Here's everything I've written throughout March 2019.


Initial Observations on Apple’s “Show Time” Event PP

Apple Event 2019 - Show Time

Apple announced a few new services today, so I’d like to take a moment and write my initial thoughts and observations down whilst they’re still fresh in my mind. I may well flesh this out in a future article.

Apple News+

  • Apple News+ is available for $9.99 a month. Unlike Apple Music, this flat fee covers every family member at no additional cost, so long as Family Sharing is setup. It’s launching today for the US and Canada, but I believe it’s due to reach the UK later in the year
  • Magazines are shown on the Today tab, mixed in with existing news articles, and have their own dedicated page for browsing through all the titles
  • The magazines sport Live Covers. (Think Live Photo’s but for their front page content). It wasn’t made clear whether all magazines will, or must, support Live Covers but a couple were briefly shown on stage
  • Apple made it clear that their new service won’t make compromises on security. “On device intelligence” makes recommendations to you but only after the News app has downloaded content. They went on to stress that there’s no-one who will be able to see what you’re reading, which should satisfy the more privacy conscious readers amongst you
  • On the subject of recommendations, the keynote demonstrated how a publication you might not regularly read could be thrown up as an article of interest. I can see how this may introduce people to magazines they wouldn’t have otherwise touched, extending their readership. That can only be a net win for the publishers

Apple Card

  • Honestly, Apple have introduced a credit card. No, I’m not joking around
  • This is strictly for the US right now. No mention of support in other countries whatsoever
  • This is Apple’s take on the traditional credit card, so as you might expect it’s going to be different. Apple Card is designed to be used from the iPhone primarily. You sign up on device and it’s added to the Wallet, “within minutes”. There was no mention of their approval process, if there is one, but I guess that wasn’t sexy enough for the keynote. (It’s important stuff though, especially if you’re going to consider switching)
  • The Wallet will display all of your transaction data, expenditure trends and information about your balance. If you need more information on a transaction, or need to update your address, a conversation with Apple can be struck via Messages. This is useful information but I hope there’s a way to actually phone someone up. When it comes to money, I want to be able to reach an actual human being if I have a question
  • Apple Card can be used in apps and stores worldwide, wherever Apple Pay is accepted. If you’re looking to pay for something at a venue where Apple Pay isn’t supported, there’s a good old fashioned card to fall back on



  • Apple Card rewards customers with cash back. Any purchase made with the physical credit card will get 1%, whilst purchases made with Apple Card on iPhone or with Apple Watch get 2%; Rising to 3% when paying for Apple services or subscriptions. If you’re paying for Apple Music or iCloud Storage, there’s a sweetener right there. I reckon it’ll drive adoption for many of Apple’s high spending customers
  • The physical card has the Apple logo in the top left, your name underneath and the chip. That’s it. No long card number, expiry date or CVC code on the back. The information is all held within the Wallet app if you need it, but I appreciate their efforts to minimise physical card fraud. These cards are near enough useless to thieves if they don’t have your PIN

Apple Arcade

  • Apple says there’s approximately 300,000 games on the App Store, many of which aren’t getting the exposure or success they deserve. They are pitching Apple Arcade as a way to get premium, console grade, games at a fixed monthly price
  • Yep, this is (another) subscription that will have about 100 games at launch. Keep in mind they’re only going to be available to play with Apple Arcade, which in a way contributes to the problem Apple said they’ve set out to fix?
  • Offline play is supported across iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple TV. (I wonder how many of these games will translate well between touch first, keyboard/mouse and the Siri remote. You can get controllers for Apple TV but they’re a niche)
  • Frustratingly, Apple didn’t announce any pricing or a launch date for Apple Arcade. The only information I can pass onto you is it’ll be reaching 150 countries in the Autumn. They should have had the price ready for the keynote, especially with all the build up these past few weeks

Apple TV App, Channels and TV+

  • A refreshed TV app is coming in May via a software update, which I reckon is needed to access the new Apple TV Channels and TV+ content. Interestingly the TV app is going to be available on the Mac. I’m going to call it now, that the TV app is going to be ‘universal’ like macOS Mojave’s Home, Stocks and Weather apps. It won’t be a ‘native’ application
  • “Pay only for the channels you want”. That’s the elevator pitch for Apple TV Channels. They’ve secured some ‘traditional’ cable and satellite channels like HBO, CBS All Access and Brit Box but it’s thin on the ground. It could expand outwards in the future, but time will tell
  • Apple are going to make this available on smart TV’s too, which is a rare move for them to take. It’s the right one though if their aim is to get as many eyeballs as possible. Look no further than Apple Music on Android
  • Apple TV+ is Apple’s umbrella name for its own content. “A new service dedicated to the best stories ever told”. The vibe I’m getting is that if Apple can’t successfully partner with content providers, then they’re going to head out and create their own. For their sake I hope the content is strong and the library grows out continuously. That’s going to be key in keeping their customers interested
  • When will Apple TV+ be available? How much will it cost? Where will it be launching? None of these questions were answered, which for a keynote announcement comes across as unpolished and half baked. We’re all here to learn about what’s next, but you can’t tell us a lot of the key details?

25 March, 2019

Apple’s 25th March Event PP

I will be watching this event via the provided livestream tonight, so you can expect tweets as the show unfolds. A more detailed write up will follow shortly thereafter so keep an eye out for that.

After last week’s whirlwind of product announcements, (new AirPods, a mostly refreshed iPad line-up and updated iMacs), it’s clear that Apple wants everyone’s focus away from hardware and squarely on their big reveal. It must be something big, as in years gone by they’d have held an event for the new devices.

25 March, 2019

The Open Sourcing of Windows Calculator PP

Dave Grochocki and Howard Wolosky over on the Windows Developer Blog:

Today, we’re excited to announce that we are open sourcing Windows Calculator on GitHub under the MIT License. This includes the source code, build system, unit tests, and product roadmap


Reviewing the Calculator code is a great way to learn about the latest Microsoft technologies like the Universal Windows Platform, XAML, and Azure Pipelines.Through this project, developers can learn from Microsoft’s full development lifecycle, as well as reuse the code to build their own experiences. It’s also a great example of Fluent app design

I’m a lot more interested in the latter part of this announcement, as developers can see how Microsoft is using their UWP technology on a real world, shipping product for the masses. I love the concept behind Fluent design but there’s too few applications in the wild that fully embrace it. I doubt this will be the spark behind mass adoption of Fluent or UWP, but any effort to widen the door is welcome.

The Windows Calculator project is available right now on GitHub.

10 March, 2019

Amazon’s physical Dash buttons have been discontinued PP

According to CNET, and a quick look on by yours truly, it appears Amazon have discontinued their physical Dash buttons. I use a handful of these IoT devices within my home, acting as wireless smart buttons. (Courtesy of Dasshio, a plug-in for Home Assistant). They were cheap as chips, only £5 each, and could be programmed to control lights and switches. For this reason, I will miss the little buggers.

As a way to order items from Amazon though, I exhibit a mere shrug. Every Dash button I bought could only order products from a tiny selection; all of which were pretty expensive. There’s a single Dash button for Nescafe Azera coffee on my fridge but I’ve never used it beyond the set up process. Why? The button bought in bulk and whenever I did run out, it was cheaper to buy a single tin on the way home from work or I’d spot a deal on bulk buy in the supermarket. These would have had a much better uptake in the home if the re-order options were less dear.

07 March, 2019

Ikea’s Made A Flat-Pack Chocolate Bunny for Easter PP

Holly Brockwell, writing for Gizmodo UK:

Well, you can’t accuse Ikea of having no sense of humour — the company has fully taken the piss out of itself with its Easter 2019 product: a flat-pack chocolate bunny.

Called VÅRKÄNSLA, which the internet tells us translates to something like ‘Spring feeling’ or ‘the excitement of Spring,’ the bunny comes in three pieces that you have to put together yourself.

Well why not? Bravo IKEA. At only £2.95 a pop I’m going to have to get myself one three of these. At least.

06 March, 2019

The Macra Terror, special animated edition, is coming soon PP

Originally broadcast in four weekly parts from 11th March to 1st April 1967, and starring Patrick Troughton, Anneke Wills, Michael Craze and Frazer Hines, no full episodes of this serial are known to have survived on film. Fortunately for fans, a complete audio recording of all four parts still exists. Now, 52 years later, the four episodes will be brought back to life through the power of animation in both colour and the original black and white.

The BBC are making this available for download and on both DVD and Blu-Ray from the 25th March 2019. In other words, “Any day now!” I hope the digital version comes with all of the extras, as that’ll be my preferred choice.

I wish more of both William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton’s original stories existed on film but by going through the process of animating over the four episode serial, atop of recorded audio, its the best chance we’ll have to see it.

06 March, 2019

iOS 12.2 Beta 4 and the Control Centre Remote PP

Apple released the fourth Developer beta of iOS 12.2 yesterday and the Remote icon within Control Centre has changed. Where before it was the Apple TV logo, it’s now an image of the Siri remote.

iOS 12.2 Control Centre for both Developer beta 3 (left) and Developer beta 4 (right).

At first glance this doesn’t seem all that newsworthy but keep in mind that Apple is drumming up support for HomeKit and AirPlay 2-Enabled TV’s. Already this year we’ve heard from LG, Sony and Samsung pledging support for these technologies on their future products, so it makes sense to me that the remote icon changes to a remote. Even if it does happen to perfectly resemble the Apple TV remote in the process.

05 March, 2019

Access to Linux Subsystem files is going to become easier with Windows 10 PP

Later this year Microsoft will release their next big update to Windows 10 and with it comes an interesting addition to the File Explorer. So long as you’re using a distro with WSL (Windows SubSystem for Linux), (Ubuntu for example), you’ll be able to browse and interact with the Linux filesystem right alongside your NTFS filesystem.

According to the blog post by Craig Loewen there will be a few methods available, so you can pick the one(s) that fit best into your workflow. A Linux option will be presented in the sidebar which I think will be the most convenient, but you can also type explorer.exe wherever you want within the distro itself and File Explorer will pop right up. You’ll also be able to use \\wsl$\[distro], replacing [distro] with the name of the running distribution.

I don’t currently use WSL all that much, partly because accessing files isn’t the easiest. This upcoming change could turn that around for me.

01 March, 2019