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Archive for October 2018

The More-in-the-Making Edition Friday, October 19, 2018

Apple To Unveil iPad, MacBook Laptop Overhauls On Oct. 30, by Mark Gurman, Bloomberg

Apple Inc. said it will hold a product announcement Oct. 30 in Brooklyn, New York, likely to unveil new iPads and Mac computers.

The invitation to media reads, "There’s more in the making," without specifying what would be introduced. The Cupertino, California-based technology giant is planning the biggest revamp to the iPad Pro since it first went on sale in 2015, as well as a lower-cost MacBook laptop and a new Mac mini desktop, Bloomberg News reported earlier this year.

What To Look For At Apple’s Oct. 30 Event, Besides iPads And Macs, by Dan Moren, Macworld

As with any Apple event, there’s plenty of speculation about what the October 30 show could bring. So far, those whispers have largely been about new iPads with Face ID and edge-to-edge displays, and possibly a new Mac mini and/or consumer-level MacBook. Plus, of course, there’s always the expectation of there being a few surprises up the company’s sleeves.

Of course, those surprises are the most interesting part, so let’s focus on what the company might have in store for announcements that aren’t about the company’s major product lines.

Check Out These Custom Logos Apple Made For Its October 30th Event, by Chaim Gartenberg, The Verge

But unlike its usual event invitations, this year, Apple has done something different: it created tons of unique, colorful versions of its logo, and everyone seemingly received a different style on their invitation.

Welcoming Adobe

The Companies Behind Affinity And Procreate Aren’t Worried About Photoshop On The iPad, by Dami Lee, The Verge

For now, the developers behind Affinity and Procreate say they aren’t worried. The arrival of a giant competitor doesn’t automatically mean it will be successful, as Facebook learned the first half-dozen times it cloned Snapchat. But Facebook eventually caught up to Snap when it added a Stories feature to Instagram.

How Apple's Aperture Created A New Class Of App On October 19, 2005 And Lost It To Adobe Lightroom, by William Gallagher, AppleInsider

It's a surprising story because Aperture had much going for it. The Mac is the preferred computer of photographers across the world and Aperture addressed a genuine need. It's too simplistic to blame its failure on a handful of specific issues but as a whole those problems do mean that Aperture is a major Apple app that died.

Vulnerable Position

When Convenience Creates Risk: Taking A Deeper Look At Security Code AutoFill On iOS 12 And macOS Mojave, by Andreas Gutmann, Bentham's Gaze

In this blog post, we publish the results of our extended analysis and demonstrate that the changes made by Apple mitigated one symptom of the problem, but did not address the cause. Security Code AutoFill could leave Apple users in a vulnerable position after upgrading to iOS 12 and macOS Mojave, exposing them to risks beyond the scope of our initial reports.

We describe four example attacks that are intended to demonstrate the risks stemming from the flawed Security Code AutoFill, but intentionally omit the detail necessary to execute them against live systems. Note that supporting screenshots and videos in this article may identify companies whose services we’ve used to test our attacks. We do not infer that those companies’ systems would be affected any more or any less than their competitors.

Stuff

Apple Now Sells A USB-C Charger For The Apple Watch, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

The magnetic charger is identical to the existing Apple Watch charger, except you can plug it into a USB-C port rather than USB-A.

Apple's First iPhone XR Ads Coincide With Preorder Kickoff, by Mikey Campbell, AppleInsider

The two short spots differ in style but convey the same general message: iPhone XR has arrived.

Tweetbot 5 For iOS Brings A Redesign, Dedicated GIPHY Support, And A New Dark Mode, by John Voorhees, MacStories

The dark mode looks much better on OLED phones, and the design changes give the app a fresh new feel. I wasn’t sure I’d like the addition of auto-play video, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find I do, though it’s easy enough to turn off if you don’t. The haptic feedback is another good addition that provides a subtle tactile response to actions taken in the app.

CARROT Weather, by Ben Brooks

This is the best weather app on iOS right now. It’s not even close. There’s simply no other weather app which has this information density in such a fast format.

Read To Your Kid With The Perfect Sound Effects Accompaniment, by Michelle Woo, Lifehacker

As you read a children’s book aloud, your iPhone, iPad or connected speakers play custom music and sound effects to enhance the story. The system uses voice recognition technology to drop in the sounds at the perfect moment, so you can go at your own pace. [...]

Novel Effect works with more than 200 different books, from classics to recent bestsellers. There are some titles that come with the app, but for most of the selections, you must already have a copy of the book, whether print or digital.

Square Launches All-in-one Portable Terminal With Apple Pay, by Roger Fingas, AppleInsider

Square on Thursday unveiled the Terminal, a portable device meant to accept all forms of retail payment, including NFC-based platforms like Apple Pay and Google Pay.

Develop

Microservices Are Something You Grow Into, Not Begin With, by Nick Janetakis

Microservices aren’t something you start off with from day 1, just like you wouldn’t attempt to create a perfect open source external library on day 1 before you even wrote a line of code. At that point you don’t even know what you’re making.

A microservices based architecture is something you might grow into over time as you come across real problems working with your code base.

Notes

Jony Ive 'Proud' Of Apple Watch, Explains Design Team's Late Apple Park Move, by Malcolm Owen, AppleInsider

Speaking to the Financial Times, Ive was questioned if the Apple Watch is really a watch, but responded suggesting it is more than a timepiece. "I think that this is a very powerful computer, with a range of very sophisticated sensors, that is strapped to my wrist," said Ive, adding "That's neither very descriptive nor very helpful."

Citing its similar challenge in describing the iPhone at its launch, Ive suggests "Clearly the capability of the iPhone extends way beyond the function of what we would traditionally call a phone."

There May Soon Be Three Internets. America’s Won’t Necessarily Be The Best., by New York Times

There’s a world of difference between the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, known commonly as G.D.P.R., and China’s technologically enforced censorship regime, often dubbed “the Great Firewall.” But all three spheres — Europe, America and China — are generating sets of rules, regulations and norms that are beginning to rub up against one another. What’s more, the actual physical location of data has increasingly become separated by region, with data confined to data centers inside the borders of countries with data localization laws.

[...]

As governments push toward a splintered internet, American corporations do little to counteract Balkanization and instead do whatever is necessary to expand their operations. If the future of the internet is a tripartite cold war, Silicon Valley wants to be making money in all three of those worlds.

Google Is The New Yahoo, by Mike Elgan

In fact, the killing of Google+ is a perfect storm of Google's vision vacuum. It's driven by their antipathy toward passionate users, and also their failure to understand the human element generally.

[...]

Google is the new Yahoo, the company that kills its own products.

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After watching a few of the new iPhone XR YouTube videos, my X really feels small.

(I should go and dig out my iPhone 3G to remind myself how big my iPhone X actually is.)

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Thanks for reading.

The Data-Portal Edition Thursday, October 18, 2018

Apple Overhauls Its Privacy Pages, And Now Lets U.S. Customers Download Their Own Data, by Zack Whittaker, TechCrunch

You’re not going to see much change from previous years — the privacy pages still state the same commitments that Apple’s long held, like that privacy is a “fundamental human right” and that your information is largely on your iPhones, iPads and Macs. And, now with a bevy of new security and privacy features in iOS 12 and macOS Mojave, the pages are updated to include new information about end-to-end encrypted group FaceTime video calls and improvements to intelligence tracking protections — and, how it uses differential privacy to understand which are the most popular features so it can improve, without being able to identify individual users.

One key addition this time around: Apple is expanding its data portal to allow U.S. customers to get a copy of the data that the company stores on them.

How To Download Your Data From Apple, by Zack Whittaker, TechCrunch

Earlier this year when I requested my own data (before the portal feature rolled out), Apple sent me a dozen spreadsheets with my purchase and order history, a few iCloud logs, and some of my account information. The data will date back to when you opened your account, but may not include recent data if Apple has no reason to retain it.

But because most Apple data is stored on your devices, it can’t turn over what it doesn’t have. And any data it collects from Apple News, Maps and Siri is anonymous and can’t attribute to individual users.

Get Work Done

Why Photoshop On iOS Is A Huge Win For The iPad Pro, by Jason Snell, Macworld

A lot of the criticism of the iPad Pro as a flawed tool for doing real work comes down to software. The hardware is capable—but where’s the software? These arguments have been weak for a while now—I think Microsoft Office for iPad is aces, and Apple’s iWork apps are remarkably capable, too—but with every major app that arrives on the platform, the quieter that criticism has to get. Adobe’s also bringing a simplified version of Premiere, called Premiere Rush, to the iPad. I wonder if Apple’s considering just how Final Cut and Logic might work on the iPad?

[...]

Photoshop on the iPad isn’t the magic key that unlocks the future of the iPad Pro. But it’s one of the biggest signs yet that things are changing—and that the iPad won’t be denied as a destination for people who want to get work done.

Something Deeply Strange

Chartbreakers: How Spammers Are Gaming The Podcast Charts, by Chartable

So, what can we conclude from this network graph? Here's my take:

If the podcast charts are based on subscription velocity, it's highly likely that some or all of the podcasts in the isolated clusters have artificial subscriptions. We can't be certain that every podcast in each isolated cluster is subject to manipulation. But the combination of highly interconnected shows, plus isolation from the “main cluster” of popular shows, plus disparate subject matter suggests that something deeply strange is happening across a sizable number of podcasts. It's been suggested that click farms are used to artificially boost subscriber counts.

Stuff

Pixelmator Pro Adds Mojave Dark And Light Themes, ML Enhance, Automator Actions, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

There’s also a new machine-learning enhance feature, support for Quick Actions in the Mojave Finder and some batch effect actions in Automator. Pixelmator Pro also now supports SVG Fonts for richer, graphic, typography.

Spotify Premium Update Lets You Listen To One Artist Forever, by Sean Keane, CNET

The music streaming service's Endless Artist Radio lets you search for a playlist based on your favorite musician and find a matching endless stream.

Palm Desert Teen Creates App Highlighting Public Art Pieces In Valley For Residents, Visitors, by Sherry Barkas, Desert Sun

Creating apps isn’t new for Martin, who was in seventh grade when he developed one for King’s Schools in Palm Desert, where he was enrolled.

He developed a prototype and was working with the city when he did a presentation at a meeting with representatives of cities valleywide, who saw it and wanted to be included. This ultimately led him to Scott White, chief executive and president of the Greater Palm Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau.

“It’s been a long journey,” Martin said.

Notes

Some Of Apple’s Forgotten iOS Apps, by Stephen Hackett, MacStories

Apple has just about always offered iOS apps on the App Store, separate from what apps come bundled on its devices from the factory.

Sometimes, these apps get promoted to being part of the iOS image, like Podcasts and iBooks have. Once stuck hanging out on the App Store, they now ship on the iPhone and iPad by default.

A lot of other apps weren't luck enough to get that lifeline, and have since been removed from the App Store. Let's take a look at a few examples.

Commission Withdraws Court Action Over Apple Tax Delays, by RTÉ.ie

"Taking into account that the payment into the escrow fund of the illegal aid removed the distortion of competition caused by that aid, the Commission has today decided to withdraw the court action," a statement from the European Commission said today.

The funds will be held in the escrow account until final judgments are made in appeals against the original Commission decision.

How China Rips Off The iPhone And Reinvents Android, by Sam Byford, The Verge

Yes, many of these phones make similar mistakes with overbearing UI decisions — hello, Huawei — and yes, it’s easy to mock some designs for their obvious thrall to iOS. But these are phones created in a very different context to Android devices as we’ve previously understood them.

The Chinese phone market is a spiraling behemoth of innovation and audacity, unlike anything we’ve ever seen. If you want to be on board with the already exciting hardware, it’s worth trying to understand the software.

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Many of the Today Widgets on my iPhone are simply taking up too much space. It will be so nice if they can appear as a watch-like complication on the iPhone's lock screen.

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I used to play a heck of Vortex) on my iPod. Nowadays, I'm playing Orbital on my iPhone while listening to my audiobooks and podcasts.

I think I can see the similarities between the two games.

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Thanks for reading.

The Same-Old-Issues Edition Wednesday, October 17, 2018

The New And Improved MacBook Keyboards Have The Same Old Problems, by Casey Johnston, The Outline

Every time I described the 2017 MacBook Pro I sold because I couldn’t stand its non-functional keyboard and asked an Apple store employee if the new one would screw me over the same way, each assured me that Apple had changed the keyboards so that that would never happen again. I described my issues with “dust” to one shop associate at the Apple Store at the World Trade Center and asked if the new computers were any better. “Yeah, yeah, they fixed that problem… it was a BIG problem,” she told me. “So it doesn’t happen at all?” I asked. “No, it shouldn’t happen,” she said. Maybe the bad days were finally over.

But checking around online, it appears the new keyboards have the same old issues. They may be delayed, but they happen nonetheless. The MacRumors forum has a long thread about the the “gen 3 butterfly keyboard” where users have been sharing their experiences since Apple updated the design. “How is everyone lse’s keyboard doing? I rplaced th first one because ‘E’ and ‘O’ gave double output. The replacment ither eats “E”, “O”, “I” and “T”, or doubles them,” wrote one poster. “I didn’t correct the typos above on purpose.”

Timepiece

Thoughts On The Ambition Of Apple Watch, by Jonny Evans, Computerworld

The problem with all the other so-called smartwatches on the market is that they lack ambition. They seem to be designed as either exercise trackers or as smartphone extensions.

Apple’s plan is far more ambitious.

A Review Of The Apple Watch Series 4, by Josh Ginter, The Sweet Setup

To me, the Series 4 Apple Watch is an inflection point. The gentler corners, classier (when customized) Infograph watch face, less bombastic LTE indicator, smoothed dock button, and gold stainless steel materials have pushed the Apple Watch into a new jewelry echelon, for both men and women.

For the first time, I’d wear an Apple Watch with a sport coat. For the first time, the Apple Watch has become a “timepiece,” with every bit of snobbery assumed in that title.

Voice-Enabled Accessibility

When Alexa Can’t Understand You, by Moira Corcoran, Slate

People with speech disabilities use the same language and grammar that others do. But their speech musculature—things like their tongue and jaw—is affected, resulting in consonants becoming slurred and vowels blending together, says Frank Rudzicz, an associate professor of computer science at the University of Toronto who studies speech and machine learning. These differences present a challenge in developing voice-enabled technologies.

[...]

Andy Theyers, who’s written about his struggle to use voice assistants due to his stutter, says that this is, in part, a reflection of an industry that doesn’t always prioritize accessibility from the beginning of a product’s development. Sean Lewis, a motivational speaker with cerebral palsy, agrees. “Unless [tech developers] personally know someone with a disability,” Lewis says, they “have no idea how a lack of technology affects people’s lives.”

Stuff

Beats By Dre Unveils Special Edition Mickey Mouse Solo 3 Wireless Headphones For 90th Anniversary, by Michael Potuck, 9to5Mac

These special edition Mickey Solo 3 headphones feature the same hardware and specs as the standard version, but come with a custom Disney/Beats carrying case, 90th anniversary pin, and decal in addition to the Mickey Mouse design.

Skydio’s Self-flying Drone Can Now Be Controlled Using Just An Apple Watch, by Nick Statt, The Verge

Skydio, the California-based drone maker that specializes in self-flying software, is announcing a new update today that will let owners of its R1 drone launch, control, and even manually fly the drone entirely from an Apple Watch. Since the R1’s launch earlier this year, the company has positioned its self-flying drone, which uses artificial intelligence to provide advanced obstacle avoidance and automated piloting, as perfect for action sport enthusiasts. Now, with Apple Watch support, Skydio hopes it will open up new possibilities for people to easily film themselves with the R1, while doing all types of outdoor activities.

Review: The Philips Hue Outdoor Lightstrip With HomeKit Integration Lights Up Your Backyard, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

As is typical with Hue lighting products, the Outdoor Lightstrips aren't cheap, but they're certainly well made and are able to hold up to continued exposure to outdoor conditions.

The Ember Travel Mug Smartly Heats Your Hot Drinks, by Jessica Dolcourt, CNET

Using data the device collects, what you drink and how often, Apple Health then estimates your caffeine intake. While this may sound like a stretch, the Ember already senses quite a bit about its (and your) activity.

Develop

App Bundles Are Coming To The Mac App Store, by John Voorhees, MacStories

The process for setting up a bundle, which will allow developers to offer up to 10 Mac apps as a single purchase, appears to be the same as it is for iOS developers.

Browser Vendors Unite To End Support For 20-year-old TLS 1.0, by Peter Bright, Ars Technica

The current recommendation is that sites switch to TLS 1.2 (which happens to be the minimum required for HTTP 2.0) and offer only a limited, modern set of encryption algorithms and authentication schemes. TLS 1.3 was recently finalized, but it currently has little widespread adoption.

Deprecation Of Legacy TLS 1.0 And 1.1 Versions, by Christopher Wood, Webkit

If you own or operate a web server that does not support TLS 1.2 or newer, please upgrade now.

Notes

Apple Seemingly Cracking Down On 'Scammy' Subscription Apps, by Mikey Campbell, AppleInsider

Apple, however, appears to be cracking down on dubious titles. Both QR Code Reader and Weather Alarms are no longer available on the U.S. App Store, while 11 of the 17 apps mentioned in the Forbes article have also disappeared.

The matter boils down to customer awareness and vigilance, and Apple is at perhaps partially to blame for aberrant behavior after carefully pruning the apps in its walled garden.

How Lisp Became God's Own Programming Language, by Sinclair Target, Two Bit History

When programmers discuss the relative merits of different programming languages, they often talk about them in prosaic terms as if they were so many tools in a tool belt—one might be more appropriate for systems programming, another might be more appropriate for gluing together other programs to accomplish some ad hoc task. This is as it should be. Languages have different strengths and claiming that a language is better than other languages without reference to a specific use case only invites an unproductive and vitriolic debate.

But there is one language that seems to inspire a peculiar universal reverence: Lisp. Keyboard crusaders that would otherwise pounce on anyone daring to suggest that some language is better than any other will concede that Lisp is on another level. Lisp transcends the utilitarian criteria used to judge other languages, because the median programmer has never used Lisp to build anything practical and probably never will, yet the reverence for Lisp runs so deep that Lisp is often ascribed mystical properties. Everyone’s favorite webcomic, xkcd, has depicted Lisp this way at least twice: In one comic, a character reaches some sort of Lisp enlightenment, which appears to allow him to comprehend the fundamental structure of the universe. In another comic, a robed, senescent programmer hands a stack of parentheses to his padawan, saying that the parentheses are “elegant weapons for a more civilized age,” suggesting that Lisp has all the occult power of the Force.

Google To Charge Phone Makers For Android Apps In Europe, by Adam Stariano, New York Times

The new arrangement is the latest sign that global technology companies are adjusting their business practices in Europe to account for stiffer regulations there.

[...]

By obligating handset makers to load the free apps along with the Android operating system, regulators said, Google had boxed out competitors. With the company now required to separate its services in Europe, handset manufacturers like Samsung and Huawei will now have more flexibility there to choose what applications they want to pre-install on phones.

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I support Apple's drive to make its devices thinner and lighter. (If I have to choose, I'll prioritize on lighter. But I guess thinner comes with lighter.) I want devices that are so light that I don't have to think twice before putting them in my bag.

However, if something as critical as the keyboard is not working -- and by working, I'm not talking just about the failure rate, which I assume Apple has all the stats, but the lack of confidence from Apple's customers -- Apple should have the courage to revert back to an earlier design, as soon as possible.

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Thanks for reading.

The Restoring-Humanity Edition Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Apple's Jony Ive On The Unpredictable Consequences Of Innovation, by Robbie Gonzalez, Wired

"What I'm more concerned about," said Ive, is preserving the interpersonal benefits of person-to-person interaction. "The more you remove people, the more technology can become transactional," he said. Ive says the work Apple has been doing on emoji and messaging are meant to "restore some humanity to the way we connect."

In his remarks, Ive turned again and again to the theme of human connection. It's important to Ive not just professionally (it’s central, for example, to his team's vision for the future of Apple's retail experience), but personally. "I moved to the US in 1992 for two reasons: I loved Apple and I loved the US." At the time, he said, "optimism was tangible and material"—particularly in Silicon Valley.

The connection appears to also be what will keep him at Apple. Asked whether he plans to continue designing for the foreseeable future, Ive answered in the affirmative by pointing to the collaborative environment at the company, which he characterized as more diverse than ever.

The Challenge Of Just Fine, by Chuq Von Rospach

A big part of what made Apple successful in its turnaround was a commitment to sweating the details and living or dying on “it solves your problem, and it just works”. And over the last few years, Apple’s lost that level of detail and commitment to quality. It’s all about sweating the details, and bluntly Apple’s not doing a great job of that right now.

It needs to find it again.

In macOS Mojave, Reduce Transparency Has Broken Logic And Terrible Design, by Craig Grannell, Revert to Saved

“Fine”, says Apple, grumpily, “so just turn on Reduce transparency”. Only it’s not that simple. Because when you do, Apple designers get in a strop and hurl logic out of the window. What you’d expect to happen is for macOS to remove the semi-transparent bits. So instead of Finder sidebars or the macOS app switcher showing what’s beneath them, they’d just have a neutral solid background. Nope. Instead, in its infinite wisdom, Apple’s decided those components should instead be coloured by your Desktop background.

Ruin The Market

Sneaky Subscriptions Are Plaguing The App Store, by Sarah Perez, TechCrunch

Today, most subscription-based businesses thriving on the App Store come from legitimate developers. But they know how scammers could easily ruin the market for everyone involved. If allowed to continue, these scams could lead to consumer distrust in subscriptions in general.

In a worst-case scenario, consumers may even go so far as to avoid downloading apps where subscriptions are offered as in-app purchases in order to protect themselves from scams.

Stuff

Nike+ Run Club Now Optimized For Apple Watch Series 4, by Zac Hall, 9to5Mac

Nike+ Run Club for Apple Watch has been updated to fill the larger 40mm and 44mm displays on the new Series 4 models — 10 days after the Series 4 version of the Apple Watch Nike+ hit stores.

Overcast And Apple’s Podcasts Make The Apple Watch A Decent Podcast Player, by Julio Ojeda-Zapata, TidBITS

For standalone Apple Watch playback, meanwhile, Podcasts and Overcast are both fantastic choices. Podcasts could use a bit of interface refinement to distinguish between local and remote episodes, and Overcast would benefit from some bug fixes and performance improvements.

But, with impeccable pedigrees and interfaces that already go a long way to making the Apple Watch a kick-ass podcast player, these two apps are definitely worth a look.

iPhone XS Review: The Future, As Promised, Is Now, by Jason Snell, Six Colors

For now, though, we’ve got a camera so good that you can shoot straight into the sun and it kind of doesn’t matter, other than the risks of J.J. Abrams-style lens flare. A lesson anyone using a camera learns early on is that you don’t want to shoot backlit subjects, because the light from behind them will wash out the rest of the picture, and you’ll be left with silhouettes or a completely useless, blown-out image.

Using the iPhone XS camera has required me to retrain myself. You’re always going to be better off not shooting directly into the sun, but it matters a lot less when every shot you take is actually a combination of multiple shots and exposures capturing different portions of the image at different light levels, and sticking them all together on the fly into a single image that can show the sun, the sky, and the faces of the people who are feeling that sun on their backs. This is a technique Apple calls Smart HDR, and it is a remarkable step toward making iPhone photos match what your eye actually sees.

Running A Mac From An iPad Or iPhone With Remote Control For Mac, by John Voorhees, MacStories

Remote works via a companion menu bar app that you install on your Mac, which allows your iOS device to send system events and other actions to your Mac while both are on the same network. Once the menu bar app is installed and running, everything else happens in Remote’s iOS app, which is divided into five tabs: Media, Input, Apps, Menu, and System.

[...]

Remote Control for Mac is another excellent example of an iOS utility that Siri shortcuts makes more useful. Instead of grabbing my iPhone, finding the app, and hunting for the command I want, I can take care of waking my Mac and turning on the lights with one Siri command. Remote also shows the power that is possible when iOS and macOS are used together, which is something I hope is part of Apple’s plans to bring iOS apps to the Mac.

Hands On With AirPlay 2 On The Libratone Zipp And Zipp Mini, by Andrew O'Hara, AppleInsider

What sets the Libratone Zipp and Zipp Mini apart from other speakers is their versatility. They work with AirPlay 2 and Bluetooth in a variety of different scenarios. You can be at home, use them on Wi-Fi while plugged in, and also be used while on the go using Bluetooth and the built-in battery. So far, these are also the only battery-powered, portable AirPlay 2 speakers.

Apple Watch Used For Major Clinical Study Of Knee And Joint Replacement Patients, by Zac Hall, 9to5Mac

MyMobility from musculoskeletal healthcare firm Zimmer Biomet “uses Apple Watch to facilitate a new level of connection between patients and their surgical care teams, which can immediately impact the journey patients experience when they undergo these procedures,” the company announced today.

Notes

Apple Apologizes For Hacked Apple IDs In China, Says Account Details Were Phished, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

Apple has apologized for a recent spate of account hacks in China, which it says affected a ‘small number’ of user accounts.

Although details on exactly what happened have not been disclosed, Apple said that the affected accounts were not secured with two-factor authentication. This allowed criminals to phish for account credentials and then extract money using apps like Alipay.

Adobe MAX 2018: Phil Schiller Discusses Photoshop For iPad, AR, Collaboration With Adobe, by Michael Steeber, 9to5Mac

Attesting to the close collaboration required to bring Photoshop from the desktop to a multi-touch device like the iPad, Schiller noted that Apple and Adobe’s relationship goes back decades. As the iPad becomes more powerful, it is increasingly important to creative workflows. Apple’s A-Series chips, recent GPUs, and innovations like the ProMotion Retina display were noted as critical features for pros. “Adobe has understood the potential of the iPad from the beginning,” Schiller said.

Apple Fixes Bagel Emoji, by Jeremy Burge, Emojipedia

Apple has released a new version of its forthcoming bagel emoji. Now including cream-cheese, this aims to address concerns raised about the previous design.

No, Apple Didn’t Acquire Music Analytics Startup Asaii, It Hired The Founders To Work On Apple Music, by Ingrid Lunden, TechCrunch

What it has done is hire a few employees of the company — specifically the three founders, Sony Theakanath, Austin Chen and Chris Zhang — who are all now working at Apple at Apple Music. (Apple has done this before: for example, it hired a team from the mapping app PinDrop in the UK; at the time it was also misreported as an acquisition.)

It’s not clear if the three will be working on similar technology, or other kinds of tools to affect how music is discovered on Apple Music. Apple has already launched a beta of its own analytics service called Apple Music for Artists.

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Will 2019 be the year when Apple revamps the iPhone's home screen and lock screen? I hope we'll have custom clock faces with custom complications on the lock screen; why let Apple Watch has all the fun? And I wish for multiple home screens, maybe one during working hours and one during leisure hours.

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Thanks for reading.

The Becoming-Human Edition Monday, October 15, 2018

I Went To Buy An iPhone XS And The Apple Store Employee Said Don’t Do It, by Chris Matyszczyk, ZDNet

What? She wasn't going to try and talk me into buying today, right now, this minute? She wasn't even going to talk me into pre-ordering the XR on October 19?

What has happened to the sales industry? Has it become human?

"Come back on the 26th," she told me. "I'll be here." This was true customer service, something that I've often experienced in Apple stores.

How I Finally Learned To Love Apple’s AirPods, by Henry T. Casey, Tom’s Guide

Then, came the nearly miraculous moment when I realized how light these buds felt in my ears. Sure, they're called AirPods, but how did Apple manage to make them feel so airy, though still secure enough that I never worried about them falling out? It's a miracle of industrial design. With the AirPods in my ears, ready to rock, I pressed Play on my daily playlist, which was set to Shuffle. Instantly, the delicate flutes of Peter Gabriel's "Sledgehammer" fluttered into my ears, soon backed by the track's signature horns. Having used Apple's own earbuds for so many years — and writing a column in my college newspaper about their poor quality, back in 2006 — I was shocked at how good the AirPods sounded.

The Real Photoshop

Adobe Announces Full Photoshop CC For iPad Shipping 2019, Syncs With Desktop, by Michael Steeber, 9to5Mac

A full, desktop-class version of Photoshop on iOS has been one of the most hotly anticipated creative apps for designers and artists since the original iPad’s introduction in 2010. In the years since, competitors have released their own products hoping to fill the void, but can’t offer true integration with Creative Cloud that existing Photoshop customer have come to expect. Today at 2018’s Adobe MAX conference in Los Angeles, Adobe is answering the requests of the creative community by previewing what it calls real Photoshop CC for iPad.

Adobe’s Chief Product Officer Scott Belsky On Bringing Photoshop To The iPad, by Dami Lee, The Verge

"I’m going to go on a limb here and say that the era of the file is over. I think that a creation is really a combination of components. Look at a Photoshop “file.” What is it really? It’s a collection of fonts, images and layers of edits and other things taken in from other places, composited together. It’s a collection. All those components, those ingredients of that composition both still exist in their original form as well as their combined altered form, which is ultimately the composition you’re making in a PSD."

"What we’ve done — what powers Photoshop on iPad — is what we call the Cloud PSD. The Cloud PSD is in a sense, a manifest of all of these ingredients together."

Finally: Real Photoshop On The iPad, by Dami Lee, The Verge

The phrase “real Photoshop” came up several times during my week-long preview of an early version of the software giant’s long-awaited app. The underlying code is the same as desktop Photoshop, and although the interface has been rethought for the iPad, the same core tools line the edges of the screen.

But the biggest change of all is a total rethinking of the classic .psd file for the cloud, which will turn using Photoshop into something much more like Google Docs. Photoshop for the iPad is a big deal, but Cloud PSD is the change that will let Adobe bring Photoshop everywhere.

Adobe Launches Premiere Rush, A Cross-platform Video Editor, by Kyle Wiggers, VentureBeat

Adobe Premiere Rush (previously Project Rush), as you might recall, is a cross-platform video editing app for smartphones, tablets, and PCs. It became available in beta this summer for select customers, and today during Adobe’s annual Adobe Max conference in Los Angeles, Adobe announced that it’s launching broadly on PC, Mac, and iOS devices.

The Technology In our Pockets

The Smartphone App That Can Tell You’re Depressed Before You Know It Yourself, by Rachel Metz, MIT Technology Review

A startup founded in Palo Alto, California, by a trio of doctors, including the former director of the US National Institute of Mental Health, is trying to prove that our obsession with the technology in our pockets can help treat some of today’s most intractable medical problems: depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and substance abuse.

Mindstrong Health is using a smartphone app to collect measures of people’s cognition and emotional health as indicated by how they use their phones. Once a patient installs Mindstrong’s app, it monitors things like the way the person types, taps, and scrolls while using other apps. This data is encrypted and analyzed remotely using machine learning, and the results are shared with the patient and the patient’s medical provider.

The seemingly mundane minutiae of how you interact with your phone offers surprisingly important clues to your mental health, according to Mindstrong’s research—revealing, for example, a relapse of depression. With details gleaned from the app, Mindstrong says, a patient’s doctor or other care manager gets an alert when something may be amiss and can then check in with the patient by sending a message through the app (patients, too, can use it to message their care provider).

Scientists Have A New Weapon Against HIV: Your Phone, by Tyler Wray, Boston Globe

With more ways to prevent the spread of HIV than ever before, we’ve learned that using many options together works much better than any one strategy alone. Called “combination prevention,” this approach involves offering patients multiple medical and behavioral strategies for reducing their risk based on what is the best fit for them. Yet the success of combination prevention requires matching each person with the right interventions at the right time. It can also require a lot of from patients: periodic HIV testing, steady adherence to medication schedules, and good communication with medical providers.

Smartphones and other Internet-connected devices may hold the key. In 2017, more than three-quarters of American adults owned a smartphone, and that number continues to grow. People use their devices almost continuously, with studies suggesting that our phones are within arm’s reach 90 percent of the time and that we check them more than 2,600 times a day. The widespread adoption of smartphones, along with specialized devices, apps, and sensors, allows us to provide “just-in-time, adaptive interventions” that intervene at critical moments when someone is about to slip up and do something harmful or when they are most receptive to making a positive change.

Apple Is Donating 1,000 Watches For A New Study To Track Binge Eating, by Christina Farr, CNBC

The Apple Watch is in use by scientists across the country to monitor everything from the symptoms of Parkinson's disease to postpartum depression. Now, researchers are aiming to see how well the device can track eating disorders.

The University of North Carolina's medical school will soon be starting a study called BEGIN, which stands for Binge Eating Genetics Initiative, to better understand overeating. People with binge eating disorder often eat large amounts of food uncontrollably in a small period of time. Those who follow with compensatory behavior like purging or excessive exercise are typically diagnosed with bulimia nervosa.

Find Artists

Apple Acquires Music Analytics Startup Asaii, by Axios

Apple has acquired Asaii, a startup that built a music analytics engine for music labels and artist managers, sources confirm to Axios.

Apple Acquires Music Analytics Firm That Claims It Can ‘Find The Next Justin Bieber’, by Jon Porter, The Verge

Asaii’s main product is a dashboard that pulls together data from both music services and social media. This dashboard is advertised as having multiple uses, such as helping record labels plan marketing campaigns and live tours. But, its main feature is allowing labels to discover artists before they make it big. Asaii claims that its tech is able to find artists “10 weeks to a year” before they chart, allowing for the discovery of “the next Justin Bieber.”

Stuff

Hands On With Apple’s New Series 4 Apple Watch Bands, by Andrew O’Hara, AppleInsider

Apple's bands can carry a higher price tag, but when it comes the colors, feel, and quality, few can come close.

Develop

The Lost Art Of Concentration: Being Distracted In A Digital World, by Harriet Griffey, The Guardian

Put simply, better concentration makes life easier and less stressful and we will be more productive. To make this change means reflecting on what we are doing to sabotage personal concentration, and then implementing steps towards behavioural change that will improve our chances of concentrating better. This means deliberately reducing distractions and being more self-disciplined about our use of social media, which are increasingly urgent for the sake of our cognitive and mental health.

It takes about three weeks for a repeating behaviour to form a habit, says Jeremy Dean, a psychologist and the author of Making Habits, Breaking Habits. Getting into a new habit will not happen overnight and adaptation can be incremental. Start by switching off smartphone alerts, or taking social media apps off your phone, then switching off the device for increasingly long periods.

Practise concentration by finding things to do that specifically engage you for a period of time to the exclusion of everything else. What is noticeable is that you cannot just go from a state of distraction to one of concentration, in the same way that most of us cannot fall asleep the minute our head hits the pillow. It takes a bit of time and, with practice, becomes easier to accomplish.

Notes

50 Years In Tech, Part 7: A Resonant Apple France Message, by Jean-Louis Gassée, Monday Note

In Cupertino, I had met Regis McKenna, Apple’s Eminence Grise, the Valley’s marketing guru who helped put Apple on the media map.

We got along nicely and he smilingly approved of my simplified view of his trade: Marketing’s primary task is positioning, defining identity. Put another way, if you don’t have a clean, clear, resonant identity, there no story to tell — and your efforts and budgets are wasted.

Palm Is A 3.3-inch Android Sidekick That Won't Replace Your Phone, by Jessica Dolcourt, CNET

Repeat it again: The new Palm isn't a phone, but it works with the phone you already have. When you want to watch videos, play games or take fancy portrait shots, reach for your main device. But when you want to go for a jog, run a quick errand or focus on the people around you, Palm wants you to take its gadget instead. For Palm (yes, Palm is the name of the product and the company), the device is a lifeline when you need it, not an object to obsess over like you would your usual phone.

I briefly tried out the Palm, and it's nuts.

Why Bill Gates Is Worried, by Ezra Klein, Vox

Each year, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation releases its annual Goalkeepers Report. The publication is thick with charts and graphs, metrics and statistics. And usually, it’s optimistic — global poverty, infant mortality, and a host of other key measures have dashed toward decency in recent years, and the Gateses have sought to make sure the public knows that progress is being made.

The 2018 edition, however, started on a tougher note. “Optimism requires being candid about the hard problems that still need to be solved,” the Gateses write. “That’s what this year’s Goalkeepers Data Report aims to do: confront a pressing yet neglected challenge, and identify some of the most promising strategies to meet it.”

“To put it bluntly,” they continue, “decades of stunning progress in the fight against poverty and disease may be on the verge of stalling. This is because the poorest parts of the world are growing faster than everywhere else; more babies are being born in the places where it’s hardest to lead a healthy and productive life.”

Bottom of the Page

Palm -- the pocket-watch.

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Thanks for reading.

The Effort-Is-Lacking Edition Sunday, October 14, 2018

Apple Shares New Apple Watch Series 4 How To Videos For Workouts & Emergency SOS, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Apple this weekend has shared a pair of short Apple Watch how to videos on its YouTube channel. The videos are relatively basic, covering the Workout application and using Emergency SOS mode.

Review: Apple Watch Nike+ Hardware Still Solid, But Nike's Software Is Lacking, by Vadim Yuryev, AppleInsider

The Apple Watch itself is still a 4.5 out of 5. The hardware is solid, the execution is excellent. The changes Apple has made as the product has evolved has focused the product into what it needs to be —and we've said this before.

However, Nike's part of the effort in software is lacking. It's not like the release of the Apple Watch Series 4 was a surprise, and the fact that the Nike complications and software are untouched is unacceptable.

Gaming Console

What Developers Say Apple Needs To Do To Make The Apple TV A Gaming Console, by Samuel Axon, Ars Technica

Most of the developers I spoke with seemed to believe the same thing I did when I reviewed the Apple TV: there's a lot of potential here for this to be the Apple gaming console that people have speculated about for years. But, they add, Apple just isn't trying hard enough to let consumers know what the TV can do or to make it easy for them to use the TV explicitly for gaming purposes.

There's another angle on all this too: Apple has begun working on a project called Marzipan, which would make developing apps that can be deployed to both macOS and iOS easier than it is today. From what we know about it so far, the relationship from a developer's point of view could be somewhat similar to that between tvOS and iOS now.

What Does ‘Time Well Spent’ Mean For Games Like ‘Candy Crush?’, by Peter Pachal, Mashable

I think, first of all Candy Crush is a great game; it's a fun game. But it's actually structured in a way that it does not require you to play for many hours in a row. It's exactly the opposite in fact. We structured the game in a way that it's easy to learn — you can play it in three minutes. Candy Crush now has more than 3,800 levels, but each level can be played over just three minutes. Because we think that the mobile experience is not one where you stay many hours on the device playing, but is one where we want you to be able to play in a short space of time — while you’re waiting for the bus, or you're in the underground, or you have a moment for yourself and you want just to relax. In fact, the model in which we started with the business model was: stopping the player from playing.

Stuff

These macOS Mojave Apps Will Help You Get The Most Out Of The Finder, by William Gallagher, AppleInsider

Use these tools and you can, for instance, have your shared Dropbox folder automatically delete files over a week old. Drag a file in to share with someone, give them a few days to get it, then delete it rather than taking up your Dropbox space.

Or when you have a giant job on, you can get your Mac to rename a thousand files in a moment. Then with a keystroke you can have the Mac tag one file or a thousand and make sure both tags and filenames are consistent so that you can find them again later.

One thing. None of this can be done with Apple's software, you need to buy third-party apps and they are not casual purchases. For what they do, they're cheap, but each one is extremely powerful. What we're going to do with them here doesn't even count as scratching the surface.

The iPhone’s New "Screen Time" Regulating Tool Is Here To Save You From Yourself, by Lauren Valenti, Vogue

And while society has a ways to go in fully coming to terms with this sobering truth, it's become enough of an acute issue that one of the driving forces behind it all saw the need for addressing it head-on. Enter: Apple’s "Screen Time,” a new iOS12 feature that not only creates a daily and weekly activity report showing the total time spent on each app, but also counts how many push notifications are received, and how often the phone is physically picked up. And once the reality of phone, and in turn, social media addiction inevitably sets in, a user can take back the reigns with the "App Limits" tool and control how much time they spend on certain apps by setting a limit. Users also have the option of restricting use of certain apps based on the time of day with "Downtime," a feature that blocks notifications by placing a badge over flagged apps.

Will Rise Of Shopping Apps For Marks & Spencer, Tesco And Sainsbury’s Signal The End Of The Supermarket Checkout Till?, by Ellie Cambridge, The Sun

M&S have become the latest to test out an app which would save shoppers having to go through a checkout to pay.

Develop

Getting Through App Review, by Jacob Eiting, Medium

Being a well rounded iOS developer means knowing how to work with App Review. The rarely useful, often infuriating process occurs at the end of the dev cycle when time and tempers are short. This combination makes any rejection at this stage costly and deflating.

However, we are not powerless. Below are some of the tricks I’ve picked up over the years that help to reduce avoidable rejections as well as some advice for dealing with rejections when they do happen.

Notes

You're About To Drown In Streaming Subscriptions, by Brian Barrett, Wired

The notion that streaming services might someday totally supplant the monolithic cable package has glittered on the horizon for years now. But as that future becomes increasingly the present, an uncomfortable reality has set in: There’s too much. To Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and HBO Now, add WarnerMedia, Disney, and Apple as omnibus, general interest streaming destinations. Investors have poured a billion dollars into something called Quibi, which has an unfortunate name but exclusive Guillermo del Toro content. And the niche options continue to proliferate as well, whether it’s DC Universe or College Humor. If we’re not at the breaking point yet, we’re surely about to find it.

What Next For Photography In The Age Of Instagram?, by Sean O'Hagan, The Guardian

In February this year, researchers from Alphabet Inc’s DeepMind division released thumbnail images of a range of everyday subjects: a dog, a butterfly, a hamburger and an ocean view. All were AI-generated images produced from scratch by an algorithm called BiGAN. All look disturbingly like real photographs. Sooner than we think, it will be impossible for the human eye to tell the difference between an AI-generated image and a real photograph. The future is already here and photography is the medium shaping it – and us – in ways that make all these anxieties about the meaning of photography seem almost irrelevant. And, in another way – against a backdrop of fake news, alternative facts, and artificial intelligence – more relevant than ever.

Bottom of the Page

I've easily adapted to having to swipe down from the top-right corner to get Control Centre on my iPad. Not a problem at all.

Now, my iPhone 6 (which I used mostly as a backup alarm clock and radio) is the only device where I have to swipe up from the bottom for Control Centre. Fortunately, I most don't need to use Control Centre on this device.

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Thanks for reading.

The Security-and-Privacy Edition Saturday, October 13, 2018

Apple Rebukes Australia’s “Dangerously Ambiguous” Anti-encryption Bill, by Zack Whittaker, TechCrunch

In a seven-page letter to the Australian parliament, Apple said that it “would be wrong to weaken security for millions of law-abiding customers in order to investigate the very few who pose a threat.”

“We appreciate the government’s outreach to Apple and other companies during the drafting of this bill,” the letter read. “While we are pleased that some of the suggestions incorporated improve the legislation, the unfortunate fact is that the draft legislation remains dangerously ambiguous with respect to encryption and security.”

“This is no time to weaken encryption,” it read. “Rather than serving the interests of Australian law enforcement, it will just weaken the security and privacy of regular customers while pushing criminals further off the grid.”

VoiceOver Bug Lets Hackers View iPhone Photos, Send Them To Another Device, by Mikey Campbell, AppleInsider

Amateur iOS hacker Jose Rodriguez on Friday unearthed another obscure, yet effective, lock screen bypass that leans on an unpatched bug in VoiceOver to gain unauthorized access to photos on a target device.

No One Can Get Cybersecurity Disclosure Just Right — Especially Lawmakers, by Lily Hay Newman, Wired

GDPR was conceived to be a broad and flexible framework, but its prescriptive elements can seem impractical or unreasonable. And this hints at the larger tension between the need for codified disclosure requirements, and the difficulty of making rules that account for all situations.

The Facebook Hack Could Haunt Its Victims For Years To Come, by Will Oremus, Slate

The good news is, the number of users whose accounts were hacked was 30 million, down from Facebook’s original estimate of 50 million. Facebook also now says that it believes users’ accounts on Instagram, Oculus, WhatsApp, and third-party apps were not affected. [...]

The bad news is Facebook can now confirm that the vast majority of those victims did indeed have their personal information stolen. (All it had said previously was that their accounts were accessed.) And while Facebook still doesn’t know just what the hackers plan to do with that information, the possibilities are many. As for who did it, Facebook said: “We’re cooperating with the FBI, which is actively investigating and asked us not to discuss who may be behind this attack.”

More Than Just Fitness

Apple Watch Series 4: We Hiked For Six Hours So You Wouldn't Have To, by Vanessa Hand Orellana, CNET

Like its predecessors, the Apple Watch Series 4 is a worthy fitness companion for all levels. The longer battery and better screen are great incentives for distance runners who were waiting to make the plunge to an Apple Watch or just looking to upgrade from an older model. But 6 hours of tracking is still miles behind other dedicated fitness watches that can go for days on a charge.

The biggest selling point of the Apple Watch is that it does so much more than just fitness. The added cell connectivity means you can comfortably leave your phone behind on a run and still have all the essentials: music, messages, calls or car service.

And with the Series 4 you have new health features like the EKG, irregular heart rate notifications and fall detection.

My Apple Watch Turned Me Into A Workout Troll, by Cory Stieg, Refinery 29

At the end of the day, exercise should be a joyful experience that makes you feel good — not shamed — about your body or activity level. And for me, sharing my stats with a supportive loved one who I trust to make me laugh with silly messages adds a layer of fun that my workouts were otherwise missing.

Hands-On With The New Reflective Sport Loop Band For Apple Watch Nike+, by Zac Hall, 9to5Mac

Introducing reflective thread details for runners to improve visibility during low-light runs is clever. The hoop and loop closure makes it infinitely adjustable so you can easily tighten it for a run and loosen it during daily wear. The reflective detail is only dramatic when it makes contact with a bright light source so it won’t stand out too much away from headlights and camera flashes. As a safety measure for running at night, the reflective thread is certainly helpful but the strap is a small target for making you visible to drivers. I often run at night with the blinking flash light feature enabled on Apple Watch, but it’s just one more safety precaution in addition to a few others.

Exploring Custom watchOS Watch Faces, by David Smith

So last week I spent a lot of time working through ideas around making better complications for the Apple Watch Series 4. This showed some progress but is ultimately limited by the constraints imposed by the current watchOS watch face system.

So when the broader discussion got to the point of talking about totally custom watch faces I was very interested. Especially when Steve Troughton-Smith worked out a little hack to hide the time from full screen watchOS apps. Now I was off to the races. We don’t have a means to replace the actual watch faces on our watches but we can make watch apps that look like them and run those on my wrist.

Stuff

A Tour Through The Mojave Features That Make It Stand Out, by Jeff Carlson, Seattle Times

Now that the macOS counterpart, Mojave, is in the wild, I want to focus on some of the features that make it stand out.

Keep Your Favorite iOS Shortcuts Up To Date With RoutineHub, by David Murphy, Lifehacker

While there have been a few “central hubs” for shortcuts that have popped up following iOS 12's release, I like RoutineHub’s simple, organized layout—and its growing number of shortcuts. More importantly, if you have a shortcut you want to share with the world, RoutineHub makes it easy to add in an update module, which gives you version control and your shortcut’s fans a way to get the latest and greatest version of your creation.

Sometimes It’s Better To Just Start Over With iCloud Photo Library Syncing, by John Gruber, Daring Fireball

So if you temporarily turn off iCloud Photo Library and turn it back on, it might be easier to just delete all your photos from your iPhone first, and let them all sync back from iCloud.

Develop

You’re Never Too Old To Be A Genius, by Allison Schrager, Quartz

More recent research, from then-psychology graduates students at Harvard, suggests it is not so simple. Some types of fluid intelligence peak early. Raw processing speed, ie. how quickly we do a mental task, reaches its greatest potential around 18 or 19, but we don’t master other abilities, like reading emotional states, until our 40s or 50s. As we age, we combine our changing fluid intelligence with our increased wisdom. As a result, we are not our smartest selves at any one age; we excel in different areas at various points in our lives. The researchers estimated we are best at facial recognition before 20. But many other tasks that involve thinking and knowledge peak in middle age. It turns out you are best at solving arithmetic problems and comprehension in your 40s and into your 50s.

The Future Of Work Might Actually Be ... Good?, by Paris Martineau, Wired

As technology grows more sophisticated, Brown-Philpot thinks robots and machines will become more integrated into our everyday lives, more as intermediaries between customers and employees than as direct substitutes. Sure, the TaskRabbit of the future could be summoned to your home by a smart fridge programmed to automatically send out a repair request when malfunctioning, posits Brown-Philpot. But the nuanced human expertise of the dispatched Tasker is irreplaceable. “I just believe that robots are never going to replace the empathy and judgment that humans can provide,” she added.

Notes

Man Wearing Apple Maps Backpack Surveying San Francisco On Foot, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

MacRumors reader Dante Cesa spotted a man wearing an Apple Maps backpack featuring a LIDAR rig, GPS, and multiple cameras, some of the same equipment that's previously been spotted on Apple's mapping vans.

Tim Cook Visited Headquarters Of Bytedance In Beijing, by Gabriel Li, Pandaily

Tim Cook swung by the headquarters of Bytedance Thursday, tasting life of Internet celebrity on the live-streaming app TikTok with Bytedance founder Zhang Yiming and other creators.

[...]

Meetings with Chinese developers and business partners on Cook’s China trip seem to have grown into a routine for the past years. In March 2017, Cook visited the headquarters of the bike-sharing company Ofo.

Cops Told ‘Don’t Look’ At New iPhones To Avoid Face ID Lock-Out, by Joseph Cox, Motherboard

But Face ID can of course also work against law enforcement—too many failed attempts with the ‘wrong’ face can force the iPhone to request a potentially harder to obtain passcode instead. Taking advantage of legal differences in how passcodes are protected, US law enforcement have forced people to unlock their devices with not just their face but their fingerprints too. But still, in a set of presentation slides obtained by Motherboard this week, one company specialising in mobile forensics is telling investigators not to even look at phones with Face ID, because they might accidentally trigger this mechanism. “iPhone X: don’t look at the screen, or else… The same thing will occur as happened on Apple’s event,” the slide, from forensics company Elcomsoft, reads. Motherboard obtained the presentation from a non-Elcomsoft source, and the company subsequently confirmed its veracity.

Bottom of the Page

I'm not sure how representative I am, but I subscribe to Apple Music because I want some good audio entertainment. The only 'original' audio content Apple is doing all these while are the various shows on Beats 1, which have a rather narrow focus.

I wish Apple will invest more in audio programming. If Beats 1 can be compared to BBC Radio 1 (I'm not sure because I don't listen to either of them), I hope Apple can do more stuff like BBC's Radio 3, Radio 4, or even World Service.

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Thanks for reading.

The Whole-Day Edition Friday, October 12, 2018

Apple Watch Diary: Battery-life Is Now Good Enough For Sleep-tracking Plus All-day Wear, by Ben Lovejoy, 9to5Mac

I wore my Watch at night, then, when I woke, I took it off and put it on charge until I went to the office, typically about 45 mins after waking. I did that for four nights and found that, actually, that was enough to have the Watch comfortably make it through the whole day as well.

Some Speculation On iOS 12's Faster Adoption, by David Sparks, MacSparky

I think what we are seeing here is a return to trust. This is the first year since iOS 7 that I haven’t had at least one person write to ask me if it’s “safe” to install iOS 12. Of course Apple could blow this in the future but, for now, I think users are generally trusting of the iOS and macOS updates again.

Apple Will Release Its Own Clear Case For iPhone XR, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

A standard leather or silicone case would simply hide the colorful glass finishes entirely. Rather than trying something more extravagant like the iPhone 5c case design, Apple is keeping it simple, and launching their first ever clear plastic case.

Stuff

Genius Lyrics Are Now Available In Apple Music, by Dani Deahl, The Verge

Music encyclopedia and lyrics database Genius has announced a partnership with Apple Music, pairing the website’s lyrics with songs. Starting today, Genius lyrics for “thousands of songs” are available on Apple Music, allowing users to read lyrics while they listen to a song.

1Password For Mac Disables Auto-submit Feature As macOS Mojave Boosts Security, by Ben Lovejoy, 9to5Mac

Earlier versions of 1Password can submit login details fully automatically, so you can be briefly presented with a login screen on a website and then logged-in without taking any action. This is because 1Password entered your password and also transmitted a carriage-return character.

However, macOS Mojave has placed ‘significant restrictions’ on the ability of apps to virtually press the return key, meaning 1Password can no longer do this. Reflecting this, 1Password has removed the auto-submission feature on all versions of macOS.

Notes

What Does A Fair Algorithm Actually Look Like?, by Louise Matsakis, Wired

In response to the problem of AI bias and so-called “black box” algorithms, many machine learning experts, technology companies, and governments have called for more fairness, accountability, and transparency in AI. The research arm of the Department of Defense has taken an interest in developing machine learning models that can more easily account for how they make decisions, for example. And companies like Alphabet, IBM, and the auditing firm KPMG are also creating or have already built tools for explaining how their AI products come to conclusions.

But that doesn’t mean everyone agrees on what constitutes a fair explanation. There’s no common standard for what level of transparency is sufficient. Does a bank need to publicly release the computer code behind its loan algorithm to be truly transparent? What percentage of defendants need to understand the explanation given for how a recidivism AI works?

A Future Where Everything Becomes A Computer Is As Creepy As You Feared, by Farhad Manjoo, New York Times

Mr. Schneier argues that the economic and technical incentives of the internet-of-things industry do not align with security and privacy for society generally. Putting a computer in everything turns the whole world into a computer security threat — and the hacks and bugs uncovered in just the last few weeks at Facebook and Google illustrate how difficult digital security is even for the biggest tech companies. In a roboticized world, hacks would not just affect your data but could endanger your property, your life and even national security.

The Faster-and-More-Efficient Edition Thursday, October 11, 2018

Apple Is Paying $300M In Cash To Buy A Part Of Dialog Semiconductor And Expand Its Chipmaking In Europe, by Ingrid Lunden, TechCrunch

Apple has quietly been putting considerable effort into building faster and more efficient chips that can help differentiate its hardware from the rest of the consumer electronics pack, and today it’s taking its next (and possibly biggest) step in that strategy: the company is paying $300 million in cash to purchase a portion of Dialog Semiconductor, a chipmaker based out of Europe that it has been working with since the first iPhone. On top of the cash purchase, Apple is also committing $300 million in further purchases from the remaining part of Dialog’s business.

How To Create Mojave’s True Dynamic Desktops With GraphicConverter, by Kobu Agency, TidBITS

When I pointed out that the Dynamic Desktop feature seemed to be a relatively simple collection of images, Thorsten promised to look into it more. A beta of GraphicConverter arrived soon after, and we went back and forth a few times before he figured out both the image requirements and the necessary metadata to make it all work. GraphicConverter 10.6.5 is now available with this feature when running in Mojave.

Cracking Television

Apple Plans To Give Away Original Content For Free To Device Owners As Part Of New Digital TV Strategy, by Alex Sherman, CNBC

Apple is preparing a new digital video service that will marry original content and subscription services from legacy media companies, according to people familiar with the matter. Owners of Apple devices, such as the iPhone, iPad and Apple TV will find the still-in-the-works service in the pre-installed "TV" application, said the people, who asked not to be named because the details of the project are private.

The product will include Apple-owned content, which will be free to Apple device owners, and subscription "channels," which will allow customers to sign up for online-only services, such as those from HBO and Starz.

Netflix Isn't Invincible, by Neil Cybart, Above Avalon

Given how Netflix is viewed by many as unstoppable, it probably shouldn’t come as a surprise that consensus expectations remain muted for Disney and Apple in the paid video streaming space. This will likely end up being a mistake. Various publications have been solely focused on casting doubt on Apple’s video efforts instead of highlighting how the paid video streaming market remains attractive for a company like Apple. The cynicism surrounding Apple Video brings back memories of the doubt facing Apple Music in the early years.

Tim Cook and Eddy Cue are reportedly taking a very hands-on approach with Apple’s video initiative, highlighting the service’s importance to Apple. Video will end up being a key ingredient of an Apple entertainment bundle containing various services. The company ends up building not just a video streaming service, but a Hollywood arm. Meanwhile, Disney has the strongest intellectual property out of any video player. The company’s problem up to now has been found with distribution. Those problems are now being addressed.

Stuff

The Apple Watch Is The Best Smartwatch For iPhone Owners, by Nick Guy and Dan Frakes, Wirecutter

After our tests of every version of the Apple Watch since the original, the Apple Watch Series 4 is the easiest smartwatch recommendation we’ve made. It’s the best option for iPhone owners who want to keep their phone in their pocket while keeping up with notifications, tracking their fitness, getting directions, and using apps. And the Series 4’s new, larger screen makes it worth splurging on.

Lina Display Turns Your iPad Into A Second Mac Display, Now Available After Kickstarter Campaign, by Michael Potuck, 9to5Mac

After a highly successful Kickstarter campaign, Astro HQ has now made its Luna Display that transforms iPads into a second display for your Mac available to all consumers.

Sonos Mac App Upgraded – But Mostly Downgraded – As Company Prioritizes iOS App, by Ben Lovejoy, 9to5Mac

Sonos directs owners to use the iOS or Android app instead for all set up and configuration tasks.

Develop

Apple Revamps Affiliate Program For Apple Books, Offering Increased Rates For Authors & More, by Peter Cao, 9to5Mac

Apple is updating its affiliate program today for the rebranded Apple Books. And with that, Apple is making some changes for authors and publishers that will make it easier to distribute on the platform.

How And When Do I Carve Out Time To Read Distraction Free?, by Shawn Blanc

Well, the way to make time for reading is the same way you make time for anything else. You pick a time (schedule it) and then you show up.

Notes

Hundreds Of Chinese iPhone Users Are Believed To Have Had Their Apple IDs Compromised, by Christopher Udemans, Technode

Over 700 Chinese iPhone users have inexplicably had money deducted from their Apple ID-bound payment channels, with the highest being RMB 10,000 ($1,440), according to local media.

Alibaba-owned Alipay, whose users were also affected, said that some Apple IDs were stolen, resulting in financial losses. The company reached out to Apple to find out the reasons for the theft, with Apple responding saying that it is addressing the situation.

Tim Cook Says Apple Will Donate To Hurricane Michael Recovery & Relief Efforts, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

In a series of tweets this evening, Tim Cook revealed that Apple will make a donation to hurricane relief efforts in the Gulf Coast region. Cook’s announcement comes as Hurricane Michael moves through the southeastern portion of the United States.

Amid Trade War And Spying Claims, Apple CEO Turns On The Charm In China, by Anna Fifield, Washington Post

“I’m incredibly impressed by the talent and passion of your students, teachers and staff,” the Apple chief executive wrote in a post in Chinese and English on Weibo, the local answer to Twitter.

His note gushed about being at a “truly a model school” that used a curriculum promoted by Apple. Local media reports noted that Cook seemed “in a very good mood” — perhaps with some surprise.

After all, these are very trying times to be an American company operating in China, let alone an American tech giant that counts on China for both contract manufacturing and sales.

The Battle For The Home, by Ben Thompson, Stratechery

There is one final question that overshadows all-of-this: while the home may be the current battleground in consumer technology, is it actually a distinct product area — a new epoch if you will? When it came to mobile, it didn’t matter who had won in PCs; Microsoft ended up being an also-ran.

The fortunes of Apple, in particular, depend on whether or not this is the case. If it is a truly new paradigm, than it is hard to see Apple succeeding. It has a very nice speaker, but everything else about its product is worse. On the other hand, the HomePod’s close connection to the iPhone and Apple’s overall ecosystem may be its saving grace: perhaps the smartphone is still what matters.

Why You Can’t Stop Looking At Other People’s Screens, by John Herrman, New York Times

You’re not a creep, though you are a thief. You’re also a human.

Other people’s screens are everywhere, once you start to notice them. They’re collectively most obvious at night, as they bob through the city, creating a new, hand-height layer to the ambient lights, or when held up at concerts, like lighters. During the day, other people’s screens hover around us as we wait in line for coffee, or as we sit and drink our coffee, or as we take our coffee on the bus or train.

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Will Apple invite antitrust investigation if it is bundling television programs with its devices?

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Thanks for reading.

The Scale-Up Edition Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Advanced Password Technology Is Making Your Phone Easier For Police To Search, by Sidney Fussell, The Atlantic

As the market adapts to this new convenience, Jackson said, people will, perhaps unwittingly, shift away from passcodes, invisibly changing the stakes of our risk calculus. Continuous authentication, like face recognition before, is a massive scaling-up of processing power, and a showcase for the potency of artificial intelligence. If only our privacy and legal protections could scale up at a similar pace.

It Looks Like Apple Fixed A Problem With 'Manipulation' On The Top Podcast Charts, by Kif Leswing, BusinessInsider

"To my eyes, which hasn't looked at the Apple Podcast platform in a good while, the charts felt distinctly… broken," Nicholas Quah wrote in his newsletter, Hot Pod, a sort of "Paris Review" for the mattress-ad set.

On Tuesday, however, the problem seemed to be fixed: Serial was back to No. 1, closely trailed by Joe Rogan's show and other brand-name podcasts.

Apple didn't respond to an emailed request for comment on Monday, while the charts were still showing an odd ranking, or on Tuesday, after the issue seemed to have been fixed.

Apple Has Acquired Danish Startup Spektral, Focused On Real-Time 'Green Screen' Technology, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

Spektral has developed a technology that can intelligently separate people and objects from their original backgrounds in photos and videos, and overlay a new background, resulting in what is called a "cutout." The solution is driven by deep neural networks and spectral graph theory.

Making It Right

CBC Video Claims Apple's Repair Policies Are Abusive, But 'Proof' Falls Far Short, by Mike Wuerthele and Malcolm Owen, AppleInsider

Rossmann is also very talented at his work, and is incredibly successful. We have sent people emailing us about a difficult or expensive repair to his shop to get a second opinion. But, the CBC's implication that Apple should source repair technicians at each store with that level of talent is ludicrous, and if Apple did it, it would remove any economy of scale that the company holds by using a depot for component-level repair.

Report Details Apple’s Struggles To Tackle iPhone Repair Fraud In China, Which Cost Apple Billions Of Dollars A Year, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

The Information is reporting today on Apple’s five-year struggle to tackle iPhone repair fraud. The scheme centres around crime gangs who were buying or stealing iPhones, removing valuable parts like CPUs and screens, and then claiming their devices were broken at Apple Stores and getting the Genius to replace them under warranty. The parts were then sold on.

[...]

Apple now requires all warranty iPhone replacements to be sent off to special repair centers that can do more rigorous testing. Apple even added security measures to its iPhone components, including invisible dyes on batteries, and coating iPhone CPUs in special waterproof sealants that are tuned to specific wavelengths.

The Cybersecurity World Is Debating WTF Is Going On With Bloomberg’s Chinese Microchip Stories, by Jason Koebler, Joseph Cox, and Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai, Motherboard

The prospect of this kind of attack is very real, but the fact that both Bloomberg and the companies named in the story are doubling down is confusing everyone, and a sign that we are probably not done hearing about this story anytime soon.

Stuff

Apple Launching Season 2 Of Carpool Karaoke For Free Through The TV App Starting October 12, by Peter Cao, 9to5Mac

Apple has today published a new video on its YouTube channel sharing that season two of Carpool Karaoke: The Series will be available via the TV app for free.

Notes

Why Is Xiaomi’s Fitness Tracker Detecting A Heartbeat From A Roll Of Toilet Paper?, by Xinmei Shen, Abacus

And just because it’s detecting heart rates on other objects doesn’t necessarily mean it’s inaccurate at detecting your own heart rate. The biomedical engineer pointed out to us that the software is designed for one purpose: To detect a heart rate from a human wrist. They were likely never designed to detect whether they were strapped to a human wrist or a roll of toilet paper, because, uh, who’d do that?

Alexa, Should We Trust You?, by Nicholas Pollock, The Atlantic

Ultimately, virtual assistants could ease us into the kind of conformity L’Engle warned of. They will be the products of an emotion-labeling process that can’t capture the protean complexity of human sentiment. Their “appropriate” responses will be canned, to one extent or another. We’ll be in constant dialogue with voices that traffic in simulacra of feelings, rather than real ones. Children growing up surrounded by virtual companions might be especially likely to adopt this mass-produced interiority, winding up with a diminished capacity to name and understand their own intuitions. Like the Echo of Greek myth, the Echo Generation could lose the power of a certain kind of speech.

[...]

If I have learned anything in my years of therapy, it is that the human psyche defaults to shallowness. We cling to our denials. It’s easier to pretend that deeper feelings don’t exist, because, of course, a lot of them are painful. What better way to avoid all that unpleasantness than to keep company with emotive entities unencumbered by actual emotions? But feelings don’t just go away like that. They have a way of making themselves known. I wonder how sweet my grandchildren’s dreams will be.

Myth Busting Banksy, by Jason Bailey, Artnome

I believe Banksy’s people (Pest Control) let Sotheby’s know something was up but saved the details for the great reveal. Score one for Banksy, though there are many other ways he could have protested if they wanted to make the point without benefiting financially from the protest.

Time will tell, but this appears to be a “lose, lose” scenario for Sotheby’s. If they were complicit in staging this, they have effectively turned one of the most prestigious auction houses into a bad episode of Storage Hunters. They lose credibility in an industry where credibility is all that matters. If they were not complicit, they look disorganized, unprofessional, and gullible, at best.

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Remember Apple once boasted having pro customers working inside the company so that Apple can make better computers?

Maybe it's time to buy a few game studios and house them inside Apple Park too, so that Apple can make a better Apple TV?

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Thanks for reading.

The No-Notch Edition Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Exclusive: iPad Pro Face ID Details, 4K HDR Video Over USB-C, AirPods-like Apple Pencil 2 Pairing, More, by Guilherme Rambo, 9to5Mac

The new iPad Pros will have an edge-to-edge display and will not feature a Home button, much like the iPhone. Unlike the iPhone, however, the iPad Pro will not have a notch.

[...]

The 2018 iPad Pro will include Face ID with the same image signal processor as the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max and iPhone XR. Further, we can confirm that Face ID on the new iPad Pro will in both portrait and landscape orientations, though it won’t work upside down.

Apple Releases Bug Fix Update To iOS 12, by John Voorhees, MacStories

One of the highest profile issues affected the iPhone XS, which sometimes failed to begin charging when connected to a Lightning cable. Other users reported that after the iOS 12 update, their iPhones would connect to WiFi networks at 2.4 GHz instead of 5.0 GHz even when both were available. Apple's release notes say both issues have been fixed.

Apple Watch Can Help Break iPhone Addiction Without Going Offline, by Zac Hall, 9to5Mac

Creating new routines and behaviors that don’t involve the iPhone can be key in reducing the compulsive habit of looking for entertainment on your phone. For me, the Apple Watch has played a major role in creating these experiences.

Stuff

Halide Introduces Smart RAW For iPhone XS, Joining A Host Of Other Improvements, by Ryan Christoffel, MacStories

While for most iPhone photographers, Smart HDR will be a major step forward that leads to improved images in most lighting situations, it poses some problems for those who prefer to shoot in RAW using an app like Halide. Because of camera changes designed to make Smart HDR possible, an iPhone XS RAW photo that eschews Smart HDR will often contain additional noise and be overexposed.

To address this problem, Halide's team in version 1.10 is introducing a feature called Smart RAW. Designed specifically for the iPhone XS and XS Max, Smart RAW is a way Halide has been custom-tuned to capture the best photos with the new cameras. I'm no expert photographer, but I'm excited to see what kind of images the new feature makes possible.

Darkroom 3.7 Brings New iPhone Support, Hashtag Sets, And Portrait HD, by Josh Ginter, The Sweet Setup

Darkroom 3.7 also introduces support for Apple’s new High-Definition depth-map. iOS 12 now generates new depth maps when it detects a face in Portrait Mode, which allows it to capture better detail around the edges of your subject’s face and provides better focus fall off for details like hair strands.

Review: Yoink Adds Support For Latest Mojave And iOS 12 Features, by John Voorhees, MacStories

Yoink is the app I use on my Mac every day as a temporary spot to park files, snippets of text, images, and URLs. By itself, Yoink for Mac has been a fantastic time-saver. The latest updates to Yoink for iOS and the Mac, however, have been transformative. There's more that can be done to support the cross-platform use of Yoink, but Handoff support, which makes it simple to move data between my Mac and iOS devices, and several other new features have already added a new dimension to the way I use the app and embedded it deeper into my day-to-day workflow than ever before.

Omnifocus 3 Task Manager Updated For Apple Watch Series 4, by Zac Hall, 9to5Mac

The latest update includes complication support for the new Infograph and Infograph Modular faces on Apple Watch Series 4.

Hands On: AmpliFi Instant Home Wi-Fi Mesh System, by Lester Victor Marks, AppleInsider

It has made a fast-to-setup Wi-Fi mesh network that is pretty robust and has a number of complex options built-in, but nicely hidden so as not to scare people who just want to get Wi-Fi working fast. It has some decent parental blocking, but not filtering, and makes it easy to set up a mesh network or extend an existing network with an additional mesh node.

Speeds weren't as fast as our main use router, but it really should fill most people's needs as an easy to set up and easy to manage system.

Microsoft Is Bringing Sticky Notes To iOS, by Killian Bell, Cult of Mac

Microsoft is bringing Sticky Notes to your iPhone and iPad. You will be able to use them inside OneNote to quickly jot down notes and reminders on the go, and you’ll be able to sync notes from Windows to iOS.

Minecraft For Apple TV Is Dead Because No One Plays It, by Killian Bell, Cult of Mac

The game’s removal is being blamed on a lack of players. Developer Mojang explains that it needs to “reallocate resources to the platforms that our players use the most.”

Say Good-bye To The Lightning To 30-Pin Adapter, by Ed Hardy, Cult of Mac

Back in the distant mists of 2012, everyone needed an adapter to plug their collection of 30-pin charging cables into Apple’s new Lightning port. Fast forward to today and this once crucial accessory is no longer necessary. To the point where it’s been dropped from the online Apple Store.

Notes

Google Plus Will Be Shut Down After User Information Was Exposed, by Daisuke Wakabayashi, New York Times

Google did not tell its users about the security issue when it was found in March because it didn’t appear that anyone had gained access to user information, and the company’s “Privacy & Data Protection Office” decided it was not legally required to report it, the search giant said in a blog post.

The decision to stay quiet, which raised eyebrows in the cybersecurity community, comes against the backdrop of relatively new rules in California and Europe that govern when a company must disclose a security episode.

Microsoft Welcomes Scrutiny Of Tech Industry That Has Roiled Its Competition This Year, Says CEO Nadella. Easy For Him To Say., by Elizabeth Dwoskin, Washington Post

Microsoft has dodged the bruising that its peers have taken this year. Executives from Facebook, Google, and Twitter have testified before Congress, pressed to explain their privacy practices and the exploitation of their platforms by Russian operatives. Apple and Amazon are the targets of attacks from President Trump.

But Microsoft, which runs the world’s largest corporate email program and one of the biggest cloud computing businesses, has not only escaped the negative attention of its industry peers, but has turned potential attacks on its systems into an asset.

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It's Tuesday evening in my part of the world while I am typing this... and I've moved through the entire day thinking it was Monday.

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Thanks for reading.

The Easier-On-My-Eyes Edition Monday, October 8, 2018

The Accessibility Of The iPhone XS Max, by Steven Aquino, TechCrunch

Forget OLED, forget pixel density — having a 6.5-inch display is super nice and easier on my eyes. More screen means more content, which means less eye strain and fatigue. Given these factors, it was no contest as to what I prefer. Although I have multiple disabilities, my visual impairment is arguably the most important and the one I should prioritize above all others. I did that, and I’m happier for it.

That New Apple Watch EKG Feature? There Are More Downs Than Ups, by Aaron E. Carroll, New York Times

This is one of the major problems with such a device. The people most in need of it, those who might benefit from tests and distance monitoring, are the least likely to get it. If we truly believed this was a medical test beneficial to the general population, insurance should pay for it. No one is suggesting that should happen.

In fact, many experts don’t think it makes sense to have universal cardiac monitoring of the general public. The United States Preventive Services Task Force has issued a “D” recommendation for screening asymptomatic adults at low risk. The group doesn’t think there’s enough evidence to recommend screening of adults at intermediate or high risk. It doesn’t even think there’s enough evidence to recommend screening adults 65 or older, who are at higher risk, for atrial fibrillation.

‘New’ Mac App Store Fails To Make A Good First Impression, by Nate Swanner, Dice

This all highlights the true issue with the Mac App Store: its library. Apple may be correct that it’s the biggest collection available via a single portal, but we’re not convinced it’s the best. When it comes to publishing apps to the Mac App Store, there’s just no true draw, and if Apple can’t even convince tech pros it has the best apps available for them to get work done, how can it say the Mac App Store is the best place to publish apps they’ve created?

Develop

Customers, Not Users, by K.Q. Dreger, Audacious Fox

By referring to your customers as customers, you’re respecting the fact that someone is paying you for your work. We don’t need to sell customer data—their hard-earned dollars keep us running. Also, a sentence like “15 minutes of downtime” hits harder when you know it’s a customer on the other end.

It’s Time To Become A Time Realist, by Jolie Kerr, New York Times

There are time realists and time optimists, according to Ms. Morgenstern. Time realists look at a task and break down the math of it. They’re conscious of how long things take, and they factor that in to their plans for the day.

Time optimists, by comparison, are just that: hopeful about things they would like to do. It leads to them to overstuff their days and become frustrated when their list of to-dos doesn’t get completed.

Be a time realist. Here’s how.

Notes

Apple Tells Congress It Found No Signs Of Hacking Attack, by Joseph Menn, Reuters

Apple Vice President for Information Security George Stathakopoulos wrote in a letter to the Senate and House commerce committees that the company had repeatedly investigated and found no evidence for the main points in a Bloomberg Businessweek article published on Thursday, including that chips inside servers sold to Apple by Super Micro Computer Inc allowed for backdoor transmissions to China.

“Apple’s proprietary security tools are continuously scanning for precisely this kind of outbound traffic, as it indicates the existence of malware or other malicious activity. Nothing was ever found,” he wrote in the letter provided to Reuters.

50 Years In Tech. Part 6: Different Apple Distribution Game, by Jean-Louis Gassée, Monday Note

In my first Cupertino visit, I chanced upon a demo by French hardware developers Mssrs. Chaillat and Chaligné. They had designed an Apple ][ extension card that bypassed the mediocre native NTSC and, instead, provided a clean RGB display using the French mandated Peritel connector that was available for a number of display devices, included the ubiquitous Trinitron monitor. I jumped on the opportunity and immediately gave their Le Chat Mauve (!) company a first order for 100 boards. This sort of impulse buy wasn’t exactly standard company policy, but the product looked very good, so did the numbers, and Apple management was otherwise preoccupied… a perfect illustration of the freedom and benign neglect that I found so compelling during my years at Apple — in France. We later repeated the experience with other products such as a Philips color monitor that was designed to fit the Apple ][ case.

This was a happy time when our distribution game worked well. By 1985, Apple France was the company’s largest business outside of the US.

Looking Down Under For A Back Door, by Sharon Bradford Franklin, Slate

Once enacted into law in Australia, these powerful new tools could help provide the United States with a back door to an encryption back door. The U.S. government cannot ask the Australian government to collect and hand over data that the United States is legally prohibited from collecting on its own, but some data may be shareable under the secret terms of the Five Eyes alliance. Beyond that, if Australia gains the tools to force providers to undermine the security of their products, the United States and other governments could exploit those same tools.

Tech Workers Now Want To Know: What Are We Building This For?, by Cade Metz, Kate Conger, New York Times

Across the technology industry, rank-and-file employees are demanding greater insight into how their companies are deploying the technology that they built. At Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Salesforce, as well as at tech start-ups, engineers and technologists are increasingly asking whether the products they are working on are being used for surveillance in places like China or for military projects in the United States or elsewhere.

That’s a change from the past, when Silicon Valley workers typically developed products with little questioning about the social costs. It is also a sign of how some tech companies, which grew by serving consumers and businesses, are expanding more into government work. And the shift coincides with concerns in Silicon Valley about the Trump administration’s policies and the larger role of technology in government.

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I wish Apple is still making Safari for Windows. No, not because Apple's respect of my privacy, although that will be good. No, my wish came from my hope that I don't have to remember two different web browser user interface... :-)

Now... where is that reload button...

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Just finished watching the entire run of How I Met Your Mother, and I have to agree with a lot of the negative comments out there regarding the ending. It definitely seemed rushed and rough. But, more importantly, despite the structure and all the fore-shadows, the ending didn't seem earned.

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Thanks for reading.

The Daylight-Savings Edition Sunday, October 7, 2018

Some Apple Watch Series 4 Models Repeatedly Crashing And Rebooting Due To Daylight Savings Time Bug, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

A bug with the complications on the new Infograph faces in Apple Watch Series 4 is causing some very unhappy Watch owners today. Users in Australia have just experienced the daylight savings time change and are finding their Watches are now stuck in reboot loops.

Specifically, it seems the large Activity complication on the Infograph Modular face is not handling the loss of an hour elegantly, and instead causing the entire device to crash and reboot.

Apple’s Secret Repair Kill Switch Hasn’t Been Activated—yet, by Adam O'Camb, iFixIt

This service document certainly paints a grim picture, but ever the optimists, we headed down to our friendly local Apple Store and bought a brand new 2018 13” MacBook Pro Touch Bar unit. Then we disassembled it and traded displays with our teardown unit from this summer. To our surprise, the displays and MacBooks functioned normally in every combination we tried. We also updated to Mojave and swapped logic boards with the same results.

That’s a promising sign, and it means the sky isn’t quite falling—yet. But as we’ve learned, nothing is certain. Apple has a string of software-blocked repair scandals under its belt, including the device-disabling Error 53, a functionality-throttling Batterygate, and repeated feature-disabling incidents. It’s very possible that a future software update could render these “incomplete repairs” inoperative, and who knows when, or if, a fix will follow.

8 Days Without Push Notification Here’s What Happened, by Challa, Medium

Nothing is wrong with pictures of your food or your children, but following too many accounts with such activity can turn your phone’s push notifications into a waste of time and nerves. Use your apps in a way that receiving notifications can add more value to your day and is a good use of your time. Now when checking those notifications you don’t feel guilty. Instead, you feel productive, encouraged, and enlighted.

Stuff

I Take Back Every Bad Thing I Ever Said About The Apple Watch, by Matthew DeBord, Business Insider

I've owned the Apple Watch Series 3 for roughly nine months at this point, and although I haven't really even scratched the surface of its many capabilities (I just discovered nightstand mode, which lets you use your watch like a bedside clock, a few weeks ago), I'm ready to admit that everything I formerly thought about the device was wrong.

What’s The Best Calendar App For macOS?, by Bradley Chambers, 9to5Mac

Overall, if I had to pick just one, BusyCal feels right at home on macOS while adding some much-needed features to the calendar experience.

Notes

It’s Hypocritical For Apple To Promote Privacy While Not Offering A G-Suite Alternative, by Bradley Chambers, 9to5Mac

Apple shouldn’t promote their privacy stance to schools when they aren’t offering a compelling service that schools can sign up for that replaces G-Suite. They’ve built solutions for schools that are siloed off from most of the student information systems without making an identity management system. They’ve created solutions (like Classkit, Apple Business Manager, and Apple School Manager) that don’t 100% replace anything else a school or business has. They’ve simply added more overhead to deploying iPad. Apple proclaiming their stance on privacy while also accepting a 9 billion payment from Google just makes them look hypocritical. If Apple is really concerned about privacy, they need to be building tools to replace what Google offers enterprise and education customers.

Legal Expert Says "Police" Shortcut Video For iPhones Usable In The Court, by Gabrielle Hays, WBIR

Bosch said the legality of the recording varies by state but here in Tennessee, it is legal to record exchanges with police.

"As long as the recording doesn't interfere with anyone's safety, you can record," he said.

That also extends inside of the courtroom if needed.

DHS Says No Reason To Doubt Firms' China Hack Denials, by David Brunnstrom, Reuters

“The Department of Homeland Security is aware of the media reports of a technology supply chain compromise,” DHS said in a statement.

“Like our partners in the UK, the National Cyber Security Centre, at this time we have no reason to doubt the statements from the companies named in the story,” it said.

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Just finished reading Kate Atkinson's Transscription. Highly recommended.

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Thanks for reading.

The Build-Something-Better Edition Saturday, October 6, 2018

The Untold Story Of Stripe, The Secretive $20bn Startup Driving Apple, Amazon And Facebook, by Stephen Armstrong, Wired

For years, the growth in e-commerce outpaced the underlying payments technology: companies wanting to set up shop had to go to a bank, which processes payments, and setup a gateway to connect the two. This takes weeks, lots of people, and fee after fee. Much of the software in place was decades old and written by banks, credit-card companies and financial middlemen.

Paypal – designed to simplify payments – actually made this worse. The company infuriated startups with its restrictions – once turnover hit a certain level, Paypal automatically put the business on a 21 to 60 day rolling reserve, meaning that up to 30 per cent of a company’s revenue could be locked up for up to two months. Developers had to choose between this and complex legacy systems built by banks.

“For us it was quite visceral: these products are not serving the needs of the customers, so let’s build something better,” John Collison argues. “In old-fashioned legacy companies it’s the CFO choosing the payments system. They think all systems are alike, so they just sort the bids from suppliers. But if you’re a developer building the next Kickstarter, or the next Lyft, and you have a two-person team, both of you writing relatively complex code and solving complex infrastructural problem, you need a simple payments API that – once installed – doesn’t keep changing.”

Google Calls Apple Out For Sneaky iOS And Safari Security Advisories, by Jeremy Horwitz, VentureBeat

Between security-compromised OS releases and a fair number of Safari issues, bugs and omissions aren’t hard to spot in Apple’s codebases, and some oddly seem to pop up again in later releases after being “fixed.” Better pre-release debugging and greater transparency would go a long way towards addressing issues that have clouded the company this year.

The HomePod’s Growing Pains, by Dan Moren, Macworld

Apple struggled to define the Watch in its first few iterations. “What can it do? What can’t it do?” seemed to be the party line, but in recent years the company’s focused on limited areas—fitness, health, and notifications—as the primary uses of its smartwatch.

Seemingly intending not to make the same mistake twice, Apple came out of the gate with a relatively narrow feature set for the HomePod, focusing on music playback and, to a lesser degree, smart home integration. If you’re not an Apple Music user and haven’t delved into smart home tech, there’s seemingly not much for you in the HomePod. (Not to mention a focus on features that require multiple HomePods—multiroom audio and stereo pairing—is an even harder sell when when your product command a premium.)

Done Deal

Decoding The Chinese Super Micro Super Spy-chip Super-scandal: What Do We Know – And Who Is Telling The Truth?, by Kieren McCarthy, The Register

Plus of course the impact has already been felt.

Infosec companies are already advising companies what to do, talking about the situation as if it is already a done deal. "First of all, you are unlikely going to spot the additional component on your own. Amazon apparently was able to do so after comparing drawings of a motherboard to what was actually built," notes one post matter-of-factly, adding: "Should you stop buying Supermicro motherboards? The real question is: What are the alternatives?"

[...]

Of course the bigger question is not really about tiny secret spy chips but overall security. There is no reason why a similar ability to hack into motherboards couldn't be included in chips expected to be on the circuit boards – and so be physically undetectable. And, of course, the majority of the world's chips are manufactured, you guessed it, in China and Taiwan. You know: the country that makes everyone's iPhones.

Apple Insiders Say Nobody Internally Knows What’s Going On With Bloomberg’s China Hack Story, by Charlie Warzel and John Paczkowski, BuzzFeed

Reached by BuzzFeed News multiple Apple sources — three of them very senior executives who work on the security and legal teams — said that they are at a loss as to how to explain the allegations. These people described a massive, granular, and siloed investigation into not just the claims made in the story, but into unrelated incidents that might have inspired them.

“We tried to figure out if there was anything, anything, that transpired that's even remotely close to this,” a senior Apple security executive told BuzzFeed News. “We found nothing.”

Facebook, Apple Confirm They Were Targets Of Supermicro Malware Attack, by Rachel Kraus, Mashable

Apple says it discovered malware on a single server in 2016. This does not conflict with its denial of hardware attack; in fact, it bolsters it, because Apple cites the malware as the reason it dropped Supermicro as a vendor in its official statement — not the presence of malicious microchips in servers.

Stuff

Daily Dictionary’s New Watch App Showcases The Latest watchOS Capabilities, by Ryan Christoffel, MacStories

Daily Dictionary's Watch app is noteworthy for employing two capabilities recently added to the Watch: complications for the Series 4's Infograph faces, and a custom UI for notifications.

Develop

The Very Definition Of Overwhelm, by Shawn Blanc

When you’re feeling buried under a mass of so much stuff, it can feel as if you’re responsible for everything in the whole world.

But it can be liberating when you step back and get clarity about the things that ONLY YOU can do.

Terminal Security Profiles, by Daniel Jalkut, Bitsplitting

I don’t completely understand the limitations there, but I suspect that because commands in the Terminal are running as subprocesses of Terminal, there is some technical challenge to making the permissions apply at such a fine-grained level.

As an alternative, I wonder if Apple could introduce some kind of “Security Profiles” feature for Terminal so that individual windows within the app could be run when different permissions? This could build on Terminal’s existing support for “Profiles” which already support varying Terminal settings dramatically on a per-window basis.

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I can't wait to see what else from Apple will be updated in October.

Personally, I am hoping for cheaper AirPods. (There will be higher-end AirPods, probably.) Afterall, all signs point to an Apple moving to a wireless future, and Apple will want to replace the cheap EarPods bundled with iPhones with a cheap set of wireless AirPods, right? Gotta start learning how to make cheap wireless AirPods first.

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Thanks for reading.

The Life-Saving Edition Friday, October 5, 2018

I’m A Paramedic: Here’s How The Apple Watch Series 4 Will And Won’t Save Lives, by Rich Mogull, TidBITS

Thanks to its health monitoring features, the new Apple Watch Series 4 will save lives, probably within weeks of launch. I’ve been on real calls that may have had happier endings had the person been wearing one. I don’t know if wearing one would have saved that first victim—probably not—but Apple should get full credit for building a mainstream device that will save some lives.

That doesn’t mean it’s perfect. The Apple Watch Series 4 is far from a comprehensive life-saving device. It suffers from some serious limitations and faces some very real obstacles, especially cost and battery life, but in the end, some people will live a little longer because they wear one. Over time these features will become more reliable, more affordable, and more comprehensive, especially as Apple’s competitors catch up.

The Apple Watch Series 4’s three key health-related features are fall detection, atrial fibrillation detection, and a simplified electrocardiogram (ECG). Here’s how they might help, the limitations they face, and where Apple might go next.

SMS Text Message Login Codes Autofill In iOS 12 And Mojave, But Remain Insecure, by Glenn Fleishman, TidBITS

Many Web sites and apps now offer two-factor authentication (2FA), which requires you to enter a short numeric code—the so-called second factor—in addition to your username and password. These temporary codes are either sent to you via text message or are generated by an authentication app. In iOS 12 and macOS 10.14 Mojave, Apple has streamlined entering such codes when sent via an SMS text message, reducing multiple steps and keyboard entry to a single tap or click.

I explain just below how this new feature works, but I also want to raise a caution flag. SMS is no longer a reliable way to send a second factor because it’s too easy for even small-time attackers to intercept those messages. It’s time for Web sites that use 2FA to move away from SMS.

iMac Pro And 2018 MacBook Pro Systems Must Pass Apple Diagnostics To Function After Certain Repairs, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

For the 2018 MacBook Pro, the requirement applies to repairs involving the display, logic board, Touch ID, and top case, which includes the keyboard, battery, trackpad, and speakers, according to the document. For the iMac Pro, the requirement only applies to logic board and flash storage repairs.

If any of these parts are repaired in an iMac Pro or 2018 MacBook Pro, and the Apple diagnostics are not run, this will result in an inoperative system and an incomplete repair, according to Apple's directive to service providers.

Shaky Ground

What Businessweek Got Wrong About Apple, by Apple

Over the course of the past year, Bloomberg has contacted us multiple times with claims, sometimes vague and sometimes elaborate, of an alleged security incident at Apple. Each time, we have conducted rigorous internal investigations based on their inquiries and each time we have found absolutely no evidence to support any of them. We have repeatedly and consistently offered factual responses, on the record, refuting virtually every aspect of Bloomberg’s story relating to Apple.

On this we can be very clear: Apple has never found malicious chips, “hardware manipulations” or vulnerabilities purposely planted in any server. Apple never had any contact with the FBI or any other agency about such an incident. We are not aware of any investigation by the FBI, nor are our contacts in law enforcement.

UK Cyber Security Agency Backs Apple, Amazon China Hack Denials, by Guy Faulconbridge and Mark Hosenball, Reuters

Britain’s national cyber security agency said on Friday it had no reason to doubt the assessments made by Apple and Amazon that refuted a Bloomberg story that their systems contained malicious computer chips inserted by Chinese intelligence.

Bloomberg’s Spy Chip Story Reveals The Murky World Of National Security Reporting, by Zack Whittaker, TechCrunch

Just as The New York Times does — even as recently as its coverage of President Trump’s tax affairs, Bloomberg missed an opportunity to be more open and transparent in how it came to the conclusions that it did. Journalism isn’t proprietary. It should be open to as many people as possible. If you’re not transparent in how you report things, you lose readers’ trust.

That’s where the story rests on shaky ground. Admittedly, as detailed and as well-sourced as the story is, you — and I — have to put a lot of trust and faith in Bloomberg and its reporters.

Stuff

Some 2018 MacBook Pro Owners Are Running Into Errors Installing macOS Mojave, by Roger Fingas, AppleInsider

Users are encountering messages like "An error occurred installing macOS," or cryptic references to bridgeOS, the modified version of watchOS used to handle Mac subsystems like the Touch Bar. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, though some people have managed to get around the issue by resetting their Mac's system management controller, or SMC. Even then, users may encounter glitches and strange errors.

Develop

Apple Running Free Coding Sessions Across European Stores For EU Code Week, by Roger Fingas, AppleInsider

The company will offer "at least one free session every day" at each store. Some workshops will include "How To: Get Started with Coding," "Teacher Tuesdays: App Design & Coding Basics," and "Kids Hour: Sphero Maze Challenge."

Notes

The Spectacular Louvre Apple Store Is Closing, by Luke Dormehl, Cult of Mac

The Apple Store, which has been open for nine years, is located beneath the pyramid in front of the world-famous, iconic Louvre museum. Don’t fret, however: If you live in the area, Apple is about to open new, better retail store in the area.

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I've installed Mojave on my computer for about a week already, and I just realized I haven't checked out any of the iOS-style apps yet. I think I shall go check how's my stocks are doing now.

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Thanks for reading.

The Deeply-Disappointed Edition Thursday, October 4, 2018

Chinese Spy Chips Are Said To Be Found In Hardware Used By Apple, Amazon; Apple Denies The Bloomberg Report, by Kate Fazzini, CNBC

Apple, AWS and Super Micro have disputed the report, with Apple saying it did not find the chips as asserted by BusinessWeek — which cites several anonymous government and corporate sources. Super Micro reportedly said it did not introduce the chips during the manufacturing process, as alleged. Apple pointed to denials already published by Bloomberg, and AWS did not immediately respond to follow-up requests for comment by CNBC.

Apple has issued strong denials of the report, stating: "We are deeply disappointed that in their dealings with us, Bloomberg's reporters have not been open to the possibility that they or their sources might be wrong or misinformed. Our best guess is that they are confusing their story with a previously reported 2016 incident in which we discovered an infected driver on a single Super Micro server in one of our labs. That one-time event was determined to be accidental and not a targeted attack against Apple."

The Big Hack: How China Used A Tiny Chip To Infiltrate U.S. Companies, by Jordan Robertson, Michael Riley, Bloomberg

One official says investigators found that it eventually affected almost 30 companies, including a major bank, government contractors, and the world’s most valuable company, Apple Inc. Apple was an important Supermicro customer and had planned to order more than 30,000 of its servers in two years for a new global network of data centers. Three senior insiders at Apple say that in the summer of 2015, it, too, found malicious chips on Supermicro motherboards. Apple severed ties with Supermicro the following year, for what it described as unrelated reasons.

[...]

The companies’ denials are countered by six current and former senior national security officials, who—in conversations that began during the Obama administration and continued under the Trump administration—detailed the discovery of the chips and the government’s investigation. One of those officials and two people inside AWS provided extensive information on how the attack played out at Elemental and Amazon; the official and one of the insiders also described Amazon’s cooperation with the government investigation. In addition to the three Apple insiders, four of the six U.S. officials confirmed that Apple was a victim.

In all, 17 people confirmed the manipulation of Supermicro’s hardware and other elements of the attacks. The sources were granted anonymity because of the sensitive, and in some cases classified, nature of the information. One government official says China’s goal was long-term access to high-value corporate secrets and sensitive government networks. No consumer data is known to have been stolen.

Problems with Latest Generations

Bluetooth In iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max Reportedly Causing Audio Connectivity Issues, by Malcolm Owens, AppleInsider

Posts on the Apple support forums reveal problems with pairing Bluetooth devices to the latest generation of iPhones. According to the posts, the issues largely relate to connecting their iPhone XS or iPhone XS Max to their vehicle's infotainment unit, but it also apparently affects some other Bluetooth-equipped devices.

The majority of cases also appear to indicate only the new models are affected by the issue, with the iPhone X, iPhone 8, and older devices apparently working normally in the situations. It is also not limited to a specific car manufacturer, as vehicles by Kia, Audi, Subaru, and Mercedes all appear in references to the head unit connectivity failures.

Why Are Apple Watch Faces Such A Mess?, by Jason Snell, Macworld

Since the day the Apple Watch was announced, developers have clamored for the opportunity to design custom watch faces. That may never happen—there are plenty of reasons for Apple to consider the face designs sacred and something the company must control itself. But if Apple insists on having a monopoly on face design, it’s incumbent on the company to be a better steward of those faces.

Every face needs to be modernized and support the new complication styles, at least on Series 4. Key system apps and features like Messages and cellular status should be available on all faces. Every face design should be more flexible.

Stuff

Apple Drops BeatsX Pricing, Cuts Several Color Options, by Roger Fingas, AppleInsider

The headphones are now available in just two colors from Apple, silver and black. Blue, gold, space gray, and even white have been eliminated, as has the black and red "Defiant" option.

iTunes That Can Manage Apps Updated, But Incompatible With macOS Mojave, by Roger Fingas, AppleInsider

Apple warns that users —mostly enterprise customers —who download this edition of iTunes will have to update manually, and won't get technical support. The company also specifically notes that this update is incompatible with the new operating system, shedding doubt that it will ever be updated for macOS Mojave.

Examining Dark Mode Implementations Of Mac Productivity Apps, by John Voorhees, MacStories

In my Mojave review, I collected some representative examples of apps that were ready with Dark Mode implementations when the OS update shipped. Since then, many other apps have been updated. I’ve spent time with many of them and have begun to see some design and implementation patterns among the early adopters that are interesting to compare to similar system apps by Apple. It’s also useful to consider how these variations will impact the experiences users have with these apps.

In the sea of dark gray floating before my eyes, I’ve identified a handful of app categories that illustrate some of the subtle differences between the apps I’ve tried. There are many other good examples, but email clients, task managers, text editors, and note-taking apps are categories that best illustrate how Dark Mode is being used by the first wave of developers to put the feature into practice.

Adobe Releases Photoshop And Premiere Elements 2019 With Emphasis On Automation, by AppleInsider

Along with the usual slate of new features, this year's updates focus on automating what would otherwise be complex workflows with the help of Adobe Sensei artificial intelligence. Like past Elements releases, Adobe is putting an emphasis on ease-of-use by wrapping powerful software features in an approachable user interface.

Philips Hue App Adds Siri Shortcuts Support, by John Voorhees, MacStories

Users can pick from pre-built scenes created by designers to evoke a particular mood or create their own using photos or a color picker to control the color and brightness of a group of Hue bulbs.

With the new Siri Shortcut support, those scenes can be triggered using Siri and incorporated as actions in custom shortcuts using Apple’s Shortcuts app.

Review: Civilization VI On The iPhone Is The Full Experience, by Samuel Axon, Ars Technica

If you're willing to spend, you'll get the full, real, desktop Civilization VI experience in your pocket.

Notes

Malware Has A New Way To Hide On Your Mac, by Lily Hay Newman, Wired

These code signature checks are a vital security step. But Reed, who is the director of Mac and mobile platforms at the security firm Malwarebytes, has noticed that once a program passes a code signature check and gets installed, macOS never rechecks its signature. This means that attackers who buy a legitimate certificate from Apple—or steal one—can potentially trick Mac users into installing their malware. And if it manages to infect other legitimate programs after being downloaded, it could evade detection indefinitely.

Apple’s Tim Cook Is Sending A Privacy Bat-signal To US Lawmakers, by Natasha Lomas, TechCrunch

In a few weeks’ time Cook will literally stand alongside the architects of Europe’s GDPR, talking up privacy and ethics at the center of a Union whose founding charter grants its citizens data protection as a fundamental right.

The signalling is clear.

While Apple might so far have fallen just shy of calling for a full copypaste of GDPR-level data protections into US law, there’s perhaps an element of strategic caution at play that’s moderating its plain-text political messaging.

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I am being forced to change passwords at work every three months. I do change my passwords every time I see that pop-up reminder immediately. And I choose my new passwords mostly based on how I am feeling on that exact moment I see that pop-up. Which means that, given I have to key in that password multiple times per day at work, my mood is affected for the next three months based on how I was feeling on that particular password-changing day.

I haven't had a happy password for a while.

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Thanks for reading.

The Some-Level-of-Government-Regulation Edition Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Tim Cook Says Some Tech Regulation Likely Needs To Happen, by Shara Tibken, CNET

"I see privacy as one of the most important issues of the 21st century," Cook said during an episode of Vice News Tonight that aired Tuesday on HBO. "I'm not a pro-regulation kind of person, I believe in the free market deeply [but] when the free market doesn't produce a result that's great for society, you have to ask yourself: what do we need to do? And I think some level of government regulation is important to come out of that."

But getting members of Congress to understand technology and privacy enough to regulate them is "a challenge," he said.

Tim Cook Says Apple Didn’t Coordinate Alex Jones Ban With Other Tech Companies, by Nick Statt, The Verge

“We don’t take a political stand. We’re not leaning one way or the other. You can tell that from the stuff on the App Store and in podcasts, etc. You’ll see everything from very conservative to very liberal. And that’s the way I think it should be,” Cook said. On the topic of a potential coordinated attempt, Cook said, “I’ve never even had a conversation about [Alex Jones] with any other tech companies. We make our decisions independently and I think that’s important. Honestly. I’ve had no conversation. And to my knowledge, no one at Apple has.”

Most Interesting Product

Apple Watch Series 4 Review: The Invisible Redesign, by Jason Snell, Six Colors

I’ve worn an Apple Watch pretty much every single day since I took delivery of the very first model on day one. I’ve enjoyed using it, but I’ve also enjoyed watching at how the platform has just kept getting better. For the first few years, most of the improvements were on the software side, along with incremental hardware improvements inside the same, familiar exterior.

This year is different. That exterior is familiar, but it’s not the same. It’s new, and surprising, and paints with a much larger canvas. The iPhone is Apple’s revenue driver, the iPad Pro is my ultimate mobile-productivity tool, and my heart will always belong to the Mac—but for my money, the Apple Watch is currently the most interesting product the company makes.

The Apple Watch Faces Its Toughest Challenge Yet: Grandma, by Geoffrey A. Fowler, Washington Post

While the Watch will continue to grow as a medical device, it may be more useful now to think of it as a wellness aid. It offers a three-part view of your daily activity, displayed in rings: your overall activity level, how much time you’ve raised your heart rate in exercise and how often you stand rather than sit. In my life, this holistic view has been more useful than counting steps like other trackers.

Apple Used To Know Exactly What People Wanted — Then It Made A Watch, by John Herrman, New York Times

For now, this impressive facility for collecting and organizing information about you is just that — it’s a great deal of data with not many places to go. This is sensitive information, of course, and Apple’s relative commitment to privacy — at least compared with advertising-centric companies like Google and Facebook — might be enough to get new users strapped in and recording.

As Apple continues its institutional struggle to conceive of what the Apple Watch is, or could be, in the imaginations of its customers, it’s worth remembering that Apple’s stated commitment to privacy is, in practice, narrow. The competitors that Cook likes to prod about their data-exploitative business models have a necessary and complicit partner in his company, having found many of their customers though Apple’s devices and software.

Two Tales of the Future

National Theater In London Offers Glasses With Live Subtitles, by Alex Marshall, New York Times

If you have hearing difficulties, the idea of spending hours watching a play may not be that attractive given the risk of key dialogue slipping from your grasp. The National Theater in London is hoping to change that.

On Wednesday, the theater introduced “smart caption glasses” that display dialogue on the lenses as actors speak. The glasses can be used without charge for the play “War Horse” and for the musical “Hadestown,” and they will be available for all of the theater’s 2019 season.

Wouldn’t It Be Better If Self-checkout Just Died?, by Kaitlyn Tiffany, Vox

Dystopian possibilities aside, what really stings about self-checkout is that right now it is not even automation, which has been so obviously deleterious to the job market but has also been, for the most part, successfully framed as progress. Self-checkout is sold to us as a high-tech upgrade, but that’s just adding insult to injury — eliminating jobs by making people who have jobs do more jobs. When Walmart installs a new self-checkout, it’s not “automating” the process of checkout; it’s simply turning the register around, giving it a friendlier interface, and having the shopper do the work themselves.

Stuff

Apple Store App Now Works With Siri Shortcuts — Including Pre-ordering iPhone XR, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Essentially, while getting pre-approved for your upgrade via the iPhone Upgrade Program, you’ll see a new “Add to Siri” button. Simply tap this and record your own voice command, such as “pre-order my iPhone,” and you’ll be able to pre-order the iPhone XR purely using Siri.

Apps We Love: Snapthread, by Josh Ginter, The Sweet Setup

For the times I want to share a Live Photo with a non-iPhone toting friend, Snapthread quickly converts Live Photos into a three-second video. You can string together multiple videos and Live Photos, add an introduction slide to the video, add a quick soundtrack to really build out the Live Photo conversion, and export extremely quickly.

Free NightOwl App Switches On macOS Mojave Dark Mode At Sundown, by Charlie Sorrel, Cult of Mac

NightOwl is two things. One is a menu bar utility that lets you quickly switch between dark and light themes. The other is a scheduler that lets you automatically switch.

ATEN Technology Launches Mac Compatible USB-C Multiport Dock, by Dennis Sellers, Apple World Today

The docking station provides extra expansion capabilities by allowing up to 10 extra devices to be added, including HDMI, DisplayPort, VGA, USB 3.1 Gen 1, SD/MMC/MicroSD, ethernet and audio connectivity – all via one cable.

Three Handy Apps For The Macbook Pro Touch Bar, by Anthony Caruana, Lifehacker

But what if you want more than just what's available through the App Store? It turns out, there are lots of games and utilities that use the Touch Bar. Here are three of my favourites.

Develop

In Praise Of Mediocrity, by Tim Wu, New York Times

But there’s a deeper reason, I’ve come to think, that so many people don’t have hobbies: We’re afraid of being bad at them. Or rather, we are intimidated by the expectation — itself a hallmark of our intensely public, performative age — that we must actually be skilled at what we do in our free time. Our “hobbies,” if that’s even the word for them anymore, have become too serious, too demanding, too much an occasion to become anxious about whether you are really the person you claim to be.

Notes

Apple Opposing Australian Encryption Law Which Could Set A Precedent For The USA, by Ben Lovejoy, 9to5Mac

Apple is one of four tech giants to come out in opposition to a proposed new law in Australia which would force companies to provide access to encrypted user data. The fear is that, if the law is allowed to pass, it could set a precedent which other countries are likely to follow – with the USA high up the list of likely candidates to effectively ban strong encryption.

Apple Donates $1M To Indonesia Earthquake And Tsunami Relief Efforts, by Malcolm Owen, AppleInsider

Apple CEO Tim Cook has announced Apple is donating $1 million to help relief efforts taking place in Indonesia after the recent earthquake and tsunami, in a continuation of the iPhone producer's charitable efforts following major disasters over the years.

Apple’s Bagel Emoji Is About To Upset A Lot Of New Yorkers, by Nikita Richardson, New York Magazine

This is an emoji that New Yorkers and bagel lovers around the world have been expecting for a long time and the disappointment is truly overwhelming. Take a look at this clearly machine-cut monstrosity with its stiff and bready interior, which couldn’t possibly be redeemed by a few minutes in a toaster.

Here Come Wi-Fi 4, 5 And 6 In Plan To Simplify 802.11 Networking Names, by Stephen Shankland, CNET

Quick quiz: which is better, 802.11n or 802.11ac?

The answer, if you're familiar with Wi-Fi standards coming from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, is 802.11ac -- and by the way, the upcoming 802.11ax is better than both.

But in an effort to make the wireless networking terms more useful and less like alphanumeric gibberish, the Wi-Fi Alliance trade group has some new names it wants for those technologies: Wi-Fi 4, Wi-Fi 5, and Wi-Fi 6.

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Outlook (on the web) likes to reshuffle all my Inbox rules, it seems, every other month just to make my life more fun.

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Thanks for reading.

The Human-Interaction Edition Tuesday, October 2, 2018

‘They’re Attentive’: Inside Apple’s Pitch To Wary Publishers, by Lucia Moses, Digiday

But publishers, burned by Facebook, are now looking with no small amount of optimism to Apple, which has quietly wooed publishers over the past year with a small team of its own Apple News editorial staff, huddling with publisher editorial teams in publisher offices. The Apple News team is headed by Lauren Kern, who left a prominent editor job at New York magazine for Apple last year and whose new title, editor in chief, is straight from the news industry. Kern’s staffers invite publications to pitch stories to be featured in Apple News. The implicit message: We’re just like you, we get it.

“They’re attentive, and you have the sense they’re human beings that are trying to nurture a relationship of some kind,” said a publishing exec who has regular contact with Apple News editorial staff. CNN Digital has daily contact with the Apple News edit team, and it enables CNN to reach an audience for political news and non-political news alike, even though the monetization lags, said S. Mitra Kalita, svp of news, opinion and programming at CNN Digital. “This is very much a human interaction,” she said.

Apple Adds Student ID Cards Into Apple Wallet To Access Buildings, Buy Food And More, by Ingrid Lunden, TechCrunch

Today, Apple started to integrate university student ID cards — used to access buildings, pay for food or books, and any other transactional campus services — into Wallet, its contactless payment system on the Apple Watch and the iPhone. The first schools to come online are Duke University, the University of Alabama and the University of Oklahoma.

[...]

“iPhone and Apple Watch have brought us into a new era of mobility, helping to transform everyday experiences,” said Jennifer Bailey, Apple’s vice president of Internet Services, said in a statement. “When we launched Apple Pay, we embarked on a goal to replace the physical wallet. By adding transit, loyalty cards and contactless ticketing we have expanded the capabilities of Wallet beyond payments, and we’re now thrilled to be working with campuses on adding contactless student ID cards to bring customers even more easy, convenient and secure experiences.”

Meet Your iPhone’s Grandparent, by Duncan Geere, How We Get To Next

If you spend any time around technology, and probably even if you don’t, then you’ll probably also have heard some variation on the saying “There’s more computing power in your pocket than was used to send humans to the moon.” It’s true, of course. The chip in the recently announced iPhone XS runs about five million times faster than the Apollo Guidance Computer. But the axiom has been true for rather longer than most people realize.

The other day, I stumbled across a wonderful Twitter thread that talked about the “Great Calculator Race” of the 1970s and detailed some of the wonderful, wacky designs manufacturers unleashed upon the world. The first computing device that would actually fit in your pocket (a man’s pocket, that is) was the Cal Tech, a 1967 prototype created by Texas Instruments, although like many of the earliest pocket calculators it still required an AC power lead to work rather than batteries. It was black, boxy, and incredibly sleek compared to expensive, desk-mounted calculators like the chunky Casio Model 14-A.

Welcome Refinements

iPhone XS And XS Max Review: Big Screens, Big Performance, Big Lenses, Big Prices, by Samuel Axon, Ars Technica

The iPhone XS is the smallest year-over-year update the iPhone has seen to date. In most ways that matter, it is the iPhone X. But consumers who held off on the first generation of a new design have been rewarded with small but welcome refinements in performance, the camera, Face ID, durability, wireless data performance, battery life, and charging speeds.

Apple Highlights Best 'Shot On iPhone XS' Photos, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

The photos were collected from Instagram and Twitter users who included the hashtag "#ShotoniPhone" alongside their photos, with images showcasing Portrait Mode, Smart HDR, more advanced bokeh, Depth Control, and other features introduced with the iPhone XS and XS Max.

Apple's Greg Joswiak Argues Most People Will Keep iOS 12's Screen Time On, Change Behavior, by Roger Fingas, AppleInsider

"For me, I couldn't imagine leaving my home in the morning without my iPhone. I think like most people," Joswiak commented. "I still found it fascinating to be able to open up the Screen Time app and see where I was spending my time... That information was useful for me to regulate myself to the behavior that I want. I didn't need limits, I just needed that information."

Stuff

Apple And The Big Draw Collaborate To Bring Special Art Sessions To Stores In Seven Cities Across The World, by Michael Steeber, 9to5Mac

Beginning today, eight flagship Apple stores in seven select cities across the world will host notable Today at Apple sessions throughout the entire month of October. The sessions are being hosted in collaboration with The Big Draw Festival, a global celebration of drawing.

Apple Teams With Jimmy Kimmel To Showcase Emerging Artists, by Buster Hein, Cult of Mac

The two sides revealed today that the second iteration of Apple Music’s “Up Next” program will let bands and other musical acts perform on Kimmel’s stage.

A Good Place: An Entire Free Library On Your Phone, by Kate Dries, The Outline

SimplyeE is a modern incarnation of my experience at a physical library, a comfortable place I used to wander in to kill time after school before swim team practice started. Sometimes it means diving deep into the world of YA lit, as I am right now. Sometimes it’s feeling the satisfaction of reading something I’ve known I was supposed to for awhile but couldn’t drag myself to.

Develop

The Coders Programming Themselves Out Of A Job, by Brian Merchant, The Atlantic

The gains from automation have generally been enjoyed not by those who operate the machines, but those who own them. According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, the share of income going to wages in OECD nations has been decreasing since the 1970s, while the share being funneled into capital—into things like cash reserves and machinery—has been increasing. It can seem that some of the only workers who have realized any scrap of that rusty old promise of automation are the ones who’ve carved out the code to claim it for themselves.

Programmers, of course, have been writing code that automates their work for decades. Programming generally involves utilizing tools that add automation at different levels, from code formatting to merging to different codebases—most just don’t take it to the extreme of fully or nearly fully automating their job. I chatted, via direct message on Reddit and email, with around a dozen programmers who said they had. These self-automators had tackled inventory management, report writing, graphics rendering, database administration, and data entry of every kind. One automated his wife’s entire workload, too. Most asked to remain anonymous, to protect their jobs and reputations.

Notes

These Tech Companies Will Need More Women On Their Boards, by Scott Thurm, Wired

Several major tech companies—including Apple, Google parent Alphabet, and Facebook—will likely have to add women to their boards of directors by mid-2021 under a pioneering new California law aimed at bringing more women into corporate boardrooms.

[...]

California is the first US state to require that women be represented on corporate boards. Several European countries have similar laws or guidelines, following the lead of Norway, which a decade ago required all companies to have at least 40 percent women on their boards. The Economist reported earlier this year that the laws have led to big increases in women directors in France, Germany, Italy, Britain, and the Netherlands.

Cops Can Legally Force You To Unlock Your Phone With Your Face, by Lily Hay Newman, Wired

The question of whether cops can force someone to unlock their phone in the US for a search hinges on Fifth Amendment protections against self-incrimination—that no one "shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against" themselves. Privacy advocates argue that this extends to the act of unlocking a phone or generally decrypting data on a device. But while that line of thinking has succeeded as a defense against having to produce a passcode, it works less reliably in the context of Touch ID or other biometrics. Something you know, like a passcode, is easier to view as testimonial—legally speaking, a statement made by a witness—than something you have, like a physical attribute.

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Why is it that Shortcuts can open some apps on my iPhone, but cannot open others? Didn't the Springboard team gotten the automation memo?

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Thanks for reading.

The Build-Skills-Progressively Edition Monday, October 1, 2018

Apple Brings 'Everyone Can Create' Curriculum To Everybody In The Apple Books Store, by Mike Wuerthele, AppleInsider

Apple has widened availability of the Everyone Can Create curriculum, and has now posted the materials on the Apple Books marketplace not just for teachers, but for those wanting to learn from the materials as well.

Everyone Can Create includes four new project guides for drawing, music, video and photos now available for free in Apple Books. Each guide provides a series of projects that build skills progressively, helping students gain not just basic skills, but advanced vocabulary and techniques in each medium. A new teacher guide provides 300 lesson ideas across media, projects, and subjects.

No Studio Needed: How Anyone Can Make A Hit Record With A Laptop, by Dani Deahl, The Verge

When I walk into music producer Oak Felder’s studio in the hills of Los Angeles for episode 4 of The Future of Music, it doesn’t feel like a “traditional” label studio. That’s because it’s not. Felder bought the property and transformed it from a house into a vibey, chill-out compound that happens to have a fully built recording studio in the lower level. This might be the upper echelon of what a modern home studio is, but it’s recognizable as a home studio nonetheless.

Oak Felder is a songwriter and record producer who is one half of Pop & Oak, who are responsible for crafting hits like Nicki Minaj’s “Your Love,” Alessia Cara’s “Here,” and Demi Lovato’s “Sorry Not Sorry,” among many others. He splits his time between Atlanta, where his actual home is, and LA at this home studio on steroids. Even though celebs come in and out of this space regularly to create their next hits, if you look closely at the gear Felder uses to make all these songs you hear on the radio, it’s not much different from what bedroom producers use around the world. Instead of a big traditional mixing board, there’s a desk for his laptop, where he plugs in and works off of Apple’s DAW, Logic.

“My main computer is a laptop,” Felder tells me. “So, technically, I’m mobile everywhere.”

Journalists Just Can’t Quit Microsoft Word. But Some Are Trying., by Rachel Withers, Slate

Earlier this year, when setting out as a freelance writer, I found myself for the first time without the backing of a work computer with Word or a free student account. I faced a dilemma: to pay or not to pay for Microsoft Word. With a perfectly good word processor attached to my Gmail, was it really worth about $7 or $8 per month to be able to type onto the traditional white page I was used to? What settled it was the realization that I needed trusty old Word to communicate with my hopefully soon-to-be editors. Track Changes was the language in which the writer-editor conversation was carried out, at least in my experience. Even if I were to convert my Google words to Word words, and my editor’s Word edits to Google edits, and download my Google response to those edits as a Word response to be sent back, too much could get lost in translation.

Journalism is just one of the many industries debating its continuing relationship with Word. But unlike most industries, we let this debate play out within our work. Writers have been calling for an end to Word for more than a decade now, from Virginia Heffernan in the New York Times to Tom Scocca here in Slate. In his 2012 piece, Scocca compared filing a story in Word in 2012 to filing a story via fax in the ’90s, calling it “cumbersome, inefficient, and a relic of obsolete assumptions about technology.” In a post responding to Scocca’s piece, the pseudonymous blogger Otaku-kun points out that the program is still incredibly important to other professionals, even if not for writers: “Ask any lawyer writing a brief, a scientist writing a grant, or a student writing a dissertation how useful Word is and you’ll get a very different perspective than that of people writing tweets about how Word is too complicated for their blogging.” (Remember blogging?)

Stuff

iPhone XS Max Can Replace Your iPad Mini, by Ed Hardy, Cult of Mac

While the iPhone is smaller, it’s big enough for most of the jobs we asked it to do. Realistically speaking, the 6.5-inch display is as good as the 7.9-inch one for reading ebooks. There’s more page flipping, but that’s not a significant drawback.

The same goes for social-networking sites like Facebook and Instagram. The experience isn’t as good as the larger screen. But it’s good enough.

Mimeo Photos Launches Apple Photo Project Ordering Service, by Dennis Sellers, Apple World Today

The company has unveiled a conversion tool and Apple Photo Project Ordering Service. This tool allows Mimeo Photos customers to convert and reprint Apple photo projects instantly.

NHL Redesigns Its Streaming App To Bring You More Of The Action, by Saqib Shah, Engadget

And with the new season about to get underway, the app is getting a redesign and adding almost 50 percent more pre-and post-game shows -- along with intermission broadcasts. Immediately noticeable are the overhauled Team Pages that put video up-front and center moments after the puck drops on every new match, including a new pinned video player at the top of each article.

Notes

Autonomous Everything: How Algorithms Are Taking Over Our World, by Bruce Schneier, Literary Hub

I am less worried about AI; I regard fear of AI more as a mirror of our own society than as a harbinger of the future. AI and intelligent robotics are the culmination of several precursor technologies, like machinelearning algorithms, automation, and autonomy. The security risks from those precursor technologies are already with us, and they’re increasing as the technologies become more powerful and more prevalent. So, while I am worried about intelligent and even driverless cars, most of the risks are already prevalent in Internet-connected drivered cars. And while I am worried about robot soldiers, most of the risks are already prevalent in autonomous weapons systems.

Also, as roboticist Rodney Brooks pointed out, “Long before we see such machines arising there will be the somewhat less intelligent and belligerent machines. Before that there will be the really grumpy machines. Before that the quite annoying machines. And before them the arrogant unpleasant machines.” I think we’ll see any new security risks coming long before they get here.

From Click Here to Kill Everybody: Security and Survival in a Hyper-connected World.

Inside Wayback Machine, The Internet’s Time Capsule, by Zachary Crockett, The Hustle

At 300 Funston Street in San Francisco’s Richmond District, there’s an old Christian Science church. Walk up it’s palatial steps, past Corinthian columns and urns, into the bowels of a vaulted sanctuary — and you’ll find a copy of the internet.

In a backroom where pastors once congregated stand rows of computer servers, flickering en masse with blue light, humming the hymnal of technological grace.

This is the home of the Internet Archive, a non-profit that has, for 22 years, been preserving our online history: Billions of web pages, tweets, news articles, videos, and memes.

Bottom of the Page

Once upon a time, when a company 'proudly' proclaimed that their products were cross-platform, they may just meant that their products were available on both Windows 95/98 and Windows NT/2000. And we Mac users were disappointed.

Similarly, today, if your product is only available on macOS and iOS, I don't think you should be marketing your product as cross-platform. In my opinion, to be limited to only one company's platforms, no matter how big the platforms are, is not truly cross-platform.

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I'm not necessarily looking for Windows (which I use at work) or Android (which I don't use at all) support. What I am expecting, if you are advertising cross-platform, is support for the Web platform.

(And, no, please don't force me to use Facebook login.)

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Thanks for reading.