May 5, 2016

Craig Grannell:

Developer Travis Ryan just noted to me on Twitter that App Store search is broken. Presumably, this is a temporary glitch, but it’s frustrating for developers. In Ryan’s case, a search for Dashy Crashy doesn’t bring up his excellent game of the same name. All you get is Dashy Crashy Bird, a one-thumb sort-of Flappy Bird clone.

Some proof:

  • Here’s a link to Dashy Crashy. The link works, the app is live in the App Store.
  • Go to the iOS App Store, search for Dashy Crashy. The app does not show up.
  • While you are at it, try a search for dumpling design (the company that makes Dashy Crashy). Though it shows up in the search suggestions, the search yields no results.

Try searching for other apps. Your mileage may vary, but I’m having no luck.

Yeesh.

Clever, funny ad for Apple Pay in Australia

I love the tag line:

It’s a big deal. For a fraction of a second.

The Verge:

Moog’s Model 15 modular synthesizer, first released in 1973, can cost upward of $10,000. But Moog understands that not every synthesizer fan has a casual 10K laying around, so yesterday the company released an iOS app version of the classic instrument. It’s available for iPads, iPod touches, and iPhones that are running iOS version 9.3.1 or later.

What’s really cool about the app is how hands-on it is. Although the buttons are virtual, users actively participate in creating their music. They can drag cables around the board, play on the collapsable digital keyboard, and turn knobs. It’s a hefty app with a lot of simultaneous motion and sound, so Moog says it took advantage of Apple’s Metal API for smooth transitions.

Watch the video. Fantastic to have that distinct Moog sound. Looks like it is Midi-savvy, so you can set up the sound you like, then control it from a full size MIDI Controller. Nice.

LA Times:

Los Angeles police investigators obtained a method to open the locked iPhone belonging to the slain wife of “The Shield” actor Michael Jace, according to court papers reviewed by The Times.

LAPD detectives found an alternative way to bypass the security features on the white iPhone 5S belonging to April Jace, whom the actor is accused of killing at their South L.A. home in 2014, according to a search warrant filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

The bypass occurred earlier this year, during the same period that the FBI was demanding that Apple unlock the iPhone 5C of San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook. The FBI eventually said it found another method for unlocking the phone without using Apple.

Elizabeth Dwoskin, writing for the Washington Post:

The stealthy, four-year-old Viv is among the furthest along in an endeavor that many in Silicon Valley believe heralds that next big shift in computing — and digital commerce itself. Over the next five years, that transition will turn smartphones — and perhaps smart homes and cars and other devices — into virtual assistants with supercharged conversational capabilities, said Julie Ask, an expert in mobile commerce at Forrester.

Powered by artificial intelligence and unprecedented volumes of data, they could become the portal through which billions of people connect to every service and business on the Internet. It’s a world in which you can order a taxi, make a restaurant reservation and buy movie tickets in one long unbroken conversation — no more typing, searching or even clicking.

And:

The quest to define the next generation of artificial-intelligence technology has sparked an arms race among the five major tech giants: Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Amazon.com have all announced major investments in virtual-assistant software over the past year.

Two of them — Google and Facebook — have made offers to buy Viv, according to people familiar with the matter. (Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg is also an investor in Viv through the firm Iconiq Capital.)

Viv will have its first public demo on Monday. Interesting that Apple is not said to be among the bidders.

A nice little how-to from iMore’s Marc Lagace.

Bentley Motors makes some finely crafted (and expensive) vehicles. Now they have an Apple Watch app that allows you to control your car’s settings.

Follow the link, watch the embedded video. I like the execution, just not sure I get the value of controlling the car from your wrist, since you’ll be using the app from the driver’s seat. Any Bentley owners out there? Want to chime in?

Fortune:

Apple has hired famed robotics expert Yoky Matsuoka, one of the co-founders of Google’s X lab and former head of technology at Nest, to work on the iPhone maker’s health projects.

And:

Apple said Matsuoka is working for chief operating officer Jeff Williams, who oversees the tech giant’s growing number of health initiatives. Those efforts include the HealthKit framework for developing apps, ResearchKit for using mobile devices in medical studies, and CareKit to help individuals improve their own medical care.

Yoky has had an incredible career. She seems an impressive addition to Apple’s technical staff.

May 4, 2016

At WWDC 2015 we announced the transition to IPv6-only network services in iOS 9. Starting June 1, 2016 all apps submitted to the App Store must support IPv6-only networking. Most apps will not require any changes because IPv6 is already supported by NSURLSession and CFNetwork APIs.

If your app uses IPv4-specific APIs or hard-coded IP addresses, you will need to make some changes.

Apple announced this last year, so most of any work that needs to be done by developers is probably taken care of already. If not, this is a good reminder from Apple.

Tom Negrino:

This post will upset many of you. I am sorry about that. I’ve been ill for quite some time, but I haven’t talked about it. Brace yourself for the really bad news.

I’ve got cancer. It’s bad, and I’m not going to survive it.

In general, I haven’t gone public with this, though I told family, some friends, and colleagues when I had a chance to sit down with them at Macworld Expo 2014. I’ve kept things mostly under wraps because I didn’t want to publicly become Cancer Guy, because I’ve seen that happen to other people I know. Cancer is something I have; it does not define who I am.

Tom is the “Grand Old Man” of the Mac Community. He and his lovely wife Dori have been involved on many levels – users, authors, speakers – for decades. Both of them are wonderful, kind, funny, smart and fierce people. I’m proud to know them and even prouder to call them friends. This is terrible news but, Tom being Tom, he will handle it with the dignity and intelligence for which he has always been admired. My thoughts are with both of them as they go through this awful ordeal.

TidBITS:

When the fourth-generation Apple TV was announced last September, I gave an audible (and embarrassing) “Whoop!” in my chair as I watched the presentation, eager to write the second edition of “Take Control of Apple TV” (which is now available). The little set-top box suddenly had a lot more potential, thanks to Apple finally adding an App Store.

But it has been nearly six months since the fourth-generation Apple TV was released, and there isn’t much to show yet. Yes, the tvOS App Store quickly added over 1000 apps, but growth since that initial explosion seems slow. I dutifully check the “Best New Apps” section every week, only to be disappointed by the slow trickle of interesting new apps.

The problem isn’t a complete lack of apps (there were over 2600 back in December, and likely many more than that now), but a dearth of those that make the Apple TV compelling.

One of the complaints from developers is that there’s just no there there. In other words, there’s just not enough to the Apple TV to make developing for it worth the effort, particularly for smaller developers working on iOS.

An Apple Music plea

News came today that Apple is planning a major revamp of Apple Music at its Worldwide Developer Conference in June. This is welcome news for sure. While the service has improved considerably since its introduction, there are still some things that need to addressed—hopefully, this is it.

However, there are some lessons I hope Apple learned from last year’s introduction.

So Apple:

Leave the celebrities at home

This is a developer conference, not a gala event where you can show off all the celebrities you know in the industry. Don’t talk to the first two rows of the audience like you did last year—talk to the 5,000 developers that paid to be there and the millions of customers watching from home.

Listening to Drake stumble his way through a speech about how great Apple is does nothing to help your cause with Apple Music. Most people in that room don’t care—or we don’t care as much as you seem to—we want to see a product that works.

Focus on the product

Showing two dozen screenshots of Pharrell also does nothing for your audience. That crowd wants to hear about the product and how you’ve improved it. They want to know about the APIs that are going to help them build products.

Apple is a great product company, but the first version of Apple Music chipped away a lot of trust people had—that will be difficult to get back, but with a laser focus on the product, it can be done.

Be honest

I think we can be honest and admit you released Apple Music when it wasn’t ready. There were just too many bugs for it to be any other way, but you did it regardless.

Developers and consumers want to know you heard us—that you took our criticisms to heart and you fixed the problems.

I don’t mind a public beta of Apple Music that is being worked on, but don’t walk on that stage and tell me it’s a finished, working product if it isn’t.

The amount of trust and loyalty you’ll lose with another round of broken Apple Music will be mind boggling.

Beauty and respect

Ultimately, we want to see the same dedication you have for your hardware products brought to Apple Music. Hardware works. It’s beautifully designed, elegant, and thoughtful. That’s what you need to show us with Apple Music at WWDC.

Show your developers, customers, and musicians the respect they deserve. We’re paying for this service and we want it to work. We will support your efforts to make it the best service in the world.

Just don’t take us for granted again.

This is a simple way to record a call. Are there laws against recording a call without someone’s knowledge?

I’ve not tried this, but I would never record a call without everyone on the call acknowledging they are cool with being recorded. This smells like trouble.

UPDATE: Here’s a legal guide to recording phone calls and conversations. [H/T Jim Neal]

Washington Post:

A hacker in Finland has become the youngest person to receive a reward from Facebook’s bug bounty program — but he’ll have to wait three years before he’s old enough to humblebrag about it on the social media platform.

Our hope for the future.

DigiTimes:

Apple has increased orders for its low-priced iPhone SE in the second quarter of 2016, according to industry sources. The second-quarter outlook for related chip orders has been revised to more than five million units from 3.5-4 million.

The outlook for Apple’s chip orders for iPhone SE for the third quarter will likely be similar to that for the second quarter, said the sources.

iPhone SE is a bright spot.

Lots and lots of data here, gathered from more than 7,000 developers. Interesting read, visually well presented.

The Apple Watch is a glass half full. A big glass.

Take a few minutes to read Nilay Patel’s take on the Apple Watch.

His assessment is certainly accurate. Apps take a relatively long time to launch and there is too much lag when an app has to communicate with the iPhone.

I see this as a glass half full. I love my Apple Watch, wear it every day. These are the things I get from my watch at a glance, with no lag:

  • Current time
  • The day and date
  • Current outside temperature
  • Texts
  • Email
  • Other notifications
  • Alarm settings
  • Battery life

There is a ton of value here. All of this functionality is immediate. The only lag is the time it takes for my watch screen to light up.

Add to this list Siri interaction (Siri is its own glass half full), Apple Maps integration (mileage to next turn, wrist taps when a turn is close, all incredibly useful), and Calendar integration (I use Fantastical’s complication, works very well).

This is a glass half full, but a really big glass, with lots of capacity for improvement. This was first generation hardware and I have incorporated it into my day-to-day life.

I do see Nilay’s disappointment. But I would urge patience here. Point out the flaws, that helps Apple home in on what to change. But give Apple another generation to address the flaws (I suspect these issues are not software fixable, or they’d be fixed) and judge the change.

I can’t imagine that we won’t see significant changes with the next generation of Apple Watch.

Washington Post:

Even during the short time that Brazil’s ban on the Facebook-owned app was in effect, people still found other ways to access the type of encrypted messaging features that triggered the block in the first place.

Several rival apps that offer encrypted messaging services reported a surge in Brazilian sign-ups, which highlights how the growing ubiquity of private messaging apps makes it hard to stop people from using them.

Living proof. Banning or weakening encryption just does not work. All it does is push people to other communication channels.

Bloomberg:

Apple Inc. is planning sweeping changes to its year-old music streaming service after the first iteration of the product was met with tepid reviews and several executives brought in to revive the company’s music strategy departed.

Apple is altering the user interface of Apple Music to make it more intuitive to use, according to people familiar with the product who asked not to be identified because the plans aren’t public. Apple also plans to better integrate its streaming and download businesses and expand its online radio service, the people said. The reboot is expected to be unveiled at the company’s Worldwide Developers Conference in June. The changes will be accompanied by a marketing blitz to lure more customers to the $10-per-month streaming service. An Apple spokesman declined to comment.

Hallelujah. I wonder if the WWDC unveiling means a more robust Apple Music API. The existing API is pretty limited. Apple should take a look at the kinds of things you can do with SoundShare, which lets you collaborate on playlists (your friends can add songs to a common playlist), create a playlist with songs from different services (Apple Music/Spotify/Deezer), and see what your friends are listening to (Jim can see what music Slash is listening to, as opposed to scrolling through Slash’s marketing page).

Using the WWDC stage to show off a new Apple Music interface, with no new developer-specific goodies to share, would be like showcasing Drake’s music on the App Store page.

UPDATE: Some of the mentioned SoundShare functionality won’t hit the App Store until the new release, which (I’m told) should be live tomorrow (Thursday). Try it out. It’s free.

May 3, 2016

Accessibility enables people with disabilities to perceive, understand, navigate, interact with, and contribute to the web. Imagine a world where developers know everything there is to know about accessibility. You design it and they build it… perfectly. In this world, only the design itself can cause people with disabilities to have trouble using a product.

How the hell can this be possible?

Apple has hired famed robotics expert Yoky Matsuoka, one of the co-founders of Google’s X lab and former head of technology at Nest, to work on the iPhone maker’s health projects.

Her credentials are outstanding.

But malware attacks are on the rise and OS X is no longer immune to such threats. According to a study from Bit9 and Carbon Black, 2015 was a banner year for malware on the Mac, with more than 1,400 unique samples collected and analyzed, a whopping five-fold increase over the previous five years combined.

I have MacScan on my system and it works great.

One of Leo Fender’s first and finest amp designs, the Fender Deluxe was introduced in 1946. After various circuit tweaks, Fender eventually landed on the now historic “wide-panel” 5E3 Deluxe in 1955. This amplifier’s touch-sensitivity has a dynamic range from clean and sweet, to overdriven raunch that’s made it a go-to recording amp for the likes of Larry Carlton, Neil Young, Mike Campbell, Daniel Lanois, and Billy Gibbons.

I have never been so excited to try out a plug-in. It took Universal Audio two years to complete this single plug-in.

Sir Jony Ive, chief design officer of Apple was one of the four co-hosts of Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Gala alongside Anna Wintour of Vogue, singer Taylor Swift and actor Idris Elba. Apple, was an underwriter of an event widely known as “Oscars of the East Coast.” Here is a text of his speech at the event.

500px:

What would a serene body of water look like if someone were to shatter it into a million pieces? Good question. That’s what we found when photographer and master illusionist Erik Johansson brought a cool concept to life, with a Hasselblad H5D-40 and 17 pieces of mirrors.

“This is an image I’ve been working on for the past months. I wanted to create an image where a lake is breaking up as a mirror,” Erik shares in his 500px caption. “I wanted to make the effect look as realistic as possible, so I decided to buy 17 square meters of mirrors last summer and brought out the mirrors, a boat, and the model to a stone-pit.”

The result? This epic photo that captured our imagination—and blew our minds.

This kind of photo-illustration just melts my brain. I can’t even conceive of the concept let alone have the incredible skills this guy has, both in the camera and on the computer.

Time:

Think of the gear you can’t live without: The smartphone you constantly check. The camera that goes with you on every vacation. The TV that serves as a portal to binge-watching and -gaming. Each owes its influence to one model that changed the course of technology for good.

It’s those devices we’re recognizing in this list of the 50 most influential gadgets of all time.

These lists are always fun/interesting and congratulations to Apple for having the iPhone named as #1 but, is it just me or does anyone think of the iPhone as most certainly not a “gadget”?

Above Avalon:

Apple’s 2Q16 earnings report was not pretty. Not only did iPhone sales decline year-over-year for the first time, but management issued alarming guidance for 3Q16, suggesting another very difficult quarter for iPhone sales. In addition, Apple expects iPhone average selling price (ASP) and margin to deteriorate due to the recently introduced $400 iPhone SE.

On top of it all, Apple will take a historically large $2 billion inventory adjustment related to the iPhone 6s due to sales coming in below expectations. While some are optimistic that the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus will turn things around in a few months, it’s time to become skeptical. The iPhone growth story is breaking apart, and management does not seem to be in control of the situation.

There is a lot of justifiable doom and gloom surrounding Apple in general and the iPhone in particular so far this year. A lot of it is incomprehensible to those of us who use and enjoy the products the company makes. Personally, I don’t think there’s any need to push a panic button but the company does have some serious challenges ahead for the rest of the year and into 2017.

Petapixel:

Part of my move to start printing my photos comes from my desire to create and share something tangible and special in this age of digital noise and the culture of “now” and “more.”

This post is written to other photographers who might be considering buying and using a photo printer. I’m printing exclusively with the Canon Pixma Pro 100 and couldn’t be happier with the results. Below are some reasons why you should start printing.

I’m a big fan of printing off some of your photos. Along with the reasons included in this post, there’s just a certain “something” about holding your photos in your hand in a tangible, physical form and a sense of pride to be able to take your own work and hang it on your wall or to give to a friend.

There are all kinds of places to do printing online or even locally. Here in British Columbia, I’ve used London Drugs to very inexpensively have some of my shots printed (I also have an Epson R2000 printer at home). Grab a cheap frame from Walmart and a couple of hooks and you’re good to go. I love when friends come over, see the photos on the wall, ask about them and I can say, with no small measure of pride, “I took that shot.”

Bloomberg:

India has rejected Apple Inc.’s request to import and sell refurbished iPhones to the world’s second largest mobile population, a telecommunications ministry official said Tuesday.

The U.S. company’s application has been turned down, the official said, asking to not be identified, citing official policy. Apple has been seeking permission to import and sell used phones to court price-conscious consumers with a similar proposal rejected in 2015 by the environment ministry.

This might be a serious blow to Apple’s plans in India. The Indian consumer is much more price conscious and less concerned with brand image than China and Apple was counting on refurbs to help them get a foot in the door.