The No-Small-Thing Edition Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Apple’s Phil Schiller On How The iPhone X 'Seemed Impossible At The Start', by Dan Grabham, T3

“Most people are comfortable with it within minutes – 30 minutes, whatever. It’s not the kind of thing you have to live with for a week or two to get used to. It doesn’t mean… you know, we’ve still got muscle memory sometimes and we might try to do something and we remember, ‘Oh no, that’s not how you do it’ - you want to swipe up on an iPhone 8 or 7, or on an iPad, and no, it doesn’t work that way. That, to me, is always the sign of some or our most advanced, best thought-out technology: they become intuitive incredibly quickly and change how you think about everything else you use.

Schiller acknowledges that Apple “knew what we had” with Touch ID and that it knew what it had created with the home button through the years. “We knew it was no small thing to decide to replace that.” He adds that Apple believed it could make something that people would love and would have bigger potential over time.

Nope, This Isn’t The HTTPS-validated Stripe Website You Think It Is, by Dan Goodin, Ars Technica

Researcher Ian Carroll filed the necessary paperwork to incorporate a business called Stripe Inc. He then used the legal entity to apply for an EV certificate to authenticate the Web page When viewed in the address bar, the page looks eerily similar to, the online payments service that also authenticates itself using an EV certificate issued to Stripe Inc.

The demonstration is concerning because many security professionals counsel end users to look for EV certificates when trying to tell if a site such as is an authentic Web property rather than a fly-by-night look-alike page that's out to steal passwords. But as Carroll's page shows, EV certs can also be used to trick end users into thinking a page has connections to a trusted service or business when in fact no such connection exists. The false impression can be especially convincing when end users use Apple's Safari browser because it often strips out the domain name in the address bar, leaving only the name of the legal entity that obtained the EV certificate.

Apple's Pushing Into Gyms With GymKit: What You Need To Know, by Scott Stein, CNET

GymKit, a feature built into WatchOS 4.1, enables seamless tap-to-connect tech. It's like CarPlay, but for fitness machines. Apple announced GymKit as a feature for Apple Watch back in June at its WWDC keynote, promising it would arrive this year. It's just now becoming available.

I tried it, and it's great. But it's only rolling out at one North American gym at the moment, in New York: Life Time Athletic at Sky. It's coming to Equinox as well in 2018.

The App That Reminds You You’re Going To Die, by Bianca Bosker, The Atlantic

Five times a day for the past three months, an app called WeCroak has been telling me I’m going to die. It does not mince words. It surprises me at unpredictable intervals, always with the same blunt message: “Don’t forget, you’re going to die.”

Sending these notices is WeCroak’s sole function. They arrive “at random times and at any moment just like death,” according to the app’s website, and are accompanied by a quote meant to encourage “contemplation, conscious breathing or meditation.” Though the quotes are not intended to induce nausea and despair, this is sometimes their effect. I’m eating lunch with my husband one afternoon when WeCroak presents a line from the Zen poet Gary Snyder: “The other side of the ‘sacred’ is the sight of your beloved in the underworld, dripping with maggots.”

For The Good Of Society — And Traffic! — Delete Your Map App, by Rick Paulas, New York Magazine

Pull up a simple Google search for “neighborhood” and “Waze,” and you’re bombarded with local news stories about similar once-calm side streets now the host of rush-hour jams and late-night speed demons. It’s not only annoying as hell, it’s a scenario ripe for accidents; among the top causes of accidents are driver distraction (say, by looking at an app), unfamiliarity with the street (say, because an app took you down a new side street), and an increase in overall traffic.

“The root cause is the use of routing apps,” says Bayen, “but over the last two to three years, there’s the second layer of ride-share apps.”

Apple And Wal-Mart Are Helping China Crack Down On Polluters, by Lulu Yilun Chen, Bloomberg

Ma Jun’s years as an environmental activist taught him one lesson: if you want factories to clean up their act, shaming them in front of Apple Inc. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. works better than government fines.

Ma’s strategy -- backed by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. -- is to scrape real-time data off government websites that compile readings from effluent monitoring equipment at some 13,000 of the worst water polluters. The data is then aggregated on an app called Blue Map.

Develop Everyone

Apple And Chicago Bring Coding Opportunities To City Students, by Apple

Apple today announced that it is working with the city of Chicago to bring coding opportunities to Chicago’s nearly 500,000 students through a citywide expansion of Apple’s Everyone Can Code program.

Starting this spring, Chicago Public Schools and City Colleges of Chicago will expand Everyone Can Code curriculum and materials to reach students citywide. For the first time, City Colleges of Chicago will offer the innovative App Development with Swift curriculum, helping students build skills around coding and app development.

Apple's Hour Of Code Workshops Delight Kids... Of All Ages!, by Rene Ritchie, iMore

Apple's been doing Hour of Code for a few of years now. Last year, the company introduced its Swift Playgrounds to the mix. With new and improved lessons to go with it, and the ability to control robots — yes, robots! — it makes the same kinds of code used to create next-generation iPhone, iPad, and Mac apps not just accessible to everyone, but relatable.

Every year I go to my local Apple Store to check out the Hour of Code sessions and I try to sit in on at least one. And every year, kids and adults alike began filing in a short time before the workshops began, their spaces reserved online over the course of the last week. Parents accompanied the younger children, helping them find stools around the large wooden tables. At one end, a TV set stands with the Hour of Code material displayed for the whole store to see.

Battery Performance

Apple's Alleged Throttling Of Older iPhones With Degraded Batteries Causes Controversy, by Tim Hardwick, MacRumors

A Reddit post has drawn a flurry of interest after an iPhone 6s owner reported that a battery replacement significantly increased the device's performance running iOS 11. The ensuing discussion thread, also picked up by readers in the MacRumors forum, has led to speculation that Apple intentionally slows down older phones to retain a full day's charge if the battery has degraded over time.

Why A New Battery Can Breathe New Life Into An Old iPhones, by Rene Ritchie, iMore

Apple has been addressing this in multiple ways, from systems-on-a-chip with both high-efficiency and high-performance cores, to machine learning-based power management. But lithium-ion batteries are lithium-ion batteries.

With older phones and those with poorer battery health, one of the ways seems to be prioritizing battery life over processor speed. That'll cause a hit to performance but still allows the iPhone to make it through the day.

Apple And Shazam

Apple Confirms Shazam Acquisition; Snap And Spotify Also Expressed Interest, by Ingrid Lunden, TechCrunch

Apple did not disclose the price but we have several sources that have confirmed to us that the deal is in the region of $400 million.

Sources also tell us that Apple’s deal had been in the works for about five months and came after Shazam had been in talks with others, including Snapchat and Spotify.

Apple Shazam: Why Is The US Company Buying The Music App?, by Leo Kelion, BBC

"Spotify has made the discovery of new music front and centre of what makes it a compelling proposition," said Mark Mulligan, from the consultancy Midia Research.

"Apple just doesn't have the same amount of data about listening tastes as Spotify, meaning it can't drive recommendations with as high a degree of accuracy and precision.

"Shazam essentially gives it a shortcut to having a massive database."

Corporate Directions

Apple Responds To Latest Report Claiming The iTunes Music Store Is Closing, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

The report explains that the move to phase out music downloads has been in place since 2016, but in a statement to 9to5Mac, Apple denies the report and simply says “it’s not true.”

Apple Donating $1M To Aid Southern California Areas Hit By Latest Wildfires, by Michael Potuck, 9to5Mac

Apple has released a statement today sharing that it will be donating $1 million towards relief efforts for ongoing Southern California wildfires.

Apple Aims To Block Climate, Rights Proposals With Quick Use Of SEC Guidance, by Ross Kerber, Reuters

In letters to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission last month, an attorney for the California computer maker argued at least four shareholder proposals relate to “ordinary business” and therefore can be left off the proxy Apple is expected to publish early next year, ahead of its annual meeting.

The attorney, Gene Levoff, cited guidance issued by the SEC on Nov. 1 saying that company boards are generally best positioned to decide if a resolution raises significant policy issues worth putting to a vote.


Apple’s Latest iPhone X Ads Showcase Face ID, Portrait Lighting, More, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Apple is continuing its barrage of iPhone X advertisements today with three new ones hitting YouTube. The new videos each focus on a specific feature, including Portrait Lighting and Face ID.

Lightroom CC Adds Auto Settings Powered By Adobe Sensei, Watermarking Support, More, by Michael Steeber, 9to5Mac

Version 3.1.0 of Lightroom CC for iPad and iPhone both include intelligent new auto settings powered by Adobe’s machine learning technology, Sensei. Adobe says Sensei will analyze your photos and determine the best settings by cross referencing your image against tens of thousands of other professional shots.

Google’s Research Team Releases Two New Experimental Photo Apps For iOS, by Abner Li, 9to5Mac

The two new apps use such technologies like object recognition, person segmentation, stylization algorithms, and efficient image encoding/decoding.

Apple Pulls Fake Cryptocurrency App That Hit #3 On App Store Finance Charts, by Roger Fingas, AppleInsider

An impostor app pretending to belong to has been removed from the App Store, but not before it managed to secure an ad and climb to third place in the store's Finance category over the weekend.


Introductory App Subscription Pricing Coming To App Store, by Mikey Campbell, AppleInsider

Apple on Monday announced a new App Store feature that allows developers to offer discounted introductory pricing or limited-time free trials on auto-renewable app subscriptions, a move designed to help subscription-based apps draw in new customers.

Apple Announces Pre-order Support For New Apps In The App Store, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Developers can set release dates no more than 90 days in the future and no sooner than two days in the future. Of note, pre-orders are only supported for new applications, not existing apps.

Google Releases Tool That Helps Security Researchers Hack iOS Devices, by Mikey Campbell, AppleInsider

Google this week released a proof of concept tool that allows security researchers, and other developers, to hack into iOS 11.1.2, software that could lead to a jailbreak for devices running that OS version.

Created by noted iOS bug hunter Ian Beer, the tool released on Monday takes advantage of an exploit called "tfp0," which has since been patched in Apple's latest iOS 11.2 release.


AI-Assisted Fake Porn Is Here And We’re All Fucked, by Samantha Cole, Motherboard

There’s a video of Gal Gadot having sex with her stepbrother on the internet. But it’s not really Gadot’s body, and it’s barely her own face. It’s an approximation, face-swapped to look like she’s performing in an existing incest-themed porn video.

The video was created with a machine learning algorithm, using easily accessible materials and open-source code that anyone with a working knowledge of deep learning algorithms could put together.