The I’m-Afraid-I-Can’t-Do-That Edition Friday, February 16, 2018

The Nosiest Assistant, by Daniel Jalkut,

Any attempt to “Hey Siri” another device is met by a loud interruption by Siri either of the music, or of the silence of the room. It’s bad enough that it assumes all requests are being made to it, but it’s even worse that it insists on chiming in even when it isn’t capable of serving the request. Just to remind everybody that it’s not configured for personal requests

Friendly Reminders, by And Now It’s All This

There’s no way to have two timers running simultaneously and no way to give your timer a name that lets you know what it’s for.

But you do have Reminders. They have names and can be set to alarm not only at an absolute time, but also at a relative time.

Fun With Unicodes

A New iOS Bug Can Crash iPhones And DIsable Access To iMessages, by Tom Warren, The Verge

The bug itself involves sending an Indian character to devices, and Apple’s iOS Springboard will crash once the message has been received. Messages will no longer open as the app is trying and failing to load the character, and it appears that the only way to regain access to your iMessages is to have another friend send you a message and try to delete the thread that contained the bad character. The public beta versions of iOS 11.3 are unaffected, so Apple will clearly fix this once iOS 11.3 is available broadly.

How To Fix The Indian Character Bug On iPhone And iPad, by Joseph Keller, iMore

If you've been struck by this bug and can't open Messages or your third-party messaging or email app of choice, you should be able to fix it by having a friend send you a sort of "rescue message" in a different thread and tapping on that notification.

Picking Apart The Crashing iOS String, by Manish Goregaokar, In Pursuit Of Laziness

I don’t really have one guess as to what’s going on here – I’d love to see what people think – but my current guess is that the “affinity” of the virama to the left instead of the right confuses the algorithm that handles ZWNJs after viramas into thinking the ZWNJ applies to the virama (it doesn’t, there’s a consonant in between), and this leads to some numbers not matching up and causing a buffer overflow or something.


Apple Music First Impressions, by Benjamin Mayo

My biggest disappointment, and complaint, does not come from the smart side of Apple Music. It’s the content directory that is a let down. It’s stuck in the past, just like the iTunes Music Store. The archaic concept of a standard album and a deluxe album are still in use. It’s a digitisation of a physical CD inventory, not a modern reset.

Shazam Updated With Synchronized Lyrics And A New Design, by John Voorhees, MacStories

Along the top of the results screen is a menu you access by swiping horizontally that includes lyrics, videos, additional songs by the artist, and related artists. If you swipe over to the lyrics screen while a song is playing, they are displayed in perfect synchronization with the song that’s playing, which is perfect for impromptu karaoke moments.

Default Folder Is On My List Of Must-have Mac Utilities, by Dennis Sellers, Apple World Today

If you're constantly saving things inside the same folder, Default Folder X can remember that folder for you. You can even set a different default folder for each application you use.

Four Simple Tech Hacks That Will Make You More Productive, by Michael Grothaus, Fast Company

While technology’s omnipresence in our lives affords us the opportunity to get work done from anywhere at anytime, being on devices all the time can lead us down time-wasting tunnels, making us less productive.

Thankfully most of the smartphones and computers we use now also have built-in settings or additional apps that can help you reclaim your productivity so you can get back to using your devices for work.


Apple Will Require All New Apps To Natively Support iPhone X Display From April, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

Apple has informed developers today that all new apps submitted to the App Store from April 2018 must support the iPhone X’s Super Retina display. This means developers of new apps must ensure they accommodate the notch and go edge-to-edge on the 5.8-inch OLED screen.

Considerate Communication, by Derek Sivers

There’s a huge benefit to getting personal and having a great conversation, but sometimes you need to be extremely succinct. So how do you reconcile this?


People Are Walking Into Glass At The New Apple Headquarters, by Max A. Cheney, Marketwatch

The company famous for its innovative design experienced at least two incidents of men walking into glass and causing injuries serious enough to warrant calls for local emergency services in the early days of its new “spaceship” campus, according to documents MarketWatch obtained via a public-records request. Both resulted in minor cuts but did not appear to require hospitalization, the records showed.

[...] California law requires that “employees shall be protected against the hazard of walking through glass by barriers or by conspicuous durable markings,” but the company has not been subject to citations, according to U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration data.

In The World Of Voice-Recognition, Not All Accents Are Equal, by The Economist

To train a machine to recognise what people say requires a large body of recorded speech, and then human-made transcriptions of it. A speech-recognition system looks at the audio and text files, and learns to match one to the other, so that it can make the best guess at a new stream of words it has never heard before.

America and Britain, to say nothing of the world’s other English-speaking countries, are home to a wide variety of dialects. But the speech-recognisers are largely trained on just one per country: “General American” and Britain’s “Received Pronunciation”. Speakers with other accents can throw them off.

Bottom of the Page

Text encoding is hard.


Having multiple versions of Siri, each working in different contexts, but still having to cooperate between each other, is also hard.


Thanks for reading.