Fri, Oct 9, 2015The Audible-Cues Edition

The Blind Deserve Tech Support, Too, by Jon Kelvey, Slate

Not to heap too much praise on Apple, but it seems to understand that accessible technical support is part and parcel of the accessible design of their products. When Chris Danielsen, the director of publications at the National Federation of the Blind, accidentally locked the file vault on his Mac and disabled voice-over control on the computer, an Apple tech support representative was able to guide him through a login process using tonal prompts. “It was a combination of the device having audible cues that I could use and the tech support rep knowing that it had audible cues that I could use.”


When I followed up with Lenovo to make sure it did not want to make any larger statement about its commitment to accessibility in its products and services, I got a short and simple email in reply which read, “this matter did not involve product design.”

That’s exactly the problem.

App Store Removes Root Certificate-Based Ad Blockers Over Privacy Concerns, by Rene Ritchie, iMore

I was surprised the root certificate-based ad blocking apps were approved to begin with. They perform deep packet inspection of everything done on the internet, including secure financial transactions and private communications, on the ad-blocker's servers and any servers involved in their chain, and in a way that's not easily toggled on or off.

There will no doubt be complaints from people who think they want these apps, and from developers who make the apps. But the potential risk of abuse is simply too high.

Battery Realities

Apple Says Battery Performance Of New iPhones’ A9 Chips Vary Only 2-3%, by Matthew Panzarino

Apple said that its own testing and data gathered from its customers after a few weeks with the device show that the actual battery life of both devices varies just 2-3%. That’s far, far too low to be noticeable in real-world usage.

Smartphone Battery Myths, Explained, by Thorin Klosowski, Lifehacker

We like to think of our smartphones as little computers, and we treat them like so. On your laptop, having a bunch of apps open at once—especially ones that connect to the internet—strains your battery, so it makes sense that your smartphone would work the same way, right? Wrong. That’s not how smartphones work.

In the case of iOS, apps do not stay open the same way they do on a computer. When you leave an app, it’s frozen, doesn’t do anything, and doesn’t require any resources. Closing them does nothing for your battery— except it costs CPU power and battery to close everything.

Finger Printin' Good

Using Apple Pay At Starbucks, KFC And Chili’s, by Katie Benner, New York Times

On Thursday, Jennifer Bailey, vice president of Apple Pay, said that some Starbucks stores will accept Apple Pay, a mobile payments system, this year as part of a pilot program. Ms. Bailey made the announcement at the Code Mobile conference, a tech industry event, where she added that all Starbucks stores will accept Apple Pay sometime in 2016, as will the restaurant chains KFC and Chili’s.

Delta's 'Fly Delta' App Updated With Apple Pay Support, by Husain Sumra, MacRumors

This makes Delta the first U.S.-based airline to allow users to purchase tickets via Apple Pay.

The State Of Apple Pay, by Graham Spencer, MacStories

Now that we're approaching the one year anniversary of Apple Pay on October 20 and with Apple's Vice President of Apple Pay speaking at the Code/Mobile conference later today, I thought it might be interesting to take stock of what has happened with Apple Pay so far, and what's next for it.


WiFi Explorer Is A Must For Every Mac Owner's Digital Toolbox, by Steven Sande, Apple World Today

Any Mac professionals who must perform WiFi network troubleshooting regularly should have WiFi Explorer in their toolkit. Even for regular Mac users, though, the app is perfect for helping you fine-tune your home or office network or perhaps persuade your boss (or spouse) that you need a new router.

Boxes 2 Review: Organizer iPhone App Is Like A Facebook For Pack Rats, by J.R. Bookwalter, Macworld

Boxes 2 provides a virtual “place for your stuff” where real-world objects can be photographed, cataloged, and stored into private or public “boxes” in the cloud. Although the app is free, a $10 annual subscription is required to use Premium features like unlimited storage, adding receipts, custom image filters, or custom profile backgrounds.

Beautiful New App Is Like A Stress-Relieving Lava Lamp, by Liz Stinson, Wired

Pause is designed to help you relax, and it does, much in the way watching floating clouds or staring at a particularly entrancing screensaver might.


Analyzing Apple's Statement On TSMC And Samsung A9 SoCs, by Ryan Smith and Joshua Ho, AnandTech

To that end I suspect that Apple's statement is not all that far off. They are of course one of the few parties able to actually analyze a large number of phones, and perhaps more to the point, having a wide variation in battery life on phones - even if every phone meets the minimum specifications - is not a great thing for Apple. It can cause buyers to start hunting down phones with "golden" A9s, and make other buyers feel like they've been swindled by not receiving an A9 with as low the power consumption as someone else. To be clear there will always be some variance and this is normal and expected, but if Apple has done their homework they should have it well understood and reasonably narrow. The big risk to Apple is that dual sourcing A9s in this fashion makes that task all the harder, which is one of the reasons why SoCs are rarely dual sourced.

How Might Apple Manufacture A Car?, by WIll Knight, MIT Technology Review

Industry experts say the company could produce vehicles in much the same way that it makes iPhones and watches: by outsourcing the production of components and contracting with existing manufacturers. What’s more, as cars become more electrified and computerized, Apple’s existing expertise in software, user interfaces, and batteries may become an increasingly valuable asset.

What’s It Like To Attend A Big Apple Event?, by Patrick May, San Jose Mercury News

When Amazon Dies, by Adrienne Lafrance, The Atlantic

All this signals a larger cultural shift in the way people think about ownership of media in the 21st century, or how they ought to be thinking of it. Increasingly, the purchase of digital works is treated like the purchase of software, which has gone from something you buy on a disc to something downloadable with an Internet connection. “You might think you’re buying Microsoft Office, but according to your user agreement you’re merely leasing it,” Vaidhyanathan said. “You can think of music and video as just another form of software. There is a convergence happening.”

It’s Apple’s World, So Why Do Other Smartphone Makers Even Bother?, by Ashlee Vance, Bloomberg

Following years of bumbling, Hewlett-Packard, Nokia, and other onetime powers have given up on them. Microsoft, which bought Nokia’s phone unit for $9.5 billion last year,wrote off $7.5 billion of it in July. For stubborn smartphone brands like LG, Sony, HTC, and Lenovo, things keep looking tougher. They’re like Sisyphus pushing his boulder up the hill, only the boulder grows a little bigger with each passing day.

Friday Puzzle

Consider, if you will, the following sequence of phrases:

Oman Lion Unit
Vice Marks
Moist Eye

Which of the following will follow the sequence above?

Pool Wardens
Alpine Cat
Old Pear

Have fun. And thanks for reading.