The Spark-a-Conversation Edition Tuesday, February 1, 2022

On Photo Sharing, by Mike Rockwell, Initial Charge

As an experiment, I started sharing photos with individual people, privately, over iMessage. I wouldn’t send them a whole collection of photos, just one at a time here and there. And what I found is that when you send an individual person a photo privately, you actually spark a conversation. You end up relating the photo to something that you did when you were a child or reminiscing about when you and the other person traveled to that location years ago.

The Age Of Intimacy Famine: When We Interact With Our Phones Rather Than Our Loved Ones, by Michelle Drouin, The Guardian

As modern life has grown more distanced through technological innovation, our opportunities for deep, intimate moments have dwindled. The pandemic has only exacerbated this trend, prohibiting or impeding many types of friendly and professional touch and sending many of us deeper into our online worlds.

This has left many of us starving. We’ve entered an intimacy famine.

On Health

Older Adults Are More Likely To Meet Fitness Goals, According To New Apple Watch Data, by Jessica Rendall, CNET

An early analysis of more than 18 million workouts logged using Apple Watch during the pandemic revealed that older adults ages 65 and up were more likely than younger adults to meet their goal of at least 150 active minutes per week. Participants in the study, conducted in partnership with Brigham and Women's Hospital and the American Heart Association, clocked the most activity minutes through walking, cycling and running.

Apple Celebrates Heart Month With Apple Watch Challenge, Fitness Apps, Books, More, by José Adorno, 9to5Mac

To mark Heart Month, the company is offering custom compilations across Apple Fitness+, the App Store, the Apple TV app, Apple Podcasts, and Apple Books.

How My Smartwatch Hijacked My Relationship With My Body, by Lindsay Crouse, New York Times

But does this constant monitoring of our vital signs truly yield better health? There’s no clear answer yet. One study found that people trying to lose weight who used wearable technology to help actually lost less weight than their watch-free counterparts. A review in the American Journal of Medicine found “little indication that wearable devices provide a benefit for health outcomes.” Another issue is that the measuring abilities of wearables are imperfect for some metrics.

I also worry that the safety-net sales pitch ignores one major downside to all this quantification: It can interfere with our ability to know our own bodies. Once you outsource your well-being to a device and convert it into a number, it stops being yours. The data stands in for self-awareness. We let a gadget tell us when and how to move, when we’re tired, when we’re hungry.

On Security

What Apple's ' #123456' Verification Code Means, by Glenn Fleishman, Macworld

Apple proposed in August 2020 that it would support “domain-bound codes” for logins. This kind of code requires sites make a slight addition to the text messages used for verification codes. The incoming message has to provide a destination domain and some other data. Apple said that this change would improve the integrity of its operating systems offering to autofill the code via a suggestion in the QuickType bar in iOS and iPadOS and a drop-down value in macOS Safari and other macOS apps that take advantage of this feature.

On App Stores

An App Developer’s Lawsuit Over Rejections And Scammers Is Allowed To Proceed, Judge Rules, by Sarah Perez, TechCrunch

A lawsuit over App Store abuses has been given the green light to proceed, at least on some fronts. The case, filed in California’s Superior Court in Santa Clara County last March, hails from app developer and former Pinterest engineer Kosta Eleftheriou, who claims his keyboard app FlickType was initially unfairly rejected from Apple’s App Store, then later targeted by scammers once approved, leading to lost revenues.

Big Tech Increases Funding To US Foreign Policy Think-tanks, by Kiran Stacey, Financial Times

The world’s largest technology companies are pouring money into the biggest foreign policy think-tanks in the US, as they seek to advance the argument that stricter competition rules will benefit China.


The former officials argued against the competition bills going through Congress, saying they would put Chinese companies such as Huawei and Tencent “in a better position to assume global pre-eminence”. Their letter used very similar language to that in a white paper released by the Computer and Communications Industry Association at the same time, which warned about the risk of stricter regulation.


How To Fix Overnight MacBook Battery Drain In macOS Monterey 12.2, by Roman Loyola, Macworld

Users have found that turning off Bluetooth allows the Mac to stay in sleep mode and preserve battery life. This can be a stopgap solution until Apple fixes the problem with an update.

Beats Fit Pro Review: Apple’s Workout-ready AirPods Pro Rivals, by Samuel Gibbs, The Guardian

They sound good, have effective noise-cancelling and solid battery life. The spatial audio virtual surround sound system is really great with Apple gear and some of the smart features are available on Android, too.

They are small and don’t have stalks. The wing design keeps them locked in place but can take some fiddling to get comfortable. The charging case is a bit larger than I would like but still pocketable.

CleanShot X Utility For Mac Adds New Quick Controls, Blur Options, More, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

CleanShot X is one of our favorite Mac utilities, adding an array of powerful features for screen capture and recording on Mac. Following a major update to the app in December, CleanShot X has been updated to version 4.1, with improved recording features, a new blur option for private information, and more.

FlipKit Helps You Create Flipbooks On An iPad Using Just Your Finger, by Oliver Haslam, iMore

I couldn't draw even if my life depended on it — but that doesn't stop me from trying. So it's no surprise that my interest was piqued when I was told about an iPad app that lets you create digital flipbooks. And now I'm telling you about it, too.

Pinterest Will Let You Use AR To Preview Furniture From Walmart, West Elm, And More, by Mitchell Clark, The Verge

Pinterest is adding a “Try On for Home Decor” feature to its app, letting you see furniture from stores like Crate & Barrel, CB2, Walmart, West Elm, and Wayfair in your house through the power of augmented reality.

Review: Charge Eight Devices At Once With This MagSafe Charger From Anker, by Christine Chan, iMore

Not only is this a MagSafe charger for your iPhone 12 or iPhone 13 device, but it is also an 8-in-1 power strip. That's right — you can charge your favorite iPhone and almost anything else, with this one product.


Apple Was A Smart-speaker Laggard, But Its Strategy Is Working, by Jared Newman, Fast Company

What Apple has created, in other words, is the kind of ecosystem stickiness that has eluded its rivals, and it did so by maintaining its original focus on music. From Apple’s point of view, the HomePod’s otherwise limited features and lack of third-party voice skills may be a benefit rather than a hinderance, especially if it leads to more Apple Music and Apple One subscriptions.

Tumblr Is Everything, by Kaitlyn Tiffany, The Atlantic

Three thousand miles away, a floppy-haired 20-year-old named David Karp—Zuckerberg’s non-evil twin—was building something different. Whereas Facebook aimed to bring everyone and their mother online, Tumblr was the opposite: an online underground, a place where your mother, in particular, would never see you. The platform was optimized for secrets and for pseudonyms, which meant it was for art and confession and porn. It had no public follower or friend counts, no comment sections, and no requirements that users provide real names. If you didn’t like what you’d put out there, or you weren’t sure of the connections you’d built, you could start over, try something else, no explanation needed.

What Was The TED Talk?, by Oscar Schwartz, The Drift

Of course, Gates’s popular and well-shared TED talk — viewed millions of times — didn’t alter the course of history. Neither did any of the other “ideas worth spreading” (the organization’s tagline) presented at the TED conference that year — including Monica Lewinsky’s massively viral speech about how to stop online bullying through compassion and empathy, or a Google engineer’s talk about how driverless cars would make roads smarter and safer in the near future. In fact, seven years after TED 2015, it feels like we are living in a reality that is the exact opposite of the future envisioned that year. A president took office in part because of his talent for online bullying. Driverless cars are nowhere near as widespread as predicted, and those that do share our roads keep crashing. Covid has killed five million people and counting.

At the start of the pandemic, I noticed people sharing Gates’s 2015 talk. The general sentiment was one of remorse and lamentation: the tech-prophet had predicted the future for us! If only we had heeded his warning! I wasn’t so sure. It seems to me that Gates’s prediction and proposed solution are at least part of what landed us here. I don’t mean to suggest that Gates’s TED talk is somehow directly responsible for the lack of global preparedness for Covid. But it embodies a certain story about “the future” that TED talks have been telling for the past two decades — one that has contributed to our unending present crisis.

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So, The New York Times purchased Wordle...

Maybe Apple should now go out and buy The New York Times to beef up Apple News+ and Apple Arcade. Two birds with one stone...



Thanks for reading.