Archive for August 2023

The Ta-Ta-For-Now Edition Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Here's a simple note to tell you that I'm now taking a sabbatical from updating this little website.

Will this website return? I have two answers.

I want to say I will return. Updating this little website before bedtime gave me solace from the grind of day-to-day stuff. Things come, things go. It's nice, for me, to do something simple, to do something I know how to do.

But, I don't know if I will change my mind. Things come, things go. Except that there are some really big things coming at me right now.

So, for now, I'll say that this website will return on Sunday, Oct 1st, 2023. It's not a promise. I can't promise. But if I change my mind, I'll update this little message.

So, it's goodbye for now, have a good new iPhone day, enjoy the new operating systems, and I hope to see you soon.

The Music-Taste Edition Tuesday, August 8, 2023

What Is Discovery Station In Apple Music?, by Zac Hall, 9to5Mac

Apple Music subscribers are discovering a new station today called, er, Discovery Station. Apple has also updated the animated artwork for [Your name’s] Station in Apple Music to match.


Discovery Station is algorithmically based on a user’s music taste similar to [Your name’s] Station. The key difference with the new station, however, is that it shouldn’t play songs from your library or playlists.

Apple Music Gains New Algorithmic ‘Discovery Station’, by Federico Viticci, MacStories

It’s only been a few hours, but my impression is that Apple sees the “discovery” part of this ‘Discovery Station’ as something fundamentally different from Spotify’s Discover Weekly. Spotify’s popular algorithmic playlist (which refreshes once a week) is generally skewed toward lesser-known acts and recent releases; in the hours I’ve been testing Apple’s new radio station, it seems it’s not afraid to recommend older music from bands I am familiar with and that I wouldn’t consider “niche”, but which I don’t have in my music library either.

Is Apple Now The World’s Biggest Fintech Disruptor?, by Jonny Evans, Computerworld

Since the introduction of Apple Pay in 2014, Apple has expanded its range of financial products. The services it offers now extend beyond payments, and include both long and short term (BNPL) credit, savings, identification, credit rebates, and tools for merchants to take card payments.

For a service that doesn't get a lot of attention, Apple Pay is a strategically important element to the company’s future plans. That’s clear.

Coming Soon?

Apple Testing M3 Max Chip With 16-Core CPU And 40-Core GPU, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

Apple is testing the next-generation M3 Max chip, according to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman. The Apple silicon chip will be a replacement for the M2 Max, and it is set to be used in new MacBook Pro models next year.

Signs of the chip were found by a third-party Mac developer in test logs, and it appears to feature a 40-core GPU and a 16-core CPU with 12 high performance cores and four efficiency cores.


Apple Buys Every 3 Nm Chip That TSMC Can Make For Next-gen iPhones And Macs, by Andrew Cunningham, Ars Technica

It's been rumored for several months now that Apple will be using a new 3 nm manufacturing process from Taiwan Semiconductor (TSMC) for its next-generation chips, including M3 series processors for Macs and the A17 Bionic for some next-gen iPhones. But new reporting from The Information illuminates some of the favorable terms that Apple has secured to keep its costs down: Apple places huge chip orders worth billions of dollars, and in return, TSMC eats the cost of defective processor dies.

Apple, Samsung To Invest In Arm As It Eyes September IPO, by Masayuki Shikata and Akira Yamashita, Nikkei Asia

SoftBank Group's British chip design unit, Arm, plans to float its shares in an initial public offering on the Nasdaq in September, Nikkei has learned. The unit's market capitalization by that time is expected to be more than $60 billion, which would make the deal the world's biggest initial public offering so far this year.

SoftBank will officially apply to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for the listing later this month. Then it must obtain approval from Nasdaq. Leading global chipmakers, including Apple, Samsung Electronics, Nvidia and Intel, will invest in Arm as soon as the company is listed on the market.

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I see the new Discovery Station in my Apple Music now. I'll going discover new music tonight.

Or maybe revive some old music too.


Thanks for reading.

The Bells-and-Whistles Edition Monday, August 7, 2023

Apple Admits There Is A Smartphone Slowdown Ahead Of iPhone 15 Debut, by Mark Gurman, Bloomberg

After reporting sluggish iPhone sales on Thursday, sending Apple stock sliding, the company disclosed that “the smartphone market has been in a decline for the last couple of quarters in the United States.”


Normally, the iPhone 15’s bells and whistles would be similarly enticing. The Pro model includes borders around the display that are one-third thinner, a titanium frame that feels lighter and more premium than the current stainless-steel design, big camera improvements, a USB-C charging port, and a much faster processor.

But the sales prospects of the new iPhone won’t hinge on features alone. Apple will have to work harder to coax shoppers into opening their wallets.


The Beats Go On: Apple Subsidiary Releases Studio Pro Headphones, Studio Buds+ Earbuds, by Julio Ojeda-Zapata, TidBITS

Some pine for premium headphones with Apple capabilities yet blanch at the AirPod Max’s high price tag. Beats has a huge base of fans, many of whom have bided their time for flagship cans to replace the aging Studio³ model. Now the Studio Pro headphones await, complete with their USB-C wired playback option.

Others crave earbuds that offer the best feature set for the money. Only on the Beats side will you find capabilities like active noise cancellation and transparency mode at mid-level pricing. Style matters to some, too. The translucent Studio Buds+ are a refreshing change from the tiresomely white AirPods.

Callsheet Provides Movie And TV Details With An Uncluttered Native Interface, by John Voorhees, MacStories

Callsheet is designed for those times that you want to know more about the people behind a movie or TV show but find the ads in apps and on websites, like IMDb, frustrating. If that resonates with you, and you’re not interested in tracking what you’ve watched, Callsheet offers a better experience for finding cast and crew information.


Why Thread Is Matter’s Biggest Problem Right Now, by Jennifer Pattison Tuohy, The Verge

But the biggest issue is the inability of the major platforms to get their act together and agree on how to implement one of Thread’s biggest benefits: a shared mesh network that any border router from any manufacturer can join to provide you with a robust, fail-safe, local smart home network.

This failure is not purely technical; it’s mostly political. The CSA and the Thread Group have left it up to the platforms and device manufacturers to figure out how to share this powerful new network in your home.

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One last reminder: I'll be taking a sabbatical soon. I'm still deciding, but I'll probably time my break from this website around the launch of the new iPhones.

Meanwhile, you may see this website not being updated on certain days.

Thanks for reading and understanding.

The Get-Out-in-Three-Years Edition Sunday, August 6, 2023

Pac-12, Apple Deal Was $23M Per School But Hope Remained To Secure It: Sources, by Stewart Mandel, The Athletic

According to three people with knowledge of the terms, Apple offered the members a five-year deal with an annual base rate of $23 million per school (a subsequent counteroffer lifted it to $25 million), with incentives based on projected subscribers to a Pac-12 streaming product akin to Apple’s MLS League Pass.

At 1.7 million subscribers, the per-school payout would match the $31.7 million average that Big 12 schools will reportedly receive from ESPN and Fox beginning in 2025. But Kliavkoff encouraged the room to think much bigger — at 5 million subscribers, the schools would eclipse $50 million per year, closer to the deep-pocketed SEC and Big Ten than the ACC or Big 12.


“(The Apple deal) was not the deal that we had been discussing just days before, and it was not going to secure (our future),” Washington president Ana Mari Cauce told reporters Saturday. “When you have a deal that people are saying one of the best aspects of it is, ‘you can get out in (three) years,’ that tells you a lot.”

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I don't have much to say today, so, just a simple thank you for reading.

The Murkier-Dividends Edition Saturday, August 5, 2023

Apple TV+ Is On A Scripted-Series Hot Streak. Are People Paying Attention?, by Ben Lindbergh and Rob Arthur, The Ringer

Apple TV+ has compiled quite a library of scripted originals less than four years after its November 2019 launch. Awards have followed, too [...] Apple’s pursuit of quality scripted content—delivered primarily via big-budget shows and films filled with stacked, marquee casts and deluxe visuals—has paid off in prestige, but the dividends in viewership, subscriptions, and revenue are murkier.


If Apple pulls back on its HBO ambitions, it “would actually be bad news” for content creators, ESG says, “because then you have a person who’s spending just tons of money, and they’re bailing out of the market.” It would also be bad news for many television viewers, who’d rather have Apple make great TV than make even more money.

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Can Apple TV+ weather the current Hollywood strikes? Will Apple lower the subscription price when the monthly output drops back down? Or is Apple already making more deals (not that we've heard of them) outside of U.S.?


Thanks for reading.

The Mixed-Bag Edition Friday, August 4, 2023

iPhone Sales Are Down, But Apple’s Subscriptions Are Growing Fast, by Samuel Axon, Ars Technica

Apple posted its third-quarter earnings for 2023, and they were a bit of a mixed bag. Overall, the company beat the expectations of analysts who were predicting things would be grimmer, but hardware revenue was down compared to last year.

Almost all of Apple's hardware product categories sold less this quarter than they did in the same quarter in 2022.

Apple Surpasses 1 Billion Paid Subscriptions As Active Devices Are Double That, by Michael Potuck, 9to5Mac

Now the company has achieved a major milestone, more than 1 billion paid subscriptions, fueling another all-time services revenue record as active Apple devices also hit a record high.

This Is Tim: Apple’s Q3 2023 Analyst Call, Transcribed, by Six Colors

"Apple remains a champion of innovation, a company fueled by boundless creativity, driven by a deep sense of mission, and guided by the unshakable belief that a great idea can change the world. Looking ahead, we’ll continue to manage for the long term, always pushing the limits of what’s possible and always putting the customer at the center of everything we do."


Seven Tips For Eliminating Inbox Addiction, by The Sweet Setup

Of all the things you can do to make your inbox more calm, the biggest thing BY FAR is to eliminate what I call the Just Checks.

The Just Checks are all the times when you’re not quite sure what to do, so you reach for your phone to “just check” social media. Or “just check” your messages. Or “just check” your email.


Apple, Samsung Halt India Laptop Imports After Sudden Curbs, by Sankalp Phartiyal, Bloomberg

Regulators on Thursday surprised the world’s biggest PC makers when they made licenses mandatory for import of electronics from small tablets to all-in-one PCs without a license. Laptop makers had been bracing for some government measures aimed at reducing reliance on imports and boosting local production, but the sudden licensing imposition caught the industry off-guard, people familiar with the matter said, declining to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue.

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I'll be winding down for a sabbatical soon. In fact, as you can probably tell, the winding-down has already started. :-)


Thanks for reading.

The Circle-Scene Edition Thursday, August 3, 2023

Creating Podcast Video With A 360-degree Camera, by Jason Snell, Six Colors

Recently, the podcasters of The Incomparable got together in person and one of the things we did was exactly what you’d expect podcasters to do—we made podcasts. Given the unique situation of us being in the same room together, I decided to see if I could capture the podcasts on video, too.

The challenge is that I didn’t want to set up a bunch of cameras. I didn’t want the addition of video to be too invasive. For years now, I’ve imagined the video version of a podcast happening around a table as looking like the circle scene from “That ’70s Show.” A single camera at the center of the table can shoot the entire conversation.

Apple Spotlights Global Fintech Ambitions With ‘Pay The Apple Way’ Campaign, by Jessica Deyo, Marketing Dive

Apple is doubling down on its fintech ambitions with “Pay the Apple Way,” spotlighting the no-hassle framework of its Pay feature via an expansive campaign that could help market additional payment tools from the company that were unveiled earlier this year. Among the new features is a high-yield savings account for Apple Card users, announced in April, which has since reached over $10 billion in deposits. Apple also began rolling out its buy now, pay later program in March.

“Pay the Apple Way” is meant to present a solution to the inconveniences of traditional money-dealing like carrying around a bulky wallet, struggling to find the right card and feeling concerned about privacy. Apple is flexing the ease of its Pay feature, which allows payments to be made directly from an Apple device, with a DOOH experience that’s being billed as both dynamic and immersive, per release details. The ads will appear across prominent street and mall placements in London, Birmingham and Manchester in the UK along with Atlanta and Dallas in the U.S., touting straight-forward messages like “Your watch is your wallet” and “Pay the secure way.”

Apple's High-yield Savings Account Hits Over $10 Billion In Customer Deposits, by Reuters

Apple’s high-yield savings account offered by its partner Goldman Sachs has reached over $10 billion in customer deposits, the technology giant said on Wednesday.


Apple's Vision Pro Developer Labs Not Drawing Many Attendees, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

According to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, the developer labs have been “under-filled with small amounts of developers.” One issue is that Apple is not offering U.S. developer labs outside of Cupertino, which means any developer that wants to try the Vision Pro must travel to Apple’s headquarters in California.

India Restricts Import Of Laptop, Computers To Push Local Manufacturing, by Aftab Ahmed, Munsif Vengattil and Shivangi Acharya, Reuters

India on Thursday said it will impose a licensing requirement for imports of laptops, tablets and personal computers with immediate effect, a move that could hit hard the likes of Apple, Dell and Samsung and force them to boost local manufacturing.

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Speaking of The 70's Show, I do miss a good sitcom with real audiences watching in front of a stage. Yes, I do know, no matter how real the audience is, there are still fake-ish laughters, and the show is not recorded in real time with a single take. But I long for something that can rival shows like Cheers and Friends.

Oh well. Time has changed.


I am close to doing what Jason Kottke did for his blog: a sabbatical. It will be a different kind of sabbatical over here on this little website, and it may start anytime without any announcements. Don't be surprised. Don't panic. Time will tell.


Thanks for reading.

The Scene-Description Edition Wednesday, August 2, 2023

Apple Has Joined Pixar’s Push To Standardize 3D Content Creation, by Emma Roth and Jess Weatherbed, The Verge

Apple, Adobe, Pixar, Nvidia, and Autodesk are teaming up to promote open standards for the creation of 3D content. In a press release, the companies announced the formation of the Alliance for OpenUSD, which will drive the “standardization, development, evolution, and growth” of Pixar’s Universal Scene Description (USD) technology.


Twelve South Launches More Affordable Curve SE Stand For Mac Notebooks, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

Popular accessory maker Twelve South today announced the launch of the Curve SE, an aluminum multi-piece stand that builds on the original Curve MacBook Stand.

Read-it-later App Pocket To Shut Down Its Mac App On August 15th, by Sarah Perez, TechCrunch

Mozilla’s Pocket, a popular read-it-later app that lets you save online articles to read when you have more time, announced today it’s retiring its Mac app, Pocket for Mac. The app will be replaced with the Pocket iOS app for Apple Silicon Macs instead — meaning those models introduced in late 2020 and later. The changes will go into effect on Tuesday, August 15th.

Mophie's 3-in-1 Travel Charger With MagSafe Returns To Apple Store, by Mitchel Broussard, MacRumors

Mophie has resolved the intermittent charging issues plaguing its 3-in-1 Travel Charger with MagSafe, and the accessory is now once again available to purchase on Apple and ZAGG’s websites.

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It sure looks like iPad apps is the future of cross-platform apps: Write once, run on iPadOS, macOS, and visionOS.


Thanks for reading.

The Fair-Suspicion Edition Tuesday, August 1, 2023

The Fix Is In, by Nick Heer, Pixel Envy

Barring evidence proving otherwise, I am not convinced Apple’s final software calibration step is some kind of evil manoeuvre to subvert repairs and kneecap its products. Framing it in those terms is a distraction from effective right-to-repair activism. I am not someone who believes Apple cannot do bad things; any regular reader is well aware of that. But I do believe these kinds of motivations demand proof beyond typical and fair suspicion of big corporations.


Agenda 18.0.1, by Agen Schmitz, TidBITS

Momenta has issued version 18 of Agenda, adding password support to the date-focused note-taking app. Premium subscribers can now lock the entire app, individual notes, or whole projects to prevent unauthorized viewing, and they can be unlocked using Touch ID, Face ID, an Apple Watch, or a privacy password. The release adds sort options for the notes list, enabling grouping of notes by project or color and sorting by assigned date, creation date, edited date, or title.

Bentos Is A New App That Lets You Design And Share Your Own Apple Store Displays, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

If you’ve ever found yourself wanting to experiment with Apple Store designs and create your own, Bentos is a new iPhone and iPad app that offers just that. Created by Michael Steeber, Bentos lets you “quickly visualize virtually any Apple Store Avenue bay.”

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When I am all stressed up (or when I am very sad), I cannot sleep properly. Last night, my usual method of listening to podcasts to lure my brain to sleep didn't work at all.


Thanks for reading.