June 17, 2016

Good follow up on this morning’s Beijing regulator orders Apple to stop sale of iPhone 6/6+, Apple has right to appeal post:

“IPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus as well as iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus and iPhone SE models are all available for sale today in China,” Apple said in a statement Friday. “We appealed an administrative order from a regional patent tribunal in Beijing last month and as a result the order has been stayed pending review by the Beijing IP Court.”

[H/T Loop reader Lane Watson]

MY thanks to DxO for sponsoring The Loop’s RSS feed this week. The DxO ONE is a miniaturized pro-quality camera that can be used standalone, or attached directly to your iPhone (or iPad) via a patented Lightning connector. When connected, it turns your Retina display into the camera viewfinder and provides full control over aperture, shutter speed, ISO, and more via a companion iOS app. With a large 1” sensor and fast prime lens, the DxO ONE provides 10x the sensitivity of the iPhone camera which allows it to capture gorgeous portraits and stunning low-light images that rival those from a DSLR — only these images can be shared instantly via every service supported by iOS.

Editor’s Note: I’ve been using a DxO ONE for months and love the camera. I take it on every trip I go on to get better pictures.

dxo

CBC:

The final concert of the Tragically Hip’s upcoming summer tour will be broadcast and streamed live on CBC. The Kingston show will begin at 8:30 p.m. ET on August 20th and will be broadcast and streamed — commercial free — on CBC Television, CBC Radio One, CBC Radio 2, cbcmusic.ca and CBC’s YouTube channels.

The Hip are a great Canadian band that, sadly, most Americans have never heard of. If you live near the Canadian border or have access to the CBC feeds, I’d encourage you to watch what will undoubtedly be a bittersweet concert.

Alyssa Bereznak, writing for The Ringer:

You’ve definitely heard an Apple rumor before. Like, maybe there won’t be a headphone jack on the next iPhone? Or that iTunes is getting a major overhaul. Or that Craig Federighi has been seen hotboxing Apple cars on Apple’s forthcoming spaceshipesque Cupertino campus. (I made that one up. That’s allowed, you see, because it’s a rumor.) Today, most every media company — from The New York Times to BGR — traffics in leaked information about upcoming Apple products. They come from “unnamed,” “well-placed,” “reliable” sources who are “familiar with the company’s thinking,” or a blurry factory photo of unknown origin. And rest assured, prior to an Apple event, they will hit a fever pitch. Rumors are every bit as important to piquing interest in the company as its Taylor Swift commercials.

A sardonic look at the Apple rumor industry.

Conrad Stoll:

The App Launcher, or Honeycomb / Home Screen, wasn’t mentioned in the keynote or subsequent discussion about how users interact with Apple Watch. The subtext is clear. I don’t think Apple intends or expects people to interact with their watch by launching apps from the Honeycomb any more than we do.

And:

It’s been clear for several months that complications truly are the best app launchers. That’s why the new ability to easily swipe between watch faces is absolutely game changing for Apple Watch despite not being something I was expecting. Next to the flashy new Dock it’s an easy thing to miss, but I think it will have the biggest impact in how I interact with apps on my Apple Watch.

By far, the biggest change that needed to be made to watchOS is to improve app launch speed/responsiveness and it looks like that has been done. The second change involves the actual application launch process itself. And that’s more of a complication (sorry).

Good take by Conrad Stoll.

[Via MacStories]

Kirk McElhearn:

Apple has released developer previews of iOS 10 and macOS 10.12. There are major changes to Apple Music, and they show up in both iTunes and the Music app on iOS. It’s worth noting that Apple can roll out these changes whenever they want in iTunes; they don’t need to actually update the app. Elements such as the iTunes Store and Apple Music are merely web pages that display in iTunes, so, while the iTunes app hasn’t changed, the new display of Apple Music is visible.

Nice overview, take a look.

Wall Street Journal:

Beijing’s intellectual property regulator has ordered Apple Inc. to stop sales of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in the city, ruling that the design is too similar to a Chinese phone, in another setback for the company in a key overseas market.

It wasn’t immediately clear what impact the order would have. Some mobile-phone stores in the city said they had already stopped selling the two models months ago, switching to newer models. Apple will soon end production of both models, according to a person familiar with the production plans.

The two iPhone models infringe on a Chinese patent for exterior design held by Shenzhen Baili for its 100C smartphone, the Beijing Intellectual Property Bureau wrote in a statement on its website dated May 19.

A bizarre twist, Apple infringing on a Chinese patent, but that’s what’s being reported. Important to note that Apple has the right to appeal (can’t imagine they won’t) and that this ruling applies to the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, and not the current models.

This is relatively short for AnandTech, but solid nonetheless. Don’t miss the second page (here’s a link), which focuses on Photos, a look under the hood, release date and hardware support.

Apple rolls out significant accessibility improvements

Two articles worth reading.

Although niggles remain, Apple’s iOS team has clearly worked very hard to ensure the iPhone and iPad interfaces are truly usable for all. But on tvOS, Reduce Motion does relatively little, and on the Mac, the system does not exist at all.

But, as Craig writes, it looks like Reduce Motion is coming to macOS Sierra.

In iOS 10 there is a new accessibility feature called Magnifier that lets you use the camera as a magnifying glass with a custom UI. The magnifier UI gives you access to the camera flash, and the ability to lock focus and grab a freeze frame. You can also adjust color filters to increase contrast for easier viewing.

Magnifier will no doubt help a lot of people. Good to see Apple still paying attention to accessibility.

June 16, 2016

Hartford Courant:

Josibelk Aponte considers herself lucky. Few people get to meet their guardian angels.

Aponte has a special place in her heart for retired Hartford police detective Peter Getz, who stood with her, beaming as if she were his own child, in the XL Center Tuesday as she graduated magna cum laude from Eastern Connecticut State University.

“There are only a few moments that are so important in life,” Aponte said. “I wanted to share my graduation with everyone who’s important to me, who have been there for me, and who helped me through tough times.”

Getz certainly fits that description: He first crossed paths with Aponte on June 25, 1998, a day the 23-year-old describes as the “best and worst day” of her life.

With all the crap going on in the past week, I thought this story might lighten the load. Now, excuse me. I’ve got something in my eye.

Macworld:

The app that got the most attention during the iOS segment of Monday’s Apple WWDC keynote was Messages, the unassuming text-messaging tool. A lot of people might have been baffled by the strange emphasis on adding animations, sketches, stickers, big emoji, and even third-party app access to an app as inconsequential as Messages.

That sort of thinking is unsurprising: I’d bet that a huge percentage of people in the computer-nerd sphere–including a whole lot of people who work at Apple–don’t think of Messages as anything but boring. Why jazz up something that’s fundamentally so utilitarian?

This is just the beginning for major changes in Messages. Apple will follow in some ways and lead in others but, make no mistake, Messages in many forms will become its own significant platform in Apple’s Services category.

Tim Carmody, writing for Kottke.org:

“Mx.” (pronounced “mix” or “mux”) is a gender-neutral honorific. It’s used by people who don’t want to be identified by gender, whether their gender identity isn’t well-represented by the older forms, or they just don’t want to offer that information or assume it when addressing someone else. “Mx.” was added to Merriam Webster’s unabridged dictionary in April, has begun to be used on official forms in the UK (the Royal Bank of Scotland has been an early adopter), and appeared in two recent stories in the New York Times, once as a preferred honorific for a Barnard College student who doesn’t identify as male or female, and once in a story about “Mx.” itself.

This is fantastic, and personally gratifying. I’ve been writing for most of my life, and battling editors over this sort of thing since the very beginning. For me (and most writers, I think), the issue was the use of he or she when referring to “the user” or someone whose gender is not specified.

My approach was always to use “they” instead of he or she. My editors hated that. They’d red pencil all the theys and I’d dutifully put them all back in. Back and forth. Heated emails, then phone calls. But check my books. They. Not he or she.

Not that Mx. fixes that problem, but it does address a similar issue. And I say, bravx.

They’ve been after this guy for decades. Read his Wikipedia page to get a sense of how long this was in coming.

Sarah Perez, writing for Tech Crunch:

Apple today has made a big change to its suite of native applications for iOS devices, like Mail, Stocks, Compass, Calculator, Watch, Weather and others: it’s now making these available as standalone downloads in the iTunes App Store. What that means for end users of iOS devices is that the majority of the stock apps that come pre-installed can be removed. This puts users in more control of their devices.

Yes: you can now remove the Stocks app from your iPhone, among others.

That might explain Kirk’s problem. But I am still puzzled by the difference between Find My Friends and Stocks pointed out in that post.

One suggestion from reader Robert Gaugl:

Find my Friend was a separate download in older iOS versions. So you downloaded it back then. With iOS 7 (8) Apple implemented it in iOS. It’s not available in the App Store anymore, but it’s still listed in My Apps because you downloaded it back than.

Interesting.

Kirk McElhearn encountered a problem trying to find and update certain iOS apps on his Mac.

To see this for yourself, jump into iTunes on your Mac and do a search for:

Find My Friends

You’ll find no such app, though you will find the app if you search on your own apps, not on the App Store.

But do that same search on your iOS device and you’ll find (or not find, actually) the same thing holds true. The app is on your device, but you can’t find it in the App Store.

Some might suggest that this is due to Find My Friends being a built-in app, but try to find the Stocks app using iTunes. In my setup, Stocks does not show up in iTunes, but it also does not show up in my apps.

Anyone know the logic behind this? If you know, Tweet at me.

UPDATE: See this post.

Walt Mossberg, writing for The Verge, on Apple’s push for AI with privacy and their continued role as a hardware-first company.

On “differencial privacy”:

This works by randomizing local data from each device by injecting it with meaningless “noise,” or nonsense data, so it can’t be traced back to the device’s user. Then, this information is mingled on Apple servers with very large amounts of similarly randomized data from many, many other devices. To further protect individuals, Apple is also imposing a “privacy budget” that will prevent too much data — even when randomized — from getting to the server from any one user.

Even though the data is no longer precise due to the randomization, Apple says it still displays a “slight bias” toward trends that would be valuable for the software to learn, such as new slang words.

You may wonder why Apple didn’t simply use aggregated anonymous data, without jumping through these hoops. But, in fact, anonymous data can, and has, been cracked to reveal certain individual information.

On “hardware first”:

The best example of this was that it again declined to extend its much-loved and much-used iMessage messaging system to Android, even though Google still seems vulnerable in this area. Apple did announce a clutch of new features for iMessage, like giant emojis, and handwritten texts. And it’s turning the service into a true platform that can host third-party apps like cash transfer services, stickers, photo editing, and restaurant reservation apps. But all of this seemed more about keeping people on Apple hardware than about building the biggest possible services.

When I asked a senior Apple executive why iMessage wasn’t being expanded to other platforms, he gave two answers. First, he said, Apple considers its own user base of 1 billion active devices to provide a large enough data set for any possible AI learning the company is working on. And, second, having a superior messaging platform that only worked on Apple devices would help sales of those devices — the company’s classic (and successful) rationale for years.

To me, Apple’s strategy is a tiered class system. SMS text messages are the lowest tier, a common currency. Everyone can send and receive text messages, no matter the platform. SMS is vanilla, no bells and whistles. SMS messages appear in green in the Messages app, a clear signal that they are outsiders in the soothing blue sea of iMessage uniformity.

The iOS 10 beta brings a new tier of messages, with new looks and behaviors. As an example, “bubble effects” allow you to customize the actual delivery of your message with animations that convey a specific mood or meaning. But just as official blue iMessages can’t be sent to Android users, those bubble effects’ messages can only be sent to iOS 10 users.

[As a side note, with this first beta, trying to send a bubble effect to a non iOS 10 device causes the send to fail. I suspect that is purely early beta behavior and that, ultimately, the effect will be stripped and the text itself sent on.]

As Walt points out, this only helps Apple to sell hardware. Want bubble text messages? Buy an iPhone, iPad, or Mac.

Fast Company:

[Monday's] WWDC presentation started with Apple CEO Tim Cook asking for a moment of silence to honor the men and women killed in Sunday’s attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. The keynote ended with Cook’s presentation of Swift Playgrounds, a way for Apple to encourage children to learn how to code. In between, Cook had exactly zero moments on the stage. This was definitely a case of “less is more.” Cook ceded the stage to his team.

And:

Cook’s gravitas and flat delivery serve him well when speaking on matters of moral import. Neither the Orlando tribute nor the Swift Playgrounds presentation came off as mere PR efforts. This seems to have been the keynote where Apple finally gave up on the idea that its CEO must be the center of the presentation. This is surely a relief to Cook, who never wanted to be as much of a showman as his predecessor, Steve Jobs.

To me, there were two standout performances, two presenters who not only looked comfortable under the bright lights, but owned their respective moments.

Bozoma Saint John came from Pepsi, where she ran their music festival/award show sponsorships. Jimmy Iovine convinced her to come to Beats Music just a few months before they were acquired by Apple. And now, Bozoma is head of global consumer marketing for iTunes and Apple Music. She brought a bright, distinctive voice to the WWDC keynote, charismatic and cool, capturing the energy that lives in Beats 1 radio and bringing it to life on the WWDC stage.

The second standout performance came from Apple’s Senior Vice President of Software Engineering, Craig Federighi. Craig first hit the WWDC stage in 2009. Every year, his role became just a bit larger and his stage presence more polished. He’s now arrived, his persona both comfortable and entertaining.

This is the new Apple, Tim Cook’s Apple. The keynote was jam packed, but not overstuffed. The presenters were polished, without the unnecessary fluff and with hardly a stutter. The machine felt oiled and hummed along nicely. First time in a long time. Well done.

June 15, 2016

Apple:

Come join us for an illuminating talk on why we care so deeply about security as a design philosophy central to all our iOS products.

Really interesting WWDC video from Apple’s Head of Security Engineering and Architecture, Ivan Krstic. Thanks to Brian Katz for the link.

Six Colors:

I wear an Apple Watch every day and I can’t tell you how excited I am at the prospect of using watchOS 3. It’s truly Apple’s second take on how the Apple Watch should work, based on a year of real-world use by millions of people.

It’s interesting seeing the commentary on the latest version of the watchOS. Everyone seems to agree it’s going in a better direction. The question I have is will it be enough to get people like me to actually buy an Apple Watch?

Engadget:

Harley-Davidson wasn’t just fooling around when it showed off its electric Project LiveWire motorcycle. In a chat with the Milwaukee Business Journal, the bike maker’s Sean Cummings says that there will be an electric Harley within the next 5 years. That’s 2021, if you want to mark your calendar. He’s not giving any clues as to what this e-bike will entail, but it probably won’t resemble the 2014-era LiveWire.

Having said this, the very fact that Harley is planning a production e-bike is noteworthy.

For the riding community, this is going to be really interesting to watch. Electrics in general are the future and there have been a lot of attempts at electric motorcycles. I’ve test ridden the Zero Electric and it was an interesting experience. But, I’ve gone on record to say I think whatever electric bike Harley introduces will be a failure.

Harley’s customers don’t want electrics. Harley’s customers don’t want “small” bikes. I’ve talked to a lot of Harley riders and potential customers. None of them have any interest in an electric Harley. Low range, low speed, high price and no noise? Non-starter for that crowd. Harley will have a lot of work to convince potential buyers that an electric Harley fits with the company’s brand.

MacStories:

iOS 10 marks the beginning of a new era of iOS in many different ways. With a solid, mature core to build on, Apple is now feeling free to reach out into new areas that it has never before explored with its most popular operating system. We’ll have to wait for real world testing and future betas to see if they’ve truly delivered, but the promises of iOS 10 are some of the most ambitious Apple has ever pursued with “the world’s most advanced mobile operating system.”

So let’s take a look at the features Apple has planned for hundreds of millions of users next Fall.

A typically long but well-written overview with more details of the big new iOS we’ll be getting in the fall.

Fast Company:

This seems to have been the keynote where Apple finally gave up on the idea that its CEO must be the center of the presentation. This is surely a relief to Cook, who never wanted to be as much of a showman as his predecessor, Steve Jobs. Instead of having to anchor everything, Cook bookended a set of surprising presentations by a surprisingly diverse array of executives. There were, of course, the traditional “white techie guys in Silicon Valley garb,” all interchangeable on stage except for Craig Federighi, SVP of software engineering, who has real stage presence. But there was also some racial diversity, there was some female representation, and even—gasp!—an African-American woman, Bozoma Saint John, who was a big, bright moment of energy on the stage.

None of this would be noteworthy, of course, outside of Silicon Valley. But coming from Apple, it was noteworthy indeed. Cook doesn’t sweat the details of a keynote the way Jobs did—no one did, or should—but he is ensuring that Apple projects the diversity he has championed over the years.

I noticed the change as well. Cook bookended the keynote and didn’t appear in the middle. And that’s not a bad thing. For me, it’s always been about what is being presented. I pay little attention to who is doing the presenting.

Ricky Mondello:

When Safari 10 ships this fall, by default, Safari will behave as though common legacy plug-ins on users’ Macs are not installed.

On websites that offer both Flash and HTML5 implementations of content, Safari users will now always experience the modern HTML5 implementation, delivering improved performance and battery life. This policy and its benefits apply equally to all websites; Safari has no built-in list of exceptions. If a website really does require a legacy plug-in, users can explicitly activate it on that website.

If no other reason, I’ll look forward to Safari 10 for this alone.

Matthew Green:

To make a long story short, it sounds like Apple is going to be collecting a lot more data from your phone. They’re mainly doing this to make their services better, not to collect individual users’ usage habits. To guarantee this, Apple intends to apply sophisticated statistical techniques to ensure that this aggregate data — the statistical functions it computes over all your information — don’t leak your individual contributions. In principle this sounds pretty good. But of course, the devil is always in the details.

While we don’t have those details, this seems like a good time to at least talk a bit about what Differential Privacy is, how it can be achieved, and what it could mean for Apple — and for your iPhone.

I know less than nothing about this stuff so I’ve been reading as much as I can about it. Green is a cryptographer and professor at Johns Hopkins University and writes about this subject fairly clearly.

June 14, 2016

Billboard:

Twelve months of Apple Music have brought the service 15 million paid subscribers and, for its architects, a sense of optimistic, if slightly cautious, calm. Or so it looked at the Apple Worldwide Developers’ Conference on Monday afternoon, where Apple senior vice president of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue, ‎vice president of Content and Media Apps Robert Kondrk, Nine Inch Nails frontman and Apple Music Chief Creative Officer Trent Reznor and the still title-less Jimmy Iovine gathered for a talk with Billboard.

Anything good and bad about Apple Music lays at the feet of these people. So when they talk about the issues involved, it’s always an interesting discussion.

Petapixel:

It turns out Apple snuck a big photography announcement into the background of the WWDC presentation yesterday: RAW photo editing is coming to iOS 10.

The feature was hidden in the background among the many other listed improvements for developers in the next version of iOS, but since Apple didn’t call it out by name during the presentation, it went largely unnoticed.

This is a big deal to professional shooters and anyone who shoots in RAW but edits on their iOS device. It will also bring a lot of changes to apps in iOS that allow you to edit photos. And it means that, undoubtedly, RAW capture will be available in the next version of the iPhone and iPad.

June 13, 2016

Apple:

(these) apps “set a benchmark for excellence” in “usability, excellence in design, excellence in innovation, and excellence in technology adoption.”

I love these awards because many showcase just how gorgeous apps can be.

Wired:

Federighi’s emphasis on differential privacy likely means Apple is actually sending more of your data than ever off of your device to its servers for analysis, just as Google and Facebook and every other data-hungry tech firm does. But Federighi implies that Apple is only transmitting that data in a transformed, differentially private form.

Privacy advocates are really poring over this but so far, it sounds like Apple has found an interesting solution to the conundrum of wanting access to more data but not identifying customers from that data.

Apple:

At WWDC we made lots of major announcements. iOS 10 is our biggest release yet, with incredible features in Messages and an all-new design for Maps, Photos, and Apple Music. With macOS Sierra, Siri makes its debut on your desktop and Apple Pay comes to the web. The latest watchOS offers easier navigation and a big boost in performance. And the updated tvOS brings expanded Siri searches.

That was quick.

Macworld:

Apple revealed a lot of new features from iOS 10 and macOS Sierra at Monday’s WWDC keynote. The final versions of each operating system won’t be available until the fall, and developers are the only folks who can try out them out right now.

But in July, Apple will release betas of iOS 10 and macOS Sierra to the general public. If you’re game for running a beta operating system, you can get your hands on the software by joining the Apple Beta Software Program.

If you’re not a developer and just can’t wait until the Fall to get your hands on the latest Apple operating systems, here’s how to grab the public betas in July. It should go without saying that you shouldn’t install these on a daily work machine and you shouldn’t install them without having a very recent backup. And if you do, please don’t bitch at developers when some of your apps stop working.