The Smart-Home-Experiences Edition Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Apple Unveils Smart Home Experiences In Its Retail Stores Worldwide, by Megan Rose Dickey, TechCrunch

Now, when you go into Apple’s new retail stores, you’ll be able to use the Home app from either an Apple Watch, iPhone or iPad to control devices like the Phillips Hue light bulb, the Hunter ceiling fan and many others. If you tap to the lower the shades in the living room, for example, you’ll see the shades lower in the house shown on the screen.

In the U.S., people can check out the experience at Apple’s Union Square store in San Francisco, its World Trade Center and Williamsburg stores in New York, and 28 other stores throughout the country. Outside of the U.S., Apple offers these experiences in 15 stores, including ones in the UK, UAE, Germany, Mexico, Singapore and Taiwan. A non-interactive HomeKit experience will be offered at all of Apple’s other stores — the ones without “The Avenue” window displays.

Apple Is Hiring A Barista – Here's Why It Might Be A Very Stressful Job, by Caroline Cakebread, Business Insider

The coffee crafter will be tasked with making a "stellar" espresso that lives up to company standards — and those standards are nothing to shrug off.


The visitor center café — where the job is based — could potentially be a grueling place to work. Even though tech offices are often designed to be relaxing, comfortable places that encourage employees to work long hours, the description of the barista job mentions that it could involve "environmental exposure to cold, heat and water."

The Problem With Fitness Studies Based On Activity Apps, by Megan Molteni, Wired

“In particular, steps that come out of commercial devices like the Apple built-in step counters are not very accurate,” says Bruce Schatz, head of Medical Information Science at the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign. “They’re tuned for making physically active people feel good.” The issue, he says, isn’t with the measurement device. Smartphones are equipped with accelerometers that measure tiny variations in location, and they do it well.

But the handful of algorithms that Apple and other phone manufacturers and app developers employ to package that raw data into easy-to-use step counts can't accurately capture the huge variety in people's walking mechanics. They don’t have enough flexibility to account for, say, old people who shuffle instead of stride. And not all steps are created equal. Strolling in the park burns fewer calories than sprinting up stairs. Which matters for people trying to manage their weight (though not as much as what people eat). Detecting those distinctions requires raw, not pre-packaged accelerometer data. That's why Schatz, who has worked with the NIH and NSF on their population-scale mobile health initiatives, says raw is the way to go if data is going to be used for health interventions.

Subscription and Cloud

Why Security Experts Are Pissed That ‘1Password’ Is Pushing Users To The Cloud, by Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai, Motherboard

Whitney Merrill, a security and privacy expert, told Motherboard in a Twitter chat that "it's troubling that 1Password, a company that has traditionally been very loyal to its user base, could make such an impactful decision (subscription model and loss of local vault) without transparency to those users."

"I make a huge effort to keep my computer secure," Merrill added, "when I give all my passwords to a third party that means I need to trust them and their security."

1Password Wants You To Sync Via The Cloud, But Won't Force You, by Jason Snell, Six Colors

In other words: AgileBits is building a cloud service that it feels is safe, secure, and convenient for the vast majority of its users. But 1Password still supports local storage, too—and it seems like it will do so for the foreseeable future. The app isn’t going to force you to sync your passwords via its cloud service if you don’t want to. However, in terms of what the company communicates to its user base and recommends to new users, that’s going to be focused on using the sync service rather than local vaults, and the company is building new features like Travel Mode around the sync service.


Apple Offering Free Repairs Of First-Generation Apple Watches With Detached Back Covers, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

If you have a first-generation Apple Watch with a separated back cover, Apple or an Apple Authorized Service Provider will repair it free of charge, according to an internal service policy obtained by MacRumors.

PayPal Is Rolling Out To The App Store, Apple Music, iTunes, And iBooks, by John Voorhees, MacStories

PayPal announced that its payment service is coming to the App Store, Apple Music, iTunes, and iBooks on iOS devices and Macs today, starting in Canada and Mexico with the US and other countries to follow soon.

The Best Snippet Expanding Utility For macOS, by Bradley Chambers, The Sweet Setup

TextExpander has been running my Mac since almost the beginning. I’ve purchased every version that has come out, and I’m now a subscriber to If you aren’t a TextExpander user, hang on tight. I’m going to show you why it’s one of the few apps I cannot go without.


How MTA Shut Down My App For Penn Station Commuters, by Alexander Kharlamov, Medium

This is a story of my first iPhone app — from idea, to planning, to execution, release, initial success and (spoiler alert!) having to shut it down because of New York City’s MTA. The last part was painful, but overall it was a great experience and I learned a ton of cool things.


Apple Sets Up China Data Center To Meet New Cyber-security Rules, by Cate Cadell, Reuters

Apple Inc has set up its first data center in China, in partnership with a local internet services company, to comply with tougher cybersecurity laws introduced by Beijing last month, it said on Wednesday.


Apple also said that it had strong data privacy and security protections in place. "No backdoors will be created into any of our systems," it said.

The iPhone Is An Ideal Machine For Exerting Intellectual Property Control, by James Hayes, Motherboard

Apple will gain greater ability to affect expression Apple's power to influence the decisions people make in creating, storing, sharing, and consuming data only increases as more people continue to rely on smartphones as the primary device to complete those tasks. Every choice Apple makes in designing the iPhone, curating the applications within the App Store, and pointing the customer toward certain purchase decisions has the ability to impact both industry and consumer behavior and indeed that has been the case throughout the ten years since the iPhone was first released.

In that sense, the iPhone is an ideal machine for Apple to exert authoritarian intellectual property control. More limited of a system than a personal computer, but more convenient for many day-to-day tasks because of its computer-like features and portable form factor, the iPhone is the device through which Apple has been able to influence the user experience—and thus the way photographers capture images, songwriters record ideas, and business owners communicate with customers—more than any other product previously. The iPhone is not merely a blank canvas; it is the paint, palette, and brushes as well.

29 Bullets, by Russell Davies

"Once we've understand that", he said "we'll have won the war." This was not the first time someone had complained about a PowerPoint slide, it will not be the last. But his statement was more profound than he knew, because the real mystery is not so much 'why is that slide so complicated?' but more 'how come the army is using PowerPoint to communicate military strategy to its generals' or indeed 'how come almost every organisation in the world is using PowerPoint to communicate almost everything to almost everybody?'. That's the real question. How come PowerPoint is everywhere? How has it been so successful for so long? How has nothing ever come close to disrupting or replacing it?

Once we've understand that, we'll have understood the modern world.