Everything from WWDC 2016 worth getting excited about

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There's some exciting stuff at WWDC.
There's some exciting stuff at WWDC.
Photo: Lyle Kahney/Cult of Mac

Although WWDC is a developer event, Apple’s keynote today was chockablock with features for end-users. It came thick and fast, with updates for watches, TVs, phones and computers.

There’s lots to unpack. Some of it was ho-hum. Siri on the Mac? Meh. A new app called Breathe? To do what exactly — remind you to inhale?

But there was tons of great stuff. Here are the features big and small that we’re most excited about.

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Siri comes to Mac and opens up to developers

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Siri is coming to the Mac, and will be opened to third-party developers on iOS.
Siri is coming to the Mac, and will be opened to third-party developers on iOS.
Photo: Apple

Big changes are coming to Siri, Apple’s intelligent voice-activated assistant. For the first time, Siri will be available on the Mac and will be opened to third-party developers on iOS.

While Siri was one of the first voice-controlled AI assistants on the market, it’s fallen behind competitors like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Now, largely because it was a closed system that worked only in Apple’s apps. Opening it to developers makes it much more functional, and presents a more serious challenge to upstarts like Viv that promise to help with a wide range of services and tasks.

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Ex-Apple ad man Ken Segall talks Apple and simplicity [Podcast interview]

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Author Ken Segall worked in advertising with Steve Jobs for more than a dozen years. His new book is called Think Simple.
Author Ken Segall worked in advertising with Steve Jobs for more than a dozen years. His new book is called Think Simple.
Photo: Doug Schneider Photography

Ken Segall is a former Apple ad man who worked closely with Steve Jobs for more than a dozen years. Segall is the guy who put the “i” in iMac and worked on the famous “Think Different” campaign.

The big lesson he learned from Steve Jobs was keeping things simple. But easier said than done. How exactly do you keep things simple?

Segall went out and found 40 business folks who keep things straightforward. His new book based on those interviews is called Think Simple:How Smart Leaders Defeat Complexity.

In a new podcast, Kahney’s Korner, Segall talks about some of those lessons, how Steve Jobs kept things uncomplicated and about how Apple is doing these days without him.

This episode of Kahney’s Korner is supported by TunnelBear, an award-winning service that gives you fast and private access to the internet.

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R.I.P. Apple’s original San Francisco store

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Apple's original flagship store in San Francisco is being quickly decommissioned.
Apple's original flagship store in San Francisco is being quickly decommissioned.
Photo: Lyle Kahney/Cult of Mac

SAN FRANCISCO — The iconic glass staircase is gone. The interior is being gutted. The Apple logos have been covered up.

Rest in peace, Apple’s original flagship store in San Francisco, which opened to great fanfare just a dozen years ago. Apple recently opened a crazily detailed store just two blocks away on Union Square, and the old one is being rapidly dismantled.

Cult of Mac cub reporter Lyle Kahney rode his bike downtown to snap a few photos of the old San Francisco Apple Store before it’s completely gone.

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R.I.P. Muhammad Ali

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Muhammed Ali in Apple's Think Different campaign.
Muhammed Ali in Apple's Think Different campaign.
Photo: Apple

Godammit. I really loved Muhammad Ali. My all-time greatest hero. A great athlete, funny as shit, and a giant of a man because he gave a shit about something other than himself. He stood up for what he believed in, and he shone a light on all kinds of injustice. Rest in peace Ali.

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Check out the crazy attention to detail at Apple’s new San Francisco store

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Apple_Store_Union_Square_exterior_side

Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

SAN FRANCISCO — Look carefully at the cracks in the sidewalk around Apple’s new flagship store in San Francisco. They all line up with architectural elements of the store.

Some are continuous with the metal panels on the exterior walls. Some line up with the windows, and the huge glass panels that make up the 42-foot high front door. Some of the cracks are continuous with the stone floor tiles inside the store.

In turn, the joints in the floor line up with panels on the wall, which line up with the lighting panels on the ceiling.

In fact, most of the lines in the store — the edges of the glass balconies, cutouts in the middle of the tables, the edges of shelves and drawers — all line up with other elements of the store.

Some of these lines run continously from the sidewalk in front of the store all the way through to the tree-lined plaza in the back. It’s a bit crazy, when you examine it, and very, very difficult to pull off.

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Lust List: Moshi’s Avanti headphones are light and stylish [Reviews]

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Moshi's Avanti headphones are easy to wear and easy to carry. They sound [pretty great too.
Moshi's Avanti headphones are easy to wear and easy to carry. They sound [pretty great too.
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

Lust List: Avanti On-Ear Headphones by Moshi

I like the convenience of carrying earbuds in my pocket, but I’ve never liked jamming them in my ears. I love the sound of full-size headphones, but not the bulk.

I’ve discovered a happy middle ground. Moshi’s new $200 Avanti On-Ear Headphones are lightweight, folding headphones that sit atop your ears, not in them or over them.

They’re like a pair of soft pillowy hamburger buns that sound pretty darn great.

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Ditch your old router, Eero is the new king of Wi-Fi routers [Review]

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In a recent survey, Apple's soon-to-disappear AirPort was ranked the most popular Wi-Fi router.
In a recent survey, Apple's soon-to-disappear AirPort was ranked the most popular Wi-Fi router.
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

I’ve seen the future of Wi-Fi. It’s called Eero. It comes in a pack of three, costs an arm and a leg, but boy is it worth it.

Eero is a slick system of mesh-connected routers that blanket your whole house in Wi-Fi. Eero promises to eliminate dead spots, make restarts redundant, and offer blazing speeds from the basement to the attic.

In my tests, Eero performs as advertised. After years of Wi-Fiheadaches, and an Apple Time Capsule that barely worked, we now have fast and reliable Wi-Fi all over the house.

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Why I love both of Amazon’s new Echo smart speakers [Reviews]

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The Amazon Echo Tap is the portable, battery-powered member of the smart speaker family.
The Amazon Echo Tap is the portable, battery-powered member of the smart speaker family.
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

Lust List: Amazon’s Echo Dot and Echo Tap

Ask Amazon’s Echo smart speaker “How much does the Earth weigh?” and she’ll rattle off the answer in pounds. It takes about a full minute and is genuinely amusing. It’s just one of many surprises up Echo’s sleeve (see this crazy list of Echo Easter Eggs on Reddit). It proves she is by far the best computer you can talk to. Sorry Siri.

And now there are two new members of Amazon’s smart speaker family, both with significant advantages. I love them both, with a couple of caveats.

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Why Jony Ive rides in a chauffeured Bentley

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This is the luxurious interior of the Bentley Mulsanne, Jony Ive's chauffeur-driven car.
This is the luxurious interior of the Bentley Mulsanne, Jony Ive's chauffeur-driven car.
Photo: Bentley Motors

The striking thing about Motor Trend‘s piece on the rumored Apple car is all the talk of the “user experience.”

The various auto designers and experts interviewed by Motor Trend speculate that Apple will try to redefine the car “experience.” They talk about stuff like acoustics, and look and feel, rather than specs like miles per gallon or engine torque.

They predict that Apple will bring a better “user experience” to the car of the future, not just a better physical product.

This reminded me of interviewing Apple’s designers for my Jony Ive book. They explained that the design group takes exactly this approach when thinking about new Apple products. Instead of starting with chip speeds or screen resolutions, they begin by asking each other how the new product should make the user feel.

And thinking about this made me realize why Jony Ive has a chauffeur. It’s not because he’s a one percenter. It’s about Project Titan, Apple’s future car.

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