Silicon Theories – May Edition

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Another month – time for another edition of Silicon Theories.  I take a look at internet TV, rumors that Apple might have some new MacBook Pros on the way, and how our future might include devices other than computers doing some of our computing needs for us.  Let’s dive into the Silicon Theories – May Edition!

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YouTube TV updated its channel line up recently – what does our cord cutting future look like?

  • Users of the YouTube TV service received on email a few weeks ago indicating the service had been updated to include new channels, including IFC, AMC, and BBC America (among a few others) – for those looking to “cut the cord” from their cable company this was mostly good news.  There are still noticeable absences from the YouTube TV lineup, and some have pointed out a few flaws in the existing system.  While YouTube TV offers unlimited cloud based DVR recording (for a total of up to 9 months) but many have said that the recordings of newer programming isn’t actually a DVR recording, but what you might expect from an “on demand” show, which removes the ability to skip commercials (which is the point of a DVR recording, isn’t it?) In addition, the most notable absences include popular channels like TNT and popular kids programming like Nickelodeon and Nick Jr.  This means that many who might otherwise be tempted into picking up the service, avoid it.  And while I’ll admit I have the service and have used it, its only been on a limited basis because of the drawbacks noted above.  There is a world out there waiting for us; one that allows us to watch the shows we want to watch, in a non-linear fashion, just pick and choose what you want to watch, when you want to watch it.  This future is on hold, while companies like Google, Apple (with their Apple TV product), and Nvidia (with Shield TV) fight the good fight with local affiliates and large mega-media companies to get all the channels, all the programming, and all the shows we want to watch.  Nothing is perfect – but we’ll get there eventually.

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Rumors are that Apple will announce that its going to refresh its MacBook lineup at WWDC next week – is that an admission of failure on Apple’s part?

  • The answer here is not as simple as a “yes” or a “no.” While the new MacBook Pro line was both praised and roundly criticized by many, no one denies that it’s a staple of their computing line. Especially when the iMac and Mac Pro basically haven’t been updated for more years than the MacBook Air. Is the MacBook Pro without a touchbar an overpriced Air? Yes. Is the MBP with touchbar a better MacBook Pro with fewer ports and a neat new toy feature? Yes. Does that mean people aren’t buying it? The answer seems to be no. Apple doesn’t release sales figures in units for any-damn-thing, but in terms of raw dollars, Apple has been quite successful this quarter since the new MBPs were released. Did they need to get a product out for their “Pro” market before the new Kaby Lake processors were ready? Sure. Did they make some questionable to tech enthusiasts choices in its design by removing dedicated and useful ports? Absolutely. Has this stopped them from using their brand leverage to get folks to adopt the new MBP (with and without a touchbar)? Not at all. And while Apple has taken the unusual step of admitting they may have made design mistakes recently, I doubt that they in any way care of the reaction of those early adopters of the MacBook Pro as they potentially announce new and improved versions of these quite expensive products mere months after the previous generations release. As the folks over at TechnoBuffalo and I discussed, this is merely a case of #FirstButStillLast.

[Op-Ed]Rumored new Nexus program full of question marks and probably bad news for Verizon customers

What is ambient computing and why does it matter?

  • If you own or have heard of a Amazon Echo or Google Home product, than you have experienced ambient computing, whether you knew it or not.  This brave new world that allows us to simply wake up a device, ask it questions in natural language, and get a response is becoming very much more and more a normal part of our daily lives.  The future as portrayed by Star Trek was very much a world where you merely uttered the phrase “Computer” and this massive artificial intelligence would listen to your next phrase or question, and provided an answer from the sum total of collected human knowledge.  Pretty awesome right?  Well while space travel isn’t really in our immediate future, ambient computing in here and here to stay.  Both Amazon and Google announced recently they are adding the ability to make and receive phone calls from their respective devices.  Amazon is also introducing a new line of Echo products including the Echo Look and the Echo Show, the latter of which also allows for video calling as well.  All of these always listening devices are starting to get more and more ubiquitous and their access to information grows and grows.  Everyone is familiar with the way the world works now – every moment you spend awake is usually spent on your phone.  A new world order is coming…one that may involve “devolving” away from the phone to a device that doesn’t sit in your pocket…it sits in your kitchen, or on your coffee table instead.
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