John Gruber’s review of the new iPad mini

Nice long read, full of detail. One nugget in particular:

Here’s a really big pro in the iPad Mini’s column that I didn’t fully anticipate until diving in with it this week: it’s so much better for thumb-typing. Honestly, I hate typing on the on-screen keyboard on my iPad Pro. I hate it. I really do. If I have to do it I’ll put it in landscape and set it down on a table or counter and try to touch type with all my fingers. But holding the iPad Pro in portrait, I literally can’t type with my thumbs. When I try, everything comes out garbled. I can’t reach all the keys, and inexplicably, the iPad Pro keyboards no longer support splitting them into two smaller more reachable halves.

The iPad mini is a gem of a form factor. Perfect for so many people, especially those with small hands. But it’s also perfect for reading in bed. It’s big enough to see plenty of good-sized text but light enough to not be wearying on your arms.

As to the iPad Pro, the lack of a split for the onscreen keyboard is mystifying.

But that iPad mini? Delicious.

Rene Ritchie digs in to the new iPad mini (a bit of iPad Air too)

[VIDEO] Lots to absorb here, but my favorite bit comes at about 1:40 in, when Rene compares the screen size and aspect ratio of the iPhone XS and the iPad mini. The advantage of the iPad mini is significant, and Rene does a nice job showing why.

Video embedded in the main Loop post.

So you want your app/website to work in China…

chanind.github.io:

I don’t have to do anything to make my app work in the US or Singapore or Kenya or anywhere else, and I didn’t make the Chinese government angry, so it should just work in China, right? Sadly, it’s not so simple. If your app/website servers aren’t hosted from within China, then, for all intents and purposes, it’s blocked. I mean, it will probably technically load, but will be excruciatingly, unusably slow. And sometimes it will just not load at all for hours at a time. This is true for all services hosted outside of the firewall, even in Hong Kong.

Interesting read, full of insight and useful details for folks who want exposure in China.

Disney buys Fox. Fox lays off thousands. Huge opportunity for Apple to snap up top talent.

Variety:

Fox employees knew this day was coming. For over a year, the men and women who work at the Century City lot have talked of little else but severance packages and job searches. They knew that when Disney wrapped up its $71.3 billion acquisition of much of 21st Century Fox’s film and television assets, thousands of jobs would be eliminated.

But until recently, they just didn’t know the specifics. The ax officially fell yesterday.

Studio veterans such as domestic distribution chief Chris Aronson, president of product strategy and consumer business development Mike Dunn, worldwide theatrical marketing president Pam Levine, and chief content officer Tony Sella, who have decades of experience, were gone in short order, taking with them pieces of the institutional memory of a studio that has made everything from Shirley Temple musicals to “Avatar.”

Tough times for the people at Fox.

Apple promotional walk down memory lane

[VIDEO] Harry McCracken, writing for FastCompany (back in 2015), came across this Apple promotional video that was likely created back in 1984, a look back on the very beginnings of Apple.

Part of the video’s charm is the way it treats the origins of the Apple I and Apple II as ancient history, even though even the Apple I had been introduced only eight years earlier. Woz explains that he designed the Apple I because he wanted a computer himself. “Steve went a little further,” he adds. “Steve saw it as a product which you can actually deliver, sell, and someone else can use.”

A quote from Steve in the video:

Every few days, Woz would say, ‘God, I’ve made an incredible breakthrough. I’ve saved a few chips here and there.’ I remember this iterative process of watching him get to this incredible stage, and then figure out a way to take another few parts out, and add three more features. And it kept getting better and better and better.

So much to love about this video. One particular comment:

If you watch the video as obsessively as I did, you’ll spot amazing little tidbits–almost like Easter eggs that its producers unwittingly hid away for us 21st-century tech aficionados to discover. Here, for instance, are images of Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak wearing watches that you might mistake for Apple Watches, if you didn’t know the photos were a few decades old.

I remember noticing SteveJ’s watch when the Apple Watch first became a thing. Posted this time travel reference.

Anyway, enjoy the video, embedded in the main Loop post.

Casper’s clever little nightlight seems Apple worthy

I very rarely do product mentions, but this one just captivated me.

The Casper Glow light is designed to sit on a charging pad on your nightstand next to you in bed. Here’s what it does:

  • Flip it over to turn it on and start a timer that slowly warms the color temperature and dims slowly as you fall asleep.

  • Spinning it on a flat surface adjusts the brightness. And, if you have two, you can sync them so you spin one to adjust the brightness for both.

  • If you pick it up and carry it (say, for a late night trip to the loo or to check on the baby), give it a shake and it will slightly raise the light level.

There’s more to it, but you get the idea. This is a clever product. Clever enough that I wouldn’t be surprised if it came from Apple.

But it actually comes from Casper, the company known for selling mattresses directly to consumers.

If this captures your interest at all, check the linked article. There are a ton of images and animated GIFs that show off all these features and more, plus there’s an iFixit worthy teardown of the innards.

Here’s a link to the Casper Glow Light product page.

Send me one, Casper, and I’ll take it for a spin.

Using your credit card’s extended warranty to replace out-of-warranty AirPods

Reddit:

I just got an extended-warranty claim approved for my airpods. After 1.5 years the battery has really gone downhill and I have started experiencing a lot of disconnects.

I started a chat with apple and since it was out of warranty they said I would have to pay for the replacement. I asked them to confirm that if I was still in warranty this replacement would be free of charge.

I then took this chat history to my citi credit card and two weeks later my claim was approved.

This is a very interesting strategy. Many credit cards include this sort of free replacement coverage. The key is getting Apple to acknowledge that sinking battery life would be covered if the AirPods were still under warranty.

Apple’s coming paid news service: Wall Street Journal in, New York Times, Washington Post opt out

New York Times:

The Wall Street Journal plans to join a new paid subscription news service run by Apple, according to two people familiar with the plans, as other publishers chafe at the terms that the Silicon Valley company is demanding of its partners.

Other major publishers, including The New York Times and The Washington Post, have opted out of joining the subscription service, said the people, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the plans.

And:

The most recent terms that Apple is offering to publishers ask for a cut of roughly half of the subscription revenue involved in the service, the people said. Apple has also asked publishers to give unlimited access to all their content, which has caused concern among potential partners, they said. A subscription is expected to cost $10 a month.

The deal’s terms have caused some publishers to recoil, as a 50 percent cut is higher than the 30 percent that Apple usually takes from apps and subscriptions sold through its App Store. Publishers are also concerned that they won’t have access to important data about the consumers — credit cards, email addresses and other subscriber information — as part of the deal.

This is interesting on two counts. Both that two of the biggest news gatherers in the world have opted out, and to hear a first hand account from one of them as to why.

The event is Monday.

Apple announces new AirPods with wireless charging case, hands free Hey Siri

Apple:

Apple today announced new AirPods, the second generation of the world’s most popular wireless headphones.

Pricing:

  • Standard case, $159
  • Wireless case, $199
  • Standalone wireless case, $79

The new case will work with both old and new AirPods.

The new Apple-designed H1 chip features custom audio architecture to create a revolutionary audio experience and improved synchronization. H1 allows AirPods to deliver up to 50 percent more talk time compared to first generation AirPods.

And:

For the first time, AirPods now feature the convenience of “Hey Siri” making it easier to change songs, make a call, adjust the volume or get directions simply by saying, “Hey Siri.”

Add to the mix free engraving, and this was an instabuy for me. Mine are ordered, with the engraving “Dark Mode Dave”, and should be in hand in time for next week’s Dalrymple Report.

Inside Apple’s sports surveillance room that could change the way we watch live events

Sports Illustrated:

On the second floor of a Silicon Valley office complex, in a conference room crowded with a dozen workers and three times as many devices, Apple is watching sports for you.

They’ve been at it for almost a year now, keeping an eye on minor tennis tournaments, spring training baseball, college lacrosse, even curling. The team manages the sports subsection in Apple’s TV app and its Apple TV interface, highlighting what’s available around the clock.

And:

It’s been 18 years since Apple disrupted music by extracting the song from the album. Now, it’s joined other companies separating moments from their games. The goal is to offer the curated convenience of highlights without sacrificing the thrill of live. Don’t miss another moment, the pitch goes, but don’t wait for one either.

And:

Sports rights are deeply fragmented, with different owners split by platform and region. “You really can’t own all the rights, so therefore at some point you need to solve some other problems,” Cue said. “You can’t design for owning the rights because if that’s the only thing you’re doing you’re always going to be tiny.” And these days, Apple rarely does tiny.

And:

In a world of infinite supply, [Eddy] Cue wants to be the middleman, letting fans know what’s worth watching and offering one-click access to action rather than worsening the fragmentation. For Apple, there are financial benefits there. The company takes a cut of sports subscription services purchased on iOS and, on a high-level, can leverage its exclusive software into hardware profits.

This is a fantastic read and, seems to me, a giant hint at what’s coming in next week’s Apple event.

Google’s huge new bet on the future of gaming

Gizmodo:

In a keynote at Game Developers Conference in San Francisco today Google announced a new service, Stadia, that will allow gamers to play the biggest games on any Android or Chrome-based device (including any device with a Chrome browser).

And:

Google’s Stadia service works on any device that supports the Chromecast protocol, which means iOS, Android, Chrome OS, macOS, Windows, and even the Chromecast dongle. They all speak to one of Google’s 7,500 data center nodes (which span the globe) and recognize your specific account, allowing you to move from one device to the other without a bunch of messy handoffs between systems, because the actual game is running at the data center.

This is no small thing. First we had cartridges and disks, physical media, that meant you had to wait for a game to ship to you, then connect and install. Then we had downloadable content, which made things faster, catered to the impulse buyer who wanted their games right now.

But Stadia is a whole different spin on this model. Your games run on Google’s servers. Startup is pretty much instantaneous, with Google controlling everything.

A few obvious concerns: You’ll be running games under Google’s auspices, using a Google account. And then there’s latency and bandwidth.

But there have been two big problems with this: Latency, which might make games needing finesse, like shooter and fighting games, unplayable, and internet throughput. Streaming a game eats up a lot of data and even the Google Stream beta required about 25Mbps in order to stream anything remotely playable and attractive. Google has not yet disclosed the speed requirements for Stadia.

One solution it’s presented for handling latency is a new controller that connects directly to Google’s servers instead of to the device you’re playing on. That should, theoretically, reduce the amount of input lag.

All this is still a big bag of unknowns, an announcement and not a shipping product. But that controller looks real enough and Stadia does seem like it will see the light of day.

One thing I loved, was that old school gamer Easter egg on the underside of the controller.

Disney completes $70B acquisition of Fox assets — What’s the impact on Apple?

Malcolm Owen, Apple Insider:

Announced in July 2018 following a bidding war with Comcast, the acquisition of 21st Century Fox completed early on Wednesday morning.

And:

Alongside ESPN+ and Disney+, Disney also increases its holdings in existing streaming service Hulu, combining Fox’s ownership stake with its own to give it a sizable level of control over the firm.

And:

While Apple has invested significantly into original content production, acquiring more content may be problematic if Disney extends its exclusivity policy to other content producers it operates.

The sheer size of both the firm and its content library will also give Disney more leverage when in negotiations with Apple concerning its online stores, which could allow it to gain more favorable terms for movies and TV shows offered to consumers.

This Disney Fox deal will have repercussions far down the road. Note that Disney CEO Bob Iger is on Apple’s board. At one point, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt was on the Apple board (from 2006-2009). A number of conflicts pushed him off the board.

Amazing human voice simulation

This is just so much fun to play with. Before you jump to the page, note that as soon as you tap/click it will instantly make noise, so throw on some headphones if you are not alone.

Tap and drag just about anywhere on the interface. Imagine that you are moving your tongue, mouth, and lips to make these same sounds.

Fun and interesting.

iMac gets a 2x performance boost

Apple:

Apple today updated its iMac line with up to 8-core Intel 9th-generation processors for the first time and powerful Vega graphics options, delivering dramatic increases in both compute and graphics performance.

The details:

  • The 21.5-inch iMac now features 8th-generation quad-core, and for the first time 6-core processors, delivering up to 60 percent faster performance.

  • The 27-inch iMac now for the first time features up to 9th-generation 6-core and 8-core processors, delivering up to 2.4 times faster performance.

The 21.5-inch ranges in price from $1099 to $1499. The 27-inch ranges in price from $1799 to $2299.

All of these prices are with the default of 8GB of RAM. Before you buy, be sure to dig into the specs. Not all the RAM is the same speed.

John Gruber’s take on the new iPads and why they only support the original Apple Pencil

John Gruber’s list of reasons the new iPads only support the original Apple Pencil:

  • The Pencil 2 requires an iPad with flat sides for the magnetic charging and pairing.

  • The flat sides of the newest iPad Pros go hand-in-hand, design-wise, with the edge-to-edge (or “edge-to-edge” if you prefer) round-corned displays, and Face ID instead of Touch ID. Those things all add to the price of iPad Pros.

  • In theory Apple could have given these new iPads flat sides just to support the new Pencil, sticking with the square-cornered display, larger chin and forehead, and Touch ID — but that’s not how Apple rolls. Such design elements are integrated with the whole.

And:

If Apple had wanted the new Pencil 2 to work on all new iPads, they would’ve had to put a Lightning plug on the new Pencil in addition to supporting conductive charging and pairing. But that’s really not how Apple rolls — that would have ruined one of the things that makes the new Pencil so much nicer than the old Pencil. Better to have a messy product lineup where some new iPads only support the new Pencil and others only support the old Pencil than to have a messy new Pencil.

All fair points. To get a sense of how Apple is handling this, take a look at the Apple Pencil buy page. If you are buying an Apple Pencil, Apple steers you here to make sure you don’t buy the wrong product.

My only quibble is with the product name. The original Apple Pencil is clearly very different from Apple Pencil 2. Both belong to the same product line, but Apple has a traditional of calling out the differences. Consider Apple Watch Series 4, or MacBook Pro 2018. Not sure why they didn’t do that here, but c’est la vie.

Apple’s updated iPad Air and Mini support eSIMs

Engadget:

The iPad mini and iPad Air Apple quietly announced ahead of its big March event will come with eSIM support. Cupertino’s latest iPad Pros have eSIM support, as well, but these new entries are the first non-Pro models with the feature. While the Apple SIM works similarly — and present in older non-Pro iPads — it’s only compatible with the tech giant’s partner carriers. By giving these devices eSIM support, they’ll be able to work even on the networks of non-partner carriers.

A small thing, but really important for folks who travel.

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings: He won’t be working with Apple when it launches its new video plans

Peter Kafka, Recode:

Apple is planning a big announcement to unveil its new video strategy next week, and there is a long list of unknowns about Apple’s plans. Now we know one thing: Netflix won’t be a part of them.

And:

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings confirmed Monday that the company won’t be selling subscriptions to its video service through a hub that Apple plans on launching, similar to one that Amazon already uses to sell video subscription services like HBO and Showtime.

And:

In 2016, for instance, when Apple launched a new “TV” app, designed to be a digital TV guide, Netflix never signed on. And late last year, Apple stopped selling subscriptions to its service via Apple’s store.

Will Apple lose because they won’t have Netflix on their hub? Will Netflix lose because they isolate themselves from the core of clustered services that consumers see most? Or is this much ado about nothing?

Six days until the event.

Apple announces all new 10.5″ iPad Air and 7.9″ iPad mini, both with Apple Pencil support

Apple on the new iPad Air:

Apple today introduced the all-new iPad Air in an ultra-thin 10.5-inch design, offering the latest innovations including Apple Pencil support and high-end performance at a breakthrough price. With the A12 Bionic chip with Apple’s Neural Engine, the new iPad Air delivers a 70 percent boost in performance and twice the graphics capability, and the advanced Retina display with True Tone technology is nearly 20 percent larger with over half a million more pixels.

Apple on the new iPad mini:

Apple today also introduced the new 7.9-inch iPad mini, a major upgrade for iPad mini fans who love a compact, ultra-portable design packed with the latest technology. With the A12 Bionic chip, the new iPad mini is a powerful multi-tasking machine, delivering three times the performance and nine times faster graphics.3 The advanced Retina display with True Tone technology and wide color support is 25 percent brighter3 and has the highest pixel density of any iPad, delivering an immersive visual experience in any setting.

From what I can tell, both devices only support the first generation Apple Pencil. All the images show the first gen and the linked footnote specifically says, “The first-generation Apple Pencil sold separately.”

Both iPads are available to order right now and in stores next week.

One side thought: The iPad mini is the smallest iPad to support Apple Pencil. It does not have a magnet for charging and attaching the Apple Pencil. Seems achingly close to Apple Pencil support for the larger iPhone. Would you like Apple Pencil support on your iPhone?

New York Times previews Apple shows that have finished filming or close to wrap

The list of projects is at the end of the article, which also includes these two nuggets:

People involved in the coming series also said that Apple executives had expressed squeamishness when it comes to the portrayal of technology in the shows — how exactly are you using that iPhone? Or that Mac laptop?

And:

Executives at the company bristled when they discovered there would be scenes involving crucifixes in Mr. Shyamalan’s new thriller for the service, as The Wall Street Journal reported in September. But Apple ultimately allowed the crucifixes to remain, according to two people familiar with the series.

The list of shows detailed in the article:

  • Untitled Series With Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston
  • “Amazing Stories,” a Steven Spielberg Reboot
  • “Are You Sleeping?” a Mystery Starring Octavia Spencer
  • “For All Mankind,” a Ronald D. Moore Sci-Fi Series
  • “See,” With the “Aquaman” Star Jason Momoa
  • A New Shyamalan Thriller
  • “Little America,” From the Writers of “The Big Sick”
  • A Comedy From the “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” Duo
  • “Central Park,” a Cartoon Musical
  • “Home,” From the Documentary Filmmaker Matt Tyrnauer
  • “Dickinson,” an Emily Dickinson Comedy

Remember, this is a list of shows that are finished (or close to finished) filming. Still lots of work to do, but this is a substantive achievement.

Really looking forward to seeing this unfold.

MySpace lost all music uploaded from 2003 to 2015

Reddit:

About a year ago, all music on MySpace from 2015 and older stopped working. At first MySpace said they were working on the issue, but they eventually admitted they lost all the data (and apparently didn’t have backups?).

From MySpace:

As a result of a server migration project, any photos, videos, and audio files you uploaded more than three years ago may no longer be available on or from Myspace. We apologize for the inconvenience and suggest that you retain your back up copies.

And this screen cap.

Cautionary tale: Keep multiple offsite backups of anything you can’t afford to lose.

Interview with Dr. Sumbul Desai, Apple’s VP of Health, on the results of the Stanford study

Men’s Health:

In an exclusive interview on the eve of the publication of the study, Sumbul Desai, M.D., Apple’s VP of Health, said that during the conceptualizing and design of the product, Apple worked with the medical community, especially around the concern of how to ensure that it won’t drive unnecessary use of medical resources through false positives.

And:

“Before a notification is given to a person, the feature has to see five instances that look like Afib.” Notes Dr. Desai. “By doing that gating within the algorithm, Apple designed toward specificity and toward avoiding unnecessary alerts.”

And this from Dr. Christopher Kelly, cardiologist at Columbia University Medical Center, on whether early detection helps people who are risk of Afib:

“A successful screening test is not one that just detects something earlier; it detects it earlier at a time where earlier intervention improves outcomes,” he says. “Over time we’ll figure out how to best use this stuff.”

Another nugget:

Through the flow of the study, Apple learned other facts about participants’ health: 38 percent were obese based on body mass index, 21 percent had high blood pressure, 5 percent had diabetes, 1 percent had a prior stroke.

Feels like we are just getting started here. Can’t wait to see what Apple Watch 5 has in store.

Stanford Medicine announces results of unprecedented Apple Heart Study

Apple:

Stanford Medicine today reported results of the Apple Heart Study, the largest study ever of its kind, which enrolled over 400,000 participants from all 50 states in a span of only eight months. Apple and Stanford created the study to evaluate Apple Watch’s irregular rhythm notification, which occasionally checks the heart’s rhythm in the background and sends a notification if an irregular heart rhythm appears to be suggestive of atrial fibrillation (AFib). As part of the study, if an irregular heart rhythm was identified, participants received a notification on their Apple Watch and iPhone, a telehealth consultation with a doctor and an electrocardiogram (ECG) patch for additional monitoring.

To me, this is Apple at its best, bringing change to the world that helps us all.

Add to this the incredible business win for the Apple Watch and the iPhone.

Watch Samsung’s brand new Galaxy S10 face unlock get defeated by a video on another phone

[VIDEO] Lewis Hilsenteger, of Unbox Therapy, holds a video of himself up to the Galaxy S10. The video unlocks the phone.

I immediate thought of this scenario:

  • Bad actor takes video of victim’s face
  • Bad actor steals victim’s Galaxy S10
  • Bad actor unlocks the Galaxy S10

I can think of many more, but what’s the point of face unlock if it is so easily defeated?

The video is embedded in the main Loop post. Jump to about 2 minutes in to see this for yourself. Oh Samsung.

Apple forms team to pursue Emmys, Oscars, other awards for coming video service

Bloomberg:

Apple is forming a team of people with awards strategy experience. In January, it hired one such person from Walt Disney Co.’s television group. The iPhone maker is also seeking a high-level candidate to oversee the process, one of the people familiar with the situation said. The company could be in the running for Emmy awards as early as 2020, according to people familiar with the process.

And:

Awards strategists arrange screenings and other publicity events for Hollywood insiders and others who vote on which movies and TV shows win awards. These promoters must work within strict guidelines while ensuring voters see the movies and even spend time with the actors and filmmakers.

No surprise there. But interesting to see how all this works. I am very excited to see Apple’s video efforts take form.

Apple: Addressing Spotify’s claims

If you’re new to this fight, take a look at Spotify posts their specific gripes about Apple and the App Store.

Shots fired across Apple’s bow.

Spotify’s post was two days ago. Yesterday, Apple fired back:

What Spotify is demanding is something very different. After using the App Store for years to dramatically grow their business, Spotify seeks to keep all the benefits of the App Store ecosystem — including the substantial revenue that they draw from the App Store’s customers — without making any contributions to that marketplace. At the same time, they distribute the music you love while making ever-smaller contributions to the artists, musicians and songwriters who create it — even going so far as to take these creators to court.

Does Spotify pay Apple to be in the App Store? Try this exercise:

  • Launch the Spotify app
  • Logout (if you already have an account) and create a new account
  • Jump through a few hoops, then tap the Premium tab at the bottom of the screen
  • You’ll see a message that says “You can’t upgrade to Premium in the app”

So Spotify is complaining about a tax that they do not pay.

Add in the fact that Spotify is fighting the U.S. Copyright Royalty Board ruling that would increase payouts to songwriters by 44%. Notably, Apple is on board with the royalty increase.

To me, both of these things just get in the way of any valid points Spotify might be making. Not a good look.

Take the time to read Apple’s Addressing Spotify’s claims post. It’s well crafted and, to me, legitimate