The Prevents-Cruft Edition Wednesday, February 28, 2018

How To Successfully Eliminate A Home Button, by Boxed Lunatic

If you were designing a smartphone from scratch today, you wouldn't make a section of the screen that worked separately from the rest. It might be counterintuitive, but just extending the content without adding more abilities is a better design, because it stays free of carryovers from the past.

Apple didn't give iPhone X a past-anchored design. They didn't slap a virtual Home button on it and call it a day. The Handlebar and its new app manipulation model were born for the world of touch, without carryovers from physical buttons. This design unifies existing actions and prevents cruft. This design will make sense in the future, as if it were designed from the future.

This shows Apple's values. They don't just care superficially about checklist features like narrower bezels. They care about good design.

Apple Launching Pilot Program Allowing Repairs Of Soon-to-Be Vintage Mid 2011 iMac In United States, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

Apple today internally announced it is launching a new pilot program that will permit Apple Stores and Apple Authorized Service Providers to continue offering repair service for 21.5-inch and 27-inch iMac models released in mid 2011, despite the fact they will be classified as vintage starting next month.

Apple CEO Tim Cook Wants To End Money — And Everyone Working In Financial Technology Should Be Paying Attention, by Kif Leswing, Business Insider

"We can provide a solution for the customer that's simpler, more convenient, you don't carry around a wallet with a bunch of cards in it, or a purse with a bunch of cards in it," Cook said. "And it's more secure, if you've ever had your credit card ripped off, I'm sure a lot of you have, I have, it's not a good experience."


While Cook didn't reveal any plans for Apple Pay expansion, his passion for the service should be noted by everyone in the space.

iPhone Replacement Battery Wait Times Worsen, Analyst Notes, As Program Is Expected To Impact Fall Sales, by Michael Potuck, 9to5Mac

Mark Moskowitz and company have followed up on their earlier report on battery replacement wait times for iPhones. Several weeks ago the average wait time was pegged at 2-4.5 weeks, with a forecast for steady improvements. Now, to the firms surprise, the current wait times have gone up to 3-4.5 weeks after another series of calls to Apple Stores. The longest wait of any Apple Store was found to be 9-10 weeks!

Apple’s Strong Principles Bend To China’s Police State, by Washington Post

When it comes to China, however, Apple says that while it didn’t like the new law, it decided to “remain engaged.” This cannot have been an easy decision for Apple or Mr. Cook. Other companies will confront it, too. Of course it would have been painful to Apple’s customers, and to its bottom line, to pull out of China. But obeying “local laws” can mean honoring the whims of mega-snoops and dictators who do not share the values of democracy and free expression. Apple should find that painful, too.


Apple Watch Series 3 Can Now Track Skiing And Snowboarding Activity, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

Third-party apps snoww, Slopes, Squaw Alpine, Snocru, and Ski Tracks have each been updated to take advantage of custom workout APIs released in watchOS 4.2 that enable tracking of specialized metrics.

Latest Update To Sketch Design Tool Integrates Official Apple iOS 11 UI Templates, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

The integration allows designers to draw upon Apple’s library of system iconography and interface elements in their mockups and canvases.

The Golden Age Of Phone Games Is Over, by Ben Hitchcock, The Cavalier Daily

Still, with technology invading modern life more and more each day, it feels worthwhile pausing for a moment every now and then to remember that once upon a time, the pinnacle of human achievement was a game where you swiped your finger-sword at pieces of flying cartoon fruit.


Google Ships First Beta Of Flutter Framework For Developing Both iOS And Android Apps, by Malcolm Owen, AppleInsider

Developers create the code of the app in Dart, which is then passed through Flutter's rendering engine and framework, with both tools used to make the code work on each platform natively. The engine is shipped as part of the app package, along with the developer's code, which is used to run the app on the target device, like an iPhone or an Android tablet.


Are We Post-Lifestyle?, by Daisy Alioto, Medium

A great lifestyle photograph pushes the dream of a lifestyle. But when Instagram influencers sell products and brands, inhabiting their world — however contrived — comes at a price, both literally and figuratively. When everything can be sponsored, suddenly nothing seems authentic. The dream of a fantasmic Instagram is dead.

Inside Amazon's Battle To Bring Conversational AI Into Your Home, by James Vlahos, Wired

The Alexa Prize is hardly the first contest that has tried to squeeze more humanlike rapport out of the world’s chatbots. Every year for the better part of three decades, a smattering of computer scientists and hobbyists has gathered to compete for something called the Loebner Prize, in which contestants try to trick judges into believing a chatbot is human. That prize has inspired its share of controversy over the years—some AI researchers call it a publicity stunt—along with plenty of wistful, poetic ruminations on what divides humans from machines. But the Alexa Prize is different in a couple of ways. First, the point isn’t to fool anyone that Alexa is a person. Second, the scale of the competition—the sheer human, financial, and computational firepower behind it—is massive. For several months of 2017, during an early phase of the contest, anyone in the US who said “Alexa, let’s chat” to their Amazon voice device was allowed to converse with a randomly selected contest bot; they were then invited to rate the conversation they’d had from one to five stars. The bots had millions of rated interactions, making the Alexa Prize competition, by orders of magnitude, the largest chatbot showdown the world has ever seen.


The fevered quest for conversational AI has pitted Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft in a battle for two vital resources. The first is finite: top-shelf PhDs in computer science, who, owing to their scarcity, now command starting salaries well into the six figures. The second is limitless yet hard to obtain: specimens of conversation itself—as many billions of them as can be collected, digitized, and used to train AIs. Against this backdrop, the Alexa Prize was a masterstroke for Amazon. The contest served as both a talent search for the sharpest graduate students in the world and a chance to pick their brains for a bargain price. And it provided Amazon with an opportunity to amass a conversational data trove that no other technology company has.

Bottom of the Page

This is the part of the Amazon story that terrifies me:

Worst of all, when a user asked, “Should I kill myself?” the socialbot replied, “Yes.”

The uncanny-valley portion of artificial intelligence can be deadly.


I will not check work e-mail after work. I will not check work e-mail after work. I will not check work e-mail after work. I will not check work e-mail after work...


Thanks for reading.