Apple’s Q2 2016 results

Jason Snell, Six Colors:

It was a tough quarter for Apple, at least as tough as a quarter can be for a company that made $10.5 billion in profit on $50.6 billion in revenue.

I’m so over Apple financials and the quarterly brouhaha that follows. But if you want a simple breakdown of Apple’s Q2 earnings, Jason has some fun charts.

Bottom line for me is that the company continues to make good products and shit tons of money. Obviously I want them to succeed in the market, and I’ll always keep a close eye on how their products are doing. Particularly the iPad, as Apple pushes harder to position it as a computer replacement. As for their stock price, I just can’t be bothered to care anymore.

I’m not the only one who doesn’t “get” Beyoncé

Jamie Lee Curtis Taete, VICE:

I don’t think I can do it anymore, guys. I have been living a lie. As a gay man with a lot of gay friends, I’d estimate that roughly 30 percent of my conversations are related to Beyoncé in some way. I went to Christmas parties where the only album played was 8 Days of Christmas, I made “poor Michelle” jokes, I even spent a month referring to the Superbowl as “the Beyoncé concert.” But I think I’m finally ready to admit it: I really, really, really just don’t give even the slightest of shits about Beyoncé. 

Yas. Queen. Nothing against any Beyoncé fans, this article just speaks to me.

Streaming Music-al Chairs

streamingmusic_errorsSince music streaming services are in the news again (for some reason) I figured now would be a good time to write about where I’m at with streaming music.

First, a little background. I jumped on the streaming music bandwagon with Rdio (R.I.P.) back in June 2013, long before Spotify came to Canada and way before Apple Music was born. I loved Rdio; it had a great catalogue with almost everything I cared about, and their app was gorgeous on iOS. From that point I knew I was hooked on streaming. Syncing MP3s to my iPhone through iTunes suddenly felt archaic, and I knew I’d never go back to that full-time.

When Spotify finally came to Canada in August 2014, initially in beta, I signed up out of curiosity. Many of my American nerd friends had been using Spotify for years, so I’d been hearing how good it was for a while. I liked Spotify, particularly the ability to sync local files to fill in the gaps in their library, but I wasn’t a fan of their app’s UI, which was pretty bad at the time. In June 2015, I switched again – ditching Spotify for the exciting newness of Apple Music, which I’ve been using ever since. There was a brief stint with Tidal’s free trial in there too, which lasted about a week.

Now, about my switching problem…

You see, I love apps, so much so that I sometimes have a hard time committing to one over another. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve switched between Pocket and Instapaper, Tweetbot and Twitter, or Spotify and Rdio and Apple Music. When it comes to music, I have a very emotional reaction to certain songs, but less of an emotional connection to my library as a whole. I find a song or album I like, listen to it until I find something new, and move on. So for me, switching music streaming apps isn’t a huge deal as I’m not particularly worried about losing anything.

Looking back through old email receipts, my timeline of switching music services looks something like this:

June 3, 2013: Subscribed to Rdio
August 12, 2014: Subscribed to Spotify
September 4, 2014: Cancelled Rdio
November 7, 2014: Cancelled Spotify, switched back to Rdio
December 13, 2014: Cancelled Rdio, switched back to Spotify
June 25, 2015: Cancelled Spotify, switched to Tidal
June 30, 2015: Cancelled Tidal, switched to Apple Music
November 28, 2015: Subscribed to Spofity…
…45 minutes later: Cancelled Spotify
April 10, 2016: Cancelled Apple Music, switched back to Spotify

Yeah. I’m a little crazy.

Since last June I’ve been using and (mostly) enjoying Apple Music. Apple Music’s greatest benefit is the ability to have streaming songs plus purchased music from iTunes and downloaded MP3s seamlessly together in one library, all with proper metadata and album artwork attached (which is very important to me). Yet, with its 1st birthday quickly approaching, Apple Music is still plagued with technical issues, and while the company has made improvements there are still some killer bugs to be squashed. On more than one occassion, iCloud Music Library has decided to turn itself off on my iPhone, wiping out my downloaded music in the process. Other users have had huge issues with incorrect metadata and song-matching. The last straw for me came a few weeks ago: I was on the subway heading home from work, without cellular or WiFi access, when Apple Music decided all of my downloaded songs were suddenly “not authorized” and refused to play anything. Force quitting the app didn’t fix the problem, nor did connecting to WiFi which I thought might force the app to “authorize” everything again. Nope. There I was, mid-way through my evening commute unable to listen to any music. This wasn’t the first time I had this issue either, but I decided it would be the last time. At least for now.

So I switched back to Spotify, and it’s fine. It plays music and their library has all the music I want – save for Adele’s 25. I have fallen in love with Discover Weekly, Spotify’s tailored, algorithm-driven playlist feature that updates every Monday with new music recommendations. It’s eerie how well Discover Weekly knows my taste, consitently delivering new songs that I love from artists I’ve never heard of. Still I’m not fully satisfied with Spotify; their app regularly takes 15 to 20 seconds to realize that my iPhone has a network connection, and I’m not sure why. I’m told it could be a network handoff issue, but the same happens on my iPad and MacBook – neither of which have cellular access. My home network isn’t the problem either, as Spotify takes its time connecting over LTE as well when I’m out and about. It’s annoying that I have to wait at all before I can listen to music in the app I use for listening to music. As for getting my Adele fix, Spotify does support local files so I can listen to my purchased copy of 25… without album artwork, which Spotify inexplicably doesn’t support for local files. That drives me mad.

Each service has other benefits as well. Apple Music works on my Apple Watch, so I can start playback and browse my library from my wrist. Spotify works with the Amazon Echo, which I don’t yet own but am intrigued by, and it’s nice to know that option exists should I ever cave and welcome Alexa into my home. Spotify also has a web player so I can access and stream music on my work computer, while Apple Music is stuck inside iTunes on the desktop.

I’m sure I’ll end up back on Apple Music following WWDC, where it’s likely the service will see some updates as part of iOS 10. For now I remain torn between two good music streaming services, neither of which is perfect in my eyes. My ongoing game of streaming music-al chairs continues.

Marvel’s Inhumans movie loses its release date

Nicole Sobon, MCUExchange:

In an interesting turn of events, it has just been announced that, as of now, Inhumans does not have a release date.

Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige has previously stated that Inhumans has been delayed, but not cancelled. I’m sure Marvel still has every intention of bringing the Inhumans to the big screen, but perhaps they’ve decided they need more time to figure out how. My guess is they want to see where the Inhumans storyline ends up on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and whether that may impact future movie plans.

Personally I hope Black Bolt and the rest of the Royal Family make their way to the MCU in time for Infinity War.

(P.S. MCUExchange is one of my favourite blogs right now. They cover all the news and rumours about the MCU, and I can’t get enough!)

Pearl Mackie is the Twelfth Doctor’s new companion

The BBC announced yesterday that Pearl Mackie will join the Doctor as his new companion, Bill, for Series 10 of Doctor Who in Spring 2017.

Along with the announcement came a short scene showing Bill and the Doctor in action. I have to say she makes a great first impression! Clearly adventurous, inquisitive, and humorous. I think Bill will be a fun new companion for Twelve and quite different than Clara before her. Bill actually reminds me of Rose a little bit. Can’t wait to see more next year!

Federico Viticci’s iOS 10 wishes and concepts

Federico Viticci, MacStories:

There’s never been a better time to be an iOS user. But that doesn’t mean that everything’s perfect. When it comes to iOS, happiness is often a fleeting moment – a temporary satisfaction with the current state of things before the inevitable longing for something deeper. Such is the constant pursuit of the future.

I almost wish I hadn’t watched Federico and Sam’s EPIC iOS 10 concept video. It’s so good and full of so many amazing, beautiful features that I’d love to see added to iOS… that Apple probably won’t add. Rich previews in iMessage, Documents app, better Split View with drag-and-drop, and more. I hope some of these actually do make their way to iOS in June.

Huge congratulations to Federico on publishing this great piece!

Apple announces WWDC 2016 to be held June 13 through 17

Apple PR:

Apple today announced that it will hold its 27th annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), hosting the creative talent behind the world’s most innovative apps, from June 13 through 17 in San Francisco. At WWDC, Apple’s developer community comes together from all corners of the globe to learn about the future of Apple’s four software platforms — iOS, OS X, watchOS and tvOS.

Monday’s kickoff events, including the keynote address, will be held at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. The rest of the week’s conference sessions will take place at Moscone West.

Nice of Apple to move the opening keynote from Moscone West to the larger Bill Graham Civic Auditorium (where last year’s iPhone 6S and iPad Pro event was held) so they can more comfortably accommodate all conference attendees and press. Of course we’re all expecting this year’s WWDC Keynote to be another big one, so maybe Apple’s planning to invite more people.

I want to write a longer wish list article for WWDC 2016, highlighting specific things I’m hoping to see in iOS 10, watchOS 3, tvOS, and the soon-to-be-renamed MacOS. For now: am I crazy to be hoping for hardware? Recent reports speculate that we might actually see the Apple Watch 2 announced at WWDC, which would be great. If I had to pick a wildcard, I’m hoping they’ll also update the 12.9-inch iPad Pro to bring it in line with its new 9.7-inch sibling. Pure wishful thinking on my part.

Apple Updates MacBook with Latest Processors, Longer Battery Life & New Rose Gold Finish

Apple PR:

The updated MacBook features sixth-generation dual-core Intel Core M processors up to 1.3 GHz, with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.1 GHz, and faster 1866 MHz memory. New Intel HD Graphics 515 deliver up to 25 percent faster graphics performance, and faster PCIe-based flash storage makes everyday tasks feel snappier — from launching apps to opening files. And now with up to 10 hours of wireless web browsing and up to 11 hours of iTunes® movie playback, MacBook is the perfect notebook for all day, on-the-go computing.

Apple also added a Rose Gold colour option, natch.

Sounds like a solid update for the MacBook. Curious to see what reviewers have to say about whether the faster processor and SSD make a huge real-world difference. I know from second-hand experience that the original 12-inch MacBook was barely powerful enough to use for podcasting and was prone to issues in that regard.

Per my friend Dan Bader, the updated MacBook starts at a hefty $1,549 CAD.

Can’t see myself ever owning this computer personally, but I know it’s a lot of people’s dream work and travel machine. Hopefully Apple pushing this out ahead of WWDC hints at a big keynote again this year.

Rumour: 2017 iPhone will feature “all-glass” design and AMOLED display

Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac:

In a new report by KGI’s Ming-Chi Kuo, the reliable Apple analyst claims that the iPhone will be seeing a major redesign in 2017, dropping the iconic aluminum casing for an all-glass enclosure with AMOLED screen.

It’s looking more and more like this year’s iPhone (despite being the tenth) will be a minor update to the iPhone 6S, with the next major redesign to debut in 2017.

Kuo is a very accurate Apple analyst these days, but I can’t imagine how Apple could make an all-glass iPhone. Perhaps iPhone 6-like curved glass on the front and the back with something sandwiched in between? Aluminum, polycarbonate, stainless steel, liquid metal… something. Otherwise this will end up as the most breakable iPhone yet, and we already know shattering is a huge issue and complaint for many iPhone owners.

Since I’m a blogger who doesn’t mind speculating: I bet glass on the front and back would be easier to waterproof than aluminum, too.

Apple may charge developers to increase their App Store search ranking

Adam Satariano, Bloomberg:

Apple Inc. has constructed a secret team to explore changes to the App Store, including a new strategy for charging developers to have their apps more prominently displayed, according to people familiar with the plans.

Great news: Apple now has a team dedicated to improving the App Store. There’s so much low-hanging fruit to tackle, like search and discoverability improvements, removing old outdated apps, or adding some kind of trial or demo functionality.

Horrible news: they’re considering charging developers to increase their ranking in search results. What a sleazy, Google move. The best apps are made by independent developers that can’t or don’t want to pay to increase their ranking. What’s more, they shouldn’t have to. Good apps should surface naturally, not because their developer paid to place them there. That’s only going to help shifty developers get their shifty apps more visibility. Gross. Let’s hope Apple realizes that.