The Keep-Competitors-at-Bay Edition Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Apple Plans To Bankroll Original Podcasts To Fend Off Rivals, by Lucas Shaw, Bloomberg

Apple Inc. plans to fund original podcasts that would be exclusive to its audio service, according to people familiar with the matter, increasing its investment in the industry to keep competitors Spotify and Stitcher at bay.

Executives at the company have reached out to media companies and their representatives to discuss buying exclusive rights to podcasts, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the conversations are preliminary. Apple has yet to outline a clear strategy, but has said it plans to pursue the kind of deals it didn’t make before.

Apple Might Be Getting Into The Podcast-making Business. Is Its Reign As The Industry’s Benevolent Overlord Coming To An End?, by Nicholas Quah, Nieman Lab

Let’s assume there’s ambition within Apple to start digging for money in these podcast hills. Are we talking about Apple pursuing a “Netflix for podcasts” model? I highly doubt it. Exclusive paywalled podcasts…well, they haven’t really proven that they can drive a paid subscription business at scale yet. And when I say “scale,” I mean “scale at the level that would make it worth it for Apple to abandon its noble, beloved position as impartial steward of the podcast ecosystem.” Sure, Spotify has exclusives, but I don’t think those exclusives are the primary reason that the Swedish platform has become the second major podcast distributor. (Not yet.) If anything, it’s the simple fact of access, plus maybe all this increased attention.

Is Apple Planning Exclusive Podcasts?, by Jason Snell, Six Colors

Given Apple’s deep pockets and its focus on services, I can’t see how the company wouldn’t at least investigate the possibility of adding original audio content to its portfolio, both to strengthen the pull of the Podcasts app and increase the value of one of its existing services or a forthcoming services bundle.

📅 #worldemojiday

Emoji For Falafel, Service Dogs And Sloths Are Finally Here, by Abrar Al-Heeti, CNET

Apple and Google both unveiled dozens of new emoji ahead of World Emoji Day on Wednesday. They include animals like a flamingo, orangutan and sloth, as well as foods such as waffles, falafel and garlic.

The companies will also roll out new emoji depicting couples with a variety of skin tones, and there'll be gender-neutral characters, too.

😂 😘 And ❤️ Named Most Popular Emoji In New Adobe Study, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

Today is World Emoji Day, and in celebration of emojis, Adobe released its 2019 Emoji Trend Report, giving us some insight into the most popular emoji characters that people are using. For its report, Adobe surveyed 1,000 emoji users in the United States.

Why Does Apple Hate Falafel?, by Jon Porter, The Verge

There are a couple of interesting designs in there. For example, I can’t help but think that Apple’s design for a plate of falafel kinda looks like a big pile of shit? Not human shit, and not a fun cartoony soft-serve ice cream poop like the classic Pile of Poo, but like a pile of dung from a farmyard animal. Especially when viewed at the proper emoji scale of an Instagram comment or iMessage response. Meanwhile, someone at Google has clearly actually eaten falafel at some point in their lives, and has produced a design more befitting of something you’re supposed to put in your mouth.

Security Matters

Apple Is Silently Updating Macs Again To Remove Insecure Software From Zoom’s Partners, by Dieter Bohn, The Verge

Apple informed us that it has sent out a silent security update to Macs to remove software that was automatically installed by RingCentral and Zhumu. These video conferencing apps both used technology from Zoom — they’re essentially white labels — and thus they also had Zoom’s security flaws. Specifically, they installed secondary pieces of software that could take commands from websites to open up your webcam in a video conference without your intervention.

Apple Is Sending Out Another Silent Update To Fix The Webcam Flaw In Zoom’s Partner Apps, by John Gruber, Daring FIreball

I think Apple has struck a nearly perfect balance here, between doing what’s right for most users (installing these rare emergency updates automatically) and doing what’s right for power users who really do want to control when updates — even essential ones — are installed. I also think Apple is doing the right thing by going to the press and explaining when they issue such updates.


Review: 2019 Entry-level $1299 MacBook Pro With Touch Bar And Touch ID, by Jeff Benjamin, 9to5Mac

It’s been two years since we last saw an update to the entry-level MacBook Pro, but the wait was well worth it. Not only did we get Touch ID and Touch Bar access, but we got the T2 chip and all of the security and performance advantages that it brings to the table, along with a speedy quad-core CPU.

The CPU upgrade, in particular, gives this machine a large leap over its predecessor. The strong CPU provides impressive performance for multicore workloads, even if it is somewhat bottlenecked by the integrated graphics.

My Very Last Macbook Pro, by Tibor Bödecs, The Swift Dev

I don't want to buy a Macbook with this crappy keyboard anymore.


I'd instantly trade my macbook if I could use only two apps on the iPad. Terminal & Xcode. That's it.


Apple Tests AirPod Production In Vietnam As It Cuts China Reliance, by Cheng Ting-Fang and Lauly Li,

Nikkei Asian Review

China's GoerTek, one of Apple's key contract manufacturers, will this summer begin testing the resilience of its manufacturing processes for the newest generation of AirPods at its audio factory in northern Vietnam, two sources with knowledge of the plan said.

This will mark the first production of the wireless earbuds -- which came to market in 2016 -- outside the world's second-largest economy. They are Apple's fastest growing product, racking up 35 million shipments last year against 20 million in 2017.

What The Superhuman Controversy Reveals About The Shifting Ethics Of Software, by Anna Wiener, New Yorker

At issue, ultimately, is the ethical question of what makes software “good.” The qualities of good software include seamlessness, efficiency, speed, simplicity, and straightforward user-experience design. Failing to maximize these values may feel, for a software engineer, like driving a Ferrari below the speed limit—a violation of the spirit of the enterprise. But the seamlessness, efficiency, and power experienced by users don’t necessarily translate to positive social experiences; the short-term satisfactions offered by software can upstage its longer-term implications.

A Feisty Google Adversary Tests How Much People Care About Privacy, by Nathaniel Popper, New York Times

Gabriel Weinberg is taking aim at Google from a small building 20 miles west Philadelphia that looks like a fake castle. An optometrist has an office downstairs.

Mr. Weinberg’s company, DuckDuckGo, has become one of the feistiest adversaries of Google. Started over a decade ago, DuckDuckGo offers a privacy-focused alternative to Google’s search engine.

The company’s share of the search engine market is still tiny — about 1 percent compared with Google’s 85 percent, according to StatCounter. But it has tripled over the past two years and is now handling around 40 million searches a day. It has also made a profit in each of the last five years, Mr. Weinberg said.

Bottom of the Page

I am already using five different apps for my audio entertainment on the iPhone. Yes, I only use one app for all my podcasts. But I also have apps for audiobooks, music, and BBC radio. And that's not counting the two additional apps that are essentially MusicKit-based presentation of my Apple Music library.

So, I don't see any problem having to use one more app to listen to Apple-exclusive podcasts. (Or, more probably, it will be the same Apple Music app.)


Thanks for reading.