The Cleanly-and-Nicely Edition Tuesday, October 23, 2018

The iPhone XR Is Apple’s Love Letter To Cost-Conscious Buyers, by Lauren Goode, Wired

The iPhone XR is not the most technologically advanced iPhone; many of Apple's superior components have been reserved for the costlier device. But the iPhone XR is still a moderately great phone. It's great not in the way that super-futuristic, game-changing technology devices are. It's great in the way that a bunch of already-possible things have been packaged together cleanly and nicely.

Most people—those who don't spend their lives comparing specs and staring at bezels on multiple models of new smartphones each fall—are going to be very happy with this phone if they buy it. Especially if those people are upgrading from an older iPhone, which I believe will be the case for a lot of people buying the iPhone XR. They'll have a phone that's running on Apple's top-of-the-line processor. They'll have FaceID, and they'll experience the learning curve that comes with an iPhone without a home button, which feels like a small price to pay for an edge-to-edge display.

Apple iPhone XR Review: Better Than Good Enough, by Nilay Patel, The Verge

Look. The display on the iPhone XR is… fine. It’s fine! It has lower resolution and pixel density than the OLEDs in new flagship phones like the iPhone XS, Galaxy S9, and Pixel 3, but it’s the same 326 pixels per inch as Apple’s previous non-Plus LCD iPhones. Anyone coming to this phone from any iPhone save the iPhone X will not notice a huge discrepancy in resolution. I suspect most people will find it totally acceptable.


To be clear, the bezel is there for a reason: it houses the LCD backlight. Apple did a lot of custom engineering to pack a dense array of LED backlights into that bezel, and tucked the display controller up under the display itself to eliminate the need for an unsightly chin, which virtually no other phone manufacturer has been able to avoid. The tradeoff? Well, the bezel, and a Lightning port that’s vertically off-center on the bottom.

The iPhone XR, by John Gruber, Daring Fireball

But only the iPhone XR offers a 128 GB storage tier, and it’s just $50 more. If you want more than 64 GB with an iPhone XS, you’ve got to pay $150 more than the base price and jump all the way to 256 GB. So in terms of what I would actually recommend for most people — getting the storage tier one level above entry level — the 128 GB iPhone XR costs $350 less than the 256 GB XS and $450 less than the XS Max.

People who are looking for some way that iPhone XR purchasers are getting screwed have it backwards. If anyone is getting screwed on pricing, it’s XS and XS Max purchasers, who don’t have the option of buying a 128 GB device for just $50 more than the baseline 64 GB models.


Effectively, this means that the iPhone XR is more like a smaller XS Max than it is a larger iPhone XS. And the difference between standard and zoomed modes on the iPhone XR is far more subtle than it is on the XS Max.

Review: Apple’s iPhone XR Is A Fine Young Cannibal, by Matthew Panzarino, TechCrunch

Yes, the portrait mode works. No, it’s not as good as the iPhone XS. Yes, I miss having a zoom lens.

All of those things are true and easily the biggest reason I won’t be buying an iPhone XR. However, in the theme of Apple working its hardest to make even its ‘lower end’ devices work and feel as much like its best, it’s really impressive what has been done here.


I honestly wouldn’t overthink this one too much. The iPhone XR is made to serve a certain segment of customers that want the new iPhone but don’t necessarily need every new feature. It works great, has a few small compromises that probably won’t faze the kind of folks that would consider not buying the best and is really well built and executed.

Apple Unveils Repair Pricing For iPhone XR, Screen Fix Costs $199, by Ashley Carman, The Verge

If you crack that notched LCD display, it’ll cost you $199 to fix (if you don’t have AppleCare+). That’s significantly cheaper than the OLEDs on the iPhone XS and XS Max: the XS costs $279, and the XS Max costs $329. Meanwhile, a battery replacement will cost $69 across the three new devices.

Smoother-Looking Bug

iOS 12.1 Will Improve Selfie Quality On The iPhone XS And XR, by Nilay Patel, The Verge

Ever since the iPhone XS came out, there’s been criticism of its front camera — specifically, that it overly smooths skin. This, of course, was dubbed “Beautygate” in reference to Samsung-style beautification filters, which Apple has always insisted it doesn’t use.

Whatever the case, it was definitely there, but now it’s going away: during our iPhone XR review, Apple told me that iOS 12.1 will fix a bug in its smart HDR camera system that resulted in smoother-looking photos taken by the front camera on the iPhone XS and XR.

Crouching Options Hidden Settings

iPhones Are Hard To Use, by Joe Clark,

On two occasions on the same bus route, I couldn’t stand to watch late-middle-aged persons (eyeglasses perched on forehead in one case) struggle to read their iPhones. I took hold of their phones for a moment each (I got permission) and brought up the well-hidden screen for text-size selection. They picked the bigger fonts they’d needed all along. They were so grateful it was embarrassing.


My almost-blind friend upgraded from an iTouch to an iPhone 8, then couldn’t check his voicemail for weeks because iPhone keyboards and keypads randomly change or invert their colours and he simply could not see or locate the number buttons.


New Apple Park Visitor Center T-shirts Are Inspired By Classic Designs, by Michael Steeber, 9to5Mac

It’s widely known that Apple Park Visitor Center offers highly-coveted custom merchandise for guests. The curated selection of T-shirts, caps, souvenirs, and more isn’t available to purchase at any other Apple store or online. Even the old Infinite Loop campus has a separate line of gear. Today, Apple updated its T-shirt selection at the Visitor Center for fall with some designs that long-time fans might remember.

Apple Beats 1 Just Opened An NYC Studio, by Melissa Locker, Fast Company

After opening branches in London and Los Angeles, the company finally got around to opening a New York studio for its Beats 1 crew. The studio is located in Manhattan’s Union Square. “I want this space to represent the sound and energy of New York, and how multicultural this city is,” said Ebro Darden, host of New York’s seminal radio program “Ebro in the Morning” and a Beats 1 legend.

Firefox Tweaks Ad Tracker Blocking To Avoid Breaking Websites, Too, by Stephen Shankland, CNET

The feature arrives in the new Firefox 63, released Tuesday, though it's disabled by default for now. It's designed to cause fewer problems with websites than the tracking protection that debuted as an option in Firefox 57 last November, which Mozilla found could break websites and block advertisements. Millions of us run ad blockers, but the intent of the tracking protection tool is something else entirely -- blocking advertisers from figuring out who we are as we skip from site to site.

Neverthink Is The Ultimate Time Wasting App, by Jeff Weisbein, Best Techie

The app uses human curators who scour the web for video content from various sources including YouTube and Reddit. Neverthink takes its human curation approach seriously denouncing the use of algorithms. The curators add hours of new video content to the app every day into pre-defined channels. Some channels include: AWWW, Business News, Food, Tech News, Learn something, LOL, Millennial AF, and Travel.

Apple Identifies Issue With GasBuddy App Causing Some iPhones To Become Unresponsive, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

Apple has identified an "issue" with the GasBuddy app that may result in some iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone X, iPhone XS, and iPhone XS Max devices becoming "unresponsive," according to an internal announcement shared with Apple Stores today. The memo was obtained by MacRumors from a reliable source.

Apple says affected iPhones will have a black screen with an endlessly spinning wheel—aka a respring loop. In its memo, Apple says it is working with GasBuddy to "resolve" the issue, which started "sometime after October 18, 2018."


Apple Partners With France's Simplon For Swift App Development Training, by Roger Fingas, AppleInsider

Participating students will find themselves in a four-week program developed by Apple in conjunction with educational experts. It will add on to Simplon's existing Web development program, which runs for seven months.

It’s Astounding How Many Problems Can Be Solved Just By Waking Up Early, by Edith Zimmerman, The Cut

But in my experience, waking up obscenely early allows you to wear two hats, and the wearing of the first one allows for a much more peaceful wearing of the second one, if that makes sense. In times of stress, my early-morning self makes the day more pleasant for my regular self.


Tim Cook Visits Developers & Artists In Berlin & Paris Ahead Of Brussels Privacy Keynote, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Cook’s week in Europe began with a visit to Berlin. As he documented on Twitter, the Apple CEO met with developers of the augmented reality app mauAR. This app is designed to let iPhone users recreate the Berlin wall with augmented reality. While mauAR isn’t yet on the App Store, Cook touted it as a “new way to learn from the past” and said Apple looks forward to it launching on iOS:

Cook continued his travels through Germany with a visit to Asana Rebel, another augmented reality application which focuses on yoga and wellbeing. “We’re thrilled when entrepreneurs like you use the App Store to turn their passion into a thriving global business,” Cook tweeted about his visit with Asana Rebel.

Now Apps Can Track You Even After You Uninstall Them, by Gerrit De Vynck, Bloomberg

Uninstall tracking exploits a core element of Apple Inc.’s and Google’s mobile operating systems: push notifications. Developers have always been able to use so-called silent push notifications to ping installed apps at regular intervals without alerting the user—to refresh an inbox or social media feed while the app is running in the background, for example. But if the app doesn’t ping the developer back, the app is logged as uninstalled, and the uninstall tracking tools add those changes to the file associated with the given mobile device’s unique advertising ID, details that make it easy to identify just who’s holding the phone and advertise the app to them wherever they go.

Trade Group Representing Apple Proposes New Framework For Privacy Regulations, by Andrew O'Hara, AppleInsider

Lobbying group Information Technology Industry (ITI), which counts Apple, Facebook and Google as members, introduced a proposed framework for privacy regulations in Washington this week as lawmakers look to enhance user protections.

Your Move, Bloomberg, by Erik Wemple, Washington Post

The best journalism lends itself to reverse engineering. Though no news organization may ever match the recent New York Times investigation of Trump family finances, for instance, the newspaper published documents, cited sources and described entities with a public footprint. “Fear,” the recent book on the dysfunction of the Trump White House, starts with the story of a top official removing a trade document from the president’s desk, an account supported by an image of the purloined paper.

Bloomberg, on the other hand, gives readers virtually no road map for reproducing its scoop, which helps to explain why competitors have whiffed in their efforts to corroborate it. The relentlessness of the denials and doubts from companies and government officials obligate Bloomberg to add the sort of proof that will make believers of its skeptics. Assign more reporters to the story, re-interview sources, ask for photos and emails. Should it fail in this effort, it’ll need to retract the entire thing.

Bottom of the Page

I'm wishing for a new Mac Mini that looks like just a dongle with HDMI on one end, power on the other end, and maybe an USB-C port in the middle.

Small is beautiful.


Thanks for reading.