December 8, 2018

“The biggest threat to the Mac isn’t iPads, Chromebooks, or Windows 2-in-1’s — it’s apathy towards what makes great Mac apps great.”

Link: ECG Feature on Apple Watch Series 4 Saving Lives ☍

/u/edentel on Reddit updated his Apple Watch to watchOS 5.1.2 and found out he had a heart condition immediately after the update, confirmed by doctors:

Doctor comes in, looks at the screen, looks at me and says “You should buy Apple stock. This probably saved you. I read about this last night and thought we would see an upswing this week. I didn’t expect it first thing this morning.”

I sort of expected a few stories like this, as many people probably have some sort of unknown health conditions that are surfacing with the more sensors and devices we can get at home. Although there’s always the chance for false positives, it seems the ECG sensor is that good that you should err on the side of caution if something seems amiss.

In most of the developed world, healthcare is generally thought of as inexpensive and readily available. In the United States, that’s not the case, but having more data about ourselves can’t hurt, especially if debating about if we should go see a doctor or not.

December 5, 2018

Link: Hulu and AT&T Seriously Considering Ads When Paused ☍

Brian Steinberg for Variety:

Imagine an ad for soda or beer that comes on the screen just as you decide to stop the action during a run of an episode of “Black-ish” on Hulu to go to the kitchen for a snack, or a pitch for toilet paper that begins to move in the moments before you choose to halt the video stream for a bathroom break. And yet, there’s no guarantee viewers will welcome “pause-vertising” any more than they do the current crop of 30-second pitches.

Some outlets are willing to bet they will. “As binge-viewing happens more and more, it’s natural they are going to want to pause,” says Jeremy Helfand, vice president and head of advertising platforms for Hulu, speaking of modern-day couch potatoes. Hulu intends to unveil what it calls “pause ads” in 2019. When a user chooses to stretch, or get a snack, he says, “it’s a natural break in the storytelling experience.”

AT&T also has hopes to use the pause to lend new momentum to TV advertising. The company, which owns DirecTV and U-verse, expects to launch technology next year that puts a full-motion video on a screen when a user decides to take a respite. “We know you’re going to capture 100% viewability when they pause and unpause,” says Matt Van Houten, vice president of product at Xandr Media, AT&T’s advertising division. “There’s a lot of value in that experience.”

I previously used AT&T’s DirecTV Now and currently use Hulu’s live TV service. Like many, most of the time I’ll pause content for a break in the content, but also a break in sound—a quick phone call, conversation with someone in the room, looking at a detail on the show/movie, etc. I hope there’s backlash if these turn out to be video ads. Plus, with even more ads I’d seriously consider canceling my service and going elsewhere.

December 4, 2018

Link: Microsoft Shares Holiday Ad Promoting Surface Go Over Apple’s iPad ☍

Mitchel Broussard for MacRumors:

Microsoft this week shared a new ad on its Microsoft Surface YouTube channel, this one aimed at promoting the Surface Go. As the ad begins, a little girl stares into the window of a Microsoft Store and begins singing about her preference for the Surface Go over Apple’s iPad, to the tune of the song “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.”

She sings, “Grandma don’t run out and buy an iPad, it was fine when I was six but now I’m 10. My dreams are big so I need a real computer, to do all the amazing things I know I can.” Microsoft’s ad is aimed at Apple’s own “What’s a Computer?” ad campaign, which began in 2016 and showed off a few of the things that the iPad Pro can do as a replacement to a traditional laptop computer.

I think there’s a lot of things Microsoft does well (ironically enough, I adore their iOS apps), and getting their jabs in at competitors at just the right time also seem to be a talent. A few years back, they went after Google and there have been a few little snide comments in ads about the Apple products over the years. This ad plays right into the, “Is the iPad a real computer?” argument that we’ve been seeing all over since the introduction of the current iPad Pro. It’s a tad annoying and cheap, but then again so is the Surface Go.

Jokes aside, it’s weird that the Surface Go is often positioned to compete with the iPad Pro, but is probably better matched with the entry-level iPad (and still smoked in terms of raw performance). Unfortunately, what many of these arguments fail to realize is that even with its flaws and shortcomings, iOS on the iPad works really well for some people, just as I’m sure having a traditional Windows environment would work really well for other people.

December 3, 2018

Link: It’s the Beginning of the End of Satellite TV in the US ☍

Ashley Rodriguez for Quartz:

“We’ve launched our last satellite,” John Donovan, CEO of AT&T Communications, said in a meeting with analysts on Nov. 29.

The AT&T executive effectively declared the end of the satellite-TV era with that statement. AT&T owns DirecTV, the US’s largest satellite company—and second largest TV provider overall, behind Comcast.

DirecTV will continue offering satellite-TV service—it had nearly 20 million satellite video subscribers as of September, per company filings. But the company will focus on growing its online video business instead, Donovan said. It has a new set-top box, where people can get the same TV service they’d get with satellite, through an internet-connected box they can install themselves. It expects that box to become a greater share of its new premium-TV service installations in the first half of 2019. It also sells cheaper, TV packages with fewer channels through its DirecTV Now and WatchTV streaming services, which work with many smart TVs and streaming media players like Roku and Amazon Fire TV devices.

I can’t say I’m surprised, as costs for a company running a satellite TV service can start to add up, especially when they happen to own other kinds of infrastructure or can piggyback on any Internet connection. Cable companies loved running smear campaigns against satellite, but as someone who grew up with it in both the large C-band dish forms and later with DirecTV’s current product before jumping around with a few streaming services, it generally worked pretty well and can exist in areas where cable TV service may not. The trend to streaming can’t be ignored, but I’m sure AT&T wishes they had paid attention to this prior to dropping $49 billion on a slowly sinking ship.