Page 3 of 39

Current C minus

Great catch from The Loop’s Dave Mark from Apple’s earnings call:

Remember the MCX Consortium, the competing transaction processing system from Walmart, et al? One of their high profile members is Best Buy. As a reminder, there was a lot of discussion when MCX started out about members being restricted from taking Apple Pay.

Now recall that Cook announced today that Best Buy is (present tense) accepting Apple Pay in its stores.

Mark calls it “a pretty solid crack in the consortium.” I’d say that’s a fair description.

New MakerBot iOS app turns 2D drawings into 3D shapes

MakerBot released an update to PrintShop, its iOS app that takes drawings and sketches and turns them into 3D printable files.

From the press release: “Our goal with the MakerBot PrintShop app is to make 3D printing more accessible and empower anyone to easily create 3D designs,” said Joey Neal, chief experience officer with MakerBot. “All it takes is a pen and a piece of white paper to create a drawing that can then be 3D printed using the new MakerBot Shape Maker feature. If you can draw a sketch, you can use MakerBot Shape Maker to transform your creations from the flat 2D world of pen and paper to the exciting 3D world of 3D printing.”

While 3D printing is still nowhere near ready for mass consumption, it’s getting closer all the time. The key is to get it beyond printing highly specialized things like spare parts for your dishwasher or vanity action figures of yourself. Easy to use apps like PrintShop are going to make that happen. (And faster print times. That’s a biggie.)

Again, from the press release:

How it Works
Shape Maker on MakerBot PrintShop is easy to use. Just open the MakerBot PrintShop iPad app, select Shape Maker and snap a photo with the iPad’s camera of a drawing or an item that has a distinct contrast and simple lines in its design. Use the slider tools to select the areas of the drawing to 3D print and scale; when all of the items or lines that are to be 3D printed turn green, choose a background select print or save right from the screen. Files saved will be accessible in the MakerBot Cloud Library and can be accessed through personal accounts on Thingiverse.com, the world’s largest 3D design destination for viewing, sharing and 3D printing digital designs. Files printed can be sent via Wi-Fi directly to a MakerBot Replicator Desktop 3D Printer, MakerBot Replicator Mini Compact 3D Printer or a MakerBot Replicator Z18 3D Printer. For those who want to change the size of their finished print, it is recommended that the item be accessed via MakerBot Desktop for sizing and scaling to fit the 3D printer that is being used. To see Shape Maker for MakerBot PrintShop in action, go to vimeo.com/makerbot.

The iPad at five: How we saw it then

It’s been five years since the first iPad shipped (although the device was announced several months earlier.) Here’s a look at what we thought of the original iPad back then — in two articles for The MacObserver and one interview on Mac Voices.

Love It or Leave It: Extremist Views on iPad Obscure the Important Points

There were two predictions I made that didn’t materialize, though. The first was a front-facing camera. I was hoping Apple believes it’s time for mobile version of video iChat. But even more than that, I’ve come to rely on the camera in my iPhone for a host of utilities not having anything to do with taking photographs or video. No, the real power in the iPhone’s camera comes from things like “augmented reality” apps; apps like Red Laser that scan products and search the Internet for information and prices; apps that let you add a bottle of wine to a database — even apps that act as document scanners.

The second unrealized prediction was something much less tangible, but much more important. I said that the real key feature for Apple to include was something no one had figured out — something that we never knew we wanted, but — once Apple showed it — none of us would want to live without. Admittedly, that’s easy to say. It’s like the old joke about teaching someone how to become a millionaire: Step One — get a million dollars. But for me, it was crucial in order for Apple to make the iPad a truly compelling device. I was looking for something the iPad could do that I couldn’t do with either my iPhone or my MacBook Pro. Something that would make me forego the convenience of having a device that fits in my pocket; something that would sway me from just taking my laptop as long as I was going to have to carry something anyway. Without that, the iPad risks remaining a novelty — a very cool one, no doubt — but a novelty nonetheless, attractive to a niche market.

The iPad’s Killer App: It’s Not A Computer

That Apple never refers to the iPad as a computer is no accident. That Apple routinely refers to the iPad as magical is not being trite. Computers are scary, full of arcane commands and file systems and viruses. Technology is intimidating, reserved for younger generations and geeks with chin beards who speak of mega-this and giga-that. An iPad is friendly, inviting and — in spite of its capabilities — simple. A computer responds to commands. An iPad anticipates desires. And as OS updates and apps evolve, its abilities will expand ever further in empowering yet incremental and incrementally intuitive ways.

The iPad will not replace laptops — at least not right away. We geeks will use it as something that fits into a heretofore unimagined “gap” between the iPhone and a laptop, and the non-geeks who buy an iPad would never have bought a laptop anyway.

MacVoices #1009: Chuck La Tournous Delivers A Different Perspective on The iPad

Like the rest of us, RandomMaccess chief Chuck La Tournous has been waiting for the announcement of Apple’s iPad, but with different expectations. Chuck explains where the iPad fits (or doesn’t fit) in the Apple product matrix, and why he won’t be in line to buy one right now. While there are similarities, Chuck doesn’t see the iPad launch as the same as the iPhone launch, and discusses why this may make a difference as in the adoption rate. The discussion also covers the lack of Flash and why that isn’t as important as it once was, the ebook capabilities of the iPad and whether it will successfully challenge the Kindle, and more.

‘WonderCube:’ A multi-function keyring for your phone

Clever idea. It’s a USB/lightning cable, card reader, phone stand, light and emergency charger — all wrapped up in a 1″ cube that attaches to a keyring. It’s already over its IndieGogo goal of $50,000 (over $63.4K as of this posting.) At its retail price of $70, I’m less of a fan, but the $50 early bird price seems reasonable.

Especially clever is the emergency charging feature. A flip of lid reveals a 9-volt battery connector that the company says can provide 3.5 hours of talk time.

App Camp for Girls expands program to new cities

I’m a big fan of App Camp for Girls, the Portland, Oregon-based organization whose mission is “to empower girls by providing engaging and accessible educational programs in software development.”

Founded by my friend Jean MacDonald, co-founder of Smile Software, App Camp for Girls “seeks to address the gender imbalance in technology professions by inspiring middle-school age girls with a broad introduction to the process of app development, from brainstorming and designing ideas to building and pitching their apps.” It’s a terrific goal and I was thrilled to hear that the group is expanding its presence to other areas of the country, including my own Garden State.

The rub? The deadline for applying is March 17th and the program is open to girls local to the camp’s location, who will be entering 8th or 9th grade in Fall 2015.

Dates and Locations for Summer 2015

    Vancouver, BC: July 6-10, 2015
    Seattle, WA: July 13-17, 2015
    Central New Jersey: July 20-24, 2015
    Portland, OR: July 27-31, 2015
    Portland, OR: August 17-21, 2015

If you have — or know — a girl who qualifies, do whatever it takes to get her registered. You could change her life.

Watching the watch watchers

In just a few hours, the speculation about the Apple Watch will be over (at least most of it) and we’ll have cold hard facts, lots of finger pointing about who got what wrong, and lots of spinning to explain how someone may have gotten it wrong, but they really didn’t mean it that way so they were actually right. We’ll also get a few people blaming Apple for their own wrong guesses. (Those are my favorite.)

For me, the most interesting questions have been around how much the watch will cost in its various iterations and what kind of upgrade path there will be (if any.)

On pricing, I’ll take the under on pretty much any published speculation. I agree with a lot of what Kirk McElhearn had to say on the topic:

The Apple Watch Edition is not a luxury watch; it’s just a gold-cased version of the cheaper watch. There’s nothing exclusive about it, nothing special. It’s not like more expensive watches where you pay for complex machinery. Yes, there is gold; that will make it more expensive than the other models. But not that much. Estimates of the cost of the gold suggest that the metal would cost less than $1,000.

As such, I think the list price for the base model Apple Watch Edition will be $1,999. There will certainly be a price differential by size, and it could be a couple hundred dollars for this version. In addition, the watchbands will cost as much as several hundred dollars. There’s just no reason to pay more. I repeat, this is not a luxury watch; this is a smartwatch with a gold case.

I’ve been saying all along that the Apple Watch, for all its fashion focus, is still primarily a piece of technology. A Rolex doesn’t cost tens of thousands of dollars just because of the weight of the gold in it. It cost what it does because it’s a finely crafted, mechanically complex piece of machinery-slash-jewelry, and it has the Rolex name on it. It — and other luxury watches — are heirlooms, designed and priced to be handed down from generation to generation. An Apple Watch may be finely crafted and technologically complex, but it it will be obsolete someday — probably someday soon. There is no Rolex 1.0, but there will almost certainly be an Apple Watch 2.0.

That’s why I think Daring Fireball’s John Gruber is off base. I think he sees the Apple Watch as a luxury watch — the former on equal terms with the latter. I also have trouble with the sheer number of SKUs (price points) he sees. Between different prices for watch sizes and bands, Gruber estimates 16 different price points. That feels unwieldy to me. Although I agree that the different bands have to come at different prices, it doesn’t seem Apple-like to me to charge different prices for each size of the watch. And before you start pointing out the price differences between a 16, 64 and 128MB iPhone, I don’t equate watch size with something like storage capacity.

Who knows? Maybe my pricing speculation is more wishful thinking than analysis, but I sure hope Gruber is wrong this time.

What about upgradability? If the Apple Watch is indeed going to be seen as more of an heirloom than an iPad, it needs to have some protection from obsolescence. There are two ways to do that: Make the innards of the watch easily swappable with new versions, or offer a buyback program to soften the blow of buying that Apple Watch 2.0. The first solution works if you think the styling of the Apple Watch is set for a good long time. That seems a long shot, given Jonny Ive’s and the company’s propensity for better, faster, thinner. Swapping out new “watch guts” also seems like a logistical challenge: Would Apple Store employees have to be trained in watchmaking so they could make the upgrade on the spot? Would one simply trade in your old watch for a new one, with Apple doing the recycling later? Or would there be a delay involved: Drop off your old watch and wait for it to be shipped to Cupertino (or China or Texas), upgraded and sent back to you or your local store? All that hassle makes a buyback program make more sense to me, but would Apple even address such a far-in-the-future issue at this event? Maybe not.

And then there’s the question of battery life — not just how many hours in a charge, but how many charges in a battery’s lifetime. If Apple is going to charge a premium for the watch — if it is going to be something we pass down to our children, there has to be a reasonable process to replace the battery. A watch that has to be charged every night is one thing; one that has to be charged several times a day because the battery’s old? That’s just not workable.

Even beyond the cost questions, I’m looking forward to hearing more about what the watch can do. Did we hear about all it’s features last fall? I doubt it. I’m eager to hear more about battery life

In any case, we’ll have at least some of the answers in a few short hours. At $349, I’m almost certainly in the market — if for nothing else than to be able to write about it. But I’m holding out hope that the stainless steel version is within my reach, and that Apple will have the right answers to all these questions.

© 2016 RandomMaccess

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑