Apple

  • In the battle of the Virtual Assistants (VA), it seems like everything else, there are too many choices. Alexa, SIRI, Google Assistant, and Cortana are practically household names at this point. While each has their particular set of benefits, no one AI (i.e. Artificial Intelligence, because that’s what we’re really talking about here) can fulfill every request made of it. With next year’s pending launch of my company’s (PTC) flagship PLM platform, Windchill (integrated with Microsoft Azure’s cloud solution)—facilitating manufacturers’ efforts to rollout NPIs (i.e. new product introductions)—I thought it would be interesting to explore some aspects of where VAs/AIs are these days in a practical sense from home to business. I’d venture to guess that most homes feature more than one VA. The Digtal Batman household runs both SIRI on our iPhones/iPod and AppleTV 4K, and we run an Echo Dot featuring Alexa. It’s interesting to note the significant differences for our needs. For example: Alexa comes in handy when playing music from Amazon Music Unlimited and radio broadcasts over IHeartRadio. Whereas, SIRI dials our phone numbers, reads our texts, provides us with navigation, and helps us search/navigate our Apple TV 4K streaming device. Conversely, like most PTC employees running Windows 10 on their laptops, Cortana can easily be enabled. But I think it would be a little weird if everyone in the open seating at Seaport HQ started talking into their computers all at once! Though I haven’t used “Okay Google” in a while, it does come in handy for general searches and navigating the plethora of online/cloud‐based productivity, calendar, and meeting tools available—especially if you’re using Google Chrome. And what’s really interesting is now each of these separate VA platforms are starting to work together: organizing calendars across different devices (like cell phones), providing email from multiple...
  • For all the flack that Apple gets for its proprietary and closed ecosystem of hardware, software, and cloud-based services, there’s a lot of good that comes out of it as well. This article will look on the “bright-side” of why having and using an Apple ID over your Macs and iPhones/iPads/iPods, and AppleTV can be not only a robust tool to help you get things done, and do cool stuff with, but also can be a real life saver—digitally speaking of course! What is an Apple ID? To put is succinctly, an Apple ID is an email address that you give to Apple when you set up a new Apple device such as an iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, or a Mac computer running the latest Mac OS. Your Apple ID is also linked to your iCloud account, which allows you to integrate all your “Apple i” devices into a single place. Linking your Mac and iPhone macOS (as of this writing: April 2017, OS X, version 10.12, a.k.a. Sierra) just loves your Apple ID! What’s even better is when you get a shinny new iPhone (say the iPhone 7) running iOS 10 (as of this writing, 10.3.1), and you set it up with that same Apple ID, all kinds of good stuff happens! For example: say you’re working on an article for your employer (like an online tech tip and tutorial blog), and you’re working on a Mac mini running Sierra. Your iPhone is currently recharging in the next room. However, you get a phone call (yes, people still do that sort of thing). Whatever do you do? Fear thee not! Let your Mac do the talking… Yes, as long as everything is set up correctly, and you have audio capabilities with your Mac (who wouldn’t?), then when you get a call, a...
  • Mobile communications such as text messaging, Facebook Messenger, Twitter Direct Messaging, SnapChat, Skype, and FaceTime are all seeking to supplant Email these days as the preferred form of digital communications. Not so for business or for professionals where Email still reigns supreme. Email access essentially comes in two forms: Email Software, or Client-based Email – E.g. Microsoft Outlook (costly subscription fees), Mac Mail (comes with Mac OS X), and Thunderbird (free open-source download) to name a few. Cloud Email – E.g. Google Mail (GMail), Yahoo Email, or AOL Email (yes, it still exists)—all free and accessible via a web browser Let’s delve into the key differences between them with an eye on how each form manages Email in their own unique ways. It should be noted that regardless of what method of accessing your Email is used, all Email actually sits on a server somewhere in “The Cloud” and simply waits for you to get it one way or another. Email Software Client-based (meaning: on your computer) Email still has many years of unparalleled usefulness that other services can’t match—the main advantage being security. Say you’re an employee at Company X and check your email like everyone else does everyday. You can rest assured that the Email sitting behind your company’s firewall is as secure as it gets. Even when logging in from home, you are usually using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to establish a secure connection between your laptop and your company’s Email servers. There’s very little chance of your Email being hijacked as you send your messages to your fellow employees or out to your clients. Microsoft Outlook allows a massive amount of Email filtering features, rich text (like HTML) messages, Email organization into shared and group folders across the entire organization, remote Email access via a Web-Outlook interface, and comes in cross-platform versions for Mac OS X and Windows (all versions). And the final advantage is group organization capabilities like employee calendars, scheduling...