I watched Apple WWDC so you didn’t have to

There was a mix of hardware and software updates. Apple put a lot of focus on  virtual reality, augmented reality and prepping their operating systems for handling larger amounts of data.  There was work done to further optimise video and photo usage on device.

The event offered bad news for online advertisers and a number of consumer electronics manufacturers. Online advertising using retargeting or autoplay video is going to be blocked in Safari. The new HomePod speaker took aim at ‘casual hi-fi’ like Sonos, Bowers & Wilkins and Bose.

Apple is working very hard to try and understand user intent, which is one of the first pieces it needs to put in place to develop the experience of a truly programmable world. What do I mean by a programmable world? A ‘web of no web’ where device intelligence behaves as if it understands user intent like a good valet. It is moving in a stepwise manner towards this.

What was more surprising is how Apple has gone big on VR and AR creation and consumption. Whilst video post-production houses probably have the most to complain about when it comes to Apple’s Pro equipment, they are not name checked. Apple has started to move to address their concerns. The external graphics support in macOS implies that a furture Mac Pro will have the software to match hardware.

More details by platform:

macOS

The name High Sierra implied an OS update that might seem incremental to consumers, but has major technology changes under the hood.

  • Data – Apple File System as default (many features similar to Sun Microsystems’ ZFS). Faster for file swaps and giving a faster computer experience
  • Video – better quality video algorithms with smaller file sizes and integration with
  • Graphics – upgraded Metal API – Apple had been using it on machine learning applications within the OS. Metal 2 has been used to accelerate system level graphics and provides access to app developers. There is OS support for external graphics accelerators. The external graphics developer kit is based on AMD Radeon card.
  • MacOS supports VR through Metal for VR. Steam, Unity and Unreal supporting VR on the Mac. Apple seems to believe that VR and AR content is the desktop publishing of the 21st century, they have gone hard on making the best creators platform that they can
Safari
Focus on being the fastest browser experience, even in comparison to Chrome
  • Autoplay blocking – which will impact advertising network video views
  • Intelligent tracking prevention – positioned to target advertising retargeting and cross-site tracking
Mail
Productivity refinements including a split screen view
Photos
  • Uses machine learning to improve searching and photo recognition and integration with photo-editing

tvOS

  • 50 media partners integrated into TV app
  • Amazon is coming to Apple TV. Interesting move of detente between Apple and Amazon

iOS

iOS 11 – focus on underlying technologies:
  • Machine learning APIs – to help adoption of CoreML on device for third party apps
  • ARKit – to aid AR in apps. Clever work done on scaling and ambient light. This about providing a market for the content which which would be created on the Mac
  • Chinese specific features: including support for QRcodes, SMS spam filtering. Chinese users have a particular set of contexts and these innovations could become popular in the west
  • Interface tweaks in control centre and the lock screen.
Messages
  • Improving discoverability of app stickers and apps – much needed
  • Automatic synchronisation of Messages across devices, delete once, delete across all devices
ApplePay
  • Person-to-person payments as an iMessage app. Obvious competitor would be WeChat in China and PayPal in the west
Siri
  • Improved expressive nature of the voice.
  • Follow-up questions, presumably to improve context
  • Provides translation services
  • Siri integration into a wide range of apps including WeChat and OmniFocus They’ve tried to use on-device learning to try and improve context and being helpful. Siri knowledge is synched across devices. Uses web history to improve Apple News and custom dictionary spellings
Apple Maps
  • Indoor navigation for airports
Photos
  • Better image compression to save space on device. New depth API that can be accessed by 3rd party apps
  • Video autorotates a la Snapchat / Snap glasses
App Store
  • Apps now reviewed in less than 24 hours
  • First app redesign in nine years. Tweaks to improve discoverability and merchandising of apps including in-app sales
 watchOS
  • The biggest feature in watchOS 4 is the Siri-powered face. The Siri-powered watch face provides contextual information on the ‘home screen’. It takes into account past habits, time, location etc. Apple’s language around this was interesting, they described it as an ‘Intelligent proactive assistant’.

More details by hardware

Mac hardware
  • iMac – improved displays, brighter and support for 1 billion colours. Moving to Kaby Lake Intel processors. Up to 64GB of RAM on the iMac and 2TB SSD. Discrete Radeon graphics cards on larger iMacs. – big focus on VR development.
  • MacBook – Kaby Lake processors. Pro machines get updated graphics as well. The MacBook Air gets a processor boost.
  • iMac Pro – single piece machine with workstation specification including 10Gbit Ethernet. Presumably as an interim measure until the Mac Pro arrives next year. How upgradeable would the iMac Pro be, which is a key consideration for workstations
iPad hardware
  • iPad Pro – 20% bigger screen, 120Hz screen refresh rate. Doubling default memory sizes up to 512GB
 
Apple HomePod
Apple is going after Sonos and brown goods companies like Bose, Bowers & Wilkins and Bang & Olufsen. The Siri functionality is a hygiene factor rather than a serious competitor to Amazon Echo. There was a big emphasis on the privacy functionality of Siri in HomePod
Further reading

WWDC 2015: you know the Apple news, but what does it mean?
48 hours with the Apple Watch
Eight trends for the future: web-of-no-web
Eight trends for the future: contextual technology

10 most popular posts – January to June 2017

# Title Notes
1 Living with the Casio GWF -D1000 Frogman watch Casio took their Frogman watch and improved it even further. Some of the technology is interesting mainly because they’ve managed to run it all off a diminutive solar panel. The bigger changes for me was moving world time from the ‘home screen’ and reengineering how the strap is fastened to the case in a much more robust manner
2

Louis Vuitton, Supreme and the tangled relationship between streetwear and luxury brands

Louis Vuitton has been dragged into the 21st century by its creative director. A collaboration with Supreme seems logical in retrospect for so many reasons
3

Richard Edelman is wrong, PR isn’t at a crossroads…

Richard Edelman commented on the trend for large marketing groups to consolidate PR agencies and integrate PR offerings into a larger marketing services stack. This mirrors changes that Edelman’s own company has gone through as multiple disciplines close in on a marketing singularity
4

It’s time that we talk about micro-influencers

Looking past the hype of micro-influencers to work out how it fits with brand planning scenarios
5

Magic Lantern Festival, Chiswick House Gardens

Chiswick hosted a lunar new year oriented lantern festival similar to what you’d seen in Hong Kong and across China
6

Oprah Time: Blood and Faith – the purging of muslim Spain (1492 – 1614) by Matthew Carr

I’d picked up Blood and Faith in the Prado museum on a trip to Madrid. Book shops like these often give a clue to how a country wants to be perceived and in Spain’s case this mean’t being open about history
7

Have we reached peak streetwear?

A follow-on post from my jog down memory lane about luxury and streetwear. I started thinking about it in terms of a market in its own right
8

Great interview with Adam Curtis

Curtis’ narrative fitted in really well with the overall environment of fake news and a malleable post-modern reality
9

The crowdfunded product problem with PopSlate as an unfortunate case study

PopSlate going under was a timely point for me to examine the extreme challenges that crowdfunded hardware projects face
10

On Pam Edstrom

Waggener Edstrom (WE Communications) co-founder passed away. I added my little addendum to this piece of PR history

Five for Friday | 五日(星期五)

Things that made my day this week:

Mary Meeker’s 2017 internet trends report: All the slides, plus analysis | Recode

The Reflex remixes Gil Scott Heron

Scatman Ultraman

Surreal and manic

A post shared by DJ STYLEWARZ (@stylewarz) on

Kouhei Nakama | Design & Motion – really nice 3D animations

Links of the day | 在网上找到

Luxury Brands Leave Youku in Favor of China’s Younger Video Platforms | L2

Russian internet giant Yandex shows off its self-driving car | Engadget

Ambition: Exploring the digital marketing revolution – interview with Philip Kotler

Ambition: Mastering mobile internet strategy in China by Winston Ma – nice white paper that looks at cinema’s role in reaching customers as part of an omnichannel approach

The Surprising Repercussions of Making AI Assistants Sound Human | WIRED – interesting nuances of voice interface design

Pipes – Yahoo! Pipes analogue, lets just hope that they haven’t captured the ‘flakey’ experience. I would prefer the Mazda MX5 (Miata) experience where you get the experience but none of the broken ass crap of owning an MG

Russian Hackers Are Using Google’s Own Infrastructure to Hack Gmail Users | Motherboard

Jargon watch: black technology (黑科技)

An all-compassing phrase that I’ve heard being used by Chinese friends Hēi kējì in Pinyin or black technology. It’s been around for a couple of years but recently gained more currency among people that I know.

Microsoft Hololens 💥

It is used as a catchall for disruptive / cool innovative products. What constitutes ‘black technology’ is subjective in nature but generally Chinese would agree on some examples such as:

  • Magic Leap
  • Microsoft Holo Lens
  • Bleeding edge silicon chips with an extraordinary amount of memory or machine learning functionality built in
  • Tesla self-driving cars

The key aspect is that the product as ‘magical quality’ in the eyes of the user. Technology companies have tried to use it in marketing to describe the latest smartphone and app features like NFC, gesture sensitive cameras and video filters. Your average Chinese consumer would see this as cynical marketing hype. Xiaomi had been guilty of this over the past couple of years.

As technology develops, the bar for what represents black technology will be raised higher.

According to Baidu Baike (a Quora-like Q&A service / Wikipedia analogue) it is derived from the Japanese manga Full Metal Panic! (フルメタル·パニック! |Furumetaru Panikku!).

In the manga black technology is technology far more advanced than the real world. An example of this would be ‘Electronic Conceal System’ – active optical camouflage used on military helicopters and planes in the manga. It is created by the ‘Whispered’ – people who are extremely gifted polymaths who each specialise in a particular black technology.

In the manga they are frequently abducted and have their abilities tested by ‘bad organisations’ who support terrorism. Whispered also have a telepathic ability to communicate with each other. If they stay connected for too long there can be a risk of their personalities coalescing together.

More information
黑科技 (动漫中出现的词语)- Baidu Baike
Full Metal Panic – Amazon

Links of the day | 在网上找到

Why young South Koreans are turning away from religion | Arts & Culture | Al Jazeera

Is 2017 the beginning of the end for the app economy? TheNextWeb – not exactly more like a new normal – one thing that’s missing is the importance of building inside existing app eco-systems such as WeChat, Facebook Messenger etc

Why the Chinese Will Pay for Content That Americans Won’t – Bloomberg – De Dao and other paid media

Does Slack allow your boss to spy on you? — Quartz – output rather than outcome focused measures on productivity

Takeaways: In2 Innovation Summit

I got invited to The Holmes Report‘s innovation summit. This happened earlier in the day than The Sabre EMEA awards. 

Untitled

Here were my takeouts in no particular order:
 
  • Brad Staples presentation on reputation in a fake news environment gave me deja vu. It reminded me of corporate communications thinking when social media came to prominence. In many respects the symptoms are the same. The agenda running out-of-control like a force of nature. Yet, it is only the momentum has changed, core principles to address reputation are the same. There was an increased emphasis on monitoring. Monitoring and response became even more important than with social media’s rise
  • The age-old tension between specialist and generalist continues to roll onwards. Alan Vandermolen saw medium-sized agencies as sitting in a ‘Goldilocks’ position. Small enough for your business to matter and being able to move fast. Large enough to have the right expertise and scale in place. The challenge to his argument is global agencies consolidating a one-stop shop offering. Vandermolen didn’t address the move away from being a ‘PR agency’. The Holmes Report had highlighted their concern in a recent opinion piece. Vandermolen was also concerned with the disappearance of PR professionals on the client side. He cited United Airways customer problems from broken guitars to dragging passengers off planes. The discussion didn’t cover how the airline’s focus on shareholder value had corrupted customer-centricity
  • Matt Battersby and Dan Berry looked at public relations and behavioural economics. What I found interesting is how this provided a direct linkage to return on investment. Yet the audience didn’t pick up on this in questions. It also represented a content challenge to agencies. It flips the typical messages that they would look deliver (driven by what’s news)
  • There was a tension between what agencies could do and what clients wanted. Abby Guthkelch wanted a more agile approach to content that was also more cost effective. This meant that she often worked with inhouse staff and content development agencies. There was a strong sense that creative ideas and concepts were not worth paying for. This puts little value in communications agencies. Content marketing poses an existential threat to PR agencies margins. It was interesting that marketing automation didn’t come up in discussions. Inhouse panelists preferred to move capability inhouse rather than relying on offshoring work
  • Finally, there was the evergreen theme of marketers and PRs speaking different languages. PRs need to get comfortable with data and charts. They need to think about testing. This needs to happen whilst budgets are static or in decline. A way forward is to move down the marketing funnel to be closer to the sale in e-commerce and via social channels. I found the continued faith in influencers of interest. I was surprised at the lack of concern shown on the agency side for zero-based budgeting at clients
More information

Links of the day | 在网上找到

Discounting Snapchat | L2 – really nice analysis of SnapChat

Apple has finally found someone to support HomeKit • The Register – I can understand why there is a wider leeriness around Internet of Things due to the privacy implications, built in obsolescence and dependence on the cloud

With its Special Projects Desk, Univision is keeping Gawker’s spirit alive at Gizmodo Media Group » Nieman Journalism Lab

Kantar Worldpanel’s most chosen brands in the UK 2017 – Kantar UK Insights – Kantar – what’s really a British brand? Modern supply chains pull things back and forth across Europe

Privacy threats through ultrasonic side channels on mobile devices by Arp, Quiring, Wressnegger & Rieck – great article on the privacy implications of ultrasonic beacons and mobile devices (PDF)

Huawei missed memo that PC’s dead – so here are three new notebooks • The Register – interesting move for a company whose chairman said that they have to increase margins, model specs also interesting – looks like an attempt to try and surround Apple – it is more important 5 iterations from now

Hitachi exits mainframe hardware but will collab with IBM on z Systems • The Register – end of an era, I wonder what this will mean for Hitachi Data System’s storage business over time?

Five for Friday | 五日(星期五)

Things that made my day this week

Japan’s luxurious Shiki-shima sleeper train – in pictures | World news | The Guardian

A viral video of a politician and his suitcase shows what’s wrong with male entitlement in Korea

Bring Home a Classic Synth with the DIY Fairlight CMI – using the iPad emulation app

Fascinating video from a Russian gun manufacturing line shot at at the VPMZ MOLOT factory

Scott Galloway on Amazon

Quote of the day

I think the future of television is more fragmentation, the bundle has no more elasticity in it.” – Barry Diller.

This explains everything from ManUnited TV to the new channels that Amazon has launched as Prime add-ons in the UK and Germany yesterday. Media has been driving an increasing share of household spend over the past 15 years.

In a time of stagnating economic growth and declining incomes (in real terms) that middle won’t hold. Much of it becomes discretionary spending.

Barry Diller

Links of the day | 在网上找到

Chinese companies are working hard to overcome the copycat stigma | Quartz – actually this isn’t an overnight thing but has been going on for the best part of ten years

Magellan’s Hamish Douglass says Uber is a ‘Ponzi scheme’ | Sydney Morning Herald – I can see the point that Mr Douglass is making. More rose tinted observations might point to the similarity with Amazon; however even Amazon is relying on constant investment of profits from mature units in international and service expansion – Uber seems to be nowhere near breakeven

In2Summit: Q&A with Colin Byrne on the Digital Revolution | The Holmes Report – five years ago would you have seen major PR agencies in London talking about WeChat as the way forward?

Apple is testing 5G millimeter wave wireless technology: FCC filing – Business Insider – I get why they are experimenting with it, but at the moment commercial 5G looks problematic

Apple Begs Android Users to Switch to iPhone | Makeuseof – beg is the wrong word, but this looks like the start of an effort to promote platform switching which is another indicator of smartphone market maturity and saturation

WSJ City – The Rise of the Amateur Oil Sleuths – interesting move to improve information

How He Used Facebook to Win | by Sue Halpern | The New York Review of BooksFacebook did turn out to be essential to Trump’s victory, but not in the way Grassegger, Krogerus, and Schwartz suggest. Though there is little doubt that Cambridge Analytica exploited members of the social network, Facebook’s real influence came from the campaign’s strategic and perfectly legal use of Facebook’s suite of marketing tools

Google now knows when its users go to the store and buy stuff – The Washington Post – which is one more thing to be concerned about.

Inside Facebook’s Telecom Infrastructure Project – Business Insider – really interesting move that could hit the likes of Huawei and Cisco

Partnering Your Way Out Of The Gravitational Pull | Media Post – Richard Schwartz op-ed

Communities Dominate Brands: We Can Now Estimate Global Android Forked Installed Base ie AOSP Devices vs ‘full Google’ Android

Marketing thought on a Monday

More advice from a postcard set by Mullen Lowe. Spare some money to experiment with.

Good advice for marketers

It’s great advice, but really hard to live by as a client. You put this into a budget, but it often gets clipped by management over time. Or your experiment will fall foul of zero-based budgeting.

Links of the day | 在网上找到

How Google reinvented security and eliminated the need for firewalls | Network World – interesting read (reg wall)

Rubicon Project’s Barrett: Tackle Transparency Or Ad Tech Could Face Regulation 05/18/2017 – stating the obvious, but interesting that this came out the same time that they are countersuing The Guardian

Theresa May to create new internet that would be controlled and regulated by government | The Independent – Facebook and Google should just block the UK and see how that goes down, otherwise the precedent it offers internationally is quite worrisome for them

Starbucks is testing out ice cubes made of coffee | Quartz – makes total sense

Telegram now lets users buy things from chatbots in its messaging app | TechCrunch – very WeChat-esque

Spotify’s Loss Widens Despite Big Jump in Revenue — The Information – investor sentiment seems to be more about hope rather than reality

Huawei Loses Ex-Apple Designer Hired to Revamp Smartphone Software — The Information – usual aspects of challenge: distance from headquarters, Chinese language skills, desire for a big step change are all barriers

Introducing Similarity Search at Flickr | Yahoo Research – really cool image search

What’s Happening with Me – Biz Stone – Medium – Biz Stone heads back to Twitter

“MP3 is dead” missed the real, much better story – Marco.org

Five for Friday | 五日(星期五)

Things that made my day this week:

The spectacular world of Irish Traveller graves captured in photographs on Instagram

Yahoo!’s TechPulse event released these interview vignettes with Jerry Yang and David Filo. It also marks the end of an era in Silicon Valley history.





The Manhattan printed telephone directory was updated on a daily basis in the 1940s

Rolex put together this video to highlight their silicon spring (that won’t be affected by magnetism).

According to Nikkei TechOn Sony looks as if it will be releasing the Xperia Touch. It marries a short throw projector image with Kinect like touch sensing, turning any flat surface into a user interaction.

It’s clever, but it won’t be cheap, mainly due to the short throw projector sales it could cannibalise.