A trade journal of a still-emerging field, written by Adam Tinworth.

Posts tagged Apple

Apple dropped some new kit this morning – a red iPhone, a better iPad (non-Pro), and some watch bands.

Oh, and a social video making app:

Apple today introduced Clips, a new app that makes it quick and fun for anyone to create expressive videos on iPhone® and iPad®. The app features a unique design for combining video clips, photos and music into great-looking videos to share with friends through the Messages app, or on Instagram, Facebook and other popular social networks.

One interesting touch for mojos on the go:

With Live Titles in Clips, users can add animated captions and titles using just their voice. Captions are generated automatically as a user speaks, and appear on screen perfectly synced with the user’s voice. Users can mix and match different styles, and tap any title to adjust text and punctuation, or even add inline emoji. Live Titles supports 36 different languages.

It’s not available to download quite yet – it will be out in April. But it looks like it could be a very handy tools for journalists working on social video quickly from the field. Look for a full review next month.

The Telegraph on Apple News

The Telegraph is seeing substantial reader growth – from Apple News:

For The Telegraph, Apple News has become the most effective third-party platform at driving readers to its own sites and app — where it can eventually turn them into subscribers.

(Note the contrast here to Facebook, which is doing everything it can to keep you in the Instant Articles walled garden.)

Two anecdotes that seem to bear this out:

  1. I’m getting about an extra day’s worth of traffic a week from Apple News (you can sub to One Man & His Blog there, should you wish.)
  2. My wife – a Facebook refusenik – now uses Apple News as her major news-reading interface.

Something’s happening here.

The Need for Notifications

Another interesting point in the piece:

“The main growth has been driven by the iOS10 update and a combination of our new strategy,” said Bridge. Several publishers recorded traffic increases since the iOS10 update last year, partly because of the introduction of notifications. “In the modern age, people look to consume content through notifications. That doesn’t mean they will always open them and click through.”

For breaking news – you need to have a notification strategy, but one that doesn’t get your notifications switched off.

There’s a number of interesting things that journalists can take away from last week’s Apple keynote. I’ll return to things like the changes to Apple News and the possibilities opened up by Messages as a developer platform later in the week. But right now, I’m most interested by this – probably the biggest public interview any Apple staff did around the event:

An hour-long public interview conducted with Phil Schiller, Senior Vice President, Worldwide Marketing and Craig Federighi, senior vice president, software engineering. And who was the interview with? A blogger.

Well, OK, not just any blogger. John Gruber’s Daring Fireball has become probably the most influential site for Apple users in the decade since he quit his day job to write the blog full-time.

Last year, he pulled off a major coup by getting Schiller along to talk on the live version of his podcast – The Talk Show – at WWDC, Apple’s annual developer conference. In the year since, he’s had Federighi and Eddie Cue call into the show to talk about Swift, Apple’s new programming language.

The rise of the new enthusiast press

The Mac-specific press has been in decline for years. MacWorld magazine closed its print doors a little under two year ago, even though a rump of it survives online. And new, magazine-like publications have risen to replace them online. iMore does much the same “how-to” copy you had to turn to the print editions for 15 years ago.

But throughout that time, Gruber has been establishing himself as a leading commenter on Apple, through a combination of links, analysis, commentary and occasional reviews. His site is truly of the web – it bears no similarity to anything we’d regard as a magazine. And yet, he’s landing interviews with big Apple figures.

For Apple, it’s a mixed blessing. They have a conduit to the most passionate, enthusiastic fan community via Gruber. And they have a knowledgeable questioner who is inclined to be pro-Apple. But that same immersion in Apple and its technical infrastructure means that they’ll be challenged on a depth of technical detail a lay journalist wouldn’t have the interest or knowledge to pursue. It’s interesting watching the video rather than listening to the podcast of the event, simply because you can see much more clearly that Federighi is on edge.

Beyond the softball question

Many journalists would look at the interview and dismiss it as “softball”. Certainly Gruber doesn’t challenge them on the high-level issues that the mainstream press are obsessed with. But he does extract quite a lot of interesting detail that wouldn’t have emerged otherwise.Certainly, I learned more about how we’re likely to see the various OSes evolve in the coming years from this interview than any other coverage I saw.

It is, quite simply, an interview for enthusiasts, and it’s very interesting to see Apple increasingly opening itself up to that. Others have trod this path before. Blizzard – makers of games like World of Warcraft, Hearthstone and Overwatch – have had senior executives appearing on podcasts and getting into very detailed discussions on decisions that weren’t popular with the fans.

Charles Arthur suggested that Gruber might eventually aim for the top – Cook himself:

I guess they can pick from Schiller, Federighi and Eddy Cue for a few years before it has to aim for the top with Cook. After whom, what?

And I’m sure Gruber would love the opportunity to interview Cook (and Jony Ive, but it’s interesting how he’s sliding from view) – but I wonder if the WWDC event would be the right place for that. By landing Federighi, the man in charge of all Apple’s software efforts, including the operating systems, they had almost the perfect guest for the people in the room – largely developers. WWDC is, after all, a developer conference.

However, all these are details. What this event marks is the rise of a new form of specialist press (if you’ll excuse the print-centric term), one running on low overheads – Gruber is essentially a one-man band, although he does have an editor on the podcast, and had event support and videographers for the live *Talk SHow – and created by a single, insightful commentator building a useful site for people with a deep interest in a niche subject.

It’s inescapably a form of journalism, one that rests on the nexus of what we used to call the consumer press and B2B. It just looks nothing like the journalism we’re used to. One consistent lesson of the web: your competitors probably look nothing at all like you.

Surprisingly fewer and fewer designers, regardless of their particular design discipline, seem to be interested in the detail of how something is actually made. With a father who is a fabulous craftsman, I was raised with the fundamental belief that it is only when you personally work with a material with your hands, that you come to understand its true nature, its characteristics, its attributes, and I think – very importantly – its potential.

Jony Ive

Well, if you’re having problems choosing a gift for your iPhone-using digital journalist, Apple have just solved the problem for you:

Apple iPhone6S with smart battery case

The battery case, which charges with the phone, claims to over double double the talk and data life of the device – which mobile journalists who work in the field regularly will recognise as a huge boon:

Charge your iPhone and battery case simultaneously for increased talk time up to 25 hours, Internet use up to 18 hours on LTE, and even longer audio and video playback.* With the Smart Battery Case on, the intelligent battery status is displayed on the iPhone Lock screen and in Notification Centre, so you know exactly how much charge you have left.

Of course, it would be nice if the phone itself latest longer, but this isn’t a bad solution for £79. It’s certainly more practical than the external battery bank I’ve been using up until now.

(Yes, I’ve ordered one.)

Summer is ending. Temperatures are dropping. And, as is traditional, the arrival of Autumn is heralded by the announcement of a new Apple event. It’s almost certain to be iPhone-centric, but just to tease us a little, it reads:

Hey Siri, give us a hint.

For those not familiar with the usage, “Hey Siri” is how you trigger Apple’s intelligent assistant when your phone is plugged in – for example, when driving the car or cooking in the kitchen. So all that implies that there’s something coming where voice-control is important. New Apple TV?

Maybe Siri knows:

Siri hint

Does she have more to say?

Siri hint 2

Well, no I wasn’t. That was my brother. So I’ll wait, patiently, until the 9th.

And then I order my phone upgrade…

From Jason Snall’s transcript of Apple CEO Tim Cook’s remarks in the earnings call last night:

We’ve already signed 25 leading publishers representing more than 75 of the world’s most influential news, sports, business, and magazine titles, including CNN, the New York Times, the Financial Times, ESPN, Bloomberg Business, Conde Nast, Hearst, Reuters, Time Inc., and the Daily Telegraph.

It’ll be interesting to learn what “signed” means in this context, as anyone with a site and an RSS feed can apply for membership. I’m “in” Apple News, for example.

  • Have they got early access to Apple News Format?
  • Have they got revenue deals?
  • Have they got promotional deals?

Bears watching…