Android vs iPhone – behind the scenes

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From the front, the user space, this argument is tired. Both smartphones do whatever you can imagine at this point. Both are amazingly thin and packed full of sensors and features.

Behind the scenes though…. things are very different. Why does each OS exist? Who are the companies behind them, and what are their goals?

With Apple, you have a traditional computer retailer. They are a public company but very private and generally keep quiet about where the platform is headed. One thing is clear though, you can spend a lot of money with Apple. They have most of their own ecosystem – you can get the iCloud, buy stuff from their real stores or their virtual ones, get additional storage, service plans, accessories, classes, etc..  You know how Apple makes their money because you have to give it to them to get involved.

With Google, the people behind Android (since 2005), you don’t ever seem to give them any money. How can google be everywhere, doing everything, and no one is giving them any money?  It’s all targeted advertising.

Really? Ad banners make that much money?  Well yes and no.  It’s alot more than ad banners. Every bit of your movement online and on the phone is being tracked, packaged, and sold to the highest bidder. Then it’s repackaged and sold again and again. Google make untold amounts of money doing this with none of it going back to the user.

Facebook uses a similar model, without the phone hardware that google has.

It’s been claimed that Android represents choice. I take issue with that phrase.


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Your choice is to have your profile and all your habits, purchases, locations, and interactions tracked by Google.

Your choice to have your profile sliced, diced, grouped, normalized, and sold to every Google revenue source (advertiser) possible for the rest of time with no revenue sharing going to you.

Your choice to have your history continually sliced, diced, labeled, invaded, and shared with every advertiser possible for the rest of time with no revenue going to you.

I prefer to make the advertisers work a little harder to find and profit from me. Google is ‘cool’ and hate on Apple if you want, but I trust Apple with my private digital life far more than millions of google advertisers.

Android was an awesome idea and I’d probably have one by now if Google never bought it. iPhone is an expensive rig and I barely use it anymore.

The charade here about freedom while using Android is ridiculous.

Bad guys will occasionally get into Android and iOS. Patch and business as usual. But the “good guys” are who you really have to worry about with the Android ecosystem.

Anyone can advertise with google, so nearly anyone can pay enough to access you whether you care or not.

Your future is being determined in private meetings between Google sales and 3rd parties from around the globe. None of this has anything to do with user space.

Android user space is the biggest private data collection scheme ever shipped. Which is why google paid g i i i i i i i i i llions for it when they saw it available.

Google is the biggest pay-no-attention-to-the-advertising-advertisering agency in the world, with Facebook being the 2nd. Call them search engines or social media if you want, but the scale and pace that those two data mine our personal business FOR PROFIT is alarming to me.

I either want a piece of that cut (make it non-profit so the tech is maintained but the users are paid) or give me old-fashioned private companies like apple and microsoft that I can own stock in without selling user’s souls to the wolves.


Google isn’t going to show you how/where/when they sell your data and they won’t share how much it’s worth to them.

Call it what you want…. profile, habits, demographics, searches…. it’s your online life, it’s who you are and what you do, and they have it for their own exploitation until the end of time.

“Targeted advertising” will become much more than what we think of it as now. They are just collecting all the data for free now, while they still can, and over the next couple of years will start to roll out the ‘customized content’ to sell us even more crap.

I’d rather have one point of concern/failure with my personal data, and do business with a company that derives revenue from everything else besides my private likes, dislikes and habits.

You can read google’s policies, apple, MS, whoever, and choose to opt in or opt out. You should also know that google doesn’t exist without targeted ad revenue. Apple exists just fine (fully profitable) as long as they keep you buying and subscribing to their stuff.

It’s simple to me — companies have a purpose which is to make money. They usually only have a couple of ways to make good money. Some promise free and find a way to profit beyond your control. Others just expect you to pay as you go, and with that they don’t have to hide the fact that they profit from your data, not your purchase.


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Apple Is Fighting For Our Digital Future

The FBI is doing a criminal investigation on a mass murder committed by americans. Some call it a terrorist attack, some don’t. Either way it’s a high profile case for the Obama justice department.

The couple that committed the crimes worked for the county government in California. The investigation has requested and received all of their online records, cloud data, phone records, work data, SMS, banking, housing, and travel receipts.

The one thing the FBI hasn’t been able to get into is their work-assigned iPhones. The now deceased users had enabled full security with encryption on the most recent iOS and did not turn on cloud backup. They put in a 4-pin code like all of us and went about their business.

The FBI now wants to know what business those iPhones might have stored. Makes sense. Problem is they lost their chance to bypass the full lockdown mode, against Apple’s advice, and now they are locked out for at least a very long time, if not forever. It’s estimated it would take 20+ years to crack the iPhone using brute force, due to all of the layers of security iOS has in place in both hardware and software.

So the FBI is now attempting to force Apple to create an insecure version of iOS that could be installed on the phones that would then allow the FBI to crack the phones.

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Apple is arguing that doing so would destroy the established security of every iPhone on the planet. They say it’s akin to building the master key to decrypt even the most heavily secured iPhone and they won’t do it. It’s software’s version of cancer, says Tim Cook, and he’ll fight the FBI all the way.

It’s important to note that had the FBI followed Apple’s instructions they could have forced those iPhones to do a cloud backup and then decrypted most of the data. But instead, someone at the FBI ordered the phone be reset with no backup, leaving it in a decrypted, locked, and defensive state, and they now regret that decision.

Apple losing this case could kill the iOS and it’s ability to safely store your financial, credit card, location, and health data. Apple could no longer promise you it’s your data to secure.

The ends do not justify the means.


 

tim cook abc news interview


That user could have nuclear plans encrypted on his iPhone. I support any brute force, seizure or other legal means available to the FBI to get the data.

But the FBI better not be able to compel Apple or any tech company to ship insecure products under the guise of security. The actions of one customer, no matter how heinous, cannot and should not destroy the security of millions of other innocent customers.

 

Time for Apple Watch?

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Here’s a nice write-up from someone that has lived with the Apple Watch for half a year. He feels it’s in a similar place as the first iPhone iteration – not essential, highly flawed, yet still leaning into the future with simple and effective features he’s starting to appreciate.

I still don’t have one but his review sounds about what I expected. Apple follows a very tight script with these iOS products and all of them have gone through very similar stages of growth.


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More Hi-Res Rumors For Apple

imagesI guess this is good – rumors are floating again that Apple Music is moving into Hi-Res Audio.  Being a rumor there are very few specifics but a few people more influential than me are saying that 24/96 streaming is coming, along with the lightning port replacing the headphone jack on Apple’s mobile products.

It’s not all good because although Apple is the market leader in the consumer tech space, doubters and ignoramuses far and wide are commenting on music formats in the comments section.  It gets pretty ugly with the nonsense spouted there.

No surprise, many who have never heard hi-res digital refuse to believe it exists. Most ignore it completely, or they’ve tried 1 hi-res file on their laptop or phone.  Of course those devices can’t render hi-res properly, so the user reaffirms their belief that this is all a scam devised to charge them more for the same thing. Stupid users!

If you can’t hear that 256k bitrate < 1000k that’s your problem, not mine. If you don’t believe that 5800k > 1000k this lack of mathematical logic is also not my problem.  Your lack of awareness and listening ability should not hurt my ability to enjoy good music. Perhaps your taste in music also needs an improvement?


Pono_Player_Photo_BlindTestingGear


 

Finally, if you won’t accept that each Netflix/Youtube/Hulu stream is 3000k+ you will never understand that most of us have plenty of bandwidth and storage for hi-res audio.  We just value video far more than music on the internet.

Basic Apple nerds are very anti-hi-fi audio because they have been hooked into the lie that is MP3/AAC, where convenience trumps quality every time. Even the late Steve Jobs couldn’t believe how fast MP3 took over, he thought the quality was too low to fully replace previous formats.


 

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Quality Hiding In Plain Site

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Derp.


 

Why the hatred of quality music and sound right now?  Is it really the machines taking over?


 

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Consumer audio suffers this weird delusion. It seems to be a digital blindness.

It started in the 80’s but was a small segment of the listening population. Simple nerds.

In the 90’s it was distracted by the creation of the internet. They built the infrastructure while the arts flourished (money helps), and the digital babies sprung up everywhere.

[note – I’m one of the early ones. By 1991 I was pretty convinced computers were going to run just about everything by Y2K so I learned them, made a career of them, and continue to this day to be a technology worker, user, and lover.]

Then the iPod hit. “Good enough” took over for a nice ride that I figured would have run it’s course by now. Of course they would get better at playing music!  (ok once). Of course digital would figure out how to sound better than a 2001 mp3 on a 2002 iPod (it has).


Apple_historic_iPod

Even Steve Frickin’ Jobs didn’t think people would stand for the quality of mp3’s.

 

 

I don’t know, did 9/11 knock everyone into everything is a matter of life and death, and if my iPod gets better sounding, well that is shallow thinking?


 

Change_of_Authority_Ceremony_at_Joint_Service_Station_War_Eagle,_Baghdad,_Iraq_DVIDS159745

Sound quality is not life and death, it’s about life only.


 

It’s been 15 years of this downward turn in quality. Even the best artists working now release things that are so loud, so pumped, so faked (in some cases) that no one really even trusts them anymore.

The gods of music are long gone and there are no new ones that aren’t vintage re-do’s. OK very few. I blame the digital machines and our willingness to accept their flaws in quality.


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I’m a 1980 TV. I should be good enough quality forever, right? Oh no, I’m not a stereo, haha!


 

Meanwhile, TV has been upgraded at least 4 times in the USA since the CD shipped.


 

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I sound way better than a phone you downgraded suckers!


Now Jay Z, pushing his Tidal service, is forced to talk sound quality. That’s the only thing Tidal has over competitors – BITRATE. They stream the same stuff, they just stream it at 5x the data rate. CD quality.


 


 

If he cracks the code and gets mainstream person to understand that 1400k > 256k EVEN IN AUDIO, and you guessed it, 5800k > 1400k too.  See how easy?

Music Business vs. Youtube

The battle for pennies is heating up. The 3 major record labels are supposedly fed up with Youtube’s lame attempts to monetize their content, feeling that Google, who owns Youtube and the entire ad network and search engine that drives it, has been less than honest about their intentions and more than willing to keep most of the generated revenue for themselves.

SilvertoneRecordLabel

No record label supports free music, and no music lover should either.*

 

As Apple was prepping their streaming service they poured gas on the fire by trying to convince the Big 3 to pull their content from Youtube, even reportedly going so far as to offer them compensation for lost revenue.

The labels did not go with Apple’s plan but according to latest reports are continuing their talks regarding how to negotiate with Google, including a nuclear option where they pull their entire catalogs at the same time and make a big stink about it, leaving Google to act on either increasing monetization or going on without official releases.

Of course Youtube will continue to host all variety of bootlegs until they are taken down by the copyright police.

*Of course I’ll continue to link to free youtube stuff for your pleasure, hoping they soon work out their royalty problem. As always, I recommend you buy the music you love in the highest quality possible from stores like PonoMusic, HDTracks, and ProStudioMasters, and if the artist is still working then support their efforts monetarily as much as you can.

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Bad Advertising

There’s a lot of bad advertising, especially in the consumer tech world. Here’s some tell tale signs of bad marketing:

  1. Insinuating that users of other products are idiots, especially if it’s a wildly popular product
  2. Naming your competition, especially with model numbers
  3. Doctoring or otherwise faking it to make competition look worse and your product look better
  4. Flashing fine print that negates important visuals
  5. Implying magical powers are bestowed upon all users of your product

Samsung and Microsoft are two companies often guilty of most of those.

A normal Samsung phone commercial will combine all of them – a bunch of idiots with iPhones waiting in line, a quick chart showing iPhone specs, screen images simulated in fine print while bragging about their screen, and a user turning into a superhero because of this product.

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That’s a perfect 5 out of 5!  Very bad advertising. Every samsung phone ad is so bad it makes me happy about my choice of an iPhone.

Apple’s Upcoming Music Announcement

Will it have anything to do with sound quality?  I doubt it.

Apple likes to roll out new products with slick presentations touting all of the improvements in the product, or how the new product improves upon an existing solution.

This new rumored streaming audio service (a re-branded Beats Music service) looks like more of the same – random, computer generated playlists or hunt & peck streaming at a compressed rate, trying it’s damnedest to sell you that same compressed copy to own.

No one wants to buy those compressed little MP3’s when you can stream them. If they were smart enough to offer an HD version of the song I bet people would buy more when streaming. I know I would.

A new walkman sounded better than the old one. What happened?

A new walkman usually sounded better than the old one. What happened?

Since iPod shipped 14 years ago, I can recall one single upgrade to the sound quality in Apple’s iTunes ecosystem. This was around 2009 when they introduced the “mastered for iTunes” program, that allowed you to deliver files in 24bit lossless but they would not sell the HD version, they reduce it to 320k AAC (apple’s version of MP3) and sell it for $1.29 a track instead of $.99.

All of this is why I have a PonoPlayer and haven’t looked back. iTunes was always a toy musically, and since they’ve made absolutely no effort to really improve sound quality in 15 years, it’s even more of a toy.

The sad thing is how popular it is, with millions of people listening to tinny, distorted audio devices playing horribly compressed files. None of it is necessary anymore but it lives on as “The modern way”.  A huge decrease in quality in the name of perceived convenience.

Youtube’s Version of HD Audio – My Realtime Review

Oh damn, the internet generation strikes back against pono!

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I just fired up my old iPhone 4, hit youtube, searched for flac, found ihearttflac and flacsgreatesthits, and was forced to admit after a day of reflection and jamming on my beloved PonoPlayer that I needed to be real about Pono’s chance for success.

This youtube FLAC stuff, whatever it is, sounds pretty good. I didn’t know the Apple/Youtube/mainstream ecosystem could deliver good audio over my average home setup, but I hit it with my PS4 over speakers and then iPhone in headphones and they both are showing a marked improvement over mp-anything. It’s real music, alive again, and it got me moving and emotional like no other youtube video or mp3 has. CD’s sometimes can, but not really. Only vinyl and pono, so far.

Hear My Pixels

Early 21st century art

If this Youtube FLAC is actually CD quality or below perhaps my excitement that is was working at all enhanced my experience. [Edit: a few days later and I still am not sure what Youtube was delivering me. I am still researching this]

So then I went looking for my precious, the PonoPlayer that the tech press is fawning over right now (gee, little old me managed to jump a trend for once!). Except she had a dead battery and this battle of “cool thing” -vs- “thing already in everyone’s pocket” was looking grim for the yellow triangle of pleasure.

Which was actually a good pause because it gave me a few minutes to collect my thoughts on what I had just heard:

The cloud is capable of delivering higher-quality audio over the existing mp3 infrastructure, something I was unsure of. All of my speakers are wired and not noise canceling, I don’t mess with junk on my audio. So I’m focusing on the delivery from network to device, if you go wireless on the speakers that’s another set of problems.

 


 

As I listened to several songs, a couple of jams, some numbers, and a prelude I started to hear a buzz and a bit of flatness overall in the dynamic range, especially on the iPhone. I admit I turned it up and the music hit me pretty hard, dulled by years of suffering in this low-def world. But it wasn’t perfect, I felt some restriction and narrowness, some loss of a clear L/R/Center, and more fatigue than expected. I’m going to read up on what I was actually hearing after filing this true review.

Not sure if youtube cuts it to 16/44 or something lossy, not sure what’s going on but I appreciated the music and heard no obvious digital tells. Yet I felt I needed to turn it down by the end of the song. Most importantly I heard the music, felt the music, but was also aware that I was blasting music and fatiguing my ears a bit.

So the PonoPlayer charged and although I don’t have the same material as is streamed from above sources, I can’t wait to hear the PonoPlayer after the youtube challenge….

 


 

 

Bam! Knockout, Tyson style. This PonoPlayer sounds bad-ass, and you deserve to have one. Earn some tips, give up chocolate for a month, whatever, you should own one of these players if you need music to be you.

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The soundstage is HUGE. Crystal clear. Not just the entire drum set, the tuning and pan and wood of each drum. Amazing. Crash cymbals just decay perfectly, trust me I use them often. Bass is low and round and totally natural. To apply extra “boom” on bass is not the job of the player, you have various other ways to enhance the low end. Chances are the mix is perfect.

Tears again, damn this thing is really hitting me.

It really loves full volume, 70-100% really shines. And I’m just running straight through the single minijack output, unbalanced iPod/phone style. Every voice, every instrument just sits perfectly, nothing masks unless the player (or mixer) wanted it to.

Not a hint of digital tells, OK maybe still some hi-hat smashers like Chad Smith can make you think you hear digital, but it’s so rare and hard to track (at least at 24/96). Yeah no doubt, the PonoPlayer is still the best digital I have ever heard, anywhere.  Plus I have yet to hear it in balanced mode, which everyone swears is a major improvement.

 


 

So what to do about it?

  1. First, hear one for yourself and if you don’t hear it by the second song, sorry about your luck.
  2. Second, remember iHeartFLAC and it’s type on youtube and the fact that the “new school” method of streaming from the internet CAN provide a real upgrade from not only MP3, but the few I played surpassed most CD quality I’ve heard in nearly 30 years. So please let’s try to push that standard up, and if they can stream FLAC on spotify while still paying the artists, I guess I’m for it.

It’s not one or the other to me as long as everyone gets an audio upgrade. The MP3 trickery is real and subtle, but it’s robbing you of the full experience no matter how much they hype it. It was built for dial-up modems and we are so past that. This streaming FLAC thing is a bit of a game changer for me.

But does it sound better than a PonoPlayer? Oh hell no. PonoPlayer is the real deal, Holyfield and Tyson playing both the standard 16/44 files you already own (and are still the most common HD format, sadly) and true HD files. When you make that jump to 24/44, then up the sample rates to 96 or 192k, oh yeah, it gets intense.

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To those rare ones that scream(type) “yeah but when will it stop, 32bit, 64bit, 128bit?” I say chill. 24bit word length is plenty to blow you out the water.  There are limits to our natural hearing and emotional abilities. 16 million readings might be all the resolution our bodies have. My science fans should let me know on that.

MP3 built a horrible McMansion on a toxic 16/44 swamp pretending to be true audio and the whole investment is sinking slowly into oblivion. FLAC seems to be the first digital format for real music, and I suggest you get it while you still can.

The modern file formats.

The modern file formats.

 

 

Walkman IV – The Return of Fidelity

[deep ominous movie trailer chord]

Walkman 1 (1980) – by Sony – stereo cassette – 2 headphone jacks – powered by 2 AA batteries for runtime of 20 hours.

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Finally private jams!

Walkman II (1984) – Discman by Sony – compact disc – 1 headphone jack – powered by 2 AA batteries for runtime of 30 hours.

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Finally digital private jams!

Walkman III (2001) – iPod by Apple – digital file player w/max resolution of 16/44 – 1 headphone jack – powered by rechargeable internal lithium polymer battery for runtime of 10 hrs per charge

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Finally bootlegged private jams with no skipping!

Walkman IV (2014) – Pono Player – digital file player w/max resolution of 24/192 – 2 headphone jacks with 4 output configs – powered by rechargeable battery for runtime of ? hrs per charge

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Finally master-quality in my ears like the artist intended!

You know I’ll have a review as soon as I get mine.


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The Problem With Maps Apps

The now-standard overhead helicopter view used by mobile GoogleMaps, AppleMaps, etc. is neato but not a perspective that is natural for humans while driving. I’d rather see huge clear labels than 3D graphics any day. They are distracting us more than assisting us.

Someone needs to infuse the old, human way of sharing directions into these map apps. Anyone remember this kind of information:

“At the end of the street, take a left, then at the next light, the main intersection, that’s Route 20. Get in the far right lane, go right on 20. Take that all the way to I-75 south (about 5 miles), which runs you right into Johnstown in about 20 miles. Take Exit 3C, go south and you will see the school on your left in about 5 miles. Harrington Street is on the right.”

They should summarize your directions into a paragraph and text it to you, that simple. You should use your eyes and senses when driving, which requires them looking outside of the car constantly, not staring at a video game view on the dashboard.

C’mon Maps Apps, be more human! We aren’t playing Doom we are driving a huge steel deathtrap and we need basic assistance in not getting lost. The current map interfaces cause more problems than they solve.

Note that the desktop/browser versions of Maps don’t suffer from the bad labeling, but they still don’t summarize directions into human paragraphs, or human shorthand.

  • End of street – take left.
  • Next light, main intersection – Route 20, take right
  • Take 20 to I-75 south (5 miles). Take I-75 south to Exit 3C in Johnstown (20 miles). Go south/right at Exit.
  • Take for 5 miles until Harrington Street on right, across from School.

 

 

Watch The Script & Watch the Apple Watch Become A Hit

The Apple Watch 1 follows the script perfectly for Apple’s version 1 products. If you look at their bottom line over the last 15 years, it’s a great script to follow.


First iPod — They said it couldn’t hold quite enough songs, couldn’t do enough other things than play music, and you needed a new mac with firewire to sync it. It was nearly useless on it’s own. People accused it of being a toy for rich kids, and without more features or capacity it would not compete against the existing MP3 players. Besides, Apple knows nothing about music so of course Sony will crush them.

So easy your grandma could use it.

Yet many overlooked it’s actual differentiating feature – the scroll-wheel interface. This is hardware and software working together seamlessly, something Apple focuses on. This simple round scroll wheel interface (an ancient interface brought to the digital age) meant anyone could manipulate the hardware, regardless of hand size, finger strength, or steadiness. It worked at all angles and fit perfectly into your hand regardless of what you were doing. A single thumb could do most of the operation.

The software end of the early iPod was a simple drill up, drill down mechanism that slid left and right. I’d say 90% of users figured out the whole operation in 2 minutes or less. That’s huge for a new product. Easy hardware. Easy software.

The advertising message — dancing to headphone music like a walkman, except this time, digital with a higher capacity (and white plastic instead of black!). Simple: “All people like music. All people like to dance (at least in private). This little object is the best, fastest, most obvious way to play music.”

Anyone argue that iPod wasn’t a mega successful product line?


First iPhone — couldn’t touch-type, couldn’t add any more apps, and you needed a decent mac to sync it. People accused it of being a toy for the rich. Without more features it could not compete against the Nokia’s and Blackberry’s of the world. Plus Apple knows nothing about mobile so AT&T or Sprint will crush them. Sound familiar?

Huh? Where’s the keyboard?

Yet many (less this time) overlooked the key differentiating feature: the touch interface running an actual touch OS. Touch and gestures – another ancient interface brought to the digital age.

The hardware: a dramatic black/silver slab with a chrome ring and what appeared to be a single button. It looked nothing like a phone. It was a “huh?” moment for most of us. Then the finger starts driving that huge bright screen, we notice there are a few extra buttons for pocket needs, and OMG I want one starts. Instantly all competition looks dated. Nearly everyone copied and today, 7 years later, probably half the phones on earth look like that first iphone.

The software was a shrunken OSX designed for touch input only. Companies like Microsoft had been demoing tablets and touch interfaces for a decade but hadn’t bothered to actually design a touch OS. The UI is dependent on the input mechanism so Apple did the work, in top secret, to develop an actual touch OS that worked on small screens. It had the stability of unix with the home button being the best Escape key ever made. You just always went home first, and the icons were always in the same place. Easy software to go with the Easy hardware.

So easy your grandma waited in line to buy one.


>Now there’s The Watch.
[Small-eyes have been left behind after a good run of what, 18 years of things starting with “i”?  #iWillMissU.]
 

Nice watch.

iSee nice watch.

 
The first watch – just an iPhone touch on your wrist, plus you need a new iPhone just to use it. Just a toy for the rich. The hardware – it looks like a watch, we were expecting that. No big surprise it’s a very generic looking watch with what appears to be 1 button and a winder knob for authenticity. It does have the most important new iOS chip – NFC payment chip. All the new weird health sensors and charging stuff is on the bottom, hidden while wearing. Easy to dismiss, but even easier to accept. Easy.
 

3 Apple UI's on 1 Device - Touch gestures, scroll-click, and single home with apps.

3 Apple UI’s on 1 Device – Touch gestures, scroll-click, and single home button/screen

 
The software is a lighter version of iOS, and actually relies on a full iOS nearby for some functions. I suppose this is very much in development over the next 6 months.

But that UI uncovers hardware features that aren’t obvious at first glance – besides the expected touch screen, the wind knob is actually the iPod scroll wheel and the iPhone home button in one! Win+Win could be sweet. That obvious button below it goes right to the contacts/social app – that’s new, but I get it. Why wake up, go home, and then select contacts each time? This is your communicator! There’s not even a dock/shelf to put favorites on the watch. [I bet they eventually let that button hook to other apps ].

 

Your away party.

Your away party.

The other feature hidden from the naked eye is the haptic IO – input and feedback. “Haptic” is when the machine physically shakes or moves to contact us, and we can shake or poke the machine to contact it. The watch screen knows how hard you are pushing it so it can do another layer of functions per touch. Then, like game controllers, the watch can do all sorts of fancy vibrates including left/right, heartbeats, and even relay tapped messages from another watch.

Haptic screen. Haptic vibrations. Sensor array on your wrist.

Haptic screen. Haptic vibrations. Sensor array on your wrist.

Overall, the input and UI for the watch is a new model. It combines 3 of Apple’s UI stalwarts into a single device: the touch screen gestures, the scroll wheel interface, and the single home button model.
Assuming it works nearly as good as the first iPods and iPhones, it should find similar success. By version 3 you won’t need an iphone or constant charging, and the competition will probably have adopted versions of the scroll-wind interface and haptic features. Welcome to the future, space cadets!

The Biggest Advancement in iPhone Tech….and the internet crashes

Hahahahah too funny. Apple is showing off their new stuff, they stream through their servers, we all tune in, and guess what ….. hang, crash, wtf about 1 minute in.  Posting this now as I’m getting nothing from my browser.

I’m still probably buying an iPhone 6. Good to know it can still crash the internet.

iWatch, iBuy?

iWatch


Will Apple put out a wearable? The Android makers are going full speed into Android watches, regardless of reviews and actual ship dates. They want to appear to be flooding the market but I haven’t seen a single one out in the wild yet. But if Apple does iWatch you will start to see these things everywhere.

I’ve written some thoughts on wearables before, here and here. As we get closer to the possible announcement next week, I was thinking about this opportunity for Apple to define the market again. Remember, the iPod was not the first DAP, the iPhone was not the first smartphone, and the iPad was not the first tablet, but each of them came to define those markets within the first year.

A wrist-worn computer is a very different form factor than a phone, tablet, laptop, TV screen and desktop. This requires a completely different UI model. When working with new form factors it is critical to focus on core functions. It’s never enough to resize existing interfaces to the new screen. There are many things a watch can do that the others can’t. There’s also many things you can’t or shouldn’t do on a watch.

Apple’s design restraint should really be an advantage here. While other makers are going to put entire Android smart phones on your wrist, I fully expect Apple to define it’s own space with a very focused product that, at first glance, doesn’t “do as much” as the android wearables.

But much like the iPod and all subsequent iDevices, the advantage will be that Apple says “no” to all sorts of features that distract from the main functions.

Apple has probably determined 2-4 core features for iWatch, and will remove any other features that delude or counter those core functions. The first iWatch will be quickly attacked for what it can’t do, while those living with it will more than likely start to understand Apple’s design decisions as time wears on (badump!). Simple, consistent operation is the key to a smart watch, and that plays to Apple’s design strength.

I found Apple products to be designed for long-term use, while many other makers design things for the sales portion of it’s life. They appear to have lots of flashy features, more than the Apple, and at a lower price! What a deal! But much of what draws you in is fluff, crud, and marketing, and the day to day use of the device often lacks the “polish” of the Apple device.

Jon Ivey also likes going back in time to classic designs. The iPod was a melding of a 1960’s transistor radio and a 1980’s walkman. With his comment about Swiss watchmakers needing to take notice of Apple, that tells me they will push forward with a design that takes from some classic watches of the past.

If the simple iWatch v1 is successful, Apple will take 3-4 iterations to slowly add more power features and complexity. They smartly don’t compete on the feature checklist chart, they play the long game of daily use, enjoyment, and ultimately continued purchases in the Apple ecosystem.


IMHO you shouldn’t have to touch a watch very often, and when you do it should not require focusing on a small touch screen sort of thing. If it tries to do everything my phone can do but on my wrist it will fail. I want a new concept that might ultimately replace the phone (especially since I’m down to about 1 real phone call needed per day). I also have 2-3 fully capable screens near me at most times, and I don’t want that on my wrist 24/7. If my watch is constantly blinking and buzzing about every email and tweet I think they missed an opportunity to simplify.

I’d like to see time, weather, calendar and notifications on the main screen, with quick access to Nav, Messages, and Health tracking. I’d like to see it pair with a wireless headphone/mic so you can do some voice control and dictation of messages. I’d like the whole thing to to be very quiet and unassuming, using custom vibrations and maybe slight color changes to the frame to indicate.

The best UI mockups I’ve seen so far are the column-wristband types — where it’s iOS app icons in a single scrollable column on a narrow rounded band. 1 flick either way slides you into that app, maybe with a dock sort of concept that keeps the critical time/date info in front. It looks a little feminine to not have a big bulky watch head and I can imagine the jokes about everyone wearing Apple jewelry, but keeping that UI simple and brand new (it’s not a small smartphone) could be the key to Apple’s success.

iPhone as Medical Tricorder

The future is all around us. Our cars will probably never fly, but man we are getting some interesting tech in the last 5 years, driven largely by the worldwide adoption of iOS devices loaded with sensors and the software framework to exploit those scanners. Apple themselves are about to push their “HealthKit”, an API (application programming interface) to access and share health data as collected and processed by the iOS device.

The interesting twist isn’t on the tech side, it’s on the business side. But before delving into that, can you imagine the various advantages to tracking your body health datapoints in real time – how is your sleep this week, your protein intake, your blood sugar, your physical activity? I think we all inherently understand alcohol hangovers, but most of us don’t further tie our moods to our diet & physical health. If my device monitored 5-10 daily levels and I was really having a shitty day, I’d be curious to know what that looked like to avoid it in the future. Think sugar crashes, how much spicy food, hours sitting, lactose intolerance, miles pedaled, acid reflux, body fat, and more serious stuff like peanut allergies, HIV, and other human issues that some of us must manage.

The twist is that Apple, flush with money and influence, is trying to modernize the health insurance market in the US by working with major health providers and insurers. They have made key hires from that industry and have been working for years laying the groundwork. The end result being that HealthKit apps might actually share data with your healthcare providers, allowing them more accuracy, efficiency and hopefully better care.

If you are outside of America, this must be obvious. Who needs your health data more than your doctor? But in the states nothing medical is shared. Everyone has a data silo (which translates into a revenue source), backed up by a federally enforced rule known as HIPAA, and the patient is left to suffer. Yes, we often receive decent care and plenty of scans by expensive cameras, but it comes at a HUGE personal cost, much frustration, and there are many cases of misdiagnosis because of the lack of data sharing.

Apple knows “the iPod model” will keep working – make a device easy and portable enough, add features that actually work at a core level (not marketing me-too fluff like samsung), market it properly, and watch the thing take off. This healthkit thing, if done right, will make our iOS devices our medical iPods, and perhaps the waiting room dance will become as easy as checking into a flight with your iPhone.

I think we are about to get alot more physical with our phones, which is why I think I want a wrist iPhone instead of a pocket iPhone.

Now we can all scan B’Lana. I know I was scanning up and down back then. Hottest Klingon?

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Apple Will Kill the Mini-Jack

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Also known as the mini-plug, mini-jack, mini-phones, the 3.5 (mm) or just the headphone jack. This thing has been around since the 1970’s [actually 1870’s!], and I’m pretty sure Apple is going to take it out back and end it within the next year. Better send the kids off!

10 Reasons why they will do it  —

  1. It’s the main reason mobile iOS devices aren’t even thinner or smaller. Look at the Nano – almost all plug. No way they make a watch with that port. Lightning replaced the old iOS plug mainly for size, this is the next step in reducing size.
  2. The features of the mini-jack have already been extended by Apple as far as it can go, to pass power and controls over the 3rd ring in addition to the stereo audio.
  3. Mini-jack has never been known for sound quality, reliability, or interference management.
  4. Apple likes killing things that have become universal “lowest common denominator” standards. No one sticks up for the mini-jack anymore.
  5. The new thing in audio is HD digital, either from the device (Pono, Fiio, Walkman), or from an external DAC running out of the lightning port. The mini-jack doesn’t help much here, in fact most see it as a hindrance if you have to push hi-fi audio over it.
  6. The other new thing in audio is streaming to wireless speakers, which also doesn’t require a mini-jack.
  7. The 3-ring mini-jack has been the culprit in most of my iOS hardware failures over the years. I haven’t had alot, but they almost always involve the mini-jack. In talking to Apple Store employees, the mini-jack seems to be the main repair item on iOS devices, so it’s ripe for replacement.
  8. Beats and a few others are working on headphones that have an external DAC in the headphone and connect to the iOS device with a lightning connector. Beats now is Apple, and I think this is the new model for their headphones.
  9. Apple’s not particularly thrilled that you can use a pair of headphones circa 1982 to listen to an iOS device. 7 years ago that compatibility was needed for acceptance, but now that the whole world has portable digital music – time to buy a new kind of headphones.
  10. The pushback and “outrage” over abandoning this standard (and everyone’s existing stereo crap) is something Apple can handle, and actually seems to relishes in. They will probably show how their lightning connector has much better specs and allows so many more features over the wire. They love this differentiation. They want people to see it, go ‘let me see’, and then ‘wow that’s cool’. Old timers listing the reasons this is stupid are left behind with their thumb keyboards and their floppy disks.

cable-35mm-a-35-auto-mini-plug-4-canales-p-iphone-2g-3gs-6255-MLA73821779_5668-O


 

Bye-bye mini-jack, it’s been a good run. I think you’ll stick around on non-Apple products for the next 10-15 years but the writing is on the wall, you are about to be replaced by the lightning connector or some other digital connector.

 

lightning connector

 

4 Year Old iPhone

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Well the time has come, Apple has decided my phone is a little old to be included in the new fun. I have been happily using this single phone, a 32gb iPhone 4 in black glass, for many years now, running all sorts of ridiculous things and running most of my life through it.

This is my second completely amazing iPhone. In the early years I had a couple bad headphone jacks on the first gen model, but Apple replaced them no questions asked and I got a good one that I rode hard on the road that year. The plastic 3G’s were not the most reliable but my friend had one for years.

Overall the iPhone 4, 4S, 4, and 5C are all really well made devices. Getting pushed into the new model coming soon isn’t so bad when you know it’s gonna be such a great device.

 

iWatch Your Health

Finally, mainstream consumer technology has noticed the health of the consumer. Instead of computers just making us fatter, lazier, and more spoiled than ever before, there’s some pushback in the form of wearable health tech, and it looks like Apple might be the driving force here.

Last week they announced their HealthKit API to developers, which is a nerdy way of saying “Here, build things”. Healthkit is a set of frameworks to track, share, and communicate calorie consumption, sleep activity, blood glucose, blood oxygen levels, and other health metrics.

Any mobile iOS device (not AppleTV) will be able to act as your sensor array and primary tracking system. Macs will probably be able to track but not monitor, as they do not have the same mobile sensors as iOS devices. This is not revolutionary but evolutionary, as the iPod has been helping people track their jogging performance for almost a decade now, and of course GPS is used for tracking your travel by bike or foot. The health section on Apple’s App Store has been buzzing.

iwatch-concept-nike

It gets really interesting when you factor in a possible new mobile iOS device – the iWatch. If you shrink down the key elements to the iPhone5 and put them behind a curved glass wristband, well then you might have something.

I think it’s technically possible beause most of the battery life in an iOS device is used to power the display. The smaller display requires a smaller battery. The removal of all ports except a lightning connector also saves a ton of space. Apple has spent their billions the last few years working on both curved glass and custom battery shaping tech. If the whole band is battery there’s plenty of space. Have you seen the size of some current watches? Plenty of volume if you can work in that rounded shape.

If Apple gets a touchscreen iOS watchband to market I think they could have a winning product. It’s all about the feature set – what it can and more importantly can’t do. Do you need your “cloud” in your watch? Do you need the full internet? Do you need wifi, 3G, etc?

apple-iwatch-concept-01

Perhaps Apple will say no. Your watch should tell the time and help monitor your body metrics, at least version 1. Maybe if it’s within bluetooth range of a trusted device it can sync or use internet, I don’t know. Perhaps they cram those radios into it, we will just have to wait and see. I know Apple has been combining and reducing the size of their various mobile radios.

I also know my life could use a simple sleep tracker, calorie counter, exercise tracker, and electronic medical record holder that also knew my schedule, my contacts, and my habits. These apps exist as stand-alone concepts, but each one has to be configured to your liking and then your data is not shared with any other systems.

The Healthkit API could finally force the sharing of this data, both for personal goal encouragement and for medical professionals tasked with providing you care.

(BTW – This weekend I saw a Samsung ad saying ‘the future is here now’ with their smart-watch prominently displayed. Apple could counter with an ad that shows their smart-watch doing various things with the tagline ‘our future works’ ;-))

 

HD Apple Rumors Swirling

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Rumors are flying that Apple is about to include 24-bit audio in it’s new iOS products, both from the software end of things and hardware – updating the Lightning cable for faster interconnects when HD Audio is being used with external devices, and designing some new earbuds to capitalize on the higher quality source.

This isn’t immediately tied to their rumored acquisition of Beats Music, but it certainly affects the same markets.

Reading through internet opinion it’s heartening to see many applauding a focus on sound quality. But the usual suspects are pushing xiph.org’s “science” saying <= 16/44 is all you need. I sense a shift that those people are being grouped with the claimants of “1080p is useless”.

Arguing against higher digital resolution is arguing against a reality that will always pass you up. We are still learning about sound and hearing and these bad assumptions of the past will fall into disuse as time marches on.

Other interamus’ claimed that “the 10 people that bought a pono must be upset”. Actually, no, this validates Pono’s cause, and if iOS products can play 24-bit files the market for HD audio will open wide.

Pono will always sound better than an iPhone or iTouch, because there’s several more parts of the signal chain that pono goes upmarket on, and Apple goes general purpose.

Will Apple Go HD in Audio?

Rumors are swirling that Apple will soon announce a major upgrade to it’s iTunes Music Store, and one of the features will be 24-bit lossless files for sale!

They might even use Led Zeppelin to push the new higher quality, which is pretty exciting.

I bought a Pono player and it is supposed to play Apple’s ALAC’s (their version of FLAC), so more stores selling HD files is all good for me!

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Apple still sells 10% music files! Well they don’t sell much anymore. They missed the hi-res moment.

Is This The iPhone Replacement?

Another good iWatch story, talking rumors and potential developments. Here’s my previous thoughts on it from last year.

I think the golden era for the smart phone is dwindling. They will probably never go away but (given skype, facetime, google hangouts, webex, join.me, etc.) phones have already stopped being the only/best way to voice communicate with people.

Aple iWatch concept

Now that’s a watch I’d wear proudly. I want my pocket back! Hey Rosie, why aren’t you picking up? I want my Funk.

If Apple gets even 50% of the existing iPhone functionality into a watch I’ll be a customer. I want my pocket back. All of these new features that an iWatch might do are just extra. I’d love to have a heart monitor, workout computer, and bike computer on my wrist at all times. I’d love a small shock or silent vibration to notify my inner wrist. I’d love to be able to do basic button controls on the face and use voice to handle large text entry. Hopefully they also make some slick, nearly hidden bluetooth headset.

I actually could see apple going more sci-fi and not calling it a watch at all. They could be working to “reinvent” the watch, much like they reinvented the PC, the walkman, the smartphone, and the tablet computer. It is becoming much more of a Star-Trek like communicator and tri-corder than a phone or watch.

1980's Star Trek communicator badge

“I wonder if I can click this thing and get out of here without those guys seeing?”

The Star Trek “Communicator Badge” responded to voice control and acted as a general health and location monitor. The iWatch would do all of that and more. Come to think of it, the current iPhone is becoming more and more like the Star Trek “tri-corder” from the 80’s, which gave it’s user a strong sensor and visual array to supply data readouts needed for space crew people – structural, gravitational, air-quality, language translation, and ambient readings.

Since we aren’t on a spaceship meeting alien races we don’t require some of those, but many of them are available from the internet with a properly configured smartphone. Trek had great technology, but they didn’t have GoogleMaps, WeatherUnderground, Wikipedia, Foursquare, Twitter, Youtube, Skype, and Flash bootleg sites. Their versions appeared to be closed and military-based (supplied by the institution and programmed by the institution). So much of our data is open-source or crowd-sourced, and ad-supported. But it’s there and in 2014 we are finally getting close to sci-fi of the 1980’s.

Uglier than Androids!

Tri-corder models for many purposes. Not much uglier than non-Apple phones.

What a Perfect iWatch Could Do

Wearable computing has been in R&D for decades and the “smartwatch” seems to be imminent. But there’s rarely a perfect new product. Apple is known for disrupting markets and instantly making existing products passe (including their own), but their first versions are usually basic and their disruption sometimes takes several iterations to take hold.

Samsung was first to market here with the Galaxy Gear, but it’s very limited and has a horrible battery life, and besides mounting on your wrist, it won’t give you anything a cheap smartphone can’t provide in a better, more powerful way. It also requires a smart phone nearby to be configured to perform many of it’s advertised features. Samsung made this “watch” require a phone, and it’s not being received well.


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Apple’s name has been attached with an ‘iWatch” for several years now, and most people such as myself believe that Apple could indeed deliver such a device out of the box that has enough battery life and features (ecosystem) to be a viable product. There’s also debate about whether a smartwatch should be a companion device, or, if like the iPhone and iPad before it, we will see people downsizing and modernizing to 1-2 devices instead of 3-5. This is the crux of The Secret to Apple’s iWatch Success: Self-Sufficiency.

So let’s brainstorm — what would the perfect iWatch do for you? We won’t have an on-screen keyboard or 4G built in. We could have a bluetooth headset and a few on-device buttons. The primary interface will probably be voice beyond the tiny touchscreen, basic watch-like frame buttons similar to iPod/iPhone/iPad. Before any science fiction we should look at the ecosystem apple has already developed, and how another iClient – one that lives on your body – could integrate:

  • iTunes Music & Media – control playback of local iTunes’, tune in iTRadio, stream media from your iT, manage apps that are iWatch compatible
  • Mail – display or read messages aloud, take dictation for new messages, attend/don’t attend meeting invites, notification updates
  • iCal Calendars – display or read events aloud, add new events by voice, receive notifications and directions for every meeting
  • Safari browser – view bookmarks, get RSS feeds, add bookmark
  • Messages/FaceTime – read messages, speak messages aloud, compose messages by voice or list, do facetime video conferencing
  • Contacts – look up people, add voice notes or dictate notes, get notifications on birthdays & anniversaries, Find My Friends by location
  • Automator macro tools – run Automator actions on your mac remotely – this is the pathway into remote control of your macs and your home
  • Finder tags & Spotlight search – run spotlight search on your macs, use QuickLook to see results, call up a tag and iWatch shows you all it’s files
  • Time Machine backup – run backups, browse backups, use QuickLook to peek back in time
  • AppleTV – remote control for AppleTV, manage your channel queue’s without disturbing playback, take over the display (Picture in Picture?) using watch, for instance, “Open <bookmark>, display on AppleTV”
  • Health monitoring – I’m not sure what app manages this, but Apple has been working with Nike to perfect athletic monitoring software, and an iWatch touching your wrist all day could deliver all sorts of health data.
  • Siri voice control – critical for all of the above. No on-screen keyboard and a small screen makes voice the primary interface. All existing Siri features should work on iWatch, and new voice-centric features should grow.
  • Other ideas for the wrist iClient?

I think the secret to Apple’s success here will be the software ecosystem integration. Hardware is mostly done – an iPod nano-touch can be mounted on the wrist already but it’s not quite “the iWatch”. What kind of hardware would we need to do all of this? We will need at least 1 camera, a wi-fi radio, a bluetooth radio, a curved touchscreen,  some flash storage, and enough battery life to get through a day. This is all doable now.

For experimentation – cover up everything but a square inch of your iDevice screen, and use Siri to imagine working with a screen that small. Most powerful uses would require voice OS to accomplish your task. This is an advanced Siri that can accept simple variables on input, and adjusts her output for the lack of screen. Most of the changes are on the output end, from what I see.

So will Apple put it all together and do an iWatch? I’d pay $200-$500 to get a wrist device that could do even 50% of what I’ve listed above, and most of that is possible already in the iEcosystem using a phone or tablet. Maybe they drop the term ‘watch’ and call it iI, pronounced I & I rastafarian style!

 

My Quick iTunes Radio Review

I gave iTunes Radio a spin for the last couple of days and it’s been pretty decent, as far as mp3 shuffle services go. Since it’s Apple we really don’t know the specifics on it, but to me it works a lot like Jango without ads with more bass. Also, each song played is available in the iTunes store, naturally, so you can purchase an mp3 immediately, or just favorite it in the stream you are building.

It’s ad free, that’s good[I heard my first ad, Macy’s national ad, very musical like FM rock radio style.] It allows you to pick the hits or explore more, so that’s good.

I put it on explore funk, based on funkadelic, and it’s doing a pretty good job keeping me entertained. You can pause or skip songs, but you can’t go back on them (unless you buy them of course).

Everything has album artwork but nothing else in the way of art or lyrics or info. No crossfades or segue logic. Performance as far as skipping and crashing has been flawless. Sound quality is the same 10% crap from Apple.

Overall it’s a nice first attempt but this is a crowded scene and it’s nothing special.  iTunes Radio is still just a shuffle service, but it’s a pretty interesting shuffle through the apple music store.

Pippin 1996 Time Machine

17 years ago Apple tried to combine a computer and a video game for the living room. It sold nearly 0 copies although it was an interesting attempt. Check out the early tour of the machine:

Check out the full web browser for the TV. We still don’t have this worked out with 2013’s Apple TV/Roku type device. Supposedly the thing printed too!

I think Apple’s going back to the living room next, with a new AppleTV product that runs apps (games) and browses the web, in addition to it’s current media streaming features. There’s just a few tweeks needed to iOS to make it an amazing wall/surface display, and every screen you have in your house that has an AppleTV box hooked to it will become your iOS interface.


Pippinfront

Does It Talk?

Mac Pro

I want one and so does the rest of the family.

The new Mac Pro has been teased. It’s been nearly 10 years since they’ve come out with a new case for their most powerful workstation, and they didn’t disappoint with the design elements on this one. Whether this spinning cylinder is the future of workstations or the re-hash of the low-selling G4 Cube, time will tell.

I know they are cramming that little R2D2 looking thing with alot of horsepower: Up to 12 processor cores, dual GPU’s, Fast SSD, lots of ram, thunderbird 1 and 2 connectors, and all burning under 1 fan. Most builders don’t put that much heat in such a small case, but this is Apple and the thing is designed like a little turbine.

Personally I would like to see the design be more rack-friendly. This is definitely a desktop machine, whereas audio studios would like to rack mount the thing for safety and security. But this looks pretty bad-ass, can’t wait to see it in action this fall. Check out Apple’s site for more teasing.

Save The Music One Hertz At A Time

OK I have been listening to mp3’s for about 15 years now, and I have to say I’m ready for the next digital format. I want 96k minimum range (192k preferred) so it almost sounds as good as my albums. I want 24 bit so it makes my modern multi-speaker systems work at all volumes. I can cheaply have enough storage to handle it. I want my music’s emotion back!

WOODSIDE, CA - DECEMBER 15: CEO of Apple Steve Jobs sits at his home in Woodside, CA on December 15, 1982. IMAGE PREVIOUSLY A TIME & LIFE IMAGE. (Photo by Diana Walker/SJ/Contour by Getty Images)

WOODSIDE, CA – DECEMBER 15: CEO of Apple Steve Jobs sits at his home in Woodside, CA on December 15, 1982. IMAGE PREVIOUSLY A TIME & LIFE IMAGE. (Photo by Diana Walker/SJ/Contour by Getty Images)

I primarily listen to funk, rock, hip-hop, soul, and only a bit of classical, and I miss the full range of Bootsy’s bass, Eddie’s guitar, and Al’s voice. Friends who listen to opera, voice and classical probably avoid MP3 already, but the real culprit is the concept of “CD-quality”. This equals 16/44, and this is simply not sufficient in 2012. It was not even sufficient in 1973 when everything was analog. Only the convenience and laserness of CD’s convinced us that this was about as good as we were going to get. Real technical limitations of 1982 CPU technologies made it the best we could get cheaply.

This was 1982 people. The mp3 format is built on top of the CD format, and audibly it’s a disaster. We have nearly regressed back to the dynamic range of a 1920’s turntable. All those compressors (yeah you dubstep) just make it worse. Remember when the meters really moved?

If you could measure music’s emotional content in a data unit it would be clarity through it’s full range. The days of compressions built on top of dead formats should end.

michell_gyrodec_mki_courtesy-Michell-Engineering

I support any movement to improve the sounds entering our ears. All we want to hear is the same thing in the Steve Jobs photo above.

#SaveTheAudio

 

Music Halo

This guy nails it. He nailed it 11 years ago and he nails it now. It’s the power of and passion for music that continues to drive our finest human accomplishments. Apple showed that sticking to your passions and delivering your best possible product can eventually pay off.

capsulethins-nano-4g-clrPeople who dislike Apple’s style or politics have been loving those stock prices the last 10 years. Apple now pulls in more revenue from iPhone alone than the total of Bill Gates’ sad remains of a powerhouse’s entire product line. The tables have definitely turned from the 80’s & 90’s in several markets. Apple’s support of progressive employment and corporate policies, while turning such a healthy profit, is finally justifying their stance. Bottom-line really is the only justification in the corporate world.

So whether Apple maintains this lead or gets passed by the knock-off and bootlegs (again), their story this last decade has been an amazing ride. That first iPod syncing to iTunes then going out in the world, white click-wheeling away with just our songs at first, then our calendar, then notes, then games, then phone calls and and and….. it’s been a wild ride. I was at a meeting of non-tech people today and over 50% of the devices in the room were Apples. Crazy success story this iOS.

Fanboi? You Are An Idiot

If you find yourself using the term fanboi or fanboy to attack people who buy Apple products, you are an idiot.

How does the name calling feel? Idiot.

idiot


 


I have used Apple products for over 25 years. Most bought with my own money, some bought by employers. Almost every one was excellently built and provided me with many years of hassle-free computing.

Year after year I watch coworkers fight with their non-Apple hardware, fight with their windows software, fight with their horrible tech support, and generally lose the individual platform argument with me. Many now use macs, pure switchers as they were called when they were rare.
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Myth Busted

“It’s all marketing”. That’s a common out for Apple haters, a quick way for them to sum up and then discount Apple’s success in the tech world. But like most points made by people who actually use the term fanbois, it’s not reality.

Check this out — Forbes did a little math and figured out tech companies advertising costs as a percentage of their sales. Let’s boil it down:

From 2009-2011, Microsoft spent 2.6% of sales revenue on advertising.
From 2009-2011, Dell spent 1.3% of sales revenue on advertising.
From 2009-2011, Apple spent less than 1% of sales revenue on advertising.

Results: MS’ revenue was steady, marketing went up, profits took a nosedive.
Results: Dell’s revenue was steady, marketing went up, profits are jumping all over.
Results: Apple’s revenue tripled, marketing was steady, profits quadrupled.

So from a marketing perspective, it looks like Apple’s advertising is far more effective, but it isn’t due to outspending the competition. Any marketer will ask you (off the record) — is the product any good? Give me strengths and weaknesses and we will market it to the best of our abilities. Perhaps Apple’s ad people aren’t magicians, perhaps they just have a better product to schlep?

Surface Thoughts

Lots of discussion around about the new tablet coming out from Microsoft. They are calling it the Surface and while competing with the iPad, they are taking a fundamentally different approach to the device.

Philosophically, MS has shown their usual penchant for completely missing the point. Anyone who has enjoyed using an iPad, especially lately, should find the Surface confusing and clunky. Anyone who has avoided the iPad and calls tablets toys to discount their use will probably be surprised at how ackward both the hardware and software is on the Surface. Here’s why:
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Mobile Crystal Ball

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OK, quick hit, how I see the next 2 years playing out in the critical mobile OS area:

Microsoft buys or otherwise takes over Research In Motion and quickly picks up corporate market share by building a direct bridge from Blackberry to Windows Phone 8. Consumer use of Win8 still lags overall by usual Microsoft standards but they turn around this backslide of the last few years with solidly designed products. First Surface tablet is deeply flawed but gets some things right, and gets their toe in the tablet space.

Apple holds their ground. iOS is up to version 7 and unless your politically against Apple, is the standard-bearer in both design, app development, and the ever important PROFIT per app and per phone. The AppleTV grows to be a new voice/arrow controlled interface into iOS and your personal apps, running on every big screen in your possession if you are an Apple person. Apple people will continue to buy any and all Apple products and being in someone’s presence, and especially residence, will make it clear if they are ‘Apple people’ or not, sort of like religious or being into a particular cause or lifestyle.


steve-jobs-vinyl-records-fsmdotcom


Google continues to stumble with Android except in the area of total units shipped. Basically every free phone in existence runs some variation of Android, and there are thousands of variations by then. Google doesn’t care much because it profits off the chaos. Remember all those Android users and developers needing to google how to upgrade their phone or how to troubleshoot. Android is the new Windows95 – no one likes it but it’s everywhere. The real winner here is Linux, as the nerds continually take (back) over the Android world.

Don’t see any newbies making major moves. There’s always the game systems but game systems are game systems. If you run your life through a game system I don’t think you have lots of recurring income.

If we agree that market share in the US today is 40-30-15-5 Apple-Android-Blackberry-Windows, I can see a market in the US as 45-20-35 Apple-Android-Windows

My First Apple Prediction

Ya right, but it is one of my first published. Just off the top of my head, I’ll post my announcement prediction before they get to announcin’:

  1. iOS 6 will ship this summer. New features include Apple-built mapping with some industry-leading bells and whistles, extensive AirPlay integration with everything Apple, a new iPod music app, more Siri integration with other databases (both local and network), new iLife iOS apps with some whiz-bang features, and something on the digital wallet front so we can pay for things with our iPhones.
  2. OS X Mountain Lion is ahead of schedule and shipping soon, digitally only. Those of us on Snow Leopard will be screwed again. It’s getting harder and harder to use professional software on the Mac because Apple is forcing your hand on software upgrades and the developers make the user pay. But most of us will upgrade anyway because Apple is still 10x better than the alternatives.
  3. Apple TV is real and it’s a compelling product. It’s basically a big screen TV running iOS through the TV and voice interface (as opposed to the touch interface). This screen can do everything the current AppleTV and Roku products can do, such as stream HD from hundreds of sources served through a ‘Channel Store’ / ‘App Store’.But it can do so much more: go full-screen using voice control on your personal database apps like Address Book and iCal; run iOS apps that list information such as recipes and study guides, display iBooks interactively, query the web using Siri, browse with a TV-friendly Safari, play your movies, photo slideshows, and even Youtube, and yes, play real iOS games adapted for the TV interface. Basically a 6 foot wide iPad you talk to (or use the remote when you are sick of yelling at the wall) – most Apple users will start saving for one immediately.The killer feature of the iScreen might be buried though – it features a universal video search much like the current iOS does left of the Home screen. This search will be the google of video, both live and archived, both privately owned and publicly shared. For example – type your favorite band name into this thing and you will see every TV appearance, every DVD, every Youtube bootleg, every film appearance, every MTV and VEVO video, even if they are going to be on HBO or NBC this week – basically every instance of video past, present, and future on the subject.So this thing will hang on your wall, possibly not replacing your current TV, but forming a new place in the house – like the kitchen or dining room, a home office, even over the mantle. Wherever it is you can talk to it or remote control it. Yes the future is now – walk into your house, say what you are thinking, and up comes a screen full of every type of video imaginable on the subject. Say “next” or “back” to select, “play” to load, and “pause” to go grab a drink. While watching a movie and you forgot to check something: “pause movie, go to web, my blog, resume movie”. My favorite – live playlist creating: while playing a song in the music app “create playlist, add all 2MERICA, save as Ego Trip” and so on.Nothing like this has been done before and I really don’t know how Apple would get access to all of that data, but this is just what I feel they are working on.

That’s it. I’ll have to tune in in 24 hours to see how?prescient?I am.

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The iPad of 1997

It was called a Newton, it had a kindle-like screen, handwriting recognition, great software, and was still smaller than a modern netbook. Check out this in-depth look at using the final model of the Apple Newton, circa 1997.

The guy is right – there’s things it can do that 2012’s iOS, Android, and Blackberry’s still can’t do.

Then again, sitting next to a loaded iPad 3, that Newton does seem about as powerful as a legal pad. Progress in fits and starts.

Upon Jobs second time running Apple, he killed the Newton product line and started work on the iTunes/iPod/Pad/Phone lines that drove the company to dominance.

Hopefully developers in and out of Apple are still working on transferring some of those great Newton features into iOS. I’d use the handwriting recognition, the text markup features, the data handling, even the play dial-tone feature on my iPad.


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Tech Titans

Market speak for computer companies during my geek-life:

My first glance:

IBM = titans, Microsoft = nerds, Apple = hippies, Atari = artists

My High school years:

IBM = clumsy old titans, Microsoft = business nerds, Apple = misguided hippies & artists, Atari = dead

My College years:

IBM = business nerds, Microsoft = titans, Apple = hippies on life support, NeXT = futurists


BeOS


My 20’s:

IBM = researchers, Microsoft = clumsy old titans, Apple = colored plastic iMachines, NeXT = artists, Be = futurists

My 30’s:

IBM = futurists, Microsoft = business school, Apple = titans & artists, NeXT & Be = long gone


My point? I’ve seen most of these companies grow, shrink, dominate, follow, and some even disappear.

It’s been a wild ride to watch, and as Apple sits seemingly at the top of the mountain again (arguably the first time since 1978) I felt the need to show this cyclic nature.

You younger geeks out there can perhaps get a little context.

Creator of the WWW Credits Steve

Us internet old timers know the story, but with Steve’s passing I thought it important to point out that the guy who developed/invented the world wide web, HTML, and the http protocol back around 1990 claims he couldn’t have done it without his NeXTOS UNIX workstation, the core of which today is available to the world as MacOS X.

His name is Tim Berners-Lee and he’s a fascinating figure. With the dream of getting professors and grad students a quick, free method to share research he used his new Unix workstation with it’s developer-friendly OS to hash something out. He mentions the machine came pre-configured and ready to work, something that is often dismissed as ‘mere marketing’ by Apple-haters these days. By removing frustration and configuration, even on a UNIX workstation, Steve Jobs enabled users to become world-changers.

If Steve Jobs put the electric starter on the automobile 100 years ago Android and Windows carmakers would explain that getting out of the car to crank is more customizable and allows you to configure your exit door, your cranking speed, and your re-entry door. Apple locks you into one choice, starting the car quickly and easily. After all, you have places to go and worlds to change.

Thank You For All Of It

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Steve Jobs: 1955-2011.

Where would the tech world, perhaps the world as a whole, be without Steven P. Jobs? The concepts he developed in his teens and twenties regarding if/how/when/why we interact with computers built entire industries. Appleholics like myself are everywhere now, and the Apple-haters have spent the last 5 years doing everything they can to catch up (or ignore) the market-leading companies of Jobs’.

Even technophobes gobble up his Pixar movies.

Look, platform debates amongst users are geeky fun but useless. I’ve used a mac as my main rig since the mid-90’s. I also am a developer and have worked cross-platform that whole time. Regardless of what OS you are using right now on your PC, laptop, or phone — stare at it right now and know that it wouldn’t work half as well as it might without Steve Jobs doing his thing.

He set the bar high and you either bought into his vision or you waited for someone to develop a slightly different version of his vision that fit your needs. But regardless, he has way more points in putting his vision into existence and into your life and pocket than any other modern businessman.

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He’s one of the few minimalists in tech, a huge part of his aesthetic that his copycat competitors always fail with. The discipline to remove features is what made Jobs and Apple so special. Doing 10 core functions better, faster, simpler than anything else was valued at Apple through most of their designs. Windows or Android might pile on the features but they always seem to ruin the core functionality and they taint the usability of the device.

Some of us have been preaching this for decades but it’s only the last 5 years that Apple got their product lines all firing at the same time and the speed and size of the tech caught up with the vision of Steve Jobs.

RIP my dear man, you have helped me to learn more, work more, explore more, earn more, and overall enjoy life more than anyone else I can think of.

Here’s a nice note from Prez Obama, also a fan of Jobs.

My First Laptop

I’ve been more or less living on a laptop since about 2002. I had a desktop machine as my only rig from ’87-’96 (Atari, Apple, Tandy, Gateway, Dell, IBM, white boxes, you name it…) and around 1996 I was finally able to pick up my first laptop on that new thing called eBay: an Apple PowerBook Duo 230 with a built-in modem, fax, rollerball and an extra battery. I quickly picked up a duoport SCSI adapter and was on my way.

It came from a guy in California that said he used it on the beach and hoped it didn’t have any sand in it – it did. I never managed to buy the whole desktop portion to slide the closed duo into, but it was one hell of a laptop.

This was the first netbook by about 15 years, I think. It was smaller and lighter than anything else out there even when I bought it used. The rollerball was killer, the buttons worked great, plus it had a built in modem, ethernet, and retractable legs!


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Respect.

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Jobs during the mac development era


If you got the idea of empowering people through a friendly, logical computer interface, you’ve liked this guy for a long time.

If you got the idea that UNIX power should have a mainstream use, you’ve liked this guy for a long time.

If you or your kids enjoy certain computer animation films, you’ve liked this guy for a long time.


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Jobs during the NeXT years, planting seeds for the networking and digital media future.


If you appreciate the design that goes into products that become an extension or a tool, rather than an enemy, you’ve liked this guy for a long time.

If you appreciate progressive business ideals (at least for america) you’ve liked this guy for a long time.


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Jobs unveiling an early iPod, the device that changed everything.


If you think all of the above is crap and he’s just another business man trying to make a buck, you’ve come to appreciate this guy recently.

Today he announced he was unable to continue as CEO. Cancer is a bitch, even to one of the most compelling business leaders the world has seen in generations.

15 years ago the company he founded was a punch line in the very industry it created. Then Think Different happened. iMac. iPod. iPhone. iTouch. iPad. A 10-year run even the biggest fan boy couldn’t have imagined.

The man’s grand design came together and prevailed over FUD.

Apple Inc. CEO Steve Jobs smiles during a Q&A session at the end of the iPhone OS4 special event at Apple headquarters in Cupertino, California in this April 8, 2010, file photo. Apple Inc co-founder and former CEO Jobs, counted among the greatest American CEOs of his generation, died on October 5, 2011 at the age of 56, after a years-long and highly public battle with cancer and other health issues. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith (UNITED STATES - Tags: SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY BUSINESS HEADSHOT OBITUARY)

Jobs during a recent event for Apple, visibly thin and weak.

All that said, the iCloud is on the horizon, and my friends and I have taken to calling it SkyNet. Apple without Jobs could possibly revert to bad strategies.

You Only Post On Comment Sections Because You Want To Be Trendy

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Say you need to purchase a big ticket item, and this item is the primary tool you use to make a living. Which one do you select?

  • The product built from better materials, to a tighter specification, that will then last longer, or an inferior plastic-framed lookalike?
  • The product that, although stronger, is also lighter, quieter, and has less moving parts? Continue reading