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Apple

Apple and the War of the Ems and the Ens

Tuesday, 11 July, 2017 0 Comments

In short: Apple’s upcoming iOS 11 will replace the convention of typing two hyphens to obtain a “long dash”, the so-called em dash —. So today, if you type – – it’s turned into —. With iOS 11, however, two hyphens become the shorter en dash: –. And to get an em dash, you’ll have to type three hyphens - - -.

Is this important? Glenn Fleishman thinks it is and he has devoted a detailed post to the matter. His conclusion: This change appears in the beta release of iOS 11, so it may not end up in the final version later this year.

By the way, the most famous em dash user was Emily Dickinson, who employed it in her poetry to emphasize emotion and punctuation —

Luck is not chance

Luck is not chance—
It’s Toil—
Fortune’s expensive smile
Is earned—
The Father of the Mine
Is that old-fashioned Coin
We spurned—

Emily Dickinson (1830 — 1886)


iPhone: A perfect 10 for the perfect device at 10

Friday, 30 June, 2017 0 Comments

“Here’s to the #iPhone that changed the world, to the man who dreamed it & the people at Apple who have never stopped looking to its future.” So tweeted @tim_cook yesterday.

It’s been ten years since the iPhone went on sale and, looking back, John Gruber gives it a “Perfect Ten.” Snippet:

“The iPhone’s potential was obviously deep, but it was so deep as to be unfathomable at the time. The original iPhone didn’t even shoot video; today the iPhone and iPhone-like Android phones have largely killed the point-and-shoot camera industry. It has obviated portable music players, audio recorders, paper maps, GPS devices, flashlights, walkie-talkies, music radio (with streaming music), talk radio (with podcasts), and more. Ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft wouldn’t even make sense pre-iPhone. Social media is mobile-first, and in some cases mobile-only.”

Gruber adds that Nokia and BlackBerry weren’t just disrupted by the iPhone, they were “utterly obliterated.” And he declares that the full potential of the iPhone is still to be discovered: “No product in the computing age compares to the iPhone in terms of societal or financial impact. Few products in the history of the world compare. We may never see anything like it again — from Apple or from anyone else.”

For all those who now say that they saw it coming, a re-reading of “Mobile, smartphones and hindsight,” which Benedict Evens published on 9 February last year continues to reward. Superbly researched, beautifully presented and elegantly written, the piece is filled with wisdom:

“It’s always fun to laugh at the people who said the future would never happen. But it’s more useful to look at the people who got it almost right, but not quite enough. That’s what happened in mobile. As we look now at new emerging industries, such as VR and AR or autonomous cars, we can see many of the same issues.”

The future happened 10 years ago and the words used by Steve Jobs when he revealed the iPhone to the world continue to echo:

“So, three things: a widescreen iPod with touch controls; a revolutionary mobile phone; and a breakthrough Internet communications device. An iPod, a phone, and an Internet communicator. An iPod, a phone… are you getting it?

These are not three separate devices, this is one device, and we are calling it iPhone.”

Perfect. 10.


WeChat is the world in China

Saturday, 6 May, 2017 0 Comments

Ben Thompson writing on Wednesday about Apple iPhone sales in China distills the challenges into one word, one app: WeChat. Here’s how he puts it:

“The fundamental issue is this: unlike the rest of the world, in China the most important layer of the smartphone stack is not the phone’s operating system. Rather, it is WeChat. Connie Chan of Andreessen Horowitz tried to explain in 2015 just how integrated WeChat is into the daily lives of nearly 900 million Chinese, and that integration has only grown since then: every aspect of a typical Chinese person’s life, not just online but also off is conducted through a single app (and, to the extent other apps are used, they are often games promoted through WeChat).”

The piece by Connie Chan referred to by Thompson is the must-read for anyone wishing to learn about the WeChat phenomenon: When One App Rules Them All: The Case of WeChat and Mobile in China. And for those who don’t get the revolution that WeChat represents, this paragraph by Ben Thompson is sobering:

“There is nothing in any other country that is comparable: not LINE, not WhatsApp, not Facebook. All of those are about communication or wasting time: WeChat is that, but it is also for reading news, for hailing taxis, for paying for lunch (try and pay with cash for lunch, and you’ll look like a luddite), for accessing government resources, for business. For all intents and purposes WeChat is your phone, and to a far greater extent in China than anywhere else, your phone is everything.”

WeChat


Appleology and Renishaw

Tuesday, 2 May, 2017 0 Comments

In the grim days of the Cold War, the expression “Kremlin Watching” had relevance. It referred less to the specific building, the Moscow Kremlin, than to what it represented: the Soviet Government. This was an institution that people had good reason to watch with care as the smallest signal might offer an indication of what was happening and what might be expected next. Out of “Kremlin Watching” grew “Kremlinology”, which persists in the English language, being used figuratively to decrypt the actions of large, powerful, opaque institutions.

Apple is one such institution and Apple Watching has become a survival skill for those who wish to understand how modern fortunes are made and lost. Back at the beginning of last month, investors woke up to the news that shares in the UK chip designer Imagination Technologies had plunged more than 60 percent after Apple said it would end a deal to use its products. Apple uses the chips in its iPhones, iPads, and iPods under a licensing agreement and its royalty payments account for about half of Imagination’s revenues. The company’s shares promptly fell 165 pence to 103 pence, valuing it at about £250 million – down from about £765 million before the announcement was made. Why? Apple Watchers revealed that Apple is developing its own chip technology.

But for every downside there’s an upside and that’s very good news for investors in Renishaw Plc. Who? “We are a global company with core skills in measurement, motion control, healthcare, spectroscopy and manufacturing,” says the Gloucestershire-based firm. But there’s more to the story than that. In a recent note to clients, Stephen Swanton of the research firm Redburn pointed out that while Renishaw has never explicitly said Apple uses its technology, a Renishaw probe was shown in an iPhone promotional video as the device’s casing was being machined. Such are the fleeting signs that Appleologists must be alert to.

“The iPhone is now made to a level of precision not far away from that at which Rolls-Royce operates with aero engine fan-blade manufacturing,” said Swanton in a display of the finest Appleology that was subsequently quoted by Bloomberg.

The iPhone 8 is predicted to launch by September, 10 years after the original iPhone premiered. Expect lots and lots of Appleology between now and then.


Expressive video, says Apple

Wednesday, 22 March, 2017 0 Comments

Cupertino, California — “Apple today introduced Clips, a new app that makes it quick and fun for anyone to create expressive videos on iPhone and iPad. The app features a unique design for combining video clips, photos and music into great-looking videos to share with friends through the Messages app, or on Instagram, Facebook and other popular social networks.”

That’s how yesterday’s PR release from Apple about its new Clips app begins. The word “expressive” does not appear anywhere in the Clips text so the curious reader has to search further for enlightenment. Is expressive video like immersive video? Or is it a format like FLV video, MP4 video or AVI video?

Susan Prescott, Apple’s VP of Apps Product Marketing, has the answer: “Clips gives iPhone and iPad users a new way to express themselves through video, and it’s incredibly easy to use.” Ah, so obvioius. And it’s incredibly easy for Apple to create new video categories. After expressive video, we can expect communicative video, indicative video, demonstrative video and assertive video, no doubt.

The most interesting aspect of Clips is what Apple calls “Live Titles.” This feature lets users create animated captions and titles using their voice. Effects include speech bubbles, shapes and posters. The captions are generated automatically, as you speak, appearing on screen synced with your voice and you can change them by adding your own text, punctuation or emoji.

Live Titles supports 36 different languages and the Clips app will be available for free in the App Store at the beginning in April. Over to you, Samsung.

Clips


The rise and rise of the femme bots

Wednesday, 22 February, 2017 0 Comments

Joanna Stern, writing in The Wall Street Journal: Alexa, Siri, Cortana: The Problem With All-Female Digital Assistants. Snippet:

“You get the point: The virtual assistants popping up in our lives sound overwhelmingly female. ‘I’m female in character,’ Amazon’s Alexa responds if you ask her if she is a woman. In their own clever ways Google, Apple and Microsoft’s voice assistants will tell you they’re genderless…in unmistakably womanlike voices.

As femme bot after femme bot has invaded our phones , speakers, cars, TVs — even our refrigerators — I’ve been left wondering: Where the man bots at? And why do these hunks of plastic and electronics need to be assigned a gender at all? My Amazon Echo doesn’t have any reproductive organs.”

Apple’s Siri, by the way, is the only one of this bunch of bots with a male voice option: “Siri may default to a female voice in the U.S. but Apple provides both male and female voice options for iPhone and iPad users to choose from. In fact, on iPhones where the language is Arabic, French, Dutch or British English, Siri defaults to a male voice.”

Men and women may prefer female voices for their digital assistants, @WSJ writes, but adds, “it’s about time we had more male options.”


iPhone: It was ten years ago today

Monday, 9 January, 2017 0 Comments

“iPhone is an essential part of our customers’ lives, and today more than ever it is redefining the way we communicate, entertain, work and live,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “iPhone set the standard for mobile computing in its first decade and we are just getting started. The best is yet to come.”

On this day in 2007 in San Francisco, Steve Jobs casually took out of his pocket a product that would change how millions of people communicate. Everyone knew it was going to be a phone, but no one outside Apple had any idea what kind of phone. The “respected” technology commentator John Dvorak had this to say in response to the presentation of the iPhone:

“Now compare that effort and overlay the mobile handset business. This is not an emerging business. In fact it’s gone so far that it’s in the process of consolidation with probably two players dominating everything, Nokia and Motorola…

…The problem here is that while Apple can play the fashion game as well as any company, there is no evidence that it can play it fast enough. These phones go in and out of style so fast that unless Apple has half a dozen variants in the pipeline, its phone, even if immediately successful, will be passé within 3 months.”

And Nokia and Motorola phones today? Exactly. And Apple? In Cupertino on 27 July last year, Tim Cook announced that the company had sold its billionth iPhone.

iPhone


Apple and Tesla at Trump Tower

Thursday, 15 December, 2016 0 Comments

Here’s the context: “After Wednesday’s meeting, Mr. Cook of Apple and Mr. Musk of Tesla stayed at Trump Tower to meet privately with Mr. Trump.” It’s a small detail but the Wall Street Journal has it and none of its rivals, either by omission, commission or lack of access, does.

At the start of yesterday’s meeting with President-elect Donald Trump, the “tech titans” introduced themselves individually in a breaking-the-ice ceremony. “Larry Page, Alphabet and Google, probably the youngest company here,” said Larry Page.

Donald Trump: “Looks like the youngest person.” [Laughs]

Mr. Page: “Really excited to be here.”

Larry Page is 43, so one can understand his boyish enthusiasm. The CEO of Apple is 56 and less excitable, however. “Tim Cook, very good to be here. And I look very forward to talking to the president-elect about the things that we can do to help you achieve some things you want.”

As many have pointed out, he was the only leader who didn’t say what company he worked for. But when the others had left, Mr. Cook of Apple and Mr. Musk of Tesla stayed at Trump Tower to meet privately with Mr. Trump.


10 Years in 10 Seconds

Friday, 21 October, 2016 0 Comments

When Apple celebrated its 40th anniversary earlier this year, it made a commemorative video titled 40 Years in 40 Seconds. So, will it release a 10-second video next year to mark the 10th anniversary of the launching of the iPhone? Steve Jobs unveiled the magical device to the public on 9 January 2007 at the Macworld convention in San Francisco, and the first generation arrived in the shops on 29 June. Ten years later, it remains the best mobile phone on the market.

One school of thought believes Apple will ignore the anniversary completely and focus on the future, while another thinks that it will names next year’s version the “iPhone 10” and turn the anniversary into a major branding event. The feeling here is that the occasion will be marked in a special way on 9 January.

“Every once in a while, a revolutionary product comes along that changes everything. And Apple has been — well, first of all, one’s very fortunate if you get to work on just one of these in your career.
Apple’s been very fortunate. It’s been able to introduce a few of these into the world.
In 1984, we introduced the Macintosh. It didn’t just change Apple, it changed the whole computer industry.
In 2001, we introduced the first iPod, and… it didn’t just – it didn’t just change the way we all listen to music, it changed the entire music industry.
Well, today, we’re introducing three revolutionary products of this class.

The first one: is a widescreen iPod with touch controls.
The second: is a revolutionary mobile phone.
And the third is a breakthrough Internet communications device.

So, three things: a widescreen iPod with touch controls; a revolutionary mobile phone; and a breakthrough Internet communications device.

An iPod, a phone, and an Internet communicator. An iPod, a phone … are you getting it?
These are not three separate devices, this is one device, and we are calling it iPhone.
Today, today Apple is going to reinvent the phone, and here it is.”

Excerpt: Transcript — Steven Jobs, iPhone Keynote, 9 January 2007


Samsung up in smoke; HTC and Huawei burned

Tuesday, 11 October, 2016 0 Comments

In business schools all over the world, the Samsung Galaxy Note7 case study is guaranteed to be popular. Case studies about the fall of video-rental companies or the rise of low-cost airlines are interesting in their own way, but because so many business students have a smartphone made in Asia, this one is, like, personal.

Fire Today’s press release headline is worthy of study: “Samsung Will Ask All Global Partners to Stop Sales and Exchanges of Galaxy Note7 While Further Investigation Takes Place.” One can almost sense the trust people have in Samsung’s products going up in smoke as that was being typed, and the jokes have started: “Galaxy Note 7 — the smartphone that doubles as a lighter.”

It’s the cover-up that gets you, they say, and it seems all the initial work Samsung did to undo the Note 7 damage has been undone by its ongoing denial that the phone was still dangerous. With its aggressive, can-do culture, this world leader in electronics could not imagine making a disastrous safety mistake… Twice!

Samsung’s nightmare does not automatically mean good news for HTC, however. Google has picked the Taiwanese electronics company to assemble its new Pixel smartphone, but by becoming for Google what Foxconn is to Apple, HTC has lost status. “HTC, You Loser” wrote Bloomberg technology columnist Tim Culpan: “After spending years building its design and engineering chops, HTC has been demoted to water boy. Supplying Google with smartphones isn’t a victory — it’s an embarrassing end to HTC’s decade-long campaign to break out of that contract-manufacturing business and stand on its own two feet.”

The catastrophe at Samsung and the degrading of HTC should work in favour of Huawei Technologies, the Chinese telecommunications giant, but David Ruddock of Android Police pours cold water on that one:

“Google began talks with Huawei to produce its 2016 smartphone portfolio. Google, though, set a hard rule for the partnership: Huawei would be relegated to a manufacturing role, producing phones with Google branding. The Huawei logo and name would be featured nowhere on the devices’ exteriors or in their marketing… According to our source, word spread inside Huawei quickly that global CEO Richard Yu himself ended negotiations with Google right then and there.”

Meanwhile, Apple has brought forward its earnings report for the fourth fiscal quarter (third calendar quarter) of 2016. “Due to a scheduling conflict, Apple’s conference call to discuss fourth fiscal quarter results has been moved to Tuesday, October 25,” the company announced yesterday. It’s not clear what the conflict is, but there’s no smoke without fire. Also yesterday, Apple’s share price bounced 1.75 percent, hitting an intraday high of $116.75, the highest level since 10 December 2015.


iPhone 7 photos

Monday, 12 September, 2016 0 Comments

No, not photos of the iPhone 7; photos by the iPhone 7. The first thing that has to be said is these look like professional magazine photos, not smartphone photos. The depth of field is really impressive. Thoughts: Is this the final nail in the coffin of consumer stand-alone cameras? And will next year’s iPhone 8 camera allow 3D capture for object and VR? Anyway, here’s the story:

“On Sunday, Sports Illustrated photographer David E. Klutho took photos with the new iPhone 7 Plus camera at the Titans-Vikings game. The iPhone 7 Plus has a 12–megapixel telephoto camera that offers new zooming capabilities. Each new model also features a wider aperture and a lens that allows the camera to capture brighter and more vibrant colors in photos and videos.”

iPhone7 photos