iMessage in the Cloud

iMessage in the Cloud

iOS 11 will allow users to store iMessage messages in iCloud. It finally makes it possible to start an iPhone or iPad fresh, don’t restore a backup, and still have access to your chat history. It even syncs deletions and read status (?) and is completely secure and respects your privacy. Pretty nifty.

One caveat though: iMessage cloud syncing uses your iCloud Storage. Since Apple only gives users 5GB, and iMessage is the one thing that fills iPhones up faster than photos, I wonder how many regular users are really going to be able enjoy this new feature to its fullest potential.

Imagine a user upgrading to iOS 11. If they have 5GB of default iCloud Storage it’s probably already used up by their iCloud backup (that includes photos and messages). So no room available to start syncing.

Even worse, if they start with a new blank iPhone, their 5GB basically gives them a choice: use iCloud Photo Library, iMessage sync or backup your device. And opposite to the you can have it fast, cheap or good mantra, even only picking two of these options isn’t really an option. So most users don’t get to enjoy the full feature set of iCloud.

Apple offers an easy solution: pay 99ct a month, get 50GB of storage and enjoy iCloud (and arguably iOS) at its fullest. It gives you a good backup strategy, easy syncing of your photos, solves the limited storage problem of your iPhone with Optimisation, and will soon include iMessage, Health,… and be easily shareable across Family members.

But most people I know don’t or won’t pay. Those nagging limited storage-popups and red notification dots that Apple shows in Settings.app – reminding them their backup hasn’t run – are often not convincing them to update. Often it does the opposite: they are frustrated their already expensive device is asking them to pay even more.

The only scenario I’ve seen people pay are similar to this one: they want an easy way to sync their photos. I show them my own iPhone and iPad syncing 50000+ photos easily. And they warily go for the 99ct plan. 

If Apple really wants to get people to use iCloud, they should replace the 5GB for free plan with a 3 month trial of the 50GB plan. It gives people all the features of iCloud right out of the box with realistic limits. If they like it, they’ll pay. If they don’t, they won’t. And if they don’t, the difference between 5GB and no storage is negligible.

But I’d bet most people will happily pay a buck a month for what iCloud offers them. They just need the get the chance to try it out first.

But I digress: iMessage cloud syncing is a great feature I’m looking forward to!

Fallen

Fallen

A friend messaged me yesterday: do you know an app that can log ‘times fallen’ in Health? His lovely girlfriend needs a wheelshare to get around, and has to log these kind of medical events. 

I didn’t find one with a search in the App Store (then again, no surprise there), I didn’t want to tell him she can just log it manually in Health and being lazy as I am, writing one myself wasn’t really an option. 

Or could I? Thanks to Workflow’s Health integration, writing an app that logs a fall with a touch of a button is easy. 

Five minutes later his girlfriend now has a Workflow complication on her Apple Watch. Pressing it runs the ‘Fallen’ workflow and logs a fall with the time and date in Health. You can find the workflow here

If you wonder why Apple bought Workflow? In the words of Gusteau:

Anyone can code. 

SiriBox

SiriBox

I’ve been testing a Google Home for about a month now. It’s a great little piece of technology, but since it lives outside of my digital ecosystem, my use cases are fairly limited.

Google Home integrates with exactly three things in my home: Sonos, Hue and Spotify. The former only thanks to a Sonos bridge and a ChromeCast, the latter thanks to a Spotify family account my parents have.

But, even with only those three use cases, and the occasional timer or search query, I really love the idea of speaking instead of typing.

OK Google, stream Vee-Ar-Tee Studio Brussels on Sonos please. Hey Google, turn on the Slaåpkåmér-lights. Hey Google, play Nothing Else Matters on Sonos.

Yes, the syntax is cumbersome. Yes, sometimes it’s faster to grab an iPhone and use control center, or look outside and check the weather myself. And yes, when music is playing loudly she doesn’t here me. But then again, who does.

The real power of a digital assistant lies with its integrations. And since I live in an iOS and iCloud world, Google Home (or Alexa for that matter) doesn’t really integrate at all with Apple’s services. I can hack IFTTT and its recent iOS integrations to create appointments, but the Apple TV, Apple Music, my reminders, email, messages, FaceTime? Non existing if you ask Google Home.

Fast forward

Now, we all dream. So let’s dream big, by going back to 2006. Apple released the iPod Hi-Fi, their first and only speaker. Great sound, big, heavy and soooo beautiful.

What I’d like is a new iPod Hi-Fi called Siri. A big decent speaker, with integrated microphones, Wi-Fi, bluetooth and all the things needed to add the Siri experience to a speaker.

Hey Siri, play Led Zeppelin. Hey Siri, FaceTime Audio my mom. Hey Siri, remind me to buy Duvel when I get to the mall.

It integrated with iOS and iCloud. It can use continuity to hand-off complex queries to my iPhone or iPad. It does AirPlay, and acts as a HomeKit bridge.

Not that farfetched I think?

Mac Pro SE

Mac Pro SE

Welcome to Mac Pro SE, the most powerful desktop Mac ever. To create it, we started with a beloved design, then reinvented it from the inside out. The dual socket CPUs are the most advanced chips designed by Intel. The high-end GPU handles incredible photos and 4K videos. And Thunderbolt 3 connects your data fast. The result is a Mac Pro that looks old. But lives for the future.

If only.

Mac Pro

Mac Pro

Apple is currently hard at work on a “completely rethought” Mac Pro, with a modular design that can accommodate high-end CPUs and big honking hot-running GPUs, and which should make it easier for Apple to update with new components on a regular basis. They’re also working on Apple-branded pro displays to go with them – Daring Fireball

  1. I think they originally wanted to go for iMac Pro’s and forget the Mac Pro all together. But they were impressed/got scared by the “Apple doesn’t care about pro’s backlash” they got after the MacBook Pro with Touchbar keynote? It can’t have taken them three years to realize they needed to reboot the Mac Pro and have nothing to show yet, can it?
  2. As far as those new displays go: LG screwed up the 5K displays so Apple’s taking matters back into their own hands. Also: sometimes wishes come true?
  3. I think the speed bumps are more a matter of: we can’t make the old ones anymore due to lack of parts than Apple wanting to update it right now. And this “controlled leak” about the upcoming reboot is to prevent any major backlash that would have occurred if they would’ve just speedbumped the trashcan without any context. 

Either way this entire story reads more as: we’ve only just begun course correcting the Pro line after the Touchbar-backlash than something that has been in the works for a long time now.

Sonos Network Issues

Sonos Network Issues

We use Sonos at the office for easy music-access across the entire building. We’ve got 8 Sonos AMPs linked to Bowers And Wilkins built-in ceiling speakers, combined with a couple of Play:3 and Play:1 units for smaller offices.

It’s an elegant system. We hooked up one radio, tuned to Studio Brussel to the line-in of one of the AMPs, thus combining one of Belgiums better radio stations with a zero-bandwidth solution.
It’s better to share the line-in of an AMP than to have a dozen Sonos devices all streaming high quality internet radio all day.

Users who do want something different can use the build-in Tune-In radio to pick a radio station of their preference. All hooked up to ethernet.

A perfect solution. Or so we thought.

Issues

For a while now we had some serious issues on the network. Switches would randomly lock, internet would grind to a stop and internal network traffic would just drop.

Frustrated and confused, because there was no obvious culprit to be found, I spent last weekend rewiring and checking our entire server-backbone. To make this process easier I decided to turn off any devices that weren’t necessary to work productively.

Accidentally I noticed that the network behaved a lot better after I disconnected the switch that contained all the Sonos devices. And said switch still acted weird even when unpatched from the rest of the network.

Turns out: Managed switches and wired Sonos is a big no-go. If you have more than one Sonos connected via ethernet, things may go wrong.

Since Sonos also talk to each other, they have the downside of possibly creating a Broadcast Storm on your network, and thus taking down a part or all of the network.

Luckily there’s a solution: either use a dumb unmanaged switch (not gonna happen), or adjust the Spanning Tree State settings of your switch(es). So a few configuration changes later, we again have a stable setup.

If you happen to have some managed switches, and think about hardwiring your Sonos to reduce the load on your wi-fi network: file this article for future use. It may save you from spending a sunny afternoon in a server room surrounded by ethernet cables and switches.

Why Apple hasn’t build an Apple 5K Cinema Display yet

Why Apple hasn’t build an Apple 5K Cinema Display yet

Look at the past

Apple doesn’t regularly update their displays. They provide a significant update every few years and then they keep selling that same display for years. 

  • 27″ Thunderbolt Display : 5 years
  • 27″ Led display: 3 years
  • 24″ LED Display: 2 years

So, if they had released a new 5K Thunderbolt 3 display last fall, chances are they’d keep selling it for years. Unchanged. 

The iMac

Apple’s iMac and displays go hand in hand. Technological advances in one, often show up in the other. When Apple released their first 27″ iMac, the display followed swiftly. When the iMac got a brighter screen, the Thunderbolt Display followed and also got a better panel. 

So, normally we’d expected Apple to take the retina iMac 27″ 5K panel, and turn it into a display for their notebook and desktop lineup too. 

So why not?

The iPad

In iOS 9.3 Apple added Night Shift mode to iOS. Now finally in macOS 12.4 they will also add it to macOS, sherlocking F.lux while they’re at it. 

The iPad Pro 9.7″ is their first device that has a True Tone display. A display that Phil Schiller described as:

“It’s really natural to use,” Schiller added. “Once you use this display, you’ll never want to go back. It is quite a breakthrough.”

Some people expect the next 12.9″ iPad to have one too, and sooner rather than later the iPhone will too. 

My Guess

Imagine a new 2017 iMac doesn’t only has Night Shift mode via software, but also gets a True Tone display. That combined with Thunderbolt 3 and USB C would make it a great update that builds on technologies that exist in their current lineup. 

Now, if they release such an iMac it would immediately make any 5K display that doesn’t support True Tone look old and lower specced. 

So:

  • Apple’s Displays have a slow refresh rate.
  • They don’t make an Apple 5K Cinema Display (yet).
  • They don’t sell any True Tone desktop Macs (yet). 

If you were Apple and you could choose:

  • Release an Apple 5K Cinema Display in 2016 and sell it for a few years unchanged. 
  • Push an LG display in 2016, and release an Apple 5K True Tone display sometime in 2017.

Which one would be the most logical?

Right. And that’s why they haven’t released a display of their own yet. 

Apple Pencil v2

Apple Pencil v2

There’s some rumors doing the rounds on a possible Apple Pencil v2 being released this spring.

I love the original Apple Pencil and use it daily for mind mapping, throwing down quick thoughts or sketching out code or network plans.

So.. v2. What’s to improve. The easy parts: higher precision, better battery. But there’s more.

1. Connectivity

Pairing a Pencil via lightning is easy. But after you’re used to the AirPods, pairing via anything else than mere magic is barbaric. So I’d like a W1 chip in the Pencil, which would make pairing the Pencil as easy as.. tapping the screen?

2. Charging

Similarly, charging the Pencil with power drawn from the iPad is convenient. But the Pencil poking out the side of the iPad is just ridiculous. Try charging a Pencil on a train or plane or anywhere public and people will just laugh. 

Compared to the AirPods it’s yet again something that was ok, until you’re used to the AirPods’ charging case. 

Imagine a new Smart Cover that has a slot to place the Pencil in. Via conductive charging, powered by the smart connector on the iPad, the Pencil would charge while you’re carrying it. Always available, always charged. And naturally, once charged, the Pencil stops drawing power so not to drain the iPad entirely. 

3. Taptics

The Pencil has the ability to simulate force pressing the screen. You can, for example, use the Pencil to clear all notifications on an iPad at once.

What if.. the Pencil would give feedback. And fully emulate force pressing the giant iPad screen.

4. And finally

I’d like a black version.