Angela Ahrendts has left the building

Juli Clover, MacRumors:

As noted in a regulatory filing from February, Apple’s retail chief Angela Ahrendts is leaving the company today, with April 15 marking her last day at Apple.

And:

Over the weekend, Apple removed Ahrendts’ profile from its Apple Leadership page in preparation for her departure.

End of an era.

Real time Google Translate

This video shows us inching ever closer to the dream of a universal translator:

https://twitter.com/shanselman/status/1113253911723302912

Scroll down through the thread to watch universal audio translations. I would love to see more of this technology coming from Apple.

As is, you can ask Siri to say a phrase in a supported language (for example, Hey Siri, how do you say “where is the closest drug store” in Spanish). And there are third party apps that translate text on the fly. Works well, glad to have it, but I’d love to see more.

UPDATE: As several folks have pointed out, this technology evolved from the original Word Lens, which ran on iOS, but was purchased by Google. I believe accuracy has improved since its original release, and lots of languages have been added as well. And, as I said above, check the other demos in the thread.

Apple Watch fall detection sent emergency services to the aid of an 80-year-old woman

This happened in Germany. From the translated report:

Her watch was equipped with a fall detection system and alerted the emergency services after the fall. A dispatcher in the control center accepted the emergency call. He heard a Watch announcement telling him that a person had fallen heavily. The Watch also transmitted the coordinates of the scene of the accident.

This never stops being cool to me. When I read doom and gloom reports about Apple’s ability to innovate, I see stories like this crop up and think, “Not so fast, curmudgeons!”

I didn’t write this column. I spoke it.

Farhad Manjoo, New York Times:

Here’s what I do: Instead of writing, I speak. When a notable thought strikes me — I could be pacing around my home office, washing dishes, driving or, most often recently, taking long, aimless strolls on desolate suburban Silicon Valley sidewalks — I open RecUp, a cloud-connected voice-recording app on my phone. Because I’m pretty much always wearing wireless headphones with a mic — yes, I’m one of those AirPod people — the app records my voice in high fidelity as I walk, while my phone is snug in my pocket or otherwise out of sight.

And:

Then comes the magical part. Every few days, I load the recordings into Descript, an app that bills itself as a “word processor for audio.” Some of my voice memos are more than an hour long, but Descript quickly (and cheaply) transcribes the text, truncates the silences and renders my speech editable and searchable.

And:

Writing by speaking has quietly revolutionized how I work. It has made my writing more conversational and less precious. More amazingly, it has expanded my canvas: I can now write the way street photographers shoot — out in the world, whenever the muse strikes me (or more likely, when I’m loafing around, procrastinating on some other piece of writing). Most of my recent columns, including large portions of this one, were written this way: first by mouth, not fingers.

Fascinating. I wonder if we’ll someday have the ability to build multimedia presentations in real time, via our AppleAR glasses and the mic in our AirPods. Constantly capturing everything around us, cataloging our snippets on-the-fly.

And, if we do get there, in whose hands will the output of that constant mass surveillance by citizen journalists end up?

Police to use cell radio tech to detect phone-using drivers, but…

BBC News:

The Thames Valley and Hampshire forces are rolling out the technology to show when motorists are using their phones.

But…

A sign will flash at the driver telling them to stop using their mobile – but the detectors cannot tell if it is a driver or passenger using the phone.

I totally get the value in stopping behind the wheel phone use. But not being able to distinguish between a driver and a passenger using their phones will create a lot of false positives which will keep this solution from accomplishing its goal.

Next major macOS version will include standalone Music, Podcasts, and TV apps, Books app gets major redesign

Guilherme Rambo, 9to5Mac:

During the “It’s show time” event in late March, Apple announced that the TV app would be coming to the Mac soon. This naturally sparked discussions about whether Apple would be bringing its other media apps to the Mac, finally splitting up iTunes into distinct applications.

And:

I’ve been able to confirm with sources familiar with the development of the next major version of macOS – likely 10.15 – that the system will include standalone Music, Podcasts, and TV apps, but it will also include a major redesign of the Books app.

Fascinating. Great read, and great find, both from Guilherme and from Steve Troughton-Smith, who first uncovered this.

Apple Maps and the Air Quality Index

With the public release of iOS 12.2, Apple made a subtle change to iOS Apple Maps, adding an Air Quality Index (AQI) in the lower right corner. If you’ve not yet seen it, pull out your iPhone and take a look.

Had some interesting back and forth on Twitter this morning. There’s a lot of confusion about what these AQI numbers mean.

For starters, the AQI numbers in different countries mean different things. To understand the scale in your country, start with the AQI Wikipedia page, which lays out all the possibilities.

In the US, the scale goes from 0 to 500, with 0-50 being good, 51 to 100 being moderate, 101+ scaling from unhealthy to hazardous. Here’s a map showing the range of AQI throughout the US. As you can see, today is good in most of the US, but really bad news for Phoenix, Arizona.

Not all countries show an AQI in Apple Maps. It does show up in the UK, but their scale runs from 1-10. Not clear if Apple will roll out AQI for more countries over time.

If you’ve got an Apple Watch Series 4, you can see the AQI on the Infograph Modular watch face.

Apple is the real winner in Spotify’s battle against songwriters’ rate hike

Variety:

Streaming giant Spotify, after years of attempting to woo the songwriting community, is now at the front of an effort to pay it less.

And:

At issue is the Copyright Royalty Board’s 2018 decision to raise the rate paid to songwriters by 44% over the next five years. Spotify, along with three other streaming services — Amazon, Google and SiriusXM/Pandora — is appealing that decision to the board, a move that has no direct precedent. The four companies have been shellacked with criticism by artists for their action.

And:

As a sign of how badly the PR war is going, many songwriters are canceling Spotify subscriptions and doing so publicly on social media, where they make sure to note their subscription fees will now be going to Apple Music.

Great read. Big PR win for Apple.

Apple drops $99 Data Migration Fee for new Macs and repairs

Adam Engst, TidBITS:

Apple has dropped the $99 fee that it previously charged for migrating data from an old Mac to a newly purchased machine.

And, from Apple:

Beginning April 2, there will be no cost for Data Migrations with the purchase of a new Mac or Data Transfers with a repair.

I wonder what prompted this change. Happy to see this.

Apple to unlock iPhone NFC to read secure data from passports

NFC World:

Apple will expand the iPhone’s NFC chip reading capabilities before the end of 2019 so that it can be used to read data stored in security chips like those used in passports, according to comments made by the UK government.

And:

The iPhone’s NFC functionality is currently restricted so that it is only able to read NDEF data, so the UK government has been unable to make its EU Exit app available to EU citizens with an iPhone.

The app is available currently on Android devices only.

And:

“I’m also pleased to confirm that Apple will make the identity document check app available on their devices by the end of the year,” says Home Secretary Sajid Javid.

NFC tag reading was added to Apple Watch and iOS with the release of iOS 11. This appears to be expanding the type of tags iOS can read so the UK government can use an iOS app to verify identities.

War. And YMCA.

[VIDEO] This is a crazy mashup of Edwin Starr’s War and the Village People’s YMCA (video embedded in main Loop post).

Thing is, it’s incredibly well done. One of those, “I have no idea how this was created” kind of videos. Is all of this audio/video archived? Is some of it recreated?

No matter, I love it.

20 AirPods 2 hacks in 3 minutes

[VIDEO] Have second gen AirPods? This quick stream of tips from Rene Ritchie and Georgia Dow (embedded in the main Loop post) is definitely worth watching.

Lessons learned working at Apple and with Steve Jobs

Guy Kawasaki was an Apple Evangelist back in the day. These are a few of his capsule takeaways from two stints with Steve Jobs and Apple, one from 1983 to 1987, and another from 1995 to 1997.

Terrific, bite-sized read.

14% of Netflix users watching using someone else’s password

Recode:

The streaming service says it has at least 139 million paid subscribers around the world. But there are decent odds that many more people are watching Netflix and letting someone else pay for it.

A new survey from analysts MoffettNathanson finds that 14 percent of US Netflix users admit that they’re watching the service using an account paid for by someone they don’t live with.

If 14% of surveyed users admit to Netflix pirating, chances are good that the true number is much higher.

So why doesn’t Netflix do something about this? From the analyst who did the survey:

On the plus side, he figures Netflix non-payers currently represent some 8 million users who could eventually be persuaded to pay for Triple Frontier and other Netflix content. On the other hand, if those non-payers never end up paying, they end up reducing Netflix’s growth prospects.

I can’t help but compare this to Apple’s approach to services, like Apple Music, with family pricing that gives discounts to encourage sharing. Will Netflix change their plan, lock illicit sharing up if and when Apple makes headway into their market?

Interesting read.

83% of US teens own an iPhone, 86% expect next phone to be an iPhone

Piper Jaffray (via MacRumors):

Apple’s share of smartphone ownership was up slightly in the Piper Jaffray Taking StockWith Teens survey. Of ~8,000 respondents, 83% have an iPhone, the highest percentagewe have seen in our survey. The iPhone may have room to move higher, however, with 86% of teens anticipating their next phone to be an iPhone, tied for the highest ever in our survey.

Remarkably, according to Statista, overall US smartphone usage (not just teens), shows Android 54.2% vs iOS 44.8%.

So are teens the canary in the coal mine here, showing a future iOS adoption wave as teens grow up?

Certainly, the worldwide picture is very different. It’d be interesting to see a similar teen survey broken down by worldwide regions.

‘Stairway’ to History: Inside the Met’s dazzling new exhibit of rock instruments in New York

Rolling Stone:

New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art is home to an overwhelming collection of historical art objects, including a mummy mask from 60 A.D., Greek bronzes from the 8th century B.C. and the original “Washington Crossing the Delaware” painting. Starting April 8th, it will also welcome a different type of antiques — from the guitar Chuck Berry used to record “Johnny B. Goode” to the knives Keith Emerson would stab into his Hammond organ during the crazier Emerson, Lake & Palmer days.

And:

We can now see Eddie Van Halen’s Frankenstein guitar in almost gruesome close-up; with its pickups and modifications resembling open wounds, it looks like guitar surgery gone bad. A small curvy chunk under glass, with a bit of wire protruding from it, turns out to be a piece of the Stratocaster that Jimi Hendrix played — and burned — at the Monterey Pop festival in 1967. A guitar owned by Joe Strummer comes with a set list for a Clash show still taped to its side.

And:

Five and a half years in the making, “Play It Loud” includes contributions from a wide range of sources. Many of the pieces were donated by collectors. Others come from estates: Yoko Ono donated the 12-string Rickenbacker that John Lennon played on tour in 1964 and on the A Hard Day’s Night album, and Jake Clemons contributed the Selmer Mark VI sax his uncle Clarence used on “Thunder Road” and “Jungleland” and onstage with the E Street Band. A closer look reveals a loop welded onto the horn in two different areas so Clemons could hold the sax with a guitar strap.

And so much more. This is a must see for me.

Netflix no longer supports AirPlay because of ‘Technical Limitations’

Juli Clover, MacRumors:

The Netflix app for iPhone and iPad no longer appears to support AirPlay, based on an updated support document found on the Netflix website.

According to Netflix, AirPlay is no longer supported on iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch due to “technical limitations.” There are no details from Netflix on what those technical limitations might be.

As to why, this from Netflix:

“We want to make sure our members have a great Netflix experience on any device they use. With AirPlay support rolling out to third-party devices, there isn’t a way for us to distinguish between devices (what is an Apple TV vs. what isn’t) or certify these experiences. Therefore, we have decided to discontinue Netflix AirPlay support to ensure our standard of quality for viewing is being met. Members can continue to access Netflix on the built-in app across Apple TV and other devices.”

And this, from Netflix’s official support page (the page is titled “How do I use my mobile device to watch Netflix on my TV?”):

Airplay is no longer supported for use with Netflix due to technical limitations.

Hard to suss out the true reasoning behind this decision. Is this really about standard of quality?

If so, seems like Apple’s AirPlay team could work out some sort of whitelist for devices that handle AirPlay and Netflix well enough. After all, if a TV won’t support Netflix well enough, it likely won’t support AirPlay well enough either.

Apple posts two beautiful surfing videos, shot on iPhone XS

[VIDEO] There’s something special about being able to shoot video of the water, from in the water itself. Add in the physics and spiritual nature of surfing, and these two videos really are magical. Both are embedded in the main Loop post.

The second is a “behind the scenes” video, but it stands on its own.

Hands-on with AirPlay 2 and HomeKit on a Vizio SmartCast TV

[Video] Juli Clover, MacRumors:

Vizio yesterday launched a beta version of its updated Smartcast software, which allows iPhone owners who have a Smartcast-enabled TV to use AirPlay 2 and HomeKit integrations for the first time on a third-party television set.

We picked up a compatible Vizio television set (which includes the recent P and M series models at the current time) and were able to take a look at how AirPlay 2 and HomeKit work on a non-Apple device.

Fascinating video (embedded in main Loop post – definitely worth watching). Early days, obviously (This is a beta). But there’s a lot of functionality here. Netflix not working is no surprise. I’ll post about that in a bit.

Apple invents device coatings to better protect future iDevices & Macs from scratches and drop fractures

Patently Apple:

This week the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that relates to new protective coatings being added to Apple devices in the future that will prevent damage to housing structures, transparent members associated with optical component windows and displays, and other device structures.

And:

The protective coatings may include a binder material such as polymer (sometimes referred to as a matrix or polymer matrix) and may include particles embedded within the binder. The particles may have high hardness to enhance the durability of the protective coatings.

Better living through chemistry.

TSMC delivers 5nm SoC design, a huge leap from current 7nm standard

DigiTimes:

TSMC has announced delivery of the complete version of its 5nm design infrastructure within the Open Innovation Platform (OIP). This full release enables 5nm systems-on-chip (SoC) designs in next-generation advanced mobile and high-performance computing (HPC) applications, targeting high-growth 5G and artificial intelligence markets.

To give you a sense of how much of Apple’s current product line is built on the current 7nm process, here’s the opening paragraph from the Apple A12 Bionic Wikipedia page:

The Apple A12 Bionic is a 64-bit ARM-based system on a chip (SoC) designed by Apple Inc. It first appeared in the iPhone XS, XS Max, XR, and 2019 versions of the iPad Air and iPad Mini. It has two high-performance cores which are claimed to be 15% faster and 40% more energy-efficient than the Apple A11 and four high-efficiency cores which are claimed to use 50% less power than the energy-efficient cores in the A11.

Apple’s A12 Bionic chip was built by TSMC using a 7nm process. A move to 5nm means more transistors on each chip. Way more.

Virtual eye dropper to pick up colors from all around you

To get your head around this headline, watch the video embedded in the tweet below:

https://twitter.com/wu_shengzhi/status/1113284624355135489

This is a fantastic proof of concept. Though the prototype was developed for Oculus Rift, I see no reason this couldn’t be done on iPhone, or any AR wearable Apple produces.

Apple reinvents MagSafe for the iPhone, iPad and Macs

Patently Apple:

Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple relating to a smart charging system for a portable electronic device. The smart charging system includes a magnetized connector and a charging component that can be configured to dynamically attract and repel the connector to and from the portable electronic device.

“Dynamically attract and repel”. That’s very interesting.

And, of course, you had me at MagSafe.