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Edge Cases had an episode on “Apps for iWatch and Apple TV”, which got me to thinking how Apple might really make use of a wearable device and how it might work.  

Here’s my prediction:

The iWatch, or whatever Apple will call it, will be an accessory to an iOS device.  It may have limited functionality without a paired iOS device (a watch!), but when paired with an iOS device, it will become a a miniature input device.  Software will be written for iWatch in the form of iOS 8 Extensions.  If one accepts the premise that the iWatch will be an accessory to the iOS device, then it logically follows that programmability will be an accessory function to an iOS app.

As an example, consider how the “today” extension works:  As part of an iOS app, a Today extension allows that app to present very limited content in the Today view of Notification Center.  I predict that iWatch programmability will take the form of an iWatch extension that allows an iOS 8 app to present some limited information in the iWatch display.  The watch won’t need to be very smart — all the CPU power will live on the iOS device — and the iWatch display needn’t be very power-hungry:  even a monochrome LCD will be sufficient for this functionality.

iWatch will also allow the same sort of user input that apps can show on the locked home screen — the best example I can think of is the play/pause / skip forward/skip back control for a podcast app or for iTunes.  This will allow you to use the iWatch as your controller for playing audio without getting the iPhone / iPod / iPad out of your purse or pocket.The sensors required don’t need to be very smart — I imagine the functionality being limited to swipe up / down/ left / right   tap once / twice / thrice — maybe a few different tap zones on the watch for different functions.    it could also be used as a way for a user to trigger text-to-speech on an incoming text or email, again so that one doesn’t need to take the iOS device out to accomplish this.  I could see this being useful while driving, or walking / jogging, or doing yard work or housework — exactly the occasions where I’m usually listening to a podcast.

The advantages I see of this approach are: A) the cost of the iWatch can be lower than if there’s any CPU or power-hungry components.  B) Apple leverages the strength of the existing iOS app store and iOS app ecosystem as a way to get functionality on the iWatch.

Note:  Thanks to  for the Xcoders presentation on iOS Extensions!


Something I’ve been meaning to put up for a while: Its the promotional campaign for Office for Mac 2008 Business Edition in Japan. The text reads

やるね〜 ビジネス ( It really does it ~ Business )


ファミリー & アカデミック もあるね〜  ( There’s also the Family & Academic version )

やるね〜 ビジネス!

Here’s the Crystallize effect from iMovie 6.0.3 with an interpolator added to the radius, starring Zeke.


Gruber writes about the new MacBooks:

(ASIDE: I think — and this is nothing more than my own speculation here — that it’s more likely that a hypothetical really small (as in much smaller than even the Air), really cheap (as in less than $700) notebook computer from Apple would not be a Mac. It’d run some variant of “OS X” of course, but I think it’d resemble a hot-rodded big-screen iPhone with a keyboard, not a stripped down small-screen MacBook. The iPhone OS would run faster on a $600 netbook than it does on an actual iPhone. Mac OS X would run slower, probably a lot slower. Apple builds things up, notdown. Just my hunch. (Also: It’s too bad Apple has already used the name “iBook”.))

To which Olof thinks “How about ‘iPhoneBook’ ?”

So I’m teaching my son and three of his friends Physics. We gather one night every other week for two and a half hours and I talk Physics. Its a mix of explaining stuff, drawing pictures on our sketchboard, writing equations, working through problems and doing demos.

We’ve had three sessions so far and were doing some basic kinetics: velocity acceleration, force, kinetic energy. The last session was about rotational energy. The demo is watching things roll down a ramp: marbles of different weights and sizes, pieces of pipe, coins, washers and hot wheels cars. For the record, the hot wheels car beats the marble which beats the coin which beats the pipe, all because of the differing shape factors in the calculation of the moment of inertia. So far so good.

Anyway, I’ve resolved not to use calculus for any of the explanations. But my brain seems to be hard wired for thinking about this kind of physics in terms of the calculus approach, and I struggled with how to teach all those calculus ideas without the calculus itself, and how to let the kids have some access to calculation as a part of the physics learning.

Then I remembered about the Monte Carlo technique for calculating pi, and something deep inside my brain clicked: If I could teach the kids how to calculate pi by throwing darts, I could teach them about all the calculus ideas in kinematics without any calculus. Here’s how the story goes:

Lets say you put a square with a circle inscribed in it up on a dartboard. Or if you are good at darts, lots of little circles lined up in a square like this:

circles and square.jpg

Now, throw a dart at the dartboard. Stand far enough back so the dart lands randomly either inside one of the circles or not inside one of the circles. What’s the probability that the dart lands inside a circle? It is the same as the ratio of the area of a circle of diameter 1 to the area of a square of side length 1, or pi / 4.

OK, you aren’t impressed, because throwing one dart doesn’t tell us much about pi: Instead pi is telling us something about that one dart. However, throw enough darts so that 100 darts land inside the square, and I’ll bet somewhere between 75 and 82 of those also landed in one of the circles. Do it 10000 times, and between 7800 and 7900 darts will hit a circle. The more darts you throw, the closer the ratio will get to pi / 4.

OK, you still aren’t impressed, because no one would ever throw thousands of darts and the paper would get pretty ragged after all those darts. And some would land on the line and your friend Mike would say ‘inside the circle’ and you’d say “no, outside the circle” and then Chris would call ‘do-over’ and then someone would call for more cowbell and then where would you be?

But the point is that with computers there’s no need to actually throw darts — you can use the random number generator in JavaScript or AppleScript and get the same result. Here’s an apple script which calculates pi only with random numbers:

to getRandomDecimalBetween(min, max)
  set diff to max - min
  return (min + diff * (((random number from 1 to 50000) - 0.5) / 50000))
end getRandomDecimalBetween

set hitsInCircle to 0
set n to 10000
repeat n times
  set x to getRandomDecimalBetween(0, 1)
  set y to getRandomDecimalBetween(0, 1)
  if ((x * x + y * y) < 1) then -- point (x,y) must be inside the circle
    set hitsInCircle to hitsInCircle + 1
  end if
end repeat

set approximatePi to (4 * hitsInCircle) / n

and here’s a javascript version.

Essentially what the script does is choose a random point in a square on the xy plane with x and y both between 0 and 1. If x^2 + y^2 is less than 1, then the point counts as being inside the circle.

Now you are impressed, but are wondering how does this relate to physics? And the answer is that you can use the same technique to do “integrals” of some property of interest. So for example, if you want to calculate the moment of inertia of a body analytically, you do this integral (thanks wikipedia):


Which is ugly even for me, and I know what it means. But for a bunch of kids that don’t know calculus but can write a little script, its not hard to explain how to throw darts into a 3D space, and if you hit something, use the equations they learned the last time to calculate the kinetic energy of that little bit of the object rotating around some axis. That’s part of the homework I gave them this week. We’ll see if they come up with the right answers.

Sometimes, I feel humbled by the wisdom of computers.  Witness how Safari AutoFill populated the “Employer” field here:

Safari AutoFill

A shout out to JP and Keren, who have been doing Mac support. Their company is My Mac Hero

I was joking to Jon Rentzsch that Apple had delayed Leopard so that they could release it at C4[1], but then Wolf went and changed C4[1] to August. Personally, I was hoping for October again.

Anyway, Rentzsch is making announcements on twitter these days, so I set myself up an account. You can probably find me if you try.

Creo , the company I work for, mostly does prepress hardware and software. But Creo also provides some software for a broader audience. Recently, Creo released a pretty nifty utility called Tokens . Joel on Software has a nice write-up .

Tomo asks about whether the iPod has built-in support for marking particular locations within a song.

Here’s the use case: her hula group needs to practice different parts of a song repeatedly, and in whatever order feels most productive for the rehearsal. This means quickly switching to different points in a song: beginning of first verse, beginning of second verse, etc.

I know the iPod remote control can do a simple fast forward or reverse, but this doesn’t seem nearly as slick as being able to do one click (or two or three perhaps) to get to exactly the place where you want to get.

I suppose one could split a particular track up into many songs, so the iPod thinks of a four-minute song as a dozen twenty second songs, but that seems like overkill. Anyone have a good suggestion?