September 21, 2018

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Cabel Sasser:

So, I got a call from the 1-800 number on the back of my ATM Card: Wells Fargo. I answered, and a Fraud Department agent said my ATM card had just been used at a Target in Minnesota, was I on vacation? Ugh.

So the card-replacement dance began. “Is the card in your possession?” It was. The agent asked for the CVV code to verify I had it. After verifying, he offered to expedite a replacement. First he had to read some disclosures. Then he asked me to key in a new PIN.

Scary thread from Sasser, co-founder of Panic Inc. Big lesson is if someone calls you, call them back at the company’s official number to verify.

Or do what I do – just never answer the phone.

11 year old plays a masterful Classical Gas on ukulele

The fact that this kid is only 11 years old just knocks me out. Fantastic performance. Hard to believe this sound is coming out of a ukulele. Bravo, kid, bravo.

Christian Zibreg, iDownloadBlog:

Complications—small elements rendered on the Apple Watch face that provide quick access to frequently-used data—have received a boost on Series 4: all-new templates now let brand new elements, such as full-color images, text and gauges, follow curvature of the display.

Complications are a great way to connect users to their favorite apps with every wrist raise and keep them informed throughout their day. Tapping a complication launches its underlying app.

Terrific post, lots of interesting detail.

Kevin McCoy, USA Today:

The knockoff power adapters and chargers, which Apple says could cause electrical shocks, allegedly traveled from a manufacturer in Hong Kong to Amazon.com, with stopping points at the Brooklyn location and New Jersey electronics companies.

And:

From outward appearances, the Apple-like products seemed genuine.

However, the chargers and adapters lacked adequate insulation and had improper spacing between the high voltage and low voltage circuits, creating risks of overheating, fire or electrical shocks, Apple charged in a 2016 federal court lawsuit. The case ended with confidential settlements in late May.

And:

Twelve of 400 fake iPhone adapters tested in a study unrelated to those in Apple’s lawsuit were so badly constructed that they posed “a risk of lethal electrocution to the user,” U.S.-based safety standards leader UL warned.

When I first came across this article, I was pretty sure Amazon would be part of the equation. In addition to the obvious safety hazard issues, I also wonder if there are some counterfeits with embedded malware, just waiting for an unsuspecting device to be plugged in. One reason I zealously guard the USB bricks that come in the iPhone and Apple Watch boxes.

Lance Ulanoff:

Schiller, along with Graham Townsend, Apple’s senior director of camera hardware, and Sebastien Marineau-Mes, Apple’s vice president of software, sat down late on the afternoon of iPhone XS launch day to peel away the veil of secrecy surrounding at least one part of Apple’s iPhone technology matrix: how they design and develop their photo and video capture hardware and software.

While a lot of this post was conveyed in the Apple keynote, what I found most interesting were the little nuggets from the callout quotes from Phil Schiller, Graham Townsend, Sebastien Marineau-Mes, and photographer Pete Souza.

The Dalrymple Report: Unpacking the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max and Apple Watch with Dave Mark

On Thursday morning, I picked up two new iPhones and an Apple Watch Series 4 to test out. Dave and I go through some of my thoughts after opening up the boxes.

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Fun story, in which someone who runs a popular guitar chord and scale calculator website finds themselves part of Apple’s iOS Shortcuts rollout. A pleasant surprise, and a terrific example of the power of Shortcuts.

Glenn Marston:

When Apple’s website reappeared after shutdown for the company’s Sept. 12 product event, it displayed a list of the new X-Series iPhones.

Eliminated from Apple availability were the regular- and large-size iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s, which had been introduced in September 2014 and September 2015.

Also missing was a unique small phone, the iPhone SE. Based on the body of 2012’s iPhone 5, it had been the only remnant of the compact early iPhones.

And:

One should not assume that Apple has sworn off small phones. They are favorites of smaller folks, plus a segment of women that eschews the grand purse and those of both genders who prefer to travel light with clothes trailered tight.

Apple might have intended no inference other than limiting new iPhones to those in the minimal-bezel, Face ID form of the X series.

With that in mind, Apple should produce an iPhone XR Mini as a follow-on to the iPhone SE.

I’ve been thinking about the loss of iPhone SE form factor. Is Apple undervaluing people with small hands, and small wrists? The Apple Watch is getting larger (thinner, but longer/wider), even though there are plenty of people who wish for a smaller case size.

And, as Glenn points out, Apple has eliminated the last vestige of the smaller iPhone form factor, the iPhone SE. Is this the end of the line for the SE? Or is this, possibly, a supply chain issue?

Apple has unified their iPhone line in a number of ways. All the new phones (XS, XS Max, XR) use Face ID and have the corresponding notch and lack of a home button. And all the new phones are based on Apple’s 7nm A12 Bionic chip.

The XS and XS Max went on sale in Apple Stores this morning (8a, your local time). But, likely due to supply chain constraints, the iPhone XR will not be available for pre-order until early morning October 19th (12:01 am PT).

No complaints there, this is smart product rollout. But could those limitations have informed Apple’s decision not to release an iPhone X with the smaller iPhone SE form factor?

Could this also be an engineering issue? The notch is a relatively fixed size. Could fitting the Face ID hardware, etc. (the notch assembly) in the smaller iPhone SE footprint be problematic? Could that be the reason Apple has not announced an iPhone X updated SE, or, as Glenn put it, an iPhone XR Mini?

Seems to me, Apple is proceeding logically here. The first steps were to unify the product line and ramp up production of the 7nm A12 Bionic chip, to ensure that the iPhones XS, XS Max, and XR are all available to customers who want them.

Once those needs are met, and if they can solve the engineering problems (problems being speculation on my part) of fitting the notch contents in a much smaller package, might we see an iPhone X version of the SE? I really hope so. I’ve got a whole family of iPhone users who prefer that smaller footprint.

Amazon just announced a wave of new Alexa-equipped Echo devices. There’s a wall clock that lets you set timers, something called Echo Input that let’s you add an Alexa/Echo to an existing speaker via Bluetooth or 3.5mm headphone jack. There’s an Echo subwoofer and Echo Amp (think stereo equipment), and an Echo smart plug (use your voice to turn things on and off).

But my favorite? The Amazon Alexa Microwave. Yes, a microwave that lets you use your voice instead of pressing buttons. And it’s only $59.99.

I expect this thing to fly off the shelves, especially to college students. I wonder how long it will be until one of these devices makes its way into a movie or TV show plot. The microwave ships November 15th, in plenty of time for the holidays.

September 20, 2018

Golf Digest:

After 27 years in prison, a man who loves golf walked free today. Not only that, he was given back his innocence. Of course, the state can regift innocence about as capably as it can 27 years.

But before we dive into what really happened, a quick refresher on why golfers might care extra about Valentino Dixon. Six years ago, Golf Digest profiled this inmate who grinds colored pencils to their nubs drawing meticulously detailed golf-scapes. Although Dixon has never hit a ball or even stepped foot on a course, the game hooked him when a golfing warden brought in a photograph of Augusta National’s 12th hole for the inmate to render as a favor. In the din and darkness of his stone cell, the placid composition of grass, sky, water and trees spoke to Dixon. And the endless permutations of bunkers and contours gave him a subject he could play with.

It took about a hundred drawings before Golf Digest noticed, but when we did, we also noticed his conviction seemed flimsy. So we investigated the case and raised the question of his innocence.

This is an incredible story. If it hadn’t been for his drawings of a sport he never played, he’d still be in prison.

Channel News Asia:

When one of its planes was painted with a huge typo in its name, Cathay Pacific did not try to hide the mistake.

Instead, it posted photos of the gaffe on social media, showing the plane with the words “Cathay Paciic” painted in bold letters across its side.

In a lighthearted post on Facebook, the Hong Kong flag carrier wrote: “Breaking! Limited edition (Boeing) 777 makes an appearance.”

Very embarrassing for Cathay Pacific but they handled it well.

Josh Rubin, Cool Hunting:

I vary between this info-dense watch face and the new ultra-minimal and very hypnotic Fire, Water, Liquid Metal and Vapor faces. And these faces are more special than Apple let on during their keynote. They’re not rendered—each face is high resolution video shot in a studio using real fire, water and vapor elements.

This is yet another example of the tremendous effort Apple puts into design detail. Check out the behind-the-scenes making-of video embedded below.

John Gruber, Daring Fireball:

Apple has several products that lead their markets in revenue or profit. What makes Apple Watch different from every other product the company makes, though, is a measure near and dear to the company’s soul by which they cannot claim Apple Watch to be number one: nicest.

This is a very interesting point. At its core, to me, is the concept of fashion. Some people are happy to run around with running shoes and sweats, while others are careful to color-coordinate with the latest fashions, top to bottom. And this applies to the Apple Watch, far more than any other Apple product.

John continues:

Traditional watches are Apple’s competition for nicest watch. And Apple Watch just isn’t there. It’s not even close. Don’t get me wrong — Apple Watch is nice, and always has been. I think that’s ultimately what defined the minimum viable product for the original Apple Watch.

There’s an elegance to a beautifully crafted wristwatch. While I’d argue that Apple Watch has its own elegant elements, as a whole it’d be hard to place the Apple Watch on the same fashion shelf with high priced timepieces such as the Jaeger-LeCoultre Ultra Thin Moon or the Constantin Patrimony Grand Taille.

I do appreciate the beauty, the art of mechanical watches. But, to me, they belong in a different category. The Apple Watch is about functionality first. And that priority limits where Apple Watch can go in terms of fashion.

Apple could have made something that did what the original Apple Watch did years earlier, I’m sure. But it wouldn’t have been nice enough. But as nice as Apple Watch has always been, there are many watches that are nicer. And that makes Apple Watch unique in the history of the company. What successful product has Apple ever made that wasn’t at least arguably the nicest in its category? Apple Watch is the first.

Very interesting. My thought is that Apple Watch has disrupted the mechanical watch industry, and the concept of fashion driving what people put on their wrists. For good or for bad, that ship has sailed.

All that said, this point is just the tip of the iceberg in John’s Apple Watch review. It is appreciative of the Apple Watch design, incredibly detailed (incredibly!), and well worth your time. Here’s the link again, just for convenience.

Zac Hall, 9to5Mac, pulled together a bunch of unboxing videos, and some insight into the Apple Watch packaging.

Two things that stuck out:

First, Apple Watch Series 3 without LTE will no longer include the 5W USB charging brick, although the charging cable is still included. You can buy these separately of course, but a lot of customers probably also have spare bricks from iPhones and other devices.

This change strikes me as similar to not including a headphone to Lightning adapter in the iPhone box. A practical decision, no doubt fueled by market research. Not an issue for most folks, I suspect.

The second thing that stuck out to me was the pure beauty of the Apple Watch Series 4 packaging, enthusiastically shown off by iJustine in the video embedded below.

Lots of great insight here. One particular such nugget:

This past year with the iPhone X I’ve had a lot of difficulty with vertical panoramas. I’ve shot so many over and over trying to get everything sharp, but the focus seems to degrade as I continue upward. After talking with Apple engineers, I’ve learned it was not an issue of focus depth but of the accelerometers inside the device and how they are tuned to read your motion.

The iPhone XS fixes this problem. Combined with the new Smart HDR, I’ve shot a bunch of vertical panos that are exposed beautifully and tack sharp from top to bottom. Check out the vertical panos below and note the fixed focusing issue and the insane exposure improvement from iPhone X to iPhone XS.

Smart HDR seems like a big gain for the new camera. This is a terrific post. Keep an eye out for the closeup comparisons between the iPhone X and iPhone XS cameras.

Malcolm Owen, Apple Insider:

The iPhone XS is similar in terms of size to the iPhone X, sharing the same length, width, and thickness with last year’s model. While this may mean that most cases made for the iPhone X will fit the iPhone XS, a report from Macotakara notes the slightly larger camera section on the back may be too big for cases where the camera cutout is made with the iPhone X’s dimensions in mind.

It is likely the camera bump has been expanded to accommodate a new larger sensor for the wide-angle camera in the iPhone XS, which features an increased pixel pitch.

If you already have an iPhone X and a case, good to know, but not much you can do about this. But if you are buying a case for the iPhone XS, keep this in mind. Make sure the case is specifically built for the iPhone XS, and not sold as a one size fits all.

Reminds me of the early days, before online pre-orders and a more precisely managed supply chain, when sleeping out in tents for a week, just to be the first one with Apple’s newest shiny was a thing.

[H/T Mr. E]

September 19, 2018

Wired:

Whenever Apple shows off a new iPhone, the company always has a great deal to say about its camera. True to form, this year’s iPhone Xs and Xs Max—announced last week and available on Friday—have a camera that bests last year’s model and, as the first round of reviews indicates, does a notch better than almost every competing smartphone.

To test the new hardware, we gave an iPhone XS Max to the film director Jon M. Chu. The Crazy Rich Asians director shot a short film for WIRED, and the results are truly special.

Apple increases the capability of the iPhone’s camera with every iteration and there’s no doubt this is the best they’ve ever jammed into an iPhone enclosure.

AppleInsider:

AppleCare+, Apple’s warranty add-on service to help manage the cost of accidental damage, received some changes as part of the introduction of the iPhone XS and the Apple Watch Series 4. AppleInsider explains what has been altered, and why you should consider paying for the extra cover.

AppleCare, like most insurance, is a bit of a crapshoot. This is a good piece that may help you decide whether or not to get it.

Tim Cook on Good Morning America: The full interview

Tim Cook was on Good Morning America yesterday, talking about the new iPhones and Apple Watch. The whole thing was very watchable, but two notes:

First, it’s interesting to watch Tim doing a somewhat spontaneous interview. Granted, he’s practiced his talking points and knew the questions going in, but he’s gotten terrific at sharing his enthusiasm with just the right tone, not an easy thing to do.

And second, jump to about 3:05, where Robin Roberts asks Tim about the cost of the new iPhone. Tim’s response is both deft and interesting.

Delicious.

Another grab-a-hot-beverage, put your feet up read. And read you should. Lot’s of great detail here.

Stephen Pulvirent, Hodinkee:

During my tenure covering the watch industry, there is no single watch that has been talked about more than the Apple Watch. At first glance, this is very strange. The device is not made by a watchmaker, it is not distributed and sold through the traditional channels for selling watches and jewelry, it has none of the patrimonie and heritage that watch brands so love to talk about, and its primary purpose is almost certainly not telling the time. But then you remember that it is a key product for the most valuable company in the history of the human race, it is created by some of the best designers and engineers on planet Earth, and it is making the case for wearing a watch to a generation who previously roamed the streets with naked wrists. So yeah, I’m not actually all that surprised it garners the attention it does.

First things first, Hodinkee is the preeminent modern and vintage wristwatch review site. It focuses, almost exclusively, on mechanical watches. Their embrace of the Apple Watch is notable.

This review is, hands down, worth your time. It is elegantly and knowledgeably written, from a very rare point of view, that of a true watch enthusiast and connoisseur.

From the conclusion:

For now though, the Apple Watch Series 4 truly is, as Apple is fond of saying, the best Apple Watch yet. It’s a mature expression of what the Apple Watch can be, taking the next steps on the path set out by Apple over the last four years and showing us early glimpses of where it might go in the future. So whether you’re someone still wandering around with a naked wrist, checking the time by pulling out your phones like it’s a new-age pocket watch, or a die-hard watch collector who can’t imagine giving up their mechanical marvels, I think it’s high time you give the Apple Watch a shot.

High praise indeed. If you are interested in the Apple Watch Series 4, grab a cup of something, put your feet up, watch the video embedded below, then follow the headline link and dive into the written review.

Side note: All the images in the review were shot with the iPhone XS.

This is a fantastic community resource. If you have reviews that are not on the list, jump onto the Reddit thread and ask to get your review added.

Kirk McElhearn:

One of the more interesting apps in iOS 12, which Apple released this week, is Measure. It uses augmented reality (AR) to calculate the length, width, and area of items. This is a complex process, which involves having the iPhone or iPad calculate the distance between its camera and the object your are measuring in order to determine the object’s dimensions.

The problem is that it is not very accurate.

Kirk and I went back and forth on Twitter about the Measure app yesterday. I love the concept, but as Kirk (and a number of other folks) weighed in, it became clear that the app was not accurate, at least for us.

Read Kirk’s post, check out his examples. Better yet, grab yourself a tape measure and try the app out for yourself.

My hope is that Apple figures this one out quickly. Measure could be an incredibly handy app to have. But if it doesn’t work, it has the potential to cause problems, especially if you are making decisions based on its measurements.

Whether you have a podcast in the works or are just getting started, Apple’s new podcaster site is worth a visit.

Out of the gate, the site focuses on marketing your podcast and building an audience. Each of the five main sections has a Learn More link that offers a series of bite-size tips.

There’s nothing terribly deep here, but if you are just getting started, this is a terrific tree of information, food for thought to help get the juices flowing.

[Via 9to5Mac]

September 18, 2018

Google today updated its popular Google Maps navigation app, introducing support for CarPlay. With iOS 12, third-party mapping apps work with CarPlay for the first time, giving CarPlay users an alternative to the built-in Apple Maps app.

I still use Apple Maps a lot, but I know this will be a popular feature for many users.

Twitter:

After a year of touring ballparks across the US, Hailey Dawson (@hailey’s_hand) finally completed her mission of throwing out the first pitch for every MLB team. With the help of the UNLV engineering department, Hailey had customized, 3D-printed prosthetics for each throw.

I’ve been following this story all summer and am so happy she reached her goal.

Kabir Chibber, writing for Quartz, culled two Steve Jobs anecdotes, one from the Wired Oral History of Infinite Loop, and the other from Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs biography.

But what I really loved about the Quartz post was that image of Steve from 1999, clutching a brand new (what I believe to be) iBook 3G, with a big, proud smile on his face. There’s something so genuine about that smile, a real sense of pride and accomplishment.

Follow these steps:

  • Jump to the site hotspot3d.com. That will show you the current default, comparing the iPhone XS and the iPhone XS Max. Tap and drag to rotate the rendered images. Be sure to go left/right and up/down.
  • Once you’re done playing, tap the “Apple iPhone XS” label (upper left corner), then tap the iPhone 8 Plus. You should then return to the main screen, with the iPhone XS Max and iPhone 8 Plus, side-by-side. Rotate as you like.

This is an interesting tool, but it makes a specific point. The iPhone 8 Plus and the iPhone XS Max are almost identical in size (the Max is actually just a smidge smaller), but the Max has a much, much larger screen, even taking the notch into account.

Enjoy.