Apple is About Artists Again

Apple Music is fantastic.
Sure the interface is kind of broken, but it has an old soul.
Why is it fantastic?

Firstly, because it doesn’t offer a free tier.
They want Artists to be reimbursed for their music.
They weren’t going to pay Artists during the free trial, but that was because they were going to be paying Artists more on an ongoing basis, so they thought it would be ok.
Within 24 hours of receiving a letter from Taylor Swift, they changed their minds and agreed to pay Artists even during the free trial.
They want to do right by Artists.

The second reason it’s fantastic is that it includes the ability to stream all of your own (downloaded, ripped, or otherwise acquired) music to any/all of your devices.
Previously, this was only available via iTunes Match, which carried an additional fee.
You still have to do it via Match if you don’t want DRM on your streamed copies, but if you don’t care about that it’s free with an Apple Music subscription.

The third reason is that their Family Pricing is phenomenal.

The fourth? Beats1 radio is amazing.
I thought I had grown to hate radio, but I was wrong.
What I hate is ad-supported radio, and DJs who suck at their jobs.
Beats1 radio has neither.
The DJs are top notch, and their enthusiasm is infectious.

Fifth and final reason?
The For You playlists are spot on.
I’ve discovered more great new music in 1 week with Apple Music than I have in the past year.

At the end of the day Apple Music tries to do justice to both the Artist, and the Listener.
Its content is curated by humans, not algorithms.
It has personality, and a personal touch.
And I, for one, believe this is only the start of a bigger revolution within Apple.

Recently, the Force Touch trackpad came out, and one of the first things they demoed it with was editing.
When you get to the end of a clip, you feel it in the trackpad.
Editors are Artists.

They spent a boatload re-writing Final Cut a couple years ago, and I have a feeling it’s going to get majorly beefed up again soon.
If my theory’s correct, Logic and Garage Band will also be updated.
iPhoto has already been completely re-written, and transformed into Apple Photos.

And there are rumours of an iPad Pro, and iPhones with Force Touch.
Why is that important?
I believe Apple has been working for a loooong time trying to crack the nut of stylus-based low-latency pressure-sensitive input combined with the ability to use touch-based input. Old digitizers used to misplace the stylus on the screen, or they required a lot of pressure, or a crappy feeling screen, or they weren’t compatible with touch input. Apple has been playing the long game, waiting until they could have a screen that supported all kinds of input.

I truly believe that a new app will be debuted with the iPad Pro, and it will be called Apple Canvas, Apple Art, or Apple Studio.

But wait, didn’t Steve Jobs say “A stylus, right? Noooo. Nobody wants a stylus! Blecht!”
Yes, he said that, but just like when he said “Nobody reads anymore” and then released iBooks, I believe what he truly meant with the stylus comment was “Nobody wants to be forced to only use a stylus”.
Using the stylus will be completely optional, but it will be there to give you precision when you want it.

For the first time, it will let you do super-accurate drawings, or subtle paintings, on Apple devices.
I didn’t say iOS devices, I said Apple devices. In future iterations it might also allow you to use your iOS device as an input device for Mac apps, using an updated version of Continuity. Draw on your iPad in your lap, and simultaneously see it on your huge monitor or projector hooked up to your Mac. Wacom sells a tablet that only does this, and they charge a fortune for it. Alternately, maybe the Mac and its horsepower project an interactive interface onto the iPad, the same way iPhones can project into CarPlay. Who knows? Exciting times.

There are a lot of possibilities here, but the main point is that we are about to see Apple put a lot of effort into Artist-focused apps and hardware. I believe Apple has always been Artist-oriented, but that it had to take a back seat for a long time while they developed the tech required to do stylus-based input correctly.

That time has almost come.
It’s right around the corner.
I can feel it.

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WWDC 2014 Predictions

Why do I get so excited about Apple events? They’re usually just new gizmos & software. What’s to get so excited about? Well, I use those things all day, every day. An upgrade to my device is quite literally an upgrade to me. Ten years ago, I couldn’t video chat with my mom. Now she calls me on FaceTime. That’s a new ability, like a super-power. Before the web and Google, we had to get information through knowledgable people, and libraries. It took time and effort. Now all that knowledge is at our fingertips. If you don’t think that’s a super-power, you’re crazy. So, yes, it’s just software and gizmos, but they fundamentally make our lives better… so for me, the WWDC Keynote is like Christmas. I get to find out what my new super-powers will be.

WWDC is a conference for developers, and as such it’s mostly about software, not hardware. With that in mind, here are my predictions & fantasies for what iOS 8 and OSX 10.10 will bring.

I believe the “tentpole” feautres will be centered around 3 key concepts:

  1. Consistency (of Aesthetics and Experience)
  2. Presence (via iBeacons, sensors, cameras)
  3. Interconnectedness (via iCloud and inter-app communication)

Unlike in previous years, this time I’m pitching you every idea I have, not just the ones I think are likely.

OSX 10.10

  • iTunes goes multi-app (Music Player & Store, Video Player & Store, Radio & Store, App Organizer)
  • OSX Mode & iOS Mode (unlikely at this time, but maybe by OSXI)
    • OSX Mode = default to saving in filesystem + windowed apps + Spaces
    • iOS Mode = default to saving in iCloud + full screen apps
    • Each account on the system can choose its preferred Mode
  • Dock comes hidden/off by default on new systems. Emphasis on LaunchPad.
  • new hardware Home button and/or gesture takes you back to LaunchPad (replace current F4 key with one that resembles Home squircle)
  • new double-tap Home button or gesture takes you to new Multi-tasking switcher. It will resemble the one from iOS, and will show the app icon with a thumbnail of the app above it. This will replaces the Cmd-Tab interface. Could potentially also be activated by a re-purposed F3 (Exposé) button, OR an extra button on a new Magic Mouse.
  • AirDrop – you’ll be able to easily send PDFs and other files directly to your iOS devices, and vice-versa
  • new Phone app will tether to your iPhone and allow you to place and receive any/all calls on your Mac. Will come with built-in ability to record calls for podcasts. Will notify all call participants that the call is being recorded. By default, it will attempt to make all calls using FaceTime Audio.
  • Translucence, Blur, Flatter UI elements, Motion/Physics to match iOS
  • Parallax (using FaceTime camera or IR sensor) lets you peek around, over, and under app windows. How far you can peek will depend on how close you are to the display.
  • Touch ID for Mac keeps your system secure
  • bio sensor(s) in mouse, trackpad, keyboard, new Home button, or Touch ID
  • presence detection allows iCloud to always deliver your notifications, and perform home automation, correctly based on what device you’re actually using at the time. The Cloud will always know exactly how long it’s been since you interacted with each device, and how close you currently are to any one of your devices (possibly because you’ll wear a tiny iBeacon, and your devices will sense it)
  • System Preferences gets renamed to Settings
  • cross-device (iOS/OSX) clipboard manager that works like Reading List. Makes sharing bits of info (smaller than a file) between devices super-simple.
  • OSX (and iOS) get a new filesystem and TimeMachine gets upgraded
  • Siri for Mac
  • more APIs to make sandboxing more flexible/practical
  • notifications for non-AppStore apps?
  • redesigned AppStore (possibly sub-stores: GameStore, AppStore, etc)

iOS 8

  • a new “Made For iPhone And iBeacon” program for automatic non-cumbersome home automation. Instead of having to manually turn lights on and off via an app, you’ll wear an iBeacon (or have one in your wallet/purse), and your house will react to your presence or absence.
  • Siri gets local processing and major speed improvements
  • Any app can have a self-updating icon
  • NewsStand apps are just apps. You can remove them from that folder. They can still auto-update.
  • skinnable Game Centre popovers
  • Music App goes multi-app (Music Player & Store, Video Player & Store, Radio & Store)
  • Control Centre will come up easily & reliably even when a keyboard is on-screen
  • inter/intra-apps comms via remote view controllers. Could potentially enable 3rd party default apps.
  • OSX can already use an AppleTV as a display, and now iOS can, too. It can pair with an AppleTV + Bluetooth keyboard + Bluetooth mouse. Now your iOS device is also a great iWork station.


  • Maps gets Transit directions
  • Improved developer metrics
  • iTunes Radio & Beats music in more countries
  • iCloud storage increased from 5GB free to enough to match the capacity of your device
  • Photo Storage – unlimited with iTunes Match
  • Video Storage – 1 year of video storage. At the end of the year you will have the option to have your videos shipped to you on a thumbdrive, harddrive, solid state drive, DVD, or BluRay. They will also be available for pick-up at your local Apple Store. This is kind of like “Photo Books”, but for video.


  • AppleTV gets a new UI with universal search, Siri, and an SDK
  • new Magic Mouse with hardware Home button
  • new wireless keyboard, exactly like the MacBook Pro keyboard with integrated trackpad under the heels of your hands
  • either the Magic Mouse or the new keyboard will include a Touch ID sensor
  • 12″ MacBook Air with edge-to-edge display (miniscule bezel)
  • Thunderbolt Retina display with dual mics & FaceTime camera, and potentially an IR sensor
  • MacBooks with Beats audio


It’s the night before WWDC and 9to5mac is now saying that the iPad might be updated to act as a display for the Mac. That’d be “neat”, but there are already lots of 3rd party apps that enable that, so I thought: what could Apple do to take that to the next level? Then I remembered a podcast I listened to last week (Rev VR) where they said that the Oculus Rift is great because it’s both an output device (display) AND and input device (6-DOF sensors). Of course! Making the iPad a display for the Mac is no big deal, but if it could also be a touch input device, that could be huge… AND it has precedent: Microsoft’s “Smart Glass” concept for using iPad with xBox. It makes total sense to extend that to Macs. What kinds of interactions could it offer? Well, for one thing, it’d be a great “console” for GarageBand, with touchable on-screen sliders. It could be handy for picking tools in Photoshop. Who knows what other possible applications there could be? BONUS: Mac sales and iPad sales would reinforce one another. Each would make the other more powerful, instead of each stealing sales from the other. It makes the power of Apple’s products additive, instead of competitive, and that’s a strategy they always like.

Update 2

I just had a brainstorm. If you CAN use an iPad as a Mac display, then the new rumoured 12″ Retina MacBook Air and the 12″ iPad could be the same device: A MacBook Air with detachable iPad display. Detach it, and it’s an iPad running iOS. Attach it and it’s a retina display for your MacBook. That would absolutely kill Microsoft’s Surface strategy. Not only that, but Apple could charge a bit of a premium for it. The tricky part would be making the interconnect between the iPad and the MacBook fast enough to support non-laggy scrolling and other high-bandwidth graphics stuff.

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Catered Lunches at Work

Not every day, but quite often, work caters lunch.
I’m really happy with our new caterers, Edgar and Joe’s.
This week’s options:

TUESDAY: (everyone)

Soup & Sandwich: Creamy roasted cauliflower with Locally made hot dog on fresh baked bun topped with spicy chilli
Chicken pad thai with gluten free sweet potato noodles

WEDNESDAY: (frontend working group)

Sandwich — ScRaMbLeD EGGS SUPER. Double smoked sausage, scallion, sweet bells and two farmland Ontario eggs on toasted rye with spicy ketchup.
Market greens with oven roasted tomatoes, bocconcini, julienned honey ham and basil infused walnut oil and sherry vinaigrette

THURSDAY: (leadership team)

Soup & Sandwich — artisan baguette with prosciutto, brie cheese, fresh basil and tomato drizzled with Mediterranean olive oil.
Texas fried steak and yukon champ potatoes. Hammered angus beef steak with light crispy crust topped with creamy pan gravy.

FRIDAY: (everyone)

Soup & Sandwich — charbroiled Ontario lamb patties topped with balsamic roasted cipollini onions, tomato and spicy mayo
Super mac. creamy house made béchamel, parmesan cheese and provolone with penne noodles and crispy panko crust.

Did I mention that we’re hiring? Visit

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Laravel at ExplodeCode

Here’s my “Intro to Laravel” talk, from ExplodeCode on Feb 25, 2014.

I talk about how to setup static routes using closures, how to use Restful & Resource controllers, Views, layouts, the Eloquent ORM, and custom CLI commands using artisan.

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1080p is the final standard TV resolution

Neither my mom, nor my sister can tell the difference between Retina and non-Retina displays.
They both think SD is just as good as HD.
They have a 1080p TV, but watch a lot of SD content on it, and lots of stuff in 4:3 aspect ratio.
The hardware is already more capable than they need.
I believe they are representative of the majority of TV viewers.
Why in the world would they ever upgrade to 4K?
They won’t — until their TV dies, and there are no more 1080p TVs available, and 4K is the only option.

Is this bad? Won’t this hold up the march of progress?
I believe “1080p HD” is the final standard TV resolution.

Broadcast is dying.
The Netflix model is the future: no channels, all packets.

Switching to packets allows each person can choose their own “standard”.

If you’re the kind of person who “needs” a 120″ screen, you’re going to buy an 8K projector, and you will pay extra for super-fast internet, and you will pay extra to access 8K content.

If you’re like my family, you’ll be happy with your 32″ TV at 1080p, and you will pay the regular rate for low-end-highspeed internet, and you will get access to 1080p content as part of the basic package.

If you’re a programmer, you might want lots of screen real estate for being productive, and not watch video content on it at all. For you, maybe 4K is the perfect balance. It lets you see lots of text on the screen at once, without being so humongous that your desk collapses.

Or maybe you’re a traveller, and an iPhone or iPad is all you need or want for content consumption and creation.

Think I’m crazy? This exact progression has already happened in cellular networks. 3G and prior networks were all channel-based. 4G/LTE is completely packet-based. It brought with it an explosion of bandwidth, and much more reliable hand-overs. I could go on and on, but if you’re interested in the story behind that, check out this episode of the Pragmatic podcast.

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