Angry Robot

Lyrebird

Copy anyone’s voice based on a one-minute sample.
No, this tech won’t lead to huge problems at all!

Is It Time to Break Up Google?

Are tech giants like Google and Facebook monopolies?

So how do we feel about flying cars?

They’re happening, for rich people.

All these years after the Jetsons went off the air, we’re right on the verge of having access to robots that drive and fly us around while we sit and play Scrabble on our phones.

Even if somebody can give you a reasonable-sounding explanation [for his or her actions], it probably is incomplete, and the same could very well be true for AI. It might just be part of the nature of intelligence that only part of it is exposed to rational explanation. Some of it is just instinctual, or subconscious, or inscrutable.

The iPad These Days

So the iPad has issues. After exploding out of the gate in 2010, with sales growth greater even than the iPhone, sales have decreased over the past few years, as Horace Dediu discusses in iPad Optics:

The iPad is considered to be failing, with a presumption of an end of life in the near future. The evidence of this failure the year-on-year decline in units sold… The iPad decline is paired with a steady increase in the Mac. The iPad exhibits a four year decrease in overall volumes. This has, as they say, bad optics.

Neil Cybart notes:

A quick look at overall iPad sales reveals an ominous trend. Sales have declined for 12 consecutive quarters. After topping out 74M units in 1Q14, the annualized iPad sales rate has declined by 42% to 43M units.

Yeowch! Except it’s not all gloom. As Dediu notes,

the iPad is still a much loved and much used product. … Tablet ownership among US adults increased from 45% in April 2015 to 48% in April 2016 and 51% in November 2016. The rise has been steady. Although this counts tablets, the iPad had 85% share of the U.S. market for tablets priced above $200 so it’s a fair assumption that the iPad audience is growing.

Furthermore, iPads are still growing in “non-consuming” markets. iPad posted double-digit growth in both Mainland China and India, it continues to attract a very high percentage of first-time tablet buyers.

His explanation for the odd numbers is that “iPads remain in use far longer than phones, and perhaps even longer than some computers.”

Interestingly, Cybart blames iPad’s troubles on something else: its little brother.

People aren’t buying as many iPad mini devices these days. Excluding 7.9-inch iPad mini sales from overall iPad sales results in a completely different sales picture… iPad mini unit sales have declined 70% after peaking in 4Q13 and 1Q14. The product’s value proposition has been permanently reduced due to larger iPhones. Apple has clearly experienced Peak iPad Mini.

Whatever the reasons for the “bad optics” are, Apple is suddenly pushing iPad really hard, as Cybart notes. And they’re pushing it in two different directions, as indicated by the two main model lines. The Pro is more expensive than a normal iPad and has added hardware features, mainly the pencil and the keyboard. The iPad Pros are the subject of a new ad campaign, which Apple is clearly targeting at people who want a PC replacement.

Going the other direction, the regular ol’ iPad has just been refreshed. The biggest change is that they dropped the starting price to $329 US. That’s a big deal! The cheap new iPad will compete with Chromebooks in education, it will entice owners of ancient iPads, and it has at least a chance of competing against cheap Android tabs.

There’s a lot interesting about Apple’s strategy on both fronts: they think iPads are their best chance in education, and they think iPads are their best chance at switchers. It wasn’t so long ago it was to the Mac they were encouraging PC users to switch. We’ve known for some time that the iPad was Apple’s “vision for the future of personal computing”. But its latest moves indicate it’s their vision for the present.

Sony’s giant, $700 e-paper tablet is a great example of Weird Sony

U of T professor Geoffrey Hinton hailed as guru of new computing era

O.G. Neural Net Gangsta

Mastodon Is Like Twitter Without Nazis, So Why Are We Not Using It?

Because your friends aren’t there. Same problem with almost every attempt to out-twitter twitter

Rogue One’s best visual effects happened while the camera was rolling

Some really interesting techniques here

Mastodon.social is an open-source Twitter competitor

Come, warm your hands by the burning carcass of app.net. (Sorry, was that cynical? I do hope it works but I think it’s not quite ready for its Verge article)

How Uber Uses Psychological Tricks to Push Its Drivers’ Buttons

I never wanted to be an Uber driver, but now I really don’t want to be an Uber driver.

Daring Fireball: The Mac Pro Lives

Meet the Artist Using Ritual Magic to Trap Self-Driving Cars

Apple’s Next Big Thing: Augmented Reality

This does not surprise me. It can be rolled out to iPhones earlier and then the glasses would come later. The watch could also be cool for AR – if there was a camera on the buckle I guess.

Spammy Google Home spouts audio ads without warning – now throw yours in the trash • The Register

Never before have we witnessed a technology giant destroy a product with such precision-engineered idiocy. Don’t be evil? Do us a favor.

Vibrator maker ordered to pay out C$4m for tracking users’ sexual activity

The Timing, Source, and What’s Missing: WikiLeaks’ CIA Cyber Arsenal Dump Explained

Fascinating:

There are no names of either individuals or organizations mentioned in the documents. WikiLeaks claims to have made 70,875 redactions in the “Vault 7” files. This is an amazing number, which raises two related questions. First, Assange has always been against redactions, often quarrelling with news organizations that have partnered with WikiLeaks in the past over their insistence on protecting the identities of individuals. What made him change his policy? Also, by all accounts, including Assange’s, WikiLeaks has limited resources and very few employees, certainly nowhere near enough to carry out 70,875 redactions – if that figure is even accurate. All this indicates that either the source (and in this case it wouldn’t have been one former disgruntled government employee) or some other well-funded organization, probably an intelligence agency, have been working on these documents for quite some time.

Porsche Design’s Book One is a beautiful alternative to the Surface Book

Hey, a Porsche convertible! Seems pretty cool, but these things are much better laptops than tablets. As a tablet it’s either super heavy, if you keep the keyboard attached, or it only gets 3 hrs battery, and either way it’s way bulkier than an iPad.

YouTube, the world’s biggest video site, wants to sell you TV for $35 a month

Includes main US broadcast networks plus the cable channels they own, so Fox News, ESPN and Bravo, but no CNN, AMC, HBO. Also includes “A cloud DVR with unlimited storage space”.

Looks like SkyNet fused a car engine to a baby stroller and gave it the angry spirit of a traumatized panther

Apple Vowed To Revolutionize Television. An Inside Look at Why It Hasn’t

AppleTV definitely needs help. A lot of potential, but not much happening on it right now to justify the price tag

Trump advisers’ space plan: To moon, Mars and beyond

No wonder Musk is so cozy with Trump

How Sonos will take on Alexa and Google: by integrating them

They want you to be able to use your Sonos with multiple, competing voice assistant services. That would be good!

Hotel ransomed by hackers as guests locked in rooms

US solar power employs more people than oil, coal and gas combined, report shows