This Week in Tech 618
Jason Snell: This is this Week in Tech. I'm Jason Snell sitting in for Leo LaPorte. We've got a lot of Apple news this week from the Worldwide Developer's Conference in San Jose. Plus a little bit about Amazon versus Walmart. We've got some bad news from Uber; what else is new? And maybe a feud between Taylor Swift and Katie Perry? We'll find a tech angle, next on TWiT.
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Jason: This is TWiT, episode 618, recorded June 11, 2017
Snakes Versus Alligators
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This is TWiT. Welcome back! I am not Leo LaPorte, that much is obvious! I am your guest host, Jason Snell. Leo is gallivanting around south of the equator. Of course he's always like eight moves ahead of the rest of us. Knowing that Apple's Developer Conference would be this week, he decided to get the guy who's the editor at MacWorld for more than a decade to guest-host for him. We'll talk a little bit of Apple but we'll also talk Uber. Maybe some Amazon. A little bit of Taylor Swift if you're very good at the very end. And who knows what else might happen. Let me introduce my wonderful guests who are with me as I take the helm from Leo for this week's TWiT. Lisa Schmeiser is here. She is the editor at the Windows Supersite. And a good friend from way back. One of my former coworkers. Hi Lisa, welcome.
Lisa Schmeiser: Hi, it's a pleasure to be here.
Jason: And another former colleague of mine at the great days at IDG, Harry McCracken. Now at Fast Company. Hi, Harry.
Harry McCracken: Hi, Jason. It's good to be here.
Jason: It's great to have you both in the studio and remotely across the Skype interwebs. It's Mikah Sargent from iMore. Hi Mikah.
Mikah Sargent: Hello. Sadly, not former colleagues but certainly colleagues now. Aren't we?
Jason: We are. Are you sad that we're not not colleagues anymore? Wait a second.
Mikah: No, I'm happy to be here.
Jason: Okay good. That's a relief. Boy, secrets coming out here on TWiT. Again, the big news this week and I would feel more guilty about pumping up the Apple news this week given my background if it were not one of the best weeks if not the best week for Apple news of the entire year. Maybe the iPhone week is a little bit better but it's close. Apple's Worldwide Developer's Conference was in San Jose, California this week. It started out with a keynote on Monday. Continued throughout the week. Lots of other side events going on. It was almost a two and a half hour, two hour-twenty minute-long keynote that was packed full. I have it on good authority that the first draft of the keynote was well over three hours. And they actually cut a lot of stuff out. And then some stuff in advance. There's still a huge amount of stuff that they dealt with this week. And we're going to talk about it a little bit. Most interesting perhaps: a brand-new product. There are a couple products that aren't even going to ship until December. But Apple pre-announced them which they very rarely do with products. Unless they have a product in a brand-new category like the HomePod, which is Apple's answer packed with Siri power. Apparently, although we didn't hear it, it's Apple's answer to the Amazon Echo and also the Google Home and that Cortana speaker that Microsoft is doing with Harmon Kardon. Smart speakers right? This is the Apple smart speaker. I heard it so I've got to say that yea, it sounded pretty good. But you couldn't touch it and you couldn't talk to it. Those were not allowed. So I can only say that I heard it and it sounded pretty good.
Lisa: Do not gaze upon it directly.
Jason: Harry, were you one of the few that were allowed to hear but not touch the HomePod?
Harry: Yes, I heard it. We heard some questions which they said were good questions. But not ones they were going to answer right then.
Jason: Yea, you had a similar experience to me. Which was we know what we know from the keynote. And if you ask them questions they said well, "remember the keynote?" And that was about it.
Lisa: So that's what they did? Literally: that's a great question, moving on.
Harry: Stay tuned.
Jason: So I would say that Apple has now entered this fray but they haven't. They said they're intention to enter the fray in six months. Mikah, what's your take on the HomePod compared to… I know you follow this home automation stuff closely. I know you have opinions about this. Let's start with you. What's your take on Apple's connected speaker category?
Mikah: I certainly do have some thoughts. I think that the problem is my whole opinion and feels are based on the rumors that took place. So because of that I ended up being pretty disappointed by the HomePod that came out. Because I was expecting this really cool in-home home-assistant that was kind of going to take on Amazon's Echo and Google's Home device. And instead what we got was a Sonos-like product that seems to be competing in the premium audio space. And yea, it seems like it's going to do just that. It's going to work with Airplay and that's great. And it's got acoustic fibers all over the outside that look like Spiderman at a moment. But I'm just not impressed; is what it ultimately boils down to. And maybe that's the fault of the different sites out there that were telling me this was going to be Apple's Amazon Echo. But it just is a speaker that happens to have Siri. And really what they cared about and what they talked about was the seven-tweeter array system and the custom-designed subwoofer. Which was not the stuff that I was interested in at least.
Jason: So were you disappointed because you were kind of hoping there would be more of a sort of low-cost, lower-quality thing like the Echo rather than having to make basically a Sonos with Siri in it?
Mikah: See, yea. And I don't even know if lower quality is the right… I mean it would have had to be because it would've been lower cost of course. But I wanted to see them focus more on a device that could be this smart assistant that offers up some of the stuff that Google and Amazon are looking into now. Which is a smart assistant that is aware of what's going on. And also aware of what you want to do in a home. And so it will light up and the lights are basically giving a hint that there's something that it wants to tell you. You ask it what's up. And it's like, "hey did you know that the traffic is really bad right now? So you should probably leave in the next five minutes." Or notifications that popup and can let you know about calendar appointments or flight cancellations or things like that. And that's not at all what it is. And the same thing applies to being proactive in the home where it always knows that at eight PM, I end up shutting off the lights in a certain room. And I walk into the kitchen and want to have a cup of coffee or something like that. If it starts to learn that kind of thing and get better at being an active automater for my home, those are the things I was hoping Apple was going to focus on. But instead they were focused on ‘check out this really expensive speaker that's going to sound so good. And you only have to buy two of them and then it's going to fill your entire house with sound.' I don't really need or want that. I'm sure there's somebody out there that does. But it seems like the Echo and the Google Home are pretty popular. And Google's Chromecast system are pretty popular and they seem to be focused on more of the proactive type of things.
Jason: Harry, what does it say about the fact that Apple put Siri kind of in the background in this product? It's there and they talked about it in a couple of slides. But they didn't demo it with Siri. We never saw that. They didn't talk about assistant features. It really is at least in the marketing a secondary feature of this product.
Harry: I think they were very careful about their messaging. I think that most likely reflects the fact that Amazon has a huge head-start making Echo. Well-tuned for the use-case scenario. And Google with the Google Assistant on Google Home also has a head-start. And Apple needs more time to do that. And my guess is that they didn't not talk about that because they're not going to do it. They just didn't talk about that because you would be immediately comparing what Siri can do right now to what Echo can do. And what Google Assistant can do. And they just need a little more time to put that together. And by not telling you to compare them right now, you think about it in competition to Sonos which is a much less-intimidating competitor for a company like Apple. Even if it was only a Sonos-like device, the fact that it's from Apple and supports Siri would be intriguing to a lot of people.
Jason: Right and we should say because I don't think I mentioned it up-top. It's $349. Which, just to pat myself on the back, before the event I thought what would it cost. And my thought was $299. Then I added $50 and predicted it would be $349. And I got it right. So this is a big add to the price if you're predicting an Apple price. Lisa, do you have a take on the HomePod?
Lisa: I think it's Apple tipping its hand that it's beginning to reposition itself away from computers as a market. And more as a luxury consumer device-maker. Or a luxury consumer goods-maker in general. To me it spoke volumes during the keynote that we had a lot of attention paid to the watch. We had a lot of attention paid to the phone. We didn't have a whole lot paid to the experience of computing using Apple as a platform. And with the HomePod it seems like what they're saying is we will build very nice almost single-use appliances for you. And we've decided to go after audio files. Because audio files are willing to spend money on hardware. I think what they probably suspect is that people who have this will also have an Amazon Echo. Because Echo's already got a head-start in the market. More critically, Echo streams a lot more musical services than this will. And you really can't discount the loyalty that people are going to have to Spotify or to Pandora or iHeartRadio or what have you. I was talking to some friends this week about streaming music services. And they have really talked themselves into ‘oh it's totally worth paying $10 a month even if I own the CDs. Because I like that I can load this onto my phone and play this in the gym. I like that I can play this in the car.' So on and so forth. So I think putting this in the same product category as the Google Home and the Amazon Echo may not be the right thing. I think Apple is trying to stake out a slightly different consumer take. And so this way if things do not work out with Siri or they do not nail down their home automation strategy, they can say ‘no it was always audio; all the time.'
Jason: Yea, I think it is interesting that this is an Apple Music product through and through. Which is not too surprising but at a first cut for the first generation of a product-when who knows how many they're going to be able to make-there is an argument to be made. Just like the first iPod had FireWire on it and it only worked on the Mac. That if it goes really well then perhaps they have the option to open it up. But for now it is for people who want a nice-sounding connected speaker that works with Apple Music. That said, I did just buy the Amazon Music Unlimited for my one Echo. I just bought that because I was playing so much music on it that even though I don't subscribe to their service, I threw them some money. Because I wanted the convenience of it. And that would be the alternative; if you really want this maybe you switch to Apple Music to do it. I don't know how likely that is.
Lisa: I think the thing that concerns me slightly is that Apple, one of their historic strengths has been that they managed to define user expectations and user experiences for product categories. They helped adopt music by making it virtually frictionless to download and buy. They jump-started smartphones. You could argue they've become the leading vendor for smart watches. They've basically set the standards for how experiences go. And I wonder if they're trying to do that again here or if they've badly misread how people have already integrated experiences like streaming music and smart home assistants into daily life.
Harry: I think the fact that they chose the name HomePod might be meaningful because it can mean music if you want it to mean music. They can also mean almost anything else. And if this product is around for the long-haul, they're not going to be defined by a name like Apple Hi-Fi years ago.
Mikah: Now Jason you said that you got the Amazon Music Unlimited service. Did you get the one specific to Echo that costs less because it's just for Echo? Or did you go all-in?
Jason: No, I got the one just for my little lady in a canister who sits on my kitchen counter. That was where my wife and my kids were shouting, "play this song." And being told here's a 30-second sample which is the worst thing in the world. So fine, okay, $4 a month or whatever it is. That's what I'm doing.
Mikah: Lisa you touched on the fact that people kind of pick at a music service and they kind of stick to it. And Sonos offers Apple Music as one of its streaming services. Of course the Amazon Echo does not inherently have that. But it's interesting that Apple is only going to be offering this. As well as Airplay 2, which you can use to stream whatever happens to be streaming on your iOS device. But I got to thinking about the fact that I don't only have people who have iOS devices coming to my home. And maybe they have a podcast that they want me to listen to. Or something that is not available on Apple Music and they want to be able to stream that in the home. They can't use Airplay 2 and so suddenly I have this $350 speaker that won't work for them. And I'm trying to figure out some way. "Here send it over to me or load it up on my computer and then I'll play it over Airplay 2." And that's frustrating. I have an article that I put together that kind of compares the AirPod and Sonos. And then one that also compares the AirPod to the Google Home and the Amazon Echo device. And it's really interesting whenever you look at the different streaming services that they offer. Because Sonos have a bagilliondy. And both the Amazon Echo and Google Home have a bagilliondy as well. And then Amazon Echo right now lets you stream over Bluetooth which is incredibly open. And Google Home is offering that very soon. So there's going to be Bluetooth there as well. So it's a little frustrating that the HomePod, even if we're just going to look at this strictly as this wonderful streaming music device, it's only going to let you do it over Apple Music itself. Or over Airplay 2. And if you don't have the proper devices for that then I don't know, we shrug or say go talk to the Echo that I also do have in my living room.
Jason: To be fair, I think what Amazon and Google are trying to do is target everyone with a product. And Apple really clearly isn't. And I think that's within their rights as a company that makes products to say this is our product for people who are in our ecosystem who use Apple Music; we have complete control over every aspect of it. And if you want to play Apple Music in your house, we've got it. Or if you want to do streaming music in your house, we have a complete solution. Our service, our hardware. The challenges like is this all Apple is interested in doing. I can hear my inner-Andy Ihnatko speaking which is: is that all Apple really wants? Is to capture the people who are completely inside their ecosystem? Or do they want to compete with the other products in this category? And have it be a level playing field where other service can be on there. It seems like for now that answer is no. That this is about people who really are deep down in the ecosystem. And I'm sure this will be a great product for those people.
Lisa: I'd love to see the research that breaks out spending potential by people who are as you put it deep in the ecosystem. Compared to a broader, wider audience. Because if somebody at Apple has run the numbers and said it's going to be way too much work for us to make the licensing agreements and put together seamless technology that does what say Mikah wants to do. Your friend comes over and says I want to listen to this podcast. I feel like nah, it's not worth it. We can make more money with less effort just with this narrow audience segment. I would love to see if there are numbers that back that up.
Jason: I'll remind you too that this product is Siri-driven. So I wonder how much of this is strategy of no, it's only Apple Music. Or how much of this strategy is we can't do anything else. Because Siri on your iPhone can't control Spotify either. And nor did in iOS 11 Apple make any announcements that they might add that to the Siri kit functionality that they introduced last year. So they would have to do a whole lot of new functionality that doesn't currently exist on any of their platforms to let other services in the door.
Lisa: But you touched on a really fundamental irritation with digital assistants. It's that right now they're all so fairly strongly silo'd. For example on my phone I prefer to use the Gmail app over the Mail app. I like how I can sort and prioritize my mail. And just as an experiment today as I was driving I said, "hey Siri, look up an email from Tonya Halls so I can find the address to this place." And Siri was like, "I can't go into Gmail. Would you like to download your mail app so I can go into that?" And I thought what is the point of having an assistant if I can't have it go through all my digital assets? Because as a user I don't really care about brand loyalty. What I care about is the aggregation of data that I consider to be attached to me and what I want to do. And I want to be able to access and manipulate that data independent of platform, app, or device. So I don't care about the silo'ing.
Harry: And it's always dangerous to predict what Apple is going to do with something. That said, I don't see…
Jason: Here we go!
Harry: I don't see why they wouldn't not want to do essentially what a lot of their other devices do. Which is to cater both to people who are completely in the ecosystem but also to people who like to live outside a little bit. Looking back at the iPhone, that was a closed platform for the first year. And a year later they realized they could keep everything they had from being a closed platform. Or almost everything. Plus make it far more powerful by reaching out to people. I also feel like it's just pretty clear that these smart speakers are at least potentially a vastly larger market than they are even right now. And Apple can't compete if it has something that only aspires to be a really nice device to listening to its own music service.
Jason: Right. Is the HomePod a device that's intended to induce people to subscribe people to Apple Music? Or is it a product that they want to sell and ultimately they want to sell it to people who use Spotify or Amazon Music? Or even the Google streaming service as long as they can sell HomePods. I would imagine that that's ultimately what their vision is going to be.
Lisa: Man, if I'm Pandora I'm worried!
Mikah: I would really hope because it would be disappointing if this is genuinely just supposed to be a way to listen to music. And one of the things, and this is how a lot of enabled devices; and I'm sorry I just triggered everyone's Echos. But those enabled devices can now hook up with your iCloud account to add calendar events. And I think, what is it? Calendars and Reminders or something like that. I know Calendar for sure. And so Amazon really is paying attention to this and trying to be the every person's smart speaker. And every person's smart assistant. And I appreciate that. And they've opened up on-device so you can use that whether you're running iOS or Android. And I think that they are really what I want to see Apple do. Because I do enjoy the hardware that Apple puts out. And I would be happy to have a Spiderman web-covered device that sounds really good; but also can do all the things that I know Amazon voice assistant can do. And that's where I guess I end up being a little bit disappointed in this version one. But as people across the interwebs have reminded me, this is just a version one. And it's not even supposed to be out until December. And we could see some more stuff come to it. But yea, when you look at the smart assistant marketplace of the ecosystem at least, Siri still is pretty closed off. And yes, Siri is in a bunch of different languages and that is awesome. And I'm glad that Siri can be spoke to in those different languages. But also selfishly, I want it to have a little bit more built-in that allows me to connect to different types of apps and things like that that I use.
Jason: Yea, I guess it's true; this is a product that doesn't come out for six months. This is a product that is going to be a first-cut at it. It may be indeed that Apple needs to start somewhere and this is where it starts. The expectations on Apple are always so high at this point that everything gets scrutinized. Everyone is disappointed when it isn't for everyone. But at the same time I think Mikah, the questions that you ask are really relevant. I also want to point out I don't believe TWiT's policy is to bleep out the names of the trigger words. So I want to apologize for… do you bleep them out? Oh, they do bleep them out. Well that's excellent because I was going to say I'm sorry that Mikah said
Leo: We'll be back with TWiT in just a bit. Our show today brought to you by WordPress. My new web host and my old web host. I've run a WordPress site since the early 2000's. Right when they first started. I love WordPress. I've been with WordPress for so long. And I'm really happy to be back on WordPress. But this time with a hosted solution, with wordpress.com. They do all the work. They do all the security updates. They provide you with support, great support from their happiness team. It is a really great company. I'm so happy to be on wordpress.com. They have a variety of plans for whatever your needs are. I have a business site which means I have all the business templates. I get all sorts of features, business needs. But it's great for a blog. It's great for anything you're doing a website for. In fact, increasingly I feel like everybody should have a website. And I'll tell you why. If you don't have a website, you're not in control of what information appears about you on the web. But if you have your own website, you're kind of setting the standard for you know… if somebody looks up your name, they're going to find that. But they're more likely to find it if you're on wordpress.com. Because WordPress has great SEO. They do the site maps. They do everything you need to make your site a success. And they have a great community. I can't tell you how much traffic I get just from the wordpress.com community. I have half a million followers at wordpress.com. I don't know where they heck it came from! It's so cool! And of course WordPress makes it really easy to set up your site. I chose a template. I like 2017, that's the one I use. Really slick. I can have all the widgets with importing my Instagram. I have my Twitter on there. It's also-because WordPress has been a standard for so long- it's so easy to hook up third-party blogging tools. And of course WordPress has great apps for your phone and for your operating system. WordPress powers 27% of all the websites in the world. 27%! So by being so popular there's great support for WordPress in so many different areas. Even if you have no experience building a website, WordPress can really help you do it. And of course there's great WordPress experts who will help you create the best-looking site you've ever seen. Hundreds of themes. Built-in SEO. Social sharing. I can go on and on but what I want you to do is go to wordpress.com/twit and set up your first site. You get 15% off any new plan purchase at wordpress.com/twit. While you're there, check out my site at leolaporte.com. I'm pretty proud of it. Wordpress.com/twit. 15% off on your brand-new website. I just love WordPress. I've been a fan of them forever. And I'm really glad to have them on the show. So thank you WordPress for your support. Wordpress.com/twit. Now back to the show, Jason.
Jason: Thank you, Leo. The spectral form of Leo LaPorte hovers over TWiT always, even when he is… he's not a ghost. He's fine, he's like Doctor Strange. He has a spectral form, an astro-form if you will. Welcome back to TWiT live. Not the Leo version. And I have wonderful guests here. Lisa Schmeiser, Harry McCraken, Mikah Sargent. Let's talk a little more Apple. I swear it's not going to be all Apple. But there is a lot of Apple. I'll mix in some other stuff as we go. But the other, for my money, the other exciting thing that happened, the most exciting thing at WWDC this week, was Apple's embrace of using the iPad as a real bonified computer. It took some steps in this direction a couple years go. But the new 10.5-inch iPad Pro, an updated 12.9-inch iPad Pro which is actually the 12.9 Harry and I both have them on the table right now. And iOS 11 which has huge software features to make these devices feel much more at-ease when it comes to multitasking and moving data between apps. And all these things that have traditionally been very hard to do on iOS. So I'm excited about it. Harry, you're an iPad Pro user obviously. How are you feeling about all this?
Harry: Well it was an emotional rollercoaster because during the keynote they did their iOS 11 segment. And barely mentioned the iPad. I was really worried. And then they announced the new iPads and all of a sudden they came back and did a sizeable chunk on the iPad-specific features, which included a reasonably high percentage of the things I want. Not all of them. I still want to be able to select a different web browser as my default browser for instance. But it does look like they've pulled off making it a lot more powerful without just cloning how stuff is done on a PC. And it still feels like the iPad but it should be a lot easier to juggle apps. It looks like it should be a lot easier to work with files. I feel like a fairly high percentage of the stuff this new Files app will do. Am already dealing with third-party apps but it's probably going to be better if it's integrated into the operating system.
Jason: Yea. Mikah, what do you think about this?
Mikah: I also was so nervous because I knew our friend Federico Veltigi who is absolutely and iPad mastermind was in the audience waiting. And it was like, ‘oh no! Federico is going to be so sad!' But we didn't end up getting sad because they announced so many cool things. And I've been dragging and dropping and dragging again across the whole thing. And it's been really fun. One of the things that I've seen early on is the people who have access to the software, the beta, have kind of been complaining that the discoverability is a little not there. And there are some things that they're not able to understand right off the top. So I think it's going to take some learning. But I am absolutely down to a learning curve if it means I get all of these cool new features on iPad. And also a few little drag and drop features on iPhone as well. But we'll see how many of those stick around in future betas.
Jason: Right, occasionally Apple has this reputation of sticking some sweet iPad feature in for the iPhone in the beta and then taking it out. All the iPhone users are going aw man, that was a good one. I had the same reaction. I was a little nervous then I got really excited. I do wonder about the discoverability. And I should say the public beta will be out later this month. There is a developer beta out now. It did kill my iPad, my 9.7-inch iPad when I installed it on there. And I had to reinstall it. If you're not a developer, don't install it yet. There will be a public beta later this month and then a final version in the fall. But the discoverability thing, I think this is one of the arguments. It's how advanced can you make iOS without risking ruining it for people who don't want the advanced features. And at first glance just using it for about half an hour, I felt pretty good that Apple was doing a pretty good job of if you don't know the secrets you just won't ever see them. But if you know the secrets and flick up a little bit further and start dragging things out of the dock, then kind of the universe unfolds before you. But that's the trick is I was imagining somebody who is a novice user getting into split-screen drag mode and being like ‘what is happening?' and that is part of Apple's challenge with this.
Lisa: Yea, my mom. I hate to use the ‘your mom' metric for technology because it's deeply insulting in both the age way and the gender way.
Mikah: You just mean your mom in particular.
Lisa: My mom in particular who has actually gotten really into issues of tech accessibility for senior citizens. And I think if she were to get into a split screen mode, it would blow her mind and not in a great way. And she would be running up the back stairs going ‘what am I doing!' I already have to do tech support on her MacBook and her iPad. So I don't want to do this.
Jason: That is always the risk. What do you all think about the argument that by making a dock like the Mac dock and adding in drag and drop? And adding something that looks an awful lot like mission control; that this is Mac-ifying the iPad and is sort of counter to the iOS aesthetic or philosophy or something. Because I have heard those arguments. Can you hear me? That's a eye-roll I'm doing verbally there.
Lisa: Why is that a bad thing? I don't understand why that's a bad thing.
Jason: Well the danger is it's complex. Or that Apple is sort of punting and going back to the way they did it on the Mac. Although it doesn't feel to me very Mac-like except in the fact that it's capable.
Lisa: This is not really a problem I've seen on like the Surface for example. For Microsoft, is you don't see them really tying themselves and not ever having a distinctive tablet experience as opposed to a desktop/laptop experience. And it's not something that Windows users that I've run across seem to have a ‘oh it's got to be simple and pure because it's not a tablet.'
Harry: I think of myself as being a fairly hardcore-the iPad should not be a traditional computer-kind of person. That said, I think it looks like they've done a really smart job of bringing in features that make sense. And tweaking them where appropriate. Before the event people were talking about whether there might be a keyboard with a trackpad. I personally hate that idea. I need to be one of the few people perfectly happy lifting up my arm and touching stuff. And that's an example of a place where I think it makes sense to be fairly absolutist about not trying to turn the iPad into a Mac. But there needs to be better ways to move information between iPad apps. So drag and drop makes perfect sense. There are cases where it's really cumbersome not to be able to get at files. In a way that's a little closer to what you do on it, in a Windows PC or a Mac. So that makes sense.
Jason: The heaviest iPad users I know do not feel betrayed.
Mikah: I like the term Mac-ify. That's a good term. But I, yea, I have to agree. I don't think that there's-with Lisa-I don't think that there's any reason to get all bent out of shape because it happens to look a little bit like what you can do on Mac OS. So what. If you're getting the things you want out of the system, I don't care if it launched and said Mac OS as it started up. Like fine, that's great as long as it gives me the functionality I am hoping to get out of an iPad version of iOS. And you know if the dock is the thing that makes sense and so far playing with it, it does seem to make sense. And if a mission control type in between screens makes sense then that's great too. You know, a file system of some sort in this case with the Files app that also gives me access to DropBox and other services that choose to give permission there. I think that this is all very good and worrying about terminology or Mac-ifying or what have you, just kind of gets in the way of the innovation that's happening here and the betterment of the system. And overall slowly but surely we're seeing a device that can creep into educational space and creep into other areas where people would… my mom is not my person; I just think about my partner. And this new iPad is something that he absolutely could use as a replacement for a laptop. Because it has all those features and functionality. And yea, it may be confusing at first but I don't care. Again, I guess I have to go back to the ‘oh well it looks a little like a Mac.' Because I don't think everyday people-my partner, your mom-are worried about the fact that it's anything like the Mac. They're just going what can this do for me. And if it's something that I need then I'm happy with it. And they also don't care if it loads with a Mac OS boot screen.
Jason: I don't know this for sure but I believe there may be more iPad users than Mac users at this point. And sometimes I wonder about Apple's strategy here is to basically leave the Mac kind of where it is. Make little things here and there. But they're not trying to transform the Mac into a touchscreen interface like Microsoft is doing with Windows quite rightly. And Apple's answer is ‘look, that's what the iPad is for.' That's where they're going with it. And I think that's okay. I was less okay with that when they didn't add any features to the iPad for a couple years. But I'm much more okay with it today than I would've been last week.
Lisa: I think most computing users approach the tools that they use and their software and cloud services with ‘I just want to get to my stuff and do stuff to my stuff when I can. I don't care who makes the program. I don't care who makes the OS. I just want my stuff. I want my stuff. I want to touch my stuff. I want to manipulate my stuff. I want to share my stuff.' Out it goes. And that's it. We're people who follow technology. We follow companies. We follow developments we may feel very passionately about certain types of tech developments. But we're not the typical user. We're the early edge. And I think we've got to remember that most of this technology is not built for us. We can talk about it but it's not built for us.
Jason: Yea, there should be a disclaimer on everything that is written or spoken about technology by technology experts that says this is probably actually not for us. But we're the ones who get it first and tear it apart and that can lead to some weird situations.
Lisa: I can use my mom as an example because now that she's retired and has discovered Netflix and Amazon Kindle, and DropBox and Google Mail and all of these things-watching my mom jump into cloud services and use them to coordinate the stuff that she does at her senior center, and sharing scrapbooks with people and things like that; just her expectation that computing is her stuff, and I want to take my stuff and do it. And I want to be able to do it in two steps. And when you have to explain, well you've hosted your photos here, they have to be downloaded. Then they have to be re-uploaded. Then they have to go here. And she's all ‘that makes no sense!' And I thought ‘well this is the vendors and services and computing people that recognize that most people want a frictionless experience.' They want a computing experience that is literally the equivalent to picking up a stack of paper and filing it. Like, that's all they want. And give them a frictionless experience and you will earn their loyalty. They're not going to go with you just because ‘oh it's an ecosystem and all the parts fit together.' Nobody has loyalty to an ecosystem. They have loyalty to their self.
Jason: Harry, you and I both have these 12.9-inch iPad Pros sitting on this table. The 10.5-inch iPad Pro that was announced this week; it feels when you hold it, like the old standard iPad in the 9.7-iPad Pro. But it does have a bigger screen. It does take a bigger keyboard; the keys are a little more normal-sized. Are you tempted as a 12.9-inch iPad user to go back down or is this just more to give more room to the people who want the smaller iPad Pro?
Harry: I've been wrestling with that. I mean this is my primary computing device. I use this sometimes more than eight hours a day. And I often use it sitting down near a desk.
Jason: Lisa has pulled out her 9.7-inch iPad Pro now just to…
Mikah: They're all good. They're all fine.
Lisa: Yea, it's adorable. I love it.
Harry: I think for really serious people a big screen makes a lot of sense. I think there are more people who don't need a screen this large but would to pay a little less. I think from what I've seen so far it looks like 20% extra space compared to the 9.71 on the 10.5 will help. It's probably not transformative.
Jason: It doesn't feel any bigger though. Knock on the 12.9. It's huge. Let's just say it. It is a gigantic tablet. It's heavy, it's huge. I love it too but with a 10.5 it doesn't feel any bigger because they reduced the bezels. It feels basically just as thin and light.
Harry: And it weighs the same. There is a big difference between a pound and a pound and a half.
Jason: And you get more pixels. So it is a bigger screen in there. I'm kind of with you. I want to try it. I want to live with it for a little while and see bug my gut feeling is that I'm not going to leave the 12.9. Because I'm one of those nutty people who really likes that huge screen. But I think most people will get the 10.5 and will be very happy that it's got more pixels than the 9.7 did.
Harry: I think stuff like this split screen view. On 9.7 inches it feels a little cramped. Even a little extra space will make more sense for more people.
Jason: Yea, it's not quite big enough that those aren't too sort of phone-app views on split screen. Even on the 12.9, you get like full iPad layouts. But it's still a superior experience. And the power in those things is amazing. As we also saw with some of the demos that Apple did on stage which maybe we'll talk about in a little bit. But first I suspect again hovering watching us, Leo sees all, knows all. And has another message for us from beyond this room. Again he's fine. Just beyond this room so let's hear from Leo.
Leo: Alright guys I'll be right back to you in a second but first a word from Rocket Mortgage. Rocket Mortgage comes to you from Quicken Loans. Quicken Loans is the best lender in the United States. Really a forward-thinking company. And they notice the mortgage experience, applying for a loan, wasn't keeping up with the times. Frankly, it's kind of like a trip back to the 19th century. I remember when Lisa and I bought our house, the house we're living in, last time we applied for loans about three years ago. It took months! And the big bank we went to-I won't name names but I think you probably know who they are-they kept coming back to us: oh, now we need this. We went on vacation and thought it can't possibly take a month. It took more than month! We're on vacation faxing them information from Greece! It was crazy! Man, next time Rocket Mortgage all the way. They give you the confidence you need when it comes to buying a home or refinancing an existing home loan. It's easy. You will understand all the details. It's convenient because they have relationships with all the banks and all the trusted partners. So it's really easy to share your financial information with Rocket Mortgage. You don't have to go digging through paperwork. You just go boop, touch the screen. And by the way you can do this all on your phone, on your tablet, on your computer. Whether you're buying your first home or your tenth, Rocket Mortgage can do it fast because it's computers. They'll get you that loan in minutes and it'll be the right loan for you. Rocket Mortgage from Quicken Loans. Apply simply, understand fully. Mortgage with confidence at rocketmortgage.com/twit and the number two. That's rocketmortgage/twit2. Of course Rocket Mortgage is an equal housing lender. They're licensed in all 50 states. NMLSconsumeraccess.org number 3030. Rocket Mortgage from Quicken Loans. It's awesome! Go to rocketmortgage.com/twit2 and we thank Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loans for their support of our show!
Jason: Thank you, Leo. We're back. And I'm going to take a break from Apple. We're going to come back; there's more Apple. But I know I need to give everybody a rest from Apple. So we're going to move to another company that starts with A. And talk about Amazon a little bit. This week, Amazon announced a low-cost version of Amazon Prime for people in the U.S. who are on government assistance with an EBT card. This is a way for Amazon to reach an audience that they're not really reaching right now. In fact there's an amazing statistic that I saw about Amazon's penetration into the U.S. market by income. Where it said that people who are earning more than basically $112,000… 82% of them already have Amazon Prime. Whereas only 52% of people in the 21-41,000 annual income have Amazon. So Amazon sort of got a different place to grow now and this may be a reason why Lisa I know you follow retail stuff very closely. What's your take on Amazon taking Amazon Prime to this audience of people with lower incomes?
Lisa: This is actually one of two programs they're doing to try to expand their retail reach beyond a six-figure household. Because this summer they're also teaming up for a two-year pilot program with the Department of Agriculture where people who are using federal food aid can order groceries through Amazon Prime and Amazon direct. The Department of Agriculture is doing this program with Fresh Direct and Safeway and a couple other companies as well. So this is one thing but Amazon has been trying to take on Walmart as it were. Or Walmart is trying to take on Amazon. It's not clear who the aggressor is in this situation. It's kind of like looking at those pictures of snakes versus crocodiles and alligators in Florida. Like, you're not sure who to root for. But to put it this way, the companies are kind of coming from opposite ends towards the same problem which is they both want to grow ecommerce. Amazon has more room for growth in income. Say sub-85,000… Walmart has room for growth in income tiers because Walmart's got the lower-middle income class pretty firmly locked in. It's had almost no success gaining traction above. So I mean this is the reason why Amazon announced Prime day, Walmart was like, ‘oh we'll do you better.' And had a competing event. They both recently modified their free shipping and free return. And this is just another salvo where Amazon is trying to attract loyalty from customers who are otherwise pretty firmly entrenched in a Walmart base.
Jason: Walmart's strength is their geography. They have stores everywhere. Amazon's strength is that they can reach everywhere with shipping. They are kind of natural rivals, the fact that Walmart has to get their stuff in trucks and pay people in their stores. And Amazon has to get stuff in UPS trucks and pay people in their warehouses, right? They're both kind of strangely comparable.
Lisa: Interestingly, both Walmart and Amazon are now experimenting with outsourcing their deliveries. Where Walmart is now launching a program where their employees will make deliveries on the way home from their job. I'm not kidding. And Amazon is now outsourcing its delivery to third-parties who are willing to just drive around. It's like Uber except what you do is drop off packages all day. I had somebody delivering my Prime packages this week who did that. And she was really startled when I quizzed her for 10 minutes. Like how'd you get started. And do you do a lot of driving. What are you compensated for? Because I got to meet somebody in person who was doing this. Why wouldn't you want to know, right?
Harry: In terms of who the aggressor is: these are two of the most aggressive companies in the history of the world. I think they're both really aggressive. Walmart…
Lisa: Python versus alligator.
Harry: …Walmart has a long history of not really doing all that well out competing with Amazon in terms of online. But they spend a huge amount of money for jet.com. They put the jet.com guy in charge of all their online operations. I think that's a story that's still unfolding. Given that jet.com was so new, it's not like jet.com had managed to kill Amazon on its own. But it's fun to watch. Because I think both of them will do everything in their power to hurt the other guy in a way that will probably be good for consumers.
Lisa: In the short-term, yea. One of the reasons why it's smart for Amazon, is if they've already got saturation on the high-end, you can actually make a lot of money off of lower-income retail tiers. If you provide a service at a reasonable price point that they keep coming back to over and over again. This has been true in banking for years. Where check-cashing corporations make tremendous amounts of money from the unbanked. The profit margins are insane there. So with Amazon they have the same potential where they can grow that audience. Walmart is in a slightly more vulnerable position because their core audience has traditionally had less discretionary spending power. And so their sales are more closely tied to recessions, economic ups and downs, and their inability to penetrate tiers with higher percentages of discretionary income might actually hurt them in a way that hurt Amazon. Since Amazon's got that cushy-shopper protection.
Jason: I wonder about the impact this will have on-or I started to wonder-the impact this would have on the world around us. And then I realized that every retail business that wasn't killed by Walmart was probably killed by Amazon. So they're just fretting of the sun-blasted desert that remains.
Lisa: What I would actually keep in mind are groceries. Because the grocery industry historically runs in a very slim margin to begin with. And the higher the number of subscription-based things that come out, the more pressure gets put on your local grocery stores. Then the question becomes when does it become nonviable for the local place that is only five, ten, twenty miles away-when do they go out of business.
Mikah: I think with Amazon to-Lisa you kind of touched on this-the fact that customers kind of keep coming back. And getting the same thing, and Amazon is really good at that. I have a bunch of Amazon dash buttons in my home for purchasing in bulk, different products like paper towels, napkins, and certain non-perishable food items. And I love the fact that I hit that button and I can keep on in two days most of the time unless it's the weekend-in which case it's three days-that will be at my doorstep waiting for me. And I can replace the product that's been used. And if Amazon can do this with people who their kids like the same cereal every month. You just need your bread and your macaroni and cheese or what have you, and Amazon will always have it. It will always be there. It will always be at a cost you count on. That's a huge deal. Growing up, when my family and I moved from California to the Midwest, there was a period of time where my mom was on government assistance and used EBT cards. And I can remember we would basically have the same items every time. Every time it was time for mom to go out and get groceries for all of us kids, it was the same stuff. And that's because you could mostly count on a price and you can count on all of us not being picky about it because it was stuff that we liked. And Amazon is already really good about keeping those items in stock. And making sure that if I hit this button it's going to be there. So this, looking specifically at the human side of things as opposed to the company side of things, I'm really excited about this. It was certainly helpful for my mom and all of us kids having the government assistance. So for Amazon to accept that and open up Amazon Prime so that a mom can say I can trust in two days there's going to be this stuff I need to make my kids' lunches that they take to school-that's awesome. So this is really cool. Even if alligator Amazon and the scary snake that is Walmart are fighting. We'll let them do that. I think this is great for consumers. You mentioned that it's diapers. Because what got me into Amazon Prime in all honesty is when I had my daughter. And it was weighing do I want to take a screaming newborn to the store while I buy diapers? Or do I sign up for Amazon Parent where they ship me the diapers? Reliably.
Mikah: Tough question.
Lisa: In less than 24 hours. And that was how I got sucked in. Because prior to 2010 I did not do a whole lot of buying on Amazon. And they gave me a year of free Prime. And it was easy enough to go tick tick tick tick. And for people who are on assistance and do need to buy diapers, Amazon's prices are crazy-low. So if you can get cheap diapers-and they're shipped to you too-that's a great way to build vendor and brand loyalty among an audience that hasn't had access to the free shipping and the Amazon Prime perks as much as they would have before. This is also… I wouldn't say I feel sorry for Walmart but what is formidable is that with Amazon doing something like this, they will also be creating a tremendous trove of data. That they can then collate, aggregate, analyze, and sell. And for something like this, Amazon's retail arm is almost what they use as a data-generation device. For the real businesses they run which are cloud-hosting and data management and data sales. And the question I have is whether or not Walmart is going to be able to catch up by capturing the same type of user purchasing patterns. And collating that data and selling that as well. Because that's the kind of stuff that you can sell back to retailers and work with them on price points.
Jason: And realizing that what we said earlier was that in certain demographic groups with the highest incomes in the United States, 82% of households have Amazon Prime. That means Amazon has data of 82% and the lowest there was still over 50%. So Amazon's data about what's available and what people are buying is staggering.
Lisa: Yea. And that's one area where I really feel like Walmart-unless there's this secret push that they just have kept very close to the chest. Because why let everyone know you're doing this? That's one area where Walmart would probably need to catch up in a hurry. Is how to collect data on their shoppers that they can then turn around and turn to another revenue stream.
Mikah: Don't tell them that.
Jason: Nobody help the snake. Or is it the alligator?
Lisa: The python, the ball python here.
Mikah: Because you got to have alligator Amazon obviously.
Jason: There you go. Very nice. Well we should, I'm going to steer us-that's right that was your rest bit from Apple. Because we're going to talk about a little more Apple now. There's so much. We just have to do it. I have other things to talk about. But I want to talk about a couple more things that came out of Apple's developer conference. But I want to start with iOS 11. So we talked about the iPad features and about how before they announced those, they announced a bunch of other features that made us sad. Because we thought there were no iPad features and in fact these are the features that are going to be used by the most people because they're going to be on the iPhone. Which is Apple's most successful product and most popular product. Strangely one of the features that got the most excitement in the crowd and that I'm most excited about is a feature that turns off all the other features. Which is called Do Not Disturb When Driving, which will sense when you're driving and lock out your phone so that you can't get distracted by push notifications. Or it will limit your push notifications to very specific sets including querying people who text you and say is this important enough to override Do Not Disturb While Driving. And boy, if you say yes to that and it's not important you're going to get in trouble. Somebody's going to be mad. So I'm curious what you all thought about this announcement. And what Apple's doing here with locking iPhone features out when you're in the car. Mikah?
Mikah: I think it's smart. A really smart thing. You know, there were some companies who were kind of working on bringing these features to phones. But it was always like cellular carriers and insurance companies. And there's just something to say about how entirely uncool it is to be like, ‘yea, I downloaded the AT&T app so it can lock all my devices and no one can text me while I am driving.' But the fact that Apple has this built in and you can enable this feature; it just says hey whenever we can sense that you're driving in a vehicle then we're going to make things so you can't see things. I think part of the problem, I think people would be more apt to stay away from texting and driving or Snapchatting and driving or what have you if they don't see those things in the first place. Because ultimately a lot of us, we just end up in the end having prehistoric brains. And it's like we see something lined up and our eyes instantly turn to it and look at it. And it's just kind of the way we're wired. Or at least have wired ourselves over time. And if those notifications just aren't there in the first place, then it's less likely that you're going to pay attention to them. Which I realize sounds really obvious but at the same time I do think there's something to being out of your line of vision. Then your brain does a better job of resisting needing to get that little dopamine hit from seeing the latest Instagram like on your selfie. So this just seems like a good idea overall and I hope people do take advantage of it. And the fact that you can set it up to say, ‘hey, this person is driving right now. But you can contact them later,' is really nice.
Harry: One thing I wasn't clear about from the demo was whether this also shuts them off on an Apple Watch.
Harry: I'm pretty good at not looking at my phone but I do sort of sometimes glance at my wrist without totally taking my eye off the road. Which I thought of as sort of being maybe semi-safe, half-way point.
Jason: I have that same little bargaining behavior which is it's not looking at a phone. It's just glancing at my watch. People wear watches that don't have text on them and they check their watch when they are driving and nobody dies probably. Except one of the things that struck me about this is this is a feature that will almost certainly save lives, right? Just by interceding and saying most of these notifications are junk. Which I like some of these features all the time honestly, on my iPhone. And just getting them out of the way and being contextual. And maybe letting through if somebody on your contacts list calls or texts because it's super-important. Otherwise just quieting down while you're driving, that seems like a good idea.
Lisa: That's the important word, is context. I really want to live in a computing world where I have context-dependent notifications. Because if I'm driving and if while I'm driving my husband texts me and says, ‘while you're out and about, please pick up groceries.' That is a notification I don't mind getting while I'm driving especially if I can get it read to me, instead of reading it myself. But if it's somebody else going, ‘hey can you pass on the name of so and so that you recommended for such and such?' No, I don't need that one. But I would love to see more context-dependent notifications. I think this is a good start. I hope that context-dependent gets split out from the safety aspect so that we start working on that more.
Lisa: I think the safety aspect is super-important. I think context-dependent will ultimately be better for computing in the long run.
Jason: In the chat room they're talking about nanny features. And this is the thing; this can be a nanny feature if you're weak-willed and you know you're going to check your phone if you don't see it. I think the upside of this is not when it's a nanny feature but when it is that smart assistant saying, ‘I'm only going to buzz you when you're driving.' If there's really something important, otherwise I'm going to lay off. That's how it should be. That's not preventing me, a weak person, from checking my phone while I'm driving. That's preventing me, a regular driver, from being distracted by pointless things. There's a difference there.
Mikah: You don't need LinkedIn notifications while you're driving? I thought we all did!
Jason: Well it depends on you know, who I want to add to my social network or I'm sorry my professional network.
Harry: I found that in general life is better if you default to turning off notifications on a very high percentage of the apps you use.
Harry: To some degree, I'm already down to a point where most of the notifications that I get are at least semi-important and there's no absolute junk.
Jason: It does make me wonder if this is the beachhead for a more smart assistant-based feature where Apple basically says, ‘would you like to go into some mode where Siri essentially looks at your notifications and only directly buzzes you when it's important.' Right? Because that would be very valuable.
Mikah: I think that is where we're headed, honestly. Because some of the stuff I've already seen and some of the stuff that we'll see when the public beta hits. But let's just say I've happened to come across some of this stuff while I'm totally not using the NDA beta software anyway. Siri is paying more attention than Siri used to. And even in conversations, because we did see this on stage. So I can talk about this of course. The keyboard and the predictive text… it was almost scary. Because I was talking to someone on Twitter about a particular subject and then when I went to an iMessage conversation with that same person and I used the word Twitter, then the predictive text popped up the subject that I had just discussed on Twitter in this iMessage conversation. So if Siri is already getting smart enough to understand to whom I'm speaking about what I'm speaking, I can see how this would easily be applied to notifications. And to adding calendar events and making sure that I have the contacts that I need. And maybe even sending out a message. And it's like, well hey you're sending out a message about this but don't you also want to include this person? Of course I do, Siri. So I think it's already starting to do. And iOS 11 right now is the entry into that and figuring out with the data that it gets on-device, how it can use that. And then hopefully we'll see that kind of break out even more and see it applied to other features across iOS.
Lisa: I'd like to see more information clustered according to context. With something like this, just to give a recent real-world example, I recently took my daughter's daisy troop camping. We caravanned there in three cars. And there was a great deal of texting, hopefully people were just shouting their text while they drove children. There was a great deal of texting to coordinate where to go on these back roads in Marron County. And I'm thinking about this ‘do-not-disturb-while-driving' feature and if there was a way to say, ‘hey, Siri, this is related to the camping even today; please make sure that Betsy and Christine are able to text me.'
Jason: You just triggered your own Siri, Lisa.
Lisa: I did! Siri?
Jason: It knows your voice.
Lisa: It's reassuring. Please make sure that Christina and Betsy can text me no matter what. That would be great if I could do something like that.
Jason: And to be clear here, this is not turned on by default. But it will sense when you're driving. And then when you're done driving the first time it will say, ‘would you like me to turn this feature on?' And then you can also say, ‘yes, I'm a passenger. I'm in a taxi or something like that.'
Lisa: I'd also be curious about is presumably if you can control when it's turned on and turned off; is your phone recording when it's turned on and turned off?
Jason: Recording what?
Lisa: I mean is your phone logging when you're going into driving mode versus not-driving mode?
Jason: Oh, I don't know.
Lisa: And then the next question is can your insurance companies get that data and figure out when you're driving?
Jason: Probably not. Because it's Apple and they're not going to hand that data over. But it probably does know.
Lisa: If that data exists however and that's not…
Jason: My guess is that it doesn't because it's Apple and that's a road they kind of don't want to know, I suspect.
Lisa: Yea, because if the data exists then somebody's going to ask about it. So it's better to just not have that data.
Mikah: Insurance companies, some offer up those dongles you can plug into your OBD II port, I don't know, Obi-Wan-Kenobi port.
Jason: Yea, that's the one.
Mikah: Thank you. I thought that was it. And it will keep track of your zooming and braking and when you're using your phone and when not. It's an opt-in thing but you can end up saving money on your bill if you use it. So hopefully Apple isn't going to get into that business.
Lisa: Then thinking distracted driving is something I'm sure insurance companies are approaching if not from a safety point I feel, this is going to cost us money-point of view. So I expect that to collide with…
Jason: You get the iOS 11 discount on your auto insurance, man.
Lisa: Why not?
Harry: I also sort of wondered if at some point if all phones have this functionality whether states such as California that tell you you're not supposed to be using your phone anyway or at least touching it, might think it was a good idea to have some sort of legislation type mandating that you use these features.
Jason: I would not be shocked if there's somebody at Apple who is planting iOS features and talks to people in various governments about what might be coming down the pipe. Whether it's California or the EU. Somebody saying we think you could be smarter at doing this and trying to get out in front of it and say, ‘look, why don't we build on this feature that we already have rather than you inventing your own legislation about it.' Just use this as a model. And we've already built it so it's good for us. Right? That could be. It wouldn't surprise me at all. Anything else in iOS 11 that struck you that you think we should mention here? That was the one: do-not-disturb-while-driving.
Harry: Peer-to-peer payments for Apple Pay is potentially a big deal. And it looks nicely done because it's not like a standalone app. It's built in to iMessage. And so if you mention money you can then tap on the amount and it's just another tap or two to send it. Potentially scary for somebody like Venmo and the rest of PayPal as well. If it's easier to do it via Apple Pay…?
Jason: And you just send them a little virtual card that contains the cash that's drawn on your Apple Pay account.
Lisa: I don't know. Are there details on how easy it is to get that cash out of your account? Do you have it linked to another bank account? Is there a fee? Or a minimum balance?
Harry: Yes, you have it linked to like a debit card. And you can retrieve it in the same way you can retrieve money from PayPal. I think Apple loves the idea of you leaving a lot of that money in there.
Jason: Of course they do.
Harry: And spending it on other things, and spending it on things you're buying from Apple.
Lisa: That's Apple becoming a big defacto bank though.
Harry: Just like whenever I try to take money out of my PayPal account, PayPal suggests that I don't really want to do that. The idea of holding onto your money and not paying interest to you I think is probably quite attractive.
Jason: They want to be the cash in your wallet. That's basically what they want to be.
Lisa: Wow, this basically turns Apple into a bank.
Jason: If they weren't already.
Mikah: It's like any of those balance card companies that offer, you know you can go in and buy one next to the gift cards. So it works the same way. It's a balance card which is a particular type of payment card. And yea, Apple has that money and I think what is it called? Apple Pay cash card or something like that. And you can transfer it out. It's not clear how many days it will take to transfer out or in. I assume they're going to push more for the cash style which cash is, what is it, PayPal. Anyway, the cash app which does quick transfers back and forth between your bank. And not the one like some of the others that take a whole week to transfer in and out. So I'm looking forward to it because where I have seen very slow adoption for other apps. And it seems like any time I ever have to tell someone… you used your mom as an example. I'll use my partner as an example, ‘hey, can you download this app so I can send you money?' They don't want to do that. But if it's already built in and it's already on-device then that makes it so much easier and more likely that they're going to do it. There are also less things that get in the way where like my sister when I tried to send her money with Venmo, her credit union denied the use of Venmo completely. It's just some silly things that do end up being the super-amounts of friction that I am looking forward to Apple Pay kind of kicking to the curb. And saying, ‘no it's okay we've got this taken care of.' And I do think that it's interesting that Apple is pushing more toward becoming a bank. But it also means more regulations and things like that for them. I'm happy that they've chosen to wade into those waters because it means that I can receive and send money a lot easier with most of the people that I would already be kind of exchanging money with.
Jason: The other big feature that is not a user feature but will lead to lots of apps that people will go nuts for is AR Kit. Which is Apple's weighing into augmented reality. The general perception was because Apple doesn't talk about what it's doing, that it wasn't really doing anything in terms of VR or AR. And they had stories for both on stage. I think AR Kit was the more interesting because what they did was create tools for developers to build augmented reality products. In other words the app store will be full of augmented reality games and things and utilities perhaps, come the release of iOS 11. I talked to some people who are in the know about augmented reality and virtual sets and all sorts of other things who said that they were really blown away by the fact that Apple was essentially doing all this heavy lifting for them. So then all they have to do is build the apps because the AR Kit stuff works in. And it's again, it's not very exciting because it's a developer announcement at a developer conference, mind you. But I just get this feeling that this, because Apple has so many third-party developers in the App Store now, and they just handed this toolkit to them, that it's going to end up being way more impressive than if Apple just built a few AR things into the operating system. Into the camera app or something like that.
Harry: My colleague Mark Sullivan wrote about the fact that this may pre-sage the next iPhones. It's not unreasonable to think that if Apple starts building AR functionality into the operating system, it might want to give cameras to an iPhone to let it do even better stuff than you can do today with the one camera on the iPhone 7. And then the two cameras on the iPhone 7 Plus.
Jason: One of the people I talk to said they were amazed at the math. They know the math that goes into some of those calculations like when they do the demo on the table and they come up with the table edge and all of that. And it's incredibly hard and that's a huge barrier to doing AR. And that AR Kit does that math for you so you don't have to as a developer. It's a pretty big step.
Mikah: I think that's a big thing right there; is how much of this stuff that Apple is doing. I am in no way a developer, but I have been playing with AR Kit and making little apps and models of stuff just to see what I can do. And like I said, I am not a developer. I was basically just drag and drop to make this stuff happen. And I have my dogs like running under chairs that were only visible in my AR Kit scene. And you know sitting down lamps and stuff like that and taking photos of them running around them and interacting with them. And it's incredible. I mean it's genuinely incredible. And to think of what some different companies might create with this. And I was talking with a friend of the internet, Joe Steele about some of this stuff as well. And Joe does visual stuff in movies and television shows. And talking about the possibilities there for doing interesting graphics with even like pre-made videos. So you might already have a video made but could AR Kit potentially ingest a video that's already been made and use that and figure out control points? I mean there's just a lot of possibility here. And yea, Apple is taking a lot of the load off of developers to create that stuff so that someone who knows nothing about it can put a chair in their living room in no time at all. And laugh about the fact that my dogs are like running through it. It's just really interesting and I'm looking forward to more pop-up books and Lego scenes and all the other stuff that they were showing. What I'm really hoping for is a pocket Minecraft gets an AR Kit extension. And then I can play Minecraft on my living room table.
Jason: Well, there is a little more from Apple and then we've got more about Uber and Taylor Swift. I'm going to keep forward-promoting Taylor Swift. But I sense a great disturbance. This is part of that Obi-Wan-Kenobi port I think, Mikah. And it may mean that Leo is back for another important message.
Mikah: I feel it.
Leo: We'll get back to the show and a great panel this week in just a second. But first a word for those of you who lose things, raise your hand. It is estimated that we spend about 50 minutes a day searching for stuff we know we've got, we know we own but we just can't find. Well now there's a solution. I mean, I understand life is supposed to be a journey of discovery. But do you really want to spend it discovering where your keys were? You never worry about losing anything: your keys, your luggage, your bike, your purse. With Tracker, you pair this little coin-size tracking device with your smartphone. And whenever you're separated, whether you leave your phone behind or leave your Tracker behind, you'll get a warning, an alert. And you can look on the Tracker app and see exactly where your keys, your wallet, your bags, your pets are! At any given time. Use the Tracker app to find what you're looking for in seconds. You can track up to 10 devices on a phone. You can even track and ring the same device for multiple phones and Tracker counts. It's great for families. You can customize two-way separation alerts. That way you're notified before you leave an item behind. Now if you lose your phone, you just press the button on the Tracker or ask your Amazon Echo, by the way, whichever is easier. I won't say it because then it will trigger. But then you can say, you know who, where's my phone? And it will tell you! Ring my phone. Your phone will ring. Even if it's silenced it will ring. And if you need a little more help finding stuff, like maybe you leave stuff under furniture or under cushions, you're going to want this new one, the Tracker Pixel. It has a ring of powerful LED lights around them so you can find your items in a flash, literally. And it comes in great seasonal colors. The best thing about Tracker for my mind is that there are 4.5 million Trackers out there. So as the world's largest crowd-source GPS network. That means even if you lose your keys, somebody puts them in the lost and found or just puts them in their pocket by accident and takes them to Montenegro, the next time somebody with Tracker on their phone walks by your keys or any device with the Tracker on it-walks by your Tracker-it will ping your phone and say, ‘hey, I just saw your keys in Montenegro. What?! It is brilliant! Try Tracker today and by the way, no risk. You got a 30-day money-back guarantee. Find out what you've been missing; literally missing. Go to thetracker.com, enter the promo code TWIT, you'll save 20% on any Tracker product or package. Buy them all! Buy all the Trackers! Thetracker.com, promo code TWIT, save 20%. And we thank Tracker so much for making TWiT possible. And by the way, all the drinks and food in the green room guys, they're provided by Tracker, just to let you know. Actually kidding, there's no green room. Back to you, Jason!
Jason: I hope I didn't steal like soda out of somebody's fridge or something then. Because I did have a soda earlier, provided by the staff. Sorry, staff.
Mikah: I don't have a green room here or free sodas. What's going on?
Jason: I ate that sandwich. No I didn't. Sorry to the producers. We have one more thing I want to talk about on Apple and then I promise that's the last one. There's so much! There's so many things I'm not even talking about with Apple. One last one. I mentioned it earlier: there's another product Apple announced that is not going to ship for six months, which is unusual for them. And it was a Mac of all things. It's the new iMac Pro, which is now famously-a few weeks ago, Apple did this thing where they met with a bunch of journalists-and they said they were really committed to professional Mac users. And they're going to do a new Mac Pro. And the story goes is that this iMac Pro was actually designed at a point when there wasn't going to be a new Mac Pro. And they needed to create something that was a replacement for the Mac Pro because they were going to make people mad by discontinuing it. And the answer was what if we made a Mac Pro that was also an iMac. And it's going to be in space gray because I guess that's a faster color than silver. And it's going to come out in December and it starts at what, eight cores zions. And it goes up to an 18-core zion. It has an AMD Radeon Vega graphics, up to 16 gigs of V-RAM. It starts, mind you, at $5,000. And I'm pretty sure you will easily be able to get one into the tens, into the five-figures. So I'm curious as to what you all think about this one because it is an iMac unlike any other. And who's going to buy this and who is this for? Harry?
Harry: Well you guys are the Mac experts. I'm a little worried about expressing an opinion.
Jason: But again, please share.
Harry: I sort of got the sense from all the Mac news and they announced an awful lot of Macs at this event. Some of them where minor bumps but there was this long period where people were even talking about the possibility that the Mac was being phased out. And many people were complaining about the componentry in Macs being slow and out of date. And I feel like maybe they said you think we can't put powerful components into a Mac? Fine, we'll take the iMac and we will put as much powerful stuff into it as we can. To the point where there might be a fairly small audience for this system. But nobody can again say that we're not going to build powerful Macs.
Jason: I think they're willing to have this not sell a huge number. Which was always the argument about the Mac Pro. Like, you need to have something at the high-end even if you don't sell a lot of them. Mikah, what do you think?
Mikah: First of all it is absolutely gorgeous. And I was drooling, looking at it whenever it first showed up. I think this is really exciting. I've always liked the iMac design. So knowing what you just told now about how this was going to be the replacement, I would have been happy. Unfortunately a lot of the people I would imagine you and I follow on Twitter, would be very displeased that the fact-and Apple would be doomed because-they weren't releasing a Mac Pro. Now they are and so maybe they're not doomed but probably are still doomed. And this iMac Pro is really, really neat. It's out of my price range probably. But it is certainly a device that I would enjoy owning just because I do do a lot of video production work. And photo-manipulation and stuff like that. And it would be really nice to have a desktop computer that can do all that stuff and more. I think what ended up being more of a highlight for everybody who I was paying attention to; was the fact that you've also got the space gray magic keyboard and magic trackpad. And that was interesting. Apple certainly sees this as kind of its own little package of awesomeness. And I loved the point when they were like, ‘we didn't just stop at this many cores! We also offer this many cores! And not just that, but also this many cores!' So, you know there's a market out there, a very small market, but yea, I think Apple is going to be fine with that. This is a device made for the particular person who wants it. And they will buy it and they will probably be happy with it, and that's great. I would love to see space gray come to more iMacs. But until that happens I will just have to stare longingly at this new iMac Pro.
Jason: If you're going to spend $5,000 on an iMac, you get the special color. I think that's definitely the case. Just to be clear, there will be a new Mac Pro as well. Apple said that a few weeks ago. This is not that. There will also be one of those. And that will be interesting to see; how do you differentiate this iMac Pro from the Mac Pro? Presumably because it won't have a screen and hopefully will be more configurable.
Mikah: Space gray-squared will be the color.
Jason: That's right. And other things that in a standalone computer you can get that you can't get in an all-in-one that's attached to a big screen. I actually think that could be really great to see Apple being freed from a lot of these needs that they have in so many other computers; to just make something that is utterly devoted to people who want to have a box they can open up and plug something new in. And hopefully that's what we'll get and not just an iMac Pro with the screen taken off of it. Harry, you eluded to the other Macs that were announced. This is all part of the same story that's been happening since late last year where especially the professional core of Apple's Mac user-base was complaining that the systems weren't being updated often enough. The Mac Pro had gone a couple of years without an update. And they were questioning Apple's commitment. And basically the other Mac releases that happened were notable only in the sense that they happened. And that Apple was sending a message that they were going to do these updates. They updated those MacBook Pros that they announced nine months ago, that shipped nine months ago. And that in itself is not that exciting. But there had been a long time when Apple had let these systems go for more than a year without doing a processor update. Even though we knew those Intel processors were out there. In some ways, yes, those things got speed bumps. But it was also Apple sending a message that we are going to update these computers.
Harry: And Mac update time: nine months is really quite short. Because normally they're perfectly happy for Windows PCs, have the latest and greatest processors. And for Macs to get kind of long on the tooth…
Jason: They let it go a little too long and it made people cranky.
Harry: And people have complained about this at least for as long as I've been paying attention to Macs. But I think the discontent was getting more and more serious. It can't be much fun if you're Apple to read people talking about whether there might be a Mac someday which I think is very far from a truth. They're going to confront any time in a very long time to come. But I think Apple did want to make a statement.
Jason: So new Mac Pro next year. The iMac Pro this December. Stocking stuffer! It's a big stocking and you've got to have $5,000 at least to stuff it. And really if you want…
Mikah: Space gray stocking.
Jason: Space gray stocking, yea. It has to be in the space gray. Anyway, new MacBook as well. The MacBook Air got a few more megahertz. I think they may be literally running out of the chips. It's a Broadwell I think, so they're really running out of chips to put in it. But they found some so they're going to keep selling that. My understanding is the MacBook Air actually is one of Apple's best-selling computers, even now. Because it's $999. Okay, I'm going to say now, it's safe to come out of your bunker. We're going to stop talking about Apple. Let's move on to happier subject; that was sarcasm. Let's talk about Uber's bad week. As we speak, as we record this, apparently there is a secret emergency board meeting. People are tweeting from inside it maybe, so we're not sure how secret it can be. We don't know exactly what's going on involving potential… it's possible Travis Kalanick might take a leave of absence. It's possible that Emil Michael who is one of the more controversial figures might be let go. We don't really know. There are just rumors about them right now. You in the future watching this know more than we do about it. But even without that, it's been a tough week for a company that kind of is defining what a tough week looks like. At Uber they fired more than 20 employees as part of their ongoing sexual harassment probe. It's a bad scene. Travis Kalanick, the CEO, he released some very nice memos about the sex parties being held at their 2013 Miami off-site… he was actually trying to get his employees to feel sorry for him. Because as the boss of the company, he was…
Lisa: I can't have sex with my employees! It's so unfair!
Jason: Yes. The actual memo. So you know, I don't know. Kudos to Uber for defining this category. That's pretty cool that you can use an app to find a car that picks you up. And it's all wired to your credit card. But Harry, I'll start with you. Can this company be saved from itself? Or is it just too much? Is there just too much? This may be what they're talking about in the board meeting. We could have our own little Uber board meeting here. But what do you think about Uber's culture? And this just endless torrent of disastrous news?
Harry: And on top of all this there is this other basic question. Which is: even if it didn't have all these self-inflicted problems, how real a business is Uber long-time? Our friend, Glenn Fleishman, is also saying that Uber was going to collapse anyway because what it offers is sort of a commodity. And the network effects it has because it's so big maybe are not all that powerful.
Mikah: Lyft can offer essentially exactly what Uber offers, right?
Harry: Yea. And venture capitalists have been subsidizing all of our inexpensive rides on Uber for a long time.
Jason: And we thank them.
Harry: So they have some problems that might be basic to what they do. But they also have all these problems which they created. Some of which date back a long time and are coming back hot. Poor Travis Kalanick's parents were in this horrible boating accident and his mother died. And his father was badly injured. If he does take a leave of absence maybe that's a factor there. It's always dangerous to say that a company is in such deep trouble that it's not solvable. But you do have to wonder how they get out of this. They do have the same voting structure that a lot of other companies like Google and Facebook have used very successfully. Where it's very hard to get them to do anything that a handful of people including the CEO don't want to do. So I think some of this comes down to Travis Kalanick agreeing to radical change, if it happens. I don't think it's in the cards that he would just be forced out, most likely.
Jason: They also hired this week Bozomo St John who was one of the marketing people on Apple Music.
Harry: Good news.
Jason: As a Chief Brand Officer.
Lisa: She was the highlight of the WWDC 2016.
Jason: A year ago, right. And I think this strikes me as a sign of a company that does realize that they need to really change their culture and brand and impression. The question is like will they be able to do it.
Lisa: Have you heard of the glass cliff? Because it's a thing that gets reported on in business media where typically if a company is in a boatload of trouble, that's when you hire the women executives. No, seriously. And they call it the glass cliff.
Jason: It's the unwinnable…
Harry: It happened at Yahoo! and GM and Xerox.
Lisa: And HP even. And this way if they turn around, ‘hurray! It's great!' And if it's not, oh you can blame it on their management style or their inexperience or what have you. But the glass cliff is a fairly well-known way of trying to change corporate culture and make changes… this company is no longer a horror show to women because we have five of them now! And then if the company fails anyway, ‘oh gosh, those women sure didn't know what they were doing.'
Mikah: Oh my lord. Sorry, that's really frustrating.
Lisa: Any time they start announcing high-profile women executives, that's when you start looking at the balance sheets and the fundamentals. And you ask when are the layoffs coming. What business units are going to get set down? When do you set the death clock?
Jason: Because the idea here is again, if they hire women executives because they want to hire them, that's great. But there's this risk that some companies hire them as more of a…
Lisa: It's protective cover.
Jason: Yea. Or in the case of Uber who has had these terrible stories about their culture and how they treat women, that the argument from their side is that this is because of a lack of women in positions of power at Uber.
Lisa: And this is not men. As a slam on Bozoma St John by any stretch of the imagination. She has an incredible record with what she's done. She's got a strong 20-year record of achievement, of finding innovative ways to push the product and raise branding awareness. And she's clearly very good at what she does. This is more a reflection of what Uber's current management may be thinking as they scramble to rearrange the deck chairs in a more pleasing configuration. And get back to the VCs who… they've lost nearly $5 billion in the last two years. And at some point the people who said, ‘yea, you managed to burn through $4.8 billion over two years,' they're going to begin to wonder if there was ever a return on investment on this. Or is this basically Myspace on wheels.
Jason: I have to say so my father-in-law is actually a driver for both Uber and Lyft. And he said that before the blog post from the engineer who dealt with all the terrible sort of sexual harassment at Uber and quit, his rides were 80/20-Uber and Lyft. And he said after that blog post and the immediate aftermath it was 80/20 the other way. But he said it settled back to 50/50 and that's an example of Uber's attachment to their audience is not necessarily particularly strong. There are other options out there.
Harry: What town is he in?
Harry: So somewhat techy but not to the same degree we are?
Jason: Yea, and they have a fairly strong taxi market there too. Because for a while you couldn't use Lyft or Uber in Portland. You had to use Taxi Magic which is what Curbed now. But again there's another example: the taxi industry adapts too.
Lisa: Remember Uber kick-started the year with the leak; we had the protests at the airports over the punitive travel ban. All the New York cabbies joined in on the protest. And that's when Uber began pinging people saying ‘we're still giving rides from the airport if you want.' And that was just a massive PR misstep. That's how they launched the year. And it has only continued to go…
Jason: Bad weeks, bad months, bad years.
Mikah: And even before all the latest stuff. Even before all of this stuff kind of hit, I was at CES and was taking Uber at the time. So this was not last CES but the one before that. And I remember talking to one of the drivers because it seems like it's something you always do. ‘How long have you been driving?' When you have no idea what to talk about. And we ended up getting into a conversation because they're both Lyft and Uber. And talking about the differences between both of them. And so I ended up asking the question which one do you like more. They said Lyft. And I asked why, what is it about Lyft and Uber that makes Lyft different. They felt more like they were treated as a person at Lyft amongst other things. So for the rest of that weekend I made sure to ask every Uber/Lyft driver that I rode with that same question. And it was the same answer every single time; that they preferred Lyft and Lyft made them feel like more of a real person. So Uber it seems like has had an issue. And in all of these ways, for quite a while. Even before all this kind of stuff hit the fan and before we knew about it. And it's interesting that of course these companies rely on their drivers who they don't consider actual workers for them but just contractors. And also the people who decide to ride for them. And both of those things can change just like that if other options provide better options. If other options provide better opportunities for the drivers and for the riders, then Uber is nothing. And so I keep asking what… Bozoma St John is obviously incredible. And I think she's fantastic but what at this point can anybody in that position or in any position in the company do to make all of this stuff suddenly acceptable. Because I don't think it will ever be acceptable. So it's interesting. I don't know what their next steps are but certainly not the emails getting out there about the Miami party.
Jason: It's clear that the long-game, Travis Kalanick's long-game here, is self-driving cars. His long-game is not having drivers. That's how they solve how to deal with drivers who are contractors: is they just get rid of all the drivers. And that's why they made their deal with Carnegie Melon and they've been doing a lot of investment in self-driving cars. They want to ultimately be a car service that is entirely automated. The challenge as with so many things in Silicon Valley is you have your cocktail napkin; you've got your venture funding on one side; you've got the world domination on the other side; and in the middle there's a cloud with a question mark in it. And that's sort of the challenge: is how do you get from here to there. And this is where they're at right now.
Harry: It also created yet another problem they have: they're being sued by Wemo, which is Google' self-driving car.
Jason: Yes, because they took one of their key executives away. Via a startup was where they took his intellectual property.
Harry: And at least according to Wemo, he brought a lot of very specific stuff; he created at Google with him.
Jason: Right, and they had to fire him. That was not this most recent bad week for Uber. That was the previous on ‘Uber's bad week.' Yea, so it's a mess. What a mess. So full credit to Bozoma St John; she must feel like she's had a conversation; I imagined she asked those questions and probably she got a pretty good deal to come work there. She had a pretty good deal at Apple, I assume. Well, I just checked and we still don't have any news about what happened in that tumultuous board meeting. So I'm going to leave that to the listener to do some homework. Just check up and see how that went. And maybe they'll talk about that next week on TWiT. But I sense now that I need to… Leo's coming but not quite yet. First, I think we need to take a look back at while Uber was having a bad week. The week that was here at TWiT.
Previously on TWiT: Now you can play with a fidget spinner on your phone or on the internet. There we go. Spins! This is us. Where we get a digital fidget spinner. You're spinning it wrong. You're doing it wrong. No, I'm doing it right. You're not doing it right.
Security Now, Steve Gibson: the UK's Triton submarine fleet is vulnerable to-as the Guardian quoted-a catastrophic cyber-attack. All the various support systems are running Windows XP. We could have just skipped all of that and just say here's the ghost-backing part. There's a bunch of nukes run by Windows XP.
Tech News Today: the idea of buying likes or followers isn't new. But Louise Matsakis from Motherboard recently came upon a photo of a vending machine in a mall that will sell you 100 likes for a mere 50 Russian Rubles. All the likes and all the followers come from bought accounts. It feels like there's some sort of automated marketing that happens when you use this machine. I definitely would not recommend anybody; maybe make a better post. I don't know. It kind of sounds like value-add to me. You get some extra spam on the backend; everybody wins.
TWiT: Tech just how you like it!
Jason: Yea, see. See, we're all doing it wrong, aren't we? You got one spin! Fidget spinners… virtual fidget spinners that is what… thank you internet. Thank you computer industry for giving us virtual fidget spinners. There is of course a lot coming up in the next week as we record. In addition to that really dramatic Uber board meeting that's apparently going on, there is news already that Microsoft has made some announcements. There's more to come. I'm going to predict that that may be among the things to look for in the week ahead.
Megan Morrone: This week, most SKUs of the new Surface Pro will ship along with the Surface laptop. The Surface Pro starts at $800 and goes as high as $2700. And keep in mind that does not include any accessories. The new Surface Pro looks a lot like the old Surface Pro. But according to Microsoft, there are about 800 new parts inside. Sony has some new hardware coming out this week: the XZ Premium was announced back in February at Mobile World Congress. But it only becomes available for pre-order on June 12th. And you'll have to wait until June 19th for the unlocked version. The XZ Premium has a 5.5-inch 4K screen and a camera that captures slow motion, 720p, and 960 FPS video. Like the new Surface Pro, the XZ Premium also starts at $800. And for all you gamers out there, this week is the Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, which already started on Saturday. We expect to see new Star Wars games from EA. And a new Wolfenstein game from Bethesda. And of course the new console from Microsoft, code name Project Scorpio. We might even see a price drop from PlayStation to compete with Microsoft's offering. That is just a few of the stories we'll be following this week. Jason Howell and I are here covering the tech news every day, Monday through Friday at 4pm Pacific. Back to you.
Jason: It's the Xbox 1X by the way. Scorpio! But there will be much more on that. I was a little bit like what Harry and Mikah felt about the iPad announcements at iOS 11. That I though Megan was never going to get to E3 and my prediction was going to be totally wrong. And at the very end, oh so dramatic. Also I will say because this is a game that I just played and I love another E3 announcement that just happened, is Life is Strange-which is a really awesome game that you should play-is giving a three-episode prequel. I'm very happy about that. Look at me! I have opinions about games! It can happen. Every so often it happens. Now again, I do sense that Leo perhaps has one more thing to tell us about.
Leo: Our show today brought to you by this; I took this off my front door. No I didn't; the Ring Video Doorbell. Ring's mission is to make neighborhoods safer. Actually they did a really interesting experiment with the police department in the southern California small town. And it was a very simple experiment but it really worked. They put Ring Video Doorbells on one home in ten. Not every home. One home in ten. But the thing about the thing is it makes your whole neighborhood safer. The Ring Video Doorbell: it has a camera on it. It has a microphone. It's got a speaker. I'll tell you why that's important in a second. It also has motion detection. Bad guys know there's a neighborhood that's full of Ring Doorbells; they're not going anywhere near it. Put yourself in the bad guys' shoes. It's in the middle of the day-that's actually when most homes get robbed. Not at night, but in the middle of the day while you're at work, right? So bad guy first makes sure you're at work, he comes up and rings the doorbell. Even though you're at work, you can answer your doorbell because every time somebody comes up, even if they don't ring the doorbell, just comes up my stoop; I get a little ding. It sounds like wind chimes on my phone. You've probably heard it because it happens a lot. I forget to mute my phone; it happens on this show. And I can look at who's at my door. When they ring the doorbell it goes bing bing bing on my phone! And here's the great part. I can go, ‘yea, what is it?' I can see them and I can talk to them. And they don't know I'm not inside. Now if it's a bad guy they go, ‘oh, I'm sorry. Wrong house!' And they run away. It's awesome! And if it's the UPS guy, you can say, ‘I'm in the bathtub. Can you just leave it there and I'll sign for it tomorrow?' It works! And when there's a package on your doorstep you can check it any time you want. Ring Video Doorbell. They have a new product I love: the Floodlight Cam. I've ordered a couple of these. It's a motion-active… it's just basically a Ring Video Doorbell with a big floodlight on it and no doorbell. So it's a motion-activated camera with a floodlight. Just like the Ring, it connects to your phone. You've got high-def video. You've got two-way audio. You can see when… we have a neighbor who likes to come on our property. And I'm going to put it right out there. First of all the light is going to come on; he's going to know I'm watching. And I swear to God, I'm going to go, ‘hey, Bob! Get out of here! I see you!' I can't wait! Whether you're home or away, the Ring Floodlight Cam helps you keep an eye on your home. Ring Floodlight Cams offer the ultimate in home security, high visibility floodlights, a powerful HD camera. It was named the Wall Street Journal's best of CES for 2017. Now, we've got some Ring-of-Security kits and some very good deals for you when you go to ring.com/twit. The kit includes a Ring Video Doorbell and your choice of either one, two, or three Floodlight Cams. So your whole house can be lit up. Connect your Ring Video Doorbell with your favorite smart locks and hubs for added convenience for monitoring and security. With Ring, you're always home! Save up to $150 off a Ring-of-Security kit. Go to ring.com/twit. That's ring.com/twit and we thank Ring for their support. Now, let's continue with TWiT. Jason?
Jason: Thank you, Leo. I sense that Leo's presence may have left us. But I'm sure he'll be back tomorrow with more. Again, I promised no more Apple stuff. Instead though, I want to tell you-because I know you want to know about Taylor Swift, everybody-you see, Taylor Swift was in the news this week. Because the bitter feud between Taylor Swift and Spotify ended this week with her music returning to Spotify and pretty much every other streaming service that it was not already on. The Verge had a really great article about the history of Taylor Swift's statements about her opinions about streaming. There have been many over the years. Now, I feel again like maybe Mikah Sargent has some opinions about this breaking story involving Taylor Swift. Mikah?
Mikah: You know, I might disappoint.
Jason: No, never.
Mikah: Thank you. Taylor Swift's music is fine. I'm sorry Christina Warren. I'm sorry everybody who is a Taylor Swift fan.
Jason: Fan praise.
Mikah: I'm not a huge Taylor Swift fan so this didn't really matter all that much to me that her music was suddenly available across all the platforms. But what I will say is that when Taylor Swift originally put out that message about Spotify and streaming music services in general about devaluing creation; that kind of hit me in the feels. Because it's not just music. There are a lot of different areas, like graphic designers and artists, and architects. And people who don't make physical products or work to make physical things or sell physical things-where a lot of times we see devaluation happen there. And graphic designers often joke about spec work but it's a very real thing. And I thought there was something to it. Now this coming from a very hypocritical human being who also enjoys streaming music services, but at the same time I got where she was coming from with that. And if it was her decision to leave her music off because she felt like a company was devaluing her as a person and her as an artist and the stuff she was making, I got that. I get it now on this side where we're talking about how it's good for everybody because it's good for consumers who are choosing between streaming music services. That's great. In fact I think I had to go update an article I wrote about streaming music services because Taylor Swift was one of the items I had talked about on there. So yea, good. People who like Taylor Swift can now listen to her across all those different platforms. Apparently she doesn't feel the same way she once did about people devaluing her works. But we'll leave that to come out in Twitter over the next week or so.
Jason: Yea, I do wonder what motivated this. If it was a particular feeling about the role of music services and how they pay artists. Because that was her famously with Apple; she was complaining about Apple Music and Apple made nice with Taylor. And she put her music on Apple Music. So did that happen with Spotify? Or did she just decide it was time? I don't know. I've been informed by the way by important sources, namely my daughter, that there is an ongoing feud of some sort going on between Taylor Swift and Katy Perry? And Katy Perry's new album came out this week actually I believe the same day that Taylor Swift's albums reached streaming services, leading conspiracy theorists-the internet's finest pot-music conspiracy theorists-to wonder if perhaps this was Taylor's way of taking some of the spotlight off of Katy Perry. However Katy Perry, I will say my Amazon Echo told me this week, that I could talk to Katy Perry and she would tell me about all the songs on her new album. So the battle is being fought across cyber space.
Lisa: She live-streamed her weekend, Katy Perry did.
Jason: She did!
Lisa: Yea, she's all-in on this new distribution technology.
Jason: And whether these feuds are real or silly, somebody told me that Taylor Swift's song bad blood is about Katy Perry. I don't know. I don't know anything about it. But it is fascinating to see modern 21st century pot-music marketing, right? The idea that Katy Perry is in my Amazon Echo this week and she's live-streaming herself. And on the other side Taylor Swift is making news about her back catalog. Nothing new to release, just a back catalog. This is the world we live in.
Harry: Katy has embraced YouTube which is a service a lot of musicians can't stand. It went to YouTube's new fronts a couple months ago and she was there. She gave us all a concert and she's doing live-streaming to promote her album on YouTube.
Jason: You sound like you could not have been more excited to see Katy Perry in concert.
Harry: I'm on team Katy just because I've seen her in person. And I don't know Taylor Swift from Adam at this point.
Lisa: She's got a blank space, Harry, and she'll right your name.
Mikah: Oh yes!
Jason: The feud extends to Harry McCracken now. Watch out Taylor Swift!
Mikah: I'm convinced that all of these feuds are not real but instead are marketing things. There was a feud between Nicki Minaj and Remy Ma. I'm sorry everybody. And that was basically each of them writing songs back and forth to each other. Just absolutely decimating the other person. There was Taylor Swift and Kanye West/Kim Kardashian. Which was a hilarious thing because it resulted in one of the most funny phrases that I actually save in my photos library so I can use it any time I ever want to be excluded from a narrative. Where she said and I quote, ‘I would very much like to be excluded from this narrative, one that I have never asked to be a part of, since 2009.' And then there was the whole album Lemonade by Beyonce was supposed to be about her and her husband Jay-Z and some infidelity in the relationship. And I'm not even 100% sure that's true. And it could have just been another bit of marketing. So I like to believe that all of these are fake and Taylor Swift and Katy Perry just signed some contacts. Yes, for the next two years we cannot be seen together in person. And we have to pretend to fight and write songs about each other. And we're both going to profit so much from this. So yea, none of it's real. It's all fake.
Jason: That all happens on social media which is why I actually wanted to bring it up on TWiT. This isn't just about music streaming. It's about using social media as marketing. How do you do it? Back in the old days, they'd go on like a TV show, they'd go on to American Bandstand or the Ed Sullivan show or you name it.
Lisa: The World Wrestling Entertainment. Which is what this is like!
Jason: It is a little bit.
Harry: Joan Crawford and Betty Davis except they didn't have social media.
Lisa: Can you imagine if they had it?
Jason: Imagine that Instagram stream. So anyway, I think what I'm saying is it wasn't all about Apple today. It was also about Taylor Swift and Uber and a little bit of Amazon and Walmart. And we still haven't decided who the snake is and who the crocodile is. But we'll work that out. Or if it's a crocodile or an alligator. I think we've got lots of herpetology things going on. The reptiles. I would like to thank my guests for being here, all of it. Lisa Schmeiser, people can find you on Twitter at lschmeiser. And you're also at the WinSuperSite.
Lisa: Winsupersite.com, yea.
Jason: And you run the whole show over there. It's so great to have you here. Thank you. Harry McCracken, at Fast Company now. Great to have you here. I heard you're working on something. Something good.
Harry: I'm working on something good which we decided to hold off a little bit on. So I'm not talking about it at the moment. But it won't be too long. A nice thing about Fast Company is we do a lot of slow-cooked stuff. I'm also working on cool stuff you won't see for months. But it should be neat when it comes out. And I hope I'll be back to talk about it.
Jason: Do you still have the personalized license plate?
Harry: No, when I bought a new car I gave up my PCWORLD license plate.
Jason: I could always tell when you were at an event I was going to because I could see your car in the parking lot because I knew your license plate.
Harry: I once cut off Jim Louderback, who is the editor of PC Magazine. We live near each other. And I cut him off on 280 and he knew it was me because he saw my PCWORLD plate. I didn't do it on purpose but how appropriate!
Jason: How appropriate indeed. And Mikah Sargent, you're at iMore. And you also host a bunch of podcasts.
Mikah: Yea, and if you're looking for me online, you can find me at www.chihuahua.coffee. And no, that's not a joke.
Jason: It really works. So great to have you here. Thank you for being on.
Mikah: Oh yea, of course.
Jason: And thanks everybody out there. I know, no Leo. It's sad. Thank you to Leo for letting me sit in on him and picking a week where we could talk about some Apple stuff which makes me happy. Along with some other stuff. And Taylor Swift, okay I'll admit it-talking about Taylor Swift and Katy Perry, it kind of made me happy. Anyway, that's it for this week! TWiT will be back next week. And until then I say goodbye. Another TWiT is in whatever container we put it in.