Long time Apple-industry developers, Brent Simmons and Manton Reece, this week announced and released JSON Feed Version 1. They say it best:
The JSON Feed format is a pragmatic syndication format, like RSS and Atom, but with one big difference: it’s JSON instead of XML.
For most developers, JSON is far easier to read and write than XML. Developers may groan at picking up an XML parser, but decoding JSON is often just a single line of code.
Our hope is that, because of the lightness of JSON and simplicity of the JSON Feed format, developers will be more attracted to developing for the open web.
Sounds good to me. TMO now has a JSON Feed as well. If you’d like to see it in action, this web-based feed reader should start to give you an idea.
The new Sonos Playbase falls right in line with what we Apple users have come to expect, delivering a simple-yet-robust experience for people who want to enhance the sound of their TVs and simultaneously add a whole-room music-listening solution. In one, low-profile box that sits underneath your TV (officially anything 75lbs or less), the Sonos Playbase gives you all of this and more, complete with easy setup and simple operation.
Mac Geek Gab listener Alex points us to a fun Mac Terminal command called “banner”, and its usage is simple. Launch Terminal, type ‘banner’, hit enter, type some text, hit enter again and voilà! You get a sideways banner of your chosen text fully suitable for printing on your favorite dot matrix printer.
Today is Pi Day. While some people might say that Tau is more relevant than Pi, it’s still Pi Day. With that in mind, you may want to wish your friends a happy Pi Day. And while that’s cool, it’s even cooler to wish them a Happy π Day (OK, well, it may or may not be cooler to do this, but it’s definitely geekier!). Unfortunately, we don’t have a π symbol in emoji on iOS. So in order to send that symbol you’ll either have to copy it from the text of this article and paste it in … or you can do what we did in the first place: add the Greek keyboard to your iPhone and type it from there!
iOS 10.3 is coming soon, and the beta track indicates that all iOS users will be migrating to Apple’s new filesystem, APFS. That’s fine, and that’s actually great progress. The problem is that there seems to be a lot of clickbait out there lately scaring people into thinking this is the end of days. It’s not. It’s F.U.D.
In the old days when you purchased a monitor you had to decide between higher resolution and larger text. If your monitor’s native resolution was too high, you were plagued with either living with small text or running the screen at a lower resolution. People buying a 4K monitor today see the same issue, but there is an easy way to get that running in Retina mode. Apple’s solution to this issue was to introduce what they call “Retina displays” on Macs, and macOS allows you to achieve the same effect with your third-party, 4K monitor, as well. We’ll show you how.
Today Sonos announced their new PLAYBASE, combining home theater sound and music playback in a low-profile base (just 2.28″ high!) that sits underneath your TV. The PLAYBASE is the result of nearly four years of iterative design work inside Sonos, and is made to complement the wall-mountable PLAYBAR in Sonos’ lineup. If your TV sits on a table, put a PLAYBASE under it; on the wall, put a PLAYBAR there. The PLAYBASE will hold TVs up to 77lbs, which should handle what most of you have.
While I haven’t yet tested the PLAYBASE in my home, I did get a chance to test it at Sonos’ offices last month, and the stereo spread and frequency response are impressive. They were able to fit a subwoofer in the thin design by use of a specially-engineered S-shaped port. It works, too, and really fills a room with sound for both music and video content. Of course, you’re able to use your iPhone or iPad to automatically tune the PLAYBASE to your room with Sonos’ Trueplay technology, ensuring the best possible sound for your environment. The PLAYBASE is priced at US$699 (same as the PLAYBAR), and will be released on April 4, 2017. Existing Sonos owners can pre-order starting today.
If you watch the Grammy Awards on Sunday night and don’t skip the commercials, you’re likely to see something that reminds you of Apple’s “1984”: a new commercial from Sonos targeted at ridding the world of a new disease, The Silent Home. Previewed to the press this week in Boston, the spot is effective at delivering its message and is perhaps the clearest advertising we’ve seen yet from Sonos. View it in advance of the Grammy’s right here (or on YouTube if you prefer that sort of thing).
Andy Grignon worked on many things during his tenure as an engineer at Apple: iChat AV, iSight, Dashboard … and the radios inside the very first iPhone. Andy took to Facebook last night to offer some reflections on that last bit, 10 years after iPhone’s announcement, and has posted them publicly for all to see. We’ve included the text here in our full article just in case you don’t have a Facebook account, but both his post and the comments over there are worth a read. Andy’s a colorful, honest, and reflective cat. Needless to say also quite smart. Enjoy!
LAS VEGAS – More than anything else, the question I’m most asked regarding not-yet-existent technology is, “when are we going to get wireless charging?” The answer, thanks to Energous, is “likely this year.” Energous has developed a technology that supports three ranges of wireless charging: near-field contactless, two-to-four feet, and ten-to-fifteen feet. We’ve all seen contactless charging with (some) cell phones and the Apple Watch, but anything beyond that seems like magic. In this video, that’s exactly what you’ll see. I also got to experience the same remote control charging from ten feet away. That’s because devices with Energous’ WattUp receivers can be charged by transmitters of any of the three distances. Contactless is available for manufacturers to use now, and Energous is working to have the remaining distances approved and available within the next year. Power is only sent to the device when a charge is needed and Bluetooth is used to allow the transmitter and receiver to negotiate the connection. The future appears to be right around the corner.
Our thanks to Elgato for joining us this year as a sponsor for TMO’s CES 2017 coverage. The effort, planning, and expense it takes to comb through all the noise at CES and bring you targeted, relevant coverage is quite large, and without our sponsors we wouldn’t be able to do it all for you. Elgato sees the value in this and was very quick to jump on board to ensure that you would get the very best of what we have to offer this year. We’re very thankful for that, and we hope you are, too.
The Elgato Thunderbolt 3 Dock enables you to connect everything to your MacBook Pro all at once. It allows you to use only one cable to charge your computer, drive dual displays, network at full Ethernet speeds and more – and harness the full potential of USB-C. They’ve boiled it down to something quite simple: One cable. No compromises.
Our sincere thanks to MacPaw, makers of Setapp, for being one of our CES 2017 Coverage Sponsors this year. MacPaw is immensely committed to the Apple community, and their commitment to sponsor our coverage is yet another sign of that. It takes a lot of work–and money–to get the team assembled here and back in the office to ensure plenty of qualtity, curated Apple-focused CES content, and having MacPaw on board to help us make sure that happens for you is truly special. Indeed, MacPaw’s Setapp shows a similar commitment to user-friendliness. Setapp is the Netflix of Mac software. With one monthly fee you get access to all the software available inside Setapp, no ads, no paid upgrades. Setapp has already lined up an impressive list of well-known Mac software for the service including Ulysses, RapidWeaver 7, Reveal, and Eltima Player and more.
I’ve been a fan of JBL’s portable Pulse bluetooth speakers since the first one was released three years ago. The reason? Cool lighting effects, full sound and, of course, Bluetooth wireless portability. With the Pulse 3, though, the game steps up to a whole new level. Whereas its predecessors were covered by a mesh with a low-resolution display of lights, the Pulse 3 sports a clear, plastic enclosure and hi-res LEDs that really (finally?) give it that true Lava Lamp-of-the-future look. You can customize the light effects with your iOS or Android device, giving you full control over both your audio and visual experience. Additionally, the Pulse 3 is now IPX7 waterproof, has a 12-hour battery, and supports JBL’s new Connect+ allowing you to sync your audio with up to 100 devices simultaneously. Wanna truly light up your pool party or just enjoy the visuals while listening to your favorite tunes? The JBL Pulse 3 will be released this spring, MSRP of $199.95
Our thanks to DigiDNA, makers of iMazing, for being a sponsor of TMO’s CES 2017 coverage this year. Bringing the team to Las Vegas to dig in and cull through all the noise to bring you targeted coverage is no small task. It takes a lot of planning, effort and, yes, money. DigiDNA sees the value in this and joined as a sponsor this year to help make sure we had the team in place to bring you the very best CES coverage for you, our Apple-focused audience. But there’s more, iMazing is one of those tools that should just come with every iPhone or iPad to be installed on your Mac or Windows machine. It takes over where iTunes leaves you hanging and truly lets you manage your iOS device with the simplicity and granularity that you need. Read more, including how to restore individual app data from your iOS backups!
Our sincere thanks to ProjectWizards, makers of Merlin Project, for joining us as a sponsor for TMO’s CES 2017 coverage. It takes a lot to get the TMO team to Las Vegas and effectively cull through the noise and cover a show like CES for you, and we sincerely appreciate ProjectWizards and Merlin Project for joining us this year. I’d also like to point out that ProjectWizards was always the very first sponsor on board for our legendary Cirque du Mac parties, too. The folks there really understand the importance of our Apple community and are always right there to support everything we all do. Read more here about just what Merlin Project can do for you, and even get a free trial to check it out!
As a reader of TMO and a listener of our podcasts, especially Mac Geek Gab, you see and hear us write and talk a lot about the various press events we attend. Many of these – Pepcom, ShowStoppers, and CES Unveiled – are very similar in nature. They’re like a trade show, with a few key differences. First, every vendor has basically the same-sized table at which to present their offerings. There are no big booths and no overly-flashy signs or anything of the sort. Everyone’s logos are well-presented, but mostly its about the products. The reason for this is the second key differentiator: all of the attendees are members of the media. There are no distributors there, no general consumers looking around, no aimless tire-kickers. Everyone is there to report about what they see. And, as you know, that’s what we do. With one exceptIon: we’ve never reported about what we see in general. We always show you specific things, but have never intentionally given you a glimpse of the event itself. Here, today, we change that with a look around inside CES Unveiled 2017, just about 15 minutes after the doors opened. Oh, and yes, there’s food. Yummy, tasty food. Enjoy!
Linksys, a brand known for some of the earliest wireless routers, today joins the the market of mesh Wi-Fi providers with their own mesh offering called Velop. Shown here at the CES 2017 Unveiled event, Belkin’s Linksys Velop is a welcome entrant to the home mesh wireless market with a unique tri-band solution that allows for completely dynamic assignment of each unit’s three 2×2 radios. Velop can work in point-to-point, mesh, star, line or tree configurations, choosing whichever is best or most-appropriate for the current wireless environment. Each radio in the system is automatically mapped to the best configuration, and Ethernet backhaul is automatically detected and supported, as well. In a market that’s becoming quite crowded, I find the Velop an interesting contender, combining some of the better aspects of both the eero and NETGEAR Orbi platforms, priced exactly the same as the eero. Units are available for pre-order today in three ($499), two ($349) and one-unit ($199) packages and will start shipping on January 15th. We’ll be getting units to test and will report back with our findings, adding them to our existing mesh Wi-Fi coverage.
I’m very happy to welcome The Omni Group as the first of our CES 2017 sponsors this year. It takes a lot of effort and, yes, money to mount effective coverage of a show like CES, and we’re very fortunate to have a company like The Omni Group on board with us this year to help make it happen.The Omni Group is an independent Mac and iOS development shop located in Seattle, Washington. They understand the importance of focus, and they work on four apps: OmniFocus, OmniGraffle, OmniPlan, and OmniOutliner. Read more about all of these and support these great folks.
We’d like to thank Digiarty, makers of MacX DVD Ripper Pro, for sponsoring The Mac Observer this week. Long-time readers of TMO will know Digiarty as the folks who make apps for managing your media in ways that Apple’s tools won’t, and this time is no exception. Right now Digiarty is offering a “Christmas Giveaway” of MacX DVD Ripper Pro, their app for easily ripping, clipping and extracting audio from DVDs. The promo starts now and runs through January 5, 2017. There are a limited number of copies available per day so go get yours now!
Sonos and Amazon jointly announced their Alexa integration earlier this year and the world rejoiced. Voice control of your Sonos system is one of those holy grails. The integration is expected to be available at some point in 2017. But I’m an impatient geek so, while I’m waiting for official support to be available, I spent an hour yesterday getting this working using freely-available open-source tools. You can do this, too, and I’ll walk you through what you’re doing and how to get started.