The Whole-Other-Level Edition Thursday, June 6, 2019

Apple’s Global Accessibility Head On The Company’s New Features For iOS 13 And macOS Catalina, by Steven Aquino, TechCrunch

Herrlinger told me Voice Control, while conceptually fairly straightforward, is designed in such a way to be deep and customizable. Furthermore, Herrlinger added that Apple has put in a ton of work to improve the speech detection system so that it can more adeptly parse users with different types of speech, such as those who stutter. Over time, Voice Control should improve at this.

Of course, the reason for all the excitement over Voice Control is the way it makes computing more accessible. Which is to say, Apple has reached an inflection point with its assistive technologies where someone who can’t physically interact with their computers now has an outlet. To use only your voice to do this used to be the stuff of science fiction, but now it’s more or less reality. There are other tools, like Apple’s own Switch Control, that are in the ballpark, but Voice Control takes it to a whole other level. Apple is putting a stake in the ground — if you can’t touch your computer, just talk to it. For many disabled people, the floodgates just opened. It’s a big deal.

iTunes Is Dead. What Will Happen To Its Best Feature?, by Victor Luckerson, The Ringer

While iTunes is being retired, the company’s new music app for Mac is expected to keep many of the power-user features. Still, the smart-playlists feature isn’t explicitly mentioned in Apple’s PR, and the company hasn’t said anything about whether users will be able to transfer their lists from the old program to the new one. Padoshek is so dedicated to his carefully tended library that he said he would keep an old Mac around specifically to run iTunes if he’s not able to transfer his smart playlists just so.

For most people, this kind of zealous data obsessiveness and library curation reads as an anachronism. Spotify has solved the problem of organizing music for us. But the care people put into their iTunes catalogs was always about much more than practicality.

The Clever Cryptography Behind Apple's 'Find My' Feature, by Andy Greenberg, Wired

In a background phone call with WIRED following that keynote, Apple broke down that privacy element, explaining how its "encrypted and anonymous" system avoids leaking your location data willy nilly, even as your devices broadcast a Bluetooth signal explicitly designed to let you track your device. The solution to that paradox, it turns out, is a trick that requires you to own at least two Apple devices. Each one emits a constantly changing key that nearby Apple devices use to encrypt and upload your geolocation data, such that only the other Apple device you own possesses the key to decrypt those locations.

That system would obviate the threat of marketers or other snoops tracking Apple device Bluetooth signals, allowing them to build their own histories of every user's location. "If Apple did things right, and there are a lot of ifs here, it sounds like this could be done in a private way," says Matthew Green, a cryptographer at Johns Hopkins University. "Even if I tracked you walking around, I wouldn’t be able to recognize you were the same person from one hour to the next."

Catalyst: The iPad And Mac Are Tied Together Like Never Before, by Jason Snell, Macworld

It’s time for Mac users and iPad users to realize that these two platforms are now unified in a way they’ve never been before. Making a new Mac new app starts with making a good iPad app—something that will benefit iPad users directly. Meanwhile, Mac users get to benefit from the enormous size of the iOS app development community, which has never previously been able to address the Mac without learning an entirely different way of building apps.

This is just the beginning, and the era won’t truly start until the fall when macOS Catalina ships, but the potential is there for a huge wave of new apps—and a rising tide would lift both the Mac and the iPad.

Coming Soon

Apple Details iTunes Changes In macOS Catalina, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Apple explains in the support document that “all of your favorite iTunes features” will be available in the trio of new apps included in macOS Catalina. The company offers a bulleted list of where popular iTunes features are moving.

Time, Location Triggers Make Shortcuts More Useful In iOS 13, by Charlie Sorrel, Cult of Mac

For instance, you could have a shortcut run when you arrive home, switching on a HomeKit scene, sending a message to a family member that you’ve arrived, and perhaps playing your walk-on music. Or, if you have a task you perform at the same time every day, you can just set it to run at that time.

It’s really deep, too. Pick the timer option, and you can pick a time manually. But you can also tie the shortcut to any of your existing alarms, or to your Bedtime wake-up time. You can even have the shortcut trigger only when you snooze an alarm.

With iOS 13, Apple Locks Out Apps From Accessing Users’ Private Notes In Contacts , by Sarah Perez, TechCrunch

Apple is closing a loophole that allowed app developers to access users’ potentially sensitive and private data. With the launch of iOS 13, apps that request access to users’ Contacts will no longer be able to read the data in the “Notes” field of those address book entries.

iOS 13 Includes New Accessibility Features For Motion Sensitivity And Color Blindness , by Jordan Kahn, 9to5Mac

These include new settings to improve app interactions for users with various motion sensitivity and color-blindness disabilities. The new features will be available in Apple’s own apps starting with iOS 13 and in third-party apps via new APIs for developers.

Sidecar In macOS Catalina Brings Touch Bar Controls To Non-Touch Bar Mac Users, by Tim Hardwick, MacRumors

The iPad Touch Bar mirrors the MacBook Pro's Touch Bar on a model with a Touch Bar, and when used with a MacBook Pro that doesn't have a Touch Bar, it lets you tap into functionality that would otherwise be unavailable.


Affinity Photo And Designer 1.7 Adds Multi GPU / eGPU Support, by Jeff Benjamin, 9to5Mac

Today Serif, creator of Affinity Designer and Affinity Photo, has released version 1.7 of its popular illustration and photo editing apps on Mac. The updates are headlined by enhanced GPU compute acceleration, HDR monitor support, and a new memory management system.

Skype Screen Sharing Now Out Of Beta On iOS And Android, by Damien Wilde, 9to5Google

Screen sharing on Skype is now available to the masses, as the feature is officially out of beta and rolling out to iOS and Android devices right now.

Although Skype is no longer the most popular video messaging platform on mobile, the Microsoft-owned video chat application has some nifty features and boasts over 1 billion users worldwide. The addition of this screen sharing feature to the mobile Skype application might even open up a new audience for the platform.


Saved By An Apple Watch: Woman Stranded On Paddleboard Calls 911, by Emily Sweeney, Boston Globe

An afternoon of paddleboarding almost turned into a nightmare for a woman who ventured into the waters off Nahant Beach on Monday and discovered that she couldn’t get back to shore.

“The wind blew her way off the beach,” said Swampscott Police Sergeant Bill Waters.

Luckily, the woman was wearing an Apple Watch and she was able to call 911 while she was stranded in the water, he said.

Apple's $1000 Monitor Stand Is A Massive PR Fail, by Ben Lovejoy, 9to5Mac

This should never have been a $5000 monitor with a $1000 monitor stand: it should simply have been a $6k monitor. The world would have had the same reaction it did to a $5k one – either ‘ouch’ or ‘decent value for what you get,’ depending on perspective – and we’d all have gotten on with our day.

Bottom of the Page

My wish list for Apple Music is derived from two sources, a piece of software and a piece of hardware.

Firstly, the software: iTunes. Back in the days, I've had quite a few smart playlist set up. I wish I can do this with Apple Music. The entire Apple Music, not just whatever songs that I chose to put in my iCloud music library. (Does smart playlist even work with iCloud music library currently? Because I am having problem setting that up too.)

Of course, many smart playlist may end up with a lot of songs. That's where the second half of my wish list comes in: Autofill. (Remember iPod Shuffle?) Yes, I want to tell my iPhone to download a random portion of my smart playlist.


I always find it strange that bloggers and columnists start publishing wishlists just before new versions of iOS and macOS (and iPadOS) are being released. These are like reviews of the previous version of the operating system, with a hint of prediction that these wishlist items are probably not coming in the next release. If your desire is to catch the eyes of some decision makers in Apple, this is not the right time. The upcoming releases are probably feature-freezed for a while already.

The right time is now. Since Apple has just told you what is not in the upcoming release, you should start pestering Apple people on next year's releases.

Of course, that's provided someone at Apple reads your stuff. Nobody read what I write.


Thanks for reading.