Thursday, August 19, 2021

Would You Use Apple Search?

 Source: Barron's Via Apple News.

My primary search engine is DuckDuckGo.  The second is Google.  I think that would be the same answer for most privacy conscious mobile warriors.  And with Apple playing a role in search, albeit a limited one with glacial pace of improvement, could Apple one day be a part of that conversation?  

First, let's get this out of the day. Apple's search engine it is today is very limited in scope and it is not what I would called very good.  Decent?  At times.  Other times, it leave much to be desired.  Spolight on my Mac is fine but there are times I searched the same term and get different results or none at all.  On the iPhone or iPad, it is even worse even when I'm looking for apps.  It is as if search on the iOS and iPadOS took a step backward.  Where Apple search is beginning to shine is in the App Store and even that has its own critics.

Still, it goes without saying that should Apple decide to get into the search business, many people would instantly change the default search engine over the Apple's.  Let's call it Spotlight for the purpose of this article.  Many people will search from others like Google over to Spotlight because of Apple's stance on privacy. Even DuckDuckGo users might give it a try just out of curiosity and want to see just how good Apple's own search AI and algorithms are compared to others.  

For users to abandon what they are used to and use Spotlight would mean that Apple has to come really close to what Google offers, which means it has to be better than what DuckDuckGo offers, which is good enough for vast majority of searches.  The only time I go to Google at all is if I am looking to see if Google offers other search results that DuckDuckGo missed. 

There have been rumors for years about an Apple search endeavor.  Every once in a while, things flare up and people think that Apple is working on search.  Well, it so happens that Apple has been working on improving Spotlight for years now.  People even find evidence of Apple's own crawlers on the Internet which they believe is evidence that Apple is quickly building something in the search market that would allow Apple to serve ads from searches.

It's interesting that Barron's believe that Apple has a lot of growing room in terms of ad revenue.  Let's face it right now - Apple's ad business will never come close to Google's own ad business in terms of ads served or revenue generated.  Or even the $25 billion that the article mentioned Amazon has. Apple's ads come from ads in the App Store while Amazon's ads are broader in scope.  

Still, it is an intriguing. If Apple does not go after the broad search or ad market, it is leaving a lot of money on the table. Barron's stated that Apple's ad revenue comes mostly from the App Store.  Beyond that, there is not a lot of room for Apple to grow the ad revenue if it does not get into search.

For Apple to get into search, it would need to offer the same privacy that DuckDuckGo offers its users while provide Google level ad placement.  That cannot be a simple task.  But Apple likely can be up to the challenge if it puts a lot of effort into it. 

Privacy and accuracy is the bottom line.  Should Apple able to achieve both with its own search engine, it has the potential of achieving decent size of the search market with an outsize share of the ad market.

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Breakdown of Apple Rumors: Love Them But Trust Lacking

Rumors are a double or even triple edge sword. I do not traffic in rumors about Apple unless I am very sure a product, service, or announcement is very certain.  While, I enjoy reading about them on a near daily basis, they are mostly just that, rumors.  A lot of rumors and supposed leaks, well, they are wishful thinkings by fans, misinterpretations of the facts on the grounds, and misrepresentations of Apple’s and its competitors’ intentions.  

Rumors are not just for fans.  The effects of rumors and leaks are wide and impact buying decisions, development decisions, and, of course, financial matters as well.  If you are the CEO of a competing company and you just read that Apple is about the change up its iPhone lineup with a new feature, it would impact your own development to a certain extent.  And with Apple moving slowly into additional markets, anything about Apple on fan sites or Twitter is going to make waves in the media, boardrooms, and R&D labs.

When Apple’s own TV streaming plans started to become more concrete, its pricing had a great impact on a lot of its competitors who also happen to be partners in the iTunes Store.  At $5 a month, it was impactful even if Apple has yet to enter the market.  It likely had an effect on pricing of competing services, development budgets for content, and deals studios throughout Hollywood were making given Apple's very, very deep pocket.

Then there are the hardware developments that form the backbone of Apple - iPhones, iPads, and computers.  Apple’s M1 chip and shift away from Intel had been rumors for years and it finally happened in 2020 with M1 MacBooks and Mac mini.  For years, competitors both in the smartphone market and chip markets know what Apple is capable of and likely have had time to come up with their own answers. And yet, when Apple finally made the move, it seemed that much of the industries were caught off guard. Since the witnessing the speed and efficiency of the M1 in real world operations and rumors of the next generation M chips from Apple has now spurred a new urgent at Qualcomm, Samsung, AMD, and Intel. The urgency has increased given rumored upgrades that apple has planned.  

Now, there are different types of Apple rumors.  If you're new to this, please bare with me.  It's worth the read.  There are rumors and then there are "rumors":

  • Leaks.  Leaks happen because someone at Apple who is mostly very excited about what Apple is working on and can't help themselves and want to share it with the work.  These types of leaks go out to journalists, highly regarded Twitter users or bloggers.  

Then there are leaks from the floor.  By floor, I mean from the factories themselves, specifically, factories where Apple products are being produced.  I don't know how much these workers make but I figure it's very labor that is intensive and repetitive.  In other words, mind numbing.  So, maybe one of these workers will sneak out plans or even a mold of an unreleased iPhone and sell them to journalists or factories that might need to use these molds to make cases and it gets leaked onto Weibo (this is China's heavily monitored social network) or Twitter.  As far as reliability, surprisingly, it is very high in recent memories.  In the past, it was very spotty.

  • Sources inside Apple.  Apple plays the rumors game as well.  From time to time, a newspaper like the Wall Street Journal will have a private chat with someone at Apple.  The messages are very well crafted. Apple has a message to get across and it is almost never about an unreleased product.  Apple might wish to convey where the company is headed or wish to test the water and gauge the public's reaction.  As far as reliability, the source is Apple itself.  It shows what Apple's thinking for what it is worth.
  • Journalists with connections.  Journalists in Asia with sources at various companies that either produce and manufacture components for Apple could get a peak at the latest component that Apple is likely to use.  Again, these are Asian sources providing information to Asian publications.  So, you would think they're very accurate.  Personally, I would not put any money on them.  For whatever reason, they may have certain facts about what these companies are doing but their interpretations of the facts are questionable. 
  • Wishful thinking.  That's me here.  Fans who want to see Apple make something or add a feature to the iPhone or iPad.  And to this day, you know that it's what I want from Apple.  I have never dressed this up as something other than that.  Others have turned these wishful thinking into "rumors".  So, it is very unreliable.  Why do that?  I have no idea.  Maybe it's clickbait.  Maybe it's "if I call it a rumor, it might actually happen".  There are not as many of this type of rumor as before.  You still see it pop up once in a while.  I think the reason is that Apple news sites or blogs are a lot more mature than it was like ten years ago.  Furthermore, Apple products on the market are very mature and there is really little room left for "wishful thinking" features.  

There are two major unreleased Apple products where rumors that we read about border on wishing thinking.  One is the rumored Apple Car.  It does seem like Apple is closer than ever to producing a car with an established auto company but Apple can still pull back and release something on a much smaller scale.  Until Apple rolls out a car during an event, everything is highly speculative.

The other is augmented reality glasses.  There is something to this rumor since Tim Cook himself has mentioned how Apple believe this is the next big thing and the iPhone cameras already play a big role.  Rumors about Apple Glasses are mostly speculations from what Apple actually want to do with it to whether the glasses are really goggles.

  • Analysts.  There is no shortage of analysts from financial companies that cover Apple.  There are cheerleader types.  To them, Apple can do no wrong. These analysts are paid a lot of money but I am unwilling to gauge my Apple product buying timeline on what they say.  A lot of time, they try to provide support Apple's stock prices by suggesting where Apple can continue to expand and make money.  They like talking about Apple's car plan (I am willing to bet they know squat about it) and iPhone upgrade super cycles.

There are a couple of analysts who have good track records with "check" in Asia about Apple's dealing.  You can corroborate their rumors with those from bloggers. If they both agree, then the rumors generally are accurate. 

  • Time-based rumors. Articles that dealt in rumors about Apple events start to get posted at around the same time every year.  Apple's spring event (Apple sometimes skip it), the World Wide Developer Conference in June, and Apple's iPhone and/or Mac event in September.  These articles will speculate when Apple will hold the event.  This is sometimes confirmed for debunked by bloggers.  Accurate?  Sure. Sometimes, Apple has more than one event in the fall for products they want to refresh for the Holidays.  If Apple releases only the iPhone along with say the Mac but not the iPad, then rumors will start to fly that Apple will plan another late October or early November event to introduce the iPad.  Other than the iPhone that is released like clockwork, other products like the Apple TV, Macs, or iPads are released when Apple is ready.  
Apple fans can look to all the sources above for their fill of Apple news.  And by news, I mean rumors or speculations.  There is a little of everything for everyone - Wall Street guys, mobile warriors, and dedicated Apple fans.  The thing is that these rumors are fun to read about but I would not based my purchases based on a rumor I read.  Other than that I can get my hands on a shiny new iPhone late September every year, if I need a new MacBook or iPad now, I need to go into the Apple store or Apple's website to make my purchase even if there is a rumor suggest something new will are out in two months.  I simply cannot wait two months when I need to use it now.

Apple tidbits, news, and rumors is an industry all its own.  It's fun, informative, and a time killer.  I visit Apple blog sites on a daily basis.  Older now, I do not consume as much rumors as I used to.  But when I do, it's very exciting.  So, I hope this breakdown of Apple rumors help new readers.  

Note:  I've avoided mentioning specific bloggers, publications, or sources where I read Apple rumors. Like I said above, I enjoy reading them but I do want to help spread them.  

Saturday, August 7, 2021

Apple Watch - Difference Between Some of the Indoor Works

I like to move around while I'm at home watching television after dinner.  Work is back in the office 100% now and while I am trying to establish a workout routine in the morning, that is still a work in progress.  I do variety of workouts about an hour after dinner as I binge on Netflix or rewatch one of my favorite science fiction shows (comfort shows).  With the Apple Watch, it offers a lot more workout options than when it first started but there is not way for Apple to provide every kind of exercise. So, I set out to find out which of the workouts would suit my calories counts so I can reach my daily goals.

One of the workout I like to do is the wacky jumps.  It is a lot like jumping jacks but different body movements and I feel it offers a good set of motions for what I want to achieve - essentially toning my body and my stomach muscles.  And it is good cardio that gets my heart pumping and some sweat.

There is no wacky jump workout option and while there is a jumping roping workout, I thought I give other options a try and see how close they monitor my calories burns - indoor walk, elliptical, and other.  

3-Minutes

Trial 1

Trial 2

Trial 3

Average

Other

25

24

22

24

Elliptical

25

25

25

25

Jump Rope

22

22

23

22

Indoor Walk

28

28

28

28


Prior to really looking at these workouts to see which gives me the most accurate workouts, I typically set my workout for Other workout.  It looks like I made the right choice even though elliptical and jump rope workouts would do as well even though the JR workout is a bit stingy with its calories count.  Going forward, I'll switch from Other to the JR workout because I like to be conservative and not get credit for my workout that I should not get.

As for the indoor walk workout, I'm surprised by the high calories count. 


I believe the Indoor workout gave me credit for 28 calories burnt has to do with the pace that the Apple Watch recorded for me.  On a typical outdoor walk, my pace is at a leisurely 3.5 miles per hour, which works out to roughly 18.75 minutes per mile.  My walks do not come close to my running pace even on my best days.  So it makes sense that I will definitely not use the Indoor workout option ever again.

Another note is the Total Calories count recorded by the watch.  All the four workouts provided with me total calories count and, without fail, 5 calories more than my active calories count.  I'm still a bit fuzzy what it is. And more so, why it is even provided as a result of the workout?  I read that total calories metric includes calories your body burns while you're sitting and breathing, basically, from body functions that is keeping you alive.

So, I hope this helps. I have read others asking about the different workouts and what workout can be substitute for another.  In my case, the jump rope workout seems to work for me.  I can imagine Apple putting test subjects in laboratories through thousands of hours of roping jumping to get it right.  For workout that do not offer similar movements, your best bet is the other workout.


Sunday, August 1, 2021

M1 On the iPad Pro and Mac - Not Ideal For Cryto Mining. Yet

Source: CryptoAge.

Ever thought about using your brand now MacBook or Mac mini to earn a few extra bucks by using them to mine some cryptocurrencies?  For now, you can forget about it.  Leave that to crypto farms or others who have the know-how.  In fact, it's very likely that mining crypto is not on Apple's mind when it designs  future chips for the Mac or iPads.  The reason is that it has been tried and the M1 was only able to earn fourteen cents a day - that roughly comes out to $51.10 a year.  That will get you a medium latte a month for a year.

To be fair, the M1 was not created for any intensive mining in mind.  It was created to run MacOS and iPadOS efficiently and with as little power as possible.  In terms of efficiency, Apple first laptop chip has ran rings around offerings from AMD and Intel.  For crypto mining, it takes a different type of computing on all its own. Graphic processing units specializes in mathematical computing that does rendering faster than regular computer chips.  And it is why miners buy GPU, specifically mining ones, for just this reason.  Right now, Apple's M1 while very competent in the rendering department, it cannot hold a candle to these speciality chips.  (More from CryptoCoinSociety).

Will Apple's chip one day rival discrete GPU?  Speaking for Apple fans, one would hope so or want to see Apple offer something close that can rival offerings from the likes of AMD and Nvidia but that is likely years away.  

One might wonder why regular computer chips do not just ship the superior computational capability that GPU offers?  CPU is redesigned for operating the computer and it makes no sense to have the kind of power a dedicated graphics card needs.  

If one considers getting a Mac mini with a M1 chip, the cheapest Mac Mini out there, it might earn about 14 cents a day while some other CPU can earn up to thirty-seven cents. Dedicated GPU can earn up to $1.37 a day.  Plus, a mining rig can be created with multiple GPU, something that cannot be done with Macs.  

Will Apple release a chip that will one day be as fast as discrete GPU that can also be used for mining? Apple is sure going to try but it will do it for this reason.  Should Apple be able to do that or even surpass its competitors in this department, it might joke about it during its unveiling but it will not be marketing the chips to crypto miners.  They are not Apple's market and never will be. Apple's Macs are regular users to office workers to professionals.  

And if anyone in this market wants to use their Mac for mining while plugged into a solar array that can provide free power and can rig a bunch of inexpensive Mac mini together, hey, who knows, right?

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