June 24, 2016

“It was just one dumb decision after another,” Michelle Hammontree, communications director for Pinecrest said.

You’ve got to love stupid criminals.

June 23, 2016

Apple discontinues Thunderbolt Display

Apple on Thursday told The Loop that it is discontinuing the Thunderbolt Display.

“We’re discontinuing the Apple Thunderbolt Display, said an Apple spokesperson. “It will be available through Apple.com, Apple’s retail stores and Apple Authorized Resellers while supplies last. There are a number of great third-party options available for Mac users.”

Judging from the last part of the statement, it doesn’t seem likely that Apple will replace the display in the near future.

Priceonomics:

Michelin’s food critics, known as “inspectors” by the company, only awarded a top ranking of three Michelin Stars to around 100 restaurants in 2016. Restaurants that receive a Michelin Star for the first time can expect a flood of food tourists; losing a Michelin Star devastates restaurateurs. Gordon Ramsay, the celebrity chef who makes young chefs weep on his show Hell’s Kitchen, cried when he lost two Michelin Stars in 2013.

Which is a bit weird, because Michelin is a tire company whose annual reports highlight the cost of rubber and growth in the passenger car market.

Michelin began publishing its “Red Guide” in 1900, when both cars and food tourism were novel luxuries. Its creators hoped that a guidebook offering information about hotels, restaurants, and roadways would lead people to drive more—and buy more Michelin tires.

Obviously, there are several examples from the beginning of the Age of the Car of how automobile travel created entire industries. The Michelin Guide may be the one that has gone the furthest past its original intent to something more popular than the original tire company could have ever imagined.

Mashable:

I traveled to the Persian Gulf earlier this year to visit that carrier, the USS Harry S. Truman. I wanted to see what life on this carrier actually looked like while at war. The pilots flying combat missions for weeks at a time — they must feel like they are at war. But do the other personnel on the ship? Would I?

And of course, I wanted to see for myself what life was like on an aircraft carrier. Would it be like the movies? Would I feel like a little boy again? Though I spent only two days onboard the Truman, and oftentimes, at least on the flight deck, it did look just like Top Gun. Steam and chaos in incomprehensible orchestration. And the pilots — just like in Top Gun — wearing their flight suits everywhere, walking around like they own the place.

When I was a little kid, I got the chance to go on an American aircraft carrier outside of Halifax’s harbour (it was too big to dock). I’ve always wanted to go back onboard as an adult.

On Thursday, after a week’s worth of testimony and arguments, the jury came back with its verdict in a case that’s been decades in the making. At trial, Led Zeppelin members Jimmy Page and Robert Plant testified as well as Michael Skidmore, the Trustee of Spirit songwriter Randy Wolfe’s estate, who demanded in his lawsuit a rewriting of rock ‘n’ roll history. The jury also heard from a Spirit bandmember, musicologists and other witnesses and experts opining on such subjects as whether Led Zeppelin had heard “Taurus” before composing their popular song and whether the two songs were substantially similar.

We are delighted to announce that Stephen Friend has transitioned from his role as President of Sage Bionetworks to Chairman of the Board, and the promotion of Lara Mangravite to President. As chairman of the Board, Dr. Friend will continue to work with Sage at a strategic level while stepping away from responsibility for day to day operations. Dr. Friend has accepted a position with Apple Inc. where he will work on health related projects.

Awesome.

In the coming month, you’ll see a translation button on feed stories and profile bios written in languages different from your own. The Instagram community has grown faster and become more global than we ever imagined. And we’re excited that you’ll soon be able to understand the full story of a moment, no matter what language you speak.

Sounds like a great feature.

I’ve always loved Charvel.

Mikah Sargent, writing for iMore, with a heart-sickening tale:

On the night of Monday, June 13, someone stole my 12.9-inch iPad Pro from my bag during the annual Beard Bash event. I won’t go into the gritty details, but suffice it to say my valuables (as well as those of my colleague Serenity Caldwell) were in a secure location. Unfortunately, secure doesn’t always mean nothing bad will happen, and in this case, something bad did happen: My iPad Pro was removed from my bag, Serenity’s belongings were stuffed into my bag to make it look full (I guess), and the iPad Pro went bye-bye.

Read the rest. Some solid advice.

Here’s another take on the same topic (shared by Loop reader Andrew Leavitt). One key bit from this post:

Turn on ‘Restrictions’ and lock changes to ‘Location Services’

I found this second article to be a bit out of sync with the current iOS interface, wondering if this is no longer good advice or if the interface is just a bit different. Anyone know if you should be using Restrictions to lock Location Services? Or is that unnecessary?

Great read from Neil Cybart. He walks through three distinct business models, from the Mac as digital hub, to the no central hub model (with iPad, iPhone, Mac, and iPod being equals), to the iPhone as hub model.

Very interesting, all with some numbers to back up the logic and a peek at the Neil’s take on the post-iPhone future.

No.

The Mac is an incredibly valuable part of Apple’s ecosystem. If people were, en masse, leaving the Mac for iOS, that might make some (albeit small) amount of sense. But the Mac is an integral part of Apple’s big picture strategy.

The reasons to do this are obvious and simple. PC sales are flagging. While the market for desktop computers and laptops is still enormous, it’s seen as dead. You can see it in all the worldwide tech reporting. It’s become a boring replacement market as people keep their systems longer and longer.

True, sales may be flagging, but it’s all about the ecosystem. Macs help sell iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches, etc.

Spin off the Mac? I don’t think so.

Caitlin McGarry, writing for Macworld, digs into iOS 10′s new iMessage app. An all around interesting read, but this stuck out:

Federighi used a funny image creation app called JibJab to demonstrate the features in his WWDC demo. JibJab lets you create and share e-cards with people, and the iMessage extension allows you to select from a gallery of faces in your Camera Roll and drop a friend’s face on a JibJab GIF. When you share that image with someone, it will appear in the same iMessage conversation with a button beneath the image to install JibJab. Whereas Facebook Messenger would kick you to the App Store to finish downloading the app, in iMessage, you’ll remain inside your conversation. JibJab will appear in the new iMessage app drawer, which you can open without ever leaving Messages.

This is a subtle change, but a huge win for developers, an OS level viral mechanism developers can use to help spread the word about their app. This sort of discovery mechanism can help a developer build awareness, all without having to take out an ad or pay for PR.

Links to macOS Sierra reviews

Here are some posts worth reading, each with an individual take after spending some quality time with the macOS Sierra beta.

And, of course, there’s Jim’s walkthrough.

From the Oxford University web site:

Sir Jonathan Ive is Chief Design Officer of Apple Inc and designer of the iMac, PowerBook, iBook, iPod, iPhone, iPad, AppleWatch and MacBook. Six of his products appear in the permanent collections of New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). In 2012, he received San Francisco MoMA’s Lifetime Achievement Award and in 2013 he was awarded a gold Blue Peter Badge. His others accolades include an Inaugural Medal (1999) and Benjamin Franklin Medal (2004) of the Royal Society of Arts, the Design Museum London’s first Designer of the Year award (2003), the Design and Art Direction (D&AD) President’s Award and the Royal Academy of Engineering’s President’s Medal (both 2005), and the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum’s Product Design Award (2007). In 2012, D&AD named Sir Jonathan’s team at Apple the Best Design Studio of the past 50 years. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Well earned.

June 22, 2016

Apple’s official statement on why the iOS 10 kernel is not encrypted

Earlier today, we posted a link to an MIT Technology Review article, which stated, in part:

Some security experts who inspected that new version of iOS got a big surprise.

They found that Apple had not obscured the workings of the heart of its operating system using encryption as the company has done before. Crucial pieces of the code destined to power millions of iPhones and iPads were laid bare for all to see. That would aid anyone looking for security weaknesses in Apple’s flagship software.

Security experts say the famously secretive company may have adopted a bold new strategy intended to encourage more people to report bugs in its software—or perhaps made an embarrassing mistake. Apple declined to comment on why it didn’t follow its usual procedure.

We asked Apple for clarification and they sent us this statement:

“The kernel cache doesn’t contain any user info, and by unencrypting it we’re able to optimize the operating system’s performance without compromising security.”

As expected, this approach was intentional. Good to know.

The Wirecutter:

For many people, a UPS falls into the murky gray area between need and want. If you have a desktop computer or network-attached storage, you may need a UPS to prevent your drives from losing data in the event of a sudden power outage. And if you have digital phone service through your broadband provider, and the company skimped on your equipment by not including a battery, you may need a UPS to power your phone modem during a blackout so that you can reach emergency services. But a UPS is also handy during mundane power outages, since it allows you to pass the time on Facebook or Netflix while you wait for the juice to return.

A UPS makes sense in a lot of scenarios, but not in all of them.

A UPS is one of those unsexy things you don’t know you need until you need it. If you live in an area with spotty power or frequent weather-related outages (I live in an old apartment building that frequently has power outages for seemingly no reason), a UPS can save a lot of aggravation and frustration.

9to5Mac:

Space fans with 4th-gen Apple TVs are in for a treat, as NASA has released its popular app on the platform. It was already available for iOS, Android and Fire OS, but this is the first time you’ve been able to access it directly on your Apple TV.

You get live streaming NASA TV, including a real-time view of the Earth from the International Space Station, as well as on-demand access to over 10,000 NASA videos and more than 15,000 photos, either individually or as a slideshow.

I can get completely lost in NASA imagery and putting it on the Apple TV so I have access to larger images sounds great.

First look: macOS Sierra

I’ve been using macOS Sierra on a 13-inch MacBook Pro for about a week now, and I’ve been very impressed with the improvements Apple has made to the OS. Instead of giving you a walk through of all of the features in Sierra, I want to focus on Apple’s strategy and attention to detail in the new OS.

As I noted in my WWDC overview, it’s the little things that Apple does that impresses me the most. It’s the things that affect our every day lives where I feel the company excels. When they solve the little frustrating problems, they make a huge difference in the way we interact with their software and hardware. They did that with macOS Sierra.

They not only did it with macOS, but they also tied in some of their other devices and operating systems while improving the Mac experience. This is a brilliant strategy for Apple—allow people to utilize all of their devices for an even richer experience. People are more than willing to pay for that.

My favorite feature using this strategy on macOS is Auto Unlock. Basically, when you walk up to your Mac wearing an authenticated Apple Watch, your Mac will automatically unlock and log into your account.

This is absolutely brilliant. Using one Apple device to authenticate another, saving me the hassle of logging in every time I want to use my computer. To be clear, it’s not a big deal to unlock your computer if you do it once or twice a day, but if you do it over and over again, all day long, like I do, this is a great feature.

It allows me to keep my computer secure when I’m away, but eliminates the tedious chore of typing in the password when I walk back to it. This is one of those small, detail oriented features that I love from Apple.

Another example of a convenient feature is the ability to copy and paste across devices.

During my work day, I will use an iPad, iPhone and Mac. Depending on what I’m doing, where I am, and the time of day, I could be using any of those three.

More often than not, when I want to post a story to The Loop, I’ll use a Mac. It’s just what I feel the most comfortable using for that task. I’ve often recently found something, went to my Mac only to realize I can’t paste the link I just copied. I will use Continuity to open the same app, which is okay, but not as quick as just copying and pasting text or links directly into my Mac.

This is a feature I will definitely use quite a bit.

Siri is a strange feature for me on the Mac. It’s great, but I’m so fast using Spotlight to find files and apps, I haven’t used Siri that much in macOS Sierra.

In a lot of cases, I can type a query faster than Siri can find it for me. There are instances where refining a complex search for a file could be faster with Siri, but that’s something I’ll find out in time.

There are a lot of things you can do with Siri in macOS, including getting info about your Mac, controlling system preferences and doing many of the tasks we’ve become used to doing with Siri in iOS. I’m sure that I’ll use it more in time, but a lot of that will be training myself that Siri is available.

iCloud Desktop and Documents is an interesting feature and one that I’ve been using. Basically, any files on your desktop or documents folders will automatically be uploaded to iCloud, making them available to any other device that has access to your iCloud account.

I could name so many times that I had a file in one of those two places that I wish I had access to while away from my computer. Again, just a great little feature that will help the way we work with the computer.

If you have multiple Macs with the feature turned on, you’ll have the same files on your Desktop and Documents on all of the Macs. That’s a great feature.

One thing to be careful of is your iCloud space. Since the uploads will count against your available iCloud space, you’ll want to keep an eye on that. I have the largest capacity available, so it hasn’t affected me much at all.

Sierra’s space saving features are pretty robust too. There are quite a few options that we’ve heard about like storing photos and documents in the cloud, but there are other options too.

For instance, if you’ve downloaded the same file twice in Safari, Sierra flags the duplicate and automatically deletes it. The OS will proactively remind you to delete an installer when you’ve installed the app on your Mac.

That’s just a smart way to work. It’s like macOS Sierra is working with me to make sure my space is optimized to my liking.

Memories, the new part of photos, is fascinating. Photos gathers together your pictures and puts them into collections that you can look through.

This is great because you get to look back at a lot of photos that you wouldn’t normally get to see, unless you went looking for them. Even then, it’s hard to find pictures if you have a lot of them.

As great as Memories is, it’s Photos ability to identify objects and scenes within images that is very impressive. Even if you haven’t tagged your images, the new Photos app can identify things in your images and will show them in search results.

I searched for “Guitar,” “Beach” and other ordinary terms and results immediately popped up. Some pictures I hadn’t seen in years. I must say, that was very impressive.

Messages received a lot of attention is macOS Sierra, and rightfully so. It’s one of my most used apps, and while some of the feature additions are fun to use, others just make the experience better.

A small thing for a lot of people is the size of emojis. I don’t talk in emojis, but I do send the smiley faces now and then. I actually have a hard time seeing the emojis, even with my glasses on, so this is going to be great for me. Even though the size of the emoji was to increase the impact of what was being said, just being able to see them is a big help for me.

Rich links are a great thing in Messages. Instead of long links that leave you trying to figure out what you’re about to click on, rich links give you a visual preview, right in the Messages window.

I don’t even want to talk about Apple Music/iTunes. It needs work, but I gave my thoughts in the WWDC overview article I wrote.

I’m very impressed with what Apple did with macOS Sierra. It’s not just a bunch of new flashy features to impress us in a keynote demo, it’s features that will help us in our every day lives. Ultimately, those are the features that we will use the most.

MIT Technology Review:

Some security experts who inspected that new version of iOS got a big surprise.

They found that Apple had not obscured the workings of the heart of its operating system using encryption as the company has done before. Crucial pieces of the code destined to power millions of iPhones and iPads were laid bare for all to see. That would aid anyone looking for security weaknesses in Apple’s flagship software.

Security experts say the famously secretive company may have adopted a bold new strategy intended to encourage more people to report bugs in its software—or perhaps made an embarrassing mistake. Apple declined to comment on why it didn’t follow its usual procedure.

I can’t imagine that this is unintentional or a mistake. It’d be good to get an official comment from Apple on the strategy, given the press this is getting.

I love every bit of Magic Leap I’ve seen so far. Still no products, but they’ve done some impressive demos.

ESPN:

LeBron had spent the weekend watching old Muhammad Ali fights, in awe at the champ’s perseverance. His longtime friend and adviser, Nike executive Lynn Merritt, had suggested he study the way Ali carried himself in those epic 12- and 15-round fights. The way Ali took punches, knowing his opponent would eventually tire. The way he taunted opponents, flaunting his superior skill and talents, knowing he would get into their heads. His teammates needed something else, though. Something they could connect to that would make them believe this series was not over. And so LeBron gathered everyone in the Cavaliers locker room before Game 3 and played a portion of Steve Jobs’ commencement address to Stanford University in 2005.

Good story, especially the part where Kevin Love independently does his own Steve Jobs channeling. Note that the headline link takes you to a page with AUTOPLAY.

Terrific idea. The company is called Pearl, and the product is a backup camera built into a license plate frame, designed to replace the license plate frame on the rear of your car.

The RearVision license plate frame features two high-quality HD cameras and is self charging via a built in solar panel. It communicates, wirelessly, to an adapter you plug into your cars OBD port.

From the site:

Through advanced image processing, it analyzes the video streams to detect obstacles in your path, providing audible alerts and sending visual alerts to your phone.

There’s also a dash mount for your iPhone. The RearVision app streams video from the camera (via the dash mount) to your iPhone.

No substitute for pictures. Click here to see this for yourself.

A handful of useful links tweeted by @AppleSupport

Apple’s official support Twitter account, @AppleSupport, is definitely worth following, a terrific way to get help with a nagging problem on one of your devices.

Besides direct support, the account also tweets out tips and the occasional useful link. Here are a few examples:

  • Want to sign up for the iOS 10 or macOS Sierra beta program? Go here.

  • Encounter a problem with Apple Maps? A faulty address? A change that Apple Maps has yet to pick up? Report the problem with Maps for Mac here, or Maps for iOS here.

  • Need a phone number to contact Apple for support or service? Tap or click here.

  • Need support for your Apple ID? Click here for general support or here if your Apple ID is locked.

  • Have feedback on any Apple product. Go here.

Please tuck this away and pass it along.

June 21, 2016

Daring Fireball:

“No one” asked for the iMac to remove the floppy drive or switch from ADB ports to USB (at a time when PCs weren’t shipping with USB either, which meant few — I mean really few — existing USB peripherals on the market). There was a huge outcry when the iPhone 5 dumped the proprietary-but-ubiquitous 30-pin port for the proprietary-and-all-new Lightning port. MacBook Air fans are still complaining about the new MacBook’s solitary USB-C port.

This is how it goes.

Gruber does a great job of tearing apart Nilay Patel’s silly, whiny piece but the key argument for me is his “If it weren’t for Apple we’d probably still be using computers with VGA and serial ports. The essence of Apple is that they make design decisions “no one asked for”.” This is what Apple does. It’s what they’ve done since Steve Jobs came back to the company. They move forward. They don’t wait for the market to make the decision for them. They make the decision for the market. And, in the vast majority of the cases, the market agrees with Apple – eventually.

Apple:

Discover amazing camps for kids at the Apple Store.

Join Apple Camp, a free three-day program for kids ages 8 to 12. They’ll broaden their creative horizons by making movies, creating interactive books, and more using Apple products.

Who wouldn’t want to create their own games and program their own robots? Kids will learn visual block-based coding for games, applying logic skills such as pattern recognition and problem solving. Then they’ll use what they’ve learned to program their own robots to perform tasks, challenges, and much more.

If you’re lucky enough to be a kid who lives within range of one of these Apple Camps, sign up ASAP. They fill up fast and I’ve heard a lot of good things about them.

Thoughts on WWDC, Apple Music

Apple had an incredibly successful Worldwide Developers Conference last week, on almost all fronts. From the new keynote venue and Apple Bash, to the reaction of developers, and the software that was announced, Apple did a great job.

What impressed me the most about the updated macOS, tvOS, iOS, and watchOS were all the “little” things. In typical Apple fashion, the company solved real-world problems with a lot of the new features announced during WWDC. The scope of how these features will help us on a daily basis will not be so little, but that’s exactly what makes them so great.

For example, take Single Sign-on which will be part of the new tvOS. This has to be one of the most frustrating experiences with the Apple TV—you have a cable subscription, but you have to authenticate each and every app you download to your Apple TV. That involves going to different web sites, typing in different codes and authenticating every single app.

I’ll be honest, I just gave up. It’s too much of a hassle to be bothered with.

With Single Sign-on, you log-in once to Apple TV and you’re done. The Apple TV will even show you a complete list of all authenticated apps that you can download to your Apple TV. Absolutely brilliant.

Auto Unlock in macOS is another feature that takes away some daily frustration and the tedious entering of the log-in screen password. When you walk up to your computer using your authenticated Apple Watch, you will be automatically logged into your computer. Again, brilliant.

Being able to copy & paste between devices is going to be a huge feature for people like me that use multiple devices throughout the day—iPads, iPhone, and Macs. Continuity is a great for apps, but it’s going to be just as great for features like copy & paste.

Apple Music

The part of the keynote I was looking forward to the most was Apple Music. I was a bit disappointed, to be honest.

What I really wanted from Apple was to have them say they figured out the issues that were causing problems for Apple Music customers. I wanted to know that iTunes Match was fixed and that the promise of Apple Music they gave us last year was finally becoming a reality.

Instead, we got a new interface. One that looks, in places, like a web page loaded without the corresponding CSS. An interface that requires more taps to do simple tasks like “Love” a song or find a genre radio station. For the most part, the interface is more confusing now then it’s ever been.

There is nothing social about the app–they don’t get social at all, and that’s a big problem. There are so many things on the backend and interface that are wrong.

There are some good parts though. Seeing what’s Up Next from the now playing song page is just a quick swipe up–nice change. Apple has made significant improvements in some backend functions, like the curated radio stations, over the past few months, so the Apple Music team deserves a huge amount of credit for that–I’ve really been enjoying Hard Rock radio.

I agree the current interface need some improvements—features like being able to scroll up to see what’s playing next. However, throwing out everything is not the way to go.

Before Apple can fix Apple Music, I think they need to figure out what the hell they want this app to be. I’m convinced they don’t know and that is their biggest problem.

Apple Music clearly isn’t ready to have my full thoughts posted on it yet. I can only think there are many changes coming to Apple Music and it would be unfair of me to say any more until it’s released.

iOS

It’s great that developers can now use Siri to control their apps—that’s long overdue. I do wish we had seen a bit more about what the future holds for Siri, but perhaps another time for that.

News is odd for me. I still don’t get what Apple is trying to do with News. It’s a solution in search of a problem and it doesn’t seem that Apple knows what problem it’s trying to fix.

Apple said they are now offering subscriptions in News, but they tried that with Newsstand and then dumped it. I don’t see how News is any different or how the end result will be any different.

Messages is one of my most used apps on iOS. I use it all day long. I’m not a big emoji talker, but having the option to throw one or two into a conversation will be a fun change. Having the emojis many times their normal size is a great feature for my aging eyes. (I do send smily faces now and then).

Having links show up in Messages as an item instead of a long link is another great addition. It’s just another one of those little things that will make things a lot easier for users. These are the type of features I really like.

For me, one of the most improved apps seems to be Maps. This is a good thing because I use Maps quite a bit. You can now avoid highways and tolls when planning a route, and you can search along a route for points of interest. These are small things, but Maps was lacking without them.

Another great feature in Maps is having developer integration. Being able to book a Lyft or Uber, or book a table at a restaurant from within the app will be big features.

Overall

It was a great week for Apple and developers. Everyone left happy.

The venue for the keynote was great, the sessions seemed to go really well this year, and it was the best Apple bash in recent memory.

Apple’s responsibility at WWDC is to deliver technologies that developers can use to build the next round of great apps. They succeeded in doing that. Apple’s attention on those little features make a huge difference in the way we use the various OS releases. It’s why we continue using Apple products.

This is posted by Xerox, so take the choices with that in mind. That said, this is a pretty solid list, an enjoyable read. I only wish there was a bit more depth (or a “read more here” link) for each one.

Politico:

Apple CEO Tim Cook will host a fundraiser with House Speaker Paul Ryan next week as the iPhone maker tries to strengthen its relationships with key Republicans — despite its decision to pull support for the GOP convention because of its distaste for Donald Trump.

Cook will help generate cash for Ryan at a private breakfast on June 28 in Menlo Park, Calif., along with Gary Wipfler, the company’s treasurer, according to an invite obtained by POLITICO on Monday. The money benefits not only the speaker but a joint fundraising committee aimed at helping to elect other House Republicans.

And:

Cook is hosting the fundraiser on his own accord, as Apple does not have a corporate political action committee like Facebook, Google and other tech giants in Silicon Valley. Still, the move reflects Apple’s desire to court Republican and Democratic officeholders alike, even at a time when it has serious reservations about Trump, the GOP’s presumptive presidential nominee.

This is a delicate dance, Apple saying no to Trump, but continuing to lend support to both sides of the aisle.

MacRumors:

Over the weekend, a Reddit user discovered a few lines of code within the framework of Apple’s beta of the macOS Sierra Photos app, possibly detailing both the specific facial expressions that the app recognizes and every single searchable object users can find in both Sierra and iOS 10.

In a more detailed Medium post, Redditor vista980622 explained that Photos will be able to “recognize and distinguish” 7 total facial expressions after the app scans a user’s library and forms a “faceprint” for each individual in a picture. The expressions include greedy, disgust, neutral, scream, smiling, surprise, and suspicious.

If you are interested in the specifics, here’s a link to the Medium post that lists both the facial expressions and the objects Photos can recognize. I can only imagine this is just the beginning.