TMO Daily Observations 2016-11-23: Apple's Automation Plans, Thanksgiving Tech Tips

· · The Mac Observer's Daily Observations Podcast

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Apple’s Craig Federighi says the company isn’t abandoning automation tools on the Mac, but the way he said it wasn’t reassuring. John Martellaro and Kelly Guimont join Jeff Gamet to share their thoughts on what’s in store for system-level Mac automation tools, plus Kelly has some tips for helping our less tech-savvy family and friends over the Thanksgiving holiday.

Apple's Intent Isn't the Same as Committing to Mac Automation

· · Analysis

Apple may not be committed to Mac automation and scripting

Last week Sal Soghoian announced his job as Apple’s Manager of Automation Technologies had been eliminated, and this week senior vice president of Software Engineering Craig Federighi says Apple intends to continue supporting scripting technologies on the Mac. That’s a little reassuring, although “intending to support” is a far cry from “committed to continue developing.”

PowerTime Apple Watch Charging Dock with 3 USB Ports: $39

· · TMO Deals

PowerTime Apple Watch Charging Dock with 3 USB Ports

Check out the PowerTime Apple Watch Charging Dock with 3 USB Ports. The name is pretty self-explanatory—this is a charging dock for your Apple Watch that includes 3 USB ports for charging your other devices. The surface where you rest your Apple Watch is coated in silicone, and it’s designed to be used with your charging puck. You can get this device for $39 through our deal, a 20% savings.

Glass iPhone Case Designed to Show Off Jet Black Finish

· · Cool Stuff Found

SwitchEasy has a new case for iPhone aimed particularly at Jet Black iPhone 7 owners who want to show off that Jet Black finish and have a case, too. The case is called Glass, and the back is made out of hardened glass (7H on the Mohs’ scale of hardness). The company says it has 90% optical transparency, and it was designed with a 1mm gap between the phone and the back of the Glass. That’s to minimize contact with the case to preserve that Jet Black finish. It has a retail price of $39.99.

Glass iPhone Case Designed to Show Off Jet Black Finish

Magic Square Puzzle for iPhone, a Fun Game for Numbers Nerds

· · Cool Stuff Found

I found a fun new mathy kind of puzzle game for you called Magic Square Puzzle. It’s from Japanese developer Tristore, and it’s pretty cool. Borrowing from a number of disparate flavors of such games, it gives you a grid of numbers. Your job is to arrange them in order so that every row adds up to a certain number. At the “Easy” level, you only have to line up the horizontal rows, and there are only three rows. At the hard level, you have a 4 x 4 grid, and you have to line up the horizontal and vertical rows, as well as two horizontal rows. That’s well beyond my ability to solve, but there are four levels of difficulty. Oh, and you can’t drag any number to any square you want. Instead, by sliding a number up, down, or sideways, you rotate the entire row. Numbers fiends will love this stuff. One last thing: in the screenshots below, I cut out the ads at the top of the screen. On the other hand, the game is free and there are no in-app purchases. Personally, I’d love an in-app purchase to go ad-free.

Magic Square Puzzle for iPhone, a Fun Game for Numbers Nerds

Samsung's New Smartphone Innovation: Jet Black

· · News

Samsung Galaxy S7 gets jet black color option

Samsung has an idea for goosing Galaxy S7 smartphone sales: make a jet black model. The glossy black version is reportedly a move to compete with Apple’s latest iPhone color option, and an effort to boost sales following the Galaxy Note 7 explode-a-phone debacle.

Wi-Fi Mesh Systems Compared: eero, Orbi, AmpliFi

· · Deep Dive

The future of home Wi-Fi is mesh networking, a new approach to consumer wireless networks that includes smart management and multiple radios designed to handle the load of today’s gadgets. If you’ve been fighting with range extenders and other solutions to broaden your Wi-Fi coverage and keep your streams alive, you can now stop all that silliness and blanket your home with Wi-Fi. The future is here, and that future is mesh networking.

Apple Announces 2016 Black Friday Sale, No Details Available Yet

· · Cool Stuff Found

Apple announced its Black Friday sale for 2016. Black Friday is the only day of the year Apple offers discounts on its products, and the company skipped Black Friday altogether last year. Apple sent out an email to customers pointing to a placeholder page for Black Friday. That page has no details, but says, “Our one-day shopping event will be here before you know it. Come back this Friday to check everyone off your list.” Both the email and the placeholder page feature an Apple Watch with Friday, November 25th, marked on the face. Seems likely that Apple Watches will be included in the sale, but you never know with Apple.

Apple Announces 2016 Black Friday Sale, No Details Available Yet

Designed By Apple in California Book Leaps from Print to Video

· · Cool Stuff Found

Apple’s new coffee table book showing the history of its products in photographs is a beautiful representation of the company’s designs. Most of those products, it turns out, are in Stephen Hackett from 512 Pixels personal collections, so he put together a video showing his collection along side Apple’s photos. It’s cool to see the original iPod and iPhone, G4 Cube, iBook, next to their photos. It’s also proof Apple sold at least one set of iPod socks. You can check out Stephen’s video on YouTube.

TMO Background Mode: Interview with the Founder of olloclip Patrick O'Neil

· · Background Mode Podcast

Patrick O’Neil grew up in a family of photographers, and so designing a portable, add-on lens set for the iPhone was a natural thing to do. It all started as a Kickstarter project over five years ago at his kitchen table. Immediately successful with the iPhone 4, Patrick, along with his partner, was able to launch the olloclip company and has built these amazing lens kits ever since. The olloclip lens system is designed to have different creative options in your pocket: macro, fisheye, wide-angle or telephoto. We talked about the optics and engineering of these lenses, the mobility emphasis, keeping up with Apple’s changes, and how the product has evolved. Here’s Patrick’s story: from kitchen table to a company with almost 50 people readying the new lenses for the iPhone 7 and (joy!) the 7 Plus.

TMO Daily Observations 2016-11-21: Farewell AirPort Extreme, MacBook Pro Touch Bar First Impressions

· · The Mac Observer's Daily Observations Podcast

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Apple’s wireless routers look like they’re headed down the same path as the now defunct Thunderbolt Display. Dave Hamilton and Bryan Chaffin join Jeff Gamet to look at the state of Apple’s WiFi router lineup, and explain why they think it’s fine the AirPort Extreme, AirPort Express, and Time Capsule are heading out to pasture. They also offer up their thoughts on the new Retina MacBook Pro’s Touch Bar.

The Surface Studio Reviews Have Arrived, and They're Very Positive

· · Link

Microsoft Surface Studio PC

According to CNET, “Microsoft’s ambitious love letter to creative professionals is the touchscreen iMac of your dreams.” That’s the Surface Studio, and the reviews, which are now starting to appear in print, back up the original assessment that this is a beautiful, functional, innovative computer for creative professionals. While not perfect in the first version, it has the capacity to cause these professionals to take Microsoft much more seriously in this market than before.  Page 2 of Particle Debris sizes up this challenge to Apple.

When Your Mac Acts Up, Try This First

· · Dr. Mac's Rants & Raves

If you see Safe Boot in the upper right corner of your screen, it worked; if not, try again.

Dr. Mac prescribes a pair of painless, safe, and relatively quick procedures that can often fix whatever’s ailing your Mac and save you a trip to the Genius Bar. His experience is that these two techniques fix many types of wonkiness in ten minutes or less.

Apple Watch Users get 5K Challenge for Thanksgiving

· · News

Apple Watch 5K Thanksgiving Challenge

Apple Watch owners got a special challenge Monday morning when Apple urged them to walk, run, or wheelchair 3.1 miles, or 5K, on November 24th. That’s the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday, so instead of spending the day binging on turkey, pie, and watching football, Apple is pushing to get people outside and active by offering a special Thanksgiving Day Challenge badge.

Apple Quietly Kills AirPort Extreme by Breaking Up Wireless Router Team

· · News

Apple kills AirPort wireless routers by disbanding the engineering team

There’s a good chance the next time you buy a Wi-Fi router for you Mac, iPhone and iPad network it won’t come from Apple. The company reassigned the engineers from its wireless networking team to other projects and doesn’t have plans to continue developing its AirPort Extreme, AirPort Express, and Time Capsule products.