The Tracking-AirPods Edition Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Apple Releases iOS 10.3 With Find My AirPods, Standardized In-App Review Prompts, And Other Improvements, by Ryan Christoffel, MacStories

When AirPods were first released last December, one of the primary concerns voiced around the internet was that the earbuds would be too easy to lose. Tracking AirPods via the Find My iPhone app seemed like a no-brainer solution, but that option was not available at AirPods' launch. Fortunately, the option to track Apple's wireless earbuds is available with iOS 10.3. [...]

Selecting AirPods then the 'Actions' button will present two options. By tapping the car icon you'll receive navigation options in Maps to take you to the AirPods' location. Tapping the 'Play Sound' button will cause a light dinging sound to emit from the AirPods; gradually this sound grows louder until it reaches max volume. Though the sound cannot get as loud as that of devices with more powerful speaker systems, like the iPhone, it does get loud enough that if you're in the same general area as the missing AirPods, you should be able to find them.

A Tour Of iOS 10.3: Checking Out APFS, The Settings App, And Other Tweaks, by Andrew Cunningham, Ars Technica

The most obvious of the changes moves the iCloud settings screen from about halfway down to the list to its own prominent position at the top of the stack. There isn’t a ton of stuff here that doesn’t already exist in iOS 10.2.1, but given that the first thing most people do with their iPhones and iPads is sign into their iCloud accounts, it makes sense to move this stuff front-and-center.

Particularly useful is a big “Password & Security” section right at the top of the new screen, which lets you change your iCloud password and set up two-factor authentication. This was available before, it was just buried in a non-obvious place (go to the iCloud settings page, then tap your Apple ID, then tap Password & Security).


We've been tracking this one for a while now, but iOS 10.3 is ramping up the warnings about old unmaintained (read: 32-bit) apps that may not work in future versions of the software (read: probably iOS 11, which is also likely to drop support for the last of the 32-bit iOS hardware). Dive into Settings, then General, then About, and tap the Applications text and you’ll see a complete list of apps.

Apple Is Upgrading Millions Of iOS Devices To A New Modern File System Today, by Tom Warren, The Verge

As APFS is designed to be low latency, this should also improve read and write speeds on iOS or Mac devices. Apple demonstrated this during WWDC last year with a Mac, showing how APFS saved time on a simple file copy compared to HFS+. Most iPhone and iPad users won’t notice a difference after today’s iOS 10.3 update, but there could be a boost to storage levels for some. Beta testers of iOS 10.3 reported seeing more storage available after the update, primarily due to the way APFS calculates available data.

More Updates From Apple - Operating Systems

macOS 10.12.4 Update Brings Night Shift To The Mac And Not Much Else, by Andrew Cunningham, Ars Technica

On Android, Windows, and macOS, the feature is arguably less necessary, since third-party apps like f.lux can fill the gap. Still, it's convenient to have it integrated into the OS itself and officially supported by the companies, if only because it will prevent the feature from breaking when new updates come out.

Comparing Night Shift And F.lux, by Stephen Hackett, 512 Pixels

At first glance, f.lux and Night Shift offer pretty similar options. However, f.lux generally gives deeper customization options.

Apple Releases watchOS 3.2 With Theater Mode And SiriKit, by Juli Clover, 9to5Mac

watchOS 3.2 introduces Theater Mode, which is designed to let Apple Watch owners mute the sound on their device and disable Raise to Wake, preventing the screen from lighting up with arm movement.

More Updates From Apple - Apps & Tools

Pages, Numbers, & Keynote For Mac And iOS Add Editing Features & Touch ID For Password Protected Docs, by Greg Barbosa, 9to5Mac

The updates today include the ability to open password-protected documents using Touch ID on the new MacBook Pro and iPhones, alongside new editing features for all the applications.

Apple TV Remote App Updated With iPad Support And Now Playing Controls, by Ryan Christoffel, MacStories

Now an iPad can be used in place of a Siri Remote to control the fourth-generation Apple TV. The iPad app includes full support for Split View, a welcome touch. And thanks to the additional screen real estate, you can move the button panel left and right along the bottom of the screen to keep it in your preferred spot.

Classroom Activities

New Classroom Concept Allows Hands-on Application Of Learning, by Rebecca R. Bibbs, The Herald Bulletin

They are hands-on labs with grade-level activities that support the standards-based theory learned in the classroom, Dunham said. For instance, fourth-graders are directed toward circuits and magnets while fifth-graders focus on film and editing.

“It makes it real life so it’s not just textbook. Critical thinking sometimes is the last standard we address in the classroom,” she said.

Dunham said an important element of the makerspace is student creativity. Some students, she said, were slow to engage because there are no step-by-step instructions for most activities as there are for classroom assignments.

Apple Releases Classroom iPad App Version 2.0 W/ Ability To Manually Create Classes & More, by Jordan Kahn, 9to5Mac

Version 2 of the app brings a number of new features including the ability to create classes within the app and invite nearby students. That means that it will no longer require a Mobile Device Management setup to configure classes, making it easier for smaller organizations without IT assistance to use the app.

Developer Updates

Ahead Of WWDC 2017, Apple Releases Swift 3.1 As Part Of Xcode 8.3, by Greg Barbosa, 9to5Mac

Following last year’s Swift 3.0 release, Apple has officially released Swift 3.1 today with Xcode 8.3. Now that Swift has hit its first major point release in third iteration, the team will be putting their focus onto Swift 4.

Apple Will Not Tolerate Harassment At Its Developer Conference This Year, by Mike Murphy, Quartz

Registration for Apple’s annual developer conference, WWDC, opened today. And for the thousands of developers, engineers, and Apple acolytes hoping to spend $1,600 on a ticket and attend in June, they’ll find a new code of conduct that they’ll have to agree to before they can step foot in the convention.

The new policy, found on the conference’s registration page, goes into some depth about what sorts of behavior will not be tolerated at the conference. “Apple is committed to diversity and to providing a harassment-free conference experience for everyone,” it states. It also specifically lists what harassment could entail.

Apple Details New App Store Ratings And Review Responses On iOS 10.3 For Developers, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

First, the company says that the API allows customers to provide App Store ratings and reviews without leaving a developer’s app. [...] Apple also offered more details on support for developers replying to reviews.

Supplier Updates

Here's How Apple Is Doing On Conflict Minerals, by Caroline O'Donovan, BuzzFeed

In an interview on Friday, Paula Pyers, Apple's senior director of supply chain social responsibility, told BuzzFeed News that 2016 was the company's best year on record in terms of improvements in the supply chain. Apple conducted 705 assessments of its supply chain in 2016 and removed three suppliers for failing to meet its standards on labor and human rights, environmental standards, and health and safety. (Apple conducted 574 such assessments in 2015.) Separately, in 2016 Apple audited and booted from its supply chain 22 smelters of conflict minerals. [...]

“We're going to continue to do what we're doing," Pyers said. "We're going to continue to press for third-party audits. We've already put that message out to our smelter partners earlier this year. We're going to continue running the program we run today. We're going to continue looking beyond audits to incident reports on the ground, and in the case of cobalt, working on the ground level. We'll continue to call for collective action because we truly believe, whether it's regulated or self-regulated, this is the way business should be run, and the way we'll continue to run our business.”

Apple Says It Found One Underage Worker Building Apple Products Last Year, by Kif Leswing, Business Insider

Only one of those violations was for an underage worker, who was “a 15½-year-old” at the time of the discovery. The legal working age in China is 16.

Apple required the supplier that hired the child worker to “continue paying their wages while also providing an educational opportunity” and provide him “safe passage” home.

When the underage worker turns 16, the factory this person worked at will be required to provide a job offer, Apple said.

Security Matters

Ransomware Scammers Exploited Safari Bug To Extort Porn-viewing iOS Users, by Dan Goodin, Ars Technica

Ransomware scammers have been exploiting a flaw in Apple's Mobile Safari browser in a campaign to extort fees from uninformed users. The scammers particularly target those who viewed porn or other controversial content. Apple patched the vulnerability on Monday with the release of iOS version 10.3. [...]

Recovering from the pop-up loop was as easy as going into the device settings and clearing the browser cache. This simple fix was possibly lost on some uninformed targets who were too uncomfortable to ask for outside help.


Beats X Review: The Cheapest Alternative To Noise Cancelling Wireless Earbuds, by Serenity Caldwell, iMore

But the Beats X's flat rubber cord is surprisingly comfortable, minus the occasional microphonic "scratch sound" issue when laying against the couch. Two equally-sized battery packs weight the cord to your collarbone, allowing the buds themselves to arc forward of your face into your ears. In a perfect world, of course, those battery packs would be inside the Beats X earbuds themselves and there'd be no cord at all, but this works as an effective in-between while Apple perfects battery miniaturization technology.

The two earbud cords aren't completely symmetrical: The one on the left has a full play/pause/skip/volume remote. It doesn't add any measurable weight to the cord, but it does let you have vastly more control over your music than the tap-controlled AirPods.

Creep Out A Stranger With These Adorably Weird AirDrop Cards, by Natt Garun, The Verge

If you have trouble coming up with the perfect troll image to share, now you can look to AirDrop Cards for suggestions. The site, created as a hack project by Australia-based Apple accessories company Proper, lets you choose from a selection of premade cards to easily share with unsuspecting strangers.


How To Build A Button, by Michael Lopp, Rands In Repose

In the history of keyboards, I have never been as inept as I’ve been with the Touch Bar keyboard. I’ve been finishing this piece for the last hour and I’ve been keeping track of the number of times I’ve accidentally hit a Touch Bar button, and that number is nine. The total number for this article is likely 5x the number.

Developers were the ones who originally raged on the Touch Bar because it contained one of their most frequently used keys – the escape key. The absence of the clear feedback of a physical key press is a violation of perhaps the most important word in my definition we have not explored “efficiency.”

The Touch Bar is gorgeous but is inefficient.

What Apple’s Purchase Of Workflow Means For Automation, by Josh Centers, TidBITS

The challenge Apple events face in iOS is the tension between scriptability and security — the kind of hooks that are necessary for scriptability can be used as an attack vector unless the system has been designed carefully to avoid that. The Apple event system on the Mac treads that line by operating at the user level; to avoid being exploited, any iOS approach would likely have to be similar or even more restrictive.


Since the beginning, iOS has shared a common core with macOS. Over time, the two platforms have traded capabilities — usually new features developed on iOS going “back to the Mac.” In the case of scripting, it would make more sense for Apple to move the Apple event model to iOS, likely in a restricted way, than to come up with something completely new for iOS that would then need to be evangelized to all Mac developers in the other direction.

The question is how closely the iOS system will match up with the Apple events that Mac automation relies on now. If Apple were to start supporting a subset of Apple events in iOS, giving users access in iOS via Workflow and Swift, it would be easy to imagine Workflow coming to the Mac to replace or supplement Automator (Swift is obviously already available for Mac users).

Bottom of the Page

My first feature request for that new team in Apple: Siri for Workflow.

(Or do I want Workflow for Siri?)


Thanks for reading.