Something is happening on September 9th, alright!

UPDATE: You might think what could be bigger than Apple's special event with potential new iPhones and iWatches? Well Gizmodo has been invited (and apparently forgiven by Apple) to the event for the first time since 2009 (after the iPhone 4 fiasco). This is new!

Apple just sent out a bunch of invitations to the press inviting them for a special event on September 9th in Cupertino (not in San Francisco) (via 9to5mac). Whether or not Apple will announce just the iPhone 6 or the iWatch as well in this event, is not yet clear. A recent report from ReCode suggested that Apple will announce both the iPhone 6 and the iWatch in this event. I am not sure how Apple can fit in these two product announcements in just under two hours even if they hustle though the event like they did in the WWDC earlier this year. Also is both these products are announced on September 9th what is left for the speculated October event? 

As usual the invite from Apple is trendy and kind of intriguing. Lets leave it someone out there to try to dissect the "clues" in the invite, shall we?

Apple now plans to unveil a new wearable alongside the two next-generation iPhones we told you the company will debut on September 9. (Funny “joke,” Gruber.)
— ReCode
Apple's September 9th (2014) event invite (Source: 9to5mac.com)

Apple's September 9th (2014) event invite (Source: 9to5mac.com)

Forbes' Horace Deidu of Asymco Interview

There was a recent short interview of Horace Deidu of Asymco on Forbes and this one was a classic. I was not just impressed by the Horace's answers, I am used to that and that is what we expect from him as a smart analyst, having been following for a long time on both his blog and his podcast. But the questions posed to him were also really smart and intelligent. The highlight of the interview was the question on what questions Horace would ask in an imaginary interview with Tim cook, for which his response was purely about creativity and the people responsible for it in Apple. Any other "analyst" would have asked him when the darn Apple "i"TV will be announced! 

1. How are employees at Apple motivated and retained? My concern here is that with the vastness of opportunities in technology, how can any company retain its most important resource. I consider talent far harder to obtain than capital. We are obsessed with allocating capital (which is over-abundant and should be squandered) while we treat the sources of ideas as commodities (which they are not as they are scarce and should be hoarded). I hope management can be forthcoming about what they are doing to really touch the employee’s creativity buttons as a means to keep them.

2. How is the company structured for a creative and innovation business model? I’d like to get deeper into the functional/divisional org structure dichotomy. If you look at Apple, their functional org is striking but I suspect there is much more to it than that. Functional does not scale to where they are so how do they do it? Is the org structure actually a key to the first question? Is it actually the secret sauce? I’d love to hear him compare and contrast with Pixar, especially given what Ed Catmull wrote in Creativity, Inc.
— Horace Deidu via Forbes

iOS App Development Basics - Storyboard Troubleshooting

If you have been following my blog, you know that I have started dabbing into iOS App development (Can I develop an iOS App?), more so as a hobby and have been trying to cram in time during weekends to first learn Objective C and then learn iOS coding, in particular. Now I am onto Core Data and for all this Lynda.com has become my one stop destination and the videos offered by Simon Allardice are just too good. My first App is shaping up well and though my progress has been slow, it has been steady. 

The thing with Xcode is that... it is just awesome. It is such a nice App with everything you need packed into one place. There are these wonderful starting templates, which get you started right away without much of a starting trouble. But I ended up getting stuck with a particular issue yesterday that took me two hours to troubleshoot and there is no shame in admitting that it was a silly one when I found the solution. 

So here it is... When you create a new project in Xcode you get showed templates to choose from and I like the Single View Application as it is simple but has everything to build your own App from. However in Xcode 5, you cannot use a Single View template with Core Data enabled by default. You can add Core Data manually, but oh boy isn't that a pain! So if you want Core Data enabled template, you are stuck with the Master-Detail template or Empty Application template or Utility Application template. So after giving up on adding Core Data manually to a Single View Application template, I decided to go with an Empty Application template with Core Data enabled. 

When you start with a Single View template, it comes with a Storyboard and when you run the application, the program compiles just fine with whatever on the Storyboard being displayed just fine

When you start with a Single View template, it comes with a Storyboard and when you run the application, the program compiles just fine with whatever on the Storyboard being displayed just fine

When you start with a Single View template, it comes with a Storyboard and when you run the application, the program compiles just fine with whatever on the Storyboard being displayed just fine as shown in the above picture. However the Empty Application template does not come with a Storyboard built in and hence I added a Storyboard by going to file > New > File in the Xcode menu bar and choosing Storyboard from iOS > User Interface. A Storyboard appeared (MainTest2.storyboard here) and after adding the same label, when I hit run, the simulator showed a white screen with no label on it as shown below. 

Adding a Storyboard manually to an Empty Application does not display what is on the Storyboard automatically

Adding a Storyboard manually to an Empty Application does not display what is on the Storyboard automatically

So though I created a new Storyboard and everything on the side pane just looked fine, there was some connection missing that told Xcode that this Storyboard was my main Storyboard. Of course this was the easy part to figure out. But the tough part was what and where, that connection was to made. After almost an hour, I finally found out that the connection has to be made in the plist file, in the 'Supporting files' folder in the side pane. One you open the plist file, add an entry (new row) to it by clicking on Editor > Add Item (make sure that the center pane showing the plist file's rows is active) and an empty row appears in the plist file (see picture below). In the Information Property List column type in 'Main storyboard file base name' and then in the Value column type in the name of your newly created Storyboard file (only the exact filename with no extension). This tells Xcode that this custom created Storyboard is your application's main Storyboard. 

In the Information Property List column type in 'Main storyboard file base name' and then in the Value column type in the name of your newly created Storyboard file. This tells Xcode that this custom created Storyboard is your application's main Storyboard. 

In the Information Property List column type in 'Main storyboard file base name' and then in the Value column type in the name of your newly created Storyboard file. This tells Xcode that this custom created Storyboard is your application's main Storyboard. 

However there is one more thing specific to using an Empty Application template. In the AppDelegate.m file there is some unwanted code that needs to be deleted before getting your Storyboard display what is shown on it. In the method, '- (BOOL)application:(UIApplication *)application didFinishLaunchingWithOptions:(NSDictionary *)', delete everything (see below) that is there except for 'return YES;'. This code was forcing a new window to be showed on your Storyboard as soon as the Application was launched and hence whatever was on your custom Storyboard never showed up.  

Delete everything except 'return YES;' in the above method

Delete everything except 'return YES;' in the above method

This is it. Now compile and run your Empty Application with custom Storyboard and it should display whatever is shown on the Storyboard as shown below. This issue might be a minor one and might not seem too complicated, but when you are a beginner not just in coding but  anything in life, its these seemingly little annoyances or missteps that will end up costing you a lot of time and effort. So hopefully this helps and I will continue to post such things that I learn from my App development experience, here. 

Once the Storyboard connection is made in the plist file and the unwanted code in the AppDelegate.m file is removed the contents of the custom Storyboard should appear after running the program.

Once the Storyboard connection is made in the plist file and the unwanted code in the AppDelegate.m file is removed the contents of the custom Storyboard should appear after running the program.

Can Apple repeat what it did with the iPhone with an iWatch?

No... this is not the iWatch... it is just the old iPod Nano with a watch strap (Source: CoolMaterial.com)

No... this is not the iWatch... it is just the old iPod Nano with a watch strap (Source: CoolMaterial.com)

A lot of speculation, without many leaks have been going around int he mythical iWatch world. From John Gruber, refusing to call it an iWatch, but suggesting that it might have a square display (not a rectangular or circular) on his recent talk show episode, to many analysts reporting multiple pieces of information on this subject, the iWatch (let me call it that for simplicity) might be the next new category that Tim Cook has promised in 2014. With a bunch of so called "Smart watches" already announced, the category as a whole feels like a dud at present, with nothing impressive being offered by any company. Whatever it is... the hype and mystery surrounding this product feels almost like a dejavu of 2007, pre iPhone release. This article from Techpinions is one of the smartest articles on this category I have seen in a while comparing this situation with the iWatch to the situation with the iPhone in 2007. 

I come back to my sense that we’re in 2007 in smartphone terms (or 2010 in tablet terms, or 2001 in MP3 player terms). In each of those years, Apple entered the market with a new device which transformed the category and turned it from niche to mainstream in short order. In each case, existing devices were clunky, narrow in their appeal, performed poorly and failed to ignite consumer interest.
— Jan Dawson (Techpinions)

We all knew that the iPhone was a celebrity!

Ever since the iPhone was first introduced in 2007, it was a sensational product, almost enjoying a celebrity status in its field. But today the iPhone became a celebrity, officially. When I say officially, I mean, it got its own paparazzi treatment, from TMZ! Yeah you heard it right, TMZ notoriously known for stalking celebrities, now has started stalking the iPhone 6. TMZ posted today (via MacDailyNews) that they have obtained a "smuggled" iPhone 6 prototype and it does look like a lot of previously leaked pictures and videos, but who knows what it could be with all the cloning of the iPhone that is going in on globally. 

The leaked pics of the iPhone 6 from TMZ looks like every other leak that we have seen so far (Source: TMZ via MacDailyNews)

The leaked pics of the iPhone 6 from TMZ looks like every other leak that we have seen so far (Source: TMZ via MacDailyNews)

Diversity in Technology Industry in USA

Apple released its workforce diversity numbers recently and I did not want to post or comment on it until someone compared those numbers with other big and notable technology companies in the US. And that happened today, thanks to Nick Heer of PixelEnvy. Before going into the details of this post, a few things first. Apple also released an Ad showcasing its diverse workforce and how it believes in "Inclusion inspires innovation", here. And Tim Cook also commented that he is not happy enough with Apple's diversity numbers and will continue to work on improving these numbers. 

Apple is committed to transparency, which is why we are publishing statistics about the race and gender makeup of our company. Let me say up front: As CEO, I’m not satisfied with the numbers on this page. They’re not new to us, and we’ve been working hard for quite some time to improve them
— Tim Cook
Role of women in technology leadership jobs in US (Source: PixelEnvy)

Role of women in technology leadership jobs in US (Source: PixelEnvy)

As usual when Apple released these numbers there was a public outcry from everyone on how Apple was a white man's paradise, in terms of its majority of the workforce being white and male. Of course that is true and the numbers speak for themselves in this case. But this post makes it clear that Apple is not alone in this and this issue is plaguing the entire tech industry in US as a whole and not just Apple. In fact for example if you compare, the percentage of women employees in leadership roles at, Apple has the highest percentage of many big US technology companies. The same way, Apple has one of the highest percentage of women employees in technology jobs, but overall it doesn't do so good in non-technology related jobs. So head over to this excellent set of data tables for more detailed comparisons, before jumping the gun on holding Apple solely responsible for this unfortunate disparity in the tech industry. 

The latest iPhone 6 rumor

The last few days have been very dry in the Apple-sphere with not much going on, be it in terms of 'Apple is doomed' news or on new groundbreaking Apple product rumors. But today a couple of "not so new" rumors popped up. But the interesting part about these iPhone 6 rumors are that they are from the Wall Street Journal, which has a reasonable record in the past of leaking Apple's yet to be announced plans. This time, the WSJ (via 9to5mac as you need to subscribe to read WSJ yourself!) reported that only the high end models of the iPhone 6 will have a sapphire display and these models will include both the 4.7" and the 5.5" sizes of the iPhone 6. So in spite of not so much news being leaked out about the 5.5" iPhone 6 (at least not as much as the 4.7" one), the report goes on to say that both the sizes of iPhone 6 will have the sapphire display in their high end models. But more interestingly for me, if this is true, then Apple's iPhone pricing strategy would see a dramatic change starting with iPhone 6. 

Right now the only place where Apple uses Sapphire on its iPhone 5S is the home button, on top of the Touch ID sensor (Source: Apple.com)

Right now the only place where Apple uses Sapphire on its iPhone 5S is the home button, on top of the Touch ID sensor (Source: Apple.com)

Currently Apple sells a current generation iPhone and a older generation iPhone (iPhone 5C is still based on iPhone 5 for most of the part) and then within each generation iPhone, it sells different memory iPhone models at $100 more per piece. So the only high end model within the same generation iPhone 5S model that you can get is twice the memory for more money. But if this rumor happens to be true then, Apple is  helping its higher end model/models stand out further by making them more feature rich, like a much better scratch resistant sapphire screen (that obviously costs more to make). This seems similar to what Apple did initially when its introduced Retina displays on its MacBooks, where only the high end MacBook Pros (started with the 15" ones and then descended to the 13" models later) had this "new" feature and they costed more. Of course with laptops the bigger the screen, the more higher end the model is. Now as I have quipped before, no one knows what Apple has in mind for the two sizes of the iPhone 6, as in which would be more high end? So either way as per this rumor, customers might have more choices to make and Apple might have more ways of differentiating its iPhone models and hence more ways to increase its profit margins (remember the profit margins for Apple are way higher for the 64GB iPhone 5S than for the 16GB one, see this nice iMore article for some details on this). 

16 or 32 or even 64GB of extra NAND Flash storage almost certainly doesn’t cost $50/$100 at Apple scale. The small, medium, and large iOS devices cost plus or minus that much. The low end is simply there for people for whom price is one of the most important features, and the premium for those for whom money is a lesser object.
— iMore


Its time for PC vs. Mac Ads

Gone are the days of Apple's hilarious Mac vs. PC Ads, that drew a lot of attention from admirers and critics likewise. Those from Apple featured heavily on how Macs stood out from the PCs, i.e., superior security from malware, better software value in terms of inbuilt suites, better hardware, less confusing and tricking price points, better service via Apple Genius bars, lack of out the box nonsense-ware, etc (here is the complete list on Wikipedia). Of course most of these were true and there were area where the Apple Macs were behind the PC as well, at that time, like lack of software offerings, lack of diversified price points, etc. But at that time Apple was the underdog and going after the Market leader, Microsoft. The Ads were effective and though Apple Macs never outgrew or even came close to the PCs, the Ads were deemed a huge success.

Mac vs. PC Ad - Virus (Source: YouTube.com)

Mac vs. PC Ad - Virus (Source: YouTube.com)

Now come 2104, looks like the tides have changed or have they? Microsoft has been going after Apple's iPad, some time in the past, comparing them with its Surface tablets. Now it is time for it go after the MacBook Air (via MacRumors). What is interesting is the theme of these Ads. They are very reminiscent of the Mac vs. PC Ads, but the difference is that Microsoft doesn't look like it has much to go on. For example all these three Ads, pitch the Surface tablet as having a touchscreen and better connectivity or more ports, thats it. I agree (and so do many) that I would like to replace my iPad and my MacBook Pro with one machine. But am I willing to sacrifice the advantages of these two separate devices, just to get one device that crams in both of them, like a Surface tablet? I don't think so, at least not yet and so does the market. The Surface tablet is being pitched as "no compromise" tablet and laptop, but unfortunately it has ended up being a fully compromised tablet and a laptop (The Verge's Surface review). The tablet seemingly is apparently to bulky and heavy to be used as a tablet, the desktop portion of it also seems to be too confusing with both the traditional Windows and Windows Mobile like touchscreen interface. On the whole, Surface is so typical of a Microsoft product (or even Google's) where the Engineers got all their ways, say yes to everything so we can fill in the spec sheet with feature after feature. This is the exact opposite of the Apple ideology of saying no to almost everything except the very very few things that are absolutely necessary. 

The (Google TV) remote has 78 buttons. Then, the employee said, Mr. Nelson displayed a photo of the Apple TV remote, a thin piece of metal with just three buttons.

How did Apple’s designers decide on three buttons? They started out with an idea, Mr. Nelson explained, and debated until they had just what was needed — a button to play and pause a video, a button to select something to watch, and another to go to the main menu.

The Google TV remote serves as a counterexample; it had so many buttons, Mr. Nelson said, because the individual engineers and designers who worked on the project all got what they wanted. But, Apple’s designers concluded, only three were needed.
— The NY Times

Another interesting thing about these Ads are the fact that though Apple's Macs are no where close to the marketshare of the PCs, looks like MacBook Airs alone are doing very well against the Surface tablets. And these Ads are a testimony to the fact that Microsoft is kind of realizing this fact that the MacBook Air like computers are going to be dominating the consumer market from now. Apple obviously realized this sooner, as they have been making the MacBook Airs much more affordable and less crippled in terms of features. It is fair to assume that Apple will be concentrating (the 12" MacBook Air?) of the MacBook Air like much more than the MacBook Pro line, in the near future, as it seems to be the favorite for majority of the people. 

But Macs surprised everyone by selling (in Q3 2014) a good 4.4 million units, easily beating average expectation of around 3.8 million, mostly due to the popularity of the lower cost Macbook Airs
— The Frustum (07/22/14)

More iPhone 6 rumors

With iPhone 6 launch event coming closer, more rumors keep pouring in. Today there were a couple of rumors on iPhone 6 via GigaOm. The first one was about how the Apple logo on the back of the iPhone 6 might not be a cut out with light shining through, but rather made of solid metal (Liquidmetal?). While this is purely ornamental, the second, related rumor was more interesting. Apple has always tried to make its devices more compact and portable, irrespective of their primary purpose, from the iPods to the recent Mac Pros. Its ideology always has been that any product should only be as bulky as is absoultely necessary. It famously abandons technology that it deems too archaic with its newer generation products, like the DVD drive and ethernet port on the MacBook Pros to enable this 'compacting' of its products. Some of these almost always end up being controversial though, in the long run seem to make sense (remember the uproar initially when the iPhone came with a non-removable battery or the first time when the Retina Macbook Pros could not be upgraded post purchase with more RAM or hard rive capacity). 

iPhone 6 is apparently going to be even thinner than the iPhone 5 (via 9to5mac)

iPhone 6 is apparently going to be even thinner than the iPhone 5 (via 9to5mac)

With the iPhone, almost every new generation (not the "S" upgrade) has seen thinner, more compact design changes, even making iPhone 5 (and 5S) almost too thin to hold, comfortably. A lot of people have been calling out Apple on this, saying it puts too much importance on making its iPhone thinner and hence sacrificing potential features that could have existed, had the iPhone not thinned down, so much. With the iPhone 6, if the rumors are right, Apple is still following the same trend, as the pictures of leaked dummies have shown the iPhone 6 to be considerably thinner than the iPhone 5. Though I don't agree on all these criticisms, I do have to agree on a couple of them. For example I would on any day, prefer the iPhone 5 (or 5S) to be as thick as the iPhone 4 (or 4S) if that enabled it to have a much better battery life (thicker iPhone 5 implies bigger battery). The same way the limitation with smartphone cameras are that they have to be crammed in very thin chassis and if there is anything that cameras like, for taking better pictures, its longer lens lengths or thicker chassis. So thinner iPhone generally means that a sacrifice is needed on the camera's hardware capability that Apple has to overcome through its software modifications. Again I would prefer an iPhone 5 as thick as an iPhone 4 if that results in a much better camera lens. 

A potential design change to the iPhone's camera (via GigaOm)

A potential design change to the iPhone's camera (via GigaOm)

But Apple can be adamant sometimes (what??). So far it has not paid attention to these criticisms and has continued to thin down the iPhones even further. However the second part of this rumor suggests that Apple might come up with a design for iPhone 6's camera, where there might be a slight protrusion (again Liquidmetal?) around the camera, to enable only the camera part of the iPhone 6 to be thicker, hence be much better. If this is true, it is a significant deviation from Apple's design principles of making all its products flush with uniform flawless design, like the unibody MacBooks. But if there is anything that we have learnt form Apple, its that it doesn't care about retreating its past principles/philosophies, if that deviation is well justified. So if at all this design ends up on the iPhone 6, that would enable a better camera on a thinner iPhone body, with the compromise being a tiny flawed surface on the otherwise perfect iPhone.