Apple Pre-WWDC Announcements

Today, just a mere 4 days before their World Wide Developer Conference, Apple has made a couple of developer-related announcements. There are two specific areas, Developer Earnings and Swift Playgrounds.

Developer Earnings

When the iOS App Store opened in 2008, it was not clear just how popular the iOS App Store would be. To date, Developers have made $70 Billion. That’s about $7.77 Billion per year, over the last 9 years. There were a couple of tidbits to take from Apple’s announcement. The first is this:

Health and Fitness have experienced over 70 percent growth in the past year. The Photo and Video category is also among the fastest-growing at nearly 90 percent growth.

The second tidbit is:

…active paid subscriptions are up 58 percent year over year.

Each of these may give developers clues as to where they might want to put some effort, if they have ideas for applications in either Health and Fitness, or Photos and Video. If a developer has a product that might benefit from using subscriptions, it may prove to be worthwhile to utilize subscriptions. As an aside, if your users stay around for at least one year, the developer gets 85% of the subscription price, up from the initial 70%.

Swift Playgrounds

At WWDC 2016, Apple unveiled an iPad Only app, Swift Playgrounds. Swift Playgrounds is a self-contained development environment. Since its initial release, it has seen a couple of minor updates. However, today Apple has announced that version 1.5 of Swift Playgrounds is gaining some new features. One of the limitations of Swift Playgrounds is that it is software only, and you cannot interact with physical objects. With Swift Playgrounds 1.5, this is changing.

Swift Playgrounds 1.5 will allow the interaction with a number of physical items. As Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering states:

Now they can instantly see the code they create and directly control their favorite robots, drones and instruments through Swift Playgrounds. It’s an incredibly exciting and powerful way to learn.

The list of items that will be available include:

  • LEGO MINDSTORMS Education EV3
  • the Sphero SPRK+
  • Parrot Mambo, Airborne and Rolling Spider drones
  • UBTECH’s Jimu Robot MeeBot Kit
  • Dash by Wonder Workshop
  • Skoogmusic Skoog 2.0

The Swift Playgrounds update will be available on Monday, June 5th and will be a free update for all iPad users.

App Updates and Model Change

wwrite.logo

When one starts out creating an application, it is usually with the intent of keeping it up to date with all of the latest enhancements and changes that newer operating systems might bring. That was my intention with my apps, wwrite, wwrite – iPhone Edition, and wwriteFree. However, as many have experienced, life sometimes gets in the way.

History

Back in March of 2010, before the iPad was launched but after it was announced, I got an idea for an app for the iPad: a plain-text editor. The idea was to use the iPad for productivity; which seems to be well ahead of the curve. I submitted my app to the iOS App Store in early April 2010 and it has been on sale ever since.

I kept it up to date on a semi-regular basis after that. That was up until June of 2014. In June of 2014, right before the introduction of iOS 8, I updated wwrite and wwriteFree to be compatible with iOS 7. I did this because I knew I would be spending the summer writing two e-books, iOS 8 for Users and Developers, and OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion for Users, Administrators, and Developers, so I would not have a chance to do any updates on the apps.

Back on August 10th, 2014, I removed the iPhone version of my app, wwrite – iPhone Edition, from sale. The biggest reason for this was that it was a lot of work to update the application and not many people had purchased it. To be honest, besides the lack of sales, there is the Notes app, which is absolutely free and included on all iOS devices.

Fast Forward

Part of the reason for not getting updates was just a lack of motivation. I have been toying with doing an update for over a year. One would have been a complete re-write using Swift, but this was a bit too daunting. I must have started this at least four times, but it never got that far. It may be bad for a developer to say, but I do not use my own application that often. This is mostly due to how bad it looks like on a 12.9-inch iPad Pro. Regardless, I did still want to update it, I just needed to get the motivation and time. The final push for motivation was this exchange on Twitter.

In case you are unaware, James writes an application called PCalc. You should go and purchase PCalc as well as PCalc for tvOS.

So, a couple weeks ago I decided to really get down to updating my app. When I decided to update it, I knew I wanted to use be a Universal app (one that works on iPhone as well as iPad). The second thing I knew I wanted to do was make it work in Slide Over and Split Screen, just a James suggested. So that is what I have done.

wwrite 3.0.0 now supports full Split Screen and slide over. Here are the rest of the new features:

  • Now a Universal application, supports iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.
  • Supports Split View and Slide Over.
  • Keyboard Shortcuts for Save, New File, New File From Template, Help, Show/Hide file list, Do word count
  • Ability to import plain-text files from other applications using the “Share Sheet”.
  • Fixed word count miscalculation
  • Reworked Template Customization
  • Jump Directly to App Settings from “Tools” drop-down
  • Support for system Emoji within files.
  • Other “under the hood” changes to bring everything up to date.

Pricing Model

Since its initial release in April of 2010, wwrite has always been a paid application and this will continue to be the case. wwriteFree was designed to be ad-supported with Apple’s iAd platform. Since Apple discontinued their iAd platform, I have decided to change the way that the model for the two apps. wwrite will still be paid but it will have more up to date features. Whereas wwriteFree will stay free but will not always have the latest features. For instance, it does not support Slide Over nor does it support Split View.

wwriteFree has received a minor update to remove the advertising, and make it somewhat more up to date. Previously it required iOS 7, wwriteFree now requires iOS 9.

If you already have wwrite, it will be a free update. If you do not own, now is a good time to go and buy a copy.

Apple announces Debut of Carpool Karaoke

If you are on social media in anyway, or if you watch videos on YouTube, it is quite likely that you have seen an episode of “Carpool Karaoke”. In July 2016, Apple purchased the rights to the series from the “The Late Late Show with James Corden”. Carpool Karaoke will still be seen on “The Late Late Show with James Corden”.

There are some celebrity parings that will be shown. Some of these include: Will Smith and James Corden, Sophie Turner and Maisie Williams, John Legend, Alicia Keys and Taraji P. Henson, and even LeBron James and James Corden.

Apple has announced that it will be debuting on Tuesday, August 8th, exclusively to Apple Music subscribers.

Apple WWDC 2017 Predictions: macOS, tvOS, and watchOS

One of the hardest things to do is predict where Apple might take things in the future. However, that does not stop one from trying. Which is what I plan to do, regarding what Apple will announce at their annual World Wide Developer’s Conference on June 5th at 10 AM Pacific Time.

The Apple of 2017 is very different from the Apple of 1979. Apple today has a fair number of platforms: iOS, macOS, tvOS, and watchOS. Within each of these, there are numerous frameworks which allow developers to produce apps. Built to support these platforms are a variety of services. These services include iCloud, Apple Music, and the iTunes stores.

I am going to attempt to predict what Apple might announce at their World Wide Developer Conference Keynote on June 5th, 2017 at 10:00AM Pacific Time. Some of these items are logical changes while others are just what I hope Apple will announce.

This is the second of two posts that cover my predictions for what will be announced. This article covers macOS, tvOS, and watchOS. The first post covers iPhone and iPad.

macOS

macOS is a very mature operating system. The basic ideas of macOS have been in place since 1984 and many of the features that users have come to rely on have been added since 2001 when Mac OS X 10.0 Cheetah was released. With an operating system that is so mature, new features can be hard to come by. However, with a sibling operating system in iOS, macOS can get some new features from iOS.

Feature Parity

Back in 2011 with Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, Apple began having macOS and iOS have more features on both platforms. The biggest was the consistent naming on both platforms. I am well aware that you can only put so much engineering into an operating system every year. However, it would be nice to be able to get the same features on macOS at the same time as iOS. To be clear, there are some features that cannot be easily brought over from one operating system to the other. Additionally, there are always features that are not able to be moved over.

iMessage Apps

With iOS 10, Apple unveiled a new feature to iOS, iMessage Applications. These applications allowed for a variety of items all within the iMessage application. Some of these applications include stickers, full-blown applications, and even the ability to order food, and send money to others. One place where this is not possible is on macOS. Adding iMessage Apps to macOS would not be easy for developers, but it could be possible.

The ability to perform many, if not all, of the same functions on macOS would be very helpful for many users, as well as providing parity between iOS and macOS. With the new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, it is possible that any Touch ID-based applications to be available on macOS. I give the likelihood of iMessage Apps being added macOS at 95%.

macOS Server

macOS Server has remaining largely unchanged since 2011 when Mac OS X 10.7 Lion. One of the stalwarts macOS Server is the “Software Update” service. With macOS Sierra, Apple announced that the Software Update Service has been deprecated. What this means is that the service will no longer get any updates. Additionally, at some point in the future the service will be removed entirely. I give the possibility of Apple removing this at 85%. If it is not removed with this version, it will most certainly be removed with the version released next year.

watchOS

Even though watchOS has only been around since November of 2014, it has received vast improvements over the last two and half years. The most significant improvement was with watchOS 3, where both battery and speed improvements were recognized, even with the original Series 0 Apple Watch.

Initially the function of Apple Watch was haphazard. The Apple Watch attempted to be a miniaturized version of the iPhone; but ultimately that proved to be the wrong approach. Now a majority of individuals use the Apple Watch as a health-tracking device.

It’s hard to imagine what other improvements Apple could make. I think the most likely ones revolve around adding new health-related functions. Possibly more workout types. One feature that some have asked for is that there is an option to be able to keep the time on the watch face at all times. The ability to keep the time on the watch face all the time would be a direct

A kind of off-the-wall guess at a new feature is custom watch faces. These would be submitted via Xcode and would be submitted to the Apple Watch store. Submitting Apple Watch faces could work in the same manner as iMessage Stickers work now.

I give the likelihood of new workout types to be 70%. The probability of the watch face showing the current time all the time at 80%. I give the probability of third-party Apple Watch faces at 50%.

Health Data

With the biggest use of the Apple Watch being health-related. There are many who wish to be able to synchronize their health data between devices. I fully agree with this sentiment. Specifically, I would like to have the Health Data be synchronized between all of my devices, including macOS. The reason for this is that I may want to view my health data on other devices, besides my iPhone.

If Apple were to do this, it would possibly put user’s health data at risk. Health Data is doubtlessly the most personal information that is stored on an iOS device. If Apple were to do this, they would require it to be opt-in, and probably require two confirmations before allowing the synchronization to occur. Given this, the likelihood of it occurring is very low. I think it is about 10%.

There is one other thing that would be nice from the Apple Watch and Health data. I would like to see indications from the Health app when there are anomalies with heart rate. In particular, if my heart rate spikes while not in a workout, it may be something I want to know about. The health app could do a local notification to indicate that something may be amiss. A similar thing could be done for other types of health data as well. I give this a 25% chance of happening because it would be a logical next step for looking at health data.

tvOS

tvOS is the most nascent operating system that Apple has developed. With being the youngest, it is possible that tvOS has a lot of room to grow. The downside of this though, is that tvOS is a pretty focused product, given that it is aimed at the largest screen many people own, their TV. Despite using my Apple TV for almost all of my tv and movie consumption, there is not a whole lot of functionality that I can see being added. Despite this, there is definitely room for improvement.

The only change that I can see is not directly related to tvOS, but the content. It would be nice to see 4K TV Shows and Movies available for purchase via iTunes. The downside of this is that it would require a new Apple TV box, but not necessarily an entirely new version of tvOS. I do not necessarily see Apple doing this at WWDC, this is more of a consumer-oriented item. Given how much I do not think this will happen, I think the probability of this occurring at 5%.

TV App

With tvOS 10, Apple announced the release of a new application, TV. The TV app is designed to provide you with recommendation of what to watch next. This information comes from your iTunes Library as well as any third-party applications that allow integration. This is an area where Apple could greatly improve.

There has been some concern about the lack of expansion of the third-party integration of the TV App. What Apple could do is provide even better support for third-party services.

iTunes

On the subject of iTunes, there is one major thing that I would LOVE to see, but I do not know if it will occur; a revamped iTunes. iTunes has become such a behemoth of an application. iTunes original intent was as a syncing mechanism back when all of our media was locally on our computers. That was back in 2001. 16 years later times have changed and while a percentage of individuals still synchronize their music to their computers, that number is a very small percentage. It would be nice to see Apple completely re-think iTunes. One of the hinderances from this occurring is that iTunes is also on Windows. However, Apple could give macOS a boost by providing an even better experience and keeping iTunes on Windows the way it is now.

The biggest change would be to separate out the classic iPod syncing portion to its own application. This would still allow those individuals who need to synchronize their items to be able to do so. Meanwhile, the remaining functions, Music, Podcasts, Movies, TV Shows, iTunes U, and Apps could all become their own applications. This approach would allow each of these applications to be updated on their own schedule. Alongside this, each application could have a user-interface which matches the functionality of that application.

There are two aspects to this prediction. The first is that Apple will preview a refreshed iTunes. The second is that it will be released “in the fall” (meaning when the new iPhones are released). I give this a 10% chance of happening. It is a slim chance, but still a chance.

Let me recap what my predictions for what will be unveiled at Apple’s WWDC Keynote.

Possibility Recap
Change Likelihood
macOS iMessage apps 95%
macOS Server Software Update Service going away 85%
watchOS Face being on all the time 80%
New watchOS Workout Types 70%
Third-party Apple Watch Faces 50%
Notifications about health anomalies 25%
Synchronize Health Data 10%
iTunes Refresh 10%
4K Movies and TV in iTunes 5%

Final Thoughts

Each new version of macOS and iOS include a slew of new features. This is not only because new features generate buzz and excitement, but also because new features can spark new ideas from developers. When the occurs the entire eco-system benefits. Apple benefits by increased usage, developers can profit from the features, which Apple also benefits from. Finally users get some updated applications and new capabilities on their existing devices.

Having been an iOS user since the beginning, I have seen the feature set grow from a very limited set to a very feature-rich operating system. However, that does not mean it is near complete, quite the opposite. I have been using macOS full-time for a decade now, and while its feature set was largely in place, it still has a lot of room to grow as well, just in different areas.

I do not know if any of my predictions will actually come to fruition. I guess we will see what Apple does unveil at their WWDC Keynote on June 5th, 2017 at 10:00AM Pacific.

Apple WWDC 2017 Predictions: iPhone and iPad

One of the hardest things to do is predict where Apple might take things in the future. However, that does not stop one from trying. Which is what I plan to do, regarding what Apple will announce at their annual World Wide Developer’s Conference on June 5th at 10 AM Pacific Time.

The Apple of 2017 is very different from the Apple of 1979. Apple today has a fair number of platforms: iOS, macOS, tvOS, and watchOS. Within each of these, there are numerous frameworks which allow developers to produce apps. Built to support these platforms are a variety of services. These services include iCloud, Apple Music, and the iTunes stores.

I am going to attempt to predict what Apple might announce at their World Wide Developer Conference Keynote on June 5th, 2017 at 10:00AM Pacific Time. Some of these items are logical changes while others are just what I hope Apple will announce.

This is the first of two posts that cover my predictions for what will be announced. This article covers iPad and iPhone. There will be a second post next week that covers macOS, tvOS, and watchOS.

iPad

One of the areas where Apple needs to make some major improvements is with the iPad. While the iPad is no where near as popular as the iPhone, it is still a major part of Apple’s strategy. The iPad has seen some improvements over its seven year life, however any iPad-specific improvements have been lacking in the last few releases. In particular, improvements that would help the 12.9-inch iPad Pro.

The biggest improvement that could be made is around the way that multiple applications are handled. When you use multiple applications on the iPad Pro, you can swipe from the right side of the screen to bring up any compatible applications. However, there is no real order to the applications. This makes it quite difficult to be able to easily locate the application that you want to use in split view.

One possible solution to this issue is to reduce the size of the icons, and basically make it an alphabetical list with application names. This could be an option that is just at the top of the screen. My guess at the probability of this behavior changing is 100%.

Switching Applications

Switching applications on the iPad, particularly in split view is rather cumbersome. If you want to be able to switch the left and right applications, you have to perform the following steps:

  1. Expand the application on the right all the way to the left.
  2. Use slide over to bring up the list of possible applications.
  3. Locate the application that you wish to use (see above for issues wit this).
  4. Tap on the application that you wish to use in split view.
  5. Drag the right-side application to the size you wish to use it at.
  6. Tap on the divider button to put the application into split view.

This procedure takes six steps to be able to accomplish. What would make for a better user experience is to be able to easily swap the two applications. This could be accomplished by holding down on the divider between apps that are in split view. A popup could appear and would offer to swap the applications. I predict the possibility of this occurring at 75%.

App Groups

It is quite often that when you are using applications in split view, that you wish would automatically be grouped together. This could be applications like “Twitter” and “Slack”, or “Notes” and “TV”. However, this is not possible under iOS 10.

It would be nice to see this feature for iOS. This solution could be something akin to Spaces on macOS. With Spaces on macOS you are able to assign applications to a specific space, and the application will also show on that space. This means that you can assign applications that you want to group together to the same space. Given that it is iOS, there is likely a limit to the number of these “spaces” that could be configured. If Apple were to add this feature, it would go a long way for the “pro” users. I give the likelihood of this occurring is 50%.

Within Apple development, there is this idea of application groups. These “application groups” are ones that allow shared information between different applications from the same developer. That is not the type of application grouping that I am referring to.

Sharing Information Between Applications

One of the downsides of split screen on the iPad is that if you want to share information between the two applications that are currently on the screen. If it is simply text that you want to transfer, you can copy and paste. However, if there is an image that you want to send to the other application, you must use the share sheet.

It would be helpful if someone could easily drag and drop information from one application to another. This behavior is very prevalent in macOS applications. There are instances where the items that are dropped from one application to another result in garbage, but this is to be expected.

If Apple were to add this type of functionality, it would be a huge boon to the professional group of iPad users. Additionally, this would add some more functionality and provide more of a replacement for a wider range of users. I put the likelihood of this occurring at 25%.

Swift Playgrounds

When Swift Playgrounds was first introduced it was touted as a way to be able to test out applications and develop directly on the iPad, albeit in a limited manner. There may be some point in the future when you are able to fully develop applications on the iPad, however we are a ways off from that. I do think there will be one change to Swift Playgrounds; the ability to create Sticker Packs directly on the iPad.

Sticker Packs are available for iMessage and allow individuals to quickly create stickers and submit them to the store. There is absolutely no coding required to create a sticker pack. With the Apple Pencil and the iPad Pro, there is a large contingent of artists who would love to be able to create and publish their sticker packs directly from the iPad.

Right now, Xcode is required to be able to publish these sticker packs. However, if Apple updates Swift Playgrounds, or creates an entirely new application, it could allow even more sticker packs.

The update, or application, would only allow sticker packs, not more full-featured applications, so it could be possible to allow this to happen. I think the likelihood of this occurring is about 30%.

iPhone and iPad

There are many aspects to iOS that are shared amongst the iPhone and iPad. Whereas the iPhone was the first product released, it was not the first product to enter development, that was the iPad. When the iPad was released it was actually a different operating system. The features between the iPhone and iPad did not come together until iOS 4.3.

32-bit applications

One of the likeliest features of the next version of iOS are that 32-bit applications will no longer be supported. If this does come to pass, there are a couple of ramifications.

The first result is that there will be a couple of devices that will no longer be supported. Most notably, the iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, and the 4th generation iPad. This is not anything new, given that devices eventually do become end-of-lifed.

The second result is that any applications that are 32-bit only will no longer run. This means that applications that have not been updated will stop working. A majority of these apps are games, which could become problematic for some of your favorite games. I give the possibility of this occurring at 90%.

Naming

Last year’s release of iOS 10 and macOS 10.12 Sierra were both quite substantial. If there is any time that Apple would change from the “10.x” series of names, this would be it. Now is an excellent time for Apple to name the next macOS as macOS 11 [code name], and next years would be macOS 12 [code name], and keep the numbering going forward. This could allow for individuals to more easily know which versions of the operating systems work best together. While it is possible for newer versions of macOS to work with older versions of iOS, and newer iOS versions to work with older macOS versions, the operating systems work best when they are updated to matching versions.

Along side this, Apple could also start providing names to iOS versions. Ideally, these names would be the same. By doing this, users could more easily identify which version of each operating system that they are using and this would also allow users to easily know if they are running the same versions. This is merely an idea. I give this a 5% possibility. I also give the probability of iOS and macOS having the same version going forward as 5%.

Possibility Recap

Let me recap what my predictions for what will be unveiled at Apple’s WWDC Keynote.

Possibility Recap
Change Likelihood
Split View Changing 100%
32-bit Apps going away 90%
Fast split view app swapping 75%
Split View App Groups 50%
Sticker Pack creation from iPad Pro 30%
Drag and drop Data Transfer 25%

Final Thoughts

Each new version of macOS and iOS include a slew of new features. This is not only because new features generate buzz and excitement, but also because new features can spark new ideas from developers. When the occurs the entire eco-system benefits. Apple benefits by increased usage, developers can profit from the features, which Apple also benefits from. Finally users get some updated applications and new capabilities on their existing devices.

Having been an iOS user since the beginning, I have seen the feature set grow from a very limited set to a very feature-rich operating system. However, that does not mean it is near complete, quite the opposite. I have been using macOS full-time for a decade now, and while its feature set was largely in place, it still has a lot of room to grow as well, just in different areas.

I do not know if any of my predictions will actually come to fruition. I guess we will see what Apple does unveil at their WWDC Keynote on June 5th, 2017 at 10:00AM Pacific. Look for another article about macOS, tvOS, and watchOS coming soon.

Lucky Boys Confusion’s Stormchasers: A Review

I do not normally write reviews of music. This is for a couple of reasons. The first is that I do not listen to that much new music. The second is that I generally just end up adding single songs from albums. However, this is a different situation. I am going to review the new album by Lucky Boys Confusion Stormchasers

History of the Band

It is possible that you have heard the name “Lucky Boys Confusion”, also shortened to LBC, is likely a band you may have heard of before, but cannot place. The is because they had a single Hey Driver back in 2003 on their album Commitment. In fact, prior to Stormchasers, there were 8 previous albums.

The band hails from Naperville and Downer’s Grove, both of these are western suburbs of Chicago. The fact that some of the band went to the same school as I did, does not hurt. There is something that makes their latest album special; it is their first album since 2009.

The previous songs from the band have had a variety of styles. These range from pop, to rap, to ska, and even rock and roll.

If you listen to a lot of LBC’s songs, you will get a sense of what they are about. In the beginning of their career, a number of the songs revolved around two primary topics, “Life” and “Drugs”, specifically weed and alcohol. The latter is not covered as extensively as it has been in their past songs, but the former is absolutely a primary focus of the new album.

The Songs

Stormchasers consists of 12 all new songs. They range from “traditional LBC” styles to more contemporary topics.

Growing Up

Some of LBC’s older songs covered “growing up” and maturing. There are a couple of song on Stormchasers that elude to more maturing. The two songs that most exhibit this are “Sun In My Eyes”, and “White Collar”.

For “Sun in my Eyes”, the following line exemplifies this.

How did we go from being so high to being so shallow?

This song describes the mellowing aspects to life, but also tackles the clarification of realizations as one ages. This song seems to capture the essence of how many individuals feel about their life.

The sun in my eyes doesn't bother me like it used to
The gossip and lies, they don't shake my world like they used to
And I don't need no paradise
I don't need careless points of view

These lines all express how as we get older the things that used to seem like the biggest concerns, are no longer areas of concern.

White Collar is likely my favorite song from the album. It is one of the top songs that I have listened to from the album. As the title implies, “White Collar” goes on to describe experience as a White Collar worker, with a twist.

“White Collar” in particular describes how many feel about their job:

Aren't we all stressing out without any meaning?
Chasing goals, put to you without any feeling
Show up, get paid
Hold on to your breathe while you plan your escape
Show up, get paid

These previous lines directly sum up how some people feel about their job. I also think there may be a hidden meaning in this song, somewhat of a lament of what could have been. Which brings us to the next set of songs, ones that reflect on life experiences

LBC’s Experience

One of the the mainstays of LBC’s music is their experience with record companies. This is most prevalent in the title track of their 2003 album, “Commitment”. The “Commitment” song describes the limitation that record labels can put on artists. There are actually two spiritual successors to the song “Commitment” on this album. The first is “Name in Lights”, the second is “Good Luck”.

“Name in Lights” is what one might call a cautionary tale. What I mean by this is “Name in Lights” describes, what I surmise an experience that LBC went through when they became more mainstream and garnered national attention. The cautionary portion is most apparent in the line

I lost sight of the target
I got my name in lights

In this I think the band wants others to realize that while being a headliner is great, you can easily become distracted from the ultimate goal; playing and making music that the band and others enjoy. The advice within the song comes in the stanza:

Take ten shots at the half-moon
Remember not to fall in love
'Cause after the buzz, the chase kid
You'll get your name in lights

The song “Good Luck” is also a somewhat auto-biographical song about their experience with mainstream media. Most particularly the lines:

They skipped off to college
We got a van from a record company

This is exactly what happened to the band. While their peers were going off to college, the band went to California in a van from their Record Company in 2000. One of the other aspects to LBC songs is a somewhat “screw you” attitude. This is shown most appreciably in the lines:

Burned out they call us
Screw 'em, we got endless memories
Punk Rock and the polish
I hope it gave you something to believe

Even with the “screw you, I do not care what you think” attitude, there is still a bit of the “even though you are knocking us down, I still hope the songs meant something” feeling.

Songs about Life

There is one subject matter that prevails in LBC songs more than any other, “songs about life”. This is covered in three songs, the title track “Stormchaser”, “Burn a Little Brighter”, and “A Candle in the Window (Please Come Home)”.

Stormchaser is about two people, Johnny and Jamie. Both of these individuals are looking for a way to “feel alive”,

When nothing's beautiful
You just want to disappear

Instead of doing something that they may regret, they decide to do something that changes this and likely outside of their comfort zone. So “Johnny built a rocket ship”, and “Jamie had the nerve to quit”. I think both of these lean towards a moral of the song. That moral is sometimes you have to do something drastic to make everything better in the end. This is definitely shown in the lines:

Stormchasers and stars
Find out who you are
Thinking like this can make life dangerous
Thinking like this can make life dangerous
Thinking like this can take life

On the subject of life, “Burn a Little Brighter” is one that I cannot tell if it is based on an actual incident, or merely captures a feeling about the state of America.

The song is about someone reminiscing about their fondest memories about a fallen classmate. I suspect this from the following.

And the best times that I remember 
Sneaking out the fire escape
Playing "Never Surrender"
But I never forget the officer said, 
"That you didn't come home from school today"

What this song is really about is school violence. Whether this is the shootings that make it into the national news, or just violence that many experience every day, I do not know. What makes me think this is the quote above along with this one:

There's something circling here on our street
Everybody's got a taste for more
It's a re-run, it's no mystery
I've seen this one before

All the outpour and the outrage was a spectacle to find
The pretenders and grifters, yeah just left me so resigned 
Grandma saw this part of his jacket and said he'd want it to be mine
Now Chicago burns a little brighter
Yet tonight she burns a little brighter

If you take the quotes above and pair them with the following one, I think it paints the entire picture.

It was later on the corner
The whole gang was getting high
And when we talked about it, everyone had alibis
Grandma always said there are different ways to say goodbye
Now Chicago burns a little brighter
I clench my fists a little tighter

This is only my interpretation of the song, but I think it is a plausible one. Regardless of what the actual meaning is, “Burn a little brighter” is a powerful song that can hit you on many levels.

The last song on the album is “A Candle in the Window (Please Come Home)”. This song is a song about a woman whose husband is off to war. She is remembering all of the good times when he was at home. This is captured in these lines:

Days flew by when you were with me
Now missing you almost hurts
Until the siren sound
And feelings disperse

The song emphasizes that it will end at some point and to take solace in the dawn of a new day.

Sunrise don't cry
Listen to the birds they sing that everything's all right
He'll be home again to hold you
He'll be home again to hold you tight

The war is over
Finally we can sleep
The war is over
Finally we can sleep

There could be another interoperation of this song. “A Candle in the Window (Please Come Home)” may not be about an actual war, but could be about an internal war, or struggle, about losing a loved one, whether that is due to death or just due do a breakup. It is also possible that the song fits both interpretations.

Final Thoughts

If you are a fan of previous Lucky Boys Confusion music, then Stormchasers will not disappoint. It is a whole new set of brand new songs. While everyone will have their own personal favorites, there are absolutely songs for everyone on the album. Stormchasers mixes what fans have come to expect from Lucky Boys Confusion, but also takes it all to a whole new level.

While I do not want to wait another eight years for a new album, I think the time has allowed the band to really hone its skill and create one of the best, if not the best, album they have done to date.

In the intervening eight years since their last release, technology has changed significantly. Most notably, the modern era of streaming. Even though streaming has become the norm I purchased the album. I did this not only to support the band, but also because I knew I would likely end up listening to the album many times. I recommend that everyone go and give it a listen today. I think you will be glad that you did.

Technology Disasters

No matter how hard we try, we cannot stop all technology issues from occurring. We have all had our share of technology disasters. Through the years, I have had my own share. I have managed to lock myself out of countless computers, and I have even managed to delete some important files, this last one we have probably all experienced from time to time. One of the things that I do is take care of my devices. I cannot say that I am perfect with my gadgets I have had my share of issues.

I have managed to ding a couple of devices, most notably my original iPad, a cracked iPhone screen, and a scratch on a Series 0 Apple Watch. There is one product where I have had worse luck than others: the iPod nano. Besides experiencing the scratched front of the first iPod nano, I have managed to One of the other things that I have managed to do is lose an iPod. This was also an iPod Nano. Maybe I just have bad luck with iPod Nano. I have yet another story to add to the already existing list.

The Ordeal

So last Wednesday, just after 9 a.m. I went and used the restroom. After I was done and the toilet was flushing, I leaned over and I managed to lean over just a bit too far, and my AirPods fell out of my shirt pocket and straight into the toilet. Yes, you read that correctly. And before you think anything, the water was clean.

At first, as with most other times when something similar happens, you go “Wait, really?”, and I quickly tried to grab them out of the toilet. Unfortunately, I was unsuccessful. If I would have been at home, I might have had a chance, but since I was at work, there was no hope due to the increased water flow. After realizing that what I hoped did not happen, actually did happen, I washed my hands, and went back to my desk.

If a single AirPod had dropped down a sewer or elsewhere I could have contacted AppleCare and paid for a replacement, or if I was able to reach it, I could have used a magnetic screwdriver or other magnetic tool to grab the AirPod, sadly that was not the case.

I already knew that getting a new pair of AirPods would not be very likely given that Apple’s own shipping stated a 6 week order time. I had resigned myself to not being able to get a new pair anytime soon. I went looking on all sorts of websites to see if I could find any in stock, or relatively in-stock soon. This included the usuals: Amazon and Best Buy. Then I thought about it for a minute and realized that there was a site, Is In Stock and I looked there. As suspected, they said “Notify When Available”.

I took a chance and looked at each of the sites listed. All of the sites either said “Not Available”, or “add to cart” with delivery at a future date. I took a chance and ordered from one of the sites. An hour or so after I ordered, I contacted their chat help to see if they had any in stock. Lo and Behold, they did infect have “an stock”. I take it that either the chat representative mistyped or English is not their first language. At this point, I was pretty confident that I would be getting my replacement AirPods this week. Luckily, they actually arrived on Saturday, so I now have another pair of AirPods. Even though I only spent a few days without them, I do have a few observations about having to return to using the wired EarPods.

Observations

During my few days having to return to using wired headphones. First off, wires are evil. They get tangled too easily in things, they are a hassle, and without an adapter, you can’t charge and listen at the same time.

Of course, the EarPods do have some benefits, most notably that you can continue listen if you take an EarPod out, however, I have become accustom to it stopping when I remove an AirPod, so this behavior was a bit different to have to return to.

Having my Beats Solo 3 as a backup came in very handy. While the AirPods are very convenient, the bigger battery of the Beats Solo 3 Wireless allows them to to last for a quite a while. If I had not had them, I would have likely run home during my lunch and retrieved a pair of wired EarPods.

Once you become accustom to the AirPods, it is difficult to go back to using wired headphones.

Final Thoughts

I fully realize that me losing my AirPods is 1) entirely my own fault, 2) a “First World Problem”. I will not deny either of them in the slightest. Strangely, I had the AirPods for exactly 120 days, this came out to about $1.33 per day. Was it worth the price, yes. However, I do wish the cost per day would have been amortized over the course of a couple of years, not 120 days.

I am glad that I was able to get another pair so quickly, otherwise it would have been tough to deal without them. Even in the short time that I have had them, I have come to rely on them. One thing that I will no longer be doing is putting AirPods in my shirt pocket. Instead, they will go in my side pocket or I will leave them somewhere else. If you are interested in the AirPods, now is the time to order them since it may take up to six weeks to arrive.

Recent Changes for Apple Developers

While it is possible that Apple makes changes for developers outside of their World Wide Developer Conference, it does happen. Apple has made a few changes over the past two weeks that directly affect developers. These revolve around TestFlight, Search Ads, and Photos.

Test Flight Changes

Test Flight was acquired by Apple in February of 2014. Prior to purchase, Test Flight was capable of testing both iOS and Android applications. To no one’s surprise, Apple quickly removed support for Android. As of February 2015, Test Flight, in its standalone capacity, was shutdown. Since then, Apple has slowly added some new features, but they have been modest. The most recent changes expand the service’s capabilities.

One of the downsides that many developers have brought forth include the limitation of only allowing one build to be available to testers. While this approach may work well for testers outside of a company, inside the company it is often more beneficial to be able to test more than one build at a time. Test Flight now supports multiple builds, for both internal and external testers. When this is enabled, testers will be presented with multiple builds. The testers will need to choose which build to test, but the option is now available.

The second change for Test Flight revolves around testers, specifically grouping testers. As mentioned above, there are often times when a developer would like to be able to test multiple features. With the new multiple builds option, it is possible to test multiple builds, however each user who wants to test a specific build would need to be manually selected each time that a new build is to go live. This is no longer the case. Test Flight now supports grouping testers.

The grouping of testers now means that when there is a new build of an application, the developer can simply assign that build to a specific group. This streamlines the process that developers must go through when they wish to submit a specific build to a set of users.

The primary function of Test Flight is to allow developing of an application. Once an application has gone through the testing phase, the final step is to release the build into the App Store. When this step occurs, the test build that was running no longer runs. This behavior has changed. Now, when an application that was being used with Test Flight goes live in the App Store, the Test Flight build can continue to be used. The primary benefit of this change means that there should now be minimal interruption when an application goes live.

These are all of the changes that have been made to Test Flight, but these are not on the only changes that have been made. Next let us look at Search Ads.

Search Ads

Search Ads were introduced last June, the week before Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference. Search Ads are advertisements that developers can purchase and appear within the App Store application. At their launch, Search Ads was available only in the United States. As of Tuesday, April 25th, Search Ads will be available in a few more countries. These countries are the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand.

While the number of countries that are included is still small, being able to work out the bugs in the system, before doing a wider roll out makes sense. It is entirely possible that this is Apple’s strategy. Alongside this, different countries will possible require different layouts given the difference in character types, as well as widths. This is a good start for future expansion.

Live Photos

At their September 2015 event for the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, Apple introduced a new feature, Live Photos. Live Photos are photos that allow motion. In reality, these are quick movies that have some photos on each end of the movie. One of the issues with Live Photos is that they do not work on anything other than iOS and macOS. This is no longer the case. Apple has released a new Javascript Framework, LivePhotoKitJS. This framework allows any website to be able to load and play Live Photos.

What this ultimately means that sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram can all display any Live Photos that have been taken to other users. Once these sites do add this ability, it will go a long way to do making Live Photos available for everyone. Besides having big developers implement the feature, this is a way for other non-Apple developers to be able to display Live Photos within their applications as well.

If you go to developer.apple.com/live-photos/ you can see an example of the Live Photos Javascript framework in action. Apple has used it on their own website to show off a couple of Live Photos. Full documentation is also available at developer.apple.com.

Final Thoughts

While these changes only affect developers directly, there will be some smaller benefits to all users. With the Test Flight changes, this means that developers can focus on more than just one feature or update at the same time. With Search Ads, more developers will be able to get their applications in front of more users. With Live Photos Framework, the richness of the web has been expanded to allow an even better experience for everyone.