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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?’
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
The bag search policy has been long discontinued and Apple has not conducted bag searches since 2015.
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.
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?
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:
Apple is also in a unique position given the vast size of its Find Me network. That puts the company in a different league than competitors like Tile, which carries greater responsibility with it.
In a story on Peer Reviewed, Matt VanOrmer puts a finger on something I’ve been wondering for a while: Are AirTags contributing to the problem of stalking or merely making us more aware of it because of the unique stalking countermeasures built into the device?
The sharp increase in reports of people being unknowingly tracked by bad actors using AirTags is clearly indicative of a major problem — but the question I’ve been wrestling with since these stories began is “Has Apple made the problem of stalking worse with AirTags, or just easier to discover?”
This is an excellent question.
More from Matt:
I would argue a nefarious individual wanting to stalk someone would debatably be foolish to use an AirTag to do so…since their victim has a high probability of being alerted to the tracking device (if they have an iPhone — more on that later). Surely to a criminal, the benefit of AirTags’ highly-pinpoint accuracy is immediately overwhelmed by the downside of getting caught.
A lot of blame for a recent run in stalking has been heaped on Apple, but has that stalking been around long before AirTags debuted, but just undetected?
Apple will allow alternative payment systems in South Korea in compliance with a new local law that bans app store operators from forcing their own in-app payment systems, the country’s telecommunications regulator said Tuesday.
The move came as a new law went into effect in the country in September last year, restricting app store operators, such as Google and Apple, from forcing their in-app payment systems on developers.
Apple said it plans to provide an alternative payment system at a reduced service charge compared with the current 30 percent charge, as the tech giant turned in its compliance plans to the Korea Communications Commission (KCC).
No specific info on how much Apple will charge when alternative payment system is used, how the mechanism will work, or when this new system will be turned on.
Yesterday was the 15 year anniversary of that fantastic Steve Jobs iPhone announcement (video embedded below).
One of my favorite “iPhone is never going to succeed” quotes and, I believe, the origin of the John Gruber coined “claim chowder” is this, from then Palm CEO Ed Colligan:
Responding to questions from New York Times correspondent John Markoff at a Churchill Club breakfast gathering Thursday morning, Colligan laughed off the idea that any company — including the wildly popular Apple Computer — could easily win customers in the finicky smartphone sector.
“We’ve learned and struggled for a few years here figuring out how to make a decent phone,” he said. “PC guys are not going to just figure this out. They’re not going to just walk in.”
I love this quote. Turns out, as Gruber points out in the headline linked post, the original quote was slightly different. If the Gruber claim chowder quote means anything to you, check out the slightly revised quote so you get your bit of history right.
Also, don’t miss that bit in the video below, right at 3:49 (and captured in this tweet), where Steve shows off his sense of humor.
Soon after 19-year-old Adele Lowitz gave up her Apple iPhone 11 for an experimental go with an Android smartphone, a friend in her long-running texting group chimed in: “Who’s green?”
That pressure to be a part of the blue text group is the product of decisions by Apple executives starting years ago that have, with little fanfare, built iMessage into one of the world’s most widely used social networks and helped to cement the iPhone’s dominance among young smartphone users in the U.S.
You could argue that the blue/green bubble issue is at least part of the reason why.
More from the WSJ:
“In the absence of a strategy to become the primary messaging service for [the] bulk of cell phone users, I am concerned the iMessage on Android would simply serve to remove [an] obstacle to iPhone families giving their kids Android phones,” Craig Federighi, Apple’s chief software executive, said in a 2013 email
Phil Schiller made a similar case to Chief Executive Tim Cook in another email: “Moving iMessage to Android will hurt us more than help us,” he said. Another warning that year came from a former Apple executive who told his old colleagues in an email that “iMessage amounts to serious lock-in.”
When an Android (i.e., green bubble) user joins an iMessage thread, the thread turns green. I find this annoying. The color change is not an issue. It’s the fact that functionality changes once that blue bubble thread turns green. For example, when I send an image as part of a mixed green thread, the send often (but not always) times out and fails.
Obviously, the Android team wants this changed (see this tweet in response to the WSJ article from Google Senior VP Hiroshi Lockheimer). Question is, will Apple budge on this?
Ever since Apple removed the headphone jack on the iPhone 7 in 2016, rumors have swirled that Apple eventually aims to ditch the Lightning port next for a completely portless design. Indeed, analysts originally predicted that the highest-end iPhone 13 would offer a “completely wireless experience.” Of course, that didn’t happen, but a portless iPhone 14 in 2022 looks just as unlikely, for the following reasons.
With no Lightning port, you wouldn’t be able to physically connect your iPhone directly to a computer to reset an unresponsive iPhone through recovery mode.
But, more importantly:
In 2020, Eric Ravenscraft of Debugger found that wireless charging uses around 47% more power than wired charging for the same amount of power.
There’s new and exciting developments every year in the realm of iOS third-party music players, and 2021 was no exception. While 2019 enjoyed an explosion of new players like Power Player and Albums that through time came to lead the space, 2020 in contrast received only a modest handful of new players and is instead remembered for the impressive growth the established player base received that year. This past year, 2021, managed to do both with a dizzying array of five new players and impressive growth across nearly all existing players.
If you are interested in exploring third party iOS music players, look no further. There’s a lot to explore here. I mean, a lot.
Follow the headline link, scroll all the way to the bottom for a Table of Contents. Each link will take you to a full-blown article about that player.
If we all pay for premium TV channels, what happens to all the television ads that we currently watch? That’s one of the topics Dave and I dig into on this week’s show. We also talk about the documentary, Street Gang, which focuses on Sesame Street, Intel’s claims about its newest chip, and some shows that Dave is watching.
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