Nintendo Switch unboxing, initial impressions

[VIDEO] If you are into the idea of buying a Nintendo Switch, you’ll want to watch this video, if only to get a sense of the different core accessories that you’ll want to consider, which will add to the $300 price tag. Jump to the main Loop post for the video.

Apple to investigate iPhone 7 that smoked, melted

Mashable:

Brianna Olivas says her rose gold iPhone 7 Plus exploded and began smoking Wednesday morning when her boyfriend grabbed his phone and began recording. The video, which Olivas shared on Twitter later that day, shows smoke pouring out of one side of the phone and the iPhone’s case melting away.

Here’s the tweet, embedded video:

https://twitter.com/briannaolivas_/status/834556234166448128

While the dramatic video may bring to mind the now infamous Samsung Galaxy Note7, which was recalled after handsets began bursting into flames, there is no evidence what Olivas experienced is tied to a wider problem.

And:

Olivas says she has since turned the phone over to Apple. Reps have told her they are conducting tests and expect to know more within a week. For its part, an Apple spokesperson says the company is aware of the video. “We are in touch with the customer and looking into it.”

We need safer battery tech. Lots of smart minds are working full-time on this problem.

Twitter is locking accounts that swear at famous people

The Verge:

Last night, developer Victoria Fierce had some harsh words for Vice President Mike Pence. Incensed over the Trump administration’s recent rollback of transgender protections, Fierce let loose on Pence. “Fuck you,” she tweeted. “I gotta piss, and you’re putting me — an American — in danger of assault by your white supremacist brothers.”

Almost immediately, she got the notification. Twitter had detected “potentially abusive activity” on her account, and put her in temporary timeout as a result. For the next 12 hours, only followers could see her tweets — which meant she wouldn’t be able to lobby the Vice President.

Still chewing on the implications here. Victoria’s account was temporarily firewalled (the range of her tweets was limited), not suspended. Not sure I would use the word locked, as The Verge did in their headline. But that nit aside, this is part of Twitter’s new anti-abuse campaign that started rolling out last week.

For the average recipient of abuse, that’s good news: when a troll quote-tweets you with an insult, you simply won’t see it. But the limits are raising new questions in light of the political speech that is often hosted on Twitter. The average person has an expectation that their account will not receive insulting tweets on a regular basis. But what about, say, the president of the United States?

Interesting question, difficult problem to solve.

How to restore data from iCloud

Michael E. Cohen, TidBITS:

iCloud, however, much like real clouds, is notoriously opaque. It’s hard to see just what you have stored in it. Nonetheless, Apple has made it easy, at least, to fix some truth-related issues in iCloud, and you can do it with a readily accessible tool: a Web browser on any Mac or PC. With it, you can revert to backups of your contacts, calendars, reminders, and shared bookmarks, and even restore files deleted from your iCloud Drive.

If you have an iCloud account, this is worth a walk through, just to get a sense of the available options.

Making your iPhone take dictation

J. D. Biersdorfer, New York Times, points out a variety of ways to do dictation on your iPhone:

Hold down the iPhone’s Home button (or say “Hey Siri” to wake up the software), say “Make a new note,” and then speak your thoughts — reciting the punctuation like “period” or “comma” aloud. The resulting note can be emailed, copied, pasted or shared with a compatible text app.

And:

In Settings, go to General and then to keyboard to find the Dictation option buried at the bottom of the screen. When the setting is enabled, a small microphone appears on the keyboard of text-entering apps like Notes, Google Docs, Microsoft Word for iOS, or Apple’s own Pages word processor.

That setting is off by default. Check it. Good to know where this is.

Of course, you can also use a variety of apps to do dictation. J. D. highlights a few. Good stuff.

Apple fan finds stack of Apple security docs from 1979-80 in goodwill bin, scans/uploads them

Ben Vandermeer:

I was at the Seattle Goodwill outlet recently and noticed the Apple logo on letterhead sticking out from a bin of books, so I started digging. What I found were the 1979-1980 files of Jack MacDonald, manager of system software for the Apple II and /// at the time.

They tell the story of project “SSAFE” or “Software Security from Apples Friends and Enemies.” This was a proposal to bring disk copy protection in-house to sell as a service to outside developers. Inter-office memos, meeting notes and progress reports all give a good idea of what a project life cycle looked like. Different schemes and levels of protection are considered, as well as implementation primarily on the Apple II+ and the upcoming SARA (The Apple ///) and Lisa computers. Randy Wigginton is featured prominently throughout, along with mentions of Woz, distribution lists including “S.Jobs” and many other familiar names.

The documents were all a jumble so I’ve put them in chronological order and scanned the collection.

Pretty interesting collection of documents. Here’s a link to the PDF if you want to browse. You’ll definitely see some famous Apple names in there.

An iOS app that never runs out of memory. Why is this great idea necessary?

Jake Underwood, MacStories, reviewing Moment, an iOS app that takes video, but only keeps either the last 5 or 10 seconds and never runs out of space:

I set my phone up, pressed record, and after a couple of minutes ended the recording. When I opened Photos, the video was there immediately as a clip of the last 5 seconds I recorded.

First, this is a clever idea. It solves a real problem, that of capturing 5 to 10 seconds of video when space on your iPhone is low.

But to me, this raises another issue. Why is this app necessary? Surely Apple understands how frustrating this is. After all, Google built an entire ad campaign around never running out of space when that critical moment comes.

At the very least, why doesn’t the camera app warn you that space is low when it launches? Even better, why not reserve some emergency space and warn the user when they first dip into that reserve. They can still take that critical picture or video, but then they’ll know enough to delete or offload pictures or videos to make more space.

In the short term, we have solutions like Moment.

Here’s a link to Moment in the App Store.

Tim Cook, location, and the image of a corporate HQ

Wendy Lee, San Francisco Chronicle:

Cupertino is so populated by Apple employees that some people have jokingly called it “Appletino.” Later this year, Apple will open a visitor center, cafe and store to the public at Apple Park, which the city estimates could could draw hundreds of thousands of visitors a year.

In addition to the campus, Apple will continue to have engineers at its buildings on Infinite Loop. Chief executive Tim Cook will move his office to Apple Park.

That last bit has been making the rounds. Seems obvious to me. Where else would Tim Cook keep his office?

More from Wendy:

Apple hasn’t revealed the total cost for the project, but Bloomberg estimated in 2013 that it could be near $5 billion. The design will help the company recruit, and also reflects how Apple is always pushing the envelope on technology, said Mina Chow, a senior lecturer at University of Southern California School of Architecture.

“Corporate headquarters are all about making a statement,” she said. “Even when you had the period of emperors and kings, it’s all about making a statement. Architecture is the identity of a culture. We build what we believe we are.”

And that last bit is the most fascinating to me. We build what we believe we are. And this particular “we” is really Steve Jobs, no?

With your iPhone locked, ask Siri, “What’s my name?”

This is a bit of a public service announcement. I came across this tweet yesterday:

https://twitter.com/afronomics_/status/833784254848970756

The poster tells the story of finding someone’s iPhone and discovering that she could see all her information, including her home address, on the lock screen. To read through this yourself, tap the embedded tweet (the link just after “please read”).

Without judging the danger of having your phone number exposed on your lock screen, at the very least, it’s worth knowing if this info is exposed.

So take a moment and use an unregistered finger (so you don’t unlock the phone), press and hold your iPhone’s home button, and ask Siri, “What’s my name?”

If Siri says, “You’ll need to unlock your iPhone first”, cool, you’re all set. Now rinse and repeat for your kids iPhones, see what info is exposed on their locked devices.

To customize what Siri reveals on your iPhone, go to Settings > Touch ID & Passcode, enter your passcode, then scroll to the section labeled ALLOW ACCESS WHEN LOCKED:. To learn what each of the setting do in this section, jump to this Apple support page, then scroll about halfway down the page. You’ll find links for each of these settings that go into more detail.

And realize that someone who has your phone number can pretty easily find your home address. Know your settings, know what info is exposed on your lock screen.

Deep list of top albums from a specific year

Have a favorite year for music? One year that you know better than all others? Perhaps the year when you first really connected with music, the first year that gives you true nostalgia?

With that year in mind, go to rateyourmusic.com and step through that year’s chart of top albums. No matter how well you know the music of your year, I think you’ll be surprised. And I’d wager you’ll find some highly rated albums you’ve never even heard of.

This is an excellent way to discover new music, especially if you are signed up for a service like Apple Music so you can start listening to these new albums immediately.

To get you started, here’s a link to the top albums of the year 2000. To switch to your year, just edit the URL.

The New York Times headline broadside on Apple AirPods

What the hell was the New York Times thinking with this headline:

How to Decide Which Headphones to Buy (Hint: Not Apple’s AirPods)

If you only saw the headline, which is the case for many people, there’s an obvious conclusion: Apple AirPods are not worth considering, not worth even a look.

From the article itself, here’s Wirecutter’s headphone editor (Wirecutter is owned by the NYT) Lauren Dragan:

Ah, the AirPods. The current working term for those kinds of headphones is “true wireless.” Aside from not having a cord to tangle and being decent at taking phone calls, the AirPods didn’t improve much over the corded EarPods. The sound quality is the same (which is to say, meh, with no bass). Plus the battery life is less than a full day at work, so you had better remember to charge them at lunch time. And this for $130 more than a replacement pair of EarPods? I don’t think they’re fully cooked yet.

Ai-yi-yi.

This whole thing smacks of click-bait journalism. The New York Times ran that headline based on an interview with an owned site, without vetting those details. The opinion of the piece is one thing (I disagree with the battery conclusion, and it misses things like range, ease of pairing, and inserts bass bias, which is subjective) but the headline seems handcrafted to create controversy, pull in eyeballs.

Apple reports iOS 10 adoption up to 79%. Android Nougat? Barely 1%.

From Apple’s developer site:

Interesting to compare that pie chart to the official Android adoption pie chart:

That little bitty sliver on the right? That’s Nougat, the most recent version of Android. To get to more than half of that pie chart, you have to include Nougat, Marshmallow and Lollipop. Lollipop was released in 2014.

It’s tough when you don’t control all the hardware.

Every New York Times front page since 1852

[VIDEO] Video on the main Loop post. Best viewed on a large screen. Wish there was a timeline on the screen so you could see the year. But that nit aside, fascinating to watch the paper’s design evolve, very subtly. Amazing how late in the game color made its appearance.

26 Apple TV tips

Another list, this one all Apple TV tips. As usual, you may know most of these, but give a scan. It’s those few you don’t know that make the read worthwhile. Bookmark and pass along.

Autonomous racing cars also crash

The Verge:

The world’s first self-driving robot racing series took a big step toward reality this weekend. For the first time ever, both of Roborace’s prototype autonomous racecars ran against each other on a track.

And:

The two Roborace prototypes — which the company refers to as DevBots — “battled” each other around the same Puerto Madero street circuit in Buenos Aires that hosted the third race of Formula E’s third season. The cars’ Nvidia-powered brains handled 20 autonomous laps across the race weekend, according to Roborace, and topped out at about 115 miles per hour.

115 mph (185 km/h) is pretty slow for race cars, but fast enough to enjoy. At Monza last year (the Italian Grand Prix), the top speed was 225 mph (360 km/h). Once the bugs are all worked out, I expect we’ll see autonomous cars hit those speeds and, since the AI drivers will not have those pesky human flaws, even pass those speeds.

One of the two DevBots successfully dodged a dog who wandered onto the track, while the other eventually smacked the wall in one of the turns — a “racing incident” that was the result of a “pushing the boundaries of AI,” according to Roborace.

Wait. A dog got on the track? Is that real? Yup:

https://twitter.com/roborace/status/833030665608249349

Facebook in talks to live stream one Major League Baseball game per week

Reuters:

Facebook Inc is in talks with Major League Baseball to live stream one game per week during the upcoming season, which could be a key win as the social media platform works to offer more live sports, according to two people familiar with the situation.

Facebook has pushed to sign deals with owners of sports rights to live stream their games, going after an audience that competitor Twitter Inc is also trying to capture, according to sports media consultants.

For social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, live streaming sports is key to attracting people since sports is one of the few types of content that people still watch live.

Streaming live sports is still an experiment searching for a business model. It’s not clear that Twitter made money on last year’s Thursday Night Football stream. No doubt, their engagement numbers went up, but did they sell enough ads at a high enough price to pay the NFL’s asking price?

If Reuter’s story proves true, Facebook will be competing with Major League Baseball’s various subscription services, already in place. Baseball already does streaming very, very well. Tough to see what Facebook adds to the equation.

And then there’s the question of Apple TV. Major League Baseball subscriptions are already on Apple TV. Will a Facebook deal impact game availability? Will there be new blackout dates?

Will Apple pursue live sports in a deeper way than hosting apps? Put another way, will Apple lock down games as exclusive streaming events? They certainly have the cash to make that happen. But as they do, Apple might be waiting for the business model to mature.

Apple quietly bought iCloud.net domain, shuts down eponymous social network

Tech Crunch:

It looks like Apple has finally picked up one of the last remaining pieces of internet property linked to one of its key service brands: the iPhone and Mac giant has quietly taken over ownership of iCloud.net, TechCrunch has learned. Subsequent to that, the small-time Asian social network that existed at the site has informed its users that it will be shutting down by the end of this month.

And:

The icloud.net domain — which is now controlled by Apple — was one of the last major iCloud-based web addresses that was not owned by the company. (Perhaps the last major one? not quite, there is also iCloud.co.uk, owned by Dennis Publishing.)

In 2011, just before officially unveiling its own iCloud storage service (but after there had been leaks about its imminent arrival), Apple acquired iCloud.com from Swedish software company Xcerion, which had launched its own cloud-based storage service under that name in 2007, and in 2011 rebranded it to CloudMe. It was later confirmed in Xcerion’s accounts that Apple paid about 47 million Kroner ($5.2 million) for the domain.

This is like buying houses to assemble a real estate parcel so you can build something large, like a 20 story building. The first purchases are done quietly, without raising awareness of the value of the individual properties. Once the cat is out of the bag, the price goes up. And that last holdout reaps the big reward, the largest price tag.

Though sometimes, the project falls apart and the value plummets, making it better to be second to last.

Overcast 3: Marco’s walk through a huge design update

Marco Arment, on the design remake of Overcast:

Overcast 3 is now available, and it’s a huge update, mostly in the design and flow of the interface. I’ve been working on it since last summer, informed by over two years of testing, usage, and customer feedback.

I designed Overcast 1.0 in 2014 for iOS 7, and it was a product of its time: it used ultra-thin text and lines against stark, sharp-edged, full-screen white sheets and translucent blur panes, with much of the basic functionality behind hidden gestures. That fundamental design carried through every update until today.

Marco clearly went over every inch of this app with an interface updater. The app still feels familiar, but there are a ton of nuanced changes.

If you are a podcast fan, take a few minutes to make your way through this post, learn about the tweaks, bells, and whistles.

Weird Al releases rare Beatles cover as a sneak peek at his late 2017 boxed set

[VIDEO] Weird Al has a career-spanning boxed set in the works, due for release this November. One track in the set is a never-commercially-released Beatles cover (video embedded in the main Loop post). I’m told that Weird Al recorded this in his garage, sent it to Dr. Demento, but Beatles’ lawyers sent him a cease and desist to prevent him from releasing it. Not sure what’s changed.

If you like Weird Al, this is some excellent work. Enjoy.

GoWatchIt tracks Netflix, HBOGo, etc., lets you know when a show or movie you want to watch is available

GoWatchIt tracks all the major sites (Netflix, Amazon video, HBO Go, Hulu, iTunes, etc.), along with DVD, Blu-ray, in theater, and on demand. Add shows you want to watch to your queue and GoWatchIt will email you when your show or movie is available.

As an example, I wanted to watch The King of Comedy (very obscure Martin Scorsese, Robert Di Nero movie), but it never seemed to hit on cable. Just got an email that it is showing on Starz. DVR set. Would have missed this. Thanks, GoWatchIt.

Here’s why Apple isn’t building an Amazon Echo rival

Tim Bajarin, writing for Time:

Despite Amazon’s success, Apple has no apparent interest in copying the Echo. After talking with Apple executives, I’ve come away with the impression that they’re more interested in turning Siri into an omnipresent AI assistant across devices, rather than designing a single device specifically to serve as a Siri machine.

Interesting point. The Amazon Echo exists simply to listen for, and fulfill, Alexa requests. Every other Apple device serves many purposes and also serves the ecosystem. More bang for the buck.

Apple’s new iPad Pro campaign

[VIDEO] These four spots (embedded in the main Loop post) started running on Friday. As Rene Ritchie points out, these spots have that “I’m a Mac” feel to them.

The difference is that there is no character carry, no one who appears in all the ads. The design and tone is what carries from spot to spot.

See what you think.

How to free up space on your Mac by deleting old backups

Did you know that Time Machine stores a backup on your local hard drive if it can’t connect to your laptop’s backup drive? Those backups can consume a fair amount of space (say, 100GB or so) over time.

If you use Time Machine, take a few minutes to read this post from Lory Gil. You’ll learn how to disable and re-enable those locally stored Time Machine backups.

And if you are wondering where on your machine those backups are stored, start here. That article is a few years old but, as far as I know, still accurate.

Samsung chief Lee arrested as South Korean corruption probe deepens

Reuters:

Samsung Group chief Jay Y. Lee was arrested on Friday over his alleged role in a corruption scandal rocking the highest levels of power in South Korea, dealing a fresh blow to the technology giant and standard-bearer for Asia’s fourth-largest economy.

The special prosecutor’s office accuses Lee of bribing a close friend of President Park Geun-hye to gain government favors related to leadership succession at the conglomerate. It said on Friday it will indict him on charges including bribery, embezzlement, hiding assets overseas and perjury.

Samsung’s leadership has failed them. Thanking the stars above Apple has Tim.