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Archive for February 2017

The Give-Up-Wires Edition Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Battle Of The Buds: How Apple AirPods Stack Up Against Other Wireless Earbuds, by Valentina Palladino, Ars Technica

We're only just dipping our toes into the wireless future that Tim Cook described, but these buds show that the future is hopeful. There's no doubt that companies will be compelled to make better, more affordable wireless earbuds in the future because, when we're all forced to give up our wires, they'll become necessities rather than just a fancy optional accessory.

Beats X Review: Apple's Neckbuds For The Everyday, by Chris Welch, The Verge

They’re not positioned as any sort of breakthrough product like the AirPods. They’re just good, comfortable all-day neckbuds — so long as you find the sound quality acceptable.

When Apps Get Too Human, They Tumble Into The Uncanny Valley, by Clive Thompson, Wired

I recently returned from a vacation to find that Google’s algorithms had created a customized slide show of my trip. I hadn’t asked for one. But the company’s software robots apparently noticed I’d traveled somewhere and taken a flurry of photos, which likely indicated I’d been vacationing. Now, I actually enjoy some of Google’s simpler customization tools, like autocomplete. But this unbidden slide-show curation seemed too humanlike. The machine had anticipated desires I didn’t have yet. I actually yelped when I saw it.

Not Owning A Cellphone Gives You Time To Ruminate And To Rest, by Philip Reed, Aeon

The original meaning of ‘connect’ indicated a physical relationship – a binding or fastening together. We apply this word to our cellphone communications now only as metaphor. The ‘connections’ are ethereal; our words and thoughts reach the upper regions of space next to the cell tower only to remain there, as our devices disconnect us from those with whom we share space. Even though we have two hands, I’m convinced that you can’t hold a cellphone and someone else’s hand at the same time.

Stuff

Apple Shares Four New 'One Night On iPhone 7' Ads Shot In New York, Johannesburg, Shanghai And Tokyo, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

Each of the 15 second ads features a compilation of photos and videos captured on a single night in New York, Johannesburg, Shanghai, and Tokyo and set to music.

Overcast 3.0: iOS 10 Features, UI Changes, Easy Queuing, And An Interview With Marco Arment, by Federico Viticci, MacStories

With improvements to episode management, visual changes aimed at modernizing the interface, and an evolution of the existing subscription-based model, Overcast 3.0 is another thoughtful combination of new ideas and old tropes, which converge in a refreshed yet instinctively familiar listening experience.

WhatsApp Launches Status, An Encrypted Snapchat Stories Clone, by Josh Constine, TechCrunch

WhatsApp could put the brakes on Snapchat’s international growth with today’s launch of WhatsApp Status, a new tab for sharing decorated photos, videos, and GIFs that disappear after 24 hours. It’s another Facebook-owned Snapchat Stories copycat, but the twist is that it’s end-to-end encrypted like WhatsApp messaging.

Notes

Apple Claims Brussels Breached Its Fundamental Rights In Tax Case, by Rochelle Toplensky, Financial Times

Apple’s two main arguments challenge the fairness of the commission’s investigation and maintain that Brussels made fundamental errors in its interpretation of Irish law and of the way in which the tech giant generated its profits.

Specifically, the pleas claim the commission “violated the principles of legal certainty and non-retroactivity”, failed to conduct “a diligent and impartial investigation” and breached the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights.

What We Know About Apple's Secret Data Center: Project Isabel, by Kirsten Korosec, Fortune

Now, Apple appears ready to begin building again. But because the company applied for permits and then withdrew those permits the same day, it's unclear if the project's size and scope might change.

Singapore Is On An Ambitious Mission To Create A SimCity Version Of Itself, by Sam Lubell, Wired

Imagine if Google Maps were even more three dimensional and navigable, and imbedded not just with traffic data, but with your local energy agency’s consumption metrics, county’s census numbers, and loads of other information. The project layers reams of data atop a SimCity-like landscape, which city officials, urban planners, architects, and the like can use to monitor trends and connections between what are usually silo-ed departments.

Bottom of the Page

Somebody need to invent wireless earbuds that I can wear to sleep. I need some good bedtime stories myself.

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I haven't find a good fish-and-chip dish here in Singapore. Which is to say, I greatly regretted my choice of food earlier during lunch.

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Thanks for reading.

The Two-Way-Conduit Edition Monday, February 20, 2017

Free Charging Stations Can Hack Your Phone, Here's How To Protect Yourself, by Conner Forrest, TechRepublic

Drew Paik, the head of marketing for Authentic8, explained that the threat has to do with USB cables, USB power adapters, and USB ports: Not wall power outlets.

"I'm not aware of anything that's going to be able to infect you via an AC outlet, but random cables or random adapters can definitely be used to take over or exploit your phone, your mobile devices, or your laptops, or anything else you might plug into it," Paik said. "It's really just a two-way conduit at some point—power and data."

Plex's Bold Plan To Take On The Streaming Goliaths, by Jared Newman, Fast Company

For digital media hoarders and pirates, Plex is a household name. The nine-year-old Los Gatos, California, startup makes server software for streaming media files from one device—usually a PC—to phones, tablets, computers, game consoles, and TVs. Millions of people use Plex to access their digitized DVDs, video downloads, MP3 files, and photos from anywhere. And the company's fanatical fan base has made it a profitable business through a subscription program for premium features.

But in the age of Netflix, Hulu, and Spotify, Plex's business isn't future-proof. DVD sales and media downloads are on the decline, and even piracy has been weakened by legal streaming options. So in late January, Plex made a big bet on its future.

Stuff

Apple HomeKit: What Is It, And How Do You Use It?, by Althea Chang, Tom's Guide

As Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home have shown, the ability to control your home with simple commands is no longer the stuff of sci-fi or limited to programmers with extensive knowledge of home automation. And you don’t need a smart speaker as a gateway, either.

Apple's HomeKit is simple enough for novices who just want to say, "Siri, I'm home," into their iPhone, before walking through their automatically unlocked door and entering a relaxing scene with just the right lighting, temperature and electronics running.

Use Workflow 1.7 For iPhone To Quickly Save Notes And Images, by Mike Wuerthele, AppleInsider

The newly added feature is called Magic Variables and rather than just say that it's very nice, let's see it in action —we're going to create a Workflow from scratch.

When we're done, we'll be able to pick up our iPhones, jot down what's on our mind and then get Workflow to save it wherever and however we want while we get on with our busy lives.

PDFPen Gives You Superlative PDF Editing On Your Mac, by Aaron Lee, Apple World Today

It's designed for anyone who needs more powerful editing capabilities than those offered by Mac OS X's Preview, but not the full range of printing, collaboration and security tools offered by Adobe Acrobat.

1Password & Other Mac Apps Failing To Launch Due To Expired Apple Developer Certificates, by Ben Lovejoy, 9to5Mac

Resolving the issue requires developers to renew their certificates and update the app. Users then need to download the updated version.

Develop

Big Three Clouds, Apple, Facebook Are Buying All The Best Cloud Tech, by Simon Sharwood, The Register

Those of you contemplating a cloud startup have two options: get acquired by one of five companies or build an automatic sueball flinger.

So says Sam Altman, president of startup factory Y Combinator, in his annual letter describing the organisation's activities.

Notes

Apple Shifts Global Marketing Strategy, Restructures Its Relationship With TBWA\Media Arts Lab, by Patrick Coffee, AdWeek

The tech giant has restructured its relationship with its ad agency, TBWA\Media Arts Lab, to focus more on creating digital and regional campaigns—and less on translating, or “localizing,” big brand campaigns for global markets. [...]

Apple’s efforts to cut its marketing spend have led to staff reductions at TBWA\Media Arts Lab’s Los Angeles headquarters and other offices around the world. The number of layoffs is unclear at this time.

Are The Major Labels In Danger Of Turning Music Streaming Into A Monopoly Owned By Apple?, by Paul Wiltshire, Music Business Worldwide

The BIG 3 are at a crossroads. If they continue to think short-term, they may face a future in which Apple will be the only streaming platform.

If they want to ensure a robust market for music rights, they need to think beyond the short-term gains that could ultimately lead to the demise of Spotify and other independent streaming platforms.

Bottom of the Page

Today at work, I have to re-learn something that I thought i already know: Whenever something goes wrong, I should first assume it's my fault, until I have proven it is not.

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Thanks for reading.

The Sould-Like-Future Edition Sunday, February 19, 2017

Apple AirPods Review - Not Perfection But These Smart Headphones Sound Like The Future, by David Snelling, Sunday Express

Their seamless connection, good sound quality, long battery life and clever charging case all make these in-ear headphones an absolute joy to use.

Like most new technology there’s a few issues including a lack of physical controls, high price and the odd time where your music cuts out.

The AirPods might not be note perfect but they certainly sound like the future.

Free App 'Reverb' Brings Amazon's Alexa To Mac Desktops, iPhones And iPads, by Tim Hardwick, MacRumors

Launching the free Mac app prompts users to sign in to their Amazon account, after which a window opens showing the familiar blue Alexa ring on the desktop. Click and hold on the ring with the mouse cursor, and provided an internet connection is active, the virtual assistant listens and responds to the sort of spoken questions and commands usually directed at Amazon's Echo range of smart speakers.

Develop

A Startup Founder Explained How VCs Came Knocking After He Did A Deal With Apple, by Sam Shead, Business Insider

Parkopedia, a London tech firm that helps people find parking spaces, immediately caught the eye of several investors last year after it signed a potentially-lucrative deal with Apple.

Eugene Tsyrklevich, the CEO and founder and 10-year-old Parkopedia, told Business Insider during an interview at his company's office near London Bridge that several larger firms have also tried to buy Parkopedia.

"The more successful you become, the less money you need, and the more opportunities you have," he said.

No CEO: The Swedish Company Where Nobody Is In Charge, by Katie Hope, BBC

The staff decided that many of the chief executive's responsibilities overlapped with those of the board, while other roles could be shared among other employees.

"When we looked at it we had nothing left in the CEO column, and we said, 'all right, why don't we try it out?'" says Ms Sundman.

Notes

Apple Buys Israel’s Facial Recognition Firm RealFace – Report, by Shoshanna Solomon, Times Of Israel

Apple Inc. has acquired Israel’s Realface, a cybertechnology startup whose facial recognition technology can be used to authenticate users. This is Apple’s fourth acquisition in Israel, the financial website Calcalist reported Sunday, and the deal is estimated to be worth a couple of million of dollars.

Why Every US Carrier Suddenly Changed Their Unlimited Plan This Week, by Chaim Gartenberg, The Verge

The simple answer is competition. T-Mobile, for all its underdog nipping at Verizon’s heels, is slowly catching up to Verizon — while it still doesn’t have nearly the customer base, T-Mobile is at the very least putting up a fight with Verizon when it comes to coverage, speed, and reliability.

The Bad-Actors Edition Saturday, February 18, 2017

Apple Launches New ‘We Hear You’ iPad Pro Ad Campaign, by John Voorhees, MacStories

Apple released four 15-second commercials each promoting different features of the iPad Pro. All four open with an actor holding up a large image of a tweet. ‘Better Than a Computer’ opens with the snarky tweet: ‘An iPad Pro is not even close to being a computer.’ The narrator agrees explaining that it’s not a computer because it’s faster, has LTE, and a touchscreen you can write on, concluding that the tweeter is ‘kinda right.’

Apple Tells Lawmaker That Right To Repair iPhones Will Turn Nebraska Into A ‘Mecca’ For Hackers, by Jason Koebler, Motherboard

"Apple said we would be the only state that would pass this, and that we would become the mecca for bad actors," Brasch, who is sponsoring the bill, told me in a phone call. "They said that doing this would make it very easy for hackers to relocate to Nebraska."

A Gourmet Guide To Wifi, by Steven Levy, Backchannel

Actually, the future of wifi had been creeping up on me for years, like a distant “save this date” event that elicits a groan when it finally pops up on the calendar. In fact, earlier last year I had begun experimenting with an early example of The New Wifi gadgets — they come in packs, like wolves or mean girls — called Eero. It’s named after a designer, which is the official international signal that you’re going to overpay for something. (Eero Saarinen was the dude who designed those chairs that are the furniture equivalent of Modigliani models; he was also behind the recently bulldozed TWA Terminal at JFK. By the way, if a product is named after a designer with two double vowels in his name, it’s going to cost even more.)

Eero turned out to be one of a number of new wifi companies, with names like Luma and Orbi — not all dubbed after designers, but dreamy enough to command a premium. These are “mesh” networks, based on the idea that a swarm of routers that talk to each other and pass on data, bucket-brigade style, can eliminate the dead spots in your home. Unlike Good Old-Fashioned Wifi (GOFWF), where you plug your router into the cable or DSL modem where internet is piped into the home and then have no idea what happens thereafter, these are set up and monitored by apps.

Stuff

The State Of iBooks In Early 2017, by Michael E. Cohen, TidBITS

Just under a year ago, Apple released new Mac and iOS versions of iBooks that could store your iBooks library on iCloud Drive. At the time, I noticed numerous and distressing problems with the new iCloud-enabled iBooks apps. Now, after more than ten months and with several intervening updates to iOS (from 9.3.1 to 10.2.1), macOS (from 10.11.4 to 10.12.3), and the iBooks apps (from 1.5 to 1.8 on the Mac and from 4.7 to 4.10 in iOS), the time has come to take a look at the problems I reported to see which Apple has resolved and which remain.

Hands-on With D-Link Omna 180 Cam HD, The First HomeKit Video Security Camera, by Zac Hall, 9to5Mac

Having used non-HomeKit security cameras before, the real benefit seems to be accessing the video stream from the same app that you control other HomeKit accessories. You can also automate actions like turning on lights when motion is detected, but for me sensor automations will need to be more granular before those automations are practical.

Develop

Swift Changes Considered Harmful, by Craig Hockenberry, Furbo.org

With the recent announcement for Swift 4, it feels like folks are still searching for perfect, when what many of us want is just a great and stable language.

Notes

Here's The 'Stealth' Case Apple Uses To Conceal iPhone Prototypes During Transport, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

Foremost, Dickson said an iPhone prototype travels across the world in a "stealth" case designed to prevent onlookers from seeing how it looks. The case conceals most of the iPhone, while it has yellow "security" tape along the sides that would show any tampering by somebody trying to get it open.

The prototype is accompanied by a "passport" at all times for quality assurance/control testing, according to Dickson.

The Long-And-Great-Relationship Edition Friday, February 17, 2017

Apple Is Bringing Its Annual Developers Conference Back To San Jose, by Patrick May, San Jose Mercury News

Saying the move promises to be “the start of a long and great relationship’’ between the Cupertino-based tech giant and the city that prides itself as “The Capital of Silicon Valley,’’ Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller told this newspaper in an interview that the time was right for a change of scene. And holding the event in closer proximity to both Apple’s current headquarters as well as its new nearby campus, which is expected to open later this year, was a key part of that decision.

“We were looking at this move from two angles,’’ Schiller said. “First, San Jose is closer to our new campus, and the fact that we’ll have over 1,000 Apple engineers taking part and working at the conference means we’d like to have it as close to Apple as possible. That would bring us the highest level of interaction with as many developers as we can.

“Secondly, we thought about the developers’ experience; and while both San Francisco and San Jose are amazing cities, we thought that for not just the conference, but for all the other activities that take place around it, this was a perfect time to be back where it all began.’’

When Backups Go Bad: The Problem With Using Network Drives With Time Machine, by Kirk McElhearn, Macworld

When you use a network drive for your Time Machine backups, you can have problems. (I’ve heard of this occurring on an external, connected drive, but only rarely.) You may see an ominous dialog saying “Time Machine completed a verification of your backups on diskname. To improve reliability, Time Machine must create a new backup for you.” When this happens, you lose all your existing backups. You may have years of backups on your drive, and they’ll all disappear.

This Must Be The Year Of Mobile Security, by John Biggs, TechCrunch

Forget law enforcement trying to crack iPhone passwords of hardened criminals. I suspect we’ll enter an era when law enforcement is encouraged to read our Tweets and private Facebook messages. Our secure devices will become open books at borders and, someday soon, a major political figure will find his or her phone opened up and dumped to Wikileaks. It’s inevitable.

In short, the current passcode/biometric methods are strong but why can’t we use advanced factors for that extra edge of security? Not all of us want this level of lockdown, mind you, but I would argue that all of us need it. In the end the glowing glass slabs in our pockets are the closest we have to a visual and informational representation of our personalities, our deepest secrets, and our identities. We wouldn’t shout our credit card number in a crowded room. Why would we carry our phones across a border?

How Video Games Can Be A Window Onto The Queer Experience, by Matt Baume, Slate

Spoiler warning: This article reveals surprise elements of the games A Normal Lost Phone, Dragon Age: Inquisition, and Gone Home.

At first, the game A Normal Lost Phone looks like a series of simple puzzles: The player is presented with a lost phone and must snoop through it to learn about its owner. But there's something more happening under the surface.

Just How Good Is The iPhone 7 Plus' Portrait Mode? Good Enough For 'Billboard' Magazine's Cover., by Raymond Wong, Mashable

Ask any serious photographer what's the best advice they would give to another shooter and they'll probably say: Don't focus so much on the gear and instead focus on making great photos.

That's exactly what Mobley did while shooting Cabello at a residence in Southern California.

Apple Airs Two New Ads Showcasing Portrait Mode On iPhone 7 Plus, by Roger Fingas, AppleInsider

Continuing an aggressive campaign, Apple on Thursday released two new iPhone 7 Plus ads through its YouTube channel, once again concentrating on the phone's unique Portrait mode.

Stuff

Fixing (And Explaining) PDFpen 8.3.1’s Crash On Launch, by Adam C. Engst, TidBITS

What’s new with PDFpen 8 is that, in addition to being code signed, it has a provisioning profile, which is essentially a permission slip from Apple that’s checked against an online database in order to allow the app to perform certain actions, called entitlements. For PDFpen, the entitlement that’s being granted is the capability to access iCloud despite being sold directly, rather than through the Mac App Store, a feature that wasn’t possible until about a year ago.

Since PDFpen’s provisioning profile is also signed using Smile’s code signing certificate, the expiration of the certificate rendered the provisioning profile invalid. An app called taskgated-helper determines this even before PDFpen’s code runs, so there’s no way for Smile to detect the error condition and present an error to the user. Since the developer’s code never runs, macOS should recognize what’s going on and display an error message that encourages users to contact the developer.

Microsoft Brings Animated GIF Support And Account Switching To OneDrive App, by Tim Hardwick, MacRumors

Version 8.8.9 also brings fast account switching to the cloud client app. According to Microsoft, users now only need to tap and hold on the Me tab to instantly switch between accounts, whether free or premium.

New App Lets Birdwatchers Record And Identify Bird Songs, by Sarah D. Young, Consumer Affairs

Song Sleuth, a new app for iPhone users, aims to embellish a birdwatcher’s ornithological knowledge by offering up information on nearly 200 North American birds.

How To Define And Translate Words On iPhone And iPad – No App Needed, by Aldrin Calimlim, AppAdvice

Fortunately, in this age of information accessibility, it’s also easy to be enlightened about the meaning of words. And if you have an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, you don’t even have to download an app to be able to define and translate words. You just have to know how to access the all but hidden dictionary feature on your iOS device.

Notes

Tech Giant Apple To Kickstart Indian Dream With The iPhone SE, by Ruchika Chitravanshi & Gulveen Aulakh, The Economic Times

Apple will kick off its India manufacturing plans by initially assembling 3-4 lakh units of its iPhone SE model at the Karnataka plant being set up by contract manufacturer Wistron, as the maker of the iconic iPhones looks to take a deeper bite of a key market amid slowing global smartphone growth.

The Cupertino-based tech giant is likely to go ahead with the Bengaluru assembly plan without waiting for the government’s nod for the list of tax concessions that it had sought along with other demands. The company wants to “experience manufacturing in India”, a person familiar with the company’s plans told ET.

FCC Chairman Encourages Activation Of The FM Radio Chip Built Into Your iPhone, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

The activation of FM receivers in iPhones would have several benefits, including battery life savings, less data usage, and most importantly, the ability to receive emergency alerts over radio without service.

"You could make a case for activating chips on public safety grounds alone," added Pai. "The former head of our Federal Emergency Management Administration has spoken out in support of this proposal. The FCC has an expert advisory panel on public safety issues that has also advocated enabling FM radio chips on smartphones."

Bottom of the Page

After many years, iPod did gain the FM radio feature in the nano line. But, to listen to FM radio, one has to plug in the white headphone so that the cable acts as an antenna.

Of course, Apple has just gotten rid of the headphone jack. Can the cable of the EarPods with Lightning Connector act as an antenna?

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Thanks for reading.

The Still-Hazy Edition Thursday, February 16, 2017

Apple Vs. FBI One Year Later: Still Stuck In Limbo, by Shara Tibken, CNET

Because the battle never went to court, we never got an answer on whether security or privacy takes priority. A year later, the only thing that's clear from the public battle is just how hazy everything still is. And the conflict isn't going away anytime soon, especially if there's another terrorist attack.

"This past year was kind of a missed opportunity to work this thing out," said William Snyder, visiting assistant professor of law at the Syracuse University College of Law. "It hasn't gone away. The question is whether you deal with it now when things are calm or later when the stakes are high."

Is There A Replacement For Email?, by Jack Schofield, The Guardian

Email’s unbeatable advantage is that either everyone has an email address, or can easily get one. There are hundreds of different ways to communicate, including Facebook Messenger, Skype, WhatsApp, Snapchat, Slack and so on, but not even Facebook (1.86 billion monthly active users) has the same reach. Email has an estimated 2.7 billion users with 4.6bn accounts.

A Computer To Rival The Brain, by Kelly Clancy, New Yorker

Early in the history of artificial intelligence, researchers came up against what is referred to as Moravec’s paradox: tasks that seem laborious to us (arithmetic, for example) are easy for a computer, whereas those that seem easy to us (like picking out a friend’s voice in a noisy bar) have been the hardest for A.I. to master. It is not profoundly challenging to design a computer that can beat a human at a rule-based game like chess; a logical machine does logic well. But engineers have yet to build a robot that can hopscotch. The Austrian roboticist Hans Moravec theorized that this might have something to do with evolution. Since higher reasoning has only recently evolved—perhaps within the last hundred thousand years—it hasn’t had time to become optimized in humans the way that locomotion or vision has. The things we do best are largely unconscious, coded in circuits so ancient that their calculations don’t percolate up to our experience. But because logic was the first form of biological reasoning that we could perceive, our thinking machines were, by necessity, logic-based.

Stuff

Apple's BeatsX Are A Great Option If You Don't Want AirPods, by Lisa Eadicicco, Time

People who want zero cables and a case that charges their buds on the go might be happier with the AirPods. But the BeatsX offer easier volume control and seem to maintain a better connection, whereas I've had the AirPods lose connection to one side before.

The Privacy Enthusiast's Guide To Using An iPhone, by Thorin Klosowski, Lifehacker

First things first: this is an Apple device and it’s a smartphone, so you’ll never hide yourself completely, but you can do a few things to shore up holes to make sure you’re not making it easy for someone to collect your private information. We don’t want to give you a false sense of impenetrable privacy here, but the below tips and various apps will at least lock down information as much as possible without disrupting your daily activities.

Review: Putting A Professional Camera Lens On Your iPhone With The ExoLens PRO With Optics By ZEISS, by Gerg Barbosa, 9to5Mac

Moving up from cheap alternatives to this feels like night and day. The price can be prohibitively expensive for occasional photographers, but just right for those who want a trusted name in lens optics.

TwIM Is A New App For Communicating Via Twitter Direct Message, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

TwIM, released today, is a new app that turns Twitter's Direct Messages function into a dedicated chat app, ignoring all other Twitter features for a clean, simple DM chat experience.

Hidden Folks Is A Serene, Gratifying Where's Waldo? For Adults, by Andrew Webster, The Verge

Hidden Folks — which launches today on iOS, Steam, and Apple TV — is best described as an interactive Where’s Waldo? but for grown-ups. The premise is the same as those classic children’s books: you’re presented with a complex scene, and the goal is to find specific people or objects within it. And like Where’s Waldo? it can be incredibly challenging. Trying to pick out a particular person in a sea of lookalikes often takes time and careful concentration.

Develop

That API Thing, by Erica Sadun

Today, Nikita Voloboev was trying to wrap his head around how this whole Cocoa/Cocoa Touch API thing worked. The conversation started when he asked, “Is UIKit part of Cocoa?” The docs weren’t really giving him an idea of how it all worked.

Notes

Investment Bankers Urge Apple To Spend Money Hiring Investment Bankers, News At 11, by John Gruber, Daring Fireball

I cannot believe that Bloomberg published this story by Alex Webb and Alex Sherman, “Apple Struggles to Make Big Deals, Hampering Strategy Shifts”. The entire story consists of quotes from investment bankers arguing that Apple should hire investment bankers to make more large acquisitions. Really, that’s it. [...]

The only proof offered that Apple has struggled in any way to make any acquisitions is that they haven’t made more acquisitions. There’s no mention of any companies that Apple pursued but failed to acquire. Not one.

Apple Vowed To Revolutionize Television. An Inside Look At Why It Hasn’t, by Mark Gurman, Bloomberg

To a certain extent, the Apple TV is handcuffed by its parent's addiction to fat margins. Apple is constitutionally allergic to losing money on a product—even if it can make up the difference by selling content. Some engineers initially believed the current set-top box should be capable of streaming 4K video, which offers about twice the resolution as the previous generation of high-definition TV. But 4K requires a faster processor, which would have pushed up manufacturing costs. That would have forced Apple to accept a lower margin or charge more than the market would bear. Apple settled for a lesser chip that debuted back in 2014—and no 4K. Likewise, not bundling a gaming controller was partially a cost-driven decision.

Apple Shareholders Are Demanding More Diversity, But The Company Is Fighting Back, by Jacob Kastrenakes, The Verge

But a small group of Apple investors believe the company isn't making progress fast enough, and they're trying to force the company to pick up the pace. "Some of the excuses given by Apple and others — there's not sufficient people in the pipeline, this and that," says investor Tony Maldonado. "Excuse my language, it's bullshit."

Maldonado is leading an effort to mandate that Apple accelerate its work toward becoming a more diverse company. For the second year in a row, he's submitted a shareholder proposal asking that Apple "adopt an accelerated recruitment policy ... to increase the diversity of senior management and its board of directors."

The Hey-'Puter Edition Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Review: BeatsX Takes Apple's W1 Chip Downmarket, by Mikey Campbell, AppleInsider

BeatsX is more refined than most recent Beats products — bass is obviously a big part of the sound signature, but the low tones now serve as a plinth for relatively crisp and clean treble notes. The overall profile is dynamic — and colored — in nature, much more so than Apple's own AirPods.

Apple's Siri Promotes The LEGO Batman Movie When You Say 'Hey Computer', by Juli Clover, MacRumors

The LEGO Batman Movie, released last Friday, features the voice of Apple's personal assistant Siri as Batman's personal computer. Batman's computer works in much the same way as Siri, responding to his voice requests whenever he says "Hey 'puter."

As it turns out, there's a secret tie-in hidden in the iPhone, too. Whenever you say "Hey 'puter" (or "Hey Computer") to Siri, she responds to you as if you're LEGO Batman.

Security Matters

Apple: Don't Panic, But Your Mac Can Be Pwned Via GarageBand .Bands, by Shaun Nichols, The Register

Apple says a newly patched hole in its GarageBand music tool could allow for remote code execution on the Mac.

The GarageBand 10.1.6 update is being pushed out to all Macs running OS X Yosemite and later. Because GarageBand is installed by default on OS X systems, all Mac owners should install the patch, but those who regularly use the music composing software should pay particular attention.

New Mac Malware Pinned On Same Russian Group Blamed For Election Hacks, by Dan Goodin, Ars Technica

APT28, the Russian hacking group tied to last year's interference in the 2016 presidential election, has long been known for its advanced arsenal of tools for penetrating Windows, iOS, Android, and Linux devices. Now, researchers have uncovered an equally sophisticated malware package the group used to compromise Macs.

Stuff

Encryption App Signal Adds Video Calls—And A New Privacy Tradeoff, by Andy Greenberg, Wired

A Signal update gradually rolling out now upgrades the calling features and adds video, too—but might require its most privacy-sensitive users to take an extra step to protect themselves.

Rogue Amoeba Adds SoundSource To The Mix, by Jason Snell, Six Colors

The Mac is pretty weak when it comes to audio configuration—SoundSource’s tag line is “The sound control that should be built into MacOS”—but Rogue Amoeba has done a remarkable job of filling the gaps.

LookUp Review: The Modern Dictionary, by Jake Underwood, MacStories

As a whole, LookUp provides the right amount of information without overloading you with unwanted text. With the hierarchy of word, photo, meaning, etymology, Wikipedia, the important stuff comes first, then draws you down if you become more interested.

Picky: Music Rediscovery Through Powerful Filtering, by John Voorhees, MacStories

Picky lets you filter and sort music in more ways than you can probably imagine. Add to that the ability quickly queue up songs from anywhere in the app, and the result is a powerful music utility that is perfect for getting reacquainted with your favorite tunes.

Develop

Instapaper Outage Cause & Recovery, by Brian Donohue, Medium

The critical system that failed was our MySQL database, which we run as a hosted solution on Amazon’s Relational Database Service (RDS). Here we’ll cover what went wrong, how we resolved the issue and what we’re doing to improve reliability moving forward.

Notes

Apple Explains Why Its R&D Spending Is On The Rise, y Anita Balakrishnan, CNBC

Apple's steady increase in research and development spending has stoked speculation that it working on cars, goggles and more.

But company's financial guru attributes the spending to something of a much smaller scale: chips. It may not sound like it, but that research is "very strategic and important" for Apple to differentiate itself from the rest of the industry, chief financial officer Luca Maestri said on Tuesday at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference in San Francisco.

The Iconfactory Launches ‘Project Phoenix’ Kickstarter: A Twitterrific For Mac Reboot, by John Voorhees, MacStories

Today, The Iconfactory unveiled a Kickstarter campaign to reboot Twitterrific for the Mac. The campaign, which seeks to raise a minimum of $75,000 or more with stretch goals, aims to rebuild Twitterrific from the ground up for macOS.

Source: Apple Will Fight 'Right To Repair' Legislation, by Jason Koebler, Motherboard

Apple is planning to fight proposed electronics "Right to Repair" legislation being considered by the Nebraska state legislature, according to a source within the legislature who is familiar with the bill's path through the statehouse.

The legislation would require Apple and other electronics manufacturers to sell repair parts to consumers and independent repair shops, and would require manufacturers to make diagnostic and service manuals available to the public.

A Battle Rages For The Future Of The Web, by J.M. Porup, Ars Technica

The W3C, led by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, looks set to standardise DRM-enabling Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) in browsers, a move that betrays the founding principles of the open Web.

How Ben Thompson Built Stratechery Into A One-man Publishing Empire, by Dan Frommer, Recode

“If you can get a niche and own it, you can do something valuable there,” Thompson said. “And the key thing is, the business models come with it. It had to be subscription. To do an ad-based sort of business, you’re just getting backed up behind Facebook and the New York Times like everyone else, and there’s no way to break through.”

Bottom of the Page

Will Apple ever make another version of the iPod Hi-Fi, now that it has the W1 chip and Siri?

~

Thanks for reading.

The Room-For-Exponential Edition Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Apple Has A New TV Show, So Will It Finally Buy A Big Media Company? No, Says Eddy Cue., by Edmund Lee, Recode

So now that Apple is producing original content, Recode senior editor Peter Kafka asked Eddy Cue, Apple’s head of content, a key question at the Code Media conference at the Ritz-Carlton in Dana Point, Calif.: Will Apple finally just go ahead and buy a big film studio or media company like Sony Pictures or Time Warner or Netflix or Lionsgate?

Short answer: No.

Eddy Cue Says Planet Of The Apps Will Premiere This Spring & Be Ad-free, Watch The First Clip Now, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

While we still don’t have a solid release date, Cue said that the show will premiere in the Spring and be available exclusively on Apple Music and in a Planet of the Apps application that will be released. Episodes will be released one at a time. Cue and Silverman also noted of a “rubber band” idea that will allow users to dive deeper into specific parts of the show, then bounce back to the main story line. The show will also be ad-free.

Apple Music Now ‘Well Past’ 20 Million Subscribers, Eddy Cue Says, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Eddy Cue also explained that while Apple Music is growing, Apple is not satisfied with where the service is at right now and sees room for “exponential.” Cue noted that around 100 million people are currently subscribing to streaming music right now, but that the number of people listening to music is much greater than that.

Furthermore, Cue was asked about Apple’s effort at securing exclusive rights to music. The Apple executive explained that exclusive streaming rights are more of a promotional strategy rather than a long-term move by artists. Cue went as far as to say that exclusives would “are never good for the long-term basis” of the music industry.

Powering Mac

Why The New MacBook Pro's Battery Life Is Great For Some, Not So For Others, by Stan Schroeder, Mashable

Apple managed to significantly decrease the power draw of the new MacBook Pro under low power usage conditions — basically when the computer is idle. So if you're just reading an article on a website, with nothing going on in the background, you can expect the battery to last up to 18 hours, according to Slaney's calculations. [...]

Under heavy load, however, the power draw is similar to the earlier generation, but the new MacBook Pro has a 25% smaller battery, so when you push it hard, you won't get great results.

Privacy Matters

Now Sites Can Fingerprint You Online Even When You Use Multiple Browsers, by Dan Goodin, Ars Technica

The new technique relies on code that instructs browsers to perform a variety of tasks. Those tasks, in turn, draw on operating-system and hardware resources—including graphics cards, multiple CPU cores, audio cards, and installed fonts—that are slightly different for each computer.

Stuff

Apple Promoting Portrait Mode Depth Effect In Latest iPhone 7 Plus Video Ads, by Zac Hall, 9to5Mac

Apple has published new iPhone 7 Plus video ads that highlight Portrait Mode with the flagship model’s Camera app.

W1 Bluetooth Wireless Headphones Compared: Apple AirPods, Beats Solo3, Powerbeats3 & BeatsX, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

Due to the laws of physics, bigger is always better where speakers are concerned. The Beats Solo3 are unquestionably the best W1 wireless headphones for sound quality with large drivers providing consistently strong and clear sound, with the trademark Beats bass. This should be unsurprising as the cans dwarf the other models here.

From the remaining three earphones, the Powerbeats offer the best overall sound but are again bulkier than the BeatsX or AirPods. AirPods have impressive sound for how small they are, easily besting EarPods, and are superior to the BeatsX thanks to their louder maximum volume and a more evenly distributed balanced sound signature.

Apple's Beats 1 Radio Station Launches In Singapore, by Tim Hardwick, MacRumors

The availability of Beats 1 is notable for a country in which iPhones usually launch the same day as in the U.S., and where Apple's streaming music service has proved very popular since its debut in 2015, when it went live in over 100 countries worldwide.

These Commute-Friendly Apps Don’t Require A Data Connection, by Michael Duran, Wired

Connectivity sucks on the subway, it’s a pain on a plane, and even if you take the bus, it’s smart to keep data usage in check. Whether you get to work by land, sea, or air, these apps have offline skills to help you work—and decompress—while you’re off the grid. Just don’t use them while you’re driving.

Notes

Apple Joins Wireless Power Consortium/Qi, Lending Weight To Rumor Of Wireless Charging For iPhone 8, by Ben Lovejoy, 9to5Mac

Long-running rumors that Apple will add wireless charging to the iPhone 8 have been lent additional weight with the news that the company has joined an industry group devoted to wireless power.

If You Want To Learn Faster, Overclock Your Audio And Video, by Clive Thompson, Wired

Power consumers of podcasts already know that 1.5X speed is their friend. About half the people who use podcast app Overcast listen on Smart Speed, which gooses the audio by eliminating moments of silence. Ten percent of Audible listeners crank up the speed dial. And as online videos become an increasingly important platform for acquiring new skills, speedup behavior is edging into the mainstream. Nearly 10 percent of people watching Khan Academy videos view them faster than normal.

Sure, we could bemoan this trend as another bleak marker of our hypermetabolized world: We’re racing through life, grimly optimizing every waking moment! (Overcast actually tells you how many hours of your life it has saved you.) But me, I’m in favor of overclocking video and audio. It’s a clever adaptation. In an age where more and more information arrives as multimedia, we’re reinventing the noble art of skimming.

Why Music Ownership Matters, by Ted Gioia, The Smart Set

Of course, this was all irrational. Wasn’t it? Music doesn’t sound better when it’s stored in an orange crate. Everybody knows that. Songs don’t change if you borrow them instead of owning them. That’s obvious to all.

But do the geniuses running the major record labels really understand what happens when you remove this irrational pride of ownership from the musical experience? Will fans devote as much discretionary income to music as in the past? Will songs have the same impact on lifestyles and on the mainstream culture?

The Non-Sensitive Edition Monday, February 13, 2017

A Guide To Getting Past Customs With Your Digital Privacy Intact, by Andy Greenberg, Wired

When Ryan Lackey travels to a country like Russia or China, he takes certain precautions: Instead of his usual gear, the Seattle-based security researcher and founder of a stealth security startup brings a locked-down Chromebook and an iPhone SE that’s set up to sync with a separate, non-sensitive Apple account. He wipes both before every trip, and loads only the minimum data he’ll need. Lackey goes so far as to keep separate travel sets for each country, so that he can forensically analyze the devices when he gets home to check for signs of each country’s tampering.

Now, Lackey says, the countries that warrant that paranoid approach to travel might include not just Russia and China, but the United States, too—if not for Americans like him, than for anyone with a foreign passport who might come under the increasingly draconian and unpredictable scrutiny of the US Customs and Border Protection agency. “All of this applies to America more than it has in the past,” says Lackey. “If I thought I were likely to be a targeted person, I would go through this same level of protection.”

Finally! Prince's Music Is Now Available On Spotify, Apple Music, iHeartRadio And More., by Xiomara Blanco, CNET

The announcement follows a tribute performance at the 59th annual Grammy Awards. Rumors about Prince's music becoming available on streaming services other than Tidal have been circulating for a few weeks, and now it's official.

Apple Releases Trailer For 'Carpool Karaoke' Series Coming Soon To Apple Music, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

Apple said the series will feature James Corden, Will Smith, Billy Eichner, Metallica, Alicia Keys, John Legend, Ariana Grande, Seth MacFarlane, Chelsea Handler, Blake Shelton, Michael Strahan, John Cena, Shaquille O’Neal, and many more. The series is expected to have a different host every episode.

Stuff

MacBook Pro Diary: Higher Power Output Turned My Mac Into A Charging Hub For My Holiday, by Ben Lovejoy, 9to5Mac

As someone who prefers to travel handbaggage-only, gadgets can often prove a challenge. As I like to keep up with photo editing as I go, I generally travel with my MacBook Pro as well as iPad, iPhone, Apple Watch and a compact camera. Not only do I need space for the gadgets themselves, but also the associated cables and chargers.

But for a trip to Havana last week – a destination I finally managed to check off from my bucket list – I decided that I could get by with two camera batteries and use my MacBook Pro to charge everything else.

Hands On: Taskpaper 3.6.2 Aims To Make Your To Do List Easier To Plow Through, by Mike Wuerthele, AppleInsider

The central idea behind Taskpaper acknowledges that you need a list to cope with all that on the plate —but that list shouldn't be yet another burden. Time spent fiddling with your To Do app is time you could be spending on doing things.

Develop

Testing Out Snapshots In Apple’s Next-generation APFS File System, by Adam H. Leventhal, Ars Technica

Snapshot are going to be a powerful feature of APFS. Beyond creating snapshots, mounting them, and reverting volumes to earlier snapshots, they have the potential to form the basis for an efficient and robust backup system. Apple (or a third party!) could arrange for snapshots to be taken periodically and then backup files changed between snapshots when a backup device is available. That could be a disk in your house or a cloud service from Apple, Dropbox, Google, or someone else. With its unknown utilities and unpublished APIs, Apple has already enabled a whole new collection of backup tools.

Notes

Aussie Banks Hit Back At Apple Over Mobile Payment Dispute, by Emily Cadman, Bloomberg

A consortium of Australia’s biggest banks has abandoned its attempt to negotiate as a bloc with Apple Inc. over the cost of using its mobile payment system, narrowing its claim to focus solely on access to a key piece of iPhone technology. [...]

In their filing to the ACCC, the banks said they all pledged to participate in the roll-out of Apple Pay in Australia in return for being granted access to the iPhone’s near-field communications antenna -- the technology that makes payments on contactless readers possible.

Inside Medium's Meltdown: How An Idealistic Silicon Valley Founder Raised $134 Million To Change Journalism, Then Crashed Into Reality, by Julie Bort, Business Insider

Medium is a blogging and publishing site that gained instant fame when it was launched in 2012 because of its well-known founder. He said its mission was to fix what he viewed as the broken world of journalism and create a new model. But this massive change of business plans – the company’s second – burnt some people so badly that industry insiders have growing doubts about William’s business judgment and are starting to accuse the company of being his “vanity” project.

Bottom of the Page

Disposable devices -- that's a new business model that can be marketed to people who are always the go, always moving across borders.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Form-And-Content Edition Sunday, February 12, 2017

Ali Shams: iPhone Street Photography, by Oliver Atwell, Amateur Photographer

One of the current best examples of smartphone street photography is by Iranian photographer Ali Shams, whose gorgeous black & white images are little masterclasses in how to best capture street scenes. His work is reminiscent of another contemporary master of the genre, Richard Koci Hernandez, a leading iPhone photographer who, similar to Shams, enjoys rendering the world in stark tones. In this way, we as the viewer are afforded more of an opportunity to focus on the form and content of the image. We see something familiar rendered as something quite unusual.

This Is Tim

Apple Boss Tim Cook Takes Inspiration From Scottish Student, by Chris McCall, The Scotsman

“Our whole emphasis is on the accessibility of our products,” Cook told The Scotsman. “We design with people with disabilities in mind. “We think everyone should be able to take advantage of technology. It shouldn’t just be for people that are lucky enough not to have disabilities."

Fake News Is Killing People's Minds, Says Apple Boss Tim Cook, by Allister Heath, Telegraph

Tim Cook, the boss of Apple, is calling for governments to launch a public information campaign to fight the scourge of fake news, which is “killing people’s minds.”

In an impassioned plea, Mr Cook, boss of the world’s largest company, says that the epidemic of false reports “is a big problem in a lot of the world” and necessitates a crackdown by the authorities and technology firms.

Watch Me Move

Latest Apple Watch Series 2 ‘Close Your Rings’ Promo Highlights Activity Tracking, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

The inclusion of swimming is notable as one of the selling points of the Apple Watch Series 2 over its predecessor is that it’s water-resistant. To go along with that enhancement, there are new swimming workouts in the Activity app, as well.

Nike+ Run Club App Is Borking My Runs, And I Blame Apple Watch Nike+, by Graham Bower, Cult of Mac

In theory, Nike+ Run Club is no longer a third-party app. It is “built-in” to the joint-branded Apple Watch Nike+. So you would think it should now be fully integrated into watchOS. The reality is disappointingly rather different.

Review: Kanex's GoPower Watch Portable Battery For Apple Watch Is Good, But Would Be Great With A Lightning Port, by Neil Hughes, AppleInsider

If you are a road warrior and two-a-day workout enthusiast whose Apple Watch struggles to keep up, it's likely a no-brainer. And if you plan to use it as your at-home charger too, the cost might be easier to swallow.

Outside of those uses, however, a $100 battery accessory with limited capacity is a tough sell. It would be much cheaper to get a regular battery brick and bring an Apple Watch cable.

Stuff

Head To Head: Apple's BeatsX Vs. AirPods, by AppleInsider

On sound, BeatsX features the audio company's signature bass-heavy reproduction, though mids and highs are surprisingly well tuned. The overall sound profile is more dynamic out of the box than AirPods, which produce a flatter, more even sound signature. That said, we found AirPods to be much louder than its BeatsX cousin, perhaps due to driver impedance or a firmware-limiting volume cap.

Want An App To Help See Eclipses, Comets And Constellations? This Is My Favorite., by Angela Fritz, Washington Post

Far and away the best feature of the SkyGuide app is the main attraction — the ability to lift your phone up to the sky and see all of the constellations, planets, satellites, comets and other space objects in your phone’s “field of view.” [...]

The app gets even more exciting for big events — past and the future — including this year’s total solar eclipse which will be visible across North America.

Develop

Oracle Refuses To Accept Pro-Google “Fair Use” Verdict In API Battle, by David Kravets, Ars Technica

Google successfully made its case to a jury last year that its use of Java APIs in Android was "fair use." A San Francisco federal jury rejected Oracle's claim that the mobile system infringed Oracle's copyrights.

But Oracle isn't backing down. Late Friday, the company appealed the high-profile verdict to a federal appeals court.

Notes

Filming Of Apple's Upcoming 'Planet Of The Apps' Series Has Finished, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

The way that developers pitch is said to be "very unique," and "not as straightforward as just standing on a stage in front of the judges," a format popularized by shows like American Idol. In addition to influencers and judges, the series also has a "very famous" host, but the source does not want to play spoiler as to who it is.

The Grew-Up-Watching-Those-Ads Edition Saturday, February 11, 2017

AirPods TV Commercial Took Sales Of Marian Hill's Song 'Down' From 'Negligible' To 'Magical', by Malcolm Owen, AppleInsider

Singer Samantha Gongol and keyboardist Jeremy Lloyd thought Apple's history of propelling musical fame, such as when Feist's "1234" was used in an iPod Nano commercial, would help sales, but seemingly underestimated the effect. "You hope for it, but we certainly did not anticipate the degree to which everything has exploded," said Gongol. "We grew up watching those ads."

Prince Songs To Return To Spotify, Apple Music, Other Streaming Services On Grammys Sunday, by Todd Spangler, Variety

Songs of late music legend Prince will again be available on multiple streaming-music services on Sunday, in releases timed for the 59th Grammy Awards.

The Purple One’s Warner Music catalog, including the albums “Purple Rain,” “1999” and “Sign O’ the Times,” will be available Feb. 12 on subscription-streaming services including Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon, Napster and iHeartRadio, according to multiple reports.

Apple Abroad

Apple Pay Boss Says CBA, NAB, Westpac Risk Missing The Future Of Payments, by James Eyers, AFR

The global head of Apple Pay has put three of Australia's big banks on notice that the technology giant's global payments system will steal their customers and they risk being left behind in the development of digital wallets.

Jennifer Bailey said in an exclusive interview that Apple is so confident of the supremacy of its payments system that "customers will say they are happy to switch banks to use it".

Apple Met With Chinese Regulators To Discuss The iPhone’s Mysterious Battery Drain Problem, by Josh Horwitz, Quartz

An Apple representative traveled to Beijing this week to discuss iPhone battery malfunctions with a consumer watchdog organization affiliated with the government. The meeting, held yesterday, shows that as Beijing ramps up scrutiny of Apple, the tech company continues to try and appease the government.

Stuff

App Is Great Help To Parents With Kids, by Ronnie Gill, Newsday

Winnie is an app that has aggregated data on more than a million family-friendly venues throughout the United States and around the world.

Setapp For Mac Review, by Dan Counsell

The service is invite-only for developers. This means MacPaw can make sure only top quality apps get added to the service. I think this will be key to its success in the long run. If the quality of apps decreases then the subscriber base will plummet. If Setapp was full of junk apps there's no way I'd pay ten bucks a month for it.

Develop

Accessible Resistance, by Daniel Jalkut, Bitsplitting

If you are a Mac or iOS developer who is committed to improving the accessibility of your app, a great place to start is with the WWDC 2016 What’s New In Accessibility session. Apple is always enhancing the variety of accessible features that are built in to iOS, macOS, tvOS, and yes!, even watchOS.

What Programming Languages Are Used Most On Weekends?, by Julia Silge, Stackoverflow

Many developers tinker with side projects for learning or career development (or just for fun!) and at Stack Overflow, we support all types of technologies, from professional to hobbyist. Whenever people are working, we're available to answer their questions. But what languages tend to be asked about on weekends, as opposed to weekdays?

Notes

Tim Cook Met Theresa May And Said The UK Would Be 'Just Fine' Post Brexit, by Zlata Rodionova, The Independent

He said the iPhone maker is a “big believer in the UK” adding Britain would be “just fine” outside of the EU—even if there are some “bumps in the road along the way”.

"We're doubling down on a huge headquarters in the Battersea area and we're leaving significant space there to expand," Mr Cook said.

Microsoft Miracle: How Satya Nadella Revived Tech Giant In Just Three Years, by AFR

The attitude that everything worthwhile must emanate from within Microsoft’s four walls has been expelled under Nadella. It has become accepted that millions of people will want to use products made by its rivals, and it is making a good fist of forging a path as a leading part of a broader tech ecosystem.

Where once the company was the very definition of a walled garden, jealously guarding its technology, it is now forming partnerships with major tech firms like Adobe, falling over itself to offer its services on Apple devices and is – staggeringly to the historically minded – embracing open source in a big way.

Bored With Ho-hum Cloud Backups? Use Usenet (Yes, Usenet!) Instead, by Brian Hill, Ars Technica

With access to a Usenet news server, you can simply upload your backup there, and it will be stored redundantly in news servers all over the world. Best of all, this approach typically costs considerably less than a cloud backup service.

If you’re not an IT greybeard, you may not be familiar with Usenet. To put it within a frame of reference any Ars reader may recognize, Yahoo once described the Ars Technica forums as "the successor to Usenet and precursor of Reddit." And while that's not a 100 percent accurate, Usenet is kinda, sorta like an ancient Reddit. It's a collection of forums, organized by subject, where anyone can use to anonymously discuss nearly any topic. Where Usenet differs from Reddit, however, is in many of the technical details.

Bottom of the Page

I am not a big music fan. Even though I am a subscriber of Apple Music, music has never been important in my life.

But Apple, as a music company, has made my life so much better. iPods, iPhone, EarPods, W1. Podcasts, smart playlists, digital hub, audiobooks.

Thanks Apple.

~

I am also grateful that Instapaper is back up and running.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Silver-Lining Edition Friday, February 10, 2017

Apple Is Giving Away Three Months Of Apple Music With Wireless Beats Products, by Sean O'Kane, The Verge

BeatsX, Apple’s newest pair of $149 wireless earbuds, will finally hit store shelves tomorrow after a few months of delays. But it turns out there’s a slight silver lining, because buyers will find a card inside with a code that’s good for three free months of Apple Music — a $30 value. Better yet, Apple will also include the promo card in other Beats products, like the Powerbeats 3 Wireless, Solo 3 Wireless, Studio Wireless, and Beats Pill+ for a limited time.

Vacation With The Apple Watch Series 2, by Jason Snell, Six Colors

But that Apple Watch was on my wrist, and as a result, I was able to answer calls and reply to texts (we had eight people and three cars, so there was a lot of coordinating going on) without needing to dig my phone out of the bag. It was pretty great. I realize that some people will view this as a negative—didn’t I want to be entirely cut off from communication when I was on the beach?—but honestly, I didn’t mind. I was more relieved to know that I could respond quickly to someone without checking my phone. It helped, rather than hindered, my relaxation.

Apple: Tuning Out Cynicism Since 1976, by Jonny Evans, Compuerworld

Cynicism is easy. All it takes is an external target and a cutting turn of phrase. It will always be easier to slam someone’s original idea than it is to build your own. Apple ignores the cynical. So should we all. [...]

If you think about it, tuning out cynicism has been part of Apple's D.N.A. since it began when Steve Jobs sold his car, Steve Wozniak sold his calculator and both men began on their mission to “get a computer into the hands of everyday people”.

iCloud Was Quietly Storing Years Of Cleared Browsing Histories, by Russell Brandom, The Verge

Elcomsoft did not disclose the new method to Apple, but the company responded quickly once news of the bug became public. Within hours of the Forbes report, a server-side fix began to stop the retrievals, apparently deleting all records older than two weeks. Elcomsoft acknowledged the change in a blog post. “Good move, Apple,” an update said. “Still, we would like to get an explanation.”

Stuff

Apple Delays Shipping For UltraFine 5K Display As LG Works On Shielding Fix, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

New orders for the LG UltraFine 5K Display will now ship out in five to six weeks, ensuring buyers will get a display with updated hardware that fixes the Wi-Fi interference problem.

How To Use Alfred As A Clipboard Manager, by Bradley Chambers, The Sweet Setup

I had gotten away from using Alfred because Spotlight has recently matured, but having access to a clipboard manager convinced me to reinstall it.

Workflow 1.7 Introduces Magic Variables For Easier, More Powerful Visual Automation, by Federico Viticci, MacStories

Magic Variables mostly remove the need to manually save variables. They leverage Workflow's Content Graph engine to automatically keep track of variables in the background, allowing you to access them at any time with the ability to change their type (format). It's a novel idea, and it'll take a few minutes to fully grasp, but it's drastically superior to Workflow's old variables. Magic Variables will change how you build workflows.

Review: Elgato Eve Motion Is A Standalone HomeKit Motion Sensor For Triggering Automations, by Zac Hall, 9to5Mac

Elgato Eve Motion is a standalone motion detection sensor that’s compatible with Apple’s HomeKit feature. Eve Motion can be used as a sensor in iOS 10’s Home app to trigger scenes and control accessories.

WhatsApp Rolling Out Two-Step Verification Security Feature To All Users, by Tim Hardwick, MacRumors

With the optional feature, WhatsApp users will be able to securely verify their number with a custom-generated six-digit passcode whenever they install the app on a new device.

Notes

Amazon's Jeff Bezos & Steve Boom On Starting A New 'Golden Age' For Music, by Stephen Witt, Billboard

Jeff Bezos: Well, here’s what I would say: We’ve been in the music category since 1998. It was the second category we launched after books. Our customers listen to a lot of music and we have a couple of freight trains kind of pulling the business along. One is Prime, and the other is Echo and Alexa.

Steve Boom: We don’t wake up thinking, “How do we beat Spotify?” We think about the opportunity in front of us, and we think there’s room for multiple winners. Obviously we’re big into families, and our age demographic is different than the other services. It tends to skew a little bit older. Because it’s a household device, our goal is to get everyone up into the family plan, ultimately.

The Potentially-Dangerous Edition Thursday, February 9, 2017

A Personal Story: Did The Apple Watch Save My Life?, by Michael Krigsman, ZDNet

Sensor data reported by HeartWatch made me aware of a potentially dangerous condition of which I was otherwise absolutely unaware. Based on the data, I'm now undergoing various tests and treatment.

Mac Owners Between 2003 & 2008 Can Claim $10 In Optical Drive Class-action Lawsuit Settlement, by Mike Wuerthele, AppleInsider

A class-action suit filed against four optical drive manufacturers alleging illegal price fixing has been settled, with previous owners of computers equipped with CD or DVD drives between 2003 and 2008 eligible for $10 per computer owned during that period.

Mac Malware Is Still Crude, But It’s Slowly Catching Up To Its Windows Rivals, by Dan Goodin, Ars Technica

Malicious Microsoft Word documents that abuse macros have long been the bane of Windows users. Now, security researchers have found what may be the first such real-world attack to infect Macs.

Stuff

Flipboard Is Redesigning Itself Around ‘Smart’ Digital Magazines, by Walt Mossberg, Recode

Flipboard is launching a major redesign, version 4.0, which is built around “smart” magazines on topics you choose, tailored using highly granular choices of subjects or sources, and automatically updated as relevant new content is published online. [...]

Each smart magazine is built in a much more granular way than before. For instance, in the old Flipboard, if you set up a “topic” like technology, you saw essentially the same content as everyone else who chose that topic. Now, when you set up your smart magazine on technology (or any other topic) using the passion picker, you’re prompted to either choose or opt out of a long list of subtopics, like consumer tech, UX design, gear and gadgets, hacking, artificial intelligence, enterprise tech and even specific companies and products. You can look for other subtopics by typing them into a search box.

Square Launches iPad App With Point-of-sale, Store Management System For Retailers, by Malcolm Owen , AppleInsider

The Square for Retail package centers around a new iOS PoS app called Square Retail, which allows an iPad to be used to conduct transactions with customers. Optimized for retailers rather than small businesses, the app includes a search interface and barcode scanning functions for building the shopping cart, with employees able to quickly modify the total by applying discounts to individual items or the entire total.

Notes

University Of Glasgow Gives Honorary Degree To Tim Cook, by Joseph Keller, iMore

Apple CEO Tim Cook has received an honorary degree from the University of Glasgow. Cook also took part in a fireside chat at the university, as well as a Q&A session with students. During the events, Cook spoke on topics such as the importance of coding in schools to President Trump's recent immigration ban.

Tim Cook Met With UK Prime Minister Theresa May This Morning, Discussed Brexit, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

The meeting covered Apple’s investments in the UK and the importance of digital skills in the workforce. May also outlined her Brexit plan to Cook, which will see the UK leave the European Union by 2019.

Bottom of the Page

Once upon a time, practically nobody competed with Microsoft's Office. There was a little open-source thing that offered an alternative, but that was only for people who never exchange documents with others.

Is the Apple Watch in the same category as Microsoft Office once was?

~

I'm pretty sure there is a pent-up demand for a new iPad mini, just like there was a pent-up demand for iPhones with bigger screens.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Nexus-Of-Passion Edition Wednesday, February 8, 2017

I Wish Apple Loved Books, by Daniel Steinberg, Dim Sum Thinking

I was an early embracer and adopter of iBooks Author. I could produce beautiful books. The software was initially frustrating but they improved it in significant ways early.

Then they stopped. [...]

I just think it's a shame that there isn't a nexus of passion about books and education at Apple like there is about health and music.

Delayed BeatsX Earphones Will Finally Be Available Feb. 10, by David Carnoy, CNET

Yes, the highly anticipated neckband-style wireless headphone will be in Apple's retail stores in the US, Apple.com and authorized resellers in white and black. Beats also announced the addition of two new colors, gray and blue. No word yet on when the earphones will be available in international markets or when the new colors will hit stores.

Artist Put iTunes Terms & Conditions Into Comic Book Form, Giving You Reason To Finally Read Them, by Ashlee Kieler, Consumerist

Who among us has actually read through the terms and conditions for every device, service, e-tailer, or telecom provider in our lives? Would you be more inclined to pore over that tedious legalese if it were in a more enjoyable form, like say, iTunes Terms and Conditions: The Graphic Novel?

Cartoonist R. Sikorayak is trying to inject some fun into the process of reading through thousands of words of mouseprint to find out whether or not you’re signing away your first born to Apple. His soon-to-be published graphic novel gives the company’s massive iTunes terms and conditions a much-needed and entertaining makeover.

Stuff

Todoist, by Ben Brooks

Todoist has great natural language processing on the entry form, allowing me to enter the task, set due dates, assign tags or lists all without leaving my keyboard. I truly love this and this feature alone basically sealed the deal for me.

Spark For Mac Review: A Great Mobile Email Client, Also Quite Good On Desktop, by J.R. Bookwalter, Macworld

Spark makes the leap from mobile to desktop and mostly scores a touchdown, but not all iOS features have come along for the ride so far. Both versions are free (and more importantly, free of ads or other intrusions), but Readdle plans to introduce in-app extensions in the future, presumably of the paid variety.

Iconjar — All Your Icons In One Place, by Preshit Deorukhkar, Beautiful Pixels

Iconjar is a library app that holds all your icons and offers you the flexibility and ease of working with them. Think of it as the Photos app for your icons.

Develop

Apple TV Accessory Makers Can Now Use App Launch, Wi-Fi Configuration, VoiceOver And Other iOS Features On tvOS, by Zac Hall, 9to5Mac

The features, which include App Launch, new accessibility features and more, aren’t documented publicly, but specs were recently made available to accessory makers in Apple’s Made-for-iPhone/iPad/Apple TV licensing program.

Apple's WebKit Team Proposes W3C Community Group To Strive For More Powerful Graphics On The Web, by Husain Sumra, MacRumors

Apple's WebKit team today proposed a new Community Group at the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) focused on discussing the future of 3D graphics on the web. The goal of the group is to lead to development of a new Web API that would better prepare web browsers to take advantage of modern, and future, GPU technologies on a variety of platforms.

Notes

Apple Hires Amazon’s Fire TV Head To Run Apple TV Business, by Mark Gurman, Bloomberg

Apple Inc. has hired Timothy D. Twerdahl, the former head of Amazon.com Inc.’s Fire TV unit, as a vice president in charge of Apple TV product marketing and shifted the executive who previously held the job to a spot negotiating media content deals. [...]

Twerdahl comes to Apple with significant experience in internet-connected TV devices. Prior to his tenure at Amazon, he was an executive at Netflix Inc. and later a vice president in charge of consumer devices at Roku, a streaming video box developer. Twerdahl’s experience could bolster Apple’s efforts in video content and living room devices at a time when the company is looking for new categories of revenue to augment iPhone and iPad sales.

How Jimmy Iovine Plans To Take Apple Music To New Heights, by Andrew Barker, Variety

Iovine lives in Los Angeles but travels once a week to Apple’s Cupertino, Calif., headquarters, where he’s known simply as “Jimmy” — he has no public job title. Dressed in cool but modest attire, save for a gold bracelet bearing the name of his wife, 38-year-old model-actress Liberty Ross, the 63-year-old mogul holds court on a plethora of topics, from the state of pop studio- craft (“If you’re looking for a quick hit, that means you’re looking for something disposable”) to his youth (“I wasn’t a good student, I couldn’t concentrate, I probably needed both Prozac and Klonopin”) to his views on President Trump (“the guy is f–king crazy”).

But whatever the subject, Iovine almost always manages to find some connective thread back to Apple Music and his vision for turning the company into one that holistically blends the fundamentally entwined yet oft incompatible worlds of Silicon Valley and the entertainment industry.

New EU Rules Will Remove ‘Geoblocking’ So Customers Can Use Online Subscription Services, Like Netflix, Abroad, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

The European Union is laying out plans to enforce new laws that breakdown geographical barriers for online subscription services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Apple Music. When the new regulations come into effect in early 2018, online services must provide a service to its customers regardless of their current location, as long as they stay within the EU.

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Books, magazines and newspapers are all supposed to be 'disrupted' by the iPad, and yet, none of them made any strife on the iOS ecosystem.

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Thanks for reading.

The Vulnerable-To-Attack Edition Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Dozens Of Popular iOS Apps Vulnerable To Intercept Of TLS-protected Data, by Sean Gallagher, Ars Technica

These sorts of vulnerabilities are nothing new; thousands of applications have had incorporated bugs that caused TLS to become vulnerable to attack, both on iOS and Android. But the fact that they persist even as Apple tries to push developers toward greater security is disconcerting, to say the least—especially in applications that could expose financial or health data along with user credentials.

Low Light

Apple Shares New 'One Night' Ad Showcasing iPhone 7 Camera, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

According to Apple, the "One Night" campaign is designed to showcase the low light photography capabilities of the iPhone 7, featuring the everything from clubs in Johannesburg, South Africa to rooftops in Shanghai, China to ice caves in Iceland.

Singaporean Finds Art In Night Light For #ShotoniPhone Billboard, by Elissa Loi, Stuff

In this particular instance, he manages to capture his friend’s expression bathed in the light of the sparkler as he wanted to create contrast - something really bright in the dark.

Coming Soon

Channeling Steve Jobs, Apple Seeks Design Perfection At New "Spaceship" Campus, by Julia Love, Reuters

Apple's in-house construction team enforced many rules: No vents or pipes could be reflected in the glass. Guidelines for the special wood used frequently throughout the building ran to some 30 pages.

Tolerances, the distance materials may deviate from desired measurements, were a particular focus. On many projects, the standard is 1/8 of an inch at best; Apple often demanded far less, even for hidden surfaces.

The company's keen design sense enhanced the project, but its expectations sometimes clashed with construction realities, a former architect said.

As He Continues France Trip, Tim Cook Talks AI/AR, Taxes, iPhone Production, And More In New Interview, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Concerning the falling sales of the iPhone, Cook pointed to the PC as a preview of industry that declined and later rebounded as technology advances with things like augmented reality.

Relax, Apple Isn’t Introducing Another New Connector, by Vlad Savov, The Verge

The new-old connector is the same 8-pin plug you might have seen (and probably ignored) with your Nikon camera. People familiar with Apple’s plans tell us that the company has no intention to replace Lightning or install this as a new jack on iPhones or iPads. Instead, UAC will be used as an intermediary in headphone cables.

Stuff

Apple Kicks Off Back To School 2017 Promotion On Macs And iPads In Australia And New Zealand, by Zac Hall, 9to5Mac

Apple is launching its annual Back to School promotion on Macs and iPads this week in New Zealand and Australia. Localized as ‘Back to Uni’, this year’s promotion runs from February 7 to March 16 and includes Apple Store credit for qualified purchases.

Apple SIM Can Now Be Used With Truphone In 40 Countries, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

Truphone has introduced international data plans for iPad users with an Apple SIM. [...] For now, iPad users need to be in Spain when purchasing an Apple SIM plan from Truphone for the first time, but the data can then be used in any of the 40 participating countries. Truphone said it plans to roll out its Apple SIM plans for purchase across Europe and beyond in the coming weeks.

Notes

The Real Threat Is Machine Incompetence, Not Intelligence, by Michael Byrne, Motherboard

The past couple of years have been a real cringe-y time to be an AI researcher. Just imagine a whole bunch of famous technologists and top-serious science authorities all suddenly taking aim at your field of research as a clear and present threat to the very survival of the species. All you want to do is predict appropriate emoji use based on textual analyses and here's Elon Musk saying this thing he doesn't really seem to know much about is the actual apocalypse.

It's not that computer scientists haven't argued against AI hype, but an academic you've never heard of (all of them?) pitching the headline "AI is hard" is at a disadvantage to the famous person whose job description largely centers around making big public pronouncements. This month that academic is Alan Bundy, a professor of automated reasoning at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, who argues in the Communications of the ACM that there is a real AI threat, but it's not human-like machine intelligence gone amok. Quite the opposite: the danger is instead shitty AI. Incompetent, bumbling machines.

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Can Apple 'extend' iOS into the cloud, and sandbox individual user's data, even within the same app?

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Thanks for reading.

The Fairness-And-Predictability Edition Monday, February 6, 2017

Apple, Facebook, Google, And 94 Others File Opposition To Trump's Immigration Ban, by Rich McCormick, The Verge

A host of big-name tech companies including Apple, Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Microsoft have filed an amicus brief in a Washington state court opposing Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration. A total of 97 firms put their names to the document, which supports the state of Washington in its battle against what is widely considered a Muslim ban, each one stating that their “operations are affected” by the executive order.

“The Order represents a significant departure from the principles of fairness and predictability that have governed the immigration system of the United States for more than fifty years,” the brief reads, indicating a philosophical objection from the signees. But they also present an economic argument, saying that the order also “inflicts significant harm on American business, innovation, and growth,” disrupting current operations, and making it “more difficult and expensive for US companies to recruit, hire, and retain some of the world’s best employees.”

Mobile 2.0, by Benedict Evans

Today, ten years after the iPhone launched, I have some of the same sense of early constraints and assumptions being abandoned and new models emerging. If in 2004 we had 'Web 2.0', now there's a lot of 'Mobile 2.0' around. If Web 2.0 said 'lots of people have broadband and modern browsers now', Mobile 2.0 says 'there are a billion people with high-end smartphones now'*. So, what assumptions are being left behind? What do you do differently if you assume not just the touch screen from 2007 but unlimited battery and bandwidth (around half of smartphone use in developed markets is on wifi and mobile networks are 10x faster), high-DPI screens, a CPU and GPU 100x faster than PCs in 1994, and lots of high-quality image sensors?

I Work From Home, by Colin Nissan, New Yorker

911 OPERATOR: 911—what’s your emergency?

ROBERT: Hi, I . . . uh . . . I work from home.

OPERATOR: O.K., is anyone else there with you, sir?

ROBERT: No, I’m alone.

OPERATOR: And when’s the last time you saw someone else? Was that today?

Another Apple Setback: Its Doomsday Clock, by Jean-Louis Gassée, Monday Note

A reliable measure of Apple’s ambitious expectations is its R&D expense: It keeps climbing, 19% higher than last year. Another sign can be found in the Off-Balance Sheet section of the 10-Q. This year, Apple has committed $24B in manufacturing purchase obligations — money promised to suppliers. That’s a 16% increase over last year’s $20.7B. This doesn’t mean that the company’s output will increase by a similar amount, but it’s always a reliable trend indicator. For example, we saw the same number go down from $21.6B in December 2014, to $20.7B in 2015, a timeframe in which Apple revenue also declined.

Apple Argues Australian Bank Bargaining Cartel Is Centred On Fee Avoidance, by Asha McLean, ZDNet

Apple has argued in its latest submission to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) that the collective negotiating between four of Australia's largest banks is not about access to the iPhone's near-field communication (NFC) technology to stir healthy competition, rather it is an attempt to avoid paying the fees associated with using Apple Pay.

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It doesn't do what it is supposed to do, and it also doesn't do what is needed to do.

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Thanks for reading.

The Imperfect-Information Edition Sunday, February 5, 2017

Inside The 20-Year Quest To Build Computers That Play Poker, by Joshua Brustein, Bloomberg

Experts in artificial intelligence have always used games as a way to develop and test their creations. Computers have surpassed the best human players at chess, checkers, backgammon, and go. Poker is a distinct challenge because of the element of chance, and because the players don’t know what cards their opponents are holding. So-called imperfect information games require the sort of human intelligence — like deceiving an opponent and sensing when she’s deceiving you— that computers lack.

“No limit hold’em is the game you see in tournaments, and it has the reputation of being more of an art than a science,” said Adam Kucharski, author of The Perfect Bet: How Science and Math Are Taking the Luck Out of Gambling. “There was the idea that this game would be safer for much longer from these machines.”

5 Reasons Why The New GarageBand For iOS Needs Your Attention, by Craig Grannell, Stuff

Maybe you once tried GarageBand for iOS and dismissed it as a toy. Perhaps you were miffed at the paucity of effects and somewhat cheesy synth sounds. Or, as a newcomer, you might have felt limited by the small number of smart instruments.

But avoid GarageBand no longer, because Apple’s crafted a major update into being.

Naturally, the app isn’t Logic Pro X for iPad and iPhone - at least, not just yet. But GarageBand is in many ways now even more suited to pros, as well as wannabe pop stars more prone to key mashing than ivory tinkling.

4 Free iPhone Apps For Doodling On Photos, by Amy-Mae Turner, Mashable

A picture may already speak a thousand words, but sometimes it might just benefit from something extra. With this in mind, we've taken a look at iPhone apps that let you doodle and write on your images.

We've tried and tested four free options that will help you get creative with your iPhone photos. Take a look through our selection and you'll be sketching on your best snapshots in no time.

Runkeeper: The Best Apple Watch Running App Sent The Garmin Fenix 3 To A Drawer, by Matthew Miller, ZDNet

The Apple Watch may not be the next iPhone, but it is an excellent GPS sports watch for many of us.

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Has anybody built an AI machine that plays Mahjong? (The four-person game, not the solitaire game.) I'm pretty sure the AI can already win the game -- after all, the machines can definitely keep track of where each of the 144 tiles went during the shuffling, right?

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Thanks for reading.

The I'm-Sorry-Dave Edition Saturday, February 4, 2017

The Making Of Apple’s HAL, by Ken Segall

Read on if you’re interested in learning how ads were often born in Steve Jobs’s Apple. The process was not at all like what you find in most big companies today (including Apple).

Apple Will Sell Students $630 Of Professional Software For Just $200, by Andrew Cunningham, Ars Technica

If you're a student, teacher, or staff member at a K-12 institution or college who is eligible for Apple's education pricing, the company is announcing a bundle that provides a substantial discount for its pro apps. Together, those apps would run you $630—$300 for Final Cut Pro, $200 for Logic Pro X, $50 for Motion, $50 for Compressor, and $30 for MainStage 3—but the bundled cost is just $200.

Apple Again Rejects Call To Appear Before Finance Committee, by Juno McEnroe and Daniel McConnell , Irish Examiner

Technology giant Apple has again rejected an invitation to attend an Oireachtas committee and answer questions over an alleged €13bn in unpaid taxes owed to Ireland.

The Do-More Edition Friday, February 3, 2017

Evernote 8: A Review And Comparison With Apple Notes, by Ryan Christoffel, MacStories

Evernote 8 is a solid note taker, but its greatest appeal – to me at least – is that it strives to do more. Evernote is a service that aims to become your digital brain – an intelligent brain that stores anything and everything you throw at it, makes that data all quickly accessible, and creates connections between notes and the digital world that Apple will likely never do. Some of these tasks it already handles well, but its greatest potential is found in developing a brain that grows smarter in the future with machine learning.

LG Has Redesigned Its 5K Mac Monitor So It Can Handle Being Placed Near A Router, by Ina Fried, Recode

An LG spokesman told Recode that the company is adding additional shielding to newly manufactured models. [...] Existing models will be able to be retrofitted with the enhanced shielding, which will allow the monitor to be placed near a router.

Apple Music Randomly Skipping Songs? You Are Not Alone, by Sébastien Page, iDownloadBlog

A weird little bug has made its way into Apple Music over the last day or so that makes the service randomly skip songs during playback. [...] The Apple representative I talked to seemed to indicate this was a widespread problem, and since the company is already aware of it and working on a fix, it should take no more than 72 hours to get fixed.

Stuff

I Paid $3,000 For My MacBook Pro And Got Emotional Whiplash, by David Pogue, Yahoo

This really isn’t a MacBook at all.

I mean, it doesn’t have the same anything. Screen, jacks, power cord, keyboard, battery, trackpad…it has almost nothing in common with previous Apple laptops.

It’s much better in some ways, and much worse in others. You’ve been warned; keep hands and feet inside the tram at all times.

Microsoft Outlook For iOS Now Supports Add-ins Like Giphy And Trello, by Tom Warren, The Verge

Add-ins will work by showing up as an icon when you’re reading an email. With apps like Trello you’ll be able to add any email as a project card, or clip emails to Evernote. You can even use the Giphy add-in to reply to email with a GIF.

How (And Why) To Use Google Photos On Your iPhone Or iPad, by Emily Ferron, New Atlas

Many iPhone users have wrestled with storage limits, especially when it comes to managing the device's camera roll. Apart from deleting old pics and purchasing a paid iCloud subscription, there's another option for alleviating storage woes: using Google Photos for iOS.

United Airlines Working With Apple And IBM To Deliver Enterprise Apps To Over 50,000 Employee iPhones And iPads, by Zac Hall, 9to5Mac

United’s goal is to give employees access to information on iPhones and iPads already being used on the job rather than relying on solutions that are not mobile. Services like helping customers find arrival gates and other tasks that previously relied on dedicated terminals will be available on iPhones and iPads.

Notes

Apple Set To Begin Making iPhones In India By April’s End, by Saritha Rai, Bloomberg

Apple Inc. will begin assembling iPhones in India by the end of April, a regional minister says, heightening its focus on the world’s fastest-growing major smartphone market as growth slows elsewhere.

The U.S. company has tapped Taiwan’s Wistron Corp. to put together its phones in the tech capital of Bangalore in Karnataka, said Priyank Kharge, the state’s information technology minister. Apple executives met with him in January and confirmed the timeline, he said in an interview.

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I'm still using Evernote -- in fact, I am paying for it -- because I am still using Windows at work, and I do want my notes to go cross-platform across Windows, macOS, and iOS. (I am not using any Android devices currently.)

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Thanks for reading.

The Doubling-Size Edition Thursday, February 2, 2017

Apple Pushes AirPods Firmware 3.5.1 To Synchronized iPhones With Minor Bug Fixes, by Mike Wuerthele, AppleInsider

Apple AirPods firmware 3.5.1 is available for users now, and in all likelihood, has already been downloaded to a synchronized device. Installation is automatic when the AirPods are in their charging case, the case is plugged into a charger, and the linked iPhone is in close proximity and connected to Wi-Fi.

Apple To Expand Iconic NYC ‘Cube’ Store In Lift For Fifth Avenue, by David M Levitt, Bloomberg

Apple Inc. is more than doubling the size of its renowned store on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, bringing a boost to a retail corridor that’s suffered from Trump Tower congestion and persistently high vacancies in the past year.

Google, Apple, Facebook, Uber Plan To Draft A Joint Letter Opposing Trump’s Travel Ban, by Kara Swisher, Recode

Alphabet, Apple, Facebook, Uber, Stripe, along with a consumer packaged goods company and others are working together on a letter opposing U.S. President Trump’s travel ban, according to sources.

Stuff

Snapseed Makes It Easier To Add Drama To Your Photos, by Timothy J. Seppala, Engadget

Essentially, what this new feature does is allow manipulating things like contrast, brightness and color intensity in a given image. Oftentimes, it's one of the easiest and most dramatic ways you can edit a photo.

Apple Watch Users Can Easily Track Their Sleep Using AutoSleep, by Brent Dirks, AppAdvice

When wearing the watch to bed, it will automatically track sleep including quality, restlessness, time awake, and heart rate. All that information can be viewed the next morning on your iPhone.

Nintendo’s Fire Emblem Heroes Arrives Today On iPhone & iPad As Expected, by Ben Lovejoy, 9to5Mac

Nintendo’s latest mobile game Fire Emblem Heroes has today hit the iOS App Store as expected. As with Super Mario Run, it’s a freemium game, but in theory at least you can unlock all the features for free through game play.

Develop

Leadership Comes From Everywhere, by Michael Lopp, Rands in Repose

I have sets of questions that vet each of these facets. I’ve also written supporting material explaining how each leader is different. There are incredibly strong leaders who have an inhuman tactical ability but are average at strategy. There are credible leaders who thrive on building vision, but are awful at strategy and even worse at tactics.

I patted myself on the back when I wrote down the triangle of vision to strategy to tactics. So clean… so elegant.. and so woefully incomplete.

Notes

Apple Developing New Mac Chip In Test Of Intel Independence, by Mark Gurman and Ian King, Bloomberg

The chip, which went into development last year, is similar to one already used in the latest MacBook Pro to power the keyboard’s Touch Bar feature, the people said. The updated part, internally codenamed T310, would handle some of the computer’s low-power mode functionality, they said. The people asked not to be identified talking about private product development. It’s built using ARM Holdings Plc. technology and will work alongside an Intel processor.

Copywriters Can't Even Come Up With A Decent Meaningless Tagline Anymore, by Mark Duffy, Digiday

Industry experts keep insisting that taglines are dead. But every year, taglines keep getting written. Bad taglines. Wanky “hashtaglines” that make for shitty hashtags and even shittier taglines.

The days of taglines actually meaning something (Avis: “We’re No. 2, We Try Harder”; FedEx: “When It Absolutely Positively Has To Be There Overnight”) are mostly gone.

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It is obvious on hindsight, but I did not expect there will firmware updates for the AirPods. What's next? Will AirPods gain new functionalities in the future? Will there be an earOS in the works? (Or will that be AirOS?)

I'm now looking at my Magic Mouse and wondering whether Apple had secretly pushed any firmware updates to it too.

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Thanks for reading.

The Return-To-Growth Edition Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Apple Sees A Return To Growth With Q1 2017’s Record Results, by Josh Centers, TidBITS

Overall, Apple seems to be starting 2017 on solid footing, with successes for the iPhone, Mac, Apple Watch, AirPods, and the company’s various services. However, the iPad continues to be a sore point, and the Apple TV results are distressing. However, the Apple TV is in no danger, since Cook mentioned its importance to Apple’s overall content strategy. And no matter what, Apple seems committed to pushing the iPad as the next step in technology. Since Apple is committed to these products, it needs to do more to make them the best they can be.

Apple’s Services Are Buoying Its Return To Growth As Its iPhone Engine Stalls, by Matthew Lynley, TechCrunch

Looking at the return to growth from last quarter, it also seems apparent that Apple’s slight jump from the first quarter last year was significantly buoyed by its growing services revenue. Apple’s services revenue was up 18% year-over-year in the first quarter, coming in at $7.2 billion. In the first quarter last year, the company reported around $6.1 billion in services revenue. With the $2.5 billion split, that services revenue accounted for a significant chunk of the difference.

iPad Sales Keep Shrinking — Down Another 20 Percent, by Ina Fried, Recode

Apple sold 13.3 million iPads, generating $5.5 billion in revenue. That represents a roughly 19 percent drop in units and a 22 percent drop in revenue from a year ago. [...] CEO Tim Cook added later that there were several factors in the quarter that influenced iPad sales, including a change in inventory levels and component shortages at one supplier — a shortage that continues into the current quarter.

Apple Watch Sets All Time Revenue Record In Q1 2017, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

Apple does not break out sales of the Apple Watch like it does for the iPhone, iPad, and Mac, but according to Apple CEO Tim Cook, the Apple Watch set all time unit and revenue records during the first fiscal quarter of 2017, suggesting significant sales during the holidays. [...] "Other," which includes the Apple TV, Apple Watch, Beats products, the iPod, and Apple-branded and third-party accessories (including the new AirPods), brought in $4.02 billion, down from $4.35 billion in the year-ago quarter.

Apple’s Record Profits Were Helped By A Calendar Quirk, by Vlad Savov, The Verge

But there’s one little asterisk to the whole happy affair, and that’s the fact that Apple’s financial Q1 2017 stretched out to 14 weeks rather than the usual 13, owing to a calendar peculiarity. [...]

Apple rightly makes the point that comparing quarters on an apples-to-apples basis is inadvisable and fraught with confounding factors. It’s something worth bearing in mind when considering the company’s own apples-to-apples comparisons for quarterly records.

This Is Tim

Apple Weighing Legal Action Against Trump Immigration Ban, To Match Employee Donations To Refugee Relief Funds, by Mikey Campbell, AppleInsider

Apple employees are also making quiet contributions and have increased donations to refugee relief funds, which the company plans to match on a 2-to-1 basis, Cook said. [...]

Apple has not yet decided whether to follow suit with its own legal option. Cook declined to comment on the matter, telling the WSJ that "we want to be constructive and productive."

Apple Still Acquires 15-20 Companies Per Year, Cook Says No Size Is Too Large To Consider, by Mike Wuerthele, AppleInsider

"There's not a size that we would not do, based on just the size of it," said Cook. "It's more of the strategic value of it."

Cook stopped short of discussing potential avenues of acquisition for the company, saying that "we are always looking at acquisitions." Apple has purchased between 15 and 20 companies per year, for the last four years.

Tim Cook Says Apple Had ‘No Choice’ But To Sue Qualcomm, by Lauren Goode, The Verge

“You should take from our filing that we viewed it as, we didn’t see another way forward,” Cook said in response to an analyst’s question about the high-profile lawsuit. “[Qualcomm was] insisting on charging royalties for technologies that they had nothing to do with,” he said, claiming that as Apple innovated with new features like its TouchID fingerprint sensors or advanced displays and cameras, Qualcomm would collect money “for no reason.”

Apple CEO Tim Cook: 'The World Needs The US And China To Win', by Matt Rosoff, CNBC

"We need more jobs," Cook told CNBC's Josh Lipton. "Everyone needs to do their fair share. We can do that without trade wars."

Photo Shoot

Shooting With The iPhone In Antarctica, by John Bozinov, Petapixel

Antarctica is the coldest, driest, and windiest continent on the planet, but despite its hostility and isolation, it is home to some of the most incredible wildlife seen anywhere on Earth, making it a paradise for nature photographers like myself.

When I learned that I would be spending two months down in the the region of the Antarctic Peninsula at the end of 2016, I knew it would be a great opportunity to shoot a photography project where I could capture the Antarctic landscape in a unique way.

Stuff

Linea: An Elegant Sketching App For The iPad From The Iconfactory, by John Voorhees, MacStories

Drawing and sketching apps present difficult interface challenges. On the one hand, they should maximize the space reserved for their intended use – drawing. On the other, they need to include sufficient tools for users to create what they envision. It’s a balance that many apps get wrong. Some are too simple, forcing too many constraints on users, while others are horribly complicated and intimidating to new users. Linea, a new sketching app for the iPad from The Iconfactory, is exceptional because it manages an ease-of-use and approachability that is rare while maintaining just the right set of tools.

Krita Is A Fast, Flexible, And Free Photoshop Alternative Built By Artists, by Alan Henry, Lifehacker

If you’re on the lookout for a digital painting tool and Photoshop is too expensive, Krita is a fast, free, and open source art tool that was developed by artists looking for something that met their needs without a ton of bloat or overhead. Plus, it’s completely cross-platform.

How To Make Electricity (For iPad), by Tony Hoffman, PC Magazine

How to Make Electricity is a fun, interactive way to teach children about electricity and its generation. With a bit of supervision (provided in the Parents Zone section), kids can actually create some of the batteries they experimented with virtually in the labs, as well as embark on other simple projects. If you have a scientifically minded youngster, this app is a safe introduction to electricity (as opposed to my early exploration, which included an "experiment" involving a paper clip, magnet, and wall outlet).

LookUp — The Elegant Dictionary App Comes To The iPad, by Preshit Deorukhkar, Beautiful Pixels

The app makes great use of the bigger screen estate and the custom graphics attached to the words are especially great to look at. It also supports keyboard shortcuts, so you can look something up or navigate around with ease.

LG UltraFine 5K Display, Apple’s External Monitor Solution, Can Become Unusable When Used Near A Router, by Zac Hall, 9to5Mac

LG UltraFine 5K Display has a critical usability issue, however, that doesn’t affect other external monitors: the hardware can become unusable when used within 2 meters of a router.

Develop

Chrome For iOS Open-Sourced, by John Voorhees, MacStories

Google announced that Chrome for iOS has rejoined Chromium and been added to the open-source repository.

Notes

‘It’s Tricky’: Apple Has Missed The Deadline To Pay $13.9 Billion To Ireland In Illegal Tax Benefits, by Arjun Kharpal, CNBC

Apple has not fully paid the 13 billion euros ($13.9 billion) it owes to Ireland in illegal tax benefits even though the deadline has passed, the European Union's competition said on Tuesday.

"Well the recovery is not done yet but we have been working with the Irish authorizes and we can see that they are moving forward to do the recovery of the unpaid taxes," EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said during a press conference in response to a question by CNBC.

How I Beat My Browser Tab Addiction, by McKenzie Maxson, Tonic

I still keep my computer on, and I still use tabs. But this morning, with the experiment behind me, I sat down at my computer to see just just four tabs in my browser. Just four. That's just barely above the average. I'll call it progress.

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We all will just have to work harder.

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Thanks for reading.