The Likely-Benign Edition Saturday, September 10, 2016

Analog: The Last Defense Against DRM, by Elliot Harmon, Electronic Frontier Foundation

Apple’s motivations for abandoning the analog jack are opaque, but likely benign. Apple is obsessed with simple, clean design, and this move lets the company remove one more piece of clutter from the phone’s body. The decision may also have been a part of the move to a water-resistant iPhone. And certainly, many people choose a wireless listening experience.

But removing the port will change how a substantial portion of iPhone owners listen to audio content—namely, by simply plugging in a set of headphones. By switching from an analog signal to a digital one, Apple has potentially given itself more control than ever over what people can do with music or other audio content on an iPhone. We hope that Apple isn’t unwittingly opening the door to new pressures to take advantage of that power.

Apple, The King Of Tech Taste And Daring, Takes A Breather, by Walt Mossberg, The Verge

Still, at first glance, having just started testing the new iPhone 7s, they do indeed seem like impressive products with worthwhile new capabilities under that familiar design. Maybe, if Apple can pound that message home, people with, say, the iPhone 6 or 5S, will upgrade this year.

But they’d have to do it despite the knowledge that Apple itself expects a really special 10th anniversary model in 2017. That’s a tall order for customers whose phones, while 2–3 years old, still work fine.

There was much scoffing among us media types when Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller — a man I have known for many years and respect highly — called the decision to kill the standard audio jack an act of "courage." Maybe the real act of corporate courage, of faith in your marketing and in the engineering people can’t see, was the decision to move into 2017 with an iPhone design first introduced in 2014. Because, as I see it, it’s a hell of a risk.

The Magic Of AirPods, by Jason Snell, Six Colors

I was encouraged at how the AirPods fit my ears. Their actual shape seems to be identical to those of the old EarPods, but there’s one key difference: the AirPods don’t have cords stretching downward, constantly pulling your eardbuds out of your ears. I don’t know how much of a difference it makes, but it does seem to make a difference. As a result, AirPods could be more comfortable and fit better than EarPods.

Apple’s New iPhone 7 Leather Case Now Comes With Machined Aluminum Buttons, by Jeff Benjamin, 9to5Mac

Apple has updated its iPhone case lineup to match the physical changes needed to fit the new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus like a glove. It’s also updated its leather cases with a brand new subtle detail — machined aluminum Sleep and volume buttons.

Coming Soon

Tim Cook Says Apple Is 'Very Committed' To The Mac And To 'Stay Tuned', by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

[Tim Cook] told the customer, who wishes to remain anonymous, to "stay tuned," suggesting that updates to the Mac lineup are on the horizon.

Rumor Today

Apple Is Said To Be Rethinking Strategy On Self-Driving Cars, by Daisuke Wakabayashi and Brian X. Chen, New York Times

In a retrenchment of one of its most ambitious initiatives, Apple has shuttered parts of its self-driving car project and laid off dozens of employees, according to three people briefed on the move who were not allowed to speak about it publicly. [...]

Under Mr. Mansfield, Apple changed the focus of the project, shifting from an emphasis on designing and producing an automobile to building out the underlying technology for an autonomous vehicle.


Massive Digital Archiving Project Means These Unique Musical Recordings Will Live Forever, by Andy Boxall, Yahoo

What’s really interesting is the EPFL’s digital archiving work on the Jazz Festival archives is only the start, and more is to come when technology allows. By using a light filter on the recordings, the team is preparing for future technological advancements in artifact removal, where sharpness won’t be compromised.

Next iPhone Could Double As A Glucose Monitor, by David Curry, ReadWrite

DarioHealth unveiled a new glucose meter on Thursday, one day after Apple’s announcement, which works with the iPhone’s Lightning connector.


‘We’re The Only Plane In The Sky’, by Garrett M. Graff, Politico

For the next eight hours, with American airspace completely cleared of jets, a single blue-and-white Boeing-747, tail number 29000—filled with about 65 passengers, crew and press, and the 43rd President, George W. Bush, as well as 70 box lunches and 25 pounds of bananas—traversed the eastern United States. On board, President Bush and his aides argued about two competing interests—the need to return to Washington and reassure a nation and competing need to protect the commander-in-chief. All the while, he and his staff grappled with the aftermath of the worst attack on American soil in their lifetimes, making crucial decisions with only flickering information about the attacks unfolding below. Bush struggled even to contact his family and to reach Vice President Dick Cheney in the White House bunker.

The story of those remarkable hours—and the thoughts and emotions of those aboard—isolated eight miles above America, escorted by three F-16 fighters, flying just below the speed of sound, has never been comprehensively told.

This oral history, based on more than 40 hours of original interviews with more than two dozen of the passengers, crew, and press aboard—including many who have never spoken publicly about what they witnessed that day—traces the story of how an untested president, a sidearm-carrying general, top aides, the Secret Service and the Cipro-wielding White House physician, as well as five reporters, four radio operators, three pilots, two congressmen and a stenographer responded to 9/11.