Why Doesn’t This Exist: A Smart Microwave

Microwave ovens are both extremely convenient, and terrible at cooking food. Why?

My family got our first microwave oven somewhere around 1980. It was huge, loud, and did a fairly poor job of cooking just about everything. 37 years later, not much has changed. The new models are a bit smaller, slightly quieter, and still miserable at cooking anything but popcorn.

In 2017, we can do better, and four key innovations can help.

First, let’s get rid of 2 dozens buttons and take advantage of modern voice recognition.

“Microwave, warm my tea.”, or “Microwave, cook my dinner.”

Second, a modern microwave needs to be a whole lot smarter. I have no idea what temperature my pork chop should be. Fortunately, an internet connected oven will.

But how will it know what I want to cook? Now that it’s got an internet connection, let’s use some machine learning to recognize the food automatically. If Apple can identify trees and puppies in the photos I take on my iPhone, surely my smart microwave can identify a pork chop. Right?

Which brings us to the final, fatal flaw of all microwaves. The food either comes out raw on the inside, or rock hard on the outside. But not in the smart microwave. It has an infrared food thermometer to automatically check the temperature of the inside of the food to know exactly when it’s done.

Now that is a microwave worthy of the 21st century!

WWDC 2017 Keynote Reactions

My quick thoughts on the WWDC Keynote this afternoon.

tvOS

  • Amazon Prime Video — yes! Coming later this year — ugh.
  • Crickets.

I really hope they put major effort behind this platform in the fall.

watchOS

Yawn. I have no interest in watchOS or the watch itself right now. My advice? Buy a Fitbit Alta and save yourself $150.

macOS

High Sierra is a stupid name. I get the theme here. It’s the logical successor to Leopard/Snow Leopard, but it still sounds dumb.

  • Faster Safari, Mail, Photos and Search improvements. All good.
  • Metal 2. Love it.
  • Was there anything else? Nothing memorable, but I hope it’s a ton of minor improvements that fix some of the irksome parts of Sierra.

iMac & iMac Pro

These are fantastic improvements to the iMac. Apple is coming out swinging here to show they’re still behind the Mac, and haven’t forgotten about the Pro user market.

I’d love to see this level of commitment across all of the Mac line, all throughout the year.

Anyone remember the Mac Mini while we’re at it?

iOS 11 for iPhone

  • Apple Pay for peer-to-peer payments. Brilliant. Hopefully it’s not iOS only. If you can’t make payments to Android users, that’s a major flaw.
  • Siri Translations — love it.
  • Augmented Reality. Now this was damned impressive. The demo by Wingnut AR was one of the most impressive things I’ve seen in a long time.

iPad Pro

Nice incremental bump for the smaller iPad Pro, but not much news for the larger device? Is it not selling well?

Affinity Photo is super impressive as well. That’s something only Photoshop could do not long ago. Now you can do that level of editing on a tablet. Maybe these things aren’t toys after all. Once the teens of 2017 become the workforce of 2025, the desktop market may be in trouble.

iOS 11 for iPad

Another very impressive section of the keynote. Clearly Apple is trying to blur the lines between iOS and the Mac by adding more productivity features.

  • The Dock. Nice touch.
  • Split View. The distinction between the left and right apps seems to have gone away. Neither appears to be the default “primary” app. Put things on the left or the right, as you prefer. Nice.
  • Drag and Drop. Check. Looks about like I’d expect.
  • App Switching. Much better. I particularly like how it remembers your app pairings.
  • Notes. Looks like solid improvements. I don’t care much about handwriting recognition, but inserting tables and photos are welcome additions.
  • PDF Printing and Annotations. Hell yes!

HomePod

Another poor name choice. I get that they have history with the “Pod” name, but HomePod just sounds odd. SiriPod? SiriHome?

Aside from the name, the device is about what I expected. It’s an Amazon Echo with a bigger focus on sound quality, Apple Music integration and a higher price tag. It looks fairly nice too.

Overall, I’m excited for this device. I already have an Echo, but this market is so new that I’m willing to experiment a bit to find the device that works best for me. Hopefully the HomePod will actually deliver that top-tier sound quality the Echo is missing, and tightly integrate with my Apple services — mail, calendar, notes, reminders, etc.

The big miss here is the timing. Shipping in December? That hurts. It gives Amazon and Google another six months to keep innovating and extending their leads. I may be willing to buy multiple devices, but I bet most consumers will not.

I also have concerns about whether Apple can deliver enough of these in time for Christmas. New Apple devices notoriously sell out quickly. If this thing goes on sale in early December and shipping dates jump to 2-3 weeks after a few hours, there will be a lot of unhappy Apple customers come December 25th.

FCC Gets Serious About Broadband Speeds

FCC changes broadband definition to 25 Mbps

The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday voted to change the definition of broadband to connection speeds of 25 megabits per second or higher, casting aside the previous standard of 4 megabits per second.

If speeds don’t reach the threshold, Internet providers cannot call the connection “broadband.”

Huge news from Washington. The US is currently 26th in consumer broadband speeds. Pretty shameful for the country that invented the Internet.

Let’s hope some public shaming from the FCC will push Internet Providers to step up their games.

A Republican Halloween

Universal Candy
This Halloween I’m dressing up as a Republican. When kids come to the door I’ll tell them that Universal Candy is Socialist, and if they can’t afford their own candy, I shouldn’t have to buy it for them.