Interface: 58. Supplementing Your Reality

http://interface.fm/58

Chase can now have a Tesla anywhere he goes. The problems is, it’s invisible unless he’s looking through his iPhone’s camera. Meanwhile, Andrew has been experimenting with AR simulated board games and loves the shaky cam battle scenes. Also, Ian has a cold. Sorry.

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The End of the “Plus”

Every year, as summer comes to an end, the hype for the next iPhone becomes palpable. Rumors and speculation swirl, and leaks begin to reveal what Apple might be doing at their early fall event.

This year is like every other in some regards, but is also very different in many ways. A summer of leaks and speculation has most people predicting an iPhone with slimmer bezels, a repositioned home button1, and a $1000+ price tag2. What is harder to predict is the other device that will make an appearance in 2017.

In the history of the iPhone, every other year, we get an “S” model phone, which subtly iterates on the previous years device. The iPhone 4S was essentially the iPhone 4, with an improved camera and the addition of Siri. The 5S was the iPhone 5 with added TouchID. The 6S was the 6 with a first generation Taptic motor and the introduction of 3D Touch.

In 2016, with the iPhone 7, for the first time in Apple’s history, the new phone was almost akin to an SS device. Instead of being a new design AND new features, it further iterated on the 6 and 6S design, with only a few notable new features and a familiar size and shape.

Most rumors to date suggest that in addition to the fancy new iPhone (I’m calling it iPhone Pro), there will be an iPhone 7S and 7S Plus. Others suggest that they will skip the 7S moniker and jump to iPhone 8 and 8 Plus. Either way, the general assumption is that there will be a total of 3 iPhone models this year.

I think that’s wrong.

In 2014, 2015, and 2016, it was easy (or easier) to decide which new device you wanted to purchase. If you wanted a smaller, more hand and pocket friendly device, you picked the 6, 6S, or 7. If you wanted the cooler camera features (OIS, Depth Effect, 2X zoom), or wanted a giant screen and more battery, you picked the Plus model.

In 2017, if the iPhone Pro is roughly the same physical size as the iPhone 7, but packs all the camera features and a bigger screen than the Plus, why would anyone buy the 2017 Plus. As it is, differentiating 2 devices is a challenge, aside from screen size, trying to extend that to 3 seems impossibly complex for consumers AND Apple’s marketing team.

This year, I firmly believe Apple will FINALLY fix the naming of their iPhone lineup (much like the rest of their product lines), and will stick with just 2 devices. iPhone and iPhone Pro. No more generation numbers, no more S years, just an iPhone with good specs, and an iPhone with great specs. Selling a good phone to people doesn’t seem to be a challenge for Apple, and selling a great phone seems to come naturally as well. Selling a phone that is good, but not significantly better, but also isn’t great seems much less practical.

Between getting a Plus or Pro, who would pick the Plus? I know I wouldn’t. And I think Apple knows that, too.

Review: OWC USB-C Dock for MacBook

The 12″ MacBook is a remarkable computer. It’s incredibly thin, amazingly light, and an all-around solid machine for most tasks. Unfortunately, to make the device so incredibly sleek, Apple stripped it of any connectivity, with the exception of a headphone jack and a single USB-C port. This has caused many would-be MacBook owners to shy away from the device.

The need for a plethora of dongles to use the MacBook with other USB devices, SD card readers, ethernet or a monitor makes it all the more daunting. Fortunately, thanks to the fine folks at OWC, there is now a dock that expands your MacBook’s single port into a collection of ports and connections to make it a more versatile machine.

Overview

The OWC USB-C Dock for MacBook (starting at $127.99 on MacSales.com) is a multi-port dock, allowing you to extend the connectivity of your 12″ MacBook, 2016 or newer MacBook Pro, and other PCs with USB-C connectivity. The USB-C dock offers you multiple USB ports (4 type A, 1 type C), an SD card reader, audio in/out, gigabit ethernet, display out, and the ability to charge your USB-C computer.

For my testing, OWC sent me the HDMI variant of the dock, allowing me to connect an external monitor (up to 4K resolution) via a single HDMI port. OWC also offers a Mini Display Port model, depending on what your setup requires. Regardless of which video port you need, the dock comes in 4 colors, designed to match the look of your MacBook or MacBook Pro. Personally, a gold dock seemed like it might be a little flashy, so I definitely prefer the Space Gray model, but knowing that option is there is a great selling point for some.

From a functionality standpoint, the USB-C Dock is extremely versatile. After getting my MacBook in 2016, I picked up a 4 separate dongles to allow me to connect various things to the computer, or charge the computer while also using a USB device. Having the OWC Dock has made all of those dongles redundant when I’m at my desk. Having a single USB-C cable going into the MacBook is incredible convenient when the other end is host to a plethora of ports.

When out and about, the OWC Dock is much less convenient. Unlike most dongles, which require no external power, the USB-C Dock needs it’s own power, complete with a a giant a hefty converter box. Not only that, but the dock and power block are both quite thick, especially in comparison to the incredibly thin MacBook.

The biggest perk of the USB-C dock, in my opinion, is the pass-through power, which is rated to 80 Watts. That means that if you’re using a 12″ MacBook, or the 13″ MacBook Pro (with or without TouchBar), you’ll get full power delivery in addition to all the expansion. If you use a 15″ MacBook Pro with TouchBar, you’ll get near full charging power (based on rated 85W). Many other USB-C adapters with similar connectivity deliver much lower power, leading to extremely long recharge times. With the OWC Dock, I saw recharge times equal to that of the Apple-provided charging block and cable.

The only complaint I have with the dock is the length of the included USB-C cable. At roughly 18″, it is very limiting on where I can position the dock, forcing me to leave it residing on my desk, instead of tucked away, out of sight. Currently, there are some standards issues with USB-C cable and device designs that can restrict cable length somewhat, but something in the range of 3′-6′ would have been much more accommodating of keeping a tidy desk space.

Verdict

[Rating: 4.5/5]

The OWC USB-C Dock is a great option for MacBook owners looking to get more out of the single port on their device. Whether you’re looking for HDMI or Mini Display Port, the USB-C dock comes in multiple colors, and offers the same flexibility for extending your workspace. The lack of portability, and the incredibly short USB-C cable are minor sticking points, but not critical flaws by any means.

Pros

  • Extends a single USB-C port into 10
  • 2 Display options, each in 4 Apple-matched colors
  • Sturdy and reliable
  • SD card slot and headphone jack on front for easy access

Cons

  • Included USB-C Cable is very short
  • Dock power adapter is very bulky

If you are the owner of a 12″ Retina MacBook, or a new MacBook Pro, the OWC USB-C Dock is a great option for extending the port(s) of your device to make it more versatile. Head over to MacSales.com to grab the configuration you need, or check out their new Thunderbolt 3 version for 2016 and 2017 MacBook Pro.

from Ian Fuchs – MacTrast

Interface: 57. How Much is Somebody Worth?

http://interface.fm/57

On the face of it, $10/month seems like a great deal for unlimited movie theater tickets. That is, until you realize that there is a hidden cost to seeing every new Marvel or DC movie to hit the cinema – incessant advertisements in your email promoting every new action figure, poster, video game, kids toy, or special Spiderman themed food item at Walmart. In reality, you are subsidizing your movie habits with personal information that advertisers are buying at a premium, just to get their marketing in front of your eyes.

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Interface: 56. Etsy for Things in Development (S2E02)

http://interface.fm/56

Ian pledged $50 to get a glorified selfie stick, but only half of it has been shipped. Chase spent $100 on a video game that may or may not actually be made one day. A combination of physical and phycological factors lead to successful campaigns on crowdfunding platforms, but sometimes even the most convincing sales pitches turn out to be much less impressive – so what makes people willing to hand over their money?

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