Apple pulls Fortnite from the App Store, Epic Games files legal action

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.

Magnificent, shot-for-shot, homemade in isolation, recreation of 2001: A Space Odyssey

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

That said, this video (embedded in main Loop post) 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 readies subscription bundles to boost digital services

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.

News Corp: Wall Street Journal will stick by Apple News

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.

iOS 13.6.1 update, and clearing unused system storage

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 TV+ greenlights “Harriet the Spy”

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.

Steve Jobs dons yellow vest for Apple IIe product video

[VIDEO] 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. Video embedded in main Loop post.

Apple TV+ inks first-look film & television deal with Martin Scorsese

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+.

Apple relaunches Apple Music beta website with new Listen Now tab

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 intriguing new Surface Duo, available for preorder today

[VIDEO] 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 in the main Loop post. 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?

Prosecutors can force defendants to give up cellphone passcodes, NJ Supreme Court rules

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 TV+ series “Tehran”, an espionage thriller, premiers globally September 25

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.

Jonathan Mann’s official Woz birthday song

[VIDEO] 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 (video embedded in main Loop post) written by “song a day” songwriter extraordinaire Jonathan Mann. Excellent video.

Happy Birthday, Woz!

How to use Face ID with a face mask on iPhone & iPad

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.

MTA asks Apple’s help to solve iPhone mask issues

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.

Apple, China, and the Achilles heel

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.

Apple News+ in iOS 14 opens article web links in Apple News, intercepting traffic from websites

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.

Tim Cook hits billionaire status with Apple nearing $2 trillion

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.

iOS 14: How to use the smaller compact Siri

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.

How to revive Apple’s T2 Security Chip

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.

Opinion: WeChat threat is Cook’s greatest Trump challenge yet

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.

Apple legal vs the pear logo

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.

iOS 14’s best privacy feature? Catching data-grabbing apps

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.

iOS 14: A tour of Safari’s webpage translation feature

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.

Google has already discontinued the Pixel 4 and 4 XL

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

[VIDEO] 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.

The movie is embedded in the main Loop. And embedded just below the movie is a behind-the-scenes, Chazelle talking about the project and shooting vertically.

This iPad sees for you

[VIDEO] 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. Video embedded in main Loop post.

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.