A blog in desperate need of a new title
- Friday, June 24, 2016Is 2016 the Year of VR?I have been interested in Virtual Reality since I was a little kid. The concept of being able to be somewhere I can't actually go, or experience something that may not even exist in the real world, always sounded incredible. When I was young, all I wanted in the world was to be able to drive. I dreamed about having VR to allow me to experience this one thing that was out of my reach. Now I'm not sure what virtual reality would interest me most.
What Microsoft previewed with the HoloLens, which offers more of an Augmented Reality experience, seems to offer the most practical and feasible application for VR yet. It's probably the first time I've been excited about Virtual Reality since middle school. But I feel like the promise of a good VR experience is still "coming soon", and it will always be coming soon... never quite here. I do think we're close, but I don't think the price point or the appealing content is here yet, so I'm not really convinced 2016 is going to be the "Year of VR".
One thing that I've noticed that causes me pause is the lack of enthusiasm I've seen from "kids" (middle school and high school age). When I was a kid, most people I knew around my age would discuss VR, particularly when talking about video games. We'd talk about how much we couldn't wait for it to arrive and what it would be like. "The future! It's going to be amazing!" I just don't see those conversations taking place. If there's no real enthusiasm for it in that age bracket, I have to wonder how far it will go into the mainstream.
- Thursday, June 23, 2016What Do You Do With Your Old Photos in Your Library?This question actually opens up a whole other talk show, which is that I am a digital hoarder! I really struggle with deleting anything. I'm not an "Inbox Zero" kind of guy... I'm much more of an "Inbox 17,691" type user. My phone still has every text message since the first iPhone, and of course every photo I've ever taken as well. These have been carried over since the very first iPhone, nine years ago. I refuse to delete them, even though they're also sitting on my laptop. As a result, I have 5.6GB of space used up on my phone just for Messages, and 30.4GB for Photos.
Jason Snell specifically asked, do you actually go back and look at them? When asked like that, I'd have to say no, I don't typically just pull up my old photos and look through them. But I do frequently find myself looking for something specific in my library, and stumble on a few random photos that make me smile from the memories.
One thing I do quite often with my photos – and the primary reason I can't delete any of them – is I pull up a photo that is relevant to a conversation. For example, I recently had a conversation with some people about food in foreign countries. I mentioned my experience with good food in China, but also not-so-good food in China. I found that the local Chinese food was amazing, but you should avoid their "American" food at all cost! And then I was able to show off a photo I have of the most disgusting steak dinner I've ever had, complete with a fried egg and "spaghetti" (which was more like ketchup on noodles).
- Wednesday, June 15, 2016WWDC 2016Since this week's topics on Clockwise were all related to the WWDC announcements, I decided it makes more sense to drop these all in one post. The question this week was, "Which new feature announced at WWDC – for the four respective OS upgrades – is most interesting to you?"
Clearly speed is a big deal. I've been really enjoying my Apple Watch lately, but I do wish it was faster. Sometimes apps feel like they get "stuck" when you try to launch them, and as a result I don't use apps as much as I'd like. But I think the thing I'm most looking forward to is the "sketch to text" feature.
Being able to draw letters and have it interpret it as text is a feature that I'm surprised didn't ship with the watch. I've been looking for it since day one. I've been known to sketch full conversations with my friends when I'm in a position I don't want to take out my phone (e.g. movies), but that only works if they also have an Apple Watch. Since most of my friends are lame and do not, I end up having to pull out my phone to text back.
I am concerned about the current sketch and heartbeat features. Apple already announced that the button to bring up your friends is being repurposed. Will the sketch to text replace the ability to send sketches? I really hope not.
Two things stood out for me as a really big deal... the Messages updates and multi-lingual typing. Neither of those are big for me, but I see them being huge in all of the areas outside the US. Most other countries use texting apps a lot differently than we do here locally. So, while things like stickers might not seem important to us, it is a big deal in other parts of the world.
Personally, I'm looking forward to the updates to the lock screen. Raise to wake looks promising, and I'm interested to see how well it works. The new notifications also look great, so I can't wait to try them out.
I also like how much farther Apple is allowing app extensions to go. Being able to hook your apps into Messages, for example, should lead to some really great user experiences.
I don't feel like I'm seeking new ways for my Mac to work. I use it more than any device I own, and I rarely find myself wishing it did something that it doesn't. The one exception is logging in. I've tried a few iPhone apps that promise to make logging in easier. For example, Knock was a promising app that allowed you to tap your phone when you were within range of your laptop and it would unlock. But I found it constantly lost connection and wouldn't work. So I cannot wait to be able to open my laptop and have it log in automatically because I have my Apple Watch on. This kind of integration is what makes Apple stand out. You're going to have difficulty getting Android or Windows to pull this off.
Ironically, Picture-in-Picture was a feature I didn't know I needed until it was announced... while I was trying to maneuver Safari windows around on my screen so I could watch the announcement and work at the same time.
Not much was announced for tvOS, and it's probably definitely the Apple device I use the least. That's no complaint about the product. I just don't watch TV very often. So I'll have to say "dark mode" is most interesting to me.
- Monday, June 13, 2016What Is The One Feature That Could Dramatically Improve Your iOS Experience?I want to be able to text Siri. I do not like talking to my devices. So much so, I never talk to any of my friends on the phone, but I do text them all constantly. So I want the ability to do all the things you can do with Siri without having to speak to her.
Regarding Lex Friedman's mention of multitasking on the iPad, I do wish I could manage the apps that appear on the multitasking sidebar. I'm generally happy with how the multitasking works on the iPad, but I find it frustrating that I have no idea what apps will appear in which order on the sidebar.
- Friday, June 10, 2016What is the best tech giveaway you ever got?The first time I attended CES I went with my former business partner, Craig. We were walking across the convention floor and I saw a giant orange booth that went all the way to the ceiling. I suggested we should go see what they have going on, since they spent so much expense trying to get my attention. As we approached, an attractive female booth worker (formerly known as a "booth babe") said we could be entered in a drawing for a free giveaway if we dropped our business card in the bowl and watched their presentation.
We dropped our cards in the empty bowl, and a few minutes later the presenter shows off these small dongles that were designed to go between your iPod and your PC. Each one would allow you to do various things not normally allowed by Apple. Keep in mind, this was the year the iPhone was introduced. The iPod was still ubiquitous but it was a closed off device. You could add or remove music using iTunes, but it was a one-way street. There wasn't an easy way to pull music down or use the device as a portable drive. Their products would do just that. One would turn your iPod into an external drive and backup your laptop to your iPod automatically when plugged in. The dongle I was most interested in was one that would let you suck the music off of your iPod and onto your PC.
As the presentation went on, the crowd grew, which was disappointing to me because my odds of winning a giveaway were getting more and more slim. Finally the presenter wraps up his speech and asks the "booth babe" for the bowl of business cards. He announces he's going to give away the very dongle I was eyeing. He pulls a card, and calls out Craig's name. I faked my happiness for Craig, but I was deeply disappointed. It was almost worse that Craig got it than a random stranger. Before we could walk away though, the presenter decided he would draw another card since there were so many people that made it through his presentation. I was convinced there was no way he would pull my card though. He pulls out a second card... and he calls my name!
The only other tech giveaway I really remember getting was not nearly as exciting. I once got a free flyswatter from Earthlink. It used to be that internet providers would compete for your business based on their ability to protect you from spam. So there, in the middle of a mall, was a kiosk run by Earthlink trying to get shoppers to signup for internet access, and they were handing out bright orange flyswatters with a giant "SPAM" sticker on the swatter part. I gave it to my friend, Liam, who happened to be working on a spam project at work... a direct competitor to Earthlink.
- Sunday, June 12, 2016Apple Pay on Web and Person-to-Person Payments – Does This Entice You?I am happy with any excuse to use Apple Pay more often. I don't feel like i get the opportunity to use Apple Pay nearly as much as I'd like. I honestly don't do a lot of shopping in brick and mortar shops anymore, and it seems like anytime I do, one of two things happens. Either I can't figure out if they take Apple Pay, or it doesn't work. The latter happens every time I eat and Panera Bread. So if I could use Apple Pay for online purchases, that would be great. I don't do a lot of person-to-person payments, but if I ever need to do it again, I would love to use Apple Pay.Katie Floyd made a comment on the show I wanted to address. Katie mentioned that she doesn't use a debit card online because of the risk versus using a credit card. If you have a Visa or MasterCard branded debit card, the consumer protection is the same as if you were using a credit card.
- Saturday, June 11, 2016Do you use Apple Music, if not what needs to change?The reason I don't subscribe to Apple Music is simply that I don't want to pay $10/month for yet another subscription service. I've heard subscription services called leeches, which I find completely accurate. I don't need anymore leeches. I currently pay monthly for TV, internet, phone data, Netflix, Amazon Prime, iTunes Match (or whatever it's called now), iCloud backups, and a newsgroup service. It's not that $10 is too much. It's that another $10 is too much.
I like Apple Music as a service, actually. I seem to be in the minority in that I like how the streaming tracks are integrated with my owned tracks. I've never really liked other streaming services because of how they seem to function more like radio programs, and they're so separate from my music. I'm a collector, and I want albums. I tediously tag my music and build out smart playlists based on those tags. It allows me to feel more in control of my music than anything other streaming services seem to provide.
The only thing that would get me to sign up would be to lump the iCloud Backup and the Apple Music service into one "leech" for a lower price. I pay $2/month for iTunes Match and $1/month for my iCloud backup. Since iTunes Match is part of Apple Music, I just want Apple to include a decent cloud storage tier with my music plan.
- Friday, June 10, 2016Counter ClockwiseJason Snell and Dan Moren have a podcast called Clockwise, which I highly recommend. Jason and Dan invite two guest each week to discuss four topics in 30 minutes. (The timing is a struggle for me since my drive to work is about 25 minutes, but I deal with it.) I've decided to start answering some of the questions asked on the show as if I was a guest. I may not cover every topic they do, but I'll cover any that really interest me.