October 26, 2016

“The early response to AirPods has been incredible. We don’t believe in shipping a product before it’s ready, and we need a little more time before AirPods are ready for our customers,”

I love my AirPods and use them all the time. I’ve had a few little issues, but nothing major.


Dawn Chmielewski writing for USA Today:

Described to network executives as “the Watch List,” the app will recommend shows based on the content viewers access through their Apple TVs. For example, a subscriber to FX Networks might be encouraged to check out the new dramatic series Atlanta.

I’m still waiting for Single Sign-On that was promised with the release of tvOS 10.

We are delighted to announce that this year’s Claridge’s Christmas Tree will be designed by long-time friends of the hotel, Sir Jony Ive, Chief Design Officer at Apple, and Marc Newson, one of the world’s most influential industrial designers. The tree will be unveiled in Claridge’s lobby on Friday 18 November, 2016.

The Claridge’s Christmas Tree has long been a seasonal landmark and symbolises the start of the festive season in the capital, drawing visitors and Londoners alike to admire its creative design. This is the seventh year that Claridge’s has invited a favourite guest to reinterpret the tree in their own distinctive style.

The rollout of Google Fiber will be paused in Chicago, Dallas, Jacksonville, Los Angeles, Oklahoma City, Phoenix, Portland, San Diego, San Jose, and Tampa, Dilts added.

It will continue in places where it is already active, so existing customers needn’t worry. It will be interesting to see how AT&T’s fiber project reacts to this.

15 Minutes in the Morning:

From all I’ve read, it sounds like Wirecutter and Sweethome were steadily increasing their revenue over the years as the ad-supported content business has been slowly burning down. Brian doesn’t lose money if readers use ad blockers to protect their bandwidth and security. His team of writers are paid well for their work. Even the NYT is reporting losses year after year from advertising so it’s a smart move to bring Brian’s sites into the organization and explore other options to support great tech journalism.

I don’t think anyone gives Brian the credit he deserves

I think the sites are amazing, using them on a regular basis, but I don’t think the sale itself is. Actually, the sale makes me worry what The New York Times will do to make changes to suit itself, rather than its readers.

Ars Technica:

The age of Apple’s Mac lineup has become a topic of frequent conversation (slash punchline) among tech journalists and commentators lately. The oft-referenced MacRumors Buyers Guide has been a constellation of big, red “DON’T BUY” labels for months, and it’s because we’ve only gotten one Mac update since October of 2015.

That’s all set to change on Thursday when Apple takes the wraps off its new Macs at an event in Cupertino.

It’s unlikely all of these products will be upgraded tomorrow but Apple has a lot of catching up to do.

Hypnotic video of robots working together to make tiny springs

This is wonderful to watch. I love the fact that all the robots are focused on a central point, working together to operate on something tiny.

[Via Kottke]

Jeff Geerling commenting on the apparent loss of the escape key (Shawn called this out yesterday in this post) on the recently leaked MacBook Pro image, with a suggestion on replacing it.

Mark Gurman and Gerrit De Vynck, writing for Bloomberg:

Apple Inc. has dozens of software engineers in Canada building a car operating system, a rare move for a company that often houses research and development projects close to its Cupertino, California headquarters, according to people familiar with the matter.

Many of the engineers working in Canada were hired over the past year and about two dozen came from BlackBerry Ltd.’s QNX, a leading automotive software provider, the people said. They asked not to be identified discussing details of a secret project.


The most notable Apple hire from QNX was its chief executive officer, Dan Dodge. Since joining Apple’s Project Titan car initiative early this year, he’s taken on a larger role overseeing the car operating system, splitting his time between Canada and California, the people said. Another notable addition is Derrick Keefe, who left QNX last year after more than a decade as a senior engineer, one of the people said.

They are all busy skating to where the puck is going to be.

Ron Amadeo, writing for Ars Technica:

The most interesting tidbit comes from David Pierce, a senior staff writer at our sister site Wired. Speaking on the Wired Podcast, Pierce said he was told that the Pixel phones had a mere nine months of development time. After asking Google why the phone didn’t have the same level of water resistance as other high-end flagships, Pierce said, “their answer was essentially ‘We ran out of time.’ There apparently had been this plan for a long time, and at the end of 2015, they blew it all up and started over. So they essentially went from nothing to launch in nine months and a week.”


Let’s examine this timeline. Why would Google “blow everything up” at the end of 2015? We can fill in the blanks with a report from Android Police, which claims that Google’s 2016 smartphone lineup was originally going to be built by Huawei.

“Shortly after the Nexus 5X and 6P launched, Google began talks with Huawei to produce its 2016 smartphone portfolio,” the report reads. “Google, though, set a hard rule for the partnership: Huawei would be relegated to a manufacturing role, producing phones with Google branding.” According to the report, Huawei balked at the lack of branding, and “CEO Richard Yu himself ended negotiations with Google right then and there.”

If we put these two accounts together, it’s easy to conclude that Google and Huawei’s talks ate into the development time of the Google/HTC Pixel. When the decision to go with a self-branded phone came down, Huawei walked away, which led to—as Pierce said—Google “blowing everything up” and switching to HTC.

To some, the Ars Technica headline might imply that the Pixel is less than excellent. I’ll leave that to others to judge, but the Pixel certainly has a lot of fans. To me, getting there with only 9 months of dedicated engineering calendar time is incredibly impressive. The backstory is interesting, though.

Shoutout to the community-minded Jason Snell and Serenity Caldwell for capturing the transcript of the earnings call, as they do. Thank you both.

On the call, one particular question that is getting a lot of discussion:

Steve Milunovich, UBS: Some investors are antsy that Apple’s not acquired new profit pools or introduced a financially-material new product in recent years. The question is: A, does Apple today have a grand strategy for what you want to do? I know you won’t tell us what it is, but do you know what you want to do over the next three to maybe five years? Or is it more a “read the market and quickly react”? And B, do you have any sense of — we’re kind of in a gap period where the technology and, arguably, what we’d call the next job to be done, haven’t yet aligned, and maybe in a couple years we will see this flurry of new products and it’ll sort of match what people want to do, but it’s not quite here yet.

And Tim’s response:

We have the strongest pipeline that we’ve ever had and we’re really confident about the things in it, but as usual, we’re not going to talk about what’s in it.

Steve’s followup:

But in terms of your approach, I guess, to new products? Do you have a strong sense of where the technology’s going and where you’re going to play, or is it still enough up in the air that you’re willing to react fairly quickly, which, arguably, your organization allows you to do for the size of the company you are?


We have a strong sense of where things go, and we’re very agile to shift as we need to.

Everyone, including Apple’s competitors, wants to know what Apple has up its sleeve. On one level, there’s doubt being expressed as to whether Apple has anything significant up their sleeves at all (as always, Apple is doomed). And on another level, there’s curiosity as to the specifics of what’s coming.

Why ask? Either way, Tim is not going to tell you. And in my opinion, it’s foolish to read anything into Tim’s answer. I believe that Apple has much more in the works than a car and TV content, more than anyone outside the company has seen. I believe that Apple, behind the scenes, is rapidly skating to where the puck is going to be, not reacting to existing market conditions.

Thanks again to iMore, Serenity, and Jason for pulling together this transcript. It makes excellent reading.

This is a no-brainer. PDF Viewer is built by the team behind PSPDFKit, the top mobile PDF framework incorporated into apps like Dropbox, Box, HipChat, Evernote and Ulysses and used internally by companies such as IBM, SAP, United Airlines, BMW, Audi and many more. In short, these folks really know the ins and outs of PDF.

PDF Viewer is free on the iOS App Store. Here’s the iTunes link. Go get it.

UPDATE: PDF Viewer was just added to the “New Apps We Love” list in the iOS App Store. Well that didn’t take long!

October 25, 2016

Apple reports $9 billion quarterly profit

Apple on Tuesday announced a $9 billion profit for the company’s fiscal fourth quarter on 46.9 billion of revenue. These results compare to revenue of $51.5 billion and net income of $11.1 billion, in the year-ago quarter.

Apple sold 45.5 million iPhones in the quarter, down from the 48 million in the year-ago quarter. The company sold 9.2 million iPads, compared to 9.8 million in the year-ago quarter, and they sold 4.8 million Macs, compared to 5.7 in the year-ago quarter.

“Our strong September quarter results cap a very successful fiscal 2016 for Apple,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “We’re thrilled with the customer response to iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus and Apple Watch Series 2, as well as the incredible momentum of our Services business, where revenue grew 24 percent to set another all-time record.”

Apple stock closed up $0.60 at $118.25, but fell $2.33 to $115.93 in after hours trading.


macOS Sierra 10.12.1, released yesterday, includes hidden Apple Pay images that depict the brand new MacBook Pro with an OLED touch panel that’s set to be announced by Apple on Thursday, October 27.

In addition to confirming that such a product is in the works, the images give us our first full look at the redesigned MacBook Pro ahead of its launch. An OLED touch panel is located on top of the keyboard, where the function keys would normally be placed, and it very clearly supports Touch ID, as it is seen used with Apple Pay.

No Escape key.

Nobuyuki Hayashi:

The event was reported on uncountable number of media outlets, from radios, TVs and web news (Blog was still new back then, and there were virtually no social media). But not many of the coverages talks about the story of the 20 CDs.

After announcing the original iPod, Steve Jobs’ said Apple has prepared about 250 prototypes of the original iPods which the invited journalists can take away (but later return). The iPod was loaded with music from 20 CDs, so the journalists can try iPod out on the way back home.

Steve Jobs insisted that Apple has no intention of stealing away the sales of the music industry; remember this was way before iTunes Music Store. What Apple did to keep its word is buying same number of 20 CDs sets and gave it along with the iPod prototypes to the journalists.

The clever folks at Reddit have created an Apple Music and Spotify playlist of the above mentioned CDs.

Atlas Obscura:

Thanks to all of you, there are now more than 10,000 incredible hidden wonders shared in the Atlas.

To celebrate, we’ve put them on all one map. The possibilities are vast, from the Icelandic witchcraft museum to the tree goats of Morocco, to Galileo’s middle finger, to the Skeleton Lake of India and thousands of other strange wonders across the world’s continents and oceans.

Next time you go traveling, check out this map to see what is in the area you’ll be visiting. Next year, I’m (hopefully) heading to Portugal and Southeast Asia to teach beginning photography workshops and I’ve already picked out some of these extraordinary places to visit.


There’s a reason we wait in line outside the theater for big movie releases: because where you sit matters. A prime, central location will not only ensure the most direct view and best surround experience, it will also save your neck and keep you out of the path of mid-movie bathroomgoers. But what’s the best spot to plant your flag when those doors swing open?

About two thirds of the way back, as close to the center as possible.

At 6’3″, I generally sit on the aisle for legroom but I’m going to try this “trick” next time I go to a theater.

Austin Mann:

As photographers, we’re always looking for new ways to direct the eye of the audience throughout our images.

Our eyes are generally drawn to color, clarity, brightness, and contrast. We can adjust and manipulate each of these parameters to direct the viewer’s eye to different points in our images.

Portrait Mode on the iPhone 7 Plus allows us to radically adjust the “clarity” parameter, giving us a whole new capability on the iPhone camera platform.

Notice the difference in these shots from a professional photographer, in particular, the background elements. Something I teach my students all the time is to look behind your subject to see if there are elements there that don’t add to or even subtract/distract from your subject.

John Gruber, reacting to this post from Lauren Goode about iMessage stickiness:

There’s a split between iPhone users who are primarily part of the Apple ecosystem (iCloud, Safari, Apple Mail, …) and those who are part of the Google ecosystem (Google Drive, Google Calendar, Chrome, Gmail, …).

iMessage is an exception. With iMessage you get to connect both with iPhone users in the Google ecosystem and iPhone users in the Apple ecosystem. For a lot of us here in the U.S., that’s just about everyone we know. It’s no coincidence that two of Google’s major Android initiatives this year are Allo and Duo, their answers to iMessage and FaceTime. I don’t think it’s going to work.


As an iOS/MacOS exclusive, iMessage is a glue that “keeps people stuck to their iPhones and Macs”, not the glue. iMessage for Android would surely lead some number of iPhone users to switch to Android, but I think that number is small enough to be a rounding error for Apple. Apple wins by creating devices and experiences that people want to use, not that they have to use.

Both Lauren Goode’s original and Gruber’s reaction posts are interesting and worth reading.

Here’s a link to a brochure describing the ranking process.

Interesting to view the list with Brexit in mind. As is, 3 of the top 10 (As noted in the comments, Switzerland is not part of the EU), including #1 Oxford, are in the EU. After Brexit, 0.

John Markoff, writing for the New York Times:

Imagine receiving a phone call from your aging mother seeking your help because she has forgotten her banking password.

Except it’s not your mother. The voice on the other end of the phone call just sounds deceptively like her.

It is actually a computer-synthesized voice, a tour-de-force of artificial intelligence technology that has been crafted to make it possible for someone to masquerade via the telephone.

Such a situation is still science fiction — but just barely. It is also the future of crime.

Very believable to me. If they can stick a perfect simulation of Audrey Hepburn in a modern TV ad, it’s not a far stretch to imagine them simulating my mom’s voice.


Apple.com time-lapse: Two decades in three minutes

Pretty well done. [Via iHeartApple2]

An explainer from the Washington Post on the AT&T Time Warner deal. Two points that stick out:

AT&T, the nation’s second-largest wireless carrier, is buying Time Warner, the storied media titan that owns HBO, CNN and TBS. In an unprecedented step, the deal is going to combine a gigantic telecom operator — which also happens to be the largest pay-TV company — and a massive producer of entertainment content.

It means that for millions of Americans, AT&T will control both the pipes of distribution and much of the shows, movies and other content that travels through the pipes. It’s hard to overstate the significance of this move, both in terms of scale and in terms of the ripple effects this will have on Hollywood, the cable industry, the cellular industry and the broadband industry.

In other words, AT&T may be about to own a huge trove of some of the most recognizable names in media. This is a big moment, because anytime you watch anything owned by Time Warner, that’ll be money in AT&T’s pocket. It’ll put AT&T in direct competition with companies such as Netflix and Amazon, giving it a big incentive to use its content and distribution platform as leverage against them. And it could spur a frenzy of other acquisitions, driving even more consolidation in the industry.


The deal is already drawing loud protests from politicians on both ends of the ideological spectrum, at a time when national conversations about inequality have made critiquing large businesses a matter of populist appeal. U.S. lawmakers are already calling for an antitrust hearing on the issue.

The reaction from business analysts seems mixed; while many agree that buying up content is a natural move for telcos in an era of rapid convergence, some, such as Craig Moffett of MoffettNathanson, say it has only a 50-50 chance of succeeding with regulators.

This is far from a done deal. And Apple is still there, waiting in the wings.

Matt Richtel, writing for the New York Times when the original iPod was announced:

Apple Computer introduced a portable music player today and declared that the new gadget, called the iPod, was so much easier to use that it would broaden a nascent market in the way the Macintosh once helped make the personal computer accessible to a more general audience.


But while industry analysts said the device appeared to be as consumer friendly as the company said it was, they also pointed to its relatively limited potential audience, around seven million owners of the latest Macintosh computers. Apple said it had not yet decided whether to introduce a version of the music player for computers with the Windows operating system, which is used by more than 90 percent of personal computer users.


Steven P. Jobs, Apple’s chief executive, disputed the concern that the market was limited, and said the company might have trouble meeting holiday demand. He predicted that the improvement in technology he said the iPod represented would inspire consumers to buy Macintosh computers so they could use an iPod.

Think they’ll sell any? I love the reference to that “relatively limited potential audience”.

October 24, 2016

macOS Sierra, tvOS, watchOS updated

It’s a big day for Apple OS updates. Earlier today iOS 10.1 was updated, and now macOS Sierra, tvOS, watchOS have all received major updates. You can update each of the OSes on their respective devices—except the watchOS, that has to be downloaded from the iPhone app before updating.

The AE600 is the next generation of active equalization. New and unique EQ modes, independent control of fixed and active EQ bands, and an ultra low latency algorithm make the AE600 the perfect solution for any audio production.

McDSP makes some quality software.

The Guardian:

These days, no one requires a Swiss watch to tell the time – or a watch from any country. The time displayed on our mobile phones and other digital devices will always be more accurate than the time displayed on even the most skilfully engineered mechanical watch, yet the industry has a visual presence in our lives like few others. The storefronts of the world’s big-money boulevards glow with the lustre of Rolex and Omega; newspapers and magazines appear to be kept in business largely by watch adverts; airports would be empty shells without them.

But why do we continue to buy these over-engineered and redundant machines? Why do so many people pay so much for an item whose principal function may be bought for so little? And how does the watch industry not only survive in the digital age, but survive well enough to erect a 16,000-litre salt‑water shrine to its continued mastery of an outmoded art? Far beyond the telling of time, watches tell us something about ourselves. And so the answers to these questions lie within our propensity for extreme fantasy, our consumption of dazzling marketing, our unbridled and shameless capacity for ostentation, and our renewed reverence for craftsmanship in a digital world.

I don’t know how improbable it is. After all, rich people have and will always want rich people products, won’t they?

Apple releases iOS 10.1

A huge release from Apple, which includes the new Portrait mode for iPhone 7 Plus users (the feature that blurs the background in your photo), is now available. You can go to Settings > General > Software Update to get the download. If you don’t have an iPhone 7 Plus, you can use FabFocus to get a similar effect on an iPhone 5s or later.

Mountain Duck – based on the solid open source foundation of Cyberduck – lets you mount server and cloud storage as a disk on your desktop. Open remote files with any application and work like on a local volume without synchronising files.

Use coupon code “THELOOP” to get a 20% discount this week.