June 28, 2018

On the cover of Van Halen’s 1978 eponymous debut album, Eddie Van Halen thrusts his black-and-white striped instrument towards the camera as if he’s showing you the future. He played this guitar on his unprecedented and mind-blowing instrumental track “Eruption”, hence its nickname, and almost immediately, this monumental instrument became a timeless icon, symbolic of a paradigm shift in guitar-driven rock and roll.

There are three different models of the guitar. One is limited to eight pieces, one 30 pieces and the last one 40 pieces. I want one of these so bad!

Mental Floss:

While it’s hard to beat the experience of seeing a seminal piece of fine art or important historical artifact with your own two eyes, one could easily spend a lifetime traveling the world in search of all of them. Fortunately, the digital age has made it possible—easy, even—to visit some of the world’s most famous museums from the comfort of your own home. Here are a dozen of them.

There’s nothing like actually visiting one of these museums but I like showing the 12-year-old some of the exhibits in the Louvre, Smithsonian, and NASA museums.

NBC News:

The Yard — one of America’s few “adventure playgrounds.” At this one on a former military base just off of the Brooklyn shoreline, children as young as 6 scurry up piles of tires, pull the stuffing out of old office chairs and use tools to create and destroy whatever they wish. No parents are allowed inside.

The Yard is one result of a growing call to expose kids to more risk, a call that has recently played out from online parenting forums to medical journals.

The much-debated question: Can parents’ efforts to protect their children actually hurt them?

I guess because I’m the “new” father, this place would freak me out to send my child into (I’d still do it) but my wife said she wouldn’t have a problem letting him play in this “risky” playground. I certainly agree with her when she says similar things to this article – we protect children too much at times.

At first blush, this might seem like a typical “Apple is doomed” kind of article. There certainly is a bit of that slant.

But this piece goes a lot deeper than that. There is a lot of detail on the construction of the MacBook butterfly keyboard, the difference between the 1.0 and 2.0 revs, and on exactly why these mechanisms fail when they do fail. With pictures.

A few tidbits, from a much longer story:

The basic flaw is that these ultra-thin keys are easily paralyzed by particulate matter. Dust can block the keycap from pressing the switch, or disable the return mechanism. I’ll show you how in a minute.

And:

So you can’t switch key caps. And it gets worse. The keyboard itself can’t simply be swapped out. You can’t even swap out the upper case containing the keyboard on its own. You also have to replace the glued-in battery, trackpad, and speakers at the same time. For Apple’s service team, the entire upper half of the laptop is a single component. That’s why Apple has been charging through the nose and taking forever on these repairs. And that’s why it’s such a big deal—for customers and for shareholders—that Apple is extending the warranty. It’s a damned expensive way to dust a laptop.

And:

Thin may be in, but it has tradeoffs. Ask any Touch Bar owner if they would trade a tenth of a millimeter for a more reliable keyboard. No one who has followed this Apple support document instructing them to shake their laptop at a 75 degree angle and spray their keyboard with air in a precise zig-zag pattern will quibble over a slightly thicker design.

This is design anorexia: making a product slimmer and slimmer at the cost of usefulness, functionality, serviceability, and the environment.

I hope Apple’s next MacBook and MacBook Pro releases learn a lesson from all this. I hope that the next rev of Apple’s laptops are more easily repaired. I just replaced a fan in an old MacBook Air. It cost me $8 for a new fan and took about 10 minutes to do.

This is better on all sorts of levels. I saved money buying an Apple product, I didn’t lose my laptop for a week, and I was able to keep my laptop alive. I realize that last bit goes against a corporate goal of pushing me to buy, buy, buy, but Apple is better than that. They care about the environment, at the cost of maximizing shareholder value. To me, this is another example of that same tradeoff.

Bottom line, I anxiously await the next generation of MacBooks. I want to believe.

biographic:

How is it possible that an animal, any animal, can survive the dead of an Antarctic winter? No food, no shelter; just ice, cold, and wind for more than a hundred days straight. But that’s exactly what emperor penguins (Aptenodytes forsteri) do—not only surviving, but breeding in one of Earth’s most inhospitable environments.

To the casual observer, the birds appear to just stand around on the ice and endure their frigid world. A longer look, though, reveals that penguins often form tight groups, especially when temperatures plummet. This “penguin huddle” appears to be at the core of the birds’ ability to conserve body heat and survive outside temperatures that would kill most other creatures. But exactly how these huddles function and how they subtly change in shape over time to benefit all members of the group has remained a mystery.

The time lapse video of this phenomenon is fascinating.

Tim Hardwick, MacRumors:

Using the Segments feature in the Apple Watch Workout app is a great way to track changes in exercise intensity over the course of a workout. It can also help you find out which activities in a mixed session push your body the most.

If your regular running route includes a hilly section, for example, using segments to indicate where it begins and/or ends lets you review how much time it takes to complete compared to the rest of your workout.

Had no idea you could do this. Terrific idea. For me, this would really help with running or swimming, especially if you are doing laps. Perhaps some day we’ll see machine learning that will automatically detect the lap (when you return to the same exact location?) and break your workout into segments automatically.

UPDATE: As it turns out, AppleWatch already does stroke and lap detection (you can tell I am not a swimmer). Yet another reason to appreciate Apple Watch. Take a look at this AppleWatchTriathlete post for details.

John Gruber:

Google has finally done what they should’ve done initially: let a group of journalists (two groups actually, one on each coast) actually listen to and participate in live Duplex calls.

Journalists from CNN, Ars Technica, The Verge, Wired, and others all got to participate. John does a nice job working through all the different takes, made for a fascinating read.

From the very end:

Right now it feels like a feature in search of a product, but they pitched it as an imminent product at I/O because it made for a stunning demo. (It remains the only thing announced at I/O that anyone is talking about.) If what Google really wanted was just for Google Assistant to be able to make restaurant reservations, they’d be better off building an OpenTable competitor and giving it away to all these small businesses that don’t yet offer online reservations. I’m not holding my breath for Duplex ever to allow anyone to make a reservation at any establishment.

True, but I don’t think that was the point of the demo. My two cents, this was showing off Google’s ability to mimic a human, well enough to pass a primitive Turing test. Being able to make restaurant reservations is more a proof of concept than an end goal.

To me, we’re far more likely to see a product called Google Help Center, the ability to triage 10,000 simultaneous tech support calls, for free, but with the benefit for Google of being able to harvest all the data gleaned from each interactive session.

Jason Snell, Macworld:

You probably already know about Dark Mode and desktop Stacks and Gallery View, but they are just the top-level features in a surprisingly deep update. There are other fun features hiding just beneath the surface.

Here are some of my favorite “hidden” features of the Mojave beta.

Read the post, all good stuff, but this is by far my favorite:

Taking screenshots on the Mac isn’t remotely new, but in Mojave it’s been given a friendly interface, all hiding behind the keyboard shortcut Command-Shift-5.

And:

When you type that shortcut, a floating palette appears that offers you all sorts of options—all of which have been available before, but not in one place. You can grab the entire screen, just a window, or a selection. You can easily change the default folder for saving screenshots, which used to require a trip to the Terminal. You can record video screenshots, which used to require a trip to QuickTime Player. You can take timed screenshots—giving you five or ten seconds to set up the screen exactly as you want it—which was a feature previously available in the venerable Grab utility.

I love this move. The minute you get Mojave installed on your machine (which you’ve carefully backed up), give command-shift-5 a try. Worth it.

Farhad Manjoo, New York Times:

Tech has now captured pretty much all visual capacity. Americans spend three to four hours a day looking at their phones, and about 11 hours a day looking at screens of any kind.

So tech giants are building the beginning of something new: a less insistently visual tech world, a digital landscape that relies on voice assistants, headphones, watches and other wearables to take some pressure off our eyes.

And:

Who will bring us this future? Amazon and Google are clearly big players, but don’t discount the company that got us to Peak Screen in the first place. With advances to the Apple Watch and AirPods headphones, Apple is slowly and almost quietly creating an alternative to its phones.

And:

Screens are insatiable. At a cognitive level, they are voracious vampires for your attention, and as soon as you look at one, you are basically toast.

There are studies that bear this out. One, by a team led by Adrian Ward, a marketing professor at the University of Texas’ business school, found that the mere presence of a smartphone within glancing distance can significantly reduce your cognitive capacity. Your phone is so irresistible that when you can see it, you cannot help but spend a lot of otherwise valuable mental energy trying to not look at it.

And:

By placing interior controls on touch screens rather than tactile knobs and switches, carmakers have made vehicles much more annoying and dangerous to interact with. The Tesla Model 3, the most anticipated car on the planet, takes this to an absurd level. As several reviewers have lamented, just about every one of the car’s controls — including adjustments for the side mirrors — requires access through a screen.

This is a terrific read. One quibble for me is the motivation behind moving from real-world, tactile controls to screens. In my mind, it’s not laziness, it’s cost savings. Replacing a knob with a screen setting saves the cost of the knob, as well as the wiring and harness costs, and saves real estate where that button lived. Not to mention the potential for breakage of a moving part.

Follow the money.

That aside, Farhood makes the case for less screens, like so:

If Apple could only improve Siri, its own voice assistant, the Watch and AirPods could combine to make something new: a mobile computer that is not tied to a huge screen, that lets you get stuff done on the go without the danger of being sucked in. Imagine if, instead of tapping endlessly on apps, you could just tell your AirPods, “Make me dinner reservations at 7” or “Check with my wife’s calendar to see when we can have a date night this week.”

To me, that’s the real takeaway. Less screen time without any loss of functionality.

June 27, 2018

Roughly Drafted:

The Mojave release offers a clear look inside Apple’s strategic thinking and the state of the art in 2018—both in what it aspires to deliver and what it doesn’t even make an attempt to do.

The engineering decisions made for the Mac—alongside iOS 12—will shape the future of technology across the next year for the world’s largest and most successful vendor of premium personal computing and mobile enterprise hardware.

Apple is crafting an integrated hardware and software experience that sells you the product, rather than selling “you, the product,” and the result is a rarified, luxurious experience.

Along with our own look at the public beta, there are a lot of other takes. This one is particularly interesting to me.

Ars Technica:

Roughly two months after its annual I/O conference, Google this week invited Ars and several other journalists to the THEP Thai Restaurant in New York City.

Over the course of the event, we heard several calls, start to finish, handled over a live phone system. To start, a Google rep went around the room and took reservation requirements from the group, things like “What time should the reservation be for?” or “How many people?” Our requirements were punched into a computer, and the phone soon rang. Journalists—err, restaurant employees—could dictate the direction of the call however they so choose. Some put in an effort to confuse Duplex and throw it some curveballs, but this AI worked flawlessly within the very limited scope of a restaurant reservation.

Reading the reports about this demo are very interesting but it also seems pretty clear this is a long way off from being a real product.

Reuters:

Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd on Wednesday settled a seven-year patent dispute over Apple’s allegations that Samsung violated its patents by “slavishly” copying the design of the iPhone.

In May, a U.S. jury awarded Apple $539 million, after Samsung had previously paid Apple $399 million to compensate for patent infringement. Samsung would need to make an additional payment to Apple of nearly $140 million if the verdict was upheld. How much, if anything, Samsung must now pay Apple under Wednesday’s settlement could not immediately be learned.

This puts the lawsuit to bed – until the next time Samsung copies Apple.

How to mark an emoji as a Favorite in macOS and (apparently not in) iOS

Ever since emoji made their way into the iOS keyboard, I’ve long wanted to create and manage my own list of favorites.

One solution is text substitution, which you can set up on your Mac and sync to iOS. This works, but it’s not really the same thing. I want an actual favorites list that appears right in the keyboard alongside the frequently used emoji.

Sidebar: Each time you select an emoji in macOS or iOS, that emoji is automatically added to the frequently used list, but will eventually fall off the end of the fixed-length list, replaced by the more recently used emoji. A favorite list is permanent. Emoji are favorited until you remove them from the list. The point is, there are two different lists: Frequently Used, and Favorites.

This morning, I was messing with the macOS Mojave beta, and I clicked on the Keyboard Preferences icon in the Mac menu bar. One of the choices in that menu is Show Emoji & Symbols.

If you pick that option, the Character Viewer window will appear. If you tap Emoji in the sidebar, a familiar view of all the Apple emoji will appear. If you tap a particular emoji, a large view of that emoji will appear in the upper right corner.

As an example, here’s the big view of the “hat with bow” emoji:

Note the “Add to Favorites” button under the emoji. Press the button, and a new Favorites category will appear in the Character Viewer window, just above Emoji in the sidebar and just below Frequently Used:

This list of favorites will also appear in the popup viewer, which you bring up by typing control-command-space anytime you are in a text-edit field.

Wonderful! But.

As far as I can tell, and I’ve yet to find anyone on Twitter who has a different experience than me, there’s no way to translate this Favorites list to iOS. This seems an obvious next step (apparently, the favorites button has been part of macOS for some time, not new to Mojave) and my hope is that someone at Apple is working on syncing the emoji favorites list created in macOS with iOS.

In a nutshell, once you have macOS Mojave installed:

  • Bring up System Preferences
  • Select Desktop & Screen Saver
  • Click the Desktop tab
  • Find a picture with the dynamic desktop icon (a circle with a parabola in the middle) in the upper left corner. Click to select.

As of beta 2, there is only one dynamic desktop set, the one they demoed in the WWDC keynote. But other people have successfully created their own, and seems likely to me we’ll see more before the final Mojave release.

As always, this is beta software, so backup before you install, then proceed with caution.

Jason Snell:

For a few years now, it’s seemed that any forward movement macOS might make was coming in lockstep with Apple’s other platforms, most notably iOS. What was new to the Mac was generally something that was also new to iOS, or was previously available on iOS.

With macOS Mojave, available today to the general public as a part of a public beta, the story is different. macOS Mojave feels like a macOS update that’s truly about the Mac, extending features that are at the core of the Mac’s identity. At the same time, macOS Mojave represents the end of a long era (of stability or, less charitably, stagnation) and the beginning of a period that could completely redefine what it means to use a Mac.

Is macOS Mojave the latest chapter of an ongoing story, the beginning of a new one, or the end of an old one? It feels very much like the answer is yes and yes and yes.

This is a remarkable walkthrough of the macOS Mojave beta: well written, well organized, and nicely peppered with illustrations and animated GIFs. Terrific job by Jason Snell.

Brian Heater, TechCrunch:

Users who’ve downloaded the smart assistant on iOS will be able to ask the app for assistance starting today. It’s not baked-in natively, of course (turns our Apple’s got a smart assistant of its own it’s pretty fond of), so that interaction requires a tap of the button.

From there, however, you can ask Alexa questions, listen to music, access skills and control smart devices — you know, the standard Alexa fare. Queries like weather, sports, calendar and movies will also offer up a visual component in the app. The update will be rolled out to users in “the coming days” as a free download.

Key to me is the fact that Alexa is playing on Siri’s home turf. Alexa will never have access to the Home button, or to a gesture at the top of the iPhone interface. Same story on Android, where Alexa takes a back seat to Google-person.

Amazon tried to enter the phone market with Fire Phone back in 2014, but (from the Fire Phone Wikipedia page):

The phone received mixed reviews. Critics praised the Dynamic Perspective, Firefly and, to a lesser extent, the packaged headphones, but derided the build, design, Fire OS version of Android, specifications, and exclusivity to AT&T. Amazon did not release sales figures for any of its devices, but based in part on its quickly declining prices and an announced $170 million write-down, analysts have judged it having not been commercially successful. Amazon ceased production of the Fire Phone in August 2015 and discontinued sales soon after.

They’ve since relied on their own in-home devices, to great success, but they’ve conceded the mobile space, forced to hide Alexa in an app.

Will this matter in the long run? I think it will, assuming Siri continues to improve and that Apple matches Amazon’s in-home solutions over time. For example, Amazon has a low priced in home speaker. Apple does not.

Amazon makes a TV box that can be controlled by Alexa, hands-free. AppleTV is a better product, no question, but it does not, out of the box, allow you to use your voice to control your TV.

As an example, once you’ve set up your Fire TV Cube, you can ask Alexa to change the channel, to lower the volume, or go back 2 minutes in the movie, all with your hands immersed in some messy cooking project. HomePod does not yet offer that sort of control.

If and when Siri and HomePod add the capabilities demonstrated by Amazon, I see Amazon’s lack of a phone as an advantage that will tilt the playing field in Apple’s direction.

Variety:

Mark Rober, who is best known for his YouTube videos of spectacular science stunts, has been quietly working as an engineer for Apple’s secretive special projects group, Variety has learned. Rober’s work for Apple includes contributions to the company’s virtual reality projects, with a focus on using VR as on-board entertainment for self-driving cars.

And:

In March, Apple filed a patent application for an “immersive virtual display” as well as one for an “augmented virtual display.” Both describe VR systems that could be used by passengers of self-driving cars, who ostensibly weren’t needed to observe traffic anymore.

To get a sense of Mark’s work, and why Apple would make this move (assuming Variety is correct), check out the video embedded below. Amazing work.

June 26, 2018

First Look: macOS Mojave

Apple released macOS Mojave public beta on Tuesday, but I’ve been using it for about a week now on a 15-inch MacBook Pro. There’s a lot to like about the new operating system, including a few surprises for me.

When Apple announced its new operating systems at WWDC in June, the one thing I was hoping for is that they would focus on performance and fix some of the lingering bugs from the last release. It appears to me that they’ve done just that—the public beta is fast and very stable1 in everything that I’ve been using it for, so far.

Performance isn’t the only thing that changed in Mojave; Apple also gave us some new features. In this release, the new features are ones that we can use every day to make the experience of macOS even better. I would rather have a few great features than any amount of whiz-bang features that are just novelties—you never use those beyond the first week or so anyway.

One of the first features I tried was Dark Mode. I’ll be honest, I didn’t expect to like it, but I do, which was surprising. For me, Dark Mode is one of those sleeper features that you don’t give much thought about until you start using it.

I’ve used Dark Mode in individual apps before and quickly changed back to the regular mode. It just seemed a bit weird and out of place to use on one app, but when the entire operating system is in Dark Mode, it’s a different feeling.

Apple uses multiple shades of black to achieve its Dark Mode, so things like headers and shadows pop just enough to give you a sense of depth on the screen, but that’s not the best part.

It’s a strange thing, but when you look at colors in Dark Mode, it’s almost like you can see them more clearly. Photos or waveforms in audio seem to pop and become a little clearer. Even text or calendar appointments come to the forefront a little bit more. It seems to give you a focus on the content you are working on that wasn’t there before.

You can also use the new Dynamic Desktop that changes to match the time of day in your area. So, in the daytime, the desktop is light, and at night, it is dark.

Dark Mode seems like a small feature, but once you start using it, you won’t go back.

One of the features I knew I was going to love in Mojave is Stacks. My desktop is a mess—it always has been, but Stacks cleans it up for me automatically.

Stacks takes all of those files on your desktop and organizes them into manageable “stacks” of files. You can scrub through the stack to see all of the files, or click on a stack to expand it and show the files.

You can organize your stacks in many ways, including Kind, Date Last Opened, Date Added, Date Modified, Date Created, and Tags. You can change the sorting at any time in the Finder’s View menu.

I went from having files all over my desktop to three stacks: Images, PDF documents, and music.

The new Finder makes it easier to browse and work with files, as well. In the Finder, you can now see full metadata, and you can rotate images, create PDFs, and trim media, all without opening an app. These are straightforward tasks, but it is handy to be able to do some of the simpler things without opening a separate app.

Quick Look has also improved, allowing you to markup PDFs or images, rotate or crop images, and trim audio and video files—again, all without opening a separate app.

Clearly, these features are for quick edits, not for significant changes you need to make to a file, but it still comes in handy in those instances where quickly cropping an image needs to be done before sending it.

The Mac App Store is one app that I’ll be watching very closely when macOS Mojave is released. Apple has done a fantastic job with the iOS App Store by creating compelling content for its users.

The Mac App Store hasn’t changed much in years, but it is now, and it’s a significant change. In addition to the editorial content, the store has an entirely new look and categories for users to find the types of apps they are looking for. The Mac App Store is divided into a number of categories: Discover, Create, Work, Play, and Develop. You can also browse by category, and of course, update apps purchased in store.

One of the things I respect Apple for the most is security and privacy, and in macOS Mojave, the company is doing even more to protect us.

It is incredible the lengths that ad companies will go to in order to track us online. Even with many of the safeguards in place, companies are still able to follow us using a method known as fingerprinting. Basically, the ad companies build a unique profile of our machines to try to identify us, but Apple is putting an end to that in Mojave.

Apple is doing three things to stop the practice of fingerprinting by ad companies:

  • Present a simplified version of your system configuration, so more devices look identical to trackers.
  • Only present the list of built-in fonts, so custom-installed fonts can’t be used as a unique identifier.
  • No longer support legacy plug-ins, so they can’t be used to identify you.

Basically, by doing this, Apple is making everyone’s Mac look the same, so it makes it harder for trackers to identify us as individuals.

Mojave’s Intelligent Tracking Prevention also cuts off another method of tracking us online by blocking the Share, Like, and Comment buttons often used on websites. Even if you don’t interact with the buttons, they can be used to track us, but Apple is blocking their ability to follow us across Web sites. If you want to use the buttons, Safari will ask for permission first.

There are some other great features that I haven’t had a chance to use that much yet, like Continuity Camera, which allows you to add a picture to a Mac document using your iPhone, and the all-new FaceTime.

I’m looking forward to FaceTime. It can accommodate up to 32 participants and its very smart. It can automatically detect the active speaker and make their profile a little more prominent on the screen, so you know who’s talking. FaceTime is going to be a widely used feature.

As I said at the beginning, there is a lot to like about macOS Mojave. The focus on performance, stability, privacy, security, and features that help us in our everyday life will make Mojave a must-have for all users.


  1. Please remember that this is a beta release and there are always some issues with betas. You should only install this release on a machine dedicated to betas. 

The gradient is a powerful design technique, and with great power comes great responsibility. When used improperly, gradients spell out a design disaster. They can muddle a layout, distract the user, and ruin an interface’s entire aesthetic. In this article (with the help of my trusty team of UX designers), we reveal the secret to crafting a gradient that elevates your interface to the next echelon, rather than remind the user of 1997.

It’s so true—a proper gradient is very pleasing, but when done wrong, you just cringe.

AC/DC plays “On Broadway”

Last week, I posted a fantastic AC/DC performance of Highway to Hell. Just great.

But courtesy of friend of The Loop Andrew Leavitt, here’s a performance I might like even better. Just watch.

Scrolling through these images, I just had to laugh. Cleverly uncomfortable design.

Federico Viticci lays out his favorite new iOS 12 shiny. All worth reading, but my favorite:

Previously available only on 3D Touch-enabled iPhones or with a two-finger swipe on the iPad’s keyboard, trackpad mode can be activated in a much easier way in iOS 12: just tap & hold on the space bar until the keyboard becomes a trackpad. This mode (seemingly inspired by Gboard and other custom keyboards with a similar implementation) gives owners of iPhones without 3D Touch a way to more precisely control the cursor in text fields.

This is one of my favorite new features and, to me, feels much more responsive, the cursor much easier to control.

This is a long read, with an accompanying long video. I truly don’t know how Rene Ritchie finds the time to do all this, but he does, and it’s good stuff.

I’d start off by scrolling down, just a bit, to the section titled iOS 12 In Brief. Rene breaks down his review into 12 (cause iOS 12, get it?) key takeaways. Read those, and you’ll have a good sense of what’s coming, can cherry pick your way through the rest of the piece, dive deep into the areas that interest you.

Nice job, Rene.

I’m running the developer betas. My experience is that iOS 12 beta is very solid. I’ve not run into any issues that get in the way. Not crazy about the change to the camera icon in Messages (explained in this tweet), but that’s design, not a beta issue.

As always with beta software, make sure you have a solid backup (in iOS, make sure you archive the backup, so it doesn’t get overwritten) before you make the move.

Here’s the link to Apple’s beta program page.

[VIDEO] Tim Cook speaking at the Fortune CEO Initiative conference on Apple core beliefs, values

Tim Cook weighs in on the idea of a CEO speaking out. Wonderful video, goes right to the heart of Tim’s beliefs and Apple core values.

June 25, 2018

Fortune:

Fortune’s CEO Initiative, an invite-only event that takes place on June 25 and 26 in San Francisco, is devoted to the topic of companies doing well by doing good. The theory is that infusing businesses with a broader purpose can help with recruiting, attracting new customers, and improving corporate images.

You can watch a livestream of mainstage sessions with top executives on this page.

Tim Cook is scheduled for 6:05 PM PT today (Monday).

Vinnie Paul, drummer and founding member of the metal band Pantera, has died, the band announced on Facebook.

“Vincent Paul Abbott aka Vinnie Paul has passed away,” the band said.

So sad. R.I.P brother.

Paul McCartney Carpool Karaoke

This was beautifully done. If you have even the slightest of Beatles fan within, you should take the time to watch.

Paul shows James Corden around Liverpool and they stop at various spots made famous in song, including that barber shop on Penny Lane where “the barber shaves another customer”.

Ah, sweet nostalgia, take me away!

iPhones and USB-C

I came across this Android Central article over the weekend, a discussion about USB-C charging:

Unless you have a Moto Z series phone, none of the cheap adapters you see for sale offer a headphone jack and charging port. None of them. They all may not work with every Moto Z model, either. My advice is to just stay away from them.

This is because of parts of the USB-C specification that are optional. Motorola offers these options, but phones like the Pixel 2 and almost all others do not. It may be possible to define some fancy logic that allows this to happen, but you won’t get it for $12 on eBay or Amazon.

A few weeks ago, a rumor surfaced that Apple would replace the iPhone Lightning port with USB-C. Color me extremely skeptical.

The Lightning spec is consistent and the hardware is reliable (for the most part).

On the USB-C side, things are a bit of a mess. From this take by Android Authority:

Even the seemingly most basic function of USB Type-C — powering devices — has become a mess of compatibility issues, conflicting proprietary standards, and a general lack of consumer information to guide purchasing decisions. The problem is that the features supported by different devices aren’t clear, yet the defining principle of the USB Type-C standard makes consumers think everything should just work.

We’ve seen this issue on the MacBook, though staying with Apple specified adapters works fine. But iPhone adapters are much more of a commodity. Who doesn’t own a 3rd party Lightning cable or adapter for their iPhone? With Lightning, you know it’s iPhone compatible and the bad cables/frauds are sussed out pretty easily.

If Apple replaced Lightning with USB-C on the iPhone, they’d have to ensure that the USB-C standard issues would not become Apple customer support issues.

The Verge ran a review of their favorite phones. Top of the tops, the iPhone X.

Here’s what they had to say:

Apple’s latest iPhone isn’t just the most interesting iPhone in years, but it’s easily the best smartphone ever made. The iPhone X has almost everything you could think to ask for in a smartphone: blazing-fast performance, a gorgeous display, top-of-the-class cameras, loud, clear speakers, reliable battery life, and a head-turning design. In addition, the X is water resistant and can be recharged with a wireless pad. The main thing that most people will miss is a standard headphone jack.

Apple’s extensive support system, through both its own and carrier stores, is another incredibly important point in the iPhone’s favor. There’s simply no other company that provides as much support for a smartphone after you purchase it. On top of that, since it’s an iPhone, the iPhone X enjoys the broadest support of accessories and cases.

Doomed!