January 6, 2021

Apple:

As the world navigated an ever-changing new normal of virtual learning, grocery deliveries, and drive-by birthday celebrations, customers relied on Apple services in new ways, turning to expertly curated apps, news, music, podcasts, TV shows, movies, and more to stay entertained, informed, connected, and fit.

Follow the headline link and just scan through the long scroll. An interesting look at some of the major wins for Apple services, starting with the App Store:

As a result of their efforts, developers selling digital goods and services — which is only a small fraction of the overall commerce the App Store facilitates — have now earned more than $200 billion since the App Store launched in 2008.

That “small fraction of the overall commerce” is just a gigantic number. And (assuming 30% take, not quite exact, but close) if my math is correct, if devs took home $200 billion, Apple’s take was about $86 billion. No small thing. Again, this is all time, since 2008.

The post also digs into Apple Music, Apple TV (huge year for Apple TV+), Apple News, Fitness+, Apple Pay, Apple Books, and Apple Podcasts, with a brief mention of iCloud right at the end.

Interesting read.

January 5, 2021

Steve Jobs: We don’t ship junk

Steve Jobs, on stage with Tim and Phil. Short and sweet.

These are pins, representing all the various Activity Awards you can earn. As far as I can tell, you can buy any of the awards, so there’s a level of honesty required here.

I found this fascinating, like a museum tour of Apple’s Activity artwork. Not seeing any affiliation with Apple, wondering about that.

Use the Photos iOS 14 widget on your iPhone? If so, you want to read the linked post.

Michael Potuck, 9to5Mac, walks through the process of telling the widget not to display a specific photo, and clarifies where the widget sources those photos from. Good stuff.

Kirk McElhearn, digging into ProRAW:

One of the key elements of raw files is that they are not demosaiced.

Demosaiced? That’s a new term for me.

From the Demosaicing Wikipedia page:

A digital image process used to reconstruct a full color image from the incomplete color samples output from an image sensor overlaid with a color filter array (CFA). It is also known as CFA interpolation or color reconstruction.

Most modern digital cameras acquire images using a single image sensor overlaid with a CFA, so demosaicing is part of the processing pipeline required to render these images into a viewable format.

Many modern digital cameras can save images in a raw format allowing the user to demosaic them using software, rather than using the camera’s built-in firmware.

OK, got it, back to Kirk:

When you open a raw file in an editing, your software processes the file, performing the demosaicing, along with some other processing, and then allows you to then proceed with other edits. Because of this, there are a number of photo editing apps that perform this demosaicing in slightly different ways; photographers choose the app they prefer according to the results (and for other editing capabilities as well).

But Apple’s ProRAW has already done this demosaicing, which means that, well, it’s not a raw file.

This is just the beginning of a long, interesting take on ProRAW. If you are into the camera side of your iPhone, this is definitely worth a read.

Apple:

Apple today announced that Monica Lozano, president and CEO of College Futures Foundation, has been elected to Apple’s board of directors.

And:

Prior to joining College Futures Foundation, Lozano spent 30 years in media as editor and publisher of La Opinión, the largest Spanish-language newspaper in the US, helping shine a light on issues from infant mortality to the AIDS epidemic. She went on to become chairman and CEO of La Opinión’s parent company, ImpreMedia. Lozano continues to serve on the boards of Target Corporation and Bank of America Corporation.

And, way at the bottom of the release:

Lozano is also a former board member of The Walt Disney Company.

January 4, 2021

Robot rock stars

This is a pretty great performance. I have no idea what this represents, but it makes me think of Transformers.

Start with this post from Joe Rossignol, MacRumors, titled HomePod Mini Now Works With Select 18W Chargers Following 14.3 Software Update.

Apple includes a 20W power adapter with the HomePod mini, but many customers may have an 18W power adapter from an iPhone 11 Pro or other device.

Point being, if you have an 18W charger and buy a HomePod mini, use the 18W for your HomePod, now you have a 20W for general use.

Moving on to the headline linked post from John Gruber:

The only way to tell Apple’s new 20W charger apart from their old 18W charger is to look at the hard-to-read small print (light gray text on a white background, a veritable crime against accessibility). And even when you read the small print, you have to know that Apple’s 20W chargers say “20W” on them and their 18W chargers aren’t labeled with a wattage. Seriously, Apple’s 18W charger doesn’t say “18W” — the only way to know it’s an 18W charger is to examine the even-harder-to-read smallest-of-small print and know that it’s stated maximum output of “9V × 2A” is 18W. (Their 20W charger is 9V × 2.2A, so it’s really a 19.8W charger.)

First, check that math at the end. Good to know the W=V*A equation.

That aside, amazing that it is so hard to tell the difference between a 20W and 18W charger. Read this, then go look at your chargers, maybe make some labels so you can easily tell which is which.

Moving on:

So on the one hand, because the HomePod Mini includes the 20W charger, it was fine that it didn’t work with the old 18W charger. But on the other hand, if you ever toss the 20W charger into a bag or drawer along with an Apple 18W charger, you needed an extraordinary amount of knowledge to be able to know which charger the HomePod Mini required. Not sure how much work Apple had to put into the 14.3 software update to make the HomePod Mini work with the 18W charger too, but I’m glad they did. It’s too confusing otherwise.

Lots of details here, but update to the latest HomePod OS and you’ll have the ability to swap out the 18W and 20W chargers.

Gruber’s post is worth reading, especially with details on what he discovered about his Magic Keyboard and Apple’s slightly older 29W USB-C power adapter, which looks exactly like Apple’s more recent 30W USB-C power adapter.

Michael Potuck, 9to5Mac:

Along with the shift to Apple Silicon, performing things like a restore is different with M1 Macs compared to their Intel predecessors. Follow along for a look at how to revive and restore M1 Macs, what the difference is, when to use them, and what to try before taking those steps.

Do you know the difference between a revive and restore? If not, give this a quick read, get the basic model in your head so you don’t have to start from scratch when a Mac emergency hits. This is the new way.

Zoe Schiffer, The Verge:

A group of Google workers have announced plans to unionize with the Communications Workers of America (CWA). The Alphabet Workers Union will be open to all employees and contractors at Google’s parent company. Its goal will be to tackle ongoing issues like pay disparity, retaliation, and controversial government contracts.

And:

Arranged as a members-only union, the new organization won’t seek collective bargaining rights to negotiate a new contract with the company. Instead, the Alphabet Workers Union will only represent employees who voluntarily join. That structure will also allow it to represent all employees who seek to participate — including temps, vendors, and contractors (known internally as TVCs) who would be excluded by labor law from conventional collective bargaining.

This seems a pretty big deal. Google’s response:

“We’ve always worked hard to create a supportive and rewarding workplace for our workforce. Of course our employees have protected labor rights that we support. But as we’ve always done, we’ll continue engaging directly with all our employees.”

Which contrasts with this:

The news comes one month after the National Labor Relations Board filed a complaint alleging Google illegally fired two workers who were organizing employee protests. The employees, Laurence Berland and Kathryn Spiers, were organizing against the company’s decision to work with IRI Consultants, a firm famous for its anti-union efforts.

It also follows the firing of prominent AI ethicist Timnit Gebru in December. In a press release announcing the union, the Alphabet Workers Union wrote: “The firing has caused outrage from thousands of us, including Black and Brown workers who are heartbroken by the company’s actions and unsure of their future at Google.”

Here’s the Alphabet Workers Union announcement.

January 1, 2021

The Dalrymple Report: With special guest Rene Ritchie

Rene joins me this week as we wrap up 2020 talking about the M1 Mac, HomePod, and some other great Apple products released this year. Subscribe to this podcast

Brought to you by:

Helix Sleep: Helix is offering up to $200 off all mattress orders AND two free pillows for our listeners at HelixSleep.com/dalrymple.

December 25, 2020

Happy Holidays

Hey folks, I just wanted to wish everyone a great holiday season. Dave and I really appreciate all the support you’ve shown us this year on the Web site and podcast—it truly means a lot to us. Please be safe over the holidays, we want to see you all back here next year.

The Dalrymple Report: Amazon, AirPods, Lasso, and the Holidays

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all! Dave and I talked how Amazon destroys its competition and partners. We also looked at Ted Lasso, and a quick take of the AirPods Max, and the new Beatles movie.

Subscribe to this podcast

December 24, 2020

Yet another great AirPods Max video, using a microphone rig to show off noise cancellation, spatial audio, etc.

I love it when clever comes out to play. This special microphone rig is designed to accommodate headphones, so you get to hear what it’s like to wear various headphones, including the AirPods Max.

The Mayron Cole piano method is pretty comprehensive. And now it’s free.

If you ever wanted to learn to play piano, these guides and some sort of keyboard are all you need. The guides are available as PDFs, perfect for displaying on an iPad.

If you are stuck at home for some reason, consider learning to play the piano. Definitely satisfying to master a new skill.

Surfing Santas

See if you can guess what this is an ad for. Kinda fun.

Big Sur brings a frustrating interface change to notifications. This post documents the change in great detail. It’s all about the process of dismissing a notification, which is much harder than it used to be, both in terms of fine motor control requirements and low discoverability.

Read the post, see if you agree.

Glen Weldon, NPR:

Wolfwalkers, from Cartoon Saloon, the production company behind 2009’s The Secret of Kells and 2014’s Song of the Sea, isn’t made for kids. Or at least, not just for kids.

Because there are a lot of other thematic elements jostling for elbow room in this tale of young English girl Robyn (voiced by Honor Kneafsey) and her father (voiced by Sean Bean) trying to make a go of it in the pre-colonial Irish town of Kilkenny.

And:

Layered over the anti-authoritarian theme is an ecological one: The town is growing, and Robyn’s father has been hired by the Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell (voiced by Simon McBurney) to clear the wolves out of the rapidly vanishing forest nearby. There’s a healthy dose of feminism in the mix, as well: Robyn only wants to help her father hunt, but her status as a young woman gets her consigned to menial scullery duties. You don’t have to scratch the film’s surface terribly hard to find a queer reading, either: Robyn and her father are desperately trying to blend in, but Robyn’s need for freedom (and her drive to point out to her father that his white-knuckle grip on their assigned hierarchical roles is wrong) endangers them both.

The upshot here is that all this is really well handled, a mix that’s compelling, rather than muddled.

Because of the film’s densely packed themes, you can pick and choose which particular “message” you’ll take away from Wolfwalkers. But whichever you pick, the feel of this hauntingly rich visual feast will stay with you much longer.

This seems a perfect movie to watch with the family over the holidays. On Apple TV+ now.

Unbound for Mac blog:

With the announcement of the App Store Small Business Program, I’ve stopped selling Unbound directly via the web site. I thought it would be worth explaining how I came to that decision.

This is an interesting read, mostly for developers, but also for folks interested in Apple’s business practices.

If you sell a Mac app, you likely either sell it on the Mac App Store or via an eCommerce engine like Paddle. The economics are a big part of the “how to sell” decision.

Paddle takes a much smaller cut than Apple, but requires a time and coding investment. Apple’s move to cut their end for small (under $1M) sellers from 30% to 15% definitely has an impact on the overall math.

Paddle gives you the freedom to update your app when you like, no approval necessary. Apple, obviously, has hoops to jump through, including a notarization process, and restrictions on content.

Paddle makes it easy to do demos, offer coupon codes, etc.

If Apple highlights your App, the exposure can bring a huge spike in sales.

If Paddle suffered a data breach, suddenly I would be on the hook for exposing people’s emails or (God forbid) credit card data. While this has not happened, and I have no reason whatsoever to think Paddle is anything but competent, I’m still much happier trusting Apple’s security practices than any third party. (And if Apple has a security breach, I feel like I’m unlikely to take the blame from customers—the vast majority of them have done business with Apple directly in the past, whether for their computers, phones, or even just iTunes purchases.)

Even apart from a data breach, removing all third parties from the equation is a privacy win for customers—I can proudly tell people the app collects no data whatsoever, whereas Paddle had to “phone home” to validate product keys.

This last bit is something I never considered.

Worthwhile, provocative read.

December 23, 2020

This ad dropped last month, an homage to Singin’ in the Rain, but designed to sell Burberry product.

I love this ad, wonder how much of this is CGI, how much practical effects. No matter, to me, has all the feel of an Apple ad.

Side note: In the original Singing in the Rain, linked above, that’s Carrie Fisher’s mom at the beginning of the scene.

A wonderfully detailed audiophile AirPods Max review

This was full of interesting nuggets, beginning to end. Even the fit and finish bits, of which I thought I’d heard all there was to say, had some new insights.

Great video.

How many HTML tags can you remember? My score was embarrassingly low, but it was fun anyway.

Dana Mattioli, Wall Street Journal:

Jeff Bezos built Amazon.com Inc. from his garage with an underdog’s ambition to take on the establishment. He imbued staff with an obsession to grow fast by grabbing customers using the biggest selection and lowest prices.

And:

That ethos helps keep Amazon booming. Aggressive competition—including wresting market share from rivals—is often a hallmark of a successful business. It’s also why the tech-and-retail giant is the target of rivals, regulators and politicians who say its tactics are unfair for a company its size, and potentially illegal. As the company has grown, so has its capacity to take on an ever-growing array of competitors.

And:

Executives behind the scenes have methodically waged targeted campaigns against rivals and partners alike—an approach that has changed little through the years, from diapers to footwear.

No competitor is too small to draw Amazon’s sights. It cloned a line of camera tripods that a small outside company sold on Amazon’s site, hurting the vendor’s sales so badly it is now a fraction of its original size, the little firm’s owner said.

And:

When Amazon decided to compete with furniture retailer Wayfair Inc., Mr. Bezos’s deputies created what they called the Wayfair Parity Team, which studied how Wayfair procured, sold and delivered bulky furniture, eventually replicating a majority of its offerings, said people who worked on the team.

The article goes on and on, but you get the idea. The sense here is that Amazon wants to replicate every product it sells, discarding partnerships once they have their own version of that partner’s product.

At what point does this turn into unfair business practice?

Buzzfeed News:

Last Tuesday, Facebook launched what it portrayed as a full-throated defense of small businesses. In taking out full-page ads in major newspapers and creating a webpage encouraging people to “Speak Up for Small Businesses,” the social networking giant argued that a change in Apple’s mobile operating system would decimate family-run enterprises by preventing them from targeting people with online ads.

But:

But while the $750 billion company’s public relations effort has presented a united front with small businesses, some Facebook employees complained about what they called a self-serving campaign that bordered on hypocrisy, according to internal comments and audio of a presentation to workers that were obtained by BuzzFeed News.

And:

“It feels like we are trying to justify doing a bad thing by hiding behind people with a sympathetic message,” one engineer wrote in response to an internal post about the campaign from Dan Levy, Facebook’s vice president for ads.

To me, this is a badly thought out campaign that is fooling no one. Usually, a controversial campaign like this would have champions on both sides. I’ve yet to encounter anyone who’s taken the Facebook side of this debate.

December 22, 2020

Embedded below is a five minute chunk of Peter Jackson’s coming Beatles movie. It’s far more than a trailer.

What I found most amazing about this treat is how much footage there is that I’ve never seen before.

Enjoy. Coming to theaters August 27th.

The New Yorker:

In 1977, Shigeru Miyamoto joined Nintendo, a company then known for selling toys, playing cards, and trivial novelties. Miyamoto was twenty-four, fresh out of art school. His employer, inspired by the success of a California company named Atari, was hoping to expand into video games. Miyamoto began tinkering with a story about a carpenter, a damsel in distress, and a giant ape. The result, Donkey Kong, débuted in 1981. Four years later, Miyamoto had turned the carpenter into a plumber; Mario, and the Super Mario Bros. franchise, had arrived. But Miyamoto wanted more. Tired of linear, side-scrolling mechanics, he yearned to conjure the open world and carefree adventures of his childhood in Sonobe, a town just west of Kyoto. In 1986, Nintendo released The Legend of Zelda.

And:

Miyamoto turned sixty-eight in November. He’s been linked to Walt Disney since the early days of his career, and those comparisons are set to continue; Miyamoto is currently overseeing the design and installation of Super Nintendo World, a half-billion-dollar theme park at Universal Studios in Osaka.

There are allegedly plans to bring a Super Nintendo World to Hollywood, Orlando, and Singapore, too.

A few days after Miyamoto’s birthday, I had a rare chance to speak to him at length, over Zoom—and he was willing to show more of the man behind the mascot than expected. In doing so, he revealed how deeply he has considered the discipline of game design and how much he has tried to move it forward. Our conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

If you are a Nintendo fan, take some time to read the interview. Miyamoto rarely speaks publicly. Great read.

Check out the images embedded in this tweet:

It’s coming on awards season and this is part of Apple’s campaign for Ted Lasso to bring home some trophies. These appeared in the LA Times print edition over the weekend.

Clever.

ComicBook.com:

While it has not yet been widely reported, Lawrence said as much on an early December episode of Fake Doctors, Real Friends, a Scrubs rewatch podcast hosted by series stars Zach Braff and Donald Faison.

Lawrence refers to Scrubs and Ted Lasso creator Bill Lawrence.

During a conversation about the state of The Mandalorian, Lawrence was opining on the difficulty of making a second season to a show where everyone loved the first season. When asked whether he was concerned about that on Ted Lasso, he said it was less of an issue on a series that is designed as finite.

And:

“I think that ours is a little different because Jason, as he’s kind of mapping it out, it’s a three-season show,” Lawrence explained. “So…super-fans know that [The Mandalorian is] connecting tissue in the Star Wars universe, and for us, everybody knows that they get an end to this story in the third season.”

Normally, I’d put this off as rumor, take with a large grain of salt. But it’s straight from the horse’s mouth.

To me, this makes every episode that much more precious.

Juli Clover, MacRumors:

Apple recently shared a manual that outlines the steps that one should take to protect their devices and their data when personal safety is at risk. This is designed for people who need to protect themselves from being tracked by a former loved one, a stalker, or another malicious person.

From the document itself:

If you’d like to revisit what you share with other people, or restore your device’s original settings for any reason, this guide can help you understand what information you are sharing via your Apple devices, and how to make changes to protect your safety. It includes step-by-step instructions on how to remove someone’s access to information you’ve previously granted: from location data on the Find My app, to meetings you’ve scheduled via Calendar.

If you’re concerned that someone is accessing information you did not share from your Apple device, this guide will also help you identify risks, and walk you through the steps to help make the technology you rely on as private and secure as you want it to be.

Share this document, tuck it away with your other important bookmarks.

To whomever at Apple thought up this idea, cheers and respect.

December 21, 2020

The sound behind five decades of landmark albums, API consoles are legend for good reason. From Stevie Wonder’s Talking Book and Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, to The Cure’s Pornography and Radiohead’s Hail to the Thief — the mid‑forward punch of API’s classic analog consoles breathe aggressive, multi‑dimensional color into your mixes.

Developed in partnership with API, exclusively for LUNA Recording System, the API Summing Extension emulates the 2520 op‑amp and custom output transformer-based summing amps found in legendary API consoles over the past 50 years — giving your LUNA mixes all the attitude and tone of API’s esteemed analog desks.

I haven’t tried API Summing yet, but I plan to over the holidays.