Tech Haiku #1: An Ode to MagSafe 

magnetic wonder
keep my laptop safe and sound
MagSafe, you’re the best

your small LED
shone brightly in the darkness
showing charge and hope

today, you are gone
replaced by USB-C
hashtag dongle life

I shared this on Twitter yesterday, but then realized it should be a regular feature here on the blog.

Introducing Download »

In August 2016, Myke Hurley and Jason Snell spent several days with me here in Memphis. We had many conversations about our work and the future of Relay FM.

One late afternoon, we had drinks at the top of a metal pyramid that is now a Bass Pro Shop to talk through an idea for a new show.

While most of our tech podcasts are about a certain company or a specific corner of tech, we’ve wanted to do something broader for a while. We sketched out a panel-driven show about the week’s most important technology stories.

Today, we’re launching that show. It’s called Download, and the first episode is available now.

Jason Snell is the host. Each week, he and two guests will talk through the biggest three tech topics of the week, plus one or two you may have missed. This format gives us another show we where we can work on bringing new and diverse voices to the network.

I’m working behind the scenes as the producer to help keep the wheels of the machine turning. The first episode was a lot of fun to put together, and I think you’re going to enjoy it.

Here’s how to subscribe:

Apple Reportedly Looking into Peer to Peer Payments Powered by Apple Pay »

Jason Del Ray

Apple’s on-again, off-again flirtation with building its own money-transfer service appears to be back on.

The company has recently held discussions with payments industry partners about introducing its own Venmo competitor, according to multiple sources familiar with the talks. The service would allow iPhone owners to send money digitally to other iPhone owners, these people said.

I’d love to see this. I currently use Square Cash for stuff like this, but something better-integrated into iOS would be a big win.

Liftoff #45: Interested in Looking Awesome »

On this week’s Liftoff:

We discuss Cassini’s daring death dives inside Saturn’s rings before the end of its mission, exciting news from our solar system’s ocean moons and hints of a change in planning for future exploration of Mars.

My thanks to our sponsors:

  • Blue Apron: A better way to cook. Get three meals free with your first purchase, and free shipping.
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Amazon Announces Echo Look »

Amazon has a new Echo out today, as Dan Moren explains:

In addition to all the usual Alexa features, you can tell the Echo Look to take a photo or a video, and the result will pop up in the Echo Look companion app on your phone, letting you tell whether the outfit you’ve got on works. A depth of field effect—à la the iPhone 7 Plus’s Portrait Mode—blurs the background and brings you and your outfit into the foreground. Short videos let you spin around to see yourself from all angles.

There are a couple other related features in the Look: one is the ability to build a lookbook that lets you scroll back through a log of all the outfits you’ve worn and snapped pictures of, letting you find favorites, dispose of ones you don’t wear much, and, I guess help make sure you don’t wear the same thing every day? The other is a more interactive Style Check, which Amazon says combines machine learning with advice from fashion specialists: snap photos of yourself in two different outfits, submit them, and you’ll get advice as to which works better based on fit, current trends, and more. (As with many machine learning algorithms, it supposedly gets better the more you use it.)

I wear jeans, podcast t-shirts and Chuck Taylors every day of my life,1 so this $199 Echo isn’t for me.

However, I find it super interesting that Amazon has launched an assistant product with a very specific set of tools onboard. Up until this point, Siri, Google Assistant and Alexa have been extremely broad in their use cases.

  1. For the 60 days a year when it is cold in Memphis, I have a wide range of gray and black hoodies. 

‘Today at Apple’ to Bring New Retail Experience to all Apple Stores »

This morning, Apple announced “Today at Apple,” a new push to roll out a new experience to all 495 Apple stores:

Apple today announced plans to launch dozens of new educational sessions next month in all 495 Apple stores ranging in topics from photo and video to music, coding, art and design and more. The hands-on sessions, collectively called “Today at Apple,” will be led by highly-trained team members, and in select cities world-class artists, photographers and musicians, teaching sessions from basics and how-to lessons to professional-level programs.

The new program offers more than 60 different sessions, including photo walks, hands-on projects for kids, coding sessions, lessons on pro apps and more.

In an interview with CBS, Apple’s SVP of Retail Angela Ahrendts said:

So we call the software of the store that we are launching the end of May – we call that Today at Apple.

That “software” will roll out across Apple’s nearly 500 stores, many of which will be changed literally overnight. Ahrendts calls it all an effort to create “town squares” where customers engage with their devices and their communities.

A lot of the big online guys have said they’re opening stores. Amazon’s investing in stores. Google’s investing in stores. … Starbucks figured it out, you know? Being a gathering place for – right? ‘Meet me at Starbucks,”’ Ahrendts said. “And you know, I’ve told the teams, “I’ll know we’ve done a really, really great job if the next generation, if Gen Z says, ‘Meet me at Apple. Did you see what’s going on at Apple today?'”

Apple stores have had training and one-off events for years, but this is a more focused effort in turning Apple stores into community hubs. To facilitate them, stores that have not been updated to the new design will receive upgraded AV equipment as needed.

While I’m the first person to complain that Apple stores are already often too busy and sometimes under-staffed, I can see what the company is trying to do here, and I applaud it. The Apple store should be a hub for those in the Mac and iOS community, and serve to educate and inspire Apple’s customers.

Connected #139: Artisanally-Raised, Hand-Crafted Yaks »

On this week’s Connected:

Casey Liss comes to set Federico straight about Plex in a new segment called Follow-on. Then, Stephen and Federico talk about Apple’s recent environmental push, the changes coming to the iTunes Affiliate Program and AppStories, Federico’s new podcast and website.

My thanks to our sponsors:

  • Incapsula: Secure and accelerate your website. Connected listeners get one month free.
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