The Thoughts-and-Observations Edition Thursday, September 12, 2019

Brief Thoughts And Observations On Yesterday’s Apple Event, Roughly, If Not In Fact Exactly, In The Order In Which They Were Announced, by John Gruber, Daring Fireball

Some folks will look at that list and say the iPhones 11 Pro aren’t really “pro”. I look at that list and say the regular iPhone 11 is almost just as “pro” at significantly lower prices. This is a very different dynamic between pro and non-pro models compared to MacBooks, Mac desktops, and iPads, where the pro models have very obvious performance differences. The iPhone is just a different product.

But Will They Go To 12?, by M.G. Siegler, 500ish Words

I honestly think the thing I’m most excited about is the new “Quick Take” feature that allows you to simply hold down the shutter software button in picture mode to take a video. As a new parent, I will use this non-stop. It drives me batty to have to swipe between the modes when speed is of the utmost importance.

The 2019 iPhone Event: Hits And Misses, by Jason Snell, Six Colors

The slides accompanying the announcement of the feature pretty much nailed all the situations in which having an always-on display would be preferable to the current state of affairs. And it turns out we were waiting for a redesigned Apple Watch display that could seriously save power by doing things like ratchet down to a single update per second and dynamically adjust brightness. Apple also appears to have adjusted watch faces to reduce motion when in an inactive state—for example, it seems that the second hand just disappears when you’re in this mode, which makes sense.

This feature might be my favorite item in the entire event. It’s a major upgrade in Apple Watch functionality. And to think, I didn’t see why Apple needed to bother this year. I guess the rumor mill failed us on this one, but what a delightful surprise.

The Biggest iPhone News Is A Tiny New Chip Inside It, by Brian Barrett, Wired

UWB is faster and more accurate than what you’re used to, able to locate objects with uncanny accuracy in a relatively large space. In its iPhone marketing materials, Apple refers to it as “GPS at the scale of your living room.” So the two questions to ask next are: Why haven’t you seen it before? And what exactly is it going to do?

Service Industry

Apple's TV Goal Becomes Clear: Sell More iPhones, by Natalie Jarvey, Hollywood Reporter

Industry insiders caution that it could take time for Apple to establish itself amid an increasingly competitive environment where established entertainment companies like WarnerMedia, Disney and NBCUniversal are entering the direct-to-consumer space. "In this streaming era, it takes a long time for audiences to build," notes a veteran agent, "and in the history of television, it's rare that a show comes out of the box huge."

Apple TV Plus Is Trying To Be HBO, Not Netflix, by Julia Alexander, The Verge

If WarnerMedia, Netflix, and Hulu are trying to replicate an entire cable bundle — lots of reruns, always something to watch — Apple TV Plus is trying to replicate what made HBO special: fewer shows but a clear style that you can’t get anywhere else.

Pro Circle

Does The New iPhone Creep You Out? Scientists Grapple With Why Tiny Holes Scare Some People, by Katie Shepherd, Washington Post

The backlash comes from people who say they suffer from an obscure and perplexing condition called “trypophobia” ⁠ — a fear of clusters of small holes like those found in shoe treads, honeycombs and lotus seed pods. Essex University Professor Geoff Cole, a self-diagnosed trypophobe and researcher in the United Kingdom who studies the condition calls it “the most common phobia you have never heard of.”

The phobia isn’t recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which psychologists and psychiatrists use to diagnose patients. But self-described sufferers and some researchers claim the images can evoke a strong emotional response and induce itching, goose bumps, and even nausea and vomiting.


AppleCare+ Monthly Plans Switch To Subscription Model, by Michael Potuck, 9to5Mac

This sounds like customers can choose to continue the monthly AppleCare+ coverage as long as they’d like or until Apple can’t service the device anymore.

Apple Watch Series 5 Models With Titanium And Ceramic Casings Include Extra Sport Band In Box, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

White ceramic models come with a soft white Sport Band with a ceramic pin, titanium models come with a light gray Sport Band, and space black titanium models come with a dark gray Sport Band. This is in addition to whichever band a customer chooses for the Apple Watch during the purchase process.

Walgreens Joins Apple Card’s Rewards Program To Offer 3% Daily Cash On Purchases, by Sarah Perez, TechCrunch

Apple Card’s rewards program, Daily Cash, is expanding today with the addition of Walgreens. The retailer joins Uber and Uber Eats to become the latest merchant to offer 3% Daily Cash to Apple Card customers who use Apple Pay at checkout. This includes purchases made in both Walgreens and Duane Reade retail stores, as well as on the web at, and in the Walgreens mobile app.

HomePod Multi-user Voice Support And Music Handoff Coming 'Later This Fall', New Ambient Sounds Feature, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

Apple didn’t talk about the HomePod on stage but it has quietly updated the product pages with some announcements.

Wondering Who Did That Painting? There’s An App (Or Two) For That, by Sophie Haigney, New York Times

Magnus is part of a wave of smartphone apps trying to catalog the physical world as a way of providing instantaneous information about songs or clothes or plants or paintings. First came Shazam, an app that allows users to record a few seconds of a song and instantly identifies it. Shazam’s wild success — it boasts more than a billion downloads and 20 million uses daily, and was purchased by Apple for a reported $400 million last year — has spawned endless imitations. There is Shazam for plants or Shazam for clothes and now, Shazam, for art.

The art-oriented apps harness image recognition technology, each with a particular twist. Magnus has built a database of more than 10 million images of art, mostly crowdsourced, and aims to help prospective art buyers navigate the notoriously information-lite arena of galleries and fairs.


What Happens To Tech Workers When Their Skills Become Obsolete?, by Michelle Cheng, Quartz

Until now, there has been little evidence on how individual workers adjust when a specific skill declines. But a new working paper from economists John J. Horton, an assistant professor at MIT Sloan School of Management, and Prasanna Tambe, an associate professor at University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, suggests the labor market has the capacity for great resilience.

Their research shows that while demand for Flash skills declined after Jobs’s announcement, there was very little impact on Flash specialists in terms of wages or competition for job openings, even when hours were reduced. There was also no evidence that employers were flooded with applications from out-of-work Flash programmers.


Apple Is Bringing Back Crazy Colors After Years Of Minimalism. Here’s Why, by Mark Wilson, Fast Company

So why is Apple embracing its past now? Because as Pressman points out, Apple is thinking about its iPhones as accessories, not technologies. And color is currently on trend—perhaps no surprise for a time when many of us need something to feel better about the world.

Apple Needs To Stop Comparing iPad To PC, by Gordon Mah Ung, PCWorld

But Apple can’t actually be comparing its iPad to a desktop PC, right? No, if you dig down into the disclaimer that Apple buries in its press release, it clarifies, “when compared to the top-selling Windows PC laptop in the U.S. for the first half of 2019.”

Which laptop that is, Apple doesn’t say. PCWorld reached out to Apple to ask about the specific model used in its comparison, but has not heard back. That again leaves us guessing.

Bottom of the Page

If the watchOS allows third-party watch faces, Apple will probably not be able to keep its secret and surprise everybody with the always-on feature.


This is how Apple introduced the iPhone Pro's water-resistant feature on the website: Splashes? Pffft.

This is how Apple introduced the same feature on the Singapore version: Splashes? Can.

I'm not sure how I like this.


Thanks for reading.