Apr 16

Last month I described a bug in Apple Pages which caused Pages to place hidden color information in greyscale documents. This is fine if you are printing at home but if you take those documents to a commercial printer you will be charged at color copy rates instead of black and white. At our local Officeworks store this means paying 65 cents per page instead of 8 cents.

Today Apple support contacted me to say that they are very sorry but that this is not a bug. It is the way the software was designed. Apple Pages cannot print a greyscale document. It can only print in color. They suggested that I could put in a ‘feature request’ to request that Pages print in greyscale.

This is outrageous. Apple in its software clearly gives the impression that it is printing in greyscale. When users discover the extra costs they have been incurring this potentially opens Apple to litigation. The color selector tools in Pages are clearly misleading. Let me explain.

Selecting text color in Pages

Pages has a color tool to select text color. There are 4 options you can use to select text color. You can use a Greyscale slider, RGB sliders, CMYK sliders or HSB sliders.

You can select text color using 4 methods. One of them is a ‘greyscale’ slider.

Apple’s ‘Greyscale’ is not true greyscale – it contains color.

‘RGB’,’CMYK’ and ‘HSB’ allow to to select a color, but Pages also has an option to print in ‘greyscale.’ You may think that if you choose ‘greyscale’ you are getting a percentage of black, but you are not. You are getting a grey that has some blue or red added. While it may look like greyscale on the screen, when Pages prints it uses red or blue ink as well as black.

‘greyscale’ on Apple Pages in not true greyscale, it contains some hints of color

The problem with having some color in your greyscale is that if you take your document to a commercial printer it will be detected as a color page and cost 65 cents per page (color printing rates) instead of 8 cents.

Forcing true greyscale doesn’t work

The way to get around this greyscale problem should be to use the CYMK sliders to create a ‘true’ greyscale with no color information in it. This works in other software like Microsoft Word, but not in Pages.

Here’s where things get deceptive… If you use the CYMK sliders to force a true ‘greyscale’ Pages still prints in color!

The ‘CMYK’ sliders should allow you to select the exact proportions of ink that you would like to use. ‘C’ refers to the cyan ink that is printed on the page, ‘M’ refers to the magenta ink and ‘Y’ yo yellow. K refers to black.

To print in ‘true’ greyscale using only black toner you can set 0%C 0%Y and 0%M this should give a true greyscale with no color ink.

Pages ‘appears’ to give you the option to print in true greyscale with no color toner.

As you can see in this screenshot above, I have select to print using pure black ink. It ‘appears’ to be true greyscale, but it’s not! When this ‘greyscale’ text is printed Pages still inserts some color into the printed page. Even though I have chosen to use black ink only, Pages adds color ink without any indication that it is doing so.

The biggest problem here is not that you can’t print in black and white. The biggest problem is that Pages is giving you the impression that you are printing in black and white when in fact it is sending color information to the printer.

The biggest problem is that Pages is giving you the impression that you are printing in black and white when in reality it is sending color information to the printer.

If your workplace is using Apple pages and it prints any greyscale documents this will be costing them money. If a workplace is on a commercial printing plan where they pay different rates for color or black and white copies this will be costing them money. This is extremely hard to track down in a large organisation that has multiple users printing in both black and white and color and where the accounts are paid by the accounts department who don’t know which documents you are trying to print. So when the accounts department tell you to use less color to reduce printing costs, it may in fact be that you are not using color but Pages is turning your greyscale documents to color!

If your workplace is using Apple pages and it prints any greyscale documents at all this will be costing them money.

The worst part is that Apple is covering this problem up and failing to acknowledge the problem.

Feel free to leave a comment below if you think you may have been affected by this issue. And also feel free to make a ‘feature request’ to Apple about this. I guess the ‘feature’ you are asking for is that Apple don’t put color information in their greyscale, although I’m failing to see how this is a ‘feature’!

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Mar 18

I’ve never done a movie review before, but this looks great. It’s the story of some people who left Apple and tried to invent a smartphone… and failed… but paved the way for lots of other technology. Looks very interesting.

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Mar 07

It is against the YouTube terms and conditions to download a video from YouTube and put it into your Keynote presentation. But if you have the author’s permission you are allowed to stream a video from Youtube. The only way I know to do this is using a free application called ‘LiveSlides’

You can download the live slides application from here:

https://www.liveslides.com/download/mac

1. Open your presentation in Keynote.

2. Open Safari and get the Video URL

Open the video in your web browser – go to Youtube, open the video and right click and select ‘Copy URL’

3. Run LiveSlides

Launch ‘LiveSlides’ and paste the URL (Apple – V’ )into Liveslides. Liveslides will put the link for the live video into Keynote.

Now when you play your keynote presentation, it will download the Youtube video live from the Internet and play it.

Feb 05
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Oct 26

Google pixel phone

He is an article that I wrote two years ago when I first compared the Google pixel phone with my iPhone.  For some reason it wasn’t published!

It makes the observation that in 2011 Steve Jobs prophesied Google would be the main opposition to Apple and it seems this is now true.

“I think that while Steve Jobs wanted Apple to be mindful of all of its primary competitors, he wanted his company to be acutely aware of the one company that he believed would pose the greatest long-term danger to Apple.

He wanted Apple to have an enemy, a public enemy #1. And he wanted that enemy to be Google.”

Main Observations

 

Consistency of User Interface across Apps

Apple have a pretty rigorous process of accepting software into the app store so I thought the Apps on the iPhone would have a more consistent user interface.  But it turned out to be the opposite.  The applications on the Google phone have a more consistent interface and on the whole are easier to use. They all have a drop down help and settings menu with the same icon. And they have consistent buttons at the bottom of the screen across apps. For example look at these three completely different apps.

 

 

The first app is an Internet speed test app, the second app is a banking app from Westpac, and the third app is a music app but they all have the same 3 buttons along the bottom.  The left button is the back button. The middle button takes you back to the home screen, and the right button allows you to switch between apps. On the iPhone the back button can be anywhere.  on some apps it is in the bottom left, on some apps it is in the top left.

Finding and purchasing Apps

It’s also easier to find good apps on the Google app store because it seems to have a better rating system. Every app has a star rating and more people seem to take the time to write a review than on the Apple store. I would say android has a more involved base of users and so this makes the rating system and reviews on the store more useful.

Google’s Apps are nicer than Apple’s equivalent

I find the Google apps better than the corresponding Apple software. I’ve already written about this elsewhere but Google inbox is nicer than Apple’s mail app, Google calendar is nicer than Apple’s calendar, and so on.

Apps are familiar across platforms

The third-party iPhone apps and the Android store apps are pretty much identical.  For example with my banking apps,the tile app, the Bible, my guitar tuner, Slack, wunderlist, inbox etc  I would not know which phone I am on. The apps are almost identical to use.  (The only difference is that the Android phone has the 3  buttons along the bottom of the screen and the drop-down settings menu at the top.) The main difference between the Android phone and the iPhone comes in the switching between apps, the turning the phone on and off, the assistant, and the phone itself. The experience within the apps is similar.  The one exception I have found is the high end ‘Allen and Heath’ mixer app which is very buggy on Android compared to the iPhone.

Making Phone calls

The iPhone is a better phone. If you don’t really want a smart phone and you just want a phone to make phone calls on the iPhone is definitely easier to use as a phone, and has clearer audio on phone calls.  On the Google phone even after three months I sometimes find myself wanting to end a phone call and my phone is not on the phone screen anymore and it’s hard to work out how to get back to the phone screen. On the iPhone there is always  the bar along the top that allows me to return to the call in progress.  So Apple have certainly prioritised the phone app  over other apps and this to me was a useful thing which the pixel phone does not do.  The phone app on the pixel phone is no different to any other app.

Home Screen

The Google home screen is much better than the iPhone. You can add widgets to the phone screen. ( For example I have a widget that always  displays my current phone data usage.) You don’t need to have  every app on a screen.  Every app is available but if you want you can just have one screen of apps displayed. On the iPhone  all your apps appear as icons on the screen and if you don’t want to see them you have to hide them away in subfolders which is quite tedious.

Conclusions.

 

Three decades ago the war was between Microsoft and Apple and Apple won because they controlled the entire user experience, hardware and software.  They mastered the syncing problems. In 1998 it was the iMac – with it’s software suit that could surf the web, make movies and burn DVDs. Then Apple stunned us again in 2001 with the iPod – music syncing from the web to computer to portable device. In 2007 Apple turned the iPod into the gamechanging iPhone. It synced contacts, notes and music seamlessly. We threw out our Palm pilots and Blueberries and the iPhone won the day. These were major milestones and life changing technologies. But it’s now been 10 years, and from Apple it’s been evolution not revolution.  iPhone 2.  iPhone 3.  iPhone 4.  iPhone 5.  iPhone 6.  iPhone 7.

And so now the threat to Apple is not IBM or even Microsoft. It’s Google. Google are good at software. Their foray into the phone market is genius. Google bring their experience in maps, speech recognition, syncing, browser development and search engine experience to the Pixel phone.

The Microsoft Surface Pro is becoming the laptop of choice for professionals in IT circles. And my guess is that Google software will play more nicely with the Microsoft Surface Pro than Apple  software will.   If we diversify to a Google phone, an Apple iMac,  a Microsoft laptop and a Samsung tablet, Google may be the glue that holds it all together.   What software works seamlessly across all those platforms?  Google have already solved the problem!  Google Sheets.   Google Docs,  Google Photos, Google Keep.

Back in 2011 Steve Jobs recognised that Apple’s biggest threat would come from Google.  You may want to check out this very interesting Forbes Magazine article from 2011.

“I think that while Steve Jobs wanted Apple to be mindful of all of its primary competitors, he wanted his company to be acutely aware of the one company that he believed would pose the greatest long-term danger to Apple.

He wanted Apple to have an enemy, a public enemy #1. And he wanted that enemy to be Google.”

Apple needs to think this one through. I’ve been seduced by the Pixel phone. (Or in my case, the Nexus 5X.)  But it won’t stop there.  I’m already thinking of getting a Google chrome cast because now my major place for purchases is the Google play store, not iTunes. We are no longer tied to a hardware platform because of the software.

And I don’t think this is a bad thing.

I’m really enjoying my Google phone.

Oct 06

For all you Queenslanders (a state in Australia) who got woken up 1 hour early by your iPhones this morning. Here’s the fix:

Go to General Settings: Date and Time

Then de-select ‘automatically set time’.

iOS is setting Brisbane iPhones to Sydney time (with daylight saving).

That must be annoying!

Sep 28

There have been reports that the new iPhone XS has an automatic ‘Beauty Mode’ that smooths people’s skin. It is true that the new iPhone XS selfies do look a lot smoother than the previous iPhone X. This could be a ‘beauty mode’ but I doubt it. If Apple did have a deliberate beauty mode they would be crazy not to give users the option to turn it off. I think what is happening is that Apple are using noise smoothing.

Because of limitations in camera sensor technology when you take a photo in low light there is a ‘grain’ that appears in any photo. This happens on digital cameras, old film cameras and also on phone cameras. The less the light the more grain. If you try to take a photo in very low light you may have noticed this. Already phones compensate by raising the brightness of the photo in low light, and smoothing out the image to get rid of this grain.

I think what is happening here is that when the face detection technology detects a face, it sets the brightness of the whole photo to make the face clear. If the face is in low light, the iPhone XS will raise the brightness of the whole picture (hence the shirts etc changing colour in the examples) and it will also therefore apply some smoothing to the entire picture to reduce the grain caused by the low light. This could possibly cause the smoothing of skin blemishes as the phone can’t tell the difference between a skin blemish and the grain caused by low light.

Notice that it only happens on the lower quality ‘selfie’ camera. The main front camera will have a better sensor and so not need so much smoothing.

 

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Jul 27

We all loved the Mac vs PC ads, when Apple were taking the mickey out of PCs. Well the tables have turned with a clever set of ads from Samsung. You can see them all on Samsung’s Youtube channel here, but my favourite is this one…

 

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