August 13, 2020

Om Malik:

Uber and Lyft, in response to a California court ruling that all drivers must be reclassified as employees with benefits, are threatening to quit doing business in the state. Putting the news, and the legal posturing of Uber and Lyft aside, the judgment and its possible impact on other gig-economy companies that rely on independent contractors will be a quagmire. But it raises more profound questions that go far beyond these startups, and our society.

Admittedly, there are many more questions than answers right now.

Starting as early as Monday, Apple TV+ subscribers will be able to access both the CBS and Showtime channels in Apple’s TV app for $9.99 per month combined. CBS All Access and Showtime normally cost $9.99 and $10.99 per month respectively, so the deal would be a significant savings.

Now that is a good deal. If Apple does this, I will add this bundle to the Apple Channels I already purchased, and I’ll feel great about the price. Basically, I’ll be paying for Showtime and getting CBS for free, which is about how much it’s worth.

First things first, here’s the link to Fortnite on the App Store. Unless the change has not yet propogated, this link should now be dead. Do a search for Fortnite on the App Store, that’s a dead-end too.

If you are new to this fast moving story, a bit from this backgrounder from CNBC’s Kit Leswing:

Fortnite maker Epic Games on Thursday announced new payment options that allow customers to buy in-game credits direct from Epic Games on both Android and iPhone.

The direct payment option to Epic appears to skirt Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store rules, which require Epic to give those firms a 30% cut of revenue made through the app.

Push came to shove, Epic challenged Apple (and Google), and Apple pushed back.

And now Epic Games has responded with this just-filed legal action.

Feels like a boiling pressure cooker, about to blow.

First things first, credit where credit is due, I lifted this straight from this Daring Fireball post.

That said, this really is remarkable. I love this format, lets you see the meticulous shot recreation. For example, about 40 seconds in, watch how well Lydia matches the footfalls of the original. Exquisite.

And if you’ve never seen the original, carve out some time this weekend to watch. It is currently streaming on HBO Max.

Nice find, Gruber.

Bloomberg:

Apple Inc. is readying a series of bundles that will let customers subscribe to several of the company’s digital services at a lower monthly price, according to people with knowledge of the effort.

The bundles, dubbed “Apple One” inside the Cupertino, California-based technology giant, are planned to launch as early as October alongside the next iPhone line, the people said. The bundles are designed to encourage customers to subscribe to more Apple services, which will generate more recurring revenue.

Follow the headline link for details, but this has been long-rumored, and definitely seems believable.

I think it would bring in people who like one particular service and are willing to bump their monthly payout to get other services at a discount. Same with people on the fence about subscribing to any one service.

I love this idea, hope it’s true, can’t wait for the October event.

New York Post:

News Corp. will continue to allow tech giant Apple to disseminate its news articles through the Apple News platform because the arrangement is helping introduce new readers to The Wall Street Journal, CEO Robert Thomson said.

Thomson said Apple News is connecting new readers to WSJ, ­including women and young people who might not otherwise be aware of its breadth of news coverage ­beyond business news.

That goes to the core of Apple’s argument for News+, that it will bring new awareness and a new audience to a news publisher.

As to the makeup of that audience, CEO Thomson continues:

It is a genuinely different audience. It’s actually, of late, more women than men. For The Wall Street Journal ­itself, it’s more men than women.

Certainly good news for Apple News+. Turning point? At the very least, validation of their model.

From the iOS 13.6.1 update that just dropped:

Addresses an issue where unneeded system data files might not be automatically deleted when available storage is low.

If memory is an issue for you, this is a much needed fix. See also, this related Apple support article on solving the chicken and egg problem where you don’t have enough space to download the update that solves the you don’t have enough space problem.

Apple:

Apple TV+ today announced a series order for “Harriet the Spy,” the first animated adaptation of the iconic children’s novel that chronicles the coming-of-age adventures of the irrepressible Harriet M. Welsch.

More fruit from this past May’s Apple TV+ deal with the Jim Henson Company, the deal that rebooted Fraggle Rock.

August 12, 2020

This Apple IIe product video is a real slice of history. The whole thing is worth watching, but the highlight is at 3:23, Steve Jobs as you’ve likely never seen him before.

Nice find from Justin Miller.

Deadline:

Two and one-half months after it stepped up to become the producers of Killers of the Flower Moon, Apple has inked a first-look deal with its director, Martin Scorsese. The master filmmaker will base his Sikelia Productions banner at Apple in a multi-year deal for film and television projects Scorsese will produce and direct for Apple TV +.

Great move for Apple. Yet another reason I am bullish on Apple TV+.

Filipe Espósito, 9to5Mac:

In addition to Listen Now, the beta version of the Apple Music website now features a refreshed design to reflect the changes made to the Music app on iOS 14 and macOS Big Sur. The sidebar icons are all highlighted in red and the Mix playlists have been updated with new animated artworks.

Unfortunately, Apple Music Web still lacks important features such as the ability to edit playlists and song lyrics. Despite that, the Apple Music website is a convenient alternative to access Apple Music on other devices without the Music app or iTunes.

The official Apple Music web site is at music.apple.com. The new beta site is at beta.music.apple.com.

Microsoft’s Windows blog:

Today, as we look ahead to the next wave of mobile productivity and creativity, we see that same opportunity to create something new with Surface Duo – not to reinvent the phone, but to inspire people to rethink how they want to use the device in their pocket.

I’m intrigued. I like the form factor, though it is about 20% wider than the iPhone 11 Pro Max, so it stretches the concept of a pocketable device. The Surface Duo is 93.3mm wide (3.67″) and the iPhone 11 Pro Max is 77.8mm wide (3.06″)

Not sure why, but this design appeals to me much more than the Samsung Galaxy Fold, feels more stable somehow, the design somehow sleeker.

To see this for yourself, check out the video embedded below. Will Apple follow one of these paths to create an iPhone/iPad hybrid? If so, will it be a true foldable? A hinged device like the new Surface Duo? Or something entirely new?

NorthJersey.com:

The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled Monday that a criminal defendant can be compelled to reveal his cellphone passcode to investigators, rejecting the argument that such a move violates the right against self-incrimination guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

In a closely watched case, the state’s top court narrowly sided with prosecutors seeking access to the phone data of a former Essex County sheriff’s officer accused of secretly working with a Bloods street gang. The court ruled 4-3, in a case that could have far-reaching implications for criminal investigations in New Jersey.

Click the headline link for details on the case. But this is an important piece of the ruling:

The state argued that even if the passcodes were considered testimony, Andrews should be required to provide them under a body of case law known as the “foregone conclusion exception” to the Fifth Amendment. The Prosecutor’s Office said Lowery told investigators about the text messages, which it used as a basis to obtain the search warrant. Thus, the texts were a “foregone conclusion” — they were known to exist — and the only thing stopping the state from seeing those potential pieces of evidence was Andrews, who knew the passcode.

This narrows the precedent. Still, a big ruling. Fascinating read. I expect this case to come up as an argument in future cases in other jurisdictions. A matter of time before an argument based on this case makes its way to the US Supreme Court.

Apple:

Apple today revealed that “Tehran,” the new espionage thriller from “Fauda” writer Moshe Zonder, will premiere globally Friday, September 25 on Apple TV+. The eight-episode series will premiere with the first three episodes, followed by new episodes weekly, every Friday.

“Tehran” tells the thrilling story of a Mossad agent who goes deep undercover on a dangerous mission in Tehran that places her and everyone around her in dire jeopardy.

The Apple TV+ engine continues to turn out content. Hard to believe the service started less than 10 months ago.

August 11, 2020

As I mentioned yesterday, today is Woz’s 70th birthday. Follow the headline link for the details on tonight’s live event.

In the meantime, check out this official birthday song written by “song a day” songwriter extraordinaire Jonathan Mann. Excellent video.

Happy Birthday, Woz!

In a nutshell, the idea is to add an alternate appearance to Face ID taken with your mask folded in half, covering one side of your face.

Have not had the chance to test this yet, so I’m taking this with a grain of salt. But worth a try.

AP:

In a letter to CEO Tim Cook obtained by The Associated Press, Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Patrick Foye said riders have been seen removing their masks to unlock their phones using face-recognition technology, despite a recent update by Apple that simplifies the unlock process for people wearing masks.

And:

“We understand Apple is working to address the issue and know that Apple has a range of technologies at its disposal as a global leader among tech companies,” Foye wrote in the letter sent Sunday. “We urge Apple to accelerate the deployment of new technologies and solutions that further protect customers in the era of COVID-19.”

I’d love a version of Face ID that could recognize me with a mask on. I’d also be OK with a delayed locking scheme that stayed unlocked as long as, say, I continued holding my iPhone in my hand. So if I put my iPhone in my pocket (or let go in any way), it would lock. But if I kept my iPhone in my hand, it’d stay unlocked. Effective for grocery runs, though not perfect.

Om Malik:

It is easy to find a replacement for TikTok. We don’t use Huawei and WeChat as ordinary Americans. But when the blowback comes, it is going to be against a company whose influence in our lives goes beyond its products.

And that company is iPhone maker, Apple.

It is not hard to imagine China retaliating against Apple as a move in the US/China trade wars. Moving on:

Barry Ritholtz, recently noted that “Four industry groups — internet content, software infrastructure, consumer electronics, and internet retailers — account for more than $8 trillion in market value, about a third of the S&P500 and a quarter of total U.S. stock market value of about $35 trillion.” Apple’s market capitalization, which was just shy of $2 trillion last week, is roughly a quarter of that $8 trillion in market value.

Fantastic for Apple, fans of Apple, and Apple shareholders. Moving on:

Google, Facebook, and Netflix, three of the most significant tech stocks don’t have that much China exposure. Apple is the one with the highest China-risk.

And:

Any disruption in Apple’s operations is going to have an impact on its market capitalization. And very quickly, Apple’s misfortunes are going to become America’s misfortunes.

And there’s the Achilles heel. Interesting read.

This all stemmed from this tweet:

Juli Clover, in this MacRumors article:

Apple News in iOS 14 and macOS Big Sur has a toggle that’s designed to open web links from ‌Apple News‌+ publishers directly in ‌Apple News‌, which has the effect of directing users who tap to read a news story in Safari to the ‌Apple News‌ app instead of to the publisher’s website.

And:

Many ‌Apple News‌+ users have been asking for a way to open up web links in ‌Apple News‌+ to avoid paywalls on the web, so ‌Apple News‌+ subscribers that pay for the service are likely to be appreciative of the new feature.

Obviously, iOS 14 is still in beta, so there’s a chance that Apple will change this behavior, or at least turn the toggle off by default, before the official public release.

I’d love to see Apple News+ make it much easier to recover the original link to an article. I can get there by digging through the share panel, but it is certainly not obvious. And Google makes this just as difficult, often offering up a link to a link that takes you to Google’s servers.

This gatekeeping behavior is not helping solve the ” news decline” problem. It’s not helping get publishers paid, and that’s not good for reporters/writers.

Bloomberg:

Apple’s share price rose almost 5% last week, leaving the company Jobs co-founded 44 years ago in his parents’ California home on the cusp of stock-market milestone: a market value of nearly $2 trillion.

And:

It was valued at about $350 billion when Jobs died. Cook, meantime, has joined one of the most elite clubs for CEOs who didn’t actually found the companies they run: his net worth has eclipsed $1 billion, according to calculations by the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Reminds me of this: Name a billionaire who worked for another billionaire while both were billionaires. If you want to guess, reply to this tweet.

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.