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Archive for July 2018

The Entire-Top-Case Edition Monday, July 16, 2018

Apple Says Third-Generation Keyboards Exclusive To 2018 MacBook Pro, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

When asked if Apple Stores and Apple Authorized Service Providers will be permitted to replace second-generation keyboards on 2016 and 2017 MacBook Pro models with the new third-generation keyboards, if necessary, Apple said, no, the third-generation keyboards are exclusive to the 2018 MacBook Pro.

2018 Keyboard Will Not Be Used To Repair 2016, 2017 Macbook Pros, by Stephen Hackett, 512 Pixels

When a MacBook Pro’s keyboard is replaced, it’s actually the entire top case, with the keyboard and battery along for the ride. It is not an efficient repair, and one that was going to eventually lead to part compatibility issues between generations.

Finding That Balance

How To Make This The Summer Of Missing Out, by Hayley Phelan, New York Times

JOMO, is not a misspelling of “mojo” but, rather, stands for “joy of missing out.” The antithesis of FOMO (fear of missing out), JOMO is about disconnecting, opting out and being O.K. just where you are.

It’s a lot like that age-old wisdom about being present — only retrofitted for a world in which missing an email could be a fireable offense, and deleting Bumble could mean you don’t go on a date for another three months. Like it or not, we need our technology devices; we just don’t need them as much as we think we do. JOMO is about finding that balance.

Smartphones Killed Handwriting. Let’s Bring It Back., by David Pierce, Wall Street Journal

The pen isn’t going to replace your keyboard or touch screen, but when you’re in a meeting and don’t want to hide behind a big screen, or when you’re marking up a contract, you might want to reach for your pen.

The Store

Personal App Store Stories From The MacStories Team, by MacStories

The story of the App Store doesn't just belong to Apple, nor is it limited to the developers who have made the App Store such a vibrant marketplace. Everyone who has ever downloaded an app on their iPhone, iPad, or even iPod Touch has their own story of the App Store's impact on their life. In that vein, here are the MacStories team's personal stories of what the Store and its products have meant to us.

The App Store At 10: The Next Decade, by MacStories

Just as no one 10 years ago could have predicted where the App Store would have brought us today, so is it impossible to guess what the next decade might bring. There's no stopping us from trying though.

As we close out our App Store anniversary week coverage, here are our hopes and expectations for the next 10 years.

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Occasionally, Netflix will forget to sync up my play position of the various shows I am watching across the different devices, and I have to manually sync up by dragging that play pointer across multiple episodes.

Reminds me of rewinding my VHS tapes.

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No, I have no idea how to write using a pen anymore.

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Thanks for reading.

The Writing-the-History Edition Sunday, July 15, 2018

App Preservation: Saving The App Store’s History, by Federico Viticci, MacStories

Very few people would be sad that their favorite fart app from 2008 was never updated for 64-bit and got nuked by iOS 11, but the same isn't true for pioneering titles that were essential in writing the history of the App Store. And while the topic of software preservation has been addressed by other industries, Apple has largely ignored this conversation, treating all apps as equal commodities in spite of the fundamental role that some of them played in the history of the App Store, the art of gameplay design, and, ultimately, our culture.

On the tenth anniversary of the App Store, and looking ahead to the App Store's next 10 years, this feels like a discussion worth having.

Sweet, by Dr. Drang, And Now It’s All This

No one wants to go back to the days before the App Store, but it is worth remembering that clever developers gave us useful things even when they were stuck in the molasses of the sweet solution.

Apple Loses Key Sales Executives As India Strategy Stumbles, by Saritha Rai, Bloomberg

Apple Inc. has lost a trio of pivotal executives in India in recent weeks as it struggles to boost iPhone sales in the world’s fastest-growing major smartphone market, people familiar with the matter say.

Among the executives who’ve departed are its national sales and distribution chief, the head of its commercial channels and mid-market business, and the head of telecom carrier sales, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing internal matters. Apple’s Indian sales team is now undergoing a restructuring, one of the people said.

Stuff

Apple's New Leather MacBook Sleeve Is Finely Crafted And High Quality -- But At A Cost, by Andrew O'Hara, AppleInsider

These simple sleeves don't have a lot of fancy features like other cases, but they are just minimalistic enough to get the job done. They are quite well made, even if the price tag is a bit high. If you can get over the three-figure price tag, these are great sleeves for taking your Mac with you on the go.

Apple Celebrates The World Cup Final With Apple․com Overhaul, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Ahead of the World Cup final tomorrow between France and Croatia, Apple is joining the fun. The company has overhauled both its French and Croatian websites with a short soccer-themed videos.

Notes

Apple Telegraphs, by M.G. Siegler, 500ish Words

It feels like we’re actually now past “peak” MacBook. The recent reception of things like the TouchBar and the broader new keyboard have ranged from “meh” to outrage. Many people still believe the MacBook Air was the pinnacle of the line. Apple seems out of ideas for how to improve the MacBook, they can only now make it slightly faster (with the latest Intel chips) or slightly worse (with their cosmetic changes that backfire).

The next real change is the ARM MacBook. It’s not quite whittling down the MacBook into an iPad, but it’s not completely not that either. Imagine a device that was thinner and lighter than even the current tiny MacBook. Imagine one with battery life that was twice as long. Imagine one with an edge-to-edge screen. Imagine one that could run iOS apps…

It’s pretty easy if you try.

The Inconvenient Truth About Cancer And Mobile Phones, by Mark Hertsgaard, The Guardian

Lack of definitive proof that a technology is harmful does not mean the technology is safe, yet the wireless industry has succeeded in selling this logical fallacy to the world. The upshot is that, over the past 30 years, billions of people around the world have been subjected to a public-health experiment: use a mobile phone today, find out later if it causes genetic damage or cancer. Meanwhile, the industry has obstructed a full understanding of the science and news organisations have failed to inform the public about what scientists really think. In other words, this public health experiment has been conducted without the informed consent of its subjects, even as the industry keeps its thumb on the scale.

The External-Displays Edition Saturday, July 14, 2018

Apple’s True Tone Technology Will Work With A Few External Displays, by Ashley Carman, The Verge

They include: Apple’s Thunderbolt Display, which uses the Apple Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter, LG’s UltraFine 5K, and LG’s UltraFine 4K.

The Great Apple Keyboard Cover-Up, by Sam Lionheart, iFixIt

Apple has cocooned their butterfly switches in a thin, silicone barrier.

This flexible enclosure is quite obviously an ingress-proofing measure to cover up the mechanism from the daily onslaught of microscopic dust. Not—to our eyes—a silencing measure. In fact, Apple has a patent for this exact tech designed to “prevent and/or alleviate contaminant ingress.”

Could You Make It Through Dinner Without Checking Your Phone?, by Claire Ballentine, New York Times

Some restaurants, partly from irritation when patrons take pictures of the food, place limits on cellphones in their dining rooms. Others, including in Chicago and San Antonio, have banned them entirely.

Hearth is taking a softer approach — there are no rules, just the containers on each table. A note on top says, “Open me!” Inside is an invitation to stash your phone during the meal.

Stuff

Nutritrack Nutrition App Developed By Pensacola Couple Is 'Loved' By Apple, by Jacob Newby, Pensacola News Journal

Both Marcus and Maria are into nutrition and eating healthy, but the driving force behind the app's creation is Marcus' Celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder that leads to intestinal damage when consuming gluten.

The couple wanted to develop an app that could aid people with dietary restrictions in finding out what kind of food they should or should not be eating based on their condition, and what kind of nutrients their bodies need based on their height, weight, diet and activity levels.

Can An App That Reminds Me I’m Going To Die Really Make Me Happier?, by Kiran Sidhu, iNews

This morning I woke-up and looked at my iPhone, there was a message, it said: “Don’t forget you’re going to die.”

I have a new app, it’s called, WeCroak. It reminds me five times a day I’m going to die – just in case I’ve forgotten by teatime. In Bhutan they say that contemplating death five times daily brings happiness. This app reminds me so beautifully: “Don’t forget you’re going to die” – followed by a quote relating to death. Today’s first quote: “How fine the mesh of death. You can almost see through it.” This reminder of my death has replaced the first greeting of the day from my husband: “Morning, beautiful!” I like veracity in the morning; the app’s more credible than my husband’s declaration.

Add Years To Your Life With These 4 'Work Break' Apps, by Raji Arasu, Entrepreneur

We’ve rounded up four of the best tools for reminding yourself to take a break at work so that you can, well, “live long and prosper.”

Develop

When Algorithms Surprise Us, by Janelle Shane

When machine learning algorithms solve problems in unexpected ways, programmers find them, okay yes, annoying sometimes, but often purely delightful.

So delightful, in fact, that in 2018 a group of researchers wrote a fascinating paper that collected dozens of anecdotes that “elicited surprise and wonder from the researchers studying them”. The paper is well worth reading, as are the original references, but here are several of my favorite examples.

Notes

Apple’s New Outdoor Amphitheater And Retail Store In Milan, Italy Set To Open On July 26th, by Michael Steeber, 9to5Mac

Apple Piazza Liberty, named after its location in a historic plaza bordered by other premium retailers, boasts a noteworthy compliment of architectural features differentiating it from any previous Apple store. The design begins with an expansive, outdoor amphitheater that steps downward from the plaza toward fountains that create a stunning wall of water. The waterfall, symbolizing Milan’s connection to canals, also serves as the store’s entrance. Visitors will descend through the fountain to the subterranean store floor below, where 230 employees are expected to work.

Apple Partners With Malala Foundation To Fight For Equal Education Opportunities For Girls In Brazil, by Peter Cao, 9to5Mac

Apple has today begun supporting the Malala Foundation in Latin America to help provide educational opportunities for girls. The collaboration will be between the foundation and Apple’s 10 Developer Academies in Brazil.

The More-Flexible Edition Friday, July 13, 2018

I Actually Like USB-C Dongles, by Alex Cranz, Gizmodo

Do I miss the convenience of having a single machine that packs everything I could ever need inside? Sure. It was convenient! But being up to customize my USB-C dongle load-out every day is a nice feeling, too. It might not be as convenient, but it’s a lot more fun and a lot more flexible.

Adobe To Launch Photoshop For iPad In Strategy Shift, by Mark Gurman and Nico Grant, Bloomberg

Adobe’s chief product officer of Creative Cloud Scott Belsky confirmed the company was working on a new cross-platform iteration of Photoshop and other applications, but declined to specify the timing of their launches.

“My aspiration is to get these on the market as soon as possible,” Belsky said in an interview. “There’s a lot required to take a product as sophisticated and powerful as Photoshop and make that work on a modern device like the iPad. We need to bring our products into this cloud-first collaborative era.”

10 Years Of App Store Controversies, by Ryan Christoffel, MacStories

Apple created and has maintained the safety of its closed platform thanks to its thorough review procedures and guidelines. Every app on the App Store must follow Apple's rules, which for the most part is widely accepted as a good thing. If an app's aims are nefarious, it should be rejected by Apple and, hence, not allowed in public view. However, throughout the App Store's life, there have regularly been controversial app rejections that stirred up the Apple community. Here are a few of those controversies.

Stuff

Apple-owned Magazine Subscription Service Simplifies Its Fees, by Luke Dormehl, Cult of Mac

Now Texture has lowered the price for the Premium Plan to $9.99. In essence, this means that all customers should now have access to the widest possible range of publications for just ten bucks a month!

Apple’s Back To School Promotion Once Again Offers Students Free Beats Headphones, by Chaim Gartenberg, The Verge

It might feel like summer just started, but Apple’s Back to School promotion is now live, starting today through September 25th, once again offering students who buy new Macs and iPad Pros some free Beats headphones.

Apple Shows Off Apple Pay Cash In Latest Advertisement, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

This video focuses on Apple Pay Cash and how it can be used between roommates to easily handle things such as rent payments.

National Geographic Turns Top 2018 Travel Photos Into iPhone-friendly Wallpapers, by Buster Hein, Cult of Mac

Some of the best photos from National Geographic’s travel photographers of the year are now available as free wallpapers for iPhone, iPad and Mac. The collection includes images from a wide range of photographers. They’ve been divided into categories for nature, cities and people so you’re bound to find a few that catch your fancy.

Farrago Soundboard App For Mac Gains MIDI Support, Accessibility Improvements, More, by Zac Hall, 9to5Mac

Farrago 1.2 brings MIDI support, multi-tile editing, and accessibility improvements to the Mac soundboard app.

Develop

Weaponization Of A JavaScriptCore Vulnerability, by Nick Burnett

Software bugs come in many shapes and sizes. Sometimes, these code defects (or ‘asymmetries’) can be used to compromise the runtime integrity of software. This distinction is what helps researchers separate simple reliability issues from security vulnerabilities. At the extreme, certain vulnerabilities can be weaponized by meticulously exacerbating such asymmetries to reach a state of catastrophic software failure: arbitrary code execution.

Notes

Apple Announces $300 Million Clean Energy Fund In China, by Chloe Aiello, CNBC

Apple in partnership with several of its suppliers announced on Thursday a $300 million fund for investing in renewable energy projects in China. The China Clean Energy Fund aims to produce at least 1 gigawatt of energy — or enough to power about 1 million homes — through fully renewable means over the next four years.

[...]

China may be a receptive market for incubating renewable energy initiatives, but for smaller companies with limited resources, transitioning to clean energy can be challenging. Apple hopes the scale of the China Clean Energy Fund will give fund participants greater purchasing power to pivot toward clean energy.

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I don't think I've ever used Photoshop before. In fact, I don't think I've ever pirated Photoshop before.

:-)

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Thanks for reading.

The Impressive-Bump Edition Thursday, July 12, 2018

Apple’s New MacBook Pros Have The Latest Intel Processors And Quieter Keyboards., by Dieter Bohn, The Verge

Apple is updating its top-tier MacBook Pros today with newer processors, more configuration options, True Tone displays, and a “quieter” keyboard design. The updates won’t fully address all of the concerns that have surrounded the MacBook Pro lineup in recent months. At least one complaint can be laid to rest for the time being: the processor options are no longer woefully out of date. Apple says that the 15-inch model will have a 70 percent performance increase, and the 13-inch model should double in speed.

[...]

For the Pro models, these updates are more than just spec bumps to the latest processor. But they’re not radical redesigns either. The 15-inch MacBook Pro gets the more impressive bump. It will come with a 6-core, eighth-generation i7 or i9 Intel processor and the ability to spec up the RAM to 32GB of DDR4 memory and the storage to 4TB. The top-line processors can run at 2.9GHz with Turbo Boost up to 4.8GHz, and the GPUs are Radeon Pros with 4GB of video memory.

Apple Worked With Blackmagic On A New External GPU, by Sam Byford, The Verge

To go alongside the newly updated MacBook Pros, Apple is selling a product for users who need more graphic processing power. Apple worked with cinema company Blackmagic on an external GPU based around a Radeon Pro 580 with 8GB of video memory. Apple says it should give 2.8x faster graphics performance on the 15-inch MacBook Pro and 8x faster on the 13-inch.

Apple’s MacBook Pro Refresh Puts The Focus Back On Creative Pros, by Brian Heater, TechCrunch

It’s all part of a difficult balance for Apple. A majority of users will never edit 4K feature films or develop VR games. For most of us, the truly high-end upgrades will have little impact on our day-to-day use. Though the addition of Siri functionality and that newer, quieter keyboard are certainly welcome.

Catering to pros, meanwhile, is the sort of thing that pays off in spades down the road, much like Apple’s longstanding education play. The company was seen as taking its eye off the ball and allowed the competition to usurp some of that ownership. With the iMac and MacBook Pros, coupled with those upcoming macOS updates, the company is making it clear that the category is still a key to Apple’s future.

The New MacBook Pro Keyboards Are Quieter, But Otherwise Unchanged, by Brian Heater, TechCrunch

The butterfly switches are the same, and they offer the same amount of key travel as their predecessors. The company won’t actually say what it’s done here to lower the clickity-clack (that’s going to be a job for some teardown artists), but it’s certainly an improvement.

The MacBook Pro Gets Its Own Official Apple Leather Sleeve, by Brian Heater, TechCrunch

Today’s new MacBook Pros mean new MacBook Pro sleeves. They’re essentially the same leather/microfiber combo as the standard MacBooks, albeit altered to fit the larger notebooks’ footprint.

Apple Stops Selling 2015 MacBook Pro, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

The discontinuation of the 2015 MacBook Pro puts even more pressure on the new models to satiate Apple’s customer base who were unhappy.

First Accessible Smartphone

How The iPhone And App Store Have Redefined Accessible Software, by Steven Aquino, MacStories

Yet for everything the iPhone has meant to smartphones and to the world, there is a segment of users for which the iPhone has been truly revolutionary: disabled people. For many people with disabilities, myself included, the iPhone was the first accessible smartphone. The device’s multitouch user interface and large (for the time) display represented a total break from the smartphone conventions of the day. An unheralded ramification of this was how accessible these features made the iPhone. For example, the soft keyboard allowed users to compose text messages and emails without struggling with the T9 keyboards that were commonplace at the time. Likewise, the iPhone’s 3.5-inch display was considered large for the day, which made seeing content markedly easier than on the postage stamp-sized displays that dominated cell phones then. It’s a testament to the original iPhone’s greatness that its fundamental components were so solid that they redefined accessible computing, all without being "accessible" in the traditional sense. Its impact is put into greater perspective when you consider the first two versions of iOS (née iPhone OS) didn’t contain discrete accessibility features. The first bunch, VoiceOver, Zoom, and Mono Audio debuted in 2009 with the 3GS.

Developers’ Decade-Long Rollercoaster Ride: The Business Of Selling Apps On The App Store, by John Voorhees, MacStories

It’s hard to overstate the meteoric growth of the App Store as a marketplace. Over the course of a decade, the App Store’s history has been dominated by rapid growth and constant change that’s been highlighted by spectacular successes, failures, and controversies. Nowhere has that change been more pronounced than the economics of the App Store. It’s a story that has had a profound effect on the way software is sold and how users relate to the apps they use.

Beta Track

I Used Apple’s New Controls To Limit A Teenager’s iPhone Time (And It Worked!), by Brian X. Chen, New York Times

These early results should be welcome news to people who are growing increasingly concerned about long-term addiction to smartphones. There have been other ways to limit use, including apps like Moments, which have many of the same features as Screen Time. But none of them have been embedded into a phone like Apple’s new software.

I Tracked My iPhone Usage For A Week And This Is What I Learned, by Samuel Gibbs, The Guardian

All these patterns and more are plain to see when you have the data on hand, which is precisely what Apple’s Screen Time and Google’s upcoming Dashboard aim to do. While I wouldn’t say I’m addicted to my phone (although maybe I’m just in denial), I certainly pick it up more than I thought I would. Perhaps it’s time to put the phone down and ignore the vibrations, real or not.

Stuff

When Did Apple's Built-in Apps Get So Good?, by Charlie Sorrel, Cult of Mac

It used to be that the first-party iOS apps were only used by people who didn’t care enough to download something better. Mail, Notes, Contacts, the Calendar — all of these were immediately dumped into a junk folder by experienced users, to be replaced with a proper app. But something happened along the way to 2018. Now, Apple’s apps are every bit as good as third-party apps. (Well, mostly. The Contacts app is still awful.)

Today we’ll take a look at a few of Apple’s surprise hits.

Apple Discontinues Its Own Photo Printing Service, Recommends Third-party Photos Projects Apps Instead, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

Later this year, Apple will stop offering the service altogether. A new message in macOS 10.13.6 Photos app says that final orders for Apple’s built-in service must be placed by September 30, 2018.

Sonos Update Adds AirPlay 2 Support, by Jason Snell, Macworld

Perhaps most impressively, all AirPlay 2 speakers can play music in perfect synchronization. If you’ve got a HomePod or two and a compatible Sonos device, you can now select all those devices and play music through them, entirely in sync. Even better, if you’ve got incompatible Sonos devices and place them in the same group as an AirPlay 2-compatible Sonos device via the Sonos app, those speakers will also play synchronously. I was able to get music to play in sync throughout my house this morning, via a paired set of HomePods, a Play:5, and the (incompatible) Play:1 in my bathroom.

Procreate For iPad Gains New Liquify Filter, Warp Transform Mode And Symmetry Drawing Guide, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

A new Metal 2-powered Liquify feature lets artists push, pull, expand, pinch, and twirl their art using either touch-based gestures or Apple Pencil pressure for more control.

Develop

Reauthorizing Automation In Mojave, by Daniel Jalkut, Bitsplitting.org

I guess at some point I must have hastily denied permission for Xcode (Apple’s software development app) to control the Finder. This resulted in a seemingly permanent impairment to Xcode’s “Show in Finder” feature. I’m often using this feature to quickly navigate from Xcode’s interface to the Finder’s view on the same files. After denying access once, the feature has the unfortunate behavior of succeeding in activating the Finder (I guess that one is whitelisted), but failing silently when it comes to revealing the file.

OK, that’s fine. I messed up. But how do I undo it? Unfortunately, the list of applications in the Security and Privacy preference pane is only of those that I have clicked “OK” for. There’s no list of the ones that I’ve denied, and no apparent option to drag in or add applications explicitly.

My First Open Source Project: Classic Finder, by Ben Szymanski

I’ve learned many things throughout this journey. One of them is that modern user interfaces are absolutely gigantic compared to the user interfaces of the earlier days.

Notes

Why You Should Let A Robot Cook Your Next Meal, by Nick Statt, The Verge

The reality is that modern restaurants in expensive cities are being forced to compromise, either on aspects of customer service like wait staff to achieve high-quality food, or on the quality of the food to achieve the speed and efficiency some customers demand. But another option is automation. Robotics and software advances have made it possible to produce more food at a higher quality and at a price competitive with fast food restaurants.

Technoleviathan, by Brian Hioe, Popula

If you scroll back through the timeline of Facebook’s acquisitions—or if you search for all the startups that Google’s parent company, Alphabet, has bought and absorbed—you can see that Silicon Valley tech giants want to do much more than simply stay ahead of the “competition.” They work differently that that; they are their own competition. Google wants to be more than a mere search engine, and Facebook wants to be more than a mere social network. These companies want to become the crucial, indispensable core of their users’ lives. They want anything that can be done online to be done on their platform.

What they want is what some see China as already having: the integration of a multitude of social services into a single authoritative interface. You can do much more than chat with friends on the main messenger app in China, for example; the ubiquitous mobile app WeChat, owned by Tencent, allows you to make in-store purchases, transfer money, buy groceries, rent a car, and even file lawsuits, all through its online payment platform, WeChat Pay.

Can Emotion-regulating Tech Translate Across Cultures?, by Polina Aronson, Aeon

We exist in a feedback loop with our devices. The upbringing of conversational agents invariably turns into the upbringing of users. It’s impossible to predict what AI might do to our feelings. However, if we regard emotional intelligence as a set of specific skills – recognising emotions, discerning between different feelings and labelling them, using emotional information to guide thinking and behaviour – then it’s worth reflecting on what could happen once we offload these skills on to our gadgets.

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I wish Apple can come up with a plastic Apple Watch, so that people whose skin is sensitive to metal can also wear one.

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I think I am mostly using my iPhone to catch up on my RSS feeds, and to listen to audiobooks and podcasts. I'm afraid that, when iOS 12 rolls around, I'll find out that I am not.

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Thanks for reading.

The Siri-and-ML Edition Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Apple Combines Machine Learning And Siri Teams Under Giannandrea, by Matthew Panzarino, TechCrunch

Apple confirmed this morning that the combined machine learning, artificial intelligence and Siri team will be led by the recent hire, who came to Apple this year after an 8 year stint at Google where he led the Machine Intelligence, Research and Search teams. Before that he founded Metaweb Technologies and Tellme.

The internal structures of the Siri and Core ML teams will remain the same, but they will now answer to Giannandrea. Apple’s internal structure means that the teams will likely remain integrated across the org as they’re wedded to various projects including developer tools, mapping, Core OS and more. ML is everywhere, basically.

Apple Fixed Bug In iOS 11 That Crashed Devices When Users Entered The Word 'Taiwan', by Tim Hardwick, MacRumors

Wardle explained that although some aspects of the bug remained unclear, his investigations found that a "null" code would prompt the crash when a "removeEmoji" operation led the system to check the device's language/region settings.

The glitch appears to be of Apple's own making, given that iOS contains code that hides the Taiwanese flag emoji on devices set to the China region. Apparently the code worked for iOS devices set to China, but caused crashes on devices set to other regions.

The Winner Of The World Cup Is Apple, by Mike Murphy, Quartz

FIFA has pretty strict rules around what it calls “ambush marketing,” where a brand pays players to wear or use its products before or during World Cup games, even though that company has not paid to be an official World Cup sponsor. It’s why any player you see wearing Beats headphones before a game, for example, has the company’s logo taped over.

But both Beats and AirPods have a distinctive look that is difficult to mask, even with the branding obscured.

Unmitigated Success

A Decade On The App Store: From Day One Through Today, by Alex Guyot, MacStories

The early days of the App Store were a journey into the unknown for Apple, third-party developers, and users alike. The economics of the store were entirely unrealized – nobody knew which app ideas would work or how much they could charge for an app. Apple's processes for approving apps were primitive, their developer documentation was fallow, and they still thought it a good idea to make developers sign a non-disclosure agreement in order to access the SDK (software development kit). For iPhone users, every new app could completely revolutionize their mobile experience, or it could be another icon they never tapped on again.

Despite this uncertainty, developers pushed forward with their ideas, Apple hustled as many apps through approval as it could, and on July 10, 2008, users exploded enthusiastically onto the scene. Within the first year of the App Store, iPhone and iPod Touch owners had already downloaded over 1.5 billion apps. From the beginning it was clear that the App Store would be an unmitigated success.

10 Years Of The App Store: The Design Evolution Of The Earliest Apps, by Michael Steeber, 9to5Mac

Few contemporary innovations have changed how we live our lives and interact with the world around us more than iPhone apps. The creators of the first 500 available at launch had the unique opportunity of shaping the design direction and interaction methods of the millions of apps created since.

To celebrate the App Store’s 10th anniversary, let’s study the visual evolution of 10 original App Store apps.

Stuff

Professional Illustrator App Affinity Designer Now Available On iPad For Just $13.99, by Jeff Benjamin, 9to5Mac

Serif has taken full advantage of the iPad’s multi touch gestures in a way that allows users to pull off all sorts of quick shortcuts without delving deep into the app’s deep menu set. It’s not a mere port of the Mac version, but a feature-complete illustration app that’s built from the ground up with touch in mind.

LiquidText PDF Reader Gives Paper The Upgrade It Needs, by Luke Dormehl, Cult of Mac

“Things like organizing your thoughts, gathering knowledge spanning different documents, finding connections, taking notes without losing their context — which are all hard to do on paper — are generally all hard to do in digital as well,” Tashman said. “LiquidText makes this easy. It’s designed around the way you think, not around paper.”

LiquidText PDF Reader works beautifully, precisely because Tashman scrapped the paper concept. His powerful app lets you add in-depth annotations and edits that simply can’t be done using the regular “comment” features found on the likes of Google Docs.

Comparing The Five Major Digital Magazine Subscription Services, by Roger Fingas, AppleInsider

Unless you're militantly against Amazon, the answer is probably Kindle Unlimited. It's just impossible to ignore the extra benefits of the service — after all, why limit yourself to magazines when you could also be reading books on the subway, or listening to them while lifting weights?

Notes

Japan Watchdog: Apple May Have Breached Antitrust Rules With iPhone, by Reuters

“Obliging carriers to offer subsidies (for iPhones) could have prevented the carriers from offering lower monthly charges and restricted competition,” the FTC said in a statement.

The FTC, which began looking into Apple’s sales practices in 2016, did not punish Apple as the U.S. company had agreed to revise its contracts with the carriers, it said.

Ex-Apple Worker Charged With Stealing Self-driving Car Trade Secrets, by Stephen Nellis, Reuters

U.S. authorities charged a former Apple Inc (AAPL.O) employee with stealing trade secrets on Monday, accusing him of downloading a blueprint related to a self-driving car to a personal laptop before trying to flee the country for China, according to a criminal complaint filed in federal court.

[...]

“We’re working with authorities on this matter and will do everything possible to make sure this individual and any other individuals involved are held accountable for their actions,” Apple said in a statement.

Have The Tech Giants Grown Too Powerful? That’s An Easy One, by John Herrman, New York Times

As these companies grew, they did more than just vanquish their competition. Their growth and free-service benevolence succeeded at making the very idea of competitors’ challenging their efforts — the industry’s traditional way to solve the problems they’ve created — seem unnecessary or even counterproductive. They’ve ducked the easy questions for so long that it’s reasonable to suspect that they doubt we will like the answers.

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Every little thing -- just another option in the preference pane, just add a dialog box to give one more option, just remove a flag from the Emoji set -- adds complexity that must be countered with QAs and support resources. Do not forget this the next time you want to add just one tiny thing to your project.

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Thanks for reading.

The Resets-Counter Edition Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Apple's iOS 11.4.1 Update Makes USB Restricted Mode Active, by Roger Fingas, AppleInsider

With iOS 11.4.1, Apple has quietly turned on USB Restricted Mode, a feature designed to make it harder for hackers — as well as spy and law enforcement agencies — to gain physical access to iPhones and iPads.

Apple’s iOS Passcode Cracking Defense Can Be Bypassed Using A USB Accessory, by Nick Statt, The Verge

Researchers at cybersecurity firm ElcomSoft have found a loophole that resets the one-hour counter so long as you plug a USB accessory into the iPhone’s Lightning port, regardless of whether the phone has ever connected to that accessory in the past. [...] This seems not so much a severe vulnerability as just a mistake on Apple’s part. Afonin says as much, calling it “probably nothing more than an oversight.”

Apple Releases macOS High Sierra 10.13.6, Highlights AirPlay 2 For iTunes, by Peter Cao, 9to5Mac

This means that you’ll now be able to officially play audio through multiple AirPlay 2 enabled devices, as well as get a proper list of Stereo-paired HomePods.

Sweet Solution

Before The App Store: The “Sweet Solution” Of Web Apps And Developers’ Relentless Passion, by Ryan Christoffel, MacStories

Developers, understandably, were excited about the potential of what they could do with the first product that lived up to its name as a true smart_phone. Yet between the iPhone's unveiling in January 2007 and its release nearly six months later, there was nary a hint of an iPhone SDK (software development kit). Instead, Apple shared what it infamously called a "sweet solution" for third-party apps on iPhone: web apps.

Every now and then Apple executives recite phrases that the tech community never lets them live down: the iPhone headphone jack removal took "courage," the later-proven-faulty 2013 Mac Pro design evoked Phil Schiller's boast, "can't innovate anymore, my ass," and, of course, there are Steve Jobs' words from WWDC 2007 to a crowd of developers pining for tools to make iPhone apps.

The Revolution Steve Jobs Resisted: Apple's App Store Marks 10 Years Of Third-party Innovation, by Stephen Silver, AppleInsider

As Apple demonstrated in an "oral history" it released a few days before the anniversary, the App Store has not only grown exponentially in its ten years of existence, but it's also been at the forefront of all sorts of innovations in technology, culture and entertainment over the course of the decade.

The App Store has helped facilitate major growth in the content streaming revolution, as well as geolocation, e-commerce and even online dating, while also forever changing what it means to be a software developer.

All that, and Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was reportedly resistant to the idea at first.

Develop

Apple Makes Searchable WWDC 2018 Session Video Transcripts Available, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Apple’s transcripts are linked directly with each video, meaning developers can search in the transcript and then immediately jump to that part of the video. You can also see al instances where a keyword is mentioned and share time stamped links.

Notes

Apple's Adware Problem, by Tom Brossman

Apple users have an adware problem. Specifically, Apple fails to label adware in their App Store, which means that iOS users are unable to make informed decisions when choosing apps. Even advertising giant Google gets this right, being transparent about the issue and clearly labelling apps in their competing Google Play Store.

Disney Promotes Creative Young Women Filmmakers With Video Series Shot On iPhone X, by Lory Gil, iMore

For the past few years, Disney has been putting its princesses into more empowering roles in both the make-believe and real-life world. Continuing the #DreamBigPrincess social campaign started in 2017, Disney has upped the ante with a new campaign that lets young women make short films starring women that have inspired them.

With the help of Apple and Summerjax, 21 aspiring filmmakers will learn how to shoot, edit, and publish a short film for the DreamBigPrincess campaign.

People Are Using Fitbits And Apple Watches To Monitor Their Heart Rate When Binging On Drugs, by Christina Farr, CNBC

Ethan Weiss, a cardiologist and associate professor at the University of California, San Francisco, said heart rhythm and blood pressure are also impacted by cocaine use and aren't currently trackable by most consumer smart devices. Even most heart rate monitors aren't foolproof. Many studies in recent years have found that popular heart rate trackers are less accurate than a standard chest strap.

"Taking drugs is always a risk, whether you're monitoring a tracker or not," Weiss said. "It's possible this is leading people to do more cocaine."

Bottom of the Page

I sure hope there isn't any bugs in the latest iOS version that will prevent me from backing up my iPhone to my Mac via an USB cable.

Of course, now that almost everything I do on my iPhone is sync-ed up via the different clouds (and servers), I am not sure if I need to continue to back up my iPhone onto my Mac.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Vetting-Process Edition Monday, July 9, 2018

How The App Store Changed My World (And Probably Yours, Too), by Leif Johnson, Macworld

Sometimes Apple does come off as too draconian, as in the case of the Steam Link app, which never saw release on iOS.

With Apple’s vetting process, though, I know I can download every little app that caters to my idiosyncrasies without worrying too much about whether it’s going to force me to undertake a fresh OS install next week. That certainly wasn’t as true in the days when my little Windows laptop was my entire life, when I risked the destruction of weeks of work solely because I wanted an app that helped me outline better.

Apple’s Shortcuts Will Flip The Switch On Siri’s Potential, by Matthew Cassinelli, TechCrunch

But to ignore Shortcuts would be missing out on the bigger picture. Apple’s strengths have always been the device ecosystem and the apps that run on them.

With Shortcuts, both play a major role in how Siri will prove to be a truly useful assistant and not just a digital voice to talk to.

My Mac Mini, Kernel_task, And Dusty Hardware: Bring Back My Mini’s Zing, by Erica Sadun

If you want to point at one change Apple made that said to me: “No mini for you, move to the left!” a la that Seinfeld episode, it was the death of the escape key. The escape key philosophically services a self-reliant power user. And I’m just not sure that Apple is in that market anymore.

Stuff

Four New Apple Ads Portray The iPad As The Easier Way To Handle Notes, Paperwork And Travel, by Ben Lovejoy, 9to5Mac

These present the iPad as a better way to handle notes, paperwork and travel.

Apple Shows Off iPhone X W/ Face ID In Humorous Game Show Ad, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

This one, like many of the ads we’ve seen so far, focuses on Face ID and how it can be used to log-in to third-party applications.

PSA: If You’re Experiencing Excessive Battery On iOS 11.4, It’s Not Just You, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

The primary issue seems to be standby battery life, with users reporting that their iPhone will drain an abnormal amount even when not being actively used.

Nimble Commander Is A macOS File Manager With A Minimalist Design, by Dennis Sellers, Apple World Today

Nimble Commander is a lightweight, small-footprint file manager with an ascetic look and feel. It doesn’t include any bells and whistles, so users who are focused on doing their everyday tasks don’t have to think about how to use it.

Develop

There’s No Such Thing As Motivation, by Aytekin Tank, Medium

But if you’re struggling to do something you care deeply about, go easy on yourself.

Tap into why you started your business, or why you’re flexing your creative muscles in the first place. It’s a much happier way to move through your days.

The Bulk Of Software Engineering In 2018 Is Just Plumbing, by Karl L. Hughes

A small business with 5-10 employees building a software-as-a-service web app needs to have a reliable, secure system, but does it need to be that much more robust than an off-the-shelf service provides? Do you really need AI-powered search, real-time dashboards for every internal team member, microsecond optimizations on your home page, and split testing for every feature you release? Probably not unless you’re just trying to project a facade of success…

Just as a good small business owner should hire a humble plumber who knows the standard tools required for small bathrooms, and will pay him market rate, a good engineering manager should hire humble team players who use industry-standard tools to build reliable software, and pay them market rate.

I Don’t Know How To Create A Website, by Musing Mortoray

The web has been part of my career since the beginning. I’ve created several sites, including apps and games, hell, I’ve even created web development tools, yet I have to admit I no longer know how to create a website. If I sat down right now to create a new site, I’d be even more boggled by the tools and tech than before. I feel like there’s some lesson in programming hiding here.

Notes

We Estimate China Only Makes $8.46 From An iPhone – And That's Why Trump's Trade War Is Futile, by Greg Linden, The Conversation

IPhone imports look like a big loss to the U.S., at least to the president, who argues that “China has been taking out $500 billion a year out of our country and rebuilding China.” One estimate suggests that imports of the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus contributed $15.7 billion to last year’s trade deficit with China.

But, as our research on the breakdown of an iPhone’s costs show, this number does not reflect the reality of how much value China actually gets from its iPhone exports – or from many of the brand-name electronics goods it ships to the U.S. and elsewhere. Thanks to the globe-spanning supply chains that run through China, trade deficits in the modern economy are not always what they seem.

Bottom of the Page

Personally, I don't believe there will ever be any significant updates to the Mac mini line. The idea for a low-cost introduction to the Mac ecosystem for existing Windows customers is no longer relevant since that role has been moved over to the iPad line.

Maybe what we can hope for, instead, is a not-so-low-cost but not-so-high-end version of the Mac Pro?

~

Thanks for reading.

The Sense-of-Security Edition Sunday, July 8, 2018

How To Backup Your Mac: Why I Use 3 Different Solutions, by Henry T. Casey, Laptop Magazine

The thing about backups is that you can never have too many of them — or at least I can never have too many. I've been using not one, not two, but three backup solutions over the past few years: Backblaze, Time Machine and SuperDuper. It's brought me a great sense of security about my data.

Am I crazy? Possibly, but each utility has its own merits. One protects data regardless of where you bring your MacBook, another is perfect for retrieving single files and the third is ideal for restoring your system in as few steps as possible.

AirPods Could Revolutionize What It Means To Be Hard Of Hearing, by Lauren Alix Brown, Quartz

An estimated 15% of the American adult population has hearing loss but less than one-third of those who could benefit from hearing aids, actually use them, in part because of cost. Smartphones, more specifically listening to audio at too high levels, are estimated to put over 1 billion young people at risk for hearing loss, according to the World Health Organization. As the US population ages, it’s likely that the Live Listen will become a more affordable and accessible solution to a growing problem.

The Touch Bar On The MacBook Pro Is Well Implemented, But Serves No Useful Purpose, by Mike Wuerthele, AppleInsider

We can't help but feel that the Touch Bar is a transition to something else. While we'd prefer that tactile keys don't go away, between the short travel on Apple's Butterfly keyboard and the Touch Bar, we're starting to wonder if Apple wants to build a machine without a physical keyboard, and one with all virtual keys.

Beta Track

All The Ways iOS 12 Will Make Your iPhone More Secure, by David Nield, Wired

The annual iOS refresh is on the way—Apple has previewed it, beta testers have installed it, and the rest of us should get iOS 12 when iPhones arrive in September. While features such as winking 3-D emoji and screen-time limits for your apps might take much of the attention when the software arrives, iOS 12 is a major step forward in one other crucial area: smartphone security.

It's something Apple has always prided itself on, with its tightly locked App Store and full device encryption, but iOS 12 is going to make your iPhone more secure than ever before. Here's how.

Stuff

Does The Apple TV Do Enough To Warrant Its Premium Price?, by Bradley Chambers, 9to5Mac

I have a lot of hope for tvOS and Apple TV long-term. It’s got as much future promise as any of Apple’s products. The TV experience still hasn’t been reinvented, and I hopeful Apple is still pulling at strings. AirPlay, Apple Music, and iCloud Photo Library just aren’t enough.

Google PhotoScan Is A Handy Pocket Photo Scanner, by Josh Centers, TidBITS\

It may seem as though all photos are digital these days, but, amazingly, I still come across the occasional physical photo. School photos, my son’s sports photos, and tourist-trap attraction photos still come into our lives on paper, even if they started out digital. Needless to say, that’s annoying because they’re segregated from the bulk of my photo collection, and they’re difficult to share with family and friends. The obvious solution is to scan them, but like many people, I don’t deal with enough physical photos to invest in a quality scanner.

Here’s an alternative. Google’s free PhotoScan app for the iPhone is a quick and easy way to digitize photos while automatically removing glare. PhotoScan doesn’t prompt you to log in to a Google account, reducing the privacy concerns often associated with Google services. And unlike a dedicated photo scanner, it’s always in your pocket, so you can scan a photo no matter where you are.

Develop

I'm Bored, What Do I Do?, by Ibrahim Diallo

To put it in less theoretical words, make something. Create something. Build something. Anything!

Notes

The Rise Of 'pseudo-AI': How Tech Firms Quietly Use Humans To Do Bots' Work, by Olivia Solon, The Guardian

It’s hard to build a service powered by artificial intelligence. So hard, in fact, that some startups have worked out it’s cheaper and easier to get humans to behave like robots than it is to get machines to behave like humans.

“Using a human to do the job lets you skip over a load of technical and business development challenges. It doesn’t scale, obviously, but it allows you to build something and skip the hard part early on,” said Gregory Koberger, CEO of ReadMe, who says he has come across a lot of “pseudo-AIs”.

“It’s essentially prototyping the AI with human beings,” he said.

In The Age Of Despair, Find Comfort On The ‘Slow Web’, by Arielle Pardes, Wired

There is a certain art to sitting down—even in front of a screen—and spending a few minutes meditating on a grassy knoll in England, or joining a stranger on a stroll through Tokyo just as cherry blossoms begin to bloom. One of my favorite “slow web” videos captures the train ride from Bergen to Oslo, a seven-and-a-half hour journey along the spine of Norway. There is no music. No narration. Just seven and a half hours of lakes and mountains, farmhouses dotting the hillsides, snow-dusted mountains, and the occasional interruption of the train conductor announcing the next stop.

The Intricately-Manipulated Edition Saturday, July 7, 2018

The Death Of The Public Square, by Franklin Foer, The Atlantic

And now, the tech giants are racing to insert themselves more intimately in people’s lives, this time as personal assistants. The tech companies want us to tie ourselves closely to their machines—those speakers that they want us to keep in our kitchens and our bedrooms: Amazon’s Echo, Google Home, Apple’s Siri. They want their machines to rouse us in the morning and to have their artificial intelligence guide us through our days, relaying news and entertainment, answering our most embarrassing questions, enabling our shopping. These machines don’t present us with choices. They aren’t designed to present us with a healthy menu of options. They anticipate our wants and needs, even our informational and cultural wants and needs.

What’s so pernicious about these machines is that they weaponize us against ourselves. They take our data—everywhere we have traveled on the web, every query we’ve entered into Google, even the posts we begin to write but never publish—and exploit this knowledge to reduce us to marionettes. All this has become painfully evident in the controversies over Facebook. With this intimate portrait of our brains, Facebook maps our anxieties and pleasure points. It uses the cartography of our psyche to array the things we read and the things we watch, to commandeer our attention for as long as possible, to addict us. When our conversation and debate is so intensely and intricately manipulated, can it truly be said to be free?

Stuff

How To Free Up Space On Your iPhone, by Josie Colt, Wired

Don't let limited storage stop you from taking another Instagram-worthy photo or downloading another album to listen to on the go. It's easy to free up space on your iPhone. Follow our best tips and tricks and you'll lighten the load on your iPhone within an hour.

Review: Tap Is A Futuristic Hand-Worn Keyboard That Lets You Type With Gestures, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

Tap is a hand-worn, futuristic replacement for a keyboard, mouse, and game controller that connects to iPhones and iPads, Macs, and PCs, and other devices using Bluetooth.

Tap fits over your fingers and can be used on any surface, meaning you can do away with a traditional desk, but mastering its use takes some intensive practice that may turn some people away.

Develop

It's The End Of The API Economy As We Know It, by Bob Reselman, ProgrammableWeb

Companies that rely upon third-party public APIs (for example, those from Facebook, Twitter, and other API providers) to do business have always been at risk. This is nothing new. Over the last decade, ProgrammableWeb has watched and reported as many of the APIs that developers rely on (i.e., Netflix, ESPN, Edmunds, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.) have either significantly dialed down their functionality, changed their API terms of service, or shut down altogether. But none of these made mainstream media headlines the way the recent Cambridge Analytica fiasco involving Facebook’s APIs did.

The damage was widespread. Not only has the much-maligned UK-based firm shut down, but many developers are also feeling the pain as Facebook and other API providers adjust their API capabilities accordingly, in many cases without warning.

Notes

Why We Suddenly Care That Google Let App Developers Read Our Gmail, by Will Oremus, Slate

The explanation is not that Google has been backsliding on its privacy practices. It’s that the public and the media are starting to set the bar higher in the wake of Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal—reassessing, along the way, our relationships with some of the world’s biggest internet companies. And that’s a very good thing.

The Milestones-and-Testimonials Edition Friday, July 6, 2018

The App Store Turns 10, by Apple

When Apple introduced the App Store on July 10, 2008 with 500 apps, it ignited a cultural, social and economic phenomenon that changed how people work, play, meet, travel and so much more. Over the past decade, the App Store has created a safe place for users of all ages to get the very best apps and a vibrant app economy for developers of all sizes, from all over the world, to thrive. Today, customers in 155 countries are visiting the App Store more often, staying longer and downloading and using more apps than ever before.

While there have been many notable moments since apps first came to iPhone and later iPad, the milestones and testimonials below reflect some of the most significant over the past 10 years — defining how the App Store democratized software distribution and transformed how we live every day.

15 Years Ago, I Went Indie And Didn’t Know It. – Building Ulysses, by Max Seelemann, Medium

Ulysses has been with me all that time. No matter where I was, no matter what I was doing, I kept coming back to this project. What started as a hobby in my free time somehow turned into a proper company of 12 people.

When thinking back, what strikes me the most is how I never planned to become who I am now. I’d attribute most of my path to a privileged childhood, coincidence, timing, dedication, perseverance and a portion of luck. In hindsight, one could think that I carefully planned the consecutive steps towards a goal. But I never had that big a vision for what I wanted to become, where I wanted to go, what I wanted to do “later in life”. Instead, lazy as I am, life just played out step by step.

Stuff

Apple's Latest 'Shot On iPhone' Short Films Capture The Essence Of Soccer, by AppleInsider

Apple on Thursday published a trio of "Shot on iPhone" short films that take an intimate look at the beautiful game, which for many transcends boundaries to act as a force of identity, meditation and inspiration.

Compare Before/After Edits In Photos, by Adam Engst, TidBITS

The before/after comparison in Photos on the Mac works much the same way as it did in iPhoto. Double-click a photo in Photos and then click the Edit button in the upper-right corner (or press Return) to edit it. Make a change by clicking the Enhance button, tweaking sliders in the Adjust panels, or applying a filter. Then, while you’re still in edit mode, press the M key to see the original image. It sticks around only while the key is down; let go to see the edited image again. You can repeat the action as often as you want and even if you stop editing a photo and return to it later, but remember, it works only in edit mode.

Newton Launches Recap Feature To Remind You Of Email You Missed, by Bradley Chambers, 9to5Mac

If you get massive amounts of email, Recap might be a way to deal with staying on top of the important things.

CARROT Weather Adds Powerful New Weather Maps, by Ryan Christoffel, MacStories

Weather maps were previously a nice-to-have feature of CARROT Weather, but now they're so much more valuable. Future radar especially is a feature I'm sure to get good use out of going forward.

Belkin’s New Lightning-enabled Power Bank Comes With Apple Certification, by Brain Heater, TechCrunch

Belkin’s new portable charger sports a Lightning port in between two standard USBs, so it can be charged up with the same cable you use for your iPhone/iPad.

Twitterrific Removes Push Notifications And Live-streaming Features Ahead Of Twitter API Change, by Peter Cao, 9to5Mac

Starting today, users will no longer be able to receive notifications from Twitterrific, the company said in a blog post. Their answer to this problem is to use the first-party Twitter client. Any users who purchased the Push Notifications Advanced Features on iOS will continue to receive notifications until Twitter deactivates the API, which will be around August 16.

Develop

Apple Opens iOS 12 Shortcuts App Testing To Developers Over TestFlight, by Zac Hall, 9to5Mac

Apple is making its new Shortcuts app in iOS 12 available for developer testing ahead of release through TestFlight. Shortcuts is based on Apple’s acquisition of Workflow and be available in the App Store when iOS 12 is released later this fall.

iPhone App Subscription Fees Doubled In A Year, by Ed Hardy, Cult of Mac

Apple reported today that revenue from subscriptions is up 95 percent over last year.

There are now over 28,000 iOS applications that offer subscriptions. This includes productivity suites like Microsoft Office 365, streaming services like Netflix, dating apps like Tinder, and cloud-storage services like Dropbox.

Databases 101, by Thomas LaRock

A short time ago a colleague asked me where he could find a “Databases 101” guide for the non-technical professional. As it turns out, the internet is littered with information, and mis-information, regarding data and databases. This makes it difficult for someone entering the field of data and databases to understand the bigger picture. He wanted something to help make sense of data and databases, specifically relational versus NoSQL.

So, that’s what I decided to work on. This is the start of my Databases 101 guide for the non-database professional; something to help anyone understand why the word “database” is an overloaded term. We use the term “database” to describe a great many things. To show how far down the rabbit hole we have gone, all you need are three words: “Microsoft Access Database”.

Notes

Apple Music Just Surpassed Spotify’s U.S. Subscriber Count, by Paul Resnikoff, Digital Music News

Apple Music has more paying subscribers in the United States than Spotify, according to confidential details shared with Digital Music News this morning.

The source, a US-based, major distributor, shared a report detailing the subscriber tallies of several streaming music services, including Apple Music, Spotify, Tidal, and Sirius XM. That report now ranks Apple Music as first in the United States, at least among primarily on-demand music streaming services (Sirius XM Satellite Radio, which operates in North America exclusively, has more than 33 million subscribers).

Bottom of the Page

It has been 10 years since everyone finally figured out that the way to install an application is just to tap on a button, and the way to remove an application is just to tap on a different button.

No more DMG files and remembering to eject that virtual drive; no more ZIP files and dragging stuff all over the place; no more InstallShield. Please.

~

I am excited about Shortcuts. I haven't been this excited with a new iOS feature for quite a while. I hope app makers will be upgrading their apps to take advantage of workflows, and not just adding some gimmickry Siri commands.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Left-Handed Edition Thursday, July 5, 2018

10 Reasons You Should Put The Mouse On The Left If You’re Right-Handed, by hb20007, Medium

There is research to support this. In a study, researchers asked volunteers to place their mouse on the left side for a month. Not only were the subjects able to adjust easily and handle computing tasks using smaller movements, it also improved their posture during work because they didn’t have to stretch as far to reach for the mouse (they used desktop computers with keyboards that are longer on the right side because of the numpad). Out of the 27 volunteers, 16 decided to maintain the left-handed placement of the mouse after the experiment ended.

Just Put On An App-y Face, by Freida Marie Crump, My Journal Courier

That’s why I’d hesitated joining the thundering herd of iPhone users. I simply wanted to remain human just a bit longer before the entire world suffers from a digital lobotomy. And that’s why I was directed toward our local tavern instead of church last Sunday morning. Hidden somewhere deep in the bowels of my IPhone is a device that keeps track of where I go and when. Once it gets enough data then it will start directing me instead of the other way around. Apparently the Coonridge barroom is the only business located with a couple of blocks of our church and after my phone learned that I go to church at the same time every Sunday morning it began dinging to direct me to the tavern down the street. When I told the ladies at the coffee klatch that because of them I had started drinking instead of praying on Sunday mornings they just laughed. I reminded them that God would punish them for their sins and we moved on to less digital topics.

Apple Registers Five New iPads And Macs In Eurasian Database, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

We are expecting significant updates to the iPad and Mac lines later this year, and Apple appears to be getting in the admin work early as five new iPad and five new Mac models have turned up in the Eurasian Economic Commission database as found by Consomac.

Stuff

Best Apps For Managing Contacts And Deleting Duplicates On Your iPhone Or iPad, by Lory Gil, iMore

Gone are the days of dusty old address books filled with scribbles and scratched-out contacts in a variety of different colors of ink. Instead, we can keep all of our contacts right on our iPhones and iPads, and updating information doesn't require a second page. But, with advances in storing contacts comes the woes of managing them.

If you feel overwhelmed by how many people you know and all of the different ways in which you can get in touch with them, there is a solution - contact manager apps - and we've got a list of the best ones to suit your needs.

Take The Pane Out Of Using The Mac Finder, by Dennis Sellers, Apple World Today

Personally, I’m not a power user. But in the short time I used Commander One so that I could write this review, I was impressed at how notably faster I was able to navigate about my computer. Very impressive.

Develop

Dark Side Of The Mac: Appearance & Materials, by Kuba Suder, MacKuba

As with the changes in notifications, I’ve set out to collect everything related to dark mode from the WWDC videos this year and organize all the information in a way which makes more sense to me (since in the talks these things are often mentioned in a slightly random order and topics are scattered through multiple sessions). This eventually grew into the longest article on this blog, so instead of deleting some sections, I’ve decided to split it into two parts. This first part will be a bit more theoretical about some underlying features and APIs that make the dark mode work or that are especially relevant now, and the second part will be about the things you need to think about while updating the app (and in the future).

I’ve learned a lot about AppKit while writing this, and I’ve managed to clear up a lot of things which I didn’t fully understand before, so I hope this will help someone else too.

Notes

How Apple's New Software Turned My Life Upside Down, by Adam Clark Estes, Gizmodo

So I’m stuck. I’m stuck with this beta version of macOS until the fall when the official release will drop. I’m stuck with the bugs, and I’m stuck with the frustration. If there’s a silver lining to any of this, it’s the simple fact that I will not make this mistake again. I’ll stop thinking I’m some kind of super user and that I’m capable of using half-finished software for the fun of it. I’ll even be better about backing up my devices in the ways that Apple wants me to, in case I ever do need to restore them. I might even be a better computer user one day. Doubt I’ll ever recover from being a dumbass, though.

Who's Reading Your Gmail? Not Us, Says Google, And We Vet 3rd-party Apps That Do, by Liam Tung, ZDNet

In a blogpost, Google says it allows third-party apps to integrate with Gmail to give users more choice about how to access and use email.

However, the company stresses it is not compensated by developers for granting access to its application programming interface and no longer scans Gmail to serve targeted ads itself. Google ended that practice last year, bringing consumer Gmail in line with G Suite.

Bottom of the Page

If you are wondering if you should install beta software on your machines, then the answer is no. Beta software is not early preview; it's not sneak peek. It's software that contains bugs that may literally delete every single file on your machines.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Accelerating-to-Deliver Edition Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Thoughts On Apple's Rapidly Evolving AI, by Jonny Evans, Computerworld

What I’m saying isn’t a love letter to tech for the sake of it. It's just a simple attempt to articulate how rapidly AI development is accelerating to deliver real solutions to real problems.

Reader Mode In Safari, by J. D. Biersdorfer, New York Times

When you click the Reader button in the Safari address bar, the program analyzes the page for article text and relevant images and puts a reformatted version onto a separate layer on top of the original web page.

Apple Health’s New Health Records Feature Now Works With Even More Providers, by Michael Potuck, 9to5Mac

The full list now includes 65 supported doctors and health systems. Patients will start to see the results of the new API this fall.

Speaking In Code: Hands-free Programming, by Anna Nowogrodzki, Nature

Debilitating hand pain is always bad news, but Harold Pimentel’s was especially unwelcome. As a computational-biology PhD student, his work involved constant typing — and he was born with only one arm. “My adviser jokingly said, ‘Can’t you do this by voice?’” he recalls. Three years later, as a computational-genomics postdoc at Stanford University in California, he does just that.

Pimentel had cubital tunnel syndrome caused by repetitive strain injury (RSI). The syndrome occurs when the ulnar nerve, which travels down the outer edge of the arm, becomes pinched at the elbow, causing numbness, pain and loss of fine motor control in the hands and fingers. RSI can derail the careers of computational biologists and other scientists who code. Now, a small but growing community has developed a workaround: coding by voice command. It takes at least a month of difficult, sometimes frustrating, training to get set up, but coding by voice helps these programmers to keep doing their jobs or continue their studies. And they say that there are unexpected advantages.

Social Media Is 'Deliberately' Addictive, by Hilary Andersson, BBC

"It's as if they're taking behavioural cocaine and just sprinkling it all over your interface And that's the thing that keeps you like coming back and back and back", said former Mozilla and Jawbone employee Aza Raskin.

"Behind every screen on your phone, there are generally like literally a thousand engineers that have worked on this thing to try to make it maximally addicting" he added.

The Strategically-Genius Edition Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Apple's New macOS Mojave Optimizes The Mac For iOS Users, Not PC Switchers, by Daniel Eran Dilger, AppleInsider

If you're worried that Apple was going to throw away Macs to focus on iOS, you can relax. Macs are following the same strategy of interactive enhancement that in retrospect is both strategically genius and also just competent work and artistic craft. Things are just moving a lot faster now.

Developer Shares Proof An iPad With Face ID Is Coming, by Malcolm Owen, AppleInsider

In his post, Steve Troughton-Smith noted that AvatarKit, Apple's framework for operating its Animoji and Memoji features as well as other functions, has been altered in iOS 12 to support an iPad-size screen. A screenshot supplied with the post shows what appears to be the main interface for producing Animoji, but on the larger iPad-style screen.

Apple's Rumored 18W USB-C iPhone Power Adapter Prototype Shown Off In New Photos, by Eric Slivka, MacRumors

Recent rumors and CAD renderings have suggested Apple may be planning to include an 18-watt USB-C charger and a Lightning to USB cable in the box with its iOS devices later this year, allowing for faster charging without requiring users to purchase separate charging accessories at additional cost.

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Timing App Adds Sync For Time Tracking Across Multiple Macs, by Bradley Chambers, 9to5Mac

Timing, the popular time tracking app for macOS, just released a new update for Timing 2. This update will be a game changer for people using multiple Macs.

Review: Lightwave Light Switch, The Best UK HomeKit Solution For Smart Lighting, Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

The Lightwave is the perfect answer for us, it lets us connect our non-standard lighting to a smart light system that anyone can use, either through the Home app or pressing the physical switch. If someone comes over, you don’t need to explain to them what to do. They can use the light switch like a light switch, as it should be.

Facebook Shuts Down 'Moves' Fitness Tracker And Two Other Apps Due To Low Usage, by Tim Hardwick, MacRumors

"Moves", "tbh", and the Android-only "Hello" all face the chop as part of the company's latest app cull. Facebook says the apps are being shuttered because of low usage.

Develop

Anti-Flow, by Michael Lopp, Rands In Repose

Anti-Flow is shower thoughts. They are the random connections your brain makes on a problem, a thought, or an opportunity when you aren’t thinking about that problem, thought or opportunity. The unexpected magical quality of these discoveries might give you the impression that the summoning exercise is equally magical, but I’ve discovered a simple process to create hours of fertile Anti-Flow.

The Hidden Cost Of Touchscreens, by Amber Case, Medium

While analog interfaces aren’t applicable to every situation, they do force designers to make permanent decisions. And because specific choices must be made for physical button placement, it’s harder to design an unusable analog interface. And design decisions must be final. Software interfaces can be quickly changed and deployed without the same process — and the world is filling up with nested, mystery-meat menus and confusing user flows.

Notes

Gmail App Developers Have Been Reading Your Emails, by Shannon Liao, The Verge

Third-party app developers can read the emails of millions of Gmail users, a report from The Wall Street Journal highlighted today. Gmail’s access settings allows data companies and app developers to see people’s emails and view private details, including recipient addresses, time stamps, and entire messages. And while those apps do need to receive user consent, the consent form isn’t exactly clear that it would allow humans — and not just computers — to read your emails.

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Of course the iPad is going to get Face ID. It's just a matter of this year or next year.

I will not be surprise if iPad gets Face ID this year. Next year: iMac's turn.

~

Yes, I know the app is owned by Facebook, and it is not cool these days to be giving private data to apps owned by Facebook, but I am using the Moves app. This app allows me to answer questions such as where the hell did I have lunch last Thursday.

I am now auditioning for replacement apps.

~

The last time I went looking for an app -- to have the app automatically remind me to get off the train when I reach my destination -- and after I try out a few not-so-satisfying apps, it turned out that iOS already have such a feature built-in.

No wonder there wasn't any good apps to do that.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Joyride-Cruising Edition Monday, July 2, 2018

Classic Computing joyride—Cruising Through Modern Workloads On A Macintosh IIsi, by Chris Wilkinson, Ars Technica

Back in September 2014, Ars Technica’s Andrew Cunningham took on a Herculean challenge in modern computing. Egged on by his coworkers, he used a PowerBook G4 running OS 9.2.2 as his “daily driver” for a couple of days, placing a turn of the century bit of hardware into the present tense. It's no surprise that almost nothing was achieved that week (except for, of course, the excellent article).

I had that story on my mind when, many years later while browsing a local online classifieds site, I stumbled across a gem: a Macintosh IIsi. Even better, the old computer was for sale along with the elusive but much desired Portrait Display, a must-have for the desktop publishing industry of its time. I bought it the very next day.

It took me several days just to get the machine to boot at all, but I kept thinking back to that article. Could I do any better? With much less? Am I that arrogant? Am I a masochist?

How An Apple Genius Mysteriously Solved My Aggressive iPhone Charging Problem, by Chris Matyszczyk, ZDNet

"Back there, we've got one of those lights that a doctor uses to look inside your ears," she said, as I tried to look as if I was marveling.

"And we've got a special tool," she added.

She plugged a Lightning cable into my phone and it showed signs of life. Meanwhile, I pondered this special tool.

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What’s The Best Password Manager For macOS And iOS?, by Bradley Chambers, 9to5Mac

Overall, 1Password is just a fantastic app/service. It feels like the most native app to the Apple ecosystem. It has a fair pricing model and has continued to receive updates to take advantage of whatever new features Apple has offered with new versions of iOS and macOS. Other apps like Dashlane and LastPass are great, but 1Password provides, in my opinion, an overall better experience. Safari’s Password Manager is an excellent feature for something built into iOS and macOS, but 1Password is worth every penny. It integrates with all the major browsers for ease of use.

The AudioKit Synth One Is A Pro-level iPad Synth That’s Completely Free, by Dani Deahl, The Verge

The Synth One, which Fecher describes as “the largest free and open-source iOS music project in history,” is a professional-level polyphonic synth created by a team of over 100 volunteers over the course of several years.

Develop

Here's The Difference Between Leading And Managing A Team, by Robert Glazer, Ladders

It takes great leaders and talent to grow a successful company. One of the best descriptions of a leader I’ve heard is that leaders focus on vision and strategy, guiding and removing obstacles for their teams — something like a coach in sports.

Managers typically focus more on the execution piece, working in the business. By contrast, real leadership means providing a compelling vision and clear direction. Successful leaders clarify priorities and expectations, defining employee roles and ensuring that the processes and capacity required for them to execute are in place.

Notes

“I Was Devastated”: The Man Who Created The World Wide Web Has Some Regrets Social, by Katrina Brooker, Vanity Fair

“For people who want to make sure the Web serves humanity, we have to concern ourselves with what people are building on top of it,” Tim Berners-Lee told me one morning in downtown Washington, D.C., about a half-mile from the White House. Berners-Lee was speaking about the future of the Internet, as he does often and fervently and with great animation at a remarkable cadence. With an Oxonian wisp of hair framing his chiseled face, Berners-Lee appears the consummate academic—communicating rapidly, in a clipped London accent, occasionally skipping over words and eliding sentences as he stammers to convey a thought. His soliloquy was a mixture of excitement with traces of melancholy. Nearly three decades earlier, Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web. On this morning, he had come to Washington as part of his mission to save it.

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I do enjoy using Evernote. I do appreciate that there is a native Evernote client in all the platforms that I do use -- iPhone, iPad, Macintosh, and Windows 10.

However, there is one frustration point for me: that the Mac client and the Windows client are similar in general, but different in many important and subtle ways: how to create stacks, how to rename notebooks, etc. This just means that whatever habit I picked up in using the software on one platform cannot be reused in the same software on another platform.

(There must be a Marzipan connection somewhere, but I am too tried to think of one.)

~

The Microsoft of yore had created J++ and C# to counter Java. I wonder what that Microsoft of yore will do with Swift and Marzipan.

~

Oh, and finally, all I want to say is that there are many managers who are masquerading as leaders.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Hasn't-Mattered Edition Sunday, July 1, 2018

Apple And Samsung’s Truce Is The End Of An Era For Design, by Jesus Diaz, Fast Company

The truth is that the provenance of smartphone design hasn’t mattered for a very long time. The iPhone 4 was the last major leap forward from the original iPhone. Since then, we’ve watched years of cross-copying and iterating from every hardware manufacturer. Where we can expect to see innovative design is in software–and in particular, how tech companies are embedding AI in their products (even if it’s largely been through voice assistants that don’t seem all that smart, for now). Meanwhile, the technology underlying all smartphones will keep iteratively evolving, with faster processors and cameras that are incrementally better than the previous model. Just like computers did before smartphones. Or fridges. Or cars. Or any other invention that changed the world.

Lite Fantastic: Why Slimmed-down Phone Apps Are The Fast Way Forward, by Samuel Gibbs, The Guardian

It isn’t just the sheer quantity of apps that is threatening to drown our poor smartphones either. Most of them have ballooned in size becoming bloated messes, filled with feature after feature that you probably don’t use, and taking up far too much space and clogging up your phone in the process.

[...]

But it doesn’t have to be this way. The new push towards lite apps can help – stripped-down versions of your favourite apps that bring the experience back to what made you download it in the first place. Gone are the needless features and with them so too are the countless megabytes of precious storage space they took up. As a consequence they launch way faster and often simply work better.

Apple’s Renovated Palo Alto Store Blends Latest Retail Layout With Classic Design Elements, by Michael Steeber, 9to5Mac

Gone are the narrow product tables and metal shelving that were once built into the store’s walls. In their place are new fixtures that will look familiar to anyone who’s visited a modern Apple store recently. Wood shelving and displays known as Avenues now line the sales area. These displays change seasonly and highlight current areas of Apple’s interest. A splash of greenery provides a quieter place to sit for a moment.

Stuff

Gadgets To Help You Shoot Pro-Quality Movies On Your iPhone, by Arielle Pardes, Wired

As directors like Steven Soderbergh and Sean Baker have shown, you can conjure movie magic with an iPhone.

WhatsApp For iOS Adds New Features For Group Administrators, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Facebook-owned WhatsApp is rolling out a new feature for administrators in groups. Similar to a feature offered by Telegram, this gives administrators the ability to be the only users in a group capable of sending messages.

Notes

Apple Launches New European Job Creation Webpage, Touting Company And App Store Statistics, by Kain Monty, Appleosophy

The new page touts the fact that the company is supporting over 1.7 million jobs with the tech giant spending €10 billion last year alone. Apple also states that Europe-based App Store developers have earned over €20 billion in App Store sales worldwide saying that ‘this is only the beginning’.

Is The “Netflix Of Podcasts” Moment Finally Here?, by Scott Porch, Fast Company

If you want see where streaming audio is headed, the current state of streaming video is a good place to start. The business models, content trends, and user features on video platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video are increasingly making their way to podcast platforms like CastBox and Stitcher.