April 15, 2019

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.

April 12, 2019

The Dalrymple Report: iPad, The Met’s display of rock instruments, and Netflix

Imagine having your iPad locked for 25 million minutes—it happened! Apple added an Air Quality Index to Apple Maps and The Met has an exhibit of some really cool rock instruments.

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AppleInsider:

Apple’s decision to pull songs from its Apple Music service in China by pro-democracy musicians has come under fire from US lawmakers, suggesting Apple should not be taking part in what amounts to censorship by the Chinese government.

On Tuesday, it was reported Apple had removed a song called “Ren Jian Dao” from Apple Music in China that referenced the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre. A cover of the song, translated as “Path of Man,” was also taken down from Tencent’s QQ Music service, with the takedowns considered an indication the government was cracking down on pro-democracy media.

The move has led to members of the U.S. Congress to criticize Apple for its role in the government-led crackdown.

Apple’s need for Chinese approval lends itself to easy criticism when it does things like this.

SpaceX did it again

So cool watching these boosters land (mostly) simultaneously.

CNBC:

Disney announced Thursday at the company’s investor day that Disney+ will be available starting on November 12 for $6.99 per month or $69 per year. Disney has already confirmed a number of television series and films solely available on Disney+. All films released in 2019 will also be available on Disney+ as soon as their theatrical and home entertainment windows have closed.

This seems like a great deal, especially for those who are fans of Dinsey’s back catalog. I wonder if the price point puts any pressure on Apple TV+?

April 11, 2019

The Verge:

Apple has persuaded 15 more of its suppliers, including Foxconn and TSMC, to manufacture Apple products using 100 percent clean energy. The additions bring the total number of suppliers in the program up to 44. Apple says it now expects to exceed its goal of using four gigawatts of renewable energy in its supply chain by 2020 by an additional gigawatt.

In April last year Apple announced that its facilities now run entirely on renewable energy, and in October the company added that it had achieved the same goal for its retail locations.

“Persuades…”

Katie Bouman’s “How to take a picture of a black hole” TEDTalk

TED:

Scientists used to think that making such an image would require a telescope the size of Earth — until Katie Bouman and a team of astronomers came up with a clever alternative. Bouman explains how we can take a picture of the ultimate dark using the Event Horizon Telescope.

In light of yesterday’s announcement and wonderful photo of Bouman sitting with her MacBook Pro and watching the photo reconstruct live, this TED Talk from 2017 is really interesting.

Pixelmator Photo is a powerful, beautiful, and easy to use photo editor for iPad. It features a collection of nondestructive, desktop-class photo editing tools, a set of stunning, machine learning-enhanced film emulation presets, a magical Repair tool to remove unwanted objects from your photos, support for editing RAW images, and more. Simply put, it’s the best way to edit your photos on iPad.

This is such a great app. If you work with photos on your iPad, you have to check this out.

April 10, 2019

Engadget:

A 1993 prototype of Apple’s W.A.L.T phone, or “Wizzy Active Lifestyle Telephone” can now be seen in a new video from Australian iPhone leaker Sonny Dickson. Apple unveiled the W.A.L.T. phone at 1993’s MacWorld in Boston but it was never sold to the public. The early ancestor of the iPhone looked like a tablet but functioned as both a phone and a fax machine.

The video shows you a fully-functioning W.A.L.T. phone, complete with a touchscreen, a built-in address book, caller-ID and an attached stylus. The device had handwriting recognition, online banking access and even allowed you to customize ringtones.

While cutting edge in 1993, it looks like an abomination today.

Why this black hole photo is such a big deal

VOX:

What it took to collect these 54-million-year-old photons from a supermassive black hole.

“We have seen what we thought was unseeable.”

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.

You’ll likely know some, or even most of these, but worth scanning through the list for those few new ones.

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.

New Apple Watch ad makes me want to buy watchbands

Short, snappy, colorful. This ad hits all the right notes, makes me want to pick up a new band for my Apple Watch.

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.

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.

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.

April 9, 2019

The Dodo:

There’s no wrong way to inspire potential pet owners to adopt their next animal companion, rather than shop. But the more attention-grabbing method of spreading that message, the better.

To promote a recent pet adoption event, the Mumbai, India-based group World For All commissioned a visual campaign aimed at encouraging families to find a place in their lives for a needy animal — and what resulted couldn’t be more brilliant at doing just that.

These are amazing. Every pet I’ve ever had has been a rescue and I encourage everyone looking for a new best friend to check out their local shelters.

The Gadgeteer:

Do you consider yourself an audiophile? If you do, then you are familiar with Etymotic. If you’re not that interested in sound quality over musical content, then Etymotic will probably mean nothing, even though they’ve been around for over 30 years. In fact, Etymotic invented in-ear earphones for hearing testing, only later to be used for music listening.

Although there have been periodic upgrades, the basic technology of their ER4 XR earphones has remained unchanged over all these years. The question is: Do they hold up in the ever-changing world of headphones/earphones?

I’m a long time fan of Etymotics and this review points out a couple of things I haven’t seen before — physical filters that smooth out the frequencies and keep ear wax out of the earphone and cords that detach from the earpiece so, if the cord gets broken, you don’t have to buy a whole new set.

War. And YMCA.

This is a crazy mashup of Edwin Starr’s War and the Village People’s YMCA.

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

Have second gen AirPods? This quick stream of tips from Rene Ritchie and Georgia Dow is definitely worth watching.

You just never want to see this message:

Helpfully, as Glenn Fleishman points out, there’s this article from Josh Centers and TidBITS which lays out various fixes. Key to them all is making sure there’s a backup if you want to actually recover the data on your iOS device.

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.

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.

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.

April 8, 2019

How to save our planet

WWF International:

It’s simple. Sir David Attenborough explains how humans can take charge of our future and save our planet.

Our family has been watching this latest series and, while it definitely has some disturbing scenes, it’s a typically amazing and incredible work by Attenborough.

Ars Technica:

Years into the robocalling frenzy, your phone probably still rings off the hook with “important information about your account,” updates from the “Chinese embassy,” and every bogus sweepstakes offer imaginable. That’s despite promises from the telecom industry and the US government that solutions would be coming. Much like the firehose of spam that made email almost unusable in the late 1990s, robocalls have made people in the US wary of picking up their cell phones and landlines. In fact, email spam offers a useful analogy: a scourge that probably can’t be eliminated but can be effectively managed.

Finding the right tools for that job remains a challenge.

That headline is painful but likely true. It also means my iPhone is much less useful as a phone than it would be if this issue could be solved. I never answer my phone any more from any unknown-to-me callers.

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.

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

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.

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