The Amazon Echo family of devices shouldn’t be underestimated. We talk about how it appears to be a device for casual questions, weather, music and shopping. But the underlying technology is going after something much bigger. Moreover, Amazon’s lead over Apple in AI and home automation may be unstoppable. John looks at two articles that provide insight into what Amazon is after in the long run.
Recent Articles By John Martellaro [RSS]
The Apple TV has taken a beating lately. The current model is barely state-of-the art. Companies like Amazon, Netflix and Roku have leapt ahead of Apple in 4K/UHD, leaving the Apple TV in 4th place amongst customers. Now we know why, thanks to a Bloomberg report. The question is, can Apple fix the product and make it a winner again?
According to Home Media Magazine, “The free Movie of the Day app on Apple TV gives consumers a 24-hour window to buy some of the most popular movies from the Fox catalog for $4.99 to $9.99 — up to 75% off. Fox reports the app, previously launched for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, boasts a loyal following of close to 90% of monthly users returning and engaging with the app daily.” Upcoming dates and titles: Feb. 15-Deadpool; Feb. 16-Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters; Feb. 17-Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates and Feb. 18-Epic. Feb 14th launched with Kingsman.
From time to time, we’ve seen scenarios related to how the Mac/macOS and the iPad/iOS might evolve as personal computing platforms. We know about the declining sales of the iPad and Apple’s seeming inattention to the Mac line as whole in 2016. In turn, that has created some discussion about their respective future developments. John catalogs the likely and not-so-likely roadmaps for these products.
Dr. Christine C. Moran is an astrophysicist who specializes in computational astrophysics, high performance computing and big data visualization. She’s interested in the gravitational force, which she’s described as the most beautiful and mysterious of all of nature’s fundamental forces. In her undergraduate life, she studied both physics and philosophy, great background for her Ph.D. in astrophysics from the University of Zurich. Along the way, she’s also worked for, notably, SpaceX and the M.I.T. Media Lab. She’s also a Mac user and iOS app developer. We talked about her interest in gravity, computation, and hobbies: flying and martial arts (Kung Fu). Also, in November, 2016, she returned from the South Pole (radio) telescope where she did research on the Cosmic Microwave Background. Come take a cosmic journey with John and Christine as she tells her story.
Recently, Vizio agreed to pay the Federal Trade Commission and the state of New Jersey a total of US$2.2M to settle a complaint that it spied on its TV customers. It’s an unexpected and sorry state of affairs when a new, beautiful, expensive 4K/UHD TV is also reporting on your viewing habits. John offers some advice on how to put a stop to that spying.
Apple is a real company, producing real products and there are quantifiable facts about the company. How well we create a picture of Apple as a company depends on how we assess the reliability of our understanding. That means looking at certain facts with keen understanding and, more importantly, updating our estimations based on new facts. John, as you might expect, gets into physics and Bayesian logic. But don’t worry. It’s a fun ride.
This new product caught my eye because its so darn cool. Consider: a replaceable Li-ion 16 amp-hour battery in a nifty suitcase (16 x 12 x 4 inches), 13 lbs, with 2 x 10 watt solar panels built into the lid that can charge it in about six hours. Outputs include 110 volts AC, 2 x 12 volts DC and 4 x USB (6 amps). You can also charge it from your car or AC power. The battery packs enough energy to charge an iPad Air six times, an iPhone 32 times or a small notebook five times (40 W-h). Perfect for the camper, and it’s now available, under $600.00.
Jonathan Bernstein is an attorney. He’s an Apple product expert. He’s worked for the Federal Election Commission. He’s on the board of directors of the legendary Washington, D.C. Apple Pi Users Group. He’s involved with the Silver Spring, Maryland Citizens Advisory Board where he’s active in facilitating communication between citizens and local government. Oh, my. After Jonathan told me a little bit about his background, being the son of a rabbi father and pediatrician mother, it soon became clear where his roots of public service originated. Out of law school, he clerked for a judge in the U.S. Claims Court, and that eventually connected him to the FEC. We chatted about Jonathan’s unique gift for bringing people together utilizing technology. He’ll inspire you with collaboration methods you never realized were possible.
The evolution of robots and androids, it seems, is progressing at an exponential rate. Collaborative research, the development of robotic technologies and AI together are putting ‘droids in hotels and airports. Soon, like Alexa, our homes. Where is Apple?
Depending on usage and the watchOS version, most Apple Watch users find themselves routinely charging their watch every night out of caution or necessity. But what if one is camping and has no access to electrical power? Or otherwise unable to charge the Apple Watch as expected. Wouldn’t it be nice to have an interchangeable Apple Watch band that could provide backup power? A good collection of bands means one could wear the AW all the time, says our Bryan Chaffin, and that means opportunity for sleep tracking, says our Jeff Gamet. Patently Apple (thanks guys) has the story. This would be great news if Apple pursues it.
From Publisher’s Weekly: “Whatever the causes for the decrease in e-book sales, the decline has resulted in something that many publishing experts thought would never happen—unit sales of hardcovers overtook unit sales of e-books.” Yep, you read that right. John explains what’s going on.
Some observers have suggested that the smartphone is at the end of its technical life. They say it’s time to move on to the Next Big Thing. During Apple’s Q1 2017 Earnings Report, an analyst asked Tim Cook about the future of the iPhone. Has it reached technical maturity? Will we continue to see new features? Here’s how Tim Cook responded. Plus John’s analysis.
On January 9th, TMO published our Background Mode interview with producer Rod Roddenberry. As part of that podcast, Rod generously provided TMO with three copies of his new release, The Rodddenberry Vault, on Blu-ray, to give away. The three randomly selected winners, who correctly answered a question about the podcast audio, have been announced.
Maryn McKenna is a science journalist and author. Her undergraduate degree was in 16th century theater and 20th century poetry. That led to a small theater company, but after a few years, she realized that a paying job would be a very good idea. When Maryn realized she really wanted to be a writer, she was off to graduate school and journalism. After graduation, she discovered that the only jobs in journalism were business related. That led to a career in investigative journalism and eventually, she landed with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution covering the CDC. In time, Maryn became an expert on bioterrorism, the over use of antibiotics with both humans and animals, superbugs, food policy and the CDC’s Epidemic Intelligence Service. (Yes, that’s real.) Her stories, at times, were scary, so brace yourself.
Apple is our most favored company for perfectly good reasons. Or so we think. And yet there are people who despise the company. How can both attitudes be right? The reason for this duality may depend on a particular kind of thinking called cognitive bias. John Martellaro explains. Or, at least, he thinks he’s explaining.