The FaceID Only Conundrum

New tech is not always better just because it is new.  Over the last year while rumors of FaceID becoming reality on the next phone were out there, we also heard how Apple was working on getting TouchID working on the screen.  Well they didn’t, and now it’s FaceID only on the iPhone X.  
Judging by the first reviews this move will be a tad controversial.  I have two worries.

  • Checking the phone discreetly is now impossible.  If you are in a meeting, out for a meal, or just walking down the street a great feature of the iPhone was unlocking it while taking it out of your pocket and just peeking down at the screen. The phone never had to get a few inches outside your pocket and you had the ability to respond quickly to message, read a note, etc.  Now if you want to unlock it, the phone has to see your face.  
  • The other worry is Apple Pay. I know there is a new gesture (double tap power button) to launch Apple Pay, but again your face to authorize?  This is where the previous home button was perfect.  

Both of these issues can be resolved if you use an Apple Watch with your phone.   I wonder if Apple starts pushing the Watch as the “needed” accessory to get the everything working as it did before.  I know it would not be Apple like, but I wish they just put a fingerprint sensor on the back like Google did and let you unlock with your finger or your face.  We will all find out in just a few days if my worries are founded.

Small Look Behind the Numbers

Streaming Music Numbers

https://techcrunch.com/2017/03/02/spotify-50-million/?ncid=rss&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Techcrunch+%28TechCrunch%29

 

The streaming firm clocked 40 million ‘Premium’ subscribers in September 2016, having hit the 30 million mark in March, so the growth rate has continued to be fairly consistent. Aside from its $9.99 paid plan, Spotify also offers a more limited free option that it monetizes via ads. Back in June last year, the company disclosed that it had reached 100 million registered users — including paying and non-paying users — but we haven’t had a newer figure since then.

There’s plenty of competition in the market, and Spotify’s nearest rival is Apple Music, which reached the 20 million paid user mark in December. Tidal, the service owned by rapper (and soon-to-be-VC) Jay-Z, reached three million last March which was its last update.

These numbers made me think of the famous quote that “a rising tide lifts all boats”.  The only difference being that in this case it might be only two boats.  Since Apple Music has launched Spotify has done more than hold its own.  While there are other players out there like Microsoft, Google, Amazon, and Tidal it does seem that it’s a two horse race right now.  Has Spotify become the go to for Android?  The irony is that Google has by far the best deal out there right now as you get Google Play Music with a YouTube Red subscription for the same monthly price as the others.  The libraries are all pretty similar as of now, so it should not be hard for people to jump around.

Spotify yesterday also announced they will be adding a lossless audio plan similar to what Tidal offers.  This is interesting, and I still think Apple will add something like this with the purchase of Tidal.  It seems Tidal was created as something to be purchased.

The Battle For the Classroom

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/02/technology/apple-products-schools-education.html?smid=tw-share&_r=0

Of the 12.6 million mobile devices shipped to primary and secondary schools in the United States in 2016, Chromebooks accounted for 58 percent of the market, up from 50 percent in 2015, according to the report. School shipments of iPads and Mac laptops fell to 19 percent, from about 25 percent, over the same period. Microsoft Windows laptops and tablets remained relatively stable at about 22 percent, Futuresource said.

The next generation is being taught that the default is Google.  It’s pretty incredible that an OS that is just a few years old is getting close to a 60% market share in the US.  Now with new Chromebooks running Android apps it will be interesting to see if they can start to grow in any meaningful way outside of the education market.  They are offering something today that Microsoft is trying to promise in the future.

 

3D Touch Actually Can Be Useful

3D Touch for Power Users – MacStories

https://www.macstories.net/stories/3d-touch-for-power-users/

Author: Ryan Christoffel

It has been over fifteen months since I began using 3D Touch, and I’m convinced that the true value of it only becomes evident through dedicated practice. If you just use 3D Touch now and then, you may find yourself frustrated by not knowing or remembering what all it can be used for. The lack of iPad support doesn’t help here.


If you have an iPhone 6S or later this is pretty good roundup on some 3D Touch.

My iPhone Homescreen as we Enter 2017

  • FantasticaliTunes Store App Website While I find the built in Calendar good enough for most things, there are a few features that bring me back to Fantastical. First it combines both my calendar and reminders. I like seeing reminders with dates on them show up on my calendar. It also just accesses the system setup for your calendars and reminders allowing you to still use Siri as you would with the stock apps. Lastly, you can use natural language to add events. You can type “lunch at 3:00PM with John at Union Square Cafe” and it will parse that and put the data in the right place. There is a separate iPad and MacOS app as well.
  • Notes I have been using the stock Notes app after being both an Evernote and OneNote user. All of these apps are fine, but Notes is simple and good enough for daily use. My favorite feature is that I can lock certain notes behind TouchID allowing me to put pretty much anything in there.
  • Workflow iTunes Store App Website This app has become a go to for so many things. It allows you to combine multiple steps from multiple apps with just one click. You build your own “workflows” or select from the gallery. Just go read all the coverage of this app over at Mac Stories as I can’t do this app justice in a writeup.
  • Mail Yes I use the stock Mail app. I use both an exchange account and an iMap account that is hosted by Fastmail. I find the stock app still handles Exchange well, and Fastmail worked directly with Apple to get real push using iMap. If you are a gmail user I would recommend Outlook for iOS as it gives you push e-mail without having to use the awful GMAIL app. I am not a fan of one app housing my mail, calendar, and contacts so that is why Outlook is not my default.
  • Clock Yes a clock! I just like easy access to my alarms, Next!
  • Snapchat iTunes Store App Website I avoided this app for a while, but I find it kind of fun. I don’t use it much for messaging, but making and watching stories is cool! Give me a follow.
  • Slack iTunes Store App Website By now most people know what Slack is, and what it does. I have it on my phone for work purposes.
  • Tweetbot iTunes Store App Website This is by far the best Twitter app on iOS. Just for the design itself it is worth using. If you use the product on the Mac or iPad it also does a great job of syncing your timeline via iCloud. I still keep the Twitter app installed for the few features that Twitter keeps for themselves.
  • Washington Post iTunes Store App Website The Washington Post is one of two newspapers I subscribe to. The app itself is great, and I have been a loyal reader for two decades. If you are an Amazon Prime user you get a nice discount starting with six months for free. You literally have nothing to lose.
  • New York Times iTunes Store App Website The other paper I subscribe to is the sad and failing New York Times. While some may not like it, it is still the paper of record and employs some of the best writers in the world.
  • Apple Music App Website After using other music services I have come to settle on Apple Music. Most of the music services have similar catalogs at this point so the default service on iOS had some advantages. I did miss my Spotify playlists, but Apple has done a good job adding the feature over the last few months. Having Siri capabilities is what ultimately made this decision a no brainer.
  • Overcast iTunes Store App Website I subscribe and listen to a lot of podcasts, so this app choice is important. First, I need an app that allows streaming because I don’t listen to all the podcasts I subscribe to so I don’t want the app downloading what I don’t want to hear. Second, I like speeding up the podcasts. This is where Overcast excels, I have found the app has the best sound quality even when sped up. Third, I listen across devices so it has to sync. The app does a decent job of that, and even has a minimal web version that is usable. I also like Pocketcasts if Overcast is not your thing.
  • MyFitnessPal iTunes Store App Website This app is personal. I started using this app five years ago when I was over 300 pounds. I still use the app and weigh in around 190. I did not do anything special. I setup a profile, it told me how many calories I should eat, and I followed it. When you exercise it allows you to increase what you eat which is a nice bonus. While what you eat is the most important part of losing weight, exercise is needed to keep you healthy. I am still on my journey and hope soon to celebrate my ultimate goal of 165. Feel free to add me as a friend.
  • Dark Sky iTunes Store. This is one of those hyper local weather apps. It tells you when it is about to start raining or snowing down to the minute. The feature that gets this on my first page is the great widget.
  • 1Password iTunes Store App Website Everyone should use a password manager these days. Use it on every system you have, and set crazy passwords that are only used in one place. I use 1Password as I find it does the best job on iOS. If you want another to look at try Last Pass, just use something! You should also use two factor authentication on every service for that. While it’s not on my first page I use Authy as it syncs across devices and has browser plug-ins for the desktop. P.S. Your browser saving your passwords is not smart, so stop and turn that off now. You’re welcome!
  • Wallet Yes Apple Wallet sits on page one. I love Apple Pay as it safer and easier than having to whip out your credit card. I also have my other cards from places like Starbucks and Duane Reed sitting in there so quick access is important. Most airlines also will throw your boarding passes in there which is handy.
  • Apple Maps This is a newcomer for me with iOS 10. Apple Maps was never good enough to be the default during it’s first few years of existence. I have found this has changed with the most recent version of iOS. Now to be clear this depends on where you live. The main reason I have gone to Apple Maps is that it now does a better job with mass transit in the New York City metropolitan area. They have directions down to which set of subway stairs to use. If Apple Maps is not good enough where you are, just go ahead and get Google Maps. For mass transit apps, both Transit and CityMapper are both great.
  • Instagram iTunes Store App Website The only product from Facebook that made the cut is Instagram. It is one of my favorite social networks as you can say a lot with just images. The latest updates were put in to compete with Snapchat, and they have done a good job with this. Hey follow me!
  • Photos and Camera I am lumping these two together for obvious reasons. The camera is well the camera. The default iOS camera is still the best in class when it comes to what ships with your device. If you want more professional options I have been a longtime fan of Camera+. Photos has been rebuilt from the ground up, and I like what they have done. As someone who does not want my life being part of Google’s learning alogorithm I am happy that Apple has managed to include some of those features without the privacy worries. I do backup my photos to OneDrive in case anything happens to my library. I get plenty of storage as part of my Office365 subscription, so might as well!

Page 2

I keep everything else on Page 2 in folders. I rarely open these apps from here, but instead open them via Siri or Spotlight. I am still working on folder structure, but as long as the app is on the device it really does not make a difference.

The Dock

  • Phone Yes it’s the phone app which I still have to use once in a while on a phone.
  • Messages This is the app which many argue has the most lock in of any service on iOS. While all your text messages sit in here, using iMessage to chat with other iPhone users is great. If you are an iPad and/or Mac user you can also chat from those devices with ease.
  • Safari While apps have killed many needs for the mobile web, it has not killed everything. I still use Safari for many things including Facebook since I don’t want to install their battery eating hellscape of an app.
  • Drafts iTunes Store App Website There is so much to say about this app. It is a blank canvas where I start most of my writing. It has what the app calls “actions” that lets you then decide what to do with the text. You can send to e-mail, send to Messages, etc. I use it as my default way to start every e-mail message. Then I have “actions” that apply the correct signature I want with that message. When you have multiple aliases this solves a big problem. I also use it to tweet when I have hashtags saved around something. You can easily setup an “action” that appends the hashtags after you type your tweet before it sends it out. Check out the Action Directory to see what else you can do with this app. Let me just point this out. This entire post was written on my phone in Markdown before sending it to WordPress via a Workflow from the app above. As someone once said, it’s “magical”.

A Good Take on the iPad

I was wrong about the iPad Pro

The iPad Pro 9.7 has changed my work habits. When I wake up in the morning, I’ll take it from my nightstand and start the day sitting at my kitchen table, reading the news, drinking coffee, and cruising through Twitter. If there’s something big going on, I’ll write a story before I take my wife to the train. The rest of the day is spent on my Windows 10 PC in my office, for the most part, until the evening when I return to the iPad Pro. I’ll finish editing and scheduling posts for some of our west coast writers from the iPad Pro while doing the daily NYT Crossword, for example, an app that I found isn’t available on Android tablets.

I love the portability. If I decide to change my work habits, I’ll bring the iPad Pro with me in the car, ready to edit or write a story from a coffee shop or diner over lunch. It’s lighter than my other devices and offers exactly what I need. And while my Chromebook offered a similar experience in terms of productivity, the better display, comfortable keyboard (it’s really amazing) and larger selection of apps keep bringing me back to the iPad Pro.

As I don’t see myself being a pen user (yet), I have been using the Air 2 in the same manner.  It is still a companion device, but a companion that has become a lot more useful in day to day work activities than I ever imagined. 

Goodbye to Tekserve

A Final Tour of NYC’s ‘Original Apple Store’ – YouTube

Gizmodo did a nice video about Tekserve.  They were the Apple store before there was an Apple store in NYC.  Even after the Apple Store Tekserve was the place where businesses went who wanted to use Apple in the workplace.  Over the years I have used them for hardware sales, support, consulting, etc.  Every person there was amazing, and they all loved the products they supported.

Now where do we go for Filemaker help?  

Hey Siri, You are Not Useless!

this post was originally posted by me on The Agnostic Tech Podcast Site
I devour a lot of news in a day, my RSS reader has a ton of feeds on every different topic you can think of. From politics in the US to the latest news in business in Africa. Shocking no one who knows me, there happens to be a lot of tech news mixed in there. One thing seems to be constant when discussing Apple and iOS, no matter your opinion on any number of issues, everyone agrees Siri is useless.

With that in mind when I switched to iOS I had zero hope for Siri. On my Android phone I really like Google now, and I find Cortana to be making great strides in Windows 10. Here is something you won’t read a lot, “I am using Siri, and liking it”.

read the rest of this post on Agnostic Tech Podcast site….

Note to Microsoft Press and “Fans”: Stop The Whining

I have not written in a while, but thanks to IFTTT my Instagram photos have been keeping this site full of fun and exciting pictures.  Okay, maybe they are not fun or exciting!  Then I see something that makes me angry, so here I am.

This week Facebook is cutting off access to a very old version of their Graph API.  An API that has been updated over and over again.  At an event well over a year ago Facebook announced that they would be cutting off access to this old version, and that anyone who uses it should update their app or service to use the new version.  So this week Microsoft posts that because of this change many Microsoft services that were connected to Facebook using this ancient version of an API were no longer going to work.  Then comes the crazy and stupid headlines.  Some said that Facebook was f**king Microsoft, and many others made it sound like Facebook was going after Microsoft users specifically.  This was factually incorrect, but that does not matter.

This reminds me of the Google cutting off Exchange Active Sync story from a couple of years ago.  If you just listened to and read many that covered or followed Microsoft you would think that Google was targeting the twelve Windows Phone users (I was one of them at the time).  The truth is that this was a move by Google that impacted a lot more iPhone users who used EAS to connect their Gmail accounts.  Google was trying to force their free users to use the Gmail app in order to have push e-mail.  If you still wanted EAS access, they said pay up for a Google Apps account.  You can disagree with what Google did to their users, but this was not a shot at Microsoft or Windows users.  They were doing what every company is doing, trying to get their users to use the official app.

Then there was the YouTube app debacle.  Google once again did not make an app for Windows Phone users, so Microsoft at the time decides to build their own app.  There are ways to make a third party YouTube app that works, but that is not what Microsoft did.  They built an app that broke every rule Google had set for app developers in order to get the reaction they did from Google.  Microsoft even had an option to download videos in the app!  This was going on at the same time that Microsoft was running an online and TV ad campaign called “Scroogled”.  Somehow people wanted you to believe that Google was the one targeting Microsoft here.  The truth is that Microsoft was poking Google over and over again trying to get Google to react so Microsoft can spin it and use public pressure to get an official app.  Well that did not work.

The good news is that the new regime at Microsoft stopped the “Scroogled” campaign, and seems to have moved pass this mentality.  Microsoft is going back to what they do best, making software.  This software is now running well on every platform their customers run.  From iOS to Android to Windows, you can use Microsoft’s software and services and Microsoft says thank you.  It is time for Microsoft users and the press that covers them to realize the reality they now live in.  Facebook and Google are not going out their way to target Windows Phone users.  Apple and Google are in the middle of  a holy war over privacy, but Google is still creating new apps for iOS.  They are doing what they need to do to run their own business.  The same way Microsoft is now doing what they have to do.

Apple Needs to do Better

I know others have talked about this already, but I was just reading some news and it came up again.  That is Apple’s lack of women on stage at events.  This past week marked the first time in five years that a woman stood on stage at one of Apple’s big events.  Of course it was not an employee, it was model Christy Turnington.

To be clear, I have no issue with Christy Turnington’s role in the event. Having a model use your product is nothing new.  I also don’t want Apple to just throw some random woman who works for Apple on stage.  The glaring issue is that Apple has no women in positions that would get you on stage for their events.  Look at the leadership page on the Apple site.

Screenshot 2015-03-14 08.12.56

There is only one non white male in that photo.  I applaud Apple and CEO Tim Cook for many of their progressive views.  However, it is not enough to talk.  Apple is on top of the world right now, but that can change quickly.  Not having an array of opinions from different points of view is why many corporations have fallen from grace in the past.  This is not just the right thing to do, it is good business.  If that image above was from another company we would not hear the end of it.  Apple is a favorite of many outspoken liberals, so we hear nothing.

Apple…you can do better!

The New Macbook Might Not Be For You, but Say Thank You

As everyone knows by now Apple did not just introduce a watch on Monday, they showed off their new Macbook.  A really light and thin laptop that has only one port.  That is right, one USB-C port that is used to charge your device as well as being the only way to connect peripherals to your new laptop.  Judging by the reaction of some you would think Apple just killed their dog.

Let’s start with the obvious.  You don’t have to buy the device, or use the device.  In fact if having one port is that upsetting to you that you need to spend four days tweeting about it, you might want to look elsewhere or find a new hobby.  Like Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3 or Google’s Pixel, this device is made to serve a niche audience.  If you are a user that rarely or never connects external devices (more users than you think) or you’re a user that considers portability and weight more important than processing power, this device might be for you.

What is amazing is that the same people who will bash Apple for every device they make are using devices that Apple has made better.  Does anyone want to go back and look at what laptops looked like when Apple introduced the first MacBook Air?  The Air pushed all PC makers to make ultrabooks that their customers were now demanding.  Every PC OEM is still trying to catch up with Apple in regards to touchpads.  While many have improved, I still have not used one that is in the same ballpark.  So this new laptop might not be for you, but chances are it will make the laptop you buy in a year or two better.

With Apple making crazy amounts of money in mobile, I am happy they continue to improve and innovate their relatively small PC business.  Thanks to their control over hardware and software, they are in a unique position to push the envelope where others have to be more conservative.  As consumers we should applaud all companies for innovating, and trying to improve.  Whether HP, Lenovo, Microsoft, Samsung, or Apple.  When all of these companies push each other, we win.  As always buy the best device for you, but instead of mocking others for their decisions try stepping back and seeing what else is out there.