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Archive for September 2018

The Guided-Tour Edition Saturday, September 22, 2018

Take A Tour Of iPhone XS, XS Max And XR -- And Apple Park -- In This Video, by Mikey Campbell, AppleInsider

Apple on Friday posted a "Guided Tour" of iPhone XS, XS Max and XR to its official YouTube channel, showing off the hardware's latest features in a video almost identical to one shot for iPhone X in 2017. Unlike last year's instructional guide, the short shared today takes place in and around Apple Park's main office building, offering an inside look at facilities normally restricted to employees.

How Potentially Dangerous Fake Apple Products Reach The US Consumer Market, by Kevin McCoy, USA Today

From outward appearances, the Apple-like products seemed genuine.

However, the chargers and adapters lacked adequate insulation and had improper spacing between the high voltage and low voltage circuits, creating risks of overheating, fire or electrical shocks, Apple charged in a 2016 federal court lawsuit. The case ended with confidential settlements in late May.

Apple's lawsuit provides an inside look at the circuitous shipment routes that bring some overseas-manufactured counterfeits through multiple companies before they reach domestic retail markets and are offered for sale to U.S. consumers.

I’m A Heart Doctor. Here’s Why I’m Wary Of The New Apple Watch, by John Mandrola, Medium

The first obstacle when it comes to AF screening is understanding that the vast majority of people do not have AF, but most people do have normal variation of their heart rhythm, which can mimic AF. Benign premature beats, for instance, can make your rhythm irregular.

This makes ECG accuracy a problem. [...] The specificity of an ECG (its ability to correctly identify people who don’t have AF) is around 90 percent. That may sound good, but the 10 percent of the time that an irregular rhythm is falsely labeled as AF will exert a massive effect in large populations—like the millions of people who may soon own the new Apple Watch.

Spotify CFO On Apple: ‘It’s Not A Software Culture: It’s A Hardware Culture’, by Stuart Dredge, MusicAlly

“Wal-Mart never had more than three people working on home video. They could have been the world’s largest player, but they weren’t,” said McCarthy. “Apple has more than three people working on music, but they have considerably fewer people working on music than we do. And they have fewer engineers still, and it’s not a software culture: it’s a hardware culture.”

McCarthy admitted that Apple’s iPhone ecosystem is a “competitive advantage” over Spotify, but said his company’s strategy is “to build a bigger ecosystem in total than their phone, with partner companies like Samsung, Microsoft, and the Android operating system – which is substantially bigger outside the United States than iOS… and have our success across those platforms enable us to compete. If we do that well, I think our business will prosper. If we don’t? Roadkill.”

Stuff

iOS 12 Automatically Saves iMessage Photos To Your Photos Library, by Charlie Sorrel, Cult of Mac

Now, in iOS 12, these Message photos are saved to the camera roll, even before you actually send the message. As soon as you tap the blue arrow to insert your photo into the message, it is saved.

‘Better You’ Apple Watch Series 4 Ad Is Here To Motivate You, by Buster Hein, Cult of Mac

Titled “Better You,” the ad features a frumpy looking guy and alternative versions of himself utilizing the Apple Watch to get into better shape.

Apple-acquired Beddit Sleep Tracker Shutting Down Cloud Service In November, by Peter Cao, 9to5Mac

Sleep tracking product Beddit — which was acquired by Apple last year — is officially killing off its cloud service on November 15, 2018. Starting today, new users will not be able to sign up for Beddit Cloud.

Notes

Google Suppresses Memo Revealing Plans To Closely Track Search Users In China, by Ryan Gallagher and Lee Fang, The Intercept

The memo, authored by a Google engineer who was asked to work on the project, disclosed that the search system, codenamed Dragonfly, would require users to log in to perform searches, track their location — and share the resulting history with a Chinese partner who would have “unilateral access” to the data.

The memo was shared earlier this month among a group of Google employees who have been organizing internal protests over the censored search system, which has been designed to remove content that China’s authoritarian Communist Party regime views as sensitive, such as information about democracy, human rights, and peaceful protest.

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I do not understand why Live Listen is limited to AirPods, and not available for other wireless headphones.

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Thanks for reading.

The Content-Filtering Edition Friday, September 21, 2018

Apple Tight-lipped On Content-blocking Limits For iOS Apps, by Steven Melendez, Fast Company

Freedom’s iOS app used the platform’s support for virtual private network technology to block access to internet addresses associated with particular apps. For instance, the app could block connections to facebook.com from the Facebook app or Safari, or it could block addresses used by streaming platforms to serve up content. Unlike traditional VPNs that protect privacy by routing internet traffic through encrypted tunnels to secure servers, Freedom didn’t actually send traffic through its own computers. Instead, explains CEO Fred Stutzman, “It uses the VPN API to basically decide what traffic is going to leave the phone, and what traffic is not going to leave the phone.”

Freedom isn’t the only company to have content-filtering software pulled from the App Store. The makers of the ad blocking software AdGuard, which used a similar VPN technique to filter out unwanted ads, discontinued a version of its software in July after receiving a similar rejection. Thomas Reed, director of Mac and mobile at security software company Malwarebytes, tweeted in July that his company had also been affected by the apparent policy shift, though Malwarebytes declined to comment further.

AirPower Referenced In iPhone XS Packaging, iOS 12.1 Code Shows Continuing Development, by Guilherme Rambo, 9to5Mac

Looking into iOS 12.1, we noticed that the component of iOS responsible for managing the charging interface that appears when using AirPower has been updated, which means that Apple is still actively working on the project.

Furthermore, a picture of the “getting started guide” that comes packaged with the iPhone XS clearly mentions AirPower.

Apple Introduces New Data Recovery Process For Macs With T2 Chip, by Jordan Kahn, 9to5Mac

Apple has recently documented a new data recovery process internally for Macs that utilize its T2 chip introduced with the iMac Pro and the 2018 MacBook Pro. The new process for repair staff is being introduced due to the T2 chip’s advanced security features including hardware encryption for SSD storage that isn’t compatible with Apple’s previous data recovery methods used on older machines.

Stuff

Running Down That Dream: Podcast And Interval Training On An Apple Watch, by Jason Snell, Six Colors

But last month I was able to walk out the door of my house with nothing in my pocket but a house key, and go for a run with my favorite podcasts playing in my ears and a running trainer occasionally interrupting (and tapping my wrist) to tell me whether it was time to run or walk.

HomeCam App For HomeKit Cameras Adds Support For Siri Shortcuts, Apple Watch App, More, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

There’s a new companion Apple Watch app that allows you to watch live feeds of your HomeKit cameras directly on your wrist. The Watch app also includes microphone and speaker support, so you can use it as an intercom of sorts.

Develop

Social Media Can Ruin Your Creativity. Don’t Let It, by Fast Company

For many creatives, including independent artists and freelancers, it’s complicated by the fact that business today is often done on social platforms. “I feel like I need to be on social media to know what’s going on in the world, to stay close with my friends, for professional reasons, and simply to stay relevant,” as one anonymous writer put it in the advice section of The Creative Independent, the online resource for creative people.

So, should you delete your social media? The Creative Independent posed the question to artists, producers, and writers, whose responses ran the gamut from “abso-fucking-lutely” to advice on how to modulating your online life and creative practice.

Notes

A Fond Farewell And Tribute To Former Low End Mac Writer Charles W. Moore, by Joe Leo, Low End Mac

A very poignant and fitting quote from Charles was when he was asked how he measures success:

“As a Christian, I affirm the principle that a life is properly lived with a focus on preparation for the next life – a paradigm that was also advanced by Plato. In here and now terms, being of service to others in ways small or more substantial would be my definition of success in life.”

France Bans Smartphones In Schools Through 9th Grade. Will It Help Students?, by Alissa J. Rubin and Elian Peltier, New York Times

France’s education ministry hopes that its smartphone ban, which took effect at the beginning of September and applies to students from first through ninth grades, will get schoolchildren to pay more attention in class and interact more, and several studies suggest such correlations.

Some experts are skeptical that the ban can be enforced, and some teachers question the merits of insulating children from the internet-dominated world they will face outside school. But the French government believes that without minimizing distractions, children will never learn the basics.

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It's great that quite a few of the apps that I frequently use is already supporting the new Shortcuts on iOS 12. I can easily add the playing of my podcast queue as part of my morning routine, for example. (I don't have a morning routine, though.)

But what I really want from the developers is data. For example, I want a shortcut that can make an if-then-else decision on what to play based on the number of podcast episodes in different playlists in different apps.

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Dear Apple: Please allow me to add apps and shortcuts to Control Center. I don't want to talk to Siri when I am in the train.

(Either that, or perhaps there is a really great new and improved Springboard coming in next year's iOS that rumors indicated were postponed from this year's release.)

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Thanks for reading.

The Not-Rendered Edition Thursday, September 20, 2018

Apple Watch Series 4 Screen Designs Are More Than What You Might Think, by Josh Rubin, Cool Hunting

A colorful, new Infograph face houses up to eight complications. Apple has created many new options and third party developers will surely create more. Each complication is also a shortcut to its parent app and given that I use those key functions most of the time, I find myself pulling up the dock menu and main app screen less often than on previous Watch generations.

I vary between this info-dense watch face and the new ultra-minimal and very hypnotic Fire, Water, Liquid Metal and Vapor faces. And these faces are more special than Apple let on during their keynote. They’re not rendered—each face is high resolution video shot in a studio using real fire, water and vapor elements.

The Apple Watch Series 4 Takes Heart Monitoring To Next Level, by Vanessa Hand Orellana, CNET

Imagine, then, if those hundreds of thousands of people had an EKG-capable Apple Watch that could get them on the road to such treatment faster. Even previous pre-EKG Apple Watch models have already been flagging major, potentially life-threatening heart problems. Many of the beneficiaries are younger, seemingly healthy users who would've never suspected they had any kind of serious medical issues in the first place.

In fact, the Apple Watch has already started crossing over into the realm of medical monitor, whether users -- and doctors -- are ready or not.

Apple Watch Series 4, by John Gruber, Daring Fireball

If you want a one sentence summary of what I think of the Series 4 Apple Watch, it’s this: Series 4 is to Apple Watch what iPhone 4 was to iPhone — the model that takes the original design to a new level.

Apple’s Measure App And Accuracy, by Kirk Mcelhearn

I tried measure a number of objects, and two things were apparent. The first is that Measure is not very accurate, and the second is that the same object measured twice can return different dimensions.

‘Alexa – Can You Teach My Kids Some Manners, Please?’, by James Ball, The Guardian

One BBC tech executive told a conference audience on Tuesday that her solution to children developing poor manners due to Alexa, Siri and their rivals (the AI will respond whether you say “please” or not) was for adults in the house to say “please” and “thank you” to the AIs at all times. With that first step in mind, here is our extensive and scientific list of etiquette do’s and don’ts when dealing with your AI assistant.

Jon M. Chu Shot This Short Film Entirely On An iPhone XS Max, by Michael Calore, Wired

To test the new hardware, we gave an iPhone XS Max to the film director Jon M. Chu. The Crazy Rich Asians director shot a short film for WIRED, and the results are truly special.

"I had literally zero equipment," says Chu. "I see a lot of samples of iPhone videos, and sometimes they use different lenses or professional lights. I didn't have any of that."

Chu shot the film—a view into dancer Luigi Rosado's rehearsal space, titled Somewhere—in 4K using the iPhone's native camera app. It was all shot handheld using the phone's default stabilizing system. And while he edited the video on a computer, Chu didn't apply any color correction or any post-production tricks. What you're seeing is the default output of the iPhone's camera.

Stuff

Drafts 5.4: Siri Shortcuts, WordPress, And More, by Tim Nahumck, MacStories

While there is support for iOS 12's Siri shortcuts and all that they have to offer, there are also other important features that have improved the app's capabilities significantly.

Ferrite 2: iOS Audio Editor Adds Templates, Noise Removal, by Jason Snell, Six Colors

You can now create project templates within the app, allowing you to get a project set up just the way you like it, with theme music, show art, audio tracks for guests, the works—even placeholders for things like filenames and episode numbers. Once it’s all set, you can just tap on the icon next to the template and Ferrite lets you fill in the blanks and open a fresh, new project based on the template.

Audible Updates iOS App With Support For Offline Audiobook Playback On Apple Watch, by Peter Cao, 9to5Mac

Audible today has updated its app to add support for syncing audiobooks to your Apple Watch, letting you listen to audiobooks without the need of your iPhone.

Latest Apple Music For Android Update Brings Android Auto Support, Lyric Search, More, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

After rolling out beta support to users last month, Apple Music for Android has today been updated with support for Android Auto. The update also brings lyric search, redesigned artist pages, and more. These features were all tested last month through the private Apple Music beta for Android.

Develop

3 Key Aspects Of A Killer App For Healthcare, by Tom Sullivan, Healthcare IT News

Wretling explained that means a few different things. The technology has to understand how a person prefers to interact with healthcare and make medical data available accordingly. An app also has to ensure that it makes relevant data available for care plans and education. "Health events are occurring for a person all the time," he said. "How they slept, blood pressure, mood, how they’re feeling that day, this needs to be transitioned to a push model to take advantage of the real-time tech available today. Systems should be built to publish data so it flows across organizations."

Notes

25 Years Of WIRED Predictions: Why The Future Never Arrives, by David Karpf, Wired

This past summer, I pulled up a chair—for a time at the Library of Congress—and read every issue of the magazine’s print edition, chronologically and cover to cover. My aim was to engage in a particular kind of time travel. Back when founding editor Louis Rossetto was recruiting the first members of the WIRED team in the early 1990s, he said he was “trying to make a magazine that feels as if it has been mailed back from the future.” I was looking to use WIRED’s back catalog to construct a history of the future—as it was foretold, month after month, in the magazine’s pages.

In part, the fun was in recognizing what WIRED saw coming—the flashes of uncanny foresight buried in old print. Back in the mid-’90s, a time when most Americans hadn’t even sent an email, the magazine was already deep into speculation about a world where everyone had a networked computer in their pocket. In 2003, when phones with cameras were just a novelty in the US (but popular in Asia), Xeni Jardin was predicting a “phonecam revolution” that would one day capture images of police brutality on the fly. Just as interesting were the things WIRED saw coming that never did. The November 1999 cover story held up a company called DigiScent, which hoped to launch the next web revolution by sending smells through the internet. (“Reekers, instead of speakers.”)

But more than just scoring hits and misses, I was interested in identifying those visions of the future that remained always on the horizon, the things that WIRED—and, by extension, the broader culture—kept predicting but which remained always just out of reach. Again and again, the magazine held that the digital revolution would sweep away a host of old social institutions, draining them of their power as it rendered them obsolete. In their place, WIRED repeatedly proclaimed, the revolution would bring an era of transformative abundance and prosperity, its foothold in the future secured by the irresistible dynamics of bandwidth, processing power, and the free market.

Amazon Probed By EU On Data Collection From Rival Retailers, by Aoife White, Bloomberg

The European Union is looking at Amazon.com Inc.’s use of data it collects from other retailers on its platform, with the possibility that the information gives it an extra edge for its own sales, EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said.

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Day 2 of using iOS 12: I can't get mobile data after I leave home in the morning. Not even I turn off and turn on mobile data. Not even I reboot the phone.

Turns out, it's the carrier that's was having problems, and not the phone nor iOS. But I did panicked a little.

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Thanks for reading.

The Gained-Clarity Edition Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Apple Watch Series 4 Review: The Best Gets Better, by Dieter Bohn, The Verge

But as much as there were software and hardware improvements to the Series 2 and Series 3, the most important refinements were to the Apple Watch’s purpose. It gained clarity. It was for fitness and notifications. Eventually, when it was ready, Apple added better connectivity.

Now, with the Series 4, Apple is iterating again. And, importantly, it’s learned how to iterate the product’s hardware and its purpose at the same time. The Series 4 has finally achieved something like the original goal of the Apple Watch. It’s not quite a do-anything computer on your wrist, but it can be different things to different people now.

The New Apple Watch Series 4 Is A Health And Fitness Game Changer, by Liz Plosser, Women's Health

Back when George was a newborn and I wasn’t working out much, it was the cool productivity features like the texting from my wrist, Apple Pay and feeling blissfully untethered from my iPhone that won me over. But now that life has gotten even bigger, fuller and, yep, sweatier—from #ownyourmorning runs to marathon days at the office—I could not be more thrilled that the Watch has evolved into a powerful health and fitness accessory.

watchOS 5: The MacStories Review, by Alex Guyot, MacStories

This year's watchOS 5 update, released today for all Apple Watches Series 1 and later, fills in the gaps of the watchOS audio feature set. Third-party audio apps can now run in the background, and full audio controls including volume adjustment via the Digital Crown have been made available to them. watchOS 5 also introduces the first-party Podcasts app, which supports automatic syncing of new episodes that you're subscribed to and streaming of any show in the iTunes podcast directory.

Beyond audio, watchOS 5 also builds on the solid fitness foundation with activity competitions, expanded Workout types, automatic workout detection, and advanced running statistics. Siri has continued to receive attention as well, introducing third-party integrations to the Siri watch face and a raise-to-speak feature which truncates the inveterate "Hey Siri" prefix for the first time on any platform. A new Walkie-Talkie app marks the first return to novelty Apple Watch communication methods since Digital Touch, but this time I think Apple might have tapped into a legitimate, albeit niche use case. Top things off with improved notifications, the introduction of web content, and NFC-powered student ID cards and we have a substantial watchOS update on our hands.

Apple Acknowledges Missing Activity Achievements, Says Fix Coming In Future Software Update, by Peter Cao, 9to5Mac

If you’re missing a couple of Activity achievements after upgrading to iOS 12, you’re not alone. Specifically, a few of the limited edition achievements are missing.

Something Old, Something New

iOS 12 Saved My Old iPad Mini From The Trash Heap, by Stan Schroeder, Mashable

Until yesterday, I was thinking of turning my old iPad mini 2 into a digital photo frame. The tablet worked, but it was painfully slow. Launching an app always had an unacceptable lag, and any serious multitasking was near-impossible.

Then I updated it from iOS 11 to iOS 12, and suddenly the little guy was nearly as good as new.

iOS 12.1 References ‘iPad2018Fall’, All But Confirming New iPad Pro Debut Next Month, by Guilherme Rambo, 9to5Mac

Digging into assets used by the Setup app, which is the app that runs when you set up a new device, we found a new identifier for a “2018 fall” iPad. The previous version of the app only included identifiers for the 2018 iPhones. This means the app is being updated to teach users how to use the new gestures on a new model of iPad to be released this fall.

Stuff

Pedometer++ Features Revamped Apple Watch App, by Brent Dirks, AppAdvice

By swiping right, you can start a workout with the app. There are four different types to select from – walking, running, hiking, or other. The hiking option now offers a more accurate track of a hike and its the best option to select from when encountering significant elevation changes.

Google Maps For CarPlay In iOS 12 Is Now Available, by Zac Hall, 9to5Mac

Google Maps on CarPlay lacks voice control with Siri, but within the Google Maps app is Google-powered voice search. The navigation app also works with your Google account so you can have saved addresses like work and home.

Halide Camera Hits Version 1.9, Brings New iPhone Support, Siri Shortcuts, by Josh Ginter, The Sweet Setup

Halide can now be used on the new iPhone Xs, Xs Max, and Xr, and the new Siri Shortcuts support will be great for shooting when your iPhone is mounted to a tripod.

Develop

The X-factor In Great Product Design, by Keith Lang, Smart Company

The takeaways are this: designing a product is not just about pixels or even the code in the 1.0. It’s also about the business model and understanding of where you fit on a technology or platform’s lifecycle.

Notes

Trump’s Tariffs Won’t Bite Apple, Illustrating Tim Cook’s Political Sway, by Tony Romm, Washington Post

Apple chief executive Tim Cook has been one of President Trump’s staunchest critics in Silicon Valley, opposing the White House on everything from immigration to climate change.

But the 57-year old tech leader has also become one of the technology industry’s savviest political operators -- a behind-the-scenes Trump whisperer, able to shape some of the administration’s economic policies in ways that benefit Apple and some of its tech peers.

Those efforts seemed to pay off Monday, after Trump unveiled tariffs on roughly $200 billion in goods imported from China, the latest salvo in the trade war Washington is waging against Beijing. The initial list of imports the White House had threatened to penalize included some of Apple’s most well-known products, the company said earlier this month, such as its recently updated Apple Watch smartwatch, HomePod home assistant and AirPods wireless headphones (but not the iPhone). On Monday evening, though, those products were spared. Thousands of other imports weren’t so lucky, and Americans could soon be paying more for things like refrigerators and toys.

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The two alarm clocks running the newly-installed iOS 12 did wake me up this morning on time. Success!

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Thanks for reading.

The All-Good Edition Tuesday, September 18, 2018

iOS 12, Thoroughly Reviewed, by Samuel Axon, Ars Technica

If you were looking for a radical new feature that just wows you, you won't find it in iOS 12. Nor will you find reinventions of some parts of the iOS experience that are aging quite poorly, like the home screen as we know it today. Apple postponed efforts on those fronts to make less flashy improvements to the experience and to lay the groundwork for experiences to come.

What iOS 12 really does is make older devices more usable. And it deploys an array of tools that developers might use to create much more impressive and powerful apps in the future.

App developers can now expose their apps to Siri in new ways, they can create their own machine learning models more easily and run them locally on users' devices, and their augmented reality projects can be made much more compelling and realistic. That might pay off eventually. In the meantime, users get better performance and unprecedented control over everything from how and when their kids can use the family's iOS devices to how personal data is shared and tracked by apps and websites.

None of this is sexy, but it's almost all good.

iOS 12: The MacStories Review, by Federico Viticci, MacStories

The work Apple put into improving iOS 12's performance and stability is important; like most software optimizations though, such major undertakings often go uncelebrated, as their under-the-hood nature takes the backseat compared to shiny new apps and consumer features. Nowadays, great performance and battery life are taken for granted on Apple devices. And I should add, rightfully so: people expect their expensive mobile computers to be as fast, reliable, and durable as possible. Once the initial surprise of a noticeably faster and more efficient device subsides, iOS 12 will likely be regarded as a healthy "more of the same" package – a solid release that largely plays it safe without taking any major risks. Perhaps for the first time in years, the latest version of iOS is not a polarizing update. There's nothing wrong with this strategy; in fact, I think it's exactly what iOS needed before the next revolution occurs.

In this scenario, it's also possible that iOS 12's defining developer feature, Siri shortcuts, and its associated power-user utility, the new Shortcuts app, will be initially overlooked and fail to be appreciated for the milestones they are. Personally, I believe these are the two features with the most untapped potential for the future; if Apple's bet is successful in the long run, iOS 12 will eventually be remembered as the debut of the all-encompassing Shortcuts initiative.

These iOS 12 Improvements Will Help You Live A Less Stressful Digital Life, by Andrew O'Hara, AppleInsider

iOS 12 has a long-awaited "Digital Health" suite of enhancements, which along with other tweaks will greatly help users live a less stressful digital life. AppleInsider delves into all of iOS 12's quality of life improvements, and talks about how they'll help the iPhone-addicted.

iOS 12 On The iPhone 5S, iPhone 6 Plus, And iPad Mini 2: It’s Actually Faster!, by Andrew Cunningham, Ars Technica

Anyone using an older device can safely upgrade to iOS 12 without worrying about speed, and that’s a big deal. You’ll notice an improvement most of the time, even on newer devices (my iPad Air 2, which had started to feel its age running iOS 11, feels great with iOS 12).

How To Trigger IFTTT Applets With iOS 12’s New Shortcuts App And Siri, by Federico Viticci, MacStories

Among the actions that didn't make the transition from Workflow to the new Shortcuts app for iOS 12, built-in support for triggering IFTTT applets (formerly known as "recipes") is perhaps the most annoying one. With just a few taps, Workflow's old 'Trigger IFTTT Applet' action allowed you to assemble workflows that combined the power of iOS integrations with IFTTT's hundreds of supported services. The IFTTT action acted as a bridge between Workflow and services that didn't offer native support for the app, such as Google Sheets, Spotify, and several smart home devices.

Fortunately, there's still a way to integrate the just-released Shortcuts app with IFTTT. The method I'm going to describe below involves a bit more manual setup because it's not as nicely integrated with Shortcuts as the old action might have been. In return however, you'll unlock the ability to enable IFTTT triggers using Siri on your iOS devices, Apple Watch, and HomePod – something that was never possible with Workflow's original IFTTT support. Let's take a look.

The New Phones

The iPhones XS, by John Gruber, Daring Fireball

My takeaway is that the Neural Engine really is a big fucking deal for photography and video. Supposedly, it’s just as big a deal for AR, but the camera has been my obsessive focus this past week. For users, it’s a big fucking deal because it has a dramatic, practical, real-time effect on the quality of the photos and videos they can shoot. None of this happens in post; all of it is visible live, as you shoot. And for Apple, it’s a big fucking deal because I don’t think any of their competitors have something like this. Support for the Neural Engine permeates iOS and the entire A12 I/O system. Android handset makers can’t just buy a “neural engine” chip and stick it in a phone. Google does advanced machine learning — including for photos — but they do it in the cloud. You shoot a photo, upload it to Google’s servers, and they analyze the dumb photo to make it better. Their input is a JPEG file.

Review: iPhone XS, XS Max And The Power Of Long-term Thinking, by Matthew Panzarino, TechCrunch

For a company as prone to hyperbole and Maximum Force Enthusiasm about its products, I think that they have dramatically undersold how much improved photos are from the iPhone X to the iPhone XS. It’s extreme, and it has to do with a technique Apple calls Smart HDR.

[...]

The results for me have been massively improved quick snaps with no thought given to exposure or adjustments due to poor lighting. Your camera roll as a whole will just suddenly start looking like you’re a better picture taker, with no intervention from you. All of this is capped off by the fact that the OLED screens in the iPhone XS and XS Max have a significantly improved ability to display a range of color and brightness. So images will just plain look better on the wider gamut screen, which can display more of the P3 color space.

Photographers Share Stunning Photos Shot On iPhone XS, by Andrew O'Hara, AppleInsider

As it does almost every year, Apple granted a pair of professional photographers early access to iPhone XS ahead of its release to show off the handset's capabilities. Prior to launch this Friday, travel photographer Austin Mann and former White House photographer Pete Souza on Monday shared images pulled from Apple's flagship smartphone.

The iPhone XS And XS Max Review: Bigger Is Now Definitely Better, by Brian X. Chen, New York Times

After three days, I was surprised by how good it felt to use the XS Max with one hand. A key factor was how Apple had managed to cram a bigger screen into a slightly smaller body. [...]

These changes amounted to meaningful improvements in ergonomics and overall convenience. I was able to hold the XS Max in one hand and type messages easily. In contrast, my thumb could not reach keys on the sides of the older iPhone 8 Plus, like the shift key or the backspace key, because of the space taken up by the bezel.

Television Updates

tvOS 12: The MacStories Review, by Ryan Christoffel, MacStories

tvOS releases are never as significant as those found on Apple's other platforms, and that remains true this year; however, tvOS 12 does include a handful of new features that have the potential to truly improve the Apple TV experience on a daily basis. Improvements include upgrades to aerial screensavers, Dolby Atmos support, an easier way to enter passwords, and more. Let's dive in.

Stuff

1Password, LastPass, Dashlane And More Updated With Support For iOS 12's AutoFill Password Feature, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

With Password AutoFill, logins and passwords stored in third-party password management apps will be available throughout the iOS 12 operating system right alongside iCloud Keychain, letting you log into websites, apps, and more much more quickly.

1Password, LastPass, Dashlane, Keeper, and Remembear all now support Password AutoFill features.

You Can Try Siri Shortcuts Today In These iOS 12-ready Apps, by Sarah Perez, TechCrunch

With iOS 12, app developers can integrate an “Add to Siri” button right in their app’s interface for common tasks that their app can perform – like playing a favorite playlist, for instance.

When a user taps this button, they’ll be directed to a screen where they can record their own custom voice command to launch whatever task or action the developer is suggesting.

In time, a number of apps will roll out this functionality.

But if you’re keen to play with it today, on day one, here are some of the early adopters of this feature.

Notes

How Apple Makes The AI Chip Powering The iPhone's Fancy Tricks, by Tom Simonite, Wired

A few years ago—the company won’t say exactly when—some engineers at Apple began to think the iPhone’s camera could be made smarter using newly powerful machine learning algorithms known as neural networks. Before long, they were talking with a lean vice president named Tim Millet.

Millet leads a team of chip architects, who got to work. When the iPhone X was unveiled last fall, Apple’s camera team had added a slick new portrait mode that can digitally adjust the lighting on subjects’ faces, and artfully blur the background. It took advantage of a new module added to the iPhone’s main chip called the neural engine, customized to run machine learning code. The same specialized new silicon enabled the iPhone X’s novel face-recognition unlock system, Face ID. “We couldn’t have done that properly without the neural engine,” says Millet.

Cook Asked To Justify iPhone Prices, And Why Apple Was Excluded From Chinese Import Tariffs, by Ben Lovejoy, 9to5Mac

"The iPhone is assembled in China, but the parts come from everywhere, including the United States. The glass comes from Kentucky, there are chips that come from the US, and of course the research and development is all done in the United States."

"I don’t want to speak for [the Trump administration], but I think they’ve looked at this and said that it’s not really great for the United States to put a tariff on those type of products …"

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Both of my alarm clocks have been updated to iOS 12. Let's all wish that there are no alarm-clock bugs tomorrow morning.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Improvements-Have-Been-Made Edition Monday, September 17, 2018

iPhone XS, XS Max And XR Cameras: What You Need To Know, by Lars Rehm, DPReview

All phones sport the industry's most color accurate, wide color gamut (P3) displays which, combined with best-in-class color management built into the OS, ensures accurate display of photos and videos. When you go to print or share an image online, you can rest assured that color rendition will be consistent.

At first sight the new cameras aren't much different from last year's iPhone X but improvements have been made in terms of hardware, software and features. On the following pages we take a closer look.

Apple Drops Need For iPhone Screen Repairs To Use Calibration Hardware, Reducing Turnaround Time For Repair Shops, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

Calibration is now achieved through software alone. This should make repairs faster and makes it easier for more repair locations to open up around the world, assuming Apple also loosens its relatively-stringent approval policy on setting up new repair centers.

Okay, Apple, It’s Time To Fess Up About The AirPower, by Dennis Sellers, Appel World Today

It’s time for Apple to offer an update on the AirPower. Let us know if it’s still being worked on or if it’s indeed been canceled.

At Best, Misleading

Instagram Is Supposed To Be Friendly. So Why Is It Making People So Miserable?, by Alex Hern, The Guardian

But, for a growing number of users – and mental health experts – the very positivity of Instagram is precisely the problem. The site encourages its users to present an upbeat, attractive image that others may find at best misleading and at worse harmful. If Facebook demonstrates that everyone is boring and Twitter proves that everyone is awful, Instagram makes you worry that everyone is perfect – except you.

Stuff

5 New Fitness Features Coming To Your Apple Watch, by Taylor Martin, CNET

Some of the biggest updates in WatchOS 5, however, are for the many people who use their Apple Watch to track their workouts and fitness. Here are four new ways Apple Watch will help you close your rings.

Streaks 4 Adds iPad Support, Timed Tasks, HealthKit Improvements, And Siri Shortcuts, by John Voorhees, MacStories

There are a lot of habit trackers on iOS, but Streaks was one of the first and remains the gold standard against which I measure all other trackers. Even as Crunchy Bagel has added new features and customization options, Streaks’ simple, elegant design has remained at the center of its user experience. That’s important because habit tracking only works if it’s easy to log events. Even the slightest friction makes it too easy to abandon your efforts.

Notes

Artificial Intelligence Has Got Some Explaining To Do, by Molly Mchugh, The Ringer

Most simply put, Explainable AI (also referred to as XAI) are artificial intelligence systems whose actions humans can understand. Historically, the most common approach to AI is the “black box” line of thinking: human input goes in, AI-made action comes out, and what happens in between can be studied, but never totally or accurately explained. Explainable AI might not be necessary for, say, understanding why Netflix or Amazon recommended that movie or that desk organizer for you (personally interesting, sure, but not necessary). But when it comes to deciphering answers about AI in fields like health care, personal finances, or the justice system, it becomes more important to understand an algorithm’s actions.

The Rise And Demise Of RSS, by Sinclair Target, Two Bit History

So today we are left with centralized silos of information. In a way, we do have the syndicated internet that Kevin Werbach foresaw in 1999. After all, The Onion is a publication that relies on syndication through Facebook and Twitter the same way that Seinfeld relied on syndication to rake in millions after the end of its original run. But syndication on the web only happens through one of a very small number of channels, meaning that none of us “retain control over our online personae” the way that Werbach thought we would. One reason this happened is garden-variety corporate rapaciousness—RSS, an open format, didn’t give technology companies the control over data and eyeballs that they needed to sell ads, so they did not support it. But the more mundane reason is that centralized silos are just easier to design than common standards. Consensus is difficult to achieve and it takes time, but without consensus spurned developers will go off and create competing standards. The lesson here may be that if we want to see a better, more open web, we have to get better at not screwing each other over.

Linus Torvalds Takes A Break From Linux, by Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, ZDNet

In a surprising move, Linus Torvalds, Linux's creator, is taking a break on his Linux kernel work to work on his behavior to other developers. In a note to the Linux Kernel Mailing List (LKML), Torvalds wrote, "I need to change some of my behavior, and I want to apologize to the people that my personal behavior hurt and possibly drove away from kernel development entirely."

If you follow the trials and tribulations of Linux's developments, this is mind-blowing. For the almost 30-years Torvalds has been working on the kernel, he's been famous--or infamous--for his outbursts towards programmers and others who didn't meet his high expectations.

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I wish BBC will limit each podcast episode to just one "This is the BBC" announcement.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Steve-Jobs-Legacy Edition Sunday, September 16, 2018

An Oral History Of Apple's Infinite Loop, by Steven Levy, Wired

Twenty-five years ago, the computer revolution’s marquee company was in decline. Back then, it was just settling into shiny new headquarters, a campus of six buildings that formed a different kind of ring. Called Infinite Loop, the name is a reference to a well-known programming error—code that gets stuck in an endless repetition—though no one seems to know who applied it. Infinite Loop was the place where Apple’s leaders and engineers pulled off a historic turnaround, and it will always be the source of stories and legends—many of them untold. Until now.

Though Apple is keeping the complex, the move this year to the grounded UFO known as Apple Park seems to mark an end to the era when Steve Jobs, every inch the hero in a Joseph Campbell narrative, rescued a company that no one wanted to die. In 1997, a young WIRED magazine, founded in the same year that Infinite Loop opened, ran a cover with the Apple logo and a one-word caption: Pray. Our prayers were answered—and it happened at Infinite Loop.

For more than a year I’ve been interviewing Apple employees, past and present, about their recollections of Infinite Loop. In their own words, edited for clarity and concision, here is the story of a plot of land in Cupertino, California, that brought us the Mac revival, the iPod, iTunes, the iPhone, and the Steve Jobs legacy.

With Its New iPhones, Apple Shows Slowness Has Become A Strength, by Jeremy White, Wired

Taking on the high-value-low-cost manufacturers at their own game, timely rollout of tech, calling the most important data issue of our time before anyone else and iPhones for markets where it needs to combat on Android dominance - it's all quite impressive. Despite being the world's first trillion dollar company, Tim Cook certainly isn't taking his foot off the gas. Apple means business.

iPhone XS' Industry-first A12 Chip Gives Apple Big Advantage Over Rivals, by Stephen Shankland, CNET

"Apple wants it clear that they have early access to the latest process," said Tirias Research analyst Kevin Krewell. The years-long shift to 7nm manufacturing has been difficult, but Apple has the money and clout to claim a lot of the first chips rolling out of the fabs.

Though Apple designs its own chips, it relies on Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp. (TSMC) to build them right now. Qualcomm's next-gen Snapdragon prototype chips are built by TSMC, too, but it's Apple's phones that'll be shipping by the millions this month.

Making Shortcuts

PCalc 3.8 Adds Support For iOS 12’s Siri Shortcuts, Including Powerful Clipboard Commands, by Federico Viticci, MacStories

With PCalc 3.8 and the Shortcuts app, you can assemble a custom workflow that uses multiple app shortcuts and the clipboard to perform several calculations in a row, presenting a collection of results in a single response.

Pandora Music Adds Support For iOS 12, Siri Shortcuts, And More, by AllThingsHow

You’ll now get suggestions from Siri based on your activity within the app. If your iPhone supports iOS 12’s Siri Shortcuts feature, you can set Pandora Music app to play music from your stations, albums, or playlists through only one command to Siri.

Even With My Bad Luck

No, Apple Didn't Delete That Guy's Movies. Here's What Really Happened, by Sean Hollister, CNET

More likely, the phrase "if the version you purchased isn't also available" speaks volumes about what actually happened here. Few films have a single version sold throughout the world. For a variety of reasons, a movie may get trimmed in one country to get a more approachable rating (say, PG-13 in the US), or to cut politically or culturally sensitive content. And that's not even counting directors' cuts, in which multiple versions of the same film may be sold in the same region.

The other issue is that "region hopping," a common tactic among film lovers worldwide to get earlier or different versions of movies, is becoming harder and harder. So, even when someone has legitimately moved from one region to another, as Dr. da Silva has, he may be penalized by the digital walls that sellers like Apple, Amazon are continuing to raise to close cross-region loopholes. (Amazon, Vudu and any other retailers of digital content have the same sort of contracts with the studios that Apple does.)

Indeed, those movies may still be stored in da Silva's Australian account -- but he can't easily switch back to the Australian region to download them again.

My Experience With Apple As A Photographer And Creative Pro: In Short, Not Good, by Pye Jirsa, PetaPixel

Before I get started, let me say that I feel like the most unlucky person when it comes to electronics and major purchases. But, even with my bad luck, perhaps you will find this experience odd and worth sharing.

What you are about to read is not doctored or manipulated to get more views — it’s simply my experience this past year with Apple products.

A New CSS-based Web Attack Will Crash And Restart Your iPhone, by Zack Whittaker, TechCrunch

Sabri Haddouche tweeted a proof-of-concept webpage with just 15 lines of code which, if visited, will crash and restart an iPhone or iPad. Those on macOS may also see Safari freeze.

[...]

The good news is that as annoying as this attack is, it can’t be used to run malicious code, he said, meaning malware can’t run and data can’t be stolen using this attack. But there’s no easy way to prevent the attack from working.

Stuff

Why I Left Dropbox For iCloud Drive And Never Looked Back, by Bradley Chambers, 9to5Mac

I love the fact that my macOS desktop syncs to iCloud. In fact, this might be my favorite feature. Often, I’ll get attachments at night or on the weekend that I need to deal with the next day. From my iPhone, I’ll save the file to iCloud Drive’s desktop folder. When I open my Mac the next day, that file is waiting on me as a reminder to deal with it. It’s such a simple workflow, but it makes all the difference for me. I don’t forget about the file because it’s sitting on my desktop, but I can empty my email inbox.

A Productivity App With A New Twist: Threats, by Corinne Purtill, Quartz

I can’t stop typing.

Quite literally. The app I’m currently using on my Mac laptop is a program called The Most Dangerous Writing App. If I stop to think, or to get up to use the restroom, or to reach for my phone to see what that beep was about, this is all gone. The app will erase everything I’ve written, and I will have to start over. (I get five seconds, apparently, so sneezes and maybe a sip of the coffee I made sure was sitting by my laptop when I started was allowed.)

Notes

Apple’s New iPhone Names Are Bad, So It’s Hard To See Where It Goes From Here, by Shannon Liao, The Verge

Setting aside this year’s naming horrors, Apple pretty much has a clean slate for next year. It could keep counting forever or drop numbers completely. Now that we’ve arrived at 10, where does Apple go from here?

How To Easily Locate The Accelerometer In An iPhone, by Rhett Allain, Wired

So, we know there is a sensor in the phone—but where is it located? I'm not going to take apart my phone; everyone knows I'll never get it back together after that. Instead, I will find out the location by moving the phone in a circular path. Yes, moving in a circle is a type of acceleration.

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I don't see any problems with naming iPhones next year: the two phones will be called iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Max, I predict.

I can also see the case for iPhone XR not being updated next year. It may stay on another year without any updates while Apple transits from LCD to OLED displays. When the price of OLED displays drops low enough, the iPhone XR will be taken off the market quietly, just like what happend to the iPhone SE this year.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Commercial-Surveillance-State Edition Saturday, September 15, 2018

Forget The New iPhones: Apple’s Best Product Is Now Privacy, by Michael Grothaus, Fast Company

In 2018, no issue is more important than user privacy–or the lack of it. We’re tracked by private industry on an unprecedented scale, with major corporations having so much data about us–much of it gleaned without our knowledge–that they can tell when a teenager is pregnant (and inform the teen’s father) or even predict your future actions based on decisions you haven’t made yet. If you want to be part of this world, designed by advertisers and tech giants, you must relinquish your right to privacy. In other words, we live in a commercial surveillance state.

Well, unless you use Apple’s products.

[...]

When you pay that extra money for an Apple product, you’re not just buying better industrial design or more advanced underlying tech–you’re buying the right to keep more information about yourself to yourself. In an age when data breaches are the norm, data manipulation is a business model, and corporate surveillance of your life is at an all-time high–what better product is there than privacy?

The iPhone Xs: An Innovation Dilemma, by Dan Moren, Macworld

Apple was one of the first companies to shy away from a reliance on speeds and feeds, the bandying of ever-higher figures and specs that were the hallmark of the heady days of the late ‘90s and early 2000s. But at the event we were regaled with stats on floating point operations, processor cores, and even the amount of storage the phone could address. All impressive feats, to be sure, but perhaps a little more down in the weeds than Apple traditionally gets.

The fundamental problem with launching a device so far ahead of its time, as Apple did last year with the iPhone X, is that it makes it that much harder to top it the next time around. It’s kind of like Olympic athletes struggling to outpace their rivals—or even themselves—by shaving another fraction of a second off their time.

An Apple A Day

What Cardiologists Think About The Apple Watch’s Heart-tracking Feature, by Hayley Tsukayama, Washington Post

“It’s too early to tell from a public health perspective whether the costs will outweigh the benefits,” Marcus said. There are many other factors, such as someone’s general health or age, that affect whether an irregular heartbeat needs to be treated, he said. Those must be evaluated by a physician to find the right approach for each patient.

What could help calm anxiety, he said, would be more general education about conditions such as atrial fibrillation. “Generally, physicians talk about these things among themselves,” he said. “Perhaps this movement into the consumer realm means educating the public about these issues, as well.”

The New Apple Watch Shows The Money Big Tech Sees In Health, by Zachary Tracer, Bloomberg

The business of keeping people well is a logical frontier. Health care accounts for about 18 percent of U.S. economic output and still often relies on antiquated tools like fax machines, making it an enticing opening for tech behemoths looking for new terrain to conquer.

Already, the companies are in deep. Apple is tracking vital signs. Amazon bought its way into the pharmacy business while joining with two powerful partners to remake worker health coverage. Google parent Alphabet Inc. wants to help make you live longer.

Stuff

Apple Outlines Dual SIM Support On iPhone Xs, Coming In A Future Update To iOS 12, by Peter Cao, 9to5Mac

Unlike iPad or Apple Watch, setting up an eSIM for the iPhone will require you to scan a QR code or download the carrier’s app. Apple notes that you will be able to use an eSIM as your primary SIM as well, taking away the hassle and annoyance of a SIM failure.

Apple And Firefox Tools Aim To Thwart Tracking, by Anick Jesdanun, Herald-Dispatch.com

New protections in Apple's Safari and Mozilla's Firefox browsers aim to prevent companies from turning "cookie" data files used to store sign-in details and preferences into broader trackers that take note of what you read, watch and research on other sites.

Notes

How The Weather Channel Made That Insane Storm Surge Animation, by Brian Barrett, Wired

At a certain point, you think you have a good grasp of what to expect from weather graphics. A color-coded map, a five-day forecast with a sassy cloud. Which might be why the Weather Channel’s 3-D, room-encompassing depiction of the Hurricane Florence storm surge took so many by surprise. It doesn’t tell, it shows, more bracingly than you’d think would be possible on a meteorological update. Here’s how they did it.

Apple Is Happy To Use Women And People Of Color As Art, Not Authority, by Jessica Conditt, Engadget

I want to praise Apple for featuring a lineup of diverse, beautiful people in its ad campaign, but that's difficult to do when the images feel like a flimsy cover for the company's inherent lack of diversity. The problem isn't the photos themselves, but the dissonance between the message they're intended to convey and the reality at this multi-billion dollar powerhouse of a company. The images scream, "Look how diverse we are!" while the truth is, Apple is mostly white and mostly dudes, just as it's always been.

This isn't an Apple-only problem. The technology industry is notoriously white-man heavy, and claims of sexist and racist company cultures abound to this day. However, Apple is the company with the tech world's attention right now. Given Apple's own demographic makeup, the images it's using to sell the new iPhone feel closer to exploitation than celebration. Apple is famous for its attention to design and appearance -- the marketing department chose these images for a reason, and it wasn't because they looked around the office and saw a lot of female and non-white workers.

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I am worried. I am worried that, next week, I will be finding out exactly how much time I've wasted playing games on my iPhone.

~

Any day now, we are going to get the iPod Touch update: iPod XJR, right?

~

Thanks for reading.

The Steal-the-Show Edition Friday, September 14, 2018

Did The Apple Watch Series 4 Steal The Show?, by Lance Ulanoff, Medium

Back when Apple unveiled the iPhone X, it was positioned as the future of iPhone design. The new iPhones, the Xs, Xs Max and Xr, bear that out. But the future of Apple shifted a bit on its axis yesterday. The Apple Watch is, with cell service, a device capable of working as a stand-alone communication, activity, health, contact and information device. Yes, the screen is too small to interact with extended periods of time (though, yes, I have read quite a few emails on mine), but is there any product that points to Apple’s future ambitions as clearly as the Apple Watch Series 4?

Apple has been interested in the health market since Steve Jobs and iOS 3.0 when Apple sought to connect the mobile platform to third-party medical devices. Now they can build their own medical devices.

The New Heart-monitoring Capabilities On The Apple Watch Aren’t All That Impressive, by Katherine Ellen Foley, Quartz

An ECG is used by a physician to see how the electrical system of your heart is working, Andrew Moore, an emergency department physician at the Oregon Health and Science University, told Quartz. In a health care facility, a patient would have 12 different stickers, or leads, placed all over her chest and on certain spots on her arm and leg, to give doctors a clear picture of the four chambers of her heart’s movement.

The new Apple Watch, however, has the equivalent of one lead on your wrist, the company’s website says. “The tech that Apple is working with is very rudimentary compared to what we’d do for someone in a hospital or health care setting,” Moore said. Although the watch can detect changes in the patterns of a person’s heart rate, these changes really only show a user if she has a heart rate that is too fast, too slow, or beating irregularly—signifying AFib. The watch won’t necessarily give the full picture a doctor would need to diagnose a medical issue.

Apple Designer Jony Ive Is ‘Zealous’ Over The Tech Giant’s Most Personal Device, by Christina Passariello, Washington Post

Much of the attention and anticipation around the annual event is wrapped up in Apple’s best-selling device, the iPhone. There is a new line of them again this year, bigger and more expensive than before. But the watch, which isn’t even four years old yet, has established itself as a significant adjacent business. Apple doesn’t break out sales numbers, but said its device is the best-selling watch in the world.

The increasing popularity of the watch, which Ive has set up as the cornerstone of wearable technology, is critical to Apple as the iPhone sales growth wanes. “Apple’s inception was about making tech useful and relevant, in a very personal way. And the watch is unambiguously the most personal product we make,” said Ive, who joined Apple more than 25 years ago and first made his mark with the candy-colored iMacs of the 1990s.

Device and Software Longevity

Lasts Longer, by Horace Dediu, Asymco

This is a hardware-as-platform and hardware-as-subscription model that no other hardware company can match. It is not only highly responsible but it’s highly defensible and therefore a great business. Planned obsolescence is a bad business and is not defensible.

Therefore the statement that Apple now prioritizes device and software longevity is very important and I consider it one of the most important statements made during the 2018 iPhone launch event.

Apple 'Wants To Serve Everyone,' Says Tim Cook, by Hiromi Sato, Nikkei Asian Review

Apple clearly intends to maintain its position in the high-end segment with the release of the iPhone XS and XS Max, but with price cuts for older models and the addition of the iPhone XR, CEO Tim Cook signaled designs on a bigger share of Asia's growing market.

"We want to serve everyone," said Tim Cook in an interview with Nikkei. "We understand that there is a wide range of what customers are looking for and a wide range of prices that people will pay."

Apple Has Normalized The $1,000 iPhone, by Will Oremus, Slate

With its relentless touting of the new and improved, Apple makes it easy for consumers and the tech press to forget its products’ past. The pricing of the XS and XS Max might seem reasonable enough if you compare them only to last year’s X. But rewind a few years and the scope of Apple’s marketing coup becomes apparent.

Develop

How iOS Apps Adapt To The iPhone XS Max And iPhone XR Screen Sizes, by Geoff Hackworth, Medium

As widely expected, Apple have designed the iPhone XS Max, iPhone XR and iOS 12 to behave in a backwardly-compatible manner for apps that were built with Xcode 9 and can’t reasonably be expected to be able to handle the new devices. Even apps that use auto layout and have launch storyboards will be shown zoomed to fill the larger screen. Rebuilding with Xcode 10 opts the developer into the new screen design.

Apple Hopes You'll Figure Out What To Do With AI On The iPhone XS, by Tiernan Ray, ZDNet

One of the toughest problems in machine learning, within the broader field of AI, is to to figure out what problem the computer should be solving. Computers can only learn and understand, if they understand at all, when something is framed a matter of finding a solution to a problem.

Apple is approaching that challenge by hoping to lure developers to use its chips and software programming tools to supply the new use cases for neural networks on a mobile device.

Notes

Apple Says Goodbye To The iPhone 6S, But I Refuse To, by Matt Binder, Mashable

That little 3.5mm headphone jack might be the most obvious reason some users are holding onto their iPhone 6S. The removal of the headphone jack starting with iPhone 7 was a big deal when it happened, and judging by every model since, there’s no going back.

Apple May Have Teased AirPods 2 During Its iPhone XS Keynote, by Jake Krol, Mashable

The opening video that it used to kick off the event shows a woman wearing AirPods. Stopping in front of a pond, she says, "Hey Siri," but doesn't tap either earbud to activate Apple's digital assistant.

Apple Is Investing In A Huge Mangrove Forest In Colombia, by Adele Peters, Fast Company

The project, which will involve both planting trees in degraded areas and preserving the trees that still exist, will help capture an estimated 1 million metric tons of CO2 emissions over its lifetime. In its first two years, it will reduce emissions around 17,000 metric tons–roughly the same amount as the emissions from the cars that will update Apple Maps over the next decade, making the program carbon neutral for the company.

How Game Apps That Captivate Kids Have Been Collecting Their Data, by Jennifer Valentino-Devries, Natasha Singer, Aaron Krolik, Michael H. Keller, New York Times

Although federal law doesn’t provide many digital privacy protections for adults, there are safeguards for children under 13. The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act protects them from being improperly tracked, including for advertising purposes. Without explicit, verifiable permission from parents, children’s sites and apps are prohibited from collecting personal details including names, email addresses, geolocation data and tracking codes like “cookies” if they’re used for targeted ads.

But the New Mexico lawsuit and the analyses of children’s apps suggest that some app developers, ad tech companies and app stores are falling short in protecting children’s privacy.

“These sophisticated tech companies are not policing themselves,” the New Mexico attorney general, Hector Balderas, said. “The children of this country ultimately pay the price.”

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Questions being asked in the podcasts that I've listened today, as well as my answers:

1) Who will buy the XS?

If I didn't already have the X, I may consider the XS instead of the XR, just because of the zoom.

2) Do you want to live forever?

Forever is just so... infinite. Especially considering I may still have to live among humans, one of the most horrible living beings in the world.

If I die, I can still hope that I get reincarnated as a tree.

3) Where is Larry Page?

I don't know, either. He didn't tell me.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Electrical-Impulses Edition Thursday, September 13, 2018

Apple Watch Series 4 Can Detect AFib And Perform An ECG, by Matt Burns, Techcrunch

The watch can now perform an ECG, detect atrial fibrillation, and detect when a person’s heart rate is too low. Apple even got the Watch cleared by the FDA for direct-to-consumer purchase, a first over-the-counter offering for ECG-enabled devices, Williams said.

[...]

According to Williams, who gave a demo on stage at the event, a person just needs to open the app, touch a finger to the digital crown, and the Watch performs the test using the electrodes built into the back of the watch. Because a person’s finger is touching the crown, the watch can detect electrical impulses from the heart and process the pulses with an algorithm built into the watch.

The New ECG Apple Watch Could Do More Harm Than Good, by Robbie Gonzalez, Wired

People with atrial fibrillation, which the CDC estimates affects between 2.7 and 6.1 million Americans, could likely benefit from a wearable, on-demand ECG device like the new Apple Watch. (AFib is the most common arrhythmia, and the only kind Apple's watch is approved to detect.) But for everyone else, evidence suggests the potential costs could actually outweigh the proposed benefits. Despite what Benjamin says, there is such a thing as too much insight into one's health.

[...]

"Do you wind up catching a few undiagnosed cases? Sure. But for the vast majority of people it will have either no impact or possibly a negative impact by causing anxiety or unnecessary treatment," says cardiologist Theodore Abraham, director of the UCSF Echocardiography Laboratory. The more democratized you make something like ECG, he says, the more you increase the rate of false positives—especially among the hypochondriac set. "In the case of people who are very type-A, obsessed with their health, and fitness compulsive, you could see a lot of them overusing Apple's tech to self-diagnose and have themselves checked out unnecessarily."

The Phones

Apple Announces iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone XR, Coming September 21, by Samuel Axon, Ars Technica

Two back-facing cameras will ship in the iPhone XS, both rated 12 megapixels: a wide-angle camera (f/1.8) and a telephoto camera (f/2.4). Additionally, an improved 7-megapixel sensor will serve as the XS' front-facing camera. In expected fashion, Apple advertised new camera features, driven by machine learning and image analysis, to improve the phones' photo quality, including a software feature dubbed "Smart HDR."

A new bokeh-friendly feature has been introduced in the new iPhones' gallery as well. iPhone XS will store additional image captures and use photo analysis to let users adjust a photo's depth-of-field effect, at a range from f/1.4 to f/16, even after it has been taken. If this works anywhere near as smoothly as it looked on the Steve Jobs Theater stage, users will be in for a treat.

Dual-SIM And eSIM Technology In iPhone Xs And iPhone XR Enables Use Of Two Phone Plans On One Device, by Malcolm Owen, AppleInsider

In order to offer dual-SIM support in the iPhone Xs, Apple is taking advantage of the eSIM technology used in the Apple Watch to act as a software-based SIM alongside a physical SIM card. Both are enabled on the iPhone at the same time, correspond to separate phone numbers, and can be set up with two completely different plans.

Making Sense Of The Most Confusing New iPhone Lineup Ever, by Harry McCracken, Fast Company

For consumers, choosing a new iPhone may have just gotten more complicated. But as long as enough people do choose one rather than sticking with what they’ve got, or buying an Android phone, Apple will presumably be happy to let a hundred iPhones bloom—or at least several of them.

The iPhone Franchise, by Ben Thompson, Stratechery

That is the iPhone: it is a franchise, the closest thing to a hardware annuity stream tech has ever seen. Some people buy an iPhone every year; some are on a two-year cycle; others wait for screens to crack, batteries to die, or apps to slow. Nearly all, though, buy another iPhone, making the purpose of yesterday’s keynote less an exercise in selling a device and more a matter of informing self-selected segments which device they will ultimately buy, and for what price.

Will We Ever Get Tired Of Buying iPhones?, by Vlad Savov, The Verge

So, to answer my own question, I don’t think the iPhone’s popularity faces any imminent threat in the places where it already exists. It benefits from the same consumer culture that drives people to buy dozens of pairs of branded jeans and sneakers and just as many handbags and watches. Sure, Apple’s struggling to penetrate India and China’s growing phone markets, but its greatest strength is the vast population of people already inside its ecosystem — all those who look upon Android innovations and improvements as interesting ideas, some of which might be nice to have on the iPhone. It’s a corporate sort of tribalism that continues to serve Apple well.

Hands On

Hands-on With The New iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone XR, And Apple Watch Series 4, by Jason Snell, Macworld

Yes, dramatically increasing the screen space on your device while only marginally increasing its size is a page right out of the iPhone X playbook. The iPhone X showed it worked, and the Apple Watch Series 4 will also benefit it. Of all the new Apple products I got to handle Wednesday, the Series 4 was the one I’m the most excited about.

Hands-on With The iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, And iPhone XR, by Samuel Axon, Ars Technica

Done well, OLED displays are gorgeous—last year, I called the iPhone X's the best phone display I had ever seen. That remained true until I saw the iPhone XS and XS Max today. If you play games or regularly watch movies or TV on your phone, you couldn't pick a better phone. Apple provides arguably the best library in the world of digitally available HDR movies to watch on this device.

[...]

While the OLED display on the iPhone XS looks great, the increased size helped me notice those remarkable details even more.

The OSes

Apple Reveals iOS 12, Mojave, watchOS 5, And tvOS 12 Ship Dates, by Adam Engst, TidBITS

We’ve been using iOS 12 betas all summer and it has been a largely positive experience. Those with older devices have said that its performance improvements have given a new lease on life to the iPhone 5s, iPad Air, and the like, and one TidBITS Talk reader said it solved his iOS 11 battery problems. [...]

That said, it’s probably worth waiting a week or two to make sure no serious problems crop up.

iOS 12, watchOS 5, tvOS 12: 17 September 2018.
macOS 10.14 Mojave: 24 September 2018.

That Wireless Charger

Apple Tries To Wipe AirPower From History, by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, ZDNet

Over the past few weeks I've spoken to a number of sources in the accessories and charging business, and they all claim that not only was AirPower too ambitious, Apple had made the job of developing an all-in-one charger all the more difficult by using differing wireless charging protocols for the iPhone and the Apple Watch.

Stuff

Apple Adds Lyric Search, Phone Calls, And Multiple Timers To The HomePod, by Nick Statt, The Verge

Multiple timers is one of the best features for any modern smart speaker, letting you keep it in the kitchen and use a way to play music and stay atop an ongoing recipe as you cook. It’s one of the most used Alexa features on Amazon’s Echo line of speakers, and it’s been a big missing feature for the HomePod up until now.

Apple Announces New iPhone Battery Repair Prices After $29 Offer Ends At End Of Year, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

The prices are going back up [from Jan 1, 2019], but not quite to the level that they were. Battery repairs for iPhone X, iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs will cost $69. Repairs for all older iPhones will cost $49.

Moment Releases First MFi Battery Case For iPhone Xs/X With Shutter Button & More, by Michael Potuck, 9to5Mac

In addition to seamless compatibility with the company’s high-quality lenses, it’s the first MFi battery case for Xs/X, features a Lightning port, wireless charging, two-stage shutter button, and more.

Develop

Apple Says iPhone & Watch Apps Will Have To Support iOS 12, watchOS 5 & New Hardware By March, by Roger Fingas, AppleInsider

Following its Wednesday GM releases, Apple on Wednesday began calling for developers to submit apps compatible with iOS 12, watchOS 5, and tvOS 12, warning that iPhone and Apple Watch apps will have to meet new standards come March.

iPhone Xs And iPhone XR Can Read NFC Tags Without Having To Launch An App, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

If detected, the NFC scan will trigger a notification to appear on the lock screen of the iPhone Xs or iPhone XR. The user can then tap the alert and launch the app into the foreground, passed the context of the NFC tags.

Notes

Apple Can Delete Purchased Movies From Your Library Without Telling You, by Casey Johnston, The Outline

For reasons that are easy to guess, Apple has never widely advertised that, by deleting locally stored content, users are actually rolling the dice as to whether they will ever be able to get it back.

How Can We Resist The Seduction Of The Mobile Phone?, by Tim Harford

Technology companies, notably Facebook and Google, make money by selling your attention to advertisers. The more attention they have, the more they can sell. There is a limit to how much we can expect them to help us regain control.

So, without letting the technology companies off the hook, the main responsibility for managing our attention has to lie with us. And there is plenty we can do.

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Someday, someone will ask this question: Wait, when you say iPhone Xs, are you talking about the new iPhone from Apple, or are you referring to many iPhone X phones?

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Thanks for reading.

The Going-Up-In-Flames Edition Wednesday, September 12, 2018

The Explosive Problem With Recycling iPads, iPhones And Other Gadgets: They Literally Catch Fire., by Geoffrey A. Fowler, Washington Post

Around the world, garbage trucks and recycling centers are going up in flames. The root of the problem: volatile lithium-ion batteries sealed inside our favorite electronics from Apple, Samsung, Microsoft and more. They’re not only dangerous but also difficult to take apart — making e-waste less profitable, and contributing to a growing recycling crisis.

These days, rechargeable lithium-ion batteries are in smartphones, tablets, laptops, ear buds, toys, power tools, scooters, hoverboards and e-cigarettes.

IPhones Should Be DTF, by Rachel Withers, Slate

D and F are uncomfortably close, but Kocienda’s nanny state could have simply made duck an alternate suggestion for when users type the F word, rather than overruling them—and vice versa proposed fuck for duck.

Stuff

The Logitech Crayon Is A Good Apple Pencil Substitute That Makes Some Compromises, by Dami Lee, The Verge

You can see the subtle changes in line width and pen pressure, and the experience of drawing felt a lot more natural with the Apple Pencil. Ergonomically, I found that gripping both styluses felt more or less the same, but kids with smaller hands may feel more comfortable holding the Crayon.

iMessage Has A Bunch Of Secret Games, by Chris Edwards, Digital Spy

From classics like Connect Four and chess to Word Hunt and Tanks, a wide range of iMessage-compatible games are available to download from Apple's App Store to play with your friends while texting.

Develop

How Apple Watch Apps' Death Spiral Nearly Killed My iPhone App, by Graham Bower, Cult of Mac

Two years ago, my partner and I launched an Apple Watch app to complement our iPhone fitness app. Little did we know that our embrace of Apple’s smartwatch would threaten the very existence of the gym app we’d been developing since 2012.

Each year since we launched Reps & Sets, we updated it to keep up-to-speed with all the cool new features Apple rolled out at its Worldwide Developers Conference. That all changed last year, though. That’s when we discovered that, by adding support for Apple Watch, we had inadvertently taken a poison pill that could effectively kill our iPhone app.

Notes

What It Was Like Working At Apple To Create The First iPhone, by Mike Murphy, Quartz

"We were committed to get the work done, but if you’re really pursuing a creative process, you don’t really know what the answers are going to be until you have them. So yeah, there was always worry, there was always concern, that we weren’t going to make it, that maybe we wouldn’t be able to come up with the ideas that were necessary."

"Of course hanging over me, in particular, doing the keyboard work was the shadow of the Newton. Apple made a product in its history that failed because the text entry wasn’t good enough. I was worried about that and I just worried that we wouldn’t come up with good enough ideas to make the whole product to come together up to Apple quality."

Amazon And Apple Don’t Provide Employees With Free Lunches — Here’s Where Their Employees Go To Eat Instead, by Áine Cain, Business Insider

Amazon and Apple both bucked the Silicon Valley trend of providing employees with free food.

And now that California localities have begun introducing legislation meant to curtail free meals and boost local eateries, we might see more tech giants beginning to follow suit.

Let’s take a look at how employees stay fueled throughout the day at Amazon and Apple.

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As usual, while Apple is showing off all the new phones at Cupertino, I'll be asleep and dreaming of XR and XS and XSMAX in many many colors.

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Thanks for reading.

The Saved-My-Life Edition Tuesday, September 11, 2018

How Apple Watch Saved My Life, by Jason Perlow, ZDNet

I had the ablation in late August. I'm still in the recovery phase, and my doctors will be monitoring me over the next few years using the loop implant to determine how often the Afib comes back and when. It will take a few months before the arrhythmia subsides and my heart rate returns to normal levels.

I had a huge team of very talented and attentive people at Boca Regional and I'm incredibly grateful to them. Rosenbaum and his associates at Cardiac Arrhythmia Service are extremely talented and their bedside manner is of the best I've ever experienced.

Ultimately, though, I owe my life to my Apple Watch. Because it started this whole machine rolling. And I was very lucky to have my Afib caught during the last three months of public enrollment in the Heart Study, which ended in early August.

When Your Phone Sucks You Into The Void, This App Notices, by Sarah Scoles, Wired

Calling attention to an unwanted habit is just the first step. Fixing it often depends on understanding how the habit works—the cue that triggers your compulsion and your state of mind when you succumb to it.

That's one reason recently unveiled time-management features from tech giants could ultimately fall short. Since May, Apple, Google, Facebook, and Instagram have all released tools that show users how much time they spend inside specific apps. Those tools might help users understand how they use their phones after the fact, but they do little to help them change their habits in the moment. By contrast, Flipd's pause feature introduces friction and mindfulness to an otherwise mindless and friction-free reflex, giving users a moment to consider what they're doing and why.

Game Changer, by Jennifer Middleton, Texarkana Gazette

Third-graders at Mineral Springs Elementary School are the first students in the nation to use Q-Neuro's MathLab app, which adjusts the iPad game to respond to brain activity recorded through EEG headsets.

[...]

"It is a math game that uses their brainwaves to adjust the intensity of the game," he said. "As they struggle, the game gets a little easier. As they get bored or distracted, it gets a little harder and it does it in real time to maintain a certain level of engagement."

Designed To Be Very Secure

Why There’s No Antivirus For iOS, by Victor Yablokov, Kaspersky

It might seem strange that Kaspersky Lab doesn’t offer an antivirus app for iOS, but there’s a good reason: Apple doesn’t allow any proper antivirus apps into the App Store, saying “Apple designed the iOS platform with security at its core” and that the operating system does not need an antivirus utility.

That sounds rather arrogant, but it’s not marketing nonsense: Apple iOS is indeed designed to be very secure. iOS apps are executed in their own sandboxes — secure environments that seclude the apps, keeping them away from other apps’ data, not to mention from tampering with the operating system’s files. Under iOS, a wanna-be-malicious app won’t be able to steal or compromise anything; it won’t be permitted outside its own sandbox, where only its own data is stored and processed. That’s really helpful in terms of security.

Mojave’s New Security And Privacy Protections Face Usability Challenges, by Rich Mogull, TidBITS

Don’t get me wrong. Apple is moving in the right direction. These features have measurable security benefits and the potential to make attacks against Mac users dramatically harder, which will result in increased safety for us all. Mojave’s security and privacy enhancements are a natural progression from Gatekeeper, sandboxing, restrictions on kernel extensions, and the under-the-hood hardening of recent years. Combine these software changes with Apple’s recent inclusion of special security hardware in the MacBook Pro and iMac Pro, and you can see how the company is driving Mac security closer to where iPhones and iPads are today, all while striving to maintain the flexibility that makes the Mac essential.

But to achieve that goal, Apple must put more work into striking the right balance between security, privacy, and usability.

App Stores Can’t Protect You From Apps Abusing Your Data, by Chris Hoffman, HowToGeek

Apple, Google, Microsoft, and other companies running app stores don’t necessarily have your back when it comes to your data. Even when the store’s policies are clear and on your side, they aren’t necessarily enforced. Apple might take six months to pull down an app that’s misbehaving, and that’s for the apps we know about. Google is continually removing bad apps from Google Play, too. Chrome and Firefox extensions frequently abuse the trust users place in them.

Just because you get an app from an app store, that doesn’t mean the app store is protecting your data. You should still only download apps you trust and be careful about what data you share with those apps. If you don’t trust a company, don’t give its app access to your contacts or other private data you don’t want to share.

Stuff

Apple Pay Now Available In 10,000+ U.S. 7-Eleven Stores, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

7-Eleven today announced that Apple Pay and Google Pay are accepted at nearly all of its 10,000+ locations across the United States, following a rollout that began in August.

Sphero Intros LED- & Sensor-laden Bolt Robot With iPhone Control, by Roger Fingas, AppleInsider

Sphero on Monday launched its latest programmable robot, the Bolt, characterized mainly by a translucent, waterproof design and an 8-by-8 LED display.

Scuba Calendar Is An Essential Companion App For Scuba Diving Aficionados And Newbies, by AppAdvice

This neat little app lets you get the most out of your scuba diving experience, from planning it beforehand to sharing it with others and reminiscing about it afterwards.

Develop

New Apple Video Encourages App Developers To Switch To A Subscription Model, by Ben Lovejoy, 9to5Mac

Apple advises developers to make a clear pitch and ensure the sign-up process is simple.

Notes

​Trend Micro Says Sorry After Apps Grabbed Mac Browser History, by Liam Tung, ZDNet

Trend Micro blamed the behavior on the use of common code libraries and has now removed the browser data collection feature and deleted logs store on the AWS servers.

"[W]e believe we identified a core issue which is humbly the result of the use of common code libraries. We have learned that browser collection functionality was designed in common across a few of our applications and then deployed the same way for both security-oriented as well as the non-security oriented apps such as the ones in discussion. This has been corrected," the company said.

The Effectiveness Of Publicly Shaming Bad Security, by Troy Hunt

Shaming. Or chastising, putting them in their place or taking them down a peg or two. Whatever synonym you choose, the underlying criticism is that the outraged group is wrong for expressing their outrage towards the organisation involved, especially if it's ever construed as being targeted towards whichever individual happens to be the mouthpiece of the organisation at the time. Shame, those opposed to it will say, is not the way. I disagree and I want to explain - and demonstrate - precisely why.

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Is it just me, or is everyone else also hungry while reading Creative Selection by Ken Kocienda?

:-)

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Thanks for reading.

The More-Inclusive Edition Monday, September 10, 2018

Technology Improves For People With Disabilities As Firms Respond To Moral, Legal Demands, by Edward C. Baig, USA Today

Over the last few years, Apple, Google, Facebook and Microsoft have leveraged artificial intelligence, computer vision and advances in voice recognition to deliver tools to assist blind individuals and people who are deaf, have motor impairments or other disabilities. At the same time, new technologies such as voice-activated speakers and more captioning on websites and in social media have widened access to some internet services.

Development of these specialized features are driven by a confluence of factors – a desire by tech leaders to be more inclusive, but also the need to satisfy legal and market imperatives.

Facial Recognition Tech Is Ready For Its Post-Phone Future, by Arielle Pardes, Wired

Stanley, from the ACLU, says there is a need to separate the convenient consumer applications of facial recognition with the more suspicious uses by companies or governments. "Nobody’s saying you can’t use this technology, ever. But it is such a powerful technology that among the uses, there will inevitably be some very spooky ones," says Stanley. "We want facial recognition tech to be used by you, not on you."

Part of that comes down to regulation. As the tech becomes more widespread and more powerful, legislators haven't kept up with defining the acceptable uses (like, say, sending videos of Animoji) and unacceptable ones (like identifying and arresting protesters). Even if consumers become complacent about facial recognition, regulators shouldn't.

Apple Removes Mac Apps Which Are Stealing User Data, by Luke Dormehl, Cult of Mac

Apple has removed a series of apps from the Mac App Store after they were found to be accessing users’ private data and sending it to remote servers. The apps in question include Adware Doctor, Open Any Files: RAR Support, Dr. Antivirus, and Dr. Cleaner.

The apps duped users into giving them access to their macOS home directories by promising to perform functions such as scanning for viruses or clearing caches. By accessing the home directory, they were then able to gain access to information about users’ browsing history, and more.

Apple To Embrace iPhone X Design With New Colors, Bigger Screens, by Mark Gurman, Bloomberg

The world’s most valuable company plans to launch three new phones soon that keep the edge-to-edge screen design of last year’s flagship, according to people familiar with the matter. The devices will boast a wider range of prices, features and sizes to increase their appeal, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing unannounced products.

However, none of the three iPhones will be wholly new designs like the iPhone X was last year or the iPhone 6 in 2014, with some inside Apple labeling the launch as an "S year," a designation the company has given to new handsets that retain the previous design but add new internal features. The company is planning more significant changes for next year, they added.

Stuff

Apple Watch Series 1 & Series 3 Supply Starts To Run Low Ahead Of Series 4 Announcement, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Ahead of the expected unveil of the Apple Watch Series 4 this week, availability of the Apple Watch Series 1 is beginning to worsen. On Apple’s website, the 38mm Apple Watch Series 1 in silver and space gray has become unavailable for purchase, as have many models of the Series 3.

How To Transfer Music Between Two iOS Devices, by Glenn Fleishman, Macworld

The only way I can think of to transfer without a desktop system in sight is to use iTunes Match, which is $25 for a one-year subscription. Even then, this won’t work without a Mac or Windows copy of iTunes in the mix, but I’ll tell you why in a moment.

Notes

Some Apple Fans Are Building Their Own ‘Hackintoshes’ — Mac Computers They Build Themselves. And They Point To A Weakness With Apple's Computer Lineup, by Antonio Villas-Boas, Business Insider

In a way, the reasons to buy, build, or turn your existing computer into a Hackintosh represent some of the less desirable aspects of buying a Mac from Apple – namely, that they’re expensive, hard to customize, and often not exactly what you need.

These Familiar Sounds Will Soon Disappear From Our World, by Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan, Fast Company

Chun and Derksen are the German duo behind Conserve the Sound, an online archive of sounds that are “endangered” in our world. For the most part, that means technology sounds, but interpreted broadly to include early handicraft like metal butter churns alongside Sony Walkmen. Founded in 2012, the site is a rich library of photos and MP3s, culled from attics and industrial museums alike, that document the noise of user experience: The clean clicking of Ettore Sottsass’s 1960s Olivetti typewriter, the buzz of a Braun razor, the hollow thunking of Jony Ive’s late 1990s iBook laptop. If you grew up in the ’80s or ’90s, many of the entries will seem more like antique novelties than familiar memory objects. But when you do come across one from your time (for me, it was an ugly but no less functional early ’00s Polaroid), it’s fascinatingly familiar.

How WhatsApp Destroyed A Village, by Pranav Dixit, Ryan Mac, BuzzFeed

WhatsApp, a Facebook-owned messaging service, is used by more than 200 million people in India, its largest market. It’s become an inextricable part of the country’s culture and social fabric, widely used by younger and older generations alike. It’s one of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s crown jewels, an app he acquired for $19 billion in 2014 that began as a messaging platform but is now evolving into something more, with a new payments feature already being tested in India.

Lately, however, WhatsApp has been getting Indians killed. In June, rumors about child kidnappers shared on the service inspired a mob of hundreds to lynch a 29-year-old man and his friend who were passing through a village in Karbi Anglong, a district in the eastern part of the country. In July, two weeks after the Rainpada incident, hundreds of people hurled stones at an IT worker who was visiting the South Indian village of Murki, killing him. Since May, there have been at least 16 lynchings leading to 29 deaths in India where public officials say mobs were incited by misinformation on WhatsApp.

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I was excited to find new shiny playlists in Apple Music that I can add to my library and have the tunes automatically downloaded onto my iPhone and have them available wherever I wanted to listen to some music.

Then I discovered that I don't enjoy the musical taste of everybody.

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I'm looking forward to hearing podcasts talking about Apple's upcoming iPhone event.

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Thanks for reading.

The Pricey-Computers Edition Sunday, September 9, 2018

Everything You Should Do Before—And After—You Lose Your Phone, by David Nield, Wired

It's an unfortunate fact that the pricey pocket computers we carry around with us at all times are prime targets for thieves—as well as very easy to leave behind in subway cars or on coffee shop tables. Now that we all rely on our smartphones for so much, having one stolen or misplaced can feel like the end of the world. But it doesn't have to be, not quite. Here are the preparations you can take before the worst happens, and what to do if it does.

New iPhones Aim For Momentum In Sputtering Smartphone Market, by AFP

"There is nothing in their product line-up that isn't working for them in the premium segment of the market, so there is no imperative for them to break that mold," NPD analyst Stephen Baker said of Apple likely sticking with modest improvements in new iPhones this year.

"They gobble up most of the profits. I don't think they are under any pressure at all."

How I Use Alfred To Become A More Efficient macOS User, by Bradley Chambers, 9to5Mac

If I had to sum up Alfred into one sentence, it would be: It’s macOS spotlight on steroids.

Apple Faces Trump’s Ire After Company Says Its Products Would Be Hurt By Tariffs, by Tony Romm, Washington Post

In a tweet, Trump said there's an “easy solution” to Apple's potential woes that also came with a tax break: “Make your products in the United States instead of China. Start building new plants now. Exciting!"

Apple declined to comment on the president's tweet.

Decentralisation: The Next Big Step For The World Wide Web, by Zoë Corbyn, The Guardian

The story that broke earlier last month that Google would again cooperate with Chinese authorities to run a censored version of its search engine, something the tech giant has neither confirmed nor denied, had ironic timing. The same day, a group of 800 web builders and others – among them Tim Berners-Lee, who created the world wide web – were meeting in San Francisco to discuss a grand idea to circumvent internet gatekeepers like Google and Facebook. The event they had gathered for was the Decentralised Web Summit, held from 31 July to 2 August, and hosted by the Internet Archive. The proponents of the so-called decentralised web – or DWeb – want a new, better web where the entire planet’s population can communicate without having to rely on big companies that amass our data for profit and make it easier for governments to conduct surveillance. And its proponents have got projects and apps that are beginning to function, funding that is flowing and social momentum behind them. In light of the Snowden revelations and Cambridge Analytica scandal, public concerns around spying and privacy have grown. And more people have heard about the DWeb thanks to the television comedy Silicon Valley, whose main character recently pivoted his startup to try and build this “new internet”.

Bottom of the Page

Today, I restored the Photos library from my backup, after repeated attempts by the Photos app to repair its library had failed.

My confidence level of this particular Apple software has dropped quite a bit, though. And I'll definitely be opening my eyes wide to see if there are any suitable altneratives for me.

(I don't think I've lost any photos or videos.)

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Just finished reading: The Caledonian Gambit by Dan Moren. I've rather enjoyed the author's sense of humor in the various podcasts that I do listen to, which is the main reason I picked up this book. I'm glad I wasn't disappointed.

Just finished reading: Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters. I've first encountered the author's work with The Paying Guest, and I enjoyed her work so much that I've been slowly working my way through her previous books. I've finally reached the Ms Waters' debut novel, and I'm so glad with this journey.

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I've more than enough things to read. I've more than enough things to listen. And I've more than enough things to watch.

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Thanks for reading.

The Top-Streamed Edition Saturday, September 8, 2018

Apple Music To Publish Its Own Top Music Charts, by Amy X. Wang, Rolling Stone

Apple Music, in a software update Friday to all users, is rolling out 116 “top 100” numeric charts, which will display the top-streamed songs on Apple Music refreshed on a regular basis. In a demo to Rolling Stone, Apple Music executives showed how the charts — one global chart and a top 100 chart for every country in which Apple Music is available — are grouped together under the platform’s “Browse” tab and have a similar visual appearance to that of playlists or albums.

Apple Music Gains Better Organization Of Releases On Artist Pages, by Federico Viticci, MacStories

While the old artist page design of Apple Music mixed albums, singles, EPs, live albums, and more under the same 'Albums' section, the new Apple Music features separate sections for different types of music releases. The new sections include singles and EPs, live albums, essential albums recommended by Apple Music editors, compilations, and appearances by an artist on other albums.

Alarm Bells

Apple Removes A Top Paid Utility App That Stole Data And Sent It Back To China, by Shannon Liao, The Verge

Apple was notified a month ago by a security researcher, but it only removed the app today.

The Curious Case Of Adware Doctor And The Mac App Store, by John Gruber, Daring Fireball

Even if Apple isn’t willing to commit the human resources to tackle review fraud across the entire App Store — a Sisyphean task at this point, to be sure — they surely ought to tackle it for popular apps, and Adware Doctor was very popular. This app’s success, sketchy description, and the developer’s history of bad behavior should have set off alarm bells inside Apple.

Popular iOS Apps Sending User Location To Data Monetization Firms, Researcher Says, by Zac Hall, 9to5Mac

New research shared with 9to5Mac claims that more than two dozen iOS apps including weather and fitness trackers contain code that covertly shares user location and other information with data monetization firms. These apps have been available on the App Store despite Apple’s strong policies on privacy and protecting customer data. There are steps users can take to mitigate data exposure to these monetization firms when using affected apps — or you can avoid affected apps altogether.

Newstand II

Apple Is Talking To Big Newspapers About Joining Its Subscription Service, by Peter Kafka, Recode

Apple has been talking to some of the biggest newspapers in the U.S. about adding their stories to Texture, the magazine app Apple bought in March. Apple executives, led by content boss Eddy Cue, have reached out to the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post about joining the app, according to people familiar with the conversations, which began this summer.

[...]

But no matter how Apple structures the proposal, it may be a hard sell for any of the papers, which already have big subscription businesses of their own and would be concerned about cannibalizing their own sales.

Apple’s Move To Shake Up The Newspaper Industry Offers Little Upside, by Bryan Clark, The Next Web

I can’t envision a scenario where publishers competing for an even more limited set of eyes, and getting paid based on how many of them view their content within an app, makes the situation any better.

Stuff

NotaBene: A Decidedly Different iOS Email/notetaking App, by Steven Sande, Apple World Today

The idea behind NotaBene is simple: it's a quick, get-the-job-done, write-only email client that you can use to send emailed notes to yourself and a short list of contacts.

5 New Diary Apps To Start A Daily Journal Habit, by Ben Stegner, MakeUseOf

When you’re trying to form a new habit, it’s a good idea to reduce the number of obstacles you have to overcome. Choose an app based on a method you would find most comfortable, and you’ll magically form the habit a lot faster.

Develop

The Hidden Benefit Of Giving Back To Open Source Software, by Kirsten Senz, Harvard Business School

Companies that contribute to open source software and use it in their own IT systems and applications can gain a competitive advantage—even though they may be helping their competitors in the short run.

Notes

Apple Says New China Tariffs Will Boost Prices On Some Products, by Mark Gurman, Bloomberg

Apple Inc., the world’s most valuable company, said proposed U.S. tariffs on $200 billion worth of products imported from China will raise prices for some of its popular consumer goods such as the Apple Watch and AirPods headphones.

The Mac mini desktop computer, Apple Pencil stylus accessory for iPads, various chargers and adapters and tooling equipment used to manufacturer and design some products in the U.S. will also be affected, the Cupertino, California-based company told the Office of U.S. Trade Representative in a letter dated Sept 5.

Apple Has Permanently Banned Alex Jones' Infowars App From The App Store, by John Paczkowski, Charlie Warzel, BuzzFeed

A day after being banned from Twitter, Alex Jones and Infowars have been booted from yet another platform: Apple's popular App Store. As of Friday evening, searches on the App Store for Infowars return no results.

Apple confirmed the app's removal to BuzzFeed News, but declined comment, pointing to its App Store Review Guidelines. The company said Infowars would not be permitted to return to the App Store.

The Mysterious Case Of Missing URLs And Google’s AMP, by Sonniesedge

When you combine these two stories, you realise that this could easily be the prelude to a move on the open web, forcing the shift of a fair part of it into walled garden of Google’s construction.

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Okay, looks like there will not be an Apple Music section in the upcoming Apple event. Not that many (any?) people are predicting it.

Speaking of music: will the HomePod finally go worldwide this fall?

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Thanks for reading.

The Slow-Innovation Edition Friday, September 7, 2018

A 22-year Apple Veteran Explains Why Silicon Valley's 'Fast Fail' Approach Won't Work With Health Tech, by Robin Goldstein, CNBC

Early mistakes can have a lasting impact that reverberate beyond the offending company to impact an entire industry, affecting both the regulatory landscape and broad public perception.

For Safety’s Sake, We Must Slow Innovation In Internet-connected Things, by Martin Giles, Technology Review

In a new book called Click Here to Kill Everybody, Bruce Schneier argues that governments must step in now to force companies developing connected gadgets to make security a priority rather than an afterthought.

Top MacOS App Exfiltrates Browser Histories Behind Users’ Backs, by Tom Spring, ThreatPost

A top-grossing Apple App Store program called Adware Doctor is capable of sidestepping macOS security controls and surreptitiously copying a user’s entire browser history. It then sends it to a China-based domain.

According to Patrick Wardle, chief research officer at Digita Security and founder of Mac security company Objective-See, Apple was informed of Adware Doctor’s suspicious functionality last month, but has failed to take action.

Stuff

The Best Apps For Every Type Of Journaling, by Christine Chan, Lifehacker

Usually, when we think about journaling, the old fashioned method of pen and paper comes to mind. But of course, there’s a digital version of every activity now, and there are a ton of great apps and software out there designed to keep your memories in a single place. There are nearly endless options to choose from, so we’ve rounded up the best that are currently available, depending on how you want to use them and what your goals are.

Satechi Unveils New Wired & Wireless Extended Keyboards In Apple-friendly Colors, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Satechi says its latest keyboards are designed with “enhanced scissors switch keys,” which allow them to “capture every keystroke for fast and precise typing.” Satechi has become a popular alternative to Apple’s own Magic Keyboard, and the company hopes to continue that trend with its new extended keyboards.

Text Case For iOS Adds Title Case Text Transformations Based On Popular Style Guides, by John Voorhees, MacStories

The latest update adds Title Case, which can transform headlines according to the style guides for the Associated Press, American Psychology Association, Modern Language Association, or Chicago Manual of Style. The update also adds sentence case and Pascal case.

New App Helps The Blind Find Their Way Easier, by Joseph Goedert, Health Data Management

A person with partial or total vision loss can go to the closet to get a charcoal suit with light pinstripes, hold the phone close to the clothes, and be verbally prompted when the phone reaches the right item.

Develop

Most Tech Employees Suffer From Impostor Syndrome, by Bonnie Burton, CNET

Feeling like a hack is more common than you might think. In fact 58 percent of people with technology-focused careers suffer from Impostor Syndrome according to a new informal study from workplace social media site Blind.

Notes

Apple To Launch A Global Law Enforcement Web Portal By End Of 2018, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

Apple this week announced it will be launching a dedicated web portal for authenticated law enforcement officers to submit lawful requests for data, track requests, and obtain responsive data from the company by the end of 2018.

Double Trouble, by Ernie Smith, Tedium

Ultimately, the patent lawsuit said more about Microsoft, and where it was going as a company, than it did about Stac Electronics.

Sure, the company had previously been accused of stealing the “look and feel” of the Apple Macintosh for Windows, but this was different; it had effectively gone through a negotiation process with another company, only to watch it fall through their hands, then decided to respond by coming up with a competing technology to give away, only to have a jury put the company in its place.

How Search Engines Are Failing Suicidal Users, by Lucas Chae, Fast Company

These users weren’t even asking for help in the first place. They were asking for ways to kill themselves. Passively offering an option to get help will not work. Instead, we must present something personal and relatable so that they feel that people care and help is always out there.

The Work-Within-Limitation Edition Thursday, September 6, 2018

Logitech Crayon Available To Everyone For $70 Starting Sept. 12, by Scott Stein, CNET

Logitech's clever iPad stylus, Crayon, which autopairs and feels more comfortable than the Apple Pencil, was originally an education-only product, targeted at owners of the latest iPad released earlier this year. I used one over the summer and loved it. Well, good news: Crayon is now available for any iPad owner to buy, starting September 12.

There is one bit of bad news, though: it now costs more.

Hands-on: Logitech Crayon – A Price-friendly Apple Pencil Alternative, by Jeff Benjamin, 9to5Mac

The Logitech Crayon is based on Apple Pencil Technology, but it’s not just a rebranded Apple Pencil — this is a different device, with a less advanced feature-set that’s primarily aimed at note-taking and markup situations.

That’s not to say that the Logitech Crayon can’t be used to make art, because it can. Before Apple Pencil pressure-sensitivity, styli existed for making art, and the Crayon can be used to do so as well; you’ll just have to work within this major limitation. The Crayon also supports tilt functionality, which allows for thicker or thinner lines based on the angle of that you rest the tip on the iPad’s screen. I find the Apple Pencil better for tilt functionality just in the way the stylus is physically designed.

Details To Watch For At Next Week’s iPhone Event, by Jason Snell, Macworld

In the first 20 minutes of the event, pay attention to the pacing. A breakneck pace with a lot of traditional categories covered in a slide or two is a signifier that Apple is packing the keynote with content. If you’re holding out hope for an iPad Pro announcement or, dare to dream, some new Macs, you want to see Tim Cook blow through the early part of the keynote without any long digressions.

On the other hand, if the opening salvos of the event are leisurely strolls through WWDC announcements and Apple Store programs and Apple TV demos, that’s a sign that the keynote agenda is light. Don’t expect iPads and Macs in this case. And gird yourself, because the augmented reality and gaming demos are going to be coming.

Stuff

Review: Fibaro Motion HomeKit Sensor Is More Than Meets The Eye, by Andrew O'Hara, AppleInsider

Motion sensors certainly aren't the flashiest of HomeKit accessories, but they can add a lot of options to HomeKit installations. Fibaro makes the best out there with not just motion detection, but two other sensors packed into its slightly quirky body.

Develop

Productive Procrastination: How To Get More Done By Procrastinating On Purpose, by Nick Wignall

Rather than viewing procrastination as a character flaw and something to be squashed, we ought to look at it as a natural desire we all have to diversify our work and interests.

When we can re-frame it this way, it becomes much easier to harness procrastination and channel it to productive ends.

Notes

EU Clears Apple's Purchase Of Shazam, by Alastair Macdonald, Reuters

“After thoroughly analyzing Shazam’s user and music data, we found that their acquisition by Apple would not reduce competition in the digital music streaming market,” EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a statement.

My Digital Shadow Looks Nothing Like Me, by Daniel Cooper, Engadget

Part of me is naturally delighted that this huge data brokerage has no clue who Dan Cooper really is. Through some combination of genius, trickery or luck, I have avoided becoming a cog in the Man's Machine. I've hidden in plain sight, and these companies don't know me, my lifestyle or my purchasing habits. Then again, the fact that Acxiom failed to get facts right that are a matter of public record is pretty concerning. Perhaps that's the reason why the company declined to participate in this story.

But then, I also wonder how far this information will travel and to what ends it will be used, especially in light of what's going on in other parts of the world.

The Monopoly-busting Case Against Google, Amazon, Uber, And Facebook, by Russell Brandom, The Verge

Antitrust crusaders have built up serious momentum in Washington, but so far, it’s all been theory and talk. Groups like Open Markets have made a strong case that big companies (especially big tech companies) are distorting the market to drive out competitors. We need a new standard for monopolies, they argue, one that focuses less on consumer harm and more on the skewed incentives produced by a company the size of Facebook or Google.

Someday soon, those ideas will be put to the test, probably against one of a handful of companies. For anti-monopolists, it’s a chance to reshape tech into something more democratic and less destructive. It’s just a question of which company makes the best target.

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One week before Apple announces (perhaps) larger-screen iPhones, the Crayon is out for the public. Could there also be a crayon for the iPhones?

~

Thanks for reading.

The Asking-for-Skeuomorphism Edition Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Software Survival, by Craig Hockenberry, Furbo.org

This book changed my view of Scott Forstall because it gave context to his work. Ken’s account breaks down the approach and shows how important Scott’s leadership was to Apple’s success.

Having Steve Jobs as a boss for your entire professional career would not be easy, but Scott handled it with great success. Even when that powerful mentor was asking for skeuomorphism.

The hardware would be lesser without Jony, and Ken shows that the software would be lesser without Scott.

Security Researcher Highlights macOS Remote Exploit With Custom URL Schemes, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

It starts with a user visiting a malicious website where a .zip file is automatically downloaded, as Apple allows automatic downloads and unzipping of “safe” files. This zip contains the malicious application in question. From there, the custom URL scheme is registered.

Stuff

Shooting And Editing Great Photos With Halide And Darkroom, by Nick Heer, The Sweet Setup

We love Halide — we picked it as our favorite third-party camera app for the iPhone. We’re also big fans of Darkroom, which is our favorite photo editing app. Not only great on their own, these apps work brilliantly together to allow you to shoot and edit fantastic photos. Let’s take a look.

Skype’s Latest Version Now Has Call Recording Built In, by Dani Deahl, The Verge

To record a call in Skype, click the + symbol at the bottom of the screen and then select “start recording.” Once started, a banner will appear letting everyone on the Skype call know that it is being recorded. If you are recording a video call, the recording will capture everyone’s video as well as any shared screens. The recording all happens in the cloud, and when the call is done, it’s then posted to your chat and will be available to download and share with other Skype contacts for 30 days.

Develop

The #1 Office Perk? Natural Light, by Jeanne C. Meister, Harvard Business Review

In a research poll of 1,614 North American employees, we found that access to natural light and views of the outdoors are the number one attribute of the workplace environment, outranking stalwarts like onsite cafeterias, fitness centers, and premium perks including on-site childcare (only 4-8% of FORTUNE 100 companies offer on-site child care).

[...]

These findings support a larger trend of the growing importance of employee wellbeing. According to Gallup’s most recent iteration of the State of the American Workplace, more than half of employees report better overall well-being as “very important” to them. In the same survey, work-life balance and overall well-being were determined to be the second most important factor when choosing to work for an organization. When employees are fulfilled in all aspects of their well-being, this leads to increased employee engagement and increases individual performance.

Why Work Has Failed Us: Because Companies Aren’t Sharing The Profits, by Cale Guthrie Weissman, Fast Company

Stories like this are not uncommon, and while they sometimes generate some outrage, private equity deals that strip companies of their assets and leave the workers with nothing are just one particularly egregious part of a larger trend: that the value created by companies is being shared with fewer and fewer people. While the stock market continues to grow, wages have stagnated. There are myriad causes, but they all point to one problem: investor greed. Private equity firms buy up companies they think they can quickly fix and extract returns from. Boards increase the pay of CEOs while saying they can’t afford to raise wages. And companies are offering shareholders billions in stock buybacks, instead of reinvesting returns into a company and its employees.

Notes

Apple Store Robberies On The Rise -- But Are Thieves In For A Surprise?, by CBS News

"People think that you could run in, grab a bunch of stuff from the Apple store, run out and boom, you've got a bunch of laptops and iPhones. Not necessarily the case," Ackerman says. "It's fairly well known that they install special custom versions of the operating systems on these so they're of very limited use, if any, if you take them out of the store."

Another reason for the recent rise in thefts may be due to Apple's lack of common security features in its stores, like attaching devices to security tethers. And that's not by accident.

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I have just finished re-organizing my stacks and notebooks and notes inside my Evernote.

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When Apple's Safari first introduced Reader view, there was quite a few websites that I frequented that intentionally 'block' the feature. When I invoked the Reader view, the content is basically a scolding from the web site telling me how I am robbing them of advertisement money.

Now, as blocking of tracking code is getting more popular, I am starting to see web sites scolding me for robbing them of advertisement money again, just because I am using Firefox. (I did not even install any extensions to block advertising.)

And the end result, at least for me, is still the same: removal of the web site's subscription from my RSS reader.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Get-Out-of-the-Way Edition Tuesday, September 4, 2018

The iPhone’s Autocorrect Is A Blessing And A Curse. A Longtime Apple Designer Explains Why It’s So Hard To Teach Software To Read Your Mind., by Ken Kocienda, Wired

I have a confection to make. Ugh! No, I don’t want to bake a cake. Let me type that again. I have a confession to make. I worked for many years as a software developer at Apple and I invented touchscreen keyboard autocorrection for the original iPhone.

I’m proif if rhe wirl… ahem… I’m proud of the work I did to bring software-assisted typing to a smartphone near you. After all, if the iPhone keyboard wasn’t based in software, Apple couldn’t have delivered on Steve Jobs' vision for a breakthrough touchscreen computer with as few fixed buttons as possible. The keyboard needed to get out of the way when it wasn’t needed so the rest of the apps on the phone could shine.

The Father Of Personal Computing Who Was Also A Terrible Dad, by Melanie Thernstrom, New York Times

We all have our own myth of Steve Jobs: surges of love, gratitude or awe for the man who gave us the tools we use to express ourselves. At his memorial service, and in the years that followed, strangers would burden Lisa with their Jobs legends — people she had never met praising her father, “asserting a claim” that Steve was “like a father” to them. She knows they want her to “confirm him as the ur-father. His great greatness.” Bearing his last name, yet forced to live under the crushing reality of his emotional deficits, Lisa was, in some sense, uniquely deprived of the myth. But after Steve dies, Chrisann insists that she can sense his spirit, telling Lisa that he’s following her around and he’s overjoyed to be with her: “He wants to be with you so much he’s padding around behind you … he’s delighted just watching you butter a piece of toast.”

“I didn’t believe it,” Lisa writes in the book’s perfect last line, “but I liked thinking it anyway.”

The ultimate question for all of us is what image of our father we carry forward: our own ur-father, the internalized figure we choose to keep. Having sifted through the complex reality of her experiences, Lisa is finally free to claim her own myth: the fantasy of the father she longed for that allowed her to survive the father she had.

Taming The Lizard Brain, by Tanveer Ahmed, Quillette

Figures like Turkle and Mcnamee argue that understanding our vulnerabilities represents the first step in modifying device design and placing limits on trends like micro-targeting, which can allow marketers to link products to temporary emotional states tied to social media posts. In doing so, the challenge will be to find an adjusted balance for the modern world between the rational, cortex elements of our brain and the most primitive, but powerful lizard base.

We are perhaps entering a unique phase in business history where those who inherit the Earth will be the companies that best prevent us from using their product.

How Location Tracking Actually Works On Your Smartphone, by David Nield, Gizmodo

As the recent revelation over Google’s background tracking of your location shows, it’s not as easy as it should be to work out when apps, giant tech companies and pocket devices are tracking your location and when they’re not. Here’s what you need to know about how location tracking works on a phone—and how to disable it.

Location information is one of the prime bits of data any company can get on you, whether they want to personalize your weather reports or serve up an ad for a local bakery. As a result apps and mobile OSes are very keen to get hold of it. It’s a compromise though, and if you don’t want to give it away, you’ll have do without some location-based services (like directions to the park). Do you want convenience or privacy? You can’t have both, but know how it works, and when you can or should activate it should help.

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eGPU With macOS: How Useful Is One, Really?, by Alex Wulff, Hackernoon

If you do any kind of work that can benefit from a better graphics processor then likely an eGPU is worth it for you. The NVIDIA eGPUs are a viable option for macOS desktops, since you should only need to perform the setup hassle every once in a while. Users who often take their laptop will likely prefer AMD chips in their eGPUs due to the plug-and-play nature (at least until Apple adds support for NVIDIA architectures). The added convenience of USB-A adapters and power delivery in eGPUs such as the AORUS Gaming Box is fantastic. I can just come home, plug in one cable, and my workstation will be all set up.

Read On The iPad, Read On The iPhone, by M.G. Siegler, 500ish Words

As people may know, I try to capture nearly everything I want to read in Pocket. I rarely read anything in real time, and even when I do, I often still save it to Pocket, just so I have a record of it. But it’s not that simple. Given just how much I read, I’ve found I need a few different tangential services to capture everything and to create an ideal workflow for my reading.

The HomeKit-Compatible Arlo Baby Cam Is Not Just For Parents, by Julio Ojeda-Zapata, TidBITS

The Arlo Baby is not for everyone, given its steep cost and potentially superfluous features. Parents with infants are more likely to get excited about this product given its baby-friendly capabilities, and therefore more willing to shoulder its extra cost.

[...]

But the Arlo Baby is a decent security camera for those who don’t mind paying a premium. Its unique features, which have a variety of not-baby-related uses, could make it worthwhile.

Parallels 14 Review: Windows On Your Mac Is Now Faster Than Ever, by Christopher Spera, iMore

The current version – Parallels Desktop 14 – is by far – the best version of the virtualization environment yet. It's fast. I have both Windows 10 AND Windows 7 VM's on my Mac, and running them under Parallels Desktop 14 is very surprising to me, since they perform like native hardware PC's.

Notes

6 Ways Google Chrome Changed The Way We Web, by Brent Rose, Gizmodo

So, Chrome is ten years old. Officially in the double-digits. Soon it’ll be getting wispy chin-hairs and its voice will be cracking. That said, Google’s browser has accomplished a lot in the ten years that it’s been around. It went from a latecomer in the Browser Wars, with just a 1-percent market share early on launch, and now it’s the most-used browser in the world, with around 60-percent market share. We thought we’d take a look back at the few of the ways it became so dominant.

Meet Tamara Levitt, The Toronto Woman Who Soothes Millions On The Calm App, by Camilla Cornell, The Globe and Mail

You can scarcely go out the door in California without bumping into a Zen master or meditation practitioner. And yet, when it came to choosing a voice for one of the world’s most popular mental wellness apps, the founders of San-Francisco-based Calm.com Inc. turned to a Torontonian. Downloaded 30 million times, the Calm app relies on the tranquil tones of Tamara Levitt, 46, who writes, produces and narrates its mindfulness and meditation sessions.

Ms. Levitt has held the title of head of mindfulness content at the app since November, 2014, and has an equity position in the company (although she won’t share the financial details). She records her sessions for Calm at a studio on Queen Street West, and since she joined the team, subscriptions have grown from 22,500 to 1 million. Subscribers pay US$60 a year to access the app’s content.

Local Product Quotas For Netflix, Amazon To Become Law, EU Official Says, by Nick Vivarelli, Variety

Quotas obligating Netflix, Amazon and other streaming services operating in the European Union to dedicate at least 30% of their on-demand catalogs to local content are set to become enshrined in law soon.

Roberto Viola, head of the European Commission department that regulates communications networks, content and technology, said the new rules, which will also demand visibility and prominence of European product on streamers, are on track to be approved in December.

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I've had days when one significant (to me, anyway) thing happend that made me feel sad for the rest of the day. I've also had days when nothing really significant happened, but little things just pile on sadness one over another.

And then, I've had days when, at the end, I didn't even have the energy to figure out what sort of day I was having and what sort of sadness I am having.

I should have just stayed in bed this morning.

~

Thanks for reading.

The So-Much-More Edition Monday, September 3, 2018

What It Was Like To Give Up My Apple Watch After Three Years Of Constant Use, by Andrew O'Hara, AppleInsider

Apple Watch is a personal device. Everyone uses it differently. On the surface, it seemed I could easily replace the Apple Watch with a cheaper, more minimalistic device and get the same outcome. But Apple's blend of features and excellent design make that a lot harder to pull off than I imagined.

[...]

Apple Watch isn't just a simple fitness tracker, but it unlocks your computer, controls your home, finds your phone, acts as a flashlight, and so much more.

Shakespeare In An iPad, by Sonali Acharjee, Open

“Visual representation of information is attractive and interesting,” says Gunjan Agrawal, co-founder of Logic Roots, a hands-on learning games provider. And he’s correct. Reading plain text about a gold leaf or a pith ball electroscope detecting electrical charges isn’t nearly as thrilling as watching a video on how each actually works. Similarly, walking into an animated lab and creating a bottle organ to understand the characteristics of sound puts mere information into a real- life context, making it both relevant and intriguing for the learner.

“Motivation to learn has been one of the greatest challenges of traditional classroom teaching. Large amounts of plain text no longer attract kids today, who are growing up in an interactive and inter- connected world,” adds Agrawal. While setting up Logic Roots in 2012 with his partner Kunal Gandhi, the duo realised that three basic components need to be integrated to maintain a learner’s enthusiasm and curiosity. “Education needs to have a social angle, a story and variety,” explains Agrawal. Keeping this in mind, Logic Roots became one of the first few providers of game-based learning tools, using board and card games to teach math. This process of gamification or the application of game mechanics of fun, collaboration, competition and rewards in non-game situations has since become one of the focal points of several digital education platforms. Interactive experiments, quizzes and virtual application of concepts are all relevant to teaching because they keep facts and figures from becoming a barrage of monotonous black and white text.

The Smart Technology Turning China’s Illiterate Late Bloomers Into Digital Natives, by Simone McCarthy, South China Morning Post

Though Li only has three years of formal education and speaks colloquial Cantonese, not Mandarin, she quickly picked up the handwriting input tool on her iPad with the help of her granddaughter, and now uses it to search for articles and follow news.

[...]

But this method can have its own difficulties, even for those who are literate, according to Elisa Oreglia, assistant professor of global digital cultures at King’s College London. [...] That is where speech recognition technology can make a difference, with apps like Xunfei’s iFLY able to recognise and transcribe several of China’s major dialects, in addition to Mandarin.

Stuff

Learning About The Night Sky Is A Snap With An App, by Marty Scott, Union Bulletin

StarWalk 7, by Vito Technology, is the general astronomy app I use most often to find things in the night sky. It runs on the iPhone and iPad; this app and many others are available for Android devices, as well.

When you start StarWalk7, it obtains your location, date and time, and then displays the current sky at your location. The default setting will display constellations as art images with the constellations’ names. It will also display the locations of the sun, moon and planets. As you zoom in, it will display more objects, along with many of their names.

Brydge 12.9 Series II Review, by Ed Hardy, Cult of Mac

There’s probably never going to be a MacBook with a touchscreen. But you can get somewhat close with an iPad Pro connected to a Brydge 12.9 Series II.

Develop

New World NetNewsWire, by Brent Simmons, Inessential

This means that NetNewsWire does not have to be designed as if it’s anybody’s only source of news. And it doesn’t have to be designed to please the maximum number of people.

My thinking, instead, is to make it fit into an ecosystem: it’s just one of a number of sources, and not even the only RSS reader.

Notes

Laptop Bezels Are Dead, And IFA Killed Them, by Chaim Gartenberg, The Verge

Removing bezels isn’t just about aesthetics. Yes, bezel-less screens look fantastic, but that’s only a piece of the puzzle. The real advantages lie in the fact that, suddenly, companies can fit bigger screens into the existing form factors we have now.

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I hope Apple can tempt me with the Apple Watch by having an even cheaper version next week.

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Thanks for reading.

The Failure-to-Accept Edition Sunday, September 2, 2018

An Ode To Apple’s Awful MacBook Keyboard, by Natasha Lomas, TechCrunch

Of course consumer electronic designs won’t always work out. Some failure is to be expected — and will be understood. But what makes the keyboard situation so much worse is Apple’s failure to recognise and accept the problem so that it could promptly clean up the mess.

Its apparent inability (for so long) to acknowledge there even was a problem is a particularly worrying sign. Having to sneak in a late fix because you didn’t have the courage to publicly admit you screwed up is not a good look for any company — let alone a company with such a long, rich and storied history as Apple.

How To Make A Big Decision, by Steven Johnson, New York Times

The upshot is clear: If you find yourself mapping a “whether or not” question, looking at a simple fork in the road, you’re almost always better off turning it into a “which one” question that gives you more available paths.

Why The Future Of Data Storage Is (Still) Magnetic Tape, by Mark Lantz, IEEE Spectrum

Indeed, much of the world’s data is still kept on tape, including data for basic science, such as particle physics and radio astronomy, human heritage and national archives, major motion pictures, banking, insurance, oil exploration, and more. There is even a cadre of people (including me, trained in materials science, engineering, or physics) whose job it is to keep improving tape storage.

Tape has been around for a long while, yes, but the technology hasn’t been frozen in time. Quite the contrary. Like the hard disk and the transistor, magnetic tape has advanced enormously over the decades.

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I am having second thoughts with storing all my photos and videos in Apple's Photo app...

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Thanks for reading.

The Faulty-Logic Edition Saturday, September 1, 2018

Apple Launches Repair Program For Defective iPhone 8 Logic Boards, by Nick Statt, The Verge

Apple quietly announced the launch of a free repair program for the iPhone 8 this afternoon, revealing that a “very small percentage” of units need replacement logic boards due to a manufacturing defect. The logic board is essentially the main printed circuit board of a computing device, containing the CPU, device memory, and other integral components. Apple says its faulty logic boards may have been causing random restarts, screen freezes, and defective startup initiations that prevent the iPhone 8 from turning on properly.

macOS Mojave: Opening New Vistas In Security For Mac Users, by Dave Nanian, Shirt Pocket

Back when Microsoft released Vista, they added a whole bunch of security prompts that proved to be one of worst ideas Microsoft ever had. And it didn't work. It annoyed users so much, and caused such a huge backlash that they backed off the approach, and got smarter about their prompting in later releases.

Perhaps Apple's marketing team needs to talk to engineering?

Apple Discloses Minor Crash Involving Self-Driving Test Vehicle, by Mark Gurman, Bloomberg

This is the first time a collision involving an Apple autonomous vehicle has been reported by the California DMV. The car, a Lexus SUV in self-driving mode, was rear-ended by another vehicle when it was preparing to merge onto a highway in the Bay Area called the Lawrence Expressway, according to the report. Both vehicles sustained damage but no injuries were reported, the filing added.

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The Best Note-Taking Apps For Class, Work, And Life, by Shannon Liao, The Verge

The best note-taking app needs intuitive features and a nice-looking design. Bonus points if it has cloud storage, autosave, offline access, and voice-to-text recognition. I need to be able to search through my notes and organize them if they are really going to be of any use to me.

Finally, with the recent data privacy concerns, it needs to be as secure as possible from peeping advertisers or bad actors. That said, only one of the apps featured on this list (Standard Notes) had an encryption feature.

Hands On: Brydge 12.9 Series II Keyboard For Apple’s iPad Pro Aims For MacBook-style Feel With Ridiculous Battery Life, by Neil Hughes, AppleInsider

In order to match the footprint of the iPad Pro, and to have the proper heft for lap use just as you'd use a traditional MacBook, the latest Brydge does — once again — add noticeable heft to the iPad package.

However, the Brydge compensates for this by having the iPad itself be easily removable, unencumbered by a case that encloses and holds the iPad itself.

Black Pixel Transfers NetNewsWire To Brent Simmons, by John Voorhees, MacStories

Today, Brent Simmons announced and Black Pixel is expected to announce shortly that NetNewsWire will be returning to Simmons, the original developer of the app.

Notes

EU To Recommend End To Changing Clocks Twice A Year, by Sam Jones and Daniel Boffey, The Guardian

The European commission will recommend that EU member states abandon the practice of changing the clocks in spring and autumn, with many people in favour of staying on summer time throughout the year.

Jean-Claude Juncker, the commission’s president, said a recent consultation had shown that more than 80% of EU citizens were in favour of the move.

NASA Sets A Grim Deadline For Saving A Beloved Mars Rover, by Marina Koren, The Atlantic

On Thursday, NASA announced it had set a deadline for the current recovery attempts for the rover. According to atmospheric data from a NASA orbiter around Mars, there will soon be enough sunlight reaching the surface for Opportunity to recharge its batteries and kick off some automated procedures to bring it back online—if it survived the storm in the first place. When that happens, the countdown begins.

“If we do not hear back after 45 days, the team will be forced to conclude that the sun-blocking dust and the Martian cold have conspired to cause some type of fault from which the rover will more than likely not recover,” said John Callas, the Opportunity project manager, in a press release. “At that point, our active phase of reaching out to Opportunity will be at an end.”

Startup Takes Stress Out Of Fed-up Workers’ Exit Plans, by Alex Martin, Japan Times

The piles of paperwork to fill out, bosses incessantly trying to talk subordinates out of leaving and the silent recrimination filling the workplace all stand in the way, and Niino, who worked for three firms before taking the entrepreneurial path, says he understands firsthand the psychology of those who cower at the prospect of enduring the daunting process.