The Shared-Plot Edition Thursday, November 21, 2019

The Most Useful App Is Find My Friends, by Kaitlyn Tiffany, The Atlantic

You simply can’t get around New York City without GPS. I know this is not actually true, because generations of people did it, but it is true for me: I bought my first smartphone in 2014, my first summer in the city, solely for Google Maps. And a year ago, I persuaded my friends to share their locations with me “indefinitely” in Apple’s Find My Friends app.

It’s not that I fear for my friends’ safety in any real way. (We’ve all been to college, which is statistically more dangerous for a woman than anything we’re doing now.) That isn’t why I asked them to give me access to their location at all hours of the day and night, forever. What I wanted most was the sense of shared plot, by way of literal plotting.

Inside Apple’s iPhone Software Shakeup After Buggy iOS 13 Debut, by Mark Gurman, Bloomberg

Software chief Craig Federighi and lieutenants including Stacey Lysik announced the changes at a recent internal “kickoff” meeting with the company’s software developers. The new approach calls for Apple's development teams to ensure that test versions, known as “daily builds,” of future software updates disable unfinished or buggy features by default. Testers will then have the option to selectively enable those features, via a new internal process and settings menu dubbed Flags, allowing them to isolate the impact of each individual addition on the system.


The new strategy is already being applied to the development of iOS 14, codenamed “Azul” internally, ahead of its debut next year. Apple has also considered delaying some iOS 14 features until 2021 — in an update called “Azul +1” internally that will likely become known as iOS 15 externally — to give the company more time to focus on performance. Still, iOS 14 is expected to rival iOS 13 in the breadth of its new capabilities, the people familiar with Apple’s plans said.

Austin's Operation

Apple Begins Building Its New Austin Campus On The Day Of Trump And Cook's Visit, by Lauren Feiner, CNBC

Apple plans to invest $1 billion into the new campus which is expected to open in 2022 with 5,000 employees. The campus will be 3 million square feet with the capacity to grow to 15,000 employees. The campus will expand Apple's Austin operation, which is currently home to the plant that builds the Mac Pro, the only major Apple computer assembled in the U.S.

Tim Cook Appears Alongside Trump In Re-Election Campaign Ad Shot In Mac Pro Plant In Austin, by John Gruber, Daring Fireball

A low moment in Apple’s proud history, and a sadly iconic moment for Tim Cook. I hope avoiding those tariffs is worth it.


Apple Releases Smart Battery Case For iPhone 11 And 11 Pro With Dedicated Camera Button, by Ryan Christoffel, MacStories

They also all come with a new feature not available with any other previous case: a dedicated button for launching the camera, which sits on the lower-right side of the case.

Apple’s Cycle Tracking: A Personal Review, by Rosemary Orchard, MacStories

Apple didn’t miss the mark on cycle tracking, but they got to the game late and frankly didn’t pull out the marketing guns they could have to properly promote this feature and make it a success. For me the feature works well, but as everyone has different needs I can only hope it serves a good portion of the population. My verdict: give it a try. It probably has data from any other apps you’ve been using, which will give you a head start, and if you don’t like it you can switch back to the app you’re used to.

Firstlight App Gives You Real-time Control Over iPhone Camera, by David Pierini, Cult of Mac

Filmic’s Firstlight team did not set out to create a photo editing app. They want photographers to skip time-consuming post-production by providing real-time features so shooters get the look they are going for in-camera. Firstlight delivers the same live analytics found in the company’s cinematic camera app, Filmic Pro.

AstroHQ’s Luna Display Dongle Turns A Mac Into A Second Display, by Julio Ojeda-Zapata, TidBITS

AstroHQ, scrambling to remain relevant after being Sherlocked, has therefore done the Mac world a huge favor with its Mac-to-Mac Mode. Though not yet fully baked, especially on the DisplayPort end, Luna hardware and its related software are a godsend for those with extra Macs ready to be repurposed as second displays.


Apple Canceled 'The Banker' Premiere Amid Sexual Abuse Claims Against Real-Life Subject's Son, by Paul Bond, Hollywood Reporter

Garrett Jr.'s half-sisters, roughly 15 years his junior, have recently made Apple aware of their claim that when he was a young man living in their home, he sexually molested them over the course of a few years. The sisters made the claim in connection with separate allegations that the timeline of the film was tweaked in order to leave the girls and their mother out of the story and instead feature Bernard Garrett Sr.'s first wife, even though he had already divorced her by the time of some of the events depicted in the film.


Apple declined to comment on the specifics of Cynthia Garrett’s claims. In a statement Wednesday announcing the cancellation of the premiere, the company said, "We purchased The Banker earlier this year as we were moved by the film's entertaining and educational story about social change and financial literacy. Last week some concerns surrounding the film were brought to our attention. We, along with the filmmakers, need some time to look into these matters and determine the best next steps."

Apple Tells Congress You'll Hurt Yourself If You Try To Fix Your iPhone, by Matthew Gault, Vice

“Apple’s argument is absurd,” Nathan Proctor, Director of the Campaign for the Right to Repair at US PIRG, told Motherboard in an email. “In defending their decision not to make spare parts or service information available, the company claims that certain parts and information are necessary for a reliable repair. It’s a totally circular argument. Apple wants their customers, and the federal government, to accept the notion that while a repair monopoly exists, it’s a beneficial monopoly, made for our good.”

L’Affaire Vaperware, by John Gruber, Daring Fireball

There are exceptions to almost every rule, and if Apple is considering exceptions to its vaping ban — and they should be — they should start with companies like Pax, whose apps cannot be replicated on the web and whose products can and often are used in legal, medically-sanctioned ways.