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Whiskey Lately

Live @ 9:15 PM - Switching to iPhone 6 Plus, Apple Watch + More

Last time Mike talked about upgrading from the iPhone 6 to 6 Plus and that happened. So, we'll talk about that. Also Monday is the big Apple Watch announcement and we'll preview that.

New Steve Jobs book announced

John Gruber on Becoming Steve Jobs by Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli:
The book is smart, accurate, informative, insightful, and at times, utterly heartbreaking. Schlender and Tetzeli paint a vivid picture of Jobs the man, and also clearly understand the industry in which he worked. They also got an astonishing amount of cooperation from the people who knew Jobs best: colleagues past and present from Apple and Pixar — particularly Tim Cook — and his widow, Laurene Powell Jobs.

Gruber has an advanced copy of the book and seemed to have given it a favorable early review. Not much details, but it's promoted as containing some new sensational stories.

The full title is Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart into a Visionary Leader and will be released March 24th.

Apple promotes iPhone 6 photo gallery

I've gotten every iPhone model except the iPhone 3G (no 3G service in my area to justify the expense at the time) and each upgrade I was usually most interested in the camera improvements. I take a lot of photos with my iPhone. Not only do I trust it for an important job, but it also makes it possible to capture a lot of stuff. As the saying goes, the best camera is the one you've got with you.

The iPhone 6/6 Plus camera takes some pretty great photos. And even though the megapixels haven't changed in recent years, each iPhone keep getting better at taking photos.

In this gallery from Apple only a few were in low-light conditions, but they still looked pretty good. Once in a while I'll go through my old photos over the years and the quality of photos in less than great lighting is the most stark differences between models. I hope the iPhone keeps improving in this regard.

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Tim Cook talks up customer privacy

Tim Cook in an interview with The Telegraph:
“None of us should accept that the government or a company or anybody should have access to all of our private information. This is a basic human right. We all have a right to privacy. We shouldn't give it up. We shouldn't give in to scare-mongering or to people who fundamentally don’t understand the details.”

He also went on to say that one day consumers will understand how their privacy has been used and "be very offended."

Privacy is a good way for Apple to differentiate itself from other competitors. The sharing of private info makes some thing incredibly useful, not to mention free, for consumers. So that will be something to weigh, but a strong stance on privacy should help Apple demonstrated value for its business model for many.

iPhone design and battery life

9 to 5 Mac the past week posted a poll asking readers about the trade off of thinness and battery life. I think the poll wording could have been better, but it’s an interesting question. The questions I think leave people to make assumptions on how much thicker a phone could be for an expected battery life increase. 0.5 mm for 50% better battery? Sign me up! 5 mm for 10%? No way. We just don’t know what people are thinking to really tell a story on the results.

Also, the second most popular option is whether Apple should instead improve battery life through engineering and not a thicker device. Apple of course could do both, so it’s not really an either/or proposition.

I think a better question would be to hypothetically ask:

- iPhone 4/4s thickness for 35% better battery.
- iPhone 5/5s thickness with 25% better battery.
- iPhone 6/6+ or same thickness for 15% better battery.

I’d probably fall in the last category. I’m not sure I’d want a thicker phone, but I’d be fine if the iPhone didn’t get any thinner in exchange for a modest improvement in battery. A lot of that is psychological because I’m willing to give up the unknown verses return to a known. I still remember thinking I’d love a phone as thin as the iPod touch, and the iPhone 6 is nearly there. If presented an iPhone a 1 mm thinner, I may feel differently.

Anyway, as we discussed in a recent podcast, I was considering switching over to the iPhone 6 Plus from the iPhone 6. I ended up doing so a week ago. No real reason, I just had the opportunity by upgrading a phone on our family plan. Basically for an extra $100 I could have a new gadget by handing down a family member my iPhone 6. I haven’t made up my mind yet on the 6 vs 6 Plus. Other than the obvious size differences, I’d say the 6 Plus is heavier than I anticipated. On the flip side, the screen seems noticeable better and I’m quickly getting accustomed to having a larger screen.

The other big difference is the battery life. So far I’d guess it’s about 20-25% longer. The iPhone 6 didn’t gave me problems with battery life, but I’d frequently end the day with a battery warning. Sometimes I’d charge up during the day just to ensure I had enough battery for the evening. I haven’t had these issues in my first week of the iPhone 6 Plus.

So, back to this 9 to 5 Mac poll… The iPhone 6 is thinner than the iPhone 5/5s, it is bigger, and has a slightly larger battery. The iPhone 6 also has a bigger screen, which takes more power, but still has better battery life than the iPhone 5/5s by a small margin. The iPhone 6 is even more so of an improvement to go along with a promotionally larger size.

So, maybe the question isn’t just do people want a thicker phone for better battery life, but what about a bigger phone?

Apple event scheduled for March 9th

Apple announced a “Spring Forward” event for Monday March 9th. Spring Forward is obviously a reference to both time and daylight savings switch over. As usual the topic wasn’t announced, but the title and timing obviously suggest Apple will launch the Apple Watch.

We all can tune in and watch the live stream at 10 AM PDT.

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Pebble announces follow-up Time watch

Pebble Tuesday announced its second smart watch, the Pebble Time. Like the original Pebble, Pebble Time is a Kickstarter project to pre-order and fund production.

Pebble Time will feature a color e-paper display and up to 7 hours of battery life. It also features fitness tracking, notifications, and music control,

The campaign is scheduled for 31 days and is expected to start shipping in May. The retail price for Pebble Time will be $199.

Report: Apple retooling in-store genius bar appointments

Mark Gurman for 9 to 5 Mac:
Multiple Apple employees have called the new feature one of the most significant changes to Apple Store operations in several years, as it allows customers to request support on the spot, shop elsewhere inside of the mall, and then return when the store is ready to service them. This will likely reduce crowding in the Apple Store and possibly fatigue from waiting customers.

The report says customers will be able to roll up and request an appointment from a staff person. They will enter the customer request into Apple's system, the system will prioritize, and then provide an estimated wait. Not said in the article, but I’d guess Apple has a lot of metrics on how long it typically takes for various support issues. So, that wait time could be honed to simply more than how many people are in front of you.

After you get your wait time, you’ll get a text message letting you know when to head back to the store and then another when it’s time to meet the support person.

One big benefit is obviously it allows people to walk in and get help without having to sit around. They can go off and do other stuff in the mall. The other benefit is again, those people are sitting around the store making a sometimes crowed store more crowded.

YouTube launches family-friendly app for kids

Today, we’re introducing the YouTube Kids app, the first Google product built from the ground up with little ones in mind. The app makes it safer and easier for children to find videos on topics they want to explore, and is available for free on and the in the U.S.

This seems pretty cool. YouTube obviously contains endless hours of content and a lot of it is about world. Recently my kids have been interested in volcanos and apparently bunnies eating things. YouTube is a cool way to show on-demand how the world works. This app seems to give parents greater control to let them do their own exploring.

This makes me think of another recent Google effort. Google teamed up with Disney to launch an interested new show Miles from Tomorrowland. The show is geared towards kids with the aim of generating interest in computer science and science in general. It features guest celeb nerds Alton Brown, Will Wheaton, Bill Nye, George Takei, Mark Hamill, and stars Olivia Munn.

Anyway, it’s cool seeing Google putting some energy towards kids.

Apple announces two new data centers in Europe

Apple Monday announced it will build two new data centers serving European customers. The data centers will be located in Ireland and Denmark. Both will be powered by 100% renewable energy from the start.

In the release, Apple emphasized the number of direct and indirect jobs Apple and the App Store represent with in Europe. Also a lot of emphasis on the environmental benefits of the data center projects:

The two data centres, each measuring 166,000 square metres, are expected to begin operations in 2017 and include designs with additional benefits for their communities. For the project in Athenry, Ireland, Apple will recover land previously used for growing and harvesting non-native trees and restore native trees to Derrydonnell Forest. The project will also provide an outdoor education space for local schools, as well as a walking trail for the community.

In Viborg, Denmark, Apple will eliminate the need for additional generators by locating the data centre adjacent to one of Denmark’s largest electrical substations. The facility is also designed to capture excess heat from equipment inside the facility and conduct it into the district heating system to help warm homes in the neighboring community.

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Recent Articles

New Apple ad features Martin Scorsese and iPads

Apple launched a new ad Sunday in time for the Oscars. The ad features the iPad in filming with a narration from Martin Scorsese.

“Every scene is a lesson. Every shot is a school. Let the learning continue.”
— Martin Scorsese

iPad is the ultimate tool for independent filmmakers. Learn how the students of Los Angeles County High School for the Arts relied on iPad to create films in a matter of days.

Podcast: Apple Car and iPhone 6 to 6+ upgrade?

Join us this week as we talk about the idea of an Apple car. Also Mike is wondering if he should from the iPhone 6 to the 6+.

Office Suite for iOS adds iCloud storage

Version 1.6 of Microsoft's Office apps on iOS will allow users to access files on their iCloud account. When opening a file, users will have a "more" option that presents various app file storage. If a compatible document is available, you'll be able to access it from within the Office app. Most apps, however, when I tested didn't seem to be supported. I can see folders and thumbnails, but I can't open the documents. It would seem it need to be a compatible Office document to work.

The feature is supports in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. It's available as the free version and doesn't appear to require a 365 subscription to open or edit/save.

So, nifty idea, particularly if you don't have a 365 subscription. But if you do have a 365 subscription, Dropbox and OneDrive might be a little slicker solution. Sill, if you're an iCloud fan, this is another option to access your Office documents on various devices.

Modern Family episode shot on iPhones, iPads, MacBook

Nick Bilton for New York Times:
Over a series of late October days, camera operators working on an episode of ABC’s “Modern Family” set aside their typical high-definition videocameras and picked up iPhones. The command “Action!” was followed by a tap of that familiar red button on the device’s small video screen.

Most shooting was done on the iPhone 6 and latest iPad. Some additional shots were done using MacBook Pros. The idea was to film an episode how today's families communicate via video chat, and in this case using Apple technology. It should be an interesting production.

The "Lost Connections" episode will air February 25th.

Dropbox adds new iOS 8 extension

Dropbox today added a nifty new feature with version 3.7 of the iOS app. Now users can send files to their dropbox within other apps using an iOS 8 action extension. For example, if you wanted to send a photo to Dropbox, when you open the share sheet, you can click Dropbox and it will push the file to your Dropbox. Another example is while in Safari, if you open a PDF from the web, you can too save it to your Dropbox.

The experience isn't quite the same as basically dumping anything into your desktop Dropbox folder, but it's getting closer for iOS.

New Yorker profile highlights Ive's leadership

Ian Parker has a lengthy profile of Ive in the current issue. Subtitled "How an industrial designer became Apple’s greatest product,” there are many interesting tidbits of how Ive operates at Apple. Here are a couple quotes I pulled on how Ive runs his design team.

The first on the table configuration in Apple’s design lab:

Apple’s intentions can be revealed in one room. Each table serves a single product, or product part, or product concept; some of these objects are scheduled for manufacture; others might come to market in three or five years, or never. “A table can get crowded with a lot of different ideas, maybe problem-solving for one particular feature,” Hönig, the former Lamborghini designer, later told me. Then, one day, all the clutter is gone. He laughed: “It’s just the winner, basically. What we collectively decided is the best.” The designers spend much of their time handling models and materials, sometimes alongside visiting Apple engineers.

Second on his team's loyalty:

“They play together, they work together, and they protect each other,” Robert Brunner, the former Apple design chief, later said of the team. At one of our meetings, Ive reminded me of a short article that Bono wrote about him in Time. It said, “To watch him with his workmates in the holy of holies, Apple’s design lab, or on a night out is to observe a very rare esprit de corps. They love their boss, and he loves them. What the competitors don’t seem to understand is you cannot get people this smart to work this hard just for money.” Ive, Bono’s friend, described these comments as “shockingly perceptive”—which is an unusual response to praise, even shared praise.

Apple Car rumor hits the right checkboxes

Wall Street Journal:
The Cupertino, Calif., company has several hundred employees working secretly toward creating an Apple-branded electric vehicle, according to people familiar with the matter. The project, code-named “Titan,” initially is working on the design of a vehicle that resembles a minivan, one of the people said.

This rumor comes on the heels of spotted Apple-leased vans with weird camera rigs on top. This then covers the basic check boxes of an Apple rumor: Evidence of Apple working on something, staffing reports from those familiar, and an alleged internal code name. Sprinkle on wealthy execs with lots of money buying fancy cars = enthusiasts, and you’ve got yourself a certified Apple rumor.

Who knows, but to me it doesn’t pass the smell test for a major new product initiative. Skunkworks, sure, but that might be a lot of people for a pet project just to see where it takes you.

More likely, I’d guess Apple is working on an auto-related technology, either to work with existing makers or as some kind of after-market product to consumers. Or, this could just be related to ongoing mapping/navigation improvements. Perhaps simply a retrofitted vehicle to make mapping better and cheaper.

Two-factor verification now active on iMessage and FaceTime

The Guardian first noted that two-factor verification is now active on iMessage and FaceTime. If the security setting is already enabled on the account, the feature will now work for iMessage and FaceTime. This mean when using these services users will be prompted for a secondary time-sensitive PIN from their mobile device. PINs can be obtained either by iOS notification or text message.

The feature offers an extra layer of protection. In addition to needing to know a user's login and password, an authorized user likely would also need to have access to that user's mobile device.

Gassée on Apple redefining what's possible

Jean-Louis Gassée on Apple’s financial and product success
Apple sold 74.5M, + 57% over last year’s same quarter. iPhone revenue was $51.2B, + 57%. That’s enough iPhones for 1% of the world population, 9.4 iPhones for every second of the past quarter.
After generating $33B from operations, the company now holds $178B in cash and cash equivalents. To get a sense of the magnitude of this amount, $178B represents $550 for every US citizen, or $25 per human on Earth.

The article goes on to outline the “laws” Apple has time and time again broken in regards to what financial analysts and management experts deem possible. There’s also an interesting chart from Wikipedia that shows that Apple owns 5 out of the 10 record quarterly corporate profits of all time.

Apple looks to power California footprint with 25-year solar deal

First Solar and Apple announced a 25-year deal to provide Apple 130-megawatt solar energy. Apple has committed $848 million to the project that’s known as California Solar Flats. In total the solar array is expected to generate about 280 megawatts with the balance being sold to PG&E utilit company.

Apple said it expects the deal will generate enough electricity to power or offset power used for its corporate offices, including the new “space ship” HQ, and retail stores.

In a release, the companies said they expect that over time the investment will result in cost savings in addition to clean, renewable energy. In a conference call CEO Tim Cook said, "We're thrilled to continue on the course of leaving the world better than we found it.”

Apple uses store shelves to control iPhone designs leaks

In recent years every new iPhone design has been preceded by case designs thought to fit the new phones. The designs are usually based on leaked specs or parts within Apple’s supply chain. To try and fix this apparent problem Apple, apparently, is attempting to address the demand case info rather than addressing the leaks.

Via 9 to 5 Mac
…should Apple find that, prior to the release of a product, you have sought, obtained, or relied upon specifications of that product from sources other than Apple, Apple may choose to exercise its right to take action against you, which penalties can include, but are not limited to, Apple choosing not to stock your product in our stores.”

So, if an accessory maker doesn’t play ball, they risk being banned from Apple retail store. Reportedly even if they do agree, however, they’re not guaranteed to be in stores regardless. Meanwhile, competitors get a jump on production and have cases available to sell at launch. Obviously the demand for cases spike when people buy new phones at launch, so waiting months to release with official specs can be a disadvantage.

Apple’s supply chain has gotten so big it would seem to be impossible to be airtight. I wonder though if this is really a problem?

Podcast: Super Bowl, Apple Photos, New Verizon Rates, Plane Crash App

Join us as we talk about this week’s Super Bowl ads and halftime show. Also Apple is getting closer to releasing its new Photos app for OS X, and Verizon has some new promotional rate plans that you might want to check out. Lastly in our app of the week we predict plane crashes.

New Photos app available in pre-release of OS X 10.10.3

Back in June at WWDC Apple announced its new Photos app as the company retires iPhoto and Aperture on OS X. Apple said Photos would ship in 2015, and the company is getting closer to making that happen. Thursday the company put up a pre-released version of OS X 10.10.3 that includes the Photos.

Linked here the Verge has a nice rundown of Photos.

If you’ve been using the iCloud Photo Library beta for iOS 8, you’ll be pretty familiar with how Photos for OS X works. Rather than the old "My Photo Stream" feature, which pushed 1,000 photos (or 30 days worth of photos) across your Mac and iOS devices, everything you shoot on your iPhone will automatically get uploaded to your iCloud Drive. When you open up Photos on your Mac, you’ll see everything you shot in a view that’s nearly identical to what you see in iOS.

Report: Apple pitching new plan to TV industry

Peter Kafka for Re/Code:
The theory is that Apple would put together bundles of programming — but not the entire TV lineup that pay TV providers generally offer — and sell it directly to consumers, over the Web. That means Apple wouldn’t be reinventing the way TV works today, but offering its own version of it, with its own interface and user experience.

I’ve run the numbers we could easily cut the cord and not miss any of our favorite shows. Still, we’d miss out on non-network live sports and other specials. Plus the simple discovery of new content. And I’m not sure I’d be willing to pay for some of the stuff we watch, which questions why we watch it in the first place.

Anyway, this is an interesting idea to pull together bundles of content vs channels. It seems perhaps a workable compromise with the old guard entrenched in the bundling business.

Latest Verizon promo trims pricing on some plans

Starting February 5th, Verizon is running a new promo that could reduce monthly rate plans for customers. For Edge customers, the company is offering $25/line discounts with 6GB or more of shared data. This would make a two smartphone plan $100 under the new pricing. The company is also offering $10 discounts on select shared plans in addition to new 12GB 14GB, and 16GB options. Note, however, recent deals have expired and plans with larger data buckets may actually be higher.

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