The No-Network-Connectivity Edition Thursday, December 22, 2016

AirPods Review: Hearing Is Believing, by Jason Snell, Six Colors

First, Siri control is only functional when there’s an Internet connection. If you want to adjust the volume of your AirPods when you’re in an area with no service, you’ll need to pull out your phone or launch the Now Playing widget on your Apple Watch to do it. Why Apple doesn’t allow Siri to gracefully degrade to a few basic hardware-oriented commands when there’s no network connectivity is beyond me. The Internet doesn’t need to exist for me to tell my phone to skip to the next track—but that’s how Apple has apparently built this feature.

Then there’s the difference in convenience between a few clicks or taps and having to tap, say a phrase, and wait for it to be interpreted. There’s a lot of extra baggage there, which is great when you need a pocket supercomputer to interpret a complex phrase like “Play the playlist ‘Best of Alternative 2016’.” But it seems a little sillier to do all of that just to say “decrease volume.” (Also, if you’re on the subway, people will think you’re a weirdo. Or that you’re telling them to shut up.)

Can Apple AirPods Be Recycled? First You Have To Cut Them Open, Then Get A Band-Aid..., by Marc Schneider, Billboard

For an AirPod to be recycle-ready, the 93-milliwatt lithium battery would have to be removed before the rest of the device is shredded. According to Kyle Wiens, co-founder and CEO of online repair community iFixit, his team dismantled the AirPod but discovered "no practical way" to open the glued-together gadget.

The Whole Widget

Apple Music: Platform? Promoter? Both., by Joe Coscarelli, New York Times

Since its debut in the summer of 2015, however, Apple Music has separated itself from Spotify, the industry’s streaming leader, by trying to become a one-stop shop for major artists — part platform and part promoter.

In the case of Drake, the service’s marquee musician so far, that has meant unveiling new songs on his OVO Sound show for Apple’s Beats 1 internet radio station while making his music exclusive to the service for a set window of time. Zane Lowe, the Beats 1 host, was granted Drake’s only interview around his album release. The rapper’s Summer Sixteen tour was sponsored by Apple, as was his promotional mini-movie, “Please Forgive Me,” which remains available only to subscribers. (Unlike Spotify, Apple does not offer free streaming; a monthly subscription is $9.99, though three-month trials are available.)

Then there were Drake’s commercials with Taylor Swift.

Happy Lawyers

Nokia Sues Apple Over A Slew Of Patent Infringements, by Nicole Lee, Engadget

According to the suit, Apple did agree to license a few Nokia patents in 2011, but has declined offers since then.

Apple Sues Nokia's Pet Patent Trolls, by Thomas Claburn, The Register

Apple on Tuesday filed an antitrust lawsuit against Acacia Research Corporation and Conversant Intellectual Property Management, alleging that the two "patent assertion entities" have colluded with Nokia "to extract and extort exorbitant revenues unfairly and anticompetitively from Apple" and other companies.


For Millions Of Immigrants, A Common Language: WhatsApp, by Farhad Manjoo, New York Times

Because it’s free, has a relatively good record on privacy and security, and is popular in so many parts of the world, WhatsApp has cultivated an unusual audience: It has become the lingua franca among people who, whether by choice or by force, have left their homes for the unknown.

Apple Updates Its AirPort Extreme Software, by Dennis Sellers, Apple World Today

According to Apple's release notes, the update fixes an issue where the routers would not respond to the AirPort Utility when "Back to My Mac" is enabled. There are also security fixes.

Workouts++ Review, by John Voorhees, MacStories

Workouts++ by David Smith takes my favorite aspect of Apple’s stock Workout app for watchOS – the ability to quickly start a workout – and adds layers of customization and workout tracking that takes the app to another level altogether. The key to Smith’s watchOS app is the inclusion of an iOS app that lets you customize the real-time statistics tracked on your Apple Watch during a workout and view the data collected in useful ways.

Algoriddim Squeezes Its Djay Pro App Into The iPhone, by Jon Turi, Engadget

Yep, you new get a fully capable DJ package, with access to Spotify's pool of tracks, four decks, effects and video mixing in a pocketable format.

Ways To Tap Into The Force, And Beam Up Your Inner Trekkie, by Kit Eaton, New York Times

The newest film in the “Star Wars” franchise, “Rogue One,” is out in theaters. Several excellent science-fiction-themed TV shows are on the air. And there are more sci-fi and fantasy films expected soon.

That means it’s a great time to be a science-fantasy and science-fiction fan. And in a galaxy right here today, a lot of that content is designed for the supercomputer smartphone in your pocket, so you can take your love for the genres anywhere you go.

Atari Releases 'RollerCoaster Tycoon Classic' For iOS, by Tim Hardwick, MacRumors

The game includes hundreds of pre-made designs and classic building tools for bespoke coaster construction, a fully featured park designer and park management tools, 95 classic park scenarios from the two games, and the original graphics, park music and sound effects.


Apple Extends Deadline For App Developers To Switch To HTTPS Server Connectivity, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

In a post on its developer website, Apple stated that it is giving developers more time to support App Transport Security and thus extending the deadline. At this point, however, Apple has not announced the new deadline.


Apple’s Rotten Appeal, by Richard A. Epstein, Politico

In this instance, the smoking gun that something is amiss is the ridiculously low tax rate that Apple’s local subsidiary, Apple Sales International (ASI) pays Ireland: 0.005 percent, a number that looks more like a rounding error than a tax.

What is so disappointing about the statements made by both Apple and Ireland is that they do not address the arguments against this tax shelter. Instead, Apple’s General Counsel Bruce Sewell and its Chief Financial Officer Luca Mastri play the pity card in an effort to deflect attention from the tax fundamentals of the case, complaining that Apple is being singled out for its success.

Swipe Right? 'Toilet Paper' For Smartphones Trialled In Japanese Airport Bathrooms, by Justin McCurry, The Guardian

Japan has taken its reputation for hygiene up another notch with the introduction of “toilet paper” for smartphones inside toilets at Narita international airport.

In a new take on the meaning of public convenience, users are invited to pull off a piece of paper from a dispenser next to the regular toilet roll and give their phone screens a germ-busting polish.

The Senate Bathroom Angle, by Gail Collins, New York Times

We are sorely in need of some cheerful news out of Washington, so I’m going to tell you Barbara Mikulski’s story about the Senate bathrooms.

Bottom of the Page

Dear Internet:

I will be greatly amused if someone can hack the AirPods and implement Shake to Shuffle.

Thank you.


Thanks for reading.