Ministry Bits Returns Aug. 4

That's right, Ministry Bits will be back August 7. We still have the same old feed so you can just search iTunes or your favorite podcatcher and listen or re-listen to some old episodes, some of which have aged incredibly well.

I heard from so many people about how the podcast helped them with technology, so I'm bringing it back. The reason why it left in the first place? Well, in a sense, time. I just didn't have the time to dedicate to it like I wanted. But I miss it, and I want to help as many people as I can make their ministries better with technology.

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Highlights from the Apple Keynote

If you'd like to know what Apple said and announced today in one succinct list, look no further. Looks like a lot of great improvements coming to all four platforms. 

watchOS 3

  • 7X faster
  • Apps launch instantly, info is updated in the background
  • Swipe from left to right to switch watch faces
  • New watch faces - Simplicity and Activity
  • Activity sharing with other watch users
  • New app: Breathe - helps with breathing exercises to combat stress
  • Free upgrade in the Fall

tvOS

  • Sling TV app announced today
  • New Apple TV Remote app, also functions as a controller
  • Siri on TV: search by topics now (i.e. "Find high school comedies from the 80's)
  • Also: "Search YouTube for ---" 
  • Launch apps for Live TV: "Watch ESPN 2"
  • Install apps with Siri as well: "Install MLB app"
  • Single sign-on for app authorization to watch TV
  • Dark mode

macOS

  • Renamed from Mac OS X
  • New version named macOS Sierra
  • Auto Unlock - authenticate from you Apple Watch
  • Universal Clipboard - images, video, text pasted from your iOS device
  • iCloud Drive - all your files available everywhere
  • Optimized Storage - older files compressed to free up space on your Mac
  • Apple Pay - now on the web, securely authorize using Touch ID on your iPhone
  • Tabs - in multiple-windowed apps like Maps
  • Picture-in-Picture - video inlay on top of apps
  • Siri - find files, follow-up commands, play music, search the web, message
  • Available in the Fall as a free upgrade

iOS 10

  • Biggest iOS release ever
  • User Experience: redesigned lock screen with 3D Touch support
  • Clear All with 3D Touch (finally!)
  • Control Center also redesigned
  • Slide from the right to access Camera instantly, slide left for Widgets
  • More info on 3D Touch app widgets
  • Siri API for developers - devs can now write apps for Siri
  • QuickType - now with Siri intelligence 
  • Photos - advanced computer vision on the phone such as facial recognition
  • Advances AI to analyze content of photos, on the device
  • Maps - new design, open to developers
  • Music - all new Apple Music app designed from the ground up
  • News - all new design, clear sections
  • HomeKit - new app called Home, control your home, integrated with Siri
  • Phone - voicemail transcripts 
  • VoIP API so Slack, Facebook, Skype can be taken like regular phone calls
  • Messages - rich links, play videos right inline, bigger emojis, bubble effects

ERGO Bluetooth Earbud: The Perfect Podcast Listening Companion?

"Why don't we make wireless earbuds?" I said.

I think it was the the third or fourth time that my headphone cords had gotten caught on my push mower's handles while mowing the yard that I asked that question to myself the other day. "At this point," I told myself, "we really should have the means to create something like wireless earbuds."

I know what you're saying right now too - "But Chad, we already have wireless headphones!" Yes, you're right, we do. But not truly cordless or wireless.

99% of the "wireless" headphones these days actually have a wire that connects them. They are Bluetooth and therefore not physically connected to your device, but they still have those wires that get in the way.

So over the last week or so, I've been on a crusade to find a true, wireless earbud. And no joke, I found a decent one for thirteen dollars.

You read that correctly. While not without cons, this earbud has sparked my imagination for what the future could hold.

It all started when I read Jon Li's excellent article entitled The Future of Technology is in Your Ear. He did the same experiment with the $13 wireless earbud named the ERGO Invisible Bluetooth Earbud. I invite you to read his excellent article, because he and I agree on a lot. Here's my observations.

Freedom without wires (of any kind) is awesome. If the ERGO did one thing well, it was that it casted audio to my ear wirelessly from my phone in my pocket without problems. There are no wires to speak of, just a small earbud with one button that fit into my ear and didn't jostle out with moderate activity. Getting in and out of the car without hassling with wires was great. Walking around my office talking on the phone with it was wonderful.

It might be perfect for those who listen to podcasts. It was great for listening to podcasts, which is what I'm listening to most of the time. Spoken word doesn't need a lot of bass or range, it just needs to be clear. I did find that the treble was a little high on some shows, i.e. people's "S's" would sound harsh. But the earbud got plenty loud for me at only 50% volume while driving in the car.

Not so great is listening to music. This is an earbud that's not designed for a lot of range or fidelity, and with it only being in one ear, it's not ideal for music. To me, listening to a podcast in one ear while being able to hear what's around me was kind of great. So if you're a music lover and listener, you better pass on this.

Receiving calls is fine. In the few phone calls I used this earbud for, it did a pretty good job considering it's only $13. My person on the other end said it always sounded as if I was talking on speakerphone, but they could still hear me just fine. So, maybe not ideal for long conversations, but short ones would probably work.

Battery life is pretty terrible. The first day I got the earbud, I didn't charge it at all and got almost two hours of listening to a podcast through it before it gave me a low battery warning. Ever since, two hours seems to be the most it can get. And for a tiny earbud that's only $13, you can't expect much. The Batteries widget on the iPhone is helpful as well, but even leaving the earbud on charge for several hours, it never registered above 70%. Again, thirteen dollars.

I think about all the implications of this kind of device. There are other true wireless bluetooth headphones out there, but none this cheap. This little device made me really start thinking that if someone like Apple with Beats really put the wood behind the arrow on something like this, how awesome could the future be - in your ear?