The Digital-Tools Edition Monday, July 22, 2019

GarageBand Changed How My Autistic Son Interacts With The World, by Hannah Grieco, Gadget Hacks

My autistic son loves music. One afternoon, when he was nine, I downloaded GarageBand to his iPhone to help with the boredom of a long wait at a doctor's office. Instead of pacing or escalating into a meltdown, he spent the entire hour and a half practicing, learning, and composing. When we finally left that day, the rest of us exhausted and irritated, he shared his first composition with a big smile.

I didn't think much of it at the time. Like most parents, we focused on keeping our kids off of technology as much as possible. But this meant that we missed some crucial ways that technology could help our kids learn and grow. The importance of digital tools became more and more clear to us as my son got older and wanted to explore music in more profound ways.

Apple’s Heir Apparent Is Much More Like Tim Cook Than Steve Jobs, by Mark Gurman, Bloomberg

When Apple announced the pending departure of Chief Design Officer Jony Ive last month, it threw the spotlight on an executive few outsiders know: Chief Operating Officer Jeff Williams, who has now also taken over the company’s legendary design studio. This added fiefdom makes Williams unambiguously the second-most important person at Apple and Tim Cook’s heir apparent as CEO. And he’s very much in the mold of the current chief executive: a paragon of operational efficiency and even temper not prone to quite the same highs and lows of Cook’s more visionary predecessor, Steve Jobs.

Several current and former colleagues, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly, say that during his years as the company’s operations chief, Cook’s old job, Williams has distinguished himself as a modest, disciplined, demanding leader in the current CEO’s style. He’s negotiated with suppliers, shipped hundreds of millions of devices a year from Chinese factories to the rest of the globe, and been a bit more hands-on with product development than Cook, they say. Williams attends weekly reviews of product and industrial design progress, subsequently briefing Cook for a final signoff, and has been the lead executive shepherding the Apple Watch to market. Within Apple, Williams is broadly regarded as a strong choice for the top job, and current and former colleagues say management had been steadily positioning him as such long before Ive’s departure.

Chinese Vertical Dramas Made For Phone Viewing Show The Future Of Mobile Video, by Henry Sung, The Next Web

Instagram launched IGTV in 2018, and is pushing creators to explore what’s possible for mobile video. Netflix introduced vertical 30-second previews, and is now experimenting with mobile-first features like vibrating movies. Spotify is releasing vertical music videos. Snap is delivering plenty of premium mobile video content with its Snap Originals, and has more on the way.

But compared to traditional videos which have been around since 1895, mobile video is still a newborn baby. And for new parents, a good way to learn parenting is to look at what others are doing. On that note, mobile video producers should direct their attention to a format Chinese media companies have been experimenting with: the vertical drama (竖屏剧; shùpíngjù).


Microsoft To-Do Review: Finally Check That New Mac To-do App Off Your List, by J.R. Bookwalter, Macworld

Despite the lack of dark mode support and the fact that Microsoft To-Do may not be a feature-by-feature replacement for Wunderlist just yet, the long-awaited Mac debut checks off the most important features on our wish list.


What’s Even The Point Of Exit Interviews?, by Alison Green, Slate

In fact, if a company doesn’t have that kind of culture—if it hasn’t done the work to make people feel safe sharing candid input—exit interviews are likely to be largely unproductive anyway. Most people won’t take that risk if they’ve seen from experience that the company won’t handle their input well.


Apple: No Macintosh Forks. But The iPad…, by Jean-Louis Gassée, Monday Note

As iPadOS lets iPads gain more use cases, especially in the realm of productivity, iPhones and their immensely larger number of devices will stay in the mainstream of iOS development. Undoubtedly, there will be unanticipated complications in some iPad uses, but the scheme feels more natural than last week’s convoluted formula.

5 Things You Should Know About Adblock Plus -- Starting With Its Alliance With The Ad Industry, by Stephen Shankland, CNET

You might be perturbed if somebody calls your business an "extortion racket" or your sales pitch a "ransom note." But Eyeo Chief Executive Till Faida, leader of the widely used Adblock Plus browser extension, is unruffled. The way he sees it, he's just trying to rescue online advertising and the websites that rely on it.

Apple Shuts Hong Kong Stores Early As Fears Of Lawlessness Rise, by Chuin-Wei Yap, Wall Street Journal

Tech giant Apple Inc. shut its stores early citywide on Monday, as fears of escalating violence and spiraling lawlessness linked to weekslong protests spurred concern among businesses and the public.


Apple joined a raft of other businesses that chose to shut or send staff home early on Monday. The company opened its first store in Hong Kong in 2011 and is a high-profile anchor for the city’s image as an international commercial hub, gracing the Victoria Harbour waterfront in a giant mall where most tourists transit. A spokeswoman for the Cupertino, Calif.-company directed queries to information on store hours on its website.