The unvarnished Q&A between Apple and the House antitrust subcommittee

I’m a big fan of getting things straight from the horse’s mouth wherever possible. In this case, here are the official questions from the House antitrust subcommittee (technically, the Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law of the Committee on the Judiciary, but who has time for that mouthful?) along with Apple’s official responses.

This is surprisingly easy to read, especially if you are a regular Mac/iOS user.

This is surprisingly easy to read, especially if you are a regular Mac/iOS user. It’s chockfull of interesting tidbits.

If you fly, download the airline’s iOS app before you go

Adam Engst tells a harrowing tale of snowpocalypse and the value of Apple’s business chat service (via Messages) and having the airline app handy when your flights are canceled and you have to solve a knotty travel problem in the unfriendly confines of a crowded airport.

Great read.

AirPods Pro and accessibility

Steven Aquino, iMore:

Most wireless accessories, earbuds or otherwise, require going to the Bluetooth menu in the operating system’s settings in order to pair and connect with one’s phone. More than being an annoyance, someone with, say, certain cognitive and/or fine-motor conditions may find this process extremely laborious. There is a great deal of cognitive load in terms of remembering not only that you need to pair from within the Bluetooth menu but also remembering the exact steps for getting to the menu in the first place. And certain fine-motor delays can make multiple taps to get to said menu that much more taxing. What’s inconvenient for a neurotypical person can quite literally be nigh impossible for someone with disabilities.

And:

This underscores the beauty of Apple’s model. There is nothing for the user to do when pairing AirPods except flip the lid and tap a button. The technological parts that make this work are cool, but the accessibility advantages are arguably even cooler. You need to pair the earbuds in order to use them, and it’s important to recognize the process is as accessible as the actual product itself.

Great point, great writeup.

AirPods Pro removing all available oxygen from wireless headphone market

Neil Cybart, Above Avalon:

Apple’s newest pair of AirPods continues to make waves with “augmented hearing” entering people’s vocabulary. However, the broader implications found with Apple’s AirPods strategy are just as impressive. Apple is quickly removing all available oxygen from the wireless headphone market, and competitors find themselves at a severe disadvantage.

Spot on. With the addition of noise cancellation and transparency mode, AirPods Pro are becoming the first choice of iPhone-using wireless headphone buyers.

Though you can invest in something bigger (and bulkier) to get (maybe) better noise cancelation, and you can invest in headphones that deliver (maybe) a better audio experience, I’d argue that there’s nothing on the market that can compete and give you better noise cancelation and audio in this form factor, all with the incredibly tight integration with Apple’s ecosystem. No matter the price.

Gifaanisqatsi

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.

[VIDEO] iFixit’s 2019 MacBook Pro 16″ teardown

[VIDEO] Much of the new MacBook Pro is still very difficult to repair, but there have been some gains here. Watch the video embedded in the main Loop post 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.

Thousands of hacked Disney+ accounts are already for sale on hacking forums

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 renames official WWDC app

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:

https://twitter.com/markgurman/status/1196627420201263105

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.

‘Dickinson’ on Apple TV+ has surged ahead of its other launch shows in popularity

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.

The size of space

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.

Apple Watch changed the life of his son with autism: “We had tried everything”

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

[VIDEO] Every so often, I get one of these WILL IT WORK videos sent over (embedded in main Loop post), 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.

HomePod Siri, multiple voices, and remembered preferences

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.

Apple iPhone 11 scores early China success

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.

I used Live Listen to have a conversation with someone rows away on a plane 30,000 feet in the air

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.

Steve Jobs was right: Smartphones and tablets killed the PC

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.

Rollup of takes on 16″ MacBook Pro

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.

Apple Watch should be on every wrist after $129 Black Friday special

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.

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

[VIDEO] 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. Video embedded in main Loop post.

Rene Ritchie: 16″ MacBook Pro video review

[VIDEO] As you’d expect, there’s been a huge wave of reviews of the new 16″ MacBook Pro, including these write-ups from John Gruber and Marco Arment (I do prefer Marco’s tweet headline), both worth reading.

But don’t miss Rene Ritchie’s video take on the new MacBook Pro (video embedded in main Loop post). As you’d expect from Rene, it’s chock full of detail and, best of all (at least to me), lots of side-by-side shots of the old and the new, so you can really see the difference, at least the surface difference, between the two machines.

And one detail that struck me was the 100W battery being the largest battery you are allowed to take on a plane, at least without special permission. Sounds like we’re at peak battery.

Apple is considering bundling digital subscriptions as soon as 2020

Bloomberg:

Apple Inc. is considering bundling its paid internet services, including News+, Apple TV+ and Apple Music, as soon as 2020, in a bid to gain more subscribers, according to people familiar with the matter.

The latest sign of this strategy is a provision that Apple included in deals with publishers that lets the iPhone maker bundle the News+ subscription service with other paid digital offerings, the people said.

And:

If Apple sold Apple News+ as part of a bundle with Apple TV+ and Apple Music, publishers would get less money because the cost of the news service would likely be reduced, the people said.

As I’ve said before, the bundle seems like a great idea. A money saving win for consumers, especially for those who would subscribe to all of Apple’s offerings anyway. And a win for Apple, as a bundle would help boost subscriber numbers for, say, Apple News+, a service that people might use if it was part of a bundle, but not if they had to pay for it as a standalone product.

100% of Fortune 500 companies are using Apple products

This headline hooked me. An amazing achievement for Apple, for sure, but even more so for those of us who remember how difficult it was to get a Mac into a big company. At all.

Windows and Word became the standards, and the Mac was always the poor stepchild, smuggled in by the passionate, and usually via the art departments, thanks to applications like Aldus/Adobe PageMaker and accompanied by a LaserWriter printer.

The iPhone changed everything.

Apple connects Siri to Walmart’s shopping cart

Walmart:

Earlier this year we announced a new way to make Online Grocery shopping even easier for customers – Walmart Voice Order – a service that gives customers the option to add items to their Walmart Online Grocery Cart by simply saying the words.

Today, we’re proud to announce that partnering with Apple, we’ve made Walmart Voice Order available on Siri.

What I find fascinating about this is the mechanics of this deep integration. It’s done using a custom Shortcut:

We are introducing a new Siri Shortcut for Online Grocery. Customers simply ask Siri to start adding items directly to their Walmart Online Grocery cart after they’ve paired their accounts. It feels a little like magic on an iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Mac, HomePod or in the car with CarPlay.

There’s a video that shows how all this works. It seems really well done, seamless. And it makes me wonder if this corporate integration was what Apple had in mind when they acquired Workflow (the app that became Shortcuts) in the first place.

Disney+, Apple TV, and the glory that is The Mandalorian

Disney+ had a rough day yesterday. Lots of technical glitches, completely broken and inconsistent search, made a terrible first impression.

But things did get better. By nightfall, Disney did tame their gremlins and the overall experience was smooth as glass. Solid recovery. This morning, every technical complaint I had was addressed.

As to the integration with Apple’s TV app, depends on where you view it.

On my iOS device or on Apple TV, I did have to jump through a small hoop of connecting Disney+ to Apple TV and logging in to Disney+. On Apple TV, the login allowed me to launch the Disney+ app on my iPhone, tap Allow, and I was in. Easy peasy.

And once I started watching shows, they immediately appeared on the TV app’s Up Next list. Not quite as good as Disney+ or Netflix being native to the TV app, but definitely the next best thing.

As to the Mac experience, the chasm between the TV app and the browser Disney+ experience is pretty wide. Want to watch Frozen in the Mac’s TV app? You’ll need to rent it. Oddly, the TV app seems to pick up on the trending of all the Disney+ movies and shows, but click on them and you get the normal rent option. If I’m missing some way to connect Disney+ to TV on the Mac, please ping me so I can update this info.

As to Disney+ content, there certainly is a lot to love if you are into either Disney, Marvel, Pixar, or Star Wars. Those are the major tentpoles. As is, Apple TV+ definitely comes up short, with its relatively small catalog. That said, Apple TV+ already feels fresher to me, less dependent on nostalgia.

With one notable exception: The glory that is The Mandalorian. Wow do I love that show.

To me, The Mandalorian is like seeing Star Wars through fresh eyes. Beautifully shot, stunning really. Terrific writing, with the comic moments that really warmed me to the original Star Wars trilogy. As I’ve said before, if you have the slightest Star Wars bone in your body, you’ll love The Mandalorian.