June 6, 2017 brianradio2016

It’s your alarm in the bedroom and your assistant in the kitchen. It gives you news and weather in the living room, and maybe music and sports updates in the basement or garage. Multiple Echo devices work seamlessly around your house. Just ask, and Echo uses spacial perception to determine which device should respond. It makes sense to have Echo in multiple rooms, and when you buy multiple devices right now you’ll be rewarded with a discount. If you buy three Echo Dots @ $49.99 per Dot, You’ll get a $20 discount. If you buy two of the all new Echo Show devices @ $229.99 per Show, Amazon will give you a generous $100 discount if you use the code SHOW2PACK. Echo Show gives you all the benefits of Alexa, but features a screen for presenting information, videos, weather, or even video calls to other Echo device users. Go in with a friend or family member on this one.

This story, “Echo Dot and New Echo Show Discounted When You Buy Multiple – Deal Alert” was originally published by TechConnect.

June 6, 2017 brianradio2016

iPhone 5

Apple has officially announced its new iOS 11, and since this update will only run on 64-bit devices, this means it’s the end of the line for some devices.

See also: Apple transformed the WWDC keynote into a big hardware sales pitch

On the chopping block are:

  • iPhone 5
  • iPhone 5c
  • iPad 4

This means that the oldest Apple devices to support iOS 11 will be the iPhone 5s and iPad Air.

iOS 11 will also mean the end of the road for all 32-bit apps. Any that are not updated by the time iOS 11 is released will stop working.

iOS 10 has a built-in feature for highlighting which apps are affected:

Settings > General > About > Applications > App Compatibility

iOS 11 will be available as a public beta for supported devices in July, and is scheduled for release in the fall.

WWDC 2017 highlights

June 6, 2017 brianradio2016

I miss Steve Jobs and his 'Reality Distortion Field'

Yes, Darth Vader made an appearance at Apple’s WWDC 2017 keynote.

Yesterday’s WWDC keynote made me nostalgic for the Steve Jobs days, with his laid back style and calming ‘Reality Distortion Field.’

See also : Apple transformed the WWDC keynote into a big hardware sales pitch

Keynotes of past were tranquil. Peaceful. Even Zen. The excitement was limited to a new product or feature, and the event was carefully paced so that everyone had time to absorb the information, and take a breath before moving on.

We were teased with new products and given more than we expected, but not so much as to feel overwhelmed or overcome.

Pricing was discussed, but in a low-key, discreet, and tasteful way.

But not anymore.

Yesterday’s keynote was less Zen and more a Marvel or Star Wars movie. There were spaceships and laser blasts and TIE fighters screaming across the stage, volcanoes and lava, and even Darth Vader made an appearance.

And the pacing was breakneck, reminiscent of a Michael Bay Transformers movie, with everything coming at you at a furious, non-stop pace. There wasn’t a moment to catch your breath and take in what you’d seen a second ago before a new presenter was flinging more stuff at you.

I think the only time I relaxed during the entire keynote was during the five seconds it took me to down a Red Bull.

But it wasn’t just the style that was different; the content was also noticeably altered.

It used to be that Apple didn’t unveil products during the WWDC keynote. WWDC is a developer conference; as such, Apple has focused on things that are of interest to those building apps for its various platforms. Sure, there are plenty of examples where the presentation was kicked into the weeds, but these were the exception, not the norm.

But not anymore.

Now the keynote is the place to hit developers over the head with new products. Product update after product update was unveiled, along with several new products, even products that had no direct relationship with developers (such as the HomePod). Now Apple can save on the expense and effort of having launch events for products by cramming them into the WWDC keynote.

I wonder how much of this is driven by the fact that there’s really not enough that’s new and exciting about Apple’s products to demand a launch event. Even new products such as the iMac Pro and HomePod were done to death after about 10 minutes.

It was crass and tasteless and so unlike past keynotes that I’m led to the conclusion that Apple is so worried about hardware sales that it transformed the keynote into a cringeworthy sales event.

OK, maybe we’re not at “Steve Ballmer monkey dance” levels of cringe yet, but Craig Federighi’s quippy segments, with their not-so-subtle weed jokes, are getting close.

If this is the reality of an Apple event from now on, it makes me long for the ‘Reality Distortion Field‘ that Jobs wielded so expertly. He had an effortless onstage charisma that went beyond special effects, scripted jokes, and frantic pacing.

He sold you stuff without you realizing it. Now, you can smell the desperation, almost as if everyone on stage is on commission.

I miss you, Steve.

WWDC 2017 highlights

June 6, 2017 brianradio2016

Six weeks ago, Microsoft decreed that Windows 10 would be refreshed twice a year, in September and March, to make its release schedule more predictable, and thus, more tolerable to enterprises.

Almost unnoticed was that the Redmond, Wash., company announced a virtually identical scheme for corporate subscribers to Office 365. Office 365 ProPlus — the application suite provided to customers under plans like the $20-per-user-per-month Enterprise E3 and the $35-per-user-per-month Enterprise E5 — would be upgraded every six months, just like Windows 10.

Calling it an “alignment with Windows 10,” Microsoft outlined how it plans to deliver and support ProPlus, starting in September. We’ve distilled Microsoft’s description to the most important questions and, of course, answers.

What’s the new schedule for Office updates? March and September, annually, like Windows 10.

June 6, 2017 brianradio2016

We’ve already had the launch event for the HomePod and the iMac Pro, as well as a new iPad Pro and a refreshed iMac and MacBook line. Looks like the iPhone might be the final launch event of 2017, with the tech press being recruited to fill the void for other releases.

What else explains Apple offering a sneak peek at stuff that’s not going to be out for months?

Seems the iMac Pro and HomeHub aren’t worthy of a separate launch event, maybe because both are niche devices.

June 6, 2017 brianradio2016

Microsoft’s new continuous-delivery model, with Windows releases every six months or so, makes sense for the desktop. But does it work for Windows Server? Certainly, Microsoft didn’t think so at first. Windows Server 2016 comes from the Long-Term Servicing Build (LTSB) of Windows, with only the microservices- and container-focused Nano Server scheduled for regular releases.

More Windows Server, more often

That initial plan appears to be in flux, with Windows Server joining desktop Windows in the Insider program later this summer. Microsoft is also talking about a series of feature releases that will support the GUI-less Windows Server Core and quite possibly the awkwardly named Windows Server with Desktop Experience.

It’s a shift that makes sense. With the RS1 and RS2 releases of Windows, the desktop OS has added developer-centric features at a fast pace. Tools like the Windows System for Linux (WSL) have made it an attractive platform for cloud development, with features that work well with Azure.

Although cloud services have begun to eclipse on-premises servers, on-premises Windows Server is still an important part of any business infrastructure, and a key on-ramp for applications and services into the cloud. That’s why you can’t leave those servers as is for another two or three years, waiting for the next LTSB release, sometime in 2019.

June 6, 2017 brianradio2016

Apple’s marathon WWDC 2017 opening session touched on a bevy of key themes enterprises need to ponder. Overall, artificial intelligence was a key theme and enterprises may be able to step up their augmented reality games. Developers also got a bevy of notable software developer kits.

Here are the big takeaways for technology professionals.

Apple is now playing the artificial intelligence and machine learning game too. Based on a Jackdaw Research analysis, AI has occupied a big chunk of the major developer—Microsoft, Facebook and Google—keynotes in 2017. Apple has now joined the club.

Executives frequently mentioned machine learning and noted how Siri could do more things (like Google Assistant) and use more voices. Siri will get an upgrade on watchOS as well as iOS. As I noted in a preview, Apple’s main task was to outline key AI moves. The company got into the game and conversation with WWDC 2017. More: WWDC 2017: Apple gives Siri top billing on watchOS 4, Apple Watch | CNET: Apple wants Siri to read your mind and take over your home

Hardware upgrades woo pros back and set stage for developers to use augmented (AR) and virtual reality (VR). Apple upgraded its entire Mac line to handle more graphics processing. The iMac Pro could be a nice showpiece or workstation for enterprises. Apple has been behind the curve with hardware updates and has closed the gap with the PC industry.

The extra horsepower was needed given Apple needed to make a stand in augmented reality. Meanwhile, enterprises and content pros will have more faith in the Apple upgrade cycle. Content pros now have better systems. WWDC 2017: Apple reveals macOS refresh, High Sierra | Apple iMac Pro, worth the $4,999 | Apple announces new iMac range, powers up the MacBook | TechRepublic: Apple unleashes 18-core iMac Pro with 128GB RAM, bumps other Macs to Kaby Lake

Developer tools for Siri and AR support the strategic shift to be more AI and AR centric. SiriKit and ARKit were notable additions. If Siri is going to be the primary screen across devices Apple will need to use its developer base to help. On the AR front, ARKit will expose the technology to more developers and consumers. Both of those software developer kits will be strategically important going forward. Apple launches augmented reality developer tools with ARKit | Apple positions Mac updates, Mac OS High Sierra for VR developers

Apple is commerce. Yes, Apple’s main theme was AI and AR, but don’t forget what will pay the bills. Apple Pay will be more integrated and easier to use with iMessage integration. Meanwhile, an iOS 11 upgrade to Maps will include malls and inside spaces. You can see the connective tissue here as Apple profits from the handoff from Apple Pay to internal maps to closing sales and collecting fees. CNET: Apple Pay takes on Venmo with personal money transfers

An App Store revamp may result in more developer profits. Apple’s App Store walkthrough focused on games and apps, but developers had to be thinking better economics. Apple is promising a faster review process and more customer engagement. Let’s face it: You can’t discover many apps on the current App Store. The upgrade will make it easier to find apps and then conduct transactions. TechRepublic: Apple macOS High Sierra kills AutoPlay in Safari, uses machine learning to improve privacy

Apple’s iPad Pro update was overdue, but features like drag and drop and files were outlined like they were something groundbreaking. And those features were great–20 years ago or more. Apple is making the iPad Pro more of a productivity device with its updates, but the company over rotated on the Apple Pencil and will still struggle to convince me an iPad Pro is better than a MacBook. Apple refreshes larger iPad Pro with 10.5-inch display | Your iPad will finally show you files | iOS 11 for iPad includes customizable dock and drag and drop features

WWDC 2017 highlights

June 5, 2017 brianradio2016

WWDC 2017 highlights

Apple’s WWDC opening keynote may have been limited to 2.5 hours, but there was plenty of new products and services announced during that time.

An Amazon Echo competitor, HomePod closed out a show that featured iOS 11, macOS High Sierra, a new iPad Pro, updated watchOS, an AR platform and roughly 10 other announcements I’m likely forgetting.

There was, and still is, a lot to take in from today’s event. Apple had a demonstration area open to press right after the event ended. Naturally, I ran as fast I could to it to get as much time with the devices as I could.

Although, I didn’t take too much time to check out the new MacBooks or iMacs, as there’s not much I can say about the new processors and internal upgrades in a matter of a few minutes.

However, I did take some time to check out the new iPad Pro, Apple’s AR play, and I gawked from afar at the HomePod and iMac Pro.

iPad Pro

The first thing that stands out about the new iPad Pro models is just how bright and clear the display is. The smaller iPad Pro has the same 264 ppi pixel density as the bigger version.

What’s most interesting about the smaller iPad Pro is how thin the bezels are on either side of the screen. The slimming down of bezels allowed Apple to grow the size of the display from 9.7-inches to 10.5-inches, without significantly growing the overall size of the tablet itself. Hopefully this is a preview of what Apple is going to do with the next iPhone.

The 10.5-inch model still weighs right at a pound and feels comfortable to hold in one hand.

The real star of the iPad Pro story today, however, isn’t the new form factor. Instead, it’s the improvements to the overall iPad Pro experience in iOS 11.

A new Files app – finally – gives users access to a limited file system on the iPad. A new multitasking design makes switching between multiple apps easier, removing the headache and fuss of changing between apps on older versions of iOS.

A redesigned app dock is found at the bottom of the iPad Pro’s display, which looks very similar to the dock on a Mac. Users can drag and drop apps into the dock, which is always a swipe from the bottom of the screen away.

Drag-and-drop is also another notable addition to the iPad Pro feature set. Now you can move photos or text between apps using the familiar drag-and-drop method we’ve grown accustomed to on a computer.

During my time with the new iPad Pro, I mainly tested the new features on an early version of iOS 11. They seemed to work as promised, but really, this is something we won’t be able to truly report on until Apple has officially released iOS 11 this fall.

Apple’s AR play

Apple used the same app that was used during the keynote to demonstrate its ARKit platform. The app is rather simple: You scan a flat surface and then place a digital cup of coffee, a lamp, or a vase on the surface. You can then interact with the item on the display of the iOS device; turning the lamp on and off with a tap, for example.

The AR demo was just as smooth as the keynote demo. Actually, it was more impressive due to the difficult lighting from TV camera lights and flashes constantly firing.

While my time with the AR demo was brief – there’s only so much you can do with a fake cup of coffee and a lamp – it was the most impressive of the day.

Until Monday, Apple kept to itself about its intentions for augmented reality and virtual reality for that matter. Up until now, it was assumed Apple had fallen behind Google and Microsoft, both of which have long made it clear what they intend to do with AR.

We may not know just how Apple plans on using its AR tech in the future, but right now it’s giving developers the tools to build with ahead of iOS 11’s release this fall.

In other words, by releasing ARKit now Apple is able to boost the appeal of AR across its iOS devices, but when it’s ready to unveil the full story, developers will also be ready.

HomePod and iMac Pro

Apple had a single iMac Pro and one each of a white and space gray HomePod in the demo area. We were not allowed to touch either product, which is unfortunate but understandable with both products still several months out.

Looking from afar, the new iMac Pro is thicker than the standard iMac (to be expected) and the space gray color is something I wish Apple would bring to the standard iMac.

The HomePod is roughly the height of a bottle of water. It looks like a Mac Pro, only shorter. The display on top of the speaker is bright and visible, to let you know Siri is listening to your commands.

If Apple is able to provide the sound quality it claims in a device as small as the HomePod, then I can see it being a legitimate Sonos replacement for those who are invested in the Apple ecosystem of apps, services, and hardware.