Jony Ive and Marc Newson put up a web site

Jony Ive and Marc Newson were the life blood of Apple’s design sensibility for a long time. They left Apple a few years ago to form a new design firm, called LoveFrom. Somewhat famously, they started work and did not put up a web site. Until now.

Follow the headline link, load the site. It’s simple, but with a signature minimalist design.

Take a look. Pay attention to the animation (typing “LoveFrom,”) when the page loads. Don’t miss that whimsical detail as the comma animates into place. Now reload the page. There are a number of different comma sequences. A tiny, but fun detail.

The page is signed, “love & fury”. Not sure what this signifies, but it is the title of a book about Mary Wollstonecraft (Frankenstein author Mary Shelley’s mother). Not sure there’s a connection, but an interesting choice.

A few weeks ago, we posted about this fake LoveFrom web site. Wonder if that site had anything to do with coaxing the real site into existence.

AirPods Max on sale for $449. What’s your price?

Apple sells the AirPods Max for $549. Amazon has them on sale (see the headline link) for $449. That’s a pretty steep discount.

Though it is interesting to wonder why this price discrepancy exists (Inventory clearance? New model in the offing? Neither of those seems likely to me), more interesting to me is the price point itself.

Is $449 low enough to bring you into the fold? If not, why not? Is the increase in functionality over your existing setup not worth the price? Are the AirPods Pro good enough? Is the issue that you just don’t have a real sense of how good the AirPods Max really are?

What is the highest price that would draw you in? Would you snap a pair up for $299? $399?

Selling the AirPods Max is like selling a high resolution TV. How do you advertise it? You can describe it, but showing video is limited to the potential buyer’s existing display. Like a new TV, the sale depends on a leap of faith on the buyer’s part.

AnandTech analysis of iPhone 13 series battery life and screen power

Andrei Frumusanu, AnandTech:

This year’s new iPhone 13 series have been extremely promising in terms of battery life as Apple has improved this aspect of the devices through a slew of different improvements. All the new phones feature new generation displays, most notably the new Pro models which have new variable refresh displays, along with increases in battery capacities. After a few arduous days of battery life testing, we can come to some very positive conclusions.

There’s a detailed discussion of LTPO VRR. If that’s just alphabet soup to you, here’s a bit from this discussion of LTPO:

LTPO is the snappy acronym that stands for low-temperature Polycrystalline oxide. In short, it allows for a display to dynamically change its refresh rate without needing any additional hardware components to sit between a device’s graphics processing unit and the display controller.

And VRR is variable refresh rate, which is being branded as ProMotion. Apple’s rates vary from 10Hz to 120Hz.

If the screen discussion doesn’t grab you, scroll down the the section labeled “Bigger Batteries”. The first table compares battery capacity of all the iPhone 12 models to that of the iPhone 13s. Big jumps (ranging from 8% to 18% across the board) in every model.

Next up is a bar chart showing web browsing battery life (in hours) for a variety of phones. From. the description:

All the new phones showcase extremely large generational gains compared to their predecessors. For the iPhone 13, we’re getting results that are 34% better than the iPhone 12, which exceeds the +14.6% battery capacity increase. The new SoC efficiency as well as increased display power efficiency would explain the remainder of the difference.

The iPhone 13 battery life is a big leap forward.

iPhone 13 Pro sample image gallery

Follow the headline link, maximize your window size (large display, if possible). Tap each of the controls on the upper right of the current sample image, just to get a sense of what each does. I’m a big fan of the loupe (click to turn it on, then drag the mini-window around the image).

I love this interface, wish there was a version that laid on top of a public, crowd-sourced gallery, with the favorite images rising to the top.

DPReview review of the iPhone 13 Pro, shot on the iPhone 13 Pro

Detailed video, filled with great looking shots of all the various lenses and modes, giving you a sense of what you might produce if you have an iPhone 13 Pro (or iPhone 13 Pro Max).

One of the many highlights in this video is at about 36 seconds in. Check out the sharpness on the jacket pocket seams, then look at the background. There’s a subtle sharpness adjustment as he moves, Cinematic Mode at work. It wasn’t so long ago that Portrait Mode and bokeh were brand new concepts. Apple’s iPhone camera team continues to push the ball forward.

The embedded video is 4K. If you have the ability to watch in higher resolution, here’s a link to an HDR version of the same video.

‘Ted Lasso’ is not about what you think

CNN op-ed:

Although the show’s superficial focus over the first two seasons has been on Ted as a “nice guy,” that’s not really what the show is about. It isn’t a happy-go-lucky dramatization of optimism, but about the work and necessity of building communities in which we draw strength from one another. The show’s tension and success stem not from its oft-touted emphasis on kindness, but from its ability to embody something that in the past would have been called caritas.

Pretty good read. Homes in on a subtle point (embodied by the latin term caritas), really captured the spirit of the show, at least for me.

Apple TV+ teaser for The Afterparty

Apple:

Apple TV+ today debuted the teaser trailer for the new highly anticipated murder-mystery comedy series, “The Afterparty” from Academy Award, BAFTA and Golden Globe Award winners Chris Miller and Phil Lord (“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” “The Lego Movie,” “21 Jump Street”). The eight-episode series will premiere globally in January 2022 on Apple TV+.

Watch the trailer below. If the sense of humor woven into Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and Lego Movie worked for you, make a note to watch for the Afterparty Apple TV+ premiere in January.

50 iOS 15 tips and tricks you probably don’t know!

Compelling headline. I was skeptical. But it didn’t take long for me to be glad I dug in. This is a rich collection, efficiently presented, worth your time.

To name just a few, be sure to check out:

  • Customize your Safari Start Page
  • Custom Text Size per app
  • Drag apps from Spotlight search to Home Screen

Great work, Dan!

A gorgeous tour of iPhone Macro mode

Ben Sandofsky, Halide blog:

The iPhone 13 Pro features a new camera capable of focusing closer than ever before—less than an inch away. This opens a whole new dimension for iPhone photographers, but it’s not without surprises. Let’s take a tour of what this lens unlocks, some clever details you might miss in its implementation, why its “automatic” nature can catch you off guard, and much more. At the end, we have a special surprise for you — especially those not using an iPhone 13 Pro.

This post is way more than just a collection of macro photos, though it does have plenty of those. It’s a well presented tour of how macro works, full of detail/examples and, as Ben implies above, there’s a nice little surprise towards the end (hint: it’s a product announcement, one that you’ll find compelling if you are interested in macro photography).

Apple, iOS 15 and Legacy Contacts

Ben Lovejoy, 9to5Mac:

One of the features Apple announced for iOS 15 is Legacy Contacts, a way to ensure that your digital life outlives you – if you would like it to.

The company hasn’t yet launched it, saying only that it is “coming in a software update to iOS 15,” but there are signs that Apple is preparing for its introduction.

From Apple’s iOS 15 features page, in the Apple ID section:

Digital Legacy program

The Digital Legacy program allows you to designate people as Legacy Contacts so they can access your account and personal information in the event of your death.

As Ben mentioned, this text is marked with the “Coming in a software update to iOS 15” footnote.

The ability to mark a contact (or set of contacts) as Legacy Contacts is long overdue. When my Mom died last year, we were unable to retrieve the data on her iPhone, including years of pictures she’d taken.

When she first bought the iPhone, someone at the Apple Store helped her set up a new Apple ID, which we didn’t realize until we tried to access her phone after she was gone. We pushed, but were told we had to get a court order to get Apple to give us access to her Apple ID, intimidating at normal times, beyond us during the pandemic.

The option to designate a Legacy Contact should be part of the normal startup for any devices that store important personal info, whether Apple, Android, or any other device.

Apple plan for cars uses iPhone to control A/C, seats, radio

Mark Gurman, Bloomberg:

Apple Inc., whose CarPlay interface is used by millions of motorists to control music, get directions and make phone calls, is looking to expand its reach within cars.

The company is working on technology that would access functions like the climate-control system, speedometer, radio and seats, according to people with knowledge of the effort. The initiative, known as “IronHeart” internally, is still in its early stages and would require the cooperation of automakers.

IronHeart. Love the name. Sounds like a Marvel superhero.

Sounds like a logical extension for CarPlay, especially if it extended to passengers in the car. Imagine being a passenger and being to adjust your A/C, seat position, change up the music, all from your iPhone.

Not sure this is at all in Apple’s CarPlay plans (the article itself is reporting rumor, after all), but it’d be interesting to be able to hand-off a bit of CarPlay control to another iPhone, perhaps in the passenger seat, perhaps in the back seat. If they had permission, CarPlay control of music in the back seat would be a nice extension, all without extra hardware (beyond the iPhone). And someone in the back seat could control the AC until they were comfortable.

Just a thought.

Apple rolling out new Find My features for AirPods Pro and AirPods Max (and Conversation Boost)

Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac:

Earlier today, we reported that new firmware versions are gradually rolling out for Apple’s wireless headphone products. This new software enables Find My support for AirPods Pro and AirPods Max, which Apple first teased back in June at WWDC.

This means that the compatible AirPods models gain new functionality inside of the Find My app, including precise location, a new Nearby Finding UI, Lost Mode, and the ability to get notifications when your earbuds are left behind.

For the AirPods Pro, the old firmware is 3E751, the new is 4A400. No advertised way to force a firmware update but, for me, a method that’s worked:

  • Connect your AirPods Pro to your iPhone
  • Listen to something for a few minutes
  • Put the AirPods back in their case
  • Plug the case into your charger

Reliable? Pure superstition? Who knows. But I just did this and it worked for me. Your mileage may vary.

Back to the update:

The new integration now means that AirPods Pro and AirPods Max participate in the Find My network, and send out a continuous Bluetooth beacon message. When other Apple devices are in the area, they can detect this signal and report it to the Find My network, placing its location on the owner’s map. This is just like how AirTags work at long range.

As to Conversation Boost, start by going to:

Settings > Accessibility > AirPods > Audio accessibility settings

From there, with your AirPods Pro or Max in/on and connected, tap on Headphone Accommodations, then tap on the switch to turn Headphone Accommodations on.

Now tap on Custom Audio Setup. You’ll go through a sequence to test and customize your settings (this part got added with iOS 14). At the end of the process, you’ll see a switch (towards the bottom of the screen) to enable Conversation Boost.

As far as I know, this is new to the new firmware.

Intel’s terrible Apple-bashing ad

Start by watching the ad (embedded below).

This from the headline-linked post:

I know that when it comes to tech news, there can be somewhat of a bubble, with writers and readers thinking that certain things are more well-known to the general public than they are. But really, if you’ve walked into Best Buy’s laptop section at some point in the past decade, you probably would’ve seen some of the things the people in the ad are shell-shocked by: two-in-one laptops that fold to become a tablet have been popular since the early 2010s, Intel’s been pushing laptops with two screens since 2018, and PC gaming was a thing before the original IBM Personal Computer that popularized the term “PC.”

Exactly.

The ad has the potential to make a point about expandability and repairability. Fair issues to raise, if you indeed have a better solution. But it insults (badly) the very people it hopes to sway.

Yeesh.

Wall Street Journal on Apple Pay fees and bank pushback

Wall Street Journal:

When Apple Pay launched, the tech giant got big banks including JPMorgan Chase & Co., Capital One Financial Corp. and Bank of America Corp. to agree to pay fees that would allow their cardholders to pay by iPhone. But some banks have grown unhappy with the costs, especially after Apple Inc. introduced its own new credit card in 2019, according to people familiar with the matter.

A proposed change:

Currently, banks pay Apple a fee when their cardholders use Apple Pay. Under the planned new process, the fees wouldn’t apply on automatic recurring payments such as gym memberships and streaming services.

Sounds like this change is not yet set in concrete.

The article also digs into the specifics on fees:

Banks agreed to pay Apple 0.15% of each purchase made by their credit cardholders. (They pay a separate fee on debit-card transactions.) Those fees account for most of the revenue that Apple makes from its digital wallet, according to people familiar with the matter.

Interestingly, the fees are specific to Apple:

The terms had the potential to be uniquely lucrative for Apple. Banks don’t pay fees to Google for its wallet.

Feels like a significant amount of tension in the bank / Apple Pay model.

Some Steve Jobs appreciation

Steve Jobs died 10 years ago today. The world still mourns. Here are some shared bits of appreciation:

Start off by going to Apple’s front page, check out the short film, “Celebrating Steve” and scroll down for the “Statement from the Jobs family”.

That pic of Steve slouched in an office chair, about 4 seconds in, struck me as familiar. Was that Susan Kare’s chair?

From this appreciation piece Jony Ive wrote for yesterday’s Wall Street Journal:

My memories of that brutal, heartbreaking day 10 years ago are scattered and random. I cannot remember driving down to his house. I do remember a hazy October sky and shoes that were too tight. I remember afterwards Tim and I sat quietly in the garden together for a long time.

And:

Steve’s last words to me were that he would miss talking together. I was sitting on the floor next to his bed, my back against the wall.

After he died, I walked out into the garden. I remember the sound of the latch on the wooden door as I gently pulled it closed.

It’s a beautifully written piece, worth reading in full.

A few more bits, embedded below. First, there’s the Think Different commercial with Steve narrating (as opposed to the Richard Dreyfus narration we’re more familiar with).

And, below that, there’s the dedication, back in 2014, of the new Steve Jobs Theater.

Miss you, Steve.

Understanding how Facebook disappeared from the Internet

Santosh Janardhan, Facebook’s VP, Engineering and Infrastructure, in a blog post responding to yesterday’s worldwide outage that took down Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp:

To all the people and businesses around the world who depend on us, we are sorry for the inconvenience caused by today’s outage across our platforms. We’ve been working as hard as we can to restore access, and our systems are now back up and running. The underlying cause of this outage also impacted many of the internal tools and systems we use in our day-to-day operations, complicating our attempts to quickly diagnose and resolve the problem.

Ironically, Facebook had to turn to Twitter to communicate with the world as its normal communications mechanisms were all down.

The blog post is straightforward, but short on details. If you are interested in the actual cause of the outage, follow the link to this detailed blow-by-blow account of the outage as seen from the outside.

Great reporting by Celso Martinho and Tom Strickx. Someone should option the movie rights to this.

The nuance of iPhone ProMotion

Jason Aten, writing for Inc:

It takes a lot of energy to light up and refresh that display, so the fewer times it has to redraw what you’re looking at, the better. Other devices with high refresh rates might adjust based on what is showing on the display. For example, if you’re watching a film shot at 24 frames per second, the display might refresh at 24 or 48Hz. If you’re playing a game, it might refresh at 120Hz.

And:

On the iPhone, that’s still true, but Apple took it further by quietly included a remarkable way of deciding what refresh rate to use. Your iPhone 13 Pro or 13 Pro Max literally measures the speed of your finger on the screen, and then adjusts the refresh rate of the display.

And:

Reading a tweet, the iPhone 13 Pro drops down to 10Hz. If you start to scroll slowly, it might choose a faster refresh rate, say 60Hz. If you scroll quickly, it can ramp up to 90 or 120Hz. Apple doesn’t say exactly how many different refresh rates the display uses, only that it designed the system to match the refresh rate to the speed of your finger.

Great read.

In my opinion, ProMotion is an under appreciated feature. It works everywhere on the 13 Pro models, scrolling is smooth as glass, and there are no artifacts that hint at refresh rate changes. Beautifully implemented.

Siri, as it looked before Apple bought the company

The first video shows a demo of Siri before Apple bought the company and integrated the technology throughout the ecosystem.

Below that, there’s an interview with Susan Bennett, the original voice of Siri.

A few things about Siri:

  • Siri was officially rolled out by Apple 10 years ago yesterday as part of the iPhone 4S release.
  • Siri was spun out from an SRI (née, Stanford Research Institute) internal project.
  • You might think the name Siri was derived from SRI, but from a keynote by Siri co-creator Dag Kittlaus:

So Siri means in Norwegian, “beautiful woman who leads you to victory”.

I worked with a lady named Siri in Norway and wanted to name my daughter Siri and the domain was available. And also consumer companies need to focus on the fact that the name is easy to spell, is easy to say…

Clincher had to be, “the domain was available”.

Steve Jobs once chucked a prototype iPhone to impress a room full of journalists

Roger Cheng, CNET:

Mention Steve Jobs and most people will picture him in his trademark blue jeans and black mock turtleneck, on stage at one of Apple’s events, an iPhone in hand. But for me, the name recalls the memory of the original black and silver iPhone leaving Jobs’ hand, sailing through the air and hitting the floor with a clack.

Follow the headline link, read the anecdote. Steve died 10 years ago tomorrow. The feeds are full of reminiscence.

Apple formally announces Apple Watch Series 7 preorders starting this Friday

Apple:

Apple today announced Apple Watch Series 7, featuring the largest and most advanced Apple Watch display ever — and a reengineered Always-On Retina display with significantly more screen area and thinner borders — will be available to order beginning Friday, October 8, at 5 a.m. PDT and available in stores starting Friday, October 15.

Given the steadily slipping shipping dates of the iPhone Pro (as of this writing, the iPhone I ordered shows a delivery date of November 4-11), and the fact that Series 7 pre-orders have already been pushed back more than 3 weeks (the announcement was September 14th), if you want a Series 7, I’d get on it as soon as the doors open.

From the footnotes:

Customers can buy Apple Watch (GPS + Cellular) directly from apple.com/store or at an Apple Store and get $100 back when they activate it with T-Mobile/Sprint or Verizon.

Good to know.

Gruber: The Tragedy of Safari 15 for Mac’s ‘Tabs’

John Gruber:

Our long national iOS 15 Safari nightmare ended last month, praise be, but the lesser of the two bad Safari designs unveiled at WWDC persists and actually shipped: the new tabs in Safari 15 for Mac. Safari 15 on iPad suffers similarly, but it’s the Mac version I’ll concentrate on here.

This is an excellent showcase of Safari’s broken tab metaphor. Don’t miss the short little video in the middle highlighting the jarring look of shifting from one tab to another and back again.

John focuses on the Mac in his post, but his comments might just as well apply to Safari for iPadOS 15. Though there are differences between the two implementations of Safari tabs, both joyously break the tab metaphor. If you think about the origins of the tab model, it’s a drawer full of vertical files, where the tab juts up, attached to a specific folder. As you paw through the folders, it’s clear which folder the tab is attached to. The tab and folder are clearly part of the same object, visually connected.

In this new model, the tabs are floating on their own, no longer physically connected to the pages they represent. This new model breaks the physical tab metaphor in a number of ways, chief of which is the lack of a unifying block of color attaching the tab and the page. For most pages, the current tab is one shade of grey, and the other tabs a slightly different shade of grey. Occasionally, the background color will bleed through the tab, offering another tab color to confuse your brain even more.

I see the iPad tab model and Mac tab model as being equally broken. The iPhone model, with the address bar at the bottom, really works well for me. I especially love the hint to the right and left of the address bar, letting you know you can slide side-to-side to get at adjacent pages. This “hidden tabs” model feels like an improvement over previous models.

The iPad and Mac Safari tabs have lost touch with the functionality of the tab metaphor. Color me disappointed. Props to Gruber for taking the time to dig into such detail on each individual point.

Always-on Processor magic: How Find My works while iPhone is powered off

The “cat /dev/brain” blog:

iOS 15.0 introduces a new feature: an iPhone can be located with Find My even while the iPhone is turned “off”. How does it work? Is it a security concern?

This is a bit of a techie rabbit hole, but I found it fascinating.

At its core is a discussion of the AOP, or Always On Processor:

All chips and various embedded devices Apple manufactures run a real-time operating system, called RTKitOS. The AOP on the iPhone is no exception. However, the AOP has a special role. It connects to almost every other chip in the iPhone. For some chips, it only does basic tasks like power management, and for other chips, it acts as a transparent proxy that wakes up iOS when needed.

This way, a processor that is always on actually saves energy. iOS can go to sleep while the AOP waits for hardware events. A simple example is the motion sensor. Without touching any button on the iPhone, the display wakes up.

If this sort of technical arcana is of interest, follow the headline link and dig in. Skip the stuff you don’t understand. After each technical deep dive, the author returns to the surface before discussing the next bit.

Listen to Jon Stewart marketing his new Apple TV+ show

Follow the headline link for the September 27th episode of Smartless, wherein hosts Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes, and Bojack Horseman Lego Batman Reeses shill Will Arnett bring on a mystery guest to faff around with.

In this case, it’s Jon Stewart, here to pitch his new Apple TV+ show, “The Problem with Jon Stewart”. If you want to skip the intro, jump to about 3 minutes in.

I’m a long-time fan of Smartless’ profound silliness and goofing around, your mileage may vary. But this is specific to Apple and I thought it might be a good fit for readers of The Loop. Don’t miss how everyone refers to Apple TV+ streaming service (Stewart’s show is “on Apple”) as well as the anecdote wherein Jason Bateman skips the line for the very first iPhone.

Less than 2 months into its run, Apple TV+ cancels Mr. Corman

Variety:

Apple TV Plus will not be moving ahead with a second season of “Mr. Corman,” A24’s schoolteacher drama starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the streamer has confirmed.

As far as I know, this is the shortest run of a show on Apple TV+. Even Planet of the Apps (technically not an Apple TV+ show, but still) was alive for a full year, premiering in June 2017, officially canceled in July 2018.

Apple’s relationship with Joseph Gordon-Levitt continues with his exec produced, animated “Wolfboy and the Everything Factory.”

iOS 15 Messages bug causes saved photos to be deleted

Juli Clover, MacRumors:

A serious bug in the iOS 15 Messages app can cause some saved photos to be deleted, according to multiple complaints we’ve heard from MacRumors readers and Twitter users.

And:

If you save a photo from a Messages thread and then go on to delete that thread, the next time an iCloud Backup is performed, the photo will disappear.

Even though the image is saved to your personal iCloud Photo Library, it appears to still be linked to the Messages app in ‌iOS 15‌, and saving it does not persist through the deletion of the thread and an ‌iCloud‌ backup.

There’s more detail in the linked article. To be safe, until this bug is either disproved or fixed, don’t delete Messages threads with Photos you care about.

Great sequence showing “jelly scrolling” on the new iPad and explaining why it happens

The video below shows the iFixit teardown of the new iPad mini. If teardown are not your thing, skip to 1:20 in for a great shot of the iPad mini “jelly scrolling”. Best video of this I’ve seen.

As you watch it, note the left and right sides of the screen alternating their refresh. That’s the effect. Slightly annoying, perhaps, but it is what it is, and for me, it’s more interesting than it is a problem.

Researchers find way to make “large unauthorised contactless payments” on locked iPhones in Express Transit mode

Here’s the hack:

  • A small commercially available piece of radio equipment is placed near the the iPhone, which tricks it into believing it is dealing with a ticket barrier
  • At the same time an Android phone running an application developed by the researchers is used to relay signals from the iPhone to a contactless payment terminal – this could be in a shop or one the criminals control
  • Because the iPhone thinks it is paying a ticket barrier, it doesn’t need to be unlocked
  • Meanwhile the iPhone’s communications with the payment terminal are modified to fool it into thinking the iPhone has been unlocked and a payment authorised – allowing high value transactions to be made without entering a PIN, fingerprint or using Face ID

The response to this:

Apple said the matter was “a concern with a Visa system”.

Visa said payments were secure and attacks of this type were impractical outside of a lab.

Impractical? As we’ve long seen (at least in the US), credit card hacking devices can get very small and surreptitious. And from the description above, the only thing that needs to be in place near the ticket barrier is a radio, which can certainly be small enough to be practically unnoticeable.

That said, this is all theoretical, not something that’s made its way into the wild. Yet. Still time to address this point of weakness, if these researchers are proven correct.

Ophthalmologist using iPhone 13 Pro to take close up eye pics

Dr. Tommy Korn (via 9to5Mac):

Been using the iPhone 13 Pro Max for MACRO eye 👁 photos this week. Impressed. Will innovate patient eye care & telemedicine. 👀 forward to seeing where it goes 😊 …

Photos are from healing a resolving abrasion in a cornea transplant. Permission was obtained to use photos 🙏🏼.

PS: this “Pro camera” includes a telephone app too! 😂

Follow the headline link, check out the images. If you’ve got an iPhone 13 Pro, you can pretty easily take closeup eye pics like this. Bit by bit, tech like the iPhone 13 camera module and the Apple Watch are bringing telemedicine to life.

Side note: If you’ve not seen it, check out this macro pic I took last week, taken with an iPhone 13 Pro. This camera is incredible.