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Archive for April 2019

The What-Good-Really-Was Edition Saturday, April 20, 2019

Beats And The Battle For Your Ears: How Apple Changed The Sound Of Dr Dre's Cans, by Olivia Tambini, TechRadar

So how has that acquisition changed Beats as a company, and more importantly, the quality of its headphones? We spoke to Beats President, Luke Wood about the company’s first true wireless earbud, the Powerbeats Pro, which he tells us is “the culmination of the full integration of [Beats and Apple] working together from a technological standpoint.''

“We thought we were pretty good until we got to Apple, and then we started learning what ‘good’ really was”, he admits between sips of green tea.

What was Apple doing that Beats wasn’t? “Apple had so much incredible discipline and rigor around product quality” Wood says.

Apple Said Qualcomm's Tech Was No Good. But In Privage Communications, It Was 'The Best.', by Reed Albergotti, Washington Post

The sealed documents, obtained by Qualcomm through the discovery phase ahead of the trial, offer a rare window into the decision-making process of one of the most secretive and powerful companies on the planet, and how Apple’s internal discussions about Qualcomm differed from what it said publicly. Apple’s criticism of Qualcomm underpinned more than 80 lawsuits around the world and influenced governments to change laws and regulations in Apple’s favor. The emails and slide-show presentation, seen by a Washington Post reporter in court, could soon be made available in the docket for all to see, since they were shown at trial. The two sides settled their dispute Tuesday, shortly after the trial began.

The documents also raise questions about the methods Apple used to inflict pain on Qualcomm and whether Apple really believed its own arguments to lawmakers, regulators, judges and juries when it tried to change not just its long-standing business agreement with Qualcomm but the very laws and practices that have allowed inventors to profit from their work and investments. Apple has argued that Qualcomm’s patents were no more valuable than those of competitors like Ericsson and Huawei, but Qualcomm argued in court that the documents show otherwise.

Marzipan's Siri

Siri Shortcuts, Screen Time, And Other iOS Features Coming To The Mac With 10.15, by Guilherme Rambo, 9to5Mac

Supporting the feature on macOS is important so developers of iPad apps can more easily port their Shortcuts-enabled apps to the Mac, with the new SDK becoming available at WWDC. According to sources, only Marzipan apps will be able to take advantage of the Shortcuts support on macOS. Engineers are also working on bringing the assistant on macOS closer to its iOS counterpart by porting over features such as the ability to set timers and alarms and ask about air quality, currently unavailable on the Mac.

Shortcuts Coming To The Mac?, by Jason Snell, Six Colors

Automation on the Mac is in danger of becoming a real mess. Automator and AppleScript haven’t changed much over time, and probably won’t ever be able to control Marzipan apps. Bringing over Shortcuts as the macOS automation tool of the future sounds good to me, but if it’s limited to Marzipan apps only, things get weird. The Mac would end up with two entirely different classes of apps, each with their own automation system, both walled off from the other.

Stuff

How To Recycle Your Old Phone, Laptop And Other Electronics Without Harming The Environment, by Shelby Brown, CNET

Devices can pile up over the years -- just look in your drawers, the garage or a dark corner of your closet. Unless you're a self-disciplined cleaning guru, chances are you've held onto batteries, cables and older devices for nostalgic reasons, or because you thought you might be able to use it down the line.

Leave the tech museum to somebody else. You have better things to do than let dust collect on that creaky old laptop, ancient flip phone or a camera you thought you'd one day save for your kids. Whatever the tech, when it's finally time to say goodbye, there's a right way to dispose of your old gadgets and a lot of wrong ways.

Notes

Apple Helping Rebuild Notre Dame Is A Perfect Example Of How It’s Changed Under Tim Cook, by Andy Meek, Salon

Inside and out, Apple has turned itself into one of the most charitable of America’s major corporations, with employees nudged to give back and donate to worthy causes in a way that wasn’t done during Apple’s earlier years. Related to that, Cook has also been clear that he wants Apple to be seen as a force for good, not mostly a retailer of super-luxe consumer electronics.

The Dark Side Of Fitness Tracking, by Caroline Cox, Medium

Saftler has seen countless clients with aches, pains, stress, and poor relationships with food or exercise and statistics that depict them as healthy. Tracking can be useful for some, she adds, but you don’t want to become dependent on the data and lose the ability to listen to how your body is responding.

“Whether it’s helpful or harmful depends on what we’re measuring,” Rosenfeld says, “and how quickly, potentially, that behavior could become out of control.” In the pursuit of well-being, hitting quantitative targets isn’t the same thing as feeling healthy and happy. Ultimately, the latter is the more important goal.

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I don't think I really understand -- and I definitely don't buy -- a lot of the science mumbo-jumbo in this second season of Star Trek: Discovery.

Of course, any stories that deal with the breaking of physical laws -- time travels, spore drive -- will have a high bar to make all the science make sense.

Sometimes, it is better not to explain at all.

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Thanks for reading.

The Great-Typing-Experience Edition Friday, April 19, 2019

Apple Owes Everyone An Apology And It Should Start With Me, Specifically, by Casey Johnston, The Outline

Apple still claims that only a “small percentage” of people experience trouble with their keyboards. But having now heard the idea of a “sensitive” keyboard, I’m not sure I will ever get over it. No one has had to think this hard about keyboards in decades, at least before Apple went in and messed with them. Now the complaints are reaching critical mass and I have Microsoft emailing me offering to fly me out to its Redmond campus so it can walk me through its “seven elements that every keyboard needs to create a great typing experience.” I have a hard time imagining what those seven elements are, because I get stuck at two: 1. Produces the characters 2. That I intended to type. These two attributes are also, incidentally, what the biggest and most-valuable tech companies in the world are somehow grappling with anew.

Is It Good Or Bad To Use A Dynamite-Triggered Avalanche For An Apple Ad? We Asked Scientists, by Caroline Haskins, Motherboard

Now granted, it’s not bad that this was a controlled avalanche. Capturing a controlled avalanche rather than looking for a real one is a safer option for everyone involved. And of course, controlled avalanches serve an important purpose: they break the stress of giant slabs of snow, preventing them from fracturing on their own and hurting people.

However, the marketing of a dangerous event like an avalanche raises complicated questions about how we interact with natural landscapes.

Apple Watch Authentication Expanding Beyond Unlocking Your Mac In macOS 10.15, by Guilherme Rambo, 9to5Mac

According to sources familiar with the development of macOS, the next major version of the operating system will allow users to authenticate other operations on the Mac beyond just unlocking the machine with their watch.

It’s unclear the extent of operations that will be supported, but it’s possible that all operations that can currently be authenticated with Touch ID will also be accessible via the Apple Watch mechanism.

Stuff

Bose Rolling Out AirPlay 2 Support To Three Of Its Smart Speakers And Sound Bars, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Bose this week quietly announced that it has released AirPlay 2 functionality to its line of smart speakers. This includes its Home Speaker 500 and two different Soundbar models, while SoundTouch speakers are still playing the waiting game.

Primephonic App Review: The Unrivaled Classical Music Streaming Service Comes To Android And iOS, by Theo Nicolakis, TechHive

While major streaming services might be fine for the casual classical music listener, they fall short when it comes to catalog selection, searching, metadata support, and descriptions.

Postbox 5 For MacOS Review, by Lloyd Coombes, The Digital Fix

Postbox, now in its fifth major version, is a complete email suite for Mac users. While many will stick to the standard Apple Mail that comes preinstalled, Postbox offers plenty to make it worth the price of admission.

There's A New Way To Meditate At Work, by Lila MacLellan, Quartz

But that human—not a robot, not a recording—speaking in real time is the reason I keep returning. The instructor could be nearby in New York, or in Boulder, Colorado, or somewhere in California, but the sound is crisp and clear. As I close my eyes (on the days I’m working from home), I imagine the 50 to 100 others who may also be on the app doing the same thing, at the same moment.

Develop

TestFlight For iOS Adds Search Integration And Other Improvements In Latest Update, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Perhaps most notably, today’s update means you can now see TestFlight information through the universal Search feature of iOS.

Notes

Apple iPhones Get Recycled In This Secretive Lab. Now It's Opening Up, by Ian Sherr, CNET

Meet Daisy. Daisy is 33 feet long, has five arms and can methodically deconstruct any of 15 iPhone models -- from 2012's iPhone 5 to 2018's iPhone XS -- at a rate of 200 per hour. In a coordinated and sometimes violent dance, Daisy removes the screen, battery, screws, sensors, logic board and wireless charging coil, leaving its husk of an aluminum shell.

Apple invited me here not just to see Daisy in action, but also the Material Recovery Lab that's been built up around it. Last year, Apple announced Daisy for the first time to the world via a press release and video. Now it's inviting in academics, recyclers and other companies to learn how Daisy works.

And, hopefully, use its technology to make e-recycling around the world better.

New Apple Retail Head Deirdre O'Brien Joins Instagram, Shares Pics From Trip To Hong Kong And Macau, by Roger Fingas, AppleInsider

O'Brien is on the service as @deirdre.at.apple. Two photos were shot in Hong Kong, including Apple IFC Mall, while a third was shot at Apple Cotai Central in Macau.

Three Ways Apple’s Own Marzipan Apps Can Benefit macOS, by Dan Moren, Macworld

But amidst all of that doom and gloom, there are plenty of glimmers of hope about what this could mean for the Mac. I’d go so far as to say I have optimism that deploying iOS apps could be a boon for not just Apple, but the whole Mac platform, which is not only alive and kicking, but even flourishing.

Apple Paid Up To $6 Billion To Settle With Qualcomm, UBS Estimates, by Kif Leswing, CNBC

The UBS estimate suggests that Apple paid a high price to end a bitter legal battle that spanned multiple continents and threatened Apple's ability to release a 5G iPhone and put pressure on Qualcomm's licensing business model that contributes over half of the company's profit.

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How can a company that pride itself on attention-to-detail, that rather make products that are more-expensive-but-good rather than cheaper-but-not-so-good, let a little keyboard tarnish its reputation? Or did Apple let go off all its engineers who know how to make good buttons and keys ever since it declared war on anything that moves and clicks?

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Thanks for reading.

The Never-Take-Them-Off Edition Thursday, April 18, 2019

Apple Opens Material Recovery Lab In Austin To Improve Recycling Efforts, by Mitchel Broussard, MacRumors

Apple has opened a new lab that will study how it can expand upon its current recycling processes through machine learning and robotics. The company announced the news today, along with other environmentally-focused updates, including that it will quadruple the number of locations where United States customers can send their iPhone to be disassembled by its recycling robot Daisy in a major expansion of its recycling programs.

People Wearing AirPods Are Making Things Awkward For Everyone Else, by Alex Kantrowitz, BuzzFeed

AirPods have taken off as the latest must-have technology gadget. They’ve shown up in celebrities’ ears, become a status symbol, and inspired meetups. But their ubiquity isn’t all upside. They’re also introducing awkwardness to once-standard human interactions — largely because some people never seem to take them off.

Unlike traditional headphones, AirPods are the kind of things you can keep in your ears at all times, and many people do. Their sleek design and lack of wires make it easy to forget they’re resting in your head. And their status symbol shine doesn’t exactly scream “take me out.” This may be great for Apple and its bottom line, but it’s making life weird for people interacting with those wearing them. Are they listening to me? Are they listening to music? A podcast? Just hanging? It’s tough to know.

Stuff

Alexa Now Works With Apple Music On Sonos, Bringing Siri-like Voice Control, by Zac Hall, 9to5Mac

Apple Music subscribers can now control music playback on Sonos speakers using voice control through Amazon Alexa. The feature works in the US and UK on the Sonos One and Sonos Beam smart speakers, joining Amazon Echo speakers, based on the Apple Music skill in the Alexa app.

How I Use Drafts On iPhone, macOS, And Apple Watch, by Rose Orchard, The Sweet Setup

I have a lot of thoughts, sometimes they’re important, sometimes they’re not. They might be clear, or just a jumble of words with no point yet, however something inside of me wants to write it down. Drafts (for iOS and macOS) has become my app of choice for capturing these — and for much more as well.

Drafts is much more than a quick way to take a quick note and has become the app I go to for all my writing because it’s easy, simple, but still powerful when I need more features.

CalZones Review, by Federico Viticci, MacStories

CalZones, available today on the App Store as a Universal app, is based on a simple, ingenious concept that, to the best of my knowledge, has never been done on the App Store before: the app combines a time zone viewer with a calendar client, enabling you to compare times across multiple cities as well as view and create calendar events that display start/end times in multiple formats. By fusing time zone comparisons and calendar events into one product, Smith was able to create an app that is greater than the sum of its parts because it solves a problem that neither traditional world clocks nor calendar clients could fix before.

Develop

The Five Types Of Communication Problems That Destroy Company Morale, by Cate Huston, Quartz

There’s a saying in software that all bugs are eventually user interface bugs, because someone has to see them to report them. In organizations, it often seems like all problems are eventually communication problems, because communication is the way we interface with each other—and the way most problems surface.

There are a lot of reasons why communication within a company can break down. Here are some of the most common.

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I can imagine a future where we all wear AirPods and Google Glasses (or Apple's 'upcoming' AR glasses) and just converse with robots and Siri the entire day.

After all, human interactions are so overrated.

:-)

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Thanks for reading.

The Five-G-Modem Edition Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Apple And Qualcomm Reach Settlement In Patent Royalty Battle, Agree To Drop All Litigation, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Apple says it has reached a deal with Qualcomm that will see it make a settlement payment to Qualcomm. Further, the two have reached a six-year license agreement effective as of April 1, 2019. There is a two-year option to extend the agreement, as well as a multiyear “chipset supply agreement.”

Apple Puts Need For 5G Ahead Of Legal Fight In Qualcomm Deal, by Ian King, Bloomberg

Intel, which dominates the market in personal computer chips, has struggled for decades in mobile. The company pledged that its 5G part was coming in phones next year. But within hours of Apple’s deal with Qualcomm, and with it the loss of its prime mobile customer, Intel announced it would end its effort to produce a 5G modem for smartphones.

[...]

“If they didn’t settle with Qualcomm soon they’d miss next year’s product,” said Mike Walkley, an analyst at Canaccord Genuity. “Building their own baseband will take years and Intel is behind. Maybe that was the final thing that got this done.”

Why Apple And Qualcomm Made Peace Now: A 5G iPhone In 2020, by Mark Sullivan, Fast Company

The two companies realized that the upside benefit from settling is far greater than the potential upside for continuing to fight.

“I believe both Apple and Qualcomm got deeper into this than they wanted to,” said Moor Insights & Strategy principal analyst Patrick Moorhead. “Apple was challenging Qualcomm’s most profitable business model, licensing, and Qualcomm was accusing Apple of IP theft and lack of payment.”

Here’s What Likely Happened Between Apple, Qualcomm And Intel, by Ben Lovejoy, 9to5Mac

Here’s my guess. Apple agreed to pay all the money Qualcomm had claimed for it during the time that it and its suppliers had ceased payments. Qualcomm agreed to offer a cheaper deal to Apple in return for the commitment of 6+ years. The chipmaker may have even agreed to drop the percentage terms in favor of a flat fee, provided that Apple signed a non-disclosure agreement on the deal. That way, its business model with other clients wouldn’t be threatened – and wouldn’t be tested in court.

It seems likely that Apple was only willing to go head-to-head with Qualcomm in the first place because it felt confident Intel would tide it over until the iPhone-maker was in a position to create an in-house radio chip. When that didn’t work out, it needed to return to Qualcomm to get back on track for 5G iPhones in 2020.

Coming Soon To A Display Near You

Apple Planning Luna Display-like Desktop Extension Feature For macOS 10.15, Codenamed ‘Sidecar’, by Guilherme Rambo, 9to5Mac

The new feature – called “Sidecar” internally – can be accessed via a simple menu. This new menu will be opened by hovering over the green “maximize” button in a Mac app window for a split second. The menu will have options for making the window fullscreen, tiling and moving to external displays, including the user’s iPads and external displays connected to the Mac. Selecting one of the display options moves the current window to the selected external display or iPad, in fullscreen.

Apple Revamping Find My Friends & Find My iPhone In Unified App, Developing Tile-like Personal Item Tracking, by Guilherme Rambo, 9to5Mac

Apple is working on a new app that’s going to replace the Find My Friends and Find My iPhone apps. With codename “GreenTorch”, the app is currently being tested by engineers at the company.

[...]

Apple also wants users to be able to track any item – not just their Apple devices – using this new unified app. The company is working on a new hardware product, known only as “B389” by the people involved in its development.

Why iOS Apps Will Make The Mac A Better Place... Eventually, by Jason Snell, Macworld

Change is hard, and the next couple of years are going to be hard for Mac users, because things are going to be strange and different and we’re going to have to learn new ways of doing things. But in the end, I think we’re going to end up with a macOS that is more active and vibrant than it’s been since the day the iPhone was announced.

Stuff

Apple Revises 2018 MacBook Air Display Brightness To Up To 400 Nits After macOS 10.14.4 Release, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

We've confirmed with Apple that this increase is tied to the macOS 10.14.4 software update released on March 25. Apple's release notes did mention that the update "corrects the default screen brightness" for 2018 MacBook Air models, although no specific details were known at the time.

Apple Shares New 'Shot On iPhone XS' Video Featuring Images Of Nature From Around The World, by Tim Hardwick, MacRumors

Titled "Don't Mess With Mother," the one-minute video features various stark images of nature in action, captured from around the world, synced to the song "Last Rites" by Megadeth.

Apple’s Latest iMacs Are Fast And Familiar, by Dan Seifert, The Verge

Even more impressive than the raw performance is how Apple has managed to improve the noise levels and cooling efficiency, even though these computers use the same fans and designs as the older models. While it certainly is possible to get those fans to spin up under load, the latest iMacs remain surprisingly quiet the vast majority of the time. Since one of the biggest quality-of-life differences between the iMac Pro and the more pedestrian models is how quiet the Pro model is under load, the new iMacs’ reluctance to spin up their fans to obnoxious volumes is greatly appreciated. They still manage to keep the new processors cool enough to maintain performance and avoid excessive thermal throttling.

A Review Of The Twelve South BookArc, by Josh Ginter, The Sweet Setup

Like any good app or accessory, the Twelve South BookArc sets its sights on doing one thing extremely well: displaying your docked MacBook and getting it up and out out of the way to free up space on your desk. Not only does it meet and exceed this expectation, it does so with high-styling, chamfered-aluminum, and soft silicone inserts and feet to protect your expensive gadgets.

How To Make Music With An iPad And A ‘Classic’ Swedish Synth, by Charlie Sorrel, Cult of Mac

The tiny device couples a short, piano-style keyboard with a screen. And it contains a drum machine, several synthesizers, a sampler, a handful of sequencers, a virtual four-track tape recorder and even an FM radio. You can create entire tracks on it with no other gear, or you can hook it up to electric guitars and microphones and bring the outside world in.

But it also pairs surprisingly well with an iPad. You can record audio back and forth, but things go much deeper than that. You also can use the OP-1’s hardware keyboard to play instruments on the iPad, and use iPad MIDI apps to control the synthesizers on the OP-1.

Notes

Apple Will Donate Money To Rebuild Notre Dame, by Jonathan Shieber, TechCrunch

Cook’s commitment comes as French companies and private families have rallied to the cause of rebuilding the centuries-old cathedral (and international symbol of Paris and France), which was largely destroyed in a fire yesterday.

The Time Tim Cook Stood His Ground Against The FBI, by Leander Kahney, Wired

The team came to the conclusion that the judge’s order was a PR move—a very public arm twisting to pressure Apple into complying with the FBI’s demands—and that it could be serious trouble for the company. Apple “is a famous, incredibly powerful consumer brand and we are going to be standing up against the FBI and saying in effect, ‘No, we’re not going to give you the thing that you’re looking for to try to deal with this terrorist threat,’” said Sewell.

They knew that they had to respond immediately. The writ would dominate the next day’s news, and Apple had to have a response. “Tim knew that this was a massive decision on his part,” Sewell said. It was a big moment, “a bet-the-company kind of decision.” Cook and the team stayed up all night—a straight 16 hours—working on their response. Cook already knew his position—Apple would refuse—but he wanted to know all the angles: What was Apple’s legal position? What was its legal obligation? Was this the right response? How should it sound? How should it read? What was the right tone?

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Death is on my mind these past few days, so everything else, all the bugs, all the tasks, seems to matter less.

Goodbye, my dear colleague and friend.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Features-to-Save Edition Tuesday, April 16, 2019

The Incredible Old-School iTunes Feature I Hope Apple Doesn't Kill, by David Nield, Gizmodo

That feature is smart playlists—something that hasn’t made its way to Spotify, or Google Play Music, or YouTube Music, or Tidal, or Deezer, and which might not make it to whatever app Apple is cooking up.

Right now, we don’t know for sure what any new Music app will offer, or what the fate of iTunes is ultimately going to be—though it seems we’re all agreed that the aging software suite is too bloated and too arcane to stick around for much longer. But if Apple engineers are looking for features to save from the iTunes fire, I’m hoping smart playlists is one of them.

Apple Music Upgrading ‘For You’ Feature Based On Themes, Now Updated Throughout The Day With Totally Unique Recommendations, by Zac Hall, 9to5Mac

Apple Music’s upgraded ‘For You section is now organized around music themes that are more personalized for each member, and updates to ‘For You’ are now much more frequent.

The changes to Apple Music and ‘For You’ are already starting to appear today on select platforms including iOS 12.3 beta for iPhone and iPad and iTunes on macOS 10.14.5 beta for the Mac. Apple Music subscribers on all platforms including Android will start seeing the more personalized ‘For You’ experience in the coming weeks.

Apple Warns iPad Pro Users Of Bizarre Interference Issue Between Apple Pencil And Car Key Fobs, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

According to the updated document, if you’re charging your second-generation Apple Pencil with your iPad Pro, you might experience problems unlocking your car via a key fob.

Unleashes Everywhere

Latest iPad Pro Ads Highlight The Device’s Versatility, by Ryan Christoffel, MacStories

All five 'A New Way' videos do a great job showcasing real-life tasks being tackled on the iPad. Most are focused on getting things done, but the video about travel also highlights the iPad's strengths as a video player and even coloring book.

Beats Unleashes Army Of Athletes In New Powerbeats Pro Ad, by Buster Hein, Cult of Mac

Beats’ new ad unleashes the Powerbeats Pro everywhere from the basketball court to the skate park as superstars like LeBron James and Serena Williams train to dominate their respective games.

Poised to Plant Its Flag

iOS 13: Dark Mode, Detachable Panels, Safari And Mail Upgrades, Undo Gesture, Volume HUD, More, by Guilherme Rambo, 9to5Mac

There are many changes coming to iPad with iOS 13, including the ability for apps to have multiple windows. Each window will also be able to contain sheets that are initially attached to a portion of the screen, but can be detached with a drag gesture, becoming a card that can be moved around freely, similar to what an open-source project called “PanelKit” could do.

These cards can also be stacked on top of each other, and use a depth effect to indicate which cards are on top and which are on the bottom. Cards can be flung away to dismiss them.

Apple To Expand Its London Empire With Knightsbridge Shop, by Joanna Bourke, London Evening Standard

Tech giant Apple is poised to plant its flag in one of London’s most luxurious shopping areas as it bolsters its presence in the capital, the Evening Standard can reveal.

Stuff

iPad Air And iPad Mini 2019 Review: Apple’s Tablets Strike An Ideal Balance, by Samuel Axon, Ars Technica

Both new tablets strike a compelling balance of performance, features, and price. Neither one reinvents what an iPad is—that's for the Pro to (try to) do—but that's OK. The iPad Pro will be attractive to dedicated creatives with specific needs, and the base iPad is adequate for people who just want to do some light Web browsing or who need to be price conscious.

For everyone else, these small refinements make for the most easy-to-recommend true tablet solutions on the market apart from maybe aftermarket 2017 iPad Pros—especially this new Air.

Apple Watch Diary: Six Things I Already Miss About My Apple Watch After Just One Day Without It, by Ben Lovejoy, 9to5Mac

All classic first world problems, I know. These are all really trivial things. But that, to me, is the selling-point of the Apple Watch: it doesn’t have a single killer app, but it does have a whole bunch of functionality that makes everyday life just that little bit more convenient. I want mine back.

Guided Access, by NSHipster

With a name like “Guided Access”, it’s not immediately clear what this feature actually does. And its section heading “Learning” doesn’t help much, either — though, to be fair, that isn’t an inaccurate characterization (Guided Access is undoubtedly useful for people with a learning disability), but it certainly buries the lede.

In truth, Guided Access can be many things to many different people. So for your consideration, here are some alternative names that you can keep at the back of your mind to better appreciate when and why you might give it a try:

Procreate Illustration App For iPad Adds Long-awaited Text Features, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Savage, the developer team behind Procreate, says that illustrators now have the ability to import fonts and “weave typography into their illustrations and designs.” Procreate includes all standard iOS fonts, as well as three custom typefaces. Creators can also add their own fonts.

Jumbo Is An iPhone App That Clears Your Old Tweets And Google Searches, by Ivan Mehta, The Next Web

There’s an insane amount of news every day about social networks screwing up and compromising user data. So, it’s advisable that you keep your privacy settings in check to avoid giving away any information unintentionally. Thankfully, this new iPhone app, Jumbo, will help you out with this.

The app offers plenty of privacy-related functionality for Twitter, Facebook, Amazon Alexa, and Google searches.

Tinderbox 8.0, by Agen Schmitz, TidBITS

The updated app adds a new Hyperbolic View that provides an interactive and animated portrait of notes currently in focus. The new Filtered Outline view lets you focus exclusively on notes of interest while hiding details you don’t need at the moment. Finally, maps and outlines boast improved responsiveness, color options, and typography.

Yamaha Says AirPlay 2 Is Coming To These Speakers, Receivers, And More Starting This Month, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

In a press release, Yamaha says 15 of its home audio products will be updated with support for AirPlay 2 beginning this month. In addition to AirPlay 2, the products will also add expanded Spotify Connect capabilities, as well as support for Qobuz high-resolution streaming service.

Incognito Mode Won't Keep Your Browsing Private. Do This Instead, by Michael Grothaus, Fast Company

Browser compartmentalization is a privacy technique that is finally gaining mainstream attention. The technique sees users using two or even three browsers on the same computer. However, instead of switching between browsers at random, users of browser compartmentalization dedicate one browser to one type of internet activity, and another browser to another type of internet activity.

Develop

Apple Notifying WWDC 2019 Scholarship Applicants Of Award Status, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

We’re less than two months away from WWDC 2019, and Apple today has started notifying scholarship applicants of their award status. WWDC scholarship winners receive free access to WWDC, as well as lodging.

Notes

The Images That Could Help Rebuild Notre Dame Cathedral, by Alexis C. Madrigal, The Atlantic

“When you’re working on medieval buildings, it’s difficult to have the impression you can say anything new. They’ve been looked at and written about for ages,” Tallon told a documentary crew in 2015. “So, I’ve been using more sophisticated technology these days to try to get new answers from the buildings.”

And so it was that in 2010, Tallon, an art professor at Vassar, took a Leica ScanStation C10 to Notre Dame, and with the assistance of Columbia’s Paul Blaer, began to painstakingly scan every piece of the structure, inside and out. They mounted the Leica on a tripod, put up markers throughout the space, and set the machine to work. Over five days, they positioned the scanner again and again—50 times in all—to create an unmatched record of the reality of one of the world’s most awe-inspiring buildings, represented as a series of points in space. Tallon also took high-resolution panoramic photos to map onto the three-dimensional forms that the laser scanner could create.

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So, which of the following two events will happen first? Files app on iPad renamed Finder, or Finder on macOS renamed Files?

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Back in the days, I used a bunch of smart playlists for my podcasting listening on my iPod, iPhone, and iTunes. But, after moving away from the Apple's Podcast app (so bad) to third-party podcast apps, and after subscribing to Apple Music, I do not have any smart playlists left.

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Thanks for reading.

The Wherever-and-Whenever Edition Monday, April 15, 2019

A Book Addict's Defense Of The Smartphone, by Joshua Kim, Inside Higher Ed

My point is not that I don’t think that smartphones can cause problems for attention, focus, and interpersonal relationships. I’ll stipulate that we have not adjusted to the downsides of having the internet - and everything that comes along with the web - in our pockets.

What I am saying is that the advantages of being to store, listen to, and read books - wherever and whenever - outweigh all the smartphone negatives.

Cracking The Code: A Toddler, An iPad, And A Tweet, by Evan Osnos, New Yorker

Like so much of our lives with technology, the episode could be read as a reason for either optimism or gloom. In an instant, people had raged and imagined conspiracies; most did not. Many helped. Above all, the scenario, in all its ridiculousness, seemed to satisfy the low-grade anxieties that have become our universal predicament, the feeling that we’re rarely more than a few clicks away from becoming captive to the tech we love. And, when it came time to share that angst, we did it online, of course. By the end of the week, the tweets were slowing down. The Internet had moved on. And the iPad was on a high shelf.

Stuff

Safari: macOS Browser Now Autosubmits Logins. Here’s How To Disable It, by Glenn Fleishman, Macworld

The only way to disable autofill is site by site, and then only by removing the keychain entry. If you use iCloud Keychain, this removal is synced across all your connected iOS and macOS devices.

Machine Learning Helps You Organize Your Photos, And It's Really Weird, by Amanda Kooser, Koamando

We’re all capturing more digital photos than ever. It’s an incredible feeling to know we can keep track of all the celebrations and important moments in our lives, but the challenge is how to find the photos we want to see later on.

Apple’s iOS Photos app is smarter than ever. It can recognize people and group them together. It just needs a little help from you to make searching easy.

Mac Owners Still Aren't Pleased With iCloud Photos, by Times Square Chronicles

Keeping track of countless files is not an easy task for any photographer which is why they rely on photo enhancement software with DAM, or Digital Asset Management technology that lets them store their photos on their systems with much more ease. This is something that Apple’s iCloud storage still struggles with and users get frustrated as a result.

Zagg Slim Book Go Keyboard Case For 9.7-inch iPad Review: Pressing All The Right Buttons, by Leif Johnson, Macworld

The Zagg Slim Book Go isn’t the prettiest case for the 9.7-inch iPad, but it’s one of my favorites. It’s tough enough for daily use at both school or work, and I love how I can switch it between tablet and "laptop" modes without the awkwardness I tend to endure with other cases.

Develop

Whither Native App Developers?, by Jon Evans, TechCrunch

But I’d still feel at least slightly uneasy about going all-in as a specialist app developer if I was early in my career. Not because the market’s going to go away … but because, barring some new transcendent technology available only on phones (maybe some AR breakthrough?) the relentless growth and ever-increasing demand of yesteryear is, in mature markets like the US, apparently gone for the foreseeable future. There’s still some growth, but it seems that’s being sopped up by the rise of non-native development.

Notes

'Basically Playing Favorites': Apple News+ Gets Off To A Rocky Start For Some Publishers, by Max Willens, Digiday

A small team of Apple designers, led by former Wired editor Jason Tanz, fields pitches from participating publishers hoping for design help on specific articles or packages, sources said. All participating publishers were given an email address where they were encouraged to send pitches, and sources said that by and large, Apple’s representatives were responsive to their outreach.

But a smaller, select group of publishers were invited to join a private Slack channel where they could connect with Apple more directly, a move that exasperated several sources when they were informed of the channel’s existence. “They’re basically playing favorites,” that first source said. “It always seems to be good for the big guys, but not for the rest of us.”

Bottom of the Page

The good thing is that, yes, I do have all the books I want to read (with my eyes or with my ears) with me all the time. And, so long as I am willing to use my mobile data for downloads, I'm never without a book at hand, even when I've just finished all the books with me.

The bad thing is that I also do have all the ganes I want to play with me all the time.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Worth-It Edition Sunday, April 14, 2019

I Don’t Care. I Love My Phone., by Samantha Irby, New York Times

Yes, your phone is potentially hazardous to whatever semblance of security you might have. Yes, there are many medical professionals who would attest to the deleterious effect modern technology has on the brains and interpersonal skills of adults. But hear me out: Maybe it’s worth it?

Apple Spends Hundreds Of Millions On Arcade Video Game Service, by Tim Bradshaw, Financial Times

Several people involved in the project’s development say Apple is spending several million dollars each on most of the more than 100 games that have been selected to launch on Arcade, with its total budget likely to exceed $500m. The games service is expected to launch later this year.

[...]

Apple is offering developers an extra incentive if they agree for their game to only be available on Arcade, withholding their release on Google’s Play app store for Android smartphones or other subscription gaming bundles such as Microsoft’s Xbox game pass. But after a few months of exclusivity, developers will be free to release their games on PCs or other games consoles such as Nintendo’s Switch or Sony’s PlayStation.

Eye-Popping Stakes

Apple And Qualcomm’s Global Fight Heads To Court In San Diego, by Don Clark, New York Times

Their formidable legal teams are at war on three continents, in a struggle that could affect the division of billions of dollars of smartphone profits and, perhaps, even how much consumers pay for their phones.

Now, the action moves to a federal courtroom in San Diego, where jury selection is set to begin on Monday for a trial on an Apple lawsuit and Qualcomm’s counterclaims. The chief executives of both companies are likely to take the stand.

The stakes are reflected in the eye-popping damage claims.

WSJ Report Details Apple And Qualcomm Relationship, Hostile Meeting Between CEOs, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Part of the issue in the relationship between Cook and Mollenkopf, the report says, is that they have “so little personal connection.” Because of this, Apple’s top executives reportedly “don’t think it’s possible” that there’s any chance of Qualcomm and Apple being able to reach a deal. “It’s personal. I don’t see anybody who can bridge this gap,” an anonymous executive told The WSJ.

Stuff

Want To Lose Weight? These Are The Best Apps And Devices To Try, by CNET

Losing weight is not an easy endeavor for most. It often requires significant lifestyle changes, including exercising or altering your diet in order to do it.

Those changes might seem daunting, but they can be easier to handle with the help of apps on your phone, wearables and other smart devices.

Ikea Adds HomeKit Compatibility To $9.99 Trådfri Smart Plug, by Tom Sykes, The Apple Post

The new firmware update allows for the Trådfri outlets to be added to the Home app on iOS and macOS, letting them be controlled alongside any other HomeKit compatible devices.

Notes

Breaking The Internet: New Regulations Imperil Global Network, by AFP

The U.K. proposal “is a very bad look for a rights-respecting democracy,” said R. David Edelman, a former White House technology adviser who now heads the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s project on technology, the economy and national security. “It would place the U.K. toward the far end of the internet censorship spectrum.”

Elsewhere, critics pounced on a bill in Singapore to ban “fake news,” calling it a thinly veiled attempt at censorship.

“It is not up to the government to arbitrarily determine what is and is not true,” said Daniel Bastard of the media watchdog group Reporters Without Borders. “In its current form, this Orwellian law establishes nothing less than a ‘ministry of truth’ that would be free to silence independent voices and impose the ruling party’s line.”

The Only Answer Is Less Internet, by Ross Douthat, New York Times

This is the hard truth suggested by our online experience so far: That a movement to restore privacy must be, at some level, a movement against the internet. Not a pure Luddism, but a movement for limits, for internet-free spaces, for zones of enforced pre-virtual reality (childhood and education above all), for social conventions that discourage career-destroying tweets and crotch shots by encouraging us to put away our iPhones.

Absent such a movement we may not join China in dystopia. But the dystopian elements in our own order will be here to say.

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I wonder if there is a spike in subscription numbers for HBO on iOS today, just in time for Game of Thrones.

I wonder if there are some regrets in the Apple TV Channels team of not able to launch today.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Negative-Impact Edition Saturday, April 13, 2019

Why Tens Of Thousands Of Perfectly Good, Donated iPhones Are Shredded Every Year, by Jason Koebler, Motherboard

Activation lock is a topic that I’ve heard about regularly from people in the independent repair world, and Wednesday, the Colorado PIRG Foundation (CoPIRG), a consumer rights group, published a report that found one single recycling company in the state has had to scrap more than 66,000 otherwise reusable or easily repairable iPhones in the last three years because iCloud lock was enabled on devices that had been donated by their owners.

“While activation lock is intended to deter thieves by making stolen phones unusable and therefore not worth stealing in the first place, it has also resulted in making a surprisingly high number of donated or handed down phones unusable, having negative impacts on our environment and the used phone marketplace,” the report reads.

The iTunes Break Up: What Will Happen To Our Favorite Features?, by Dan Moren, Macworld

Calls for iTunes's breakup go back years (including me), but now that it seems to be on the verge of happening, it's worth considering the things that iTunes actually does well and which deserve to stick around.

Homeland Security Warns Of Security Flaws In Enterprise VPN Apps, by Zack Whittaker, TechCrunch

The VPN apps built by four vendors — Cisco, Palo Alto Networks, Pulse Secure, and F5 Networks — improperly store authentication tokens and session cookies on a user’s computer. These aren’t your traditional consumer VPN apps used to protect your privacy, but enterprise VPN apps that are typically rolled out by a company’s IT staff to allow remote workers to access resources on a company’s network.

The apps generate tokens from a user’s password and stored on their computer to keep the user logged in without having to reenter their password every time. But if stolen, these tokens can allow access to that user’s account without needing their password.

Stuff

Fear And Nagging: How The Apple Watch Annoys You Into Getting Active And Losing Weight, by Malcolm Owen, AppleInsider

The Apple Watch is well known for its ability to keep track of a person's activity throughout the day, but its greatest weapons in getting users to move around more are not the monitoring, nor its rings, but the constant nagging and it fostering a compulsion to work out.

Apple News+ Is A Total Mess, by Adam Clark Estes, Gizmodo

Right now, the service feels half-baked, and using it is full of frustrations. These include struggles with browsing content from the new Apple News+ partners as well as major problems reading that content, some of which is nothing more than PDFs of magazine pages that don’t display well on small screens. What’s more frustrating is that the paid Apple News+ subscription does not appear to give you full digital access to all of the participating publications.

Why Mac Users Need The PCalc App, by Erik Eckel, TechRepublic

Whether you're balancing a budget, calculating interest, forecasting profit or loss, or performing more complex mathematical operations, as is common for scientific, financial, industrial, engineering, and programming professionals, PCalc's functionality goes far beyond that of the macOS Calculator. In addition to offering the same scientific, programming, Reverse Polish Notation (RPN) mode, and so-called paper tape capabilities as Calculator, PCalc adds a litany of complex functions.

How To Live With A Mac Mini Or MacBook Air With A Small Internal Drive, by William Gallagher, AppleInsider

On the one hand, though, that SSD is going to make your Mac feel faster than ever. If you have a Mac with a small drive —or one with just a lot less than you're used to —then you're going to have to change how you use that machine. There are, as ever, apps that can help you. There are settings that will be of use.

More than anything, however, you're going to need discipline.

Develop

Great Developers Are Raised, Not Hired, by Eduards Sizovs, The Principal Developer

Today, companies create ridiculously complicated multi-step interview processes that filter out candidates that are “not good enough.” We rarely give an opportunity to candidates spoiled by shitty companies and bad influence. We forget that some candidates weren’t lucky enough to meet an inspiring mentor or work in a supportive team. Broken toys are not welcome.

Notes

Disney+ Just Put A Lot Of Pressure On Apple's Streaming Video Service, by Kif Leswing, CNBC

Apple said last month that it will release its streaming video service, Apple TV+, this fall. The subscription service will include exclusive original shows, movies and documentaries produced by Apple. The company is spending billions of dollars on stars like Oprah Winfrey, Steve Carell, Jennifer Aniston and Steven Spielberg.

But no matter how well Apple's shows and movies end up being received, there's no way that it can compete with the lineup of content that Disney has assembled for Disney+, which will put pressure on Apple to undercut Disney's price or give its shows away for free.

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Dim sum for lunch, chicken wings for dinner. Code a little. Wrote a little. Answered a few Jeopardy! questions. (Actually: Questioned a few Jeopardy! answers.)

That's my weekend.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Second-Confirmation Edition Friday, April 12, 2019

Apple Adds Extra Confirmation Step When Purchasing Subscriptions In Apps, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

Adding a second confirmation screen to subscription purchases will thwart app developers who have been using nefarious tactics to trick users into purchasing subscriptions or making subscription costs and terms unclear.

When 2FA Isn't 2FA: How Apple's iCloud Authentication System Fails To Protect Your Account, by Michael Simon, Macworld

While it appears as though Apple has all of the 2FA bases covered, its proprietary system of trusted devices isn’t without its flaws. For one, it works best when you have more than one iOS device. Not only does it add an extra layer of protection by bringing a second device into the mix, it’s true 2FA, pairing something you know (your password) with something you have (your device).

But if you only have a single Apple device, you’re kind of out of luck, and that’s where the trouble starts.

Deep Catalog

Disney+ Streaming Service Will Be Available Starting Nov. 12 For $6.99 A Month, by Sarah Whitten, CNBC

Disney said Thursday it will roll out its much anticipated Disney+ video streaming service on Nov. 12, drawing a its deep catalog of content and offering up new shows featuring favorite characters from "Monsters Inc." to Marvel to "Star Wars."

[...]

Disney+ will debut in the United States, but the company said it "plans to be in nearly all major regions of the world within the next two years."

Apple's TV Box Will Probably Get Disney+, Despite Rival Platform, by Anousha Sakoui, Bloomberg

The new Disney+ app will “in all likelihood be available through traditional app distributors, Apple being one of them,” Disney chief Bob Iger said in an interview with Bloomberg Television’s Emily Chang. While the studio behind “Star Wars” and Marvel movies said during an earlier presentation that consumers will be able to subscribe on Roku and PlayStation, it held back from naming others.

Disney didn’t make announcements about other platforms because they “haven’t made deals with all of them yet,” Iger said. He also suggested that he isn’t planning to step down from the Apple board despite the companies going head-to-head in streaming.

Stuff

iPad Mini (2019) Review: The Best Small Tablet, But Not For Everyone, by Alex Kidman, Finder

You're not awash with high quality choices when it comes to small tablets, and within that context, the Apple iPad Mini 2019 stands truly alone and at the top of the pile. Most of the other small tablet options are budget devices with nowhere near the design flair or power of the iPad Mini 2019.

However, if you look at it from the context of Apple's existing iPad line-up, I think it's a much less compelling proposition.

Notes

Amazon Workers Are Listening To What You Tell Alexa, by Matt Day, Bloomberg

Amazon.com Inc. employs thousands of people around the world to help improve the Alexa digital assistant powering its line of Echo speakers. The team listens to voice recordings captured in Echo owners’ homes and offices. The recordings are transcribed, annotated and then fed back into the software as part of an effort to eliminate gaps in Alexa’s understanding of human speech and help it better respond to commands.

The Alexa voice review process, described by seven people who have worked on the program, highlights the often-overlooked human role in training software algorithms. In marketing materials Amazon says Alexa “lives in the cloud and is always getting smarter.” But like many software tools built to learn from experience, humans are doing some of the teaching.

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Question: Are Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, fine residents of Toontown, in Disney+ too?

Question: Where are the Muppets?

~

Thanks for reading.

The First-by-Mouth Edition Thursday, April 11, 2019

I Didn’t Write This Column. I Spoke It., by Farhad Manjoo, New York Times

Writing by speaking has quietly revolutionized how I work. It has made my writing more conversational and less precious. More amazingly, it has expanded my canvas: I can now write the way street photographers shoot — out in the world, whenever the muse strikes me (or more likely, when I’m loafing around, procrastinating on some other piece of writing). Most of my recent columns, including large portions of this one, were written this way: first by mouth, not fingers.

There is something more interesting here than a newspaper columnist’s life hack. I began writing-by-speaking as part of a deeper exploration into living inside what I call the “screenless internet” — which may well become the internet of tomorrow, for better and worse.

Apple's Latest 'Shot On iPhone XS' Video Features Toronto Maple Leafs Stars Auston Matthews And Mitch Marner, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

Apple has shared a new "Shot on iPhone XS" video featuring Toronto Maple Leafs stars Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner on its YouTube channel in the U.S. and Canada, just in time for the start of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs tonight.

iPhone Assembler Foxconn And Other Apple Suppliers Pledge To Use 100% Renewable Energy, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

Apple today announced it has nearly doubled the number of suppliers that have committed to run their Apple-specific production on 100 percent renewable energy, bringing the total number to 44.

Stuff

Apple Podcasts Now Supports Web Playback, Episode Pages, More, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Apple this week has overhauled the web interface for Apple Podcasts. The new design is much cleaner and easier to navigate, while also offering support for playback, individual episode details, and more.

2019 iMac Review: The Best Of A Bygone Era, by Jason Snell, Six Colors

I’ve got to think that Apple has a bigger iMac redesign in the offing, but that it’s not ready to make that step right now—perhaps because of price issues involving SSD storage, perhaps because of other forthcoming changes to the Mac platform that require them to hold that design back. But it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which the 2019 iMac doesn’t feel like a relic of a previous era a lot sooner than you might expect. This is the last hurrah of the old iMac, not the first step into a new era.

Footpath Custom Navigation App For Runners And Cyclists Launches Audio Guidance With AirPods Double-tap Support, by Michael Potuck, 9to5Mac

It is specifically designed for cyclists, runners, and walkers and makes it easy to create custom navigation routes that traditional navigation apps can’t do. It also offers an offline mode to save battery, which is especially convenient for saved routes that you regularly run or bike.

YouTube TV Costs App Store Subscribers Extra, by Ed Hardy, Cult of Mac

The monthly YouTube TV subscription fee is going up to $49.99. And it will be even higher for those who pay for this streaming video service via the Apple App Store.

This is apparently YouTube’s way of partially offsetting the cut Apple takes from all subscription fees. And it’s something other companies might emulate.

Develop

The Key To Loving Your Job In The Age Of Burnout, by Cassie Werber, Quartz

“I can’t think what would cause me to leave” was a common sentiment noted by the researchers, who surveyed almost 1,000 zookeepers, and conducted in-depth interviews with many of them. But the fact that the keepers had found and followed a calling was a double-edged sword. Doing what they did for love also meant putting up with poor conditions and potentially being exploited.

Some of us, like the zookeepers, get a lot of fulfillment out of what we do for a living. In many jobs, however, the connection between our work and the meaning we derive from it is much less obvious. In some cases, the link is almost or completely severed—as in what anthropologist David Graeber has dubbed “bullshit jobs.” At the same time, we’re brought up to believe that work—not the church, the state, or even the family—is the fountainhead from which our sense of meaning should spring.

Notes

VA Turns To App Developers To Overcome Legacy Tech, by Jack Corrigan, Nextgov

“We’re in discussions with other vendors, and there’s more to come,” he said Wednesday at the ACT-IAC Health Innovation Day. “We want to partner more with the rest of the [developer] community. There’s a really bright future with respect to apps, app development and helping veterans and others access our legacy systems.”

Some Apps Use Design To Trick You Into Sharing Data. A New Bill Would Make That Illegal., by Kaitlyn Tiffany, Vox

Sens. Mark Warner (D-VA) and Deb Fischer (R-NE) introduced a bipartisan bill on Tuesday that would make this type of design illegal, affecting any social media platform with more than 100 million monthly active users. Any user interfaces that are designed to hide or gloss over the personal data you’re consenting to share will no longer be allowed.

The bill demands that disclosures of personal data collection be “clear, conspicuous, context-appropriate, and easily accessible” and not “deceptively obscured.”

Your Brain Probably Is A Computer, Whatever That Means, by Kevin Lande, Aeon

If it were a metaphor to say that the brain is a computer, then we would expect the claim to be literally false. This checks out with the point that our brains aren’t organised, like PCs, into silicon-based hard drives, RAMs and CPUs. We would also expect it to be difficult to flesh out exactly what we mean when we say that the brain is a computer. The value of the claim, were it a metaphor, would have to lie in whether it suggests the right things to attend to, whether it calls to mind fruitful associations, and whether it succeeds in bringing some coordination to the cognitive sciences. Some think that the supposed metaphor succeeds on these counts, while others think it fails and has poisoned the well of cognitive-science research.

But the claim that the brain is a computer is not just a metaphor. The cognitive sciences are full of hypotheses to the effect that the brain computes such-and-such in so-and-so a way. Many of our perceptual capacities, for example, are understood in computational terms, and there aren’t any viable alternatives around.

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Went to a tech conference. Sat through a whole bunch of talks. Gobble up a whole bunch of free food.

Free good food is definitely better all those free USB drives of yore.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Unforgiving-Landscape-of-Productivity Edition Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Apple Drops $99 Data Migration Fee For New Macs And Repairs, by Adam Engst, TidBITS

Apple has dropped the $99 fee that it previously charged for migrating data from an old Mac to a newly purchased machine. TidBITS reader and TekBasics consultant David Price wrote to tell us that he has generally advised clients to pay Apple to migrate data to newly purchased Macs, but when he accompanied his brother-in-law to pick up a freshly migrated iMac last week, Apple informed him that there was no charge for the service.

AirPods Might Not Like Busy City Streets, by Luke Dormehl, Cult of Mac

Some users on Twitter have been observing that their AirPods can be prone to cutting in and out, or occasionally producing static sounds. The reason? Bluetooth interference. This can come from having the signal blocked by physical barriers. It could also be due to using a frequency that’s too overcrowded.

Busy Doing Nothing, by Megan Marz, The Baffler

Like diet books, published and read in a steady stream despite—or thanks to—their near-total ineffectuality, manuals like Digital Minimalism (2019) and How to Break Up with Your Phone (2018) seem destined to appear year after year. Readers seek reprieve. They find individualized solutions ill-suited to breaking the habits that big technology companies have built into systems. It’s a recipe for recidivism.

But what’s the alternative? Artist and writer Jenny Odell suggests: nothing. Her new book, How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy, looks at first glance like another contribution to the literature of digital detox. But Odell deliberately positions herself against this tradition. “All too often, things like digital detox retreats are marketed as a kind of ‘life hack’ for increasing productivity,” she writes. The result is a loop, in which a step away from your devices doubles as a step toward using them more efficiently, often for the ultimate benefit of bosses and shareholders. For Odell, “doing nothing” means breaking this cycle by resisting both the social media-driven “attention economy” and the “unforgiving landscape of productivity.”

Stuff

Apple Promotes Apple Watch Customization With New ‘More Powerful, More Colorful’ Video, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

In a new video shared to YouTube today, Apple touts that the Apple Watch Series 4 is “more powerful and more colorful.” The video comes in at 15 seconds long and quickly runs through various Apple Watch bands and casing options.

Apple Kicking Off New Apple Watch Fitness Challenge On Earth Day, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

Apple's next Activity Challenge for Apple Watch owners will take place on Earth Day, which falls on Monday, April 22. Apple Watch users will be able to earn the Earth Day 2019 badge by doing any workout for 30 minutes or more.

Hands On: Pixelmator Photo Is King Of The iPad Photo Editing Apps, by Andrew O'Hara, AppleInsider

We love the layout, the abilities, and the amazing performance for such a low price. Editing on our tablet is much more convenient than always sitting down at our computer. In iOS 12, Apple really improved the camera import flow which makes getting photos from your shooter to your tablet all the easier.

Review: Logitech's Slim Folio Pro Offers A Lower-Cost Alternative To Apple's Smart Keyboard Folio For iPad Pro, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

The Logitech Slim Folio Pro is a more affordable alternative to the Smart Keyboard Folio that for most people, is going to provide a better typing experience because the keys aren't as thin and flat.

The keyboard itself is excellent, but because this is a folio case, it has the major downside of being bulky.

Develop

How To Get Bugs Fixed By Apple - Code. Cook. Read., by Greg Scown, Code Cook Read

Filing good bugs is time-consuming, as is making good, reproducible, reductive cases. Do that, then don’t forget about the follow-up. Don’t just throw it over the wall and think it will magically get the attention you expect it deserves. Advocate for your bug, and you’ll increase the odds it gets fixed.

The Efficiency Delusion, by Evan Selinger, Medium

Different coders often told me the same story from school, a moment when the efficiency lightbulb went off. As kids, they’d be in math class, hating to have to show all their work. It was always some boring question they knew the answer to at a glance but were forced to write up in multiple steps. So, they all were like, “Let me just write a solver,” in whatever language they were using. They’d type in the equation and, boom, a machine outputs all the different steps without them having to do all of the work.

After this success, a realization set in: “Wow, my life is filled with dull, repetitive tasks. And I now know how to instruct a machine to do boring chores. So, I should hand them over.” A kind of thrill in optimizing is born.

The Case For Crying At Work, by Sarah Todd, Quartz

What managers should do is signal that it’s okay to be emotional. “That actually helps dissipate the emotion,” Davey notes. “Take a moment to say, ‘I need to understand this and how you’re experiencing this,’ showing curiosity, and where possible saying, ‘I’m so glad you shared that with me’ or ‘I didn’t realize that.’” This makes the other person feel heard, which is what most of us want, at work or anywhere else.

Once you’ve given the other person the opportunity to explain the problem as they see it, Davey says, it’s time to start leading the conversation toward constructive next steps. She recommends asking, “Where do we go from here?” or “How do we make it better?”

Notes

Next Major macOS Version Will Include Standalone Music, Podcasts, And TV Apps, Books App Gets Major Redesign, by Guilherme Rambo, 9to5Mac

Fellow developer Steve Troughton-Smith recently expressed confidence about some evidence found indicating that Apple is working on new Music, Podcasts, and perhaps Books apps for macOS, to join the new TV app.

I’ve been able to independently confirm that this is true. On top of that, I’ve been able to confirm with sources familiar with the development of the next major version of macOS – likely 10.15 – that the system will include standalone Music, Podcasts, and TV apps, but it will also include a major redesign of the Books app. We also got an exclusive look at the icons for the new Podcasts and TV apps on macOS.

Apple To Unlock iPhone NFC To Read Secure Data From Passports, by NFC World

Apple will expand the iPhone’s NFC chip reading capabilities before the end of 2019 so that it can be used to read data stored in security chips like those used in passports, according to comments made by the UK government.

The UK Home Office has been in talks with Apple to extend the capability of the NFC chip to reading passports so that a smartphone app used to verify the identity of EU citizens applying to continue to live in the UK after it leaves the EU can be used on iPhones.

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If I recall correctly, most of the old iPods does support FairPlay as well as media rentals. Which means that Apple can still somehow update iPod firmware to support the new landscape of Apple Music and Apple TV+?

Of course, even if Apple can, it will not. After all, how many of us will not subscribe to Apple's services if our iPods are not supported?

~

Will the rumored new iPod Touch be an Apple Service machine?

~

Thanks for reading.

The Open-in-News Edition Tuesday, April 9, 2019

How To Read Any Paywalled Article From The Wall Street Journal Using Apple News+, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

Tap on the "Share" icon at the top of the browser. [...] Choose the "Open in News" option.

That's all you have to do. Once you tap "Open in News," the full article from The Wall Street Journal is accessible and can be read in its entirety through your included Apple News+ subscription.

'Exodus' Spyware Posed As A Legit iOS App, by Lily Hay Newman, Wired

Mobile users can take precautions to try to avoid spyware by staying vigilant about avoiding phishing links and sticking to mainstream apps downloaded directly from Google Play or Apple’s App Store. But Exodus’s presence on both platforms shows just how difficult it is in practice to skirt insidious, well-crafted spyware. And unfortunately, there’s more and more of it out there all the time.

Stuff

Pixelmator Photo: The MacStories Review, by John Voorhees, MacStories

The Pixelmator team has released Pixelmator Photo, a pro-level photo editing tool that couples the core functionality of Pixelmator Pro for the Mac with the strengths of the iPad. The result, though not without a few caveats, is a sophisticated set of image editing tools wrapped in a straightforward UI that, with its support for RAW and other image formats, makes Pixelmator Photo my new favorite photo editor.

HoudahSpot 5 Review: Advanced File Search And Filtering On The Mac, by John Voorhees, MacStories

The app surfaces Spotlight’s advanced file search functionality and couples it with its own layer of tools to extend what Spotlight can do. With version 5, the app has been reexamined from top to bottom adding new features and refining the entire experience. The result is a terrific update that maintains HoudahSpot’s position as one of the premier pro utilities on the Mac.

The risk of surfacing the complexities of Spotlight is producing an app that is frustrating and difficult to use. HoudahSpot avoids that problem by using a familiar multi-pane window approach that provides a sensible flow through the search process.

How To Use ForkLift 3 To Manage Files Using macOS, by Erik Eckel, TechRepublic

In addition to boasting two file management panes, which significantly speeds the process of copying and moving files by permitting simple drag-and-drop operations without first having to open another Finder window, the program packs numerous customizable preferences, the ability to transfer files using FTP, and file previews for both local and remotely stored files.

Vimeo For macOS Gains Automatic Video Uploading From Mac Desktop, by Mitchel Broussard, MacRumors

Vimeo today updated its macOS app with automatic uploading, giving its users a way to quickly and securely back up and bulk upload video files directly to Vimeo.

Develop

Notarization Required For Mac Apps Created With New Developer IDs Starting In macOS 10.14.5, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

Notarization is a new concept introduced in macOS Mojave for apps distributed outside of the Mac App Store with the aim of protecting users from malicious Mac apps.

Mac app developers are encouraged to submit their apps to Apple to be notarized, and an Apple-notarized app includes a more streamlined Gatekeeper dialog to reassure users that an app is not known malware.

Notes

Apple’s Long Journey To The Workplace, by Ken Segall

Apple’s message is that its products can help you make the most of your company’s talents.

The ad also acknowledges that there is no “business as usual” for a new generation of entrepreneurial companies. In that sense it strikes a chord, even if our own business doesn’t look like the one we’re watching.

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Apple, it seems to me, is working on a different security path for macOS, and not exactly the sandbox model of iOS. This sounds great to me. I really like how I don't have to think twice before installing a new app on my iPhone and iPad. I hope I can get the same sense of security on my Mac too.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Haven't-Heard-That Edition Monday, April 8, 2019

MacBooks Still Have Keyboard Problems? I Went To Two Apple Stores To Find Out, by Chris Matyszczyk, ZDNet

I began: "I hear people are complaining that these keyboards get dust inside them and start playing up."

"Mine doesn't," said the saleswoman.

I've heard some sales rap in my years. This was a new level of disarming.

"Ah, good. Well, I've been reading that some people are saying that their keys are behaving erratically."

"I haven't heard that," she replied.

My Quest To Find Vox’s New Apple News Plus Vertical: A UX Parable In ∞ Parts, by Joshua Benton, Nieman Lab

Apple bought Texture a full year ago, which meant its engineers and designers had a full year to figure out how to fit, say, individual articles from digital-native and newspaper news sources in amongst the newsstand-ready PDFs. At least in 1.0, they haven’t pulled it off.

Stuff

Apple 27-inch iMac (2019): No New Ground, But Welcome CPU And GPU Upgrades, by Cliff Joseph, ZDNet

The overlap between the iMac and iMac Pro ranges is a little puzzling, but the improved performance of the 2019 iMac will be welcomed by owners of older Mac models who have eyed the iMac Pro with envy and empty pockets. The iMac Pro – with up to 18 cores in its Xeon processor – will still be more adept at workstation-level tasks, such as 3D animation or editing multiple streams of 4K video. But for many professional users in fields such as video, design and audio, the 2019 edition of the standard 27-inch iMac will be a very welcome upgrade.

Develop

A Deceptively Simple Way To Find More Happiness At Work, by Tim Herrera, New York Times

Rather than trying to get better at things you hate doing and know you’re not great at, reframe the issue and try to do more things that energize you and that you excel at. No one can tell you what those things are, and discovering them can be transformative.

Why ‘Worthless’ Humanities Degrees May Set You Up For Life, by Amanda Ruggeri, BBC

“In most areas that I can see, the employer just wants to know that you’ve been to college and you’ve done well. That’s why I think doing something that really interests you is essential – because that’s when you’re going to do well,” she says.

No matter what, making a degree or career path decision based on average salaries isn’t a good move. “Financial success is not a good reason. It tends to be a very poor reason,” Mangan says. “Be successful at something and money will follow, as opposed to the other way around. Focus on doing the stuff that you love that you’ll be so enthusiastic about, people will want to give you a job. Then go and develop within that job.”

Programming: Doing It More Vs. Doing It Better, by Kevin Martin Jose

So the secret sauce that makes good code great and the average Joe the next 10x programmer might be this – diligence exercised over a long time.

Notes

The Future Of News Is Conversation In Small Groups With Trusted Voices, by Chikai Ohazama, TechCrunch

I think this is where we are heading with our daily news consumption — private groups, only the highest quality, curated by experts that we trust. You can see this change already happening in people’s behavior, partly in reaction to recent events, but also because people are starting to educate themselves on how all of this technology works and what it means to them personally.

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If Steve Jobs can give away iPhone cases just because some of us are holding the phone wrong, the current (and by current, we're talking of a few years' timespan) effort by Apple in dealing with the keyboard situation seems woefully inadequate.

Just like an entire generation of Windows customers believe that operating systems need to be totally reinstalled every year, an entire generation of Mac customers probably now believe that a can of compressed air is an essential tool for every household.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Without-Text Edition Sunday, April 7, 2019

Three Men Who Don’t Own A Smartphone, by Adam Elder, MEL

Imagine for a second that you lived life without all your texts, your favorite apps and the internet in your hands. Now, stop imagining because we asked three guys who don’t have a smartphone (or at least tried not to have one) so you don’t have to pretend you still have an imagination after years of smartphone abuse.

£1m Tablet Rollout Brings Scotland's iCourts Into 21st Century, by Peter Swindon, Sunday Post

Deputes can now upload information about a case to an iPad app and send it to the Procurator Fiscal’s office straight away using a secure wifi system.

It means there is no need to carry hundreds of paper files between courts, reducing security risks.

Netflix Confirms It Killed AirPlay Support, Won’t Let You Beam Shows To Apple TVs Anymore, by Sean Hollister, The Verge

You see, Apple recently partnered with most of the major TV brands to allow AirPlay 2 to send shows directly to their 2019 TV sets with a firmware update later this year, but a Netflix spokeperson tells me AirPlay 2 doesn’t have digital identifiers to let Netflix tell those TVs apart — and so the company can’t certify its users are getting the best Netflix experience when casting to those new sets.

So now, it’s throwing out the baby with the bathwater and pulling the plug on AirPlay, period. “We can’t distinguish which device is which, we can’t actually certify the devices... so we’ve had to just shut down support for it,” a Netflix spokesperson says.

Stuff

New Adobe Creative Cloud Video Editing Applications Now Dramatically Boosted By eGPU, by Mike Wuerthele, AppleInsider

Sonnet and Adobe have announced that the new releases of Adobe Premiere Pro, After Effects, and Adobe Media Encoder —all part of Adobe Creative Cloud —now take advantage of Thunderbolt-connected eGPUs to enhance their performance.

The One Trick Everyone Needs For Canceling Free Trials, by Philip Michaels, Tom's Guide

Fortunately, you don't have to depend entirely on your unreliable memory to put an end to any free trial before the billing cycle kicks in. There's a trick I use anytime I sign up for a free trial, and it's right there on my smartphone.

Both Android and iOS devices are equipped with reminder tools that are easily accessible via digital assistants. When I sign up for a free trial, I immediately create a reminder on my phone — and I don't have to use anything other than my voice.

How To Be Smart About Applying Apple Updates, by Jeff Carlson, The Seattle Times

In one case, his sole credit card disappeared from the Wallet app on his iPhone, with a message that he’d reached the maximum number of cards. In the other case, the friend’s iPhone XR has turned into a sluggish mess, taking 30 seconds just to start up the camera.

[...]

It’s important to remember that in most cases, these are the outliers. I updated on the day iOS 12.2 was released and experienced no issues on my iPhone XS. But Apple’s updates go out to millions of devices and computers, so even if a statistically small number of updates go wrong, that’s still a large number.

Develop

You Are Not As Good At Kissing As You Think. But You Are Better At Dancing., by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, New york Times

Some of the early work on confidence presented a picture of human beings as comically cocky. Most people, we were told, walked around falsely convinced that they were better than other people. This new research gives us a more nuanced picture.

Sure, many people still traipse around deluded that they outshine others in their driving on non-icy roads, vegetable-chopping and cuddling. But when they imagine doing something difficult or something that they haven’t tried before, people tend to be timid and doubtful of their capabilities. When they go outside their comfort zone, people systematically sell themselves short.

Notes

It’s Your iPhone. Why Can’t You Fix It Yourself?, by New York Times

The company is welcome to persuade people to patronize its own repair facilities, or to buy new iPhones. But there ought to be a law against forcing the issue.

An open marketplace for repairs benefits consumers, independent retailers and the environment. Modern devices are increasingly complicated; that concept is not.

Here Are The Gender Pay Gaps At Apple, Facebook And Google, by Will Bedingfield, Wired

Apple’s figures from last year revealed that women earned a median of 76p for every £1 men earned. Women at Apple were also less likely to receive a bonus than men – 88 per cent got a bonus compared to 94 per cent of men. Those bonuses were also significantly lower, 57 per cent, on the median. This year the median pay gap has fallen to 15 per cent (85p to every £1). A gap remained between bonus pay, only 85 per cent of women received a bonus compared to 93 per cent of men. In terms of bonus pay, Apple has a 42 per cent median difference between men and women.

The Applicable-to-Accessibility Edition Saturday, April 6, 2019

Apple Shares New 'Shot On iPhone XS' Video Exploring The Cuban Surfing Community, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

Apple says the short film provides "a glimpse into the Cuban surf community and a new era within the island nation" and "explores the humble beginnings of the movement and how interest in surfing is building in the country."

Three Things About Apple's New Services That Matter For Accessibility, by Steven Aquino, iMore

At first blush, Apple's star-studded media event seemingly had little to do with accessibility. Apple Card, Apple News Plus, and Apple TV Plus, and Apple Arcade all are services, which unlike new iPhones or new operating systems, aren't as easy to pick apart from a disability point of view. Apple is getting into the credit card business, after all.

As I watched Apple's presentation from the audience in the Steve Jobs Theater, however, the proverbial lightbulbs kept going on in my head. (Which amused me if only because of how fitting it seemed to have metaphorical lights going off in my mind while covering an event stuffed to the brim with Hollywood A-listers.) It occurred to me several of Apple's announcements were, in fact, applicable to accessibility.

Stuff

Things 3, by Lloyd Coombes, The Digital Fix

On an anecdotal level, I know fellow writers and self-employed business owners that swear by it, and I'm pleased to say I've joined their ranks. After using Things 3, I think I'd find it incredibly difficult to go back to not using it - there are cheaper alternatives, but nothing comes close to its relaxed, clean approach to task management.

Ember Launches Larger Capacity 14oz Ceramic Mug, Available From Apple, by Mitchel Broussard, MacRumors

The main feature of the Ceramic Mug is that it lets you set a specific drinking temperature for your coffee or tea via the iPhone app. Over the course of a few minutes, the mug will lower its internal temperature to that setting, and then keep your drink at your desired level of warmth while you drink it.

Netflix’s iOS App No Longer Works With Apple AirPlay, by Todd Spangler, Variety

Netflix’s iOS app loss of AirPlay support could be due to a broader business disagreement between the two companies — as Apple is gearing up to compete head-to-head with Netflix.

Develop

I Let A Stranger Watch Me Work For A Day — And I've Never Been More Productive, by Isabelle Kohn, MEL

The whole thing seemed interesting, but I had some reservations. Wouldn’t it be awkward having someone else watch you work? What was with the precision instructions? And most importantly, was it all just a front for a random webcam chat site like Chatroulette?

As I pondered these questions, I noticed a claim Focusmate made on their homepage: “Focusmate virtual co-working harnesses pillars of psychology proven to boost productivity 200-300 percent.” Two hundred to three hundred percent? I gawked, suddenly hopeful this weird co-working website could become my surrogate office. The only question that remained was, “Where do I sign?”

Notes

'Everything Is Well Thought Out': How The Apple Store Has Become A Template For Retailers, by Suman Bhattacharyya, DigiDay

At a distance, McDonald’s 19,000 square-foot flagship location in Chicago could be mistaken for an Apple store. Its boxy, glass-paneled design, and its airy, minimalistic look and feel, combined with modern-looking furniture, offer some clues as to what might have inspired the design. The company is calling it an “Experience of the Future” store, a format that inspired 4,500 store renovations last year, and it plans to grow the concept.

Other retailers are drawing inspiration from Apple’s store model. Apple has built a retail template other stores can borrow from: neat minimal stores with personalized service and experiences, including events and classes. It’s become the default setting for store design makeovers.

Amazon Bought Eero For $97M And Employees Still Got Screwed, by Rachel Kraus, Mashable

When Amazon announced a deal to acquire Eero, the maker of a groundbreaking WiFi system, it sounded like a classic Silicon Valley success story: a promising startup is acquired by the biggest bidder in the land, and everyone rolls around in cash. But that is not this story. This story is about investors losing tens of millions of dollars and dozens of employees left with meaningless stock.

The Return-to-the-App-Store Edition Friday, April 5, 2019

BBEdit Returns To The Mac App Store After 4+ Year Absence, by Ryan Christoffel, MacStories

BBEdit 12, the latest version of the popular writing app for macOS, features more than three hundred new features and refinements since the app was last available on the Mac App Store. It also introduces a new pricing model: unlike direct purchases from Bare Bones Software, where an app license can (still) be purchased for a one-time $49.99 cost, on the Mac App Store BBEdit is available only as a subscription.

How To Tap Less On Your Phone (But Get More Done), by David Pogue, New York Times

Yes, eliminating the keys and buttons left a bigger canvas for displaying apps. But it also eliminated the keys and buttons. As a result, almost every smartphone task now requires tapping on glass. Typing text, correcting errors. Entering numbers, correcting errors. Changing settings, correcting errors.

Over the years, Apple and Google have put enormous effort into reducing the tap tally for tedious tasks. With each software update, we get more features that streamline the steps.

The iPad Cops Keeping Us Safer, by Mark Furler, Queensland Times

"Today, iPad mini is an integral tool to help our front-line officers make smarter, safer decisions. By accessing critical information, assessing risks, conducting searches and issuing infringements in the field in real time, our officers can spend more time in the community and less time at their desks doing paperwork.

"For Queensland Police, iPad mini was almost a no brainer. The built-in security of iOS meets our strict requirements, and the mini's compact size allows our officers to be truly mobile... our officers like the iPad mini so much that we redesigned their uniform, adding a custom pocket to allow them to quickly secure their device."

Town Squares

Apple Store Plans Shelved After Heritage Authorities Say 'No', by Clay Lucas, Sydney Morning Herald

A plan to build an Apple store at Federation Square has been shelved, after heritage authorities refused an application to demolish part of the existing square.

Apple will not proceed with its plan, and the Andrews government will now review the operation of Federation Square.

I Respect Apple’s Intentions With Its ‘Town Squares’ Concept, But Share Public Unease, by Ben Lovejoy, 9to5Mac

So much as I respect Apple’s vision, I do think that public spaces should be genuinely public. And that’s something the company can easily achieve simply by creating the areas and then handing over ownership to the city. In that way, they truly would be town squares.

Stuff

Apple iPad Air Review (2019): Just Right, by Nathan Ingraham, Engadget

After a week with the iPad Air, I'm convinced it's the best iPad for most people. It offers clear and significant benefits over the standard iPad, including double the storage, a much better screen and support for the smart keyboard -- while still being affordable. The iPad Pro is a stunning piece of hardware that is simply too expensive for a lot of potential buyers. The iPad Air, on the other hand, nimbly toes the line between Apple's basic tablet and the Pro lineup. If the iPad Pro is Apple's vision for the future of computing, the iPad Air is a device meant right now, with a price point and feature set that'll make almost anyone happy. It's the Goldilocks iPad: just right.

Sketch, by Shelby Putnam Tupper, PC Magazine

Sketch is a full-fledged tool born for designers who create screen-based design experiences, and it does this masterfully. With its familiar (for Mac users), intuitive interface and easy cross-collaboration between designers and their clients, Sketch has earned its sound reputation as the go-to prototyping tool, because it facilitates and expedites the design validation and approval process.

Best Lightning Cables: Top-notch Cables That Are Meant To Last, by Sarah Jacobsson Purewal, Macworld

You only get one Lightning cable with your phone (and it’s probably already broken), so you’re going to need to stock up—but not at the Apple store. We tested 10 Apple-approved Lightning cables over the course of a month to figure out where you should spend your money. Read on to find out which cable is the best, and what we thought of the others.

PageTurn Uses Facial Recognition For Hands-Free Navigation Of PDFs, Perfect For Musicians, by Ryan Christoffel, MacStories

The aptly-named PageTurn utilizes the power of the TrueDepth camera system found in all iOS devices that support Face ID – the iPhone X, XR, XS, and XS Max, plus the 2018 iPad Pros – to enable turning pages of a PDF using only your face.

Luminar Flex Adds Plug-in Power For Photographers Used To Adobe, by David Pierini, Cult of Mac

Today, Skylum rolled out Luminar Flex, a plug-in it says will add its AI-powered features to photographers used to working with the Adobe suite.

Develop

Making Video Games Is Not A Dream Job, by Jason Schreier, New York Times

There’s only one way for these workers to push back against the way they’re exploited while franchises like Call of Duty churn out money for those at the very top: unionization.

Notes

Apple Store Barricade Highlights Apple’s Obsessive Attention To Detail, by Luke Dormehl, Cult of Mac

The latest example of this kind of obsessive perfectionism? That Apple reportedly insists that the tiny screw divots in its temporary Apple Store barricades are covered up. Because Apple.

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I guess Apple is now working on a charging mat that detects where your phones and watches and AirPod cases are, and move the charging coils to where the devices are.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Useful-for-Listening Edition Thursday, April 4, 2019

Beats $249 Powerbeats Pro Boast "Hey Siri" Support, Shipping In May, by Malcolm Owen, AppleInsider

Beats has launched its Powerbeats Pro wireless earphones, the brand's first foray into completely wire-free earphones that offers the same benefits of Apple's AirPods but in a design that is more useful for listening while working out or playing sports.

I Fell In Love With AirPods, Then They Fell Down The Drain, by Daniel Van Boom, CNET

I know what you're thinking, and yes, I am willing to risk an ear infection by using a gummed-up, drainpipe AirPod. Nothing a damp paper towel can't fix. I was reunited with my AirPod after nearly 12 hours apart. Best Friday night of my life.

Apple Cuts Price Of HomePod Worldwide, Now $299 At The US Apple Store, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

This price cut represents a roughly 15% drop and seemingly applies to every region, not just the US.

Stuff

Pro Or No? How The High-end 2019 iMac Measures Up, by Jason Snell, Macworld

What this all suggests is that the iMac Pro is exactly what Apple says it is—a high-end iMac with a whole bunch of special high-end features that’s most appropriate for people who use high-end professional apps that have been optimized for Apple’s professional Mac architecture. If that sounds like you, congratulations—you’re ready to take the leap across the iMac Pro gap. [...]

But if you’re not one of those people, if you don’t need all the added niceties and the extreme performance in pro apps, there’s good news. You can configure a 5K iMac with Intel’s latest and greatest ninth-generation Intel Core processors, a bunch of SSD storage, and a load of RAM, and have an iMac that matches or beats the iMac Pro on most tests… and walk away with $1,500 in your pocket.

Apple News From A Canadian Perspective, by Josh Ginter, The Sweet Setup

I’ve quickly learned what we Canadians (and the majority of the rest of the world, for that matter) have been missing over the last years — Apple News is one of the best additions to my news-reading workflows in a long, long time. Attention could be given to the reading layouts and designs of some publications, not to mention the horrid inability to properly share and save articles for later, but the current Apple News product feels like a major step in the right direction for those searching for wide-ranging, high-quality journalism.

How To Use Apple's Accessibility Features To Set Up An iPad For The Elderly Or Disabled, by William Gallagher, AppleInsider

Apple ships its iPads with very many ways to help make them usable for everyone, but there are certain features that are especially useful for older people who may not be familiar with technology, or have disabilities to consider.

Google Duplex Rolling Out To non-Pixel, iOS Devices In The US, by Damien Wilde, 9to5Google

Saying something along the lines of “Book a table for four people at [restaurant name] tomorrow night” triggers the Assistant to make the call using Duplex and notify you of the successful reservation.

Notes

Bad UI: MacOS 10.14’s Software Update Release Notes, by John Gruber, Daring Fireball

Worse, the text can’t be selected, so you can’t even copy and paste it into TextEdit or some other app to read it comfortably. They even have URLs at the bottom of the note, pointing to support pages on apple.com which contain even more details about the update — but the URLs aren’t clickable. Can’t copy them, can’t click them — the only way to actually open these URLs is to retype them manually.

Apple’s $9.7 Million Traffic-relief Offer Doesn’t Cut It With Cupertino , by Thy Vo, San Jose Mercury News

Although Apple is offering to spend $9.7 million for five bike and pedestrian improvement projects in Cupertino, the City Council suggested it expects a better traffic-relief proposal before not pursuing an employee head tax on local businesses.

“I have to say, I’m a little disappointed at the funding level,” Vice Mayor Liang Chao said at the council meeting Tuesday night. “When we were considering the tax, the city would have gotten $10 million in ongoing income,” Chao added.

The Pizza-Box Edition Wednesday, April 3, 2019

New Apple Ad Romanticizes The Beginnings Of Apple’s Circular Pizza Box, by Sean Hollister, The Verge

Apple made a pizza box? Yes indeed, and it makes a cameo appearance in a new 3-minute Apple commercial that the company uploaded to YouTube today, dubbed “Apple at Work — The Underdogs.” An ad that — completely unrelated to the pizza box — is one of the funnier Apple ads we’ve seen in a while.

The Easy Way To Create A Smart Home, by Tim McKeough, New York Times

“One of the advantages of these systems is that they’re light, from an infrastructure standpoint,” said Michael K. Chen, an architect in New York who has designed big-budget homes with automation systems requiring dedicated air-conditioned control rooms, as well as simpler homes with small-scale technology products from the likes of Nest, Sonos and Lutron.

“Basically, you don’t have to do a full-blown renovation,” said Silvia Kuhle, a partner at Standard Architecture in Los Angeles.

But there are now so many home-technology products available — capable of performing so many different tasks — that it can be difficult to figure out where to start. So we asked architects and technology experts for advice on how to do it yourself.

Why There Is So Little Left Of The Early Internet, by Stephen Dowling, BBC

Dame Wendy says archives and national libraries had experience saving books, newspapers and periodicals because print had been around so long. But the arrival of the internet – and how quickly it became a mass form of communication and expression – may have taken them by surprise. The attempts to archive the internet have, in many areas, been playing catch-up ever since. “The British Library had to have a copy of every local newspaper published,” she says. As the newspapers have gone from print to the Web, the archiving takes a different form. Are these websites as vital a resource as the papers which preceded them?

[...]

One major problem with trying to archive the internet is that it never sits still. Every minute – every second – more photos, blog posts, videos, news stories and comments are added to the pile. While digital storage has fallen drastically in price, archiving all this material still costs money. “Who’s going to pay for it?” asks Dame Wendy. “We produce so much more material than we used to.”

Stuff

New AirPods And Running With “Hey Siri”, by Zac Hall, 9to5Mac

Being in motion and activating Siri with a voice command without breaking your stride or worrying about where your wrist is positioned is just one less point of friction. I’ve had great luck with voice commands including starting specific workouts like a 30 minute outdoor run, increasing music playback volume, changing music, and checking alerts and messages from Apple Watch with “Hey Siri” on AirPods during outdoor runs.

Apple’s Clips iOS App Gets New Posters, Titles And Captions, And ClassKit Support, by Roman Loyola, Macworld

Clips is designed to let users create short videos, slideshows, and school projects that can be shared through Messages on iOS on social media.

Adobe Announces Updates For Premiere Pro, After Effects, Audition, And Character Animator, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

Ahead of the annual NAB media show, which kicks off on April 6, Adobe is launching its traditional spring update with new updates for Creative Cloud apps including Premiere Pro, After Effects, Audition, and Character Animator.

Develop

Efficient Software, by Brent Simmons, Inessential

Should we be thinking green as we’re programming? Is it pointless? I hope it’s not — and I think we should be thinking green with everything we do, including programming.

And, along the way, we might find we make software and websites (especially) that people like better, since they’re faster and lighter.

Notes

Media Companies Take A Big Gamble On Apple, by Edmund Lee, New York Times

Executives have been burned by their previous dealings with big tech companies. But Apple’s promise of a billion devices worldwide was too good to pass up. Even for Rupert Murdoch.

The Even-Higher Edition Tuesday, April 2, 2019

The MacBook Keyboard Fiasco Is Surely Worse Than Apple Thinks, by David Heinemeier Hansson, Signal v Noise

The fact is that many people simply do not contact Apple when their MacBook keyboards fail. They just live with an S key that stutters or a spacebar that intermittently gives double. Or they just start using an external keyboard. Apple never sees these cases, so it never counts in their statistics.

So here’s some anecdata for Apple. I sampled the people at Basecamp. Out of the 42 people using MacBooks at the company, a staggering 26% are dealing with keyboard issues right now!! And that’s just the people dealing with current keyboard issues. If you include all the people who used to have issues, but went through a repair or replacement process, the number would be even higher.

New Book Looks Inside Apple’s Legal Fight With The FBI, by Zack Whittaker, TechCrunch

A new biography of Apple chief executive Tim Cook out this month describes the moment — and the deliberations — after the FBI issued an unprecedented legal order demanding Apple undermines the security of its flagship product.

The new book, Tim Cook: The Genius Who Took Apple to the Next Level by Leander Kahney, offers a first-hand view from former staff about how Apple battled against the order, which Cook said would be “too dangerous” to comply with.

Alphabet And Apple Take Divergent Paths In Health, by Hannah Kuchler, Financial Times

Apple and Alphabet, two of the world’s largest technology companies, are taking divergent approaches in their efforts to revolutionise healthcare, as doctors, drug companies and regulators look to Silicon Valley to bring down the cost of clinical trials.

After Apple presented mixed results from a study designed to show that its Apple Watch could be used to detect heart problems, Verily — like Google, a subsidiary of Alphabet — has been opening up about its own effort to bring scientific rigour to the use of wearable devices for diagnosing health problems and testing treatments.

Messy But Good Enough

One Week With Apple News Plus: A Messy But Good-enough Netflix For Magazines, by Nick Statt, The Verge

Putting aside those broader economic compromises, I think it’s safe to say that for those who enjoy magazines, News Plus is a solid deal. If you’re content with just perusing individual issues as they get released, you’ll get your money’s worth if you read upwards of three or more publications per month. Since Apple is offering a free trial for the first month, it’s relatively easy to discover for yourself if this is a service you’ll really want to use in the long run.

But as the first bit of evidence of Apple’s renewed approach to software services, News Plus feels messy and inconsistent enough to cause some real concern about how the company’s similar TV and games offerings will shake out later this year. For the publications that aren’t currently participating in News Plus, I can’t see the initial state of this service convincing them to agree to Apple’s reportedly abysmal terms.

“Are We At A Party Or A Wake?”: Journalists Fear Apple News Is A Trojan Horse, by Joe Pompeo, Vanity Fair

It’s still too early to say whether Apple News+ will prove to be a blessing or a curse for the media business. “It feels to me a bit like Spotify in the early days,” said the editor of a prominent digital publication who is watching News+ closely, “where there’s not much money for publishers, the usage is not enormous, but it could eventually become this major revenue source and maker of brands, and potentially even of individual writers. But I don’t think it has the scale yet to make most publishers real money, given the economics and the product itself.”

But if the scale proves to be as irresistible as Apple believes it will be—the company has more than a billion devices in circulation worldwide and eventually plans to roll out News+ globally—the holdouts may come to see things differently. “I do not rule out that there will be an opportunity with one or more platforms,” the Times’s Levien told me, “in which we say, ‘Oh, this is really good for our business and for getting journalism to play a bigger role in many more peoples lives.’ Thus far, we have not seen something that makes us say that.”

Stuff

Logitech Debuts New Slim Folio Pro Keyboard Case For 2018 iPad Pro Models, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

The Slim Folio Pro is a folio-style case for the iPad Pro with a built-in backlit keyboard that's an alternative to the Smart Keyboard offered by Apple.

Logitech's Slim Folio Pro connects to the new iPad Pro models using a Bluetooth connection rather than through the Smart Connector, but the battery lasts for up to three months on a single charge so you shouldn't need to charge it often.

'What Music Should I Play?': In Battle Of Google, Alexa And Siri, Here's Who Answers Best, by Jefferson Graham, USA Today

I've been barking commands at the three main assistants over the weekend, and discovered that Amazon is further ahead in music, followed by, surprise, Apple's maligned Siri. Google, which is usually so smart, is actually kind of dumb when it comes to music and specifics, at least in comparison to competitors.

How To Get The Most Out Of The Apple Watch Heart Rate Features, by Jason Cipriani, CNET

One of the main selling points of the Apple Watch is how it can contribute to helping you live a healthier life by recording workouts, completing challenges or monitoring your heart's health.

For those who are just getting started with an Apple Watch, or those who have had one for a while but never used any of the heart rate features -- here's what you need to know.

How To Draw A Portrait With Apple Pencil, by Graham Bower, Cult of Mac

You only appreciate the true joy of owning one when you draw with it. So, why not follow this handy how-to guide and start sketching lifelike portraits of friends and family? It’s a really fun hobby.

Develop

Apple’s New Feature A Step Towards Digital Apartheid, by Hampus Sethfors, Axess Lab

So this feature lets web developers recognise when an assistive technology is active on the user’s device. Sounds great, right? Gives developers a chance to improve the user experience for people with disabilities.

But think a step further and you’ll realise that it’s actually a terrible idea.

Why?

Notes

Apple Signs California Initiative Promising To Narrow Gender Wage Gap, by Mikey Campbell, AppleInsider

Apple on Monday was announced as one of 13 inaugural corporate signatories to a state-led campaign that seeks to close the gender pay gap in California, an issue that impacts a range of industries across the nation including the high-paying tech sector.

Swiss Court Backs Swatch In 'Think Different' Row With Apple, by Reuters

Swatch had contended Apple’s Think Different was not known well enough in Switzerland to warrant protection.

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I do hope Apple TV Channel is flexible enough to support different business models. Free, perhaps ad-supported, channels? Or a movie channel that gives you some credits per month to redeem movies, similiar to an Audible subscription?

Oh, and we all suspect Apple will not be getting the TV app on Android. But, who knows, Apple TV+ may still be available on Android... perhaps as a channel in Amazon's app? Apple and Amazon seems to be doing all sorts of deals nowadays.

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If Apple were to add books to its news and magazine bundle, will the new service be known as Apple News++ then?

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Thanks for reading.

The Well-Qualified Edition Monday, April 1, 2019

Signing Up For Apple Card? Here's How You Check Your Credit Score, by Katie Conner, CNET

With the new Apple Card coming out this summer, it may be time to do a checkup on your credit score before you apply. You need to be a well-qualified customer to be approved for the new credit card. Apple hasn't exactly explained what that means, but knowing your standing is never a bad thing.

Credit checks aren't just important when you're considering opening a new credit card. You may also want to check your credit score if you're in the market for a new home or vehicle, or to make sure your identity hasn't been stolen. Note that looking into your credit score will not affect your credit.

Apple News+ Could Lead To A Massive Value Destruction For The Magazine Industry, by Frederic Filloux, Monday Note

By joining Apple News+, the US magazine industry will lose 50 percent of its revenue per reader.

[...]

To put it differently, for each magazine reader switching to Apple News+, the platform would need to recruit one additional subscriber, only to preserve the size of the sector. The real uncertainty here is the ability of Apple to nearly double the number of people paying for a magazine in the United States where most subscriptions are already dirt cheap (only 13 percent of the magazines’ circulation revenue come from digital).

Stuff

Reading Eggs App Covers Reading Fundamentals And More, by Mike VanderBorght, Common Sense Media, Pocono Record

This broadly based reading curriculum is both varied and complete enough to be worth the relatively high subscription price. The developer makes a lot of lofty claims about all the great ways Reading Eggs — Learn to Read can help your kids become confident and competent readers. Though some claims may be slightly exaggerated, the program is robust enough to support the idea that it can truly be a great tool for teaching kids to read, and it adapts and levels automatically as kids learn and grow.

7 Mac Apps For A Better Spotify And Apple Music Experience, by Shubham Agarwal, MakeUseOf

The Mac apps for the two most dominant music streaming services—Spotify and Apple Music—have come a long way. Since they released, both have pushed several updates to sustain their growing user bases.

But for power users who listen to music all the time, there are still a lot of features absent. So we’re looking at some great third-party Spotify and Apple Music add-on apps for Mac that you should try.

This Singapore-made App Will Tell You If A Product Is Halal Or Not – Just By Scanning Its Barcode Or Ingredients List, by Sean Lim, Business Insider

“When we go to a supermarket, the first thing we do is look at the ingredients list. As a Muslim, we’re sure that some ingredients are halal, but not so sure of others. So we’ll check online, and that’s a lengthy process sometimes, given that each product has, say, 10 ingredients,” Azman said.

“So what happens with our system is we actually just speed up the process and make it easy. All the information is at your fingertips,” he added.

Develop

Productivity Is About Attention Management, by Adam Grant, New York Times

But the truth is that I don’t feel very productive. I’m constantly falling short of my daily goals for progress, so I’ve struggled to answer the question. It wasn’t until that conversation with Michael that it dawned on me: Being prolific is not about time management. There are a limited number of hours in the day, and focusing on time management just makes us more aware of how many of those hours we waste.

A better option is attention management: Prioritize the people and projects that matter, and it won’t matter how long anything takes.

Attention management is the art of focusing on getting things done for the right reasons, in the right places and at the right moments.

How Not To Hire A Software Engineer, by Nikita Prokopov

Now, if you only select people who made no mistakes during the interview you won’t magically get a squad of programmers who always write perfect code. You just don’t know how they will behave when they will—inevitably—make their mistakes.

So mistakes are actually good because you get to learn how that person mitigates them. Don’t judge the errors, judge how interviewee handles them:

“Can We Talk?” How To Survive When Your Boss Utters The Office’s Most Dreaded Phrase., by Alison Green, Slate

Most of the time, though, a simple “I want to talk with you about X” will go a long way toward mitigating the anxiety of mysterious meetings.

And on the employee side, it helps to pay attention to what you know about your manager. Is she one to spring terrible feedback on you out of nowhere? What about other times when she’s asked to meet with you without any context? Has that typically led to bad news, or has it generally turned out to be more mundane, like “Can we look at the figures for the Johnson account?” Rather than letting anxiety have its way with you, it makes far more sense to look at what you actually know about your manager and how similar meeting requests have gone in the past.

Notes

Who’s Minding The Macintosh Store?, by Jean-Louis Gassée, Monday Note

Apple’s defensiveness and lack of transparency breaks several damage control rules.

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Happy Birthday!

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Thanks for reading.