MacBreak Weekly 431 (Transcript)
Mike Elgan: It's time for MacBreak Weekly, Leo's off today but Andy Inhatko, Serenity Caldwell and Allison Sheridan are all here, we're going to talk about Apple lawsuits, Apple patents, Apple's problems in the education market. It's all coming up right now, on MacBreak Weekly.
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Mike: This is MacBreak Weekly Episode 431 for December 2, 2014.
iPhone Lands on its Feet
This episode is brought to you by SquareSpace. SquareSpace recently launched the latest version of their platform SquareSpace 7 which has a completely redesigned interface, integrations with Getty images and Google Apps, new templates, and an incredible feature called cover pages. Try the new SquareSpace at SquareSpace.com and enter the offer code MacBreak at checkout to get 10% off. And by Nature Box, Nature Box ships great tasting snacks right to your door. Start snacking smarter with wholesome delicious treats like lemon tea biscuits. To get your complimentary Nature Box sample, visit NatureBox.com/twit. That's NatureBox.com/twit. 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! To sign up, go to PersonalCapital.com/macbreak. It's time for MacBreak Weekly, the show where we cover Apple in all its glory, Leo is out today. My name is Mike Elgan I'm the news director here at TWiT and with us is the incomparable Andy Inhatko, Chicago Sun Times technology columns. How you doing Andy?
Andy Inhatko: I'm doing pretty good, people do compare me to other things, usually not in a positive way so thank you for brushing that over. If I'm incomparable that can be nothing but an upgrade. I don't like being compared to things because..
Mike: Well I will try to not do
that. And in fact, have never done it. I would never do that, I really enjoy your work. Really enjoy all your appearances on this show and
also, I'm going to make a pitch right now. I'd love to get you on Tech News
Today much more often. I think this year you've only been on the show once,
twice, three times. But I'd really love to get you on that show more.
Andy: I've loved it every time I've done it. You hear darning socks by the fire waiting for that phone to call, Mike.
Mike: Alright we're going to send you a special red phone that lights up when I call. That will be a lot of fun. With us also..
Andy: That works because I usually am dressed as Batman. So that fits.
Mike: Oh really? That's perfect.
Andy: Now I'll have a reason to do that.
Mike: Absolutely perfect, goes with the cave. And with us today is Serenity Caldwell panelist on the incomparable podcast and also iMore managing editor, right?
Serenity Caldwell: Yes, that is correct. I'm happy to be here filling in for Rene and other erstwhile podcasters. That's fun, please don't mind the slightly strange appearance behind me, I am podcasting from a basement but it does have extraordinary good wi-fi so it's alright.
Mike: That doesn't look like a basement, that looks like an attic. But what are you gonna do? So correct me if I'm wrong, the job title of managing editor is the best job in all of editorial. Am I right or am I wrong?
Serenity: Um. (lagging)
Mike: Oh great, we're having Skype issues.
Off-screen: I'm pretty sure just mentioning anything about Wi-fi is enough to set it off.
Mike: I'm sorry, Serenity, we didn't hear that. Skype sort of collapsed on us a little bit.
Off-screen: Yeah it's lagging, let me do a quick reconnect.
Serenity: Pretty much. I quite like my new title.
Off-screen: Okay yeah we're getting serious lag.
Off-screen: Alright, let me work on this.
Andy: It's like an Agatha Christie story. First there were four panelists, now Rene's gone and now Alex is gone and Leo's gone. Down to just.. I must be the murderer then! I've lured people to these Swiss Chalets, yes we need some substitutes for the podcast! Don't question yourself about whatever happened to Leo and to Rene, it was perfectly normal things that happened! Oh listen to you with your fanciful things about how nobody just simply gets impaled upon a brass candlestick when they're skiing outside.
Mike: That's a painful image, thank you so much for that Andy. So do we have..? Let's check the Skype.
Serenity: Is this working again? There we go!
Mike: Wow it's a Skype miracle. I was asking you if managing editor, which I found to be one of the greatest jobs ever on editorial work and I was asking you how you like being a managing editor.
Serenity: I quite like being a managing editor. When Rene first hired me on at iMore he's like “Well you know titles they're just kind of eh. You're welcome to choose what you want but we were thinking like managing editor iOS.” I'm like no no, I don't need to choose. That sounds great, that sounds fantastic. So I'm quite enjoying it and it does have a kind of all-encompassing feel to it which I think aptly describes some of the stuff that I've done so far in the last couple months at iMore. You know, a little bit here a little bit there. Proofing, editorializing, taking some video.
Mike: Yep. Managing editors are the only people in the editorial operation that know everything and have all the power. So that's why it's such a fantastic job. Well let's jump into the Apple news. We've got some Apple news, not a whole lot. This is one of the weird things about covering Apple is that they're not like Google which is always constantly leaking out bits of news and information, Apple releases official news two, three times a year, something like that. And then the rest of the year we're all on our own to scramble and figure things out and we rely on the goodness of people to file lawsuits against Apple so that we have something to talk about. So Apple's in court today, and they are faced with a $1 billion lawsuit, class action suit over iPods and music stuff. It's actually $350 million lawsuit but it gets tripled because there's an anti-trust dimension to it. Andy Inhatko, I couldn't really get a sense of the outcome of this, whether they're going to win this or lose it. Can you do us the favor of just encapsulating what this lawsuit is actually about? And then maybe give us your sense of whether Apple's going to have to actually pay that billion dollars?
Andy: That's the thing with like lawsuits with Apple. They're fighting so many battles on so many fronts you kind of have to, it's like you can't follow every single sports team, you kind of cheer for the one that you really really like so I'm a big fan of the inter-conference scrabbling between Apple and Samsung and Apple and the book industry. When it comes to this thing about it, and I trust stuff on music players. I really don't know what the real beef is. I have to absolutely admit that this is one of those things that makes my eyes glass over a little bit.
Mike: Yeah and Serenity Caldwell, one of the interesting things about this is of course, Steve Jobs is going to testify; sort of. He's actually going to be a video deposition of Steve Jobs himself which was recorded probably four years ago, something like that, is going to be played in court and you know I think we're all looking forward to seeing it, he's probably going to be very persuasive as he always is and you know, but it's just kind of a weird aspect to this that Steve Jobs is testifying.
Serenity: Yeah you know I think it's funny that Steve probably in his infinite wisdom is like “You know what, on the off chance that we get sued, I'm just going to make a bunch of video testimonials and I'll be extremely compelling in all of them.” No, I believe the video is of board room meetings where he's talking about the various plans for the iPod and about crushing competitors which of course this lawsuit has taken to meaning, oh well the iPod is clearly anti-trust and it's goal is to make sure there are no other competitors in the music space and.. I don't know. Not having seen the videos myself, and maybe they'll leak out after the court testimony, I'm skeptical to believe that what Jobs was actually.. like in the eBook anti-trust suit, I'm not necessarily sure what he was saying was crush all the competitors, more like we have a better product, and we're going to make it the best product in his traditional Steve Jobs way. Now whether that will be helpful or harmful for this case we shall see I suppose.
Mike: It's also weird.. go ahead Andy.
Andy: I'm just saying also, this is where like non-lawyers like myself, this is why our eyes glass over, a lot of the things that are sort of key to this particular suit are the idea that for a time you had to, if you wanted music that worked with iPod, you had to buy music from Apple. And so does that.. to us that's more like maybe we've been beaten down, our expectations of having freedom with non-DRM'd content but now it's like well of course if I buy a Kindle book I guess I'm not going to be able to get it on a player that has not been approved by Kindle, if I buy an iTunes movie I'm going to have to be limited to Apple TV and the Apple iPhone and the Apple iPad and that sort of stuff, and then you have to wonder well why is the government so worried about it. And this is why, like I said before, my eyes kind of glass over because I don't know at this point the difference between something that we should simply accept because this is the way that business wants to do business and something that the government really does say no no, we're here to defend you by saying you shouldn't tolerate that sort of stuff from happening. And the other reason why your eyes glass over is because you know that even if a judgment comes down on the side of the consumers it's going to be like we suddenly get a credit for $1.73 that appears magically in our account and like, congratulations. That was the result of all these lawyers and all this gas being burned to photocopy documents and get the positions. $1.73, go nuts.
Mike: Yeah it's also.. it's kind of, it's weird of course, that Steve Jobs is going to make a sort of virtual appearance in all of this, but it's no less weird that the subject matter of this is the whole topic of music players and iPods and lock-in for iTunes music and so on, it's almost as if Microsoft were going to court today to defend itself against charges that its dominance in Windows is allowing it to maintain its dominance with the Internet Explorer browser and they're all going to go to court and figure out this issue once and for all, the whole thing is gone. It's over. And it's just a question of whether people get that dollar and change in their accounts and so yeah, it is a bizarre thing that should make everybody's eyes glaze over, not just the non-lawyers.
Andy: It's also something that, I'm glad that some of the stuff that I might have posted on my blog or like written about like in the 1990s, back when the government might have, might possibly have broken Microsoft into separate units for their operating system division, their application division and their service division just because they were so powerful and it was incorrect for them to create an ecosystem in which their own products work together better than an outside product would and I'm sure that I was also 15, 20 years younger then and so maybe 21, 22 year old Andy would have said “You know, this is exactly what needs to happen because Microsoft wants to control everything and do everything,” and now I'm Andy in 40s and saying that okay, I'm not necessarily saying it's a good thing that I can't buy this copy of the Lego Movie and play it anywhere, but Apple does such a wonderful job with its high quality integration to make sure that syncing between devices works so very very well and it's like.. you just don't know what's real and what's unreal any more. And I don't even know whether the blue pill or the red pill was the one that I'm supposed to take to get back to reality.
Mike: As far as I'm concerned, I don't want to remember nothing. Nothing. Serenity you had a comment?
Serenity: Oh just you know the fact again like you were saying, about the Internet Explorer days, iPods were locked in primarily because of hardware issues. When you're talking about early syncing problems, we all remember how much fun it was to sync early iPods and early music players to your computer. Whereas now I mean there's a reason why this lawsuit is capped at like 2008, 2009 because once the app store was introduced and everything else, like yes you have the option to buy from the iTunes music store but you also have apps like Amazon music where you maybe not necessarily can buy directly but you can get your music downloaded, you can put your music on Dropbox, you can have your music accessible via Google Play, you could stream it off of YouTube, these concerns are now no longer concerns. So it's not like this lawsuit is stop the big bad Apple that's keeping us from doing everything we want to do, most of those options are available. Alternate options are available to you now.
Andy: It's still an interesting principle. One of the reasons why I think this has gone so long is because there is Steve Jobs is known for saying things that are on his mind and whatever happens then happens and there's a conversation between him and Phil Schiller is it? Phil Schiller I believe where they're talking about one of the central touch match issues here was when real player wanted to get its content on the iPod, Apple would not let them do that so they found a way to do that, they simply reverse.. I don't know if this fits the legal definition, but they figured that hey there was a way that we can actually do that whether Apple wants us to do that or not. And Apple said okay, or we can change the way that a host computer talks to the iPod to make sure that doesn't work ever again, and that's one of the central issues that these suits are based on and it's an interesting question to ask, like is it bullying tactics if Apple says, this application that an independent consumer may or may not choose to install that may or may not affect the operation of only the hardware that he or she actually owns, should we actually actively move to make sure that that tool is not available to that person, even though it doesn't seem to be breaking any laws, there's no violation of digital millennium copyright act, it's not breaking copy protection on anything we sell. Is it bullying for Apple to say no no, we emphatically say that as a consumer you do not get to use any software on here that we do not approve, and you certainly can't sell software as a company that lets people use our hardware in a way that we did not envision in a way that we don't approve of. So I think it's a more interesting debate amongst people like us who talk about this, then amongst lawyers because when lawyers get involved it starts to have knock on effects that maybe you don't like five or ten years later. But like I was saying earlier, I think it's an interesting issue that things that we thought maybe were incredibly important in the 1990s we simply accept as the law of the land simply by virtue of the fact that we like the good things about the kingdom that we live in, it's okay if they occasionally catapult people over the moat that we were kind of fond of.
Mike: Yeah exactly, and you know the companies that are often subject to lawsuits and also anti-trust action by the government tend to bristle about it because they understand something that this case actually demonstrates, something that we refer to the Microsoft case in the 90s, that demonstrates it as well which is that innovation will always clobber you anyway. It's not like, it's very very difficult to get a lock in unless you're Facebook when you have every social, almost every social network, one third of the internet users in the world and it's very difficult for them to lose their monopoly if you wan to call it that. But things like browsers, music players, nobody I don't think could have predicted the degree to which streaming services would replace the behavior of buying songs and downloading them to the extent that it is happening now and to the extent that is almost certainly going to happen in the future. That's just the industry being innovative and moving on with new ways of doing things and people embracing new ways of doing things, invalidating the old sort of lock in model that this case is all about. It's also a big question about how you slice and dice and categorize things. Does Apple have a 100% monopoly in iOS market share or do they have a 50% monopoly in the United States market because the iPhone has something like that in terms of its market share, or do they have a significantly lower market share globally? How do you slice and dice these things, how do you determine what the market is and so on. So it's annoying when the lawyers get in there and start making these distinctions but it's really, I think as Apple will attest, these questions are almost always resolved not by anti-trust legislation, lawsuits, or the government but by the markets, the innovative competitors and the users themselves who choose different models for doing things. That's why these companies have to constantly reinvent themselves. Well, Apple is a company in flux and it's really interesting to see and it's one of my favorite topics to sort of look for signs of the new Apple. The new Tim Cook, the warmer, the fuzzier Apple. The less vindictive, the one without the thermonuclear war, that Apple. So I think we're seeing another sign of this, and correct me if I'm wrong Serenity Caldwell, in an Apple's red campaign which is where everything that they sold on Cyber Monday yesterday went, all the money raised went to help fight AIDS, and an interesting element of this is that they were pushing this so hard that they literally pushed a push notification out to people which caused people to freak out and think okay this must be a spearfishing attack or something else. What do you think about this? Is this red campaign a sign of an Apple that's more willing to do good things in the world? Or is this just the same old Apple, something that's existed before.
Serenity: Yeah I mean I really think that.. they've been doing the red campaign for quite a few years now and this campaign, this.. we're going to brand all of our apps red and encourage people to buy apps during World AIDS Day and donate our profits, that's a step above from what they're normally doing. The push notification issue's a little thorny because on one hand, there are a lot of us who are very upset when apps that we buy send push notifications that are apps, right? You should buy this in-app purchase, or everything is 30% off today. All of that kind of stuff, that's really annoying when you get it from everywhere else. So to say that Apple is immune from that, even when it's for a good cause is kind of a hard tact to take, but at the same time I don't think it was meant maliciously and I don't think it's the harbinger of things to come from Apple where they're like oh hey, let's use our push notification for ads all the time! I think there's probably one or two people on the app store team somewhere in that who are like oh you know what would be really cool? As part of our promotion of World AIDS Day let's make sure that all of our customers really know about it, and make sure that they understand this great cause that we're supporting. So it's like, it's.. I don't necessarily think that Apple should continue to use push notification for ad or charity related reasons, but I understand the vein from which they were coming, and I don't necessarily think the outrage, the subsequent outrage on the internet is necessarily justified. It's like yeah, they made a mistake, they made a mistake in concert for a good cause and now.. you know. They've definitely understood that people are maybe not so thrilled with this mistake that they've made and maybe they won't do it next year for World AIDS Day.
Mike: Andy, do you see other indications that Apple is getting both warmer and fuzzier?
Serenity: Yeah, I mean..
Andy: Oh, I'm sorry.
Serenity: Go ahead Andy.
Andy: I just wanted to pick up where Serenity was talking about, it's an interesting move.. I wasn't outraged by it, I just thought was okay that's interesting, I've never seen it, I think that it is important to note that isn't an ad so much as this is an extension of Apple's beliefs that we want to, and we want to take this step to promote something that we really really like, also I think it's also important to note that they didn't do it at like 2:20pm on a business day, it was during a long weekend where pretty much nobody is really using their phones for anything business related or really really important unless their car is on fire and they're trying to get 911 so maybe there are exceptions to that. But it's interesting that you could take this as a sign that Apple really does see their users as a community of people that have shared beliefs and shared values. Because think about how many iPhones there are out there. And everybody in this conversation has a certain number of people who follow them on twitter, follow them on Google+ or whatever. And you notice, as your community grew, you start to notice that things that you could say about “Wow isn't it great that the president of the United States was happening along and pulled that child out of the tree before the leopard got at him.” When you have 2,000 followers people are going to say yes isn't it great that that kids life got saved, when you have 2 million followers; you know what, let's find out how that kid got into that tree to begin with. You know, I don't subscribe to you for political propaganda! And so it's interesting when Apple chooses to say we're going to not just simply promote the idea of charity or unified fund, we're going to promote a specific charity, we're going to push that out to all of our users so I do think that is is a sign that somewhere inside Apple there are people that still think that everybody who has bought an Apple device did it because they have a sort of shared values thing with the company and with all other Apple users.
Mike: Yeah that's a great point and we are actually joined by another third panelist, with us right now is Allison Sheridan.
Allison Sheridan: Hey Mike, how you doing?
Mike: I'm doing fantastic, it's very nice to meet you. I have also never been on a podcast or a netcast with you and so I'm very glad to have you on, thank you so much for coming at the last minute.
Allison: Why hasn't that happened before? That's a big mistake.
Mike: You're with the Nosillacast Mac Podcast. Can you tell us about that podcast?
Allison: Yeah it's, my tagline “A technology geek podcast with an ever so slight Macintosh bias” in other words like a giant Mac bias but I cover a lot of other tech stuff, in fact this Sunday is my 500th show.
Mike: Wow, that is fantastic. Well congratulations and welcome to you, and I'm so glad you're here to join us, now we have a true quorum here on MacBreak Weekly.
Allison: We can call it a panel.
Mike: Yeah exactly. So I want to lunge at this next story because it's really interesting. I've always been fascinated by Apple's eBooks initiative, the litigation that they're dealing with and Eddy Cue actually had an interview with Fortune this week. What he talked about, the need for Apple to fight for the truth, he says, and he said that Tim feels exactly the way he does, but they have to fight for the truth, fight for their principles because it's the right thing to do. I think that price fixing is not normally viewed as fighting for the truth, but I think they do have a point, and I think the larger point of course is that Amazon is the dominant eBook player, they have a lock on the market, they do all kinds of things that smell and taste anti-competitive which is that they sometimes sell eBooks at below the price that they paid for them and they tend to be very very dominant. And I think Apple's trying to figure out a way where publishers and the company that delivers them, i.e., Apple, gets paid a reasonable amount for books. Do you think that Eddy Cue's sort of missionary zeal is well placed here and that it will help Apple in any way deal with this litigation that they're facing?
Andy: I'm sorry, were directing me, or..?
Mike: I'm sorry, go ahead Andy. I'm going to go around the horn on this but let's start with you Andy, go ahead.
Andy: Sorry, didn't mean to leap in. I think it really does point to how Apple is like one of the few companies that can take things personally, like it's not when Google revised Android in response to the iPhone, it wasn't a case of one company creating a product designed to be more competitive with a successful other product, it was Google has screwed us over. We trusted Google, and this is what Google.. Google has made a powerful enemy today. And when you look at this anti-trust thing, it seems to be mostly based not on.. I think that when Eddy Cue made that statement, I think he was talking more about the judge who heard this case concluded that Apple had colluded with publishers to fix prices, when in reality they were just getting the iBook Store off the ground. One interesting new quote from all this is it's not as though the iPad and the iBook store were packaged together from the very beginning as hey, if we do a tablet doesn't it make sense for us to start selling books in the iTunes store? No, it was Eddy Cue who said who puts together all these deals for content, who basically came to Steve Jobs when the iPad was in development and said hey, here's an opportunity here. And one quote from the article is that Steve said “Well we're not going to delay the iPad for this, but see what you can put together.” Which makes it seem like this is just let's see what we can do, just in time to get this timed with the release of the iPad, and so I think that what Eddy is saying here, I could be wrong, is that he's saying that no look, you went after these publishers because there was a good documented trail of them colluding together to try to provide a united front against Amazon. You're throwing us in with them when actually they did all that before we even got seriously interested in the eBook business. And so we want to defend the truth that we did not join a big cabal to try to fix prices. Whether or not that's actually true, whatever they did on their own was price fixing or not, that might be something that's going to be discussed in a week or two when this case is reheard. But it is, I do think that's so typically Apple and I think in a positive way that they do feel as though they are one living organism with a heart and a brain and the ability to get offended and hurt. And when they get hurt, they try to say hey man, what was that? What was that? Why do you cut me, do I not bleed? Well no I don't because I'm a corporation but still, metaphorically.
Serenity: Corporations are people Andy, at least that's what the United States wants us to think.
Mike: Right, exactly.
Allison: You know Andy, part of what you said there at the very end where you said whether or not that ends up being true, isn't it probably true that anybody going into a lawsuit like this or almost any kind of court battle believes that what they know is the truth? It almost seem obvious that he say we're defending the truth. Oh no, the other guys they think they're lying and they think they're defending lies? That's probably what nobody thinks, right?
Andy: Well I don't know, it's.. sometimes it's like you get pulled over, you know you were speeding okay, there's no way that I was doing 65 straight away late at night with no other cars, there's no way I was doing 65. But you know that the game's over if I say yes officer I was definitely speeding, I wasn't even paying attention to the speedometer but the trees behind me were complete brownie in motion, a complete Doppler blur into the red there, so whatever you say that I've sped at, that's the ticket that you're going to have to write for me. You're going to say no officer, I don't know why you pulled me over. Even if they said there's a lot of leeway, we might have done something that fits the colloquial version of price fixing meaning yes we talked to these people and then we encouraged those people to talk to those people and then we all agreed to do this versus something that fits the legal definition of price fixing. Like.. I did not have relations with that woman. Nope, well when the truth comes out how do you define relations? There you go, so I didn't lie, I simply said something I can defend.
Mike: Depends on what the definition of is, is. But Serenity you had a comment on that?
Serenity: I was going to say it's the Obi-wan Kenobi philosophy. It's like what I told you was true from a certain point of view. You have to believe that you're.. if you're defending a case you have to, you have to have a narrative that you strongly believe in because it's very..
Andy: The Costanza defense. Now remember Jerry, it's not a lie if you believe it. It's the truth.
Serenity: Yup, no exactly.
Mike: Love a Seinfeld reference. Just to zero in on exactly what Apple is saying, and to a certain extent almost all aspects of this whole scenario on Apple's part is very acceptable. So you know, the first aspect of it is that Amazon is very dominant and there has to be some way for other players to compete with Amazon when Amazon is bringing prices down to a point where nobody's making any money. That's acceptable, we can all accept that. So Apple comes forward saying hey we'll just have our regular agency model. The same one we have for apps and everything else, essentially you, the publisher can choose any price you like and then you give us our massive cut. And then we make money, you make money, you get to determine the price, not us. Amazon determines the price of Amazon eBooks, and then Apple is saying we're going to provide an alternative to that model. I think everybody can accept that is a perfectly above board thing to do. And then the price fixing part is when they said but, once you've selected a price, you can't sell that same eBook elsewhere i.e. amazon.com for a lower price than the one that's available through Apple's.. and so that's the price fixing part. And..
Andy: That's where the definition of is is because again, according to the Forbes article Cue's statement was look, that was like a draft version of something that we were doing that we quickly swapped away from that to something else that.. because we felt as though that language whether it was legal or not didn't achieve what we wanted to achieve. So a lot of it really is here's what the time line is, they also seem to.. the prosecutors also seem to again tinge on things that Steve Jobs tended to say like shortly after the iPad announcement again quoting from the Forbes article that as Steve was being asked I think it was by Walt Mossberg that.. gee but Steve the iBook store is charging $15 for the same book that Amazon is charging $10 for, who's going to be buying this book for $5 more and Steve said soon all the prices will be the same. I've realized that he is a tenor not a baritone but there's the same ominous sort of.. it also sounds bad.
Allison: Andy, I'm not a lawyer and neither are you so I'll just ask you directly, do you know whether they're allowed to bring up anything about what's going on with the Hechett case and all that with I guess it's not a case but with Amazon, I mean that sort of seems really interesting in this context but probably has nothing to do with what happened in the past?
Andy: I don't know, I mean we're both non-lawyers which means that we can go hog wild in speculation.
Allison: Just make stuff up!
Andy: I don't think that they would be able to say well here's something that happened three years later with parties that had nothing to do with Apple or the other publishers.
Allison: Like quick look over there! They're being bad!
Andy: Hey, we just pushed out an ad that helps out AIDS patients, come on could we do anything bad? Look how thin the new iPad is, judge!
Mike: They should give us all sorts of credit in court. So just to review the Hechette case, essentially what happened there was Amazon was accused of bullying tactics essentially. They negotiate with publishers to get, to figure out what the price is that Amazon pays for the books that they are then going to sell. This is not the price that.. they weren't negotiating the price that Amazon is going to sell Hechette books at, that's none of Hechette's business as far as Amazon is concerned, it's the price that Amazon is going to pay and of course they have these negotiations all the time, they have to in order to establish a contract for providing the eBooks and so on and Amazon wanted apparently an unacceptably low price, there was protracted negotiations and Amazon wanted to squeeze, this is the critical version of Amazon, I'll give you the Amazon version in a minute. But the critical version is that Amazon tried to squeeze Hechette by starting to stop making certain titles available on Amazon.com, you couldn't preorder upcoming books from Hechette, they were starting to squeeze literally their bottom line, their income that was coming through Amazon to Hechette and it was an effective tactic, people cried foul, a bunch of authors wrote a nasty gram to the Amazon board of directors and this kind of thing feels anti-competitive, now Amazon's point of view was that hey we weren't sure that we were going to actually be able to ink a deal with Hechette so why would we have preorders for books that are in an uncertain state. They had language like that and they also said ultimately we're all about embracing literacy. Literacy is enhanced when books are very cheap and we are there for the reader and the consumer, driving down the prices of eBooks so that everybody can afford to read and have the gift of literacy et cetera. But Amazon does many many things that feel anti-competitive and sort of, using its monopoly.. close to monopoly, whatever you want to call their dominance in the eBook publishing market and also their dominance in the online print book market to actually essentially turn the screws on the publishing companies, that feels anti-competitive but it isn't really. It's not against the law. Their selling books at below cost feels anti-competitive but it's only illegal if you do it internationally. If there's nothing against the law about it internally you can lose all the money you want.
Allison: That starts me and making me wonder I was thinking about it when I got something from Amazon today and I was thinking I only asked for it yesterday and it came instantly and I just have this vision that one day after Amazon has dominated absolutely everything then they're going to go okay, now we're going to actually start charging what it really costs. And also just everything goes up 20% because it's just too good to be true right now.
Mike: There were some reports that in fact that has happened in certain academic markets where they were able to turn the screws to a certain extent and establish a monopoly on that through low price, undercutting everybody so nobody else can make money, the prices then went way up. That's a report that was controversial, that's not an absolute statement on what their intentions are in all markets, but there was a report along those lines. And of course the notorious diapers.com situation where they actually had algorithms that monitored diapers.com prices, they wanted to buy diapers.com and they were in the .. competing with them for diapers and so they had this algorithm that would determine whatever the prices were on diapers.com and undercut it automatically and instantly. The valuation diapers.com plummeted and Amazon bought them at a very favorable cost because they just didn't have a business anymore because of Amazon. And that's another example of what feels like not entirely fair business practices on the part of Amazon, but again nothing illegal. And they're benefiting, the cause of keeping babies from having full diapers by driving down the price. Some would say that they are in the same condition as those very diapers but..
Serenity: We just want new mothers, yeah.
Andy: And I'm sure that's how they explain it to stockholders. Saying you know, it's going to cost us money to do this, but think of the children.
Serenity: At the end of the day it really comes down to if there's money being removed from your pockets, if you're being charged only $5 for something that should cost $10, where is that.. like that other $5 didn't just magically disappear. It's not invisible money that you never had to pay in the first place, this is what the book actually costs or the diaper actually costs, that money is being taken away from either the bottom line of a company or the bottom line of the writer who made the book, or from the workers who are packaging your 30 pack of diapers, Amazon may be dramatically undercutting a lot of prices to basically become dominant in this market and they may be engaging in semi-shady but pseudo legal tactics to take over companies, but at the end of the day, where is this missing money being taken from? You know? It's like we've all heard stories of the crazy workers and I've heard stories from like from small publishers and small publishing companies and even bigger publishing companies who are like yeah you know, eBooks should cost marginally less than a paper book because of printing costs and all of that, but when you look down to it printing costs really aren't that much and the majority of the money that you're paying for the book whether it's printed or eBook is to help offset the promotion and the writer's cost and everything else and the more money you take away from that, the less we're able to pay writers which means that writers may not be able to write as many books in a year which then.. it trickles through the entire system.
Mike: Yes and Eddy Cue wants to fix it. Thank you Eddy Cue for saving us.
Mike: And again I think like so many of these things there will be an industry solution to all of this and you know there is the case to be made that Amazon is in fact making it super easy for authors to get books into the hands of readers at low cost and that is theoretically a very good thing. In just a second we're going to come back and talk about some really interesting Apple patents, including some crazy Apple patents, we're going to find out what they mean when they're going to come to an iPhone near you, probably never. But first I want to tell you about SquareSpace 7. I've been using SquareSpace for several years and I love it, it's so easy to use. And it's fantastic for me because I'm not the kind of person that's going to go in there and do programming and have to host my site and so on. SquareSpace will do the hosting, they let you build programming free sites now, of course if you're a programmer, if you're a developer you can go in there and truly customize, get access to all the code, use their amazing developer tools including the tools that they use to build the site themselves, that developer platform is now out of beta so you can use that, but they also have this fantastic easier to use system and of course SquareSpace 7 is fantastically easy to use, I used to think SquareSpace was like incredibly easy to use, SquareSpace 7 makes it so much easier because for starters you don't have to toggle between the preview mode and the site manager. In other words you don't have to go back and forth saying okay I made some changes, okay what does it look like. Let me go find out what that looks like. No, you can see what it looks like right there in the editing space which is really a seamless fantastic experience. You want pictures? You don't want to just go and grab pictures online somewhere, you want to actually have sites that you have permission to use, but you don't want to spend a fortune. And you want to use high quality stock photography, so SquareSpace now allows you to directly from inside the site pick, find and plug in images from Getty, the stock photography site that just is super super excellent. It costs just $10 and it is super simple to do and use, and those again are super high quality images. They have fantastic templates. Your website on SquareSpace will always look incredible because the designers are SquareSpace's amazing designers. It starts with a template and if you decide you want to switch to another template later you can just swap out that template and all the stuff that you've done, all the content, the pictures, all the.. everything in your site will remain the same, it will just get a shiny new template. And this is really really a wonderful thing to do. If you ever need help of course they have tech support 24/7, they don't send you off to figure it out on your own in some knowledge base somewhere. A human being who knows what they're talking about, who's based in their New York City offices will answer your question directly. I've used their tech support, I've only had to use it once in truth, I had a question, it was answered immediately, they really knew what they were talking about. It was really refreshing to use their tech support, and I really really appreciate that. SquareSpace sounds super expensive because of the quality, the designs, it sounds expensive because of the ease of use that they give you and it sounds expensive because their hosting is so amazing. You can't bring down a SquareSpace site, even Leo couldn't bring it down by having the TWiT army on TWiT on the big Sunday show he drove everybody, he's done it many times to SquareSpace sites, nobody can bring these things down because they throw all the processing power that is needed behind these sites when they are stressed so it's just a fantastic thing. But it's not expensive, just $8 a month. It starts at just $8 a month and that includes a free domain name if you sign up for a year. You can start a free two week trial with no credit card required, start building your website. When you decide to sign up for SquareSpace, make sure you use the offer code MacBreak. That will get you 10% off and show your support for MacBreak Weekly, and to begin using SquareSpace 7 if you're already a user, a customer, just go to the settings tab and you can just activate all the fun new stuff. It's not going to activate on its own, so you won't have everything change unless you want it to change, but believe me you want it to change. The new stuff is really great, so just go to the settings tab and activate these new features. And we thank SquareSpace for their support of MacBreak Weekly, SquareSpace; start here and go anywhere. Well esteemed panel, Apple's got some new patents including a wacky patent that will, is designed to make your iPhone act like a cat. So when you drop it, it flips around to land on its feet so to speak. It lands on the bumper instead of the screen. It uses the.. supposedly it uses the built in I guess it's an actuator for the haptics hardware that's inside iPhones, and it sort of turns itself around. Are they crazy? Will this, can anyone imagine this ever working?
Allison: I'm actually mechanical engineer..
Serenity: First of all I just want to highlight..
Mike: Go ahead Serenity.
Serenity: Oh yeah, I was just going to make a joke about how.. (connection cuts out) .. looks like the internals of a light saber, not a.. (cuts out) ..iPhone in mid-air and I thought that was amusing. But no I think it's a really interesting idea. I think that you know, potentially there might be internals in there that can detect falls and compensate accordingly, in this small of a package though, I'm not quite sure. You want to chime in a little bit more with your electrical engineering background?
Allison: Not electrical, mechanical actually. Yeah that's exactly what I was going to say was I think..
Serenity: Mechanical, mechanical I'm sorry.
Allison: I think with a certain length of time I could probably figure out how to do this with the actuator that Mike talked about and you know, all kinds of different components but making that in the thickness of an iPhone, I could probably do it in about 4 or 5 inch thick piece of material so that's pretty cool but I don't know, maybe they're going to have nanotechnology in there by the time that they get around to actually making something like this.
Andy: Well so we've got a phone that in the future that's going to be made out of sapphire, the metal parts are going to be liquid metal, according to previous patents if we're continuing to speculate. But also I think I have an interesting idea though, what if someone were to.. this would be a crazy Kickstarter of course, but to make a protective case that not only has an extended battery but also has like higher powered actuators that could do really cool things like for instance, give you a really good chance at landing if you drop a phone, landing it in a safe way but also things like you could turn it into a mini Roomba, where if you drop it on the floor, you don't know where your phone is, it won't just find your phone but say (whistles) here phone, here phone! (makes robot noises) And get closer and closer.
Allison: Well they've got that camera app that lets you stand it on end right? That spins around and does..
Serenity: Rotates 360 degrees yeah.
Andy: And it's like magical too, when I saw it I would have expected just like vibrate, just like sort of turning around randomly like one of those old football players, one of those old tabletop football games but no it's like turn 10 degrees, take a picture. Turn ten degrees.. it's like, that's spooky man. I want to see phones that have interesting weird features like that. I would love if that were something that Apple were to demonstrate at the key note someday.
Allison: I've got it, I've got it. What was that game when we were little kids that was like, it wasn't Rock Em' Sock Em' Robots but it was around that time area where the little robots would kind of go like this and bash together?
Andy: Yeah yeah, it was like.. that was before my time too, but it was like some sort of vibrating metal plate and so football players just sort of (makes buzzing noises) wherever they stopped.
Allison: Yeah it was football, that's right. Now we can have our iPhones doing it.
Mike: I have the feeling that..
Andy: I always thought that maybe there was an opportunity for a game developer. Because like maybe the time for this is past because it would have worked better with like actual pocket pages that have like really powerful buzzers, but what if you had like a bar top football game where everybody puts their own personal pagers on the table and by sending text messages, by paging yourself you could basically have the pass plays run and it would cost you like $1 per play, but AT&T would be very happy about it, and if you managed to get the peanut on top of your Motorola pager to the edge of the table before anybody else, there you go you win a free beer.
Mike: Andy you've really got to come to silicon valley and launch a company. You've got such amazing ideas.
Andy: Why is my genius wasted on the East coast, good heavens! It's the loss to society I worry about, not any monetary gain that I might be missing out on.
Serenity: Of course not Andy, of course not.
Mike: So I've always believed that Apple is going to get into haptics and big time. Ever since a few years ago I saw a demo, I experienced a demo by Immersion. Immersion is a company that makes haptics technology, I think it's the leading company that does haptics and in this demo they had a tablet, it was at the time an ordinary tablet in terms of thickness and size and so on, and they had a pinball game on it, and as the ball rolled around you just really felt the vibration of the ball rolling and the little bumpers dinging and clanging and stuff like that and you felt everything, it was just really shocking how much could be conveyed, how much sort of content and how believable it was, this pinball game because of the haptics interface and I thought well this is just a matter of time before this is going to happen, and now we're starting to see some really interesting things happening in haptics in the Apple Watch, which they're calling it the taptics engine but essentially according to, and maybe Andy you experienced this yourself, there's an interface where if you tap on the watch then you can, it feels like somebody is tapping on your wrist, and it doesn't feel like something buzzing buzzing buzzing, it feels like somebody's tapping on your wrist! I mean it feels almost directional, it feels very natural and that's in the smart watch so you've got to believe that the iPhone of the future, the iPhone 8 or something is going to have some pretty sophisticated haptics that may have multiple haptics actuators in different parts of the phone and that sort of.. and this is wildly speculative but that sort of thing could be enough to really turn a phone around or do other amazing magical things but it certainly would be great for gaming and in fact turn an iPhone into something more like an Xbox controller.
Andy: Yeah. Apple is in a difficult situation in that they're the only makers of iPhones and they can really only make two or three models so if they decide to do something like as bizarre and weird and ultimately destined to fail like the Firephone, that would be one third of all the iPhones they manufacture would fail. But haptics are great, it's something that every time I test out like an Android phone I really enjoy because almost every Android phone uses haptics in the keyboard and you might want to turn it on or turn it off or dial it in when you get your new phone, but believe me if you're in a noisy environment and you're not really sure if you're making “contact” with a certain button or a certain key press you're trying to make the fact that you've got a reassurance that yes I do recognize that you did press this button, I'm telling you that you can now lift your finger off of this, it's just a nice little bit of reassurance. And things like when you boot up and it reassures you, the (makes buzzing noise) okay I'm alive right now, everything worked out fine. It's just another way to have this hardware communicate with the user and once you get above like baby like cries and growls and shrieks and you elevate the haptics to communication, boy what an opportunity that is, and yeah the Apple Watch I was only like everybody else, I was only experiencing like a canned demo that was programmed to go through whatever motions it was programmed to go through, it didn't feel like it was amazingly subtle, like it was communicating anything other than it's buzzing and it's buzzing in a different way now, but even that, just the ability to do nothing like.. since we're talking about watches and haptics, I installed a new thing on my Moto 360 just 2 days ago that I forgot about until today about an hour ago when I went.. I was cleaning upstairs and went downstairs to make lunch and suddenly like my watch buzzes and I'm like gee why is my watch buzzing and it warns me that hey did you leave your phone behind somewhere because I just lost contact with your phone? And that's the purpose of this thing, so if you leave your phone like in a bar or in a sofa cushion or whatever, as soon as it loses contact, so as soon as you're about 10 or 15 feet away from it it will say hey by the way, don't know if there's something going on here but maybe you want to know about that. It's such a cool thing to put particularly on a watch that's designed to alert you to something you need to know about right away as opposed to okay, this buzzing in my pocket means that I might have gotten a Gmail or an email from any one of 400 different people and I'm not going to even bother with it.
Mike: Yeah absolutely and speaking of the Apple Watch there's been some new reports coming out that have been kind of shocking some people because I think a lot of people are kind of on the fence about whether the Apple Watch is going to have any sort of market success at all and now there are different reports, one of them is from UBS's Steve Milanovich who says that 1 out of 10 iPhone owners are very likely to buy an Apple Watch when it comes out I think within the first year or something and that adds up to millions, dozens of millions of Apple Watches being sold in the first year. Serenity, let's start with you, do you buy this? Do you think just based on your gut feeling and based on what you know about the Apple fan base, do you think that people are going to be gobbling up these expensive and probably unnecessary peripherals.
Serenity: Yeah, and I don't even necessarily know if they're unnecessary. Perhaps in that we've, I mean now that the watch kit is available for developers we have some idea of what the first 6 to 8 months of the watch is going to look like, and for people who want more subtle notifications for people who want basically a way to connect with their phone without necessarily having to have it in front of their face at all times, the Apple Watch actually seems like a really useful piece of technology and the possibilities for it, including the haptics engine and everything else as we have discussed are actually boundless. Especially, watch kit you know is fairly limited in terms of what developers will be able to do, it basically acts as an extension for your current iPhone apps but once full-fledged watch apps are able to be developed which you know we're hearing murmurs of that later in 2015 maybe WWDC era, I really do think that there's a market for the Apple Watch and I'm not at all surprised. I mean it's not, the survey does not say one in ten owners very likely to buy Apple Watch edition. Like a specialty $5,000 Apple Watch. These are people, the majority of these people are probably looking at the $349 base model, probably the Apple Sport, right? And for a lot of people I think the Apple Sport will be more than enough for peoples’ needs and I don't know, I just feel very positive about the Apple Watch. I got a chance to play with it in a hands on demo area when they premiered it back a few months ago and even with the completely canned demonstration, it's a very beautiful piece of technology. It's the first watch base, watch style mobile computing that I've ever considered getting. And I've played with the Pebble and I've played with the Moto and I've played with a bunch of these and none of them actually sort of sparked for me the way the Apple Watch has.
Mike: Yeah Allison, you know I remember when the iPhone first was announced and then shipped in 2007, January and then summer I think respectively and at the time I was a naysayer. And it's hilarious now, my main beef against the iPhone was that it was too big, because I had a Blackberry Pearl, and it was like about the size of a box of Chiclets, it was tiny and I thought that you know, yeah it's a big screen and stuff but who cares, it's boring. And then some time after that, what was that a year later or less than a year later they came out with the app store and all the apps and I started seeing what the apps could do and I think like millions of people I started sort of my whole view of what the iPhone was was completely transformed because of the apps. And I think that's what Serenity is saying here, that once the developers get their hands on the kit that came out recently and build some apps and you see what is actually, what this thing is actually going to be used for, it's going to really spark people to get excited about it, talk about it. Share the information, it will be viral. Do you buy that argument or do you think it's going to land with a thud?
Allison: Well you actually said almost exactly what I was thinking. When they talk about what the Apple Watch is, I think that we aren't going to know what it is until the developers tell us what it is. Now unfortunately they're going along the same path where they're saying that these first apps that come out have to just be tied to an iPhone app, and I understand the reasons behind that but I don't think we're going to really know what it is until the apps are completely opened up. I mean, like you said with the phone we thought it was a phone. But when's the last time you made a phone call with it, you know? Almost everything we do with our iPhones and especially with the iPad, and the iPad is a perfect example of an unnecessary thing right? Nobody needed it. We didn't need it, I didn't need it, why was I going to need that? Now I can't live without it. But it was the developers not necessarily Apple that showed me why I needed it and taught me what it was supposed to do so I'm not maybe quite as malicious as Serenity is on it, I feel pretty good though that when the developers show us what it can be, that's when we're going to go “Ohhhh. It's not a watch.”
Andy: Yeah, I definitely agree with that. I think another component is going to be, I think it will be a lot like the launch of the iPhone where we forget that it sold maybe 10 million in its first.. it really didn't start becoming a phenomenon until about a year after it, and I think that's not just because the app store came about, and it was refined and they were able to improve some of the original limitations, but also because there were now about 5 million people with iPhones that could.. everybody knew someone or knew someone who knew someone who had an iPhone who could explain gee why would I want a phone that doesn't have any buttons on it and I think that smart watches are pretty much the same thing. I wind up inadvertently evangelizing wearables wherever I go because when someone sees a blank watch and suddenly it lights up and here's a picture of a squirrel with the time on it, they say is that one of those smart watches, how do you like it? And then I will say well I love it a lot and here's why I use it, and here's what I thought it was going to be that wasn't going to work but boy does it work great and every time I travel I do this and hey look what it has told me right now and then it leaves them thinking that gee, it's a difficult thing to understand in the abstract, especially given that there has never been a product like this before, but once you wound up working with somebody who has one it goes from a cursory 5 or 10 minute demo to a month later, casually asking hey do you still like that, to 4 months or a year later, you're really now about 10 cents away from actually wanting to actually buy it and now okay, Steve, you're going to have to tell me, what don't you like about it, do you ever have any regrets, I think it really is wearing people down over the first year, and part of that is going to be, as Allison said once developers are able to populate it and really emphatically show you what it does besides encouraging you to move around and how it will enhance your life.
Mike: Yeah and I think one of the unanswered questions is with the pricing. You see reports that the gold version, edition version is going to 4, 5 6 thousand dollars, somewhere in there and that's a lot of money.
Andy: Even 350 is kind of a lot, I'm worried about that.
Mike: Yes, yeah exactly. That's where it starts and that's not even with sapphire, that's with aluminum and so on. But at the very high end the gold edition, and the watch nerd would chime in and say oh that's nothing, people pay a lot more than that for gold watches, they pay $10,000, $20,000 for a gold watch. Yes, but the problem is that they buy a watch at those prices because they're going to hand it down to their great grand kids on their deathbed, take my watch. That kind of thing, whereas the Apple Watch is going to be obsolete in a year and a half.
Andy: Your father smuggled this out of Vietnam.
Serenity: So we were talking about, over at iMore we were talking about ways for this not to be so much of a problem, which is to say, like, if you're paying $5000 for an Apple Watch, how might the majority of those components stay in your hands, especially if you're going to do things like engraving for instance, on a $10,000, $5,000 watch. And one of the major thoughts was something where the internal chip is actually replaceable, where.. you know, the screen is going to be Retina quality for the 42 and 38 I want to say milometer screens of the watches. So you know, the screen's maybe not going to need to get so much better for a couple of years yet unless you really want to cram a 4k display into a 300 pixel device.
Andy: Lawrence of Arabia on your wrist.
Serenity: Exactly right? Oh man, those sand dunes look amazing. No I mean, to be perfectly honest, if Apple figures out a way to just basically like oh yeah we just take it to an Apple store, we take off the back panel and for $100 we'll replace your A8X mobile chip with A10 and then all of the sudden you have all the new fancy things, and you still have the majority of your $5,000 beautiful watch chain and beautiful watch body and personally engraved message about your family crest or something like that. Which is, you know, keeping in line with traditional watch making as well, when you think about how watches are repaired, it is not just throw away the entire thing and get a new watch. If you have a really nice watch you go to a watch repair shop, they take it apart and put in little batteries and tweak with it. So, I don't know, I feel like that is a potential watch.
Allison: That sound really fun Serenity, but do you think that sounds like Apple to do that; to not encourage us to buy another one.
Serenity: I think the problem is Apple has never really sold a ten thousand dollar machine, unless you count a supped up Mac Pro.
Allison: Twenty-fifth anniversary.
Serenity: Exactly, it’s a very different market they are getting into. They have acknowledged they know they are getting into a different market by the way they have been courting the fashion industry and by taking on fashion industry advisors. I don't know if that is actually how it would work, but I feel like it may be a good way…
Mike: Either she is having something that I would like to have or Skype is freaking out again. Sorry about that Serenity, I think Skype is not your friend today.
Allison: I think a point she made, I just got what she was saying, was maybe the addition you could do that but the sport you wouldn’t be able to swap it out. You wouldn't be able to swap out the components. Now I see where you're going with it. Yeah, that kind of makes sense.
Mike: Yeah, absolutely. Well in just a second we are going to come back and talk about an area, two areas actually where Apple is getting its butt handed to them by Google. Maybe, we will talk about it and figure out what is going on exactly. But, first I want to tell you about Nature Box, one of our sponsors today. Nature Box is a fantastic product for health and for better living because they are delicious snacks. We all like to snack, and I think one of the reasons we like to snack is that when we are relaxing, when we are at home just watching TV, or around the house doing whatever. We don't really feel like going through the big chore of making a healthy meal and all that stuff. We just grab something that is maybe a little sweet a little salty or whatever that is delicious and just eat it between meals. We all like to do it, and we are all going to do it let's face it. And often times most snacks are just not good for you. They have trans fats, way too much salt, way too much sugar, they have unhealthy ingredients, and nothing good for you. That is why Nature Box is so fantastic because, it's super, super easy for you to go ahead and do what you're going to do anyway except you have healthy food. Here is an example: Lone Star snack mix, these are delicious with a flavor the size of Texas. These are really amazing, and one of the fun things about Nature Box by the way before I get into what's innovative about this company, is the fact that their flavors are always so shocking. They have blueberry nam, nams all kinds of really innovative flavors, sometimes when you hear it you go wait I've never heard that flavor combination ever. How could that possibly be good? Then you try it and it's absolutely fantastic. Here is the innovative part about Nature Box. Basically what you can do is get a complimentary trial box. You just pay two dollars for shipping and they will send you a trial box to your house or to your place of work, if you want to have it come to work. And you just try the various things that they send you, and then you go to the website if you decide to sign up and subscribe. It is a subscription snack service essentially, you can go in there and say you know what I really like these two and I didn't like this one. They will send you those two again in the future and they will send you another one to surprise you in the future. They have so many different flavors, different styles, and so on. They have apple pie oak clusters, sea salt and cracked pepper pumpkin seeds, all kinds of things. Many of these are dried fruits or nuts. Many of them are granola type things, just so many different types of snacks that you can get and they are fantastic. They have zero artificial flavors, zero artificial colors, no artificial sweeteners, zero grams of trans fats, no high fructose corn syrup, and you can even find snacks with no added sugar. And without gluten, gluten free snacks if you like. You can choose your dietary preferences whether you’re a vegan or whatever it is. You just go into the website, it is a modern service, you can go in there and optimize and customize exactly what you want to get and then they send you stuff. Over time I guarantee you, as we have right here in TWiT in the break room, you will discover your favorites and you’re really going to be thrilled because they have snacks that you have never ever even heard of. So I passed some of these out to the studio audience here. What do you think of Nature Box?
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Mike: Their good, yeah, very good. So the reviews are coming in thumbs up all the way around.
Allison: I'm hungry here too Mike.
Mike: What's that?
Allison: I'm hungry over here. I would really like some of that Nature Box.
Mike: We'll fax you some right now, some of the flatter snacks. Start your free trial today. Start your trial today and get your complimentary sample box at naturebox.com/twit. Stay full, stay strong, start snacking smarter. Go to naturebox.com/twit and we thank Nature Box for their support of MacBreak Weekly and I thank Nature Box for your delicious snacks. I eat them all the time, and I really appreciate the fact that they are healthy. Well you know Apple has a former hobby and now they are really serious about Apple TV and this is an area like the iPad area where Google is kind of encroaching on their territory with lower cost alternatives that are in many cases found to be maybe superior by a lot of consumers. So let's start with Apple TV, the market researcher of parks associates is reporting that Apple is losing ground Chromecast, Roku, in the first three quarters of 2013. Chromecast of course is a very cheap, what is it like thirty five dollars or something like that? This little dongle that plugs into your TV and just lets you stream stuff from your device, very easy to use, very friendly. It’s a great stocking stuffer as I think Leo said on TWiT over the weekend. It’s a very compelling offer; where as the Apple TV is feeling kind of old and dusted these days. They are really not updating it like people expected them to. So let's talk about this, Andy Ihnatko. Is this an important business or isn't it for Apple? What are they going to do to prevent everybody else from the Googles, to the Rokus, to the Amazons from steeling this out from under them?
Andy: I really have to conclude that Apple is planning not an improvement on Apple TV, but a reinvention of it. Where they don’t just simple go well we put in a better processor, and hey look at the new graffle use interface, look at the new channels we have. I have to believe that there is going to be a K note level event in which they talk about the new role that Apple TV is there to fulfill inside the house. Maybe even going beyond just simple streaming entertainment, but also by being a fixed location with the ability to know now the user of this iPhone is now in the living room and therefore I’m going to allow this person not to have to even use touch id at all to open up and unlock their phone. Because I’m going to trust the fact that this person or this phone is in front of this Apple TV. I'm going to let people send files to each other based on proximity and that sort of stuff and that is just one example of stuff. And the reason I have so much faith is because Apple has let this thing lie fallow for so many quarters and at this point there is no question about it, it is the worst major streaming media box you can buy. I mean it is barely okay. I have on my TV over there in the living room, no joke, I got the Fire TV, a Chromecast, I have a Roku 3, and I have an Apple TV. The times when I switch it over to the HDMI port to use the Apple TV, it is actively painful. The user interface is really so twenty-five inch Sony Trinitron tube TV grade. After days and days of getting so much of my entertainment through Roku, I switch over to Apple TV and say what is that thing. I don’t recognize it. Oh, that’s a wait curser. In three days of using the Roku, I've never had it say hey you have to wait because I have to load stuff in. The fact that there are so many open apps for the Roku, I've got the Plex Media Server that connects to anything inside my house, I have a media player that if I just simply take any USB stick and put it right there into the Roku and it will play any file, any picture, any movie that is on there. There is just no reason for me to recommend the Apple TV to anybody and because Apple is usually very, very smart about when they give up on something they don’t just simply let is sort of pitter out. They say okay this is canceled we don’t have any legal reason to do this; we don’t have any profit reason to do this. Okay maybe the iPods are kind of contrary to what I’m talking about but there is so much opportunity, given how much business they do in streaming media, given how much business they want to do in controlling things inside your home. It is such a big opportunity for Apple TV I cannot but believe that sometime in 2015 there is going to be a huge event in which everybody is suddenly going to want to have an Apple TV again because God knows no one wants one right now.
Mike: But Andy it has that amazing game where you have to type words by moving the curser. I love a challenge.
Andy: My favorite is the hide and seeks game. Where, okay tiny little remote control that is only this thick, where are you. 3, 2, 1 I’m coming. Maybe it worked for the Apple watches; I noticed that you need one thousand more steps to reach ten thousand so you're going to have to find one out of the three.
Mike: Its part of the health kit
Andy: it's no fun, it's no fun.
Mike: Serenity, go ahead.
Serenity: I have to say that I agree with Andy 100%, especially since you're getting hints. The Apple TV has not been refreshed since January of 2013, so that’s almost two full years with nothing going on. Which says to me despite all of that, Tim Cook repeatedly goes we are still interested this; this is definitely more than a hobby. We have lots of interest in Apple TV and you're seeing that despite the fact that it hasn’t been updated in nearly two years, hardware style, the software improvements have actually been getting it to gain market share. Now granted, you do have the Chromecast and Fire TV coming in and impinging on that because they’re better deals at half the price. That makes sense; the only reason to buy an Apple TV right now is if you want iTunes content on your television and the air play support. Which again Chromecast and being able to send web pages and stuff like that it's almost as good. But the fact that Tim Cook constantly reiterates we are interested in this.
Mike: Two years is nothing, look how long we have been expecting the Apple watch, the watch formerly known as the iWatch. Every single announcement we are like this is going to be it and nothing, and when they finally announced it, it was a big initiative that obviously sucked in a ton of resources, a lot of thought, and money into it. It has got to be something like that happening on the Apple TV front. But Allison, I want to ask you about home automation. Do you think that the Apple TV or a TV box is the right place to have a hub for home automation, serving up home kit type stuff through Apple’s system or is that just not a good way to do it?
Allison: I don’t know that that is really a good way to do it because there is a lot of people who don’t have televisions these days, right? These kids today you know with their crazy internet stuff. So I don’t know that, that is the right place for that, but I did want to say that I think it would be a lot more logical to have that on a mobile device. You don’t want to have to go down stairs to the Apple TV to unlock the door, that kind of stuff doesn’t really make much sense to me. But I do want to say like Andy, I have one of everything my Fire TV stick comes December 18th. What I’m finding is that I use the Apple TV a lot, but I don’t like it. Just like Andy is saying, so many of those things drive me nuts. My single favorite thing, I would buy a Roku over an Apple TV for one single thing alone and that is the thirty second back and I've noticed that one of the things it does, and I don't know if it is all applications but I'm pretty sure I saw it in Netflix or it might have been Amazon Prime. When I did the thirty second back, it automatically turned on subtitles. Because, why do you back up? Because, you didn't hear what they said, not because you didn't see usually it's because of what you heard. And so I use the Roku all the time for Amazon and for Netflix; but I use iTunes to rent movies and I use Airplay all the time. Every time I go to use the Chromecast, I sit there for about a minute and a half going where is my Chromecast remote? Oh wait there isn't one.
Andy: It's my phone.
Allison: Every single time, I've never turned it on a grabbed my phone and go do what I need to do. I still think the Apple TV has a place, and it is amazing that it does have a place considering how awful it is in so many ways. I did run into an interesting problem where for about three months straight. Every time I went to play a movie, it would come up and say okay you can play it in seven hours, or nine hours, or six hours. It wouldn't be the kind of thing where it said that and immediately start to play, it would literally take hours. So I got in the habit of rent the movie and tell Apple to give me my money back, rent the movie tell Apple to give me my money back. Then I would flip over to Amazon on the Roku and rent it over there, and finally I got this crazy idea. I called up Apple, it is weird to actually think about asking for tech support, but I called them up and they told me this double secret remote control thing you can do to reset the Apple TV. Which is different than the reset that is on screen, it is different than a full factory reset, and it is different than unplugging it. I forget what it is; it's like hold down the down arrow and the home button at the same time for five seconds. And the woman said we don't know why this fixes it but it seems to fix it for almost everybody. Ever since then it has been perfect, I never get that weird waiting delay anymore.
Andy: I've had those same sort of bad experiences. I'm not averse to giving George Takei more money; because I think I should give George Takei as much money as I can afford to give him. I wound up having to rent his documentary twice. I made the rental on my laptop, figuring that I bet of course, as soon as I go into the Apple TV I'll simply be able to play it from there, but no dice. I am able to rent a second copy from the device itself. I'm like really? So finally yes, I did have eight dollars’ worth of desire to see this movie that night. So I did rent it again, and I knew I had a blood donation coming up so I could see the other copy. But it is like; it is such a non-Apple product in the way that it is a very ordinary product. You have the exact same expectations you have with anything you spend one hundred dollars for at Best Buy. Which is some parts of it are going to be fine, most of it is going to be okay, and lots of it are going to be well okay they didn't think about that at all. And, what an odd thing to think about anything with an Apple logo on it.
Allison: With a horrible remote, it is horrible, hate it.
Andy: There is actually a menu inside the settings so that you can actually teach it whatever remote you are using for your cable box. Before I found out about that, no joke, I actually had the little stick of gum remote taped to the back of my usual remote. It was like the men's room key at a gestation, it was the only way not to lose it.
Serenity: So Andy, my trick is always been just setting it up on my phone and completely getting rid of the tiny remote. Just being like nope I'm sorry, I'll put you
Allison: Until you have to enter the password to get onto the network and you have to go back to the remote, and of course it is long and complex and annoying as all get out.
Serenity: At that point you hide the remote so you know where it is. Okay you are going in the top drawer of my media center buddy and I'll find you if I ever need a reset. But otherwise you don't get lost in the couch cushions.
Andy: That might be the last final frontier for certain generations. Where I know I have a remote app on my phone, I also know I have the remote app for my cable box on all of my phones. But there is something about, one of the things that I love about the Roku is that you have this big thick remote with these big fat buttons because when I'm sitting on the sofa; my mind is not in operating a multi-touch interface application sort of mode. It is see where my thumb is, that is the button that starts the entertainment and pauses the entertainment.
Allison: This feels good.
Andy: And if I want to stop watching this entertainment and pick out another entertainment, I simply move my thumb up and like this and when I feel the button underneath, I press that. As opposed to now let's see okay this swipe, and there we go. I want to be able to do things by feel which is another reason why I think the Roku is so well thought out. It is a big TV watchers remote as opposed to a; we figured a different way of processing aluminium and bonding it to electronics. To make to lowest profile remote that’s ever been made. We think it’s the greatest remote you can buy today.
Allison: I know where your remote is Andy because my daughter lost her Apple TV remote. We suspected that maybe she got it stuck in her cross stitch bag and it fell out at my house. So I looked around I found I had two so I gave it back to her but then she found hers. So we are up one right now.
Andy: They are like socks.
Mike: Well I think we can all agree that the Apple TV is the least Appleesk product that Apple makes. Let's talk about the most Appleesk product that Apple makes which is the iPad, which is getting trounced in the education market by the Chromebook, by Google's Chromebook according IDC. IDC says that for the first time ever, Google has overtaken Apple in American schools. They say that Google shipped seven hundred and fifteen thousand Chromebooks to schools in the third quarter, while Apple shipped only seven hundred and two thousand iPads to schools. And Chromebooks now account for, as a whole, account for a quarter of the educational market over all. This sort of is in line with my own thinking about what is best for education. I happen to think the Chromebook is a fantastic device for the schools and the iPad not so much, in part because it is so expensive. What do you think about that Andy?
Andy: I agree completely. These things are dead simple, they are dead cheap. I recommend them all the time to lots and lots of people. Just over Thanksgiving, someone was asking me. Gee, I'm thinking about buying a notebook for this person and I have budget of x dollars. They had five hundred dollars to spend. What they thought was going be the best thing to get would be a cheap windows notebook. I gave them one or two ideas that are good at that price point. Think about two hundred dollars for an Acer Chormebook and then give them an iPad as well. They might even like that combination; might get more use out of it. If you're selling something that cost two hundred dollars and they are high quality things, they are not junk. The keyboards are, it's going to sound like I'm trying to be snide here but I absolutely tell you that the key board on a two hundred dollar Acer Chrome book is as good the keyboard on my Macbook pro that I bought just last year. Because the keyboard on a Macbook pro is not very good. They are so much cheaper, but also they remove the problem. Since they don't run really anything, they are really easy to administrate, it's hard for someone to get in trouble using one of those, and also they don't have the steelabiltiy of an iPad. You don't feel like you're putting kids' lives in danger by broadcasting to the entire world that there are three hundred children that are much smaller and can't run as fast you, that are carrying around a five hundred dollar thing in their back packs. If Apple made a better statement about how their software is going to be much, much better at what schools need than Chromebook. Maybe they would not be doing quite so poorly, but that is not the case. When was the last time they even talked about iBooks author about making even high school text books available on iPad. So I think that this is another thing where Apple is interested but maybe they didn't see that quick vein of gold, and they did see the numbers coming in so they are just going to wait and see how this is going to do in the future. I don't know.
Serenity: They are just juggling too much. They are just trying to juggle too much, iBooks author is a great piece of software it is out of date. Granted they have made some really, really wonderful under the hood improvements when Yosemite came out, but over all Apple said hey we're really interested in education. We've always been really interested in education; now put that on pause while we work on the Apple Watch, the Apple TV, the new iPhone, and the new yeah, we'll get back to you eventually right.
Allison: I was going to say, I think the administrative cost buy itself is really what it should be about. If I were administering a group of machines for a school, I would be hard pressed to not go with Chromebooks. We've talked before about how Apple had the great deal with the LA school district on the iPads and it fell through because the minute the students got them they just figured out how to get around the restrictions. Personally I would have taken that group of students and said we are going to put you in computer science class right now and encourage that behavior instead of punishing them. But, when you think about dealing with administrative cost, in fact that is one of the reasons we have always pushed Macs over PCs; even when PCs were cheaper. You just spend so much less time screwing around with the updates and all that kind of stuff on the Mac side, viruses and all that non sense. Now you have the Chromebook, that is a really tough sell, you don't have to hardly administer those at all. So if you have reasonably good hardware, I think that’s a great point. Another person, shoot, I lost it hear in the live chat room. Somebody pointed out does anybody steel Chromebooks?
Mike: It's never happened; ever in the history of mankind. Except a Chromebook Pixel, I might even steel a Chromebook Pixel. The regular ones, no, never happened.
Andy: They are like steeling paper napkins at McDonalds. Okay, maybe you can but why would you and why would you admit it?
Mike: And who would report it?
Serenity: The resale value is not great.
Mike: Exactly, we are going to take a break and when we come back we are going to have picks galore. We are all going to have picks. Allison, you're going to have a pick of the week for us as well?
Allison: I will pull something out and see what I can do.
Mike: Okay great, you work on that and I will work on the break. I want to talk about Personal Capital. Andy was showing off and waving around his fancy Moto 360 watch. Personal Capital is a service that will help you get your financial life in order. They were one of the very first apps on Android ware. That’s right, I think it was a week into Android ware and I was getting a buzzing feeling on my wrist. I was wearing, I think it was an LG G watch at time, and it was telling me that I was about to incur a thirty-five dollar fee from my bank and this is an alert that I didn't see on my phone, I didn't see it on my desk top, I didn't go to the website. I felt it on my wrist, I looked down, and I took action. I saved myself thirty-five bucks. Wham, Personal Capital is free and I already saved thirty-five dollars. This is what a fantastic service this is. The basic way that you use Personal Capital is you're not mainly going to use it through the watch, you usually going to use it online. Mainly what you do is you plug in all your different financial accounts, bank accounts, investments, your 401K, all that kind of stuff. Then it brings all that information in and shows you in charts and graphs, in an intuitive, easy to understand way. What the heck is happening with your money; and when you can see that sort of ten thousand foot view of what is happening with your money you can make better decisions. It will alert you and prevent you from wasting money on un nesacary fees and fines. It is just a fantastic way to get your financial life in order, and I think that most of us just have vague ideas of what is happening with our money and it is not good enough. You have to have specific, clear understanding of where it's going, what's happening, what the danger spots are, how you can make changes and adjustments so that you lose less money, make more money, and save more money. Basically take control of your money, because eventually you are going to have as much money as you possibly can. You don't want to waste it on un necessary stuff that goes on in the financial services world. Just take a minute, pays big dividends, Personal Capital gives you total clarity and transparency. Again the thing is that you can make better decisions, better investment decisions, better decisions about the fees that your paying, better decisions about how much to spend, just all across the board better decisions and that is the right way to get your financial house in order. To set up your free account, go to personalcapital.com/macbreak. Personal Capital is free and it is a smart way to grow your money, and we thank personal capital for their support of MacBreak Weekly. Andy Ihnatko do you have a pick of the week?
Andy: Yes I do. Let's see if I can get Crane Cam 3000, the future of pod casting set up for you. I've been talking a lot about really good folding pocket keyboards because ever since the iPhone 6+ came out with its really nice big screen. You kind of want to be able to blast through e-mails or even just write full things with it. One of my picks a few weeks ago, one of my first nice discoveries which was the iwerkz keyboard, werkz, which folds out nicely. It has this big kind of ugly gap, but I found that you can sort of make your way. You get used to it after your first hundred words with it, and it has this nice actual case that doubles as a phone stand. But, I since then have found something that is even better, even though it is about twice as much. This is the Flyshark folding keyboard. It is almost twice as much, which sounds bad until you realize that this cost thirty dollars. This is also a folding Bluetooth keyboard and it sells on Amazon for fifty and the reason I like it so much, already too much clutter on this desk sorry about this, is that you flip this open and here is what you get. What I'm calling your attention to is what you don't get is that really big gap between the two folding halves of the keyboard. You also get a space bar that you can basically put your thumbs wherever you want. I also like the fact that like the iwerkz, it also has the mechanical switches on the side so that the battery will not run down. You can actually turn it on and turn it off; the battery will not run down inside your bag. And, it is very; very comfortable to type with. The only disadvantage of it is that the numbers are accessible by a function key. So whereas the thirty dollar one actually has its own little row of numbers here, this one to actually get numbers you have to hold down a function key in order to get that working. But, all in all I actually find it a lot faster to type on this versus this because, I don't know if you can see this but some of these keys actually overlap over the hinge. Look at the H key right there. As a result when it is lying flat like that you get something that is almost identical to a real keyboard and it is almost the same size and layout. If I can do this without spilling all over the place, almost the exact same size as my Macbook pro keyboard here. Pardon the crumbs and the mess, it has been a long; long holiday. So I think that this is the one that I'm going to wind up with as my final recommendation. It is not perfect but, no pocket able, foldable keyboard is going to be as good as an Apple wireless keyboard. It does get me right to the solution that I want to get to. Which is the ability to simply travel for the day with just this in my pocket, and realize this is the iPhone 6+, you put even the iPhone 6 it takes up no extra space in your pocket. And I feel as though if I have that unexpected hour and half, two hours. If I miss my train I can actually set up on a table and feel as if I can get an hour of work and actual typing done with it. So it is fifty dollars, a lot of people might require a recommendation from somebody before they would trust this. Come on Crane Cam 3000. Because the only place that I can find to buy it is Amazon, and it has that sort of imported from China and it might or might not work marketing lingo. Where it is best freshest blue tooth key type for great with iPhone, iPad, Nexus phone. But trust me it really is the works. It started off as a kick starter as a matter of fact, which is how my attention got called to it. But, now it is an actual shipping product, and for fifty bucks. The only keyboard I've found that is better is this one from Lap Works which folds out twice, it is based on the old hand spring keyboard. It folds in like that. It is very, very good. The problem is that the only trust worthy place to get it. It is good enough that I would actually recommend it, is Lap Works and they charge one hundred and forty bucks for it. So for a hundred and forty dollars you really have to be certain that you're going to get a lot of use out of this. For fifty bucks it makes a good present, it makes a good oh; I may as well buy this just in case. You can put it inside of your hand bag and keep it in there. Really, really a nice product.
Allison: What is the name of the new one Andy? The one that you are recommending, what is the name of it one more time?
Andy: It is called the Flyshark. The company is Flyshark, they call it the iLepo. I don't know why they call it iLepo, it is the seventh Marks Brothers that I know. And if you look for either of those two names, you will only find references to the kick starter; you will not find a store page or a product page. The only place I can find that actually has it is Amazon the only other thing that I can say to be prepared about is that like a lot of these other folding keyboards, it is really a lot more stable if you have your screen cleaning cloth or handkerchief and you put that underneath it. Because these are supposed to be rubberized, anti-skid things but they are not quite grabby enough. So it is possible while you are typing for it to kind of slide around a little bit.
Allison: How about in your lap?
Andy: Your lap is daintier than I, than mine. It is not lap able by any means. You do need to have it on top of a hard stable surface in order to make it work. But if you put it on top of some sort of cloth, I've found that, that stops it from skidding around. It is winter time, you should have a handkerchief with you any ways, and so that is not a bad thing.
Mike: Wonderful, the Flyshark iLepo. I guess the brand name iLepper was taken so they went with iLepo, what are you going to do. Serenity Caldwell what do you have for us?
Serenity: Alright my pick of the week is an app, and I blame Jason Snell entirely for this. Over Thanksgiving he was talking about
Mike: He takes the blame for a lot
Serenity: It's true; it's true I blame him for a lot of things in my life. He was talking about an app that had captivated him over the holiday weekend called Crossy Road. Which is very similar to, it's like flappy bird meats frogger is how I've heard it described. It is very well designed, the sort of 3D blocky graphics are really delightful. It is an infuriating game, an absolutely infuriatingly delightful game. That I played way too much of this Thanksgiving, when I have Floridian sun to sit out in, instead I'm inside trying to beat this silly, silly game. Which you can't beat it of course, it is a never ending series of cars and trains and leapfrogs that you have to dance around. Although it does have some inept purchases gimmicks that are kind of silly. I just really enjoyed playing this, I had a seven year old hanging out who saw me playing it and was like oo it’s the chicken game. Can I play the chicken game? Oh you shouldn't press on that, that’s bad. He got so into it with me, so it was a good way to bond over vacation with a seven year old and a way to escape actually going out doors. I thought it was a lot of fun, I definitely recommend everybody play it. It is just silly, it is silly and a good time, and it is more addicting than you think. Who is playing that right now or is it just a video, I'm suddenly captivated watching this.
Mike: It is just a video.
Andy: I love these games, even if it was just a screen saver I would spend five dollars to have it as a screen saver. It is a really beautiful piece of art.
Serenity: It really is.
Mike: Very, very cool. Alright well that looks fun, that looks really fun I want to try that. Allison, what do you have for us?
Allison: Well unfortunately I don't have a chrome cast 3000, the future of video pod casting. But I will try to show off, I'm going to go very old school here I'm going to show off a book. George from Tulsa, one of the listeners of my shows, sent me this for my five hundredth episode. It's called Iconic; it is a photographic tribute to Apple innovation. It is a giant hard cover, coffee table book and it just beautiful. It has an introduction by Jim Dalrymple and one by Steve Wozniak. It doesn't do what you would think it would do, it doesn't go chronologically through everything Apple ever did. Instead it has sections for things like peripherals and so it has a lot of the cool old school stuff. Let's see I bookmarked a couple of pages that looked kind of cool in here. They are just beautiful photographs and little tiny short explanations of what they are showing you and when things were introduced. The very last page of it has a picture, let's see I have to bring this up here. It has a picture of Steve Jobs' glasses. That is really bright on that camera. Anyway, you can believe me it is his glasses. It is beautiful, it is thick, it is heavy, it is just yummy coffee tableness for that sort of thing. It runs sixty-two dollars on Amazon right now and again it is called Iconic, I should probably remember who did it. But again it is just beautiful and I'm really digging it. I just got it a couple of hours ago. Jonathan Zufi is the guy's name.
Mike: That looks very, very cool. I can't wait to see that. Well my pick of the week is an application called Typed. I hope you guys didn't cover this on a previous show. It's called Typed and basically it is a word processor. It is a minimalist word processor, we've all seen them. The kind of thing where you don't want to type, you just want to write and it takes over the screen and blocks out all the sort of clutter and that sort of thing. The problem with most types of word processors is that they are too minimalist. They clear out the distractions, but they also clear out the tools you need and they also don't produce the kind of documents that you want. One of the great things about Typed is that it is a markdown editor. So it will generate web friendly hdml versions of your documents if you want to, if you want them. Which is very useful, I think most of us write for the web. I certainly do, if you're going to do anything that is going to have markup in it, it is nice if that is automated. You don't have to sit there and type that out. It also has a Zen mode, which will basically get rid of all of the controls and play like new agie kind of music in the background, sort of ambient music. That is a little cheesy; they have another thing called responsive lay out which basically will resize itself automatically to whatever size you want to use it in. The good news is that it is really great, functional word processing document that helps you write because it helps you clear your mind and helps you focus on your words instead of the tools, instead of the environment. That is again the good news. The bad news is, it is only available for the Mac and it cost nineteen ninety-nine, and they don't have a freemium model. They don't have a free version, which I think is a mistake. They should have one so you can try it out, people are very particular about their writing tools and twenty bucks, and you know that is real money. And so it would be nice to have a free version you could try for a trial period, or upgrade for more features, or whatever. But no, you have to pay the money in order to try it. But having said that it is a very, very nice editor, and it is just a fantastic way to write. I know those of you that write, the biggest barrier for most of us in writing is the fact that there are distractions everywhere.
Allison: Have you seen Focus Writer Mike? I think it is Open Source, I think it is Windows, Mac, and Leonex I think it is on all three. It is at least on two of the three. It has sort of the same type of thing with the themes and really defiantly does help you focus. I'm always just flipping away from it anyway because I'm looking at something else.
Mike: I am a big fan of that genre, and sometimes that is why I just wanna, and often times that is why I use my iPad for writing because it is more clutter free. But if you got to use a Macbook pro with retina, this is the way to get that iPad experience of minimalism and nothing else going on so you can focus and concentrate. Well that is, ladies and gentleman, MacBreak Weekly and I want to thank you Andy Ihnatko, Serenity Caldwell, Allison Sheridan, and thank you Jason Howell. Thanks to all of you viewers and listeners, the MacBreak Weekly audience, the hordes of ravenous Apple fans out there who watch this show every single week and I am one of you. I enjoy this show and it is nice to be able to talk back to these people for a change, rather than just listening. So this has been a thrill for me, I appreciate Leo. Leo is kite surfing or something today. It was great to be able to step in and take his place for him for one day at least. Andy Ihnatko Chicago Sun Times Technology Columnist, thank you so much for joining us. What has been going on, what are you looking forward to this month and over the holidays?
Andy: Basically a lot of deep soak reviews are coming out next few weeks, starting with finally my iPad Air 2 review. As usual, it is the Ken Burns effect applied to the review, which is let's have the slow pull in, lets read letters from colonist before we talk about. And of course the obligatory holiday gift guides are coming out this week.
Mike: Wonderful, and Serenity Caldwell thank you for joining us as well. You are a panelist on the incomparable pod cast and you are the manager of editors over.
Serenity: I am one manager of editors, I am joined by Peter Cowen, and he is the manager of Mac editors.
Mike: I see, I see and what are you guys working on this month?
Serenity: Oh we are working on tons of really exciting stuff. We are revamping a little bit of how we do content, so look for a lot more stuff on apps, including stuff by yours truly to come out soon. We've got a ton of gift guide stuff that is already out that we launched over Black Friday, and I hear rumors that we might be doing eBooks
Mike: That is an interesting rumor, you heard it here first.
Andy: You need to have some sort of an expert on staff that knows something about eBooks. It’s a fool's game you are getting into Serenity.
Serenity: Awe nah, nah. Shhh!
Andy: Its one of the greatest experts ever, okay.
Serenity: Don't give away my secret identity Andy.
Andy: Does that mean that now I can't hit you up for free advice on putting together my own eBooks? That's fine. I should have been paying you anyway, that's all right. I will still give you the giant toilet paper box that I was going to give you for Christmas.
Serenity: Awe, Merry Christmas to you too.
Mike: It is only December second come on now Merry Christmas. Alison Sheridan, from Nosella Mac pod cast, thank you for jumping in, we pulled you in at the last second, I really appreciate you coming on the show and sharing with us. What else is going on with you beside from the Nosella Mac pod cast?
Allison: It is actually Nosellacast Mac Pod Cast. I've managed to work it in twice but I'm going to do it a third time, this week will be gratuitous excitement about having done five hundred shows. My one strength is that I come out with a show absolutely every Sunday night. If I'm ever going to be late I'll make sure the previous one is early that kind of thing to make it all wash out. I've been going nine and a half years and the whole thing is just going to be a gratuitous, yay party this coming Sunday. But in general the show is, like I said I am Mac bias, but we do stuff on accessibility. I'm really interested in tools for the blind. I've done review of things like the Nokia 635 Windows phone that I actually really kind of liked. I don't know if I'm allowed to say it on the show but it is a lot of fun. It is a tech show but, it is very, very Mac biased for sure.
Mike: Wonderful, well thank you again for coming in on short notice. We really appreciate it, the chat room loves you.
Allison: Fun to actually get to talk to you directly, and to Serenity. I've never met Serenity before, so hi Serenity.
Serenity: Hi, Allison.
Mike: And of course everybody has met Andy. Alright, well we do MacBreak Weekly at 11 am Pacific, 2 pm Eastern, 1800 utc every single Tuesday right here on the TWiT network. You can watch live at live.twit.tv or subscribe on iTunes, Feedly, or RSS and many other options. So get to work, break time is over!