Hands-on with macOS 10.14 Mojave

[VIDEO] Very nice walkthrough (video embedded in the main Loop post) of the major new macOS Mojave features from Dan, MacRumors.

My favorite? By far, the Finder’s new Gallery view and improvements to QuickLook.

iOS 12 lets Siri control the play of music apps like Spotify

Lucas Matney, TechCrunch:

Music-streaming companies like Spotify will soon be able to let users utilize Siri controls to play music through their apps thanks to Apple’s newly-announced Siri Shortcuts feature in iOS 12.

At a WWDC developer session, the company detailed a new “Play Media” intent it was introducing to developers with Siri Shortcuts that will let users summon audio and video media from third-party apps. The integrations would operate much less seamlessly than controls for Apple Music through Siri, but you would theoretically be able to direct Siri on the iPhone or HomePod to a designated playlist or artist on a service like Spotify, functionality that was previously not possible.

Not clear if this will carry over to allow you to ask HomePod Siri to play a specific Spotify track, but seems likely to me.

Apple accused of copying new Shortcuts logo, hit with $200,000 demand letter

The Sun:

The largely unknown company claims to have issued a cease and desist letter to Apple, asking the company to stop “infringing on our intellectual property” with the Shortcuts logo.

And:

A Shift spokesperson said: “It’s mind-blowing that Apple, the firm with the biggest cash pile in history, the firm that is so design oriented, had to copy our logo.”

First things first, follow the link and look at the two logos side-by-side. Judge for yourself.

I do see a strong resemblance, can’t imagine a universe where someone at Apple copied the logo. Cash grab? Fair demand?

John Gruber’s live Talk Show interview with Apple’s Greg Joswiak and Mike Rockwell

NOTE: This is a new version of the video. The improvements are gorgeous and obvious. Worth watching again.

Greg Joswiak is Apple’s VP for iOS, iPad, and iPhone Product Marketing. Mike Rockwell comes from Dolby Labs and, before that Avid, and worked on ProTools for DigiDesign. Mike made his way over to AR and now runs AR for Apple.

The entire interview (embedded in the main Loop post) is typical Gruber goodness. Fascinating conversation from beginning to end. Enjoy.

AirPods to get Live Listen feature in iOS 12

Steven Aquino, TechCrunch:

Apple has one hardware-specific feature planned that wasn’t announced at Monday’s WWDC keynote. In iOS 12, users will be able to use Live Listen, a special feature previously reserved for hearing aids certified through Apple’s Made for iPhone hearing aid program, with their AirPods.

After enabling the feature in the iPhone’s settings, users will be able to use their phones effectively as a directional mic. This means you can have AirPods in at a noisy restaurant with your iPhone on the table, for example, and the voice of whomever is speaking will be routed to your AirPods.

This is absolutely brilliant, a wonderful feature especially useful for folks with limited hearing.

As Steven notes at the end of his piece:

Still, it’s critical to note AirPods with Live Listen is not a full replacement for a hearing aid. It’s obviously best to speak with your audiologist to determine the best solution for your ears.

This is no replacement for a hearing aid, but a useful tool to have.

Some folks have noted a dark potential, that of using your phone to eavesdrop on a conversation remotely. Just as a webcam uses a light to let you know it is live, I wonder if Apple might light up the iPhone screen in a certain way to let folks know the audio is being shared remotely.

Tech addiction and the paradox of Apple’s “Screen Time” tools

First things first, note the image at the top of the article, captioned “A phone-absorbed attendee at WWDC”. Hey, that poster-child for phone-absorption looks familiar.

But I digress.

Wired:

Apple—like much of Silicon Valley—wants to cure the disease it’s caused. The next version of iOS will be armed with a “comprehensive set of built-in features” to limit distractions and recalibrate priorities on the iPhone.

And:

There’s also a dashboard for usage insights, called Screen Time, which sends a weekly breakdown of how you spend your time on the iPhone. A built-in App Timer can set limits on certain apps, reminding you to move on after 30 minutes or an hour.

So far, so good. But:

Moments later, Apple executives demonstrated Memoji, a new personalized emoji feature that involves staring at the screen and animating a digital character with your facial features. Another demo featured Julz Arney, who works on Apple’s fitness technologies, biking while breathlessly scrolling through productivity apps on her Apple Watch, changing dinner reservations, texting friends, browsing the web, checking notifications about her infant baby, and struggling to close the fitness rings on the watch’s face.

The cognitive dissonance was striking. Apple says it wants you to have a healthier relationship with your phone, and it’ll even give you the tools to do it. But for every feature it showed to wrangle notifications or curb app use, it added more to keep you staring at your screen.

I’m wrestling with this one. I do see the point, that Apple is filling the bucket while emptying it, giving us more things to distract us while giving us tools to manage those distractions. Ultimately, I appreciate both things. I appreciate the tools to set limits, like better Do Not Disturb and Screen Time.

But I also appreciate the new distractions, the ARKit games, the face tracking Memoji, all of it. I see these distractions as part of the fabric of life, the texture that helps keep things interesting. But there are also elements that keep me from doing things that matter to me, that tug the strings of anxiety, seed misunderstanding.

I do think there is an addictive element to tech and social media, and tools like Screen Time and and improved Do Not Disturb are a step in the right direction.

Free trials come to the App Store

From the App Store Review Guidelines:

Non-subscription apps may offer a free time-based trial period before presenting a full unlock option by setting up a Non-Consumable IAP item at Price Tier 0 that follows the naming convention: “14-day Trial.” Prior to the start of the trial, your app must clearly identify its duration, the content or services that will no longer be accessible when the trial ends, and any downstream charges the user would need to pay for full functionality.

And:

Auto-renewing subscription apps may offer a free trial period to customers by providing the relevant information set forth in App Store Connect. Apps that attempt to trick users into purchasing a subscription under false pretenses or engage in bait-and-switch practices will be removed from the App Store and you may be removed from the Apple Developer Program.

Nice to see free trials extend beyond subscriptions (subscription model already had this ability). I believe this applies to both iOS and Mac App Stores.

Tim Cook fires back at Facebook: “We’ve never been in the data business”

Yesterday, we ran a post featuring a New York Times takedown of Facebook and a direct response to the Times piece by Facebook.

From that post:

Facebook has reached data-sharing partnerships with at least 60 device makers — including Apple, Amazon, BlackBerry, Microsoft and Samsung — over the last decade, starting before Facebook apps were widely available on smartphones, company officials said.

In this NPR interview, Tim Cook fires back:

“We’ve never been in the data business,” Apple CEO Tim Cook told NPR on Monday, responding to a report that Facebook struck agreements giving Apple and other device makers access to Facebook users’ personal information.

And:

“The things mentioned in the Times article about relationship statuses and all these kinds of stuff, this is so foreign to us, and not data that we have ever received at all or requested — zero”

And:

“What we did was we integrated the ability to share in the operating system, make it simple to share a photo and that sort of thing,” Cook added. “So it’s a convenience for the user. We weren’t in the data business. We’ve never been in the data business.”

Smart response, as the New York Times article definitely gave the feeling that Apple was somehow in cahoots with Facebook, sharing user data.

Apple Watch watchOS 5, Pride bands, Walkie-Talkie, and a lot more

Apple announced lots of exciting new features for the coming watchOS 5 (available this Fall).

I have to say, I was delighted by Walkie Talkie, the watch to watch communication mechanism. It appeals to the kid in me. Brought back memories of camping out and late night whispered walkie-talkie conversations, as well as road trips where we used walkie-talkies to communicate between cars. If you’ve never experienced walkie-talkies, this is not the same as making a phone call. It’s more instantaneous and, to me, more fun.

I also love the progress Apple made on the Siri watch face:

Using machine learning, the updated Siri watch face on Apple Watch is an even better personal assistant. It now offers more predictive and proactive shortcuts throughout the day based on routines, locations and information such as heart rate after a workout, commute time with Maps at the appropriate time of day or sports scores for a favorite team. The Siri watch face will also show actionable content from favorite third-party apps such as Nike+ Run Club, Glow Baby and Mobike.

The ability to create your own Siri Shortcuts and tie them to a complication on your Apple Watch is no small thing. Not exactly sure how Automator, and then Workflow, fits in to Shortcuts, but I’m guessing this is a rebranding and that Shortcuts is the new name for all of this automation. Please ping me if you know the backstory/details.

As to the Apple Watch Pride band, check out the video embedded in this tweet (tap the tweet to see it):

https://www.twitter.com/Apple/status/1003705953416605696

So much richness in this keynote.

Apple introduces macOS Mojave and an all new Mac App Store

Read all about it in Apple’s official Mojave press release.

The new Mac App Store is a wonderful redesign, a thoughtful follow-on to the completely redesigned iOS App Store.

Mojave Dark Mode really pops, as does the new Dark Mode version of Xcode. All of this design progress, combined with the announcement of a process for quickly porting iOS apps to the Mac expected for developer release at next year’s WWDC, really makes me hopeful for a rebirth of the Mac.

I look forward to Apple getting out in front of the butterfly keyboard issue, and to the official release of a new generation of MacBooks and MacBooks Pro. Oh yeah, and how about some hints on the functional approach and timing of that new Mac Pro.

Apple announces the Apple Design Award winners

Apple:

This year’s award winners include developers from across the globe, including Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, India, Netherlands, Turkey and the US.

Congratulations to all the winners. Make sure you tap those side arrows in each category as to see all the winners.

Apple opens Health Records API to developers

Apple:

Today Apple delivered a Health Records API for developers and researchers to create an ecosystem of apps that use health record data to better manage medications, nutrition plans, diagnosed diseases and more. The Health Records feature allows patients of more than 500 hospitals and clinics to access medical information from various institutions organized into one view on their iPhone. For the first time, consumers will be able to share medical records from multiple hospitals with their favorite trusted apps, helping them improve their overall health.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), Title II, “requires the establishment of national standards for electronic health care transactions and national identifiers for providers, health insurance plans, and employers”. The goal is to make it easy for you to access all your health care records, for you to be in control. As is, it doesn’t feel that way to me. I couldn’t tell you how to access my health care records without contacting my doctor.

To me, this API is an incredibly important step towards that goal. Imagine having your records in your control, always accessible, sharable with any doctor you visit.

Add to that the emergence of a new sector of healthcare apps that help you manage your health care, and help minimize the chance of mistakes with your meds because of, say, a prescription conflict.

Apple’s official photo highlights from yesterday’s keynote

These are Apple’s hand-picked highlight photos. Two stand out for me.

First, there’s Kelsey Peterson showing off her Memoji skills. I think Memoji are well done, capture that certain Apple design something that will sell a lot of iPhone X’s and then help sell the next wave of Face ID-enabled devices.

Second, there’s LEGO’s director of innovation, Martin Sanders, walking through Lego AR City. I thought this was a powerful demonstration of the possibilities of ARKit 2, showing how a real-world product like Lego can be tightly linked to the virtual world of AR, with the potential for product sales on both sides. Buy the Lego set, then buy addons in the virtual world to greatly enhance the experience.

Facebook gave device makers deep access to data on users and friends

New York Times:

As Facebook sought to become the world’s dominant social media service, it struck agreements allowing phone and other device makers access to vast amounts of its users’ personal information.

Facebook has reached data-sharing partnerships with at least 60 device makers — including Apple, Amazon, BlackBerry, Microsoft and Samsung — over the last decade, starting before Facebook apps were widely available on smartphones, company officials said.

And:

Facebook allowed the device companies access to the data of users’ friends without their explicit consent, even after declaring that it would no longer share such information with outsiders. Some device makers could retrieve personal information even from users’ friends who believed they had barred any sharing, The New York Times found.

And in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica furor:

Facebook’s leaders said that the kind of access exploited by Cambridge in 2014 was cut off by the next year, when Facebook prohibited developers from collecting information from users’ friends. But the company officials did not disclose that Facebook had exempted the makers of cellphones, tablets and other hardware from such restrictions.

And:

Some device partners can retrieve Facebook users’ relationship status, religion, political leaning and upcoming events, among other data. Tests by The Times showed that the partners requested and received data in the same way other third parties did.

Read the Times article. Then read this response from Facebook, titled Why We Disagree with The New York Times:

Given that these APIs enabled other companies to recreate the Facebook experience, we controlled them tightly from the get-go. These partners signed agreements that prevented people’s Facebook information from being used for any other purpose than to recreate Facebook-like experiences. Partners could not integrate the user’s Facebook features with their devices without the user’s permission. And our partnership and engineering teams approved the Facebook experiences these companies built. Contrary to claims by the New York Times, friends’ information, like photos, was only accessible on devices when people made a decision to share their information with those friends. We are not aware of any abuse by these companies.

This is very different from the public APIs used by third-party developers, like Aleksandr Kogan. These third-party developers were not allowed to offer versions of Facebook to people and, instead, used the Facebook information people shared with them to build completely new experiences.

This is complicated. And if the Cambridge Analytica story had not happened, we might not even be discussing this.

It all comes down to trust. Do you trust Facebook with your data? If not, can they do anything to earn that trust back?

And one more bit, this Reddit thread (H/T Marlin Clark) asking, Is Facebook listening through your smartphone microphone?

I know this seems crazy, but read the article linked at the top of the post and ask around. There are a lot of examples of people reporting this. I’m skeptical, but there are a lot of these out there.

WWDC 2018: What Apple’s big show means to you

Jason Snell, Tom’s Guide:

You might have heard that Apple is holding a big event soon — its annual Worldwide Developer Conference, or WWDC, in San Jose, Calif. And yes, there will be numerous announcements at a keynote address given on Monday morning (June 4) to open the event. But if you’re not an Apple developer (and you probably aren’t), what does the event mean for you?

First things first, Jason Snell has really made me a regular reader of Tom’s Guide.

That aside, this is interesting, a non-developer’s take on the conference.

Driver looking at Apple Watch found guilty of distracted driving

National Post:

A driver looking at an Apple Watch while stopped at a traffic light is still guilty of breaking Ontario’s distracted driving law, despite the trendy device’s new technology and her claim she was only checking the time.

And:

Victoria Ambrose was stopped at a red light on South Ring Road in Guelph in April when a University of Guelph police officer, beside her in his cruiser, noticed the glow of an electronic device. The officer testified he saw her looking up and down about four times, court heard.

Interesting. I don’t buy the argument that she was only checking the time. That just takes a wrist raise and a glance, no more time than any other watch.

Surprised this doesn’t happen more often.

How to watch today’s WWDC keynote

The tech world’s eyes will be on today’s Apple Worldwide Developers Conference keynote.

The keynote runs from 10a to noon PT (1p to 3p ET).

You can watch it on your Apple TV (launch the Apple Events app) or via Apple’s live stream.

Coincidentally, my 2015 MacBook Pro trackpad died this morning. Hoping against hope for a new Mac announcement today, even a speedbump. Not looking good, as the store is still up, no signs of a refresh.

Bloomberg: Microsoft to acquire GitHub

Bloomberg:

For Microsoft Corp., acquiring GitHub Inc. would be both a return to the company’s earliest roots and a sharp turnaround from where it was a decade ago.

The software maker has agreed to acquire GitHub, the code-repository company popular with many software developers, and could announce the deal as soon as Monday, according to people familiar with the matter.

Interesting that GitHub would choose this route over going public.

Lots of talk over the weekend over concerns with Microsoft having access to all the world’s source code. Doesn’t concern me. I password protect my private archives and trust GitHub to protect my privacy. I’ve got no reason to think that Microsoft will value that privacy any less.

This deal makes a ton of sense to me. I believe Microsoft have some of the most active and largest GitHub repositories on the planet. They know the value of GitHub, they probably have some solid ideas on tweaks to make it more useful for developers, and it makes good revenue as a business. Seems a smart move.

UPDATE: Here’s the official Microsoft announcement [H/T setteBIT].

Under the terms of the agreement, Microsoft will acquire GitHub for $7.5 billion in Microsoft stock. Subject to customary closing conditions and completion of regulatory review, the acquisition is expected to close by the end of the calendar year.

Lightning fast demo of a magic transforming scarf

Jason Kottke:

One of the recurrent topics here at the ol’ dot org is paying our respects to people who are mind-bendingly good at what they do. Case in point: watch this woman turn a magic scarf into about 100 different pieces of clothing in about 90 seconds. Reader, I audibly gasped at ~0:25 when she turned a scarf into a dress in the blink of an eye.

Jason is not wrong. This is hypnotic. The perfect person to sell these. Watch the video, embedded in the main Loop post. Wonderful.

Useful things you can do with 3D Touch

iPhone J.D.:

3D Touch was introduced with the iPhone 6s in September 2015, and also works on the iPhone 7, iPhone 8, and the iPhone X (and the Plus variants of those phones). But even though 3D Touch has been around for many years, I talk to many folks who don’t even know that the feature is there. Frankly, I forget about it sometimes too. But there are tons of really useful things that you can do with 3D Touch. Here are a few of my favorites.

3D Touch is, by its nature, only discoverable if you seek it out. Or if you read articles like this one. Short, and worth the scan.

Bloomberg rolls out their predictions for WWDC

I’m not quoting the Bloomberg article here to avoid spoilers, but follow the headline link if you are interested in a seemingly solid take on what’s coming next week.

Three days until the keynote.

Canon shutters 80-year history of film cameras

The Japan News:

Canon announced Wednesday it would end sales of its EOS-1v, the last remaining model of film camera that the company has sold in Japan. The company’s film cameras, which symbolize Canon’s old-time roots, will come to the end of their 80-year history.

As Robert Walter put it, this is a sign of the times. To me, this is a domino that is connected to other film cameras, then, eventually, to DSLR cameras as smart phone cameras gain in capability, shrink the market for larger/bulkier cameras.

Not sounding a death knell for DSLRs, just watching the market shrink, squeezing out competitors, triggering consolidation until we just have a one or two players left in the DSLR space.

As is, last year 85% of all photos were taken using smartphones, with only 10.3% taken using traditional digital cameras. If that trend continues, watch for the next domino to fall. Will the next generation know the Nikon/Kodak/Leica brands?

Apple Launches global music publishing division, evolves chart strategy

Music Business Worldwide:

Apple has launched a new internal division dedicated to music publishing and music publishers, MBW understands, led by respected exec Elena Segal.

Segal, who was previously Legal Director of iTunes International, is stepping up to become Apple Music’s Global Director of Music Publishing.

And:

MBW hears that the new music publishing team at Apple Music will contain sub-divisions including Operations, Commercial, Publisher Relations and A&R. (The latter refers to assisting the music industry with the development of key songwriters, rather than signing talent directly.)

And from this follow-on post:

A transformation is coming to the way that Apple reports streaming data – both to the industry and to the public via its charts.

And:

The music business has long used Apple’s iTunes download charts as a key barometer of success. Yet it’s fair to say that, in recent years, Spotify’s global and territorial streaming charts have become a more frequent point of reference for labels and artists than Apple Music’s equivalents.

Apple clearly wants to change that.

Interesting. Two sides here: On one side is music publishing. Will this trigger another round of negotiations with Apple Records or does the current deal allow for an Apple music publishing arm?

Will Apple connect their music publishing with their in-the-works video content publishing? Will there be an all-you-can-eat deal, so i can pay one price and get all the music, as well as all the video content?

The other side: The way I read these posts, as well as Apple’s help wanted ad for a Charts & Market Analytics Manager, Apple is modernizing their charts and data sharing, perhaps with an aim of taking on some of the gains Spotify has made in this space.

They took your headphone jack, we brought it back

This is pretty clever, both as a product and as a tagline. The AudioMod Qi enabled Battery Case features a 3.5mm headphone jack and a 3200Mah battery.

Price is $88. I’m going to get one, take it for a spin. Good idea.

Girl saved from forced marriage by Apple’s Find My iPhone app

The Telegraph:

A teenage girl used Apple’s Find My iPhone app to help her secret boyfriend rescue her from a forced marriage thousands of miles away in Bangladesh.

A court heard her parents tricked her into going on a sham holiday from their home in Leeds, West Yorks, as part of a plot to force her to marry her cousin.

And:

Details of her rescue by British authorities emerged at Leeds Crown Court. They were able locate her after she secretly contacted her boyfriend of eight months in the UK before the wedding took place.

The girl, now 19, used the Find My iPhone app and Instagram locations to secretly alert her boyfriend back in the UK, who she hadn’t told her family about.

Find My iPhone is a huge win for Apple customers. Wondering if someone is, as you read this, pitching this story as a blockbuster movie.

Google, the Pentagon, and weaponized AI

New York Times:

The company’s relationship with the Defense Department since it won a share of the contract for the Maven program, which uses artificial intelligence to interpret video images and could be used to improve the targeting of drone strikes, has touched off an existential crisis, according to emails and documents reviewed by The Times as well as interviews with about a dozen current and former Google employees.

And:

Executives at DeepMind, an A.I. pioneer based in London that Google acquired in 2014, have said they are completely opposed to military and surveillance work, and employees at the lab have protested the contract. The acquisition agreement between the two companies said DeepMind technology would never be used for military or surveillance purposes.

About a dozen Google employees have resigned over the issue, which was first reported by Gizmodo. One departing engineer petitioned to rename a conference room after Clara Immerwahr, a German chemist who killed herself in 1915 after protesting the use of science in warfare. And “Do the Right Thing” stickers have appeared in Google’s New York City offices, according to company emails viewed by The Times.

And:

Dr. Li said in the email that the final decision would be made by her boss, Diane Greene, the chief executive of Google Cloud. But Dr. Li thought the company should publicize its share of the Maven contract as “a big win for GCP,” Google Cloud Platform.

This is clearly a contentious, divisive topic. Google is a business, has obligations to shareholders, and is watching competitors like Microsoft and Amazon reap the rewards of lucrative Pentagon contracts. Not an easy thing for a business to say no to.

The internal debate over Maven, viewed by both supporters and opponents as opening the door to much bigger defense contracts, generated a petition signed by about 4,000 employees who demanded “a clear policy stating that neither Google nor its contractors will ever build warfare technology.”

Polarizing.

What changes need to be made to Apple Music?

Reddit thread, with this prompt:

With all the predictions for WWDC, I’ve seen many people say that Apple Music needs to be fixed. Most comments however, never elaborate as to what is actually broken.

As someone who hasn’t really had any problems with the service, I’m curious as to what people think is wrong with it?

Lots of specific suggestions, an ever growing list.