for the most part. Sonos has confirmed that some of their speakers will support AirPlay 2 [SourcE: Mac Observer]. Any Sonos speaker with touch controls will have AirPlay 2 support. Speakers without support can gain support if they are paired with a compatible Sonos speaker that is compatible with AirPlay 2. Hopefully this means that AirPlay 2 functionality isn't too far off.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Amazon Delivery to your Car

Amazon Key was a weird concept. It requires a double take from most people. It allowed whoever was delivering your package to enter your house (given it has a compatible smart lock) and place your package in your home. There were precautions taken to ensure to reduce the risk of malicious intent. However, now Amazon Key is expanding to your car. Select Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, Cadillac and Volvo cars will be able to be unlocked by Amazon Key so you can choose to have your package delivered to your car. To check this out for yourself, download the Amazon Key app from the Apple App Store [Direct Link].

Monday, April 23, 2018

iPhone X Satisfaction Rates

According to John Gruber, the iPhone X has a 97 percent satisfaction rate. However, breaking down this data further reveals something interesting. Looking feature by feature, there are great ratings across the board, with almost every feature above 80 percent satisfaction. All but two: Portrait Selfies and Siri. Portrait Selfies comes in at a fair 60 percent, but Siri is at 20 percent. I believe this is another sign to Apple to get Siri up to snuff with its competition. With Alexa, I don't have to memorize every feature. I can ask it, and I typically get a response, especially with trivial questions. With Siri, my commands are scripted. I ask things I know I'll get a response to. Anything from that will return a Bing search. In iOS 12, I'd love to see Siri finally catch up with its competitors.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Why the iPhone SE 2 is Imminent

Aside from rumors, I believe there is a logistical reason to believe that the iPhone SE 2 will launch very soon. The iPhone 6s will no longer be available to purchase this year. As the last iPhone to sport a headphone jack, and with Apple embracing a wireless future, I could see Apple releasing a new iPhone SE 2 without a headphone jack. This would cause all iPhones sold by Apple to have no headphone jack. This ultimately creates a standard that accessories must adhere to, like the Square credit card reader for example, which uses the headphone jack. A May launch seems very fitting if rumors hold true. 

Saturday, April 21, 2018

iOS 11 App Store Fostering App Downloads

iOS 11 introduced a revamped App Store, with curated articles and app collections. According to TechCrunch, apps featured as "App of the Day" or "Game of the Day" by the new App Store may see a download boost by up to 800 percent. Developer stories and app lists increase downloads by up to 240 percent. Overall, it's nice to see how the new App Store can help increase downloads for developers.

Image Credit: Sensor Tower

Friday, April 20, 2018

iPhone SE 2 May Release?

Just when I thought we ran out of hope, it seems that we have some good evidence suggesting a May release for the iPhone SE 2. According to Mac Otakara, case makers are saying that the iPhone SE 2 will have no headphone jack and feature Touch ID. Touch ID likely means Face ID will not be on the iPhone SE 2, which also likely means that we will have a regular display. In addition, some legal documents filed in April for unreleased iPhones are suggesting a May release, as we saw similar documents being submitted for a new iPad in February, with a release in March. It would be nice to finally see the iPhone SE get a proper refresh, even if it isn't that significant.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Alexa Skill Blueprints

Amazon Echo has brought another enticing feature to its platform, Alexa Skill Blueprints. I've done some coding for Amazon Alexa in the past. It take a good amount of commitment to get acquainted with. However, Alexa Skill Blueprints gives custom functionality to Alexa without the need for code. It's simple input/output. When you set a custom question, Alexa will issue a custom response. This only works on that device, which gives each device more personality. The potential here is limitless. Things like leaving instructions for a house sitter is just one of many ideas for this. Alexa Skill Blueprints are currently available in the U.S. and owners can get started on the Amazon Alexa website.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

$550 6.1" iPhone Coming in 2018?

Part of the issue with the iPhone X and its sales is the price. Ming-Chi Kuo predicts that Apple will release a 6.1" iPhone priced as low as $550. This would likely be an LCD model, not an OLED, with the iPhone X design. This would likely make the transition to an iPhone X-style screen go much quicker. That's also very encouraging to app developers to optimize their apps for the new display. Hopefully, this price is in the ballpark and we see adoption.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Apple Park Drone Shots

Duncan Sinfield is a drone videographer that frequently gets drone shots of Apple Park. However, he fears that his Apple Park visits may come to an end soon. He states that within ten minutes of takeoff, two security cars are sent to his location where he is asked to stop. He politely respects their wishes and leaves. He also uses this as a warning for others hoping to get drone shots of Apple Park. While I understand any disappointment regarding this, it does make sense that Apple would want to regulate third-party drones for both safety and security reasons. Duncan's drone footage is below if you'd like to see it.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Why You Shouldn't Worry About GrayKey Box

GrayKey Box has been making the news lately. GrayKey Box is a device that can unlock an iPhone. It has been heavily marketed to police forces. Suddenly, you have clickbait articles telling you to change your passcode to alphanumeric. Relax. Let's get two things straight. First, as a regular law-abiding citizen, there's no reason to believe your phone will be confiscated. But more importantly, GrayKey Box has no promise of being future-proof, as a single update from Apple could close this backdoor. In addition, these cost $15,000 for the base-model, and $30,000 for the enhanced model. A regular thief won't have access to this. So, don't worry. Your iPhone is as secure as it always has been.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Apple and Advertising

I've voiced a lot of criticisms about HomePod. However, I think it's important to look at what makes HomePod different. While I do believe, to some extent, HomePod was a rushed product, HomePod does bring technologies that Google Home and Amazon Alexa can't touch. Having iMessage capabilities, sound quality, and the Apple ecosystem are huge wins for HomePod, but Apple never mentions it, at least in their marketing. I'm tired of seeing all these "hip and with the kids" iPhone X ads from Apple. They're too weird and off-putting to me knowing their long history with advertisements. Apple ads used to have wit, charm, emotion, and creativity put into them. Not some kid licking watermelon off an iPad because... education. I think if Apple made an ad showing how these devices worked together so well, instead of just focusing on one product, more people would be aware of what a HomePod is and why we want one. Apple has become known as the company with an ecosystem that works so well together over the past few years and they should definitely capitalize on it. Maybe make a series of advertisements for different lifestyles. Call them things like "iPhone + Apple Watch" and "iPad + Apple TV." Show how combinations of their products will bring a cohesive experience to everyday tasks. Make the consumer want to see more combinations and peak their interest. I would love a creative change in their marketing like this.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Apple Wanted a Gold iPhone X

Documents from the FCC reveal that the iPhone X was supposed to release in a gold color [Source: MacRumors]. This document was filed in September, which suggests that the gold color may have been axed at the last second. Despite this, rumors have surfaced lately about a potential release of a gold iPhone X. I honestly don't think it would be in Apple's best interest to release it now, especially after the release of the PRODUCT(RED) iPhone 8.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Apple's Warning to Leakers

It's no secret that there have been a ton of leaks for Apple products in the recent history. In truly ironic fashion, Apple has released a document that details punishments for leakers, and that document has been leaked itself [Source Bloomberg]. In short, the document goes over how many employees have been caught and fired over leaking information. It also seems to implicitly confirm that iOS 12 will likely be feature-light and focused on bug fixes. I recommend viewing the whole document for those who are curious. But this is interesting to see Apple stepping up on leakers. I wouldn't mind less rumors just for more surprise at Apple events. 

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Ring Smart Doorbell Price Drop

Ring was recently acquired by Amazon and, as a result, Amazon has discounted the entry-level Ring Video Doorbell. Down from $149, the video doorbell is now just $99. Ring Video Doorbells allow the user to get notifications when your doorbell has been rung and lets you see and talk to whoever is at the door. These doorbells are often used as a crime deterrent. In addition, Ring is still promising HomeKit support for Apple users. The entry-level Ring Video Doorbell is available from Amazon for $99 [Affiliate Link].

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

HomePod Sales Cut

Apple is beginning to notice the repercussions of the HomePod's rushed production. According to Bloomberg, Apple has cut the amount of HomePods produced due to poor sales. Some stores have supposedly sold less than 10 units a day. I think a lot of this is due to a lack of innovation on Apple's part. I've gone on many times before about how this is Apple playing catchup with the smart speaker market and how HomePod had potential that isn't here at launch. I do believe that HomePod sales will pick up when AirPlay 2 comes out, but not significantly. If sales do pick up significantly, it will likely be the holiday season, potentially a Black Friday sale. Additionally, if Siri can do significantly more in iOS 12, this would also drive up sales. For now, there isn't much reason to buy a HomePod. Maybe we'll hear more about it at WWDC this year.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Why There's No Red iPhone X

Whenever there's any coverage on the new PRODUCT(RED) iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus models, people seem to wish there was a PRODUCT(RED) iPhone X. Personally, I think Apple wouldn't want to waste money making it in red. While tech journalists may have some demand for a red iPhone X, consumers likely won't be willing to buy a new, expensive iPhone just to have it in red. No one was really holding off on buying an iPhone X because of a red color. A red folio was a good middle ground. Owners of the iPhone X can easily swap out their case for a new look without having to buy a new iPhone and prospective owners can focus on two simple, yet striking colors. I will say that I'm not a fan of the iPhone X folio. I opted for a regular leather case because the folio feels very cheap for the $99 price tag. It feels like a regular leather case glued onto a foldable case. Regardless, it's nice that Apple gave iPhone X users a chance to get a PRODUCT(RED) accessory for their iPhone.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Apple Music Playlist Covers

I was going through my Apple Music library and I found that my playlist covers were not aesthetically pleasing. In the "Recently Added" view, playlists are shown in the same area as albums. By default, playlists show up to four quarters of album artwork contained in the playlist. The issue? This often makes playlists blend into your albums. In addition, you don't have much say which albums are shown in the art, so if you have multiple playlists that share albums, they may look very similar. However, in the "For You" section, you'll find curated mixes for you, like the "Chill Mix." The artwork for these mixes are simple, the Apple Music logo with the title text below it on top of a simple gradient. This art is nice and simplistic, but it also pops. So, I made some mockups of my own playlists. Personally, I think letting Apple Music users have the ability to natively create their own playlist artwork would be great. Adding more customization to a playlist makes it more personal and encourages sharing. Plus, you can easily pick them out when surrounded by albums. I would like it if Apple made this more accessible to Apple Music users.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

(PRODUCT)RED iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus Release Imminent

According to MacRumors, Virgin Mobile leaked an internal document stating that the rumored (PRODUCT)RED iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus will be announced tomorrow. Supposedly, there will be pre-orders, so they may not ship immediately. It should also be noted that there probably won't be a (PRODUCT)RED iPhone X. There is some hope for an announcement about AirPower tomorrow as well.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Google's Chief of Search and AI Acquired by Apple

Apple has hired Google's chief of search and artificial intelligence [Source: The New York Times]. This is a great hire by Apple. I think this will take Siri in a much better direction than it was going before, especially with HomePod on the market. I think within the next two years, we could see a radically different Siri, as Apple has been ramping up on hires for A.I. recently. 

Friday, April 6, 2018

Apple Over-Ear Headphones Concept

There have been some rumors of Apple developing a pair of high-end over-ear headphones under the Apple brand. With AirPods, EarPods, and HomePod, I'm guessing this could be called HeadPods. Just a random guess. stepped in and made their concept for (Over)EarPods. I love the inspiration it takes from HomePod. However, I'm not sure if there would be much use for the LED panel on the side. I do like it design-wise, but I don't see much potential for it. I wouldn't mind seeing this with USB-C or Lightning support, as opposed to the micro-USB connector of the Beats brand. Be sure to check out the video below for a full concept.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

New Mac Pro Launching in 2019

From TechCrunch, Apple's new Mac Pro will be launching in 2019. Apple is stressing that this Mac will be truly geared towards professionals. This has been a growing concern in recent years, so it's nice to have acknowledgement directly from Apple. Apple also stated that it will not be launching any sooner, so don't expect some miracle breakthrough. I'm looking forward to seeing what Apple has planned. Their transparency is hopefully a sign of change for professionals who need Apple's tech to keep up.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Apple App Store Quality Control

Quality over quantity is Apple's policy with the App Store. Last year, Apple enforced a new policy that would strictly cut down on apps that weren't being updated properly. Trust me, there's no worse feeling than downloading an app that does a specific function, but it's terribly outdated. Especially when there's no other option. According to Appfigures, the App Store's app count is down. It wouldn't surprise me if the majority of these removed apps were completely abandoned.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Intel i9 Processors

With news of Apple making their own processor chips by 2020, Intel has just announced their new Intel i9 processors. These are specifically designed for laptop performance. It could possibly be in a MacBook Pro refresh this year. They also refreshed their i5 and i7 processors for desktops. Now, if you can't tell by how I'm writing this post, I'm not an expert on processors. I'm a software guy. So, putting this in relation to software, it's exciting to see a new standard of higher performance coming in the near future. Hopefully, we see some refreshes this year with WWDC coming soon. 

Monday, April 2, 2018

The State of Apple Watch Apps

The Apple Watch has been more and more popular. It has undeniable growth. Yet, Instagram has become one of the latest apps to remove Apple Watch functionality. Why is this? Apple's vision is that the Apple Watch exists so you don't have to use your iPhone, your iPhone exists so you don't have to use your iPad, and your iPad exists so you don't have to use your Mac. The trickle down effect doesn't seem to work exactly the same with the Apple Watch. Apple Watch apps clearly don't work in the context of social media and games. They work with fitness apps and notifications forwarded from iPhone apps. Developers are realizing this. This shouldn't discourage any prospective Apple Watch owners. I rarely use Apple Watch apps, but Apple Watch acts as a pager of sorts. It can forward notifications and you can decide whether to take action on those notifications on your iPhone. 

Sunday, April 1, 2018

April Fools' Day 2018

This year felt like one of the biggest years for April Fools' jokes from technology companies, yet Google wasn't nearly as involved as it was in previous years. TwelveSouth is selling a desk that goes around your neck. Discord is announcing an update that will randomly crash to "keep you on your toes." I especially enjoyed Logitech and Google Japan's ideas, which I've embedded below. For Google Japan's video, be sure to turn on English captions.