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Archive for February 2020

The Request-Rejection Edition Thursday, February 27, 2020

Apple’s Tim Cook Calls Coronavirus A ‘Challenge’ At Shareholder Talk, by Mark Gurman, Bloomberg

Answering questions from the audience, Cook said for the first time that Apple would open its online store in India this year, with the first retail stores opening in the country in 2021.

He also made his first public comments about the company’s rejection of the U.S. government’s request to unlock iPhones belonging to the shooter behind the December 2019 attack that killed three people in Pensacola, Florida. “Don’t think we have something that we’re not giving,” he said, adding that Apple wouldn’t create a backdoor to break into its devices.

Stuff

Font Chaos In macOS Catalina And How To Deal With It, by Jay J. Nelson, Macworld

I had font problems after upgrading to Catalina. I consider myself a font management expert, but I couldn’t fix my problems without help. Here’s a look at what I encountered and what I had to do to get back to work. Hopefully, you can learn from my experience.

Eero WiFi Routers Add HomeKit Support, by John Voorhees, MacStories

Amazon’s Eero routers are the first out of the gate with HomeKit support, which promises to provide greater security to your Internet-connected HomeKit devices.

Tech-whizz Dad Invents iPad App To Help His Son, by Jack Maguire , Jersey Evening Post

'Then I was watching a TED talk which showed how people who had been born sightless because of, say, cataracts, and had then had their vision restored. The talk was about how videos helped them learn better than just pictures, so I thought the same principle could apply.’

The app, which is free to download, includes four games that help children like Isaac to learn associations between names, images and sounds of voices. The app can be personalised so users can upload pictures and voices of real family members.

Notes

Apple Loses Pair Of Key Operations, Supply Chain Executives, by Mark Gurman, Bloomberg

Nick Forlenza, a vice president of manufacturing design, has retired from Apple, while Duco Pasmooij, another vice president who worked on operations, is discussing an exit in the near future, according to people familiar with the moves. Pasmooij left the operations team over a year ago, moving into a role reporting to the company’s head of augmented reality efforts, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing personnel.

Apple Now Requires Government Approval For iOS Games, by Todd Kuhns, AppInChina

Apple appears to be attempting to bring its App Store in China in line with a 2016 Chinese regulation that states games published in the country must be approved by the General Administration of Press and Publication of China.

ARM Macs Are Coming, Three Years After Apple's Attitude Change, by Jason Snell, Macworld

Life comes at you fast. But in the last three years, Apple has shown that it’s not satisfied with letting the Mac stay on autopilot, if it ever really was. As with the Mac’s previous chip transitions, there will be a period of uncertainty—but the transition will offer payoffs that will ultimately be worth it.

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I am skeptical that Apple will switch the entire Mac line to ARM, and I am also skeptical that Apple want to run one single macOS platform on two different kinds of chips.

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Thanks for reading.

The Health-Outcomes Edition Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Apple Working With Johnson & Johnson On 'Heartline Study' Aimed At Reducing Risk Of Stroke, by Mitchel Broussard, MacRumors

Apple and Johnson & Johnson today announced a new study that aims to gather more information surrounding atrial fibrillation and other conditions tracked by iPhone and Apple Watch. The "Heartline Study" will include an ‌iPhone‌ app, and explores whether health tracking features of ‌iPhone‌ and heart health features on ‌Apple Watch‌ can improve health outcomes.

Apple's Research App Gains AirPods Pro Support For Hearing Study, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

According to Apple's release notes, the app now supports ‌AirPods Pro‌ and includes an improved VoiceOver experience for those participating in the hearing study plus battery life improvements on Apple Watch.

Open Season

What You See In The Finder Should Always Be Correct, by John Gruber, Daring Fireball

But the visual representation of the file system in the user interface should be treated with almost the same amount of attention. This is how users see the file system. Showing “Zero KB” for a folder full of large files, or having the available disk space not change at all after emptying the Trash when it was full of very large files, is profoundly wrong. It creates mistrust in an aspect of the system that the user should, ideally, trust completely.

More On App Defaults In Files On iPadOS, by Jason Snell, Six Colors

I know it’s been open season on the deficiencies of the iPad’s interface lately, but it does feel like portions of the iPad have progressed enough to have reached a sort of uncanny valley. It’s so advanced now that we have to start judging it the same way we judge other advanced interfaces. The Files app is finally worthy of criticism—and it deserves a lot of it.

Stuff

Affinity Publisher For Mac Gains IDML Import, Preflight Checking, Template Support, And More, by Tim Hardwick, MacRumors

The biggest news relates to Publisher, with its first big update since launching in the summer. Version 1.8 of the Mac app brings IDML compatibility, allowing users to import InDesign files for the first time.

The IDML import capability should appeal to businesses and other professional users who want to access older document catalogs, and should make it easier for those who want to make the switch to the Affinity suite.

Filmmaking App Brings Vintage Vibes To Your iPhone Flicks, by David Pierini, Cult of Mac

So what constitutes vintage or retro? One characteristic would be the colors. Some of the looks feature odd color shifts as if shot on expired color film. Other looks offer more contrast, blown highlights or more saturated colors. For the art-house treatment, there is a black and white setting.

Firefox For Mac And Linux To Get A New Security Sandbox System, by Catalin Cimpanu, ZDNet

Instead of isolating the app from the underlying operating system, RLBox separates an app's internal components -- namely its third-party libraries -- from the app's core engine.

This technique prevents bugs and exploits found inside a third-party library from impacting another project that uses the same library.

Notes

iOS 14 To Better Support Third-Party Apps Like Web Browsers, by Benjamin Mayo

Realistically, though, a few more iOS 14 features in its favour will not shut Spotify up. Spotify’s complaint boils down to money; the App Store requirement to use In-App Purchase and the 30% cut. I’ll just say Apple is surely more willing to open up iOS than it is to make concessions to the business of the App Store. I don’t think we will see App Store policy change much unless some government institution forces the issue.

Amazon Made A Bigger Camera-spying Store—so We Tried To Steal Its Fruit, by Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica

Sometimes, I just grabbed and juggled a few produce items of different types before putting them back. Other times, my behavior got weirder. At one point, I grabbed a variety of fruits and veggies, bundled them in my arms, and pressed up against the railing to steady some of my bundle. Then I took various items with two hands, reached behind my back and beneath my backpack to exchange which was in which hand before putting them back in their respective spots. (I didn't put items back in the incorrect places for the sake of my experiment, because this shop does employ stockers, and I don't mess with retail workers. That's a golden rule of mine, experiments be damned.)

Eventually, I arranged a set of conventional bananas in a bundle, almost resembling a taped-together organic set. After walking a lap around the shop, I returned to grab the conventional banana bundle with one hand and an organic bundle with another. Then I passed both sets behind my back... but got one loose banana stuck between my back and my backpack. I put the rest of the bananas back in their respective bins, then walked to something I hadn't seen at an Amazon Go store before: a bathroom.

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There was a stretch of time in my recent past that I woke up almost every night at 2am and couldn't fall back to sleep.

Last night, I couldn't fall asleep at all -- until, I think, about 5am.

I hope this isn't a new phase of my life.

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Thanks for reading.

The Never-Intended Edition Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Why Did Apple Drop Support For The Magic Mouse 2 On The iPad?, by Leif Johnson, Macworld

So Apple giveth and Apple taketh away. But why? I’ve reached out to Apple itself, and haven’t received a response. The weirdest aspect of this episode is that I can hook up every other Bluetooth mouse I have on hand with the iPad and they’ll work fine—and that includes the first-generation Magic Mouse.

This probably isn’t because of a simple bug. After all, Magic Mouse 2 support on the iPad had never worked the way you might expect. Instead of simply pairing the device through Bluetooth as you would through any other mouse, you have to take an unintuitive trip into the Switch Control panel under Accessibility and hook it up through Switches. It was always weird—and a sign that Apple likely never intended us to use the Magic Mouse 2 with the iPad in the first place. As much as I hate to admit it, the Switch Control backdoor might have been something that slipped under Apple’s radar.

Let’s Talk About Enforcing USB-C Everywhere, by Matt Birchler, BirchTree

The market drove all non-Apple phone makers to USB-C and that same market is pushing Apple to follow suit. Lightning used to be a differentiator because it was better than micro-USB, but in 2020 it’s hard to argue anything besides “momentum” that makes it more of a feature than a burden.

Stuff

Apple Stores Will Promote International Women’s Day All Month Long With ‘She Creates’ Series, by Michael Steeber, 9to5Mac

March 8 marks International Women’s Day 2020, and Apple is supporting the visibility and achievements of women with special Today at Apple sessions held in select Apple Stores throughout the world. From March 1–31, you can join inspiring female creators in the “She Creates” series to learn a new skill and gain a new perspective.

Apple Publishes Mac Pro And Pro Display XDR Technology Deep Dives, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Apple has made two incredibly thorough white papers available today covering the Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR. These “Technology Overview” documents highlight the inner workings of both of Apple’s newest pro-grade pieces of hardware.

Pedometer Apps Turn Your iPhone Into A Step Counter, by Julio Ojeda-Zapata, TidBITS

Apple’s Health app works well enough that a third-party step tracker isn’t a necessity, but there are some good ones out there that enhance your user experience in various ways. Here are two of my favorites: ActivityTracker Pedometer and Pedometer++.

Develop

Silicon Valley Ruined Work Culture Everywhere, by Arielle Pardes, Wired

As Ron Friedman writes in his 2014 book The Best Place to Work: The Art and Science of Creating an Extraordinary Workplace, there are trade-offs to everything: “Cubicles are depressing. Private offices are isolating. Open spaces are distracting.” But maybe it’s time to reimagine a world where the office was just the office—a place you could actually get work done, and then eventually leave.

Notes

Apple Reopens More Than Half Of Its Retail Stores In China, by Mark Gurman, Bloomberg

As of Monday, 29 of 42 Apple stores in the country are opening, according to a review of the company’s retail websites. Most of these locations are still operating on shortened hours. Some outlets will be open for fewer than 8 hours. That compares with a typical 12-hour day, depending on location.

Apple May Be Forced To Disclose Censorship Requests From China, by William Turvill, The Guardian

Apple could be forced to disclose details of censorship requests from China and other nations after two major shareholder groups backed a proposal that would force the tech firm to make new human rights commitments.

The motion, set to be voted on by the company’s investors on Wednesday, was prompted by numerous allegations of Apple kowtowing to Beijing and blocking apps from being used by Chinese customers.

Apple, TikTok Decline To Testify At Second Congressional Hearing Probing Tech’s Ties To China, by Tony Romm, Washington Post

Apple and TikTok each have declined a request to testify at a March congressional hearing that would have probed their relationships with China, a move that threatens to ratchet up tensions with federal lawmakers who see Beijing as a privacy and security threat.

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I keep pushing things to my post-retirement to-do list, and my will is lacking in moving them to the do-it-now to-do list. Maybe I do need a shock.

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Thanks for reading.

The Blue-or-Yellow Edition Monday, February 24, 2020

Big Tech Is Testing You, by Hannah Fry, New Yorker

Physics, chemistry, and medicine have had their revolution. But now, driven by experimentation, a further transformation is in the air. That’s the argument of “The Power of Experiments” (M.I.T.), by Michael Luca and Max H. Bazerman, both professors at the Harvard Business School. When it comes to driving our decisions in a world of data, they say, “the age of experiments is only beginning.”

In fact, if you’ve recently used Facebook, browsed Netflix, or run a Google search, you have almost certainly participated in an experiment of some kind. Google alone ran fifteen thousand of them in 2018, involving countless unsuspecting Internet users. “We don’t want high-level executives discussing whether a blue background or a yellow background will lead to more ad clicks,” Hal Varian, Google’s chief economist, tells the authors. “Why debate this point, since we can simply run an experiment to find out?”

Myst: The Drawbacks To Success, by Jimmy Maher, The Digital Antiquarian

Robyn Miller, one half of the pair of brothers who created the adventure game known as Myst with their small studio Cyan, tells a story about its development that’s irresistible to a writer like me. When the game was nearly finished, he says, its publisher Brøderbund insisted that it be put through “focus-group testing” at their offices. Robyn and his brother Rand reluctantly agreed, and soon the first group of guinea pigs shuffled into Brøderbund’s conference room. Much to its creators’ dismay, they hated the game. But then, just as the Miller brothers were wondering whether they had wasted the past two years of their lives making it, the second group came in. Their reaction was the exact opposite: they loved the game.

So would it be forevermore. Myst would prove to be one of the most polarizing games in history, loved and hated in equal measure. Even today, everyone seems to have a strong opinion about it, whether they’ve actually played it or not.

Develop

You Don’t Owe Your Company Undying Loyalty, by Alison Green, Slate

But it can be tough as an employee to shed these beliefs about loyalty, damaging as they are. That’s especially true if you’re a conscientious worker who truly likes your colleagues and your company. In most other areas of life, when we like people and spend a lot of time with them, a duty of loyalty does develop, so it’s confusing when the rules are different at work. Ultimately, though, we’re paid to be at work, and the relationship—while it may be warm and supportive and even a source of real joy and satisfaction—should last only as long as it remains in both parties’ best interests.

Notes

Locations Of Media Files In MacOS 10.15 Catalina, by John Gruber, Daring Fireball

Why in the world all the folders in \~/Library/Group Containers/ are prefixed with these ugly seemingly-random identifiers, I have no idea, but it strikes me as one more step along the path of Apple no caring less and less about what the back of the cabinet looks like.

Internet Founder Scales Up Efforts To Redesign Way Web Works, by John Thornhill, Financial Times

Sir Tim, who invented the world wide web in 1989 but has become increasingly critical of the way it has been captured by giant corporations, said there had been a “rush of interest” from open source developers, entrepreneurs, tech company executives and government officials to support Inrupt’s mission to decentralise the web and hand power back to users.

But Inrupt now had to focus on the complexities of turning its underlying Solid technology into a scalable platform. “For the world to experience the true value of the web we’re building, we must address the vital issues related to privacy, trust and security,” he wrote in a blog post.

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This is one automation I wish I can set up for my iPhone: If audio is playing while the volume is at 0, please pause after 1 minute.

Occasionally, I don't pause my podcast when I remove my AirPods. Most of the time, the podcast player will correctly pause. But, very occasionally (like today), the podcast player didn't receive the memo and continue to play through my podcast queue. Silently. (I typically has the speaker volume turned off.) By the time I discover this, a bunch of podcast episodes have disappeared from my iPhone.

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Thanks for reading.

The Gen-X Edition Sunday, February 23, 2020

Apple 'AirPods X Generation' For $399 Pops Up On Target Inventory Scanners, by Wesley Hilliard , AppleInsider

Target employees have been sharing images of UPC scanners and computer systems indicating a yet unannounced Apple product called "Apple AirPods (X Generation)" coming soon with a price tag of $399.

Target Inventory System Also Includes Placeholder Listings For New Apple TV, iPod Touch, And Apple Watch Bands, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

We aren’t entirely sure what to make of this just yet but Target employees are noticing some interesting listings popping up on their inventory system, seemingly tipping the hat on soon-to-be-announced Apple hardware.

In addition to the ‘AirPods X generation’, 9to5Mac received images showing that there are also dummy entries for ‘Apple TV Gen X’ and ‘Apple Watch Series X’ bands. There’s also listings for ‘Apple iPod Touch X Generation’.

Apple Support Document Details HomeKit Router Features, Complicated Setup Process, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Apple announced HomeKit support for routers at WWDC last year, but since then, many of the more specific details have remained a mystery. A new support document recently published by Apple, however, offers new information on how HomeKit routers will work, the setup process, and more.

Stuff

Apple Maps Expands 3D Street View Feature To Boston, Philadelphia, And Washington, D.C., by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

As noted in the MacRumors forums, the new Look Around feature in Apple Maps recently went live in three more cities in the United States, including Boston, Philadelphia, and the Washington, D.C. area.

Apple’s Latest Shot On iPhone Video Highlights The iPhone 11 Pro’s Ultra Wide Lens, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Apple continues to showcase the iPhone 11 Pro camera through its Shot on iPhone series of videos. In a new video today, Apple showcases the Ultra Wide camera capabilities of the device.

Notes

Students Create App For Hearing Impaired Classmates, by KFTA

The students said they were tired of seeing their classmates sitting out at the playground and not being able to communicate with the other kids during recess. That’s when they decided to use coding to make this app. ​

All of the American sign language students have an interpreter with them throughout the day.​With the app, which would be downloaded on their iPad, they can be with their classmates on their own.​ The app has the letters of the alphabet and commonly asked questions.​

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Following that one episode of Little America that was not made available on Apple TV+ here in Singapore, the entire series Visible: Out on Television is also not available.

I wonder if I can get a partial refund from Apple of my... well... free subscription.

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Thanks for reading.

The Anything-but-Clear Edition Saturday, February 22, 2020

The EU Wants All Phones To Work With Interoperable Chargers, Here’s What That Means For Apple's Lightning Port, by Tim Hardwick, MacRumors

Apple's stance on the issue left the Commission deadlocked, but in 2018 the Commission agreed to continue working with manufacturers in order to achieve a suitable voluntary agreement. However, a year later the Commission concluded that its previous voluntary approach and the new MoU still allowed manufacturers to use adaptors with proprietary solutions and would not result in full charger harmonization.

[...]

The EU parliament's January 2020 vote on the matter was overwhelmingly in favor of bringing in rules to standardize chargers, but the manner in which it plans to enforce them is anything but clear.

Stuff

How To Replace Apple's Music App With Something Better, by Charlie Sorrel, Cult of Mac

I really, really like this app. It works much better than Apple’s poor effort. Marvis is intuitive, slick, customizable and predictable. You can’t really say any of those about Apple’s Music app — apart from slick, I guess.

Adobe Fresco For iPad Pro Review: An Intuitive Drawing And Painting App That Produces Real-to-life Effects, by Rebecca Spear, iMore

If you're wanting a free drawing and painting software that creates realistic effects for raster, live, and vectors brushes, this is the app to get. Just be aware that there are no text tools and the free version only provides 2GB of storage.

Tinderbox 8.5, by Agen Schmitz, TidBITS

The note-taking assistant and information manager introduces the Crosstabs feature, which enables you to explore relationships within your documents based on two selected attributes.

Develop

More Bosses Give 4-day Workweek A Try, by Yuki Noguchi, NPR

The idea of a four-day workweek might sound crazy, especially in America, where the number of hours worked has been climbing and where cellphones and email remind us of our jobs 24/7.

But in some places, the four-day concept is taking off like a viral meme. Many employers aren't just moving to 10-hour shifts, four days a week, as companies like Shake Shack are doing; they're going to a 32-hour week — without cutting pay. In exchange, employers are asking their workers to get their jobs done in a compressed amount of time.

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Sunsetting...

Teach...

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Thanks for reading.

The Net-Neutrality Edition Friday, February 21, 2020

Welcome To The Fresh Internet Hell Of The Streaming Wars, by Katharine Trendacosta, Slate

So while you’re promised Peacock for free as a Comcast subscriber, you may also be getting your Disney+ content, which you pay for, at a degraded quality. Or maybe Disney+ won’t get degraded—if it pays Comcast’s price. That particular deal is just hypothetical, but without net neutrality protections, ISPs can charge their competitors a lot for access to their customers and for the promise that they won’t throttle traffic to competitors’ services. Which will then force the prices that viewers pay up.

The same dynamic between ISPs and streaming services plays out with cellular providers, many of which are part of the same giant conglomerates as the big ISPs. Just as ISPs can include streaming services with your internet bill, cell providers will offer a streaming service with your mobile plan. And in the absence of net neutrality protections, cell providers engage in practice called “zero rating,” which means that either their own services or services that have made a deal with them will not count against your data cap. For low-income populations, for those who rely on their phones for internet access, this can lock people into certain services and certain information sources.

What Secrets? Apple Embroiled In Row Over Book By German Former Executive, by Douglas Busvine, Reuters

Murmann said a first print run of 4,000 copies was selling well and, rather than pulling the book, it was rushing out a second print run. “It’s No. 2 on the Amazon best-seller list in Germany - everyone is talking about it,” said Peter Felixberger, an executive at Murmann.

Apple, meanwhile, has not yet sought a court injunction on sales of the book. “It looks like Apple has gone a bit far tactically, building up pressure and issuing threats but then lacking the courage actually to go to court,” Graef said.

Stuff

Why Your Apple Watch Credits You With Fewer Calories Than You Expect, by Graham Bower, Cult of Mac

Active Calories are additional calories you burn by doing exercise that you would not have burned if you were just resting. Or in other words, Apple deducts your BMR from your Total Calories to calculate your Active Calories.

Apple Has Pushed Updates To XProtect And MRT, by Howard Oakley, The Eclectic Light Company

Apple doesn’t release information about what these updates add or change, and now obfuscates the identities of malware detected by XProtect using internal code names.

Noto Review: Beautifully Modern And Versatile Note-Taking, by Ryan Christoffel, MacStories

It offers a clean, elegant design and a diverse array of tools so you can mix and match different content types inside each note. But it also integrates with key system technologies like drag and drop, multiwindow, iCloud sync, and more.

Podcast App Castro Now Rips YouTube Audio To Your Queue, by Charlie Sorrel, Cult of Mac

Castro, one of the top two or three podcast apps for iOS, now lets you side load YouTube videos into the app. It’s audio-only, so this isn’t a way to download videos for offline viewing. But it’s a sweet feature for anyone who just wants to listen to a presentation/lecture/etc. instead of having to watch it.

Develop

Apple Drops A Bomb On Long-life HTTPS Certificates: Safari To Snub New Security Certs Valid For More Than 13 Months, by Shaun Nichols, The Register

Safari will, later this year, no longer accept new HTTPS certificates that expire more than 13 months from their creation date.

Notes

Upgraded Apple Maps Backpack Rig Uses iPhone 11 Pro For Image Capture, by Buster Hein, Cult of Mac

The wearable rig, presumably used to collect images and data for Apple Maps, looks similar to one seen in 2018. But it features a new hardshell cover — and at least three of Apple’s latest iPhones, apparently used to capture images from the backpack’s sides.

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I keep wanting to do different things, but I don't know what to do...

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Thanks for reading.

The Default-App Edition Thursday, February 20, 2020

Apple Weighs Letting Users Switch Default iPhone Apps To Rivals, by Mark Gurman, Bloomberg

The technology giant is discussing whether to let users choose third-party web browser and mail applications as their default options on Apple’s mobile devices, replacing the company’s Safari browser and Mail app, according to people familiar with the matter.

[...]

Also under discussion at Apple is whether to let users set competing music services as the default with Siri on iPhones and iPads, the people said. Currently, Apple Music is the default music app. If the company changes the arrangement, a user would be able to play music from Spotify or Pandora automatically when asking Siri for a song.

Stuff

Photoshop Turns 30, Updated With Dark Mode Support On Mac And Object Selection Tool On iPad, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

On the iPad, the headline new feature is the Object Selection tool, which can automatically find the object within a selected area for you based on Adobe Sensei machine learning.

Microsoft Releases New All-in-one Office App For iOS And Android, by Samuel Axon, Ars Technica

Today, Microsoft launched the Microsoft Office app for iOS and Android. It combines PowerPoint, Word, and Excel into one application, and it adds a number of mobile-oriented features.

Notes

Apple’s Outlook Cut Revives Questions About China Over-Reliance, by Mark Gurman, Bloomberg

Moving entirely out of China would be practically impossible for Apple in the short term, given the scale of its established network and the country’s incomparable ability to mobilize a workforce of millions. Similarly strong disruption threats to its supply chain arose in 2018 and 2019, largely spurred by trade war conflagrations, but Cook’s team has held steadfast in its commitment to the region and hasn’t shown any significant momentum toward a major move out.

“Apple’s supply chain in China is so tight and large, it would be difficult to replicate outside the region,” Cross said. “I think you’ll continue to see small expansions into India, but the vast majority of production will remain in China.”

Tim Cook Tells Weibo Apple Is Committed To Supporting Local Communities In Wake Of Coronavirus Outbreak, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

Apple CEO Tim Cook posted on Weibo this morning, sharing his support for the people and communities in China in the aftermath of the coronavirus outbreak.

The Computer Scientist Responsible For Cut, Copy, And Paste, Has Passed Away, by Andrew Liszewski, Gizmodo

The advent of the personal computer wasn’t just about making these powerful machines available to everyone, it was also about making them accessible and usable, even for those lacking a computer science degree. Larry Tesler, who passed away on Monday, might not be a household name like Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, but his contributions to making computers and mobile devices easier to use are the highlight of a long career influencing modern computing.

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Those who think that Apple simply copied whatever they saw at Xerox Parc and called it a Mac are ignorant of all the innovations Apple bought to the desk.

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Thanks for reading.

The Organize-My-iPad Edition Wednesday, February 19, 2020

How Shortcuts Changed The Ways I Use My iPad For The Better, by Joseph Keller, iMore

Shortcuts have become an essential part of my digital life, not only for productivity but also for entertainment. At the same time, the iPad Pro has become equally vital to me, whether I'm writing an article (like this one), catching up with my favorite shows, or diving into another level of Where Cards Fall.

Because these tools are so important to me, I'm continually looking for ways to make them better or refine how I use them. Accordingly, over the past couple of months, I've changed how I organize my iPad, particularly in regards to apps and shortcuts. I've relegated apps to the dock, and shortcuts now dominate my Home screen, both on the Home screen itself and in the ever-present Today widget.

watchOS 6.1.3 For Apple Watch Available Today With Critical Bug Fixes, by Filipe Espósito, 9to5Mac

The update includes a fix for an issue that prevented the irregular heart rhythm notification from working as expected for Apple Watch owners in Iceland.

Stuff

Apple Music Debuts Intelligent Sorting Of Alternate Album Versions, by Ryan Christoffel, MacStories

Apple Music has debuted a small, but valuable new feature that makes it easier to find the exact album version you’re looking for. As discovered by our Federico Viticci, when alternate album versions are available, they’re now listed in a dedicated Other Versions section underneath an album’s track list.

Double-Check Your iPhone’s Medical ID Emergency Contacts, by Adam Engst, TidBITS

So take a minute and make sure you have a Medical ID configured in your iPhone and check that your emergency contacts show the correct phone numbers. The life you save could be your own.

Alto's Odyssey Now Available On macOS, by Tim Hardwick, MacRumors

The popular endless runner game for iOS, Alto's Odyssey, is now available on macOS computers via the Mac App Store.

Notes

Apple Reopens 10 More Stores In China Following Coronavirus Closures, by Malcolm Owen, AppleInsider

Apple's retail efforts in China are slowly being brought back to normal during the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, with the iPhone maker reopening 10 more stores in the country, including the first store it closed due to the epidemic.

Apple Takes Legal Action Against Former German App Store Manager's New Book, by Stephen Warwick, iMore

Apple is reported to have taken legal action against the former manager of its German App Store business, over his publication of a new book that could contain "business secrets" that are of "considerable economic value".

Deliver Us, Lord, From The Startup Life, by Kathryn Joyce, Wired

But perhaps the most interesting part of the Midwestern convergence of faith and technology, the most salient for believers and nonbelievers alike, is the way people there have begun to question the culture of tech entrepreneurship—and try to make it more humane. “Being an entrepreneur, you go through some very dark moments,” says Kristi Zuhlke, the 37-year-old cofounder of KnowledgeHound, a Chicago-based data visualization startup. “Raising funding is very lonely. You're basically convincing everyone that your idea is amazing while they constantly shoot you down.” It's the sort of thing that can make people question their faith, she continued, “or, if you don't have a faith, you start to clamor for hope that there's light at the end of the tunnel.”

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Even though I keep telling myself that it's okay to abandon books halfway -- I am not young, and I don't have a lot of time to read anymore -- I still find it difficult to abandon books halfway.

Which makes choosing my next book to read so much more difficult.

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Thanks for reading.

The Supply-and-Demand-Constraints Edition Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Apple Says It Won’t Meet Q2 Earnings Range Due To Coronavirus, iPhone Supply Constraints, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Apple had forecast a wider-than-usual range revenue range for Q2, predicting revenue between $63.0 billion and $67.0 billion. Apple now says it won’t hit even the lower-end of that range due to the effects of the coronavirus in China.

[...]

Apple cites two main reasons for this: worldwide constraints for iPhone supply and demand for Apple products within China.

Apple’s Cook Outlines ‘Slower Return To Normal’ In Memo To Staff, by Mark Gurman, Bloomberg

In the email, Cook mentioned Apple’s teams working on the fallout from the virus and said that the safety of employees, partners and customers is the company’s central concern.

Growth-Hack-Style

The Paywalled Garden: iOS Is Adware, by Steve Streza

If you don’t subscribe to these services, you’ll be forced to look at these ads constantly, either in the apps you use or the push notifications they have turned on by default. The pervasiveness of ads in iOS is a topic largely unexplored, perhaps due to these services having a lot of adoption among the early adopter crowd that tends to discuss Apple and their design. This isn’t a value call on the services themselves, but a look at how aggressively Apple pushes you to pay for them, and how that growth-hack-style design comes at the expense of the user experience. In this post, I’ll break down all of the places in iOS that I’ve found that have Apple-manufactured ads. You can replicate these results yourself by doing a factory reset of an iPhone (backup first!), installing iOS 13, and signing up for a new iCloud account.

Stuff

Developer Crunchy Bagel Releases A Mac Catalyst Version Of Streaks, by John Voorhees, MacStories

The app is a fantastic way to track and establish new habits. When it was launched, Streaks was iPhone-only. Since then, however, the app has added iPad support, an Apple Watch companion, Health app and Shortcuts integrations, new customizations, and other features, all while maintaining its distinctive, brightly-colored UI and fantastic iconography.

Today’s update adds Mac support to the mix via a brand new Catalyst app.

Tired Of Web Sites Blocking Standard Browser Controls? StopTheMadness!, by Josh Centers, TidBITS

Have you been frustrated by Web sites that prevent you from copying text and images, add advertisements to copied text, add tracking junk to URLs, keep you from pasting in passwords, and block the Control-click contextual menu? Developer Jeff Johnson has created a browser extension called StopTheMadness that puts an end to these and other annoying practices.

How To Deal With Running Out Of iCloud, Google, And Dropbox Space, by Adam Engst, TidBITS

There’s no magic here, and you should be careful when actually deleting files, but it’s common to discover that you’re wasting a significant amount of space on files that don’t matter.

Develop

iOS Performance Tips You Probably Didn't Know (From An ex-Apple Engineer), by Rony Fadel

I have spent the past 6 years at Apple working on Cocoa frameworks and first party apps. I’ve worked on Spotlight, iCloud, app extensions and most recently on Files.

I have noticed that there was a pattern of low-hanging fruits, where you could make 80% of the performance gains in 20% of the time.

Here’s a checklist of performance tips that would hopefully give you the biggest bang for your buck:

Notes

'Hey Siri, Bring In The Cattle And Irrigate Field Four', by Jonny Evans, Computerworld

If you go down to the farm today, you’ll likely find it packed with sensors, drones and remote management systems run by iPhones, iPads and other mobile devices.

In fact, we’re only one or two Siri Shortcuts away from voice-controlled farms equipped with remotely controlled irrigation, livestock and crop management solutions and blockchain-based crop lifecycle analysis tools.

Learning To Run Without Headphones, by Talmon Joseph Smith, The Atlantic

By the end of that accidental silent jog over the holiday season, however, I was reminded of what clearing one’s mind must truly feel like: Things I suppressed or hadn’t given full reflection—like the appropriate guilt I felt for forgetting a promise to a friend or the warmth I still felt from a Christmas morning spent listening to B. B. King with my 89-year-old grandfather—had happily been processed or had mercifully floated away.

Better than the quotidian runner’s high I get when jogging with music, I felt reset. And I wondered whether this ancient practice of cardio in solitude—which was honestly a bit dull for the first few hundred steps—was, in fact, a key to easing postmodernity’s malaise. Long hailed as a stress release, much of exercising has been noisily swallowed back into the tech-laden productivity and self-help craze: how many steps, how many calories, how good compared with everyone else—on this app, in this gym, in this class. As The New Yorker’s Jia Tolentino and others have mournfully written, wasn’t all of this supposed to help?

The iPhone At The Deathbed, by Penelope Green, New York Times

In a collision of technology and culture, of new habits and very old ones, we are beginning to photograph our dead again.

For families like Mr. Alexander’s who are choosing home funerals and following natural death practices — D.I.Y. affairs that eschew the services of conventional funeral parlors — photography is an extension and celebration of that choice.

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When I am dead, I will not be able to know nor care what you do with my body.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Shines-by-Comparison Edition Monday, February 17, 2020

Wikipedia Is The Last Best Place On The Internet, by Richard Cooke, Wired

Yet in an era when Silicon Valley's promises look less gilded than before, Wikipedia shines by comparison. It is the only not-for-profit site in the top 10, and one of only a handful in the top 100. It does not plaster itself with advertising, intrude on privacy, or provide a breeding ground for neo-Nazi trolling. Like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, it broadcasts user-generated content. Unlike them, it makes its product de-personified, collaborative, and for the general good. More than an encyclopedia, Wikipedia has become a community, a library, a constitution, an experiment, a political manifesto—the closest thing there is to an online public square. It is one of the few remaining places that retains the faintly utopian glow of the early World Wide Web. A free encyclopedia encompassing the whole of human knowledge, written almost entirely by unpaid volunteers: Can you believe that was the one that worked?

Stuff

Apple Maps Transit Directions Go Live In Various Locations In The EU, by Wesley Hilliard, AppleInsider

Apple Maps are showing train, bus, and tram directions for users in new European locations such as France, Spain, and Germany as a new update appears rolls out across the EU.

Apple Music Replay Has Been Updated To Create A 2020 Replay Playlist, by Wesley Hilliard, AppleInsider

After missing out on the month of January, Apple Music appears to be ready for 2020's Replay. Used to generate a top 100 playlist, the service uses your listening history to update the playlist every Sunday through the year.

Instagram CEO Explains Why The Company Hasn’t Developed An iPad App Yet, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

“We’d like to build an iPad app, but we only have so many people and lots to do, and it hasn’t bubbled up as the next best thing to do yet,” Mosseri said.

Develop

An App Can Be A Home-cooked Meal, by Robin Sloan

For a long time, I have struggled to articulate what kind of programmer I am. I’ve been writing code for most of my life, never with any real discipline, but/and I can, at this point, make the things happen on computers that I want to make happen. At the same time, I would not last a day as a professional software engineer. Leave me in charge of a critical database and you will return to a smoldering crater.

Making this app, I figured it out: I am the programming equivalent of a home cook.

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Of all the rules and restrictions that Apple has placed on the App Store, the lack of programming tools for home cooks -- like Hypercard and (gasp!) Visual Basic -- is probably one area that Apple really need to re-look and re-evaluate.

The lack of programming tools on iOS is not, financially, a big deal for Apple. But this leaves a whole segment of pro users from ever migrating from Mac (or Windows) to iOS and iPadOS.

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Thanks for reading.

The Accessible-and-Appealing Edition Sunday, February 16, 2020

Signal Is Finally Bringing Its Secure Messaging To The Masses, by Andy Greenberg, Wired

"The choices we’re making, the app we're trying to create, it needs to be for people who don’t know how to enable airplane mode on their phone," Marlinspike says.

Marlinspike has always talked about making encrypted communications easy enough for anyone to use. The difference, today, is that Signal is finally reaching that mass audience it was always been intended for—not just the privacy diehards, activists, and cybersecurity nerds that formed its core user base for years—thanks in part to a concerted effort to make the app more accessible and appealing to the mainstream.

Apple Accused By Ex-Exec It’s Suing Of Poaching His Staff, by Mark Gurman, Bloomberg

Gerard Williams III, who last year left his job as lead chip architect at Apple and co-founded Nuvia Inc., fired back with counter-claims against his former employer over its breach-of-contract lawsuit. He claims Apple tried to stop his firm from hiring its engineers while simultaneously recruiting staff from Nuvia.

[...]

Williams failed in January to persuade a judge to dismiss Apple’s complaint accusing him of using company resources to create an idea for Nuvia in violation of a contractual agreement. The Cupertino, California-based company declined to comment on Williams’s latest filing.

7 Reasons Why Apple Creates The Most 'Unhackable' Devices, by Mike Peterson, iDropNews

Apple devices have a reputation for being secure and privacy-respecting. And while Apple has certainly played up that angle in recent years, there is undoubtedly truth to that reputation.

To be clear, Apple devices aren’t "unhackable" — there’s no such thing as an "unhackable" device. But Apple's security features, and the software decisions it's made with its software, has created some of the most secure consumer devices in the world. Continue reading to browse seven reasons why that's the case!

Develop

Rules To Run A Software Startup With Minimum Hassle, by Jói Sigurdsson

Avoiding hassle is especially important for a bootstrapped company. As discussed in my previous post about the spiderweb entrepreneur, in the early stages of bootstrapping, nothing happens unless YOU do it, so it’s incredibly important to conserve your time and energy.

Notes

Apple Launching Program To Store Content Closer To Consumers, by Wesley Hilliard, AppleInsider

The Apple Edge Cache system is by invitation only, and applications can be sent in via the website portal for the service for consideration. Minimum requirement for applications include a minimum of 25Gbps of Apple traffic during peak usage. The network must also operate exist to primarily serve end users rather than some network operator.

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It's Sunday night as I am typing this... and I haven't prepared anything for tomorrow... and I am not feeling good about that... but let me play another round of Plants vs Zombies first.

:-)

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Thanks for reading.

The Fresh-Opportunities Edition Saturday, February 15, 2020

Apple Quietly Builds The Business Case For AR, by Jonny Evans, Computerworld

This means that if the company wants AR to break out from specific usage cases and hobbyists into the mainstream Apple knows it must enable viable businesses to grow.

That's what this new feature should achieve. In doing so, it should help make AR more widely used in transactions and may help generate fresh opportunities for new products and services.

Time Machine In Catalina 10.15.3 Has Serious Bugs, by Howard Oakley, The Eclectic Light Company

If you’re intending to rely on Time Machine backups in macOS 10.15.3, you might want to use an alternative as well. I can now confirm that making the first full backup using Time Machine can take so long that it may not be feasible, and that some users are also experiencing failure to restore from an existing backup.

Stuff

12 Meditation Apps For Better Sleep And Less Stress, by Amanda Capritto, CNET

For many people, finding the time or energy to commit to a regular practice is difficult, and though in-person visits to a meditation studio for meditation programs are a great option for some, for others they may not be a practical approach to consistent meditation. With a little help from good meditation apps, zen could be as little as three minutes away. Here are the best meditation apps of 2020 to improve your mindfulness practice and relax your mind.

'Lockdown' Firewall App That Lets You Block Ads And Trackers In All Apps Expands To Mac, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

Lockdown, a popular open source firewall app that's designed to let users block any connection to any domain, is now available for Macs in addition to iOS devices.

Pandora Introduces Standalone Apple Watch App, Stream Music And Podcasts With No iPhone Required, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

Pandora this week introduced a standalone Apple Watch app that allows you to stream music and podcasts from your wrist with no iPhone required.

Develop

The Horrifically Dystopian World Of Software Engineering Interviews, by Jared Nelsen

Sooner or later I’m going to have to get another job. Even if I don’t like the methodology, I am going to have to go through the loop again. But for now I’ve had enough. It seems unlikely that I will get anything to happen by repeating the same process over and over again. I’ll get on the merry go round again eventually but for now I am going to choose the only option that leaves me with my sanity:

I’m going to exit the loop for now.

Notes

Apple Reopens Beijing Stores With Temperature Checks, Limited Hours, Crowd Control, by William Gallagher, AppleInsider

Today Apple reopened all five of its Apple Stores in Beijing, following the closure due to the coronavirus outbreak. However, the Stores are all operating under new conditions imposed in order to limit possible spreading of the virus.

Apple Is Designing Its Own Antenna For This Year’s 5G iPhone, by Mark Sullivan, Fast Company

In a year where the 5G radio will be the new iPhone’s spotlight feature, Apple has decided to design the phone’s antenna itself.

Apple balked at the QTM 525 millimeter-wave antenna module offered to it by Qualcomm because it doesn’t fit into the sleek industrial design Apple wants for the new phone, a source with knowledge of Apple’s plans told Fast Company. Qualcomm will provide the 5G modem chip–its Snapdragon X55, also used in Samsung’s new Galaxy S20 phones–for the newest iPhone, which will likely be announced in the fall.

HQ Trivia Shuts Down After Acquisition Falls Through, by Josh Constine, TechCrunch

The demise of HQ Trivia demonstrates the fickle nature of the gaming and the startup scene as a whole. Momentary traction is no guarantee of future success. Products must continually evolve and adapt to their audience to stay relevant. And executives must forge ahead while communicating clearly with their teams, even amongst uncertainty, or find their companies withered by the rapid passing of time.

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In a world of e-commerce, it seems rather old fashioned to have travelled across seven subway stops just buy one thing and travel across the same subways back home.

So I ate some fried chicken before I came home.

:-)

~

Thanks for reading.

The Customizable-Button Edition Friday, February 14, 2020

Apple Expands ‘Quick Look’ To Let Retailers Sell Things Directly In Augmented Reality, by Greg Kumparak, TechCrunch

At first, though, Quick Look was really just for that — looking. You could look at an item in AR, but that was about it.

Apple is expanding upon the concept a bit, allowing developers to bring a customizable button into the mix. It could be a purchase button, triggering an Apple Pay prompt on the spot. Or it can be wired up to do just about any other single action a retailer might want. It could initiate a customer support chat to let a customer ask about color options — or it could point them to local retailers who have it in stock so they can see it in person.

Sleazy Adware Targets Mac Users--and Apple Steps Up Its Game, by Jason Snell, Six Colors

It seems that many of the items in Malwarebytes’ report have gotten the hammer from Apple and are no longer actively circulating. The report’s long list of Mac software is an alert that the Mac is now a much more enticing target for makers of adware and other scam software. It certainly can’t be a coincidence that Apple is stepping up enforcement of its policies at the same time that the number of these sleazy apps is increasing.

Apple Store Workers Should Be Paid For Time Waiting To Be Searched, Court Rules, by Maura Dolan, Los Angeles Times

Apple said it could prohibit employees from bringing any bags or personal Apple devices into its stores altogether but gave them that benefit. The California Supreme Court said a ban on any personal items would be “draconian.”

“Under the circumstances of this case and the realities of ordinary, 21st century life, we find farfetched and untenable Apple’s claim that its bag-search policy can be justified as providing a benefit to its employees,” the court said.

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After 1,434 Days Of Testing, My Review Of The iPhone 6S Plus, by Emanuel Maiberg, Motherboard

Given the disposable nature of modern electronics, it's remarkable that a complicated piece of technology like my iPhone 6S Plus lasted this long. I've dropped it hundreds of times and downloaded iOS updates designed for phones four or more generations ahead of mine.

YouTube TV Ending Support For App Store Subscriptions In March, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

There's no word on why YouTube is ending YouTube TV subscriptions through the ‌App Store‌, but Apple does take a cut of all subscription purchases, so avoiding in-app purchases will allow YouTube to skirt that fee.

Develop

4 Ways I Use Mind Maps To De-Stress My Life, by Rosemary Orchard, The Sweet Setup

Mind mapping has long been one of my favorite tools to help me get thoughts out of my head and onto paper (or screen) as well as give things a semblence of order without enforcing a strict structure. I realized some time ago that there are particular areas for which I frequently turn to mind maps, and the benefit of this is tangible.

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Apple need to step up and take care of its retail employees. Either pay them for waiting for bags to be searched, or figure out a way to reduce the wait time to zero.

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Thanks for reading.

The Without-Elaborating Edition Thursday, February 13, 2020

Foxconn Says Recent Reuters Reports On Factory Resumption In China Were Not Factual, by Reuters

Taiwan’s Foxconn said on Thursday that recent Reuters reports on its plant resumption plans in China were not factual.

Foxconn made the comment in a statement to the Taipei stock exchange, without elaborating on its production status.

New Mac Pro Facing Lengthy Delivery Estimates, Possibly Due To Coronavirus, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

In many European countries, for example, the base model without any customizations is currently estimated for delivery on March 10. While the new Mac Pro is assembled in the United States for orders placed in the Americas, European orders are assembled in China.

Apple’s Malware Problem Is Getting Worse, by Sara Morrison, Vox

Potentially unwanted programs are apps that are often downloaded along with software you actually want or come pre-installed on your device. The most frequently detected of these came in the form of “system optimizers” that, ironically enough, often pitch themselves to Mac users as adware removers (for a price).

What’s The Point Of Drag And Drop On The iPad?, by Charlie Sorrel, Cult of Mac

It’s the inconsistency that makes drag and drop useless on iOS and iPadOS. Instead of being a fundamental, consistent way to move files and folders between apps, it’s a novelty. If it works, that’s nice. But, just like Siri, many people will try it once or twice, and then give up.

Stuff

Strava For iOS Adds HealthKit Integration For Importing Apple Watch Workouts, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Strava is adding direct integration with Apple’s Health app for reading Apple Watch workhouse. Essentially, Strava will now read the data recorded by the Apple Watch Workouts application, and import that data into Strava.

SwitchGlass App Brings A Customizable Application Switcher To macOS, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

SwitchGlass for macOS brings a dedicated application switcher with a variety of different customization options to macOS.

Develop

Why Are We So Bad At Software Engineering?, by Jake Voytko, Bitlog

“We’re decent at building software when the consequences of failure are unimportant.” It fails horribly when failure isn’t cheap, like in Iowa. Common software engineering practices grew out of the internet economic model, and when the assumptions of that model are violated, software engineers become bad at what we do.

The Hidden Design Failure That's Costing Consumers Trillions, by Lou Downe, Fast Company

The services we use everyday, from student loans to healthcare and housing, are more likely to be the product of technological constraints, political whim, and personal taste than they are the conscious decision of an individual or organization. By not designing our services, we’re accepting that they will simply evolve to the conditions around them, regardless of whether or not that means a service meets user needs, is financially sustainable, or achieves a certain outcome.

Notes

Why Is Apple Rolling Out New OS Features In February?, by Jason Snell, Macworld

I like the idea that Apple has taken a little bit of time between the clean-up of the last major release of iOS and macOS and the run-up to WWDC and the next major release to roll out some features that don’t need to wait until fall. I like it a lot. So much so that I think Apple should build this mid-cycle release into its development plans from now on.

Apple And Amazon Are Transforming Culver City. Should They Pay More In Taxes?, by Wendy Lee, Los Angeles Times

Culver City has become one of the fastest-growing digital media hubs in Southern California as Amazon, Apple, China-owned TikTok and other firms have expanded into the area, drawn to its location and movie history. The influx has brought thousands of new jobs to the city but also caused some growing pains. Now, Culver City officials are considering a tactic that Silicon Valley cities have pursued: raising business taxes to help manage the inevitable costs of growth.

If history is any guide, such a move could create tensions between the city and the towering tech giants reshaping it. Amazon and Apple have occasionally clashed with cities in other areas over proposed tax hikes or policies deemed unfriendly to their interests.

Spotify Is Evolving, by Neil Cybart, Above Avalon

In its current form, Spotify doesn’t pose much of a long-term threat to Apple. Spotify is a service that is consumed by a small percentage of Apple users mostly on Apple’s platform. However, Apple can’t and shouldn’t ignore Spotify’s evolution. One of the more effective ways for Apple to compete with Spotify over the long run is to figure out where the company is headed and get there first.

Success at building an audio platform with millions of engaged developers could give Spotify a beachhead in audio apps and make it an App Store alternative in a wearables world. In such an environment, audio stands to be a key ingredient capable of augmenting our surroundings.

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I misplaced my iPhone. Okay, not actually misplaced. But the phone was not on my desk. So I shouted: Hey Siri, Where Are You?

The iPad on my desk responded with the usual "Yes?", indicating it didn't quite hear me. The phone was silent. Probably by design.

I wish, instead, each Siri device will take turns and tell me where they are. "I'm Siri in your iPad, and I am right here on your desk." "I'm Siri in your iPhone, I'm over here by the television." "I'm Siri in your Apple TV Remote. I'm in a dark drawer, as usual."

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Thanks for reading.

The Show-Someone Edition Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Apple Introduces Mac Catalyst Version Of Swift Playgrounds, by John Voorhees, MacStories

Swift Playgrounds has been around for quite a while on the iPad, but now, it’s on the Mac too as a Mac Catalyst app.

Swift Playgrounds teaches coding concepts and the Swift programming language. Until today, the app, which includes lessons designed to teach Swift alongside a coding environment, was an iPad exclusive. Now, however, anyone interested in learning Swift can move from the iPad to the Mac and back again.

Apple Explains BlueMail Reinstatement, Says BlueMail Finally Complied With Gatekeeper Security Requirements, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

Specifically, Apple says its Developer Technical Support team advised the BlueMail team to make changes to how it package its Mac app in order to resolve a security and privacy warnings issue related to the app creating a new binary with a bundle ID that changes on each launch.

Apple says that BlueMail finally submitted a revised version of its app with an updated binary respecting Gatekeeper on February 7, two days after its open letter to developers. Apple says its App Review team found that the previous issues had been addressed, allowing it to return to the Mac App Store as of Monday.

This NYC Pop-up Uses Augmented Reality To Teach Visitors About Sustainability, by Dillon Thompson, Yahoo Sports

It’s one thing to tell someone about sustainability, but it’s another thing entirely to show them.

And that’s exactly what Arcadia Earth aims to do. The New York City pop-up features 15 high-tech (and highly photogenic) rooms that let visitors feel, smell, hear and see their way through a lesson in environmental awareness.

Stuff

FlickType Keyboard Review: Real Typing On An Apple Watch Display, by Ryan Christoffel, MacStories

Tapping out messages in FlickType is extremely fast because the app uses a QWERTY layout, so your finger already knows where every key is. Behind the scenes, the app does a lot of work to figure out which letter you’re intending to tap, then strings those letters together to form the word it believes you wrote. In my testing, FlickType did an excellent job deciphering what I wanted to say.

Spark Mail App Now Lets You Recycle Sent Emails, Display Avatars, More, by Michael Potuck, 9to5Mac

Popular email client Spark for iOS and Mac is out with an update today that brings a few new neat features including a Send Again feature that’s sure to save time.

Notes

Amazon, Apple And HBO Hit Culver City To Fight The Streaming War, by Edvard Pettersson, Bloomberg

The streamers need to be where the writers, producers and other creative talent live and work. Apple craves content for its new Apple TV+ streaming service as it pushes beyond iPhones into digital services and subscriptions. Amazon says its massive spending on movies and shows helps draw consumers to its Prime subscription plan and encourages current members to renew. HBO, a pioneer in its own right with “The Sopranos,” which fired the starting gun on the “prestige TV” race in 1999, has to keep up.

FTC Launching Probe Into Acquisitions Made By Apple And Other Big Tech Companies, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

The purpose of the investigation is to help the FTC “deepen its understanding” of the acquisition strategy of companies like Apple. The FTC will put a particular focus on looking for potential anticompetitive acquisitions made by the companies.

Foxconn Aims To Resume Half China Production By end-February: Source, by Yimou Lee, Reuters

“Shipments will be affected, but it’s too early to give an exact number. We might still have a chance to make it with overtime, but we also need to monitor consumer sentiment to come for the end products,” the source added.

The reference was to electronics, including smartphones.

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Just one computer used to all the computing I need for the entire day. But now, I have a phone, a tablet, and a laptop, and I still wish for more. Maybe because Apple demonstrated that there is a different right tool for different jobs, and suddenly, you long for different computers at different jobs?

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Thanks for reading.

The Dissolving-Boundaries Edition Tuesday, February 11, 2020

How Your Laptop Ruined Your Life, by Amanda Mull, The Atlantic

It’s a common existential crisis among American office workers that there’s now virtually nowhere safe from the pull of their jobs. This inescapability is usually attributed to the proliferation of smartphones, with their push notifications signaling the arrival of emails and other workplace messages. The first iPhone, released in 2007, helped make social media omnipresent and pave the way for hyper-connected professional lives. Now, on-call retail workers and law-firm partners alike often feel as though they never really clock out.

But that blame is often applied solely to the wrong piece of take-home technology. If staying home with a cold still requires a full day of work or you can’t find a seat at your local coffee shop on a Tuesday afternoon, it’s not iPhones that are ruining your life. The novelty and early popularity of smartphones seem to have distracted America from how quickly their laptops were also dissolving much of the boundary between work and home.

Mozilla Lost The Browser Wars. It Still Thinks It Can Save The Internet, by David Pierce, Protocol

Mozilla has spent the last several years fighting harder and louder than ever for the future of the internet. It's fundamentally rethinking its most important product, Firefox, to align it with the company's vision of a more user-centric, privacy-conscious web. It's fighting in the courts to ensure that the internet is accessible and fair for as many users as possible. It's battling Google, Facebook and other tech conglomerates — including the ones that provide nearly all of Mozilla's revenue.

Tech has become a villain, and Mozilla has sought to appoint itself hero, animated by a pressing fear that if it doesn't fix the internet, doesn't bring back an era of privacy and openness and community, maybe no one will.

How Big Companies Spy On Your Emails, by Joseph Cox, Motherboard

The popular Edison email app, which is in the top 100 productivity apps on the Apple app store, scrapes users' email inboxes and sells products based off that information to clients in the finance, travel, and e-Commerce sectors. The contents of Edison users' inboxes are of particular interest to companies who can buy the data to make better investment decisions, according to a J.P. Morgan document obtained by Motherboard.

On its website Edison says that it does "process" users' emails, but some users did not know that when using the Edison app the company scrapes their inbox for profit. Motherboard has also obtained documentation that provides more specifics about how two other popular apps—Cleanfox and Slice—sell products based on users' emails to corporate clients.

Securing With Trust

Apple Joins Fido Alliance, Wants To Replace Passwords With Trusted Devices, by Ben Lovejoy, 9to5Mac

Only one of your own trusted devices can make a request for authentication as you, and only a different one of your own trusted devices can approve that request. An attacker wanting to impersonate you would need physical possession of two of your trusted devices, and to be logged in to both. For example, they would need to have your iPhone and its passcode, and your Mac and its password.

While Apple’s system is limited to its own devices, the alliance wants all manufacturers to sign up to this approach, so you’d also be able to authorize a login on an Android smartphone, Android tablet, Chromebook, Windows PC or any other trusted device.

Keyboard Matters

How Bad Is Apple's Keyboard Problem? Even Hollywood Recognizes It, by Andrew Liszewski, Gizmodo

Waititi’s comments on Apple’s keyboards were meant as more of a lighthearted jab than a call to action to boycott the company’s hardware, but he did use the Oscars as a platform to threaten a return to using a PC if the keyboard problem persists. Those are strong words for an Apple user, but maybe it’s exactly what’s needed so the rest of us can finally upgrade away from Apple’s biggest hardware failure in recent years.

The MacBook Butterfly Keyboard Legacy, by David Sparks, MacSparky

Even though Apple is now taking steps to fix the keyboards, it will be many years before those butterfly keyboard MacBooks (which you can still go and buy in the Apple store today) are out of circulation. The public perception that Apple keyboards are bad will last years longer than that.

Stuff

Why Can’t Family Sharing Include More Than Six People?, by Glenn Fleishman, Macworld

One solution: Take a Solomon-like approach and split the family in two. No, not down the middle of each child, thank you, but pick one parent for one group of kids to run their Family Sharing and another parent for the rest. This doesn’t give you quite the same financial benefit in not purchasing things twice, but it does allow collective Screen Time management and sharing of some purchases.

Ditto For Apple TV Update Adds Digital Signage With Free Templates, More, by Michael Potuck, 9to5Mac

Ditto for Apple TV offers robust features like simultaneous screen mirroring from up to four devices. Now Ditto is getting an update that lets customers use it for digital signage and is including free templates.

Notes

Apple Ireland’s Move To Limited Status Will Peel The Covers Off Its Opaque Finances, by Irish Times

On January 23rd, Apple’s six main Irish entities all began re-registering with the Companies Registration Office as limited companies, relinquishing unlimited status.

[...]

Returning to limited status means that Apple’s Irish entities will now have to file full annual accounts, detailing their sales, profits, tax bills and where their ultimate control lies. Apple will also have to reveal what sort of cash pile it is maintaining in Ireland through these entities.

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All apps that do notifications on my iPhone should have an in-app settings to set do-not-disturb schedule just for that app. An office-email app definitely should be on a different schedule than a perosnal-email app.

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Thanks for reading.

The Still-in-Talks Edition Monday, February 10, 2020

Taiwan's Foxconn Approved To Resume Zhengzhou Plant Production: Source, by Reuters

Taiwan’s Foxconn has received Chinese government approval to resume production at a key plant in the northern China city of Zhengzhou, a source with direct knowledge of the situation told Reuters on Monday.

But the company, which makes smartphones for global vendors including Apple, is still in talks with the government to resume production at another plant in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, the source added.

How Apple Is Using Its iPhone And Apple Watch To Improve Your Health, by David Snelling, Express

The Apple Watch and iPhone are two of the most popular gadgets on the planet but there's a lot more to them than simply sending a text or checking the latest posts on Facebook. Over the past few years, these devices have become increasingly advanced and one of their most powerful features is the ability to monitor your overall fitness.

Stuff

AI-powered Symphonia App Turns Singing Into Instrumental Music, by Stuart Dredge, Musically

French startup Symphonia claims that its iPhone app is “the future of music composing”. Released this year, it uses AI to help people turn their musical ideas into actual music.

Develop

Apple's Swift Programming Language Is Headed Towards 'World Domination' — Here's Why Developers At Uber And Airbnb Are Placing Their Bets On It, by Rosalie Chan, Business Insider

As an open source language, it's been able to attract a community of developers who can try it out, give feedback, and make their own contributions to the language. Similarly, Apple has released free tools that help developers get the most out of Swift, and that same community has released many of their own, to match.

Another reason is that it capitalizes on Apple's loyal fanbase. To many developers, supporting Swift as open source is a positive sign that Apple, the company that controls the App Store on which they build their businesses, wants a friendly relationship.

Notes

Taika Waititi Slams Apple’s MacBook Keyboards After Winning First Oscar, by Sam Byford, The Verge

“Apple needs to fix those keyboards,” he said. “They are impossible to write on — they’ve gotten worse. It makes me want to go back to PCs. Because PC keyboards, the bounce-back for your fingers is way better. Hands up who still uses a PC? You know what I’m talking about. It’s a way better keyboard. Those Apple keyboards are horrendous.”

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Remember when Apple pulled out of Macworld Expo, the company hinted that it will want to announce products on its own schedule?

I wonder how much control Apple has over this year's schedule.

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Regualr people heard about Apple's horrible keyboards? Wow.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Independent-Journey Edition Sunday, February 9, 2020

Inside Singapore's Oldest Islamic Religious School, Where They Put Faith In Apple iPads, by Ilyas Sholihyn, AsiaOne

In those early days of the iPad, there weren’t that many apps that could actually support a full-fledged educational system, not to mention a specialised curriculum such as Madrasah Alsagoff’s combination of Islamic knowledge, English, Malay, Arabic, Mathematics and Science syllabuses.

So the school embarked on an independent journey to develop its own software and digital learning materials, training its students to digitise textbooks and produce interactive content that could be shared among their peers and future generations. This they did through iBooks Author software — Apple’s e-book writing app — that allowed every student to contribute to the efforts. By the time they reach Primary 6, they would have been taught to create and publish textbooks for younger students to use.

Wacom Defends Itself Against Data Harvesting Accusations, by Malcolm Owen, AppleInsider

Wacom claims it collects data "for quality insurance and development purposes only," with the driver collecting a "sample of information" such as the model, hardware usage, and the names of apps. The company does not collect MAC addresses nor serial numbers.

While data is collected through Google Analytics, while Google does collect the IP address, Wacom does not have access to that data. Google Analytics is also said to anonymize the data before Wacom receives it.

The Apple Watch Activity Challenge Is Great, But It Has One Weird Flaw, by Henry T. Casey, Tom's Guide

Yes, that doesn't make sense, but who said gamification — turning work or routine into a fun game where you can get a prize — had to be perfect? Maybe there should be a third kind of award, such as "4,200 Club" or "Maximum Competition Score." In the end, it's good that neither of us got anything less than both of the virtual medals that we desired.

My Productivity App For The Past 12 Years Has Been A Single .Txt File, by Jeff Huang

So I tried various forms of todo lists, task trackers, and productivity apps. They were all discouraging because the things to do kept getting longer, and there were too many interrelated things like past meeting notes, calendar appointments, idea lists, and lab notebooks, which were all on different systems.

I gave up and started just tracking in a single text file and have been using it as my main productivity system for 12 years now. It is so essential to my work now, and has surprisingly scaled with a growing set of responsibilities, that I wanted to share this system. It's been my secret weapon.

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I'm thinking of endings lately. More specifically: how to end things while still in control? As I enter my sixth decade on this earth sometime later this year, I think I will have to figure out how to end things in a graceful and subtle manner, while making sure that things that should continue without me can continue without me.

So many things. So many endings.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Lengthier-than-Usual Edition Saturday, February 8, 2020

Many Built-to-Order iMac, iMac Pro, And MacBook Pro Models Currently Facing Extended Delivery Estimates, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

While custom configurations usually take more time to ship than standard configurations, current delivery estimates are even lengthier than usual. The reason for the delay is unknown, but on a speculative basis, it could be related to the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak in China that has forced many of Apple's suppliers to temporarily close their factories and suspend production.

Apple’s Outlook Clouded As Coronavirus Extends Production Delays, by Mark Gurman and Jeran Wittenstein, Bloomberg

Manufacturing partners have imposed quarantines on workers returning from China’s Lunar New Year holiday, prolonging the idling of Apple device assembly operations for as long as a month. While some analysts say it’s too early to fully assess the toll on the Cupertino, California-based company, pessimism is creeping into their outlooks.

[...]

“Apple’s supply chain typically has about a week or two of buffer inventory during the Lunar New Year holiday and as such any major extensions of the quarantine beyond Feb. 10 increase the risks of impacting the supply chain,” Krish Sankar and other analysts at Cowen Inc. wrote in a note to investors on Friday.

China Blocks Restart Of Foxconn Plants Due To Coronavirus: Sources, by Lauly Li, Coco Liu and Cheng Ting-fang, Nikkei Asian Review

Public health experts in Shenzhen informed Foxconn, which trades as Hon Hai Precision Industry, that its factories there face "high risks of coronavirus infection" after conducting on-site inspections and therefore are not suitable to restart work, four people familiar with the matter told Nikkei.

"Violation of epidemic prevention and control could potentially face the death penalty," the internal meeting memo seen by the Nikkei Asian Review said.

Develop

The Dark Shadow In The Injunction To ‘Do What You Love’, by Kira Lussier, Aeon

My argument is not that work shouldn’t be meaningful, or that pleasure cannot be found in work; my point is that we should think carefully before accepting managerial ideas of fulfilment through work, because they risk detracting from the economic and social structures that govern work. Work is work – no matter how many beer fridges or meditation seminars modern workplaces offer, and no matter how many well-intentioned trainers show slides of pyramids.

Notes

Black Girl Fest Academy And Today At Apple Help London Students Grow Their Communities, by Michael Steeber, 9to5Mac

At Apple Regent Street in London, groups of young women are gathering together to equip themselves with creativity and confidence. These women are part of Black Girl Fest Academy, a new program developed in association with Today at Apple and supported by mayor of London Sadiq Khan. The academy kicked off in late January and runs for seven months.

Fun With Charts: A Plague Of Performas, by Jason Snell, Six Colors

Over the next few years, you can see Jobs’s simplification of the Mac line, as the iMac and iBook debut, along with new Power Macs and PowerBooks—but never too many variations. In later years Apple has kept the total number of models fairly small. The spikes you see are generally when Apple refreshed a product line twice in the same year—for example, in 2009 Apple revised the Mac mini and iMac twice.

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When Steve Jobs was the CEO of Apple, Tim Cook was credited as the supply chain expert that did wonders to the production of Apple hardware products. Now that Tim Cook is the CEO of Apple, I doubt that he has the time to fully immersed himself in such operational details.

Now that the supply chain side of the business was greatly challenged. I wonder how Tim Cook feel. Does he decides to roll up his sleeves and get himself more involved in this side of the business, or does he not micro-managed his directors and managers but secretly wishes he can get himself more involved?

~

Thanks for reading.

The Reapir-at-your-Peril Edition Friday, February 7, 2020

Apple’s Independent Repair Program Is Invasive To Shops And Their Customers, Contract Shows, by Maddie Stone, Motherboard

“They give Apple a huge amount of discretion, impose potentially business-destroying costs and penalties on the repair shop, and require that they grant access to Apple without notice,” Walsh wrote in an email to Motherboard. Walsh added that Apple is “notorious” for interpreting its intellectual property rights very broadly, citing the time it sued Samsung over the rounded corners of several phone models as an example.

“If you sign this agreement,” Walsh continued, “then you repair non-Apple devices at your peril.”

Apple Proves It's One Of Right-to-Repair's Most Powerful Villains, by Catie Keck, Gizmodo

Apple would very much like us to believe it has our best interest at heart. It’s just given us yet another indication that’s not the case, and it’s no closer to letting go of its repair monopoly than it has been—which is to say, not at all. Apple should be ashamed.

News From China

Apple Orders For 45m AirPods At Risk From Coronavirus, by Cheng Ting-Fang and Laly Li, Nikkei Asian Review

Apple's plan to drastically ramp up AirPods production is under threat from the coronavirus outbreak, which has forced suppliers in China to halt operations for two weeks and could leave them short of components even after work resumes on Monday, multiple sources told the Nikkei Asian Review.

[...]

Luxshare Precision Industry, also known as Luxshare-ICT, Goertek and Inventec, the three key manufacturers of the AirPods, have halted the majority of production since the Lunar New Year break began, two people familiar with the matter told Nikkei. The three companies now have at most two weeks' worth of materials and components needed for AirPods assembly, and must wait for component makers across China to restart operations in order to receive fresh supplies, the people said.

Apple Stores In China Unlikely To Re-open On February 10, by Ben Lovejoy, 9to5Mac

Apple Stores in China were closed on February 1st in response to the coronavirus, with the company stating that they would remain so through February 9. Store webpages say that they will re-open on Monday, but a memo to local staff from retail and people head Deidre O’Brien suggests this is now unlikely.

Stuff

New iPhone 11 Ad Shows Off Apple's Night Mode, by Amber Neely, AppleInsider

Many of the photos in the ad show a direct side-by-side comparison, showing how Night mode can help users take better pictures in low-light environments.

Peek-a-View Lets You Safely Limit The Photos Someone Can See, by Ian Fuchs, Cult of Mac

If you’ve ever found yourself showing other people pictures on your phone, you’ve probably also been trying to micromanage what they can and can’t see. And, if you’re a parent of a young kid, it’s likely that you’ve let your child look through a photo album on your device. In that case, you’ve certainly been worried about their ability to delete or accidentally modify an image.

There are ways to limit what a person — or child — can or can’t get to on your device through the Guided Access settings in iOS. But nothing is as simple as using a new iOS app called Peek-a-View to lock down your photos.

Develop

Apple Says Developers Can Now Offer Custom Apps To Schools Via Apple School Manager, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

According to Apple, developers can identify organizations via App Store Connect, and give those organizations the ability to purchase the customized app via Apple School Manager in volume. Apple also notes that educational institutions can tap into this feature for distributing proprietary apps used internally.

Notes

Apple Fined 25 Million Euros In France For Slowing Down Older iPhones With iOS Update, by Tim Hardwick, MacRumors

The Directorate General for Competition, Consumption and the Suppression of Fraud (DGCCRF), which is part of the country's economy ministry, concluded that Apple had failed to inform users that iOS updates to older iPhones could slow down their devices.

Apple Removed 18 Smelters And Refiners In 2019 For Flouting Conflict Mineral Code Of Conduct, by Mikey Campbell, AppleInsider

In a disclosure to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Apple detailed efforts to responsibly source so-called conflict minerals — tin, tantalum, tungsten, gold (3TG, collectively) and other minerals — used in the production of iPhone, iPad, Mac, iPod touch, Apple TV, Apple Watch, AirPods, HomePod, Apple Card, Beats products and all Apple accessories.

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When was the last time Apple gave a product a good name? My vote is Safari.

(I'm thinking of Apple product names because I get angry every time I launch the Find My app.)

:-)

~

Thanks for reading.

The Unlocks-for-All Edition Thursday, February 6, 2020

Apple Adds Ability For Developers To Sell Mac And iOS Apps As A Single Purchase, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

With the latest beta releases, Apple has added the ability for developers to create unified purchases across Mac and iOS.

This means that a developer can list an iPad app in the App Store and a Mac version in the Mac App Store. When the customer buys either version, it automatically unlocks for all platforms. Previously, developers could only offer separate independent purchases.

New ‘CarKey’ Feature In iOS 13.4 Beta Brings Built-in Support For Unlocking, Driving, And Sharing NFC Car Keys, by Filipe Espósito, 9to5Mac

iOS 13.4 contains references to a “CarKey” API, which will make it possible to use the iPhone and also the Apple Watch to unlock, lock and start the car. According to the system’s internal files, users will be able to use CarKey in NFC compatible cars, as they only need to hold the device near the vehicle to use it as a key.

Privacy Matters

Wacom Drawing Tablets Track The Name Of Every Application That You Open, by Robert Heaton

If you too have a Wacom tablet (presumably this tracking is enabled for all of their models), open up the “Wacom Desktop Center” and click around until you find a way to disable the “Wacom Experience Program”. Then the next time you’re buying a tablet, remember that Wacom tries to track every app you open, and consider giving another brand a go.

Security Matters

Apple Reportedly Patches Catalina Bug That Showed Unencrypted Snippets Of Encrypted Emails, by Jay Peters, The Verge

Apple released macOS Catalina 10.15.3 last week, and the update apparently patched a bug that could let you read some text from encrypted emails as if they were unencrypted, according to IT specialist Bob Gendler.

Stuff

Diagrams Is A New Mac App That Lets You Easily Create Structured Flowcharts, by Filipe Espósito, 9to5Mac

The Diagrams app is extremely straightforward in what it aims to do, so you don’t have to spend time trying to understand how the app works. Once you open it, you just have to choose which elements you want to add on the canvas.

One Switch: My New Must-Have Mac Utility, by Josh Centers, TidBITS

By default, One Switch offers switches to hide or show Desktop icons, switch between Light mode and Dark mode, keep your Mac awake, turn on the screen saver, connect AirPods, and toggle Do Not Disturb, Night Shift, and True Tone.

These are settings I need all the time.

A Better Way To Type On An iPhone?, by Bob Levitus, Houston Chronicle

I’m relatively proficient with QWERTY, typing around 60 words per minute on any decent keyboard. But the iPhone keyboard isn’t a decent keyboard; I’m lucky if I type 10 words per minute on my iPhone (and even fewer if I make a mistake, which I invariably do).

And that is why I’m fascinated by Typewise, the first keyboard app designed from the ground up for a touchscreen, and it’s promise to reduce typos by up to 80 percent.

Nomad Unveils New iPhone 11 Leather Cases With Full Support For Moment Lenses, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

The new Nomad cases are fully compatible with Moment’s lenses. They feature an anchor point built-in for attaching a lens, as well as lanyard attachment points at the case of the case.

Notes

Surprise! Cheaper Apple Products Are Hits, by Jason Snell, Macworld

It feels like Apple’s new revenue calculus opens the door for the company to keep pushing out cheaper versions of their products in order to get people into its ecosystem, so long as it can balance those products with more expensive models with higher-end features. Because none of us, least of all Apple itself, should be surprised when a $199 Apple Watch is a big hit.

Why Apple's Streaming Strategy Is Such A Head-Scratcher, by Trey Williams, The Wrap

Yet Apple TV+’s virtual lack of impact at this point has been no surprise to industry experts.

At this point, Apple TV+ is seen as little more than a companion service — an add-on — for Apple to entice customers to buy new iPhones, iPads, MacBooks or any number of Apple products, which is what the company really wants.

“Where they go from there,” Leichtman said, “is kind of up in the air.”

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Stunts like what Wacom pulled only strengths the argument that we need someone like Apple to tighten the third-party app ecosystem.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Bit-of-a-Pickle Edition Wednesday, February 5, 2020

One Very Bad Apple, by Vicki Boykis

So, here we are, in 2020, with Apple in a bit of a pickle. It’s becoming so big that it’s not prioritizing security. At the same time, it needs to advertise privacy as a key differentiator as consumer tastes change. And, at the same time, it’s about to get canclled by the FBI, China, and Russia.

And while it’s thinking over all of these things, it’s royally screwing over the consumer who came in search of a respite from being tracked. And what is the consumer doing? Well, this one in particular has limited ad tracking, stopped iCloud backups of messages, and has resumed her all-encompassing paranoia.

Apple’s News Service Business Chief Departs After Slow Start, by Mark Gurman, Bloomberg

Liz Schimel, the outgoing executive, joined in mid-2018 after serving as the president of international business at magazine publisher Conde Nast, said people familiar with the move who asked not to be identified discussing personnel matters. At Apple, Schimel oversaw relationships with advertisers and news publishers.

Apple, Just Bundle News+ Already, by M.G. Siegler, 500ish Words

Yes, this is a little sad from a writer/former reporter perspective. But it’s reality. Facebook is starting to subsidize the news and other content, Apple can too via News+. And it can be goodwill for their users as well.

Stuff

iCloud.com Update Adds Native Mobile Browser Support For Android And iOS, by Amber Neely, AppleInsider

Those accessing iCloud from their mobile browsers can now use Photos, Notes, Reminders, and Find iPhone via a browser without having to switch to "desktop site."

StaffPad, A Stunning Windows Music Writing App, Is Now Available On iPad, by Tom Warren, The Verge

Handwriting recognition for music notation is the big selling point of StaffPad. That’s now being complimented with new sound libraries that let you play your score with the realism of a full orchestra, and a separate free Reader app that anyone can use to play a score on Windows tablets and the iPad.

Zagg’s New iPad Folio Brings Quality Keyboard At Budget Price, by Ed Hardy, Cult of Mac

This clip-on accessory wraps around the front and back of the latest iPad to cushion the tablet, and the case is covered in a fabric material that protects from dings and scratches.

Develop

Can Software Leaders Use Metrics Without Damaging Culture?, by Dan Lines, LinearB

You can use metrics without damaging your culture. It turns out that it’s not the insane tightrope walk many make it out to be. Choose the right metrics, incentivize the behavior that helps your entire team, and be empathetic when you share metrics with your team.

Notes

iPhone App Makers Questioned In U.S. Antitrust Probe Of Apple - Sources, by Diane Bartz, Reuters

A source familiar with the Justice Department’s investigation said a handful of app developers had been contacted in what is the first indication of what officials are pursuing involving Apple since the investigation was revealed by Reuters in June.

[...]

The company was accused in lawsuits last year of abusing its clout in the app market. In one case, the U.S. Supreme Court gave the go-ahead last May to an antitrust lawsuit that accused Apple of forcing consumers to overpay for iPhone software applications.

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Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, and Apple Music are all available (mostly) all over the world. Apple News+? Not so much. If Apple has problems getting newspapers and maagzines -- especially those that have global appeal -- on board, maybe Apple should just expand this to include books from the major and local publishers.

Personally, I don't see any value in bundling Apple News+ into any of the other services. It is not really compatible with watching television, playing games, or listening to music. Bundling Apple News+ with, essentially, a Kindle Unlimited service, now that's a deal.

(Go buy Scribd, Apple.)

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Thanks for reading.

The Game-Over Edition Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Apple's AirPods Pro Are The Best Earbuds You Can Buy, But For All The Wrong Reasons, by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, ZDNet

It's game over for the other players in terms of earbuds. Just as Apple gave its apps an advantage over other apps in the App Store, here Apple has given itself a massive ecosystem advantage. And I doubt that this will be the last area that Apple builds an advantage for itself into iOS.

And this makes me very uncomfortable.

Apple’s Mac Pro Is Accessible, But They Still Don’t Trust You, by Kevin Purdy, IFixIt

Trying to replace the primary solid-state drive on the Mac Pro (or the entire logic board) triggers a freak-out, where the device won’t boot again until an authorized Apple technician runs a diagnostic tool to pair the SSD with the T2 security chip. You might be able to get aftermarket storage set up and running as your primary drive, with some tinkering and great Time Machine backups. But, generally, an SSD failure means turning to Apple, and likely haul your big Mac Pro to a Store, to get it working again.

Apple Suppliers Aim To Resume Full China Production Feb. 10, by Debby Wu, Bloomberg

Apple Inc.’s major suppliers in China, including iPhone-maker Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., plan to resume full-scale production in the country Feb. 10, despite the coronavirus that has infected thousands and limited travel.

Foxconn’s Hon Hai, the most important manufacturer for the U.S. company, said Tuesday it still expects to be able to restart facilities throughout China on schedule, according to a text message sent to Bloomberg News. Suppliers such as Quanta Computer Inc., Inventec Corp. and LG Display Co. also said they would go back to work next week in China.

Security Matters

Fixed Sudo Flaw In macOS Gave Root-command Privileges To All Users, by Malcolm Owen, AppleInsider

A vulnerability has been discovered in 'Sudo,' a powerful utility used in the macOS Terminal, one that could allow for users with restrictive privileges or malicious software to be able to run commands with administrative-level privileges, which could result in the loss or theft of user data in unpatched Macs.

Stuff

Apple Bumps Trade-in Values For Apple Watch Series 2 And 3 To $100 For Heart Month, by Michael Potuck, 9to5Mac

February is Heart Month and Apple is taking the opportunity to offer customers better trade-in deals for Apple Watch Series 2 and 3 when upgrading to Series 5. The promotion sees the older Apple Watch models valued at the same $100 that Apple is giving for Series 4.

Book Track Review: A Modern, iOS-Friendly Library Manager, by Ryan Christoffel, MacStories

The app’s simplicity, modernity, and attractive design make it an appealing option in a scarce marketplace, but it’s the tagging feature that really puts it over the top for me. Being able to search for books in one place and see which platform I own them on is extremely valuable to me.

Quick Look: Portal App Mixes Sights, Sounds & Hue Lighting To Relax You, by Ben Lovejoy, 9to5Mac

The app is a simple one: it displays slow-moving video clips of nature scenes on the iPhone or iPad screen while playing real-life sounds from the same location through any AirPlay speakers.

In the latest update, which added Philips Hue integration, it also aims to sync your color lighting to the scenes. You just select your room, and all the lighting in that room will be controlled by the app.

Develop

Apple Brings Free Developer Accounts To Eight More Countries For Nonprofits, Gov, And Edu Institutions, by Michael Potuck, 9to5Mac

Apple has expanded the ability for eligible organizations to apply for developer account fee waivers today to eight more countries, bringing the total to 13 that have the opportunity to get free developer memberships.

Notes

How Long Should A Nap Be?, by Charlotte Cowles, The Cut

To get to the bottom of this, I called Rafael Pelayo, a sleep specialist at the Stanford Center for Sleep Sciences and Medicine. He explained that long naps can make you feel even more tired because, after about 40 minutes to an hour, your brain graduates to slow-wave sleep, a phase of deep rest that’s difficult to wake up from. “The transitional phase from being awake to being in a very deep sleep is known as intermediate sleep, and that’s where you want to keep your nap — usually about 20 to 40 minutes, and probably no longer than an hour,” he says.

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I need naps.

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Thanks for reading.

The Bad-Ideas Edition Monday, February 3, 2020

iPad: Now What?, by Jean-Louis Gassée, Monday Note

The iPad situation is serious. As an old warrior of the early Mac years recently said, one worries that Apple’s current leadership is unable to say No to bad ideas. Do Apple senior execs actually use the iPad’s undiscoverable and, once discovered, confusing multitasking features? Did they sincerely like them? Perhaps they suffer a lack of empathy for the common user: They’ve learned how to use their favorite multitasking gestures, but never built an internal representation of what we peons would feel when facing the iPad’s “improvements”.

iPad Turns 10 — People Lose Their Damn Mind, by Ben Brooks, The Brooks Review

This really looks like a classic case of bloggers and mass media causing a perception around the iPad which creates a self-fulfilling cycle. That is: they write that nothing serious can be done on the iPad, therefore you should never consider it for that. Because the media writes this they give pause to any person wanting to use the iPad for such ‘serious’ things, or looking to make such ‘serious’ things for the iPad, because people the general population seems to think are smart about these matters don’t think you can achieve such things.

Over-Extended

Is Catalina A Good Upgrade Yet?, by Howard Oakley, The Eclectic Light Company

For many users, the drawbacks in Catalina are largely the result of Apple becoming over-extended: Catalina runs best on Macs with hardware specifications that Apple marketing isn’t yet prepared to make the baseline for models such as the iMac. This all seems horribly like the mess that Apple got into over the amount of memory supplied in the original Macs during the first year of their release, when everyone knew that 128 KB of memory was insufficient, but Apple still soldered that into its base model of Mac.

Stuff

Apple Launches Two New Apple Arcade Ads Promoting Oceanhorn 2 And More, by Jack Purcher, Patently Apple

Apple's big Apple Arcade push today now includes two new Apple Arcade ads.

Review: Nomad’s Base Station Stand Pairs A Premium Design With iPhone And AirPods Support, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

This year, Nomad’s Base Station Stand packs a two-coil wireless charging surface that can provide up to 10W of power. This means it supports the 7.5W fast charging capabilities of the iPhone, and you can place your iPhone either vertically or horizontally on the stand. [...]

The Base Station Stand also supports AirPods and AirPods Pro. AirPods Pro have to be rotated vertically, but they charge without issue and I didn’t have any issues casually sitting the AirPods on the charger, but missing the Qi coil.

Develop

The Cup-of-coffee Pricing Fallacy, by Yoav Aner, Ginerlime

The simplest solution is to just drop the analogy and let people figure out if the price is right for them. If your app or service is truly unique, and there’s nothing to anchor against, then go ahead! Knock yourself out on caffeine.

A Stanford Psychologist On The Art Of Avoiding Assholes, by Sean Illing, Vox

I sat down with him recently to talk about his strategies for dealing with assholes, what he means when he says we have to take responsibility for the assholes in our lives, and why he says self-awareness is key to recognizing that the asshole in your life may be you.

“You have to know yourself, be honest about yourself, and rely on people around you to tell you when you’re being an asshole,” he told me. “And when they are kind enough to tell you, listen.”

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Normally, I start work at my office at 8.30am. I can probably get to a somewhat close approximation of Inbox Zero by 9.30am. That's when, I always kid myself, my real work begins. (Actually, part of my work is also to read and reply emails and to add to my Todo list.)

Today, due to a combination of meetings and crisis, I only get to Inbox Zero at 7pm.

I am so ready to give up.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Low-Screen Edition Sunday, February 2, 2020

More Students Are Learning On Laptops And Tablets In Class. Some Parents Want To Hit The Off Switch., by Debbie Truong, Washington Post

Meaghan Edwards had just finished reading children’s books to her son’s third-grade class when the teacher announced that students could have free time before lunch. Instead of playing cards, talking with friends or reading more, the students pulled out their iPads.

“They were zoned out like little zombies,” recalled Edwards, whose children attended school in the Eanes Independent School District in Austin.

[...]

From Northern Virginia to Shawnee, Kan., to Norman, Okla., parents have demanded schools reduce or eliminate use of digital devices, provide alternative “low-screen” classwork and allow parents to say they do not want their children glued to glowing screens. Some families have even transferred their children to schools that are not so smitten with technology.

Steve Jobs’s Real Talent Wasn’t Design—it Was Seduction, by Michael Hageloh, Fast Company

What are music, beauty, sensuality, emotion, and the sense of belonging if not the tools of seduction? The world was seduced by Apple and, despite a few hiccups (iPhone 4’s metal antenna, I’m looking at you), the company has kept the romance going since 1998.

If you want to move your organization beyond selling, find a way to seduce your customers and make them fall in love.

Selling Phones

The iPhone Hasn’t Peaked After All, And Here Are Four Reasons Why, by Mark Sullivan, Fast Company

One strong holiday quarter doesn’t reverse the trend of cooling growth for the iPhone. But it does put the brakes on any decline of the iPhone as the centerpiece of Apple’s business—and proves that if you give people a better phone and make it simple to understand and buy, they’ll still do so in large numbers.

It's Over For The Smartphone – We Just Don't Know It Yet, by Chris Smith, Trusted Reviews

These devices are so incredibly brilliant, so useful, so helpful and so beneficial in so many ways, that it’s almost sad to see it come to this, but the narrative has changed. Phones are no longer seen as a force for good. What comes next must change this.

Apple Store Closings In China Could Delay 1 Million iPhone Sales, Wedbush Says, by Tucker Higgins, CNBC

Apple's decision to temporarily shutter its stores in China as a result of the new coronavirus could delay up to 1 million iPhone sales but is unlikely to have a substantial impact on the company's revenue, analysts at Wedbush Securities said Saturday.

"We believe with the limited transportation in major cities throughout China and limited foot traffic in Shanghai, Beijing, and other cities that at most \~1 mm iPhones in the region could be at risk of shifting out of the March quarter into the June quarter if this continues into late February," analysts Daniel Ives and Strecker Backe wrote.

Stuff

Apple Arcade Scores An Apple․com Takeover With This Must-see, Whimsical Promotion, by Zac Hall, 9to5Mac

Notice anything out of the ordinary on Apple.com today? Don’t worry, you’re not hallucinating. Sonic, Frogger, and other Apple Arcade characters have taken over Apple’s homepage. Sure, it may just be an ad for Apple’s $5/month subscription game service, but it has character.

Develop

Bad Day At The Office? Try These Life Hacks From The Military, by Samantha Rea, Spectator

“I’m a great believer in healthy body, healthy mind. If you’re physically fit, you’ll be more mentally fit,” says Nanson, who takes his morning run as an opportunity to reflect. On Nanson’s watch, a run is not just shuffling round the park resisting the urge to buy an ice-cream. It is Command Time.

“Getting off the computer and out of the office gives you the time and space to think and consider your own life, and the decisions you’re about to make,” says Nanson, who tells me he wouldn’t be without his daily physical.

Old CSS, New CSS, by Evelyn Woods, Fuzzy Notepad

I’ve been taking for granted that most folks doing web stuff still remember those days, or at least the decade that followed, but I think that assumption might be a wee bit out of date. Some time ago I encountered a tweet marvelling at what we had to do without border-radius. I still remember waiting with bated breath for it to be unprefixed!

But then, I suspect I also know a number of folks who only tried web design in the old days, and assume nothing about it has changed since.

I’m here to tell all of you to get off my lawn. Here’s a history of CSS and web design, as I remember it.

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I'm having a very pleasant Sunday: watching My Neightbor Totoro on Netflix and listening to John Siracusa on The Incomparable. Made me forget to be anxious on a Sunday night.

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Thanks for reading.

The Global-Struggle Edition Saturday, February 1, 2020

Apple Has A Vladimir Putin Problem, by Josh Nadeau, Fast Company

In November 2019, Russian parliament passed what’s become known as the “law against Apple.” The legislation will require all smartphone devices to preload a host of applications that may provide the Russian government with a glut of information about its citizens, including their location, finances, and private communications.

Apple typically forbids the preloading of third-party apps onto its system’s hardware. But come July 2020, when the law goes into effect, Apple will be forced to quit the country and a market estimated at $3 billion unless it complies. This piece of legislation, along with a controversial law aimed at the construction of a “sovereign internet,” is the latest step in Vladimir Putin’s ongoing encroachment into digital space—and has brought Apple into direct conflict with the autocratic Russian president.

[...] Apple’s insistence on putting privacy first is gradually pushing the tech giant into a larger, global struggle over data rights and digital sovereignty.

The Biggest Apple Maps Change Is One You Can't See, by Lauren Goode, Wired

Apple says Maps does not link to a specific user ID, that a user’s location is obscured when searching within Maps, and that the company doesn’t retain a history of user locations. Google, in the past, has been called out for collecting and storing fairly granular location data without making it obvious to users that it’s happening—and even if they had paused location sharing. “What Apple is trying to offer here is privacy of users’ location data,” Zimmerman says.

Apple To Close Stores In China Through Feb. 9 On Virus Fears, by Bloomberg

Apple Inc. will close its corporate offices, stores and contact centers in mainland China through February 9, a move the company says comes out of an “abundance of caution and based on the latest advice from leading health experts.”

The move comes as global companies with heavy Chinese footprints weigh how to respond to the threat of the spreading coronavirus that has prompted worldwide concern but remains primarily concentrated in China, the country where it first surfaced.

Stuff

Apple Offering Onsite Device Repairs In Select Cities Through Go Tech Services, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

Apple is now offering an onsite repair option for customers in select cities who need issues with their Apple devices addressed but aren't able to visit a repair shop or Apple Store.

The onsite repair options are available through Apple Authorized Service Provider Go Tech Services, which promises to repair your device "at your home or office."

Overcast Podcast Player Launches Voice Boost 2, AirPlay 2 Support, More, by Filipe Espósito, 9to5Mac

If you already use Overcast, you probably know Voice Boost. It normalizes voice volume so every podcast will play at the same level, allowing the user to listen to them in noisy environments, such as an airport or a crowded mall. That feature has been completely rebuilt with the latest update to be more efficient and accurate.

Notes

The Struggle Is Real...with App Subscriptions, by Christine Chan, iMore

Honestly, after this, I'm seriously going to be taking a look at the app subscriptions I have and trimming the fat. It's sad that it seems subscriptions are the only way to make money with apps these days, and I wish we could go back to the old days of upfront costs for apps and paid upgrades because at least the customer had the choice to update or not that way.

It's 2020, but this feels like the straw that's breaking the camel's back.

The Fractured Future Of Browser Privacy, by Lily Hay Newman, Wired

At the USENIX Enigma security conference in San Francisco this week, developers, security researchers, and privacy advocates presented differing views of how browsers should protect their users against data abuses. In a panel discussion that included representatives from Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and Brave, all participants agreed that collaboration across the industry has driven innovation and helped make privacy a priority. But some browsers are taking a hardline approach, while others prefer to increase protections within the status quo.

Apple In 2019: The Six Colors Report Card, by Jason Snell, Six Colors

It’s time for our annual look back on Apple’s performance during the past year, as seen through the eyes of writers, editors, developers, podcasters, and other people who spend an awful lot of time thinking about Apple.

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I may not be ready yet, but I can be ready in a moment's notice, I think. Returning to the ocean.

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Thanks for reading.