The Streaming-From-iPhone Edition Wednesday, August 2, 2017

How Apple Is Putting Voices In Users’ Heads—Literally, by Steven Levy, Wired

My conversation with Mathias Bahnmueller started as pretty much all my phone interviews do. “Can you hear me?” he asked, and I replied affirmatively. Then I asked him the same question. His answer was yes—he could hear me very clearly. And this was a tiny miracle.

That’s because Bahnmueller suffers from hearing loss so severe that a year ago he underwent surgery to install a cochlear implant—an electronic device in the inner ear that replaces the usual hearing mechanism. Around a million patients have undergone this increasingly mainstream form of treatment, and that’s just a fraction of those who could benefit from it. (Of the 360 million people worldwide with hearing loss, about 10 percent would qualify for the surgery.) “For those who reach a point where hearing aids no longer help, this is the only solution,” says Allison Biever, an audiologist in Englewood, CO who works with implant patients. “It’s like restoring a signal in a radio station.”

Cochlear implants bypass the usual hearing process by embedding a device in the inner ear and connecting it via electrodes to the nerve that sends audio signals to the brain. The implant gets sound from an external microphone and sound processor that usually sits behind the ear. Until now, users have had to deal with balky remote controls to adjust the settings. And dealing with smartphones has required a separate piece of equipment that vexes communication thanks to its low quality and annoying lags. But Bahnmueller, a 49-year-old executive in automotive safety, has recently been testing a new solution. The reason I was coming through so clearly is that his over-the-ear device linked to the implant was streaming directly from his iPhone—essentially putting the conversation in his head.

Requiem For A Shuffle, by Steven Levy, Wired

That low price shouldn’t be dismissed. It was a feature that Jobs took pains to boast about even on the 2005 day when he introduced the Shuffle. iPods were too expensive, he said—even for him. He told me that he’d bought a regular iPod as a birthday gift for his son, who turned 13 that year. “It was great and he loves it,” he said. But then his daughters, who were nine and six at the time, started asking for their own. “There’s no way I’m going to spend 250 bucks apiece on them,” he said, clarifying that while he certainly could afford to buy them, he didn’t think it was right to give a child of that age such an expensive gift. The Shuffle changed that. “I will go buy them one of these for 100 bucks apiece,” he said. “They’ll probably lose them in 60 days. But they’ll get into it this way.”


“Smart Shuffle came from people complaining that songs aren’t random,” Jobs said, not needing to specify that I was the biggest complainer. “And of course it really is random, and we go talk to them and they say, ‘There’s two Bob Dylan songs right after another, how could it be random?’ and you explain to them it could happen, [and in fact] it often does. What they really want is to make sure that it doesn’t happen. Rather than argue whether it’s random or not, we can give them the outcome they want.”

Another Quarter

Did The iPad Turn The Corner This Quarter?, by Jason Snell, Six Colors

What this means it that boosted iPad sales are likely being driven by the $329 fifth-generation iPad. At this point, I’m happy to take the win if I’m an iPad fan, even if the growth is coming from the lower-end model.


The story of the iPad isn’t over. It’s a real question about how it grows, and what size of a business it becomes for Apple in the long term. Will sales flatten or start to grow slowly? Is the iPad truly going to get enough of Apple’s attention to potentially evolve into a fitting next-generation replacement for the Mac? Or will it remain in its current form as a “tweener” of a product, neither Mac nor iPhone. (I will remind you that despite all this talk about the iPad’s troubles, it still generated $5 billion in revenue last quarter—only slightly less than the Mac’s 5.6 billion.)

Apple's Services Business Alone Now The Size Of A Fortune 100 Company, Beats Out Facebook, by Mike Wuerthele, AppleInsider

Apple's last four quarters of service revenue total $27.804 billion. That figure puts it in 97th place ahead of Facebook's entire business at $27.64 billion, and just ahead of Northwestern Mutual's $27.8 billion.

Apple Increasing Production Capacity For AirPods As Availability Issues Persist, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Apple continues to be vague about what’s causing the AirPods supply shortage.

Tim Cook Suggests Apple Is Building Autonomous Systems For More Than Cars, by Jacob Kastrenakes, The Verge

“[Autonomous] systems can be used in a variety of ways,” Cook said during a call with investors this afternoon. “A vehicle is only one, but there are many different areas of it. And I don’t want to go any further with that.”

Apple Continues To Struggle In China As Revenue Drops 10%, by Fitz Tepper, TechCrunch

Apple took in just over $8 billion in revenue from Greater China this quarter, which is less than half of what it made there two years ago in Q2 2015. It’s also a 10 percent decline year-over-year and a 25 percent decline from last quarter. To compare, revenue generated in the Americas was up 13 percent year-over-year, and down only 4 percent from last quarter.

Tim Cook Hopeful China Will Loosen Regulations On VPN Applications, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Cook explained that Apple would rather not remove the apps, but it is forced to comply with laws where it does business.

Tim Cook Dodges Question About Trump’s Claim Of US Apple Plants, Says Company Is Committed To Job Creation, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

When pressed for comment on Trump’s promise, Cook turned to talking about what Apple is currently doing to create jobs and fuel the United States economy.


Avid Makes Limited Version Of Movie Editing Tool Media Composer Free For macOS, by Mike Wuerthele, AppleInsider

"Media Composer | First" includes the ability to mix four video tracks, eight audio tracks, and modify them with host of built-in visual effects, transitions, color correction presets and titling templates.

Spark For Mac 1.3 Arrives With A Much Improved Search Feature, by Preshit Deorukhkar, Beautiful Pixels

The new search feature in Spark for Mac 1.3 is highly visual and offers relevant and beautiful suggestions for your queries. As you type, the query is broken down by keywords that you can refine to find exactly what you’re looking for.


How Two 20-Somethings From Ireland Built A $9.2 Billion Company, by Ashlee Vance, Bloomberg

For years, the explosive growth of e-commerce has outpaced the underlying technology; companies wanting to set up shop have had to go to a bank, a payment processor, and “gateways” that handle connections between the two. This takes weeks, lots of people, and fee after fee. Much of the software that processes the trans­actions is decades old, and the more modern bits are written by banks, credit card companies, and financial middlemen, none of whom are exactly winning ­hackathons for elegant coding.

In 2010, Patrick and John Collison, brothers from rural Ireland, began to debug this process. Their company, Stripe Inc., built software that businesses could plug into websites and apps to instantly connect with credit card and banking systems and receive payments. The product was a hit with Silicon Valley startups. Businesses such as Lyft, Facebook, DoorDash, and thousands that aspired to be like them turned Stripe into the financial backbone of their operations.

Bottom of the Page

Of the five lines of iPods, I have bought three of them. I've always felt that the iPod classic was too expensive for me, whereas the iPod shuffle was too limiting for me, given that I was mostly listening to audiobooks and podcasts.


Thanks for reading.