Use your iPad as a display for your new Mac mini

[VIDEO] Luna Display is a small hardware dongle you plug into any modern Mac, including the new Mac mini, that wirelessly turns your iPad into a touch display for your Mac.

You can see Luna Display in action in the video embedded in the main Loop post. I love this idea, and it seems a perfect solution for the Mac mini.

Beyond that, it feels like a missing link, that hybrid of macOS and iOS. My sense is that it supports Apple Pencil, but without pressure sensitivity. But that aside, this seems like a wonderful solution if you already have an iPad Pro and have a need for a Mac mini.

Face ID on the new iPad Pro is even better than it is on the iPhone

Chance Miller, 9to5Mac:

In my time with the new iPad Pro so far, I’ve found Face ID to be a bit more forgiving here than it is on the iPhone. It seems more likely to try to authenticate you multiple times on its, as well as better at different angles. For instance, I can have my iPad Pro laying flat on my desk, and Face ID is still able to recognize me. This is something that isn’t possible on the iPhone XS, at least reliably.

And:

For everything it excels at, however, Face ID on the iPad Pro is not perfect, and the different use cases and overall size of the iPad present a couple of unique issues.

For instance, at my desk I like to use my iPad Pro with this Viozon stand. Face ID, however, is somewhat unreliable in this use case as it common displays a warning saying “Face is too far away.” I think I’ve been able to find the sweet spot in terms of how far is too far, but distance is definitely something I’d like to see Apple focus on with future iterations of Face ID.

Most people hold their iPhone in a reasonably predictable fashion, at a predictable angle, and a predictable distance from their eyes. The iPad itself, not so much.

As Chance points out in that last paragraph, people frequently place their iPad on a stand, sometimes flat on a desk, sometimes as a driver for an external display. True, the iPhone often lives in those spaces but, I’d argue, is far more likely to be held in typical phone fashion. Face ID on iPad just has more edge cases.

Ultimately, the best thing about Face ID on the iPad Pro, much like on the iPhone, is how passive it is. Unlocking is made even better by the double-click keyboard option, while things like accessing passwords, logging into apps, and more all work with no interaction at all.

I love that you can unlock your iPad by double-tapping any key on the keyboard. So smart, so easy.

More on third-party USB-C to Lightning cables

John Gruber unpacks a lot of detail on USB-C to Lightning cables, the MFi program, and his take on the likelihood of USB-C making the move to iPhone.

This is a terrific, put your feet up, grab a hot beverage, chock-full-of details read.

Massive two-factor code, password reset link, text message database exposed

TechCrunch:

The exposed server belongs to Voxox (formerly Telcentris), a San Diego, Calif.-based communications company. The server wasn’t protected with a password, allowing anyone who knew where to look to peek in and snoop on a near-real-time stream of text messages.

And:

Worse, the database — running on Amazon’s Elasticsearch — was configured with a Kibana front-end, making the data within easily readable, browsable and searchable for names, cell numbers and the contents of the text messages themselves.

And:

Often, app developers — like HQ Trivia and Viber — will employ technologies provided by firms like Telesign and Nexmo, either to verify a user’s phone number or to send a two-factor authentication code, for example. But it’s firms like Voxox that act as a gateway and converting those codes into text messages, to be passed on to the cell networks for delivery to the user’s phone.

Interesting to see how those two-factor requests are outsourced and where those text messages come from. Check out those sample searches in the article. A database like this is searchable in real time, making it easy for someone to monitor changes, steal accounts. A serious point of vulnerability.

The new iPad Pro, magnets, and their impact on the MacBook Pro

This morning, I encountered this post on Reddit, titled PSA: Do not sit your new iPad Pro on top of your MacBook.

From the post:

I unhooked my 2018 15” MacBook Pro from my Thunderbolt Display earlier and sat my new 12.9” iPad Pro on top of it so I could carry them into another room and I heard the fan inside the MacBook making a scraping noise.

The magnets inside the iPad were pulling on it causing the blades to hit the fan housing. I moved the iPad away and it stopped making the noise immediately.

Take this with a grain of salt, but seems to me it could be possible.

As to magnets on the iPad Pro, take a look at this video:

https://twitter.com/MKBHD/status/1062368253316603905

I love how clearly this shows off the magnet placements. And there are a lot of them. Enough to impact a MacBook Pro fan?

Side note, from Federico Viticci’s continuing iPad Diaries:

Thanks to its 102 built-in magnets, the Smart Keyboard Folio easily aligns with the flush back of the iPad Pro with little guidance required on your end. With the Smart Keyboard Folio completely open on a desk, I haven’t had any trouble placing the iPad on top of it and folding it in typing mode. In fact, I’ve noticed that Apple intelligently placed magnets both inside the iPad and the folio case so that if you try to place the device upside down on top of the case, it won’t attach.

And:

If I had to point out a minor issue with the magnetic connection between the folio and the iPad Pro, I’d say that detaching the keyboard from the iPad now requires paying more attention and a stronger pull. To detach the iPad from the folio case, you have to hold the keyboard down with one hand then pull the iPad somewhat strongly out of one of the two grooves above the numeric keyboard row. Then you have to detach it from the folio case as well.

That’s a lot of magnetic power. I’m interested in finding out more about the iPad Pro magnets impacting the MacBook Pro. This a real thing? Seems to me, the only way this happens is if you place your MacBook on top of your iPad Pro and use it, or place your iPad Pro on the keyboard of an open and running MacBook.

If this does turn out to be a real issue, solution is, don’t do that.

The 2018 Mac mini as part of a Broadway music designer’s setup

Brian Li:

Prior to moving to Tokyo, I worked as an electronic music designer in New York and Las Vegas, where my job involved building keyboard racks and designing sounds for keyboard players on Broadway shows. More often than not, the racks I built were powered by Mac minis running MainStage

And:

Despite all the razzle-dazzle you see onstage, Broadway shows actually have very tight budgets, especially when it comes to keyboard racks for the electronic music designer. Unfortunately, professional music equipment is really expensive, so this reality often presented a “trilemma” between low price, high reliability, and high flexibility.

What follows is a budget breakdown, leaving about “$3,350 for two computers, making a mid to high-end Mac mini the only viable option.”

A fascinating peek into a Broadway tech setup, and a real world use case for the new Mac mini.

PSA: Apple’s Holiday Return Policy now in effect

Apple returns/refund help page:

Items purchased at the Apple Online Store that are received between November 14, 2018 and December 25, 2018, may be returned through January 8, 2019. Please note that all other terms and conditions provided in the Apple Online Store Sales and Refunds Policy are still applicable with respect to such items purchased. All purchases made after December 25, 2018 are subject to the Standard Return Policy.

Good to know.

Facebook’s tense scrambling, with a slap back at Apple

Interesting piece in the New York Times about Facebook’s discovery of, and dealing with, 2016 Russian election meddling. A few highlights:

Mr. Stamos’s team discovered that Russian hackers appeared to be probing Facebook accounts for people connected to the presidential campaigns, said two employees. Months later, as Mr. Trump battled Hillary Clinton in the general election, the team also found Facebook accounts linked to Russian hackers who were messaging journalists to share information from the stolen emails.

And:

Ms. Sandberg was angry. Looking into the Russian activity without approval, she said, had left the company exposed legally. Other executives asked Mr. Stamos why they had not been told sooner.

Still, Ms. Sandberg and Mr. Zuckerberg decided to expand on Mr. Stamos’s work, creating a group called Project P, for “propaganda,” to study false news on the site, according to people involved in the discussions. By January 2017, the group knew that Mr. Stamos’s original team had only scratched the surface of Russian activity on Facebook, and pressed to issue a public paper about their findings.

And:

It wasn’t the looming disaster at Facebook that angered Ms. Sandberg. It was the social network’s security chief, Alex Stamos, who had informed company board members the day before that Facebook had yet to contain the Russian infestation. Mr. Stamos’s briefing had prompted a humiliating boardroom interrogation of Ms. Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, and her billionaire boss. She appeared to regard the admission as a betrayal.

“You threw us under the bus!” she yelled at Mr. Stamos, according to people who were present.

But what does this have to do with Apple? This bit, towards the end:

“We’re not going to traffic in your personal life,” Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive, said in an MSNBC interview. “Privacy to us is a human right. It’s a civil liberty.” (Mr. Cook’s criticisms infuriated Mr. Zuckerberg, who later ordered his management team to use only Android phones — arguing that the operating system had far more users than Apple’s.)

No iPhones for you! Fascinating article, lots more detail, terrific journalism.

Side note, a tiny op-ed: Pick a news source you trust and support them. Whatever your political stripe, support truth and those who seek to tell it.

Why aren’t there third party USB-C to Lightning cables?

John Gruber:

Here’s a thread on Reddit asking why there aren’t any USB-C to Lightning cables from reliable, certified companies like Anker, Monoprice, and Amazon. It’s a year-old thread and the situation is unchanged. This stinks now that all MacBooks and the new iPad Pros have gone to USB-C, along with chargers that output by USB-C.

Here’s a link to the Reddit thread.

This goes to the heart of my complaints about the USB-C standard. There are plenty of cables out there with Lightning at one end and USB-C at the other. But they are far from all the same. The Apple cable seems to be the only one that does all the things you’d want, including reliable, consistent support for fast charging and data transfer.

I’d love the ability to plug in a cable and get a report on exactly what the cable supports. As I understand it, the USB-C standard requires supported ports and connectors to self-report. At the very least, I wish the USB-C standard had some sort of code (like the ROYGBIV standard for labeling resistors) that told you what a cable was capable of.

Google launches free online image convertor

It’s called Squoosh, and it runs just fine on Safari for macOS or iOS.

Two keys to keep in mind as you play:

  • There’s a draggable dividing line that shows the original image on one side and the converted image on the other.
  • There’s a popup menu that lets you select the destination format for the converted image.

Play. Enjoy.

This guy is suing Adobe for a bug that deleted years of his work

Motherboard:

At issue is a feature in Premiere Pro called clean cache. Editing video takes up a lot of hard drive space as video editing software creates various redundancies and backups during the editing process. Programs such as Premiere Pro store those redundancies in a cache and, once a project is finished, users can clear that cache to free up disk space.

The knee-jerk reaction here? Why didn’t you backup your work? Why depend on Adobe’s backup process?

And those are probably fair questions. But the complaint seems more nuanced than that:

“The ‘Clean Cache’ command permanently deleted substantial and numerous Files and Data that were not within the ‘Media Cache’ folder or any of its subdirectories, including but not limited to Files and Data that had never been associated with [Premiere Pro]”

And:

The mass deletion isn’t a one off and Cooper likely isn’t the only user effected. Adobe itself acknowledged the bug. “With 11.1.1, only files that are within the Media Cache folder’s subdirectories will be deleted,” a blog post from Adobe said when they fixed the bug. “Files that sit next to it will no longer be affected. However, we still strongly recommend keeping the Media Cache folder separate from your original media.”

From Adobe post on unintended deletion:

Premiere Pro CC 2017 (11.1) introduced a new feature to manage and automatically remove aging and unnecessary media cache files. This feature was designed to assist users in managing existing project media cache files more easily. In the default location for media cache preferences, there is no issue. However, incorrect usage of this feature has the potential for unintentional file deletion.

Whose fault is this loss? Ultimately, I suspect a backup would have saved the day, and will be at the heart of Adobe’s response to this lawsuit.

Woz on Apple

[VIDEO] To me, Woz and Steve Jobs were the yin and yang at the root of the Apple tree. They were very different people, each with his own flaws and particular brand of genius.

Steve being gone makes me appreciate Woz all the more. Watch the interview, embedded in the main Loop post.

Jason Snell on the new iPad Pro

Jason Snell pulled together a nice review of the new iPad Pro. At the very least, check out the images showing the 11″ model sitting on top of the 12.9″ model, as well as the image showing old and new iPad Pros, all stacked together. This will give you a sense of the size differences between the various models.

A few highlights from Jason’s review:

The large and small iPad Pro models are closer in size than they’ve ever been. There’s still a substantial difference between them, though—when I pick up the 11-inch model after using for the 12.9-inch model for a while, it just seems tiny. While I suspect the 11-inch model will still be the go-to variant, with this round of updates it feels like the 12.9-inch iPad is shifting closer to the mainstream. It’s now a lot less awkward to hold, and it’s got a bunch of benefits, including the larger screen, the ability to run full-sized apps in Split View, a full-sized keyboard, and a better typing angle on the Smart Keyboard Folio.

And:

But before I talk keyboards, I need to talk about magnets. The iPad Pro has more than a hundred, many of them in an array on the back of its case. Apple has moved away from its old approach of anchoring covers and cases via magnets on the side of the device.

Which leads to:

While it’s easy to detach the accessories, I have rarely done so accidentally.

This magnet redesign seems really well done.

Apple has built a remarkably bright screen that also manages to fight off glare with a special coating, and on top of that coating is an oleophobic coating to make it easier to wipe off fingerprints, and of course these coatings have to be durable enough not only to survive your fingers but also being scribbled on with an Apple Pencil. It’s a remarkable achievement, but the fact remains that the thing is a fingerprint magnet.

Not sure there’s anything to be done here, short of keeping a microfiber cloth handy for occasionally cleaning the screen. I clean my iPad and Mac screens pretty regularly, just to keep the dots of dust and dirt from building up. Good to know about the fingerprint issue, but not a big deal, at least to me.

Despite this being the first Face ID device to support multiple orientations, I’ve found it to be remarkably reliable. Every now and then, it lets me know that I’ve got a hand over the camera—with a helpful arrow pointing right at the offending digits—and the moment I react, it quickly authenticates me.

Face ID on the iPad is delightful. When I’m working with a keyboard, I don’t have to reach up and press my finger on a home button to unlock the device, or apps like 1Password—I just look up and the device unlocks automatically. And even when I’m just reading in bed, it’s so much easier to log in to a website by tapping password autofill and have Face ID rapidly authenticate me and enter in that data.

Just as it should be. And I love reading a review and encountering the word delightful. Delight is important, and part of Apple’s secret sauce.

Great read.

Apple Pencil (2nd Generation) review

[VIDEO] Speaking of the new Apple Pencil, here’s Rene Ritchie (video embedded in main Loop post) digging in deep, with just a hint of Serenity Caldwell.

This is just great. An Apple Pencil review done using the Apple Pencil. Wonderful.

Apple Pencil teardown

OK, technically, this is an iPad Pro 11″ teardown. But I am much more interested in the Apple Pencil innards. And how someone can get inside the Apple Pencil.

Looks like a job for the ultrasonic cutter. Whee!

Fixing Wear OS: How Google could fight back against the Apple Watch

Wareable:

There’s no doubt Wear OS is living in the shadow of the Apple Watch right now – while manufacturers are usually coy about exact smartwatch sales, analysts suggest the Apple smartwatch has a substantially bigger market share than Google’s platform.

The Apple wearable has also been given consistent and useful refreshes in the three years since its launch, across both its hardware and its software, leaving Wear OS looking sluggish and fragmented by comparison.

To me, as long as the Android OS update model continues to be fragmented, leaving many more users using older OS versions than the tiny sliver who use the latest and greatest, Apple Watch just has an insurmountable advantage.

Some iPhone users finding their Apple ID accounts have been inexplicably locked, requiring password resets

Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac:

We haven’t quite yet worked out the pattern or the cause but we have received many reports of users waking up to find that their Apple ID has been locked, and plenty more are complaining on social media.

And:

You will know if your account has been locked because iOS will present an alert in settings that says some Apple ID settings must be updated.

I’ve seen lots of reports of people complaining about being locked out of their Apple ID accounts. Not clear if this is related to a single security event, such as a particularly widely spread phishing scheme or a security break-in, or if this is some internal issue at Apple.

Amazon chooses Virginia and New York City sites for split second HQ

Washington Post:

Amazon will open major new outposts in Northern Virginia’s Crystal City and in New York City, splitting its much-sought investment of up to 50,000 jobs between the two East Coast sites, according to people close to the decision-making process.

Crystal City is actually part of Arlington, VA, home of the Pentagon and Arlington National Cemetery and right next to National Airport.

The New York City location is Long Island City, which is in Queens, just east of Manhattan with access to the Queensboro Bridge and the Queens Midtown Tunnel, both of which connect Queens to Manhattan. Laguardia Airport is also in Queens.

The Crystal City location has long been a not so secret secret, widely rumored as the primary selection. Though Amazon still has not made an official announcement, this story appeared in this morning’s Washington Post, which is owned by Jeff Bezos.

An unzipping shortcut

This story was doubly-interesting to me.

On one level, this highlighted a core difference between macOS and iOS, one of those things that keeps the Mac in my workflow. The issue here is what you do when someone sends you a zip file containing some data you need for, say, a report you are working on. The zipped data might be a table, it might be some images, it might be a mix of all sorts of things.

On my Mac, when I get a zip file, it’s simple to deal with. Double-click, it’s unzipped, and each individual file is immediately tied to its default opening app.

But a zip file in iOS requires some outside help. It is definitely a second class citizen at best.

But.

The second side of this story is about Shortcuts and, specifically a shortcut you can easily build (the author shows you how) or download to solve this problem. It also gives you the chance to customize that solution in any way you like.

Shortcuts definitely brings me closer to living full time in iOS. Great story.

Woman remotely wipes iPhone being held as evidence

Daily Gazette:

A cellphone seized by police as part of an investigation into a drive-by shooting last month was remotely wiped by its owner, authorities said this week.

Police believe Juelle L. Grant, 24, of Willow Avenue, may have been the driver of a vehicle involved in an Oct. 23 drive-by shooting on Van Vranken Avenue, near Lang Street, so they obtained her phone, according to police allegations filed in court. No one was injured in the shooting.

After police took her iPhone X, telling her it was considered evidence, “she did remotely wipe” the device, according to police.

What’s the law here? It’s her phone. Does she have the right to wipe it after it is taken from her? Do the police have the legal right to prevent this?

Fascinating story.

Jean-Louis Gassée on the birth of the Macintosh

Jean-Louis Gassée:

It’s November, 1983; I’m sitting in the auditorium at Apple’s worldwide sales meeting in Honolulu. The house lights dim and “1984” begins. Conceived by ad agency Chiat/Day, directed by Ridley Scott of Blade Runner fame, and destined to be aired nationally only once (during the 1984 Super Bowl).

And:

The lights come halfway up. Steve Jobs’ magical brainchild is lowered from the flies, deus ex Macintosh. Halfway through its descent, the Mac boots up and we hear the newborn’s wail, the now familiar Bong.

And:

Apple’s assembled sales organization was delighted by the Mac’s enchanting presentation, its (almost) never-seen-before user interface. But there was a nervous energy under the surface: Would the Macintosh save Apple from the IBM PC and its clones?

A nostalgic look back, with lots of interesting links and some images that will really take you back. Especially that one of young Steve Jobs giving IBM the finger.

The new Apple Pencil

Ever since I saw that first Apple Pencil 2 reveal, I’ve been struck by the genius of having the Apple Pencil stick to the side of the new iPad Pro, giving it a secure place to live and keeping it from rolling away. But most importantly, it makes charging so much easier.

I’m fascinated by this design choice and have been reading every review I can find. A couple of review points jumped out at me.

First, there’s this review from 9to5Mac’s Zac Hall. Zac loves the fact that the new Apple Pencil sticks to the iPad case and charges inductively, but:

One early concern, however, is that the magnetic charging and attachment side is on the right of the iPad Pro when holding it with Face ID at the top center. If I were right-handed, this would be ideal as Apple Pencil would always be there to grab and start writing with as needed.

As a left-handed person, I find that I hold the iPad in my right hand and navigate with my left hand. It’s slightly less natural to reach across the iPad for the Pencil when annotating something quickly. Technically you can use the iPad Pro in any orientation including upside down. I tried this method and much preferred the Apple Pencil on the left side, but then the volume and power buttons are moved and FaceTime calls have a nostril vantage point. I think I’ll just learn to reach across the iPad.

Not a big deal, but as a left-handed person, I do feel his pain.

Another early observation is that the new magnetic storage method is no issue when the iPad Pro is in landscape orientation and the Apple Pencil is on top, but it’s a little awkward to grab or hold the iPad Pro from the right side in portrait orientation with the Apple Pencil attached. I haven’t knocked it off, but it’s just in the way. Maybe I’ll adjust to holding the iPad Pro in my left hand.

Again, not a big deal, but it would be a win if a future version allowed charging from either side. A subtle point, but worth noting.

Another interesting bit is from Matthew Panzarino’s excellent iPad Pro review:

Many of the internal components are very similar to the first-generation Pencil, but one of the new ones is a capacitive band that covers the bottom third of the pencil from the tip upwards. This band is what enables the double tap and it is nicely sensitive. It feels organic and smooth to invoke it, and you can adjust the cadence of tap in the Pencil’s control panel.

Basically, the bottom third of the new Apple Pencil is touch-sensitive, all the way around. So no need to fid the flat side of the Apple Pencil to double-tap. And, seems to me, there’s an opportunity for all sorts of gestures in the future. If Apple chose to, they could open up that capacitive band to developers, allow them to define their own gestures. The Apple Pencil could become a bit of its own computing device, a remote control of sorts.

Kris Wu’s iTunes takeover happened “fraudulently”, won’t count toward charts

Variety:

A strange thing happened on the iTunes U.S. store on Monday (Nov. 5) when Kris Wu, a Chinese-Canadian actor and artist, practically swept the Top 10 songs chart.

And:

It seemed curious that Wu, whose album “Antares” had yet to be released in China, would have such momentum on a U.S. chart. While he’s a household name in Asia, in America he’s comparably an unknown. Also, Wu’s tracks weren’t streaming in significant numbers which was reason enough for some industry insiders to cry foul.

And:

According to a well-placed insider, Wu’s album sales were acquired fraudulently and will not count toward the iTunes sales chart reported to Nielsen and disseminated by Billboard. The determination was made to “suppress those sales numbers” on Wednesday afternoon following patterns of high-volume purchases on iTunes, first of the explicit version of “Antares,” and then of the clean version.

An odd story, but not quite what it appears. Read on:

According to insiders, there were several factors that contributed to Wu’s showing. First, his album hadn’t yet been released in China where the label purportedly purposely held it back so it could come out on Wu’s birthday, Tuesday, Nov. 6. Typically, albums come out on Fridays worldwide, as per the global release date change instituted in 2015. But in the U.S., it was already available on iTunes, released by Interscope Records on Nov. 2. What transpired was a classic supply and demand scenario where “supply in the U.S. met the demand in China.”

Not sure how this is fraud. One theory holds that massive China fans resorted to VPNs to get the album in the US when they couldn’t get it in China. But is that fraud? Interesting.

2018 Mac mini teardown

Pop the bottom cover, 6 Torx screws to remove the antenna plate, and you’re in. Very similar to the old Mac mini in approach.

I love the way this comes apart. Gives me the chance to repair and replace parts myself.