November 19, 2019

Koyaanisqatsi was a groundbreaking film from back in 1982 (here’s a link to the Wikipedia page).

If you’ve never heard of it, worth hunting it down, giving it a look (not sure if the YouTube content is posted with permission, but it’s easy enough to find).

The headline linked site offers up a random series of gifs, with the Koyaanisqatsi slow-down, speed-up treatment. Pretty cool.

Much of the new MacBook Pro is still very difficult to repair, but there have been some gains here. Watch the video below to see for yourself. I think the easier to remove trackpad, fans, Thunderbolt ports should give a boost to the repairability score, 1/10 seems harsh.

That aside, this is a gorgeous looking machine.

A nice A/B comparison, highlighting the changes brought by the latest Apple Maps update.

Catalin Cimpanu, ZDNet:

The Disney+ launch was marred by technical issues. Many users reported being unable to stream their favorite movies and shows.

But hidden in the flood of complaints about technical issues was a smaller stream of users reporting losing access to their accounts.

And:

Many users reported that hackers were accessing their accounts, logging them out of all devices, and then changing the account’s email and password, effectively taking over the account and locking the previous owner out.

Currently, once your account is set up, Disney+ does not validate your logins in any way, beyond user id and password. Just like Netflix, but unlike Apple TV+ and unlike HBO. We’ve heard rumblings of Netflix considering a change to this policy but, so far, nothing concrete.

[H/T, Nayan Sthankiya]

Apple:

Starting today, the WWDC app is now the Apple Developer app and delivers in-depth information from Apple experts all year round. Stay up to date with the latest developer news, informative videos, WWDC content, and more.

Smart. Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference is but once a year. Apple is shifting the app to be more of a year round hub for developers.

Interesting comment from Mark Gurman:

One argument against this is the fact that there’s a WWDC tab in the facelifted app. And another, with perhaps less weight, is the emotional tie developers have to the WWDC name.

A series starring the great Gary Oldman (among many other roles, he won an Oscar for playing Churchill in The Darkest Hour, and played Sirius Black in the Harry Potter films), and a British spy series at that?

Yes please.

Travis Clark, Business Insider:

Some of Apple’s launch shows for its new streaming service, Apple TV Plus, have been lagging in audience demand since they debuted on November 1. But “Dickinson” is starting to gain major traction.

The series, starring Hailee Steinfeld as the 19th century poet, recently broke through Parrot Analytics’ top 10 most in-demand original streaming shows.

When I first heard rumors of this show, I struggled to wrap my head around the concept of a show based on a poet, and a poet who lived in the 1800s.

But Dickinson is a charming surprise, and now we learn it has legs too. Have to say, never expected Dickinson to emerge as the most popular Apple TV+ show, but glad to see this well crafted historical dramedy grabbing the spotlight.

November 18, 2019

Bare Bones Software, makers of BBEdit, is one of my favorite software companies — in fact, I’ve been using BBEdit for more than 20 years. BBEdit has been updated to version 13, and is available in the Mac App Store as a subscription! Same great features. Same user experience. You can subscribe in the Mac App Store or purchase perpetual licenses directly from Bare Bones Software. Also, you can still get great merch, including Classic and Rebus T-shirts, enamel pins, and more in their merch store!

AppleInsider:

Apple on Monday announced a special media event in New York on Dec. 2, where the company will name its “favorite apps and games of 2019.”

A venue was not revealed in the invitation sent out to media, but reporter Lance Ulanoff believes the gathering will be an intimate affair focusing on apps.

“Loved by millions. Created by the best,” the invitation tweet reads.

This is just going to be an “event” for Apple’s usual “Best of…” award winners.

Marketwatch:

These unsatisfied customers aren’t giving the Apple Card much credit — and one writer in the popular discussion forum Reddit Inc. outlined what he describes as some of the most salient problems with the card in a social-media post that has gone viral.

The Reddit user, under the name PoliticalGuy2016, delivered a particularly biting critique of Apple’s card in a post entitled, “I’ve owned the Apple Card for 3 months, this is why it sucks compared to other credit cards.”

There are definitely “better” cards but I wouldn’t say the Apple Card “sucks.” I don’t have one so I can only go by the rewards and features offered. Some features of the Apple Card are much better than what others offer but it falls short in other ways as well.

This is a pretty cool web site. If you are on a computer, use the arrow keys to navigate, else swipe left to move along.

This reminds me of the Eames Lounge Chair. Why? The iconic chair was but one of the amazing projects created by Charles and Ray Eames. They also created the film Powers of Ten, which is remarkably similar to the headline-linked web site.

You can watch the movie here. I saw this film when I was a kid, and it changed my way of thinking about things, gave me a sense of perspective, of scale.

People Magazine:

Sam, 21, is on the autism spectrum, and though he’s the epitome of a social butterfly — “People just fall in love with him,” Scott tells PEOPLE — he’s long struggled with an exceptionally loud speaking voice.

“He just never had the ability to modulate it,” says Scott, 59. “For years we’ve been struggling with this, since he started talking… and the voice level is really, really, really loud.”

Enter Apple Watch:

Scott says he was updating his apps one morning when he noticed the Noise app, which measures decibel levels of its users’ surroundings, and turns a corresponding color, flashing yellow when things are loud to the point of risking hearing damage.

And, sharing the app with his son:

“He immediately saw that and started using his own voice to make it work, and then immediately started talking really quietly,” he says. “I was like, you gotta be kidding me. My wife [Cristy] is not gonna believe this. I don’t believe what I’m seeing.”

Great story, yet another example of the life changing power of technology, and the value of Apple Watch.

Perhaps the wildest WILL IT WORK ever

Every so often, I get one of these WILL IT WORK videos sent over, showing some contraption connected to an iPhone, accessing ancient files stored on some obsolete media.

This one is like a set of nested Russian dolls, with a thing, connected to a thing, connected to a thing. But all of it new to me. Fascinating that this stuff “just works” after all these years.

Reddit:

My Fiance is from Mexico and used to C°. Now that the HomePod can tell the difference between us, Siri will now respond to me in F° and to her in C°. Which is a nice but small touch.

This is a small thing, but indicative of a larger trend of HomePod Siri reacting to different voices with preferences stored for each user. Much in the same way as knowing who said, “I love this song” and adjusting the right user’s Apple Music preferences.

That said, I’m still hearing from people who can’t get multiple voices working on their HomePods. And, anecdotally, my wife suddenly disappeared from our setup over the weekend, no idea why.

Bloomberg:

Apple Inc. shipped 10 million iPhones in China during September and October, based on Bloomberg’s calculations from government data on overall and Android device shipments… it shows iPhone shipments up 6% from a year earlier, according to the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology, which is run by the country’s technology ministry.

And:

Apple took major strides to increase battery life in its iPhone 11 and 11 Pro devices while lowering the starting price by $50. After years of stagnation in cameras, the company overhauled the iPhone’s image quality this year, catching up to category leaders Google and Huawei. This approach drew an overwhelmingly positive critical reception.

And:

Beyond new device sales, Apple’s other major challenge there will be to make available more of its lucrative subscription services. As the company transitions to a business model more reliant on recurring fees — such as via iTunes Music, Apple TV+ and Apple Arcade — their unavailability in China becomes increasingly a hurdle to growth.

Interesting to watch Apple’s slow, thoughtful chess moves in one of their most important potential markets.

November 17, 2019

CNET:

When I’m stressed out, playing a video game is one of my favorite ways to unwind. Immersing myself in a good story or puzzle is the perfect distraction after a long day. Apple Arcade, Apple’s $4.99 (£4.99, AU$7.99) monthly gaming subscription service that launched in September, has a catalog of more than 100 games in multiple genres, with new games added all the time. The games are available on iPad, iPhone and Apple TV to start, with content slowly coming to Mac as well.

Since I started using Apple Arcade, I’ve found that many of the games’ aesthetics, soundtracks or tactile nature make them particularly soothing. Here are some of the best games to help you decompress on Apple Arcade so far.

I love “chill out” games and I agree “Patterned” is a great example. But I disagree about “Word Laces.” That’s just a stupid game, IMO.

November 16, 2019

iFixit:

Your long butterfly keyboard nightmare is over. The new Magic Keyboard in the 16-inch MacBook Pro has an almost identical look and feel to much older Apple devices—so close, in fact, that you can swap in old Magic Keyboard keycaps. It feels like a do-over, a throwback, almost an apology.

Customers, press, and those of us who care about device longevity have scored a win. These new keys, which are essentially the old keys, have deeper travel, softer sound, and a more robust design. Replacing a broken switch mechanism still involves disassembling the whole device, and will likely be painful, but, still: this is a practical move, and one we could not have expected until recently.

It’s also an admission, tacit or otherwise, that Apple made a mistake with the butterfly keyboard. Rest assured, this “new” design will be in all future Apple laptops.

Scientific American:

Why do all the pictures you take underwater look blandly blue-green? The answer has to do with how light travels through water. Derya Akkaynak, an oceangoing engineer, has figured out a way to recover the colorful brilliance of the deep.

If you’ve ever taken underwater photos, you’ll know the results are generally pretty disappointing. This technology could change that.

November 15, 2019

The Ringer:

Justified has been on my mind since Ringer chief content officer Sean Fennessey described The Mandalorian as “Justified with blasters” shortly after the new show’s Tuesday release.

As a person who loves Justified deeply, this checks out. Within minutes, The Mandalorian has invited you into a shabby dive bar where two poachers are, in full view of everyone, about to carve up another paying customer, because that’s the sort of thing that can happen in this universe.

The most noticeable commonality between The Mandalorian and Justified is the tone—the long gaps of silence for blank stares to fill with meaning, the wide shots that communicate emptiness and despair, the wear on everything that communicates “this is a hard life, but someone’s gotta live it.” A Western is as much about societal decline as it is about survival and cool-sounding one-liners, and the lead should be a stone wall on which to project all of that.

OK, this is just crazy talk. Justified was one of the best TV series ever. We’re only two episodes in to The Mandalorian. Make no mistake – I loved Justified and I mildly enjoyed The Mandalorian but it will take quite a bit more for the latter to match up to the former.

CNBC:

Since Apple launched its paid news app, Apple News+, in March and signed on 200,000 subscribers in 48 hours, the company has struggled to add customers, according to people familiar with the matter.

Apple promoted the service at the time, telling potential customers that they could access over 300 top publications in categories including news, entertainment and sports for $9.99 a month. But while Apple doesn’t reveal the exact numbers of News+ subscribers to publishers, the figure hasn’t increased materially from its first couple days, said the people, who asked not to be named because those details are confidential.

In recent months, Apple hasn’t put much marketing heft behind Apple News+, a premium product to regular Apple News, which curates top stories for iPhone and iPad owners.

I’m always suspicious of “sources say…” stories but this rings true. Ignoring the stupidity of that last sentence (News+ works just fine on Macs too, you morons), News+ is not a “must have” or even a “this would be nice” product from Apple. It feels half-baked and, at this point, pretty much ignored.

The Dalrymple Report: MacBook Pro and Disney+

Dave and I talk about the new MacBook Pro that Apple released this week, looking beyond the fixed keyboard. We also look at Disney+ and the extraordinary start the the streaming service.

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Mel Magazine:

I can’t help but notice the notorious Times Square mascots. To be honest, I’ve never had much love for these guys — their costumes always look kind of shitty, they seem overly aggressive in their efforts to get pictures taken with them and they’re constantly taking off their giant mascot heads.

But aside from my own personal assumptions and a handful of extremely disturbing news reports, I must admit that I don’t really understand them — who they are, why they do what they do and the rest. So in an effort to broaden my horizons, I decided to spend a day in their fuzzy shoes.

Funny story about an unfunny subject. The last time I was in Times Square, these fake mascots really put me off.

Reddit:

My friend and I both were on a flight but not seated together. Instead of just sending a note through AirDrop back and forth, I had this weird idea… we both have AirPods, so we traded just one each, both turned on Live Listen, and had a little chat! We only tried it to see if it worked. Wasn’t trying to be those guys who talked the whole flight.

This is a pretty interesting idea. Not practical, perhaps, but a fascinating proof-of-concept.

For folks unfamiliar with Live Listen, here’s Apple’s official support document that explains how it works.

Farhad Manjoo, New York Times:

I got an iPad Pro recently, and I’ve fallen madly in love with it.

And:

Apple unveiled a new 16-inch MacBook with a revamped keyboard on Wednesday, good news for the many Apple lovers who’ve been grumbling about the company’s lackluster slate of recent Macs. But I think the iPad is already beginning to eclipse the traditional personal computer. In the four months I’ve had this latest model, the iPad Pro has eaten into the time I spend on my phone and my old-school laptop and desktop. Among other things, I now research and write just about every column using an iPad.

And:

In one of his last interviews before his death in 2011, Jobs declared the iPad to be the future of computing. “PCs are going to be like trucks,” he told the journalists Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg — meaning the traditional Mac and Windows machines would still be around, but like big rigs, they’d be used by a small set of power users for a dwindling set of specific, high-power tasks. The “cars” of the tech industry, as Jobs saw it, would be phones and tablets.

That opening line really caught me by surprise. Not used to such Apple praise from The New York Times. Interesting read, fair take on the iPad’s impact on the PC market.

Apple shares another clip of M. Night Shyamalan’s upcoming Apple TV+ show

As Jim and I discussed on the latest episode of The Dalrymple Report (it’ll drop later today), this is the Apple TV+ show we are both most excited to see. So hoping it lives up to expectations.

Michael Tsai pulled together a terrific collection of various comments and feedback on the new MacBook Pro. Some great takes here, all edited down to their essentials.

Trevor Daugherty, 9to5Mac:

Various retailers, most notably Walmart, are set to offer Apple Watch Series 3 priced from $129 while bringing prices down to new all-time lows in the process.

And:

Apple continued to be undercut on price by competitors like Fitbit and others, which is critical during the holiday shopping season. However, that all changes this year as Apple Watch prepares to hit the mainstream in a whole new way.

Great point. The Apple Watch product line has matured and split, with the current Series 5 at the top and the discount Series 3 at the entry level.

Just as a rumored Apple services bundle would likely increase subscriber numbers, this Black Friday pricing is sure to bring lots more users to the Apple Watch fold.

November 14, 2019

MacStories:

Triode is a new Internet radio app from The Iconfactory for iOS and iPadOS, the Mac, and Apple TV that fills a niche all but abandoned by Apple. Internet radio stations used to claim a more prominent place in iTunes, but in Apple’s new Music app, they have been mostly abandoned in favor of Apple’s own radio stations. A handful of third-party broadcast stations are available in Music, the HomePod can play many more stations, and you can open any station’s stream on a Mac if you know the URL, but that’s it. Triode fills the gap with support for iOS, iPadOS, the Mac, and tvOS, plus CarPlay via the app’s iOS app.

As someone who hasn’t listened to the radio in years, I was a little skeptical of the utility of an Internet radio app at first, but Triode immediately won me over. The app is beautifully-designed, as you’d expect from The Iconfactory, and easy to use. Coupled with Apple’s latest technologies and a set of 31 hand-picked stations, the combination makes for a compelling way to discover new music.

I’ve been playing around with the app for the past 24 hours. I like it overall but it needs more stations and selection.

Apple:

Apple today announced that customers in the US can enroll in three landmark health studies — the Apple Women’s Health Study, the Apple Heart and Movement Study, and the Apple Hearing Study. Conducted in partnership with leading academic and research institutions, these multi-year longitudinal studies are available in the new Research app, which can be downloaded today from the App Store.

Now participants can contribute to potentially groundbreaking medical discoveries with iPhone and Apple Watch, and help create the next generation of innovative health products.

This is yet another example of Apple’s efforts to further increase its lead and presence in the field of personal health. Sadly, it’s US only.

Phil Schiller, one-on-one for the new 16″ MacBook Pro

It’s not quite the same as Phil on stage, heard live around the world but, for me, this is the next best thing.

Jonathan Morrison, one-on-one with Phil Schiller, talking about the newest shiny.