Connected 41: Seven Minutes of Empty Exercise

This week, Myke, Federico and I follow-up on a bunch of various topics before discussing Spotify, Flipboard and Jony Ive’s new job title.

These awesome companies made it possible:

Google launches 'Photos'

Anil Sabharwal, Head of Google Photos:

Google Photos gives you a single, private place to keep a lifetime of memories, and access them from any device. They’re automatically backed up and synced, so you can have peace of mind that your photos are safe, available across all your devices.

And when we say a lifetime of memories, we really mean it. With Google Photos, you can now backup and store unlimited, high-quality photos and videos, for free. We maintain the original resolution up to 16MP for photos, and 1080p high-definition for videos, and store compressed versions of the photos and videos in beautiful, print-quality resolution.

There are some caveats to the “unlimited” storage bit, but all-in-all, it looks like this may give iCloud Photo Library a run for its money.[1]

Donate to App Camp for Girls 3.0

App Camp for Girls is one of my favorite things about our corner of the Internet. Their mission, while seemingly simple to understand, is of vast importance:

To empower girls by providing engaging and accessible educational programs in software development.

Their vision of gender equality in the software development profession is something we should all work together to realize.

The group is currently holding a crowdfunding campaign to take their work to the next level:

App Camp 3.0 is our vision for a sustainable organization that can expand throughout the U.S. and around the world:

  • Recruit and train new volunteer organizers to launch new locations.
  • Build out App Camp Kit, a collection of equipment, curriculum tools, and camp procedures that is essential to successfully launching a new App Camp location.
  • Establish our first paid staff positions for administration, operations, and curriculum development, along with a fundraising plan that will support our ambitious plans for expansion and outreach.

App Camp for Girls has already lined up donors who are matching the first $100,000 donated via Indiegogo, which means every dollar donated can go twice as far.

Additionally, Mac Power Users is matching the first $1000 worth of donations by their listeners. If you enjoy MPU, be sure to check out Katie's blog post about how to get involved.

I was happy to donate to this amazing cause, and I encourage you to do the same.

Kbase article of the week: Apple III: Apple II Emulation mode and RGB Video

Did you know this about your Apple III?

The Apple III's RGB color video outputs do NOT generate a color signal for High-Resolution Graphics in the Emulator. Apple II High-Resolution images are available only on the NTSC black and white and color video outputs.

On the left border of the high-resolution graphics screen, the dots flicker uncontrollably.

The advent and evolution of Apple's digital hub

Yours truly, over on iMore:

Like many people, the iPhone has replaced many consumer electronics in my home.

I no longer own a point-and-shoot camera, camcorder, voice recorder or dedicated music player. My iPhone is all of those items — plus more — in one, sleek, powerful and pocketable device.

In 2001, of course, the iPhone wasn't a thing yet, and many people had a whole shelf full of various dedicated devices. That year, Steve Jobs introduced the "Digital Hub" strategy, a cohesive plan to take all of those devices and make them more useful through the power of software.

Vox Media acquiring Re/code

Sydney Ember at The New York Times, with some big news in the tech journalism world:

ReCode, the news website led by the veteran journalists Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher, is being acquired by Vox Media, a deal that reflects the turmoil among digital organizations focused on covering the tech industry.

The all-stock deal, financial terms of which were not disclosed, would give ReCode access to a wider audience, something it has struggled to build since Mr. Mossberg and Ms. Swisher split off from The Wall Street Journal about a year and a half ago. Both plan to stay with ReCode after the merger.

Here's a bit from the announcement post on Re/code:

We plan as well to collaborate where appropriate with Vox Media’s current and very successful tech news site, The Verge. While the two sites occasionally overlap, we have focused on the business of tech, while The Verge has focused on covering tech from a lifestyle perspective.

Makes sense to me.

Latest OS X beta drops discoveryd

Benjamin Mayo:

The discoveryd process has been subject to much criticism in recent months as it causes users to regularly drop WiFi access and causes network shares to list many times over, due to bugs. Many developers, such as Craig Hockenberry, have complained about the buggy software and workarounds have been found to include substituting the older system (called mDNSResponder) back into Yosemite.

discoveryd would cause random crashes, duplicate names on the network and many other WiFi-relate bugs. In the latest beta, Apple appears to have applied the same fix as the enthusiasts by axing discoveryd completely.

While I'm sure there was someone at Apple who lost out in this decision, its the right one to make. OS X should be easier to live with now.

Jony Ive promoted to Apple's 'Chief Design Officer'

Stephen Fry, in a wonderfully-written essay about Apple's design boss:

Until now, Ive’s job title has been Senior Vice President of Design. But I can reveal that he has just been promoted and is now Apple’s Chief Design Officer. It is therefore an especially exciting time for him.

Inside the fabled design studio (cloths over the long tables hiding the exciting new prototypes from prying eyes like mine) Jony has two people with him. They too have been promoted as part of Ive’s new role.

One is Richard Howarth, English as Vimto. “Richard is going to be our new head of Industrial Design,” says Jony. “And this is Alan Dye, the new head of User Interface.” Dye is a tall, amiable American.

In the piece, Ive says that Howarth and Dye will help him with administrative and management work. With a larger product portfolio then ever (or at least since Jobs' return) and Campus 2 being built, there's no doubt that Ive is a busy man. My guess is that this move was to help alleviate that stress, while also planning for a future without Ive as part of the company.

The Brushed Metal Diaries: iSync

In the Brushed Metal Diaries, we take a look at one of Apple’s most unique — and most hated — user interface paradigms.

An Intro to iSync

For most Mac users in the early 2000s, the word "sync" conjured up visions of iPods and USB cables. However, while an Apple smartphone was years away, in 2002, Apple introduced a tool to sync contacts and calendar events to mobile phones: iSync.

Just check out all this brushed metal:

iSync — in many ways — was the quintessential brushed metal application. In it's Human Interface Guidelines, Apple said the UI appearance should be the defacto choice for applications that provided "an interface for a digital peripheral, such as a camera, or an interface for managing data shared with digital peripherals."

iSync's History

iSync was introduced in 2002. Here's a bit of the original press release:

iSync ensures that address books and calendars flow seamlessly from a user’s Mac to all of their digital devices and back. Rather than requiring a separate synchronization application for each type of device, iSync works with the latest Bluetooth mobile phones, PalmOS devices and iPod to keep all these devices up to date. As a result, iSync users will enjoy seamless mobile access to schedules and other crucial information on all the devices they travel with.

iSync would launch as a public beta two months after being announced. It required OS X Jaguar, and would ship built-in with several major versions of Mac OS X.

Steve Jobs spoke about iSync at Macworld Paris in September 2002. "The purpose of iSync," Jobs said, "is to synchronize our digital lives."

Here's what an early version of the iSync page looked like on Apple's website. On the page, the company boasted integration with these classes of device:

  • iPods
  • Palm OS-powered handhelds (the iSync Palm Conduit was required)
  • GPRS Bluetooth-enabled wireless phones (like the Sony Ericsson T68i)
  • Other Macs (a paid .Mac subscription was required)

iSync passed address and calendar information between these devices. This allowed users to add or edit data from the comfort of their desktop, and provided a backup of data that users would lose if their phones were stolen or lost. This, Jobs said, made the cellphone a peripheral to the Mac. With the iPhone still five years off, it's another example of Jobs having the uncanny ability to hint at the future when he himself probably didn't have a fully-formed vision in his mind.

iSync 1 would receive numerous updates, adding support for more devices.

iSync 2.0 shipped with OS X Tiger in April 2005. With this release, Apple made the hard work of syncing data between Macs the system's responsibility, leaving iSync alone with its ever-growing list of third-party devices.

iSync 2 received updates as part of 10.4.4, 10.4.6, 10.4.7 and 10.4.9, each time adding support for new devices.

iSync 3.0 shipped with Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, and 3.1 shipped with Snow Leopard, but few new devices were added in the time between.

While Apple supported a decent number of handsets, a growing third-party plugin community sprung up to extend the program even further.

As did all other brushed metal apps, iSync received a new UI with Leopard:

With Mac OS X Lion, Apple removed iSync from OS X altogether.

In Conclusion

While iSync never saw the wide-spread use of some of the other brushed metal applications, it was a critical component to many nerds' workflows. It's wasn't flawless — no sync system ever is, it seems — but it was one I relied on heavily. I used it for years to sync various Palm OS devices and iPods. In today's world of iCloud and Google's offerings, local Bluetooth sync seems old-fashioned, but it felt like magic at the time.