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May 24, 2017 • 29 minutes
On this week’s thirty minute you-can-set-a-clock-by-it techstravaganza, we talk Ikea’s forays into smart home tech, Anker’s disruptions and what else we’d like to see disrupted, Android features we’d like on iOS, and the tech story the masses need to know. With special guests John Moltz and Shelly Brisbin.
By Dan Moren
May 23, 2017 10:26 AM PT
Edovia’s Screens is one of my must-have utilities on both macOS and iOS. As someone whose household contains three Macs and two iOS devices, I invariably have times where I end up needing to get at something on one of the other devices. (My home server is a Mac mini that’s hooked up to my TV, so I rely on remote access to manage it.)
Screen 4.0 for Mac, which arrived today, brings a couple super handy features, chief among which is the ability to transfer files back and forth by drag-and-drop. That’s a feature that’s been in the mac OS’s own screen-sharing implementation for some time now, but it’s great to finally have it in Screens as well—it certainly makes it easier than having to fire up a separate SFTP session.
Other new additions include Curtain Mode, which allows you to lock out the display on remote Macs so people looking at those machines can’t see what you’re doing; useful if you’re managing a computer in a shared environment. There’s also support for the Touch Bar on the new MacBook Pros, one touch password entry for logins, the ability to create groups of screens, and better support for SSH keys. And Edovia has also added OpenGL support, which improves the speed of rendering those remote displays.
By Jason Snell
May 22, 2017 4:24 PM PT
When Todd Vaziri recently updated his chart of the length of John Gruber’s The Talk Show—which prompted me to update my chart of The Incomparable’s length—I’ve been reminded of something I learned from my days in the magazine industry. As P.T. Barnum (presumably) said, “Leave them wanting more.”
This isn’t showbiz claptrap—it’s a real effect. What makes someone a happy magazine subscriber, newsletter reader, or television viewer is the feeling that you’re consuming all of something you enjoy. You get to the end and still wish there were more, making you anticipate the next installment.
There are two danger zones. The first is if people just don’t like what you’re making. That’s an obvious one. If they’re not buying what you’re selling, you’ll lose them as a customer, and rightly so.
But then there’s another, less obvious danger zone: People who like your stuff but just can’t finish it all. You’d think that this shouldn’t matter, that if you only ever consume half of everything but enjoy it all, that should be good enough. But it’s not. Most people hate feeling that they’re not using everything they’re paying for. (I know the feeling, at least when it comes to Dropbox storage.)
I’ve had this described to me as “The New Yorker Problem.” People who enjoy reading The New Yorker still cancel their subscriptions, because they’ve got a few issues piled up. When we were designing the digital edition of PCWorld magazine after the print edition shut down, we spent a lot of time debating what the ideal magazine length should be. We could’ve put all the stuff we were generating on the web in there, making it seem like a great value… but it would’ve resulted in enormous issues that few, if any, readers could get through.
I’ve had the same experience with newsletters I’ve subscribed to on the Internet. I get a few daily newsletters, and I like them, but the fact that I just can’t find the time to read every one of them makes me frustrated. Yes, it would literally make me a happier subscriber if they gave me less of what I’m paying for. Any more and it might be the straw that broke the camel’s back.
This may not be entirely logical, but I believe it’s true. And that’s one of the reasons I’ve tried to bend the average run time of The Incomparable, which was at one point threatening to break 90 minutes, back toward an hour. Of course, some people would love it if we’d do two hours every week—but I feel like we’d be risking overstaying our welcome if we did that. I don’t want episodes to pile up. If you get many episodes behind on a podcast, unsubscribing starts to seem like a logical next step.
It’s something for all of us who create things on the Internet to keep in mind: People have a near-infinite supply of content at their disposal now. We should be respectful of their time and always leave them wanting more. There is such a thing as “too much of a good thing.”
May 22, 2017 • 1 hour, 36 minutes
This week on Upgrade Jason and Myke discuss potential hardware announcements at WWDC—what they might be, and what message they might send. We also discuss a little bit about Google IO, including announcements about Google Photos and emoji, and get a little misty while thinking about Steve Jobs’ last product, Apple Park.
By Jason Snell
May 19, 2017 8:40 AM PT
Rumors abound that Apple is working on a new device similar to the Amazon Echo and Google Home—something I’ve been calling the Siri Speaker for the last 14 months.
These rumors come at an interesting time for the ambient home assistant market. The surprising success of the original Amazon Echo has led to an influx of new products, including new Amazon Echo models, the Google Home, and a new Harman Kardon speaker featuring Microsoft’s Cortana assistant.
It’s been clear for a while now that Apple has all the pieces to make a home assistant product if it wanted to—Siri itself, expertise in making audio products from Beats, and a streaming music service in Apple Music. The question was, would Apple do it? And if it did, what choices would it make in fashioning such a product?
With the new rumors that the Siri Speaker might be announced as soon as next month at WWDC, Apple’s developer conference, I’ve started to picture what that announcement might look like. Consider it speculation, analysis, and a little bit of fan fiction all in one…
Jason Snell for IMore
May 19, 2017 8:37 AM PT
If the mood of the past couple of years of the Mac needed to be summed up in two words, I’d nominate “professional angst.” Lack of updates to the late 2013 Mac Pro and the MacBook Pro caused consternation; the eventual new MacBook Pro release walked into a tough room and failed to impress. Pro users were up in arms, to the point where (after two vain attempts to reassure them through oblique Tim Cook statements) Apple took the unprecedented step of inviting five journalists to Cupertino to acknowledge its mistakes and promise better things in the future for pros.
But what is a pro Mac, really?
Dan Moren for Macworld
May 19, 2017 6:06 AM PT
Over the past few decades, computing has trended towards the personal. We’ve gone from the age of desktops to the age of laptops to the age of the smartphone. And even though that newfound mobility has brought with it freedom and flexibility, it’s not without its costs.
For one thing, we are, more than ever, entranced with our own personal screens, in the same way that we don our headphones and tune out the world. Computing has become a siloed affair, with each of us involved in our own personalized experiences—even if they connect us with other people across the world, all on their own devices.
But part of me wonders if the pendulum is beginning to swing back to a model where the technology we use at home is linked to a particular location. That’s not to say such a device would supplant the smartphone or tablet, or even the laptop. But maybe the time is finally upon us when the computer becomes a home appliance.
Jason Snell for Macworld
May 18, 2017 9:41 AM PT
One of the words I use a lot when reviewing Apple products is opinionated. I firmly believe that great art or design can’t happen without a point of view—and the more you depart from a focused point of view, the more likely a creation will be compromised, workmanlike… good, maybe, but not great.
When it’s at its best, Apple strives for greatness. It doesn’t always get there—and every now and then you get the sense it’s not actually trying to get there—but when things are hitting on all cylinders, Apple releases products that are backed by a strong point of view about what will delight and serve its customers.
The MacBook, for example, is a product based on a focused vision: That a single port and a slower class of processor are worthy trade-offs for an incredibly thin and light computer with a Retina display. You don’t have to agree with Apple’s take—in the case of the MacBook, the company’s practically daring you to disagree—but you can’t deny that it’s an amazing execution of a particular set of priorities.
I’ve been thinking about Apple’s approach to products this week because I read Steven Levy’s excellent inside look at the new Apple Park campus for Wired. It’s worth a read—I highly recommend it, if you haven’t dug in yet.
Levy’s been covering Apple longer than just about anyone, and in great detail. In his story about Apple Park, he suggests that the facility itself is an Apple product—in fact, the last product to truly be conceived of by Steve Jobs. (It’s why the story’s headline, “One More Thing”, is so bittersweet.)
May 18, 2017 • 35 minutes
This week, Dan chooses the wrong hill to die on, the guys discuss the ill-conceived laptop ban on flights from Europe (which may now be dead?), and we try to suss out what Apple’s doing with its investments in Corning and dark data company Lattice. We also talk about that ransomware attack from last week.
May 17, 2017 • 29 minutes
This week, on the 30-minute tech roundup that will kill all the weeds in your yard, we talk about the possibility of Apple Watch smart bands, what old tech we’d resurrect, the fate of the iPad mini, and why more tech companies don’t develop for accessibility. With special guests Georgia Dow and Rene Ritchie.