Rumours Circling That Apple is a For-Profit Company

Dawn Chmielewski, Re/Code:

The teardown of the 38mm Apple Watch Sport shows an estimated bill of materials of $81.20, with the cost rising to $83.70 when the projected manufacturing expense is added. The device’s retail price is $349, implying a gross margin of nearly 76 percent.

I've seen a lot of feather spitting about this in my Twitter feed this morning, why it comes as a surprise to people that Apple — a corporation, existing in a capitalist society — is trying to make as much profit out of one of their products, is baffling to me.

The 76% figure is based on the raw materials only as well, with nothing taken into account for labour, R&D, running machinery... anything! Of course, these things are pretty much impossible to know but Apple has reported the margin to be around the 40% figure during their recent investors conference call.

The Loop Magazine: Issue 33

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In the latest issue of The Loop Magazine, app developer Mateusz Stawecki of Glide has an extremely well put together piece about emotional insecurity amongst those of us in the "technology community" featuring interview excerpts from five participants: Amy Worrall, Baz Scott, Carola Nitz, Casey Liss, and yours truly.

Honestly, I feel like I very much don't belong amongst four other such talented individuals, to say I'm surprised is a complete understatement – I'm humbled. My thanks to Mateusz for allowing me to be a small part of something on The Loop Magazine, as a fan and subscriber of the magazine it truly is an honour.

Jim Dalrymple, Editor of The Loop:

The Loop Magazine released a new issue today with eight new articles. You can download the app for iPhone and iPad and get a free preview of every article in this month’s issue. You can purchase the issue for $1.99 or get a subscription for just $1.99 per month and get access to all of the issues.

In this issue:

Review: 12-inch MacBook: Jim Dalrymple got his hands on one of the new MacBooks Apple recently introduced and gives you his thoughts, from the Retina display to using the one USB-C port.

Skating To Where The MacBook Is Going To Be: Rene Ritchie takes a look at why the all-new MacBook is ahead of the curve and why competitors will have a hard time catching Apple.

The MacBook: A New Mac Laptop For A New Mac Customer: Peter Cohen tackles the criticism lobbed at the new MacBook and why he thinks they are wrong.

What Entertainment Looks Like In The Cord Cutting Age: Cable TV isn’t gone yet, but Darren Murph imagines what the future of TV will look like.

Behind The Mask: This is a really great piece written by Mateusz Stawecki. He talked to some of the people we hear speaking at conferences and finds out what bothers them about public speaking.

Apple Pay: Technology Done Right: Jim Dalrymple looks at Apple Pay and how the new payment technology is working for developers.

To Live, Or To View? Periscope and Meerkat Are Turning Life Into ‘Show & Tell’: Darren Murph looks at how some new apps have changed we way we share our lives.

My Life with iPad: The iPad recently turned five years old. Jim Dalrymple talks about his love of Apple’s tablet device.

Popcorn Time Set For Injunction

James Vincent, The Verge:

Popular streaming app Popcorn Time will be blocked in the UK after a successful legal challenge from Hollywood movie studios. The app — which has been dubbed "Netflix for pirates" thanks to its slick and easy-to-use interface — will be banned under the same laws used to target torrent sites like The Pirate Bay.

Looks like copyright holders have their beating steaks out again. Sorry UK, that order of carrots isn't being delivered to the TV and movie studios any time soon.

Torrent sites such as The Pirate Bay have been officially blocked in the UK for a while now, but are still accessible thanks to workarounds such as proxies that re-route internet traffic through other countries. Research from intellectual property firm Incopro even claims that sites blocked by ISPs in this way retain 73 percent of their original traffic and continue to attract users.

In other words, this won't work.

As usual my advice to the studios is to change their fucked-up business model for 2015 so that it isn't designed to piss off their customers and lose them an assload of money as a consequence.

Dropbox: A Story of Unrealized Potential

When Dropbox launched in 2008 it was remarkable, people weren't much talking about "the cloud" before Dropbox, but they sure were once it hit the scene. iCloud was still three years away at this point, and the notion that you could access your files anywhere, on any device was remarkable. Even more remarkable was the fact that it worked, Dropbox was reliable and robust, leaving cloud skeptics thinking twice, and catching the eye of a certain Steve Jobs. Dropbox felt like the future, or at the very least a product and company that was going to be heavily involved in influencing the future, particularly with regards to mobile.

But fast-forward nearly seven years and it doesn't seem like Dropbox has really moved forward all that much. It's comfortably the most reliable of the popular consumer cloud services but the same was true seven years ago – what have they done for us lately? I use Dropbox, but I find myself using it less and less. I find their iOS apps as horrid to use as they've ever been despite numerous updates; and more than anything else Dropbox remains chained to an increasingly antiquated-feeling traditional filesystem. It's easy to champion Dropbox's decision to stick with this system, given it's reliability and the contrasting woes of iCloud prior to the launch of iCloud Drive. But to do so is short-sighted and sets expectation painfully low for an area of technology that has a lot of room for improvement. 

Users don't really want to have to deal with their documents in a filesystem any more than they do their music or photos, but that's exactly what we've got and Dropbox is an extension of that. Apple may well have failed with their original implementation of iCloud by abstracting the filesystem and keeping files within apps, but at least they tried doing something different. Apple saw a problem and tried to solve it, Dropbox on the other hand either don't realise the problem or choose not to tackle it – that makes me question their ambition. Is Dropbox truly innovative, or are they dragged down by their own expectational debt?

There are other signs of lacking ambition as well. They acquired email client Mailbox in early 2013 and have seemingly done very little with it, last I checked it still only works with Gmail and iCloud, which means I can't use it even if I wanted to. Having Gmail and iCloud covered is important but you're still leaving a lot of people out, even something as widespread as Yahoo Mail doesn't get a look in. This kind of product stagnation could cost them soon with Carousel too as Photos.app is adopted by more and more Mac users, meaning their entire photo collection will be in the cloud for them on all their devices in a more integrated way than Dropbox could hope to achieve. 

 Dropbox also offers email app Mailbox and photo backup service Carousel.

Dropbox also offers email app Mailbox and photo backup service Carousel.

Here's a question — and I wonder if the executive team at Dropbox have ever asked themselves this — is Dropbox a service or a platform? The answer is both and it was recently answered as such rather resoundingly by the creators of Glide, an amazing tool that uses Dropbox as the back-end to create fully-fledged, high quality iOS apps simply by storing text, images, and video in Dropbox. This is the future and Dropbox are completely missing out on it, they don't even realise what they're sitting on. Their loss is going to be Glide's gain and the potential here is astounding; Glide has the chance to do for apps what Squarespace did for web design – bring it to the masses in a very real way – and that would be huge. I bet Dropbox has never even considered itself as a platform, never mind come up with something as revolutionary as Glide. Dropbox is great, but it could be so much more, and I fear it won't be.

A New Way To Waste Your Phone's Battery

BBC News:

Japan's Sharp has announced the first smartphone screen capable of showing images in 4K resolution.

The 5.5in (14cm) component packs in 806 pixels per inch. That outclasses Samsung's new flagship model by a wide margin. The Galaxy S6 offers 577ppi on a slightly smaller display.

Another pointless specs race. While the megapixel race took up more space on your phone's internal storage without adding any real quality to your photos, this will run your battery down faster without any percieved quality in picture display.

Speaking Of Cocktails...

Decent guide from Mashable if you're interested in making your own cocktails and how to go about it. The video isn't so helpful but the writing is.

For me the most common mistake people make with cocktails is overcomplicating it. Over the years, classic cocktail recipies have been bastardised and new cocktails seem to feel the need to have about ten different ingredients, making it very tempting to go crazy for those just starting out. 

Start by limiting yourself to drinks with 4 or less core ingredients. Not only will you have a greater chance of success by doing this but complex, modern-day cocktails are generally overrated anyway. Cocktails should be simple, the whole idea is to combine a select few ingredients that compliment each other well and add up to something greater than the sum of their parts. If you're adding tons of stuff together then you're trying too hard to force something that probably isn't there.

Take for instance my favourite cocktail: a vodka gimlet. Vodka, lime juice, and simple syrup – that's all it is. Why not give it a go?

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Highball, From Studio Neat

Great little app from Studio Neat for keeping your cocktail recipies in one place. Not only that but you can look up recipies and share yours with others as well.

Cocktail recipies can be tricky to remember, getting the balance between the ingredients correct is absolutely key. Highball provides an easy way to store all your favourite cocktails easily and refer to them quickly to make sure you've not got your measures wrong.

Invaluable for all cocktail lovers... oh, and it's totally free as well.

Illegal Downloading In Australia

This recent story about illegal downloading in Australia caught my eye while browsing the BBC website:

An Australian court has ordered internet service providers (ISPs) to hand over details of customers accused of illegally downloading a US movie.

In a landmark move, the Federal Court told six firms to divulge names and addresses of those who downloaded The Dallas Buyers Club.

The case was lodged by the US company that owns the rights to the 2013 movie.

Standard fare I suppose. I'm not too interested into getting into the nitty gritty of the morality/immorality of file sharing.

Australians are among the world's most regular illegal downloaders of digital content. The delay in release dates for new films and TV shows, and higher prices in Australia for digital content, have prompted many Australians to find surreptitious ways to watch new shows.

This is obviously what's driving the piracy. The delayed release date make no sense, not in 2015. There's no reason it has to be this way, the ability to distribute content worldwide is technologically very easy. Millions of dollars is being left on the table by film and TV studios because of their own stupid licensing methods. There's a huge demand which isn't being adressed commercially and so people are taking matters into their own hands.

The simple solution would be to make sure that content is delivered to people as fast and as easily as possible. But instead of using this carrot approach, the studios are opting to use the stick.

Justice Perram said the ruling was also important for deterring illegal downloading.

"It is not beyond the realm of possibilities that damages of a sufficient size might be awarded under this provision in an appropriately serious case in a bid to deter people from the file-sharing of films," he said.

Insanity. You know what would be a real deterrant? Realising that these people are potential customers, meeting their demands, and taking their money.

Phone Bending

Looks like Samsung's ridiculous strategy of poking fun at Apple has backfired again

Stress tests on handsets carried out by SquareTrade showed:

  • Both the S6 Edge and iPhone 6 Plus deformed when a force of 110lb (50kg) was applied. The screen on Samsung's phone cracked at this level, but the iPhone's did not
  • HTC's latest phone - the One M9 - did not bend until 120lb, at which * point it also broke and became unusable
  • The S6 Edge's breaking point was 149lb, at which stage it ceased to function
  • The iPhone 6 Plus stopped working at a force of 179lb

My advice to all smartphone owners worried about their phones bending remains the same: don't bend your phone. Problem solved.

Technically Correct 17: In The Luxembourg Shower Room

This week on the show: Richard wins the award for world's worst interviewer, Simon and I talk about the Úll Conference and we all discuss Radioshack's plan to sell customer data and the pros and cons of Apple's plans for how to sell the Apple Watch.

The Technically Correct Podcast is supported by Hover. Hover provide simplified domain management — check them out today!

The Úll Conference

After a week travelling around Ireland, I’m finally on the last leg of my journey home, reflecting on just how amazing an experience this year’s Úll Conference was. Trying to put it into words is awfully difficult, especially seen as I have no reference point or comparison, given that this was my first tech conference.

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Just typing that out — “tech conference” — feels wrong. Úll felt like so much more than that. The organisers Paul, Dermot, and Sasha are either very astute, hardworking individuals, with a keen eye for detail, or horrendously lucky. My bet is most certainly the former. Everything about the conference wasn’t just exquisitely put together, but it was exquisitely timed as well. The late start of 2pm on the first day was a stroke of genius for two reasons. Firstly, a good number of us had come a day early to settle into the hotel and have a beautiful dinner at the nearby Aghadoe Heights. Naturally this carried on to the bar at the hotel late into the night and so we were certainly appreciative of the later start the following day. Secondly, a number of attendees and speakers were travelling large distances to be here and jet lag was undoubtedly going to be a factor. Not only that but as it tuned out, a number of flights out of Philadelphia had been delayed which caused folks to arrive later than planned – including at least one of the speakers. Plenty of time was also given to attendees to socialise between talks and the time allocated for sessions was just enough to get around everything and take in a taste from all that was on offer.

Then we come to the venue, and what a venue it was. Following on from the success of 2014 where the conference was moved from Dublin to Kilkenny, this year saw the event taken to The Europe Hotel, situated in the picturesque Killarney national park, overlooking a beautiful lake and mountains. The backdrop was utterly breathtaking, and the mist and fog that we had to endure only added to the sense of wonder about the place as it swirled around the hilltops across the lake. Not only did it feel like we had the whole of the hotel to ourselves (which we actually did), but it felt like there was nothing around us for miles.

It would be criminal to describe the talks and sessions as a sideshow to the conversations being had and the connections being formed amongst the attendees, but in a way it kind of was. Technology lovers and developers aren’t exactly the most naturally sociable types, what the conference did was provide us all with an excuse to leave our homes and all come together to socialise. The talks and sessions were amazing but even more amazing was seeing how much fun people were having and how many new relationships were forming around you, it’s almost as if the whole event was a mere slight of hand, used to trick us into being in the same room. Perhaps that’s a slight over-exaggeration but it doesn’t feel too far from the truth. I think this is something the organisers are acutely aware of, the speakers page on the Úll website carries the tagline: “Hand-picked to get the conversation started.” I really felt that was true, they were there not only to provide informative, thought-provoking, and humorous talks themselves; but to foster exactly the same kind of discussion between everyone in attendance… and it worked, big-time.

I'm now waiting for the inevitable conference crash, but I've done my best to stave it off, travelling to Cork and Dublin for sightseeing and catching up with friends. It's been a worthwhile and effective solution so far but now it's time for home and of course work, I think this may be a tough week to get through. Already I can't wait for next year.

Creating The Aeropress

Great interview with Alan Adler, the inventor of the Aeropress and the Aerobie. I use my Aeropress at least once, most days. You'll struggle to find coffee as good made with any other machine.

Adler seems like a really amazing, really smart guy. He's 76 and still at it trying new ideas for inventions.

I almost couldn't believe this little exchange:

Even the filters are cheap.

Generally it’s three hundred and fifty filters for about three dollars and fifty cents. And you can even reuse them.

You reuse your filters?

I did for years. And my wife was always saying to me, “Alan you don’t have to reuse filters, you have all the filters you want,” so I’m not doing it so much anymore.

OS X Menu Bar Options

Speaking of shortcuts, Garrett Murray of Useful Mac has some good tips that will allow you to take charge of your menu bar at the top of your Mac. Just a two minute read and it could save you untold amounts of time in the long run.

 Using multiple sound or audio sources? Take command using the menu bar with relative ease.

Using multiple sound or audio sources? Take command using the menu bar with relative ease.

I'm always amazed just how many powerful things are a mere ⌥-click away on your Mac. It's kind of insane.

Secret Controls For Your Apple TV

Rene Ritche of iMore takes you through 15 great shortcuts and button combinations that you can utilise on the remote of your Apple TV.

I knew about half of these but had no idea about the others that Rene points out – some of which are insanely useful. For example, I'm sure not going to forget the shortcut for resetting the device, something all Apple TV owners can attest to being a pain point.

Nice one, Rene!

The 2015 Chromebook Pixel

To a large extent the Chromebook Pixel sits in the blindspot of my technological interests. Unless Google changes it's business model I've no intentions of using one of their products by choice and since the Pixel is designed around Google's services it's not something I'm going to take seriously.

But what caught my eye about this year's model is how nice it looks. The same issues are there as before: $999 for a glorfied web browser is probably the harshest charge I could legitmately throw at this thing, but no doubt about it having a nice design. I particularly like the USB-C connectors being on both sides of the device which will allow you to charge the thing from either side.

What I do wonder though is why this device is as thick as it is. In a week where Apple announced the crazy thin 12 inch, fanless MacBook; Google are annoucning a laptop thick enough to still have a regular-sized USB port. Remember this is a device that runs entirely in the cloud and therefore shouldn't need a lot to power it... The Verge have described it "a little heavy". I find that kind of surprising.

Thoughts On Apple Watch

It’s been a whole week since Apple’s Spring Forward keynote and I’ve had plenty of time to dwell on the Apple Watch and everything else that was presented at the Yerba Buena Center. That said, I’m still no closer to deciding if I’ll purchase one or not.

It’s a damn safe bet that the Apple Watch will be a success, I have no doubts about that. You can safely cast aside all the naysayers with their predications of the Watch being a “flop”, I’ve not seen one reasoned argument to suggest how on earth that will be the case and Apple’s track record on product successes has been… let’s say ‘pretty good' over the past fifteen to twenty years. More pertinent than all of that though is where the benchmark is currently set:

TalkAndroid:

Market research firm Canalys found that Android Wear accounted for more than 720,000 devices of the 4.6 million wearables shipped in 2014. That means less than 750,000 units shipped in seven months of availability.

750,000 units? I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Apple achieves that in the first week of being on sale.

Other doubts surrounding the Watch seem to centre around the notion that it’s just a small iPhone and of course all the usual suspects have trotted out the beleaguered and beaten old line that only one specific group of people will buy it – “the apple faithful”. At this point you look like a moron that’s completely out of touch with reality when you use that line. Apple sold over 70 million iPhones last quarter, newsflash folks: people that buy Apple products aren’t some weird niché group, it’s mainstream fucking culture. Your knuckles must be awfully sore from dragging them around the floor of your cave all day, come outside and we’ll get them patched up while catching you up with everything that’s happened since 2007.

As for the Apple Watch just being a smaller iPhone, I think Rene Ritchie at iMore swats that aside with consummate ease, much more elegantly than I could hope to:

The Apple Watch isn’t an iPhone any more than the iPhone is a Mac. Computing has moved from the server room to the desktop to the laptop to the pocket and now onto the wrist. Every time that’s happened, every time it’s moved to a new, more personal place, those of us who were used to it in its old place have become slightly anxious, we’ve become subject to our own expectational debt.

In other words: technology is once again moving relentlessly forward to a new medium, you can either accept and embrace it, or fall behind and dismiss it. Whether the Apple Watch will ultimately be a phenomenon or not is irrelevant… the Smartwatch as a whole is going to be a phenomenon at some point. You can argue that Apple is a few years early to the game with this, but give it time and let’s see what happens. It’s far better to be too early to the party than too late, and if you don’t believe me then just ask Microsoft.

I think the Apple Watch has genuine uses. Notifications to your wrist may seem unnecessary at first but when you think about it for a little while you begin to realise that you can set everything up so that your phone gets the notifications you deem don’t deem important or pressing and everything else comes to your watch. That way you can only be interrupted when you feel it’s necessary and a quick glance at your wrist is a much more polite way to deal with a social interruption. The health and fitness potential of this thing is pretty amazing, it’s way more compelling to me than any of the fitness bands out on the market right now and I think this may be the single most compelling use case for the Apple Watch I’ve seen so far. Beyond any of that is what developers can achieve on this new platform, and this is undoubtedly how the true potential of the device will be realised. I think the single most useful example we’ve seen of this so far is the ability to be able to unlock your hotel room door by waving your wrist in front of it. No need to worry about losing hotel keycards, or checking in. Add this to flight updates from apps like American Airlines, simple taxi requesting from Uber, and Apple’s own Passbook app allowing you to have your airplane boarding card on your wrist, and it’s safe to say the Apple Watch will be one hell of a useful travel companion.

Something I’ve seen very little discussion over as well is maps. Again, like notifications, having maps on your wrist doesn’t seem like that big a benefit at first but you can quickly begin to realise just how short-sighted that notion is. When I’m in a city that I don’t know I use maps on my phone all the time to find my way around. I consistently feel stupid walking around staring down at my phone like an idiot and I’m always weary of someone snatching the phone from me while I’m in my distracted state. It would be much better if I had directions that I could follow on my wrist. Not only is it more difficult to steal but I’d look like less of an obvious tourist as well. I think the Apple Watch could be a fantastic piece of kit for providing directions, specifically walking directions.

All that considered, does the Apple Watch solve enough problems to justify another device and the price tag that comes along with it? I’m really not sure, it’s almost too close to call right now. But I don’t doubt that at some point within the next two years, as more and more apps are released, that the answer to that question will be a resounding yes. The real question is how quickly will it happen?