Sam Harrelson



Sam Harrelson

“What’s a computer?”

There’s this meme that keeps coming back on Twitter. A young person discovers a floppy disk and calls it the save icon. Apple is using the same idea with this ad. When the mum asks her daughter what she is doing on her computer, she answers “what’s a computer?”

via Apple’s new ad shows how iPads are going to replace laptops | TechCrunch

There’s no doubt that “computing” will continue to evolve from the way we interpret that action today (based on conventions that come from machines primarily from the 80’s but also the mainframes and typewriters that preceded them).

I’ve been using a Google Pixelbook for 99% of my “computing” over the last two weeks. I love the integration that this device has with the Android app store and being able to install apps like Microsoft Word or Excel or Powerpoint and use them in full screen as if I was on a Windows laptop. I also love being able to flip this device around into “tablet mode” and play racing games or browse Netflix using what were previously mobile apps. Combined with the Pixel Pen, this device has changed the way I think about my own workflow in a rapid fashion.

The iPad Pro can do that for many people (especially students but also “adults”) as well.

I’m a big fan of the show Westworld. It has incredible visual effects and a captivating story. But the technology used by characters on the show is what really draws me in (I know I know). The handheld “computing” devices they use with foldable screens, touch sensing, AI, and integration of mobile and laptop features is so attractive to me. I hope Apple / Google / Amazon / Microsoft or whatever company that is currently being bootstrapped in a young person’s garage apartment gets us there in the next decade.

We’re almost there with transitional devices like the iPad Pro or the Pixelbook.

 




Why doesn’t turning off Bluetooth on iOS actually turn off Bluetooth?

Another reason I tend to prefer Android is the ability to control things on a granular level. Does every user of a mobile device need that? Certainly not. Is Apple “wrong” for this “feature” design? That’s debatable.

But it’s interesting to see how Android and iOS continue to develop along their own trajectories when it comes to designing software for the Lowest Common Denominator of users…

Users can still completely turn off Bluetooth and Wi-Fi by digging into the devices menu settings, but essentially the button does not do what a user can reasonably assume Apple says it does, and that’s because Apple doesn’t trust you. This decision is the next logical step for what has always been Apple’s design ethos: It thinks it knows what you want more than you do.

via Apple Doesn’t Trust You – Motherboard




Is Apple’s New Face ID a Security Risk?

The majority of negative commentary I’m seeing about Face ID in particular amounts to “facial recognition is bad” and that’s it. Some of those responses seem to be based on the assumption that it introduces a privacy risk in the same way as facial tracking in, say, the local supermarket would. But that’s not the case here; the data is stored in the iPhone’s secure enclave and never leaves the device. More than anything though, we need to remember that Face ID introduces another security model with its own upsides and downsides on both security and usability. It’s not “less secure than a PIN”, it’s differently secure and the trick now is in individuals choosing the auth model that’s right for them.

via Troy Hunt: Face ID, Touch ID, No ID, PINs and Pragmatic Security

Good read here on the pragmatic nature of what Apple is doing by pushing technologies such as Touch ID and Face ID in its devices. No, they aren’t foolproof and there are downsides. But Face ID is a way to help ensure that the “mainstrem” of security-apathetic users of these devices have at least some protection if their device is stolen etc.

However, that most people simply ignore or don’t care enough about basic security options such as 2 Factor Authentication that is available on most of the web and financial etc services we all use is appalling.

I’m constantly urging clients to use services such as 1Password or LastPass for their password generation and storage as well as services such as Authy which make it easy to use 2 Factor Authentication (and safer than relying on SMS for codes).

“But I’m a nobody. Who would want to hack my GMail or Facebook or Twitter?” isn’t a viable rationale or excuse anymore, if ever!




Can I Replace My Computer with an iPad?

 

Yes. Probably. I have many needs for a desktop computer in much the same way I drive a pickup truck. Do most people need a desktop computer or even a laptop … or a pickup truck? No.

The new iPads are amazing and iOS 11 is a game changer when it comes to getting things done with a “big iPhone”.

For seven years, I worked as an Expert, Store Trainer, and Worldwide Instructional Designer for Apple. So as you can imagine, I’ve had an innumerable amount of questions and conversations with customers and team members all over the world about tech. And one of the ones I heard most was, “Can an iPad really replace my laptop?” Most people you ask that question of, provide definitive, knee-jerk responses, like “absolutely” or “no way.” But the actual answer, like with most tech, is usually: “It depends.”

via Can iPad replace my laptop? – Enjoy Technology Inc.




The $999 iPhone

iphone_8_glyph.jpg

I don’t think the price of the new iPhone 8 / Pro / X / Edition / whatever-its-called is going to put a damper on the demand:

Chief among the changes for the new iPhones: refreshed versions, including a premium model priced at around $999, according to people briefed on the product, who asked to remain anonymous because they were not authorized to speak publicly. Apple made room for a bigger screen on that model by reducing the size of the bezel — or the forehead and the chin — on the face of the device. Other new features include facial recognition for unlocking the device, along with the ability to charge it with magnetic induction, the people said.

via Dear iPhone: Here’s Why We’re Still Together After 10 Years – The New York Times




Voice Isn’t the Next Big Platform

This piece is originally from Dec 19, 2016, but interesting to revisit as we enter the home stretch of 2017 (and what a year it has been):

In 2017, we will start to see that change. After years of false starts, voice interface will finally creep into the mainstream as more people purchase voice-enabled speakers and other gadgets, and as the tech that powers voice starts to improve. By the following year, Gartner predicts that 30 percent of our interactions with technology will happen through conversations with smart machines.

via Voice Is the Next Big Platform, and Alexa Will Own It | WIRED

I have no doubt that we’ll all be using voice-driven computing on an ever increasing basis in the coming years. In our home, we have an Amazon Alexa, 4 Amazon Dots, and most rooms have Hue Smart Bulbs in the light fixtures (oh, and we have the Amazon Dash Wand in case we want to carry Alexa around with us…). I haven’t physically turned on a light in any of our rooms in months. That’s weird. It happened with the stealth of a technology that slowly but surely creeps into your life and rewires your brain the same way the first iPhone changed how I interact with the people I love. We even renamed all of our Alexa devices as “Computer” so that I can finally pretend I’m living on the Starship Enterprise. Once I have a holodeck, I’m never leaving the house.

And perhaps that’s the real trick to seeing this stealth revolution happen in front of our eyes and via our vocal cords… it’s not just voice-driving computing that is going to be the platform of the near future. In other words, voice won’t be the next big platform. There will be a combination of voice AND augmented reality AND artificial intelligence that will power how we communicate with ourselves, our homes, our environments, and the people we love (and perhaps don’t love). In twenty years, will my young son be typing onto a keyboard in the same way I’m doing to compose this post? In ten years, will my 10-year-old daughter be typing onto a keyboard to do her job or express herself?

I highly doubt both. Those computing processes will be driven by a relationship to a device representing an intelligence. Given that, as a species, we adapted to have relational interact with physical cues and vocal exchanges over the last 70 million years, I can’t imagine that a few decades of “typing” radically altered the way we prefer to communicate and exchange information. It’s the reason I’m not an advocate of teaching kids how to type (and I’m a ~90 wpm touch typist).

Voice combined with AI and AR (or whatever we end up calling it… “mixed reality” perhaps?) is the next big platform because these three will fuse into something the same way the web (as an experience) fused with personal computing to fuel the last big platform revolution.

I’m not sure Amazon will be the ultimate winner in the “next platform” wars that it is waging with Google (Google Assistant), Apple (Siri), Facebook (Messenger), and any number of messaging apps and startups that we haven’t heard of yet. However, our future platforms of choice will be very “human” in the same way we lovingly interact with the slab of metal and glass that we all carry around and do the majority of our computing on these days. It’s hard to imagine a world where computers are shrunk to the size of fibers in our clothing and become transparent characters that we interact with to perform whatever we’ll be performing, but the future does not involve a keyboard, a mouse, and a screen of light emitting diodes for most people (I hear you, gamers) and we’ll all see reality in even more differing ways than is currently possible as augmented reality quickly becomes mainstream in the same way that true mobile devices did after the iPhone.

Maybe I just watched too much Star Trek Next Generation.




Apple fires back against Spotify

“We find it troubling that you are asking for exemptions to the rules we apply to all developers, and are publicly resorting to rumors and half-truths about our service,” it reads. “Spotify’s app was again [i.e. after being resubmitted on June 10] rejected for attempting to circumvent in-app purchase rules, and not, as you claim, because Spotify was simply seeking to communicate with its customers.”

Source: Apple returns fire on Spotify, calling out ‘rumors and half-truths’ over App Store rejection | TechCrunch

Ouch.




Spotify and Apple at odds

Spotify declined to comment; Apple hasn’t responded to request for comment.

For the past year, Spotify has argued publicly, and to various regulators in the U.S. and Europe, that Apple’s subscription policies effectively punish third-party music services that use Apple’s platform, while boosting Apple Music, the home-grown service it launched in June 2015.

Source: Spotify says Apple won’t approve a new version of its app because it doesn’t want competition for Apple Music – Recode

Well, this is not going to end well.




Thoughts on Evernote’s price hike

Evernote

Evernote has been one of the leading note-taking services for some time, with clients for the Web and every major OS. The company recently announced sweeping changes to its “freemium” pricing strategy, which puts a big limit on the “free” tier and raises prices across the board for new and existing users.

Source: Evernote limits free tier to two devices, raises prices 40%

I’ve been an Evernote user since March 28, 2008 (got in before it launched in beta in June 2008) and immediately signed up for their Premium option when it opened up.

I was eager to support the app / service early on, because I saw the utility of being able to access my notes and create new ones from whatever device I happened to be on. That was already possible with the early iterations of services like Google Docs that had previously been Writely, but Evernote felt “new” in the sense that it was post-iPhone and looked ahead to a world where apps became the driving force of interaction, especially on mobile (after Steve Jobs relented on allowing apps to be installed and an app store for the iPhone).

Over the years, Evernote became more things to more people than just a note taking app. There were checklists, and document syncing, and PDF OCR, and business card storage. As a result, there were more and more calls for Evernote to get back to its roots and avoid bloat. I know I suffered through some of the “bloat” in 2011 and 2012 when Evernote seemed to really take off and started acquiring smaller and focused apps such as Penultimate, Skitch (still one of my favorites), Readable etc to round out their offerings. Then, there were the partnerships with the “offline” world such as Moleskine and Post-It Notes. We even saw an Evernote branded line of coffee mugs, backpacks, and lifestyle gear.

It was all too much.

I welcome this new period in Evernote’s story. I’m hoping they do “slim down” to some extent and even focus more on things like the current web version’s Google Drive integration (rather than being a document storage platform themselves). I’ve always thought of Evernote as more of an “Operations HQ” that ties into other apps I use like Trello or 1Writer on the iPad than a place to store all of my documents, pictures, and files.

I use Evernote everyday, and more so now that I’m trying to use iPad Pro as my main computer. It serves as my note repository, the place where I put PDF’s that I need for OCR, and a quasi-database of ideas for clients and research. It’s indespinsible to me, and I’m not sure how something “free” like OneNote or Google Keep could replicate that. I’m hopeful they continue to push forward on the excellent web version as well (and that doesn’t affect free members, which is a nice incentive for people to give it a try).

It’s painful when anything “goes up” in price. But the economic reality is that costs go up as we demand more from services and companies compete for skilled developers. Evernote did see the loss of a number of devs over the last few years, but I’m hopeful they’ll get their mojo back.

So, sign me up for another year of Premium.




iPad Pro is the new Mac

“I can’t speak for you, but I’m writing this editorial on my everyday productivity tool — the iPad Pro. It’s what I like to think of as the “computer for the rest of us”. It’s already incredibly functional and I can’t wait to see iOS 10 up and running on it.”

Source: iPad Pro is the new Mac

I have to agree with Michael Gartenberg here… the iPad Pro is quickly becoming my “everyday computer.”

Yes, there are certainly times when I need to “drive the truck” that is my maxed-out-RAM large desktop computer, but those times are coming fewer and farther between.

Now if only it becomes easy to do podcasting on an iPad, I’d be a total convert.