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Stephen Hackett's weblog about Apple, Apple history, technology, journalism and design.

Paczkowski: Apple wearable months from shipping

Over on Re/code:

So that new wearable device Apple is introducing on September 9? It’s going to be a while before anyone is actually wearing it. Sources in position to know tell me it won’t arrive at market for a few months. “It’s not shipping anytime soon,” said one. So when does Apple plan to ship its eagerly anticipated wearable? That’s not clear, but my understanding is that we’re unlikely to see it at retail until after the holiday season — think early 2015.

A delayed release makes sense on a bunch of levels, including giving developers time to prepare apps for the platform.

If this new device is months away from shipping, it would also help explain the suspicious lack of leaked details, especially from parts suppliers in Asia.

September 9

Juli Clover:

Apple today issued invitations for its upcoming iPhone 6 event on September 9, which is also said to include its much-anticipated wearable device. According to the invitations, Apple is planning to host the event at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts at De Anza College in Cupertino, the same location where Steve Jobs introduced the original Mac 30 years ago.

For the occasion, it appears that Apple has been building a massive structure on the campus, which has been kept under tight wraps with a white barricade.

Well, this should be exciting. From what I've seen on video, the Flint Center is pretty big; I can't imagine what Apple needs more square footage for during or after an event that would be boring.

Quotebook 3

Quote keeping is a problem with a thousand possible solutions.

Quotes can be stored in apps like Vesper, Simplenote, Evernote or even Google Docs. But the data entry sucks, and there's no relationships built across pieces of data. There's no structure to the data, leading to messy storage.

Take Evernote for example. I rely on it daily as my Anything Bucket. It does a good job at doing lots of things. It's a generalist.

Generalists are boring.

Quotebook 3 by the handsome young men at Likability is not messy or boring. Some of the best apps on iOS are ones that do very specific things. Quotebook is in that class.

The new version of the universal comes with super fast iCloud syncing, the ability to import quotes from Tumblr and Facebook and share them with Tweetbot, Day One and more.

Because Quotebook is a specialist, however, it's fine-tuned to the work of collecting and reviewing quotes. Here's the entry screen:

The app can pull in names from the device's contact list, and sources from song titles from your music library. Tapping on a source or name brings up all related content, and with tags, it's easy to organize quotes across categories or topics.

Quotebook 3 is $4.99 on the iOS App Store.

Smile announces TextExpander custom keyboard for iOS 8

Maia Olson at Smile Software:

We've been hard at work since Apple announced the new and exciting extensions and custom keyboards available in iOS 8.

TextExpander touch 3, coming on the heels of iOS 8 this fall, includes a TextExpander keyboard which can expand snippets in any app on the iPhone or iPad, including built-in apps such as Mail and Safari.

Hot damn, my iOS devices are about to get a lot more useful at work.

Dropbox overhauls Pro offering

This morning, Dropbox announced a revamped approach to the company's Pro offering.

Instead of the tiered structure in place before, all Dropbox Pro users will now have 1 TB of space on the service for $9.99/month or $99/year.

The new monthly price matches Google Drive's monthly cost for the same amount of storage. Paid annually, Dropbox is actually cheaper.

In addition to the increased space, Pro users can set passwords and expiration dates for shared links and view-only permissions for shared folders. Lastly, Dropbox Pro customers can remotely unlink and remove a Dropbox folder from a lost computer.

I've used Dropbox Pro for years, and store a ton of data on the service. It's good to see the company taking Google on in price and storage, and the new features are more than welcome.

Follow-up on the possibility of ARM-based Macs

Matt Richman really wants Apple to ship ARM-based Macs. Let's look at his latest points:

1. User Experience Would Improve

Richman — who discloses that he owns 56 shares of Apple and 50 shares of ARM — writes:

If Apple’s chip design team can create a phone processor that performs on par with Intel’s fastest tablet chip, the company’s “highest priority”, then there’s no reason to believe that the same team at Apple can’t design chips powerful enough for any Mac in the company’s lineup.

Maybe. As discussed, it's not as simple as cranking the processor machine to 11 and standing back.

He continues:

Apple has already released a line of A-series chips tailored specifically for iOS devices, and the company is most definitely working on a line of B-series chips tailored specifically for Macs. When that B-series chip — or set of B-series chips that runs in parallel — is ready, Apple will be able to switch to ARM-based Macs without sacrificing user experience. On the contrary, because the company is no doubt designing its line of B-series chips in tandem with Mac OS X, there would be iPhone-like hardware-software optimization, improving user experience.

Initially, ARM-based Macs would be a step backwards in terms of user experience. Even if Apple could ship a ARM-based Mac that's as fast x86 Macs, Apple would be sacrificing Windows compatibility, which is a huge deal for many business users, including yours truly.

Additionally, going with ARM would give Apple a slightly better opportunity for "iPhone-like hardware-software optimization," but the truth is that Apple is already heavily involved with the design of the Intel-powered hardware inside its Macs. The MacBook Air sleeps and wakes nearly as quickly as an iPad, and the Mac Pro sings a tune that no generic PC can.

2. Apple Would Make More Money Per Mac And Sell More Macs

Going from chip concept to manufactured product can be broken down into two separate and distinct steps. The first is chip design — figuring out what features the processor will have and how it will work. The second is manufacturing — turning a file that exists on a screen into a physical product you can hold in your hand.

Today, Intel designs the chips in Macs and manufactures them, profiting on both of those steps. But if Apple substituted Intel’s chips for its own ARM-based designs, an external company would profit on only one step of the chip creation process, not both, leading to a decrease in the cost of building a Mac. By my conservative estimate, Apple would be able to drop the price of the base model 11- and 13″ MacBook Airs by $50 and still make more profit per unit on each than it currently does.

As John Siracusa spoke about in episode 77 of ATP, Apple would face significant issues in fabricating a Mac-caliber desktop ARM chipset. Intel wouldn't bump their own production back to do it, and while Apple does have a shit-ton of cash, it may not be able to spin up a fab shop easily, let alone cut prices on machines.

3. Apple Would Be Able To Create Better Macs

There are clear advantages to Apple using ARM chips in their machines. Battery life could be insane and the things could run cooler than ever. There's even this, which I haven't thought about in quite a while:

Apple wouldn’t have been able to create Touch ID if the iPhone were powered by an Intel chip instead of an Apple-designed one. There wouldn’t have been a “secure enclave” on the iPhone’s processor to store the fingerprint data, nor would there have been perfect hardware-software integration. Apple was able to implement Touch ID because it designed the A7 chip in tandem with the iPhone 5S’s software and the rest of its hardware.

Touch ID would be killer on a Mac, but it's not enough to change the reality that in 2014, the possibility of an ARM-powered Mac shipping anytime soon seems low.

The best VPN client for iOS and OS X

Bradley Chambers over on The Sweet Setup:

Public Wi-Fi is great way to download podcasts, movies, and music when on the go without burning through your data cap. Even checking Twitter and sending emails can start to add up if you’re away from home a lot. Public Wi-Fi isn’t always secure, though.

The solution? A VPN service, and Bradley has some great advice on which one to use.

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