The Available-In-White-and-Space-Grey Edition Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Apple Announces HomePod Available To Order This Friday, In Stores On February 9, by Ryan Christoffel, MacStories

Today in a press release, Apple announced that its HomePod device will be available to order beginning this Friday (January 26) for the previously announced price of $349, and will ship for a release date of Friday, February 9. HomePod will be available in two color options: White and Space Grey.

Tim Cook’s Visit To Shopify All About Augmented Reality, As Apple CEO Praises ‘Profound’ Emerging Technology, by Financial Post

Cook said Apple’s experience in integrating hardware with software and services will set its offering apart from similar products by Amazon and Google. “Competition makes all of us better and I welcome it,” Cook said. “(But) if you are both trying to license something and compete with your licensees, this is a difficult model and it remains to be seen if it can be successful or not.”


“We think one thing that was missing from this market was a quality audio experience, a very immersive audio experience,” Cook said. “Music deserves that kind of quality as opposed to some kind of squeaky sound.”

HomePod Can Play Purchased iTunes Music, Podcasts And Stream Beats 1 Without Apple Music Subscription, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

Users can continue to buy albums from iTunes and expand their collection of purchased songs associated with their iTunes Store account, and ask Siri to play those on HomePod.

If you add music to your home iTunes library that was not acquired through a purchase, HomePod will not be able to access it. It appears HomePod doesn’t have Home Sharing, which would enable that kind of feature.

Apple Shares New HomePod Details Including Gesture Controls Ahead Of Launch, by Zac Hall, 9to5Mac

HomePod will support three tap gestures: single tap for play/pause, double-tap for next track, and triple-tap for previous track.

Apple Releases iOS 11.2.5 With HomePod Support, External Audio Source Control, Fix For Messages Bug, And More, by Ryan Christoffel, MacStories

Besides adding compatibility with HomePod, the primary user-facing feature of today's release is a new set of controls for audio playback on external devices. When viewing Control Center on your iPhone or iPad, if you open the expanded audio playback tile (either by tapping the signal icon in the top-right corner, or by using 3D Touch or a long press), compatible external audio sources now display as separate UI tiles underneath the main audio tile.


Apple also mentions in the 11.2.5 release notes that Siri can now read the news by being asked, "Play the news." [...] U.S. users can choose from four news sources – NPR, CNN, Fox News, and the Washington Post – which play their daily news podcasts upon your request. You can also ask for news specific to Sports, Business, and Music.


Apple's Latest iTunes Release Includes HomePod Support, by AppleInsider

In the brief release notes provided alongside iTunes 12.7.3, Apple touts compatibility with its forthcoming smart speaker, as well as user interface enhancements that should improve usability once the device sees release next month.

macOS High Sierra 10.13.3 And Meltdown Patches For Sierra And El Capitan Released, by Stephen Hackett, 512 Pixels

It also patches the bug that allowed the App Store menu in System Preferences to be unlocked with any password.

Pixelmator Pro 1.0 Whirlwind Review: An Affordable Alternative For Pro Photoshop Users, by Jeff Carlson, Macworld

It’s good to see that the team behind Pixelmator looked at their well-regarded application and said, “We think we can do better.” Pixelmator Pro is a good start, although one with a few early-version hiccups to work out. The impression I get is that Pixelmator Pro, in its 1.0 incarnation, is overall a brisk and capable image editor, but it’s still brittle in places. I look forward to seeing how it develops.

Agenda Review: Mac-Based Note Taking With A Calendar-Focused Twist, by John Voorhees, MacStories

The difference that sets Agenda apart is its perspective on note taking, which is firmly grounded in the calendar. That doesn’t mean it takes over and clutters your calendar – far from it. Agenda is organized around dates regardless of whether you incorporate notes into your calendar.

DuckDuckGo Launches Browser Extensions, Revamped Mobile Apps For Increased User Privacy, by Ryan Christoffel, MacStories

In addition to the existing private search feature DuckDuckGo is known for, the extension and app now offer built-in tracker network blocking, smarter encryption, and a Privacy Grade rating for sites you visit.

Adobe Announces Sensei-powered Updates To Photoshop CC, Third-party Integrations For XD, More, by Michael Steeber, 9to5Mac

Today’s announcements bring features and improvements developed thanks to Adobe’s work in machine learning and from customer feedback and requests in the Creative Cloud desktop apps.


Cynical About Apple’s Move Into UK Schools? Well, It Turns Out They Need All The Help They Can Get, by Nicole Kobie, Wired

In the end, programmes such as Apple's iOS making course aren't perfect, but they're better than nothing. "Right now, we're still in a situation where computing in schools is fragile, it's patchy, its future is uncertain," Mitchell says. "All the help we can get is just phenomenal. The fact that these companies are going into schools and helping is something we should be grateful for."

But beggars can be choosier than that may suggest, notes Alan O'Donohoe, a former teacher who now works for a small ed-tech company. If you're not able to afford Apple products to access its learning materials, there are alternatives – and they're not all industry-led, from the Cambridge-created Raspberry Pi to MIT's Scratch.


How A New Technology Is Changing The Lives Of People Who Cannot Speak, by Jordan Kisner, The Guardian

The film critic Roger Ebert, whose jaw was removed to treat cancer, wrote in 2009 about how frustrating it was to use one of these generic voices: “I sound like Robby the Robot. Eloquence and intonation are impossible.” He was tired of being ignored in conversations or coming across like “the village idiot”. He went on: “We put men on the moon, people like to say about such desires: Why can’t I have a voice of my own?”

This is the problem Patel has set out to solve. In 2007, she began researching technology that would allow her to make customised digital voices that sounded more like the humans they would represent. By 2014, the technology was sufficiently developed for Patel and her team to set up what they claim is the world’s first “voice bank”, an online platform where anyone with an internet connection can “donate” their voice by recording themselves reading aloud on to the Vocal ID Voicebank, which is programmed with stories crafted to capture all the phonemes in the English language. (Early donors were required to upload 3,487 sentences; now, Meltzner can create a voice with as few as 1,000 sentences, though more material makes for a more human-sounding voice.)

Bottom of the Page

I wonder how Apple is going to demo the HomePod in its stores. The sound quality of the HomePod is probably the main draw of the speaker; how does one demonstrate that in crowded wide-open spaces in malls?


Will you listen to a podcast that has two hosts, one of whom you've enjoyed quite a lot from the work this host has done in other podcasts, while the second host is someone you'll really can't stand listening to, based on the performace of this host in other podcasts?

Turns out, after listening to a few episodes, I can't stand this podcast.


The more I remind myself that I will die one fine day, the less meaning I find in many of the things that I do everyday.


Thanks for reading.