Jul 9, 2014

Jun - 25 2014 | By

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– They're tagged with #Zentech.
– When what's said is unclear to me (or I'm unfamiliar with a topic) I tend to quote (" ") verbatim.
– Editor's comments are delimited by < >

Glenn posted the audio for this show here.
Richard prepared some notes about todays show, a PDF file here.
I also appended his notes below . Not as pretty as his PDF but HTML makes it searchable.

 

Both Glenn & Paul were in the studio. The guest, Richard Hurley, talked about the Apple products and its operating systems — including the forthcoming iOS8 for the iPhone & iPad.

Contact Richard at:
rich@learnipadcourses.com
Find his courses at:
http://learnipadcourses.com/

 

Richard started teaching Mac OS about 5 years ago, when Snow Leopard was current, at Placer School For Adults. To help the overworked iPad instructor, he soon moved on to teaching that unit too. He deals a lot with multimedia on the iPad.

About iOS 8
– iOS 8 will not work on the very first iPad made.
– It will work on the 2nd iPad model but you'll be limited to the hardware features of that model — no Facetime, for example.
– Count the number of cameras your iPad has. If it has 2, you can use iOS8

About the iPad screen…
– It has a Retina display. There are 2048 pixels from one side of the screen to the other. It's similar to high quality magazine print.
– Retina is a patented term. The number of pixels is more than can be discriminated by the rods & cones in the eye. You'd have to use a magnifying glass to see them.
– All those pixels means better color control and control over shapes in the images. That makes reading much easier.

Glenn took a moment to acknowledge the members who support KVMR. If you'd like to become a member, please visit kvmr.org. Or you can call 530-265-9073 during music programs.

For a long time now Apple has been giving away their operating system upgrades for free, Paul said. He asked why that is. Richard said Apple makes its money on the hardware not the operating system. It's in Apple's interest to keep the developers happy when they create apps. The operating system acts as a catalyst for the production of apps when developers don't have to keep buying the latest operating system.
– Apple takes a cut — roughly 20% — from the apps sold at the Apple Store.
– The apps themselves "are cheap and represent an incredible value".
– At last count, 170 million iPads "are floating around the world". If just a modest percentage of those bought apps, that generates a lot of money.
– The apps force you to buy updates thru the Apple Store. A lot of people don't care for the monopolistic practice.
– Apple vets the apps for malware. So far that's worked out pretty well.
– There are many apps to choose from. You have to be persistent in searching for the app that meets your needs.

Richard mentioned a multimedia format Apple developed called iBooks. At first it was only available on the iPad. Apple has now incorporated it in their computers running the OSX operating system starting at Mountain Lion. He said iBooks is handy for running instructional multimedia for using the iPad directly on the iPad itself.

For a long time, Paul has heard that Apple has been trying to converge iOS and the Mac OS. He asked if they are any closer. Richard said they've made some progress and that iOS8 will bring them closer still. The "Launch Pad" feature gives the Mac OS an appearance similar to that of the iPad. And iOS8 is supposed to make the iPad & iPhone "sing" with the Mac (connect better with each other). With the forthcoming Yosemite OS for the Mac, you can take a phone call on your Mac that originally came to your iPhone, for instance. Yosemite is version 10.10 of the Mac OS that's expected to come out in the Fall.

Paul asked if Apple is working on a touch screen interface for the Mac. Richard said they already have the Magic Mouse, which has the swiping capability, but that doesn't involve directly touching on the screen like Microsoft's Windows 8. He hasn't heard of any attempt to bring the touch interface to the Mac. Glenn questioned the need for a touch screen on a desktop machine, if it already has a mouse & keyboard connected.

Paul asked Richard how the older folks are taking to his instructions. He said the older student seem to do well in class. His oldest student so far was 92. The iPad has accessibility features for those with disabilities (poor vision, etc.).

Paul asked how easy it is to get an iPad to drive a big screen.
– It's a piece of cake using the HDMI interface, Richard said.
– During his lectures, Richard uses an iPad to connect wirelessly to an Apple TV. What's on his iPad screen appears on the TV.

iCloud has expanded to store "anything and everything", in response to competition like Dropbox. It was implied that you'll need iOS8 or Yosemite to take full advantage. Currently you get 5gigs of storage for free on iCloud.

The other thing iCloud does is it allows your iPad to synch with your computer — Mac or PC (with the iCloud control panel).

Photo Stream works well with iCloud though it can be confusing to use. It provides a means for the pictures you take as you roam around, to appear on your computer at home. Richard is looking forward to Apple making it easier to use. He thought it would find a place in a Real Estate office where agents can take pictures of houses that will be stored on a centrally located server for others to access.

Paul asked how easy it is for photographers to work with the iPad. Richard said "you wouldn't want edit on the tablet". Professional photographers would likely use Photoshop for their editing because it can do so much and it runs on desktop computers. The iPad has some simple photo editing tools meant for the casual user but not for professionals.

Richard mentioned that the iPad has HDR (High Dynamic Range) built in. This is where the very bright & very dark areas of a photo are adjusted so you can see more details.

Paul asked why the iTunes program that runs on an iPad or iPhone is different from the version that's on the Mac.
– The versions for the Mac and the PC are similar.
– Originally iTunes was designed just to load an iPod music player with music.
– Since then, iTunes has been tasked to do so much more, including handling different types of data.
– Glenn said you cannot find "iTunes" on your iPad because it's called "Music". He thinks it's not intuitive and he's not very thrilled with it.

Paul then asked why not have Photoshop run on the tablet like it does on a Mac. Richard said it's because of the lack of memory — Photoshop is a resource hog. Also, the screen is too small.

Richard talked about Health Kit from Apple. It's a programming framework that will allow development of software for people who have health monitoring devices. It "will have the ability to turn their Apple into the monitor". Your Apple device will collect the data from the monitor and send it to your healthcare provider. Glenn said he's heard speculation that clothing will be made with electronics built in that can monitor bodily functions.

Looks like Apple is gearing up to enter the gaming market with the iPad, Richard said. They plan to improve the graphic efficiency of the iPad without any changes to the hardware. They want to do 3-D animation at high speed.

Glenn was impressed with the keyboard on Android devices. They have special keys for ".com" and ".org" but Apple doesn't. Richard said Apple did have that — it's appeared then disappeared. In iOS8, developers will be able to create specialty keyboards.

Also in iOS8 the keyboard will give you predictive text — it will predict what you want to type based on what you've typed so far. For instance, if you are writing to your boss, the language should be more formal than when you write to a friend and it will suggest words more suited to the situation.

 



 

Richard's Notes for Zen Tech radio show 7/9/14

[ The following notes were compiled by Richard Hurley for an interview with Paule and Glenn on their Zen Tech show of 7/9/14. The opinions expressed here are Richard’s, except at noted in the text.]

 

New OS releases generally have two audiences in mind: developers and the general public. Sometimes one audience gets more attention than the other. IOS 8 looks to me like a developer’s release. Not a lot of sexy stuff here for the public, but plenty for the development community. And ultimately, it is the development community that turns the iOS devices into useful tools.

iOS releases are free, so Apple doesn’t have to woo the public with flashy new features. Apple can feed its newest technologies to its installed base and let developers make what they can of it. This is a good model that Mac OSX has adopted with its Mavericks and Yosemite releases. Excellent news for consumers!

New Features by the pound

The iOS 8 SDK is supposed to include "over 4000" new developer APIs (Application Programming Interfaces). This doesn’t mean much, in itself – consider it Apple’s way of telling developers, "we care." It is when Apple starts discussing details that the shape of the iOS’s future begins to emerge.

 

Touch ID API opened up to 3rd-party developers (source 9TO5Mac)

Touch ID is a sensor on the iPhone 5S that stores fingerprint info on the phone’s A7 chip (not iCloud). This info may be used in lieu of password, though there is not a lot of enthusiasm at present. Probably will gain traction as part of 2-step ID process (password and fingerprint). Conceptually interesting, being combination of something you know and something you have. Should dramatically increase security, if public adopts.

 

3rd-party widgets now okay for the Notification Center

Notification technology has been important in Mac OSX since Mountain Lion (Mac OSX 10.8). Apple apps like Reminders and Calendar notify you of upcoming events and relay the messages, via iCloud, to your iOS devices. Now, 3rd-party developers can get into the notification game, too. Imagine eBay telling you that you just got a new bid on something you want to sell. Or your doctor’s office reminding you that you’re due for a checkup. Or Facebook notifying you that someone has commented on your comments. Under iOS 8, you will be able to reply by double-clicking your notification.

If you ask me on-air if this is progress, I will say rude things. Then, I will remember that notifications can be strangled in your Settings app – and regain my composure.

 

3rd-party keyboards (source iOS 8 UK)

Apple’s keyboard is pretty good. Now we’re going to see if 3rd-party developers can do better. I don’t see a downside, here. Everybody gets to jump in. Meanwhile, Apple is rev’ing its own keyboard to include a new "predictive text" system"

"The technology suggests what word you're likely to type next based on past conversations. It also takes into account how you write to different people – so iOS 8 will understand that when talking to your boss you use formal language but when talking to your friend you use informal language. Apple said the predictive text technology would allow people to compose messages and emails ‘with a few taps." (Quote from www.expertreviews.co.uk)

 

Most of us old fogeys will find this feature annoying…until we learn to use it. For a generation raised on texting, this is just another step in technologicallyassisted communication – a journey that began with the stylus. What is genuinely interesting about it is that Apple’s hardware and software can now track and respond to language in real time. Human language is extremely complex. That Apple has analyzed it to a depth to allow instantaneous interaction is truly remarkable.

 

HealthKit (framework)

This new programming framework allows health and fitness apps to communicate with each other. This is a joint venture with Mayo clinic. Example: allows your blood pressure app to share data with a physician app. Apple says they can "securely pair devices throughout the house." We’ll see. Given the highpowered partnership, I think we are looking at the birth of a new model of home-based health monitoring, with doctors’ office getting a steady data stream from people who need special care. And yes, the security issues are formidable.

Data that can be collected: "heart rate, calories burned, blood sugar, cholesterol, sleep patterns and more…"

 

Ability to easily control individual or groups of devices throughout the house including integration with Siri. For example, you can tell Siri you are "going to bed" and it could dim the lights, lock your doors, close the garage door and set the thermostat. This kind of technology has been around in rudimentary form for ages, but its adoption by Apple may give it a big boost.

Swift (new programming language)

Apple’s online hype says, "Swift is a powerful new programming language for iOS and OS X that makes it easier than ever for developers to create incredible apps. Designed for Cocoa® and Cocoa Touch®, Swift combines the performance and efficiency of compiled languages with the simplicity and interactivity of popular scripting languages." I can’t comment on this except to say that the hype is meaningless. The idea of compiling scripting languages has been around since the Flood. I mean, what else are you supposed to do with them?

Cocoa is the native development environment of Mac OSX. Cocoa Touch is the equivalent for iOS.

 

The following three bits of hype suggest that Apple is gearing up iOS to compete with dedicated gaming platforms:

 

"Metal" (a new graphics technology for gaming)

"Maximizes performance on the A7 chip." Apple claims 10 x improvement in draw call speed.

 

SceneKit (a new graphics technology for gaming)

"Making it easy to create fun 3D games."

 

Major improvement to SpriteKit (gaming)

Includes field force modeling, "per-pixel physics," and inverse kinematics (or IK). (IK is a set of math formulas used in 3D modeling. It lets you simulate the motion of complex skeletons based on stopping and starting points.)

============

 

iOS 8 to Mac OSX "Continuity"

Owners of Mac computers can use Handoff, a service that allows you to start an email on your Mac and finish it on your iPad (and vice-versa). This functionality is available throughout the whole Apple software suite (Mail, Safari, Pages, Numbers, Keynote, Maps, Messages, Reminders, Calendar and Contacts). Developers can build the feature into their apps as well.

Continuity also turns your Mac into an iPhone. When your iPhone rings, your

Mac or iPad will start ringing as well. (The call answering feature requires your iPhone on iOS 8 to be connected to the same Wi-Fi network as your Mac.)

 

Fun factoids picked up while researching:

There are, according to Apple, more than 800 million iOS devices sold. This is odd, because I’ve heard that there are ≈ 170 million iPads floating around out there. Are there really 630 million iPhones and iPod Touches loose on the planet?

Again from Apple: "iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch customers have access to the revolutionary App Store, which offers more than 1.2 million apps in 155 countries around the world. The App Store receives more than 300 million visitors each week and iOS users have downloaded more than 75 billion apps."

Somebody is playing with numbers here, because the last I heard, there were something like a half million apps for the iPad. Do we really have nearly 3/4 of a million separate apps for iPhones and iPod Touches?

In any event, there are indeed a lot of apps. I don’t think even Steve Jobs could have imagined the localization of apps that this implies. Lucky us! Every tiresome little TV news department now has its own app to annoy us with, first thing in the morning. I guess that is progress…

 

Yosemite notes

New Mac OSX release is free, like Mavericks. Does this represent a new model of OS releases? iOS releases are free. So was Mavericks, the last Mac OSX release. So will be Yosemite, the next OSX release. Apple seems to have given up the idea of raising money with it OS’s – unlike MicroSoft.

This makes sense. If you charge $$ for an OS upgrade, you have to woo the consumer with a bunch of features. "Here are all the reasons you should stop using Windows 7 and switch to Windows 8!" We all saw how that worked.

By giving away its OS’s, Mac is giving its developers assurance of a substantial base of adoptees, which means that developers have more incentive to go for the Next Feature Set. It’s a great model.

In the Windows world, by contrast, developers are facing large islands of users who settle in on a particular version and don’t upgrade. Win 7 is still dominant, was released in 2009. That’s the equivalent of Mac OSX 10.6, Snow Leopard.

 

Adopts iOS look ’n’ feel

Flat fields of color, semi-transparent backdrops are evidently here to stay. This represents continuing effort by Apple to get OSX users familiar with iOS. (Formerly, iOS had a toehold in LaunchPad (the Mac app-launcher). One rather obscure, out-of-the way play for Mac users to get a taste of iOS drag & drop folder creation.

 

ICloud Drive

Apple’s iCloud storage implementation was weak compared to Dropbox. Icloud was formerly accessible only through apps. (Apple was trying to restrict doc types.) Now open to any kind of document. Don’t know if new iCloud can be accessed from Finder. If it is, it will be much easier to manage than old.

 

Handoff

Mac and iOS devices can pick up on last open item and resume work. So, if you are banging along in Pages and take off for Starbucks, you can complete your work on you iPad. File this under so-what. In the past, all you had to do was save your work to iCloud, and you could resume at will.

 

Phone and SMS

If your iPhone is within Wi-Fi range of your Mac, you can now make and receive iPhone calls on your Yosemite Mac. Ditto text messages, both SMS and iMessage. All your iPhone traffic can be handled on your Mac.

 

Widgets for Notification Center

This is going to be big for 3rd-party developers. People who want to be connected to specific info sources can now have them wired into their Notification Centers. As it is, Mac users can get notices from info services (like 9to5 Mac). Under the new scheme, 3rd-party apps take up permanent residence in your Notifications.

 

Custom Actions

This is a sleeper that isn’t getting much press. Here’s the blurb from Apple: "Apply an effect from a photo-retouching app to an image you’ve opened in Preview. Or get a quick language translation from one app while you’re writing in another. With Actions, developers can give you access to the capabilities of their apps from anywhere in OS X — without having to launch the app." This sounds a bit like the old OpenDoc idea, or perhaps more like the Services feature of Finder. I haven’t found much use for Services, yet, but I can imagine other people might. Keep an eye on this one. It’s all in the implementation.

 

Share Menu Extensions

App developers now have access to the "Share" menu, which is the catch-all menu that Apple doesn’t know what to do with by way of naming convention. Sometimes it’s a Share menu, sometimes its an Action menu. The former term is too specific, the latter is too vague. In any case, the icon looks like this:

 Share menu icon

As a graphic and interface design fan, I’ve got to feel for the Apple engineers here. There is no right answer. It’s horrible to see them thrash.

 

Gaming

Apple is making all the right noises about making a good game environment: SpriteKit (enhancement of 2D gaming), SceneKit (3D), and integration of iPhone game controllers. ("Simply connect your iPhone or iPod touch to the controller and it’s ready for use with any supported Mac game.") File under increased integration of iOS & Mac OSX.

 

Developer tools

New items include Swift (new programming language), Xcode 6, CloudKit. I need to look at all of these before I comment. Most interesting Apple blurb followed these in Apple’s online info:

 

"Shared Frameworks Between OS X and iOS

The days of wishing an app for your iOS device were available on your Mac — and vice versa — are numbered. Now it will be easier than ever for developers to share more code across the two platforms, while still building customized experiences for each one." Interestingly, clicking on this announcement sent me straight over to the iOS hype about their 4000 new APIs for iOS developers. I take it from this that Apple isn’t ready to step forward with details here. I’ll be curious to see what develops here. Apple itself had to re-write the iWork suite from the ground up to sync its desktop versions to iOS offerings. Is Apple now claiming that this will be easier for others to do? Stay tuned.


 Last Updated 8:50 PM 7/12/2014