Apple’s Tim Cook & Eddy Cue on the Beats Deal

 

Apple’s Eddy Cue via Mark Gurman’s Live Blog:

Cue said Apple bought Beats because “music is dying. It hasn’t been growing.” He said combining the two companies will help it grow again […]

Cue said what makes Beats good is that it provides users with curated playlists.

He said: “When you bring what Beats has got and what we’ve got it’s not two plus two is four. It’s something much more than that” …

Getting your music via subscription is the future and Cue alludes to iTunes stagnant position and a new direction.

Peter Kafka Talking to Tim Cook:

We get a subscription music service that we believe is the first subscription service that really got it right. They had the insight early on to know how important human curation is. That technology by itself wasn’t enough — that it was the marriage of the two that would really be great and produce a feeling in people that we want to produce.

It’s not about the headphones. It’s about the streaming service and the talent.

Apple to live stream ‘exciting’ WWDC keynote on Monday

 

Mark Gurman:

Apple has updated its website to announce that it will be live streaming next week’s WWDC Keynote address for all to watch. As per usual, the event will be available on Macs running Safari 4 or later, iOS Devices running iOS 4.2 or later, Windows machines running Quicktime 7, and via an application on the Apple TV. The event kicks off at 10AM Pacific/1PM Eastern time on Monday, June 2nd. Apple says that it has “exciting announcements” in store for the event (as it says for all of its events), which is likely to include talk of iOS 8 with Healthbook, a redesigned OS X 10.10, and new hardware products.

Google Stories: Photos and Videos Find New Life in Automatically Generated Photo Albums

 

WSJ:

As you swipe through, the captions slide out from behind photos, and the pictures move up and down along the timeline, giving the story a bit of motion. Google can add in video or automatically generated “Auto Awesome” GIFs to the timeline as well, as long as they’re in the source album. After the story ends (with a slide that says “The End,” of course), viewers can leave a +1 or a comment, or share the story if you’ve decided to share it publicly.

You can also ad a caption to each photo in your Story—Google calls them “narratives.” Google Inc. If you have any photos loaded into your Google+ account, Google will automatically sort through your pictures and turn them into stories based on when they were taken. Eidelson has photos from as far back as 2005, and the system generated stories for those old photos too.

If it works as good as it looks, Google might be onto a winner here. Automatic uploading of your photos from your iPhone/Android device with the best way yet I have seen of viewing and sharing your photo collection.

Facebook’s iOS app now listens for identifiable TV & music when posting status updates

 

AppleInsider:

Facebook on Wednesday launched a new, optional feature that allows its iPhone application to use the device’s microphone to listen for and identify television and music content when posting a status update.

The new feature will make it easier for users to say that they are watching a particular show or listening to a certain song, then share that information with their friends. Upon updating the Facebook app, users are presented with an explanation as to how the feature works, and are given the option to turn it on.

To utilize the new listening option, users can begin to create a status update, then click the “mood” icon. The app will then begin listening to identify any content playing, and users can then select the song or TV show to quickly share it with their friend.

If a user decides to turn off the feature, they can do so by tapping the audio icon at the top right of the screen. But if the functionality is left on, the audio icon will move and attempt to detect a match when a user is writing their status update.

Shazam!

Review: iKettle – The World’s First Wifi Kettle!

 

Yesterday I took delivery of the iKettle – a new type of kettle that unlike 99% of the other kettles on the market, is advertised as a wifi-enabled device that can be controllable by your iPhone or Android device, made by a company called Smarter Apps.

Design kettle side

Upon removing the iKettle from the packaging, it comes in 2 pieces. You have the base which has the coil for the kettle to sit on and connect to which houses the power cord and the buttons to control the device manually. The second piece is the actual kettle itself, made from stainless steel which has a nice finish and for which you can also buy different coloured ’skins’ so that you can customise the look to suit your tastes. On top of the device is a hinged plastic lid which opens easily with the touch of a button, enabling you hold the kettle and open the lid with one hand whilst you use your spare hand to manage the tap. It’s a small but important detail that too many other kettles fall down at due to removable lids. The iKettle holds a maximum of 1.8 litres which upon examination with my existing kettle, proved to be able to store more water and therefore less re-fills! The indicator to show you how much water it can hold, is on the inside but is easily viewable when filling the iKettle with water and is not obscured which again is another positive over most kettles.

Design kettle top png

Upon connecting the base unit to the power socket and switching it on, there is a standby button on the base which pulses a red light to indicate that it is in standby mode. After filling with water, I easily connected the iKettle to it’s base and pressed the standby button. At this point, you could hear it starting to boil the water and on the base there are several buttons alluding to different temperatures that you can choose to boil the water at – I left it on the default 100c. Whilst inspecting the buttons, I also noticed a keep warm button which states in the manual that after boiling the water, it will aim to keep the temperature of the water the same for 20 minutes which works by re-boiling the water (only for a few seconds) so you don’t have to completely re-boil the kettle if you were not ready to pour when it initially finishes it’s boiling cycle which is another positive.

I wouldn’t say that iKettle was any faster or slower than any average kettle for the time it took to actually boil the water, in fact I am sure there are kettles on the market which can boil water quicker than the iKettle but the whole point of this kettle is the convenience and the fact that you can remotely activate the iKettle to start boiling when you are somewhere else in your home or office!

Nexus 22

Which leads me onto the accompanying iPhone app. Once you have downloaded the free app from the App store, upon first use of the app you are guided via on-screen instructions on how to connect the iKettle to your existing wifi network. Upon successful connection, you get a nice user interface with touch screen buttons to be able to turn on and off the iKettle, keep warm, change temperature settings etc. If you access the menu within the app, you will discover more settings where you can have the app automatically prompt you at set times of the day to whether you would like the app to tell the iKettle to start boiling the kettle. It also has another feature where you can set your home location between certain times of the day and your phone will recognise when you have arrived home and will prompt you with a ‘Welcome home, shall I pop the kettle on?” message where you can then tap yes to start the iKettle boiling remotely. You can customise the app so that it can give you notifications on when to refill the iKettle and when it has boiled, when it’s not attached to the base etc.

Upon using the product for the last 24 hours, I have noticed that it would be nice for the iKettle to automatically turn on at certain times of the day rather than at the moment where it just prompts you to turn on at certain times of the day – you still have to tap yes in the app but upon speaking with their customer support today, they did confirm that feature is being worked on for the next release of the app which will be a free software update via the App Store.

 

Product Features:

  • Control your iKettle via your mobile device
  • Easy one-touch set up
  • Wake up and Welcome home mode/Timer
  • Choose from four temperature settings
  • Keep warm feature keeps the iKettle at your desired temperature for up to 30 minutes
  • Super easy to clean – removable filter and no internal element
  • Auto shut off with boil-dry protection
  • Stainless steel design with soft-touch handle
  • LED backlit control panel
  • iKettle skins:
    • Available in Blue, Green, Pink, Taupe & Yellow
    • Match your kettle to your kitchen
    • Reduces the risk of accidental burns
    • Insulates, keeping your water warmer for longer
    • Lovely soft-touch feel silicone
    • Simple to fix and remove
  • Connectivity:
    • Wireless 802.11b/gx
    • WPA/WPA2
    • Works on Android 4+ and Apple iOS7+
    • Requires a 2.4Ghz router
  • Power:
    • Has a standard 3-pin UK plug
    • Voltage 220-240V
    • For use outside of the UK, the iKettle will require a transformer to bring the voltage to 220-240V (not included)
    • Frequency 50/60Hz
    • Power input 1850-2200X
  • Box Contents:
    • iKettle
    • WiFi Base Unit

Dimensions:

  • Kettle Capacity is approximately 1.8 Litres
  • Box Measures approximately 21cm(W) x 24cm(H) x 20.5cm(D)
  • Weighs approximately 1.6kg


 
Pros:

  • Fantastic Remote Control
  • Boil Dry protection with prompt to refill with water
  • Quality, polished feel to the design
  • Simple, effective reliable accompanying app to control
  • Better than average water capacity
  • One handed re-fill operation capability
  • Choice of different colour skins to customise to your own taste
Cons:

  • Needs automatic scheduling to turn on rather than prompting (being worked on)
  • 4-5 minutes boil time from cold
  • Standby light constantly pulses when not in use

Summary

Overall, I am very impressed with the world’s first wifi kettle and it has lived up to my hopes and expectations since pre-ordering the product earlier this year. The potential for 3rd party developer integration with existing home automation products like SmartThings and Wemo etc., all point to an exciting future and this is another device and appliance than can be controlled within ‘The Internet of Things’. It is a niche product, there is no denying that but as I said, integrating this type of device with existing automation technology and to see how developers can further the experience, points to an exciting future – as long as they stop for tea breaks.

Nest’s Tony Fadell: No Ads on Thermostats

 

Liz Gannes:

So Fadell, who is speaking next week at our Code Conference, tried to clarify the matter. “Nest is being run independently from the rest of Google, with a separate management team, brand and culture,” he said in an emailed statement. “For example, Nest has a paid-for business model, while Google has generally had an ads-supported business model. We have nothing against ads — after all Nest does lots of advertising. We just don’t think ads are right for the Nest user experience.”

Google had earlier said that the filing published today was submitted prior to its acquisition of Nest. The specific wording said, “a few years from now, we and other companies could be serving ads and other content on refrigerators, car dashboards, thermostats, glasses, and watches, to name just a few possibilities.” This was in a section where Google was trying to justify why it doesn’t break out numbers for mobile advertising revenue from other advertising by saying that phones are just one of very many integrated platforms.

Google had earlier put out a statement saying something similar, though perhaps it means more coming directly from Fadell. “We are in contact with the SEC to clarify the language in this 2013 filing, which does not reflect Google’s product roadmap. Nest, which we acquired after this filing was made, does not have an ads-based model and has never had any such plans.”

Panic over – for the moment. For customers who were worried about Google’s purchase of Nest and their thermostats, this should come as a relief for the foreseeable future. Fadell has created such a great product and Google just wants to own it, not interfere with it. For now.

iOS 8 changes Needed: Photos and Camera

 

Serenity Caldwell:

Apple’s Photo Stream brought effortless image backup to the masses, but it came with a major limitation: Only the most-recent 1000 photos are stored on the company’s servers. To sync more photos, you need to hook Photo Stream up to your Mac. In addition, deleting Photo Stream images is an arduous process, and one that deletes only the version of the photo stored in Photo Stream—not the copy in your Camera Roll.

Wouldn’t it be nice if this message came up when deleting images from your Camera Roll?

So let’s, again, simplify. Your Camera Roll should be your Photo Stream—any image you take on your iPhone should be backed up to the cloud. If you want to sync other albums, pay for more storage. Both Loom—recently acquired by Dropbox—and Picturelife offer large paid storage lockers for images, and I’m hoping Apple might take a page from these startups. iPhoto for the Mac is all well and good, but it seems silly that we’re manually syncing our photo libraries via USB to get our images. Let’s move this to Apple’s servers—even if it comes at a monetary cost.

Auto-backup for the Camera app could also solve the “duplicate photos” problem between Photo Stream, iPhoto sync, and Camera Roll. Currently, even if you delete a screenshot from your Camera Roll, you have to delete that image again in Photo Stream to remove it from the servers and your Mac. If your Photo Stream backup were your Camera Roll, deleting once would delete everywhere.

I echo Serenity’s points – deleting photos twice, once from Camera Roll and then again from Photo Stream is tiresome and is exactly why most folk having all their photos stuck on their iPhones, taking up storage space and not knowing the best way to manage them. Apple has got to look at this issue soon – even Google are making their photo management solution attractive.