May 11, 2021

Apple Support: How to use Sound Recognition on your iPhone or iPad

If you’re not aware of this part of iOS/iPadOS Accessibility settings, take a minute to watch the video. In a nutshell, turn on Sound Recognition to get a notification when, say, the doorbell rings and you’ve got headphones on.

Note that Sound Recognition disables Hey Siri.

Joanna Stern is on a roll. This was both interesting and fun.

Reddit:

I had a trip coming up so i was excited to try them. so i attached an airtag to my big checked luggage using the belkin loop accessory. everything went smooth on the way out, i was able to see it on my flight etc. but on my return flight which had a stop in houston a thief decided to just take the airtag off my suitcase? my luggage came out of baggage claim, so they just removed the airtag.

So the thief wanted an AirTag, saw this as a quick way to snag one? Not a sophisticated theft.

i have it in lost mode and activation lock and i can see someone took it to a suburban neighborhood from the airport.

The story doesn’t fill in the ending, but let the police deal with this. Otherwise you might run into a live tiger, roaming the Houston neighborhood.

Joe Rossignol, MacRumors:

Apple recently released a redesigned Siri Remote with a physical clickpad, but if you have an original Siri Remote laying around that you still plan on using, you may be interested in getting an AirTag case for the remote.

Follow the headline link, check out the images. This looks like a great solution that helps you find your remote (if that’s an issue for you), but also adds a feel to the bottom of the remote so you can easily tell, by touch, the front from the back and top from bottom.

Another thing to keep in mind is that, due to the orientation of the AirTag in the case, the loudness of the built-in speaker may be reduced.

Noted. And, of course, this is for the old remote. Still not certain if there’s a way to track one of the new Apple TV remotes.

Christopher Mims, WSJ:

On Friday, Amazon announced it’s expanding its Sidewalk network, which already includes certain Ring Floodlight Cam and Spotlight models, to include Echo devices released in 2018 and after.

Wrote about Tile joining Sidewalk here.

More from Christopher:

Apple and Amazon are transforming the devices we own into the equivalent of little cell towers or portable Wi-Fi hot spots that can connect other gadgets and sensors to the internet. They have already switched on hundreds of millions—with many more on the way. Instead of serving as wireless hubs solely for your own smartwatches, lights and sensors, your iPhones and Echo speakers can help other people’s gadgets stay connected as well—whether you know it or not.

And:

This announcement comes on the heels of Apple’s AirTag introduction. These coin-size trackers can help locate lost items almost anywhere, because they use the company’s Find My network. Each AirTag sends out a low-powered wireless signal, which can be received by the iPhones, iPads and Macs in a given area.

The kicker:

Yes, perfect strangers are using slivers of our bandwidth, as our devices send out and listen to little chirrups of radio chatter that don’t pertain to us. And you’re now able to leverage the radios and internet connection of countless devices owned by other people, too.

Clearly, Mims is painting an ominous picture here. Not saying he is wrong, the Orwellian potential is certainly there. Question is about privacy. Do you trust Amazon in this scenario? Do you trust Apple?

And where do Google/Facebook/Microsoft fit in to this vast mesh network? Are they simply late to the game? Staying out of it?

May 10, 2021

Derek Hawkins, Washington Post:

He’d been at the Millenia Mall in Orlando for less than an hour when he allegedly zeroed in on the shopper with the bags from Gucci and Louis Vuitton. Now Derrick Maurice Herlong followed closely behind as the man he was planning to rob loaded his purchases into the trunk of a silver Lexus and drove toward downtown, police said.

At some point, the man stopped at a 7-Eleven. That’s when, according to a chain of events described in an arrest affidavit, Herlong and an accomplice took an extraordinary step to ensure they didn’t lose him: They attached a homemade tracking device — an iPhone rigged with magnets — to the bottom of the man’s car.

Then:

Minutes later, the pair cornered the man as he entered a gathering at a nearby apartment, robbing him at gunpoint, stealing his car and fatally shooting another man, 32-year-old Jacaris Rozier, according to police.

Damn. This is kind of an amazing story. Shocking that they risked their iPhone to make this happen. But it wasn’t really their iPhone:

According to the arrest warrant, Herlong laid the groundwork for his alleged crimes weeks earlier at a Panda Express restaurant in another part of town. Investigators said he stole a purse and wallet from a worker there in late January, then used her identification to buy the iPhone at a Metro PCS store.

And:

On Feb. 18, Herlong or someone associated with him activated the phone using an iCloud account in the restaurant worker’s name, according to the affidavit. Investigators said they confirmed the timeline using surveillance footage, receipts and interviews. They also said they found Herlong’s number in the device.

Shocking and terrible.

MKBHD: What is Right to Repair?

This is a thoughtful exploration of Right to Repair, with a bit of a focus on Apple that widens to look at other companies as well.

Some worth-watching appearances by Louis Rossman and Simone Giertz. Riveting, all the way through.

Amazon:

Tile, a leading finding service that locates millions of misplaced items every single day, will join Amazon Sidewalk beginning June 14, further strengthening your Tile finding experience. Tile uses Bluetooth technology to locate lost items, and with Sidewalk, your compatible Echo devices will be able to extend Tile’s network coverage even further to help you securely locate your misplaced keys, wallets, and other items.

Wondering if this impacts Tile’s antitrust complaints against Apple.

One point that leaps out at me: Apple introduced Find My in 2010. Tile was founded at the end of 2012, more than two years later.

My two cents: A lot of time has passed since Tile was introduced. AirTag seems a pretty natural evolution, not something Apple cooked up in response to Tile.

Ben Lovejoy, 9to5Mac:

VanMoof was one of the very first companies to do this. Their bikes don’t have the U1 chip for precision finding, but that would probably be rather over-the-top for something the size of a bicycle! The feature is really only useful for homing in on the last 15 feet or so, at which distance you can hardly miss your bike.

If you are interested in this bike, follow the headline link and read on. Scroll all the way to the bottom for the discussion of Find My.

There’s been lots of discussion in the twitterverse about AirTag and how to best attach one to a bike. If it’s too obvious, any bike thief would likely remove it quickly. My thinking is, put it under the saddle or, if possible, embed it inside the saddle.

But having the tech built-n and compatible with Apple Find My is the perfect solution. And it’s an electric bike, so no battery to replace.

One final note from Ben:

Oh, and by the way, Apple: Find My is a horribly awkward name even before I diarised it. Please rename it to Apple Find. Thank you.

Noted.

Shot on iPhone 12, Everyday Experiments

I’m a fan of Apple’s Everyday Experiments series, and this one does not disappoint. Some solid inspiration, with some slow-mo, stop-motion, and time lapse experiments that you can most likely repeat, even if you don’t own an iPhone 12.

May 7, 2021

A tech industry veteran, Low has done stints at Unisys and Dell, where she served as senior vice president of communications. She’ll report directly to Apple CEO Tim Cook.

Apple confirmed the hire, offering the following statement: “Stella brings her remarkable experience and leadership to Apple’s world-class communications teams. Apple has an important story to tell — from the transformative products and services we make, to the positive impacts we have on our communities and the world — and Stella is a great leader to help us write the next chapter.”

The big question for someone at this level at Apple is not qualifications, but whether or not they fit the Apple culture. That will be her biggest hurdle—It starts and stops there.

The Dalrymple Report: AirTags with Android, the sophomore curse

Dave and I spent some time talking about the AirTags and whether or not Apple should make some of the safety features work with Android (they shouldn’t). We also talked about the sophomore curse as it relates to the second season of Apple TV+ shows being released.

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May 6, 2021

Hawaii Pacific Health:

Newborn baby Raymond Mounga has some new aunties and an uncle for life, according to mom Lavinia “Lavi” Mounga, who unexpectedly delivered Raymond on a Delta Airlines flight from Salt Lake City, Utah, to Honolulu on Wednesday, April 28. Luckily for mom and baby, Hawaii Pacific Health Family Medicine Physician Dr. Dale Glenn and North Kansas City Hospital NICU Nurses Lani Bamfield, Amanda Beeding and Mimi Ho were also on board the flight to help with the delivery and provide care for mom and baby until the flight landed in Honolulu.

And the Apple Watch?

Given that airplanes also aren’t equipped to provide care for a premature baby, Dr. Glenn had to rely on previous wilderness medicine training. He and the nurses used a couple of shoelaces to tie and cut through the umbilical cord, made baby warmers out of bottles that were microwaved, and used an Apple Watch to measure the baby’s heart rate.

Apple should find that baby, give its parents some new baby gifties.

This story is a great example of how valuable Apple Watch has become. It’s a Swiss Army Knife of tech we carry with us wherever we go. And in this case, it pitched in when real hospital equipment wasn’t available.

Though the video below is old, it shows how an Apple Watch can track a newborn’s heart rate.

Josh Centers, TidBITS:

I subscribe to a few podcasts in the Podcasts app but generally leave downloads off to save space—streaming works fine for me. However, a few weeks ago, I specifically tracked down and downloaded an episode of the Ham Radio Crash Course podcast so I could listen to it while driving out of cellular range. I didn’t subscribe to the podcast, as I don’t usually listen to it, but I was interested in that particular episode.

When I opened the new Podcasts app on my iPhone, I found that it had me “following” Ham Radio Crash Course—you no longer “subscribe” to podcasts in the Podcasts app, but instead “follow” them like “friends” on social media—and it had downloaded episodes before and after the only one I intended to download.

I went to Settings > General > iPhone Storage and was aghast to discover that the Podcasts app was now taking up 14.2 GB of space. Luckily, I have 256 GB of storage and plenty of free space on my iPhone, but if I’d had less available storage, it could have gotten awkward quickly.

Read the post for Josh’s take on Apple’s re-rolled Podcast app and details on how to turn off downloads.

But even if you don’t do that, do jump into Settings > General > iPhone Storage and see if Podcasts is using a significant amount of space. If so, do read the article and adjust as necessary.

I am a long-time Overcast user and I’ve made the switch to the new version of Podcast. I am determined to give it a chance. Having used Overcast for such a long time, the Podcast interface took some getting used to. But I’ve now got a sense of how to get my podcasts set up and followed.

One thing I love about the new Podcast app: The Browse tab is great for discovery. There’s the top charts/episodes if you want to see what’s popular. And down below that, a great set of categories to explore. Not sure if this has always been there, but this Browse tab setup is new to me. Remember, I’ve lived in Overcast for a long time.

As a side note, the integration with Apple Watch/Siri feels rock solid. This is important to me.

If you are new to Podcast, or considering making the switch from Overcast, be sure to read Users Despair at Apple Podcasts App After iOS 14.5 Update.

I started from scratch and have experienced none of these issue, but clearly the problems exist and are worth knowing about.

Let me start this off with a caveat. Just as an iOS or macOS beta should only be used on a testing device, not on your daily carry, this AirTag dev mode may have unpredictable results and render your AirTag unusable (though I’m guessing a reset will fix that).

With that in mind, as far as I can tell, you fire up dev mode by tapping the name (upper-left) 5 times.

Here’s a video showing off this debug mode. Can’t help but think Apple will change this over time, but not sure there’s any way for them to update the AirTag firmware, so I’d guess this quintuple-tap will work for the first gen AirTag for life.

Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone:

McElhenney and company came back together last spring for easily the best Zoom-based episode anyone made in the early months of the pandemic. The tech-world setting fit easily into a format where the characters could — with one notable, poignant exception — only interact virtually, while the tension we were all feeling at that precarious moment wound up enhancing the jokes rather than undercutting them.

That’s no hyperbole. Last fall’s pandemic episode was beautifully written, edited, and poignant. No easy thing to do when every actor was remote.

That quarantine story was a tremendous achievement, and Mythic Quest continues to level up in Season Two, even with the characters all back in the office together.

There’s a thing called the sophomore jinx. Think a hugely popular artist’s second album, or a director’s second movie, an author’s second book.

The sophomore jinx is a real thing, and I worried about sophomore seasons from both Mythic Quest and Ted Lasso. Fortunately, from everything I’ve seen and read, both shows look to have found their path to keeping things fresh, funny, and charming.

Dr. Ian Cutress, AnandTech:

Every decade is the decade that tests the limits of Moore’s Law, and this decade is no different. With the arrival of Extreme Ultra Violet (EUV) technology, the intricacies of multipatterning techniques developed on previous technology nodes can now be applied with the finer resolution that EUV provides. That, along with other more technical improvements, can lead to a decrease in transistor size, enabling the future of semiconductors. To that end, Today IBM is announcing it has created the world’s first 2 nanometer node chip.

Used to be, nanometer size had a very specific meaning related to transistor dimensions. That meaning is in the rear view mirror:

While the process node is being called ‘2 nanometer’, nothing about transistor dimensions resembles a traditional expectation of what 2nm might be. In the past, the dimension used to be an equivalent metric for 2D feature size on the chip, such as 90nm, 65nm, and 40nm. However with the advent of 3D transistor design with FinFETs and others, the process node name is now an interpretation of an ‘equivalent 2D transistor’ design.

Some of the features on this chip are likely to be low single digits in actual nanometers, such as transistor fin leakage protection layers, but it’s important to note the disconnect in how process nodes are currently named.

As long as one manufacturer’s 2nm is equivalent to another manufacturer’s 2nm in terms of performance, this seems fair.

Today’s announcement states that IBM’s 2nm development will improve performance by 45% at the same power, or 75% energy at the same performance, compared to modern 7nm processors.

Good to know. For comparison, Apple’s A14 Bionic and M1 are both 5nm.

May 5, 2021

A few days ago, we posted about MKBHD: Apple vs The Paradox of Choice!. If you’ve not watched the video, dig in, then press on.

With that as background, enter Gruber:

The problem for a company like Tile — to name one high-profile company that is not pleased by Apple’s entry into its market — is that location tags are inherently simple, and Apple’s Find My network is bigger and better than Tile’s device network. Everything about AirTags is better than Tile, if you’re an iOS user. So it goes. If the answer to the question “Would this add-on be better, and be useful to many users, if it were built into the system?” is yes, you should expect it to be built into the system sooner or later.

Perfect take. Tile’s complaint would have more teeth if they had built a product that was better than AirTag. You could argue that Apple has an unfair advantage, but Apple built that themselves, over the course of many years, with much effort and sunk cost. It’d be one thing if they made some corrupt side deal, bribing government officials or the like. But they did the work. AirTag is an ingenious product that takes advantage of a massive, R&D fueled, years in the making build-out.

Apple does, indeed have a built-in advantage. But they built it themselves.

Signal blog:

We created a multi-variant targeted ad designed to show you the personal data that Facebook collects about you and sells access to. The ad would simply display some of the information collected about the viewer which the advertising platform uses.

I love the idea behind these ads. Total transparency, sharing with you an up-to-the-moment picture of what Facebook is sharing with its advertisers.

And I love the execution of the ads. Follow the headline link, look at the examples. Easy to follow, devastatingly personal.

What I absolutely hate is that Facebook killed the ads. To me, this perfectly reflects Facebook’s fight with Apple. But Facebook can’t simply delete Apple’s transparency effort.

Props to Signal for these ads. Props to Apple for their transparency push.

William Hughes, AV Club:

As one of the most consistently thoughtful shows currently being made about the creative process that also happens to feature awful people doing fairly awful things to each other on a semi-regular basis, for fun, Mythic Quest excels at finding deeper and nastier ways at cutting its cast, and its fans, to their cores.

And:

It’s to that end that the show’s second season picks up right where its first (and two excellent, pandemic-themed inter-season episodes) left off, as visionary game designer Ian Grimm (Rob McElhenney) and long-suffering chief engineer Poppy Li (Charlotte Nicdao) try to figure out how to share authority in the wake of Ian promoting Poppy to be his equal on their massively successful online game.

Mild spoilers in the review, but looks like season 2 is not letting up on the gas pedal, which is a good thing. One of my favorite shows, looking forward to binging it.

Jennifer Daniel:

“WHAT IS THE DEAL WITH THE HANDSHAKE EMOJI?” It’s a good question and worth asking in all caps. Of our many body part emoji that have skintone, Handshake (🤝) appears to be left by the wayside. After inquiring with the Unicode Technical Committee (UTC) it was clear there was a desire to address it and it was possible to fix but no one had yet proposed an appropriate solution to make it happen.

This is a well written, entertaining look at the process of moving from a need (handshakes did not represent multiple skin tones) to a reality in the emoji universe.

May 4, 2021

Ben Lovejoy, 9to5Mac:

Yesterday saw Apple’s AirTags withdrawn from sale by Australian retail chain Officeworks, apparently over child safety concerns. Officeworks has more than 160 stores across the country.

While the issue is currently limited to a single chain, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) confirmed concerns over ease of access to the button battery used in the device.

And:

There has been a lot of concern in Australia about the CR2032 battery used in AirTag, many watches, and other small products. Since 2013, three children have died after swallowing them, and around 20 children a week are taken to ER for the same reason.

Perhaps Apple should add a “keep out of the hands of small children” warning on the box.

Tim Hardwick, MacRumors:

On the face of it, sharing the location of an AirTag via Apple’s Family Sharing feature should be a no-brainer, since individual members in a Family Sharing group can use the Find My app to see the location of other family members’ Apple devices, including iPhones, iPads, Macs, AirPods, and Apple Watches.

Seems a fair point. I can find my wife’s iPhone or Mac, but not her AirTagged item.

Is this intentional, some privacy aspect that Apple is protecting here? Or is it early days still, with the AirTag team still building out the various tracking mechanisms?

There’s an absolute torrent of things to read about Apple vs Epic Games, or Epic Games vs Apple (which is more proper, IMO, since Epic Games is the plaintiff here).

Here are three relatively short reads that bring up the major points at the heart of this case:

There’s too much to try to snapshot any of this here. But if you are interested in the blow-by-blow of this case, start with these three, and you’ll quickly get a sense of the major players, as well as the key issues in the case.

Before you dig into the article, note there are spoilers. Also, the reviewer did not see the original Harrison Ford movie, which I see as a good thing, since this show is such a different take on the original source material.

That said, this bit struck me:

After the first two episodes, it’s hard to say much more about the story because we don’t know that much. Allie did something in the past that got him in trouble with the feds, and now he and his family are on the run, and we honestly don’t know if Allie is in the right or the wrong. That’s it. That’s the show.

And:

But it’s an intriguing one. It’s an action thriller — the first two episodes are basically one continuous action sequence — but it’s engrossing and at times breathtaking. It comes from Neil Cross (Luther), so for a family-driven thriller, it’s surprisingly violent. Less surprising, however, is how intense it is.

It’s on my list. Though there’s a river of content on that list, and more coming every week. The equation is changing. It used to be, I needed access to a bundle to get enough quality shows to fill my available viewing time. We’re now at the point where just two or three services will do that. And given that I get Apple TV+ and Amazon for free (in effect), I am really starting to think about what other services are worth keeping around.

Just to complete the picture, here’s the latest explainer trailer for the show.

Deadline:

Apple Original Films won a very competitive weekend auction among streamers to land the Tom Hanks-starrer Finch, an Amblin Entertainment sci-fi film that previously carried the title Bios and was originally intended to be released by Universal. It will now be released on Apple TV+ later this year, likely in awards season, with a qualifying theatrical run at least in the cards.

And:

In Finch, a man, a robot and a dog form an unlikely family, as the man tries to ensure his beloved canine companion will be cared for after he’s gone. Hanks stars as Finch, a robotics engineer and one of the few survivors of a cataclysmic solar event that has left the world a wasteland.

This so reminds me of the 1975 film A Boy and His Dog, based on the Harlan Ellison novel and starring a very young Don Johnson. The tagline:

A young man and his telepathic dog wander a post-apocalyptic wasteland.

This will be the third Tom Hanks deal with Apple Original Films:

It becomes the second major Tom Hanks vehicle to transplant to Apple Original Films, after it acquired the World War II thriller Greyhound from Sony Pictures and saw it turn in strong viewing numbers as Apple TV+’s most watched film, and get an Oscar nomination. It’s actually the third Hanks deal if you count Masters of the Air, the WWII event miniseries developed at HBO and executive produced by Hanks and his Playtone partner Gary Goetzman, and Amblin Television. That miniseries, directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga, is currently in production.

Apple Original Films continues to build up critical mass.

May 3, 2021

MKBHD: Apple vs The Paradox of Choice!

MKBHD offers his take on Apple and the companies that swim in Apple’s wake, making money building products that work within the Apple ecosystem. A fascinating, if cynical, look at the choice Apple offers: Use Apple designed product, with an insider’s edge, or a third party product without that edge.

Well laid out.

David Flyn, Executive Traveller:

While airlines have banned rechargeable lithium-ion battery packs from checked luggage (including so-called ‘smart luggage’), this doesn’t apply to the tiny single-use lithium CR2023 cells. Besides which, they’re already in millions of Tiles and key fobs sitting in cargo holds.

And, on tracking your luggage through the moving luggage belts:

The first issue is that the AirTag’s “live here-I-am tracking” isn’t intended for objects that are moving, unless they’re doing so at the most leisurely pace.

And while the average airport luggage belt is no threat to Usain Bolt, it runs too fast for the AirTag’s virtual hand-waving to be properly identified by your iPhone.

And:

Even with an iPhone 12 to take advantage of Precision Finding, the only time the AirTagged bag appeared on my screen while being carried along the belt was when it was literally right in front of me.

That is worth knowing.

What the AirTag might be able to do – if Apple’s willing to entertain this in a future software update – would be to send a notification to your iPhone once it comes within Bluetooth range, such as when your bag lands on the carousel.

And:

AirTags have a clear application to help find anything you might travel with but also risk leaving behind or losing: your passport wallet, a briefcase or jacket, even the carry case where your noise-cancelling headphones reside when not in use

And:

Putting the AirTag inside the bag instead of on the external strap made no discernible difference to the range or accuracy of tracking.

This post was jam full of useful info on what to expect when you stick an AirTag inside your luggage.

What happens when you enable an AirTag, then pop it in the mail?

YouTuber AirTagAlex lives in The Netherlands, wrote an Automator action to grab screenshots from Find My as it tracked his AirTag through the mail.

This was an interesting experiment. Looking forward to the follow-on video when Alex does the same thing, but ships the AirTag from The Netherlands to Norway.

If you plan on ordering an AirTag, definitely read and bookmark this Apple support post.

It talks through opening your AirTag to get at the battery (super useful) and how to reset it. The way I read it, to reset the AirTag, you need to remove, replace, and press on the battery (until it makes a sound) 5 times.

Arcane, but not something you need to do often. But if you ever do need to reset your AirTag, you’ll be glad you have these instructions.