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Archive for January 2019

The Battery-Bump Edition Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Apple’s Battery Cases Return For The iPhone XS And XR, by Brian Heater, TechCrunch

The familiar battery bump is back, but it now encompasses the whole of the rear, which should make holding it a little less awkward — and at the very least is a bit better looking.

This time out, the silicone covers are available in black and white and will work with Qi chargers, without having to pull the case off.

AirPower Referenced In iPhone XS Smart Battery Case Description In Malaysia, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

As discovered by MacRumors tipster Sri Ram and others on Twitter, Apple has referenced its long-awaited AirPower charging mat in the product description for its new iPhone XS Smart Battery Case in Malaysia.

Going Places

DuckDuckGo Debuts Map Search Results Using Apple Maps, by Zack Whittaker, TechCrunch

In using Apple’s mapping data, DuckDuckGo will become one of the biggest users of Apple Maps to date, six months after Apple said it would open up Apple Maps, long only available on Macs, iPhones and iPads, to the web.

Nothing Can Stop Google. DuckDuckGo Is Trying Anyway., by Drew Millard, Medium

When it comes to the internet, trust is something easily lost and difficult to regain. In a sense, every time a giant of the internet surveillance economy is revealed to have sold out its customers in some innovatively horrifying way, the ensuing chaos almost serves as free advertising for DuckDuckGo. “The world keeps going in a bad direction, and it makes people think, ‘Hey, I would like to escape some of the bad stuff on the internet and go to a safer place,’” Weinberg says. “And that’s where we see ourselves.”

Play Ball

Nike Debuts $350 iPhone-Controlled Self-Adjusting Basketball Shoes, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

The new Nike Adapt BB shoes feature an advanced power-lacing system with a custom motor that senses the tension needed by the foot and adjusts accordingly to ensure a snug fit. Using buttons on the shoe or the Nike Adapt app for smartphones, basketball players can adjust the fit on the fly during a game.

Hands-on With Nike’s Self-lacing, App-controlled Sneaker Of The Future, by Ashley Carman, The Verge

As far as fit, imagine a toy claw machine, but the claw is flipped upside down and inside your shoe, closing in on you. That’s the sensation I felt when the shoe tightened — almost like a robot was hugging me. Compared to the Jordans I wore during my Nike campus visit, though, they were comfortable and tight enough. I can’t imagine ever adjusting them on a normal day, but once you get used to tight shoes, it’s a bummer to go back to your loose-fitting ones. It is kind of a bummer to have to tie them, too.

Chips and Licenses

FTC Rests Case Against Qualcomm, Arguing It's A Monopoly In Mobile Chips, by Shara Tibken, CNET

Key to the FTC's argument is Qualcomm's so-called "no license, no chips" policy. Qualcomm sells processors that connect phones to cellular networks, but it also licenses its broad portfolio as a group. For a set fee -- based on the selling price of the end device, typically a phone -- the manufacturer gets to use all of Qualcomm's technology. It's phone makers who pay the licensing fee, not chipmakers.

[...]

And Apple, which has been fighting Qualcomm in patent and licensing lawsuits around the globe, sent two executives to testify on behalf of the FTC. Apple believes Qualcomm's fees are too high; it thinks it should pay a fee based only on the value of Qualcomm's connectivity chips, not the entire device.

German Court Throws Out Qualcomm's Latest Patent Case Against Apple, by Douglas Busvine, Reuters

A patent lawsuit filed by Qualcomm Inc against Apple Inc was thrown out by a German court on Tuesday, in a reversal for the U.S. chipmaker after it won a recent court ban on the sale of some iPhones in the country.

Stuff

Rogue Amoeba Filled All My Mac Audio Needs, by Marty Edwards, Apple World Today

The group at Rogue Amoeba has some of the best apps I’ve ever used. The apps are attractive, responsive, and work perfectly. I highly recommend both apps.

What You Get When You Export Calendar And Reminders In macOS, And How To Use Those Files, by Glenn Fleishman, Macworld

Because the underlying calendar and reminders files get backed up by Time Machine and drive cloning (if not third-party cloud backup software, which can vary), there’s typically no good reason in modern times to back up the data. But it’s a useful interchange format if you’re changing calendar software (from Apple to Microsoft) or setting up a new system in some very clean way in which you don’t want to sync from an old account.

Develop

Save Changes Before Quitting?, by Niko Kitsakis

The familiar battery bump is back, but it now encompasses the whole of the rear, which should make holding it a little less awkward — and at the very least is a bit better looking.

This time out, the silicone covers are available in black and white and will work with Qi chargers, without having to pull the case off.

Notes

Supraventricular Tachycardia: Or, A Trip To The ER With My Apple Watch, by Tom Bridge

Sure, a lot of the time it feels like we live in a dystopian version of the future, and I’m still not sure where the flying cars are, but today I used my wrist computer — list price $399 — to take an ECG before arriving at the emergency room, where a doctor, appearing in my room via video conference, was able to read that medical diagnostic and make a snap judgment that I was probably going to be alright for now.

What Would A World Without Pushbuttons Look Like?, by Rachel Plotnick, Aeon

A world without buttons would offer no utopian antidote to the problems that often plague communication, work and play, both through and with technologies. Every interface requires users to learn about and habituate their bodies to a set of what at first seem very unnatural gestures – and every interface gets embedded and mobilised in social circumstances in ways that can support or disincentivise users’ agency. Touchscreen interfaces raise concerns about safety, as users must devote much of their attention to visually engaging with the screen rather than feeling about for a raised surface with their fingers. Facial-recognition interfaces carry with them attendant ethical questions, and some worry that tools of this kind indicate ‘another step toward the end of anonymity’, and invite greater surveillance by both corporations and government entities. Moving toward these forms of interaction merely invites new puzzles and negotiations.

Rather than eschew buttons for the next shiniest interface as though it were a panacea, the task, then, becomes to imagine a world with buttons that also prioritises authentic user-engagement, transparency and feedback – a world that is sensitised to the politics and privileges associated with pushing.

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I'm disappointed that the battery case for XS will not fit the X, which is the phone that I'm using.

Not that I'm having problems with battery life. Yet.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Not-Created-Equal Edition Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Screens Might Be As Bad For Mental Health As ... Potatoes, by Robbie Gonzalez, Wired

Not all screen time is created equal, but most studies to date treat it as monolithic. "That's like asking if food is good or bad for you, and in the end, questions like that will never help us," says Orben. "We need to stop the debate about the effect of generic tech-use on well-being, and open space for more and better research about the kind of technologies people are using, who's using them, and how."

Personal Health Records—More Promising In The Smartphone Era?, by Christian Dameff, Brian Clay, Christopher A. Longhurst, JAMA

Improvements in mobile hardware and sensors, digital communication standards, and accessible software have changed significantly since the initial efforts at creating personal health records. Although it remains too soon to draw firm conclusions, the continued development of patient-facing health care technologies by well-established technology companies suggests that the digital health care landscape may now be sufficiently mature to foster the broad adoption of personal health records. Whether these technological advances ultimately improve patient outcomes, lower costs, and improve quality remain the most important unanswered questions.

Stuff

TD Ameritrade Taps Apple Pay For Instant Fund Transfers To Accounts, by Stephen Nellis, Reuters

Tuteja said TD Ameritrade chose Apple Pay to start with because of its ease of use, security and the fact that about three-quarters of the brokerage’s clients use the iOS operating system.

An iOS-only Video Workflow: Surprises, Challenges, And Hopes For The Future, by Michael Steeber, 9to5Mac

With another CES in the books, I can say with confidence that switching to an iOS-only video workflow for simple projects greatly improved my productivity and helped complete time-sensitive edits without a hitch. Less waiting for rendering, less fumbling with cables, and lighter gear all meant more time on the show floor. I wouldn’t return to CES without my iPad.

Develop

Apple’s FoundationDB Open Sources The Database Layer Behind CloudKit, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Apple originally acquired FoundationDB in 2015, and last April it announced that it was making the cloud database open source. Now, things are being taken a step further as FoundationDB has announced it is open sourcing Foundation DB Record Layer, which powers CloudKit.

Notes

On Apple’s $29 iPhone Battery Replacement Program And Its Role In Their Earnings Miss, by John Gruber, Daring Fireball

During Apple’s all-hands meeting January 3, Tim Cook said Apple replaced 11 million batteries under the $29 replacement program, and they’d have only anticipated about 1-2 million battery replacements normally.

In The Shadow Of The CMS, by Kyle Chayka, The Nation

CMSs are like digital printing presses: They determine how journalism gets published online. But unlike the printing press, CMSs also increasingly influence not just how stories look but how they are produced, discovered, read, and monetized. To attempt another comparison: If an article is like a bag of chips for the consumer, then a CMS is like the vending machine. CMSs shape every media company from top to bottom, publisher to reader. They use adaptive algorithms to recommend certain stories to certain audiences, put up paywalls at particular points in articles, help control the flow of traffic, measure reader engagement through specific metrics, and regulate which ad networks the publications profit from most. When a title outsources its publishing technology to another media company, it gives up some control over how its stories are distributed—for better or worse.

With Google, Facebook, and other social-media platforms having taken over so much of digital publishing and reader consumption, the independent CMS is a matter of survival. Media companies and journalists alike are reclaiming the means of distribution and monetization from the few tech companies that dominated the space over the past decade. Thus, as readers, we also need to evaluate a publication’s CMS just as we judge the stories themselves.

The Mandarin-and-Cantonese Edition Monday, January 14, 2019

Apple HomePod Comes To China At $400 Amid iPhone Sales Woes, by Rita Liao, TechCrunch

What separates the new model is that it supports Mandarin, the official language on Mainland China and Cantonese, which is spoken in Hong Kong and China’s most populated province Guangdong.

[...]

The question is how many Chinese shoppers are willing to shell out 2799 yuan, or $414, for the Siri-controlled speaker. A host of much cheaper options from local giants are available, such as Alibaba’s Tmall Genie, Xiaomi’s Mi AI and several models from Baidu.

Apple Music No Longer Allows HomePod And iPhone To Play Different Music On Individual Accounts, by Ben Lovejoy, 9to5Mac

Apple Music is no longer allowing subscribers to play different music on a HomePod and iPhone without a family account.

Liberation from Guilt

‘Inbox Infinity’: Is Ignoring All Your Emails The Secret To A Happy 2019?, by André Spicer, The Guardian

Inbox infinity seems a great way of dealing with the endless deluge of emails. It stops you wasting your time endlessly dealing with emails. It also can; a liberation from the guilt and anxiety that our inboxes often inspire. But it does not come without risks. Neglecting emails may make you seem unprofessional. Colleagues and friends may think it is a sign that you don’t care. It could even cut you out of crucial communications. But for some, it really is the only practical option. After all, how can anyone deal with 500 emails when there are only 480 minutes in the average working day?

Why I Didn't Answer Your Email, by KJ Dell'Antonia, New York Times

It is possible that I will answer your email later, in a few hours, or in a few years, maybe when I am 57, and I will be so happy to have your email. We will trade words, and those words will again seem so real to me, a whole world in my laptop, where I live, sometimes, because there is so much that is seductive in there, where time moves fast and yet never moves at all. I will take my laptop outside and I will sit among the trees, listening for the voices of children who are no longer home, and I will answer your email.

It is also possible that I will not — that I, in fact, will never answer your email. If that is the case, if the people and the places and the things around me still press upon me with more urgency than your email and so many others, I hope that you will forgive me. I have already forgiven myself.

Algorithms Should Contribute To The Happiness Of Society, by Arjan Haring, Towards Data Science

We do not believe it is necessary to measure all of the things all of the time. We must always remember that data is just there to help us answer questions. And it is up to human creativity to ask these right questions. We believe instead that sets of interesting, well-designed experiments will be able teach us more than any Orwellian state will learn.

Stuff

File Transfer Apps For Mac In 2019: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly, by Nathan Alderman, iMore

Among paid apps, Transmit stands head and shoulders above the rest. If you're in a cash crunch, though, ForkLift 3 offers most of Transmit's finer points at two-thirds of its cost. And if you just need a free, simple way to move files from point A to point B, ForkLift 2 beats all contenders in its class.

Develop

Writing Things Down (How To Know What To Do Next), by Taylor Campbell, Manythingsblog

Feeling uncertain? Write down your concern. Write down the counter. Question the counter. Continue until it’s obvious what to do.

No Boss? No Thanks. Why Managers Are More Important Than Ever., by Nicolai Foss & Peter Klein, Aeon

In dynamic environments, decisions become highly time-sensitive, and ‘democratic’ decision making is inefficient when each decision affects another. Often the knowledge about who should do what to coordinate responses to changes in the environment resides within the management team – who therefore should make the decision. Indeed, it is exactly because of more dynamic environments, greater time-sensitivity, a need for expert decision making and a focus on internal alignment that we see top management teams expanding at the same time as companies have been delayering.

Notes

An Egg, Just A Regular Egg, Is Instagram’s Most-Liked Post Ever, by Daniel Victor, New York Times

Please don’t expect any of the following to make sense.

But on Sunday night, a photo of an egg, orange and lightly freckled, beat out Kylie Jenner’s birth announcement as the most-liked Instagram post ever.

When Chinese Hackers Declared War On The Rest Of Us, by James Griffiths, MIT Technology Review

GitHub and Tibetans like Lobsang Sither were among the first victims on a new front in China’s war on the internet, launched by a new breed of censor determined to go after the country’s enemies wherever they might be, using whatever means necessary.

[...]

Many thought the internet would bring democracy to China. Instead it has empowered government surveillance and control beyond Mao Zedong’s dreams. Now, the censors are turning their attention to the rest of the world.

Bottom of the Page

Little things that annoyed me:
1) The magic keyboard keeps sliding on the table when I am typing
2) Bluetooth devices -- keyboards, earphones -- that take a long time to connect
3) Software bugs
4) Life itself.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Looking-Great Edition Sunday, January 13, 2019

UX Rant: The Nightmare Horrorshow That Is The Apple TV Remote, by Steve Brykman, Ars Technica

These issues all lead me to one conclusion: the design priority here was to make something that would encourage sales by looking great on a screen but which isn’t that great at manipulating content on said screen. Which is unfortunate, since that’s the one thing a remote is meant to do.

The Lost Art Of Legendary Apple UX, by Marcin Krzyżanowski

It took Apple [about 10] minutes to left me very pissed, and I was not able to complete basic task.

Stuff

Want To Give Blood? There’s An App For That., by Erin Blakemore, Washington Post

It helps you find places to donate and set up appointments. It also stores data about your blood donations so you can see how much you’ve donated and when it’s time to donate again. The app sends out alerts about shortages so you can give blood when it’s needed most. And it even lets you recruit new blood donors, creating a team of your friends and keeping track of your total donations.

Notes

Apple Buys 50 Business Class Seats From San Francisco To Shanghai Every Day, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

Apple has many suppliers in China, which explains why the company sends so many employees to the Shanghai Pudong Airport.

Bottom of the Page

Personally, I don't really mind the Apple TV remote. I've purchased the (probably overpriced) Apple Loop that goes with the remote, and don't really have a problem figuring which way is up with the loop sticking out on one end. Also, because I am living in a typical Singapore apartment, it will never be so dark out here that I can't see the remote.

The problem I do have is that the same remote behave differently in different apps. Some apps do an x-second forward and rewind when I click on the sides of the trackpad, while some do not. The 'Menu' button do different things in different apps; in fact, in some apps, the 'Menu' button behave differently in different parts of the same app.

Apple will do well, I believe, to rethink the user-interface guidelines for the Apple TV. And to enforce the guidelines in a more stringent manner.

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Thanks for reading.

The Endorsement-of-Protocols Edition Saturday, January 12, 2019

No, Apple's Licensing Of iTunes & AirPlay 2 Isn't A 'Strategy Reversal' In Any Way, by Daniel Eran Dilger, AppleInsider

While the Wall Street Journal is portraying Apple's new iTunes and AirPlay 2 partnerships as a white flag of defeat for Apple's own hardware, the reality is that it is actually an endorsement of Apple's protocols being important enough for major television makers to support, because far more affluent TV buyers own iPhones than Samsung Galaxy devices, and because both Samsung and the larger industry's various efforts to copy AirPlay have failed to work out.

And while Mims crowed about Apple sacrificing its hardware sales to promote the ability to sell iTunes, its quite obvious that widespread adoption of AirPlay 2 will not only boost Apple Music and iTunes, but can also only help sales of Macs and iOS devices, and will also make Apple TV, HomePod, Siri and HomeKit more attractive as well.

The End Of iTunes, by M.G. Siegler, 500ish Words

But again, I suspect the iTunes brand shifts towards the legacy stuff. I think Apple will use this opportunity to finally start obsoleting the iTunes product. Which will be music to all of our ears.

Paying for Patents

Why The FTC Thinks You Pay Too Much For Smartphones, by Klint Finley, Wired

The Federal Trade Commission thinks you're paying too much for smartphones. But it doesn’t blame handset makers like Apple and Samsung or wireless carriers. Instead, the agency blames Qualcomm, which owns key wireless-technology patents and makes chips that can be can be found in most high-end Android phones and many iPhones.

Apple Considered Samsung, MediaTek To Supply 5G Modems For 2019, by Stephen Nellis, Reuters

On the stand at a federal courthouse in San Jose, California, Blevins testified that Apple has long sought multiple suppliers for modem chips but signed an agreement with Qualcomm to exclusively supply the chips because the chip supplier offered deep rebates on patent license costs in exchange for exclusivity.

We Collectively Own

Re-decentralizing The Web, For Good This Time, by Ruben Verborgh

The concept of centralization does not pose a problem in and of itself: there are good reasons for bringing people and things together. The situation becomes problematic when we are robbed of our choice, deceived into thinking there is only one access gate to a space that, in reality, we collectively own. Some time ago, it seemed unimaginable that a fundamentally open platform like the Web would become the foundation for closed spaces, where we pay with our personal data for a fraction of the freedoms that are actually already ours. Yet a majority of Web users today find themselves confined to the boundaries of a handful of influential social networks for their daily interactions. Such networks gather opinions from all over the world, only to condense that richness into one space, where they simultaneously act as the director and judge of the resulting stream they present to us.

Because this change happened so suddenly, perhaps we need a reminder that the Web landscape looked quite different not even that long ago. In 2008, Iranian blogger Hossein Derakhshan was sentenced to 20 years of jail, primarily because of blog posts he had written. He and many others were able to state their critical opinions because they had the Web as an open platform, so they did not depend on anyone’s permission to publish their words. Crucially, the Web’s hyperlinking mechanism lets blogs point to each other, again without requiring any form of permission. This allows for a decentralized value network between equals, where readers remain in active and conscious control of their next move. When Derakhshan was eventually released in 2014, he came back to an entirely different Web: critical readers had transformed into passive viewers, as if watching television. While Web technology had of course evolved, its core foundations had not—it was the way people were using the Web that had become unrecognizable in a mere 6 years.

Stuff

The Most Important Thing To Do If Your Mac Has A Fusion Drive: Back Up Your Data, by Glenn Fleishman, Macworld

Drive manufacturers that offer hybrid drives embed the SSD storage into the same package as the HDD. Apple, in contrast, puts an SSD on the computer motherboard separately from the HDD, and relies on macOS to integrate the two. Files aren’t stored separately on the two drives, but rather macOS interleaves data so that it’s effectively like one big drive.

That’s great for performance and cost, but it’s highly problematic if your HDD fails or if your Mac bites the dust.

Cheap Accessories That Make iPad Pro A Productivity Powerhouse, by Killian Bell, Cult of Mac

In this roundup, we’ve listed affordable accessories that turn iPad Pro into a productivity powerhouse.

Notes

How We Apologize Now, by Lindsey Weber, New York Times

To be famous in 2019 one must possess (in addition to talent, or at least popularity) a patina of authenticity and a willingness to admit wrongdoing. Also: an iPhone.

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I have a problem. I haven't been able to finish the last few e-books that I borrowed from my local library.

Half-way through the loan period, I will discover that I have finish less than half of the e-book, and I will be discouraged, and I will think that this is because I'm not enjoying the e-book I've borrowed, and I will then return and move on to the next e-book.

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Thanks for reading.

The Open-Your-Eyes Edition Friday, January 11, 2019

I Can’t Worry About Screen Time Right Now, by Chloe Hall, Elle

To my critics, yes, I might just be one of the criminally insane characters in Bird Box urging you to open your eyes and see the (blue) light. Sure, screen time might be a concern. But I'm already buried by a to-do list that seems to grow longer and more complicated by the day. When I reach Gwyneth Paltrow levels of wellness (and wealth), I'm sure screen time will float to the top of the list right alongside what sort of jade egg I need. Until then, let me be on my phone as much as I want.

The Maturing Of The Smartphone Industry Is Cause For Celebration, by The Economist

Does that mean innovation is slowing? No. The latest phones contain amazingly clever technology, such as 3D face-scanners and cameras assisted by artificial intelligence. But as with mature technologies such as cars or washing machines, extra bells and whistles no longer make a deep impression.

More important is that smartphones support extra innovation in other areas. Deploying apps and services on an immature platform whose prospects are uncertain is risky; on a mature one it is not. Smartphones thus provide a foundation for today’s innovations, like mobile payments and video streaming, and for future ones, such as controlling “smart” home appliances or hailing robotaxis.

iPhone Prices Discounted By Up To 20% At Chinese Retailers, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

Leading resellers JD.com and Suning have cut the sales price of iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and XR this week by about 20%. Apple has not changing pricing on its website.

[...]

It is believed that the price drop was made in coordination with Apple company strategy. Apple is set to announce a significant iPhone revenue decline later this month, with macroeconomic weakness in China cited as the primary cause.

Notes

The New Rules Of Eating Al Desko, by Phil Daoust, The Guardian

As winter finally begins to bite, the idea of the al-desko lunch seems increasingly alluring. No one wants to take their sandwich to the park when it’s snowing, and even the walk to the local cafe can seem too much when it is through wind and rain.

But is there a right and a wrong way to eat at your desk? Should we be even doing it in the first place? We asked some experts and office workers.

Why I Love My Computer But Hate Technology, by Laurie Levy, Chicago Now

What I learned from the entire ordeal was that in-person human beings can fix what helplines and technology can’t.

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Things I have stopped doing: having lunch at my work desk.

Things I am still continuing doing: having coffee at my work desk.

~

Thanks for reading.

The About-Health Edition Thursday, January 10, 2019

Tim Cook Points At New Services And Health-tech Propelling Apple’s Future, by Valentina Palladino, Ars Technica

But Cook could be hinting at other services that haven't leaked yet. He put a big emphasis on healthcare in the interview, claiming that health will be what most remember Apple for in the long run.

"On the healthcare, in particular, and sort of your wellbeing, this is an area that I believe, if you zoom out into the future, and you look back, and you ask the question, 'What was Apple's greatest contribution to mankind?' It will be about health," Cook said. "Because our business has always been about enriching people's lives."

Apple’s 4K TV Deals Show How The Company’s Business Strategy Is Evolving, by Jason Snell, Macworld

Apple’s change in strategy has been clear, from its focus on Services revenue to its expensive TV deals, for a while now. But if you think of Apple as a company that just sells boxes for money, 2019 is only going to get more surprising from here.

Wild Goose Chase

Apple Watch Fall Feature Triggers False Emergency Calls At Ski Areas, by CBS 4

One 911 call from an Apple Watch obtained by CBS4 to the Vail Dispatch demonstrates what dispatchers are encountering. The 911 operator first hears a robot voice before the watch user gets on the call and says “he is okay.”

But many users fail to realize the call has been made. While this person continues skiing, emergency responders are on a “wild goose chase to find them.”

Stuff

Tech-based Band Introduces Kids To Playing Music With iPads, by Fox 13 Tampa Bay

"At first I thought, 'Why would they have that?' People just think you are touching a button and that's not what it is. You’re actually learning the beats, the rhythms, the chords of the song," he explains.

Yale Assure SL Review, Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Embrace The Smart Lock, by Jason Snell, Six Colors

Beyond no longer worrying about if our door is locked or unlocked, the biggest change in my family’s life since the new lock was installed is the removal of our front door keys from our keychains. I used to bring a key with me when I went for a run or took the dog for a walk, but it’s not necessary anymore. If we’ve got our iPhones, the lock will sense our presence and open, and if we don’t, we can still punch in our keycodes and enter that way.

Develop

Square Takes Aim At Stripe, PayPal With New Payments Kit For Mobile Software Developers, by Tom Krazit, Geekwire

The Square In-App Payments Kit will work with iOS and Android devices as well as the Flutter cross-platform mobile development system. Developers using the new services will be able allow customers to use Apple Pay or Google Pay as well as regular old credit cards within their own mobile apps, and connect that data to purchases made in their brick-and-mortar stores or on the web.

So You Automated Your Coworkers Out Of A Job, by Brian Merchant, Gizmodo

Automation is too often presented as a faceless, monolithic phenomenon—but it’s a human finger that ultimately pulls the trigger. Someone has to initiate the process that automates a task or mechanizes a production line. To write or procure the program that makes a department or a job redundant. And that’s not always an executive, or upper-, or even middle management—in fact, it’s very often not. Sometimes it’s a junior employee, or a developer, even an intern.

Bottom of the Page

I hope Apple doesn't just get its service businesses onto big players like Samsung, Amazon and Google, but also work with smaller players and startups. One will never know what kind of wild and crazy ideas will be the next big cash cow for Apple.

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Thanks for reading.

The Smart-Home-Space Edition Wednesday, January 9, 2019

HomeKit Was A Surprise Winner Of CES 2019. Now Siri Needs To Get A Whole Lot Better, by Michael Simon, Macworld

While Google Assistant and Alexa controlled their fair share of the CES spotlight, they did little to overshadow Siri. In fact, Apple’s HomeKit was one of the surprise winners of this year’s show, as Sony, LG, GE, Vizio, Belkin, Arlo, Ikea, TP-Link and several others all rolled out products and updates featuring HomeKit integration, an abrupt turnaround from previous shows that all but ignored the iPhone maker’s smart home ambitions.

It’s safe to say that Apple can officially count itself as a major player in the smart home space. When the new HomeKit-enabled products start hitting the market later this year, consumers won’t need to buy specific HomeKit-enabled hardware, an earlier requirement that inhibited Apple’s smart home growth. With a few exceptions, customers will soon have the option to use one of three AI assistants each time they make a request to control something in their home, and that means one thing: Siri needs to seriously step its game.

Apple's Wearables Revenue Is Already Exceeding Peak iPod Sales, Tim Cook Says, by Elizabeth Gurdus, CNBC

"On a trailing basis, ... the revenue for wearables is already 50 percent more than iPod was at its peak," Cook told CNBC in an interview with "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer.

He added that the Watch and the AirPods have each generated between four and six times more in sales than the iPod had generated in the same amount of time since its launch.

Tim Cook To Apple Naysayers: 'The Ecosystem Has Never Been Stronger', by Elizabeth Gurdus, CNBC

"I'm never surprised by the market, to be honest with you, because I think the market is quite emotional in the short term," Cook said when asked about Wall Street's reaction to the news. "We sort of look through all of that. We think about the long term. And so when I look at the long-term health of the company, it has never been better. The product pipeline has never been better. The ecosystem has never been stronger. The services are on a tear."

Apple Reports

AAPL Proxy Statement Tidbits: How Much Each Executive Earned In 2018, The Costs Of Flying Private, More, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Apple says that its median employee compensation for 2018 was $55,426. The ratio of Cook’s income to the median income is 283 to 1.

Apple To Hold Annual Shareholders Meeting On March 1st At Steve Jobs Theater, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Filed with the SEC, the document confirms that Apple will hold its annual meeting of shareholders on March 1st, 2019 at Steve Jobs Theater.

Stuff

The Best App For Taking Handwritten Notes On An iPad, by Drew Coffman, The Sweet Setup

It’s clear that with the right combination of app and Pencil, the iPad is now an exceptional note-taking tool for those who prefer to write by hand. There are several apps that are more than up to the task, but we think Notability is the best possible app for most people and their workflows.

Earthquake Warning App ShakeAlertLA Debuts In Los Angeles, by Amanda Kolson Hurley, Wired

The new app depends on hundreds of sensors that collect data around geologic faults. When the sensors detect strong enough seismic activity, a notification is pushed out to users’ phones. The farther that app users are from the quake’s epicenter, the more advance warning they are likely to receive. Those very close to the epicenter may not be alerted until the shaking has already begun.

Develop

There Is A Free Lunch, After All. It’s At The Office., by Priya Krishna, New York Times

What was once an extra is now a necessity, as companies give their employees free ice cream and beer, Pop-Tarts and prime rib — often with an agenda attached.

Notes

Disruption For Thee, But Not For Me, by Cory Doctorow, Locus

Every single one of these co-ops would disrupt a digital monopolist who came to power preaching the gospel of disruption. Every single one of those digital monopolists would switch to the aggrieved bleats of a bewildered incumbent apex predator snarling and twisted impotently as its flesh was rent by a thousand tiny bites from swarms of fast-moving, highly evolved successors.

But we never get to bring those lumbering relics down, not so long as felony contempt-of-business-model is still in play in America. Until then, disruption will always be for thee and never for me.

I Gave A Bounty Hunter $300. Then He Located Our Phone, by Joseph Cox, Motherboard

Your mobile phone is constantly communicating with nearby cell phone towers, so your telecom provider knows where to route calls and texts. From this, telecom companies also work out the phone’s approximate location based on its proximity to those towers.

Although many users may be unaware of the practice, telecom companies in the United States sell access to their customers’ location data to other companies, called location aggregators, who then sell it to specific clients and industries. Last year, one location aggregator called LocationSmart faced harsh criticism for selling data that ultimately ended up in the hands of Securus, a company which provided phone tracking to low level enforcement without requiring a warrant. LocationSmart also exposed the very data it was selling through a buggy website panel, meaning anyone could geolocate nearly any phone in the United States at a click of a mouse.

Bottom of the Page

Okay, after attending an exhibition on minimalism, I find that I still don't quite enjoy this art movement.

Somehow, I'm not able to feel anything.

~

It might just be me, though.

~

Thanks for reading.

The AirPlay-to-Android Edition Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Sony Is Adding Apple’s AirPlay 2 And HomeKit To Its Android TVs, by Chris Welch, The Verge

In yet another surprise amid Apple’s sudden expansion of AirPlay 2 across popular TV brands here at CES, Sony has announced that it will add support for the feature to its own televisions. Here’s the really interesting bit: in case you’re unaware, Sony TVs run Android TV software. Hence, Android TV is soon going to be capable of playing content — music, movies, screen mirroring, and more — via AirPlay 2.

Apple’s Trillion Dollar Market Cap Was Always A False Idol, by Ron Miller, TechCrunch

Whatever the future holds for Apple and other tech stocks, we clearly like to throw around large numbers. Yet companies don’t tend to live and die by their market cap. It’s not a metric that matters all that much to anyone, except those of us who like to marvel at the size of the biggest numbers, and then click our tongues when they inevitably fall to earth.

Stuff

Apple Music Lyric Availability Expands To Additional Countries, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

Lyric availability has expanded to Germany, Ireland, South Africa, Spain, Mexico, New Zealand, and France, letting customers in these countries view song lyrics and search for songs using lyrics.

HomePass, The App For Managing HomeKit Setup Codes, Adds Apple Watch Support, PDF Export, More, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

HomePass is useful for keeping track of your various HomeKit setup codes, something that Apple doesn’t yet offer through its own Home app. The key change in today’s HomePass update is support for generating 100% scannable text and QR codes.

Develop

Using The iPad Pro As My Development Machine, by Fatih Arslan

First I’ll share my experiences using it as a development machine, scripts I’m using and my whole workstation setup. Afterwards I’ll share and review the various bits of using an iPad Pro (photo and file management, keyboard, pencil, apps, accessories, etc.)

Using The iPad Pro As My Main Computer, by Jon Hicks

It’s been said many times before, that the iPad Pro’s limitations are set by iOS, rather than the hardware, so it’s all fixable by Apple. In my opinion, it wouldn’t take much for the iPad to truly replace my Macbook.

It feels like we’re this close to the tipping point.

Notes

How Pizza Could Save The World, by Don Norman and Eli Spencer, Fast Company

Pizza? How is that relevant? Two ways. First, pizza can be thought of as an open-source platform. An Italian creation, it is now found all over the world, in all incarnations, tailored to local tastes and cultures, yet all recognizable as pizza. Second, it bridges the gap we were pondering, for pizza can be made by local artisans serving local customers, as well as by large, international corporations that serve mass markets. In other words, “Pizza as a Platform” provides a powerful metaphor to describe how we hope to address some of the world’s most intractable problems.

The Leading-Manufacturers Edition Monday, January 7, 2019

Apple Updates AirPlay 2 Page With Upcoming TV Features Including Siri Control, by John Voorhees, MacStories

Samsung may have been the first to announce support for AirPlay 2, but Apple's webpage indicates that the feature is coming to 'leading manufacturers,' so expect more announcements at CES and beyond. In addition to using AirPlay 2 to send video from an iOS device or Mac to a compatible TV, consumers will be able to play music on their TVs and sync it with other AirPlay 2-compatible devices in their homes.

Samsung Announces iTunes Movies And TV Shows App And AirPlay 2 Support For Its Smart TVs, by John Voorhees, MacStories

In a first among TV manufacturers, Samsung has announced that its 2019 TVs will ship with an iTunes Movies and TV Shows app in over 100 countries as well as AirPlay 2 support in 190 countries. 2018 models will receive the same support via a firmware update.

Five Big Questions About Apple Putting iTunes On Samsung TVs, by Nilay Patel, The Verge

Is Apple going to allow Samsung’s smart TV tracking to snoop on iTunes viewers? Smart TVs are notorious for tracking what people watch, but Apple’s entire brand is privacy. What usage data will Samsung see from the iTunes app?

Vizio Announces AirPlay 2 And HomeKit Support Coming To SmartCast-enabled TVs This Year, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

The trend of TV manufacturers integrating AirPlay 2 continues today at CES 2019. Vizio has announced that it is adding AirPlay 2 and HomeKit integration to its existing SmartCast TV platform.

Nothing Structurally Different

Apple’s Errors, by Ben Thompson, Stratechery

The good news for Apple is that, to the extent these errors really were predictable, there is nothing structurally different about the company’s competitive position today versus six months ago, when the current stock slide began.

[...]

Meanwhile, the company’s Services business continues to grow, along with its installed base (including in China); the company is clearly putting more strategic emphasis in this area, effectively abandoning also-ran hardware products like HomePod and Apple TV to increase the reach of its services. I would expect significant announcements in this area through 2019.

Smarts

Apple Shows Off New Smart Home Products From HomeKit Partners, by Anthony Ha, TechCrunch

Apple recently invited reporters to meet a handful of companies announcing new products at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show. The common theme: All of these products connect to Apple’s HomeKit platform for smart home devices.

By integrating with HomeKit, these companies make their products configurable and controllable via Apple devices, specifically through the Home app and Siri.

Virtual Assistants Have Hit A Wall—and It’ll Be Years Before They Reach Full Potential, by David Pierce, Wall Street Journal

Apple says it has been conservative about proactively pushing out notifications so far, because unhelpful prompts would be annoying, but the company is getting confident enough in Siri’s abilities to pester helpfully. The closest thing to the future we were promised is the moment Siri pops a notification onto your lock screen asking if you want to dial in to your next meeting.

These small steps in the right direction are where tech companies should focus their efforts. For years, the CES halls have been filled with gadgets that simply took a thing and gave it an internet connection. But the smart-home future is about making all those things work in harmony. And that future shouldn’t include programming them yourself.

Stuff

If macOS's Migration Assistant Fails, Here Are Other Ways To Move Accounts, by Glenn Fleishman, Macworld

Both computers gave errors at the end of multi-hour migrations, though one pair of computers appeared to have fully transferred data. The other pair did not; it seemed to have transferred apps and system preferences, but left out the main user. This may have been due to that user having parental controls set, though Migration Assistant doesn’t warn of that being a problem, nor is there a mention in any support notes from Apple.

In my experience with Migration Assistant over the years, this kind of inexplicable problem has become ever rarer. I tried three different methods to shift that user directory over, and only the third (and very technical one) worked.

Develop

What I Learned Working 32 Hours A Week For 2 Months, by Alex Zurek, Atomic Object

With a four-day work week schedule, I felt the need to develop a plan for each day that I was going to be in the office. My time at work had a new purpose that centered around improving the value I was delivering to my project and my team. Being aware of the value you deliver with your time is important, especially at a consultancy where we invoice clients based on our time.

Notes

Apple Reportedly ‘In Discussions’ To Support RCS, The iMessage-like Successor To SMS, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

According to the purported slide from the conference, Apple has “engaged in discussions with the GSMA and Operators about including RCS in iOS.” This is inherently vague and doesn’t offer too many details about the extent to which Apple is involved.

Apple’s Increasingly Tricky International Trade-offs, by Natasha Lomas, TechCrunch

The old Apple ‘one-sized fits all’ philosophy is already very outdated for some users and risks being caught flat-footed on a growing number of fronts — be that if your measure is software ‘innovation’ or a principled position on privacy.

An arbitrary limit on the choice of search engine your users can pick seems a telling example. Why not offer iOS users a free choice?

Or are Google’s billions really standing in the way of that?

Before Electric Cars Takes Over, Someone Needs To Reinvent The Battery, by David Stringer, Bloomberg

To deliver an electric vehicle that’s cheaper, safer and capable of traveling 500 miles on a single charge, the auto industry needs a breakthrough in battery technology. Easier said than done.

Scientists in Japan, China and the U.S. are among those struggling to crack the code of how to significantly boost the amount of energy a battery cell can store and bring an EV's driving range into line with a full tank of gas. That quest has zeroed in on solid-state technology, an overhaul of a battery's internal architecture to use solid materials instead of flammable liquids to enable charging and discharging. The technology promises major improvements on existing lithium-ion packs, which automakers say are hitting the limits of their storage capabilities and may never hold enough power for long-distance models.

Bottom of the Page

Just looking at the screenshot provided by Samsung, is Apple really going to continue using the name 'iTunes'? Or rather, 'iTunes Movies and TV Shows'. This new deal has to include the new streaming video service, right? And Apple can't be using the 'iTunes Movies and TV Shows' name, right?

Or Is this just a placeholder name?

~

Thanks for reading.

The Clarity-of-Intention Edition Sunday, January 6, 2019

'I Love My Mac!', by Zoë Smith

I’ve been a Mac user since the IIsi. I know those features above inside-out, know which have been there since Classic days, which have just arrived, and yes, which can be flaky on occasion. But to see it through a new Mac user’s eyes is to see a vast enormity of mistakes not made. It is to perceive a clarity of intention through design, maintained over decades of updates.

Dancing Between Realism and Optimism

Apple And The Art Of Guidance,by John D. Stoll, Wall Street Journal

Mr. Cook is the first executive to face the firing squad this year, but he won’t stand alone. CEOs and their finance chiefs are in a tight spot as they start reporting the most recent quarter’s financial data this month. For a few years, they’ve been cheerleading for the economy, arguing that employment, spending, tax cuts and underlying fundamentals indicate all is well. When they didn’t have an answer ready for a tough question, they would point to economic or political uncertainty.

The art of guidance is always a delicate dance between realism and optimism, but a misstep in these febrile times can lead to a fall. Anything cautious that a CEO or CFO says about consumer demand, supply chains, inventory or credit conditions could be read as proof the sky is falling.

It's Time For Apple To Stop Playing It Safe,by Jonathon Trugman, New York Post

China is in a slowdown. Like Americans, the Chinese have probably cut back on their unnecessary purchases — like the newest iteration of the iPhone.

It’s time for Apple to lose the stifling “stay safe and count our money” posture.

It needs rebellious, creative genius to succeed going forward.

Why There’s Still Plenty Of Value In Apple’s Core, by Tae Kim, Barron's

Another mediocre product cycle doesn’t change Apple’s attributes: a bulletproof balance sheet, a stellar brand, a loyal customer base, and a sticky ecosystem of software and services. iPhone users are still likely to upgrade to another iOS device due to its high levels of customer satisfaction.

What Does Warren Buffett Think Of Apple's Plunge?, by Natalie Walters, The Motley Fool

“For example, when Buffett was interviewed on CNBC in May 2018, he seemed to shake his head at the stress the iPhone shipment reports caused investors. He said that obsessing over the exact number of iPhones sold in a three-month period isn't a reliable way to measure Apple's performance. People who focus on iPhone shipments are missing the point of the company, according to Buffett.”

[...]

“Considering that this interview happened less than a year ago, it seems logical that Buffett would give the same advice this week: Don't focus all your attention on Apple's ever-changing iPhone shipments. He wants investors to be thinking of Apple's long-term potential with its "sticky" products and its other revenue streams like its cloud business and App Store sales.”

Security Matters

Security Researchers Find Over A Dozen iPhone Apps Linked To Golduck Malware, by Zack Whittaker, TechCrunch

Wandera, an enterprise security firm, said it found 14 apps — all retro-style games — that were communicating with the same command and control server used by the Golduck malware.

[...]

As of now, the researchers say that the apps are packed with ads — likely as a way to make a quick buck. But they expressed concern that the communication between the app and the known-to-be-malicious server could open up the app — and the device — to malicious commands down the line.

Develop

Getting Beyond The BS Of Leadership Literature, by Jeffrey Pfeffer, McKinsey

“The focus on leadership should be about useful behavior rather than overly simplistic, and therefore fundamentally inaccurate, categorizations of people and personalities. Not surprisingly, the materials I find most useful for teaching leadership accurately describe the types of behavior, and the underlying social-science evidence and principles, that are needed to get things done in complex, interdependent systems in which people pursue multiple, often conflicting, agendas. Here are lessons drawn from what, in my view, are the best books on leadership.”

Bottom of the Page

Little things I enjoy on macOS:

1) Both "Hide Current App" and "Hide Others" menu items and their two easy-to-remember keyboard shortcuts.
2) Understandable (potentially) folder and file names everywhere.
3) Usable trackpad.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Outside-of-Range Edition Saturday, January 5, 2019

Apple Details 2018 iPad Pro Enclosure Manufacturing Process, Reiterates 400 Micron Bend Tolerances, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

Apple has posted a new support article that gives some insight into how the 2018 iPad Pro is manufactured, clearly as a follow up to the reports of customers receiving bent iPad units in the runup to Christmas.

It says slight bends may be more visible to the eye due to the new straight edge design, and reiterates that Apple specifies 400 micron flatness tolerances — and anything outside of that range should qualify for warranty repair/replacement.

Two Apple Products

Things I Love About Apple Watch, by Erica Sadun

This may sound absolutely ridiculous, but I no longer have to dig out that same self-hiding phone to look at the time. I can now glance at my wrist and the time is right there. Yes, I am the only person alive who is surprised and astonished that a watch tells you what time it is or that might be a reason for its purchase. This probably explains a lot about me.

When I put the Mickey face on the watch, I can even touch the watch without looking and hear the time. I wish that feature was available on other faces and without the creepy pedo-vibe that Mickey gives. I’ve sort of given up on Mickey because 1. pedo and 2. not enough complications (the add-ons that let you stick mini-app widgets onto the main display, kind of the “Apple Watch Dock” metaphorically) and switched to the Infographic display instead. But I love the “tap to hear the time” feature, even if I don’t use it very much.

Apple’s Beddit 3.5 Sleep Tracker In-Depth Review, by DC Rainmaker

Without question, this is the most disappointing Apple product I’ve ever bought. Given I buy an excessive amount of Apple gear each year, this was actually completely unexpected for me.

And it’s not because it doesn’t do what it says. It actually sorta does that.

Rather, it’s because they took away almost all useful features from previous versions, and made the product as close to pointless as you can get. For a product that’s supposed to be all about data – they’ve neutered it and made it more gimmicky than a cereal box activity tracker. And all at twice the price of their nearest competitor.

Services!

Apple Just Bought A Company That Acts Like A Record Label. Why?, by Tim Ingham, Rolling Stone

Apple, then, now owns a company in Platoon that can offer every function of a record label – most crucially modern recording facilities – and which holds a sterling industry reputation for spotting new talent.

So, is Platoon the key to unlock Apple’s long-discussed potential as a music rights-owner – perhaps supplying Apple Music with its own, exclusive recordings? It’s complicated.

The App-store War Between Netflix And Apple Is Heating Up, by Brian Fung, Washington Post

The shift by Spotify — and then Netflix and Epic — underscores the growing dominance of those firms in their own right. Netflix’s position as the world’s biggest provider of streaming video gives it the power to snub Apple’s platform without sacrificing its visibility to potential customers. But a small-time developer with weaker brand recognition benefits greatly from being on Apple and Google’s platforms, which can help customers discover new apps through promotion and marketing, said Doug Creutz, a game industry analyst at Cowen & Co.

“[Netflix and Epic] are two of the biggest entertainment products on the planet. They don’t need the app store to help them sell their products,” Creutz said. “Most software developers don’t have that luxury. Most of them need the placement the app store provides.”

Comfort, Rather Than A Burden

Apple’s Biggest Problem? My Mom, by Kevin Roose, New York Times

But for now, while investors might be unhappy with the company’s short-term sales, the rest of us should cheer it as a sign of progress in giving customers what they want: sturdy, reliable phones that don’t become obsolete as soon as a new model arrives.

When I asked my mom what would get her to upgrade to a newer iPhone, she said she might do it if a new, killer feature came along, or if her favorite apps no longer worked. But in the end, she admitted that wasn’t likely.

“Until I drop it and break it, I’ll probably keep it,” she said.

Embracing Apple's Boring Future, by Ian Bogost, The Atlantic

As trade war looms and the stocks enter what looks like the end of the longest bull market in history, maybe the American economy—and the soul of its people—don’t really need another gizmo like the iPhone, around which their lives might be redesigned anew. Maybe they just need the lives they have, contorted though they’ve been by the smartphone, to enjoy responsible, long-term support and maintenance. The iPhone is here to stay. Imagine if Apple could make that state of affairs feel like a comfort, rather than a burden.

A Little Hard to Pronounce

In Price And Value, Chinese Phone Makers Outpace Apple In Much Of The World, by Raymond Zhong, New York Times

To most Americans, the names are unfamiliar, maybe a little hard to pronounce: Huawei, Xiaomi, Oppo, Vivo.

They are China’s biggest smartphone brands. Around the world — although not in the United States — they are making the handset business brutally competitive. This week, after Apple warned of disappointing iPhone sales in China, industry observers said that devices from the Chinese brands were a major culprit.

Apple Beware: Samsung’s Great Fall In China Was Swift, by Timothy W. Martin, Wall Street Journal

“If patriotism cooks up, who knows what could happen?” said Tom Kang, an analyst at Counterpoint Research.

Stuff

Pandora Beats Spotify To Offline Playback On The Apple Watch, by Chris Welch, The Verge

From your wrist, you’ll be able to control playback or give a thumbs up to whatever song is currently playing on Pandora. But even better is that Pandora’s Apple Watch app includes offline playback, so you can leave your phone at home and listen to a playlist while on a run.

Robin Telecom Claims To Offer The First HomeKit Enabled Doorbell With Its ProLine Doorbell, by Michael Potuck, 9to5Mac

The company’s ProLine Doorbell also includes features like an all aluminum design, 130° field of view, HD video, and more.

Microsoft Rolls Out Files On-Demand For Mac To OneDrive For Business Users, by Malcolm Owen, AppleInsider

The OneDrive storage appears as an APFS-formatted volume in macOS Mojave, as if they are kept locally, but in fact users see placeholder versions of files that take minimal space on the Mac. On needing to access a file, OneDrive downloads it to the Mac and replaces the placeholder.

Develop

Web Development On An iPad, by Eric L. Barnes, Laravel News

I know everybody works on different things and has different preferences so this setup isn’t for everyone. Before this iPad, I was working on a 12″ MacBook so I’m used to small screens and I enjoy running apps at full screen. So making the switch was pretty easy for me. The only thing I’m missing is a console and web inspector.

Notes

GarageBand Turns 15, by Stephen Hackett, 512 Pixels

In 2003, iLife was a huge selling point for the Mac. It made managing photos, making movies and burning DVDs all easy (and even fun!) for users who found more pro-focused apps difficult to approach.

At Macworld 2004 — 15 years ago this weekend — Steve Jobs introduced GarageBand.

Ahead Of CES, Apple Puts Up Billboard Touting Privacy In Las Vegas, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

What happens on your iPhone, stays on your iPhone," reads the sign, which is located near the Las Vegas Convention Center and many prominent Las Vegas hotels.

Bottom of the Page

I'll never have the time to read all the books I want to read, watch all the shows I want to watch, learn all the things I want to learn. And I accept that.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Seek-Growth-Elsewhere Edition Friday, January 4, 2019

The Ride Is Over: Apple Faces The End Of The iPhone Boom, by Jason Snell, Tom's Guide

The writing has been on the wall for some time. Back in January 2016, Apple began calling out the growth of its services revenue line every time it talked about financial results. The message to Wall Street was clear: There's a new growth area for Apple, and it's selling services like iCloud and Apple Music to Apple's existing ecosystem. It was Apple's admission that it was seeking growth elsewhere. The iPhone stalling out isn't a surprise.

Apple's Precarious And Pivotal 2019, by M.G. Siegler, 500ish Words

The transition from the iPhone company to a Services company is now officially underway. It is clearly happening earlier than Apple had planned. How will Apple adapt to this new era?

Services!

App Store Hits New Single-Day Revenue Record On New Year's Day With Customers Spending $322 Million, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

Gaming and self-care were the most popular app downloads and purchases during the holidays. Fortnite and PUBG were some of the most downloaded games over the holiday period, along with Brawl Stars, Asphalt 9, and Monster Strike.

‘King Troll’ Ebro Darden On The Future Of Apple Music And Terrestrial Radio, by Shawn Setaro, Complex

Streaming services are doing a lot of things right, which is why people are excited about them. Refining that, just like any great consumer interface does through its lifespan, is how you stay relevant. That’s why we have the human capabilities that we have at Apple Music. It helps us have living, breathing people interfacing with the consumers so that we stay relevant. We have the data, we have the behavior, we have the consumer, we have the humans curating shows, pulling that all into one place. Being able to evolve in real time with the audience as much as you can is how you stay relevant.

Hardware Margins

Young Beijing Shoppers’ Appetite For Latest iPhones Wanes, by Yuan Yang, Financial Times

Apple’s smartphones used to be a status symbol, an exclusive and foreign luxury item. But domestic competitors, especially Huawei, now appear to have caught up — not just on technological innovations such as dual Sim cards and edge-to-edge screens, but also in terms of prestige.

“Apple is no longer a luxury symbol in China,” said Cheng Yu, a 22-year-old undergraduate who has been using iPhones for over eight years, but who now plans to use a top-range Huawei as well as her current iPhone.

Regarding Apple’s Gross Margins, by John Gruber, Daring Fireball

So if high-margin services revenue is growing but overall company gross margins are stable at 38 percent, that means their margins on hardware products like iPhone are actually shrinking.

Security Matters

How WindTail And Other Malware Bypass macOS Gatekeeper Settings, by Philip Stokes, Security Boulevard

Relatively speaking, Gatekeeper does indeed make downloading apps from the internet safer than not having Gatekeeper at all. Likewise, Developer IDs do indeed allow some malware to be blocked. But that is not at all the same as blocking all, or even most, malware.

Most importantly, however, note that this message does not say that Gatekeeper blocks apps that are not signed, and nor does it say that Gatekeeper’s settings ensure only apps downloaded from the App Store or signed with a Developer ID can run on the Mac. Those claims, though widely believed, are not in fact made by Apple anywhere, and for good reason: they would in fact be false.

Stuff

Apple Launches Chinese New Year Gift Guide Including ‘New Year Special Edition’ Beats Solo3, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Apple has released a new pair of Beats Solo3 wireless headphones in commemoration of the new year. These headphones come in “silver wing grey” and are touted as “New Year Special Edition” and seem to be exclusive to China.

Apple's Back To School Promotion Offers Beats To Students In Australia, Brazil, New Zealand And South Korea, by AppleInsider

Like last year's U.S. promotion, Apple's international back to school program offers a pair of Beats headphones with eligible Mac or iPad Pro purchases made through the company's regional education stores.

Procrastinate? iPhone Apps And Tips For Procrastination, by Matthew Byrd, The App Factor

Smartphones are capable of many, many things, but it just so happens that one of those things is instilling a strong desire to procrastinate. While some people are better at managing that desire, there are still just too many distractions on most iPhones. It’s hard to resist the urge to procrastinate and get back to work.

Thankfully, your iPhone doesn’t have to be your enemy. With the right apps by your side, it’s possible for your device to actually help you stop procrastinating. It’s not always easy, but the good news is that these apps and tips will make it significantly easier. At worse, they’re just useful to have around.

Smartphone Apps To Diagnose Depression Based On Activity, by News.com.au

The idea has sparked a race to develop apps that warn of impending mental health crises. Call it smartphone psychiatry or child psychology 2.0. Studies have linked heavy smartphone use with worsening teen mental health. But as teens scroll through Instagram and Snapchat, tap out texts or watch YouTube videos, they also leave digital footprints that might offer clues to their psychological wellbeing.

Changes in typing speed, voice tone, word choice and how often kids stay home could signal trouble, according to preliminary studies.

Relieve RSI Pain With This Armrest Mouse Pad, by Josh Centers, TidBITS

The soft, black mouse pad gel material on both ends makes the armrest more comfortable than a DIY solution would likely be. I’ve also been pleased with the included wrist rest, which has just the right amount of give and a nice, smooth texture.

Evernote's New CEO Says The App Sucks But He Can Fix It, by Anthony Caruana, Gizmodo

Evernote was, for a long time, a great app for capturing notes, saving images and clipping webpages. For students, researchers, writers and others focussed on the capture of random bits of information, it was the leader in pulling tougher disparate bits of information. But somewhere along the line, the company lost focus and the releases on different platforms started to diverge. The Windows version became less feature rich than the Mac version, a touch version for newer Windows devices came and went, the mobile versions became pared down versions rather than mobile views of the full app and users reported lots of syncing issues. The company's new CEO acknowledges that things aren't going well and vows to address the issues.

Develop

Age Against The Machine: The Secret To Enjoying A Long Life, by Stephen Moss, The Guardian

The conclusion Honoré came to, after three years of research and an examination of the way older people are treated around the world, was that it was in many ways a golden age for “the old” (a term he would never use): there were more of them, they were healthier, more active and many were better off than in previous generations. They could no longer be ignored or marginalised. But, in his view, that is just a beginning. “It can be so much better,” he says, “if we move a lot of goalposts and change the way everything from healthcare to politics to the business world to education is organised.” He argues that the idea of being educated between the ages of five and 21, working for 40 years and then retiring on a pension at 60 is completely out of date, imagining a much more fluid way of life where we dip in and out of education and the job market and never formally “retire”.

Notes

On Netflix Pulling Out Of iTunes Billing For New Users, by John Gruber, Daring Fireball

If Apple wants to insist on a cut of in-app purchased subscription revenue, that’s their prerogative. What gets me, though, are the rules that prevent apps that eschew in-app purchases from telling users in plain language how to actually pay.

The One Dumb Feature I Wish Apple And Google Would Add To Their Phones, by Mark Wilson, Fast Company

What would dumbphone mode do? Simple. It would turn your smartphone into a device for calls and texts. That’s it. Other apps would simply disappear from your screen so as not to tempt you to tap. And all that spyable data lurking deep in the OS–like GPS tracking–would be deactivated. As a result, you’d get the full dumphone experience without carrying another phone around.

Apple Pulls iPhone 7 And iPhone 8 Models From Sale In Germany Amid Legal Battle With Qualcomm, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

Those four iPhone models are no longer available to order via Apple.com in Germany and they have also been pulled from sale at all 15 of Apple's retail stores in the country until further notice. The latest iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR models are not impacted by the verdict and remain available.

Apple Told To Pull iPhones From Germany, by BBC

The two companies disagree on whether the injunction also covers the sale of iPhones in mobile phone operator shops and other third party retailers.

The iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max and iPhone XR models will still be available at Apple stores in the country.

Bottom of the Page

I think it is okay for Apple that the iPhone is no longer viewed as a luxury status symbol in China. Apple does not know how to do a luxury product. (Witness the first Apple Watch Edition.) Hopefully, Apple should now have a better idea how much each of the iPhone's feature are valued by customers, and be better informed what phone it should be making.

~

If you think selling the same iPhone around the world is difficult, trying selling the same services around the world.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Lower-than-Original Edition Thursday, January 3, 2019

Letter From Tim Cook To Apple Investors, by Apple

Based on these estimates, our revenue will be lower than our original guidance for the quarter, with other items remaining broadly in line with our guidance.

[...]

Lower than anticipated iPhone revenue, primarily in Greater China, accounts for all of our revenue shortfall to our guidance and for much more than our entire year-over-year revenue decline. [...] While macroeconomic challenges in some markets were a key contributor to this trend, we believe there are other factors broadly impacting our iPhone performance, including consumers adapting to a world with fewer carrier subsidies, US dollar strength-related price increases, and some customers taking advantage of significantly reduced pricing for iPhone battery replacements.

Here's Tim Cook's Memo To Employees About iPhone Sales Slowdown, by Mark Gurman, Bloomberg

In a memo obtained by Bloomberg News, Cook expressed his disappointment after Apple cut its revenue outlook for the first time in almost two decades. That arose from “a number of factors — some macroeconomic, and some specific to Apple and the smartphone industry.” But the CEO added that the company would set record revenues for its services, wearables and Mac businesses.

Apple Lowers Guidance On Q1 Results, Cites China Trade Tensions, by Brian Heater, TechCrunch

“While China may have played a big role in the revenue miss the reality is nearly all smartphone markets are seeing a lengthening in replacement cycles and we should expect this to be the new normal,” Ben Bajarin of Creative Strategies, tells TechCrunch. “While price is what is being mentioned, I believe there would have still been softer iPhone sales even if prices were not raised due to consumers being content with their current phones and not as interested in the premium features coming out in the latest models.”

[...]

Analyst Patrick Moorhead says the downturn is neither unexpected, nor a reason for investors to panic. “The company is growing its services and ‘other’ categories, just not enough to drive overall revenue growth,” he told TechCrunch. “I am not concerned for the company, but it’s likely investors will not see the company value it was at until it can see a likely path to double-digit revenue growth.”

The Big Picture

The Silver Lining In Apple’s Very Bad iPhone News, by Brian Barrett, Wired

An iPhone that lasts longer keeps customers in the iOS ecosystem longer. That becomes even more important as the company places greater emphasis not on hardware, but on services like Apple Music. It also offers an important point of differentiation from Android, whose fragmented ecosystem means even flagship devices rarely get fully supported beyond two years.

“In reality, the big picture is still very good for Apple,” says BayStreet’s Maldonado. Compared with Android, “Apple’s in a better spot, because the phones last longer.”

Steve Jobs And Apple’s Last Previous Earnings Warning, by John Gruber, Daring Fireball

What people took away from Cook’s letter and TV appearance today is that the iPhone laid a turd last quarter. Properly delivered, the takeaway should have been that China is crazy but the iPhone is still kicking the shit out of the entire rest of the handset industry and is only pulling further ahead.

The $1,000 Barrier

Sorry That I Took So Long To Upgrade, Apple, by Ron Miller, TechCrunch

So, sorry Apple, but it appears that there is a tipping point when it comes to the cost of a new phone. As essential as these devices have become in our lives, it’s just too hard for many consumers around the world to justify spending more than $1000 for a new phone, and you just have to realize that.

Apple Dramatically Reduces Guidance: What You Need To Know, by Evan Niu, Motley Fool

Apple also strangely says that consumers are still "adapting to a world with fewer carrier subsidies," even as the industry started shifting away from the subsidy model many years ago. Implicitly, that also suggests that iPhone price increases have expectedly hurt demand, while lofty prices ironically exacerbate the problem of slowing upgrade cycles.

On top of all of that, Apple has been forced to raise prices even higher in some international markets due to the U.S. dollar strengthening against local currencies.

Apple Cuts Q1 2019 Earnings Estimates, Blames Everyone But Itself, by Jason Cross, Macworld

If Apple’s excuses are indeed true—that economic forces beyond its control led to unusually low sales—then it is going to have to develop a product line that is more resilient to these factors in the future. That means more new products at a range of prices, including brand new iPhones that start at prices lower than a whopping $749 and new Mac laptops that get back below the $1,000 barrier.

Juice iPhone Sales

Apple's Cook Faces Toughest Test Yet Navigating iPhone Slowdown, by Mark Gurman, Bloomberg

“It’s a two-fold challenge: they need to prove that this is a blip, not a trend,” Gartenberg said. “We’ll see a lot of efforts from Apple from marketing and PR to show that. For Tim, the other part is: How does Apple juice iPhone sales?”

Gartenberg said Apple may try to highlight its other products and reduce the attention on the iPhone “since the next major model isn’t expected until September. We’ll see Apple try to position the iPhone as more affordable.”

Tim Cook To Investors: People Bought Fewer New iPhones Because They Repaired Their Old Ones, by Jason Koebler, Motherboard

Right to repair advocates have long argued that Apple customers would be able to get a lot more out of their devices if Apple gave them the ability to repair them, but say the company doesn't want to do that because it will hurt its bottom line. Here is evidence that they might be right.

Here We Are

Tim Cook Denies That There's An Apple Boycott In China, by Tal Axelrod, The Hill

“Well, certainly apple has not been targeted by the government so let me take away any kind of doubt of that right up top. There are reports, sort of sporadic reports, about somebody talking about not buying our products because we’re American, maybe a little bit on social media, maybe a guy standing in front of a store or something. My personal sense is that this is small,” Cook said on CNBC.

“Keep in mind that China’s not monolithic. Just like America’s not monolithic. You have people with different views and different ideas. And so do I think anybody elected not to buy because of that? I’m sure some people did. But my sense is the much larger issue is the slowing of the economy and then this -- the trade tension that’s further pressured,” he added.

Is Apple Making China A Scapegoat?, by Virginia Harrison, BBC

"Post iPhone 8, the technology advances begun to plateau thus consumers' incentive to purchase a new iPhone has declined," Taipei-based technology analyst Sam Reynolds said.

He said Apple's surprise revenue warning is "simply a sign of the times for Apple".

Apple’s China Problem, by John Gruber, Daring Fireaball

By Thompson’s logic the iPhone X should have done well in China, because it looked new, and the XS/XR would disappoint in China because they didn’t. And, well, here we are.

Is Already Bad

Five Ways To Look At Apple’s Surprise Bad News, by Alexis C. Madrigal, The Atlantic

And here we are in early 2019 and it’s clear that the Chinese economic slowdown is already bad. Today’s news makes it clear that the slowdown might be very bad, and worsening at a pace that took even Apple by complete surprise.

The other Asian economies are already seeing the damage. And that’s before the trade war tariffs snap into place come March

Apple’s Glum China News Sends Global Stocks Lower, by Carlos Tejada, New York Times

Markets across Asia fell slightly but broadly on Thursday, as investors shed technology stocks in particular following the iPhone maker’s announcement to shareholders on Wednesday that its smartphone sales in China had been disappointing. European markets opened lower as well.

And Now For Something Completely Different

Leave The Phone At Home And Put News On Your Wrist, by Frank Chimero, Nieman Lab

Tiny screens, small snatches of time, clear endpoints, limited engagement, information-dense, and obvious pathways for more context. If the watch can become people’s primary device, it may provide the opportunity to switch the media paradigm from an endless stream to a concentrated dispatch.

New Apple Pencil Sandpapered To Look And Feel Like A Real Pencil, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

A variety of skins are available for customizing the design of the Apple Pencil, but Reddit user Cedric Chase decided to take the do-it-yourself route with some sandpaper, synthetic fabric dye, and paint, transforming his second-generation Apple Pencil into one that closely resembles a No. 2 graphite pencil.

Why Do Film People Care So Much About Frame Rates?, by Mike Pearl, The Outline

But according to YouTuber John Hess, a guru of movie frame rates, 24 frames-per-second is the end-all-be-all of frame rates, and that’s never going to change:

"Maybe I'm just an old fogey clinging onto my nostalgia goggles. Maybe I’m just not hip to what’s it. I used to be, but then they changed what ‘it’ was, and now what’s ‘it’ seems weird and scary to me. It’ll happen to you too. But on the topic of frame rate, I’m not going to be diplomatic. I’m not going to say ‘It’ll be interesting to see!’ or some meaningless cop-out. No, 24 is going to be with us for as long as there exists a cinematic medium.”

Bottom of the Page

Customer behaviors and habits are so different in U.S. and in China, I think, that it will always be difficult to push the same product to the two vastly-different countries.

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Thanks for reading.

The No-One-Should-be-Fooled Edition Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Big Tech May Look Troubled, But It’s Just Getting Started, by David Streitfeld, New York Times

Big Tech needs to be regulated, many are beginning to argue, and yet there are worries about giving that power to the government.

“The government doesn’t have a good clue,” said Mr. Bajarin, the consultant. “They’re not even asking the kind of questions that would drive to regulation.”

Which leaves regulation up to the companies themselves, always a dubious proposition.

Corporations Are Finding Their Politically Responsible Side, by Adam Winkler, Los Angeles Times

Big business has earned its credibility on these issues: 91% of Fortune 500 companies have policies against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. (Only 42% of states ban such discrimination.) And many high-profile companies, especially in the technology sector, rely heavily on immigrants and have long advocated for easing restrictions on entry for skilled workers.

No one should be fooled into thinking big business has become suddenly altruistic. CEOs are legally obligated to run corporations in the interest of their shareholders, not the public interest.

And yet the pressures on business to get political are increasing and coming from numerous sources.

Stuff

Can’t Figure Out How To Type A Character On A Mac? It’s Time For The Virtual Keyboard, by Glenn Fleishman, Macworld

As a long-time Mac user, I once had to rely on Key Caps, an early Mac helper that would show you where special characters hid on a keyboard. Holding down Option and Shift-Option would reveal the secrets of π and ‰ and accent marks.

That feature never disappeared, though it did recede from view, and was renamed Keyboard Viewer. You may rarely need it—except when you’re trying to type a key that your keyboard doesn’t allow or you can’t find.

5 Smart Tips For Making The Most Of The Health App On Your iPhone, by Kwasi Enoch, Jbklutse.com

It’s not easy staying fit and healthy these days with addicting phones, junk foods and long workdays, to name just a few things. To succeed in being healthy always, it takes work, commitment, and an understanding of your mind and body — and your iPhone can help you with some of that.

The “Health” app can help with everything else, it’s full of useful health and fitness-tracking features to make sure you can stick to goals and be as healthy as you can be, whether you want to lose a little weight, stop snacking, destress your life, get better sleep, improve your overall physical fitness, or take care of your heart.

6 Essential Apps To Help You Get The Most Out Of The Gym, by Jon Knight, Gadget Hacks

The gym can be pretty distracting. With the slamming of weights and pieces of equipment, loud music blasting through the speakers, and plain old grunting, it can be challenging to focus on your workout. However, with your just your phone, you can not only eliminate these distractions but make the most of your time there.

Using just six apps, you can maximize your time at the gym so very little of it is wasted. No more standing around wondering what to do or being distracted by the commotion around you — these apps will guide you on the way to a better, healthier you. All apps listed here work for both Android and iPhone, so avid gym-goers and newbies alike have no excuse not to try them out.

Best Apps To Tackle Your New Year's Resolutions, by Ian Fuchs, Cult of Mac

Whatever your goal is for the new year, there’s probably an app to help. These are some of the best apps to help you on your journey to a better you in 2019.

Develop

How To Crush Your Habits In The New Year With The Help Of Science, by Susan Shain, New York Times

While Mr. Duhigg said cues usually fall into one of five categories — time, location, people, emotion or ritual — rewards are more difficult to ascertain. Do you always get an afternoon snack because you’re hungry? Because you’re bored? Or is it because you’re starved for office gossip? To determine an effective replacement habit, it’s vital to understand what reward you crave.

“Any habit can be diagnosed and shifted,” Mr. Duhigg said. “You need to give yourself time to really figure out the cues and rewards that are driving that behavior — and oftentimes the only way … is through a process of experimentation.”

How I Approach My New Year Goals, by Shawn Blanc

I do not overhaul my life on January first. Instead, I pick a few things that I know I can stick with. The compounding impact of small routines done regularly is so much more powerful than that one giant event.

Bottom of the Page

We don't need more apps on macOS (and Windows, for that matter) that are single-window apps. But we do need better windows management at the operating system level.

Single-window apps are not better. Just like Simple Finder is not a better Finder, and Photos is not a better Aperture.

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Thanks for reading.

The A-Lot-for-any-Individual Edition Tuesday, January 1, 2019

The Old Guard Of Mac Indy Apps Has Thrived For More Than 25 Years, by Glenn Fleishman, Macworld

The longevity of indie apps is more extraordinary when you consider the changes Apple put the Mac through from the early 1990s to 2018. Apple switched from Motorola 680x0 processors to PowerPC to Intel chips, from 32-bit to 64-bit code, and among supported coding languages. It revved System 7 to 8 to 9, then to Unix across now 15 major releases (from 10.0 to 10.14). That’s a lot for any individual programmer or small company to cope with.

Bare Bones’s head honcho, Rich Siegel, and the developers behind three other long-running Mac software programs shared with me their insight on development histories for over 25 years, what’s changed the most during that time, and any hidden treasures users haven’t yet found.

Big Tech Is Here To Help You Fight Excessive Phone Use—Kinda, by Arielle Pardes, Wired

But don't be deceived. While it looks like the revolution is won, this is just the beginning of a war to colonize your phone screen. Google, Apple, and Facebook seem like they've handed over the keys to unshackle us from our attention-splintering devices, but in doing so, they've accomplished something more significant. Tech companies have co-opted the movement, turning "digital wellness" into a Goopified trend that functions as marketing.

[...]

"Time Well Spent was never about giving users features to set time limits on their phones, it was about changing the game from which companies compete," says Harris. "The problem is that everyone misunderstood what 'time well spent' was about by anchoring on the word 'time.' As if lost time was the biggest harm coming from technology. The original TED talk makes clear that the root problem is the race-to-the-bottom of the brain stem to manipulate human nature—hijack our minds—because of the business model to capture people’s time."

Your 2019 Resolution Should Be To Better Understand The Tech You Use, by Shubham Agarwal, Technology Personalized

The bottom line is you shouldn’t rely on Tim Cook or any other executive. For, it’s your own data and you are the only one who should decide how it’s being consumed or distributed.

Therefore, it’s more crucial than ever that you understand the tech you use every minute of your life. Start consuming technology in a way you think is appropriate. Years ago, if you were not familiar with the nuances of technology, at best, you wouldn’t be able to reboot your computer. Today, you can end up compromising your personal information.

The Journey Continues: Apple Watch, Positivity, And Improving Mental Health, by Zac Hall, 9to5Mac

For me, I’m finding that the Apple Watch is still a useful partner along this new leg of my journey. My head is most clear when I give myself time to focus my mind, and that time is most available when I’m exercising my body. I’m more likely to show up to exercise if I’m well rested and not oversleeping.

And I’m continuing to strive to invest more time in family and friends through travel when I have the opportunity and regular FaceTime calls when I don’t. And when I’m with the people I love and who love me, the Apple Watch can keep me connected and tell me if the rest of the world needs me right now (even if I have to remind myself of that feature regularly).

Stuff

How To Set Up Your iPad To Be The Best Laptop Replacement It Can Be, by David Nield, Gizmodo

Apple wants you to use your iPad or your iPad Pro like a proper computer: But how do you go about doing that? And does it actually work? Here are the apps, software tweaks, and accessories you need to turn your Apple tablet into a makeshift laptop—and some of the annoyances you’re still going to come across.

Better Together: Why Apple Watch Owners Should Buy AirPods, by Vadim Yuryev, AppleInsider

What really makes the Apple Watch great is that you have complete control over your music or phone calls right on your wrist. But since the Apple Watch can't play music through its own speakers, you're going to need a pair of wireless earphones. If this is a problem, look no further than Apple's own AirPods for a solution.

Notes

Apple’s “Color Flood”: Like Picasso Said, by Ken Segall

Like any sighted person, I did get that the ad was about color. I just wasn’t sure if it was about display quality or the color of the phone itself.

Bottom of the Page

Welcome to 2019: We will finally find out the name that comes after X. I'm pretty sure it will not be the iPhone XI. Does not work in China.

Welcome to 2019: We will finally find out what Apple really means by a modular Mac. The new MacBook Air looks like the old MacBook Air. The new Mac Mini looks like the old Mac Mini. So will the new Mac Pro look like the trash-can Mac Pro or the cheese-grater Mac Pro?

Welcome to 2019: We will finally get the successors of Carpool Karaoke and Planet of the Apps. Will there be nudity? Will there be gore? Or will this really be the new Disney?

Welcome to 2019: Will Apple ever utter the following words? iPad Mini 5, iPhone SE, and AirPower?

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The two of the oldest third-party programs -- I mean, apps -- that I am still using regularly on my mac are BBedit and Transmit.

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Thanks for reading.