The story of the birth of Apple, told as a manga

I bought this book the second I heard about it. I think it was the cover that really drew me in.

Check it for yourself:

If the art style appeals to you, check out the book. It’s only $2.99, but it’s also only available on Amazon’s Kindle Store (you can read it in the Kindle app on your iOS device).

The story is oddly told and, in some places, almost incomprehensible, but it is also charming and made me laugh more than once. To me, this had the feel of a story translated from one language to another, with all the exaggerated elements of an often-told and well-loved legend.

If you’re cool with all that, I think it’s $2.99 well spent.

Opening new tabs next to the current tab in Safari

John Gruber first points out that Safari always places new tabs on the rightmost side of its tab list. He then elegantly walks through the process of getting Safari to create new tabs just to the right of the current tab.

It’s not trivial, but definitely interesting and worth the read. Even if this particular tab issue is not a problem for you, knowing how to create a script and assign it a command-key shortcut that overrides what’s built-in has lots of value.

Video interview of the Reddit user whose Apple Watch told him he had AFib

[VIDEO] This story has been flying around the internet. From the original Reddit post:

Ok holy hell…. strap in.

If you have the Apple Watch 4 please please update to the new firmware released yesterday and take your ECG.

I did last night and tried it out. Weird. Abnormal heat rate notifications. Ran the ECG app and came back afib. Well…glitchy firmware. Let’s try again. Afib. Again and again and again. Piece of crap watch.

My wife wakes up and I put it on her. Normal. Normal. Me afib. Try the other wrist, try the underside of the wrist. Every time afib warning.

Ok. So go to Patient First. Parking lot full and I’m going to blow it off and head home. Look at the watch again, afib again.

Fine walk in and sign in. They ask what’s wrong and I’m embarrassed. ‘Ok so there is a new watch feature….hahaha….I’m silly but can we check this?”

I did not know that this comment was a quick queue pass for Patient First. I’m taken right back and hooked up. The technician looks at the screen and says “I’m going to get the doctor”

The waves from this story took Ed Dentel all the way to an interview on Good Morning America. Watch the interview embedded in the main Loop post. The Apple Watch is amazing technology, and I feel like we’re just seeing the barest minimum of its potential.

Oh Samsung, redux

Yesterday, we posted about Samsung’s awful deal with a Supreme brand copycat.

After a wave of terrible publicity, Samsung did an about face, saying:

Recently, Samsung Electronics announced at the Galaxy A8s conference that it will cooperate with Supreme Italia in the Chinese market. We are currently re-evaluating this cooperation, and we deeply regret the inconvenience caused.

Suggestion for you, Samsung: Do your homework before you sign the deal.

Your apps know where you were last night, and they’re not keeping it secret

New York Times:

The millions of dots on the map trace highways, side streets and bike trails — each one following the path of an anonymous cellphone user.

One path tracks someone from a home outside Newark to a nearby Planned Parenthood, remaining there for more than an hour. Another represents a person who travels with the mayor of New York during the day and returns to Long Island at night.

Yet another leaves a house in upstate New York at 7 a.m. and travels to a middle school 14 miles away, staying until late afternoon each school day. Only one person makes that trip: Lisa Magrin, a 46-year-old math teacher. Her smartphone goes with her.

An app on the device gathered her location information, which was then sold without her knowledge. It recorded her whereabouts as often as every two seconds, according to a database of more than a million phones in the New York area that was reviewed by The New York Times. While Ms. Magrin’s identity was not disclosed in those records, The Times was able to easily connect her to that dot.

And:

At least 75 companies receive anonymous, precise location data from apps whose users enable location services to get local news and weather or other information, The Times found.

And:

More than 1,000 popular apps contain location-sharing code from such companies, according to 2018 data from MightySignal, a mobile analysis firm. Google’s Android system was found to have about 1,200 apps with such code, compared with about 200 on Apple’s iOS.

This is a riveting read. And there’s an amazing embedded graphic that takes you on a virtual map travel, following Ms. Magrin’s travels. (Note that the NYTimes didn’t dox her, she allowed the Times access to her data.)

From this Reddit post:

Instead of allowing apps all-or-nothing access to your GPS location, Apple should allow for a granular spectrum of access that the user chooses. This could go deeper and also be on a time- and location-based factor too. So instead of just “Allow or Don’t Allow Access to Location,” after which you’d have to go into the settings to change, there should be the ability to choose between exact GPS location, zip code (or the country’s relevant postal code), county, state, and time zone.

Apple already beefed up its privacy protections by adding “Only while using the app” as an Location Services icon in an iOS update, but it’s time to go further. In addition to the different degrees of location specificity, there should also be an “Allow once” option for situations where the user wants to allow it now but not necessary have that become the Location Services setting for the app that then requires opening up Settings and digging into the app’s preferences to change it.

And from this Motherboard article from Jason Koebler:

It’s not just Facebook: Android and iOS’s App Stores have incentivized an app economy where free apps make money by selling your personal data and location history to advertisers.

And:

The apps on your smartphone are tracking you, and that for all the talk about “anonymization” and claims that the data is collected only in aggregate, our habits are so specific—and often unique—so that anonymized identifiers can often be reverse engineered and used to track individual people.

Some have made the suggestion that users should just turn off Location Services (Settings > Privacy > Location Services). But this is an overreach. Location Services has real value. It lets you find misplaced devices, find people who share their locations with you, lets useful services know when you are nearby.

It’s the misuse of this data, the exporting it as a source of revenue that, in my opinion, is the setting Apple should expose. To me, this is the missing setting:

Settings > Privacy > Location > Allow my data to be exported

And who would ever check that checkbox? Certainly not me.

Oh Samsung

The Verge (via DF):

Samsung is getting criticized by hypebeasts everywhere after it claimed to be collaborating with Supreme; in reality, it partnered with a Supreme rip-off. Samsung is actually partnering with a fake legal brand, a rival company based in Barletta, Italy, that beat Supreme NYC in a court case this summer regarding who can use the brand name in Italy.

Supreme is a well known fashion brand, established in New York City. To get a sense of the brand, take a look at the jacket on this page, as well as their iconic logo.

A copycat Supreme brand sprung up in Italy. SupremeNYC sued them, the Italian court ruled for the copycat, with the words:

For an action to be a crime it is not sufficient the confusion between the two brands, nor the actual external similarity of the product.

So Samsung announced a deal with Supreme, but were actually partnering with the copycat. Oh, Samsung.

Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ named most-streamed Classic Rock song of all time

Variety:

Today (Dec. 10), the original song and official video for “Bohemian Rhapsody,” taken from the group’s 1975 album “A Night at the Opera,” surpassed 1.6 billion streams globally across all major streaming services.

And:

Brian May, Queen’s guitarist and founding member said, “So the River of Rock Music has metamorphosed into streams! Very happy that our music is still flowing to the max!”

And:

-“Bohemian Rhapsody” is the only song in history ever to have topped the U.K. charts twice at Christmas.

Whoever pulled together the marketing campaign for the Bohemian Rhapsody movie did a masterful job.

Infinity Blade trilogy says goodbye to the iOS App Store

Epic Games:

The three Infinity Blade games are no longer available for purchase as of today, 12/10/18. This groundbreaking trilogy took mobile gaming to new heights and pushed Epic Games in new, innovative directions. Along with the three Infinity Blade games, all in-app purchase options have been removed. Current owners will continue to be able to play these games, and download* them to their devices from an account that owns them, for the foreseeable future.

The Infinity Blade games really showed off the iPhone’s graphics engine. But the franchise is getting a bit long in the tooth. Infinity Blade III was released in 2013.

I think this says more about the massive success of Fortnite. Epic knows where their bread is buttered.

Super Micro says review found no malicious chips in motherboards

Reuters:

Computer hardware maker Super Micro Computer Inc told customers on Tuesday that an outside investigations firm had found no evidence of any malicious hardware in its current or older-model motherboards.

That outside firm was Nardello & Co. From the Nordello web site:

Nardello & Co. is a global investigations firm with experienced professionals handling a broad range of issues including the FCPA/UK Bribery Act and other corruption-related investigations, civil and white collar criminal litigation support, asset tracing, strategic intelligence and political risk assessment, computer forensics and reputational due diligence.

Digging a bit more, this seems to fall into their Digital Investigations & Cyber Defense Division, headed by Mark Ray. From Mark Ray’s page:

Mark was a Director in PricewaterhouseCoopers’s Incident Response practice and led the firm’s US Cyber Threat Intelligence Center. Prior to joining PwC, Mark had a distinguished career as a Special Agent with the FBI’s Cyber Division, where he led several of the FBI’s most preeminent criminal and national security cyber investigations.

Impressive CV. Wondering where this goes from here. Bloomberg sticking to their guns?

As a reminder, here’s a link to the original Bloomberg article that started this all.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta tests the Apple Watch’s new ECG heart monitor

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN:

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that as many as 6.1 million Americans are living with a-fib, and that number is only expected to increase as the population grows older. Apple’s hope is that with the single-lead ECG available anytime you are wearing your watch, you have a better chance at screening for atrial fibrillation at the time it is happening.

This is a well-written, easy to understand first look at the just-released Apple Watch’s ECG feature. It’s full of little details, such as:

The new Apple Watch features are cleared, but not approved, by the US Food and Drug Administration. It may seem a subtle point, but for something to be approved by the FDA, it is subjected to much more rigorous testing and data collection. Clearance is typically given to medical devices that have been determined to be substantially equivalent to another legally marketed device — an easier hurdle to cross.

And:

According to clearance letters sent by the FDA to Apple on September 11, the app is intended for use only in people ages 22 and up, whom the FDA considers adults. The irregular rhythm notification feature is not intended for use in people who have been diagnosed with a-fib, who should be under a doctor’s care.

There are already lots of stories floating around about people who have tried this feature out and caught a potentially life-threatening condition. I have yet to see a downside emerge, a rash of false positives for example.

So far, this seems like a hugely positive rollout. Time will tell, obviously, but I like what we’ve seen so far and I’m looking forward to more features like this from Apple and the Apple Watch and Health teams.

Video taken on Mars, listen to the Martian winds

[VIDEO] NASA:

NASA’s Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) lander, which touched down on Mars just 10 days ago, has provided the first ever “sounds” of Martian winds on the Red Planet.

Incredible to me that this video (embedded in main Loop post) was shot on another planet, and I get to embed it in this post. Will humans eventually live on other planets? Will we someday see videos like this that include news from other extraterrestrial outposts?

Some pretty cool panorama selfies

Not sure selfies is the right term here, but these panorama shots are both cool and, if you are into this sort of trick photography, inspiring.

https://twitter.com/akirareiko/status/1071850669496254464

Load the tweet above, click play.

How y’all, youse and you guys talk

This quiz original came out in 2013 but has been flying around the internet over the past few days.

In a nutshell, you answer 25 questions that try to pry out how y’all refer to things like soda, rubber bands, and service roads and, in return, you’ll get a surprisingly accurate guess as to where you grew up.

Obviously, this is specific to the US and will be more accurate if you spent a good chunk of your developing years in one place.

Electron and the decline of native apps

From John Gruber’s take on the state of native Mac apps:

In some ways, the worst thing that ever happened to the Mac is that it got so much more popular a decade ago. In theory, that should have been nothing but good news for the platform — more users means more attention from developers. The more Mac users there are, the more Mac apps we should see. The problem is, the users who really care about good native apps — users who know HIG violations when they see them, who care about performance, who care about Mac apps being right — were mostly already on the Mac. A lot of newer Mac users either don’t know or don’t care about what makes for a good Mac app.

Fascinating read, all the way through.

Apple and gravity

Jake Swearingen, The Intelligencer:

From roughly 2007 until 2013, the smartphone market grew at an astonishing pace, posting double-digit growth year after year, even during a global recession.

And:

Smartphone growth began to slow starting in 2013 or 2014. In 2016, it was suddenly in the single digits, and in 2017 global smartphone shipments, for the first time, actually declined — fewer smartphones were sold than in 2017 than in 2016.

And:

In 2017, per the International Data Corporation, global shipments of smartphones declined year-over-year for the first time in history. In 2018, IDC says the same thing happened in the U.S. market.

And:

Some manufacturers and analysts may hope that flat sales in the developed world could be offset by strong sales in other markets. Fat chance. The markets where smartphone saturation hasn’t set in yet — such as India, Southeast Asia, pockets of Latin America, and Africa — are different than the markets that fueled the first decade of smartphone growth. “In those markets, there are extremely competitive devices down near the equivalent of $200,” says Stanton. “It’s becoming a real battlefield, but it’s a low-margin business and consumers down at the those price points tend to be not very brand-centric. That really plays into hands of a few really hyperaggressive brands of smartphones, most of which are coming from China.”

But what about Apple? Can they continue to defy gravity?

While the rest of the smartphone market worries about commodification and what each brand will need to do to gain or defend market share in a world where smartphones are like cars, Apple stands alone. “Apple has a different set of options available to it,” says David Yoffie, a professor of international business at Harvard Business School who also sits on the board of HTC. “They have this extraordinary user base that allows them to do things other firms could never get away with.”

All of this is the lead-up to a very interesting analysis of Apple’s gravity defying potential. Good read.

Can you spot the continuity errors?

[VIDEO] Lori Dorn, Laughing Squid:

Legendary script supervisor Martha Pinson, who has worked with such luminary directors as Martin Scorsese, Sidney Lumet, Oliver Stone, Milos Forman, Brian De Palma and Peter Yates, sat down with Vanity Fair to dissect a scene that was deliberately strewn with serious continuity problems. Pinson spotted many of these errors, explained what was wrong and made corrections in real time. Actually, Pinson spotted all of the errors, but left them for the viewers to find.

I love movies. This was a lot of fun. Video embedded in main Loop post.

The world’s shortest review of apple’s $40 iPhone XR clear case

John Gruber:

You can say $40 is too much for an iPhone case, but I’d say Apple’s $40 clear case is easily worth twice as much as the $20 clear cases I’ve tried. If I bought an XR and wanted to use a case, this is the case I would buy. It’s so good it makes me wonder why Apple doesn’t make clear cases like this one for the iPhone XS and XS Max.

High praise. Puzzling that it took so long to get to market. Is it the material science involved?

Apple, a violent Israeli TV show, and the myth that Apple wants only family-friendly video

CNBC:

Apple is in advanced talks to buy rights to a gritty Israeli TV show called “Nevelot” (English translation: “Bastards”) and adapt it for the U.S., beating out bids from competitors including Showtime, FX and Amazon, according to several people with knowledge of the deal. The show’s plot involves two military veterans who go on a youth-focused killing spree because they believe today’s kids don’t understand the sacrifices of their generation.

And:

Apple’s heads of programming, Zach Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht, who started in June, have been working overtime to dispel the myth that Apple is interested only in family-friendly material.

In general, Apple wants high-impact content based on things people have heard of, like books, franchises or ideas that have resonance, according to people who have spoken to the company.

Not clear that Apple will actually close on this deal and, if they do, whether Apple’s version of the show will retain the grittiness and violence of the original.

Hard to judge Apple’s true aims here until the new wave of shows actually hit the market.

Van Amburg and Erlicht, who were previously presidents of Sony Pictures Television, are highly respected in the entertainment industry. One of their biggest successes was bringing “Breaking Bad” and its showrunner Vince Gilligan to Sony.

The duo has made it very clear they are now looking for Apple’s version of the series, which revolved around an high school teacher turned meth dealer.

Apple brought this team on board. Hard to believe they would hamstring them, keep them from doing what they do best. Time will tell.

An inside look at Apple’s biggest step yet in health care

Alex Fitzpatrick, Time:

Captain America and Black Panther were about to defend Earth from the villain Thanos when Kevin Foley first noticed something was wrong. Foley, a 46-year-old information-technology worker from Kyle, Texas, was heading into the theater to see Avengers: Infinity War when he realized he was having trouble breathing normally. The sensation struck again during another movie the following night, but more severe this time. Once the credits on the second film rolled, Foley took action: he looked at his wristwatch. It was a bigger step than you might imagine, because Foley was wearing an Apple Watch equipped with medical sensors and experimental software to track basic functions of his heart. And the watch was worried. It had, according to the display, detected signs of an irregular heartbeat.

“The watch was worried”. Love that. More:

Along with competitors, Apple gadgets have already offered fitness functions, such as apps to track the steps you’ve walked. But with the new ECG scan, Apple is moving squarely into medical aspects of health, a distinction underscored by the fact it sought–and received–Food and Drug Administration clearance for the cardiac monitor.

And:

Even as it was devising new sensors and software, Apple was also beefing up its health expertise. In a move that didn’t attract much attention among tech journalists but that made a splash in the medical-tech world, Apple hired Dr. Sumbul Desai from Stanford’s medical school to serve as its vice president of health.

Dr. Desai got a computer science degree, went to work for IBM, then ABC and Disney, then went back to med school. Getting into med school is an incredibly stressful, difficult process. To leave the comfort of a big paycheck, make a major career left turn, then face and conquer that challenge is impressive, to say the least.

She went back to school for a medical degree and completed her residency at Stanford, eventually joining the university and later becoming vice chair of strategy and innovation for the department of medicine. She continues to serve as a clinical associate professor of medicine there in addition to her Apple responsibilities, a signal of the level of cooperation between the organizations.

Great hire for Apple. Nice to see her hard work getting this exposure.

Terrific article, great overview of Apple’s path into health and the newly rolling out ECG feature.

Washington Post: Being loyal to Apple is getting expensive.

Washington Post:

You can’t put a price on loyalty. Just kidding, it’s $1,000.

And:

For some perspective, we charted out the past few years of prices on a few iconic Apple products. Then we compared them with other brands and some proprietary data about Americans’ phone purchase habits from mobile analytics firm BayStreet Research.

What we learned: Being loyal to Apple is getting expensive. Many Apple product prices are rising faster than inflation — faster, even, than the price of prescription drugs or going to college. Yet when Apple offers cheaper options for its most important product, the iPhone, Americans tend to take the more expensive choice. So while Apple isn’t charging all customers more, it’s definitely extracting more money from frequent upgraders.

And:

Not everything Apple has gone up in price: An entry-level iMac and iPad have gotten cheaper since 2014, though in both cases the company has since added a new higher-end (and higher-price) “Pro” version to its lineup.

This piece is full of interesting data. Be sure to stop and process the graphics. And keep reading. One core point that struck home for me:

Most technology products are commodities that go down in price over time. Apple has worked very hard not to become a commodity.

And that’s it exactly. It’s become harder and harder over time to distinguish all those Windows laptops and Android phones, one from another. Apple continues to pour R&D dollars into ensuring the uniqueness of its products.

If people stop buying into the Apple ecosystem, if Apple Stores stop being so crowded, that’d surely shift Apple’s pricing strategy. As is, seems like Apple has their pricing strategy well tuned.

Microsoft takes on the iPad in their Surface Go holiday ad

[VIDEO] Treacly snarky. Cloyingly awful. Includes the line “Grandma don’t run out and buy an iPad”. I kid you not.

Microsoft, you can do so much better.

And don’t miss that shot, right at the very end, showing Grandma and our star in the Microsoft Store. They are the only customers at that end of the store. This rang true to me. Do you ever see a shot of an open Apple Store that is not crowded?

Video embedded in main Loop post.

How to wake up to a weather forecast on your iPhone’s lock screen

Tim Hardwick, MacRumors:

The feature is part of Apple’s Do Not Disturb at Bedtime mode, which prevents notifications from being displayed on your iPhone’s Lock Screen when you’re supposed to be sleeping.

Many users don’t realize you can get the weather forecast to show on the Lock Screen because of the odd way that Apple has implemented the feature. Regardless, here’s how to get it working.

Coincidentally, I posted this on Twitter this morning:

https://twitter.com/davemark/status/1070673135215763456

As is, getting the current temp on your lock screen is a bit of a one-off. I’d love something like an Apple Watch complication on my lock screen, something I can feed from one of my apps, something I can customize.

Some might argue that with the advent of Face ID, the lock screen is dead. Perhaps, but I would argue for the usefulness of the lock screen as a status page before you move on to the busy, populated Springboard interface. And the lock screen requires no gestures, it is effortless. Just raise to wake.

52 things I learned in 2018

Be warned, this is a rabbit hole of a read, a real time suck. But so, so fascinating.

Proof that iOS still hasn’t gotten undo right

John Gruber, on the iOS App Store story about Procreate Pocket:

The whole story is only seven paragraphs long, and one of them is devoted to explaining how to invoke Undo and Redo. This is — inadvertently on the part of the App Store editorial team — a scathing indictment of the state of iOS’s user interface standards.

Not sure scathing indictment is quite right, but I do get the point. Part of what makes a Mac a Mac is that dogged consistency that has held up over many years of evolution. Command-Q to quit an app, Command-P to print, Command-C and Command-V to copy and paste and, in this instance, Command-Z to undo.

John’s point carries much further than undo. Look at the way iOS gestures have evolved from generation to generation. As we move from a home button to none, from typing a passcode, to Touch ID, and on to Face ID, the bedrock gestures have changed as well. Move from one generation of device to another and the basic interactions have changed.

Part of this is, Apple is still tinkering with some foundational iOS underpinnings. But part of this is also a testament to the genius of the designers who crafted that early Mac interface. Such insight, such vision.

Apple finally selling that iPhone XR clear case, available this Monday

From Apple’s official product page:

Thin, light, and easy to grip — this case lets you enjoy the look of iPhone XR while providing extra protection. It’s also crafted with a blend of optically clear polycarbonate and flexible TPU materials, so the case fits right over the buttons for easy use. On the surface, a scratch-resistant coating has been applied not only to the exterior, but also to the interior. Need to wirelessly charge? Just leave the case on your iPhone and set it on your Qi-certified charger.

Puzzling why it took this long. Available for delivery Monday December 11, for pickup Tuesday December 12.

12 Siri tips you’ll wish you’d used before

Another one of those tip lists where you’ll likely know most of what’s presented. But there’s that one tip that makes the read worthwhile. Take a look.

Tumblr’s anti-porn algorithm is flagging basically everything as NSFW

Gavia Baker-Whitelaw, The Daily Dot:

Tumblr and Twitter are already full of screencaps showing random posts mislabeled as explicit material. In some cases, you can kind of see how the mistake happened (for instance, art with partial but non-sexual nudity, or images that a bot might mistake for a human body), but there’s also a ton of content that appears to have been flagged at random.

Some are G-rated or abstract art, which suggests an immediate problem for the many illustrators who use Tumblr as a portfolio site. Others are everyday photos like this person’s gallery of dinosaur pics.

Just scroll through the article, look at all the examples of innocuous posts labeled NSFW.

Hard to see this as anything other than a self-made disaster for Tumblr. Not too late to reverse course.