Things that made my day this week
Scott Galloway and Adam Alter on smartphone addiction
The Hood Internet have done an amazing four minute edit of forty years of hip hop. It’s razor sharp precision
BBH Shanghai have created a beautiful ad for Audi China which features science fiction author Hao Jing Fang.
Louis Vuitton have been doing a lot of forward thinking content and events. Whilst this video is beautifully shot, it feels retro by comparison to other things that they’ve done
Carhartt Work In Progress created this great skate video in Italy
AZZURRO from Carhartt Work In Progress on Vimeo.
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:
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
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
Productivity refinements including a split screen view
- Uses machine learning to improve searching and photo recognition and integration with photo-editing
- 50 media partners integrated into TV app
- Amazon is coming to Apple TV. Interesting move of detente between Apple and Amazon
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.
- Improving discoverability of app stickers and apps – much needed
- Automatic synchronisation of Messages across devices, delete once, delete across all devices
- Person-to-person payments as an iMessage app. Obvious competitor would be WeChat in China and PayPal in the west
- 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
- Indoor navigation for airports
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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 Pro – 20% bigger screen, 120Hz screen refresh rate. Doubling default memory sizes up to 512GB
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
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
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
Surreal and manic
Kouhei Nakama | Design & Motion – really nice 3D animations
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.
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.
黑科技 （动漫中出现的词语）- Baidu Baike
Full Metal Panic – Amazon
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?
“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.
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 Books – Facebook 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
More advice from a postcard set by Mullen Lowe. Spare some money to experiment with.
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.