The iWatch to Save All Diabetics

I’m still extremely cynical and pessimistic on this one. With evidence now that Apple met with the FDA to discuss wearable medical devices, the iWatch rumor mill is back at it.

9to5Mac is putting together the pieces and sees:

>Besides fitness tracking, a marquee feature of “Healthbook” will be the ability to monitor a user’s vital signs.

>The application will be able to track a person’s blood pressure, hydration levels, heart rate, and potentially several other blood-related data points, such as glucose levels, according to our sources.

I’m still not believing it. Measuring blood glucose is still reliant on blood samples. Measuring it by the moisture on your skin is still too science-fictiony for me.

My iWatch Prediction/Guess

The tech industry is a funny place. It reads the rumor sites to see what Apple might do next, and then attempts to beat Apple to the punch. The latest case of this is the iWatch. While Tim Cook just recently hinted towards a wearable computing device, Apple hasn’t otherwise said a thing about making a watch. Or a necklace, for that matter. This is all hype fueled by rumor sites and random guesses from analysts. (Gene Munster is still convinced that an Apple TV set is just around the corner. That’s based on, uhm, any random thing he can read into what anyone even loosely connected to Apple might say or hint at.)

I’m not saying that Apple isn’t working on a watch of some sort, but I highly doubt it’ll be the standard watch you’re all thinking of. Watches have two immediate problems that Apple would have to work around:

They’re fashionable and they’re waterproof.

iPods and iPhones are notoriously not waterproof. They have exposed ports for recharging and for headphones. And then they have little sticker inside there to tell when water has hit them, voiding the warrantee. Would an iWatch run on batteries. No, of course not. It would need to be recharged somehow without a hole in it. Does that mean Apple might finally get into the game of making a wireless charger? One of the Android phones has that now, where you just place it on a pad of some sort and the thing magically charges. It’s possible Apple could do that, using the iWatch as a test case for such technology before rolling it out on a grander scale to the iPod Touch and the iPhones. iPads require so much charge that I think they’d be the last to use such technology. Plus, there’d likely be a revolt from people who use third party add-ons that utilize the port. On the other hand, Apple just switched out the old 30 pin adaptor for the Thunderbolt adaptor. So it’s not like they haven’t shown they can do that.

A phone doesn’t need a headphone jack, so that’s not a problem. But is the technology there for the touch screens to be waterproof?

Second is the fashion thing. Current styles go chunky large for men, and smaller for women. The problem isn’t just a pipeline and fashion thing, but a whole user input thing. Unless the whole thing is run by voice control, the watch will need a display most likely larger than what a woman’s watch would normally be. I don’t see Apple disrupting the fashion world in that way.

All of this leads to my theory of what an iWatch is: An iPhone accessory. It’s a bracelet that you wear on your wrist with a bunch of sensors in it that communicates automatically with your iPhone. At best, it has a small one-line digital display of the time on it somewhere. You could make it in black and white. You could make it in a few different lengths to accomodate different wrist sizes. But inside, it has a GPS chip and an accelerometer and who knows what else?

The secret to the product isn’t the hardware, but rather in what software Apple comes up with to utilize the “iWatch.” It has to do more than just what the current market for pedometers and health checkers offer. Maybe that small display (underneath an extra layer of something that’s clear and water protectant) tells you who’s calling before you pull the phone out of your pocket. Maybe swiping your finger along it turns the volume up and down on your iPhone that’s currently playing your favorite song.

And it charges wirelessly, but requires so little power that it easily lasts the whole day and recharges while you sleep. That’ll be the trick. This watch will be an eighth the size of an iPhone, yet still contain sensors and a memory chip. There’s not that much room in such a device for a battery. Keeping it powered will be a trick. But the lack of a display — or a small one, at most — will be a big help.

That’s my guess. In a few months, I may be proven wrong. Or, I’ll stand by my earlier prediction: This is all a fake-out from Apple to keep the competition busy in R&D making a product for a market that won’t be interested in it.

Sesame Street: Closeted Apple Fans

Mark Evanier linked to this great video of The Count counting the “You”s in YouTube:

Television shows and movies don’t like to show recognizable logos, for various reasons. Sometimes, as with an MTV reality show, they blur everything out. If it’s a hat with a logo on it, they’ll put black tape over the logo. They’ll use odd camera angles to avoid showing the logo. Whether it’s because they don’t want to be seen endorsing one company over another, or that they’d rather save those logos for the people who buy product placement in such shows, we see it happen often enough to almost not get distracted by it anymore.

However, I laughed at this Sesame Street video for the lengths they went to pull this trick off. Here are three shots with interesting camera angles

  • Quick! Put the kid in front of the camera! Move the camera to the left, to awkwardly block half the screen AND the logo!

  • A Post-It Note! Wait, not, that’s probably just a “yellow sticky” to avoid copyright issues there, too:

* Put a statue in a convenient spot!

Though the more I look at it, the more the angle is wrong. I think they had to go in with a video editor to scrub out the Apple icon here:

To be fair, though, this guy is NOT using an iPhone:

iPhone 5S Rumor – Genius or Financial Pain?

There’s a rumor from a usually reliable source (iMore) that the iPhone 5S might hit shelves as early as August. This is either the genius of Tim Cook in managing his pipeline, or the stupidity of Apple in setting themselves up for a big fall.

Let’s start with the stupidity: The biggest purchasers of the 5S will be people like me who are currently on their 4S. We’re not eligible to get a subsidized phone until October, though, so we can’t buy the phone for the first two or three months it’ll be out. Sales out of the gate will appear “low” for that reason, and the usual link-baiters will point that out, the stock with sag, and woe be to Apple for another couple of months.

Genius: This means steadier sales for the first three or four months the phone will be out. Every time a new iPhone is released, it sells out and people jump on the waiting list. If a large portion of potential purchasers of the phone have to wait until October, the pool of people buying the phone will be smaller at first. So Apple won’t have a problem keeping the pipeline full of phones, selling what they have without putting anyone on a waiting list. And sales of a new phone will be spread across two quarters, boosting quarterly earnings twice. Plus, that gives Apple extra time to build up stock for when October hits and all the 4S owners show up to upgrade.

It’s a plan that makes sense when you think about it for longer than thirty seconds, which puts it out of the range of so many anti-Apple tech and finance blogs, plus Wall Street.

My Third Tweet Ever

Just got my Twitter archive. Here’s my third ever tweet:

Remember, the iPhone was a $600 device when it launched.

My first iPhone was the 3GS.

Best iOS 6.1 Upgrade

The best change in iOS 6.1 is this one. Finally, Apple UI realizes how easy it once was to accidentally skip to the next track or back to the beginning of the current track by mistake. Spreading out the controls is huge for podcast junkies like myself.

new iOS 6 music controls

Apple Profits Mightily. Wall Street Plays Games

There’s no hope for Wall Street. It truly is a shell game that slowly destroys companies. Right now, they’re attempting to destroy Apple.

Apple yesterday announced record-setting earnings and profits. When all was said and done, they profited by more than $13 BILLION last year. And then Wall Street tanked the stock. They don’t even bother with the slingshot anymore. Or maybe that’ll come next week

Here are some headlines to help you lose your faith in humanity:

Tim Cook is the guy who ran the business for the last ten years to keep the machines running and the products getting built. Now some in tech “journalism” are calling for his head.

More short term thinking, but that’s SOP for public companies. Going public will kill them all.

Why the Internet Still Wins: Tim Cook Edition

Apple CEO Tim Cook did two interviews that showed up today. The first appeared this morning via Bloomberg Businessweek. It was heavily linked across the internet. It was presented in question and answer format, and rambled on for many screens. There’s a lot of material to read through with that interview, and it’s worth it. It’s an exciting, interesting, informative piece.

Then, tonight, Brian Williams had the first television interview with Tim Cook. At least, that’s their claim. I didn’t see much of an interview in there. The piece spread out across two segments of the show, but Tim Cook talked for about a minute and a half of it. Most of the piece was a monologue by Brian Williams describing Apple’s successes and challenges, often accompanied by a 5 seconds response from the CEO before quickly cutting away to the next thing before he had a chance to really answer anything or discuss a single topic in any depth. It was the most frustrating waste of twenty minutes I’ve felt from watching TV in a long time.

When Brian Williams tries to get Tim Cook to spill the beans on how Apple would transform the TV industry, I was hoping Cook would say, “By obsoleting you, Brian.” No such luck.

Maybe next year.

By the way, the big news out of the two interviews is that Apple is planning to produce one of the existing Mac lines in America. I’m laying my money down on it being the next Mac Pro. Why? Because that machine is so damned expensive that its buyers won’t notice the extra few hundred they’ll have to spend to have it built here. You can’t make a $999 laptop on an assembly line in America, but a $3000 desktop machine? Sure, that’s a possibility.

This is a question Williams put to Cook during the interview. He asked Cook how much more an iPhone would cost if it were built in America. And just as Cook was starting to explain why the problem isn’t so much the cost as it is the manufacturing talent, the tightly-edited piece quickly whip-panned onto the next segment.

Somehow, Williams was getting together with Josh Topolsky from The Verge for a special live chat about the interview tonight. I don’t know what they plan to talk about, since there was barely any interview shown on my television screen…

Three Random iTunes 11 Thoughts

  • The times change: iTunes emphasizes a more visual approach now. The program wants you to look at album covers as much as possible to find what you’re looking for. The problem is, in the digital age, I don’t think in terms of cover images anymore. Yes, for albums more than a decade old, those album covers click for me. I haven’t bought a CD in years now, though. I buy everything on-line, whether through iTunes or Amazon. I barely glance at the cover image. I’ll be doing as much searching as possible via text, I think.

  • I never realized just how much missing album art I had until iTunes 11. I might need to do an iTunes Match subscription just for those images. I used to have a program that helped look for album art, but that was so long ago that I think it was a PowerPC program that broke in the Intel world.

UPDATE: Nope, no Match subscription needed. iTunes has it as built-in functionality. This may not be new. I don’t know. I do know that I am not a Match subscriber, so it doesn’t depend on that.

iTunes lets you download cover images

  • The problem with reviewers: A new iTunes also means a lot of bloggers reviewing the program and including screen shots carefully selected to illustrated their points, iTunes’ new features, and oh-so-hip music collections. They’re very careful about what they let the world see, so be prepared for lots of Brooklyn Hipster Genius Mixes and classic rock, with a dash of modern indie label artists.

Here, because I try not to be a hypocrite, is a selection from my iTunes library:

iTunes 11 sample image

Avril Lavigne and Neil Diamond. Because I have no shame. While playing Christmas music from Pentatonix. (“Carol of the Bells” is awesome.)

iTunes 11 Header Bar

iTunes 11 Header Bar

This is the new header bar atop the iTunes 11 interface. Right now, it bugs me. I may get used to it, but here’s what’s annoying me about it right now:

  • The updating window in the middle has a gray gradient shadow thing that doesn’t feel natural. I guess they’re trying to give you the impression that that part of the window is concave, while the rest of the header bar is convex. The convex part works thanks to a very tiny gradient that you only notice if you look closely. (It’s brighter on the top half than the bottom.) But the concave part feels unnaturally shadowed somehow. It’s too dark under the top lip there.

  • That active convex portion of the window feels too crammed in. It needs a little more white space surrounding it, I think, particularly on the top and bottom.

  • It also feels like the rewind button is hanging out just a tad too far to the left. It shouldn’t be right under the green dot in the corner. It’s not, but it looks like it is. That makes the proportions seem just a bit off.

  • On the right side, the search box is too far to the right. Resize the window and pay attention to how the search bar moves. It stays pinned to the far right side, while the music controls on the opposite side stays pinned to the far left. The problem is, the search bar is narrower, so you wind up with a lot more lost negative space on the right side, and that unbalances the whole header.

I’m still exploring the new iTunes and trying to get used to some things. I am bothered at the way iTunes now thinks I have two subscriptions to the same podcast in the same way the iPhone App does. (I’m guessing one is subscribed from the computer, while the other was added on the iPhone. This is all related to iCloud, which I don’t use yet.) But I do like the way it segments music from podcasts from Audiobooks, etc, while pushing your connected devices over to a separate dropdown menu. That makes a lot more sense.

I also like the use of Helvetica. The overall look of iTunes 11 reminds me a bit of the Gnome desktop environment for Linux, oddly enough. The sidebar-less window looks a lot like an iPad app to me, too.

So, yeah, my thoughts are scattered right now. With time, I hope to pull them together better. . ..

How to Save Space on your Mac

While cleaning some files up last week, I found this batch of files:

iPod Update files are old and easy to delete

Two things to note here:

  • Since I bought an iPhone in 2009, I’ve not used an iPod. My father-in-law inherited that iPod, which died a couple of years later. I also replaced my PowerMac with an iMac a couple of years ago, so I obviously did a blind transfer of all files from one computer to the next.

  • Those files are pretty big. That’s over a half Gig of files for 11 updates over the course of two years.

Remember when the world was excited over a pocked computer that could only really play audio files? Sure, they added video playback and a few simple games, but everyone changed their lifestyles to include more music in their lives just because of the iPad. No apps. No video for a long time. No books. No websurfing. No Angry Birds.

The damned thing had a hard drive for most of its lifespan, too.

Life seemed to quaint then, doesn’t it now?

Oh, hey, one last thing: See the little circle/slash icons to left of all the files? Those updates were all from the PowerPC chip days of my PowerMac. They wouldn’t run today on my current Operating System. That makes them triply easy to delete.

Improving iOS

This is a good breakdown of some of the areas that iOS can still improve in. The two big ones for me are making it easier to access the power-draining features like screen brightness, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi, and iCloud simplification. I still haven’t turned iCloud on. Once I upgrade to Mountain Lion, I just might. For now, though, I’m less than sure of it.

Having communications between apps would be awesome, as would being able to define your default mail client and web browser. The latter isn’t on the list, but I’d like it to be. Hide it as deeply in the settings as you want, Apple, I’m OK with that. I wouldn’t be changing those back and forth all the time. But apps do have their own URL schemes, so the first step is already taken care of. Standardize those for mail and web apps, and let us make our choice. (I wouldn’t switch away from Safari, but I do enjoy Sparrow for email at the moment. I’d also like to replace “Read Later” with “Instapaper” across the board, if I could.

Also, and most importantly for me, personally, I’d like to see Podcasts app work. The other night, while it was sitting quiet in my coat pocket, I missed a phone call. After getting a notification that I had a new voice mail, the Podcasts app kicked on and started playing the podcast I was last listening to hours ago. I guess the app was sitting in memory still. But it’s odd that it turns itself on after any phone call ends, whether it was actually playing or not before hand. Frustrating. I can’t trust it to not play when I’m at my desk at work or in an elevator or something. Just bizarre.

And, yes, I will continue to harp on this until Apple finally fixes the Podcasts app someday. I’m not terribly inclined to believe it’s a high priority of theirs, though. What I need to do is dust off the podcast playing app I had created for myself and start using that again. I just dread the though of re-acquainting myself with the code. I was learning as I went along. It wasn’t always pretty… But it didn’t start playing for no good reason, at least!

iOS Feature Request: Calendar

When I type an event into the Calendar app, I’d like it to attempt autocompleting any names or locations I type in. Facebook does that as soon as I start typing a name in, with no signifier. Twitter does it after you type the “@” in and I think Google+ will do it after a “+”, but Facebook does it from plain text. It just knows you’re typing a name and gives you options from your contact list.

When I’m typing in an event in iOS 6 and start typing a name or location, I’d like for iOS to recognize that and offer up autocomplete suggestions in a dropdown. It might be more consistent with iOS standard right now to offer up one suggestion in the same way the autocorrect spelling does. That’d still be helpful.

For example, if I say the location for an event is “Robert MacGuffin’s House”, I’d like iOS to suggest “Robert MacGuffin” after I get to about “Robe”. That would be cool.

Just a thought. . .