Archive for November 2018

The Alexa-Play Edition Friday, November 30, 2018

Apple Music Is Coming To Amazon Echo Speakers Week Of Dec. 17, by Edward C. Baig, USA Today

The agreement between Apple and Amazon will now let you exploit Alexa with Apple Music to its fullest: “Alexa, play Bruce Springsteen,” “Alexa, play Beats 1 radio,” "Alexa, play my chill playlist," or for that matter have Alexa play any of the 50 million tracks that fill the Apple Music catalog.

“Given the size and scope of Apple Music, it’s been one of the most asked for features for the past three or four years since we’ve had Echo and Alexa out there," says Dave Limp, senior vice president for devices & services.

Apple’s senior vice president for Internet software and services, Eddy Cue, says the engineers have been at it for about six months.

Made On iPad: Creative Workflows And Insights Offered By Professionals, by Michael Steeber, 9to5Mac

From digital illustration to managing a business, the vast range of ways people are working on iPads proves there’s no one right way or wrong way to use them. Some have embraced iOS as their platform of choice for every task. Some use a Mac and an iPad in concert to create powerful workflows that highlight the capabilities of each device. Others are developing entirely new ways of working that simply couldn’t exist before.

At the center of all these workflows is a desire to push the bounds of technology and achieve a more portable, powerful, and satisfying working experience. When the tools fit the job, your mind can focus on what matters most.

How To Learn To Draw With The iPad Pro, by Charlie Sorrel, Cult of Mac

The good news is that you already know how to draw — you just need to learn how to look. The bad news is that the only way to improve is to practice. A lot. There’s no shortcut. You just have to do a lot of drawing.

How Apple Thrived In A Season Of Tech Scandals, by Farhad Manjoo, New York Times

For years, start-ups aiming for consumer audiences modeled themselves on Google and Facebook, offering innovations to the masses at rock-bottom prices, if not for free. But there are limits to the free-lunch model.

If Apple’s more deliberate business becomes the widely followed norm, we could see an industry that is more careful about tech’s dangers and excesses. It could also be one that is more exclusive, where the wealthy get the best innovations and the poor bear more of the risks.


Elvis Is In The Building For Hilarious Apple FaceTime Ad, by Ed Hardy, Cult of Mac

Apple gives us the gift we really want: more Elvis. Specifically, a collection of Elvis impersonators scattered around the world using Group FaceTime to share their love of the King of Rock and Roll.

This iPhone ad highlights the best new feature in iOS 12.1, the ability to make FaceTime video calls to multiple people simultaneously.

Apple Releases New iPhone XS Case And Apple Watch Sport Band Colors, Still No iPhone XR Cases, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

The new colors include Hibiscus, Mellow Yellow, and Pacific Green. Further, Apple has also started selling the new Nike Sport Loop colors that originally launched through Nike earlier this month.

The Best iPhone Alarms Are Hidden In The Bedtime Feature, by Kelly Conaboy, New York Magazine

The best part of Bedtime, though, is that it offers an entirely different set of alarms from the main alarms tab of the clock app. They are shockingly superior.

Nine Health And Fitness Apps To Turn Your Apple Watch Into A Personal Trainer, by David Nield, Popular Science

Besides telling time and displaying notifications, an Apple Watch functions primarily as a health and fitness tracker. Right out of the box, the Series 4 device can monitor your heart rate, count steps taken and calories burned, record physical activities from yoga to swimming, remind you to take breaks from work, and more.

And that's not all. Add in some dedicated apps, and the wearable becomes capable of boosting your health even more. We've selected some of the Apple Watch's top fitness apps—install a few and start feeling the burn.

Review: Opso Is The Only Apple Watch Charger You Need For On The Go, by Andrew O'Hara, AppleInsider

Opso is a minimalist charging dock designed for Apple Watch with an internal battery to be sure you'll never run out of juice while on the go.


Gaming The Apple Podcast Charts Is Cheaper And Easier Than You Think, by Ashley Carman, The Verge

The podcast charts still mean something, especially to smaller shows that use it to prove themselves. But it seems that pretty soon — maybe even now — they won’t matter much at all.

How Not To Be The Asshole In Your Open-Plan Office, by Tracy Moore, Mel

He can blast jam bands while you’re plugging away at a deadline. She can reheat fish for lunch. That guy can break up with his girlfriend three times a day, and that lady can force you to look at 37 photos of her pet Komodo dragon. To say nothing of the many perfectly well-meaning colleagues who tap you on the shoulder out of nowhere and just start yammering away about whatever comes to mind.

So it’s no surprise that years of research have shown us that open-office plans are the absolute worst. And in the midst of this ultra-modern bleak dilemma, some companies have reinstated a solution of sorts in the form of private phone booths, where coworkers are battling amongst themselves for territorial rights to sneak away, close a door, and get some goddamn work done. But that’s merely a blip of a trend in a sea of partition-less misery. Until your particular office wises up (unlikely!), here’s how we could all do our part to keep the open office plan from destroying what’s left of our souls.


Apple At Fed Square Pushed Back A Year, As Andrews Confirms Support, by Clay Lucas, The Age

Plans to demolish part of Federation Square to make way for a new Apple store have been pushed back a year but Premier Daniel Andrews says his re-elected government continues to support the project.

Is Our Constant Use Of Digital Technologies Affecting Our Brain Health? We Asked 11 Experts., by Brian Resnick, Julia Belluz, and Eliza Barclay, Vox

The answers, you’ll see, are far from certain or even consistent. There’s a lot not yet known about the connection between media use and brain health in adults and kids. The evidence that does exist on multitasking and memory, for instance, suggests a negative correlation, but a causal link is still elusive. Still, many of the researchers and human behavior experts we spoke with still feel an unease about where the constant use of digital technology is taking us.

“We’re all pawns in a grand experiment to be manipulated by digital stimuli to which no one has given explicit consent,” Richard Davidson, a neuroscientist at the University of Wisconsin, told us. But what are the results of the experiment?

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Yes, I am surprised to hear about the news of Apple Music in Amazon's Alexa devices.


Thanks for reading.

The Pricing-Strategy Edition Thursday, November 29, 2018

Tim Cook’s Idaho Visit Shows Apple Can’t Just Donate Its Way Into Schools, by Jeremy Horwitz, VentureBeat

I’ll be the first to admit that few problems are actually as easy to fix as they superficially appear to be, and just saying “it’s about price, stupid” doesn’t mean that it’s actually that simple. But after the release of this year’s iPads, it should be more than obvious that Apple’s pricing strategy isn’t working for schools. The company marketed its latest 9.7-inch iPad directly to students and educators, adding a faster processor and Pencil support. But if you look at the results of that marketing effort, iPad unit sales barely changed from last year’s numbers. I’d submit that sales remained stagnant because the iPad’s entry price stayed the same, and the key feature schools were looking for — a physical keyboard — still wasn’t included.

There’s no question that Apple’s latest entry-level iPad is a better and more versatile device than a basic Chromebook. It has a better processor, twin cameras, augmented reality support, a million games, support for the first Apple Pencil, and so on. But most schools don’t care more about those things than price, and to the extent they do, they’ll buy hundreds of Chromebooks and have students share a handful of iPads.

Wearables Get Serious About Heart Rate, by Vanessa Hand Orellana, CNET

Smartwatches and fitness trackers with heart rate sensors have made it easy to keep tabs on your ticker without seeing your doctor. But they're starting to do a lot more than just track your data. The Apple Watch already lets you know when it detects a spike in heart rate, and the company's newest Series 4 Watch will be able to take an electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) to help screen for serious medical conditions like AFib that increase the risk of stroke. And other wearable makers like Fitbit and Garmin may not be too far behind. Both are developing similar screening features for AFib and sleep apnea.

Potential limitations of tracking technology still stand in the way, but the end goal of these companies is to elevate heart rate trackers from workout buddy to medical device.

Study Shows Apple Watch Health Insurance Deals Yield Substantial Increase In Exercise, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

For the study, participants paid an upfront cost of £99 for the Apple Watch Series 4 or £9 for an Apple Watch 3. From there, they were burdened with a monthly charge of £12.50 – but that charge varied depending on how much exercise they performed. Those recording the most exercise through their Apple Watch did not have to pay any monthly fee.

Gore explained that this model creates “loss aversion,” meaning that participants were motivated to stay active, otherwise they could lose their free access to Apple Watch.

Apple Says The iPhone XR Has Been Its Top-selling iPhone Since Launch, by Shara Tibken, CNET

Apple's iPhone XR has been outselling the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max every day since the cheaper, colorful phone hit the market last month.

Greg Joswiak, Apple vice president of product marketing, told CNET in an interview Wednesday that the device has "been our most popular iPhone each and every day since the day it became available."


Using USB-C On The iPad (So Far...), by Alex Cranz, Gizmodo

So yes, some aspects of the iPad Pro’s USB-C support are overblown. Monitors and hubs don’t work well, and that’s disappointing, But when the iPad Pro does do USB-C right, it’s pretty special and makes me wish Apple would finally, FINALLY, bring mouse support to its touch-based operating system.

Wrestling With The Infograph Watch Face, by David Sparks, MacSparky

For so long I've been looking for a watch face with many complications and now Apple has given it to me. The problem is, I made a big mess out of it. My first attempts involved using all of the available complications. If it was shiny, I put it in. The trouble with that is the complications surrounding the watch hands tend to blend in with the watch hands. As a result, when you glance at your watch, sometimes it is difficult to tell what time it is.

Mophie Unveils New Powerstation Portable Battery That Recharges Itself Via Lightning, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

The new Powerstation with Lightning packs 5,050mAh of power and integrates a Lightning port for recharging itself, as well as two USB-A ports for recharging external devices.


How To Game The App Store, by David Barnard

So, let’s talk about how developers are gaming the App Store and why it matters to the future of the platform. Any one of these tactics might seem somewhat bland individually, but when tens of thousands of apps deploy multiple tactics across many categories of apps, the impact can be measured in hundreds of millions of users and likely billions of dollars.

I’ve been focused on researching the weather category the past couple years as I’ve been working on my weather app, Weather Up, but these tactics apply to pretty much every category on the App Store.


Microsoft Is Worth As Much As Apple. How Did That Happen?, by Steve Lohr, New York Times

The near-term, stock-trading answer is that Microsoft has held up better than others during the recent sell-off of tech company shares. Apple investors are worried about a slowdown in iPhone sales. Facebook and Google face persistent attacks on their role in distributing false news and conspiracy theories, and investor concerns that their privacy policies could scare off users and advertisers.

But the more enduring and important answer is that Microsoft has become a case study of how a once-dominant company can build on its strengths and avoid being a prisoner of its past. It has fully embraced cloud computing, abandoned an errant foray into smartphones and returned to its roots as mainly a supplier of technology to business customers.

Gmail Smart Replies And The Ever-Growing Pressure To E-mail Like A Machine, by Rachel Syme, New Yorker

My greatest anxiety about using Smart Replies, though, was that other people would know I was using them. I worried that my editors would see my “On it!” and feel like I was cruising on autopilot, or that my friends would get a “Perfect!” and feel like I didn’t care enough about them to craft a finely tailored response. (This unease runs both ways: Has the editor who replies “This is great!” even bothered to read my fresh story draft?)

When The Internet Archive Forgets, by David Bixenspan, Gizmodo

We take a lot of things for granted, especially as we rely on technology more and more. “The internet is forever” may be a common refrain in the media, and the underlying wisdom about being careful may be sound, but it is also not something that should be taken literally. People delete posts. Websites and entire platforms disappear for business and other reasons. Rich, famous, and powerful bad actors don’t care about intimidating small non-profit organizations. It’s nice to have safeguards, but there are limits to permanence on the internet, and where there are limits, there are loopholes.

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Has Apple forgotten how to make an iPod shuffle?


Thanks for reading.

The Comes-With-a-Price Edition Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Digital App Device Amplifies Our Most Human Devices - Fear, Worry, Safety, by Jerry Davich, Chicago Tribune

In my youth, my privacy was prized more than most other things in life. These days, I’m not as guarded, or as secretive, with my whereabouts. If this free app gives peace of mind to my family, it’s worth the cost of my ethical concerns.

Once again, a digital device only amplifies our most human devices – fear, worry, jealousy, control, safety, to name just a few. And once again, peace of mind comes with a price in the 21st century. Are you willing to pay it?

A Decade After The iPhone, There’s Still No Good Smartphone For Kids, by EJ Dickson, Medium

These days, many parents are “putting tech in kids’ hands as soon as they can hold them,” declares Dr. Jim Taylor, author of the book Raising Generation Tech. But when it comes to what kinds of phones parents should actually buy their kids, the market offers very few options: There is no iPhone equivalent for children, and there never has been. For the most part, kids are stuck with their parents’ hand-me-down smartphones, and the onus is on the parent to install the necessary parental controls.

So, why hasn’t Silicon Valley successfully made a phone for children? And if it did, what would such a device actually look like?

Apple Has Destroyed The Potential Of The Smart Connector On The New iPad Pro, by Andrew O'Hara

The biggest issue we heard third-companies voice unhappiness with was the pogo-pin implementation, but that design remains the same. Apple opting to move the port and not fix common complaints made by those who rely on it for their own products outside of themselves doesn't seem like the best move.


Apple Releases iCloud For Windows Update That Works With Latest Version Of Windows 10, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Apple today has pushed an update to iCloud for Windows, bringing the app to version 7.8.1. The update comes after users reported major compatibility issues between iCloud for Windows and the latest Windows 10 October 2018 update, affecting things such as Photos syncing and many other features.

Apple Pay Now Available In Belgium And Kazakhstan, by Malcolm Owen, AppleInsider

Mobile payments and NFC transactions have been in Belgium for quite some time, with Apple Pay arriving a year and a half after Android Pay, now known as Google Pay, went live in the country.

Books And Calendars In Photos For Mac: What Are The Best Options?, by Jason Snell, Six Colors

So while I prefer Motif for book building, I prefer Mimeo for calendars. But I think you can’t go wrong with either option. If you use Photos and are despairing over the moment you’ll need to build a book or calendar without Apple’s tools, don’t worry: Both of these apps will do a good job.

Ergotron Sit-Stand Desk Converter Works Well But Is Costly, by Julio Ojeda-Zapata, TidBITS

If swapping out your current desk is an option, for about the cost of a WorkFit-TX, or a bit more, you can find full standing desks, the kind that raise and lower at the touch of a button. I have a standing desk at the office of my day-job employer, and I prefer it over any converter.

But for those who have decent-sized fixed desks and a bit of extra money, the WorkFit-TX is the best sit-stand converter I’ve seen so far.


5 Lessons Developers Can Take From Apple's Walled Garden, by Eli Bierman, Reaktor

Learning how to develop for Apple’s software ecosystem (notably iOS) takes a significant learning investment. I believe you can learn to build better experiences by understanding the platform. But even if you don’t want to commit that time, you can still learn from Apple. In this post I’ll share with you 5 lessons that you can take from Apple’s approach to growing a software ecosystem.


"A New Paradigm": How Netflix And Apple Are Upending Hollywood Hierarchy With Studio Deals, by Rebecca Keegan, Hollywood Reporter

Taken together, the deals represent a major shift in the industry: Movie studios are no longer making films just for themselves, but for the deep-pocketed technology companies that have become Hollywood’s latest conquistadors. And it’s not hard to visualize a time soon when an iconic studio like Paramount becomes a mere supplier.

"This is the year where the movie business takes on a new paradigm," says Tuna Amobi, senior analyst for investment firm CFRA Research. The deals are a reaction to 2018’s seismic changes — Disney’s acquisition of Fox assets, AT&T’s of Time Warner and the announcement of the streaming services both companies intend to launch. "Even Apple is taking note," says Amobi. "Everyone is trying to withstand the onslaught. Everyone is playing offense and defense."

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What I enjoyed most about Apple's walled garden: easy to install apps, easy to uninstall apps, without worries. I hope the lawyers do not break this.


Thanks for reading.

The Coding-Assistance Edition Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Apple Launches App Development Program For Female Entrepreneurs, by Megan Rose Dickey, TechCrunch

The free two-week camp, which kicks off in January, will give female founders the opportunity to receive one-on-one coding assistance from Apple engineers, as well as attend sessions on design, technology and App Store marketing. The idea is to help teams shave off overall development time.

To be eligible to participate, the company must be female-founded, female co-founded or female-led, and have at least one woman on the development team. The program is inclusive to all who identify as women.

How iPad Is Revolutionizing Music Production, by Charlie Sorrel, Cult of Mac

“The thing I love about it is, is it’s all tactile, and I come from old-school analog,” Lewis said. “You’ve got 15-foot mixing consoles in front of you, and those have gotten smaller and smaller, but I’m still on an analog board. And one of the reasons I’m on an analog board is because it’s all tactile, and I can touch it and work it, and get the feel for that musical connection.”

That feeling of connection kept him away from the mouse-driven interface of desktop computers. The iPad, he says, offers the best computer version of tweaking knobs on the fly he’s ever seen.

Can We Sue?

Argument Analysis: Justices Poised To Allow Antitrust Dispute Against Apple Over Apps To Go Forward, by Amy L Howe

Arguing for Apple, lawyer Daniel Wall told the justices that the iPhone users’ claim is exactly the kind of claim that is prohibited under the Supreme Court’s 1977 decision in Illinois Brick Co. v. Illinois, which held that only consumers who are direct purchasers of a product can bring a lawsuit seeking the triple damages available for violations of federal antitrust laws: Here, Wall said, the only theory of damages in the case is that Apple charges app developers a 30-percent commission, which in turn causes the developers to increase the prices that consumers pay for apps. Therefore, Wall argued, it is the app developers, not the iPhone users, who are direct purchasers under Illinois Brick.

But several justices were skeptical that the question was as simple as Wall portrayed it, particularly because the iPhone users buy apps directly from Apple. Justice Sonia Sotomayor suggested that this case was “dramatically different” from Illinois Brick, in which a manufacturer sold concrete blocks to contractors, who used them in buildings that the plaintiffs then purchased. The iPhone users are, Sotomayor posited, “first purchasers.”

Antitrust, The App Store, And Apple, by Ben Thompson, Stratechery

Still, it always seemed that for Apple high profit margins were a by-product of the pursuit of great products, not the goal; it is much harder to make that case when it comes to the “services narrative” and App Store policies that seek to leverage genuine innovation in one market (smartphones) into rent-seeking in another (digital content). The latter may not be illegal, at least not yet, but the biggest potential victim is not consumers, nor app developers, but the product culture that gave Apple market power in the first place.


Apple Mac Mini (2018) Review: Apple Teaches An Old Design New Tricks, by Lori Grunin, CNET

Apple seems to be betting on external GPUs as a solution for much of its graphics woes. But one of the benefits of the Mini is that it's mini. Having to make space for a big eGPU just for better-than-basic graphics acceleration kind of defeats the purpose of a tiny system, especially when you're likely going to be hanging a multitude of external drives and other accessories off it as well. And with that in mind, a couple of ports on the front would be nice.

The Compass Pro 2 Is A Versatile Tripod Stand That Works Great With 2018 iPad Pros, by Dennis Sellers, Apple World Today

Twelve South has added an adjustable back leg to the Compass Pro 2 that provides two display angles. Conveniently, the stand folds completely flat, includes a travel bag, and works with most cases, so it’s easy to toss it in a suitcase or bag and take on the road.

8 Apps That Help You Relax, And Find Your Happy Place, by Robyn Foyster, Women Love Tech

From helping you find you breathe from your diaphragm, to getting a better night’s sleep and to make meditating easier, there is a wealth of apps that are there to serve your every health need.


20 Questions To Ask Before Joining A Startup, by Harrison Harnisch

When I first joined a startup in 2012 I did my best to ask the right questions when interviewing. My engineering background prepared me for engineering tasks and helped me write a resume, but it didn’t prepare me well for how to evaluate a startup offer. While this might be obvious to some, this is what I wish I knew when trying to break into the startup scene.


Online Porn Filters Will Never Work, by Lux Alptraum, The Verge

Since the dawn of the internet, tech companies have promised nervous parents an easy way to protect their children’s innocence that’ll block access to anything that’s too risqué while allowing them to freely browse the safer side of the internet. More often than not, however, these porn blockers aren’t nearly as easy or as effective as advertised, largely because figuring out what is and is not pornography is rarely a simple matter.

I Still Miss My Headphone Jack, And I Want It Back, by Mark Wilson, Fast Company

I know, I know, you’re probably reading this while AutoPiloting your Tesla with your AirBuds in, sipping on 145-degree coffee from your Ember mug. “Why doesn’t he just get some Bluetooth headphones?” you wonder. I won’t start about how many times I’ve tried to use wireless headphones only to find them dead, because anything wireless is just another battery to worry about.

Look. Workarounds aren’t really the point, because workarounds shouldn’t have to exist in the first place. Good design isn’t meant to operate this way. Technology should always bend to the user, not vice versa. And no human’s life is measurably better since Apple had the “courage” to remove the 3.5 mm jack. But a lot of our lives are just a little worse.

Everything On Social Media Is For Sale, by Taylor Lorenz, The Atlantic

Monetizing an audience on social media is not a particularly new idea. What sets these fledgling artists and producers apart is the extent to which they sell every feature on every app: likes, comments, reposts, retweets, faves, story shares, native Instagram posts, Snapchat shout outs, all offered on a sliding scale based on how much you’re willing to pay to keep them up. Any social-media interaction is for sale, as long as someone is willing to pay.

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Certain things need to be wireless, in my opinion. If my calculator from the last century can be powered by solar energy alone, I don't see why AirPods and mouses cannot be, in the future. Let's hope Apple is on the case.


Thanks for reading.

The Learning-Opportunity Edition Monday, November 26, 2018

9 Hidden iPhone Features That Make Your Life Easier, by Jason Snell, Tom's Guide

This month a viral Twitter post taught us all a valuable lesson about just how intuitive phone interface aren't: Apple has let iPhone users move a text-editing cursor around on screen for a few years, but outside of the tech press nobody seemed to get the memo.

Yes, it's hard to make interface features on touchscreens obvious. (I wonder a bit about why Apple isn't more aggressive in using the built-in Tips app to teach people how to use features of its devices.) But it's a learning opportunity, too! And with that, I present nine other simple iPhone features that maybe escaped your attention.

How Much For That App? U.S. Top Court Hears Apple Antitrust Dispute, by Andrew Chung, Reuters

When iPhone users want to edit blemishes out of their selfies, identify stars and constellations or simply join the latest video game craze, they turn to Apple Inc’s App Store, where any software application they buy also includes a 30 percent cut for Apple.

That commission is a key issue in a closely watched antitrust case that will reach the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday. The nine justices will hear arguments in Apple’s bid to escape damages in a lawsuit accusing it of breaking federal antitrust laws by monopolizing the market for iPhone apps and causing consumers to pay more than they should.

The justices will ultimately decide a broader question: Can consumers even sue for damages in an antitrust case like this one?


Luna Display Review, by Ed Hardy, Cult of Mac

Astro HQ Luna Display is the best solution we’ve found for using an iPad as a second screen for a Mac. Images appear on the tablet’s screen very nearly as fast as they would on a standard external display. But the difference between “very nearly as fast” and “just as fast” keeps this accessory from completely replacing a regular external screen that’s hooked to your Mac.

In other words, Luna Display is hugely convenient when using a Mac on the go. But it’s not going to replace an external monitor for daily office use. Still, it’s a fantastic addition for people who already travel with a MacBook and iPad.

Seven Music Apps To Turn Your Apple Watch Into An Audio Controller, by David Nield, Popular Science

With each successive update, the Apple Watch becomes even more useful. But to get the most out of it, you need to load it up with the right apps. So we collected the best music and audio programs for your smartwatch.

The wearable actually comes with a default Music app, which lets you control your phone's audio playback from your wrist (at least when that audio is running on Apple's native apps). But these additional apps can do even more than that: They give you easy access to your tunes, help you identify songs, organize your podcasts, and more. To play around with them, just install them on your iPhone, and companion versions will appear on your Apple Watch.

PowerPic Is The Phone Charger/picture Frame You Don’t Really Need (But Will Probably Want), by Dennis Sellers, Apple World Today

Getting down to the nitty gritty, the PowerPic is the best looking charger I’ve run across, but has its drawbacks. Obviously, you can only juice up one gadget at a time. And the photo in the PowerPic doesn’t appear when your phone is charging.


I Went To Buy A MacBook Air And Apple Tried To Sell Me A MacBook Pro, by Chris Matyszczyk, ZDNet

Perhaps, in his mind, we Air users are inferior, primitive types who don't need much memory.

I fear, though, that it's our long memories that keep us buying MacBook Airs. We remember how good they've always been.

I don't know how this Air will compare with the classics I've been using for some time.

But I feel sure about one thing: I'll never buy a MacBook Pro. Just, you know, because.

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Not only should Apple make better use of the Tips app to teach customers how to use features in iPhones and iPads, but Siri should also figure out what are the relevant tips to surface up, and what are the other tips (You can check stock prices for your favorite stocks!) can remain hidden.


Thanks for reading.

The Comfortable-Typing Edition Sunday, November 25, 2018

Compared: 13-inch MacBook Air Versus 13-inch MacBook Pro, by Max Yuryev, AppleInsider

Interestingly, at their tallest points, the Air is thicker than the Pro, but the front edge is quite a bit thinner. Because of this, the Air's keyboard slopes downward for a much more comfortable typing experience. The Pro also has sharp edges that can sometimes dig into your wrist when typing.

Do You Have A Moral Duty To Leave Facebook?, by S. Matthew Liao, New York Times

In moral philosophy, it is common to draw a distinction between duties to oneself and duties to others. From a self-regarding perspective, there are numerous reasons one might have a duty to leave Facebook. For one thing, Facebook can be time-consuming and addictive, to no fruitful end. In addition, as researchers have demonstrated, Facebook use can worsen depression and anxiety. Someone who finds himself mindlessly and compulsively scrolling through Facebook, or who is constantly comparing himself unfavorably with his Facebook friends, might therefore have a duty of self-care to get off Facebook.

From the perspective of one’s duties to others, the possibility of a duty to leave Facebook arises once one recognizes that Facebook has played a significant role in undermining democratic values around the world.

How Guy Raz Built ‘How I Built This’, by Nellie Bowles, New York Times

By creating a safe space for entrepreneurs to share their stories of ascent, Mr. Raz has become one of the most popular podcasters in history. That history is short, but in this new land of aural opportunity, Mr. Raz, 44, has a claim to be king. According to NPR, where he works on contract, he is the only person to ever have three shows simultaneously in Apple’s top 20 podcasts. In addition to How I Built This, Mr. Raz hosts the TED Radio Hour and the children’s series Wow in the World. Another show, The Rewind With Guy Raz, just started on Spotify, and spring 2019 will bring Wisdom From the Top, a podcast about leadership.

The jewel in Mr. Raz’s earbud empire remains How I Built This. Produced by NPR, the series began in September 2016 with Mr. Raz interviewing the Spanx founder Sara Blakely, setting the tone that it would be about business without being stodgy.

A Dying Mall Near Apple’s Headquarters Is Turning Into A Fight Over Silicon Valley’s Soul, by Roland Li, San Francisco Chronicle

The 1976 mall was home to the retail giants of the 20th century: Macy’s, Sears and J.C. Penney, which all closed their stores in the last three years as foot traffic dwindled and shoppers shifted online. Today, Vallco is a cavernous, mostly empty space of 1.2 million square feet, with a handful of survivors such as Dynasty Seafood Restaurant and the Bay Club hanging on. On the other side of Interstate 280 is Apple’s new $5 billion headquarters, which includes a sleek visitor center and shop.

Since 2014, developer Sand Hill Property Co. has sought to transform the mall into nearly 2 million square feet of office space, more than 2,400 housing units and a 400,000-square-foot retail center.

Thousands of Cupertino residents have fought back. In 2016, Sand Hill Property submitted a ballot measure to win support for one version of the project, while opponents had a measure that banned office space and housing on the site and kept the retail size the same. Both measures were rejected by voters, throwing the project into limbo.

The For-Each-Person Edition Saturday, November 24, 2018

The iPad, HomePod, And Apple TV Need Multi-user Support. Here’s Why, by Dan Moren, Macworld

To Apple we might all be customers, but we’re not interchangeable cogs. The company should realize that we’re not necessarily going to go out and buy that slew of products for each person in our household and stop willfully ignoring the reality of how we use our devices.

The Future Of Typing Doesn’t Involve A Keyboard, by Cassie Werber, Quartz

As computers become smaller and—ultimately—largely virtual, researchers are having to think of other ways for us to interact with them. The current generation of smartphone users may be willing to learn to type with just two thumbs; some of us have carried around bluetooth keyboards for train journeys and conferences. But no one wants to connect a keyboard to a smart watch, and while voice recognition software is improving, users are highly resistant to talking to computers in public. If the future of screens is augmented reality—as Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO has predicted— a virtual space where the user sees both what’s really in front of them and the “objects” on the screen, how are we going to interact with it?

Why So Many Tech Workers Worship Their CEOs, by Keith A. Spencer, Salon

Even in the early days of Silicon Valley, this tendency of programmers to identify with founders was commonplace. Though generally well-paid professional workers, programmers are still commonly exploited by tech companies who prey on their goodwill and strong sense of company loyalty. The early days of Apple offer some choice tales to this end. Doug Menuez, a photojournalist who was given free reign to wander and "record the daily lives" of workers around Silicon Valley, documented the harrowing exploitation of programmers at many major tech companies in the 1990s. In particular, Menuez recorded how common it was for employees to bring their children to work, knowing that if they didn’t, "they might not see [their families] during the daytime hours." The work environment at Apple was quite harsh: "the pervasive expectation from the [tech] companies (and from colleagues) was that everyone would work until he or she dropped," Menuez noted. One Apple manager challenged employees to stay up all night working and then go on a run with him at 6 a.m. In 1992, when Apple management demanded that 30 programmers rewrite one million lines of code within a year, the programming team began to work "around the clock" to achieve their goal, including a product manager at the time named Michael Tchao. "Some nights [Tchao] would get home to his Palo Alto cottage around midnight after 16 hours of nonstop meetings, and he would cry," wrote a New York Times reporter in a profile. As a manager, Tchao was able to "pull back" from the project a bit after reaching a breaking point; his team was not so lucky. In December 1992, one of Tchao’s programmers had a mental breakdown and attacked his roommate, getting sent to jail on assault charges. And a 30-year-old programmer on the same team, Ko Isono, had a similar breakdown. "Like everyone on the team [Isono] was working incredibly long hours, and his wife was soon miserable, stuck all day and all night in a drab house in a strange land," wrote the Times. On December 12, 1992, Isono went home after work and committed suicide by shooting himself in the chest.

Excerpted from A People's History of Silicon Valley: How the Tech Industry Exploits Workers, Erodes Privacy and Undermines Democracy, by Keith A. Spencer.


Inside TikTok, The Premier App For Firefighters Who Enjoy Lip-syncing To ‘Baby Shark’, by Abby Ohlheiser, Washington Post

TikTok, at its core, is an app for creating and sharing short videos set to music. Lip-syncing and dancing are pretty popular genres. Most creators jump on to viral “challenges,” emote over famous monologues from movies and TV or produce clever illusions through editing.

Last month, TikTok was downloaded in the United States more than 6 million times. Its predecessor,, was where 13-year-old aspiring Internet celebrities created and exhausted memes before the old people caught on. But something funny happened after TikTok’s Chinese parent company bought this year and merged them: Police officers, people serving in the military, mechanics and Walmart employees joined in. Fall into one of these occupational niches on TikTok, and you’ll feel like you’ve stumbled into “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” audience: an earnest, nonstop, normcore dance party.

How A Maze Of Mysterious Apps Tricked Me Into Saving Money, by Adam Clark Estes, Gizmodo

I feel like I’ve gone through three levels of a financial awakening thanks to all these apps. The first got me serious about saving. The second got me curious about investing. The third and ongoing stage has me feeling surprisingly optimistic about my retirement, which is decades away but closer than it used it be. I’m an aging millennial, after all, and we can’t just feel helpless forever.


The Resistance Is Real, by Dave Martin

My brain is literally trying to convince me to quit and to start working on “this other exciting new project”.


Why Facebook Will Never Fix Facebook, by Charlie Warzel, BuzzFeed

What Facebook and many of its allies struggle to see is that meaningfully fixing Facebook is not really about putting the granular ad disclosures in place (though they’d be welcomed) or finding the perfect balance between government and internal regulation (though it might help protect users). The last two years have shown that what the platform needs is something closer to an overhaul — stripping out some of the guts of a system that ruthlessly prioritizes engagement.

Ultimately, the failure to fix what ails Facebook is a failure of imagination. It’s failure to conceive of the social network as anything other than a viral advertising platform with a side of political discourse, life updates, and baby photos. As writer L. M. Sacasas argued this summer, criticisms of Facebook are "not so much a rejection of the machine ... but, at best, a desire to see the machine more humanely calibrated."

Why Do Laptop Makers Have Such Terrible Websites, by Alex Cranz, Gizmodo

Which is also one reason why Apple’s website seems just a little less awful. “Having fewer products is the most effective way to reduce navigation complexity,” Howell said. Apple simply has less stuff to sell. I like to complain about the lack of diversity in Apple’s laptop line up, but it also means that it doesn’t have to offer a laptop suggestion for business and one for college kids and one for gamers and one for families. It can just say MacBook. Or Air. Or Pro. The end.

So these big companies that have such awful websites—they’re doing the best they can. Short of some incredible innovation in user interface design we’re going to be stuck with the cluttered and difficult-to-navigate websites.

How My Sexual Health Searches Ended Up In The Hands Of The World's Biggest Tech Companies, by Simon Elvery, ABC

Using my favourite privacy-focused search engine, DuckDuckGo, I did a few searches over the course of about an hour. And I was a little bit surprised to find keywords associated with those searches had found their way to several of the largest tracking services (and a couple of smaller ones too).

It seems that while searching for information on vasectomies, I had, without realising, clicked on a sponsored search result. It's something I try to avoid doing, but it's pretty easy to miss the labelling sometimes.

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When I and my wife bought our first mobile phone -- we call them handphones here in Singapore -- twenty years ago, the intention was to share the one single phone between the both of us.

Twenty years later, each one of us in our little family, including our teenage daughter, has a mobile phone. (Plus a couple of still-working iPhones without SIM cards among us.)

But, yes, we all do share the same Apple TV, and we all do watch different shows. Multi-user support on the Apple TV will be appreciated.

Of course, I would imagine that we all still do watch some of the same shows too. This multi-user support may have to be more sophisticated than what we have on the macOS currently.


Thanks for reading.

The Lock-Screen-Presence Edition Friday, November 23, 2018

Hey, Turn Off Siri On Your Lock Screen, by Lily Hay Newman, Wired

In the battle of the smart assistants, every tech giant hopes to hook you on its voice-activated helper. That means putting the features front and center in as many products as possible. For its part, Apple offers Siri access from your iPhone's lock screen, so you can seamlessly hear the weather or make a call without needing to unlock your device. But while Siri and other smart assistants are generally secure, all this integration inevitably leads to bugs from time to time. On a smart speaker, that's usually not a huge deal. On a smartphone, Siri bugs have made its lock screen presence a periodic risk.

The Good Life: What A Difference An iPad Can Make, by Denny Bonavita, The Post-Journal

My son Greg, now age 41, has Down syndrome. He now lives in a group home in Warren, preceded by 10 years in DuBois. I live outside Brookville. Greg’s brothers and sisters are scattered throughout Pennsylvania, Ohio and Virginia.

Usually, I call him once a week. Siblings also call, perhaps weekly, perhaps less often, as we all tend to our own busy lives. If Greg wanted to call any of us via phone, he needed the aid of a group home staff member.

That all changed a month ago.

We got Greg an IPad for his 41st birthday.

Using The iPad For: Autographed Ebooks, by Matt Gemmell

I recently wrote about how I’m offering autographed ebook versions of my novels, alongside autographed paperbacks and of course the regular retail editions in both print and digital formats. In this article, I’ll briefly describe my iPad-based workflow for making those bespoke ebooks.

Because I self-publish and thus generate the ebooks myself, I have full control of the process. My iPad Pro with Apple Pencil is the idea tool for not only inscribing and signing book covers in an efficient (and eco-friendly!) way, but also actually building and delivering the resulting beautiful personalised digital novel.


Apple Black Friday Sale Live In The US: Get An Apple Store Gift Card When Buying iPhone, Mac, iPad And Apple Watch, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

Apple’s Black Friday deals have gone live in the US and sure enough they match what we saw in the Australian market. You can get an Apple Store gift card up to $280 value with the purchase of Mac, or $70 when buying an iPhone 8 or iPhone 7.

Ditching The MacBook Pro For A MacBook Air, by Brad Frost

One of the best things about this machine is the nice slope that doesn’t hurt my wrists while typing. This was one of the biggest things I noticed when I switched from my original MacBook Air to a MacBook Pro, and I’m happy to return to a comfortable typing environment.

Mac Mini Review—a Testament To Apple’s Stubbornness, by Peter Bright, Ars Technica

The Mac mini is a kind of jack-of-all-trades system, with everything that implies. For some use cases, Apple already has better systems. For others, the Mac mini isn't a great fit, but it's the only hardware that Apple is actually offering that's even vaguely suitable, so Mac users can like it or lump it. It's just... it's not portable; it's not a full size, upgradeable desktop PC; it's not particularly cheap; it's not a great building block for server or render farms.

Instead, the new Mac mini is a compromised box that's engineered to be quite small. If you're wedded to macOS, then it does the job well enough. It's not bad as such, and it's certainly a solid upgrade over the 2014 system. But there's nothing this device particularly excels at, and there's no real scenario where it leaps out at me as being the ideal, obvious choice. It's the Mac you buy when you know you need to buy a Mac... and you've already ruled out all the other systems Apple has on offer.


Thirsty, by Heather Schwedel, Slate

The first Friday in November was an important day for Starbucks. It was the first of the company’s annual holiday season, anticipated by the Starbucks loyal each year and marked by the launch of Peppermint Mochas and seasonal red cups, among other festive offerings. But this year, on that fateful day, something went wrong. The Starbucks app wasn’t working.

Apps go down all the time; such is life with smartphones. But this outage, and the furious tweets that went with it, was enough of a news event to rate coverage from CNBC, Bloomberg, the Associated Press, and more. Starbucks heads, it seems, do not like to be without their app. And that’s by design.

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Happy leftover-on-sandwiches day!

(Or do what my wife does: throw everything into a pot and make stew.)


Thanks for reading.

The In-Plain-Sight Edition Thursday, November 22, 2018

Clumsy Thumb Cursor Fails And 3 Other iOS 12 Annoyances With Hidden Fixes, by Danny Paez, Inverse

While Apple always highlights some of its more flashy capabilities whenever it rolls out a new version of its mobile operating system, for example Group FaceTime or grouped notifications, it tends to gloss over big fixes or workarounds to common frustrations.

We’ve all struggled to put the curser down exactly where we want it, for example, and iMessage’s autocorrect has long made it a habit of switching a certain word to “duck.” But take a deep breath, there are remedies for all of these issues and more, they’re just hiding in plain sight.

My Today At Apple Experience, by Ryan Christoffel, MacStories

Fostering human connection and promoting local talent are difficult things to do in a retail environment, as is building something distinct amidst such strong competition, yet Apple is doing all three of these things. I'm eager to see what the future holds for Today at Apple as the company continues trekking this path.

No Snoozing Allowed: Better Ways To Deal With Email, by Josh Centers, TidBITS

The goal of the above steps is to match your email to your available time, rather than the other way around. The only time you’ll make deliberate changes to how you approach your email is in response to a feedback loop (for example, in my case, “I need to spend more time keeping up with messages tagged High priority”). The rest of the time, this system degrades gracefully when your available time doesn’t keep up with the influx. So long as you have time to scan your new messages for alarms that are blinking red, you’re not missing anything that’s vitally urgent. As long as you have the additional time to triage high priority messages, everything that remains can wait until you get to it. The result is that while your email may “prefer” hours of your time to stay entirely caught up, it will only require the time it takes for those two steps.


Apple Authorized Reseller Store Goes Live On Amazon․com Ahead Of Black Friday And Cyber Monday, by Zac Hall, 9to5Mac

For customers, Amazon officially launching an Apple Authorized Reseller page opens up free two-day shipping with Amazon Prime, the ability to turn Amazon gift cards into Apple products, and potentially unlocking savings through competition with other retail channels.

10 Awesome Mac Apps For Students To Help You Succeed, by Sandy Writtenhouse, Make Use Of

Whether you’re starting a new school year, adjusting to another semester, or just need help getting through the rest of the year, this list of apps for Mac is just for you.

Planning, writing, studying, organizing, and focusing is much easier on your computer with the right tools. Here are the best Mac apps for students.


Slow Software, by Mark McGranaghan, Ink & Switch

There is a deep stack of technology that makes a modern computer interface respond to a user's requests. Even something as simple as pressing a key on a keyboard and having the corresponding character appear in a text input box traverses a lengthy, complex gauntlet of steps, from the scan rate of the keyboard, through the OS and framework processing layers, through the graphics card rendering and display refresh rate.

There is reason for this complexity, and yet we feel sad that computer users trying to be productive with these devices are so often left waiting, watching spinners, or even just with the slight but still perceptible sense that their devices simply can't keep up with them.

Thoughts On 32-bit Codecs Being Phased Out In macOS, by Jon Chappell, Digital Rebellion

This isn't really about 32- vs 64-bit, it's about Apple no longer allowing extensibility. Next year's version of macOS won't support third-party codecs at all, so converting 32-bit codecs to 64-bit isn't a solution. A codec is a central piece of code that handles reading and writing to a particular format. Now instead of using that central code for free with no extra effort, every app needs to create its own version of that code.


Apple Reportedly Mulls Chromecast-like Dongle To Help Spread Adoption Of Upcoming TV Show Service, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

Apple is apparently considering new avenues for how to spread the reach of its upcoming original content TV show service, via The Information. The report says Apple is toying with the idea of making a cheap TV dongle similar to the Chromecast or Amazon Fire TV Stick.

How An iPhone And A Hairy Hamster Create Magic Movie Sound, by Richard Trenholm, CNET

"Yeah, it's amazing, I actually do. I've got this little connector that goes in the bottom of the iPhone to plug in a professional field microphone. I record straight into a Rode app, and that delivers to SoundCloud the minute you stop recording. So I'll often have an assistant or a sound editor go out into the field to record something we need, and literally as they're recording it they hit stop, they give me a ring in the studio, and via iCloud or Dropbox it will appear on my computer. I put it in the timeline and have a listen there and then and you can [ask the person in the field] "Can you do that a bit slower?" That's enormously powerful because it takes a day and a night out of the turnaround of developing sound. And of course, you can bring an iPad [when recording] and have a look at the shot [from the film] that you're going to recreate."

The Case For Slowing Everything Down A Bit, byEzra Klein, Vox

And yet the world is full of friction that we recognize as valuable, much of it enforced by laws and regulations. Seatbelts in cars, restrictions on opioid prescriptions, banisters on stairwells. Silicon Valley, however, has developed a culture that prizes our instant impulses and erases the space we use to question them. And the result is, well, the world we live in. Trump isn’t just the president, he’s also the perfect symbol of our age — a frictionless id; a Twitter account in human form; a man devoid of the shame, social caution, and second thoughts that curb most people’s worst impulses.

“The internet is facing real challenges on many fronts,” Google’s Kosslyn concludes. “If we truly want to solve them, engineers, designers, and product architects could all benefit from the thoughtful application of friction.”

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I try to do Inbox Zero, and I will transform emails to to-dos in my task manager.

But it is tempting to just use the Inbox as a to-do list. I do keep emails in my Inbox for tasks that, even though I cannot finish within the next one or two minutes, can probably be done before the end of the day. I also keep emails in my Inbox for stuff that I wanted to be reminded of the first thing in the following morning.


Thanks for reading.

The Curiosity-and-Focus Edition Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Apple Designer Jony Ive Has Explained How ‘Teetering Towards The Absurd’ Helped Him Make The iPhone, by David Phelan, Independent

"There is a fundamental conflict between two very different ways of thinking. It is the conflict between curiosity and the resolve and focus that is necessary to solve problems. Curiosity, while it fuels and motivates, despite being utterly fundamental to the generation of ideas, in isolation just culminates in lots of long lists, perhaps some ideas, but alone that's sort of where it ends.

"The necessary resolve to find solutions to the problems that stand between a tentative thought and something substantial, that resolve and that focus very often seems in direct conflict with most creative behaviour. Honestly, I can't think of two ways of working, two different ways of being, that are more polar. On one hand to be constantly questioning, loving surprises, consumed with curiosity and yet on the other hand having to be utterly driven and completely focused to solve apparently insurmountable problems, even if those solutions are without precedent or reference. And so, of course, this is where it becomes sort of ironic and teeters towards the utterly absurd."

Apple’s New Holiday Ad Is A Heartwarming, Pixar-inspired Animated Short, by Julia Alexander, The Verge

Apple’s holiday commercials are an annual tradition, designed to evoke the strongest of emotions in those who watch the lengthy ads play out.

This year’s commercial manages to accomplish that feat, but it looks a little different: it’s fully animated. The commercial feels more like a Disney Pixar short, or a Coca-Cola ad than it does a traditional Apple commercial. There isn’t too much product placement from the company save for a MacBook covered in personalized stickers that appears from time to time over the course of two-and-a-half minutes.

iPads For Pilots Take The Pain Out Of Prepwork, by Aloysius Low, CNET

There's flying hours to keep track of, visas that may be expiring, minor defects in the next plane to know, who you're flying with, potential weather problems as well as other administrative tasks that need to be done.

But Singapore Airlines wants to change that for its pilots -- and it's leveraging Apple's iPad to do so to make the "pilot duty process" easier for its frequent flyers. The airline started looking into this back in 2015, before rolling out iPads loaded with two essential custom apps, FlyNow and Roster. These iPads are secured with Apple's TouchID, letting them ditch the previously used two-factor authentication dongles pilots had to carry around. That's on top of the other apps that give pilots detailed weather information and flight charting information.


Google Assistant Just Got Much Better And More Convenient On iOS Thanks To Siri Shortcuts, by Chris Wlech, The Verge

You can already add an Assistant widget to the left of your home screen (or lock screen). And with an update released today, Google Assistant is introducing support for Siri Shortcuts.

So you can record a phrase like the usual “OK Google” or “Hey Google” and from then on, whenever you say that to Siri, the Assistant app will open and immediately start listening for your question or command.

MusicHarbor Lets You Follow Apple Music Artists And Track Album Releases, by Bradley Chambers, 9to5Mac

It’s a free app that allows you to import your saved artists from Apple Music, and then gives you a list of upcoming albums.

Olloclip Launches Connect X Lens Clips For iPhone XS, XS Max, And XR, Works With 10 Lenses, by Michael Potuck, 9to5Mac

The new Olloclip Connect X clips are custom designed to fit the exact specifications of the 2018 iPhone lineup.


Apple Reportedly In Talks To Give Veterans Access To Medical Records On iPhones, by Steven Musil, CNET

Apple would create software tools to allow the VA's 9 million veterans to transfer their electronic health records to iPhones under the plans being discussed, the [Wall Street Journal] reported.

Apple Reportedly Acquires Privacy-focused Artificial Intelligence Startup ‘Silk Labs’, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Apple has made another acquisition in the artificial intelligence business, a new report claims. According to The Information, Apple quietly acquired Silk Labs, an artificial intelligence startup focused on “software lightweight enough to fit onto consumer hardware like cameras.”

Data Advocacy Group Calls On Apple, Google, And Uber To Share Mapping Data With Rivals, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

A data advocacy group is pushing for regulation in the United Kingdom that would require companies like Apple, Google, and Uber to share their respective mapping data. The report explains that “data monopolies” in the U.K. are preventing younger, smaller companies from innovation.

Targeted Advertising Is Ruining The Internet And Breaking The World, by Nathalie Maréchal, Motherboard

Zuboff predicts that if left unchecked, surveillance capitalism will be just as destructive as previous variants of capitalism have been, though in wholly new ways. “We are talking about the unilateral claiming of private human experience as raw material for product development and market exchange," she said. "Industrial capitalism claimed nature for itself, and only now are we faced with the consequences of that undertaking. In this new phase of capitalism’s development, it’s the raw material of human nature that drives a new market dynamic, in which predictions of our behavior are told and then sold. The economic imperatives of this new capitalism produce extreme asymmetries of knowledge and the power that accrues from that knowledge. This is unprecedented territory with profound consequences for 21st century society.”

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Happy thanksgiving, and happy sharing.


Thanks for reading.

The Easy-to-Discover Edition Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Amazement At iOS Cursor Movement Shortcut Says A Lot About Discoverability, by Dan Moren, Six Colors

This points to a larger, more fundamental issue cropping up with iOS as the platform becomes more mature: how do you add functionality and make it easily discoverable?

Some of the challenge here is simply because of iOS’s constraints: Where on the smaller screen can you add more features that would be easy to discover? But another challenge is how the OS is architected. The Mac nearly always treated the menu bar as a “safe” zone to which you could always retreat if you needed to find a command. There’s no real analogue to that on iOS, with the exception perhaps of the status bar, which isn’t, aside from the aforementioned “jump to the top” feature, an interactive element.

For Apple Users Without Latest Security Updates, The Letter 'D' Is Not Always The Letter 'D', by Catalin Cimpanu, , ZDNet

This might sound like a non-issue, but it's actually a very important problem that all Apple users who don't run the latest OS software need to be aware of, as they could fall victims to what security researchers call "IDN homograph attacks."

IDN homograph attacks happen when someone registers a domain using Unicode characters that look like standard Latin letters, but they are not. For example, coinḃ is an IDM homograph attack for (notice the dot above the letter b).


New iPad Pro Ad Hammers Home Apple's Ongoing Laptop Replacement Theme, by Roger Fingas, AppleInsider

The new ad would seem to be a reversal, embracing the "computer" label in order to be seen as serious hardware. That approach is also reflected to an extent in the new Pro's design, since it now uses USB-C instead of Lightning, opening up compatible accessories.

Google Photos For iOS Adds Portrait Depth Editing, by Chris Welch, The Verge

For any portrait images you’ve taken, you can adjust the blur and also tap to change the focus area of those shots.

Google seems to be doing its own processing when you move the depth slider around; the results are noticeably different — in some cases, better — than what I get with Apple’s Photos app.

RAW Power Is Even More Powerful For Editing Photos On Mac, iOS, by David Pierini, Cult of Mac

RAW Power 2.0 brings new adjustments for chromatic aberration, perspective, a monochrome mixer and a new set of features that deepen the richness of photos called Enhance.

Users of RAW Power for Mac will be especially happy to see a time-saving batch editing feature. Working in a grid of photos, the user can apply presets, paste adjustments and generate JPEG previews of RAW files for multiples photos at a time.

The Reason Tumblr Vanished From The App Store: Child Pornography That Slipped Through The Filters, by Lance Whitney, CNET

Through independent sources, learned that the app was removed due to child pornography that got past the site's filters.


Meetings Should Be Shorter, by Katie Heaney, The Cut

A meeting you don’t want to go to is a meeting you don’t want to go to, no matter how long, but I see Rogelberg’s point — applying just a little timed pressure makes what’s important rise to the surface. And in the all too common event of back-to-back meetings, building in a little break between allows employees to take a bathroom break, get a snack, or (as the case may be) make a quick trip to the wellness room to cool one’s temper in peace.

The Key To Workplace Productivity Is Not An App, by Simone Stolzoff, Quartz

When she thinks about the way that she manages productivity in her own life, the two “hacks” that come to mind are staying hydrated and making sure she moves around. In her mind, productivity apps are great—indeed, she’s spent the majority of her career building them—but real productivity comes from a healthy and balanced life.

“People talk about productivity like it’s all about numbers and lines of code, but real productivity is about the feeling you get when you close the laptop for the day,” says Moah. “I go home happy when I feel accomplished.”


How To Control A Machine With Your Brain, by Raffi Khatchadourian, , New Yorker

The human animal is a creature of movement. For each of us, the gift of consciousness resides in a cellular vehicle, made from bone and blood, skin and fat, and driven by muscles—a body, as Walt Whitman put it, “cunning in tendon and nerve.” One cardiac muscle and countless smooth visceral muscles operate automatically within—the unseen engines of life. They are joined by hundreds of skeletal muscles, which can be commanded to run marathons, to perform music, to write, to speak.

How the mind instructs the body to move is a mystery that has preoccupied Andrew Schwartz, a neuroscientist at the University of Pittsburgh, for more than three decades. It might seem reasonable to expect that a relationship so fundamental would by now be known, but the chain of events that connect the firing of neurons to, say, a punch to the nose remains the subject of pitched scientific controversy.

Amazon, Apple And Facebook Once Led The Market. Now They Are Driving It Down., by Matt Phillips, New York Times

Investors’ faith has been eroded by slowing growth and a trade war with China, as well as a steady stream of revelations about privacy lapses, security issues and mismanagement. If tech stocks cannot shake the fears, the rest of the market could feel the pain.

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I broadly divided the list of podcasts that I subscribe to into three categories. Firstly, there are podcasts that I want to listen immediately when there are new episodes, either because I really enjoy the podcasts, or that, like news, the episodes only make listening sense when they are fresh.

Then, there are podcasts that I will want to listen eventually. And finally, there are podcasts that I will listen when there are nothing else to listen.

So far, I have not find a podcast player that fit my categrization.


Thanks for reading.

The Long-Way-to-Helping Edition Monday, November 19, 2018

Tim Cook Defends Using Google As Primary Search Engine On Apple Devices, by Valentina Palladino, Ars Technica

"I think their search engine is the best," Cook said in the interview. He followed up by diving into privacy features Apple has implemented in its Safari browser.

"Look at what we've done with the controls we've built in," Cook stated. "We have private web browsing. We have an intelligent tracker prevention. What we've tried to do is come up with ways to help our users through their course of the day. It's not a perfect thing. I'd be the very first person to say that. But it goes a long way to helping."

Tim Cook: Tech Hasn’t Done Enough To Push Gender Diversity, by Luke Dormehl, Cult of Mac

“I think the Valley has been open and accepting to many different people from different walks of life,” Cook said, regarding encouraging more gender diversity in tech. “But I agree 100 percent from a gender point of view that the Valley has missed it and tech in general has missed it. I know we spend a lot of energy on this and are constantly asking ourselves, ‘How can we improve more?’ and listening to what our folks tell us. I’ve got to believe other people are doing this too. I’m actually encouraged at this point that there will be a more marked improvement over time.”

Apple's Tim Cook Says Regulation Of Silicon Valley Is 'Inevitable', by Claire Reilly, CNET

"Generally speaking, I am not a big fan of regulation," he said from the company's headquarters in Cupertino, California. "I'm a big believer in the free market. But we have to admit when the free market is not working. And it hasn't worked here. And I think it's inevitable that there will be some level of regulation."

It's the big question facing Silicon Valley as tech giants such as Apple, Facebook and Google wrestle with their role in shaping modern society. From building the devices and services we use (and overuse) every day, to determining how we access news and even how we engage with democracy -- these companies are no longer just upstarts operating out of a garage.

Virus Checker

5 macOS Vulnerabilities That Shouldn’t Be Overlooked, by Milena Dimitrova, Sensors Tech Forum

macOS is generally believed to be bulletproof against malware attacks. Unfortunately, statistics reveal a different picture where Apple’s operating system is often found vulnerable. For instance, in 2017 security researchers detected an increase of 28.83 percent of total reported security flaws in comparison with 2016.

And even though the total number of vulnerabilities is lower in 2018 than in the two previous years, the number of active malware campaigns against Macs is growing. Macs are frequently endangered by potentially unwanted programs such as


Windows 10 October 2018 Update Temporarily Blocked On PCs With Incompatible iCloud, by Mayank Parmar, Windows Latest

In an updated support document, Microsoft says that Apple has identified incompatibility issues with iCloud for Windows (version In Windows 10 October 2018 Update, the iCloud users may experience unexpected issues while syncing Shared Albums.

To ensure that experience is as smooth as possible, the company has blocked the Windows 10 October 2018 Update on devices that have the incompatible version of iCloud installed.

Tumblr Is Missing From Apple’s App Store, by Andrew Liptak, The Verge

Tumblr’s iOS app is missing from Apple’s App Store. Tumblr says that it is “working to resolve an issue with the iOS app,” but it’s not clear if the app is missing from the store because it was removed by Apple, or by Tumblr itself.

Apple Is Deleting All WhatsApp Stickers Apps From App Store: Report, by Indian Express

Following the roll out, several apps that let users create their own stickers as well as apps for sticker packs in regional language or more related apps popped up on App Store as well as App Store. Now, it looks like Apple is deleting such apps. An official statement from the company is awaited.


Pivot Or Fail?, by Fred Wilson, A VC

I understand the argument that starting a new company by pivoting with cash in the bank and a team that is already built is attractive and giving those back and starting over from scratch is harder. But the harder path is often the best path. And the easy path is often the harder one.

If you were able to do a startup from scratch once, I would imagine you can do it again. And doing it again allows you to keep a lot more of the new company and custom build it from scratch, putting together the ideal team and the ideal investor group.

Why Scaring People Into Saving For Retirement Doesn’t Work, by Jeff Kreisler, Quartz

Another behavioral principle that explains why we collectively fail to save for retirement is known as the “pain of paying.” When we hand over money, it stimulates the same region of our brain as physical pain. This is good. It makes us stop and think about whether we’re making the best financial decision. But instead of embracing this pain and using it to spend more consciously, we numb it. From credit cards to Amazon Go to EZ-Pass to whatever that terrible thing is where you walk through a bazar and look at your phone and get a fancy hat, FinTech has evolved with the goal of reducing the pain of paying. This has been done with the goal of making spending easier, which isn’t always a good thing. We should try to avoid—as much as possible—the latest financial technology just because it’s “cool” or “easy,” or at least force ourselves to think about our spending on these platforms. At the same time, we can seek out those products and services—like Acorns, Stash, Betterment —that use a reduction in the pain of paying to making savings easier. That’s a good use of our biases.

These ideas are just the beginning of what is possible when we accept that humans are inherently bad at saving and planning for the future.


50 Years In Tech. Part 10: Hard Landing In Cupertino. Steve Jobs Gets Fired., by Jean-Louis Gassée, Monday Note

Back to 1985, I found myself in a dangerous, paradoxical position. I, too, lacked experience. I had never run an engineering organization, my knowledge of computer technology was largely acquired on the job and on weekends torturing hardware and software. And yet, I was given the reins to Apple’s engineering organization. I benefited from the fact that no one on the exec team had computer engineering experience, many coming instead from the consumer goods industry, companies such as Pepsi, J. Walter Thompson, and Playtex.

Worse, I inherited two large organizations that hated one another.

What If Your House Is Too Ugly To Be Smart?, by Kaithlyn Tiffany, Vox

I am interested in a future in which small homes in overcrowded cities are more livable and people who might not be physically equipped to haul their furniture around all the time do not have to. Yet something I think about every time a large new smart home device or otherwise high-tech piece of furniture hits the trade publications and gadget blogs is would this look bad in any house that doesn’t look like it could also be a Muji store? Would this look really bad in, for example, my house?

Nobody cares and nobody should, but my house is hideous. It’s what they call a good deal in a great location: It’s a creaking, disintegrating three-bedroom apartment with two roommates, two cats, a boiler that breaks like clockwork each November, windows that are itching to fall out of their frames, and hardwood floors coated in a hearty, nearly sentient layer of grime that I don’t know if I’m technically or emotionally equipped to deal with.

From Sexuality To Size: Women Find Their Voice Through Podcasts, by Lin Taylor, Thomson Reuters Foundation

Unlike in traditional media, the rules in podcasting are still being written, Wang said, and most people can get their voices heard regardless of their gender or background.

"At its core, it is much more democratic. If you have an idea, a voice, a phone or microphone and access to the internet, it's so simple," Wang said.

The Could-Not-Be-Salvaged Edition Sunday, November 18, 2018

How Apple Tricked Me Into Buying A New MacBook Air, by Stan Beer, ITWire

So for $175 I got my computer completely fixed after being told both Apple and an Authorised Apple repairer that it could not be salvaged. Furthermore, I subsequently discovered through online enquiry that this particular keyboard had a design fault and that I was not to blame at all for the damage. I had been tricked into buying a new computer needlessly.

Inside Apple's Humans-first, Tech Second News Platform, by John McDuling, Sydney Morning Herald

On one of the lower floors of a skyscraper adjacent to Sydney's Martin Place, a small team of editors sift through story pitches from some of the country’s best known publications, and decide whether to promote them to millions of potential readers.

This the Australian outpost of Apple News, the aggregation platform launched by the iPhone maker back in 2015, which has become an increasingly important source of traffic for many publishers.

Is The Mac Dead In K-12 Education?, by Bradley Chambers, 9to5Mac

The Mac is a “heavy” device where iPad and ChromeOS are “light.” For students, I can’t think of something they would need a Mac for that they couldn’t do on either iPad or a Chromebook.


Weather Up’s App Can Give You Forecasts For Your Calendar Event, by Sarah Perez, TechCrunch

There are plenty of weather apps to choose from on the App Store, but the newly released Weather Up app is doing something different. Instead of just offering the daily weather, it will now offer Event Forecasts — meaning forecasts that sync with your calendars so you can see what the weather will be for your upcoming appointments and various events.


Executing AppleScript In A Mac App On macOS Mojave And Dealing With AppleEvent Sandboxing, by Jesse Squires

Over a weekend recently I built a tiny Mac app (more on that later). What I was trying to achieve required executing AppleScript, like so many things on macOS. It seemed simple enough, but of course new app sandboxing restrictions in macOS Mojave got in the way.

Please Stop Telling Me To Leave My Comfort Zone, by Melody Wilding, The Guardian

In a world of increasing demands on our time and attention, our comfort zones act as predictable spaces of mastery where we can seek refuge when the stress becomes too much. They act as containers to shore up confidence, gain momentum, and think clearly. When we spend less time grappling with discomfort, we can focus more on what matters most. If the people who routinely push themselves past their comfort zones are metaphorically skydiving out of airplanes, those of us who choose to operate from within our comfort zones are serenely laying bricks, creating a home we can thrive in.


Targeted Advertising Is Ruining The Internet And Breaking The World, by Nathalie Maréchal, Motherboard

Zuboff’s new book, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontiers of Power, examines surveillance capitalism’s 20-year history, from the birth of online advertising in the late 1990s to today’s era of democratic regression. "Surveillance capitalism was invented in the context of targeted advertising," she said. "This was the material, historical context in which it originated in a moment of financial emergency during the dotcom bust. Google was a fledgling firm, and its investors were threatening to bail– in spite of its superior search product. That's when Google turned to previously discarded and ignored data logs and repurposed them as a 'behavioral surplus.' Instead of being used for product improvement, these behavioral data were directed toward an entirely new goal: predicting user behavior."

Zuboff predicts that if left unchecked, surveillance capitalism will be just as destructive as previous variants of capitalism have been, though in wholly new ways. “We are talking about the unilateral claiming of private human experience as raw material for product development and market exchange," she said. "Industrial capitalism claimed nature for itself, and only now are we faced with the consequences of that undertaking. In this new phase of capitalism’s development, it’s the raw material of human nature that drives a new market dynamic, in which predictions of our behavior are told and then sold. The economic imperatives of this new capitalism produce extreme asymmetries of knowledge and the power that accrues from that knowledge. This is unprecedented territory with profound consequences for 21st century society.”

Computers Have Learned To Make Us Jump Through Hoops, by John Naughton, The Guardian

But, as the machine-learning Captcha (not to mention the business models of Google and Facebook) demonstrate, a significant proportion of digital tech now sees (and uses) humans as means to ends that are not ours. In the process, they reduce us to the status of cheery rats running on treadmills designed by people who do not have our interests at heart.

You Know What? Go Ahead And Use The Hotel Wi-Fi, by Brian Barrett, Wired

As you travel this holiday season, bouncing from airport to airplane to hotel, you’ll likely find yourself facing a familiar quandary: Do I really trust this random public Wi-Fi network? As recently as a couple of years ago, the answer was almost certainly a resounding no. But in the year of our lord 2018? Friend, go for it.

This advice comes with plenty of qualifiers. If you’re planning to commit crimes online at the Holiday Inn Express, or to visit websites that you’d rather people not know you frequented, you need to take precautionary steps that we’ll get to in a minute. Likewise, if you’re a high-value target of a sophisticated nation state—look at you!—stay off of public Wi-Fi at all costs. (Also, you’ve probably already been hacked some other way, sorry.)

But for the rest of us? You’re probably OK. That’s not because hotel and airport Wi-Fi networks have necessarily gotten that much more secure. The web itself has.

Bottom of the Page

I've hit a snag in my pursue of moving my day-to-day activities from the Mac to the iPad: websites that insist on giving me a watered-down mobile version. I know I can long-press the refresh button to get the desktop version, but I really don't want to do that everytime I visit these websites.

This browser user-agent thing has been getting useless in a world where every browser pretends to be Mozilla 5.0. All browser makers should just get together and agree to abandon the user-agent string.


Thanks for reading.

The Benefits-Galore Edition Saturday, November 17, 2018

How Apple Is Suddenly A Player In An Unlikely Hollywood Realm, by Steven Zeitchik, Washington Post

It has become a flimsy trope to say a strategic partnership gives every side what it needs, only to later find the only thing it gave any side is debt and agita. Didn’t pundits make similar boasts about AOL and Time Warner?

But A24 and Apple, because it marks a marriage of such different partners, really seems to offer benefits galore. Cachet, reach, money, an industry fast-track. Everyone here is getting something that helps them. And, even more critical, that they can’t easily get anywhere else.

How Apple And Other Manufacturers Attack Your Right To Repair Their Products, by Michael Hiltzilk, Los Angeles Times

In the old days, the television repairman was a popular member of American society — the guy who would come to your house, stick his hands in the innards of any manufacturer’s TV set and find the burned-out tubes needing replacement. Our throwaway culture has made such figures into historical relics, at our expense and at the price of filling landfills with mountains of electronic trash. The right to repair movement wants to bring them back, and neither Apple nor Amazon should be permitted to get in its way.


Apple Mac Mini Review (2018): A Video Editor’s Perspective, by Christopher Schodt, Engadget

For music producers and people writing apps in Xcode, maybe the new Mini makes sense, but I don't imagine most other "pro" users will be happy with this level of performance. I can't help but shake my head at Apple's charts and graphics showing off how much faster the new Mini is than the 2014 model. Not only do a lot of the benchmarks they've published only highlight CPU intensive tasks (rendering in Keyshot, exporting from Final Cut) instead of actual workflows, but they're also comparing a $4,300 2018 Mini with a six-core processor and 64GB of RAM to a 2014 machine that couldn't even beat its own 2012 predecessor. Four years later, I'd certainly hope the new model would be faster.

Maybe this highlights the best professional use case for the new mini. A rendering machine that can handle CPU intensive tasks like compiling code and rendering graphics, but that you wouldn't actually want to do your daily work on. When Apple unveiled the Mini, it floated the idea of chaining multiple Minis together into a "Mini" server, and for serious CPU-based number crunching, that's actually an intriguing idea. Four Mac Minis upgraded to an i7 and 16GB of RAM would get you 24 cores with 48 threads and 64GB of memory for only $200 more than the eight-core iMac Pro. You would need a pretty specific workload to take advantage of a setup like this (office server? Code compiler? Render farm?), but it's an interesting concept.

This AR Story App Aims To Immerse Kids In The World Around Them, by Marty Swant, AdWeek

Wonderscope encourages viewers to follow the characters as they walk across a floor or bed or fly around a room. A viewer can lean in closer to the action or back up to take it all in while also talking with the characters themselves using the app’s voice-recognition technology. The first few stories are around eight or nine minutes but could vary depending on how quickly a viewer wants to travel along the storyline or its surrounding landscape.

A Dark Room On Your iPad, by Paisal Chuenprasaeng, The Nation

Pixelmator is an app that lets you easily retouch your photos and enhance them by sketching or painting using the Apple Pencil on an iPad Pro.

Several templates are provided, allowing you to create stunning collages or add beautiful frames to your photos. For example, you can add a blurred edge frame or a round-corner frame to a snap you particularly like.


Microsoft Deprecating HockeyApp Multi-platform Development Tool, Gives Devs One Year To Transition, by Michael Potuck, 9to5Mac

Microsoft encourages developers to make the switch sooner than the November 2019 deadline which includes some App Center exclusive features like iOS auto-provisioning, handled errors, integration with public app stores, and more.

The Promise Of (Practically) ‘Serverless Computing’, by Klint Finley, Wired

Lowery and Ferguson liken serverless computing today to "object-oriented programming," which made it easier for software developers to reuse code, in the 1980s. It took time for developers to learn the new approach, and for the tools and other resources to mature. By the 1990s, though, it became the default, but not exclusive, approach to programming. They think serverless will follow a similar path.


A Smarter Way To Think About Intelligent Machines, by Ed Finn, New York Times

If we spend all of our time looking over our shoulders for killer robots, that means we are not looking ahead to discern the outcomes we might actually want. A study of A.I. representations in film and television by Christopher Noessel underscores the problem: We have lots of stories about the power and the duplicitous nature of A.I., but almost none exploring what he calls the “Untold A.I.” themes: accountability, effective policy and broad literacy around these technologies.

To thrive in the era of intelligent machines, we need to expand our thinking. Instead of worrying about godlike super-machines, we should tell better stories about all the everyday ways A.I. is already changing the world.

The Smartphone-Landscape Edition Friday, November 16, 2018

The Ubiquity Of Smartphones, As Captured By Photographers, by Alan Taylor, The Atlantic

According to reports issued by several market-research firms, including Forrester Research, the total number of smartphone users worldwide will reach 3 billion this year—40 percent of the human population. For many, these versatile handheld devices have become indispensable tools, providing connections to loved ones, entertainment, business applications, shopping opportunities, windows into the greater world of social media, news, history, education, and more. And of course, they can always be put to use for a quick selfie. With so many devices in so many hands now, the visual landscape has changed greatly, making it a rare event to find oneself in a group of people anywhere in the world and not see at least one of them using a phone. Collected here: a look at that smartphone landscape, and some of the stories of the phones’ owners.

The Best Tool For Creativity On Your iPhone Might Just Be The Notes App, by Aude White, Vulture

"It’s really more about getting some creativity out during a long day. You might’ve forgotten your sketchbook or pen, but you probably haven’t forgotten your iPhone (hopefully!), so you can still get that creativity out."

Back to the Future

A Look Back At The Original iPad Mini, by Stephen Hackett, MacStories

Today, the iPad mini feels a little forgotten. The iPad has fallen in price, now starting at the mini's original price point of $329. The iPad mini 4, powered by the Apple A8, was announced in September 2016 and is offered at $399 for 128 GB of storage. It lacks almost all modern iPad features, but recent rumors say a new model could arrive next year.

As iPhones have gotten bigger and the entry-level iPad has become more capable, the iPad mini has been squeezed on both sides. Does it still have enough ground to deserve a refresh in 2019?

Why The MacBook Air Might Spell The End Of Configurable Macs, by Jason Snell, Macworld

What does shopping for a Mac look like if all you can choose is how much storage and how big your display is? A lot like shopping for an iPad. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, especially when you consider that Apple is currently making six different laptop models. Even if it cuts that number down a bit, it’s quite likely that the company will offer choices. Even if the MacBook Pro were to end up with an ARM processor, I’d imagine that Apple will do what it does now—namely offer a few different variations with a mix of features at various price points. You may not be able to configure a faster processor in a future ARM MacBook Pro, but Apple may just offer a faster model for a higher price.

Is the MacBook Air’s single processor option the future of the Mac? I’m not sure even Apple knows for sure—after all, it sure feels like Apple wasn’t even planning on bringing the the MacBook Air back before a year or two ago. But if I had to guess, I’d predict that the days of configuring which processor you want in your new Mac are numbered.


‘Shot On iPhone XR’ Campaign Showcases Spectacular Images, by Ed Hardy, Cult of Mac

The iPhone XR camera isn’t as advanced as the one in Apple’s pricier XS series, but you’d be hard pressed to see the difference in some stunning images Apple is showing off today.

These pictures were contributed to the “Shot on iPhone” campaign that highlights what these phones can do.

Apple Mac Mini 2018 Review: The Mini Gets Mighty And Pricey, by Nick Statt, The Verge

Once upon a time, the Mac mini was a way to get Apple’s desktop software on the cheap, if you only cared really about browsing the web, managing files and media, and enjoying the cross-platform benefits of using macOS and iOS. The new Mac mini demands you treat it like a proper computer, with a price to match, and that will understandably push some percentage of old mini owners toward settling for a Chromebook or simply an iPad for most at-home computing needs.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy this machine, especially if you really do want a clean and uncluttered home workstation with a full mouse and keyboard setup. This device is powerful, compact, and everything a power user would want the Mac mini to be. Plus, it gives you the freedom to buy the peripherals you want at the price you’re comfortable with, so long as you’re okay starting at that $799 base price and shelling out for more speed, memory, and storage. For a certain type of Mac user, myself included, the new Mac mini strikes a solid balance. But it’s no longer the budget machine so many fell in love with.

Apple’s Final Cut Pro X Just Got A Big Update — Here’s What’s New, by Greg Kumparak, TechCrunch

While much of FCPX is getting polished up in this release, the biggest change is what it allows for moving forward: workflow extensions. These extensions allow third-party apps and services to hook right into FCPX and build on top of the native interface and functionality.

Apple partnered with three companies to build out extensions for launch day

Panic’s Transmit Returns To The Mac App Store, by John Vorhees, MacStories

By targeting two very different types of users, the Mac App Store gives Panic a simple end-to-end solution to reach a new set of short-term users who might not have been willing to pay the up front cost of the app before. Meanwhile, the paid-up-front option is still available for heavy users. This is a model that I could see working well for many pro-level apps.


5 Ways Smart People Sabotage Their Success, by Alice Boyes, Harvard Business Review

Mark was always one of the smartest kids in his class. He’s done well in his career, but when he checks Facebook, he sees people he outperformed at school who have now achieved more. Likewise, there are colleagues at his firm who have leapfrogged him. Sometimes he wonders, “What am I doing wrong?”

Sound familiar? You might relate to Mark yourself, or have an employee or loved one who struggles with similar feelings. Raw intelligence is undoubtedly a huge asset, but it isn’t everything. And sometimes, when intellectually gifted people don’t achieve as much as they’d like to, it’s because they’re subtly undermining themselves. If you’re in this situation, the good news is that when you understand these foibles you can turn them around. Here are five I’ve seen smart people particularly struggle with.


The Case Against Quantum Computing, by Mikhail Dyakonov, IEEE Spectrum

We’ve been told that quantum computers could “provide breakthroughs in many disciplines, including materials and drug discovery, the optimization of complex manmade systems, and artificial intelligence.” We’ve been assured that quantum computers will “forever alter our economic, industrial, academic, and societal landscape.” We’ve even been told that “the encryption that protects the world’s most sensitive data may soon be broken” by quantum computers. It has gotten to the point where many researchers in various fields of physics feel obliged to justify whatever work they are doing by claiming that it has some relevance to quantum computing.


In light of all this, it’s natural to wonder: When will useful quantum computers be constructed? The most optimistic experts estimate it will take 5 to 10 years. More cautious ones predict 20 to 30 years. (Similar predictions have been voiced, by the way, for the last 20 years.) I belong to a tiny minority that answers, “Not in the foreseeable future.” Having spent decades conducting research in quantum and condensed-matter physics, I’ve developed my very pessimistic view. It’s based on an understanding of the gargantuan technical challenges that would have to be overcome to ever make quantum computing work.

The Behind-the-Scenes Edition Thursday, November 15, 2018

Apple Stores To Employ Human Trafficking Victims, by Leo Kelion, BBC

Apple has announced a programme to help human trafficking victims get behind-the-scenes jobs at its stores.

The technology company has teamed up with an NGO that will help the victims pass interviews for caretaker and landscaping posts among other roles.

The individuals will not be identified to Apple and will be employed by its suppliers rather than directly. But it intends to monitor the initiative.

The announcement coincides with the company winning the Stop Slavery Award.

Tim Cook To Receive ADL ‘Courage Against Hate’ Award, Serve As Event Keynote Speaker Next Month, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

The ADL says Cook has proven that a company can be vocal on social issues while also continuing to grow and innovate. The organization specifically points to things such as Cook’s stance on LGBTQ issues, his focus on charitable donations, and Apple’s ongoing partnership with (RED).

Smart Typing

iPad Diaries: Typing On The iPad Pro With The Smart Keyboard Folio, by Fedrico Viticci, MacStories

Keyboard recommendations are inherently subjective: iPad users have different needs, different priorities, and different budgets. If you value good portability, not having to worry about charging a keyboard, and, with this new iPad Pro, protection for the front and back of the iPad, the Smart Keyboard Folio is probably what you want to get, even though it's not cheap. If you liked the Smart Keyboard before, you're going to appreciate the versatility Apple added in this iteration.

Personally, I'd like Apple to provide its pro iPad customers with more options. I would happily trade some of the Smart Keyboard's portability for a larger, heavier keyboard with adjustable angles and extra functions that are natively integrated with iOS and apps. Maybe one day Apple will offer a Smart Keyboard Pro to cater to iPad Pro users like me; until that happens, I'm going to keep an eye out for promising alternatives based on Bluetooth and the new Smart Connector.

Review: Apple's Smart Keyboard Folio Is The Best Option For The iPad Pro, But Has Too Many Compromises, by Andrew O'Hara, AppleInsider

Regardless of all our complaints, the Smart Keyboard Folio remains the best typing experience on iPad. The keys are quick, responsive, and easy to type on. They aren't as satisfying as some dedicated keyboards, but once you adjust, you can touch type as quickly and as accurately as on your Mac.

Smart Photos

Your Smartphone Photos Are Totally Fake — And You Love It, by Geoffrey A. Fowler, Washington Post

Night Sight is a super step forward for smartphone photography — and an example of how our photos are becoming, well, super fake.

It’s true — you don’t look like your photos. Photography has never been just about capturing reality, but the latest phones are increasingly taking photos into uncharted territory.

For now, Night Sight is only a mode that pops up in dark shots on Google’s Pixel phones. But it’s hardly alone: All sorts of phonemakers brag about how awesome their photos look, not how realistic they are. The iPhone’s “portrait mode” applies made-up blur to backgrounds and identifies facial features to reduce red-eye. Selfies on phones popular in Asia automatically slim heads, brighten eyes and smooth skin. And most recent phones use a technique called HDR that merges multiple shots to produce a hyper-toned version of reality.


Safari Vulnerability Lets Hackers Swipe Recently Deleted Photos From iPhone X, by Mikey Campbell, AppleInsider

White-hat hackers Richard Zhu and Amat Cama at the Mobile Pwn2Own contest on Wednesday leveraged a previously unknown exploit that allowed the pair to extract a supposedly deleted photo from an iPhone X running the latest iOS 12.1.

Pocket Casts 7: A Host Of Improvements Make The App Feel Brand New, by Ryan Christoffel, MacStories

Pocket Casts 7 makes the podcast client feel modern again. It introduces a new design alongside important features like Siri shortcuts and AirPlay 2 support, Up Next syncing, episode search, Listening History, and a lot more. If you haven't given the app a try in a while, now is definitely the time to do so.

Review: Nomad Base Station + Apple Watch Is Painfully Close To An Ideal Charging Solution, by Andrew O'Hara, AppleInsider

Nomad's latest wireless charger integrates an Apple-certified charging puck to power almost all your gear in a central, and attractive, place.

Cortana’s Redesign Is Now Available For iOS, by Jon POrter, The Verge

As well as overhauling its interface, the update adds the ability for you to have “conversational experiences” with the voice assistant, listen to music and podcasts, and set up Cortana devices.


Apple's Safari Tests 'Not Secure' Warning For Unencrypted Websites, by Stephen Shankland, CNET

Apple's Safari team, following Chrome's lead, has begun warning people when they're visiting websites that aren't protected by HTTPS encryption.

The feature for now is only in Safari Technology Preview 70, a version of the web browser Apple uses to test technology it typically brings to the ordinary version of Safari. Apple released the update Wednesday.

When No One Retires, by Mark Smith, Harvard Business Review

Before our eyes, the world is undergoing a massive demographic transformation. In many countries, the population is getting old. Very old. Globally, the number of people age 60 and over is projected to double to more than 2 billion by 2050 and those 60 and over will outnumber children under the age of 5. In the United States, about 10,000 people turn 65 each day, and one in five Americans will be 65 or older by 2030. By 2035, Americans of retirement age will eclipse the number of people aged 18 and under for the first time in U.S. history.

The reasons for this age shift are many — medical advances that keep people healthier longer, dropping fertility rates, and so on — but the net result is the same: Populations around the world will look very different in the decades ahead.

Some in the public and private sector are already taking note — and sounding the alarm. In his first term as chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, with the Great Recession looming, Ben Bernanke remarked, “in the coming decades, many forces will shape our economy and our society, but in all likelihood no single factor will have as pervasive an effect as the aging of our population.” Back in 2010, Standard & Poor’s predicted that the biggest influence on “the future of national economic health, public finances, and policymaking” will be “the irreversible rate at which the world’s population is aging.”


Consumers Love Smart Speakers. They Don’t Love News Briefings On Smart Speakers. (At Least Not Yet.), by Laura Hazard Owen, NiemanLab

Use of the devices for music and weather is still far ahead of news use. And among consumers’ complaints about news briefings: They’re too long.

Unsubscribe Me!, by Lauren Larson, GQ

A subscription-free existence in this economy would be near impossible—a life without Game of Thrones is no life at all. So I've got a new rule: If I haven't used a subscription in a month, I unsubscribe. Simple as that. As for those annoyingly minuscule charges you'll pay in perpetuity? Well, that just might be the cost of being alive in the 21st century.

Bottom of the Page

Just finished watching the last season of House of Cards -- and, really, the story has gotten so bad that I didn't really care about the plot nor the characters. At this point, just because I've watched so many episodes already, I just wanted to finish it.

If you asked me what really happened in this last season, I really can't tell you much.


Thanks for reading.

The New-and-Different Edition Wednesday, November 14, 2018

iPad Pro 2018 Review: A Computer, Not A PC, by Jason Snell, Six Colors

But just because the iPad Pro needs to be taken as seriously as a computer doesn’t mean it should be judged as a PC. The iPad is not a computer, not as the term’s been defined for the past 40 years. It’s something new and different, and it excels in some ways that PCs don’t while also struggling to do some things that PCs do well.

No, the iPad Pro can’t do everything a PC can do—nor should we expect it to, because it’s not a PC. If you choose to use an iPad Pro rather than a MacBook or a Windows laptop, you are presumably doing so because some aspect of the iPad Pro makes it more appealing than those products. In other words, there’s something else it does better than those devices, making it worth the trade-off.

Better is to judge the iPad on what it is—and where its potential lies. While it’s misguided to consider the iPad’s path incomplete until it turns itself into a PC, it’s fair to ask if the spectacular hardware Apple’s developed here is being let down by its software.

Period-tracking Apps Are Not For Women, by Kaitlyn Tiffany, Vox

This app wasn’t designed for me. It wasn’t designed for anyone who wants to track their period or general reproductive health. The same is true of almost every menstruation-tracking app: They’re designed for marketers, for men, for hypothetical unborn children, and perhaps weirdest of all, a kind of voluntary surveillance stance.


“The design of these tools often doesn’t acknowledge the full range of women’s needs. There are strong assumptions built into their design that can marginalize a lot of women’s sexual health experiences,” Karen Levy, an assistant professor of information science at Cornell University, tells me in an email, after explaining that her period tracker couldn’t understand her pregnancy, “a several-hundred-day menstrual cycle.”


Three New Apple Watch Nike Sport And Sport Loop Band Colors Coming This Week, by Zac Hall, 9to5Mac

New Apple Watch Nike Sport band color choices will soon be available — at least for Nike Plus members. Nike revealed two new Nike Sport Loop bands and one new Nike Sport band that will be launching in a few days.

Microsoft Whiteboard For iPhone And iPad Gets First New Batch Of Features Since Launch, by Dan Thorp-Lancaster, Windows Central

Microsoft today rolled out the first major update to its Whiteboard collaboration app for iPhone and iPad since its initial launch in September. Several new features are coming along for the ride in this update, bringing a hand-drawn effect for recognized shapes, an Accessibility Checker to make sure your whiteboard is easy to read for everyone, and the ability to lock images to the background.

Spotify Debuts On Apple Watch, Promising Advanced Features Still To Come, by Ryan Christoffel, MacStories

Spotify's Watch app currently serves as a way to start playback of recently played music, and control that playback via play/pause, skip, and volume controls. You can also choose a connected device to send music to, and like a song to add it to your collection. And that's it.


How To Keep Your Job As Your Company Grows, by Steve Blank

If you’re an early employee at a startup, one day you will wake up to find that what you worked on 24/7 for the last year is no longer the most important thing – you’re no longer the most important employee, and process, meetings, paperwork and managers and bosses have shown up. Most painfully, you’ll learn that your role in the company has to change.

I’ve seen these transitions as an investor, board member and CEO. At times they are painful to watch and difficult to manage. Early in my career I lived it as an employee, and I handled it in the worst possible way.

Here’s what I wish I had known.

Things Nobody Told Me About Being A Software Engineer, by Ana Ulin

That writing code is only a small part of what goes into shipping production software.

Bottom of the Page

I am still using my iPad Pro 10.5 that I bought last year, and I am not tempted to replace it with this year's new and shiny model. And I intent to continue using this machine for quite a few more years, I hope.

Which means I now have to watch out for when Apple stops selling this iPad version. Because once Apple does that, I will have to buy one or two of its Smart Keyboard, just in case I wear out the current one that I have.

(Don't tell Apple, but I've gotten the smart keyboard wet, and it stopped working, but it came back to life after a few hours when it was dry.)


Thanks for reading.

The Certain-Components Edition Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Apple Confirms Its T2 Security Chip Blocks Some Third-party Repairs Of New Macs, by Nick Statt, The Verge

Apple confirmed to The Verge that this is the case for repairs involving certain components on newer Macs, like the logic board and Touch ID sensor, which is the first time the company has publicly acknowledged the tool’s use. But Apple could not provide a list of repairs that required this or what devices were affected. It also couldn’t say whether it began this protocol with the iMac Pro’s introduction last year or if it’s a new policy instituted recently.


Apple says that a vast majority of repairs can be conducted without needing the tool, and it’s certainly true that most Mac owners will never be in the position of needing to replace a logic board or Touch ID sensor on their own. Both components are parts Apple says only it distributes, while solid state drives on most modern Macs, like the new Mac mini, are not user replaceable because they are soldered either to other components or the housing unit.

Apple IDs Locked For Unknown Reasons For A Number Of iPhone Users, by Malcolm Owen, AppleInsider

A number of iPhone users have discovered their Apple ID has been locked on all of their Apple devices, preventing them from accessing stored data and related services, with the lockdowns occurring for seemingly unknown reasons.


Affected users are able to restore access to the account, by tapping "Unlock Account" on the Apple ID Locked popup and answering a number of security questions, or by going to Apple's account support page and following the instructions. Once validated, Apple asks users to set a password, then access to Apple ID-related services are restored.

The Big iPad, by Matt Gemmell

So, the note of caution: if anyone says that those regular, average, in-the-majority people can’t replace their laptops with an iPad, I’d be very suspicious. If I’d only “switched” to the iPad for a month, or only partially switched to it for a longer period, I might have said the same thing, and it wouldn’t have been true. Those kinds of reviews are really assessing whether you can immediately, nigh-effortlessly switch from a laptop to an iPad without having to adapt to the new device and find new workflows or apps for your common tasks. Unsurprisingly, the answer to that question is: no, probably not. Hopefully that’s obvious. They draw conclusions that are intellectually dishonest. Watch out for that.

Also, be extremely skeptical of anyone who makes a judgement about switching to an iPad when they haven’t actually done it themselves (this goes for most judgements about most things throughout life). This group includes the apparent majority of tech journalists, most of whom seem to have an annual ritual of spending one week with the newest iPad, and then saying it’s not a laptop replacement yet in some general sense. How would you even know? I certainly didn’t until six months or so in.

Voice Tech Like Alexa And Siri Hasn’t Found Its True Calling Yet: Inside The Voice Assistant ‘Revolution’, by Rani Molla, Recode

The key element is the voice assistant, regardless of what device it resides in. Smart assistants will creep into every aspect of our lives and will be available at home and away.

Some see a future in which stores and other public places are outfitted with voice assistants that will be able to recognize you and adapt their responses to your individual needs. For now voice assistants are still working on figuring out what you’re saying in the first place.

What we ultimately do with this surfeit of voice technology remains to be seen.


Swift Playgrounds For iPad Adds Improved Third-party Content Integration, More, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Apple explains that today’s update makes it easier to discover and download content from third-parties directly within the Swift Playgrounds app. The ability to access content from third-parties was originally introduced earlier this year and it allows users to subscribe to playgrounds from other creators.

How To Take Better Photos On Your Phone, by Pia Ceres, Wired

Today, Hernandez shoots with a Google Pixel, the iPhone XS, and the 2016 iPhone SE, which he likes for its smaller size. The simplicity of mobile phones, he says, lets people focus on the most important in a photo: the moment, the subject, and the story.

Many other pro photographers have similarly turned to smartphones to get their shots. We spoke with some of them to get their tips, advice, and app recommendations for taking and editing fantastic photos with your 12 megapixel shooters. The bottom line? Pick the editing tools that fit your needs, and take advantage of spontaneity, and don't sweat it if your phone is a few years old. The ability to take photos anytime, anywhere, is the greatest advantage—even on last year's phone.

Twelve South Journal For MacBook Air And Pro Launches As A Luxury Leather Case Alongside Journal Caddysack For Accessories, by Michael Potuck, 9to5Mac

With the option to use your MacBook while it’s in the case or easily remove it, the beautiful zippered, leather case offers a nice blend of function and form.


Why We Dread New Software Updates, by Angela Lashbrook, Medium

Ultimately, as annoying and potentially risky as software update notifications are, it’s considerably more dangerous to leave your software out of date. Developers push updates in response to discovering vulnerabilities, so if you don’t update, you’re potentially putting your computer or phone at risk of being hacked.

Yet, it’s undeniable that the current system doesn’t quite work, at least where apps are concerned. Research shows that push notifications trigger a majority of app uninstalls, which could be bad for business. And further studies found that even people who identify as software developers or IT professionals often neglect to update their software, and that timing certainly plays a role: If an update notification comes while you’re watching a video or doing work, you’re liable to ignore it.

Google, Facebook, And Amazon Benefit From An Outdated Definition Of “Monopoly”, by Denise Hearn, Quartz

For decades the standard for evaluating whether to break up monopolies, or block the mergers that create them, has been “consumer welfare.” And this consumer welfare standard has predominantly been interpreted as low prices. If companies can show that a merger or acquisition would not impact prices, for the most part, they win approval.

But in the context of technology companies—which often offer “free” platforms and instead sell user attention as their product—this low-prices-focused paradigm makes no sense.

The Simple Joy Of “No Phones Allowed”, by David Smith Swanson, Raptitude

I imagine that in another decade or two we’ll look at 2010s-era device use something like we do now with cigarette smoking. I was born in 1980, and I remember smoking sections on planes, which is unthinkable today. I wonder if today’s kids will one day vaguely remember the brief, bizarre time when people didn’t think twice about lighting up a screen in the middle of a darkened concert hall.

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The weather here in Singapore does change quite rapidly. One minute I am sweating under the sun, walking back from my lunch, and the next minute I am freezing in the air-conditioned room, trying to stay awake for the meeting.


Thanks for reading.

The Every-Conceivable-Interest Edition Monday, November 12, 2018

How Podcasts Became A Seductive—and Sometimes Slippery—Mode Of Storytelling, by Rebecca Mead, New Yorker

Eighty-odd years after Benjamin wrote about the decline of storytelling, we are living in a new golden age of it, in the form of the podcast: on-demand audio that a listener can download and play while commuting or exercising or, given the right equipment, showering. A recent study conducted by Edison Research found that nearly a quarter of Americans listen to podcasts at least once a month. The most popular shows, such as “The Daily,” produced by the Times and featuring Michael Barbaro, a former reporter, as a winning, accessible interlocutor of his news-gathering colleagues, or “The Joe Rogan Experience,” in which the bluff comedian interviews public figures about things like masculinity and technology, are downloaded tens of millions of times each month. Some of the most acclaimed podcasts, such as Slate’s “Slow Burn,” which in its second season plumbed the painful history of President Bill Clinton’s impeachment, offer a provocative lens not just on the past but also on current events. When the show’s host, Leon Neyfakh, interviews Juanita Broaddrick about her claim that, in the nineteen-seventies, she was sexually assaulted by Clinton, it makes for sobering listening in the era of #MeToo.

Beyond the top of the charts, there are half a million other podcasts available, fashioned for every conceivable interest or taste. If a person wants to know more about Walter Benjamin, she can listen to an episode of “Thinking Allowed,” a BBC Radio 4 show in which Laurie Taylor, a British sociologist, renders Benjamin’s work in plainspoken language; or download the National Gallery of Art’s podcast, in which the Princeton art historian Hal Foster delivers a Mellon lecture about him; or find the Clocktower podcast, dedicated to preserving archival audio, which offers recordings of several radio scripts, for children, that Benjamin wrote in the nineteen-thirties; or search out an episode of “Giving the Mic to the Wrong Person,” a left-leaning podcast, hosted by Jeremy Salmon, that features an off-the-cuff roundtable about Benjamin—“he’s one of the Frankfurt School guys, from what I understand”—in the context of contemporary politics and culture.


Apple Smart Keyboard Folio Is Slim But Pricey, by Ed Hardy, Cult of Mac

The Apple Smart Keyboard Folio is just about the thinnest and lightest case possible with a keyboard in it. That’s great in many ways, but it affects the typing experience. The keyboard is large enough to be easy to type on, but the near lack of key travel becomes an issue during long typing sessions.

This keyboard case is so portable you shouldn’t have an issue carrying it everywhere, which isn’t always true of mobile keyboards. So just remember, the keyboard you have with you is the best one.

Now It’s Easier To Protect Your Browsing Privacy On iOS Devices With App, by Ben Lovejoy, 9to5Mac

Cloudflare offers a free DNS on The company doesn’t log IP addresses, and purges all logs after 24 hours – even hiring an independent audit firm to annually verify that it does so. The benefit to Cloudflare is that using the company’s DNS means faster connections to its client websites.


50 Years In Tech. Part 9: Mac Hopes And Troubles, by Jean-Louis Gassée, Monday Note

I recall how I felt when Mitterrand expressed his vision of Computing For The People: This is our pitch. And we promptly and efficiently took up the refrain. Luckily, our US masters were launching a Kids Can’t Wait marketing blitz targeting the Education market. We piggy-backed on it, called it L’Avenir N’attend Pas (The Future Can’t Wait), exploited government regulations again, and sold beaucoup Apple ][ machines as well as the color monitors we had had “made to measure” by Philips Italy. (The monitors were the idea of Michael Spindler, the recently departed and much-missed friend who was then European Marketing Chief.)

Self-driving Cars Will Be For Sex, Scientists Say, by Mark Wilson, Fast Company

Self-driving cars will change the way we travel and work. But according to researchers studying the potential implications of autonomous vehicles (AVs), they could also have a profound impact on another aspect of life: How we have sex.

One recent study concluded that nearly 60% of all Americans have had sex in a car. This time-worn tradition may only increase when you consider that self-driving cars are essentially private rooms on wheels. It’s an insight that comes from a new paper published in the Annals of Tourism Research, which reviewed many studies on both cities and autonomous vehicles to identify burgeoning trends.

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My number one wish list for iCloud: allow me to edit text files stored inside iCloud Drive by using a standard web browser.


Thanks for reading.

The Manipulative-and-Disruptive Edition Sunday, November 11, 2018

Do Your Children’s Apps Give Them The Hard Sell?, by Stuart Dredge, The Guardian

Pop-up advertising designed to be hard to close; in-game characters showing disapproval if you don’t make in-app purchases; ads with Donald Trump pressing a “nuke” button. None of these things should be appearing in children’s apps, but they were all found by researchers at the University of Michigan Medical School in a recent study of 135 apps “marketed to or played by” children under five years old.

It’s a long way from 2010, shortly after Apple’s iPad launched, when dozens of children’s app developers sprang up, hoping to meet the anticipated demand from parents for high-quality, educational and entertaining apps. Which they’d happily pay for.

How did we get from there to here? Some 129 of the apps tested by the Michigan researchers featured advertising, including “high rates of mobile advertising through manipulative and disruptive methods”.

Where To Cry In An Open Office, by Jiji Lee, New York Times

Your company designed an open office space to break barriers and encourage interaction, but that makes it much harder to sob over a spreadsheet. Here are the best places to cry without your co-workers interrupting you.

What Is The iPad Mini's Role In iPad Lineup?, by Bradley Chambers, 9to5Mac

The iPad mini, while not appreciated by some, is one of my favorite iPads in the lineup. It’s extremely portable, easy to hold in one hand, but still provides the same experience you’re used to when using an iPad.

The Problem Behind A Viral Video Of A Persistent Baby Bear, by Ed Yong, The Atlantic

The cub’s exploits were equal parts GIF, nature documentary, and motivational poster. It had all the elements of an incredible story: the most adorable of protagonists, rising and falling action (literally), and a happy ending. It was a tale of tenacity in the face of adversity, triumph against the odds.

But when biologists started watching the video, they saw a very different story.

The video, they say, was clearly captured by a drone. And in it, they saw the work of an irresponsible drone operator who, in trying to film the bears, drove them into a dangerous situation that almost cost the cub its life. “I found it really hard to watch,” says Sophie Gilbert, an ecologist at the University of Idaho who studies, among other things, how drones affect wildlife. “It showed a pretty stark lack of understanding from the drone operator of the effects that his actions were having on the bears.” (It wasn’t just scientists, either; several drone pilots were also dismayed by the footage.)

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Just finished reading The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire Noth, and French Exit by Patrick deWitt. Both are great interesting and wonderful reads. If you need a recommendation or two on what to read next, do try them.


Thanks for reading.

The Purist-Approach Edition Saturday, November 10, 2018

As Laptop Replacements, The iPad Pro And Surface Pro Are Worlds Apart, by Ross Rubin, Fast Company

But why saddle the PC of the future, which will surely take on new kinds of applications, with the paradigms of the past? Apple’s purist approach leaves open the possibility that a new class of apps at the intersection of advanced processing and touch could materialize. Augmented reality may be one example, at least until Apple drops the other shoe on a device optimized for such experiences, but it will need time to mature into a primary use case.

That said, the long-term incentive for at least Mac developers to adapt the full power of their apps for the iPad seems clear. The level of mastery Apple has achieved in silicon–combined with the emerging ability to bring iOS apps to the Mac–points to a future where the Mac could more or less be an iOS development target that uses a trackpad instead of a touch screen. On the other hand, despite the strong growth in touch-screen PCs since the launch of Windows 8, there still isn’t a great incentive for Windows developers to create great optimized experiences for a tablet.

Blind Veteran Catches Second Wave With A Surfboard And iPhone, by Apple

Longboard surfer Scott Leason waits for his first wave on Mission Beach. Scott Leason is an early riser. By 5:30 a.m., he’s checked his email, social media, the news and the weather. He’s reviewed the day’s surf reports via the Surfline app on his new iPhone XR, prepping for the day’s ride. Before the sun rises on this particular Friday, he’s geared up and ready to go for his session at Mission Bay Aquatic Center in San Diego where he’ll surf Mission Beach.

And he experiences it all without seeing it. Leason is blind.

Apple’s Newest Macs Include Better Built-In Audio Devices, by Paul Kafasis, Rogue Amoeba

On older Macs, the headphone jack and the internal speakers are essentially separate ports on a single output device, and only one of these ports is allowed to be active at a time. Because of this, audio can be sent to either the built-in speakers, or the headphone jack, but not to both. As well, if anything is connected to the headphone jack, the OS shuts off the built-in speaker completely.

With these new Macs, there are actually two distinct output devices. The headphone jack and the internal speakers are separate devices, completely independent from one another.

The E-Commerce Thing

Apple Pumps Up Its Amazon Listings With iPhones, iPads And More, by Ben Fox Rubin, CNET

The world's largest e-commerce company said Friday it will soon start selling more Apple products directly and have access to Apple's latest devices, including the new iPad Pro, iPhone XR and XS, and Apple Watch Series 4, as well as Apple's lineup of Beats headphones. The deal encompasses the US, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Japan and India, with the new products will hit Amazon sites in the coming weeks.

Amazon Is Kicking All Unauthorized Apple Refurbishers Off Amazon Marketplace, by Jason Koebler, Motherboard

John Bumstead is a computer refurbisher who, every year, saves thousands of laptops from the shredder. He buys MacBooks en masse from electronics recyclers, fixes them, then sells them on Amazon Marketplace or wholesales them to vendors who do the same.


As the email notes, this is part of a new agreement between two of the largest companies in the world that will allow Amazon to sell new Apple products around the world; in exchange, Amazon agreed to let Apple pick-and-choose who is allowed to sell Apple products on the site.

It’s the latest in Apple’s long-running list of business decisions that allow it to lock down the repair, refurbishment, and end-of-life of its products.


Apple Activates iPhone X Display Module Replacement Program For Touch Issues, by Mikey Campbell, AppleInsider

According to a support document posted to Apple's website, the company said it has identified an issue in which "some" iPhone X displays do not respond to touch, respond intermittently to touch or react without human interaction. Part or all of an affected display might exhibit the aberrant behavior, Apple said.

The problem was traced back to a component that might fail on the display module. Apple did not identify the component, nor did it specify the number of iPhone X devices that are affected by the failure.

Apple Launches Replacement Program For 13-inch MacBook Pro SSDs, Warns Of Data Loss, by Mikey Campbell, AppleInsider

Announced in a support document, the problem is limited to 128GB and 256GB SSDs installed in 13-inch "Function Key" MacBook Pro models sold between June 2017 and June 2018. Other drive configurations are unaffected by the issue.

Broadway Ditches Age-old Processes To Run Shows With iPads, by Samantha Murphy Kelly, CNN

Several shows, including Kinky Boots and Pretty Woman: The Musical, are shifting to a paperless system that packs the script, lyrics, videos, and costume and prop notes, into one spot for the director, crew and cast members.

The productions are leaning on an app from startup ProductionPro, which is already used at companies such as Walt Disney Studios to help produce film and TV shows.


Against Software Development, by Michael Arntzenius

The basic Darwinist tragedy of software engineering is this:

Beautiful code gets rewritten; ugly code survives.


My iPhone Is Trying To Make Me A Better Person. It Won't Work., by Madeleine Davies, the Outline

After updating to iOS 12 I was horrified by the new system Apple had created, supposedly for my convenience. At the end of that week, a screen time report suddenly popped up informing me I “averaged one million hours of screen time last week,” which a more detailed graph explained was two hours less than “normal.” A step counter was reporting on my movement (it’s always done this, but I only recently found out about it) and this is how I learned it’s possible to take negative steps throughout the day. It had also begun monitoring my email app (which is Spark, not even the built-in, native and a banner notification began reminding me to follow up on emails I received weeks ago. Suddenly, I was feeling scolded, which at first I likened it to relentless parenting; Apple is NOT my mom and I am a grown-ass woman who can monitor my steps the old fashioned way, by counting on my fingers.

Amazon's Comixology Has Provoked A Fierce Debate In The Comic-book World, But Creators Say It Could Help Revitalize The Industry, by Travis Clark, Business Insider

Amazon is a media and retail giant, but one industry it has sunk its teeth into that often goes overlooked: comic books.

The Palate-Cleanser Edition Friday, November 9, 2018

Getting The iPad To Pro, by Craig Mod

Here’s my hope: With hardware as beautiful and powerful as that announced last week, companies and consumers will have to pay attention. Compared to two years ago, software on the iPad is already in a more mature place. Companies like Affinity produce professional level first-class apps for the iPad. In the next two years we’ll start to see genuine ports of other cornerstone creativity apps like Photoshop. Theoretically, in the process of porting, companies like Adobe will have an opportunity to refactor their decades old software, making it faster and better than what’s on macOS. The equivalent of a professional software palate cleanser. We’ll all win once we get over this current hump.

What An Insider Reveals About Apple’s Design Secrets, by Knowledge@Wharton

"The seven elements that I talked about — inspiration, collaboration, craft, diligence, decisiveness, taste and empathy — these were the building blocks of our everyday actions. You will notice that there is not politics. That is not in there. Big bureaucracies aren’t in there. Even though Apple was a big company, even back in the days when we were developing the iPhone, we tried to run it a little bit more like a startup. Get small teams together, empower them, give them the authority and the support to make a difference. The example would be that, yeah, you can start with an idea like an iPhone, something totally different from what was in the market, and those ideas can get out in the world and be successful."

That’s what I want to believe.


Apple Music Taps CD Baby, The Orchard And Kontor For 'Apple Preferred Distribution Program', by Grant Rindner, Billboard

Apple Music has named three distributors as part of their “Apple Preferred Distribution Program”: CD Baby, The Orchard, and Kontor New Media. The move is similar to Spotify’s October announcement of its own list of preferred partners, which included both CD Baby and The Orchard, along with Emu-Bands, FUGA, and Distrokid.

Apple Releases Supplemental macOS 10.14.1 Update For 2018 MacBook Air Owners, by Peter Cao, 9to5Mac

Apple says it “improves the stability and reliability” and that it is recommended for all users.

Apple Offers New Activity Challenge On Apple Watch For Veterans Day, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

Apple Watch owners who do a workout of 11 minutes or more can earn a special Veterans Day-themed badge that will show up in the Activity app along with a matching sticker to use in the Messages app.

WeMo's Smart Dimmer Now Connects Directly With Apple HomeKit, by Ry Crist, CNET

HomeKit compatibility means that you can add the device into Apple's Home app on your iOS device, then control it or automate alongside other HomeKit-compatible gadgets from other manufacturers. You can also control HomeKit compatible gadgets using Siri commands -- with a light switch like the WeMo Dimmer, she'll be able to turn the thing on and off or dim it up and down.


Chips Ahoy: The Mac’s Transition To Apple Processors Is Happening Sooner Than You Think, by Dan Moren, Macworld

Think about it this way: the Mac is now the only Apple product line that doesn’t use the company’s CPUs. What’s the sense in keeping things that way? What advantages does Apple get out of the current setup other than it’s the status quo? And when has Apple ever been satisfied with the status quo?

By 2020, Apple will have ten years of shipping its own processors under its belt. And it’s well-prepared for undergoing these transitions; it’s already done it twice before, and each time has gotten a little smoother. The fuse is lit: the only remaining question is which is the first Mac to blow?

At China’s Internet Conference, A Darker Side Of Tech Emerges, by Raymond Zhong, New York Times

Every year at the World Internet Conference, held since 2014 in the photogenic canal town of Wuzhen near Shanghai, companies and government officials have convened to send a message: China is a high-tech force to be reckoned with.

With that message now settled beyond much doubt, this year’s conference showcased something different. China’s tech industry is becoming more serious about grappling with its products’ unintended consequences — and about helping the government.

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If you go back in time to year 2000 and tell me that not only Apple's operating system is beating Windows, but that Apple's CPU is also beating Intel, I would not have believed you.

Of course, you will then follow up by telling me that the Apple's operating system is not Mac OS, and that the Apple's CPU is not PowerPC...


Thanks for reading.

The Industry-Leading Edition Thursday, November 8, 2018

Apple Walks Ars Through The iPad Pro’s A12X System On A Chip, by Samuel Axon, Ars Technica

Apple is pushing up against high-end laptop and even desktop performance here, depending on what you're using for comparison. Granted, comparing architectures can be Apples (ahem) and oranges. Apple's CPU efforts are industry-leading on the mobile side of things, but they're not perfect. While Apple focuses on performance, Qualcomm, well, doesn't—partly because it essentially has a monopoly in the Android world and may not feel it even needs to, but partly because it focuses on connectivity. (Qualcomm's modems are industry-leading, even if its CPUs are not.)

There's one intriguing bit of context for all of this that Apple won't acknowledge in its discussions with Ars or anyone else: Macs are still on Intel chips. It's obvious to those who follow the company closely why that status quo isn't providing what Apple needs to move forward in its strategies. Further, a Bloomberg report citing sources close to the company claimed that Apple plans to launch a Mac with custom silicon—and we're talking CPU here, not just the T2 chip—are in the works.

The New iPad Pro For Photographers, by Austin Mann

Using the Apple Pencil means I can make very natural yet precise adjustments to BCCC, with organic, free-flowing movements instead of lasso selections or mouse-controlled brush strokes. This is why world-class retouchers have been using Wacom tablets for years, and now with the new iPad Pro, iOS 12, and new software from Lightroom CC all together, we can easily and quickly make natural edits like these on-the-fly.


It’s really easy to sit just about anywhere (even with a steering wheel in your face) and not just use it, but use it to its full extent.

The Rules Of Magnetic Attraction In Apple Products, by Jason Snell, Macworld

There was a time when magnets were the most terrifying things in computing. Magnets erased floppy disks and tape cassettes and even hard drives. But in the modern era, magnets are our friends. Apple has used them for various important tasks over the years, from the convenient breakaway charging cable of MagSafe to the sensor that knows you’ve closed your MacBook’s lid—and the attraction that helps keep it closed.

In the last few years, Apple has brought the rules of magnetic attraction to the Apple Watch, the iPhone, and now the iPad. How do they work? You don’t need to know to appreciate what magnets do for modern Apple devices. And that goes double for the new iPad Pro, with its 102 magnets—as cited in Apple’s launch video about the product, no less—and all of the magnetic accessories that go along with it.

Inside the Air

How MacBook Air Showcases The Battle Between USB-C And Thunderbolt, by Stephen Shankland, CNET

Apple's inconsistent embrace of Thunderbolt underscores its rocky road as a mainstream port. It's based on a technology born of traditional personal computers, and shows few signs of expanding beyond them. Even in higher-end PCs, there are risks to relying on it. What video editor wants to be left in the lurch when trying to share a big file with a client who can't plug in the Thunderbolt hard drive it's stored on?

Apple Says Battery Can Be Replaced Individually In New MacBook Air With Retina Display, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

The battery in the new MacBook Air is still glued into the top case, the aluminum enclosure that houses the keyboard and trackpad, but Apple will be providing Genius Bars and Apple Authorized Service Providers with tools to remove the battery and reinstall a new one with no top case replacement required.


The trackpad in the new MacBook Air can also be individually replaced, according to the Service Readiness Guide, obtained from a reliable source.


Apple’s Clips App Gains Six Selfie Scenes, Incredibles 2 Content, Much More, by Zac Hall, 9to5Mac

Apple’s Clips app for iPhone and iPad has been updated with new creative assets including content from Pixar’s Incredibles 2 movie. The latest update includes six more Selfie Scenes that use the TrueDepth camera on the latest iPhones and iPad Pros, and the new version powers them with the Neutral Engine on the new A12 Bionic Chip.

TwelveSouth PowerPic Combines Wireless iPhone Charging With Photo Frame, by Roger Fingas, AppleInsider

TwelveSouth on Wednesday released the PowerPic, a 10-watt wireless charger for iPhones that blends into rooms as a photo frame.


Apple Investigating Issue Causing ‘Steep Consumption Declines’ In Podcast Reporting, by Peter Cao, 9to5Mac

Some podcasters are reporting that they are seeing a steep decline in listenership, specifically when using Apple’s Podcast Analytics tool.

In an email to podcast creators today, Apple says that it is aware of the issue and is currently investigating it as “they do not match playback data in Podcast Analytics.”

Answer These 10 Questions To Understand If You’re A Good Manager, by Cate Huston, Quartz

Without success metrics beyond the team’s improvement, though, it can be be easy to feel like you’re just riding a wave of good people doing good work without contributing anything yourself.

Some managers deal with this feeling by seeing their success metric as being available to their teams 24/7 (unsustainable), or by counting lines of code (which would be like editors focusing on the number of words they wrote themselves—absurd). Some embrace the performance of management without understanding the underlying motivations. They “perform good manager” in one-on-one meetings, team stand-up meetings, and feedback cycles, but it doesn’t really make them feel accomplished, and it’s hard to put a finger on why.

To that end, I’ve compiled a list of signs that I look for in managers on my teams that suggest they’re doing a good job.


A Sense Of Wonder: How Within Is Evolving Storytelling In Augmented Reality, by Janko Roettgers, Variety

The future of storytelling is happening all around us — we just have to look through the right lens to see it. That’s the idea behind “Wonderscope,” an augmented reality app for children that Los Angeles-based immersive media start-up Within is set to release in November.

“Wonderscope” uses mobile AR to superimpose characters, scenes and stories onto an iPad’s camera view of a user’s living room carpet or a kid’s bedspread. “A device that everyone carries around in their pocket every day suddenly has this new magical ability,” explains Within CEO Chris Milk. “It’s like a lens for invisible magical things that you couldn’t see with your naked eye.”

‘Wireless Charging’ Is A Scam — But That’s About To Change, by Owen Williams, Medium

“Wireless charging” features built into recent devices, like the iPhone XS, certainly make it sound like our present-day consumer tech is cordless. That’s not quite true, of course. A fancy charging pad still needs to be plugged into something — a wall outlet, say — meaning there’s a lot to trip over even after upgrading to the latest and greatest smartphones.

And so, the inevitable question arises: When will we finally ditch the wires altogether? It really depends on who you ask, and how far into the future you’re thinking.

Where The Streets Have No Change: How Buskers Are Surviving In Cashless Times, by Sam Wollaston, The Guardian

The project to enable buskers to accept contactless payments, still in its infancy, was launched by the London mayor, Sadiq Khan, and Campbell was one of a select few performers to be given a contactless card reader (by the Swedish financial technology company iZettle). But only a tiny proportion of her earnings comes that way. (Buskers, like everyone else, I learn, are reluctant to divulge exactly what they earn, but Campbell makes enough to live and pay rent in London.) For a while, she had been thinking about how the move towards a cashless society would affect her career, and noticed that more people were saying they didn’t have any cash on them. Her music is on iTunes and Spotify, and she has a website where you can donate by various means.

Is contactless in the spirit of busking, I wonder? “There is a romantic thing about dropping a coin into a hat. That’s what people think they’re going to miss,” Campbell says. “But if people don’t have cash any more, that’s never going to be something people will get to do ever again. There’s only two options here – we either don’t have buskers or we drop a coin into a hat in a different way. We have to romanticise the tap on the screens somehow.” And she laughs.

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Reading all the iPad Pro reviews, it seems like having an Apple Pencil that is always charged is a big deal to many people. I don't use the Pencil, so I cannot appreciate this improvement.

What I can appreciate is an always-charged Apple TV remote.

Now, how can Apple make the remote to be always-charged? Well, I certainly don't want to have to place the remote on the Apple TV itself to wirelessly / magentically charge it. Because the Apple TV is all the way there, and my sofa and coffee table is all the way here. And a remote dock (similar to an iPhone dock?) seems like too much of a solution to such a small problem. (Besides, I am not going to pay Apple-like prices to solve this problem.)

After thinking for half-a-day (yes, I am semi-bored today), I think I have a solution: solar-powered Apple TV remote. After all, the remote is sitting right there on my coffee table the entire day...

Do you think Mr Jony Ive will approve add solar cells onto his clean and minimalist remote?


Old habits die hard.

I started watching Jeopardy! game show on television again, this past few days. Every time the show inched towards yet another commercial break, I started to have the urge to go to the kitchen to drink some water, or to pick up the phone and check up on my RSS feeds.

Then I realized I was watching on Netflix, which has no commercials.


Thanks for reading.

The Firing-Up-a-Tablet Edition Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Why An iPad Is Worth It, by David Nield, Gizmodo

Last week we asked what the hell the point of the iPad was anyway—and you responded. It seems quite a few of you are still getting real use out of an iPad in 2018, and we’ve collected some of your reasons for firing up a tablet rather than a smartphone or a laptop.

What Can You Connect To The New iPad Pro With USB-C?, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

The iPad Pro does not have Thunderbolt. It has a USB-C 3.1 Gen 2 port. This means it can drive a maximum of 10 gigabits per second, which makes it possible for the iPad to drive a 5K monitor at 60 frames per second. However, there is a catch.

In fact, there are little asterisks and gotchas to be aware of for almost anything relating to the iPad Pro’s new USB-C. Let’s break it down.

Apple Confirms New "Pencil" Stylus Won't Work With Qi Charging Standard, by Tiernan Ray, ZDNet

In response to an inquiry from ZDNet, an Apple spokesperson confirmed that Apple Pencil doesn't support Qi. The only way to charge the device is by resting it on the side of the iPad Pro computer. Apple did not provide comment as to why Qi is not supported in the device.

Take Care

My Apple Watch Became An Excuse To Not Take Care Of Myself, by Rose Riala, The Outline

The new Apple Watch obtained its clearance from the FDA “de novo” - that is, it argued the watch’s relative risks and benefits without comparing itself to existing medical technologies by positioning it as an unprecedented technological advance. To its credit, Apple chooses its words very carefully to describe this new technology in its promotional materials - “the data is for your doctors, the peace of mind is for you.” I, with the imagined authority of the watch on my wrist, played a game of existential chicken, trusting that the watch on my wrist would tell me the exact moment when I needed to hit the breaks. Unprecedented things tend to be used in unprecedented ways, and we, either through hubris or necessity, are all too likely to play doctor.

A Smart City Is An Accessible City, by Aimi Hamraie, The Atlantic

For digital-accessibility maps to work, they would need to be designed by cross-disability coalitions, similar to the ones that developed the tactile-pavement curb cut. Rather than relying entirely on visual representations of data, for example, digital-accessibility apps could expand access by incorporating “deep mapping,” collecting and surfacing information in multiple sensory formats. Such a map would be able to show images of the doorway or integrate turn-by-turn navigation. Deeper digital-accessibility maps can offer both audio and visual descriptions of spatial coordinates, real-time information about maintenance or temporary barriers, street views, and even video recordings. These capabilities are not yet present in most digital-accessibility apps, partly because they build upon digital-mapping tools that assume a view of streets and storefronts is sufficient.


Choosing Your Markdown Editor: A Comparison Of Ulysses And Drafts, by Ryan Christoffel, MacStories

When I began this comparison, I had no idea which app I would end up choosing. Ulysses has served me well for years already, but Drafts appears to have a more aggressive development schedule presently, which I find appealing, and it's hard to ignore the potential for custom-built actions to make my life easier.

In the end, I've decided to stick with Ulysses for two main reasons: ease of use and aesthetics.

iPad Pro Cases Make Charging New Apple Pencil A Pain, by Ed Hardy, Cult of Mac

With the 2018 iPad Pro not even in customers’ hands yet, very few cases specifically for it have been announced. And there could be a wait, as some companies may be hastily redesigning their products.


Silicon Valley’s Radical New Idea: Treat Employees Well, by Dan Lyons, Literary Hub

What common DNA do they share? These companies operate in very different industries, and for the most part they have little in common with one another, except for two things: they are all incredibly successful, and they treat their employees exceptionally well. This doesn’t mean putting out Ping-Pong tables and free candy, or running kooky New Age team-building games. Rather, this means paid sabbaticals, on-site child care, and reimbursement for college tuition.

All of the legends extend health benefits to part-time workers. Some even provide part-timers with perks like paid time off for sick days, vacations, and holidays. The lesson? Skip the Ping-Pong and the New Age guff about mission statements and culture codes, and give people things they actually value.


The MacBook Air Needs Face ID And A Delightful Notch, by Chaim Gartenberg, The Verge

But a notched menu bar would let Apple keep the camera right where it belongs — in the top of the display — without sacrificing slim upper bezels. Combined with Apple’s already omnipresent-by-default menubar (which already has an awkward dead space in the middle in almost every setting) and the newly introduced dark mode in macOS Mojave, a notched MacBook would fit in perfectly to the existing software design, instead of being an awkward intrusion that you have to ignore like on iOS.

Here Are The 3 Ways Apple Could Bring A-series Chips To Macs, by Jeremy Horwitz, VentureBeat

The market is somewhat less spec-driven than it was a decade ago, so Apple might be tempted to use iPad-style lifestyle marketing rather than direct hardware comparisons to sell Macs. But lifestyle marketing hasn’t historically worked particularly well for laptops or desktops.

Despite Apple’s recent comparison of iPad sales to PC sales, there are still differences between tablet and traditional computer buyers. Customers don’t tend to shop the same way for tablets as they do for laptops or desktops — computer buyers still care about specs, even if they don’t completely understand them.

You Already Email Like A Robot — Why Not Automate It?, by John Herrman, New York Times

What does the tech industry want to assist us with now? Email. If you use Gmail, you’ve probably interacted with either Smart Reply or Smart Compose, whether or not you know them by name. Google introduced Smart Reply in 2015, and Smart Compose began rolling out this year. Both, in execution, are self-explanatory. Smart Reply suggests canned responses to inbound emails, based on the company’s best guess at what most emailers might be about to type. The suggestions are short, peppy and often adequate, at least as a start. Sometimes their tone prompts unhappy realizations about what Gmail sees in us. The frequency with which they use exclamation marks emphasizes just how peculiar the language of professional email communication has become (“Sounds great!” “Very cool!” “Love it!”). Smart Compose, in contrast, offers word and phrase suggestions, based on similar judgments, as the user types in real time. You write “Take a look,” and ghostly text might appear to its right: “and let me know what you think.” Its assumptions are more personalized, and they feel that way because it is constantly, visibly, guessing what you’re thinking.

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My top three uses for my iPad:
a) meeting-machine: take notes, check stuff, catch up on RSS feeds when I'm bored at meetings;
b) tv-machine: Netflix and iTunes; and
c) reading-machine: e-books.


Thanks for reading.

The Mac-World Edition Tuesday, November 6, 2018

MacBook Air Review: Center Of The Mac World?, by Jason Snell, Macworld

Still, Apple has placed the MacBook Air back where it spent the first part of this decade: firmly at the center of the Apple laptop universe. It’s not the cheapest or fastest or lightest laptop, but it’s the lowest-priced Retina Mac and it’s powerful and flexible enough to serve the needs of the broad audience for consumer Macs. The new geographic center of the Mac is once again where it’s been for most of this decade: It’s the MacBook Air.

MacBook Air Review, by Brian Heater, TechCrunch

There’s no doubt the new Air marks a sizable update. It’s pricier, too, though Apple’s kept things more in check here than with the Mac Mini. With all of its upgrades and lower price point to boot, the Air is the clear pick over the 12-inch MacBook in practically every way.

As a matter of fact, barring some major future upgrade, the 12-inch likely isn’t long for this world. And that’s perfectly fine. The new Air is very clearly the better buy.

Review: Apple MacBook Air, by Lauren Goode, Wired

In the time since Apple first released the MacBook Air, the whole PC industry has tried to push the boundaries on what "thin and light" means for laptops. Sure, there have been some awkward results (does anyone actually bend their laptop back into a tablet?) and aggressive marketing pushes (see: Ultrabooks). There have also been some really nice premium laptops launched in the non-Apple PC world.

Apple has heard the calls for a newer, better MacBook Air, and it has answered. Thank goodness for that. But one might get the sneaking suspicion, as she stares at the gorgeous, liquid-looking display of this new machine, that such a laptop could have arrived two years ago. Or more. The new MacBook Air is not pure innovation; it's an incantation composed to make you think it is.

The 2018 Retina MacBook Air, by John Gruber, Daring Fireball

A lot of people are looking at the lineup as it stands today thinking they must be missing something, because it seems obvious that most people looking for a MacBook in this price range should buy the new MacBook Air. They’re not missing anything. The new Air is exactly that: the MacBook most people should buy, and exactly the MacBook everyone has been asking Apple to make.

Apple MacBook Air (2018) Review: The Present Of Computing, by Dieter Bohn, The Verge

People like the Mac. It’s great to have a computer that does all of the computer stuff you want in a way you’re familiar with. Until recently, the best computer for most people was the MacBook Air, and Apple took way too long to update it. So people have been waiting. And waiting.

Now, the wait is over. But if you were hoping that lightning would strike twice and this new MacBook Air would be as revolutionary as the old MacBook Air, well, it’s not. It’s basically a MacBook that finally includes all of the stuff that has been happening with laptops for the past few years. It is on par with the rest of the laptop world, but it hasn’t moved beyond it. Sometimes that means the fan is going to spin up on you.

Big Mini

Mac Mini 2018 Review: The Swiss Army Knife Of Macs Returns, by Jason Snell, Six Colors

This new Mac mini is exactly what it needs to be. Today the Mac mini is about flexibility and filling niches. This update allows it to span a wide range from basic server needs all the way up to high-end applications that require a great deal of processor power, fast storage, ultra-fast networking, and even beyond (via Thunderbolt 3). The high-end configurations might actually provide enough power for people to consider them over buying the Mac Pro, whenever it comes out. It remains to be seen just what ground the Mac Pro will cover, and what its starting price might be. The Mac mini may have just become the best (and best value) tool for somewhat high-end jobs that don’t require Xeon processors in large enclosures.

What is the Mac mini? It’s what you make of it. With this new update, it is once again a Mac that can be applied to whatever situations warrant it, hiding in cramped dark spaces or driving multiple monitors and extensive add-on accessories.

Mac Mini Review, by Brian Heagter, TechCrunch

The Mac Mini is undoubtedly a powerful upgrade over its predecessor and an interesting glimpse into the future of the Mac ecosystem. Along with the product’s pro ambitions, however, comes a significantly higher price tag, starting at $799. The Mini is still the best-priced gateway into a desktop Mac ecosystem, but the definition of entry-level has clearly shifted for Apple since the last ‘go round.


Apple's New Hardware With The T2 Security Chip Will Currently Block Linux From Booting, by Michael Larabel, Phoronix

Apple's T2 security chip being embedded into their newest products provides a secure enclave, APFS storage encryption, UEFI Secure Boot validation, Touch ID handling, a hardware microphone disconnect on lid close, and other security tasks. The T2 restricts the boot process quite a bit and verifies each step of the process using crypto keys signed by Apple.


Apple Rolls Out watchOS 5.1.1 After Earlier Apple Watch Bricking Issues, by Zack Whittaker, TechCrunch

Apple has rolled out watchOS 5.1.1, less than a week after the company pulled its immediate predecessor, watchOS 5.1, following reports that the software was bricking some Apple Watches.

The update also includes bug fixes for the Walkie-Talkie app and an additional issue where some Activity rewards were not displayed.

Grab Apple’s Artsy 2018 iPad Pro Wallpapers, by Ed Hardy, Cult of Mac

With every new Apple device comes a fresh collection of wallpapers. The recently-announced iPad Pro models are no exception. And you don’t have to buy a new tablet to get these images for your device because they’ve been posted online.

Apple Debuts New Single Tour And Double Tour Hermès Apple Watch Bands, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

Apple this morning added two Apple Watch Hermès Bands to its online store, introducing Double Tour and Single Tour bands in a new three-color Amber/Capucine/Rose Azalée configuration.


Language Server Protocol, by

This is arguably the most important decision Apple has made for Swift since releasing the language as open source in 2014. It’s a big deal for app developers, and it’s an even bigger deal for Swift developers on other platforms.

To understand why, this week’s article will take a look at what problem the Language Server Protocol solves, how it works, and what it’s long-term impacts may be.


Apple Reaffirms Support For Paris Climate Agreement, by Katie Collins, CNET

Apple reaffirmed its commitment to the Paris Agreement on climate change with a senior company official telling the Web Summit in Lisbon that the iPhone maker could continue to profit while being environmentally responsible.

"The air we breathe and the planet we leave to our children doesn't belong to any one party, it doesn't belong to any one ideology -- it belongs to all of us, and governments should be the allies in our work," Lisa Jackson, Apple's head of environment, policy and social initiatives, told an arena full of tech leaders. "At Apple we supported and we continue to support the Paris climate agreement."

Is The Era Of Voice Texting Upon Us?, by Alyssa Bereznak, The Ringer

Against all odds, voicemail has made a slow but miraculous comeback in a more digestible form. But many of the same millennials who were taught to unconditionally hate the medium are now incensed at its return. The voice text is now one of our most divisive forms of digital communication.

Make People Valuable Again, by Vint Cerf and David Nordfors, TechCrunch

The problem today, we suggest, is that our innovation economy is not primarily about making people more valuable; it is instead about reducing costs.

The main danger is easy to summarize: when workers are seen as a cost (which is now the case), cost-saving, efficient technologies will compete to lower their cost and thereby their value. The “better” the innovation, the lower their value. People are struggling to stay valuable in a changing world, and innovation is not helping them, except for the chosen few. The need to be valued and to be in demand are part of our human nature. Innovation can, and should, make people more valuable.

The economy is about people who need, want, and value each other. When we need each other more, the economy can grow. When we need each other less, it shrinks. We need innovation that makes people need each other more.

Here's Why [Insert Thing Here] Is Not a Password Killer, by Troy Hunt

Despite it's many flaws, the one thing that the humble password has going for it over technically superior alternatives is that everyone understands how to use it. Everyone.

This is where we need to recognise that decisions around things like auth schemes go well beyond technology merits alone. Arguably, the same could be said about any security control and I've made the point many times before that these things need to be looked at from a very balanced viewpoint. There are merits and there are deficiencies and unless you can recognise both (regardless of how much you agree with them), it's going to be hard to arrive at the best outcome.

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When I replace my current MacBook Pro, which I hope doesn't need to happen yet for a long time, I think I will want the Mac Mini. The laptop is mostly used at my desk nowadays, and my portable needs are mostly fulfilled by the iPad anyway. The Mac Mini, it sounds like, is built to last. And long-lasting is what I want out of my Mac, now that I'm being tempted to upgrade my iPhone and iPad every other year. :-)


Thanks for reading.

The Best-Tablet Edition Monday, November 5, 2018

New iPad Pro Is A 13-Inch Tablet You’ll Actually Want To Hold, by Jeffrey Van Camp, Wired

It doesn’t feel like the world is ready to treat my iPad as an equal to a PC yet—even if that iPad is a lot more powerful and user friendly. Now that Apple has declared the iPad is a PC, it should take more of the guardrails off of iOS and strongly encourage developers to treat it like they do the Mac. It’s time for iOS to grow up and get a job.

The iPad Pro is one of the most powerful computers you can own. It could be the best PC, too. Or better than a Mac. For now, it still has to settle for being best tablet money can buy.

Apple iPad Pro Review 2018: The Fastest iPad Is Still An iPad, by Nilay Patel, The Verge

Is the new iPad Pro a stunning engineering achievement? Without question. Has Apple once again produced mobile hardware that puts the rest of the industry to shame when it comes to performance, battery life, and design? Yep. Is the iPad Pro the best, most capable iPad ever made? It certainly is.

But you know what? It’s still an iPad.

iPad Pro (2018) Review: Big Beautiful Tablet? Yes. Flexible Computer? TBD, by Scott Stein, CNET

The iPad Pro really has the power of a full computer now -- a really good one. It's just that it could be so much more, if iOS wasn't quite so limited.

Review: The iPad Pro And The Power Of The Pen(cil), by Matthew Panzarino, TechCrunch

The Pencil is one of the most impressive version 2 devices that Apple has released ever. It scratches off every major issue that users had with the V1. A very impressive bit of execution here that really enhances the iPad Pro’s usability, both for drawing and quick notes and sketches. The only downside is that you have to buy it separately.

Drawing and sketching with the new Pencil is lovely, and remains a completely stand-out experience that blows away even dedicated devices like the Wacom Cintiq and remains a far cut above the stylus experience in the Surface Pro devices.


Apple’s New MacBook Air Faces Strong Windows And iPad Competition, by Tom Warren, The Verge

The debate over tablet vs. laptop will rage on for many years, but it’s clear that Apple’s new MacBook Air now faces stronger competition than it has ever faced before. The PC industry has changed for the better, thanks to both the MacBook Air and the iPad, but it’s the iPad that will now shape its future and not the new MacBook Air.

After Seeing The iPhone XR In Person, I'm Not Sure If I Can Recommend It, by Dave Smith, Business Insider

Personally, I think Apple would be better off coming up with more mature colors for its iPhones — to make them distinctive but also desirable. The iPhone XR colors are too bright and tacky, in my opinion.

To All The 'Shitty' Earbuds I’ve Loved Before, by Emily Lipstein, Gizmodo

Even considering replacement costs, she texted me, “I could buy ten pairs of them and it could cost the same as Apple [AirPods], they’d still be more comfortable, and I wouldn’t look like a dick. Also they come in purple.”

Why would I shell out for a pair of earbuds or headphones that’ll be many times more expensive than the pair I know and love, for an “increase” in sound quality that’s basically negligible to me?


50 Years In Tech. Part 8: Almost Illicit Fun, by Jean-Louis Gassée, Monday Note

These were fun times and our numbers contributed to the mood. We became Apple’s largest business outside the US. When on a European tour US execs liked to end it with us because we’d lift their spirits.

Apple's Latest Anti-tracking Feature In Safari Takes Toll On Digital Advertising, by George P. Slefo, AdAge

The anti-tracking feature embedded in the newest version of Apple's Safari browser is causing pain among marketers, making it harder to calculate the return-on-investment for digital ads, industry experts say. The version, released 10 weeks ago, completely prevents tracking cookies from working in the open web.

Why Doctors Hate Their Computers, by Atul Gawande, New Yorker

But three years later I’ve come to feel that a system that promised to increase my mastery over my work has, instead, increased my work’s mastery over me. I’m not the only one. A 2016 study found that physicians spent about two hours doing computer work for every hour spent face to face with a patient—whatever the brand of medical software. In the examination room, physicians devoted half of their patient time facing the screen to do electronic tasks. And these tasks were spilling over after hours. The University of Wisconsin found that the average workday for its family physicians had grown to eleven and a half hours. The result has been epidemic levels of burnout among clinicians. Forty per cent screen positive for depression, and seven per cent report suicidal thinking—almost double the rate of the general working population.

Something’s gone terribly wrong. Doctors are among the most technology-avid people in society; computerization has simplified tasks in many industries. Yet somehow we’ve reached a point where people in the medical profession actively, viscerally, volubly hate their computers.

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I wish the upcoming -- there has to be an upcoming one, right? -- iPad mini has a smart keyboard. Please, Apple, surprise me!


Thanks for reading.

The Cheaper-Variant Edition Sunday, November 4, 2018

Apple's Welcoming, Inclusive; Brand Of Luxury, by John Gruber, Daring Fireabll

When has Apple ever had a different strategy than focusing on dominating the higher end of its markets and ignoring sheer market share? The iPod — maybe — was a market share leader, depending on how you defined its category. But even with iPods Apple clearly was determined to dominate the higher end of the market.

Apple Says It’s Struggling To Sell iPhones In India, But It’s Really Not Trying, by Manish Singh, VentureBeat

One could argue that Apple should take a hit in its profits to sell the iPhones at their equivalent US prices in India. After all, it’s not uncommon in India for a company to absorb some tax to keep the price of its offering on par with global markets. Apple could also introduce a cheaper iPhone variant and sell plenty of those in the country –though Cook has shrugged off that idea in the past.

Instead, the company has largely ignored the audience that does own an iPhone in India. Apple Maps and Siri, for instance, are not customized well for the Indian audience. Additionally, several Apple services, such as Apple News and Apple Pay, are not available in India.


How To Lock Down What Websites Can Access On Your Computer, by David Nield, Wired

As websites and web apps have grown in complexity, so have their demands: They want access to your webcam to make video calls, they want to know where in the world you are to serve up local information, and so on.

In fact, websites now ask for almost as many permissions as the apps on your phone do, though you might not be as familiar with how to manage them. We'll show you how.

We'll also explain how to restrict the cookies and other data websites can save locally on your laptop. It's up to you whether you let sites track your identity across the web to better personalize the ads you see, but you should know the options that are available.


Tech Billionaires’ Obligation To The Cities Around Them, by Alana Semuels, The Atlantic

For decades, tech entrepreneurs have portrayed themselves as change agents creating world-altering products and then using their wealth to advance liberal policies. Yet their philanthropy is often focused on big projects that have national or global impact. When it comes to paying higher taxes to fund local projects, some companies have begun acting less like revolutionary organizations that are changing the way society works and more like, well, companies: opposing new local taxes based on the argument that they will hamper their ability to do business.

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Just watched: Shirkers, by Sandi Tan. This is an extremely interesting documentary about what looks like an interesting film. Do watch it if you can. (Available on Netflix.)


Thanks for reading.

The Eschewing-the-Mass-Market Edition Saturday, November 3, 2018

Apple Will No Longer Report iPhone Sales. Here’s Why., by Matt Binder, Mashable

If Apple continues to report falling iPhone unit sales numbers every quarter, all the while delivering on revenue growth, anyone covering Apple will need to point out time and again that product sales are down, regardless of what the actual finances are. So why take the PR hit on sales numbers when you can just not release them?

Apple Abandons The Mass Market, As The iPhone Turns Luxury, by Zachary Karabell, Wired

In a world where everyone will soon have a smartphone as surely as electricity, and the middle class will likely have a tablet or some form of computer, Apple has elected to be more like Tiffany or Mercedes rather than Walmart or Hyundai. That means speaking to as an aspirational clientele for whom brand, form, and function are all of a part, and where the higher price point is at times a sotto voce aspect of the appeal.

It is hard to argue with that strategy, although it does make Apple a different sort of company than it was a decade ago, away from owning the market with a range of prices and products and toward a premier provider in a mass world. It is also hard to see that strategy not producing incredible profits and cash for the coming years, absent some tectonic disruption in communications akin to the introduction of the iPhone in 2007, which is not evident but not impossible. In some sense, it is back to the future for Apple, which began in the 1980s selling a high-priced, elegantly designed Mac that eschewed the mass market.

4 Apple Products And Technologies That Are Running Out Of Time, by Dan Moren, Macworld

But just as this week’s Apple event giveth, there’s also the suggestion that it might taketh away; some Apple products and technologies find themselves in limbo after the announcements of the week, meaning that the writing may perhaps be on the wall for them.

Of course, not all of these products and technologies will die immediately—some may linger on for a while yet, and a few of them may not stay dead. (As the Air and mini showed us, sometimes they’re just hibernating.) But Apple has a habit of being brutal when it comes to cutting the dead weight from its lineup, even when it comes to killing those things that it once considered its darlings.


Apple Will Keep Throttling iPhones With Old Batteries. Here's How To Stop It, by Brian Barrett, Wired

It’s not surprising that Apple will continue throttling iPhones. It’s not like it only did it in the first place as a prank; it actually does serve a purpose. But at least now you’re aware that it’s happening—and more importantly, have the ability to stop it.


Developers Can Now Request Access To App Store Connect API To Automate App Store Tasks, by Peter Cao, 9to5Mac

Apple has today started rolling out the App Store Connect API to developers. Promised back in June of this year, the new API will allow developers to automate some TestFlight tasks such as creating groups, managing public links, adding and removing testers, and assigning builds to groups.


Apple's Little iOS Is Rapidly Changing The Retail Industry, by Jonny Evans, Computerworld

With nine of the top ten global retailers using iOS devise in their business, it’s clear Apple’s mobile devices are what we expect to find when we go shopping.

Segway Was Supposed To Change The World. Two Decades Later, It Just Might, by Matt McFarland, CNN

People usually praise the Segway and Kamen's efforts to remake transportation. But occasionally someone will ask if Kamen considers it a failure. When that happens, he often thinks of the Wright Brothers.

"They certainly weren't giving out frequent flyer miles by 1920," he said. "But I don't think anybody would say, 'Hey Wilbur hey Orville, how do you feel about that failure?'"

And in the emerging world of micromobility, a catch-all term for small, computerized electric vehicles, Kamen is a visionary with a place in history.

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My back is hurting today. I cannot sit still for long. I've gotta figure out, someday, a workflow that involves walking around with an iPhone.


Just finished reading (actually: listening) These Truths, by Jill Lepore. A wonderful and insightful book that made me think and re-think a lot.

Not that I mind too much, but the audiobook version I was listening to (from Audible) contains quite a few mistakes made by the narrator, as well as a few page-turning sounds. The biggest problem in the editing was probably that the last chapter was repeated again at the end of the audiobook.


Thanks for reading.

The Designed-for-Concentration Edition Friday, November 2, 2018

I Ditched The Mac For The iPad, And I’ll Never Go Back, by Jesus Diaz, Fast Company

Because the iPad Pro gets the best of the classic computer–its raw power and capacity to create content–but escapes the complications of the desktop metaphor. The apps take over the screen to transform it into dedicated devices specifically tailored to do the specific tasks I need to do, focusing exclusively on them, without a million open windows.

And instead of having to worry about organizing my work in folders and files, my word processor, painting app, or photo apps take care of my files on their own. Everything is contained within its own space. I don’t worry about files. And when I need to find something, I just use the search box.

That’s why I love the user experience. From the lack of clutter to the modal nature of apps, it feels like it was designed for concentration. I’m more efficient on the iPad.

Jony Ive Reveals How He Created The New iPad, by David Phelan, The Independent

Ive picks up on the neatness of this: “I think the way it just snaps onto the side, well, that’s a nice example of a sort of that magical feeling. It’s unexpected, we don’t quite understand how it’s working and even more incomprehensible is the fact that it’s also charging. You can see how that’s aligned with this idea that you can just pick the product up and use it without thought.

"Actually, you’re using it with tremendous thought, but it’s based on what you want to be doing rather than wondering if you’re holding the tablet the right way up.”

Quarterly Results

Apple Q4 2018 Results: $53.3 Billion Revenue, 41.3 Million iPhones, 11.6 Million iPads Sold, by John Voorhees, MacStories

Apple has just published its financial results for Q4 2018. The company posted revenue of $53.3 billion. Apple sold 11.6 million iPads, 41.3 million iPhones, and 3.7 million Macs during the quarter.

Apple’s Latest Record Quarter: Why Apple Loves China But Hates Sales Figures, by Jason Snell, Macworld

The cloud hanging over all discussions of China is the possibility that an escalating exchange of tariffs and other aspects of a trade war might hurt Apple, which assembles many of its devices in China as well as selling many products there. Analyst Katy Huberty asked Cook if he had any plans to diversity Apple’s supply chain, presumably to provide the company with a hedge on production in case U.S.-China relations deteriorated to the point that they might have an impact on Apple’s ability to produce and ship products.

Cook would have none of it. First, he rejected the premise of the question, pointing out that Apple products are “really manufactured everywhere,” with contributions from the U.S., Japan, Korea, and China.

He went on to explain why this is the best approach. “I think that basic model, where you look around the world and find the best in different areas, I don’t expect that model to go out of style,” he said. “I think there’s a reason why things have developed in that way, and I think it’s great for all countries and citizens of countries that are involved in that.

Apple Raises Prices, And Profits Keep Booming, by Jack Nicas, New York Times

Timothy D. Cook, Apple’s chief executive, explained the rationale with an analogy: “If you go to the market and you push your cart up to the cashier — and she says or he says, ‘How many units do you have in there?’ — it doesn’t matter a lot how many units there are in there in terms of the overall value of what’s in the cart.”

Toni Sacconaghi, an analyst at Bernstein, said Apple was trying to shift investors’ attention away from the number of devices it sold. “Companies always try to put their best foot forward,” he said. “Their best foot doesn’t appear to be iPhone unit growth.”

This Is Tim: A Transcript Of The Apple Q4 2018 Analyst Call, by Jason Snell, Six Colors

"First, education. More than 5,000 schools, community colleges, and technical colleges worldwide are now using Everyone Can Code, our free coding curriculum. Ideas, creativity, and passion for technology’s potential aren’t limited by zip code or country. And we don’t think opportunities should be either. We’re also excited that educators in more than 350 schools around the world have started working with Everyone can Create, the free collection of tools and project guides we introduced this spring, designed to help unleash kids’ creativity throughout the school day with the help of iPad."

"Next is the environment. This was a milestone year for Apple’s commitment to our planet. In April we announced that 100 percent of our global operations are powered by renewable energy. We also made progress in doing the same in our supply chain. And just this week we announced that the enclosures of new products like MacBook Air and iPad Pro will be made from one hundred percent recycled aluminum, a strong, durable, and beautiful new alloy designed by Apple. This is a great example of how a commitment to do right on the issues that matter can drive once unimaginable innovation, new ways of approaching old problems, and beautiful solutions that set us apart."


Apple Launches Vintage Repair Pilot Program To Fix Aging iPhones, MacBooks And More, by Jordan Kahn, 9to5Mac

Apple is introducing a new “Repair Vintage Apple Products Pilot” program that will extend the period of time customers can receive repairs for older devices, according to sources familiar with the initiative. The new program at first will include the iPhone 5 and other Apple products that are about to become obsolete, and in the coming weeks will add more products to the list for devices that previously lost repair support.

Of note, the list also includes the 5+ year old Mid-2012 MacBook Air models following the introduction of an updated MacBook Air at the company’s event earlier this week.

Apple News Will Launch A Real-time Election Results Hub On November 6, by Sarah Perez, TechCrunch

Apple is preparing to launch a new way for its customers to track election results. The company, on 8 PM ET on November 6, will swap out the existing Midterm Elections section in the Apple News app, and replace it with a new Election Night section instead. This section will also replace Apple News’ Digest tab at the bottom-center of the app, in order to lead users directly to the special section where they’ll be able to track the live results, updates on key races, latest developments and more.

The company is partnering with the Associated Press for its real-time election results, as do many news organizations thanks to AP’s history and experience with verifying results.

HomeRun: Quickly Trigger HomeKit Scenes On Your Apple Watch, by John Voorhees, MacStories

HomeRun succeeds by not trying to do too much, and through a thoughtful design that allows users to handle scenes quickly and efficiently with minimal interaction. If you are using HomeKit devices and have an Apple Watch, try HomeRun; it’s become one of my favorite ways to trigger scenes.

Mophie Launches Juice Pack Air Battery Case For iPhone X At $99.95, by Mitchel Broussard, MacRumors

Juice Pack Air is a Qi case for iPhone X, and can store battery to recharge the smartphone while on the go. There's a built-in 1,720 mAh battery that Mophie says extends the life of iPhone X to a total of 30 hours. With Qi support, you can place the Juice Pack Air on any Qi-compatible mat to refuel the accessory as well as the iPhone X.


Apple Censors Sensitive Names And Phrases From Gadget Engraving Offer On Hong Kong And China Websites, by Kris Cheng, Hong Kong Free Press

The names of some Chinese state leaders and activists have been deemed “inappropriate words” and censored from the latest versions of the iPad, iPod Touch and Apple Pencil’s engraving tool, HKFP has found.

When customers go to Apple’s website to purchase one of the three gadgets, they are invited to suggest a free engraving. However, certain names typed in Chinese characters are banned from the website’s Chinese-language Hong Kong and mainland China stores.

The Quest To Build The Impossible Laptop, by Alex Cranz and Matthew Reyes, Gizmodo

Creating the perfect “2-in-1" device seems to defy engineering. The processor has to be fast enough to handle demanding multitasking while low-power enough to fit in a thin chassis. The device has to work perfectly both with your fingers on the display and your fingers on a touchpad and keyboard. And the hinge, the critical mechanism that allows the device to transition from laptop to tablet and back, needs to be just right.

Study Of Cellphone Risks Finds ‘Some Evidence’ Of Link To Cancer, At Least In Male Rats, by William J. Broad, New York Times

The experiment, by the National Toxicology Program, found positive but relatively modest evidence that radio waves from some types of cellphones could raise the risk that male rats develop brain cancer.

“We believe that the link between radio-frequency radiation and tumors in male rats is real,” John Bucher, a senior scientist at the National Toxicology Program, said in a statement.

But he cautioned that the exposure levels and durations were far greater than what people typically encounter, and thus cannot “be compared directly to the exposure that humans experience.” Moreover, the rat study examined the effects of a radio frequency associated with an early generation of cellphone technology, one that fell out of routine use years ago. Any concerns arising from the study thus would seem to apply mainly to early adopters who used those bygone devices, not to users of current models.

The Move-the-Cursor Edition Thursday, November 1, 2018

Typing In Hell: A Laptop Lover's Guide To The New MacBook Air And iPad Pro, by Aaron Pressman, Fortune

Typing for a bit, I found the flatter, wider keys somewhat easier to hit accurately but I didn’t always register a letter when I thought I had hit the correct key and sometimes my got my fingers misaligned.


And the limitations of typing and moving the cursor with no trackpad for the iPad create a bit of a quandary for Apple’s marketing pitch. There’s no touch screen on its laptops because, Apple says, people don’t want to interrupt their workflow and have to reach up from the keyboard and trackpad to touch the screen (I agree). And there’s no trackpad for the iPad because it doesn’t fit with the all-touch stance of Apple’s software for the iPad. So then how can Apple pitch the iPad as a true replacement for a laptop if it’s not great for writing and other apps where you’d like to move the cursor around?

New iPad Pro Benchmarks Are Very Close To The 2018 15-inch MacBook Pro, by William Gallagher, AppleInsider

Apple has claimed that its new iPad Pro models were faster than 92 percent of all laptops sold in the last year and now Geekbench scores reveal this includes the 13-inch MacBook Pros, and a close proximity to the 15-inch MacBook Pro.


It is clear that this test was done using the 1TB version of the iPad Pro which comes with 6GB RAM instead of the 4GB in other models. This is also a comparison of specifications in an artificial test —real-world speeds of the two machines will be different based on the user's workflow but the relative performance should be the same.

Adding USB-C To The iPad Isn’t Enough To Fix Apple’s Messy Port Strategy, by Chaim Gartenberg, The Verge

The iPad, on the other hand, lets Apple be a little more experimental and open. It may still run iOS and be subject to the limits of the walled-off App Store, but USB-C adds a new avenue where hardware and software developers can expand what’s possible. Apple is pitching the iPad as a computer, and USB-C gives it a universal, open hardware port (if not totally free of Apple’s control) for the kinds of professional tools that people have come to expect from computers. The added complexity of USB-C may drive people away from iPhones, but it could be a boon for the iPad to entice more power users to make the jump.

Unfortunately, that leaves consumers in a strange limbo, caught between the closed-off Lighting standard on one side and the confusing, inconsistent world of USB-C on the other. And yes, there are going to be some issues.

Waiting For The Mac Pro

Why The New Mac Mini Makes Me Concerned About The Upcoming Mac Pro, by Michael Simon, Macworld

Pardon me if I’m a little concerned about the Mac Pro. A lot is riding on the redesign and while I was once confident that the extra time Apple is taking means it is tweaking, fine-tuning, and refining the design, the Mac mini makes me skeptical. The specs are almost secondary to the Mac Pro update—it needs to deliver a completely new experience to make pro users happy. What if Apple merely tweaks the case and adds a few Thunderbolt 3 ports?

There was a time when Apple would blow us away with new Mac updates and set the trend for the whole industry. That’s certainly the case with the iPhone and iPad. But after the not-so-triumphant return of the Mac mini, I’m not so sure anymore.

He Mac Mini Update Raises The Stakes For Next Year’s Modular Mac Pro, by Ben Lovejoy, 9to5Mac

But the Mac mini raises the bar. It’s mostly non-modular, and doesn’t offer top-spec options, but by turning it into a significantly more serious machine, Apple needs to work much harder to differentiate the new Mac Pro. Frankly, at this point, the machine needs to wow people. Otherwise we’re going to be asking why the company didn’t simply make the Mac mini more modular and offer better graphics options.

So the Mac mini update makes me more, rather than less, confident in what the 2019 Mac Pro will have to offer.

Lack of Evidence

Apple's Heart Study Is The Biggest Ever, But With A Catch, by Robbie Gonzalez, Wired

Screening comes with risks: Misdiagnosis. Unnecessary tests. Overtreatment. "Those are real problems that need to be sorted out," says cardiologist Mintu Turakhia, the study's lead author and director of Stanford's Center for Digital Health. That's why he and his team will also observe what happens after Apple Watch users receive an alert: Whether they follow up with a healthcare provider, whether a diagnosis is made, and what treatment they receive. "We're interested in the patient journey, but we also want to see whether an alert from the watch helps lead to appropriate care," Turakhia says.

The biggest unknown surrounding AF screening is a simple one: Do its benefits outweigh its costs? "The current evidence is insufficient to say one way or the other," says Seth Landefeld, chair of the department of medicine at University of Alabama Birmingham and a member of the US Preventive Services Task Force, an independent, volunteer panel of national experts in disease prevention. That lack of evidence is why the USPSTF recommends against screening asymptomatic adults.

Town Squares

Stockholm Says No To Apple 'Town Square' In Its Oldest Park, by Richard Orange, The Guardian

To many in the city, it seems astonishing that the company could ever have thought Kungsträdgården – the King’s Garden – an appropriate place for a store, however outstanding its design. The park looks over the water to the Royal Palace, connecting the city to the monarchy in the same way that the Mall in London links to Buckingham Palace. It is one of the city’s oldest parks, the venue for public events from Pride parades to election debates, political protests to winter ice-skating.


In Stockholm and Melbourne, what disturbed many about Apple’s plans was the way the designs, both by Foster + Partners, reached out over the adjoining public space. The Stockholm store’s design gives it the feel of a futuristic Renaissance palace, with the entire park as its formal garden.

“Apple’s store places itself on a podium on the park’s central axis and dominates the setting, seen from the park,” Nyréns wrote in its response to the consultation. “The building, with its location and size, stakes a claim to be the park’s main building.”


Apple Watches Owners Asked To Return Devices For Repair After Update Glitch, by Leo Kelion, BBC

The problem appears to have baffled the firm's repair staff, and there appears to be no way at present for owners to restore the products themselves.

Several have said they have been told they need to send in the devices for a fix.

This Gadget Adds Two USB 3.0 Ports To Apple’s Power Adapter, by Matt Burns, TechCrunch

This is clever. Made by HyperDrive, the USB-C Hub slips onto an Apple USB-C power adapter and adds two USB 3.0 ports. That’s all. I love it and it addresses a major shortcoming of Apple’s current notebook lineup.


Brexit: UK Government's Battle With Apple Over EU Citizens App, by Brian Wheeler, BBC

As things stand, people with Apple devices will not be able to scan their passports and will either have to borrow an Android phone to complete their application or post their passport to the UK Visa and Immigration Service instead, meaning the process is likely to take longer.


But they were hoping Apple would release an update to its operating system to allow users of the firm's devices to scan their passports in the same way that people with Android phones.

The US tech giant has so far declined to do so, despite representations from UK government ministers, including a trip to the firm's Silicon Valley HQ by Home Secretary Sajid Javid.

Helium Implicated In Weird iPhone Malfunctions, by Peter Bright, Ars Technica

The iPhone user guide warns that proximity to helium can impair functionality and that to recover, devices should be left to air out for a week or so in an environment far away from the rogue helium. Harritaco discovered that, during installation of the MRI machine, some 120 litres of liquid helium leaked and vented into the environment. This created a relatively high helium concentration, and any Apple hardware exposed to that helium stopped working.

To test this hypothesis, harritaco conducted some experiments in which an iPhone was put in a sealed bag of helium; after a few minutes, it stopped working.

What An Apple Event Looks Like, And Why It Matters, by Kaitlyn Tiffany, Vox

This is the teaser trailer for Apple’s latest computer. Halfway through it, the sliver of metal untangles itself from the hovering silk and falls, Mad Men style, through empty white space, and then the silk is just an image on the laptop’s screen, and then the screen is shut and this is just an ad. “Lightness strikes again,” we are told. “The new MacBook Air.”

It’s the standard breathy-then-thumping sizzle reel for a new Apple product, the kind of thing that typically screens first at elaborate events held at the company’s Cupertino, California, campus. We know what to expect from these events at this point — their grandiosity and grand language is de rigueur and fodder for memes, and the meat of the announcement is almost always spoiled on tech sites the week before, hinted at or leaked or just really easy to guess.

Bottom of the Page

Do we have to wait another year before Apple figures out what to do with the MacBook. the MacBook Escape. and the iPad mini? Or will we see yet another Apple event around the early part of 2019, just like the days of Macworld Expos?

AirPods. AirPower. Mac Pro. Apple TV (the streaming content portion). Sure sounds like there are enough stuff to woo.


Thanks for reading.