141: The Espresso Debacle


00:00:00   [Music]

00:00:06   From WEA FM, this is Connected, episode 141.

00:00:10   Today's show is brought to you so kindly by Encapsula and Away.

00:00:14   My name is Myke Hurley and I am so happy to say that the band is back together.

00:00:19   We have the frontman, Mr Federico Vitelli.

00:00:22   Hey Myke.

00:00:22   Hi Federico.

00:00:23   And producer/songwriter/drummer, Stephen Acker.

00:00:28   I've never been a drummer, but I did play bass in high school and college.

00:00:31   I don't see you as a drummer.

00:00:33   So close.

00:00:34   No, bassist.

00:00:35   Super cool.

00:00:36   I went with, like, I don't know, I didn't want to say he was a guitarist, I don't know

00:00:38   why, so I just went with drummer.

00:00:41   I was maybe angling towards, like, trumpet or something, but I just couldn't think of

00:00:44   a funny enough instrument.

00:00:46   I see Steven Moore as a producer/impresario of sorts, you know?

00:00:53   Sounds about right.

00:00:54   Like, frontman, hype man.

00:00:56   So we have big news, big, big news to start the show.

00:01:03   The first link in the show notes, if you go to your app right now, go to the webpage relay.fm/connected/141,

00:01:12   there is a link to an Eventbrite page where we have tickets up to the public now for our

00:01:17   Chicago show on Sunday, October 15th.

00:01:20   This is the show we're doing in conjunction with the Release Notes Conference.

00:01:24   Most of the tickets went to release notes attendees, but there are a handful left available

00:01:28   to the public.

00:01:29   So if you want one and you're still listening to me, then you need to stop and click the

00:01:33   link because they're probably already gone.

00:01:35   Yeah, it's too late.

00:01:37   If you wait to the end of that sentence, it's too late.

00:01:39   Probably.

00:01:40   Sorry.

00:01:41   We hope you got a ticket though.

00:01:42   We hope you stopped halfway through.

00:01:44   We do.

00:01:45   There's a wait list, as there always is.

00:01:48   And we're excited to see you all in Chicago.

00:01:50   So all three of us will be on stage doing a connected.

00:01:53   We can do follow up in real life in person.

00:01:57   That episode will be released that week as the normal show.

00:02:00   So if you aren't there, it's not like special content.

00:02:02   It's like locked away for those audience members.

00:02:05   It is our normal episode that week.

00:02:09   So we're super excited to be doing it with release notes.

00:02:11   Thank you again to those guys for helping make it possible.

00:02:14   They've really done all the hard work for this.

00:02:16   We're just basically just showing up and plugging in some microphones.

00:02:18   So thanks to release notes and yeah, we'll see you there.

00:02:22   It's Windy City, right? The Windy City. There's a rumor going around that I'm gonna be eating

00:02:30   deep dish pizza on stage, the Chicago one. I just wanted to say that it is not true,

00:02:36   it's not happening, but maybe off stage we could arrange an Instagram story. Yeah. Because

00:02:42   I want to try it. I want to try what I've heard of is like pizza casserole is what I've

00:02:47   been told. It's kind of more like... So I want to try it because I've never tried it.

00:02:51   So there will be a consumption of deep dish. It's either where we eat it or fall into it.

00:03:01   I'm not sure which one it's gonna end up being. I guess you have to be there to find out. So

00:03:07   hope you got a ticket. So yeah, so there'll be lots of fun stuff. We'll be at the conference.

00:03:12   We're gonna be in Chicago for about a week together, so it'll be a lot of fun.

00:03:16   making trouble. But it is time to move on to follow up and the first piece of

00:03:23   follow-up I have many questions about mostly for Federico so to set the stage

00:03:28   a little bit a couple weeks ago Apple announced that the affiliate program for

00:03:34   apps so if you link to an app in a blog post or a tweet with a special link you

00:03:38   would get seven percent of that sale coming out of Apple's thirty percent so

00:03:44   it's not coming out of the developers pockets,

00:03:45   coming out of Apple's-- as a thank you

00:03:47   for linking to the App Store.

00:03:49   And they had this big email.

00:03:51   And I thought it was very clear, I think all of us

00:03:53   thought it was very clear, that apps are getting cut to 2.5%,

00:03:57   not 7%.

00:03:58   And there was lots of hand-wringing, a lot of sites,

00:04:01   including Mac stories and like 512 pixels and like

00:04:04   the sweet setup that I do editing for.

00:04:06   A bunch of projects that you as a listener know and love

00:04:09   depend on this income.

00:04:10   And it was going to be slashed.

00:04:12   And it turns out that Apple clarified in like air quotes,

00:04:17   I think they walked it back,

00:04:19   but Federico, what did they say?

00:04:21   - So I was doing some research on the affiliate program

00:04:25   a couple of nights ago,

00:04:26   and just to make sure I went to the Apple affiliate website,

00:04:30   and they do have a blog, which is like a news page,

00:04:34   it doesn't have an RSS feed,

00:04:37   and it's just one of those unknown blogs

00:04:40   that you really gotta go look for.

00:04:42   And there was an update from May 5, so that would be a Friday,

00:04:47   saying commission update is very short update.

00:04:52   And it was literally saying, we just

00:04:55   want to clarify some of the previous changes

00:04:57   that we communicated over email on the commissions

00:05:00   for the affiliate program.

00:05:01   And we wanted to clarify that only the commission

00:05:06   on in-app purchases, it's going to drop to 2.5%. All other commissions, including apps

00:05:13   and books and TV shows, it's going to stay, it's going to remain at 7%. And Apple used

00:05:21   the term "clarify", but it wasn't really clarified, because if you compare the original announcement

00:05:25   from the email and the updated announcement, you can clearly see how the, what Apple refers

00:05:31   to app content, which would be paid iOS apps, was not in the first email when they were

00:05:37   mentioning the 7%, but it was in the commission update on the blog. So what Apple did was

00:05:42   they didn't send an email to the members of the affiliate program, they posted on this

00:05:48   blog that no one follows on May 5, and I noticed on two days later, so no other blog had noticed

00:05:55   this update from Apple, they didn't send an email, they didn't send any update, I just

00:06:00   went there and realized, oh, they just reverted the change.

00:06:04   They're backtracking on the commissions for paid iOS apps.

00:06:08   So basically, now paid apps, paid iOS apps and Mac apps

00:06:13   are going to stay at 7%.

00:06:15   The commission paid up to the members of the affiliate

00:06:18   program.

00:06:18   Only in-app purchases are going to go to 2.5%.

00:06:23   And yes, Apple did say we're clarifying.

00:06:26   But to me, that's basically backtracking

00:06:29   on a previous decision.

00:06:30   I don't know why it happened.

00:06:31   I suppose they heard the feedback

00:06:34   from a lot of members of the program,

00:06:36   or maybe it was just a mistake.

00:06:38   I mean, must be a very odd circumstance to get that wrong,

00:06:43   which makes me believe it wasn't a mistake,

00:06:48   it was a decision.

00:06:49   Then they heard the outcry from members of the program

00:06:52   and some websites and podcasts,

00:06:54   and they decided, well, it's not worth it.

00:06:56   Maybe it's a bad PR move, maybe it's bad for the ecosystem.

00:06:59   I don't know, but they're gonna keep it at 7%.

00:07:02   - What I don't understand is why they did this,

00:07:06   changed their minds, or clarified an incorrect statement

00:07:09   or whatever it was, but they didn't tell anyone.

00:07:12   They just left it on that blog that nobody reads.

00:07:17   - Nobody reads, and I just stumbled upon it

00:07:20   accidentally almost, because I just wanted

00:07:23   to double check everything on the Apple affiliate website,

00:07:27   and I saw this link, go to the news page.

00:07:29   was like, "Okay, let's go to the news page." And I saw this update from Friday. So, you

00:07:33   know, between posting on a Friday, I guess in the afternoon, and without sending an email,

00:07:39   and this one paragraph notice, it's kind of funny. And it makes me wonder if this move

00:07:47   of cutting the commissions was really done to prevent, you know, paying out large amounts

00:07:53   of money to, as I speculated two weeks ago, to maybe big players like Facebook or Google

00:08:00   or Twitter, you know, big social networks that use their affiliate codes to earn commissions

00:08:06   on apps that are displayed on those services as native app install ads. And because, you

00:08:13   know, the majority of app install ads that you see on Facebook, for example, if Facebook

00:08:17   does use the affiliate program, but the majority of those apps are freemium games and freemium

00:08:22   apps. So free downloads that have in-app purchases for gems or, you know, those types of freemium

00:08:28   games. Makes me wonder if maybe the move was supposed to cut that money to players like

00:08:34   Facebook and Google and Bing, I don't know. But why can't they just like find a way to

00:08:39   stop people making affiliate money from their own applications? Right, there should be a sort of

00:08:44   tiers in the program, you know, if you make over, I don't know, half a million dollars a year,

00:08:50   probably you should get a smaller piece of the pie of the affiliate commission.

00:08:54   That's what I would do. I would, you know, for indie websites I would keep one type of commissions,

00:08:58   but for other, you know, social networks and people who really make a lot of money,

00:09:03   the commission should be lower. And that's what makes the most sense to me. Instead they're

00:09:08   going to slash the in-app purchase for everyone, which is not necessarily great news for indie

00:09:12   websites, and, you know, because a lot of apps these days tend to be free with subscriptions or

00:09:17   in-app purchases, but still from my perspective it's still good news to have 7% of unpaid apps,

00:09:23   because those are the apps that I tend to prefer, the productivity apps that I tend to write about,

00:09:28   but it's definitely an interesting move and I don't understand why the change happened

00:09:32   in the first place and why it was miscommunicated or mismanaged. I have no idea.

00:09:37   -Surprise! Workflows back. -Yeah.

00:09:44   Can you really be back if you never went away?

00:09:46   Well, you know, there were many reports that it was dead.

00:09:48   I think our friends at ATP began this situation.

00:09:52   Well, I mean, that came from a comment from some, from like Workflow support team.

00:09:58   So I think it's probably premature to call this back from the dead.

00:10:01   Well, I mean, okay, so whatever came from the support team, what was reported was no more updates of any kind coming to Workflow.

00:10:09   Like that was the tone and everyone was like that's it. It's done

00:10:12   They wrapped it up and they moved away and that's not the case right like it

00:10:16   What we have is there has been an update the update restores some functionality and has actually made some feature

00:10:24   enhancements as well like I was expecting maybe this would just be

00:10:27   Restoring for the companies that have said yes, you can use our stuff again, which includes Chrome

00:10:33   Which I'm so happy about Google Chrome actions are back and pocket have been added

00:10:37   But it's also added some Apple music functions, but also made some improvements like one of them

00:10:44   Which is something that I was really hoping for which I think we spoke about that

00:10:47   I think we spoke about the episode

00:10:49   When we were just talking about workflow before it got sold and I was talking about how dictionaries just have a random order

00:10:56   Right, which is apparently a thing

00:10:57   But now when they're kind of chained to lists when they're supposed to be presented as a list

00:11:03   They now fix the order in place, which I think is great

00:11:07   Yeah, that I guess that workflow was able to basically rewrite their own JSON and dictionary support

00:11:13   So to make sure that items preserve their order

00:11:16   I feel like they were just saying to me like we're so sorry about the stress we've caused you so here you go

00:11:22   Here's your feature. I think I think that's what happened. Yeah, that's definitely how it went down

00:11:27   They put it on a whiteboard right like make my happy again and then

00:11:30   Yeah fix for Myke. Yeah

00:11:34   Sure. I mean the big idea here is that

00:11:37   these are no major features like it's not

00:11:41   the type of update that introduces magic variables or web APIs. It's an update with some new features

00:11:48   but they're not groundbreaking

00:11:50   you know

00:11:52   major functionalities added to workflow. It's still good to see that Apple is investing in the app in you know with bug fixes

00:11:59   virus improvements, minor additions maybe you could say with Apple Music you can now manage your playback queue and

00:12:05   restoring some of the actions that got pulled with the acquisition. I don't know what to think

00:12:11   I want to be optimistic because this means there's still people working on it

00:12:14   There's still people listening and you know monitoring the problems with the app and fixing those

00:12:19   I don't know if it means well we can prepare for that kind of

00:12:23   aggressive release schedule that Workflow used to have when it was an independent app or somewhere in the middle of

00:12:29   I don't want to say the workflow is dead, and I also don't want to say that it's in a limbo.

00:12:34   It's somewhere in between those two states.

00:12:38   It's not gonna have a redesign, I believe. It's not gonna have new major additions.

00:12:44   But it will probably receive bug fixes, improvements, and these minor changes.

00:12:49   They're still welcome, and I want to be optimistic, but I don't know how many of these will get.

00:12:56   In the meantime, I just wanted to say how I'm still using workflow

00:13:01   I'm still creating workflows because the app functions as always and now it's even better because they fix a bunch of things

00:13:07   so it's not like

00:13:10   Because I saw some people that are abandoning workflow out of principle

00:13:13   Even if it's still working great and even if it if it got an update yesterday

00:13:17   there's still people are gonna say well, I'm not spending any more time in this app because it's dead and

00:13:21   I think that's you know, everyone is free to do whatever they want

00:13:26   But I think that's, you know, counterintuitive.

00:13:28   I mean, if the app works and if we can save you time, why not just keep using it?

00:13:32   But, you know, some people, they took very.

00:13:37   Precise and strong stance.

00:13:41   I think I kind of feel the way that you do like, I don't expect to ever

00:13:45   see something like a magic variables added to this application, right?

00:13:49   Like this application as we have it right now.

00:13:52   but I am hopeful and I have faith that we will see things like this.

00:13:58   You know, if there's a bug that needs to be fixed, it will be fixed. If there's a slight improvement

00:14:03   that can be made, they'll make it, whilst the workflow team, I'm sure, are working on some

00:14:07   cool stuff inside of Apple. But really, honestly, for the time being, that's all I want. Like,

00:14:12   I just want to know that the app is receiving some support until something comes along to replace it,

00:14:18   Right? That's kind of for me in the situation that we're in, the best case scenario.

00:14:24   Yeah. And it's definitely, you know, if Workflow gets integrated with iOS or if it gets a major 2.0 update,

00:14:30   I believe there's a very strong possibility that it's not going to be this year.

00:14:34   It's not going to be, you know, in three weeks at WWDC we're going to see a whole new Workflow.

00:14:38   I don't think that's the case. I don't think we'll see Workflow as an iOS feature this year.

00:14:42   But, you know, maybe next year, maybe with a point update to iOS 11, whenever that happens,

00:14:49   that could be, but I wouldn't expect it in three weeks.

00:14:52   It is, yeah, it does show how recent it was, right?

00:14:55   Like it was only a couple of months ago and WWDC's in three weeks.

00:14:59   I agree, I just can't imagine we see anything that's like, "Oh, that's what the workflow

00:15:03   team went to do."

00:15:04   Like it just doesn't feel like it would be now for me.

00:15:07   Like it could be next WWDC, it could be somewhere in between, but I don't think we're going

00:15:12   to see it in June.

00:15:14   Alright, should we take a break?

00:15:18   Yeah.

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00:16:38   So in the last couple weeks Federico has been secretly launching a new Kickstarter project

00:16:44   it seems.

00:16:45   Oh god, no.

00:16:46   There is a link in the show notes and I think the best way to sum this up is an iPhone case

00:16:51   that can make Espresso free.

00:16:53   Yeah that is the most efficient way of summing that up.

00:16:57   Why would you have so little faith in me that you think this could be my project?

00:17:01   But it is the intersection of the things that you love, right?

00:17:05   It is the anti-federico, this thing here, making an espresso with your phone, with liquid

00:17:15   coffee that comes out of a case on the back of your iPhone, that is like against all of

00:17:22   my life principles.

00:17:23   Let me rewind a little bit for people that don't know what we're talking about, which

00:17:26   which is probably most of everybody. This Kickstarter project came across our views

00:17:32   somehow. And it is, as we have been joking, the exact product is, it is an iPhone case

00:17:39   that has the ability to dispense coffee. You put these capsules or something in the side,

00:17:46   these card capsules in the side, it heats it up, and you pour coffee via the use of

00:17:52   an application. I'm not sure how the app helps, but apparently it does. It's also for Samsung

00:17:56   phones as well. I don't think it's just an iPhone case. And it will pour coffee out of

00:18:02   the top of the case. That is what it does. So you will always be able to have hot coffee

00:18:08   no matter where you are. You can just pour it out of the case that you have your phone

00:18:14   in. It's a concerning idea.

00:18:20   It is a terrible idea. I do appreciate the enterprising nature of the project. Also because

00:18:28   it comes from a bunch of Italian folks, it's good to see Italians trying things.

00:18:32   You should watch the video by the way, it's terrible and brilliant.

00:18:35   The video is terrible. The video with a stranger approaching a lady on the street.

00:18:41   Walking into a lamppost.

00:18:43   espresso from a phone. It's both creepy and concerning from, I don't know, from many points

00:18:50   of view and I don't even know what to say. There's so many, you know, Americans call them

00:18:59   coffee shops, we call them bars in Italy. The bar in Italy, it's not when you go get it like booze

00:19:04   at night, it's where you go eat a sandwich or grab an espresso. And literally in any Italian city,

00:19:10   there's like a bar within 100 meters of each other, usually.

00:19:15   I'm not sure what the American unit is for that, probably a million inches.

00:19:20   Anyway, there's so little need for this kind of product.

00:19:26   You have to buy a case and you have to carry the case on your phone

00:19:29   at the risk of having boiling water in the back of your device.

00:19:33   Putting up coffee from a capsule, which is liquid coffee, not even freshly

00:19:38   grounded coffee. It's just… I don't even know. Why not just walk into a bar and

00:19:45   ask for an actual espresso? It is worth noting at this point that yesterday,

00:19:52   Kickstarter suspended this campaign. And basically what that means is, Kickstarter are very aware

00:19:58   of the fact that this product will never exist. Right? Like, they may well believe they're

00:20:03   going to do this, but it's extremely unlikely that people would be able to make this product

00:20:08   and if they do, it actually doesn't really help anybody. They had a 75,000 euro goal,

00:20:13   they got 90 backers with 4,000 euros raised and then Kickstarter came in and just threw down the

00:20:20   ban hammer. But we still thought that it was ridiculous enough to mention on the show. I love

00:20:26   everything about it. The video, the video is so funny in so many ways. My favorite part is when

00:20:31   they're like in their office pointing at screens, right? Like, look at technology! And like they

00:20:38   have these graphics come up on the screen and there's one of them where it's like oh it's a

00:20:42   white text overlaid over the top of a white computer screen so you can't read it and i just

00:20:46   love stuff like that it's like you tried so hard but like no but you just you couldn't get stuff

00:20:52   like that right like you just fix that just don't do that uh it's brilliant like people are just

00:20:56   like running their hands over things and like pointing at stuff it's it's fantastic it i'm not

00:21:02   sure if this is supposed to be a piece of performance art yeah on the internet but the

00:21:07   But the real news for me here is that 90 people across the world have lost their minds if

00:21:13   they back this project. This is the takeaway from this Kickstarter. So, those 90 people

00:21:18   pay attention where they might be.

00:21:21   Those 90 people could all know the company, right? Like, that's a whole other thing.

00:21:26   Also, they were so proud of their patent that they got, they put a scan of the certificate

00:21:31   in the campaign.

00:21:33   Yeah. I have a lot of questions about that piece of paper. It looks like it's a patent

00:21:42   application done by a fourth grader in Microsoft Publisher. It's not a good look.

00:21:47   This is patent for project.

00:21:50   Is that what it says?

00:21:53   It was like a logo of the Italian government. It's like the Republic of Italy grants this

00:21:58   application pending status.

00:22:01   Let me ask you Federico, I'm sure you've dealt with the Italian government. Does this look

00:22:05   like a document the Italian government could have created?

00:22:08   Let me take a look again. So the product, by the way, is called the Mo-case. I'm not

00:22:14   sure what you mentioned. Well, I mean, the logo is kind of stretched, the Italian logo.

00:22:22   I don't know, it might as well be, because these official documents tend to be terrible.

00:22:28   Terrible? They never look good. They never look good. But I don't know, there's a number,

00:22:35   there's an ID, so you know, there's an ID, you might as well be real.

00:22:39   I'm searching for the number on what I think is the Italian government's patent search

00:22:43   page, but it's on Italian. So I can't really tell.

00:22:49   If only. If only we knew someone.

00:22:51   If I-- I know. Well, he was talking. If I did it correctly, and who knows what this

00:22:58   page actually says, not me, then it says zero results.

00:23:02   Hold on a second. I'm looking at the page, and you can actually use the Samsung S7 Edge.

00:23:12   Isn't that the phone that used to explode?

00:23:14   No, that was the Note. This is the Edge.

00:23:16   That makes your coffee really hot.

00:23:18   I was already imagining a coffee explosion in the middle of the street. Some guy just

00:23:22   walking and coffee explodes all over the place.

00:23:25   It's pre-heating. Just pre-heating.

00:23:27   Optimizations, yeah. Anyway, I mean, I guess there's people who might want this kind of

00:23:33   coffee. So, look, I'm not judging. I'm just saying, "Come hang out with me for a day and

00:23:41   I'll take you around a bunch of bars in Rome and we could have actual good coffee. And

00:23:46   You can also go to the Apple Store and get an actual case.

00:23:49   That seems like a better investment for your phone or the Samsung Store.

00:23:54   I'm sure there's some of those.

00:23:55   And an espresso machine, you know, if that's what you really want in your life.

00:23:59   Are there any Huawei stores or LG stores?

00:24:02   I don't think they have dedicated stores.

00:24:03   I think Samsung might be the only one that does.

00:24:06   Well, anyway, I don't know.

00:24:12   It's just...

00:24:13   It's beautiful is what it is.

00:24:15   This is the one that's a human advertisement right here. But this is when it goes ever

00:24:19   so slightly wrong. Have you seen the little cup that goes with

00:24:22   the product? Yeah, yeah, the travel cup. Those things are

00:24:24   great though. Those things are great, the little travel cups.

00:24:27   iTunes connect app analytics. So this is not a new thing, right? Like this has existed

00:24:34   before but they added some new functionality in that now you can actually see where your

00:24:40   customers are coming from. So in the past when app analytics was announced, I think

00:24:44   like two years ago. I think from my knowledge it basically just provided you information

00:24:49   about how many people have come to your page and it gave you some breakdowns of how they

00:24:54   got there from inside of the store, right? So like if they were searching for your app

00:24:59   or something or coming from browsing. But now you get information like where those people

00:25:04   are coming from so you can find it like the websites that they come from so you get links

00:25:08   and maybe you can see if people come from whatever marketing campaigns and stuff you've

00:25:12   been setting up. I assume that this is a very good thing for developers, right? Like any

00:25:16   more information is better than no information.

00:25:19   Right, yeah. I mean, it's a good change, especially because Apple has waited for so long to add

00:25:24   this kind of options to the App Analytics, and I've already seen some reactions from

00:25:31   developers on Twitter saying, "Well, I just realized that 80% of our customers come from

00:25:36   search on the App Store, so now we're investing on search ads." And I almost wonder if Apple

00:25:41   realized we should add search metrics and information to the iTunes Connect so developers

00:25:47   are more incentivized to buy search ads because they realize that search is such a huge component

00:25:52   of how customers discover their software. So it's sort of a self-reinforcing loop for

00:25:56   Apple. We roll out analytics and developers realize that search is important, so now they

00:26:01   buy more search ads.

00:26:03   You know, just for general marketing it's better, right? So like if a developer buys

00:26:08   a marketing spot on Mac stories or on 512 pixels, they're going to know if people are

00:26:12   clicking those links and going to the store, where previously you'd either have to put

00:26:16   your own page in the middle, which is not elegant enough, or you'd just be crossing

00:26:21   your fingers and hoping and trying to do some kind of wizardry on statistics to work out

00:26:26   if maybe there had been some kind of effect. But now you can actually trace that stuff

00:26:29   back, which is useful to have if you're working in this kind of web business like this, where

00:26:34   links are occurring. That data is available and now it's there for people to see. That's

00:26:41   great.

00:26:42   Yeah, yeah.

00:26:43   Phil Schiller gave an interview to a website called Gadgets 360. Does anybody know what

00:26:50   that is? Gadgets 360?

00:26:53   It's a gadget mixed with an Xbox.

00:26:56   It looks like it is a... I'm gonna...

00:27:00   and I believe it's part of a larger network of sites in India.

00:27:05   In India, right. Okay, cool. I wonder what country it's from.

00:27:07   Oh, I just realized it's called NDTV, like India. NDTV.

00:27:13   I don't know if...

00:27:15   There it is.

00:27:16   Okay, okay, cool. We're going to go with that.

00:27:18   That's clever.

00:27:20   And he spoke about two things that were kind of interesting. One is voice assistants and

00:27:26   voice canisters and voice boxes like the Echo, the Google Home, that kind of stuff.

00:27:31   I want to read you a couple of quotes that Shilla spoke about. He says, "There's many

00:27:36   moments where a voice assistant is really beneficial, but that doesn't mean you'd never

00:27:40   want a screen. So if the idea of not having a screen I don't think suits many situations."

00:27:45   We're going to talk a little bit later on about the Amazon Echo Show. Shilla gave these

00:27:51   reports before there were even any rumors of this product or strong rumors of this product.

00:27:57   He also went on to say, "I think voice assistants are incredibly powerful. Their intelligence

00:28:00   is going to grow. They're going to do more for us, but the role of the screen is going

00:28:04   to remain very important to all of this."

00:28:06   Phil Schiller really is doubling down on these things having screens. So my expectation,

00:28:13   we were talking last week about rumors of a Apple voice assistant box, like a Siri in

00:28:19   in a can popping up at some point,

00:28:22   I think we can assume that this thing's

00:28:24   gonna have a screen on it, right?

00:28:25   - I mean, it sure seems like that's

00:28:29   where they're headed with this.

00:28:32   Anytime Apple talks about a market they're not in,

00:28:36   it's important to pay attention to how they speak about it.

00:28:39   So there was one of the more famous examples

00:28:42   of Steve Jobs saying no one wants to watch a video

00:28:44   on their iPod and then like six months later,

00:28:47   there's an iPod with video.

00:28:49   But in conjunction with that, they had the iTunes store with TV shows, and they introduced

00:28:54   a whole ecosystem kind of all at once.

00:28:57   Here, I can't help but think it's a similar thing where there's lots of rumors that they're

00:29:02   working on this.

00:29:04   Like we spoke about last week, these products need a display to fall back to when they can't

00:29:10   tell you the information verbally.

00:29:14   I think Apple's thinking about that as the whole thing, and they don't want to kick people

00:29:17   an app. Whether or not we see this, like we spoke about last week, you know, in the next

00:29:23   couple weeks or sometime in the next year, I would be really surprised after all of this

00:29:28   if it does not have a screen as part of the product.

00:29:30   I think it's also interesting that like when Shado's gone on record with these types of

00:29:34   things before, he's talking about like the device you have with you, right? Like that's

00:29:39   been the whole thing. And it seems like that they're kind of changing that tune a little

00:29:42   bit now, right? That these things don't necessarily have to be in your pocket, which is definitely

00:29:47   definitely the route that Apple has gone down before by kind of being like "oh your iPhone's

00:29:52   the best digital voice assistant because it's always in your pocket" but now it's kind of

00:29:57   just like "these things need screens" right and I think that's kind of interesting the

00:30:01   way they're kind of like bundling it all up now to be like "the one in your pocket's really

00:30:05   great" they're still saying that by saying they need screens but then also like thinking

00:30:08   about what they could end up launching themselves there you go could have a screen.

00:30:13   I wonder if adding a screen is also a way to entice people to buy this product, and

00:30:22   if those people don't have an iPhone or don't have an iPad, with the main screen, with the

00:30:26   main app, if they don't have the main Apple device, well, the speaker with the screen

00:30:31   could be the only screen that they're interacting with.

00:30:34   You know, if you want to sign into your iCloud account or if you want to manage Apple Music

00:30:38   playlists, you don't have an iPhone but you really want the Apple speaker, now you can

00:30:42   do all things, you know, configuration, setup, and you know, even confirming some actions,

00:30:48   you can do them from the speaker, even if you don't have an iPhone or if you don't have

00:30:51   an Apple Watch.

00:30:53   Mm-hmm. Maybe this is why the iPad Mini is still for sale. They need to keep making the

00:30:57   screen so they can bolt it to this thing.

00:31:00   It could be, actually.

00:31:02   That's not a wild thing to say. It really isn't. Like, that actually makes a lot of

00:31:07   Weirdly, there was one other thing that I wanted to pick out of this article. Schiller

00:31:14   gave a bunch of quotes about upgrade pricing in the App Store, so he was questioned about

00:31:20   this by Gadgets360. This just seems like, "Where is this coming from again?" but we're back

00:31:26   on that train. And I think he kind of, to me anyway, these quotes kind of shut it all

00:31:32   down. So he said, "The reason we haven't done this is that it's much more complex than people

00:31:36   know, and that's okay. It's our job to think about complex problems. But the App Store

00:31:40   has reached so many successful milestones without it, so without upgrade pricing, because

00:31:44   the business model makes sense to customers. So you talk about the new business models

00:31:48   make sense to customers. And then he goes on to say, "And the upgrade model, which

00:31:52   I know very well from my days of running many large software programs, is a model from the

00:31:57   shrink-wrapped software days that for some developers is still very important. For most,

00:32:02   It's not really a part of the future we are going.

00:32:05   I think many developers, I think for many developers, subscription model is a better

00:32:10   way to go to try and come up with a list of features and different pricing for upgrade

00:32:14   versus for new customers.

00:32:18   It kind of seems a bit like he's just shutting it down now, right?

00:32:21   It's like, I understand people want upgrade pricing.

00:32:25   That's not where we are now.

00:32:26   Right?

00:32:27   Like we have new tools, use those.

00:32:30   I do think, and I posted this on Mac stories, I think it's a complex issue and I see some

00:32:37   of the points that Shiller mentioned as valid. I do think that the App Store has found incredible

00:32:43   success with the simpler model. You don't have to think about "do I own an existing

00:32:47   license and what is the price if I'm a new customer or if I'm an old customer?" So the

00:32:53   App Store is easy to use. But at the same time, I also realize that some developers

00:32:58   could have used something like upgrade pricing years ago,

00:33:02   when the iPad was new, for example,

00:33:04   or even when the iPad Pro was new, when iOS 9 came out,

00:33:07   and a lot of developers were wondering,

00:33:09   we want to make professional apps on the App Store

00:33:11   for the iPad, but how do we monetize this?

00:33:13   Because we've seen that paid apps

00:33:15   are not gonna cut it for us anymore,

00:33:17   and we want to retain our best customers.

00:33:19   And it's important to remember that this discussion,

00:33:21   the upgrade pricing discussion,

00:33:23   has been going on for years now,

00:33:24   and Apple only added subscriptions

00:33:26   for all categories of apps on the App Store last year.

00:33:29   And I'm talking about the auto-renewable subscriptions

00:33:31   that you buy with your iTunes account

00:33:34   and they renew automatically.

00:33:35   It was rolled out last year.

00:33:37   So I think it's valid in both ways.

00:33:41   I think Schiller has pointed the App Store is easy to use,

00:33:44   but I also hear the concerns of developers who say,

00:33:46   "We're not sure how to monetize our apps

00:33:50   because we've struggled to implement in-app purchases

00:33:53   and many of our customers don't want to subscribe.

00:33:56   they just want to pay once, but stay with us over the years.

00:34:00   And Shiller is saying, well, you should really look into subscriptions now, because that's

00:34:04   the way that you can do free trials, that's the way that you can do discounts for people

00:34:11   who migrate between different groups of subscriptions, and that, for Apple, seems to be the way forward.

00:34:18   I just feel like, if subscriptions were rolled out years ago, maybe three years ago, the

00:34:24   upgrade pricing discussion would have settled a long time ago. Instead we're still talking

00:34:28   about it because, you know, it's relatively a new thing. And, you know, there are some

00:34:34   upstrying subscriptions and I've done some research this week, it's maybe slightly more

00:34:39   than I was expecting, but it still feels like we're in the early stages of developers of

00:34:47   productivity apps and utilities considering subscriptions. So it's still early and I want

00:34:52   to see what happens to WWDC? I'm sure that there are lots of apps that are

00:34:58   using subscriptions. I feel like I'm not seeing as many as I expected in the

00:35:02   applications that I use and I do use a lot of professional apps, right? Like I

00:35:06   use a lot of apps that could very well be put behind a subscription and I don't

00:35:13   feel like I'm seeing as many as I thought I would see and I wonder

00:35:18   why that's the case. Like, you know, applications that I've seen in the past that do like the

00:35:24   really clunky upgrade model, right? Like here's a new application, it's a brand new app, pay

00:35:30   it. Like I have, I use a bunch of apps that have used that model in the past that haven't

00:35:35   attempted, or it seems, to move over to subscriptions. I mean, of course, there's always a time for

00:35:42   that to change, right? Where they could do it as they're getting ready for a new big

00:35:45   version but I was honestly really expecting to see more than what I'm seeing here.

00:35:51   So it kind of confuses me where I'm like a lot of the indie development community

00:35:57   is still asking for upgrade pricing but they haven't changed their business models in

00:36:03   the way that Apple clearly wants them to because I honestly really do not see Apple adding

00:36:09   upgrade pricing to the App Store.

00:36:12   I don't think it's going to happen.

00:36:14   It is a big, it would be a big change to the overall market and the overall business for

00:36:21   a small set of users.

00:36:25   Because you know, you've got such a small set of applications that would take advantage

00:36:29   of it and then a small set of those users that would actually make the upgrades, that

00:36:34   it makes more sense for them to try and double down on newer ways of doing things like charging

00:36:41   subscriptions, which is a newer business model, or in-app purchases, right, like

00:36:45   free of in-app purchase type applications, it makes more sense I think for Apple to

00:36:49   push on those. I know that it's a struggle for a bunch of developers who

00:36:53   either can't do subscriptions for whatever reason or don't want to or are

00:36:57   not sure how to make it work, but I feel like if you're still running a business

00:37:01   that is reliant on upgrade pricing, I mean that ship sailed ten years ago now.

00:37:07   Like, I love you, but find a new way to charge for your application.

00:37:13   Because, as I said, it's been 10 years and it hasn't been here.

00:37:17   So I don't think it's ever gonna come, but even if it does, you should probably stop waiting

00:37:22   and try and do something else. I'm sorry, I love you.

00:37:26   Yeah. Look, I think there's a... developers are well aware of the fact that

00:37:33   the realities of the apps are different and they're never going to be the same as the shareware era of Mac OS software.

00:37:42   And I see some developers trying new approaches.

00:37:46   And I see some developers trying subscriptions, trying free trials, which Apple now condones by the way.

00:37:53   If you use a subscription model, you can do a free trial. You actually have a bunch of options.

00:37:57   And I was at the sessions at WWDC last year on subscriptions.

00:38:01   There's a lot that you can try and experiment with. You can do groups, you can do trials, you get a higher

00:38:06   commission if a user stays with you for over a year. There's a grace period.

00:38:11   There's a lot of settings for developers who want to try subscriptions, and it's pretty sweet actually. But I feel like at the same time

00:38:17   if Apple wants to insist on this idea that if you want to do a professional app on the App Store, and I do believe

00:38:24   that we need many of those. We need the apps to have not just weather apps, you know, maximum

00:38:29   respect to weather apps and calculators, but we also need more serious software. And there's

00:38:34   only half of the story coming from Apple. So yes, we do have subscriptions. What other

00:38:40   incentives do we have? Can we make iPad apps? Can we make professional apps that are just

00:38:45   as powerful as the Mac counterparts? So it's pretty sweet that we can do subscriptions.

00:38:50   But do we have the APIs to make those professional apps as powerful, as intuitive, and as flexible

00:38:57   as they can be on the desktop?

00:38:58   Because otherwise people are just going to create web apps and desktop apps and charge

00:39:02   on their own stores.

00:39:03   So it's great that iTunes Connect has these options now, but it also needs to happen on

00:39:08   an API and SDK level.

00:39:10   They need to allow developers to make powerful stuff and charge for it with a new model.

00:39:15   But I only think we're halfway there.

00:39:17   I think it's interesting too that Schiller framed it the way that he did.

00:39:22   Before he was at Apple, he was at Macromedia, probably like 20 years ago.

00:39:26   In saying that, he's really saying, to your point, Myke, this is an old way of thinking

00:39:31   about it.

00:39:32   As you guys are talking, I was just looking through my iPhone, my home screen and apps

00:39:36   I use a lot.

00:39:37   There are a lot of those apps that I do pay for, but they're not necessarily subscriptions

00:39:42   in the app store.

00:39:43   like Todoist is free, but I'm paying for a premium account through their website.

00:39:48   Or like 1Password, I pay for teams and family.

00:39:53   So I'm paying on an ongoing basis to use it, but the app itself is free.

00:39:57   So even if you're not paying for an app subscription through the store, many of the apps and services

00:40:02   we use, there's some sort of account component that you're paying for.

00:40:07   But I agree with you guys, it's just,

00:40:10   it's a really outdated way of thinking about it.

00:40:13   And you can say that it was prematurely put out to pasture

00:40:17   because Apple structured the way that they did.

00:40:21   But that's beside the point because Apple controls it.

00:40:24   Like, you may be mad that Apple got rid of a business model

00:40:27   you used to use, but without the App Store,

00:40:29   there would be no business model to be had.

00:40:31   So I think holding onto that is,

00:40:35   Well it's understandable, the time has passed and I think that the subscription model Apple

00:40:41   has laid out is the way forward.

00:40:44   And you know there was a lot of talk in the beginning about subscription fatigue, like

00:40:49   am I just going to be paying $3 a month for 100 apps?

00:40:53   I don't think this happened to anybody.

00:40:55   And I agree with you that it may increase over time as apps get updated.

00:41:00   But I think that upgrade fatigue is real too.

00:41:03   And if every time you upgraded a version of an iOS app and they pinged you for more money,

00:41:10   I think people would get tired of that and people would be hesitant to update their apps

00:41:15   because they're unsure if it's free or if it's going to be paid, they don't want to

00:41:17   be surprised.

00:41:18   And so I think subscriptions make the whole thing more predictable for a user, which is

00:41:23   what users want.

00:41:25   And they give developers who do the work to earn that money, they give them reliable income

00:41:33   each month.

00:41:34   And that's what developers want.

00:41:35   It's a win-win.

00:41:36   And so I think it's just time to move on.

00:41:39   Speaking of which, let's move on.

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00:44:07   So just before the episode today, Amazon announced the Echo Show. The Echo Show.

00:44:13   Is that a podcast?

00:44:14   It's a new podcast, it's me and Jeff Bezos and we're just in a really big room and there's

00:44:21   just a lot of echo, right?

00:44:23   Get it?

00:44:24   Get it, right?

00:44:25   Wow.

00:44:26   No.

00:44:27   The show is over guys, go check out the show notes.

00:44:29   Do you read the show notes?

00:44:31   What are we talking about now?

00:44:32   I'm really confused.

00:44:33   Oh God.

00:44:34   Okay.

00:44:35   So the Echo Show, it will be released on June 28th for $229.

00:44:41   no international release or pricing information as of the time of recording.

00:44:46   It features a 7 inch touchscreen, a 5 megapixel camera mounted on the front for video calling,

00:44:52   powerful room filling speakers who Dolby processing, which is something we lifted off of the page

00:44:59   so it sounds a bit marketingy, and it has the same 8 microphone away as in the tall

00:45:04   the Ray sorry as in the tall Echo so it can hear you from other rooms and it can do all

00:45:09   noise cancellation and stuff like that.

00:45:11   So it's got everything the current Echo has, the big long tube, with a touch screen on

00:45:16   the front of it.

00:45:17   Now what can you do with said touch screen, Steven?

00:45:19   You can do all sorts of things.

00:45:21   You can touch it and you can see things.

00:45:23   Touch screen.

00:45:24   There's both.

00:45:25   Should be a product developer, Steven.

00:45:27   I know.

00:45:28   Wow.

00:45:29   So they, from their marketing page, which is really all we have at this point, the Flash

00:45:34   briefings that are part of the Echo service now, so you can say, "Hey, what's the news?"

00:45:39   You know, you get audio.

00:45:40   They're working with content providers to do video, so you could ask it what the news

00:45:43   is, and little, I guess, Steve Inskeep from NPR walks out on your Echo and tells you the

00:45:49   news.

00:45:50   "Oh, they should do it that way!"

00:45:51   Right?

00:45:52   Where like, someone's walking across the bottom of the screen and they're like, "Hey there!

00:45:55   Let me tell you about the news!"

00:45:57   Yeah, I'd be off for that.

00:46:00   Alright, we're gonna pivot.

00:46:01   Pivot, everyone!

00:46:02   It seems like it'll do YouTube playback, although I'm not quite sure if it's like a YouTube

00:46:05   client or you just talk to it and it pulls you something.

00:46:08   If you're listening to Amazon Music, so if you like any of the six albums that are streaming

00:46:13   on Amazon Music, you can see the lyrics for those.

00:46:16   You can see footage from security cameras that connect with the Echo service.

00:46:23   I have NestCams at home and I have a Canary, neither of them work with this, so I'm questioning

00:46:28   everything about my security camera setup.

00:46:31   But you could ask it to show security footage from the front porch and it shows you a live

00:46:34   stream of that, which is super nice.

00:46:36   - It works with two different providers right now.

00:46:38   It's Ring, who do the doorbells and cameras,

00:46:41   and it's one of a company's name I can't remember.

00:46:43   I'd never heard of them before.

00:46:45   - Yes, that is-- - You think Arlo camera?

00:46:48   - Yeah, Arlo.

00:46:49   - Yeah, that's Netgear, I think.

00:46:51   It's the Netgear brand for cameras,

00:46:53   if I recall correctly, I think.

00:46:55   - Okay, so that, I think, is pretty compelling.

00:47:00   They're gonna have some other stuff on there,

00:47:02   weather forecast, you can see your shopping list,

00:47:04   the do list, and that sort of stuff.

00:47:06   So it is a way to sort of bring that content more to life

00:47:11   than just what they can do with just a speaker.

00:47:14   So it seems like kind of a natural evolution.

00:47:18   But they're also adding video conferencing

00:47:20   via this Echo and the companion mobile app.

00:47:23   And it seems like they're doing audio calling

00:47:24   for all devices, so we could talk on our Echos,

00:47:28   if your iPhone isn't nearby, I guess, I don't know.

00:47:30   But I did sort of laugh.

00:47:34   Our friend Zach who writes at 9to5Mac tweeted,

00:47:37   "Echo with a camera and no display."

00:47:38   So I'm talking about last week.

00:47:39   "Creepy, echo with a camera and a screen, okay."

00:47:43   So like, I kinda laugh at that.

00:47:45   - I'm sure you can see the difference, right?

00:47:48   Like I know why.

00:47:49   - What's the difference?

00:47:50   - Okay, so one of the reasons people find the look,

00:47:52   I guess a little bit creepier,

00:47:53   although I don't think it is,

00:47:54   which we were talking about last week,

00:47:56   that's going in the bedroom, right?

00:47:58   Like I think that's one of the things

00:47:59   is it's going in the bedroom,

00:48:01   which is what people don't like.

00:48:02   - Yeah, that's how they're marketing it.

00:48:04   So that's I think that the marketing that you were seeing for the look was kind of different.

00:48:09   I don't know. I don't think they're creepy, but I can see why people would say that. Plus

00:48:14   there is this weird thing about the screen. It's like, oh, I know these devices, but no

00:48:20   screen. It's like, what are you doing in there? You know, like there's just this like nebulousness

00:48:25   about it when you, when there's like no UI. So you're like, are you looking at me? Like

00:48:30   You can't see what it's doing because it's giving you no visual and it's got lights and

00:48:35   stuff or whatever.

00:48:36   But like we're used to like I'm looking at the big screen right now and as a camera on

00:48:39   top there's another one right there, there's another one right there.

00:48:41   I look at one all day.

00:48:42   I'm used to that.

00:48:43   But like these little cameras that just sit there quietly, they're a little bit more creepy

00:48:48   looking I think.

00:48:49   Because it's a security camera, right?

00:48:51   Like I think we're maybe a little bit more like there are any security cameras all around

00:48:55   us.

00:48:56   We don't know who's looking at.

00:48:57   This is a different mental thing.

00:48:58   But I do get the joke.

00:48:59   Yeah, I think I think it's a fair assessment I agree with you like it's just the the marketing

00:49:04   But yes, they're gonna be a video conferencing video conferencing with it, which I think is really interesting

00:49:10   This comes at a time where any smartphone iPhone or not can do video conferencing

00:49:16   And Myke I think you have some thoughts around like the pros and cons of that

00:49:20   Yeah, I think it's kind of strange too. So this this device this echo show you're gonna set it up in a place in your house

00:49:27   Right, it's probably gonna be the kitchen because that's where most people tend to put their echoes

00:49:32   It may change with this device

00:49:34   But like let's just imagine it's all gonna go in the kitchen

00:49:36   If you want to make a video call like everyone has to go to the kitchen and like stand in front of the device

00:49:42   It just seems strange to me like you're like, oh I need to call grandma

00:49:46   Let me go to the kitchen and then whatever all the whole family like huddles around the kitchen counter

00:49:50   To look at like we have our devices now that we have you can be anywhere you want to be and they're in your hand

00:49:56   and you're holding them up and it's fine, right? Like it's easy.

00:49:59   Yeah, but Amazon is adding calling and messaging to the Alexa app on iOS and Android.

00:50:03   No, that's great. That's awesome. I think that's great. That's a really good thing.

00:50:06   But I'm just saying like this one device, the Echo Show, right? Like the idea of there

00:50:11   being video conferencing on that one device just, it just seems strange to me. It's like,

00:50:16   it doesn't really feel like the setting in which you would make these calls. And for

00:50:20   having the audio calls, which is now coming to all of the devices, audio calling makes

00:50:24   way more sense to me for the same reasons that the Echo currently works. With audio

00:50:29   calling, you could be walking around a bit. You don't have to be looking at the device,

00:50:32   you can have your back to the device, especially if the microphones are as good as we think

00:50:36   they are. You could be on the other side of the room and it will pick you up fine when

00:50:40   you're speaking to people. And with audio calling, you can continue doing whatever you're

00:50:44   doing. So I could be, as I'm always doing when I'm using the Echo, I'm cooking. I can

00:50:49   be having an audio call. A video call whilst I'm cooking doesn't really work so well, so

00:50:54   So I can see why they're adding...

00:50:56   I don't know, maybe with your parents it could work, you know?

00:50:59   Why though?

00:51:00   I think for...

00:51:01   I mean, I do occasionally do FaceTime with my mom when I'm cooking just because, you

00:51:08   know, I just put the iPhone there and I do the video call.

00:51:11   I mean, sure, but then if you're moving away, right, like if the call... if you're not done

00:51:15   with the call and you're ready to leave the room, you just pick up the iPhone and you

00:51:20   take it with you, right?

00:51:22   My point is that I don't really think that for the video calling aspect, this gives us

00:51:26   anything that we need, that we don't already have served by other devices.

00:51:32   The only thing that it will do is that the hands free and it's all in the place, but

00:51:36   I just think that the audio calling makes more sense to me than the video calls, because

00:51:40   it just seems awkward.

00:51:41   But I don't know.

00:51:42   Who am I to say?

00:51:44   I don't know.

00:51:45   This looks kind of clever to me.

00:51:47   I was against the idea of the echo with the screen, and I was under the assumption that

00:51:51   But it was going to be a small screen, kind of like a glorified intercom, like a very

00:51:55   tiny display.

00:51:57   And I wasn't, I don't know, I wasn't under the impression that Amazon wanted to do like

00:52:03   a mini, like an iPad mini screen.

00:52:05   And this makes a lot more sense to me.

00:52:07   And the idea of this stationary display that just sits there, and you can view menus, and

00:52:13   you can view, you know, you can tap around if you want, you can view confirmation messages,

00:52:16   you can view lyrics, and you can do video calls without having to worry about using

00:52:22   a phone. I don't know, it kind of makes sense to me. There's sort of a relief about it.

00:52:27   You know, it just sits there and if I want to do a video call, I just sit there, otherwise

00:52:33   I don't. There's something about it.

00:52:34   Don't get me wrong. I think that this device makes as much sense as the Echo does for all

00:52:39   the things that it does, and it will be better, right? Like, the idea of being in the kitchen

00:52:44   and asking the questions and getting some visual prompts or like asking it to show me

00:52:48   a video like I agree with all of that like I think that stuff is good I think that is

00:52:52   a good advancement. The only thing that I just think is honestly superfluous is the

00:52:58   video conferencing I just don't think it's that necessary but I the product as a whole

00:53:04   I think it is a good continuation of the Amazon Echo line like it is a logical next step like

00:53:12   to move to continue to move down this road like what else can we do if we had

00:53:15   a screen oh we can have security cameras on there oh and we can show people video

00:53:19   like again if I'm working in Amazon I'm probably gonna put video conferencing in

00:53:23   the thing right because it's got a camera and a screen on it like you put

00:53:26   it in there yeah but but like I just don't think people are gonna use it but

00:53:31   I think that the audio calling is is clever I would be interested to see how

00:53:36   that takes off because like the Amazon companion app for these devices kind of

00:53:43   sucks. It's terrible. It's so bad. Just awful. I can't see how they're gonna do a good

00:53:48   experience of audio and video calling inside of the current application that

00:53:52   they have because it is terrible. Something about the video calling though

00:53:56   that makes sense to me a lot and I do see your point there's the drop-in

00:54:02   feature. Basically if you have like an elderly relative and they have an echo show, it just

00:54:09   sits there, you can drop in and check in on them without having to teach them how to,

00:54:15   for example, use the facetime UI on the phone. And there's something about it, it's like

00:54:18   a remote camera for someone that you want to check in with.

00:54:23   That's kind of weird though. It is, but it also kind of, I mean...

00:54:26   I don't think I like that. I can see why you would like that, I don't like that.

00:54:31   my grandma was alive, I would have liked something like this, honestly. To be able to drop in

00:54:37   and check in on her. And she used to live alone, you know? And this would have been

00:54:41   useful, I think.

00:54:42   Yeah, I agree in like, in those scenarios, like the scenario you have painted there,

00:54:50   that is a good reason to have something like this. I struggle to think of anything outside

00:54:54   of elderly care and childcare where you would want something like that.

00:54:58   Yeah.

00:54:59   Can you explain this? I don't think I've seen this feature. What is this drop-in feature?

00:55:02   So like you can just pop in?

00:55:04   I'm only reading through the webpage on the Amazon website, but basically there's the normal

00:55:11   calling. So you can do voice calling, you can do video calling, and there's drop-in.

00:55:15   And my understanding is you gotta authorize some contacts,

00:55:18   Amazon describes them as closest family and friends, to be able to just drop in and

00:55:27   check in on them. And I assume there's going to be like a simplified UI or a simplified

00:55:31   prompt to be able to initiate video calling. That seems to be the idea. I don't know. There's

00:55:38   an FAQ on the website that says, "Can I specify who gets to drop in on me?" And Amazon says,

00:55:45   "Yes, you choose who, if anyone, can drop in on you. You also choose which devices are available

00:55:50   for drop-in. For example, you might turn on drop-in for the Echo Show in the kitchen,

00:55:54   but not for the icon show in the living room.

00:55:57   Okay, I mean, okay, I can see the benefits of this feature, but I don't...

00:56:03   It's a very narrow use case, I think.

00:56:05   I don't know if I like it, right?

00:56:07   I don't know, I don't know about that, I don't know about that.

00:56:11   Just because like, say with the canary, right?

00:56:14   You can do that when I set it in certain modes,

00:56:18   and you have like, the mode has to be changed for the camera to be viewable.

00:56:21   this is kind of a little bit like you could just pop in on anyone at any point.

00:56:26   I don't know, it just seems a bit strange. But there are uses, right? Like we've established

00:56:30   them. There are definite use cases for this, but I can just see like

00:56:34   uncomfortable conversations. Yes, yes. You know, and also I love the idea of friends.

00:56:43   Who is giving this to their friends, not their family? No, not to their friends, but you know.

00:56:50   I will give one to my parents, honestly, and to tell them, "Okay, just put this in the

00:56:56   kitchen, don't do any weird stuff in the kitchen, oh God." And anytime I want, I can drop in

00:57:02   on you guys. You see? You have to have that conversation.

00:57:07   No one wants to, right? But that's it. That's the conversation. It's like you could just

00:57:11   you could pop in and then, "Oh, I don't like it, man."

00:57:13   I assume there's going to be like, like the assistant whose name I won't say, will be

00:57:18   be like there's a drop-in incoming from Federico in five seconds, something like that, I assume.

00:57:24   I don't know, we gotta see it in practice. A lot of what Amazon is doing with the Echo

00:57:30   sort of floats between genius and uncomfortable, this whole product line.

00:57:36   That is the way of pushing this stuff forward though, right? Like all of these types of

00:57:41   assistants very frequently, they're gonna fly too close to the sun, right? Like that

00:57:47   is kind of the way that we move this technology forward is every now and then something's

00:57:53   going to be great and every now and then something's too close to being weird, right? And it's

00:57:57   like it is a balance that they have to find, but they have to go that far to know how far

00:58:03   they can go. But there are strange points about it, right? So it's like you can take

00:58:08   these features and they can be terrifying and really useful for different people. Like

00:58:15   I don't really like the sound of this feature, but I can understand that some people could

00:58:20   find real genuine use in it. But I think that it makes me feel uncomfortable, honestly.

00:58:29   But I can appreciate the use in it. I'm not just going to blanket say that it's creepy,

00:58:35   because I don't think it is, but it just is for me. I just don't like the thought of it.

00:58:39   Not that, you know, I'm not like doing, I don't know, cooking meth or anything.

00:58:43   Can I drop in on you, Myke?

00:58:47   I really don't, I just don't want you to. I mean, you know, like I'm sometimes I'm in

00:58:51   my underwear, right? Like that's just the thing. I'm in my home. Leave me alone. All

00:58:55   right. I'm in my home. It's my home. I do what I want. I don't want you popping in.

00:58:59   Yeah. I won't drop in. Don't worry. I just dropped in on Steven. It's fine.

00:59:04   It's like I won't drop in that often, you know.

00:59:07   It's okay with it. He told me he preferred to show he's okay with it. So yeah.

00:59:12   So here's the thing, right? This product is not shipping for like seven weeks. Now apparently

00:59:18   there are rumors that Google might be getting ready to show a very similar product to Google

00:59:22   I/O next week. I've seen some rumors of that. That's kind of interesting, right? Amazon

00:59:28   were like "well, here we go! June 28th!"

00:59:31   Do you think it was announced before Google just to put the pre-orders in, for example?

00:59:36   Yeah, I do. I do. This is a thing that companies do, right? Like, big competitor has an event

00:59:43   in like a week. We have a product that's nearly ready to go. Why don't we just announce the

00:59:50   product now? Right? Like this is a thing that these companies do because you don't know

00:59:54   what they're going to have, right? Lots of companies do this to Apple, for example, right?

00:59:58   There's an Apple event on the horizon. Let's make sure we all get our phone announcements

01:00:02   out now because we have no idea what they're about to do.

01:00:06   Yeah, like what's the name of the headphone company? Bragi? Bragi?

01:00:10   Oh yeah.

01:00:11   With the AirPods? They just held an event in Cupertino like a day before the Apple one.

01:00:17   So yeah, I do, I get it, I get it. Makes sense.

01:00:20   I had an interesting conversation with my spouse about this last night. You know, it

01:00:23   was heavily rumored that it was coming and, like I've talked about, we use the Echo, it's

01:00:27   in our kitchen like everyone else's is.

01:00:29   And she was, I pre-ordered one,

01:00:32   so we'll see how this goes,

01:00:33   but I was surprised to hear her hesitancy

01:00:36   to put something like this in the kitchen

01:00:38   because it had a screen.

01:00:39   Not the camera thing, but that she wasn't in love

01:00:44   with the idea of having a screen,

01:00:46   having that sort of technology in the kitchen

01:00:48   that she likes, that the Echo is just a voice assistant.

01:00:51   You speak to it, so you're not kinda glued to looking at it.

01:00:54   I found that interesting,

01:00:57   and so this thing may end up just in my office with me,

01:01:00   but the way Amazon presents is like

01:01:02   you have one in your kitchen,

01:01:03   you have one in your living room.

01:01:04   Like they are trying to build an ecosystem

01:01:07   where you have this thing sort of like

01:01:09   ever present in your house.

01:01:10   And if this sticks in my household,

01:01:13   you know, we'll have to put the tall echo somewhere.

01:01:15   So maybe that comes in the office

01:01:16   and the dot goes in the bedroom or something, you know?

01:01:18   But it's, I found that interesting that she didn't want,

01:01:23   like that level of technology in the kitchen.

01:01:26   She likes the Echo 'cause you can ignore it

01:01:28   unless you want it, but a screen,

01:01:31   the kids are gonna wanna look at it all the time

01:01:33   and it's distracting.

01:01:34   And usually, I don't know how y'all's kitchens are,

01:01:36   but where Echo is is very often stuff gets

01:01:38   set in front of it, so we'd have to deal with that.

01:01:42   It's just an interesting change from having something

01:01:47   that is just a voice system.

01:01:48   - What I find fascinating is the reverse approach

01:01:51   that Amazon is taking with getting developers

01:01:53   to build stuff for the Echo platform.

01:01:55   So take Apple for instance, or even Google.

01:01:58   They both started with the main OS on the phone,

01:02:01   and they get developers to build apps.

01:02:03   So native apps, the basic component is the app.

01:02:06   And over the years, both Apple and Google

01:02:08   have added all of these extra pieces on top of the app.

01:02:11   So extensions, widgets, the Siri API, and iMessage.

01:02:16   Instead, Amazon is starting from the very extra pieces.

01:02:19   So they're starting with the Echo skills,

01:02:22   So very rudimentary skills.

01:02:23   You can talk to the Echo

01:02:24   and you can receive audio responses.

01:02:26   Then they added on top, you know, more textual components,

01:02:30   a deeper API, deeper conversations,

01:02:32   and AI APIs the developers could integrate with.

01:02:37   Now they're adding a visual UI.

01:02:40   I assume there's going to be, if not today,

01:02:42   there's going to be eventually an announcement

01:02:43   of with the Echo SDK,

01:02:45   you will be able to build visual interfaces.

01:02:49   And so Amazon is getting closer to having this app ecosystem that didn't start from

01:02:54   the traditional App Store, well they tried with the Amazon App Store and the Fire Phone,

01:02:59   but now they're trying again with the reverse approach of the main platform owners, which

01:03:04   are Apple and Google, and instead they're starting from these islands and they're eventually

01:03:10   maybe going to have their own OS, but in a different way.

01:03:14   I find that very fascinating and different from the rest of the industry, honestly.

01:03:19   Yeah, I feel like of everyone that is doing this, I mean, and we'll see what Google come

01:03:24   out with and we'll see what Apple may eventually come out with. But, you know, like in the

01:03:28   world and these things currently exist, right, there are Cortana devices starting to pop

01:03:32   up. Amazon definitely seems the most serious, right? Like they are the ones that are really

01:03:39   putting a lot of weight behind this. I feel like the, I mean, the Google Home doesn't

01:03:44   really seem to have really pushed forward. And, you know, I hope that we see something

01:03:49   from them next week. But, you know, like it was like, oh, we're going to add these different

01:03:53   integrations and they added some and that was kind of it. Where Amazon is very much

01:03:57   just like, we're an open platform, come and do what you need. And I feel like that there

01:04:02   is more advancement going on here than there is with our companies, especially when this

01:04:08   This is like what the fifth device, Echo device?

01:04:12   Yeah.

01:04:13   Right?

01:04:14   Because they did what the regular one, the dot, the little Bluetooth, the little battery

01:04:17   powered one.

01:04:18   Yeah.

01:04:19   Then the look and now the show, right?

01:04:20   Yeah.

01:04:21   They are really iterating quickly.

01:04:22   Yeah.

01:04:23   And continuing to advance their technology.

01:04:27   This is a serious play for Amazon.

01:04:29   Nobody knows how well these things actually sell, but however many it is, it's enough

01:04:34   money or enough sales for Amazon to believe that they're onto something to the point that

01:04:38   they will continue to keep making and releasing new devices.

01:04:42   What should be, maybe to a degree, concerning for Apple is the degree that Amazon is going

01:04:48   out for developers by offering them APIs to do stuff like OCR AI features in the cloud.

01:04:57   So to get developers to rely on their platforms, kind of like they did for websites with the

01:05:02   AWS, they're doing now for machine learning, for AI features, computer vision, OCR, all

01:05:12   of these modern implementations. They're getting developers to rely on them. And they're also

01:05:18   saying, now you can use those SDKs and those APIs from us in your Amazon Echo skills and

01:05:26   apps. You can also implement them in other iOS apps. So they're kind of gaining a foothold

01:05:31   in the developers ecosystem in a different way.

01:05:34   And that is why I believe eventually,

01:05:37   Apple is gonna get serious about telling developers,

01:05:39   "Well, now you can also have our API

01:05:43   for AI machine learning, OCR,

01:05:46   all of these modern computer vision stuff.

01:05:49   You can have them natively from us as well."

01:05:51   Maybe it's gonna be a cloud kit component,

01:05:54   but if you look at Amazon,

01:05:55   what they're doing with the Echo platform,

01:05:57   with the voice services and with the AI stuff,

01:06:00   even if you look at Microsoft,

01:06:01   with the, it used to be called Project Oxford,

01:06:05   now I think it's called Microsoft Cognitive Services.

01:06:08   But both companies are serious about getting developers

01:06:11   to rely on this stuff, voice activation,

01:06:14   text processing, text to speech, speech to text,

01:06:17   all of these modern features that Apple doesn't offer

01:06:19   in the cloud, it doesn't offer as a cloud kit component.

01:06:23   And I think Apple eventually has to get serious

01:06:24   about this space otherwise developers are gonna rely

01:06:27   on Amazon just like website owners rely on Amazon today

01:06:30   CDNs and you know any kind of content delivery really. So Stephen you mentioned

01:06:36   you'd ordered one right? I did yep. The shows okay and Federico are you gonna I

01:06:42   mean it's not available it's outside of the US right now. Yes but thanks to our

01:06:46   common friend John I indirectly pre-ordered one and I assume I will get

01:06:53   it eventually you know UPS. So you're not going via a sketchy eBay salesperson. Well I

01:06:59   Well I mean, I don't think Jon is a sketch individual.

01:07:03   So no, not the...

01:07:05   You see?

01:07:06   No, no, he's a great guy.

01:07:07   So he's gonna ship one to me from the US.

01:07:11   Hopefully it'll work just as the Echo from the US works in Italy, which is, you don't

01:07:16   get most of the location stuff, but you get everything else.

01:07:20   I'm probably gonna do exactly what I did last time.

01:07:23   Like a bit of a wait and see.

01:07:25   I wanna see how you guys react to it, because I'm not really that keen on doing that.

01:07:29   whole thing of like buying one from the US getting it shipped to me because I

01:07:34   like what I currently have I'm fine with it like I'm not I'm not aching for a

01:07:38   touchscreen version of this I think it would be nice but like I'm not like oh

01:07:41   if only you know it's not really a thing that I have but if if you guys get it

01:07:46   and or people start to get it and love it as much as they love the original one

01:07:50   then maybe I'll maybe I'll pick one up when I'm in some time in America I mean

01:07:57   What is it like end of June this thing comes out or it's maybe sometime in August or something.

01:08:02   But yeah I mean or they may just announce it in the UK which Amazon you have such strange

01:08:09   product sales very peculiar. So we'll see but yeah that is it the Amazon Echo Show.

01:08:17   What do you think I'd name by the way? I mean I've made jokes about it but like.

01:08:21   I like it. Yeah it does the job right? I think so.

01:08:25   Yeah.

01:08:26   One of our show notes for this week, Relay.fm/Connected/141 thanks to Encapsula and Away for sponsoring

01:08:33   this week's episode.

01:08:34   If you'd like to find Federico online, he's over at MacStories.net, he's @Fatici on Twitter,

01:08:40   V-I-T-I-C-C-I, and of course, as well as his shows on Relay FM, Federico hosts the App

01:08:45   Stories podcast, which is, it's AppStories.net, right Federico?

01:08:48   Yes, yes.

01:08:49   You can go check that out.

01:08:51   Steven is at 512pixels.net, he's @ismh on twitter and he is the producer. So fancy,

01:08:58   I called him a producer at the start of the show, but he is the actual producer of Download

01:09:04   on Relay FM, you should go check it out at relay.fm/download. So it's a great show, it's

01:09:09   getting better and better every single week, you should go check it out. I am @imike, I

01:09:13   am YKE and I don't really do anything else. Thanks so much for listening, until next time,

01:09:17   say goodbye guys. Adios.