Apple plans News event for March 25

John Paczkowski, BuzzFeed:

Apple has settled on a date for its first big product announcement of 2019. Sources tell BuzzFeed News that the company plans to hold a special event on March 25 at the Steve Jobs Theater on its Apple Park campus. Headlining the gathering: that subscription news service that has been all over the news today. Unlikely to make an appearance: next-generation AirPods, or that rumored new iPad Mini.

Well this should be interesting.

Bent iPad Pro replacement story

A story from a Reddit user who brought their bent iPad Pro back to the Apple Store and asked for a replacement.

The story itself is interesting, and a useful guide if you get a bent iPad Pro from Apple and want to get it replaced.

But the comments that follow the story are also worth reading, comments from ex-Apple employees weighing in with their experiences over time, discussing what they were allowed to do for their customers.

The ability of an Apple Store employee to bend the rules to keep their customers happy is, to me, an incredibly important part of the Apple Store culture.

Publishers chafe at Apple’s terms for subscription news service

The Wall Street Journal:

Apple Inc.’s plan to create a subscription service for news is running into resistance from major publishers over the tech giant’s proposed financial terms, according to people familiar with the situation, complicating an initiative that is part of the company’s efforts to offset slowing iPhone sales.

In its pitch to some news organizations, the Cupertino, Calif., company has said it would keep about half of the subscription revenue from the service, the people said. The service, described by industry executives as a “Netflix for news,” would allow users to read an unlimited amount of content from participating publishers for a monthly fee. It is expected to launch later this year as a paid tier of the Apple News app, the people said.

Me being picky, but I hate the tag “Netflix for news”. Movies have a long shelf life. The Netflix model works there. Music has a long shelf life. The Apple Music model works there.

News? The word “new” is right in there. Old news is like stale bread. Netflix works, in large part, because of the huge well of older content. New stuff is what draws you in, perhaps, but the older stuff keeps you engaged.

More from the story:

The New York Times and the Washington Post are among the major outlets that so far haven’t agreed to license their content to the service, in part because of concerns over the proposed terms, which haven’t been previously disclosed, according to the people familiar with the matter.

Part of the problem might be this:

Another concern for some publishers is that they likely wouldn’t get access to subscriber data, including credit-card information and email addresses, the people said. Credit-card information and email addresses are crucial for news organizations that seek to build their own customer databases and market their products to readers.

And this from The Verge’s Apple’s new deal for journalism should send publishers running (note that the URL ends with “LOL”):

Publishers, meanwhile, may need to hire new employees to manage the partnership, build the necessary product integrations, and address customer service issues. At a time when the industry is already laying off hundreds of journalists, asking them to build out their partnership and product teams in exchange for a potential revenue increase in the single digits appears laughable on its face.

I can’t imagine that this deal is going to work, at least not as is. Me? I’m going to keep my subscriptions to the new sources I value. I like sending my money directly to the organizations paying the reporters.

Apple, the $9.6 billion Google paid this year, and Apple Prime

[VIDEO] One of the many Apple stories getting traction over the past few days is an analyst note from Goldman Sachs, which mentions Google’s contribution to Apple’s services revenue numbers, as well as the idea of an Apple Prime bundle.

On Google, they paid Apple $9.6 billion for traffic acquisition costs (TAC), essentially paying for the privilege of being the default search engine on your iPhone.

On Apple Prime, the idea there is that Apple would create an Amazon Prime-like bundle to help bring more subscriber dollars to Apple, instead of Netflix, etc. This would obviously come into play when Apple rolls out their video offering later this year.

The stories out there (including this one), are takes on the Goldman Sachs analyst report. If you’ve got five minutes, watch the video embedded in the main Loop post and get this straight from the horse’s mouth.

EVERYTHING You Need To Know About Working Off An iPad

[VIDEO] This is a terrific video (embedded in the main Loop post). With the title word in all caps, I have to say, that EVERYTHING seems reasonable.

This is a great video to share with anyone new to iPad. There’s a lot here, all very understandable. [H/T Matt Birchler]


Dr. Drang upgraded a work machine to Mojave and shares a few thoughts on the use of transparency scattered throughout the macOS interface, with screenshots to bring the points home. Good read.

Google Maps shows off their version of AR. This coming for Apple Maps?

[VIDEO] The video embedded in the main Loop post shows off a special, limited rollout version of Google Maps with augmented reality baked right in. Unlike some preannounced features intended for the dog and pony circuit, this app is in the hands of a number of VIP Google Maps users and seems likely to eventually make it onto your device.

I can’t imagine Apple is not hard at work on AR for Apple Maps, perhaps tied to Apple Glasses, or as an automotive heads up display.

And in a related thought: Are heads up displays headed for extinction, if and when self-driving vehicles hit the mainstream?

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey pitches interview with Kara Swisher, watch it unfold live this afternoon

This was fascinating to me. It all started with this tweet from Jack Dorsey:

As you read down the tweet replies, you’ll watch this afternoon’s interview take shape, all on this single thread.

The action starts at 230p PT, 530p ET. Follow the hashtag #KaraJack. Jack has promised to answer any and all questions. Bring it, Kara.

Apple taps Frank Casanova to run AR product marketing

Mark Gurman, Bloomberg:

Apple Inc. assigned a longtime iPhone executive as its first head of marketing for augmented reality, demonstrating the importance of the technology to the company’s future.

Frank Casanova moved from leading iPhone marketing for wireless carriers into the new role this month.


The decision by Apple to name its first head of product marketing for AR underscores the technology’s importance to the company’s quest for major new products.

Whether it arrives via special goggles, iPhone apps (see the post on Google’s AR Mapping effort that follows), or even automotive heads up displays, AR is a major wave coming.

Looking forward to seeing Frank on stage at a future Apple Event.

Comment: Apple is taking its in-store iPhone push too far by promoting upgrades instead of repairs

Chance Miller, 9to5Mac:

As anyone who visits an Apple store knows, you’re first greeted by a friendly person with an iPad at the store’s entrance. I told the greeter that I had a Genius Bar appointment for my iPhone XS Max, and she asked for a brief description of my problem.

I explained that my device was randomly shutting down and wouldn’t come back on for several hours. As soon as I finished the explanation, the greeter said, “Have you considered upgrading to a new iPhone recently?”

I was holding my iPhone XS Max in my hand.


A source tells 9to5Mac that this is a new policy at all Apple retail locations. Employees are being instructed to push for an upgrade instead of repairing an existing device. In some stores, the source says, an employee is tasked with pitching iPhone upgrades to Genius Bar customers as they wait for appointments. Other stores have the Geniuses themselves to pitch an upgrade.

This slide into upselling seems new. I’ve always found the Apple Store to be chill, there to help or give me the opportunity to learn about new product. I certainly hope this isn’t the new Apple Store. And I can’t help but wonder if this policy, if it is indeed the new policy, has anything to do with the change at the top.

From this post by Benjamin Mayo:

The Apple Store has never been defined by the hard sell. In fact, it boldly fought against it. Apple retail employees have never earned commission because the goal was to give shoppers the right advice, and match person to product based on need and wants, not which one gives the biggest kickback.

These new initiatives to juice iPhone XS and iPhone XR fly in the face of the principled stance Apple has established in the past. Staff advice is distorted by upper management marketing pressure, rather than monetary incentives, but the result is the same for the customer. The advice is currently biased towards hitting Apple’s targets, not what the person walking in the shop really wants.

Perfectly put. This is not the Apple I know. And love.

How hackers and scammers break into iCloud-locked iPhones


In 2013, Apple introduced a security feature designed to make iPhones less valuable targets to would-be thieves. An iPhone can only be associated to one iCloud account, meaning that, in order to sell it to someone else (or in order for a stolen phone to be used by someone new) that account needs to be removed from the phone altogether. A stolen iPhone which is still attached to the original owner’s iCloud account is worthless for personal use or reselling purposes (unless you strip it for parts).


The iCloud security feature has likely cut down on the number of iPhones that have been stolen, but enterprising criminals have found ways to remove iCloud in order to resell devices. To do this, they phish the phone’s original owners, or scam employees at Apple Stores, which have the ability to override iCloud locks. Thieves, coders, and hackers participate in an underground industry designed to remove a user’s iCloud account from a phone so that they can then be resold.

This is a fascinating deep dive into the sophisticated black market that evolved for the sole purpose of defeating iCloud security locks.

Netflix launches ‘smart downloads’ on iOS

Netflix blog:

Since we launched the Download feature in 2016, one thing has been clear — members love downloading and enjoying Netflix on the go. Whether they are commuting, traveling or just in a place with pricey or spotty internet access, the download feature makes it possible for our members to take their stories with them wherever they go.

Today, we are excited to introduce Smart Downloads. Now, when you finish watching a downloaded episode, Smart Downloads will delete it, and then automatically download the next episode. You watch, we do the work.

This definitely eliminates a pain point with managing offline content. If you have a Netflix account, take the time to read about this.

Apple posts three pre-Grammy Memoji videos

[VIDEO] Apple shared these three Memoji videos (embedded in the main Loop post) as a lead up to the Grammy Awards, starring Florida Georgia Line, Khalid, and Ariana Grande.

The official Grammy winner list

The list of winners (and nominees) is posted in lots of places, but this is the official list, published by the Recording Academy, the people behind the Grammy Awards.

YouTube’s copyright strikes have become a tool for extortion

Shoshana Wodinsky, The Verge:

An anonymous blackmailer has caught at least two YouTube creators in a scheme involving cash ransoms and esoteric copyright laws.

Last week, both creators shared stories of how their channels were being threatened with a third copyright strike — and the possible termination of their channels — from an anonymous extortionist. The scammer offered to reverse the strikes in return for payment to a bitcoin wallet.

It’s a balance issue. Copyright strikes let copyright holders protect their content, but open the doors to this sort of extortion.

Those who are able to appeal the strikes don’t have it much easier. The process, when successful, can take at least a month — and during that time, “you can’t upload at all,” according to Pierce Riola, a voice actor whose YouTube channel been hit by similar extortion scams in the past.

Interesting read. Reminds me of the issue in the iOS App Store, where copycats copy successful apps, down to the pixel, and the original creators are stuck between the hard rock of legally pursuing the copiers, or pressing Apple for a takedown, which can take time, if successful at all.

In the YouTube channel example, should this be YouTube’s responsibility to fix? In the case of the App Store, does Apple have a responsibility to prevent or repair the app copying scourge?

What I learned from the hacker who spied on me

[VIDEO] Joanna Stern got a hacker to try to break into her various webcams. The video is embedded in the main Loop post.

Is putting tape over your webcam justified, or more like putting on a tinfoil hat? I’m in the former camp.

Clearly, keeping up with your various system updates will throw plenty of roadblocks in the way of a hacker, but plenty of people don’t do this.

Apple SVPs

Dr. Drang, from a longer piece on the responsibility shifts between Apple Senior VPs:

To me, Ahrendts’s five years in charge of Retail has been similar to Ive’s time as Chief Design Officer. The Apple Stores look better than ever, but they don’t work as well as they used to. No one I know looks forward to going to an Apple Store, even when it’s for the fun task of buying a new toy. No doubt a lot of this is due to Apple’s success and the mobs of people milling about, but Ahrendts didn’t solve the problem of efficiently handling the increased customer load.

Interesting take. Whether this is Ahrendts doing or a result of Apple’s massive growing pains, I do think there’s something to this.

And do head over to the original article and tap on that tiny asterisk after the phrase “milling about”, for a nice Yogi Berra quote.

Apple tells app developers to disclose or remove screen recording code

Zack Whittaker, TechCrunch:

Apple is telling app developers to remove or properly disclose their use of analytics code that allows them to record how a user interacts with their iPhone apps — or face removal from the app store, TechCrunch can confirm.

In an email, an Apple spokesperson said: “Protecting user privacy is paramount in the Apple ecosystem. Our App Store Review Guidelines require that apps request explicit user consent and provide a clear visual indication when recording, logging, or otherwise making a record of user activity.”

This is all about GlassBox. From their web site:

Imagine if your website or mobile app could see exactly what your customers do in real time, and why they did it? This is no longer a hypothetical question, but a real possibility. This is Glassbox, an innovative customer experience solution to help your organization manage the results of big data analytics. Glassbox is the first Enterprise analytics platform that analyses every digital customer interaction. Can your website afford not to have a brain?

And here’s a link to the TechCrunch article laying all this out.

Future HomePod could feature 3D hand gestures and Face ID

Joe Rossignol, MacRumors:

A recently published Apple patent application suggests that a future HomePod could feature support for 3D hand gestures, Face ID, and much more.


Interestingly, the HomePod could have LEDs woven into the fabric to provide visual feedback for the hand gestures. The LEDs could also be configured to display alphanumeric characters through the fabric that change depending on time of day.


As for Face ID, the patent explains that the HomePod could identify users in the vicinity of the speaker using “facial recognition,” as well as measure the distance of users to the speaker. This could allow for biometric authentication of Personal Requests, multiple user profiles, and more on a future HomePod.

Facial recognition is one of those technologies that has huge potential for misuse, if it falls into the wrong hands. I believe it is vital for Apple to keep its emphasis on privacy. I count on my information to stay MY information. That’s part of my agreement with Apple, and why I am so comfortable exposing so much of my life to Apple.

As to the HomePod, I’m really looking forward to seeing what comes next.

Sprint sues AT&T over its fake 5G branding


After AT&T decided to start rolling out “5G Evolution” branding on phones and networks that use 4G LTE Advanced technology, competitors have had to make decisions on how to respond. While T-Mobile mocked it with a sticker, Verizon (Engadget’s parent company) fired off a letter. So what is Sprint going to do? It has filed a lawsuit in federal court, seeking an injunction to prevent AT&T from using 5GE tags on its devices or advertising.

5GE is enhanced LTE, not 5G. That 5GE branding is consumer-hostile, at the very least.

From the AT&T Mobility Wikipedia page:

In 2017, AT&T began to similarly use the trademark 5G Evolution (5G E) to refer to LTE networks upgraded to support higher data speeds via LTE-Advanced and LTE Advanced Pro features, such as 4×4 MIMO antennas, 256-QAM, and three-way carrier aggregation. AT&T promotes these services as having a theoretical top speed of 400 Mbit/s. The suite is supported on certain high-end Android smartphones offered by the carrier, such as the LG V30 and the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S9, and the iPhone XR and XS. In late 2018, AT&T began to deploy software updates to display a “5G E” network indicator when connected to such a network.

This is a bad look, AT&T. Pull that 5GE from the status bar before your brand takes an even bigger hit.

(Gimme Some of That) Ol’ Atonal Music

[VIDEO] Some references to keep in mind:

  • Schoenberg refers to the influential composer Arnold Schoenberg, who many credit with the birth of atonal, or 12 tone music. A big influence on Frank Zappa.

  • Alban Berg was another influential atonal composer.

  • John Cage, an American composer, best known for his composition 4′33″, which I might title, musicians in a room, not playing, with 4’33” of background noise.

I absolutely love this song, and offer a shout out to my brother, Stu, who taught me all about such things.

With all this in mind, head over to the main Loop post and give a listen.

The rise of the iPhone auteur

The article is about Steven Soderbergh and his continued quest to create mainstream movies shot completely on an iPhone.

Great read, though I think a bit of backstory is missing. Soderbergh was the director of the movie Moneyball and was fired. From the Moneyball Wikipedia page:

On June 19, 2009, days before filming was set to begin, Sony put the picture on hold. Soderbergh’s plan for the film called for elements considered non-traditional for a sports movie, such as interviews with real-life players. Soderbergh was dismissed and ultimately replaced by Bennett Miller. Aaron Sorkin wrote a third version of the screenplay.

That firing started a rift between Soderbergh and the studios, traditional moviemaking. The iPhone brought him back to moviemaking, with the “shot on iPhone” independent release Unsane, shot entirely on an iPhone 7.

Soderbergh’s latest effort, High Flying Bird, was shot entirely on an iPhone 8, and was done for Netflix. I find Soderbergh’s reemergence, in part thanks to the capabilities of the iPhone, fascinating.

Shot on iPhone XR, tweeted by Tim Cook

[VIDEO] Came across this tweet from Tim Cook:

I spent a nice stretch in New York last week, and this video (part of a series) really clicked for me, captured the essence of the city. It also gives you a sense of what you can do with video using the iPhone XR.

The full video is embedded in the main Loop post. Nice work.

Making sense of Angela Ahrendts’ departure and the future of Apple retail

Terrific, thoughtful piece about Angela Ahrendts’ departure and Deirdre O’Brien’s appointment.

One highlight (of many):

Across the U.S., retailers struggle to make ends meet. Since Ahrendts began at Apple in 2014, legendary brands like Sears, Bon-Ton, Toys R Us, RadioShack, and countless others have filed for bankruptcy. Mall operators face the challenge of repurposing massive vacant anchor stores. Yet Apple stores are consistently filled to the brim. The same success that has allowed Apple to thrive amidst a sea of store closures has become a lightning rod for retail woes.

It’s true that making an appointment at an Apple store often means days of waiting for an available slot, and walk-ins are almost impossible. Since 2014, Ahrendts has guided the launch of the Apple Watch, iPad Pro, AirPods, HomePod, and yearly iPhone models. Each of these products have led to growing customer demand even as Apple increases its store footprint globally. This strain on resources would’ve occurred no matter who was at the helm. Simply increasing the number of Apple stores worldwide brings with it a new list of problems long enough to fill another article.

Great read.

Spotify: “The leading global podcast publisher with more shows than any other company”

Spotify, from their Gimlet acquisition press release:

That’s why we announced today the strategic acquisitions of two podcasting companies, Gimlet and Anchor. These companies serve two different, distinct roles in the industry. Gimlet is one of the best content creators in the world, with unique, celebrated podcast shows like Homecoming, which was recently adapted into a critically acclaimed show on Amazon Prime, and the internet culture hit Reply All. And Anchor has completely reimagined the path to audio creation, enabling creation for the next generation of podcasters worldwide — 15 billion hours of content on the platform during Q4.


With the addition of Gimlet and Anchor, Spotify will now become the leading global podcast publisher with more shows than any other company.

I’ve been following the Gimlet Media story since the very beginning of the company. Gimlet’s first podcast was a show called Startup, launched in September 2014, documenting the creation of a brand new company.

The earliest episodes were all about the typical growing pains of a brand new venture: Figuring out your core values, learning how to pitch investors, working through partnership agreements, and settling on a name.

Amazing to watch this story unfold. And, if Spotify’s claim is to be believed, this little venture has helped Spotify become the largest podcast publisher on the planet. This true?

No matter, a fascinating story. You can listen to the Startup Podcast here.

Tim Cook’s email to Apple retail employees announcing the management shakeup

One highlight:

Deirdre was part of the team that planned and launched Apple’s very first online and retail stores. She has been a part of Retail’s exciting expansion and every product launch since. She knows the value of the deep human connections that retail experiences make possible — and she knows this is where Apple shows its heart and soul.

Good letter. Follow the headline link to read the whole thing.