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Archive for May 2020

The Transition-Throughout Edition Friday, May 29, 2020

Using Apple Watch Faces To Simplify Your Day, by Rosemary Orchard, The Sweet Setup

The Apple Watch is a wonderful device that literally goes almost everywhere with us. It allows us to track our workouts, control our music, keep on top of our task management, remember meetings, and much more. But all of that on a screen that’s at most 44mm? That’s a challenge.

Over the years I’ve developed several different watch faces that I transition to throughout the day. This allows me to have the data I need on the screen and easy access to the apps I would normally jump to shown as complications to speed things up.

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Logitech Combo Touch: Love At First Type, by Josh Centers, TidBITS

Strangely, the Combo Touch isn’t available for the 11-inch or 12.9-inch iPad Pro. A little birdie told me that Apple discouraged Logitech from supporting those models so as to not compete with the Magic Keyboard. After just a few hours with the Combo Touch, I see why Apple might have been worried about the competition, and I think a lot of iPad Pro users will be envious of those of us who can use the Combo Touch.

Training Today For Apple Watch Helps Coach You On Workout Intensity And Rest Days, by Michael Potuck, 9to5Mac

A neat new Apple Watch app has landed in the App Store today to let you know how your body is responding to exercise, help prevent injury from overtraining, and when the optimal time is to train.

Journal Your Life One Sentence At A Time With Punkt, by AppAdvice

Instead of having to worry about recording pages of thoughts, Punkt is all about simplicity.

SpongeBob: Patty Pursuit Is The Ultimate New Apple Arcade Game For Fans, by Shelby Brown, CNET

Apple Arcade's latest game, SpongeBob: Patty Pursuit, brings back all your favorite characters and Easter eggs from the hit Nickelodeon show for another fun adventure. Infamous mini-villain Plankton is after the Krabby Patty secret formula once again, and it's up to SpongeBob and his friends -- Patrick, Sandy, Squidward, Gary the Snail and Mr. Krabs -- to stop him.

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Calls Grow For European Regulators To Investigate Apple, Accused Of Bullying Smaller Rivals, by Reed Albergotti, Washington Post

Tile, the maker of Bluetooth trackers that help find lost keys and other items, is urging European regulators to open an investigation into Apple for alleged anticompetitive behavior.

In a letter sent last week to Margrethe Vestager, Europe’s antitrust chief, Tile said Apple made changes to its operating system that hurt the small California start-up and gave Apple an advantage as it plans to launch a product that is similar to Tile’s.

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Now that we cannot easily use our faces to unlock our phones when outside... er... doing essential stuff, all the more I wish the iPhone has Apple-Watch-like complications on the locked screen.

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Thanks for reading.

The Good-Laptops Edition Thursday, May 28, 2020

Apple's 13-Inch MacBook Pro Is A Good But Pedestrian Laptop, by Julian Chokkattu, Wired

But what I want most from Apple is something different. The new MacBook lineup is Apple's best in years, but they're all a bit ... boring. Boring isn't bad. Stability and reliability often come along with that label. And perhaps, like Goldilocks, I'm being spoiled. This laptops' too dull, that one's too heavy. However, there was a time when MacBooks pushed the envelope and regularly redefined what a laptop could be. Now, they're just good laptops.

The Awesome Mac OS Catalina Fonts You Didn’t Know You Had Access To, by Ralf Herrmann, Typography Guru

Apple has recently licensed fonts from type foundries such as Commercial Type, Klim Type Foundry and Mark Simonson Studio to be used as system fonts on Mac OS Catalina. But since these fonts are an optional download, many users of Mac OS X are not even aware they have access to them for free.

A Fun, Smart, And Creative Digital Learning On The iPad – Osmo Little Genius Starter Kit Review, by Michael Aulia, Craving Tech

Little Genius Starter Kit makes clever use of an iPad to develop many of your child’s early skills like creativity, imagination, and more. [...] Osmo blends both the physical and virtual world together, creating something that is truly unique to experience – even to adults like myself.

Keep Review: The Read-Later App I’ve Been Looking For, by Ryan Christoffel, MacStories

While I’ve always kept Safari’s Reading List and News’ Saved Stories separate, I love that I can now keep a single read-later database.

'If Found' Is An Essential Game About Letting Go Of The Past, by Julie Muncy, Wired

If Found … knows how important it is to see yourself and to be seen plainly, and it shows that sometimes the best way to see an image clearly is to erase it and start from scratch.

YouTube Kids App Makes Its Debut On Apple TV, by Ben Schoon, 9to5Google

YouTube Kids is the child-friendly version of YouTube that adds pretty strong parental controls to help keep kids on specific types of content.

HBO Stops Participating In Apple TV Channels, Users Directed To HBO Max App, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

If you are subscribed to HBO through Apple TV Channels, you can download the HBO Max and access all the content at no additional charge via your Apple ID account. If you are coming to HBO Max afresh, you can use Apple In-App Purchase to subscribe inside of the HBO Max application.

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Apple Buys Machine-Learning Startup To Improve Data Used In Siri, by Mark Gurman, Bloomberg

Inductiv developed technology that uses artificial intelligence to automate the task of identifying and correcting errors in data. Having clean data is important for machine learning, a popular and powerful type of AI that helps software improve with less human intervention.

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Today is... well, one of those days, when I am in four different conversations concurrently over the internet. We have voice calls, we have instant messaging, we have good old emails. (The only thing we don't have is a fax machine.)

Thanks, technology!

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Thanks for reading.

The Freeze-the-Finder Edition Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Apple Releases macOS Catalina 10.15.5 With Battery Health Management Features, Fix For Finder Freezing, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

Battery Health Management analyzes the battery health of a laptop and its charging pattern, and in some cases, it will preserve battery longevity and health by not charging a MacBook to its full capacity. Keeping a MacBook charged at its full capacity at all times can reduce battery health.

[...]

The ‌macOS Catalina‌ 10.15.5 update also addresses an issue that caused large data transfers to RAID volumes to freeze up the Finder app. With the update, large data transfers will no longer cause Finder to become unresponsive.

Apple Will Reopen Over 100 US Retail Stores This Week, Most With Curbside Or Storefront Service Only, by Michael Steeber, 9to5Mac

Apple plans to reopen many more of its US retail stores this week as some regions continue to see a decline in new COVID-19 infections and relax stay-at-home orders. The third wave of US reopenings begins tomorrow, with most locations offering curbside or storefront service only.

[...]

While individual US state guidance varies, you can generally expect to be required to wear a mask and pass a temperature check to enter an Apple Store for the foreseeable future. The ability to browse is limited, with Apple emphasizing online sales and in-store support.

Apple Fixes Bug That Stopped iOS Apps From Opening, by Sarah Perez, TechCrunch

Following this issue, users on Sunday said they were seeing dozens of pending app updates for their iOS devices, some of which even went back to the app’s last update from well over a week ago. Users reported in forums seeing as many as 10, 20, 50 or even 100-plus new updates to install. This indicated a fix was in the works, as these were not brand-new updates — the apps were already up to date. Instead, these reissued updates seem to have been part of the fix for the Family Sharing problem, as afterward the bug was resolved.

Apple confirmed the issue has been now resolved for all affected customers.

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The New 13-Inch MacBook Pro's Keyboard Really Is That Good, by Caitlin McGarry, Gizmodo

The new keyboard is the keyboard we always deserved, and I’m not sure Apple gets any points for finally changing it. But this year’s 13-inch MacBook Pro is damn good. If you’re in the market for a new MacBook and you need the power of the Pro (and you’re comfortable paying top-dollar for an Apple device), then this is the one to buy.

Agenda Note-taking App Adds New Sharing Extensions, Template Feature, More, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Agenda is one of the most popular note-taking apps on iPhone, iPad, and Mac. The app employs a date-focused approach to organizing your notes, projects, and ideas. A new update this week brings a few new features, including share sheet integration, templates, and more.

AirParrot 3 Released With HomePod Integration On Windows, Improved Mirroring Latency, More, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

AirParrot is a popular utility on Mac and Windows that allows you to wireless mirror your screen or stream media files to other devices. Today, AirParrot 3 has been released for Mac and Windows, bringing performance improvements, HomePod integration, and more.

HBO Max Now Available For iPhone, iPad And Apple TV, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

Alongside everything you expect from HBO, Max content includes the full catalog of sitcom Friends, Looney Tunes, Studio Ghibli, Adult Swim shows, and a documentary on sexual assault accusations against Russel Simmons (a film that was previously set for Apple TV+).

Develop

Can Remote Work Be Fixed?, by Cal Newport, New Yorker

There are also social reasons to cheer a more remote future. It might help reverse the geographic stratification of American life. Workers, and their spending, could break out of the unaffordable metropolises and spark mini-revitalizations off the beaten path, from Bozeman to Santa Fe. Remote work could be good for the environment, since less commuting means fewer emissions. (Although the recent movement of Americans out of sprawling suburbs and back into dense cities was, in itself, an environmental good.)

And yet remote work is complex, and is no cure-all. Some of the issues that have plagued it for decades are unlikely to be resolved, no matter how many innovations we introduce: there’s probably no way for workplaces to Zoom themselves to the same levels of closeness and cohesion generated in a shared office; mentorship, decision-making, and leadership may simply be harder from a distance. There is also something dystopian about a future in which white-collar workers luxuriate in isolation while everyone else commutes to the crowded places. For others, meanwhile, isolation is the opposite of luxury. There may be many people who will always prefer to work from work.

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Making An Indie Phone Is Not For The Faint-Hearted, by James Trew, Engadget

Of course, right now (and in the US) the most popular handsets most certainly are made by Apple and Samsung. They’re all smartphones, and they have a lot more in common with each other than really any of Nokia’s phones ever did. Phones got boring, samey and very large. Something that in recent years inspired smaller companies to make more niche phones. But when was the last time you saw someone with something like a Nextbit Robin, a Yotaphone or a Fairphone? Despite these alternative companies struggling to find a place to sell their phones (or an audience to buy them) there’s a rising trend of individuals picking up the baton. What if you or I wanted to make a phone? Is it even possible? Maybe, but not without many, many challenges.

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Yes, I will like a small phone. I mostly use my iPhone for my audio entertainment nowadays. Podcasts, audiobooks, and Apple Music. For videos and e-books, I have my iPad. For work, I have my Mac. I don't need something big in my pocket all day.

And then I remember. I'm in strange times, staying in home all day, where I have all my big screen devices. I seldom go out; and when I do go out to buy lunch, I don't even bother to use my iPhone since FaceID doesn't work.

Okay, maybe I do not like a small phone. Ask me later.

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Thanks for reading.

The Begin-Again Edition Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Sydney’s Flagship Apple Store Reopens May 28 Following Renovations, by Michael Steeber, 9to5Mac

Apple Sydney closed on January 5 for upgrades that are expected to include a Today at Apple Forum with a video wall for creative sessions. While the pandemic has disrupted community events for the foreseeable future, the redesign will be put to good use when live events can begin again. Other changes to the store will include new fixtures and design elements like Avenue shelving and a Boardroom. Similar redesigned stores like Hong Kong’s Causeway Bay added indoor trees.

With This New Aussie App You Don’t Need To Know How To Design A Sweater To Knit One, by Molly Urquhart, Broadsheet

“It takes so long to write a knitting pattern, even the most modern ones are two or three years out of date. It’s hard to find one that feels like it’s current season,” Elizabeth says.

"Technology’s at a point where that can be free and readily available to everyone. So rather than spending countless hours finding a pattern and knit it with confidence, you can have this personalised experience.”

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Spend Stack Adds Apple Card Import, Recurring Cost Tracking, Per-List Currencies, iPad Improvements, And More, by Ryan Christoffel, MacStories

I love the new finance-related options like Apple Card import, recurring costs, and currency settings, but it’s the thoughtful implementation of context menu actions, transient banners, and the high-res view for alternate icons that make the update especially unique for me.

Review: HybridDrive USB-C Portable Dock Mitigates Sometimes Tight Storage On A MacBook Pro, by Mike Wuerthele, AppleInsider

[O]n the outside, the HybridDrive looks like just another brick in the wall. It has a single HDMI 2.0 port capable of 4K resolution at 60Hz, two 10 gigabit USB-A ports, a SD-card reader, and a microSD card reader.

But, that was at first glance. Looking closer, the HybridDrive has internal SSD storage too.

Review: Synology DS-1618+ Network Attached Storage Device Is The Best Kind Of Overkill For Most, by Mike Wuerthele, AppleInsider

In a home with low network storage needs or an office that sees a basic need but isn't sure where to jump in, the Synology DS-1618+ is overkill. But, as you start adding things like media serving and the like, plus the inevitable creep of what you offload onto a NAS once you get started, the unit is a cost-effective way to get a powerful storage solution not just for now, but for the future as well.

Cookbook, Reader, Security Camera: Here Are 10 Creative Uses For An Old iPad Or iPhone, by Kim Komando, USA Today

You may not need every app in its arsenal, but that slick screen and slender design can be handy for a variety of tasks.

You Can Now Add Nostalgic App Icons To Your iPhone, by Anna Iovine, Mashable

Greenberg explained how it worked: "Using progressive web apps, we made a way for you to save the OG icons from the web to your iPhone home screen, and when clicking them, it opens the corresponding app," he said.

Notes

Apple Assisting Authorized Repair Shops With COVID-Related Expenses, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

In an internal memo last week, obtained by MacRumors, Apple has indicated that it will assist its third-party repair partners around the world with COVID-19-related expenses, such as cleaning supplies and personal protective equipment.

Latvia Launching Contact Tracing App Using Apple-Google API, by Mike Peterson, AppleInsider

Latvia's upcoming COVID-19 tracing app will be one of the first to use the Apple-Google contact tracing API, and may also work in tandem with apps produced in other European countries.

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I miss Eudora.

I especially miss Eudora when Mail.app decides to simply stop responding to me.

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Thanks for reading.

The Pending-Updates Edition Monday, May 25, 2020

Apple Reissuing Numerous iOS App Updates, Potentially Related To Recent 'This App Is No Longer Being Shared' Bug, by Eric Slivka, MacRumors

Over the past few hours, a number of MacRumors readers have reported seeing dozens or even hundreds of pending app updates showing in the App Store on their iOS devices, including for many apps that were already recently updated by the users. In many cases, the dates listed on these new app updates extend back as far as ten days.

Apple To Start Reopening Stores In Japan This Week, by Mark Gurman, Bloomberg

Apple Inc. will begin reopening its retail stores in Japan this week, one of its most important markets, after the stores had been shuttered for months due to Covid-19.

Two locations -- the stores in Fukuoka and Nagoya Sakae -- will reopen on May 27, according to the company’s retail website.

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Apple Promotes Apple TV+ For Kids In New Ad, by Hartley Charlton, MacRumors

The ad features the ‌Apple TV‌+ kids shows “Ghost Writer,” “Helpsters,” “Snoopy in Space,” and the short-film “Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth.”

Logic Pro X 10.5: How To Get Started With Apple’s Magical New Live Loops, by Justin Kahn, 9to5Mac

It takes Apple about 40-pages to explain what this feature is really capable of, but that’s way to much information to take in at once when you just want to get started making music. So we thought it would be a good idea to focus on some of the most important elements and concepts of the grid-based creative environment so we can all get down to business and learn the intricacies naturally along the way. Explaining every in and out of Live Loops could easily fill a 500+ page manual, if not more, but understanding the basics and letting the rest come naturally seems to be the best way for most creatives to come to grips with a completely new way of working.

Review: STM Goods' ChargeTree Is A Compact Way To Charge All Your Gear, by Andrew O'Hara, AppleInsider

The new ChargeTree multi-device wireless charging stand from STM Goods lets you power up your iPhone, AirPods, and Apple Watch while only taking up a tiny footprint.

Notes

Apple Has Found Itself Caught Between China And The US, by James Crabtree, Wired

One short-term option could be to move smaller portions of production elsewhere. Its contract suppliers are opening factories in countries such as Indonesia and Vietnam. During 2019, the words “Assembled in India” also began to appear on iPhones.

But these moves have been small in scale, according to Dan Wang, Beijing-based tech analyst at research group Gavekal Dragonomics. So far, only a tiny fraction of Apple’s production is moving from China, largely because of the sheer logistical difficulty of moving facilities to smaller countries that are less well-suited to large-scale IT manufacturing.

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A list of unreliable things:

a) Double-tapping on my Airpods does not always start or pause the audio.
b) Taking out my Airpods does not always pause the audio; sometimes, it continue to play, silently.
c) Opening the smart keyboard cover does not always turn on my iPad.

Oh, I almost never use Siri, and that's why you don't see Siri in my list.

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Thanks for reading.

The A-Bit-Manic Edition Sunday, May 24, 2020

Why My App Is So Very Proud Of Me, by Carol Weston, CNN

"This year's walking and running distance is more than last year's," it beams. "So far this month, you're averaging more steps than last month." My device doesn't know the half of it.

I always enjoyed walk-and-talks with friends, in person or by phone. And whenever someone came in from out of town and wanted to meet for coffee, I suggested a stroll in a park instead. "I'm like a dog," I'd explain. "Pick me up and take me out."

But while I used to take two or three walks a week, now I take two or three a day. It's a bit manic.

Apple Arcade Was My Joyous, Surprising Savior From Self-isolation Bedroom Boredom, by Gerald Lynch, TechRadar

But where Apple Arcade came into its own for me was in two key aspects: its games are all touch-friendly, so didn’t require me to dig out a gamepad in order to play (though they are widely supported), and that the sheer variety of games on offer meant there was always another interesting distraction to turn to if a particular title didn’t suit my tastes.

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Now's The Perfect Time To Start Using A Password Manager, by Alan Henry, Wired

As with most things, the hardest part of getting started with a password manager is getting started. Since we’re all sitting in front of our computers and on our mobile phones more now than ever, why not build a little security into your regular routine? After all, once it’s done, it’s done, and you won’t have to worry about it—or losing access to a dozen accounts just because one got hacked—ever again.

Wunderlist Is Dead. These 5 To-do List Apps Make Great Alternatives, by Alison DeNisco Rayome, CNET

Here are four task-management app alternatives that allow you to directly import your Wunderlist lists, or start new lists

Create Custom Netflix Watch Lists For Categories & Genres, Then Say Goodbye To Your Overcrowded 'My List', by Nelson Aguilar, Gadget Hacks

Netflix Lists, by developer Ajhad, is a shortcut that allows you to create multiple Netflix lists on your iPhone. Instead of a hodgepodge of documentaries, reality series, Hollywood blockbusters, and addictive TV shows, you can separate your favorite films and series into dedicated lists.

Notes

How Tim Cook's Augmented Reality Vision Paid Off For Apple, by Daniel Eran Dilger, AppleInsider

Computational photography is undoubtedly driving high-end smartphone sales; the ability to take flattering selfies and portraits is extremely popular among buyers. Apple's most notable camera feature of 2017 was Portrait Lighting, along with iPhone X's new TrueDepth effects that enabled photorealistic effects in third party apps such as Snapchat.

Both of these are actually examples of AR, developed using Apple's ARKit development tools.

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I love the quarantine episode of Mythic Quest very much, which has just landed on Apple TV+. It may help to understand the characters better to have watched the entire first season beforehand, but this is still very-much an enjoyable standalone episode. Highly recommended.

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Thanks for reading.

The Looks-Good Edition Saturday, May 23, 2020

The Apple-Google Contact Tracing System Won’t Work. It Still Deserves Praise., by Jennifer Daskal and Matt Perault, Slate

The Apple and Google initiative responds to a widespread push to use digital contact tracing to support the fight against the virus. But what looks good on a whiteboard in a product planning meeting may look very different once it’s being used by hundreds of millions of people. With respect to digital contract tracing, success depends on at least four factors—four factors that suggest the Apple and Google system is not likely to be particularly effective in meeting the stated public health goals.

Amazon Wants To Build Your Favorite Podcast, by Lucas Shaw, Bloomberg

In recent months, Audible, the audiobook service owned by Amazon.com Inc., has been meeting with talent agencies and producers to discuss acquiring potential new podcast projects—or, in the terminology that Audible prefers, “Audible Originals.” Audible is offering anywhere from a few hundred thousand dollars to a few million dollars per show, according to people familiar with the matter, more than every competitor except Spotify Technology SA.

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iOS Bug Preventing Some Apps From Opening With 'This App Is No Longer Shared' Message, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

People impacted by the issue have been able to fix their apps by deleting the app that’s not working and reinstalling it. Offloading the app rather than deleting it may also work to fix the problem.

Develop

Is This The End Of Productivity?, by Sam Blum, Vox

Amid the pandemic, that creeping sense of meaninglessness has some workers arriving at the same conclusion as Connolly: Isolation, she says, has been an experience of “waking up and realizing that you’ve spent so much of your time working. Is that really what you want to do with your life?”

Notes

How iPhone Hackers Got Their Hands On The New iOS Months Before Its Release, by Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai, Motherboard

That’s almost eight months before the expected official release of iOS 14, given that Apple usually publishes the new iOS in September along with the announcement of new phones. Sometimes, screenshots and descriptions of new features leak before the official reveal. This time, however, an entire version of the operating system has leaked and is being widely circulated among hackers and security researchers.

Motherboard has not been able to independently verify exactly how it leaked, but five sources in the jailbreaking community familiar with the leak told us they think that someone obtained a development iPhone 11 running a version of iOS 14 dated December 2019, which was made to be used only by Apple developers. According to those sources, someone purchased it from vendors in China for thousands of dollars, and then extracted the iOS 14 internal build and distributed it in the iPhone jailbreaking and hacking community.

Apple, Other Tech Companies Condemn Warrantless Browser Searches, by Mike Peterson, AppleInsider

A coalition of tech companies, including a group that represents Apple, is calling on Congress to protect user browser history from warrantless searches.

The Start-to-Finish Edition Friday, May 22, 2020

Apple Ramps Up Original Podcasts, In Part To Help Promote TV+, by Lucas Shaw, Bloomberg

The technology giant has begun acquiring two types of original podcasts, according to people familiar with the matter: one category is audio spinoffs of existing movies and programs on its Apple TV+ service, and the other is original programs that could eventually be adapted into future TV+ video content.

The company is seeking a leader for its original podcast work who would report to Ben Cave, its head of podcasting, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the effort isn’t yet public.

The Podcasting World Is Now Spotify Versus Everybody Else, by Ashley Carman, The Verge

All of these moves allow Spotify to control the entire podcasting process from start to finish. Podcasters can make shows with Spotify tools and publish easily to Spotify’s platform. Spotify could eventually sell ads for those shows, and listeners who might already give the company money in the form of a subscription also offer up their data, which informs Spotify’s ad-targeting and purchase decisions.

It’s also setting itself up to become a podcast tastemaker with curators around the world organizing recommendation playlists; this could help it promote its own shows to its millions of users. For the vast majority of shows that aren’t as big as Rogan’s, Spotify offers a dashboard to view their analytics and learn more about their audience’s demographics, which helps them sell their own ads. Creators might be incentivized to encourage their listeners to consume on Spotify because they’ll learn more about their audience.

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"Designed For Accessibility" Feature On App Store Today Shows Off Apple's Push For Equality, by Christine McKee, AppleInsider

Apple's efforts to commemorating Global Accessibility Awareness Day start with a banner promoting that Apple products "Works the way you do" on the main website, and range into various editorials in the App Store Today page. Apple likes to make their own operating system features known on a regular basis, but on Thursday, the company has gone a step further and is discussing what developers do for accessibility too.

Apple's Schoolwork 2.0 App Is Coming Soon, With Distance-learning Focus, by Christine McKee, AppleInsider

Apple's Schoolwork 2.0 update will allow for better management of assignments and handouts, and is geared toward making distance learning more manageable for both teachers and students.

Finance App 'Copilot' Adds Support For Importing Apple Card Statements, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

Copilot is able to analyze ‌Apple Card‌ statements, parsing transaction data, identifying recurring subscriptions, and removing duplicate transactions. The new feature lets ‌Apple Card‌ users take advantage of Copilot’s budgeting, subscription tracking, and transaction monitoring tools without the need to manually copy data into the app.

Why You Shouldn’t Make A Habit Of Force-Quitting iOS Apps Or Restarting iOS Devices, by Adam Engst, TidBITS

But when you force-quit an app and open it again later, you’re preventing iOS from using its tricks to reduce CPU and memory usage—every launch is a fresh launch and consumes more battery power. For instance, once she learned in a TidBITS Talk discussion that force-quitting apps was a bad idea, reader Kimberly Andrew found that her iPad lasted 4 days on a single charge instead of requiring nightly recharging. Your experience may not be so dramatic, but if you let iOS manage your device’s resources, you’ll get the best possible battery life for your usage patterns.

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Irish Regulator Questions Apple Over Recordings, by Graham Fahy, Reuters

Ireland’s Data Protection Commissioner (DPC), Apple’s main regulator in the European Union, on Thursday said it was in contact with the company after a whistleblower called for action over a programme that listens to users’ recordings.

North Dakota’s COVID-19 App Has Been Sending Data To Foursquare And Google, by Steven Melendez, Fast Company

The official COVID-19 contact-tracing app for the state of North Dakota, designed to detect whether people have potentially been exposed to the coronavirus, sends location data and a unique user identifier to Foursquare—and other data to Google and a bug-tracking company—according to a new report from smartphone privacy company Jumbo Privacy.

You’re Saying It Wrong: How To Say Oft-mispronounced Tech Terms, by Samuel Axon, Ars Technica

Is iOS "eye-oh-ess" or "eye-oss"? Is Linux "Lie-nux" or "Lih-nux?" How about sudo: is it really "sue-doo" for "superuser, do!" or has the more popular "sue-doh" population won out? In this article, you'll find the answers to each of those and several more—along with some perspectives on terms that aren't so clear-cut.

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I have never heard of anyone pronouncing it as "eye-oss".

But then, why am I bothering to read an article on prononouciation of tech terms when there's nary a mention of that one particular graphics format?

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Thanks for reading.

The Specifically-Designed Edition Thursday, May 21, 2020

Apple Releases iOS 13.5 With COVID-19 Exposure Notifications, Face ID Bypass For Masks, FaceTime Setting, And Apple Music Stories Sharing, by Ryan Christoffel, MacStories

Today Apple released what is essentially a COVID-19 update for iPhones. iOS 13.5 includes several features specifically designed for our current global pandemic, including exposure notifications, mask detection for bypassing Face ID, and a new prominence setting for FaceTime, along with a nice new Apple Music sharing feature optimized for Instagram Stories.

Apple And Google’s Covid Tracing Tech Has Been Released To 22 Countries, by Patrick Howell O'Neill, MIT Technology Review

Apple and Google said that 22 national governments on five continents, as well as several American states, are being granted access to the API today. There are billions of people in the participating countries, but some of the notable omissions include France, which has locked horns with the tech companies over how their API works, and the United Kingdom, which is still figuring out if it will use the Apple-Google system in its own efforts.

Apple And Google Should Have Created Contact Tracing Apps, by Ben Lovejoy, 9to5Mac

In short, it’s a mess. The world has never had a more urgent need for an app to be developed swiftly and securely, and governments have almost universally demonstrated themselves not up to the task.

It Will Be Different

The End Of Podcasting’s Innocence, by M.G. Siegler, 500ish Words

There have long been fears that music would play out in a similar fashion, with platform exclusives. And while Apple and others dabbled in exclusive windows, the labels were able to keep the status quo in tact. That’s not happening with podcasts because there are no labels. The closest thing to an old guard was Apple, and they just got lapped by Spotify while staring off into space. That great big open environment.

You may not like it, I may not like it, but by the end of the year, the podcast landscape is set to look a lot different. An arms race is afoot. Offer up your best defense. This is the end of podcasting’s innocence.

The Future Of Movie Theaters Might Look A Lot Like An Apple Store, by Eric Ravenscraft, Medium

Theater acquisitions are a prestige play for tech companies that, for all their money and power, are still working to gain standing alongside studio juggernauts like Disney and Warner Bros in the eyes of critics and the film industry they’re attempting to court. In some sense, the two industries are coming for each others’ most valuable assets: Disney owns blockbuster films in theaters, and now it’s aiming to catch up to Netflix’s streaming subscribers with Disney+. Meanwhile, Netflix dominates in streaming, but the company — alongside Amazon and even Apple — is striving to gain legitimacy in theaters.

HEIC-up

Students Are Failing AP Tests Because The College Board Can’t Handle iPhone Photos, by Monica Chin, The Verge

AP exams require longform answers. Students can either type their response or upload a photo of handwritten work. Students who choose the latter option can do so as a JPG, JPEG, or PNG format according to the College Board’s coronavirus FAQ.

But the testing portal doesn’t support the default format on iOS devices and some newer Android phones, HEIC files.

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Today At Apple Turns 3 With New At Home Session Created In American Sign Language, by Michael Steeber, 9to5Mac

Global Accessibility Awareness Day is May 21, and Apple has created a timely new Today at Apple at Home session filmed entirely in American Sign Language. The new creative session coincides with the third anniversary of Today at Apple’s rollout to every Apple Store around the world.

Jamf Protect Adds New macOS Malware Prevention Capabilities To Its Endpoint Security Solution, by Bradley Chambers, 9to5Mac

Now, IT departments using the solution can prevent the execution of known macOS malware and quarantine the applications to keep their fleet safe from infection. Additionally, the new functionality in Jamf Protect gives IT teams central visibility of known malware infection attempts across their organization.

Notes

We Need More Expressive **Face-mask Emojis**, by Pat Dryburgh

I think we need more expressive face-mask Emojis. I think a suite of Emojis expressing alternate emotions through a face mask would allow us a small opportunity to show solidarity with one another as we brave this new world.

Apple Checks In With 192-room Hotel For Billion-dollar Northwest Austin Campus, by Katie Friel, CultureMap Austin

“Apple is a trendsetter in so many ways. Its proposed hotel as part of its new Austin campus is another example of it being ahead of the curve,” John Boyd Jr., principal of Princeton, New Jersey-based corporate location consulting firm The Boyd Co. Inc., tells CultureMap.

Boyd adds that “having a hotel connected at the hip with its corporate parent is not common now, but in the post-COVID-19 corporate travel world, I expect we will be seeing more of this concept, especially from deep-pocketed tech firms like Apple, Google, Facebook, and Microsoft.”

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I am still reading blogs while Facebook and Twitter dominate the landscape. I guess there will still be podcasts to listen via your favorite podcast apps even if Spotify (and who else?) dominates.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Long-Term-Pairing Edition Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Smartphones, Laptops, IoT Devices Vulnerable To New BIAS Bluetooth Attack, by Catalin Cimpanu, ZDNet

The flaw can allow an attacker to spoof the identity o a previously paired/bonded device and successfully authenticate and connect to another device without knowing the long-term pairing key that was previously established between the two.

Once a BIAS attack is successful, the attacker can then access or take control of another Bluetooth Classic device.

Timing In SSH, by Dr Drang, And Now It's All This

Apparently, in its neverending quest to save battery, Apple is powering down the wifi system between packets, which means a delay when new packets arrive or need to be sent. This doesn’t materially affect file transfers or streaming because the packets keep coming, but it plays havoc with intermittent communication like a terminal session.

[...]

A better question might be why Apple is trying to save battery life on a Mac that doesn’t run on battery.

Tom Hanks WWII Film ‘Greyhound’ Alters Course In Apple Deal: Film Will Premiere On Apple TV +, by Mike Fleming Jr, Deadline

In a real shocker, the WWII naval drama Greyhound that Tom Hanks wrote and stars in has abruptly changed course and will berth at Apple. Originally on the Sony Pictures theatrical calendar for Father’s Day weekend, the film instead will become the biggest feature film commitment made by Apple to premiere on Apple TV+. It is the latest in a growing indication that Apple is making its move, and becoming as aggressive as any streamer or studio in auctions for the acquisition of films and TV projects.

Apple News+ Audio Articles, by Benjamin Mayo

My understanding is the situation is slightly more nuanced. Whilst most of the magazines have seen almost no growth in readership compared to the status quo before Apple acquired Texture, the newspapers are pretty happy. Not ecstatic or blown away, but generally pleased with the revenue News+ is making for them.

[...]

One of the fears Digiday raises about the audio push is that this effect will only be increased. The smaller outlets are concerned that Apple will mostly commission audio stories from the ‘big guys’ and their content will be marginalised further.

Easily On My iPad

Three Ways The iPad Beats The Mac, by Jason Snell, Macworld

Committing to the iPad to get work done has always involved some compromise. There are moments when I’m working away on my iPad and I realize that there’s something I need to do that would be done far more easily on my Mac. Those moments are a lot less frequent they were even a couple of years ago, but they do exist.

What’s funny is that in the last year or so, I’ve noticed an increasing number of incidents when I find myself sitting at my desk, staring at my iMac, realizing that the task I need to perform would be done far more easily on my iPad.

A Roundup Of Apps With Great iPad Trackpad Support, by Josh Ginter, The Sweet Setup

Here’s a roundup of our favorite implementations of trackpad and cursor support so far, along with a few we’re hoping see an update sooner rather than later.

Stuff

Apple Subsidiary Claris Debuts FileMaker 19 With Third-party Libraries And More, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Claris, the Apple subsidiary formerly known as FileMaker, has today announced the next-generation of its low-code FileMaker platform. FileMaker 19 will enable developers to build custom applications while integrating with third-party libraries for the first time.

[...]

Other new features of FileMaker 19 include the ability to create applications directly in FileMaker Cloud as well as to host FileMaker Server on Linux in addition to Mac and Windows.

Next Apple Watch Activity Challenge Set For World Environment Day Next Month, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Apple has scheduled its next Apple Watch Activity Challenge for June 5 in celebration of World Environment Day. This challenge encourages Apple Watch owners to fill their Stand ring by standing and moving around for at least one minute during 12 hours that day.

Adobe Brings Curves To Photoshop On iPad, ProRes RAW Support In Premiere Pro And After Effects, More, by Michael Steeber, 9to5Mac

Adobe updated several of its Creative Cloud apps on iPadOS and macOS today, bringing highly requested features to iPad users and powerful tools for pros on the desktop. The new releases of Adobe Fresco, Photoshop on iPad, and all Creative Cloud video and audio apps are rolling out today.

Drafts 20 Introduces Advanced Wiki-Style Linking, by Ryan Christoffel, MacStories

Drafts 20, the latest update to the powerful text editor and capture tool, introduces an excellent feature for creating in-line links to other drafts, workspaces, or even searches.

[...]

Linking to other drafts is certainly the primary appeal of the new bracketing syntax, but developer Greg Pierce has included a handful of advanced options too that make the feature even more valuable.

Nifty File Lists Review: Easily Turn Files And Folders Into Metadata Spreadsheets, by J.R. Bookwalter, Macworld

If you’ve ever wanted to make an Excel-compatible spreadsheet from files on your hard drive, that’s exactly what Nifty File Lists does. Add files or folders, choose your desired columns from an extensive range of options, and this utility outputs a list as common CSV or TSV files which can be opened by number-crunching apps like Microsoft Excel and Apple Numbers, or popular database software FileMaker Pro.

MusicSmart Puts The Spotlight On Music Credits, by Federico Viticci, MacStories

Where MusicSmart absolutely shines – and where, I believe, it shows modern music services how credits and additional details can become part of the experience – is the extension, which you can use inside Apple’s Music app for any track from Apple Music. As long as a song being shared via the share sheet comes from the Apple Music catalog, you can share any song from anywhere in Apple Music to MusicSmart’s extension, wait a couple seconds, and the app will pop up a screen with details for the selected album, tracks contained in it, and selected artist.

Here’s the amazing part – the “aha” moment that brought back the same feelings I had as a kid when reading through liner notes: in the Tracks section, you can tap any of the listed songs to view detailed credits for the selected song.

Develop

Stanford To Make Its 'Developing Apps For iOS' Course Available Online, by Stephen Warwick, iMore

Stanford University has announced that it will make its 'Developing Applications for iOS' course available online via YouTube.

Notes

iPhone Spyware Lets Police Log Suspects’ Passcodes When Cracking Doesn’t Work, by Olivia Solon, NBC News

In order for this feature to work, law enforcement officials must install the covert software and then set up a scenario to put a seized device back into the hands of the suspect, said the people familiar with the system, who did not wish to be identified for fear of violating their NDA with Grayshift and having access to the device revoked.

For example, a law enforcement official could tell the suspect they can call their lawyer or take some phone numbers off the device. Once the suspect has done this, even if they lock their phone again, Hide UI will have stored the passcode in a text file that can be extracted the next time the phone is plugged into the GrayKey device. Law enforcement can then use the passcode to unlock the phone and extract all the data stored on it.

Apple Whistleblower Goes Public Over 'Lack Of Action', by Alex Hern, The Guardian

Following the revelations of Le Bonniec and his colleagues, Apple promised sweeping changes to its “grading” program, which involved thousands of contractors listening to recordings made, both accidentally and deliberately, using Siri. The company apologised, brought the work in-house, and promised that it would only grade recordings from users who had explicitly opted-in to the practice.

[...]

But, Le Bonniec argues, the company never really faced the consequences for its years-long programme in the first place.

When SimCity Got Serious: The Story Of Maxis Business Simulations And SimRefinery, by Phil Salvador, The Obscuritory

Maxis didn’t want to make professional simulation games. But for two brief, strange years, they did.

From 1992 to 1994, a division called Maxis Business Simulations was responsible for making serious professional simulations that looked and played like Maxis games. After Maxis cut the division loose, the company continued to operate independently, taking the simulation game genre in their own direction. Their games found their way into in corporate training rooms and even went as far as the White House

Almost nothing they developed was ever released to the public. But their software raises questions about the role we want games to play in society.

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I've just noticed that, the way I've placed my monitor, the directions of the sunrise and sunset in the default Catalina dynamic wallpaper corrspond quite nicely to the actual directions of sunrise and sunet.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Rainbow-Holes Edition Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Apple Releases New Pride Edition Watch Bands Ahead Of Pride Month, New Watch Faces Coming Soon, by Ryan Christoffel, MacStories

The Pride Edition Sport Band features the traditional rainbow pattern similar to last year’s offering, though that previous band was a Sport Loop, rather than the first-time Sport Band option available this year. The Nike Pride Edition Sport Band follows the unique design style of Nike’s other bands, but with its rainbow colors adorning the white band’s holes.

Apple Releases watchOS 6.2.5 With New Pride Watch Faces, by Mike Peterson, AppleInsider

The new pride celebration watch faces have been released, to coincide with the release of physical bands in the Apple Store. The new watch faces can be configured with either a striped rainbow of colors as seen in previous versions, or a new rainbow color option on popular watch faces.

Looking For The New Rainbow Color On Your Apple Watch? watchOS 6.2.5 May Have Lost It, by Filipe Espósito, 9to5Mac

Today, watchOS 6.2.5 became available to the public, but without the new faces. According to several reports on Twitter, the new Pride watch faces are not showing up on Apple Watch even with the latest version of the operating system installed.

Security Matters

The FBI Backs Down Against Apple, by Brian Barrett, Wired

Despite the FBI’s repeated success in breaking into supposedly uncrackable iPhones, Barr insisted that Apple could design a backdoor that didn’t threaten to compromise iOS devices more broadly.

[...]

Barr also signaled, though, that the Justice Department may no longer consider the courts as the best avenue to achieve that end. “The developments in this case demonstrate the need for a legislative solution,” he said, at another point suggesting that undermining encryption is a choice that Americans must make “through their representatives.”

Even so, all the FBI has proven today is that the choice remains moot. Weakening iOS encryption would threaten over a billion devices unilaterally. Why force that, when so many of them have vulnerabilities that sophisticated forensics labs can already exploit?

Apple Calls FBI Comments On Lack Of Help Unlocking Florida Shooter's iPhone An 'Excuse To Weaken Encryption', by Juli Clover, MacRumors

As it has done in multiple prior disputes with U.S. law enforcement officials, Apple reiterated that there is no such thing as a backdoor designed only for the good guys. Weakening encryption in Apple devices would leave them vulnerable to attack from malicious entities, which could compromise not only customer data, but also national security.

Department Of Justice Reopens Spat With Apple Over iPhone Encryption, by John Gruber, Daring Fireball

Apple cooperated in every way they technically could. The DOJ is not asking for Apple’s cooperation unlocking existing iPhones — they’re asking Apple to make future iPhones insecure.

Coming Soon?

Apple Buys Older Shows For TV+, Stepping Up Netflix Challenge, by Lucas Shaw, Bloomberg

Apple Inc. is acquiring older movies and shows for its TV+ streaming service, aiming to build a back catalog of content that can better stack up against the huge libraries available on Netflix, Hulu and Disney+.

The company’s video-programming executives have taken pitches from Hollywood studios about licensing older content for TV+ and have bought some shows and movies, according to people familiar with the matter.

Stuff

Logitech’s New Circle View Camera Comes With Built-in Privacy Controls, by Jacob Kastrenakes, The Verge

Logitech has added a pair of nice privacy features to the camera, too. The first is simple: the camera can be tilted downward to face its base so that you can easily block it from seeing anything. The second addition is a hardware button on the back that lets you shut off the camera and microphone so nothing is being monitored.

HoudahGeo 6 Review: Mac Geotagging App Now Plays Nice With Apple Photos, by J.R. Bookwalter, Macworld

After importing the geotagged DSLR files into Apple Photos, everything fell right into place in sequential order alongside other images taken during the same hike with an iPhone 11 Pro Max and iPhone 7 Plus. The whole process was quick and easy, but by this point the lack of a companion iOS app for capturing track logs (or even a full mobile edition of HoudahGeo) really feels like a lost opportunity.

Eggtronic’s Power Bar Charges All Your Apple Devices, by Julio Ojeda-Zapata, TidBITS

The Power Bar redeems itself with its capability to charge a variety of other Apple gadgets using both wired and wireless connections, making it a versatile companion for both home and travel usage, with partial laptop charging as a bonus, if you need it in a pinch.

Develop

Why NetNewsWire Is Fast, by Brent Simmons, Inessential

The best general advice I can give is just this: make sure performance is part of the foundation of your app. Make sure it‘s part of every decision every day.

Make sure, in other words, that performance isn’t just a topping — it’s the pizza.

Notes

The New Startup: No Code, No Problem, by Clive Thompson, Wired

Normally, an entrepreneur in that situation would need to spend money, and maybe even raise it, to hire developers. But Bell did something different: She bolted together software from various online services.

Bell used a point-and-click tool called Webflow to build her site and a client-management tool to let customers order services. Airtable, an online spreadsheet, let her store details about each job. And she glued many of these pieces together by cleverly using Zapier, a service that uses if-then logic to let one online app trigger another. (Whenever Bell creates a new task for one of her contractors, for example, Zapier automatically generates a Google doc for it, then pings her on Slack when the work is done.) Nineteen months later, her company—Scribly.io—had around 23 clients and was doing $25,000 a month in recurring business.

We Are All Livestreamers Now, And Zoom Is Our Stage, by Paul Ford, Wired

I love a real-life meeting. There, I said it. They're theater, and I'm a ham. You plan and prepare, you make a deck, you try to surprise. Meetings, well run, are alchemy; you can turn words and pictures into large checks or people agreeing to work for you, or convince a big company to do something it hates to do. An hour? Two hours? Stop crying. Lock me in a room for three days with a team of five strangers and a stack of sticky notes as high as your eye. Right now I'm 5,000 words into organizing a six-week seminar on knowledge management. I believe firmly in the principle of exhaustion: Once you see them start to collapse, that's your time to glow. Leave the room, splash some water on your face, and get back in there and win. You don't see meetings in terms of who won and lost? Why are you even going to meetings?

But now I'm trapped. I feel two-dimensional. I desperately need to break out of this simulation. After days of muting and unmuting, I go out searching for some software or pattern that will feel less fake—something to do, something to show. What I learn is that, of course, some people have solved this already.

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Old movies and television shows in Apple TV+? Why not just go the whole nine yards and buy Sony?

~

Thanks for reading.

The Optimality-Philosophy Edition Monday, May 18, 2020

Apple Begins Reopening Some Stores With Temperature Checks And Other Safeguards In Place, by Brian Heater, TechCrunch

[F]ace covers will be required for both employees and customers alike — already a legal requirement in many locales. More unusual for many retail establishments is the addition of temperature checks now conducted at the store’s entrance, coupled with posted health questions. Apple has also instituted deeper cleaning on all surfaces, including display products.

Pointer Control, by Matt Gemmell

There are two main ways to design something: make it optimal, or make it familiar. You can almost always incorporate elements of both, but you get to (and should) choose which one is your guiding philosophy. For Apple, it’s optimality. The iPad was created according to a philosophy, and whatever expansions of functionality it has undergone since then, they’ve been in the service of broadening its utility — but always within the context of its designed identity.

What I like about pointer control on the iPad isn’t that it’s now available, but rather that I only have to use it when I want to.

Stuff

Edison Mail Rolls Back Update After iOS Users Reported They Could See Strangers’ Emails, by Kim Lyons, The Verge

Edison Mail has rolled back a software update that apparently let some users of its iOS app see emails from strangers’ accounts.

[...]

The company said it was a bug, not a security breach, and that the issue appeared limited to users of the iOS app.

HBO Now App Removed From 2nd And 3rd-gen Apple TV As HBO Ends Support, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

As announced earlier, the HBO Now app has been removed from the home screens of older Apple TVs (2nd- and 3rd-gen models) this weekend as HBO has ended support for the devices. The company will also be removing the HBO Go app soon.

Develop

How To Sleep When The World Is Falling Apart, by Brian Barrett, Wired

It is extremely understandable if you have cut yourself some slack during these sheltered-in-place times. Maybe your diet has gone a little snack-heavy. Maybe you shifted your work hours to make way for childcare or self-care. Maybe you stopped flossing. Only natural. But sleep is something worth preserving—even though that’s harder than it may sound.

Dump On Your Office All You Like. You’ll Miss It When It’s Gone., by Jennifer Senior, New York Times

Offices are often the very place where professional identities are forged — an especially valuable thing in an age of declining religious engagement and deferred marriage and childbearing. Yes, perhaps that’s slightly ominous, just another depressing sign that work has replaced religion as a source of meaning, as Derek Thompson argued so beautifully in The Atlantic last year.

Unfortunately, technology has already collapsed the boundary between work and home. The office, at least, was a solid membrane between the two. And it may possibly be the last.

Notes

It’s Time To Get Back To RSS, by Daniel Miessler

By curating the feeds in your reader, you were curating your view of the world. And that was made up of hundreds or thousands of individual voices.

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Here's wishing you have a good night sleep. And may you find joys and meanings when you wake up every morning.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Commitment-to-Improvements Edition Sunday, May 17, 2020

Apple Watch: It's Been 5 Years Since My Original Review, And It Holds Up, by Scott Stein, CNET

In a field of fewer alternatives, the Apple Watch's consistent addition of new features and ongoing performance improvements has made it the best option. It's Apple's commitment to gradual improvements that has made it a stand-out watch now, especially compared to the struggles of Google's Wear OS.

The Apple Watch is still an iPhone accessory. And it's still not an essential product. But it's become a really fluid and useful device, one with lots of key upgrades that work, and one that's a lot easier to use.

Ubisoft Sues Apple, Google Over Alibaba’s Rainbow Six “Ripoff”, by Edvard Pettersson, Bloomberg

Ubisoft Entertainment SA sued Apple Inc. and Google LLC, accusing the companies of selling a ripoff of its popular video game “Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege.”

“Area F2,” created by Alibaba Group Holdings Ltd.’s Ejoy.com, is a “near carbon copy” of Rainbow Six: Siege, and that can’t be “seriously be disputed,” Ubisoft said in a complaint filed Friday in federal court in Los Angeles.

Stuff

Twobird Email App Features Collaboration, Notes And Reminders With A Clean UI, by Imran Hussain, Wccftech

Twobird is a new email app that combines live collaboration, notes, reminders, and mentions with a minimalistic user interface that removes all clutter. The app also hides signatures and other messy formatting from emails, to make them easy to read.

Aukey USB-C Hub Packs A Whopping 12 Ports, by Ed Hardy, Cult of Mac

Despite offering 12 ports, this hub takes up minimal space on my desk. And that makes it reasonably portable.

Edison Mail Vulnerability Allowing Unauthorized Access To Email Accounts Of Other Users, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Edison Mail is one of the more popular third-party email applications for iPhone, iPad, and Mac, but an apparent bug in the service is raising major privacy concerns. Edison Mail users report that after enabling a new account syncing feature in the app, they have full access to email accounts of other Edison Mail users.

Develop

The Stresses Of The Way We Work Now, by Emilie Le Beau Lucchesi, New York Times

Dr. Blustein also advises his clients to focus on other areas of their lives that can bolster a sense of identity and purpose, such as relationships, care giving, leisure activities and volunteering. Building an identity in other domains can help give people a sense of who in they are in the world separate from who they are in the work world.

“We need to find other sources of meaning for our lives,” Dr. Blustein said.

Notes

The Bay Area Billionaires Are Breaking My Heart, by Farhad Manjoo, New York Times

But I wouldn’t be surprised if we — the people of the Bay Area, our lawmakers, our billionaires and our ordinary, overburdened citizens — end up squandering this moment. Rebuilding a fairer, more livable urban environment will take years of difficult work. It will require sacrifices from the wealthy. It will require a renewed federal interest in addressing the problems of cities. It will require abandoning pie-in-the-sky techno-optimism.

This isn’t a problem that will be solved by flying cars; it will be solved by better zoning laws, fairer taxes and, when we can make it safe again, more public transportation. We will have to commit ourselves to these and other boring but permanent civic solutions.

The Purposeful-and-Prescient Edition Saturday, May 16, 2020

The Next Decade Of Apple Design Has Nothing To Do With The iPhone, by Sophie Charara, Wired

Jeff Williams, Apple’s supremely capable executive-level fixer, now oversees the design teams in his role as chief operating officer: but it is Evans Hankey, Apple’s first female VP of industrial design, and Alan Dye, VP of human interface design, who have been tasked with maintaining – and evolving – the precise and polished Ive aesthetic.

[...]

Apple needs purposeful, prescient design during the 2020s, perhaps more than ever. With the iPhone more or less an ideal Form, and both the AirPods and the Apple Watch already hugely influential on the rest of the tech industry, it's products like AR glasses and cars, as well as Apple's services which will define the next decade of design at Cupertino.

Apple Promotes 'Everyone Can Create' Campaign With Series Of Inspiring Videos, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

The first video interviews students on what creativity means to them, while the other videos highlight students using Apple’s free Swift Playgrounds app to learn how to code in classrooms around the world.

Stuff

Apple Logic Pro X 10.5 Review, by Ronan Macdonald, Music Radar

Logic Pro X 10.5 is indeed the DAW’s most profound update under Apple’s ownership yet. Live Loops opens up a radical new (for Logic, at least) creative avenue for electronic producers, Step Sequencer is flexible and powerful, Drum Synth sounds wicked, Drum Machine Designer is slicker and more useful than before, and Sampler a last pulls EXS24 kicking and screaming into the 21stt Century.

Apple Arcade's New Winding Worlds Game Seeks To Ease Pandemic Stress For All Ages, by Shelby Brown, CNET

In the colorful puzzle game, you play as Willow, a bunny-like creature who's hired by a cosmic snake to clean up his passage into the afterlife. Along the way, Willow helps lost souls find peace and move on from their lonely planets.

7 Ways To Use Your Apple Products Creatively To Conquer Work And Play, by Billy Tran, The Smart Local

With these creative ways to use Apple products from converting them into measuring devices to measuring your sleep cycle, your bastion of Apple goods will be put to even greater use.

4 Giphy Alternatives And How To Delete Giphy iMessage App, by Michael Potuck, 9to5Mac

Apple includes its own GIF search app in iMessage for iPhone and iPad and notably, thanks to some digging from my colleague Filipe Espósito, he found it’s powered by Bing. Technically, Bing could be sourcing some GIFs through Giphy still via Apple’s native iMessage search, but it’s not directly powered by Giphy.

More great options for a diverse selection of GIFs is Tenor as well as Reddit. And below we’ll also look at how to delete the Giphy iMessage app from iPhone and iPad.

Develop

What To Expect On Your First Day Back In A Touch-free, Socially Distant Office, by Mark Sullivan, Fast Company

Millions of Americans are now starting to think about going back to work, but it won’t be the same experience as before. Not only will work spaces look different, but many building managers and companies will have put in place technologies to detect sick people, enforce social distancing, and reduce the need to touch surfaces.

Much of this technology has been around long before COVID-19, but its adoption will accelerate as health and safety become primary business concerns. Unfortunately, privacy violations might come with it, too. Here’s a breakdown of the technology that employers may roll out to keep you healthy when you return to your office.

Notes

7 Legitimately Fun Things To Do With Friends On Zoom, by Emma Specter, Vogue

Luckily, with a little creativity and planning, a generic Zoom catchup can quickly morph into a genuinely good time. Is anything on this list as fun as getting together with your friends at the mediocre bar of your choice for some gossip and a snack? Well, with these lively options, we can certainly try.

Bottom of the Page

My wishlist for Apple's design: Make it easy to fix things. No, I am not talking about hardware. I do want smaller and lighter devices, and I am willing to make the tradeoff.

But when I can see that my files on my Mac are going out of sync with files on my iCloud, I want to be able to fix that myself easily. And when my iPhone starts auto-correcting a word that should not need to be auto-corrected, I want to be able to fix that myself easily.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Protect-Workers Edition Friday, May 15, 2020

Apple’s Supply Chain Is Making Safety Changes To Protect Workers In Response To The Pandemic, by Jay Peters, The Verge

Apple’s global supply chain is making safety changes to better protect workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, as outlined in the company’s 2020 Supplier Responsibility report. Sabih Khan, Apple’s senior vice president of operations and the person in charge of the company’s global supply chain, detailed the changes the company’s suppliers are making in a letter at the beginning of the report.

The company has worked with its global supply chain “on a range of protections suited to the circumstances in each country, including health screenings, limiting density, and ensuring strict adherence to social distancing in their facilities,” said Khan.

Adobe Patches Acrobat Reader Security Flaw That Could Allow Root Access On Mac, by Mike Peterson, AppleInsider

Adobe has patched a trio of severe vulnerabilities in the Adobe Acrobat PDF reader that could allow an attacking application to gain root access on macOS — and do it silently.

Utilizing these newly revealed security exploits, a malicious program could elevate privileges to superuser, or root, on macOS. A user or program with root permissions can do just about anything on a Mac device without a user's knowledge.

VR Too

Apple Acquires Startup NextVR That Broadcasts VR Content, by Mark Gurman, Bloomberg

NextVR has deals with sports leagues including the National Basketball Association and entertainment networks such as Fox Sports. The startup also has expertise in live streaming in virtual reality, which could also be useful for live concerts and games.

Why Did Apple Buy NextVR?, by Lucas Matney, TechCrunch

At face value, this acquisition seems a little strange for Apple. Apple has been pushing full throttle on mobile AR, largely eschewing public activity or interest in the VR world, leaving that domain wholly in Facebook’s hands. Late last year, The Information reported that Apple had informed employees that it may be shipping a device in 2022 that combined AR and VR capabilities in a form factor similar to the Oculus Quest. That teamed with this acquisition suggests that Apple may have deeper plans for VR than they’ve previously indicated.

Stuff

Apple Arcade On TV: Seven Months Later, Still Not Much Progress, by Eli Blumenthal, CNET

Although there's plenty to like with Apple Arcade on Apple TV, those hoping it will turn the Apple TV into a miniature Xbox, PlayStation or Switch will be disappointed. Eight months after launch, the biggest problem is that there just aren't a lot of great games that take advantage of the TV.

Mophie Unveils New Powerstation XL With USB-C And Lightning, Qi Charging, More, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

The new Powerstation XL offers up to 18W output when using the USB-C PD port. You can also charge two devices at the same time using both the USB-C port and wireless charging. In total, Mophie says the Powerstation XL can give your iPhone up to 55 hours of extra juice.

Develop

How To Prepare For Losing Your Programming Job, by Itamar Turner-Trauring, Code Without Ruls

So even if your job is secure now, you might still lose it in the future. How can you prepare? What can you do to reduce your future risks?

The first thing you need to do is come up with a plan, which is what this article is all about.

Notes

The Joys Of Fixing Your Own Stuff, by Shira Ovide, New York Times

I’m never going to stop buying new stuff. But like our sudden mania for baking, D.I.Y. repairs show how resourceful we can be. “It’s an opportunity to improve yourself and learn new skills,” Wiens said.

Can A Smart Watch Detect Covid-19?, by Victoria Song, Gizmodo

For every heartwarming story of an Apple Watch or Fitbit saving someone’s life, there’s another lurking about health tech peddling false promises and shady marketing passed off as science. With the stakes of covid-19 so high, how much of this is a genuine desire by wearables companies to lend their expertise during an unprecedented crisis? How much is a PR play meant to drum up goodwill at a time when consumers are more careful with their purse strings? And crucially, is a future where your smartwatch warns you before you get sick even possible?

It might sound like science fiction, but there’s reason to believe wearables could be useful in detecting infections. Whether researchers can figure it out in time to make a difference against covid-19 is another story.

Apple's Chipmaker TSMC Announces Plan To Build Arizona Factory, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

Apple's chipmaking partner TSMC today announced its intention to build and operate an advanced semiconductor factory in Arizona, with construction planned to start in 2021 and production targeted to begin in 2024.

The Essentially-Private Edition Thursday, May 14, 2020

Be Careful When Scheduling Events Using Siri, by Adam Engst, TidBITS

It all makes sense, and I can see why programmers working in large companies like Apple and Google would assume that everyone would want event invitations—their days undoubtedly involve a continual flurry of invitations accepted and rejected. And the Google Calendar team probably thought they were doing everyone a favor by providing single-click access to a video call right within the invitation. At least they provided an option to disable it.

If you’re like me, however, and see your calendar as essentially private, all I can suggest is that you either avoid using Siri to create events, which would be a loss, or train yourself never to mention a contact’s name when creating an event. That’s what I’ll be doing from now on. Live and learn!

Apple Stores In Italy Will Begin Reopening On May 19, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

Apple today indicated that its retail store at the Nave de Vero shopping mall in the Venice area will reopen on Tuesday, May 19, with reduced operating hours of 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. local time and other health and safety measures in place.

Stuff

Beats Powerbeats Review: Apple's Cheaper Bluetooth Fitness Earbuds, by Samuel Gibbs, The Guardian

They sound great, with a forward, energetic tone that’s perfectly suited to motivational tunes as you pound the pavement or heave those weights. But they also sound good enough for general usage, particularly if you mainly listen to pop.

The ear hooks are the best in the business - light, comfortable, adjustable and rock-solid when twisted into place. They won’t come off regardless of how hard you go at it and with IPX4 sweat resistance, they should survive everything but a dip in the pool.

Watchsmith Review: Personalize Your Apple Watch With Custom Complications, by J.R. Bookwalter, Macworld

Apple Watch lovers must rely on an extensive battery of complications to populate favorite watch faces with data relevant to each person. For those looking to go beyond this limitation, there’s now an ingenious app designed to automatically display a wide range of complications on a given schedule throughout the day. It’s the closest we’ll likely come to custom Apple Watch faces.

Noto 2.0 Review: iPad Pointer Support, Easy Note Importing, CloudKit Syncing, And More, by Ryan Christoffel, MacStories

Just over half a year since its launch, Noto has grown into one of the most compelling note-taking apps on Apple devices. Though there are certainly more features that could be added in the future, the app feels surprisingly feature-rich already and thoroughly modern. And since it’s so young, I expect Noto’s future is bright.

Notes

Bloomberg Publishes Clickbait In Break From Rivals, by John Gruber, Daring Fireball

This first phase doesn’t just “include” those who can’t work remotely or are having trouble working from home — it entirely consists of those people. That’s what the first phase is: people who can’t do their job from home, or can’t do all of it from home, or who are otherwise having problems working from home. That’s it.

That’s surely no different at all from what is going on at Amazon/Google/Facebook/Twitter. It would be news if any company were not making arrangements for employees who need to be on site to do their job.

iPhone Research Tool Sued By Apple Says It’s Just Like A PlayStation Emulator, by Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai, Motherboard

Corellium made the argument that its product is just like the infamous PlayStation emulator Virtual Game Station, made by Connectix, which allowed people to run PlayStation games on their PCs. Sony sued the company and lost the suit. Corellium also said the case of Google Books winning a lawsuit against authors that claimed the product was infringing their copyrights should be considered a favorable precedent. In both cases, according to Corellium, judges found that these products were a transformative use of the original works, and thus did not infringe on copyright.

“Like Connectix, Corellium has created an entirely new product through which iOS can be studied and tested in an entirely new environment,” the company argued. “Corellium has not created a clone of an Apple device; it has transformed the field of security research for mobile operating systems entirely.”

Bottom of the Page

I have never asked Siri to do anything important. Not even to remind me. Not even to set a timer.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Ground-Floor-of-Considerations Edition Wednesday, May 13, 2020

For Apple, Accessibility Awareness Happens All Year Long, by Steven Aquino, Forbes

There is a codified way of doing business at Apple, and accessibility plays a big role. Accessibility is part and parcel of the design process for new products and initiatives within Apple Park. It’s my understanding, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter, accessibility is on the ground floor of considerations when Apple starts development of any product.

While it’s certainly right to laud Apple for recognizing Accessibility Awareness Month, the truth is recognizing accessibility is a continuous project for the company that extends beyond one month or one day. Accessibility awareness is a 365-day affair at Apple. From emoji and WWDC to media events and diversity reports, the company tries hard to ensure people with disabilities are properly represented in just about everything associated with Apple.

Apple's Logic Pro X 10.5 Update Adds Live Loops, New Beat-making Tools, by Carrie Mihalcik, CNET

Apple on Tuesday unveiled Logic Pro X 10.5, a major update to the music-making software that adds new workflow, drum beat and sampling tools. Apple touted the update as the most significant release for the music recording and production platform since the launch of Logic Pro X.

[...]

One of the new features in the 10.5 update is Live Loops, a new way for musicians to quickly sketch out arrangements. "Loops, samples, and recordings can be organized into a new musical grid, where musicians can spontaneously perform and capture different arrangement ideas into the timeline," Apple said.

Apple Plans To Add Audio Versions Of Publisher Articles To Apple News+, by Max Willens, Digiday

Over the past several months, Apple has been asking the publishers participating in its year-old premium program for permission to produce audio versions of the stories distributed there, according to sources at four different publishers that have heard the pitch.

Apple will handle production costs, and compensate publishers in the same way it compensates them for the written content available on Apple News+, two sources said; Apple metes out 50% of subscriber revenue to publishers based on how much time those subscribers spend with publishers’ content in a 30-day period.

Stuff

2020 13-inch MacBook Pro Review: The Standard macOS Workhorse, by Samuel Axon, Ars Technica

While the new 13-inch MacBook Pro is in most respects very similar to its 2019 predecessor, this update rounds out an overhaul of the MacBook lineup that Apple has had underway for several months.

The result is an effective workhorse machine that fills a gap in the lineup for the kinds of professional and hobbyist users who need strong CPU performance, but for whom graphics are secondary—people like developers and the like.

Directive: A Terrific Way To Manage Recurring Maintenance Tasks, by John Voorhees, MacStories

Directive is a task manager designed to remind you of recurring maintenance: things like home and auto maintenance, as well as personal care tasks. These are the kind of to-dos people often want to track the completion of and associate with some additional reference details.

Twobird Combines Email, Notes, Reminders And Collaboration, by Brent Dirks, AppAdvice

One of the highlights of the app is that it strips away needed elements found in other email apps like repeated signatures and complex formatting.

Sleep Cycle Debuts New Standalone Apple Watch App With Intelligent Wake, More, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Sleep Cycle is a sleep tracker that analyzes your sleep patterns and uses an intelligent alarm clock to wake you up while you’re in a light sleep. The app syncs all of its data directly to the Health app on iPhone as well.

Develop

Apple Coding Challenge Could Kickstart Top Tech Career – And It's Free To Take Part, by Sean Keach, The Sun

Esther said she hopes the challenge will inspire more people to take up coding – and careers in programming.

And she wants Apple's challenges to be accessible, dispelling the myth that coding is just for geeky guys.

“It used to be like, do you want to be a nurse or do this dorky thing called the tech industry? Now it’s for everyone," Esther, who has worked at Apple for 15 years, told us.

My Mac App Store Debate, by Brent Simmons, Inessential

This is supposed to be fun. It’s work that I love doing for a great cause. And I just keep thinking that dealing with the iOS App Store is enough to ask of me, and there’s no requirement that I go through this with the Mac App Store too. The personal cost is just too high.

Notes

Apple Plans To Return More Staff To Offices In Break From Rivals, by Mark Gurman, Bloomberg

The Cupertino, California-based technology giant plans to bring back employees in phases to its offices, including the main Apple Park campus in Silicon Valley, over a few months, according to people familiar with the plan. The first phase, which includes staff members who can’t work remotely or are facing challenges working from home, has already begun in some regions globally. It will expand to major offices across late May and early June, Apple has told staff.

[...]

Apple’s approach to returning to its offices differs greatly from that of other well-known technology companies. It underscores Apple’s longtime focus on in-person meetings and hands-on product development, and the company’s reliance on hardware as its central business.

Apple-Google Virus-Tracking Rules Put Apps In A Privacy Bind, by Gerrit De Vynck, Bloomberg

The persistent obstacles to a tech fix for contact tracing underscore that there isn’t a clear-cut way to stop the virus while keeping privacy intact, said Ryan Calo, a law professor at the University of Washington in Seattle who specializes in privacy and technology.

“There’s a role for technology to help with manual contact tracing, but there’s no way to do that that I’ve seen without privacy trade-offs,” Calo said. “You can’t get out of a pandemic with a clever app.”

Bottom of the Page

It doesn't make sense to me for Apple to get into the reading-of-news business. That's what BBC World Service and NPR News and all the other newsradio are doing. Reading of news articles is not going to compete well with BBC.

Now, reading of long-form magazine articles -- that makes more sense to me.

Which brings me to what I believe is a fundamental mistake of Apple News+. Newspaper articles and magazine articles do not mix well in a single subscription offering.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Encourage-and-Uplift Edition Tuesday, May 12, 2020

What It's Like To Be An Apple WWDC Student Scholar And Why You Should Apply This Year, by Amelia Heathman, London Evening Standard

“Our student program at WWDC isn’t something we check off the list because it’s something good to do. We do this because we honestly believe in our students and we want to support, encourage and uplift them,” explains Esther Hare, who manages the WWDC scholarship programme as part of her role as head of developer marketing at Apple.

Hare says it’s great to get to know the kids who win a spot on the programme, from reading through the submissions to meeting them at the event. “It’s really meaningful to realise that the next generation is really focused on solving issues with technology. We see so many apps for accessibility; mental health is huge for the student community; [and] peer-to-peer education, kids teaching each other how to code. It’s really a motivating, humbling time that’s super uplifting.”

Security Matters

Major Thunderbolt Security Flaw Found In Macs And PCs: Should You Be Worried?, by Jason Cross, Macworld

Most Mac users should not be terribly concerned about this particular security vulnerability. If your macOS install isn't way out of date and you're practicing good physical security (don't leave your Mac turned on and unattended, don't plug in devices if you don't know where they've been) you don't have a lot to fear from this avenue of attack. Remote attacks that use Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, or attempt to infect your computer with software downloaded over the Internet, are vastly more common than attacks like these that require physical access to your computer.

Apple In The Cloud

Some Of The World's Best Cloud Talent Is Assembling In An Unlikely Place: Apple, by Tom Krazit, Protocol

Over the past few months, Apple has gone on a cloud computing hiring spree, snapping up several well-known software engineers working across a range of modern technologies, especially containers and Kubernetes. The quantity and quality of the new hires has caused a stir in the tight-knit cloud community, and could indicate that Apple is finally getting serious about building tech infrastructure on par with companies like Amazon, Microsoft and Google.

It Looks Like Apple Is Developing New iCloud Products And Services, by Jonny Evans, Computerworld

It now seems logical to anticipate the company will seek out other ways in which it can extend the collaborative and sharing features you find in iCloud Drive based on the work it just completed.

More APIs, rapid evolution of new iCloud features and services, and the introduction of more machine intelligence within Apple’s platforms seems the most likely short-term results of the company’s current push.

Stuff

Apple Adds Some 2013 And 2014 MacBook Air And MacBook Pro Models To Vintage Products List, by Tim Hardwick, MacRumors

A little later than expected, Apple has added the following 2013 and 2014 models of the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro to its vintage and obsolete products list.

Book Track Adds Reading Status, Statistics, Quote Entries, And More, by Ryan Christoffel, MacStories

If you’re looking for a modern app to manage your book library and reading, Book Track is an excellent choice that’s bound to keep getting better.

Notes

Let’s Check In On The State Of iPhone And Android CPU Performance, by John Gruber, Daring Fireball

What makes our actual situation unprecedented in personal computing history isn’t that one company has maintained a decade-long CPU performance edge over the rest of the industry, but that that one company is keeping those chips exclusively for its own devices.

Former Apple Engineer: Here’s Why I Trust Apple’s COVID-19 Notification Proposal, by David Shayer, TidBITS

Apple claims to respect user privacy, and my experience indicates that’s true. I’m much more willing to trust a system developed by Apple than one created by any other company or government. It’s not that another company or government would be trying to abuse user privacy; it’s just that outside of Apple, too many organizations either lack the understanding of what it means to bake privacy in from the start or have competing interests that undermine efforts to do the right thing.

Countries Rolling Out Coronavirus Tracking Apps Show Why They Can't Work, by Salvatore Babones, Foreign Policy

Neither transmission route fits the logic of tracking apps. When a person tests positive for the coronavirus, tracking apps notify other people who have been near the infected person in recent weeks. Singapore’s tracking app is supposed to notify all people who have been within 2 meters of an infected person for at least 30 minutes, while Australia’s app claims to notify people who have been within 1.5 meters for at least 15 minutes. Since Bluetooth can’t actually be used reliably to measure distances, these figures suggest an illusory precision.

The inconsistency between what the apps measure and how the virus spreads puts governments in a bind. Set the time window too narrow, and the app will classify millions of people as possibly infected, requiring the government to track down everyone who has ever passed a coronavirus carrier on the street. Set the time window too wide, and the app will flag too few exposures to the virus. There is no “Goldilocks” zone in the middle of these two extremes.

Bottom of the Page

In these times, when things are the same for the, I don't know (who can keep track of time nowadays), many many days before, and for the many many days to come, I can still find joy in some repeatitive tasks, in some mudane tasks, and some simple tasks. Little rituals add up to some joy at the end of the day.

~

Thanks for reading. And, happy birthday.

The Create-Connections Edition Monday, May 11, 2020

Apple Offers In-Store Experience Online And It's Incredible, by Jason Aten, Inc

The incredible part is the "Today at Apple at Home" classes. Apple has created a section where you can watch short versions of the same classes offered in its stores, virtually. But the best part is that the classes were recorded by Apple's Creative Pros, at their own homes.

[...]

Why? Because it's taking a familiar experience that adds value to its customers and using it to create a connection at a time when that's more important than ever.

Thunderbolt Flaws Expose Millions Of PCs To Hands-On Hacking, by Andy Greenberg, Wired

On Thunderbolt-enabled Windows or Linux PCs manufactured before 2019, his technique can bypass the login screen of a sleeping or locked computer—and even its hard disk encryption—to gain full access to the computer's data. And while his attack in many cases requires opening a target laptop's case with a screwdriver, it leaves no trace of intrusion, and can be pulled off in just a few minutes. That opens a new avenue to what the security industry calls an "evil maid attack," the threat of any hacker who can get alone time with a computer in, say, a hotel room.

[...]

Computers running Apple's MacOS are unaffected.

Major Thunderbolt Security Flaws Found, Affect Macs Shipped 2011-2020, by Ben Lovejoy, 9to5Mac

Macs are fully vulnerable to all of the Thunderbolt security flaws when running Bootcamp, and ‘partly affected’ when running macOS.

[...]

Ruytenberg informed both Intel and Apple of his discoveries, but says that as the Thunderbolt security flaws are present in the controller chips, there is no way to fix the vulnerabilities via a software update.

Stuff

Adobe Fresco Coloring Books Are A Great Way To Kill Time At Home, Even If You're A Terrible Artist, by Alex Perry, Mashable

Thanks to Adobe's new Fresco-compatible digital coloring books, that classic grade school activity can now become an amusing and time-consuming quarantine hobby. Sure, it's tough to justify the cost of the hardware if all you want to do is casually color inside some lines, but it's an impressive example of tech making even the worst artists feel competent.

Develop

Could A Randomness Machine Help You Fight Procrastination?, by Arne Jenssen, Excelerity

I took a big glass jar and filled it with paper-lots. On each lot I wrote a thing I would reward myself by doing during a break. Facebook, linkedIn, twitter, youtube, pushups, local news, national news, tech news, close browser tabs, brainstorm, … and a handful more. Some of the lots I made more copies of because I’d like to do it several times per day. For example I want to drop into facebook up to 4 times per day, so I made 4 lots with Facebook.

It is simple to use the “randomness machine”. After completing a 25-minute session of work it is time for a diversion. I get up from my desk and go to the jar to pick one lot at random. Eyes closed - no cheating.

Notes

Apple’s Toaster-Fridge: More Glitches And Thoughts, by Jean-Louis Gassée, Monday Note

How far should Apple designers and engineers go to make the iPad a MacBook alternative? If they go too far, they risk ruining the iPad’s original simplicity, a tendency that we’re already seeing in some parts of the new iPad’s UI and workflows. And what will happen if/when Macs and the iPad Pros run on the same processor?

Big Tech Has Crushed The News Business. That’s About To Change., by Ben Smith, New York Times

In France, where regulators are demanding that Google cut a deal to pay publishers, the pandemic crisis has added “all the more urgency,” said Ms. de Silva, the president of the French Competition Authority, which is enforcing a European Commission change to copyright law that will soon take effect across the continent.

Players on all sides predict the Australian and French decisions will set global precedents. Leaders from Ireland to Malaysia have indicated they’re paying attention. And in the United States, where antitrust laws are weaker and regulators have been more laissez-faire, starving publishers are licking their chops.

Bottom of the Page

I've never attended any of the Today at Apple sessions before. Maybe if, one day, Apple re-started offering these sessions, I should find time to attend one or two sessions.

Who knows how long the re-opening can last.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Health-and-Safety Edition Sunday, May 10, 2020

All Four Apple Stores In Switzerland Reopen May 12, by Michael Steeber, 9to5Mac

Switzerland’s four Apple Stores are set reopen on May 12 at 11:00 a.m. after closing in mid-March to slow the spread of COVID-19. [...] Apple Stores in Switzerland will follow the familiar health and safety procedures outlined for previous reopenings in South Korea, Austria, and Australia.

The Secrets Behind The Runaway Success Of Apple’s AirPods, by Jeremy White, Wired

According to Joswiak, Apple “had a vision for our wireless future for many years” before the first AirPods were unveiled. “We had this incredible wireless product, the iPhone,” he says. “And yet, what began to feel odd is when you saw somebody using wired headphones. Right then you thought, why would you attach the wire?”

Roundguard On Apple Arcade Game Designer Andrea Roberts Interview, by TJ Denzer, Shacknews

We had already been working on the game for PC and consoles, but we had a lot of folks tell us they wanted Roundguard on their phone, so we knew Apple Arcade was going to be a perfect fit. The gameplay was already fairly developed at that point, so we spent most of the time in the last several months working on nailing touch controls and making sure everything was smooth and legible on the phone. Working with Apple Arcade also meant that we had enough funding for Bob to quit his job and come work full time on the game with me, which was a dream come true for us.

Spyder On Apple Arcade Lead Designer Nic Cusworth Interview, by TJ Denzer, Shacknews

When Spyder was starting out as a project we showed it to Apple and it just felt like a natural fit for Apple Arcade.

Apple is a company that truly backs creative talent, and we knew Spyder was going to be something a little different to the more standard platform/puzzle games. Working with Apple on the title gave us the confidence to really explore the possibilities of the game, knowing they fully supported the creative direction of the project.

Stuff

Meeter Is A New Mac App For Quickly Joining Zoom Meetings, Google Hangouts, And More, by Bradley Chambers, 9to5Mac

Meeter is a new macOS app that, once installed, will live in your Menu bar. It allows you to quickly join your scheduled calls for services like Zoom, Google Hangouts, etc.

Develop

The Ideal iPhone App First-Run Experience Is None At All, by Brent Simmons, Inessential

It seems to me that the best first-run experience is to get people into the app as quickly as possible, because that’s where they want to be.

They’ve already waited long enough — finding the app, downloading it — and now you want to delay the joy even longer, and thereby tarnish or even risk it? Don’t do it!

Notes

Eric Schmidt, Who Led Google's Transformation Into A Tech Giant, Has Left The Company, by Richard Nieva, CNET

Eric Schmidt, who drove Google's transformation from Silicon Valley start-up to global titan, is no longer an adviser to the search giant and its parent Alphabet, marking another milestone in recent personnel shake-ups that've seen the company's old guard bow out.

Schmidt, tapped as Google's CEO in 2001, left his role as a technical advisor in February, according to a person familiar with the situation. His exit ends a 19-year tenure at Google, where he was brought in to be the "adult supervision" to the company's young founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Schmidt's departure comes three years after Schmidt said he was stepping down as executive chairman and would no longer serve in an operational role.

The Reopening-Efforts Edition Saturday, May 9, 2020

Here's When The First US Apple Stores Will Reopen, by Michael Steeber, 9to5Mac

The number of coronavirus cases reported varies significantly from state to state. Apple will focus its initial reopening efforts on regions less impacted by infection. The first Apple Stores in the U.S. to begin welcoming customers again are located in Idaho, South Carolina, Alabama, and Alaska.

[...]

Idaho’s only Apple Store, Boise Towne Square, will reopen on May 11 at 11:00 A.M.

Apple Launches ‘Apple Books For Authors’ Website As Guided Resource To Publication And More For Mac And Windows, by Michael Potuck, 9to5Mac

Apple has released a neat new rich resource today to help writers publish their content on its Apple Books platform. The new website walks through writing, publishing, marketing, and looking at analytics with Apple Books [...].

Stuff

This Learning App? It Was Made By An Omaha Couple, And There's More To Come, by Ashlee Coffey, Omaha WOrld-Herald

The apps and video focus on four kids — Ruby, Leo, Finn and Molly — each from different backgrounds. The titular Wonder Bunch is intended to make them appealing to all kinds of kids, lending an element of inclusivity the Michelics found lacking in other apps.

“We want kids of all backgrounds to be able to feel like they can be part of this group that's going through these adventures,” Alex Michelic said. “And so that was an important part of why we chose to design the way we did.”

Overcast Podcast Player Gains Apple Watch Streaming Over Cellular And Direct Downloads Over Wi-Fi, by Michael Potuck, 9to5Mac

Along with the new ability to stream podcasts on Apple Watch over cellular (or Wi-Fi) and episode downloading directly over Wi-Fi instead of over Bluetooth from iPhone, there are two small caveats. You’ll have to redownload your podcasts and Smart Speed and Voice Boost have been removed temporarily.

The Otherside Unleashes Scary Good Fun On Apple Arcade, by Ed Hardy, Cult of Mac

This new game is played on an Apple TV, iPad or iPhone, but The Otherside has all the trappings of a strategy board game, with simulated dice, cards… everything you’d expect. But it offers effects not possible from cardboard and plastic game pieces.

Develop

Write Libraries, Not Frameworks, by Brandon Smith

If your framework can be a library without losing much, it probably should be. If you don't work at a major tech company, you probably don't have the time or energy to give a framework all of the attention it requires. Libraries aren't everything, but they should be preferred.

Notes

White-Collar Companies Race To Be Last To Return To The Office, by David Streitfeld, New York Times

For many companies, which started having employees work from home in March, prolonging the policy is not just a safety measure. It is a pragmatic approach that helps workers with young children plan for a difficult summer, and gives management time to reconfigure open-office plans into something safer.

Some companies said there is another reason: Working from home is working out well.

Bottom of the Page

The part that is making me anxious is that I know whatever we are doing now cannot last forever, what we used to do may not return, and whatever we need to do in the future is still a big unknown.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Shopping-from-Home Edition Friday, May 8, 2020

Apple Launches Online Store Hub For Easy Shopping From Home, by Michael Steeber, 9to5Mac

Apple has launched a new hub for its online store to streamline shopping from home while Apple Retail Stores are closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The webpage helps customers learn more about no-contact delivery options, get help from a Specialist, and more.

Apple Stores In Germany Next To Begin Reopening On May 11, by Michael Steeber, 9to5Mac

Following reopenings across South Korea, Austria, and Australia in recent weeks, Germany’s 15 Apple Stores will begin to reopen on May 11, most at 11:00 A.M.

Your iPhone Costs Too Much, by Shira Ovide, New York Times

That’s not to say I’m dissing those pricey phones. We should be glad that companies stretch their minds and their research labs to invent phones with bleeding edge technology and $2,000 price tags. Fancy parts and gizmos in today’s luxury phones become tomorrow’s widespread, affordable and important technologies.

So you should feel free to buy the Lexus of smartphones if you want to and can afford it. Just know that you don’t have to.

Trust This MacBook

Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch Review, by Brian Heater, TechCrunch

In a lot of ways, the systems start from a similar place, but the the Pro can be specced out for better performance more befitting the Pro moniker. If you’re opting for the Pro over the Air, it’s likely you need more processing power for things like video editing or perhaps some gaming, so you’ll want to upgrade over the base-level to make sure you’re covered.

[...]

For most users, the Air should be plenty for most tasks. For those who need more power without breaking their backs or banks, however, the 13-inch model is still a strong and safe bet that’s now much easier on the fingers.

13-inch MacBook Pro (2020) Review: Two Laptops, One Keyboard, by Jason Snell, Six Colors

Clearly Apple feels that there is room in its product line between the MacBook Air and the high-end 13-inch MacBook Pro, and for the last four years this lower-end model has served that purpose. It feels wrong, though, like it’s the vestige of an old laptop strategy that hasn’t quite faded away.

In any event, if you’re shopping for a new Apple laptop and you’re wary of the $1799 starting price of the high-end 13-inch MacBook Pro, you should consider the MacBook Air as well as the low-end Pro. They’re more alike than you might imagine, the Air is lighter and cheaper, and if you have no use for the Touch Bar, all the better.

MacBook Pro 13-inch: Come For The Keyboard, Stay For The Performance, by Dieter Bohn, The Verge

And that’s the bottom line: by all indications, Apple has delivered an update to the 13-inch MacBook Pro that does the things most people would expect a good laptop to do. First and foremost, the keyboard is expected to be trustworthy. It’s always possible that there’s a critical flaw nobody has caught yet. But I think it’s safe to trust this Magic Keyboard — and this MacBook.

Stuff

'X-ray Teardown' Of iPad Pro Magic Keyboard Illustrates Complex Engineering, by Mike Peterson, AppleInsider

"There is so much going on here, you might never guess that this is technically an accessory to the actual iPad Pro," iFixit wrote, adding that "rarely have we had so much to think about from a single image."

How To Mirror Your Apple TV To Your Mac For Screenshots Or Presentations, by Josh Centers, TidBITS

Nowadays, all that’s necessary to capture the Apple TV’s output in QuickTime Player is that the Apple TV and the Mac be on the same Wi-Fi network.

The Best iPad Board Games, by David Price, Macworld UK

Looking for a digital distraction? We've collected the 21 finest iPad board games, suitable for all the family to enjoy. There's something here for everyone.

Develop

What Happened When I Looked At Two Mac Apps Today, by Brent Simmons, Inessential

The basics of window resizing behavior should be impossible to mess up — AppKit should be handling this. If it’s messed up, then something in the app is fighting the frameworks. That’s a bad sign for the quality of the rest of the app.

Notes

Why Countries Keep Bowing To Apple And Google’s Contact Tracing App Requirements, by Casey Newton, The Verge

It’s a fascinating tension: corporations trying to do right by their users versus countries trying to do right by their citizens.

Why Britain Is Ignoring The Google-Apple Protocol For Its Tracing App, by The Economist

The government’s decision to go for a centralised system may in part be the consequence of its tardiness in getting testing off the ground. A system that relies on self-reporting of symptoms requires public-health authorities to make judgments about symptoms; centralisation permits that. The authors of a paper published on April 16th by a group at Oxford University, widely acknowledged to have influenced the government’s decision-making, says that “prolonged test turnaround times and low capacity for testing” limit the use of testing as an indicator.

Zoom, Xoom, Züm: Why Does Every Start-Up Sound Fast Now?, by Erin Griffith, New York Times

“I’m sure they all thought they were the only one,” Ms. Friedman said.

The strongest brands are evocative, not descriptive, she added. But in her experience, people with engineering backgrounds don’t always see the value of a good metaphor. “And now they’re all in the shadow of Zoom,” she said.

Bottom of the Page

Once again, I lived through an entire morning on the wrong day.

("Once I finish this meeting, I better go and find out why the cronjob that was scheduled for Monday morning didn't fire off today.")

(Yes, today is Friday, not Monday.)

~

Thanks for reading.

The Very-Touch-Centric Edition Thursday, May 7, 2020

How Apple Reinvented The Cursor For iPad, by Matthew Panzarino, TechCrunch

“There was a process to figure out exactly how various elements would work together,” Federighi says. “We knew we wanted a very touch-centric cursor that was not conveying an unnecessary level of precision. We knew we had a focus experience similar to Apple TV that we could take advantage of in a delightful way. We knew that when dealing with text we wanted to provide a greater sense of feedback.”

“Part of what I love so much about what’s happened with iPadOS is the way that we’ve drawn from so many sources. The experience draws from our work on tvOS, from years of work on the Mac, and from the origins of iPhone X and early iPad, creating something new that feels really natural for iPad.”

Apple Stores In Australia Show Confidence In Measured Approach To Reopening, by Michael Steeber, 9to5Mac

At Apple Broadway, an upper-level mall location on the outskirts of Sydney, customers waited in a line winding past adjacent storefronts due to the 2-meter gap between each body. Retail staff handed out masks at the door and checked each customer with a contactless thermometer. Appointments for AirPods service were booked through next Tuesday as the store temporarily operates with a reduced number of team members. iPhone appointments were backed up until Thursday.

Apple Will Let Users Automatically Share Medical IDs On Emergency Calls, by Rachel Kraus, Mashable

Apple's upcoming iOS 13.5 update will include the ability for users to automatically share their "Medical ID" when they make an emergency call. If users enable the feature, their info would be automatically shared with 9-11 dispatchers, who would then share it with emergency responders if a service called "Enhanced Emergency Data" data is available in their area.

Stuff

Apple iPhone SE Review: A Superb Smartphone For A Humble Price, by Brian X. Chen, New York Times

The new iPhone SE’s lack of compromise is what makes it remarkable. Apple took all the best parts from its expensive iPhones — including a fast computing processor and an excellent camera — and squeezed them into the shell of an older iPhone with a home button and smaller screen. At the same time, it managed to include useful features that were previously exclusive to fancy new phones, like water resistance, wireless charging and so-called portrait photos.

That means state-of-the-art smartphone technology has finally come down to a modest price. It’s about time.

Nervous, Adobe? It Took 16 Years, But Open-source Vector Graphics Editor Inkscape Now Works Properly On macOS, by Tim Anderson, The Register

Open-source, cross-platform vector drawing package Inkscape has reached its version 1.0 milestone after many years of development.

Wink Shocks Smart Home Users With One Week Notice Of New Subscription Fee, by Brittany A. Roston, Slashgear

Smart home company Wink has made a surprising and heavily criticized announcement: it will soon charge a monthly subscription fee. Users aren’t required to pay this fee, of course, but their hardware will stop working without the subscription, rendering their current systems completely useless.

[...]

This gives Wink users only a single week to prepare for the new charge, which is coming during a time when many people have found themselves without work or with reduced hours.

Notes

Apple Awards $10 Million To Rapidly Scale COVID-19 Sample Collection Kit Production, by Darrell Etherington, TechCrunch

Apple has awarded $10 million from its Advanced Manufacturing Fund to COPAN Diagnostics, a company focused on producing sample collection kits for testing COVID-19 to hospitals in the U.S. The money comes from the fund that Apple established to support the development and growth of U.S.-based manufacturing, but is particularly notable because to date, the fund has been used to support companies tied more directly to its own supply chain.

Zoom Can’t Give You The Comfort Of A Hug, But Other Technologies Can, by Honah Liles, Slate

We don’t yet have the intelligent robots imagined by science fiction, but current research suggests mechanical interaction can still provide benefits. A study of human-robot interaction suggests robot-initiated touch can be calming during a scary movie. Researchers had a group of 67 participants watch movies with an orange and white humanoid robot about the size of a Pomeranian. In the first part of the study, half of the participants “bonded” with the robot by interacting with it, and half did not. In part two, all participants watched scary movies with the robot; the robot reached out and touched some participants during the movie. Even for those who did not “bond” with the robot, their heart rates decreased when touched, a sign of a feeling calmed.

Can We Escape From Information Overload?, by Tom Lamont, 1843 Magazine

One day in December 2016 a 37-year-old British artist named Sam Winston equipped himself with a step-ladder, a pair of scissors, several rolls of black-out cloth and a huge supply of duct tape, and set about a project he had been considering for some time. Slight and bearded, with large grey-blue eyes, Winston had moved to London from Devon in the late 1990s. He supported himself through his 20s and 30s by teaching, doing illustrations for magazines and selling larger, freer-form artworks, many of them pencildrawn, to collectors and museums. He had just collaborated on a children’s book with author Oliver Jeffers, and done his part to propel “Child of Books” up the bestseller lists. Grateful as he was for commercial success, Winston found he disliked corporate publishing. All the emails! He saw himself as a lead-smudged idealist, an artist-hermit at heart. He’d been troubled by nervous energy and stress since he was young, was an intermittent insomniac, had difficulty filtering noise and distractions in public spaces, and was someone who – like so many of us – increasingly relied on his phone and computer. So Winston decided to hole up for a few days. No screens. No sun. No visual stimulation of any kind. He was going to spend some time alone in the dark.

It took him hours, climbing up and down the ladder in his studio, to cover every last aperture and pinprick of inbound light. The studio, in a converted factory in east London, has large tenement windows and a sloped roof inlaid with skylights that were especially tricky to seal. By Winston’s conservative estimate he used 200 metres of duct tape before he was fully satisfied that here, at last, was darkness. He would sit in it, drawing with pencil and paper, doing yoga, snacking a bit, waiting to see if the dark had any sort of palliative effect.

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If I lose interet access out of my home, how many of my devices and apps in my home can still work? Even if I wire up all my machines in my home and pretent that's the entire internet?

For any of the devcies or apps that fail this test, perhaps it is time to re-evaluate whether I want to continue using them? Because, one fine day, that device or app may, just may, blackmail me?

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Thanks for reading.

The Free-to-All Edition Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Apple’s Online-only WWDC 2020 Starts June 22, by Samuel Axon, Ars Technica

Access to this year's conference will be free to all Apple developers. Videos of all the sessions, plus any related documentation, have been offered through Apple's website and apps to active developer accounts in previous years, too. It's unclear what, if anything, Apple will do differently with this conference in addition to livestreaming the sessions online and making the videos available.

Apple Unveils WWDC 2020 Coding Contest For Students, by Jason Hiner, CNET

To participate, student developers from across across the globe need to use Swift Playgrounds (on iPad or Mac) to build an interactive scene that can be experienced in three minutes or less and submit it through the WWDC 2020 Swift Student Challenge site. The contest opens today and runs through 11:59 p.m. PT on Sunday, May 17. The contest winners will get a WWDC20 jacket and pin set and will be notified by June 16, ahead of the virtual WWDC, which is set to begin June 22.

Pro Crackling

Apple Updates AirPods Pro Firmware To Version 2D15, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

There is no word on what's new in the refreshed firmware at this time, though there have been some complaints from ‌AirPods Pro‌ users about Active Noise Cancellation issues with the prior firmware.

Apple Releases Support Advice For AirPods Pro Users With Crackling Audio And Noise Cancellation Issues, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

This week, Apple has released a couple of support articles that specifically mention troubleshooting steps to try, for users experiencing issues with Active Noise Cancellation or if they are hearing crackling/static noises.

Working Relationships

France Accuses Apple Of Refusing Help With 'StopCovid' App, by Sudip Kar-Gupta, Michel Rose, Reuters

Apple’s iPhones normally block access to Bluetooth unless the user is actively running an app. French officials want Apple to change the settings to let their app access Bluetooth in the background, so it is always on. So far, they say, Apple has refused.

“Apple could have helped us make the application work even better on the iPhone. They have not wished to do so,” France’s minister for digital technology, Cedric O, told BFM Business TV.

[...]

“We will remember that when time comes,” the minister added.

Spotify CEO Expects Apple To Further Open Up After Complaint, by Mark Gurman and Emily Chang, Bloomberg

Spotify Technology SA Chief Executive Officer Daniel Ek said he expects Apple Inc. to further open up its platform a year after the Stockholm-based music streaming company filed an antitrust complaint with the European Union.

[...]

“It’s moving in the right direction, but we still have many, many steps to go before” Spotify considers Apple “an open and fair platform,” Ek said.

Apple’s Copyright Lawsuit Has Created A ‘Chilling Effect’ On Security Research, by Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai, Motherboard

The lawsuit, however, has already produced a tangible outcome: very few people, especially current and former customers and users, want to talk about Corellium, which sells the eponymous software that virtualizes iPhones and Android devices. During the lawsuit's proceedings, Apple has sought information from companies that have used the tool, which emulates iOS on a computer, allowing researchers to probe potential iPhone vulnerabilities in a forgiving and easy-to-use environment.

[...]

“I don’t know if they intended it but when they name individuals at companies that have spoken in favor [of Corellium], I definitely believe retribution is possible,” the researcher added, referring to Apple’s subpoena to the spanish finance giant Santander Bank, which named an employee who had Tweeted about Corellium.

Stuff

Apple Adds AFI Movie Club Picks To Apple TV App, by Todd Spangler, Variety

The American Film Institute’s AFI Movie Club, daily selections of favorite films new and old to watch during quarantine, is now available directly on the Apple TV app — thereby making it easier to stream the titles from the app or pay Apple to rent or buy the titles.

Abyss Is A Neat Little “Read Later” App For iPhone, iPad And Mac, by Gayatri Tanksali, Beautiful Pixels

It’s a super simple app that lets you save links into the app from anywhere using the native share sheets on iOS, iPadOS and macOS. These URLs that you save in the app sync between all your devices using your iCloud account, so everything stays private since there are no 3rd party servers or services involved.

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Will Apple be offering any reasons for developers to attend WWDC live? (Well, besides the keynotes, that is.) If so, will Apple be doing something for all the major timezones, or are we all going to live on Pacific time for a week?

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Thanks for reading.

The Jumpstart-Development Edition Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Apple And Google Release Sample Code, UI And Detailed Policies For COVID-19 Exposure-notification Apps, by Darrell Etherington, TechCrunch

The first version of the Exposure Notification API, which Apple and Google renamed from the ‘Contact Tracing API’ to more accurately reflect its actual use and purpose, was released to developers last week along with beta updates of iOS and Xcode. Today, Apple and Google are providing new sample resources for developers, including example UI assets, and sample code for both iOS and Android. These are designed as starting points that developers working on behalf of public health agencies can use to jumpstart their app development process.

[...]

Apple and Google had both targeted “mid-May” for the consumer-facing release of the API, with an eventual plan to release exposure notification as a system-level feature by sometime later this year.

Apple, Google Ban Use Of Location Tracking In Contact Tracing Apps, by Stephen Nellis, Paresh Dave, Reuters

Apple and Google said they will not allow use of GPS data along with the contact tracing systems. The decision will require public health authorities who want to use GPS location data to rely on unstable workarounds to detect encounters using Bluetooth sensors.

Privacy experts have warned that any cache of location data related to health issues could make businesses and individuals vulnerable to being ostracized if the data is exposed.

Stuff

New 13-Inch MacBook Pro With Four Thunderbolt 3 Ports Is Compatible With Apple's Pro Display XDR, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

Apple's new 13-inch MacBook Pro models with four Thunderbolt 3 ports are compatible with its Pro Display XDR at full 6K resolution, according to updated tech specs for the display. The base model with two Thunderbolt 3 ports remains incapable of this.

All But One Apple Store In Australia Reopen On May 7, by Michael Steeber, 9to5Mac

21 of Australia’s 22 Apple Stores will reopen on May 7 at 10:00 a.m. following extended closures due to the coronavirus pandemic. Apple has been cautiously reopening stores around the world as local conditions permit. [...]

Reduced operating hours, physical distancing, and a focus on support — it’s a familiar tune. Apple’s tried-and-true guidelines for safe and responsible store reopenings will extend to Australia.

Apple To Reopen First Retail Store In Europe May 5 Since Pandemic Shutdown, by Brad Gibson, Cult of Mac

Apple will reopen its store in Vienna, Austria, on Tuesday, as its retail operations slowly emerge from a worldwide shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Vienna store is Apple’s first outside of China and South Korea to reopen after the company shuttered its brick-and-mortar locations in March.

Develop

Chuck Frey's Simple 5-Step Process To Find Your Big Ideas On Demand, by Chuck Frey, The Sweet Setup

Like many things in business, creativity responds well to a process — one that guides you along the path of birthing, nurturing and implementing game-changing ideas.

Notes

Apple Borrows On The Cheap To Fund Buybacks, Dividends, by Kate Duguid, Joshua Franklin, Reuters

Apple Inc on Monday capitalized on the Federal Reserve’s emergency measures in response to the coronavirus outbreak to issue its cheapest bonds in years, making it the latest blue-chip company to do so to fund stock buybacks and dividends.

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Actually, why doesn't Apple (and Google) create a contact tracing app that they can 'license' to countries and authorities to use? Let the governments focus on the governing part, and let Apple (and Google) worry about testing, and UX, and bug-fixing.

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Thanks for reading.

The End-of-Butterflies Edition Monday, May 4, 2020

Apple Updates 13-inch MacBook Pro With Magic Keyboard, Doubles SSD Storage, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

Apple today updated the 13-inch MacBook Pro with the Magic Keyboard, alongside performance and tech spec improvements. The new 13-inch Pro features scissor switch keys, marking the end of the butterfly keyboard MacBook era.

[...]

Unlike the 15-inch to 16-inch MacBook Pro upgrade, Apple does not seem to have changed the physical design of the new 13-inch MacBook Pro at all. It features the same screen size, and same large screen bezels as the previous generation.

Remade World

Apple CEO Tim Cook Delivers Ohio State Commencement Address, by Tim Cook, Ohio State University

In every age, life has a frustrating way of reminding us that we are not the sole authors of our story. We must share credit, whether we’d like to or not, with a difficult and selfish collaborator called our circumstances.

And when our glittering plans are scrambled, as they often will be, and our dearest hopes are dashed, as will sometimes happen, we’re left with a choice. We can curse the loss of something that was never going to be…Or we can see reasons to be grateful for the yank on the scruff of the neck, in having our eyes lifted up from the story we were writing for ourselves and turned instead to a remade world.

Back to Work

Post-Pandemic Offices Seek Open Flow Of Ideas, Not Of The Virus, by Matt Richtel, New York Times

The conversation about how to reconfigure the American workplace is taking place throughout the business world, from small start-ups to giant Wall Street firms. The design and furniture companies that have been hired for the makeovers say the virus may even be tilting workplaces back toward a concept they had been moving away from since the Mad Men era: privacy.

The question is whether any of the changes being contemplated will actually result in safer workplaces.

Tech Will Return To Work, But Habits Will Be Changed Forever, by Frederic Filloux, Monday Note

How many workers will go back to work? I mean like before, five days a week? Most likely none. In the Bay Area, all the people I talked to in the recent weeks — tech workers, entrepreneurs, facility managers — are reshuffling their plans to deal with the upcoming post-COVID working habits: far fewer people showing up, deserted offices, and a spectacular rise in remote working that will reshape the corporate tech world.

Stuff

Another Apple Finally™: The iPad Toaster-Fridge, by Jean-Louis Gassée, Monday Note

Upon reflection, I come to the conclusion that it doesn’t matter for the medium term. The inconsistencies that really matter, that make the user’s life less enjoyable, will get fixed. Measuring the progress of the hardware and software that shipped in less than a year and extrapolating into the future, we may now — finally™ — agree with Tim Cook’s 2015 statement that the iPad represents “the clearest expression of our vision of the future of personal computing”.

After a decade of iPad evolution, we now have a shape-shifting personal computing device whose personalities range from media consumption, to white collar professional uses, to creating works of art. As a pretend laptop replacement, the current incarnation isn’t as polished as the MacBook Air, but it offers a much richer gamut of uses and interaction modes. I’ll add a special mention for the new iPadOS Smart Cursor, one that really deserves its name.

Notes

The Coronavirus Has Us Even More Reliant On Apple, Amazon, Facebook And Google, by Ian Sherr, CNET

The larger question these companies will face won't just be how much more they'll be welcomed into our lives. It's how they can turn their sudden fortune into regained trust once we return to normal.

"The good news is the tools are there for people to use," O'Donnell added. "It's also going to raise concerns among people who say they have too much power."

The Inevitable Has Happened., by Om Malik

The economic downturn at the beginning of the millennium saw the emergence of broadband connectivity and its pervasiveness. Seven years later, we all embraced the social web, and then the mobile and app revolution. And as the pandemic ravages our social fabric, we are seeing a wholesale digital transformation in a compressed time frame. Each economic setback creates a craving for convenience, and in the long-term, this opens the door for the widespread adoption of technology.

Whether we like it or not, we are addicted to it now. We like being able to watch movies and television shows when we want, where we want, and on the screen we want. We love ordering food and groceries and want them delivered. Ironically, the consumer-focused services have been much more prepared for the future than the enterprises, which have been slower in embracing the significant shift to cloud, data, and automation.

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This is the year of the good keyboards.

(Oh, and that other thing too.)

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Thanks for reading.

The Real-Immunity Edition Sunday, May 3, 2020

10 Tips And Tricks For The iPad Pro Magic Keyboard, by Tim Hardwick, MacRumors

If you've just picked up Apple's new Magic Keyboard for your 2018 or 2020 iPad Pro, here's a list of our favorite tips and tricks that you need to know.

The Best Apple Watch Apps Are The Ones Already Built In, by Alison DeNisco Rayome, CNET

Here are several native Apple Watch apps that you may not already be using.

Level Lock Is An ‘Invisible’ HomeKit Lock With Apple In Its DNA, by Lewis Wallace, Cult of Mac

A new “invisible” HomeKit-compatible lock means you won’t need to sacrifice fancy door hardware to get smart lock functionality. Level Lock replaces your existing deadbolt’s guts, hiding seamlessly inside your door.

Develop

Why Taking A Midday Bath Can Boost Your Productivity, by Charles Duhigg, Slate

If you think about what gets lost when you work from home in a single day it’s these informal interactions with other people at work—at a cafe space in your office or maybe at Starbucks— when you start chatting with someone else who you might not know that well. You wouldn’t think to send a meeting invite for lunch with that person.

Notes

The Immunity Of The Tech Giants, by Kara Swisher, New York Times

But when this crisis is over, I can say that we most certainly should fear Big Tech more because these companies will be freer than ever, with many fewer strictures on them from regulators and politicians. The effort to rein in tech companies had been building decent momentum before coronavirus outbreak, but it will be harder when focus needs to be on building up rather than breaking apart.

Now, as we turn to the healthy companies to help us revive the economy, it could be that the only ones with real immunity are the tech giants. In this way, Covid-19 has accelerated their rise and tightened their grip on our lives. And this consolidation of power, combined with Big Tech’s control of data, automation, robotics, artificial intelligence, media, advertising, retail and even autonomous tech is daunting.

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I miss going lunch with my co-workers. I miss sitting down for a cup of coffee. But I have no idea when I will be comfortable in crowds.

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Thanks for reading.

The Low-Code Edition Saturday, May 2, 2020

An Apple Business You May Not Know That's Poised To Boom From Coronavirus Crisis, by Eric Rosenbaum, CNBC

It's an Apple business most people don't know much about, if they know it at all: Claris, which sells the low- code application development software called FileMaker.

"There is a massive opportunity for low code to help in the Covid-19 situation," said Claris CEO Brad Freitag, who took the reins at the company last year and rebranded what had long been known as FileMaker under the Claris name.

That's particularly true in some of the sectors with the most immediate need to quickly develop new and unexpected solutions as a result of the pandemic, including government, health care, education and nonprofits.

Stuff

PDFpen 12 Compresses, Magnifies, And More, by Michael E. Cohen, TidBITS

The revised apps offer several new tools and gain advanced compression capabilities aimed at making edited PDFs smaller.

Apple Arcade's New Neversong Game Was Inspired By Developer's Near-death Experience, by Shelby Brown, CNET

Neversong, formerly titled Once Upon a Coma, is an indie game from Serenity Forge. In the side-scroller style puzzle game, you play as young Peet, who, upon waking from a coma, finds himself in a nightmare.

Valve Abandons The macOS Version Of SteamVR, by William Gallagher, AppleInsider

Three years after launching a long-rumored Mac edition, developer and Steam platform manager Valve has announced that it is ceasing support for SteamVR on the Mac. The news, which comes ahead of any VR or Augmented Reality announcements from Apple, was made in a cursory community notification.

Notes

From Cover To Cover: Adventures In Self-publishing, by Dan Moren, Six Colors

For many years, that was the most experience I had with self-publishing, until a couple weeks ago, when I decided to embark upon a new experiment: putting out ebook versions of a couple short stories in the same Galactic Cold War universe as my three novels.

One of the things about being a traditionally published author is that your publisher takes care of the actual production of a book: you hand over a Word doc, they turn it into something that people will actually end up reading. As a result, this experiment meant that I needed to learn some new skills, and find some tools to help me along the way.

The Web's .Org Domain Is Still Run By A Nonprofit—for Now, by Klint Finley, Wired

An organization called Icann, short for Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, handles the internet's address book. It's responsible for making sure that you reach our website when you type wired.com into your browser. But Icann outsources the details to other companies and organizations. One of those is Public Interest Registry, which handles .org domain name registrations, along with .ngo and .ong domains.

PIR in turn is owned by the Internet Society, a non-profit organization founded in 1992 to promote the advancement of the internet. Last November, the Internet Society announced that it would sell PIR to a newly formed for-profit private equity firm called Ethos Capital for $1.1 billion. But the sale required approval by Icann. Thursday evening Icann said it rejected the proposed sale.

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Where are all the low-code apps on iOS and iPadOS?

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Thanks for reading.

The I-Can-See-You Edition Friday, May 1, 2020

'It's Saving My Life': An iPad Is My Dad's Lifeline In Long-term Care During This Pandemic, by Allie Vered, CBC

My brothers and I put our heads together. The only solution was an iPad. The bigger problem was going to be teaching an 87-year-old with deteriorating muscle co-ordination to use it. I prayed a stylus would help.

Soon, with an assist from some friendly staff, my father was finally able to see my mother via FaceTime.

"He was in good spirits," she reported after their first conversation. "He said, 'I'm so excited! I found my book, I can watch the news, and I can see you!'"

Tim Cook Says Austria, Australia Apple Stores To Reopen In 1 To 2 Weeks, by Mark Gurman and Emily Chang, Bloomberg

Apple Inc. Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook said that the company plans to reopen its retail stores in Austria and Australia beginning in the next one to two weeks.

[...]

Cook made the announcement in an interview with Bloomberg’s Emily Chang alongside the release of Apple’s fiscal second-quarter earnings. He also said that he believes that “just a few, not a large number” of stores in the U.S. will re-open in the first half of May.

Hard To See Out The Windshield

In An Unusual Investor Call, Apple Reports Flat Quarterly Earnings Amid COVID-19, by Samuel Axon, Ars Technica

Despite disruptions to both supply and demand caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic, Apple posted $58.3 billion in revenue in its second quarter, eking out 1 percent growth over last year's second quarter.

[...]

CEO Tim Cook spoke optimistically about the company's long-term prospects on a call with investors today, but in a break with common practice, Apple did not provide guidance for the next quarter, citing the inability to predict the pandemic's future impact. "We have great confidence in the long-term of our business," Cook said. "In the short-term, it's hard to see out the windshield to know what the next 60 days look like, and so we're not giving guidance because of that lack of visibility and uncertainty."

Businesses And Education Are Turning To Apple During Coronavirus, by William Gallagher, AppleInsider

"At this time of social distance of shuttered schools and gathering places of delayed plans and new ways of socializing," said Tim Cook, "we have seen significant evidence that our products have taken a renewed importance for our customers. Teachers and students around the world are relying on our technology to teach, learn, and stay connected with each other."

Apple’s Pandemic Stars: Mac, iPad, And Its Big Pile Of Cash, by Jason Snell, Macworld

More broadly, Maestri said that the company feels it’s got a strategic advantage to continue to invest in innovation, products, and the development of its services portfolio. “We will continue to invest in our pipeline,” he said. “We will try to balance the need to continue to invest during difficult circumstances, and the fact that we like to manage the business wisely.”

Apple invested through the 2007 recession and ended up more powerful than ever before at the end of it. Having $83 billion saved away for a rainy day certainly does wonders for one’s confidence during trying times, doesn’t it? I’d imagine Apple will emerge into a post-COVID-19 world as an even bigger player on the scene.

This Is Tim: Transcript Of Apple’s Q2 2020 Financial Call, by Jason Snell, Six Colors

Every quarter, Apple releases its financial results and then executives spent about an hour on a conference call with analysts, making scripted statements and then answering a few handpicked questions. This is a complete transcript of that call.

Stuff

Apple Shares Three New Ads For Its Apple TV+ Streaming Service, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

The ads show clips of Apple’s popular shows and movies, highlighting the celebrity talent and high-budget stories Apple has assembled.

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I, too, have no guidance on what my life will be like in the next few months.

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Thanks for reading.