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Archive for January 2020

The Persistent-Fingerprint Edition Thursday, January 23, 2020

Flaws In Apple's Intelligent Tracking Prevention Safari Feature Let People Be Tracked, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

Google researchers say that Safari left personal data exposed because the Intelligent Tracking Prevention List "implicitly stores information about the websites visited by the user." Malicious entities could use these flaws to create a "persistent fingerprint" that would follow a user around the web or see what individual users were searching for on search engine pages.

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Apple appears to have addressed these Safari security flaws in a December update, based on a release update that thanked Google for its "responsible disclosure practice," though full security credit has not yet been provided by Apple so there's a chance that there's still some behind-the-scenes fixing to be done.

Can Apple Live Up To Apple’s Privacy Ads?, by Dieter Bohn, The Verge

This might sound like I’m railing against Apple for hypocrisy. I am not — yet. As I mentioned, data security is a spectrum and it’s difficult to understand how everything works in the first place. If I’m unhappy with Apple for anything, it’s for talking about data security and privacy in such absolutist terms.

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Apple Store Displays Redesigned With Greater Apple Arcade Focus, by Michael Steeber, 9to5Mac

Apple Arcade is leveling up in Apple Stores across the world with eye-catching new displays and a sharper focus on accessories to enhance the gaming experience. The new merchandising designs began appearing today at Apple’s latest stores in countries where Apple Arcade is available.

MindNode Releases Version 7, Introducing Visual Tags And Changing Business Model, by Mike Schmitz, The Sweet Setup

The biggest design change in MindNode version 7 is the addition of visual tags. Tags are a great way to categorize and organize your ideas and thoughts inside your mind map. For example, you might use visual tags to indicate priority or to group related ideas in separate branches of your mind map document that aren’t otherwise connected. Tags are displayed visually by colored dots at the end of node titles, and each node can have multiple tags applied to it.

Develop

Apple’s Newest Safari Technology Preview Release Officially Drops Support For Adobe Flash, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

This year officially marks the end of an era: as announced in 2017, Adobe will stop supporting the once-ubiquitous Flash by the end of 2020. With the newest release of its Safari Technology Preview browser today, Apple has taken the next step as part of its efforts to end all usage of Flash in Safari.

Procrastination Is About Managing Emotions, Not Time, by Christian Jarrett, BBC

Experts like Tim Pychyl at Carleton University in Canada and his collaborator Fuschia Sirois at the University of Sheffield in the UK have proposed that procrastination is an issue with managing our emotions, not our time. The task we’re putting off is making us feel bad – perhaps it’s boring, too difficult or we’re worried about failing – and to make ourselves feel better in the moment, we start doing something else, like watching videos.

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The next time you’re tempted to procrastinate, “make your focus as simple as ‘What’s the next action – a simple next step – I would take on this task if I were to get started on it now?’”. Doing this, he says, takes your mind off your feelings and onto easily achievable action. “Our research and lived experience show very clearly that once we get started, we’re typically able to keep going. Getting started is everything.”

Notes

My AirPods Fell Through A Subway Grate. Here’s How I Got Them Back., by Sandra E. Garcia, New York Times

Shortly after rummaging through leaves and paper, he poked his head out of the hole and extended his hand. He was holding my AirPod.

I gasped. King had slightly restored my faith in the M.T.A. I knew that my next train would probably be delayed, but in that moment I didn’t care. The M.T.A. had taken care of me this time.

After I thanked King, he replied, “This is what I do.”

Apple Met With Ukraine's Foreign Minister At Davos And It Looks Like They Discussed Apple's Controversial Decision To Alter Its Maps To Please Russia, by Charlie Wood, Business Insider

Apple executive Lisa Jackson met with Ukraine's foreign minister Vadym Prystaiko at Davos, two months after Apple controversially altered two apps to display annexed Crimea as part of Russia.

His tweet said the pair discussed Apple's "next steps" in the Ukrainian market, with a follow-up tweet hinting that the Crimea issue was also discussed.

The Very-Real-Need Edition Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Regarding Reuters’s Report That Apple Dropped Plan For Encrypting iCloud Backups, by John Gruber, Daring Fireball

If that is the case — that Apple’s legal department killed the project to avoid “poking the bear” — then it’s ultimately irrelevant whether Apple briefed the FBI in advance or not. It’s acquiescence, and users will be left unprotected. Not just in the U.S., where the FBI has jurisdiction, but everywhere in the world where encryption is legal.

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Surely there are hundreds, maybe thousands, of people every day who need to access their iCloud backups who do not remember their password. The fact that Apple can help them is a benefit to those users. That’s why I would endorse following the way local iTunes device backups work: make encryption an option, with a clear warning that if you lose your backup password, no one, including Apple, will be able to restore your data. I would be surprised if Apple’s plan for encrypted iCloud backups were not exactly that.

Apple Allegedly Dropped Full iCloud Backup Encryption Under FBI Pressure, by Josh Centers, TidBITS

Both our security editor, Rich Mogull, and iMore’s Rene Ritchie have heard that part of the motivation for not offering a personal encryption key is the number of people who lock themselves out of their iCloud accounts. As long as Apple holds those encryption keys, the company can help users get back into their accounts and restore their data.

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Regardless, Apple is stuck between a rock and a hard place. The company’s privacy stance dictates that it should allow users to encrypt their iCloud backups such that even it can’t peek into them. Simultaneously, Apple also has to deal with accusations, now from both Democratic and Republican administrations, of protecting criminals. And it must also walk the more prosaic line of trading off a hard-line privacy stance against the very real need to deal with simple human error at a massive scale.

Apple’s Decision On iCloud Backups Is Wrong, But Also Understandable, by Ben Lovejoy, 9to5Mac

So while it isn’t the ideal approach by Apple, it is a pragmatic one with few downsides. And one that might, in the long-run, reduce the risk legislation forcing Apple to compromise iOS, which would create massively greater risks.

Inside The $10 Million Cyber Lab Trying To Break Apple’s iPhone, by William D. Cohan, Fast Company

The district attorney of Manhattan, Cyrus Vance Jr., and the city’s cybercrime unit have built this electronic prison for a very specific purpose: to try, using brute force algorithms, to extract the data on the phones before their owners try to wipe the contents remotely.

Welcome to ground zero in the encryption battle between state and federal law enforcement officials on one side, and trillion-dollar tech giants Apple and Google on the other. About five years ago, with the introduction of its iOS8 operating system, Apple decided to encrypt all of its mobile devices—protecting both consumers and criminals from prying eyes. Google quickly followed suit, locking down its Android devices. The result has been an escalating cat and mouse game between Washington and Silicon Valley, with prosecutors like Vance trying to break into the phones, and Apple and Google racing to stop them.

Stuff

Apple Card Users Can Now Download Monthly Transactions In A Spreadsheet, by Matthew Panzarino, TechCrunch

One of the big questions I got around the time the Apple Card launched was whether you’d be able to download a file of your transactions to either work with manually or import into a piece of expenses management software. The answer, at the time, was no.

Now Apple is announcing that Apple Card users will be able to export monthly transactions to a downloadable spreadsheet that they can use with their personal budgeting apps or sheets.

iOS-based Devices: Zero-touch Management Essentials, by Jesus Vigo, Techrepublic

There are several components that build on one another, like layers of a cake, to provide the infrastructure necessary for enabling zero-touch management. There is no one killer application or service that does it all, but rather a symbiotic environment that must exist to ensure that iOS devices are supervised and managed accordingly. I'll identify the different components, explain how they work, and how they integrate into the overall scheme.

How To Use Microsoft To Do As A Cross Platform GTD Solution, by Josh Ginter, The Sweet Setup

Recently, I took a deep breath and a step back to see what kinds of cross-platform GTD options there are available to hybrid Mac and PC users. And while Todoist may be the immediate thought for most Sweet Setup readers, it was actually Microsoft’s own To Do app that caught my attention.

I can almost perfectly replicate my Things 3 setup inside Microsoft To Do and have cross-platform support to boot. In fact, it’s so close to be replicated functionality that I may abandon Things 3 for good.

Sensei: A Beautifully-Designed Dashboard And Set Of Utilities For Your Mac, by John Voorhees, MacStories

Sensei is a brand new Mac app that monitors the status of various components of your Mac’s hardware and provides a set of utilities to optimize its performance. The app is certainly not the first to offer these features – there are tools built into macOS and third-party apps that can accomplish many of the same functions, and in some cases more. However, what sets Sensei apart, and what has quickly won me over, is its ability to translate the data it collects and implement its utilities in a beautifully-designed, standalone app.

Develop

Apple Reminds Developers About Updates For HTML5 Apps And Changes To Kids App Categories, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

Apple today updated its developer news site with details about two upcoming changes that developers should be aware of.

Notes

Apple Planning To Make Original Podcasts Promoting Its TV Shows, by Lucas Shaw, Bloomberg

Apple sent out a request for pitches last summer, asking podcast producers to pitch ideas for audio programs with some connection to its shows, one of the people said. The company has since discussed making podcasts with producers of its original series, according to two of the people, who asked not to be identified because the plans aren’t final.

The Smartphone Has Changed How History Is Written, by Alexis C. Madrigal, The Atlantic

The driving force here is simple enough. Digital photos drive down the cost of archival research, allowing an individual to capture far more documents per hour. So, an archival visit becomes a process of standing over documents, snapping pictures as quickly as possible. Some researchers organize their photos swiping on an iPhone, or with an open-source tool named Tropy; some, like Alex Wellerstein, a historian at Stevens Institute of Technology, have special digital-camera setups, and a standardized method. In my own work, I used Dropbox’s photo tools, which I used to output PDFs, which dropped into Scrivener, my preferred writing software.

These practices might seem like a subtle shift—researchers are still going to collections and requesting boxes and reading papers—but the ways that information is collected and managed transmute what historians can learn from it. There has been, as Milligan put it, a “dramatic reshaping of historical practice.” Different histories will be written because the tools of the discipline are changing.

The Human-Connection Edition Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Tim Cook: ‘AR Will Pervade Our Entire Lives’, by Elaine Burke, Silicon Republic

Interestingly, the tech CEO sees benefits for AR and connecting people, more than other available technologies. “I think it’s something that doesn’t isolate people. We can use it to enhance our discussion, not substitute it for human connection, which I’ve always deeply worried about in some of the other technologies.”

Cook is also “extremely excited” about tech in healthcare realm. “I’m seeing that this intersection has not yet been explored very well. There’s not a lot of tech associated with the way people’s healthcare is done unless they get into very serious trouble.”

Exclusive: Apple Dropped Plan For Encrypting Backups After FBI Complained - Sources, by Joseph Menn, Reuters

Apple Inc dropped plans to let iPhone users fully encrypt backups of their devices in the company’s iCloud service after the FBI complained that the move would harm investigations, six sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

The tech giant’s reversal, about two years ago, has not previously been reported. It shows how much Apple has been willing to help U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies, despite taking a harder line in high-profile legal disputes with the government and casting itself as a defender of its customers’ information.

Stuff

NapBot Apple Watch Sleep Tracker Adds iPhone-free App, New Complications, Awake Trends, More, by Michael Potuck, 9to5Mac

Apple Watch sleep tracking app NapBot is out today with a big update that brings some handy new features including background tracking so it can work without iPhone, daily notifications, support for all complication types, redesigned Siri watch face card, trend for awake minutes, and more.

Notes

Who Do Smart Cities Serve? It Depends On Who You Are, by Chris Gilliard, Fast Company

That “click” sound is familiar to me. I grew up in Detroit in the early 1980s, around the time when car door power locks were becoming standard, and I would assert that for probably any Black man who grew up in any American city at that time, it was a common experience to walk down a street and hear that sound (especially at night). Click. Click. Click. Even during the summer, folks would have their windows down and still lock their car doors as I walked by. This performance was not particularly secure, mind you. If my intentions were actually to harm someone sitting in their car, a locked door with an open window is a very ineffective barrier. But the sound perhaps served more as an audible and technological reminder of how I, along with other Black men, were seen by the culture. And it was inescapable. There was no “opting out” of this form of what we now refer to as “security theater”: practices that present the illusion of increasing security or safety, but have no meaningful effect.

Digital surveillance has grown exponentially in the last few years, and with it the scope and scale of security apparatus deployed across urban environments. How does the visibility—or invisibility—of these technologies elicit performative acts from people at each end of the surveilling gaze? How is one expected to act as the person watching, or as the person being watched? In the case of the mechanical door lock, the click emboldens a driver, making them feel safer, while at the same time signaling to those outside that the driver is aware of their presence. For the person outside of the car, the effect is quite different: The click signifies that you are seen, and indicates that you are perceived as a threat. A seemingly discrete act transforms not only the user of the tech and the person who is targeted by their act, but even the spatial context around it.

Apple Partner Pegatron To Set Up Production In Vietnam, by Debby Wu, Bloomberg

Taiwan’s Pegatron Corp. plans to set up production facilities in Vietnam, according to people familiar with the matter, becoming the latest Apple Inc. assembly partner to establish a presence in the Southeast Asian nation as they diversify beyond China.

Why Apple CEO Tim Cook Invested In A Shower Head, by Mark Gurman, Bloomberg

Tim Cook rarely invests his time and money in products without the Apple Inc. logo. But when he tried a prototype shower head at his local gym about five years ago, he made an exception.

Philip Winter, who helped create the Nebia shower head, recalls moving to San Francisco in 2014 to get his idea off the ground. The shower head sprays in a way that uses less water, but still keeps people warm. Crafted from materials including aluminum, the system looks like something Apple might design, if it made bathroom hardware.

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It will be a shame if Apple truly stopped working on encrypted iCloud backups. It is a further shame that cloud backups is not something that third-party apps can truly offer in iOS.

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Thanks for reading.

The Spring-TV Edition Monday, January 20, 2020

Apple Solidifies Its Spring TV+ Slate, by Lesley Goldberg, The Hollywood Reporter

Outside of the two renewals, Apple's announcements were focused on setting its spring slate as the company's rollout plans begin to take shape. Originals, be they scripted dramas and comedies or docuseries, will pick up in February with two series, Mythic Quest (all episodes on Feb. 7) and the LGBTQ doc Visible: Out on Television (Feb. 14, all episodes). The episodic anthology Amazing Stories is set to bow March 6 with its first five episodes, though there was no information about when the remainder of the series from executive producer Steven Spielberg will return.

In April, Apple ramps up its release pattern with three originals — Home Before Dark (April 3, three episodes); the real estate docuseries Home (all episodes); and the Chris Evans vehicle Defending Jacob (April 24, first three episodes). Apple's first U.K. comedy, Trying, arrives May 1, followed June 5 by the docuseries with all episodes of both available at launch. The animated comedy from Bob's Burgers creator Loren Bouchard and featuring a star-studded voice cast, will launch in early summer; a formal premiere date has not been revealed for the comedy that Apple picked up straight-to-series amid competition from both Netflix and Hulu.

How Apple TV+ Put Diversity At The Forefront During Its TCA Debut, by Tim Baysinger, The Wrap

If there was an early theme on Sunday, it was Apple’s commitment to diversity. Apple’s TCA slate featured series about immigrant stories, as well as one focusing on LGTBQ representation.

Even Apple TV+'s Biggest Stars Don't Know How Their Shows Are Doing, by Kelsey Sutton, Adweek

“They’re happy—that’s all we know,” said Witherspoon, who stars as newswoman Bradley Jackson in the series and also executive produces. “The only metric I really have of it is from Rotten Tomatoes.”

“That’s the thing with these streaming services,” added Aniston, who plays Alex Levy in the show. “There are no ratings.”

SAG Awards: Jennifer Aniston Lands Apple TV Plus Its First Major Hollywood Win, by Michael Schneider, Variety

Apple TV Plus is on the board. The new streaming service won its first major Hollywood honor on Sunday, as “The Morning Show” star Jennifer Aniston picked up a SAG Award for best female actor in a drama.

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New Apple iPhone 11 Ads Show Off Slofies On A Snowboard, by Wesley Hilliard, AppleInsider

The first spot is called "Whiteout" and shows a professional snowboarder crashing through a snow drift using the front facing camera's slow-mode feature.

The iPad Pro Can Now Run Fortnite At 120 Frames Per Second, by Sam Byford, The Verge

This mode makes the most of the screen’s high refresh rate to deliver ultra-smooth performance.

Notes

Apple's Cook Says Global Corporate Tax System Must Be Overhauled, by Padraic Halpin, Reuters

Everyone knows that the global corporate tax system needs to be overhauled, Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook said on Monday, backing changes to global rules that are currently under consideration.

The growth of internet giants such as Apple has pushed international tax rules to the limit, prompting the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to pursue global reforms over where multinational firms should be taxed.

Pressured By Simmons Over Film, Oprah Winfrey Was Caught In A Bind, by Ben Sisario, New York Times

Ms. Winfrey said that she still believed Ms. Dixon, though she also thought there were inconsistencies in her account that the film had not adequately addressed, in addition to other issues she had with the film.

She said it was those reasons, and not Mr. Simmons’s protestations, that led her to pull support.

The Win-Over-Algorithms Edition Sunday, January 19, 2020

A New Obstacle To Landing A Job After College: Getting Approved By AI, by Rachel Metz, CNN

College career centers used to prepare students for job interviews by helping them learn how to dress appropriately or write a standout cover letter. These days, they're also trying to brace students for a stark new reality: They may be vetted for jobs in part by artificial intelligence.

At schools such as Duke University, Purdue University, and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, career counselors are now working to find out which companies use AI and also speaking candidly with students about what, if anything, they can do to win over the algorithms. This shift in preparations comes as more businesses interested in filling internships and entry-level positions that may see a glut of applicants turn to outside companies such as HireVue to help them quickly conduct vast numbers of video interviews.

Multitasking, Windows, And The Mac, by Dr Drang, And Now It's All This

The main reason you might think all of the windows associated with an app should also come forward when you click on one of them is because you got used to that behavior. It’s familiar, which is important, but not necessarily correct.

Latest Apple Distinguished School Is Northeast Mississippi Community College, by Wesley Hilliard, AppleInsider

After the Northeast Mississippi Community College (NEMCC) implemented a new initiative called oNE Northeast, every student was required to purchase an iPad for use throughout the entirety of their education there. The initiative was introduced to reduce the cost of textbooks and engage more with the students in the classroom.

The initiative worked. NEMCC saw nearly $6 million in savings from textbooks alone. Student grades also saw a benefit, with students' work raising the average from 72% to 80%.

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I'm so not optimstic about the future of work.

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Thanks for reading.

The Feeling-of-Closeness Edition Saturday, January 18, 2020

How Headphones Are Changing The Sound Of Music, by Dan Kopf, Quartz

“Listening to music on headphones is very different to speakers where there is a temporal and spatial difference between you and the music,” says Charlie Harding, one of the hosts of the podcast Switched On Pop and co-author of a new book on music theory in popular music. Harding partially credits the success of podcasting to headphones: listening that way creates a feeling of closeness between the hosts and listener.

Similarly, he hears this in the singing of some pop artists, particularly Selena Gomez and Billie Eilish. “Their style of singing is almost like a whisper, as if they are right in your head,” he says. The recent single by Gomez, “Look at Her Now” is a perfect example according to Harding.

Apple Publishes New Transparency Report Detailing Govt Data Requests And App Store Removals, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Amid its ongoing encryption battle with the FBI, Apple has published its latest biannual transparency report. This report reveals how many requests were made for user data by governments around the world, and how many with which Apple could comply.

'No Way' Apple Breaking Encryption For FBI Wouldn't Hurt Public, Privacy Advocates Say, by Tyler Sonnemaker, Business Insider

"It's not some simple trade-off that somehow increases national security at the cost of one person's individual privacy," Alan Butler, general counsel for the Electronic Privacy Information Center, told Business Insider.

Butler said the bigger threat is weaker encryption, which could make it easier for bad actors to access people's devices in addition to law enforcement. The very point of encrypting a device is to provide its user with increased security, he said, whether that means protecting their financial information against cyber theft or safeguarding their home against physical theft.

Barr’s Encryption Push Is Decades In The Making, But Troubles Some At FBI, by Sadie Gurman, Dustin Volz and Tripp Mickle, Wall Street Journal

Some senior FBI officials say privately they are worried that Mr. Barr’s sharp tone could undermine relationships with technology companies they have worked hard to develop, people familiar with the matter said.

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Some FBI officials were stunned by Mr. Barr’s rebuke of Apple, the people familiar with the matter said, and believe the Pensacola case is the wrong one to press in the encryption fight, in part because they believed Apple had already provided ample assistance to the probe.

Companies Burned By Big Tech Plead For Congress To Regulate Apple, Amazon, Facebook And Google, by Tony Romm, Washington Post

The testimony came as part of a wide-ranging antitrust probe into Silicon Valley’s biggest players that House lawmakers aim to wrap up — with recommendations for regulation — in the coming months.

More On Tile’s Complaints About Apple In Congressional Testimony, by John Gruber, Daring Fireball

At some level it is unfair, but what’s the alternative? You’re either asking for Apple (and other big platform vendors) to be severely hamstrung from innovating with integrated new products, or you’re asking for third-parties to be given low-level access to the OS on mobile platforms — a privacy and security nightmare.

Stuff

Siri’s Been Reading My Messages And I Love It, by Charlie Sorrel, Cult of Mac

The result of all this is that you can have an iMessage conversation as you walk, without ever touching your iPhone or even your Apple Watch. I absolutely love it, and I get very few messages. If I got a lot of communications, I’d probably find it even more useful. Especially as you can choose which messages Siri announces: Everyone, recents, all contacts, or favorites.

Apple Music, NBA Strike Deal For Playlist, Songs In Highlights, by Mark Gurman, Bloomberg

Apple Inc. and the National Basketball Association on Thursday announced a partnership that includes an Apple Music playlist featuring independent artists from an emerging label.

ProCamera Is Still The iOS Photo App To Beat, by Mel Martin, Fstoppers

Its features are in a language semi-pros and pros will understand. It works in a variety of image formats and aspect ratios.

Develop

Nothing Changes Until You Do, by Kate MacAleavey, Armory

When you, as a leader, start to change what you are doing, it gives everyone else permission to change. When you ask yourself, "What can I do differently?" Other people will start to ask that very same question. Behavior change at any point in life is difficult, that’s why when it happens, the results are powerful. And if you chose to be brave enough to share your vulnerable learnings, you will build a level of trust with your employees you couldn't have dreamed up.

Notes

Clever, Powerful, Useful: Time To Upgrade The Mac's Energy Settings, by Jason Snell, Six Colors

Of course, a better idea would be to provide users with more granular power-management controls, perhaps even with location-aware presets like Connectix PowerBook Utilities offered in the early 90s. I know that Apple’s tendency is to prevent users from fiddling with their computers’ settings in detail, but let’s be honest—the Energy Saver system preference pane is already an enormous collection of sliders and checkboxes. Adding a few more wouldn’t hurt anyone.

Panicking About Your Kids’ Phones? New Research Says Don’t, by Nathaniel Popper, New York Times

In most cases, they say, the phone is just a mirror that reveals the problems a child would have even without the phone.

The researchers worry that the focus on keeping children away from screens is making it hard to have more productive conversations about topics like how to make phones more useful for low-income people, who tend to use them more, or how to protect the privacy of teenagers who share their lives online.

Avoiding Carsickness When The Cars Drive Themselves, by Bradley Berman, New York Times

The day is approaching when commuters stuck in soul-crushing traffic will be freed from the drudgery of driving. Companies are investing billions to devise sensors and algorithms so motorists can turn our attention to where we like it these days: our phones.

But before the great promise of multitasking on the road can be realized, we need to overcome an age-old problem: motion sickness. “The autonomous-vehicle community understands this is a real problem it has to deal with,” said Monica Jones, a transportation researcher at the University of Michigan. “That motivates me to be very systematic.”

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It is not a good sign that I started feeling anxious of Monday morning on Saturday morning.

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Thanks for reading.

The Prison-of-Convenience Edition Friday, January 17, 2020

Every Place Is The Same Now, by Ian Bogost, The Atlantic

Until the 20th century, one had to leave the house for almost anything: to work, to eat or shop, to entertain yourself, to see other people. For decades, a family might have a single radio, then a few radios and a single television set. The possibilities available outside the home were far greater than those within its walls. But now, it’s not merely possible to do almost anything from home—it’s also the easiest option. Our forebears’ problem has been inverted: Now home is a prison of convenience that we need special help to escape.

Why Is The Apple TV Constantly Advertising At Us?, by Josh Centers, TidBITS

The Apple TV app on the Apple TV is currently the bane of my existence. In theory, it should be a tidy way to manage everything you watch, bringing together content from Apple, Disney+, HBO, Hulu, and other streaming services (but still not Netflix, for some reason), plus live news and even sports. It sort of does that, but over time, Apple has started using the app to push the company’s own paid content, especially its Apple TV+ service. Open the Apple TV app and it inundates you with ads for Apple TV+ and its shows. Frankly, this bugs the heck out of me, especially since many of the ads are inappropriate for my kid to see, but before I succumb to the need to rant, here’s a tweak to make the Apple TV app a little more tolerable.

Apple To Release 'The Banker' In Theaters This March, by Matt Donnelly, Variety

“We wanted to take the time to understand the situation at hand — and after reviewing the information available to us, including documentation of the filmmakers’ research, we’ve decided to make this important and enlightening film available to viewers.”

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Apple Reminding Customers To Redeem Their Free Year Of Apple TV+ As Offer Deadline Approaches, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

Apple has started sending out push notification reminders to users who are eligible to redeem a free year of Apple TV+, but have not yet done so.

The notification reads: “Expiring Soon: Your Free of Apple TV+”. Apple is also sending out email alerts in the same vein.

Review: Zens Liberty Wireless Charger Is A Solid AirPower Alternative With Room For Two Qi Devices And Apple Watch, by Mitchel Broussard, MacRumors

Zens' promise of "freedom of placement" on the mat turned out to be entirely accurate, allowing me to throw down my ‌iPhone 11 Pro Max‌ in nearly any orientation without having to worry about landing on the Qi "sweet spot," which is something I constantly fussed with on the Belkin charger.

Get Organized With This Powerful Scheduling App, by Jessica Lanman, Komando

This is a great way to lay out your day because it helps maximize your time. You’ll feel more driven to finish a task in an hour if you know not doing it will eat into the hour-long break you gave yourself afterward.

Notes

Goldman Sachs Stresses That It Decides Who Gets An Apple Card — After Apple's Snub That It Was 'Created By Apple, Not A Bank', by Theron Mohamed. Business Insider

"Are you going to be hamstrung trying to collect those delinquencies because of the way it's been branded as an Apple Card, and it's not a bank?" he asked finance boss Stephen Scherr on Goldman's earnings call.

"Whoever lays claim to the creation of the card, there's only one institution that's making underwriting decisions, and that's Goldman Sachs," Scherr replied.

'Break Up Big Tech's Monopoly': Smaller Rivals Join Growing Chorus Ahead Of Congress Hearing, by Nandita Bose, Reuters

Early the following year, Tile’s executives read news reports of Apple launching a hardware product along with a service that resembled what Tile sold. By June, Apple had stopped selling Tile’s products in stores and has since hired away one of its engineers.

“After thoughtful consideration and months of bringing our concerns to Apple through regular ... channels, Tile has made the decision to continue raising concerns over Apple’s anti-competitive practices,” Tile general counsel Kirsten Daru told Reuters in an interview.

The Solid-Science Edition Thursday, January 16, 2020

Worried About 5G And Cancer? Here’s Why Wireless Networks Pose No Known Health Risk, by Glenn Fleishman, TidBITS

With no evidence of sensitivity, no increase in cancers, irreproducible studies that have led to dead ends, and no epidemic of conditions among the large, long-term population of cell-phone and Wi-Fi users, we’re led to one conclusion: There is no health risk associated with everyday exposure to common EMFs. That’s the case even if, intuitively, it feels like there must be a link. We may never get over that feeling, but we should base our behavior and policy on solid science, not feelings.

Stuff

Apple Ads Reveal How Artists Create Apple TV+ Show Posters On iPad Pro, by AppleInsider

Two videos were posted to Apple's official YouTube channel on Wednesday, each offering viewers a behind-the-scenes look at the genesis of posters made for Apple TV+ series "Dickinson" and "For All Mankind."

Review: SecureDrive BT, The Encrypted External SSD You Can Unlock With Face ID, by Ben Lovejoy, 9to5Mac

The app lets you set a password in the 7- to 15-character range, and you can then choose to toggle on Face ID, Apple Watch unlock, or both. The drive offers remote-wipe capabilities, and can be set to automatically wipe if 10 incorrect passwords are entered.

Notes

Apple Buys Edge-based AI Startup Xnor.ai For A Reported $200M, by Devin Coldewey, TechCrunch

Xnor.ai began as a process for making machine learning algorithms highly efficient — so efficient that they could run on even the lowest tier of hardware out there, things like embedded electronics in security cameras that use only a modicum of power. Yet using Xnor’s algorithms they could accomplish tasks like object recognition, which in other circumstances might require a powerful processor or connection to the cloud.

Apple Taps Drone Specialist To Lobby Washington On Aviation, by Mark Gurman, Bloomberg

Apple has a team exploring satellites, a type of unmanned aircraft, and Ellman could assist in regulatory efforts that would need to be conducted to launch such an effort. Apple rivals, including Amazon.com Inc. and Alphabet Inc., have developed drones in recent years.

Silicon Valley Abandons The Culture That Made It The Envy Of The World, by Alexis C. Madrigal, The Atlantic

This sort of talk prompts one obvious, knee-jerk response: It’s simply hypocrisy. When Google and Facebook were start-ups, their executives said start-ups were good. Now that Google and Facebook are huge, their executives say huge companies are good. It’s cynical, if not unexpected.

But there’s a more troubling possibility. Maybe something has changed about the nature of innovation, at least in software.

The Frustration-and-Skepticism Edition Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Apple Takes A (Cautious) Stand Against Opening A Killer’s iPhones, by Jack Nicas, New York Times

Executives at Apple have been surprised by the case’s quick escalation, said people familiar with the company who were not authorized to speak publicly. And there is frustration and skepticism among some on the Apple team working on the issue that the Justice Department hasn’t spent enough time trying to get into the iPhones with third-party tools, said one person with knowledge of the matter.

[...]

This time, Apple is facing off against the Trump administration, which has been unpredictable. The stakes are high for Mr. Cook, who has built an unusual alliance with President Trump that has helped Apple largely avoid damaging tariffs in the trade war with China. That relationship will now be tested as Mr. Cook confronts Mr. Barr, one of the president’s closest allies.

Stuff

Apple’s Rack Mountable Mac Pro Is Now Available For Purchase For $6499, by Jeff Benjamin, 9to5Mac

The unit, which features the same build to order components as the regular Mac Pro, features rack mounting rails that ship in a separate box.

AirPods Pro 2C54 Firmware: Worse Noise Canceling, Improved Frequency Response And Bass Accuracy, by MacRumors

RTINGS published its findings today and does confirm that the 2C54 objectively worsens the AirPods Pro active noise canceling feature.

Nomad Unveils Base Station Stand Charger With Leather + Aluminum Design, AirPods Support, More, by 9to5Mac

One of the key standout features of the Nomad Base Station Stand is support for wirelessly charging AirPods and AirPods Pro. Many stands aren’t capable charging AirPods because they only feature one charging coil, located in the center. The Nomad Base Station Stand features two wireless coils, each offering up to 10W of power.

Develop

Apple Releases Xcode 11.3.1 Update For Developers, by Filipe Espósito, 9to5Mac

This week’s update features overall improvements and bug fixes, including enhancements to compile Swift files.

Many Games Are Held Together By Duct Tape, by Patricia Hernandez, Polygon

“Games aren’t just an ordinary piece of software, they are a complex beast that require many different disciplines to successfully ship, and often on timelines that require sacrifices to be made,” said game developer James Simpson in an email. “I know many developers get bent out of shape trying to make their code perfect. Open source code like this makes it clear that you can successfully ship without that level of perfection.”

Notes

The Unofficial Apple Archive Is On A Mission To Save Apple History And Inspire New Creators, by Michael Steeber, 9to5Mac

“The whole project began for me when the EveryAppleAds YouTube channel was taken down in April 2017,” Sam says. “I was away in Massachusetts at the time, so I just started by going on YouTube and typing in “apple commercial 1976,” downloading whatever I could, and stuffing the videos in an iCloud Drive folder. I only had a hundred or so videos when I started up a YouTube channel. I think it remained up for a whopping six days before my channel was abruptly removed without a trace. Had it remained up on YouTube, I think I would’ve neglected the archive a lot more than I have.”

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I'm looking at all the old iMac advertisements -- the CRT version of the iMac -- and I was thinking: all that empty wasted space inside the case!

:-)

~

Thanks for reading.

The Substantive-Assistance Edition Tuesday, January 14, 2020

US Attorney General Bill Barr Asked Apple To Unlock The Pensacola Shooter's Phones. Apple Said No., by Scott Lucas, BuzzFeed News

"We reject the characterization that Apple has not provided substantive assistance in the Pensacola investigation. Our responses to their many requests since the attack have been timely, thorough and are ongoing," the company said in a statement. "We responded to each request promptly, often within hours, sharing information with FBI offices in Jacksonville, Pensacola and New York. The queries resulted in many gigabytes of information that we turned over to investigators. In every instance, we responded with all of the information that we had."

But Apple said nothing about actually unlocking the gunman's two iPhones. Instead, it reiterated its stance on privacy.

"We have always maintained there is no such thing as a backdoor just for the good guys," the company explained. "Backdoors can also be exploited by those who threaten our national security and the data security of our customers. ... We feel strongly encryption is vital to protecting our country and our users' data.

Microsoft CEO Says Encryption Backdoors Are A ‘Terrible Idea’, by Russell Brandom, The Verge

“I do think backdoors are a terrible idea, that is not the way to go about this,” Nadella said. “We’ve always said we care about these two things: privacy and national security. We need some legal and technical solution in our democracy to have both of those be priorities.”

Along those lines, Nadella expressed support for key escrow systems, versions of which have been proposed by researchers in the past.

Activating Modes

macOS Beta Hints At Future 'Pro Mode' To Boost Performance On Portable Macs, by Filipe Espósito, 9to5Mac

The latest macOS Catalina 10.15.3 beta build contains references to a new “Pro Mode,” which can be turned on and off by users. Some strings mention that “Apps may run faster, but battery life may decrease and fan noise may increase” and “Fan speed limit overridden” when the Pro Mode is activated.

Low Power Mode For Mac Laptops: Making The Case Again, by Marco Arment

Please, Apple, make this feature official: give us a Low Power Mode for macOS that disables Turbo Boost to keep our laptops cool, quiet, and long-lasting at times when those are more important to us than speed.

Stuff

Apple Introduces 'Reality Converter' App To View, Edit USDZ 3D Objects On Mac, by AppleInsider

Developers are able to modify the resulting file by customizing material properties with new textures, editing metadata and more. In addition, the resulting 3D objects can be previewed under various lighting and environmental conditions thanks to built-in IBL options, a useful tool for evaluation in an augmented reality space.

Notes

Get Ready For More Phones With No Buttons, by Julian Chokkattu, Wired

First, they came for headphone jacks. Buttons are next.

The Dark Side Of CAPTCHA, Google's Annoying, Ineffective Security Tool, by Hussein Kesvani, MEL

The answer probably has less to do with security and privacy, and more with tech companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon pivoting to A.I.-driven automation and relying on us to train their bots for free — and without our knowledge.

[...]

And, of course, there’s a darker side to all of this.

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My very first iPhone -- the iPhone 3G -- was retired by me because the Home button stopped working. From that point on, I was wary of the home buttons of every single iPhone I owned. I was so happy when I upgraded to iPhone X.

The side and volume buttons never gave me problems. I always wanted a physical play/pause button, just like the old iPods. But I guess that button has migrated to my ears. (AirPods, that is.)

~

Thanks for reading.

The Stop-Sharing Edition Monday, January 13, 2020

Apple's New Privacy Features Have Further Rattled The Location-based Ad Market, by Seb Joseph, DigiDay

“People have decided to stop their phones’ sharing location data at a universal level,” said Jason Smith, chief business officer at Location Sciences.

All the background location data that previously had been made available for targeted advertising is lost to marketers when people decide they don’t want their apps to share it with other companies.

For Platforms Like Netflix And Hulu, Password Sharing Might Be Their Own 'Streaming Crisis', by Danny Vena, Motley Fool

Among younger viewers, Netflix is the most shared, with 56% giving out their password, but Disney rocketed up the charts – taking second place – with 31% of younger viewers sharing credentials. The other big names suffered similar fates, with Hulu at 30%, Apple TV+ at 17%, Amazon at 14%, and HBO Now at 10%.

If the results are representative of the larger population of viewers – and there's no reason to think they're not – this has huge implications for the future of streaming. Netflix has the most to lose, as the company has the deepest penetration of any streaming service – but this poses a similar problem for all the streaming providers.

Apple TV+ Takes Home Its First Awards Win, As Billy Crudup Named Best Supporting Actor At The Critics Choice Awards, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

Apple TV+ has scooped its first major awards win tonight. Billy Crudup won the Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series Critics Choice Award, for his performance as Cory Ellison in The Morning Show.

In this year’s Critics Choice awards, Apple’s streaming service only got one nomination but it converted that into a win today.

Notes

I Went To See A Movie, And Instead I Saw The Future, by Jason Fried, Signal v Noise

This is the future, I’m afraid. A future that plans on everything going right so no one has to think about what happens when things go wrong. Computers don’t make mistakes. An automated future where no one actually knows how things work. A future where people are so far removed from the process that they stand around powerless, unable to take the reigns. A future where people don’t remember how to help one another in person. A future where corporations are so obsessed with efficiency, that it doesn’t make sense to staff a theater with technical help because things only go wrong sometimes. A future with a friendlier past.

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Apple's products has clearly influenced others in all the industries to follow suit. All work laptops now look like MacBook Airs. (The clear exception are gaming laptops.) All phones look like iPhones. And all smartwatches do fitness and health.

The next step for Apple, then, is to influence others so that all companies look like Apple. Privacy is a good first step.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Dumplings-for-New-Year Edition Sunday, January 12, 2020

Apple Shares Special ‘Shot On iPhone’ Short Film To Celebrate Chinese New Year, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

As it has done for the past several years, Apple is celebrating Chinese New Year with a short film as part of its “Shot on iPhone” series. The short film comes in at 8-minutes long and is entitled “Daughter.”

This Developer Was Surprised That Apple Card Didn't Let Him Download Spending Data, So He Built A Fix, by Kif Leswing, CNBC

Jed Schmidt, an independent programmer based in New York, found the omission particularly striking for a credit card launched in 2019 by a massive technology company in conjunction Goldman Sachs, a major bank. So he hacked a fix himself.

Schmidt created csv.wtf specifically to parse Apple Card statements and arrange the data onto a spreadsheet so consumers could export the information and dig into their expenses. The web app works on phones and desktops.

Develop

Goodbye, Clean Code, by Dan Abramov, Overreacted

Clean code is not a goal. It’s an attempt to make some sense out of the immense complexity of systems we’re dealing with. It’s a defense mechanism when you’re not yet sure how a change would affect the codebase but you need guidance in a sea of unknows.

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Yes, that little computer in your pocket can be used to shoot a nice little film. You'll also need some drones, and light equipement, and rain generators, and an entire crew… but that's not my point. My point is: the every-day equipments you have today are more than good enough already. It's the software -- the ideas, the stories, the performance -- that are even more critical today.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Charging-Issues Edition Saturday, January 11, 2020

Apple Launches Replacement Program For Smart Battery Cases Designed For iPhone XS, XS Max, And XR, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

According to Apple, some Smart Battery Cases can experience charging issues, including cases that will not charge or charge intermittently when plugged into power, or cases that will not charge an iPhone or charge it intermittently.

The One Remaining Use Of The Word “Macintosh”, by Adam Engst, TidBITS

My search confirmed my initial hunch that there is only one official remaining use of the word “Macintosh” by today’s Apple: the default “Macintosh HD” name of the internal drive on a new Mac. Many Mac users personalize that name immediately, although less experienced Mac users often don’t realize they’re allowed to change it.

Apple Pushes Recycling With Robot, But Mined Metals Still Needed, by Ernest Scheyder and Stephen Nellis, Reuters

Apple Inc is trying to change the way electronics are recycled with a robot that disassembles its iconic iPhone so that minerals can be recovered and reused, but rising global demand for electronics means new mines will still be needed by manufacturers.

The Cupertino, California-based company says the robot is part of its plan to become a “closed-loop” manufacturer that does not rely on the mining industry, an aggressive goal that some industry analysts have said is impossible.

Notes

Oprah Winfrey Steps Away From Russell Simmons Accuser Doc, Pulls From Apple+, by Lacey Rose, Hollywood Reporter

“I have decided that I will no longer be executive producer on The Untitled Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering documentary and it will not air on Apple TV+," Winfrey said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. "First and foremost, I want it to be known that I unequivocally believe and support the women. Their stories deserve to be told and heard. In my opinion, there is more work to be done on the film to illuminate the full scope of what the victims endured, and it has become clear that the filmmakers and I are not aligned in that creative vision.”

A Music Artist Says Apple Music Pays Her 4 Times What Spotify Does Per Stream, And It Shows How Wildly Royalty Payments Can Vary Between Services, by Alyssa Meyers, Business Insider

"I wanted people to see the difference between all of the services," Keating said. "Down at the lower levels, no one knows what everyone else makes and no one knows what services pay. How can you make decisions if you don't know what the numbers are?"

[...]

Streaming services cut massive checks to hitmakers like Billie Eilish, Taylor Swift, Post Malone, and other frequent chart-toppers each month, but some smaller artists like Keating feel the payment system isn't fair to them.

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I have never renamed my Machintosh HD, and now, after realizing that's the last of the Macintosh name, I'll probably never will.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Quietly-Slashed Edition Friday, January 10, 2020

Apple Slashes Estimated Trade-In Values Of iPhone, iPad, Mac, And Apple Watch Models Overnight, by Tim Hardwick, MacRumors

Overnight, Apple has quietly slashed almost all of its maximum estimated trade-in values of second-hand iPhones, iPads, Macs, and Apple Watch models.

For example, yesterday on Apple's device trade-in program web page, the iPhone XS Max had an estimated trade-in value of up to $600, but today Apple is only offering up to $500 –– a full $100 less than it did 24 hours ago. The only devices that have been spared reductions are the MacBook Pro, Mac Pro, and ‌Apple Watch‌ Series 1, 2, and 3.

Apple Accepting Donations To Aid Australian Bushfire Relief, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

Customers can make Red Cross donations simply through the iTunes and App Store, using their associated payment method. Apple does not collect any commission or processing fees, 100% of donations go to the charity.

Apple’s Security And Privacy Is Good, But Could Be Even Better, by Dan Moren, Macworld

If you feel like we’ve been here before, it’s because we have. Back in 2016, the FBI wanted Apple to unlock a phone belonging to the San Bernardino shooter; Apple declined to help, as doing so would have potentially compromised the security of all of its devices. Eventually, the bureau sought help from an Israeli-based cyber security firm who was able to hack into phone in question.

Leaving aside the dangers inherent in the creation of backdoors into the technology we all rely upon, I think this is as good a time as any for Apple to double down on its (already pretty solid) security focus. Because when it comes to digital information and our devices, what we need is not less security, but more.

Stuff

Front And Center Makes The Mac Finder Behave Like It Should, by Charlie Sorrel, Cult of Mac

Clicking an app’s window brings it to the foreground, of course. But did you notice that only the window you clicked came forward. If that other app has any other windows open, they will stay hidden. It wasn’t always this way. In pre-OS X days, the default behavior was to bring all those windows to the front. And now, thanks to a new app called Front and Center, from John Siracusa, you can get this behavior on a modern Mac.

A First Look At The Doppler 2 Music App, by Marius Masalar, The Sweet Setup

Streaming may have revolutionized our listening habits, but some of us still value a standalone music collection, and Doppler offers a streamlined way to enjoy it on the go.

Jillian Michaels Fitness App, by Jiff Duffy, PC Magazine

The Jillian Michaels Fitness app and program seems best suited for people who are already at least a little bit fit and want to be fitter. While you can set a goal of losing weight, maintaining weight, or building muscle, the plan is poised to boost people along their fitness journey rather than help those who are starting from square one with issues like changing their eating mindset and their relationship to food.

Notes

Fun With Charts: Why Apple's Services And Wearables Are In The Spotlight, by Jason Snell, Six Colors

So when you read about Tim Cook emphasizing Services and Wearables to financial analysts or in a quick interview on CNBC come January 28—this is why. In less than half a decade, Services and Wearables have gone from afterthoughts to a third of Apple’s business.

Apple Stock Hits Record After Chinese Government Data Shows iPhone Sales Spike, by William Feuer, CNBC

Apple's iPhone sales in China rose more than 18% last month, according to CNBC calculations using government data published by the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology, a government think tank.

The news drove Apple stock up more than 2% Thursday, bringing the stock to a fresh all-time intraday high of $310.01, according to FactSet.

With Its New Ad-targeting Tech, Spotify Is Sharpening Its Platform Power In Podcasting, by Nicholas Quah, Nieman Lab

“We’re bringing podcast advertising up to par with what marketers expect from digital advertising in general, and we’re working to do that while preserving what’s unique and good and effective about podcast advertising,” said Matt Lieber, Gimlet co-founder and now Spotify’s head of podcast operations. “We’re not trying to facilitate a radio advertising-style world.”

The Simply-Walking Edition Thursday, January 9, 2020

Apple Pay Glitch Saddles NYC Straphangers With Accidental Charges, by David Meyer, New York Post

Apply Pay users have been getting charged by the MTA’s new fare readers — for simply walking by them, angry customers claim.

The OMNY tap-and-go fare readers have been taking a $2.75 charge from people with the passcode-skipping Apple fare service — which allows straphangers to enter the subway with just a swipe of their device at the turnstile — even if they don’t actually swipe.

Apple Announces Night Mode Photography Contest, by John Voorhees, MacStories

The five winning photos will be announced on March 4th on the Apple Newsroom. Apple says the images may also be used in digital campaigns, at stores, on billboards, and in photo exhibitions.

The Concept Electronics Show, by John Gruber, Daring Fireball

Either it can be made, or it can’t. If it can, show it when it’s real.

Stuff

Luminar 4 Review: AI Brings Huge Creative Possibilities To Affordable Image Editor, by J.R. Bookwalter, Macworld

Artificial intelligence is the heart and soul of several incredible new Luminar 4 features, including the eye-popping standout AI Sky Replacement which demonstrates the full potential of what the technology has to offer.

LaunchCuts Review: A Better Way To Organize Your Shortcuts With Folders, Advanced Search, And Custom Views, by Federico Viticci, MacStories

LaunchCuts’ sole purpose is to offer an alternative view for your shortcut library with folders and powerful search filters. If you have less than 20 shortcuts installed on your iPhone or iPad, you’re likely not going to get much benefit out of LaunchCuts’ advanced organizational tools; but if you’re like me and use hundreds of different shortcuts on a regular basis, and especially if your library has grown out of control over the past few years, you’re going to need the assistance of LaunchCuts to make sense of it all.

TiVo Says Its Promised Apple TV App Is ‘In Limbo’ Due To Business And Technical Challenges, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Why is TiVo backing off of its promise for an Apple TV app? Putting it bluntly, Malone said that such an app is unlikely to “move the needle” for TiVo’s business.

Notes

Apple's Story Is Shifting Thanks To The Massive Success Of AirPods, by Steve Kovach, CNBC

Even though the Apple story has been tied to services for the last couple of years, a lot of the attention has actually shifted to the company's wearables business, which includes AirPods, Apple Watch and the lineup of Beats headphones.

Apple’s Cook To Receive Irish Award After Years Of Tax Disputes, by Dara Doyle, Bloomberg

Cook will receive an award from Varadkar on Jan. 20 in recognition of the iPhone maker’s 40 years of investment in Ireland, according to IDA Ireland, the country’s investment agency.

The Lost-and-Stolen Edition Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Apple Privacy Officer Says That 'Building Back Doors' To Access iPhone Data Won't Help Solve Crimes, by Kif Leswing, CNBC

"Our phones are relatively small and they get lost and stolen," Horvath said. "If we're going to be able to rely on our health data and finance data on our devices, we need to make sure that if you misplace that device, you're not losing your sensitive data."

Horvath said that Apple has a team working around the clock to respond to requests from law enforcement. But she said she doesn't support building so-called back doors into software that would allow law enforcement elevated access to private data to solve crimes like terrorism.

Apple Scans iCloud Photos To Check For Child Abuse, by James Titcomb, The Telegraph

Apple has started scanning photos uploaded from iPhones to check for child sexual abuse images, as tech companies come under pressure to do more to tackle the crime.

Jane Horvath, Apple’s chief privacy officer, revealed at a tech conference that the company automatically screens images backed up to the company’s online storage service, iCloud, to check whether they contain the illegal photos.

At CES, Apple, Facebook And Amazon Are Preaching Privacy. Don’t Believe The Hype., by Geoffrey A. Fowler, Washington Post

Apple takes pains to encrypt and minimize some of our data it collects for its own services, Horvath said at the panel. It also requires apps to seek your permission before it collects your location and other highly sensitive data.

But what Horvath didn’t say is vetting the third-party iPhone apps Apple sells for their tracking behavior would be time-consuming and costly for the company, so it conveniently gets defined as beyond its responsibility. After my investigation last summer, Apple said it would stop children’s apps from using outside trackers — but why not all apps?

Apple Details 2019 App Store Stats And Recaps Other Services, by John Voorhees, MacStories

In a press release today, Apple shared App Store revenue numbers for the 2019 holiday season, which set an all-time record for single day sales on New Year’s Day.

Stuff

How I Use The iPhone 11 Pro For Product Photography, by Josh Ginter, The Sweet Setup

The 11 Pro’s camera system also provides ample opportunity to shoot a specific type of photo that always required a dedicated camera in the past: product photos. I’ve been playing with the iPhone 11 Pro over the last few months to see if there’s a possibility I can leave behind my Fujifilm cameras for some product photography.

In some cases, I’m happy to report, I can use the iPhone in a pinch and nobody has noticed enough of a difference to make a comment. But it has required some extra hardware (and some extra patience) to arrive at a final result I’m happy with.

Firefox 72 Blocks Fingerprinting Scripts By Default, Rethinks Notification Pop-ups, by Samuel Axon, Ars Technica

Mozilla made it possible to block website notifications altogether in a previous update to Firefox, but this update offers this new, ostensibly more manageable variation as well. Instead of showing these requests as a pop-up that interrupts your experience, it will now show a speech bubble in the address bar that you can use to opt-in to the notifications—similar to how some modern browsers handle other kinds of pop-up attempts.

Develop

We're Teaching Coding All Wrong, by Nathan Esquenazi, Bloomberg

When we tell prospective engineers that individual victories are the only kind worth winning, we set them up to enter the workplace as competent coders but poor collaborators. We squeeze out coders who do not see themselves in the image of lone wolf inventor. The industry cannot afford to lose out on that potential.

Notes

Why The iPad Needs To Embrace Mice And Trackpads, by Jason Snell, Macworld

First off, let’s go back to where this feature comes from: Accessibility. Providing more ways for users to use the iPad makes the iPad more usable. Every body is different. Supporting a rich iPad experience with external pointing devices could make the difference between someone being able to use an iPad and not being able to use one.

Let’s not forget, too, that accessibility reaches different people in different ways—and more of them than you might think. One of my friends uses a mouse with his iPad all the time because of his repetitive-strain injuries. In many ways, the iPad an ergonomic miracle because at its core it’s just a screen—the user decides how they want to use it. The more flexibility it can offer, the better.

Soapbox: We Need To Talk About Font Sizes In Games, by Sammy Barker, PushSquare

Considering I’ve spent roughly half my life in dark rooms staring at blisteringly bright screens, my eyesight is decent. Do you know what’s making me feel like I’m going blind, though? Video games. This isn’t a case of my peepers slowly withering away and losing their clarity – all other aspects of my life remain unaffected and unchanged. No, I blame developers who are intent on decreasing the size of their titles' fonts as each year passes by.

CES 2020: Tech Trends To Watch, by Jeff Porten, TidBITS

What makes the Trends talk interesting is not only the data presented, but also which parts of the talk are filled with more optimism than an eight-year-old riding a unicorn over a rainbow. What CES organizers and exhibitors never seem to understand is that truly revolutionary products don’t need hype. So when you hear hype at CES, it’s an indication that someone is covering for something. I enjoy this talk for its information, but also for pointing out what I’ve become skeptical of after attending CES on and off for thirty years.

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I do like Apple TV+'s Dickinson very much, and I'm so glad that it has already been renewed for a second season.

Life, and death, is very much on my mind now.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Getting-Work-Done Edition Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Desktop-Class Safari For iPad: A Hands-On Look At The Difference The iPadOS Update Makes To Apple’s Browser, by John Voorhees, MacStories

Web apps are a substantial part of most people’s workflows these days. Whether it’s Mailchimp and WordPress, which we use at MacStories, or something like Squarespace or your bank’s website, complex, desktop-centric web apps are everywhere. I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of MacStories readers gave up on using certain web apps in Safari on an iPad long ago and haven’t gone back. If that sounds like you, I encourage you to give Safari another shot. There are still a few rough edges as I’ve outlined above, but at least with the web apps I use regularly, they aren’t impediments to getting work done, which was absolutely the case with Mailchimp before iPadOS 13.

Apple’s Breathe App On The Apple Watch Has Been Confusing People For Years, by Zac Hall, 9to5Mac

Using the Breathe app doesn’t just help you collect your thoughts and focus on what’s important to you. The Apple Health app on the iPhone can log data from meditation sessions with a metric called Mindful Minutes.

This helps you realize insights like whether or not guided meditation helps you sleep, eat healthier, or remember to exercise.

Stuff

Apple Launches ‘Back To Uni’ Promo In Australia And New Zealand, Offering Free Beats And More, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Apple today has launched its annual Back to Uni promotion for Mac and iPad buyers in New Zealand and Australia. This promotion is similar to the Back to School offer Apple runs in the United States every year and offers students discounts, free Beats, and more.

Spark For iOS Review: Free App Delivers Superior Mobile Email Experience, by J.R. Bookwalter, Macworld

Customizable toolbar actions, contact avatars, and a sleek new look with support for Dark Mode add up to a winning update for Spark, which remains one of the best free alternatives to Apple Mail.

Notes

Apple's iPhone XR Has O2 Network Problem, by Sam Shead, BBC

Turning the phone off and on again temporarily fixed the problem, O2 said.

Apple said the issue will be resolved in a new software release.

Apple Plans To Switch To Randomized Serial Numbers For Future Products Starting In Late 2020, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

The randomized format would likely not be decipherable, or at least hard to, and it could also help to reduce fraud.

FBI Seeks Apple's Help Unlocking Phones Of Suspected Pensacola Gunman, by Pete Williams, NBC News

In a letter sent late Monday to Apple's general counsel, the FBI said that although it has court permission to search the contents of the phones, both are password-protected. "Investigators are actively engaging in efforts to 'guess' the relevant passcodes but so far have been unsuccessful," it said.

Why Have So Few Women Won The Most Important Award In Computing?, by Susan D’Agostino, Slate

Million-dollar prizes like the Turing Award seize the public’s attention. Winners are sought-after, invited to give high-profile speeches, meet with business leaders, and advise politicians. For a certain nerdy cohort—one I belong to—they are heroes. In public programming emanating from the ACM Awards Banquet and beyond, they serve as role models to inspire young people. When women’s contributions are overlooked, the public forgoes opportunities to derive inspiration and gain advice from an important sector of computing pioneers.

The Simplified-Stream Edition Monday, January 6, 2020

Apple TV Plus And ‘The Morning Show’ Shut Out At Their First Golden Globes, by Danielle Turchiano, Variety

Apple TV Plus has been shut out at its first-ever Golden Globes.

The #MeToo-inspired series was nominated in two categories at the 77th annual ceremony: drama series and TV drama actress for both Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon. Neither star won.

How To Enable Reader View Automatically For Websites In Mobile And Desktop Safari, by Glenn Fleishman, Macworld

Many websites (including this one) have sidebars, overlays, autoplaying video, and other distractions—as well as text in a size you may find too small to read. Reader View is Safari’s way to override the parameters most sites have set to produce a simplified stream of text for which you can adjust the size.

ShiftCam Cases Give iPhone 11 Models Up To Four Extra Lenses, by Ben Lovejoy, 9to5Mac

The iPhone 11 model adds a 180-degree fisheye lens, 10x macro for close-ups and a circular polarizer to control reflections on water and reduce glare on bright days, while the Pro models go further.

Develop

Everything You Thought You Knew About Inbox Zero Is Wrong, by Natasha Bernal, Wired

In the mid-2000s, people knew in their hearts that they did not have the time or the attention to deal with it all, he claims. So they allowed messages to accumulate and let it drive them crazy, he explains. "You process your email. You have to delete or defer it. God forbid, you have turn it into a task or put it on a calendar. Six years from now, that pile has gotten taller and taller and everybody's still carrying around that secret shame."

But if you you part from the assumption that it is impossible to handle everything – and the majority of information thrown at you is not important – you can focus on what matters to you.

Notes

The Current Heads Of Apple TV+ Should Be Terrified, by Catie Keck, Gizmodo

For a company that hopes to position itself as a kind of taste-making kingpin for news, entertainment, and music, its thin slate of content upon launch hinted that Apple’s own hubris may have impeded its ability to meet the expectations it had fanned for viewers and critics.

Cities Struggle To Boost Ridership With ‘Uber For Transit’ Schemes, by Flavie Halais, Wired

Tech companies and planners often make decisions without considering the needs of people who are not like them. A pilot project in St. Petersburg, Florida, that let residents use Uber to connect to bus stops faced low adoption rates. The local transit authority realized residents, many of whom were low-income, didn’t know how to use Uber. They needed help on how to use the app, a planner told WIRED in 2017. Elsewhere, “smart city” initiatives have been called out for their lack of inclusivity.

Internet Explorer 5 For Mac: Twentieth Anniversary, by Jimmy Grewal

I had the idea of making our browser chrome match the actual hardware you were on. If your Mac’s bezel was Bondi blue, we’d make our UI Bondi blue. That way our “frame” around the web page would match the bezel and so would be seen as part of the background and be distinct from the content. By being more vivid we would paradoxically blend into the background, and look more at home.

[...]

So somehow the Mac IE5 exec, Dick Craddock, let me, a newly hired engineer, hire a London design agency and I ended up art-directing on our side while also writing the new UI code to make it happen.

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I hate to see an inbox filled with stuff. So I do try my very best to move things out of my inbox. Things I can do quickly, I do quickly. The rest goes into my To-do boxes.

I hate to see so many boxes filled with so many stuff. But the only way out that I can see is to retire.

:-)

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Thanks for reading.

The Forms-and-Environments Edition Sunday, January 5, 2020

Why Amazon, Google And Apple Want To Record You, by Jefferson Graham, USA Today

Unlike its rivals, Apple will make you work to volunteer. Within the general Settings, under Analytics and Improvements, Apple offers the ability to "help improve Siri and Dictation by allowing Apple to store and review audio of your Siri and dictation interactions," by clicking the feature on. By default, it's turned off.

But opting in, the users may be monitored. "A small sample of audio from Siri requests may be reviewed by Apple employees to measure how well Siri was responding and to improve its reliability," Apple says. "For example, did the user intend to wake Siri? Did Siri hear the request accurately? And did Siri respond appropriately to the request?"

Stuff

Apple Continues Stunning 'Shot On iPhone Experiments' Series With New 'Fire & Ice' Video, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

The “Fire & Ice” video was shot on iPhone 11 Pro by Donghoon Jun and James Thornton of Incite and was commissioned by Apple. The video offers incredibly close-up looks at fire and ice in different forms and environments. The video shows off features such as slo-mo, 4K, and more, and focuses on highlighting the power and versatility of the iPhone 11 Pro camera.

Note It Down, It’s A New Year, by Sarazeen Saif Ahana, New Age

If you’re likely to be struck by sudden inspiration, stuck in a lecture with no notebooks or watching your boss breeze through a flawless presentation, Notability is how you step up your game. It’s 2020, let’s save a tree and use an app.

HomeKit Support For Anker EufyCam 2C Available Now, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

This update adds support for HomeKit live streaming, snapshots, Siri integration and motion alerts. Despite being part of the initial HomeKit Secure Video announcement at WWDC, this week’s update does not include those features.

Notes

How Big Tech Is Turning New York Into A Silicon Valley Rival, by Matthew Haag, New York Times

Four companies — Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google — already have big offices along the Hudson River, from Midtown to Lower Manhattan, or have been hunting for new ones in recent months, often competing with one another for the same space.

In all, the companies are expected to have roughly 20,000 workers in New York by 2022.

The Emgraved-with-Emojis Edition Saturday, January 4, 2020

Apple Now Allowing AirPods Charging Cases To Be Engraved With Emojis, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

Customers who choose to personalize their ‌AirPods‌ during the purchase process can choose from several emoji characters, though not all emojis are available. Options like smiling face, face with tongue out, and thumbs up are available, as are multiple animals.

IKEA Tradfri Smart Blinds Finally Rolling Out Support For Apple HomeKit, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

After several false starts, IKEA is finally ready to offer HomeKit support for its inexpensive line of Tradfri smart blinds. The update is rolling out now, although not all Tradfri owners are seeing the necessary firmware update just yet.

Apple Arcade: 'Unleash The Light' Review – An Apple Arcade Gem, by Touch Arcade

It gives long-time fans a new story with the original voice cast to revisit a beloved universe by a large community. And its interesting story, challenging battles, and easy-to-solve puzzles will keep newcomers hooked to the game and craving for more about the franchise and its weird but compelling lore.

Develop

Forget Resolutions. Here’s How To Know When It’s Time To Give Something Up., by Lena Felton, The Lily

As we make resolutions to start a new hobby or deepen our relationships in the new year, we’re also reflecting on what might be difficult, but ultimately worth it, to give up: a job, a friendship, even a dream. We spoke with eight experts about how to know when it may be time to do so.

I, for one, wish I’d had this advice when I was 15, and then 16, and then when I was 18. I would tell her: It’s okay to quit. One day, you’ll be more than a soccer player; you’ll be a journalist, and a loyal friend, and a loving daughter. You’ll have learned how to be a quitter, and maybe that’s the most valuable lesson of all.

Notes

Apple CEO Tim Cook's Total Pay Dropped Last Year, But He Still Took Home Over $125 Million, by Kif Leswing, CNBC

Apple CEO Tim Cook's total pay decreased last year as the company failed to exceed its financial targets by as much as it did in 2018. But he still pulled in over $125 million in total compensation.

The Schism At The Heart Of The Open-Source Movement, by Sidney Fussell, The Atlantic

GitHub’s greatest asset is a community that allows for open sharing and what’s essentially free labor due to a good-faith assumption. But when the company is no longer aligned with contributors’ own personal value system, those contributors have few options other than speaking out and potentially removing their own work from the system and moving it to other open-source repositories.

“When the perception of the company is one that hinges on moral values, its users and customers start to have expectations that the company will behave in a certain way.” Jordan Harband, another developer, GitHub contributor, and open-source advocate, told me.“But once you do that, then your behavior is subject to a higher scrutiny that has nothing to do with legality and nothing to do with numbers on a balance sheet.”

The Sea-of-Content Edition Friday, January 3, 2020

What The Death Of iTunes Says About Our Digital Habits, by Robinson Meyer, The Atlantic

So what really failed, maybe, wasn’t iTunes at all—it was the implicit promise of Gmail-style computing. The explosion of cloud storage and the invention of smartphones both arrived at roughly the same time, and they both subverted the idea that we should organize our computer. What they offered in its place was a vision of ease and readiness. What the idealized iPhone user and the idealized Gmail users shared was a perfectly functioning executive system: Every time they picked up their phone or opened their web browser, they knew exactly what they wanted to do, they got it done with a calm single-mindedness, and then they closed their device. This dream illuminated Inbox Zero and Kinfolk and minimalist writing apps. It didn’t work. What we got instead was Inbox Infinity and the algorithmic timeline. Each of us became a wanderer above a sea of content. Each of us adopted the tacit—but still shameful—assumption that we are just treading water, that the clock is always running, and that the work will never end.

Language Apps: Can Phones Replace Classrooms?, by Carys Betteley, BBC

Can apps ever replace classroom language learning or even help revive minority or dying languages?

Stuff

This AirPower Clone Is Now Available To Buy, by Jon Porter, The Verge

The Zens Liberty doesn’t quite deliver on everything Apple’s AirPower had promised. For one thing, it only lets you wirelessly charge two, rather than three, devices simultaneously on the pad. It also can’t charge an Apple Watch natively — for that you’ll have to plug a $39.99 accessory into its USB-A port. Still, the fact that you can place your devices anywhere on its surface has the potential to make wireless charging a much more reliable experience, as opposed to having to find the exact sweet spot to place your device.

Notes

The Story Of Why Marc Benioff Gifted The AppStore.com Domain To Steve Jobs, by Ron Mill,er TechCrunch

Benioff wrote that he and his executives actually gasped when they heard the name. Somehow, even after all that time had passed since that the original meeting, both companies had settled upon the same name. Only Salesforce had rejected it, leaving an opening for Benioff to give a gift to his mentor. He says that he went backstage after the keynote and signed over the domain to Jobs.

How Canada's Military Reacted To Seeing Pokemon Go Players Trespassing On Its Bases, by Brett Ruskin, CBC

"Plse advise the Commissionaires that apparently Fort Frontenac is both a PokeGym and a PokeStop. I will be completely honest in that I have not idea what that is," wrote Maj. Jeff Monaghan at CFB Kingston.

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Do we know why Apple canceled its AirPower project? Should we worry about AirPower clones having the same problems that caused Apple to cancel the project?

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Thanks for reading.

The New-Habit Edition Thursday, January 2, 2020

The Smartphone Isn’t Evil, Chill, by Ben Brooks, The Brooks Review

There’s only two tools I really advise, because the rest of it is just removing stuff from your life. The fist tool is Screen Time, but not to track usage, instead to limit the usage of things you want to curb. Perhaps you think you ‘can’t’ dump something like Facebook, that’s fine, set a limit on it for yourself. And not a limit that you think is the ideal, set a limit that you guess is how much you use it already.

[...]

Next, use reminders. Not to schedule things, but as a way of again keeping yourself honest. For instance, one I have is ‘Read Book’ which repeats everyday. I check it off everyday regardless of whether I read a book, but I do so knowing whether or not I actually did that thing. I would be careful about having too many of these, one at a time is ideal, but I find them powerful for forming a new habit.

Apple Responds To Report On iOS 13's Frequent Location Tracking Reminders, Emphasizes Privacy, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

In light of those changes, The Wall Street Journal today reported that some developers are concerned that the location tracking reminders will hurt adoption of their apps, while some iPhone users are said to have expressed frustration that the reminders appear every few days despite repeatedly selecting "always allow."

Apple responded to the report with a statement insisting that the changes were made to further safeguard user privacy.

Stuff

The MacBook Pro 16 Needs To Be The Future Of Apple Laptops, by Alex Cranz, Gizmodo

If you’ve bought an Apple laptop in the last few years and you try out the new 16-inch MacBook Pro, you will be furious. It’s so good. It works precisely as a laptop should—the issues that have plagued Apple’s laptops in recent years seem absent. Everything about the device seems to follow an age-old Apple edict the company forgot: It just works.

So while I’m delighted by the existence of the new MacBook Pro, I’ll admit there’s some frustration, too. It very much feels like Apple should have been making this device or something like it for the last decade. Instead, we’ve been saddled with year after year of underpowered laptops that prioritize minimalism over functionality.

The Best Note-taking Apps To Keep You Organised In 2020, by Sanjana Varghese, Wired UK

Leave the notepad behind and start using a digital note-taking app instead and start syncing your reminders across devices and adding extra information to make life admin less of a drag.

This is our pick of the best note-taking apps, ranging from free to paid, with so many functions that you might find they start replacing other apps too.

Documents 7 Review: Free iOS File Manager Puts Apple's Files App To Shame, by J.R. Bookwalter, Macworld

For those underwhelmed by the built-in Files app, do yourself a favor and install Documents 7, the free file manager worthy of being installed on every iOS device.

Develop

As Robots Take Over Warehousing, Workers Pushed To Adapt, by Matt O'Brien, Associated Press

But while fears of fully automated warehouses haven’t come to fruition, there are growing concerns that keeping up with the pace of the latest technology is taking a toll on human workers’ health, safety and morale.

Warehouses powered by robotics and artificial intelligence software are leading to human burnout by adding more work and upping the pressure on workers to speed up their performance, said Beth Gutelius, who studies urban economic development at the University of Illinois at Chicago and has interviewed warehouse operators around the U.S.

Notes

Apple Restores Imagination GPU Chip Agreement After Public Dispute And Employee Poaching, by Zac Hall, 9to5Mac

Could this mean Apple will rely on Imagination GPUs once again or opt for the licensed chips in other categories beyond iPhone — like the long-rumored augmented reality headset?

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If I am listening to an audio book while playing a game on my iPhone, how does Screen Time classify that?

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Thanks for reading.

The Prove-Trustworthiness Edition Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Here’s How Online Privacy Is Possible, by Geoffrey A. Fowler, Washington Post

But the privacy co-pilot market is burgeoning with new ideas, joining the likes of password managers and security-focused WiFi routers. California’s new law smartly carves out protection for third parties to manage our data for us. Now we need clear professional rules for how these companies represent us and prove their trustworthiness.

I don’t know exactly how this will evolve. But we’re more likely to win when there are laws that stop data collection from being a secret — and when we have companies fighting to protect our privacy, not just exploit it.

Diet Tracking App 'Calory' Now Tracks Water, Subtracts Burned Calories, More, by Zac Hall, 9to5Mac

There’s also water logging and adding meals up to a week ahead of time — a great feature for weekly meal planning.

Japan Loves Robots, But Getting Them To Do Human Work Isn’t Easy, by Motoko Rich, New York Times

Japan, the world’s third largest economy, hopes that robots and other types of automation will help solve its demographic problems and impending labor shortage. That priority is reflected in a government blueprint, dubbed Society 5.0 and repeatedly emphasized by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

But businesses are struggling as some jobs that seem ripe for a robotic takeover prove remarkably difficult to outsource to a machine.

How Home Assistants Ruined Us, by Violet Blue, Engadget

This was the decade technology broke us. The products saturating our lives are released in the worst, most broken, untested, and often dangerously flawed forms imaginable. Think Skynet, but a dumbass. Terminator, controlled by Shitnet. We've seen the films, we know the dystopian warnings. It enslaved us as a species anyway. We cannot escape. Because Siri can't understand our pleas to unlock the door, the getaway vehicle won't start until it reboots, you can't even run away because your shoes are bricked from a bad update.

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It's great that I can use a single pair of AirPods on multiple devices, dear Apple. Now, can you make the same thing for the Magic Keyboard too? Thank you.

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Thanks for reading.