The Social-Signaling Edition Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Apple's Airpods Are An Omen, by Ian Bogost, The Atlantic

There are some consequences to this scenario, if it plays out. For one, earbuds will cease to perform any social signaling whatsoever. Today, having one’s earbuds in while talking suggests that you are on a phone call, for example. Having them in while silent is a sign of inner focus—a request for privacy. That’s why bothering someone with earbuds in is such a social faux-pas: They act as a do-not-disturb sign for the body. But if AirPods or similar devices become widespread, those cues will vanish. Everyone will exist in an ambiguous state between public engagement with a room or space and private retreat into devices or media.

The smartphone’s own excesses might accelerate the matter. In Georgia, where I live, a new law intended to reduce distracted driving goes into effect on July 1. The law prohibits holding a phone while driving. There are exceptions, including operating a mapping app, but ambiguities of actual use (and fears that police might use it as an excuse for citing other infractions) might push more drivers to newer, better hands-free options. AirPods are expensive, but they’re a lot cheaper than traffic infractions or insurance hikes.

Made On An iPad Pro, by Paul Stamatiou

Two decades ago you might have seen "Made with Macintosh" graphics on Apple's website and elsewhere online. A decade ago it became easier to spot websites created with iWeb sporting little "Made on a Mac" badges. Now, the iPad is ready to be taken more seriously as a creation device with the iPad Pro.

Apple Cracks Down On Apps Sharing Information On Users' Friends, by Sarah Frier, Bloomberg

As Apple’s annual developer conference got underway on June 4, the Cupertino, California-based company made many new pronouncements on stage, including new controls that limit tracking of web browsing. But the phone maker didn’t publicly mention updated App Store Review Guidelines that now bar developers from making databases of address book information they gather from iPhone users. Sharing and selling that database with third parties is also now forbidden. And an app can’t get a user’s contact list, say it’s being used for one thing, and then use it for something else -- unless the developer gets consent again. Anyone caught breaking the rules may be banned.

'When We Do Something That Grows, It Makes Sense To Pay Attention To It:' Publishers Are Seeing Huge Traffic Spikes From Flipboard, by Lauren Johnson, Business Insider

In the wake of Facebook's massive algorithm change, lots of publishers feel burned by digital platforms and are hunting for new sources of traffic. And recently, they've found a surprising, if not slightly unpredictable, force in news-curation app Flipboard.


Then in October, Flipboard flipped the switch on a self-serve program that lets publishers plug RSS feeds into the app and set up fast-loading article pages—similar to Facebook Instant Articles and Google's Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP).

But instead of hosting content with the app like Instant Articles do, Flipboard started pushing traffic to publishers' websites. That switch - which sends web traffic to publishers and allows them to make money from selling their own ads - doesn't require a lot of back-end work. Plus, publishers can also create mini magazines of content that live within the app.

Smile Software Turns 15: An Interview With Greg Scown, by Stephen Hackett, 512 Pixels

There’s the whole “cloud”-ification of everything. Back in the day, you had one computer. I think you can look to Apple’s introduction of the iPhone as the milestone that opened people’s eyes to the possibilities of being multi-device people in a multi-device world. Once you have two devices, you’ll want your stuff on both, and a whole online/sync/SaaS/cloud world has grown into that space now. It’s been exciting to see the Mac become the platform of choice for web app / SaaS development.

Beta Track

Why I Just Started Caring About macOS, by Mark Sullivan, Fast Company

I began to feel differently when I saw Apple software vice president Craig Federighi introduce the new macOS last week at the company’s annual developer conference. Many of the new features in Mojave, as the new OS is called, in keeping with Apple’s California-focused naming conventions, were inspired by pro users but will be useful to everyone, said Federighi. His demo was convincing: I got that “ooh I want that” several times as I saw new productivity features I could imagine myself actually using. In terms of practical, useful new features, I would argue macOS Mojave even outshined iOS 12 during Apple’s WWDC demos.

Apple Previews The Apple Books App Replacing iBooks On iOS This Fall, by Brain Heater, TechCrunch

Like iBooks, the new app includes an editorial section. That’s similar to what the company’s been doing with services like Apple News and the App Store, bringing human writers in to editorially curate book picks. Audiobooks are being served up more prominently here, as well, with the addition of a devoted tab.


MacBook Pro 2017 Suffers From SSD/logic Board Problem, by Ed Hardy, Cult of Mac

The 13-inch Touch Bar-less MacBook Pro 2017 has a problem that requires the solid state drive and the logic board to be replaced if either one fails.

This warning comes from Apple, who notified its stores and authorized repair providers of the issue.

Firefox 12 For iOS Arrives With File Downloads, Unified Share Extension, And Easier Syncing, by Emil Protalinski, VentureBeat

Mozilla today released Firefox 12 for iOS, which brings support for downloading files, a unified share extension, and easier syncing.

SleepScore Labs Releases First ‘Clinically Validated’ Contactless Sleep Tracking App For iPhone, by Peter Cao, 9to5Mac

Similar to other sleep tracking apps, SleepScore will be using the iPhone’s microphone to detect sound waves that are reflected off the user’s body. It uses this information in its algorithms to detect how you’re sleeping, (awake, light sleep, deep sleep, or REM).


Apple Can't Protect You From Data Trackers Forever. No One Can, by Alfred Ng, CNET

While privacy experts applaud Apple's new features, they say it's more like putting a Band-Aid on the internet's massive privacy wound. That a company as massive and influential as Apple could struggle to adequately protect its users underscores the lengths to which trackers will go to get at your personal information. After all, Apple's move pits it directly against an industry that includes Facebook and Google -- companies that make it their business to track your information for targeted advertising.