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Archive for October 2017

The Up-Next Edition Sunday, October 22, 2017

Chicago's New Apple Store Opens; 'Feels Like Home,' 1st Customer Says, by Taylor Hartz, Chicago Sun-Times

Paul Zhu, 18, stood in line for 27 hours to be the new store’s first customer. Stopping for selfies with Cook and Ahrendts, Zhu hurried into a building he said “feels like home.”

Apple Should Re-imagine The iPod Shuffle, by GSM Arena

Through this paradigm shift in my music consumption habits, the one iPod that stayed with me was my trusty 4th Generation iPod shuffle, because it was a perfect fit for fitness and sports activities.

Apple Files For The 'Apple Music UP NEXT' Trademark Just As Spotify Announces Its Copycat Feature Called 'RISE', by Jack Purcher, Patently Apple

Apple introduced the new feature back in April which is designed to promote music's next generation of artists on Apple Music.

Apple Sued By Japanese Company That Owns Animoji Trademark, by Shannon Liao, The Verge

The Tokyo-based company, Emonster, filed the suit on Wednesday in US federal court, saying, “Apple made the conscious decision to try to pilfer the name for itself.” The company’s CEO, Enrique Bonansea, is a US citizen living in Japan.

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Hands On: LookUp 4.0 For The iPhone And iPad Can Make Browsing A Dictionary A Pleasure, by Mike Wuerthele and William Gallagher, AppleInsider

You either look up a dictionary because you need to quickly check what something means or because you just relish definitions and the history of words. Newly updated LookUp 4.0 aims to satisfy both uses with a redesign that concentrates on speed and gorgeous presentation. Alongside photos or line artwork that every word definition displays, the app now names and defines anything you point your camera at.

Logitech's Circle 2 Wired Is The Best Camera With Apple's HomeKit - For Now, by Roger Fingas, AppleInsider

If you want an iPhone- or iPad-connected security camera and you're going the HomeKit route, the Circle 2 is easily the best choice at the moment. The only other HomeKit-compatible camera is the D-Link Omna 180 Cam HD, which records solely to microSD and has other drawbacks as well.

The operative words here are "at the moment." The hardware itself is cost-competitive, but its (paid) subscription plans aren't, and it desperately needs a louder speaker. Some form of local storage option would be good for backup purposes.

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I will support a movement to simplify the whole HTML-CSS-Javascript mess that is today's web. All this still feels like programming for MS-DOS, and we are all waiting for the Mac Toolbox.

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Thanks for reading.

The Production-Strain Edition Saturday, October 21, 2017

Apple, Foxconn Executives To Meet Amid iPhone X Production Strain, by Debby Wu, Emi Okada, Kotaro Hosokawa, Nikkei Asian Review

Terry Gou, the chairman of key iPhone assembler Hon Hai Precision Industry, also known as Foxconn Technology Group, and Apple Chief Operating Officer Jeff Williams are planning to meet when the latter visits Taiwan later this month, according to two industry sources.

The meeting comes at a time when iPhone X production continues to be plagued by problems with the dot projector, a component in the 3-D sensor module used for facial recognition.

Apple Retail Chief Angela Ahrendts: We Will Not Upsell Customers To The iPhone X, by Josh Lipton, CNBC

"The way we look at it is building a relationship," Ahrendts said. "It's no different from fashion — don't you go back to someone who's taken really good care of you, who you trust, to make you a better version of yourself?"

She also acknowledged that Apple has told retail employees not to try to upsell customers to the most expensive iPhone model, the upcoming iPhone X (that's a Roman numeral "10," not the letter "x.")

Apple Urges iPhone Upgrade Program Members To Get 'Head Start' On iPhone X Order Process, by Malcolm Owen, AppleInsider

Apple is encouraging participants of its iPhone Upgrade Program to be prepared for the release of the iPhone X, inviting customers to go through a pre-approval process for the upgrade a few days before it ships on October 27.

No Events For HomePod?

Apple's Craig Federighi Confirms There's No October Event In The Works, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

"Will we see an October keynote event?" Luke asked. "I think we're all Keynoted out for the season! :-)" Federighi replied.

There, And Not There

Apple's New Flagship Store An Understated Gem On The Chicago River, by Blair Kamin, Chicago Tribune

With its huge sheets of laminated glass and an ultra-thin roof of lightweight carbon fiber the store, opening Friday, is simultaneously present and absent, there and not there. From North Michigan Avenue, you look through its glassy membrane and see the river’s blue-green waters and passing tour boats. A plaza of tiered granite steps spills down to the riverfront.

[...]

Even accounting for possible problems, like the glare that invaded a portion of the interior during a preview Thursday, the store is a gem, realizing the vision of the late Chicago architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe for buildings that would be reduced to their essence — an architecture of “almost nothing.”

New Band

Apple And AT&T Activate LTE Band 8 To Give iPhone Users In Puerto Rico Cellular Service By Loon Balloon, by Matthew Panzarino, TechCrunch

Apple has been working with AT&T to extend and activate cell service for users in Puerto Rico. To improve what is a terrible connectivity situation there, it’s going to enable a provisional band of LTE that has been recently approved, but not activated in the US and Puerto Rico, where it has not been licensed.

Because LTE is not licensed on Band 8, many phones have not yet been equipped for use with it, though some newer radios are able to connect to it and use it. Apple devices from the iPhone 5c and up and running iOS 10 or higher can download a carrier setting and begin using it right away.

Stuff

Tyke Is The Mac's Simplest Note-taking App, by Charlie Sorrel, Cult Of Mac

Tyke might be just about the simplest app you ever saw. It is also really, really useful. Tyke puts a little icon in your Mac’s menubar, and when you click it, it opens up a text scratchpad. You can jot in a quick note, or paste in some info. And that’s about it.

The Important-Part-Of-Lineup Edition Friday, October 20, 2017

Apple CEO Tim Cook: Mac Mini Will Be 'Important Part' Of Future Product Lineup, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

MacRumors reader Krar decided to email Apple CEO Tim Cook to get an update on the Mac mini and he received a response. Cook said it was "not time to share any details," but he confirmed that the Mac mini will be an important part of the company's product lineup in the future.

Windy City Update

Apple's Retail Chief On Chicago Store: 'We Are The Live Version Of Apple Music', by Corilyn Shropshire, Chicago Tribune

"We totally redid the entire plaza, putting stairs on the inside and outside. We’ve never done this before. The pavilion is totally glass, all the way around. From Michigan Avenue, you can see all the way through it to the river. The reason for all the stairs is that we wanted it to be so transparent, it looks like the pavilion becomes one with the plaza. We are the live version of Apple Music, we are the live version of that app store. There are tens of thousands of app developers in Chicago, they now have a place to come and show the city what they’ve done, even help teach the city."

Five Things To Look For At Chicago's New Flagship Apple Store, by Corilyn Shropshire, Chicago Tribune

Apple is opening its new flagship store in Chicago on Friday evening. Here are 5 things to look for when you get there.

We're Still Arguing About That 30%

Facebook And Apple Can’t Agree On Terms, So Facebook’s Subscription Tool Will Only Launch On Android Phones, by Peter Kafka, Recode

The hang-up with Apple stems from the company’s rules about subscriptions sold inside apps on its iOS platform. Apple takes a cut of up to 30 percent of subscription revenue from “in app” sales.

And even though Facebook’s plan calls for users to sign up for subscriptions outside of its apps, on publishers’ individual web sites, Apple officials consider that an “in-app” purchase, since the impetus for the transaction kicked off inside Facebook’s app.

Publishers Are Caught In The Crossfire Of The Facebook-Apple Fracas, by Lucia Moses, Digiday

The current fracas over subscriptions might frustrate Facebook, but it’s the publishers that increasingly depend on subscriptions as their lifeblood as Facebook and Google soak up most of the digital ad revenue growth that will feel the actual impact of it.

AI-In-a-Chip

What Are Mobile AI Chips Really Good For?, by James Vincent, The Verge

In both Huawei and Apple’s cases, the primary use of their shiny new hardware is just generally making their phones... better. For Huawei that means monitoring how the Mate 10 is used over its lifetime and reallocating resources to keep it from slowing down; for Apple that means powering new features like Face ID and animoji.

Having computing power dedicated to AI tasks is neat, sure, but so are other features of high-end handsets — like dual camera lenses or waterproofing. Boasting about AI chips makes for good marketing now, it won’t be long before it just becomes another component.

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The Apple Watch 3 Is Awesome, by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, ZDNet

Not only has the Apple Watch integrated well into my day-to-day life (I'm loving the deep dive that it allows me to date into data such as my sleep, workouts, and such), but it's also worked flawlessly in that time. In fact, it feels much more solid and reliable than my iPhone 8 does.

Ulysses 12: Writing On iOS Has Never Been Better, by Ryan Christoffel, MacStories

Bolstered by Apple’s recent focus on evolving the iPad platform, Ulysses 12 is primarily an iOS release; while the Mac version gains some improvements, it clearly isn’t the centerpiece here. Ulysses on iOS gains drag and drop support, multi-pane editing, streamlined library navigation, and image previews – all of which make an already powerful writing tool even better.

Cortana For iOS Gains New Look, Faster Reminder Creation And Improved Performance, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

Today's iOS app update introduces a revamped look that Microsoft says offers a simpler, better user experience. It's easier and faster to create reminders using the new interface, and there's a redesigned profile and settings page for managing preferences.

It's About The Journey, Not The Destination In Wheels Of Aurelia, by Christine Chan, AppAdvice

While I like to think I have an interesting life, I know that it's not the case, as much as I'd like it to be. Fortunately, there's always video games that allow me to live the life I've always dreamed of having, because there's so much variety in what I can achieve in a digital medium. When the news of Wheels of Aurelia hit my inbox, I became intrigued because I've always wanted to go on a road trip, but the opportunity has never really come up for me. Now I can kind of live that life thanks to this interactive novel.

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The Mac mini has to be an important part of Apple's product lineup. It serves many functions that cannot be performed well by either the iMac, MacBook, or iPad.

But I do expect the price of future Mac minis to be higher than what it is now. Apple is not looking at the Mac mini as the lowest-priced entry point into Apple's ecosystem for new customers. The iPad serves that function now. The Mac mini has to be looking for other purposes in life.

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There is an important reason why Apple is so insistent on that 30% cut; Apple's inflexibility in this matter minimizes loopholes that app makers can exploit. (But then, WeChat.)

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Apple created iTunes for the music industry. The company has also created iBooks for the book-publishing industry. Why isn't Apple creating anything for the newspaper and magazine industry? Seems to me after the Newstand failure, apps do not seem like a good solution, right? Or does Apple has wild ambitions for the Apple News app that it hasn't show us?

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Thanks for reading.

The Hey-Siri-Detector Edition Thursday, October 19, 2017

Hey Siri: An On-device DNN-powered Voice Trigger For Apple’s Personal Assistant, by Siri Team, Apple

The “Hey Siri” feature allows users to invoke Siri hands-free. A very small speech recognizer runs all the time and listens for just those two words. When it detects “Hey Siri”, the rest of Siri parses the following speech as a command or query. The “Hey Siri” detector uses a Deep Neural Network (DNN) to convert the acoustic pattern of your voice at each instant into a probability distribution over speech sounds. It then uses a temporal integration process to compute a confidence score that the phrase you uttered was “Hey Siri”. If the score is high enough, Siri wakes up. This article takes a look at the underlying technology. It is aimed primarily at readers who know something of machine learning but less about speech recognition.

Anything You Can Do

How The Frightful Five Put Start-Ups In A Lose-Lose Situation, by Farhad Manjoo, New York Times

The technology industry is now a playground for giants. Where 10 or 20 years ago we looked to start-ups as a font of future wonders, today the energy and momentum have shifted almost completely to the big guys. In addition to the many platforms they own already, one or more of the Five are on their way to owning artificial intelligence, voice assistants, virtual and augmented reality, robotics, home automation, and every other cool and crazy thing that will rule tomorrow.

Start-ups are still getting funding and still making breakthroughs. But their victory has never been likely (fewer than 1 percent of start-ups end up as $1 billion companies), and recently their chances of breakout success — and especially of knocking the giants off their perches — have diminished considerably.

Apple's Grand Vision, by Neil Cybart, Above Avalon

Apple's quest to make technology more personal involves using design to remove barriers preventing people from getting the most out of technology. Instead of positioning new products as replacements for older ones, Apple is focused on coming up with alternatives. One way to accomplish this goal is to take complicated tasks and break them down into more granular tasks, which can then be handled by smaller and simpler devices.

Erase All

Apple: Remove Touch Bar Data Before Selling MacBook Pro, by Stephen Hackett, 512 Pixels

I rebooted into macOS Recovery, ran the command and rebooted again. After the restart, my Touch ID information had been wiped from the machine.

McLocker

McDonald's Introduces Phone Lockers To Help Families Focus On Quality Time, by Suzanne Jannese, Babble

Whatever happened to quality family time at the dinner table?

Turns out McDonald’s has been thinking the same thing. The segment of the fast food chain located in Singapore has come up with a genius idea to keep families from being glued to their phones — a campaign called “Phone Off, Fun On”. The restaurant has installed clear lockers where diners can store their devices for the duration of their meal. Families are then free to focus on spending time together while they eat … instead of checking their text messages.

Can Singapore McDonald’s 'Phone Off, Fun On' Initiative Encourage Family Bonding?, by Shreesha Ghosh, IBTimes

Whether or not people will actually use the lockers to keep their phones has been still up for debate. In an Instagram post, a user shared a photo of the nearly empty 100-locker station at the outlet in Singapore. “Will you ever see 1 phone in da box?” he wrote to caption the picture.

Another customer at the outlet posted a photo and said his family made a genuine attempt to lock their mobiles away in the lockers but "failed within five minutes."

No Anonymous Login

China Cuts LTE Access To Apple Watch Series 3, Reputedly Over Government Security Concerns, by Ben Lovejoy, 9to5Mac

Analysts believe that the government was concerned about the fact that it could not track who was using the new Apple Watch due to the use of an eSIM.

Stuff

Bye Bye Lightroom, Hello Lightroom CC And Faster Lightroom Classic, by Michael Zhang, Petapixel

Lightroom is no more. Adobe today announced a new cloud-based Lightroom called Lightroom CC. The current desktop-based app you know as Lightroom is being rebranded as Lightroom Classic CC. Lightroom Classic will be desktop-oriented, while Lightroom CC will be cloud and mobile focused.

How To Release Your Interior Design Skills With Just Your iPhone, by Amber Wang, Gearbrain

Interior decorating can be hard — especially if you've got a small apartment in New York City like me. However, you can make this process much easier with Amikasa, an augmented reality room designing app.

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There are so many things in my life that, seems like, require a reboot or two occasionally so that they can work right.

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Thanks for reading.

The Delayed-iMessages Edition Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Delayed Messages Bug In High Sierra May Relate To Planned iCloud Message Syncing, by Ben Lovejoy, 9to5Mac

Some macOS High Sierra users are reporting delays in receiving iMessages on their Macs, while also finding that they are no longer receiving iMessage notifications on their iOS devices and Apple Watches.

That latter fact suggests that the bug may be related to Apple’s plans to offer iCloud sync of messages later this year.

iTunes U Collections Officially Moved To Podcasts App On iOS, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Apple today has updated its iTunes U app for iOS with a notable change. The update, which brings the app to version 3.6, follows precedent set by the most recent release of iTunes and moves iTunes U Collections to the Podcasts app.

The New MacBook Keyboard Is Ruining My Life, by Casey Johnston, The Outline

Perhaps it’s true that less dirt gets under butterfly switched-keys. But therein lies the problem — when dirt does get in, it cannot get out. A piece of dust is capable of rendering a butterfly switch nonfunctional. They key won't click, and it won’t register whatever command it’s supposed to be typing. It’s effectively dead until someone can either shake loose the debris trapped under it or blow at the upside-down keyboard Nintendo-cartridge style.

GE Joins With Apple To Make Industrial Apps For Mobile Devices, by Alex Webb, Bloomberg

General Electric Co. is teaming up with Apple Inc. to develop mobile apps for managing machinery, factories and power plants as the industrial giant steps up efforts to sell software and services.

The Boston-based company on Oct. 26 will publish a toolkit it has built with Apple that helps developers build software for iPhones and iPads that uses its Predix data-collection and analysis tool, Kevin Ichhpurani, the head of sales at GE’s digital division, said in an interview. Apple is making Predix its preferred tool for connected factories.

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I was watching someone drawing on an iPad with an Apple pencil, and I was jealous. Not because I don't have an Apple pencil, but that I can't draw.

I don't exepct to be magically able to draw stuff if I do get an Apple pencil. But, I wonder if there are apps that teaches me to draw?

(There has to be, right?)

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Speaking of teach -- I wonder what happened to those music lessons in GarageBand? Maybe I should learn how to play a musical instrument instead.

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Or maybe just learn Swift? That I can manage...

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Thanks for reading.

The Fixing-Krack Edition Tuesday, October 17, 2017

KRACK, The WPA2 Exploit That Kills Wi-Fi Security, And What You Need To Know Right Now, by Jerry Hildenbrand, iMore

Apple has told iMore that KRACK has already been fixed in the beta versions of iOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS, and that AirPort routers and Time Capusules don't appear to be vulnerable too the exploit.

[...]

To be honest, for the next couple of days there aren't a ton of public options available to you. We're not going to tell you how it works or where to find more information on how exactly the attack works. But we can tell you what you can (and should do) to stay as safe as possible.

How The KRACK Attack Destroys Nearly All Wi-Fi Security, by Sean Gallagher, Ars Technica

While Windows and iOS devices are immune to one flavor of the attack, they are susceptible to others. And all major operating systems are vulnerable to at least one form of the KRACK attack. And in an addendum posted today, the researchers noted that things are worse than they appeared at the time the paper was written:

Falling Through The KRACKs, by Matthew Green

One of the problems with IEEE is that the standards are highly complex and get made via a closed-door process of private meetings. More importantly, even after the fact, they’re hard for ordinary security researchers to access. Go ahead and google for the IETF TLS or IPSec specifications — you’ll find detailed protocol documentation at the top of your Google results. Now go try to Google for the 802.11i standards. I wish you luck.

[...]

The second problem is that the IEEE standards are poorly specified. As the KRACK paper points out, there is no formal description of the 802.11i handshake state machine. This means that implementers have to implement their code using scraps of pseudocode scattered around the standards document. It happens that this pseudocode leads to the broken implementation that enables KRACK. So that’s bad too.

Battery Repairs

Apple Still Offering Free Delayed Battery Repairs For Some 2012 And Early 2013 MacBook Pros, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

If you own a 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display released in Mid 2012 or Early 2013, and your notebook qualifies for battery service, the repair should be free if you are willing to wait for around one month.

Incredibly Innovative

We See India As A Very Long-term Opportunity: Apple’s Eddy Cue, by Anirban Sen, Livemint

"First of all, the iPhone is 10 years old. That is the last decade. The iPad came after that and the Watch came after that. So, I disagree vehemently with that and I think we’ve been incredibly innovative. That doesn’t even take into account the work that has been done on the Mac, iOS and MacOS, from that standpoint where I think we’ve led the market. When you think of the products that we’ve built over time, you own a lot of them. And you just assume that every year was a new product. But it wasn’t. You can’t do revolutionary new products, every two months or six months or whatever. They take time."

Apple Answers Sen. Al Franken’s Privacy Concerns Over Face ID, by Marguerite Reardon, CNET

Apple published a white paper in September answering many of the same questions, such as how much of your face's image the company actually stores, how long it saves the image and what apps can use Face ID. In its response to Franken, Apple reiterated points it made in the white paper, explicitly pointing out the phone doesn't store or send biometric information.

Apple Explored Buying A Medical-clinic Start-up As Part Of A Bigger Push Into Health Care, by Christina Farr , CNBC

Apple has considered an expansion into health care clinics, and had talks to buy a start-up called Crossover Health, which works with big employers to build and run on-site medical clinics, according to three sources familiar.

Crossover Health is one of a small number of companies that specialize in working with self-insured employers to provide medical and wellness services on or near to campus. Among its clients are Apple and Facebook.

Silencing The Tweets

One Person’s History Of Twitter, From Beginning To End, by Mike Monteiro, Medium

Twitter was built at the tail end of that era. Their goal was giving everyone a voice. They were so obsessed with giving everyone a voice that they never stopped to wonder what would happen when everyone got one. And they never asked themselves what everyone meant. That’s Twitter’s original sin. Like Oppenheimer, Twitter was so obsessed with splitting the atom they never stopped to think what we’d do with it.

Twitter, which was conceived and built by a room of privileged white boys (some of them my friends!), never considered the possibility that they were building a bomb. To this day, Jack Dorsey doesn’t realize the size of the bomb he’s sitting on. Or if he does, he believes it’s metaphorical. It’s not. He is utterly unprepared for the burden he’s found himself responsible for.

Stuff

AirDroid For iOS Launches: Easy File Transfers Across All Platforms, by Gary Ng, iPhone In Canada

The app allows you to transfer any file wirelessly and remotely between iOS, Android, Mac and PC computers, with “one click”.

‘Nude’ App Uses CoreML To Automatically Detect & Protect Intimate Photos On An iPhone, by Ben Lovejoy, 9to5Mac

A new app aims to automatically scan your iPhone for nudes, moving them to a protected vault in the app and then deleting them from both the camera roll and iCloud.

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I may be romanticizing the past, but I seemed to have enjoyed Usenet more than Twitter and Facebook combined.

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Thanks for reading.

The Kracking-WiFi Edition Monday, October 16, 2017

Severe Flaw In WPA2 Protocol Leaves Wi-Fi Traffic Open To Eavesdropping, by Dan Goodin, Ars Technica

An air of unease set into the security circles on Sunday as they prepared for the disclosure of high-severity vulnerabilities in the Wi-Fi Protected Access II protocol that make it possible for attackers to eavesdrop Wi-Fi traffic passing between computers and access points.

The proof-of-concept exploit is called KRACK, short for Key Reinstallation Attacks. The research has been a closely guarded secret for weeks ahead of a coordinated disclosure that's scheduled for 8am Monday, East Coast time. A website disclosing the vulnerability said it affects the core WPA2 protocol itself and is effective against devices running the Android, Linux, Apple, Windows, and OpenBSD operating systems, as well as MediaTek Linksys, and other types of devices. The site warned attackers can exploit it to decrypt a wealth of sensitive data that's normally encrypted by the nearly ubiquitous Wi-Fi encryption protocol.

"This can be abused to steal sensitive information such as credit card numbers, passwords, chat messages, emails, photos, and so on. The attack works against all modern protected Wi-Fi networks. Depending on the network configuration, it is also possible to inject and manipulate data. For example, an attacker might be able to inject ransomware or other malware into websites."

Apple’s Face ID Will Show How Far The Tech Industry Has Come In Fighting Racial Bias, by Asem Othman, The Next Web

The point about racial bias, and whether Apple’s Face ID will reliably and regularly work for users of all races, is particularly poignant since it’s not just an issue of security but one that is so entrenched in our cultural zeitgeist.

[...]

Was Apple’s data base big enough and diverse enough to be truly race inclusive? Soon enough we will know, and there will be much the whole industry will learn to update and hone our practices so that this technology functions just as a convenience — and not necessarily a cultural hot button.

Through The Lens, by M.G. Siegler, 500ish Words

Imagine a world in which we can take a picture of anything and let the algorithms sort it out. Maybe we do that in real time through a lens — be it the phone screen, or some wearable, or something else — or maybe we do it after the fact. When scrolling through a camera roll, maybe we see a picture we took, and with one tap, we see everything we could ever want to know about what’s in that image. It’s like an augmented memory. And it’s all within sight.

Stuff

iPhone 8 Plus Review: For Those That Don't Like Change, by Rich Woods, Neowin

What all three phones have though, is Apple's new A11 Bionic chip, which happens to be the most powerful mobile processor on the market right now by far. They also have fast charging, wireless charging, the ability to record 4K video at 60fps, and to record 1080p Slo Mo at 240fps.

Ultimately, the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus are the ones that you'd get if you don't like change. The iPhone X doesn't have a home button anymore, which means that the entire way that you use your phone will be different.

Develop

My 20-Year Experience Of Software Development Methodologies, by Ian Miell

So I’m cool with it. Lean, Agile, Waterfall, whatever, the fact is we need some kind of common ideology to co-operate in large numbers. None of them are evil, so it’s not like you’re picking racism over socialism or something. Whichever one you pick is not going to reflect the reality, but if you expect perfection you will be disappointed. And watch yourself for unspoken or unarticulated collective fictions. Your life is full of them. Like that your opinion is important.

The Literal-Connection Edition Sunday, October 15, 2017

Apple AirPods Killed The Best Thing About Sharing Headphones, by Nicole Gallucci, Mashable

Sharing wired headphones with someone isn't just a kind gesture — it's a personal experience that connects two people through sound, but also in a literal sense.

Modernized BBEdit 12 Manipulates Columnar Data And More, Adam C. Engst, TidBITS

By far my favorite new feature, however, is BBEdit 12’s capability to work with columnar data. Many people open delimited text files (like CSV or TSV files) in BBEdit to manipulate the data, but selecting or moving columns via grep-based searches is tricky. BBEdit now sports a collection of commands in Edit > Columns that let you cut, copy, clear, and rearrange columns, and Rich Siegel said that he hopes to add additional capabilities in this area in the future.

Apple Extends Internal iOS 11.1 Apple Pay Cash Testing To Retail Employees, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

Retail employees gained access to the feature today and have been asked to install both the iOS 11.1 beta and an additional internal-only beta profile to unlock the Apple Pay Cash feature. According to the retail employee who spoke to MacRumors, Apple is also requiring iCloud accounts to be whitelisted to use Apple Pay Cash.

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Today, I'm reminded of Steve Jobs' respond to Zune Social.

(Remember Zune? Remmber Zune's Social?)

Steve Jobs: I’ve seen the demonstrations on the Internet about how you can find another person using a Zune and give them a song they can play three times. It takes forever. By the time you’ve gone through all that, the girl’s got up and left! You’re much better off to take one of your earbuds out and put it in her ear. Then you’re connected with about two feet of headphone cable.

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Thanks for reading.

The Unauthorized-Repair Edition Saturday, October 14, 2017

Apple Promises Fix For GarageBand Failing To Open After iOS 11 Update, by Roger Fingas, AppleInsider

Apple is working to fix a glitch preventing some people from launching GarageBand —the company's simplified music creation tool —after updating to iOS 11, according to an online support document.

Latest iOS Update Shows Apple Can Use Software To Break Phones Repaired By Independent Shops, by

Jason Koebler, Motherboard

So let's consider what actually happened here. iPhones that had been repaired and were in perfect working order suddenly stopped working after Apple updated its software. Apple was then able to fix the problem remotely. Apple then put out a warning blaming the parts that were used to do the repair. Poof—phone doesn't work. Poof—phone works again.

In this case, not all phones that used third party parts were affected, and there's no reason to think that, in this case, Apple broke these particular phones on purpose. But there is currently nothing stopping the company from using software to control unauthorized repair: For instance, you cannot replace the home button on an iPhone 7 without Apple's proprietary "Horizon Machine" that re-syncs a new home button with the repaired phone.

Apple Diversity Head Denise Young Smith Apologizes For Controversial Choice Of Words At Summit, by Matthew Panzarino, TechCrunch

“Diversity of thought” has long been a lever used by critics of the concept of D&I work to push back against meaningful diversity efforts. Already this week, some critics of the concept of inclusive diversity work (racists, men who believe they are inherently superior, etc) were pointing at Smith’s comments with an air of smugness — likely not her intended effect.

The thrust of Smith’s email is that she realizes the mistake in using this example, and just how damaging it could be to the perception of Apple’s D&I work.

Facebook Nation

What Facebook Did To American Democracy, by Alexis C. Madrigal, The Atlantic

Add everything up. The chaos of a billion-person platform that competitively dominated media distribution. The known electoral efficacy of Facebook. The wild fake news and misinformation rampaging across the internet generally and Facebook specifically. The Russian info operations. All of these things were known.

And yet no one could quite put it all together: The dominant social network had altered the information and persuasion environment of the election beyond recognition while taking a very big chunk of the estimated $1.4 billion worth of digital advertising purchased during the election. There were hundreds of millions of dollars of dark ads doing their work. Fake news all over the place. Macedonian teens campaigning for Trump. Ragingly partisan media infospheres serving up only the news you wanted to hear. Who could believe anything? What room was there for policy positions when all this stuff was eating up News Feed space? Who the hell knew what was going on?

Stuff

Apps For Those Who Love Space, by Appolicious

Space is a topic that has captured the attention and imagination of millions around the world. Given its vastness and mysterious nature, it is common to gaze up at the night sky and wonder how we as humans fit into the cosmic story. Although the realm of space exploration and viewing have typically required expensive and sophisticated hardware such as telescopes, the introduction of mobile apps have made it accessible to nearly anybody with an iPhone. Given these developments, this article discusses the best apps for astronomy enthusiasts that are inexpensive and can be used right from the mobile device.

The Aid-Pledge Edition Friday, October 13, 2017

Apple Ups Wine Country Aid Pledge To $1 Million As Facebook, Google Offer Help, by Kate Galbraith, San Franisco Chronicle

Apple said it plans a $1 million donation to fire-relief efforts and is also matching employee donations two-for-one. “Our thoughts are with our Bay Area friends & neighbors affected by wildfires,” CEO Tim Cook tweeted Tuesday.

Tim Cook Took A Stroll In 'Breathtaking' Swedish Forests With A Company That Makes Apple's Packaging, by Sam Shead, Business Insider

Holmen has secretly been supplying Apple with packaging for products like the iPad for over a decade, according to Swedish news site Dagens Industri (Di).

[...]

"This has been secret for so many years. It's nice to get some cred when he came and greeted us after more than ten years of development work together, " Sjölund reportedly told Di.

Google's AutoML Project Teaches AI To Write Learning Software, by Tom Simonite, Wired

In a project called AutoML, Google’s researchers have taught machine-learning software to build machine-learning software. In some instances, what it comes up with is more powerful and efficient than the best systems the researchers themselves can design.

Stuff

BBEdit 12: Here's To A Million More, by Jason Snell, Six Colors

I do a lot of text and data formatting in BBEdit, and one of the great additions in this version is a Columns editing command, that enables quick processing of comma- and tab-delimited text ranges—you can cut, copy, delete, and rearrange columns. You might think that sounds like an esoteric feature, but I’ve probably pasted a tab-delimited text block from BBEdit into Microsoft Excel purely for column management hundreds of times at this point. Now I don’t have to. (Though I’d love it if BBEdit would add support for even more functions on columnar data, like sorting and maybe even styling.)

Back at IDG, I built an AppleScript script that I’d pass around inside a BBEdit package that would take a Markdown file and format in some very particular ways for the quirks of our content-management system and site design. Embedded in that script, as well, were a bunch of text replacements based on our house style—replacing “web site” with “website”, for example. BBEdit 12 includes a feature like that, too—it’s a tool called Canonize that batch searches-and-replaces text strings.

More Great Shelf Apps To Boost iPad Productivity, by Ryan Christoffel, MacStories

While all the apps I originally highlighted continue to fill this role well, several additional quality apps have launched that bring new things to the table in this young category of apps.

Augmented Reality? Pogue Checks Out 7 Of The First iPhone AR Apps, by David Pogue, Yahoo

Last month, Apple released iOS 11, required to use all of the new AR apps— and, in effect, made the iPhone the most common AR platform on Earth.

Now the apps themselves are reaching the app store. Plenty of them are games, of course, and that’s great—but I wanted to see if these apps can actually be useful. Software companies have had only 12 weeks to write these apps, so they’re mostly fairly simple. I thought I’d sample the first wave and give you a report.Google's most underrated app finally comes to iPhone](https://www.cultofmac.com/508043/googles-underrated-app-finally-comes-iphone/), by Killian Bell, Cult of Mac

Opinion Rewards is a genuine and incredibly easy way to earn real money. Google sends out more than 3 million surveys every week from companies big and small. You get the chance to answer some of them and you get paid up to $1 a time for your efforts.

The Stick-Or-Scrap Edition Thursday, October 12, 2017

Don’t Trust Investors Asking How You’ll Exit To Apple, Says Apple CEO, by Natasha Lomas, TechCrunch

“If you have a VC asking you that you should get up and walk out of the room,” said Cook, qualifying himself slightly by saying that at least is what he would do if he were in such a position.

“You should not be attracted to that kind of money,” he added. “Because those people are not for growing you company and helping you — they’re for a quick buck and it’s not worth it.”

[...]

Responding to a question about how to figure out when you should stick at a product or piece of work which appears to be failing and when to scrap everything and start again, Cook pointed to Apple’s failed Cube desktop as an example of a time when, even with a lot of time and effort invested, the company had made a quick decision to kill off a product.

“It was a very important product for us, we put a lot of love into it, we put enormous engineering into it… It was a spectacular failure commercially — from the first day, almost,” he said. “And within three months we withdrew it. We had to look at ourselves in the mirror and say we missed this one.

15 Fresh Insights Into How Apple Runs Its Business, by Jonny Evans, Computerworld

The central principle to product development at Apple is to build solutions that people at the company “want to use”, said Cook. The argument is that if you want to use it, others will do so too. A second point is to make sure those products are created with care. “I think we sense care in the same way we sense carelessness,” Apple Chief Design Officer, Jony Ive, told the New Yorker.

Tim Cook On The Future Of Fashion And Augmented Reality, by Lauren Indvik, Vogue

Fashion shows are particularly ripe for AR intervention, he said: “If you think about a runway show in the fashion world, that's a great application of AR because some of these, you want to see the dress all the way around, you do not want to just see the front.” That kind of experience is all the more important now that runway shows are catering to a wider consumer audience watching online, and not just those seated in the front rows, he added.

[...]

It will also take some time before we’ll be able to scan and identify other women’s coats on our phones. Cook says the company has no plans to build the giant database of clothes, shoes and other goods that would make it possible. But Apple does plan to support companies who might embark on such an endeavour, he said. “We don't have a plan to collect all of these objects, but I know companies who are working on that for their products,” Cook said. “If you think about companies that offer a fair number of shoes, and [if a customer] sees a shoe and goes I want that one, you just want to point and [buy]. That will be a part of the shopping experience of the future, it absolutely will.”

iOS Update

iOS 11.0.3 Fixes iPhone 7 Audio And Haptic Feedback Issues, by Josh Centers, TidBITS

Apple is continuing its relentless march to deal with important iOS 11 bugs with iOS 11.0.3, the third weekly update since iOS 11’s launch. This one fixes problems with audio and haptic feedback on some iPhone 7 and 7 Plus units.

Apple Services

Ten Burning Questions About Apple's Forthcoming Video Service, by Jason Snell, Six Colors

Apple’s already got a subscription-based digital media service up and running, and it’s Apple Music. That’s where its premium video content has gone so far, so it’s fair to ask if Apple’s TV efforts will simply be added to the existing Apple Music subscription. It would certainly be cleaner and easier if Apple kept adding things to Apple Music and continued trying to grow the Apple Music subscriber base.

But I’m skeptical about this, because Apple’s got a stated goal of growing services revenue, and most of its competitors in the video and music spaces offer individual services, not a single combined one.

Apple In Ireland

Apple’s $1B Irish Data Center Finally Approved, 2.5 Years After It Was Announced, by Ben Lovejoy, 9to5Mac

Apple has finally been granted permission to build its €850M ($1B) European data center in Ireland, more than two-and-a-half years after it was first announced. The decision was made by Ireland’s High Court this morning, after a lengthy planning battle.

The decision was so long delayed that Apple not only had time to complete construction of the Danish data center announced at the same time, but to announce a second one there – raising concerns that the company may have given up on Ireland.

Stuff

Spark Adds Key Email Productivity Features: Send Later And Follow-Up Reminders, by Ryan Christoffel, MacStories

Perhaps the most common use case will be responding to emails late at night and wanting them to send as soon as the next work day kicks off, which the Tomorrow option is perfect for. Thankfully, you can also set a custom date and time. Once you schedule the delivery time, Spark will take care of the rest.

CARROT Weather Adds New CARROT Voices, Weather Underground Improvements, And More, by Ryan Christoffel, MacStories

From the Personality screen in Settings, there are now a variety of new voices that can be set for CARROT, including both female and male options. Among these is FRED, the voice used for the original Mac. My personal favorite is JEEVES, whose smug butler tone makes me feel inferior in a way I thought only the original CARROT could.

Movies Anywhere App Launches With Joint Studio Backing, by Stephanie Prange, Variety

Movies Anywhere, a free app and website digital locker service, launches tonight at 9 p.m. PT, backed by four top digital retailers and content from Walt Disney (including Pixar, Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm), Sony Pictures Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox Film, Universal Pictures and Warner Bros. Entertainment — a combined library of more than 7,300 digital movies.

Movies can be redeemed through digital retailers Amazon Video, Google Play, iTunes and Vudu (owned by Walmart). Movies Anywhere is a Disney-owned entity that operates independently with input from an advisory committee with members from each of the participating studios, according to a Disney spokesperson.

Develop

Why Trello Failed To Build A $1 Billion+ Business, by Hiten Shah, The Journal Blog

Trello was so focused on building its free customer base first and monetizing later; by the time it looked to its paid subscribers, it was too late — they’d already moved on. While that makes Trello a perfect complement to Atlassian’s suite of enterprise productivity tools, it hampered the company from growing further on its own.

The Efficeint-Use-Of-Paper Edition Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Apple’s Paper And Packaging Strategy, by Apple

Note: Link goes to PDF document.

Forests are a wonderful resource for cleaning air, purifying water, sequestering carbon, and sheltering wildlife. As part of Apple’s commitment to resource conservation, we designed and run a program to address the impact of our use of paper for packaging. The initiative started with a detailed assessment of Apple’s fiber use, which led to a three-part strategy: (1) use paper more efficiently and, where possible, use recycled paper; (2) source virgin fiber responsibly; and (3) protect and create sustainable working forests. The third initiative—though not an obvious course of action at the project’s outset—helped ensure that our efforts to source virgin fiber responsibly do not simply take away from the world’s supply of paper derived from sustainably managed forests, but also grow the supply. We hope this case study offers a model from which others can learn and inspires action to protect working forests and ther resources on which we all rely.

Apple Made 2 Simple Changes To iPhone Packaging That Drastically Cut The Amount Of Plastic Headed To The Landfill, by Kif Leswing, Business Insider

Apple did this in two ways: First, iPhones used to use two stacked plastic trays inside the box, one for the actual iPhone and one for its charger and EarPods. The iPhone 7 packaging only has one tray — and it's made out of a kind of paper, not a plastic.

Apple also simplified how it wraps its headphones. Before, your new white earbuds came wrapped in a plastic case. The case wasn't reusable, though, it was only to get the earbuds to the customer safely.

Now, Apple's headphones come wrapped around a stiff cardboard holder that's been folded and cut to perfectly fit into the iPhone box.

The New Retail

Why Is The Genius Bar The Way It Is?, by Henry Grabar, Slate

That ethos has slowly found its way into other companies too. “Everybody’s in the service business, they just don’t all know it yet.” says Robert Stephens, the founder of Geek Squad, a company (later purchased by Best Buy) that glamorized computer repair before Apple did. That meant abandoning the commission-based sales model that has long motivated retail employees. Stephens cited Miracle on 34th Street, in which a Macy’s Santa Claus sends a customer to a rival department store to get what she needs. That, he said, was the “atomic birth of the honest service principle.”

This sense—that company employees are trying to help you, not sell you something—is also the ethos at the Genius Bar, whose cultish, proscriptive training manual is legendary for its emphasis on empathy and vibes in the service of sales. When Johnson and I spoke on the phone this week, he imitated the Yogi-like ethic of a modern retail employee: “I’m not here to sell food or sell computers. I’m here to enrich your life.”

The TV Part Of Apple Music

Steven Spielberg’s ‘Amazing Stories’ Reboot Nears Pickup At Apple, by Nellie Andreeva, Deadline

Apple is zeroing in on a reboot of Steven Spielberg’s Amazing Stories as one of its first series in its foray into original programming under Jamie Erlicht & Zack Van Amburg, heads of the newly formed worldwide video programming division.

The tech giant is nearing a deal for a remake of the cult Spielberg-produced anthology series, which aired from 1985-87 series on NBC. The project, written by Hannibal and American Gods‘ Bryan Fuller, was originally set up at NBC two years ago. It comes from Spielberg’s Amblin TV and Universal TV, with Amblin TV’s Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey executive producing the reboot alongside Fuller.

Spielberg’s ‘Amazing Stories’ Is Just The First Of Apple’s Major TV Deals, by Jason Snell, Macworld

This is just the first of what’s sure to be a hail of announcements this fall and winter. This $50 million investment is a drop in the bucket. The Journal earlier reported that Apple’s expected to have $1 billion to spend on original content this year. That’s not much compared to the $7 billion Netflix is expected to spend next year, but a billion dollars buys an awful lot of programming.

No Apple Glasses Yet

Tim Cook Tells Us About His Plans For Something As Big As The First iPhone, by Andrew Griffin, The Independent

But there’s no doubt that new, AR-focused products will come, from someone else if not Apple – the most obvious application of this technology is in glasses. The idea of eyewear that includes computers was undermined quite a little by Google Glass, and the “glassholes” that wore them, but once you start using augmented reality it’s clear that it would work brilliantly if it were strapped to your face.

[...]

“But today I can tell you the technology itself doesn’t exist to do that in a quality way. The display technology required, as well as putting enough stuff around your face – there’s huge challenges with that.

“The field of view, the quality of the display itself, it’s not there yet,” he says. And as with all of its products, Apple will only ship something if it feels it can do it “in a quality way”.

Monopoly In Own Backyard

Supreme Court Signals Interest In Apple’s Appeal In Consumer Lawsuit, by Greg Stohr, Bloomberg

The Supreme Court asked the Trump administration for advice on a consumer lawsuit that accuses Apple Inc. of trying to monopolize the market for iPhone apps so it can charge excessive commissions.

The request to U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco suggests the justices are interested in hearing Apple’s appeal. The company contends consumers can’t press the antitrust lawsuit because the 30 percent commission is levied on the app developers, not the purchasers.

Stuff

App To Cut Waits For Mental Help To Stop Thousands Needing A&E, by Matt Discombe, Glouchestershire Live

An A&E doctor has designed an app which aims to give mental health patients help on the same day they need it.

Dr Julian Nesbitt has designed the app after finding that thousands of patients try to take their own lives and end up in A&E because they could not access the help they needed fast enough.

Develop

The Guard, by Miachel Lopp, Rands in Repose

After 10 minutes, a New Guard engineer, Jordan raises her hand and asks, “Can we go around the table and introduce ourselves?” It is this moment that makes this meeting memorable.

The silence is deafening. It’s the Old Guard realizing there are strangers in the room. That’s never happened before. It’s the New Guard breathing a mental sigh of relief, “Finally, I am going to figure out who these people are and what they do.”

And, finally, it’s me realizing, “Oh, these people don’t know each other. They’re not a team, yet.”

Bottom of the Page

I did enjoy Amazong Stories, back in the 80s.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Type-Your-Password-Here Edition Tuesday, October 10, 2017

iOS Privacy: Steal.password - Easily Get The User's Apple ID Password, Just By Asking, by Felix Krause

iOS asks the user for their iTunes password for many reasons, the most common ones are recently installed iOS operating system updates, or iOS apps that are stuck during installation.

As a result, users are trained to just enter their Apple ID password whenever iOS prompts you to do so. However, those popups are not only shown on the lock screen, and the home screen, but also inside random apps, e.g. when they want to access iCloud, GameCenter or In-App-Purchases.

This could easily be abused by any app, just by showing an UIAlertController, that looks exactly like the system dialog.

Even users who know a lot about technology have a hard time detecting that those alerts are phishing attacks.

Fast Charging

The iPhone 8's Best Feature Is One That Most People Will Never Get To Use, by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, ZDNet

It's a real shame that most owners will never get to experience fast charging. Apple bundled a standard charger and cable with the new iPhone, which means that to make use of fast charging owners will need Apple's crazy-expensive $25 USB-C to Lightning cable, and a Power Delivery compatible charger.

iPhone Charging Times By Charger, by John Gruber, Daring Fireball

They might know for a fact that “I wish my iPhone charged faster” is low on the list, perhaps because most iPhone users exclusively charge their phones overnight.

Coming Soon

iPhone X Sightings On The Rise In San Francisco, by AppleInsider

iPhone X is increasingly making early appearances as Apple employees routinely carry around the new device and use it openly in public. If it had a less distinctive design, perhaps nobody would have noticed.

Apple Working On Fix For Reachability Bug In iOS 11, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

Apple is working on a fix for a Reachability bug that prevents the new iOS 11 Cover Screen with Notifications from being accessible from the middle of the iPhone's display, Apple engineering chief Craig Federighi told a MacRumors reader this afternoon.

Twitterrific Back On macOS

Twitterrific For Mac Is Back: First Impressions And Comparison With Tweetbot, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

The Iconfactory said its goal was to deliver a minimal Twitter client, like the original Twitterrific for Mac, but with a feature set that caters to how people use Twitter in 2017, as opposed to 2007.

Only eight months have passed since the crowdfunding campaign began, so some key features are still missing at launch, but The Iconfactory promises they will be added in subsequent updates to the app.

Twitterrific For macOS Review, by John Voorhees, MacStories

Where Twitterrific for macOS succeeds, however, is by offering a solid set of core functionality on which The Iconfactory can build additional features. The launch-day feature set is sufficient for most users and, I expect more power-user features will come over time. I’ve used the app throughout the Kickstarter beta period and expect to continue using it, though I’m not ready to commit to it full time without the ability to create muffles on my Mac. Still, in a category that hasn’t seen much action on the Mac in recent years, it’s great to see Twitterrific back in the mix.

Payer Plus D'impôt

Apple's Cook Meets Macron In Paris Amid Calls For Tech Taxes, by Gregory Viscusi, Bloomberg

Apple Inc. Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook met Emmanuel Macron in Paris Monday, and according to French officials he didn’t push back against calls by the French president and European allies to change rules in the region to get technology giants to pay more taxes.

[...]

Macron is leading a group of countries -- including Germany, Italy and Spain -- that are seeking a way to plug the European loopholes that allow some companies to minimize taxes by funneling profits to jurisdictions such as Ireland or the Netherlands. Macron’s office said the two didn’t discuss past tax disputes, but Cook accepted that fiscal laws worldwide are shifting toward making companies pay tax where money is actually earned.

Apple Praises French iPhone Work Before Talking Tax With Macron, by Mathieu Rosemain, Reuters

The Apple chief executive paid a surprise visit to Eldim, a Normandy-based firm that has tested optical technology used in the facial recognition system inside new top-of-the-range iPhone X smartphones due out next month. [...] “Bravo for your work!”, Cook said on his official Twitter account in French. A picture of him chatting with Eldim employees was also posted.

Shutting Down Windows Mobile

Windows Phone Is Now Officially Dead: A Sad Tale Of What Might Have Been, by Peter Bright, Ars Technica

As if the hardware and software missteps were not enough, public displays of "no confidence" were the final nail in the coffin of the platform. In July 2015, Microsoft's new CEO Satya Nadella announced that 7,800 employees, primarily from the company's hardware division, were to be laid off, while the near-$8 billion value of the Nokia business was to be written down. Sources close to the matter tell us that these layoffs are the reason for, for example, the lack of CDMA support in Windows Mobile 10: the people with the relevant technical expertise were simply let go.

We've also heard of consequences beyond that; people within the company have told us that Microsoft's tardiness at updating the Surface Pro, for example, was fallout of these hardware layoffs. Microsoft didn't (and perhaps still doesn't) have enough personnel to develop the Xbox One S, Xbox One X, and Surface Studio and revise the Surface Pro and Surface Book at the same time.

In its stronger markets, Windows Phone just about held steady over 2014 before declining sharply in 2015 and 2016. The lack of desirable hardware, the lack of progress in the software, and the lack of management support meant that, instead of building on the successes of 2012 and 2013, Windows on phones was allowed to die.

Microsoft's Foray Into Phones Was A Bumbling, Half-hearted Fiasco, And Nadella Always Knew It, by Michael Allison, The Register

Microsoft's struggle with mobile will surely go down as another black mark on the firm's track record of coming late to market, of refining its product and of eviscerating the competition through a combination of product, pricing and channel and partner relationships. As the creator of the world's most widely used desktop operating systems and one-time browser king, it was inconceivable that Microsoft would be unable to similarly dominate the mobile market.

Yet, due to a series of missteps, misfortunes and misjudgements, Microsoft left the mobile market, with nothing to show for it but broken partnerships and waning influence in an increasingly mobile-first world.

Stuff

Apple TV 4K Review: Ambition, Meet Reality, by Samuel Axon, Ars Technica

Using the Apple TV 4K, I can see and appreciate Apple’s vision for a better TV experience. However, the realities of the entertainment business have prevented that vision from being fully realized—the Apple TV 4K might still be a little too far ahead of its time.

Attempted renovation of the overall TV browsing and viewing experience aside, this device still aims to be the best, most advanced TV streaming device on the market. Generally, it succeeds, but its high cost and dependency on other Apple services makes it fall just shy of an unqualified recommendation.

Apple Watch Series 3 Review: watchOS 4, Cellular, Battery Life, Design, by Jonny Evans, Computerworld

That’s the thing about Apple Watch – it weaves itself so intimately inside your daily experience you begin to use it unconsciously. Just like a watch.

Keyboard Maestro 8 Automates Even More Of Your Mac Life, by Adam C. Engst, TidBITS

Of all the utilities I couldn’t live without on my Mac, Peter Lewis’s Keyboard Maestro is perhaps the most important. It helps me switch between apps, type frequently used text, open collections of apps for specific tasks, set up my Mac at appropriate times for automated tasks, and a whole host of other things.

GoodNotes Adds Drag And Drop Flexibility, by John Voorhees, MacStories

The app excels as a way to capture handwritten or typed notes, but one of its greatest strengths is the ability to combine notes with other media, which drag and drop makes easier than ever.

Bobby: Subscription Tracking Made Easy, by Ryan Christoffel, MacStories

Bobby’s goal is to provide easy insight into the fixed costs in your life. Once you get the app up and running, opening it provides a quick overview of all current subscriptions, sorted by the dates those payments are due. After you plug in your subscriptions, Bobby is a simple, attractive point of reference for seeing exactly where your money’s going. But the task of inputting subscriptions is still important, and Bobby excels at streamlining the process.

Develop

The First 150 Days Of Van Life, by Jakob Class, Ruby On Wheels

Since I’ve lived in my van I’ve never felt the need for a vacation or a change. Instead of following a fixed plan, I get inspired by random ideas: When the waves are great, I go surfing. When it’s chill and fresh, I work. When it’s hot, I go for a swim. When I’m tired, I sleep. When I like a place, I stay. When I meet someone cool, I join them for a while. When my van breaks, I try to get it fixed.

Bottom of the Page

If someone wants you to call him a 'he', you'll oblige, right? If someone wants you to call her a 'she', you'll do that too, right?

If a computer company asks you to write as 'NeXT', will you? If a magazine asks you to write as 'TidBITS', will you?

If a phone company asks you to pronounce as 'Ten', will you, or will you contineu to call it an 'Ex'?

~

Thanks for reading.

The Special-Version Edition Monday, October 9, 2017

Apple Still Offers An iTunes Version With App Store, Ringtones And Other Features Removed In ‘Focused’ iTunes 12.7, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

Apple offers a special version of iTunes, iTunes 12.6.3, which retains the features that were abruptly removed in iTunes 12.7.

Apple positions this build as necessary for some businesses performing internal app deployments but it is available to download by anyone.

The Mac Is No Longer At The Heart Of Apple, by Anthony Caruana, Macworld Australia

It’s unfortunate but if you want to stay within the Apple fold, iCloud is fast become the new hub. In the long term, that’s probably not a bad thing as it means your data, apps and services will follow you around and be device independent. But until ubiquitous, fast, reliable and affordable internet connectivity is available to everyone, there will be some people who simply are unable to keep up with Apple in the new world.

Reverse Engineering macOS High Sierra Supplemental Update, by Cocoa Engineering

An unfortunate bug in macOS High Sierra stained a bit its generally well-received debut, and from this root-case analysis we can learn what happened exactly and how good software development practices (including testable design and strict code reviews) can help reduce the chance that this kind of problems happen again in the future.

Stuff

Plex Vs. EyeTV: Which Mac DVR App Is Best?, by Nathan Alterman, iMore

EyeTV boasts many superior individual features, like live TV and more precise scheduling. If you want to fine-tune your recording schedules, or more easily automate your recordings with AppleScript, you may want to go with EyeTV despite its idiosyncrasies and its hefty up-front price.

But for most users, EyeTV's strong suits aren't strong enough to outweigh Plex's good looks and impressive ease of use. EyeTV hasn't seen a major update in years — and likely won't, since it was recently sold to new owner Geniatech, which seems uninterested in investing too heavily in its development. Meanwhile, Plex is already working on bringing live TV (and hopefully commercial skipping) to its Mac app in future versions. Its ability to incorporate music and movies, and especially to stream your content anywhere you go, leaves EyeTV eating its dust.

Parallels Desktop 13 Review: Now Your MacBook Pro Touch Bar Works With Windows, Too, by J.R. Bookwalter , Macworld

If you own a MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, Parallels Desktop 13 for Mac is a must-have upgrade. That’s because key features of Windows 10 will now appear on the Touch Bar while a VM is running, a feature that works straight away for the Start Menu, Cortana, Desktop, File Explorer, and popular web browsers like Edge, Chrome, and Firefox.

Beats Studio 3 Wireless Headphones Review: Apple Pairs Noise Cancellation And The W1 Chip, by Serenity Caldwell, iMore

They're not quite as comfortable or top-tier as the QC35s, but if easy connectivity and lengthy battery life matters to you more than having the edge in comfort or industry-leading noise cancellation, they're a solid alternative and more than worth considering.

Bottom of the Page

On some mornings, I wake up and feel that I am ready to go out and help solve problems. These are not profound problems -- I'm definitely not solving problems of world-hunger or world-peace's magnitute. These are just some problems some people have, and I help solve them so that I get to eat and buy an iPhone or two.

And then, on some mornings, I wake up and realize that I am just writing some PHP codes to make sure the number over there tallies with the number over here, and I feel depressed.

~

Some iTunes programmer somewhere in Apple Park or Infinite Loop is progressing nicely along the way, streamlining and refactoring the giant beast known as iTunes, when some supervisor comes over and say, hey, our enterprise customers are having some problems with the latest version of iTunes, can you please solve their problems? And this programmer look at the problems, and say, screw it, just retrieve some older version of iTunes from the source control, put in online, and call it a day.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Timeless-Design Edition Sunday, October 8, 2017

iPhone X With New Wallpaper Shown Off In The Wild Thanks To New Video, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

One interesting tidbit in the video is the wallpaper. This wallpaper is a new dynamic option and is seemingly exclusive to the iPhone X, which makes sense as black will look stunning on the OLED display.

Apple’s iPhone SE Has The Reached The Same, Exalted Evolutionary Pinnacle As The Cockroach, by Michael J. Coren, Quartz

The SE has proven to be the culmination of the most timeless iPhone designs Apple has produced, and it may remain so for a very long time. Its basic design comes directly from the iPhone 5 launched in 2012, which rounded off the iPhone 4’s boxy edges and dropped the glass backing. While smaller and less powerful than its successors, the SE is the ur-machine, the blueprint for a device that has come to define the digital age.

Tax Talk

Apple CEO Tim Cook To Meet French President Macron On Monday, by Tim Hardwick, MacRumors

Apple CEO Tim Cook will meet French president Emmanuel Macron on Monday, according to the Élysée Palace's official published agenda. Cook has been invited to the head of state's Paris residence for an afternoon meeting, but the reasons for the visit have not yet been made public.

[...]

France has called for an aggressive overhaul of how tech companies like Apple pay tax across the European Union, and President Macron is one of the leaders behind the tax crackdown, which has a goal of bringing a more unified corporate tax system across the euro states.

Type Talk

A Five Minutes Guide To Better Typography, by Pierrick Calvez

Typography is the technique of arranging type for Effective communication and a bit of delight.

Bottom of the Page

There is an AR app out there that solves Sudoku puzzles.

That is not what I want. What I do want is to point the camera to my half-solved Sudoku puzzle (in my paper-based book), and start giving me hints on how to approach the puzzle.

~

Actually, come to think of it: why do you need AR to solve Sudoku puzzles?

~

Thanks for reading.

The Created-With-Care Edition Saturday, October 7, 2017

4 Thoughts On Design From Apple Chief Design Officer Jony Ive, by Marty Swant, AdWeek

Asked what he detests, Ive said “most things.” That’s because he said most things are built in an opportunistic way, either because of cost or a demanding schedule. He said products are very rarely “built for people.”

Ive said the design team was inspired by the “loathing” the team members had for their older, pre-iPhone phones. He said they were “soul destroying.” Ive said that while we don’t always know why we might like something, we can sense when it’s created with care. That relates to everything, from selecting raw materials down to the design process.

Jony Ive Design Talk At The New Yorker TechFest, by Zac Hall, 9to5Mac

Jony says there are two behaviors: being inquisitive and curious and light on your feet. But at the same time, if you’re going to do something new, there’s a reason it hasn’t been done before and you must be determined. He said this change is exhausting but required.

Jony Ive Is A Human Man With Good Taste In Shoes, by Adam Clark Estes, Gizmodo

I thought about the interview and realized how many times David Remnick asked Ive a question and invited him to be humble. Ive never bit. He’d meander his way back to discussing the search for perfection, the quest to build things with paramount utility that not only worked well but looked great. And in looking around my world, I realized once again how Jony Ive (along with Steve Jobs and an army of geniuses in Cupertino) has managed to create a series of products that are as ubiquitous as the shoes on our feet. No wonder Ive’s not so eager to be humble. He’s still human, though.

Apple Rather Have Uber Than TextExpander In the App Store

Sandbox Transparency, by Daniel Jalkut, Bitsplitting.org

Mac apps such as TextExpander essentially became unqualified for the Mac App Store with the advent of sandboxing, because they require access to system services such as monitoring the user’s keyboard input, in order to provide valuable macro text substitution. If entitlements were transparent across the board, and users were consistently informed about the extent of an application’s capabilities, it would empower users to make more reasonable decisions about the software they run. It would empower them to allow apps like TextExpander that are currently disallowed by the App Store’s sandboxing policies, and it would empower them to reject apps like Uber that are, surprisingly, allowed to capture footage of users’ activity even when running other apps.

Apple's Staffing

Apple's Bruce Sewell Retires As General Counsel, Replaced By Former Honeywell Exec Katherine Adams, by Roger Fingas, AppleInsider

Apple on Friday revealed that the company's current general counsel, Bruce Sewell, will be retiring at the end of 2017, to be replaced by Katherine Adams, who was previously a senior VP and general counsel for Honeywell.

Apple's Exec In Charge Of Back-end Technology For iCloud Has Left, by Jordan Novet, CNBC

Eric Billingsley, director of internet services operations at Apple, was in charge of operating infrastructure for iCloud services, including the iCloud Drive document storage service that competes with services like Dropbox and Microsoft's OneDrive.

A source close to the situation said that Billingsley's old team is reporting to engineering vice president Patrice Gautier.

Shutting Down AIM

So Long, AIM. For Years, For Millions, You Were The Internet, by David Pierce, Wired

For all we like to worry about how much of life happens on the internet now, a lot of life happened on AIM. Friendships and relationships started, ended, and often took place mostly in a chat window. It always started the same way: one person waiting for the other's name to pop up on their Buddy List, then trying to wait at least a few seconds before chatting them so as not to seem desperate. Long before group texts, we planned life on AIM.

[...]

Even now, there are features AIM figured out that nobody else has successfully replicated. If someone was trolling you or being offensive on AIM, you had real power: a "warn" button that would actually slow down the internet connection of the person on the other side before eventually cutting them off. It's odd, too, that away messages have disappeared: in a world where we'd all like to be a little less connected, a way to say "I'm here but not really" couldn't be more useful.

AIM Was Perfect, And Now It Will Die, by Robinson Meyer, The Atlantic

AIM showed us how to live online, for good and for ill. We all live our whole lives in text chains and group threads now. We plan every hangout, we send every news article, we proclaim every relationship in the river of text it taught us to sail. Honestly, that river has been a little scary lately. Instant messaging, once a special thrill, now sets the texture of our common life. But AIM taught us how to live online first. So AIM, my old buddy, don’t feel bad if you see us shedding a tear. We know what you have to do. For we’ll see you waving from such great heights—

“Come down now,” we’ll say.

But everything looks perfect from far away.

“Come down now,” but you’ll stay.

Stuff

Review: Beats Studio3 Wireless Offers Noise Cancellation & Apple's W1, At A Premium Price, by Roger Fingas, AppleInsider

If you want Apple W1 features and noise cancellation, this is the only game in town. Some people will also prefer the Beats look as a fashion statement.

Autistic Students Use App To Learn The Basics Of Music In Richmond Area Schools, by Justin Mattingly, Richmond Times

Across the U.S., one in 68 children -- or 1.5 percent -- has autism spectrum disorder, according to the CDC. Helping build foundational music knowledge helps this growing population, Van Dam said.

“It’s expressive. You can say something about how you feel,” he said. “It’s giving kids the opportunity to explore what they want to say.”

Pixelmator For macOS Updated With HEIF And Apple Photos Support, by John Voorhees, MacStories

In addition to bug fixes, Pixelmator 3.7 supports importing HEIF image files. Pixelmator can be opened directly from Apple Photos now too.

Develop

Apple Urges Developers To Create And Promote ARKit Apps, by Mikey Campbell, AppleInsider

A brief message posted to Apple's Developer News and Updates webpage outlines three key resources produced to assist in the creation and marketing of ARKit apps.

Why Many Developers Still Prefer Objective-C To Swift, by Paul Hudson, Hacking With Swift

But if you’re still using Objective-C, you’re not alone – many other developers still prefer Objective-C to Swift, and with good reasons. I got in touch with some Objective-C developers to ask what’s holding them back, whether they feel Objective-C development has become stigmatized, and more – here’s what they had to say…

Don’t Get Too Comfortable At That Desk, by Steve Lohr, New York Times

New office designs are coming to a workplace near you, with layouts meant to cater to the variety of tasks required of modern white-collar workers. Put another way, it means people don’t sit in just one place.

[...]

The new model eschews the common dogmas of work life: Everybody gets an office, or everyone gets a cubicle, or everybody gets a seat on a workbench. A diversity of spaces, experts say, is more productive, and the new concept is called “activity-based workplace design,” tailoring spaces for the kind of work done.

The Supplemental-High Edition Friday, October 6, 2017

macOS High Sierra 10.13 Supplemental Update Fixes Early Bugs, by Adam C. Engst, TidBITS

The company has taken its first swing at the most egregious problems in macOS 10.13 High Sierra, not with the 10.13.1 update that we had expected, but with the “macOS High Sierra 10.13 Supplemental Update.” It’s highly focused, providing fixes for five specific problems.

Apple Fixes The Disk Utility APFS Bug: What You Need To Know!, by Rene Ritchie, iMore

The number of people affected — those with physical access to a device with an existing APFS container that also has an additional, encrypted APFS container who wouldn't also have the password to that container — is probably tiny. Still, Apple has provided the following instructions for how to roll back even under those circumstances.

[...]

Also note, if you used the same password for your encrypted APFS container as any other accounts (for example, your Mac user account), change those accounts. Better safe than sorry.

I Love You

Apple Reveals New Emoji Coming Soon To iOS 11.1, by Sam Byford, The Verge

Apple has shown off more emoji characters coming to iOS in the future 11.1 update. The characters are part of Unicode 10, which added 56 new emoji; Apple is revealing over 30 of its new designs today in addition to the handful the company put out on World Emoji Day earlier this year.

What Was Apple Thinking

Researchers: Uber’s iOS App Had Secret Permissions That Allowed It To Copy Your Phone Screen, by Kate Conger, Gizmodo

To improve functionality between Uber’s app and the Apple Watch, Apple allowed Uber to use a powerful tool that could record a user’s iPhone screen, even if Uber’s app was only running in the background, security researchers told Gizmodo. After the researchers discovered the tool, Uber said it is no longer in use and will be removed from the app.

The screen recording capability comes from what’s called an “entitlement”—a bit of code that app developers can use for anything from setting up push notifications to interacting with Apple systems like iCloud or Apple Pay. This particular entitlement, however, isn’t common and would require Apple’s explicit permission to use, the researchers explained. Will Strafach, a security researcher and CEO of Sudo Security Group, said he couldn’t find any other apps with the entitlement live on the App Store.

New Behaviors Warrant Different Icons

iOS 11’s Misleading “Off-ish” Setting For Bluetooth And Wi-Fi Is Bad For User Security, by Shahid Buttar, Electronic Frontier Foundation

When a phone is designed to behave in a way other than what the UI suggests, it results in both security and privacy problems. A user has no visual or textual clues to understand the device's behavior, which can result in a loss of trust in operating system designers to faithfully communicate what’s going on. Since users rely on the operating system as the bedrock for most security and privacy decisions, no matter what app or connected device they may be using, this trust is fundamental.

In an attempt to keep you connected to Apple devices and services, iOS 11 compromises users' security. Such a loophole in connectivity can potentially leave users open to new attacks.

I Can Quit Anytime I Want

'Our Minds Can Be Hijacked': The Tech Insiders Who Fear A Smartphone Dystopia, by Paul Lewis, The Guardian

Justin Rosenstein had tweaked his laptop’s operating system to block Reddit, banned himself from Snapchat, which he compares to heroin, and imposed limits on his use of Facebook. But even that wasn’t enough. In August, the 34-year-old tech executive took a more radical step to restrict his use of social media and other addictive technologies.

Rosenstein purchased a new iPhone and instructed his assistant to set up a parental-control feature to prevent him from downloading any apps.

Stuff

Apple Watch Series 3 Review: The Start Of Something Big, by Jason Snell, Six Colors

The Apple Watch Series 3 is noticeably faster than the Series 2 (let alone the original model), making the interface much more responsive and reducing annoying wait times. In a glanceable device like the Apple Watch, there is perhaps no greater sin than forcing the user to stare at a spinning animation while… nothing… happens. That happens a lot less on the Series 3 watch, and the waits (when they appear) are much more brief. Siri also tends to come up faster, though there are still frustrating random pauses where I’m not allowed to talk to Siri. With Apple Watch Series 3, Siri can talk back to you, which is a good addition—the last thing I need to do is stare intently at my wrist for longer than I need to.

Keymand Review: Turn Your iPad Into A Keyboard Shortcut Powerhouse For Your Mac, by J.R. Bookwalter, Macworld

Keymand is an iPad app that turn the iPad into an application-specific keyboard for Mac applications like Final Cut Pro. Hardware application-specific keyboards exist, but they aren’t particularly well-suited to tasks beyond the ones for the apps they are designed for. Keymand can work with a wide array of apps, not just production apps that most application-specific keyboards focus on.

ScreenFlow 7 - The Best Mac Screen Capture Software Just Got Better, by Erik Vlietinck, Redshark News

We already had project libraries, now you can show assets under the Global Library icon and store and reuse common assets here, such as your intro/outro graphics for each video. This is going to be a real time saver and it will also save some space on your disk.

The Design-Language Edition Thursday, October 5, 2017

From Phones To Tablets: 26 Apple Designs That Never Came To Be, by Hartmut Esslinger, Fast Company

In 1982, Apple was in its sixth year of existence, and Steve Jobs, Apple’s cofounder and Chairman, was twenty-eight years old. Steve, intuitive and fanatical about great design, realized that the company was in crisis. With the exception of the aging Apple IIe, the company’s products were failing against IBM’s PCs. And they all were ugly, especially the Apple III and soon-to-be-released Apple Lisa. The company’s previous CEO, Michael Scott, had created different “business divisions” for each product line, including accessories such as monitors and memory drives. Each division had its own head of design and developed its product line any way it wanted to. As a result, Apple’s products shared little in the way of a common design language or overall synthesis. In essence, bad design was both the symptom and a contributing cause of Apple’s corporate disease. Steve’s desire to end this disjointed approach gave birth to a strategic design project that would revolutionize Apple’s brand and product lines, change the trajectory of the company’s future, and eventually redefine the way the world thinks about and uses consumer electronics and communication technologies.

The idea for the project was inspired by the work of the Richardson Smith Design Agency (later acquired by Fitch) for Xerox in which the designers collaborated with multiple divisions within Xerox to create a single high-level “design language” that the company could implement throughout its organization. Jerry Manock, the designer of the Apple II and head of design in Apple’s Macintosh division, and Rob Gemmell, head of design in the Apple II division, created a plan in which they would invite global designers to Apple headquarters and, after interviewing all of them, stage a competition between the two top candidates. Apple would choose a final winner and then use that design as the framework for its new design language. No one knew at that time, however, that we were in the process of transforming Apple into a company whose design-based strategy and innovation-over-money approach would make it a global success.

Excerpt from Design Forward: Creative Strategies for Sustainable Change, by Hartmut Esslinger.

Apple Releases watchOS 4.0.1 Update For Series 3 Models With Fix For Cellular Bug, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

watchOS 4.0.1 addresses a serious Wi-Fi bug impacting the performance of the new LTE-enabled Apple Watch Series 3 models.

More Incidents Surface Of iPhone 8 Plus Devices Burst Open Due To Possible Battery Failure, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

There are now at least five cases of possible iPhone 8 Plus battery failure, following reports in Taiwan, Japan, and Hong Kong last week.

The Ohio State University Working With Apple On Digital Learning Initiative, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

Ohio State University today announced that it has worked with Apple to create a comprehensive, university-wide digital learning experience that includes an iOS design laboratory and opportunities for students to learn coding skills.

Called the Digital Flagship University, the initiative will include an effort to integrate learning technology into the entire university experience. Along with the aforementioned iOS design lab, which will be available to faculty, staff, students, and members of the broader community, the university will aim to help students "enhance their career-readiness in the app economy."

Apple ‘Acqui-hired’ The Team From Messaging Assistant Init.ai To Work On Siri, by Ingrid Lunden, TechCrunch

Earlier this week, a small startup called Init.ai announced that it soon would be discontinuing its service — a smart assistant for customer representatives to parse and get better insights from their interactions with users, as well as automate some of the interactions — because the team was (according to a notice on the site) “joining a project that touches the lives of countless people across the world.” TechCrunch has now learned what that project is: the team is joining Apple.

They are becoming a part of the group working on Siri, Apple’s own personal assistant that uses voice-based commands and natural language to answer questions, control your phone and more.

Stuff

Kidsburgh: High School Senior Develops Fun Grammar App, by Kristine Sorensen, CBS

“My English grammar teacher asked, ‘Why isn’t there an app to create automatically-generated sentences and test you for it?'” he said.

Friedlander took that to heart and created one, learning coding mostly on his own. He started with a basic prototype and fine-tuned it into the app he named Grammatica Academy.

Microsoft Edge Browser Comes To iPhone Today, by Daniel Rubino, iMore

Microsoft's main goal with the Edge browser for iPhone and Android users is to make sharing documents easier and help you pick up where you left off when using Windows 10.

Develop

Apple Removes Dice Games And Catalogs Categories From App Store, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

Apps currently listed under the Dice subcategory of Games will simply be found under the generic Games category, unless developers choose an alternate subcategory.

[...]

For apps currently listed under the ‘Catalog’ category, Apple will automatically migrate affected apps to the Shopping category on November 6, 2017. Developers are free to choose a more relevant alternative at will.

UI Design For iPhone X: Top Elements And The Notch, by Max Rudberg

Don’t use the status bar area to animate rainbow colors shooting out of the notch.

Delete Your Cod, by Ruairidh Wynne-McHardy, Hacker Noon

We are all attached to the things that we create. From our relationships, to our work, to trivial things like the way we decorate our home — we don’t like to destroy things that we have put effort into.

That’s why it’s even more important to delete your code.

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I want my iPhone-X-style swipe-up-to-go-home gesture on my iPhone 6. Please?

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Thanks for reading.

The Upgrading-Decision Edition Wednesday, October 4, 2017

PDFKit Improves Somewhat In High Sierra, by Adam C. Engst, TidBITS

My take is that those who rely on PDF support in independent apps are probably better off upgrading to High Sierra than remaining on Sierra, since Apple has fixed some bugs. If you have instead stuck with 10.11 El Capitan, you may wish to delay upgrading to High Sierra until you can verify that the apps you rely on for PDF-related features are fully functional in High Sierra.

iOS 11.0.2 Fixes iPhone 8 Crackling, by Josh Centers, TidBITS

iOS 11.0.2 also addresses a bug that could cause photos to become hidden and fixes another that could prevent you from opening attachments in encrypted email messages.

Designing

iPhone 8, Qi Wireless Charging, And The Challenge Of Open, by Ben Bajarin, TechPinions

While Apple’s embracing of the Qi standard means they will certainly get involved and help drive the standard and the technology forward, for now, Apple runs the risk of having third-party solutions not meet their standards of an accessory that will work with iPhones.

[...]

Open systems/standards are necessary for many things basic to consumer electronics. Things like ports for example. But I’d argue that wireless charging may not be one of them. In a few years, we may look back and the landscape has changed and the Qi standard has improved. But I, for one, would have been entirely content if Apple would have built a proprietary wireless charging solution, and simply made it the best customer experience by controlling all the variables.

Redesigning History: Apple Was Never Perfect, by The Macalope, Macworld

Apple’s flaws are usually real but generally exaggerated and people tend to draw the wrong conclusions from them.

Stretching The Truth With iPhone X, by Ken Segall

“It’s all screen,” says the headline. Yet, astonishingly, the image focuses almost entirely on the only two parts of the phone that are not screen—the visible edge and the notch.

Kind of amazing, actually. Especially for Apple. In the past, it’s been so very good at shining a powerful light on its products’ best features. Here, that light seems so badly aimed.

Competing

How Apple And Amazon Built ‘Moats’ To Stave Off The Competition, by Scott Galloway, CNBC

Google and Samsung are both coming for Apple. But they are more likely to produce a better phone than to replicate the romance, connection, and general awesomeness of Apple's stores. So, every successful firm in the digital age needs to ask: In addition to big, tall walls, where can I build deep moats? That is, old-economy barriers that are expensive and take a long time to dredge (and for competitors to cross). Apple has done this superbly, continually investing in the world's best brand, and in stores.

Apple, Wall Street And Hollywood Are Lost In Translation, by Shira Ovide, Bloomberg

The predicament Apple faces in entertainment is part of the company's awkward transformation. The revolutions Apple produced in computing with the iPhone and in music listening with iTunes are harder to come by. CEO Tim Cook has been promising for five years a revolution in video entertainment but instead has delivered a series of aimless or failed strategies.

The company absolutely has the cash and cachet to deliver some thrilling TV series and movies, and the world will make a big deal about them. But Apple hasn't yet proved that it's more than just another checkbook for Hollywood, nor has it shown investors that its programming strategy will do much for the bottom line.

Orthogonal Pivots, by Horace Dediu, Asymco

Microsoft saw the limits of modularity when new product categories emerged and when new user behaviors were created. They attempted to pivot into being more integrated but those efforts also failed. The efforts continue today with Surface devices, looking forward, will continue with AR/VR and perhaps a pivot of Xbox.

But the long arc of history shows how hard it is to succeed in vertical integration after you build on horizontal foundations. Generations of managers graduated from the modular school of thought, specializing rather than generalizing. Now they are facing an integrated experiential world where progress depends on wrapping the mind around very broad systems problems.

Apple News Lets Publishers Test Serving Ads From Google's DoubleClick, by Garett Sloane, AdAge

A select group of publishers are testing ad insertions into their Apple News pages using DoubleClick For Publishers, according to a number of publishing executives familiar with the trial. Publishers like Condé Nast, Gannett, Time Inc., CNN and other media partners have been in talks with Apple for months about changing the technology behind the ads in the popular news app. Many publishers already use Google's DoubleClick on their own properties and want the ability to just extend campaigns using their own tech.

"Apple is just starting to do more for monetization," said one digital publishing partner, speaking on condition of anonymity. "We're starting to get excited about it, but can only design and develop ad inventory for Apple News once we have the right pipes in place."

Money Problem

Apple And Qualcomm’s Billion-Dollar War Over An $18 Part, by Max Chafkin, Bloomberg

But Apple can be as coldly calculating as it is dazzling. There will be lots of romantic stories about 10 years’ worth of iPhones published in the coming weeks. This is not one of those stories. This is a story about the power dynamics in one of the world’s largest industries.

It’s based in part on court documents filed as part of a dispute over one of the most expensive and, arguably, most important parts of the phone: the wireless modem. The story starts two summers ago, at a conference in Idaho, where a senior Apple executive, probably Cook, and a senior Samsung Electronics Co. executive, most likely Vice Chairman Jay Y. Lee, shared a quiet word.

Europe Hits Ireland Over $15B In Unpaid Apple Taxes; Luxembourg Liable For $294M In Amazon Taxes, by Ingrid Lunden, TechCrunch

The EC says that Ireland has failed to collect up to €13 billion in taxes from iphone maker Apple — roughly $15 billion in today’s currency, and it is therefore now referring the case to the European Court of Justice. And Luxembourg gave e-commerce giant Amazon (which bases its European HQ there) illegal tax benefits worth €250 million — or $294 million in today’s currency. Both are considered illegal state aid in the eyes of the Commission, and it is demanding that the states recover the money from the two companies in question.

Stuff

Augmented Reality Teddy Bear Teaches Kids About Being A Doctor, by Jon Fingas, Engadget

The teddy by itself is the same sort of fluffy companion you likely had as a child, but an augmented reality app for iOS turns the bear into something much more. If you want to play doctor, you can look at Parker's insides to cure a stomach bug or ease a sore throat. You can create magic forests and sea gardens using the AR camera. And importantly you're rewarded for being kind: the more you take care of Parker, the more the bear uses AR to 'transform' the world around you.

Philips Hue Switches And Sensors Now Work In iOS's Home App...mostly, by Dan Moren, Six Colors

Smart home devices are still a morass of different apps and standards, so when I get a chance to consolidate, I jump at it. Thus, this morning’s update to the Philips Hue iOS app and firmware, which lets you configure your Hue switches and sensors from iOS’s own Home app, seemed like a great opportunity to simplify my setup.

But, as it so often turns out, the results were kind of mixed.

Adobe Introduces Photoshop And Premiere Elements 2018 With A Focus On Memory Curation, Content Intelligence, And More, by Michael Steeber, 9to5Mac

Most individuals shoot all of their photos and videos with smartphones, and Adobe realizes this. The convenience of having a camera with you at all times has made it easy to be inundated with content. Without conscious effort, photos and videos get lost in the shuffle, never to be viewed again.

It’s more important than ever before to be able to quickly make creations from your media and share them with friends and family who care. New in Elements Organizer 2018 are tools specifically designed around this goal.

'Stranger Things: The Game' Releasing Today, Is Appropriately Retro, by Tasos Lazarides, TouchArcade

This completely free game (no IAPs no anything) is pretty unforgiving, as were games back in the 80s, so it comes with two difficulty modes: Classic, for those used to dying a lot, and Normal, for those who want to explore the game at their own pace without fearing (spoilers) that they'll meet Barb's fate.

Develop

Accessibility, by Brent Simmons, Inessential

It’s personal to me now, by the way, at age 49: I use the Dynamic Type feature on my iOS devices to bump up the font size. Though I run into layout bugs from time to time, I’m still utterly grateful that the feature exists and that so many developers have adopted it (or done the equivalent in their apps).

Without that feature I’d be an iOS programmer who has a hard time actually using an iPhone. Which would be dumb.

My App Story, by John Voorhees, MacStories

I had no idea what I was getting myself into, which was good. Okay, that’s not entirely accurate. If you rewind even further, I’d spent the better part of the preceding five years helping my oldest son find the resources he needed to become an iOS developer. In the process, I’d learned a little myself, but hadn’t gotten beyond the most rudimentary of projects.

I got to working evenings and weekends in fits and starts studying the iTunes Search API, figuring out a way to bend it to my will, and learning Objective C. By WWDC in 2014, I had a mess of spaghetti code that, to my surprise, worked.

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If only there is an Accessibility option in macOS and iOS that changes all gray-text-on-gray-background to black-text-on-white-background.

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Thanks for reading.

The Finally-NFC Edition Tuesday, October 3, 2017

An MLB Team Is Using The iPhone’s NFC Feature For Contactless Stadium Entry, by Fitz Tepper, TechCrunch

When Apple announced iOS 11 last spring, one of the stand-out features was that the company would finally give developers access to the iPhone’s NFC chip. While Apple has used NFC contactless technology to power Apple Pay in the iPhone and Apple Watch for a few years, the hardware had never been available to developers – until now.

Today the MLB announced that the Oakland Athletics are piloting a new NFC ticketing solution which lets fans enter the stadium by tapping their phone (or Apple Watch) to a ticket scanner – just like you’d do to use Apple Pay.

Silicon Valley, by Horace Dediu, Asymco

So while the “Silicon” in Silicon Valley has come to be seen as an anachronism, silicon development today means competitive advantage. The only problem is that it takes years, decades even to establish competence. The same duration that it took for the building of Apple as a design-centric business fronted by Jony Ive.

Apple also now needs to be understood along the dimension of of silicon-centric engineering as led by Johny Srouji.

One Chef’s Ingenious Solution To Phones At The Table, by Monica Burton, Eater

Diners at Hearth, the newly health-conscious, 13-year-old restaurant from James Beard award-winning chef Marco Canora, may have noticed a new addition to their place settings in recent weeks. Next to plates, napkins, and utensils there are now boxes. Some are old cigar boxes, others kitschy Etsy finds — but all of them are big enough to contain a few cell phones, because the boxes are Canora’s solution to what he views as harmful cell phone addiction.

Stuff

High Sierra's Disk Utility Does Not Recognize Unformatted Disks, by Tinyapp.org

Plugging in an unformatted external drive produces the usual alert, "The disk you inserted was not readable by this computer. Initialize... | Ignore | Eject", but clicking Initialize just opens Disk Utility without the disk appearing.

Chalk Is The AR App I’ve Been Waiting For, by Henry T. Casey, Tom's Guide

Chalk operates much like a videoconferencing call, connecting the cameras between two remote smartphones. (It’s iOS-only to start.) The only difference is that both use the rear-facing camera, so the person getting help can show the device or software they're confused by, and the other person can draw on it.

Nike+ Run Club Adds Audio Guided Runs, Elevation Support For Apple Watch-only Workouts, More, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Nike+ Run Club version 5.9 brings a new feature called Audio Guided Runs. This feature lets you run with Nike’s coaches and athletes in a series of guided workouts. Each run is paired with a unique playlist and features guidance from the likes of Mo Farah and Kevin Hart.

Microsoft Getting Out Of The Music Biz, Moving Groove Subs To Spotify, by Peter Bright, Ars Technica

Microsoft announced today that it's getting out of the online music business. Music purchases in the Windows Store will cease, and the Groove Music Pass subscription service is also ending.

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Goodbye MSN Music... Zune Music... Xbox Music... er... Groove Music. If you think Apple's product naming is not that great, you really should check out what's happening over at Windowsland.

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Thanks for reading.

The ARM-Kernel Edition Monday, October 2, 2017

Apple Open-sourced The Kernel Of iOS And macOS For ARM Processors, by Romain Dillet, TechCrunch

Apple has always shared the kernel of macOS after each major release. This kernel also runs on iOS devices as both macOS and iOS are built on the same foundation. This year, Apple also shared the most recent version of the kernel on GitHub. And you can also find ARM versions of the kernel for the first time.

Zombie Apple Delusions, by Jean-Louis Gassée, Monday Note

The Apple TV set would need to connect to and read the signal that’s supplied by the box, or maybe it could simply decode the data straight from the coax cable thus, in effect absorbing the cable box. Good luck with that. Comcast, AT&T and the others would never consent to this arrangement because they would cede control to Apple.

[...]

It’s rumored that Apple intends to release muscular Mac “trucks”, i.e. iMac Pros and, in 2018, a more modular Mac Pro targeted at high-end app and media developers. These products require no-holds-barred power dissipation budgets, which leads one to wonder: Since Ax designs are targeted at low power, small device heat dissipation, would they stand up to the needs of a high-end Mac?

Pokémon Playhouse Lets Young Children In On The Fun, by Alex Seedhouse, Nintendo Insider

This free app, which does not collect any personal information and has no in-app purchases, will let children interact with cute Pokémon as they explore locations such as a tower, lounge, and outdoor playground – with activities like taking care of Pokémon in Pokémon Grooming, or identifying Pokémon in the night sky in Search the Stars.

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I will not be surprised, though, if some future Mac contains both Ax and x86 CPUs to run all sort of apps. Everything will run smoothly with lower power requirement until that 3D/AR/VR rendering software kicks in.

I will also not be surprised if the average cost of a Mac continues to go up.

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I will be surprised if Apple is getting into the television set business.

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Thanks for reading.

The Losing-Employees Edition Sunday, October 1, 2017

Apple’s Global Web Of R&D Labs Doubles As Poaching Operation, by Alex Webb, Bloomberg

In recent years, Apple Inc. has quietly put together a global network of small research and development labs, from the French Alps to New Zealand.

Nothing unusual about that for a company that spends $11 billion a year on R&D. Look a little closer, however, and you'll notice that many of these labs are located near companies with a strong record in mapping, augmented reality and other areas Apple is pushing into. In several cases, these companies lost employees to Apple not long after the iPhone maker came to town. Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller declined to comment.

Apple Shows Off Portrait Lighting Feature In New iPhone 8 Plus Video, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Apple today has shared a new advertisement for the iPhone 8 Plus touting the new Portrait Lighting feature.

Stop The Endless Scroll. Delete Social Media From Your Phone, by Elizabeth Stinson, Wired

“Part of the battle is teaching yourself you don't need these apps as much as you think you do,” Alter says. And it’s true. I no longer feel like I need the apps, but it’s nice to know I still want them.

How A Teenager Battling Heart Disease Got His Video Game Into The App Store, by Michelle Castillo, CNBC

Thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation and mobile app developer Bottle Rocket, Allis got the chance to live out his dream. He created a game called Planet SCRAM that made it to Apple's App Store.

Procreate 4 For iPad, by Craig Grannell, Stuff

It’s ideal for anyone armed with an iPad who fancies a spot of digital painting – and a robust, feature-rich, friendly environment in which to do so.

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I've updated my Mac to High Sierra. (Hi!) I still miss the Mac OS X welcome video, with the big X. Even though it has been so long since the last one, the X is no longer in the name of the operating system.

Maybe iPhone X will have a welcome video with a big X. :-)

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So far, no surprises in High Sierra for me. That's good.

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Thanks for reading.