More references to realityOS found as Apple headset product gets closer to launch

Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac:

For years, Apple has had thousands of software and hardware engineers working on an AR and VR device. The first iteration of this project is believed to be a standalone headset, featuring high-resolution displays and M1 Pro comparable performance.

We are now seeing more references to ‘realityOS’, the operating system that the headset will run, leak out in Apple open source code, as the hardware gets closer … to being a reality.

First things first, accident or not, have to acknowledge Benjamin’s pun game there at the end. My brain automatically substituted this link when I saw the ellipsis at the end of the second para.

Back to reality:

Excited to see Apple’s AR/VR device tip-toeing closer to announcement. Will the first generation focus on Augmented Reality, as opposed to Virtual Reality or Mixed Reality? That seems to be the thinking in the rumor mill. Completely different set of applications. Can’t imagine Apple will eventually play in all three spaces. Massive application potential in each.

As I mentioned in this post:

Imagine having adjustable lenses for your glasses, able to zoom in on something that would normally be beyond your range of vision, for example.

Or switching between far view and detailed close up view, sort of like bifocals or progressive lenses, but with a full field of view and the ability to change on command. Need to read a far away street sign? No problem. Thread a needle? No problem. Same lenses, just a Siri command away.

Might we get a hint of what’s coming in June’s WWDC? Just four months away.

Apple empowers businesses to accept contactless payments through Tap to Pay on iPhone


Apple today announced plans to introduce Tap to Pay on iPhone. The new capability will empower millions of merchants across the US, from small businesses to large retailers, to use their iPhone to seamlessly and securely accept Apple Pay, contactless credit and debit cards, and other digital wallets through a simple tap to their iPhone — no additional hardware or payment terminal needed. Tap to Pay on iPhone will be available for payment platforms and app developers to integrate into their iOS apps and offer as a payment option to their business customers. Stripe will be the first payment platform to offer Tap to Pay on iPhone to their business customers, including the Shopify Point of Sale app this spring. Additional payment platforms and apps will follow later this year.


Once Tap to Pay on iPhone becomes available, merchants will be able to unlock contactless payment acceptance through a supporting iOS app on an iPhone XS or later device


Tap to Pay on iPhone will be available to participating payment platforms and their app developer partners to leverage in their software developer kits (SDKs) in an upcoming iOS software beta.

Coming later this year to a future release of iOS and a partner-enabled iOS app.

Apple in 2021: The Six Colors report card

Jason Snell, Six Colors:

It’s time for our annual look back on Apple’s performance during the past year, as seen through the eyes of writers, editors, developers, podcasters, and other people who spend an awful lot of time thinking about Apple.

This is the seventh year that I’ve presented this survey to a hand-selected group. They were prompted with 12 different Apple-related subjects, and asked to rate them on a scale from 1 to 5 and optionally provide text commentary per category.

Look forward to this every year. Great read, interesting takes. Happy to take part in this.

Apple TV+’s CODA and Tragedy of Macbeth each get three Academy Award nominations

The official Academy Award nominations came out this morning, and CODA got three nods:

  • Best Picture
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role (Troy Kotsur, who played the dad)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay

And The Tragedy of Macbeth added three more nominations:

  • Best Lead Actor (Denzel Washington)
  • Best Cinematography (Bruno Delbonnel)
  • Best Production Design (production design: Stefan Dechant; set decoration: Nancy Haigh)

This is a big day for CODA, for The Tragedy of Macbeth, for Apple, and the Apple TV+ team.

Remember, Apple TV+ launched just a bit more than 2 years ago. This is an important milestone.

Here’s the complete list of nominations.

iOS 15.4 makes Shortcut automations way less annoying to use

Chaim Gartenberg, The Verge:

Apple’s upcoming iOS 15.4 software update appears to have quietly added a massive quality of life change for its Shortcuts app: the ability to disable the incredibly annoying notifications for personal automations that users have set up on their devices, as spotted by Fjorden developer Florian Bürger on Twitter.

Here’s the tweet:

This is a huge step forward. The Notification is annoying, but it’s the delay that it causes in the sequence that is the real issue. Great to have this eliminated.

Note that this is a feature in the iOS 15.4 beta. No guarantee that this will make it into the actual release version, but why would they remove it?

Apple TV+ series Severance reviews: “A must watch”

Things are looking great for Severance, a new Apple TV+ thriller series that launches February 18th (week from Friday).

From Apple:

From Ben Stiller and creator Dan Erickson, Severance centers around Mark Scout (Adam Scott), a leader of a team of office workers whose memories have been surgically divided between their work and personal lives.

This experiment in ‘work-life balance’ is called into question as Mark finds himself at the center of an unraveling mystery that will force him to confront the true nature of his work… and of himself.

Incredible cast including Adam Scott (Parks and Recreation), Oscar winners Patricia Arquette and Christopher Walken, Emmy-winner John Turturro, lots more.

From the AV Club review:

“Outtie” is Lumon’s sickly cute terminology for an employee when they’re outside the office. The “Innie” clearly receives the short end of the stick: What would motivate your work self without the memory of your family or outside life in general? You don’t know if you’re putting kids through college or saving up for a tropical vacation. You never experience nights and weekends or even sleep. Lumon’s severed employees aren’t pursuing their passions, either, as the work is so tedious it almost feels deliberate. Why would anyone endure this for the sake of their “Outtie,” who’s technically another person entirely? Well, it’s not so easy to leave. “Innies” can submit resignation requests but their “Outtie” must approve them, and Helly’s “Outtie” is quite content with the current situation. There’s a chilling moment when Helly’s “Outtie” tells her through a pre-recorded message that she’s not a “person.” Only Helly’s “Outtie” is real.


Lower is a delight to watch as Helly, who moves through every scene like a caged animal.


Severance’s entire cast is a symphony without a single off-note.

And consider the title of the SlashFilm review:

This Mind-Blowing, Unpredictable Series From Apple TV+ Is A Must-Watch

Between those takes and the trailer (embedded below), you should have a pretty good sense of whether this show is for you.

Me? Added to Up Next, on my calendar.

Maid’s iPad central to busting Bloomberg kidnap suspect

Malcolm Owen, AppleInsider:

An armed man who allegedly searched for former New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg’s daughters and kidnapped a housekeeper was arrested on Thursday, after being tracked down via the victim’s iPad.


Investigators arrested Beecher on Thursday at a motel in Cheyenne, after determining the housekeeper’s location via her iPad. It is unclear whether the Find My network was used, or other methods.


Rare 1979 Steve Jobs business card for auction

Check out that business card, with the embossed Apple logo (just to the left of the word Apple), the old school name (Apple dropped the word “computer” from its name back in 2007), and Steve’s title (Vice President, Operations). I tweeted a still frame of the card here.

Even more interestingly, jump to about 1:23 in to see a floor plan for that Stevens Creek address. Amazing to see how small Apple was back then.

The auction will close on March 17th. Bidding does not yet appear to be open, but here’s a link to the auction calendar page, on the chance you’d like to own this piece of history yourself.

When Apple TV’s “Universal Search” is a black hole

Joe Rosensteel, Six Colors:

I have to search for a lot of movies to watch on my Apple TV because I have a movie podcast. If a movie is located within a service that I’m already paying for, then I’d like to get that.

Amen. Far too often, I search for a movie that’s available on a streaming service to which I already subscribe, and I get pointed to a place to rent/buy the movie instead.

But it gets worse:

Recently, I asked Siri to display “Fight Club,” and was presented with a button to start watching it right away in Prime Video. So easy!

Unfortunately, when it started playing, it was a very compressed, blocky stream, and I could immediately tell something was amiss. I pressed the back button and discovered that what I had clicked on was actually “Popular Movies and TV — Free with ads” within Prime Video. In other words, Amazon had embedded its ad-supported IMDb TV service inside of Prime Video, with very little to differentiate the two very different presentations.


But in fairness, it’s also possible that some of these cases are simply caused by underfunded tech staffs at billion-dollar companies where money is spent wildly on the next big swords-and-sorcery streaming series but not on the developer who has to maintain an AppleTV app and interact with a huge back-end media database.

If Apple wants to be the hub for all movie/TV streaming, they need to solve this problem, make the user experience richer, do a better job identifying the user’s current context (I’m already watching the movie on, say, HBO, so find that before you offer to rent me the same movie).

I recognize that proprietary data might be a big part of the problem here, that Netflix/HBO/Amazon/Disney databases might be incompatible with Apple’s, and that third parties enthusiasm to make the Apple TV experience rich might be limited.

Great writeup, Joe.

Two bills that could jolt Apple

Mark Gurman, Bloomberg:

There are currently two major bills on the table: The Open App Markets Act (S. 2710) and the American Innovation and Choice Online Act (S.2992).

Mark makes the case that neither bill is likely to pass, but this seems more of a reprieve than a sure to fail. Both bills are worth knowing about.

The first bill is The Open App Markets Act. From the bill itself:

The bill prohibits a covered company from (1) requiring developers to use an in-app payment system owned or controlled by the company as a condition of distribution or accessibility, (2) requiring that pricing or conditions of sale be equal to or more favorable on its app store than another app store, or (3) taking punitive action against a developer for using or offering different pricing terms or conditions of sale through another in-app payment system or on another app store.

A covered company may not interfere with legitimate business communications between developers and users, use non-public business information from a third-party app to compete with the app, or unreasonably prefer or rank its own apps (or those of its business partners) over other apps.

In effect, this would force Apple to allow sideloading. As Mark Gurman states:

If passed into law, this would put more than $20 billion per year in Apple revenue at great risk.

The second bill is The American Innovation and Choice Online Act. From that bill:

This bill prohibits certain large online platforms from engaging in specified acts, including giving preference to their own products on the platform, unfairly limiting the availability on the platform of competing products from another business, or discriminating in the application or enforcement of the platform’s terms of service among similarly situated users.

Further, a platform may not materially restrict or impede the capacity of a competing business user to access or interoperate with the same platform, operating system, or hardware or software features. The bill also restricts the platform’s use of nonpublic data obtained from or generated on the platform and prohibits the platform from restricting access to platform data generated by the activity of a competing business user. The bill also provides additional restrictions related to installing or uninstalling software, search or ranking functionality, and retaliation for contact with law enforcement regarding actual or potential violations of law.

The first paragraph of the bill talks about Apple giving preference to its own apps over third party apps (think App Store ratings, exposure).

But to me, the second paragraph has the bigger potential impact. Feels like this would open the door for third party apps to use Private APIs, typically forbidden by Apple. It also opens up any data gathered by Apple, and addresses what seems to be whistleblower retaliation.

Domestic abuser busted in the act of putting an AirTag on a car

William Gallagher, Apple Insider:

A Connecticut man has been arrested after police witnessed him attempting to use Apple AirTags to track a victim’s car.


Local police in the town of Waterbury, say they were dispatched following a “reported domestic dispute.” An investigator on the scene “discovered the accused placing a tracking device… in the victim’s vehicle.”

Even if the perpetrator had not been witnessed, Apple’s anti-stalking prevention methods would have alerted the victim. After a period of time, the victim’s iPhone would show a notification that an AirTag had been tracking them.

This is still jarring to me. Specifically, the phrase “After a period of time”. If someone wants to stalk someone home from, say, a bar. Is the period of time short enough that the victim would see the alert in time to know not to go home?


When asked by authorities, Apple will report who the registered owner of that AirTag is.

Not clear if this is a comment on official public policy, or a comment on the possibility of Apple reporting on the ownership of an AirTag.

Apple’s Face ID with a Mask works so well, it might end password purgatory

Chaim Gartenberg, The Verge:

Nearly two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, Apple has made Face ID useful again in iOS 15.4 by finally adding the ability to use the face unlock feature while wearing a face mask.

Face ID has been useful for quite some time, even with a mask, with the caveat that you have to be wearing an Apple Watch, and be willing to type in your passcode for things like Apple Pay.

That aside, the new beta feature, Face ID with a Mask, is definitely a big gain for users.

Back to Chaim:

It’s not Apple’s first attempt at solving the Face ID / mask issue: iOS 13.5 would recognize when you were wearing a mask and show the password prompt more quickly, and the company added a feature for automatically unlocking your iPhone when wearing an Apple Watch in last year’s iOS 14.5 update. But the new Face ID mask support is a much more streamlined solution that has the benefit of not requiring the purchase of additional Apple hardware.


After installing iOS 15.4 (at least in its current beta form), the first thing you’ll see is a splash screen asking if you’d like to enable Face ID with a mask. Setting up the feature is relatively simple, although you’ll have to re-register your face (presumably so Apple can dial in even further on the details around your eyes).


There are a few weird quirks, though. If you’re using Face ID with a mask and wear glasses, Apple now asks you to make a baseline scan with each pair of glasses that you own. And when I switched to a different, unregistered pair of glasses, Face ID didn’t work when I was wearing a mask. Face ID with a mask also doesn’t work with sunglasses.

Other fails I ran into were when I covered too much of my forehead, like with a pulled-down beanie with earflaps that covered most of my head. But I did have some impressive successes, too: wearing my full ski gear of a knit hat, face mask, and goggles (albeit an unusually transparent pair of goggles) was still enough for Face ID to work and unlock my phone.

All of this is good to know. Masks are going to be part of our lives, at the very least for the shorter term. Glad to have this improvement.

Apple’s Head of User Privacy speaks!

Rene Ritchie interviews Erik Neuenschwander, Head of User Privacy at Apple. Terrific conversation, filled with detail.

If nothing else, jump to 1:25 and listen to Rene lay out a wide variety of privacy aspects that Apple has to address. Very interesting.

Facebook loses users for the first time in its history

Washington Post, on yesterday’s quarterly Meta/Facebook earnings report:

Facebook lost daily users for the first time in its 18-year history — falling by about half a million users in the last three months of 2021, to 1.93 billion logging in each day. The loss was greatest in Africa and Latin America, suggesting that the company’s product is saturated globally — and that its long quest to add as many users as possible has peaked.


Facebook Reality Labs, the company’s hardware division that builds the Oculus Quest headset, lost $3.3 billion in the quarter, despite bringing in $877 million in revenue.


Meta’s stock price plummeted more than 20 percent in after-hours trading following the news.

And from CNBC:

Facebook parent Meta said on Wednesday that the privacy change Apple made to its iOS operating system last year will decrease the social media company’s sales this year by about $10 billion.

“We believe the impact of iOS overall is a headwind on our business in 2022,” Meta CFO Dave Wehner said on a call with analysts after the company’s fourth-quarter earnings report. “It’s on the order of $10 billion, so it’s a pretty significant headwind for our business.”

Interestingly, Google/Alphabet are not having the same issue:

A day before Facebook’s results, Alphabet blew past estimates with its fourth-quarter numbers, and cited strength in e-commerce ads, an area where Facebook saw weakness.

Wehner suggested that Apple’s changes aren’t having the same impact on search as they are on other types of apps. He referenced how much money Google makes for Apple as the default search engine on the Safari browser.

“Given that Apple continues to take billions of dollars a year from Google Search, the incentive clearly is for this policy discrepancy to continue,” Wehner said.

Lots of fingerprinting and political posturing here.

Apple tops Fortune’s list of World’s Most Admired Companies


Just as it dominates our economy, Big Tech now dominates Fortune’s annual ranking of corporate reputation. For the third year in a row, Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft rank first, second, and third, respectively, based on our poll of some 3,700 corporate executives, directors, and analysts. It’s Apple’s 15th straight year in the No. 1 spot, a fitting coronation for the world’s most valuable company.

15 straight years with the strongest corporate reputation. No small thing.

Interesting to see Pfizer in that 4th spot.

That Gucci AirPods Max case

The AirPods Max retail for $549 (though you can get them for $449 from Amazon, at least for the moment).

And for an additional $980, you can have a Gucci case to go with. Follow the headline link and check out that first image to get a sense of what your $980 will buy you.

I get it. People who love Gucci and Apple and have the disposable income will see this as a must-have accessory.

But I find it jarring. The Gucci brand is strong. The Apple brand is equally strong. But the AirPods Max and the Gucci design clash violently, at least for me. The colors don’t blend together, and any semblance of soft packability is gone.

Maybe this is gorgeous and I’m just too stodgy/stingy to get it?

World Trade Center replacing office keys with Apple Wallet

From the Silverstein Properties press release:

For supported corporate offices, add your corporate access badge to Wallet and then use your iPhone and Apple Watch to access locations where your corporate badge is accepted. Tap to unlock your office doors and use your corporate badge in Wallet.


One interesting tidbit here is that this implementation of Apple Wallet integration allows Silverstein to easily manage shared office spaces. The company explains that one company could lease an office suite at 7 World Trade Center on Monday and Tuesday, and another company could lease the same space on Wednesday through Friday.

This feels like a huge win for Apple Wallet. A validation from a prestige property that sends out the message, “You can trust Apple with your office key solution.”

For folks who wonder, smart locks are battery backed up, so they still work, even with no power.

Two short AirPods “Find My” stories

The first one is about finding an AirPod in the snow. Follow the headline link to read.

But the second one is down in the comments, quoted here:

Their pods + case would always stay hidden away in their car, hidden from view and wirelessly charging for whatever place they were going to.

One day they went missing and that was that …until he was told about the Find My function.

Lo and behold, it registered in the app! And they went on to search for it.

It was at a car wash. When they told the boss about what they were doing on the premises, he went and rooted around for it himself and eventually found an employee wearing them.

Find My is brilliant.

Universal Control on macOS Monterey

Universal Control is now available in the latest iPadOS and macOS Monterey betas. If you’re not familiar, below is an embedded video of Craig Federighi, from last June’s WWDC, showing how it works (via 9to5Mac). Definitely worth watching.

To make this work, all you need is the same thing required by the Handoff and Continuity features: Bluetooth and proximity. Just enable Bluetooth on your devices and make sure they are close enough for Handoff to work.

Can’t wait for Universal Control to hit the iPadOS and macOS Monterey public releases.

Watch first episode of Apple TV+ “The Afterparty” free, right here

Not sure if this has ever happened before, but Apple has posted the complete first episode of the new Apple TV+ series “The Afterparty” on YouTube (embedded below). No Apple TV+ subscription required.

The show has a nice Rashomon spin to it, with each episode told from a different characters point of view. Looking forward to watching the entire thing.

Have to wonder if this is a one-off or if Apple will post the first episode of all new series in this way (licensing agreements allowing). I think it’s a great experiment, terrific way to draw in new viewers.

Apple Maps erects gigantic digital wall to hide Tim Cook’s house

Killian Bell, Cult of Mac:

Apple fans who take a virtual stroll through Palo Alto inside Apple Maps and Google Maps no longer get to see Tim Cook’s house. The modern, four-bedroom condo has had a giant digital wall erected right in front of it.

Follow the link, check out the image. Or, if you know where Tim Cook’s house is, drill down in Apple Maps and see for yourself.

This follows yesterday’s news: Apple CEO Tim Cook targeted by possibly armed stalker who came to his home.

Benchmarks confirm Intel’s latest Core i9 chip outperforms Apple’s M1 Max with several caveats

Joe Rossignol, MacRumors:

Benchmark results have started to surface for MSI’s new GE76 Raider, one of the first laptops to be powered by Intel’s new 12th-generation Core i9 processor.


Geekbench 5 results show that the GE76 Raider with the Core i9-12900HK processor has an average multi-core score of 12,707, while the 16-inch MacBook Pro with the M1 Max chip has an average multi-core score of 12,244. This means the Core i9 processor is around 4% faster than the M1 Max chip in this particular comparison.

I assume the battery life is 4% worse, yeah?

The new GE76 Raider’s power draw from the wall while running a CPU-only Cinebench R23 benchmark and found the Core i9 was consistently in the 100-watts range, and even briefly spiked to 140 watts. By comparison, when running the same Cinebench R23 benchmark on the 16-inch MacBook Pro, AnandTech found the M1 Max chip’s power draw from the wall to be around 40 watts.

Wait. What? The Intel chip ranged from 100-140 watts, and the M1 Max was level at 40 watts? That sounds like it might impact battery life more than 4%.

The new GE76 Raider achieved nearly 6 hours of offline video playback. Apple advertises the latest 16-inch MacBook Pro as getting up to 21 hours of battery life for offline video playback.

And there it is. Could see that coming from a mile away.

And there’s size, too:

Design is also a factor, with the GE76 Raider being a 17-inch gaming laptop that is just over an inch thick and weighs nearly 6.5 pounds. By comparison, the new 16-inch MacBook Pro is 0.66 inches thick and weighs 4.8 pounds.

Huge tradeoff for a tiny speed gain. And I’d expect that speed gain to disappear with the next rev of Apple Silicon.

Gurman: Apple will let small businesses accept credit card “tap” payments directly on their iPhones without any extra hardware

Mark Gurman, Bloomberg:

Apple Inc. is planning a new service that will let small businesses accept payments directly on their iPhones without any extra hardware, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The company has been working on the new feature since around 2020, when it paid about $100 million for a Canadian startup called Mobeewave that developed technology for smartphones to accept payments with the tap of a credit card. The system will likely use the iPhone’s near field communications, or NFC, chip that is currently used for Apple Pay.


The move could impact payments providers that rely on Apple’s iPhones to facilitate sales, such as Block Inc.’s Square, which dominates the market. If Apple lets any app use the new technology, then Square can continue accepting payments via Apple devices without needing to worry about providing its own hardware. If Apple requires merchants to use Apple Pay or its own payment processing system, that could compete directly with Square.


Apple may begin rolling out the feature via a software update in the coming months, the people said.

Could be a real Block-buster. (Sorry — I’ll show myself out.)

Spotify to pull Neil Young’s music after artist’s objections to Joe Rogan

Hollywood Reporter:

Spotify is in the process of removing Neil Young’s catalog of music from its service after the artist published — then took down — an open letter with an ultimatum: Deal with the vaccine misinformation coming from Joe Rogan’s podcast, or lose Young’s music.


Young said that Spotify represented 60 percent of his streaming revenue globally, which amounted to “a huge loss for [his] record company to absorb,” but that he moved forward with removing his catalog because he “could not continue to support Spotify’s life threatening misinformation to the music loving public.”

Putting his money where his mouth is. Guessing Neil Young’s streaming is a tiny drop in the bucket to Spotify, but this is certainly more of a PR hit, drawing very specific focus to Spotify’s political positioning.

Apple CEO Tim Cook targeted by possibly armed stalker who came to his home

The Merc:

Apple has been granted a restraining order against a Virginia woman it said has been stalking Apple CEO Tim Cook for more than a year, emailing him photos of a loaded pistol and trespassing at his home, according to court filings.


Apple said in the application that it believes the woman “may be armed and is still in the South Bay Area and intends to return to (Cook’s) residence or locate him otherwise in the near future.”


Cook first learned in late 2020 that he was the subject of the woman’s obsession because he receives alerts when he’s tagged on Twitter, the application said. The woman, using the last name “Cook,” claimed she was the Apple CEO’s wife and he was father to her twins.


Share your best iPhone macro photos for Apple’s Shot on iPhone challenge


Apple invites iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max users to capture the little things, in a big way, with a macro photography Shot on iPhone Challenge. The challenge starts today and runs through February 16, 2022. Winners will be announced in April.

To enter, just post your best macro photos on Insta or Twitter and add the hashtags #ShotoniPhone and #iPhonemacrochallenge.

My best effort is this donut close-up.

Apple pays $100,500 bug bounty for webcam hack

Ryan Pickren:

My hack successfully gained unauthorized camera access by exploiting a series of issues with iCloud Sharing and Safari 15. While this bug does require the victim to click “open” on a popup from my website, it results in more than just multimedia permission hijacking. This time, the bug gives the attacker full access to every website ever visited by the victim. That means in addition to turning on your camera, my bug can also hack your iCloud, PayPal, Facebook, Gmail, etc. accounts too. ​ And:

I reported this chain to Apple and was awarded $100,500 as a bounty.

“my bug can also hack your iCloud, PayPal, Facebook, Gmail, etc. accounts too” — Wow!

Obviously, glad this got patched. Amazing when one of these “total access” bugs surfaces.

No matter how carefully you construct your code, no matter how modern the techniques and underlying frameworks, there’s always gonna be holes.

Also nice to see Apple paying up for the help.