We have lots of great outside articles for you to read this week, starting with a 4-minute interview with Adam Engst on Southern California’s KCRW radio station and a New Republic article that keys off a recent TidBITS staff roundtable. In other pieces, Rob Griffiths compares Siri and Google’s voice input technology, Dan Moren and Lex Friedman look into how iCloud silently drops some email on the floor, and the folks at Panic discover (with the help of a hacksaw) that a tiny computer resides inside Apple’s Lightning Digital AV Adapter. Apple also announced one billion downloads at iTunes U, and former Mac evangelist Guy Kawasaki joins Google’s Motorola group to advise on the future of smartphones.
Analyzing Apple on KCRW Radio — Adam Engst’s short interview with Steve Chiotakis of KCRW (Southern California’s leading NPR affiliate) did a nice job of explaining some of Apple’s initial attraction, what was astonishing about the iPhone and iPad, why Apple is being confronted with more competition now, and what challenges the company faces going forward.
Bummed Out by the Brand in the New Republic — Our staff roundtable looking at why people still support Apple after all these years got some attention from the New Republic, where Lydia DePillis used it to bookend her article “Apple Agonistes: What happens to Mac fanatics when the brand bums them out?” She talked to a lot of the right people, and the article catches some of the tensions currently being felt in the Apple community.
Macworld Tracks Down iCloud’s Silent Email Filtering — There’s nothing all that new here — Apple has long deleted some email messages silently, even including TidBITS at various times — but Dan Moren and Lex Friedman show how iCloud can delete messages containing certain phrases with no warning to the user, even if the phrase occurs only in a zipped PDF attachment. So if something you’re expecting doesn’t show up (assuming you notice), consider asking your correspondent to send it to another email address.
Rob Griffiths Pits Siri against Google Search — We love Siri, but is Apple’s voice recognition technology the best out there? At Macworld, Rob Griffiths pits Siri against the voice-input capabilities of the Google Search app for iOS and finds that Google’s system “works better, faster, and more intuitively.” Apple won’t ever allow Google’s voice input to escape out of Google’s own apps in iOS, but Apple still needs to keep Siri competitive with voice input in Android and Chrome OS.
Panic Discovers a Tiny Computer in Lightning AV Adapter — Stymied by oddities when outputting video from an iPad to an HDTV, the folks at Panic took a hacksaw to Apple’s Lightning Digital AV Adapter to investigate. To their surprise, they found what appears to be a miniature computer, complete with a processor and 2 gigabits of RAM (for reference, that equals 256 MB of RAM, the same amount shipped in the original iPad). Panic’s initial speculation was that the processor was outputting an AirPlay signal (which would partially explain some compression artifacts that appear on screen). However, an anonymous but apparently knowledgeable commenter, who sounds like he or she works at Apple, explained that the adapter’s approach “essentially allows us to output to any device on the planet, irregardless of the endpoint bus (HDMI, DisplayPort, and any future inventions) by simply producing the relevant adapter that plugs into the Lightning port.” See for yourself!
One Billion Downloads at iTunes U — Apple has announced that downloads of iTunes U content have topped one billion. iTunes U doesn’t get much mainstream press, but it could be one of Apple’s most important projects, hosting over 2,500 courses (and thousands more private courses) from over 1,200 colleges and universities, plus another 1,200 K-12 schools and districts. Some iTunes U courses have as many as 250,000 students enrolled in them, and over 60 percent of the iTunes U app downloads originate from outside the United States. Put simply, iTunes U is an astonishing educational resource.
Guy Kawasaki Joins Google’s Motorola Group — Ex-Apple evangelist Guy Kawasaki has taken a job advising cellphone manufacturer Motorola, now owned by Google. He’ll be focusing on product design, user interface, marketing, and social media, and it will be interesting to see what difference his experience at Apple and in the Macintosh world in general will make in future Google phones.