The New-Center Edition Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Apple Sans Ive, by Matthew Panzarino, TechCrunch

But the argument that Jony derailed product at Apple looks like complete nonsense when you observe the facts. And every design team member I’ve spoken to over the last 4 years has said that Jony, while at times difficult, demanding and intense, has also been an enormous enabling force when it comes to spending the time, resources and energy it took them to get a product or feature to the level they wanted. Resources like on-the-ground materials consultation in China, collaborations with artists around the world, research into the effects of a design — the willingness to ‘do the most’ in search of a solution. None of that went away.


I think it’s also smart of Apple not to announce a single ‘Jony replacement’ at this juncture. Any immediate comparison would likely not do them any favors and this gives the team time to find a new center and a new direction over the next couple of years. I think someone will emerge as the design lead here eventually, but I’m not sure who.

There’s Only One Important Question To Ask About Apple’s Future, by Nilay Patel, The Verge

It’s not like Apple is going to put Intel stickers on Macs, or preload some silly virus scanner on the iPhone. But will Apple degrade the user experience in order to push its own services? It’s a conflict that’s playing out as iPhone sales flatten out and the company explicitly shifts its focus to paid services across news, TV shows, games, payments (even a credit card!), and music. The temptation to boost those services by littering the iPhone with crap is growing stronger every day, and you can see some clear examples of Apple compromising user experience to drive them already.

HomePod Owners Complain Hey Siri Is Activated By Apple's Ad, by Ben Lovejoy, 9to5Mac

When the guy in the Bounce ad says Hey Siri at the beginning and asks it to play him something new, HomePods are being triggered.


Apple seems to have gotten the message, as the version posted to the company’s YouTube channel omits the Hey Siri command.

Coming Soon

Can Apple Hack It In Hollywood? We Talk To The Man Behind Apple TV+, by Stuart McGurk, GQ

“The best,” says Cue simply. “If you want to watch the best shows, we have them.” Better than anything on HBO? “You know, it’s hard to compare. I think HBO has had a great reputation.” There is definitive emphasis on the word. Had? Past tense?

“Look, they have Game Of Thrones that’s just finished... but no, I don’t think it’s past tense.”

Apple’s iOS 13 Update Will Make FaceTime Eye Contact Way Easier, by Darrell Etherington, TechCrunch

The feature, spotted in the third beta of the new software update that went out this week, apparently does a terrific job of making it look like you’re looking directly into the camera even when you’re looking at the screen during a FaceTime call.

Security Matters

The Simple Way Apple And Google Let Domestic Abusers Stalk Victims, by Andy Greenberg, Wired

After years of neglect, the antivirus industry has finally begun to recognize stalkerware's danger and flag the apps as malicious, a development that's long overdue given that a quarter of women in the US and one in nine men experience some form of physical abuse or stalking by an intimate partner.

But antivirus alone may not be enough, one group of researchers at Cornell Tech and NYU warned me. Abusive phone-snooping, they point out, doesn't necessarily require software explicitly built for that purpose. Mainstream app stores are well-stocked with what those researchers call "dual-use" applications. These are apps that advertise features for a legitimate purpose—such as letting families consensually track one another for convenience or safety, or for locating stolen and lost devices—but can easily be abused by stalkers who install them without their target's knowledge, or secretly change the configuration of those apps to share the victim's location or data.


Apple Shares New Apple Watch 'Close Your Rings' Stories, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Apple has overhauled its “Close Your Rings” webpage today with new stories from Apple Watch users. The webpage highlights how everyday Apple Watch users are taking advantage of features such as competitions, heart rate tracking, and more.

Review: Brydge Keyboard For iPad Pro, by Rosemary Orchard and Curtis McHale, The Sweet Setup

Overall, the Brydge Keyboard for the latest iPad Pro is a great keyboard that carries on the quality and experience of previous Brydge keyboard models. If typing is the majority of what you do on your iPad, then it provides an excellent typing experience. If you mark up PDFs or use your iPad to draw regularly, then another keyboard may be better, and if you’re big on portability, then Apple’s Smart Keyboard Folio is the lightest. The Brydge is also cheaper than some of the other offerings, including Apple’s own, and more flexible than many like the Logitech Slim Folio Pro. At any rate, it makes the act of typing on an iPad Pro feel more like a “Pro” experience, and that’s easily worth the cost of admission.

How I Dropped Dropbox, by Khoi Vinh, Subtraction

More to the point, disconnecting from Dropbox was time consuming, but it wasn’t difficult. Which is to say that although the process was high friction it was relatively straightforward, and not at all technically challenging. At the outset I had expected that switching away from Dropbox would break many parts of my workflow; in practice, very little has, even though the iCloud Drive features that are ostensibly allowing me to switch are still in beta. I’m certainly not extolling the virtues of leaving Dropbox if you find it indispensable in your own work—it’s still the best option if you need to share files across non-Apple platforms. But the relative ease with which I was able to leave it illustrates well Steve Jobs’s famous criticism that Dropbox is a feature, not a product.


Why It's So Dangerous When Star Employees Check Out, by Sarah Todd, Quartz

If you’re a high achiever who feels unusually distant from work, take stock, says Davis-Laack. “I always say that if your health or close relationships are being negatively impacted, you need to have a serious conversation about whether you are in the right environment,” she advises.

Should the problem turn out not to be burnout but simple ennui, there’s no shame in admitting you’re just not feeling your job anymore. Just keep in mind, if you’ve really checked out of your job, perhaps it’s a sign there’s somewhere else you want to check in.

Can Pods Save America?, by Sarah Holder, CityLab

Now, as open-office backlash mounts, companies are trying to figure out a way to bring back the privacy of the closed-plan office but without the square footage. To do it, they’re buying their own mini-isolation chambers in the form of personal phone booths, or “pods.”


Apple Reveals App Store Takedown Demands By Governments, by Zack Whittaker, TechCrunch

In its latest transparency report published Tuesday, the tech giant said it received 80 requests from 11 countries to remove 634 apps from its localized app stores during July 1 and December 31, 2018.

Apple didn’t list the apps that were removed but noted in most cases why the apps were pulled. China made up the bulk of the requests, seeking to remove 517 apps claiming they violated its gambling and pornography laws. Vietnam and Austria also requested the takedown of several apps which violated its gambling laws, while Kuwait asked Apple to pull some apps that fell foul of its privacy laws.

Superhuman Is Spying On You, by Mike Davidson, Mike Industries

What I see in Superhuman though is a company that has mistaken taking advantage of people for good design. They’ve identified a feature that provides value to some of their customers (i.e. seeing if someone has opened your email yet) and they’ve trampled the privacy of every single person they send email to in order to achieve that. Superhuman never asks the person on the other end if they are OK with sending a read receipt (complete with timestamp and geolocation). Superhuman never offers a way to opt out. Just as troublingly, Superhuman teaches its user to surveil by default. I imagine many users sign up for this, see the feature, and say to themselves “Cool! Read receipts! I guess that’s one of the things my $30 a month buys me.”

Bottom of the Page

I blame Javascript for so many things wrong with the web, and I blame HTML for so many things wrong with email.


Thanks for reading.