The Royalty-Free Edition Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Apple, Amazon, Google, And Zigbee To Develop Open Standard For Smart Home Devices, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

Apple, Amazon, Google, and the Zigbee Alliance today announced a new working group that plans to develop and promote the adoption of a new, royalty-free connectivity standard for smart home products, with a focus on increased compatibility, security, and simplified development for manufacturers.

The Big Story Of Podcasting In 2019 Was All About Spotify. Will 2020 Be The Year Apple Strikes Back?, by Nicholas Quah, Nieman Lab

Not that the prospect of Apple matching Spotify pound for pound with an exclusives/originals strategy is something that should be universally embraced, of course. There are more than a few podcast folk who feel weary about a Balkanized future, given podcasting’s historical relationship with openness. I, for one, am one such weary-wort. For what it’s worth, I subscribe to the perspective that Apple doesn’t have to match Spotify pound for pound in order to preserve its influence over the space. (To the extent that it wants to, which still seems like an open question.) Apple can, and should, match Spotify on other stuff — like being accessible on smart speakers or, you know, improving on its horrendous app — but I do sincerely believe there is a future where Apple can maintain its commitment to the open ecosystem and hold the line against Spotify.


Tim Cook’s Apple Had A Great Decade But No New Blockbusters, by Walt Mossberg, The Verge

But Cook does bear the responsibility for a series of actions that screwed up the Macintosh for years. The beloved mainstream MacBook Air was ignored for five years. At the other end of the scale, the Mac Pro, the mainstay of professional audio, graphics, and video producers, was first neglected then reissued in 2013 in a way that put form so far ahead of function that it enraged its customer base.

Some insiders think Cook allowed Ive’s design team far too much power and that the balance Jobs was able to strike between the designers and the engineers was gone, at least until Ive left the company earlier this year.

First, The Smartphone Changed. Then, Over A Decade, It Changed Us., by Joanna Stern, Wall Street Journal

Have we learned from our experience with the smartphone over the past decade? Will we be more prepared and better able to guide how the gadgets of tomorrow will change us? Or will we be just as buffeted about by the coming decade’s big technological leaps, surprised yet again by how little control we have over these inanimate objects that have so much control over us?

I like to think we’ve learned something, but at least I know one thing for sure: When the 2030 ball drops, I’ll blow the dust off my iPhone 11, and be shocked by the things it can’t do—and by the things I no longer think or feel.


Apple Really Doesn't Want Us Thinking About Touchscreen MacBooks—and Sidecar Proves It, by Leif Johnson, Macworld

I don’t think Apple grasps this simple point. It’s overthinking how people would use touchscreen laptops. Apple seems to assume users would want to use nothing but touch support on their MacBooks, but when I see colleagues and visitors using touchscreen Windows laptops in meetings, they’re not using them for complicated tasks like clone-stamping textures in Photoshop. They’re usually not diving deep into menus, and they’re certainly not trying to recreate one of Monet’s haystacks. Instead, they’re usually standing over their laptops and quickly swiping to different parts of a page or opening files or links, thereby saving a few seconds over what using a mouse or the trackpad would have taken. It’s sure a heck a lot more convenient than the Touch Bar, which has been Apple’s only concession to touch-based interaction on MacBooks to date.

Not Such A Bright Idea: Why Your Phone’s ‘Night Mode’ May Be Keeping You Awake, by Tim Dowling, The Guardian

‘Night mode” is one of those features you may be aware of only because your phone keeps telling you about it. At some point while you are lying in bed at night sending texts, your screen may politely suggest you activate a function that shifts the colours of your screen from the colder to the warmer end of the spectrum. It is supposed to help you sleep better.

Findings in a study led by Dr Tim Brown and published in Current Biology suggest this is the very opposite of correct. The research, carried out on mice, appears to rubbish the notion that blue light disrupts sleep. All things being equal, warm yellow light is worse.


Get Six Months Of Apple Music Free This Christmas, by Karen Haslam, Macworld UK

From now until New Years Eve you can get a six months subscription to Apple Music for free. All you need to do is Shazam something with the Shazam iPhone app. When you do so you will automatically be able to sign up for six months Apple Music for free.

Mac Pro Demonstrates 'Masterclass In Repairability' In Teardown, by Amber Neely, AppleInsider

Due to the nature of the Mac Pro's modular design, iFixit has given it an extremely high repairability score - a 9 out of 10. For many repairs and upgrades, users won't need any tools, and for the repairs that do, a basic repair kit is all that is needed.

iDevices Finally Get Key-based Protection Against Account Takeovers, by Dan Goodin, Ars Technica

Developed by the cross-industry FIDO alliance and adopted by the World Wide Web consortium in March, WebAuthn has no shortage of supporters. It has native support in Windows, Android, Chrome, Firefox, Opera, and Brave. Despite the support, WebAuthn has gained little more than niche status to date, in part because of the lack of support from the industry's most important platform.

Now, the standard finally has the potential to blossom into the ubiquitous technology many have hoped it would become. That's because of last week's release of iOS and iPadOS 13.3, which provide native support for the standard for the first time.


Meet The Mad Scientist Who Wrote The Book On How To Hunt Hackers, by Andy Greenberg, Wired

That fantasy version of Cliff Stoll is hard to make out in the mad scientist, klein bottle-selling Cliff Stoll of today. But, it turns out, underneath 30 years of layered polymath whimsy, the obsessed hacker hunter is still there.

‘The Far Side’ Is Back. Sort Of. Gary Larson Will Explain., by George Gene Gustines, New York Times

“I’m not ‘back,’ at least in the sense I think you’re asking,” said Gary Larson, the cartoonist who created it, via email last week ahead of a website revival. “Returning to the world of deadlines isn’t exactly on my to-do list.”

Beginning Tuesday, the “Far Side” site will provide visitors with “The Daily Dose,” a random selection of past cartoons, along with a weekly set of strips arranged by theme. There will also be a look at doodles from the sketchbooks of Larson, who said: “I’m looking forward to slipping in some new things every so often.”

Bottom of the Page

I've never really enjoyed Facebook, so it's not a surprise that I don't miss it after I quit.

Then, this past few months, I've quitted Twitter. And, it is a little of a surprise, I find that I don't miss Twitter either.

The only social network that I am following right now is MetaFilter.


Thanks for reading.