Futurology 01 ~ Solar storm, visiting asteroid, wet storage & more


Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko
Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko

Solar storm missed this teacup — On July 23, 2012, the sun unleashed two massive clouds of plasma that barely missed a catastrophic encounter with the Earth’s atmosphere. These plasma clouds, known as coronal mass ejections (CMEs), comprised a solar storm thought to be the most powerful in at least 150 years. “If it had hit, we would still be picking up the pieces,” physicist Daniel Baker of the University of Colorado tells NASA. Fortunately, the blast site of the CMEs was not directed at Earth. Had this event occurred a week earlier when the point of eruption was Earth-facing, a potentially disastrous outcome would have unfolded.
It probably would have caused widespread power blackouts, disabling everything that plugs into a wall socket.
~ We can achieve all that ourselves, of course, with wars.

Closer look at a visiting asteroid — Last week, as the Rosetta spacecraft came within 1400 kilometres of its destination comet, Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, which it’s supposed to land on! It sent back images of what appeared to be a whirling rubber ducky in space. Now, using the same data, researchers have created a 3D model of the object (above).
~ Good luck with that landing.

A Terabyte in a  tablespoon — Researchers from the University of Michigan and New York University demonstrated how plastic nanoparticles, deposited in a liquid, can form a one-bit cluster — and that’s the essential building block for information storage. It’s called “wet computing,” and the technique mimics other biological processes found in nature, like DNA in living cells.
~ Giving the phrase ‘data leak’ a whole new world of possibilities.

 

Gorgeous icons (look at the bin!)
Gorgeous icons (look at the bin!)

The future — I’m looking at it. Yeah, I have installed the Yosemite Beta on my MacBook Pro.

US Army to 3D print warheads — In its latest bid to kill more people, more efficiently, and at less cost, the army is planning to print warhead components, according to the latest issue of Army Technology. “3D printing of warheads will allow us to have better design control and utilize geometries and patterns that previously could not be produced or manufactured,” James Zunino, a researcher at the Armament Research, Engineering and Design Center said.
~ Doesn’t that just warm your heart?

Smart design means no glasses or contacts needed — Researchers at Berkeley, MIT, and Microsoft have developed a prototype that could one day make glasses or contacts obsolete — at least when you’re looking at your phone or computer.
~ But the frame remains the same. 

Australian students break international solar car record — The Sunswift solar car team from UNSW Australia broke an international world speed record for the fastest long-range electric vehicle, averaging a speed of 107kph over 500km from a single charge with their car, eVe.
~ Outlook for them: sunny.

 

French plastic house, 1969
French plastic house, 1969

Retro-futurist plastic homes — In the mid-twentieth century, back when colonising the solar system seemed imminent, people decided to save money by building homes out of plastic. You can see the results here. Some are mind-bogglingly awesome, and some are just mind-boggling.
~ How many still stand? But now our house interiors are most all plastic, anyway. 

Dinosaurs were really just big angry birds — A new study published in Science (abstract) suggests that most dinosaurs were covered with feathers. This conclusion was drawn after the discovery of fossils belonging to a 1.5-meter-long, two-legged dinosaur called Kulindadromeus zabaikalicus. The fossils greatly broaden the number of families of dinosaurs sporting feathers — downy, ribboned, and thin ones in this case — indicating that plumes evolved from the scales that covered earlier reptiles, probably as insulation.”
~ Why did the dinosaur cross the road? To get to the anachronism.

Review: Logitech Big Bang iPad cases


The Logitech Big Bang case for iPad mini on top of that for the Air
The Logitech Big Bang case for iPad mini on top of that for the Air

I like to look after my iPad and you probably do too. Logitech has recently released iPad cases that offer extra protection. They have a layer of shock-absorbant material, liquid-repellent outers, a shock-rim that protects the edges of your precious tablet and everything is designed for durability.

You might think this would add an appreciable thickness to your iPad and you’d be right, but with, in particular, the iPad mini and even the slimmer,lighter iPad Air, that’s not that much of an issue if you have a busy lifestyle, have kids who use the, or hey, you’re reporting from a  war zone. On their own, these cases are still pretty light compared to, say, leather and I’d say the trade-off is worth it because they exceed the’Military Drop Standard’. (Which military I’m not sure.) Compared to most rugged cases, the Big Bang seems slim, and the protective rim part comes in different colours whereas the main case is only in ‘forged graphite’. The protective rim part either provides access to buttons or has over-buttons (in the case of the volume). This is definitely the case I want for my great little iPad mini with Retina display – that thing goes everywhere.

Best of all, compared to the previous Folio case I was using, the case lets you prop your iPa into one of four angles which is way better for reading stuff at the table – much more flexible. Like the folio, shutting the case sleeps your iPad and opening it wakes it, which is handy.

Logitech impact-resistant, Big Bang protective iPad case, NZ prices TBA, more info at Logitech NZ.

Review: Logitech’s new x300 & an All Black Boom


x300 – surprisingly big sound and excellent portability
x300 – surprisingly big sound and truly excellent portability (click image for full-size)

A new offering from Logitech is this little rubber-encased, gold-grilled Bluetooth x300 speaker – that’s right, no wires except the one for charging it. The advertising says it has a rich and deep sound and I found that to be true – with a woofer at each end and two mid-range speakers across the front, this thing surprises with depth but also with volume. I could still hear it four rooms away, and it wasn’t even on full, and it wasn’t distorting. Yet it still fits easily in one hand. It seems rugged, too, with it’s rubbery case and large Bluetooth and volume up and down buttons (of course, once it’s paired by a simple process you can turn it up on your iPhone or iPad, too). With an iPad, gaming sound is really impressive. According to Logitech, it will play for five hours once fully charged. What’s great — Loud and deceptively deep What’s not — A little detail missing in the treble end (but who actually likes that?)

x300 is small but powerful and clear
x300 is small but powerful and clear

Mac-NZ’s advice — packs a surprising audio punch in a tiny, yet substantial-feeling package – that’s it. left, next to an iPhone 5. Not on the market yet, but when it is the Logitech x300 wireless Bluetooth speaker will be NZ$99.90 (also available in pink and blue)

abboom

AB Boom — Logitech’s big wireless UE (‘ultimate ears’) Boom speaker can wear different skins, and now there;’s one just for us: an All Black model.  The UE Boom is now available in several editions including Artist and even an All Black Special Edition (left) – it’s not that far off the length of a rugby ball, after all, and is actually slim enough to  fit in many water bottle holders. It puts out 360° of sound, and the Boom now supports ‘double-up’, letting you combine two for even bigger sound. (If you already have one, just update it.) It’s black – of course – with a fern design, and built big and rugged to suit any occasion. The AB version of the UE Boom costs the same as the others: NZ$299

Review: Logitech’s latest for iDevices


Logitech's excellent magnetic case concept has siblings
Logitech’s excellent magnetic case concept will soon have some differently-coloured siblings (the iPhone 5 in front is in a case+ too, but also has a green Moshie screen protector over the glass)

It’s nice to see Logitech expanding on its excellent magnetic iPhone case concept. I have written before about the excellent case+drive mounting system (NZ$99.90) which combines with an excellent case with a magnetic back so you can easily mount your iPhone in your car. You can get stick-on plates to apply to other iPhones (or, better, to stick on the backs of  cases for iPhones).
Now Logitech has released four new case+ in four different colours (black, pale blue, deep pink and white. Needless to say, I like ’em – they protect your iPhone more than usual thanks to that metal plate in the back, but better still, if you have the +drive mount installed (via suction) in your car, your colour-coordinated iPhone just clicks onto it’s round magnetic mount, and this is by far the best car mount system I have tried so far.
Logitech case [+] will be NZ$39.90 (coming soon)

Attach your iPhone magnetically to your car's air vent
Attach your iPhone magnetically to your car’s air vent instead of your windscreen

But some people don’t want to mount their iPhone to their windscreens. No worries – there’s a new mounter for you, called the +trip. This is designed to clip to most dashboard ventilation louvres, if that suits you better. This ships with two little stick on plates as before, for the back of your iPhone. One is black, the other silver, so your interior is probably covered, right?
— Logitech +trip, NZ$39.90

Stick a credit card wallet to the back of your case+
Now you can add a credit card wallet to the back of your magnetic case+

And there’s more – the +wallet let’s you clip a credit-card holder to the back of your existing case+. It’s a woven material case with a magnetising back, and it’s shielded so it won’t wipe your credit cards.

I imagine this would slip off in your pocket, but if you carry your iPhone in your bag … perfect.
Logitech +wallet is ‘coming soon’, and when it arrives: NZ$39.90

Credit cards clipped to your iPhone
Credit cards clipped to your iPhone

Five tip Friday! iOS can have more indicative switches, bolder type & you can forward messages as emails


You can add power on-off decals to iOS labels
Add power on-off decals (right) to iOS labels

1/ Add labels to your iOS toggles — Open the Settings app in iOS and Tap General, then Accessibility.
Scroll down to the option to ‘Turn on On/Off Labels’.
Swipe or tap the toggle to turn it on, with green indicating that the feature is enabled.
View another toggle to confirm the addition of the labels
iOS uses the standard power button label that is used on electronic devices: a circle represents the ‘on’ state and a line represents ‘off.’ Between the colour and the label, you should have minimal difficulty in determining whether an option is enabled or disabled in the settings. Besides its functional purpose, the added labels also look nifty in each switch icon.

2/ Change how Calendar events look in Notifications —  As part of iOS 7.1 Apple improved on the ability to view calendar events by adding a list view button in the Daily view. But if you toggle this to list view within the Calendar app, your calendar events within Notification Center also show as a list.

3/ It’s clunky, but you can forward messages as emails — Open the Messages app, then the thread with messages you’d like to forward.
Tap and hold a message until the Copy and More… buttons appear, and tap More.
A row of circles will appear on the left side of the screen, with each circle sitting next to an individual text or iMessage. Tap a circle to select a specific message, or tap them all to select the entire thread (there’s no Select All button).
Now tap the little curly arrow in the bottom corner of the screen, then type in an email address into the To  form at the top.
Tap Send.
The forwarded message will appear in the recipient’s email inbox as a plain-text email attachment.

4/ Don’t like iOS 7’s thin type? Now worries — If you’re having trouble reading text on your iPhone or iPad, just turn on Settings>General>Accessibility>Larger Text to increase the default font size on your device.
You can make that font size even larger in apps that support it by enabling Larger Accessibility Sizes.

5/ To makeHelvetica Neue to show up bolder — Visit Settings>General>Accessibility and enable the Bold Text slider. You will have to restart your iPhone when you enable Bold Text but it makes a noticeable difference.

Apple iPad share, Seinfeld Emoji & interesting apps


Matter adds shadows to objects for that 3D look
Matter adds shadows to objects for that 3D look

Apple holds on to top spot in tablet sales despite iPad decline — The tablet market remains Apple’s to lose, according to new data released Thursday, as the Cupertino company commanded almost 27 percent of tablet shipments in the second quarter of 2014 — nearly 10 percentage points more than rival Samsung, its closest competitor, but both have lost market share.

New Pixite 3D photo editing app Matter debuts on iPhone and iPad — A new photo editing app for iPhone and iPad called Matter allows you to embed and manipulate 3D objects in your photography or photos from others to give your photos an impressive science fiction effect. Matter intelligently applies shadows and reflections (main picture) that match your photography to its library of 3D objects.  It costs just NZ$2.59.

Modern Combat 5: Blackout arrives — TechHive has a good look at the mobile-friendly game.

Seinfeld Emojis — Now these emojis have been unleashed upon the world in all of their glorious wonder. You don’t even have to pay for them.

Truefilm is a capable photo editor for iOS with unique features — Truefilm (NZ$1.29) meets the requirements of a comprehensive suite of tools at a low price. The emphasis in this app is on making changes quickly and having a complete ability to go back and try things again.

Yosemite Public Beta, Safari seed, those MacBook stickers …


Apple 4K display concept
Apple 4K display concept

OS X Yosemite public beta arrives — On Thursday US time, fall came early for hundreds of thousands of Mac users as Apple released its first public beta of OS X Yosemite. The public-beta program, announced during Apple’s annual developer conference in June, is letting regular users download and test pre-release versions of OS X. Apple says the first million users to sign up at the OS X Beta Program website will be able to test Yosemite before the OS is released to the general public in the fall.
Users who signed up for the program are receiving redemption codes to enter in the Mac App Store, at which point a Yosemite installer app will download to their Macs. Once Yosemite is installed, future updates to the beta software will come automatically via the system’s standard Software Update functionality. For much more detail about the public beta and how to install it, check out TUAW’s OS X Yosemite public beta FAQ.
And Take Control already has a PDF book about it available! The suggested price of $5, but readers can pay whatever they think it’s worth.

Apple seeds Safari 7.1 and 6.2 beta 2 to developers — Earlier this month Apple seeded the first beta versions of Safari 7.1 (for Mavericks) and 6.2 (for Mountain Lion) to developers. Now a second beta has been published. Interestingly, aside from the focus areas outlined with the previous beta, Apple is also requesting developers take this beta for a spin try out the password and credit card auto-fill feature.

All 74 of the stickers in Apple’s new ad — Apple ran a TV ad showing just how amazing your MacBook Air can look with a little bit of vinyl applied. Every sticker you probably care about, all 74 of them, have been listed by TUAW.

Monotony review: super simple RSS reader for your Mac — With Google Reader gone, the RSS readers that have popped up in its stead — like Feedly, Shrook and Digg Reader — have strived to be fully featured replacements. Monotony (Mac App Store link, free) seems to revel in being quite the opposite, as the super simple app lets you subscribe to feeds and see updates only when your Mac is up and running. “There is nothing else,” the Mac App Store listing assures. “No sync, no frontend, no possibility to customise it.”

Bit Perfect
BitPerfect improves iTunes’ sound —
Tim Murrison’s BitPerfect 2.0.1 (Mac App Store link, NZ $12.99,) shows what iTunes music is capable of and is an audiophile’s dream. BitPerfect opens a world of clearer, more present sound that you never thought was possible from your Mac’s speakers.

Apple 4K display? When Apple made a big fuss over the ability of the Mac Pro to support three 4K displays, it signalled it could only be a matter of time before the company created its own. Apple has made no attempt to rush this, but now sources reckon Apple is close to finishing work on either a 4K Apple Thunderbolt Display, a 4K iMac or both. Hence this concept (main picture, above).

Apple on iOS ‘backdoor’, iPad browsing, Evernote, Fantastical, Pedometers


pedometer apps

Apple tech note illuminates purported ‘backdoor’ services — A couple days after a security researcher alleged that iOS contained “backdoor” access to user information, Apple has posted a knowledge base article explaining many of the systems that were under scrutiny.
In the article, Apple calls out three services: a packet capture tool called “pcapd,” one called “file_relay,” and a third dubbed “house_arrest.”

iPad browsing usage share sees gain — Chitika Insights is back with numbers showing just how much web browsing iPad users do compared to the those who use competing tablets to do their browsing. The company sampled “tens of millions of US and Canadian tablet-based online ad impressions” between July 1 and 7, 2014. iPads account for 78% of all tablet web traffic, with Amazon’s Kindle Fire coming in at second place with just … 7.3%!

Evernote adds private sharing link options and auto reminder alarms — Evernote has worked hard to build itself into a perfect document and note-taking service whether you’re a casual user or a business pro. It can already keep track of your recipes, contacts, or notes, scan your business cards, take pictures, record voice memos, and create to-do lists. Now it has new privacy and reminder options.

6 pedometer apps for iPhone — Smartphones have supplanted everything from compasses and Rolodexes to voice recorders and watches, we rely on them to do dozens of things. Add to that list “count my steps,” as newer smartphone models often double as fitness trackers. TUAW discusses about six pedometer apps (above picture from this article).

Fantastical 2.1 for iOS adds new snooze, search and notification features — Flexibits’ Fantastical 2.1 for iOS is available today with a host of new features, improvements and bug fixes. The calendar, reminders and to-dos app is a major hit with the TUAW team, so we’re always pleased to see an update to this fantastic app! Check out TUAW’s review of Fantastical 2.0 for iPhone.

Yosemite Beta imminent, Apple’s earnings, Swift, Dreamweaver


Yosemite OS 10.10 Beta
The Yosemite OS 10.10 Beta is shortly going out to 1 million volunteers

OS X Yosemite public beta arrives Thursday — On Thursday, hundreds of thousands of Mac users (including me) will get to install the beta of Yosemite as Apple releases its first public beta of OS X Yosemite. The public-beta program, announced during Apple’s annual developer conference in June, lets regular users download and test pre-release versions of OS X.
The first million users to sign up at the OS X Beta Program website will be able to test Yosemite before the OS is released to the general public in the fall. This makes Apple ‘more open than ever‘, reckons Macworld, and if you signed up for the beta in the first million, here’s what you need to know. (Image, above, from Apple’s Apple Seed page)

Apple's latest earnings
Apple’s latest earnings

Apple’s latest earnings — Tim Cook: “It’s been a very busy and exciting time at Apple, and I’d like to review some of the highlights of our June quarter. We hosted our best-ever Worldwide Developers Conference last month, with over 20 million people from around the world watching our keynote session, which is a new record. We’ve had overwhelming response from customers and developers to the new features we previewed in OS X Yosemite and iOS 8…” Actually, while profits are up, sales have been a bit soft, but Apple’s R&D spending spiked to US$425M last quarter, reaching record US$1.6B. Wall Street called it ‘uneventful‘. (Image from NASDAQ.)

A Swift one — Apple Inc’s new Swift language a “huge leap forward for iOS ecosystem,” offers “enormous opportunity” with IBM in enterprise. Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook told analysts that the company’s new Swift programming language is “a huge leap forward for the iOS ecosystem” and an important contributing factor to the company’s new partnership with IBM targeting enterprise app development.

Dreamweaver CC 2014 review: web design and development tool gets even more visual — The newest version of Dreamweaver CC takes important steps to becoming a WYSIWYG Web editor that lets you rely on its visual canvas so you don’t have to deal with the actual code.

Yukari Iwatani Kane on her book Haunted Empire: Apple without Steve Jobs


 

Yukari Iwatani Kane felt the wrath of Apple commentators and Tim Cook when her book came out
Yukari Iwatani Kane felt the wrath of Apple commentators and Tim Cook when her book came out

This interview appeared on the Herald in my Apple Watch blog, but it had to be edited to fit. The full version appears here – it has more depth and detail about Apple, near the end. 

• Tim Cook, in a release to CNBC, described Haunted Empire: Apple after Steve Jobs (NZ$17.99) partly: “This nonsense belongs with some of the other books I have read about Apple. It fails to capture Apple, Steve, or anyone else in the company.”
 My reading of the book doesn’t support this view. It wasn’t a biography of Jobs anyway, yet it does present an insight into a secretive company that’s almost impossible to get any information about, despite the extent to which it is watched. Would you care to comment?

HauntedEmpireYukari Iwatani Kane — Apple doesn’t normally comment on individual books, so I think I clearly hit a nerve. The comment also came out in the early afternoon of the first day of sales, so it did make me wonder if he had actually read the book. If he did, I’m flattered that he thought it important enough to spend his work day reading it. :-0

• Were you disappointed with the backlash to your book from Apple commentators, or were you expecting it?

Yukari Iwatani Kane —Whenever anyone writes about Apple, emotions always run high. I’m very happy with where I’ve come out in my book. It wasn’t meant to be a pro-Apple book or an anti-Apple book. It’s rational assessment of Apple’s position, based on my reporting of nearly 200 sources all over the world, looking at the issues from every angle possible.

It seems to me Apple commentators had issues with your conclusions rather than with the main text of the book. Personally I found Haunted Empire richly-detailed and insightful. But I think it’s because commentators – including myself – have a kind of emotional buy-in to Apple and it’s really easy for us to feel defensive. We feel like we need to defend Apple all the time, at least those of us with longer associations, as we go back to when Apple was an outsider that seems to be assailed from all sides. What’s your own position within this spectrum?

Yukari Iwatani Kane — That’s a very insightful thought. You may be right – I’m in Japan right now promoting the book, and the Apple fans here have been very frank about their assessment of the book. They basically say what you say — that my book rings true to what they think as well, but it was very difficult for them to hear my conclusion and that they still cling to the hope that Apple will continue to be as great as it has been.

I personally am a user of Apple products, but as a journalist, I’m really not pro-Apple or anti-Apple. I saw Apple as a case study, and emotions really didn’t factor into my reporting. I should mention however that when I started writing this book, I didn’t know what my conclusion was going to be because I started working on it shortly after Steve died, and I didn’t know what was going to happen. I understood how challenging it was for any hugely successful corporation to lose a founder-visionary, but I thought that if any company could get through it without missing a beat, it would be Apple. It was all of my reporting that led me to my conclusion, not the other way around.

What do you think drives Apple’s fandom? I can’t think of any other brand that has anything like it on such a scale.

Yukari Iwatani Kane —I can’t think of any other brand that has anything like it either. It’s a huge source of strength and power for Apple. No one can begrudge them that. They’ve cultivated this over the years.

I do think though that there is a bit of a danger in the company focusing too much on the Apple fans. Apple’s business caters to a mass market now, so not every user is an avid Apple fan. Yet, whenever Apple announces a new product or an ad or holds an event, the loudest, the most enthusiastic voices come from the fans. That’s terrific for Apple, but If they use that as a barometer for what everyone thinks, I do think they will get a wrong read sometimes on how something is being received. When I say this, one example I’m thinking of is some of Apple’s recent ads. The fans love them, but average consumers aren’t impressed.

• You obviously have a huge depth of knowledge about your subject – I was particularly fascinated with the information about the factories in Asia. I haven’t read such a personal exploration before. I found it moving to get an insight into those lives. How did gathering this information this affect you?

Yukari Iwatani Kane — Thank you so much! Those sections took a lot of time and work, so it’s very gratifying to hear you say that.
I found the situation in China to be extraordinarily complicated. What I learned about conditions there was sad, but what I wanted to convey was much more complicated — I do think that Apple has a unique opportunity to set an industry leading standard in its relationship with the suppliers, and obviously the factory worker is the one who bears the brunt of the pressures from Apple when it negotiates lower prices, but the company is a for-profit entity, not a charity. I understand why things that have happened have happened. I also think many of the problems in China are beyond Apple’s ability to fix them (though it is Apple’s reality regardless). As the sociology professor in Beijing, Ma Ai, told me, China is going through an industrial revolution.

As part of Apple’s story, I thought all of it was relevant because it’s something that they don’t have much control over, yet they are being blamed for much of it and pressured to fix it so it’s very much a challenge.

• 
Was there any official reaction to your book from Apple?

Yukari Iwatani Kane — Just the Tim Cook comment

Unofficial?

Yukari Iwatani Kane — Nothing unofficial from Apple, but I’ve gotten a lot of feedback from people who have worked at Apple and with Apple, telling me how much they loved the book.

• Seasoned Apple fans seem quite happy with Apple’s pace of releases, whereas the newer audiences engendered by the launches of iPhone and then iPad plus those who follow the money markets constantly berate Apple for not releasing new products. What’s your opinion on this? (Is Apple bound to release new items to maintain its growth and position?)

Yukari Iwatani Kane — It seems understandable that true fans will be mostly happy with Apple whatever they do, since that’s the definition of being a fan. For me, I look at Apple as a business case study about what happens when a company loses its visionary-founder at the height of its success. So the fact that they haven’t released anything isn’t interesting in and of itself. What’s interesting is the reasons and dynamics behind it.

In some ways, it’s irrelevant why some people are happy and some aren’t because it’s Apple’s reality that it has to deal with all of them. Part of what makes Apple’s position so challenging is that there are so many interested parties now with different opinions about where Apple should go and what it should do. They include shareholders, board members, the executive team, employees, media, developers, suppliers, Apple fans, and the mass market consumer. In the past, Steve had such a firm control over the company AND he was so persuasive that all of those people were willing to buy into what Steve wanted to do because there was no question that Apple was Steve’s company.

More generally, the whole concept of ‘empire’ these days is predicated on growth. Do you think it’s possible in this day and age for an empire to simply maintain its position?

Yukari Iwatani Kane — I think an empire can evolve. Apple’s moves of the last few months are interesting because you see Tim Cook’s rational and operational mind at work. The great thing about Apple when Steve was around was that there was so much innovation. But the bad thing was that there was also a lot of chaos. There are probably a lot of things that Apple can do to maximize on sales and profits, and that would be an area that Tim would excel in. Like the IBM announcement – Steve never cared for B2B but that doesn’t mean it’s not a business opportunity. Of course, this probably means that Apple will start looking more and more like Microsoft. But maybe that’s not a bad thing.

I don’t think it’s possible for any company to keep growing and innovating forever because at some point, the company gets too big to maneuver nimbly. In Apple’s case, Tim Cook can never be Steve Jobs no matter how hard he tries, so he might as well try to be the best Tim Cook he can be, which is what I think is starting to happen.

Apple may not be the magical, game-changing company it has been in the past, but it could be a very successful company that can reliably churn out revenues and profits.

Did you ever meet Steve Jobs yourself? (To me, apart from his brilliance and vision, I imagined he’d be the last guy in the world I’d have ever wanted to work with)

Yukari Iwatani Kane — Yes. It was a bit of a strange meeting because I started covering Apple for WSJ when he was sick, so he wasn’t available to the media for a long time. I didn’t meet him in person until shortly after the iPad announcement during an editorial meeting with the WSJ, which was also after I broke the story about his liver transplant.

I went up to him after the meeting to introduce myself, and he looked at me for a very brief moment before he said, “I know who you are.” But we ended up having a pleasant conversation about Sony, which I used to write about when I was a correspondent in Tokyo.

What about Tim Cook? Have you met him?

Yukari Iwatani Kane — Yes, he is a very pleasant person to speak with. I respect him


It seemed to me Jobs could reverse course almost completely without losing much face. For example, the 1984 ad painted IBM as the enemy, and then IBM was making the PowerPC chips. Microsoft was first an ally, then an enemy, then Gates was on stage with Jobs to ‘save’ the Mac. Even the switch to Intel scared Apple followers. Do you think Tim Cook has the strength of character to make changes this radical within Apple?

Yukari Iwatani Kane — I don’t think it’s an issue of strength of character. I think it’s the difference of someone who is a founder and someone who isn’t. Just think about the dynamics around the fact that Apple’s board used to report to Steve, but Tim reports to the board. John Sculley told me that when he took over in the ’80s, he felt like he was subject to more questions about decisions than Steve had been, and I’m sure that’s true because he didn’t have the moral authority that Steve did. Tim is in the same boat.

Add to that, Steve’s supernatural ability to inspire and persuade – people trusted his vision even if it sometimes led to failure because he was so convincing. It’s what people refer to as the reality distortion field, and it’s not something you can pass on. You either have it or you don’t. Tim doesn’t have it. The ramifications of that are deep because it’s not just about convincing the consumers, it’s about convincing employees, the board, shareholders, suppliers, developers, media and everyone else, who is emotionally or financially invested.

My feeling about Apple under Cook is that it’s somehow ‘nicer’. What’s your feeling?

Yukari Iwatani Kane — I respect him tremendously. My portrayal of Tim is based on interviews with probably two dozen people who have worked with him directly. I think who he is helped make Apple’s operations possibly the best in the world. But obviously you can’t expect someone who accomplished that to be cuddly.

People are multi-dimensional and full of conflicting personality traits. Tim is smart and he’s tough and disciplined, but he’s also a good son who calls his mother every week and he sincerely cares about people and wants to do good. That’s what makes him so fascinating because he’s in a job that requires him to be as tough as nails to excel, and he is, but he deeply admires Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr, which suggests an emotional depth that he doesn’t share with anyone.

Where do you think Apple will be in two years?

Yukari Iwatani Kane — I think Apple will continue to be very successful from a sales and profit standpoint, but the sense that it has lost its innovative edge will continue. How Apple executes in the next couple of years, especially with respect to new product categories, will be crucial for determining where Apple will be in five, ten, fifteen years.

[• I stand by my fascination with this book – it’s an excellent read • ]

iTunes Festival yours to watch, and more iOS news


The Flir case makes an iPhone into a thermal imaging camera
The Flir case makes an iPhone into a thermal imaging camera

iTunes Festival live in London, watch free in NZ on Apple TV — Apple’s official page is up, so you can see the lineup.

Apple’s iPad reaches 78% North American tablet share as Amazon’s Kindle Fire passes Samsung, Google — iPad is still making gains in North American tablet web usage, reaching a 78% share in Apple’s “first quarter-over-quarter usage share gain since June 2013,” notes a new report by Chitika.

Apple gets patent on iTime smart watch — The US Patent and Trademark Office served up further evidence on Tuesday that Apple is designing a smartwatch when it awarded the company a patent for a wrist-worn gadget with a touchscreen and ability to communicate with a smartphone.
“The invention pertains to an electronic wristwatch,” wrote Apple in the filing for US Patent 8,787,006, which was submitted in July 2011 but made public on Tuesday.

Apple responds to troubling allegations of iOS ‘backdoor’ — Information security has never been a more sensitive subject than it is these days, so it’s little surprise that allegations from a security researcher that iOS contains a ‘backdoor’ permitting access to users’ information provoked a strong response from Apple. Apple Insider’s take is here.

Samsung releases yet another anti-iPhone ad dubbed Screen Envy — Well, you gotta hand it to Samsung – the company sure is persistent. Earlier today the number one purveyor of Android handsets released yet another anti-iPhone ad. As the title implies, the commercial puts down the iPhone for having a much smaller screen than the flagship Galaxy S5 which boasts a 5.1-inch display.

RollWorld lets you create your own little planet on iOS — You may have seen photos with the ‘little’ or ‘tiny’ planet effect. There are quite a few iOS apps that will render this effect for you, but most have a cost associated with them while RollWorld is free and works quite well.

Flir One case turns Apple’s iPhone into a high-end thermal imaging camera — Thermal imaging company Flir has announced that pre-orders for its new One iPhone case (pictured above) which will let outdoorsmen, HVAC contractors, and people who simply like to see how hot things are convert their iPhone 5 or 5s into a thermal camera — will begin Wednesday, with the device coming to Apple retail stores in August.

AMC debuts trailer for The Walking Dead: No Man’s Land mobile game arriving for season 5 — AMC announced today that it will release a new mobile game for The Walking Dead early next year alongside season 5 of the hit TV show. The TV network is teaming up with Next Games to develop the title and today shared the first trailer for the game that it plans to show off at Comic Con International later this month.

Alive Inside film explores power of music to restore memory — Audiences first encounter Henry hunched over in his wheelchair, head down, hands clasped firmly together, unresponsive to the world around him. But headphones with music playing make a huge difference. The film shows how iPods can make a huge difference toAlzheimer’s patients.

Stickers bring MacBook Airs to life, faster Haswells, EFI, more


A frame from Apple's latest 30-second MacBook Air ad
A frame from Apple’s latest 30-second MacBook Air ad

New Apple ad shows off sticker-clad MacBook Airs — The ad calls the Air ‘the notebook people love’: Apple has published a short 30-second commercial featuring a number of MacBook Airs dressed up in stickers and decals, with each customised thin-and-light reflecting the personality of its owner. You can watch it at Apple Insider.

Intel rolls out faster Haswell CPUs possibly bound for MacBook Pro refresh — Intel on Sunday released a batch of new Core i5 and Core i7 Haswell processors for high-end laptops like Apple’s MacBook Pro, each boasting the usual speed bumps when compared to prior versions.

Apple issues MacBook Air EFI update to address wake from sleep problems on mid-2011 models — Apple on Monday posted an EFI update for its thin-and-light MacBook Air, addressing two wake from sleep issues including a rare problem that causes the computer’s fans to spin at full speed unnecessarily. Apple’s MacBook Air EFI firmware update 2.9 targets problems seen on mid-2011 models running OS X 10.9.2 and later.

 

Yosemite's redesigned Calculator
Yosemite’s redesigned Calculator

OS X Yosemite Preview 4 brings redesigned Calculator, updated Dark Mode — Alongside a host of bug fixes, the latest developer preview of Apple’s next-generation desktop operating system brought a few small but noticeable visual tweaks to some of OS X’s oldest components, including a redesigned Calculator.

Apple releases iTunes 12 beta with ‘elegant new design,’ Family Sharing — Alongside new beta versions of iOS 8, OS X Yosemite and numerous development tools, Apple on Monday released a preview of iTunes 12 sporting what the company calls an “elegant new design” and support for the Family Sharing feature introduced at WWDC.

Marked 2.3 arrives in the Mac App Store — Marked 2 has finally hit the Mac App Store. Previously only available via developer Brett Terpstra’s website, the update has now officially replaced the original Marked in the Store. Version 2.3 introduces a number of new features to the preview app for markup languages.

iPad working, iOS 8 beta, iTunes Festival


Apple iPad
Apple CEO Tim Cook reckons he works mostly on his iPad

How much of your job can you really do on an iPad? — Tim Cook recently said that he performs 80% of his work on an iPad—and he thinks everyone should do the same. But is that really realistic? Macworld staff find the answer depends, of course, on the kind of work you do. Perhaps Cook spends his entire day working in email and a browser. If that’s the case, the iPad could be entirely adequate … [Picture, above, from Apple’s iPad page.]

iOS 8 beta 4 includes new Tips app with quick feature tutorials — iOS 8 beta 4 brings a new app to the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch called Tips. The application, as the name implies, provides quick tips and tutorials about iOS features [yay!]. The app will be updated on a regular basis with new ways to use iOS device features. Apple has also launched a Tips website (in beta) so these tutorials can be accessed from a Mac web browser. You can find a full gallery of the current implementation of Tips

iTunes Festival app updated for London 2014, brings new design — This morning, Apple announced a new iTunes Festival for the United Kingdom featuring over sixty bands, for September. The iTunes Festival app has now been updated to relay this information and exhibits the design style and iconography for the 2014 show.

And if you’re heading to London — PackPoint handy packing checklist app is now available on iOS. There’s nothing worse than arriving at your hotel for a trip, unpacking and then realising you’ve forgotten something vital – like your MacBook power supply! Packing checklists offer a good solution, but what you need for a business trip in the winter will be very different to what you need for a holiday in the summer.

Journalist picks up Galaxy S5, discovers it is, indeed, larger than the iPhone 5 — In a shocking turn of events that is sure to send ripples through the technology world for years to come, Business Insider’s Jim Edwards has confirmed that, as has long been rumored, there are smartphones out there with displays larger than that of the iPhone 5. [Yes, this is sarcastic.]

Quick and easy fix for Lightning port charging problems — Kelly Hodgkins for TUAW writes “Are you experiencing problems charging your iPhone or iPad using your Lightning cable? Before you toss away your cable or bring your phone into Apple for repair, you should take a moment and try this quick and easy fix that works for many people.”

Apple Mac, iPhone & iPad news for New Zealanders

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