Peter Kafka on Why Apple Walked Away From TV →

December 10, 2015 · 09:40

Peter Kafka:

Industry executives say Apple has spent much of 2015 pushing for a “skinny” bundle of TV channels — limited to perhaps a dozen core networks — delivered over the Web, which would retail for no more than $30.
So while the price of the individual channels that Apple wants to package has been an issue, it’s the composition of the package itself — which channels go in, and which don’t make the cut — that is just as important to both Apple and the programmers, according to sources.

If Apple gets its way, it means the traditional pay TV package, which averages around 100 channels, will get shrunk by nearly 80 percent. And while TV executives will say that they understand that consumers don’t want to pay for channels they don’t watch, all of them will argue that their channels are must-haves.

Emphasis mine, which ultimately highlights the problem.

My wife and I have been cable/satellite free for over three years now, relying only on our Apple TV and PS4 to watch movies or TV shows. Basically what we want is either individual apps for the channels we are willing to watch1 or a subscription for a package, but it was to be worthwhile and not bunch of crap we won’t ever turn on.

  1. We’ll pay for them individually if need be.

Lauren Juliff’s Summary of This Year’s Travels →

December 10, 2015 · 09:26

Lauren Juliff:

Over the past 12 months, I travelled across eighteen countries; seven of them new. I spent time in 62 cities and slept in 35 beds. I took 15 flights and travelled 24,613 miles. I spent $20,417.83.

You could say it’s been the best year of my life; I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have received so many amazing opportunities. I wrote a book! It sold out its first print run in three months! The vast majority of the reviews have been positive! I’m a published author and it still feels incredible. This year, I lived in Spain for several months. I ran my first 5k race. I visited the Baltics, a brand new region of Europe for me. I explored Cornwall and saw for myself that there’s more to England than my London bubble. I stayed in an Italian village with a permanent population of two. I took a ferry to Finland on a whim. I spent several nights floating on a river in the jungles of Cambodia. I ate everything in Taiwan. And Vietnam. And Spain. And Italy.

And at the same time, I can’t deny this year has included some of the biggest challenges I’ve ever faced. Mental breakdowns. Panic attacks. Self-doubt. Cancelled trips. Bedbugs. Allergic reactions. Letting down friends. Losing my passport. Forgetting to apply for visas. I started the year in one of the darkest periods of my life, but end it at one of my strongest. Those terrible experiences were necessary for me to reassess my life and make the changes I’d been putting off for a while.

If you’re into traveling, or just want to read about someone who is, give Lauren’s blog a shot. She has the most insane adventures.

Even though her 2015 wasn’t quite as crazy as the previous escapades, it was pretty good. You can read about her earlier and more insane travels in her book [iBooks]. I wrote a little about it here.


Porsche Boxster and Cayman to Be Renamed to ‘718’ →

December 10, 2015 · 09:00

Steven J. Ewing:

Officially, the cars will be called 718 Boxster and 718 Cayman, and Porsche says the two models “will share more similarities than ever before,” both visually and mechanically. What’s more, Porsche confirms the 718 Boxster will carry a higher price tag than the 718 Cayman, which is a switch from the company’s current pricing strategy – right now, a base Cayman costs $500 more than a standard Boxster.

Finally — I never fancied the ‘Boxster’ and ‘Cayman’ names. Wonder if the engines will be any good.


Walmart Pay — Easy and Intuitive →

December 10, 2015 · 07:37

Chance Miller:

To use Walmart Pay, you have to be in a Walmart checkout lane. Then, open up the Walmart app on your phone, choose the Walmart Pay option, scan then QR code displayed on the checkout terminal, and wait for the employee to finish scanning your items.

I wonder if the people who create (or tell others to create it for them) such products ever try to use what they’re competing against — Apple Pay in this case.


Apple TV Subscription Service Put on Hold →

December 9, 2015 · 08:49

Matt Weinberger:

Moonves said that Apple and CBS were close to settling on a price point of between $30 and $40 per month for these bundles — Moonves specifically mentioned the price point of $35 multiple times — before Apple decided to pause and reconsider.

I’m really hoping this is something which will be worth it, available worldwide, and that Apple holding off today will allow them to create a superior product in the future.


Apple’s Secrets Revealed →

December 9, 2015 · 08:13

Yoni Heisler:

One of the more interesting aspects of Apple’s legal battle with Samsung is that it gave us an unprecedented look behind the veil of secrecy that typically shrouds all aspects of Apple’s product development and day-to-day operations. Over the course of discovery, innumerable court filings, and a fascinating trial, the inner workings of Apple were brought to the forefront for the first time in history. From photographs of iPhone prototypes to how Apple conducts market research, Apple’s legal battles with Samsung provided tech enthusiasts with a treasure trove of previously top-secret information.

I found the details of how the iPhone came to be most fascinating. The early iPhone prototype pictures can be quite shocking too.


Mossberg: Google Should Build Hardware — but Not Like This →

December 8, 2015 · 23:09

Walt Mossberg:

But the worst part about this device, which starts at $499 for the tablet alone, is that Google has made no discernible effort to create software to match the screen real estate afforded by the first tablet it has designed and built itself. It has forfeited the big advantage its rival Apple has traded on for decades: the ability to blend your own hardware and software to provide a superior user experience.

I was curious what they came up with. I’m not any more.


iPhone 6C and Apple Watch 2 Rumoured to Be Shown During March 2016 Event →

December 8, 2015 · 22:24

Mark Gurman:

Apple is currently planning a March 2016 event to unveil the second-generation Apple Watch, according to sources with knowledge of the plans. The second version of the Apple Watch would then ship by April, nearly a year after the original model first went on sale. Apple has also been working on a new “iPhone 6c” with a 4-inch display, which also could appear at this event, according to the sources…

Normally I would call ‘bollocks’, but Mark has had an exciting track record last year.


More Details on the Smart Battery Case From the Verge →

December 8, 2015 · 15:31

Lauren Goode lists all of the features — and there a few of them — of the Smart Battery Case, and summarises:

Apple’s smart battery case is good, then, if you want a softer case or a “passive” battery charging experience, with zero control over or understanding of how the case actually charges your phone. Maybe that’s what Apple is hoping: that buyers of this thing will slip it on and never take it off, charging their iPhones entirely through the case’s Lightning port going forward, forgetting about its big ol’ bump in the back. They will be pleased, finally, with their iPhone 6’s or 6S’s battery life, and the memory of spending an extra $99 for it, rather than having it just work that way in the first place, will eventually fade away.

For the record: I just wish the 6S had the battery life of the 6S Plus.


Joanna Stern on the iPhone 6S Smart Battery Case →

December 8, 2015 · 14:55

Joanna Stern:

Even better, Apple fixes many of the issues I’ve had with cases over the years. It uses the same Lightning cable as the iPhone to charge, and it tells you how much power is remaining right on the phone’s screen. Besides, the case doesn’t feel like the stuff plastic forks are made of.

The Lightning cable is what made me want one, but the fact that it shows the amount of power left right on the iPhone’s screen is a great addition.

Still, I’ll take it over all the ugly messes sold by Mophie, Anker and others, especially since it provides better protection for the phone. A lip curves just above the screen to prevent the glass from hitting a hard surface and an interior lining provides better shock absorption than hard plastic. Plus, the grippy material is much easier to hold and doesn’t feel like it will slip from my hands.

I have a Mophie case and I can’t stand the plastic.

Here’s the best part about the design: There are no blinking LED lights on the case to tell you how much power is remaining. As soon as you attach it, the percentage of power remaining in the phone and the case is displayed on the iPhone’s lock screen. You can also see both battery levels by swiping down in the notification center.

Apple even integrated a passive antenna into the case so cellular reception doesn’t suffer.

Apple’s attention to detail is still alive and kicking.


Living With Depression [video] →

December 8, 2015 · 14:31

CallMeKat:

Hope this helps you understand the process. I made this because many people seem to think that being depressed is something you choose and that in the end, it all comes down to looking out the window and listening to sad music.

The truth is, it’s very much beyond your control.


‘Windows Trackpads Have Been Terrible for What Feels Like Forever’ →

December 8, 2015 · 14:00

Tom Warren:

Windows trackpads have been terrible for what feels like forever. Luckily, the Dell XPS 13 trackpad feels like the perfect size. It’s still the same large glass pad with a soft finish like earlier in the year, but Dell has definitely improved the driver situation, so the trackpad performs very smoothly across Windows 10. I still notice some occasional scrolling issues in Chrome, but I have those problems with every Windows laptop I use. The cursor doesn’t randomly jump across the screen anymore, and two-finger scrolling is smooth everywhere it needs to be. I’ve tested many Windows laptops this year, and this is without a doubt one of the best experiences for using gestures and just simply scrolling. You would think Microsoft’s own Surface Book trackpad would be better, but Dell has done a great job of balancing the size and position relative to the small form factor of this laptop.

I should note here, though, that Dell had to replace my XPS 13 due to a trackpad issue. The original unit clicked and felt slightly loose, and even the replacement unit felt like that out of the box but appeared to oddly remedy itself.

I’ve been using a Surface Pro 4 trackpad recently and while using a single finger on it is fine, using two or more is an absolutely terrible experience.

Tom Warren notes that he ‘notices scrolling issues in Chrome but has them on every Windows laptop that he uses’ — this sounds as if he’s just given up and accepted their inferior quality for whatever reason. I find this completely unacceptable. Apple’s trackpads have been near perfect for years and their’s is the only one which I actually want to use instead of a mouse. Accepting anything less than excellence is not good enough.


Mailbox and Carousel Will Be Shutdown by Dropbox →

December 7, 2015 · 21:23

Drew Houston & Arash Ferdowsi:

To our Carousel and Mailbox users, thank you for embracing these products—and we’re sorry. It’s not easy to say goodbye to products we all love. But ultimately, we think this increased focus will help us create even better experiences for you in the months and years to come.

I never used Carousel, but I was always a big supporter of Mailbox and hoped that one day they would transform it into what email could and should have been. While waiting, I switched over to FastMail with my own custom domain — it has been much better than I could have expected. But it’s still not what I want – a combination of Slack and email, which would make life easier.

P.S. FastMail kills Gmail in every regard. It also has Push in Mail.app on iOS for a while now.


Running Very Long Distances Can Make Your Brain Shrink →

December 7, 2015 · 10:34

Akshat Rathi:

They found that, for the first 2,500 kilometers, runners’ cartilage—the shock-absorbing material found between bones—degraded. But after that, the cartilage actually started to recover.

“It was thought that cartilage could only regenerate during rest,” lead researcher Uwe Schütz told New Scientist. “We have shown for the first time that it can regenerate during running.” The researchers revealed their results at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America.

Extraordinarily, they also found that a runner’s brain shrinks as much as 6% by the end of the race.

What’s amazing is how little we still know about how our bodies actually function.