• ipad,  ipados,  wwdc

    Scribble for iPad

    When Apple first introduced the iPad, then CEO Steve Jobs remarked that if you saw a stylus you failed to design a good iPad app. While many at the time agreed with that sentiment, I believe that in 2020 an iPad paired with an Apple Pencil is a far more powerful customer tool than an iPad alone.

    Photo Credit Apple, Inc.

    Last month, at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), the iPad maker introduced a new feature coming to customers this fall called Scribble. Scribble is a new way to use Apple Pencil to handwrite text directly into input files and convert the handwritten characters into typed characters automatically. This means that if you are already holding Apple Pencil in your hand, you don't have to put it down and switch to another form of input by using a hardware or software keyboard. The user interaction model is a natural as pen and paper.

    Let's assume that I am sitting in a conference room discussing the upcoming work for the week. In this meeting I might be jotting down notes in an iPad note taking app, such as Noteshelf by Fluid Touch. While the app is open, a Messages notification appears. Using Pencil, I can pull down the notification to read the message, and right there, jot out a quick response with Pencil and then tap the send button.

    There will also be two new Scribble editing gestures that iPad and Pencil can use. the first is text selection. When using an app that has been updated to work with Scribble, such as the Reminders or Notes apps, you will be able to draw a straight line through some text to select it for editing. The text will automatically highlight and the standard editing tools will appear. Then there's my favorite, scratch to erase. This feature works just like it sounds. To delete some text, just make a wavy scratch out motion with Pencil over the text to delete and it will disappear. This gesture, minus the poof cloud animation, was taken directly out of Apple's Newton PDA product from the 1990s.

    Apple has made Scribble part of the iPadOS system experience. Developers get these new features with minimal effort when they use Apple's standard application programming interfaces (APIs) as part of their apps. In iPadOS 14, Apple is adding the new UIScribbleInteraction and UIIndirectScribbleInteraction APIs alongside of the existing Standard Text Controls and UIKit Text Input APIs. Scribble features will be available in apps by default and will allow users to use Pencil to interact with text input fields without having to tab any extra buttons or switch input modes. Scribble will keep track of where the users are writing on the screen to make sure that the converted type written text is entered into the correct input field. Finally, user privacy is maintained because all of the machine learning character recognition is performed on the iPad. No Internet connection required. As a design consideration, the handwriting passwords is not supported. Apple recommends that customers and developers rely on password autofill from Keychain.

    Overall, I am looking forward to Scribble support in iPadOS 14. I like to use Apple Pencil with my iPad Pro or taking notes in meetings. (Remember when we were able to have in-person meeting with our teammates?) I also think that using Scribble to fluidly enter text into fields without having to switch input modes will be a frictionless productivity boost for people who already use Apple Pencil. I do think however, that there is a high barrier to entry for people who prefer to write in paper notebooks. The loss of the tactile feel of pen on paper and the $99 starting price of Apple Pencil, makes me think that Scribble will be an additive experience feature for current Pencil owners rather than a feature that draws more pen and paper fans to the iPad.

  • apple,  education,  enterprise,  wwdc

    WWDC 2020 Sessions for Enterprise and School IT Admins

    Photo Credit: Apple, Inc.

    You would think that Apple's annual Worldwide Developers Conference, WWDC, is just for software developers writing apps for the fruit company's devices. After all, "developer" is in the name of the conference. Like me, however, you would be wrong.

    This year, Apple has elected to take this year's WWDC conference online and make content available to anyone who is interested in learning about what's new in their software platforms. I was surprised to see the Enterprise, IT, and Apps section of talks.

    This year's sessions include topics for IT system administrators who use Apple Business Manager or Apple School Manager. IT admins can learn more about automated device enrollment in mobile device management systems, customized onboarding and account creation, and app and software update deployment. One of the features that I am particularly interested in is "zero touch" device deployment. Zero touch deployments allow business or school IT teams to simply hand out Apple devices to their customers, have them unbox them, turn them on, connect to a Wi-Fi network and be setup in minutes. As an IT operations manager, I am very much interested in ways to improve the speed and consistency of deployments of PCs, mobile devices, and servers.

    If you are an IT administrator who supports Apple devices in the enterprise or at school, you will want to take a look at this year's Enterprise, IT, and Apps videos near the bottom of the Apple Developer website or by downloading the Developer app.

  • apple,  wwdc

    Online WWDC 2020

    On Monday, June 22, Apple is set to hold its annual World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC). An annual event since 1987, this year's event will be unlike any other. Due to COVID-19, WWDC20 will be a completely online event this year.

    The WWDC conference is an opportunity for developers of applications on Apple's platforms to come together to learn about new features, attend technical sessions, and have one-on-one appointments with Apple engineers who are responsible for building and maintaining the operating systems and platform features that application are built upon. In previous years, developers would enter a lottery to purchase a $1,600 ticket to attend the weeklong conference. Anyone one has attended a business software user conference already has a good idea of what's packed into WWDC week.

    There are two important keynote presentations during the week. The first is the morning's Special Event Keynote lead by Apple CEO Tim Cook and his lieutenants. This presentation is intended for the media and customers as it focuses on the flashy new software that will start rolling out in September and throughout the coming 12 months. In short, this is the sneak peek at what will be included in the next release of iOS and Apple's other operating systems and online software services. The second is the afternoon's Platforms State of the Union keynote address. This is the first developer-y presentation of the week. This presentation lead by the software engineers lacks all of the glitz of the morning's session but is the meat and potatoes that software developers who write for Apple platforms are here for.

    In addition to all of the first-party Apple events that take place during WWDC week, an entire cottage industry has sprung up around WWDC. During the same week, third-party conferences, most notably, Layers and AltConf take place. There are the live shows for popular Apple-focused podcasts such as The Talk Show Live, Accidental Tech Podcast (ATP) Live, and Relay FM's Connected Live. These are all great conferences and podcasts to be sure and I enjoy watching them each year. For me specifically, a non-developer tech enthusiast, the proposition of attending WWDC, third-party conferences, or podcast live shows is just too costly. I really do miss the regional shows, like MacWorld Expo and New York Tech Expo. In 2020, holding large independent consumer shows just isn't economical anymore when so much tech news is available online. (I also miss the printed MacWorld, MacWeek/PCWeek, and ComputerWorld magazines, but now I'm just showing my age as a cranky old man.)

    This year, COVID-19 has completely turned the tables for the week's plans. The all-online format for WWDC should be more inclusive for everyone. The online format, for this year at least, eliminates the expensive ticket price. To gain full access to pre-release beta software and one-on-one sessions, a very reasonable $99 annual fee must be paid by serious developers. The added expenses for hotels, meals, and travel are also eliminated this year. In year's past, being selected for the privilege to buy a ticket and then having to pay for all of the extras made attending WWDC a very costly endeavor. This year, the online format is a much more equitable situation that reduces costs and should allow more developers to participate. And that is a good thing for everyone, in my opinion.

  • android,  apple,  beats,  el capitan,  ios 9,  ipad,  ipad mini,  iphone,  mac os x,  music,  radio,  windows,  wwdc

    Thoughts on the Apple WWDC 15 Keynote Presentation

    Yesterday, Apple kicked off their twenty-sixth WWDC conference with a keynote address from Tim Cook.

    If you haven't already watched the keynote session, you can do so now directly from the WWDC page on Apple.com.

    What follows are my thoughts and comments as I watched the presentation early this morning about the exciting new updates coming to OS X, iOS and watchOS.

    Opening Remarks

    Usually, the formula for an Apple keynote presentation is to welcome everyone and then run through a number of slides talking about how well Apple is doing. This year, Cook announced that 2015 is the twenty-sixth developer's conference.  In addition to the live stream of the keynote, he also announced that for the first time ever, Apple will be live streaming 30 developer sessions this year to try and accommodate the developers who were not able to buy a ticket to this year's conference.

    In short, Cook said "everything's great" and then turned the stage over to Craig Federighi, Senior Vice President, Software Engineering to talk about advances in OS X, iOS and the new watchOS.

    Mac OS X El Capitan Update

    - 55% of active Mac users have upgraded to OS X Yosemite
    - Mac OS X 10.11 will be called OS X El Capitan; notice the lack of "10.11" in the product name
    - Two major areas of focus for El Capitan: user experience and performance

    The user experience performance should be thought of as a refinement of last year's bold new OS X design language in Yosemite.  The tent pole features that were shown off include the new Informed Search features of Spotlight, refinements of the built-in OS X apps and window and workspace management with Mission Control, the Spaces bar and the new Split View windows control.

    Of all of the new updates, I think I will get the most utility out of the new Split View controls.  The windows snapping feature of Windows 7 is one that I use all of the time at work and the one Windows feature that I wished my Mac has built in by default.  (The other was the smoky grey Vista Start bar, but that was addressed last year with the Yosemite dark mode menu.)

    Informed Search in Spotlight allows you to use nature language text to help find things on your Mac.  With Informed Search, you can now type in search terms like "Show me all of my photos from last June".  That's pretty powerful because it lets us type in what we are looking for an let the computer figure out what we meant rather than us tying to remember some details about how, when or where we may have stored the files on disk.

    There was also a brief demo of a new feature coming to Safari wherein that if a video, say an ad, starts auto-playing a video in a tab that you are not looking at, a speaker mute icon will appear in the URL/search navigation bar.  Just click it and the audio is instantly muted.  That will really become a handy feature as more and more websites start auto-playing video ads on their sites.

    There isn't enough time to cover all of the OS X El Capitan features

    Apple has to pick and choose what features are going to be high-lighted on stage.  Some interesting features that appeared in the "...and so much more." slide include:

    - New system font - Yes, Apple Watch's San Francisco font is coming to Mac OS X
    - Last search - Sounds like a really nice time saver
    - Rename from context menu
    - Time to leave reminders
    - Redesigned Disk Utility - seems like an odd update; are enhancements to HFS+ coming?
    - File copy resume
    - Copy file path in Finder

    On the OS X performance side of the house, Apple is bringing their Metal graphics engine that debuted on iOS last year "back to the Mac" El Capitan.  Metal will give professional apps and game developers a higher performance graphics layer than the older OpenGL and OpenCL platforms.

    Reportedly, all of Apple's first party apps are being enhanced to take advantage of Metal.  I'm looking forward to the performance boost to things like the quick view feature that let's you look at a document without having to launch the app first.  Oh, and when you do have to launch apps, Apple is working on making the time you wait for apps to launch must quicker.

    The schedule for Mac OS X El Capitan is:

    - Developers get a free preview starting right now.
    - Public beta testers will get El Capitan next month (July)
    - El Capitan general release will ship "this fall"

     iOS 9 Update

    - 83% of active iPhone users are running iOS 8 today
    - iOS 9's major focus is "elevating" the foundation:improved battery life, better performance, and security enhancements

    Just like with OS X El Capitan, intelligence and informed seraching is coming to iOS 9 and Siri.  Siri can now understand more natural language requests like "show me pictures from ..." or create new reminders based on what you are looking at in an app such as Safari.  Siri can even look up phone numbers for incoming calls that aren't in your contacts by searching your email and making a suggestion.

    As with all of these security features, iOS 9 keeps all of your data private.

    Craig Federighi discussed personal data privacy in iOS 9

    Some other cool features that Federighi showed off, include:

    - iOS' swipe to the left of the first app launcher screen is coming back and has been enhanced to offer contextual suggestions

    - Search has been enhanced to include new categories of information

    - iOS 9 searching has a new Search API that can be used to search across installed apps and provide deep linking to specific content and take you back to search results

    - Apple is building in intelligence into iOS, but they are not data mining; all information stays on device

    - Look ups for information is all anonymous, not shared - you are always in control of your data

    ZDNet's iOS 9 beta lock screen

    One of the nice features coming to iOS 9 that didn't get highlighted in the presentation is that Apple is improving iOS security by increasing the number of digits in a PIN from 4 to 6.  By adding just two additional digits to the PIN, iPhones and iPads will become all the more difficult to "hack" using a brute force attach.  ZDNet had a nice little write up about this feature.

    Jennifer Bailey talks about how Apple is simplifying the wallet with Apple Pay

    To talk about the updates to Apple Pay in iOS 9, Apple brought out VP, Apple Pay, Jennifer Bailey!  I was really surprised to see Apple giving a woman "FaceTime" (sorry about the pun) on the WWDC stage.  It would appear that Apple really is trying to show that it is a diverse company and not just a company run by "old 50-something white dudes".

    In addition to launching Apple Pay in the UK later this year, Bailey went on to talk about the upcoming changes to Apple Pay in iOS 9.  They include:

    - Discover Card is coming to Apple Pay this year
    - Square is releasing a new NFC Apple Pay reader that will be in stores this fall
    - Store loyalty and reward card support is coming to Apple Pay
    - Passbook is being renamed to "Wallet"

    It's that last on that I feel is kind of cheap.  Apple clearly has the head start on all of the competing mobile payment systems.  That's not to say they arrived first - just that they have an early success advantage.  Switching to Wallet from Passbook, to me, makes it sound like Apple is chaing after Google.

    Maps, an app that has been steadily improving year-over-year, is also getting updated to include support for public transit information, specifically:

    - Adding a new Transit map (buses, trains, subway stations) with departure times
    - Step by step walking directions
    - Siri is being integrated to the new Maps transit information

    I'm glad to see that Apple is adding public transit information to Maps.  Android users have had this information via Google Maps for a long time now.  Apple Maps has had a rough start, but it is clear that Apple is committed to enhancing their mapping service over time.

    With iOS 9, Apple is included an all new pre-installed application called "News".  News will bring "beautiful content from the worlds best world's greatest sources, personalized for you."  To help introduce and demonstrate News, Apple brought out the VP Application Product Management, Susan Prescott.

     Let's just stop for a minute and let it sink in that Apple now has had two high ranking women on the WWDC stage showing off some of their newest software with the world watching.  This is the new-new Apple.

    Susan Prescott shows off the all-new News app for iOS 9

    I'm really excited about the new News app for iPad and iPhone.  I read the Wall Street Journal on my iPad most days in the WSJ app.  I'll probably still do that because I have a subscription, but the News app has a lot going for it.  I can see in the future, the News app taking the place of Newsstand in the future.

    With News, you tell the app a little about what websites you like to visist and the kinds of articles you like to read on them.  Form there, News will aggregate a feed of news articles, beautifully rendered and laid out for you to read.  The app updates each time you launch it so there will always be fresh content to read and presented in a visually stunning way.

    Up until now, I have this on again off again relationship with Facebook.  I've recently started using it again after having liked the WSJ and New York Times pages so that I get news added to my Facebook feed.  I've never really been happy about liking pages on Facebook because of all the creepy things they are probably doing to collect my data.  With News, all of that is gone!

    The high points on New include:

    - News updates each time you launch it.  The more you read the better News can be about learning
    about what you like to read
    - News will ship for both iPad and iPhone
    - News will have privacy built in from the start.  There will be no sharing of data with Apple or third-parties about what you are reading
    - This is, in my opinion, a direct shot at Facebook instant articles and I'm glad to have an Apple alternative
    - When News goes live, there will be 30 New York Times articles published a day for News.
    - If all of this reading is anonymous, and there is no data sharing with publishers, who's footing the bill for the stories?

    iPad iOS 9 Enhancements

    With iOS 9, Apple shows the iPad more love than it's seen in the last two releases.  It's clear that Apple is looking to bolster how their industry-leading tablet is both viewed (it's not just a really large iPhone) and used (now with more productivity and multitasking enhancements).

    iOS 9 brings the Shortcut Bar to the iPad keyboard

    iPad gets the new Shortcut Bar as part of the new iOS 9 keyboard of iPad.  Not only does the keyboard give you predictive text for what you might be typing, but now you have access to text tools right in the keyboard.  The new Shortcut Bar provides convenient access cut/copy/paste functions as well as the ability to add bold, italics and underlined text.  You can even add an attachment if the app support it.

    If you're not convinced that Apple is trying to cater to people who want to use the iPad as their only computer, a new two finger gesture allows you to move the insertion point cursor around the screen when you place two fingers over the keyboard and move them around as if you were using the trackpad on a MacBook.  This should be a pretty handy feature for people who become frustrated with how you move the cursor around the screen. I know a lot of people who will be happy to have this feature.  I have to wonder if the new iPad Air 3 will feature a Force Touch screen unlocking even more functionality of the track pad-like feature of iOS 9.

    iOS 9 bring Multitasking to the iPad

    Adding iOS 9 to an iPad Air 2 you are able to begin using the new Split Screen feature.  Split Screen was first rumored last year to be a part of iOS 8.  With iOS 9, Split Screen is now a reality.

    The iPad Air 2 running iOS 9 will be able to use Split Screen

    In Split Screen mode, both halves of the screen are running separate applications simultaneously.  You can also grab the slider in the middle of the screen to resize the two windows according to what you are working on.  Regrettably, Screen Split is only available with the iPad Air 2 and will not work with the iPad Air.  Personally, I think that's a mistake, but no one asked me.

    In addition to Split Screen, is Slide Over.  With Slide Over, you swipe in from the right edge of the screen to open a new column that takes up about one-third of the screen.

    The iPad Air 2 with a Slide Over pane open

    As with Split Screen, both apps are live at the same time.  This feature is really hand if you are working with data in the first two-thirds of the screen and you want to use the last third of the screen to go look something up.  When the Slide Over pane is visible, you will see a Notification Center style tab at the top of the screen. When you pull down on this tab, an app picker appears of the running apps that you can choose to snap in and replace the current app that is in the Slide Over pane.

    The iPad Air 2 Slide Over open app selector

    Slide Over is not a hardware exclusive feature tied to the iPad Air 2 and will also work on the iPad Air, iPad mini 2 and the iPad mini 3.

    Lastly, you can double-click the Home button (or Touch ID button on the new iPad Air 2) to bring up the new iPad Task Switcher.  Unlike the card view used today, running applications are presented on a sort of digital carrousel.

    The iPad Air 2 using the new Task Switcher

     While the new Task Switch looks new and refreshed, nothing that we saw in the demo showed any new features.

    All the Reset of iOS 9

    There's so much good stuff coming in iOS 9 it's hard to catalog it all in this single post.  Some of the more important goodies include:

    - A new iOS 9 Low Power mode will extend battery life for up to three hours (estimated)

    - iOS 9 will only require 1.4GB of free space needed to upgrade - iOS 8 required a whopping 4.6GB of free space to run the upgrade

    - HomeKit gadgets can now be securely connected your iPhone over the Internet via iCloud.  Very very cool.

    - Wireless CarPlay what a snoozer.  I'd just like to have CarPlay support in my 2015 Honda Accord  EX.  Oh well, maybe in three to four years when my current least is up Apple and Honda will have their collective acts together. (I'm so glad that Honda was a CarPlay launch partner.)

    - Swift 2 has gone Open Source - now anyone can use it.  A standards compiler and support for iOS, OS X and Linux will be available later this year.  Notice that Windows is missing from that list.

    The release schedule for iOS 9 is:

    - Developers get a free preview starting right now.
    - Public beta testers will get iOS 9 next month (July)
    - iOS 9 general release will ship "this fall"

    Lastly, iOS 9 will install and run on all of the current iOS hardware, which is: iPad 2, iPad 3, iPad 4, iPad Air, iPad Air 2, iPad mini, iPad mini 2, iPad mini 3, iPhone 4s, iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and yes, even the iPod touch 5th generation.

    watchOS 2 Update

    It's hard to comprehend that Apple Watch and watchOS 1.0 have only been shipping for about six weeks now and already Apple is pushing forward with enhancements to existing features and native application support with watchOS 2.  (I'll have my Apple Watch review post up before watchOS 2 ships, I promise.)

    Here are some thoughts on what's coming in watchOS 2 later this year.

    - Seeing "watchOS" on a slide makes me immediately think of Palm's now defunct "webOS".  Old habits die really hard I guess.

    - watchOS 2 will bring native apps to the platform.  These apps can run without an iPhone within range of Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.

    watchOS 2 will being new watch faces to the current list of watch face styles.  Photo Face and Photo Album Face are new watch faces that will allow you to pick a photo to use as your watch face or a Photos album to randomly display pictures from each time you activate the watch face.  Another cool animated watch face will be the new Time-Lapse face.  Apple will pre-build time lapsed "slideshows" of a select set of cities like London and New York that will animate when the watch face is on.

    Apple also promised that in watchOS 2, software developers will be able to add their own "widgets" or "complications" to watch faces.  Complications are the little blocks of information on the wathc face like the date, upcoming apponintments, battery level and fitness tracking rings.

    Lastly, while you are looking at the watch face, you can scroll the digital crown to see calendar events that happened earlier today or that will be coming up later in the day.

    watchOS 2 also adds:

    - Night Stand mode: when the Watch is charging and turned on it's side withwith the digital crown and button facing up the screen will work like an alarm clock.

    - Email replies using Siri dictation

    - Make and receive FaceTime audio calls directly on the Watch

    - Siri voice command support for activating the Workout app - "Start a 30 minute run in the park."

    - Siri voice command to display a specific glance on the Watch face

    With watchOS 2, we are really going to see the flood gates open with regard to what developers can access on the Watch - native apps, new complications, system level access to microphone and speakers and the on board sensors - and all new apps to dream up and make available for use.

    Lastly, as you might have already guessed, watchOS 2 will be a free upgrade coming "this fall."

    On more thing... Apple Music

    I appreciate that Apple is once again using "One more thing..." in their presentations.  It's a classic move that Steve Jobs would use to whip up the crowd into a frenzy before showing off one last software package, some new hardware or a new Apple service. 

    Yesterday, Tim Cook returned to that familiar place to talk about Apple's upcoming Apple Music service and Beats 1 124/7 live radio station.  Naturally, Apple's fans when nuts.

    Apple's Jimmie Iovine introduces the new Apple Music streaming service

    Tim Cook kicks off the last segment of the WWDC keynote by introducing Apple Music and Jimmy Ivone to tell us about what Apple Music is all about.

    Apple Music is a new streaming service, 24hr live radio and fans connecting with to artists

    Apple describes Apple Music as:
    - A new revolutionary music service
    - 24/7 live radio service broadcast around the world
    - A new way of connecting fans with artists

    With Apple Music, you will have all of your music all in on place.  Your iTunes library meets the full iTunes Music library streamed to your iOS device, Mac, Windows PC and before the year's out, Google Android devices.

    I have to say, when Iovine started talking about a "revolutionary new music service" I'm pretty sure I heard echos of Steve Jobs introducing the original iPhone back in 2007.  (You can watch Jobs introduce the iPhone below.)

    [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9hUIxyE2Ns8]

    Apple also made a short video featuring Trent Reznor, Artist/Apple Creative, to tell us about the new music service.

    Next up, is Beats 1. a live global radio station with Zane Lowe and his team of real DJs working as hosts around the clock from New York, Los Angles and London.  To help introduce Beats 1, Apple played a short video featuring Zane Lowe talking about how Apple put together Beats 1.

    All of the music recommendations and playlists from Apple Music and Beats 1 are curated by humans to deliver the best possible listening experience for whatever music you want to listen to.

    And last, but not least, is @Connect, which allows artists to upload and share what they are doing directly to their fans.  To help understand how Connect brings fans and artists - big and small - together, Apple brought Drake out to talk about his experience with Connect.  Yet another win for diversity on the Apple stage.

    The schedule for Apple Music, which includes Beats 1 and Connect is:

    - Rolls out with iOS 8.4 on June 30, with new versions of iTunes for Mac and Windows PC.  Android support coming later this year.

    - The first three months of Apple Music are free.  After that, it's just $9.99/month for an individual subscription.

    - For family of up to six people, a sharing subscription is just $14.99/month and each person has their own library, playlists, recommendations, et el.

    To close out the keynote presentation, Tim Cook invited The Weekend up on stance to perform a new single.  I'm sure it will be on the iTunes Music Store before long.