Reasons for HomePod optimism despite reports of disappointing sales

Ben Lovejoy, writing for 9to5 Mac:

Bloomberg report suggests that Apple has lowered sales forecasts and reduced orders for the HomePod. The report was based on data from Slice Intelligence indicating that sales were strong at launch but rapidly tailed off.

The headline number in the report did seem to support the contention that the HomePod is selling poorly.

Three weeks after the launch, weekly HomePod sales slipped to about 4 percent of the smart speaker category on average.

But that gives a rather misleading impression, for six reasons …

 

Source: https://9to5mac.com/2018/04/12/homepod-sales-gen-2/

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HomePod Sales lower than Apple expected

Mark Gurman, writing for Bloomberg:

When Apple Inc.’s HomePod smart speaker went on sale in January, it entered a market pioneered and dominated by Amazon’s Echo lineup of Alexa-powered devices. Apple has been touting the HomePod’s superior sound quality but so far hasn’t enticed many consumers to part with $349.

By late March, Apple had lowered sales forecasts and cut some orders with Inventec Corp., one of the manufacturers that builds the HomePod for Apple, according to a person familiar with the matter.

At first, it looked like the HomePod might be a hit. Pre-orders were strong, and in the last week of January the device grabbed about a third of the U.S. smart speaker market in unit sales, according to data provided to Bloomberg by Slice Intelligence. But by the time HomePods arrived in stores, sales were tanking, says Slice principal analyst Ken Cassar. “Even when people had the ability to hear these things,” he says, “it still didn’t give Apple another spike.”

During the HomePod’s first 10 weeks of sales, it eked out 10 percent of the smart speaker market, compared with 73 percent for Amazon’s Echo devices and 14 percent for the Google Home, according to Slice Intelligence. Three weeks after the launch, weekly HomePod sales slipped to about 4 percent of the smart speaker category on average, the market research firm says. Inventory is piling up, according to Apple store workers, who say some locations are selling fewer than 10 HomePods a day. Apple declined to comment. The shares gained 1.4 percent to $174.89 at 3:36 p.m. in New York.

Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-04-12/apple-s-stumbling-homepod-isn-t-the-hot-seller-company-wanted

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macOS 10.13.4 to Warn About 32-bit Apps Starting April 12

To ensure that the apps you purchase are as advanced as the Mac you run them on, all future Mac software will eventually be required to be 64-bit.

Apple began the transition to 64-bit hardware and software technology for Mac over a decade ago, and is working with developers to transition their apps to 64-bit. At our Worldwide Developers Conference in 2017, Apple informed developers that macOS High Sierra would be the last version of macOS to run 32-bit apps without compromise.

While developers optimize their apps for 64-bit compatibility, Apple is notifying customers when they are using an app based on 32-bit technology. This is done via a one-time alert that appears when you launch a 32-bit app.

Source: https://developer.apple.com/news/?id=04112018a

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11 Tips for Working on the iPad

Federico Viticci:

In a recent episode of Connected, we rounded up some of our favorite “iOS little wonders” and Myke was surprised by one of my picks: the ability to launch individual notes on iOS through shared links. The ensuing discussion inspired me to assemble a list of tips and tricks to improve how you can work on an iPad with iOS 11.

Even though I covered or mentioned some of these suggestions in my iOS 11 review or podcast segments before, I realized that it would useful to explain them in detail again for those who missed them. From keyboard recommendations and shortcuts to gestures and Siri, I’ve tried to remember all the little tricks I use to get work done on my iPad Pro on a daily basis.

After several years of being iPad-only for the majority of my work, I often take some of these features for granted. And admittedly, Apple doesn’t always do a great job at teaching users about these lesser known details, which have become especially important after the productivity-focused iPad update in iOS 11. I hope this collection can be useful for those who haven’t yet explored the fascinating world of iPad productivity.

Let’s dig in.

Source: https://www.macstories.net/ios/11-tips-for-working-on-the-ipad/

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Credit card signatures are about to become extinct in the U.S.

Stacy Cowley, New York Times:

Credit card networks are finally ready to concede what has been obvious to shoppers and merchants for years: Signatures are not a useful way to prove someone’s identity. Later this month, four of the largest networks — American Express, Discover, Mastercard and Visa — will stop requiring them to complete card transactions.

The signature, a centuries-old way of verifying identity, is rapidly going extinct. Personal checks are anachronisms. Pen-and-ink letters are scarce. When credit card signatures disappear, handwritten authentications will be relegated to a few special circumstances: sealing a giant transaction like a house purchase, or getting a celebrity to autograph a piece of memorabilia — and even that is being supplanted by the cellphone selfie.

Card signatures won’t vanish overnight. The change is optional, leaving retailers to decide whether they want to stop collecting signatures.

About time.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/08/business/credit-card-signatures.html

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Apple’s 2019 Mac Pro will be shaped by workflows

Matthew Panzarino got exclusive access to Apple’s pro hardware and tools group:

I visited the Apple campus in Cupertino to figure out where the hell the new Mac Pro was. I joined a round-table discussion with Apple  SVPs and a handful of reporters to get the skinny on what was taking so long.

The answer, it turns out, was that Apple had decided to start completely over with the Mac Pro, introduce completely new pro products like the iMac  Pro and refresh the entire MacBook Pro lineup. The reasoning given at the time on the Mac Pro was basically that Apple had painted itself into an architecture corner by being aggressively original on the design of the bullet/turbine/trash-can shaped casing and internal components of the current Mac Pro. There was nothing to be done but start over.

The secondary objective to that visit was to reassure pro customers who had not had news of updates in some time that Apple was listening, was working to deliver products for them and generally still cared.

Now, it’s a year later and Apple has created a team inside the building that houses its pro products group. It’s called the Pro Workflow Team, and they haven’t talked about it publicly before today. The group is under John Ternus and works closely with the engineering organization. The bays that I’m taken to later to chat about Final Cut Pro, for instance, are a few doors away from the engineers tasked with making it run great on Apple hardware.

[…]

To do that, Ternus says, they want their architects sitting with real customers to understand their actual flow and to see what they’re doing in real time. The challenge with that, unfortunately, is that though customers are typically very responsive when Apple comes calling, it’s not always easy to get what they want because they may be using proprietary content. John Powell, for instance, is a long-time Logic user and he’s doing the new Star Wars Han Solo standalone flick. As you can imagine, taking those unreleased and highly secret compositions to Apple to play with on their machines can be a sticking point.

So Apple decided to go a step further and just begin hiring these creatives directly into Apple. Some of them on a contract basis but many full-time, as well. These are award-winning artists and technicians that are brought in to shoot real projects (I saw a bunch of them walking by in Apple Park toting kit for an on-premise outdoor shoot). They then put the hardware and software through their paces and point out sticking points that could cause frustration and friction among pro users

Source: https://techcrunch.com/2018/04/05/apples-2019-imac-pro-will-be-shaped-by-workflows/

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Apple Hires John Giannandrea, Google’s Chief of Search and Artificial Intelligence

 

Jack Nicas and Cade Metz, reporting for The New York Times:

Apple has hired Google’s chief of search and artificial intelligence, John Giannandrea, a major coup in its bid to catch up to the artificial intelligence technology of its rivals.

Apple said on Tuesday that Mr. Giannandrea will run Apple’s “machine learning and A.I. strategy,” and become one of 16 executives who report directly to Apple’s chief executive, Timothy D. Cook.

Combine this with the reports that Apple is hiring over 100 engineers to improve Siri and this is a huge move to improve their AI efforts.

Source: https://mobile.nytimes.com/2018/04/03/business/apple-hires-googles-ai-chief.html

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CloudFlare launches new public DNS service: 1.1.1.1

CloudFlare launches new public DNS service: 1.1.1.1

CloudFlare has just launched a new public DNS service called 1.1.1.1

Matthew Prince wrote a nice post on it in the CloudFlare Blog:

The problem is that these DNS services are often slow and not privacy respecting. What many Internet users don’t realize is that even if you’re visiting a website that is encrypted — has the little green lock in your browser — that doesn’t keep your DNS resolver from knowing the identity of all the sites you visit. That means, by default, your ISP, every wifi network you’ve connected to, and your mobile network provider have a list of every site you’ve visited while using them.

[…]

But it’s been depressing to us to watch all too frequently how DNS can be used as a tool of censorship against many of the groups we protect. While we’re good at stopping cyber attacks, if a consumer’s DNS gets blocked there’s been nothing we could do to help.

[…]

We talked to the APNIC team about how we wanted to create a privacy-first, extremely fast DNS system. They thought it was a laudable goal. We offered Cloudflare’s network to receive and study the garbage traffic in exchange for being able to offer a DNS resolver on the memorable IPs. And, with that, 1.1.1.1 was born.

Also of note was this review by Wojtek Pietrusiewicz:

I just checked 1.1.1.1’s performance and it appears to be the fastest DNS out there, avergaing 14.01 ms worldwide and 11.34 ms in Europe over the last 30 days. Google’s 8.8.8.8 and 4.4.4.4 is significantly slower, clocking in at 34.51 ms and 24.43 ms respectively.

This looks like a pretty interesting new service from CloudFlare to compete with Google’s Public DNS and OpenDNS.

Setting it up is pretty straight forward (along the same lines as other similar services), you just change your DNS servers:

  1. Set the primary DNS server to 1.1.1.1
  2. Then set the secondary DNS server to 1.0.0.1

I’ve found the speeds to be along the same lines as CloudFlare mentions

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Chrome Web Store no longer allows crypto-mining extensions

Until now, Chrome Web Store policy has permitted cryptocurrency mining in extensions as long as it is the extension’s single purpose, and the user is adequately informed about the mining behavior. Unfortunately, approximately 90% of all extensions with mining scripts that developers have attempted to upload to Chrome Web Store have failed to comply with these policies, and have been either rejected or removed from the store.

Starting today, Chrome Web Store will no longer accept extensions that mine cryptocurrency. Existing extensions that mine cryptocurrency will be delisted from the Chrome Web Store in late June. Extensions with blockchain-related purposes other than mining will continue to be permitted in the Web Store.

The extensions platform provides powerful capabilities that have enabled our developer community to build a vibrant catalog of extensions that help users get the most out of Chrome. Unfortunately, these same capabilities have attracted malicious software developers who attempt to abuse the platform at the expense of users. This policy is another step forward in ensuring that Chrome users can enjoy the benefits of extensions without exposing themselves to hidden risks.

Source: https://blog.chromium.org/2018/04/protecting-users-from-extension-cryptojacking.html

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Tim Cook: “Facebook should have regulated itself, but it’s too late for that now”

Peter Kafka, writing for Recode:

Apple CEO Tim Cook has doubled down on his call for regulation that would limit Facebook and others companies’ ability to use customer data.

Speaking to Recode’s Kara Swisher and MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, Cook said he’d prefer that Facebook and others would have curbed their use of personal data to build “these detailed profiles of people … patched together from several sources.”

“I think the best regulation is no regulation, is self-regulation,” he said. “However, I think we’re beyond that here.”

Cook has made a point of criticizing Facebook for both the Cambridge Analytica affair and its overall approach to consumer privacy in recent days. But it’s not a new stance for him or the company: He made similar comments about Facebook and Google in 2015, and his predecessor Steve Jobs went out of his way to contrast Apple’s privacy stance with rivals like Google in 2010.

[..]

Cook made that point again today: “The truth is, we could make a ton of money, if we monetized our customer – if our customer was our product. We’ve elected not to do that.”

Swisher posed a question for Cook: What would he do if he were Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg” His answer: “I wouldn’t be in this situation.”

Source: https://www.recode.net/2018/3/28/17172212/apple-facebook-revolution-tim-cook-interview-privacy-data-mark-zuckerberg

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