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by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Jason Snell

The Case for the 10.5-inch iPad Pro

Is there room for a Smart Keyboard in between these two sizes?

Dan Provost of Studio Neat wrote an interesting post last week about reports that Apple is planning on releasing a new 10.5-inch iPad Pro alongside the 12.9- and 9.7-inch versions.

The idea seems kind of far-fetched at first. Provost himself cites John Gruber’s statement that it doesn’t make any sense, but after reading Provost’s post, Gruber said that “the math works out”. And I have to admit, the more I think about it, the more appealing this possible product sounds to me.

First, let me walk you through Provost’s math. If you think back to the introduction of the 12.9-inch iPad Pro in the fall of 2015, you may remember that Apple’s Phil Schiller pointed out that the width of the 12.9-inch iPad Pro is the height of the 9.7-inch iPad. A 12.9-inch iPad Pro can run two full-sized iPad apps side by side in portrait mode. The screen is basically a two-for-one of the 9.7-inch iPad.

Then take the leap: Imagine doing the same exercise with the iPad mini. The mini is a bit of a forgotten device these days, but it’s actually got the same number of pixels as the full-sized iPad—they’re just packed more tightly (326 pixels per inch) into a smaller display. So if you made an iPad Pro that could run two iPad apps side by side at the iPad mini’s resolution, that display would be… 10.5 inches diagonal.

Depending on how small the bezels were around the display, a 10.5-inch iPad Pro could have roughly the same physical dimensions as the 9.7-inch model, but would have the same number of pixels (2732 × 2048) as the 12.9-inch iPad Pro.

I love the 12.9-inch iPad Pro because I love that huge screen and all the information that can be displayed on it. But there’s no denying that it’s a beast, at 12 by 8.7 inches and 1.6 pounds.1 I pick up my wife’s iPad Air and am shocked at how small and light it is. A lighter and smaller iPad Pro that still offered a big screen with lots of pixels—that really interests me.

That said, I’m actually hoping that the 10.5-inch iPad Pro comes in a shell that’s a bit larger than the one on the 9.7-inch model. That’s because when it comes to keyboards, every millimeter of width helps. Typing on the 12.9-inch iPad Pro is much better than typing on the 9.7-inch model, whether you’re using the on-screen keyboard or an add-on keyboard case that matches the width of the device.

At 9.4 inches wide, the smaller iPad Pro is a little too small for a full-sized keyboard, which is why Apple’s Smart Keyboard features shrunk-down keys, as does Logitech’s. I like both of those keyboards, but the closer you can get to a full-sized key layout, the better. (The same is true of on-screen keyboards, of course.)

A slightly wider iPad Pro would give Apple and third-party keyboard makers a little more room with which to work. Yes, the 12.9-inch model is 65 millimeters wider than the smaller iPad, but a look at the respective Smart Keyboards suggests that the 12.9-inch Smart Keyboard has width to spare. There’s at least 30 millimeters total of wasted space on the sides of the larger Smart Keyboard. Squash a few of the modifier keys at the edges, as on the smaller model, and an iPad that’s only slightly larger would probably allow for a keyboard with full-sized keys.

Of course, Apple will provide a Smart Keyboard for the new iPad Pro (unless it’s identical in size to the 9.7-inch model, of course). I also wonder if this might be an opportunity for Apple to release its own keyboard cover based on the new butterfly keyswitches it’s using on the MacBook and MacBook Pro, rather than leaving traditional keyboards to the third-party market.

In any event, I like the idea of taking all the pixels in my 12.9-inch iPad Pro and shoving them into something a bit smaller. If a 10.5-inch iPad Pro were exactly the size and weight of the current 9.7-inch model, that would be nice. But I’ll give back a little bit of physical size if it also can bring support for full-sized external keyboards to the party.

Beyond that, I’m hopeful that 2017 will bring the iPad Pro a set of synced-up features—True Tone display, wide color gamut support, USB 3 transfer speeds, and fast charging support—across the entire line. And a new version of iOS with much-needed improvements to iPad multitasking features, of course.


  1. 305mm by 220mm, and 713 grams! I’m amused to realize that Apple doggedly uses inches to describe its screen sizes everywhere in the world. Sorry, everyone else! ↩


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Podcast

Upgrade #124: There Are Always Gates

Upgrade

This week on Upgrade, Jason and Myke break down the second annual Six Colors Apple Report Card, as three dozen Apple watchers grade how the company did in 2016—and Myke chimes in with his own votes.


Linked by Jason Snell

More emoji fragmentation

People love emoji. But a major problem with using emoji is one of fragmentation—the image you send may not be the image your recipient sees, because different operating systems and platforms use their own images to represent emoji characters. There is no single, definitive image for any emoji symbol. Everyone—Twitter, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, Google—builds their own.

New emoji symbols are exciting. I firmly believe that Apple (and probably Google and Microsoft) use new emoji as a bit of a carrot to get users to upgrade their devices to the newest operating-system version. I have seen this firsthand with my daughter, who updates frequently just because she’s frustrated that she can’t see her friends’ emoji messages.

As Emojipedia’s Jeremy Burge explains in this blog post, while Google has done a good job of being ahead of the curve on emoji, the symbols are still a part of the core Android operating system, which is updated late (if ever) on many Android phones. Google has done a good job of pulling huge amounts of core Android functionality into update-ready chunks, making Android fragmentation less painful than it has been in the past, but not emoji symbols.

The result is that 96 out of 100 Android users can’t see the latest emoji symbols, which has led to more fragmentation as apps try to fix the issue themselves:

Snapchat, Messenger, WhatsApp, Telegram and Slack all use emoji-replacement images on Android; in a trend started by Twitter with Twemoji which was released when the most popular browser on Windows (Chrome) didn’t include emoji support. WhatsApp and Telegram even use Apple’s own emoji images on Android, and makes a custom keyboard to display them.

It remains to be seen if phone-makers will update Android more often, if Google will find a way for emoji symbols to be updated separately from Android’s core operating system, or if it will fall to app developers to override Android’s symbols with their own.

[Can’t believe I missed this post; thanks to Dave Mark for linking to it.]


By Jason Snell

Vacationing with a waterproof iPhone case

Turtles! Shot on iPhone SE.

Last week I was on vacation in Hawaii, and one of the things I managed to do was use a waterproof iPhone case for the first time to take pictures and video. Back in the day, when you rented snorkel equipment you’d also consider buying a waterproof disposable camera so you could take some pictures of fish. (Yeah, film! I told you it was back in the day.)

These days we all have photo and video devices in our pockets, but they’re not really safe to take in the ocean. (If you’re saying to yourself that the iPhone 7 is safe to take in water because it’s rated as splash resistance, I refer you to Serenity Caldwell’s horror story.)

What I did have was a Survivor & Catalyst Waterproof case that was designed for the iPhone 5… and an iPhone SE, which is coincidentally shaped exactly like the iPhone 5.

The case comes with a detailed instruction manual that tells you on every single page that you need to check the case and makes sure every gasket and o-ring is just so before you put your phone in it, all the better to avoid angry customers whose phones get swamped. I followed the instructions, did a dunk test with nothing in the case, and double-checked everything when I put the phone in the case.

But the results were great. While selfie-camera images were smudged by the front plate, images from the rear camera were spectacularly good. When out of the water, I could use the touchscreen through the front plate, so if I wanted to switch from still to video, all I needed to do was surface, wait a minute for the water to drip off my hand and the screen, and then swipe.

I found that the case was also convenient to carry around on the beach. Not only was the phone protected from the sand, but I could wade into the water without worrying that an accidental drop or splash from a wave would do damage to my phone. (The included hand strap was a help on that front, too.) A charging-port door also meant that I never had to take the phone out of the case once it was in there.

If you’ve got an iPhone 5, 5S, or SE, I can recommend the Griffin Survivor + Catalyst case, though I suspect they don’t make them anymore so they may vanish at some point soon. I haven’t tested cases for other models, but a search of Amazon shows that there are a bunch of similar cases out there for more current iPhone designs, both cheaper models and some pretty deluxe ones with support for deep dives. Get one that’s rated properly and completely encloses the phone, ideally with a special cutout for the camera so that it can take good pictures, or what’s the point?

I would never use a case like this on my phone all the time (unless I was in the water all the time, I suppose), but for taking to the beach—and under the water—on a vacation? It was priceless.


Jason Snell for Macworld

Sonos needs voice control, and not just Alexa ↦

I’ve been a fan of whole-home digital music systems for a long time. When the platform I had invested years in gave up the ghost-thanks for buying and killing the Squeezebox, by the way, Logitech-I decided it was time to try the speakers my colleague Chris Breen had been raving about for years. And Chris was right-the Sonos stuff sounds great.

Then, all of a sudden, I largely stopped using the Sonos speakers and started using something far more inferior to play my music. That was the day the Amazon Echo came into our kitchen. The Echo is inferior in sound to the Sonos (even the ultra-small Play:1 speaker) in every way but one: you can talk to the Echo, but the Sonos speakers require that you use an app to tell it what to play.

Apparently my family weren’t the only ones wooed by the convenience and voice control of the Echo: lots of people did the same. Sonos responded with layoffs and an embrace of Alexa that led to an announcement that this year Sonos speakers will be controllable by Alexa.

With the news this week that Sonos CEO and cofounder John MacFarlane resigned, there’s been a lot of speculation about the future of Sonos, and rightly so.

Continue reading on Macworld ↦


Dan Moren for Macworld

Why Apple is making its original TV content push now ↦

Everybody’s getting into the content game these days, and from a report in the Wall Street Journal this week, it appears that Apple is no exception. The company is said to be planning a major push into original TV programming, looking to produce “critically acclaimed programs like Westworld on Time Warner Inc.’s HBO or Stranger Things on Netflix.” This is on top of the previously announced continuation of James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke series (albeit without Corden himself) and the rumored Dr. Dre-produced scripted show.

So why is Apple, which has often enjoyed solid reputations with media companies, looking to throw its hat into the content ring? Isn’t this veering away from the company’s core mission of creating products that surprise and delight its customers? What exactly is Apple’s goal here?

Continue reading on Macworld ↦


Podcast

The Rebound 119: The Old Codgers Show

The Rebound

Special guest James Thomson joins John and Dan to wish the iPhone a very happy tenth birthday, and hopefully avoid any copyright infringements. We reminisce about where we were when the iPhone was announced, discuss Apple’s possible AR ambitions, and then fret a bit over a purported icon in iOS 10.3.


By Jason Snell

Apple in 2016: The Six Colors report card

As we close the door on 2016, I thought it would be useful to look back at the year gone by and ask a panel of my peers who pay attention to Apple and related markets to take a moment and reflect on Apple’s performance in the past year.

This is the second year that I’ve presented a survey to a group of writers, editors, podcasters and developers. The survey was the same as last year’s. They were prompted with 11 different Apple-related subjects, and asked to rate them on a scale from 1 to 5, as well as optionally provide text commentary on their vote. I received 37 replies, with the average results as shown below:

Since I was using the same survey as last year, I was also able to track the change in my panel’s consensus opinion compared to the previous year. The net changes between 2015 and 2016 surveys is displayed below:

Judging by my panel’s responses, Apple had a rough year—which I think most close observers of the company would probably agree with. While opinions on the Apple Watch, Apple’s cloud services, and developer relations were improved, there were strong negative trends for the Mac and Apple TV.

But enough of this top-level summary. Read on for category-by-category grades and commentary from three dozen different Apple watchers.

Continue Reading "Apple in 2016: The Six Colors report card"


Linked by Dan Moren

Sonos CEO steps down

Nick Wingfield, writing in the New York Times:

Mr. MacFarlane said he had planned to resign as chief executive earlier, citing his wife’s bout with breast cancer and his aging parents as factors. But last year he delayed his plans when Amazon’s Echo speaker unexpectedly began to eat into sales of Sonos speakers.

“I fell into that trap where I’ve been watching voice recognition for years,” Mr. MacFarlane said. “I tried Echo in the beginning and wrote it off. I had too many distractions at that time. I wasn’t playing at the level I should have been playing at in all frankness.”

On the one hand, I’m surprised that the Echo is cutting into Sonos’s sales; they seem like very different products. On the other, the Echo does basically provide on demand audio that’s as easy—if not easier—to use than the Sonos. Frankly, I think they’re two great tastes that taste great together, and given the impending Sonos-Echo integration, I wouldn’t be shocked if, say, Amazon decided it wanted to acquire Sonos.

As for MacFarlane stepping down, I don’t think it’s necessarily a key indication of the state of the company (despite layoffs last year), since it sounded like the plan had been in the works for a while. I’ve bought two Sonos speakers in the last year, and I’m really enjoying them; it’s a product that deserves to stick around.


By Jason Snell

Consumer Reports battery test uncovers an Apple bug

Consumer Reports withheld its recommendation on the new MacBook Pros based on poor battery tests, and today we know the cause. A bug in Safari, combined with the specific test configurations of the Consumer Reports laptops, were behind the strange results. Consumer Reports says it will re-test and revisit its ratings.

At Macworld we built a lot of different lab tests over the years. It’s hard to test real-world performance in automated tests. You want to produce a result that represents what regular people would experience when using the product, but it’s a constant battle against software and hardware that’s designed to reduce power consumption at every turn. You can’t just use a human to do the testing, because in addition to being wildly inefficient (these tests take a days to perform, per system), they won’t be exactly the same on all the different systems.

In the case of Consumer Reports battery testing, they used a web-browsing test that required the disabling of Safari’s cache in order to simulate multiple page loads. It’s not a configuration any regular user would use, but the intent is to simulate something every user does—loading a bunch of different web pages. They just wanted to do it without having to create hundreds or thousands of different sample web pages on a test server.

The problem with these test scripts is that the farther you take them away from how regular people use their computers, the more you risk your data not being relevant to real-world use cases. Consumer Reports turns off auto-dimming features on laptop displays, for instance—but what if Apple’s auto-dimming algorithm was notably superior to ones found on PC laptops? In that case, the battery savings of that feature would be discarded in the name of testing consistency. Is it worth it? It’s a balancing act. There are judgment calls like that at every turn when you’re building lab tests.

(Apple has its own internal performance testing group, of course. It’s a group that includes several of my former Macworld and MacUser colleagues, and they’re no strangers to how these sorts of tests work.)

Unfortunately, the Consumer Reports test script encountered what Apple called “an obscure and intermittent bug reloading icons which created inconsistent results.” Very few users ever disable the browser cache, which is probably why this bug slipped through.

My guess is that this bug is more likely the cause of the battery-life disparity than anything specifically weird or unfair in Consumer Reports’ laptops tests, but I suppose we’ll see when it revisits its findings.


Linked by Jason Snell

Chris Lattner is leaving Apple (for Tesla)

Big news: Chris Lattner, a prime mover behind developer and infrastructure tools at Apple such as LLVM and Clang and essentially the inventor of Swift is leaving Apple “later this month to pursue an opportunity in another space.”

I wonder what opportunity pulled Lattner away from Apple. Thanks to him for all his good work for Apple developers, and I hope he enjoys his time in space.

Update: Lattner’s not going into space after all, but he is going to Tesla, so pretty close!


Linked by Jason Snell

Bypassing the App Store… or at least trying to

The San Francisco Chronicle’s Wendy Lee reports on a startup trying to bypass the App Store:

When iPhone users want to download apps, they mostly go to a single place: Apple’s App Store…. Venture capitalist Ernestine Fu aims to solve that problem. Her firm, Blackstorm Labs Inc. of Mountain View, sells technology that allows developers to distribute their apps without going through the App Store. Instead, the apps are available through links that consumers can send to their friends.

This seems to be an attempt to build app platforms inside other apps. WeChat is currently offering a function that sells “mini functions” in an in-app store.

I appreciate the financial opportunity that might exist by suctioning off even a small percentage of Apple’s 30 percent cut in App Store revenue, but this seems like a bad business to be in. Apple has shown repeatedly that any attempt to abuse or bypass Apple’s methods will get your app removed from the store. Hiding inside Facebook Messenger or WeChat means it would be a higher-stakes escalation if Apple were to make an issue of it, but Apple’s showdown with Spotify suggests that Apple isn’t afraid of escalating things with major vendors if it means safeguarding the walls of the App Store.


Linked by Dan Moren

BBC interviews Tony Fadell on the iPhone’s 10th anniversary

The BBC’s Dave Lee talks to the “godfather of the iPod” about the origin of the iPhone in a slightly odd interview:

It began with one manufacturer in Malmo, Sweden - a trip which ended with all of their bags, notes and equipment being stolen from their cars while they were inside a restaurant having dinner.

“They knew we were building a phone,” Fadell said.

“We asked our host where to get to dinner,  we were there all of 20 or 30 minutes because we were tired.

“When we got back to the car, every single thing in the car was gone. Every single bag. We swear it was corporate espionage.”

Also included are “the time Tony Fadell lost an iPhone prototype on a plane,” “the time Tony Fadell went behind Steve Jobs’s back to make the iPhone work with a stylus (though it didn’t eventually ship with one),” and “the time Tony Fadell laughed and laughed at Steve Ballmer.” Basically, there’s a lot of Tony Fadell.


By Jason Snell

The iPhone’s first 10th birthday

The original iPhone, today.

It’s true—ten years ago Apple announced the iPhone. This is the first of two 10th birthdays the iPhone will get this year, because although the device was announced at Macworld Expo in January of 2007, it wasn’t actually released until June 29.

As you might expect, there have been a bunch of excellent reminiscences about the events of 10 years ago around the Web today. Stephen Hackett linked to a bunch on 512 Pixels, including the excellent episode of the Prompt where the boys broke down the iPhone keynote, Incomparable style. Marco Arment and Stephen Hackett had some personal reflections. John Gruber linked to his original piece on the subject. We talked about it a lot on today’s episode of Upgrade. And Apple posted a thing that was a celebration of the original iPhone—and also of the iPhone 7.

As for me, I was fortunate not only to be in the audience for the keynote, but I got to be one of the few members of the press who were allowed to try one out in a briefing room off the show floor later that week. Fortunately, my story about that experience is still online, so you can read it for yourself. Here’s my favorite bit:

In any event, I can admit that I found it quite difficult to form complete sentences while I was holding the iPhone. In terms of sheer gadget magnetism, its power can not be overstated.

You do these reminiscences long enough and you start writing reminiscences about your reminiscences. Which is why I’m also happy to point you to what I wrote on the occasion of the iPhone’s fifth anniversary, if only for the amazing photo of Steve Jobs looking at the phone on the show floor.

When the iPhone arrived, I wrote the Macworld review, and reading it back today I’m amazed at how much time I spent on the phone portion of the device. Today, my iPhone is revolutionary internet communication device first, widescreen “video iPod” second, and telephone third. And that’s okay. But at the time, whether it was a decent phone was a big question.

This is also the 10th anniversary of Apple changing its corporate name from Apple Computer to Apple Inc. Look back at that keynote and you can see why: Not only did it unveil the iPhone, the product that has come to represent Apple and dominate its business… it was also the day that the original Apple TV was named and given a ship date. All while the iPod was wildly successful. If there was ever a day for Apple to remove the word “computer” from its name, that was the day.

Yes, I have an original iPhone and an iPod Hi-Fi. And they both still work!

One final anecdote about the original iPhone: Six months is a long time to wait for such an anticipated product. The closest Apple analog I can provide is probably the Apple Watch, which was also announced six months before it shipped. Apple’s initial announcement and subsequent press briefings the week of Macworld Expo was all the information we got until the product shipped. We had so many questions and there weren’t a lot of answers.

macworld-march2007

We also had about three official images, released by Apple, to use as the basis for our magazine coverage. As you can imagine, every single story about the iPhone used those images. You saw them everywhere, in all web coverage as well as in magazines. We were really concerned about putting the same old image on the cover of the magazine—especially since we assumed our competitor would be using that image, too.

So what we ended up doing was working with an illustrator named Joe Zeff, who made some amazing 3-D illustrations for many issues of Macworld. Joe created a photorealistic iPhone (and a set of white earbuds!) in 3D and we used it as the cover art for our first iPhone issue, with an Apple-supplied iPhone screenshot added in. (We would later repeat this process for the iPad, which had similar issues of being announced—with limited photography available—way before it actually shipped.)

Anyway, if there’s one theme that runs through all these reminiscences today, it’s that it’s hard to believe that it’s been ten years. I really do believe that the day the iPhone was announced is probably the single most significant day in the history of the technology industry, because the modern smartphone—a product category defined by the iPhone—has changed the world and will continue to change it for years into the future. We got to witness a bit of history being made on stage that day in San Francisco.

(See you back here in six months for the iPhone’s real birthday.)


Podcast

Upgrade #123: Sheer Gadget Magnetism

Upgrade

This week on Upgrade we celebrate the 10th anniversary of the iPhone, featuring Jason’s reactions to the iPhone back in the day. Then we tell the horrific tale of the day San Diego got “Ahoy Telephoned.”



Linked by Dan Moren

Phil Schiller talks iPhone anniversary, voice-based interfaces with Steven Levy

Speaking of the iPhone’s 10th birthday, Steven Levy has an interview with Apple’s Phil Schiller about the momentous occasion. Among other things, Schiller discussed the nascent virtual assistant market and took aim at Amazon:

“That’s really important,” Schiller says, “and I’m so glad the team years ago set out to create Siri — I think we do more with that conversational interface that anyone else. Personally, I still think the best intelligent assistant is the one that’s with you all the time. Having my iPhone with me as the thing I speak to is better than something stuck in my kitchen or on a wall somewhere.”

Well, I reply, Amazon sees its Alexa voice interface not as something pinned to one device, but a ubiquitous and persistent cloud-based product that can listen to you anywhere.

“People are forgetting the value and importance of the display,” he says “Some of the greatest innovations on iPhone over the last ten years have been in display. Displays are not going to go away. We still like to take pictures and we need to look at them, and a disembodied voice is not going to show me what the picture is.”

I don’t know that I’d agree with Schiller’s assessment here. For one thing, I find dealing with a voice-based interface in the privacy of my home a lot more friendly than standing around in public talking to my phone, and I think most people would tend to agree with that.

As for the display issue, well, it’s clear that Amazon’s already thinking ahead to that, but I think that Siri’s biggest problem is that it does rely too much on having a screen to fall back to, which can be annoying if you’re in a situation where you’re not near your phone. It’d be great if Apple had a way to detect if your phone was in your hand or on the table (and it probably can, using the accelerometer, for example), and responded in the way that was appropriate for the context.

Either way, I think voice-based assistants are here to stay, but they definitely haven’t achieved their full potential yet.


By Dan Moren

Happy 10th birthday, iPhone!

Holy cow, the iPhone turns ten today! A decade of multitouch and little rounded-rectangle icons.

No joke: I took a picture of where I was sitting reading the iPhone keynote liveblog. Guess I knew it would be historic.

Ironically, the original iPhone keynote was pretty much the only Apple event I missed during my tenure at Macworld. Ten years ago today, I was sitting in a hallway in the Las Vegas Convention Center, where I’d been sent—as a freelancer—to cover CES, and instead I was refreshing live coverage from my colleagues at the MacUser blog who were watching live at the Moscone Center. (Ah, the days before Apple events were streamed live.)

Macworld Expo 2007
The original iPhone on the show floor at Macworld Expo 2007.

Needless to say, the only thing anybody at CES was talking about for the next day was the iPhone, and I gladly hopped my flight to the Bay Area to get a look at the device close up. (Well, in a giant rotating glass cylinder on the Macworld Expo Show Floor.) It would be almost six months before we could get our hands on shipping units, but it was clear even then that this was about to change everything.

Today’s iPhone is both noticeably different from that first model and yet instantly recognizable as an evolution of the same product. I’ve owned most of the models over the years (excepting the Plus versions, the SE, and randomly, the iPhone 5s), and the experience certainly has remained more or less constant over that time. Some rumors suggest Apple’s planning a major revision for the tenth anniversary of the iPhone—I’m skeptical. Apple doesn’t tend to care too much about marking the passage of time: if the company’s ready to deliver a major revision of the product, it will; if it isn’t, then it won’t. It’s not going to make that decision based on a calendar.

So here’s to another decade of the iPhone’s success. If you want a look back at where it all started, enjoy this trip down memory lane: the original keynote. Which I wasn’t at. Not that I’m bitter.1


  1. Okay, I’m a little bitter.  ↩

[Dan Moren is a tech writer, novelist, podcaster, and the Official Dan of Six Colors. You can email him at dan@sixcolors.com or find him on Twitter at @dmoren.]


Linked by Jason Snell

San Diego gets Ahoy Telephoned

A TV station in San Diego did a story about a little girl buying things accidentally through an Amazon Echo. Then the anchor said something he shouldn’t have:

“I love the little girl, saying ‘Alexa ordered me a dollhouse,’” said [Jim] Patton. As soon as Patton said that, viewers all over San Diego started complaining their echo devices had tried to order doll houses.

You can turn off voice ordering on the Echo, and maybe you should. But broadcasters and podcasters alike are going to need to be aware of the trigger words that exist for these devices and try not to use them for as long as this is an issue.

Update: I heard from a few people on Twitter who think that broadcasters shouldn’t modify the way they speak out of fear of activating badly implemented voice technology. Those people have a deep misunderstanding of the responsibility any communicator has with his or her audience. It doesn’t matter if the tech is badly implemented—what matters is that something you say can mess up the technology of people in your audience, and to take care to not trigger that technology is to show your audience care and respect. To blithely ignore it because it’s really the fault of Apple or Amazon or Google or Microsoft (or worse, the fault of the user for having the tech configured that way) is disrespectful, rude, and arrogant.

No professional broadcaster wants to alienate their audience, which is why I suspect that a lot of TV and radio people are learning rapidly that there are a few key phrases that should probably not be spoken for the next few years, until this technology improves. Yep, it’s dumb and it should be that way, but that’s life.


Linked by Dan Moren

What an iPod-based iPhone would have looked like

Sonny Dickson:

Instead of the modern touch-driven interface we now call iOS, it featured an operating system dubbed “Acorn OS” (this was an internal code name, and it unclear if it would have kept that name if it had been released), which is derived from the acorn shown on boot. It presents an on-screen click wheel, which took up the bottom portion of the screen, and on the other half of the screen, a UI identical to the one found on the beloved iPod, with options such as “Dial”, “SMS”, “Music”, “Contacts” and “Recents”, however lacking a browser option. The interface is interacted with in the same way an iPod would be operated.

It’s long been documented that there were essentially two factions in the development of the iPhone: Tony Fadell, who helped created the iPod and wanted the iPhone to run a version of the music player’s OS, and Scott Forstall, who argued that the iPhone should instead be based on the Mac’s operating system. Forstall won, Fadell left the company, and the rest is history.1

There’s never been much seen of the iPod-based iPhone concepts since Apple is pretty rigorous about destroying prototypes (some patent drawings do exist), but Dickson’s pictures seem to be showing the actual prototype version of the iPod-based OS. It’s easy to knock them with a decade’s hindsight, but at the same time I think we can agree that Apple probably wouldn’t have been the one to reinvent the smartphone market if this were what it had come out with.


  1. The nail in the coffin of course being when Steve Jobs jokingly showed off a rumored look at the iPhone in the smartphone’s debut.  ↩