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Archive for December 2017

The Burst-Mode Edition Sunday, December 17, 2017

How I Shot A Rock Concert On The iPhone X, by Andrew Hoyle, CNET

The crowd roared as the band came out on stage, but the lights remained extremely low. That built drama for the audience, but it ruined any opportunity I had to get shots. As opening song "Technology" kicked in -- deafening me instantly as I was right in front of a giant speaker -- the stage lights burst into action. While the spotlights lit up the performers, the lights were erratic -- swooping around the stage and strobing on and off. I needed the light to remain on the faces long enough to get a clean shot, but the window of opportunity was sometimes there for less than a second.

The solution? Burst mode. By holding my finger on the shutter button, I could take multiple shots per second. All it takes is a second for singer Rob Damiani's face to catch the light as the beam speeds past him. In those instant moments, I could only hope I was getting the shot -- after the show I was able to go through the burst captures and select the shot where the light was just right.

The Technology Industry Needs To Think More Seriously About Device Addiction, by Ben Schippers, TechCrunch

Offtime, Moment and Space are providing services that stop, track and examine your usage. While a worthy development, the code to crack for these early systems will be to educate users in a way that doesn’t make them feel bad about their usage and subsequently delete the app. The long term solution is likely an integrated approach – blending hardware and software, something that really hasn’t been done yet.

With an integrated hardware and software approach, we need to start by defining our own self management strategies (or even recognize that we need one). But there is a much larger opportunity in reimagining the home as a starting point for parents, their children and the education process of device addiction.

Apple Has A History Of Choosing Cash Over Startups, by Joanna Glasner, TechCrunch

U.S. lawmakers appear close to passing a tax bill that will make it cheaper for companies to repatriate money currently held overseas. That could potentially provide a bigger domestic cash stash for Apple to buy American companies.

[...]

So will 2018 be the year when Apple finally goes on a buying binge worthy of its massive cash holdings? While it seems compelling for many reasons to say yes, one also can’t help note that Apple didn’t accumulate that stockpile by being excessively spendy. And so far, it hasn’t needed a lot of pricey startup purchases to maintain its place as the world’s most valuable public technology company.

Stuff

Automate Your Holiday Lights With Siri And HomeKit!, by Mikah Sargent, iMore

If you decorate your home for the holidays, you can make things a little more futuristic and a lot more interesting by adding some HomeKit enabled devices to the mix!

That way you can ask Siri to turn off your tree, power down your inflatable reindeer, and shut down the red and green yard lights.

The Save-Lives Edition Saturday, December 16, 2017

How Apple Watch Saved One Man’s Life — And How It’s Empowering Him After His Heart Attacz, by Zac Hall, 9to5Mac

“He said had I kept sleeping, I probably wouldn’t have woken up. I would have died in my sleep.”

This especially struck me personally because my grandfather died at 55 from a heart attack in the middle of the night — 13 years before the Apple Watch existed. Now, this technology is accessible for a few hundred dollars and can actually save lives.

T2-equipped iMac Pro May Need To Be DFU Restored Like iPhones And iPads In Certain Situations, by Michael Potuck, 9to5Mac

It was recently discovered in a support document for Apple Configurator 2 that the iMac Pro may become unresponsive and will need to be restored in certain situations like a power failure during an update.

How To Restore Your iMac Pro, by Joseph Keller, iMore

First things first, you're going to need access to a second Mac running the latest version of macOS High Sierra, as well as Apple Configurator 2.6, Apple's device management software.

iTunes Won't Be In The Microsoft Store This Year, by Mary Jo Foley, ZDNet

"We have been working with Microsoft to deliver the full iTunes experience to our customers and we need a little more time to get it right," said an Apple spokesperson via an emailed statement.

Apple Orders Ronald D. Moore Space Drama Series, by Nellie Andreeva, Deadline

Ronald D. Moore is heading back to space. Apple has given a straight-to-series order to a space drama from the Battlestar Galactica developer. The untitled project hails from Sony Pictures Television and Moore’s studio-based Tall Ship Productions.

Created and written by Moore, along with Fargo co-executive producers Matt Wolpert and Ben Nedivi, the untitled series explores what would have happened if the global space race had never ended.

More Exclusive Apple Music Content Coming From Noel Gallagher And Sam Smith, by Noah Stahl, 9to5Mac

Apple announced today via its YouTube channel that it is bringing more original live music video content to Apple Music. Musician centered documentaries and concert films have become an Apple Music staple and Noel Gallagher is the latest artist to join the ever-growing list of featured artists.

Stuff

Why Lightroom CC Is A Big Step Up From Apple’s Photos, by Jeff Carlson, TidBITS

So what does Lightroom CC bring to the game for someone taking stock of their photo system? I see two main areas that are appealing: the capability to perform local adjustments within an image and the way Adobe has built the cloud synchronization.

Develop

Apple's New Utility Library Will Power Up Command-line Apps, by Paul Hudson, Hacking With Swift

Apple has unveiled a new collection of open-source utility code for Swift developers, grown out of its Swift Package Manager project. The collection contains some interesting new data types (OrderedSet – hurray!), some tools to make command line programs easier to write, and some helpers for common tasks like temporary files and SHA hashing.

Notes

Google Thinks I’m Dead, by Rachel Abrams, New York Times

I’m not dead yet.

But try telling that to Google.

For much of the last week, I have been trying to persuade the world’s most powerful search engine to remove my photo from biographical details that belong to someone else. A search for “Rachel Abrams” revealed that Google had mashed my picture from The New York Times’s website with the Wikipedia entry for a better-known writer with the same name, who died in 2013.

The Regarding-Upgradability Edition Friday, December 15, 2017

iMac Pro: The First Shoe Drops, by Jason Snell, Six Colors

If Apple hadn’t announced it was bringing back the Mac Pro earlier this year, this would be a bigger deal; all the weight of expectations of Apple’s high-end user base would be crashing down on the iMac Pro. Instead, the iMac Pro is just the first shoe to drop in a revitalization of Apple’s pro Mac desktop line.

That’s good, because the iMac Pro doesn’t have a lot of features that many people will still wish for in a Mac Pro, mostly regarding upgradability.

iMac Pro's RAM Can Only Be Upgraded By Apple Or Authorized Service Provider, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

There is no rear hatch because the RAM in the iMac Pro is not user upgradeable following purchase, but there's good news -- an Apple Store or an Apple Authorized Service Provider is able to open up the iMac Pro and swap out the RAM.

The Sound Of Music, by Horace Dediu, Asymco

Business models for music will come and go but music consumption is increasing. Access to the long tail has meant genres proliferated and production has spread to everyone who cares to try to make music.

[...]

Apple realizes this and the acquisition of Shazam and the launch of EarPods and of HomePod are to serve music.

Congress Must Act On The ‘Dreamers’, by Tim Cook and Charles Koch, Washington Post

The United States is at its best when all people are free to pursue their dreams. Our country has enjoyed unparalleled success by welcoming people from around the world who seek to make a better life for themselves and their families, no matter what their backgrounds. It is our differences that help us to learn from each other, to challenge our old ways of thinking and to discover innovative solutions that benefit us all. To advance that prosperity and build an even stronger future, each successive generation — including, today, our own — must show the courage to embrace that diversity and to do what is right.

We have no illusions about how difficult it can be to get things done in Washington, and we know that people of good faith disagree about aspects of immigration policy. If ever there were an occasion to come together to help people improve their lives, this is it. By acting now to ensure that dreamers can realize their potential by continuing to contribute to our country, Congress can reaffirm this essential American ideal.

Stuff

Apple Is Finally Selling Its Own Thunderbolt 3 USB-C Cables, by Chaim Gartenberg, The Verge

It’s a 0.8 meter (2.62 feet) USB-C to USB-C cable, and it can transfer data at up to 40 Gbps while charging at up to 100W. It costs $39, or twice what Apple’s two meter long cable that it includes with its laptops goes for.

Logic Pro X Updated To Take Advantage Of High Core Counts In The iMac Pro, Future Mac Pro, by Malcolm Owen, AppleInsider

According to the release notes, the latest iteration is capable of supporting up to 36 cores, more than double the core count offered by the 18-core model offered in the current iMac Pro range.

Apple Pay Promotion Launched, Granting $5 iTunes Gift Card For Some Online Shoppers, by Mike Wuerthele, AppleInsider

To celebrate the holiday season, and boost Apple Pay adoption, Apple has launched a promotion with select vendors that will award online purchasers that use the payment service a $5 App Store and iTunes gift card.

Ode To The Mac Mini: Craving An Update For Apple's Little Box That Can Do It All, by David Gewirtz, ZDNet

Unlike all the other Macs Apple offers, the Mac mini doesn't require you to conform to Apple's view of what a screen should be. This is important, because we tend to hang our screens on monitor arms and stands, and sometimes use very big screens.

Seeing AI App To ‘Narrate The World To Blind People’ Gets Handwriting Recognition And More, by Ben Lovejoy, 9to5Mac

Version 1 already had some amazing capabilities, including recognizing friends, guessing the emotions of people from their facial expressions, reading printed text and identifying products from their bar-codes. But version 2 adds four new capabilities.

Dropbox Paper Update Brings Refreshed UI, Enhanced Editing, And More To iOS, by Michael Potuck, 9to5Mac

Dropbox Paper is the company’s collaborative focused software for teams and businesses. [...] Today’s update brings updates to the UI, editing capabilities, to-do functionality, and calendar integration.

Nail The Guitar Sound Of Any Song With Tonebridge, by Charlie Sorrel, Cult of Mac

The iPad has many, many amazing effects apps for making music, and several high-level apps just for emulating guitar amplifiers and effects pedals. But what if you just want to plug in and play a song, and have your guitar sound just like the one on the record? That’s exactly what Tonebridge is for. Under the hood, this simulator app is as powerful as the others, but it’s way, way simpler to use.

Amazon To Start Selling Apple TV And Google Chromecast, by Ben Fox Rubin, CNET

"I can confirm that we are assorting Apple TV and Chromecast," an Amazon spokeswoman told CNET on Thursday, referring to the company's plans to stock up on the devices. She offered no further statements.

Develop

Apple Launches Its Podcast Analytics Service Into Beta,. by Sarah Perez, TechCrunch

At WWDC this year, Apple announced it would soon offer its own podcast analytics service for show creators who publish on iTunes. Today, that service has launched into beta, offering podcasters the ability to track unique devices and playback metrics for their podcasts, including when listeners drop off in the middle of a show.

Bottom of the Page

The Home screen of the latest iOS can, sometimes, be lacking in responsivness.

Sometimes, especially when I first wake up my iPhone, tapping on a folder does not open the folder immediately. So I thought something was wrong with my finger and I tap again. Which then iOS will open the folder -- responding to the first tap, and then immediately close the folder back up -- responding to the second tap.

And sometimes, the haptic feedback is mising when I do a 3D touch. The 3D touch was successfully execute, sans the vibration that makes me feel I am doing a 3D touch.

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Thanks for reading.

The Pro-Or-Not Edition Thursday, December 14, 2017

The iMac Pro Is Now Available—here’s How People Are Already Using It, by Samuel Axon, Ars Technica

The previously mentioned T2 chip doesn’t just do things like image and audio processing; it offers a dedicated encryption engine for the machine’s flash storage. There is a Secure Enclave processor which manages security keys. Additionally, Apple offers a secure boot feature in which the T2 chip validates the boot loader, the boot loader validates the firmware, the firmware validates the kernel, and the kernel validates the drivers. Apple wants end-to-end security, and on-the-fly encryption, and it’s all rooted in the T2 chip, without hitting the CPU. You’ll be able to turn this security on or off, or use a medium setting for developer use cases.

[...]

Six third-party developers of professional-use software have demonstrated how they're supporting or using the iMac Pro. In some cases, it was just about better performance. In others, they claimed new features or capabilities were possible because the Mac spec ceiling is so much higher now. Unfortunately, we were not provided hard benchmarks in any case. Instead, we saw live demos by the developers and heard their anecdotal reports of performance. We'll have to wait until a future review to do objective benchmarks.

Should You Buy An iMac Pro? Here Are The Reasons Why And Why Not, by Jason Snell, Macworld

There’s a lot to be said for the iMac Pro. It’s the first Mac with workstation-level processors with a plethora of processor cores (8 and up!) since the Mac Pro in 2013. The Radeon Pro Vega is the most powerful graphic processor ever in a Mac.

If you’re someone who uses a 5K iMac to get work done today, should you consider buying the iMac Pro or not? Here’s a list of reasons why you should--and also a few reasons you might want to keep that credit card in your pocket.

Hands-on: Final Cut Pro 10.4 Adds 360 VR, Advanced Color Grading, HDR Support, And More, by Jeff Benjamin, 9to5Mac

Although this latest Final Cut Pro X update brings it to version 10.4, don’t be fooled into thinking it contains only minor features or bug fixes. On the contrary, Final Cut Pro 10.4 contains several new major features and/or enhancements, along with a slew of other additions, making this one of the biggest releases in the app’s six-and-a-half year history.

After visiting with Apple in New York for a demonstration of the update, we’ve been testing Final Cut Pro 10.4 to learn all about what’s changed. In this hands-on post and high-level video walkthrough, we showcase many of the newest changes and features, including 360° video editing, enhanced color grading, HDR updates, iMovie for iOS support, HEVC, custom LUTs, and more.

iOS 11.2.1 And tvOS 11.2.1 Are Now Available, Update Restores HomeKit Sharing Following Vulnerability Fix, by Zac Hall, 9to5Mac

The software update restores remote access in HomeKit for shared users which was temporarily disabled last week to address a vulnerability in Apple’s smart home framework that allowed unauthorized access in certain circumstances. Apple has also released tvOS 11.2.1 which is likely related to the fix.

Apple Has A $1 Billion Fund For US Manufacturers, But It's Ready To Spend More, Says COO Jeff Williams, by Sara Salinas, CNBC

"We're not thinking in terms of a fund limit," Williams said. "We're thinking about, where are the opportunities across the U.S. to help nurture companies that are making the advanced technology — and the advanced manufacturing that goes with that — that quite frankly is essential to our innovation."

Stuff

iOS 11 Indoor Maps Feature Now Available At More Than 40 Airports And Malls, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

Apple today began listing indoor maps for malls and airports on its iOS 11 feature availability page, giving us a clear picture of exactly where the indoor mapping feature is available for the first time.

Bear 1.4 Brings Tag And Note Autocomplete, True Black Theme For iPhone X, And More, by Federico Viticci, MacStories

The marquee addition to Bear 1.4 is autocomplete, which is most notable when adding tags to a note. Now, instead of remembering which tags you've already added to your notes in Bear, you can start typing a pound sign and the first letter of a tag, and Bear will show you an inline popup with tag suggestions. Tap one, and the tag immediately gets added to the note without typing it in full. This not only simplifies how you can organize your notes with tags, but it also ensures you always use consistent tag names as you won't end up with duplicates.

Twitterrific For iOS Adds Black Theme, Dynamic Type, Temporary Muffles, Poll Support, And More, by John Voorhees, MacStories

Muffles, which are rules that partially hide tweets from your timeline, can be temporarily disabled now. Previously, the only way to deactivate a Muffle was to delete it.

Notes

Disney Is Buying Most Of 21st Century Fox For $52.4 Billion, by Hadas Gold and Charles Riley, CNN

In addition to 21st Century Fox's movie studio and regional sports networks, Disney is buying cable channels FX and National Geographic. Disney will also get Fox's stakes in Hulu and European pay-TV provider Sky.

[...]

The deal allows Disney to expand its content, especially for streaming services. In addition to a majority stake in Hulu that it will have once the deal closes, Disney is preparing to launch two separate streaming services, one for sports and another focusing on entertainment. And it is pulling its content from Netflix in preparation for the launch.

Bottom of the Page

Is Lisa Simpsons the next Disney Princess?

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Thanks for reading.

The iMac-Goes-Pro Edition Wednesday, December 13, 2017

iMac Pro, Apple’s Most Powerful Mac, Will Be Available To Order December 14, by Jeff Benjamin, 9to5Mac

The 14- and 18-core iMac Pro won’t be available until later in 2018, but the 8- and 10-core variants will be available for order on December 14th. The 14-core iMac Pro wasn’t known about until today, but it makes sense considering that Intel’s 14-Core W-class Xeon processor is already a part of its existing lineup.

Hands On With The New Apple Pro Lineup, by Mike Seymour, Fxguide

What the iMac lacks such as Nvidia graphics options, upgradability, expansion and user upgradeable hardware plus a wider gamut stand alone monitor, we can only hope, will be the hallmarks of the unreleased Mac Pro.

But if I had to have clients in a room editing, I would move heaven and earth to have this machine in the room. For cool, effortless editing of modern 4K material, - faithfully and quickly, this is a near perfect machine.

Perhaps the most important thing about the iMac Pro, is what was promised. Not only do the developer and creative communities hunger for a fast Pro iMac, but it is even more keen to see Apple hold to Phil Schiller's promises of re-committing to the developer community.

2017 iMac Pro Review, by Craig A. Hunter

I tend to do most of my engineering and CFD-related software development working in a terminal with C and Fortran compilers, but for my iOS and Mac app development work I spend a lot of time in Xcode. A lot. A few weeks ago I was debugging an especially nasty MapKit tile rendering bug while racing to get my augmented reality app Theodolite ready for iPhone X, and I am pretty sure I clicked Xcode’s build/run button thousands of times over a couple days (at least it felt that way). When you get into an intense development or debug cycle that involves a lot of compiles, saving fractions of seconds here and there adds up and can give you extra hours in a day. This is one area where the 10-core iMac Pro shines when combined with Xcode’s ability to automatically take advantage of multiple cores to compile multiple source files simultaneously.

Most of my apps have around 20,000-30,000 lines of code spread out over 80-120 source files (mostly Obj-C and C with a teeny amount of Swift mixed in). There are so many variables that go into compile performance that it’s hard to come up with a benchmark that is universally relevant, so I’ll simply note that I saw reductions in compile time of between 30-60% while working on apps when I compared the iMac Pro to my 2016 MacBook Pro and 2013 iMac. If you’re developing for iOS you’ll still be subject to the bottleneck of installing and launching an app on the simulator or a device, but when developing for the Mac this makes a pretty noticeable improvement in repetitive code-compile-test cycles.

Apple’s New iMacPro Has An Impressive 200%-300% Speed Bump., by Vincent Laforet

I found a very consistent set of results: a 2X to 3X boost in speed (relative to my current iMac and MacBook Pro 15”) a noticeable leap from most generational jumps that are generally ten times smaller.

Whether you’re editing 8K RED video, H.264 4K Drone footage, 6K 3D VR content or 50 Megapixel RAW stills – you can expect a 200-300% increase in performance in almost every industry leading software with the iMac Pro.

Healthy Me

This New Meditation App Is Geared Toward Millennials, by Meredith Deliso, AM New York

"We’re a resource for people in-between therapy sessions that’s low-cost and on-the-go. We need as many tools as we can to work on our well-being, especially preventive. How can we help people more preventively to focus on their mental health and get an on-the-go solution that works for their world? That’s how we see it."

Workouts++ Adds Podcast Playback, Mapping, New Workout Types, Siri And More, by John Voorhees, MacStories

Almost a year ago, David Smith released Workouts++, an alternative to watchOS’ built-in Workout app that adds an iOS component to leverage the data collected during workouts. Today, Smith released version 2.0 of Workouts++ with a host of new features enabled by advances in the Apple Watch and Apple’s health and fitness APIs, including podcast playback, location tracking and mapping, support for new workout types, Siri integration, and more. On top of that, Workouts++ is now free with no In-App Purchases, advertising, or subscription.

Building Up Services

Apple Raids Hulu, Legendary To Fill Business Affairs Posts On Content Team, by Todd Spangler, Variety

Apple has hired two legal execs — Philip Matthys from Hulu and Jennifer Wang Grazier from Legendary Entertainment — for key business affairs roles on its expanding original entertainment team, Variety has learned.

Apple’s $400 Million Purchase Of Shazam: Lessons From A Wounded Unicorn, by Chris O'Brien, VentureBeat

That sale price has many seeing ominous signs for the stable of unicorns stuck with ungainly valuations above $1 billion. In a statement via email, Mark Tluszcz, CEO at Mangrove Capital Partners and chair of Wix.com, warned that the low sale price of Shazam should serve as a warning that a big correction is coming following a period of venture capital excess.

Corporate Directions

How Apple And Finisar Are Transforming The Future Of This Texas Town, by Apple

Finisar is the latest recipient of an award from Apple’s $1 billion Advanced Manufacturing Fund to support innovation and job creation by American manufacturers. The $390 million will allow Finisar to increase the production of vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs), which power some of Apple’s most popular new features. Face ID, Portrait mode selfies and Animoji all use VCSEL technology.

The End To Apple’s Cash Dilemma, by Neil Cybart, Above Avalon

An overhaul to the U.S. corporate tax means much more to Apple than just a different tax rate going forward. A territorial-based tax system will allow Apple to manage future cash generation much more efficiently. The days of Apple being stuck with too much cash in international subsidiaries are numbered. In addition, concerns surrounding Apple issuing too much debt will subside as the company will no longer need to rely on debt issuance to fund share buyback and quarterly cash dividend. These changes amount to a sustainable strategy for Apple to use when managing its massive balance sheet. There is finally light at the end of Apple's cash dilemma tunnel.

Stuff

Apple’s AiPort Firmware Puts The Whack On KRACK, by Dennis Sellers, Apple World Today

Apple has updated its updated its existing AirPort devices with firmware updates that patches vulnerabilities to KRACK attacks that allow a malicious hacker to bypass WPA2 encryption on Wi-Fi networks and make a user's data easy to view.

Cultured Code Releases ‘Mail To Things’, by Federico Viticci, MacStories

Mail to Things consists of an email address to forward messages to, which will become tasks in Things' inbox. Because the email address is unique to your account, you need to enable it from the app's Things Cloud settings pane, which will generate a personalized email address you can copy and save to your address book.

Djay Pro 2 Comes With AI That Can Mix Songs Together For You, by Dani Deahl, The Verge

The few things that prevented Djay Pro from being true crossover professional software have now been added with the new version. Djay Pro 2 comes with, among other changes, a revamped user interface and an advanced library management system and core updates that make the app more nimble to use for those with large libraries of music.

[...]

Watching Automix at work is wild. It will select the next song from your library that will best match with what’s currently playing, slowly fade over once it’s time to mix out, and even employ on-the-fly EQing and filters during the transition. It’s not perfect; there were several times I tried to “trick” the software by throwing it odd tempo changes or songs with little to no intro and the resulting mix was clunky. But in other instances it surprised me.

Hands-On With Djay Pro 2 For Mac's New AI-Driven DJ Mixing And Beat-Matched Photo Slideshows, by Eric Slivka, MacRumors

Overall, djay Pro 2 remains a feature-packed DJ app for the Mac, and Algoriddim continues to raise the bar by both adding new capabilities and making existing ones easier to use. There's still a bit of learning curve, but once you start to figure things out it becomes pretty intuitive. The feature set also scales with your experience, letting beginning DJs get familiar with the basics before moving on to more sophisticated skills.

Develop

How To Design For iPhone X (Without An iPhone X, by Sebastiaan de With, Halide

These are the realities of being in Apple’s ecosystem: we don’t get a lot of advance notice, nor do we get a test device to ensure our things work well. If you want to get ahead in a crowded market (like, ahem, camera apps) you have to take a risk: try to improvise and use some ingenuity to figure out if you can play to the strengths of a new device.

We were incredibly relieved to find that it worked well, and our attempts to embrace the limitations and quirks of the hardware were rewarded with great press coverage.

Bottom of the Page

It is not hard, to me, to imagine the new iMac Pro being conceived originally to replace the circular Mac Pro. After all, by going to all-in-one design for all products, Apple can eventually have the authentication sensors (be it Face ID or Touch ID), the secure enclave, and the CPU housed in a single unit that can be made as tamper-proof as possible.

Furthermore, a desktop computer that sits on a desk will make it easier to do Face ID (or Touch ID) than a desktop computer (like the previous Mac Pro) that sits underneath a desk. (Feet ID, anyone?) That may be the motivation for Apple to make the current Mac Pro to be that much smaller in foot-print.

But then again, why is Apple now making a new Mac Pro? Will the new Mac Pro be optimized differently, so much so that customers do not mind giving up on Face ID and Touch ID? (I don't think Apple will ever do a Touch ID that is on an external keyboard.)

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Thanks for reading.

The No-Small-Thing Edition Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Apple’s Phil Schiller On How The iPhone X 'Seemed Impossible At The Start', by Dan Grabham, T3

“Most people are comfortable with it within minutes – 30 minutes, whatever. It’s not the kind of thing you have to live with for a week or two to get used to. It doesn’t mean… you know, we’ve still got muscle memory sometimes and we might try to do something and we remember, ‘Oh no, that’s not how you do it’ - you want to swipe up on an iPhone 8 or 7, or on an iPad, and no, it doesn’t work that way. That, to me, is always the sign of some or our most advanced, best thought-out technology: they become intuitive incredibly quickly and change how you think about everything else you use.

Schiller acknowledges that Apple “knew what we had” with Touch ID and that it knew what it had created with the home button through the years. “We knew it was no small thing to decide to replace that.” He adds that Apple believed it could make something that people would love and would have bigger potential over time.

Nope, This Isn’t The HTTPS-validated Stripe Website You Think It Is, by Dan Goodin, Ars Technica

Researcher Ian Carroll filed the necessary paperwork to incorporate a business called Stripe Inc. He then used the legal entity to apply for an EV certificate to authenticate the Web page https://stripe.ian.sh/. When viewed in the address bar, the page looks eerily similar to https://stripe.com/, the online payments service that also authenticates itself using an EV certificate issued to Stripe Inc.

The demonstration is concerning because many security professionals counsel end users to look for EV certificates when trying to tell if a site such as https://www.paypal.com is an authentic Web property rather than a fly-by-night look-alike page that's out to steal passwords. But as Carroll's page shows, EV certs can also be used to trick end users into thinking a page has connections to a trusted service or business when in fact no such connection exists. The false impression can be especially convincing when end users use Apple's Safari browser because it often strips out the domain name in the address bar, leaving only the name of the legal entity that obtained the EV certificate.

Apple's Pushing Into Gyms With GymKit: What You Need To Know, by Scott Stein, CNET

GymKit, a feature built into WatchOS 4.1, enables seamless tap-to-connect tech. It's like CarPlay, but for fitness machines. Apple announced GymKit as a feature for Apple Watch back in June at its WWDC keynote, promising it would arrive this year. It's just now becoming available.

I tried it, and it's great. But it's only rolling out at one North American gym at the moment, in New York: Life Time Athletic at Sky. It's coming to Equinox as well in 2018.

The App That Reminds You You’re Going To Die, by Bianca Bosker, The Atlantic

Five times a day for the past three months, an app called WeCroak has been telling me I’m going to die. It does not mince words. It surprises me at unpredictable intervals, always with the same blunt message: “Don’t forget, you’re going to die.”

Sending these notices is WeCroak’s sole function. They arrive “at random times and at any moment just like death,” according to the app’s website, and are accompanied by a quote meant to encourage “contemplation, conscious breathing or meditation.” Though the quotes are not intended to induce nausea and despair, this is sometimes their effect. I’m eating lunch with my husband one afternoon when WeCroak presents a line from the Zen poet Gary Snyder: “The other side of the ‘sacred’ is the sight of your beloved in the underworld, dripping with maggots.”

For The Good Of Society — And Traffic! — Delete Your Map App, by Rick Paulas, New York Magazine

Pull up a simple Google search for “neighborhood” and “Waze,” and you’re bombarded with local news stories about similar once-calm side streets now the host of rush-hour jams and late-night speed demons. It’s not only annoying as hell, it’s a scenario ripe for accidents; among the top causes of accidents are driver distraction (say, by looking at an app), unfamiliarity with the street (say, because an app took you down a new side street), and an increase in overall traffic.

“The root cause is the use of routing apps,” says Bayen, “but over the last two to three years, there’s the second layer of ride-share apps.”

Apple And Wal-Mart Are Helping China Crack Down On Polluters, by Lulu Yilun Chen, Bloomberg

Ma Jun’s years as an environmental activist taught him one lesson: if you want factories to clean up their act, shaming them in front of Apple Inc. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. works better than government fines.

Ma’s strategy -- backed by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. -- is to scrape real-time data off government websites that compile readings from effluent monitoring equipment at some 13,000 of the worst water polluters. The data is then aggregated on an app called Blue Map.

Develop Everyone

Apple And Chicago Bring Coding Opportunities To City Students, by Apple

Apple today announced that it is working with the city of Chicago to bring coding opportunities to Chicago’s nearly 500,000 students through a citywide expansion of Apple’s Everyone Can Code program.

Starting this spring, Chicago Public Schools and City Colleges of Chicago will expand Everyone Can Code curriculum and materials to reach students citywide. For the first time, City Colleges of Chicago will offer the innovative App Development with Swift curriculum, helping students build skills around coding and app development.

Apple's Hour Of Code Workshops Delight Kids... Of All Ages!, by Rene Ritchie, iMore

Apple's been doing Hour of Code for a few of years now. Last year, the company introduced its Swift Playgrounds to the mix. With new and improved lessons to go with it, and the ability to control robots — yes, robots! — it makes the same kinds of code used to create next-generation iPhone, iPad, and Mac apps not just accessible to everyone, but relatable.

Every year I go to my local Apple Store to check out the Hour of Code sessions and I try to sit in on at least one. And every year, kids and adults alike began filing in a short time before the workshops began, their spaces reserved online over the course of the last week. Parents accompanied the younger children, helping them find stools around the large wooden tables. At one end, a TV set stands with the Hour of Code material displayed for the whole store to see.

Battery Performance

Apple's Alleged Throttling Of Older iPhones With Degraded Batteries Causes Controversy, by Tim Hardwick, MacRumors

A Reddit post has drawn a flurry of interest after an iPhone 6s owner reported that a battery replacement significantly increased the device's performance running iOS 11. The ensuing discussion thread, also picked up by readers in the MacRumors forum, has led to speculation that Apple intentionally slows down older phones to retain a full day's charge if the battery has degraded over time.

Why A New Battery Can Breathe New Life Into An Old iPhones, by Rene Ritchie, iMore

Apple has been addressing this in multiple ways, from systems-on-a-chip with both high-efficiency and high-performance cores, to machine learning-based power management. But lithium-ion batteries are lithium-ion batteries.

With older phones and those with poorer battery health, one of the ways seems to be prioritizing battery life over processor speed. That'll cause a hit to performance but still allows the iPhone to make it through the day.

Apple And Shazam

Apple Confirms Shazam Acquisition; Snap And Spotify Also Expressed Interest, by Ingrid Lunden, TechCrunch

Apple did not disclose the price but we have several sources that have confirmed to us that the deal is in the region of $400 million.

Sources also tell us that Apple’s deal had been in the works for about five months and came after Shazam had been in talks with others, including Snapchat and Spotify.

Apple Shazam: Why Is The US Company Buying The Music App?, by Leo Kelion, BBC

"Spotify has made the discovery of new music front and centre of what makes it a compelling proposition," said Mark Mulligan, from the consultancy Midia Research.

"Apple just doesn't have the same amount of data about listening tastes as Spotify, meaning it can't drive recommendations with as high a degree of accuracy and precision.

"Shazam essentially gives it a shortcut to having a massive database."

Corporate Directions

Apple Responds To Latest Report Claiming The iTunes Music Store Is Closing, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

The report explains that the move to phase out music downloads has been in place since 2016, but in a statement to 9to5Mac, Apple denies the report and simply says “it’s not true.”

Apple Donating $1M To Aid Southern California Areas Hit By Latest Wildfires, by Michael Potuck, 9to5Mac

Apple has released a statement today sharing that it will be donating $1 million towards relief efforts for ongoing Southern California wildfires.

Apple Aims To Block Climate, Rights Proposals With Quick Use Of SEC Guidance, by Ross Kerber, Reuters

In letters to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission last month, an attorney for the California computer maker argued at least four shareholder proposals relate to “ordinary business” and therefore can be left off the proxy Apple is expected to publish early next year, ahead of its annual meeting.

The attorney, Gene Levoff, cited guidance issued by the SEC on Nov. 1 saying that company boards are generally best positioned to decide if a resolution raises significant policy issues worth putting to a vote.

Stuff

Apple’s Latest iPhone X Ads Showcase Face ID, Portrait Lighting, More, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Apple is continuing its barrage of iPhone X advertisements today with three new ones hitting YouTube. The new videos each focus on a specific feature, including Portrait Lighting and Face ID.

Lightroom CC Adds Auto Settings Powered By Adobe Sensei, Watermarking Support, More, by Michael Steeber, 9to5Mac

Version 3.1.0 of Lightroom CC for iPad and iPhone both include intelligent new auto settings powered by Adobe’s machine learning technology, Sensei. Adobe says Sensei will analyze your photos and determine the best settings by cross referencing your image against tens of thousands of other professional shots.

Google’s Research Team Releases Two New Experimental Photo Apps For iOS, by Abner Li, 9to5Mac

The two new apps use such technologies like object recognition, person segmentation, stylization algorithms, and efficient image encoding/decoding.

Apple Pulls Fake Cryptocurrency App That Hit #3 On App Store Finance Charts, by Roger Fingas, AppleInsider

An impostor app pretending to belong to MyEtherWallet.com has been removed from the App Store, but not before it managed to secure an ad and climb to third place in the store's Finance category over the weekend.

Develop

Introductory App Subscription Pricing Coming To App Store, by Mikey Campbell, AppleInsider

Apple on Monday announced a new App Store feature that allows developers to offer discounted introductory pricing or limited-time free trials on auto-renewable app subscriptions, a move designed to help subscription-based apps draw in new customers.

Apple Announces Pre-order Support For New Apps In The App Store, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Developers can set release dates no more than 90 days in the future and no sooner than two days in the future. Of note, pre-orders are only supported for new applications, not existing apps.

Google Releases Tool That Helps Security Researchers Hack iOS Devices, by Mikey Campbell, AppleInsider

Google this week released a proof of concept tool that allows security researchers, and other developers, to hack into iOS 11.1.2, software that could lead to a jailbreak for devices running that OS version.

Created by noted iOS bug hunter Ian Beer, the tool released on Monday takes advantage of an exploit called "tfp0," which has since been patched in Apple's latest iOS 11.2 release.

Notes

AI-Assisted Fake Porn Is Here And We’re All Fucked, by Samantha Cole, Motherboard

There’s a video of Gal Gadot having sex with her stepbrother on the internet. But it’s not really Gadot’s body, and it’s barely her own face. It’s an approximation, face-swapped to look like she’s performing in an existing incest-themed porn video.

The video was created with a machine learning algorithm, using easily accessible materials and open-source code that anyone with a working knowledge of deep learning algorithms could put together.

The Well-Being Edition Monday, December 11, 2017

Apple Watch Relieves Cancer Patients Of A Major Burden, Study Finds, by Eileen Guo, Inverse

Traditionally, doctors use paper questionnaires to ask patients about their well-being, but these lengthy surveys can be burdensome for cancer patients to fill out and, on top of that, may be inaccurate. Wearable technology and emojis can make the self-reporting process easier, researchers announced this weekend in Atlanta at the American Society of Hematology’s annual meeting.

Researchers recruited 115 patients with two types of cancer (lymphoma or myeloma) and life expectancies of less than five years that also happened to own an iPhone5s. If selected for the study, they were given Apple Watches. Then, researchers used a special app to collect baseline health data — and to enable participants to use emojis to express their physical/emotional states through treatment. The study was created using Apple’s ResearchKit, described by Apple as a “software framework for apps that let medical researchers gather robust and meaningful data.”

Apple Let A Knockoff Version Of One Of The World’s Biggest Crypto Wallets Into The App Store, by Brian Heater, TechCrunch

An app masquerading as MyEtherWallet.com, one of the internet’s most popular services for storing ETH and other crypto coins, has made its way to the top of the iOS App Store charts.

The app rose to the number three spot in Finance category of the App Store this weekend as part of a bitcoin frenzy that saw bitcoin exchange Coinbase top Apple’s free download list in the U.S.. In this case, however, it is important to note this app is not official so users should avoid downloading it.

How Email Open Tracking Quietly Took Over The Web, by Brian Merchant, Wired

The tech is pretty simple. Tracking clients embed a line of code in the body of an email—usually in a 1x1 pixel image, so tiny it's invisible, but also in elements like hyperlinks and custom fonts. When a recipient opens the email, the tracking client recognizes that pixel has been downloaded, as well as where and on what device. Newsletter services, marketers, and advertisers have used the technique for years, to collect data about their open rates; major tech companies like Facebook and Twitter followed suit in their ongoing quest to profile and predict our behavior online.

But lately, a surprising—and growing—number of tracked emails are being sent not from corporations, but acquaintances. “We have been in touch with users that were tracked by their spouses, business partners, competitors,” says Florian Seroussi, the founder of OMC. “It's the wild, wild west out there.”

Stuff

iPhone X Third Impressions, by Jean-Louis Gassée, Monday Note

Apple’s Face ID isn’t perfect, but, in my experience, it’s more reliable than Touch ID. With Touch ID I’ve had to register and re-register fingers when prints stopped working and wet digits are never welcome. Yes, with Face ID I have to crane my neck when the phone is on the table and I must turn away from direct sunlight when I’m outside, but otherwise it works without ifs and buts. (I might re-do the Face ID setup to deal with the phone on the table situation so it recognizes the area below my chin, but I’m lazy: It works well enough and it successfully dealt with the black eye I earned in Maui’s breaking waves.)

More important, I saw how my spouse, a normal, non-geek user took to Face ID. Set up was much easier than Touch ID’s lengthy, detailed registering of fingers. As my spouse’s tech “chauffeur”, I hear about it when things fail to obey; I have yet to hear a discouraging word about Face ID.

Hands On: Keyboard Maestro 8.0.4 Speeds Up Working On Your Mac, by Mike Wuerthele and William Gallagher, AppleInsider

This is an app you need to know about because if it's right for you, it will transform how you use your Mac. It can radically transform it by turning complex jobs into a single keystroke. It can remove repetitive chores entirely and it can make sure you don't forget steps in a job you only do once a month. The new Keyboard Maestro 8 is an update that brings more features and more ways to combine these tools.

CorelCAD 2018 Arrives For Mac And Windows—iOS Version Coming Soon, by Anthony Frausto-Robledo, Architosh

CorelCAD 2018 offers dozens of new features, but important in this release is enhanced 3D solid modeling editing. Users can now save design time by utilizing enhanced EntityGrips and Properties palette. Also along the lines of 3D modeling is the new Helix tool, which allows users to create 2D spirals and 3D helixes. This new tool makes it simple for architects and designers to create objects like spiral staircases and the manufacturer of springs, screws, and bolts.

Notes

Robot Cars May Kill Jobs, But Will They Create Them Too?, by Carolyn Said, San Francisco Chronicle

“We will definitely need drivers for the foreseeable future,” Peter Gigante, head of policy research at Lyft, said at a November conference. Eventually, a driver’s role could become one of aiding passengers who need extra assistance, such as seniors and children, he said. “The concerns (about job loss) are understood and valid, but I don’t think this is an immediate issue that requires big actions right now; we have a lot of time to understand what the role of the driver will be.”

So what are those roles?

Just as no one predicted that the horseless carriage would engender millions of jobs in everything from highway construction to drive-through fast-food chains, it’s hard to imagine what the advent of self-driving vehicles might spawn. But there are some inklings.

Bottom of the Page

The problems that I face day-to-day are not problems that I will care about when I am on my deathbed. But if I do not solve these day-to-day problems, I will not get to the level where I can solve the problems that I do care about when I am on my deathbed.

Life.

Can't we do better?

~

Thanks for reading.

The AI-Cars Edition Sunday, December 10, 2017

Apple Executive Reveals More Of Its Self-Driving Technology, by Tom Simonite, Wired

A theme emerged when Apple’s director of artificial intelligence research outlined results from several of the company’s recent AI projects on the sidelines of a major conference Friday. Each involved giving software capabilities needed for self-driving cars.

Ruslan Salakhutdinov addressed roughly 200 AI experts who had signed up for a free lunch and peek at how Apple uses machine learning, a technique for analyzing large stockpiles of data. He discussed projects using data from cameras and other sensors to spot cars and pedestrians on urban streets, navigate in unfamiliar spaces, and build detailed 3-D maps of cities.

Apple Gets Into The Holiday Spirit W/ Beer Bash Concert Featuring Gwen Stefani, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

In celebration of the holiday season, Apple last night through a Beer Bash event with singer Gwen Stefani. Apple generally throws these concerts as a perk to employees and on a semi-annual basis.

Stuff

Review: MarsEdit 4, The Blogger’s World, by The Electric Light Company

For me, the biggest improvement in MarsEdit 4 is its light feel: it is now highly responsive, and I haven’t seen a single spinning beachball since upgrading. It’s like switching to a nippy text editor from a rather overweight page layout app, only you get to keep all the features, and gain plenty more.

Review: Microsoft Surface Precision Mouse – Thinking Different About Mac Functionality, by Michael Bower, 9to5Mac

Ultimately, the experience of using the Surface Precision Mouse with a Mac ends up being a mixed bag. A lack of any Mac-compatible software from Microsoft seems like an early oversight and a missed opportunity to sell the Surface Precision Mouse to more than just Windows users.

The mouse itself is comfortable, and while I found it connected to my Mac more reliably than Logitech’s MX Master series, I still experienced Bluetooth issues when I fired up my wireless headphones. Perhaps this has more to do with how the new 15″ MacBook Pro communicates with Bluetooth mice than it does the mice themselves (since I’ve had worse hiccups with the Logitech MX Master). If Apple’s vision for the future is to be truly wireless, they need to do a better job supporting third-party Bluetooth devices.

The Facial-Data Edition Saturday, December 9, 2017

Phil Schiller: 'Face ID Data Isn't Shared With Third Party Developers', by Erwin van der Zande, Bright.nl

Regarding Face ID: "I think we’ve worked really hard to maintain the trust we have with users about how this information technology is and isn’t used. First of all, no Face ID data goes to third parties. So what you enroll with Face ID, what you use to unlock your phone, that's an algorithm that is created and encrypted by the Secure Enclave. No third party that uses the iPhone camera has your Face ID data. We did create an API so developers can use the cameras to track facial movements, to do things like wrap stickers on your face (like Snapchat, ed.) That’s different than Face ID. They don’t have all the acces that Face ID has for that.

Schiller stresses the separate guidelines and strict policies developers have to adhere in order to get acces to that facial data. "We thought ahead to the same concerns you raised. For example, developers must be clear in their user privacy policies that they are using face data and what they are doing with that. So that you know. You have a choice to make whether you want to do that or not. You are in control. And also, every application that want to use face data must go through a special level of app review. We look at them specifically to understand what they are using the data for and does the user understand that. So uphold developer to do the right job for customers and ultimately let the customer decide."

Apple’s Widened Ban On Templated Apps Is Wiping Small Businesses From The App Store, by Sarah Perez, TechCrunch

These may not be the most-used apps, to be sure, but for the niche audiences they serve – say, for example, customers of a local pizza place that would rather have its own app rather than paying the fees associated with being on a food ordering platform like Seamless/GrubHub or Uber Eats – they serve a useful purpose.

As one app builder put it, the decision to limit these small businesses’ ability to compete on the App Store is as if a web hosting company said that they would no longer allow web pages built with WordPress templates or those made using website wizards from services like Wix or Squarespace.

Siri And Alexa Are Under Fire For Their Replies To Sexual Harassment, by Leah Fessler, Quartz

In February, months before the #MeToo movement erupted, I ran an experiment in which I sexually harassed Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Google’s Google Home to document how these digital personal servants—whose names and voices are already feminized—peddle stereotypes of female subservience, putting their “progressive” parent companies in a moral predicament.

Now, those findings are being cited in a petition on the social network Care2 asking Apple and Amazon to “reprogram their bots to push back against sexual harassment.” The petition already has nearly 8,000 of its targeted 10,000 signatures. It asks people to sign if they want to see Siri and Alexa push back on sexual harassment when it’s directed at them. “In this #MeToo moment, where sexual harassment may finally be being taken seriously society, we have a unique opportunity to develop AI in a way that creates a kinder world,” the petition reads.

Photographers Showcase iPhones Art At The Red Brick In Aspen, by Anna Stonehouse, The Aspen Times

If it wasn't announced in the title of the Red Brick Center's new art exhibition, "iShow," most viewers could not guess that all of the works hanging at the gallery were created on smartphones.

The show, which opened Thursday night, showcases new work by 10 local photographers who have used their iPhones to remarkably diverse ends with the use of apps and filters, creative editing and printing processes.

High School Mentors Prove Coding Can Be Fun, by Allen Laman, The Herald

When you think of a computer coder or programmer, you probably don’t picture someone tapping an Apple iPad to guide a multi-colored ball of fuzz around the inside of a bright maze.

But this week, members of Jasper High School’s Advanced Placement Computer Science class showed first- and second-graders at Ireland Elementary and Fifth Street School that in its most basic form, coding can be an experience much more engaging than simply typing orders into a command prompt. Wednesday, it took the form of the video game app described above.

How To Rip The Mics Out Of Your MacBook And iPhone, by Brian Barrett, Wired

The good news for the targets of highly sophisticated cyberspies? There’s a practical fix for that audio espionage problem. The bad news: It requires some surgery.

No software setting can turn off a microphone such that a skilled hacker who controls your device can’t turn it back on. Instead, you can simply remove them, and then plug in an external microphone only when you truly need it.

Sources: Apple Is Acquiring Music Recognition App Shazam, by Ingrid Lunden, TechCrunch

Sources tell us that the company is close to acquiring Shazam, the popular app that lets people identify any song, TV show, film or advert in seconds, by listening to an audio clip or (in the case of, say, an ad) a visual fragment, and then takes you to content relevant to that search.

Stuff

Apple Expands iPhone, iPad, And Apple Watch Accessory Lineup With Pink Fuchsia Cases, New Hermès Band, More, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

The Apple Pencil Case and Leather Sleeve for 10.5-inch iPad Pro are both available in a new Pink Fuchsia color shade. This is the same color that we’ve previously seen for Apple Watch bands and iPhone cases.

Type ‘Let It Snow’ Into The Apple Store App On iOS For A Surprise Holiday Easter Egg, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Simply head into the app, tap on the search icon in the upper-right corner, and type “let it snow.” You should then see snowflakes start to fall from the top of your display. Pretty cool, right? Shake your device to watch the snow move like a snow globe.

Develop

Apple Commits 'Turi Create' Machine Learning Development Tool To GitHub, by AppleInsider

Building on its acquisition of machine learning and AI specialist Turi, Apple this week committed "Turi Create" to GitHub, a new machine learning framework designed to help developers build machine learning models that can be parlayed into apps running on its major operating systems.

The Unauthorized-Control Edition Friday, December 8, 2017

Zero-day iOS HomeKit Vulnerability Allows Remote Access To Smart Accessories Including Locks, Fix Rolling Out, by Zac Hall, 9to5Mac

A HomeKit vulnerability in the current version of iOS 11.2 has been demonstrated to 9to5Mac that allows unauthorized control of accessories including smart locks and garage door openers. Our understanding is Apple has rolled out a server-side fix that now prevent unauthorized access from occurring while limiting some functionality, and an update to iOS 11.2 coming next week will restore that full functionality.

What Can Apple Learn From Its Terrible Week Of Bugs?, by Jason Snell, Macworld

My hope is that these missteps lead to an analysis of Apple’s internal processes that leads to changes that improve the quality of Apple’s software. I believe that Apple can effect that change if it wants to. It’s got the cash, it’s got the talent, and—quite frankly—it’s Apple. It can do it, if it’s got the will and if its structure allows it to. Those are big ifs, but... I want to believe. I hope is that this is something that can be mitigated and fixed by making changes to Apple’s processes.

So that’s my hope. Here’s my fear: That this stuff is what emerges from a ridiculous complex system from time to time, and that despite all analysis, it’s not really clear why they happened. Of course they’ll nail down the very specific issues that caused the bugs that emerged last week, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they can find the larger structural issues that caused these things to emerge, so that they can fix them.

Apple Is Leading A Revolution In Office Chairs, by Cliff Kuang, Bloomberg

But the Pacific has already racked up what might be the highest honor any design can receive in 2017: Its first customer was Jony Ive, Apple Inc.’s chief design officer. Ive is friends with Barber and Osgerby; during a social visit soon after they landed the Vitra commission, they sketched their early idea for him. Ive, as it happened, wasn’t finding any chairs he liked for Apple’s new 12,000-person headquarters designed by architect Norman Foster. “He looked, raised an eyebrow, and said, ‘That’s interesting,’ ” Osgerby recalls. Ive eventually ordered one for every office desk on campus, each fitted with a custom-made fabric in a serene, deep-sea blue.

Stuff

Apple To Transition Brazilian iTunes Sales To Local Currency In Early 2018, by Mikey Campbell, AppleInsider

In email notifications sent out to Brazilian customers on Thursday, Apple said it plans to transition iTunes pricing from U.S. dollars to the Brazilian real in 2018, offering potential savings on music, apps and more.

Apple Adds First New Aerial Screensaver For Apple TV 4K, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

With this latest update, Apple has included one wholly brand new video of the Los Angeles skyline at night.

Apple's Favorite App Of The Year Wants You To Unplug, by Jefferson Graham, USA Today

The Calm app is all about relaxing visuals and sounds (which can be adjusted to wood in the fireplace, flowing waters, evening crickets and more) to calm you down, and a choice of three tabs: music, meditate and sleep.

Bottom of the Page

I am not interested in any smart-home internet-connected accessories (yet). Because if I can turn on or off stuff from the Internet, someone else probably can too.

But I will appreciate any help that I can get to not get that nagging feeling whenever we are out and my wife asks me, 'so, you've checked that the iron has been turned off, right?'

~

My current project at work requires me to deal with Excel. Its many deviation from the published User Interface guidelines as well as all the 'quirks' (especially dealing with CSV files) frustrate me to no end.

And I'm using the app on its native motherland of Windows 10.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Calm-Critters Edition Thursday, December 7, 2017

Apple Announces App Of The Year, Game Of The Year And Best Of 2017 Top Charts, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

Apple has announced its Best of 2017 apps and games, this year utilizing the Today cards in the iOS 11 App Store to feature the winners. Apple says its app of the year for iPhone is Calm, a meditation and sleep app, and Splitter Critters is 2017’s iPhone game of the year. Apple says the title ‘radiates imagination and originality’.

For iPad, Apple has chosen Affinity Photo, the desktop-class photo editor, and the game Hidden Folks.

Understanding People

Learning With Privacy At Scale, by Apple

Understanding how people use their devices often helps in improving the user experience. However, accessing the data that provides such insights — for example, what users type on their keyboards and the websites they visit — can compromise user privacy. We develop a system architecture that enables learning at scale by leveraging local differential privacy, combined with existing privacy best practices. We design efficient and scalable local differentially private algorithms and provide rigorous analyses to demonstrate the tradeoffs among utility, privacy, server computation, and device bandwidth. Understanding the balance among these factors leads us to a successful practical deployment using local differential privacy. This deployment scales to hundreds of millions of users across a variety of use cases, such as identifying popular emojis, popular health data types, and media playback preferences in Safari.

Mental Health Apps Made Me Feel More Overwhelmed Than Ever, by Samantha Cole, Motherboard

The apps didn’t help me cope during or after this exceptional edge-case scenario. No one designs digital diaries with mass shootings in mind, and I wouldn’t expect them to. But most self-help and therapy apps still require a lot of personal accountability on the user’s part—a burden I’m not sure someone seeking a hand out of the confusion should be expected to bear.

For my own mental well-being, at least, I can’t wait to delete all of these apps. And maybe find a real-life therapist to talk to all of this about.

PodFail

Apple Has Ruined Its Podcasts App, by Mike Pesca, Slate

Of my four basic requirements, three suffered. The list of the shows I listened to was now incomplete. There was no longer a number denoting how many episodes of each show I had on the app. The list of unplayed episodes had melded into the list of played episodes.

[...]

The playback got glitchier, and some programs streamed really poorly. I couldn’t tell you why: I’m paid to think about what goes into a microphone, not diagnose what is, or isn’t, coming out of an earbud. But it was unmistakable: The Apple app could no longer consistently fire on demand.

Understanding Apple

iPhone X And The Critics’ Festival Of Wrong, by Ken Segall

Just as Apple exists in a competitive world, so do its critics. In the Apple opinion business, it pays to be an early responder, and there’s rarely a downside to sticking one’s neck out. Retractions are rare and life goes on.

So the best advice is — enjoy! This show has been playing for more than 20 years, and it won’t be closing anytime soon. Think of it as “fake news for the rest of us.”

Backstage Action

Apple Rebrands iTunes Movies With New @AppleTV Account On Twitter, by Zac Hall, 9to5Mac

Following the launch of Amazon Prime Video on Apple TV, Apple has increased its Twitter presence with a new account dedicated to all things Apple TV. The shift sees the old @iTunesMovies account rebrand with a new @AppleTV handle.

Apple Hires Michelle Lee As Creative Executive In Worldwide Video Division, by Nellie Andreeva, Deadline

Michelle Lee, who has served as head of development for Jason Katims’ True Jack Prods. for the past 5 years, is leaving the Universal TV-based pod to join Apple’s Worldwide Video unit as a senior creative executive.

Stuff

Apple Updates macOS High Sierra To 10.13.2 With Security And Stability Improvements, More, by Zac Hall, 9to5Mac

Apple has released the latest version of macOS High Sierra through the Mac App Store. macOS 10.13.2 “improves the stability, compatibility and security” of Macs, and specifically includes improvements to third party USB audio devices, VoiceOver and Preview, and Braille displays and Mail.

Apple Store App Updates Lets iPhone Buyers Bypass Carrier Preauthorization, by AppleInsider

The biggest change, at least for iPhone buyers, is the option to bypass Apple's carrier preauthorization check when purchasing an AT&T, Verizon or Sprint handset at full price. Those who elect to skip authorization can activate the phone on their carrier's network when they receive it, speeding up the checkout process.

I Am Blown Away By The Battery Life In The New iPhone X, by Dave Smith, Business Insider

This phone is a workhorse, but between the OLED screen that saves some battery life, and its hyper-intelligent A11 Bionic chip that knows when to save energy, battery life simply has never been a problem.

Apple Releases iTunes 12.7.2 With Bug Fixes & Performance Improvements, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

The update doesn’t bring any notable new features, but Apple says it should include app and performance improvements.

Newton Mail Now Has A Standalone Calendar Companion App And It's Lovely, by Lory Gil, iMore

The idea here is that the development team at Newton wanted to make a calendar app that is user-friendly, easy to access, and doesn't interrupt any emailing activities you've c>urrently got going on.

So, instead of folding it into the Newton Mail app, the developers decided to create a stand-alone calendar that works with the email app so you've got more customization and all you have to do is switch between apps, almost like switching from one tab to another (thank you iOS design).

ProtonMail Encrypted Mail Service Adds Support For Apple Mail, Outlook And Thunderbird, by Taylor Hatmaker, TechCrunch

ProtonMail, built around the encryption standard known as PGP (Pretty Good Privacy), previously required users to use its own apps or webmail service. Now, users loyal to common mail clients Apple Mail, Thunderbird, Outlook or anything else that supports IMAP and SMTP can run ProtonMail Bridge in the background to enable a ProtonMail account to play nice with one of those newly supported clients.

RememBear Is A Good Password Manager For Beginners, by Nick Douglas, Lifehacker

You know by now that you absolutely need a password manager. But you never get around to buying one. Let’s fix that right now with RememBear, a new password manager that’s easy to install and figure out. We tested it, and while we still prefer 1Password for most users, we recommend RememBear for beginners, especially during its free beta period.

Develop

Apple Faces Criticism Over Change To App Store Rules, by Tim Bradshaw, Financial Times

US Congressman Ted Lieu has written to Apple to complain about a recent change in App Store rules which prohibits apps from being developed using ready-made templates.

Although spammers and fraudsters have turned to templates to make it quicker and easier to launch apps, the technique is also employed by smaller shops and restaurants, as well as community organisations such as sports clubs, schools and churches, who cannot afford to develop an app from scratch.

Bottom of the Page

I am not holding out hopes that apps on the phone will be able to cure mental illness. What I am holding out hope is that apps, together with real human beings on both ends, will be able to help in curing mental illness.

~

The last time I was using Apple’s Podcast app on iOS, it was still known as the iPod app (I thinK), I was syncing audios over via ITunes and USB cable, and I was using my own Applescripts to create and maintain a playlist of podcast episodes.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Designs-to-Come Edition Wednesday, December 6, 2017

iPhone X: The Rise Of Gestures, by Raluca Budiu, Nielsen Norman Group

Right now, the extra space may not seem that generous — if you compare the visible area on an iPhone 8 Plus and on an iPhone X, you can see at best one extra line of text. Yet using a gesture instead of a visible button has the potential to open up more user-experience improvements in the designs to come — from Apple and from others.

Apple is in a unique position to push this kind of gesture-based innovation and could even go beyond that to create a standard vocabulary of gestures that can be used by other apps or phone manufacturers, because the Apple brand is so strong that people will put up with the hurdles of learning a new system and unlearning what they know for the sake of using its products.

Pay Cash

watchOS 4.2 For Apple Watch Now Available With Apple Pay Cash Support, by Zac Hall, 9to5Mac

After setting up Apple Pay Cash on iPhone with iOS 11.2, Apple Pay Cash becomes an option in watchOS 4.2 in the Messages app and Wallet app on Apple Watch. Apple Pay Cash also works with Siri.

Apple Pay Cash Leverages Discover Network For New Virtual Debit Card, by Neil Hughes, AppleInsider

In order to bring the Apple Pay Cash debit card to life, Apple has partnered with credit card provider Discover, whose Discover Debit service powers the virtual tap-to-pay card for money transfers and in-store purchases.

Prime Video

Amazon Prime Video App Rolling Out To Apple TV App Store, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

At long last, Amazon’s Prime Video application will be available today for the tvOS-powered Apple TV, as expected based on hints from the App Store. Apple originally teased the release back at WWDC, but both companies had gone quiet on a specific launch date until now. Search ‘Amazon Prime Video’ in the Apple TV App Store to find it.

PodSearch

Apple Has Acquired Pop Up Archive, An Interesting Startup That Makes Podcasts More Searchable, by Nicholas Quah, Nieman Lab

I’ve learned that Apple has acquired Pop Up Archive, the Oakland-based online platform focused on building tools to transcribe, organize, and search audio files. Among its suite of tools was the podcast search engine Audiosear.ch, which wound down operations on November 28, presumably in the wake of closing the acquisition.

Tim In China

Apple CEO Tim Cook Talks Chinese Supply Chain, Censorship And More In Interview, by Mikey Campbell, AppleInsider

It is a marriage of traditional craftsmanship and advanced technology that makes China's supply chain assets desirable, not pricing, according to Cook.

"There's a confusion about China," Cook said. "The popular conception is that companies come to China because of low labor costs. I'm not sure what part of China they go to, but the truth is China stopped being the low labor cost country years ago. That is not the reason to come to China from a supply point of view, the reason is because of the skill."

[...]

"The thing that's missing in our society is there's not enough people that want to listen and understand and participate," Cook said. "They have a litmus test of, 'Do I agree with every single thing that person believes, and if not I don't want to talk to them and they're a bad person.' I've never seen the world that way."

Apple's Cook Optimistic That Apps Pulled In China Will Be Back, by Sijia Jiang and Anne Marie Roantree, Reuters

“My hope over time is that some of the things, the couple of things that’s been pulled, come back. I have great hope on that and great optimism on that,” Cook said, adding that he always tries to find areas to work together and if he gets criticized for that, so be it.

For Some Reason Tim Cook Thinks China Will Allow VPNs To Return To The App Store, by Jon Russell, TechCrunch

While Cook is right that “nothing ever changes from the sidelines,” it is hard to imagine China relaxing its stance on web censorship given all that has happened.

The reality is that Apple had little choice but to follow Beijing’s line in order to continue to do business in the lucrative Chinese market, but statements like Cook’s today are dangerous because they massively underplay the severity of the situation.

Stuff

A Top Indie Developer That Previously Won Apple's App Of The Year Is Taking On PowerPoint, by Kif Leswing, Business Insider

"These are modern teams that work with mobile, work with messaging," Petschingg told Business Insider. "They're out doing customer research, they've got their brand studio, they have their analytics team trying to optimize the software. Is that all going to go into PowerPoint?"

"It's a really interesting flip on making your workplace much more transparent, in a good way," he continued. "It's not like that situation where people who are doing the work also have to spend time pitching the work. That part sucks — just do the work, and make sure people can discover it. That's what Paste does."

MarsEdit 4 Update Adds Editor Enhancements, WordPress Improvements, And More, by John Voorhees, MacStories

Among the long list of updates to version 4 of MarsEdit are several modifications to the app’s editor. Common formatting options like bold, italics, and underlining are easily accessed from a formatting bar. A new typewriter view option keeps text centered in the middle of the editor as you type. If you edit in rich text mode, MarsEdit also lets users resize images by direct manipulation, and the app’s previewer has added MultiMarkdown support.

For WordPress users, MarsEdit has added support for featured images in posts, post formats, and author editing. Modern macOS features like versions for local drafts, auto-saving, and application sandboxing for security have been incorporated too. For link bloggers, MarsEdit has a Safari extension that sends highlighted text to the app as a block quote along with the article title and URL.

MindNode 5 For Mac Is A Compelling New Update To The Mind Mapping App Suite, by Mike Wuerthele and William Gallagher, AppleInsider

The new version will still feel familiar if you already know the app and all of the revisions and improvements maintain the software's core aim. Mind mapping in general is about getting the cacophony of ideas in your head down into a visual form where you can add to them, revise them, develop them.

MindNode in particular is about getting you to do that without having to think about the software, without having to study which tools do which jobs.

Review: PreSonus Notion 6 Music Notation Software, by Andy McDonough, American Songwriter

Before I talk about how easy this latest version of Notion was to use (some notation software is not), there is one standout feature I discovered quickly that will bring a smile to any arranger, music student, or songwriter’s face. That is the quality sampled sounds that come with the package. If you are doing your music or lots of scores for other writers, this will make your efforts much more enjoyable. If you are doing arrangements, you can actually hear the sounds of the instruments you are scoring for. From sounds of the London Symphony Orchestra to stellar Steinway piano samples to the sounds of virtuoso bassist, Victor Wooten, playback quality of Notion 6 alone makes this software worth the investment and a whole lot more.

Develop

Apple Introduces A New Pay-per-install Ad Product Called Search Ads Basic, by Sarah Perez, TechCrunch

Apple today is introducing a new way for app developers to acquire users for their apps: it’s launching a pay-per-install advertising product called Search Ads Basic. The “basic” branding signals that this product is being aimed at smaller developers compared with the existing Search Ads product, which is now being renamed to Search Ads Advanced.

Notes

The Problem With Muzak, by Liz Pelly, The Baffler

Music writing serves a number of purposes: storytelling, criticism, discovery. Spotify has already established itself as a competitive force of “discovery,” and it soon plans to produce more of its own (surely branded) “storytelling” and original content. With this in mind, and when I worry over the publications, labels, and artists who have (reluctantly or otherwise) embraced Spotify, I can’t help but think of that airport restaurant server who teaches you how to use the iPad, thereby contributing to her own obsolescence. Why is the music press generating value for a platform that in every way plans to eliminate it? And what will become of music criticism in a world without records? Will publications review discovery feeds and write profiles of playlists? What good will criticism be when all of music has coalesced into algorithmically preordained Muzak?

Bottom of the Page

After I watch a movie, I typically will go read the corresponding entry on IMDB. And, if the movie is old enough, I will also go read what Mr Roger Ebert thought about the movie.

I will be delighted if I can also go to, say, Apple Podcast, search and listen to podcast episodes that discussed the movie.

~

I'm wondering if there is someone in Redmond, looking at the success of iPhone X, will now try to get rid of the Start button, again.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Pay-Cash Edition Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Apple Pay Cash Money Transfers Launch In US On iPhones, iPads Running iOS 11.2, by Neil Hughes, AppleInsider

Both sender and recipient need to have Apple Pay Cash configured for the feature to work. If the recipient has not yet enabled it, the iMessage app will display an eror, saying the user "cannot receive payments sent with Apple Pay at this time."

Apple Adds Gift Card Compensation To Apple Watch Recycling Program, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Apple partners with a company called Brightstar for this exchange program and payouts range from $50 to $175. The process is rather simple and just like trading in a smartphone anywhere else.

Apple Releases tvOS 11.2 For 4th And 5th Generation Apple TV Models, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

tvOS 11.2 brings a new Sports section to the dedicated TV app, which offers up access to live sports games through integration with the ESPN app. The Sports app can be accessed through a new "Sports" tab at the bottom of the app, and it offers up custom content based on team preferences and current sports seasons.

After Becoming Paralyzed, This Drummer Thought He'd Never Play Again, But His Music Teacher Had A Trick Up Her Sleeve, by Joseph Gonzalez, The Epoch Times

Christopherson downloaded 75 apps on the first day she looked into helping Ethan this way, trying to find something that would work; she really wanted Ethan to keep playing.

Because of the discovery, Ethan was able to join the band again! Christopherson said how the new method was “exactly the same as his classmates, just a different mode.” It was like he had never left, and she certainly didn’t want to make Ethan feel any different because of it.

Don't Swipe Away Apps On Your iPhone, by Andrew Griffin, Independent

That's why experts repeatedly warn people that it's not a good idea or habit to swipe away apps. And that's starting to become clear in the way the phones are being designed.

The latest reminder and confirmation that the behaviour isn't helpful is in how Apple designed the iPhone X to work. It subtly made it far more difficult to swipe away apps and shut them – apparently so that people will feel less compelled to do so.

On Apple Embracing YouTube, by John Gruber, Daring Fireball

I’d argue that it’s not so much that Apple has lost the video platform battle to YouTube, but that the open web has lost the battle. Apple has never attempted to create a rival service to YouTube. Prior to its embrace of YouTube, what Apple used to do was publish video content on its website, using the HTML5 <video> tag.

The Best Way To Preserve Macintosh Software From Floppy Disks, by VintageAppleMac.com

Is that archival standard preservation? Probably not, no. But it's a practical method to ensure that this software can be enjoyed again by my fellow enthusiast with almost no effort whatsoever, and that's what floats my boat!

Ireland Expects Apple Back Tax In Escrow Account In First Quarter, 2018: Minister, by Reuters

More than a year after the EU order, Dublin’s slow pace in recovering the money has landed it in court. Ireland is now seeking an investment manager and a custodian to operate the account and expects to appoint both next month.

“We have now reached agreement with Apple in relation to the principles and operation of the escrow fund,” Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe told reporters before a meeting with European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager.

Apple CEO Backs China’s Vision Of An ‘Open’ Internet As Censorship Reaches New Heights, by Simon Denyer, Washington Post

“Cook’s appearance lends credibility to a state that aggressively censors the internet, throws people in jail for being critical about social ills, and is building artificial intelligence systems that monitors everyone and targets dissent,” Maya Wang at Human Rights Watch in Hong Kong wrote in an email.

“The version of cyberspace the Chinese government is building is a decidedly dystopian one, and I don’t think anyone would want to share in this ‘common future.’ Apple should have spoken out against it, not endorsed it.”

Stuff

Apple Starts Sales Of SIM-free iPhone X Models In U.S., by Mikey Campbell, AppleInsider

Apple's SIM-free models support both GSM and CDMA networks, making the device a prime candidate for frequent travelers or customers who constantly jump networks. Being an unlocked model allows for later activation on any telco that supports iPhone.

Apple Releases New Color Choices For Apple Watch Sport Band & iPhone X Silicone Case, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

The company quietly made the Apple Watch Sport band available in new color choices, while the color lineup for the iPhone X’s Silicone Case was also slightly expanded.

The Best iPhone X Cases, by Nick Guy, Wirecutter

Anker’s Karapax Touch is the epitome of what a great case should be. We know from years of feedback from readers, Wirecutter staff, and family and friends that most people want a case that’s slim, plainly designed, reliably protective, and inexpensive. The Karapax Touch is exactly that—it’s a simple case that hits all the right notes.

LandingZone Docking Station Makes Life More Convenient For 12-inch MacBook Users, by Dennis Sellers, Apple World Today

The docking station allows you to connect a monitor, hard drives, printer, smart phone, headphones, speakers, headsets, tablet, etc. The MacBook can be used open or closed while it's locked in the docking station.

Notes

How To Fool A Neural Network, by Katharine Schwab, Fast Company

An autonomous train is barreling down the tracks, its cameras constantly scanning for signs that indicate things like how fast it should be going. It sees one that appears to require it to increase its speed–and so it does. A few heartbeats later, the train narrowly avoids a derailment. Later, when a human investigator inspects the sign in question, they see something different–a warning to slow down, not speed up.

It’s an extreme rhetorical, but it illustrates one of the biggest challenges facing machine learning today. Neural networks are only as good as the information they’re trained on, which had led to high-profile examples of how susceptible they are to bad data riddled with bias. But these technologies are also vulnerable to another kind of weakness known as “adversarial examples.” An adversarial example occurs when a neural net identifies an image as one thing–while any person looking at it sees something else.

Bottom of the Page

Living in a city for (almost) the entirety of my life, I am used to hear sounds and noises constantly. Our family's flat is next to a semi-major road in our town, so I continue to hear the occasional vehicle noise throughout the night, even with the windows closed. And given the 'open-office' culture-virus that permeates companies here in Singapore, I am not expecting noise reduction to be part of my working life anytime soon.

And then, thanks to many people working on many different things, we have a healthy audio-ecosystem on my iPhone. I regularly have four different audio sources to accompany me: audio-books, podcasts, Apple Music, and BBC. And I can replace (almost) every minute of useless noises with useful sounds. Some I do pay full attention to the text, while other times they serve as background noise to mask the real background noise.

Side benefit: Covering up my bad thoughts too.

~

I also haven't seen any real stars in years, too. (Well, except, you know, the Sun.)

Maybe there should be an AR app that puts the stars back.

~

Some people will squeeze stress balls when they are stressed out or tired or bored. Other people will spn fidget-sinners.

Me? I do 3D-touch on my iPhone.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Complete-Journey Edition Monday, December 4, 2017

iPhone X Camera Review - A Week In Italy, by Nanda Kusumadi

We take it for granted these days, but it’s amazing when you step back and reflect that what you have in your pocket is a device capable of fulfilling the complete photography journey. From planning your shot, to shooting it, post-processing it, and then to sharing or printing it - it’s all right there at the palm of your hand.

Facebook Rolls Out A Messenger App Just For Kids, by Nicole Lee, Engadget

It's no surprise that kids are using technology at a pretty young age these days, and a key part of that is using it to communicate with friends and family. But most kids tend to use tablets or iPod Touches that don't have phone numbers, so normal texting and video chats are a no-go (unless it's with mommy's phone, which isn't always great for mommy). Sure you could use an app like FaceTime or Hangouts, but most of them don't offer the kind of control that parents want, especially for really young kids. Facebook, however, has come up with a solution. It's called Messenger Kids and yes, it's basically a standalone child-friendly Messenger app with parental controls baked right in.

Before you balk at the idea of having to sign your kid up on Facebook, don't worry -- you won't have to. In fact, your kid doesn't need a Facebook account at all in order to use Messenger Kids. You, however, do. That's because it uses the parent's Facebook account to set up the child's Messenger Kids account.

Protestors Outside Apple Store Criticize GOP Tax Reform Legislation, by Paul Burton, CBS

Protestors outside the Apple Store on Boylston Street made their voices heard about the Republican tax reform legislation which the Senate narrowly passed early Saturday morning.

[...]

“It gives an enormous tax cut to Apple Verizon and Bank of America, GE and other corporations who don’t have to pay their taxes because they hide their profits off shore,” one man shouted.

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I have two simple rules for an app to be on my iPhone's home screen.

1) I need to launch the app more than once a day, or

2) I may not need to launch the app more than once a day, but if I want to launch the app, I want to launch the app real fast.

All other apps goes into one of the folders on my home screen.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Reboot-To-Activate Edition Sunday, December 3, 2017

Face ID Not Working On iPhone X After Updating To iOS 11.2? A Reboot Should Fix It, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

In most cases, simply turning off the iPhone X and turning it back on again will make Face ID activate successfully. It is reassuring that this is not a persistent issue.

Jony Ive Is Sensitive About Criticism Of Apple's New $5 Billion Campus — He Calls It 'Bizarre', by Kif Leswing, BusinessInsider

"I can't imagine another time in the future that we get to try to make something that is for us, not in any indulgent, ghastly, selfish way, but we make it for us to try and help us do better. To make better products. To be able to easily collaborate and bump into other people," Ive said in the interview at the Hirshhorn Museum. He continued: "And we spend a lot of time there, we spend more time than in our own homes."

That's not to say that Ive, who is one of the most powerful people at Apple, isn't open to constructive criticism. He just doesn't want to hear any about the new campus.

Activists Occupy Paris Apple Store Over EU Tax Dispute, by AFP

The members from Attac, a group that seeks alternatives to unbridled globalisation, invaded the expansive two-level store near the Paris Opera for several hours -- leaving only after they were assured of a meeting with management.

"One hundred Attac activists occupied the Apple store" to demand the company "pay its fair share of taxes in the country in which it really operates," spokeswoman Aurelie Trouve said.

Apple's Tim Cook Says Developers Have Earned $17 Billion From China App Store, by Reuters

Apple Inc’s chief executive Tim Cook said developers using its platform in China number 1.8 million and have earned a total 112 billion yuan ($16.93 billion), representing roughly a quarter of total global App Store earnings.

Cook shared the data on Sunday during a speech at China’s top public cyber policy forum, organized by the Cybersecurity Administration of China (CAC), which oversees internet regulation including censorship.

Internet Must Have Security, Humanity, Apple Chief Tells China, by Bloomberg

“The theme of this conference -- developing a digital economy for openness and shared benefits -- is a vision we at Apple share,” Cook said. “We are proud to have worked alongside many of our partners in China to help build a community that will join a common future in cyberspace."

Cook’s comments come at a pivotal point for the company’s future in China, which is now its biggest market outside of North America. It relies on the sale of hardware and services in the world’s most populated country to propel revenue and profit growth. But the efforts required to stay in China’s good graces are causing tensions with civil libertarians and politicians at home.

Notes

Underscores, Optimization & Arms Races, by Anil Dash, Humane Tech

Eventually, most people who were publishing on the web said they didn’t want to do anything to risk diminishing their Google ranking, and our team had pretty much no choice but to switch to letting people publish web addresses using dashes. I genuinely felt like we had caved in. Caring so much about a single punctuation mark was, of course, an absurd hill to die on, but having Google coerce us into changing our software, and our aesthetics, felt like the first step toward a slippery slope of further concessions.

But the truth was even worse. Despite my misgivings about Google, I didn’t notice a more nefarious pattern that was established at the same time. A whole community had formed around trying to guess how Google’s algorithm worked, and that community very quickly built an entire infrastructure around reverse-engineering the algorithms that drive attention and popularity on the web.

Google was teaching us that the way to win on the web is to game the algorithms of big companies.

The iOS-Crash-Fix Edition Saturday, December 2, 2017

Apple Releases iOS 11.2 With Apple Pay Cash, Fast Wireless Charging, And iPhone Crash Fix, by Tom Warren, The Verge

Apple is taking the highly unusual step of releasing a significant iOS update today, just hours after an iOS 11 bug started crashing iPhones. A bug in iOS 11.1.2 started causing iPhones to crash if third-party apps use recurring notifications for things like reminders. iOS is releasing iOS 11.2 today, which addresses the issue and includes a number of new features. Apple usually releases iOS updates on a Tuesday.

iPhone Crashing On Dec. 2? Here's The Fix!, by Rene Ritchie, iMore

If you have an App Store app installed that sends local notifications, once you hit December 2, 2017 local time, your iPhone could begin to crash.

Crowd Gathers At Apple Store In Orchard Road Over 11.1.2 iOS Bug That Crashes Phones, by Lydia Lam, Straits Times

When ST visited the Apple Store at 4pm, there were about 50 people there seeking help for the bug. Customers were speaking to Apple staff in batches of 10 to get their phones fixed.

Root-Bug Follow-Up

MacOS Update Accidentally Undoes Apple's "Root" Bug Patch, by Andy Greenberg, Wired

Those who had not yet upgraded their operating system from the original version of High Sierra, 10.13.0, to the most recent version, 10.13.1, but had downloaded the patch, say the "root" bug reappears when they install the most recent macOS system update. And worse, two of those Mac users say they've also tried re-installing Apple's security patch after that upgrade, only to find that the "root" problem still persists until they reboot their computer, with no warning that a reboot is necessary.

A Bug Bounty Wouldn't Have Helped Apple Spot The macOS Root Flaw, by Nicole Kobie, Wired

Ergin explained that his colleagues reported the flaw to Apple on November 23 and noticed that it had been discussed in the Apple Developer Forum as far back as November 13. “It seemed like the issue had been revealed, but Apple had not noticed yet.”

Ergin didn't tweet about the flaw until five days later, on November 28. Regardless of whether five days is enough to qualify as responsible disclosure, Ergin’s intent in tweeting was well intended. “The issue was very serious. It has already been mentioned in forums and revealed publicly few weeks ago,” he wrote on Medium. “I have no intention to harm Apple and Apple users. By posting the tweet, I just wanted to warn Apple and say ‘there is a serious security issue in High Sierra, be aware of it and fix it’.”

Reset Vector

iOS 11 Horror Story: The Rise And Fall Of iOS Security, by Elcomsoft

Once an intruder gains access to the user’s iPhone and knows (or recovers) the passcode, there is no single extra layer of protection left. Everything (and I mean, everything) is now completely exposed. Local backups, the keychain, iCloud lock, Apple account password, cloud backups and photos, passwords from the iCloud Keychain, call logs, location data, browsing history, browser tabs and even the user’s original Apple ID password are quickly exposed. The intruder gains control over the user’s other Apple devices registered on the same Apple account, having the ability to remotely erase or lock those devices. Finally, regaining control over hijacked account is made difficult as even the trusted phone number can be replaced.

This is just scary. Why Apple decided to get rid of the system that used to deliver a seemingly perfect balance between security and convenience is beyond us.

iOS 11 Security Isn't A 'Horror Story', It's A Balancing Act For Your Protection, by Rene Ritchie, iMore

If you're at all concerned about passcode as an attack vector, switch from a 6-digit passcode to a strong alphanumeric password. You can do that in Settings > Passcode > Change Passcode > Passcode Options > Custom Alphanumeric Code.

[...]

I'd love to see an option to turn off passcode as a reset vector for those of us who don't want or need it, but then again, I use a password so I probably wouldn't want or need that setting anyway. And that's how these loops begin.

For now, iOS 11 is doing a good job making sure people don't lose access to their data while providing alphanumeric password and MDM options for those of us who want to make sure our data is better protected as well.

Two-Face

Will Face ID Support Multi-user Authentication? Craig Federighi Responds, by Tory Foulk, iMore

Federighi's response was essentially a "not right now, but maybe eventually," pointing out that even Touch ID wasn't meant for more than one person to use.

Stuff

New Apple Watch Series 3 Ads Put Spotlight On Cellular & Fitness, by Roger Fingas, AppleInsider

The 14-second spots are part of a series called "The Gift of Go," each ending with someone unwrapping a Watch.

A Month With The iPhone X: What I Love (And Hate), by Mark Spoonauer, Tom's Guide

I don't wear tight jeans — and I never will — and yet something strange keeps happening during my bus ride to and from New York City: Siri sometimes comes on when I just shift in my seat.

At first, I didn't realize what was happening. But then I figured out that the iPhone X's side button was brushing up against my leg. Formerly the power button (on other iPhone models), the side button on the iPhone X activates Siri with a long press.

LEGO AR-Studio Clicks Together Virtual And Physical Blocks, by Nicole Kobie, Wired

"This app is a completely new play from LEGO, mixing the physical and digital," says Tom Donaldson, VP of the Creative Play Lab at the LEGO Group. "You hold an iPhone or an iPad in your hand, and you can see your surroundings on the screen — your room, your table, that sort of thing. It can sense surfaces, and you can place virtual LEGO models into your real world."

Donaldson explains it's not only an overlay, but a 3D model that understands the real-world scene children have placed it in.

Develop

Developer Review: 2017 Macbook 12, by Marcus Zarra

The battery on this machine has really changed how I develop. Not watching the battery power through the day is surprisingly liberating.

[...]

In reality, the MacBook works extremely well. iOS, macOS, server and even Android development works just fine. Using both Xcode and Android Studio simultaneously offers no problem for the MacBook.

I suspect the upgrade to 16GB of ram really did the trick.

Apple Will Stop Accepting 32-bit Mac Apps Starting January 1, 2018, by Noah Stahl, 9to5Mac

Apple’s Developer site has today shared a reminder that starting January 1st, 2018 32-bit Mac apps will no longer be accepted.

Bottom of the Page

It's now 9pm on Dec 2nd while I am writing this. So far, it doesn't seem like any of the iPhones here in my family was affected by the iOS bug. I hope there isn't a nasty surprise waiting for me tomorrow. In particular, I need to wake up early, and I hope there isn't an alarm-clock bug waiting for me tomorrow morning.

(Come to think of it, I don't have a backup for waking-up-in-the-morning alarm-clock system.)

~

Thanks for reading.

The Next-Steps-in-Health Edition Friday, December 1, 2017

Apple COO Jeff Williams On Apple's Next Steps In Health: Full Transcript, by Christina Farr, CNBC

What I would say is, when you start measuring the human body, it's really interesting and difficult. Engineers, we often solve difficult problems -- really challenging problems -- but at least the electrons flow the same way every time. And the human body is this constantly changing thing. And so I think there are plenty of challenges but there's still opportunity.

[...]

We think the right place for the health information to exist is with the person on their device. And we believe from a privacy standpoint, that where that information gets shared should be -- should be completely up to the individual. There's nothing more personal than your health information. And so we view that as the future. It's really unfortunate that today, uh, the pieces of your medical record and history are spread and sitting in servers of various companies around the world, and it ought to be sitting on the device that you carry every day. And so, that we view as the future.

Apple And Stanford Medicine Fire Up Heart Study To Spot Irregular Beat, Atrial Fibrillation, by Mike Wuerthele, AppleInsider

Apple, in conjunction with Stanford Health, has launched the Apple Heart Study app, a first-of-its-kind research study using the Apple Watch heart rate sensor system to collect data on irregular heart rhythms and proactively notify users who may be experiencing atrial fibrillation.

The Case Against Building An iOS Laptop—and Why It Might Happen Anyway, by Jason Snell, Macworld

I think an iOS laptop would be an appealing product for some users. It wouldn’t be for everyone, but as iOS continues to grow and evolve, it could be a pretty awesome product for people who are comfortable with the shape of a laptop, but the simplicity of iOS.

Will it happen? I feel like further Apple experimentation in iOS hardware is inevitable—but I certainly wouldn’t put money on it appearing in 2018.

Apple’s Polished Visitor Center Has A Strange Detachment, by John King, San Francisco Chronicle

It’s as plain as day: Apple Park is an enclave for a company that wants us to gape, but not get too close. We’re invited to buy its products, or ponder the shimmering aluminum model, but not to set foot within the sacred grounds.

This is Apple’s right — gated campuses are nothing new. What’s strange is to create a destination that’s little more than a tease, a vantage point from which to contemplate a sealed-off landscape for a hermetically sealed HQ.

Jeroen Domburg Miniaturizes A Mac, by Dan Maloney, Hackaday

The tiny object in front of Jeroen in the title image is, in fact, a working Macintosh Plus that he built. Recreating mid-80’s technology using 2017 parts seems like it would be easy, and while it’s obviously easier than breaking the laws of physics to go the other direction, Jeroen faced some serious challenges along the way, which he goes into some detail about in his talk.

Stuff

The iPhone Upgrade Program: A Year In Review, by Josh Centers, TidBITS

Despite some small caveats, Apple has rewarded my faith at every step. I originally signed up for the iPhone Upgrade Program with the hope that the company would allow trade-ins by mail the following year, and that came to pass. Over the next few years, I anticipate the iPhone Upgrade Program will become Apple’s preferred way to sell iPhones, and those customers will be incentivized to buy directly from Apple. For serious Apple fans who want the latest iPhone every year without a large up-front payment, it’s the best choice.

Paste By FiftyThree: Teamwork Makes The Dream Work — Beautifully, I Might Add, by Luke Filipowicz, iMore

If you ever work on projects or presentation as part of a group, the newest app by FiftyThree aims to make your experience effortless, mobile-friendly, and absolutely gorgeous. Paste by FiftyThree (hereby referred to as Paste) is a work collaboration app that allows you to create slides and share them with your team via Slack all in a matter of seconds.

Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock: Wake Up On Time Feeling More Refreshed!, by Luke Filipowicz, iMore

In short, Sleep Cycle is an alarm clock that aims to track your sleep and wake you up in a more peaceful and less abrupt manner, allowing you to feel less tired and more alert when you hear the alarm going off in the morning. How does it do this? With a little bit of science of course!

CARROT Weather Adds Powerful, Redesigned Apple Watch App, by Ryan Christoffel, MacStories

Now, CARROT Weather on the Apple Watch truly looks like a little brother to its iOS counterpart, with colorful icons, bolder fonts for important interface elements, and familiar design mechanics. The main interface of the Watch app can be customized in several useful ways.

Develop

I Tried Emailing Like Your Boss And It Made My Life Way Better, by Katie Notopoulos, BuzzFeed

Look, I know: having the takeaway about Hillary Clinton from the DNC email hack being “I’d like to emulate her email style” is supremely fucked up, but that’s where my priorities lie. I’m like a dumb dog who only cares about what’s in front of my face, and that isn’t who’s president. It’s what the red number on my mail app is.

Let’s call this “boss email”. It’s defined by nearly immediate — but short and terse — replies. The classic two-word email. For underlings, it can be inscrutable. Is that an angry “thanks” or a grateful “thanks”? Does “please update me” imply impatience with you? Boss email can be the workplace equivalent of getting a “k” text reply from a Tinder date.

Notes

DMs From Beyond The Grave Are Changing How We Grieve, by Michael Waters, Motherboard

It's a newer wrinkle in a much older question—how is technology shaping our relationship with death?—and an emerging field of scholars have already devoted themselves to studying it. Preliminary research suggests consistent posthumous communication in fact can have a positive influence on recipients coming to terms with loss.

Debra Bassett, a doctoral candidate at the University of Warwick who researches the impacts of death in the digital world, believes that posthumous messages can help their recipients return to a place of grief when they need it most. In general, “most people that I have researched are finding these things a comfort,” Bassett said.

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When I am dead, I'll stay dead. I don't want to burden anyone with any messages from the dead. I don't even want to burden anyone with any memories of me.

~

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