Some Thoughts On The New MacBook Pro

Apple just released new MacBook Pro's last week and of course there is some controversy over them. Apple redesigned the MacBook Pro and with that to no surprise the machine became thinner and lighter, which I am always for as long as there are no major trade offs. I want to make my bag weigh almost nothing. Following Apple's trend lines with a redesign also comes with the ports getting a overhaul. On the previous version there was MagSafe, two USB-A 3.0, two Thunderbolt 2, 3.5mm headphone jack, HDMI, and SD card reader. The new one has just 4 Thunderbolt 3 ports and 3.5mm headphone jack. So with that comes dongles and a lot of people aren't happy about that. 

I see what Apple is trying to do. They aren't making a computer for today, the computer they are making is for tomorrow. For the most part I am on board with that, I like the idea of having four thunderbolt 3 ports and being able to use those for anything at anytime. The part I am having a problem with is the lack of an SD card reader. Phil Schiller did and interview with the Independent where he talked about the new MacBook Pro and the lack of an SD card reader.    

The Independent:
"The new Pros have no SD card slot for a camera memory card. Why not?"

Schiller:
"Because of a couple of things. One, it’s a bit of a cumbersome slot. You’ve got this thing sticking halfway out. Then there are very fine and fast USB card readers, and then you can use CompactFlash as well as SD. So we could never really resolve this – we picked SD because more consumer cameras have SD but you can only pick one. So, that was a bit of a trade-off. And then more and more cameras are starting to build wireless transfer into the camera. That’s proving very useful. So we think there’s a path forward where you can use a physical adaptor if you want, or do wireless transfer."

I'm not on board with this reason. When you have a computer with the word "Pro" in it that machine must be flexible to what the Pro needs to do. Any pro videographer and photographer uses that slot daily and I understand that there are many other kind of Professional's but this is such an important tool. I get the point that this machine is meant to adapt to what the situation calls for and thunderbolt 3 is the way to do that. But the SD card is not a standard thats going away anytime soon.  

I have a 2014 MacBook Pro thats still holding up strong so I will probably wait tell the next model to upgrade. So I am going to stick it out but I don't have any hope that the SD card reader will ever come back, and I can live with that. 

The Case For A Independent Apple Watch

A couple weeks ago I took my iPhone to the Apple Store to have the screen fixed. When I dropped my phone off they mentioned it would be and around a hour and half, no big deal. My local Apple Store is the in a mall, so I figured I would walk around, get a bite to eat, and buy some pants. When I left the Apple store I went to send a text message from my watch forgetting that I had just dropped off my phone and my watch wasn't paired anymore. I was surprised for a second when I couldn't send my message, then I remembered I didn’t have my phone on me. Again no big deal it could wait. I moved on with my day, and went to check the 2Do app on my watch, again forgetting I didn’t have my phone on me, and I couldn’t get what I need to.

For the last couple months we have been hearing rumors about Apple doing a fully independent Apple Watch. Some thought that might ship with the new version this fall, but it alas that didn’t come to pass. After having the experience I had I can see why a cellular Apple Watch would be ideal. Especially if Apple makes a deal like Amazon did for there cellular Kindles, that sit on slower networks but come at no monthly cost for there customers.

Our cell phones are always connected but for most people that is the only device that is always connected. I believe in the two is one method, if you only have one of something then you have none, if you have two then you only have one. So only having one device always connected doesn’t work for that. An always connected watch would allow me to make calls, send messages, get directions, listen to podcast when I don’t have my phone available.

With a always connected Apple Watch certain interactions like Siri wouldn't have to rely on the phone and could speed up the processing time making it far more useful to the average user. Also with the combination of the GPS that is in Apple Watch Series 2 having fully independent location aware task would be an option. Being able to come home and a watch face switch to the one you use at home, or when you leave have the face switch to your day face.

Having that always connected device has been amazing for smart phone, but whats beyond that? I think it is wearables and AR, the combination of those would open up whole new options for interactions with technology.

Weekly Roundup 9/11 - 9/16

I'm going to be trying something new with the site. Since I have a day job that takes up most of my time I am going to write weekly roundups of things going on in the tech world. I would love to hear what you think.

This Weeks Tech News

This week we had the major release of iOS 10, watchOS 3, and tvOS.

iOS 10

iOS 10 isn't a bigger update it is a deeper update. It really works to refine what Apple has done in iOS 7 - 9. I could try and list all the features, but Federico Viticci did an amazing review at Macstories, so go check that out for all of the whats new.

watchOS 3

In my opinion watchOS 3 is the big update out of everything that was released today. This OS feels like what the watch always meant to be. Everything seems more fluid and is substantially faster. iMore did an awesome write up on everything new in watchOS 3.

tvOS

I was a little disappointed today with the release of tvOS, the feature I was looking forward to most, single sign on, was delayed until later this fall. While that was a bummer once I saw the newley minted dark mode I was very happy. I think tvOS dark mode should be the default and come to the rest of Apple's platforms. Macstories did another awesome write up on tvOS.

Why I'm (Probably) Not Upgrading To The iPhone 7

Thursday night I was watching the clock move closer and closer to 12:01 AM Friday morning, I had every intention in preordering and iPhone 7 Plus (Yep I'm going back to the plus club after I just left, but you saw that camera). To make a long story short, I had problems getting into the store, and then when I finally did the handoff between Apple and AT&T wasn't working for me. I got frustrated and decide to go to bed, the wait times were already in November for the Jet Black Plus. I woke up that morning, grabbed my iPhone and went through the checkout process, this time the hand off worked, got all the way to the end and thought do I really need this.

I usually upgrade iPhone's every year, I love technology and I loveApple so why wouldn't I. But this time I really thought about it. My iPhone 6s is a great phone, amazing camera, super fast, though it could use a better battery. Nobody was going to come by and take my phone away, or some how make it worse. It will still be a great phone a year from now.

I am going to try something new for me, I'm not going to preorder this iPhone. I'm going to wait to see what everyone says about it, and if it really is that much better maybe I will go get one when the supply is better. But I usually have this feeling of I have to have the latest technology or I will be left out, and I think this is the first time I am fine just waiting.

iOS 10 Tip

The new control center is great, If you 3D touch on one of the application icons it allows for some quick actions. I have found these really handy in the betas. The unfortunate part is you have to have a devices with 3D touch, so only the iPhone 6s and iPhone 7, no iPad support as of right now.

App Of The Week

One of my favorite and most used app of all time Overcast which is an amazing podcast player is my pick of the week. What separates this podcast players from other is it features. The major feature with this app is Smart Speed, this will speed up the spots where no one is talking allowing you to go through the show much faster. I have saved 86 hours using this feature. Voice Boost will go through and make the voices louder without sacrificing quality, which works well for podcast that are using proper microphones or if you are using the iPhones built in speaker. Another great feature is the ability to create custom playlist, I have one playlist that takes all of my show and puts them oldest to newest and just keeps playing, this is great for long drives. The design of this app is very beautiful and with the addition of dark mode recently the app has never looked better. There is also a file upload button available to supports of the application that makes it easy to upload audio books or any other form of audio you want to listen to. I cant recommend this app enough for podcast listening.

Hardware Recommendation

With the release of the iPhone 7, Apple removed the headphone jack to make room for some new features including a bigger battery and force touch home button. So with that in mind I thought I would talk about some Bluetooth headphones. I use the Mpow Swift bluetooth headphones I originally got them for running, but that only lasted two days. I am happy to report the headphones have lasted longer then my running, and I am quite happy with them. The quietly is definitely not the same level as good wired headphones but for podcasts they work great. The battery also last me all day and I have never had a problem dying on me, except the one time I forgot to charge them. Another pair I have seen being talked about are ARCTIC Bluetooth stereo headphones I have not tried these, but have heard some great things about them. I will probably order a pair in the future as I like the over ear style better. I know a lot of people have been down on the idea of just having bluetooth headphones and I have to say they have always worked out very well for me, but maybe thats just cause I'm a bluetooth unicorn.

Home Screen Of The Week

I wrote about my my home screen back in June so you can read about it there. If you like this sort of thing please email me a screenshot of your iPhone or iPad home screen and what makes it work for you at christopherlawley0@gmail.com and I would love to feature yours.

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A Few Thoughts On The Removal Of The Headphone Jack

The 3.5mm headphone jack is based on a piece of technology thats over 100 years old. In that time technology has made leaps and bounds forwards. So why should we keep this ancient piece of technology around?

The headphone jack has one purpose and that is to play audio. And I understand company's like Square were using it for other things but those are hacks, and are not meant for what that port is for. So why in 2016 should we keep around something has has only one purpose, thus taking up space and not allowing us to allocate that space to new technology. People have been complaining for years that the iPhones battery doesn't last long enough, well thanks to the removal of the headphone jack now the battery last longer.

Taking jumps is the only true way to move technology forward and evolve as a civilization. We as a species could crawl if we wish, but I think we would be stuck back in the bronze age. It's company's like Apple that understand this and are pushing towards a better future.

They did not remove this port to make people mad, they did it so that other company will get on board making wireless audio truly better. Now I have not tried Apples Airpods but from what I can see of demo they do work as Apple says, that is a jump forward. And if you truly don't like it then buy an Android phone or an iPod, I think Apple still sales those.

I am going to take a quick sidebar to also mention a lot of news outlets have been quick to bash Apple because its easy page clicks for them. What they forgot to mention is that in the box there are a new pair of Earpods that connect to the lightening port and and adapter in the box to go from lightening to 3.5mm headphone jack.

The iPad and Mac Refresh

Bloomberg put out an article talking about the release of new iPad software, hardware, and Mac hardware.

I found this really interesting that Apple will move to a flip-flop cycle of iPhone software features and then iPad software features. Plus deeper support for the Apple Pencil is really interesting to me. The whole reason I bought one was for annotations and navigation so more of that sounds great. Bloomberg also talked about having an iPad with a faster display. I think this will play a long the line of more Pencil support for the iPad.

They also mentions the Mac and that there will be new MacBook Pros, MacBook Airs, and iMacs. The MacBook Pros and iMacs don't surprise me at all, but refreshing the MacBook Air does, that seemed like a product at the end of it's days. Also no mention of the Mac Pro or the Mac Mini the two computer that haven't been refreshed in over two year. That doesn't mean there wont be new ones but if there isn't new Mac Pro's soon Apple may have riot in the streets from the professional community.

Apple Event Predictions For Sept. 7th

Apple announced a keynote for September 7th today. It is quite obvious that it will be in regards to then new iPhone and maybe a few other products. I put together a list of all my event predictions.

  • The plus model will have duel camera system.
  • The new iPhone will come in a blue model.
  • No headphone jack. (time to accept this one people and welcome or new Bluetooth overlords)
  • Apple Watch 2 will be announced but will ship later this year.
  • The new iPhone will start at a 32 GB model. (Finally)
  • No physical home button. (there will be a dedicated force touch area for these interactions where the home button was)
  • I will not be called the iPhone 7. My guess is iPhone 6 SE and iPhone 6 SE Plus.
  • And finally I hate to say this one because it needs to happen soon, but no new Macs.

Swift Playgrounds Is The Biggest Annoucement From WWDC

On Monday Apple had their annual WWDC Keynote at the Bill Graham center. In my opinion Swift Playgrounds is the biggest piece of news to come out of it. I will be honest I was hoping for something a little more like Xcode to be announced for iPad, but this is so big that it is at least a couple years out. But what we got might be better.

The first part of Swift Playgrounds is really geared towards the younger audience for people that want to want to lean how to program. They have great detailed animated lessens for people to interact with and really learn what the functions of Swift are. I am really impressed and as somebody that is teaching them self how to code I can't wait to try it.

They also have full playground projects like the one you would find in Xcode. But Apple has gone in and reworked the whole thing to work better with touch. In the State of the Union yesterday the developer showing the demo never launched the keyboard and just used quick type suggestions. But there is a keyboard for those that want to get their hands dirty. It has been designed with coding in mine. So common special characters in coding are on the letter keys and just require a long press to select them.

I am so impressed with this and will be installing the beta on one of my iPads to try it out.

Homescreen Setup

This will probably be the most pointless piece I ever write but I have been thinking about this a lot. I recently went back and listened again to [Cortex](https://www.relay.fm/cortex) a podcast on the [Relay.fm network](relay.fm). In the first episode CGP Grey talks to Myke Hurley about having only one page of apps and the importance of placement of the apps. I have had all of my apps on one page for the last year but never had a good reason for why this worked or really thought much about it.

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WWDC = \(newSoftware)

With less then two weeks left before Apples annual WWDC the rumor mill is a buzz with what we might see. The big rumors going around are a complete refresh for the MacBook Pro and a new 5K Display with a builtin GPU. While these are rumors are very strong and I firmly believe Apple will release these products, it won't be at WWDC.

WWDC is not a normal Apple product keynote. An average audience at an Apple keynote is full of journalist, but WWDC is the developer conference. This keynote will be geared towards software and developers. New OS for all the platforms, new API's for developers to use, a look at Swift 3 are all to be expected at this keynote. As a new iOS developer I will be happy with any of those. Most likely the big product keynote will be in September with the iPhone announcement.

Post-Mobile Era

Technology has always been an evolving landscape, moving fast and never waiting for anyone to catch up. In 2007 Steve Jobs popularized the phase "Post-PC era" and we are living in that world now. The computer most people use are not the computers sitting on their desk but the devices that are in everyones pockets. The smart phone kicked off this Post-PC era and now it's time to look at what comes after the Post-Mobile era. 

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Apple Software Update Day 5/16/16

Today Apple released OS updates for all of their platforms, though it is all minor updates it is always a good idea to stay up to date. Released today was OS X 10.11.5, iOS 9.3.2, watchOS 2.2.1, and Apple TV. The one notable change is now night shift works while in low power mode. Other then that there is nothing crazy in these updates mostly security updates and bug fixes. With new major OS release on the horizon there is nothing shocking in this.

Also Apple released a new version of iTunes that is suppose to help with the non reproducible iTunes bug that deletes users music. I still think this is user error and not an iTunes bug though.

Happy Updating!

Apple Music Gets A Revamp

According to Bloomberg Apple Music will be getting a major revamp and 9 to 5 Mac who has a great track recorded says the app is due a for a full overhaul. Apple is suppose to be focusing on features like lyrics, black and white design, and artwork. I will wait to pass judgment until I see it, but this is great news for those of us that stuck with Apple Music after the three month trial.

To be honest I am not a big fan of any one streaming service, I find all of the layouts very cumbersome. I don't ever use Apple Music Connect or Radio, though I doubt they will drop those feature I wouldn't mind being able to hide the features I don't use. So if Apple does makes a solid UI in the app I will be very excited. Right now I mostly use Apple Music with Siri, and that for me is the biggest compelling feature to keep Apple Music around. Reports say we will see something come June at WWDC.

PRO Tip: If you go into the restriction in the settings app and turn off Apple Music Connect it will be replaced by the far more useful playlist button.

Review: Woven Nylon Band For The Apple Watch

I got the new Woven Nylon band for my Apple Watch a couple of weeks ago. I wasn't to sure about it at first, the product shots on Apples website didn't look that great. I have been on the look out for a more comfortable band recently. The Sport band is nice but it doesn't breath very well. I'm not somebody that has worn a lot of watches in my life so I don't have a particular style I care for. 

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