Archive for December 2018

The Fit-in-a-Pocket Edition Monday, December 31, 2018

Apple And Google Can Help Power The Switch To Renewable Energy, by Leander Kahney, Wired

In 2010, Apple fired up a truly giant data centre located in some open fields near the rural town of Maiden in North Carolina. Apple chose the site because land was inexpensive, the state provided tasty tax breaks and energy from nearby coal plants was cheap. But coal was key. As one of the world’s largest data centres, the iDataCenter required enough energy to power a small city. And the local utility, Duke Energy, had lots of excess capacity.

Fast forward eight years, and Apple doesn’t use any coal-powered energy at all. In April, the company announced that its entire worldwide operation ran on 100 per cent renewable energy, including hundreds of retail stores, dozens of data centres and its huge campus in Cupertino, which has one of the world’s largest rooftop solar arrays.

Healthy Outlook: Best Apps To Keep Your Healthy New Year’s Resolutions, by Mackenzie Clark, Lawrence Journal-World

Keeping track of goals on paper or scribbled on a calendar works for some people, but there are smartphone apps that are more efficient and that fit better in a pocket. (We are going into 2019, after all.)

Here are a few apps to help you prevail — most of which I use or have used myself — sorted by your resolution. In all cases, there are plenty of apps out there that are similar to these, so do some exploring and see what floats your boat.

Apple Music Catching Up In Streaming Wars, by Josh O’Kane, The Globe And Mail

Historically the market leader in digital music by a wide margin, Apple is now facing its most even-sided battle yet to reach music consumers – at the same time as Apple Music is under pressure to perform within the company.

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Happy New Year!


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The Getting-Up-to-Speed Edition Sunday, December 30, 2018

Doctors Are Asking Silicon Valley Engineers To Spend More Time In The Hospital Before Building Apps, by Christina Farr, CNBC

Across the country, as more funding than ever pours into digital health, technologists are realizing that selling to doctors is more challenging than they expected. So spending time with clinicians by observing medical procedures and sitting in on consultations are some of the ways they're getting up to speed.

Big companies are going even further. Apple, for example, is hiring dozens of doctors for their expertise, and others are using experts to help make design decisions and to better understand how to sell into hospital networks.

Cameron Craig: We Used Communications To Turn Around Apple, by Alex Malouf, Digital Boom

"You look at the press releases for Apple’s products, and they were so easy to understand. Take for instance, the communications around the iPod. It was all about,” 1,000 songs in your pocket. Listening to music will never be the same again.” Short words and short sentences packed with emotion and meaning. There were no clichés, no jargon. As Steve Jobs used to say, if a mere mortal couldn’t understand our communications, then we’d failed. And you didn’t want to fail if you worked for Steve Jobs. Simplicity is a lost art. I get districted and tempted to use complex wording, techno mumbo-jumbo, and it’s not easy following this rule."

Jony Ive And Celebrated Designer Naoto Fukasawa Discuss Apple Park, Design Values, More In New Interview, by Michael Steeber, 9to5Mac

By constructing the campus primarily horizontally, new movement patterns are established that connect employees and the outside space. A similar philosophy is used to direct customer flow in new Apple retail stores.

Your Cash Is No Good Here. Literally., by Katherine Bindley, Wall Street Journal

Sam Schreiber was mid-shampoo at a Drybar blow-dry salon in Los Angeles when someone from the front desk approached her stylist with an emergency: a woman was trying to pay for her blow-out with cash.

“There was this beat of silence,” says Ms. Schreiber, 33 years old. “She literally brought $40.”

More and more businesses like Drybar don’t want your money—the paper kind at least. It’s making things awkward for those who come ill prepared. After all, you can’t give back a hairdo, an already dressed salad or the two beers you already drank.

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While I personally prefer using Apple Pay as much as possible, I do not think that getting rid of cash payment is a good idea at all.

Certainlly, minimizing cash robbery as well as reducing labor needed in handling cash are very valid reasons to avoid accepting cash. Which means, dear internet, we need a couple of new inventions.

Firstly, we need a paper-money-digitaization machine. You insert a piece of paper money into the machine, the machine recognizes the amount and credit it into your bank account, and then destroy that piece of paper money.

Secondly, we need a paper-money-printing machine. Which is just the reverse process: transfer money from your bank account into this machine, and out come the paper money. Just in time for you to return change back to your customers.

On-demand-paper-money. You hear it here first, folks.



Thanks for reading.

The Fallen-into-Disrepair Edition Saturday, December 29, 2018

Apple Wants To Colonize Our Famous Public Spaces. Even Its Fans Should Be Worried., by Paris Marx, NBC News

Critics in Washington, D.C., Melbourne and Stockholm all allege that Apple is adding nothing to the public spaces it is colonizing, and instead merely appropriating these iconic and historic areas for commercial ends. The company may be renovating the historical buildings it occupies, but many of those structures have only fallen into disrepair because the tax cuts these very companies and their shareholders fought for left governments starved of revenue and unable to maintain them. A space is about more than its architecture; commercialization robs public space of its focus on equity and accessibility, and that’s what residents are pushing back against.


Think back to the Apple store in Washington, D.C.’s Carnegie Library: if the city was serious about creating experiences for residents, it could have funded an arts’ center that would have offered programs for everyone, focusing, in particular, on underserved residents like young people and the poor. Instead, the “experiences” offered by Apple are designed around its pricey products, placing a high barrier to entry that will exclude those who most need access to the education and community that public spaces can provide. And in a space that was purposefully built to provide free access to knowledge for the whole of the community, it just seems wrong to let Apple take over.

Netflix Permanently Pulls iTunes Billing For New Users, by Manish Singh, VentureBeat

“We no longer support iTunes as a method of payment for new members,” a Netflix spokesperson told VentureBeat. Existing members, however, can continue to use iTunes as a method of payment, the spokesperson added.


The move, which will allow Netflix to keep all proceeds from its new paying iPhone and iPad customers, underscores the tension between developers and the marquee distributors of mobile apps — Apple and Google.

How To Check If Your Device Supports Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, by Peter Cao, 9to5Mac

You’ll be able to play interactive content on “smart TVs, streaming media players, game consoles, and iOS devices” according to Netflix’s official support document. Make sure both your device and the Netflix app is up to date to ensure the best performance.


Apple Pushes Colorful iPhone XR In Odd New ‘Color Flood’ Ad, by Zac Hall, 9to5Mac

The minute-long video mostly portrays a rather odd totalitarian society (or possibly a prison break?) where people are running through the streets in basic uniforms only distinguished by color.

Capsicum Launches A Beautiful Daily Planner For iOS, by Sarah Perez, TechCrunch

Like real-world daily planners from years ago, Capsicum lets you not only track your events and to-dos, it also offers a place to track other things not tied to a specific date and time — like your larger, longer-term goals, journal entries and even your daily habits — like whether you made it to the gym, or remembered to take your vitamins.

The One Mac App I Can’t Live Without, by Henry T. Casey, Laptop Magazine

Things is where I plan out projects, breaking them down into a laundry list of individual, actionable steps. For example, cooking my favorite dish — the New York Times' Takeout-Style Sesame Noodles — begins with checking the ingredients I have at home, then going shopping to replace stuff I'm out of. Then I start the dicing, mincing and mixing, before I boil the noodles and fold the sauce into them.

The reason behind this micro-level breakdown of instructions is to get a sense of how much time it will take for me to finish a project, so I can plan accordingly. As someone who chronically overloaded his schedule with chores and projects, and often wondered why he constantly failed to meet his own expectations, this process has helped explain it.

With Google Maps On Apple CarPlay, iPhone Owners Can Finally Ditch Clunky Mounts, by Sasha Lekach, Mashable

While getting texts and even for making calls or playing music, Google Maps app effortlessly blended into my other CarPlay needs. Even if it's not the default maps app, it's built for a dashboard, using the in-dash screen and car speakers to best effect. It also knows when not to hit you with information (the whole point of CarPlay and Android Auto are to give you safer, more car-suited experiences).

If you can't cross town without Google Maps and you've got an iPhone, this lets you navigate without a clunky car mount that might tax your battery to dangerously low levels. However, if you're hooked on all the features that Google's added to its navigation app, then you might be want to stick to the mobile app on a dashboard mount.

Answering A Quick Video Call To Help A Blind Person Is ‘So Awesome’, by Marisa Iati, Washington Post

The alert flashed across the screen of Christina De Leon’s iPhone on a recent morning: “Someone needs your help.”

De Leon, 36, answered the video call and saw a middle-aged blind man on the other end who said he needed help finding one of his dining room chairs.

It was the fourth call from a visually impaired person that De Leon got through the smartphone app Be My Eyes, but it was the first one she had been able to answer. She was nervous.

“I didn’t want to mess up or anything,” said De Leon, a photographer who lives in Fresno, Calif. “But I loved it.”


If You’re Over 50, Chances Are The Decision To Leave A Job Won’t Be Yours, by Peter Gosselin, ProPublica

ProPublica and the Urban Institute, a Washington think tank, analyzed data from the Health and Retirement Study, or HRS, the premier source of quantitative information about aging in America. Since 1992, the study has followed a nationally representative sample of about 20,000 people from the time they turn 50 through the rest of their lives.

Through 2016, our analysis found that between the time older workers enter the study and when they leave paid employment, 56 percent are laid off at least once or leave jobs under such financially damaging circumstances that it’s likely they were pushed out rather than choosing to go voluntarily.


“This isn’t how most people think they’re going to finish out their work lives,” said Richard Johnson, an Urban Institute economist and veteran scholar of the older labor force who worked on the analysis. “For the majority of older Americans, working after 50 is considerably riskier and more turbulent than we previously thought.”


Waze Tongue Sues Apple For Siri Voice Jacking, by Lital Dobrovitsky, Calcalistech

The longtime voice of Waze navigation app in Hebrew is suing Apple for using her voice for Siri. She takes particular issue with the type of content her voice is coaxed into saying as Apple’s digital voice assistant. "Her voice on the Siri app is nothing but syllables joined together by an algorithm," Apple said in response.


According to the lawsuit, filed by lawyer Ravit Ben Sarouk–Vilozny, hundreds of thousands of people use the Hebrew version of Siri daily. Apple has turned the plaintiff's voice “into a vehicle for improper and humiliating speech,” the lawsuit alleges. Gura-Eini’s voice is “widely identified and associated” with her own live persona, it continues.

TV Antennas Are Making A Comeback In The Age Of Digital Streaming, by Stephen Battaglio, Los Angeles Times

The TV antenna is a piece of 20th century technology that evokes memories of rabbit ears placed atop the mahogany cabinet of the old Zenith in your grandparents’ living room. But Rudnick is among a growing number of consumers who are turning to over-the-air digital antennas — a one-time investment of as little as $20 — as a way to slash their monthly video subscription costs.

Research firms and electronics manufacturers say cord-cutting consumers such as Rudnick have driven up TV antenna sales and usage in recent years. These “value-conscious streamers,” as they are known in the industry, are willing to cobble together a mosaic of video sources to replace the traditional pay TV bundle, which now costs an average of $107 a month, according to a recent study by the Leichtman Research Group.

The Sound Of Silence, by Penelope Green, New York Times

On winter nights, the white-noise app on my phone is tuned to Air Conditioner: a raspy, metallic whir that sounds like the mechanical noise that might echo deep inside the ductwork of a huge commercial building. (Among the app’s other offerings are Dishwasher Rinsing, Crowded Room and Vacuum Cleaner.)

It lulls me to sleep nonetheless, because it blankets the din in my apartment (the ragged snore of a roommate; the clanking of the steam radiator; the cat’s skidding pursuit of something only he can see).


My app is but one note in the mighty chorus of white-noise generators, an exploding industry of mechanical and digital devices; apps and websites, and Sonos and Spotify playlists that grows ever more refined, as if to block out the increased rate of speeding, the wrecks, on the information superhighway.

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Does Apple News' ambition include starting up a new -- let's call it Beats World Service -- radio station over Apple News?


One possible outcome of app makers opting out of in-app purchases: Apple start charging hosting fee for free apps with no revenues.


Thanks for reading.

The Engineered-to-be-Extreme Edition Friday, December 28, 2018

Why 2019 Could Be An Enormous Year Of Change For The Mac, by Jason Snell, Macworld

But let me go against the grain of Apple’s recent trends. Why make a Mac Pro if it’s just an iMac without a screen? Is a swappable screen, no matter how good, the only real reason to buy a Mac Pro? I can’t see it. So what I’m hoping for is a Mac Pro that zigs when the rest of the Mac zags, with slots for new graphics cards, banks of upgradeable internal storage, and pretty much anything else you can think of. The result will probably be the lowest-selling product by units in the Mac line, and it’s not going to be cheap—and that’s just fine. The Mac Pro will be engineered to be extreme, and priced accordingly. Otherwise, why even bother making it?

What To Expect From Apple In 2019, by Dan Moren, Macworld

Apple announced at WWDC 2018 that it is working on giving developers the ability to creates apps that work on both iOS and macOS.

While that doesn’t necessarily mean a Mac with an Apple-designed CPU will be on sale before the end of the year, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference featured an announcement that such a product was on its way. That would give developers time to update their apps, though at this point architecture transitions are starting to feel like old hat for many Mac developers.

Foxconn To Begin Assembling Top-end Apple iPhones In India In 2019 - Source, by Sankalp Phartiyal, Sudarshan Varadhan, Reuters

Apple Inc will begin assembling its top-end iPhones in India through the local unit of Foxconn as early as 2019, the first time the Taiwanese contract manufacturer will have made the product in the country, according to a source familiar with the matter.

Importantly, Foxconn will be assembling the most expensive models, such as devices in the flagship iPhone X family, the source said, potentially taking Apple’s business in India to a new level.

Money Play

Apple Lost $9 Billion Buying Back Its Own Stock. There’s A Lesson Here., by Jordan Weissmann, Slate

In theory, corporations ought to purchase their stock when it’s undervalued—buy low, sell high (not that companies really sell their own stock these days; instead, they tend to use it as compensation for employees or to make acquisitions). But some CEO’s may be tempted execute buybacks at times that maximize the value of their stock options, whether or not it’s actually a good deal for the company. And more broadly, buybacks tend to be procyclical; they boom when profits and share prices are high, so a bunch of companies end up buying at the top of the market—just like we’ve seen with Apple, Citigroup, and Wells Fargo this year.

Apple's $62.9 Billion Stock Buyback Program Called A Bad Investment In New Report, by Andrew O'Hara, AppleInsider

Noting that the $62.9 billion that Apple spent repurchasing its own shares is now "worth" just $54 billion had the stock been retained, [Wall Street Journal] claims that the figure represents a loss of $9 billion had they purchased the shares at today's market price of $151.

The report spends very little time noting that those repurchased shares were retired, however, and no longer have any direct monetary value. Instead, the retirement boosts the earnings per share metric that the company must report every quarter.


Christmas Tech: Apps To Help Kickstart Your Fitness, by Ciara O'Brien, Irish Times

Christmas Day is done, and with it (hopefully) the worst of the excesses. Need to blow away the cobwebs? These apps may help.

Look At Famous Paintings As If You Were There, by Mallory Barrett,

The Arts & Culture app uses augmented reality to create virtual art galleries, and as of this writing, the only gallery available is dedicated to classic Vermeer paintings, including the famous "Girl with a Pearl Earring."


Teaching Collections: Shifting Paradigms And Breaking Rules, by Erica Sadun

So why do we always have to lump arrays, sets, and dictionaries into a single lesson on collections?

A new language learner has little interest in traversing dictionaries, although it’s possible, or taking a set’s prefix, which is also allowed. Nor are new learners always prepared to take on optionals, the core return value for dictionary lookups, early in the language learning process.


NPR Wants To Know What Podcast Ads You Skip, by Ashley Carman, The Verge

Apple and Spotify have not yet announced support for RAD. Spotify did not respond to a request for comment, and Apple declined to comment. NPR did confirm to The Verge, however, that Apple employees offered their feedback on the RAD protocol, so Apple’s team knows it exists and has had a hand in its development.

How Much Of The Internet Is Fake?, by Max Read, New York Magazine

How much of the internet is fake? Studies generally suggest that, year after year, less than 60 percent of web traffic is human; some years, according to some researchers, a healthy majority of it is bot. For a period of time in 2013, the Times reported this year, a full half of YouTube traffic was “bots masquerading as people,” a portion so high that employees feared an inflection point after which YouTube’s systems for detecting fraudulent traffic would begin to regard bot traffic as real and human traffic as fake. They called this hypothetical event “the Inversion.”

In the future, when I look back from the high-tech gamer jail in which President PewDiePie will have imprisoned me, I will remember 2018 as the year the internet passed the Inversion, not in some strict numerical sense, since bots already outnumber humans online more years than not, but in the perceptual sense. Everything that once seemed definitively and unquestionably real now seems slightly fake; everything that once seemed slightly fake now has the power and presence of the real. The “fakeness” of the post-Inversion internet is less a calculable falsehood and more a particular quality of experience — the uncanny sense that what you encounter online is not “real” but is also undeniably not “fake,” and indeed may be both at once, or in succession, as you turn it over in your head.

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The new Mac Mini is probably the Mac Pro that a lot of customers wanted, and this allows Apple to do a Mac Pro for the rest of the Pros.

Hopefully, Apple will update the Mac Mini regularly this time round, now that the mission of the machine has changed.


Thanks for reading.

The Worked-So-Well Edition Thursday, December 27, 2018

Welcome To The Walled Garden, We’ve Got Phones And Games, by Casey Johnston, The Outline

What’s funny is that for all of the flack Apple has taken for building its walled garden — criticism that lunged from chiding and superior (“You’ll never achieve market dominance that way”) to enraged and condemning (‘What right do you have to prevent people from putting whatever apps and music they want on their phones?”) — it worked, and worked so well that Apple never even needed to achieve market dominance to become the nation’s most valuable company ever. Apple’s gamble was that it could not only compete against sheer volume, but that it could eclipse it.


But the grand irony to the walled garden is that while it’s largely paid off, becoming such a large part of the world means Apple can no longer keep it out.

In 2019, Apple Needs To Change iPhone’s Call UI Because Robocalls Are Killing Us, by Spencer Dailey

It’s absolutely bonkers that millions of smartphone users get their full screen taken over by robocallers on a daily basis. Tapping Decline is not a great option because it actually tells the robocaller that you’re with your phone and are annoyed by the call, information I’d rather not give.


9 Apps To Help You De-stress Over The Holiday Season, by Joshua Rotter, CNET

But calm can be as close as your phone or tablet. So stop, take a breath and explore some of the most effective serenity-inducing techniques out there with our top apps to help you de-stress over the holiday season.

From coloring to cognitive behavioral therapy-based exercises, journaling to autonomous sensory meridian response and yoga to traditional therapy, you'll finally achieve that once-elusive zenned-out state that you can carry with you into 2019.


Why You Can’t Manage Humans Like They’re Software, by Cate Huston, Quartz

But the things we ask of humans are messier, more complicated, and not well defined in mathematics. If I follow the information API and learn that a project is off-track, and it’s a team or lead that I trust, I will start with “how can I help?” If there’s no trust there, especially when it’s something we need to rely on, or this kind of thing has happened too many times before, it’s tempting to start with “What on earth is going on?


Apple Music To Open Offices At May Hosiery Site In Wedgewood-Houston, by Sandy Mazza, Tennessean

Apple Music will open a content creation office in the historic May Hosiery complex in Wedgewood-Houston, officials close to the deal said Wednesday.

The music and video streaming service will have 30,000 square-foot offices as well as outdoor event space at the historic factory, which is currently being restored.

One Giant Step For A Chess-Playing Machine, by Steven Strogatz, New York Times

Tellingly, AlphaZero won by thinking smarter, not faster; it examined only 60 thousand positions a second, compared to 60 million for Stockfish. It was wiser, knowing what to think about and what to ignore. By discovering the principles of chess on its own, AlphaZero developed a style of play that “reflects the truth” about the game rather than “the priorities and prejudices of programmers,” Mr. Kasparov wrote in a commentary accompanying the Science article.

The question now is whether machine learning can help humans discover similar truths about the things we really care about: the great unsolved problems of science and medicine, such as cancer and consciousness; the riddles of the immune system, the mysteries of the genome.

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Yes, the phone-call modal-dialog thing on the iPhone is extremely irritating. Phone calls will also stop my audiobooks or podcasts from playing while I am standing in the subway train with my hands holding on to my dear life and am in no mood to listen to somebody yapping on the phone.

When Apple announced the iPhone many years ago — the computer phone that runs OS X, I was excited that I could start having finer control over how phone calls and text messages are handled. I was thinking of processing rules and cronjobs and so on.

I have been disappointed ever since.


Thanks for reading.

The Thumbing-My-Way Edition Wednesday, December 26, 2018

We Finally Started Taking Screen Time Seriously In 2018, by Catherine Shu, TechCrunch

Many smartphone users are probably in my situation: alarmed by their screen time stats, unhappy about the time they waste, but also finding it hard to quit their devices. We don’t just use our smartphones to distract ourselves or get a quick dopamine rush with social media likes. We use it to manage our workload, keep in touch with friends, plan our days, read books, look up recipes, and find fun places to go. I’ve often thought about buying a Yondr bag or asking my husband to hide my phone from me, but I know that ultimately won’t help.

As cheesy as it sounds, the impetus for change must come from within. No amount of academic research, screen time apps, or analytics can make up for that.

One thing I tell myself is that unless developers find more ways to force us to change our behavior or another major paradigm shift occurs in mobile communications, my relationship with my smartphone will move in cycles. Sometimes I’ll be happy with my usage, then I’ll lapse, then I’ll take another Moment course or try another screen time app, and hopefully get back on track. In 2018, however, the conversation around screen time finally gained some desperately needed urgency (and in the meantime, I’ve actually completed some knitting projects instead of just thumbing my way through #knittersofinstagram).

Why You Need To Use A Password Manager, by Zack Whittaker, TechCrunch

Password managers don’t just store your passwords — they help you generate and save strong, unique passwords when you sign up to new websites. That means whenever you go to a website or app, you can pull up your password manager, copy your password, paste it into the login box, and you’re in. Often, password managers come with browser extensions that automatically fill in your password for you.

And because many of the password managers out there have encrypted sync across devices, you can take your passwords anywhere with you — even on your phone.


New Office Hours Aim For Well Rested, More Productive Workers, by Emily Laber-Warren, New York Times

To determine your chronotype, imagine that you have two weeks of vacation to spend as you like, with no evening or morning commitments and no pets or children to wake you. Chronotypes reflect habits as well as biology, so you would also need to eliminate caffeine and avoid artificial light at night, which pushes a person’s chronotype later. At what time would you tend to fall asleep and wake up? Don’t be surprised if you’re unsure. After years spent accommodating work, family and social commitments at the expense of sleep, “a lot of people don’t know what rhythm they have,” Ms. Kring said.

The most frequent chronotype — held by about 15 percent of the population — sleeps from around midnight to 8 a.m. Thirty-five percent of people have an earlier natural bedtime, and 50 percent have a later one. That means for at least 65 percent of the population, getting to the office by 8 or 9 a.m. requires waking up before their body is ready.


Two Years Later, I Still Miss The Headphone Port, by Greg Kumparak, TechCrunch

I’ve been trying to figure out why the removal of the headphone port bugs me more than other ports that have been unceremoniously killed off, and I think it’s because the headphone port almost always only made me happy. Using the headphone port meant listening to my favorite album, or using a free minute to catch the latest episode of a show, or passing an earbud to a friend to share some new tune. It enabled happy moments and never got in the way.

Now every time I want to use my headphones, I just find myself annoyed.

Why The Internet Has Ruined Christmas Shopping Forever, by Matthew Cantor, The Guardian

But every year, as more and more stuff evaporates from the physical world to take up residence on a subscription service, the holidays get a little harder. It’s not like you can just buy someone a Netflix account – that’s a monthly financial commitment, and anyway I think there’s only about three accounts in existence, shared by 78% of the global population.

I realize having unlimited access to every form of media ever created has its perks. I just get a bit nostalgic around this time of year.

The Gift Of Gaming: The Joys Of Getting A Console For Christmas, by Keith Stuart, The Guardian

We all remember that one Christmas present we got as a kid. The one we’d begged our parents for all year, the one we’d looked up 100 times in the Argos catalogue or on Amazon, depending on our age …

For many of us, that present was a games machine. Whether it was a ZX Spectrum or a PlayStation 2, the process of unpacking these technological marvels, getting our mums and dads to set them up, then finally playing with the whole family, was magical. We asked game developers, gaming journalists and Guardian readers to share their favourite memories of receiving a games console at Christmas. They didn’t disappoint.

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The interesting (to me) question for the highly-speculated upcoming transition of the Mac platform: Will it be a Mac that happens to run iOS apps, or will it be an iDevice that happens to run macOS apps?

Marzipan points to the former, but the end-goal, if we can have something like an end-goal for an industry that is always in transition, has to be latter. Apple has declared the future of computing, and Apple doesn't do anything that is not the future of anything.

Remember the first version of Mac OS X? That's a NeXTStep machine that runs Mac apps. There were a whole bunch of things lost in that transition, but the Mac gained a future.

In my mind, Marzipan will be Mac OS 9. The next Mac OS X has yet to arrive.


Thanks for reading.

The Kills-Cellular-Data Edition Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Some iOS 12.1.2 Users Reporting Bug That Kills Cellular Data — Here’s How To Fix It, by Alex Allegro, 9to5Mac

The first possible solutions comes way of disabling Wi-Fi Calling via the Cellular menu within the Settings app.

If that doesn’t work, head to Cellular Data Options on the same screen and change Enable LTE from Voice & Data to Data Only.

iA Writer 5.2: Better Typography And External Library Locations, by Federico Viticci, MacStories

Besides its beautiful typography and best-in-class syntax highlight for parts of speech, iA Writer is among the few apps that take advantage of the full spectrum of Files APIs in the modern iOS, which is something I've increasingly come to rely on for my work.

Evernote Review: Is The iOS Note-taking App Still The Best For Notes On iPhone And iPad?, by Jonathan Greig, CNET

Evernote has been able to take advantage of the latest iPhone software to make itself a one-stop shop for notes, photos, lists, PDFs and website clippings. Despite the company's struggles to stay afloat in a tough app market, it still is one of the best information gathering platforms available, and anyone tired of losing track of information should look into getting an Evernote account and sync across desktop and mobile apps.

Great Apps For New iPads, by Josh Ginter, The Sweet Setup

I hope the following five apps give your new iPad a jump-start into the areas the latest iPads most succeed.

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Today, I feel like a Japanese; I just had KFC chicken for Christmas dinner.



Thanks for reading.

The Most-Deceptive Edition Monday, December 24, 2018

Which Smart Speaker Lies The Most About Santa Claus?, by Rachel Withers, Slate

All the smart speakers are fairly committed to maintaining the Santa myth, but Google Assistant, by virtue of its North Pole/Saint Nicholas slip-up, is the most truthful smart speaker.

Siri, on the other, is by far the most deceptive. Apple’s digital assistant is highly invested in keeping up the charade, from claiming it can see his house from the cloud to acting as if questioning Santa’s existence is a shameful crime. But Siri was also both the most prepared for Christmas questions and the fastest to respond.

Apple Watch Brought Attention To Tech Needs Of The Elderly, But We Can Do Better, by Assaf Sella, The Next Web

My prediction for 2019 is that the truly effective personal technology devices will need to get beyond just fall detection and focus on senior wellness. These systems need to address pre-emption just as much as they need to handle accident response. If you can detect small changes in behavior or an alteration in a senior’s daily routine — like a decline in meal preparation time, or an increase in sleep during day time — it might actually be warning sign of a deterioration in physical or mental condition, or the onset of a disease.

Effective wellness monitoring allows for the use of technological solutions that can employ predictive insights. Using AI, these systems can understand the context of the senior’s activity and track and learn daily routines such as eating, sleeping, and hygiene. That empowers family and gerontological support staff to make better informed decisions that can stave off the risks of aging.

A Busy Year For Meditation Apps, by Sophia Kunthara, San Francisco Chronicle

Meditation apps are on the rise, as more users turn to their phones to find their zen.

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Merry Christmas!


Thanks for reading.

The Size-and-Character Edition Sunday, December 23, 2018

The Secret Of Apple's Success In Selling Premium Tech As An Affordable Luxury, by Roughly Drafted

Apple's is the only computing platform that can claim to offer both a truly integrated experience across an ecosystem of devices and one that serves a billion people globally. There are some small boutique brands with fiercely loyal customers, and some mega producers who crank out huge volumes of unexceptional commodity, but nobody else has both the size and character of Apple.

Only Idiots Start Their Day At 4 A.m. By Choice, by Geoffrey James, Inc

The idea that rising at 4 a.m. makes you successful is just as stupid as thinking that you'll be more successful if you burn yourself out working 100 hours a week, or that open plan offices will increase productivity. It's bullsh*t from top to bottom.

It's time for us non-idiots to say "enough with this macho crap."

Waking Up At 4 In The Morning Won’t Make You A CEO, by Rachelle Hampton, Slate

For my money, though, people weren’t angry enough. It’s completely insane that “successful” people think that to be your most productive self, you must not only work through every waking moment but add more waking moments to your day, then work through those. Never to be questioned are jobs whose tasks cannot be finished within a normal 40-hour week or a work culture that romanticizes burnout.

Douglas Adams Was Right: “Genuine People Personalities” Are Coming To Our Gadgets, by Steven Brykman, Ars Technica

But with AI in everything, and everything connected, at some point your appliances will get even more personal. What’s next? Integrating the refrigerator with my Apple Health Profile, so the next time I go for a pint of Ben & Jerry’s I hear something snippy like, “You haven’t closed your exercise ring this week and you’re looking a little... how should I put this?”

Seriously, that’s going to happen. It might also save lives. Consider the scenario of audible warnings which are triggered when you pull an item off a supermarket shelf that contains an ingredient to which you (or even a member of your family) is allergic.

Before long, these devices will be all around us, and the experience will feel increasingly like talking to a real person. You’re never alone, even when you’re completely alone. Except that, in reality, you are.

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I do, occasionally, wake up earlier -- not to get more work done in the wee hours in the morning, but to go for a more leisurely breakfast before I report to work.

Of course, I am also not a CEO.


My idea of leisurely: a cup of coffee in my hand, earphones in my ears (you can't find a quiet spot in Singapore), and a good book in my iPhone.


Thanks for reading.

The Level-of-Flatness Edition Saturday, December 22, 2018

Apple's Dan Riccio Says 2018 iPad Pro 'Meets Or Exceeds' Quality Standards Of Design And Precision, More Info To Come, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

Apple's specification for iPad Pro flatness is up to 400 microns, which is "even tighter than previous generations." Riccio reiterates that this level of flatness won't change during normal use, nor does it affect function.

Beyoncé Albums Leaked Online, Causing Concerns About Streaming Platforms, by Ben Sisario, New York Times

Unauthorized recordings online are nothing new, of course, but are usually found on YouTube or on file-sharing networks. Yet the fact that two albums by one of the biggest stars in the world were available on Spotify and Apple — two giant online outlets long seen by the music industry as bulwarks against piracy — is largely unheard-of.

Apple Expands iPhone XS And XR Trade-in Program Countries Around The World, by Mikey Campbell, AppleInsider

According to regional Apple websites, similar offers are now available in Australia, Canada, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Macau, Taiwan. Beyond North America and Asia, a clutch of European countries — Austria, Belgium, Germany, Spain, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Sweden, the UK — are also included in the promotion.


Review: ABC Mouse Learning Academy Is My Toddler's Favorite App, by Tristan Greene, The Next Web

Overall, ABC Mouse is the first app that I would wholeheartedly recommend to anyone trying to find an educational app they can trust alone with their young children, and it’ll grow with them all the way through 2nd grade.


The NYT’s Facebook Investigation Didn’t Prove Quite What Everyone Seems To Think, by Will Oremus, Slate

What has changed to make this sort of feature the subject of a front-page New York Times exposé? Not Facebook’s privacy practices, which by all accounts were worse several years ago than they are today. No, what has changed is that Facebook has forfeited our trust to the point that we are primed to assume the worst of it.

That confirmation bias has become so pervasive that even people like Klobuchar let it cloud their understanding of Facebook’s actions.

Towards The Future Book, by Tim Carmody,

I think there’s a huge commercial future for the book, and for reading more broadly, rooted in the institutions of the present that Craig identifies: crowdfunding, self-publishing, Amazon as a portal, email newsletters, etc. etc. But the noncommercial future of the book is where all the messianic energy still remains. It’s still the greatest opportunity and the hardest problem we have before us. It’s the problem that our generation has to solve. And at the moment, we’re nowhere.

The Case For Taking AI Seriously As A Threat To Humanity, by Kelsey Piper, Vox

The conversation about AI is full of confusion, misinformation, and people talking past each other — in large part because we use the word “AI” to refer to so many things. So here’s the big picture on how artificial intelligence might pose a catastrophic threat, in nine questions.

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If someone tries to publish an iPhone AR app that can measure flatness, will Apple block the app?

I wonder if Apple's Measure app can measure in microns...


Thanks for reading.

The Quiet-Revolution Edition Friday, December 21, 2018

The 'Future Book' Is Here, But It's Not What We Expected, by Craig Mod, Wired

Yet here’s the surprise: We were looking for the Future Book in the wrong place. It’s not the form, necessarily, that needed to evolve—I think we can agree that, in an age of infinite distraction, one of the strongest assets of a “book” as a book is its singular, sustained, distraction-free, blissfully immutable voice. Instead, technology changed everything that enables a book, fomenting a quiet revolution. Funding, printing, fulfillment, community-building—everything leading up to and supporting a book has shifted meaningfully, even if the containers haven’t. Perhaps the form and interactivity of what we consider a “standard book” will change in the future, as screens become as cheap and durable as paper. But the books made today, held in our hands, digital or print, are Future Books, unfuturistic and inert may they seem.

In Revamped Transparency Report, Apple Reveals Uptick In Demands For User Data, by Zack Whittaker, TechCrunch

The report found Germany as the top requester, issuing 13,704 requests for data on 26,160 devices. Apple said that the figures were due to the high volume of device requests due to stolen devices. The U.S. was in second place with 4,570 requests for 14,911 devices.

Apple also received 4,177 requests for account data, such as information stored in iCloud — up by almost 25 percent on the previous reporting period — affecting some 40,641 accounts, a four-fold increase. The company said the spike was attributable to China, which asked for thousands of devices’ worth of data under a single fraud investigation.

Lacking and Wanting

Germany To Ban Some iPhone Sales Following Qualcomm Patent Case Ruling, But Apple Can Still Appeal, by Lauren Feiner, CNBC

In a statement, Apple said it plans to appeal the ruling. Under this condition, judge Matthias Zigann told the court earlier Thursday, the ruling would not go into immediate effect. However, Apple said that throughout the appeal process, iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 models would not be sold in its 15 retail stores in Germany. Its newest models, iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max and iPhone XR will still be sold in those stores, Apple said in the statement. All iPhone models will still be sold through carriers and other third-party retailers in Germany, Apple said.

Qualcomm Blocked Evidence In German Apple Suit That Previously Led To Non-infringement Finding In US, by Daniel Eran Dilger, AppleInsider

"It's all because Qualcomm alleged something and Apple couldn't deny it without violating Qorvo's secrets," Mueller stated. "I am shocked that Qualcomm's procedural gamesmanship — firstly conducting discovery in the U.S. for the stated purpose of presenting chipset schematics in the Munich court, then making an about-face and asking the German court to rule, and the court-appointed expert to opine, on a basis that's lacking and wanting — has been rewarded.

"If they have the law and the facts on their side, they deserve to win, but here they wanted--and disconcertingly obtained--a ruling on a basis that I've previously called 'evidentiary minimalism' and which would be totally unimaginable in the United States with its far-reaching discovery regime."


This AR App Hops Into 'Spatial Storytelling' With Cartoon Bunnies, by Joan E. Solsman, CNET

Wonderscope, an augmented reality app for Apple devices, has added a new story to its library of immersive, interactive digital miniplays. Called "Wonder's Land Ringmaster Wanted," the story makes the user a central character interacting with an exasperated white bunny known as Wonder. The app and the new story are free.


Instagram For iPhone XR And XS Max No Longer Optimized? Here’s Why, by Guilherme Rambo, 9to5Mac

From what we’ve been able to gather from sources, the Facebook team had to distribute the app with an older version of Xcode because of a common crash that can occur with apps compiled using the iOS 12 SDK but running on iOS 9, a system version which a large number of users of Instagram are still running.


Magnets: A Common Apple Magic Trick, by Stephen Hackett, MacStories

The MagSafe adaptor is perhaps the most well-known use of magnets to Mac users. First introduced with the original MacBook Pro way back in 2006, MagSafe promised a future where simply tripping over a power cable wouldn't guarantee a massive laptop repair bill.

The Cost Of Living In Mark Zuckerberg’s Internet Empire, by Brian Phillips, The Ringer

From Zuckerberg’s perspective, the whole point of Facebook has always been to bring people together. Well, nothing brings people together like an empire. Talk about engagement with a platform! The question, for those of us who would prefer to remain barbarians (and who hold out hope of someday sacking Rome), is how does he imagine an empire expands its borders? Who is Facebook making war on, if not us?

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I am of the generation that grew up with the notion that computers and magnets are not supposed to mix.


Thanks for reading.

The Slight-Bend Edition Thursday, December 20, 2018

Apple Confirms Some iPad Pros Ship Slightly Bent, But Says It’s Normal, by Chris Welch, The Verge

Apple has confirmed to The Verge that some of its 2018 iPad Pros are shipping with a very slight bend in the aluminum chassis. But according to the company, this is a side effect of the device’s manufacturing process and shouldn’t worsen over time or negatively affect the flagship iPad’s performance in any practical way. Apple does not consider it to be a defect.

The bend is the result of a cooling process involving the iPad Pro’s metal and plastic components during manufacturing, according to Apple. Both sizes of the new iPad Pro can exhibit it.

No, Apple, A Slightly Bent iPad Pro Straight Out Of The Box Isn't Acceptable, by Mike Wuerthele, AppleInsider

A slightly bent chassis may not impede the new iPad Pro from working right, but Apple implying that this happening in any quantity to end-users is okay in any way defies reason.

Granting Broad Powers

As Facebook Raised A Privacy Wall, It Carved An Opening For Tech Giants, by Gabriel J.X. Dance, New York Times

For years, Facebook gave some of the world’s largest technology companies more intrusive access to users’ personal data than it has disclosed, effectively exempting those business partners from its usual privacy rules, according to internal records and interviews.


The social network allowed Microsoft’s Bing search engine to see the names of virtually all Facebook users’ friends without consent, the records show, and gave Netflix and Spotify the ability to read Facebook users’ private messages.

The social network permitted Amazon to obtain users’ names and contact information through their friends, and it let Yahoo view streams of friends’ posts as recently as this summer, despite public statements that it had stopped that type of sharing years earlier.

5 Ways Facebook Shared Your Data, by Jennifer Valentino-DeVries, New York Times

As recently as this summer, Yahoo was able to view a stream of posts from these people’s friends, and it is unclear what the company did with that information. A Yahoo spokesman said the company did not use the information for advertising. [...] A Netflix spokesman said the company was not aware it had been granted such broad powers and had used the access only for messages sent by the recommendation feature.

How Much Trust Can Facebook Afford To Lose?, by Evan Osnos, New Yorker

In a response to the Times story, Konstantinos Papamiltiadis, Facebook’s director of developer platforms and programs, conceded that “we’ve needed tighter management” of data sharing but stood by the company’s claim that “none of these partnerships or features gave companies access to information without people’s permission.” After two years of declining public confidence, that’s an astonishingly obtuse thing to say. Users did have to check a box to integrate Facebook and Spotify. But does Facebook really believe that users understood that it would give Spotify the right to read private messages? On Twitter, Senator Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, wrote, “Opening someone else’s mail is a federal crime. Why is @Facebook allowed to let Netflix and Spotify open your private messages? Mark Zuckerberg might think of this as just “data”, but this is people’s private lives. We need a law to protect Americans’ sensitive information.”


Apple Confirms iOS 12.1.2 Addresses Qualcomm Patents, Introduces New Force Closing App Animation In China, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

In China, as planned, iOS 12.1.2 also implements minor changes to address two Qualcomm patents that led to a Chinese court issuing a preliminary injunction on the iPhone 6s through iPhone X last week, according to Apple's release notes in Chinese.

The Big Online Dating Rebrand, by Jonah Engel Bromwich, New York Times

It’s as if the apps have realized we’ve become disenchanted with their ways, and now they’re making an effort to treat us right. They want to gain our trust, so we’ll settle down with them for the long haul.

After all, it’s been more than half a decade since they were invented, and if you’ve been single in the last five years, chances are you’ve used one. In its annual survey of 5,000 Americans, Match Group, the dating conglomerate that owns Tinder and OkCupid, found that singles met first dates on the internet more than through any other venue, and that 62 percent of millennials surveyed had used a dating app.

Dating via phone app was once novel and consequently, exciting. Now, it’s just dating.

DayOne Is The Last Diary You'll Ever Need, by Chris Taylor, Mashable

So it's a little surprising, a couple of years later, to find that I've digitized the heck out of all those diaries and put them into a journaling app called DayOne. Why? Because DayOne makes it seductively easy to write secure, backed-up entries from most any device — Mac, iPad, iPhone, Android phone — and also makes it easy to insert any kind of legacy stuff (including photos and PDFs) into entries for any date in the past.


Apple Changes App Store Rules To Allow Users To Gift In-App Purchases To Friends And Family, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

Apple today made a tweak to its App Store Review Guidelines, allowing developers to implement a new feature that will let iOS users purchase in-app content as a gift.


iPhone Hysteria, by Neil Cybart, Above Avalon

While the iPhone remains the most effective tool for bringing new users into the Apple ecosystem, something that will continue even if unit sales decline in any given year, the iPhone is now becoming a stepping stone in getting Apple’s wearables platform off the ground. The Apple Watch still requires an iPhone to set up. It won’t be surprising if Apple’s upcoming smart glasses require an iPhone to set up. It’s not that the iPhone is the hub and wearable devices are the spokes of an Apple "wheel.” Instead, the iPhone is being used to promote more personal devices that will one day surpass the iPhone in terms of utility and value.

The Coming Commodification Of Life At Home, by Joe Pinsker, The Atlantic

Over the past several years, the American home has seen a proliferation of “smart,” or internet-connected, devices and appliances. There are, of course, smart speakers (which roughly a quarter of American homes have) and smart thermostats, as well as smart thermometers, smart mattress covers, smart coffee makers, smart doorbells, and even, yes, a smart toaster. After Amazon recently announced the release of a slew of products compatible with its Alexa voice assistant, including a smart microwave and a smart wall clock, an executive for the company said he could imagine “a future with thousands of devices like this.”

These thousands of devices, or even just hundreds or tens, would capture an unprecedented amount of data about domestic life. They present a possible future in which the experience of doing stuff at home converges with the experience of being online, in which a company can catalog people’s daily habits and present them with more of what it thinks they’ll like—the transformation of the home into just another tech platform.

We've Got The Screen Time Debate All Wrong. Let's Fix It, by Robbie Gonzalez, Wired

The operative word there is "starting." Because that granularity exists not only between apps, but within them: The time someone spends actively watching YouTube videos from Khan Academy is different from the time they spend consuming passively from the platform's algorithmically generated nexus of conspiracy theories or disturbing kids' videos. That's a subtlety researchers are only just beginning to explore, but Odgers, Dowling, and Przybyski all agree that studying these intra-application differences will be essential to understanding not only the full scope of screen time's impact, but when and whether our relationships with our devices warrant actual concern.

The Type-with-My-Thumbs Edition Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Why Is The Split Keyboard Not Available On iPad Pros?, by John Gruber, Daring Fireball

Why not allow it to be split and revert to the same split keyboard as on non-Pro iPads? What makes this more baffling is that the bigger the iPad is, the more likely it is that you need a split keyboard — and the iPad Pros are the biggest iPads Apple has made. I want to type with my thumbs, iPhone-style, and can’t, because my iPad is too big.

No, You Don’t Really Look Like That, by Alexis C. Madrigal, The Atlantic

What’s changed is this: The cameras know too much. All cameras capture information about the world—in the past, it was recorded by chemicals interacting with photons, and by definition, a photograph was one exposure, short or long, of a sensor to light. Now, under the hood, phone cameras pull information from multiple image inputs into one picture output, along with drawing on neural networks trained to understand the scenes they’re being pointed at. Using this other information as well as an individual exposure, the computer synthesizes the final image, ever more automatically and invisibly.

The stakes can be high: Artificial intelligence makes it easy to synthesize videos into new, fictitious ones often called “deepfakes.” “We’ll shortly live in a world where our eyes routinely deceive us,” wrote my colleague Franklin Foer. “Put differently, we’re not so far from the collapse of reality.” Deepfakes are one way of melting reality; another is changing the simple phone photograph from a decent approximation of the reality we see with our eyes to something much different. It is ubiquitous and low temperature, but no less effective. And probably a lot more important to the future of technology companies.

How Amazon, Apple, And Google Played The Tax-Break Game, by Paris Martineau, Wired

It took about 30 minutes for Williamson County commissioners to unanimously approve a roughly $16 million incentive package for Apple Tuesday morning, bringing the total amount the tech giant is likely to receive in exchange for choosing Austin as the site for its newest campus to a cool $41 million. The new addition is set to be Apple’s second campus in the Austin, Texas area—located less than a mile from the company’s existing facility, established five years ago. It comes with the promise of a $1 billion dollar investment from Apple in the area and the addition of up to 15,000 new jobs.

But the details of the incentive package Williamson County whipped up to woo Apple tell a slightly different story. In the contract approved by county officials, Apple committed to spending at least $400 million on the new campus and creating 4,000 jobs over 12 years. The contract says the jobs don’t necessarily have to be on the new campus in order for Apple to receive the promised incentives, but rather anywhere within Williamson County.

Cracked It!

Apple TV 4K Is The Most Essential Product Apple Makes, by Chris Taylor, Mashable

No, the most irreplaceable Apple device in my house right now is the little streaming engine that could: the $179 Apple TV 4K. My wife and I were skeptics, but took the plunge and bought one this time last year, back when Amazon Prime (finally!) became available on Apple TVs. And for almost every day of the 365 since then, its smart features, accurate voice-based search and jaw-dropping visuals have surprised and delighted us — more than enough to make up for the price tag.

Apple Sent iPhone Owners Unwanted Push Notifications To Promote Carpool Karaoke, by Nick Statt, The Verge

But I’d be curious if Apple is actually helping itself with these plugs. Even if these notifications are easy to dismiss, people tend to hate unsolicited junk on their phone.


Satechi’s New USB-C Hub Solves The iMac’s Backward Port Problem, by Chaim Gartenberg, The Verge

Satechi’s new Stand Hub looks like it might be a pretty good solution for anyone who struggles with the backward ports. Designed as a simple aluminum stand, the Stand Hub connects through USB-C and offers a USB-C port, three USB Type-A ports, SD and microSD slots, and a headphone jack — all within easy reach.

Darkroom 4.0: The MacStories Review, by John Voorhees, MacStories

Despite a couple of rough patches, I’m impressed with what Darkroom has become. There's a lot more to this app than fun filters. With RAW support, a wide range of tools, and iPad support, Darkroom is a full-fledged photo editor. Darkroom also scales nicely from the smallest iPhone screen to the biggest iPad and takes advantage of the unique hardware each iOS device has to offer. Especially on an iPad, Darkroom does an excellent job of offering the tools you’ll want to edit your photos without getting in the way, allowing the photos room to breathe as you edit.

Launch Center Pro 3.0 Review: Universal Version, New Business Model, NFC Triggers, And More, by Federico Viticci, MacStories

With version 3.0, Contrast has intelligently expanded the app's scheduling feature to support multiple scheduled triggers for date and time with repeat options. You can now add multiple schedules to trigger an action at different times during the day, week, or month. Each schedule will fire off a local notification on your device that, once tapped, will open Launch Center Pro and execute the action.

AutoSleep 6: Effortless Sleep Tracking More Accessible Than Ever, by Ryan Christoffel, MacStories

Today marks the debut of AutoSleep's latest major iteration: version 6.0, which introduces new wellness features, refined graphs and color schemes, sleep hygiene trends, Siri shortcuts, an improved Watch app, and more. It's an extensive update that simplifies some aspects of the app while branching out into fresh, innovative areas of health tracking.

Can A Smart App Encourage HIV-self Testing In Canada?, by McGill University Health Centre

“By promoting screening, HIVSmart! could help to reduce the number of people living with HIV who do not know their status and allow them to start treatment earlier,” adds Dr. Réjean Thomas, study co-author, who is also the founder and CEO of Clinique Médicale L'Actuel. ‘’An application such as HIVSmart! increases accessibility to testing, especially outside major cities, where it is sometimes harder to get tested because of confidentiality issues.”


NPR’s Move Into Podcasting Analytics Raises Privacy Concerns, by Mathew Ingram, Columbia Journalism Review

While NPR makes the argument that the data will make it easier to convince advertisers and sponsors to commit to backing podcasts, and possibly allow creators to bring in more revenue, skeptics say it will also make it easier for creators and advertisers to track and identify individual listeners. Marco Arment, who developed both the original platform for Tumblr and the document-saving service called Instapaper, created a podcast distribution service called Overcast. He says he has no plans to integrate the NPR standard into his product, and he’s not in favor of others doing it either.

‘It’s Been A Rout’: Apple Stumbles In World’s Largest Untapped Market, by Newley Purnell and Tripp Mickle, Wall Street Journal

At the heart of the issue is Apple’s reluctance to change its traditional business model for selling the iPhone. Rather than make a range of handsets, it has prioritized a limited number of coveted products, sold at high prices—a strategy that revived the company after near bankruptcy in 1997 and helped make it the first U.S. public company to reach a $1 trillion valuation. The iPhone’s margins have been the basis for three-quarters of the company’s gross profit in recent years, analysts say.

India’s market presents unique challenges. While competitors tweaked their phones to address local consumer concerns—increasing battery life, for example, and offering less expensive models—Apple took an inflexible stand on its pricing and products. Friction with the government hasn’t helped.

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On rare occasions, I do use the split keyboard on my iPad. (Most of the time, I am either on a physical keyboard, or am just watching television.) In my limited experience, the... er... experience of using the split keyboard is not good. Things will not covered under the keyboard, and I have to move the keyboard up and down, and the split keyboard will sometimes surprise me by 'joining' back up.

I have no idea why Apple didn't implement the split keyboard on the new iPad Pro, but perhaps Apple should rethink how to do thumb-typing on the iPad.

(There must be good thumb-typing keyboards available on the App Store, right?)


Apple should pay more attention to India than China, in my opinion.


Once upon a time, a single developer can create a web browser with its own rendering engine from scratch in a reasonable amount of time and maybe have a few customers. Today, I can't even begin to estimate the amount of effort to create a web browser and the rendering engine. So much so that even Microsoft has given up.

When I retire, I am going to start a movement to turn back the clock to the good old days of Mosaic and Netscape. Everybody should just layout their web pages using tables.


I have more things to do after I retire than before I retire. I'll probably end up just watching Netflix all day, and then, one fine day, die.


Thanks for reading.

The Business-Model Edition Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Apple Has Some Big Media Challenges To Solve, by Jonny Evans, Computerworld

All the same, publishers desperately need that information to feed into existing advertising driven publishing models — and if a solution isn’t found that enables them to offer content profitably, then we can end up with less media, not more. And I strongly believe we need many voices to represent the diversity of public opinion and to oppose certain strains of fake news.

That means a viable and sustainable business model is required.

iPhone XS Smart Battery Case Pictured In 'Fall 2018' Documentation For Apple Resellers, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

The photos are part of a document that tells resellers how to present Apple silicone and leather cases for the fall 2018 season. Undeniable images of a XS Smart Battery Case are present in the cells for ‘black leather XS Max’ and ‘black leather XS’.

No Mention of Operating Systems

Qualcomm Says Apple Is Violating Chinese Court Order Despite Software Update, by CNBC

Apple never publicly commented last week on why or how it believed its current iPhones for sale in China complied with the court's order, which concerned patents on software features for switching between apps on a smart phone and resizing photos before setting them as a wallpaper on a phone.

Several media outlets, including CNBC, reported that Apple believed the court's orders applied only to iPhones running older versions of its iOS operating system. But the court's orders, a copy of which Qualcomm provided to Reuters, made no mention of operating systems and focused only on software features.

Apple's iPhone Manufacturers Are Ready To Jump Into The Legal Fight Against Qualcomm, by CNBC

The lead attorney for the group of Apple device assemblers seeking at least $9 billion in damages from Qualcomm said on Sunday the contract manufacturers are not in settlement talks with the mobile chip supplier and are "gearing up and heading toward the trial" in April.

The conflict is but one aspect of the global legal battle between regulators, Apple and Qualcomm, which supplies modem chips that help phones connect to wireless data networks.


Apple Releases iOS 12.1.2 For iPhones With eSIM Bug Fixes, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

According to Apple's release notes, iOS 12.1.2 is a bug fix update that focuses on addressing issues with eSIM activation and a cellular connectivity issue in Turkey.

Apple Offering Up To $20 Bonus For Adding Funds To Apple ID In App Store Promo, by Michael Potuck, 9to5Mac

Apple has begun a new promotion in the US encouraging users to add funds to Apple ID accounts with their iPhone for app, music, movie, and game purchases. The new offer is giving up to $20 in bonus credit to users who use the iPhone funding method.

Apple Shares Apple Watch How To Videos For Walkie-Talkie, More, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Apple today has uploaded a handful of new Apple Watch videos to its YouTube channel. The new videos cover a range of topics, including how to stream Apple Music on Apple Watch, how to use the Walkie-Talkie functionality, and more.

How To Take Better iPhone Selfies, by Matt Elliott, CNET

If you've got an iPhone with FaceID via the front-facing TrueDepth camera -- iPhone X, XR, XS or XS Max -- then Halide lets you up your selfie game with portrait-mode selfies. Because why shouldn't you be able to blur out the background when snapping a selfie with a camera that senses depth?


Apple Launches New Apple Books Marketing Toolbox With Playable Audiobooks Widget, More, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Apple today has introduced a new Apple Books Marketing Toolbox for members of its Affiliate Program. Apple says the new marketing toolbox includes a variety of marketing assets to make it easier for affiliates to earn commission, as we as a new audiobooks widget.

The Web Now Belongs To Google, And That Should Worry Us All, by Peter Bright, Ars Technica

By relegating Firefox to being the sole secondary browser, Microsoft has just made it that much harder to justify making sites work in Firefox. The company has made designing for Chrome and ignoring everything else a bit more palatable, and Mozilla's continued existence is now that bit more marginal. Microsoft's move puts Google in charge of the direction of the Web's development. Google's track record shows it shouldn't be trusted with such a position.


Switzerland Says Apple Pledges To Fix Disruptions To Rival Payment App, by Reuters

“Apple has committed to provide TWINT with the technical capability to suppress the automatic launch of Apple Pay during the payment process with the TWINT app,” WEKO said, adding it was ending a preliminary probe against Apple following the pact.

France Will Tax Digital Giants From 2019 Even If No EU-wide Agreement: FinMin, by Reuters

Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire on Thursday said France will tax digital giants at a national level from 2019 if European Union states cannot reach an agreement on a tax on digital revenues for the bloc.

EU finance ministers failed to agree a tax on digital revenues on Tuesday, despite a last minute Franco-German plan to salvage the proposal by narrowing its focus to companies like Google and Facebook.

The Yoda Of Silicon Valley, by Siobhan Roberts, New York Times

Now 80, Dr. Knuth usually dresses like the youthful geek he was when he embarked on this odyssey: long-sleeved T-shirt under a short-sleeved T-shirt, with jeans, at least at this time of year. In those early days, he worked close to the machine, writing “in the raw,” tinkering with the zeros and ones.

“Knuth made it clear that the system could actually be understood all the way down to the machine code level,” said Dr. Norvig. Nowadays, of course, with algorithms masterminding (and undermining) our very existence, the average programmer no longer has time to manipulate the binary muck, and works instead with hierarchies of abstraction, layers upon layers of code — and often with chains of code borrowed from code libraries. But an elite class of engineers occasionally still does the deep dive.

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Apple is not responsible for newspapers' survival. Apple is only responsible for its own business models.


Someday, I'll read all of Dr Knuth's volumes.

I wonder if there's an audiobook version.



Thanks for reading.

The Enabling-it-First Edition Monday, December 17, 2018

My AirPods Horror Story Taught Me A Valuable Lesson, by Henry T. Casey, Tom's Guide

But I couldn't find the missing AirPod. It wasn't in the snowy pathway from the car to the house, it wasn't on the deck entrance to the house, and I was pretty sure it didn't fall through the cracks in said deck to the hard-to-search area underneath. It wasn't in the house, either, but that didn't stop me from searching each room thrice.

Then, I remembered reading one of our articles, which explained that you could use Find My iPhone to track missing AirPods. So, I opened up my iPhone, opened the Find My iPhone app, and discovered … that it wasn't enabled on my iPhone, and that you can't use the feature without enabling it first.

The Unwearable Lightness Of Being: My Week Without A Smartwatch, by Lauren Goode, Wired

It’s been a week and a half since I stopped wearing any kind of smartwatch on my wrist. This marks the first time in years I’ve packed a travel bag without a proprietary smartwatch charger in it, or walked and run and cycled without tracking my activity. I don’t know what my resting heart rate is right now. I’m telling myself this is OK.

Last week, a group of people asked why I like wearing a smartwatch. I started to say that it was for three reasons: fitness tracking, text message notifications, and... what was the third? I forgot the third reason, and I don’t think there is one.


Apple Books Releases Six Free Audiobooks Read By Celebrity Narrators, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

Apple Books has published six exclusive audiobooks this week, showcasing six great first listen titles read by celebrity narrators. The books themselves are all public domain works from Pride and Prejudice to Winnie the Pooh, recorded by Apple and released in the Book Store for free.


50 Years In Tech. Part 13: Firing Frankness, by Jean-Louis Gassée, Monday Note

During 1989, Apple revenue doesn’t grow as expected. My advice: Raise prices!, a piece of wisdom that does nothing for the company.

By this time I’m really on the ropes, politically. Proximity to the executives has proven to be the diplomatic disaster I had anticipated; my “raise prices” advice is openly scorned; my behavior is considered strange, almost embarrassing. So imagine my surprise when I get the highest exec bonus for the fiscal year ending in September. I feel vindicated, but the bonus is actually just a cadeau de rupture, a breakup gift. The next January, Sculley invites me to dinner in Palo Alto.

Tech Workers Got Paid In Company Stock. They Used It To Agitate For Change., by Kate Conger, New York Times

Employee shareholder proposals may ultimately not be effective since shareholder-led proposals are often shot down. And because tech founders often possess a large chunk of the shares in their companies — Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder and its largest shareholder, owns 16 percent of the company; the Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin have about 51 percent of voting shares in Alphabet — the proposals have little chance of passing without founder support.

Tech employees said it was worth taking that risk. Shareholder proposals often gain attention because they are distributed to stockholders and are included in annual proxy statements, the employees say, and they give workers a way to raise their grievances directly to the board, rather than just to managers.

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Yes, I know that Apple gives away free stickers with some of the products that it sells. (I am always just a little disappointed whenever I buy an Apple product that does not come with free stickers.)

But, why oh why isn't Apple making a business out of selling stickers? I bet they can command a premium.



Thanks for reading.

The Isolated-Suburban Edition Sunday, December 16, 2018

The Problem With Apple's Decision To Go To The Austin Suburbs, by Sarah Holder, Citylab

That means Apple is the latest example of like flocking with like—tech companies choosing to settle in places they’ve already identified as talent centers. “This just reiterates that big tech siting decisions are continuing to concentrate on a very short list of sizable, well-established digital centers that are not losing share but are gaining share of the industry,” said Mark Muro, a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institute’s Metropolitan Policy Program. “While some may view Austin as a rise-of-the-rest story, I think it’s a rich-getting-richer story,” he says—or what CityLab’s Richard Florida calls “winner-take-all urbanism.”

In choosing not to locate at the heart of Austin’s downtown business center, Apple is also reinforcing another status quo: That of the isolated, suburban tech campus. The company’s Cupertino UFO has become the quintessential example of building an island of a corporate headquarters, largely disconnected from public transit and able to function as its own ecosystem. Apple’s planned 133-acre plot in Austin will be located more than 12 miles from the center of the city, adjacent to a highway. It’s sure to be a “sprawltastic, car-oriented project,” Yonah Freemark, an urbanist and the creator of The Transport Politic, wrote on Twitter. It will be an office park surrounding by office parking lots, and, according to Apple, “50 acres of preserved open space.”

Apple Computers Used To Be Built In The U.S. It Was A Mess., by John Markoff, New York Times

Today, Silicon Valley has retained a relatively small manufacturing work force, as electronics manufacturing has exploded globally, creating millions of jobs. The small amount of manufacturing still done in the Valley is largely done by specialized contract firms that focus on fast-turnaround prototype systems.

The challenge today is that an enormous manufacturing ecosystem is required to make products for mass markets, and that ecosystem has largely moved to mainland China, where some 450,000 people have worked at a single iPhone plant.

Apple's Big Campus Announcement Had A Very Specific Audience — Trump, by Kif Leswing, Business Insider

But saving billions on taxes was only one of Apple's two goals with its Trump administration outreach.

The second policy goal was to prevent Trump's penchant for tariffs from affecting the iPhone, which is primarily manufactured in China, although there are some US-made components.


The True Cost Of Rewrites, by Doug Bradbury

Your code is complex and working with it is difficult. Years of development and bug fixes have you ready to declare bankruptcy on your technical debt and start again from scratch. It feels so freeing to leave all your past mistakes behind and start over in a new technology and do everything right this time. Before taking that plunge, let’s take a careful look at what the actual costs of beginning again really are.

Open Source Confronts Its Midlife Crisis, by Bryan Cantrill, The Observation Deck

That said, it is possible to build business models around the open source software that is a company’s expertise and passion! Even though the VC that led the last round wants to puke into a trashcan whenever they hear it, business models like “support”, “services” and “training” are entirely viable! (That’s the good news; the bad news is that they may not deliver the up-and-to-the-right growth that these companies may have promised in their pitch deck — and they may come at too low a margin to pay for large teams, lavish perks, or outsized exits.) And of course, making software available as a service is also an entirely viable business model — but I’m pretty sure they’ve heard about that one in the keynote.


With Even Apple Now Offering HomePod Discounts, Should Its Regular Price Become $249?, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

The HomePod generally sells for $349, so a $50 discount from Apple brings it to $299. The third-party sales of $249 represent an almost 30 percent discount. Getting 30 percent off a less-than-year-old Apple product is pretty much unheard of. This raises the questions of whether or not Apple may have overpriced the HomePod from the start.

The Divide Between Silicon Valley And Washington Is A National-Security Threat, by Amy Zegart, Kevin Childs, The Atlantic

There is a yawning civil-military relations gap between the protectors and the protected. When World War II ended, veterans could be found in seven out of 10 homes on a typical neighborhood street. Today it’s two. Less than half a percent of the U.S. population serves on active duty. A senior executive from a major Silicon Valley firm recently told us that none of the company’s engineers had ever seen anyone from the military.

It should come as no surprise that when people live and work in separate universes, they tend to develop separate views. The civil-military gap helps explain why many in tech companies harbor deep ethical concerns about helping warfighters kill people and win wars, while many in the defense community harbor deep ethical concerns about what they view as the erosion of patriotism and national service in the tech industry. Each side is left wondering, How can anyone possibly think that way? Asked last week what he would tell engineers at companies like Google and Amazon, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford said, “Hey, we’re the good guys … It’s inexplicable to me that we wouldn’t have a cooperative relationship with the private sector.”

The Hello-Alexa Edition Saturday, December 15, 2018

What Apple's New Job Additions Tell Us About Its Product Plans, by Dan Moren, Macworld

As it happens, San Diego is the worldwide headquarters of Qualcomm. So if one were looking to lure away personnel with an expertise in the cellular connectivity business, it would seem like a good place to be. And, indeed, Apple’s already posted a number of jobs in San Diego for positions on its “growing wireless silicon development team.”


But, after taking a look at Apple’s Seattle job openings, it’s clear that one key area the company is building up there is Siri. The company describes “a new Siri engineering team based in Seattle” and is hiring not only data scientists and machine learning scientists, but also several software engineers to work on integrating third-party software with its SiriKit framework.

Apple Music Now Live On Amazon Echo Speakers Using Alexa, by Zac Hall, 9to5Mac

Apple Music support on Amazon Echo speakers is starting to roll out through the Alexa app on iOS and Android a few days ahead of schedule. You can now connect your Apple Music account with Echo speakers through the Alexa app and use Apple’s music streaming service with Alexa voice control.

Review: Satechi’s Aluminum Keyboard Is A Great Alternative To Apple’s More Expensive Space Gray Option, by Michael Potuck, 9to5Mac

If you don’t prefer the shallow throw and clicky feel of Apple’s keyboards, or even if you just want to have a softer option to use when you’d like, Satechi’s Aluminum Keyboard is a great choice.

The Torturous Psychology Of 10-Minute Tasks, by Amanda Mull, The Atlantic

“A big problem people have is they attack themselves and not their behaviors,” Ferrari says. If task-delayers can depersonalize their aversion to, say, vacuuming or litter box-changing, he believes, they stand a better chance at being able to evaluate it rationally, avoiding the shame cycle that can calcify negative behaviors into bad habits.

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The follow-up question has to be what's next between Apple and Amazon's collaboration? Between the success of Netflix, and the deep libraries of traditional studios (Disney and Warner), Apple and Amazon may well be in a the-enemy-of-my-enemy-is-my-friend relationship.


Thanks for reading.

The iTunes-Ping Edition Friday, December 14, 2018

Apple Music Removes Ability For Artists To Post To Connect, Posts Removed From Artist Pages And For You, by Zac Hall, 9to5Mac

Apple Music Connect appears to slowly be going the way of iTunes Ping. Apple has started notifying Apple Music artists that it is removing the ability for artists to post content to Apple Music Connect, and previously posted Apple Music Connect content is being removed from the For You section and Artist Pages in Apple Music. Connect content will still be viewable through search results on Apple Music, but Apple is removing artist-submitted Connect posts from search in May.

Fall In Love, Again

iOS 12 Surprisingly Breathes New Life Into My iPhone 5S, by Patrick Holland, CNDT

I absolutely love the blocky, petite iPhone 5S. Second to the discontinued 4-inch iPhone SE, the 5S is one of the last truly small smartphones. But Apple giveth, and Apple taketh away. Despite discontinuing the iPhone 5S/SE form factor, the company gave iPhone 5S users a glorious gift: iOS 12.

In the past, if you had an old iPhone, updating to the latest operating system was a bit of a gamble. Software bugs might pop up or performance might slow down. But iOS 12 does the opposite. It's not a glitzy feature-packed update. Instead, it does a lot of behind-the-scene housekeeping that actually makes the iPhone 5S faster. It's a welcomed update and I definitely recommend downloading it.

The New Apple Pencil Made Me A Believer, by Jason Snell, Macworld

What I’m saying is, if you can find an app that does a great job supporting the Apple Pencil, you may fall in love with it—even if you’ve not been a fan of the Pencil up to now. In fact, I’m now intrigued by what other apps out there might make me appreciate the Pencil even more. Given my success with an audio app, I’m starting to wonder if video-editing apps might be a possibility.

Apple and Qualcomm and China

Apple To Push Software Update In China As Qualcomm Case Threatens Sales Ban, by Adam Jourdan, Stephen Nellis, Reuters

Apple Inc, facing a court ban in China on some of its iPhone models over alleged infringement of Qualcomm Inc patents, said on Friday it will push software updates to users in a bid to resolve potential issues.

Apple will carry out the software updates at the start of next week “to address any possible concern about our compliance with the order”, the firm said in a statement sent to Reuters.

Apple Says China iPhone Ban Would Force Settlement With Qualcomm, by Mark Gurman, Bloomberg

“Apple will be forced to settle with the Respondent, causing all mobile phone manufacturers to relapse into the previous unreasonable charging mode and pay high licensing fees, resulting in unrecoverable losses in the downstream market of mobile phones,” the iPhone maker said in the Dec. 10 filing to the court. The document was submitted in Mandarin with an English translation that Bloomberg verified. Apple didn’t respond to requests for comment.


“Apple and many other companies, consumers, and government will suffer truly irreparable harm,” the company said in the filing. The Chinese government “may suffer hundreds of thousands of tax losses” from the iPhone ban because of lost taxes from sales of the devices, it said, citing estimates of 50 million units sold in the country in 2017.

Qualcomm Seeks China Sales Ban On iPhone XS And XR, by Yuan Yang, Financial Times

“We plan to use the same patents to file suit against the three new iPhone models,” Jiang Hongyi, a lawyer at Lexfield Law Offices who is representing Qualcomm in its patent suits, told the Financial Times.

Mr Jiang said additional suits covering Apple’s new iPhone XS, XS Max and XR models were pending in courts in Beijing, Qingdao and Guangzhou.


Agenda 4.0 Brings Support For File Attachments, Improved iOS Automation, by Federico Viticci, MacStories

Agenda has the best implementation of adding image and file attachments I've seen in a note-taking app for iOS. Attachments can be added either by dragging them into Agenda (on iPad) or picking them from buttons that have been added to the copy & paste menu.

Taking Notes On An iPad With LiquidText, by MacDrifter

The most basic capability of LiquidText is extracting and highlighting PDFs. Highlights aren't that novel but the way LiquidText extracts annotations is marvelously unique. With an Apple Pencil, or a finger, I can select text in the PDF and instantly extract a linked note. LiquidText preserves the connection to the original document. Tapping the annotation in the sidebar immediately scrolls the main document and shows where it is linked.

Architects And The New iPadPro: Should You Buy One?, by Becky Quintal, ArchDaily

This powerful constellation of tools has the possibility of spawning a different, more efficient, mobile and imaginative workflow. If it takes off, this new suite of apps will facilitate a design process that is as smart as it is soft and experiential. Since architects frequently welcome new technology, it's not hard to imagine a future of architecture firms filled with desktops, sketchbooks...and tablets.


Apple Activates Mac App Store Analytics In App Store Connect, by Mikey Campbell, AppleInsider

Analytics include the number of times an app was seen on the App Store, product page views and downloads by new customers. Sales numbers for in-app purchases and paying users are also available for developer perusal, Apple says, as are other unspecified metrics.

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Rather than relying on artists to create content for Apple Music Connect, maybe Apple should try employing people to create content for the next iteration of its music social network?


Christmas is almost here, and I'm now seeing websites that have added snowmen and snowwomen and snowflakes that litter my screen. And I've noticed that some of these snowflakes do not actually obey the laws of physics. Either that, or there are many strange winds blowing across our lands.


Thanks for reading.

The Major-Expansion Edition Thursday, December 13, 2018

Apple Plans Major US Expansion Including A New $1 Billion Campus In Austin, by Jon Russell, TechCrunch

Apple has announced a major expansion that will see it open a new campus in North Austin and open new offices in Seattle, San Diego and Los Angeles as it bids to increase its workforce in the U.S. The firm said it intends also to significantly expand its presence in Pittsburgh, New York and Boulder, Colorado over the next three years.

The Austin campus alone will cost the company $1 billion, but Apple said that the 133-acre space will generate an initial 5,000 jobs across a broad range of roles with the potential to add 10,000 more. The company claims to have 6,200 employees in Austin — its largest enclave outside of Cupertino — and it said that the addition of these new roles will make it the largest private employer in the city.

Apple Now Has Dozens Of Doctors On Staff, Showing It's Serious About Health Tech, by Christina Farr, CNBC

Apple has dozens of medical doctors working across its various teams, say two people familiar with the company's hiring, showing how serious it is about health tech.

The hires could help Apple win over doctors — potentially its harshest critics — as it seeks to develop and integrate health technologies into the Apple Watch, iPad and iPhone. It also suggests that Apple will build applications that can help people with serious medical problems, and not just cater to the "worried well," as many have speculated.

Apple’s ‘Netflix For Magazines’ Getting A Chilly Reception, by Gerry Smith, Bloomberg

The tech giant is preparing to relaunch Texture, an app it agreed to buy in March that offers unlimited access to about 200 magazines. The company plans to make it a premium product within Apple News, which curates articles and comes preinstalled on iPhones, according to people familiar with the matter. A new version could be unveiled as soon as this coming spring, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the plans aren’t public.


But some executives fear Texture could end up doing more harm than good. Their concern is Apple could steal their current subscribers, who would save money by reading articles on Texture instead. At $9.99 a month, Texture would be cheaper than an unlimited digital subscription to the New York Times -- after introductory prices expire.


Carrot Weather Gets Major Update With New Weather Source Options, Apple Watch Complications, Much More, by Michael Potuck, 9to5Mac

The highly popular Carrot Weather iOS app has received a big update today that brings new data sources like The Weather Channel and AccuWeather, integration with personal weather stations like Netatmo, a new recent searches feature, new Apple Watch complications, and much more.

Djay 3.0 Debuts As A Free, Universal App With A Subscription Option For Pro Features, by John Voorhees, MacStories

The free version of the app allows users to mix songs using two onscreen turntables in what Algoriddim calls Classic Mode. A second mode called Automix uses an AI engine to create smooth, beat-matched transitions from one song to the next.

BOOST↑UP Wireless Charging Dock Is A Great Charger For Up To Three Gadgets, by Dennis Sellers, Apple World Today

You can wirelessly charge an iPhone and Apple Watch simultaneously — and even juice up a third device using the additional USB-A port. I’m using it with an iPhone Xs Max and Apple Watch Series 4 — with the extra USB-A port occasionally used to juice up my iPad Pro.


Waterfall, by Andreas Zwinkau

I believe we build software at the complexity frontier our tooling and education allows. This implies that we are unable specify programs in enough detail and in advance. And if you do it roughly and afterwards, it will not match the code.

Now give a bit more respect to the greybeards. They knew this already decades ago and most of them probably identified DODs Waterfall as the accident it was right from the start.


A Touch Of Touch, by Nick Heer

I’ve long been a staunch defender of 3D Touch — I use its features all the time, and it now feels strange to me when an iPhone does not have it. I would rather see continued investment on that front to establish consist guidelines for its use, and make it a more obvious part of the system. But if 3D Touch is truly on its way out, it should be a clean kill across the board. A piecemeal approach with a similar-but-not-quite-the-same feature on just one product is a confusing distraction.

Almost Everyone Involved In Facial Recognition Tech Sees Problems With It, by Dina Bass, Los Angeles Times

An unusual consensus emerged recently among artificial intelligence researchers, activists, lawmakers and many of the largest technology companies: Facial recognition software breeds bias, risks fueling mass surveillance and should be regulated. Deciding on effective controls and acting on them will be a lot harder.

This week, the Algorithmic Justice League and the Center on Privacy and Technology at Georgetown University Law Center unveiled the Safe Face Pledge, which asks companies not to provide facial AI for autonomous weapons or to law enforcement unless explicit laws are debated and passed to allow it. Last week, Microsoft Corp. said the software carries significant risks and proposed rules to combat the threat. Research group AI Now, which includes AI researchers from Google and other companies, issued a similar call.

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I don't see why Apple need to pursue newspapers to join Texture. Magazines and newspapers seems like incompatible businesses that require different monetary models.


Thanks for reading.

The Hopefully-Better Edition Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Apple Offering Discounts On HomePod To Apple Music Subscribers As Holiday Promotion, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

Apple is currently sending out emails to Apple Music subscribers with promo codes to buy a brand new HomePod with a significant discount. So far, UK customers are receiving codes worth £50, bringing the price of a HomePod down to £269 direct from Apple.

Make The iPad More Like The Mac, by Radu Dutzan, Medium

And though not all of these changes would necessarily work, the need for radical advances in the interaction model of professional touch devices is latent. The “old world” might be a good place to look for inspiration. Traditional “PCs” carry long baggages that touch-based devices might not need, but most of the Mac features I mentioned were introduced in Lion (10.7), which came out in 2011, the same year as iOS 5 and the iPad 2, and were clearly inspired by the fluidity of iOS. They could work on a touch-based device, and in fact, they kinda already do, even in the currently crummy state of the macPad “prototype.”

We should be thinking of the iPad Pro as a truly new, hyper-flexible computing category that combines the best of what we’ve learned on the iPhone and the Mac into something new, and hopefully better. Only then can it fulfill its promise of being a “real” computer for professionals, and do some justice to its lovely hardware.


Nike Run Club For Apple Watch Series 4 Gains New Infograph Modular Complication With Run Summary And Guided Runs, by Zac Hall, 9to5Mac

Now Infograph Modular has a Nike Run Club complication on the middle slot which can present more data than other slots on the watch face. Nike Run Club uses this complication to show summaries of recent runs including pace, distance, and duration, or featured guided runs in the NRC watch app (although there doesn’t appear to be an option to control what NRC presents).

Luminar 3 For Mac Review: Serious Competition For Adobe Lightroom Has Arrived, by Bryan M Wolfe, iMore

At the heart of Luminar 3 is the new Library panel which adds the ability to organize and edit multiple images simultaneously. In other words, it's the software's digital asset management system. Highly customizable, the Luminar 3 library works with existing folders that reside on your hard drive, connected devices, and synced cloud storage. The panels, which look a lot like Lightroom's preview and catalog features, are easy to use, and perhaps more importantly, quick to learn.

Google Lens Launches On iOS To Power Visual Searches Within The Google App, by Shelby Brown, CNET

Google Lens can recognize text in images, look up words, save email addresses or call people. Lens is also designed to help shopping searches.

Giphy Launched A Keyboard Extension And Sticker Maker For iOS 12 Users, by Shannon Liao, The Verge

Users with iPhone X or newer devices will be able to record their own animated Giphy stickers to send to others through Apple’s TrueDepth camera technology.

End Of An Era: The ‘Infinity Blade’ Trilogy Is No Longer Available For Purchase On The App Store, by Touch Arcade

If you already own them, you can re-download them, but all the IAP has been disabled and the games should be accessible for the “foreseeable future." The reason for their removal, according to Epic is, “it has become increasingly difficult for our team to support the Infinity Blade series at a level that meets our standards."


CEO Interview Series: Michael Seibel On Leadership Attributes In Successful Startup Leaders, by Cameron Yarbrough, Torch

I think a lot of people think that being a CEO means playing the CEO card a lot. I like to imagine that you have an extremely limited number of CEO cards and you should use them sparingly because it costs you credibility when you use them.

Level Two thinking is about creating an environment and empowering people such that they do produce great outcomes without you having to tell them. If they can get into a mental model of what’s good for the company, and if they can be motivated and feel empowered, then they start doing great things. You don’t have to direct them. You can keep the CEO cards in your pocket and wait for the really important times to play them. The more sparing you are with your CEO cards, the more impactful you are.

Checking In? No Thanks. I’m Just Here To Use The Wi-Fi., by Talya Minsberg, New York Times

So what does this mean for the future of hotels? For freelancers and digital nomads, it may mean larger, trendier selection of free co-working spaces. For travelers, it may mean that instead of coming back to a quiet hotel room to finish the day’s work, you may find yourself in a vibrant lobby filled with locals and business travelers alike.


Why So Many Recommendation Sites Promise To Help You Find The Best Stuff, by Eliza Brooke, Vox

Say you want to buy a travel mug. You could go to Target, but staring at the display isn’t going to tell you which one is difficult to clean and which is likely to spill coffee down your sweater during your morning commute. So you Google “best travel mugs.” A new problem arises: Multiple product recommendation sites have published articles perfectly tailored to your query. How do you proceed? Do you cross-reference them all and pick the brand that appears most frequently, your brain quietly short-circuiting when you discover that some reviewers support the Contigo “Byron Vacuum-Insulated” mug while others swear by the Contigo “Autoseal West Loop”? Target is starting to seem like a good idea.

Consumer Reports has been subjecting everyday products to rigorous testing since 1936, but the past decade has seen a flurry of growth in the product review space, with the launch of publications like Wirecutter (2011), Best Products (2015), New York magazine’s the Strategist (2016), BuzzFeed Reviews (2018), and the Inventory (2018). Apart from the standalone sites, plenty of properties like The Verge (which, like, is owned by Vox Media) have robust reviews programs. That’s not to mention the many, many individuals who review products on blogs and YouTube. As ever more authorities enter the fray, the question is this: When everyone claims to have identified the “best” product in a category, who do you trust?

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Why macOS (and Windows, too) should have attention detection, just like on iOS: So that if I am reading something on my current window, new windows should be launched behind the current window, and not take up my attention. Otherwise, go nuts.


Thanks for reading.

The Object-of-Consumption Edition Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Cold Discovery, by Drew Austin, Real Life Magazine

If covers can be construed as misleading or superficial wrappers, platform algorithms are hardly more honest. They introduce their own form of deception, feeding users content according to biases and affordances that are frequently opaque, obfuscated, concealed, or misleadingly represented. At their most transparent, streaming services like Spotify reductively mirror your past choices back to you; Netflix, however, has gone as far as to covertly recontextualize movie screen shots for its menu displays based on individual viewers’ data, in order to entice those viewers to watch more — an algorithmic subversion of the physical cover that is slightly different for everyone.

These dynamics highlight how, on platforms like Spotify and Netflix, specific artists and their works are not the objects offered to the users for consumption — a focus that covers supported. Instead, the object of consumption is the platforms themselves. More than watching certain shows, we watch Netflix; more than listening to songs, we listen to Spotify; more than reading particular books, we read our Kindles. We can choose not to pay attention to the details beyond that. Our peers frequently don’t know what we’re watching, listening to, or reading, but we don’t necessarily know either.

Super Micro Says Review Found No Malicious Chips In Motherboards, by Joseph Menn, Reuters

Computer hardware maker Super Micro Computer Inc told customers on Tuesday that an outside investigations firm had found no evidence of any malicious hardware in its current or older-model motherboards.

In a letter to customers, the San Jose, California, company said it was not surprised by the result of the review it commissioned in October after a Bloomberg article reported that spies for the Chinese government had tainted Super Micro equipment to eavesdrop on its clients.

Selling Phones

Qualcomm Wins Import Ban Against Several Apple iPhones In China, by Stephen Nellis, Reuters

The preliminary order affects the iPhone 6S through the iPhone X. [...] Because the patents concern software, Apple could make changes to its software to avoid the patents and still be able to sell its phones.

Huawei Arrest Puts 'Bullseye' On Apple, by Dave Lee, BBC

On Tuesday, a Chinese court banned the sale of older iPhone models as part of a long-running patent infringement lawsuit between Apple and Qualcomm. Most legal observers had expected China to reject Qualcomm’s request for an injunction.

There is no direct link between this action and the Huawei row. But taken against the backdrop of Ms Meng’s arrest, and ongoing tariff disputes, it’s being seen as a muscle-flexing display on the part of the Chinese.


iPad Pro Bug Makes Music Apps Stutter And Crackle, by Charlie Sorrel, Cult of Mac

Load up a couple of synthesizer apps inside AUM, and maybe add a few effects, then take a look at the CPU meter. It’ll be up way higher than it would be on an older iPad. But you won’t need to look at that meter, because the audio is probably crackling and stuttering already.

iPad Pro's Potential Becomes Clear With This $99 USB-C Hub, by Stephen Shankland, CNET

The hub's top feature is letting people use nice headphones or speakers connected with the 3.5mm jack while keeping the iPad plugged into power, Sanho Chief Executive Daniel Chin said. "With our dock, you can listen to your music and charge your iPad Pro at the same. You can't do that with any of Apple's adapters," he said.

Other possibilities: connecting both MIDI musical instruments over USB-A and headphones over 3.5mm audio; copying photos from a memory card while looking at photos on an external monitor; and using a full-size external keyboard and monitor like an ordinary laptop user. All of course while connected to power.

Day One 3.4 Introduces New Fonts, Drawing, And Apple Watch Improvements, by Josh Ginter, The Sweet Setup

Day One’s Premium subscribers can now insert a brand new type of entry into their journal: drawings. Although not limited to the Apple Pencil, Day One 3.4’s new drawing capabilities are best used with either of Apple’s drawing utensils.


The Thumb Zone, by Joe Cieplinski

Large screens on phones are not going away anytime soon. At the same time, our thumbs aren’t going to magically start getting longer. That shrinking percentage of reachable screen real-estate needs to become the focus of interactivity, while the outer regions of the screen are devoted mainly to information display. The more designers and developers consider this, the better time we will all have with our apps, regardless of our screen-size preferences.

Shutting Down, by Aaron Harris, Y-Combinator

The unintuitive thing about figuring out if you should shut down your company is that it isn’t the path of least resistance. The “easiest” thing to do for a struggling company is to fall into zombie mode – neither growing nor truly dead. This is easy because it doesn’t require an active decision, it just involves continuing to do the bare minimum to keep the company alive. This involves a series of seemingly small compromises that lead to stasis or failure.

Shutting down is hard because it means publicly admitting that you were wrong, unlucky, or incompetent. Because of this difficulty, we’ve evolved a set of terms that often mean “shut down” without saying “shut down.” In no particular order these are: pivot, hard pivot, rebrand, strategic shift, change customer focus, and platform switch.


US Tech Giants Decry Australia’s ‘Deeply Flawed’ New Anti-encryption Law, by Zack Whittaker, TechCrunch

“The new Australian law is deeply flawed, overly broad, and lacking in adequate independent oversight over the new authorities,” said the Reform Government Surveillance coalition in a statement. The tech companies added that the law would “undermine the cybersecurity, human rights, or the right to privacy of our users.”

Sorry, Your Data Can Still Be Identified Even If It’s Anonymized, by Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan, Fast Company

While the MIT group wasn’t trying to unmask specific users in this dataset, they proved that someone acting in bad faith could merge such anonymized datasets with personal ones using the same process, easily pinning the timestamps together to figure out who was who.

The takeaway is not just that a malicious actor or company could use this process to surveil citizens. It’s that urban planners and designers who stand to learn so much from these big urban datasets–for instance, Ratti’s own lab recently used such data for a project on reducing parking, while other groups use it to study everything from urban poverty to accessibility–need to be careful about whether all that data could be combined to deanonymize it.

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I love reading e-books on my iPhone, because I will always have a book with me, and I can easily whip out my iPhone to read another page no matter where I am.

Except this morning, when the e-book app refuses to load my half-read e-book, and started complaining about some server issue.


Thanks for reading.

The Accurate-to-Within-a-Few-Yards Edition Monday, December 10, 2018

Your Apps Know Where You Were Last Night, And They’re Not Keeping It Secret, by Jennifer Valentino-DeVries, New York Times

At least 75 companies receive anonymous, precise location data from apps whose users enable location services to get local news and weather or other information, The Times found. Several of those businesses claim to track up to 200 million mobile devices in the United States — about half those in use last year. The database reviewed by The Times — a sample of information gathered in 2017 and held by one company — reveals people’s travels in startling detail, accurate to within a few yards and in some cases updated more than 14,000 times a day.

These companies sell, use or analyze the data to cater to advertisers, retail outlets and even hedge funds seeking insights into consumer behavior. It’s a hot market, with sales of location-targeted advertising reaching an estimated $21 billion this year. IBM has gotten into the industry, with its purchase of the Weather Channel’s apps. The social network Foursquare remade itself as a location marketing company. Prominent investors in location start-ups include Goldman Sachs and Peter Thiel, the PayPal co-founder.

How To Stop Apps From Tracking Your Location, by Jennifer Valentino-DeVries, New York Times

Some apps have internal settings where you can indicate that you don’t want your location used for targeted advertising or other purposes. But the easiest method is to go through your device’s main privacy menu.

How The Times Analyzed Location Tracking Companies, by New York Times

To examine the practices of the location tracking industry, The New York Times tested apps on the Google Android and Apple iOS platforms, and evaluated data from a company that analyzed thousands of mobile apps.

To See What She Sees

Rediscovering My Daughter Through Instagram, by Helene Stapinski, New York Times

Social media has been blamed for ruining our democracy, shortening our children’s attention spans and undermining the fabric of society. But through it, I was able to be with Paulina out in the world again, to see what she sees, to virtually stand beside her and witness the people and places she moves through, in nearly real time. Not in a parent-policing role, but in a wonderful-world sort of way.

Why We All Take The Same Travel Photos, by Laura Mallonee, Wired

The standardization of travel all started in the 18th century, as guidebooks began directing visitors to “picturesque” views that looked like paintings. They recorded them with the gadgets of the day: Claude glasses reflected tinted, fisheye scenes that were easy to sketch, while Camera Lucidas actually transposed them onto the page. Nifty as those tools were, they couldn't hold their own against the daguerreotype, a heavy wooden box camera introduced in 1839 that gentleman travelers soon began lugging to Greece and Egypt. But the early technology was still too cumbersome and time-consuming for most people, who just bought postcards.

Until Kodak. The introduction of George Eastman's lightweight, foolproof camera in 1888 meant hordes of tourists could quickly press a button to capture their individual experiences … which turned out to be more or less identical.


These Crocheted AirPods Cases Make Me Want To Buy AirPods, by Dami Lee, The Verge

AirPods accessories are having sort of a moment in South Korea, with online stores selling keychains, skins, and cases for the wireless earbuds with an enthusiasm that can’t be matched anywhere else. Although there are plenty of official accessory companies that offer AirPods cases that come with keychain holes and keychain accessories made specifically for AirPods cases, the real innovation is coming from artists and small business owners who sell their handmade goods through social networks like KakaoTalk and Instagram.

Hands On: Must-have Mac Audio Tool Loopback Reworked With Major Visual Changes, by William Gallagher, AppleInsider

The tool for routing audio between apps and audio devices gets a makeover and doesn't add new features but greatly refines what it has.


50 Years In Tech. Part 12: Cupertino Culture Trouble, by Jean-Louis Gassée, Monday Note

At Apple France, I was allowed to question anything about our work, all the way to the top of the organization, even if that meant that I would occasionally be sent back to my corner by a loyal, competent team that was as vociferous in their retorts as I was in my critique.

You see what’s coming. In Cupertino I fall into the classical trap of continuing to do one’s past job in the new one.

The Problem With Studies Saying Phones Are Bad For You, by Rachel Becker, The Verge

The actual research hasn’t come to one neat conclusion, and that may be because the field has relied on self-reports. It’s possible to measure how much time you spend on your phone; it’s just that most research — some 90 percent of it, estimates David Ellis, a lecturer in computational social science at Lancaster University — hasn’t. People are notoriously unreliable reporters of their own behavior: people misremember, forget, or fudge their responses to make themselves look better. We’ve seen it before with food diaries; we’re bad at remembering or even noticing how much we eat. Sometimes we lie to ourselves and, as a result, our food diaries, too. The unreliability of self-reports has been a major problem for nutrition research.

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Just finished reading: A Ladder to the Sky, by John Boyne. I thoroughly enjoy reading this book, which reminded me of both Chekhov's Gun, where a gun introduced in Act 1 will be fired in Act 3, as well as Alfred Hitchcock's bomb under the table. I do recommend this novel, especially if you enjoy suspense more than surprises.


Thanks for reading.

The Copy-and-Paste Edition Sunday, December 9, 2018

The Future, Revisited: “The Mother Of All Demos” At 50, by Andy Horwitz, Los Angeles Review of Books

A mild-mannered engineer stands onstage at San Francisco’s Civic Auditorium. A massive video screen looms behind him, displaying a close-up of his face in the lower right half of the screen, with a close-up of his computer display superimposed over his face to the left. Introducing his team, he sounds a bit nervous, saying, “If every one of us does our job well, it’ll all go very interesting, I think.”

He starts by typing text, and then copying and pasting the word “word” multiple times, first a few lines, then paragraphs. He cuts and pastes blocks of text. He makes a shopping list his wife has requested — bananas, soup, paper towels — creating numbered lists, categories and subcategories, using his cursor to move around the document. Narrating as he works, he sounds not unlike Rod Serling. When he makes the occasional self-deprecating joke, we hear genial laughter from the audience.

Today, this presentation would be completely unremarkable. But it’s not 2018 — it’s December 9, 1968. The engineer is Douglas C. Engelbart, founder of the Augmented Human Intellect Research Center at the Stanford Research Institute, and nobody in his audience — or in the history of the world — has ever seen anything like it before.

How Doug Engelbart Pulled Off The Mother Of All Demos, by Adam Fisher, Wired

Doug Engelbart was the first to actually build a computer that might seem familiar to us, today. He came to Silicon Valley after a stint in the Navy as a radar technician during World War II. Engelbart was, in his own estimation, a “naïve drifter,” but something about the Valley inspired him to think big. Engelbart’s idea was that computers of the future should be optimized for human needs—communication and collaboration. Computers, he reasoned, should have keyboards and screens instead of punch cards and printouts. They should augment rather than replace the human intellect. And so he pulled a team together and built a working prototype: the oN‑Line System. Unlike earlier efforts, the NLS wasn’t a military supercalculator. It was a general‑purpose tool designed to help knowledge workers perform better and faster, and that was a controversial idea. Letting nonengineers interact directly with a computer was seen as harebrained, utopian—subversive, even. And then people saw the demo.

Where Is The Boundary Between Your Phone And Your Mind?, by Kevin Lincoln, The Guardian

Many of the boundary lines in our lives are highly literal, and, for the most part, this is how we’ve been trained to think of boundaries: as demarcations shored up by laws, physical, legal, or otherwise, that indicate exactly where one thing ends and another begins. Here is the border of your property; here is the border of your body; here is the border of a city, a state, a nation – and to cross any of these boundaries without permission is to transgress. But one of the most significant boundary lines in our lives is not this way, and one piece of ubiquitous technology is making this line increasingly permeable and uncertain, at a cost that we may only be starting to comprehend.

Here’s a thought experiment: where do you end? Not your body, but you, the nebulous identity you think of as your “self”. Does it end at the limits of your physical form? Or does it include your voice, which can now be heard as far as outer space; your personal and behavioral data, which is spread out across the impossibly broad plane known as digital space; and your active online personas, which probably encompass dozens of different social media networks, text message conversations, and email exchanges?

This is a question with no clear answer, and, as the smartphone grows ever more essential to our daily lives, that border’s only getting blurrier.


Lifx Adds Improved HomeKit Integration To Its Entry-level Day & Dusk Bulbs, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

This means that in the Home app on iOS, you can long-press on the Day & Dusk to manually choose from an array of color options. Further, the colors can now better integrate with things such as scenes and scheduling in the Home app.


Little Languages, by Max Hallinan

Programming languages are collections of ideas. Learning a programming language means learning to apply the ideas found in the language. But sometimes it is hard to isolate the ideas.

Language details might obscure ideas in the language. For example, some typeclasses in Haskell obey some algebraic laws. Because I was exposed to those typeclasses first, I expected this to be true of every typeclass. I misunderstood the idea of a typeclass as a way to group types by laws.


Apple's Sitting Out The 5G Party — It's The Right Move, by Jason Snell, Tom's Guide

Catastrophe! How can Apple survive without 5G iPhones until 2020?

Here's how: The same way the company survived being way behind on 3G and LTE technologies, both of which it embraced long after its competitors did.

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I've tasted all of them, and I enjoy eating eight of the thirteen things you must eat in Singapore.

What I miss about eating in Singapore, though: a good Mexican restaurant.


Thanks for reading.

The Native-Mac Edition Saturday, December 8, 2018

Electron And The Decline Of Native Apps, by John Gruber, Daring Fireball

Another one I just ran into on Mojave is the new Mac App Store app. It certainly looks nice, but I noticed a few days ago that it doesn’t support the Page Down and Page Up keys for scrolling (nor the Home and End keys for jumping to the top and bottom) in any of its views. Open an article and hit Page Down, and instead of scrolling down, it just beeps. Beeps, I say. The only way to scroll is with a mouse or trackpad. In an app from Apple, used by nearly everyone. Even the Marzipan apps support these keys for scrolling, which shouldn’t be surprising, because support for these keys and other standard behavior comes for free with the underlying developer frameworks. The Mojave App Store app must be doing something very strange for these keys not to work.

The Mojave App Store app certainly isn’t written using Electron. But the problem with Electron apps isn’t really Electron — it’s the decline in demand for well-made native Mac apps. And that is ominous. The biggest threat to the Mac isn’t iPads, Chromebooks, or Windows 2-in-1’s — it’s apathy towards what makes great Mac apps great.

Looking Back At 2018: Why I Changed My Mind About The Apple Watch's Data Plan, by Jason Cipriani, ZDNet

It still fascinates me that a set of Apple's AirPods and a watch on my wrist is all I need to leave my phone behind and remain reachable.

I mean, think about that: A watch and a pair of Bluetooth headphones -- it doesn't even have to be Apple's AirPods, but they're my choice -- and you have what amounts to a smartphone with you at all times.

Apple’s Sleep Tracking Company Beddit Releases New ‘3.5’ Sleep Monitor, by Zac Hall, 9to5Mac

The first revision to the Beddit Sleep Monitor since Apple bought the sleep tracking company includes a slight design change to the actual hardware, and the iOS app for managing the sleep monitor has a new version as well. All mentions of Android support are also removed from the Beddit website as far as we can tell.


Anker’s Vertical Mouse Provides Cheap RSI Relief, by Josh Centers, TidBITS

Was the Anker vertical mouse worth $15? Absolutely. Within a day of connecting it to my Mac, years of forearm pain vanished. And the pain hasn’t returned in subsequent weeks. But how does it work as a mouse, given its odd shape?

Pretty well, actually. It takes a bit of getting used to, but not as much as you might think. It took me a day to accustom myself to it. I’m not much of a PC gamer these days, but I fired up Counter-Strike: Global Offensive to put the Anker mouse through its paces. I made it through the tutorial just fine and can safely say that my mediocre results were not limited by the mouse. Crippling RSI was one of the reasons I shifted away from computer gaming, and this mouse might make it enjoyable again.

Luna Display Turns An iPad Into A Responsive Mac Screen, by Julio Ojeda-Zapata, TidBITS

The Luna Display is an impressive feat of engineering that—minor performance issues aside—keeps its promise to transform an iPad into a dependable and useful Mac display. It may cost more than comparable software-only solutions, but it’s well worth considering if you crave maximum flexibility and performance in your Mac-iPad setup.

Hands-On: Belkin’s USB-C To HDMI Adapter For The 2018 iPad Pro, by Federico Viticci, MacStories

If you're not concerned about the lack of power delivery and need an adapter to play 4K content with Dolby Vision/HDR right now (particularly if you don't already own an Apple TV 4K), and if you live in Europe, Belkin's USB-C adapter gets the job done.

The Epic Games Store Is Now Live, by Jon Russell, TechCrunch

First announced earlier this week, the Epic Games Store is targeted squarely at Steam — the giant in the digital game commerce space — and it quietly went live today.

Right now there’s a small cluster of games available, including Hades, a new title from Supergiant Games that is in “early access” for $19.99, and Epic’s own Fortnite and Unreal Tournament, both of which are free. But Epic is saying that’s there’s a lot more to come. In particular, the store will offer a free game every two weeks, starting with Subnautica from December 14-17 and Super Meat Boy from December 28 until January 10.


How iOS Developers Can Build Better Apps, by Jonny Evans, Computerworld

While it’s still possible since the 2008 App Store launch for relatively inexperienced developers to create hit products, it’s a lot less likely. And while you still get stories of young developers making it, for the most part it’s all about the big dev firms.

I’ve been thinking about this for a bit, and thought I’d try to put together a few ideas that may help people thinking about making an iPhone or iPad app.


Health Canada: We Have Not Received An Application For Apple Watch EKG Feature, by Gary Ng, iPhone In Canada

According to Health Canada’s latest update, the federal government body replied to our inquiry to say, “To date, Health Canada has not received an application for the Apple Watch Series 4 with the EKG feature. The decision to submit a medical device licence application rests with the manufacturer.”

‘I Was On Instagram. The Baby Fell Down The Stairs’: Is Your Phone Use Harming Your Child?, by Jemima Kiss, The Guardian

More worryingly, evidence is building that screen use, particularly of smartphones, has a negative impact on the conversational development of very young children. Chris Calland, a child behaviour expert and adviser to parents, schools and nurseries across the UK on what has been dubbed “technoference”, says a clear relationship has emerged over the last five years between adults who are glued to their phones and children who arrive at school without the language and interpersonal skills expected of a four- to five-year-old. “I was recently asked into a school reception class to help teachers find new ways to get through to parents who were persistently talking or scrolling on their phones, even as they collected their children, took their hands and walked them away from the school gates.”

They concluded that one solution would be to write scripts that could be handed out to parents to re-educate them in talking to their children. For example: “Look at that dog”, or “Tell me one nice thing you’ve done today.” At one nursery Calland worked with, staff put up pictures of phones with red lines through them, because they were struggling so hard to gain parents’ attention. Perhaps this is not surprising, when parents can now buy a phone holder that clips on to a pram or even a “swipe and feed” accessory that can be attached to a baby bottle. “This is not about judgment,” Calland says. “Being drawn into our phones is insidious. But the first three years are the most formative for children, and when parents have their attention locked on their phones, they are missing countless cues to interact with their kids.”

The Wired Guide To Data Breaches, by Lily Hay Newman, Wired

Yes, it’s a difficult, never-ending process for a large organization to secure its inevitably sprawling networks, but for decades many institutions just haven’t really tried. They’ve gone through some of the motions without actually making digital security a spending priority. Over the past 10 years, however, as corporate and government data breaches have ramped up—impacting the data of billions of people—institutional leaders and the general public alike have finally begun to understand the urgency and necessity of putting security first. This increased focus is beginning to translate into some concrete data protections and security improvements. But collective inaction for decades has created a security deficit that will take significant time and money to make up. And the reality that robust digital security requires never-ending investment is difficult for institutions to accept.

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I like buttons. Ten years after stopping to use my precious iPod Nano regularly, I still miss having a physical play/pause button on my podcast+audiobook listening device (aka iPhone).

And I think the pull-to-refresh convention on iOS apps is clever in avoiding a refresh button, but I hate pull-to-refresh. So many problems with this gesture.

So, as you can guess by now, I don't think I can get along with the new proposal out there to use two-fingers-tap as the undo gesture. Sounds to me a disaster in the making.


How about putting an universal undo button in the control center?


Thanks for reading.

The Improve-Instead-Of-Consuming Edition Friday, December 7, 2018

The Complete History Of The iPhone—and What's Coming Next, by David Pierce and Lauren Goode, Wired

The iPhone didn’t just make Apple a metric crap-ton of money: it reoriented the entire tech landscape, helping change the way we work and play. It helped create a new class of mega-corporation, started the world thinking about how everything else might change when it, too, was connected to the internet. Next, Apple has to figure out how the iPhone can improve a user’s life instead of consuming it, all while it works on the next crazy design that’ll change everything all over again.

iPad Diaries: The Many Setups Of The 2018 iPad Pro, by Federico Viticci, MacStories

We haven't seen the full picture of built-in USB-C with the new iPad Pro: external drives still aren't supported by iOS' Files app, and other peripherals often require app developers to specifically support them. However, I believe the removal of Lightning is already enhancing the iPad's innate ability to adapt to a plurality of work setups and transform itself into a portable computer of different kinds. For the past few weeks, I've been testing this theory with Bluetooth and USB keyboards, a 4K USB-C monitor, USB-C hubs, and a handful of accessories that, once again, highlight the greater flexibility of the iPad Pro compared to traditional laptops and desktops, as well as some of its drawbacks.

A Somewhat Negative Review Of A Product I Love: The New iPad Pro, by M.G. Siegler, 500ish Words

Don’t get me wrong, it’s still great. Really great, in many ways. But if I’m being honest, I think I prefer the old design for the iPad Pro more than this updated version. Yes, even though the screen has been embiggened (and rounded) substantially. I just don’t like the way it feels in the hand as much.

At first, I was sure I would love this new design. It hearkens back to the iPhone 4 design with the flat sides. But while that made for a device that felt great to hold in your hand, such design doesn’t work as well for a larger device you grasp a portion of with one hand, or hold with two. At least not in my opinion.

Mac App Notarization And Customer Privacy, by Jeff Johnson

Mac app notarization raises privacy issues for Mojave users. On first launch of every app you download, Mojave phones home. At the very least, Apple sees your IP address, the exact app version that you downloaded, and the exact time that you first launched the app. [...] However, given all of the information that Apple already has on you, they could probably associate your IP address with your Apple ID. It's likely that Apple keeps logs of these Gatekeeper notarization checks, because if customers are launching malware, Apple would want to know how widespread the malware was.

It's important to note that no explicit consent has been given for this information to be transmitted to Apple.

I’m A Developer. I Won’t Teach My Kids To Code, And Neither Should You., by Joe Morgan, Slate

Every step—precisely measuring ingredients, gauging mixed dough for smoothness and consistency, placing precision cuts to minimize waste—taught him something about quality. It’s hard to teach the difference between merely executing steps, such as following a recipe, and doing something well. It can only be passed on through feel and experience. And every time you involve your kids when you work on something you value, you are teaching them how to do things well. You are preparing them to write code.

But you’re not only teaching them that. You’re teaching them the world is full of interesting things to discover. You’re showing them how to be passionate and look for that ephemeral sense of quality in everything they do. The best part is that even if they don’t become coders—most shouldn’t and won’t—the same skills can be used in nearly any career, in every hobby, in every life. When we force kids to learn syntax, we reinforce the idea that if something is not a blatantly employable skill, it’s not valuable. Adults can learn syntax. Only kids can learn to embrace curiosity.

Chrome Is The New IE6

Microsoft Is Rebuilding Its Edge Browser On Chrome And Bringing It To The Mac, by Tom Warren, The Verge

The software giant is beginning to rebuild Microsoft Edge to run on Chromium, the same open-source web rendering engine that powers Google’s Chrome browser. This means Edge will soon be powered by Blink and the V8 JavaScript engines. It’s a big move that means Microsoft is joining the open-source community in a much bigger way for the web.


Edge has fallen massively behind Chrome in terms of market share, and it’s getting to the point where Chrome is the new IE6. Developers are optimizing for Chrome, and Google has also been creating Chrome-only web services because it’s often the first to adopt emerging web technologies. Microsoft has struggled to keep its Edge rendering engine in stride with Chromium.

Edge Dies A Death Of A Thousand Cuts As Microsoft Switches To Chromium, by Peter Bright, Ars Technica

If every Edge user were using the very latest version of Edge, it wouldn't be so bad, but that's not the case, and that's because of how Microsoft has bundled Edge with Windows 10. Most home users will end up running the latest feature update to Windows 10 within a few months of its release. But enterprise users are more diverse.

Microsoft Retools Its Edge Browser, But Internet Explorer Is Forever, by Brian Barrett, Wired

“In many cases, because Internet Explorer was the default, it was the path of least resistance. A lot of people are just accustomed to using IE. There were some major interface changes in Edge that might have made it unattractive to some users,” says Tsai. “IT departments don’t want to have to retrain users. They don’t want to have a flood of help desk tickets asking them how to do common stuff that they used to know how to do.”


Changing Your Apple Watch Or iPhone's Region Won't Enable ECG App Outside Of United States, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

Many software features on Apple devices are initially limited to the United States, but international users have often been able to simply change their iPhone or Apple Watch region to the United States to gain access.

That's not the case with the the ECG app on the Apple Watch Series 4, though, as it only functions on models purchased in the United States. Those who live in and bought an Apple Watch in Canada, the UK, or elsewhere abroad can't use the region-switching trick to enable the ECG app — it doesn't work.

The World’s Shortest Review Of Apple’s $40 iPhone XR Clear Case, by John Gruber, Daring Fireball

Feel-wise it’s sort of half plastic-y, half rubbery. Plastic-y enough that it doesn’t stretch from the edges of the phone. Rubbery enough that it feels nice and grippy without being too grippy — it slides in and out of a jeans pocket easier than an Apple silicone case.


Also, Apple’s clear case has no aroma.

Hands On: Twelve South Leather Cases For iPhone XS, XS Max, And XR, by Andrew O'Hara, AppleInsider

As they do every year, Twelve South refreshed their lineup of cases —Journal, BookBook, and SurfacePad —for the latest iPhones. We tested them out on our new iPhone XS Max to see how they hold up.

Remote For Mac Turns An iPhone Or iPad Into A Remote Control For Your Mac, by Cult of Mac

It turns your iPhone or iPad into a fully loaded remote control for all kinds of functions on your Mac. It brings full trackpad and keyboard control to your phone, so you can use your Mac without leaving the couch.

Lego's Augmented Reality iOS App Is Ready For Adventure, by Joe Fingas, Engadget

Point your iPad or iPhone at a compatible Lego set (more on that in a bit) while you're using the app and you'll see bricks liven up with animations, interactive moments and full-fledged games. You'll have a strong incentive to complete a set besides the usual opportunities for imaginative play.


On Using Stock User Interface Elements On The Mac, by Brent Simmons, Inessential

Mac users love the Mac because of the user interface, not despite it. Remember this.


Google, Apple, Facebook Face World-first Encryption Laws In Australia, by Claire Reilly, CNET

Tech companies and civil liberties advocates argue that weakening encryption for one device or one case has the potential to break it for everyone, opening a door to hackers and compromising the security that underpins our modern, digital world. For the tech world, encryption is a matter of simple mathematics (even if politicians disagree).

But as a member of the Five Eyes security alliance (alongside the US, UK, Canada and New Zealand) the ramifications of the Australian laws could be felt across the world.

Apple Acquires A&R And Creative Services Company Platoon, by Music Business Worldwide

MBW understands that Apple has acquired Platoon, the London-based creative services firm founded in 2016 by music industry veteran Denzyl Feigelson and LoveFilm co-founder, Saul Klein.

Platoon has developed a raft of early-stage artists in the UK and US over the past two years who have gone on to make waves in the global business.

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I'm sad to report that both Instapaper and Pocket have bugs.

(Yes, I know that it is not news that software has bugs. I just want to get it off the chest that I've been inconvenienced.)


I so love the latest episode of The Good Place.


Thanks for reading.

The Undo-and-Redo Edition Thursday, December 6, 2018

Apple Watch Electrocardiogram And Irregular Heart Rate Features Are Available Today, by Dieter Bohn, The Verge

Today, with an update to watchOS, Apple is making its electrocardiogram reading feature available to Apple Watch Series 4 owners. It’s also releasing an irregular rate notification feature that will be available on Apple Watches going back to Series 1. Both are a part of watchOS 5.1.2.

The Apple Watch EKG Detected Something Strange About My Heart Rhythm, by Vanessa Hand Orellana, CNET

"This would be really useful to screen for this or to have the first understanding that you have these early heart beats," said Dr. Marcus. "What's missing in the single lead Apple Watch is the information that tells us more specifically where exactly this is coming from."

Apple Puts Third-party Screen Time Apps On Notice, by Sarah Perez, TechCrunch

Though not all apps were getting the boot, it seemed, Apple did seem to have a problem with screen time apps that took advantage of mobile device management (MDM) and/or VPNs to operate.


But sources familiar with Apple’s thinking dismissed this as being some sort of targeted crackdown against third-party screen time apps. Rather, the pushback developers received was part of Apple’s ongoing app review process, they said, and noted that the rules these apps violate have been in place for years.

Proof That iOS Still Hasn’t Gotten Undo Right, by John Gruber, Daring Fireball

The whole story is only seven paragraphs long, and one of them is devoted to explaining how to invoke Undo and Redo. This is — inadvertently on the part of the App Store editorial team — a scathing indictment of the state of iOS’s user interface standards.


Personally, if I were designing an iOS drawing app I’d probably go the first route, and follow Apple Notes’s lead with “↺” and “↻” buttons. But to Procreate’s credit, they clearly know these multi-finger tap gestures are both unusual, not intuitive, and utterly non-discoverable, because the very first thing they do when you first launch the app is teach you about them. Think about that: iOS user interface conventions are so shallow, so widely and wildly inconsistent, that an app proclaimed by Apple as the very best of the year has to start, as the very first thing you see when you launch it, by teaching you how to use Undo. That’s a sad state of affairs.


You Can Now Once Again Flip The Camera During FaceTime Calls With Just One Tap, by Greg Kumparak, TechCrunch

As of iOS 12.1.1, released today, the camera swap button is returning to the main call screen. Basically every FaceTime call I’ve had since this change was made has started with someone asking “Wait, how do I flip the screen. What the hell, where’d that button go?” so changing this back is the only right call.

Apple Begins Selling A Clear Case For The iPhone XR And 18W iPad Pro Charger, by John Voorhees, MacStories

Apple describes the case as ‘thin, light and easy to grip.’ The company also says that the case includes a scratch-resistant coating inside and out and works with wireless Qi chargers.

Apple News Is Secretly Really Great, by Ben Brooks, The Brooks Review

What I have come to realize is that you can only check Apple News once per day. I know that seems counterintuitive, so allow me to explain why.

Pixelmator Pro Update For macOS Adds Redesigned Color Balance Tool, by Andrew O'Hara, AppleInsider

The newly updated adjustment was inspired by professional video editors color grading tools, allowing users to more easily add incredible details to your photos.

Duet Display For iPad Adopts Hardware Acceleration, Now Recognized As A True External Display By macOS, by Michael Potuck, 9to5Mac

Duet Display has been a good option for users looking to leverage their iPad as a second screen with macOS. However, some users have experienced latency issues. Now, with a free software update and the latest macOS version, Duet Display says it is able to use hardware acceleration for a smooth and fast experience and is now seen as a true external display in macOS.

Belkin Launches Wireless Charging Dock For iPhone And Apple Watch, USB-C To HDMI Adapter For Mac And iPad Pro, by Federico Viticci, MacStories

The Boost Up is Belkin's latest take on an integrated charging dock that allows users to simultaneously charge an iPhone and Apple Watch on a single charging station. Unlike the old Belkin Valet dock, which was based on Lightning, the Boost Up is entirely designed around wireless charging and supports the Qi charging technology with up to 7.5W of power delivery – what Apple refers to as fast wireless charging for iPhones.


Safari Tests USB Security Key Support To Help Fix Our Password Problems, by Stephen Shankland, CNET

The company on Wednesday released Safari Technology Preview version 71 with support for the Web Authentication (WebAuthn) technology, which lets websites authenticate your identity when you insert a hardware security key into your computer's USB port. Those security keys are typically paired with another authentication factor, most often a password, but they can work with biometric factors like fingerprints and with time-based codes from mobile apps like Authy.


Apple Squid Emoji Error Has Monterey Aquarium Up In Tentacles, by Bonnie Burton, CNET

On Wednesday, Monterey Bay Aquarium tweeted a few pun-filled comments to draw attention to the fact that Apple's squid emoji has its siphon in the wrong place.

Apple Receives FCC Approval For ‘Sleep Monitor’ That Looks Like Acquired Beddit Product, by Zac Hall, 9to5Mac

Apple has received FCC approval for a new ‘sleep monitor’ product today, but it’s likely not an Apple Watch-based solution. Instead, the product description suggests the Apple sleep monitor is either an existing version of the Beddit sleep monitor product acquired by Apple or a new version of the same product.

WALL·E, by Dave Addey, Typeset In The Future

From a trash-filled Earth to the futuristic Axiom and back again, WALL·E is a finely crafted balance between consumerist dystopia and sixties space-race optimism. Please join me, then, for a detailed dive into the uniquely robotic future of a remarkably human film, as seen through the eyes of its eponymous hero, WALL·E.

Before we get started, there is an important detail we must clear up. Our hero’s name is not, as you might think, WALL-E. Moreover, it definitely isn’t WALL•E. His name is WALL·E, and that dot is an interpunct, not a hyphen or a bullet.

The Full-Fat-Version Edition Wednesday, December 5, 2018

The 2018 Apple iPad Pro (11-Inch) Review: Doubling Down On Performance, by Brett Howse & Andrei Frumusanu, AnandTech

There is little doubt the Apple A12X SoC is potent. Apple claims it is faster than 92% of laptops available on the market, and there isn’t much evidence to refute this, but there really just isn’t a good breadth of evidence at all. A12X on iOS is very fast, and the less complicated applications on iOS are not going to cause this tablet to even break a sweat. A more telling test, perhaps, will be once Adobe has ported over the full-fat version of Photoshop to the iPad, which is expected next year.


So is the iPad Pro an Xbox One S class of GPU? Likely it is. The Xbox One S is only slightly quicker than the original Xbox One launched in 2013, and that console would struggle to achieve 1080p in games of that vintage. The Vega iGPU in the Ryzen 7 2700U offers more theoretical FLOPS than the Xbox One S, although at a higher TDP of 15-Watts, compared to the iPad Pro. In the synthetic tests, the iPad Pro scored higher than the Vega GPU, albeit at a lower precision, but regardless, there’s little doubt that the GPU in the iPad Pro is quite powerful. Add in the efficiency and the lower TDP, and results are even stronger. On the sustained performance run, the iPad was averaging just under 8 Watts of draw for the entire device.

Reading Comics On The New iPad Pros, by Jason Snell, Six Colors

That all said… if there’s an ideal comic-reading iPad, it’s the new 11-inch model. That new aspect ratio, which is taller when held vertically, gives comics far more room to breathe. And the device is thin and light enough to be held comfortably with one hand while reading, which isn’t really the case with the larger model. I’m sticking with my 12.9-inch iPad Pro, but the size increase on the smaller model makes it a much closer thing.

I can’t advocate buying a $799 iPad Pro just to read comics—if you don’t use an iPad for anything else, maybe consider the sixth-generation iPad?—but evaluated just as a reading device, the 11-inch iPad Pro is the best combination of screen size and weight.


Can This Little Magic App Make Your Headphones Sound Perfect?, by Mario Aguilar, Gizmodo

These days there’s digital fingerprints over all the music we listen to—all manner of transcription and translation as encoded music passes from cloud servers to computers to wireless headphones. I suspect that technology like True-Fi is only the very beginning of the processing technologies that will be deployed to optimize our listening. From that point of view, True-Fi is a fascinating peek at what’s to come, and certainly worth taking for a spin on a trial.

Linea Sketch Adds Fill, Blend, ZipShape, And Versioning Features, by John Voorhees, MacStories

With each update, the app has added functionality that makes it more powerful and flexible without increasing complexity. Version 2.5, which is out today, continues that trend with four new core features, support for Apple Pencil gestures, a new background paper, and other refinements.

Sofa Review: A Simple Tool For Tracking Movies, TV Shows, Books, And Podcasts, by Ryan Christoffel, MacStories

It's like saving items in Apple Notes, but with several added benefits: each saved item includes artwork in the list view, plus a handy synopsis in its detail view, and items can be checked off as they're enjoyed, which adds them to your Activity log.


Mac Developers Reminded To Have Their Apps Notarized As Apple Tightens Security, by Eric Slivka, MacRumors

Apple today reminded Mac developers that it is encouraging them to have their apps notarized, meaning that the apps have been scanned by Apple and checked for malware and other security issues.

A Year In, Apple’s Podcast Analytics Have Been An Evolution, Not A Revolution, by Nicholas Quah, Nieman Lab

But 12 months in, the legacy and impact of Apple’s new analytics is still very much a work in progress: trending positive, but complicated. The data has certainly proved useful, helping some publishers to better understand things like unlistened downloads, ad skipping, and episode retention rates. But based on the exchanges I’ve had, the general feeling seems to be that the data hasn’t fundamentally changed podcasting’s prehistoric perception among advertisers. Many argued that as long as the podcast business remains pegged to the download, trouble is afoot.

This isn’t to say that publishers weren’t able to secure more brand advertisers over the past year. (As many were quick to assure me.) Rather, some sources argue that until measurement actually shifts away from the download, the podcast ecosystem will never structurally unlock brand advertising dollars. One argued the nature of the problem has only worsened over the past year, given the increase in participation from competing platforms — Google, Pandora, iHeart, Spotify, and so on — that could, with their respective user bases and expertise in data and targeting, potentially end up assuming gatekeeper control between brand advertisers and podcast publishers, should any of them gain real traction against Apple.

Google Launches Flutter 1.0, Its Android And iOS Mobile App SDK, by Emil Protalinski, VentureBeat

At Flutter Live in London today, Google launched version 1.0 of Flutter, the company’s open source mobile UI framework that helps developers build native interfaces for Android and iOS.


The New Word Processor Wars: A Fresh Crop Of Productivity Apps Are Trying To Reinvent Our Workday, by Tony Lystra, GeekWire

Nearly 30 years after Microsoft Office came on the scene, it’s in the DNA of just about every productivity app. Even if you use Google’s G Suite or Apple’s iWork, you’re still following the Microsoft model.


But that way of thinking about work has gotten a little dusty, and new apps offering a different approach to getting things done are popping up by the day. There’s a new war on over the way we work, and the old “office suite” is being reinvented around rapid-fire discussion threads, quick sharing and light, simple interfaces where all the work happens inside a single window. In recent years, the buzzwords in tech have been “AI” and “mobile.” Today, you can add “collaboration” to that list — these days, everybody wants to build Slack-like communication into their apps.

The Raising-the-Bar Edition Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Claps And Cheers: Apple Stores' Carefully Managed Drama, by Jonny Bunning, The Guardian

How do you create an engaged, happy, knowledgeable workforce that can pass, however implausibly, as an entire battalion of geniuses in towns across the country? More importantly, how do you do all of that without the stick of the authoritarian boss or the carrot of a juicy commission?

Apple’s solution was to foster a sense of commitment to a higher calling while flattering employees that they were the chosen few to represent it. By counterintuitively raising the bar of admission, crafting a long series of interviews to weed out the mercenary or misanthropic, Johnson soon attracted more applicants than there were posts. Those keen enough to go through the onerous hiring process were almost by definition a better “fit” for the devotional ethos of the brand, far more receptive to the fiction that they weren’t selling things but, in an oft-repeated phrase, “enriching people’s lives”, as if they’d landed a job at a charity.

Apple Announces Its ‘Best Of 2018’ Lists Across Apps, Games, Music, Podcasts And More, by Sarah Perez, TechCrunch

The best app of 2018 on iPhone was the iPhone version of the popular Procreate drawing app for iPad, Procreate Pocket.

Meanwhile, the top iPad app was Froggipedia, an AR app that lets you virtually dissect a frog so you don’t have to actually dissect a frog.

Six Years With A Distraction-Free iPhone, by Jake Knapp, Medium

I’ve had a distraction-free iPhone for six years now. And there have been costs. I lost my reputation for instant email response and immediate task turnaround. Without the tug of my phone, I drifted off of Facebook and lost touch with some friends.

But there were rewards as well. Without infinite friends, I paid better attention to moments with my wife and kids. This, for me, was and is the most important reason to redesign my relationship with my phone. It’s also very personal and specific to me, so I’m not going to linger on it.

It’s the second benefit I want to focus on — a very unexpected benefit.

Dodgy iOS Apps Scammed Users By Abusing The iPhone’s Touch ID Feature, by Dan Goodin, Ars Technica

The scam worked by displaying a message as soon as the app was opened. It told users to scan their fingerprint to view a calorie tracker or receive another personal service. When users complied, the apps displayed a popup window that said they had been charged a fee. Less than two seconds later, the popup disappeared, but by then it was too late for many users. Anyone with a card linked to their Apple account was already charged.


Apple Launches Dedicated Store For Military And Veterans With Discounted iPhones, iPads, And More, by Michael Potuck, 9to5Mac

Apple has today opened up a new online store for active military personnel and veterans to make purchasing its products at a discount more accessible. Different from its education pricing, eligible military customers will receive 10% off Apple products, and the new discounted pricing even includes iPhones, Apple Watch, accessories, and more.

How Ring's Neighbors App Is Making Home Security A Social Thing, by Ben Fox Rubin, CNET

Pointing to the early benefits of Neighbors, Siminoff and Kuhn said there was a spike in activity on the app when the Hill Fire and Woolsey Fire hit Southern California last month. People were able to ask about specific streets and share safety tips. While users typically get two to five alerts per week, post and comment volume surged over 1,000 percent in the affected areas, the company said.

"We had 30,000, if you will, camera reporters in the field able to report how things were where they were," Siminoff said. "It is hyper, hyper, hyper local."

5 Alternatives To Apple’s Discontinued Print Services For Photo Books, Calendars, And Cards, by Michael Potuck, 9to5Mac

Custom photo books and calendars make great gifts, and it’s fun to set yourself apart with unique holiday greeting cards. However, after Apple announced it would be discontinuing its native photo printing services this past fall, this is the first holiday season that users will need to find a substitute. Follow along for five alternatives to print your photo books, calendars, and cards with the Photos App on Mac as well as iPhone.

Review: Nanoleaf Canvas Pulls Double-duty As A Functional HomeKit Wall Light & A Piece Of Art, by Andrew O'Hara, AppleInsider

For some, it may be hard to overcome the high price tag of the Canvas. But it is such a cool product we had a hard time not showing it off. It can get quite dim which makes it a great nightlight. HomeKit can automate it by turning it on or off with geofencing, or through a motion sensor in your home's setup. And, the touch functionality is fun if a bit on the gimmicky side.


Optimizing Siri On HomePod In Far‑Field Settings, by Audio Software Engineering and Siri Speech Team, Apple Machine Learning Journal

The typical audio environment for HomePod has many challenges — echo, reverberation, and noise. Unlike Siri on iPhone, which operates close to the user’s mouth, Siri on HomePod must work well in a far-field setting. Users want to invoke Siri from many locations, like the couch or the kitchen, without regard to where HomePod sits. A complete online system, which addresses all of the environmental issues that HomePod can experience, requires a tight integration of various multichannel signal processing technologies. Accordingly, the Audio Software Engineering and Siri Speech teams built a system that integrates both supervised deep learning models and unsupervised online learning algorithms and that leverages multiple microphone signals. The system selects the optimal audio stream for the speech recognizer by using top-down knowledge from the “Hey Siri” trigger phrase detectors. In this article, we discuss the machine learning techniques we use for online signal processing, as well as the challenges we faced and our solutions for achieving environmental and algorithmic robustness while ensuring energy efficiency.


Tim Cook To White Supremacists: "You Have No Place On Our Platforms", by Julia Alexander, The Verge

“Apple is a technology company, but we never forget the devices we make are imagined by human minds, built by human hands, and meant to improve human lives,” Cook said. “I worry less about computers that think like people and more about people that think like computers. Technology should be about human potential. It should be about optimism.

“We believe the future should belong to those who view technology as a way to build a more inclusive and hopeful world.”

Apple Sucked Tumblr Into Its Walled Garden, Where Sex Is Bad, by Jason Koebler and Samantha Cole, Motherboard

We don’t know for sure whether Tumblr made this final decision under pressure from Apple, or because the platform felt like it could not competently moderate the platform any longer. But the decision to get rid of adult content wholesale is consistent both with the corporatization and sanitization of the internet that Apple has led the charge on.

Tumblr’s decision is even more disappointing because it’s obvious in D’Onofrio’s explanation that Tumblr leadership does not understand the important role that Tumblr held in the adult content community.

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I've just unsubscribed from a podcast simply because they pushed out a new episode that is nothing more than an announcement that their upcoming episode has been delayed, followed by a rather-long advertisement.

It is fine, dear podcast creators, if you want to keep to a regular publication schedule. But if you can't make it, you don't have to pad your schedule with reruns or clip shows or, worse, an announcement of you not able to keep to the regular publication schedule that you imposed on yourself. All podcast clients, I imagine, are able to regularly check for new episodes of subscribed podcasts. You can publish new episodes only when there are really new episodes. The audience will still be here.


Growing up, I always confused between the Star Wars theme and Superman theme.

I'm glad I am not the only one.


Thanks for reading.

The Can-Be-Recommended Edition Monday, December 3, 2018

State Of The Mac In 2018, by Bradley Chambers, 9to5Mac

While the Mac Pro desperately needs an update, all of the rest of Apple’s computers can be recommended.

I've Spent A Week With The New MacBook Air And I'm In Two Minds, by Chris Matyszczyk, ZDNet

When you've been used to an 11-inch screen for so long, the necessary leap to 13 inches is jarring.

Sometimes, I find myself leaving two inches of space around the edges and keeping my browser window at the old 11-inch mark.

It's creepy how habit can storm your life and dictate its every move.

Simplify Your Life By Creating Routines For Alexa, Siri, And Google Assistant, by David Nield, Popular Science

For instance, you could set a routine up so that, when you say "Alexa, good morning," your lights would turn on and that morning-motivation playlist would start blaring from the speakers. Or an iPhone use might say "Siri, I'm going home" to trigger a shortcut that sends an update to a family member in a text message, pulls up navigation directions on Apple Maps, and tells the smart thermostat to start heating up.

The real beauty of routines lies in the way you can customize them to suit your own needs and schedule. In this guide, we'll show you how to start building your own shortcuts for Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri.


50 Years In Tech. Part 11: Getting The Mac Out Of The Ditch, by Jean-Louis Gassée, Monday Note

Having formed a (somewhat) unified engineering team, it’s time to get down to business. May, 1985: Apple ][ sales are falling; the Mac has yet to take off. We need to make some changes, pronto, that will attract new customers and keep the old ones coming back.

The Friendship That Made Google Huge, by James Somers, New Yorker

One day in March of 2000, six of Google’s best engineers gathered in a makeshift war room. The company was in the midst of an unprecedented emergency. In October, its core systems, which crawled the Web to build an “index” of it, had stopped working. Although users could still type in queries at, the results they received were five months out of date. More was at stake than the engineers realized. Google’s co-founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, were negotiating a deal to power a search engine for Yahoo, and they’d promised to deliver an index ten times bigger than the one they had at the time—one capable of keeping up with the World Wide Web, which had doubled in size the previous year. If they failed, would remain a time capsule, the Yahoo deal would likely collapse, and the company would risk burning through its funding into oblivion.

In a conference room by a set of stairs, the engineers laid doors across sawhorses and set up their computers. Craig Silverstein, a twenty-seven-year-old with a small frame and a high voice, sat by the far wall. Silverstein was Google’s first employee: he’d joined the company when its offices were in Brin’s living room and had rewritten much of its code himself. After four days and nights, he and a Romanian systems engineer named Bogdan Cocosel had got nowhere. “None of the analysis we were doing made any sense,” Silverstein recalled. “Everything was broken, and we didn’t know why.”

Silverstein had barely registered the presence, over his left shoulder, of Sanjay Ghemawat, a quiet thirty-three-year-old M.I.T. graduate with thick eyebrows and black hair graying at the temples. Sanjay had joined the company only a few months earlier, in December. He’d followed a colleague of his—a rangy, energetic thirty-one-year-old named Jeff Dean—from Digital Equipment Corporation. Jeff had left D.E.C. ten months before Sanjay. They were unusually close, and preferred to write code jointly. In the war room, Jeff rolled his chair over to Sanjay’s desk, leaving his own empty. Sanjay worked the keyboard while Jeff reclined beside him, correcting and cajoling like a producer in a news anchor’s ear.

Jeff and Sanjay began poring over the stalled index. They discovered that some words were missing—they’d search for “mailbox” and get no results—and that others were listed out of order. For days, they looked for flaws in the code, immersing themselves in its logic. Section by section, everything checked out. They couldn’t find the bug.

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Personally, I think a Mac Mini and iPad combo is pretty sweet. Especially if someone can create a good keybaord that can be shared between the two devices. Bonus points if the keyboard works via Bluetooth and the smart connector. And maybe with a trackpad that can move cursors in both macOS and iOS.


Thanks for reading.

The Faster-Distribution Edition Sunday, December 2, 2018

iTunes Doesn't Encrypt Downloads—on Purpose, by Lily Hay Newman, Wired

Though it's initially surprising that a company as purportedly pro-privacy as Apple might not offer total HTTPS adoption on its backend, iOS researcher Will Strafach says he thinks the setup serves a specific purpose. By sending the downloads themselves over plaintext HTTP instead of an encrypted connection, system administrators, especially in large enterprise environments, can create a sort of way station to cache large apps and files on their local network for faster distribution. That means they won't eat up bandwidth if the app, update, or other file is being downloaded over and over again onto numerous devices. If the connection were encrypted between Apple's servers and the devices, that stopover wouldn't be possible.

"It seems non-standard and odd at first, but I don't think there is a security threat here since integrity checks still occur," Strafach says. He agrees that there are always potential downsides to sending data unencrypted, but notes that an attacker who wants to track what a target is downloading might still be able to do it even with TLS encryption, based on an app's size.

Two Simple Tricks To Make Your iPhone Battery Last All Day, by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, ZDNet

The first one the simplest one, but also the most effective, and that is to switch on Low Power Mode.

As the name suggests, activating this setting puts your device into low power mode. And it really does work, giving you about three hours of extra battery life. If you are worried about your battery not making it through the day, this is the setting to activate.

Terrible iPhone Battery Life? Time Is Running Out FAST To Take Advantage Of Apple’s Discount Battery Replacement, by Aaron Brown, T3

Apple's discounted battery replacement programme ends on December 31, 2018. The scheme was introduced in December last year following a backlash over the revelation that Apple intentionally slows down the performance of older iPhone models in order to prevent unexpected shutdowns when the chipset draws too much power from an ageing battery cell.

Voice Messaging – Conversational Gain Or Pain?, by Chris Stokel-Walker, The Guardian

Trawl through social media or simply have the misfortune to be friends with an early adopter of tech trends and you’ll see that the next big form of communication is upon us. It isn’t a brand new app or some strange semaphore. In some ways, it’s a throwback to the 1980s era of answering machines. “Voice messaging” – sending recorded voice messages to recipients using apps such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Telegram – is having a moment. Unlike with voicemail, there’s no opportunity for the recipient to pick up and chat, and you can mix voice messages in with regular chat messages. For those who haven’t yet had the pleasure of encountering them, here’s what you need to know.

A Map That Tracks Everything, by Shannon Mattern, The Atlantic

Crypto-cartographers hope to use it for spatial verification—confirming that things are where they say they are, when they claim to be there. How might this be useful? Well, you could know precisely when an Amazon delivery drone drops a package on your doorstep, at which point the charge would post to your account. No more unscrupulous delivery drivers, and no more contested charges for packages lost in transit. Or when opening a new bank account, you could virtually confirm your permanent address by physically being there during a particular verification period, rather than providing copies of your utility bills. You could also submit a photo of your flooded basement or smashed windshield to the insurance company, supplementing your claim with time- and location-verified documentation. Or, as you pass by your local family-owned coffee shop, the owner could “airdrop” some Bitcoin coupons to your phone, and you could stop by to cash in before the offer expires a half hour later.

These examples are certainly appealing. But the physical world might not be as easy to map as crypto-cartographers believe.

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If I want a pair of AirPods, should I wait for the new model to arrive in stores, given that all the rumors seem to point to a good chance that Apple is releasing a new version soon? After all, I don't want to be stuck with the current and older model, which is full of regrets?

Or should I just not wait and just buy a pair and start enjoying them now, because chances are the new versions will be released at a higher price, and I will then purchase the current and older model anyway?

Decisions, decisions, decision.

(Thank goodness I don't actually want or need to buy AirPods.)



Thanks for reading.

The Height-Above-Trend-Line Edition Saturday, December 1, 2018

Fun With Charts: The iPad Bests The MacBook, by Jason Snell, Six Colors

The real thing to measure in this chart is height above the trend line. And by that measure, the 2018 iPad Pro is way ahead. Meanwhile, the Touch Bar MacBook Pro models all retain a fairly consistent height above the trend line. (And the less said about the 12-inch MacBook, the better.)

Editing Your Travel Photos Can Make All The Difference — Here’s How To Do It, by Roy Furchgott, Washington Post

When she photographed the Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of the Assumption in Santiago de Cuba, she used all of her know-how; she scouted ahead of time, found a rooftop vantage from which to shoot and waited until the light was perfect. But the resulting photo was a flop. “I wasn’t getting the emotion,” she said.

Then she applied the “art sauce” that virtually every travel photographer uses. She used software to tweak the image, turning the color photo into a dramatic black and white. “It just didn’t feel right until I removed the color,” she said. “I felt like this is what I was going for, and all that emotion and vintage feel was allowed to show through in the image.”

This is the secret of professional travel photographers. No matter how good the image they capture is, the editing — called postproduction, or “post” for short — makes it a little better. Sometimes, a lot better.


The App That Makes Writing Less Lonely, by Dougal Shaw, BBC

Welcome to the world of Inkvite, one of a number of creative-writing platforms popular with teenagers and young adults in the US. It allows users to share stories, comment on them, and also collaborate.

3 Mac Apps To Get And Stay Organized, by Matt Elliott, CNET

The new Stacks feature that MacOS Mojave introduced is helpful in bringing order to the files littering my desktop, but I still find myself fighting the multitasking tide against too many open windows. Here's a trio of Mac apps that can help keep your windows organized and your head above water.

8 Mindfulness Apps You Need If You're Burnt TF Out, by Mallory Creveling, Cosmopolitan

The cure for literally everything: mindfulness. At least, that’s what science won’t shut up about lately. Over the last few years, researchers have suggested that being mindful, or tuning into the present moment, can help people focus at work, reduce anxiety, diminish junk food cravings, and motivate people to work out more. So, yeah, it’s magic.

But how the hell do you start living your best mindful life? Well, for starters, you can download these apps that that’ll teach you to live in the now. Here’s the best one.

TestCard Turns Your iPhone Into A Private, Clinical-grade Urinalysis Kit, by Daniel Eran Dilger, AppleInsider

A UK startup is launching an app that uses the iPhone camera and flash system to provide immediate and accurate results for a variety of issues ranging from pregnancy to blood glucose to prostate health, kidney disease, STIs and even illicit drugs —using low-cost test strips that arrive in the form of a postcard-sized mailer.

Apple Approves Indian Government’s Do Not Disturb App, Avoiding iPhone Ban, by Jeremy Horwitz, VentureBeat

The registration process appears to leverage the SMS/Call Reporting framework Apple recently introduced into iOS, tying reporting directly into the Phone and Messages applications, and sharing only specific spam content with authorities.


Rogue Heart Rate App Highlights Flaws In Apple's Closed-door Review Process, by Andrew O'Hara, AppleInsider

This highlights, yet again, the problem with Apple's app review process. We are all in support of the review process, but for a clearly fraudulent app to slide through unquestioned raises serious doubts. The chance that this was a one-off circumstance that Apple overlooked and it happened to be a scam is quite unlikely and makes us question how thorough the process is as a whole.