July 28, 2016

Microsoft Corp said it would cut about 2,850 more jobs over the next 12 months, taking its total planned job cuts to up to 4,700, or about 4 percent of its workforce.

I hate seeing people lose their jobs.

It was craftsmanship rather than the bottom line that motivated Brian Holmes when he decided in 2010 to start a business and went looking for a manufacturer. He and his wife, Kari, started Pad & Quill, a company based in Minneapolis that makes high-end cases and other products for the iPhone and other Apple products.

I’ve raved about Pad & Quill on this site many times. It’s great seeing them get recognized for their commitment to quality.

Apple launches Spanish App Store Twitter account

Apple on Thursday launched a new Spanish App Store Twitter account. Followers of the account will get information on new apps for iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Apple TV and Mac.

The new account will also spotlight local developers, and will showcase recurring weekly features such as ‘Workout Apps on Wednesday’ and ‘Great Entertainment Apps on the Weekend.’

During the first few days following the launch of @AppStoreES, App Store editors will be unveiling the apps they’re obsessed with across all products in Apple’s ecosystem.

Lenny Letter:

If you happen to be reading this on a Mac, take a look at the command key — it was designed by Susan Kare back in the ’80s, a time when computer screens were often black spaces with blinking cursors and the mouse was an exciting feature. The ⌘ symbol’s longevity is a testament to Kare’s prowess as a designer. She joined Apple in 1982 to design icons and fonts for one of the first personal computers with a graphic interface, the Macintosh.

She’s since gone on to create thousands of icons for hundreds of companies. For Windows 3, she designed the solitaire game; for Facebook, she created the original Gifts. Kare now works at Pinterest, where she’s a product-design lead. IRL, she’s whip-smart and wry. Earlier this month, Kare explained how to design an icon that stands the test of time, gave the scoop on working with a young Steve Jobs, and revealed the symbols she’s still trying to get right.

I always love reading about Kare. Her work has subtly influenced so much of what we Mac users see and do.

Illumina:

Illumina announced today that Philip W. Schiller has joined the company’s Board of Directors. Schiller is currently Apple’s Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing and is a member of Apple’s executive team responsible for the company’s product marketing, developer relations, business marketing, education marketing, international marketing and App Store programs.

“Phil’s track record and global experience in bringing world-class products to market will help guide us as we continue to develop innovative new solutions for our customers,” said Francis deSouza, Illumina President and Chief Executive Officer. “His vision, integrity and passion are fully aligned with Illumina’s core values.”

This is all well and good and great for Illumina but I still think Eddy Cue on the board of Ferrari is much more of a fun gig.

The initiative is now prioritizing the development of an autonomous driving system, though it’s not abandoning efforts to designing Apple’s own vehicle. That leaves options open should the company eventually decide to partner with or acquire an established car maker, rather than building a car itself. An Apple spokesman declined to comment.

This is an option Shawn King has repeatedly said since rumors of an Apple car began. It’s certainly an appealing alternative for Apple if they could sell their software to car companies around the world.

The tech titan plans to open an Apple Store in the World Trade Center Transportation Hub, according to Jason Barlia, head of Apple’s marketing for New York stores. He spoke at the opening of Apple’s first Brooklyn store.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Apple started talking with the Walt Disney Company in early 2015 about getting Disney-owned content onto its then-planned streaming television service, but Apple executives, iTunes chief Eddy Cue in particular, made demands networks were not prepared to meet.

It makes it sound as though Eddy’s tough tactics are holding Apple back from this market. I don’t buy this at all. Remember, Eddy negotiated music for the iTunes store, which is incredibly popular. We want Eddy to be tough when negotiating deals that we’ll end up paying for, either in purchasing content or subscriptions.

Keep being tough Eddy, we’ll wait for a good deal that we’re willing to pay for.

When you look at the other products, the iPhone is absolutely amazing.

Woven throughout the micro-biographies are visual factoids like a timeline of notable events in the history of women in science, statistics about the alarming gender gap in STEM fields, and a visual taxonomy of lab tools.

Mercedes-Benz has defended an advertising campaign for its new E-Class against allegations that consumers were being misled about the car’s self-driving capabilities, the latest backlash by consumer groups in the wake of a fatal Tesla accident.

People need to understand that they are responsible for the vehicle at all times. If they can’t grasp that simple concept, they shouldn’t be driving in the first place.

Steve Jobs: “All the work that I have done in my life will be obsolete by the time I’m 50”

Steve Jobs, in a documentary filmed in 1994. You can find it in this collection, maintained by the Silicon Valley Historical Association.

Note that Steve lived to be 56 years old, and his technology is still going strong.

[H/T Steven Sandhoff]

Mac Kung Fu:

I switched to an iPhone SE a few days ago and, while I’m happy with the diminutive device, I’ve been a little worried to see battery life draining incredibly quickly. I would take the device off charge and after an hour of non-use the battery would be down to 90%. A full working day’s standby brought it down to 10%. This was very odd because all the reviews said that iPhone SE had superb battery life, and perhaps even better than the iPhone 6S.

I removed various apps that Settings > Battery reported were eating juice. Gone were the news apps I had installed that fed me news flash notifications. However, battery life was STILL gobbled-up. I eventually realized the bad guy in the picture was the Wi-Fi Calling feature. Back into the Settings app I went, and tapped Phone > Wi-Fi Calling, and disabled it.

It was a miraculous fix. The battery percentage figure now barely changes across an hour of non-use.

I use Wi-Fi calling all the time and I’ve never noticed a problem with battery life. I say this not to cast doubt on the article (or anyone else’s experience) but to wonder if there’s another factor being missed, something that makes some iPhones drain their batteries and not impact others.

Nonetheless, I did find this an interesting read.

Angela Ahrendts’ stock sale, and some Apple financial docs to learn from

Once a quarter, Apple posts their financial results, a major quarterly milestone. Lots is written about the earnings call, but if these sorts of numbers interest you, it’s worth spending a few minutes on Apple’s official Investor Relations SEC filings page.

You’ll find the Form 8-K, a sort of “significant events” reporting form.

You’ll also find the Form 10-Q, a required quarterly report, generally with unaudited financials.

Occasionally, you’ll see other forms, like the Form 4, notifying investors of a share sale or purchase (called “beneficial ownership”). This particular Form 4 tells us that Angela Ahrendts sold 25,000 shares of Apple stock at $100 each, as well as 10,797 shares at the same price. That’s a total of 35,797 shares sold at a total price of $3,579,700.

Nothing particular notable about this sale, it happens all the time. If you scroll down through the page, you’ll see share trades from Daniel Riccio, Luca Maestri, Eddy Cue and more. Good to keep track of the comings and goings if you are an investor.

Patently Apple:

Today, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals that Jony Ive and his team have considered expanding the Apple Watch’s digital crown to other iOS devices such as the iPad. Apple notes that the digital crown could be used as a volume controller or locking the touch screen, turning on the touch screen, taking a picture, resizing text and other actions.

This is an interesting choice. The digital crown is effective for sliding back and forth through a list or set of settings. The trick is to connect the digital crown to a specific element in the user interface. With the Apple Watch, there is always a single part of the current interface connected to the digital crown. With a bit of tinkering, I can see this working with the more complex iOS interface hierarchy.

The physical part will bring its own set of challenges. Case makers will have to ensure that the case doesn’t get in the way, that there is enough clearance for your fingers to easily grasp the sides of the digital crown with room to accommodate the twisting motion. And that extra clearance means a gap of less protection, a place for liquids to creep in.

A challenge, but one with potential.

How long did it take to sell 1 million iPhones? 100 million? 500 million?

I did a little digging and here are some numbers:

  • The iPhone first went on sale on June 29, 2007. That’s day 0.

  • The millionth iPhone sold just 74 days later, on September 10, 2007.

From Apple’s official press release announcing the millionth iPhone:

“One million iPhones in 74 days—it took almost two years to achieve this milestone with iPod,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “We can’t wait to get this revolutionary product into the hands of even more customers this holiday season.”

  • On March 2, 2011, Apple sold iPhone number 100 million. That’s 1,312 days or 3.6 years.

  • In mid-March, 2014, Apple sold iPhone number 500 million. That’s about 2,450 days or 6.7 years.

  • Yesterday, Apple announced they had sold the billionth iPhone. That’s 3,286 days or almost exactly 9 years.

A couple of takeaways from this:

A billion iPhones in 9 years, built on a foundation of constant doubt. That’s one hell of a thing.

And there’s this, too: Apple took about 2,450 days to sell the first 500 million iPhones and only 836 days to sell the second 500 million iPhones. That’s some growth curve.

July 27, 2016

Apple celebrates its 1 billionth iPhone sold

Apple has now sold its 1 billionth iPhone—Tim Cook made the announcement this morning at an employee meeting, according to the company. It is absolutely amazing that Apple has sold 1 billion iPhones in just 9 years.

“iPhone has become one of the most important, world-changing and successful products in history. It’s become more than a constant companion. iPhone is truly an essential part of our daily life and enables much of what we do throughout the day,” said Cook. “Last week we passed another major milestone when we sold the billionth iPhone. We never set out to make the most, but we’ve always set out to make the best products that make a difference. Thank you to everyone at Apple for helping change the world every day.”

I remember when the iPhone was first released and the excitement surrounding the device. It has changed my life in so many ways. It has made me more efficient and completely changed the way I communicate and work.

Congrats to all involved.

Stuff:

One of the world’s best collections of ghetto boomboxes is up for auction, and it’ll cost you $20,000 to open the bidding.

“If I just sold the top 20 they would reach $20,000, and I’ve already had interest in some of those,” he said. “But I would prefer to sell them as a collection.”

Kenton started collecting 15 years ago and admits the more he looked for them, “the more out of control it got”.

How many of you are old enough (or were “cool enough”) to have one of these beasts in the 80s? In my neighbourhood basketball court in Halifax, the winning team was the one who got to control the music so it was mandatory for you to have the biggest, most powerful ghetto blaster possible. We’d even take up a collection for batteries because the damn things sucked up D cells. Check out pictures of the collection here.

MIC:

Throughout the RNC, a plethora of artists have come forward condemning the unauthorized use of their songs. It’s continued into this week. Monday, the GOP’s White House pick Donald Trump was asked by the producer of the 1997 movie Air Force One, Gail Katz, to stop using the film’s score by late composer Jerry Goldsmith, writing in a letter that the soundtrack “was hijacked” — a great pun, which was likely intended — “in a misguided attempt to associate Trump with the film and the president in that film.”

So, are these obvious affronts to musicians legal? Is there a way to stop these charades? Unfortunately, the answers aren’t entirely black and white.

This is one of those things people, artists included, don’t often understand. Most of the time, the artist has no control over who or how their music is played in these situations.

These are pretty cool.

Apple Map users will be able to view key information about parking garages and lots around the world. In addition, users will have the option to click through to Parkopedia’s website and iOS app to view more detailed information including pricing, user reviews, special offers and real-time space availability. They will also be able to make reservations.

This is a great addition to Maps.

Take better photos without extra effort! Microsoft Pix has serious intelligence behind the lens, so it can automatically tweak settings for each shot, and immediately enhance your photos, to help people and scenes look their best. Now you can just enjoy the moment, instead of struggling to capture it! Point. Shoot. Perfect.

This sounds really interesting—I’ll give it a try. Designed for iPhone and iPad

Upthere, a little-known startup founded by former Apple software gurus, thinks it can do far better than Apple iCloud, Dropbox, Box, and others when it comes to quickly storing, organizing, and searching digital photos, videos, and more.

This new company was co-founded by Bertrand Serlet, the former Senior Vice President of Software Engineering at Apple. This is going to be really fun to watch. I would not count these guys out.

BB King breaks a string in the middle of a song and changes it

BB was so great. This is also one of my favorite songs.

iCloud Tabs not working in your macOS Sierra beta? Here’s a fix.

While my macOS Sierra beta has been pretty rock solid, there is one feature that has stopped working for me. If I click the iCloud Tabs button (the icon of two overlaid squares in the upper-right corner of the Safari window), Safari should open a view that shows all the Safari tabs in my current window, as well as the Safari tabs in my other nearby iOS devices.

For me, the macOS tabs show up just fine, but the iCloud tabs do not appear. I depend on this feature, so I dug around the net to find a workaround while I waited for the Sierra beta that fixed this problem.

Here’s the workaround I used:

  • In your Mac Safari menu bar, select View > Customize Toolbar…
  • Find the iCloud Tabs item (should be the second item in the top row).
  • Drag the iCloud Tabs item down into the toolbar towards the bottom of the window, placing it where you want it to appear.
  • Click Done.

With that new item in place, a click on the cloud icon will reveal the iCloud Tabs on your other devices. Not quite as nice as the original, but it’ll do until that feature gets fixed.

To be clear, I’ve got no issue with having to do this. This is the one and only issue I’ve encountered running this beta (knocking on wood). Props to the Sierra team. Well done.

One of the first things I thought of when I first experienced Pokémon Go was how dependent the game was on location and how easy that would be to spoof. It didn’t take long for developers to bring that idea to life:

A new wave of PC-based Pokémon Go “bots” take the hacking a step further, spoofing locations and automating actions to essentially play the game for you while you sit in the comfort of your own home.

There are a number of competing bots out there, from the open source Necrobot to the pre-compiled Pokébuddy to MyGoBot, which recently started charging $4.99 for its automation tool following a three-hour free trial. All of them work on the same basic principles, sending artificial data to the Pokémon Go servers to simulate an extremely efficient, entirely tireless player.

This same sort of thing happened in the early days of World of Warcraft. It took some time, but the folks at Blizzard figured out how to tell if robots were playing for you and took a hard line, suspending accounts that leveled up impossibly quickly or were otherwise found to be cutting corners in some automated fashion.

I suspect Niantic will learn this same lesson, or things will go south pretty quickly.

Craig Cannon, interviewing Apples’ first employee (beyond Steve Jobs and Woz), Bill Fernandez:

Craig: So at what point do Woz and Jobs come together and decide that they want to start working on Apple?

Bill: Okay, well during this Hewlett-Packard period when Woz and I were both there, Woz in the after hours designed his own Pong game. Pong was the first really popular, you know, video game that bars and pizza shops and restaurants could buy and put it in stores and people would come and put quarters in and play. So he built his own circuitry and used it with a small black and white TV set as the display.

Then a couple of things happened. He started working on building his own computer and he started attending the Homebrew Computer Club that was happening at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, SLAC.

So all of those things happened at the same time and then as his computer came together he would take it and show it off after the meetings. At some point there was enough interest shown that Jobs became aware of this. I don’t know if he went to the Homebrew Computer Club or just when he and Woz were together Woz was talking about it. Basically Jobs said, “You know, we could make printed circuit boards and just sell the computer already assembled so people wouldn’t even have to buy all the parts on the open market and figure out how to wire them together. We could just do it for them.” And so that was the beginning of Apple Computer.

Jobs got a printed circuit board made and he figured out where to get all the parts. They decided what to name the company and then, this is funny, Jobs got a front office front. There was a company at 770 Welch Road. If you look at the old literature that was their address, Apple’s mailing address. So there was this company on the second floor that had people who would answer the phone and depending upon what number was called would say, “Hello, this is Apple Computer, how can I help you?” And would receive packages mailed to Apple Computer and would mail things from Apple Computer. Jobs was working in his father’s garage and in his bedroom, you know, and this was like our front to make it look legit.

This is a nice, long interview, with lots of edge-on views of the stuff of legend, the birth of Apple.

This is a terrific interview. Some of it is inside baseball (anecdotes about the politics of tech journalism), but all of it is readable and fascinating. Feels like no punches were pulled.

Ars Technica:

When we recently reviewed the Moto Z, we said that the device would not be getting Android’s monthly security updates. Motorola doesn’t make this information officially available anywhere, but when we asked Motorola reps at the Moto Z launch event if the company would commit to the monthly updates, we were flatly told “no.”

And:

Motorola has clarified the update situation of the Moto Z and Moto G4, calling Android’s monthly security updates “difficult” and deciding not to commit to them.

Tough to say no to an update that patches a known security vulnerability.

From Moto:

We strive to push security patches as quickly as possible. However, because of the amount of testing and approvals that are necessary to deploy them, it’s difficult to do this on a monthly basis for all our devices. It is often most efficient for us to bundle security updates in a scheduled Maintenance Release (MR) or OS upgrade.

That delay is no small thing, security-wise.

Graham Spencer, writing for MacStories:

In a rather extraordinary move, four of Australia’s largest banks have written to Australia’s competition regulator requesting permission to join together in a collective boycott whilst they negotiate with third-party mobile wallet services including Apple Pay, Android Pay and Samsung Pay.

And:

At the heart of their request is the claim that third party wallet providers have the power to “impose highly restrictive terms and conditions”. The banks point out that 90% of smartphones sold in Australia run iOS or Android, and Samsung is the leading manufacturer of Android phones. Therefore, they claim, Google has significant bargaining power over Android, Samsung over Galaxy phones, and Apple over iPhones. But it is Apple that the banks say “has particularly significant bargaining power in negotiations relating to Apple Pay due to its control of both a key operating system and key mobile hardware”. They point out that in Australia the iPhone has a share of 41.2% of the market and Apple sells the two most popular phones on the market.

And:

The banks also make the argument that Apple has refused to permit third-party apps from accessing the NFC functionality contained in recent iPhones, unlike other manufacturers. They argue that it is inconsistent with other hardware and software features Apple has introduced such as the iPhone camera, accelerometer, and Touch ID sensor which are available to third-parties.

This is a first domino, a potential precedent.