Apple Buys Dark Sky and Drops Android



In very unwelcome news, Dark Sky has sold out to Apple, with the Android and Wear OS apps closing down on 1st July. As far as I’m concerned Dark Sky is the best hyper-local weather app: if I get a notification it’s going to rain in 5 minutes, it’s going to rain in 5 minutes. It is (was) perfect for checking whether to take an umbrella on a stroll.

I’m delighted for the team at Dark Sky – I’m sure they’ve made a few bob – but I’m disappointed by the sheer pettiness of Apple in dropping the Android version so quickly. Undoubtedly other products have been bought by major tech firms only to be later closed down (Microsoft has strong credentials here – Sunrise Calendar and Newton Mail come to mind) – but it’s Apple who loves the platform lock-in.

Apple might make luxury hardware and have a great range of apps, but the lock-in is shocking. My jaw dropped when I recently realised you can’t set a default browser or email app. Seriously? This is the kind of stuff that got Microsoft in trouble back in 2007. Google might discourage the downloading of apps from sources other than the Play Store, but you can do it. Can you do that on an iPhone and or iPad? Nope, not at all – only Apple-approved apps are allowed on your iDevice.

Apple’s created a gilded prison and I’m not doing time. Goodbye Dark Sky – the subscriptions been cancelled already.


Your Calls #1434



As a reminder, you can participate in the show at the conclusion of the podcast. You will kinda laugh tonight as I had a guest muted for about 2 minutes. But we discuss the challenges of working from home. Join me live at 7:30 pm Eastern on Thursday.

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OnePlus 8 Series Launches 14 April



In news that’s unlikely to shock anyone, OnePlus has announced that their 8 series of smartphones will be unveiled through an online event at 11am EST on 14 April. If I’ve converted that right, it’s 15:00 GMT / 16:00 BST.

What can we expect? As usual, OnePlus will undoubtedly drip-feed little teasers in advance of the event but a few things are already out in the open.

  • There’s going to be more than one device. It’s a series, but is it two devices or three?
  • All the devices will be 5G. The press release says, “bringing a full series of 5G devices”.
  • There’s a new display with a 120 Hz refresh rate. That’s up on last year’s 90 Hz.
  • It’s not going to be purely iterative. From the release, “a handful of other new and exciting technologies”. Rumours abound for wireless charger and water resistance.

With the OnePlus 8 series, we’re excited to introduce our most powerful and beautiful smartphone series ever, combining blazing fast 5G capabilities, specially engineered high refresh rate displays and OnePlus’ signature powerful performance setup. The OnePlus 8 series will bring a truly ‘burdenless’ experience to all our users, who have come to expect nothing but the best all-around flagship smartphones from us,” said Pete Lau, Founder and CEO of OnePlus. “No detail is too small for us, as OnePlus always strives to deliver the best user experience possible with our premium flagship devices.

If you want to watch the event (and it’s usually done well), it’ll be live-streamed from the OnePlus at https://www.oneplus.com/launch and YouTube http://onepl.us/8SeriesLaunchEvent.


The Greatest Designs of Modern Times



Back in 1959, Fortune worked with Institute of Design at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) to produce The 100 “Best Designed” Products. The original article is here and within the list are objects still recognised and valued today: Barcelona chair, Anglepoise lamp, Vespa scooter, Zippo lighter, Chemex coffee maker and Leica camera. Others will be recognisable only from the history books, like the Ford Model T, and others will be bewildering, such as the IBM Time Data Punch.

Sixty years on and still working with the IIT Institute of Design, Fortune has updated the list for the 21st century: The Greatest Designs of Modern Times. This time the list is far more recognisable but has expanded into areas only dreamed of in 1959. Unsurprisingly, numerous Apple products rightly make the list with the Apple iPhone in at #1. There are online services like Uber and Netflix; long loved toys like Lego stand alongside Pokemon and Super Mario Bros; the cult Black Wing pencil makes it in at #100.

Fortunately, it’s not all post-war design and a few of the original 1959 entries make it into this list – the geodesic dome, Futura typeface and Olivetti typewriter. The designers themselves are incredible visionaries and some are household names like Jony Ive and Dieter Rams. Furniture design is particularly timeless – Ray and Charles Eames, Alvar Aalto and Eero ­Saarinen all have mid-century designs recognisable today. It’s not all expensive either: the Braun calculator and the Bialetti Moka Pot are around GB£25. The Ikea’s Billy bookcase puts in an appearance at #41.

Take a break from worries of the day and marvel at some truly wonderful Designs of Modern Times.


Live Call in For Upcoming Shows #1433



On the next show, I will have an open call in following the regular recording of the show and may invite some folks that will participate in the recording of the podcast. We live in weird times so I thought it would be fun to mix things up a little bit. If you want to participate in the live show or be part of the call in after the show the details will be posted during the live recording. You will need to be prepared to use Skype, it is preferable to have a wired connection and some sort of headset or earbud, Lots shared on today’s show. I think we are all getting a little stir crazy so let’s lighten it up a bit.

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WhatsApp Bot Gives Out Covid-19 Information



The amount of misinformation around novel coronavirus and Covid-19 is staggering and presents a real danger both to the health of individuals and the wider community. To combat this threat, the UK Government has launched a WhatsApp bot to provide authoritative information on the virus.

The new free service aims to provide official, trustworthy and timely information about coronavirus (Covid-19) and reduce the burden on the National Health Service (NHS) and other under-pressure resources.

To engage with the bot, its phone number is 07860 064422 in the UK and connections are accepted from outside the country on +44 7860 064422.

Using the Covid-19 Bot is a little like using an interactive phone system: it’s respond “1 for this, 2 for that”.

     

Prof Yvonne Doyle, Medical Director, Public Health England, said, “This service will help us ensure the public has a trusted source for the right information about coronavirus, updated with the latest public health guidance and providing assurance that they are not misled by any of the false information circulating.

The Bot doesn’t check symptoms or provide diagnoses – it’s purely for information – but it does provide guidance on what to do if you think you have Covid-19, although the guidance information is UK-centric.

Pressing “7” offers a “mythbusters” section from the World Health Organisation that debunks many of the rumours around Covid-19. Some of the myths are pretty farfetched but now there’s an official source to refute them.

The ubiquity of WhatsApp makes it a great tool for this kind of information dissemination but a downside of WhatsApp is that it requires word of mouth to pass the number on – there’s no central index. So get the word out.


Codeacademy Offers Scholarships to Students Affected by COVID-19



Codeacademy is offering 10,000 scholarships to Codecademy Pro for free to high school and college students who are affected by COVID-19. The Pro memberships include Codeacademy programming, data science, and mobile development curriculum, a community of peers, and paths to help students be successful.

Codeacademy teaches millions of learners web development, mobile development, and data science skills. In the wake of COVID-19, we’re offering 10,000 scholarships to Codeacademy Pro for free to high school and college students across the world for the rest of the school year. Those students get access to the same features that every Codeacademy Pro learner does: roadmaps to figure out what to learn, thousands of hours of courses and projects to learn programming and data science, and a community of supportive peers.

CEO of Codeacademy, Zach Simms, said: “This is massively important. COVID-19 is leading to so many changes all at once – disruptions in finance, education, work, and more – and so much of our lives are moving online as a consequence. Online education is the only way for people to stay on top of their learning while kids are learning from home. We hope that what we’ve learned from 45 million users can help millions more during this difficult period. At the same time, we think Codeacademy is also helpful for those that might be out of work as a result of a financial challenge. Learning to retrain for a new job is a sure way to better your opportunity set.”

To get started with a free Codeacademy Pro scholarship, students must visit the Codeacdemy website and click a button called “Join Pro”. Doing so will start their 90-day scholarship. This offer is valid for any student with a valid school email address.