September 15, 2017

This is a great collection. Just a taste of this massive catalog:

  • Indiana Jones’ whip
  • Xenomorph egg from Aliens
  • Marty McFly’s 2015 Nike Shoes from Back To The Future Part II
  • Conan’s sword from Conan the Barbarian
  • Bill Murray’s original jumpsuit costume from Ghostbusters

Lots, lots more. Here’s the Prop Store auction link. Let me know if there’s anything particular that jumps out at you.

Lory Gil, iMore:

Recently, Equifax announced it had been compromised and as many as 143 million U.S. residents may have had their personal information exposed, including home addresses, birth dates, credit account information, and Social Security numbers. One suggestion from the credit reporting agency, as well as many banks and credit card companies, is to freeze your credit report.

A credit freeze is a way for you to restrict access to your credit report to protect you from identity theft. If you’ve put a freeze on your credit report, it doesn’t affect your credit score or keep you from being able to apply for loans. There are some caveats though.

If you’ve put a credit freeze on your credit report, there are a few things you should know about applying for your iPhone Upgrade Program loan.

This is worth reading, certainly for the specifics on the iPhone Upgrade Program, but also to wrap your head around the implications of freezing your credit report.

My 2 cents: If you choose to not freeze your credit report, do a regular check on your credit report to see who is running credit checks on you. Believe it or not, there are companies out there that sell product purely on credit to someone who has the right credentials. In other words, they will ship out an Xbox if you have the right combination of social security number and other identifying personal information AND if they can run a credit check.

Freeze your credit and that can’t happen. If you don’t freeze your credit, pay attention. Identity theft is a painful thread to unwind.

Ad Week:

The biggest advertising organizations say Apple will “sabotage” the current economic model of the internet with plans to integrate cookie-blocking technology into the new version of Safari.

And:

Six trade groups—the Interactive Advertising Bureau, American Advertising Federation, the Association of National Advertisers, the 4A’s and two others—say they’re “deeply concerned” with Apple’s plans to release a version of the internet browser that overrides and replaces user cookie preferences with a set of Apple-controlled standards. The feature, which is called “Intelligent Tracking Prevention,” limits how advertisers and websites can track users across the internet by putting in place a 24-hour limit on ad retargeting.

From the perspective of the folks whose living depends on ad sales, I do understand this anger. But.

From the perspective of the user, the ability not to be tracked is absolutely fair. I do not want to be tracked. Period. Don’t try to sell me on the supposed benefits of tracking my behavior. To me, it smacks of snake oil.

When I see an ad for something I momentarily glanced at on Amazon appearing again and again as a browser ad, I don’t see that as a benefit. Instead, I see it as psychological manipulation. You are not showing me that ad repeatedly to help me. Instead, you simply want the money that ad brings in.

My ultimate reaction to this article is a sense of appreciation for Apple. While they certainly are not perfect, again and again I get the feeling that they have my back in this relationship. More than anything else, that sense keeps me on board the ecosystem.

September 14, 2017

Second, what kind of sociopaths are these people that they want to put mom-and-pop corner stores and bodegas out of business?

Yeah, “fuck these guys.”

Business Insider:

Just after 6:32 a.m. EDT on Friday, a bus-size object will scream over the cloud tops, burst into millions of pieces, and glow like a meteor.

But this meteor isn’t a rock: It’s NASA’s nuclear-powered Cassini spacecraft plunging to its doom.

However, NASA TV is broadcasting live online video of the final stages of Cassini’s “Grand Finale,” the moment its last stream of data comes in, and — by extension — confirmation that it’s died.

An amazing mission and a fitting ending.

TidBITS:

Late last week, news broke of a massive data breach at Equifax, one of the three major credit rating agencies. Equifax may have lost private information, including Social Security numbers, for up to 143 million U.S. consumers, which would be over half of the adult, bank-account-participating population of the country.

Here is how to understand your risk and best live with the exposure.

As always, when Mogull writes/speaks, I listen. Good article even with the sour note at the end.

Craig Federighi on Conan

Surprised to see Craig Federighi fielding questions on Conan yesterday.

John Gruber:

Five, ten years from now, the Apple Watch Series 3, the iPhone 8, and even the iPhone X are just going to be old products sitting around in drawers. But the public debut of Apple Park, the grand opening of the Steve Jobs Theater, and the company’s first public tribute to its founder — that’s what I’ll remember most about yesterday.

It somehow feels appropriate, too, that the most interesting thing revealed in the event that came as a genuine surprise, that hadn’t been leaked, was a message from Steve Jobs himself.

Two things:

  1. I was deeply moved by the opening moments of yesterday’s Apple Event. As I said here, “Today’s Apple event opening montage is phenomenal, a real love letter to design and to Steve.” I will freely admit that hearing Steve’s voice got me a little choked up.

  2. This writeup by John Gruber is worth reading stem to stern. This post is about Steve and the theater that bears his name.

Kirk McElhearn:

As I reported here yesterday, Apple released an update to iTunes. The latest version, 12.7, has some minor changes, but one big revolution: the App Store is no longer available.

And:

If they go to your website, and click on the Download on the App Store button, something strange will happen. They will not be able to go to the App Store, because it no longer exists.

In fact what happens after that click is interesting. The user’s web browser opens a web page which displays a message, above a spinning gear, that says Opening the iTunes Store. The browser eventually redirects to iTunes, which redirects back to the browser displaying a webpage showing information about the app. However, there is no way to purchase an app from this page. And there aren’t even any hints as to how one might go about this, such as suggesting that the user copy the URL and email it to him or herself to be able to access the information about this app on the iOS App Store.

To be clear, this is a Mac issue, an effect of the App Store being removed from iTunes. To see this for yourself, go to Safari on the Mac and hunt for an app link. For example, go to TouchArcade and scroll down, click on one of the App Store links.

For example, here’s a link to a game called CSR Racing 2.

If you click the link, one of two things will happen. Either you’ll be flipped back and forth a few times between Safari and iTunes as your Mac tries to follow a protocol that no longer works, or you’ll end on a Safari page with no way to make a purchase.

Either way, something big is broken here.

Add a colored accent to your Apple Watch to exactly match the color of your Sport band. This came up because the Series 3 Cellular comes with a red dot on the Digital Crown.

This is pure fashion, a thing for people who own and wear different color bands for style. Unfortunately, it will not allow you to make calls on a non-cellular Apple Watch. Heh.

Chris Mills, BGR:

Apple announced the iPhone X, iPhone 8, and iPhone 8 Plus today. They’re all great phones in many ways, but they have one fatal flaw for T-Mobile and its customers: No support for T-Mobile’s new LTE network.

Right now, T-Mobile is in the early stages of rolling out a brand-new 600MHz network nationwide. The first sites are already online, and T-Mobile is expecting to cover a million square miles by the end of 2017. But the 600MHz network uses a brand-new LTE channel, Band 71, and very few devices support it yet. Sadly for T-Mobile, you can’t add the iPhone 8 or iPhone X to that list.

And:

The specs page for the iPhone X confirms that it supports all the usual North American LTE bands, but not Band 71. However you frame this, it’s a blow for T-Mobile. The iPhone X is widely expected to spark an upgrade “super-cycle” that will see people on the iPhone 6 and 6S spring for the upgrade, since they’re buying a phone that they expect to last for years. That phone — expected to last for at least two years — won’t be compatible with the LTE band that T-Mobile is expecting to be the backbone of its network going forwards.

Here’s the iPhone X specs page, look for yourself. Scroll down to the Cellular and Wireless section. No Band 71 mention.

Wondering if this support is something that can be rolled out in the future via an upgrade, or if it has to be baked in. If I was going to order an iPhone X and used T-Mobile, I would definitely want to know about this before I pressed the Buy button.

Any experts disagree with Chris’s take? Please do let me know.

Serenity Caldwell, writing for iMore, digs into the differences between the Series 3 Apple Watch and the previous Apple Watch models, as well as the differences between the GPS-only and GPS+cellular Series 3 models.

A few points that stand out:

The GPS + Cellular Series 3 has double the storage capacity: 16GB to the GPS-only’s 8GB.

And:

the GPS-only Series 3 is limited to just aluminum Sport and Nike+ casings (silver, gold, or space grey) with their Ion-X glass screen. In contrast, the GPS + Cellular Watch retains the higher-end casings formerly present with the Series 2 in addition to the aluminum Sport and Nike+ casings. This includes options like stainless steel, white and grey ceramic, and Hermès steel.

And:

All Series 3 GPS + Cellular watches have a red dot on the Digital Crown.

And the biggest point of all, on battery life while talking via the Apple Watch:

3 hours connected to iPhone, 1 hour w/ Cellular

Three hours connected via my iPhone might as well be infinity. If I’ve got my iPhone, I’m going to be talking using my iPhone. I talk via my Apple Watch very rarely, and usually for very short calls when I just can’t get to my iPhone.

One hour battery life talking on my Apple Watch without my iPhone seems extremely low. If I make a half hour call, presumably that’s half my battery gone. Gonna need a recharge.

Perhaps Apple’s marketing research shows that likely buyers want the freedom to not carry an iPhone (runners, for example), want to stay in touch, but don’t anticipate making calls on a regular basis. That would work.

Good, detailed post from Serenity. Check it out if you are thinking about moving up to the Series 3.

September 13, 2017

Mac Observer:

Apple rolled out iTunes 12.7 on Tuesday with support for iOS 11—the new version of the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch operating system that will be publicly available on September 19th. The update also makes some interface changes and does away with saving backups of the apps installed on your devices.

Many of us have complained about iTunes bloat and wanted Apple to do something about it but, in my opinion, this isn’t it. I like having backups on my Mac. Apple says:

The new iTunes focuses on music, movies, TV shows, podcasts, and audiobooks. Apps for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch are now exclusively available in the new App Store for iOS. And the new App Store makes it easy to get, update, and redownload apps—all without a Mac or PC.

Except I almost never “get, update, and redownload apps” without my Mac and I never buy apps directly from my iPhone. When I want to buy an app, I read reviews and check out the developer’s web site on my Mac, not on my iPhone. All of this leaves aside the fact many of us have bandwidth caps. Forcing users to use up bandwidth re-downloading apps, for any reason, seems user unfriendly. I recognize I may be an extreme use case but it would be nice if Apple simply made this an option for those users who don’t want to do it this way.

iMore:

Apple’s Senior VP of Retail Angela Ahrendts explained the company’s plans for the future of Apple Retail in her presentation at today’s Apple Event, saying that Apple Stores are no longer just stores – they’re Town Squares.

Ahrendts has been talking about this for a while but, for some reason, it was only yesterday it hit me how odd and jarring the term “Town Squares” was. I can’t quite put my finger on why I dislike it so much.

Russell Brandom, The Verge:

Because phone’s all-glass front leaves no room for a home button, Apple is ditching Touch ID in favor of a facial recognition system powered by a new camera array and a specially modified A11 chip.

Not quite sure “leaves no room for a home button” quite captures the motivation for the change. But no matter, the article goes on to ask 5 questions, with thoughts for each.

Here are the questions:

  • Will Face ID make it easier for police to unlock my phone?

  • Could my face leak or get stolen?

  • Will Face ID have a racial bias problem?

  • Can you spoof Face ID with a picture of someone else’s face?

  • Will Apple ever use Face ID for anything other than unlocking phones?

Tempting to just dismiss these questions (the first four with a no, the last with Animoji), but they are interesting topics. Lots of food for thought here.

One particular point:

Soon, millions of people will be enrolled into Face ID, giving Apple control over a powerful facial recognition tool. In the current system, that data stays on phones, but that could always change. The hashing would make it difficult for anyone other than Apple to use the data, but there’s no real limit on what they use it for, particularly if they start to store information outside of specific phones. On Twitter, privacy advocates worried about Face ID data being used for retail surveillance or attention tracking in ads. You could also imagine it as next year’s delightful product breakthrough, integrated into Apple Stores or Apple Cars as a way of carrying over logins no matter who walks in.

Some good thoughts, there. One I’d add: Apple is going to gather a tremendous amount of machine learning data, with incredible value (especially in the phone arms race), if they find a way to bring that data back to their central servers. This is a mighty new frontier.

AP:

No-frills toys including the paper airplane, sand and play food are among 12 finalists vying for a place in the National Toy Hall of Fame.

The contenders for the Class of 2017 were announced Tuesday.

Also up for the honor are the board games Risk and Clue, the Magic 8 ball, Matchbox cars, My Little Pony, the PEZ candy dispenser, Transformers, the card game Uno and Wiffle Ball.

If I could only pick two, I’d say Matchbox Cars and Risk are worthy of the Hall.

Andrew O’Hara, iDownloadBlog:

Though most of the changes to the upcoming Apple TV 4K are internal, one notable change to the exterior is the addition of a gigabit ethernet port.

Good catch. Nice to be able to do a WiFi only setup, but with 4K comes 4 times the data, making a gigabit ethernet port much more important.

From a related iDownloadBlog post:

The new Apple TV 4K has brought back the speedy Gigabit Ethernet port (the previous box uses the slower 10/100 Mbps Ethernet for wired Internet), but it’s lost the handy USB-C port.

I checked the Apple TV 4K spec page, and it seems this is true. I wonder how you’ll do restores if things go south. Via Ethernet? Wifi?

UPDATE: Much digging, much discussion, here’s my current thoughts on life without the USB-C. For most folks, a failure of the Apple TV will mean a trip to the Apple Store. For developers, Xcode 9 lets you connect to the Apple TV (here’s a post, H/T Jack Webster) as long as you are on the same network. So, ethernet port is your friend there, network debugging. If your Apple TV goes south, not sure how end users or devs would do a restore. Interesting.

Jake Underwood does a nice job digging through the new accessories Apple rolled out, including iPhone cases (love the new iPhone X leather folios), Apple Watch bands, and charging mats.

Juli Clover, MacRumors:

Alongside the new 4K Apple TV, Apple today quietly released a new, slightly redesigned Siri Remote to go along with it. Priced at $59, the updated remote features a new more prominent Menu button with a white circle around it.

Aside from the redesign to the Menu button, the new Apple TV Siri Remote appears to be identical to the previous-generation model. At $59, the remote is $20 cheaper than the previous-generation Siri Remote.

I’ve long wished Apple would make a change to the remote to make it more obvious which end of the remote is which. In low light, it’s easy to end up with the remote pointed the wrong way, and there’s not enough of a tactile difference to be able to easily feel which end is which.

I’ve not gotten my hands on the new remote, so it is possible that this “more prominent” Menu button will solve the problem. At the very least, glad to see the price drop.

Craig Federighi’s first Face ID attempt: Glitch, or simple logistics flub?

During yesterday’s iPhone X demo, Craig Federighi walked across the stage and picked up an iPhone X, with the goal of demonstrating Face ID.

Things did not go as planned. Craig looked at his iPhone X, swiped up, and…nothing. He tried again, and the passcode screen appeared. Craig, being the cool customer he is, picked up a second iPhone X, swiped up, and the demo went smoothly from there.

So what happened? Was this a failure of Face ID?

Take a look for yourself. Head over to the Apple keynote page, and jump to about 1:36:00, the moment when all this unfolded.

To me, the key to this moment was the text on the screen. Here’s a screenshot:

Notice the text towards the bottom:

Your passcode is required to enable Face ID

Looks like a logistics issue. Just as you have to enter your passcode to unlock your phone for the first time after restart (to enable Touch ID), you have to do the same for the iPhone X, to enable Face ID.

I suspect no one entered the passcode after the phone was turned on. Not a failure of Face ID, just a simple logistics fumble.

In addition, this moment showed off Craig Federighi’s excellent stage presence. He handled the moment perfectly.

UPDATE: As a number of people have pointed out, if this was a restart issue, the text would have indicated that. Hoping for clarification from Apple on this, will update if we get more info.

September 12, 2017

Apple Support:

Check here to see if your device is compatible.

The Apple Support Twitter feed posted the details of what iOS devices will be compatible with iOS 11.

Apple:

New technologies at the heart of the system make your Mac more reliable, capable, and responsive — and lay the foundation for future innovations. macOS High Sierra also refines the features and apps you use every day. It’s macOS at its highest level yet.

Along with all the other important announcements, Apple quietly posted the release date for High Sierra.

A few thoughts on Apple’s iPhone, Apple TV, and Apple Watch

Before I get to my thoughts on Apple’s newest products announced this morning, I have to talk about the new Apple Park. It’s not very often I am in awe of something, but I’ll tell you, Apple Park is breathtaking.

As I strolled up the walkway towards Steve Jobs Theater, the main ring of Apple Park came into view on my right side—it was spectacular. I’ve seen the pictures and drone footage before, but nothing really prepares you to see it in person.

I felt the same way about Steve Jobs Theater. It’s magnificent in its simplicity and it met every expectation I had when I saw it for the first time.

Okay, let’s get to a few points about the products.

iPhone 8/iPhone X

  • I mentioned on Twitter that I’d be completely happy if the new iPhones added True Tone to their displays. Today, the iPhone 8 and iPhone X have True Tone. This is the technology that allows you to see the screen better in direct sunlight.

  • Portrait Lighting is going to be huge. This gives the average user so much control over how their portraits look, even after the picture has been shot.

  • Wireless charging is another great feature to have on every device. It was interesting that during the presentation they said you could top up your charge whenever you want. I remember years ago they recommended not doing that because a battery only had so many charging cycles before it would give out. I just got into the habit of running my battery low before charging.

  • I wonder if the AirPower mat is something they added to the keynote late, just to have something that wasn’t spoiled by the leaks. It’s interesting that they announced it today but it’s not shipping until next year.

  • Face ID is better than I gave it credit for. I should have known Apple would work out all of the major problems we would have before releasing it.

  • Face ID uses a “TrueDepth camera system made up of a dot projector, infrared camera and flood illuminator.” That’s just incredible. In the demo, it unlocked immediately.

  • The fact it adapts to your physical changes over time is amazing to me.

  • “Face ID only unlocks iPhone X when customers look at it and is designed to prevent spoofing by photos or masks.” Apple went so far as to have masks made to make sure Face ID can’t be fooled. I can’t wait to try this out.

  • Animoji is probably the funniest thing I’ve seen Apple release in a long time. If you’re in my contact list, be prepared!

Apple TV 4K

  • Having an Apple TV with 4K is great. Having it with 4K and HDR is amazing.

  • The main question I had with Apple TV 4K was about content and how Apple would provide content for the system. It’s great to have the hardware, but if you can’t watch anything on it, what’s the point.

  • Apple is going to automatically upgrade HD content you purchased to 4K HDR versions when they become available.

  • They are also working with Amazon and Netflix to bring 4K versions of their programming to Apple TV. Bring on the content.

Apple Watch Series 3

  • Apple Watch is truly an amazing product and one of my favorites.

  • I currently have a playlist of songs on my watch I use with my AirPods when I walk but now I’ll be able to stream Apple Music using the new cellular Apple Watch.

A couple of facts I found interesting about Apple Watch:

  • It is now the most used heart rate monitor in the world.

  • 97% customer satisfaction rating.

  • 50% year-over-year growth

  • What Apple continues to do for people’s health in Apple Watch is inspiring. “Customers can also choose to receive a notification when their heart rate is elevated above a specific threshold while inactive.” Yes please.

These are things that caught my attention while listening to the presentation at Steve Jobs Theater and during my time in the hands-on area afterwards. Of course, each of these devices is faster and more powerful than the previous generation, which makes it better for us to use on a daily basis.

Apple continues to make products that help us live better lives. Whether that’s being more productive, having a bit more fun, communicating, or helping us keep track of our health. This was a good day for Apple and its customers.

“Dear Apple”

Apple has posted a bunch of product videos from today’s announcement but the “Dear Apple” video was especially touching.

It was the first-ever event at the Steve Jobs Theater, a spectacular looking venue.

Upcoming important dates for Apple’s latest products

Apple’s event has wrapped and here is a cheat sheet for what will be available when:

iPhone X – available for pre-order beginning Friday, October 27 in more than 55 countries and territories, and in stores beginning Friday, November 3.

iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus – available for pre-order beginning Friday, September 15 in more than 25 countries and territories, and in stores beginning Friday, September 22.

Apple Watch Series 3 – available in stores starting Friday, September 22.

Apple TV 4K – order both Apple TV 4K models beginning Friday, September 15, with availability beginning Friday, September 22.

Apple has just wrapped today’s event and the link will take you to all of their PR for the products announced today. We’ll have other links to commentary as the day goes on.

Adam Lashinsky, Fortune:

We’re here to put a dent in the universe,” Steve Jobs once famously said. “Otherwise why else even be here?”

And:

For Jobs the dent that he intended for Apple to make in the universe revolved almost totally around creating new products that would change people’s lives. Those products would be gorgeous and useful and fun and surprising, but rarely “good” in and of themselves. Despite a hippie-dippie veneer and earnest marketing, Apple under Jobs was a ruthlessly efficient moneymaker that largely left social programs to others.

I just love that intro. That said, this is an interview with Tim Cook.

Terrific read, lots to process. Way too much to quote out here, but take the time to dig in. Be on the look out for Tim’s comments on how he sees Apple changing the world (products, education, environment, human rights), a discussion of high margins, the Apple economy, health and research, and a lot more.

Cyrus Farivar, Ars Technica:

According to security experts who have reviewed early developer versions of the forthcoming iOS 11, law enforcement will soon have a harder time conducting digital forensic searches of iPhones and iPads.

And:

Prior to this latest version of the firmware, in order for an iOS device to be “trusted” by a computer that it was physically connected to, that device had to be unlocked first via Touch ID or passcode. Next, the device would prompt the user: “Trust This Computer?” Only then could the entire device’s data could be extracted and imaged. Under iOS 11, this sequence has changed to also specifically require the passcode on the device after the “Trust This Computer?” prompt.

While the change may seem minor, the fact that the passcode will be specifically required as the final step before any data can be pulled off the phone means that law enforcement and border agents won’t have as much routine access to fully image a seized device.

Subtle change, interesting.

[H/T, The surreptitiously supercilious Not Jony Ive]

Jean-Louis Gassée, Monday Note:

Imagine the 1 pm Sunday scene with crowded sidewalks and sticky car traffic. In today’s world, pedestrians and drivers manage a peaceful if hiccuping coexistence. Through eye contact, nods, hand signals, and, yes, courteous restraint, pedestrians decide to sometimes forfeit their right-of-way and let a few cars come through. On the whole, drivers are equally patient and polite.

That’s the current picture. But with self-driving cars, what then?

Can we “algorithmicize” eye contact and stuttering restraint? Can an SD car acknowledge a pedestrian’s nod, or negotiate “turning rights” with a conventional vehicle?

No, we can’t. And we don’t appear to have a path to overcome such “mundane” challenges.

Great post by Jean-Louis, per usual. Read the whole thing.