June 20, 2019

AppleInsider:

Apple has reached out to Robert Lighthizer, the official U.S. Trade representative, and asked that tariffs not be imposed upon imported products from China. The tariffs would effect all of Apple’s major products according to the letter, including iPhone, iPad, Mac, AirPods, and Apple TV, as well as parts used to repair devices within the US.

“The Chinese producers we compete with in global markets do not have a significant presence in the U.S. market, and so would not be impacted by U.S. tariffs. Neither would our other major non-U.S. competitors,” said Apple. “A U.S. tariff would, therefore, tilt the playing field in favor of our global competitors.”

This letter will likely have no affect on the administration’s decision to impose these tariffs.

Apple:

Apple has determined that, in a limited number of older generation 15-inch MacBook Pro units, the battery may overheat and pose a fire safety risk. Affected units were sold primarily between September 2015 and February 2017 and product eligibility is determined by the product serial number.

Customer safety is always Apple’s top priority, and we have voluntarily decided to replace affected batteries, free of charge.

The page details how to check if your MacBook Pro is affected and what to do next.

Macworld:

Apple on Thursday announced that Adobe Lightroom is now available in the Mac App Store. An app for creative professionals who work in photography, Lightroom comes with a full set of tools for managing thousands upon thousands of photos, as well as editing tools for retouching and fine-tuning.

There’s no difference between the MAS version of Lightroom and Adobe’s version that you get directly from the company; the features are the same. Like the Adobe-sold version, the MAS version is sold as subscription-based software after a 7-day free trial. After that, it’s $9.99 per month, which puts you in Adobe’s Lightroom plan that includes 1TB of Creative Cloud file storage and access to the mobile and web versions of Lightroom.

Cue the inevitable complains about Adobe’s subscription plans.

CNET:

At WWDC 2019 earlier this month, Apple announced Project Catalyst, which streamlines the process for all software makers to bring their own iOS apps to Mac. In an interview with CNET at WWDC, Apple software chief Craig Federighi confirmed that the four iOS apps for Mac released last year will get major updates based on the new technology in Project Catalyst. But he also revealed that the apps will get new designs to make them more Mac-like.

They are not yet in the developer betas but Federighi said they’ll be updated for the public beta.

How to factory reset your GE light bulbs. Just watch.

This one has been flying around Twitter. This can’t be real, I thought. But apparently it is.

Can you imagine Apple shipping this product? Yikes.

This is a great how-to, with detailed screenshots. Save this one, for when you move your iPad to iOS 13.

Washington Post:

New research in biomechanics suggests that young people are developing hornlike spikes at the back of their skulls — bone spurs caused by the forward tilt of the head, which shifts weight from the spine to the muscles at the back of the head, causing bone growth in the connecting tendons and ligaments. The weight transfer that causes the buildup can be compared to the way the skin thickens into a callus as a response to pressure or abrasion.

The result is a hook or hornlike feature jutting out from the skull, just above the neck.

If you don’t have access to the article (and I find the Washington Post a no-brainer value, worth my subscription dollar), here’s a link to the original study, which shows X-rays of said horns. Crazy.

Neil Cybart, laying out Apple’s pre-2018 “pull” strategy:

One way of conceptualizing this product strategy is to think of every major Apple product category being attached to a rope. The order in which these products were attached to the rope was determined by the degree to which technology was made more personal via new workflows and processes for getting work done. Accordingly, Apple Watch and iPhone were located on the end of the rope held by Apple management. Meanwhile, Mac desktops were located at the other end of the rope while iPads and Mac portables were somewhere in the middle.

As Apple management pulled on the rope, the Apple Watch and iPhone received much of the attention while the Mac increasingly resembled dead weight.

And:

The quicker Apple pulled on the rope, the more chaotic the end of the rope moved.

But that seems to be changing:

Over the past two years, we received clues that a major change was beginning to take hold in Apple’s product strategy. This change was on display during this year’s WWDC.

And:

Apple no longer appears to be relying so much on a pull system when it comes to advancing its product line. Instead, a push system is being utilized, and every major product category is being pushed forward simultaneously. The change was designed to reduce the amount of chaos found at the end of the “rope” that Apple was pulling. Accordingly, the primary benefactors arising from this new strategy are the iPad and Mac. This explains why this year’s WWDC announcements felt more overwhelming than those of previous years. Apple was able to move its entire product category forward at the same time.

Not sure I agree with the “push vs pull” label, but I do agree with the basic point. There does appear to be an overall change in Apple’s strategy, much more of a focus on the health of the overall ecosystem, rather than a focus on the new hotness, with older products gathering dust.

To me (as I’ve found myself saying again and again lately), Apple is firing on all cylinders. Great detailed read.

Andy Greenberg, Wired:

…an escalating pattern of fraud based on so-called SIM swap attacks, where hackers trick or bribe a phone company employee into switching the SIM card associated with a victim’s phone number. The attackers then use that hijacked number to take over banking or other online accounts. According to Tenreiro, the bank had seen more than 17 SIM swap frauds every month. The problem was only getting worse.

And:

SIM swap hackers rely on intercepting a one-time password sent by text after stealing a victim’s banking credentials, or by using the phone number as a password reset fallback. So the phone company, Tenreiro says, offered a straightforward fix: The carrier would set up a system to let the bank query phone records for any recent SIM swaps associated with a bank account before they carried out a money transfer. If a SIM swap had occurred in, say, the last two or three days, the transfer would be blocked. Because SIM swap victims can typically see within minutes that their phone has been disabled, that window of time let them report the crime before fraudsters could take advantage.

I recognize that this is a game of whack-a-mole, where one security hole is plugged and another one is discovered. But this seems a pretty solid solution.

By August of 2018, Mozambique’s largest bank was performing SIM swap checks with all the major carriers. “It reduced their SIM swap fraud to nearly zero overnight.”

Why is the US not following in Mozambique’s SIM-securing footsteps?

CTIA vice president for technology and cybersecurity John Marinho argued that while US carriers may not offer real-time SIM swap checks, that’s in part because the US has other protections, like geolocation checks based on banks’ mobile applications installed on smartphones, and two-factor authentication. (The latter, of course, is exactly the security measure SIM swaps attempt to circumvent.)

Fascinating read.

[H/T @Varunorcv]

Malcolm Owen, AppleInsider:

In its Global Games Market Report, Newzoo outlined the top 35 public companies connected with gaming, with Apple firmly seated in the top five firms, beaten only by Tencent, Sony, and Microsoft and just ahead of Activision Blizzard.

That puts Apple ahead of Nintendo. And Apple Arcade is coming, with entry level iPod touch devices priced to fuel game growth.

A common conversational gambit is to suggest that Apple will become a major force in gaming. If that day is not already here, it certainly seems to be coming.

June 19, 2019

Bloomberg:

Apple Inc. is ramping up a test of a digital-first credit card with Goldman Sachs Group Inc. by expanding its use to tens of thousands of the iPhone maker’s U.S. retail employees.

The move marks the first major trial for the card, which has been used for several weeks by a far smaller set of Apple corporate and Goldman employees.

Apple has asked employees not to discuss the card, although they are allowed to use it publicly to make purchases.

This is not unexpected and provides a good test bed for Apple. Minor point: why does Bloomberg call it a “Goldman Credit Card” in the headline?

The Atlantic:

The mystery surrounding MH370 has been a focus of continued investigation and a source of sometimes feverish public speculation. The idea that a sophisticated machine, with its modern instruments and redundant communications, could simply vanish seems beyond the realm of possibility. It is hard to permanently delete an email, and living off the grid is nearly unachievable even when the attempt is deliberate. A Boeing 777 is meant to be electronically accessible at all times. The disappearance of the airplane has provoked a host of theories. Many are preposterous. All are given life by the fact that, in this age, commercial airplanes don’t just vanish.

This one did, and more than five years later its precise whereabouts remain unknown. Even so, a great deal about the disappearance of MH370 has come into clearer view, and reconstructing much of what happened that night is possible.

We don’t really know but this is a great synopsis of what authorities do know with a lot of valid supposition thrown in.

Undark:

There are more than 9 million dairy cows in the United States, and the vast majority of them are Holsteins, large bovines with distinctive black-and-white (sometimes red-and-white) markings. The amount of milk they produce is astonishing. So is their lineage. When researchers at the Pennsylvania State University looked closely at the male lines a few years ago, they discovered more than 99 percent of them can be traced back to one of two bulls, both born in the 1960s. That means among all the male Holsteins in the country, there are just two Y chromosomes.

Any elementary science student knows that genetic homogeneity isn’t good in the long term. It increases the risk of inherited disorders while also reducing the ability of a population to evolve in the face of a changing environment.

This may seem like a silly story but it’s actually terrifying. All it would take is one specific disease and it could wipe out the entire dairy industry.

Shelly Brisbin:

36 Seconds That Changed Everything is an audio documentary, written and produced by Texas-based writer, Shelly Brisbin. It tells the story of how a device that once excluded people with disabilities – the iPhone – became one of the most transformative forces in the lives of those same people, once the barriers its software had created were removed.

The story of 36 Seconds begins on the day Apple Senior Vice President Phil Schiller announced accessibility would be part of the third generation of iPhone software – it took him just 36 seconds to do it. The features he hinted at during those few seconds would go on to have a profound impact on thousands of people who, to that point, had limited access to smartphones. What Schiller and most of the people who bought iPhones that summer couldn’t know, was how great the device’s impact would be for people with disabilities to lead lives of greater freedom, independence, and productivity.

So many of us use our devices without any thought to how to access them but, if you have accessibility issues, it’s not so easy. Apple isn’t perfect but they do a lot to assist those who can’t use their devices like the rest of us do. This is the transcript of the podcast. Thanks to Jason Snell for the link.

Apple:

Apple today announced the completion of a major expansion of its Apple authorized service network. With nearly 1,000 Best Buy stores across the US now providing expert service and repairs for Apple products, customers have even easier and more convenient access to safe and reliable repairs.

And:

By expanding to every Best Buy store across the US, customers in cities including Yuma, Arizona; Sioux City, Iowa; Twin Falls, Idaho; Casper, Wyoming and Bismarck, North Dakota will have more convenient access to Apple repairs. Plus, Best Buy’s Geek Squad has nearly 7,600 newly Apple-certified technicians ready to make same-day iPhone repairs or to service other Apple products.

It just got a lot easier to find a place to get your gear serviced, in warranty, in an Apple blessed way.

Interesting that Apple specifically called out those cities. If you look up Yuma, Arizona on your map, for example, you’ll see how incredibly far you have to go to get to an Apple Store (All the way to San Diego to the west, or to Mesa to the northeast). This is a terrific move, extending Apple’s reach, a win for many of Apple’s remoter customers.

Sarah Perez, Tech Crunch:

Good news for Apple Watch owners who don’t want to clutter up their Watch with unused apps. With the release of the new watchOS 6 operating system later this year, Apple will allow Apple Watch device owners to remove many more of the built-in, first-party apps from their smartwatch — including previously unremovable apps like Alarm, Timer, Stopwatch, Remote, Camera Remote, Radio and others, as well as health apps like ECG, Breathe, Noise and Cycle Tracking.

Excellent news. As is the news that you can update your Apple Watch running the watchOS 6 beta over the air, without the need to work through your iPhone. Props to Maks Motyka for this discovery:

You’ll still have to accept the EULA, apply the first beta via your iPhone but, once that’s done, it’s untethered updates. Huzzah.

That was no easy headline to construct. Better just to watch the video embedded in this tweet:

You’ve got an AR component, showing your face with different makeup applied, underneath a second pane, guiding you through the process.

This might not apply (sorry!) to you, but the basic concept, with an AR pane adjacent to a guiding video, seems groundbreaking to me.

If you’re interested in learning more, click the headline link to read Google’s official blog post.

Matthew Miller, writing a story that no one wants to write:

At 11:30 pm on Monday, 10 June, my oldest daughter shook my shoulder to wake me up from a deep sleep. She said that it appeared my Twitter account had been hacked. It turns out that things were much worse than that.

After rolling out of bed, I picked up my Apple iPhone XS and saw a text message that read, “T-Mobile alert: The SIM card for xxx-xxx-xxxx has been changed. If this change is not authorized, call 611.”

This reads like a nightmare, told with ever increasing dread. Yes, it does get worse.

Read to the end for a section called “Recommendations for your security” but, since all this is still not resolved, I’m hoping for a “Lessons learned” update. And, for Matthew’s sake, hope the resolution happens quickly.

Sharing data between iPhone and external devices in iOS 13

Loop reader Niles Mitchell was playing around with an iPhone running an iOS 13 beta and showed off sharing books from an iPhone to an attached Kindle.

While you may never have this particular need, seems to me this solution applies to a more general set of problems. Take a look. Found this very interesting.

Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac:

If you have an Apple TV, particularly when connected to a secondary speaker system, then you can be afflicted by a common AV issue: unsynchronized audio.

The video signal is processed by the TV at a slightly different time than the audio is transmitted from the speaker system. This leads to a delay where the audio is out-of-sync to the video frames, often noticeable by looking at an actor’s lips move … but hearing the words a beat later.

What can you do? Physics, right? But:

With iOS 13 and tvOS 13, Apple aims to combat this problem. You can enter a new configuration step called Wireless Audio Sync. This is initiated by pressing a button in the Apple TV settings.

And:

As part of the process, the Apple TV will play a series of tones. The iPhone then measures how long it takes to hear the sounds. This calculation is then saved on the Apple TV.

The tvOS operating system can then send audio earlier or later using the time offset it calculated from the Wireless Audio Sync data, thereby synchronizing audio and visual outputs.

Cleverness abounds. Yet another example of Apple firing on all cylinders.

June 18, 2019

512 Pixels:

…it seems that the vents on the new machine came from a design rooted in the era of the G4 Cube, nearly 20 years ago. Apple may have been playing with what would become the vents on the new Mac Pro nearly 20 years ago, but the construction of them seems to be all-new.

What’s old is new again.

CNBC:

acebook is unveiling an ambitious plan to create a new digital currency and financial system to transform the way money moves around the world, and not just on its own apps.

The Libra currency will not be run by Facebook, but rather by a nonprofit association supported by a range of companies and organizations. But Facebook does have a plan to profit from it with a new subsidiary, Calibra, which is building a digital wallet of the same name for storing and exchanging the currency.

You’d have to be a completely ill-informed moron to use a digital currency system backed by Facebook. Sadly, Facebook is full of those people and this will be a huge success.

9to5Mac:

Apple is evolving its in-store shopping experience with signage and display fixtures that remove ambiguity and encourage increased hands-on interaction with products. New designs that have been spotted in multiple locations reflect the changing requirements of busy stores and appear to address common customer needs.

New easels (are) popping up at some stores across the U.S. and Canada clearly denote an Express Checkout zone to pay for accessories like iPhone cases, cables, and headphones. The signage provides an anchor for customers who are unsure of where to checkout or not aware of the scan and buy self-checkout feature of the Apple Store app.

Looks like the new VP is starting to put her stamp on the place.

Greg Benz:

Unfortunately, my update was picked up and shared in the media and the story that has been shared is incorrect. I have contacted the authors of articles which I am aware of to clarify the story, however, I can only control is what I share.

So here’s the full story as simply as I can put it:

The issues with my computer are isolated to my machine only and were created by 3rd-party software I have installed. Neither the laptop hardware nor Apple software have the issues related to brightness controls as I had previously believed.

The tech media is always happy to jump on Apple. Let’s see if they report this story as “thoroughly” as they reported the original.

Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac:

You can now watch shows from the Apple TV app whilst multitasking around the rest of the operating system. Just like the iPad, Apple TV users can leave the video playing in a thumbnail window whilst they navigate the rest of the operating system.

If this is true Picture-in-Picture (PiP), I would be thrilled. A game changing feature, at least for me. I’d be able to keep tabs on a ball game or news story, in a PiP overlay, while watching content on the main screen.

From everything I’ve seen, including this tweet that started this whole discussion, it looks like there’s only one live video feed.

Traditional PiP required two video sources to make that double-live-video feature happen, so this is no surprise, but it’d be very cool if there was a way Apple could bring real PiP to life in tvOS.

UPDATE: Been told that this feature will, indeed, support two separate sources, meaning you can watch live content in both the main screen and the inset screen. If true, this is a big deal. Will reach out to Apple for confirmation.

13 subtle iOS 13 features worth knowing about

Interested in learning more about what’s coming with iOS 13? Some solid hidden features in this video, worth watching.

Charlie Warzel, New York Times, writing about this experiment by Harvard researcher Dan Svirsky:

Svirsky ran a series of tests where he had participants fill out online surveys for money and made them decide whether to share their Facebook profile data with a survey taker in exchange for a bonus (in some cases, 50 cents). In a direct trade-off scenario, Svirsky found that 64 percent of participants refused to share their Facebook profile in exchange for 50 cents and a majority were “unwilling to share their Facebook data for $2.50.” In sum: Respondents generally sacrificed a small bonus to keep from turning over personal information.

And:

But things changed when Svirsky introduced the smallest bit of friction. When participants were faced with what he calls “a veiled trade-off,” where survey takers had to click to learn whether taking the survey without connecting to Facebook would be free or cost them 50 cents, only 40 percent ended up refusing to share their data. And 58 percent of participants did not click to reveal which payment option was associated with privacy, even though doing so cost them nothing more than a second of their time.

I came across this article in this Daring Fireball post. From the post:

The lack of friction in the Sign In With Apple experience — especially using a device with Face ID or Touch ID — is a key part of why I expect it to be successful. It’s not just more private than signing in with Google or Facebook, it’s as good or better in terms of how few steps it takes.

The genius of the Google button is reducing friction for the user, easing them into sharing data from an already existing account. Even if your browser or app makes it easy to enter your email and password, using Touch ID or Face ID, there’s still friction in that sequence. The Google button is one simple step. With a privacy cost.

Sign in with Apple (SiwA) has the same lack of friction as the Google button. But without the privacy sacrifice. To me, this takes a good thing and makes it a great thing. I look forward to seeing SiwA in the wild.

This is the new look and feel of the post-iTunes way of showing an iOS device plugged into your Mac. Just as you’d expect if you plugged an external drive into your Mac, your plugged in device will appear in the Finder’s sidebar.

Excellent job by Stephen Hackett laying all this out. This looks like a very clean implementation by Apple, a nice step forward.

Follow the headline link to the release notes, then search for “New Features”. Rinse and repeat. So much to see.

One particular nugget I can’t wait to take for a spin:

Audio sharing is compatible with AirPods (1st generation or later) and PowerBeats Pro. iPhone 8 or later, iPad Pro 12.9-inch (2nd generation or later), iPad Pro 11-inch, iPad Pro 10.5-inch, iPad (5th generation or later), iPad Air (3rd generation), iPad mini (5th generation), or iPod touch (7th generation or later) is required. (51331268)

One definite benefit to keeping those first gen AirPods around if you upgrade to gen2 or the PowerBeats Pro.

June 17, 2019

Tim Cook’s Stanford University Commencement speech

Cook gave the commencement speech this week for the 2019 class at Standford University and had harsh words for the general tech industry. Saying, “Too many seem to think that good intentions excuse away harmful outcomes,” Cook took his industry to task.