The No-Remaining-Time Edition Wednesday, December 14, 2016

MacOS Sierra Update Fixes MacBook Pro Graphics Issue And Ditches “Battery Time Remaining” Estimate, by Sarah Perez, TechCrunch

Apple today is rolling out an update to macOS Sierra that addresses several issues with MacBook Pro computers, including the graphics problems on late 2016 MacBook Pro computers. Plus, in response to reported battery life concerns on these devices, Apple will now remove the “time remaining” display from the menu bar pulldown on the Mac, noting it was an inaccurate representation of how much battery life is left.

Why Apple Is Removing ‘Time Remaining’ Battery Life Estimates Following MacBook Pro Complaints, by Jordan Kahn, 9to5Mac

It’s not just an issue for the 2016 MacBook Pros, however, but the problem with the inaccurate time remaining estimates in the battery status menu was amplified by the latest processors used in the machines and increased dependence on features that use iCloud syncing, like Optimized Storage. Modern processors in Apple’s latest MacBooks resulted in the battery life status menu having a hard time keeping up with the CPU when switching between low-power and high-performance modes, which often meant erratic and unreliable predictions.

Features that rely on iCloud syncing in macOS Sierra were other reasons why many new MacBook Pro users were experiencing issues with battery life estimates on the machines, according to sources familiar with Apple’s thinking.

Michael Tsai On The Battery Time Remaining Estimate, by John Gruber, Daring Fireball

With a 100 percent charge on the 13-inch MacBook Pro (with Touch Bar), MacOS 10.12.1 was estimating I only had 4:50 of battery life. I used the machine for web browsing, email, and Slack for 45 straight minutes, at a high display brightness, and the estimate was at 5:09.

Bricked Watch

Apple Pulls watchOS 3.1.1 Update After Bricking Complaints, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

Following complaints that the new watchOS 3.1.1 update is bricking some Series 2 Apple Watch models, Apple has temporarily pulled the update.


As Trumplethinskin Lets Down His Hair For Tech, Shame On Silicon Valley For Climbing The Tower In Silence, by Kara Swisher, Recode

Welcome to the brave new world, which is neither brave nor new. But it’s now the world we live in, in which it’s Trump who is the disrupter and tech the disrupted.

Yeah, you can say it: Fuckfuckfuck.

Ai Ai Ai

The Great A.I. Awakening, by Gideon Lewis-Kraus, New York Times

As of the previous weekend, Translate had been converted to an A.I.-based system for much of its traffic, not just in the United States but in Europe and Asia as well: The rollout included translations between English and Spanish, French, Portuguese, German, Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Turkish. The rest of Translate’s hundred-odd languages were to come, with the aim of eight per month, by the end of next year. The new incarnation, to the pleasant surprise of Google’s own engineers, had been completed in only nine months. The A.I. system had demonstrated overnight improvements roughly equal to the total gains the old one had accrued over its entire lifetime.

A Secret Ops AI Aims To Save Education, by Todd Leopold, Backchannel

In his regular courses at Georgia Tech, the computer science professor had at most a few dozen students. But his online class had 400 students — students based all over the world; students who viewed his class videos at different times; students with questions. Lots and lots of questions. Maybe 10,000 questions over the course of a semester, Goel says. It was more than he and his small staff of teaching assistants could handle. [...]

It so happens that Goel is an expert in artificial intelligence. In fact, the course he was teaching, Computer Science 7637, is titled Knowledge-Based Artificial Intelligence. It occurred to him that perhaps what he needed was an artificially intelligent teaching assistant—one that could handle the routine queries, while he and his human TAs focused on the more thoughtful, creative questions. Personal attention is so important in teaching; what if they could give personal attention at scale?

IEEE Puts Out A First Draft Guide For How Tech Can Achieve Ethical AI Design, by Natasha Lomas, TechCrunch

The organization has today published the first version of a framework document it’s hoping will guide the industry towards the light — and help technologists build benevolent and beneficial autonomous systems, rather than thinking that ethics is not something they need to be worrying about.

The document, called Ethically Aligned Design, includes a series of detailed recommendations based on the input of more than a hundred “thought leaders” working in academia, science, government and corporate sectors, in the fields of AI, law and ethics, philosophy, and policy.

Meanwhile, Here In Singapore...

Uncertainty Continues Over Opening Date Of Apple's First Store In Singapore, by Tang See Kit, Channel NewsAsia

According to an information board put up outside the construction site at Knightsbridge mall, the latest expected completion date of Jan 30, 2017 – already a three-month postponement from the previous date of Oct 31, 2016 – was covered up, with no new date provided. [...]

“For a huge flagship store occupying 30,000sqft of prime space along Orchard Road, some degree of fit-out delay is not uncommon given the complexity of the design and layout,” said Cushman & Wakefield's research director Christine Li.


Apple’s Standalone Support App Hits The U.S. App Store, by Sarah Perez, TechCrunch

Apple’s recently launched standalone support application is now hitting the U.S. App Store. The app, which had quietly debuted last month outside the U.S., lets you access product documentation, schedule appointments, as well as chat, email or schedule calls with an Apple Support technician, among other things.

Apple Releases iTunes 12.5.4 With 'TV' App And Touch Bar Support, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

iTunes 12.5.4 introduces support for the new TV app, plus it adds Touch Bar support for the new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar.

Review: Apple AirPods Are Pretty F--king Cool, by Greg Emmanuel, Rolling Stone

Truly wireless earbuds (nothing but what sticks in your ear) began showing up earlier this year, and while they were an interesting peek into the future they were mostly plagued by flaws that made their steep price tags hard to swallow. The Apple AirPods – announced in September and then mysteriously delayed for two months – have managed to eliminate almost all the flaws.

Review: Apple Watch Nike+ Isn't Much Different From Series 2, And That's OK, by Neil Hughes, Apple Insider

The Nike band is largely identical to the regular silicon sport band that Apple sells, except it's perforated with a series of identically sized holes. This gives the band a distinct look, but also provides advantages for athletes.

For starters, the Nike band is noticeably lighter than the regular sport band. While we wouldn't characterize the sport band as heavy, the difference is noticeable when making the switch.

Apple Publishes Super Mario Run Podcast, by Ryan Christoffel, MacStories

Apple has published a new podcast featuring an interview with Shigeru Miyamoto, creator of the beloved Nintendo character.

Skype For Macs Has A Long-standing Backdoor, by Juha Saarinen, ITNews

Microsoft's Skype software for Apple's macOS and OS X operating systems contains an application programming interface (API) that could be used to spy on user communications unnoticed, researchers have found. [...]

Microsoft was notified of the flaw in October, and has patched the vulnerability in Skype 7.37 and later versions.

Bright Idea: Olloclip Core Lens Set For iPhone 7 And 7 Plus, by Steven Sande, Apple World Today

Images are brighter and clearer, with none of the vignetting that plagued earlier models. The Connect Lens System is pure genius; being able to swap out lenses with the push of a button is fast and simple.

Pokémon Go Boosts Exercise Levels – But Only For A Short Period, Says Study, by Nicola Davis, The Guardian

“We found that playing Pokémon Go moderately increases [players’] physical activity but the effect was not sustained over [a] six week period,” said Katherine Howe, co-author of the research from Harvard University. [...] Despite the findings, Howe remains optimistic that development of games like Pokémon Go could a have positive impact in myriad ways.

Google Turns Drive For iOS Into Android Migration Tool, by Mikey Campbell, AppleInsider

Google on Tuesday activated a new Google Drive feature that turns the cloud storage app for iOS into a migration tool capable of transferring calendars, contacts and photos from an iPhone or iPad to a new Android device.

Amazon Releases New Shopping App On tvOS Apple TV For Prime Members, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Amazon today has released a new shopping app for any Apple TV running tvOS. The app, which is useful for Prime members especially, doesn’t include streaming video like many would hope, but rather allows users to complete purchases from their Apple TV.


Apple Ordered To Cough Up $2m To Store Workers After Denying Rest Breaks, by Shaun Nichols, The Register

The trial jury yesterday awarded store staff $2m after Apple was found to have illegally denied them meal and rest breaks, and was late giving departing workers their final paychecks.

Possible Probe Into iPhone Battery Shutdown In Korea, by The Korea Herald

The Korean Agency for Technology and Standards (KATS) said it is looking into the matter as the iPhone 6S battery problem could potentially be a safety issue, like Galaxy Note 7 smartphones, which underwent a global recall over a safety risk.

The Alarming Downsides To Tech Industry Diversity Reports, by Sidney Fussell, Gizmodo

Looking at these companies’ numbers side by side, a strange pattern emerges—the less white a company’s workforce, the more Asian workers it employs (and vice versa). Underrepresented groups generally hover at under 10 percent. “Diversity” doesn’t mean shifting the balance between two ethnic groups, it means destabilizing that pernicious 10 percent status quo. [...] One group, women of color, are particularly disadvantaged by the way companies release data. Race and gender are recorded separately.

The Inside Story Behind Pebble’s Demise, by Steven Levy, Backchannel

It turned out that both Pebble — and, incidentally, Apple —had misjudged the wearables market. The idea of an iPhone on the wrist hasn’t caught on. The one killer app for wrist devices, at least so far, seems to be fitness. Active people find it useful to wear something that quantifies your biometrics and tracks your runs. Apple’s emphasis on fashion and Pebble’s on productivity and third-party innovation were costly detours—the smartwatch market is rooted in health and fitness. “We learned late, and Apple is learning this as well,” says Migicovsky. (He acknowledges that notifications are perhaps the other key function smartwatches perform.) “We did not get this in 2014 — if we had come out then as the smartwatch fitness wearable, maybe it would be a bit different.”

Bottom of the Page

I didn't wait to update my iPhone to the lastest iOS last night. Now, I don't have to waste an extra swipe every time I want to get to my Today widgets.


For quite a while already, I've turned off the percentage reading on my batteries on both my Mac and iPhone. After all, these gadgets are meant to be used. And I'll use them until I'm done, or when the battery runs out. I really don't need to know how much battery is left -- either time reamining, or percentage remaining. After all, what can I do? I can stop working to conserve battery now, or I can stop work when the battery runs out later.

For the iPhone, I'm comforted by the observation that, even when the 20%-left warning comes on in the middle of the day, the iPhone can still pretty much function as simply a phone and text-messaging machine until the end of the day.


Thanks for reading.