January 25, 2022

Rene Ritchie:

Lightning has pretty much been stuck at USB2’s half a gigabit per second, since… 2012.

And:

You can now record the highest quality video of any phone on the planet, you just can’t get it off any faster than the cheapest phone on the block.

That’s the speed issue, an issue (as Rene points out) that impacts a small subset of iPhone users. But combine that with an issue that impacts a huge number of iPhone users (anyone with, say, a modern iPad): That blasted need for two different cables, Lightning for your iPhone, USB-C for your iPad.

Rene does a nice job laying all this out (watch the video embedded below). As usual, a firehose of detail, but easy to follow, especially with the edited for clarity transcript in the linked post, if reading is more your style.

Tim Hardwick:

Every once in a while even Apple gets it wrong, and a tech company’s coherent rationale for the way a product should be designed can translate into end-user irritation, or even a customer’s personal hell. Here we take a look back at a handful of Apple’s most questionable design decisions in recent memory.

Pretty good list. No doubt every one of these products have love out there. But the flaws are hard to argue with.

It’d be interesting to see such a list with shake-your-head software design decisions.

Luke Plunkett, Kotaku:

Unpacking was one of the best games of 2021, to the point where it didn’t just make my personal GOTY list, but the entire site’s as well. It is currently available on PC, Mac, Switch and Xbox One. It is most definitely not available on Apple’s iOS devices.

And yet! Earlier today the top free download on the App Store, outranking even YouTube, Tik-Tok and Instagram, was a game called Unpacking Master (it has since slipped back down the charts) which, as you may have guessed from the pricepoint and platform, is not just inspired by Unpacking, but is a criminally shameless clone of it.

Shameless cloning, with enough of an effort to get the copying good enough to fool anyone familiar with the game into thinking this was the real deal.

But it’s not:

To Apple’s credit, the game appears to be gone from the App Store. Unlike a subscription scam app, which Apple might be able to detect by digging through and taking a closer look at any apps with a high subscription price, this was a free app, making its money from advertising.

Unless the App Store reviewer was familiar with the original game, how could they have detected a clone like this? Clearly, App Store folks are paying attention to the tech press/social media.

Side note: As I write this, other games from the same developer are still up on the App Store.

Bloomberg:

Nvidia has told partners that it doesn’t expect the transaction to close, according to one person, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private. SoftBank, meanwhile, is stepping up preparations for an Arm initial public offering as an alternative to the Nvidia takeover, another person said.

And:

The purchase — poised to become the biggest semiconductor deal in history when it was announced in September 2020 — has drawn a fierce backlash from regulators and the chip industry, including Arm’s own customers. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission sued to stop the transaction in December, arguing that Nvidia would become too powerful if it gained control over Arm’s chip designs.

And:

SoftBank and Arm are entitled to keep $2 billion Nvidia paid at signing, including a $1.25 billion breakup fee, whether the deal goes through or not.

Apple’s good either way, as long as they can keep their chip design talent on board.

Amazing rise for Nvidia, going from a graphics card maker to the second most valuable chipmaker on the planet, behind only TSMC, with a market cap of $582 billion.

January 24, 2022

BBEdit 14, the power tool for text, adds Notes, more [Sponsor]

BBEdit 14 is out and has added a new “Notes” feature, which provides a large variety of ways to create notes that automatically save themselves, and, perhaps more important, automatically title themselves so that you don’t end up wondering which of your 305 “untitled text” documents is the one you’re looking for.

BBEdit 14 enables several new features and significant improvements to its built-in coding aids for developers, including:

  • Enhanced language-specific text completions;
  • Improved Find Definition;
  • Assistance for specifying function parameters;
  • New code-navigation features;
  • In-window highlighting of syntax and semantic issues;
  • Language-specific document reformatting.

These feature improvements are the result of new built-in support for the Language Server Protocol (“LSP”) by which user-installed local “language servers” implement key language-sensitive behaviors.

The perfect Apple TV+ commercial

I’m a big Jon Hamm fan. Great comic timing, self deprecating to a fault.

The new Apple TV+ ad (embedded below) had to have been written with him in mind. He hits all the right marks, lets Apple brag about the array of stars they’ve brought to Apple TV+ without seeming to brag.

And the entire time, he never says the words Apple TV+, or even Apple TV. Just Apple. Perfect.

Tom Simonite, Wired:

In August, chipmaker Intel revealed new details about its plan to build a “mega-fab” on US soil, a $100 billion factory where 10,000 workers will make a new generation of powerful processors studded with billions of transistors. The same month, 22-year-old Sam Zeloof announced his own semiconductor milestone. It was achieved alone in his family’s New Jersey garage, about 30 miles from where the first transistor was made at Bell Labs in 1947.

With a collection of salvaged and homemade equipment, Zeloof produced a chip with 1,200 transistors. He had sliced up wafers of silicon, patterned them with microscopic designs using ultraviolet light, and dunked them in acid by hand.

Check out Zeloof’s blog, where he documents the process.

Imagine trying to do what Sam is doing, trying to learn how the magic is done, by going back in time to when chip fabrication was much simpler, and garage-achievable.

My two cents: Apple, invest in this kid. Fund him so he can climb the ladder to more sophisticated equipment, give him access to your engineers for advice/guidance. Help him bring on other engineers so they can form a sort of farm team you can bring along to the majors as they progress.

This kid’s got some future!

William Gallagher, AppleInsider:

Picture the scene. You’re sitting on a park bench, listening to Francisca Valenzuela Essentials on Apple Music over your AirPods Pro, when a man in a dark overcoat sits next to you. He says quietly, “the weather is very cold in Leningrad,” — but you don’t hear him because you’ve got noise cancelling on.

Or you’re at home, it’s your partner’s turn to cook and he or she has been yelling “dinner’s ready” for ten minutes, but you don’t hear that either. You only hear the music in your AirPods.

And:

“Interrupt for noise-cancelling audio devices,” is a newly revealed Apple patent application that aims to work around this.

And:

Apple proposes that when it’s the iPhone that is producing the music that an AirPods user is listening to, that iPhone listens out for external noise. “[It performs] at least a first level of identification (e.g., of a spoken name of the user, or of the contact as one of several interrupt-authorized contacts) of the voice at the audio device,” says Apple.

This is a patent. Not a product. But still, I do love the concept. Key is to be able to limit who can turn off your noise cancelation, if you want to limit that.

Apple shares “The Comeback” — Shot on iPhone 13 Pro video for Chinese New Year

Apple:

Kick off the Year of the Tiger with the story of a father, a son and a forgotten village with an out-of-this-world dream. Apple and director Zhang Meng present their latest Chinese New Year film “The Comeback”.

Pretty good story, some great practical effects. Don’t miss the “making of” video embedded below. I’d definitely watch them in order, the bigger the screen the better, makes the subtitles easier to read.

January 21, 2022

The Dalrymple Report: Ridley Scott, App Store, CarPlay

This week, Dave and I talk about Ridley Scott’s reaction when he was asked to direct Apple’s famous “1984” TV commercial. We also talk about a new bill in Illinois that would allow developers to skirt Apple’s payment system, and we have an update on Dave’s CarPlay experience.

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January 20, 2022

Steve Jobs demoing podcasts in 2005

Jump to 16:57 in (assuming it doesn’t start there automatically), where Steve Jobs talks about this new thing called podcasting. He’s in rare form here. Very interesting to watch.

Juli Clover:

As outlined by Arizona news site WGEM, under the Freedom to Describe Directly Act, distribution platforms like the App Store and Google Play would not be able to force Illinois developers to use a “particular in-application payment system” as the exclusive mode for accepting payments, nor would they be able to retaliate against developers who opt to use an alternate payment option.

And:

North Dakota, Arizona, and Minnesota have all attempted to get around in-app purchase rules by passing bills, but Apple and Google lobbied hard against them.

And:

Apple’s chief compliance officer Kyle Andeer said that Arizona’s bill was a “government mandate that Apple give away the ‌App Store‌,” and Apple’s Chief Privacy Engineer Erik Neuenschwander said that the North Dakota’s bill threatened to “destroy the iPhone as you know it.”

As Apple’s Kyle Andeer implied, all it takes is one of these bills to pass to change everything. After all, how could Apple prevent someone in Illinois (or any specific locale) from breaking such a law? And no developer is going to want to have to write code that runs one way in Illinois, another everywhere else.

Apple:

Apple TV+ today unveiled the teaser trailer and premiere date for “WeCrashed,” a highly anticipated new limited series from Lee Eisenberg and Drew Crevello, based on the hit Wondery podcast “WeCrashed: The Rise and Fall of WeWork” and starring Academy Award and SAG Award winners Jared Leto and Anne Hathaway.

And:

The series is inspired by actual events — and the love story at the center of it all. WeWork grew from a single coworking space into a global brand worth $47 billion in under a decade. Then, in less than a year, its value plummeted. What happened?

Wonder how long “Academy Award winner” will continue to be a big selling point for a series. Oscar viewing is sliding, so many other awards sucking attention away. Presumably, Oscar winners add a lot to the cast budget. Worth it?

No matter. Looking forward to this. First episode drops March 18th. Eight episodes and done. Trailer embedded below.

Teaser trailer for Amazon’s coming series Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power

Amazon:

Amazon Studios’ forthcoming series brings to screens for the very first time the heroic legends of the fabled Second Age of Middle-earth’s history. This epic drama is set thousands of years before the events of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and will take viewers back to an era in which great powers were forged, kingdoms rose to glory and fell to ruin, unlikely heroes were tested, hope hung by the finest of threads, and the greatest villain that ever flowed from Tolkien’s pen threatened to cover all the world in darkness.

Beginning in a time of relative peace, the series follows an ensemble cast of characters, both familiar and new, as they confront the long-feared re-emergence of evil to Middle-earth. From the darkest depths of the Misty Mountains, to the majestic forests of the elf-capital of Lindon, to the breathtaking island kingdom of Númenor, to the furthest reaches of the map, these kingdoms and characters will carve out legacies that live on long after they are gone.

The most expensive series ever made, Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power series is scheduled to launch September 2nd. Takes place before the Peter Jackson movie series. Filmed in New Zealand. Entire first season wrapped filming last summer.

Check out the trailer below. A teaser, just a bit of moody voice over, but exciting to me nonetheless.

And don’t miss this article (H/T Matt Londre) about the making of this trailer using practical effects and real fire.

January 19, 2022

Sami Fathi, MacRumors:

Apple is now requiring that customers in the United States verify that they’re active students, teachers, or staff members at an educational institution in order to access education discounts on products.

It used to be that if you wanted to buy from Apple at the discounted education rate, you had to show proof that you were a student, teacher, etc. Back in the day, this often meant faxing in a copy of your most recent grades or some other proof of enrollment.

Things definitely got lax. Like streaming services ignoring multiple simultaneous logins from the same account.

Ah well, nice while it lasted.

So how will Apple verify your good educational standing? Like so:

Apple in the United States now requires that current students, teachers, and staff members verify their eligibility for education discounts through UNiDAYS. UNiDAYS is a website specialized in providing education customers with discounts for products and services by confirming their enrollment in an educational institution.

Here’s the link to the UNiDAYS site. Tap the Technology tab for the path to Apple gear.

Marina Koren, The Atlantic:

Kelly Korreck is still thinking about the time her spacecraft flew into the sun, how one moment, the probe was rushing through a stormy current of fast-moving particles, and the next, it was plunging somewhere quieter, where the plasma rolled like ocean waves. No machine had ever crossed that mysterious boundary before. But Korreck and her team had dispatched a mission for that exact purpose, and their plan worked. For the first time in history, a spacecraft had entered the sun’s atmosphere.

This is an amazing story about an astonishing feat. NASA’s Parker Probe dove into the sun last April and lived to tell the tale.

Just wow.

Apple TV+ shares trailer for “Severance”

This looks terrific. First episode drops February 18th. Looks like Severance is already picked up for a second season. Great cast.

Reminder set.

Tutanota (via Hacker News):

Max Schrems, the lawyer who successfully sued Facebook for privacy violations against European citizens, has scored another victory, this time against Google: In a landmark court ruling, Austria’s data protection authority has found that Google Analytics is illegal to use on European websites.

As to how this came about:

On August 14, 2020, a Google user had accessed an Austrian website about health issues. This website used Google Analytics, and data about the user was transmitted to Google. Based on this data, Google was able to deduce who he or she was.

On August 18, 2020, the Google user complained to the Austrian data protection authority with the help of the data protection organization NOYB.

And:

Google is “subject to surveillance by US intelligence services and can be ordered to disclose data of European citizens to them”. Therefore, the data of European citizens may not be transferred across the Atlantic.

Lots of changes happening around the world, both for and to the detriment of privacy.

January 18, 2022

Hollywood Reporter:

Given Scott’s steady productivity and workmanlike approach over a 45-year film career, it’s easy to forget that he is responsible for a remarkable string of culture-defining movies, from genre groundbreakers like Alien and Blade Runner to the intimate female buddy picture Thelma & Louise, to epics like Black Hawk Down, Gladiator and The Martian.

And, of course, that groundbreaking 1984 ad that introduced the Macintosh to the world (embedded below).

My absolute favorite bit from the linked interview:

His most famous ad is Apple’s 1984 Super Bowl spot introducing the Macintosh computer, regarded as one of the most influential ads of all time. When the agency, Chiat/Day, pitched Ridley on directing a spot for Apple, he thought they were talking about The Beatles. “They said, ‘No, no, no. Apple is this guy called Steve Jobs.’ I went, ‘Who the fuck is Steve Jobs?’

Who, indeed. Love this.

Mark Gurman, Bloomberg:

The names of future Apple devices are some of the company’s most closely guarded secrets, but history and some guesswork could indicate what Apple will call its first virtual and augmented reality headset.

iPod, iPhone, iPad, all reasonably on brand. Apple Watch? AirPods? Clearly, the brand is expanding, becoming less predictable.

Mark’s guesses at names for Apple’s rumored glasses:

  • Apple Vision
  • Apple Reality
  • Apple Sight/iSight
  • Apple Lens
  • Apple Goggles
  • Apple AR, Apple VR, Apple XR, Apple MR or Apple SR

None of these really grab me. I’d bet on Apple Glass(es) or something with a tie-in to existing branding, like Apple AirGlass or iGlass.

No matter, an interesting read, and a topic I find most interesting.

Wall Street Journal:

Microsoft Corp. agreed to buy Activision Blizzard Inc. in an all-cash deal valued at $68.7 billion, using its largest acquisition by far to grab a videogame heavyweight that has been roiled by claims of workplace misconduct.

And:

The deal, if completed, would sharply expand Microsoft’s already sizable videogame operation, adding a stable of popular game franchises including Call of Duty, World of Warcraft and Candy Crush to Microsoft’s Xbox console business and its own games like Minecraft and Doom. Microsoft said the transaction would make it the world’s third-largest gaming company by revenue, behind China’s Tencent Holdings Ltd. and Japan’s Sony Group Corp.

And:

Shares in Activision had been down nearly 30% since California regulators filed a lawsuit against the company in July alleging sexual harassment and gender pay disparity among the company’s roughly 10,000 employees.

And:

Microsoft said in its announcement that Bobby Kotick would remain as Activision’s CEO following the deal, and report to Microsoft gaming chief Phil Spencer.

From Microsoft’s press release:

Mobile is the largest segment in gaming, with nearly 95% of all players globally enjoying games on mobile. Through great teams and great technology, Microsoft and Activision Blizzard will empower players to enjoy the most-immersive franchises, like “Halo” and “Warcraft,” virtually anywhere they want. And with games like “Candy Crush,” Activision Blizzard´s mobile business represents a significant presence and opportunity for Microsoft in this fast-growing segment.

Huge move. Did the cultural problems drive the price down so much that Microsoft felt the headache worth the long term gains?

David Nield, Wired:

If you pay for iCloud storage, then you automatically have access to the extra perks that Apple bundles together under the iCloud+ name—and one of those perks is the iCloud Private Relay service.

And:

If you open the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad, tap your name at the top, and then choose iCloud, you should be able to access a Private Relay (Beta) toggle switch that you can turn on or off. It’s also under Apple ID and iCloud in System Preferences on macOS. However there’s not a huge amount of information alongside the switch telling you what it is and how it works.

Been using Private Relay for so long, I completely forgot that it was still in beta.

This is a pretty good read. Lots of interesting detail. A few snippets:

When iCloud Private Relay is enabled, you’ve got two choices when it comes to IP addresses. You can carry on reporting your general location (which city you’re closest to, more or less)—so that local data such as a weather forecast still shows up correctly—or you can go vaguer and only report your country and time zone to websites that request it.

And:

iCloud Private Relay also keeps your DNS (Domain Name System) queries secret—essentially, the websites you’re looking up on your device. As with IP addresses, this data can be used to create a profile of who you are and what you’re interested in, which in turn can be sold to advertisers. With iCloud Private Relay enabled, this is much harder for companies to do.

And:

It only functions through the Apple Safari browser on your iPhone or iPad, so it doesn’t apply to any browsing you’re doing through an alternative mobile browser. It applies to data sent through apps, but only data that is unencrypted, and works across cellular networks as well as Wi-Fi.

If you do go down this road, worth running a speed test with Private Relay on and then off, comparing the results. Here’s my test.

January 14, 2022

The Dalrymple Report: Apple’s Revolutionary products and iMessage

This week Dave and I talk about Apple’s most revolutionary products and how each one transformed the company. As you might expect, we do have some disagreements on which products go on that list. We also talk about iMessage and how people view the blue vs. green bubbles in chat. App Store rip-offs round out the big topics this week.

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January 13, 2022

Malcolm Owen, AppleInsider:

The concept of smart glasses runs into a problem when it comes to people who normally wear glasses to see. Those who can wear contact lenses could feasibly use a typical smart glasses setup without too much issue, but those who have to wear glasses can end up in trouble.

This is all conjecture, of course, since we don’t actually know if Apple has glasses in the works and, if they do, what form factor they will take.

But the linked article is an interesting read, with discussion of actual Apple patents that would make sense if prescription-tunable lenses are in the works.

And if that is the case, it raises the possibility of Apple glasses being a product that would be useful without any internet connectivity at all. Imagine having adjustable lenses for your glasses, able to zoom in on something that would normally be beyond your range of vision, for example.

Or switching between far view and detailed close up view, sort of like bifocals or progressive lenses, but with a full field of view and the ability to change on command. Need to read a far away street sign? No problem. Thread a needle? No problem. Same lenses, just a Siri command away.

Yeah, I get it, I’m dreaming. But still, that’d be very cool.

Apple:

Today the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards announced that Apple TV+ has been recognized with 12 SAG Award nominations across Apple Original films and series including “CODA,” “The Tragedy of Macbeth,” “Ted Lasso” and “The Morning Show.”

The winners will be announced Sunday, February 27th.

More success for Apple TV+.

A thought exercise: Think about how many series/movies Apple TV+ has. Come up with a ballpark count. Then follow this link and start scrolling. Surprising, yeah?

Juli Clover, MacRumors:

Apple in November settled a long-running lawsuit over employee bag checks, with the Cupertino company agreeing to pay $29.9 million to employees who were subjected to off-the-clock bag searches, and now details about the settlement are available on Apple’s website.

And:

California employees first sued Apple in 2013, and in 2015, the case escalated into a class action lawsuit. Employees claimed that Apple subjected them to mandatory bag checks that were “embarrassing and demeaning,” with those checks conducted after the end of a shift, causing employees to stay at work an extra 10 to 15 minutes.

Most importantly:

The bag search policy has been long discontinued and Apple has not conducted bag searches since 2015.

Here’s a link to the new Apple web page dedicated to the settlement.

January 12, 2022

John Gruber, Daring Fireball:

As of today, Apple’s App Store is lousy with Wordle rip-offs. I mean not just the concept — there’s a long history of “guess the word” games, including a defunct game show called “Lingo” that was clearly an inspiration for Wordle — but literally the name “Wordle” and its design.

If you’ve never played Wordle, take a minute and check out Josh Wardle’s totally free web hosted game.

Wordle is fun, addictive, but limited to once per day play, a feature that makes it all the more attractive.

Back to Gruber:

As I write this, the #3, #7, #14, and #15 word games in the iOS App Store are shameless Wordle clones stealing the name “Wordle”.

As John notes, Apple responded to the Twitter wave of anger by pulling all the Wordle ripoffs. Read Gruber’s post for more details on this shameless cash grab.

One interesting side note is that Josh Wardle apparently didn’t trademark the name or the game play. He also chose to avoid the whole profit issue by making the game free to play, at least for the moment. An old school passion project, ripe for the opportunistic developer to take advantage of.

Did these ripoffs break any laws, fun afoul of specific App Store rules? If not, was it purely the outrage that drove Apple to take these apps down?

Follow the headline link, pick a city from the list (upper-right), sound on.

Don’t miss the walking speed, and street noise controls. And there’s a volume slider for a local radio station, too.

Apple shares trailer for new Apple TV+ series “Suspicion”

The series drops starting February 4th. I’ve definitely added this one to my watch list. Has a bit of a “Defending Jacob” vibe, an early Apple TV+ series I loved.

Sarah Perez, TechCrunch:

At the high end of consumer spending, there were 233 apps and games that pulled in more than $100 million in 2021, and 13 titles that generated over $1 billion. This is up 20% from 2020, when there were then 193 apps and games topping the $100 million mark, and only 8 titles making over $1 billion annually.

This is mind-blowing. And you have to wonder how much incentive Apple has to chase down apps like this one: