The Up-and-Down-the-Income-Ladder Edition Friday, December 17, 2021

Smartphones Are A New Tax On The Poor, by Julia Ticona, Wired

Science fiction author William Gibson famously said that the future is already here, it’s just not very evenly distributed. Smartphones and on-the-go internet access have made many of our working lives more efficient and flexible. But the requirement for constant connectivity isn’t only a fact of white-collar work—it has spread to workers up and down the income ladder. And while the requirement has spread, the resources that workers need to maintain it are not evenly distributed. Today, more than a quarter of low-income Americans depend solely on their phones for internet access. Amid historic levels of income inequality, phones and data plans have become an increasingly costly burden on those who have the least to spare.

Swift Playgrounds 4.0: First Look, by John Voorhees, MacStories

The app is not as capable as Xcode. Still, with support for Swift 5.5, live previewing of the app you’re building as you code, multiwindowing, access to SwiftUI, UIKit, the ability to move projects between Swift Playgrounds and Xcode, and more, the app has an enormous amount of potential waiting to be tapped.

The Internet Runs On Free Open-source Software. Who Pays To Fix It?, by Patrick Howell O'Neill, MIT Technology Review

The underfunding of open-source software is “a systemic risk to the United States, to critical infrastructure, to banking, to finance,” says Chris Wysopal, chief technology officer at the security firm Veracode. “The open-source ecosystem is up there in importance to critical infrastructure with Linux, Windows, and the fundamental internet protocols. These are the top systemic risks to the internet.”

How has it come to this? The answer comes in the form of another question: Why would tech companies pay for something they get for free? But the immense importance of open-source software means that the status quo is increasingly seen as untenable.

Hey Siri, Don't Make It Bad

Apple Music Voice Plan First Listen: Equal Parts Fun And Frustration, by Tamara Palmer, Macworld

If you try to play a full song in Apple Music with the new Voice Plan by tapping on it in the app, you’ll get a warning that you need to ask Siri to play it instead. Whether or not you’ll actually hear the song you want is another question entirely.

The Apple Music Voice Plan Is A Small Step Toward An iPhone-less Future, by Michael Simon, Macworld

As you can read in our testing of the new voice plan, Siri still has a long way to go. If Apple’s AR headset project is indeed launching next year, Siri is going to need to mature quickly, because it’s just not ready to do the things we’re going to need it to do. Asking multiple times to play a song is one thing, but more advanced tasks will need Siri to have a greater level of understanding of context and personality.

But for now, Apple Music Voice is a perfectly low-stakes testing ground. Whether it succeeds or unceremoniously disappears after a couple of years, Apple’s new service is providing a sneak peek at a world where all of our devices will be connected and hands-free.


Pixelmator Photo For iPhone: First Impressions, by John Voorhees, MacStories

My time with Pixelmator Photo on the iPhone has been limited, but I got up to speed with it quickly because so much of the app is familiar. Functionality has been moved around to accommodate the smaller screen, but it’s all there. I didn’t have any trouble finding the tools I wanted. It’s an impressive feat to pack so much onto an iPhone.

MusicHarbor Now Lets Users Easily Follow Artists With Shazam Integration, by Filipe Espósito, 9to5Mac

MusicHarbor is an app designed to let users follow their favorite artists so they can stay informed about new songs, music videos, and concerts. Now the app has been updated with a great new feature that will make it even easier to follow artists – integration with Shazam.

Keyboard Maestro Review: Conduct Repetitive Tasks On Your Mac With Ease, by Glenn Fleishman, Macworld

Computers should perform repetitive actions on our behalf, freeing us for higher-level work. Yet the insistence of operating systems and apps on making us carry out mind- and finger-numbing jobs has given rise to a varied category of utilities that automate operations. Keyboard Maestro has occupied a big swath of that niche since 2002. Its latest update, version 10, shipped in November 2021 with dozens of new features large and small.

The Best Apps To Turn Your iPhone Into A Document Scanner, by Mike Peterson, AppleInsider

Even in the era of working from home, many people likely don't have a traditional scanner in their home office. If you fall into that camp, these apps can probably save you from needing to buy one.

Eve Flare Review: Colorful HomeKit Smart Light That Goes Anywhere, by Karen S Freeman, iMore

It's portable, has IP65 water resistance, and boasts over six hours of battery life, so you're not limited to using it indoors or near an outlet.


Apple Builds New Team In Southern California To Bring More Wireless Chips In-House, by Mark Gurman, Bloomberg

Apple Inc. is hiring engineers for a new office in Southern California to develop wireless chips that could eventually replace components supplied by Broadcom Inc. and Skyworks Solutions Inc.

Bottom of the Page

Today in interesting error messages:

"The decoder required for this media is busy."

(Apple Music, on my iPhone, when trying to play a music video.)


Updated all my devices. iPhone. iPad. Mac mini to the latest operating system. Nothing is breaking yet.


Thanks for reading.