Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Posts Tagged ‘apple

Bixby’s Store

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Happy Monday morning, Happy Independence Day (Short) week here in the U.S.

So there’s more coming out re: Jony Ive’s departure from Apple. 

From a TechMeme headline summarizing a WSJ piece: Jony Ive was dispirited by Tim Cook’s lack of interest in the product development process and frustrated inside a more operations-focused company

If it’s TL;dr for you, the article feels human-centric design got pushed to the margin after Jobs’ moved on, and supply chain- and ops-centric Tim Cook was focused on what he did best, which was NOT human-centric design.

The key question is, what happens next, and it’s probably too soon to tell. But considering that the companys last major innovation on Ive’s watch (and post Jobs) was the Apple Watch, which  introduced on April 24, 2015…well, it may be about time to introduce something new and innovative. 

Can they? Will they? As President Trump likes to see, “We’ll see what happens.”

Meanwhile, on the Samsung front…that company has launched its Bixby Marketplace, which is a dedicated store where third-party developers can offer their own Bixby-compatible services. The store is now open for both US and South Korean customers.

Think of Bixby as Samsung’s Siri or Alexa equivalent.

More about the new store:

The marketplace is available through the main Bixby page on Samsung phones, though the company eventually intends to include it as part of the main Galaxy app store. Through the marketplace, users can search for services — which Samsung calls “capsules” — that enhance Bixby.

These capsules are categorized by type, such as “travel and transportation,” “food and drink,” “sports,” “shopping,” and “productivity,” and many well-known apps are featured at launch, including from Spotify, Uber, Google Maps, Yelp, and YouTube.

And there’s much more.

Recent funding rounds..Industrial AR headset maker RealWear raised an $80M Series B…Israel-Based NeuroBlade AI chip maker raised a $23M Series A with support from Intel Capital…Zero-commission wholesale marketplace Tundra announced a $12M Series A…China-based robotic process automation startup Laiye raised a $35M Series B…and AI-based fraud detection and prevention system provider for banks raised a $10M Series A.

Written by turbotodd

July 1, 2019 at 10:18 am

Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes at Apple

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Big news at Apple this week…Longtime creative guru Jony Ive will be leaving Apple later this year after more than 20 years at the company. Ive is leaving to start LoveFrom, his own creative agency, and has already landed apple as its first client.

Daring Fireball noted “this dropped like a bomb,” apparently because nobody in the media had been given a heads up. Uh, this is Apple we’re talking about, when do they ever warn the media about anything of significance.

John Gruber continued::

It makes me queasy to see that Apple’s chief designers are now reporting to operations. This makes no more sense to me than having them report to the LLVM compiler team in the Xcode group. Again, nothing against Jeff Williams, nothing against the LLVM team, but someone needs to be in charge of design for Apple to be Apple and I can’t see how that comes from operations. I don’t think that “chief design officer” should have been a one-off title created just for Jony Ive. Not just for Apple, but especially at Apple, it should be a permanent C-level title. I don’t think Ive ever should have been put in control of software design, but at least he is a designer.

I don’t worry that Apple is in trouble because Johnny Ive is leaving; I worry that Apple is in trouble because he’s not being replaced.”
Another reaction, from Stratechery:

I understand Gruber’s angst. It is precisely that sort of dictatorship, first and foremost in the person of Steve Jobs, that made Apple, Apple. Again, though, I think Ive is in part a cautionary tale: he did his best work under Jobs, while the last few years have been more fraught from a design perspective; if Ive was not entirely up to the task of being the ultimate arbiter of all things Apple, who can be?
That is why the conclusion I had after WWDC feels more applicable than ever: it is less that Jony Ive is leaving Apple, and more that Apple, for better or worse, and also by necessity, has left Jony Ive and the entire era that he represented. So it goes.

Others reported that I’ve had only been coming into the office twice a week since the release of the Apple Watch in 2015… hey, the only constant in the tech industry is change. Enough said.

But there’s more change at Apple. The Mac Pro, which had been touted by Apple CEO Tim Cook as having been manufactured in the U.S. (right here in Austin, actually), will now be outsourced to Quanta Computer Inc. in China.

Why this matters? From The Wall Street Journal:

While the Mac Pro isn’t one of Apple’s bigger products, the decision on where to make it carries outsize significance. Apple’s reliance on factories in China to manufacture its products has been an issue for the company, especially under President Trump, who has pressured Apple and other companies to make more in the U.S.

The spin:

Final assembly is only one part of the manufacturing process,” [an Apple] spokesman said, adding that the company’s investments support two million American jobs. The Mac Pro is Apple’s most powerful computer, used primarily by a small group of professionals working in industries such as film and videogames.

The global supply chain for tech manufacturers is a long and winding Silk Belt and Road!

Meanwhile, back on the AI front: Somerville, Massachusetts has become the second U.S. city (behind San Francisco) to ban facial recognition usage in public space. From Vice:

The "Face Surveillance Full Ban Ordinance," which passed through Somerville’s City Council on Thursday night, forbids any “department, agency, bureau, and/or subordinate division of the City of Somerville” from using facial recognition software in public spaces. The ordinance passed Somerville’s Legislative Matters Committee on earlier this week.

The ordinance defines facial surveillance as “an automated or semi-automated process that assists in identifying an individual, capturing information about an individual, based on the physical characteristics of an individual’s face,” which is operationally equivalent to facial recognition.

Now if someone could just find an AI bot to clean up all the poop in the streets of San Francisco!

Written by turbotodd

June 28, 2019 at 12:12 pm

Posted in 2019, apple, artificial intelligence, china

Tagged with , , ,

Apple Drive

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It’s already Wednesday?

I’ve got a jet plane to catch, but before I did, I wanted to convey a couple of stories that caught my eye.

First, back to the “Chimerica” trade wars.

The New York Times is reporting that U.S. tech companies that include Intel and Micron have found ways to sell millions of dollars of products to Huawei despite the Trump administration’s ban.

How?

Industry leaders including Intel and Micron have found ways to avoid labeling goods as American-made, said the people, who spoke on the condition they not be named because they were not authorized to disclose the sales.

Goods produced by American companies overseas are not always considered American-made. The components began to flow to Huawei about three weeks ago, the people said.

The sales will help Huawei continue to sell products such as smartphones and servers, and underscore how difficult it is for the Trump administration to clamp down on companies that it considers a national security threat, like Huawei. They also hint at the possible unintended consequences from altering the web of trade relationships that ties together the world’s electronics industry and global commerce.

And…Apple says it has acquired autonomous driving startup, Drive.ai, as well as hiring dozens of the company’s engineers and taking over its autonomous cars. 

The company was once valued at $200M, and Axios reports this deal and the hires “confirm that Apple hasn’t given up its autonomous driving project.”

No purchase price was disclosed.

Let’s hope this isn’t the road to nowhere for Apple and its autonomous driving strategy.

Written by turbotodd

June 26, 2019 at 9:37 am

No Slackers

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Greetings from my South Austin bunker on a hill.

There’s an onslaught of relevant tech news this AM. First, let’s cover off the mo-nay situations.

Slack is expected to go public today, and it’s direct listing reference price has been set at $26. That would value Slack at roughly $15.7B

In case you didn’t know what a direct listing is, The Wall Street Journal explains:

In a

direct listing

, a company simply floats its existing stock onto a public exchange without raising any money or using underwriters. The company doesn’t choose an IPO price or who gets to buy in the night before trading begins, as is the case in a traditional IPO. Spotify Technology SA, which made its trading debut in April 2018, is the only other major company to go public via direct listing.

I think, therefore I Slack. All day, every day.

So, good luck, Slackers everywhere.

You know who’s not Slack? Apple, which, according to a report from Nikkei and as reconnoitered in The Verge, is looking at moving between 15 and 30 percent of its hardware production out of China and has apparently asked key partners like Foxconn, Pegatron, and Wistron to “evaluate the available options.”

The catalyst for the shift is the ongoing trade war between China and the US, which is expected to intensify at the end of this month with the

introduction of 25 percent tariffs

on devices including phones, laptops, and tablets. However, Apple reportedly wants to shift production regardless of whether the trade dispute gets resolved.

Florida’s Riviera Beach has decided to pay $600K in ransom to hackers that took over its computer system. It was a classic email spearphish attack that led to ransomware situation, and, according to a report from the AP, spokeswoman Rose Anne Brown “said Wednesday that the city of 35,000 residents has been working with outside security consultants, who recommended the ransom be paid.”

I guess that whole “We don’t negotiate with terrorists” thing is an outdated trope when it comes to the cyber realm, because it appears more and more municipalities are paying the ransom, as opposed to just saying “No.” Call me old fashioned, but just saying “Yes” simply invites more such attacks.

And yes, the payment is being made via Bitcoin.

Closing on a positive note. Fresno-based Bitwise Industries, which offers training for software developers, has raised a $27M Series A round led by Kapor Capital, which will allow the firm to potentially expand its training to other unusual suspect, underserved cities for tech (like El Paso, Texas, and Knoxville in Appalachia).

As James Fallows writes in The Atlantic:

“Some people have had opportunities by accident, and others do not,” she said [Irma Olguin, from venture firm New Voices Fund]. “We need to make those opportunities less a matter of chance and serendipity, and more a matter of deliberately creating opportunities and exposing young people to different possibilities for their lives.”

Written by turbotodd

June 20, 2019 at 10:52 am

Salesforce Acquires Tableau, Raytheon to Merge With United Technologies

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M&A Thursday has segued into M&A Monday: Salesforce is buying data visualization firm Tableau for $15.7B in an all-stock deal.

This just a few days after Google announced it was buying analytics startup Looker for $2.6B.

Somebody’s going to need a good analytics visualization tool to analyze all of these sudden big analytics M&A deals!

Also in AI news, network analysis and cyberattack AI firm Vectra has raised a $100M Series E round led by TCV, which brings the company’s total raise to $220M, according to a report from SiliconANGLE.

UK-based Privatar, a data privacy software provider for the enterprise, raised a $40M Series B round led by Accel.

Spacemaker, AI for architects, urban planners, and property developers, raised $25M in a Series A co-led by Atomico and Northzone.

And Bloomberg is reporting that Apple is preparing to do an “acquihire” of self-driving startup Drive.ai. That company has raised about $77M and last valued in 2017 at $200M.

Lest you think those are large deals, let’s not forget the giant merger in the aerospace and defense industries announced over the weekend, the combination of United Technologies and Raytheon.

Raytheon and United Technologies’ aerospace businesses produce a whole slew of aircraft and defense technologies, including Pratt & Whitney engineers, Tomahawk missiles, and the F-35 fighter jet.

If approved, the merger would become one of the biggest deals of 2019, and would leave a company with an estimated $74B in expected sales for the year…and a landscape with a much smaller short list of defense contractors (Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Raytheon are at the top of that list).

Written by turbotodd

June 10, 2019 at 10:21 am

Apple Blah

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You know you’ve lost some enthusiasm about technology when the most excited you got at Apple’s “dub-dub” (WWDC) keynote was “dark mode.”

I’ve read lots of folks commentary on Twitter and parts beyond claiming this was the best keynote presentation since Steve Jobs left the stage.

Yeah, I don’t think so.

Don’t get me wrong, it was competently done, but I saw a lot of nibbling around the edges and not nearly as much new innovation I would have expected.

But I’ve been around this industry for a wee bit, maybe I’m just jaded. 

Or maybe I’m just already pretty happy with the Apple technology I have.  

I do my daily work on a 2013 MacBook Pro, I have my own personal Macbook Air (circa 2011), an iPhone 7+ with a cracked screen that still works fine, a first-gen Apple Watch, and a first-gen iPad Air. I couldn’t be more of an Apple fan boy. 

But I also don’t like doing real work on the iPad (other than email and a little writing) because I miss not having a mouse too much (although Apple intimated that mouse action would be included in the iPadOS soon, and is already in beta), and I don’t like reading books on the MBP because for me, that’s what iPads and iPhones are for!

Last year, we heard at WWDC that Project Marzipan was going to result in a harmonic convergence of iOS and MacOS apps. This year Apple announced it was forking iOS into an iPad-specific system, and now “Project Catalyst” will help port apps over to the Mac.

Catalyst, Marzipan, where and when does this convergence train end?

CarPlay, which circa 2019 I would think be more important an opportunity than ever (for safety reasons, if nothing else), seemed stalled, save for some compatibility with third-party apps like Pandora and Waze.

But if you’re looking for a new Mac Pro, Apple will sell you its top spec new model for up to $35,000!

What I was most excited about?  

Again, I think for the industry and for developers, the interesting stuff comes in with dev toolsets like ARKit 3, which provides new tools to make AR development easier and allows third-party developers to develop really cool AR apps.

The Minecraft demo was cool, but I’m not a Minecrafter, so I’ll be keeping my iPhone peeled for new AR apps I can use.

In the meantime, let’s hope Apple gets back into the inner ideation sanctum and comes up with something new, and innovative, and soon. 

Plugging a thumb drive into my iPad is supposed to be an exciting Apple keynote announce? 

Puh-leez, Steve Jobs would be turning over in his grave.

Written by turbotodd

June 4, 2019 at 12:44 pm

Posted in 2019, apple, apple watch

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Apple WWDC: The China Backdrop

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Happy Monday.  

It’s 6/3/2019, thirty years on from 6/3/1989.

The New York Times has published an editorial explaining why China cannot erase the truth of Tiananmen. And Ian Johnson’s analysis explains that thirty years on, someone always remembers despite the government’s efforts to make them forget.

In some ways, the world is interacting with a different China in 2019. In others, the tiger hasn’t changed its stripes.

And as its annual developer conference gets going in San Jose later this morning, WIRED reminds us that Apple could be a likely target for Chinese retaliation in the increasingly chilly U.S-China trade “Cold War.”

WIRED observes that many in China view the “aggressive US measures” on trade and IP as designed to prevent China from rising further, and the multipronged campaign against Huawei “is largely perceived in China as a naked attempt by Washington to kneecap a serious competitor in everything from mobile devices to networking equipment and especially 5G.”

But China could respond in a way that could take a big bite out of Apple’s profitability:

Beijing could respond by increasing tariffs on US imports into China and by making it more cumbersome for US companies to do business in China, through such moves as permitting delays and holding up shipments in customs. But if China is truly looking for revenge, it need look no further than Apple. The Cupertino company has a vast global business, but China represents a real vulnerability.

China represents 19 percent of Apple’s worldwide sales, with the iPhone making up the bulk of that. While China is not as fruitful a market for Apple’s burgeoning services business, it is and has been a strong and generally growing market for Apple’s devices—until the past year.

Already, without the government doing anything explicit, Apple’s China sales have slowed precipitously. It had 10 percent share of the smartphone market at the beginning of 2018; it now has barely 7 percent. Almost all smartphone makers have seen shipments decline in China. The exception? Huawei, whose market share and sales have modestly increased while its competitors, ranging from Apple to Samsung to Xiaomi, have fallen.

Or, WIRED goes on, the Chinese government “could simply ban the sale of iPhones in China using the same justifications that the US is using against Huawei: national security and data security.”

But with the Google/Huawei Android license dispute looming with an August extension of the original deadline, one imagines Apple could be safe through much of the summer if, for no other reason, they serve as a viable smartphone OS hedge for the Middle Kingdom

So with that as the backdrop, what, exactly, are we hearing that could be announced, shown, unveiled, etc at Apple’s biggest developer event of the year?

Topline: Possibly a new and improved MacPro on the hardware side. macOS 10.15 and iOS 13 on the iPad, with more possible convergence between the Mac OS and iOS through Apple’s Marzipan project (including confirmed new apps that include Apple Music, Apple Podcasts, and Apple TV).

Also expect updates on tvOS and watchOS, new AR, and likely pricing on the Apple Arcade service.

And oh yeah, a Dark Mode for iPhone owners. 

Will there be an upside surprise in today’s keynote or this week’s event?

Tune in a couple of hours and find out.

Written by turbotodd

June 3, 2019 at 10:11 am

Posted in 2019, apple, china, developers

Tagged with , , ,

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