Future iPhones may act as emergency beacons even without cell service

William Gallagher, AppleInsider:

A new Emergency Power Save Mode (EPSM) will be able to broadcast a distress signal in multiple different ways while also minimizing battery use in order to keep the device working until the user is rescued.

This is from a patent application. No guarantee we’ll ever see this in a shipping iPhone, but I do like the idea.

Old musicians never die. They just become holograms.

New York Times:

In preparation for his first American tour in a decade, Ronnie James Dio spent months sequestered in a modest office suite in Marina del Rey, in Los Angeles. The office was on the second floor of a strip mall, above a vape shop and a massage parlor.

And:

Opinion among the Dio faithful, nonetheless, was divided on the subject of his “Dio Returns” comeback tour, largely because Dio has been dead for almost 10 years.

I love that last sentence so much.

More from the article:

A start-up called Eyellusion produced “Dio Returns.” It’s one of a handful of companies looking to mold and ultimately monetize a new, hybrid category of entertainment — part concert, part technology-driven spectacle — centered, thus far, on the holographic afterlives of deceased musical stars.

The holograms are coming. More spectacle to convince you to make your way to a concert. Matter of time before this technology makes its way into your home, either in that projected hologram form, or via AR or VR. A chance to bring up holograms of past historical events, and spend some time with people and places that are gone, or just simply inaccessible.

Can Rob McElhenney’s ‘Mythic Quest’ help Apple build its programming brand?

Variety:

When Rob McElhenney was initially approached by Ubisoft about writing a series set in the video game industry, he was reluctant: He didn’t see a way into that world. But when the company invited him to tour its Montreal headquarters, he figured there was nothing to lose. Once there, he found the inspiration he needed.

And:

The resulting series, “Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet,” is set to launch on Apple TV Plus on Feb. 7.

I’m really looking forward to this series. Funny is not easy. And this will be Apple’s first kick at this particular genre. My two cents, they’ve picked a good team for their first comedy.

The Variety piece goes into a lot of detail on this show, and on the Apple TV+ show launch process. There are issues to address, but it does seem as if Apple’s team is learning, and making changes where needed. Apple TV+ is a long play and, in my mind, seems like a winner.

Gruber: The Concept Electronics Show

Interesting post from John Gruber about the Consumer Electronics Show being all about concepts, and most frequently, concepts that will never become products.

But where it really hit home for me was when John turned to Apple and, more specifically, this anecdote from Lev Grossman’s Time Magazine profile of Steve Jobs from 2005:

“You know how you see a show car, and it’s really cool, and then four years later you see the production car, and it sucks? And you go, What happened? They had it! They had it in the palm of their hands! They grabbed defeat from the jaws of victory!”

And:

When Jobs took up his present position at Apple in 1997, that’s the situation he found. He and Jonathan Ive, head of design, came up with the original iMac, a candy-colored computer merged with a cathode-ray tube that, at the time, looked like nothing anybody had seen outside of a Jetsons cartoon. “Sure enough,” Jobs recalls, “when we took it to the engineers, they said, ‘Oh.’ And they came up with 38 reasons. And I said, ‘No, no, we’re doing this.’ And they said, ‘Well, why?’ And I said, ‘Because I’m the CEO, and I think it can be done.’ And so they kind of begrudgingly did it. But then it was a big hit.”

Great read, all the way through.

Farewell, “don’t @ me.” Twitter will test a way to let you limit replies to your tweets

Ingrid Lunden, Sarah Perez, TechCrunch:

Twitter has been on a long-term mission to overhaul have people have conversations on its platform, both to make them easier to follow and more engaging without turning toxic.

Plenty of toxic, complicated problem to fix.

That strategy is taking another big step forward this year, starting in Q1 with a new way for people to control conversations, by giving them four options to “tailor” their replies: anyone can reply, only those who a user follows can reply, only those tagged can reply, or setting a tweet to get no replies at all.

These coming changes were announced at CES. Not clear how, or when, they’ll roll out to the masses. Tricky to change the mechanics of our Twitter conversations without breaking them.

One thing I think Twitter could do is be better at spotting the bots. I regularly get new followers with names like @rpt011999275 who’ve got no posts and just joined Twitter. Inevitably, they’ve got a generic bio, something like, “Just want to bring happiness into the world.”

And then there are the bots that post strongly opinionated political messages. A bit of checking shows them for what they are. The process of uncovering these bots seems simple enough. I’d love to see Twitter to a better job bot-vetting new accounts.

Apple Pay glitch saddles NYC straphangers with accidental charges

Love a good NY Post headline.

From the article:

The OMNY tap-and-go fare readers have been taking a $2.75 charge from people who have enabled a passcode-skipping Apply Pay service — which allows straphangers to enter the subway with a swipe of their iPhone at the turnstile — even while trying to use a regular MetroCard.

And:

MTA Chief Revenue Officer Al Putre confirmed that “about 30 customers” had complained about “unintended charges when the Express Transit feature of their iPhones is activated.”

And:

An Apple rep said the company has not had the issue in other cities where the Express Transit feature is available.

If 30 customers complained, my bet is there is a pool of people who were charged, but didn’t notice it.

That said, the fact that this appears to be specific to the OMNY contactless fare payment system makes me think this is an implementation issue, maybe a hardware issue, not necessary a flaw in Apple Pay. We’ll see.

Apple announces Night Mode photo contest

Apple:

Apple is starting the new year by celebrating more captivating ways to shoot on iPhone with an all-new Night mode photo challenge. Users are invited to share their impressive Night mode images captured with iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max.

Beginning today through January 29, Apple is in search of the most stunning Night mode shots from users around the world. A panel of select judges will evaluate submissions to reveal five winning photos on March 4.

Follow the headline link, check out some of the examples. Some amazing shots.

Wonder if this contest will tip someone towards an iPhone 11 purchase.

Oh Samsung

The headline of the linked iMore article says it all:

“Samsung’s at it again and this time it stole Apple’s Face ID icon”

I can’t even. Why, Samsung, why?

How I modded the silicone tips of AirPods Pro with a memory foam layer

Federico Viticci, MacStories:

I love my AirPods Pro and, ever since I bought them last October, I’ve been taking advantage of their noise cancellation technology to use them in more contexts than the original AirPods.

And:

There’s one thing I don’t particularly like about them, though: the default silicone tips.

Whether you can’t get a well-sealed fit with any of the AirPods Pro tips, or if you are after a more comfortable fit, take a few minutes to read Federico’s journey. Hard to explain it here, but just scroll through the images in Federico’s post and you’ll get a sense of how he used memory foam from another pair of headphones to make a much better fit, one that offers a better seal.

Ten years of Apple on one page

Incredible piece of work, a real labor of love, pulled together by Benjamin Mayo for 9to5Mac.

Follow the headline link, scroll through the headlines that defined Apple’s past decade. Wave after wave of Apple nostalgia.

Apple shares some historic Services numbers

Apple:

Apple has marked the close of a historic 2019 for its Services offerings, a year that introduced Apple Arcade, Apple TV+, Apple News+ and Apple Card, and celebrated the continued success of the App Store, Apple Music, iCloud and more experiences only Apple can create and deliver.

And:

Since the App Store launched in 2008, developers have earned over $155 billion, with a quarter of those earnings coming from the past year alone. As a measure of the excitement going into 2020, App Store customers spent a record $1.42 billion between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, a 16 percent increase over last year, and $386 million on New Year’s Day 2020 alone, a 20 percent increase over last year and a new single-day record.

That second paragraph is packed with interesting info. A quarter of all App Store earnings, since 2008, came in 2019. That’s remarkable.

And $386 million on New Year’s Day? Does that indicate a ton of new Apple product unwrapped over the holidays? Is New Year’s Day the day people kick back, relax, and start customizing their devices?

No matter, some incredible success for Apple. Congrats to the Services team.

Repairing Willie Nelson’s iconic guitar

[VIDEO] Willie’s guitar, nicknamed “Trigger”, is one of those iconic instruments, recognizable by tone and by that famous hole in the body.

Follow along (video embedded in main Loop post) as Mark Erlewine gives it some love and repair.

[H/T Josh Centers]

The next generation of Bluetooth Audio

[VIDEO] Follow the headline link for all the details but, in a nutshell, Bluetooth LE Audio:

  • operates on Bluetooth Low Energy
  • offers improvements in perceived audio quality at a lower bit rate
  • enables transmission of multiple, independent, synchronized audio streams (think audio sharing, one source, multiple, or many, devices)
  • brings significant advances in hearing aid/hearing implant technology

The video embedded in the main Loop post gives a taste of what’s coming.

Desktop-class Safari for iPad: A hands-on look at the difference the iPadOS update makes to Apple’s browser

John Voorhees, MacStories:

With the release of iPadOS 13, Safari took a big step forward as a ‘desktop-class’ browser with a wide variety of enhancements that collectively eliminate a long list of complaints leveled against the app in the past. Safari’s ability to dynamically adjust the viewport to fit the iPad’s screen, enhanced support for pointer events, hardware-accelerated scrolling of frames and other regions of a webpage, along with other under-the-hood changes add up to a genuinely new browsing experience that has made work in sophisticated web apps like Mailchimp a viable option for the first time.

Great read. John Voorhees uses a specific use case to make clear the value of desktop Safari on iPadOS 13. To me, this is one of the tethers keeping me tied to my Mac falling away.

Apple plans to switch to randomized serial numbers for future products starting in late 2020

MacRumors:

Apple has indicated that it plans to update its serial number format to a randomized alphanumeric string for future products starting in late 2020. Apple says all serial numbers that exist before the change is made will remain the same.

And:

Apple already uses alphanumeric serial numbers, but it has long been possible to determine the date and location that a product was manufactured based on the current format.

Interesting.

When touching a key wakes your Mac, how do you clean your keyboard?

A friend of mine has been away from the Mac for a long time (living on an iPad), just bought a new MacBook Pro.

As he went to wipe down his keyboard, he discovered that pressing a key or the trackpad woke his computer. With his Apple Watch set to unlock his computer, he found himself wipe-typing, not something he wanted. He asked for the best way to disable this behavior.

In the old days, you could shut down your Mac, do your wiping, carefully avoiding the power on button. But with the introduction of the 2018 models, Apple made a change to both MacBook Pro and MacBook Air, so they turn on when you touch any key or the trackpad.

You can read all about that behavior in this technical note.

I brought this up on Twitter yesterday, got a number of suggestions (along with some expressions of frustration at this change).

My favorite idea is to select Lock Screen from the Apple menu. This puts you in the lock screen, but will not use your Apple Watch to unlock your Mac. So wipe away, just don’t wipe-type your password and you’ll be fine.

Another approach is this tool, which uses a specific keypress to lock your keyboard so you can clean your keyboard and screen. Type the key, clean away, then type the key again to unlock.

Happy cleaning.

500 drones, a remarkable TV in the sky

[VIDEO] This was an amazing demonstration (video embedded in main Loop post), 500 drones as pixels, bringing moving images to Singapore’s night sky.

When I saw this, I immediately saw a future with thousands of drones, and then millions of drones, eventually bringing video, surveillance, and advertising to the roofs of our cities.

[H/T, the mellifluous Julie Sobsey]

Ricky Gervais roasts Apple at last night’s Golden Globes [VIDEO]

Last night’s Golden Globes felt unmoored, Ricky Gervais in full, uncontrolled roast mode. Tim Cook was there, along with Apple TV+ stars such as Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, and Jason Momoa.

Take a look at the video (quick, before the video is DMCA’d) in the embedded tweet for the double-edged take on The Morning Show and “sweat-shops in China”.

https://twitter.com/yashar/status/1213998800852795392

Ouch.

Apple Music tips, one in particular

Bradley Chambers pulled together some Apple Music tips for folks new to the service. But there’s one in particular that I think everyone should know about:

If you are traveling for the holidays, you might want to keep your entire library downloaded to your iOS devices. Of all the Apple Music tips I am sharing today, I’ve used this one the most often. I wish Apple had a simple option here, but you have to trick it with a playlist.

Read the article for the details, but the trick is to create a smart playlist that matches every song in your library, forces it to download on your device.

I definitely appreciate the trick, but can’t help but wish for a simpler way to accomplish this. Maybe a shortcut that force downloads everything in your library? Or a setting that does the same? Does such a thing exist? If you know of a better way, ping me.

The source of iPhone 11 Pro’s Midnight Green is an Apple ink supplier in Japan

Nikkei Asian Review:

In an interview, Cook told Nikkei that Seiko Advance is the “reason” Apple was able to release its top-of-the-line iPhone 11 Pro in a new color called Midnight Green.

And:

Midnight Green is not the only color Seiko Advance provides for the iPhone 11 Pro — it is also behind the Gold, Space Gray and Silver models. “We are the sole supplier of colors for the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max,” said Kabe.

But, in my mind, Midnight Green is notable, noticeable, an evolution in metal iPhone colors.

Interesting article. Turns out, Seiko Advance has been an Apple partner since 2011. A relatively tiny company, doing an important job for Apple.

Apple rolling out Slofie campaign

[VIDEO] Apple rolled out a series of Slofie videos. They’re all pretty good. Videos embedded in main Loop post.

As a reminder, Slofies arrived with the iPhone 11 back in September. This one, posted back then, remains my favorite, especially with the sound on.

Motherboard: We tested Ring’s security. It’s awful

Joseph Cox, Motherboard:

From across the other side of the world, a colleague has just accessed my Ring account, and in turn, a live-feed of a Ring camera in my apartment. He sent a screenshot of me stretching, getting ready for work. Then a second colleague accessed the camera from another country, and started talking to me through the Ring device.

Earlier today, we posted about the Apple, Amazon, Google alliance designing an IoT open standard. I’d love to see Amazon close up these security holes.

Until then, I’ll limit my video doorbell candidates to those who sign up for HomeKit Secure Video.

Mac Pro 2019 added to Geekbench, comparing against the top-of-the-line iMac Pro

There’s been a lot of Twitter griping about the new Mac Pro Geekbench results not being that much better than the 2017 iMac Pro, essentially making the point that the Mac Pro is not worth all that extra money.

If you check out the Geekbench scores, you’ll see that the lowest model of the new Mac Pro scores worse than the top end 2017 iMac Pro.

I priced out the top-end iMac Pro (256GB RAM, top video card) at $13,299. That does include a display, obviously.

I priced out a base model new Mac Pro (went up to 384GB RAM) at $11,999. More RAM, no display.

The pricing seems reasonable to me. And one is the top of its line, the other the absolute bottom of its line. Close enough.

Studio Ghibli movies available on iTunes digitally for the first time

First things first, the headline link takes you to a 6-movie Studio Ghibli collection. Appears to be US only. $100 for all six. A great deal if you are a Studio Ghibli fan.

That said, there are other Studio Ghibli movies in the iTunes Store that are not part of the collection. It’d be nice if you could type Studio Ghibli in one of the many search fields (iTunes Store, TV app on Mac, Apple TV, etc.)

For example, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind is a great movie, not part of the collection, worth exploring.

UPDATE: Zac Hall, 9to5Mac, pulled together links for all the Studio Ghibli films. Nice job, Zac!