Shortcuts in iOS 12

Frederico Viticci gives a great breakdown of Shortcuts, Siri, and iOS automation in iOS 12 (via DF):

Available in Settings ⇾ Siri & Search, iOS 12 features an option for users to define their own phrases for launching specific shortcuts via voice. This is done by speaking a custom phrase into a Siri recording UI that transcribes the command and creates a shortcut that can be invoked at any time. The Settings app automatically suggests recently used app shortcuts as well as other shortcuts that were previously “donated” by apps. Both recording a custom shortcut phrase and launching the phrase via Siri require an active Internet connection. Once given a custom phrase, user-configured shortcuts appear under the My Shortcuts section in Settings.

The shortcut phrases functionality is the feature I’m most excited about in iOS 12. I use Siri more and more in each subsequent year since it was introduced. My iPhone X is the snappiest iPhone I’ve had yet. What I mean by this is there is very little latency between pressing-and-holding the side button to launch Siri, speaking your command, and Siri executing that command.

Tags:

 /  /  / 

The minimalist smartphones aren’t the problem, you are.

From The Verge, There’s no perfect minimalist phone — yet:

The Jelly’s other big drawback is battery life: there is none. The phone lost almost 20 percent of its juice within 15 minutes as I downloaded four apps. At an 83 percent charge, the phone told me that I has just over four hours of life left, and even that turned out to be overly-optimistic. Eventually, I learned to carry around an external battery pack with me just to make it through the day. I’d never felt less minimalist.

None of these minimalist phones are the problem. Michael Zelenko’s mindset is the problem. He’s downloading multiple apps to his baby phone. You haven’t quit your drug, Zelenko. The point is not to use apps. I believe there is market for phones like these but this isn’t the review they deserve.

Then he gives the Nokia 3310 a try:

Open these up and you’ll be banished to the mid-2000s, moving a clunky mouse cursor up and down with an old school direction pad. It took me 10 minutes to pull up Twitter and complete my two-factor authentication, only to accidentally leave the web client and be faced with embarking on the process all over again. I gave up. The apps are so hard to use they may as well be nonexistent, which suited my purposes just fine.

Hey guess what? They have these things called smartphones with big, super-high resolution screens and predictive QWERTY keyboards, and apps, and bigger batteries. Stop trying to put a Toyota Corolla on the racetrack.

I deleted my Facebook account back in March. What I didn’t do after deleting my account was go out and look for a Facebook replacement. I deleted it because it was creating unnecessary noise in my life. I immediately felt lighter without my Facebook account.

I will agree with Zelenko that all these phones have usability issues, but those issues are fixable.

If you’re debating whether to ditch your iPhone or Android phone, I’d first recommend what I’ve done as a first step and see how much it helps. I’ve turned off the majority of notifications on my iPhone. Email and Messages are the only apps that have the badge app icon enabled for unread message counts. My calendar app (I use Timepage) is the only app allowed to use pop-up banners for upcoming events. I’ve muted Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Waze, and every other app on my phone bothering me.

I’ve taught my smartphone baby not to interrupt daddy when he’s in the middle of doing shit and it’s been working out great for the last 3-4 years.

“Without him, modern computers and smartphones as we know them would be unthinkable.”

Peter Grünberg, 78, Winner of an ‘iPod Nobel,’ Is Dead:

Peter Grünberg, a Nobel-Prize-winning physicist who discovered how to store vast amounts of data by manipulating the magnetic and electrical fields of thin layers of atoms, making possible devices like the iPad and the smartphone, has died at 78.

His death was announced by the Juelich Research Center in Juelich, Germany, where he was a longtime researcher. The center did not provide any other details.

Dr. Grünberg shared the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2007 with Albert Fert of the Université Paris-Sud in Orsay. They had independently made the same discovery — of an effect known as giant magnetoresistance, in which tiny changes in a magnetic field can result in huge changes in electrical resistance.

The effect is at the heart of modern gadgets that record music, video or other data as dense magnetic patchworks of ones and zeros — that is to say, electronic tablets and smartphones, the GPS devices in our pockets and handbags.

The Juelich institute said as much in a statement:

“Without exaggeration, one can say Peter Grünberg and his discovery of giant magnetoresistance decisively changed our lives. Without him, modern computers and smartphones as we know them would be unthinkable.”

To be clear, smartphones have always used sold-state hard drives (SSDs) and many laptops use them (Apple MacBooks have only used SSDs since 2015) — not the magnetoresistance technology Grünberg pioneered — but magnetic hard drives are still widely used in many external hard drives and laptops and they represent a huge place in the history of computers.

Never go full robot.

“The guy telling everyone to be afraid of robots uses too many robots in his factory”:

Elon Musk says Tesla relied on too many robots to build the Model 3, which is partly to blame for the delays in manufacturing the crucial mass-market electric car. In an interview with CBS Good Morning, Musk agreed with Tesla’s critics that there was over-reliance on automation and too few human assembly line workers building the Model 3.

Earlier this month, Tesla announced that it had officially missed its goal of making 2,500 Model 3 vehicles a week by the end of the first financial quarter of this year. It will start the second quarter making just 2,000 Model 3s per week, but the company says it still believes it can get to a rate of 5,000 Model 3s per week at the midway point of 2018.

You went full robot. Never go full robot.

Native Apps are Still Better

From The Verge, Web apps are only getting better:

So, what is a Progressive Web App?

Well, for starters, it’s just a website with a special “manifest” file that defines the name of the app, the icon for the home screen, and whether or not the app should show the typical browser UI or just take over the full screen. Users can add any website with a manifest file to their home screen or their Start menu and launch it like a regular mobile or desktop app.

But instead of just loading a website from the internet, a Progressive Web App is typically cached on your device so it has some sort of offline functionality. That could be anything ranging from saving the JavaScript and CSS so the website simply loads faster, on up to saving everything the user does locally like a traditional app.

Progressive Web Apps, importantly, can also support push notifications and other background work due to a new web technology called “service workers.” Service workers can help cache new content and synchronize local changes to a remote server, which keeps Progressive Web Apps as up-to-date as a typical website, while staying as responsive as a native app.

Right now the best example of a Progressive Web App is the Twitter Lite client. It’s fast, minimal, and even has a toggle so you can minimize data usage. Some online stores and publications have also taken advantage of the snappy performance of PWAs. I’ve actually been playing a minimal 2048 clone PWA on my iPhone for the last week. It works offline and remembers my high score between sessions. Sometimes it even saves the game state so I can resume a long run, but it’s not perfect.

In 2007, before the introduction of the App Store for iOS (then iPhone OS), Steve Jobs promised developers the power of writing web apps for iPhone. Developers didn’t buy it. Fast forward 11 years to now and I still don’t think many are buying it.

I’m happy web apps are getting better but native apps still have the upper hand.

Dumb Fucks

Jean-Louis Gassée posted another great Monday Morning Note, Mark Zuckerberg Thinks We’re Idiots:

The message is clear: Zuckerberg thinks we’re idiots. How are we to believe Facebook didn’t know — and derived benefits — from the widespread abuse of user data by its developers. We just became aware of the Cambridge Analytica cockroach…how many more are under the sink? In more lawyerly terms: “What did you know, and when did you know it?”

A company’s culture emanates from the top and it starts early. In 2004, the man who was in the process of creating Facebook allegedly called Harvard people who entrusted him with their emails, text messages, pictures, and addresses “dumb fucks”. Should we charitably assume he was joking, or ponder the revelatory power of such cracks?

I deleted my Facebook account last week like (a lot of? a few?) others, but as I mentioned on Twitter, I’m not naive.

My newsfeed has been full of junk, memes, opinions, and ignorant political rants for too long and this Cambridge Analytics scandal was just the extra push I needed to do want I’ve been thinking about doing for a long time.

Humans drink and drive.

Uber halts self-driving tests after pedestrian killed in Arizona:

A female pedestrian was killed after being struck by an autonomous Uber vehicle in Arizona, according to ABC 15. In response, Uber has pulled all of its self-driving cars from public roads in the state as well as in the cities of San Francisco, Toronto, and Pittsburgh.

The crash occurred near Mill Avenue and Curry Road early Monday morning in Tempe, Arizona, police confirm. The Uber vehicle was headed northbound when a woman walking across the street. The woman was taken to the hospital, where she later died from her injuries. Early reports suggested that she may have been a bicyclist, but that was not the case. Police have identified her as 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg.

Uber confirms that the vehicle was traveling in autonomous mode with a safety driver behind the wheel during the crash. That would make the pedestrian one of the first known victims of a crash involving a self-driving car.

It’s horrible that someone was killed from a self-driving car, but everyone needs to chill. In the long run autonomous vehicles are going to be way better drivers than humans.

Humans text their girlfriends and boyfriends while they drive. Humans drink and drive. Humans drive angry. Humans fall asleep at the wheel. Humans don’t pay attention. Robots do none of these things. I can’t wait until stupid humans aren’t in front of the wheel anymore.

We’ve had 100 years of practice driving. Self-driving cars? Not quite as much time, so let’s give the technology a chance to get better (and eventually surpass our skills).

Categories:

Technology, Vehicle

‘Tis a silly place.

WhatsApp co-founder tells everyone to delete Facebook:

In 2014, Facebook bought WhatsApp for $16 billion, making its co-founders — Jan Koum and Brian Acton — very wealthy men. Koum continues to lead the company, but Acton quit earlier this year to start his own foundation. And he isn’t done merely with WhatsApp — in a post on Twitter today, Acton told his followers to delete Facebook.

“It is time,” Acton wrote, adding the hashtag #deletefacebook. Acton, who is worth $6.5 billion, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. WhatsApp declined to comment.

I deleted my Facebook account 2 days ago. When I talk about Facebook, I’m usually talking about the ‘face’ of Facebook — the newsfeed/homepage. It’s just junky. It’s been that way for a long time. I almost exclusively talk with my close friends in a private group we set up. I ignore everything else.

I’m not convinced Mark Zuckerberg and the rest of the leadership at Facebook have backbones.

“I trust Apple a lot less.”

I got my iPhone’s battery replaced, and I’m angry Apple didn’t tell me to sooner:

Two weeks ago, I went to an Apple Store and had a new battery put in my iPhone 6S. The very next day, I realized how unusable my old battery had been making my phone.

The repair restored functionality that had been seeping away so slowly I hadn’t really registered the loss. Apps now load when I tap them, not when they feel like it. The keyboard doesn’t freeze when I try to reply to emails in Outlook. My phone no longer clings to its charging cable like it’s a hospital drip, and the battery itself has stopped taking surprise nosedives from 40 percent charge down to zero when I have the temerity to go outside in the cold. (Yes, cold weather kills batteries.) The trust is back in my relationship with my phone, but as a result, I trust Apple a lot less.

I’m angry too.

As an admitted fan of Apple I won’t lie, this is bullshit. I’ve always known, always, that performance degraded on my previous iPhones when I upgraded to the latest version of iOS. I didn’t need an official statement from Apple or any other company to confirm or deny my suspicions.

And now here we are getting new, discounted batteries from Apple.

Categories:

Business, Technology

Tags:

 /  / 

We’re Cloning Dogs Now

Barbra Streisand Cloned Her Dog. For $50,000, You Can Clone Yours:

It was basically an aside — an odd and interesting nugget in an interview with Barbra Streisand that otherwise dealt with heavy topics like sexism and politics.

Indeed, most of the 2,800-word article about Ms. Streisand in Variety is devoted to detailing the actress’s decades-long efforts to break up Hollywood’s boys’ club, as the 90th Academy Awards ceremony approaches with the #MeToo movement as the backdrop.

But it was that one nugget — a brief comment about her dogs — that drew the most attention on Tuesday night.

In her interview with Variety, Ms. Streisand revealed that two of her three Coton de Tulear dogs were clones. Specifically, the magazine reported that the dogs — Miss Violet and Miss Scarlett — had been cloned from cells taken from the mouth and stomach of Ms. Streisand’s late dog Samantha, who was 14 when she died last year.

Miss Violet and Miss Scarlett “have different personalities,” Ms. Streisand told Variety. “I’m waiting for them to get older so I can see if they have her brown eyes and her seriousness.”

This is crazy. I know the first sheep was cloned in 1996, but now it’s possible for people with a lot of money. Soon it’ll be $25K, then $12K until eventually anyone can do it for $100.

And if one animal can be cloned, anything can be cloned.

Categories:

Science, Technology

Tags:

 /  /  / 

Huawei’s Innovative CrotchCam

When companies copy Apple’s software and hardware, what I find the most interesting isn’t what they copied, but where they deviated and implemented their own ideas. These deviations reveal the true design taste and intelligence these ripoff artists are capable of when left to use their own brains.

The latest example from Asia is Huawei’s new MacBook Pro imitation, the MateBook X Pro. The Verge’s Sam Byford has a first look video of it on YouTube. First off they’ve got a solid, derivative name.

The MateBook X Pro looks almost identical to Apple’s MacBook Pro. It’s super thin, and it has the same unibody aluminum frame first introduced by Apple in the MacBook Air in 2008. Shit, they even use the same name for the dark grey color as Apple, “Space Grey”.

The primary design deviation on the MateBook is the black bezel around the screen. It’s significantly smaller than the MacBook Pro’s bezel. Of course every design decision comes with a tradeoff. In this case, reducing the bezel around the screen to be almost nonexistent required Huawei to find a new home for the webcam, which is normally positioned inside the bezel at the top and center above the screen.

Their solution? Hide that littler bugger inside a key on the keyboard:

I think this is hilarious, but not because of where they put it. It’s hilarious because from what I can tell on The Verge’s video, it’s practically pointed at your crotch. Byford has to hunch down to get his face in view.

Do they test and troubleshoot products at Huawei? It seems to me realizing the webcam isn’t pointed at your face is not only pretty easy to catch, but also to fix. Just angle it up a few millimeters, right?

UPDATE: It looks like Dell doesn’t approve of eye level cams either.

Categories:

Product, Technology

Apple continues to eat the watch industry’s lunch.

Apple sold more watches than Rolex, Swatch, and the rest of the Swiss watch industry combined:

Apple is one of the biggest watchmakers in the world.

How big? Based on newly available statistics, it now seems certain that Apple outsold the entire Swiss watch industry combined last quarter.

Yep. The company best known for making iPhones outsold Rolex, Omega, and even Swatch last quarter — combined.

That’s according to Apple Watch sales estimates from industry researcher Canalys and IDC, and publicly released shipment statistics from the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry. Canalys estimates that Apple sold 8 million Apple Watches in the last quarter of 2017.

Another industry who’s lunch Apple is eating.

Keep the success of Apple Watch in mind when you read stories about apps ditching it.

Tags:

 /  / 

Put your phones away and enjoy the concert.

Jack White is requiring fans to keep their phones in locked pouches during his concerts:

Jack White has discouraged phone use at his live shows for years. In the past, he’s made a point of going onstage and asking fans to keep their phones in their pockets. Now, for his upcoming US tour, he’s trying a more aggressive approach. Fans will be asked to keep their phones secured in a Yondr-branded pouch that can only be unlocked in certain areas of the venue, NME reports.

A statement released today by White’s team says that concertgoers will be banned from taking photos, audio, or video during the tour. “We think you’ll enjoy looking up from your gadgets for a little while and experience music and our shared love of it IN PERSON,” the statement reads, according to NME.

Good move by White. I saw Dave Chappelle perform in Oakland a few years ago and he also has a no phone policy.

And to all you wannabe concert cinematographers: No one gives a shit about your shaky clips and you’ll probably never watch them again.

In-display fingerprint sensors. Great idea, but we’ve moved on.

Over at The Verge, Vlad Savov tried the first phone with an in-display fingerprint sensor on phones made by Chinese company Vivo.

It seems to work great, and I always appreciate the refinement of old tech (even in the face of newer, better alternatives), but now that I’ve gotten used to FaceID, TouchID feels antiquated.

It’s great when I pick up my iPhone X and generic notifications expand to reveal their full transcripts when my face has been authenticated. I don’t have to touch anything.

My guess is companies like Vivo will tout in-display fingerprint sensors as a differentiator to the iPhone, but it will be interesting to see if people bite.

Categories:

Product, Technology

Tags:

 /  /  /