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.


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.


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.


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."