The Calm Before the Storm; Thoughts on and hopes for Music Before its Launch

Music is launching tomorrow! Are you excited? I am. I already offered my initial impressions immediately after it was announced at WWDC 2015 and those impressions have remained unchanged. But before it launches, I want to get some additional thoughts out there.

The Beats 1 Launch

Tomorrow, June 30th, 2015, Apple Music will launch and Beats 1 Radio will broadcast live to the world for the very first time. This will mark a unique period in the history of Apple’s company and brand. Never before has there been a time in which there was a direct, constant, dynamic, multifaceted, and globally – and publicly – accessible voice representing its brand. That all changes tomorrow.

A Most Momentous Occasion

As you may know, Beats 1 will be a 24/7 global radio station produced and hosted by Apple employees Zane Lowe, Ebro Darden, and Julie Adenuga. Do you know of any other time when Apple employees did something like this? Never before has the public had access to the voices of Apple employees in this way. The only similar outlet I can think of is either Apple’s website or the Twitter accounts or personal blogs of its employees. The differences here are obvious and significant. Beats 1 will eventually be baked into every iPhone, making it more easily accessible; it will constantly be changing, and it will quite literally be composed of real human voices. When thought of in this way, its announcement does deserve the “One More Thing…”*

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Learn Swift L.A. Has Flown The Coop!

Attention Los Angeles: Learn Swift L.A. has just launched!

Whether you’re an experienced programmer or new to iOS Development, if you are interested in learning Apple’s new programming language, Swift, then Learn Swift L.A. is the place for you.

We are a weekly Meet Up group for Angelenos interested in learning Swift and Xcode for iOS Development. All experience levels are welcome. We are all about practical learning, not just talking. Each week, we dig deep into practical programming topics – not just abstract concepts – and we really learn how to make iOS apps with Swift.

Are you interested?

Join our Meet Up Group

&

Attend our first Meet Up

See you soon!

Apple’s Facebook Killer; Hopes for iCloud Contacts

Can Contacts on iOS and OS X be better?

The Rolodex used to be a prized possession. When you got fired or you quit, it was the one thing you made sure to take with you. You kept your contacts nice and neat. I used to type mine up and print them out, fold them up, and carry them in my pocket – always – and I was sure to keep them updated. We loved and respected our contacts.

These days, contact information is still important, but not immediately necessary. I’ll just look you up. Phone number, Email, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat… So many ways to get in touch. Do people even share physical addresses anymore?

We know so many more people these days, or at least we can. Who has time to manage all those contacts? I don’t. I want to. My contacts are a mess. Or at least it feels that way. Technology can easily solve this problem by providing more functionality, convenience, and a better user experience around contacts.

Some have tried to solve it. My Facebook friends are in my Contacts app, even my LinkedIn connections. There are plenty of other services and apps that have taken a stab at this. Have you heard of this Brewster thing going around?

Contacts are table stakes these days. They just live in my phone and in the cloud, frozen in time, waiting for me to use them, or change them. That’s not what real life is like, though. My contacts are real people. They live places, move around, feel up, feel down, change moods, numbers and addresses, change their hair, their likes, their dislikes, their…

And I have a history with them. I may have just met them or maybe I’ve known them for a while. Our relationship is defined or it isn’t.

Facebook is the closest to nailing this, but it’s not quite right, and it’s not what I want to use Facebook for. It’s not my Rolodex – at least not all of it.

And there’s also an undesirable trade-off between using a free and great service like Facebook on the one hand, and having to see ads and letting all this private data live on the web, on the other. My contacts are mine. My relationships are my business. I don’t want or need to have all this information live on Facebook’s servers just so they can serve me more targeted ads.

For the purpose of bringing Apple Contacts into the 21st Century, I propose two major goals:

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Apple Killed The Ad Star; Thoughts On Safari & the News App

Apple is the greatest chess player on Earth. They make the best and most calculated moves, offensive and defensive. Sometimes they release a new product or feature and most people are confused, unsatisfied, or disgruntled, failing to see the long term play. Then the following year or so, Apple releases another product or feature and it all makes sense. Their master plan is revealed.

In the context of the default News app that’s shipping with iOS 9, Apple is finally putting the last pieces in place for a circle of products, features, and developer technologies that could put a solid dent in the bottom line of companies built on web based advertising business models.

Apple is building on chess moves they’ve made since the release of the iPhone. The iPhone, like all of Apple, is a walled garden. Apple controls the default web browser, Safari, in addition to the entire user experience. Features like “Limit Ad Tracking” and others have been a part of iOS for a bit, but with iOS 9, Apple is releasing a new feature called Content Blocking that will ship with Safari and that is accessible by developers in the new Safari View Controller.

The big idea behind Content Blocking is that it’s possible to add something to the experience of viewing a webpage by taking something away.

– Classic Apple marketing. Ricky Mondello from Introducing Safari View Controller, Session 504, WWDC 2015.

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Is Apple a Hypocrite? Thoughts on News, i-Ad, and Privacy

After Apple’s announcement of its default news reader app, “News” that’s shipping with iOS 9, I learned that publishers will be able to monetize their News content using iAd.

Monetization is made simple with iAd, Apple’s advertising platform. Earn 100% of the revenue from ads you sell, and 70% when iAd sells ads for you. iAd provides campaign management, targeting and reporting capabilities that help drive your business.

– https://developer.apple.com/news-publisher/

Just one week prior to WWDC 2015 and the announcement of News, Tim Cook gave what Matthew Panzarino of Tech Crunch called a “Blistering Speech” on encryption and privacy. In that speech, Cook implicitly attacked companies like Google and Facebook when he stated:

I’m speaking to you from Silicon Valley, where some of the most prominent and successful companies have built their businesses by lulling their customers into complacency about their personal information,” said Cook. “They’re gobbling up everything they can learn about you and trying to monetize it. We think that’s wrong. And it’s not the kind of company that Apple wants to be.

– Tim Cook; Source: TechCrunch

On the one hand, Apple is taking on the role of the defender of Privacy, publicly saying that it does not sell its user’s data. On the other hand, Apple has simultaneously created a new platform that will allow publishers to monetize using targeted ads from Apple’s iAd platform. At first, this made Apple seem hypocritical, but after further thought, research, and analysis, I’ve come to realize that my initial feelings were mostly wrong.

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Hopes for an  Developer Education Initiative

When you visit Apple’s website, there is no easy way, if at all, to get to Apple’s Developer microsite. When you do visit the Developer site, there is virtually no information on how to learn to develop products for Apple’s platforms. There is plenty of information and resources for people that already know what’s up, but nothing for noobs like me on where and how to begin. I hope this changes.

I’m an outsider looking in. I have absolutely no computer science background, but I do have an interest in learning how to develop for Apple’s platforms. I want to join the club. I want to use all these amazing tools, technologies, and resources to make something amazing. So I go straight to the horse’s mouth to find out how, but when I visit Apple’s website, it seems to assume I already know how to program, that I’m already in the club. This is discouraging. This needs to change. Apple needs to make it easier for people to learn from Apple about how to be a developer for its platforms.

What can Apple do?

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Thoughts on and after WWDC 2015

So much was announced at WWDC 2015. I don’t want to recap everything. There are plenty of sites that do that. I want to give you some high-level impressions from what I think are the most interesting announcements from today’s Keynote and Platforms State of the Union.

First above all, this truly is a new Apple, Tim Cook’s Apple. Apple is more open and diverse than ever before, and yet they are still moving with laser focus. Today, we saw two female Apple employees speak at the Keynote.

For the first time since 1997, Apple included female employees in one of its keynote presentations, with Senior Vice Presidents Jennifer Bailey and Susan Prescott.

– InternationalBusinessTimes.Com

Apple also announced that store loyalty/rewards cards are coming to Pay & Wallet (formerly Passbook). This may seem small, but this requires at least some openness to allowing third party access to one of Apple’s most holiest of holies, its customer’s data and payment information. Neverthless, I am sure Apple is permitting this in a way that respects its walled garden to the max.

Apple then announced native third party watchOS apps. This was not surprising, but the fact that third party developers can create Watch face complications is, or at least that Apple has opened up that API so soon. Apple also announced Search APIs that allow content witching third party apps to be discovered on a system search level, i.e., Spotlight.

Lastly, Apple has Opened Sourced Swift. Developers in the room went nuts. Apple will also be accepting source code contributions.

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