The Unified-Goal Edition Thursday, June 28, 2018

Apple Is Building A Media Platform Like Never Before, by Ryan Christoffel, Macstories

Once not long ago, Apple's primary media platform was iTunes. Now, hundreds of millions of users consume media every day through Apple's suite of spiritual successors to iTunes.


Apple has one unified goal, I believe, driving all its media efforts: it aspires to utilize hardware, software, and services to provide the entirety of a user's media experience. If you consume media, Apple wants to provide the full stack of that consumption, from media delivery to media discovery. My aim in this story is to share an overview of how that goal is being fulfilled today.

Apple Engineers Its Own Downfall With The Macbook Pro Keyboard, by Kyle Wiens,

Why did it take so long, and so many complaints, for the repair program to be put in place? Why do you need to send your MacBook Pro away for upwards of a week for a repair? That’s easy: because Apple made their product hard for them to repair, too. Apple’s new warranty program is going to cost them a lot of money.

Apple’s profit on every machine that they warranty under this new program has been decimated. There is a real business impact caused by unrepairable product design. Samsung recently had a similar experience with the Note7. Yes, the battery problem was a manufacturing defect. But if the battery had been easy to replace, they could have recalled just the batteries instead of the entire phone. It was a $5 billion design mistake.

But this isn’t just about warranty cost—there is a loud outcry for reliable, long-lasting, upgradeable machines. Just look at the market demand for the six-year-old 2012 MacBook Pro—the last fully upgradeable notebook Apple made. I use one myself, and I love it.

Apple Cutting Off Payment Source Changes For Older Versions Of iOS, macOS & Apple TV, by Roger Fingas, AppleInsider

In an email going out to customers, Apple is alerting people that the cutoff prevents payment switches in iOS 4.3.5, OS X 10.8.5, and Apple TV Software 4.4.4 or earlier. Customers will still be able to access iTunes and the App Store, including making new purchases and downloading previous ones, but will have to use whatever payment method they selected before the end of June assuming that they have no other devices to change the information.

Can We Talk?

Google Duplex Is Calling: We Talk To The Revolutionary (But Limited) Phone AI, by Ron Amadeo, Ars Technica

At I/O 2018, Google shocked the world with a demo of "Google Duplex," an AI system for accomplishing real-world tasks over the phone. The short demo felt like the culmination of Google's various voice-recognition and speech-synthesis capabilities: Google's voice bot could call up businesses and make an appointment on your behalf, all while sounding shockingly similar—some would say deceivingly similar—to a human. Its demo even came complete with artificial speech disfluencies like "um" and "uh."

The short, pre-recorded I/O showcase soon set off a firestorm of debate on the Web. People questioned the ethics of an AI that pretended to be human, wiretap laws were called into question, and some even questioned if the demo was faked. Other than promising Duplex would announce itself as a robot in the future, Google had been pretty quiet about the project since the event.

Then all of a sudden, Google said it was ready to talk more about Duplex. Even better, the company would let me talk directly with the infamous AI. So for an afternoon at least, I wasn't Ron Amadeo, Ars Technica Reviews Editor—I was Ron Amadeo, THEP restaurant employee waiting to field "live" phone calls from a bot.

Google Demos Duplex, by John Gruber, Daring Fireball

If what Google really wanted was just for Google Assistant to be able to make restaurant reservations, they’d be better off building an OpenTable competitor and giving it away to all these small businesses that don’t yet offer online reservations.


Create And Maintain Healthy Habits With The iOS App 'Aloe Bud', by David Murphy, Lifehacker

The app’s premise is simple: You pick from a list of activities, organized by category, which makes the activity’s colorful icons appear on a big grid within the app’s gorgeous UI. Whenever you do something—like drink water, for example—you simple need to tap on the icon and “check in” that activity. Repeat as needed, and you can see how often you’re doing each activity to see how good you are at creating lifestyle habits.

Manage Cloud Storage On Your Mac With CloudMounter, by David Sparks, MacSparky

Specifically, it runs in the Mac's menubar and lets you attach various cloud storage solutions. They’ve got the usual suspects, like Dropbox, Google, Microsoft OneDrive, and Amazon S3. They also have more unexpected providers like Backblaze and various flavors of FTP.

Apple Is Now Selling A Smart Ball That Records Data As You Play, by Tory Foulk, iMore

As you play with it, it sends data via Bluetooth to its accompanying iPhone and iPad app in real time. There are also modes that guide you through specific activities, allowing you and your friends to compete in games like Splash (a water balloon toss game) and Jostle (a version of keep-away where you try to keep the ball still while someone else attempts to move it).


Apple's Beats Owes $25 Million In Royalties To Early Developer, by Edvard Pettersson, Bloomberg

A jury in Los Angeles on Wednesday agreed with Steven Lamar that under a 2007 settlement with Beats’ founders, rapper Dr. Dre and Interscope Records’ Jimmy Iovine, he was entitled to a cut of the sales of the headphones that were based on the original Studio model.

Apple And Samsung Settle Seven-year Long Patent Fight Over Copying The iPhone, by Jacob Kastrenakes, The Verge

Apple and Samsung have finally put an end to their long-running patent battle whose central question was whether Samsung copied the iPhone. In a court filing today, the Judge Lucy Koh said the two companies had informed her that they had reached a settlement. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

Why Is There A ‘Gaming Disorder’ But No ‘Smartphone Disorder?’, by Ian Bogost, The Atlantic

The ICD-11 categorizes gaming disorder as an addictive disorder in the same category as drug abuse. But instead of a substance—a thing one consumes—underlying the addiction, a behavior does—an activity one performs. When the ICD-11 is adopted at the World Health Assembly in May 2019, gaming disorder will join one other behavioral disorder in the classification, gambling disorder.

But wait: Can people truly be addicted to games, like they can to gambling, or to heroin? And even if they can, why is gaming the only official computer-related behavioral addiction? Why not internet or smartphone addiction? Perhaps the issue isn’t that gaming should or shouldn’t be a mental disorder, but that the public is so willing to assume negative behaviors are the result of individual mental defects, rather than more complex social, political, and economic factors.

Bottom of the Page

It is strange to think of Apple as a media company -- because it hasn't been a media company. Yes, it sells movies and TV shows and books and songs and podcasts, but it doesn't produce them. The yet-to-be-named video service is the first business where Apple is both selling and creating content.


Thanks for reading.