Every OS X and macOS release date

This is one of those posts that you file away, bookmark with future reference in mind. Nice job by Rob Griffiths.

Curiosity finds a meteorite on the surface of Mars

Amazing find. Take a look at both the image at the beginning of the post, as well as the zoomed in image towards the middle. The latter gives a better sense of the surface of the meteorite. Very cool.

AI and the path to creating jingles and pop hits

Alex Marshall, writing for the New York Times, pulled together a fascinating piece, a bit of a survey of the current state of artificial intelligence and songwriting.

My 2 cents: All of this music is on the wrong side of the uncanny valley, but it is definitely getting closer. And I do think it will get there. Which is a scary proposition, given how difficult it already is for humans to make a living as musicians.

Apple patent details modular Apple Watch accessories disguised as bracelet links

Mikey Campbell, Apple Insider:

Apple on Tuesday was granted a patent detailing a modular accessories system for Apple Watch that disguises electrical components like batteries, biometric sensors, solar cells and more as links in the wearable’s metal band.

Great concept, though this concept is inherently limited to link-style Apple Watch bands. No way to add accessories to sports, nylon bands, for example.

Qualcomm, Apple, and iPhone margin grab

Some fascinating stuff from Bloomberg and Recode on the rift between the government, Apple, and Qualcomm. Tap through to the main Loop post for the details.

How to set the time ahead on your Apple Watch

There are people (I’m looking at you, my dear wife) who love to set their clocks and watches ahead a few minutes to make sure they won’t be late.

Well, there must be enough of these people, since Apple has baked that capability into the Apple Watch settings. If this appeals to you, or you know someone with that particular bent, read the post for the details.

Game review: Yuri

I have become a big fan of John Voorhees’ game reviews for MacStories. If John points out an iOS game, I’ll inevitably end up loving it.

This one, Yuri, looks like another winner. Thanks, John.

Apple Inc: A pre-mortem

The linked article is a detailed criticism of Apple, and ends with this quote from Phil Schiller, from his appearance on John Gruber’s WWDC Talk Show, back in June of 2015:

We don’t need to be told how great we are, and how big we are. It’s not about that, and we don’t want it to become about that. It’s not about P/Es, and it’s not about market value. I mean, sure, the finance team has to worry about that. But for the rest of us, it’s about: Are we making the best product? Do people love what we do? Is it changing lives? And if it isn’t, then beat us up until it is.

Take some time to read the whole piece. There are some common themes (notably, the way Apple approaches UX and content discovery), and the sense is that the author is truly trying to help spot problems, rather than (as the title suggests), point to Apple’s inevitable doom.

Qualcomm’s official comment on Apple’s $1B lawsuit

On Friday, we reported on Apple’s billion dollar Qualcomm lawsuit.

Qualcomm has since released this official comment:

“While we are still in the process of reviewing the complaint in detail, it is quite clear that Apple’s claims are baseless. Apple has intentionally mischaracterized our agreements and negotiations, as well as the enormity and value of the technology we have invented, contributed and shared with all mobile device makers through our licensing program. Apple has been actively encouraging regulatory attacks on Qualcomm’s business in various jurisdictions around the world, as reflected in the recent KFTC decision and FTC complaint, by misrepresenting facts and withholding information. We welcome the opportunity to have these meritless claims heard in court where we will be entitled to full discovery of Apple’s practices and a robust examination of the merits,” said Don Rosenberg, executive vice president and general counsel, Qualcomm Incorporated.

Fighting through the court of public opinion.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey explains @POTUS account snafu

There was a bit of a snafu on Friday, as people found themselves following both the @POTUS account (the official account of the President of the United States) and the @POTUS44 account (the account specific to the 44th administration).

This would typically not be that big a deal, just unfollow the account you don’t want to follow, but clearly these are not normal times, and this issue rose to the CEO level.

Regardless of how you feel about the story notability, the thread Jack Dorsey started is an interesting read, for the comments on this specific situation and the details on @POTUS transition.

Foxconn considers $7bn US display facility with Apple

Debbie Wu, Nikkei Asian Review:

Key iPhone assembler Hon Hai Precision Industry is mulling a joint investment with Apple topping $7 billion for a highly automated display facility in the U.S., Chairman Terry Gou said Sunday.

Note that Hon Hai Precision Industry, Ltd, trades as Foxconn. They are one and the same.

And:

“Apple is willing to invest in the facility together because they need the [panels] as well,” Gou told reporters after the company’s annual year-end party in the Nankang district of Taipei. The U.S. production site eventually would create 30,000 to 50,000 jobs, the Taiwanese tycoon said.

And:

In addition to the proposed display facility, Gou said Foxconn plans a new molding facility in the U.S., with the state of Pennsylvania a possible site following investment discussions with local officials.

And:

Gou also said Smart Technologies, a Foxconn-controlled interactive display startup based in Canada, may move south of the border now that U.S. President Donald Trump has signaled his intent to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Very interesting. This seems just the beginning of the evolution of Apple’s production process.

The Power Mac G4 Cube

[VIDEO] Stephen Hackett gives a bit of a guided tour through the Mac affectionately known as “The Cube”. I had one of these. Interesting design, innovative use of materials, a sign of the times at Apple. Click the main Loop post for the video.

Grading Tim Cook

Neil Cybart, Above Avalon:

During the last few years of the Steve Jobs era, it was Cook (and Apple SVP Marketing Phil Schiller) who were tasked with coming up with Apple’s corporate strategy. This allowed Steve Jobs to spend time with Jony Ive and focus on the product. Said another way, Tim Cook was the one that allowed Steve to be Steve.

When it came time to relinquish his CEO title, Steve selected Cook as his successor. While the move was met with controversy outside Apple, the selection signaled that Steve didn’t look at the CEO position as something that needed to be held by a product person. Much of that belief likely resulted from the fact that Cook had been handling many of the traditional CEO duties himself as COO for years.

And:

Tim Cook is leading a different type of Apple than that which existed under Steve. Things are done differently, down to how decisions are made and then communicated throughout Apple. This leads to a theory that may seem controversial today but is becoming increasingly clear as time goes on. It is impossible to grade Tim Cook as CEO without grading Cook’s inner circle.

While Cook has at least seventeen VPs and SVPs reporting directly to him, a very high number, there is evidence that many of the key decisions regarding Apple’s strategy are determined by a much smaller group of SVPs. This team likely includes Eddy Cue, Phil Schiller, and Jeff Williams. The three have been at Apple since the 1990s, experiencing Apple at its best and also worst. Eddy Cue joined Apple in 1989.

And:

The removal of Scott Forstall as SVP of iOS back in 2012 takes on a new level of importance when discussing the topic of Tim Cook and his inner circle. It has been reported that Forstall did not get along with other Apple executives. While we have never officially heard Forstall’s side of the story, which is odd, Cook’s desire for a powerful inner circle does support the theory that Forstall was removed in order to position this tight-knit group of Apple SVPs as a type of brain trust. Forstall was clear in his ambitions to one day be CEO. Cue, Schiller, and Williams don’t hold similar ambitions. Instead, ideas are bounced off each other and disagreements are hashed out within this group before being funneled to the rest of the company. Forstall threatened to throw off this dynamic and risk having Cook’s leadership structure collapse.

There’s a lot of insight here. Neil Cybart does an excellent job breaking down the big picture, explaining the complex model that is the Apple executive team.

Whether you agree with the grades at the bottom or not, the post itself is definitely worth making your way through.

How to use your iPhone to translate foreign words to English (no app required)

Steffen Reich, iDownloadBlog:

The tutorial below is going to highlight the difference between the two main subsets of dictionaries (thesaurus vs. actual language to language translation) and scrutinize if your language of choice is one of the few lucky ones Apple decided to support beyond the thesaurus. Following that is a quick demonstration on how to translate the words in question to English. Read on to find out why some dictionaries are simply better than others.

As an example, if you install the French-English dictionary (in addition to your regular dictionaries), you’ll now have a powerful, built-in translation tool.

Well worth the time to read through the tutorial and, if you have the space on your device, install an extra dictionary or two.

Clearing up confusion about Netflix and the TV App

Josh Centers, TidBITS:

AppleInsider caused a bit of a stir when it reported that the TV app for iOS and tvOS now supports playing Netflix content. As you may recall, Netflix hasn’t yet agreed to integrate with the TV app (see “tvOS 10.1 Unifies the Apple TV Experience with “TV” App,” 12 December 2016). However, the AppleInsider report is correct in that you can indeed find and stream Netflix content from the TV app. But TechCrunch’s Matthew Panzarino correctly pointed out that such functionality has been there from the launch of the TV app.

So what’s the deal? Netflix doesn’t work with TV, but it also does work? It’s a bit like the famous Schrödinger’s cat thought experiment, in which a cat in a box is simultaneously alive and dead. But unlike quantum mechanics, there’s a simple answer to this conundrum.

We wrote about this yesterday. Glad Josh was able to clarify. Read his post for the details.

Sticker for your AirPods case

Clever. Though to me, floss is for teeth. No matter, the design is spot on. Note the company name on the sticker itself.

Steven Aquino: Accessibility review of the 13-inch Touch Bar MacBook Pro

Just a taste:

The Touch Bar’s accessibility support is bountiful. There is a lot of functionality built into that little strip, all of which makes using the Touch Bar easier. The one feature that stands out the most is Zoom. Zoom is where the magic happens, and it’s my favorite Touch Bar accessibility feature.

What Touch Bar Zoom (System Prefs → Accessibility → Zoom → Enable Touch Bar Zoom) does is bring up a virtual Touch Bar on the bottom of the screen when you touch anything on the Touch Bar. Slide your finger back and forth, and the Touch Bar (real and virtual) moves accordingly. A circle icon follows your movement that fills in (think: iOS app updates in App Store) when you select an option, but Apple tells me you don’t need to wait for it to fill completely to select an item. In practice, I find Touch Bar Zoom to work great; animation is smooth and there’s no no lag between moving through and selecting options.

Nice job, as always, by Steve Aquino. No one does detail like Apple.

On luck

Great essay on business and luck. Two highlights:

If you have a choice between listening to the best cellist perform the piece or the second best, why would you want to listen to the second best? You might be willing to pay a few cents more only to hear the best, because they’re all good. But, even if you’d be willing to pay a few cents more, the fact that there are millions of copies of these things sold means that the fact that the company that bids successfully for Yo-Yo Ma or whoever is regarded as the best cellist is going to get that market all to himself.

And so the price that you have to pay to get the best recording artist is set accordingly. One earns eight or nine figures a year while the cellist who is almost as good is teaching music lessons to third graders in New Jersey somewhere. It’s a dogfight now to see who gets to be regarded as that best performer. The person who is eventually successful got there by defeating thousands, maybe tens of thousands, of rivals in competitions that started at an early age.

And this, on Bryan Cranston and Breaking Bad:

Vince Gilligan wanted to cast him as Walter White right from the beginning. The studio bosses didn’t want that. It was going to be an expensive production. They were experimenting to see if AMC could carve out a new role for itself in the cable firmament. And so they were going to put a lot of money behind this series and they wanted an A-list dramatic actor. I think at the time Cranston was best known for playing the dad in Malcolm in the Middle, which is a sitcom I never even saw. Apparently he was pretty good in that role, but it wasn’t a leading dramatic role to be sure.

They wanted a more visible, dramatic actor. At the studio bosses insistence Gilligan offered the part of Walter White to John Cusack. Cusack turned it down. They offered it to Matthew Broderick. Broderick also turned it down. I don’t remember which one had the first crack at it. Both of them turned it down. Gilligan went back to the bosses and again pleaded his case. Finally they reluctantly allowed him to cast Cranston as Walter White. And, you know, White was the breakout part of that series. He got four Emmys in the show’s five seasons. He is today one of the very most sought after actors in his age group. But I still wouldn’t have heard of him except that Cusack and Broderick turned the role down first.

Terrific read.

Standalone GPU plugs into MacBook Pro via Thunderbolt

This might seem a mundane, niche product announcement, but take a minute to read this post from Jeff Benjamin:

The 2016 MacBook Pro has endured criticism for its lack of I/O ports, but what that it does have — two or four Thunderbolt 3 ports based on your configuration — have lots of potential. For example, it’s now possible to connect an external GPU (eGPU) box via Thunderbolt 3 and tap into the power offered by a full-sized graphics card.

Imagine a box that offered the power and expandability of a Mac Pro that plugged into a port (or two) on your MacBook Pro.

You’d have the lightness and portability of a laptop and, arriving at your desk, you’d have a large display and the growling power of large, desktop class expansion cards, limited only by the transfer speeds of Thunderbolt 3. And Thunderbolt 3 is no slouch.

Interesting possibilities there.

Apple TV, iPhone, iPad gain ability to play Netflix movies directly in TV app

I tried this out this morning. Brought up the TV app on my iPhone, searched for a show I know is on Netflix. Sure enough, the search revealed two options: Rent the show via iTunes, or open it via Netflix.

This is a solid step forward for Apple, Apple TV, and searchability.

Now if only Amazon would deliver their promised Prime Video Apple TV app. I suspect that ship has sailed.

UPDATE: Check this tweet from Tech Crunch Editor-in-chief Matt Panzarino:

Checked this out – looks like false alarm, this stuff has been in there from launch. No new integrations afaik.

Not sure which is correct. I don’t recall this level of integration with the TV app.

Swift creator Chris Lattner on why he left Apple for Tesla

Joe Rossignol, MacRumors:

Earlier this month, Swift creator Chris Lattner announced he will be stepping down as director of Apple’s Development Tools department to lead Tesla’s Autopilot engineering team as VP of Autopilot Software.

Joe got these two quotes from Chris:

I’ve been writing code for more than 30 years, and 16 of those years have been in the developer tools space. I love it, but I am ready to move on to something else. Autopilot is clearly incredibly important to the world because of its ability to save people’s lives (and increase convenience). It is also a very, very hard technology problem and my experience building large scale software and team building is useful. Of course, I’ve also been a huge Tesla fan for some time.

And:

This was a very difficult decision, because I care deeply about the technology and people at Apple and because I could see myself staying there for many more years. In the end though, the opportunity to dive into a completely new area and work with the amazing Tesla Autopilot team was irresistible.

Class statements, both. Tesla is lucky to have him.

Apple released its next big thing and nobody noticed

I wouldn’t say nobody noticed, but clearly the wave of publicity centers on the AirPods, rather than on the W1 chip. That quibble aside, Matt Weinberger, Business Insider, writes:

The magic happens when you’re using a W1 headset with an iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, or Mac.

First, you turn it on next to your unlocked iPhone or iPad. Second, you click “connect.” Now they’re automatically paired with any other Apple gadget that’s signed in to your iCloud account. Switching from iPhone to Mac and back takes a click.

And:

Apple’s W1 confers other benefits, too. When you’re using it with an Apple gadget, the chip grants tremendous range — with the Beats Solo3, I was able to vacuum my entire small house with my phone charging in the bedroom without losing audio. Better yet, W1 uses some kind of magic optimization technique to greatly extend battery life.

And:

It means Apple has something that no Android phone — or Windows laptop, for that matter — can match. It also opens the door for a world where people are always wearing their headphones, with Apple’s Siri only a tap away.

Apple’s competitor to the omnipresent Alexa is hiding in plain sight — in the iPhones and iPads that more than a billion people own and in the wireless headphones that Apple is so keen to push. In other words, the W1 brings together all the pieces of the Apple puzzle, from Siri to Beats to the iPhone, in a way that hasn’t been done before.

Interesting point. While Alexa is winning the early adopter battle, Apple is planting seeds with the W1 Bluetooth chip for a much longer play. If you buy a device with a W1 chip inside, you’ll see immediate and tangible benefits to switching over to a macOS or iOS device.

Stanford’s Apple Watch seed grant: 1,000 Apple Watches and $10K

Stanford’s Center for Digital Health:

The Stanford Center for Digital Health (CDH) invites applications for its inaugural seed grant program focused on innovative uses of the Apple Watch in healthcare. This seed grant program is designed to stimulate and support creative uses of the Apple Watch to address important issues in healthcare. We are particularly interested in high impact projects that will positively influence the selected study population and/or clinical workflow.

They are giving away $10K in funding and 1,000 Apple Watches. Sadly, the RFP limits applications to faculty and instructors.

Steve Jobs used in two different non-Apple spots

[VIDEO] I find this fascinating. Steve Jobs likeness and voice being used to pitch a non-Apple product. In this case, both spots are for the Obama-created U.S. Digital Service.

Jump to the main Loop post to read about and see both spots.

Great white shark cage breach

[VIDEO] This is both fascinating and terrifying. Is there someone in that underwater cage? Video in main Loop post.

Flying with AirPods

Zac Hall, 9to5Mac:

AirPods are a totally different product than my wireless Bose QC35s which have longer battery life and active noise cancellation not to mention superior audio quality, but AirPods were easily preferred as my travel earphones after real world testing for a few reasons.

Nice detailed overview on pros and cons (mostly pros) of flying with AirPods. I do tend to travel with noise canceling over-the-ear headphones, but Zac makes the AirPods sound like a reasonable alternative, especially if packing space is tight.

Good read.

Apple and Nintendo, forcing the future of taptic feedback

Rene Ritchie, commenting on the September iPhone 7 rollout:

Where before you could press firmly on your iPhone 6s display to trigger 3D Touch and get a reassuring “thump” in response, with iPhone 7 you get a broader, deeper, more sophisticated range of responses.

Some of them are delightfully subtle: Spin through a date or time picker and you can feel a slight “tock” for each number. Thumb across alternate characters on the keyboard and you can feel a little “tick” for each accent.

Then this discussion of Nintendo Switch haptics, from the NeoGaf forums:

The demo that blew my mind was the marble box.

Imagine you are holding a small wooden box, with x amount of marbles inside. As you move the box, you can feel them move and clack against each other.

The Joy-con can emulate this feeling incredibly well, I was able clearly feel three separate marbles rolling down the side of the Joy-con and then each hitting each other as they got to the bottom.

What started as something simple (vibrate mode) has matured into a subtle science with broad applications.

Good post from Rene. Looking forward to seeing this evolve.