13 March 2018

Communities Dominate Brands: “Smartphone Stats: Full Year 2017 Top 10, OS Installed Base and everything else you ever wanted”

By the way, for those who ‘hate Apple’ (and please don’t count me into that group…). If you want to see the glass really really less than half full… Apple sales were flat in a year that was flat. Out of the Top 5, all other 4 manufacturers GREW their sales – Samsung by 3%, BBK by 29%, Huawei by 10% and Xiaomi by 70%. Don’t fall into the silly trap to think, that Apple is somehow ‘doing fine’. It is LOSING the battle. Market share down AGAIN and now the reality is starting to come home to various developers, especially in the Emerging World, that actually, all you need is Android. This is EXACTLY the same disaster that hit the Mac world back way before Apple went close to bankruptcy. The believers were finally forced to face reality, that even as the Mac was far superior - as a user interface – to the early Windows – the Windows personal computers were ‘good enough’ and most users wanted the major platform. And then the developers stopped supporting the tiny platform. The Mac OS never had 10% market share. iOS touched twice that, but is headed towards similar levels to ten percent. Currently at 14% and still declining. Now, if Apple ‘wanted to’ – it COULD reverse this decline. But will they do that, or will they just continue to milk the rich users, until the users get fed up with paying the iTax? Who knows. Currently Apple is the richest company in the world. It won’t remain that if it continues to abuse its customers. But still today, iPhone loyalty and customer satisfaction is incredibly strong. Apple has a long time to figure out what it wants. Yet, as I’ve said for years, the mistake of abandoning the future will come back to haunt Apple. Now most sane people see that iOS is a niche market, and only Android is a mass market. I told you so ten years ago…

Tomi Ahonen

A good reminder for people living in Apple’s alternate reality that there’s a whole other world outside their pristine walled garden – a world where Apple is all but irrelevant. Measuring yearly sales is a better way to compare the performance of different manufacturers, considering how the companies release their flagship phones in different quarters.

12 March 2018

All this: “Timers, reminders, alarms—oh, my!”

The number of alerts that can be set was the starting point for the last post. People want multiple timers in their HomePods. That’s great, but Apple’s never had multiple timers in any iOS device, which is why I’ve always used reminders instead. “Reminders aren’t a substitute for timers!” I’ve been told by several people. I admire your steadfast adherence to your principles, but I need a solution, not a manifesto. (We’ll get to the deficiencies of using reminders as a substitute for timers later in the post.)

Since there’s only one timer, there’s no need for it to have a name or description. So when the timer on your phone/watch/table/speaker goes off, you might have to think a bit before you remember what it’s for. Alarms and reminders don’t have this problem.

Dr. Drang

Well, that’s one way to explain why you can’t set more than one timer on the HomePod: no other Apple device can! I noticed this myself a couple of months ago, when I saw that Windows 10’s Alarm app lets you set multiple, named timers – surprisingly useful for washing clothes. Crazy that this is still a limitation in the Apple ecosystem!

09 March 2018

More on the Apple HomePod

You could say I’m spending too much of my time reading about a product I’m never going to buy, but in the last weeks the HomePod has been constantly present in my Twitter feed. Since I’m planning on switching to Android next time I upgrade my smartphone, I might want to consider unfollowing some Apple people and diversifying my feed. Still, some of the remarks confirm my own conclusions about Apple, the state of their software and AI efforts.

08 March 2018

The Verge: “Canon made a flash that automatically figures out the best direction to point”

The 470EX-AI looks just like every other Canon Speedlite, but it has motors inside at the base and hinge, and a sensor in the corner of the face of the flash. When you double tap the shutter button on your camera, the flash points out at the subject, calculates the distance, then points itself at the ceiling and does the same. Right after that, the flash reorients itself one last time into what it “thinks” is the best direction to achieve the perfect bounce light for your subject.

The new flash is a delightful idea, the kind we’re actually starting to see slightly more of from Canon lately. But there are some limitations. For one thing, if you let the flash pick a spot, and then you move to recompose your photo, you have to do the whole process over again or else the light will bounce in the wrong direction. The flash can also only work its magic on ceilings — turn the camera sideways and it will still point up after it measures. There’s a 23-foot limit to the sensor, and if a ceiling is black it will just point straight up.

Sean O'Kane

Very interesting innovation, something that I wasn’t expecting and could improve indoors flash photography considerably – assuming it works consistently.

01 March 2018

The Lightroom Queen: “What’s New in Lightroom Classic CC 7.1 (December 2017)?”

New Intelligent Auto Settings, powered by Adobe’s Sensei!

Lightroom’s old Auto adjustments were… hit and miss, to put it kindly. No more! Adobe has used its machine learning technology to analyze how skilled professional photographers edited tens of thousands of photos, and then applied this information to build a brand new Auto.

The new Auto applies auto adjustments to Exposure, Contrast, Highlights, Shadows, Whites, Blacks, Saturation and Vibrance, to get the best automated result possible. Furthermore, it’s now smart enough to take your existing Crop, White Balance or Camera Profile into account when doing its calculations. It’s much better at retaining highlight and shadow detail, and doesn’t often overexpose, so it’s a much better starting point. Give it a try!

Victoria Bampton

Good to see that Adobe is continuing to introduce new features to Lightroom Classic CC, despite fears from some photographers that it will soon be deprecated.

27 February 2018

The Verge: “Elon Musk leaves board of AI safety group to avoid conflict of interest with Tesla”

Tech billionaire Elon Musk is leaving the board of OpenAI, the nonprofit research group he co-founded with Y Combinator president Sam Altman to study the ethics and safety of artificial intelligence.

The move was announced in a short blog post, explaining that Musk is leaving in order to avoid a conflict of interest between OpenAI’s work and the machine learning research done by Tesla to develop autonomous driving. As Tesla continues to become more focused on AI, this will eliminate a potential future conflict for Elon, says the post. Musk will stay on as a donator to OpenAI and will continue to advise the group.

James Vincent

First (obvious) reaction to this: ‘so Tesla is planning on developing AI that is either unethical, or not safe’?! That would be rather bad for their customers…

24 February 2018

Live Science: “This Giant Clock will tick for 10,000 Years”

On Tuesday (Feb. 20), Bezos tweeted the first video footage of an unusual project he’s funding, called the 10,000-Year Clock. True to its name, the clock is designed to accurately keep time for 10,000 years. It’s powered by a combination of solar energy and occasional windings by any intrepid visitors who stray into the limestone cliffs of Texas’ Sierra Diablo mountain range sometime over the next 10 millennia.

To Bezos, who reportedly invested $42 million in the clock’s construction, the timepiece is the ultimate symbol of long-term thinking. To Danny Hillis, an inventor and computer scientist who first described the idea for the clock in Wired magazine in 1995, it’s a vision come to life.

Brandon Specktor

Amazing project! Reminds me of the giant horologe at the center of the concent of Saunt Edhar in the sci-fi novel Anathem.