The AirPod-And-Touch-Bar Edition Wednesday, December 21, 2016

A Tale Of Two Apples, by Jeff Geerling

The AirPods are a delight to use. Every interaction—from opening them up, to charging them, using Siri, and even configuring them on iOS—is a delight. They're expensive (though not in comparison to similarly-specced wireless headsets), but delight is the reason people pay the 'Apple premium tax' and don't feel terrible about it.

For the Touch Bar, it's as if a manager told a cash-and-time-strapped team: "People are nervous about the Mac. We have to design something new, for the sake of being new, and make it pretty." And they did just that. Made a pretty hardware device that offers little benefit over the boring old function keys it replaced, and jacks up the per-device cost.

Apple AirPods: More Than Just Headphones, by Ben Bajarin, Techpinions

You very quickly realize, the more you use Siri with the AirPods, how much the experience today assumes you have a screen in front of you. For example, if I use the AirPods to activate Siri and say, “What’s the latest news?” Siri will fetch the news then say, “Here is some news — take a look.” The experience assumes I want to use my screen (or it at least assumes I have a screen near me to look at) to read the news.

The Apple AirPods After A Day Of Use, by David Sparks, MacSparky

Interestingly, the AirPods improve dictation accuracy. I ran test with both Dragon Anywhere and Siri dictation and found it more accurate when using the AirPod microphone then using the built-in microphone. I think a lot of work went into the AirPod beam forming microphones.

AirPod Impressions, by Stephen Hackett, 512Pixels

I keep trying to double tap the AirPods to skip tracks. I think that muscle memory is from the old in-line remote, and I’m afraid it’s going to take a while to break.


The Apple Watch Series 2 Review: Building Towards Maturity, by Brandon Chester, AnandTech

The Apple Watch Series 2 really reminds me of the iPad 2. It tackles the areas where its predecessor faltered, and provides a much better experience as a result, but there's still that lingering early adopter feeling that even greater improvements are coming in the next generation. I would imagine that future series of the Apple Watch will bring additional sensors for tracking health information, thinner casings, and hopefully better battery life so features like sleep tracking will be possible.

The LG UltraFine 5K Display Is Now Available For Purchase!, by Mikah Sargent, iMore

Apple's online store says it'll be between 2 and 4 weeks for delivery.

Working With Duet Display, by Jake Underwood, MacStories

Using Duet to connect my MacBook and iPad Pro is comparable to the way you’d expect an external monitor to work. [...] While I wouldn’t recommend trying to play a resource heavy game on your iPad Pro’s screen through Duet, it has no trouble accomplishing productivity tasks.

An App Combats Bullying, One Anonymous Compliment At A Time, by Stacy Suaya, New York Times

Mr. Kevitch is the founder of Brighten, an app that allows users to send compliments to friends anonymously, as a kind of antidote to social media bullying.

AutoSleep Turns The Apple Watch Into An Automatic Sleep Tracker, by Federico Viticci, MacStories

AutoSleep doesn't install any app on your Apple Watch and you don't have to interact with it before going to bed. The app's instructions make it clear: if you want to use your Apple Watch as a sleep tracker, you just need to wear it and sleep. That's it.

HealthFace Puts Health App Data On Your Wrist, by John Voorhees, MacStories

The power of HealthFace is that it unlocks a deep catalog of data stored in the Health app, customized to your preferences, and makes it immediately available on your wrist.

Whiskers On Fleek: New App Lets Your Cat Take A Selfie And Send It To You, by Kris Abel, Metro

Among cats, it’s curiosity that leads to the best selfies. That’s according to the makers of Candid Catmera, an iPhone and iPad app that uses virtual fish, mice, and laser pointers and others treats to entice your feline to come play in front of your mobile device.


The Story Behind The New York Times’ Largest And Most Ambitious Crossword Puzzle, by Nick Statt, The Verge

Among the neat collection of puzzle maker interviews and number and word games is a particularly unprecedented challenge, a puzzle larger than any The New York Times has ever constructed. The 50x50, 738-clue monstrosity covers two entire broadsheet pages. It may take even experienced puzzle solvers many days to complete. [...]

The goal is to take advantage of the tactile, aesthetic, and nostalgic qualities of ink on paper, at a time when the death of print news is but a foregone conclusion for publications whose digital operations cannot keep them afloat.

Rumors Of The Day

How Apple Alienated Mac Loyalists, by Mark Gurman, Bloomberg

Apple re-organized its software engineering department so there's no longer a dedicated Mac operating system team. There is now just one team, and most of the engineers are iOS first, giving the people working on the iPhone and iPad more power.

When Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone on stage, he called the operating system "OS X". And this was how he described OS X: "It's got multi-tasking. It's got the best networking. It already knows how to power manage... It's got awesome security. And the right apps. It's got everything from Cocoa and the graphics and it's got core animation built in and it's got the audio and video that OS X is famous for. It's got all the stuff we want."

Now, fast forward ten years and reverse the two products. Why wouldn't you want the Mac to reap the benefits of the iPhone's foundation? Especially with the assurance from Apple that the two products will not be merged, and a Mac will still be a Mac? Of course Apple is going to put more resources on the development of iPhone over the Mac. Having a single team makes it easier for Mac OS to have new features, I would think.

(I wonder if iMessage on iPhone and iMessage on Mac are created from a single or separate teams.)

Engineers are now "asked to develop multiple options in hopes that one of them will be shippable," a person familiar with the matter said.

Didn't Apple investigate different options for the iPhone (iPod OS versus OS X) before deciding which one to ship? Didn't Apple continue to build OS X on Intel for years until it is shippable? And, if rumors were true, didn't Apple spend quite a bit of time and effort on an Apple Car before deciding that is not shippable?

How is this not a tradition at Apple, I wonder? Is it the thinner resources?

In the run-up to the MacBook Pro's planned debut this year, the new battery failed a key test, according to a person familiar with the situation. Rather than delay the launch and risk missing the crucial holiday shopping season, Apple decided to revert to an older design.

A new innovative design failed just before launch. That's not new at Apple. (Witness the AirPods.) This shouldn't raise too loud an alarm, should it? If this was a last-minute revamp, my gut feeling is that adding more resources to the project doesn't make the final deliverables better.

Because of the earlier challenges, some Apple engineers have raised the possibility of moving production back to Asia, where it's cheaper and manufacturers have the required skills for ambitious products, according to a person familiar with those internal discussions.

The political environment is tougher for such a move now.

Okay, the political climate is unfortunate. But, I do think Apple has lost interest in making Macs that doesn't come with a screen.