August 10, 2020

Tomorrow is Woz’s 70th birthday, and there’s a massive on-line bash being planned.

Check out the official event page, check out that amazing guest list.

The party starts tomorrow at 5p PT, 8p ET.

Nice explainer from iDownloadBlog on using the iOS 14 compact Siri. I love this change to the Siri interface.

If nothing else, it lets me maintain whatever context I was in when I brought Siri to bear, lets me keep my train of thought.

This particular rabbit hole dive started with this Reddit post:

I have owned macs for around 15 years and I have never had an issue more than this machine. Last night I finally got time to look into why my machine would not update to 10.15.6.

I tried everything: combo installer, safe mode, external USB, clean install. All failed, even the clean install, and I was only able to get back in because I had a time machine back up.

Called Apple this morning and they looked at my logs and said it was the T2 security ship (I hate this thing).

In a nutshell, the Reddit poster was instructed to bring their Mac in to the Apple Store to have the T2 chip re-flashed. Rather than do that, they turned to Google, found this Apple support article, which allowed them to reset the T2 chip.

Worth knowing.

Ben Lovejoy, 9to5Mac:

A report earlier today cited a potentially huge WeChat threat to the future of the iPhone in China. Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo is concerned that the Trump administration could force Apple to remove the WeChat app not just from the US App Store, but globally.

Kuo warned that this could see a massive 30% reduction in global iPhone sales, and if that sounds hyperbolic, it’s likely not.

The linked post is worth reading both because of Ben’s op-ed take, but also because of all the background on WeChat. Very informative.

Prepear:

Recently @apple yes, The trillion dollar Apple, has decided to oppose and go after our small business’ trademark saying our pear logo is too close to their apple logo and supposedly hurts their brand?

This is a big blow to us at Prepear. To fight this it will cost tens of thousands of dollars.

Follow the headline link for a side-by-side of the Prepear logo next to Apple’s. Also, check out this comparison posted by John Gruber.

The core of this issue is the cost to a mom and pop to defend their logo. It’s just not a winnable battle, given the almost infinite size of Apple’s pocketbook.

That said, I wonder if Apple’s legal team ever talks with the Apple brand marketing team. I can’t help but think this situation will bruise Apple’s brand, even if the legal team is absolutely correct in their analysis, seeing the potential harm in allowing a trademark that structurally follows the form of the Apple logo.

Why not avoid all this and offer a licensing deal to the Prepear folks, one that protects the Apple logo and still lets Prepear have their preferred logo? It’d be a better look for the Apple brand.

August 7, 2020

PCWorld:

On June 10, Google agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit over the “software bugs” that led to some 50 million accounts having their data leaked. The settlement is a relatively small one, just $7.5 million, but if you ever set up a Google account, you may be eligible for a piece of it: $12 to be exact.

All claims must by submitted by October 8 and as per usual, any claims forfeit all rights “to sue Google and/or any other released entities regarding the legal claims in this case.” If you’d like to retain these rights, you must opt-out of the settlement.

Users are only allowed to submit one $12 claim regardless of the number of Google+ accounts you may have had. You can file a claim using this link.

The only requirements for filing a claim are that you had a Google+ account at some point between January 1, 2015, and April 2, 2019, and “entered private (meaning non-public) information in at least one of (the) Google+ profile fields that was not set to be shared publicly.” Finally, you must consent that you either shared that information with another Google+ user or authorized a third-party app to access my Google+ profile field information.”

A whole $12. Don’t spend it all in one place.

Companies won’t start taking these kinds of data breaches seriously until governments start making them pay serious penalties for causing them.

CNBC:

The antitrust theory against Apple centers on its control of the App Store. A potential case against Apple could look similar to one against Amazon, focusing on the fact that it both owns a marketplace (the App Store) and has its own pre-loaded apps such as Apple Music and Apple Podcasts that compete with other apps on its platform, such as Spotify.

Some developers who offer their apps through the App Store — the only way Apple allows for apps to be added to users’ devices — have complained about Apple’s opaque and sometimes seemingly arbitrary process for accepting new apps.

The documents released paint a picture that Apple’s rules around its App Store may not be as rigid as the company has repeatedly insisted they are.

There’s nothing damning here against Apple.

CBC:

It was the first television show that many would say put British Columbia — and British Columbian talent — in the spotlight.

The Beachcombers was greenlit in the early 1970s by CBC and ran for almost 20 years. Set in Gibsons, B.C., it followed log salvager Nick Adonidas (Bruno Gerussi) and his crew aboard the Persephone as they tracked down logs that had broken free from log booms.

With over 350 episodes, it is one of the longest running dramatic English-language television shows ever produced for Canadian television and July 30 marked the 30th anniversary of the shooting of the final episode.

Hard to believe it’s been that long. Before “Corner Gas” or “Schitt’s Creek” there was “The BeachCombers”, truly “appointment TV” for Canadians of that generation.

Watch the opening credits below and note the boat in the first shot and the scenery behind the actors:

The show was set and shot in the town I live in, a little community of 6,000 called Gibsons on the west coast of Canada. The boat is still a feature of the “lower village”, Molly’s Reach restaurant and Gramma’s Pub are still there and the scenery is still magnificent.

The Dalrymple Report: Phil Schiller, iMac, Astronauts and Disney+

Apple’s Phil Schiller stepped down from his senior vice president role and is now an Apple Fellow—Dave and I discuss how important he was to the company over the years. We also look at the new iMac, the astronaut landing and how Disney+ is being unfair to its customers.

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August 6, 2020

Ars Technica:

Machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) now permeate nearly every feature on the iPhone, but Apple hasn’t been touting these technologies like some of its competitors have. I wanted to understand more about Apple’s approach , so I spent an hour talking with two Apple executives about the company’s strategy—and the privacy implications of all the new features based on AI and ML.

In the wake of the Apple Silicon announcement, I spoke at length with John Giannandrea, Apple’s Senior Vice President for Machine Learning and AI Strategy, as well as with Bob Borchers, VP of Product Marketing. They described Apple’s AI philosophy, explained how machine learning drives certain features, and argued passionately for Apple’s on-device AI/ML strategy.

There will be a lot of Zaprudering of this interview looking for hidden messages but I’m just glad Apple allowed them to speak so we can get a sense of the company’s views on AI and ML and where they are heading.

Six Colors:

So here we are, at the end of OS X. Two decades ago Apple parked the sixteen-year-old Classic Mac OS and leaped to version 10.0, but four years ago the company rebranded the software that drives the Mac as macOS, and the writing was on the wall. And now in 2020 it’s macOS Big Sur, version 11.0. The name is an extension of Apple’s use of California places to brand its Mac releases, but the version number is the real story. The Mac OS X era is truly over. macOS Big Sur is the start of a radically new era in the Mac’s life.

I hadn’t thought of Big Sur as being the “end of OS X” but I guess it is. Whether that is truly significant remains to be seen.

Last year’s macOS Catalina felt like a release designed to settle old scores and clear the field for future advancement. It broke a lot of old software, frustrated a lot of users, and generally had the worst reputation of any macOS update in a decade. (I see you, Mac OS X Lion.) Did Apple sacrifice Catalina so that future OS updates wouldn’t be blamed for them? That’s probably a conspiracy theory too far, but I will say this: Good Cop macOS Big Sur fills me with excitement about the future of the Mac in a way Bad Cop Catalina never did.

I feel the same way Snell does – Catalina was the first major Mac OS release I didn’t even bother to install but I’m actually looking forward to using macOS Big Sur. I still won’t install the Developer or Public Beta versions though.

One Zero:

Wireless charging is increasingly common in modern smartphones, and there’s even speculation that Apple might ditch charging via a cable entirely in the near future. But the slight convenience of juicing up your phone by plopping it onto a pad rather than plugging it in comes with a surprisingly robust environmental cost.

Wireless chargers lose a lot of energy compared to cables. They get even less efficient when the coils in the phone aren’t aligned properly with the coils in the charging pad, a surprisingly common problem.

In my tests, I found that wireless charging used, on average, around 47% more power than a cable.

The energy loss from wireless charging shouldn’t come as a surprise. But convenience will always outweigh the disadvantages for most people. But, as wireless charging becomes more ubiquitous, the issues raised in this piece become more apparent.

Tire Meets Road:

While it’s true seaplanes are at home in the wet stuff, they have to come onto dry land for maintenance. Landing is one thing, they can be trailered in or land on grass (which we’ll get to later) but how do they take off from land? With a trailer and truck! Cessna floatplane owner Dave Hewitt captured the amazing moment his floatplane took off from the back of trailer towed along by a Chevrolet Silverado booking it at over 70 MPH.

I’m sure lots of you have seen this video on Facebook and Twitter this morning but while incredible, it’s actually fairly commonplace and “easy” as anyone who lives in an area serviced by floatplanes will tell you.

Almost every single building surrounding the harbor is gone.

And don’t miss the slide bar in the middle of the page. Slid all the way to the left. Astonishing. Terrible.

Alex Lee, Wired:

Last week, Instagram became the latest app to be called out by iOS 14’s privacy notifications feature after users began noticing that the green light indicator—which alerts users that the camera has been activated—kept turning on—even when the camera was not in use. Addressing the behavior, Instagram said that the activation of the camera was just a bug and that it was being triggered by a user swiping into the camera from the Instagram feed.

You’ve no doubt seen a steady stream of privacy-related “outings” as apps are called out for their inappropriate snooping, all revealed by iOS 14.

But this was an interesting perspective:

It’s wise to remember that most permissions abuse happens on Google’s Android operating system. Last year, researchers from the International Computer Science Institute found that up to 1,325 Android apps were gathering data, despite the researchers’ apps denying them permission to access that data. But whether Google decides to implement privacy notifications, however, is a different story.

And:

Maximilian Golla, a security researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Security and Privacy says that the business model on Android is different from iOS. “I wonder whether the app developers really want to change this, or Google really wants to implement such a feature, because they depend on this kind of tracking,” he thinks. “Google makes its money from Google AdSense, and I would be surprised if Google implements such a tracking notification.”

It would definitely be interesting to see Google copy this behavior from Apple. Both from a business perspective (not really in their interests to do so) and to see what it would reveal about snooping behavior of its apps.

Tim Hardwick, MacRumors:

In iOS 14, Apple introduced a Translate app that can translate several different languages in real-time, and Safari picked up new translation capabilities, too.

Thanks to the new webpage Translation feature, Safari will automatically detect if it can translate a foreign webpage you visit based on your Preferred Languages list. Keep reading to learn how it all works.

At the time of writing, supported languages include English, Spanish, Simplified Chinese, French, German, Russian, and Brazilian Portuguese.

Follow the headline link for the details. Interesting that this works on iPad, yet the new Translate app is iPhone only.

Follow the headline link, take a look at the images to get a sense of the change. I definitely prefer the darker Dark Mode.

The Verge:

Google has discontinued the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL, its flagship phones that were released in October of last year. Both devices are out of stock in Google’s store in the US, though some variants are still available in other regions for the time being.

And, from Google:

“Google Store has sold through its inventory and completed sales of Pixel 4 [and] 4 XL,” a Google spokesperson confirms to The Verge. “For people who are still interested in buying Pixel 4 [and] 4 XL, the product is available from some partners while supplies last. Just like all Pixel devices, Pixel 4 will continue to get software and security updates for at least three years from when the device first became available on the Google Store in the US.”

When I first read this, I was shocked. But this seems to be the industry trend now, as advances in supply chain management and just in time inventory makes it easy to shift sales to the newest models only.

Take a look at the Apple Store iPhone page. The only models listed are the iPhones 11, the SE, and the “ancient” iPhone XR. New normal?

Apple shares gorgeous Vertical Cinema, made for iPhone by Academy Award winner Damien Chazelle

First things first, from Damien Chazelle’s Wikipedia page:

Damien Sayre Chazelle (born January 19, 1985) is a French-American film director, producer, and screenwriter.[3] He is best known for his films Whiplash (2014), La La Land (2016), and First Man (2018). For La La Land, he received several accolades, including the Golden Globe Award and the Academy Award for Best Director; making him the youngest person to win either award at age 32.

I’d love to hear the backstory on how Apple brought Chazelle to this project. No matter, fire this up on your iPhone, it’s a great experience. Can’t help but wonder if we’ll someday see a director’s cut of a movie designed for your phone. An excellent experiment.

Embedded below the movie is a behind-the-scenes, Chazelle talking about the project and shooting vertically.

August 5, 2020

“The Way I See It” trailer

Focus Features:

From the Academy Award-winning producer of FREE SOLO and based on the #1 NY Times Best-Seller by Pete Souza, Chief White House Photographer for Barack Obama, @The Way I See It is in theaters September.

Based on the New York Times #1 bestseller comes The Way I See It, an unprecedented look behind the scenes of two of the most iconic Presidents in American History, Barack Obama and Ronald Reagan, as seen through the eyes of renowned photographer Pete Souza. As Official White House Photographer, Souza was an eyewitness to the unique and tremendous responsibilities of being the most powerful person on Earth. The movie reveals how Souza transforms from a respected photojournalist to a searing commentator on the issues we face as a country and a people.

Souza is an incredible photographer with a unique ability to capture the formal and informal images of the POTUS. But, along the way, he has also become a political voice of change.

Mel Magazine:

Many home office setups include a printer. But the cost of a printer pales in comparison to the price of ink. Why? Is this some kind of racket? What the hell is special about ink, anyway?

“Think of the original price tag of a printer more like a down payment,” says Rich Sulin, who tests printers for Consumer Reports. One company, IHS Markit, disassembles various consumer electronics and estimates the cost to build them. It turns out that some printers are sold at a loss: A $70 HP printer actually costs $120 to manufacture.

Printer manufacturers hook you by selling you the product for cheap, and the replacement parts for a lot more money. Printer ink is proprietary and non-compatible with other brands, so they do their best to erect a fence around your purchase. According to Consumer Reports, over five years, ink for some printers can cost up to $700!

My family has very little need for a printer any more. We have a workhorse Brother B&W laser printer for printing off documents but, because of the rip-off that is the cost of inkjet printers, we’ll likely never buy another one.

CNET:

Apple announced in its third-quarter earnings call on July 30 that it had approved a four-for-one stock split. This would make the fifth time the iPhone maker split its stock — and the first time since 2014.

After Apple’s four-for-one split, shareholders will have four times the number of shares as before. The value of each share will be quartered, however, meaning that the value of a shareholder’s stake will remain unchanged. Apple stock closed at $438.66 on Tuesday.

Once a stock price decreases after a split, the theory goes, more investors will buy shares, boosting the price. Mathematically, the company’s overall market cap remains unchanged.

Many of us can’t afford to buy stock in Apple at the $400 mark but we might be able to get a few shares after the split when it goes down to $100+.

MacRumors:

Longtime Mac developer Rogue Amoeba today announced the launch of SoundSource 5, the next-generation version of its software utility that gives you much greater control over audio on your Mac.

For those unfamiliar with SoundSource, it lives right in the menu bar and gives you quick access to volume levels and input/output devices, as well as the ability to adjust volume levels and output devices on a per-app basis. Audio effects like equalizers can also be applied on a per-app basis.

I was a beta tester for SoundSource 5 and it works as advertised. I really like the ability to send sound to different apps at different volumes and audio quality. NOTE: SoundSource 5 is NOT yet compatible with the macOS Big Sur beta but Rogue Amoeba promises an update prior to the public launch of Big Sur.

This iPad sees for you

This is an amazing project, a tactile (think interactive simplified Braille) interface, attached to an iPad with Lidar. The idea is that you walk with this device and the camera tells you about obstacles in your path via this interface.

While this is a relatively simple interface, it does show a path towards something much more complex. I can imagine adding audio (via AirPods, say) to the interface to give you even more clues about the path and obstacles ahead.

Tim Hardwick, MacRumors:

To max out the RAM at checkout, Apple charges an additional $2,600, which is like buying another whole ‌iMac‌. Fortunately, the memory in the 27-inch ‌iMac‌ is user-replaceable thanks to the easily-accessible memory backdoor slot, and there are far more affordable options available from third parties.

Third party RAM prices vs Apple’s add-on price:

  • 128GB (4 x 32GB DIMMs): Amazon ($599) vs Apple ($2,600)
  • 64GB (4 x 16GB DIMMs) – Amazon ($269) vs Apple ($1,000)
  • 32GB (2 x 16GB DIMMs) – Amazon ($135) vs Apple ($400)

Same as it ever was. But good reminder for folks ordering the new iMac.

Some amazing work by map master Justin O’Beirne, laying out some easy to follow before-and-afters on changes to Apple Maps in Japan, including an interesting data source detail.

That last led me down a tiny bit of a rabbit hole to this, a page describing all the data sources for Apple Maps.

Charlie Monroe:

On Aug 4, 2020 I woke up to a slightly different world – I had lost my business as it seemed. Full inbox of reports of my apps not launching (crashing on launch) and after not too long I found out that when I sign into my Apple developer account I can no longer see that I would be enrolled into Apple’s developer program – au contraire – it shows a button for me to enroll, which I tried clicking, but only got a message that I can’t do that.

After more investigation, I found out that the distribution certificates were revoked – evidently by Apple as no one else has access to them and I was sound asleep when all this happened. Each macOS app these days needs to be codesigned using an Apple-issued certificate so that the app will flawlessly work on all computers. When Apple revokes the certificate, it’s generally a remove kill-switch for the apps.

I got really frightened as all of sudden, no user was able to use my apps anymore.

This is an interesting read. Clearly, a mistake was made and Apple did apologize.

Do check that alert that popped up when users launched Charlie’s app. That’d certainly make me wonder about the safety of the software I was running.

August 4, 2020

Engadget:

With theaters closed, Disney has decided to try a “premiere access” release strategy for its live-action Mulan movie. While it still plans to attempt a theatrical release in some parts of the world, on September 4th subscribers will be able to watch it at home for $30 via Disney+.

Disney CEO Bob Chapek announced the decision on his company’s earnings call, where it also announced it’s topped more than 100 million streaming subscribers across all of its services. He called it a “one-off,” but also said it’s “very interesting to be able to take a new offering, our premiere access offering, to consumers at that $29.99 price and learn from it.”

The $200 million-budgeted blockbuster was originally supposed to premiere in theaters on March 21st, but the coronavirus pandemic changed all of that.

Many people, myself included, have predicted this is the (relatively near) future of movies. Disney is just paving the way.

CNBC:

UCLA on Tuesday said it is launching a three-year study to better understand how factors such as sleep, physical activity, heart rate and daily routines impact symptoms of depression and anxiety.

UCLA is working with Apple to design the study, which will use data collected by the iPhone, Apple Watch and Beddit sleep-tracker, which Apple gained in a 2017 acquisition.

The university said that the pilot phase of the study will kick off this week and involves 150 participants recruited from among UCLA Health patients. From there, the next phases of the research will expand out to 3,000 participants from both the hospital and the student body. Study participants will download an app onto their iPhones, then receive a Beddit sleep monitor and an Apple Watch, which they can use throughout the study.

The study can be done entirely remotely so that people won’t need to risk exposure during the pandemic.

I don’t know if this is such a great time to be starting a “three-year depression study.” 2020 might skew the results.

Phil Schiller’s greatest stunt

In honour of his semi-retirement, I wanted to post this from Macworld Expo in New York City in 1999. I was in the audience when it happened and while we recognized it as a stunt, it was still pretty impressive. You have to remember that, even though WiFi was available, it was generally only in a corporate environment at the time and was hellaciously expensive. Apple, Schiller, Jobs, and the iBook democratized that and brought it to the huddled masses – and we broke free.