April 18, 2019

How does Venice work?

Venice Backstage:

Venice is not just a stage set. It is also a city with a resident population, which has productive activities, transportation and services. But how does the “Venice system” work? How do the tides in the lagoon behave? How are the canals formed? And the embankments? What’s under the buildings?

Venice is a fascinating place. Not only because of its history and culture but its actual physical nature. This is a really well-done video “explaining” the city.

Steve Jobs looks up a few words in the dictionary

Steve knows how to hold a room, deliver a punchline. I love this.

Yesterday, my Twitter feed was littered with complaints about Samsung’s new foldable phone. Here’s but one example (WARNING: Strobe effect in the video):

This is not simply one unit gone bad. One after another, from Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman to Marques Brownlee to the Verge’s Dieter Bohn (the author of the linked article), reports of faulty review units kept rolling in.

Samsung’s response:

A limited number of early Galaxy Fold samples were provided to media for review. We have received a few reports regarding the main display on the samples provided. We will thoroughly inspect these units in person to determine the cause of the matter.

Might be that they were poorly made, rushed to market. Just a thought.

To add to the mess, the protective film that covered the units was so poorly applied, it appeared as if it was designed to be removed. And remove it they did. Here’s Joanna Stern’s Fold. Seem’s pretty ripe for peeling to me.

Samsung’s response continues:

Separately, a few reviewers reported having removed the top layer of the display causing damage to the screen. The main display on the Galaxy Fold features a top protective layer, which is part of the display structure designed to protect the screen from unintended scratches. Removing the protective layer or adding adhesives to the main display may cause damage. We will ensure this information is clearly delivered to our customers.

Oh, Samsung.

The Making of Apple’s “Don’t mess with Mother” ad

If you haven’t already, jump to this post and watch Apple’s fantastic “Don’t mess with Mother” ad. Great footage synced with great music.

Once you’ve absorbed that chewy goodness, check out the making of video, embedded below. Yes, that ad was filmed completely on an iPhone.

Guilherme Rambo, 9to5Mac:

All devices from a user – and their family – can be located using the unified app, including AirPods. Devices can be put in “lost mode” or made to play a sound using the same app, just like Find My iPhone.

The way Find my AirPods works offers a clue on how the Tile-like process might work (H/T Roman Meliška).

This is great stuff. Read the article. Can’t wait for WWDC.

Another example of augmented reality creeping into real life:

I can definitely see using this to get a sense of how new kicks would look on your feet, props for that. But not sure how you’d get a sense if the shoes actually fit.

Same for shirt, pants, other clothes that rely on fit. Perhaps as laser-scanned, 3D models of your body become a standard, this will prove a reliable way to buy.

That aside, this AR looks terrific. Slight glitchiness on the edges, but definitely good enough to give you a feel for the fashion.


Apple today announced a major expansion of its recycling programs, quadrupling the number of locations US customers can send their iPhone to be disassembled by Daisy, its recycling robot. Daisy will disassemble and recycle select used iPhones returned to Best Buy stores throughout the US and KPN retailers in the Netherlands. Customers can also turn in their eligible devices to be recycled at any Apple Store or through apple.com as part of the Apple Trade In program.


To further its research on recycling, Apple today also announced the opening of its Material Recovery Lab dedicated to discovering future recycling processes. The new 9,000-square-foot facility in Austin, Texas, will look for innovative solutions involving robotics and machine learning to improve on traditional methods like targeted disassembly, sorting and shredding.

Follow the headline link and check out the pics. Even better, jump to this CNET article, which shows a pic of Apple’s first recycling robot, Liam, and then some detailed images of Daisy at work.

Cool beans.

April 17, 2019

Apple ad: Don’t mess with Mother

I love this ad so much. The choice of music, “Last Rites” by Megadeth, is just perfect.

Watch. Worth it.

New York Times:

To demonstrate how easy it is to track people without their knowledge, we collected public images of people who worked near Bryant Park (available on their employers’ websites, for the most part) and ran one day of footage through Amazon’s commercial facial recognition service. Our system detected 2,750 faces from a nine-hour period (not necessarily unique people, since a person could be captured in multiple frames). It returned several possible identifications, including one frame matched to a head shot of Richard Madonna, a professor at the SUNY College of Optometry, with an 89 percent similarity score. The total cost: about $60.


if you’re an adult in America, there’s more than a 50 percent chance that you’re already in a law enforcement facial recognition database, according to researchers at Georgetown.

This is a riveting read.

Ben Lovejoy, 9to5Mac:

Unshaky is a simple Mac utility that monitors keyboard input, and then blocks anything it thinks is a double-press caused by a keyboard fault.

The app works by asking you to register it as an accessibility device. It then registers each keypress and blocks any repeated press within the next 40 milliseconds. The delay is user-configurable, with the developer recommending you stick with the default unless it doesn’t solve the problem, and then try first 60ms and then 80ms.

Here’s a link to the Unshaky web site.

Have to say, this is a pretty clever idea. It should help solve the key-stutter problem (press once, duplicate letters appear). Not so for stuck keys (press once, no letter appears). But still a great idea.

Love this response from @Houdini7: Welcome to 1978.


Apple Inc has held talks with at least four companies as possible suppliers for next-generation lidar sensors in self-driving cars, evaluating the companies’ technology while also still working on its own lidar unit, three people familiar with the discussions said.


Current lidar systems, including units from Velodyne Inc mounted on Apple’s fleet of self-driving test vehicles, use laser light pulses to render precise images of the environment around the car. But the systems can cost $100,000 and use mechanical parts to sweep the laser scanners across the road.


What is clear from Apple’s interest in cheaper lidar systems is that it wants to control the “perception stack” of sensors, computers and software to drive an autonomous vehicle, regardless of who makes the vehicle, another person familiar with the talks said.

The idea of Apple focusing on that so-called “perception stack”, the core element of any autonomous vehicle, clicks for me.


Apple needs chips that will connect the iPhone to the new, fifth-generation wireless networks being introduced now or risk falling behind its rivals. The company had bet on Intel Corp., but recently decided its would-be 5G supplier wasn’t up to the task.


That led Apple back to Qualcomm — and spurred a sudden end to a long-running court fight over patents, component costs and royalties for one of the most critical parts of an iPhone.

This is a well written walkthrough of the sequence. A short read, worth your time.

My absolutely favorite line:

Apple’s decision to cut a deal with Qualcomm was an indictment of Intel’s modem efforts.


Federico Viticci:

Later this week on Saturday, April 20, MacStories will turn 10 years old.

It was Monday, April 20, 2009 when, fresh out of a job from which I had gotten fired, I decided to publish the first official post on my self-hosted blog after a few weeks of running a free WordPress.com website. I was 21. My English was terrible and, at the time, MacStories was written in two languages, English and Italian – probably to hide my discomfort as a non-native English speaker.


For the first year, I poured my life into writing MacStories every day and trying to establish my name by reaching out to as many app makers, fellow bloggers, and readers as possible. My girlfriend can confirm this – I was working 15-hour days, including Christmas or my birthday, just to make MacStories happen.

Take a few minutes to read Federico’s story. As a fan, both of Federico and all that MacStories brings to the community, I found this retelling of a ten year look back to be inspiring.

Congratulations, Federico, and to all the rest of the MacStories team, both past and present.

April 16, 2019

Qualcomm and Apple today announced an agreement to dismiss all litigation between the two companies worldwide. The settlement includes a payment from Apple to Qualcomm. The companies also have reached a six-year license agreement, effective as of April 1, 2019, including a two-year option to extend, and a multiyear chipset supply agreement.

I’m glad this is over.


A surprise settlement in a years-long legal battle over licensing and patents has opened the door for Apple to adopt Qualcomm 5G modems, but the chips are not expected to reach iPhone until 2020.

Citing a source familiar with the matter, Nikkei reports Apple and Qualcomm were working toward a settlement for weeks, during which time Apple began evaluations of Qualcomm’s 5G modem for use in iPhone. In addition to what appears to be internal testings, the tech giant also requested partner manufacturers to test the chip, the report said.

Despite the effort, Apple will not be able to build the chipmaker’s 5G silicon into this year’s iPhone. The deadline for integration, both in terms of hardware and software, has likely long passed.

Another tidbit I read was from the well respected Tim Bajarin on Facebook. He thinks Apple will release a 5G iPhone in 2020 – but not in the usual September time frame. Bajarin believes Apple will have a 5G-capable iPhone before the 2020 Summer Olympics in Japan.


Apple and Qualcomm have settled their royalty dispute, sources told CNBC.

Qualcomm stock rose over 13% after the news broke. Apple was up less than 1%.

The two companies started proceedings in a trial in federal court in San Diego on Monday, which was expected to last until May.

After two years of this, they settle on the day the jury is seated.

Guilherme Rambo, 9to5Mac:

Apple is expected to unveil iOS 13, the next major version of the iPhone and iPad operating system, at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference, which kicks off on June 3rd. Now, people familiar with the development of the operating system have shared exclusive details with 9to5Mac. Read on for new details about what to expect.

Fantastic, spoiler filled preview of iOS 13. Wonderful read.

Guilherme, you had me at new standard undo gesture.

Mozilla Foundation:

There is a unique ID living on your iPhone right now that allows advertisers to track the ads you click on, the videos you play, and the apps you install.

The good news is, you can turn this identifier off. The bad news: most people don’t know that feature exists, let alone that they should turn it off. And we don’t think that they should have to.

That’s why we’re asking Apple to change the unique IDs that advertisers use to track us on each iPhone, every month. That means we could still get relevant ads – but there’s a real cap that makes it harder for companies to build profiles of us over time.

From this Apple support page:

To give you the best advertising experience, Apple provides ads in the App Store and Apple News that are based on information such as your App Store search history and Apple News reading history. (Learn more about the information Apple uses to serve advertisements to you.) If you want to opt out of these interest-based ads, you can choose to turn on the Limit Ad Tracking setting on your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Apple TV. You can also turn off Apple’s location-based ads on your iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.

If this is new to you, follow the instruction on the support page and turn on Limit Ad Tracking on your iOS devices and Apple TV.

But there’s more to this. As Mozilla points out, there’s an advertising identifier that lets advertisers “build profiles of us over time”. To see this, grab your iOS device, head to Settings > Privacy.

Scroll all the way to the bottom, and tap Advertising (did you even know that choice existed?) And there, under the Limit Ad Tracking switch, is the Reset Advertising Identifier button.

With that in mind, go back and read the Mozilla Foundation post. Seems to me, Apple has the right idea with that Limit Ad Tracking switch. As long as it is on by default.

Sidebar: On that same Setting page, tap View Ad Information and About Advertising & Privacy. Given how central privacy has become to Apple’s brand, seems to me this stuff should be a little less hidden, a little more up front.

Scorching new Beats By Dre, Powerbeats Pro ad

This ad is brilliant. The music, Beck’s Saw Lightning, is hot off the presses, released simultaneously with the ad. Wondering if it was a collaboration with the crew that pulled the video together.

Watch the ad (embedded below). Keep your eye on the head centering. Each athlete stays almost still, head centered in each vignette, while the camera spins and twirls with their actual motion. So well done.

And from this Panzer tweet:

Apple owning Beats is really good for them because it allows them to effectively sell these as “the Sports AirPods” without having to dilute the powerful, straightforward simplicity or recognizability of the AirPod brand.

Perfectly put.

Zac Hall, 9to5Mac:

Apple Music has a strong foundation of handpicked playlists and curated music collections, and changes to the music service’s ‘For You’ section is dramatically improving Apple Music’s recommendation features.

Apple Music’s upgraded ‘For You section is now organized around music themes that are more personalized for each member, and updates to ‘For You’ are now much more frequent.

I’ve got a bit of a side-by-side going, with an iPhone running the public iOS 12.2 release, next to an iPad running the latest 12.3 beta. As I was noting the differences between old and new, my iPhone’s Music app blinked into the new interface, completely matching the For You on my iPad.

Point is, if you are not seeing the new For You, you will soon, no need to upgrade anything.

I do like the changes, and I do feel like the current recommendations are a much better representation of my musical tastes. Lots of interesting musical choices here.

Juli Clover, MacRumors:

As noted in a regulatory filing from February, Apple’s retail chief Angela Ahrendts is leaving the company today, with April 15 marking her last day at Apple.


Over the weekend, Apple removed Ahrendts’ profile from its Apple Leadership page in preparation for her departure.

End of an era.

April 15, 2019

The Mac Observer:

Apple recently uploaded six new videos to YouTube focusing on the new iPad Pros, with one called ‘Life on iPad.’

As usual, a well-done series of videos showing off what can be done on an iPad.

Words fail me.

The Hustle:

At a time when faith in our government, media, and even the very foundations of American democracy are at an all-time low, 65% of us trust online reviews.

Some 82% of American adults check product reviews before making a purchase — but the way we evaluate these reviews and determine the trustworthiness of a product is alarmingly simplistic: Research shows that we’re more swayed by a simple star rating than what reviewers actually write.

With e-commerce, we can’t see products in person before we buy them. Our leading indicator of quality — and our guiding light of trust — are the stars.

I only trust reviews from people I know. I don’t know anyone on Amazon.

Bare Bones Software, makers of BBEdit, is one of my favorite software companies — in fact, I’ve been using BBEdit for more than 20 years. Now, BBEdit is also available in the Mac App Store! Same great features. Same user experience. You can subscribe in the Mac App Store or purchase perpetual licenses directly from Bare Bones Software. Also, you can still get great merch, including Classic and Rebus T-shirts, enamel pins, and more in their merch store!

Associated Press:

“I had money and I couldn’t pay,” he said.

There is no federal law that requires stores to accept cash, so lawmakers are working on the issue at the state and city level.

Earlier this year, Philadelphia became the first city to ban cashless stores, despite efforts by Amazon to dissuade it. New Jersey passed a statewide ban soon after, and a similar ban is working its way through the New York City Council. Before this year there was only one jurisdiction that required businesses to accept cash: Massachusetts, which passed a law nearly 40 years ago.

I get why retailers, especially smaller ones, would like to go cashless but it certainly does and will hit those on the lower economic rungs much harder.

This video shows us inching ever closer to the dream of a universal translator:

Scroll down through the thread to watch universal audio translations. I would love to see more of this technology coming from Apple.

As is, you can ask Siri to say a phrase in a supported language (for example, Hey Siri, how do you say “where is the closest drug store” in Spanish). And there are third party apps that translate text on the fly. Works well, glad to have it, but I’d love to see more.

UPDATE: As several folks have pointed out, this technology evolved from the original Word Lens, which ran on iOS, but was purchased by Google. I believe accuracy has improved since its original release, and lots of languages have been added as well. And, as I said above, check the other demos in the thread.

Apple posts “behind the curtain” video of two NHL players “Shot on iPhone XS”

Apple continues its close relationship with the NHL in a “Shot on iPhone” ad that’s all about hockey and camaraderie. As a devout hockey fan, I only wish this was longer.

This happened in Germany. From the translated report:

Her watch was equipped with a fall detection system and alerted the emergency services after the fall. A dispatcher in the control center accepted the emergency call. He heard a Watch announcement telling him that a person had fallen heavily. The Watch also transmitted the coordinates of the scene of the accident.

This never stops being cool to me. When I read doom and gloom reports about Apple’s ability to innovate, I see stories like this crop up and think, “Not so fast, curmudgeons!”

Farhad Manjoo, New York Times:

Here’s what I do: Instead of writing, I speak. When a notable thought strikes me — I could be pacing around my home office, washing dishes, driving or, most often recently, taking long, aimless strolls on desolate suburban Silicon Valley sidewalks — I open RecUp, a cloud-connected voice-recording app on my phone. Because I’m pretty much always wearing wireless headphones with a mic — yes, I’m one of those AirPod people — the app records my voice in high fidelity as I walk, while my phone is snug in my pocket or otherwise out of sight.


Then comes the magical part. Every few days, I load the recordings into Descript, an app that bills itself as a “word processor for audio.” Some of my voice memos are more than an hour long, but Descript quickly (and cheaply) transcribes the text, truncates the silences and renders my speech editable and searchable.


Writing by speaking has quietly revolutionized how I work. It has made my writing more conversational and less precious. More amazingly, it has expanded my canvas: I can now write the way street photographers shoot — out in the world, whenever the muse strikes me (or more likely, when I’m loafing around, procrastinating on some other piece of writing). Most of my recent columns, including large portions of this one, were written this way: first by mouth, not fingers.

Fascinating. I wonder if we’ll someday have the ability to build multimedia presentations in real time, via our AppleAR glasses and the mic in our AirPods. Constantly capturing everything around us, cataloging our snippets on-the-fly.

And, if we do get there, in whose hands will the output of that constant mass surveillance by citizen journalists end up?