Amazon-Echo1
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Amazon Echo Is All About You

While professing not to be a geek, sometimes I act like one. This afternoon, I requested an invite to buy Amazon Echo, which promises to bring Star Trek-like responsive computing to the home. The cylindrical device, announced today, is a Bluetooth- and WiFi-enabled streaming speaker that responds to users’ questions. Just say “Alexa” and ask something.  “What’s the weather?” “What is the largest dinosaur?” This is how search information should be, assuming Echo resounds as strongly as Amazon’s product information and demo video claim.

Voice response is exactly what consumers need from a personal device, and many others used every day that pack chips and operating systems. While humans are tool users, for which touch interfaces make sense, the ability to communicate with language sets us apart from all other species. What is more familiar than talking, and expecting response because of it? [Read more]

iPhone 6 Neko
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iPhone 6 Review

Two weeks ago—and it sure seems longer—I switched to iPhone 6. With my 92 year-old father-in-law three days in the hospital, and ready to be discharged, I thanked my lucky stars for the preorder; standing in line outside Apple Store or the local Verizon shop wasn’t an option on September 19. Luckier still, I spotted and stopped the FedEx truck in the neighborhood on my way to the hospital.

But being at Apple Store, rather than preordering, would have made a difference. After handling iPhone 6 Plus, the larger device appeals to me more. For most people upgrading from older models, the Plus will be too big. I thought the same applied to me, until handling one last week. My first impression was fabulous, starting with the screen and how the device felt in the hand—not too large at all. [Read more]

Original-iPod
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iPod is Classic

In my professional life as a journalist, I only wrote one rumor story for which sourcing was truly sketchy. Generally my rule is this: Write what you know to be true in the moment based on the most reliable—and identified, meaning we directly communicated—sources available. But I didn’t feel confident about my Oct. 17, 2001 iPod story. My source (only one) confirmed that six days later Apple would unveil a “digital music device”, but it wasn’t clear what that meant, something the story reflects.

I reminisce about iPod because it’s gone. CNET, where I worked when writing about the mystery music device, reported the device’s disappearance yesterday. The link for iPod Classic now goes to iPod Touch, and the music player is no longer sold at Apple Store Online—not even refurbished. The extended name, adopted in 2007, is appropriate. The original iPod is a “classic”. It is one of four foundational products released in 2001 that still drive everything Apple in 2014. Music changed the fruit-logo company long before iPhone established the world’s largest tech company. [Read more]

MacBook Air
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Ten Months, 26 Stories About Apple

As a personal exercise exploring the tone of my BetaNews stories about Apple, I reviewed all of them written over the past 10 months—just 26, which isn’t many. I did this because, despite the last two posts (here and here) about Apple apologists, reader response does matter. Some critics harp about balance, and I admit there’s no glowing love for the company expressed in most of my stories.

There shouldn’t be. What some people call negativity, I see as constructive criticism. Then there is straight news reporting, which needn’t praise or raze. I prepared the list for myself and post it here mostly for my reference. But it’s a good look at my most recent news stories and analyses about Apple. [Read more]

Knight
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Finally, Some Competent Tech Reporting

Yesterday, I griped about how effectively Apple PR sets the Fourth and Fifth Estates speculating and rumormongering. What coincidence! Today, 9to5Mac published Mark Gurman’s gripping inside look into Apple’s PR strategy. The story, “Seeing Through the Illusion: Understanding Apple’s Mastery of the Media“, is fine example of the kind of news reporting too often missing on the web today. His multi-section report is well-organized, believably-sourced (even where anonymously), and accurate—to which I can attest based on my experience dealing with Apple as a journalist. He also validates many of my ongoing complaints about how bloggers and journalists report about the company.

I am thoroughly impressed by Matt’s report, not because I agree but know it to be true. I have interacted with all the principal PR people that he identifies. He writes about my experience, and that of other long-time tech journalists. More importantly, I like his tone, which even when recounting something many readers will take as negative about PR, is flat. His story is balanced, well-sourced, and believable. [Read more]