It’s not surprising that Apple is warming up to the idea of machine intelligence and AI agents with its $200 million purchase of Turi. The company needs to do that to remain competitive with Google and Microsoft. But, over and above that, the beneficial side effects will have even deeper implications for Apple as a company and its future.
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One of my favorite actresses, Amy Adams, plays a linguist, charged with understanding the alien visitor’s language. It seems the arrival of very smart science fiction films like Ex Machina, Interstellar and The Martian are inspiring a new breed. This looks to be one of them. Coming November 11th.
The early iPads were a sensation. It seemed that Steve Jobs had brought forth the successor to the Mac. However, things have not gone as planned with the iPad, and Apple is scrambling to construct a clearer branding and imperative for the iPad. Even Microsoft senses the difficulty and has poked fun at Apple’s newfound toaster-fridge mentality.
Peter Cohen is the managing editor of the Backblaze blog. Previously, he’s written for Macworld, The Loop and iMore. Peter talked about how, as a kid, he had a TI-99/4A with bit-mapped graphics. He drew images on graph paper, converted the patterns to Hexadecimal codes and wrote to the display with Basic. The result was color graphics of spaceships shooting at each other. When he first saw the 1984 Macintosh with MacPaint, “it was like the top of my head blew off.” In the second segment, Peter and I chat about how Tim Cook is doing, Apple and its desktop Macs, whether the iPad Pros can replace the Mac and robotics. Peter is very much tuned in and speaks with wisdom on all these subjects. You’ll want to tune in too.
The science fiction writer Robert Heinlein reminded us that there’s no such thing as a free lunch. (TANSTAFL). The same applies to TV. If you watch TV over the air, there will be commercials. Lots. If you subscribe to cable, most channels will also have commercials. If you stream or buy content that doesn’t have commercials (Blu-ray or the OTT services) you will pay what the industry sees fit for you. While cord cutting looks to be appealing cost-wise, for now, the industry is never going to settle for decreased revenues in the long run. A recent Hulu decision proves that.
It seems that too many corporations and banks want to create rival alternatives to Apple Pay. They have their own agenda for inserting themselves into the payment process, but always seem to forget that putting themselves ahead of the customer with half-baked, potentially problematic systems is never the right thing to do. Most will have to learn the hard way.
Much has been written now about the moral guidance for autonomous cars and trucks. It’s a difficult problem that involves quantifying then instantiating into software the logic of life and death decisions. It would be nice for society to have more time to ponder, but the pace of technology leaves us precious little time for that. Machines are going to make moral decisions very soon. Shall we let them?
Apple is long overdue for a refresh of its Macintosh line. The last Mac mini update was October 2014. The 2013 Mac Pro has never been updated. The last MacBook Pro (15-inch) was updated in May of 2015. The company still sells a 2012 13-inch MacBook Pro with a SuperDrive. Only the iMac and MacBook lines are less than a year old. The Verge lays it all out and questions why Apple isn’t keeping most of its Macs more current. Yet there are glimmers of hope. It’s all on page 2 of Friday’s Particle Debris.
Dan Burcaw is a former Apple Senior Manager and founder of several notable businesses. In 1999, Dan was the co-founder and CTO of Terra Soft Solutions, developers of the legendary Yellow Dog Linux. That Linux, running on PowerPC was well received by the U.S. Government, businesses and the U.S. Navy. Later, after graduating from college, he worked for Apple as a Senior Manager in retail. In 2008, he founded Double Encore in Denver, a company that specialized in producing iOS apps for clients such as The PGA Tour and Turner Broadcasting. Most recently, Dan was a Senior Director, Product Management at Oracle where he led efforts to build a mobile app marketing capability. Dan is currently working on his next big, secret project. Come listen as Dan describes his fascinating career arc.
Computers play better chess than humans. They can be instructed on how to do detailed manufacturing, beyond the abilities of humans. They shrewdly buy and sell stock. They can read medical literature and aid in the treatment of disease. It won’t be long before even the last bastion of the human mind, creative writing, will be replaced by AI agents. John looks at the trend line.
Apple has been nibbling around the edges of the TV experience for a long time. The Apple TV has been a good start, and the recent emphasis on the 4th generation Apple TV and apps has been good. And yet, Apple hasn’t really closed the loop for a complete viewing experience and has delivered only pieces of the needed hardware. John fantasizes a bit. But with logic.
The Perseus smart mirror is a Kickstarter project. It’s a hybrid mirror and display of the home screen of your smartphone via Wi-Fi. The developers explain: “Imagine this: a weather alert pops up while you are brushing your teeth and reminds you to bring your umbrella. As you adjust your hair, a text message from your boss appears at the bottom of the screen. Best of all, there’s no need to put down that hair product – the mirror is controlled through simple voice recognition menus…. It looks like something right out of a sci-fi movie.” It really does. This Kickstarter project is almost halfway to its funding goal, and delivery is expected in April 2017. Early bird slots are filled, but you can get in now for US$219.
It’s 10 meters long and 2 meters high. It’s made of discrete transistors and LEDs. You can actually see what’s going on. Is it a real working computer? Yes. Can you program it? Yes. Why was it made? The developer, James Newman, says, “Computers are quite opaque, looking at them it’s impossible to see how they work. What I would like to do is get inside and see what’s going on. Trouble is we can’t shrink down small enough to walk inside a silicon chip. But we can go the other way; we can build the thing big enough that we can walk inside it. Not only that we can also put LEDs on everything so we can actually SEE the data moving and the logic happening.” Behold, the Megaprocessor
Apple Pay is technically very cool. It has many devoted fans and is growing overall. However, despite its popularity in geek circles, it is not being embraced by the majority of those who are capable of using it. The problem has many aspects that, altogether, create a continuing challenge for Apple. A recent analysis of Apple Pay delves deeply into its slower than desired adoption.
People are walking around, staring at their iPhones, mesmerized by messages and selfies. They’re reading lurid news, glued to YouTube videos and immersing themselves in Pokémon GO. Is this robotic behavior slowly replacing typical human behavior? Is it happening faster than robots can become more human? Could robots someday role reverse and become more human than we used to be? Page 2 of Friday’s Particle Debris expands the initial discussion and leaves us to ponder.
Tim DeBenedictis is the co-developer of the astronomy sky charting app SkySafari. He’s now the Director of Mobile Application Development at Simulation Curriculum Corp. Tim was first inspired by the sky as a youth going on camping trips and being able to see the stars at night, something city dwellers seldom see. His dad was an avid bird watcher and always had a birding scope on the trips. One night, they pointed the scope at Jupiter and its moons. Tim described it as captivating and launched his interest in amateur astronomy. Later, that led to being a planetary science major at M.I.T. where he developed an extensive C++ code base for celestial mechanics. Years later, with that expertise, he co-developed SkySafari for the Mac, iOS and Android. Come take a grand celestial tour with us.
It’s a battle between two corporate giants. In one corner we have Apple. In the other corner is the networks. Neither side needs the other. Each side would like to gain, by agreement, from the other’s strengths. Neither side wants to give in much, thinking they know a lot about their own industry. How will it end? Which side is better prepared for the future?
John has had his 2015 MacBook with its single USB-C port for a little over a year now. Here’s his complete first report on life with that Macintosh notebook and daily life with USB-C. Did he regret an early engagement with USB-C? Read on.
When Apple was struggling to gain acceptance in the marketplace, it was profitable to surge relentlessly forward, leaving the enterprise behind and mesmerizing the consumer. Nowadays, Apple tends to nurture the markets it has while seeking new avenues for growth. This makes it harder to estimate Apple’s future prospects. Yet, investors are starting to appreciate the nuances.
It might be tempting to think about the Apple TV as a hardware device, and its associated revenue combined with apps that deliver content and the associated revenue collected by Apple. But, during Apple’s 2016 Q3 earnings report, CEO Tim Cook said that we should think about the Apple TV in a different way.