[VIDEO] Tim Cook on his meeting with Trump

[VIDEO] This is a snippet from a longer interview Tim did on Bloomberg’s The David Rubenstein Show. The full interview will be released in June. The video is embedded in the main Loop post.

Apple Music continues its #OneNightOnly campaign with free Shawn Mendes concert

Following up on their Dr. Dre event at the O2 Academy Brixton in London back in March, Apple Music announced a free Shawn Mendes concert for this Thursday evening:

https://twitter.com/AppleMusic/status/996049405294862336

The concert will be hosted by Zane Lowe at the Hollywood Ford Theaters in Los Angeles, with a live Q&A to follow.

California DMV: Apple self-driving fleet now up to 55 vehicles

Serhat Kurt, macReports:

Apple Apple now has 55 vehicles and 83 drivers under its permit to test autonomous vehicles, the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) said in an emailed response to questions.

And:

Apple has the second highest number of self driving cars after GM Cruise,which as 104 vehicles, as of now.

I find it surprising that Apple has more self-driving vehicles than Waymo. From the Waymo Wikipedia page:

In 2018, the company placed separate orders for “thousands” of hybrid-drive Pacifica minivans and 20,000 Jaguar I-Pace electric sedans. The vehicles are intended to help launch ride-hailing services in various cities, enough to accommodate hundreds of thousands of riders each day.

That aside, it is interesting to watch Waymo (owned by Google’s parent company, Alphabet) roll out their vision, while Apple, per tradition, keeps its cards closely held.

Woz on the importance of HP in the creation of Apple

For many years, Woz has maintained a series of email lists to pass along news stories, technology he finds interesting, favorite jokes, things like that. A few days ago, Woz shared a link to a brilliant article about Hewlett Packard and the HP-35 calculator.

Jump to the main Loop post for Woz’s comments on this article (used with permission) and some nuggets about the creation of Apple. […]

A review from early 2008: “The Apple iPhone will only ever be a bit player”

This is just such a fun read, “claim chowder” (to borrow from John Gruber) at its best:

The geeks have all bought one and many have got theirs unlocked. The Nike wearing Soho crowd have splurged the cash. The wannabes and the I-must-have-that crowd have weighed in, swapped networks and got their devices. But that’s it. There’s a ton of people all sitting staring at the iPhone and — SADLY — (this is the bit that’s winding me up), turning their backs and walking away. I could name you 20 people, right now, that I know personally, who WOULD have an iPhone if they were marketed at a more reasonable price — 100 pounds maximum — and were unlocked to work on any network. But those 20 people won’t. They’re staying exactly where they are, back in the old world. Or, actually, back in the real world.

Nokia, Samsung, LG, Sony and HTC (and, er, the Google offering) are safe. The iPhone, on the current trajectory, will only ever be a number 4 or number 5 device.

To be fair, Ewan MacLeod was not alone in that opinion. Steve Jobs saw what no one else could see. He knew. And he made it happen.

And Ewan clearly got on board, as evidenced by this tweet from last week:

https://twitter.com/Ew4n/status/993920014150447106

[Via Eric Jackson via Aaron Block]

Android has it, iOS needs it: Copy two-factor codes from text message

Jacob Kastrenakes, The Verge:

If you use two-factor authentication to secure your accounts, you’re probably used to this process: type in your password, wait for a text messaged code to arrive, memorize the code, and then type it back into the login prompt. It’s a bit of a pain.

Absolutely. Happens a lot. And this describes the process pretty well. Android has a fix:

In the new update, Messages will detect if you’re receiving a two-factor authentication code. When it does, it’ll add an option to the notification to copy the code, saving a step.

This is a step in the right direction. When a two-factor text is received, a copy button appears at the same time. Tap it, then paste it into the prompt.

It’d be nice to see this in iOS. But even better, it’d be nice to avoid the codes in the first place. The purpose of the codes is to prove that you have access to a verifying device. The codes themselves exist purely to give you a way to “move” the verification from the second device back to the original.

But iOS already does such an excellent job communicating between devices. I can copy on my iPhone, paste on my Mac, for example. And if the code is coming in on the same device that made the request, well that’s even easier.

What I’m suggesting is that Apple/Google work to create a verification service that eliminates all the friction. If I request a code on my Mac, popup a verification text message on my iPhone and, worst case, just make me tap “Yep” on an alert to verify the code, or “Nope” to let them know I didn’t make the request.

No reason for me to copy/paste or type in a number. Tap “Yep” and I’m in. Let the verification handshake happen in the background. Any reason this can’t be done?

Apple ad blends everyone from Season 1 of Carpool Karaoke

[VIDEO] At first blush, this ad looks like it was filmed in a super stretch limo. But of course, that’d be logistically impossible. To me, this blending of scenes from each episode of Carpool Karaoke’s first season is seamless and impressive.

Worth watching the ad (embedded in the main Loop post), just to see if you can spot any clues on how this was all pulled together.

Pen and paint New Yorker cover illustrator on moving to iPad

Kif Leswing, Business Insider:

Even if you don’t know who Mark Ulriksen is, you’ve probably seen his work.

His “gracefully awkward” art has graced several magazine covers, including a widely praised New Yorker cover featuring Martin Luther King kneeling with Colin Kaepernick from earlier this year.

Here’s a link to that cover.

Ulriksen is a self professed “technological illiterate”. Fascinating to watch him discover the world of digital brushes, texture, splatter, etc., all courtesy of his new iPad Pro, Apple Pencil, and Procreate.

Google now says controversial AI voice calling system will identify itself to humans

Nick Statt, The Verge:

Following widespread outcry over the ethical dilemmas raised by Google’s new Duplex system, which lets artificial intelligence mimic a human voice to make appointments, Google has clarified in a statement that the experimental system will have “disclosure built-in.”

And:

“We understand and value the discussion around Google Duplex — as we’ve said from the beginning, transparency in the technology is important,” a Google spokesperson told The Verge in a statement this evening. “We are designing this feature with disclosure built-in, and we’ll make sure the system is appropriately identified. What we showed at I/O was an early technology demo, and we look forward to incorporating feedback as we develop this into a product.”

This is good. But as I’ve said before, much better if Google had weighed in with awareness of the ethical issues at the same time as they rolled out their demo.

A thought: Does Google have an ethics office? Or someone whose job it is to spot issues like this? If not, that might be worth exploring.

The problem isn’t Duplex — It’s Google

[VIDEO] Rene Ritchie absolutely nails it with this take (embedded in the main Loop post) on Google Duplex and ethics. If you’ve not yet encountered Rene’s Vector podcast, this is an excellent first taste.

Interesting how on the exact same page we are. Rene’s concerns mirror my own.

Lava knocking down a metal fence, crossing a road, and eating a car

[VIDEO] This is just incredible video, shot this week (embedded in the main Loop post), a perfect example of one of the two main types of lava. This is A’a (ah-ah), which resembles smashed up Oreo cookie embedded in glowing molten rock. The other main type, pahoehoe, is smooth and billowy.

I am fascinated with volcanos, and have made several (stupidly dangerous) trips to walk the Kilauea lava flows in Hawaii. I’m just drawn to it.

Google now lets you delete the search, browsing and viewing history it keeps on you

Ben Lovejoy, 9to5Mac:

To see the data Google stores on your web searches, browsing and YouTube viewing, visit the My Activity page.

You can delete individual items from this timeline by clicking on the three-dot menu top-right. You can also click the Details link in this menu to see additional information, such as other YouTube videos you watched in the same session.

Here’s a link to the My Activity page. Take a look at your options.

This is another wave of impact from the EU’s GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation).

Apple announces joint venture for breakthrough carbon-free aluminum smelting method

Apple:

Aluminum giants Alcoa Corporation and Rio Tinto Aluminum today announced a joint venture to commercialize patented technology that eliminates direct greenhouse gas emissions from the traditional smelting process, a key step in aluminum production. This is a revolutionary advancement in the manufacturing of one of the world’s most widely used metals.

As part of Apple’s commitment to reducing the environmental impact of its products through innovation, the company helped accelerate the development of this technology. And Apple has partnered with both aluminum companies, and the Governments of Canada and Quebec, to collectively invest a combined $144 million to future research and development.

And:

[Apple Engineers] Lynch, Yurko and Sassaman learned that Alcoa had designed a completely new process that replaces that carbon with an advanced conductive material, and instead of carbon dioxide, it releases oxygen. The potential environmental impact was huge, and to help realize it quickly, Alcoa needed a partner.

Apple once again demonstrates its commitment to do what it can to minimize the environmental impact of its products.

[Video] Demo of Google’s new integration of Street View into Maps, called Walking Navigation

[VIDEO] This is the full video (embedded in the main Loop post) of the Google I/O keynote. Lots to watch here, but in particular, jump to 1:25:02 to watch Aparna Chennapragada show off Google’s latest rev of Google Maps Street View.

I love the idea of being able to use my phone inside a building (or a subway station, in this case), to get a sense of the landmarks outside the building, to help give me a sense of the direction I want to go, to help plan my route, to work out which exit to take.

Add to that the concept of VPS, which uses visual cues to help orient Google Maps when GPS is not available or not working well enough at the current location.

[H/T Scott Knaster]

The Senate has forced a vote on net neutrality

The Verge:

Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) and 32 other Democrats have submitted a new discharge petition under the Congressional Review Act, setting the stage for a full congressional vote to restore net neutrality. Because of the unique CRA process, the petition has the power to force a Senate vote on the resolution, which leaders say is expected next week.

Razor thin margin. 50 committed votes. Needs one more. Surprising to see this as even a possibility.

Of course, even if this vote does come to pass, it still has to make it through the House, then face a potential Presidential veto.

Privacy, and a thoughtful plan to improve the outdated Contacts app

Ryan Gray:

Our current Contacts apps are full data we’ve collected about other people. It’s out of date and inaccurate. It has things people wish we didn’t have. Anyone can share the data they’ve collected with anyone else. App developers can easily ask for this information (and most people will give it to them).

This is a backwards system. You should be the owner of your contact information. You should grant access to others deciding who can see what specific pieces of information. Ironically the one company that seems to best share this view is the one people trust the least to handle this kind of data: Facebook.

Ryan brings up an excellent point. As is, my Contacts database is full of outdated information. And I have no way of telling whether that information is still valid. Everything is static, a screenshot of the moment in time when I first received the contact card.

From Ryan’s proposed replacement, which he calls “People”:

Of course, you can easily share one of your cards with anyone nearby (and get theirs). But a shared card is not just sent once. It’s a subscription. If you change your phone number or if you move you’ll be able to push the updates out to anyone who is subscribed. You’ll also be able to block anyone, revoke access, or prevent someone from sharing your card.

The more I think about this the more I love the idea. I’m not sure how easy an implementation this would be, but I do think it’d be doable, at least at a very basic level. But the privacy implications would be tricky to handle properly.

That said, this is an idea I hope gets some traction and, hopefully, a look from within Apple.

[H/T Dan Murrell]

Apple plans to sell video subscriptions through TV app

Bloomberg:

For the first time, Apple plans to begin selling subscriptions to certain video services directly via its TV app, rather than asking users to subscribe to them through apps individually downloaded from the App Store, according to people familiar with the matter.

And:

Right now, the TV app aggregates content from other providers, allowing people to locate shows from a wide array of apps and channels like ABC, NBA League Pass and HBO, rather than having to hop between different apps. But then Apple sends customers outside its app to buy access to those channels or watch shows. With the pending change, subscription purchasing would move to the TV app. Apple could eventually move the streaming to its own app, instead of sending users to third parties.

Is this an indicator of Apple’s plans for packaging their own custom content? Will everything sit under the TV app? If so, will Apple build a TV app equivalent for macOS? Will subscriptions be manageable from the web?

Apple says inventory of all iPhone replacement batteries now available without delay

Joe Rossignol, MacRumors:

Apple has confirmed that “service inventory of all iPhone replacement batteries is now available without delay,” in an internal memo distributed to Apple Stores and its network of Apple Authorized Service Providers on April 27. The document was obtained by MacRumors from a reliable source.

What this means is that Apple Stores and Apple Authorized Service Providers can now order iPhone replacement batteries from Apple and receive them without facing extended shipping delays, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that every Apple Store or authorized repair shop will have supply available right away.

This whole thing was a mess. Glad to see availability moving along.

Apple, HyperCard, and a glimpse of how far we’ve come

Check out the video in this tweet, a small piece of a larger project covering HyperCard:

https://twitter.com/itstheshadsy/status/993885366217330689

At the time, back in 1990, this was absolutely groundbreaking. Since the internet was still in its infancy, images and data for a project were always stored locally. And images were massive, compared to the relatively tiny hard drives of the time.

The solution? Video discs and computer controlled video disc players. Back then, paper maps were filmed on incredibly precise animation stands (like those used for special effects camera fly-throughs), then cut into frames and stored on video disc. The computer moved along the maps by stepping through frames, each one a picture of a portion of a map at a slight offset from the previous frame.

In this example, the HyperCard stack presents a picture of the heart, and clicking on various buttons or hot points tells the video disc player to jump to an appropriate image or video.

How far we’ve come. Now, all those image can be stored locally, or brought up as needed from the cloud. And using cloud-shared resources means content can be updated as needed.

Fascinating look back. HyperCard was a truly groundbreaking piece of work by Bill Atkinson, one of the members of the original Macintosh team. If you are not familiar with Bill, take a look at his Wikipedia page. We owe him a lot.

Apple confirms use of drones to improve Apple Maps, says privacy remains a priority

Chance Miller, 9to5Mac:

A report in 2016 indicated that Apple was planning to use [drones] to collect data for Apple Maps, and now the company has confirmed that initiative. The company says, however, that its stance on privacy will remain the same throughout its use of drones.

I believe the report in question was this piece from Mark Gurman for Bloomberg.

Apple, to Reuters:

“Apple is committed to protecting people’s privacy, including processing this data to blur faces and license plates prior to publication,” the company said.

Think about the statement, XXX announces plan to use drones. Now plug in Apple, Google, Amazon, and Facebook. To me, different take for each company. Google’s drones would likely perform the best. Apple’s would look the best. But which would go to the greatest length to protect my privacy?

Watch Google Assistant make a phone call to schedule an appointment. Stunning.

Google AI blog:

Today we announce Google Duplex, a new technology for conducting natural conversations to carry out “real world” tasks over the phone. The technology is directed towards completing specific tasks, such as scheduling certain types of appointments. For such tasks, the system makes the conversational experience as natural as possible, allowing people to speak normally, like they would to another person, without having to adapt to a machine.

You can jump to that page and click on examples of Google Assistant using Google Duplex to make phone calls, interact with real-world people.

But the best thing to do is jump to this Verge page and watch the video of Google CEO Sundar Pichai actually running those demos. It’s incredible.

I’ve encountered two waves of thinking about this. On one hand, there’s the thinking that robots are coming for our jobs, that this technology will displace human assistants, human call centers, and that we’ll have an even larger wave of junk calls to deal with.

But on the positive side, consider this tweet:

https://twitter.com/SteveStreza/status/993950092309676032

Well worth considering the good that can come from this technology.

Also worth noting that it is 26 days until WWDC.

Google adds AR object identification to its Camera app

[VIDEO] Watch the video (embedded in the main Loop post) to get a sense of Google’s state-of-the-union in terms of augmented reality and object identification. The big move Google made is promoting this technology to the Camera app, giving up precious screen real estate to a Google Lens button.

Augmented reality is one area where Apple has held its own, perhaps even moved ahead of Google in some ways. But this exposure of the Google Lens platform at the highest level is a strategic move by Google.

26 days until WWDC.

iOS 11.4 adds USB Restricted Mode, port becomes power-only after 7 days without login

ElcomSoft blog:

In the iOS 11.4 Beta, Apple introduced a new called USB Restricted Mode. In fact, the feature made its first appearance in the iOS 11.3 Beta, but was later removed from the final release. This is how it works:

“To improve security, for a locked iOS device to communicate with USB accessories you must connect an accessory via lightning connector to the device while unlocked – or enter your device passcode while connected – at least once a week.”

And:

In other words, law enforcement will have at most 7 days from the time the device was last unlocked to perform the extraction using any known forensic techniques, be it logical acquisition or passcode recovery via GreyKey or other services.

It will be interesting to see if this mode survives through to the actual public release of 11.4. A chess move. Will the GreyKey folks have a follow-up? Or will all those $30K GreyKey devices become useless against updated phones?

Microsoft drops their cut of developer app revenue from 30% to as low as 5%

Microsoft developer blog:

Starting later this year, consumer applications (not including games) sold in Microsoft Store will deliver to developers 95% of the revenue earned from the purchase of your application or any in-app products in your application, when a customer uses a deep link to get to and purchase your application.

That’s a huge drop from the 70/30 split they had up to this point.

When Microsoft delivers you a customer through any other method, such as in a collection on Microsoft Store or any other owned Microsoft properties, and purchases your application, you will receive 85% of the revenue earned from the purchase of your application or any in-app products in your application

Note that this structure does not include games, which stick to the 70/30 split.

Does this apply any pressure to Apple to make a similar move? Windows is not quite a direct competitor to iOS, but the Windows market is massive.

Regardless, I like this move. Anything that helps improve the lot of the indie developer.

One thing Apple can do to one-up this move that would be even better for indie devs? Create a free tier, where up to, say the first $1,000 in sales goes 100% to the developer. Just a thought.

Apple’s ‘Barbers’ iPhone 7 Plus ad wins ADC Best of Show award

[VIDEO] Juli Clover, MacRumors:

At the 97th annual ADC Awards, which honors the best work in design, advertising, motion, and other commercial creative arts, Apple’s “Barbers” ad for the iPhone 7 Plus won a Best of Show award.

And:

“Barbers” was awarded a 2018 Motion and Film Craft Gold Cube, a Black Cube for Best of Show, and a 2018 Advertising Merit Award. Furlined, the agency that produced the spot, also won Production Company of the Year.

From the first wave of Portrait Mode ads, back in May 2017. Terrific ad. Embedded in main Loop post.

How to tune a guitar

If you’ve never played the guitar, this is a fun way to learn a bit about tuning. And if you play the guitar, make your way down the page and try your hand at tuning by ear.

Nice implementation.