I always look forward to Apple Events, not because I'm interested in buying the latest Apple gadgets, but because they are invariably a great source of lesson material for my business English students. Wednesday's event was no exception and here are some of the resources I'll be using in class, starting with a great video that condenses the two-hour show into just 107 seconds!
And here's a slightly longer (and less frenetic) summary:
And here's a great little BBC video showing how mobile phone have evolved since those bricks people used back in the eighties.
You've probably heard of the IoT (Internet of Things). But what is it? Multinational e-commerce giants such as IBM, Google and Samsung are moving fast to develop products and services that are designed to support the IoT. It is widely viewed as one of the most significant opportunities arising from the rapid development of digitally-enabled devices and transactions. In this engaging short animated video (one of six that will help you understand Davos 2016), the World Economic Forum team explain what the IoT is, highlight some of the key opportunities and also threats posed. A great visual introduction to what will become a vital part of digital business in the near future. Via tutor2u.
LESSON IDEAS • Stop the video after six seconds and see if your students can answer the question. • The voiceover contains a lot of numbers and passives, which could be the focus of a lesson. • Discuss the questions raised by the video. Will data be collected, shared and stored to improve our lives? Or will it be used to control us?
TRANSCRIPT What do an umbrella, a shark, a house plant, the brake pads in a mining truck and a smoke detector have in common? They can all be connected online, and in fact, they are. By 2022 it is expected that more than a trillion sensors will be connected to the internet. If all things are connected, it will shift the way we do business and use resources, and will eventually yield massive amounts of data. But who owns this data and how safely will it be kept? By 2020, around 22% of the world's cars will be connected to the internet. That's 290 million vehicles. And by 2024, more than 50% of home internet traffic will be used by appliances and devices rather than just for communication and entertainment. In this scenario, what if your car or home got hacked? The internet of things raises huge questions on privacy and security that have to be addressed by governments, corporations, and consumers. But if we get things right, it will also bring unprecedented efficiency to processes that will no longer be offline. Imagine cows in a farm being monitored to obtain health reports that will help farmers feed them better, or tracking the behaviour of complex industrial machinery, preventing accidents and shortening downtime for maintenance. All kinds of devices will be able to gather and share any type of information from their environment, seamlessly organizing themselves to make our lives smarter and safer. A world where all things are connected is going to bring endless opportunities for most human activities, but it will depend on us whether we are going to take advantage of it, or let it take advantage of us. Will data be collected, shared and stored to improve our lives? Or will it be used to control us?
Here's an ad for Microsoft's new operating system Windows 10, which launches globally in 190 countries on 29 July 2015.
LESSON IDEAS 1. Although the ad is subtitled (yay!), teachers could always hide the subtitles and do some comprehension/gap-fill activities based on the transcript below. 2. Show the ad without the sound and hide the subtitles. Stop at 45s and get students to guess what the ad is for (it's not at all obvious!). 3. The voiceover contains a lot of useful language which teachers could study in more depth (future tense, passive, prepositions, etc.). 4. Discuss the message behind the ad - the idea that in future, all the children of the world will be connected. What about the slogan ('A more human way to do')? Is it effective? Why (not)?
TRANSCRIPT Imagine. These kids won't have to remember passwords, or obsess about security. For them, every screen is meant to be touched. And web pages are meant to be scribbled on and shared. They'll expect their devices to listen to them. And talk. And sing. And tell a funny joke. And as they grow, and get better at things, their technology will too. They'll do things their parents never even dreamed of. Because these kids will grow up with Windows 10. The future starts now, for all of us. Get started now. Windows 10. A more human way to do.
COMMENT We can only hope it's better than Windows 8!
BACKGROUND The European Union’s antitrust chief on Wednesday formally accused Google of abusing its dominance in web searches, bringing charges that could limit the giant American tech company’s moneymaking prowess. The case is the first time that antitrust charges have been brought against Google, despite a yearslong face-off between the company and regulators here. It will almost certainly increase pressure on Google to address complaints that the company favors its own products in search results over its rivals’ services. And in a sign that the pressure in Europe would probably expand to other areas of Google’s business, the antitrust regulator, Margrethe Vestager, also said she had opened a formal antitrust investigation into the company’s Android smartphone software. Full story >>
THE CARTOON The cartoon by Chappatte from the International New York Times shows an EU judge, accompanied by a law enforcement office, arriving at the Google headquarters to serve an antitrust warrant. She tells the bearded, barefoot Google employee who opens the door, "We're here to search you!"
COMMENT The cartoonist plays on the word 'search'. Google is a search engine which allows people to search for information, but the police also search somebody's home or business premises when they are looking for evidence in a criminal case.
VOCABULARY 1. A trust is large company that has or attempts to gain monopolistic control of a market. 2. Antitrust is an adjective used to describe legislation that prevents or controls trusts or other monopolies, and so promotes fair competition in business. 3. You search a person or a building (to find something that is hidden), but you searchfor something that you are trying to find (such as evidence or information). • The police have arrested a man after searching his house. • Detectives have been brought in to help search for clues.
THE CARTOON This cartoon by Kipper Williams from The Guardian shows a man looking at the Apple Watch on his wrist. He tells his workout partner, "Either I'm dead or my Apple Watch has stopped."
EXPLANATION One of the features of the Apple Watch is a heart rate sensor that 'uses infrared and visible-light LEDs and photodiodes to detect your heart rate during workouts'. We can assume that the man's watch is not showing any data, hence his comment.
GRAMMAR Note the use of the 'either ...or' which to refer to a situation in which there are two possibile explanations, but only one is correct. • Either John or Mary is to blame.
VOCABULARY The latest big thing in the world of tech (i.e., technology) is wearable devices, which, as the name suggests, are devices you wear, such as the Apple Watch, or Google Glass.
It's been just over a week since the Apple Watch launch event, and cartoonists around the world have had time to weigh in with their take on the latest must-have gadget. In this cartoon by Chappatte from the International Herald Tribune, we see a man admiring the brand new Apple Watch that he has just bought and is wearing on his wrist. His companion seems less enthusiastic, however, and asks him, "Can it tell you in how much time it'll be obsolete?"
VOCABULARY If something is obsolete, it is no longer used because of being replaced by something newer and more effective. • Most computer hardware rapidly becomes obsolete.
COMMENT Some would argue that the Apple Watch will already be obsolete when you buy it (not that I'm planning to).
LANGUAGE Note how the word 'actually' is used to correct somebody in a polite way. 'Actually' is a false friend for French speakers, and does not mean 'actuellement', but rather 'en fait'. See here for more on how to use 'actually'.
COMMENT I will not be buying the Apple Watch. For a start, I don't have an iPhone, an indispensable companion to the watch, and I'm quite happy with my Casio F-91W, which lasts for years on a single battery and never needs charging!
For someone like me who spends a lot of too much time browsing the web and discovers interesting new sites on a daily basis, the problem is keeping track of them all. I've sometimes created web pages listing resources for easy access (see here, for example), but adding new sites is a bit of a pain. Of course, you can always bookmark a web page in your browser, but you soon end up with hundreds of bookmarks and can't find anything.
So, I was excited to come across Pearltrees, which provides a user-friendly, super efficient way to organize all your favourites, and lots more besides. In fact, I was so impressed, I signed up for the premium version almost immediately (most people will be fine with the free version, however). My only regret is not having discovered Pearltrees before, as it's been around since 2009.
One of the best features is the way you can explore other people's collections and add their resources to your own collection. I've discovered loads of really interesting sites in this way. You can also share your own collections. Plus, there are apps for iOS and Android devices. The only thing which is missing is the ability to tag resources with keywords.
I could go on for ages about how wonderful Pearltrees is, but the best thing you can do is sign up and try it out for yourself. In the meantime, why not watch another demo video, or check out my own collection?
Is it a great new learning tool or the easiest way to cheat in math, ever? The new PhotoMath app is currently available on iOS and Windows phones, and your views on it will likely depend on whether you're a student or a teacher. The app, created by photo-recognition software company MicroBlink, actually solves simple linear equations and arithmetic expressions. You know, the type of math problems that make you solve for "x." Amazingly, the app doesn't just spit out a result for you, either. It uses your phone's camera to identify equations, and then it solves them, letting you see the step-by-step guide to getting the answer. Full transcript >>
In America, they say math; in Britain, we say maths.
It’s been a season of change for Apple — a whole new device in the Apple Watch, a shot at credit cards with Apple Pay — oh, and of course those new, bigger iPhones. But now we know exactly how the harvest turned out. Apple announced it’s better than expected fourth-quarter earnings results at the end of trading Monday — with reported sales of some $42.1 billion. That’s an increase of 12% over last year, and an increase from $1.18 to $1.42 per share. Full transcript >>
Picking up where it left off a month prior, Apple kept a full room and online audience in suspense before unveiling its new iPad Air 2 Thursday. This time Apple has shaved a few millimeters off, reducing thickness to just a hairline 6.1mm. Flip it to the back and you’ll see a brand new metallic color, gold. On top, the Air 2’s screen is one airtight layer. For the first time, it features an anti-reflective coating, decreasing glare by 56 percent. However, Apple chose to focus not only on the outside but what’s inside as well. As expected, iPad Air 2 sports its own A8 chip which was debuted in Apple’s iPhone 6 and 6+. It’s 40 percent faster than its predecessor released only a year ago. Full transcript >>
Internet trolls who subject victims to vile abuse are to be jailed for up to two years under a tough Government crackdown. Harsher sentences are to be introduced following a series of shocking, high-profile cases, including rape threats made against model Chloe Madeley last week. Justice Secretary Chris Grayling revealed to The Mail on Sunday that the maximum six month sentence for internet abuse will be quadrupled. Full story >>
VOCABULARY A troll is someone who writes negative and hostile comments on a website in order to provoke people. • Twitter trolls have targeted golfing superstar Rory McIlroy for expressing his support for Northern Ireland's football team.
Two investigative stories The Guardian published Thursday claim a popular app that allows users to post anonymous messages is exploiting users' information and also tracking their whereabouts. Whisper works like this: You have something to share. You can do that anonymously by superimposing text over an image and sending it to other users. Two reporters from The Guardian spent three days at Whisper's headquarters in California, and later wrote, "Whisper has a secret." That secret is "an in-house mapping tool that allows its staff to filter and search GPS data, pinpointing messages to within 500 meters of where they were sent." Full transcript >>
The company behind Whisper, the social media app that promises users anonymity and claims to be the “the safest place on the internet”, is tracking the location of its users, including some who have specifically asked not to be followed. The practice of monitoring the whereabouts of Whisper users – including those who have expressly opted out of geolocation services – will alarm users, who are encouraged to disclose intimate details about their private and professional lives. Full story >>
VOCABULARY Anonymous is used about something that is done, written, etc. by someone whose name is not known. • She contacted the police after receiving a series of an anonymous phone calls and letters.