May 23, 2016

Link: Apple to Replace iPads With MacBooks in Maine Classrooms ☍

Tim Hardwick for MacRumors:

Apple and the Maine Department of Education have offered to swap school iPads for MacBooks at no additional cost, after it emerged that students and teachers overwhelmingly favor the use of laptops in class.

According to a report in the Lewiston-Auburn Sun Journal, schools in Auburn and other districts in Maine are set to benefit from the “Refresh” swap, following surveys of students and teachers across grades 7 through 12, which revealed that 88.5 percent of teachers and 74 percent of students preferred laptops over iPads.

iPads were perceived to have poor educational value in the classroom and were often used to play games in class, while laptops allowed students better opportunities for school work. The preference gap widened even more when it came to older students, who saw laptops as better devices for coding and programming tasks.

Although I know there are many, many teachers that work hard and put in way more time than their paychecks reflect, it sounds like a handful from the original article are morons with technology. You can’t turn an iPad into a viable education device for the classroom? Once again, the iPad gets dinged because it’s not a “real computer” and it sounds like some of the teachers and administrators wrote it off before they took the time to learn about some of the content-creation capabilities. Besides that, one could assume that nobody planned the deployment, instead leaving the iPads fully open for students to do whatever they wanted. Although I applaud Apple for sticking their neck out to keep the the Maine Department of Education as a customer, I worry the MacBook deployment will be just as sloppy. Furthermore, what makes anyone think students won’t play games or socially loaf on their MacBooks?

May 21, 2016

Link: Lenovo Teases the Next Moto Phone with a Gloriously 2000s RAZR Ad ☍

Jacob Kastrenakes for The Verge:

Lenovo put out an ad this afternoon teasing the unveiling of Motorola’s next… something… that’s all about reliving the Razr’s incredible success in the mid-2000s. The phone really was everywhere. And as a former high school student who owned a Razr (which broke after like a year, by the way) and maybe had long hair, I gotta tell you, this ad is speaking to me in a very embarrassing way.

I used quite a few different phones in the mid-2000s, thanks to the ability to swap SIM cards easily, and the RAZR always had a place in my heart. The operating system wasn’t very good, especially contrasted with the Sony Ericssons I used, but the form factor and industrial design were excellent. For nostalgia’s sake, I really hope Motorola Lenovo does something exciting, rather than just release some sort of slim Android phone and slap the RAZR name on it. I’d love to see a minimal “second phone” that had some data capabilities, but wasn’t intended to replace your bigger, regular phone (much how some are using an iPhone SE in tandem with the iPhone 6S Plus).

Link: Why I Still Use the Admittedly-Awful Messages ☍

Rob Griffiths:

But even beyond that—even if Messages were so abysmal it lost 50% of the messages I sent and often force rebooted my devices and remotely spilled my milk—I would probably continue to use it. Why? Because Apple isn’t in the business of making money off of who I talk to, what I talk to them about, or what devices I use to do that talking. Apple wants to sell devices, not data about how people are using Apple’s devices.

The anti-iMessage grumbling has started picking up steam, and while there certainly aren’t as many “fun” or handy features (GIFs, short URLs), it works well enough for my needs and still avoids the fragmentation of various instant messaging services of the ’90s. If I’m texting someone with an Apple device, iMessage works and gives us a few features. If I’m texting someone on a different device (or with poor connectivity), it falls back on SMS, a reliable mechanism. Plus, if I am using iMessage, I know exactly where Apple’s interests lie, much like Griffiths pointed out in his post.

Link: Ditching the iPhone for Android N ☍

Ry Crist for CNET:

These are the sorts of tangible upgrades that keep today’s phones feeling fresh. Android N’s focus on VR seems like a smart bet, and Instant Apps looks like the next big step for the mobile web. I was most impressed with what I saw from the new Google Assistant, with conversational intelligence that sits right at the forefront of where we’re at with voice-powered AI. Those are all things I want to experience and be a part of.

I certainly can’t disagree with his rationale that new things over at Google are exciting, especially for those that love to tinker with technology. That being said, a narrative has started to develop that the iPhone needs feature x or else it’s done for and miles behind what is happening with Android. While there certainly are pain points in iOS, it gets out of the way and Apple slowly increments. Although Android N does have some impressive features, a lot of the very early items still feel like the gimmicks that Samsung introduced in the past and sent the tech press in an anti-iPhone spiral.

May 19, 2016

Link: New Touch ID Rules ☍

Glenn Fleishman for Macworld:

When iOS 9 was released, Apple updated its list of cases in which iOS asks for a passcode even when Touch ID is enabled. A previously undocumented requirement asks for a passcode in a very particular set of circumstances: When the iPhone or iPad hasn’t been unlocked with its passcode in the previous six days, and Touch ID hasn’t been used to unlock it within the last eight hours. It’s a rolling timeout, so each time Touch ID unlocks a device, a new eight-hour timer starts to tick down until the passcode is required. If you wondered why you were being seemingly randomly prompted for your passcode (or more complicated password), this is likely the reason.

I think this is a good move, as it not only forces people to actually remember their passcode, but it also increases the chances that you’d need your passcode to unlock a device that has been sitting around for a bit. This may be beneficial in areas where you are legally forced to use your fingerprint, but not your passcode.