The Two-Tera Edition Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Apple Launches $20/mo 2TB iCloud Storage Plan Ahead Of iPhone 7 Event, by Jeff Benjamin, 9to5Mac

Apple has launched a new 2TB iCloud storage tier a little over a week out from the iPhone 7 launch event. The new 2TB plan, which is its largest plan available, will set users back $19.99 a month.

Health Matters

New 'Breakthrough' iPad Game Can Detect Autism In Children, by Mary Palmer, Daily Record

A simple iPad game is coded with the ability to track finger movements and gestures and accurately diagnosed those with the learning difficulty in 93 per cent of cases.

The researchers behind the app found that those with the condition used greater force and moved their finger in different ways.

Breathe Easy: The Science Behind Fitbit And Apple's Mindfulness Push, by Becca Caddy, Wareable

Over the past few years, big-name devices have gone from keeping tabs on steps and sleep with basic accelerometers to GPS performance tracking, heart-rate sensors, blood oxygen levels, muscle-mass monitoring and so much more.

Now the next big trend in wearable tech seems to be focused on our mental wellbeing rather than our physical performance.

Coming Soon

Siri Takes Charge Of Your Apps In iOS 10, by Nathan Olivarez-Giles, Wall Street Journal

Among the first apps to yield to Siri are big names like WhatsApp, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Square Cash and Slack, along with lesser-known ones including Looklive and The Roll.

I’ve tried out Siri’s new abilities in demos with developers over the past few days. After getting an early look at a more capable Siri, it’s clear that this long-overdue feature is important to making Siri more useful in everyday life. Still, controlling third-party apps is merely a first step toward Siri living up to Apple’s promise as a new way to control our devices.

Paying Taxes

Why Apple’s Statement On Irish Tax Ruling Seems Tone-deaf, But Nothing Will Happen Anytime Soon, by Ben Lovejoy, 9to5Mac

There is no way to spin this kind of arrangement as just. It is clearly an intricate scheme designed to avoid paying taxes that would otherwise be due. And when companies don’t pay their fair share of taxes, you and I have to pick up the slack.

A huge part of Apple’s value is in its brand image. Anything that tarnishes that image – like being seen to defend perfectly legal but rather grubby tax-avoidance measures – could, over the years to come, end up costing the company even more than €15B. It might be smarter in the long-term to take the hit now.

Some Thougts On Tim Cook’s Open Letter On Taxes In Europe, by Kirk McElhearn

Apple is saying that sales in EU countries are actually made by Apple’s Irish subsidiary; that any brick and mortar or online store in another country is actually part of Apple Ireland. That the store where I buy my iPhone in the UK isn’t really in the UK, as far as taxes are concerned. Sorry, that’s just wrong.

Apple’s Irish ‘Sweetheart’ Deal Unfair To Taxpayers, by Ciarán Hancock, Irish Times

Apple and Ireland might well be proved right in their assertions that the tax paid by the tech giant complied with the relevant tax laws, both here and in its home country.

But that really just makes the law, whether in Ireland, the US or elsewhere, an ass. How could such vast sums of money not be subject to tax somewhere in the world?

Ireland Gets An Apple Windfall, But Tackling Tax Avoidance Just Got Harder, by Simon Bowers, The Guardian

Some argue that Vestager did more on Tuesday to damage than to assist this fragile international consensus on tackling tax avoidance. Certainly her intervention has ruffled feathers and, in the short term at least, appears to offer a far from perfect resolution.

That said, any serious effort to root out toxic tax behaviour is bound to create upset along the way. There are powerful vested interests that would like to see the taxation of corporate profits wither and fade into history. Vestager has set herself against such ambitions. A few more politicians showing her courage would be a fine thing.

Apple’s Tax Game Is Hurting Economic Growth, by Nanette Byrnes, MIT Technology Review

Many applaud companies for making smart financial moves, including minimizing what they pay in taxes. But there are consequences to Apple’s decision to make global tax planning one of its core capabilities.

While the company’s money sits in foreign accounts, it is being invested in securities like U.S. Treasuries, stocks, and other investments, not in the kind of research that could help to generate new tech breakthroughs, innovation, and jobs.

Apple, Congress And The Missing Taxes, by New York Times

The way forward is not to declare a tax war with Europe. It is for Congress to agree on a way to tax foreign-held corporate profits. President Obama put forth a reasonable approach in 2015, when he proposed a mandatory 14 percent tax on multinationals’ current offshore profits — whether they are repatriated or not — and, thereafter, a new minimum tax rate of 19 percent on profits moved offshore. An even better approach would be to simply end indefinite corporate tax deferral, imposing American taxes on profits when they are made.

By Singling Out Apple Over Taxes, Brussels Is Abusing Its Own Rules, by Liza Lovdahl Gormsen, The Telegraph

If anything, by singling out a handful of mainly US firms and imposing significant retroactive recovery, the Commission risks distorting competition.

The Commission’s actions threaten to distort the delicate balance between EU state aid powers and member states’ fiscal sovereignty. It creates ambiguity and undermines confidence in the legal system. What’s more, attempting to apply rules after the fact amounts to harmonisation through the back door, and is dangerous for Europe.

Silicon Valley Outraged By Apple Tax Bill: 'Europe Is Changing Rules Retroactively', by Olivia Solon, The Guardian

“Instead of saying ‘going forward, this won’t be allowed’ – which seems more fair – the EU is trying to change the rules of the game retroactively. It makes little sense to me,” said Om Malik of the San Francisco venture capital firm True Ventures.

“If they change the rules going forward, that’s their prerogative. These companies have been complying with the Irish rules. Now a lot of them will have to re-evaluate their relationships with Europe.”

How Apple—and The Rest Of Silicon Valley—Avoids The Tax Man, by Lee Simmons, Wired

For sheer ingenuity, you can’t beat Silicon Valley—especially at outsmarting the tax man. By selling intellectual property rights to sock-puppet subsidiaries, tech giants shift profits to low-tax nations like Ireland. But that’s just a start. Sublicense the IP to a second Irish unit that books global sales, have entity B pay onerous royalties back to A (wiping out its earnings), then show that A is headquartered in the Caribbean, making its royalty income untaxable in Ireland. Slick!

Why Ireland's Government Doesn't Want Apple's Money, by Geoffrey Smith, Fortune

For although the Commission zeroed in on what it thought it to be a very specific abuse of Ireland’s tax code, the Irish government is clearly afraid that this ruling will be the thin end of a wedge that ends in its complete loss of sovereignty over setting its own tax rates. [...] The Commission is inviting other member states to calculate how much they may have lost in tax revenue as a result of the alleged violations, and to claw it back from Ireland. That alone is good reason for Noonan to challenge the ruling. The last thing he or any Irish government wants is to establish that kind of precedent.

You Like Me! You Really Like Me!

Endorsed On Instagram By A Kardashian, But Is It Love Or Just An Ad?, by Sapna Maheshwari, New York Times

Brands such as Jack in the Box and Red Bull have proved willing to pay thousands of dollars per social media mention to people like the Kardashians and other so-called influencers who command big, loyal followings on services likeInstagram, Snapchat and YouTube. These mentions, however, are often presented as testimonials rather than advertisements, a practice that at least one consumer advocacy group has claimed is deceptive.


Will Pedestrians Be Able To Tell What A Driverless Car Is About To Do?, by Adrienne Lafrance, The Atlantic

How will self-driving vehicles communicate with human drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists? The use of blinkers, brake lights, and hazard lights can be automated, surely, but there are many human gestures and cues that are a crucial part of how people navigate the roads—eye contact, the waving of a hand at an intersection—which a machine can’t precisely emulate.

Apple Adds Jessica Alba To Planet Of The Apps Reality Show, by Jacob Kastrenakes, The Verge

Alba's addition shows Apple sticking with people who bring a mix of star power and actual experience starting up business. Alba founded The Honest Company in 2011 and has been selling "natural" (think: non-GMO, gluten free, organic) baby products since then. Earlier this year, she also launched a natural makeup brand called Honest Beauty.

Why Do We Love Images Of Emptiness? Scientists And Artists Explain, by Katharine Schwab, Fast Company

"My images are empty of people but they’re littered with the traces of human enterprise," says the graphic designer and photographer Rudy Vanderlans, whose work evokes the melancholy of vacant parking lots and other barren California landscapes. "To me, they're anything but empty."

But what psychological impulse lies behind the documentation of spaces devoid of the people that normally traverse them? To find out, Co.Design spoke to scientists and artists to uncover what makes these images so compelling.

Bottom of the Page

I used to visit libraries, bookshops, video shops, CD shops, newstands, and even 7-Elevens, so that I have things to read, to watch, to listen.

Now, I do it all on my bed with my iPhone.


Thanks for reading.