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.

Bottom of the Page

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.