The Incredibly-Pink Edition Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Apple's New MacBook Feels 25 Percent Faster And 100 Percent More Pink, by Dieter Bohn, The Verge

Depending on the lighting, the rose gold version of Apple's new, slightly faster MacBook looks either kind of bronze or incredibly pink. Sitting here on my desk next to last year's space gray version, it's so vibrant it looks almost like I would get an electric zap of energy if I touched it.

Apple Releases First Software Update For Brand New 12-Inch MacBook, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

Less than two hours after announcing the new 12-inch MacBook, which has yet to become available for purchase online, Apple has released the first software update for the notebook.

Apple And The Governments

Apple Refused China Request For Source Code In Last Two Years: Lawyer, by Dustin Volz, Reuters

Law enforcement officials have attempted to portray Apple as possibly complicit in handing over information to China's government for business reasons while refusing to cooperate with U.S. requests for access to private data in criminal cases.

"I want to be very clear on this," Apple general counsel Bruce Sewell told Tuesday's hearing under oath. "We have not provided source code to the Chinese government."

Sources: Data From San Bernardino Phone Has Helped In Probe, by Evan Perez, Pamela Brown and Shimon Prokupecz, CNN

Investigators are now more confident that terrorist Syed Farook didn't make contact with another plotter during an 18-minute gap that the FBI said was missing from their time line of the attackers' whereabouts after the mass shooting, the officials said. The phone has helped investigators address lingering concern that the two may have help, perhaps from friends and family, the officials said.

Read The Tech Industry's Open Letter About 'Unworkable' Encryption Bill, by Amar Toor, The Verge

Four tech coalitions representing major companies like Apple, Google, and Facebook have written an open letter to Senators Richard Burr (R-NC) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), expressing their "deep concerns" over a bill that would require smartphone makers to decrypt data on demand for law enforcement agencies.

Apple-Flavored Future

From Products To Platforms, by Ben Thompson, Stratechery

Ultimately, for Apple, as diligently as the company may have worked on the iPad Pro and Apple TV, the truly difficult part begins now: the company remains far ahead of nearly anyone else in the world at creating great products, in part by zealously controlling everything from core technology to the supply chain to the retail experience. Platforms, though, while established through product leadership, flourish and sustain themselves by empowering and entrusting developers to build something so compelling that customers fall in love with not just the hardware but the experience that runs on top of it. In short, they require sharing the customer relationship, and while that may go against Apple’s instincts, to not do so is increasingly against Apple’s interests.

Apple's Organizational Crossroads, by Ben Thompson, Stratechery

But again, Jobs’ next move was slashing the product line, and that wasn’t only for reasons of focus and customer confusion: the fact is that unitary organizations do not scale to different business models, and if Apple is truly serious about services — and the existence of the relatively cheap yet full-featured iPhone SE suggests they are — they need to follow Dupont’s example.

Apple will not fix the services it already has, or deliver on the promise of the services its hardware might yet enable, unless a new kind of organization is built around these services that has a fundamentally different structure, different incentives, and different rhythms from Apple’s device teams. You don’t make great products because you want to make great products; you make great products by creating the conditions where great products can be produced.

Buggy Updates

Outdated Git Version In OS X Puts Developers At Risk, by Lucian Constantin, IDG News Service

The vulnerabilities were fixed in Git 2.7.4, released on March 17, but one month later Apple still hasn’t released an update to its Command Line Tools package.

Even worse, since the Git binary is installed as a system-level program, on OS X El Capitan (10.11) users can’t easily replace or update it themselves, according to systems administration expert Rachel Kroll. That’s because Apple’s latest OS X version includes System Integrity Protection (SIP), a mechanism that prevents modifying programs in certain protected directories like /usr and /bin, even with root privileges.

A Spotify iOS App Bug Is Using Loads Of Mobile Data, by Campbell Simpson, Gizmodo

It looks like there’s a bug with the latest version of the Spotify Music app on iOS, which appears to let the app absolutely scream through your mobile data quota — even if you’re playing already-downloaded music. Until a fix is delivered, we’d strongly recommend you disable mobile data in your iPhone’s settings.

Starting Up The Future

The Untold Story Of Magic Leap, The World’s Most Secretive Startup, by Kevin Kelly, Wired

There is something special happening in a generic office park in an uninspiring suburb near Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Inside, amid the low gray cubicles, clustered desks, and empty swivel chairs, an impossible 8-inch robot drone from an alien planet hovers chest-high in front of a row of potted plants. It is steampunk-cute, minutely detailed. I can walk around it and examine it from any angle. I can squat to look at its ornate underside. Bending closer, I bring my face to within inches of it to inspect its tiny pipes and protruding armatures. I can see polishing swirls where the metallic surface was “milled.” When I raise a hand, it approaches and extends a glowing appendage to touch my fingertip. I reach out and move it around. I step back across the room to view it from afar. All the while it hums and slowly rotates above a desk. It looks as real as the lamps and computer monitors around it. It’s not. I’m seeing all this through a synthetic-reality headset. Intellectually, I know this drone is an elaborate simulation, but as far as my eyes are concerned it’s really there, in that ordinary office. It is a virtual object, but there is no evidence of pixels or digital artifacts in its three-dimensional fullness. If I reposition my head just so, I can get the virtual drone to line up in front of a bright office lamp and perceive that it is faintly transparent, but that hint does not impede the strong sense of it being present. This, of course, is one of the great promises of artificial reality—either you get teleported to magical places or magical things get teleported to you. And in this prototype headset, created by the much speculated about, ultrasecretive company called Magic Leap, this alien drone certainly does seem to be transported to this office in Florida—and its reality is stronger than I thought possible.

The Real Story Of How Amazon Built The Echo, by Joshua Brustein, Bloomberg

In a gadget landscape dominated by rectangular touchscreens, the Echo is something different. The speaker is a screenless cylinder, just over 9 inches tall and 3.25 inches in diameter. It can play music, and also answer basic household questions like how many teaspoons there are in a cup. The only way to interact with the Echo is to talk to it. It’s always listening for its wake word.

When it launched, Amazon’s critics jumped to mock the company. Some called it a useless gimmick; others pointed to it as evidence of Amazon’s Orwellian tendencies. Then something weird happened: People decided they loved it. Amazon never releases data about how its products are selling, but Consumer Intelligence Research Partners issued a report this month saying that Amazon had sold more than 3 million devices, with 1 million of those sales happening during the 2015 holiday season. About 35,000 people have reviewed the speaker on, with an average rating of 4.5 stars out of 5.

Netflix And Ch-Ch-Chilly, by Rex Sorgatz, Backchannel

This story is set on the speck of a map, a town haphazardly dripped onto the prairie, smack dab in the middle of the continent. In an era before devices quivered our limbs with nervous vibrations, back when neighbors phoned each other on rotary dials — here, on the great plains of Dakota, where I lived until the day I turned 18, stands a halfling of a town called Napoleon, a name so imperial that it can only be interpreted as a sarcastic joke to anyone who visits its restful streets.


Magical Earbuds Let You Tune In And Out Of The World Around You, by David Pierce, Wired

Over the last several weeks, I’ve worn Doppler Labs’ Here earbuds all over the place. To concerts, on the train, at home and work, in restaurants, and, once, in a public bathroom. In short, these two round, white buds provide almost total control over how the world sounds. You can amplify certain sounds—human speech, the bass guitar—and attenuate others—the airplane drone, the subway screech. You can shut out the world entirely. Or you can tweak things, like Mickey Mouse conducting an orchestra of the world. Add some reverb to that falling broom, give me just a smidgen of flange, and for Pete’s sake turn down that bus! This is augmented reality, people. It’s not just goofy headsets and crazy flying jellyfish. It’s what you’re hearing.

Airbnb Wants Travelers To ‘Live Like A Local’ With Its App, by Katie Benner, New York Times

The home-sharing app Airbnb is pushing into local reviews and recommendations, putting it increasingly into competition with services like Lonely Planet, Yelp and local tourism websites.

This App Lets You Realistically Test Out Tattoos Before Committing To Your Ink, by Hattie Gladwell, Metro

The app works by asking you to draw a ‘smiley’ on your skin using three lines. After allowing access to your photos, the app works by line recognition. By lining their virtual smiley with your own, the app is then able to place the tattoo exactly where you’d like it.


Apple Starts Rolling Out Web Previews For tvOS App Links, by Federico Viticci, MacStories

iTunes web previews for tvOS apps don't have any Download buttons to buy or download the apps from a desktop computer, and the links don't work on iOS yet – they redirect to the iOS App Store, bringing up an error.


The Future: A Cat Litter Box And DRM, by Jorge Lopez, Medium

Seriously CatGenie, you added fairly sophisticated DRM to a litter box? I’m a tad hurt you spent my money on building in a restriction instead of figuring out how to avoid constantly cooking poop.

The Tech Industry Has Cut A Google’s Worth Of Jobs In The Past 12 Months, by Ina Fried, Re/code

The 12,000 job cuts Intel announced Tuesday are just the latest in an upswing of layoffs hitting the computer industry. [...] Over the past 12 months, the industry has shed more than 72,000 jobs, Challenger said.

Google: Paranoid About Android, by Leila Abboud and Shira Ovide, Bloomberg

A reminder of how Google makes money from Android: it lets smartphone-makers use the software for free in exchange for featuring Google services such as Gmail, Maps and the Google Play app store. More users of these services translates into more Google ad dollars, the heart of its business model. The phone-makers can just use Android and not the Google services, but it's an all-or-nothing choice. If they decide against one Google app, they can't use any of the others. Vestager's beef is that this enforced bundling has illegally hindered rival apps from emerging.

Bottom of the Page

I've never heard of this before -- maybe my ears aren't opened wide enough -- but, hey, "Singapore is where marriages go to die".


Thanks for reading.