August 17, 2018

The Dalrymple Report: Hacking Apple, Twitter, and Apple Watch with Dave Mark

A teenager hacked Apple, Twitter killed the APIs that developers use for their apps, Dave found a cool new feature on the Apple Watch, and—surprise— Google tracks you, even when you don’t want them to.

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Paul Guyot:

So, this guy is walking down the street. A rumpled, stained, fast food uniform. Obviously just off a long day of serving ungrateful, hurried guests. But he knows self-care. He’s got himself an ice cream cone.

And he is in a state of nirvana. He’s enjoying this (I’m sure well deserved) ice cream cone like it’s the last one he’s ever gonna have. He is focused. No one has ever been this focused, except maybe Carlos Hathcock.

His focus is only broken by the sound of a bus… I watch him look, and see the realization come over his face – this bus is where he is headed with his delicious feast. And that there is no way he gets there before it leaves… unless he runs.

Twitter is often a dumpster fire, seemingly run by people who have no clue about business in general and Twitter specifically. Many people, here and elsewhere, dismiss Twitter and whatever value it may have. That’s completely understandable.

But sometimes (yes – far too rarely), Twitter brings me a great deal of joy. This thread is an example of that. Thanks to my friend Jared Earle for pointing me to it.

Marc Rooding, Medium:

During that night, my girlfriend and I were fast asleep, when at 03:45 the doorbell rang. We looked at each other dazed. I got out of bed and attempted to journey downstairs in my boxers when the doorbell rang again. Before opening the door I went into the living room to gaze out of the window. A police car with 2 policemen was standing in front of our house. I opened the door and was welcomed with the question whether I owned a BMW with a specific license plate. They said that a car burglary had taken place.

Read the story. Short version, the thieves tried a new approach that might signal a new wave of auto theft techniques. If nothing else, this will give you something to be aware of, if your car is ever broken into, but nothing appears to be taken.

Michael Tsai collected a variety of comments and links about the #BreakingMyTwitter changes Twitter just made that broke 3rd party Twitter clients. There’s just a ton of great reading here.

I would start with this blog post from Twitter’s own Ron Johnson trying to explain Twitter’s intentions.

One take missing from Michael’s collection is this post from John Gruber, which specifically addresses his preference for his 3rd party client of choice, Tweetbot (which I use as well).

One thing that struck me is this bit, from the end of John’s post:

When Rob Johnson shared his email this morning about Twitter and third-party clients, he did so by tweeting two screenshots of the message. Those screenshots show he uses a third-party email client on his iPhone. So my simple argument to Johnson is this: I prefer a third-party Twitter client for the same reason you prefer a third-party iOS email client. One size doesn’t fit all.

Exactly.

Jason Snell, Six Colors:

I went to a wedding in London over the summer, and as you might expect at an event full of techy people, I ended up with hundreds of photos of the event from numerous sources—at least six. I imported them all into my Photos library and then discovered that they were all mixed up—the bride walking down the aisle, immediately followed by dancing at the reception, followed by the exchanging of vows.

This happens to me every time I get photos from other folks and try to mix them with my own photos of the same event. This is especially true when I travel with a group, and we each have our own view of the same series of locations.

The issue, for the most part, is the time stamps and device clocks:

Most cameras embed time data on every file they take, which is great, but whenever I try to mix photos from multiple sources in one place, I end up discovering all the ways that the clocks don’t match. For some of them, the clock is right but the time zone is wrong. For others (especially non-cellular devices that rely on a human to set their clock correctly) there are a few minutes of drift. For still others, there’s a time but not a time zone embedded.

Though this is less and less an issue as more and more photos are taken with clocks set by servers, there are still time zone issues, as well as photos taken using regular cameras.

Take the time to make your way through Jason’s post. If nothing else, I appreciate the walkthrough of smart albums and what they can do for you. Great stuff.

If you haven’t heard about this story, here’s yesterday’s Loop post. Shocking stuff.

Apple’s reassuring response:

An Apple spokesman said the company’s information security personnel “discovered the unauthorized access, contained it, and reported the incident to law enforcement” without commenting further on the specifics of the case.

“We … want to assure our customers that at no point during this incident was their personal data compromised,” the spokesman said.

That last is so good to know.

If you are considering a Verizon unlimited plan, here’s the link to that free six months of Apple Music page.

6 months times $9.99 is $59.94. Worth it if you’re going that direction anyway. And the way I read it, you get the free 6 months even if you already have an unlimited plan.

Andrew O’Hara, Apple Insider:

Google updated help center documentation Thursday to clarify its location data collection policies, changes made in light of recent revelations that the firm’s apps and website continue to harvest user information even when a global “Location History” setting is disabled.

Here’s a link to the updated Google help page. Read it for yourself.

August 16, 2018

Aretha Franklin, whose gospel-rooted singing and bluesy yet expansive delivery earned her the title “the Queen of Soul,” has died, a family statement said Thursday. She was 76.

The “official cause of death was due to advanced pancreatic cancer of the neuroendocrine type, which was confirmed by Franklin’s oncologist, Dr. Philip Phillips of Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit,” the family statement said.

It’s a sad day. Aretha was one of the absolute greats!

It’s not as if there’s some other mysterious force that maintains Twitter’s API platform, and now poor ol’ Twitter is forced to shut down old technology because there’s simply no other recourse. No.

Twitter, in fact, is the one responsible for its User Streams and Site Streams APIs – the APIs that serve the core functions of these now deprecated third-party Twitter clients. Twitter is the reason these APIs have been stuck in a beta state for nearly a decade. Twitter is the one that decided not to invest in supporting those legacy APIs, or shift them over to its new API platform.

Ugh, Twitter. They don’t like their users. They don’t like the developers that helped make the platform successful. I don’t think they really like themselves. If there is a bad decision that can be made, Twitter will find a way to do it—they’ve proven that over and over again.

Say “May, 2018” and you’ll go right back. Ask for “Cupertino” and you’ll be there. Combine the places and times and Siri will take you anywhere — and any when — you want to go!

Good tip. It sure beats scrolling endlessly looking for a particular photo.

Here’s a link to the song Everytime (A Cappella) for you to try for yourself.

I clicked the link on my Mac, logged in to the page that appeared, and was able to listen to the song in my browser, without jumping to iTunes.

According to the Reddit comments, this seems to have appeared sometime after WWDC. It also appears that there is a 3rd party API so people can build their own web-based music players. The API might still be in beta, though I tested the above link on the public release of High Sierra.

Interesting.

UPDATE: Here’s a post from Kirk McElhearn about all this from back in June, when it first became available.

Tim Hardwick, MacRumors:

The new plans include 100GB storage for $1.99 a month, 200GB for $2.99 a month, and 2TB for $9.99 a month (down from $19.99). The free 15GB for non-paying users remains. There’s also a new family option for divvying up a single storage plan amongst up to five members.

And Apple:

Apple’s iCloud monthly storage plans aren’t so different: they start with 5GB free storage for non-paying users, then offer 50GB for $0.99, 200GB for $2.99, and 2TB for $9.99.

To me, 5GB might as well be zero. The smallest configuration for Apple’s most popular phone, the iPhone X, is 64GB. What does that 5GB offer for a 64GB phone? It seems paltry. To me, this is stingy and bad optics.

At the very least, I think Apple should match Google’s free 15GB and unlimited free photo storage. Even better, raise that bar. As is, this feels like nickel and diming people who are spending as much as $1,000 for a phone.

This is definitely more interesting than useful. Just a historic artifact.

Wow, just wow.

Neil Cybart:

There are three drivers behind Apple’s return to revenue growth:

  1. iPhone. The average selling price (ASP) of iPhone is up $100 year-over-year.
  2. Services. Apple is seeing strong revenue growth from the App Store, licensing, and AppleCare.
  3. Wearables. Apple’s wearables platform is gaining sales momentum as Apple Watch and AirPods go mainstream.

Lots of interesting detail in the article. On that last bullet, I am seeing Apple Watch and AirPods everywhere now.

When I am out running, I see more and more other runners with AirPods in their ears. Mainstream is the right term here.

On a related note, I get why Apple sticks with white as the only color. As was the case when the iPod first started, those white headphones were incredibly important to the branding. I see AirPods white as a similarly important brand marker.

August 15, 2018

AppleInsider:

The iMac is the machine that famously saved Apple back in 1998 —but it didn’t stop there. Rarely standing still, it has kept at the forefront of Apple design, yet today’s iMac has the same design goals it always has. AppleInsider looks back at the beginning of the line, all the way to today.

I still remember the first time I saw the iMac in real life at the 1998 Macworld Expo in New York City. I watched Apple techs set up several dozen of them in Apple’s booth at the Javits Center ahead of the Steve Jobs Keynote. I will always maintain that the iMac saved Apple. Without it, the company wouldn’t have survived long enough to accomplish all the amazing things it did in the ensuing years and we would all be the poorer for it.

MacRumors:

Ahead of upcoming Twitter changes set to be implemented tomorrow, Tapbots has released an updated version of its Tweetbot app for iOS devices, removing several features that have been present in the app for years.

Timeline streaming over Wi-Fi has been disabled, which means Twitter timelines will refresh every one to two minutes instead of as new tweets come in. We’ve been using the Tweetbot for iOS app in a beta capacity with these changes implemented, and while it’s not a huge change, the delay is noticeable.

These “changes” will also affect those of us who use Twitterrific as well as any other third-party Twitter client. Amazing to watch Twitter slit its own throat almost in real time.

Super Duper advanced Mac tricks!

The title put me off, but I dove in anyway. And it was worth it.

There’s a lot goin on in this video. Sometimes the value is not in the tip itself, but in the journey, the exploration, the techniques involved in bringing the tip to life. A lot of little nuggets here. Worth your time.

Great marketing campaign. Looking forward to seeing how this plays out when the Browns do win.

Juli Clover, MacRumors:

There’s a thriving market for unofficial, aftermarket iPhone parts, and in China, there are entire massive factories that are dedicated to producing these components for repair shops unable to get ahold of parts that have been produced by Apple.

The entire Apple device repair ecosystem is fascinating, complex, and oftentimes confusing to consumers given the disconnect between Apple, Apple Authorized Service Providers, third-party factories, and independent repair shops, so we thought we’d delve into the complicated world of Apple repairs.

Terrific, fascinating read.

Variety:

HQ Trivia is taking a leap to bigger screens: The mobile quiz show startup has launched an app for Apple TV. The company announced the new app on Twitter Tuesday.

The new app makes it possible to both watch the daily quiz show as well as vote with the help of the Apple TV’s remote control.

HQ Trivia is a clever idea, a game show that comes to your iPhone, replete with entertaining hosts and witty patter. It’s got a social component and works well with a group of people.

Porting it to Apple TV is a good idea, but it could be even better. As is, it is simply one more device on which you can play. Instead of playing on your phone, you play on your TV. That’s fine.

But I’d love a version that brings the banter off-line, like the excellent Jackbox Party Pack games. If you’ve got a group of friends coming over, I’d suggest giving these a try. Fun will be had.

CNBC:

Apple has a team exploring a custom processor that can make better sense of health information coming off sensors from deep inside its devices, job listings show.

Here’s an Apple job listing for a Sensor ASIC Architect (ASIC being Application-specific integrated circuit).

Building custom chips for narrow functions can help Apple add new features and improve efficiency of its hardware while protecting its intellectual property from would-be imitators.

Rene Ritchie just posted an excellent Vector episode that talks about Apple’s chip ambitions. Apple’s chip investments are paying dividends and they are slowly specializing, expanding their proprietary chips, bringing capabilities to future products that other companies cannot simply copy.

Bloomberg:

Verizon Communications Inc. announced deals making Apple Inc. and Google its first video providers for a superfast 5G wireless service the company plans to launch in four cities later this year.

And:

With the introduction, Verizon will provide 5G customers either a free Apple TV box or free subscription to Google’s YouTube TV app for live television service, according to people familiar with the plan.

This partnership is a big, legitimizing win for Apple TV. But I’m still not sold on 5G.

5G has limitations. It requires major infrastructure, expensive network hardware to propagate the signal, meaning it will be prohibitively expensive to be able to serve rural areas, is ideally suited for dense urban areas.

Also:

High-frequency 5G radio signals are easily disrupted by rain and foliage and remain commercially unproven. But if successful, the technology could lead to as much as $200 billion a year in industry-wide development spending.

I have high hopes that some form of high speed wireless will eventually replace wired service, make broadband more widely available and, most importantly, bring competition to the marketplace, give consumers more choices.

August 14, 2018

As part of version 9.6 of Universal Audio’s software, the company released the Century Tube Channel Strip, Suhr PT100 Amplifier, and the Brainworx bx_masterdesk. The part of the release that I’m most looking forward to is the Bill Putnam Microphone Collection.

For use with the Townsend Labs Sphere L22 microphone system, the Bill Putnam Collection plug-in features the “best-of-the-best” from iconic engineer and recording pioneer Bill Putnam Sr.’s personal mic locker, including hand-picked mics that recorded Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra, Elvis, and more.

Yes, please!

A camera that shoots out a macro lens, capturing remarkable hi-res, slow motion video

Hard to explain. Just watch the video. Pretty cool.

Good read, all the way through. Useful stuff, pass it along.

Denmark’s augmented reality coverage of the Tour De France wins everything

This is a brilliant use of augmented reality. Watch the video embedded in the tweet.

Wonderful stuff.

First things first, can we all agree that Loop Disease is a terrible name? 😉

But I digress.

Motherboard:

For the past six months, Cerva has been receiving large numbers of iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus devices—often 10 to 15 per week—with a similar issue: one of the pads that connects the audio chip, which is located on the motherboard near the SIM card tray, has come loose.

And:

The early symptoms are a grayed-out Voice Memos icon, a grayed-out “speaker” button during phone calls, or intermittent freezing. Eventually, the phone can get stuck on the Apple logo instead of powering on. Cerva calls the issue “loop disease,” in reference to “touch disease,” a similar issue that affected thousands of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus units starting around 2016.

And:

The fix, Jones and Cerva agreed, is straightforward: they remove the audio chip, then solder a small segment of wire underneath it to repair the connection. Cerva can complete the repair in just 15 minutes, he said; Jones said that a qualified shop should be able to carry out the repair for between $100 and $150.

If you have, or know someone with an iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus, read the article and check out the image (with the greyed out Speaker icon) towards the bottom of the article.

The iPhones 7 were released in September 2016.

John Gruber, commenting on the new wave of big, clunky, Galaxy watches from Samsung:

Samsung is sticking with round faces — you certainly can’t call these ripoffs of Apple Watch. But I think that’s a mistake for a digital watch. At 42 and 46mm, both sizes are much larger (and heavier) than Apple Watches. Because Apple measures its watches vertically, they sound closer in size than they actually are. A 42mm Apple Watch is 36mm wide, and a 38mm Apple Watch is just 33mm wide. Apple remains the only company making smartwatches for women and men with small wrists.

I do wish my Apple Watch was thinner. The weight is not an issue for me, but I can imagine a thinner future Apple Watch, still rectangular, but with a gently curved body that matches the curved wrist surface on which it sits.

What I can’t imagine is ever moving to a bigger, clunkier smartwatch.