January 17, 2017


The city with the lowest relative cost of living in the world is Thiruvananthapuram, India.

That’s according to rankings published by data company Numbeo. The company continuously updates its data and just published its Cost of Living Index Rate for 2017. The list is calculated relative to New York City, which has an index of 100. If a city has a cost of living index of 130, it is 30 percent more expensive than New York; if a city has an index of 70, it is 30 percent less expensive.

Thiruvananthapuram has a rating of 19.83. A 1-bedroom apartment in the center of the coastal city costs as little as $89 per month to rent.

Interesting list. There aren’t many places in the bottom half I’d actually want to live in though.


Under the guidance of its head of content, Larry Jackson, 35, it’s signing the biggest names in music—including Drake, Frank Ocean, and Taylor Swift—to exclusive deals, and flying right in the face of the old-world labels to do so. Apple has established its own radio station, Beats 1, and poached Zane Lowe, 43, from BBC Radio 1 to serve as its leading personality. And it has Bozoma Saint John, 39, who ran music and entertainment marketing at Pepsi and reportedly brokered Beyoncé’s 2013 Super Bowl performance, to explain what Apple Music is for the masses who have never shelled out for a streaming subscription.

If Apple Music seems freewheeling, that’s because it is. It’s laying out a future for the music industry, but right now, the path ahead is murky. The company is seemingly figuring things out as it goes—a far cry, metaphorically speaking, from the perfectly designed rectangle of the iPod. Unlike Steve Jobs, Jackson, Lowe, and Saint John aren’t designers—they’re plucked directly from the entertainment industry. Fittingly, it’s a new kind of leadership for the next chapter of music history.

From a music industry perspective, what Apple is attempting to do is extraordinarily messy and difficult and mostly out of their control.

Hope this isn’t the closest we come to the real thing.

Note that you can do this in both iOS and macOS. On macOS, tap the Details button (upper right corner) on an individual thread to reveal the Send Read Receipts checkbox.

This is an old tip, but a worthy post. I’ve switched my iPhone over to the actual signal strength display. I find it much more useful.

Below is Nintendo’s public presentation of their new console, the Nintendo Switch. If time is limited, jump to about 38 minutes in, where the real stuff starts.

And read the linked Washington Post piece, which does a good job highlighting the important features.

Hoping the Switch is better than the WiiU.

First things first: Sine qua non is defined as “an indispensable and essential action, condition, or ingredient.”

Jean-Louis Gassée, Monday Note:

Much has been said about the original iPhone’s success factors: an innovative multi-touch interface, a never-seen-before combination of cell phone, iPod and Internet “navigator”. All good, but missing one crucial element: removing the carrier’s control on the iPhone’s features and content.

Steve Jobs did what only he could do, get AT&T to give up control:

Before the iPhone, handsets received the same treatment as containers of yogurt in a supermarket chain. The central purchasing office told the yogurt makers which flavors to ship, when, where, at what price, with payment at some point in the future after we’re sure there are no more returns. And don’t forget to send your people to make sure the labels line up on the shelves.


This was anathema to Jobs, himself notoriously control-hungry. He wasn’t going to allow mere carriers to control what the iPhone did and contained.

Read the post. As usual, Jean-Louis delivers the goods.

Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac:

Apple is rising the prices for apps and in-app purchases in a few countries following changes to exchange rates and taxation policy, with customers in India, Turkey and the United Kingdom to see price increases.

In the United Kingdom, one of Apple’s largest markets, app prices are rising up more than 25% following the weak pound exchange rate after the Brexit vote. An app sold for $0.99 in the US will now cost £0.99 in the UK, up from £0.79.

That is an increase of about 25% and similar rises will be seen at every price tier when the changes hit the App Store in the coming days. A Tier 2 priced app now costs £1.99 in the UK up from £1.49. An In-App Purchase that previously cost £7.99 will now be priced at £9.99, like the ‘All Worlds’ upgrade for Super Mario Run.

Interesting post. Read the comments. This obviously runs much deeper than an App Store price rise.

January 16, 2017

The new year is underway and we’ve opened up sponsorships for the first couple of months. If you want to get your product or service in front of The Loop readers, this is the only way to do it. Weekly sponsorships are exclusive, so you’ll be the only sponsor on the site. We have some great pricing to kick off the new year as well, so check it out.

Shortest path to getting AirPods

If you head onto Apple’s online store and tap through to the Apple AirPods page, you’ll find (at least in the US) something like this:


Note the ship schedule, 6 weeks out. From today, that’d be February 27th. A long, long wait.

But. Word is, Best Buy is shipping AirPods within 3 days from ordering.

There’s this tweet. And this one.

If you go on the Best Buy site, the ship date is March 7th. No inherent promise that they’ll ship in 3 days. But given the experience of others, might be a path to consider.

How the inventor of Mario, Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto, designs a game

If you are at all a fan of Mario, Zelda, Donkey Kong, etc., this is time well spent. I love the fact that you get to see Shigeru at his desk, pen in hand, drawing out genius.

For background, start with this post from last Thursday, which digs in to a Wall Street Journal report that Apple has big plans for original TV and movie content.

Jimmy Iovine added more, speaking to reporters. From the Hollywood Reporter:

“If South Park walks into my office, I am not going to say you’re not musicians, you know?” Iovine continued when pressed about the report. “We’re going to do whatever hits popular culture smack on the nose. We’re going to try.”


Iovine said the hope for Apple is that it will be better able to compete with streaming music competitors like Spotify and Pandora, which are largely free for users: “We’re fighting ‘free.’ So a simple utility where, ‘here’s all the songs, here’s all the music, give me $10 and we’re cool,’ is not going to scale.”

Interesting point. Apple is fighting free, needs to raise the value of their offering to make Apple Music a compelling value.

January 15, 2017

Apple’s new ads focus on the AirPod

Apple: “Feel the magic of AirPods on iPhone 7”


A circus without elephants might be more humane, but apparently it’s far less enticing.

The owners of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus said they will permanently end their 146-year-old show this spring. “The Greatest Show on Earth” saw a steep decline in ticket sales after removing elephants from performances in May 2016.

“After much evaluation and deliberation, my family and I have made the difficult business decision that Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey will hold its final performances in May of this year,” Kenneth Feld, chairman and CEO of Feld Entertainment, said in a Jan. 13 statement.

This makes the kid in me very sad (I still remember the first circus I ever saw as a little kid in Nova Scotia) but the adult is happy the animals will no longer be forced to perform.


On Friday, Facebook’s Oculus launched a 360-video version of the tour on its social network. You can watch on your phone, moving it around you to see in every direction or you can use a Gear VR headset like I did. The 8-minute clip is a prelude to a longer virtual-reality experience to come later this year.

“What we wanted to do is make sure that everybody felt they had access to the White House,” Obama says in the experience.

“The People’s House: Inside the White House with Barack and Michelle Obama” is available as a Facebook 360 video as well as Oculus Video for Samsung Gear VR.

I watched some of this yesterday and it’s very cool.

January 13, 2017

I really liked Avid’s Eleven guitar software, but it seems they didn’t do much with it for the past couple of years. Now they have—A new version of Eleven powers the Headrush pedalboard. I can’t wait to see this at NAMM.

In the list of iconic recording studios, Music Shoals Sound Studio is right up there with the most famous. During its heyday of the 70s, the studio hosted a wide array of artists that produced dozens of hit records, including Aretha Franklin, Cher, Boz Scaggs, The Rolling Stones, the Staple Singers, Bob Seger, Traffic, Willie Nelson, Rod Stewart, Paul Simon, Leon Russell and Lynyrd Skynyrd. The studio closed in 1978, but thanks to a grant from Beats By Dr. Dre, the studio is set to reopen once again.

I am so incredibly happy to hear this—Muscle Shoals was part of some amazing music.

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Mac Observer:

Apple just raised the cap on Apple TV app sizes from 200 MB up to 4 GB, bringing them in line with iPhone and iPad apps. Apple told developers the change lets them give users a better overall experience. For end users, that means more immersive apps and potentially a step towards a 4K Apple TV.

Not “potentially”. Definitely. It’s just a matter of when. I predict at/by WWDC 2017.

January 12, 2017

Consumer Reports is an irresponsible organization that rushed to publish its faulty MacBook Pro results before Christmas only to be caught and have to backtrack. I don’t trust a word these people say about anything.

Today, we’re starting to roll out an updated ride services experience to make it even easier for you to book a ride directly from Google Maps, on both Android and iOS globally.

Having it take you out of Google Maps and into Uber or Lyft was really clumsy. This will work much better and offer a better solution. I did try the same feature in Apple Maps, but every time I used the feature, it crashed the app, so I just stopped.

iPhone app purchasers may sue Apple Inc over allegations that the company monopolized the market for iPhone apps by not allowing users to purchase them outside the App Store, leading to higher prices, a U.S. appeals court ruled on Thursday.

Wait a minute. People want to sue Apple because they feel they could buy the apps cheaper if Apple didn’t have a monopoly on the App Store? This is absolutely insane. Apps cost under $1 in a lot of cases—how much do people think developers work is worth? The clear answer is nothing—they want it all for free.

What the protections Apple provides in the App Store? Specifically apps free from malware and other malicious code. The safety and sense of security purchasing from the App Store is very important.

This is ridiculous.


When Ezra Edelman set out to make the documentary O.J.: Made in America, he had one goal: To make a five-hour movie about how the 1995 O.J. Simpson murder case became a flashpoint for talking about race and the American criminal justice system. Not only did he hit his goal, but he overshot that runtime by about three hours.

“No sane person would do this,” Edelman says now, sitting in a lounge in New York’s Post Factory, where his doc was edited. In the end, he took some 800 hours of footage—some from archive material, some from interviews with 72 people—and boiled it down into one single 467-minute movie. It took him more than two years. But he didn’t do it alone. In fact, it wasn’t even entirely his idea. We spoke with Edelman and his creative partners to get the story of how they created the wildly ambitious documentary.

I didn’t see the dramatized version of the O.J. story but I really enjoyed this documentary about it.

Tremolo systems first started appearing on guitars in the 1930s and have evolved multiple times in the ensuing decades.

Utilizing tremolo can be an integral aspect of your sound—see: Duane Eddy, Jimi Hendrix, David Gilmour, Jeff Beck and Eddie Van Halen—or add a splash of color to your style.

But what is a tremolo system, how does it work and what are the benefits of one system over another?

Some of my favorite guitarists used a tremolo a lot, but I never really used it that much in my own playing. Using it properly is definitely an art.


I found myself aggravated by this situation, though not through a desire to defend Apple nor to denigrate Consumer Reports, despite its history in leading the charge on the non-existent Antennagate issue back with the iPhone 4.

Rather, it’s the way in which CR failed to serve its readers, rather than how it interacted with Apple, that worries me. (CR is a subscription publication that also makes some material available to the general public at no cost.) By not revealing its test methods more fully in its original report or admitting that it should have done more work to exclude its setup as the reason for the results, I worry that CR’s actions reduce the credibility of all technology reporting and reviewing.

I agree with Fleishman. When CR found its results to be so out of whack with what would be expected, they should have held off publishing their results until they figured out the issue.

Emulations of most every Mac OS, from System 2 through Rhapsody to Yosemite

An amazing graphic from Steve Troughton-Smith. Steve used a variety of emulators to emulate a huge representative range of Mac OSes, from System 2 through System 7.6.1, then Mac OS 8.6, then on to Rhapsody developer release 1 and so forth, ending with Yosemite.

Steve then captured screen shots of each emulation and built the graphic below. Click on the thumbnail to embiggen. And on the Mac, once you have the bigger version, click the magnifying glass to make it even larger.

Interested in the details? In Steve’s words:

I’m using a variety of emulators; Mini vMac for systems 1–7, SheepShaver for 7.6.1–8.6, qemu for 9.2.2 to 10.3, and VMWare Fusion for anything newer. I’ve been working for the past week in making some of the older ones (as in older OS X) boot in QEMU—they didn’t, before now.

And Steve gives a shoutout to:

…the amazing work in the past year done over at emaculation.com to get QEMU (the emulator) capable of emulating old G3 & G4 Macs.

Steve’s original was more than 800MB. Obviously, we had to reduce size and clarity to get it shoehorned down to a size that was acceptable to our Loop posting plugins. Remember, click it, then click it again to see the detail.

Great job, Steve.


Gruber: The right way to pop your Apple AirPods out of the case

This is the very first video on the Daring Fireball YouTube channel. For a first timer, John Gruber sure does have some chops. Nice job.

If you own, or plan on buying a pair of AirPods, check this out.

Wall Street Journal:

Apple Inc. is planning to build a significant new business in original television shows and movies, according to people familiar with the matter, a move that could make it a bigger player in Hollywood and offset slowing sales of iPhones and iPads.

These people said the programming would be available to subscribers of Apple’s $10-a-month streaming-music service, which has struggled to catch up to the larger Spotify AB. Apple Music already includes a limited number of documentary-style segments on musicians, but nothing like the premium programming it is now seeking.

The technology giant has been in talks with veteran producers in recent months about buying rights to scripted television programs. It also has approached experienced marketing executives at studios and networks to discuss hiring them to promote its content, said people with knowledge of the discussions.


In addition to TV, Apple indicated to these people that it is considering offering original movies, though those plans are more preliminary.

Executives at Apple have told people in Hollywood they hope to start offering original scripted content by the end of 2017.

Strikes me as an approach similar to Amazon’s. Amazon offers free video content with your Prime subscription. Pay for free shipping, we’ll sweeten the deal with a range of original, high quality content.

As far as I know, Amazon has not yet made any bundle deals for their content, corralling their offerings inside their ecosystem. Will Apple do the same? It certainly would swing customers away from Spotify towards Apple Music. And, if the video offerings were substantial enough, some customers would sign up for the video and look at the music as a nice side benefit.

Andy Ihnatko, writing about fake news:

I’ll use Apple as an example. They had a problem on their hands in the form of a deeply-negative Consumer Reports headline: “New MacBook Pros Fail to Earn Consumer Reports Recommendation.” CR had tested the new MacBook Pros and concluded that the battery life of all three models were insanely inconsistent.

Response Option 1: Apple calls the report “Fake News” and dismisses Consumer Reports as “failing, sad, and pathetic.” Next question.

Response Option 2: Apple disagrees with CR’s findings and tries to substantiate their results. An examination of CR’s testing methodology — done with the publication’s help — reveals no fudging, but identifies many quirks in the test protocol that probably contributed to a suspicious result.

Apple did exactly the right thing. If the original CR review was totally screwy, it shouldn’t be hard to demonstrate why, and Apple certainly has the resources to put in that kind of effort. Moreover, doing so indicates that they want to earn the trust of their customers, instead of demanding it.


Apple emerges from all of this looking great, and everybody (Apple, Consumer Reports, and consumers) walks away with a better understanding of the issue.

This is exactly where the bar should be set. Truth seeking behavior.

[H/T John Kordyback]

Apple Campus 2, January drone footage

Lots of rain and water accumulation. Should help point out any leaks before all the finish work is done. Still a fair amount of work to do, but things are really taking shape.