28 June 2014

Link: Facebook Conducted a Psychology Experiment on Some Users ☍

William Hughes for The A.V. Club:

Scientists at Facebook have published a paper showing that they manipulated the content seen by more than 600,000 users in an attempt to determine whether this would affect their emotional state. The paper, “Experimental evidence of massive-scale emotional contagion through social networks,” was published in The Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences. It shows how Facebook data scientists tweaked the algorithm that determines which posts appear on users’ news feeds—specifically, researchers skewed the number of positive or negative terms seen by randomly selected users. Facebook then analyzed the future postings of those users over the course of a week to see if people responded with increased positivity or negativity of their own, thus answering the question of whether emotional states can be transmitted across a social network. Result: They can! Which is great news for Facebook data scientists hoping to prove a point about modern psychology. It’s less great for the people having their emotions secretly manipulated.


27 June 2014

Link: Apple to Stop Development of Aperture (and iPhoto) ☍

Jim Dalrymple:

“With the introduction of the new Photos app and iCloud Photo Library, enabling you to safely store all of your photos in iCloud and access them from anywhere, there will be no new development of Aperture,” said Apple in a statement provided to The Loop. “When Photos for OS X ships next year, users will be able to migrate their existing Aperture libraries to Photos for OS.”

The new Photos app will also replace iPhoto, giving users a more seamless experience on Apple devices. The app will allow you to edit and search your entire photos library in the cloud on any of your Apple devices.

I can criticize iPhoto and Aperture in a number of ways, but have enjoyed that they both made large strides to try to keep photos organized. I remember that original version of iPhoto was the first that I used—Apple dropped a CD into the box with the iBook I bought in February 2002. While there were a few missteps along the way, I did appreciate the ability for iPhoto and Aperture to share a library. Still, it will be sad to see a powerful tool like Aperture (which I was only starting to fully take advantage of) go by the wayside after years of stagnation.

Review: Supertop Castro

CastroFor a lot of people, Apple’s Podcasts app will be a great way to listen to podcasts. Others may want more power with apps like Instacast, Downcast, or PocketCasts. After using a mix of Apple’s app and Instacast, I decided to give newcomer Castro a try, a $4 iPhone-only podcast app by Supertop that aims to provide a new design and only the most important features…

26 June 2014

Link: Cheap iPod touch Gets Camera, Color Options ☍

Looks like Apple is trying to simplify the lineup, unload some extra inventory, or just get more iPod touches in the hands of everyone:

Apple today announced its 16GB iPod touch is now available in vibrant colors and equipped with a 5 megapixel iSight camera for just $199. The entire iPod touch lineup features the 5 megapixel iSight camera with 1080p HD video recording, brilliant 4-inch Retina display, Apple’s A5 chip and FaceTime camera. iPod touch features an ultra-thin and light anodized aluminum design and is available in pink, yellow, blue, silver, space gray and (PRODUCT) RED. iPod touch comes in a 16GB model for $199, 32GB for $249, and 64GB for $299.

For those keeping score at home, the iPod touch is sort of a weird mix of iPhone 4 (5 megapixel camera), iPhone 4S (A5 processor), and iPhone 5 (long display) and hasn’t had an update since the iPhone 5 was released…unless you count the prior low-end model.

24 June 2014

Link: Essential ☍

Federico Viticci:

A decade ago, with no iPhone, no mobile Internet, and no apps to help me along the way, I would have probably ended up risking my life trying to stop a car on the highway to ask for help at 1 AM. Yesterday, the iPhone allowed me to stay safe, call the police, and give them my exact position in a matter of seconds. The apps that I use every day provided a solution to a real problem that could have turned out much worse. I was constantly connected with other people and information I needed was only a few taps away.

Amen to that. A couple of years ago, I was driving with a friend and shredded a tire on the freeway late at night. We ended up using our iPhones to illuminate changing the tire and navigate back home along less busy roads since we were riding slowly on a donut spare. Although not as scary as Viticci’s story, I still saw the value of a do-everything connection to the world…even if that was an EDGE connection in the country.

20 June 2014

Article: On the New iMac: If It’s Good Enough for the MacBook Air…

I wasn’t originally going to write about the new low-end iMac, but I found myself talking with some geek friends about it over the past few days. It’s such a fascinatingly odd machine that I thought I’d weigh in on some observations…

Link: Amazon’s Whale Strategy ☍

Ben Thompson (via John Gruber):

The question, though, is if the Fire phone is perfect for Amazon’s customers. Just because someone loves Amazon doesn’t mean their entire life is about buying things. And while it’s true that Amazon has gone to great lengths to make the Fire Phone compelling as a phone, it’s still an inferior offering as compared to a high-end Android phone or especially an iPhone when it comes to things like apps. In this respect it’s fair to compare the Fire Phone to Facebook Home and the HTC First: just because people love Facebook didn’t mean they wanted Facebook to dominate their phone, and by extension, their lives.

Moreover, I was troubled by the faint sense of hubris in yesterday’s presentation; it was 45 minutes too long and included far too much self-congratulation and navel-gazing. We get that the design process for Dynamic Perspective was hard, but that doesn’t mean we care. More broadly, Amazon is a horizontal company: they ought to be serving everyone. Having their own phone introduces the wrong sort of incentives when it comes to Amazon’s efforts on Android and the iPhone; it’s the same danger I see in Microsoft focusing on both services and devices.

I watched coverage of this event on a few sites, and also ended up being bored about halfway through. While I enjoy Amazon and was excited to see their phone offerings, I felt that too much time was spent on the multiple cameras and 3D effects with Dynamic Perspective. It doesn’t really offer something that will change my life or solve something that my almost two-years-old iPhone 5 can’t. Although Firefly looks like a great feature, the rest of the device seems to be more of the same (design, price, features), and I just keep find myself asking “Why?”

Link: Steve Jobs and Sushi ☍

Buster Hein for Cult of Mac (via MG Siegler):

Before Jobs died in October 2011 he made one last hire – Toshi Sakuma. With the fast-paced lifestyle weighing on him, Sakuma decided to sell the restaurant. Unable to find a quick buyer, Jobs offered Sakuma a job at Caffè Mac where Apple employees can still go to enjoy the sushi Jobs loved for a quarter century.

The restaurant was set to close on October 7th, and according to Nobi, Jony Ive’s secretary scheduled a reservation and mentioned a special guest (presumed to be Jobs) would be joining. A cancellation soon followed when news of Jobs’ death broke.

Kaygetsu’s last day of business was the same day as Steve’s funeral.