The Heart-of-the-Public-Image Edition Monday, April 3, 2023

Tim Cook On Shaping The Future Of Apple, by Zach Baron, GQ

He is not a leader who is drawn to crisis or conflict, two climates his predecessor, Steve Jobs, seemed to at times thrive in. “I try not to let the urgent take over the day,” Cook says. Regular meetings, different standing engagements with different parts of the company. He likes to ask questions. “I’m curious, and I’m curious about how things work,” he says. He does this not to intimidate, though there is perhaps a standard, an expectation of those working for him, lurking there as well: “If something’s really shallow, you find that people can’t explain it very well.” Like Jobs once did, he sometimes takes meetings on the move, walking around the campus. Most days, he leaves the office at 6:30 or 7 p.m. The overall sensation he attempts to impart is one of normalcy, of proportion, despite the fact that most days, Apple, which employs about 165,000 people, is the most valuable company in the world.


Under the banner of privacy, Apple has also forbidden companies who use their App Store to direct users out of the Apple ecosystem in order to collect money from them, even as Apple takes a commission on the transactions that happen within the store. Recently, Apple’s prohibition on what is called “sideloading” has drawn scrutiny from governments all over the world, on the grounds that the practice is anticompetitive. Cook dismisses this critique. “The App Store we developed was about creating a trusted place where developers and users could come together in a two-sided transaction,” Cook says. “And in order for that to happen, in order for the trust to be on the consumer side, we think privacy and security are vital. And otherwise, people don’t come to a store if they begin to think that their credit cards can be ripped off, if they begin to think their data can be ripped off. And if you run a different play in a world which had sideloading, what we believe is you wind up degrading the trust and confidence of users in a significant way. You begin having all these security and privacy issues.”

Perhaps you think this is unconvincing; perhaps you believe every word. But Cook has been uncommonly successful at placing values—the idea that Apple is about more than products, more than share price—at the heart of the public image of the company. Three years ago, Apple announced its intention to be carbon neutral throughout its supply chain by 2030. This announcement, in itself, represented a fundamental change in Apple’s DNA. “We are a secretive company,” Cook says. “We like to hold what we do to ourselves until it’s time to come out and talk about it. But we’ve rewired ourselves on the values side. And so now, think about the environment—we talk about what we’re going to look like in 2030. We talk about our road maps to get there. We kind of want those items to be stolen.” Cook does a lot of this work with Jackson. “I met with a lot of CEOs in my day,” Jackson says about her time heading the EPA. “And they all wanted to know what they had to do to make me go away. Occasionally, they wanted me to write a rule that would help them make more money. Or at least make them not lose money. And I respect all of that. But I think he’s been incredible in bringing to this task this idea that this is an all-of-Apple endeavor to really figure out how to be, like he always says, a ripple in the pond.”


Why Can’t More Music Apps Be Like Apple Music Classical?, by Alex Cranz, The Verge

While classical music certainly has a need for a vast array of metadata, I like to think most other music does, too. People like to listen to the works of a single producer, and when they search for Stephen Sondheim, they should be able to just see all the musicals he composed as neatly as I can see all the works of Antonín Dvořák in Music Classical.


Apple is foisting spatial audio upon us, and Spotify is trying to get us to care about podcasts, and YouTube Music is quick to give us a video and remind us of its origins in the main app. But Music Classical remembers that a lot of us are giant nerds, and we just want to go down rabbit holes with our faves.

Your iPhone Has A Free Built-in Plant Identifier You Probably Didn't Know About – It Might Be Apple's Best Secret Feature, by Lilith Hudson, Livingetc

Dubbed 'Visual Look Up' by Apple, it's supported on all models of the iPhone from the SE 2nd generation and later. The technology works by identifying the visual image of a flower, shrub, or insect and telling you the official name of that specific wildlife, allowing you to plan your landscaping ideas like a pro.


Spotify Downplays HomePod Support, But Promises To Add AirPlay 2 Yet Again, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

In 2019, Spotify accused Apple of anticompetitive behavior in a complaint filed in the EU. Alongside the complaint, Spotify launched a “Time to Play Fair” website that lists alleged examples of Apple’s unfair practices, including preventing Spotify from natively supporting the HomePod. Yet, nearly three years after Spotify has been able to support the HomePod without any further action from Apple, it has yet to follow through.

Spotify has repeatedly promised to update its iPhone and iPad app with AirPlay 2 support, but it has failed to deliver so far. AirPlay 2 launched in 2018 with enhancements to the original AirPlay protocol, including multi-room audio and improved buffering.

The Rest Of The Auto Industry Still Loves CarPlay And Android Auto, by Andrew J. Hawkins, The Verge

The rest of the auto industry gets it. The Verge reached out to all the major automakers to see if any were planning on following GM in ditching CarPlay and Android Auto, and unsurprisingly, none have responded in the affirmative.

All Mixed Up: How The Shuffle Button Came To Define Modern-day Media Consumption., by Natalie Weiner, The Verge

Shuffle satisfied the human attraction to novelty and surprise. With randomness, there is possibility: it makes sense, then, that the first literal shuffle buttons were on ’70s-era handheld blackjack games for shuffling the virtual deck. When you put a playlist, or your library, on shuffle, you might get lucky and hear exactly the thing you want to hear with the added satisfaction of not knowing it was coming.

It’s also just easier. “Eliminating the need for choice, yet guaranteeing familiarity, it relieves you of the burden of desire itself,” wrote Simon Reynolds of the shuffle function in his book Retromania. The logical extreme of shuffle-as-innovation came with the 2005 iPod Shuffle, Apple’s budget MP3 player, which (despite its name) would play all a user’s music in order or on shuffle by default because it lacked a screen and thus the capacity for a user to select which music it would play.

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The hobby project that I am working on… still working on, is all about shuffling.

I do like the shuffle button.


Thanks for reading.