[VIDEO] Hands on with macOS Catalina

[VIDEO] Jeff Benjamin walks you through all the big changes that come with macOS Catalina. Excellent work.

If you’re impatient, the content starts at :57 in. And if you don’t care about Catalyst, jump to 2:40 and start right off with Sidecar. Video embedded in main Loop post.

Take Apple’s macOS Catalina tour, even from your iPhone

Follow the headline link to take Apple’s official Catalina tour. You’ll likely want to click or tap one of the arrows at some point, just to switch the tour to manual. Makes it much easier to follow. But worth stepping through.

I love that this works fine on your iOS device, or on an older version of macOS. Gives you a chance to learn, without committing to the install. Be sure to click the + when it appears on a page to learn more.

Ben Lovejoy: Apple’s relationship with China is turning into a massive liability

First things first, from this MacRumors article:

Apple has pulled an app from the App Store that Hong Kong protestors have been using to track police movements, saying it violates the company’s guidelines and local laws.

Apple approved HKmap Live last week after reviewing its decision to initially reject the app from the  App Store .

And:

However, on Wednesday Apple was criticized by Chinese state media for its decision to make the app available. “Letting poisonous software have its way is a betrayal of the Chinese people’s feelings,” said the People’s Daily.

Apple’s official response:

We created the  App Store  to be a safe and trusted place to discover apps. We have learned that an app, HKmap.live, has been used in ways that endanger law enforcement and residents in Hong Kong. Many concerned customers in Hong Kong have contacted us about this app and we immediately began investigating it. The app displays police locations and we have verified with the Hong Kong Cybersecurity and Technology Crime Bureau that the app has been used to target and ambush police, threaten public safety, and criminals have used it to victimize residents in areas where they know there is no law enforcement. This app violates our guidelines and local laws, and we have removed it from the  App Store .

With all that as background, take a read of Ben Lovejoy’s op-ed.

This is an incredibly complex situation for Apple, indeed for anyone doing business in China. Sides are being drawn, push coming to shove. Ben does a nice job laying out a number of issues that are all coming into focus here.

Apple adds Microsoft’s Xbox wireless controller to its online store

Mitchel Broussard, MacRumors:

Apple has added the Xbox Wireless Controller to Apple.com, although the accessory is currently unavailable to purchase at the time of writing. Apple sells a few different gaming controllers on its website to connect to iOS, iPadOS, and tvOS devices, but as of yet the company has never directly sold Microsoft or Sony’s own gaming controllers.

I’ve been using an MFi controller on my iPad and, I have to say, it makes all the difference in playing Apple Arcade games.

Everyone’s AirPods will die. We’ve got the trick to replacing them.

Geoffrey A. Fowler, Washington Post:

“Sorry, we can’t help you,” said the Apple store Genius. My AirPods were dying. After just 15 minutes of use, the wireless headphones I use daily chirp a sad little battery-depleted alert. I came to Apple to get them repaired.

The employee said there were lots of people like me, with $159 AirPods purchased in 2016 and 2017 that now can’t hold a charge. But even though Apple promises “battery service,” the store had no way to fix my AirPods. It didn’t even have a way to test them.

If you are running into battery issues with your AirPods, here’s the sequence Fowler lays out for figuring out the economic path to follow:

  • If your AirPods are less than a year old and the battery is not performing up to the promised five hours of listening time, an Apple store will replace them at no cost.

  • Apple recently began selling its AppleCare+ warranty for $29, which covers the battery, too. But this extended warranty lasts only two years — which wouldn’t have been long enough to save my AirPods.

  • If your AirPods are out of warranty, Apple will replace them for $49 per stick — so in reality, $98 total. A replacement for the charging case, which doesn’t wear out as quickly, is also $49. The key phrase to say is “battery service.” (Apple is providing additional training to customer service representatives on that point, but if you still have trouble, show them this link — or this column.)

This is useful info, but to me, the core of the article is the complete lack of repairability here:

The life span of an expensive, resource-intensive gadget shouldn’t be limited to the life span of one consumable component. You wouldn’t buy an electric toothbrush where you couldn’t replace the brush. Or a car with glued-on tires.

Or a consumer electronics device that has to be disposed of when the battery wears out, impossible to replace.

Read the whole article. It’s full of interesting nuggets. I’d change that title though. To me, the lack of repairability is front and center.

Security officer fatally shoots robbery suspect at Dallas Apple Store

Fox 4 News, Dallas:

“The suspect entered the rear of the building wearing body armor and armed with an assault rifle in an attempt to commit a robbery. The suspect attempted to disarm the security officer. However, the security officer was able to pull his weapon and fire multiple shots at the suspect,” said Sgt. Warren Mitchell.

The suspect tried to run away after being shot but collapsed in the alley. He was taken to the hospital where he was later pronounced dead.

This is the first time I’ve heard of a confrontation between Apple Store security and thieves/robbers. This a one off exception, or a sign of things to come? The suspect came prepared to kill, assault rifle in hand.

Where Apple Music is headed in 2020

Sophie Charara, Wired UK:

Apple doesn’t break out Beats 1 monthly listening figures; various commentators have speculated they are relatively low, the official line is “tens of millions”. What we do know is that one of Lowe’s priorities is to merge the two elements of Apple’s £9.99 a month Music offering: its Spotify-style streaming service and the Beats 1 radio shows.

And:

When it comes to someone like Billie Eilish, who now has her own Beats 1 show, the Apple Music team realised that their pre-adds, which allow users to register their interest in an album before it’s out, had made people more invested in her March 2019 album When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?

It turns out users are four times more likely to complete an album if they’d pre-added it to their collection, 1.5 times more likely to listen to it again and they listen to music four times longer than other Apple Music subscribers. In short, Apple is trying to build a better hype machine than its rivals to counteract the popular, but depersonalised playlists that have come to dominate music streaming.

And:

Data from music analytics firm BuzzAngle shows the top 25 artists accounted for 11 per cent of total streams in the US in 2018, and artists still need hundreds of thousands of plays a month to start making the equivalent of minimum wage. In Digital Music News’ December 2018 analysis of streaming service payouts, it found that Pandora pays the highest royalty rates with Apple Music in third place with an estimated $0.00735 per stream, ahead of Spotify at an estimated $0.00437 a stream, which has at least been moving in the right direction in recent years.

These are just a few nuggets from a long and interesting read, with quotes from Beats Radio Creative Director Zane Lowe and head of Apple Music Oliver Schusser.

Apple inks ultra-rich deal for Ryan Reynolds, Will Ferrell “A Christmas Carol” musical

Variety:

Apple has emerged victorious after shelling out for “A Christmas Carol,” a new live-action musical based on the Charles Dickens classic to star Ryan Reynolds and Will Ferrell, numerous people close to the heated bidding told Variety.

And:

Reynolds and Ferrell stand to make staggering amounts as producers and stars, along with significant paydays for writer-directors Sean Anders and John Morris (“Daddy’s Home,” “Instant Family”). Fees for talent alone will clock in at north of $60 million.

Astonishing. The article digs into some of the behind-the-scenes negotiations, with Netflix leading, Apple stepping in at the last moment with an offer Reynolds and Ferrell couldn’t refuse.

Will watch.

Catalina and Sidecar

One of the many features that came along with iOS 13 and macOS Catalina is Sidecar, the ability to connect your iPad to your Mac as a second display, one that supports touch and Apple Pencil.

Have you heard about Sidecar, but not yet given it a try? Check out the linked doc, Apple’s detailed, but easy-to-follow Sidecar overview and set-up instructions.

If you’ve updated to Catalina, do give this a try. It’s kind of cool.

Supreme Court allows blind people to sue retailers if their websites are not accessible

LA Times:

The Supreme Court cleared the way Monday for blind people to sue Domino’s Pizza and other retailers if their websites are not accessible.

In a potentially far-reaching move, the justices turned down an appeal from Domino’s and let stand a U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling holding that the Americans With Disabilities Act protects access not just to restaurants and stores but also to the websites and apps of those businesses.

This is a pretty big deal. Far-reaching indeed. Is your web site accessible?

Apple posts Oceanhorn 2 Apple Arcade trailer

[VIDEO] This is a surprisingly long trailer (embedded in main Loop post), filled with detail. I can guess why Apple did this.

Some (if not most) Apple Arcade games have relatively simple stories to tell. Frogger is a well known game mechanic. Stay alive, pick up stuff. Gorgeous, but relatively simple.

Same with many other Apple Arcade games. Oceanhorn 2 is a much bigger game, with more game mechanics to master and a much larger story to tell. It’s beautifully built, well balanced, and a lot of fun. The trailer does it justice.

On my short list of best Apple Arcade games.

Hulu adds downloads for iPhone and iPad

Hulu press release:

Available today on iOS for viewers on our Hulu (No Ads) plan, you’ll now be able to download thousands of shows and movies — like past seasons of hit series including Family Guy, Desperate Housewives, This is Us, How I Met Your Mother, and ER, as well as Hulu Originals like The Handmaid’s Tale, Shrill and The Act — to take with you on the go.

And:

Navigate to the Downloads tab at the bottom of your screen to access your downloaded content. To find more shows and movies to download, click “See What’s Downloadable” and browse through thousands of titles just a few clicks away.

Similar to what Netflix has had for a while now. To me, download support is a critical feature for a media service to make the cut, earn that monthly payment. As the field gets more crowded, download support will be one of the features that helps me decide which services to keep, which to discard.

My question is, will Apple TV+ support downloads? Answer is (H/T Zac Hall), yup.

From the Original Apple TV+ press release:

Subscribers can watch Apple TV+ originals both online and offline, ad-free and on demand, on the Apple TV app, which comes pre-installed on iPhone, iPad, Apple TV and iPod touch and will soon be on Mac with macOS Catalina.

Good to know.

How a 14-year-old designer became part of Apple Arcade

Vice:

Apple Arcade’s launch was a mixture of well-known franchises (Frogger, Rayman), new games from designers during the App Store’s creative heights (Card of Darkness, Overland), and releases from high-profile publishers (Square Enix, Capcom). The service, part of a larger shift towards monthly subscriptions, is a big deal for Apple, so it made sense to double down on attention-grabbing titles.

Operator 41, also part of the launch, is hardly that, but is notable for a different reason: Operator 41 was developed by 14-year-old London designer Spruce Campbell.

Fantastic story. Hard to wrap my head around the fact that a 14-year-old was able to build a game that made the Apple Arcade cut. Remarkable.

How to use tvOS 13’s Picture-in-Picture

Josh Centers, TidBITS:

tvOS 13 is here, but the update is sufficiently subtle that you may not even realize you’re running it, unless you’ve bumped into the new auto-play videos on the Home screen or one of the bugs that our readers have been reporting. I covered most of what’s new earlier this year in “An Early Look at tvOS 13” (10 June 2019), but an interesting new feature cropped up later in the beta cycle: Picture in Picture (PiP).

And:

Likely for the sake of simplicity, in the shipping version of tvOS 13, any video playing in PiP disappears if you return to the Home screen.

Nice explainer. Hoping Apple continues to develop PiP. It’s especially useful for live TV, where you keep an eye on the boxed video, bring it to the forefront when something significant happens.

Apple and why

[VIDEO] This video (embedded in main Loop post) flew around the internet over the weekend, woken from slumber, originally posted in 2014.

It’s a 5 minute chunk from a TED talk that does a terrific job explaining why Apple is different. I’d watch the entire thing, but if you’re pressed for time, the Apple part starts at about 2:19 in.

I love the thinking here, and I can’t help but think about privacy and health as two pillars of Apple’s current “why”.

Tony Fadell drops anecdotes about Steve Jobs and the creation of iPod

This is a nice collection of tweets from Tony Fadell, curated by Filipe Espósito for 9to5Mac. I followed along on Twitter, but found myself wishing that someone would gather these in an easier to follow format, since they weren’t threaded on Twitter. And voila. Thanks Filipe.

My favorite bit:

I remember the day when Steve called me to the Board Room to personally sign a $4B purchase order for Samsung Flash for the Nano. “Are you sure we are ordering the right stuff? It’s going to work, right?” It was the biggest single order Apple had ever placed at the time.

I can only imagine the unbelievable pressure of that decision. A huge business gamble, one that paid off and paved the way for all future products.

Apple reverses Hong Kong protest app rejection

On Friday, we linked to a Daring Fireball article addressing Apple’s decision to reject an app that helped Hong Kong protesters note the location of law enforcement.

Gruber’s original core comment:

But here’s the thing. What’s going on in Hong Kong is important. A small liberal democracy is standing up to a gargantuan authoritarian communist dictatorship with a superpower-grade military force.

And this update:

Good news: the developer of HKmap reports that Apple has approved the app, and it’s now propagating through the App Store.

Really glad to see this.

Spotify gains Siri support on iOS 13 and CarPlay, Apple TV app launching later today

Tim Hardwick, MacRumors:

According to Spotify’s release notes, Siri support is compatible over connected AirPods and also extends to CarPlay and HomePod via AirPlay. On iPhones and iPads running iOS 13, Spotify will also now turn on its Data Saver feature when a device has Low Data Mode enabled.

In addition, the streaming service says Spotify is “now available on Apple TV,” although it isn’t showing up in the tvOS App Store as of writing, so rollout is likely scheduled for later in the day.

“extends to CarPlay and HomePod via AirPlay” – Played with this a bit. If I ask HomePod Siri to play music via Spotify, Siri responds:

I wish I could, but I can’t open apps here.

Requiring AirPlay is still a significant bit of friction.

Kuo: Apple to release ‘iPhone SE 2’ in Q1 2020 with iPhone 8 design, A13 processor

Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac:

Apple is set to launch the next version of the iPhone SE 2 in the first quarter of 2020, according to renowned Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. The new phone will be more affordable than the rest of the Apple iPhone lineup and feature newer internals, like an A13 processor with 3 GB RAM, in a familiar iPhone 8 chassis.

We generally don’t post rumors, but this one struck a bit of a nerve for me. The iPhone SE is the last of the phones for folks with small hands or small pockets. My family and friends group has plenty of both. And this feels like the last nail in the iPhone SE form factor coffin.

Now I know these words won’t change anything. Feels like the ship has sailed. But it doesn’t take a lot of web search to find evidence that the iPhone SE is loved, that there is a slice of the Appleverse that will no longer be served by Apple.

Here’s just one take, from earlier this year. When Apple released a refurbished SE earlier this year, it sold out pretty quickly. And that phone was released in 2016.

I recognize that, if true, this new SE will be priced to sell, and sell it will. But it is a larger form factor, and by taking the SE name (again, this is a rumor, so take with a grain of salt), it feels like Apple is creating a floor in iPhone size. And I think that’d be a shame.

Gruber: Apple and Hong Kong

Start off by reading this article from the Register, provocatively titled, Here’s that hippie, pro-privacy, pro-freedom Apple y’all so love: Hong Kong protest safety app banned from iOS store.

From the article:

Apple has banned an app that allows people in Hong Kong to keep track of protests and police activity in the city state, claiming such information is illegal.

“Your app contains content – or facilitates, enables, and encourages an activity – that is not legal … specifically, the app allowed users to evade law enforcement,” the American tech giant told makers of the HKmap Live on Tuesday before pulling it.

Now go read Gruber’s take, linked above. A tiny taste:

But here’s the thing. What’s going on in Hong Kong is important. A small liberal democracy is standing up to a gargantuan authoritarian communist dictatorship with a superpower-grade military force.

Read the whole thing.

Apple shares another M. Night Shyamalan “Servant” clip

[VIDEO] This is just so creepy. Here’s hoping it’s sublime. Apple TV+ drops November 1, Servant release is currently set for November 28. Very much looking forward to this.

If you haven’t seen the first two Servant clips, here are links to Jericho and Cricket.

This clip, embedded in the main Loop post) is called Solitude.

Why isn’t maps.apple.com a thing like Google?

This is the title of a Reddit post, and an excellent question. Not an issue on my iPhone, of course, because a tap on the Maps app is all that’s needed.

But on my Mac, I live in Safari. Whether force of habit, or some other frictional force, when I want a map, I turn to maps.google.com. Nearly 100% of the time.

I realize that Duck, Duck, Go does bring Apple Maps to the table, but it is not the same thing. When I go to Google Maps, I am centered on my current location ready to type in an address, set up directions, look for a restaurant, check traffic. And all that from the comfort of Safari, where I can command-click on links to look at restaurant menus, say, without leaving the app.

And for those who say Apple doesn’t do web services, take a trip over to beta.music.apple.com. Maybe that’s a glimmer of hope?

The iPhone 11 glows

[VIDEO] This is an interesting effect, a glow that outlines the iPhone 11, and an effect that only a few iPhone models over the years has shared. I always thought this was pretty cool. Useless, but cool. The video is embedded in the main Loop post.

Deep Fusion in the wild

[VIDEO] The iOS 13.2 beta just dropped, and it includes Deep Fusion, the iPhone computational photography system.

Here are a few examples, so you can judge the results for yourself:

https://twitter.com/sdw/status/1179484341631516672

Click each picture to get a more detailed look, and keep in mind that these images are Twitter compressed. In that first image, focus on the upper right of the yellow speaker material.

Here’s another:

https://twitter.com/julipuli/status/1179507533087510528

This one shows off the overall increase in sharpness Deep Fusion brings to the table.

Next up, take a look at this blog post from JF Martin, which lays out a lot of detail on which camera modes kick in with which iPhone 11 Pro lenses, along with specific details on each of the three lenses.

And for the pièce de résistance, this video (embedded in main Loop post) lays out both examples and detail on Deep Fusion. Interesting that the decision to use Deep Fusion is made for you. Also worth noting, at this early point in the beta cycle, Deep Fusion photos appear to consume about twice as much storage as regular photos.

“Announce Messages with Siri” returns in iOS 13.2 beta

Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac:

You need to be an iPhone and AirPods user to take advantage of the feature. With the AirPods in your ears, you will be able to listen and respond to incoming text messages. Siri transcribes the message so you can hear the text without looking at your phone or watch. You can then ignore or immediately reply without having to say ‘Hey Siri’.

The sense I get is that the H1 chip is required here, so the second gen AirPods or Beats headphones with H1 chip required.

The incoming message alert is accompanied by a special alert tone that differs from the regular text tone. Siri will introduce the message with a phrase like ‘Zac says’ before reading the message. If another text comes in from the same sender, it will adjust its description to naturally continue the conversation.

Time will tell if this feature makes it all the way to the public iOS 13.2 release.

How to listen to live radio stations on your HomePod

Tim Hardwick, MacRumors:

Apple has been rolling out HomePod support for live radio requests to Siri over the last few months, and now users in several countries are reporting success when asking their Apple smart speaker to play live radio stations.

This feature was announced back in June, and has been slowly rolling out since then. The issue is, how do you find what stations are available to listen to, and how do you tell Siri to tune them in.

I have not yet found a universal, HomePod compatible, radio station directory. Please ping me if you do know of one. And not just a list of radio stations. Needs to be a list of stations that Siri can play on HomePod.

There are some resources you can tap, though. Start off by firing up the Music App and tapping the Radio tab. Scroll all the way down to the Broadcast Radio section, and tap See All. Currently, for me, that list is a paltry 10 stations. They all work for me, but still, that’s a small sample.

To try one of these out yourself, tell HomePod Siri:

Play radio station WTOP

Note that I pronounced all the letters in the name, W-T-O-P. And the words “radio station” are critical.

Next stop, go to the Music App’s Search tab, and type the call letters of your local station. This is definitely hit or miss, but I did find options that were not listed in the radio tab.

Next up, try downloading one of the radio station aggregation apps, like Tune-in. Note that Tune-in has a monthly subscription in-app-purchase, but if you download the app, you can see the radio stations that the app supports on the free page. They all work for me, when I use the above format to request the station from HomePod Siri.

What I’d really love is a comprehensive, searchable directory from Apple of all the supported stations, especially a list of my local stations supported by Siri. Each entry would need the name Siri recognizes.