Jim Dalrymple: “I’m annoyed at the reaction to Apple’s Education Event”

Jim Dalrymple:

I’m a bit annoyed.

Apple on Tuesday held an event in Chicago focused on its education customers. They offered a total solution that included an iPad and software to make learning in the classroom better for teachers and students, but somehow they are getting severely criticized for all of the announcements.

I’ve seen things written like, ‘Apple should have purchased a textbook company and given textbooks to all students for free,’ and the ‘new iPad isn’t cheap enough’, and the ‘iPad is missing many of the features of the Pro version.’

Let’s be clear, Apple couldn’t buy a textbook company and give them away even if they wanted to—the antitrust issues are too large. It’s a nice pipe dream, but it’s not based in reality. Criticizing Apple for that is just unfair.

In its 40 years of being in the education market, Apple has never been the cheapest product—they never will be. I don’t know why people expect Apple to all of a sudden just give away iPads to schools or even compete against a product like a cheap Chromebook on price.

Apple doesn’t make cheap products. Ever. They also don’t make shitty products. You can expect the iPad to last for years without breaking or becoming obsolete. I expect the return on investment for schools to be quite high when purchasing iPads for the classroom.

Comparing the entry level iPad that is designed for students and consumers to a pro model is just silly. The features we may need as pro users are not the same features students will need in the classroom. If Apple could sell the iPad Pro at that price, I’m sure they would, but it’s just not feasible.

What Apple did was look at the iPad and decide what features were needed by students in our schools and then make the product as affordable as possible. I think they delivered that product. Do students need True Tone for their display? No. How about front and rear cameras? That could come in handy, especially for AR or a field trip, and the iPad has that.

Does anyone really think the Chromebook is as feature rich and durable as an iPad? I don’t think so, but it is cheaper. That’s about all it’s got going for it.

I was never a fan of Web apps either, even when Apple introduced them with the original iPhone. There is no way Web apps are a better tool than native apps on the iPad and the App Store has 200,000 education apps available.

I use both Chromebook and iPad Pro for work, and my daughter uses a Chromebook and an iPad as well, so I can be a bit of a devil’s advocate here.

First, I love the Apple infrastructure, so don’t take this to mean I don’t. My iPad is always with me, along with my iPhone.

Chromebooks aren’t entirely web app only these days, most of the more recent Chromebooks also have access to the android app store too which opens up what they can use.

Older Chromebooks do not have this feature, but for those that do, it’s handy.

If AR is the main reasoning for why an iPad is better than a Chromebook, what about when it comes to doing school work?

Typing on a tablet isn’t as intuitive as a keyboard, and the Apple Pencil is great, but it’s no keyboard, so then you have to include the cost of a Bluetooth keyboard for the iPad since it doesn’t have the smart connector.

But this is the entry level iPad so no smart connector needed.

Beyond just Chromebooks, a lot of schools are also using GSuite like Google Docs and Google Drive to do school work, students can then share a document with other students and their teachers.

Pages and Keynote might have sharing features, but they’d have to have those apps installed as well and the web app versions of Pages and Keynote aren’t too good.

While Jim may not like web apps, they are heavily in use, (I should know, I spend all day building web apps), and aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Another handy feature for Chromebooks in education is management and deployment, being able to push an update to a student’s Chromebook is extremely handy and Apple is behind on this. School boards usually have their own people handling this for the schools, and not teachers.

As for schools, Apple is a premium product, but most schools don’t have the budget to outfit all their students with an iPad when one iPad can buy two or three Chromebooks depending on the model, this is important in education where most things are purchased with public funds and schools have to fight for funding.

Take a look at the success stories of students and teachers using Chromebooks.

iPads and Chromebooks both have their uses, both work well and do their jobs incredibly well. But don’t underestimate what a Chromebook can do.

Like I said above, I am a huge fan of Apple and their products, but in this area, it’s hard to defend them entirely.

Source: http://www.loopinsight.com/2018/03/29/im-annoyed-at-the-reaction-to-apples-education-event/

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Canadians to get emergency alerts on their phones

CTV News:

Canada’s wireless providers are preparing for a looming update to the National Public Alerting System that will force smartphones to sound an ominous alarm when an emergency alert is triggered.

In case of emergencies including Amber Alerts, forest fires, natural disasters, terrorist attacks or severe weather, officials will be able to send a localized alert that will compel compatible phones on an LTE network to emit an alarm — the same shrill beeping that accompanies TV and radio emergency alerts — and display a bilingual text warning.

Source: https://www.ctvnews.ca/sci-tech/canadians-to-get-emergency-alerts-on-their-phones-soon-1.3851820

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Apple’s Getting Back Into the E-Books Fight Against Amazon

Mark Gurman, writing for Bloomberg on Apple’s new efforts for iBooks:

Apple is working on a redesigned version of its iBooks e-book reading application for iPhones and iPads and has hired an executive from Amazon to help.

The new app, due to be released in coming months, will include a simpler interface that better highlights books currently being read and a redesigned digital book store that looks more like the new App Store launched last year, according to people familiar with its development. The revamped app in testing includes a new section called Reading Now and a dedicated tab for audio books, the people said.

 

Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-25/apple-is-said-to-ready-revamped-e-books-push-against-amazon

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Whatsapp Co-founder Brian Acton on Twitter: ‘it Is Time. #deletefacebook’

For some context:

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.

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Facebook has lost the plot (if it ever had it to begin with)

MG Siegler:

If I had to sum up the past year of Facebook in one word, it wouldn’t be a word at all. It would be an emoji. And that emoji would be this one: ?‍♂️

Seemingly not an hour goes by these days that I don’t open Techmeme and see some ridiculous headline related to the latest Facebook faux pas. At best, the mistakes are eye-roll-inducing. At worst, they’re jaw-droppingly awful. And there are plenty in between which are just some combination of boneheaded, cringe-worthy, tactless, or tasteless. To make matters worse, Facebook clearly has a bad case of foot-in-mouth disease. Whenever they try to respond to a situation, they just exacerbate the issue.

Which raises the question: why?

Certainly a part of it is simply scale. Facebook is used by over 2 billion people. Mistakes happen at companies with far less reach, but literally almost all eyes are on Facebook. Another part is undoubtedly the extraordinary times in which we live. Times in which foreign governments learn how to manipulate social networks to drive political instability. And, of course, Facebook just seems to be in sort of a rut. All companies have ups and downs. Facebook seems to be one in which amazing highs are met with astonishing lows.

Still, it seems to me that a lot of these wounds are self-inflicted. Not just in choices the company makes from a product and policy standpoint, but also how they choose to react to issues when they arise. Even on Friday night, when it seemed like they were doing the right thing by making a swift, decisive move around a very complicated situation, it turns out, no — Facebook was simply reacting quickly because publications were about to run stories about the pilfering of data from their network for mass political profiling. And what’s worse, Facebook was apparently threatening said publications if they ran said stories.

Geez.

Let’s just review the headlines since the beginning of the year, shall we?

Mark Zuckerberg devoting the year to fixing Facebook (shouldn’t that alwaysbe his job?). Facebook running surveys for which news outlets to trust (what could go wrong crowd-sourcing this?). Messenger Kids (this one didn’t take long to backfire)! Re-engagement mass spam (the thirst is real). Facebook’s friendly pollster (who quit after 6 months). Spyware (like, actual spyware)! Two years of political indecisiveness and cluelessness (and a human punching bag coverstory). An actual fall in users (for the first time ever?). More spam(which then tricks you into publicly posting, no less). Teeing up Trump retweet-bait (on Twitter, no less). Mass shootings, the VR game we’ve all been waiting for (Jesus Christ). Back on Twitter wading into things one probably shouldn’t (as you can see in the comments). Potentially cool facial recognition feature sounds incredibly creepy all of a sudden (timing matters). Survey says: maybe don’t send a survey asking people how they feel about adults asking kids for sexually explicit images (why do you need to ask about this?!). More sex stuffAdding features to Messenger Lite to make it heavy (sigh). More fun with spywareSorry for the child abuse recs (Jesus Christ). And finally, today’s Cambridge Analytica shitshow (and more Twitter fun).¹

Whew. Again, that’s just the past three months! And I’m positive I missed a bunch. My current running gag on Twitter is that there must be a tech press mole planted inside Facebook who is causing the company to do such things. Because nothing else makes sense. You just can’t have this many screw-ups.

[…]

And beyond the stupidity and potential danger, I find myself increasingly annoyed simply because it’s certainly not helping to paint our increasingly embattled industry in any better a light. Reading these headlines, you’d think Facebook, and by extension, the tech sector in the Bay Area is the worst place in the world, full of jokers and jerks.

Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of jokers and jerks. But there are also plenty of brilliant, hard-working people. We can quibble about whether there are more or less than in other industries and other places, but that’s not the point. The point is that I now believe Facebook doesn’t just have an image problem, as I’m sure many around the company would want you to believe — “the press is out to get us!” Facebook has a self-awareness problem.

To put it more bluntly: it seems like Facebook has lost the plot. And given their scale, this is more than a little terrifying.

Source: https://500ish.com/foot-in-mouthbook-c35a64cd9341

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Facebook Exit Hints at Dissent on Handling of Russian Trolls

Nicole Perlroth, Sheera Frenkel, and Scott Shane:

Facebook’s chief information security officer, Alex Stamos, will leave the company after internal disagreements over how the social network should deal with its role in spreading disinformation, according to current and former employees briefed on the matter.

Mr. Stamos had been a strong advocate inside the company for investigating and disclosing Russian activity on Facebook, often to the consternation of other top executives, including Sheryl Sandberg, the social network’s chief operating officer, according to the current and former employees, who asked not to be identified discussing internal matters.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/19/technology/facebook-alex-stamos.html

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An Audiophile’s Review of the Apple AirPods

Vlad Savov, The Verge:

As The Verge’s resident headphones obsessive, I’m not supposed to like the AirPods. My initial reaction upon first seeing them many months ago was to pour scorn on Apple’s designers for crafting a pair of expensive and easy-to-lose cigarette butts. The AirPods were the resurrection of the awful Bluetooth headsets of years past, I thought. But this year, I finally got around to testing a pair of the AirPods for myself, and I finally understand why everyone who owns them loves them.

[…]

My wireless-doom scenario is walking into my kitchen, which is so full of metal things that it’s like a Faraday cage, while leaving my music source device in the bedroom: every non-Apple pair of wireless headphones I test becomes unusable in that situation. With the AirPods (and the Beats Solo and Studio 3, which have the same W1 wireless chip) connected to my MacBook Pro, I maintained a pretty decent connection with only minor dropouts in the kitchen.

[…]

The design of the AirPods case is a total masterpiece. It’s tiny but holds multiple extra charges for the earphones, and the rounded sides make them irresistible fidget toys. The tension of the case lid is perfect, delivering a satisfying snap when it opens and closes.

Source: https://www.theverge.com/2018/3/19/17138258/apple-airpods-audiophile-review-wireless-headphones

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Good bye Android Wear, Hello Wear OS By Google

Android Wear was founded on the belief that wearable technology should be for everyone, no matter what style you wear on your wrist or what phone you have in your pocket. Since then, we’ve partnered with top watch and electronics brands to create more than 50 watches to help you manage your fitness, connect with the people who matter most, and show you the information you care about. The best part: We’re just scratching the surface of what’s possible with wearables and there’s even more exciting work ahead.

As our technology and partnerships have evolved, so have our users. In 2017, one out of three new Android Wear watch owners also used an iPhone. So as the watch industry gears up for another Baselworld next week, we’re announcing a new name that better reflects our technology, vision, and most important of all — the people who wear our watches. We’re now Wear OS by Google, a wearables operating system for everyone.

This move is an interesting one, while I really don’t see anyone ever actually calling it “Wear OS By Google” rather than simply “Wear OS”, anyone who makes devices that are powered by it will have to say the full name, which puts Google’s name on the packaging.

 

Source: https://www.blog.google/products/wear-os/android-wear-its-time-new-name/

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What HomePod Should Become

Ryan Christoffel, writing for MacStories on what the HomePod is and what it needs to be:

Today the HomePod is all about music, but it could be so much more.

From its debut last June at WWDC to launch day this February, HomePod’s primary purpose has been clear: it’s an Apple Music accessory. Music has been the sole focus of Apple’s marketing, including the recent Spike Jonze short film – yet it’s an angle many have trouble accepting.

In a pre-Amazon Echo world, HomePod being a great Apple Music speaker would have been enough. But in 2018 we expect more from smart speakers, and we expect more from Apple.

HomePod succeeds as a music speaker, but it’s not the device we expected – at least not yet. Due to its arrival date more than three years after the birth of Alexa, we expected a smarter, more capable product. We expected the kind of product the HomePod should be: a smart speaker that’s heavy on the smarts. Apple nailed certain aspects with its 1.0: the design, sound quality, and setup are all excellent. But that’s not enough.

HomePod isn’t a bad product today, but it could become a great one.

How?

By becoming a true hub for all our Apple-centric needs.

[…]

HomePod is best equipped to hear requests, with its six-microphone array always at the ready; no iPhone or other device can compete with that. Also, those microphones possess the power to ignore what’s currently playing from the HomePod to focus on your voice. Plus, it’s already the device charged with handling most ‘Hey Siri’ inquiries, even when your iPhone or iPad might be closer; that can be frustrating now, but if HomePod’s Siri had no domain limitations, we wouldn’t mind it taking all requests. Finally, it’s the only Siri device that sits in one place all day, every day, so you know exactly where to speak. With HomePod, you don’t have to first locate a device (iPhone and iPad), press a button (Mac and Apple TV), or turn your wrist (Apple Watch) before making your request: just speak into the air, and Siri will hear you.

If Siri knew all things about your Apple devices and services, and could interact with them all, then HomePod would be the perfect vehicle to tap into that power. You could ask Siri on the HomePod to:

  • Check your iPhone’s battery charge.
  • Play an audiobook.
  • Add a show to your Up Next queue.
  • Download a specific app to your iPhone.
  • Pause or resume Apple TV playback.
  • List upcoming birthdays for your contacts.
  • Provide a delivery status on your Apple Store order.
  • Put all your devices in Do Not Disturb mode.
  • Play a specific movie or show on the Apple TV.
    • Or on the bedroom TV, or the iPad, or iPhone.
  • Locate your iPhone or iPad.
    • Each device could play a ding if it’s nearby, and if not, HomePod could offer to load a map on your nearest device.
  • Make a phone call.
  • Switch your AirPods to the Apple TV.
  • Set an Apple Store support appointment.
  • Open an app on a certain device.
  • Access files stored in iCloud Drive on the device of your choice:
    • “Put my Release Notes presentation on the TV.”
    • “Open the Budget spreadsheet on my iMac.”
  • Put a screensaver on the TV.

None of these things can currently be done by HomePod, but I think they would all be reasonable to expect from an upgraded Siri. None of these would infringe on the company’s user privacy stance, because the data at play in these requests is already available to Apple.

It may not seem like too extensive a list, but I think it covers all the reasonable gaps in Siri’s Apple-related knowledge. Some items listed are impossible with Siri now, but plenty already work on some devices – just not HomePod.

The list is fairly concise because Siri on HomePod already can do a lot. It has most of the bases covered. The problem is that as long as Siri can’t do everything, we’ll avoid relying on it for much of anything. Every time Siri responds to a query with, “I can’t do that,” users learn to doubt Siri’s capabilities. By expanding Siri’s reach in a few key areas – to all the Apple-related requests a person might reasonably have – every existing Siri domain will benefit, because that element of doubt will be removed.

[…]

Apple does have a big head start though. Not in the smart speaker category specifically, but in its ecosystem – a core factor that will be increasingly essential to smart speakers in the future.

Here’s how the rest of the ecosystem landscape sits currently:

  • Amazon. Missing the phone, watch, PC, and enterprise-capable tablets. Its vibrant third-party Alexa ecosystem is a strength, but without attractive computing hardware outside of speakers, it will never achieve the kind of seamless user experience people want.
  • Microsoft. Failures in the smartphone market come back to bite it; it could be a dark-horse candidate, but success will be really hard without a competitive smartphone.
  • Sonos. Not a chance. Besides the fact that it only makes speakers, Sonos is also entirely dependent on third parties. It’s trying to offer the best of all ecosystems by integrating with as many existing platforms as possible, but the big players will always reserve the best features and experiences for their own hardware.
  • Google. It has a much better chance than anyone else to get there, but I don’t know that it will. When your ecosystem is as fragmented as Google’s, it’s hard to nail a seamless experience across devices and services. The Pixel and Home line of products is a good start, they just need greater market penetration; also, Chrome OS-powered computers need to become legitimate options for getting work done.

A full ecosystem – complete with smartphones and traditional computers – matters so much to a smart speaker’s success because voice input will never replace touch entirely, only supplement it.

[…]

Voice computing has significant potential for expansion in our lives, but as it takes that extra load, I suspect we’ll find it less and less tolerable for voice-activated computers to live in an entirely different ecosystem than touch-input devices. With different platforms comes not only different apps and services, but also different terminology and user experience. The best computing experience will be offered by a family of related devices designed to complement each other.

Right now, Apple has the best shot at making that happen.

HomePod can be much more than it is today. Music, HomeKit, and basic trivia are all important, but they’re just the beginning. The end is a truly smart speaker, powered by a truly smart Siri – our personal hub of Apple computing.

Source: https://www.macstories.net/stories/what-homepod-should-become-a-hub-for-all-apple-centric-needs/

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