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Lookmark for Apps

Lookmark is a great utility by Claes Jacobsson to bookmark apps for later and download them when you can. Today's 2.0 update to Lookmark, which I've been testing over the past few days, adds the ability to bookmark any iTunes content and a solid extension that can add bookmarks directly from Safari.

It's quite impressive: if you try it on a website that mentions apps like MacStories, the extension will scan links on the webpage and you'll get a popup at the bottom to save apps for later.

Also new today: a Price Watch subscription service to be alerted of price changes for bookmarked apps. That's going to come in handy for @MacStoriesDeals.

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Apple, Siri, and VocalIQ

Brian Roemmele makes some interesting points on VocalIQ, a speech/deep learning startup that Apple acquired last year (via Nick Heer):

It is not a secret that Siri has not kept up the pace that just about all of us expected, including some of the Siri team. The passion that Steve had seemed to have been waning deep inside of Apple and the results were Dag and Adam Cheyer moved on and formed Five Six Labs ( A play on V IV in Roman numerals) and Viv.

Tom Gruber, one of the original team members and the chief scientist that created Siri technology, stayed on and continued his work. During most of 2016 and 2017 we will begin to see the results of this work. I call it Siri2 and am very certain Apple will call it something else.

Roemmele has been following all this for a long time, and he adds:

If Apple utilizes just a small subset of the technology developed by VocalIQ, we will see a far more advanced Siri. However I am quite certain the amazing work of Tom Gruber will also be utilized. Additionally the amazing technology from Emollient, Perception and a number of unannounced and future Apple acquistions will also become a big part of Apple’s AI future.

Between these acquisitions and reports that Apple is indeed preparing a Siri API for developers, it sounds like we should expect some notable announcements at WWDC.

See also: this fascinating talk by VocalIQ CEO and founder Blaise Thomson from last June on machine learning applied to voice interactions.

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Apple Denied Key Exemption for Retail Stores in India

Bloomberg reports that Apple has been denied a key exemption that will likely scuttle Apple's plans in the short term to open official Apple Retail Stores in India:

India’s finance minister has ratified a decision that Apple Inc. must meet local sourcing rules to open its own stores, according to people familiar with the matter, dealing what may be a fatal blow to the iPhone maker’s effort to open retail outlets in the country.

Minister Arun Jaitley decided to support the decision by India’s Foreign Investment Promotion Board that Apple will have to procure 30 percent of components locally if it wants to sell through its own retail stores, said the people, asking not to be identified because the matter is private. The company makes most of its products in China and doesn’t currently meet that criteria.

It comes after another government panel had recommended, in late April, that Apple be granted the exemption. But more significantly, today's move comes after Tim Cook visited India in his first official trip to the country as CEO of Apple.

The decision by India's finance minister may not be the last word, as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi could theoretically intervene. During Cook's trip to India he met with Prime Minister Modi and Apple's retail plans were reportedly discussed, as was Modi's "Made in India" program which encourages foreign companies to manufacture in India. In public comments during the week Cook suggested that Apple was looking to establish a facility in India that would refurbish old iPhones for resale in India, but had no plans for other manufacturing at this stage.

If you're interested in reading more about Cook's week-long tour of India and China (which occurred last week), I wrote about the context of the trip as well as providing a timeline of what actually happened.

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Creating Robots on an iPad

Great story by Christina Warren at Mashable on how the iPad is being used to teach interactive problem solving in a fun, new way:

I’m sitting on the floor at The Academy of Talented Scholars (PS 682) in Bensonhurst, watching kindergarteners create robots on an iPad.

It’s one of the cutest things I’ve ever seen, and I don’t even like children.

The exercise is part of the curriculum led by co-teachers Stacy Butsikares and Allison Bookbinder, focused on helping the 5- and 6-year-old students come up with ways to solve problems.

I often wish I had an iPad when I was in elementary school 20 years ago.

In the same story, Christina focuses on the Hopscotch programming app and kids who grow up using it:

So what happens after kids master Hopscotch? Do they continue coding? Conrad says that the team receives fan mail all the time (something she calls “really gratifying”) from kids who have parlayed their experience with Hopscotch into learning other languages too.

I wonder what Apple thinks of teaching Swift to a new generation of programmers on an iPad.

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Connected, Episode 92: My Relationship with the Status Bar

This week Federico takes Myke on a tour of his experience with Android.

After ending last week's episode of Connected on a cliffhanger, I took some time this week to share my first impressions of Android and some thoughts on trying different things and challenging my preconceptions more often. I think it's a good one. You can listen here.

Sponsored by:

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Canvas, Episode 10: Third-Party Email Clients

Fraser and Federico (particularly Federico) drop serious knowledge on 3rd party iOS mail clients.

I forgot to link Canvas' episode 10 on this website last week, but it's a great one: we went deep on third-party email clients for iOS, why you should use them, and what categories of clients are out there today. You can listen here.

Sponsored by:

  • Airtable: Organise anything you can imagine.

What are they good for? Where do they have hard limitations? Which ones are the best? Federico makes his picks and explains how these clients can hook into other parts of your workflow to really enhance your mail processing on iOS.

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Archiving a Website for Ten Thousand Years

Glenn Fleishman, writing for The Atlantic:

Hi.co, a website that allows its users to post “moments” with a photo and annotation, plans a similar trip to the distant future. The operators, Craig Mod (who has also previously written for _The Atlantic) _and Chris Palmieri, announced today that the site will freeze service in September 2016. However, all posts present in the site’s database at that time will be microprinted onto a two-by-two-inch nickel plate. The entire site—2,000,000 words and 14,000 photos—should fit on a single disk. Several copies will be made and distributed across the globe; the Library of Congress has already been secured as a repository. The plates have a lifespan as long as 10,000 years, and they may be viewed with a 1,000-power optical microscope.

That's certainly one way to go about digital preservation. This was a truly entertaining read – make sure to check out the links about time capsules and the Rosetta Disk.

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Monument Valley’s Second Year

Fascinating look at the second year of Monument Valley – particularly after a cameo on House of Cards and a promotion on the App Store:

Underwood turned out to be a great pitch man, one of several reasons why Monument Valley was actually more successful in its second year of existence, compared to the first. According to developer Ustwo, the game has been downloaded more than 26 million times to date, and more than 23 million of those downloads came in the second year after it released. "We’ve actually had to spend a lot of time maintaining the game," says Dan Gray, head of studio at Ustwo Games, "and finding new opportunities for people to find out about it."

For the second year in a row, Ustwo has released a detailed infographic that showcases how well the game performed on various platforms. While year one showed that it was still possible for a premium game to make money on mobile, year two shows just how huge of an audience you can reach by offering your game for free — the biggest reason behind _Monument Valley_’s enduring success wasn’t a fictional US president, it was the lack of a price tag.

The difference in downloads between the first and second year on iOS is remarkable, but even more impressive is the performance in China.

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