January 17, 2015

Article: Down

As someone who is interested in technology, I often find myself lusting after gadgets that I don’t really need. While I feel like most purchases have been justified, there’s always the chance that something I purchase will end up sitting idle on a shelf or in a box after a few weeks or months. Last week, I learned a bit about how the idea of a fitness tracker really doesn’t appeal to me as much as I thought it would…

January 15, 2015

Link: The Forgotten iPod touch ☍

Stephen Hackett:

The iPod touch is a big hit for parents looking for lost-cost devices for their kids, but with the original, A5-powered iPad mini now for sale at just $249, the iPod touch is a harder sell. The iPad mini — with its bigger screen and better battery — is a lot better for games and videos, the two things kids do with these kinds of devices. Toss in that it’s much harder to lose a 7.9-inch device than a 4-inch one, and it’s not hard to see why the iPod touch may be losing out to the iPad mini.

I’d love to see Apple do away with their A5 products once and for all—in some ways, I think this is holding iOS back. Besides that, the iPod touch is a great product to have, but with hand-me-down iPhones and the iPad mini, it really doesn’t have a place. However, I would like to see Apple either make the decision to discontinue it or upgrade it to at least be on par with the iPhone 5s.

January 14, 2015

Link: Siri Improvements ☍

John Gruber:

I’ve noticed over the past year that Siri is getting faster — both at parsing spoken input and returning results. I use iOS’s voice-to-text dictation feature on a near-daily basis, and it’s especially noticeable there. I’ve been using a Moto X running Android 5.0 the past few weeks, so today I did a side-by-side comparison between Siri and Android’s Google Now, asking both the simple question, “What temperature is it outside?” Both phones were on the same Wi-Fi network. Siri was consistently as fast or faster…

I’ll agree with his assessment—I mostly use Siri for simple things that are easier to ask than dig through settings or apps (weather, timer, sports scores or standings, creating reminders, etc.) It sort of went from a gimmicky, sometimes-functional feature on my iPhone 5 in 2012 to something that will always work on my iPhone 6 today. I know it’s not hardware, as my iPhone 5 seemed to get better over time. Maybe it’s a mix of newer OSes, improved connectivity, and faster processing on the back end of things, but regardless it’s better. It may be easy to compare it to Google Now, but as Gruber said, the two services are vastly different. Still, it’s nice to see Apple making progress.

January 13, 2015

“The effortlessness of taking good pictures with the iPhone is probably that phone’s most underrated quality. And yet, its importance grows with every passing day.”

Review: CoolStream Bluetooth Receiver

CoolStream Bluetooth ReceiverWe reviewed CoolStream’s Duo a few months ago and have enjoyed most of its features and usability, but were curious about some of the other models in the lineup. As such, we took a look at the original version of CoolStream’s Bluetooth receiver, which sells for about $10 less than the Duo at $30. Is it worth saving a few bucks?

January 12, 2015

Link: The Software and Services Apple Needs to Fix ☍

Glenn Fleishman:

Even while it leaps forward with features in its operating systems, Apple has a huge installed base it drags with it. And even if, for instance, iTunes has been a terrible mishmash for a decade, the fact that it continues to be one with a major new release in 2015 is beyond the pale: Apple should be learning, not starting over and re-inventing when it comes to stability and experience. They can evolve to add Continuity and fix iPhoto, for instance; or ensure that months after release, its flagship Handoff feature works reliably.

Part of what makes these sorts of statements reasonable, though, is to enumerate the problems, whether they’re long-running or unique to Yosemite or iOS 8 (or to the last two releases of each system). Here’s a list of regularly recurring issues or fundamental problems I’ve seen supplemented by those provided by others…

Although Marco Arment’s original post stirred up some controversy, it has prompted a good dialogue for many smart folks to discuss the current state of Apple’s software. While the company is certainly not making things as fussy or unreliable as some things during the pre-OS X era, this list is a good starting point for things that really need to be ironed out sooner than later.

January 9, 2015

Review: Griffin iTrip Aux

Griffin iTrip AuxIf you were reading this site back in 2008, you might remember that we reviewed Griffin’s AutoPilot, a combination car charger/remote/audio interface for iPods, and later iPhones. For cars without dedicated iPod interfaces, but auxiliary inputs (or using a cassette adapter—this was 2008), this was a great one-cable connection that would charge the device and pull the arguably better line out signal. With the introduction of the iPhone 5, newer cars, Bluetooth audio streaming, and USB-capable car stereos, the AutoPilot started to seem unnecessary. That being said, Griffin has introduced its spiritual successor, the $50 iTrip Aux, an AutoPilot for the Lightning age…

Link: Eight Years of the iPhone ☍

Jason Snell:

Eight years ago today Steve Jobs got up on stage and introduced a widescreen iPod with touch controls, a revolutionary mobile phone, and a breakthrough Internet communications device: The iPhone.

Jason also mentions where he was during the event and shares some other memories, along with the obligatory YouTube clip of the entire keynote.