The Charging-and-Discharging Edition Friday, April 17, 2020

Apple Changes Default MacBook Charging Behavior To Improve Battery Health, by Jason Snell, Six Colors

Apple changes default MacBook charging behavior to improve battery health, enables a new default approach to charging and discharging MacBook batteries. According to Apple, the feature is meant to reduce the rate of chemical aging of the MacBook’s battery, thereby extending its long-term lifespan—but without compromising on day-to-day battery life.

The feature works by analyzing the temperature of the battery over time, as well as the charging pattern the laptop has experienced—in other words, does the laptop frequently get drained most of the way and then recharged fully, or is it mostly kept full and plugged in?

For Many Years to Come

The New iPhone SE Is A Shockingly Good Value, by Dieter Bohn, The Verge

The most important thing to know about the SE’s value proposition is simply that it has the A13 Bionic processor, which is bar-none the fastest processor you can get on any smartphone at any price, full stop. You could spend $1,449 on a fully maxed-out iPhone 11 Pro Max and it wouldn’t be faster than the iPhone SE. You could spend $1599.99 on a maxed-out Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G and it would be theoretically slower (with the exception of 5G downloads).

This isn’t just a matter of processor megahertz per buck, it’s a matter of the longevity of the phone itself. More than any other phone company, Apple supports its phones for a very long time. Since this iPhone SE has the most modern processor available, it’s quite likely that it will receive software updates for many years to come.

Large Size Of Apple’s New Low-Cost iPhone SE Disappoints, by Adam Engst, TidBITS

Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing, is quoted in the iPhone SE press release as saying, “The first iPhone SE was a hit with many customers who loved its unique combination of small size, high-end performance and affordable price.” That’s absolutely true, especially the “small size” part. However, then he goes on to say, “the new second-generation iPhone SE builds on that great idea and improves on it in every way.” No. When small size is the key feature, “improved” would require that it get smaller, not larger.

Sorry, Apple hates you and your tiny hands. And your small pockets.

Privacy Matters

NHS In Standoff With Apple And Google Over Coronavirus Tracing, by Alex Hern, The Guardian

“The important thing here is, if you want your iPhones to work with this in your country, then you’ll need to effectively adhere to Apple’s standard of privacy for the system,” said Dr Michael Veale, a lecturer in digital rights and regulation at UCL.

“Apple have said that the standard of privacy that they are demanding is a decentralised system. Otherwise, it will be very difficult to get iPhones to work with it without a workaround that will just stop people using it.”

ACLU Gives Apple/Google Coronavirus Contact Tracing API A Mixed Reception, by Ben Lovejoy, 9to5Mac

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has praised some aspects of the Apple/Google coronavirus contact tracing API, while saying that the companies need to do better in three areas.


Apple Music On The Web Exits Beta, by Eric Slivka, MacRumors

Once you're signed into the web version of ‌Apple Music‌ with your Apple ID that has an associated ‌Apple Music‌ subscription, you'll have access to all of your library and playlist content, as well as the same personal mixes and recommendations you'll see in the Music apps for iOS, Mac, and Android.

Zoom Repairs Flaws And Improves Privacy, by Glenn Fleishman, TidBITS

Zoom continues to squash bugs while making good on its promises of the last few weeks to respond rapidly. To regain the trust of those who have been troubled, to put it mildly, about Zoom’s past lapses, the company will have to continue down this path of improved security and privacy and increased transparency, while maintaining the high levels of quality and performance that have made it one of the most popular options for videoconferencing during the pandemic.

We suspect that Zoom will never be able to recover from its mistakes in the eyes of some people. For those who aren’t as adamantly opposed to the company, however, it does seem that the company is both saying the right things and working hard to move in the right direction. For a recent TidBITS staff call, we tried Skype for about 5 minutes and were plagued with audio dropouts and other issues. When we switched to Zoom, the audio and video were rock-solid for the remainder of the hour-long call. We’ll continue to test other options, but Zoom has set the bar high.

TV Forecast Review: An Elegant Way To Track Your Favorite Shows, by John Voorhees, MacStories

TV Forecast elegantly combines a simple, modern design aesthetic with smooth, fluid UI that carefully balances the shows you already watch with effortless browsing of new shows.


The Buy-Nothing Home Office, by John Herrman, New York Times

Whether you are working, avoiding work, balancing work with care for others or looking for work, chances are your temporary office is neither an optimized nor particularly happy place right now. I have no tips for optimizing it, in the aspirational work-from-home, escape-the-office sense.

Let’s lower our expectations. Here are a few ways to make working from home less miserable, according to experts.


During Coronavirus Quarantine, Apple Watch Is A Fitness Friend, by Buster Hein, Cult of Mac

Even people who never realized Apple Watch’s awesome motivational power are standing up and testifying: The device helps get your butt up off the couch during the coronavirus quarantine.

“It’s fantastic that a gadget was the thing I needed to get myself in shape again,” said Sune Holt, an Apple Watch wearer from Denmark. “In November, I feared I wasted my money. Now it’s the best investment in a lifetime.”

Apple CEO Talks Covid-19 Crisis, Return To Work Plan At Company-Wide Meeting, by Mark Gurman, Bloomberg

“If we stay focused on doing what we do best, if we keep investing, if we manage the business wisely and make decisions collaboratively, if we take care of our teams, if our teams take care of their work, I don’t see any reason to be anything but optimistic,” Cook, who has been Apple’s top executive for nearly a decade, told staff.

When asked about potential job cuts, the CEO reiterated Apple’s strong financial position and pointed out that it has been paying retail employees while stores are closed. He also said the company is impacted by the crisis, while noting his focus is on running Apple for the long-term rather than making short-term adjustments.