December 3, 2021

The Dalrymple Report: AirPods, Apple Music Replay, The Beatles

Dave and I catchup from the holiday week  and then talk about the proper way to clean your AirPods. We also talk about Apple Music Replay, the service’s playlist of your most popular songs of year, and where to find it. Dave discusses using camera app Halide and we talk about the TV shows we’re currently watching.

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December 2, 2021

Follow the headline link, then log in to Apple Music in Safari. Apple Music will build your Replay playlist, then update the list weekly.

Click the Add+ button to add the playlist to your library. It might take a bit to make its appearance, but it should show up on all your devices, assuming you have sync enabled.

If you head to the Music app, tap the Listen Now tab, then scroll down a ways, you should find your year-by-year Replay lists in a section called “Replay: Your Top Songs by Year” (H/T @cyclonus).

Bloomberg:

Apple Inc., suffering from a global supply crunch, is now confronting a different problem: slowing demand.

The company has told its component suppliers that demand for the iPhone 13 lineup has weakened, people familiar with the matter said, signaling that some consumers have decided against trying to get the hard-to-find item.

Demand may be slowing (not sure how to measure that outside of Apple), but the iPhone 13 is not hard to find. At least in the US, you can get a base model Sierra Blue iPhone 13, 13 mini, 13 Pro, or 13 Pro Max within a few weeks at worst.

I didn’t do an exhaustive search through all possible color/storage combinations, but “hard to find”? Doesn’t seem to be the case. Easy enough to check this for yourself.

Apple:

Apple today revealed the 2021 App Store Award winners, recognizing the 15 best apps and games that helped users tap into personal passions, discover creative outlets, connect with new people and experiences, and simply have fun.

And:

Ten years after its App Store debut, Toca Life World is masterfully iterating on the art of play and self-expression for kids. The developers behind DAZN guided local sport culture into the global spotlight for everyone to enjoy, while Carrot Weather brought its best-in-class meteorological forecasts — and the witty character behind it — to users’ wrists. LumaFusion made video editing faster, less intimidating, and more portable for creators at every level, and Craft creatively enabled efficiency and artistry through a notebook with seemingly limitless capabilities. The incredible graphics and rich storylines woven into “League of Legends: Wild Rift,” “MARVEL Future Revolution,” “Myst,” “Space Marshals 3,” and Apple Arcade’s “Fantasian” transported players of all ages into immersive gaming experiences.

Scroll through the linked article for the details and some pretty screen shots.

Also check out these links to App Store charts for Top Apps of 2021, Top Games of 2021, and Top Apple Arcade Games.

Twitter blog:

As part of our ongoing efforts to build tools with privacy and security at the core, we’re updating our existing private information policy and expanding its scope to include “private media.” Under our existing policy, publishing other people’s private information, such as phone numbers, addresses, and IDs, is already not allowed on Twitter. This includes threatening to expose private information or incentivizing others to do so.

And:

Sharing personal media, such as images or videos, can potentially violate a person’s privacy, and may lead to emotional or physical harm.

And:

While our existing policies and Twitter Rules cover explicit instances of abusive behavior, this update will allow us to take action on media that is shared without any explicit abusive content, provided it’s posted without the consent of the person depicted.

If you use Twitter, worth reading this whole blog post, to get a sense of where this policy is going, what types of tweets it covers.

This is a difficult enforcement road, as it opens the door to false complaints (think YouTube and misuse of DMCA takedowns). Definitely good to be aware of.

December 1, 2021

Follow the headline link, start scrolling for a walk through Apple prototype collector Giulio Zompetti’s prototype tweets.

Interesting that Apple builds these prototypes in this way. Is it cheaper to pour with translucent material? Is it so engineers can see the guts of their designs, quickly tweak the fit ’til they get it right?

This definitely reminds me of the OG translucent Bondi iMacs.

Fisher Price:

Introducing the special edition Fisher-Price® Chatter Telephone™ — a phone smart enough not to come with any apps. Its intuitive bulky face design comes with a ‘super-advanced’ rotary dial and connects to your mobile device via Bluetooth® wireless technology, so you can make and receive real calls through your existing phone plan.

When I first saw this on Hacker News, I thought it was a joke. But it does seem to be a real product, with some excellent tongue-in-cheek marketing.

Follow the headline link and look at the pictures. If you’ve got kid toys in your life, especially older kid toys, you’ll instantly recognize the Chatter telephone. It’s iconic.

And now your kids can learn the pain of a rotary dial!

Benjamin Mayo:

I can’t quite believe how much ink has been spilled these last few months about a concept that doesn’t exist and is — at best — a pipe dream. The metaverse is not a thing. It’s meaningless. Facebook had an hour long keynote event which wholly consisted of computer-generated sequences of floating Memoji/Xbox avatars. Microsoft joined the fray with similarly unsubstantiated claims that Teams is becoming a metaverse.

And:

Break apart the vision to any individual element and the state of the art technology is nowhere close to good enough. Realtime visual fidelity has to advance leaps and bounds to be as convincingly legitimate as what Facebook ‘demonstrated’ in its mockups. I’d love to know how long it took whatever render farm they used to make these videos. Probably, days.

And:

One of the things that motivated me to write up this ridiculousness in a blog post is this fencing demo from Facebook’s Meta keynote. Zuckerberg is shown to be playing against a hologram of a professional athlete, waving swords at each other. In the demo, when he lunges, she parries with the swords perfectly stopping in mid-air. How on earth is that going to be possible to do, outside of a visual effects mockup? There’s no way to recreate the sensation of metal hitting metal and the sabres rebounding.

This is an entertaining “the emperor has no clothes on” write-up. The point about the uncanny valley and the limitations of technology in senses (like touch) ring true.

That said, I do think we’re heading for a world of avatars, like it or not, because the tech drivers want this and will spend big bucks trying to race each other to this particular vision of reality.

As to the technological limitations, we’ll all live with them and, slowly, the fake world around us will improve over time, much as the graphics on our displays allowed us to move from TTL displays (think Texas Instruments calculators) to modern, varied, crisp, high resolution fonts.

Also, we’ll all have robot bodies.

Apple:

Over the past 15 years, Apple customers have played a critical role in (RED)’s fight to end AIDS through support to the Global Fund, which provides critical access to healthcare services in communities most in need in sub-Saharan Africa. As COVID-19 continues to impact communities around the world, including those living with HIV, the fight to end global pandemics is more urgent than ever.

And:

Since 2006, Apple customers have helped raise nearly $270 million to fund prevention, testing, and counseling services for people impacted by HIV/AIDS. Apple-supported grants have enabled care and support services for over 11 million people, provided over 192 million HIV tests, and allowed over 13.8 million people access to lifesaving antiretroviral treatments. In 2020 alone, Apple’s support for (RED) helped prevent over 145,000 HIV-positive mothers from passing the virus on to their babies.

Props to Apple for this ongoing work and support.

Follow the headline link to read more about Apple’s efforts here, and about their PRODUCT(RED) products.

Open this link on your iPhone, then scroll down to the Apple Watch Faces section to view and add any of the new Apple Watch faces to your collection.

November 30, 2021

Steve Jobs bashing music subscription services

This was from the iTunes Music Store intro back in 2003. Jump to 22:15 for the relevant part.

Jarring to hear this take with Apple Music and Spotify the now de facto standard music services.

You pay to download 500 songs and one day you stop paying your subscription fee and your entire music library goes away.

Said with real venom.

Jack resigned

From his tweet:

not sure anyone has heard but,

I resigned from Twitter

There’s also this letter that Jack sent to the Twitter team:

After almost 16 years of having a role at our company…from co-founder to CEO to Chair to Exec Chair to interim-CEO to CEO…I decided it’s finally time for me to leave. Why?

There’s a lot of talk about the importance of a company being “founder-led.” Ultimately I believe that’s severely limiting and a single point of failure. I’ve worked hard to ensure this company can break away from its founding and founders. There are 3 reasons I believe now is the right time.

The first is Parag becoming our CEO. The board ran a rigorous process considering all options and unanimously appointed Parag. He’s been my choice for some time given how deeply he understands the company and its needs. Parag has been behind every critical decision that helped turn this company around. He’s curious, probing, rational, creative, demanding, self-aware, and humble. He leads with heart and soul, and is someone I learn from daily. My trust in him as our CEO is bone deep.

The second is Bret Taylor agreeing to become our board chair. I asked Bret to join our board when I became CEO, and he’s been excellent in every way. He understands entrepreneurship, taking risks, companies at massive scale, technology, product, and he’s an engineer. All of the things the board and the company deserve right now. Having Bret in this leadership role gives me a lot of confidence in the strength of our board going forward. You have no idea how happy this makes me!

The third is all of you. We have a lot of ambition and potential on this team. Consider this: Parag started here as an engineer who cared deeply about our work and now he’s our CEO (I also had a similar path.…he did it better!). This alone makes me proud. I know that Parag will be able to channel this energy best because he’s lived it and knows what it takes. All of you have the potential to change the course of this company for the better. I believe this with all my heart!

Parag is CEO starting today. I’m going to serve on the board through my term (May-ish) to help Parag and Bret with the transition. And after that…I’ll leave the board. Why not stay or become chair? I believe it’s really important to give Parag the space he needs to lead. And back to my previous point, I believe it’s critical a company can stand on its own, free of its founder’s influence or direction.

I want you all to know that this was my decision and I own it. It was a tough one for me, of course. I love this service and company…and all of you so much. I’m really sad…yet really happy. There aren’t many companies that get to this level. And there aren’t many founders that choose their company over their own ego. I know we’ll prove this was the right move.

We’ll have an all-hands meeting tomorrow at 9:05 AM Pacific to discuss it all. Until then, thank you all for the trust you’ve placed in me, and for the openness to build that trust in Parag and yourselves. I love you all.

jack

PS I’m tweeting this email. My one wish is for Twitter Inc to be the most transparent company in the world. Hi mom!

Parag Agrawal, the new Twitter CEO, responded with his own tweet and note to the company.

Parag has been CTO since 2017, and is now the youngest Fortune 500 CEO, just a hair younger than Zuck. Notably, Jack has left Parag to deal with decisions about fake news and free speech.

Apple:

Each year, Apple recognizes the best and most popular podcasts for their exceptional content, unique ability to engage audiences, and innovation in craft, spanning production, presentation, sound design, and more, that expand the definition of podcasting and deepen its impact on listeners worldwide.

Here’s a “Best of 2021” link that’ll open in Apple Podcasts.

Follow the headline link, scroll down for a list of top shows, episodes, then, below that, the Apple Podcast charts.

Apple:

The Apple Music Awards honor achievements in music across five distinct categories — Artist of the Year, Songwriter of the Year, Breakthrough Artist of the Year, Top Song of the Year, and Top Album of the Year — and winners are chosen through a process that reflects both Apple Music’s editorial perspective and what customers around the world are listening to the most.

And:

This year, the Apple Music Awards will introduce a new category of awards for Regional Artist of the Year, recognizing artists from five countries and regions: Africa, France, Germany, Japan, and Russia. The Regional Artist of the Year awards recognize artists who made the greatest impact culturally and on the charts in their respective countries and regions.

And about the physical award itself:

Each award features Apple’s custom silicon wafer suspended between a polished sheet of glass and a machined and anodized aluminum body. The result of this multi-month process, before it is sliced into hundreds of individual chips, is stunning and distinctive. In a symbolic gesture, the same chips that power the devices that put the world’s music at listeners fingertips sit at the very heart of the Apple Music Awards.

Short list of winners:

  • Global Artist of the Year: The Weeknd
  • Breakthrough Artist of the Year, Album of the Year, and Song of the Year: Olivia Rodrigo
  • Songwriter of the Year: H.E.R.
  • Artist of the Year (Africa): Wizkid
  • Artist of the Year (France): Aya Nakamura
  • Artist of the Year (Germany): RIN
  • Artist of the Year (Japan): OFFICIAL HIGE DANDISM
  • Artist of the Year (Russia): Scriptonite
November 29, 2021

Jeff Johnson:

The madness in this case is Safari background tabs spontaneously coming to the front again, an obviously undesirable behavior.

Read the blog post for the specifics on what causes this (props to Jeff for figuring it out). To give this a try, follow the headline link, click the “Start 5 second timer” button, then click another tab to bring it to the front. After 5 seconds, the background tab will jump to the front. Works every time.

Turns into an ad for the highly regarded StopTheMadness browser extension. Worth a look.

Watch an AI break Tetris

An AI that can play Tetris (via Kottke.org). Watching this play is very satisfying, especially when it hits the “kill screen” that takes out the vast majority of human players (about 7 minute in).

But it goes way beyond that. Interesting to watch it run out of numbers to keep score (screen width limits number of digits) and moves on to other characters which, ultimately proves its undoing.

Apple’s retail price for the base model 14″ M1 MacBook Pro is $1999.99. Follow the headline link to B&H Photo and save $200, a pretty great deal.

Interestingly, the discount only applies to the Space Gray model. Want Silver? Pay full price. Not sure why.

Quantities are limited, so jump on it.

Apple’s latest annual holiday commercial, “Saving Simon”

Before you watch the video (embedded below), take a moment to watch my personal favorite Apple holiday ad, Misunderstood. Hard to top that one.

Below the new ad, there’s a “making of” ad, starring father and son Oscar-nominated (for Up in the Air) directors Jason and Ivan Reitman. I loved this video, especially when you watch it right after watching the ad. That giant snowman!

November 27, 2021

My thanks to BBEdit for sponsoring The Loop this week. There’s a lot to love about software I’ve been using for more than 20 years and now BBEdit, the power tool for text, is ready for Big Sur and M1-powered Macs and was just updated to version 14!

November 26, 2021

The Dalrymple Report: With special guest Rene Ritchie

This week Rene Ritchie joins me to talk about all things Apple. We dig into the the new MacBook Pro M1 and how the new Pro and Max chips are setting Apple up for success. Well also talk about what’s great about the iPad 13 and the new iPads Apple recently released. Finally, we look at Apple’s Self Repair program and what that means for users.

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November 23, 2021

More than a year ago, at the 2020 Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple announced that it would be adding third-party music service support to ‌HomePod‌. A few months later, Apple highlighted some of the apps that would take advantage of the new feature, including Amazon Music, Pandora, and iHeartRadio. A notable exclusion from the list – Spotify.

Whether Spotify opted not to be part of the initial batch of third-party music providers with ‌‌HomePod‌‌ support or Apple didn’t ask remains unknown.

With all of the noise Spotify has made over the years against Apple, I would guess they had been asked to be one of the third-party providers. Apple wouldn’t want to be seen excluding them from the list. With all of the bad sentiment from its users, Spotify could simply say that Apple wouldn’t let them on HomePod and turn the pressure back on Apple.

Whatever is going on, it seems Spotify needs to address this issue with its users quickly.

November 22, 2021

There’s a lot to love about software I’ve been using for more than 20 years and now BBEdit, the power tool for text, is ready for Big Sur and M1-powered Macs and was just updated to version 14!

You pissed off people by somewhat breaking your app, and they’re leaving angry reviews. How can you salvage your reputation? Apple just found one incredibly effective way — get listeners to submit better reviews by interrupting their podcast experience with an in-app prompt to submit a rating.

That’s how the Apple Podcasts app went from a publicly embarrassing 1.8-star score all the way to 4.6 stars in a little over a month without any actual fixes […]

I cringed reading this story. People that leave reviews are clearly talking about podcasts they are listening to and not the app itself, which shows confusion on the listeners part. I use Apple Podcasts app and have never seen this prompt, but it is apparently there somewhere.

November 19, 2021

The Dalrymple Report: Self Service Repair, busyness, and TV Shows

Apple announced its Self Service Repair program this week and, of course, Dave and I have different views on the topic. We talk about the pros and cons of the program and who will benefit. We also talk about a feature in Google Maps called “busyness,” and some the TV shows we’re currently watching.

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November 18, 2021

Victoria Song, The Verge:

Starting with watchOS 8, Apple introduced a new accessibility feature called Assistive Touch. The cool thing about this feature is that it allows you to control the watch via gestures and your arm movements. Meaning, now you don’t even need to touch the Apple Watch screen to use it.

And:

Using on-device machine learning, the feature makes use of the watch’s accelerometer, gyroscope, and optical heart rate sensor to read how your muscles and tendons move. The result is that the watch can tell when you’re pinching your fingers or clenching your fists. You can also enable a motion-based cursor that works like a mini-mouse when you tilt your arm.

Great post, love the animated GIFs that show various gestures at work.

John Gruber:

This appears to be a cause for celebration in right-to-repair circles, but I don’t see it as a big deal at all. Almost no one wants to repair their own cracked iPhone display or broken MacBook keyboard; even fewer people are actually competent enough to do so.

Not sure how big the audience for right-to-repair is, but I do count myself in its number. And if it was easier to do, I suspect that number would be much larger. Imagine if repairing a cracked display was a simple, five minute operation. Wouldn’t you rather order the new display and make the swap yourself?

It used to be relatively easy to customize and repair your gear. As parts have given way to part assemblies (glued/soldered assemblies that become a single replaceable requirement, even if a single part fails) and the quest for smaller makes devices harder to open, harder to take apart, the ability to repair your own gear has become harder, almost impossible.

So those small numbers John points out are real. But should this be the way it is? Again, wouldn’t you love the ability to swap out a display as easily as you used to be able to swap out RAM on your old Macs?

More from Gruber:

Nothing announced today changes the fact that Apple still requires Apple genuine parts for all authorized repairs, no matter who does the repairing.

Yup.

Today’s announcement, to my eyes, is about nothing more than reducing regulatory pressure from legislators who’ve fallen for the false notion that Apple’s repair policies, to date, have been driven by profit motive — that Apple profits greatly from authorized repairs, and/or that their policies are driven by a strategy of planned obsolescence, to get people to buy new products rather than repair broken old ones.

Going into an Apple Store with a problem has never felt like a money grab scheme to me. I’ve always felt like the support staff wants me to leave satisfied. If they can find a way to get me a fix without spending money, they’ll do so. But when there’s no way but to replace a parts assembly for $900 on an out-of-AppleCare device, that’s what they do.

Don’t get me wrong: this program is nice, and perhaps a bit surprising given Apple’s public stance on the issue in recent years. We’re better off with this Self Service Repair program in place than we were without it. (Making service manuals available might actually help extend the lifetime of older devices for which Apple no longer sells parts.) But to me it clearly seems to be a small deal, not a “big deal”, as Chen claims.

I agree. It’s a big deal for folks who want to do their own repairs, but for the vast majority, it doesn’t change a thing.

Questions: Will Apple expand the parts they offer for Self Repair beyond those offered in their existing Independent Repair Provider program. For example, will we be able to repair, say, charging ports? Might we be able to buy parts for our devices and bring the part and device to an independent repair shop (perhaps bringing the shop a part they cannot get from Apple)?

Louis Rossman, the face of Right to Repair, on Apple’s Self Service Repair program

If you follow the Right to Repair movement, you are certainly familiar with Louis Rossman. He’s made passing Right to Repair legislation his life’s work.

As you are no doubt aware, yesterday Apple announced their Self Service Repair program. Louis Rossman’s take on the program, laced with a healthy dose of skepticism, is embedded below.

In a nutshell, Louis lays out his issues with Apple’s existing Independent Repair Provider program, and expresses concern that this new Self Service Repair program will suffer from those same issues. If you care about Right to Repair, take the time to watch the video. Louis does make his case about the IRP program pretty clearly.

And he does make this statement:

Do this right, and we can start from scratch, let bygones be bygones, and I will give you all the credit in the world. No shade. I am serious. I have no problem giving Apple credit. Do this right. If they do this right, I will buy and use a Macbook as my daily driver. Not even meming.

I do not see the same downsides in this new program, which is focused on individuals and not shops. No inventory issues (repair shops need to stock parts which, according to Louis, Apple prevents), since individuals will just order what they need. And waiting for a part is no different than waiting for Apple to ship out your device, and does not require a trip to the Apple Store.

One question that Louis does raise, that we won’t know for some time, is how granular a repair Apple’s new program will allow. Can I order just the part I need (say, a $100 MacBook LED display vs a $900 display assembly)? If so, that would be a home run for do-it-yourselfers.

Juli Clover, MacRumors:

Back in August, Apple said that it would pay out $100 million and make several changes to the App Store to settle a class-action lawsuit brought about by developers, and the settlement offer received preliminary approval yesterday

How much will developers get?

Developers who earned $1 million or less through the U.S. storefront for their apps in every calendar year between June 4, 2015 and April 26, 2021 can receive between $250 and $30,000.

Sounds like a floor of $250. Not nothing.

As to the timing?

Going forward, briefs, papers, and memoranda in support of the final approval of the settlement must be filed by April 29, 2022, and a Fairness and Final Approval Hearing will take place on June 7, 2022. If and when final approval is granted, developers will begin to receive money from Apple.

Here’s a link to the settlement website, where you can sign up to be notified when the settlement process goes live.

Chance Miller, 9to5Mac:

Apple yesterday released the third developer and public betas of iOS 15.2, and in addition to the changes reported yesterday, the update also includes a notable tweak to the Music application. For the first time, you can now search within a playlist for a specific song.

This does deserve a “finally”. Especially if you put effort into building a playlist of favorites that you listen to regularly.

In typical Apple fashion, the search bar is hidden within the user interface. To find the new search field, open a playlist in the Music app on your iPhone, then swipe down from the top to reveal the new “Search” field.

That pulldown to reveal the search bar is low discoverability but, to be fair, it is a device used pretty consistently throughout iOS.

November 17, 2021

Apple:

Apple today announced Self Service Repair, which will allow customers who are comfortable with completing their own repairs access to Apple genuine parts and tools. Available first for the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 lineups, and soon to be followed by Mac computers featuring M1 chips, Self Service Repair will be available early next year in the US and expand to additional countries throughout 2022. Customers join more than 5,000 Apple Authorized Service Providers (AASPs) and 2,800 Independent Repair Providers who have access to these parts, tools, and manuals.

And:

The initial phase of the program will focus on the most commonly serviced modules, such as the iPhone display, battery, and camera. The ability for additional repairs will be available later next year.

Big news for the right-to-repair movement and for folks (like me) who like fixing their own stuff.

And, on Apple’s just announced Self Service Repair Online Store:

To ensure a customer can safely perform a repair, it’s important they first review the Repair Manual. Then a customer will place an order for the Apple genuine parts and tools using the Apple Self Service Repair Online Store. Following the repair, customers who return their used part for recycling will receive credit toward their purchase.

The new store will offer more than 200 individual parts and tools, enabling customers to complete the most common repairs on iPhone 12 and iPhone 13.

You order a replacement part from Apple, return the used part for credit. The only thing missing is the ability to use parts from 3rd parties for repairs.

As the announcement says, Self Service Repair will open up early 2022 in the US. I’ll definitely be giving it a try.

Sarah Scire, Nieman Lab:

Discovering they had to get on the phone to cancel a subscription they signed up for online rankled several respondents in our survey looking at why people canceled their news subscriptions. The reaction to the call-to-cancel policy ranged from “an annoyance” and “ridiculous” to “shady” and “oppressive.”

And:

A study of 526 news organizations in the United States found that only 41% make it easy for people to cancel subscriptions online, and more than half trained customer service reps in tactics to dissuade customers who call to unsubscribe.

There are many examples of this heinous practice, something the FTC refers to as “Negative option marketing”.

From the official FTC enforcement policy:

ROSCA requires negative option sellers to provide a simple, reasonable means for consumers to cancel their contracts. To meet this standard, negative option sellers should provide cancellation mechanisms that are at least as easy to use as the method the consumer used to initiate the negative option feature.

And:

In addition, negative option sellers should provide their cancellation mechanisms at least through the same medium (such as website or mobile application) the consumer used to consent to the negative option feature.

That last bit is critical. If, say, a service lets me sign up on a web site, they can’t make me use a different medium to cancel. So if I sign up on the web, they can’t make me cancel on the phone, they have to allow me to cancel on the web.