The Unintended-Consequences Edition Monday, October 28, 2019

These Apps Say You May Have A Health Disorder. What If They’re Wrong?, by Natasha Singer, New York Times

In September alone, more than 636,000 women completed the Flo health assessments, said the app’s developer, Flo Health. The app then recommended that 240,000 of those women, or about 38 percent, ask their doctors about the hormonal disorder. (BioWink, the developer of Clue, declined to provide similar usage statistics.)

But what many women who used the Flo and Clue health tools may not have known is that the apps did not conduct high-level clinical studies to determine the accuracy of their health risk assessments or the potential for unintended consequences such as overdiagnosis. As a result, some experts said, the new tools could lead some women to be labeled with a hormonal imbalance they did not have or that may have no significant repercussions for their health.

iPadOS Discoverability Trouble, by Jean-Louis Gassée, Monday Note

Today’s stylus equipped and mouse-capable iPad shows great promise. (I connected my trusted Microsoft Mouse and its two buttons and wheel — no problem.) It clearly has the potential to become a multifaceted device capable of a wide range of interactions. From the simplest one-finger control enjoyed by children and adults alike to the windows and pointing device interactions “power users” hope for, the iPad shows great potential — and the need for more work to make the new features more discoverable.

Apple Revamping Smart Home Efforts After Falling Behind Amazon, Google, by Mark Gurman, Bloomberg

Apple Inc. is ramping up hiring for a team that is working on new smart-home software and devices in an effort to catch up in a field where Google and Inc. have dominated, according to people with knowledge of the matter.


Some of Apple’s job listings mention supply chain expertise and developing wireless, battery-powered devices with camera modules, indicating exploration into new home appliances. Apple has said it plans to release a new cloud storage feature for security cameras later this year, which could potentially play into the company’s future plans. A few years ago, teams inside Apple explored creating a wide range of smart-home accessories, such as modules for opening and closing windows, cabinets, and doors, but those efforts were put on hold, according to a person with knowledge of the work.


‘Snoopy In Space’ Design Lab Landing In Apple Stores, by Michael Steeber, 9to5Mac

Peanuts fans will soon be able to shape the stories of their favorite characters. Apple is adding a new Design Lab to its series of Today at Apple sessions inspired by the upcoming Apple TV+ exclusive Snoopy in Space.

Apple Reminds iPhone 5 Owners To Update To iOS 10.3.4 By November 3, by Tim Hardwick, MacRumors

Back in July, Apple released updated versions of iOS for older iPhones and iPads models, including the iPhone 5, to address an issue that could impact GPS location performance and lead to the system date and time being incorrect. The GPS time rollover issue began affecting GPS-enabled products from other manufacturers on April 6, 2019, but Apple's affected devices aren't impacted by the problem until just before midnight UTC on November 3, 2019.

Five Best Phone Grips To Stop Smashed Screens, by Samuel Gibbs, The Guardian

Smartphones are getting bigger and heavier every year, but our hands aren’t. At some point something has to break. And when it does it’ll either be a sting in the wallet when your phone hits the ground or a pain in the hand as your constant finger stretching induces dreaded RSI.

There aren’t any really small smartphones on the market, just smaller phones that are often very expensive. And that doesn’t help you with the phone in your pocket right now, whether an iPhone 11 Pro Max, a Pixel 3 XL or Galaxy Note 10+. So the solution is some kind of accessory to help you keep a grip. Here are five of the best.

Swift Publisher 5.5 Review: Affordable DTP Software For Mac Expands Design Options, by J.R. Bookwalter, Macworld

Swift Publisher 5.5 is an absolute must-have update to our favorite inexpensive Mac desktop publishing software which makes it easier than ever to design and print labels, envelopes, cards, disc media, and much more.


What Most Remote Companies Don’t Tell You About Remote Work, by Amir Salihefendic, Doist

The flexibility to work where you want when you want should support work-life balance, but often it does the exact opposite. In contrast to a traditional office, remote work puts much more focus on output — what did you get done — rather than input — how many hours did you spend doing it. There’s a sense of personal responsibility to get “enough” done that can lead people to keep themselves working long past the point of optimal productivity. Couple that with a lack of physical work boundaries, and remote workers can quickly fall into a downward spiral that’s hard to see the way out of.


Google V. Apple: While One Takes On The Housing Crisis, The Other Stands Back, by Marisa Kendall, San Jose Mercury News

They changed the world with their tech products, employ vast swaths of the Bay Area’s workforce and together own more than $16 billion in Silicon Valley property.

But Google and Apple — the valley’s two biggest tech property owners — differ wildly in a critical aspect: the way they use their resources in response to the region’s chronic housing crisis. A side-by-side comparison reveals that Google is taking a far more proactive approach to corporate citizenship than Apple, a disparity that illuminates the question many tech companies struggle with today: How much should they be expected to help the people and communities who fall victim to Silicon Valley’s success?

Bottom of the Page

I have no idea how to look at the history in the Apple Music on iOS 13. I get overwhelmed by all that little circular icons in the Photos editing screen. My iPad screen stopped rotating and I have no idea how to fix it. (One week later, I remembered I can reboot the machine, and the problem disappeared.)

I must be getting old.


Thanks for reading.