The Great-Experiences Edition Thursday, June 8, 2017

And The 2017 Apple Design Award Winners Are..., by Rene Ritchie, iMore

I had the opportunity to meet with the winners, talk to them about their apps, and hear many of their stories. What struck me about each and every one was how above and beyond they went to make great experiences for as many customers as possible.

They all thought deeply not just about the app or game's primary function, but about using Apple frameworks in new and novel ways. Localization was also high on every list, with translations for half a dozen or more geographies — even 32 in one case!

Likewise accessibility. Making great apps means making them great for everyone, and more and more developers are doing just that.

How Apple Reinvigorated Its AI Aspirations In Under A Year, by Andrew Tarantola, Engadget

In the span between two WWDCs, the company managed to release a neural network API, drastically expand its research efforts, poach one of the country's top minds in AI from one of the nation's foremost universities, reverse two years of backwards policy, join the industry's working group as a charter member and finally -- finally -- deliver a Siri assistant that's smarter than a box of rocks. Next year's WWDC is sure to be even more wild.

Home Sweet Home

Apple Debuts New Shot On iPhone Ad ‘Earth’ With Narration From Carl Sagan, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Sagan’s narration is overlaid onto a variety of different videos, all of which were shot with an iPhone. [...]

The new ad is simply entitled “Earth” and focuses on preserving and enjoying “our only home.”

Apple’s Latest iPhone Ad Is A Love Note To Earth, by Rich McCormick, The Verge

Apple’s newest ad features an array of short clips, shot on iPhone by regular users, underscored by the calming voice of astronomer Carl Sagan. The crisp and clear clips — of forests, beaches, and mountains, of insects and birds — serve to advertise the smartphone’s camera, certainly, but the choice of natural imagery and Carl Sagan’s voiceover feel like a pointed message in the wake Donald Trump’s decision to back out of the Paris environmental agreement.

New Macs

The New MacBook Keyboard Is Better, But Not Enough To Convince The Doubters, by Dieter Bohn, The Verge

The keys have a slightly updated butterfly mechanism compared to last year’s model — they’re more similar to the keys on the MacBook Pro now. That doesn’t mean that they have a ton more key travel, though, because they feel about the same to me. I think I prefer the newer keyboard; it’s a little less clacky and the keys feel a little softer as you press down, but there’s still a satisfying click when you hit them. The finish is a little more matte, and Apple added the proper symbols above the Control and Option keys.

That’s a lot of words for a keyboard that, like the processors, isn’t likely to change the basic equation for most people. It’s slightly better than before. I like it, but then I am also a fan of the keyboard on last year’s MacBook (and many people are not).

The New MacBook Is Almost Perfect, by Nicole Nguyen, BuzzFeed

You’re paying for portability. And if you were already in the market for an Apple laptop, you’re probably prepared to do that.

First Look: Apple's New 27-inch iMac Is Finally A Formidable System, by Lance Ulanoff, Mashable

Am I a little sad that Apple didn’t change a single bit of the iMac chassis design? Yes, but when I try to think of what they should change, I’m stumped. It’s already one of the most elegant all-in-ones on the market. I could ask for a touchscreen, especially because I love Microsoft’s equally giant Surface Studio, but Apple has already made it crystal-clear to me that that is never happening.

I hesitate to make an overall assessment of Apple’s latest iMac in just 24 hours. To really know a desktop computer, you have to live a while with it. I would say, though, this machine is worthy of a trial cohabitation.

Telling Stories

TV Review: Apple’s ‘Planet Of The Apps’, by Maureen Ryan, Variety

The biggest problem with “Planet of the Apps” is that it doesn’t know what it’s selling — which should be the contestants. It should turn them into compelling TV characters and make their quests dramatic, but it does a mediocre-to-poor job on those fronts. The app developers go from one pressure-filled situation to the next, but the people and the situations don’t pop. A random five minutes of any installment of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” has more drama than this entire 50-minute pilot.

Apple’s First Foray Into Making A TV Show Is An Unintentionally Comical Train Wreck, by Avery Hartmans, Business Insider

None of the hosts has ever developed an app. With the exception of Gwyneth Paltrow (whose company, Goop, built a travel app called G.Spotting), none of the hosts own companies, or are affiliated with, companies that build apps. None of the hosts even really work in tech at all, unless you count's Buttons headphones or Gary Vaynerchuk's early tech investments in Facebook and Twitter.

So, why are these four judging a show about making a hit app? That's the biggest mystery of "Planet of the Apps," and one that the judges themselves seem stumped by. At several points throughout the first episode, the judges bow out of mentoring a company because they have zero expertise in the field.


Percent Mate Wearable Is A Percentage Calculator For Apple Watch, by Preshit Deorukhkar, Beautiful Pixels

If you’ve ever found yourself looking for a quick way to carry out percentage calculations on the go, Percent Mate is here to help you. Percent Mate is an app that’s designed exclusively to help you with percentage calculations. It comes in two variants — Percent Mate — an iPhone-only app and Percent Mate Wearable — an app for Apple Watch.

Swift Publisher 5.0, by Agen G. N. Schmitz, TidBITS

Belight Software has issued Swift Publisher 5.0, a major new upgrade for the page layout and desktop publishing software that’s optimized for macOS 10.12 Sierra and features a stylishly revamped user interface. The release adds support for the 2016 MacBook Pro’s Touch Bar, a new Spread Mode that enables you to see and edit two pages on the screen, support for Google Maps, integration with Art Text 3, a collection of artistic 2D and 3D heading presets, and new templates of magazines, newspapers, greeting cards, and forms.


Apple Opens HomeKit Protocol Specification To All Developers, by Steven Sande, Apple World Today

This really opens up HomeKit to experimenters or those who are considering creating a HomeKit product but want to test it fully prior to going commercial.

Simulating A Second Finger During Drag, by Erica Sadun

Pause and press the control key. This pins an item mid-drag, enabling you to use the Mac cursor as another touch.


WebRTC Coming To WebKit And Safari, by Jason Snell, Six Colors

One interesting piece of news this week: WebRTC, a set of technologies that allow web developers to built media-driven web apps for functions like videoconferencing and audio chat without any plug-ins, is going to ship in Safari for iOS 11 and a few versions of macOS.

With HomePod, Apple Just Wants To Shake Things Up (For Now), by Sascha Segan, PC Magazine

The midrange speaker market is in fact ripe for disruption, and I think Apple's correct to assume that people who have expensive speakers probably have an iPhone. But by announcing the HomePod six months in advance, Apple's also trying to draw developer attention away from Alexa and Google Home, making sure that it's in second, not third place in the eventual war of the voice assistants.


Platforms need developers, and we've seen over and over that the tech world is capable of supporting two—not three—platforms in most areas.

Amazon Devices Chief: HomePod And Echo Ain't The Same Thing, by Ben Fox Rubin, CNET

For one thing, Amazon's intention is to make its Echo devices cheap enough that people can put them all over their house, Limp said. That's why Amazon created the $50 Echo Dot. At a much steeper price, putting a HomePod in every room would be prohibitively expensive for most customers.

Bottom of the Page

Now that Netflix has canceled the series 'The Get Down', and "Sense8'... has Apple tried picking them up for new seasons?


Remember when we alone were discovering the joys of using the Mac, while all our friends were recommending we go queue up and buy Windows 95 at midnight?

Remember when all our friends were recommending Channels to each other for their Active Desktops using their Internet Explorers, while we alone were groovin' with Cyberdog?

Remember when we were all deciding what color iMac to buy for our next computer, while all of our friends were reommending we hold on to our floppy drives?

And that's why we Apple users are wondering why Apple is bothering to add Friends Recommendation as yet another social network in iTunes / Apple Music, because, well, we have never cared about our friends' recommendations throughout the years.


Thanks for reading.