November 12, 2019

AppleInsider:

In the study presented on Tuesday, IBM says that employees that used Mac machines were 22 percent more likely to exceed expectations in performance reviews compared to Windows users. Employees generating sales deals has 16% larger proceeds from Mac users as well.

Turning to employee satisfaction, the first-of-its-kind study shows that Mac users were 17 percent less likely to leave IBM compared to their Windows counterparts. A team of seven engineers is needed to maintain 200,000 Macs whereas a team of 20 is needed for that number of Windows PCs.

This is interesting but not “news.” Even back when I worked at Apple in the late 90s, Apple knew enterprise Return on Investment (ROI) was significantly higher than Windows in “mixed-use” environments.

New York Times:

Of all the companies to enter the streaming wars, Disney has significant advantages with Disney Plus. It can draw from a deep vault of its own animated and live-action movies and from popular shows on its own cable networks — as well as from company properties like Marvel and Star Wars. And that’s not counting the platform’s slate of original TV shows and movies.

That’s a lot of material: nearly 500 films and 7,500 TV episodes at the time of its debut. Below is our guide to the 50 best titles on Disney Plus, arranged in reverse chronological order with an eye toward variety. As the service continues to build its catalog, this list will change too.

Disney’s back catalog advantage can’t be overestimated.

Disney+’s The Mandalorian, special look

If this scene doesn’t get your blood pumping, the Mandalorian is not for you.

Riveting, detailed story about a plane disintegrating around him, waking up falling to Earth from space.

Goldman Sachs: We hear you Apple Card

Goldman Sachs, responding to the wave of accusation that their credit assessment algorithms are sexist, posted this official follow-up:

The key line in all this:

We have not and never will make decisions based on factors like gender. In fact, we do not know your gender or marital status during the Apple Card application process.

If true, that’s a pretty strong defense against arguments of sexism. Regardless, this has turned south for both Goldman Sachs and Apple. Will this pass as quickly as it ramped up? I suspect it depends on if New York’s Department of Financial Services decides there’s more to this.

Disney+ first thoughts

Disney’s new streaming service, Disney+, went live this morning. I’ve been waiting for this since it was first announced, been looking forward to Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, The Simpsons, and a ton of other content.

Things hit a few bumps right out of the gate. I signed up on my Mac and hit a “Sorry something went wrong. Please try again later.” alert (no comma after the word “sorry”, which gave it an odd tilt in my mind. Tried reloading, logging out and back in, no dice. So I switched over to the iOS app.

On the iOS app, things went a little better, though I did have to do a few retries before I finally got through to the streaming screen. And, just when I started to hear the opening sounds of the first episode of The Mandalorian, an Apple TV alert dropped in front of the app, asking me to connect to Apple TV. Odd that that bit of homework wasn’t taken care of before I started a show, but just a nit. I have to say, if you’ve got a Star Wars bone in your body, The Mandalorian looks great.

I did a search to get a sense of what’s available at launch. Though there’s a lot, there are some surprising omissions. Of course, Toy Story 4 is not there, to be expected, too early. But though Toy Store 2 and 3 are both available, the original Toy Story is not. But wait, did the search again, and there it is.

The Simpsons has 6 seasons available, an odd mix of old and new. That can’t be right. Supposed to be all 30 seasons. Search for Marvel, same thing, many of the movies, but not all. Did the search again and got slightly different results each time. What’s going on with search?

I suspect some missing content will appear over the coming weeks/months. And search is definitely inconsistent, so it’s possible some of the missing content will turn up in future searches. Wondering if the huge demand on opening day is contributing to the odd search results. What’s there is a huge catalog, even with the missing/not missing elements.

Got a Verizon account? Here’s how to get your free year of Disney+.

I’m definitely excited about Disney+. I think Apple and Netflix have their work cut out for them.

Deadline:

Following the November 1 launch of Apple TV+, the streamer is realigning its executive ranks under toppers Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht, combining development and current into a single-executive structure.

Kim Rozenfeld is leaving as head of current scripted programming and docu/unscripted content. He will return to his producing roots with a first-look deal at Apple for his company Half Full Productions.

Rozenfeld was one of the first execs hired by Van Amburg and Erlicht, back in 2017. Not clear if he was ousted or left of his own accord.

November 11, 2019

Ask four-time Grammy-winning producer and engineer Vance Powell (Jack White, Chris Stapleton, Danger Mouse), a question about mic placement, and you’re just as likely to get an answer about the final mix. See, for the laconic Missouri native and former front-of-house engineer, selecting and setting up microphones, and arranging how and where the players will stand during a session is all part and parcel of creating a virtual soundstage that’ll go on to form the basis of a song’s sonic image.

Vance is one of my favorite engineers. I’ve had the opportunity to speak with him on a number of occasions and his commitment to getting things just right is impressive.

Some rock with electric drill, guitar, and oven door

This is from a few years ago, but it made its way around the internet over the weekend, thought you’d enjoy. I love the timing of all of this, especially that end cut. Well done.

[H/T Storm Garelli]

A tweet about Apple Card leads to a probe of Goldman Sachs

The internet is a fast acting place. This tweet appeared on Thursday:

It was a tweet. But it got the attention of the internet and, eventually, of New York’s Department of Financial Services.

From Reuters:

Hansson, who is the creator of web-application framework Ruby on Rails, didn’t disclose any specific income-related information for himself or his wife but said they filed joint tax returns and that his wife had a better credit score, the report said.

And:

New York’s Department of Financial Services confirmed that an investigation was being conducted.

Next up, this tweeted reply from Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak Woz:

The same thing happened to us. I got 10x the credit limit. We have no separate bank or credit card accounts or any separate assets. Hard to get to a human for a correction though. It’s big tech in 2019.

And, finally, this public response from Goldman Sachs:

We wanted to address some recent questions regarding Apple Card credit decision process.

With Apple Card, your account is individual to you; your credit line is yours and you establish your own direct credit history. Customers do not share a credit line under the account of a family member or another person by getting a supplemental card.

As with any other individual credit card, your application is evaluated independently. We look at an individual’s income and an individual’s creditworthiness, which includes factors like personal credit scores, how much debt you have, and how that debt has been managed. Based on these factors, it is possible for two family members to receive significantly different credit decisions.

In all cases, we have not and will not make decisions based on factors like gender.

Finally, we hear frequently from our customers that they would like to share their Apple Card with other members of their family. We are looking to enable this in the future.

  • Andrew Williams, Goldman Sachs Spokesperson

Thinking about this, it could be that there’s truth to these accusations, but it could also be the case that there’s logic to these assessments that we can’t see.

But even if the latter is the case, it does seem to me that Goldman Sachs could do a much better job communicating the logic of their assessments. I suspect, given the public scrutiny, they will reevaluate their process.

This is an article more about supply chain than end users, but it does paint a picture of phenomenal potential for AirPods Pro.

A few tidbits, Yujing Liu from South China Morning Post:

“True wireless stereo will become the next big thing in consumer electronics,” Zhongtai Securities analysts wrote in a new report. It will become the next product that could “create a growth miracle” after the smartphones

And:

Investors believe they are witnessing the emergence of a massive market for AirPods – which sells for as much as US$249 for the high-end version – and other brands of earbuds, with consumer demand worth billions of dollars barely tapped yet.

And:

“There are about 900 million to 1 billion iPhone users worldwide, so the saturation ratio of AirPods among the existing users is not even 10 per cent.”

There’s lots more detail in the linked article, but you get the idea. As big as AirPods have been for Apple, a much bigger wave seems to be coming.

November 9, 2019

The mistake that toppled the Berlin Wall

Vox:

One of the Cold War’s biggest moments began at a routine press conference.

Today is the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, one of the most momentous events of the 20th century. I remember watching it on TV and thinking, “This can’t be happening. There’s no way they will let this continue. It’s going to end in bloodshed.” Thankfully, it didn’t.

Joe Strechay:

As associate producer for the show SEE, I can tell you the entire cast and crew worked together to challenge misconceptions about #blindness and bring all viewers into our world. Here are some of the ways we did that.

Interesting thread. Nice to hear about all the work they are putting in to it. I’m still not buying the premise though.

November 8, 2019

The Dalrymple Report: Apple TV+ and HomePod

Dave and I talk about Apple TV+ and the strategy Apple has for releasing new shows. We also follow-up on some HomePod problems.

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Here’s the upshot:

The camera performed very well in our tests in pretty much all areas, but some challenges remain. Still images generally show very good exposure. Dynamic range is very wide in bright light and under indoor conditions, but some highlight clipping is still visible in very difficult scenes. Overall, the iPhone is among the very best for exposure; it’s only in very low light when can’t keep up with devices with larger image sensors, such as the Huawei Mate 30 Pro. Like previous iPhone generations, the 11 Pro Max also scores very well for color and is among the best in this category in all light conditions. A slightly greenish cast is visible in some indoor scenes and in our lab tests, but overall color tends to be very pleasant: a slight yellow cast gives some scenes a warm feel and works very well for skin tones in portraits.

Overall, an excellent review. The iPhone 11 Pro Max got a 124 as a photo score, compared to the second best iPhone, the XS Max, which got a 110.

DXOMARK has the iPhone 11 Pro Max third, behind both the Huawei Mate 30 Pro and the Xiaomi Mi CC9 Pro Premium Edition.

Read the review. There’s a lot of detail here, lots of images to bring home specific points.

Get them while the pricing lasts. That’s a pretty significant discount.

Interesting article from Apple, with details on how to watch 4K HDR content, presented in a clear, easy to understand format.

Pass this along to the folks in your life who might be interested, but would be intimidated by a more technical explanation.

Tim Hardwick, MacRumors, does a nice job breaking down this paywalled Wall Street Journal article.

Apple products are visible in an average of 32 camera shots in each episode of “The Morning Show,” and an Apple logo is visible in roughly one-third of those shots.

And:

In one four-second scene in episode one of the flagship Apple TV+ series, nine Apple products are shown as two characters walk and talk through a newsroom.

Fascinating. The definition of synergy. Apple TV+’s worlds (with the exception, at least to this point, of SEE) serve as ads for Apple products, paint a world where Apple products are part of every person’s day to do. Until I read the WSJ article, I hadn’t even noticed. Subliminal.

Fantastic article on Disney+, on Bob Iger, and on the technology Disney has created to get their media to market.

As I’ve said numerous times, I see three obvious leaders in the coming media wars: Apple (deep war chest, deep commitment), Netflix (huge existing lead, deep brand), and Disney (incredible back catalog, shrewd technology investments).

Apple shares featurette: Creating the world of SEE

Of the major new Apple TV+ releases, I saved SEE for last. I wanted the context of the other shows, a sense of the quality level, the production values, before I dove into the world of SEE.

SEE is incredibly immersive. No Apple product placement, no stressors of modern life. Watch the featurette below to get a sense of how this world, supposedly built by a people who have gone blind, was created. Very interesting.

Anyone know why the title is all caps? “SEE”, vs. “See”?

Variety:

Dramas “See,” “For All Mankind,” “Dickinson” and “The Morning Show” have been greenlit for sophomore seasons. “Morning Show,” led by Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston, already had a two-season order and is already at work on its next season of 10 episodes.

And:

Sources close to Apple say the service to date has drawn millions of users who are spending on average more than an hour on the Apple TV Plus platform. It’s unclear how many of those are paying subscribers rather than those taking advantage of the service’s seven-day free trial. A knowledgeable source said Apple insiders were impressed by the volume of activity on the platform, which spiked by triple digits this past weekend after the fanfare for the Nov. 1 debut.

Good to have good numbers, but I don’t think bad numbers would stop Apple from renewing these shows, green lighting new projects. It is going to take time to build a catalog with any kind of heft, and time to build up any sort of paid subscriber base.

My two cents? Apple is doing an exceptional job here. The shows I’ve watched so far (including the four that just got renewed) rise to the level of what I’d expect to see on Netflix or HBO.

November 7, 2019

Bloomberg:

Adobe Inc. debuted its most important mobile application ever this week when it finally released Photoshop for Apple Inc.’s iPad. But with key capabilities missing, many within the company’s vast fan base have panned the application, prompting the app’s overseer to publicly defend his product.

Scott Belsky, chief product officer of Adobe’s Creative Cloud division, tweeted about the “painful” early reviews for a product his team has worked on for years. Right now in Apple’s App Store, Photoshop for iPad has a user review rating of 2.3 out of 5 stars.

Belsky said on Twitter, “we didn’t do a good enough job distinguishing between “real” (the actual real codebase, so any PSDs can be managed with any # of layers and ppl can use between iPad and desktop) and “full” (every feature that’s on the desktop version on day 1). messaging of strategy always tough.”

I have zero sympathy for him. “Messaging” on this was easy. You guys blew it. Adobe did a poor job of managing expectations from the beginning. Suck it up, take your lumps, do better.

Apple and bugginess

There will always be bugs. But the level of bugginess does seem to be rising to new heights.

Let’s start off with this recent Daring Fireball post, iOS 13.2 is overzealously killing apps in the background (and yields joy if you are a fan of the DF hidden URL game):

This bug where apps are getting killed soon after they’re backgrounded is driving me nuts. Start a YouTube video in Safari, switch to another app, go back to Safari — and the video loads from scratch and starts from the beginning.

There are many similar examples. Supposedly, this issue was quashed in a new beta, but it was surprising to see it make its way into the wild.

Next, take a look at this post from Kirk McElhearn, detailing problems opening iCloud files.

Another widespread issue is the frustration of trying to get HomePod to recognize a second person’s voice. For me, the issue manifested itself when my wife asked HomePod Siri to add an item to the shopping list, something she’s done on a regular basis since HomePod first entered our house a long time ago. But now, all she got was:

Who is this?

And that took us down a wild road of trying to figure out how to get HomePod Siri to recognize her as a person. Now, you might put this off to pilot error, but this problem is pretty widespread. I’ve spent a ton of time trying to solve this problem for my setup, and also helping others fix it for their setup. There’s no shortage of people who can’t get this to work and now have loved ones shut out from the HomePod.

I suspect that the issue at the core of this HomePod problem is a poorly chosen setting, or lack of the proper update. To me, if iOS 13.2 is required for this to work, Siri should say as much, instead of simply saying the unhelpful, “Who is this?” The complexity of the Home app setup is daunting, well beyond the capabilities of a newbie to work through. And there are a lot of settings that have to be “just so” in order for this to work.

I’m not trying to pick on Apple’s developers here. But something does seem amiss. Some say the issue is too much pressure to deliver on too short a timeline. I have no idea. But as a user, I am frustrated.

Best selling music artists, 1969-2019, an animated data race

I love these “data race” videos, where a bar chart is animated over time. Lock in your guesses as to the current top selling artist, ranked by album sales.

[H/T Storm Garelli]

Glenn Fleishman, Macworld:

Apple took system protection to the next level in macOS 10.15 Catalina by splitting your normal boot volume into two pieces. It appears like a single volume on the Desktop, but it’s really two: one is labeled with the volume’s name, while the other has “- Data” appended to it.

Great explainer on the new boot volume setup, with a side mention of that “Relocated Items” folder alias you’ll likely see on your desktop when you install Catalina.

This is a charming take on the Airpods Pro. Truly written from the heart.

Fast Company:

Apple is introducing a policy that will give new parents a four-week grace period after returning from leave. During that time, they will continue to be paid like full-time employees but will have the flexibility to work part-time and set their own hours with their manager’s oversight.

And:

These benefits extend to Apple’s retail workers, as well, who account for nearly half of the company’s employees.

That last bit is especially interesting. Cool that retail workers get this benefit, interesting that they account for almost half of Apple’s employees.

November 6, 2019

MacStories:

Privacy and everything it entails is not easy to explain. Under the hood, it’s driven by complex mathematics and code. However, in practice, app privacy starts with how apps are designed. Some are designed to collect information about you, and others aren’t.

With Apple’s update to its privacy page today, the company has created a site that explains how privacy drives the design of its apps in clear, concise language. However, for anyone who wants to understand the nitty-gritty details, Apple has also published white papers and linked to other materials that provide a closer look at the issues that the main page addresses.

Privacy is hugely important but “annoying” and “boring” for many average users. Apple does a great job of trying to lead people to learn and understand what the company is doing to protect users.

Apple TV+ Servant official trailer

Apple TV:

Doubt what you believe. From M. Night Shyamalan, Servant follows a Philadelphia couple in mourning after an unspeakable tragedy creates a rift in their marriage and opens the door for a mysterious force to enter their home.

I’m pretty gunshy about Shyamalan movies but will watch this on Apple TV+.

iPhone connected to original Macintosh Keyboard and Mouse? WILL IT WORK?

I absolutely love the sequence of WILL IT WORK videos, connecting various devices to an iPhone. But this one takes the cake. Connecting an original old-school Macintosh keyboard and mouse to an iPhone? Ridiculous. No way.

But watch.