The Rap-Life Edition Friday, July 19, 2019

Apple Music Rebrands Hip-Hop Playlist As 'Rap Life,' With Weekly Beats 1 Radio Show, by Micah Singleton, Billboard

Apple Music is rebranding one of its biggest playlists, The A-List: Hip-Hop, as Rap Life, and will leverage Beats 1 to launch a new weekly show and daily segments around it. Spearheaded by Ebro Darden, global editorial head of hip-hop and R&B at Apple Music, Rap Life will largely feature hip-hop from North American artists, but Apple tells Billboard it will also be representative of the genre worldwide.

The move will give Apple a flagship playlist around the world’s most popular genre that can compete against Spotify’s Rap Caviar and Amazon’s Rap Rotation playlists. Darden will host a Rap Life segment during his daily Beats 1 show and there will be a weekly show (also called Rap Life), which will feature music from the playlist and cultural discussions around hip-hop.

Journey Creator’s Sky Debuts On iPhone And iPad, by Samuel Axon, Ars Technica

This week marks the launch of Sky: Children of Light, a game from famed designed Jenova Chen and beloved studio thatgamecompany, on iOS devices. Intended as an entry point to gaming that upends conventions and seeks new ranges of emotional expression, Sky was revealed during Apple's iPhone keynote in 2017 as a mobile-first game and an iOS exclusive at launch.

The game is expected to arrive on Android, Mac, Apple TV, Windows PC, and consoles sometime in the future, though. Its initial wide launch this week follows a long soft-launch period and a launch-date delay as the game went through some big changes in testing to get its social aspects—a key part of the experience—just right.

NSO Spyware ‘Targets Big Tech Cloud Services’, by Mehul Srivastava, Financial Times

The Israeli company whose spyware hacked WhatsApp has told buyers its technology can surreptitiously scrape all of an individual’s data from the servers of Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft, according to people familiar with its sales pitch.


Apple said its operating system was “the safest and most secure computing platform in the world. While some expensive tools may exist to perform targeted attacks on a very small number of devices, we do not believe these are useful for widespread attacks against consumers.” The company added that it regularly updates its operating system and security settings.

Coming Soon

iOS 13: Here Are The New Security And Privacy Features You Might’ve Missed, by Zack Whittaker, TechCrunch

In just a few weeks Apple’s new iOS 13, the thirteenth major iteration of its popular iPhone software, will be out — along with new iPhones and a new iPad version, the aptly named iPadOS. We’ve taken iOS 13 for a spin over the past few weeks — with a focus on the new security and privacy features — to see what’s new and how it all works.


Timepage 3.0: Key Refinements For A Mature Calendar App, by Ryan Christoffel, MacStories

There are no headline-grabbers here, but this latest update demonstrates that Moleskine has a strong understanding of how its app is used, and how to make it better. It introduces significant improvements to event creation, a new birthday functionality, additional calendar views, and a design tweak inspired by Timepage’s sister app, Actions, among other things.

Keeping Your Plants Alive Just Got A Whole Lot Easier With This Genius App, by Rachel Sylvester, Real Simple

Staying on top of a regular watering schedule requires earnest effort in the form of incessant iPhone reminders—that is, until we got wind of Happy Plant, a handy app that takes the guesswork out of green thumbs. Designed to ensure your most beloved houseplants never get thirsty, the app reminds you to water your greens according to their unique watering schedules. Basically, it's a household hero even the most skilled gardeners could benefit from.

1Password Restores Free-to-Use Local Vault Option In Latest Version Of iOS App, by Tim Hardwick, MacRumors

1Password has restored the option for customers who originally purchased its iOS app to create a local vault during setup, after users queued up online to voice their frustrations that the option was silently removed in an update.

Dropbox Silently Installs New File Manager App On Users’ Systems, by Ron Amadeo, Ars Technica

Nobody wants a file manager from Dropbox. Whether you're a Windows, Mac, or Linux user, all of our computers come with file managers already, and they work fine.


Why Are We Obsessed With Other People’s Daily Habits?, by Suzannah Showler, BuzzFeed

Life has become something you’re meant to “do” and “hack,” which has given rise to the feeling that only a sucker would just tromp along messily and inefficiently living through it. When every mundane activity from eating a cupcake to slicing bread to taking a dump is one you’re probably doing wrong, it’s no wonder we yearn for glimpses of how other people live their smallest moments. Optimization is all about getting ahead, and getting ahead is about not falling behind. In this climate, converting other people’s experience into a template or a cautionary tale seems only prudent. The lives of others can be converted into cheat sheets: a way to grade our own performances and see how we measure up.


The NYT Wonders If We’ve Hit ‘Peak Podcast’, by Nick Heer, Pixel Envy

I don’t mean to denigrate software marketing podcasts or more conversational styles of episodes — everyone likes something different, and these are clearly enjoyable for lots of people. But these excerpts illustrate what makes some podcasts work for me: well-edited storytelling or interviews by enthusiastic hosts. Aching to be an “influencer” is like aspiring to be a QVC host.

Amazon’s Most Ambitious Research Project Is A Convenience Store, by Brad Stone, Bloomberg

From a technological perspective, the Go stores are a marvel—a succinct demonstration of Inc.’s capacity to devote vast resources toward applying the state of the art in artificial intelligence to an everyday problem. They also illustrate the company’s tendency to pursue technology for technology’s sake (see: the Fire Phone), resulting in a store that offers all the selection of a 7-Eleven, but with more complexity and cost. Scores of cameras pointed at all angles hang from the ceilings to track shoppers as they wander the aisles, while precise scales embedded in the shelves tabulate products down to the gram to figure out which ones have been picked up. Behind the scenes, sophisticated image recognition algorithms decide who took what—with Amazon workers in offices available to review footage to ensure shoppers are accurately charged. Each store also has a local staff on hand to help people download the Go app, restock shelves, and, in locations with a liquor section, check IDs.

Will all this work be worth it? Some Go stores seem almost deserted except for the lunchtime rush. Employees familiar with Amazon’s internal projections say the outlets in Chicago, in particular, are falling short of expectations, and the company has had to resort to raffles and giveaways of tote bags and other branded goodies. Yet, as the turbulent history of the project suggests, the Go store isn’t so much the culmination of the company’s efforts but something closer to an ongoing experiment. And the potential prize—a big piece of the $12 trillion grocery industry—is one that Amazon, with its limitless resources and appetite for risk, may be in the best position to claim.

Bottom of the Page

Tonight, I am calm. Maybe because something was done. Or maybe I am enjoying this new Lion King album.


Thanks for reading.