Drag around to see what a self driving car sees in real-time

[VIDEO] This is an amazing video (embedded in the main Loop post). Hit play, then click and drag to look around as the Waymo self driving car takes you for a ride. Note that this only seems to work in a desktop browser, not in iOS. If anyone figures out how to get this to work on an iOS device, please ping me and I’ll update the post.

I’d love to have this experience in person.

UPDATE: To run on iOS device, check this tweet.

Apple Watch Series 3 now tracks skiing and snowboarding activity


Starting today, skiers and snowboarders can use Apple Watch Series 3 to track their activities via new updates to apps available in the App Store. Watch users can now record runs, see vertical descent and other stats, and contribute active calorie measurements directly to the Apple Watch Activity app.

I love this. Looking forward to the day when machine learning advances to the point where it is no longer necessary to tap and swipe to tell my Apple Watch what kind of activity I’m doing.

I’ve always felt that if a human can watch me and easily figure out what I’m doing, it’s within the realm of future possibility for an AI to do the same.

Wreck-It Ralph and the Mac

[VIDEO] First things first, I think Wreck-It Ralph is an under-appreciated gem of a movie. Perfectly cast, beautifully animated. And lots and lots of eye candy and Easter eggs.

Yesterday, Disney released the trailer for Wreck-It Ralph 2, AKA Ralph Breaks the Internet. The trailer is embedded in the main Loop post. That little girl doing the screaming sure resembles toddler Moana. But I digress.

In the trailer, can’t miss it, about 21 seconds in, there’s a shot of a computer interface. In many movies, when they show a computer screen, they’ve mocked up some generic OS. Not sure why, but that happens all the time. Not so here. This is a beauty shot of Mac OS 9, AKA System 9, or at least I think it’s System 9.

There’s a color Apple icon. That launcher bar (that what that was?) at the bottom left, and the application menu on the upper right. That enough to pin this down as System 9?

No matter, I am incredibly excited about this movie. Enjoy the trailer.

Why can’t Siri answer flight status questions?

Dan Moren, SixColors:

Here’s a little experiment for you. Bring up the search field on your iPhone and type in a flight number—for example, WW126. Near the top of the results will be an option to bring up flight status. Tap that and you’ll get a nice little map of the flight as well some other info, like destination, duration, and so on.

Now, try asking Siri for the status of the same flight. I’ll wait.

Right. You’ll notice that Siri doesn’t seem to know anything about flight status, and instead goes straight to a web search.

There are two sides to this coin. On the one side, it’s infuriating when something that should clearly work a certain way refuses to work that way. You can see that your iPhone “knows” about flight status, and it seems obvious that Siri should, at the very least, be able to pass through a request to the underlying interface.

On the other side, I’m betting that the reason Siri is unable to do something that seems, on the surface, such a simple task, is missing wiring. Siri remains a constantly evolving work-in-progress. And, it seems, at least on the surface, that the team that enabled the Springboard search feature is not in the same planning groove as the Siri team.

iOS is a complex beast. Siri is a complex beast. The question to me: Is there a designer at the top building a model that feeds both of these teams? Or is it more likely that the flight status search feature was born inside the Springboard search team, never rising high enough in the planning process in a way that fed the Siri team.

I don’t think Siri not being nimble with flight status is a big deal. But I do think it might be a sign of a larger issue.

Selling HomePod

Jean-Louis Gassée, MondayNote, on trying to find a way to sell the Mac in the dark days of 1985, with Steve Jobs recently gone:

Position the Mac as a Graphics Based Business System (GBBS). The Business System part was adman puffery meant to project gravitas, but the reference to graphics made unarguable sense: The Mac’s Graphical User Interface (GUI) was clearly a distinguishing factor at the time.

Everyone in the room loved the idea. Rather than take on the whole market, Apple would define and dominate a niche. As the Valley marketing sage put it (quoting Julius Caesar), better to be the chief of a small village in the Alps than second-in-command in Rome.


Thanks to Jobs’ vision and powers of seduction, a couple of “serious developers”, Adobe and Aldus, helped transform the GBBS air guitar into a reality. Adobe contributed the PostScript software engine for the LaserWriter’s breakthrough typography and graphics. Aldus came up with the PageMaker program that made exemplary use of the Mac + LaserWriter combo. Aldus Chairman Paul Brainerd coined the term Desktop Publishing (DTP), a phrase that replaced the GBBS straw man and remains to this day. The Mac became #1 in the DTP village.

In the rest of this smart, well-written piece, Jean-Louis asks, and attempts to answer the question, “Is there an Alpine hamlet that the HomePod can claim as its own?”

One major difference between the original Mac and HomePod (besides the obvious ones) is that the original Mac had no ecosystem, no huge, dependable, cash-abundant audience on which to draw. With an iPhone/Apple Music-backed ecosystem, Apple has the luxury of a steady stream of HomePod early adopters to keep the cash flowing and feedback coming while the product evolves.

WatchKit is a sweet solution that will only ever give us baby apps

Marco Arment:

Developers weren’t given access to make native apps until the iPhone’s second year. Before the native development kit was ready, Apple tried to pass off web apps as a “sweet solution” for third-party apps, but nobody was fooled.

Apple wasn’t using web apps for their own built-in iPhone apps — they were using native code and frameworks to make real apps. Developers like me did our best with web apps, but they sucked. We simply couldn’t make great apps without access to the real frameworks.


Developing Apple Watch apps is extremely frustrating and limited for one big reason: unlike on iOS, Apple doesn’t give app developers access to the same watchOS frameworks that they use on Apple Watch.

Instead, we’re only allowed to use WatchKit, a baby UI framework that would’ve seemed rudimentary to developers even in the 1990s. But unlike the iPhone’s web apps, WatchKit doesn’t appear to be a stopgap — it seems to be Apple’s long-term solution to third-party app development on the Apple Watch.

And this from Gruber:

I’ve long given up on using any third-party apps on my Apple Watch, and I am so much happier for it. A year or two ago I would have been “Hell yeah”-ing this piece by Arment, but at this point I half feel like Apple should just get rid of third-party WatchOS apps and be done with it.

The one type app I think most people want is the one type of app Apple is never going to allow: custom watch faces. After that, the only thing good with Apple Watch is receiving (and responding to) notifications and fitness tracking.

All of this rings true to me. If you took all third party apps away and left me with notifications, fitness tracking, and complications that let me peer into that data, I might not even notice.

But if you opened the SDK to allow developers to build custom watch faces? I think we’d see some innovation or, at the very least, I’d have something closer to my dream watch.

My current setup is the most complication-rich of the watch faces, one that shows me:

  • day/date
  • current time
  • the next upcoming calendar event
  • outside temperature
  • battery level
  • music

Ideally, I’d love to add the Activities complication to that watch face. But I’d have to get rid of something first. But if someone could build a sliding complication that allowed me to swipe to the side to access additional complications, well I’d be all set.

And that’s just one tiny idea. If Apple opened up WatchKit, gave developers more to work with, I suspect we’d see some really great usable stuff emerge.

M. Night Shyamalan to produce straight-to-series thriller for Apple


M. Night Shyamalan is heading to Apple.

The streaming service has given a straight-to-series order to a psychological thriller series from writer Tony Basgallop that Shyamalan will executive produce. Plot details for the series are being kept under wraps. The half-hour series has received a 10-episode order, with Shyamalan also set to direct the first episode.

To me, M. Night Shyamalan is exasperating. I am a huge fan of The Sixth Sense, and the connected series, Unbreakable, Split, and the upcoming Glass. But interspersed throughout those movies is a series of projects that just left me cold. And there were a lot of them.

Shyamalan’s most recent TV effort was Wayward Pines, well received, but it ultimately ended after two seasons.

Fingers crossed on this one.

Timers, reminders, alarms—oh, my!

Dr. Drang, Leancrew:

I decided to dig into the many ways you can set timed alerts on your Apple devices and how the alert systems vary from device to device. It is, you will not be surprised to learn, a mess.

This is a fascinating read, everything you’d ever want to know about timers, reminders, and alarms, and the way they are shared amongst the varied OSes in the Apple ecosystem.

But to me, this is emblematic of many other ecosystem elements. As you read through this, think about photos, music, your documents, even Siri access.

At the same time, to be fair, realize that we are at HomePodOS version 1.0. Surely the HomePod sharing model will evolve significantly over time.

Elon Musk wants to use satellites to bring broadband to the masses


When Elon Musk’s SpaceX heaved two communications satellites aloft last week, he joined a space race that’s foiled plenty of other dreamers.

Billions of dollars have vanished in the quest to provide internet service from low-earth orbit. Globalstar Inc. and Iridium Communications Inc. crashed into bankruptcy but are still at it, while another effort folded despite backing from Bill Gates, Boeing Co. and others.

But the failure of others has never stopped Musk. Especially where space is concerned.

Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp., Greg Wyler’s OneWeb, Boeing, and Canada’s Telesat are among the companies that have asked the Federal Communications Commission for permission to offer broadband service using satellites.

This is a race. And I believe someone in this pack might ultimately succeed.

And if that does happen, will it lower the cost of internet access? Will it provide broadband everywhere, an alternative to cell carriers? Will cord-cutting become more practical?

How does the FCC feel about all this?

SpaceX’s plan calls for 4,425 satellites but it has also applied for another 7,518. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has given his backing to the proposal, making it likely to win the agency’s clearance to provide broadband via low-earth orbit.


Ring went on Shark Tank, asked for $7 million. No deal. Amazon just bought them for more than $1 billion.

LA Times:

Ring doorbells are already being used by 2 million customers. Its improbable success comes five years after its founder, serial entrepreneur Jamie Siminoff, was rejected on the TV show “Shark Tank.”

Rejected isn’t quite right. He got offers, just none that made sense to him.

But the company proved there was demand for video-enabled doorbells, which enable users to see outside their homes via smartphone or computer. The technology provides a sense of security and a salve for one of the most nagging problems in the e-commerce era: package thieves.

There’s a certain irony there. Seems to me, the biggest victim of package thieves is Amazon, who ponys up a replacement when its packages don’t make it into customer hands.

Ring is also an excellent complement to Amazon Key, the program that allows package delivery services access to your house to leave a package under your lock and key.

One last thought on this. I’ve long thought one critical piece of the Amazon Echo ecosystem (echosystem?) that was missing was an Alexa phone. Amazon’s Fire Phone was a product ahead of its time. It was a commercial failure.

Alexa runs as a second class citizen on iOS and Android. There, but without that frictionless access to the hardware that makes Siri and Google person so easy to summon. I think Alexa is the demand card that Amazon’s phone was missing the first time around. If an Alexa-phone hit the market now, I think it’d be a very different story.

HomePod tricks and tips

Nice collection of HomePod things to know. I especially appreciated the lists of Activities, Moods, and Genres. Good stuff.

Forbes: The feds can now (probably) unlock every iPhone model in existence


Cellebrite, a Petah Tikva, Israel-based vendor that’s become the U.S. government’s company of choice when it comes to unlocking mobile devices, is this month telling customers its engineers currently have the ability to get around the security of devices running iOS 11. That includes the iPhone X, a model that Forbes has learned was successfully raided for data by the Department for Homeland Security back in November 2017, most likely with Cellebrite technology.

As the Forbes article points out, this prose is on the Cellebrite media datasheet:

Devices supported for Advanced Unlocking and Extraction Services include:

Apple iOS devices and operating systems, including iPhone, iPad, iPad mini, iPad Pro and iPod touch, running iOS 5 to iOS 11

Google Android devices, including Samsung Galaxy and Galaxy Note devices; and other popular devices from Alcatel, Google Nexus, HTC, Huawei, LG, Motorola, ZTE, and more.

If true, that Forbes headline seems a fair statement.

Apple is launching medical clinics to deliver the ‘world’s best health care experience’ to its employees

Christina Farr, CNBC:

Apple is launching a group of health clinics called AC Wellness for its own employees and their families this spring, according to several sources familiar with the company’s plans.

The company quietly published a website, acwellness.com, with more details about its initiative and a careers page listing jobs including primary care doctor, exercise coach, and care navigator, as well as a phlebotomist to administer lab tests on-site.


Sources said that it started notifying third-party vendors about the shift to its own network of health clinics this week.


Sources said the company will leverage its medical clinics as a way to test out its growing range of health services and products, which it is starting to roll out to consumers at large.

Will Apple roll out health clinics to serve consumers, rather than just employees? Not clear, but certainly seems a possibility.

Digging through the AC Wellness site, I found a corporate address, which is located adjacent to an Apple Fitness Center. Via Google Maps, here’s a pic of the sign at the AC Wellness address:


Apple plans giant high-end iPhone, lower-priced model

Mark Gurman and Debby Wu, Bloomberg:

Apple Inc. is preparing to release a trio of new smartphones later this year: the largest iPhone ever, an upgraded handset the same size as the current iPhone X and a less expensive model with some of the flagship phone’s key features.


With a screen close to 6.5 inches, Apple’s big new handset will be one of the largest mainstream smartphones on the market. While the body of the phone will be about the same size as the iPhone 8 Plus, the screen will be about an inch larger thanks to the edge-to-edge design used in the iPhone X. (Apple is unlikely to refer to the phone as a phablet, a term popularized by Samsung.)

I remember agonizing over the huge size of the iPhone 6 Plus, worrying about it fitting in my pockets, being too large for my hands. I switched and have never looked back. I no longer think of the Plus form factor as large. To me, it has become the new normal.

The thought of the same footprint, but with a nicer display than my 8 Plus, and more pixels, well that’s irresistible. The obvious hitch will be the price-tag.

A 256GB iPhone X is priced at $1,149. I can only imagine that a 256GB iPhone X Plus will be about $100 more (the difference in price between the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus), or $1,249. How far can Apple push that price ceiling?

The best Beatles cover ever?

[VIDEO] Don’t know if it’s the best Beatles cover ever, but given that this (video in main Loop post) is two people busking in the subway, that’s a helluva performance. Sweet, sweet harmonies.

Samsung Galaxy S9 AR emoji: “a plane crash right into the depths of the Uncanny Valley”

Sam Byford, The Verge:

One of Samsung’s messages with the new Galaxy S9 is that it’s “Built for the Way We Communicate Today.” And while that’s a laudable goal, one of the key features behind that message — AR Emoji — doesn’t feel like it connects with the way anyone communicates now, or will want to in the future. At least I hope not.


from our brief testing, they’re a plane crash right into the depths of the Uncanny Valley. They’re not abstract enough to be cute, yet not realistic enough to be authentic.

Great turn of phrase (Here’s a link to the uncanny valley Wikipedia page). Seems to me I’ve seen this animated emoji concept somewhere before.

Searching on iOS and Mac: It’s all a bit bewildering

Adam Engst, writing for TidBITS:

All too often, I give up trying to tap my way through Settings and instead pull down to reveal the Search field, before remembering that searches in Settings often fail.


It’s worse even than the System Preferences app in macOS, which at least shows all preference panes without the need to scroll. In fact, System Preferences points to the simple way Apple could rearrange the Settings app to make it easier to navigate.

This is a growing… […]

Hulu’s fight against Netflix, Amazon and Apple

John Koblin, New York Times:

[Hulu] lost $920 million in 2017, according to BTIG, which projects that the business will lose $1.67 billion this year. Hulu is also facing more intense competition than ever as its rivals disrupt the entertainment industry by handing out big checks. In recent months, Netflix has signed the producers Shonda Rhimes and Ryan Murphy to nine-figure deals; Amazon has pledged more than $200 million toward a “Lord of the Rings” series; and Apple, a newcomer in the field, is shelling out hundreds of millions to create original programming of its own.

This is a great article, interesting on several fronts. Consider their complex ownership:

The Walt Disney Company (30 percent), 21st Century Fox (30 percent), Comcast (30 percent) and Time Warner (10 percent). If Disney’s pending $52.4 billion acquisition of most of 21st Century Fox wins governmental approval, as is expected, Disney will own 60 percent of Hulu.


The Disney-Fox deal raises the question of what will happen to Hulu, given that Disney is already developing two streaming services. Another potential issue is whether or not two of Hulu’s owners — Disney, which owns ABC, and Comcast, which owns NBC Universal — will be able to play nicely with each other after they become owners with uneven stakes in the platform.

The article also takes you behind the scenes on a series pitch, where Hulu outbid all comers for the rights to produce the upcoming series “The Looming Tower”.

The whole thing is well written and fascinating. Oddly, the article was also posted on CNBC, if you don’t have access to the New York Times.

Apple embraces marriage equality with four “First Dance” ads

[VIDEO] Apple, this past September:

“We support marriage equality and believe all Australians deserve the freedom to marry the person they love, and to have their relationships recognised with the same dignity and legal protections as their neighbours, friends, and family.”

Over the weekend, Apple Australia released four new iPhone X ads (embedded in the main Loop post), all reemphasizing that support. Each video is backed by Australian singer/songwriter Courtney Barnett, who recorded a cover of the INXS classic Never Tear Us Apart specifically for the ads.

Apple security changes will end iTunes Store access for 1st gen Apple TV, Windows XP/Vista


Starting May 25, Apple will introduce security changes that prevent older Windows PCs from using the iTunes Store. If you have Windows XP or Vista PC, your computer is no longer supported by Microsoft, and you’re not able to use the latest version of iTunes.


Also beginning May 25, security changes will prevent Apple TV (1st generation) from using the iTunes Store. This device is an obsolete Apple product and will not be updated to support these security changes.

Not sure which Apple TV model you have? Here’s a helpful guide. Note that the 1st gen Apple TV is silver.

Rene Ritchie, John Gruber and an all-star cast discuss the death of Twitter for Mac

[VIDEO] I absolutely love this video (embedded in the main Loop post). First off, there’s the topic. Twitter is pulling their Mac client, forcing people to either go through their browser or adopt a third party Twitter client. I’ve been thinking about this, but I just can’t wrap my head around their motivation. Is this some kind of end run around Apple? An attempt to reduce maintenance costs (one less platform to support)?

No matter, this is a video of Rene Ritchie, John Gruber, Loren Brichter (part of Apple’s original iPhone dev team, creator of Tweetie for iPhone OS, and original creator of Twitter for the Mac), Twitterrific’s Craig Hockenberry, Twitter for Mac developer Ben Sandofsky, and Tapbot’s Paul Haddad, all in a round robin discussion.

The topic is hot, the panelists are all steeped in the Twitter for Mac story, and the video format gives you the chance to see these people whose names you might have heard or whose tweets you might have encountered.

Wonderful format.

Adjusting EQ: iOS yes. Mac yes. HomePod? No.

The HomePod is self-balancing, algorithmically adjusting its sound for the environment in which it’s placed.

Me? I like the sound. Have not yet felt the need to tweak it. But I do like a challenge. I came across this article from OSXDaily, which walks you through the process of tweaking your EQ for iOS.

I fired up some music, then went to Settings > Music and tapped EQ. There are 23 different canned EQ settings to choose from. The article recommends Late Night to maximize volume on your iPhone. Give that a try if you listen to music out of your iPhone speakers frequently.

Thought I’d try to AirPlay that EQ to HomePod.

With the music still playing, I went to Control Center, tapped the upper-right corner of the music player (bringing up AirPlay), and selected my HomePod. The music played, but when I tapped the various EQ settings, no change.

I went to iTunes on my Mac, launched System Preferences > Sound and tapped my HomePod. Back in iTunes, I tapped the EQ column in the current song (if you don’t see an EQ column, go to View > Show View Options and tap the Equalizer checkbox). No dice. Changing EQ does not impact HomePod.

This is me noodling, not at all a complaint. I love the HomePod sound. The EQ question comes up often enough, I thought I’d dig in, make sure I understood what was going on. Please return to your regularly scheduled programming.

Steve Jobs signed items up for auction

Some fascinating items. At the very least, take a look at the Steve Jobs job application. This is a nice bit of history, a sense of Steve before Apple.

There’s also a signed Mac OS X manual, a signed newspaper article (I believe it is from 2008, likely for the iPhone 3G – In the pic, you can already see Steve has lost weight), and a photo of the original Apple logo signed by Apple founder Ron Wayne.

[Via 9to5Mac]

PowerPod sleeve: wireless charging for your AirPods

Yup, it’s a Kickstarter. And Apple is coming out with a wireless AirPods charging case, possibly shipping sometime soon. But this is a cool idea. It’s a thin sleeve that slides over your existing AirPods case, adding Qi wireless charging. And it’s $20, vs a likely price of $69 for Apple’s still to ship case.

Accidental 911 calls traced to Apple’s Elk Grove phone repair facility

Cathy Locke, Sacramento Bee:

Apple’s iPhone repair and refurbishing center has been identified as the source of apparently inadvertent 911 calls received by Elk Grove police and Sacramento County sheriff’s dispatch centers over the past five months.

Since October, the Elk Grove Police Department’s dispatch center has been receiving about 20 non-subscriber initialized 911 calls per day, said Officer Jason Jimenez, police spokesman. The calls show no service provider for the phone, but the dispatch center has traced them to a cell tower near the Apple campus and determined that they are coming from the phone repair facility, he said.

The calls are coming from inside the house.


Since Jan. 1, Hampton said, the sheriff’s communication center has received 47 uninitialized 911 calls and has been able to document that 30 of those came from the Apple facility.

Testing the iPhone/Apple Watch SOS capability?

People freaked out after robot dogs opened a door. Now they’re resisting humans.

[VIDEO] Alex Horton, Washington Post:

In one of the scariest moments in the movie “Jurassic Park,” a pair of intelligent Velociraptors, brought back to Earth by man’s hubris, defy an assumption about their limitations: They open a kitchen door.

Now imagine that the raptors are real, transformed into headless robot dogs that can negotiate stairs, fling open doors with their robotic claws and generally overcome the puny obstacles offered up by the human technicians at Boston Dynamics.

Normally, I’d ignore or modify the sensational headline of the Post article. But it made me laugh and was (kind of) on point. Last week, we posted this video, showing a dog-like robot opening a door. People really did freak out. A bit.

Well, now there’s a follow-up (embedded in the main Loop post), where a human tries to stop the robot from opening the same door. I fully expected the robot to grab the guy with its claw and drag him to the ground.

Robots are coming. Do not make them mad.

Bloomberg: Apple plans AirPods upgrade

Mark Gurman, Bloomberg:

The model coming as early as this year will let people summon Apple’s Siri digital assistant without physically tapping the headphones by saying “Hey Siri.” The function will work similarly to how a user activates Siri on an iPhone or a HomePod speaker hands-free. The headphones, internally known as B288, will include an upgraded Apple-designed wireless chip for managing Bluetooth connections. The first AirPods include a chip known as the W1, and Apple released the W2 with the Apple Watch last year.

The idea for the water-resistant model is for the headphones to survive splashes of water and rain, the people said. They likely won’t be designed to be submerged in water. The latest iPhones can survive splashes, while the Apple Watch is considered “swim-proof.” Apple’s plans could change or be delayed, the people said. An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment.

Is this enough to make you replace your AirPods with the latest and greatest? What if it came with a wireless charging case that went along with the AirPower wireless charging mat?

These questions aside, what would really drive me to upgrade would be improvements to the audio experience.