Maccast 2015.03.21 - Show #519
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* Music is Say Anything by Manda and the Marbles
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V News
V Speculating on Apple Watch numbers
V According to Cult of Mac a DigiTimes analysis of the sapphire glass supply chain claims that Apple will consume 18 percent of global sapphire ingot output.
* Two companies in China, Lens Technology and Biel Crystal Manufactory, are handling the finishing.
* Orders Apple has placed with the two companies indicate that Apple could ship an estimated 15-20 million Apple Watch units in 2015
V Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo thinks Apple could launch Apple Watches with up to three new casing materials in time for this holiday season
* Kuo didn’t say what materials he expects Apple might use, but it had previously been rumored that Apple considered a platinum watch.
* He claims the reasoning for new materials would be to boost end of the year Apple Watch sales.
* Kuo forecasts shipments of between 5 million and 6 million Apple Watch units in the first half of 2015, growing to between 15 million and 20 million units in all of 2015.
V A recent research study of 1,245 Americans might indicate that those sales numbers are a bit low.
V According to a Reuters/Ipsos 25 percent of those they surveyed said they planned to buy an Apple Watch.
* Given roughly a current adult US population of 248 million one quarter would be over 60 million people. A point made by Rene Ritchie at iMore.
* OK, the study sample was small and who did they ask? But this is just US buyers. The Apple Watch is launching in nine countries
* 13 percent of survey respondents who did not own an iPhone said that they would consider buying one in order to buy an Apple Watch.
V Cracking the Apple Watch companion app
* Cult of Mac had a story about an iOS developer Hamza Sood who cracked the Apple Watch companion app and discovered some details about the setup process
* Up to 2GB of available space for music, but appears that you can adjust that lower.
* You can select an iTunes playlist to be the one you sync with the watch when it’s on the charger
* Add up to 12 "friends" in your friends circle that appears when you press the side button on the watch
* Cover to Mute. Place your palm over the display for three seconds. You get a "tap" to confirm the mute is set.
* 'Prominent Haptic’ which will tap your wrist before some "common" alerts come in.
V May the Force Touch be with you
* Reports and rumors are coming in that Apple plans to expand the Force Touch technology found in the Apple Watch display and now in their new MacBook and 13-inch Retina Macbook Pro trackpads into the next iPhone.
* The report really isn’t that surprising.
V I tried out the Force Touch trackpad on the 13-inch MacBook Pro in an Apple Store recently.
* for clicking it didn’t feel any different than my current MacBook Pro
* The force, push deeper, click was interesting, but I didn’t feel as string a sensation as some people have described. It also felt difficult to achieve precise level of deep clicks as when trying to control FF speed in Quicktime.
V Force Touch uses what Apple calls their "Taptic Engine" to provide haptic feedback to trick your brain into "feeling" a click.
* This could be a way on the iPhone keyboard to allow users to "feel" keys and simulate presses
* Apple is said to be considering adding a pink option. I would imaging it would more be like a "rose" gold colored to match the Apple Watch, but obviously not a real gold case.
* Other possible features in the next "S" series iPhone 6 updates include an increase from 1GB to 2GB of RAM and a mutli -carrier SIM, like the ones in the newest iPads.
* A recent update to iMovie on the Mac added new Force Touch feedback for things like reaching the end of a clip when expanding out the timeline or for when a title snaps to the beginning or ending of a clip.
* Adding a "tactile" layer to app interfaces isn’t just cool. If done right it can provide another helpful layer of UI and it has potentially great applications in improving the accessibility of apps for impaired users.
V Analyzing the MacBook
* Not surprising that a lot of opinions have been forming in the wake of Apple’s MacBook announcement.
V We don’t know much about how the new Intel Core M processors will perform in the MacBook, but they do have a lower clock speed than the Macbook Air’s Core i3
* Anandtech does have PCMark benchmarks on the Core M running in a Lenovo Yoga 3 and it indicates it’s about 10% slower than the 13-inch Macbook Air
* Also the 13-inch Air has a non-Retina display so it’s GPU and CPU need to drive fewer pixels. The GPU in the Macbook is also a slightly lower Intel HD 5300 processor
* If you need raw horsepower it’s likely not for you, but that’s why there is the Macbook Pro.
* I’ll also reserve full verdict until we get our hands on the thing and see real world tests.
V KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo thinks that the single port configuration and relative high price point could keep MacBook sales low in the first half of 2015
* He told investors he expects Apple to ship only 450,000 MacBooks in the first two quarters of this year.
* Considering Apple typically ships around 5 Million Macs a quarter that is a tiny slice indeed. My guess is Kuo is severely underestimating the demand.
V Sea of USB-C info
V John Gruber suggested that his Apple sources told him that Apple invented USB Type-C and that they gave it to the standard bodies.
* There doesn’t appear to be much evidence to support Gruber’s claim, so if Apple did "invent" the standard they have worked hard to keep it quite that they did.
* They were involved in it’s development though.
* Apple does seem to have contributed more engineers to the USB-C project, about 23% of the 79 named engineers, more than all but a few companies.
* Intel though has been involved in the project since the beginning and it’s Texas Instruments and the USB Working Group listed in the USB Type-C press release from 2013.
* Apple and Intel did work together on the Thunderbolt spec and Apple touted that relationship heavily when they announced the connector.
* Then again, a patent surfaced this week that was awarded to Apple for a slimline reversible input/output electrical connector for transferring a variety of data types including HDMI, audio, USB and video.
* USB-C can handle serial data, video connections (HDMI, DisplayPort and VGA), and power.
* Power is bi-directional so it can provide power to external devices.
* Can handle power of up to 20V and 100W
* Connector is reversible
V It’s USB 3.1 so is theoretically capable of data transfers up to 10 Gbps, Apple claims the MacBook port maxes out at 5Gbps though.'
* There are 2 versions on USB 3.1. Gen 1 and Gen 2.
* Ben 2 is the 10GBPs version and not what Apple has in the MacBook
* "USB 3.1 Type 1" uses the same controllers as USB 3.0
* Can use adapters and is backward compatible with old USB connectors.
V Does not appear to be able to currently support Thunderbolt or Firewire, though it is expected to support Gigabit Ethernet.
* I’m guessing since the USB 3.1. Type 1 still uses the USB 3.0 controllers this makes the Thunderbolt adapter support not possible.
* But Anandtech notes that it is possible for a USB Type C port to send PCI-E data through the connection, so that to me shows hope that at some point their could be Thunderbolt adapters. That said it may need to wait until Apple updates the 10Gbps Type 2 version and end then 10Gbps is only Thunderbolt 1 speeds, not TB 2
V Buyer be ware
* USB 3.1 products and devices may support the Type C connector, USB 3.1 Gen 2, USB Power Delivery, and USB Alternate Modes but support for one doesn’t necessarily imply support for any of the others.
* You’ll want to check the products specs and packaging to make sure you get the support you want.
V Wither MagSafe
* Many are lamenting the loss of MagSafe, I’ll miss it, but there is an advantage
* A standard connector means that Apple no longer blocks that port, so things like external battery packs become a possibility.
V More options, more support
* There are already a myriad of companies like Belkin, Lacie, and others who immediately announced USB-C products.
* This is unlike what we say with Thunderbolt which took as long as six months or longer for us to see products.
V Reports of the anti-reflective coatings rubbing off of Retina MacBook Pros
* Looks pretty horrible for those impacted
* Not sure if this is isolated incidents or not, but effect users claim that they have been careful with the screens and never used solvents or harsh chemicals when cleaning the displays.
* Looks like my experience with anti-reflective costings on my glasses
V ResearchKit starts strong
V Less than 24-hours after Apple’s announcement of Research Kit Stanford University researchers reported that they had 11,000 people signed up for MyHeart Counts, a cardiovascular disease app
* The Parkinson’s app had 5,589 participants in about the same time frame.
V Research Kit is a new open source framework that developers can use to build apps that can aid in medical research studies.
* The iPhone has incredible computing power, communication capabilities, and data storage, contains sophisticated sensors like an accelerometer and a gyroscope, plus the dedicate M8 processor to monitor and manage the sensor data.
* With permission, the apps give access to the sensors in smartphones and devices like the Apple watch.
* That data can then be collected and shared with the research institutions who developed the apps using Research Kit.
* The advantage is it has the possibility to give researchers an longer term, more consistent, and much larger sample size for research studies.
V And it seems to be working, but I thin it might be too early to declare absolute success
* They need people to stay in the programs and I’m sure some of the immediate big numbers are hype.
* The Stanford study is also probably the most "open" app in terms of the qualified research group.
* The apps run users through a fairly extensive series of "qualifying" questions.
* Still iPhone owners may not be representative of the U.S. population as a whole. They tend to be more likely to have graduate and doctoral degrees and have a higher income as well.
* It will be up to the developers of the apps and researchers to figure out how to handle potential issues like selection bias, attrition bias, and observer bias which could corrupt a study’s findings.
* Remember though that ResearchKit is open source so there is nothing to stop it from being ported to a myriad of other platforms and devices over time.
V The potential advantages though I think far outweigh any early concerns
* Todd Sherer, CEO of the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, says that a traditional study with 800 participants over five years cost around $60M.
V What about privacy?
* Access to health data collected by the apps will be restricted to approved medical researchers and barred from commercial use.
V Sage Bionetworks, a nonprofit biomedical research organization in Seattle, handles collecting, de-identifying and storing of the health data gathered from the five apps developed with ResearchKit.
* Apps developed with ResearchKit aren’t required to use Sage.
V When received by Sage personally identifiable info is stripped form the data and then the data is encrypted and stored on the server. A randomly generated code is associated with the person’s study data and an encrypted map links the participant account and participant study data.
* The research institute conducting the study will have the key to identify people who participate in the smartphone medical research studies in case there is need to contact the participant if a problem is detected.
* Apple and Sage do not have access to the key though.
* Only study organizers and IT staff can access the research data, which is stored on a secure cloud server.
* HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) regulations don’t apply to data that is acquired and shared for research
* Still, the data is encrypted when it is transmitted to Sage and the cloud systems storing the information are HIPAA compliant.
* Personal details like first and last names, signatures and email addresses are required in any medical study and the apps require a signature of the participant. The email is used to send the participant study results.
V Hiding a 'Titan' in plain sight
* Most of have heard by now that many believe Apple is investigating the viability of producing an electric, and possibly self-driving, car.
* The project is reportedly codenamed, "Titan" and they are supposedly pretty far a long in R&D. So how did no one know until now?
* AppleInsider has been digging and discovered Apple might have been hiding in plain sight.
* Just next door to Apple’s main campus in Cupertino, in a Sunnyvale office park, they appear to have leased several buildings.
* According to one AppleInsider source familiar with "Titan," many of Apple's new auto-related hires, including recruits from Tesla, have been working out of the Sunnyvale campus.
* The "Titan" development building itself is reportedly codenamed "SG5."
V It’s been know for a while that Apple has had employees in buildings in Sunnyvale, but that never threw up flags because they’re been busting at the seams.
* Why they are building the new "spaceship" campus.
V What is new is "SixtyEight Research", a market research firm that might be a shell company for Apple’s car efforts
* "SixtyEight LLC" was registered as a company last year in California, and imported a 1957 Fiat Multipla 600 from the U.K. Jony Ive is a know Fiat enthusiast.
* The company has a minimal website, but also has a building in the same vicinity as other Apple leased building and they recently were issued city permits for construction of an "auto work area" and a "repair garage".
V Apple may launch streaming TV service
* This is something we’ve brought up from time to time in various forms but this week there’s renewed activity in the story
* Old rumors had Apple attempting to partner with cable TV providers, but that seems to have gone nowhere and even resulted in Apple having a reported nasty fallout with Comcast owners of NBC/Universal
* Now it seems Apple is going the more direct route according to The Wall Street Journal and is in talks with networks like ABC, CBS, and FOX.
* A packaged service that would include about 25 channels from many of the "big" network channels like ABC, CBS, ESPN, Disney, and 21st Century Fox. Sounds similar to "basic" cable channels.
* Subscribers would have access to live streaming content as well as back catalog shows, though the details of how and what shows is not known at this point.
V Because of that falling out between Apple and Comcast at this point NBCUniversal is said to be out of the current talks.
* NBCUniversal is reportedly still set to bring an app to Apple TV to allow current cable subscribers to access their shows on Apple TV and iOS devices.
* A later report claimed Discovery and Viacom are in talks to offer content through a rumored Apple-branded online subscription television service. This is interesting since the original reports made it seem Apple’s series would mostly offer, "main stream" broadcast TV channels
V Some report have implied that Apple is offer channel providers more data and control to get them to agree to the new service
* Content owners will be able to receive data on who [Apple's] viewers are, what they watch and when they watch it, according to the New York Post.
* Reportedly Apple will also let the networks decide when and if they will air ads in their programming.
* The service is rumored to cost between $30 to $40 per month and debut at Apple's annual Worldwide Developers Conference in June.
V If we get a new TV service we’ll want a new box to watch it on right?
* Rumors of an updated Apple A8 based Apple TV also surfacing around WWDC
* A lot of the rumors being tied to the update we’ve heard before.
* A dedicated App Store with support for third-party software
* Siri voice input, hostly thought to help with HomeKit integration
* A new one though, on board storage, more than the 8GB that we have now.
V What wasn’t re-hashed in these latest rumors was a motion controller. Remember Apple Acquired Prime-sense and we have seen much related to that tech yet.
* Prime-sense could be part of the Apple self driving car tech?
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V Feedback, commentary, opinions
V More iTunes management on laptops
* The past few episodes we covered some ideas for managing a really large iTunes Library on a laptop.
* The big problem is that as internal storage gets smaller with Apple’s new Flash based laptops it gets harder to have large iPhoto and iTunes Music Libraries stored locally.
V Apple’s fix is to move our Libraries into iCloud with services like iTunes Music Match and the upcoming iCloud Photo Library.
* But that means paying for service and storage in the Cloud.
* I covered moving your iTunes Library to an external and I personally use a 2TB USB bus powered portable drive so I can take my Library with me if need be.
* Nick wrote in to give his endorsement for a piece of software I’m familiar with, but have never used. TuneSpan.
* TuneSpan give you tools to "span" your iTunes library across multiple volumes and manages it for you.
* In Nick’s case he’s like me and keeps most of his files on a 2TB external drive, but he also sets up selected playlists of music he always wants on his MacBook Pro.
* He can then tell TuneSpan to "span" those playlists and keep that music stored on the local drive.
* So you could keep say your Music files on your internal volume, but move the larger Movies and TV shows over to an external volume.
V What’s not clear to me is how the software behaves when I’m disconnected from my external volumes?
* It says it doesn’t modify the iTunes Library files directly, but uses Apple Events (AppleScript).
* My guess is since the pointers are still to the missing external volume that you get the broken link "!" icon still and are asked if you want to find the original media files.
* Still if you want a way to break up your Media files across multiple volumes this might be the ticket.
* I’v also heard of people doing it manually and using symbolic links, but that can get messy really fast.
V iCloud free account limit
V We recently had a listener give a great tip for seeing an iOS device without needing to disable Find My iPhone (Activation lock) first.
* The tip was to create a "free" account that you and the buyer shared the login for and then register the device to that account, set the passcode (also shared with the buyer), put it into "lost" mode, and then send it.
* Once receive the buyer could take the device out of lost mode and remove the device from Find My iPhone on the temporary iCloud account.
* Brilliant plan, but could have one flaw according to listener Steven. Apparently there is a limit on the number of free accounts you can register for from any one device.
* The limit is three and the account sign ups appear to be tied to the device ID when you create them from the device.
* So if you set up your iCloud account directly on the device, then set up the temp account from that device you’ve now used two of those sign-ups. Once the buyer creates their new persona account from the device the last one would be used and no more accounts could be created from that device.
* The word around would be to make sure you create the account directly from and not on the device itself, but still until Steven emailed me I had no idea this limit even existed. Did you?
V Shooting video on an iPhone
* I got an email from Phil who has the most adorable Beagle. He had been shooting video on his iPhone 6 and editing it in iMovie on the iPhone.
* The trouble was he noticed when viewing his shots in the camera roll the video would fill the screen, but in iMovie when editing the clips would come in in a square format with black bars on the left and right.
* In addition in iMovie everything felt smaller and further away.
* Phil then sent me sample video and I knew immediately what the issue was.
* Phil, the issue is that you shot the video in portrait (vertical) mode which works on the iPhone when viewing in vertical orientation, but in landscape (horizontal) mode it needs to shrink down to fit the screen.
* iMovie is designed to create video meant for display on a screen or TV, all devices that use a square to rectangular "landscape" format.
* iMovie is attempting to compensate for the "tall" video by slightly scaling, cropping, and centering your video in the landscape format. Thus the black bars on left and right.
V In iMovie on the iPhone you can adjust the video a bit to get more (or less) in the frame.
* Select the video clip in your project and in live playback area at the top you should see a magnifying glass with a "+" in it.
* Tap that and it will allow you to "pinch to zoom" the video to get the best framing and cropping.
* Zoom out to get more of the frame (but more black boxing) or zoom in to better fill the frame and get closer to your subject.
* Unfortunately, if the subject in your video clip moves around iMovie can’t track the subject inside the framed and cropped video to keep it in frame.
* What I’ve just described is what they call "fix it in post", but it’s really not the best fix. The best fix is to avoid the "garbage in, garbage out" problem. Not implying by the way that your video was "garbage" Phil, with a dog that cute any video is great.
* It’s just and saying to make the point that it is infinitely harder to fix video, lighting, or sound issues after the fact. In your projects you want to get the best possible quality in to get the best out and that means shooting in the correct orientation.
V For an iPhone that means shooting in landscape and preferably with the camera lens on the top edge of the phone. If it’s on the bottom it’s technically upside down.
* The iPhone and Quicktime will compensate for video shot "upside down", but not all apps do.
* There are also some 3rd party video apps that will only shoot in landscape, so if you have trouble remembering you might look into those.
* I wish the camera app had a setting to allow you to lock just the video part into landscape mode.
V Thing of the Moment: CARROT Weather
* I’ve become a big fan of the Apps developed by Brian Mueller.
* They began with a CARROT ToDo and CARROT Alarm and now have CARROT Fit and CARROT Hunger.
* The common theme is the great simple design and sadistic overload computer personality named CARROT.
V She, my kids call her evil SIRI, calls you meatbag and generally berates you in to complying with what you’re supposed to do in the App
* She will also send disparaging notification messages if you are not pleasing her.
* So in the FIT app for example if you don’t achieve your weight or exercise goals she will punch you by displaying ads.
* There are rewards for doing good too.
* Now they’ve added the great snarky CARROT personality to a Weather app.
V It’s just fun as when you open the app you get a fun simple illustration of an avatar in the current weather conditions and a funny spoken comment
* Like "Today seems like a great day to finally punch your boss in the mouth. He and/or she has been asking for it."
V There is also 21 "secret" locations that you can undock by taking various actions
* Like bring up the weather for specific "special" cities
* Or opening the app a certain number of times or in certain places.
* I’v unlocked the Lars Homestead on Tatooine, Mount Doom, and Apple’s R&D Labs among other places.
* CARROT Weather is available on the App Store now and is USD $2.99
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