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CARROT Weather Drags iOS 12 Beta

The person who writes the drag comments for CARROT Weather is not only incredibly quick on current events—all the time—but also has a knack for coming up with the best drags to feed the nerderati zeitgeist.

Job well done, CARROT Weather comment writer. You deserve the beverage of your choice.

Apple’s True Tone Displays Don’t Matter—Until They Do

Yesterday, my company graced me with a new MacBook Pro (honestly, we just needed it for testing, but I was happy to take it as “mine”), and it offers Apple’s True Tone technology which they’ve now carried into the MacBook Pro line.

Before I unboxed the new laptop, my complement of Apple hardware included all non-True Tone devices: a new iMac, the original iPad Pro 12.9, an iPhone 7+, and an Apple Watch—fantastic devices all, but not a True Tone display in the bunch. Not having had one, I certainly didn’t see the “need” for it, but I was really looking forward to the feature.

I turned on and set-up the new MacBook Pro, ready to bask in all of its color-calibrated glory. I fired it up, waited an interminable time for the Migration Assistant to finish pulling things from my older office iMac, and finally, I got the login prompt I had been waiting for. My programs launched, and (drum roll)…hmmmm…okay? It didn’t really look any different, or richer, or more amazing like I expected it to be from the deluge of Apple’s press about it. Meh. Well, whatever. I went about my work for the rest of the night. My work iMac’s screen had gone into Night Shift mode, and so had the MacBook, so everything looked about the same.

I had to work from home today, so I brought the new laptop with me from the office and set it up next to my iMac. I started my morning on the MacBook (in relative darkness, as I had a kid sleeping on the couch in my “office” that has rapidly become their playroom), and it looked fine. Normal. Apple-great. But fine. Fifteen minutes into working, I realized I needed a file from my home iMac that was sitting next to me (and next to the MacBook), so I woke it up.

Holy eye-blinding intensity, Batman!

The iMac’s bright-blue screen seared my eyes like I looked up at the sun (which you definitely shouldn’t do). In a few seconds, my eyes settled down from their shock, but there was no doubt that there was an intense glare coming from the iMac’s 27″ panel. I glanced over at the MacBook, and my eyes felt instantly more comfortable. It was a night-and-day difference. I looked back at my iMac’s otherwise gorgeous screen—painful. I looked back at the MacBook Pro—soothing. True Tone makes a tremendous difference, but it’s so smooth and so well done that you don’t notice it during the course of a normal day, as you honestly shouldn’t. The softer yellow tones on the MacBook Pro’s screen not only matched the “reality” of the white levels in the room, they made the MacBook Pro blend into the existing environment (of a truly cluttered and messy desk). The feature is so well implemented that I didn’t notice it simply because of its perfect implementation. It did its job without fanfare, and it did it well. It’s not that I don’t love the iMac’s screen—I do—but there is a time and a place for the full bright blue tones of its flat panel, and 8:00 AM in a darkened home office isn’t it. The MacBook Pro was handily more comfortable on the eyes to use, and eyestrain, while a real problem, isn’t one I often considered or cared about.

More accurately, it wasn’t a problem I considered or cared about until I saw the True Tone display on the MacBook Pro reveal its magic, and then I understood.

Charcoal Gray Leather Loop

If you have a stainless steel variant of an Apple Watch, the Charcoal Gray Leather Loop band looks absolutely brilliant with it. I have a good collection of bands at this point, but this charcoal textured leather against the black color of the screen and the silver casing is just perfect. Instant favorite.

 

Live Photos—Who Knew?

Until recently, I carried an iPhone 6 and was quite sure that Live Photos were basically a gimmick in sheep’s clothing. I saw them taken by other people or in Apple’s advertising and thought, “Meh. That’s neat, but it’s like 3D in movies—gimmicky and superfluous.”Recently, I upgraded to an iPhone 7 Plus, and I’m here to tell you, I’m a Live Photo convert. If you have kids, pets, or both, Live Photos were made for you. Even if you don’t, moving landscape shots with a river, waterfall, or a train rolling by become something entirely different. Three seconds of video doesn’t sound like a lot, but those few seconds add an infinite amount of context. It brings the sounds and motion of the moment into the picture, capturing a piece of the past exactly as it unfolded.

Clearly I’m late to the game, since Live Photos started with the 6S line of iPhones, but there are still a number of people in the Apple ecosystem who have upgraded to neither the 6S nor the 7 yet, and for them, Live Photos will be another “new” feature to enjoy.

With Live Photos, Apple did what it’s best at doing—adding human emotion into technology. Live Photos aren’t about the pixels or the stitched-together video/photo/video constructs; they’re about bringing a smile to your face when you recall the moment that the sights and sounds of a Live Photo captured. They’re about the life outside your phone at a time when so much of your day is spent inside it.

For that, Live Photos are amazing. You just need to experience it for yourself.

Hmmm…

Apple’s $169 Smart Keyboard for the iPad shouldn’t look like this after one year. Decidedly un-Apple.

Maybe I’ll draw a new “A” on with a white Sharpie. That will look fantastic.

Office Talk Version 3.0

I’ve just submitted Office Talk version 3.0 to the App Store for review. When approved, your new version of the Office Talk sticker pack for Messages will include:

  • A muted green color replaces the bright green color for the positive stickers. The older color, while technically “green” was blinding on newer devices.
  • Voiceover support has been added for all stickers so people with low vision can use them to insult their coworkers, too!
  • Stickers representing the DISC Profile Types have been added so that High Ds can tell everyone proudly that they’re High Ds.
  • One or two additional stickers have found their way into the pack. Enjoy!

The new sticker pack should be available within the next few days, depending upon Apple’s review load.

Wow!

The Next Web published a piece highlighting five of the “most ridiculous iMessage sticker packs for iOS 10,” and I have the proud distinction of making the last pack mentioned on the list. Hey, any press is good press, so I’m thankful to the author for including me.

The sticker pack experiment has been a fun one; it’s a testament to Apple’s thought that “anyone” could make a sticker pack for sale in the App Store. I have very little programming background, I can basically only spell Xcode, and I have almost no artistic ability whatsoever, but I still managed to create a sticker pack, get over Apple’s somewhat arcane certification and version control hurdles, and get it uploaded for sale into the App Store. I call this a win for me personally (sales aren’t putting my kids through college, but they’ll get me a set of AirPods), and I think it’s a win for Apple too in that they have brought down the barrier to entry for real creatives to have a place to offer their works. I think anything that opens up channels for commerce for different types of people in different professions with different skill sets is a win for everyone, not just Apple.

My sticker pack called “Office Talk” is available here.

More Power!

Listening to this week’s episode of “Connected” from Relay.FM, I heard a little nugget from Federico Viticci that surprised me. Apparently, Apple released a USB-C to Lightning cable, which I initially thought was only used to charge/sync iOS devices with the new MacBook (that has only a single USB-C port for everything).

As things turn out, that’s the primary use for the new cable, but there’s a secondary use mentioned only (as far as I can tell) in the product description on Apple’s website for the USB-C to Lightning cable. That secondary use allows you to engage the 29W MacBook USB-C power supply as a rapid charger for the 12.9 inch iPad Pro. Even though the iPad Pro’s charger that it ships with is more powerful than any iOS-based charger that came before it, charging the iPad Pro from empty can still be an all-day affair.  To hear that there’s quick-charging capability in this device and to not have known about it is a bit of a surprise considering the number of hours I have to wait to top-up.

You can bet my American Express points that I ordered that little combination to feed the power-hungry iPad Pro upon which I’m typing this post.  The Pro has quickly become my primary computing device because of the speed and ease of iOS combined with the newer professional-level apps available and the giant Retina Display that it provides.

The 2 meter USB-C to Lightning Cable.

The 29W MacBook USB-C Power Supply.

…and all was right with the world.

Numerous  reports have said that Apple will indeed return Apple Pencil navigation support to iOS 9.3, even as soon as the next Beta release.  While Apple’s statement made it sound like they had pulled it with the intention of replacing functionality once they made some fixes to it, it seems to be the common opinion that Apple pulled it intentionally and then promised to return functionality only after Serenity Caldwell, John Gruber, and other Apple-rati had posted highly visible articles lamenting its loss.  Thank you Serenity, John, and others as passionate about the iPad Pro/Apple Pencil combination as they we are.

Define “Irony”

Ironically, the FBI’s public push in the courts to force Apple to modify their operating system to allow easier brute force entry has caused a huge number of technical articles to be written by the tech press about how to use the increased security protocols on one’s iPhone.  Many people I’ve seen post to the comment section of those articles didn’t already know they could improve security beyond the four or six digit passcode, but now they do.