September 22, 2016

The tone of this walkthrough is very beginner, but bear with. Spend 5 minutes with Pogue and you’ll quickly get your arms around all the major new features that come with the new iOS 10 Messages rewrite.

Paresh Dave, writing for the LA Times:

The California Supreme Court agreed to review Yelp’s objection to a decision ordering it to strip the Internet of comments posted about a San Francisco law firm.

The law firm owner, Dawn Hassell, sued Ava Bird, the disgruntled former client who allegedly posted the reviews — and lower courts agreed that Yelp should be forced to remove them.

And:

To the frustration of many plaintiffs’ attorneys, the Communications Decency Act has long freed online publishers from liability for user postings on their websites and apps. But many technology experts say the Hassell case may be the biggest threat yet to the immunity.

The appellate court found that no liability was being placed on Yelp, and thus the ruling didn’t go against federal law. Instead, as the “administrator of the forum” where defamatory speech existed, Yelp bears the responsibility of removal, the court said.

Experts in technology law say they’re optimistic that the California Supreme Court will spike the order against Yelp.

If this decision goes against Yelp, it will certainly impact crowd sourced rating and comment sites. Bigger pockets will be able to sue unflattering comments into submission. Chilling.

September 21, 2016

Petapixel:

One of the biggest companies in the world just got into the photo print business. Seattle-based ecommerce giant Amazon just launched Amazon Prints—an online service that lets users order photo prints, build photo books, and soon much more.

The key here is “affordable.” Photo prints cost just 9 cents per print for 4×6, 58 cents per print for 5×7, and $1.79 per print for 8×10—almost half the cost of Shutterfly. Photo books start at $20 and go up from there depending on size, paper, and cover options. Stationary and calendar options are coming soon.

There is a catch to all of this affordability, of course: you have to be an Amazon Cloud Drive or Amazon Photos account holder to use the service.

I’m a big fan of having photos printed and always encourage my students to print off their best. This new service from Amazon is just another option.

Techcrunch:

One of the most talked about features of the iPhone 7 at launch was the new Portrait mode.

It’s a software feature that used the two lenses of the iPhone 7 Plus to create the look and feel of an image shot with portrait settings on a camera with a telephoto lens.

Simply put: a pleasing blur that separates the foreground (person) from the background (other junk). I’m going to get a bit wonky in this piece because I feel the context will be sorely lacking once this feature hits widely — and there are some that are interested.

Everyone is raving about this article and, while it’s interesting, this “feature” is not “crazy”. Photographers have been creating this effect in camera for a hundred years. I’ll critique it and Panzarino’s photographs (gently – after all, I can’t make fun of a guy with a new baby named Enzo!) on tonight’s Your Mac Life “Starting Point Photography” segment. Bottom line is, you don’t have to wait for Apple’s iOS 10 “Portrait Mode” to create these kinds of images.

It’s like these were built just for me.

While working in their garage in 1977, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak asked Rob Janoff, who had studied design, to create a logo for their first Apple products. When Janoff went to Jobs with final sketches, everything went very smoothly, and the bitten apple has been the symbol of the brand ever since.

Great stuff.

The art of hand making a book

I knew about the typesetting and page making parts but the bookbinding was new to me. Fascinating, laborious process.

As Pandora prepares to overhaul its entire music streaming service, users are going to have to wait a bit longer until the full on-demand subscription product is ready. The online radio service is preparing to shift into a full-fledged music streaming platform, and will do so with an improved free tier alongside an updated version of its $5-a-month Pandora One offering, and the $10-a-month on-demand product.

Pandora has the best algorithmic radio of any service—it’s just great songs, one after the other. Adding on-demand music downloads is going to make them an even stronger competitor. I’m already a paying customer of Pandora and will upgrade to the new service as soon as it’s ready.

These are instantly recognizable.

Via Khoi]

This is a fantastic article from Bobby Owsinski on the proper method to miking a guitar amp.

“We can confirm that McLaren is not in discussion with Apple in respect of any potential investment.”

Interesting rumor.

An ongoing list put together at AppAdvice.

Why the Mona Lisa is so famous

Did you know that 80% of visitors to The Louvre are there to visit the most famous painting of all time? How did the Mona Lisa get to be so famous? Fascinating video.

Another mega-post from Christian Zibreg for iDownloadBlog. Terrific collection.

iPhone scratches and aging gracefully

Thomas Ricker, writing for The Verge:

The wood on the stairs in my newly renovated house is starting to divot and wear under heavy use. At first — for the briefest of moments — I was annoyed as I imagined my daughter’s “princess heels” and my son’s football cleats plodding up the steps in violation of our strict no-shoes-in-the-house policy. Then I remembered Starck’s lesson. The subtle scarring I see is created by the process that transforms a house into a home; imperfections forged by my children, themselves transforming into adults. Those stairs, disfigured as they are, fulfill their purpose of supporting my family on their daily journey through this world. Now when I look at the stairs I see a beautiful story.

He also quotes from this 2011 essay on design by Remy Labesque, a defense of well-worn gadgets:

Aging with dignity is a criteria designers should recognize in their efforts. I’m thinking of a future when products are designed not for the brief moment when they are new, but for when they have been aged to perfection.

We’ve got a table in our house that my wife and I bought when we got married, our first major purchase together. It’s a fine piece of furniture and has served us as our kitchen table for many years.

The surface of the table is well worn, scarred by sharp edges. An imprint of a phillips screw from a carelessly placed box, a patina of paint and sparkly glitter, and countless gouges from children and cats, mar the table’s surface. But I would argue that those imperfections make the table, give it a distinct well-worn beauty, and in no way take away from the iconic look of the table design.

Take a look at the images at the top of Labesque’s Frog Design post, the one showing both a well-worn iPhone and a similarly worn Canon point-and-click camera. Which wears its patina of wear better? To me, no question, that iPhone, with all its scratches and imperfections, is still a thing of beauty.

Just after the September 7th iPhone event, Farhad Manjoo wrote a piece for the New York Times titled, provocatively, “What’s Really Missing From the New iPhone: Cutting-Edge Design”.

An aside: I complained about the Times coverage of that event here.

In his direct response, Gruber walks a very reasoned line, focused on the meaning of design. A fascinating read.

At its core:

Here’s the genius of the black and (especially) jet black iPhones 7. In a very seductive way, they look like something new and desirable. And at the same time, they are instantly recognizable as iPhones. That is what Manjoo and similar-minded I’m-bored-with-Apple’s-designs don’t get. With a highly successful product and brand, new versions need to strike a balance between familiarity, the foundations of the brand, and hot newness. The bored-with-Apple crowd just wants the hot newness.

Absolutely right. Iconic design requires recognizability. A Porsche, an Eames lounge chair, and an iPhone are all iconic designs, all instantly recognizable.

That jet black finish is hot newness, but wrapped around an iconic design.

Read Gruber’s post. It resonates.

Jason Snell and Dan Moren pulled together a terrific walk through of macOS Sierra.

One tiny nit, concerning Siri:

Activating Siri brings up a floating window with an audio waveform, and then displays the results of your query in that same window. (You can choose what microphone Siri uses, and whether Siri speaks its results aloud, in the new Siri pane in the System Preferences app.)

When Siri returns answers to your requests in that floating window, that’s not the end of the story. You can drag and drop, or copy and paste, results into other apps, Many results also come with a plus icon in the top right corner, allowing you to pin them to the top of the Today view inside Notification Center.

And:

This leads to a few uncomfortable situations. Even Apple’s demos show off that if you say something like, “search the web for pictures of old computers,” it will provide you with an awesome collection of images—any of which you can drag anywhere and drop into something like a document or presentation.

My 2 cents here, this is a web issue, not an Apple issue. You could make the same issue with a simple Google Images search. Your copyright obligations have not changed.

Note also that Jason did have sporadic issues unlocking his Mac using his Apple Watch. Not sure if other folks are having this problem but, for me, the Apple Watch unlock has been bulletproof. The only time it fails is when I turn Bluetooth off on my phone or my Mac, both of these BT connections are required for this chain of unlock to work.

But I digress. Read the review. It’s worth your time. Jason and Dan are terrific writers and the review is both informative and incredibly easy to absorb.

With the teaser headline, What happens next? Click and hold to find out!, Tumblr brought Apple’s Live Photos format to the web.

Whenever you see that famous Live Photo icon, click and hold to make them swing.

Tumblr was the first third-party app to support Live Photos—you could even GIF ’em. Now we’re the first to support them on the web. And! We’re open sourcing the javascript library for any webmaster to use: GitHub and npm.

Also interesting:

We’re also working on an Android version for you.

Mihăiță Bamburic talks you through the process of downloading the installer from the Mac App Store and either using Disk Utility and Terminal to create a bootable Sierra USB drive, or using 3rd party utility DiskMaker X to do the same. Worth having one of these drives around.

September 20, 2016

Apple consolidating Luxembourg operations to Cork, Ireland

From Apple’s email this afternoon:

As of September 25, 2016, iTunes S.à r.l. will complete its merger with Apple Distribution International in Cork, Ireland and will relocate its business from Luxembourg to Cork in early 2017.

Apple has been operating in Ireland since 1980 and now employs nearly 6,000 people. As we continue to expand our operations in Cork, we are moving our iTunes business there and will support content stores for more than 100 countries from our campus at Hollyhill.

This move was originally announced back in June. From this 2012 article in the New York Times:

Luxembourg has just half a million residents. But when customers across Europe, Africa or the Middle East — and potentially elsewhere — download a song, television show or app, the sale is recorded in this small country, according to current and former executives. In 2011, iTunes S.à r.l.’s revenue exceeded $1 billion, according to an Apple executive, representing roughly 20 percent of iTunes’s worldwide sales.

Obviously, that information is dated, but it gives a sense of the importance Luxembourg operations have to Apple. Not clear how this will impact Apple’s current tax negotiations with the European Commission.

Macrumors:

While the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus launched last week, the usual trend of demand outstripping supply has resulted in limited availability of the smartphones around the world. Fortunately, prospective buyers can easily check stock at their local Apple Stores using the website iStockNow.

iStockNow uses Google Maps to visualize the real-time status of iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus availability at Apple Stores in the U.S., Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the U.K., likely based on Apple’s reservation system backend.

May the odds be ever in your favor.

Worldwide Photo Walk:

Each year, photographers around the world gather on the same day to explore, photograph, share photos with one another, make new friends, and be a part of a great cause. The Worldwide Photo Walk supports The Springs Of Hope Kenya Orphanage, an organization that feeds, houses, educates and empowers young orphans so that they can grow up to not just survive but succeed. We’re asking each person who participates to donate to help make a difference in these kids lives. Every dollar counts.

I’ve been a Walk Leader for several years and have always had a lot of fun. I love the idea that thousands of my fellow photographers of all levels of ability and experience are all shooting on the same day. Check the web site to see if there is a walk in your area and, if not, apply to be a Walk Leader and create your own walk. It’s easy to do and there are prizes available for both leaders and shooters. Plus, it’s for a good cause.

The Wirecutter:

Apple is changing its desktop operating system’s name from Mac OS X to macOS, but in most respects macOS Sierra is still the same Mac you’ve been using for years. Unlike with watchOS 3 or iOS 10, you won’t miss any huge interface changes or performance improvements if you wait to update. But some new features can make a big difference depending on how you use your Mac and on how many other Apple products you have. Now that we’ve been using Sierra for several months, here are the changes that have actually mattered to us.

Very few of the additions to macOS Sierra will make a lot of difference to me except for the better “universality” of the Mac with my iOS devices. Looking forward to testing that out.

TidBITS:

For those struggling to free up space, particularly on a notebook Mac with relatively little internal flash storage, Optimized Storage sounded great, at least if you don’t mind paying for online storage in iCloud Drive. And while it could be a great boon for such people, it turns out to be a somewhat confusing collection of seemingly unrelated features, burdened by one of the stranger interfaces that Apple has produced in recent years.

Plus, although we haven’t had time to test all the possibilities, I recommend care when it comes to Optimized Storage in general, and extreme caution with one of its settings. That isn’t to say you shouldn’t enable all its features, but that you should understand the possible implications before doing so.

“Optimized Storage” sounds like another one of those things that would be great – in theory. But, in practice, I’d be very careful about using it.

Apple® today announced that macOS™ Sierra, the latest major release of the world’s most advanced desktop operating system, is now available as a free update. macOS Sierra brings Siri® to the Mac® with intelligent and helpful features users know and love from iPhone® and iPad®, along with all-new capabilities designed specifically for use on the desktop. Features like Universal Clipboard, iCloud® Desktop and Documents, Auto Unlock and Apple Pay® on the web help your Mac work even better with other Apple devices. And Photos gets an update with a new Memories feature that automatically creates curated collections of your favorite photos and videos.

I’ve been using Sierra since mid-summer and it’s been very solid, and improving over time. This is a great update for macOS.

Be sure to check out our earlier post on things to do before you install.

Mental Floss:

The movie industry has always pushed the limits of technology to create those incredible visual effects we see on the big screen. Specially designed cameras, state-of-the-art computers, and meticulous animatronics are just a few of the tools at the disposal of directors looking to bring their vision to life. But over the years, some of the most iconic effects have been completed using much more modest means, including a little paint, some simple prosthetics, and … a sock? Check out how some of Hollywood’s most memorable special effects shots were created.

I love these behind the scenes secrets of film productions.

“Apple is committed to running on 100 percent renewable energy, and we’re happy to stand beside other companies that are working toward the same effort,” said Jackson. “We’re excited to share the industry-leading work we’ve been doing to drive renewable energy into the manufacturing supply chain, and look forward to partnering with RE100 to advocate for clean-energy policies around the world.”

Apple has made some incredible strides in the environment over the past decade.

Making a guitar

This is absolutely fascinating.

Apple’s jet black iPhone 7 Plus perfect storm

In yesterday’s Barrons blog:

The most bullish note today is from John Donovan and Steve Mullane of BlueFin Research Partners, who had written on the topic a week ago.

The authors today write that Apple is “frantically asking component suppliers to pull in deliveries in a mad rush to deliver incremental iPhone 7 units by year end,” citing higher-than-expected for the new device.

From the referenced BlueFin report:

Demand for the jet black model has been red hot, with speculators in China paying as much as $2,300 according to our checks. Last week we mentioned an almost TMZ-like reporting environment surrounding the Samsung Note 7 saga. The videos of autombiles catching fire while airports and TSA posting warnings about the Galaxy Note 7 will not fade from consumers memory anytime soon, in our view. AAPL is primed to swoop in and take full advantage and is pressuring the entire component base in an effort to ensure product is at the ready.

Samsung’s stumble, the double camera, and a hot new jet black finish created a perfect storm for Apple.

Ultimate? No. But interesting? Yes. I found a few of these questions to be challenging. And one of the answers was just plain wrong. See if you can spot the error. It’s me being picky, but I think you’ll agree the proffered answer is technically wrong.

Update: There are actually two errors. One was obvious and current, and one goes back a ways. Head over to the comments for the reveal.