Archive for January 2017

The Low-Light Edition Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Apple's Latest Ad Campaign Focuses On Night Photography, by Bianca Silva, Time

This year, Apple selected photographers who capture their surroundings at night using the low light camera on the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 plus.

One of the photographers featured in the campaign, Jennifer Bin, photographed Shanghai and focused on the futuristic elements of the city.

Apple's Activation Lock Website Played Key Role In Hack, Perhaps Explaining Its Removal, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

As it turns out, the Activation Lock website was a vital part of a bypass hack used to unlock devices bricked by Activation Lock, perhaps hinting at why Apple shelved it. [...]

By changing one or two characters of an invalid serial number, hackers are able to generate a valid serial number, using the Activation Lock tool for verification purposes to make sure it's functional. That valid number, which belongs to a legitimate device owner, can then be used to unlock a previously non-functional iPhone or iPad.

Trump’s Next Immigration Move To Hit Closer To Home For Tech, by Peter Elstrom and Saritha Rai, Bloomberg

Trump’s next steps could strike even closer to home: His administration has drafted an executive order aimed at overhauling the work-visa programs technology companies depend on to hire tens of thousands of employees each year.

If implemented, the reforms could shift the way American companies like Microsoft Corp., Inc. and Apple Inc. recruit talent and force wholesale changes at Indian companies such as Infosys Ltd. and Wipro Ltd. Businesses would have to try to hire American first and if they recruit foreign workers, priority would be given to the most highly paid.


Dropbox Introduces Smart Sync For Business Customers And Paper Emerges From Beta, by John Voorhees, MacStories

Every file is visible in Finder and can be previewed with Quick Look, but if it has a cloud icon in the corner, the file is stored in the cloud, not on your local drive.

Gyroscope — Your Life, Beautifully Digitized, by Rajat Sharma, Beautiful Pixels

Gyroscope sounds like a dream — a service that plugs in to your offline and online life, and summarises it for you. It accepts inputs from HealthKit, to better monitor your vitals with. It also plugs in to services like RescueTime to show how productive you were online, with Moves to show you where you were over the past day, with Instagram to add moments and photos to your day, as well as some sleep trackers. It brings all these inputs together to form a picture of your day. And oh what a picture it is!


Sorry, Working From Home Isn't The Future Of Job Flexibility, by Rebecca Greenfield, Bloomberg

In her research, Harvard economist Claudia Goldin has found that jobs with what she calls "substitutability"—that is, jobs that don't depend on a particular person being available at a given time—offer greater flexibility without sacrificing pay, especially in high-paying fields, because workers aren't effectively always on call.


Pause! We Can Go Back!, by Bill McKibben, New York Review of Books

Like all respectable commentators, Sax takes pains to assure us that he’s not a Luddite; the correct and responsible deity is Balance, blandest of goddesses. And it is at least possible that digital technology is reaching a high-water mark and might before long begin to recede to a more manageable level, possible that after our initial intoxication we can come down from our binge and learn to handle this new drink responsibly. At the outset of this review I compared the digital era to a fast-moving stream, which theoretically one could learn to navigate. But it’s more likely, I think, that we’re in a permanent flood stage, where we will have to somehow continue stretching and contorting ourselves to stay above the tide or else resign ourselves to drowning in the cascade of data. One is grateful to David Sax for mapping the eddies where we might, at least for a moment, find some stillness, respite, and fun.

The Reasons-Unknown Edition Monday, January 30, 2017

Apple Removes iCloud Activation Lock Status Tool From Website, by Roger Fingas, AppleInsider

For reasons unknown, Apple has taken down the iCloud Activation Lock status page on its website, which used to offer a convenient method of determining whether a used iPhone, iPad, iPod, or Apple Watch was stolen.

Mac Sales Declined Nearly 10% Last Year As Lenovo, Dell And Others Gained Ground, by Michael Potuck, 9to5Mac

It’s not surprising that Mac sales dropped for Apple in 2016 as they experienced their first year over year sales decline since 2001. What is interesting, however, is that as Mac sales dropped roughly 10% and personal computers overall dropped 5.7% for the year, the top four leaders in the market all saw growth as Apple was pushed to number five.

Although Mac sales were up in Q4 2016 compared to Q4 2015, an analyst note today from Bloomberg’s Anand Srinivasan and Wei Mok has revealed Apple has dropped to the fifth largest PC vendor, with ASUS (ASUSTeK) overtaking fourth place. The top four vendors are now Lenovo, HP, Dell, and ASUS.

Hands On: Redesigned Evernote 8.0.3 For iPhone And iPad Brings Major Design Revamp, by Mike Wuerthele, AppleInsider

What Evernote arguably needed next was a better, faster and more appealing iOS app. It could go further and mimic some of its own online writing environment, but Evernote 8.0.3 for iOS is a significant improvement and a good app for a still-strong service.

The Pain-Us-All Edition Sunday, January 29, 2017

Tim Cook Says Trump’s Executive Orders Are ‘Not A Policy We Support’, by Andrew Liptak, The Verge

In the memo, Cook noted that there were employees that were affected by the executive orders, and that the company’s human resources, legal, and security teams were in touch to support them. He also noted that the company had reached out to the White House to protest the orders.

Cook noted that he had heard from many employees who were concerned about the executive orders, and that he shared those concerns. The memo comes just after Cook met with officials in Washington DC. He is also part of President Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum.

Netflix CEO: “Trump’s Actions … Are So Un-American It Pains Us All”, by Daniel Politi, Slate

One of the strongest statements against the measure came from Netflix CEO Reed Hastings who wrote on Facebook that the actions “are hurting Netflix employees around the world, and are so un-American it pains us all.” Hastings went on to call it a “sad week” and said it was “time to link arms together to protect American values of freedom and opportunity.”

Apple, Microsoft And Uber Help Staff Stranded By Trump Ban, by Jon Fingas, Engadget

On top of the practical considerations, tech companies are also voicing a concerted moral opposition to the immigration ban.

Tech Leaders Finally Find Their Voice, Opposing Trump’s Muslim Ban: "So un-American, It Pains Us All.", by Kara Swisher, Recode

After weeks of deafening silence and quiet acquiescence, top tech leaders began to react strongly, spurred by a capricious immigration ban on some Muslim countries ordered by President Donald Trump on Friday.

Reactions varied — with many largely focusing on the impact of the executive order on employees across the globe.

Thank goodness for Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, who finally voiced on Facebook what many in Silicon Valley have thought.


Fighting Food Waste With An App… And A Measuring Spoon, by Rebecca Smithers, The Guardian

“We were definitely wasting some food before we got involved in the project but the problem was that we just didn’t know how much,” she says. After Max chucks a banana on the floor, she weighs it on scales which are connected, via her iPad, to an app called Winnow.

The screen tells her that if she throws the banana – which weighs 118g – away, she will have wasted the equivalent of 15p. “I was wasting more than I thought and it certainly adds up,” she says as Max squeals for his banana back. “Not only do we know the value of what we are wasting – and why – but we are also taking steps to reduce it in the first place by planning meals, shopping more carefully, and using our freezer better.”


Face Recognition Is Government’s New Weapon—And Your Privacy Dystopia, by Joshua Kopstein, Vocativ

If you’re an American adult, that represents the odds that your photo has been enrolled to a law enforcement face recognition database, allowing you to be identified and tracked as you walk down the street, attend a protest, or visit a rehab center.

This isn’t speculation: It’s the result of a year-long investigation into police use of face recognition technology, published last October by researchers at Georgetown University. In at least 26 states, the report found, merely having a state-issued driver’s license or photo ID allows police to remotely search for and identify your face from photos taken on the street or posted to social media – without a warrant or any court’s supervision. Sixteen states also make their residents’ ID photos available to the FBI, whose own face recognition databases now contain more than 411 million face images. And unlike with more traditional biometrics like fingerprints and DNA, the vast majority of the faces belong to innocent Americans, not criminal suspects.

The U.S. Without Net Neutrality: How An Internet Nightmare Unfolds, by Kevin Collier, Vocativ

For years, internet freedom activists have campaigned to keep anything resembling that situation from ever happening, by championing for the abstract concept of net neutrality, an idea that has always been hard to explain and usually even harder to get people fired up about.

But under President Trump, the public may finally get a firsthand look at what net neutrality means in practice — because if the Trump administration is able to successfully abolish it, the internet is going to get a lot more expensive and harder to use.

The Fits-My-Pockets Edition Saturday, January 28, 2017

How Christian Feichtner Photographed Chernobyl With His iPhone, by Andy Butler, Mobiography

As strange as this may sound, but my main motivation is because I love to travel light. No more heavy and cumbersome equipment. Previously, I needed a DSLR and notebook computer but now I can do the same thing on a single device which fits into my pockets.

Apple's 'Differential Privacy' Policy Invoked For Opt-in iCloud Data Analysis In iOS 10.3, by Mike Wuerthele, AppleInsider

Apple's upcoming iOS 10.3 update will include an opt-in for collecting data from iCloud accounts, which will in turn be used to improve "intelligent features and services such as Siri," according to people testing the current beta.


Journaling Apps That Inspire, Organize And Keep Out Snoops, by Kit Eaton, New York Times

With a new year comes big changes, and keeping a journal is an excellent way to keep track of the challenges each day brings. Why kill trees when there are great apps to use instead?

My journaling app of choice is Bear, a free iOS download. While it’s not specifically a journaling app, its note-taking abilities are fantastic. It can also be used to make a useful journal-like document.


Designing For iPad Power Users, by Matt Gemmell

The needs of iPad power users aren’t conceptually different from those of desktop or laptop users, but the nature of the hardware and its capabilities tends to cause some things to be overlooked. Based on my own experience, here’s some stuff that you, as a developer, should think about implementing if your customers are working with their iPads.

The short version is that you need to think of your app as a workhorse for professionals. You want to eliminate friction, promote efficiency, and let people work the way they want to; that’s all just common sense. For a touch-screen tablet device running iOS, that means considering some of the stuff below. I won’t labour any of the points, because you’re a designer or developer and you can do your own research and thinking, but you do want to capture the market of people who want to get away from old-style computers, and enjoy the freedom of working with a more human device. The writing is on the wall.

Instead Of Leaving A Job, Why Not Take A Pause?, by Rachael O'Meara, New York Times

Pauses bring employees a renewed sense of purpose and alignment. Exploring new interests or lifelong passions, taking a class, or spending time with family that otherwise wouldn’t happen are all big payoffs. Employees can reflect on what matters in life and take action to align their behavior with that. Employees end up feeling refreshed and rejuvenated — a feeling that is likely to have a ripple effect on their job and their co-workers when they return.

New leadership and growth opportunities emerge from these pauses. Newer or less experienced employees can fill interim roles and learn new skills. This leads to more fully engaged team members, which leads to greater flexibility and adaptability across a team or company.


Apple CEO Cook Makes The Rounds In Washington: Meets Hatch, Ivanka, by Edward C. Baig, USA Today

Apple CEO Tim Cook has apparently been sharpening his political skills.

Apple Joins Amazon, Facebook, Google, IBM And Microsoft In AI Initiative, by Romain Dillet, TechCrunch

Following Bloomberg’s report, the Partnership on AI to Benefit People and Society (what a name) officially announced that Apple is joining other tech companies as a founding member of the AI initiative. Companies will work on research projects, AI best practices and more.

The Computer-Revolution Edition Friday, January 27, 2017

Vanishing Point: The Rise Of The Invisible Computer, by Tim Cross, The Guardian

One of the most powerful technological forces of the past 50 years, in other words, will soon have run its course. The assumption that computers will carry on getting better and cheaper at breakneck speed is baked into people’s ideas about the future. It underlies many technological forecasts, from self-driving cars to better artificial intelligence and ever more compelling consumer gadgetry. There are other ways of making computers better besides shrinking their components. The end of Moore’s law does not mean that the computer revolution will stall. But it does mean that the coming decades will look very different from the preceding ones, for none of the alternatives is as reliable, or as repeatable, as the great shrinkage of the past half-century.

Bookish Hacker Finds Holes In Amazon, Apple, Google Epub Services, by Darren Pauli, The Register

Bug hunter Craig Arendt has reported vulnerabilities in major eBook readers including those from Apple, Google, and Amazon. [...] "[I] applied a familiar XXE pattern to exploit services and readers that consume the epub format [and exploited] vulnerabilities in EpubCheck, Adobe Digital Editions, Amazon KDP, Apple Transporter, and Google Play Book uploads," Arendt says. [...]

The named vendors have applied patches preventing the possible information disclosure and denial of service conditions.

What Would Happen If You Never Took Your Earbuds Out?, by Steve Rousseau, Digg

Keeping your earbuds in might save your ears from clogging up with earwax, but as a long-term strategy it’s just not a good idea. Earbuds don’t let anything in, but they also don’t let anything out. “It tends to trap moisture, it tends to accumulate debris underneath it,” says Lalwani. “So over time, what that’ll do is cause infections where the earplug sits.” Depending on how dirty and wet your ears are, this could happen within a matter of weeks.


Apple Support App Now Available In 22 Countries, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

The official Apple Support app for iPhone and iPad launched in additional countries this week, including but not limited to Belgium, France, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

The Gear You Need To Make Your iPad Your Only Computer, by David Pierce, Wired

Still, the iPad needs a little help to reach its full potential. You’ll need a few accessories, a little training, and some time to adjust to your new normal. Trust me when I say it’s a good thing that you can’t have 46 apps running simultaneously, and that you’ll only miss your super-duper file explorer app for a few days. You’ll soon realize that your computer doesn’t have to be complicated or clunky after all.

This iPhone App Can Do Your Kid's Homework, by John Patrick Pullen, Time

Just like a teenager, the artificial intelligence backing Socratic began by learning algebra. Bhansali's team had to write an algorithm that could analyze a photo of a math problem and solve it. Then, working with teachers, the company had to develop a layer of instruction to explain to users how to solve the problems in a step-by-step manner. That way, the app is doing more than just providing answers — it's helping students learn how those answers were found.

A Deep Dive Into HandBrake And Video Transcoding, by Rob Griffiths

An ideal rip would be one that happens in seconds, saves into a 10KB file, and has quality matching the original. The reality, though, is far from the ideal. Ripping a movie involves making trade-offs between those three competing measures: Maximizing any one measure requires some sort of tradeoff with one or both of the other measures.

After ripping so many DVDs and Blu-rays over the years, I was curious about how HandBrake and Don Melton’s Video Transcoding tools handle those tradeoffs, so I decided to do some testing.

Hands On: Air Display 3.0.3 Turns Your iPad Into A Wireless Second Screen For Your Mac, by Mike Wuerthele, AppleInsider

Air Display's big advantage is this wireless ability, and it mostly works well. Once you've set it up the first time and it's running away, your iPad does indeed act as a second screen to your Mac. It's an extension of your desktop or it's a mirror of it: the choice is yours. Move your Mac cursor to the side of your main screen and it appears on the iPad.

Banktivity 6 For Mac Adds Workspace, Tags, Quick Reports, And More, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

Banktivity 6 introduces Workspace, a new feature that enables customers to view any account, budget, report or other view side by side.


Apple Extends Developer Promotion For Free $100 App Store Search Ads Credit Until March 30, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

Apple is extending the introductory offer for App Store Search Ads until March 30, for developers who have yet to use the program.


Apple's International iTunes Business Moves To Ireland On Feb. 5, by Mikey Campbell, AppleInsider

After managing Apple's overseas operations since 2004, the Luxembourg branch will cease to be on Feb. 4. [...] The transfer comes amid rising tensions between Apple, Ireland and the European Union.

Apple Faces Lawsuit Over Song Sampled In iPhone Ad, by Joe Mullin, Ars Technica

Persuasions lead singer Jerome Lawson is the plaintiff in the new suit against Apple—but it isn't a copyright case. Rather, Lawson has said use of his voice in the ad violates his right of publicity under California state law.

The $99 Billion Idea: How Uber And Airbnb Won, by Brad Stone, Bloomberg

Both startups offered age-old ideas (share a vehicle, rent your home) with new twists and fostered a remarkable degree of openness among strangers. And both companies have been generating nearly nonstop controversy in every urban market they enter. They’ve come to represent, at least to some, the hubris of the techno-elite. Critics blame them for destroying the basic rules of employment, exacerbating traffic, ruining neighborhoods, worsening housing shortages, and generally bringing unrestrained capitalism into liberal cities. Airbnb and Uber didn’t anticipate this degree of pushback, which might have undone less zealous, more circumspect entrepreneurs.

So how did it all happen? How did each company maneuver past entrenched, politically savvy incumbents to succeed where others had failed? How much of their success was luck?

Bottom of the Page

Have a happy New Year.


Thanks for reading.

The Quantum-Context Edition Thursday, January 26, 2017

What’s Up With Firefox, The Browser That Time Forgot?, by Walt Mossberg, Recode

Building Firefox into a real contender will take a lot more work, and Mayo concedes that parts of the plan won’t be visible to users until later this year. Still, Mozilla claims that it “aims to pass Chrome on key performance measures that matter by end of year.”

To do that, the company is betting on something called Project Quantum, a new under-the-hood browsing engine that will replace big chunks of Mozilla’s ancient Gecko engine. [...]

Another cornerstone for the new Firefox is a project called the Context Graph that aims to use an enhanced browser history to replace navigational search. The idea is to use differential privacy — the same kind of privacy-respecting machine learning that Apple uses — to suggest places on the web to go for particular needs, rather than getting navigational answers from search.

Apple’s Icons Have That Shape For A Very Good Reason, by Mark Stanton, Hackernoon

A ‘secret’ of Apple’s physical products is that they avoid tangency (where a radius meets a line at a single point) and craft their surfaces with what’s called curvature continuity. Once you know how to spot it on products, you’re likely to start seeing it (or more likely the lack of it) all around you.

Apple Resellers And Service Providers Speak Out Following Simply Mac Closures, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

Since August 2015, Apple has lowered its profit margins for resellers, requiring them to pay more upfront for products. Apple then rebates the difference as part of the monthly Business Development Funds checks it sends to resellers, but this method requires resellers to wait longer to be fully paid.

In other words, while the margins did not change overall, resellers are now forced to pay more upfront for Apple products to sell, which restricts cash flow that could otherwise be used for day-to-day operations, employee wages, and other expenses. For smaller resellers, the change can be particularly burdensome.


3 Things Fitness Buffs Should Know About Apple Watch Series 2, by James A. Martin, CIO

Since the Apple Watch Nike+ became available in late October, I’ve been wearing the watch to record daily workouts. After nearly three months, I’m still infatuated with Apple’s latest smartwatch (part of its Series 2 line-up), with its built-in GPS and mostly excellent swim workout tracking.

But there are three potential disappointments fitness buffs should be aware of — especially if you long to leave your iPhone behind when working out.


Fun With String Interpolation, by Ole Begemann

One of the first things you learn as a Swift programmer is string interpolation, or how to mix variables and expressions into string literals to build new strings.

What you may not know is that you can customize what string interpolation does when you initialize your own custom types with an interpolated string. This is what this article is about.

Apple Will Soon Let Developers Reply To App Reviews On The App Store, by Benjamin Mayo

Whilst Apple should offer the ability for developers to respond to reviews, it shouldn’t become a mandatory thing. I believe Apple should let developers choose whether they want to enable replies for their app; this preference would then be shown to customers when they go to leave a review so they can know whether to expect a reply or not. If developers choose to opt out, the App Store is no worse off than how it has been for the last decade.


Apple Set To Join Amazon, Google, Facebook In AI Research Group, by Alex Webb, Bloomberg

Apple’s admission into the group could be announced as soon as this week, according to people familiar with the situation. Representatives at Apple and the Partnership on AI declined to comment. [...] Joining the Partnership on AI is the latest sign that Apple is opening up more. The group says it aims to “conduct research, recommend best practices, and publish research under an open license."

Why Apple Is Advancing Plans To Make Products In India, by Rex Crum, San Jose Mercury News

It’s no secret that Apple wants to have a bigger presence in India. Especially when it comes to the iPhone. By many accounts, Apple only has about 2 percent of the smartphone market in India, mainly due to the fact that the iPhone costs way more than the average Indian can afford.

But, with Apple’s sales in both the U.S. and China declining, it sees India as a potential gold mine. If the company can crack the market.

Apple Continues Antitrust Fight With Qualcomm With Two New Lawsuits, by Jacob Kastrenakes, The Verge

Apple is continuing its legal assault on Qualcomm with two new lawsuits filed today in Beijing.

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I am using Firefox on my Windows machine, and I do welcome Mozilla turning its attention back to the browser software. I am not thrilled, though, that this seems like another restart-from-scratch effort on the rendering engine.


Thanks for reading.

The Find-My-AirPods Edition Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Apple Unveils Its Own Way To Find Lost AirPods, by Lance Ulanoff, Mashable

Just two weeks after not-so-quietly removing the Finder for AirPods app, which helped nervous AirPod owners locate their misplaced Bluetooth audio devices, Apple announced its own official Find My AirPods utility inside the already familiar Find My iPhone app.

On The Likelihood Of Losing Your AirPods, by John Gruber, Daring Fireball

The habit I’ve gotten into is taking my case with me everywhere I go wearing AirPods. Whenever I take one or both of them out, I put them into the case. I try never to set them down or put them loose into a pocket. The buds are either in the case, in my ears, or in my fingers.

Apple's Night Shift Is Coming To macOS, by Paul Miller, The Verge

Well, now Apple’s Night Shift is coming to macOS. It just popped up in the latest 10.12.4 beta of Sierra, which is supposed to land alongside iOS 10.3. It's always a little sad to see an ingenious bit of software from a small upstart be copied by the Apple juggernaut ("Sherlocking," as it's called, due to Apple's notorious creation of Sherlock in response to an existing search product called Watson). Still, I eventually uninstalled F.lux because it was a little buggy, and I found living with a blue screen preferable to having my screen flash between orange and blue on occasion. So maybe I’ll actually use Apple’s implementation.

The New Font

Apple Transitioning Homepage To Its Cleaner & More Legible San Francisco Font, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

San Francisco is, of course, the font Apple designed and released to developers back in 2014. San Francisco was first applied to the Apple Watch interface and made its way to macOS and iOS in 2015.

The New World

How Artificial Intelligence Can Be Corrupted To Repress Free Speech, by Andrew Tarantola, Engadget

In fact, in many countries, the internet, the very thing that was supposed to smash down the walls of authoritarianism like a sledgehammer of liberty, has been instead been co-opted by those very regimes in order to push their own agendas while crushing dissent and opposition. And with the emergence of conversational AI -- the technology at the heart of services like Google's Allo and Jigsaw or Intel's Hack Harassment initiative -- these governments could have a new tool to further censor their citizens.


Automating Deeper With Keyboard Maestro, by Jason Snell, Six Colors

My tool of choice was Keyboard Maestro, which I bought to remap a bunch of keystrokes for my weird clicky keyboard. It’s an impossibly powerful utility that, among other things, lets you automate user-interface actions.

TextTool 2.0 Review, by John Voorhees, MacStories

TextTool is a powerful text editor with an extensive catalog of built-in text transformations. Developer Craig Pearlman has rewritten the app from the ground up and released it as a new Universal app. With support for URL schemes, JavaScript, and an extension, TextTool’s flexibility has never been greater.

TextTool defies easy categorization. It’s a text editor, but not a place where text lives. You won’t find an archive of past text documents you've created. Instead, TextTool is a temporary place to write, edit, and manipulate text that ends up somewhere else.

New Mac App Subscription Service 'Setapp' Offers 60 Mac Apps For $9.99 Per Month, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

Priced at $9.99 per month, Setapp is designed to be an alternative to the Mac App Store. Through the Setapp service, more than 60 apps across a wide range of categories are available to customers. Access to apps is unlimited and includes all updates and in-app purchase content.

‘Pokémon Duel’ Strategy Board Game Launches For iPhone And iPad, by Jordan Kahn, 9to5Mac

The Pokémon Company is today releasing its latest offering for mobile devices with Pokémon Duel, a strategy board game that lets you grow a team of six Pokemon characters and fight against others.


Apple Explains The New App Reviews API For Developers, by Jim Dalrymple, The Loop

With the release of macOS Sierra and iOS betas on Tuesday, Apple also released a new tool for developers, allowing them to respond to reviews on the Mac and iOS App Stores. But the API goes deeper than just giving developers a process to respond to reviews, it also makes it easier for customers to leave reviews, Apple told me this morning when we talked about the new feature.

Additional Details On The New App Store Review Features, by John Gruber, Daring Fireball

One reason developers prompt for reviews even after you’ve already reviewed a previous version of an app is that the average rating for an app gets reset with each update to the app — and a 4 or 5-star average rating can have a big effect on the number of downloads an app gets. From a developer’s perspective, it sucks when you replace a highly-rated version of your app with a minor bug-fix update and your average rating gets erased. It’s a tricky problem to solve, though — sometimes the latest update of an app really does deserve a new average rating, for better or for worse. I asked if this policy was changing, and Apple had nothing to announce — but they did acknowledge that they’re aware that the current policy is what led to the problem of apps badgering users too frequently for reviews.


Apple CEO Tim Cook Sells Another $3.6M In Company Stock, by Mikey Campbell, AppleInsider

Following today's reported trades, Cook is left with 979,809 shares of Apple worth about $117.6 million.

Apple’s Head Of Global Retail Marketing Is Going To Be Ford’s First Chief Brand Officer, by Johana Bhuiyan, Recode

Ford has hired its first ever chief brand officer. The automaker poached Musa Tariq from Apple, where he was the head of the company’s global social media and digital marketing efforts for its retail business.

Bottom of the Page

If I do use a pair of AirPods, I'll probably be constantly afraid of losing them. I'm not that worried that the AirPods will drop out of my ears by themselves, because many reviewers have find that to be something not to be worried about. But rather I'm worried that the AirPods will drop out because I bumped into something, or something bumped into me. I commute via trains and buses, and we all know that they are crowded and people are always in a rush and I'm blind. (Not literally.)

And I'm afraid that if the AirPods do drop out of my ears (or my hands when I am handling them), I will not be able to find them on the floor ever again. My eyesights aren't exactly what you'll call good nowadays.


Thanks for reading.

The Patch-Tuesday Edition Tuesday, January 24, 2017

macOS 10.12.3 Fixes Graphics Switching Problems With New 15“ MacBook Pros, by Andrew Cunningham, Ars Technica

The update also fixes a pair of PDF problems in Preview, one that prevented searching through scanned documents and one that resolves compatibility problems with encrypted PDF documents.

iOS 10.2.1 Is All About Fixing Bugs And Patching Security Holes, by Andrew Cunningham, Ars Technica

The release notes say only that it fixes bugs and includes security improvements. The security page for the update lists a number of vulnerabilities in the kernel, WebKit, and the Contacts app that have all been fixed. Apple also addressed a bug that could allow attackers to briefly access the home screen on an Activation Locked iPad that had been reset.

Apple Releases tvOS 10.1.1 For Fourth-Generation Apple TV, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

No new features or changes were discovered in the tvOS 10.1.1 beta, but as a 10.1.x update, it's likely to be minor in scale, primarily focusing on introducing bug fixes and performance optimizations.

Apple Finally Releases New Apple Watch Update, watchOS 3.1.3, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

Apple today released watchOS 3.1.3, an update that follows the watchOS 3.1.1 update that was released on December 12 but pulled later that same day due to installation issues.

Apple Releases iTunes 12.5.5 With 'Minor App And Performance Improvements', by Juli Clover, MacRumors

According to the company's release notes, iTunes 12.5.5 introduces "minor app and performance improvements."


Reports Of Stuck Keys On 12-inch MacBooks, Some Fixable, Others Needing Replacement, by Ben Lovejoy, 9to5Mac

An Apple Support Communities thread has multiple reports of stuck keys on the 12-inch MacBook. Some users report that they were able to resolve the issue themselves by cleaning out debris, while others have had machines replaced by Apple under warranty.

Think Different

Apple Inc: A Pre-Mortem – Adventures In Consumer Technology, by Dan M., Medium

When Walter Isaacson asked Steve Jobs what his greatest product was, he answered, “The product I’m most proud of is Apple and the team I built at Apple.” Steve also repeatedly emphasised the importance of hiring A+ players, who aren’t afraid to challenge each other.

Apple’s greatest threat is losing this culture.

Apple Inc: A Pre-Mortem, by Federico Viticci, MacStories

In general, it feels like there's a disconnect between some of the realities painted in this story and how I see people in real life use Apple devices and software. But, there is also a lot I agree with.

Flying Toasters

New Exhibit Celebrates The Lost Art Of The Screensaver, by Zack Kotzer, Motherboard

“Screensavers are like a moving painting,” Rozendaal told me in a Skype call from Utrech in the Netherlands. “It’s almost as if they were made for a museum. They’re purely digital images, so they’re designed to show what a computer will do. They don’t overdo it, they have very simple parameters. They aren’t storytelling.”

Rozendaal is curating a gallery of 27 screensavers in a way they’ve never been seen or appreciated before. The show is called Sleep Mode. Four of the oldest screen savers will be on their native machines, for context, but most will be blown up along the large space provided by Rotterdam’s Het Nieuwe Instituut (New Institute). Rozendaal has also put together an audio tour and an online collection of interviews with the people who created the screensavers etched into the back of your brain.


73 Mac Automation Stories From TidBITS Readers, by Adam C. Engst, TidBITS

With Apple making some moves that seem to indicate a waning interest in user automation technologies, we asked you to tell us how you rely on automation to get your work done. The stories poured in, and you can now read about the amazing things that fellow TidBITS readers have accomplished with AppleScript, Automator, and the many other automation technologies available to Mac users. It’s a lot, so don’t feel the need to do it all at once.

I’ll send these to Apple’s Tim Cook and Craig Federighi as well so they can see just how important automation is to the future of the Mac. And just to bring up how constantly I turn to automation tools, the start of each story below was formatted with a single grep search in BBEdit, saving me at least 10 minutes.

Safe Programming: Optionals And Hackintoshes, by Erica Sadun

I recently talked with a developer whose production code mixed forced unwraps with a guaranteed API. I wasn’t sure whether to tag this post as Holy War. As you’ll discover, this isn’t your run of the mill development situation.


Talking Shop: Inside The Design Of The Apple Store, by Oliver Smith, The Memo

Coming off the always busy Regent Street and entering the Apple store should allow people to decompress, slow down and explore the Apple products and services on their own terms, but with human support by your side when needed.

What Would Steve (Jobs) Do? He Sure Wouldn't Eat Humble Pie As The Trump Era Dawns., by Kara Swisher, Recode

Nothing to lose. Naked. Follow you heart. God, I miss Steve Jobs today. So should Silicon Valley.

The Demon Voice That Can Control Your Smartphone, by Kaveh Waddell, The Atlantic

Turns out there’s a gap between the kinds of sounds that people and computers understand as human speech. Last summer, a group of Ph.D. candidates at Georgetown and Berkeley exploited that gap: They developed a way to create voice commands that computers can parse—but that sound like meaningless noise to humans. These “hidden voice commands,” as the researchers called them, can deliver a message to Google Assistant-enabled Android phones nearby through bursts of what sounds like scratchy static.

Bottom of the Page

The only great screensavers out there today is Apple TV's Aerial. I can't think of anything else.


Thanks for reading.

The Uneamined-Acceptance Edition Monday, January 23, 2017

Apple Investigating Issue With AirPods Randomly Disconnecting During Calls, by Tim Hardwick, MacRumors

A long thread on Apple's Support Communities website has been generated by AirPods users who are regularly experiencing Bluetooth connection dropouts during phone calls, despite the fact that the wireless earphones almost never lose their connection when used to listen to music or anything else.

Algorithmic Life, by Massimo Mazzotti, Los Angeles Review of Books

Our life is increasingly shaped by algorithmic processes, from the fluctuations of financial markets to facial recognition technology. Manichean arguments for or against digital algorithms are hardly relevant. Rather, we need to understand how algorithms embedded in widespread technologies are reshaping our societies. And we should imagine ways to open them up to public scrutiny — thus grounding shared practices of accountability, trust, and transparency.

This is essential for the simple reason that algorithms are not neutral. They are emblematic artifacts that shape our social interactions and social worlds. They open doors on possible futures. We need to understand their concrete effects — for example, the kinds of social stratification they reinforce. We need to imagine how they might work if they were designed and deployed differently, based on different priorities and agendas — and different visions of what our life should be like.

Algorithms are powerful world-makers. Whose world will they make?

Lazy Thinking: Modularity Always Works, by Jean-Louis Gassée, Monday Note

Most important, strongly-worded theories are less interesting than exploring their cracks, where they don’t seem to work. This is how physics keeps moving forward and this is also how our understanding of business should advance. In the case of Project Ara, the unexamined consensual acceptance of Disruption Theory led many to believe that Modularity Always Wins meant smartphones would (and should) follow the same path as PCs.


Head To Head: Apple's Time Machine Versus Three Local Backup Utilities For macOS, by Mike Wuerthele, AppleInsider

We've recommended that you use Time Machine plus one of the three backup apps we've already spoken about. Let us equally recommend that you use an online backup service or some other method of off-site data warehousing, like keeping a hard drive in a safety deposit box.


Foxconn Considers $7bn US Display Facility With Apple, by Debby Wu, Nikkei Asian Review

Key iPhone assembler Hon Hai Precision Industry is mulling a joint investment with Apple topping $7 billion for a highly automated display facility in the U.S., Chairman Terry Gou said Sunday.

"Apple is willing to invest in the facility together because they need the [panels] as well," Gou told reporters after the company's annual year-end party in the Nankang district of Taipei. The U.S. production site eventually would create 30,000 to 50,000 jobs, the Taiwanese tycoon said.

The Ridges-And-Bumps Edition Sunday, January 22, 2017

How To Make The iPhone's Touch ID Work With Gloves, by Christina Warren, Gizmodo

A fun trick I discovered a while back that has continued to work with numerous pairs of gloves I’ve owned is to simply train my iPhone to learn the fingerprint of my glove hand. The capacitive material has its own ridges and bumps that, believe it or not, will work with the iPhone’s Touch ID training system.

Want Night Shift For Your Mac Or PC? Here's How To Keep The Blue Light Away, by Jamie Pham, Paste Magazine

It’s not easy as it would be if Apple would introduce the feature directly into macOS, but getting f.lux is pretty straightforward.

The Internet Of Things Is Coming For Us, by William Neuman, New York Times

Order gives way to chaos. The internet of things turns on its makers.

In Response To Guardian’s Irresponsible Reporting On WhatsApp: A Plea For Responsible And Contextualized Reporting On User Security, by Technosociology

You recently published a story with the alarming headline “WhatsApp backdoor allows snooping on encrypted messages.” This story included the phrasing “security loophole”.

Unfortunately, your story was the equivalent of putting “VACCINES KILL PEOPLE” in a blaring headline over a poorly contextualized piece. While it is true that in a few cases, vaccines kill people through rare and unfortunate side effects, they also save millions of lives.

You would have no problem understanding why “Vaccines Kill People” would be a problem headline for a story, especially given the context of anti-vaccination movements. But your series of stories on WhatsApp does the same disservice and perpetrates a similar public health threat against secure communications.

The Radical-Steps Edition Saturday, January 21, 2017

Apple Sues Qualcomm For Roughly $1 Billion Over Royalties, by Anita Balakrishnan, CNBC

Apple says that Qualcomm has taken "radical steps," including "withholding nearly $1 billion in payments from Apple as retaliation for responding truthfully to law enforcement agencies investigating them."

Apple added, "Despite being just one of over a dozen companies who contributed to basic cellular standards, Qualcomm insists on charging Apple at least five times more in payments than all the other cellular patent licensors we have agreements with combined."

Qualcomm Calls Apple's Claims 'Baseless' In Response To $1 Billion Lawsuit, by Tim Hardwick, MacRumors

This morning Qualcomm responded in a statement on its website in which it claimed that Apple "intentionally mischaracterized our agreements and negotiations".

Adding Digits

Why You Should Install A Set Of ‘Winter Fingerprints’ On Your Phone, by Leo Benedictus, The Guardian

This is not because your phone is cold (although subzero temperatures can slow it down) or, per se, because your skin is. The issue here is cold weather actually changing your fingerprint enough to make it unrecognisable. [...]

Probably the best solution overall is to install a new set of “winter fingerprints” with your worn fingers, much as you might switch to a winter wardrobe.

Security Matters

Full Time VPN, by Ben Brooks

I’m not knowledgeable enough to speak to where the line between convenience and privacy sits here. What I can say is that if you don’t like things just working, then you will hate any of these VPNs. For me, personally, I won’t be using them full time any longer. It was an interesting experiment, but more frustrating than worth. I will continue to use them when I am not on a network I control, and for those times I’ll be testing through the three.

If you want privacy on iOS, PIA seems like one of the best options, but you are going to pay the price on Internet speed. Your own VPN is hit and miss, but a good option if you don’t want to shell out any more money, but want to use Starbucks WiFi. Cloak, though, is what I am going to be using the vast majority of the time, and what I’ll be setting up on my Wife’s device for when she is not home.

How To Secure Your Phone For A Protest, by Max Eddy, PC Magazine

When you take the streets to demonstrate your beliefs, it's important to know your rights, but it's also important to take steps to secure your phone from theft, loss, and, of course, surveillance.


Review: Vivid-Pix Land & Sea For iPhone & iPad, by Christopher Morey,

This is impressive. In creating a very simple and easy-to-use app for devices with relatively little processing power, the designers have done a great job balancing performance, simplicity, and, for lack of a better word; taste.


Naming Things In Swift, by Ash Furrow

Whether or not you prefer conciseness when programming, Swift has language features that allow you to write your code at your preferred level of verbosity. Beyond naming, features like trailing closure syntax, unnamed parameters, positional closure arguments allow programmers to be verbose in some circumstances and succinct in others.

The question isn’t if you should be concise (or not). The question is: where you should be concise (or verbose).


Don Norman On What Apple, Google, And Tesla Get Wrong, by Mark Wilson, Fast Company

"As design has suddenly become popular, the wrong designs have suddenly become popular [as they have at Apple].

"I’d argue that those of us trained in the science side are not really good at making wonderful, delightful, emotionally pleasing objects, because we lack those design skills, but the designers with those skills lack the understanding of making those things usable and understandable.

"If only we could bring those two groups together! And that’s happening more and more. But Apple is driven by someone [Jony Ive] with a very traditional design background."

Grading Tim Cook, by Neil Cybart, Above Avalon

It's not easy describing Tim Cook's role within Apple. Yes, he is CEO serving at the discretion of Apple's board of directors. However, there is much more than this going on behind the scenes and Cook's formal title. Apple isn't run like an average company and shouldn't be judged as one. This impacts how we should grade Tim Cook's performance as Apple CEO.

A double standard is being used to judge Tim Cook. No other tech CEO is being graded on the same scale as Cook. He is being penalized for not entering questionable product categories. In addition, the new products that Apple has decided to sell are looked at through an iPhone lens. Apple has the best-selling smartwatch in history, with sales approaching 25M units in less than two years, and yet the product is looked at by some observers with a yawn. This type of criticism is just not found when it comes to judging Cook's peers. In fact, some of Apple's largest competitors have voting structures in place that make judging CEO performance a mere formality as boards don't have enough power to do much of anything.

The Confusion-In-TV-Land Edition Friday, January 20, 2017

Clearing Up Confusion About Netflix And The TV App, by Josh Centers, TidBITS

That’s because TV is drawing upon that search functionality that’s been there from the beginning. Netflix is fine with you using Siri to find Netflix content, but wants you to browse inside its own app.

However, that search also now works in iOS. Why? Because when the TV app debuted in iOS 10.2, Apple integrated iOS’s Siri search data with tvOS’s Siri data.

Netflix Is So Big That It Doesn’t Need Net Neutrality Rules Anymore, by Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica

The potential of reversing net neutrality rules increased the moment Donald Trump became president-elect, as Republicans in the Federal Communications Commission and Congress want to get rid of the rules. But in a letter to shareholders yesterday, Netflix reassured investors that this won't affect the company's financial performance or service quality.


Apple Updates Final Cut Pro X, Compressor And Motion With Bug Fixes And Performance Improvements, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

Apple today updated Final Cut Pro X, Compressor, and Motion, its software designed for professional video editors. Today's updates, the first since October, add new features and multiple bug fixes.

How To Turn Airmail Into The Ultimate Email App For iPhone, by Thorin Klosowski, Lifehacker

Airmail is all about management through customisation, and while it's fine out of the box, a little tweaking makes it even better.

Astropad Studio Is An iPad App That Changes Your Mac, by Khoi Vinh, Subtraction

It turns your iPad into a a Wacom-style graphics tablet, but because you can configure your own buttons, it actually presents an alternative interface to your favorite software. Not only can you create your own custom shortcuts with combinations of Apple Pencil gestures and touch, but you can also configure just the menu items you like, turning off the ones that you don’t find useful.


Apple Updates iOS App Design Resources, by John Voorhees, MacStories

Apple has updated its iOS design resources with a comprehensive set of colors, guides, templates, and UI elements.

Bad AppleScript: Try, Try Again, by Jason Snell, Six Colors

Kind of a ridiculous workaround—but you know what? The script has returned to 100 percent reliability.


Simply Mac Stores Closing Amid Apparent Corporate Restructuring, by AppleInsider

Well known Apple product purveyor Simply Mac is shuttering brick-and-mortar stores across the U.S., with conflicting reports claiming the move is either the result of corporate restructuring or a decision by Apple to end its nationwide sales agreement with the firm.

Inside Pandora's Quest To Take On Spotify, Apple Music & Amazon, by Robert Levine, Billboard

As the lights of the strip ­glimmer below, Pandora co-founder/CEO Tim Westergren stands before two dozen advertising executives in a 61st floor suite in the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. It’s the first day of 2017’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES), and he’s pitching Pandora’s new direction. “In my opinion, the other music subscription products out there are unsatisfying,” he says, referring to the on-demand streaming services the new Pandora Premium will begin competing with later in 2017. “They give you millions of songs, a search box and ‘good f—ing luck.'"

Clad in his usual uniform -- button-down shirt, dad jeans, hiking sneakers -- the 51-year-old Westergren proposes that the ­solution lies in Pandora’s Music Genome Project, which enables the service to recommend songs based on 450 ­characteristics, plus the data Pandora has collected on listener preferences. Those assets will power Pandora Premium when it launches before the end of March, as they do the ­service’s free radio and ad-free $4.99-a-month Pandora Plus tiers.

The Doors-Of-Opportunity Edition Thursday, January 19, 2017

How Technology Is Besting My Blindness, by Michael Schuman, Bloomberg

I was in Kenya to write a profile of a blind marathon runner, Henry Wanyoike, when he took me to the school for the blind where he learned to function after a stroke robbed him of sight. Wanyoike credits the place for saving his life. I found it depressing. The highly regarded school teaches the blind old-fashioned skills, like knitting or basic carpentry. In a country where opportunities are scarce for anybody, becoming an independent craftsman is the only way the disabled can support themselves. Entering a classroom was like stepping back in time. Watching students on benches cobbling together leather shoes with archaic tools, I realized that the only real difference between me and these people was the technology I had and they didn’t.

Looking back at that experience, however, I have reason to hope. As new technologies become more widespread and accessible, so many disabled who find the doors of opportunity locked will be able to break them down. We spend a lot of time worrying about how robots and other technologies threaten the world’s workers. What gets less attention is how many people can lead a more economically productive life because of such technology. And for the future? Who knows how my iPad will save me the next time I’m in Shanghai.

Musical Updates

Apple Launches Logic Pro X 10.3 With Customizable Touch Bar, GarageBand/iCloud Syncing, Refreshed UI & Top Requested Pro Features, by Jordan Kahn, 9to5Mac

Not only does version 10.3 introduce Touch Bar support for MacBook Pro in a way that might be the most ambitious yet— they are fully customizable and go well beyond what Garageband has— the update also includes a refreshed user interface and many top requested features by pros.

Apple Releases GarageBand 2.2 For iOS With Alchemy Synth, FX Pane, Refreshed Design, Logic Integration & More, by Jordan Kahn, 9to5Mac

Alongside an update for Logic Pro X today to version 10.3, GarageBand for iOS is also getting an update that introduces Logic integration, a refreshed design, and a handful of new features.

Security Matters

Newly Discovered Mac Malware May Have Circulated In The Wild For 2 Years, by Dan Goodin, Ars Technica

A newly discovered family of Mac malware has been conducting detailed surveillance on targeted networks, possibly for more than two years, a researcher reported Wednesday.

The malware, which a recent Mac OS update released by Apple is detecting as Fruitfly, contains code that captures screenshots and webcam images, collects information about each device connected to the same network as the infected Mac, and can then connect to those devices, according to a blog post published by anti-malware provider Malwarebytes.

'Fruitfly' Malware Patched By Apple Relies On 'Ancient' Mac System Calls, by Roger Fingas, AppleInsider

Unusually the malware is said to rely on pre-OS X system calls, and even open-source "libjpeg" code not updated since 1998. Much of the software is said to be Linux-compatible, possibly suggesting the existence of a native variant. Related Windows executables are said to exist, but date back to at least 2013.

Sweet Talks

EU Antitrust Regulators Welcome Amazon, Apple Audiobook Deal, by Foo Yun Chee and Harro ten Wolde, Reuters

A decision by Amazon and Apple to scrap all exclusivity obligations in the supply and distribution of audiobooks will likely boost competition, EU antitrust regulators said on Thursday.

The companies announced their decision on Jan. 5 after talks with the European Commission and the German Federal Cartel Office. Such curbs had prompted a complaint from the German Publishers and Booksellers Association to both regulators, triggering an investigation by the German enforcer in November 2015.


Flying With AirPods: Airplane Mode, Ambient Noise, Battery Life, And More, by Zac Hall, 9to5Mac

The best practice would be to always have AirPods either in your ears or in the charging case, but I naturally want to put them loose in my pocket quickly a lot of times which is just asking for trouble.

Slack’s New Threaded Messages Tame Your Meandering Chats, by Davey Alba, Wired

Slack’s new trick is called threaded messaging, and it’s a way to connect related messages inside a given chatroom. The feature rolls out to about 10 percent of Slack users today, but the company says the goal is to get the feature live across all Slack users within a week.

Review: Prynt, The Fun Instant Printer For The iPhone That Brings Live Photos To Life, by Ben Lovejoy, 9to5Mac

No, there’s no Harry Potter magic going on here: the prints are just prints. But embedded within them is effectively a hidden QR code within the pixels that allows the app to replay the Live Photo when viewed on any phone with the Prynt app installed.

How To Use The Touch Bar With Any App Thanks To BetterTouchTool, by Lory Gil, iMore

With Better Touch Tool, you can add an app launch button for any program to the Touch Bar: That includes both built-in and third-party apps. You can also add a variety of app functions when an app is open.

Zoho Notebook Is A Beautiful Notes App Alternative, by Preshit Deorukhkar, Beautiful Pixels

It offers a distinguished set of features, while retaining a pleasant UX for its users.


Inevitable Sherlocking, by David Smith

In a weird way I’ve just come to peace with this reality and grown to understand that this isn’t something that I should really fear. While the indefinite nature of its arrival certainly gives me a bit of unease, once I accepted that it was inevitable things got much simpler.

I approach development now with a slightly different perspective.


Court Rules Against Man Who Was Forced To Fingerprint-unlock His Phone, by Cyrus Farivar, Ars Technica

Had the defendant been forced to disclose his passcode (instead of depressing his fingerprint) to his phone, the constitutional analysis likely would have been different.

“Instead, the task that Diamond was compelled to perform—to provide his fingerprint—is no more testimonial than furnishing a blood sample, providing handwriting or voice exemplars, standing in a lineup, or wearing particular clothing,” the appellate court found.

Bottom of the Page

Between the popularity and ease-of-acquiring of audiobooks, and the pinch-to-zoom capabilities of iPhone and iPad apps, I'm glad I can continue to read widely even as my eyesights get worse and worse.

It sure is better than being restricted to large-print books. (If I remember correctly, there is only one or two shelves of such books in my local library.)


Thanks for reading.

The Total-And-Inescapale Edition Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Clearing Out The App Stores: Government Censorship Made Easier, by Farhad Manjoo, New York Times

Blocking a website is like trying to stop lots of trucks from delivering a banned book; it requires an infrastructure of technical tools (things like China’s “Great Firewall”) and enterprising users can often find a way around it. Banning an app from an app store, by contrast, is like shutting down the printing press before the book is ever published. If the app isn’t in a country’s app store, it effectively doesn’t exist. The censorship is nearly total and inescapable.

But that’s not the end of this story. The banning of apps highlights a deeper flaw in our modern communications architecture: It’s the centralization of information, stupid.

Reinventing The Music Industry

Apple's Stream Team: Zane Lowe, Bozoma Saint John, And Larry Jackson Are Taking Music To The Future, by Brendan Klinkenberg, Complex

Eighteen months after its debut, Apple Music is clearly more than just a streaming service. Any assumptions that Apple was taking on Spotify, Tidal, and their ilk, by simply making a splashy clone and putting it on every iPhone on Earth have been dispelled. Instead, Apple Music is trying to do, well, everything. Under the guidance of its head of content, Larry Jackson, 35, it’s signing the biggest names in music—including Drake, Frank Ocean, and Taylor Swift—to exclusive deals, and flying right in the face of the old-world labels to do so. Apple has established its own radio station, Beats 1, and poached Zane Lowe, 43, from BBC Radio 1 to serve as its leading personality. And it has Bozoma Saint John, 39, who ran music and entertainment marketing at Pepsi and reportedly brokered Beyoncé’s 2013 Super Bowl performance, to explain what Apple Music is for the masses who have never shelled out for a streaming subscription.

If Apple Music seems freewheeling, that’s because it is. It’s laying out a future for the music industry, but right now, the path ahead is murky. The company is seemingly figuring things out as it goes—a far cry, metaphorically speaking, from the perfectly designed rectangle of the iPod. Unlike Steve Jobs, Jackson, Lowe, and Saint John aren’t designers—they’re plucked directly from the entertainment industry. Fittingly, it’s a new kind of leadership for the next chapter of music history.

Security Matters

Apple Releases Supplemental Security Update For OS X El Capitan, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

Apple today released a new version of OS X El Capitan Security Update 2016-003, fixing an additional kernel issue that could cause Macs running the operating system to freeze up and become unresponsive.

Sending This Text Will Crash Almost Any iPhone, But Don’t Expect It To Become A Major Problem, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Lately more than ever we’ve been seeing weird bugs pop up that can cause iOS devices to crash. These oddities include things such as text strings, date changes, and bizarre links. The latest one, shown by YouTuber EverythingApplePro, is a three character strand of text and emoji, but the process is somewhat convoluted…

Note Taking

Evernote’s New App Is More Than An Update—It’s A Reboot, by David Pierce, Wired

When the iOS app redesign project started in early 2016, O’Neill had a three-word mantra he used over and over: time to note. “The thing that drives me crazy about the product today is the friction,” he says. “I’m on a run, I have an idea. I have to stop, open an app, click more than two times.” Half the time the idea’s already gone. So his instruction was to remove every possible step between you wanting to take a note, and that note appearing in Evernote. “We’re not fundamentally changing what Evernote is,” says Kara Hodecker, Evernote’s design manager. “There are still notebooks, tags, and notes. But when we approached this redesign, we were like, I want to fix these big problems that exist.” The app needed to be easier to get around, less confusing for new users, and faster. Especially faster.

Evernote’s Redesign Is Too Little, Too Late, by Casey Newton, The Verge

In this light, simplifying the mobile app seems like a good idea. Removing clutter from Evernote, or at least hiding it, could give the company a new foundation upon which to build.

The problem is that it took Evernote 18 months just to get its flagship app to the usability of Apple’s stock Notes app — and that’s the easy part. The company (along with seemingly every other company in Silicon Valley) has bet its future on artificial intelligence, and the idea that Evernote’s machine learning will do for you what 100 features buried inside the app would not.


iBooks StoryTime Is A Fine Apple TV App For Those Who Have Children Or Grandchildren, by Dennis Sellers, Apple World Today

I read many books to my kiddos when they were young, and I love reading to my granddaughter. If you’re a parent or grandparent, I hope you do, too. However, if there are times when that’s inconvenient, you can have the Apple TV handle the job thanks to iBooks StoryTime.

Microsoft Solitaire Collection: My New iOS App Addiction, by Steven Sande, Apple World Today

This marks the first time that Microsoft has brought its solitaire card games to iOS, and the company has done an excellent job with the app.


The Type Snob, by Pablo Stanley, The Design Team

After reading extensively on typography, and seeing what works (IRL), I developed the following list of guidelines that have consistently helped me with typographic design. Hopefully, you can apply these tips to start improving the your own typographic design process — without turning you into a snob.

Guerrilla Innovation, by Janice Gervais, A List Apart

Anyone can come up with an idea on the fly or think they’re having an Oprah Aha! Moment, but real innovation takes hours of work, trying and failing over and over, a serious amount of determination, and some stealth guerrilla tactics.

The first step in guerilla innovation is making sure you’re solving the right problem. Just because your idea genuinely is amazing doesn’t mean it will provide genuine value. If it doesn’t solve a tangible problem or provide some sort of tangible benefit, you have little or no chance of getting your team and your company to buy into your idea.


Chris Lattner Says Opportunity To Work On Tesla's Ambitious Self-Driving Efforts Was 'Irresistible', by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

"I've been writing code for more than 30 years, and 16 of those years have been in the developer tools space. I love it, but I am ready to move on to something else. Autopilot is clearly incredibly important to the world because of its ability to save people's lives (and increase convenience). It is also a very, very hard technology problem and my experience building large scale software and team building is useful. Of course, I’ve also been a huge Tesla fan for some time."

Qualcomm Sued By US Regulators For Anti-competitive Practices, by Jacob Kastrenakes, The Verge

According to the FTC, Qualcomm used its dominant position as a modem supplier to muscle out competition by essentially giving smartphone manufacturers two choices: pay extra for use of its patents, or don’t make a widely available phone. [...]

In order to obtain relief from Qualcomm’s excessive patent licensing fees, the lawsuit says, Apple made an agreement not to use any other company’s modems for a period of five years. In exchange, Qualcomm paid back some of its fees.

The supposed agreement helps to explain why it wasn’t until this year, when the deal is said to have ended, that Apple began using Intel modems in addition to Qualcomm modems.

Bottom of the Page

I am a paying customer of Evernote, and I really hope Evernote can give me a simple and unifying experience on all the platforms. (I use Evernote on iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Windows.)


Thanks for reading.

The After-Brexit Edition Tuesday, January 17, 2017

App Store App Prices To Rise In The UK By More Than 25% Following Brexit Exchange Rate Fluctuations, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

Apple is rising the prices for apps and in-app purchases in a few countries following changes to exchange rates and taxation policy, with customers in India, Turkey and the United Kingdom to see price increases.

In the United Kingdom, one of Apple’s largest markets, app prices are rising up more than 25% following the weak pound exchange rate after the Brexit vote. An app sold for $0.99 in the US will now cost £0.99 in the UK, up from £0.79.

Google Fit: Can It Catch Up With Apple HealthKit?, by Jo Best, ZDNet

With IBM Watson already using artificial intelligence to help doctors diagnose rare conditions or help select the most appropriate treatment for a particular patient, it's easy to see how Google could do similarly, turning Fit from consumer nice-to-have to a first-line tool for healthcare workers.

However, for now, Apple seems to be outpacing Mountain View in the segment -- it has more apps using HealthKit, has several hospitals signed on to use the system for patients, and has both the UK's main health records software companies offering integration with the platform.

Why Amazon's Echo Is Totally Dominating — And What Google, Microsoft, And Apple Have To Do To Catch Up, by Matt Weinberger, Business Insider

Here's a look at how Amazon propelled itself into this leading position in the first place, where its biggest rivals still have room to overtake it, and why Apple needs to move in on this sooner rather than later.

The South-Park-Walks-Into-My-Office Edition Monday, January 16, 2017

Jimmy Iovine Addresses Apple Music Expansion Reports, by Kate Stanhope, The Hollywood Reporter

"At Apple Music, what we're trying to create is an entire cultural, pop cultural experience and that happens to include audio and video," he told reporters Saturday at the Television Critics Association winter press tour.

"If South Park walks into my office, I am not going to say you're not musicians, you know?" Iovine continued when pressed about the report. "We're going to do whatever hits popular culture smack on the nose. We're going to try."

The iPhone Unsung Sine Qua Non, by Jean-Louis Gassée, Monday Note

In retrospect, the ascendency of Smartphone 2.0 and the way it has shaped our culture seems obvious and natural. But the celebration and contemplation overlooks a crucial Sine Qua Non, a necessary (but not sufficient) condition: Unlocking the carriers’ grip on handset specifications, marketing, and content distribution.


Hands On With Airmail 1.5, Managing Apple Mail, Gmail, And Exchange On iOS, by Mike Wuerthele, AppleInsider

So for instance, say that email has come in from this important new client. Once you've set it all up, a single swipe or tap from you will chuck that message into your To Do app as a new task, it will archive your boss's email and send an automated reply to it too. Plus it will mark that client as a VIP.

This does make powering through your emails much quicker than usual. Or, it does when your emails are the sort that need quick actions and quick replies. If things need more thought and merit a longer reply from you, you're still better off doing so on your Mac. There is an Airmail for Mac, though, so you could stick to the same software on both, if you were so inclined.


Performance Reviews Are Making Us Cry. We Might Not Like The Cure, by Rebecca Greenfield, Bloomberg

For some workers, the annual meeting with their manager is an emotionally scarring exercise in humiliation that can push them to tears—or even quitting, a new survey from Adobe finds. In a sample of 1,500 office workers, 22 percent admitted to having cried after a review. Nearly as many said they'd quit.

More men said they'd cried than women. More men said they had quit, too.

Bottom of the Page

The iTunes name is confusing. It started off as a jukebox software, and then music store, and then all sorts of non-tunes features and content.

Let's hope Apple Music doesn't suffer the same fate.


Thanks for reading.

The Wave-Like-A-Mad-Person Edition Sunday, January 15, 2017

AirPods Make Their Video Debut, by John Voorhees, MacStories

Apple posted three 15-second advertisements featuring AirPods. Each video is black and white, except for the screens of the iPhones that make an appearance in two of the clips. All three also features the single ’Down’ by Marian Hill.

Apple’s First AirPods Ad Reminds Me Of The iPod Ads, by Romain Dillet, TechCrunch

More importantly, it shows that you can finally move around without thinking about it. There’s no wire, so if you want to wave your arms like a mad person, you can.


Game Day: Open Bar, by John Voorhees, MacStories

There are a lot of puzzle games on the App Store, but Open Bar strikes a unique balance between smart gameplay and a fresh design that makes it stand out from its peers.

As WhatsApp Becomes Latest Victim, Are Any Messaging Apps Truly Secure?, by Nathaniel Mott, The Guardian

There will never be a one-size-fits-all in the secure communications market. Just as these services have to decide on what problems they wish to solve, consumers must choose the app that best suits their needs. More apps support end-to-end encryption than ever, and even if none of them are perfect, this means private communications are more secure than before. These are nuanced problems that must be considered with care instead of being oversimplified.

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I like the new AirPods ad, except for the part where our dancer walks on light bulbs.


Many many months ago, when my daughter was younger and bedtime story reading was a nightly activity, one of the book series that we both enjoyed awas "A Series of Unfortuante Events." That's why I've had to stop watching the other series I'm following on Netflix this past week when Neil Patrick Harris' TV series showed up.

Which is my long-winded way of telling you that I've been pronouncing the name Baudelaire wrongly all these years.


Thanks for reading.

The Widescreen-iPod-With-Touch-Controls Edition Saturday, January 14, 2017

Is Watching A Movie On A Phone Really So Bad?, by Glenn Kenny, New York Times

“People who watch movies on phones (especially if they think they can leave valid critical comments on imdb) should be shot,” the critic Anne Billson declared on Twitter in mid-December. I quote her not to scold her, or to hold her to her word, but to underscore that passions in the format-platform controversies run high.

Apple ][ Forever

Early Photos Of Life At Apple With Steve Jobs, From The Company’s First Few Employees, by Jim Edwards, Business Insider

Early Apple images are relatively rare. In the 1970s people did not use cameras on a daily basis. These images are remarkable because they show life at Apple before everyone realized the company was going to change the world. For them, it was just a paycheck.

What, Me Worry?

WhatsApp Backdoor Allows Snooping On Encrypted Messages, by Manisha Ganguly, The Guardian

WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption relies on the generation of unique security keys, using the acclaimed Signal protocol, developed by Open Whisper Systems, that are traded and verified between users to guarantee communications are secure and cannot be intercepted by a middleman. However, WhatsApp has the ability to force the generation of new encryption keys for offline users, unbeknown to the sender and recipient of the messages, and to make the sender re-encrypt messages with new keys and send them again for any messages that have not been marked as delivered.

The recipient is not made aware of this change in encryption, while the sender is only notified if they have opted-in to encryption warnings in settings, and only after the messages have been resent. This re-encryption and rebroadcasting effectively allows WhatsApp to intercept and read users’ messages.

Dissidents Disappointed But Not Surprised By WhatsApp Security Flaw, by Emma Graham-Harrison, The Guardian

The exposure of a security flaw in WhatsApp has disappointed activists, diplomats and others who use it regularly for their work, but in a world of increasing surveillance and ever more aggressive hacking, many say they were already wary of trusting its promise of total privacy.

WhatsApp And Friends Take Umbrage At Report Its Crypto Is Backdoored, by Dan Goodin, Ars Technica

Of course, there are some notable drawbacks that make such an attack scenario highly problematic from the standpoint of most attackers. For one, for the attack to work well, it would require control of a WhatsApp server, which is something most people would consider extraordinarily difficult to do. Absent control over a WhatsApp server, an attack would require abusing something like the SS7 routing protocol for cellular networks to intercept SMS messages. But even then, the attacker who wanted to acquire more than a single message would have to figure out a way to make the targeted phone unavailable over the network before impersonating it. What's more, it wouldn't be hard for the sender to eventually learn of the interception, and that's often a deal-breaker in many government surveillance cases. Last, the attack wouldn't work against encrypted messages stored on a seized phone.

WhatsApp’s New Vulnerability Is A Concession, Not A Backdoor, by Russell Brandom, The Verge

Messages are encrypted by default, but there’s a demonstrated way for WhatsApp’s servers to break a given conversation’s encryption. That could open the company up to some uncomfortable legal demands. It’s easy to imagine a forward-looking wiretap order demanding that WhatsApp perform this attack on a particular user. Unlike the Brazilian order, it would be difficult for the company to claim it couldn’t comply. It’s not a particularly useful technique for law enforcement: the target would be notified, and investigators wouldn’t get as much information as they would from an SMS login hijack or simply mugging the target when her phone is unlocked. But if an ambitious prosecutor wanted to score points in the encryption debate, it could be a very tempting subpoena to file.


Hands On: SuperDuper! 2.9.1 Backup Tool Updated For macOS Sierra, by Mike Wuerthele, AppleInsider

SuperDuper! aims to make it quick to set up a backup copying of your data and to make certain that you know exactly what will happen when you click on the Copy Now button.

Using A Gear S3 With An iPhone: Too Many Concessions, by Jason Cipriani, ZDNet

Another downside is that the Gear S app has to remain open in the background, meaning if iOS kills the app to free up resources, notifications on the watch can stop, and apps that require data such as S Voice will cease working until you relaunch the Gear S app on your phone.


One Thing, by Michael Lopp, Rands In Repose

This system is not for everyone. This system will be more useful to manager-types who have a deep sense of productivity doom. If you keep asking at the end of the day, “What did I do today?” This system might work. If you aggressively keep your to-do list tidy and regularly updated, but never feel like you’re ahead, I might be able to help.

Please note: this is going to hurt and you are going to get mad at some point. Sorry.


Why Carmakers Want To Keep Apple And Google At Arm's Length, by Jacob Kastrenakes, The Verge

Though carmakers have generally embraced Apple's CarPlay and Google's Android Auto, many are hoping to establish an alternative app system that will be almost entirely under their purview. Automakers bill it as a move to create a seamless experience for their customers, but others in the industry see it as a way to cut Apple and Google out of the equation, so that vehicle manufacturers can continue to sell new services to customers.

How I Got My Attention Back, by Craig Mod, Backchannel

Disconnection helped me remember what the mind felt like before I had lost my attention. Reminded me how it felt to wash off that funereal glaze that seemed to coat us all, and to return to the world — however thick the gloom — with clarity and purpose, able to help out in far better ways than I could have had I stayed online.

I wanted my attention back, and I’ve got it … for now.

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10 years later, I don't think any of the local telcos here in Singapore has yet implement Visual Voicemail.

Of course, who the hell leaves voicemail nowadays?


Thanks for reading.

The Lucky-Bounce Edition Friday, January 13, 2017

How Designers Engineer Luck Into Video Games, by Simon Parkin, Naultius

“In Peggle, the seemingly random bouncing of the balls off of pegs is sometimes manipulated to give the player better results,” Jason Kapalka, one of the game’s developers, admitted to me. “The Lucky Bounce that ensures that a ball hits a target peg instead of plunking into the dead ball zone is used sparingly. But we do apply a lot of extra ‘luck’ to players in their first half-dozen levels or so to keep them from getting frustrated while learning the ropes.” Tweaking the direction of any given bounce by just a few compass degrees—but not so much that the ball swerves unrealistically in mid-air—is enough to encourage beginners and not make the game too unbelievable, Kapalka said.

Fairness is the unspoken promise of most video games. Controlled by an omniscient and omnipotent designer, a video game has the capacity to be ultimately just, and players expect that it will be so. (Designers also have an incentive to be even-handed: A game that always beats you is a game you’ll soon stop playing.) And yet, when video games truly play by the rules, the player can feel cheated.

Privacy Matters

Demand For Secret Messaging Apps Is Rising As Trump Takes Office, by Lauren Smiley, The Verge

That Sunday, Bryan shared an idea about how to communicate: “Whats-App,” she said, enunciating the two syllables as if trying the name out for the first time. “A group that is entirely encrypted, where we know what we share is completely safe.”

Nathan Freitas, a software developer and privacy activist, was sitting in the pews. “I’m like, did my reverend just use the word ‘encryption’?”

Test Sans Cache

Consumer Reports Changes Course And Now Recommends New 2016 MacBook Pro, by Greg Barbosa, 9to5Mac

After becoming aware of a Safari bug that may have impacted results, CR recently started retesting on a newer build of macOS Sierra in which the bug was supposedly fixed.

Why We Should Care About The Consumer Reports MacBook Pro Rating, by Glenn Fleishman, TidBITS

The moral of the story is that, when the results of one test are so unusual, the correct thing to do is dig more, not introduce confusion into the world. The reason isn’t to save a company’s feelings or sales, but to keep your bond of trust with your readers.


Google Lets Imaginations Run Wild With Toontastic 3D App, by Terry Collins, CNET

The search giant said Thursday it's launching Toontastic 3D, which lets kids simply "animate and narrate" their own stories by selecting their characters and background using the app's editor and camera features.

Ecobee3 Remote Sensors Now Work As HomeKit Motion Detectors & Room Temperature Monitors, by Zac Hall, 9to5Mac

It’s a Wi-Fi smart thermostat with remote sensors that detect both presence and temperature in individual rooms, and the latest firmware update to Ecobee3 officially adds HomeKit support to these sensors.

Microsoft Launches StaffHub, A New Office 365 App Aimed At Shift Workers, by Sarah Perez, TechCrunch

The program is aimed at those who don’t tend to work from desktop computers and have different schedules from week to week, such as in retail, hospitality, restaurants, and other industries. Shutting Down Twitter-like Social Platform On March 14, Open Sources Code, by Ken Yeung, VentureBeat

Launched in 2012, the social network billed itself as being ad-free and subscription-based, but on Thursday, the company announced it was shutting down. will cease to exist on March 14, citing an inability to generate meaningful revenue and failing to gain attention of developers and users.


Apple Increases App Size Restriction For tvOS Apps From 200MB To 4GB, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

With today’s change, tvOS apps can now be just as big as iOS apps, which are also capped at 4GB. Apple says that this increase in size will allow for developers to “provide a complete, rich user experience” right from installation.

The Dark Path, by Robert C. Martin, The Clean Code Blog

The question is: Whose job is it to manage that risk? Is it the language’s job? Or is it the programmer’s job?

Types Vs TDD, by Chris Eidhof

Don’t get me wrong: types are not a silver bullet. You still need to test your code. But wouldn’t you rather test interesting parts, and leave the boring stuff to the compiler?


How Apple's Culture Of Secrecy Wears Down Its Top Developers, by Julie Bort, Business Insider

But someone in Lattner's circle of developer friends shared some insight at to why Lattner was calling it quits at Apple now, even as one of his major contributions, Swift, had really taken off. (Lattner did not respond to our requests for comment.)

This person said one big reason was that Apple's culture of secrecy was wearing on him, particularly because it was his job (and his life's work) to create open-source developer tools.

U.S. Appeals Court Revives Antitrust Lawsuit Against Apple, by Stephen Nellis and Dan Levine, Reuters

iPhone app purchasers may sue Apple Inc over allegations that the company monopolized the market for iPhone apps by not allowing users to purchase them outside the App Store, leading to higher prices, a U.S. appeals court ruled on Thursday.

Apple's Lisa Jackson Joins Federal Committee Advising On Vehicle Automation, by Mitchel Broussard, MacRumors

Lisa Jackson, Apple's vice president of environment, policy, and social initiatives, has been named as a member of the new Federal Committee on Automation. Announced by the U.S. Department of Transportation, the committee will act as an advisory panel to discuss and look into "some of the most pressing and relevant matters facing transportation today."

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When the App Store was new, I was checking for new apps to try out almost every single day. And like many people, I've stopped trying out new apps over the years.

Could it be that Apple need to find new ways to promote apps from third-party developers who are not named Nintento? Or could it be that we are all getting older, and the small font sizes in the App Store are not that great for old eyes?


Thanks for reading.

The Rail-Planning Edition Thursday, January 12, 2017

We Asked A Transit Planner How To Up Our 'Mini Metro' Game, by Robert Rath, Waypoint

It's always the way, isn't it? You build a new line to serve a developing area, and suddenly all those new passengers are clogging up your stations and filling your trains. Expanding the network always puts pressure on your established line. Look at the Hong Kong subway map and you can see trouble brewing.

Given that Mini Metro is a fairly light, simple game, it's astonishing that it can convey such a nuanced concept about rail planning. But that's far from the only lesson it holds—in fact, transit specialists are taking notice of the game and how it conveys the challenges, strategies, and frustrations of building a public transportation system.

And it turns out that playing like a transit designer can have very real benefits for upping your Mini Metro game.

iPhone At 10

The First Trillion Dollars Is Always The Hardest, by Horace Dediu, Asymco

There is a temptation to think that such a business is fragile and will be disrupted. Challengers appear daily and the number of iPhone “killers” is not measurable. One can cite the billion users of Nokia phones which defected. One can cite the loyalty of BlackBerry users that evaporated. One can even cite the juggernaut of Windows and how it became impotent. One can cite the vast number of Android devices offered at low prices.

But there are reasons to believe that the iOS empire is far stronger and resilient.

Tony Fadell Tells Us The Story Of The iPod-based iPhone Prototype, by Nilay Patel, The Verge

So there were two different types of prototypes. There's one, a prototype for the UI team, and typically, because UI teams are using Director — back in the day — and quickly mocking things up on a screen. One team is doing it like it's an iPod, and another team is doing it like it was a touchscreen. The teams were working together. So it wasn't like there were two different people trying different things.


App Extensions Are Not A Replacement For User Automation, by Sal Soghoian, MacStories

Perhaps it is time for Apple and all of us to think of User Automation and App Extensions in terms of "AND" instead of "OR." To embrace the development of a new cross-platform automation architecture, maybe called “AutomationKit,” that would incorporate the “everyman openness” of User Automation with the focused abilities of developer-created plugins.


Astropad Studio Turns The iPad Pro Into A Pro Drawing Tablet For Macs, by Darrell Etherington, TechCrunch

Astropad, a company that has focused on making second-screen software for iPad to use with a connected Mac, is debuting Astropad Studio today, a new version of its software that adds a lot of customizable options to Astropad’s basic screen mirroring features to make it a much more powerful replacement for expensive graphics hardware like Wacom’s Cintiq tablets.

Terminology: A Comprehensive Research Tool For Words, by John Voorhees, MacStories

Terminology combines a dictionary, thesaurus, and word research tool in a single integrated package.

Photolemur Review: An App That Puts Mac Image Enhancement On Autopilot, by J.R. Bookwalter, Macworld

Photolemur makes almost any photo look better in a snap without manual editing, but there’s little control over the results.

HealthView Review: Your Customized Health App, by Jake Underwood, MacStories

[R]ather than providing you information scattered throughout the app, you choose what you want to see, how you want to see it, and when it appears.


The Dream Of Ara: Inside The Rise And Fall Of Google’s Most Revolutionary Phone, by Harrison Weber, VentureBeat

“At first, I wanted to make a phone that lasts 100 years. But then I realized, I kind of like technology — that it evolves, that it gets better. The only downside is that after it gets better, we throw everything away. I started looking into it, and it generates a lot of e-waste … I mean now we have some devices, but in the future it’s thermostats, fridges, microwaves — everything will be connected. So what if a chip breaks in your fridge? Do you just throw the entire thing away?”

The Phonebloks story spread like wildfire. Gadget blogs covered it en masse, hordes of supporters signed up to support, tweet, and share the idea with a viral marketing tool called Thunderclap, and developers fired back, saying it couldn’t be done — that it was impossible to build. Perhaps they had a point.

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Now that AirPods can detect when you remove your earpiece so that it can pause the music...

The next step will be to figure out when you are asleep, so that it can pause the podcast.

Now you really can wear your AirPods 24x7.



Thanks for reading.

The Invisible-Autofills Edition Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Browser Autofill Used To Steal Personal Details In New Phishing Attack, by Samuel Gibbs, The Guardian

Kuosmanen discovered that when a user attempts to fill in information in some simple text boxes, such as name and email address, the autofill system, which is intended to avoid tedious repetition of standard information such as your address, will input other profile-based information into any other text boxes – even when those boxes are not visible on the page.

It means that when a user inputs seemingly innocent, basic information into a site, the autofill system could be giving away much more sensitive information at the same time should the user confirm the autofill.

Bug, Not Feature

Apple Says Consumer Reports MacBook Pro Battery Testing Used Flawed Methods, by Romain Dillet, TechCrunch

“Consumer Reports uses a hidden Safari setting for developing web sites which turns off the browser cache. This is not a setting used by customers and does not reflect real-world usage,” Apple said in a statement. [...]

In addition to this, Apple has also discovered that there was a bug in Safari affecting icon fetching. This bug has been fixed — this should improve benchmarks.

Consumer Reports Battery Test Uncovers An Apple Bug, by Jason Snell, Six Colors

Consumer Reports turns off auto-dimming features on laptop displays, for instance—but what if Apple’s auto-dimming algorithm was notably superior to ones found on PC laptops? In that case, the battery savings of that feature would be discarded in the name of testing consistency. Is it worth it? It’s a balancing act. There are judgment calls like that at every turn when you’re building lab tests.

Privacy In A Box

Apple Enhances Security Options For Its CareKit Apps, by Emma Hinchliffe, Mashable

The tech giant has partnered with the security firm Tresorit to offer developers using Apple's CareKit platform increased privacy options, helping reach HIPAA compliance.

Tresorit's security technology, called ZeroKit, will offer user authentication for patients and healthcare workers, end-to-end encryption of health data, and "zero knowledge" sharing of health data, in which data isn't shared with any service as it transfers.

Swift Moves

Tesla's New Autopilot Chief Is A Longtime Apple Veteran, by Jordan Golson, The Verge

Tesla has hired Chris Lattner as vice president of autopilot software, bringing him over from Apple where he was in charge of the Developer Tools Department. At Tesla, Lattmer will lead the Autopilot engineering team and “accelerate the future of autonomous driving,” according to a Tesla blog post.

Daniel Gross Of Apple Leaves To Become Y Combinator’s Newest Partner, by John Mannes, TechCrunch

Daniel Gross, the founder of YC-backed Cue, a search engine for personal content, is joining Y Combinator as a partner. Coming hot off a stint as a Director at Apple focusing on machine learning, Gross will be bringing some fresh AI flare to to YC’s existing team.


Apple's 'Designed By Apple In California' Book Expands To Additional Countries, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

As of this month, Apple's websites and retail stores in the following countries carry the book: Canada, Brazil, Singapore, New Zealand, and Ireland.

The Best Flashcard Study App, by Alex Tran, The Sweet Setup

Flashcards are an effective and time-tested way of studying. Whether you’re cramming for a test or learning a new language, flashcard apps help you study smarter, not longer. Our recommended flashcard app, Studies, does just that by striking a healthy balance of features for casual and power users.

Convert Spare Holiday Change Into iTunes Credits With TravelersBox, by Aloysius Low, CNET

Instead of bringing back 3,280 yen of loose change from your holiday in Japan, why not convert it into something you can use when you get home?

That's the premise behind TravelersBox, an airport kiosk you can find in 10 countries around the world. Chuck you leftover cash into the machine and you can convert it into iTunes credits, Starbucks vouchers, or even add it to your PayPal account.


Art In The Age Of Obsolescence, by Ben Fino-Radin, MoMA

Six months ago, I wrote some thoughts on the paradigm shift in how museums think about the balance between preserving an artwork and sharing it with the public. My conclusion was this: time-based media art installations do not truly exist until they are installed and, thus, these works must be exhibited — or “exercised” — with a certain degree of regularity. This is a concept first championed in the conservation field over a decade ago, by Pip Laurenson of Tate. Lovers, by Japanese media artist Teiji Furuhashi (1960–1995), is an excellent example of this. What follows is the story of how our team rescued this important example of early-1990s Japanese media art from a crumbling foundation of obsolete technologies (MS-DOS and LaserDisc, for starters) and ensured that it will live on so that generations long into the future are able to discover and enjoy it.

Apple, Facebook And Google Top Greenpeace’s Clean Energy Report, by Sarah Perez, TechCrunch

Apple has again earned the title of greenest tech company in the world for the third year in a row, according to a new report from environmental organization Greenpeace. In a new report, “Clicking Clean: Who is Winning the Race to Build a Green Internet,” Apple lead the pack with an “A” grade and a clean energy index score of 83 percent.

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I used to be have different autoexec.bat and config.sys files on my old MS-DOS machine, so that I could boot up the computer to run different programs. I remember one of the program was the very first version of Warcraft.

I don't think I've ever had different sets of extensions for booting up my old Mac machine. It must be because there wasn't any games on the Mac.



Thanks for reading.

The Photo-Realistic Edition Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The iPhone's First 10th Birthday, by Jason Snell, Six Colors

We also had about three official images, released by Apple, to use as the basis for our magazine coverage. As you can imagine, every single story about the iPhone used those images. [...]

So what we ended up doing was working with an illustrator named Joe Zeff, who made some amazing 3-D illustrations for many issues of Macworld. Joe created a photorealistic iPhone (and a set of white earbuds!) in 3D and we used it as the cover art for our first iPhone issue, with an Apple-supplied iPhone screenshot added in.

'Sweating Bullets' - The Inside Story Of The First iPhone, by Dave Lee, BBC

"I was sweating bullets."

Tony Fadell was pondering just how he was going to explain to Steve Jobs that he'd lost the prototype of what would become the most successful technology product of all time, the Apple iPhone which launched 10 years ago on Monday.

He'd just got off a plane, felt his pockets, and... nothing.

W1 Walking

Testing The Operating Range Of AirPods And Beats Solo3 Vs non-W1 Beats Headphones, by Steffen Reich, iDownload Blog

[A]s expected the W1-chip delivers a clearly superior performance over the older generation of headphones. Mind you this is not breaking news, but putting a number on the walkable range does give you a better feeling for what these devices can and cannot pull off, which might help you quite a bit come your next purchase decision.

Review: AirPods, by Steven Aquino

I realize learning language is hard, and teaching a robot to understand it is even harder. But if these assistants are supposed to be truly "intelligent," I shouldn’t have to adapt my speech pattern to the assistant; Siri, et al, should be nimble enough to adapt to me. If voice-driven computing is the way of the future, as many in the tech commentariat proclaim, then I surely hope engineers are investigating ways to make Siri and its ilk more accommodating. Voice brings with it new paradigms for accessibility, and, frankly, I worry that users like me will be left behind. If Siri or Alexa can't understand me and I’m frustrated, why bother? I'll do stuff manually.

Repairing MacBook Pros

Debunking Retail Rumors, Apple Says Its Stores Are Equipped To Repair New MacBook Pros, by Mike Wuerthele, AppleInsider

Reports claiming Apple Stores can't repair the 2016 MacBook Pro because of a lack of diagnostic tools are false, as AppleInsider has been told that stores are fully equipped and trained to perform all required diagnostics and repairs necessary.


Looking For More Than A Recipe? There’s An App For That., by Suzanne Boyle, Belleville News-Democrat

The cookbooks on my shelves just aren’t getting the attention they once did.

I wonder if they know. I feel kind of bad for them.

What’s happened is that a whole new world of recipes and food ideas has invaded my kitchen via one three-letter word: app.


Apple Plans To Perform 'High-tech Manufacturing' Of Data Center Gear In Arizona, by Kif Leswing, Business Insider

A notification published in the Federal Register on Monday said Apple was looking for approval from the Foreign-Trade Zones Board to produce "finished products" in a special zone that exempts it from customs duty payments.

"Apple Inc has repurposed the site as a global data command center that will conduct high-tech manufacturing of finished data center cabinets for other data centers," according to a document filed by Mesa on behalf of Apple in June and made public Monday.

It's OK, Guys. Yahoo Is Not Changing Its Name To Altaba, by Olivia Solon, The Guardian

Contrary to some news reports on Monday, only the part of Yahoo that is not being sold to Verizon will be renamed “Altaba”.

In addition, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is to step down from its board, but will continue to be CEO.

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I am fine by Apple's definition of all-day-battery-life as being 10 hours more or less. Whether the new MacBook Pro laptops achieve all-day-battery-life on a single charge is a separate question, but I do think the 10-hour figure is reasonable.

If I have to work more than 10 hours in a single day, I am okay that I will have to find a power source during the day, either from a power socket in the wall or a external battery.

Of course, it will be great if Apple can find ways to provide more than 10 hours of battery life, but I'd rather not have a heavier laptop just to get more hours.


Thanks for reading.

The Of-Course-It-Would-Be-Open Edition Monday, January 9, 2017

Apple Commemorates 10 Year iPhone Anniversary, Tim Cook Says ‘The Best Is Yet To Come’, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

CEO Tim Cook remarks in the press release that the more than ever, the iPhone is redefining how consumers live, work, communicate, and entertain. In typical Cook language, he also teased that “the best is yet to come” for iPhone.

Phil Schiller On iPhone’s Launch, How It Changed Apple, And Why It Will Keep Going For 50 Years, by Steven Levy, BackChannel

Schiller also cast light on why the iPhone shipped as a closed system. During the gestation period of the iPhone, Apple hosted a spirited internal debate. Some advocated that the device be an open system, like the Macintosh, and others advised a more closed system, like the iPod. The argument was put on hold when the engineers realized that even if the open-system adherents won the debate, it would be impossible to implement in time for the launch. Steve Jobs shut down the discussion, Schiller recalls. “He said ‘We don’t have to keep debating this because we can’t have [an open system] right now. Maybe we’ll change our mind afterwards, or maybe we won’t, but for now there isn’t one so let’s envision this world where we solve the problem with great built-in apps and a way for developers to make web apps.”


Indeed, says Schiller, the success of the iPhone—propelled by the few apps included on the first model, like Mail and Safari and YouTube—led to the open-or-closed issue becoming a non-debate. Inside Apple the answer was suddenly clear: of course it would be open. (And the security fears that Jobs cited to me on day one mysteriously vanished.) All those critics, including me, who kept urging Apple to make the iPhone open were irrelevant. Not long after launch, Apple began implementing a system that opened the iPhone to a wide range of creators who would make countless apps. Apps that would amplify the iPhone’s impact.

The Most Important iPhone Feature Steve Jobs Didn’t Predict 10 Years Ago Today, by Chris O'Brien, VentureBeat

“Three things: A widescreen iPod with touch controls. A revolutionary mobile phone. And a breakthrough internet communications device. An iPod… a phone… and an internet communicator… An iPod, a phone… are you getting it? These are not three separate devices. This is one device! And we are calling it iPhone.”

Yes, okay. But…what he didn’t emphasize at the time is the feature that has arguably become the iPhone’s most transformative: the camera.

Apple's iPhone Turns 10: Here's How The Device Impacted Business, Work, by Larry Dignan, ZDNet

What the iPhone ultimately did was reinvent how corporations looked at mobility. Suddenly, the promise of handheld data and employee engagement was possible beyond email and push notifications popularized by RIM at the time.

Something Positive, Something Not So

Mac: When Things Go Well, by Jean-Louis Gassée, Monday Note

Happily recuperating from three weeks in France, and with my own MacBook telling me it has more than 8 hours of battery charge left, I decided to write something positive about the Mac. [...]

From my limited perspective, today's Mac picture isn’t bad at all. With this rosy attitude, one wonders, again, about Apple’s recent loss of control over its own story. But that’s for another, more critical, Monday Note.

Apple’s AirPods Are Junk, And It’s All Siri’s Fault, by Owen Williams, Medium

I quickly realized that the free headphones in the box could do more, simply because they have a bunch of buttons on them. With AirPods, you’re stuck saying actions out loud over and over before giving up and ripping your phone out of your pocket.

And that’s the point Apple’s missed: AirPods are pretty amazing hardware, but because they’re so intimate and Siri is right inside your ear where you need it to work reliably constantly… it just becomes frustrating quickly. Apple’s offloaded the most basic of tasks to a voice assistant where it isn’t even capable of performing them reliably, and it shows.


Five Health And Fitness Apps To Kick Off Your 2017, by Gillian Shaw, Vancouver Sun

How to avoid the February fall-off?

A study by the American Psychological Association has found that monitoring your progress and sharing it with others means you’re more likely to succeed.

Here are five apps and fitness tools to help you reach your goals.

Get Traveling — And Moving — With The Outbound App, by Jen Leo, Los Angeles Times

Here’s a helpful app that combines travel with moving your body.

Airmail For iOS Gains Workflow And Bear App Integrations With 1.5 Update, by Tim Hardwick, MacRumors

New with version 1.5 is support for third-party automation tool Workflow, enabling users to incorporate email and inbox actions into their custom Workflow creations.


How Do Individual Contributors Get Stuck? A Primer, by Camille Fournier, Elided Branches

Everyone has at least one area that they tend to get stuck on. An activity that serves as an attractive sidetrack. A task they will do anything to avoid. With a bit of observation, you can start to see the places that your colleagues get stuck. This is a super power for many reasons, but at a baseline, it is great for when you need to write a review and want to provide useful constructive feedback.


Why Apple’s Critics Are Right This Time, by Christopher Mims, Wall Street Journal

Apple’s leaders must devote their attention to disrupting their own company. That doesn’t mean releasing bigger iPads, but exploring how Apple’s core products can be central to the always-on, voice-activated, artificially intelligent computing interfaces here now.

Like all giants at the apex of their power, it isn’t clear Apple is sufficiently paranoid about what might come next.

Santa Delivered The Drone. But Not The Safety And Skill To Fly Them., by Carol Pogash, New York Times

If this Christmas was the season of the drone, it was also a time of crashes, losses and tweeted laments. Social media is rich with commentary about fathers (major targets) crashing drones, girlfriends with tiny blades enmeshed in their hair (mothers removed them) and crying children whose favorite present went poof in the sky.

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I was raised to not waste food. It is rare that I will not finish what I have on my plate. My grandmother, if I recall correctly, threatened me that boys who left rice unfinished on their plates will grow up to marry wives with pimples all over their faces.

This morning, however, I did not finish the cup of coffee I bought. I'll probably also start to not finish all the rice or potato or sweet-and-sour-pork on my plates during meals. I just had a painful episode of gout on my right foot, and the doctor advised me to eat less.

So, there you go.

(I was not raised this way, but I grew into someone who can't really talk to strangers, or in large group of people.)


Thanks for reading.

The Photo-Shoot Edition Sunday, January 8, 2017

Apple Releases New Ad Featuring Portrait Mode, by John Voorhees, MacStories

Apple released a new ad in its ‘practically magic’ series featuring the iPhone 7 Plus and Portrait mode called ‘Take Mine.’ Set in Greece, the video starts with a young woman arriving to visit her grandmother. They sit in a cafe where the young woman takes a photo of her grandmother using Portrait mode, which simulates a shallow depth of field.

Apple’s New Ad Pretends People Have Never Seen A Camera Before, by Andrew Liptak, The Verge

But it also feels weirdly condescending: a young person returns home to amaze the locals with her “practically magic” device. It’s almost as though nobody there has seen a smartphone before.

Cracking The TV

Spending Time With Apple's TV App, by Karan Varindani, Thoughts And Stuff

It removes so much minor irritation and is leaps and bounds better to navigate than any other individual app out there, but it doesn’t have nearly enough support from networks and other content providers right now, and it’ll ultimately fail without them.

Peace of Mind

Meet Headspace, The App That Made Meditation A $250-Million Business, by Kathleen Chaykowski, Forbes

Increased happiness, compassion and better health and relationships are some of the core benefits of meditation, according to the founders and a growing body of research that supports their claim. Headspace ranked as the highest quality “mindfulness-based” iPhone app in a study in the peer-reviewed Journal of Medical Internet Research, in part because only a handful of other apps also offer training programs, such as Smiling Mind, iMindfulness and Mindfulness Daily. As the wellness market grows -- mental health costs are predicted to hit $6 trillion by 2030, greater than the cost of diabetes, respiratory disorders, cardiovascular disease or cancer, according to the World Economic Forum – these digitally savvy meditators-turned-entrepreneurs are betting that people and organizations will continue shelling out a monthly subscription fee (ranging from a two-year deal for $6.24 per month to as much as $12.95 per month) as a life staple.


Review: LG UltraFine 5K Display With Thunderbolt 3 For Apple's 2016 MacBook Pro, by Mike Wuerthele, AppleInsider

If you can look past style issues, the display is an amazing performer, and fabulous for photographers and videographers —especially those needing a 4K production workflow. With DCI-P3 Wide Color, images and video are crisp, connectivity is easy with Thunderbolt 3, and the display performs well in nearly all office conditions.

Samsung's Smartwatch Lineup Now Works With Your iPhone, by Jon Fingas, Engadget

Samsung has launched new Gear S and Gear Fit apps that bring iOS compatibility to all of its current wrist-worn devices, including the Gear S3 (both Classic and Frontier), the Gear S2 and the Gear Fit 2. You won't see all the integration you would on an Android phone (let alone a Samsung phone), but you can receive notifications, manage apps and track your S Health data.

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Ths past week, I've been listening to the podcast The Hilarious World of Depression... I laughed. I cried. I recommend.

"A show about clinical depression...with laughs? Well, yeah. Depression is an incredibly common and isolating disease experienced by millions, yet often stigmatized by society. The Hilarious World of Depression is a series of frank, moving, and, yes, funny conversations with top comedians who have dealt with this disease, hosted by veteran humorist and public radio host John Moe."

There are four episodes already, so you will need to start by doing some binge listening.


Thanks for reading.

The Hidden-Coins Edition Saturday, January 7, 2017

First Day Experience With Apple’s AirPods, by Nir Dremer, Medium

While cooking I walked around the house forgetting the phone in the Kitchen and the music continued flawlessly. Given their tiny size the supported distance was a delightful surprise.

People Keep Finding Coins In Their MacBooks And Nobody Knows Why, by Bryan Menegus, Gizmodo

Earlier this week, an Imgur user named Greatease uploaded some photos that explain the key difference between an Apple SuperDrive and a run-of-the-mill optical drive. Namely that his or her SuperDrive had a US penny wedged underneath the plastic cover.

As an isolated incident, finding money crammed into a rapidly-spinning computer part is of course strange. Did it fall in? Is it serving some crucial operational purpose? Thing is, Greatease is far from the only person to discover loose change in their optical drive.

Regulating The App Store

Russia Requires Apple And Google To Remove LinkedIn From Local App Stores, by Cecilia Kang, New York Times

Smartphone users in Russia can no longer download the LinkedIn app on iPhone or Android devices, following a similar move in China to block The New York Times app on iPhones.

The demand by Russian authorities to remove LinkedIn in Apple and Google app stores comes weeks after a court blocked the professional networking service for flouting local laws that require internet firms to store data on Russian citizens within the nation’s borders.

Apple Is Not The Only Tech Company Kowtowing To China’s Censors, by Melissa Chan, The Guardian

Apple’s problem today, is another foreign company’s conundrum tomorrow. Its dependance on China serves as a case study for how the story will repeatedly, dismally play out. All this stops only when the financial incentives to do business in China, and with China, disappear.

Christmas Bonuses

Tim Cook And Other Apple Execs Miss Out On Bonus Pay After Disappointing 2016, by Andrew Cunningham, Ars Technica

Apple raked in $215.6 billion in sales in 2016, but it wasn't enough to keep the company from reporting its first year-over-year sales decline since 2001. According to the company's definitive proxy statement filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, the company's sales declined from $233.7 billion in 2015, and its operating income likewise fell from $71.2 billion in 2015 to $60.0 billion in 2016. The decline in these two metrics was enough to significantly cut incentive-based pay for Tim Cook and a number of other high-level Apple executives.


Apple Highlights Wallpapers Created With Its Products To Celebrate The Chinese New Year, by John Voorhees, MacStories

In anticipation of the Chinese New Year, which begins January 28th, Apple commissioned wallpapers for the Mac, iPad, and iPhone from five artists. Apple describes the wallpapers, which are available on its websites in China, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan, as ‘new interpretations of traditional Chinese New Year Nianhua folk art.’

Portrait Mode For Everybody: Here Are 4 Apps That Mimic The iPhone 7 Plus' Exclusive Feature, by Paul K., PhoneArena

The app stores are full of apps that promise the perfect blur, bokeh, “aperture effects”, or however else they word it, but only a few of them are at least close to being good. We spent hours looking for the right ones and fished out 4 apps that are actually usable and do what is required of them. Yup, we couldn't even get to 5.

Time Review: Powered By AI And You, by Jake Underwood, MacStories

The point of Time, however, is not to help you manage your life; instead, it wants to help you start and finish tasks as quickly as possible. To do this, Time starts a running clock once you tap to begin a task. As the time ticks down, “liquid” leaves the container in the background, changing color from green, to yellow, to red as you get closer to the time limit. Don’t finish the task in time and you’ll see the timer go up and stay red, signaling that you’re working in the overtime period.


How Content Creators Are Exploited By Monoliths Apple, Google, Facebook, by Peter Bart, Deadline Hollywood

Swift’s rebellion may pay dividends long term by pointing up this broader question: Why is it that, while vastly more creative content is being consumed worldwide, less revenue is flowing to the people who create it?

Canada's Competition Watchdog Closes Two-year Apple Probe, by Alastair Sharp, Reuters

Toronto Canada's Competition Bureau on Friday said it had not found sufficient evidence that Apple Inc had engaged in anti-competitive conduct, closing a two-year investigation into the iPhone maker.

Sleep Tech Is Flooding The Market. Here's How It Works, by Megan Thielking, Stat

They’re showcasing snooze-inducing headphones and smart pillowcases, beds with built-in foot warmers, and belts that track every toss and turn. There are smart alarm clocks designed to make it as pleasant as possible to drag yourself out of bed on a Monday morning. There’s even an app that can record your snoring — and everything you say in your sleep.

All of this is supposed to make you sleep better.

But it’s not clear what you’re supposed to do with all the data these products generate.

The Missing-Excitement Edition Friday, January 6, 2017

Apple’s HomeKit Is Still Working On The Basics, by Jacob Kastrenakes, The Verge

Apple never shows up to CES, but the last couple years, it’s still managed to have a quiet presence through HomeKit. That’s true this year, too, but it’s been really quiet, failing to drum up anywhere near the excitement of something like Amazon’s Alexa. [...]

What HomeKit continues to miss is the kind of excitement that’s popped up around Amazon’s Alexa — a voice assistant, but also a tool for controlling and automating the home. There’s an argument to be made that Apple’s slow and steady approach, and eye toward security, is valuable. The smart home remains a niche market is still in very early stages when it comes to functionality.

Smashed Records

Record App Store Results Reported By Apple, by John Voorhees, MacStories

Apple announced today that the App Store smashed records in 2016 and on New Year's Day. App developers earned $20 billion in 2016, up 40% from 2015. In addition, on New Year's Day Apple set a single-day App Store record when customers spent $240 million on apps.

Apple's Not A Services Company Yet, by Shira Ovide, Bloomberg

But put another way, it's not so impressive. The App Store revenue growth rate didn't budge even in a year that featured the debut of one of the biggest app hits in history with Pokemon Go, new apps for the Apple Watch and Apple TV and what Apple said was a 90 percent jump in App Store revenue in China. And from fiscal 2013 to the most recent one, Apple's revenue from the App Store and its other internet services rose 52 percent -- nearly the same rate as its much larger iPhone business.

DOS On Mac

macOS Malware Freezes Your Computer By Opening Multiple Email Drafts, by Justin Luna, Neowin

A new malware designed for computers running macOS has recently been seen launching denial-of-service attacks on users by creating multiple email drafts, which ultimately causes the computer to slow down and become useless. [...]

The malware is distributed via usual spam emails which pretend to be from tech support. Malwarebytes Labs found that the emails come from two email addresses: and However, it is not exactly known if there are any other spam emails distributing the malicious software.

The Business of Making Money

No One Wants To Pay $9.99 For Your Remixes, by Adam Satariano, Bloomberg

“It is virtually impossible to run a streaming-music service as a profitable business,” says Mark Mulligan, a former dance club DJ who’s the founder of industry analyst Midia Research. “The model is still broken.”

Why Medium Failed To Disrupt The Media, by Leonid Bershidsky, Bloomberg

There is no way to disrupt this the way Uber is disrupting the taxi business: Writing to which people will subscribe is not a commodity. It's rare and expensive, and it's not about good software or buzzwords like "network effect." That will probably be the next revelation for Williams as he retraces the steps of "legacy" publishers.


YAZIO – Your All-in-One Personal Fitness Trainer, by Appolicious

With so many health and fitness apps available on the App Store, finding one which is tailored to your specific needs is difficult. For instance, the fragmentation of the various features means that users who wish to track calories must download an app for that while another app would be used to track fitness activities. Furthermore, other apps would have to be downloaded in order to suggest healthy meal plans. The list continues as more functions are desired by the user where each individual app is used for only one specific task. To combine all of the various tasks together in an integrated package, YAZIO Calorie Counter, Diet & Nutrition Tracker makes the entire health process from counting calories to losing weight easier.

Vine To Officially Shut Down And Transition To New ‘Vine Camera’ App On January 17, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

The company says that the Vine Camera app will allow you to make 6.5 second looping videos and post them directly to Twitter or save them to your camera roll. The app won’t support sharing to the Vine community as we know it, instead functioning essentially as an offline creation-oriented app.


Apple Chief Tim Cook Declines Invite To Oireachtas Committee, by Pat Leahy, The Irish Times

In a reply received by the committee this week, Apple executive Claire Thwaites has written on Mr Cook’s behalf to say that he had been advised not to appear.

“Given the sensitive nature of the investigation and the timing, we have been advised not to undertake any other direct activities, which could potentially prejudice future outcomes. It is on this basis that we are unable to appear before the Committee on this occasion,” Ms Thwaites wrote from Apple’s London office.

Senator Slams Apple For Removing NYT App From Chinese iPhones, by Josh Lipton, CNBC

Senator Tom Cotton, R-Arkansas, slammed the company in a statement today for being, in his words, "complicit in Communist censorship of an American newspaper." [...] Cotton's contention that Apple's defense "ring[s] hollow" refers to the company's decision to challenge a U.S. court order last year to assist the FBI in unlocking an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino terrorists.

Apple Confirms Plans For First South Korean Retail Store In Seoul, by Mikey Campbell, AppleInsider

Apple published a total of 15 retail job listings to its corporate website today seeking candidates for the Apple Store Leader Program, business managers, Genius Bar staff and marketing, among other positions.

As expected, the job postings seek employees for an outlet in South Korea's capital of Seoul. The city also happens to be the hometown of Apple ally and competitor, Samsung.

Apple History: Acorn, A Virtual Click-wheel-based OS Which Lost Out To iOS, Shown In Its 2006-era Glory, by Seth Weintraub, 9to5Mac

The OS, which was devised in the iPod’s heyday, was based on a virtual click-wheel that was put on the touch display. A set of menus is navigated with the touch much like one would using an iPod of the time. In the era of multi-touch the idea seems quaint but when everyone is using iPods, the UI makes a lot of sense as a small step rather than the giant leap to iPhone OS, what eventually became iOS.

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We now have iPhone case with batteries. And AirPods box with batteries. Maybe in 2017, we shall also see iPad covers with batteries, as well as laptop bags with batteries?


Thanks for reading.

The Chinese-Regulations Edition Thursday, January 5, 2017

Citing Non-specific Regulations, Apple Removes NYT Apps From Chinese App Store, by Andrew Cunningham, Ars Technica

Citing local Chinese regulations, Apple confirmed today to The New York Times that the publication's English- and Chinese-language apps had been removed from the Chinese version of the Apple app store. Apple said that "when the situation changes, the App Store will once again offer The New York Times app for download in China," but it declined to cite the specific regulations violated or who had contacted Apple about it in the first place. The apps were removed from the store on December 23.

Apple Removes New York Times Apps From iTunes Store In China, by Katie Benner, New York Times

In the weeks leading up to the withdrawal of the Times apps, The Times was working on various articles related to the Chinese government. One of them, posted online on Dec. 29, revealed the billions of dollars in hidden perks and subsidies that the Chinese government provides to the world’s biggest iPhone factory. China is also one of Apple’s largest iPhone markets, though sales in that region have slowed.

On Dec. 23, David Barboza, a Times reporter, spoke with members of Apple’s media team about the article. Mr. Barboza had previously been in touch with the iPhone factory owner, Foxconn. He had also contacted the Chinese government as part of his reporting.

Later that day, a separate team from Apple informed The Times that the apps would be removed, Ms. Murphy said.


Mario Isn’t The Only Classic To Leap To Mobile, by Kit Eaton, New York Times

All of this got me thinking about other games that had made the leap from consoles and personal computers to mobile devices.


Why You Shouldn’t Work At Full Capacity, by Mark Johanson, BBC

Have you ever felt like you couldn’t take time off work because nobody could do your job while you’re away? Do you drop all of your personal plans to work late nights and weekends, and feel guilty simply leaving the office on time?

If any of the above sounds familiar, then you may be one of the growing number of so-called “work martyrs” who are drastically changing company culture and leading to a rise in cases of stress and burnout.


Apple Confirms $1 Billion Investment In SoftBank Tech Fund, by Aishwarya Venugopal, Stephen Nellis, Reuters

"We believe their new fund will speed the development of technologies which may be strategically important to Apple," company spokesman Josh Rosenstock told Reuters.

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All software has bugs. You choose the software with the bugs you are willing to tolerate.


Thanks for reading.

The Merge-Duplicates Edition Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Bitter iCloud Truth, by Daniel Jalkut, Bitsplitting

A few days ago, I set about tidying up my completely unruly Contacts database. Over the years I have accumulated 2,953 distinct contact cards. Thousands are duplicates, hundreds were added automatically by Mail or macOS, some are for people whom I no longer know, and a very few are for folks I no longer want to know.

The first thing to do was obviously to take care of those duplicates. Contacts on the Mac features a couple seemingly handy menu items for dealing with this problem: “Look for Duplicates” and “Merge Selected Cards.” I cannot recommend using either of these features.

Go Mad

Apple Watch Nike+ Ads Starring Kevin Hart Debut, by John Voorhees, MacStories

The ads follow Hart as he leaves to try his new Apple Watch Nike+. The premise is that Hart disappears, but is found months later by a film crew as he runs through the desert 700 miles from home.

Buy An Apple Watch And You'll Go Mad, Says Nike, by Chris Matyszczyk, CNET

In any case, the day after getting his watch Hart disappeared. We find him in the desert. He's running. That's pretty much all he does, save for occasionally stopping and occasionally talking nonsense. He admits to hearing a voice in his head.


Apple Shares New 'Best Of 2016' Video, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

Apple today added a new video to its YouTube channel, highlighting some of the best apps, songs, movies, TV shows, books, and podcasts released during 2016.


Latest Cover Of The New Yorker Illustrated Using 12.9-inch iPad Pro And Apple Pencil, by Jordan Kahn, 9to5Mac

Here’s one great example of the 12.9-inch iPad Pro and Apple Pencil being put to good use by a pro: The latest cover of the The New Yorker, for the Jan. 9th issue out now, features a cover illustrated entirely using an iPad, Apple Pencil, and the popular Procreate app.

India Poised To Reject Apple’s Demand For Manufacturing Sops, by Shruti Srivastava, Bloomberg

India is not in favor of offering Apple Inc. concessions to start manufacturing iPhones in the country, a government official told reporters on Tuesday.

The government is also unlikely to ease norms governing local sourcing for the manufacturer of iPads and iPhones as such a step can’t be granted to just one company, according to the New Delhi-based official, who didn’t want to be identified citing rules on speaking to the media.

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If I get myself a pair of Airpods, I'm afraid I'll be constantly worry about losing them.


Thanks for reading.

The Rewritten-PDFKit Edition Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Sierra PDF Problems Get Worse In 10.12.2, by Adam C. Engst, TidBITS

"The primary problem with Sierra with respect to PDFs is that Apple chose to rewrite the PDFKit framework in macOS 10.12 and it broke a number of things that PDF-related developers relied upon." [...]

If editing a PDF in Preview in unavoidable, be sure to work only on a copy of the file and retain the original in case editing introduces corruption of any sort.

What Apple Gives You For $100 As A Safari Extension Developer — and Why Reddit Enhancement Suite May Cease Support For Safari, by honestbleeps, Medium

The reality is that if your only interest is developing browser extensions, you now have to pay $100 for something that you could previously do for free, with no real usable benefit or improvement to the system. In fact, it became materially worse.

AirPods Reset Fixes Charging Case Battery Issues For Some, But Issues Persist For Others, by Mitchel Broussard, MacRumors

The fact that a software reset works for some users has lead to hope that Apple may address the battery drainage issue in the form of a firmware update for the AirPods sometime in the future, but the company hasn't commented on the problem or mentioned whether or not AirPods will be updated through iOS at all.


Apple Announces Chinese New Year Event Featuring Free Beats Solo3 Headphones With Mac Or iPhone Purchase, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

Apple today announced an upcoming one-day sale in celebration of Chinese New Year, where the company will provide free Beats Solo3 Wireless On-Ear Headphones in red to all customers who purchase a select Mac or iPhone in various countries around the world.

Review: Bear App Makes Note-taking A Pleasure, by Jessica Holland, The National

Rather than using folders, like Notes, Bear organises users’ writing with hashtags, meaning each note can be sorted into multiple categories.

Review: Taking Your iPhone 7/7 Plus Photography Further With Aukey’s Wide-Angle Ora Lens, by Greg Barbosa, 9to5Mac

Overall, the Aukey Ora Lens isn’t perfect, but it’s hard to pass up as a starter lens for interested hobby photographers. It’s solid construction and low price point make it extremely attractive.

Review: Parallels Desktop 12 For Mac Shows Why A Virtual Machine Matters, by Daniel Rasmus, Geekwire

Parallels should be thought of as the virtual machine that makes running most operating systems possible within Apple’s Macintosh platform. For most developers, virtualizing target platforms might just be their dream environment.


Apple’s 2016 In Review, by Chuq Von Rspach

This is worrisome on a number of levels and I’ve been thinking about it a lot. I’m used to watching people kvetch about the company, but this seems — different. One reason: a lot of the criticisms are correct.

Apple, for the first time in over a decade, simply isn’t firing on all cylinders. Please don’t interpret that as “Apple is doomed” because it’s not, but there are things it’s doing a lot less well than it could — and has. Apple’s out of sync with itself.

Growing A Better Apple, by Vindu Goel, New York Times

Founded in 2014 by three former senior managers from Apple’s iPod and iPhone groups, Pearl has tried to replicate what its leaders view as the best parts of Apple’s culture, like its fanatical dedication to quality and beautiful design. But the founders also consciously rejected some of the less appealing aspects of life at Apple, like its legendary secrecy and top-down management style.

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On the one hand, my eyes are not getting younger, and a phone with a bigger screen definitely will be useful...

On the other hand, my pockets are not getting bigger.


Thanks for reading.

The Too-Much-Control Edition Monday, January 2, 2017

Google Helping Mobile Publishing? Some Publishers Are Not So Sure, by Daisuke Wakabayashi, New York Times

Mr. Viticci’s experience underscores the ambivalent relationship that some web publishers have developed with what was supposed to be Google’s great boon for mobile publishing. When Google introduced Accelerated Mobile Pages, or AMP, in October 2015, it said the new format would help publishers with one of their biggest headaches on smartphones: Browsing mobile websites was so frustratingly slow that many smartphone users abandoned pages before they opened.

AMP has since delivered on its promise of faster mobile web pages. Even so, publishers — of smaller sites, especially, or individual bloggers — are beginning to worry about giving too much control to Google in exchange for zippier web pages. What’s more, Google’s approach to AMP has rankled some critics already suspicious of the company’s outsize influence on the internet.

The Watch As A Tool

Apple Watch, New Year’s Resolutions, And Losing 50 Pounds, by Zac Hall, 9to5Mac

Apple Watch didn’t lose the weight for me — it took a lot of dedication and really changing my lifestyle — but the fitness tracking features and Apple’s Activity app helped quantify my effort without me doing too little or going overboard.

Apple Watch has absolutely been an effective motivational coach that has pushed me toward my goal of being more active. Below I’ll detail my experience and share some of what I’ve learned along my journey.

Bad UX: Apple Watch, by Marlon Wayne, Medium

Apple has essentially created a miniature, less efficient iPhone that lives on your wrist. The most efficient thing it can do is biometric tracking and notifications. I think if Apple were to go back to the drawing board, they’d recognize the benefit of those niche abilities. Imagine an Apple Watch that was more gesture and vibration based.


The Ridiculous Economics Of Real Racing 3, by Rob Griffiths

I have no problem paying for games. I have no problem paying $60 for $120 for an exceptional iOS game if its gameplay and features make it a console-worthy alternative. But in what universe is paying $3,664.61 to finish playing a game make any sort of sense at all?

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Can't wait for the iPod-shuffle of Apple-Watch.


Thanks for reading.

The Capturing-Festivities Edition Sunday, January 1, 2017

What New Year's Eve Celebrations Look Like Around The World, by Selena Larson, CNN

Apple has partnered with 16 photographers, based in countries such as Australia, Turkey and Mexico, to highlight the festivities with photos taken on iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus devices.

For example, travel writer and iPhone photographer Samah El Ali's stunning photos show off the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge fireworks from The Royal Botanic Gardens in Australia. The final photo will come from photojournalist John Lehmann shooting the party scene in Vancouver.

Hands-on: LG Apple-endorsed 5K Display – An UltraFine Choice For MacBook Pro Owners?, by Jeff Benjamin, 9to5Mac

You won’t find the same design polish that you’d find on an Apple-branded monitor, but LG’s offering is generally better than the typical third-party monitor. The one-cable connection, and integration with FaceTime make it a good solution for new MacBook Pro owners who want something that just works. But some of you will probably be disappointed that the display lacks more port options, and the lack of any on-device buttons for brightness control is a little annoying until Apple provides a better software solution in macOS.

French Workers Win Legal Right To Avoid Checking Work Email Out-of-hours, by AFP

On 1 January, an employment law will enter into force that obliges organisations with more than 50 workers to start negotiations to define the rights of employees to ignore their smartphones.

Overuse of digital devices has been blamed for everything from burnout to sleeplessness as well as relationship problems, with many employees uncertain of when they can switch off.

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I'm returning back to using the stock Apple's Podcast app, mainly because I am not going to rely on a third-party centralized server to retrieve the list of new podcast episodes.

There are really no good reason for a podcast client to rely on a centralized podcast feed server a la Google Reader. I only check for new podcast episodes once or twice a day, afterall.

Of course, getting back to Apple's Podcast app presented some difficulties in my episode-selection podcast-listening workflow until I remembered that rather have the software adapt to my flow I should just assume Apple's way is the One True Way of how things are done. :-)

(This is not the first time I've switched podcast clients. Let's hope there are more choices this year to suit everybody's taste.)


Thanks for reading.