The Cozy-Get-Together Edition Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Tea And Scones In Cupertino: The “Loop You In” Apple Event, by Jason Snell, Six Colors

When Apple wants to throw a big coming-out party for a product, it does it in style, renting out the Yerba Buena theater, or Moscone West, or the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, or the Flint Center, or the California Theater.

When it doesn’t, it holds an event in the tiny Town Hall venue. Monday was one of those. When Stephen Hackett and I recapped Town Hall’s history, I was struck by something Steve Jobs said at an event in 2006: he introduced the event by saying the products on display would be “medium scale.” Talk about setting expectations.

Monday’s event wasn’t quite that—a new iPhone of any kind and a new flagship iPad certainly deserve a bit more credit—but it was still a Town Hall event. A cozy get-together, not a blow-out rager.

iPad Pro (The Smaller One)

Apple Announces 9.7 Inch iPad Pro, Targeting Existing iPad And Windows Users, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

It features much of the same internals as its 12.9 inch cousin, with A9X chip, Apple Pencil support and Smart Connector. Although in most respects, the iPad Pro is the same as its big brother it features significant upgrades in the camera department. [...] Along with the smaller hardware, Apple is also releasing a new smaller Smart Keyboard to fit. Existing Apple Pencils are compatible with the new device. Apple is describing the iPad Pro as an ultimate PC replacement.

The New iPad Pro 9.7-inch Is A Very Powerful iPad, by Dieter Bohn, The Verge

That naming is a signal: Apple wants you to think of these like computers now. You think of them in terms of screen size, not in terms of how many versions have been released. And so here is just the iPad Pro, and it is a very very good iPad. An iPad so powerful that you could compare it to a computer — especially since you can get a keyboard and an Apple Pencil to do more advanced stuff with it.

New iPad Pro Accessories Include Powered USB Camera Adapter, Lightning To USB-C Cable, by Jared Dipane, iMore

Apple has announced a new set of accessories for the iPad Pro line of tablets, powered USB camera adapters. This adds a powered USB port to your iPad Pro, allowing you to connect things like a USB Ethernet adapter, podcasting mic and more.

There Are Now 1 Million iPad Apps, by Jacob Kastrenakes, The Verge

At this point, the iPad is nearly six years old — about the same age the iPhone was when the App Store hit 1 million. Apple is still fighting for its tablet to be seen as a device that can truly be used for creation, rivaling a laptop, and it's the increasingly good apps made for it that help make that a compelling argument.

Apple Pencil Replacement Tips Now For Sale In Packs Of Four, by AppleInsider

As avid artists know, Apple Pencil's nib, while sturdy, is not designed for a lifetime of use. The synthetic tips are a bit malleable so as to provide friction for a natural feel, but this comes at the cost of durability.

Apple's Free Classroom App Turns An iPad Into A Teaching Assistant For Educators, by Dennis Sellers, Apple World Today

The free app is designed to “turn your iPad into a powerful teaching assistant,” helping a teacher guide students through a lesson, see their progress, and keep them on track. With Classroom, you can launch the same app on every student device at the same time or launch a different app for each group of students.

iPhone SE (The Smaller One)

Apple Unveils The New 4-inch ‘iPhone SE’, by Jordan Kahn, 9to5Mac

The new iPhone SE’s major upgrades include Apple’s A9 chip and M9 motion coprocessor, since the design is mostly identical to the iPhone 5s apart from the new rose gold color as expected. Apple noted that the upgraded internals give the iPhone SE the same graphics and processing performance as the iPhone 6S.

The other big upgrade for the iPhone SE, as expected, is a new 4K-capable 12MP iSight camera with Retina Flash, Focus Pixels, True Tone Flash, and a new image signal processor. That gives the device support for 4k video, 1080p at up to 60fps, slo-mo up to 240 fps, and Panoramas up to 63MP.

Why The Small iPhone Is A Big Deal, by Vlad Savoy, The Verge

The most important thing about the new iPhone SE is its price, which starts at $399 in the United States. This is the cheapest launch price for any new iPhone model, outdoing even the supposedly budget iPhone 5C.

Apple’s Small Flagship Phone Is A Much-needed Course Correction, by Andrew Cunningham, Ars Technica

It’s a high-end option for people who want a new phone but don’t want to deal with a bigger phone. It’s remarkable primarily because most smartphone manufacturers have completely abandoned smaller high-end phones as they’ve chased bigger screens.

Apple Expands iPhone Silicone/leather Case Options, Confirms iPhone SE Cases Will Fit 5/5s, by Zac Hall, 9to5Mac

The Apple-branded iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus leather and silicone cases now come in a variety of new color options. Also available are new iPhone SE cases fit for the new 4-inch iPhone, which Apple says will also fit the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5s which has the same design.

iPhone SE Priced At Premium Outside Of United States, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

But in many other launch countries around the world, the new 4-inch smartphone carries a sizeable premium beyond foreign currency exchange rates and taxes.

Apple Watch (Same Sizes, New Colors)

Apple Watch Now $299, Available With New Bands, by Micah Singleton, The Verge

The company also showed off a slew of new bands for the Apple Watch, a new space black version of the milanese loop, which leaked back in January, new colors for the sport and leather bands, and a new woven nylon band. The new nylon band features a "four layer construction" and will come in seven different colors.

New Systems

iOS 9.3 Is Available Now With New Night Shift Feature, by Tom Warren, The Verge

While it's only a minor release, it does have a surprising amount of features for iPads and iPhones. The biggest addition is a new Night Shift mode that shifts the color temperature of the display based on the time and location of your device. It's very similar to the popular F.lux tool, and it works by reducing the amount of blue light emitting from the screen. It's believed that exposure to bright blue light in the evening can make it harder to sleep, so you can automatically schedule Night Shift to turn on in the evenings.

Alongside Night Shift, Apple is also improving the security of its Notes app and adding some multi-user support for iOS.

Night Shift Automatic Sunrise/Sunset Schedule Missing In iOS 9.3? Here’s The Fix, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

The Night Shift Sunrise and Sunset schedule uses Location Services to determine the timezone of the device, allowing it to calculate the right times to turn the feature on and off. Anything to do with Location Services is controlled by Privacy toggles in Settings. It turns out that some iOS users had turned off the ‘Setting Time Zone’ permission before updating to iOS 9.3, which means the Sunrise/Sunset feature is not possible and thus does not show in the settings pane.

Safari Can Open Twitter Links Again After Latest OS X Update, by Sam Byford and Micah Singleton, The Verge

As for the rest of El Capitan version 10.11.4, it is said to work better with Live Photos in the Messages and Photos apps, and the gif-like photos can now be AirDropped between the two operating systems.

Apple TV Gets Support For Folders, Dictation And Live Photos, by Frederic Lardinois, TechCrunch

Now, you can use your voice to enter text on your Apple TV, but maybe most importantly, you can also use this for usernames and passwords.

watchOS 2.2 Is Now Available, Apple Watch Gains Enhanced Maps App + Multi-watch Pairing Support, by Zac Hall, 9to5Mac

Starting with watchOS 2.2, iPhones running iOS 9.3 or later can pair and swap between multiple Apple Watch models; changing between Apple Watch models previously required a lengthy unpairing and re-pairing process. Apple Watch users will also notice an enhanced Maps app and more starting with the watchOS 2.2 update.

New Kit

Apple Unveils CareKit, An Open Source Framework For Making Health Apps, by Beth Mole, Ars Technica

Today, Apple introduced the open source software framework CareKit, which can be used to develop healthcare apps. Apple plans to release the software in April, and the company said the software is aimed at making things easier for users to track their health and monitor symptoms, medications, and treatment responses and then quickly share that data with medical professionals and loved ones.

Apple’s CareKit Is The Best Argument Yet For Strong Encryption, by Brian Barrett, Wired

This is powerful stuff. And the iPhone makes for an ideal health care aide, thanks to its motion-tracking M-series coprocessor suite of sensors, and its huge install base. There’s no limit to what people with serious medical conditions can track, and no cap on how useful an iOS device might be in coping with the day-to-day realities of illness. Our phones, if they didn’t already, will know more about us than we know about ourselves.

It’s the sort of information you can’t provide unless you know that it will be protected, and the kind of data you can’t collect unless you know you can protect it. The sort of information that simply can’t be given or received without strong encryption. It’s not simply a matter of giving up a sent message or a private photo. It’s an intimate record of your health, in some cases, presumably, down to the second.

Apple And The Earth

Apple SVP Lisa Jackson Details Apple’s Environmental Effort Including Recycling Program During Event, by Gerg Barbosa, 9to5Mac

Jackson announced that 93% of its operations are running on renewable energy worldwide. A total of 23 countries, including United States and China are utilizing 100% renewable energy.

Apple Tackles E-Waste With iPhone Recycling Robot 'Liam', by Tim Hardwick, MacRumors

The robot, called 'Liam', was introduced in a video showing how it deftly deconstructs an iPhone in order to repurpose a range of materials.


FBI Says It Might Be Able To Break Into Seized iPhone, Judge Cancels Order To Aid Decryption, by David Kravets, Ars Technica

The Federal Bureau of Investigation said Monday that it might be able to break into the seized iPhone at the center of an encryption battle with Apple. That is why it wants a federal judge overseeing the litigation to vacate Tuesday's hearing on whether Apple should assist the authorities in bypassing the four-digit passcode on the iPhone used by San Bernardino terrorist Syed Farook, according to court documents filed Monday.

[...] US Magistrate Sheri Pym agreed to cancel Tuesday's hearing and tentatively stayed an earlier order requiring Apple to assist the FBI in unlocking the iPhone. Apple did not object.

Apple Gets Short-term Win, But New Mysterious FBI Unlocking Method Looms, by Cyrus Farivar, Ars Technica

The sudden and unexpected postponement essentially means an immediate victory for Apple—the company doesn’t have to comply with the government’s demands to create a customized version of iOS. But the new government filing also raises more questions than it answers, such as the reach of the government's decryption capabilities.

Apple Defends Crypto Fight Against Government During Launch Event, by David Kravets, Ars Technica

"We built the iPhone for you, our customers. And we know it is a deeply personal device," he said. "We did not expect to be in this position at odds with our own government. But we believe strongly that we have a responsibility to help you protect your data and protect your privacy. We owe it to our customers and we owe it to our country. This is an issue that impacts all of us."


The App That Helps Blind People See, by Anthony Cuthbertson, Newsweek

The first time Mark Edwards used Aipoly Vision, he cried. Edwards, 56 and legally blind since birth, had signed up as an early tester for the smartphone app that claims to help the visually impaired people “see” the world around them. “When it immediately told me what was surrounding me, I was completely overcome with tears of joy,” says Edwards. “That doesn’t happen very often to a middle-aged man.”

Other early users of the app have called it “game changing” and on par with self-driving cars for its potential to transform the lives of blind people. Born out of the Singularity University in California—an institution set up in 2008 at NASA Research Park to produce “exponential technologies to address humanity’s grand challenges”—Aipoly Vision combines recent advances in artificial intelligence with the standard technology found in an iPhone. The neural networks and deep learning algorithms that power it may be complex, but how it works is simple: Users point their phone at any day-to-day object and the app speaks out what it is seeing.


Apple Releases Xcode 7.3, With Better Code Completion And Support For Latest SDKs, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

Almost Everyone Is Doing The API Economy Wrong, by Ed Anuff, TechCrunch

The strategy is simple enough: build API, launch API, run hackathons, get free apps and profit. Launching an API program and adding a “platform strategy’’ slide to your investor deck seems like a no-brainer, but the history of API programs reads like a travelogue on the good intentions highway.


16 GB iPhones, The 9.7-inch iPad Pro Camera, And The Wrong Compromises, by Craig Grannell

When used flat on a table, this means the new iPad will wobble — not great if you’re drawing with Apple Pencil or even playing games. And how strong is that lip around the camera? What potential is there for damage? Will users essentially be forced into buying a case, thereby adding heft to the iPad and making its ‘thinness’ largely irrelevant?

Andy Grove, Visionary Leader Who Saved Intel, Dies At 79, by Associated Press

Andy Grove, the former Intel chief executive whose youth under Nazi occupation and escape from the Iron Curtain inspired an “only the paranoid survive” management philosophy that saved the chip maker from financial ruin in the 1980s, has died. He was 79.

[...] He was a mercurial but visionary leader who helped position Intel’s microprocessors as the central technology inside personal computers.

U.S. Top Court Agrees To Hear Samsung-Apple Patent Fight, by Lawrence Hurley and Andrew Chung, Reuters

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday stepped into the high-profile patent fight between the world's two fiercest smartphone rivals, Apple and Samsung, agreeing to hear Samsung's appeal of what it contends were excessive penalties for copying the patented designs of the iPhone.

Why Smart People Are Better Off With Fewer Friends, by Christopher Ingraham, Washington Post

When smart people spend more time with their friends, it makes them less happy.

Bottom of the Page

Yes, sir. I've created my first folder in the new Apple TV to store all the apps that I don't use but cannot delete.

(Sounds familiar.)


Speaking of Apple TV, the new dictation icon showed up on my Apple TV's screen wherever there's a text-input box, but it doesn't really work. I suppose dictation only works in countries where Siri is supported, so Singapore is out. So, again, this is another lack of attention-to-details from Apple.


Thanks for reading.