MacBreak Weekly 430 (Transcript)
Leo Laporte: It's time for MacBreak Weekly, Apple replaces free with get on the download button on the app store, declares victory in the patent wars and reaches $700 billion in market cap. MacBreak Weekly is next.
Announcers: Netcasts you love, from people you trust. This is TWiT! Bandwidth for MacBreak Weekly is provided by CacheFly. That's C-A-C-H-E-F-L-Y dot com.
Leo: This is MacBreak Weekly Episode 430, recorded November 25th, 2014.
Gettin' Shingy With It
MacBreak Weekly is brought to you by SmartThings. SmartThings lets you control and monitor your home anywhere in the world, using your smartphone to get started, visit SmartThings.com/twit and you'll save 10% off aLeo:ny home security or solution kit when you use the code TWIT10 at checkout. And by Personal Capital, with Personal Capital you'll finally have all your financial life in one place, and get a clear view of everything you own. Best of all it's free! Just sign up, go to PersonalCapital.com/macbreak. And by Harry's, for guys who want a great shave experience for a fraction of what you're paying now, go to Harrys.com. Get $5 off your first purchase by entering the code MacBreak when you check out. It's time for MacBreak Weekly, the show where we cover the latest Apple news with our good buddies. Andy Inhatko to my left from the Chicago Sun Times.
Andy Inhatko: Hello Leo!
Leo: And he's accompanied by his cosplay team.
Andy: There you go, I'm having a reality show of who gets to be my office assistant for the next three quarters, and this is the cosplay episode in which you had to go... they had a hunting list, they had to get at least eight people including two celebrities to take their picture and post and tweet with the hashtag Andy Inhatko's intern search and it depends on their queue score. But they're a fun group of kids, I enjoyed having them work out for about three months before I fired them all because I didn't need them.
Leo: I wish we could do that. That would be so fun.
Andy: Not as fun I think...
Leo: I wanted all of our interns to wear red Star Trek shirts and Lisa wouldn't go for that. I thought oh that's great because you know, they're the red guy. But she wouldn't go for it.
Andy: You really kind of have them by the throat now because college education is so expensive that if you withhold the college credit they're promised to get for the internship that's like $9,000 down the hole.
Leo: Exactly. And that's why we pay them $25 a week. Rene Ritchie is also here from iMore.com. Hi Rene!
Rene Ritchie: Hey Leo I can't help but notice that they put the red shirt on you today though.
(chiming noises in background)
Leo: They did, I am a redshirt today. Look at that. Why is it... who... where is that coming from? Is that me?
Rene: No, you know.
Off-screen: Okay all of my devices are ringing right now.
Leo: Oh I hate it when that happens.
Off-screen: This is our backup solution in case the connection goes away.
Leo: So that's Google Hangout yeah?
Off-screen: It's not a good backup solution.
Leo: No it happens in my house and it's really horrible. It happened yesterday, I was booking our vacation for next year so I'm talking to the travel agent and she says well it's going to take a while so I'm going to call you back and so there were several call backs and each time, because she was using my Google Voice number, my computer rings, I have five or six phones, tablets, they're all ringing. But the problem is they all ring with different tones, I think this one has The Three Stooges theme.
Rene: Can that trigger your continuity too?
Leo: Huh? Yes! Everything is going off. But I pick up one, but it doesn't matter because it takes a while for the rest to figure out...
Off-screen: Yes exactly.
Leo: So every time she calls me back basically she hears this crazy cacophony of sounds and different ring tones and noises. She must have thought I worked at a symphony or something.
Andy: I was just talking to like a friend of mine about the differences between like iMessage and AOL chat and the other chat things and telling him that it's like I have to readjust my... what is the correct... gentile behavior? Because I'm used to the idea of trying to figure out well I want to call somebody, I don't want to interrupt them because they're doing something important. But now that the responsibility for someone not wanting to talk to Andy Inhatko is now on that person's shoulders. Because if I use iMessage their phone is going to ring, their tablet's going to ring, their computer's going to ring and it's their responsibility to set up blocks to make sure that they don't have to talk to me unless they don't want to. Remember the good old days when you just see... there's a green jewel, there's a yellow jewel or a red jewel to say I'm probably not in a good mood to talk right now, or a green flag that says absolutely, talk to me about what disappointed you about last night's Simpsons.
Leo: We're open for your calls!
Rene: The thing with continuity that can be frustrating is it basically uses Apple's push notification server to alert the other devices to the call, so it essentially sends an iMessage to your iPad and your Mac, and then when it discovers they're on the same wi-fi network, it does something very similar to Facetime and sends the audio call over, but if once you hang up, it's got to send another message telling them you picked up on the other device and depending on the latency of that message, it can keep ringing for seconds and seconds...
Leo: It's a universal problem, Skype does this also and I think there's no good fix for it. But... wow.
Rene: Zero latency messaging, Leo.
Leo: Zero latency messaging, that's what we all need. So I am in a red jewel today because, well, the holidays are upon us, we have a late Thanksgiving in the US this year, which means that everywhere else is celebrating Christmas already. Before we... normally, traditionally we wait until the day after Thanksgiving right? I haven't got the tree or anything, but because it's so late this year, we're kind of behind. So I thought you know, I'm going to break out the red sweater, I only get to wear it one month a year and now is the time. It also means I will be the first to go when we run down to the planet.
Rene: I thought it was product red Leo. I was assured that if I subscribed to Leo right now, it's a product red Leo.
Leo: The product red is an interesting, we actually were talking this before the show. If you go to the Mac app store it is normal, there's not a lot of red in fact the Evernote green kind of dominates my page because it's a featured product but if you go to the iTunes holy cow! Everything is red, all of the apps now are doing red and of course this is product red, Bono's meta charity that raises money for AIDS research and the goal is to have an AIDS-free globe in the next few years. And sure it's a good cause, but... it must be Apple. Does anybody know? Did Apple do this? Because even Farmville is going red.
Rene: I can't give all the details because they're internal, but my understanding is this was a rank and file initiative. Someone inside Apple, not management thought of this idea and then walked it up the chain and Apple improved it.
Leo: That's awesome.
Rene: Yeah, it really is the kind of company Apple is where someone can have an idea like this and it can just spread. And they got these 25 developers to agree to it because these apps had the kind of in-app purchase or purchases set up that made those sorts of deals possible, so when you buy for example, Garage Band, you buy a set of loops. That money goes to charity and then Apple decided to pitch in as well, so on Black Friday if you buy something you'll be given a gift card and a portion of that gift card will go to product red, and then Cyber Monday on the online and retail stores if you buy something, a percentage of the profit Apple makes from those transactions will also go to product red. So the developers are pitching in and Apple is pitching in.
Leo: So normally if I purchase something on the Apple store 30% goes to Apple, but they say in every case where 100% is going to product red, so that means Apple's giving their 30% up as well?
Leo: Wow, that's great. So here's an example, wonderful game. Monument Valley, and they have a whole separate level pack that you can buy that will only be available through December 7th, and by the way I downloaded it. It's really hard. Which is great! And the same thing with Angry Birds. They have special levels that are in-app purchases and in this case it's $0.99 for Ida's Red Dream. It's not a lot of money, but that's nice because it goes straight 100% goes to product red.
Rene: And it's indies too like Realmac is doing it with the Clear to-do app. You can purchase a Clear to-do app and part of that will go to product red. So it's a good mix. I mean Kim Kardashian is in there, and Threes. It's an incredible range of different apps and Apple's own Garage Band is in there.
Leo: That's neat. So with Clear you'll get a special red theme. Which you probably won't want to use because everything looks the same. But still.
Rene: You'll feel good.
Leo: You'll feel good, you'll
feel good. And Apple's supported product red for years. I remember buying a red iPod, that was the U2 iPod. I remember we bought red
smart covers for the new iPads. Both Lisa and Sarah bought red covers. So the proceeds
went to product red. So yeah it's good. That's nice. Clash of Clans, the
warrior has red hair and a red mustache. Wow.
Rene: They updated their icons, they updated their art. It was a significant effort. It all happened Sunday night which is pretty impressive because Apple is on vacation this whole week so they had to get it in.
Leo: And as I understand, everything goes through December 7th or 8th, so if you want to take advantage of these, there's a pile of red gems that you can buy to benefit product red and you can then use it to decorate your town hall for the holidays. It's perfect! Everybody wins.
Andy: And the best thing is it underscores the consumer should be addicted to in-app purchases.
Andy: Don't even think about it, just buy it.
Leo: Don't, just do it. It's good. Actually, I don't want to be a Grinch.
Andy: Do it.
Leo: I just want to make sure...
Andy: You're dressed like Bobbie, not Bob Knight. You know, the coach used to throw chairs at basketball players.
Leo: Right, yeah.
Andy: So if you want to cosplay and be in character like that, you could...
Leo: I'm just, I went to charity navigator to see... before I give to a charity I always go to charity navigator and I see if it's a four star charity. They will investigate the charity as to how much of the money goes to the causes, how much it goes to administration and all that stuff, and I like to pick charities, you know, four star is what I look for. Unfortunately I don't see product red in here. I don't know what that means. But I always like to do that. I guess Red is not a charity in itself. And they don't... yeah, it's not in here. If you go to red.org, which is the product red website, they don't really say exactly which charities the money goes to. Maybe I can find it. I don't want to rain on anybody's parade by any means. Because I mean, this is a... the cause is good. I just want to make sure that it's.... I get nervous when I see all these corporations buying into it.
Rene: Well that's the advantage with Bono, it makes it a trendy or easy thing for them to do.
Leo: Right. Created by Bono and Bobby Shriver in 2006, they've raised immense amounts of money. Here's the annual report. So you can go read the annual report and see.
Rene: One of the things I like is if you go to Apple.com/red it tells you all about this. If you go to Apple.com/what it tells you all about.... their URLs are just so easy to...
Leo: Yeah, let me tell you having been through these web design scrums, this is non-trivial to do this. This Friday buy select Apple products get the... so that's nice. You know what, I think that's what Black Friday should be. Let's make it Red Friday. Because then it's not about oh what can I get for a buck, and Apple's never had great Black Friday deals.
Rene: The black is supposed to be in the black so if you change that to red the retailers...
Leo: They're not going to be happy, yeah. Yeah see I'd like to know a little bit more and goodness knows but everywhere I go to read, including the Apple page doesn't... it says it goes to the global fund to help fun AIDS programs in Africa. They've raised $75 million from Apple alone. It says $275 million for the global fund so... what's wrong about that... but... I don't see like... anyway... I don't want to be a Grinch. Gosh knows I have plenty of product red products. I always buy it when I can. Anyway. Nice job, Apple.
Leo: Nice job.
Andy: It is definitely something that fits their role as a retailer as opposed to a tech company. It's like the relationship you have with your customers that goes beyond here we made this shiny new thing go buy it and it comes to no no, you're part of a community of JC Penny shoppers and you're part of... the fact that you shop at Whole Foods says something about you. We're making a special thing that we're doing that as a community we know that you will love to do and I think that's something that's still very very Apple.
Leo: Here's something, this is from the FAQ. Red takes no money, sale money, 100% of money from the same of products goes directly to the ground in Africa in the form of global fund grants. So I guess there are a variety of grants and they do give 100% so I think that's, that gives... I'll give them four stars. The Leo charity navigator gives them four stars.
Rene: We're Leos.
Leo: By the way, it's not tax deductible. Since red products are purchased through our corporate partners, red products are not tax deductible. You know who gets the tax deduction? Apple.
Leo: That doesn't hurt.
Andy: Those poor poor people in Ireland not getting their fair due in taxes, that just breaks my heart.
Leo: (laughs) So yeah, looks like each country determines the exact needs of their country and how the money will be used. Programs are reviewed and measured for success. So it's complicated.
Rene: First that Bono puts his music on my phone now he puts his red icons on my phone. Leave my phone alone!
Leo: Has anybody complained?
Andy: Maybe that's just them softening us up for like the red Beats icon.
Rene: Product red Beats.
Leo: Moving on, ladies and gentlemen, Apple's rock star backed patent war, we have peace in our time, seems to be coming to an end.
Andy: Yeah. (laughs) Or another way of looking at it is you know that machine gun that just kicks the hell out of your shoulder when you use it? They've decided to stop using that now.
Leo: Rockstar was a company formed to hold the patents that Apple and others bought from Nortel. Apple put, there was... Microsoft, Blackberry, Erickson, Sony and Apple payed 4.5 billion but Apple's the biggest of the five because they put $2.6 billion into the Nortel patents, they then formed a company called Rockstar which is what is euphemistically called a non-practicing entity, or an NPE. Others might call it a patent troll. Others might say merely it's a patent defense organization to make sure that the people who invented the products get payed appropriately, or who own the patents, bought the patents who invented the products. Rockstar had sued many companies including HTC, Waway, Samsung, that make Android devices. It seems like Apple has lost its desire, its will to participate in this, in fact...
Rene: There was an article this morning, I forget. There was one of the analysts for the article this morning that said given the lagging sales, especially the Galaxy S5 numbers were much lower than expected, that Apple doesn't see them as a threat that they once saw them as.
Leo: Apple might be declaring victory. Mission accomplished perhaps.
Andy: I don't know... I mean I always have seen a parallel between Steve Jobs coming back to Apple and saying you know what, this fighting with Microsoft it's not doing us any good whatsoever. Let's just get rid of this, and I'm, I'd have no inside information about this but it just seems like there's not the same sort of just sort of DNA level bile about Google inside Apple that there once was now that Tim Cook is large and in charge and I agree that if it were a really productive thing for Apple to keep doing they'd keep on doing it but I think that right now they're realizing that okay things have simmered down a little bit, let's just stop wasting time effort and money on things that really don't matter any more.
Andy: I think it also maybe there's a factor that two years ago Android had yet to really distinguish itself the way that they have in 2014 and maybe Apple was internally thinking look they are simply copping us step by step by step, every version of Android will be a clone of the iPhone and now that it looks like no there is real diversity of hardware, no these two platforms are almost completely distinct or as distinct as two different touch screen 4.9, 4.7 inch phones can possibly be, maybe it's like okay that might have been a big worry in 2011 but it's no longer a worry in 2014, 2015.
Leo: Yeah. It wasn't just Google though. Rockstar was also going after Cisco. Microsoft was part of Rockstar, but so they were going after other people besides Android. Cisco in a investor call last year apparently spoke somewhat cryptically about a resolution that is quote “constructive” for the whole industry. It's also possible that, and I'm reading from IAM Magazine. I-A-M Magazine which is from the IP media group and is the kind of the definitive source for this. A lot of people have written about it but they all refer back to this. Rockstar settlement with Google could mark the beginning of the end of the Nortel NPE, non-practicing entity. So they reached an agreement on November 12th with Cisco and Google. They may sell it.
Rene: Are these the ones where Google famously bid pi when they were in a bidding war with Apple?
Leo: No, no. Was it? Maybe it was. Yeah you're right it was.
Andy: No I think it was the constant E. 2.1, no I think this is actually true.
Leo: Yeah pi was the Spectrum auction. And I think the Nortel patents they didn't really successfully bid against Apple and Microsoft. So that's good. In fact, so there's two stories in a row that you could rightfully say, although nobody will. Oh Steve Jobs would never have allowed that to happen. One, Jobs was famously against charitable giving right?
Rene: He wanted it personally, he didn't like it in terms of Apple. He wanted them to do it personally.
Leo: He wanted a corporate thing. And he was of course the guy that declared thermonuclear war against Google and Android, he was very mad about it. And I think in both cases this is a kinder, gentler Apple.
Andy: Yeah. But to be fair, other people might have talked him down from there over the past three years if he had survived. Or even he himself might have said yeah okay, we're done. Let's find a way that we can basically say that we did what we set out to do and then go home.
Leo: I think you have to eventually, and I guarantee you Steve would have come to the same conclusion. See that the cost of this patent war is higher than the benefit. And that's I think pretty obviously what happened. And Samsung is down 30% this year, the S5 has been a flop. And you know, maybe they did win. Maybe they can declare victory.
Rene: It's sort of a flop like the iPhone 5c was a flop, any other manufacturer would still love to have that.
Leo: What did they say, 12 million units of the Galaxy S5, something like that?
Leo: Well that's a lot less than the S4 and it's a lot lot less than the iPhone 6. So you know. Let's take a break, Andy Inhatko is here, Rene Ritchie, Leo Laporte we're talking about Apple and Macintosh. You know something that we keep waiting for Apple is some home automation solutions. Apple home, Google's doing it. But really the solution has to come, I think from a third party that unites them all because the problem is you've got this Tower of Babel where you have this variety of different devices all with different protocols, that's why SmartThings did their Kickstarter project a couple of years ago, raised a lot of money and created this! The SmartThings Hub. This hub talks to everything. Your nest thermostat, your drop cam, it'll talk to your Shlage locks, if you go to SmartThings.com, you could take a look and you'll see all the different devices. And then what's nice is you control the hub and then all the devices from your iOS device, from Android, even from Windows Phone. That's how committed they are to cross-platform. SmartThings just announced that next year you'll also be able to control and automate a variety of Samsung appliances, including refrigerators, washers, dryers, air conditioners, and even a robotic vacuum. So what you do is you put this SmartThings presence sensor on your in-laws and when they come in the house the robot vacuum starts cleaning up. That won't work, it'll be too late by then. There's so many things you can do. In fact, SmartThings starts you out with these solution kits, or the home security kits. They give you the hub plus the extra SmartThings sensors to get things done. Control and automate your lights and small appliances from wherever you are, you can start dinner from your office. Get instant alerts to prevent a small leak from creating a major flood, stay connected to your family by getting notifications when people come and go, you actually can put these sensors in your kids backpacks and you'll know when they come in the house and when they leave the house. You can get notifications if someone you don't know tries to enter the house. Protect valuable items, secure areas that are off limits. With the SmartThings app you can easily see what's happening in every room and with all your connected devices. It's like having the home in the palm of your hand. So what they've done is they've got these great kits. The solution kits that you can pick a thing that you want to do and the solution kit makes it happen, but of course it's completely extensible because now you have the hub, you can get more units, you can other peoples units and it will all work together. They also have the home security kit because a lot of people want to do home security. So those are the two choices there, now I can get you 10% off any of those kits by going to SmartThings.com/twit use the offer code TWIT10 when you check out, 10% off plus free shipping within the US. SmartThings.com/twit, the offer code TWIT10. This is a very, probably the easiest way to automate your home, and it's got great expansion capabilities. You get started, you do one little thing, that's why they're so smart with these solution kits. You do one little thing now you can easily add more. And really it takes just a couple of minutes. I was able to get this all set up in, really almost instantly. So cool. SmartThings.com/twit. Apple stock continues to surge and Apple has now crossed the $700 billion market cap. Holy moley.
Rene: So glad they listened to all those investors who said they should fire Tim Cook. Sorry, analysts. Analysts.
Leo: And listen to me when I said short Apple last year, boy was I wrong. But see if you listen to me for stock advice you're making a big mistake. Previous record $658 billion in September 2012, Apple is now more valuable than ever before. Remember they did a 7:1 stock split so a lot of times we talk about the stock as if it hadn't split, it already hit $800 a share. Oh my god. It's now up to $840 a share, more than $120 for the current share. That's just incredible. To put it in perspective, Microsoft's market cap, and by the way Microsoft is number 2 is $394 billion. $702 billion, $394 billion for Microsoft. You know the days when Bill Gates appeared looming over Steve Jobs on stage. I will save Apple. Here's $100 million.
Rene: Talk about your haunted empire, right?
Leo: Yeah really, that does put haunted empire in perspective doesn't it? That's just amazing.
Andy: That was always just cheap theatrics. That stock buy was never that big to begin with, it was more like an act of faith for people who needed, silly people who needed reassurance that Apple was not going to be going away in the next 90 days.
Leo: I'm not convinced of that, didn't they say that it had 90 days of runway and that Gill Emilio had practically bankrupted the company? This was right when Steve just came back. Wasn't this money kind of instrumental? People have said it saved Apple, you don't think so.
Andy: I don't think it was the money so much as the... there was this hammer, I think that was over Apple's head basically saying that Microsoft could kill Apple if Microsoft made it not work with Microsoft Office and made it not work with the operating system and the software that powers all American business. And so this was at least, the money I'm sure was a positive thing but I think mostly it was the assurance that there is another company that has faith that Apple's going to be a successful enterprise at some point in its future. I don't think, this is where I have to back off and say that I know that this is what I have been told by people who understand finance of which I am not one of those people and I don't pretend to be a business analyst but I've been told by other people that the money was nice but it was mostly the, they feel as though that was of the entire package, that was not the most important part of that announcement.
Leo: Let's put this in perspective. If you had bought Apple when it went public in late 1980, in current terms the stock was around 50 cents a share in 1980 and you know as you go through the 80s and the 90s, a buck. That's doubling. Four dollars in August 2000. You head up to October 2007 you've got $26 a share, a little dip there. Then another jump here, this is 2012 its last peak. Here we are, if you look at the graph and those of you that are watching video, it's currently $118 a share. If you'd bought that share when they first went public at fifty cents.
Rene: I'm crying right now Leo. Just crying.
Leo: (laughs) That's pretty amazing.
Andy: Yeah, but see. Ideally when you set up that scenario that's I buy a thousand shares of Apple stock, then like as soon as the transaction is complete I go outside to get a paper, I'm hit by a bus and I'm in a coma for 20 years and my power of attorney denies my people the ability to actually make any transactions, I don't think there's anybody who would have... all those dips and all those fluctuations that would have held onto all those shares all that time.
Leo: No. But if you had, if you'd spent $500 for 1000 shares in 1980 it would be worth $118,000 now. So there. And by the way that's adjusted for the split so we're pretending it didn't split. Actually we're pretending... well I don't know what we're pretending, we're just pretending.
Rene: It's a lot of money.
Leo: We're pretending we had this stock. That's what we're pretending. And what we would have done with it.
Rene: He can use gravity to go back...
Andy: Nobody ever fantasizes about buying a losing lottery ticket.
Leo: Right. Yeah.
Andy: But you know, the kid needed braces and I was told that we've got to spend this $500,000 on orthodontia.
Leo: You've got to say though if you look at this, this is the graph for the whole life of Apple and the big jump is when, 2007 of course. When the iPhone comes out, and this most recent jump is probably due to the great success of the iPhone in the last quarter, and I think built into this is excitement about Apple Watch, right?
Rene: And the buyback, it's everything that Tim Cook is doing landing at once.
Leo: Exactly. Yeah. Boy that haunted empire, I tell you the ghost of Steve Jobs way down here in the valley. (laughing) Is really haunting this Mount Everest over here.
Rene: Goes to show you the value of the short term opinion.
Leo: Yeah, it's amazing.
Andy: Also I think every time we think about financials and stuff like that we always talk about oh isn't it adorable how the analysts talk about what Apple should and shouldn't be doing... oh isn't that outraged shareholder, oh goodness. Let's bake some cookies the next time so that every time you rage or ooh your little fist in the air, it's like when a rabbit can't get into the little plastic bag that has the little tiny carrots in it. It's just adorable to watch. Almost anybody who is seeing the numbers, it's a binary state. You look at how well Apple is doing and you say whatever they're doing, maybe they should keep doing things generally on that shape.
Leo: And we should point out that in fact it's not merely the stock market, I mean that's merely the stock market's opinions and there are other ways you can look at a company and its success, that's just what the stock market says about it.
Rene: And again analysts job is not to inform us, it's to get their clients to make money. And they'll tell you it's doomed so that people sell and their clients can buy more.
Leo: Oh. That would be wrong. You think?
Andy: Well also...
Rene: I've seen the YouTube videos.
Andy: What was the Martin Scorsese movie with Leonardo DiCaprio as the corrupt investment...
Leo: The Wolf of Wall Street.
Andy: Yeah. It had that one line that kinda chilled me because it was so simple and so true. It's that scene in which Leonardo is getting started on his business, Matthew McConaughey as the seasoned expert is explaining what their business is and... I will not do my Matthew McConaughey impression because I do not have one and also I've never done dope but...
Andy: But it puts that little oily thing in the bottom of your throat.
Leo: It does, there's something magical that happens there.
Andy: But he says, our client makes money and what they want to do is they want to cash out and they want to keep that money so that they can maybe retire some day or maybe buy a home. We don't make money unless they keep making transactions so we have to talk them into letting us put their money someplace else so that we collect a commission then let them put it someplace else so we can get commission. So it's like you know what, now that I've heard that perhaps I'm going to be looking at this industry with a little extra skepticism that I had... I had skepticism before but maybe I'm going to be a little bit more skeptical.
Rene: There's that amazing Jim Kramer video where he's like “All you do is you float a rumor about the iPhone being delayed and then everybody panics and you make money on it.” and you can't believe he's telling you all this stuff, and you watch it and you realize what all their advice is.
Leo: That's exactly what they're doing.
Leo: Alright here's a reason to depress the stock price. Apple $450 million eBook settlement gets final court approval so.... there you have it. This is the case where all the publishers and all the companies involved had settled except Apple. Publishers, the Department of Justice was upset at Apple saying that Apple's eBook pricing was unfair.
Rene: To Amazon.
Leo: To Amazon, right. Yeah this one you can really fight over. We have talked a lot about it. Judge Denise Cote, who was the judge of record in this and many other Apple cases proved what she called a highly unusual agreement, Apple payed $400 million directly to consumers. Could be as many as 23 million consumers. So you're going to get 4 bucks. If the company is unsuccessful in appealing the ruling. So the five publishers will be splitting $166 million... no I'm sorry the publishers are going to provide $166 million for eBook purchasers and Apple will pour $400 million into that as well.
Rene: Hatchet authors will still get nothing.
Leo: Authors get nothing because all you did was write the book.
Andy: Where's the monument to the real heroes of publishing, the content aggregator. That's what I ask.
Leo: The deal still allows Apple to appeal but this settlement was on the eve of trial so this is good news the trial is off now, although Apple could appeal. I don't understand. I'm not a lawyer so.
Rene: On Twitter, counter notions, one of the famous Apple analysts who doesn't use his real name was doing a whole bunch of lists of things that Judge Denise Cote could go after Apple for now that the eBooks thing is settled.
Leo: If the appeals court overturns this settlement and returns the case to Judge Cote Apple only owes $50 million to consumers and $20 million to lawyers... (laughing) oh my god. That's who makes out on these things.
Rene: Again as a consumer am I better off today than I was before this lawsuit and I'm hard pressed to say I am. I mean maybe I am but I haven't noticed any big difference. There was just a single vendor, Amazon, who could sell books for whatever they want. And that doesn't seem in my best interests.
Leo: I don't get it either.
Andy: Is that really true?
Andy: They're multiple vendors.
Rene: Not of any significance compared to Amazon.
Leo: What is Amazon's market share? Is it more than 50%?
Andy: I do not know, but I know it's...
Leo: And this is only eBooks right?
Andy: Yeah it's similar to Android vs iOS, similar to Microsoft vs every other operating system. It's dominant but there's still room for play elsewhere.
Leo: I have the numbers as of February.
Rene: Well when you see the damage they can do by pulling someone like Hatchet off their shelves...
Leo: Right. And Hatchet did settle. The proportion of all eBooks sold by Amazon, well eBooks now make up 30% of all book sales. So 70% are still books. But eBooks are 30% and of those 30% Amazon has 65% market share. Apple and Barnes and Noble account for the rest. So it's not completely dominant. Amazon's current revenue from books... well see they haven't broken out eBooks. But from books is 5.25 billion. These are some good numbers. This all comes from a New Yorker article early this year. 53% is the effective discount Amazon receives from random house.
Rene: I think the argument was their ability to sell at a loss. To sell as a loss leader because they're supported by other businesses when it makes it hard companies that don't, like Apple can compete with that because they also have other business lines but it makes it hard for companies just trying to sell books to compete with them. And it also, in the publishers views, devalues books. That once the price goes low people won't let it go back.
Leo: Here's a good number that means nothing but Penny Marshall. Remember she wrote a memoir called “My Mother Was Nuts” that nobody bought, sold 17,000 copies however Amazon, which published it had payed her $800,000 in advance so effectively she got $47 a copy for her book. And since it was Amazon one of the reasons she only sold 17,000 was because only Amazon could sell it. Hm. Anyway. Yeah I have a feeling Amazon is more detrimental to the overall... however I continue to buy books through Amazon because it sure is convenient. Do you buy...? I like my Kindle books, I like my Kindle. Do either of you buy books from Apple's store?
Rene: I do, I buy both because being in Canada is weird because sometimes I'll go to Amazon and I'll say I want to buy that Wolverine Trade paperback and it will say not available in Canada, then I'll go to iBooks and I'll be able to buy it. Or I'll go to iBooks and say I want to gift this to Andy and it'll say sorry, you can only gift it in Canada. Then I go to Kindle and I can gift internationally with Kindle. You have to jump around a lot.
Leo: Is it reasonable? I mean we've seen Apple take over music sales. You know, the vast majority of all music sold is sold through iTunes. Is it reasonable to think that the same kind of thing will happen to books, that people will stop buying physical books. It's only 30% Kindle and other eBooks now. Is it conceivable that we'll just see the end of paper books and everybody will buy eBooks and then will it be dominated by one company or the other, or will it be split between the two companies? I feel like Amazon's going to own that market.
Andy: Well I think chiefly because they're doing something that Apple isn't doing which is saying we do not require you to own one of our pieces of hardware to read this book, that's why I never buy books off of iBooks. The typography is better, the app is prettier, but I don't like the fact that switching to Android would have been a hugely complicated unattractive proposition. All my music is locked to iTunes, all my books are locked to iBooks, all my movies are locked to iTunes. Right now really the only thing that's still... music has escaped the corral but we're still in a world where you can spend $1000 on books on iBooks and you have to own an Apple device in order to read that stuff, and I don't think that's a good idea for a library. I think ideally you would like to buy these things DRM free and I don't think that we should allow ourselves to be lulled into a sense of complacency that buying books without DRM is never a viable proposition for the publishers to offer. But that said, I do like the fact that, I recommend Kindle over almost everything else because they are willing to put a reader on anything with a pulse.
Leo: But it's still DRM'd isn't it?
Andy: It's still DRM'd but it's available on anything and even Google, Google Play they will support devices that are within their best interest to support. But they still have prejudice or whatever it is against Windows Phone so you won't be able to get a native Google Play books reader for that device.
Leo: Can you strip off the DRM from Amazon's... what is it? What is the Amazon format, epub?
Rene: No, mobi.
Andy: There are ways to do that. They're not quite legal, but there are ways to do that. I mean... I think they really embrace something that for their own best interest, they embrace something that Steve Jobs was talking about with iTunes that we're want to make it so easy to buy stuff from our store that you would not want to buy stuff from anybody else's store. And Amazon... I have tried these de-DRM apps for Kindle, I've never felt much of a motivation to use them because, well is it going to be easier than just simply downloading the Kindle app for my iPad then the Kindle app for my Android tablet, then the other thing. No it's not, so okay. I've academically proved it works and now I don't have to use it again.
Rene: I'm with Andy that I tend
to use the Amazon stuff too, but I also don't ever want to intellectually
internally make the mistake that Apple is very easy to see, vertical lock ins
are really easy to see. Horizontal lock ins, the kind that Amazon has where yes
I can get it for every device as long as they keep supporting that device but
there's nothing to say they won't stop one day in the future and I can't just
take that book and if I decide I like iBooks better,
load it into iBooks or into whatever reader I want,
it's still locked into Amazon's layer. So while they right now support all the
devices I want, I would still really really like that
DRM free option because music is the only thing we can get right now that
really I can put it up on Amazon's lock or I can put it in iTunes match, I can
put it anywhere I want and that's the only way to get rid of the lock
Andy: The problem is that this is not going to go away until we as consumers start demanding it. Comixology over the summer started adding DRM free comics as an option, as a matter of fact they retroactively applied it to whatever books you've already purchased providing the purchaser has already okay'd DRM free downloads on that title. So until consumers start saying no this is BS, I don't want to have this locked into Comixology platform, I don't want this locked into the Kindle platform and they start taking their business elsewhere or until piracy becomes so well organized that it is just as easy to grab a non-DRM'd version of this illegally than it is to simply spend $9 or $12 on Amazon to buy it on a kindle, then that's going to be the state of affairs forever.
Leo: Yeah. I'm looking at caliber, which is one way to do this. It's an open source free eBook converter, which will convert, by the way there's an Amazon Prime ad at the top of it, which probably... Amazon would not be happy to know. So it looks like it will just read the files right off your Kindle and convert them to some other format so it's not the strongest DRM.
Andy: I don't think that breaks DRM though.
Leo: It doesn't break DRM?
Andy: Last time I looked at it it didn't. What it does is if you have, let's say that you've done like a send a Kindle from your web browser, it will transmogrify those Kindle files to something else, but I could be wrong. That was the last time I really looked at caliber and that was a year and half, two years ago.
Leo: I'm not advocating it.
Andy: I'd be shocked if anybody based in the United States published a app that breaks a digital millennium copyright act and just said hey! Go ahead and use it, enjoy it everybody! I spent the weekend ripping Blu Rays that I bought off of my comic book shop off the second hand thing and it works great but it has to be... setting it up has to be really complicated because they have to make sure that the stuff that runs a follower of the feds has to be located by a company in a server that is not in the United States of America so once you snap these... really it's like Scaramanga's gun from The Man with the Golden Gun, it's like hey everybody here's my gold fountain pen and here's my cigarette case and here's my lighter and here's my cuff link and if you want to snap them together and make a working gun, I suppose you could do that but we're really just selling you a pen and a cigarette case and instructions for how to snap them together into a working gun, hey our hands are clean.
Leo: We're going to take a break, when we come back, some interesting results on color accuracy on the iPhone vs other phones. But first a word from our friends at Personal Capital. I love Personal Capital. It was the founder, Ed Harris who first told me about Personal Capital when he was on our show Triangulation, he's a former CEO of PayPal and we were talking about finance and money and he said I've got this thing we're going to do called Personal Capital, I signed up for it then and I've been a member for two years now and I love it. It's free, it's secure, it's easy to set up and it solves two problems that people have with keeping track of their investments. The first of course is that everything is on different accounts, your bank account, different website and new password. Your stocks, your 401k. I have 401ks from three previous employers all on different sites with different passwords. Your loans, your mortgages. It's all spread out, all over the place. With Personal Capital, it coalesces all this stuff into a single page so you can see exactly how you're doing very quickly on your desktop, on your phone, on your laptop, on your tablet, anywhere. And then of course there's the issue of how are you managing your money. Are you doing it yourself? Could be a bad idea, if you're using a manager, are you paying that person too much? Or the broker, the online broker too much? Personal Capital makes it very simple to see where your stuff is, to see how it's doing, to manage it and to find out if you're overpaying for the advice. You could even get tailored advice from Personal Capital on optimizing your investments. So stop overpaying in fees, try Personal Capital, it's free. PersonalCapital.com/macbreak, they even have an award winning app for Android Wear. You can put it on your watch, it's in the Google Play store. Pretty awesome. PersonalCapital.com/macbreak. Set it up today, it's the smart way, and the free way to grow your money whether you're planning on buying a house, putting money away for a rainy day or investing for your retirement. You need to pay attention to it. You can't ignore it. The more you know, the better you'll be. PersonalCapital.com/macbreak. We thank them for their support of MacBreak Weekly. Do you guys trust DisplayMate, the folks who do these...
Rene: Not as much as AnandTech but more than me.
Leo: Not as much as AnandTech but more than you... so what AnandTech says is probably the definitive source? Although with Anand gone and Brian Crew gone, two of their best people, I don't know whether to trust AnandTech still or not.
Rene: Yeah Ryan is awesome. The new editor in chief is really good.
Leo: Is he? Okay. Boy if you... because you're a competitor, so if you say that it must be true.
Rene: I don't view them as... they do completely different stuff from almost every other...
Leo: They're so good.
Andy: Yeah, I agree. I think Rene and I are probably on the same page where we love DXO Labs, I love Anand because I don't understand at a deep level how CPUs are architected and the technologies about creating CPUs so I think it's very very valuable to say let's see, what about the AA chip... let's see Anand has to say about that. Okay so...
Leo: Yeah, I know I do exactly the same thing.
Andy: And of course I'm always careful when I write about it, I say here's what AnandTech has to say, here's what DXO says about this image sensor so there's competition but then there's oh thank goodness for this resource that they provide.
Rene: I don't think Andy or I have 20 grand worth of optical test equipment.
Leo: And I have to say...
Andy: Not to say the post-grad engineering degrees that are required.
Leo: DisplayMate makes software that people use to calibrate monitors, to test monitors. And their president, Raymond Soneira, will publish articles about color accuracy on displays all the time, and I feel like these guys are paying attention. DXO Mark sells software so, you know DXO and DisplayMate, maybe they're not completely independent journalists like AnandTech but as you say, who has the equipment to do this anyway? So I feel like these charts are self-explanatory, they talk about display color accuracy, that is an issue of how accurate, you know is a blue blue, is a red red? Then there's gamut which is the range of colors that can be displayed, and of course no display could do everything the eye can see. You know, people say oh it's got 4 billion colors it's more than you can see! But what's the gamut? And that's what matters is the range of colors. And then things like how well it does skin tones and things like that, so they do these shootouts and so they've done recently a shootout from the iPhone 6+, the Galaxy Note 4, the Air 2 and the Surface Pro 3, and it's probably worth reading the whole thing and looking at all these tables, although it's hard to take a simple takeaway from this, but I will boil it down I guess to the best display color right now, most accurate in absolute color accuracy, is not the iPhone but the Galaxy Note 4. And the second place is the Microsoft Surface Pro 3. Closely tied with Galaxy Tab S10.5. The iPhone fairly... and iPad Air fairly far down in terms of accuracy, skin tone accuracy, organic color accuracy, blue region, color accuracy. It does better with skin tone, it does better with organic color. Terrible with blue, white point accuracy very poor. You disagree with these or?
Andy: Agree and disagree. I mean it's... I react the same way as when I react to DXO's score of the iPhone 6+ as the best camera sensor in any phone out there. It's good, the graphs if the math, or if their findings are incorrect there are other nerds out there with the same engineering degrees that will prove them wrong, What I don't like is when people take this information and try to extrapolate out of it by saying oh well that means the Samsung S4 is going to look so much better than the pictures that you're going to look at on your iPhone 6. Well, no that's not necessarily true because all you're looking at are graphs and where those points fall among those graphs, especially when it comes down to something as subjective as how good is this photo that this camera has taken and how good does this image or this video look on this display because if someone tells you that I'd think that the iPhone 6 display looks fantastic, you're not allowed to then say “Ha! You're stupid, I can prove to you that you don't prefer this display, see, look at this graph, look at what this triangle is amongst that graph!” So it's viable as far as it goes but that's only one part of the story and I had one of those eat my own dog food sort of moments earlier this year when I was buying my camera where I was spending a lot of time, it was between three or four different models that I was having a hard time choosing between, I had the instinct that the Olympus OMDEM one was going to be the one for me, but I was going to, looking at all the technical explanations of the differences between the image sensors on DXO and the scores that DXO Mark was giving for each one of them and I could have, I was almost allowing myself to tell myself that no no no, the Fuji takes better pictures than... the X100 takes better pictures than the Olympus see, look at this graph! I had to sort of walk away from it for two days to think about the totality of the experience that a camera provides and all the thing outside of this, they're only looking at this little wafer of millions of millions of transistors to tell you about how these millions of millions of transistors react whereas the difference between the Olympus and the Fuji was that the Olympus has this amazing five access optical image stabilization that compensates for pretty much whatever you want to... whatever you think it has. I think it's the same thing here, I think it's significant that someone is coming up with empirical, mathematical evidence that one display is better than the other, but I don't think anybody is going to be buying a Surface 3 instead of an iPad or Macbook Air because of this score that came out. The only thing that's kind of interesting about it is if it points to anything, it points to the need for Apple to at least want to, I'm sure that they want to be able to say that we not only have the best perceptive screen, we also have the best technical screen. And so if that means that that will put more money into whatever department has to work on that then guess what, they just got upgraded from generic cola to name brand Coke and Pepsi in the break room.
Leo: I do have to say that that's obviously not the reason you would choose one phone over the other, it's one of many factors but I do have to say the Note 4, if you can bear Samsung then you can bear the Note... the Note 4 screen, and I have played with all these phones, consistently the best looking screen and that's a big part for Samsung because these Super AMOLED displays have traditionally not been very color accurate.
Andy: Yeah, also the difference that...
Leo: That is a stunning display I've got to tell you.
Andy: Yeah it is, I have been using both for the past three, four weeks. And I do a thing, it's a gorgeous gorgeous display, and one of the things that keeps coming up whenever people talk about displays in a technical way, you're only responding to the Samsung display because it's higher contrast and deeper colors and it's like when McDonald's puts more salt and spices into the meats and... yes but people like salt and spices, that's why people like this cheeseburger very much.
Leo: It tastes better.
Rene: There's a couple other things that are worth considering here too, one is that what are the specific technologies good for? For example, dual domain pixels. They don't make much of a difference if you're staring straight at a phone but if the phones get bigger and you want people sitting next to you then it helps improve the way that people next to you see the screen, or the new polarization filter. If you're wearing sunglasses, if you're not wearing sunglasses it makes no difference. If you're wearing sunglasses then it stops the interference pattern. And the other thing is that the technology itself isn't an indicator the way Andy said because it also depends quite often, like Amazon had much better screens in their tablets before Apple did because that technology just wouldn't scale yet and when you bought as many screens as Amazon did it was fine. But you couldn't put those on iPads because you would need way more than that technology could provide. So it's a very delicate sort of balancing act. My thinking is just that as long as they're close to each other I'm happy because it means everyone is being pushed. The iPad Mini 3 it still has a much worse screen than the regular iPad, and I hope stuff like this puts pressure on Apple to give it that laminated display and that full color gamut faster because when something lags behind, the competition is good for it. When something is raging ahead it means the competitors will catch up and drive them even more forward. So I like these tests just so much as it drives the entire industry forward.
Andy: I will say, I'm in like deep test mode now on the Surface 3, I love the screen on the Surface 3. It is just beautiful.
Leo: People are raving about it.
Andy: I've got it in front of me right now with my show notes and my daily driver is a Macbook Pro Retina that I bought late last winter and so that's no slouch either but... yikes. It's like... it's not something... this is something that I keep coming back to. There's better, and then there's better that you only notice when you have two things side by side but yeah the Surface 3 screen is just better.
Rene: I can't get the tiles off mine.
Leo: I have to say, there's some really wonky stuff about Touch Wiz and everything but...
Andy: Yeah see that's...
Leo: It is sometimes the case that the screen is so good that you just go... I'm going to sacrifice other things because I just... look at this screen.
Andy: Samsung really is the Charlie Brown of phone makers. Where like he will be like 10 feet away from the finish line about to win the big road race for the first time and finally win something and he'll find a way to... oh I'm supposed to turn off this way, not go that way. Don't... just give a stock Android, it's fine, it'll be so much better... no don't do anything! When I'm testing the cameras for instance, this conceivably has one of the best cameras that you can buy in a phone and I include the iPhone 6 but it tries to help you out in ways that make it one of the most annoying cameras to possibly use. I had to re-shoot a whole test sequence because it was taking terrible pictures because it kept trying to be adaptive and improve things for me when okay I turn off this, turn off that, turn off that, turn off this... that's why...
Leo: It over-sharpens definitely.
Andy: It over-sharpens, it goes to really weird low light modes where it starts warning please I'm going to use a super super low shutter speed so hold the phone really really steady and it's never going to be able to get a good sharp image like that. It's like, I think that you almost have to do two different reviews of any Samsung device, you have to review the version that people are paying $200 for with contract and you have to review the $700 one Google Play Google Experience one. Because boy are those... if you buy it with stock Android it is such a competitive phone with absolutely everything out there, once you put Touch Wiz on it, it's not a bad phone but it's not as good a phone as it could possibly be.
Leo: I am kind of hoping that I can get a generic ROM on this Note 4. Although there is a lot of touch in it, to using the style will go away, a lot of features will go away. But the image quality, it's just dramatic, it's so gorgeous.
Andy: That's the same complaint I was about to have because I think that when I'm disappointed with the display it's because it really is adding too much salt, adding too much spices, adding too much fat to the recipe when if you just let the display do what it's supposed to do it will do fine. Don't read the comments on that article about the screen disturbances because oh my god it is like... it is like... I didn't know that there were soccer hooligans that write about or are interested in phones but we've got the Apple soccer hooligans and we got the Samsung soccer hooligans but there is a good point raised which is that this screen does have several different modes, you can set manually if you want. This Note 4 has this special thing where it will try to figure out that oh well you're looking at, you're using the gallery photo apps so I'm going to fine tune it so photos look really good. You're now just scrolling through a list so I'm going to fine tune it, make the colors bolder and sharper and brighter so it's easier to navigate apps. And I think there was some question as to what mode that they were testing in when they completed these tests but I'm sure that they made it a fair playing ground for everybody because I don't think that this company has the reputation for being dopes.
Leo: They used the basic screen mode which is not the adaptive mode, so there's four display... there's adaptive display, AMOLED cinema, which is... I don't know how these are different, AMOLED photo and then there's basic. And they said they used the basic screen mode.
Rene: Man AMOLED is getting so much better.
Leo: I have to say, yeah.
Rene: Even the new TVs are looking fantastic.
Leo: Yeah. Anyway, it's hard for me to put this phone down as much as I want to hate it. Now let me point out this article from Ole Begemann, who is an iOS developer, he calls it iPhone 6+ pixel peeping. And Rene I'm going to have to defer to you on this one, because I did not realize this. It is a very, he says the iPhone 6+, this is the big one, renders things differently than every other iOS device to date. To developers which he is, the device exposes a screen rectangle of 414x736. Which the system renders at three times scale into a backing store, not an onscreen display but a backing store for 1242x2208. Now of course it's a 1920x1080 display, so the backing store is then, and this... I always thought this was a bad idea, downsampled by 13% to the native resolution. In other words, normally when you have a display, the ideal resolution is the native resolution, dot for dot on the display. That's what you want to do. But that's not what Apple is doing with this, in fact they're downscaling which traditionally will give you some blurring and some weird artifacts. Now he says, in practice the resolution is so high that I haven't noticed this, but he did take some up close screenshots to give you an example. Now, of course it’s a 1920 X 1080 display. So the backing store is then, and I always thought this was a bad idea, down-sampled by thirteen percent to the native resolution. In other words, normally when you have a display, the ideal resolution is the native resolution, dot-for-dot, on the display. That’s what you want to do, but that’s not what Apple is doing with this. In fact, they’re downscaling, which traditionally will give you some blurring and some weird artifacts. Now he says that in practice the resolution is so high that I haven’t noticed this, but he did take some up-close screen shots to give you an example. And what he’s done is he has created a grid of vertical green hairlines with varying spacing on a black background. Now, and this is perfect on the screen, and this is at 1242 X 2208. So, this is every line (of course, if you’re watching our video it’s heavily compressed, so you won’t see this) but every line on this is exactly right. I can even see on our TV mirroring over here on the left, which is in fact not the case. You should read the article at <oleb.net>.
Then he talks about the rendered 3X scale, and then down sampling. And this is a photo of the screen. I think you can see clearly the artifacting on these lines because of the down sampling. Now, do you see that on screen? Probably not, but I think it could impact the iPhone 6 Plus screen in the sense that it might make you feel like it’s not as crisp as it could be. So Rene, what do you think?
Rene: So it was noticeable to everybody before apps updated… because they would up-sample them from the old resolutions…
Leo: Right. I really noticed that. By the way, this is an iPhone 5, which is rendered at 2X, and so you don’t get any of the image issues.
Rene: Well, it’s rendered at 2X and displayed at 2X. There’s no scaling.
Leo: Right, there’s no scaling. That’s an iPhone 5. That’s a 6 Plus. Admittedly, you had to zoom in a lot to see this.
Rene: So if you’re Lorne Richter you will probably notice this and it might drive you crazy. Not everyone is going to notice this, and there’s a history of different display technologies, and who can notice them and who can’t, because it’s not something that everybody pays attention to and not everybody can actually notice the difference. Some people will see a slight flickering when they move horizontally because it changes which pixels are on and off differently because of the scaling.
Rene: For most people the resolution is so high. That’s why the density is so high—over four hundred DPI—that you won’t notice any difference. The advantage to the way Apple did it is, they could have gone to 1080 P and just created an arbitrary screen target for developers now, but that’s not very future-proof. By going to at-3X right now it means that one day when they get a display that has the logical resolution of the frame buffer it will be perfect. It will be exact, and developers won’t have to dish the 1080 P resolution and start making 3X assets. There were some rumors that Apple was trying to get a display of that density in the iPhone 6+ and they just couldn’t do it, so they went to Plan B, which is 1080 P.
But whether that’s true or not, next year or the year after, or the year after that there will be an add 3X native display, and all of the apps built for it will be fine. You can target 1080 P today if you use an open GL. They’ll let you call directly to the screen…
Leo: So you can make a 1080P image?
Rene: If you know open GL well enough, and you really, really want to go through the trouble of doing it [laughing]
Leo: Right [chuckles].
Rene: But for most people there’s absolutely no difference. You’ve got to break out the Macro…to really notice those kinds of things.
Leo: Right. So there are people in the chat room that say they can’t see it.
Rene: It’s back when they had that screen technology. Some people could always see small disturbances. It depends on the acuity of your vision.
Rene: And your sensitivity to movement.
Leo: I think you may not notice it exactly, but you may say, it’s certainly not desirable to do that thirteen percent scaling—the down sampling. That is definitely not desirable.
Rene: It’s the tension between that and making adaptive UIs, because you want developers to be able to target (and this a problem that everyone has to face. You have fragments on Android and other things. Webber Wess tried to do it. But, everyone has to find a way to paint variable-sized screens, and they’re doing it on the Mac as well. And they have very good scalars to try and identify objects and make those objects as crisp as possible, and not just do 1:1 pixel down sampling. So it is just a challenge and it is the award teenage years of displays going high-density.
Leo: Text looks fine, right?
Rene: A 1080 P video, a 1080 piece will always look fine. I believe games will be painted at the same resolution, especially if they’re using open-GL or metal, or something like that. It’s really only interface elements like single-pixel, horizontal or vertical lines that you’ll notice that stuff.
Leo: Yeah. To me the text on the 6 Plus looks really, really crisp.
Rene: Some people can notice one frame being dropped from a sixty frame per second video.
Leo: Some people are magic, yeah.
Leo: But it may contribute, to me, apparent superiority of the Noteforce screen. It may contribute to that. I don’t know.
Rene: Yeah. That’s assuming there’s no scaling on the Note.
Leo: Yeah. Actually, I don’t know. That’s a good question. The note is 2560 X 1440. It’s ridiculous. And who knows if that’s the case?
Rene: There was a Sharp panel being showed off that 700 DPI in Japan recently.
Leo: Come on! Come on, man! You can’t tell the difference! And I’m having all sorts of Wifi issues on this Noteforce. Probably people have noticed things aren’t loading. And I haven’t had that trouble on the other phones. So which are more important: that your phone is fast and works, or that its screen looks great?
Rene: [sarcastically denoting uncertainty] Naaah… See that’s the most frustrating thing about all these devices. The operating systems are all complex enough, and all our personal setups are so different that a small percentage of people have Wifi issues on every version of iOS in every update. A small percentage of people in almost every issue in almost very platform, and it’s not everybody.
Leo: Right, right. I raise these things because you should know, right?
Rene: There was another great article. Someone took a microscope to the iPhone 6 display to see why it was....because the iPhone 5S was laminated as well, but the iPhone 6 looks even better, and it turns out the pixels are even closer to the surface. Even with the anti-glare coating and the polarization, the screen itself is much thinner, so the pixels look even closer. And a lot of people notice that now, and they go back to the 5s, and they say, ‘Ah, I’m looking through a piece of glass.’
Rene: It’s horrible. You can’t go back.
Leo: [sighs] iPhone 6 drives huge downloads in October. That should be writing, but marketing costs finally fall slightly. 1:07 This is the Cost Per Loyal User Index. I don’t know what the hell...Dean Tagahachi writing it. I don’t know what this is. This is coming from a company called Fiksu: F-I-K-S-U. In October, the launch of the iPhone 6 and iOS 8 drove record download volumes for the most popular apps. On top of that, the cost of acquiring users dipped a little. That’s probably, you know, just math.
Rene: What’s the cost of a disloyal user, Leo?
Leo: [laughs] Churn is expensive, right? If you pay a certain amount of money to market to somebody, and they sign up. Netflix pays, whatever, I don’t know--fifty bucks to get a new subscription. You want to keep that person for a year so that you can pay off the cost of acquiring them and then get some money out of them. If they stop, if they drop Netflix in two months, that’s called churn and that means it costs you more to get the user than it did that you lost them.
Rene: Attention is more than acquisition.
Leo: There, thank you for making that much clearer [laughs]. And then there’s the Fiksu Cost Per Launch Index. The blue is iOS. The green is Android. It obviously costs a little more to market on iOS because there are a lot more choices. Brands and big companies spend a lot more money to get attention for their games and apps. That increases the cost of acquiring users on mobile devices, and so that has gone up steadily.
Rene: So…many cracks.
Leo: [laughs] I don’t know what it means. Oh, you want another one? Here’s the CPI index, the Cost Per Launch Index…
Leo: which tracks the cost of driving engagement for mobile users. That grew 24% from September to twenty-six cents in October. Up thirty-nine percent from a year ago!
Rene: It makes it sound like a curse word. That’s all I have to say.
Leo: The iOS cost per install went up to $1.46, so that’s the $50 I was talking about with the Netflix example. The cost to get a user install your game is roughly $1.46. See, this is good to know, though. When you say, ‘A thing shouldn’t cost ninety-nine cents to install. What’s it worth?’ It cost them $1.46 to get you to download it. The ninety-nine cents, take out Apple’s thirty percent. That’s sixty-six cents they get. That’s not going to cover it. That’s why in-apped purchases are so popular.
Leo: They track 3.5 billion app installs and 5.4 trillion marketing events across 1.7 billion devices. It sounds like Fiksu knows.
Rene: It sounds like they’re really busy.
Leo: [laughing] They’re very busy. The cost per loyal user, or CPLU, on Android was ten cents in October—cheap! They’re cheap! And how loyal are they-I don’t know. Wow, that’s wild! I don’t know what these numbers are, but apparently app developers care a lot about this kind of stuff.
Rene: I feel like I need Horace to translate.
Leo: [heavily accented] Horace, what is going on here?
Andy: Can you reduce it to an easily-repeatable buzz word that someone with interesting hair can then talk about during a tete talk?
Leo: Are you talking about—what is his name—Shingy?
Andy: I specifically did not talk about Shingy because I am sick and tired of people giving Shingy crap.
Leo: Why? Why?
Andy: Well, because I think, I see a… I don’t know about you, but at one point I went to junior high school, okay? And I remember, all you had to do is....one kid shows up (this wasn’t me), but you show up in a bowler hat, just in a gout for one thing, and suddenly everybody says, ‘Okay, we’re going to make fun of this kid for the NEXT FIVE YEARS,’ and only because of the only time you wore the bowler hat. We’re not going to ask him about what he thinks, what he feels, does he take his library books back on time, does he take good care of his dog? No, no, no…
Leo: But that’s how he looks!
Rene: But let’s not make fun of someone because of how they look. I think it’s ...I don’t think I ever read an article about him that said in substance what he does, what his philosophies are and what really moves and drives him.
Leo: Aww, okay. So you’ve got to read this New Yorker article.
Rene: I’ve read the New Yorker article. It talks about, ‘Oh, look. He went in and he redesigned his boss’s office. Oh, look, he had a conversation in which he talked about this thing that he’s interested in—this odd idea that he had on his iPad Mini during a long, long flight.’
And you could make almost as silly a video…
Rene: out of me
Leo: about Johnny I.
Yeah. So, to me it’s like he’s obsessed about which kinds of metal. To him it’s like, ‘Is it aluminum, wood or steel?’ For him, he spent like a million of Apple’s money trying to figure out what KIND of aluminum. For God’s sake!
Although, Johnny, I’ve just shipped an iPhone. I’m just waiting for AOL to ship an iPhone.
Leo: I’m saying that I WILL defend anyone with interesting hair from people who seem to be complaining that he has interesting hair. Write an article about here’s what his job actually is at AOL, here’s how he has failed to do that job, or…
Rene: No. AOL pays him. He must be doing something right.
Leo: If I had to justify it like my sideburns… If I had to justify anything else that today that needed justifying…
Renee: No, you don’t need to justify your sideburns.
Leo: I could not do that. I would like to think that people think I’m an idiot for the things that I say and believe, not for the things that I have burned out with my head. That’s all.
Renee: So if you think about it, video will be everywhere, and experience of it will be everywhere—even with things like wearables. But the thing about wearables today-is it feels like if I wear my wearables, by the way, I look like a travel leader. That’s 1:56 one-to-one. But what I’m seeing in the future of what’s going on right now is multiple use capability…
Leo: [laughing] I just love him. I want to hug the man! He gets a lot of crap for… by the way, he does talk in the New Yorker article about the hair, how he gets it that way, and how long it takes him to get it that way. So he’s aware of the hair.
Andy: Was it a four-hour interview in which he spends three and a half hours talking about, ‘Here’s another set of graphs for you’ and ‘Here’s another deflection point based blah, blah, blah’? ‘Here’s another interesting story about Lady Anna that comes into this…’
Leo: You know, if he were working for a different company…
Andy: Then they ask him the one question about his hair and he’s like, ‘Oh yeah, well it takes less time than you think,’ and now it’s all about his hair.
Leo: The story. Yeah, I agree.
Rene: It’s the hook.
Leo: If it were anybody at AOL… The problem is that AOL has so little credibility that you kind of want to…
Rene: If he was at Google it would be fantastic. They would go, ‘Oh, look at this AMAZING guy!’
Leo: Oh, so now we’re adding a “kick a company when it’s down” phase!
Andy: Now it’s asthmatic kid who wore a bowler hat that one time.
Leo: It could be worse working for Uber. They would call him the Uber Goober if he worked for Uber.
Rene: Uber guru.
Leo: Apple has relabeled the “free” buttons on the iTunes and Mac App Store to “get”, just in case if you were looking for…
Andy: Thanks to the EU.
Leo: That’s the EU. And they made Google do the same thing. They said if something’s free and has in-app purchases, you really shouldn’t call it free. So, “get”.
Rene: Seriously now, because you have the price tag on paid apps and you have “get” on free or free within app purchase subscription apps, you press the price tag and it says “buy”. You press the “get” button and it changes to “install”.
Rene: I understand that the EU wants to change stuff, but as a user experience thing it’s still…
Leo: It’s not better.
Rene: If I just gave someone who was not familiar with the stuff a Google Play or an App Store device, I still don’t know if they successfully navigate and understand the nuances of how the buying experience is.
Leo: What did Google do? Because Google was the first to change their… Let me look just at Apps and see. Let’s see, I’m sure some of these have in-app purchases. Well, it says “free,” but it doesn’t say “free” on the button. It says, “install” on the button. They still talk about free apps. Candy Crush Soda Saga—that’s certainly got in-app purchases.
Andye: They list it in the details. Now they have to say the price range of the lowest and highest-cost item of in-app purchases.
X: But if you’re looking for absolutely free apps that don’t have any strings attached, this still makes it no easier to find those.
Leo: No, I think you’re right. And Google doesn’t say “free.” They say, oh yeah, in little print under the install button, “in-app purchases.”
Rene: Which they’ve been saying that for a while now. What they’ve added recently, which if you go into “more details about” it has a little column for the price range.
Leo: But Apple’s done that, too.
Rene: Yeah, but Apple has underneath the title: “in-app purchase” text.
Leo: What I think they’re worried about mostly is kids, right?
Rene: Kids of all ages…
Andy: Yeah, people having bad experiences, and they’re not becoming less frequent as time goes by.
Rene: And I don’t think they’re going to change that, either.
Andy: But I think a little extra is welcome. This is not consumer to Apple relationship, because this was not mediated by Apple themselves, but I think that that might be a bad consumer experience that Apple would be very, very interested in solving because there are people that just did not know that it was possible… their kid found a way, despite whatever fail safes that Apple or Google or whoever put into this device, they managed to rack up four hundred dollars’ worth of expenses by buying doughnuts or whatever it is that these kids do with their beep-boops. And that’s a pain point, and something that really should be sanded down.
Leo: iOS will have Beats Music bundled into it, according to The Financial Times. I would go to the Financial Times article, but it’s behind a pay wall, so let’s just give macrumors.com the credit here. Apple will bundle the subscription music service it acquired from Beats into its iOS operating system early next year, says F.T., instantly making it available on hundreds of millions of iPhones and iPads, and ramping up pressure on Spotify. It will still be a paid-for service. It’s not going to be free.
Rene: The big question there, is they say “hundreds of millions of devices,” which means it has to go beyond the U.S., yet Beats is still U.S.-only. I tunes Radio is still U.S. and Australia-only.
Rene: and I don’t know whether they’ve been waiting to go international until they did the merger, because they obviously knew about it, or if they still are going to find it very difficult to go international, but the way the article reports it doesn’t seem to conform to reality as I understand it.
Leo: Well, the Financial Times is in England, right?
Rene: Yeah. And it’s neither of those there…
Leo: are available. Yeah. Will they re-brand it? Will it say Beats? It could be as easy as putting the app on the phones and the tablets. That’s all it means necessarily. Or, does it mean that iTunes Radio will be modified to have Beats music in it?
Rene: Well, iTunes Radio is not separate. There were rumors that it would go separate prior to the Beats launch, and it’s still inside the music app, so it would make sense. I can’t say. I don’t know. I’m not Eddie Q. What would be interesting is if they spun it into a separate app that combined both the subscription Beats service and the iTunes Radio service.
And they were supposedly going to do that. That was the rumor, right? Yeah.
Rene? And the rumor was also they were also going to re-brand Beats into something iTunes and leave the Beats brand for the headphones.
Leo: Yeah, because it’s not like the Beats streaming music service has huge customer uptake. It’s still probably one of the smallest only because it’s one of the last. So there’s no reason to preserve that brand. What you want to preserve, really, is the really cool way that Beats music lets you choose what you want to listen to. You kind of construct a sentence. “I want to listen to EDM music in a dance hall with Shingy…
Leo: and then it will play the appropriate tunes.
Rene: The helu-curation part is what they’re real interested in. Is that a letterman sweater you’re wearing?
Andy: [laughs] Double letter in both swimming and basketball.
Leo: Are you mocking me?
Rene: No, I’m just saying.
Leo: My hair looks normal. So, what is normal, right? On the planet Shingy, everybody…my hair would look flat.
Rene: And anyway he is the normal one.
Leo: He is the normal one.
Rene: Yeah. It was last week, right at the show time, that apple released the Apple Watch SDK in a movie, and we were trying to parse it in real time as we watched and read. Since then, any more insights into what Apple Watch means, Rene?
Andy: The overall impression…
Leo: Go ahead, Andrew.
Andy: Right. I’m sorry. I know you’ve gone deeper dive than I have. I spent a day watching videos and talking to people about it, but I’ve mostly tried to figure out what I felt about it.
Andy: Basically, it impressed me how much…how interesting the difference between having a watch that runs its own operating system and has a great level of autonomy, and only chooses to show off its power by how intimate the connection is between the pocket device and the wrist device is different from Apple Watch, which is ‘We’re putting all of our processing power into hosting the greatest user interface we can possibly put on a wrist, and we’re going to lean on the phone as much as possible for the things that we do with it. So I don’t know how that’s going to express itself in the form of actual apps. We basically, in the past week, we’ve only kind of underscored some things that we hit on last week, which is that chiefly, the watch is going to, in the first iteration of the software, is going to be simply receiving notifications on returning actions to a phone app that’s going to pretty much be a dump terminal. It’s going to be like a VT-100, only on your wrist, and self-hosted apps are going to come much later in the year. Much more interesting is what Apple was talking about: what the role of a watch app is going to be. My mind was set at ease when they were talking about how glances—not long, lingering, loving looks—that’s not a direct quote, but that’s pretty much what they’re talking about, where they used as one example the American Airlines app, where if someone just looks at it, it will say, “Here’s what your flight status is. If you hold the watch in that position, then it will go a little bit deeper, but at no point is Apple encouraging people to do things like change their seat assignment or check in for a flight through the watch. This is the point in which we hand you off back to the phone for deeper things. That did set my mind at ease, because I was very, very worried given the demo they did back in September. But maybe they were expecting me to spend a lot of time fussing around with this device that has so many controls on it. So we’re still guessing, but there’s more optimist for me, than I think there was a couple months ago. Rene, what did you take away?
Rene: It’s really interesting because Apple has said that native apps are coming next year. Coming next year you’ll be able to do all sorts of independent apps. You’ll be able to go jogging with your watch and not have to worry that you’re leaving your apps essential behind if you don’t have your phones with you. And the way it is now it’s very similar to pre-iPhone SDK where there were web apps and the thing essentially could update. Right now it requires the phone, so when you’re not connected to your phone, your apps will not be able to update, and that’s going to dictate a lot of what developers can do with it, but it’s a short-term thing. Whether Apple just doesn’t have time now, or they don’t have the right things in place, that will get solved next year. For now it’s really interesting, because as Andy said, is that they’ve staged this by attention. And if you look at the verbs that they use, there are short-look and long-look notifications. And if your watch is down or pointed away from you, privacy comes into play, because it only gives you the short-look. It gives you an icon and not much else. If you bring it close to you, it gives you the long-look. But also in low power mode, if it starts running low on battery it will stop doing long-look notifications and just do the short-look ones, so it’s staging them based on attention and based on power consumption. And then glances—they’re not calling them widgets. They’re giving them a very active sort of a name. And that gives you a little bit more information, even. So you go from short look to long look to glance.
And then you have the watch kit apps, which are essentially the interface runs on the watch and all the logic is behind on the phone, and that’s sort of a bet that Bluetooth connectivity is less power-intensive and better for a watch kit-style app than actually making the processor do it itself on the watch, which kind of gives you a hint of where Apple’s emphasis is on this. They want to do everything to make sure the watch is as power-efficient as possible. And then you get into it, and it’s really interesting, because as much as iOS and OS10 have gone white, Apple is asking developers to go black with the watch kit apps, because the phone has a very large bezel, and it’s black, and if you make the app black, it’s going to look wide-screen on you. And if you make it bright it’s going to look very small. And they’re also stressing what makes sense, what makes sense for somebody glancing? A lot of apps simply aren’t going to make sense on the watch. It’s going to be easier to get your phone and do anything intensive. But something that’s just convenient-based—whether you want to glance at your login, you want to do a quick ApplePay payment, you want to get an update on a status—that’s a very quick engagement; a very quick interaction and you can do that on the watch. So it looks like this is really, really well thought out. And like we said last week, totally a lot based on extensibility, a lot based on continuity, which seems like a very virtuous cycle for them and easy to understand for developers. So it’s all going to come down to what sort of experiences they can get on that watch, come launch time.
Leo: Yeah. It’s interesting to see how much control they give to developers, and then to the users. That is something that I wouldn’t say that I worried about—when we’re talking about going to low battery mode and then the watch making a decision not do things that are battery intensive, while sometimes you’re like, ‘Look, this watch just has to last me ten minutes until I board the plane, and until I board the plane I really need to know this information that I need to get off of it. Don’t try to help me by making it harder for me to find something I need this watch to do.’
Andy: And it’s such an interesting concept because people are still completely malleable on what a watch should do and how it should behave and what their reaction should be, so this launch is going to be so important. They can get away…Apple can get away with pretty much whatever they want, except for not matching one of the one million expectations people have of this device…
Leo: So, there’s so much room for so many different approaches to it, and I still think it’s going to be a couple of years until people figure out what a SmartWatch should do, in the same way it took them to figure out what a graphable user interface app should be, or what a mobile app should be.
Rene: If you’ve used extensibility or you’ve used continuity a lot, especially continuity with hand-off, sometimes it’s absolutely instant, and sometimes you can count to ten or fifteen or twenty before it happens. It’s not a huge deal because you have the other devices, but on the watch that’s the entire sum total of experiences until native apps get...and if it’s twenty seconds to get an update, there might be a frustration level that doesn’t exist on any other device.
Leo: Yeah. Apple has to do the thing which they often do, which is, ‘This has to work. It has to work. It has to work. And if it does not work 100% of the time, we should not ship this, or we should not include this feature here.’
I like so many things about my Android Bear Watch. One of them is that it does pretty much the same thing where it will give you answers and short interactions. I read at some point it will hand you back off to the phone. I have a never had a problem where I get that big button saying, “Open on phone.” I tap the button, and by the time I phone out of my pocket the screen is lit up and is showing me the information that I actually want.” Which is why I actually use it, as opposed to, “Don’t bother with it,” because if there’s a one out of ten chance it’s not going to do anything, I will never get in the habit of relying it. So, if Apple just makes the first iteration so good that people come to trust and rely on it, no matter how limited the feature set is, that’s going to be the big win.
Leo: We’re going to take a break, and when we come back…Gentlemen, prepare your picks. But first, it’s time to shave. Everybody together, “Oh, you’re not shaving for November?” This is our last MacBreak Weekly for the month of Movember—that’s the month that many men around the world stop shaving to raise awareness for men’s health issues. But if you are getting prepared to shave it off come December first—if your special other person in your life says, ‘Shave that beard or mustache,’—then I’ve got to tell you about Harry’s. And I’ve got to tell you about these special kits from Harry’s. This would be a great gift for the holidays. Harry’s was started by guys who think razors are too expensive. They figured there’s a better way to do this. In fact, they wanted to make sure you got the best quality razors and blades, so they actually bought a factory in Germany. They bought the factory—This is commitment—to create really good blades. Historically, almost all the world’s razor blade factories have been controlled by all the big name brands. That’s how come they can charge you like four dollars a blade.
Hey, yeah, that’s the model, isn’t it? We’ve even said that. You give away the razor, you make it up on the blade? Well, Harry’s wants to change things. They are now the only brand in the world that makes blades and sells direct. And that’s how they can get the price down to so much less—about half as much as you might spend for say, a Gillette Fusion blade—all because of this wonderful factory which has been making some of the world’s best blades since 1920. Four hundred German engineers, designers, craftsmen and workers build and create very sophisticated equipment to give you the best shave possible. At Harry’s! I want you to go to harrys.com and take a look at the various packages. This is a very inexpensive holiday gift that will make the guy in your life very happy. The Truman Set-fifteen dollars! And for fifteen bucks you get three blades. You get the razor handle, which is beautiful. You get the shave gel—the foaming shave gel, which smells fabulous and really works. Mmmm! They also have the Winston Set. That’s what I have. That’s twenty-five dollars.
And there’s a new Winter Winston. Ooh, it has nice new colors. They have an ice blue and a black. These kits are a great deal, but the best part about Harry’s is then getting your blades delivered to you monthly or every other month-you get to choose. It’s Movember. If you’re not shaving, don’t worry. Harry’s is making a donation to the Movember fund to show their support, but when it’s time to shave—and even if you have a bread you probably should clean it up—go to Harry’s, h-a-r-r-y-s.com. You’ll be getting five dollars off your very first purchase when you use our code: MACBREAK. $Five dollars off your first purchase only when you go to <harrys.com> and enter the code MACBREAK at checkout. Wait a minute, you get five dollars off your first purchase? That means for ten dollars you could get the Truman set. You don’t have to tell your loved one that you saved so much money. But I tell you, he’s going to be very happy. It feels so good, works so well, and you will just love it. I shave every morning and every night now with Harry’s. I like it so much. Harry’s—H-A-R-R-Y-S. Don’t forget to use our offer code MACBREAK to save five dollars off your first purchase at harrys.com.
[In a deep, reverberating voice] Every man deserves Harry’s.
Rene: Like a hovercraft for your face, Leo. It’s fantastic.
Leo: [laughs] We sent you one, right, but I don’t think you have a large beard?
Rene: Once a week. Once a week I use it, like clockwork.
Leo: You just clean up your neck and stuff.
Leo: I know people who shave more, like me, because we have our Harry’s and we love it—kit. It looks nicer than this. I’ve deconstructed it.
Rene: Once you hold it, you don’t want to hold those cheap plastic things anymore.
Leo: I know! Oh, if you’re still buying disposable blades, shame on you! That’s no way to treat your face. That’s no way to treat your face!
Leo: Okay, time for our picks of the week, and I have picked something just for you, Andy Ihnatko. I know how you feel about singing. You’re famous for your love of his Donna Damaro.
Andy: [in a deep voice] Donna Damaro.
Leo: Yes. And I’m sure you’re probably a fan of the wonderful Disney movie Frozen. Now you can get Frozen karaoke on your Macintosh.
[laughter, all around]
Andy: And the parents rejoice finally, that the kids were almost not singing that song now. Now we can get them to keep singing it for another…
Rene: Echo, echo…
Leo: Forever and ever. Sing along. There are nine songs on here—Seven dollars and ninety cents. Kids will love it, and you get the lyrics.
[Music plays. Do you want to build a snowman?]
Leo: [in a mocking, childlike voice, singing] Do you want to build a snowman?
[Music plays. Come on, let’s go and play.]
Leo: [in a mocking, childlike voice, singing] Come on, let’s go and play.
[Music plays. I never see you anywhere. Come out the door.]
Leo: [in a mocking, childlike voice, singing] I never see you anywhere. Come out the door. So you can turn her on or off.
Rene: If they just added AutoTune I’d be so into this.
Leo: Oh, why don’t they have AutoTune? You can record yourself as you sing along, so…Do you want to build a snowman?
Andy: Leo, when I come to Twit I expect to not hear Frozen music because I have to hear it all the time at home.
Leo: Do you want to build a snowman? Oh, I bet Lucy loves Frozen!
Andy: Oh, I can’t even tell you! Thousands of times we’ve heard this song.
Leo: If she’s going to love something, Frozen’s a good thing for her to love, right?
Andy: Yeah, yes.
Leo: It’s a wonderful movie, I think.
Andy: I agree.
Leo: So they have nine songs from the movie. You choose your song. Sing along. Record your child singing. It’s so much fun. And notice, next to the floppy disk icon, which small children probably won’t recognize…
Leo: there is a trashcan icon, which parents will know means “throw this thing out.” Do you want to build a snowman? Am I giving you chills, Jason?
Jason: I’m just realizing how much I know all the words to this entire soundtrack. I don’t need words at the bottom of the screen. Can I turn those off, because I don’t need them.
Leo: Now, that’s a good question. I don’t know. I can turn off the singing, but I don’t know if I can turn off the words.
Rene: Can we get a few verses from Jason?
Leo: No. [Music plays. Leo sings along. So he’s a bit of a fixer-upper. So he’s got a few flaws. Like his peculiar brain, dear, or the thing with the reindeer, that’s a little outside of nature’s laws. This is not about me! So he’s a bit of a fixer-upper....]
Andy: All right. Thanks a lot, Leo.
Leo: [laughs] It’s $7.99 on the app store. Now we take it to Mister Rene Ritchie for his much more appropriate pick of the week.
Rene: I’ve got two. The first one is well-known. It’s probably been picked before, but it has recently been updated. It’s Deliveries by June Cloud, and it lets you track… When you’re doing all of your holiday shopping, and you’re shopping online to have stuff delivered to you, and you want to make sure to know what day it’s arriving, to make sure you’ll be home to get it, Deliveries (it used to be called Deliveries Touch for iOS) has always been my go-to app, and now it’s for iOS 8. And now it includes a Today View widget....
Rene: so you don’t actually have to launch the app anymore. You can just pull down the notification center. Make sure that you’re actually on the “today” screen and the widget will be right there and it will tell you when all of your packages are arriving. I’ve been using it all week to track various stuff that I’ve bought and it’s funny because widgets, they’re not surfaced that a lot of people know about them, but once you know about them—everything from P-Calc to I use it for DropBox—it’s so quick to get access to this information from anywhere. I don’t even have to go back to the home screen anymore. I just pull down the shade, no matter where I am, and it tells me right there, and I don’t suffer that problem anymore of you hit the home screen button, you get there and you forget why it was you hit the home screen button, and you open Twitter again.
Leo: I thought it was just my age. Okay. Good. That’s good to know.
Rene: No. Apparently it’s a psychological thing. It’s like when you go through a doorway. If anytime you change state…
Rene: it’s hard to remember what transpired…
Rene: between the two states. So anyway that’s my excuse, Leo, because I’m old too.
Leo: I’m changing states. You know what, this is a good tip, as long as we’re showing you. Pull down your notification shade. Scroll down to the bottom—you see I have a lot of notifications—and there’s an “edit” button. Once you hit the “edit” button you can see which ones are turned on. Oddly enough, they have the red icon. That’s because if you hit it, they turn off. But then there’s a list, and as you install apps this list gets longer of all the apps that you’ve already got installed that have notifications. But you can add those notifications just by tapping that--the green button, and adding it to your notifications list. So, if you don’t know what special widgets are available, there’s the list right there in the notifications screen.
Rene: And it really helped me out, because I ordered a MacBook Pro…
Leo: I love this!
Rene: Yeah. And it was supposed to come on Wednesday, so I made trials on Wednesday. But then I saw on delivery status that it was coming on Monday, and I quickly changed my plans and it did arrive on Monday. So I would have totally missed the delivery if I hadn’t been keeping track of it.
Leo: How does it work? Do you have to have it scan your e-mail?
Rene: I just enter in the tracking number. There may be smarter ways of doing it, but I’ve been using it since, I think, iOS 2, so…
Leo: Got it.
Rene: I stuck with what I know.
Leo. Yeah, I have a program on Android called Slice that scans your G-mail, and so then it auto adds everything as long as you get an auto-notification about shipments.
Rene: Yeah, I think...I don’t give…
Leo: Yeah, well that’s why I ask, because some people don’t want to do that. Yeah. So this way, you just put in the tracking number, and you’ll know.
Rene: The other pick I had-it was just a quick one. Due disclosure, it’s a guy that I co-host a podcast with who made the app, but it’s called Stringer. If you’re just used to shuffling music and you want to shuffle to the next song, it’s one thing, but if you’re shuffling and you decide you really like this song and you want to hear the next one on the album, or you want to do anything that involves customizing between the shuffles, Stringer is great. I don’t listen to a lot of music. I listen to much more TV than I do music, but I found this really useful because when I do listen to something it hits some sort of sense memory in me and you know, I’m hearing an Aba song and all of a sudden I really want to hear the next one off the list.
Leo: Right, right.
Rene: And it’s very visual. It’s a super-nice looking app. It’s really easy to navigate. And it’s a great way if you are a fan of shuffled music but you almost always wish you had more control over it than a pure random shuffle. Stringer gives you a lot of great control.
Leo: So this replaces the shuffles feature in iTunes…
Leo: with its own feature through your iTunes. You know, one thing I always wish I could see is the previous songs. Can you go up and down in that list and see what she listens to?
Rene: I never tried, but it looks to me like you could.
Rene: I’ll test that.
Leo: And I actually like the UI. Nicely done!
Rene: Yeah. It’s their first app. And it turned out, I think, very nicely.
Leo: Stringer, and it is from <heyderby.com>. H-E-Y-D-E-R-B-Y.com.
Rene: Yes. It’s the product branch of Nickelfish. And Nickelfish—you’ve never heard of them—but they’ve done a lot of the very popular… like if you’ve used a corporate app for a hotel or a car company or something, you might have used their work before.
Leo: Oh. Should we talk to them about doing a Twit app?
Rene: They’re good. I mean…
Leo: But they’re expensive as well. We should talk to them. We wanted to do kind of reference apps for Twit.
Rene: They did the first version of the iMore app.
Leo: Oh. Well, there you go. I will talk to them. I’ll e-mail you off-line.
Leo: And finally, Andy Ihnatko’s pick of the week. Andy?
Andy: Mine’s an oldie, but a goody, and also a very situational-ly one. It’s Things…
Leo: Oh, yes.
Andy: Things for iOS by Cultured Code. There are to-do list managers, and then there are to-do project goals/aspirations managers. And then the king of that category is certainly in Omnifocus. But the thing is these are kind of complicated apps where it just...if your habit is just to go into EverNote and check things off, that doesn’t translate directly to one of these big, big apps. Things is a little bit simpler than Omnifocus. That’s what [is] one of the differentiators that I’ve always had between the two. And also, this week until the 28th, until the end of the week, it is free for iOS.
Andy: Because it’s normally for ten bucks. You can get the iPhone version or the iPad version for free.
Leo: That’s awesome.
Andy: The Mac version is thirty percent off, also, for the same amount of time. Again, it ends on November 28th. It’s the App Store Pick of the Week.
And so it’s a really good opportunity if you think that your life and your work and your personal life could be improved by switching from—again—EverNote to-do lists to a real task and goal manager. This is a cheap way to get into that and see if you can adapt your way of thinking towards a highly structured way of project management that these apps help you to do. Normally ten bucks. Probably worth twenty bucks, and it’s free for the next week.
Leo: That’s a good deal. That was the one thing that always kept me from trying it, is, ‘Ah, it’s ten bucks!’ Yeah, so that’s a good thing. That’s good.
Andy: I hope it’s a good opportunity for Cultured Code, because I love that on other platforms you could simply…they could release a trial version…
Andy: And on an app like this, ten bucks is not a lot of money for such a polished piece of software, but it’s probably above the ‘what-the-hell, I’ll give it a try’ threshold for most people. So again, this is not just a good opportunity if you’re thinking about Things, but also if you’re thinking about making that step up from a checklist of to-do’s to something that’s a little more organized, a little more structured. I have to admit that I personally have never got my head around this highly-structured project management idea because what it tries to make you do is try to think in terms of what are the broader goals and where are the places and opportunities you have to get items off of your to-do list and making your progress toward those goals. And I find that I find so much time trying to think about how this app wants me to contextualize the process of designing and building a new standing desk to just, ‘Well, what if I just simply have a to-do list?’ Number one: Design it. Number two: Buy the lumber. Number three: Cut it and build it.
[Laughing] So it’s a really good opportunity for you to start to not mess around with this sort of stuff.
Rene: Lovely! To-do’s are the gym memberships of apps.
Andy: [Pondering] To-do’s are the gym memberships…
Rene: I always get more and more of them, and sometime during the year I stop going. Thing--It’s an amazing one.
Leo: And by the way, we talked about this on iPad today or yesterday, but it’s worth it to mention that Carousel for DropBox is now an app available for iPads, and that’s a good one to make mention of, too. If you’ve been storing your photos on DropBox, this will give you a gallery of DropBox.
Rene: And then on Twitter t says you can forward e-mail to June Cloud, and they will automatically add it on to Deliveries for you. And then you can print it.
Leo: Ah, that’s the easy way to do it! That’s the way to do it.
Leo: So if you’ve got June Cloud to keep track of your package deliveries, just forward that first mail from them.
Rene: Yeah. <firstname.lastname@example.org> and it automatically adds it to your app.
Leo: It’s like TripIt that way. I love that.
Andy: You know what the more sophisticated solution would be? Once it realizes that you have in iPhone delivery for Friday, to arrange for, ‘Well, here are delivery restaurants that will deliver pizzas and food to your house…’
Andy: So that you don’t have to leave the house, even for five minutes.
Andy: Shall we schedule the post office to pick up the mail that you’re were going to go out to look for?
Rene: It’s Uber for pizza.
Andy: No, no. That’s a bad word.
Leo: Wait a minute. That’s a bad word. Don’t say “Uber” for anything. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen for joining us for this edition of MacBreak Weekly. There was no news this week, so we made a short show. We’re thankful for the lack of news.
Rene: Yeah, it gives us a chance to talk more.
Leo: Andy Ihnatko of the Chicago Sun Times: Good to have you, as always.
Andy: It’s been a slice, and I hope there’s more plenty of pumpkin pie in Pasadena.
Rene: Have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Are you doing anything? Are you going anywhere?
Andy: I will be spending Thanksgiving with my family.
Rene: Nice. Very nice.
Andy: I have been asked to bring a covered dish, so I’m going to have to go to the Stop ‘N Shop, throw some elbows to make sure I get those marshmallows and that tiny can of fried onions because...
Leo: That’s it!
Andy: I’ll see that lady in hell before I let that other knave of mine get the last can of dried onions.
Leo: [laughing] Do your people do cranberries? I think cranberries are grown out your way, are they not?
Andy: Yes, but the cranberry divide is just as sharp in Massachusetts and New England as it is anywhere else. And I’ve rarely been to a Thanksgiving with above let’s say, nine people, [in] which there was not the STeadicam Cranberries: the jelly and the fruit kind.
Leo: Yeah, do you want the jelly—the Ocean Spray jelly in the can, that when you put it in the dish it still has the ribs from the can?
Andy: [Heavy New England accent] As long as it’s produced by local growers, ok? People spend all that time waiting around in them bogs…
Leo: It’s a bog! People don’t know. Cranberries grow in bogs. They’re in swamps, and they have to go out in boats and get them.
Andy: I’m actually kind of depressed. There was this cranberry bog that I used to drive past at least three times a week. It’s in either Wallpole or Norway—those of you who know suburban Boston. And now, even when the cranberry bog is dry it’s like, ‘Oh, that’s where they grow cranberries.’ And now, there are big signs that they’re turning that land into a condo development.
Andy: And I’m like, “That’s not more interesting than cranberries!”
Leo: Nothing is more interesting than a cranberry bog.
Andy: I just look forward to driving past and see, “Oh, look! They’re flooding the bog. They’re about ready to harvest.”
Rene: They’re going to regret that for the holidays.
Andy: And then there’s those magical times that you’re actually there that you see the big boom that’s swinging and I’m like, “Awww, man.” I swear, a cultural hellish heritage is New Englanders.
Leo: I know. I grew up with the cranberry bogs, but I don’t ever think I saw them harvested. So I missed that.
Andy: And now if you’re in Wallpole, Leo, you never will, apparently.
Leo: That’s sad.
Andy: The collapse of the Wallpole cranberry.
Leo: What a shame. You already had your Thanksgiving, Mr. Ritchie, because the Canadians celebrate a month early.
Rene: Yup, back on your Columbus Day.
Leo: What do you Canadians do on US Thanksgiving--anything?
Rene: I enjoy the respite because nothing happens in the world, so…
Leo: You don’t take a vacation, right? But Americans have stopped run, run, running. So you can relax. This is what it would be like in a world without the United States.
Rene: No, not at all. We still enjoy your television.
Leo: [laughing] The television continues.
Leo: Thank you so much for being here. Both Rene and Andy do other podcasts. Andy, of course on the 5 by 5 Network, <5by5.tv>, where you can find Ihnatko’s Almanac. And he also does dramatic readings of old columns.
Leo: Whatever. And Rene of course has DeBug, which you’ll find at imore.com
Rene: Oh, Leo, speaking of debug, we did back-to-back episodes just to get them out of the way before the holidays, and we’ll put them up week after week. But we did Extensibility and Watch Kit with James Thompson of P-Calc, Ashley Nelson of DropBox, Brian Irace of Tumblr and Brad Ellis of Pacific Helm. And then the week after that we did Watch Kit with John Grouper, Derring Fireball, and John Edwards who is an iOS developer but also a watchmaker who works on Rolexes and Amigas and high-end watches. So you can sort of see it from both angles.
Leo: Wow, that’s exciting!
Rene: Yeah, so those will be up this week and next week.
Leo: Very nice! Well, we thank you all for being here. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, or not. Oh, thank you Jason Howell, reminding me that the poor fellow’s going to be working long hours putting together the best of MacBreak Weekly. You can help him if you go to <twit.tv/best of>. Suggest a fabulous moment you’d like to see again in our Best Of episode, which we will air Christmas week. Notable moments. Also good stories.
Jason: Because I have gone through a bunch of the submissions already and I have a lot of good moments, but how about some really good stories to go ahead?
Leo: Yeah. There were big stories, big issues, during the end of the year.
Jason: Yeah, or great discussions to go around a big story from the end of the year.
Leo: All right. <twit.tv/best of>. If you want to be part of our New Year’s Eve festivities, tickets are in short supply, but you can e-mail email@example.com at anytime, if you want to see any show. It’s always a good idea to do that. And we are looking for people who would like to be part. We can’t guarantee you a role on the air, but if you’d like to be part of our celebration, we’re going to try to get somebody in every time zone: <twit.tv/nye>.
Our Tee Spring shirts are still for sale for a couple more days. We thought that these would be great holiday gifts. Boy, were we wrong. No one wants them.
Way to sell them, Leo.
Leo: These things suck. No, I like them. There’s a dress shirt with a Twit logo on it that looks like you work at Twit, and there’s a polo shirt if you want to be for casual Friday when you come to Twit.
Andy: Maybe the next time you do a design, if you use something that’s classy as that, also have embroidered underneath it that stands for This Week in Tech. I’m not hardly posting that I’m slow on the uptake, in general.
Leo: Yeah. I think that’s part of the problem. Yeah. [Sighs] How often do I advertise them? Every damn show. <Teespring.com/twit>. Tee Spring is great. They just raised a huge amount of money, I think, venture funding. It was started by a couple of college guys and it’s been fun partnering with them, so they do some nice stuff for us. In this case, maybe not so great. <tSpring.com/twit>. You know what, you should own it now so that you can say, “I bought it.” It will be a collector’s item.
Rene: Yeah, it will be a cult classic.
Leo: We don’t make extras.
Andy: It will be the one that no one has, because no one ordered it at the time. We’re not supposed to say this, but we’re short-packing these shirts.
Leo: I don’t know what that means.
Andy: Believe me, they know what it means.
Leo: They know what it means. Oh-oh-oh!
Andy: You’re going to be at Comic Con next year. You’re going to see this, with a CGI grade slab of 9.8 meds, and you’ll be like, “I could have bought this.”
Rene: Look at those graphs we looked at before. Have we not learned the lessons of buying something immediately after it comes out, and then holding onto it? Or, do you not care about your investment future?
Leo: These are collector-grade shirts.
Andy: Actually, you know, you’ve seen sci-fi movies where everybody in the future is wearing the same thing and it’s also very futuristic? This is like thirty years from now. Everybody’s wearing this shirt.
Leo: Everybody’s wearing that. Nobody will think you’re a twit. There you go.
Rene: Like in the movie “Her”.
Leo: You’ll be able to flip it instantly.
Andy: People will make fun of you for not wearing one. Do you want to be that person?
Leo: And by the way, you should wear your pants right up here [shows chest level] with those shirts.
Rene: You wear that shirt, you have Shingy hair, you will be a cultural icon.
Leo: [clears throat] Ladies and gentlemen, we do MacBreak Weekly…
Andy: I never met you, but I feel as though I’m your defender here.
Leo: He’s Mr. Shingy. Yeah, well you know what? Let’s get Shingy on the show and you can talk to you, Andy, and you’ll speak his language. The Planet Shingy.
Rene: The five elements of Chinese cosmology.
Leo: Yeah. The show is done every Tuesday at 11 am. Well, it begins. It’s never done, but it begins at Tuesday 1 am Pacific, 2 PM Eastern Time. 1900 UTC on Twit.TV. You could watch live if you wish, but if you don’t wish to, or you can’t because of that darn thing called work, don’t worry about it. We’ve got on-demand audio and video for you after the fact. <twit.tv/MBW.> You can also find it on YouTube. <youtube.com/macbreakweekly> or wherever finer podcasts are aggregated for later distribution, AKA iTunes and the fine Twit apps on every platform.
Thank you for joining us. We’ll see you next time. Now get back to work, because break time (maybe wear one of those nice Twit shirts when you do), break time is over! Thank you, boys and girls.
Rene: I think my snap survived.
Jason: No, hey, great. Looks and sounds great. Yes. I don’t understand it.
Leo: Downgrading works. That’s bizarre. Did you do the port forwarding this time? I think something happened. I don’t know. Here’s a video on how cranberries are grown [laughing]. While we watch the video…
Andy: [In a very dry, documentary-like voice] The Ocean Spray is a consortium…
Leo: [heavy New England accent] A consortium
Andy: of cranberry growers and distributors.
Leo: Here she is: Miss Ocean Spray 2012.
[Video shows, with female speaker, fades in] ...how many are native to this land. Cranberries are one of them.
There are they are in the bog. You can make them into syrups. You can bake them in a pot.
Andy: It looks like the best punch bowl every.
Have you ever heard of this thing called a Craisin? Try them in oatmeal cookies.
Leo: Are they harvesting the cranberries in the bog right now?
Andy: Absolutely. It’s a dry growth field, and what they’ve found out is that if you flood the bog you could very easily, because there are usually levels of cranberry bogs. They start off with the highest elevation bog. They flood that. And then they have these big machines, that because these cranberries are lighter in the water—less dense—they float to the top. Then you can just simply get a boom and skim them off. See?
Andy: And then you take the water from the highest bog....
Leo: You’re saying that these berries actually grow on the ground. They don’t actually grow in water. That’s a harvesting technique.
Andy: They’re bushes. Right.
Leo: The bog is just for a harvest.
Andy: They’re a small, family owned-operation. They can’t hire in their pickers.
Leo: They don’t have Mexicans in Massachussets. That’s the problem. Now I’m in trouble.
Andy: I’m not going there. Are you on this, Johnny?
Leo: Here in California we don’t have this problem. We just make people bend over, stoop labor, instead of floating them.
Andy: Actually, it’s like a shortage of hip wetters.
Leo: [Interjects] Oh yeah. You guys have a lot of hip wetters. Yeah.
Andy: We could not allow to have many hip wetters, as many hip wetters as we need.So the fishing industry gets most of them.
Leo: If we don’t pass immigration reform, this is how all vegetables will be harvested in the future.
Andy: It’s a fruit! It’s a berry.
Leo: [laughing] It’s a berry. Look, I never knew this: I always thought they grew in bogs. They take sixteen months. Oh, it’s a very bad business. And plus, no one wants them. They’re served once a year.
Andy: Actually I did hear that the cranberry industry is lobbying against beverage taxes because they’re saying, ‘Look, we’re not just adding sugar to our cranberry juice because we’re trying to make fat kids. It’s because these are very, very bitter fruit.
Leo: It’s hot. It’s hot! You don’t want to drink a cranberry without some sugar in it.
Leo: But I do love Ocean Spray cranberry juice.
Andy: It needs some sweetener.
Leo: Sweetener! A little sweetener in there! It’s also good for bladder infections.
Andy: [laughing] Well, I’ve never tried drinking it from that from that end, but I’ll take your word for it, Leo.
Rene: We all start a cranberry podcast right now.
Leo: If you want to serve onion juice for Thanksgiving, you would also need sugar.
Andy: Our first idea was clam cranberry-ato.
Leo: Oh, remember that—Clamato?
Rene: Oh, it’s huge here, Leo. That’s how you make a Bloody Caesar.
Leo: Oh, that’s disgusting! They put clams in your tomato juice?
Rene: Yeah. French Stewart was the spokesperson from it. Because they could say, ‘Well, we’re going to have to get the weirdest person on TV to advertise this.
Leo: That was a good idea. I want oysters in my cranberry juice.
Rene: I don’t understand it, but it’s huge in Canada.
Andy: Wow. I love Moxie. People drink Moxie.
Leo: Moxie-now there’s a soda!
Andy: Here we called it a rested log-looser.
Leo: Pretty much, people only eat cranberries once a year, right?
Rene: Christmas and Thanksgiving, we usually have that. Yeah.
Leo: So that whole thing about floating them was just to make it easier to harvest them?
Andy: Exactly. Again, they have those things to basically beat the bushes to separate them and they float to the top.
Leo: We should do that with Brussels sprouts and other vegetables?
Rene: They don’t have the durability that a cranberry does.
Leo: I feel like I should hand in my Rhode Island citizenship guide because I never knew that. I always thought they grew in bogs.
Andy: They’re a bog fruit.
Leo: All right, guys, I will let you go after this.
Rene: Okay. Have a Happy Thanksgiving, a happy Thursday.
Andy: Have a Happy Thanksgiving! Take care, you guys.