Microsoft Officially Announces Windows 10

I don’t see a lot that interests me. Certainly nothing worth switching over. And, I can’t believe they went with the name “Windows 10.” As John Gruber points out, what once was an April Fool’s joke is now an actual news story.

The Demise of the Camera Roll

It was quite jarring when I used the camera app for the first time after upgrading to iOS 8. Everything seemed fine until I tapped the camera roll button to see an overview of the photos I had taken during my family’s annual apple picking trip. I happened to notice that the navigation button in the upper left that used to give me a thumbnail view of my camera roll was now labeled “All Photos.” I didn’t know what to expect until I tapped it — I was pushed out of the Camera app and into the Photos app displaying the “Moments” view of the Photos tab. This isn’t what I expected or wanted to happen.

For seven years that navigation button took you to a thumbnail view of your camera roll. And, now it’s a glorified shortcut to the Photos app. After some poking around in Photos I did find an album named “Recently Added” that closely resembles the camera roll. But, inside was not what I would have expected. There were photos that I assumed would be in my camera roll but there were also photos that I had taken and already removed from my camera roll using iPhoto. The “Recently Added” album was displaying photos that were taken within a period of time, not photos that I hadn’t dealt with yet — which in this case means pruned, edited, and imported into iPhoto.

What an incredibly confusing change for someone who has grown used to the camera roll’s existence over the past seven years. And, I’m not the only one that finds the new setup a bit confusing and annoying. There’s a (currently 14 page) thread on Apple’s support forum filled with complaints by users many of whom would prefer Apple bring back the camera roll.

I would love to see Apple reinstate the camera roll in a future version of iOS, but it isn’t going to happen. People (including myself) are complaining about the change because it has disrupted our workflow and left us confused about where our photos actually are. In time we’ll get used to it or at the very least learn to live with it. And, once Apple releases Yosemite with the new Photos app many of us will transition into saving all of our photos on iCloud and never have to worry about whether or not they’ve recently dumped their camera roll into iPhoto.

My biggest concern about moving to the cloud, though, is pricing. My current iPhoto library is nearly 40GB and I don’t know how I feel about paying Apple $3.99 a month to store it for me. I like the idea of having all of my photos backed up in the cloud, but I already have a pretty good backup solution that includes off-site backups and doesn’t cost me a dime (trading backup hard drives once a month with a family member). Time will tell how this all pans, but for now I’ll be missing the days when my iPhone had a camera roll and I had a better idea of what photos I still needed to process into my iPhoto library for long-term storage.

Jason Snell on Disappearing Media

I worry about relying on streaming media services  for all of my music and video. Streaming services work fine for the most part, but occasionally shows or music disappear. This time it’s Battlestar Galactica and next time it could be something you, personally, are in the middle of watching.

The convenience of having all of this content readily available is incredible. But, sometimes I miss the days when I owned physical media with the content I wanted. It’s a lot more difficult for media companies to take away my ability to watch their content when I have a disc or tape of it.

Retina iMacs in Late Testing Within Apple

Mark Gurman, writing for 9 to 5 Mac:

A new line of iMacs with ultra high-resolution Retina Displays is in late testing stages within Apple, according to our sources who have used the future desktop computer.

Mark Gurman has a great track record, so I suspect we’ll see these new iMacs released next month (or early next year if there’s any hiccups along the way).

iOS 8 Displays Battery Usage by App

I discovered this shortly after updating to iOS 8 and it’s really handy. Not necessarily to discover which apps are eating your battery life — that’s typically self explanatory — but it’s great for showing you which apps you use most often. If I ever decide to reorganize my iPhone home screen and dock I can use the battery usage screen to help me optimize the location of my app icons.

Inside the Building Where Apple Tortures the iPhone 6

Josh Lowensohn, writing for The Verge:

It’s here where Apple subjects its newest models to the kinds of things they might run into in the real world: drops, pressure, twisting, tapping. Basically all the things that could turn your shiny gadget into a small pile of metal and glass.

This reminds me of when Apple invited the press to tour their antenna testing facilities in response to antennagate in 2010.

Only Nine Customers Have Complained About Bent iPhones

In case you needed any more evidence that these bent iPhone reports are overblown.

The End of the Line for the Second-generation Apple TV

Peter Cohen, writing for iMore:

The second and third-generation Apple TV runs a variant of iOS, and the new Apple TV 7.0 software is the first release based on iOS 8. iOS 8’s minimum system requirements exclude the original iPhone 4, which uses the same microprocessor as the second-gen Apple TV.

I’ve had my second-generation Apple TV in the living room since I bought it years ago. When I purchased an additional Apple TV it ended up in the bedroom so that I wouldn’t have to uproot the living room’s media setup and move it (because I’m lazy sometimes). That third-generation Apple TV remained in the bedroom until last night when I made the swap.

I knew that at some point I was going to have to swap the two Apple TVs because Apple would start leaving features out of updates for the second-generation model. And, that update came last week.

Apple’s statement on the UNIX Bash Vulnerability

Apple provided the following statement to Jim Dalrymple regarding the recently discovered Bash vulnerability:

With OS X, systems are safe by default and not exposed to remote exploits of bash unless users configure advanced UNIX services. We are working to quickly provide a software update for our advanced UNIX users.

I would assume that the percentage of OS X users that actually use advanced UNIX services is miniscule.

Advanced Tricycling by Merlin Mann

Great talk about learning and curiosity by one of my favorite guys from the internet. It’s really good, especially the bit at the end.

Amazon’s New Kindle Lineup

I remember receiving my first Kindle as a Christmas gift from my girlfriend in 2009, just a few weeks before the first iPad announcement. I used my Kindle pretty heavily until my iPad was delivered on April 30, 2010. Since then I’ve struggled to find a reason to use it.

The new Kindle lineup looks better than ever, but I don’t think they’re for me. I don’t spend too much time reading books. I’d rather read articles written for the web instead. And, the iPad is much better suited for that task.

If I had to choose a Kindle from the lineup to purchase, (in this crazy scenario) I’d buy the basic Kindle without special offers for $99. And, it would essentially serve as a dedicated Instapaper reader that causes a bit less eye strain than my other devices do.

Bendgate

This guy decides to intentionally bend his iPhone because others have found their iPhone to be bent after regular use. Protip: don’t bend your phone.

John Gruber brings up a worthwhile point about all this:

Should not we be amazed that his phone didn’t snap in half under this pressure? That the glass didn’t fracture? Under pressure like this, bending but not breaking seems like an extraordinary feature.

I imagine that applying enough force to any phone would cause damage — shattered screen, cracked casing, etc. — I guess if it’s going to do anything, bending and continuing to function until I can get a replacement is the best of the lot.

If you wear extremely tight-fitting pants you should consider taking the phone out of your pocket when you sit for prolonged periods of time. You could also purchase a more rigid case to help prevent this sort of problem. And, there’s always the option of just buy looser pants.

Bloomberg’s Full Interview with Tim Cook

Discussing the Apple Watch, Apple Pay, and the changes Apple has gone through over the past few years.

Manual for iPhone

Great looking new camera app available in the App Store for $1.99. It also happens to have one of the best promotional videos I’ve ever seen for an iOS app.

Some iPhone 6 Plus Owners Accidentally Bending Their iPhones

This is a great example of why I skip the first release of a new hardware design. I’d rather have other people find the potential hardware defects before I use it on a daily basis.

How the iOS 8 Time-lapse Feature Works

Dan Provost on Apple’s time-lapse photography feature in iOS 8:

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’s pretty clever how Apple built their time-lapse mode — working to keep the resulting video files short and shareable while also helping to keep these videos from filling up available storage space on your iPhone too quickly.

Thoughts on Apple Watch

I decided to wait until the dust settled before I commented on Apple’s smartwatch. My initial impressions of the device were very negative. If you were to ask me what I thought about it a week and a half ago I would have told you that it’s a meaningless device that I can’t imagine myself ever wanting to use. But, I’ve come around on my thinking a bit. I still don’t want this Apple Watch. But, we could be two or three iterations away from something everyone is going to want.

Hardware

The Apple Watch is a pretty impressive piece of hardware from an industrial design standpoint. Sapphire crystal display, two different sized watch faces, three different metal casings, and a myriad of band options — Apple put a lot of effort into this. I would typically expect Apple to launch with one model and eventually get to different colors, sizes, and price points after a few years. But, Apple came out of the gate with options that will appeal to a larger group of potential buyers.

With all of these options, Apple really has stayed true to how Tim Cook pitched the Watch on stage — “the most personal device we’ve ever created.” This isn’t something that is going to spend most of its time hidden in a pocket or purse — this is a device that is meant to be worn and as such needs to be customizable to fit everyone’s idea of what a smartwatch should look like. Thinking about it from that perspective, I shouldn’t have been surprised that Apple is launching the Watch with so many options. A Watch is a very different type of product than anything Apple has built in the past. Some of Apple’s common strategies for product design could be applied to a watch, but not all of them.

I think we may look back on the first Apple Watch and wonder why we didn’t understand the importance of the Digital Crown. A spinning dial with a built in button is something that many watches have had for decades, and Apple is making use of it in a clever and unobtrusive way. I look back fondly at the click-wheel — it seems like such a brilliant way to navigate a music player that often has long lists of items that you have to choose from. But, at the time I didn’t realize how important it was to the design of the iPod — it really set it apart from other music players on the market because of how easy it was to actually use. I think the Digital Crown could do the same for the Apple Watch. No one else is doing anything like it.

There’s a ton of other neat details about the Apple Watch that will make gadget nerds drool. The MagSafe inductive charing solution, the touchscreen display that sensing force, Apple’s Taptic Engine, the heart rate sensor, the list goes on and on. The only disappointment I have with the hardware is with the battery life, which Apple hasn’t really pinned down yet, only stating that “you’ll want to charge them every night.” I have several friends that still haven’t gotten in the habit of charging their smartphones every night and the prospect of pitching them another gadget that they’ll have to charge every night will be a tough sell.

Software

The software is where I start to fall off the bandwagon a bit. Customizable watch faces are nice, but I already carry a pocket watch with me everywhere I go (I call it my iPhone). Receiving notifications on my wrist could be useful, on the other hand it’s not that much more difficult to pull my phone out of my pocket than it is to turn my wrist towards me. Quickly replying to messages on the Watch could be great, but I’m not at all interested in these animated emojis or dictating replies to my wrist. So that leaves it up to the text responses suggested by the Watch after analyzing the message, which could be great or terrible.

Having Siri on my wrist does sound like a worthwhile feature, though. I’ve found myself using Siri more and more over the past few months and it seems perfect for interacting with on my wrist since I’m typically using it when typing something would be inconvenient or cumbersome. Quick math questions, finding out how many days until a specific date, and asking how to spell something are some of my more common Siri queries — all of which would be perfect for the Apple Watch to handle.

The Maps app seems like it could be useful. Not necessarily for searching or finding locations, but the potential for turn-by-turn navigation is actually interesting.  Kevin Lynch mentioned on stage that when you use it for walking directions the Watch offers Taptic feedback at each turn with a different feeling for left turns and right turns. With this you can follow the directions to your destination without ever having to look down at your wrist. I think that could be useful for driving directions as well in instances when you don’t have access to a car mount for your iPhone.

An interesting new feature that Apple demoed on stage was Digital Touch — a way to use taps, doodles, and your heart beat to communicate with your friends. Tapping uses the Taptic feedback engine to send what feels like taps to your friends to get their attention or communicate something that you have previously established. Doodles can be used to communicate small messages like little love notes, quick questions, or nearly anything else that you could convey on the screen. Sending your heart beat is incredibly cool, it doesn’t send a canned heart beat but instead uses sensors built into the watch and send your actual heart beat to your friend — something Apple claims has never been done before.

Aside from a few things worthy of note, I’m left a bit uninspired by the software built into the Apple Watch. A lot of it is exactly what other smartwatch manufacturers have been doing and I’m not positive that Siri, Maps, and Digital Touch are enough to convince me to drop $349 on an iPhone accessory. Luckily, Apple is opening it up to developers with WatchKit allowing them to build actionable notifications and applications that will live on the watch at parity with Mail, Messages, and all of the other default applications. I expect developers will come up with some amazing apps that I would have never thought of for a wearable device.

Health and Fitness

The health and fitness features of the Apple Watch warranted their own section because of how important I believe them to be. Other companies have already convinced plenty of users to wear a device around their wrist that tracks their activities. The Apple Watch tracks activity as well, if not better than a FitBit or a Jawbone UP and has a great deal of other features to help justify the $349 price point.

There are two applications built into Apple Watch: Activity and Workout. The Activity app tracks time standing, time moving, and time exercising. All of which are visualized in rings with your goal being to close them before the end of the day. In order to close the three rings you must:

  • Stand for one minute during 12 separate hours of the day.
  • Hit your personal calorie burn goal by moving more.
  • Accumulate 30 minutes of exercise at or above a brisk walk.

This seems like the easiest way to track activity throughout the day and the simple “close the ring each day” mentality will keep you focused on reaching your goal without spending too much time figuring out how much more you have to do in order to reach it.

The workout app lets you select from a list of activities (running, cycling, etc.), select a goal for that activity, and track your progression during your workout. Once you’ve completed your workout it will give you a summary of your session and earn awards for your achievements.

The Apple Watch can also give you reminders during the day to help keep you on track and will suggest personalized goals that are realistic and achievable.

The Apple Watch is a best in class health and fitness tracker that is sure to give FitBit and Jawbone a run for their money. If I buy this Apple Watch it’s because of these features. I’ve thought about buying a FitBit for some time now. But, couldn’t find a way to justify the $99.95 price tag — especially when my iPhone already tracks my steps well enough. But, the reminders and personalized goals being clearly displayed is better than anything I’ve seen from other wearable health and fitness devices.

The Future

When Apple released the original iPod it was expensive, only worked on the mac, and was limited in the number of file formats it supported. But, that didn’t matter. It took over the music player market because it did what it did well and was perceived as a luxury item — even in later years when an iPod nano could be had for as low as $149.

You’re going to see celebrities wearing the Apple Watch and as a result the mass market will want it. As long as it does what it does well, Apple continues to iterate the hardware every year or two, and the price slowly makes its way toward the $99-199 range (as I suspect it will) Apple will take over the market.

I may not want this Apple Watch, but in two or three years when the battery life is an extra day and third party developers have been given the opportunity to build killer apps for the platform — I’d be surprised if an Apple Watch doesn’t find its way into my life somehow.

Apple’s ‘Warrant Canary’ Disappears

The wording in Apple’s privacy reports that Cory Doctorow identified as a “warrant canary” has not been included in Apple’s two most recent transparency reports. This suggests that Apple may have received an order under Section 215 of the Patriot Act.

Trade-ins of Samsung Phones Tripled

Tom Higgins, writing for Bloomberg:

When Apple’s main product, featuring bigger displays and faster chips, goes on sale starting in Australia, they may be best remembered as the generation of iPhones that won over consumers from rival smartphones.

He spoke with Chris Sullivan, CEO of Gazelle, who said that they were receiving a lot more Android devices as trades-ins this year than they did last year during the lead up to the iPhone 5s and 5c release.

Transmit Now Available for iOS

A great looking app with some great features. And, take a look at that gorgeous icon. I can’t wait to spend some time with it.

Your iPhone Can Ditch Google For DuckDuckGo

I’ve dipped my toe in the DuckDuckGo waters before. But, without the ability to make it my default search engine in iOS it never stuck for very long. iOS 8 adds DuckDuckGo to the list of search engine options in iOS. I’m switching the default search engine on all of my devices and plan on trying it out for a few weeks. I wouldn’t mind a little less Google in my life.

Move Content From Your Android Phone to iPhone

I think these larger iPhones are going to be very popular with Android users. And, it seems that Apple thinks they will be too. Don’t be surprised when you start seeing die-hard Android users waiting in line at the Apple Store.

Apple Pulls iOS 8 HealthKit Apps from the App Store

The Next Web received the following statement from Apple:

We discovered a bug that prevents us from making HealthKit apps available on iOS 8 today. We’re working quickly to have the bug fixed in a software update and have HealthKit apps available by the end of the month.

HealthKit is a major new feature in iOS 8. I hope they get this fixed before everyone relegates the Health app to the “Default” folder on their last home screen.

(Via Daring Fireball.)

Tim Cook on Apple’s Commitment to Privacy

There aren’t many companies that would publish this sort of letter to their users. It’s straightforward and easy to read — its written as if they hope every one of their customers reads it.

I especially like this bit:

Finally, I want to be absolutely clear that we have never worked with any government agency from any country to create a backdoor in any of our products or services. We have also never allowed access to our servers. And we never will.

A very simple line in the sand about user privacy. This is why I enjoy buying Apple products so much — I want companies that make commitments like this to be very successful.

Microsoft Announces ‘Windows 9’ Event

When was the last time that Microsoft announced a version of Windows that people were excited about? Longhorn in 2003-ish?