October 6, 2015

We’ve been working hard on getting The Loop Magazine updated for iOS 9, but we’ve added a couple of nice features too. We’ve updated the entire backend of the magazine, so things should be much faster for everyone.

My favorite feature is a new universal search. You can now type in a keyword and it will search every published issue of the magazine. Just tap on the result and it will take you right to the story.

In addition, Issue 35 was published today with looking at the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, 3D Touch, watch OS 2, iPad Pro, Apple TV from a gamer’s perspective, Wearable health reminders, and more.

Another issue of the magazine is almost ready to go and will focus on Apple Music.

You can download The Loop Magazine app for iPhone and iPad for free. Subscriptions are $1.99 per month.


“In this respect, Apple has been its own worst enemy,” he said. “This lack of cooperation has cast an unnecessary shadow over meaningful progress in developing a comprehensive and effective antitrust compliance program.”

Perhaps Apple, like many of us, are still wondering how the hell Amazon gets away with so much, without any punishment.

Just came across this fantastic video (shot in summer, 2014). Look at those teeth!

Rob Leathern, writing for Medium, with some interesting analysis on where all the money is going.

M.G. Siegler, writing for Medium, about Amazon’s decision to not carry the new Apple TV, Google’s Chromecast:

Amazon apparently doesn’t want to sell Apple TVs or Google Chromecasts because they have their own device, the Fire TV/Stick, which does much of the same thing as those two. More importantly, they have their own streaming service, through Prime, which neither of those devices currently support.

Maybe this is a play to ensure those devices support the Prime streaming service (with a sweetheart deal, no doubt). Or maybe these are in fact the first shots fired in a new battle on the content side of things. Maybe it’s not NBC, CBS, ABC, ESPN, HBO, Showtime, etc, we should be worrying about. Maybe it’s Amazon, Netflix, Hulu and the like.


So we’re stuck in a world where in order to get all the content you want you need at least two, and perhaps even three set-top boxes in your living room. You need some combination of a cable box and a Roku/Apple TV/Fire TV/Chromecast/Xbox/Playstation.

Is this move by Amazon a short term bump in the road to ensure their content is properly supported? Or is this Amazon creating another walled ecosystem?


The company’s leaders, Nicolas Pinto and Zak Stone, are both established AI researchers who specialize in developing image-recognition systems using deep learning. Deep learning is an approach to artificial intelligence that lets computers learn to identify and classify sensory input.


Perceptio’s goals were to develop techniques to run AI image-classification systems on smartphones, without having to draw from large external repositories of data. That fits Apple’s strategy of trying to minimize its usage of customer data and do as much processing as possible on the device.

I see this as a huge leap forward for Apple’s Photos app, adding a Google Photos level of search without accumulating data from those photos back on the main server.

One of the benefits of Google Photos is the ability to search for elements within a photo without the requirement of tagging. For example, you can ask Google Photos to search one of your photo albums for all pictures containing cats.

Google Photos does this by running an image analysis on all your photos, automatically generating tags for each photo, keeping the information from your photos on their servers for use in your searches (good) and for other purposes (not so good).

Apple’s current Photos app does allow you to manually tag your photos, and does do some semi-automated facial recognition. Seems to me, this acquisition will allow Apple to leapfrog Google’s efforts, performing similar automated image analysis, but on-device without requiring data about your personal pictures to make a trip back to the company servers.

Apple continues to put its money where its mouth is when it comes to its commitment to privacy.

Roger Fingas, writing for Apple Insider:

Via a third-party distributor, Avnet, Apple is now selling authorized lugs for the Apple Watch that accessory makers can use in their own bands for the device.

The lugs are all stainless steel, and come with the phrase “Made for Apple Watch” etched on them. 38- and 42-millimeter versions are available in lots of 25 or 200. Costs range between $278.75 for 25 38-millimeter lugs, to $1,866 for 200 42-millimeter units.

That’s a cost of $9.18 per for 200 38-millimeter lug sets, and $9.33 per for 200 42-millimeter lug sets.

Bands must conform to Apple’s official design guidelines, which dictate not just dimensions but criteria like materials, durability, and functionality. Accessory makers will also likely have to buy one of Avnet’s pentalobe screwdrivers, which are $12.65 apiece.

Between the new wave of MFi Apple Watch bands this will enable, and Apple Watch’s move to Target, this should only be good news for Apple Watch sales numbers.

The huge value of pinning a tab in El Capitan

There are a lot of terrific new features in OS X El Capitan. But given how much time I spend reading in Safari, my current favorite is tab pinning. If you are an old hand at this, move along, nothing to see here.

New to El Capitan? Give this a try:

  • Open up a new window
  • Open up your favorite web site
  • Click the site’s tab (the area under the title bar, to the left of the +) and drag it to the left until it turns into a mini tab, then release it. You’ll need to be within about half an inch of the left edge of the window for the pin mechanism to kick in.

The tab will be marked with the site’s mini icon, typically in the form of a single letter (the Loop is an L, Daring Fireball a D, the New York Times a fancy T).

  • Open a few more sites, drag them to the left, until you’ve got 3 or 4 tabs pinned on the left.

To revisit one of the pinned sites, click on its tab. To expand a tab, drag it back to the right. Easy peasy.

But the real value of tabs doesn’t emerge until you do this:

  • With a few tabs pinned to the left, open a new Safari window.

Your pinned tabs will be pinned in the new window, too.

I find this incredibly useful when I am making my way through my morning site visits. As I find stories I want to read in depth and, perhaps, comment on in The Loop, I accumulate those tabs, pinning them as I go. A pinned tab takes up very little tab bar real estate and let’s me keep a few unpinned tabs to work with as I work on a specific story.

Jonny Lieberman, writing for Motor Trend:

So much for “Do No Evil.” There’s no technological reason the 991/2 doesn’t have Android Auto playing through its massively upgraded PCM system. But there is an ethical one. As part of the agreement an automaker would have to enter with Google, certain pieces of data must be collected and mailed back to Mountain View, California. Stuff like vehicle speed, throttle position, coolant and oil temp, engine revs—basically Google wants a complete OBD2 dump whenever someone activates Android Auto. Not kosher, says Porsche. Obviously, this is “off the record,” but Porsche feels info like that is the secret sauce that makes its cars special. Moreover, giving such data to a multi-billion dollar corporation that’s actively building a car, well, that ain’t good, either. Apple, by way of stark contrast, only wants to know if the car is moving while Apple Play is in use. Makes you wonder about all the other OEMs who have agreed to Google’s requests/demands, no?

Two different core approaches to privacy, now playing out in the marketplace.

[via Apple Insider]

October 5, 2015

Jim and Merlin talk about appreciating ‘good enough’ and how to start playing guitar, and Merlin gets really excited about his new Amazon Echo.

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Apple’s official statement on the YiSpecter iOS malware

Earlier today, we posted about a report from Palo Alto Networks about YiSpector, iOS malware that was said to attack non-jailbroken iOS devices.

We reached out to Apple for comment and they responded with this statement:

“This issue only impacts users on older versions of iOS who have also downloaded malware from untrusted sources. We addressed this specific issue in iOS 8.4 and we have also blocked the identified apps that distribute this malware. We encourage customers to stay current with the latest version of iOS for the latest security updates. We also encourage them to only download from trusted sources like the App Store and pay attention to any warnings as they download apps.”

Bottom line, sounds like this may have been an issue in the past, that Apple has already added the safeguards to deal with YiSpecter back in the iOS 8.4 release, and that if you download your apps from the App Store, you’ll be safe.

Matt is in a unique position to write about this debate:

I’m on both sides of this debate.

Let’s get the obvious argument out of the way: if you block ads, you’re depriving sites of revenue they presumably need in order to continue running, and if too many people do that, those sites are likely to go away. The reality is more complicated, but the argument is essentially sound – all other things being equal, and unchanged.

Craig Mod on his reading habits:

But in the past two years, something unexpected happened: I lost the faith. Gradually at first and then undeniably, I stopped buying digital books. I realised this only a few months ago, when taking stock of my library, both digital and physical. Physical books – most of all, works of literary fiction – I continue to acquire voraciously. I split my time between New York and Tokyo, and know that with each New York trip I’ll pick up a dozen or more volumes from bookstores or friends.

I found this really interesting.

Thanks to SVALT for sponsoring The Loop this week. Use code “LOOP” for a $15 discount on the ultimate high-performance Apple laptop dock, the SVALT D Performance Cooling Dock, that increases CPU Turbo Boost speeds by 106% and speeds up 4K exports in Final Cut Pro X by 10% on 15-in Retina MacBook Pro.

From the Palo Alto Networks blog post:

We recently identified a new Apple iOS malware and named it YiSpecter. YiSpecter is different from previously seen iOS malware in that it attacks both jailbroken and non-jailbroken iOS devices through unique and harmful malicious behaviors. Specifically, it’s the first malware we’ve seen in the wild that abuses private APIs in the iOS system to implement malicious functionalities.

So far, the malware primarily affects iOS users in mainland China and Taiwan. It spreads via unusual means, including the hijacking of traffic from nationwide ISPs, an SNS worm on Windows, and an offline app installation and community promotion. Many victims have discussed YiSpecter infections of their jailbroken and non-jailbroken iPhones in online forums and have reported the activity to Apple. The malware has been in the wild for over 10 months, but out of 57 security vendors in VirusTotal, only one is detecting the malware at the time of this writing.


On infected iOS devices, YiSpecter can download, install and launch arbitrary iOS apps, replace existing apps with those it downloads, hijack other apps’ execution to display advertisements, change Safari’s default search engine, bookmarks and opened pages, and upload device information to the C2 server. According to victims’ reports, all these behaviors have been exhibited in YiSpecter attacks in the past few months. Some other characteristics about this malware include:

  • Whether an iPhone is jailbroken or not, the malware can be successfully downloaded and installed
  • Even if you manually delete the malware, it will automatically re-appear
  • Using third-party tools you can find some strange additional “system apps” on infected phones
  • On infected phones, in some cases when the user opens a normal app, a full screen advertisement will show

Palo Alto Networks is the company that put out the word on the recent GhostXcode malware.

Fantastic alternative list of password security questions. Hard to pick a favorite.

Though this emulator will run on your iOS device, the taps are not responsive, so save the link to run on your Mac.

Wish there was a way to run Dark Castle on this puppy. I had to satisfy myself with ResEdit. Much nostalgia.

Pro tip: Make sure the sound is on when you load the page. That is one old-school startup sound.

Sébastien Page, writing for iDownloadBlog, digs into an error that is both common and non-obvious and lays out the fix.

Yesterday I decided to look at when my new iPhone 6s backed up to iCloud for the last time when I realized that it hadn’t actually been backed up since September 25, which coincidentally was the first day I got this new device.

Check out your most recent iCloud backup. If those automatic backups have not been keeping up with the times, then this article is for you. Either way, this is worth bookmarking (for future reference) and passing along.

Joe Caiati, writing for dot info, digs into the completely visible diagnostic info found on each of your iOS devices.

Before you read the linked article, take a second and go to:

Settings > Privacy > Diagnostics & Usage

On the page that appears, tap:

Diagnostics & Usage Data

Tap one of the entries on this list. You’ll see a somewhat cryptic diagnostic record, full of information that can help Apple or an app developer diagnose a problem that happened on your iOS device.

If you have even the slightest interest on what this all means, take a read through Joe’s excellent article. Great stuff.

Third year in a row. Best brand in the world.

On Saturday, Tim Cook was awarded the Human Rights Campaign’s National Visibility Award. Watch the video below, especially the embedded tribute that starts at about 2:50 in.

One quote from that tribute:

Knowing that the leader of the company that I work for, the boss’s boss’s boss’s boss, is advocating for the rights of those who have been disenfranchised, makes me beyond proud.

Tim comes on stage at about 6:50 in. From his terrifically genuine, heartfelt speech:

I’m a private person by nature. Growing up, I was taught that you distinguish yourself in life by what you do, not by what you say, or how loudly you say it. But sometimes, you just have to be loud.

Tim Cook is an incredible CEO, a role model for leadership that goes well beyond corporate citizenship. Well earned, Tim.

[H/T John Kordyback]

October 4, 2015

The Wall Street Journal:

Four years after Steve Jobs’s death, a new movie is reopening a debate over the Apple Inc. co-founder’s legacy.

Mr. Jobs’s allies, led by his widow, Laurene Powell Jobs, say the film “Steve Jobs,” and other recent depictions, play down his accomplishments and paint Mr. Jobs as cruel and inhumane. Ms. Jobs repeatedly tried to kill the film, according to people familiar with the conversations. She lobbied, among others, Sony Pictures Entertainment, which developed the script but passed on the movie for financial reasons, and Comcast Corp.’s Universal Pictures, which is releasing the $33.5 million production on Friday.

“A whole generation is going to think of him in a different way if they see a movie that depicts him in a negative way,” said Bill Campbell, a longtime Apple board member and friend of Mr. Jobs. Mr. Campbell hasn’t seen the film.

I don’t know that I agree with Campbell on his assessment of Jobs’ legacy and whether or not this movie will taint it. I doubt it. The debate will continue for generations with each making their own evaluations.

The most interesting tidbit in this story, and a piece of information that hadn’t been disclosed up until now, is the fact that Wozniak was paid $200,000 to consult on the film.


Personal videos have long been an integral part of our lives, allowing us to share and cherish memories with our friends and family. Apple’s recent release of the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s+ have introduced ultra high-definition 4K video recording to a massive new audience. With such a powerful device, you may want to tweak your footage before you share it. Today, we are taking a quick look at five different editing solutions for your iOS device.

As a photographer, I don’t mess around with video on my iPhone very much but when I do, I use a couple of these free apps to quickly bang out something I can post online.

Mother Jones:

Every photo ever taken by Apollo astronauts on moon missions is now available online, on the Project Apollo Archive’s Flickr account. That’s about 8,400 images, grouped by the roll of film they were shot on. You can finally see all the blurry images, mistakes, and unrecognized gems for yourself. The unprocessed Hasseblad photos (basically raw scans of the negatives) uploaded by the Project Apollo Archive offer a fascinating behind-the-scenes peek at the various moon missions as well as lots and lots (and lots) of photos detailing the surface of the moon.

This is one of those Flickr pages you don’t want to go to unless you have a lot of free time this afternoon.

October 3, 2015

This looks really interesting. It combines streaming services like Netflix and includes SkipMode, which completely skips over commercial breaks by pressing one button.

October 2, 2015

The first project is to build an artificial brain from scratch that can pass a high school science test. It sounds simple enough, but trying to teach a machine not only to respond but also to reason is one of the hardest software-engineering endeavors attempted — far more complex than building his former company’s breakthrough Windows operating system, said to have 50 million lines of code.

The second project aims to understand intelligence by coming at it from the opposite direction — by starting with nature and deconstructing and analyzing the pieces. It’s an attempt to reverse-engineer the human brain by slicing it up — literally — modeling it and running simulations.

Apple has purchased VocalIQ, a startup located in the United Kingdom that has developed a natural language API to allow computers and people to have a more natural dialogue, reports Financial Times. According to VocalIQ’s website, the company has developed a self-learning dialogue API built on 10 years of natural language research, belief tracking, decision making, and message generation.

Siri is becoming an increasingly important part of how people interact with Apple’s devices and operating systems.

Thanks to Twocanoes Software for sponsoring The Loop this week. Makers of Winclone, the best Mac app for migrating, cloning and backing up your Boot Camp partition. This week Loop readers can use the code “theloop” to get 10% off Winclone 5, just in time to backup Boot Camp before upgrading to El Capitan. If you run Boot Camp in labs or classrooms, Boot Runner 2 from Twocanoes is a time saver for remote scheduling of maintenance reboots and an easy to use OS picker for your users. Check out the video or get the 14-day trial and see how easy Boot Runner makes managing dual boot Macs.

The European Commission is probing whether Samsung televisions’ sensed when they were being tested for energy efficiency and changed their power consumption to get better ratings than they deserved.

Samsung admits that its TVs radically changed their power-consumption during testing, but say that the low-power mode was inadvertently triggered by the tests, and was meant to be an automatic power-saving feature.

Sure it was.