What’s the point of audio messages?

David Sparks wrote about the point of audio messages in iMessages.

Now that we’ve all been using iOS 8 awhile how big of a thing is the ability to send a recording of your voice via iMessages? I’ve done it once for the sole purpose of demonstrating how it works. I thought it may be a generational thing but my kids report they aren’t using it either.

For some languages, it is easier and faster to send audio messages than to have to type the messages by hand. Audio messages would also be useful for people who can speak a language but doesn’t know it well enough to be able to type it out.

On the celebrity data theft

Nik Cubrilovic has written one of the best pieces on the recent celebrity data theft. On the surface it’s easy to say that Apple’s iCloud security was breached and private photos stolen, but upon further inspection it’s very clear that there is a lot more going on. Let’s also not forget that interest in nude photos of celebrities has been around since forever.

What we see in the public with these hacking incidents seems to only be scratching the surface. There are entire communities and trading networks where the data that is stolen remains private and is rarely shared with the public. The networks are broken down horizontally with specific people carrying out specific roles, loosely organized across a large number of sites (both clearnet and darknet) with most organization and communication taking place in private (email, IM).

What is Apple Watch

Matt Gemell shared his thoughts on the Apple Watch.

It’s important to understand what Watch is, and why it’s interesting. Apple isn’t pursuing the tech consumer crowd with this product, and that’s unprecedented for the company.

Before iPhone, there were two kinds of mobile phones: regular ones, and so-called smartphones. The latter were business tools, with plastic mini-keyboards, and advertising campaigns that focused on Exchange integration and other such soul-numbing corporate concerns.

Now, the iPhone defines the smartphone category. There are iPhones and the many similar, imitator devices, and there are also still the “dumbphones”, quickly passing from the consumer’s consciousness. Apple owns the category, in popular consciousness. Just like iPods define what a portable digital music player is.

iPhones, iPads and iPods (and Macs) have one thing in common: they’re for the consumer who’s looking for a piece of technology. People who primarily want a device, and then select that device based on reputation, fitness for purpose, price, and perhaps aesthetics and build quality. In all cases, though, they begin with the fundamental concept of a gadget. iPhones and the rest all belong to the tech sector.

There are already smartwatches available, and they’re all also gadgets. They live in the tech sector too, and they’ve been designed and marketed as such, to the same old crowd of consumers. They are geek toys, without exception.

Apple doesn’t care about that market, because it’s a tiny segment of an industry they already dominate. What Apple cares about is the wristwatch market.

Wristwatches are for everyone, geek or not, and premium watches are for the discerning, style-conscious consumer looking to advertise that they have a certain lifestyle. These buyers begin with the concept of a watch, not a gadget on the wrist.

Many people listen to music. Only some people were interested in a portable music player and fewer people used MP3s. The iPod brought portable digital music into the mainstream.

Many people had a mobile phone. Only some people were interested in a smartphone. The iPhone brought smartphones into the mainstream.

Many people had a personal computer or laptop. Only some people were interested in the idea of a tablet. The iPad changed that and for many people the iPad replaced their PCs.

Many people wear a watch. Only some are interested in a smartwatch. Will the Apple Watch revolutionise how the space on the wrist is utilised?

How does the iOS 8 time-lapse feature work?

Dan Provost wrote on Studio Neat about the iOS 8 time-lapse feature.

This is an efficient way to assemble a time-lapse. When you start recording a time-lapse, the app only captures 2 frames per second. If the recording period extends beyond 10 minutes, the app switches to capturing only 1 frame per second, and deletes every other frame it had captured in the first 10 minutes. When the recording duration doubles (20 minutes), the same thing happens. Now the app is only capturing 1 frame every 2 seconds, and previous frames are dropped to match this tempo. And so forth. The longest video I recorded was 8 hours, but presumably using this method you could record for much longer (Apple’s website casually mentions 30 hours). Because the app is being so efficient with frame capture and storage, you don’t need to worry about your phone capacity filling up.

The result of this method is that anything you shoot will generally end up being between 20 and 40 seconds long, an ideal shareable length. Also worth mentioning, the resulting video is always 30 fps, the standard framerate for video. No surprises there.

It just works.

Apple Watch hands-on: the wristwatch just caught up to the 21st century

ABlogtoWatch wrote about the Apple Watch.

The reaction to the Apple Watch among the watch community has been interesting, but not unexpected. In further discussion of how smartwatches will effect the watch industry I asked the question of how screwed the watch industry is because of the Apple Watch here. Aside from denying it “watch status,” they have referred to it as everything from ugly to useless. Once again, this is a sentiment often associated with items that may compete with one’s passion or interests, or when an item or company enters a new space. Skepticism is the norm in such instances and whereas traditional watch lovers have more-or-less ignored most smartwatches to this point, they have given the Apple Watch a huge amount of attention – even if has been both bad and good attention.

Given that the Apple Watch is so highly inspired by traditional watches, I think the reaction to it by the watch lover community is worth noting, though it should be understood for what it is by anyone who views it from the outside. I don’t think anyone in the watch lover community likes or dislikes smartwatches anymore than anyone else, but they are a lot more highly invested in what they are wearing on their wrist already. Apple’s watch, as well as the best that become available from its competitors in the future (mostly will likely run Android Wear), threaten to force a lot of people to potentially make a decision about what is on their wrist. Will people opt for classic design, tradition, style, and collectibility, or will they opt for functionality, connectivity, and convenience in a much more modern package? A lot of watch people at some point soon will face what I call the “Luddite’s dilemma…” stick with what you know and love, or brave the promises of the future, with all its uncertainties and learning curves.

Apple Watch’s real purpose

Kyle Baxter wrote about the Apple Watch.

That is the reason we find ourselves, when we receive a message and pull out our phones to respond, often descending into a muscle memory check of our other iMessages, emails and Twitter stream. We pull out our phone for one purpose, like responding to a message or checking our schedule, and end up spending several mindless minutes (or, if I am honest, more than “several minutes”) checking in on whatever it is. We find ourselves doing this even when we shouldn’t. We do it while seeing friends and family, while out to dinner with them, while at home with family when we should be spending time with them or doing other things.

What Apple Watch can do to overcome this:

But what force taps and the digital crown will not do is make the Watch’s small screen as large as a phone’s. You can’t type out a reply to a message or email. You can’t browse the web for something. You can’t dig through a few months of your email to find a certain one. You can’t mindlessly swipe through Twitter (well, you could, but it’s going to be pretty difficult). That, though, is an advantage the Watch has over the phone. Because it is inherently limited, it also has to be laser-focused on a single purpose, and while using it, you are limited to accomplishing something. It’s a lot harder to lose yourself in a 1.5″ screen than it is in a 4+ inch screen.

That’s going to be one of the Watch’s primary purposes for existing: allowing us to do many of the things we do on our phones right now, but in a way that’s limited and, thus, less distracting. If you’re out to dinner and receive a message (and haven’t turned on Do Not Disturb), you’re going to be a lot less likely to spend a couple minutes on a reply, and then Instagram, if you’re checking and responding it to it on the Watch. It just doesn’t work that way.

Faster horses

Álvaro Serrano wrote about the Henry Ford’s quote and how it applies to Apple.

If I had asked my customers what they wanted they would have said a faster horse.

The main lesson behind Ford’s words is that, if you aim to create a revolution, you must be willing to part with the existing preconceptions that are holding your competitors back. Only then will you be able to take a meaningful leap forward. That will surely attract some criticism in the beginning, but once the product manages to stand on its own, people will see it for what it really is.

In retrospect, Apple products are often seen as revolutionary, but only after they’ve gained a foothold in the market and more importantly, in our collective consciousness. Only then, people start seeing them for the revolutionary devices they always were. At the time of their announcement, though, they tend to face strong criticism from people that don’t really understand them. Apple products are usually not terribly concerned with conforming to the status quo and in fact, more often than not they’re actively trying to disrupt it. And that drives some people nuts.

It happened with the iPod:

No wireless. Less space than a nomad. Lame.

It happened with the iPhone.

That is the most expensive phone in the world and it doesn’t appeal to business customers because it doesn’t have a keyboard, which makes it not a very good email machine.

It also happened with the iPad.

It’s just a big iPod touch.

The Apple Watch, of course, is no different:

Apple Watch is ugly and boring (and Steve Jobs would have agreed).

The real reason PayPal isn’t an Apple Pay preferred partner

Bank Innovation reported on why PayPal isn’t an Apple Pay preferred partner.

But while these talks were going on, PayPal went ahead and partnered with Samsung on the Galaxy S5 fingerprint scanner, a move that was reportedly forced onto PayPal by eBay CEO John Donahoe. PayPal’s now-former president David Marcus was purportedly categorically against the Samsung deal, knowing that it would jeopardize PayPal’s relationship with Apple. Donahoe won the day, however.

Apple was said to be absolutely furious that PayPal did the deal with Samsung, which led Apple to cut PayPal out of the Apple Pay process entirely. (One source said: “Apple kicked them out of the door.”) This dust up with Apple was a big reason that David Marcus ended up leaving PayPal for Facebook.

Huge loss for PayPal.

US law enforcement seeks to halt Apple-Google encryption of mobile data

Bloomberg reported on US law enforcement officials seeking to halt smartphone encryption.

“This is a very bad idea,” said Cathy Lanier, chief of the Washington Metropolitan Police Department, in an interview. Smartphone communication is “going to be the preferred method of the pedophile and the criminal. We are going to lose a lot of investigative opportunities.”

There are many other forms of data available for the police even if they are locked out of accessing your mobile phones. And if they really want to, they could brute force and the passcodes. Before making such a fuss about encryption, they should make do something about NSA surveillance, something they seem to be dragging their feet to deal with.

Compromise needed on smartphone encryption?

Washington Post wrote about the need for a compromise on smartphone encryption.

How to resolve this? A police “back door” for all smartphones is undesirable — a back door can and will be exploited by bad guys, too. However, with all their wizardry, perhaps Apple and Google could invent a kind of secure golden key they would retain and use only when a court has approved a search warrant. Ultimately, Congress could act and force the issue, but we’d rather see it resolved in law enforcement collaboration with the manufacturers and in a way that protects all three of the forces at work: technology, privacy and rule of law.

Whoever wrote this piece probably doesn’t grasp cryptography. And believes that chaos will reign if smartphones are encrypted.

The assumption that smartphone makers should provide a back door is flawed. If the police has a warrant to search the house, who should be responsible to unlock the house: the house owner or the company that built the house? Should builders leave a secret door, opened only with a golden key, in every house they construct? Or should the owner be the one who locks the house and chooses whether to open it to the police?