October 15, 2019

Follow the headline link and vote.

I tend to use both. If have a long drive ahead of me, I’ll visit both for route recommendations. If they disagree, it’s usually because one is aware of an accident or traffic problem that the other isn’t.

And if I am looking for a local food recommendation, I’ll look at both, but tend to trust the Google Maps crowd source data, rather than Apple’s Yelp data. Not a fan of Yelp, wish Apple built their own crowd-source food recommendation mechanism, rather than depend on Yelp. I’ve always felt like Apple and Yelp are an odd partnership.

October 14, 2019

Steve Jobs, internal Apple meeting, introducing Think Different campaign

This was posted back in 2017, was filmed just a few weeks into Steve’s return to Apple back in 1997.

It reentered the conversation again because of comments about Apple’s core values Steve made at about 6:17 in.

The reemergence came, at least in part, due to Steve’s statement about core values and a perceived disconnect with Apple’s decisions on banning the HKLive app.

I found the whole video riveting. It’s 15 minutes long. If you’ve got a taste for Apple’s history, worth watching the whole thing.

Six lessons from the team that created Luna Display, which got Sherlock’ed by Catalina/iPadOS’s Sidecar. Interesting, informative, and remarkably gracious.

Working out the math of whether or not to update to Catalina? Take a few minutes to step through these quotes Michael Tsai collected from various members of the Mac technorati.

I am writing these words from my Catalina install. Though I did run into some snags with the install, so far my Catalina experience has been rock solid.

If you do decide to make the leap to Catalina: Obviously, do a complete backup before you start, and spend the time digging through the list of your 32-bit apps to make sure there’s nothing on that list that you’ll miss.

To do that:

  • Apple menu > About This Mac
  • Click the System Report button
  • In the sidebar on the left, scroll to Software > Legacy Software

Anything you absolutely need? Check to see if there’s a 64-bit upgrade. Do the upgrade before you install Catalina.

First off:

  • Fire up your iPhone, head to Settings > Safari
  • Now tap the link that says “About Safari & Privacy…” (it’s the second of these links, just under the Check for Apple Pay switch)
  • Scroll down to the section labeled “Fraudulent Website Warning”

At the bottom of that paragraph:

Before visiting a website, Safari may send information calculated from the website address to Google Safe Browsing and Tencent Safe Browsing to check if the website is fraudulent. These safe browsing providers may also log your IP address.

Those words have raised a lot of eyebrows. The headline linked article digs into some history and lays out the concerns. Start off by reading the section “What is “Safe Browsing”, and is it actually safe?” That’ll set the table for why Google’s Safe Browsing is imperfect where privacy is concerned.

Which leads to:

The problem is that Safe Browsing “update API” has never been exactly “safe”. Its purpose was never to provide total privacy to users, but rather to degrade the quality of browsing data that providers collect. Within the threat model of Google, we (as a privacy-focused community) largely concluded that protecting users from malicious sites was worth the risk. That’s because, while Google certainly has the brainpower to extract a signal from the noisy Safe Browsing results, it seemed unlikely that they would bother. (Or at least, we hoped that someone would blow the whistle if they tried.)

But Tencent isn’t Google. While they may be just as trustworthy, we deserve to be informed about this kind of change and to make choices about it. At very least, users should learn about these changes before Apple pushes the feature into production, and thus asks millions of their customers to trust them.

OK, now you’re caught up. Is this a tempest in a teapot or a genuine privacy concern? Looking forward to an official response from Apple.

UPDATE: And here’s Apple’s official statement:

Apple protects user privacy and safeguards your data with Safari Fraudulent Website Warning, a security feature that flags websites known to be malicious in nature. When the feature is enabled, Safari checks the website URL against lists of known websites and displays a warning if the URL the user is visiting is suspected of fraudulent conduct like phishing.

To accomplish this task, Safari receives a list of websites known to be malicious from Google, and for devices with their region code set to mainland China, it receives a list from Tencent. The actual URL of a website you visit is never shared with a safe browsing provider and the feature can be turned off.

October 12, 2019

THE HOOD INTERNET presents 1980

I posted the 1979 version of this last week. The Loop’s Dave Mark found the 1980 version. Enjoy.

Robservatory:

I have no plans to move my main iMac to macOS Catalina, at least for the forseeable future. There are two key apps I use—Fujitsu’s ScanSnap scanner software and the Many Tricks’ accounting app—that are both 32-bit. In addition, there are changes in Catalina relative to permissions that make it somewhat Vista like and slow down my interaction with the system.

There are two things that I wanted to get rid of on my iMac: The notice about Catalina, and the infuriating red dot. At its simplest level, this appears to require just two Terminal commands

This is (yet another) example of Apple’s parochial insistence that “We Know Better.” There’s no reason this notification and popup should not be able to be permanently dismissed.

October 11, 2019

The Dalrymple Report: China, Catalina, and Musicals

It’s been a rough week for Apple in China. Dave and I talk about that, some problems with macOS Catalina, and how much I hate musicals.

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China, Catalina, and Apple bashing

Apple PR has their work cut out for them.

On the China front, John Gruber takes on Tim Cook’s company wide email on the on-again, off-again approval of the HKMap app:

I can’t recall an Apple memo or statement that crumbles so quickly under scrutiny. For a company that usually measures umpteen times before cutting anything, it’s both sad and startling.

This is the tip of the iceberg on hot takes concerning Apple’s dealings with China. This issue is complex, and Apple has made a decision that China’s market is important to them, have stepped into the fire.

Then there’s Catalina. There’s this hot take from Tyler Hall (just a snippet, read the whole thing:

Apple’s insistence on their annual, big-splash release cycle is fundamentally breaking engineering. I know I’m not privy to their internal decision making and that software features that depend on hardware releases and vice-versa are planned and timed years (if not half-decades) in advance, but I can think of no other explanation than that Marketing alone is purely in charge of when things ship.

There’s another hot take making its way around Twitter, not going to link to it because it appears to come from an Apple employee and there’s no grain of salt big enough to make it worth sharing without attribution and permission, but it’s a doozy.

My experience with Catalina has been spotty at best. There’s lots of general stability and wonderful new features, punctuated by bizarre bugs that have consumed a lot of cycles to work through.

Difficult times for Apple, hard to see this when you know how hard these folks work, and reflect on how much Apple has changed the world. I’m old enough to remember the days of the flip phone, having to type a message with a phone’s digits as your keyboard. What we have now is a miracle to me. I’m hoping we get through these difficult times quickly, get back to the whimsy.

Amboy Manalo, iOS GadgetHacks:

With iOS 13, you can now quickly reboot your iPhone using Voice Control. If you haven’t set it up, open Settings, head to “Accessibility,” and select “Voice Control,” then tap “Set Up Voice Control” and follow the prompts.

Now, simply say “Reboot Device” (no need to say “Hey Siri” or anything first). When you do, you’ll see a prompt. Just say “Tap Restart,” and your phone will reboot.

This is fascinating and fun to play with. I can definitely see the value as an assistive tech. Take a few minutes and go through the steps, try this for yourself.

My bet is, somewhere there’s an official set of Voice Control verbs out there. Wondering if that list corresponds to a similar list for, say, Shortcuts.

UPDATE: To learn more, dig into this Apple support page. Also, turn on voice control and then say: “Show me what to say” (H/T Roman Meliska).

Stephen Shankland, CNET:

When Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller detailed the iPhone 11’s new camera abilities in September, he boasted, “It’s computational photography mad science.” And when Google debuts its new Pixel 4 phone on Tuesday, you can bet it’ll be showing off its own pioneering work in computational photography.

The reason is simple: Computational photography can improve your camera shots immeasurably, helping your phone match, and in some ways surpass, even expensive cameras.

But what exactly is computational photography?

Nice explainer.

Apple drops “Truth Be Told” trailer

Pretty impressive cast, including Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer and Emmy winner Aaron Paul. I’ll definitely check this one out. Truth Be Told comes to Apple TV+ on December 6th.

Juli Clover, MacRumors:

Today’s iOS 13.2 beta introduces a new option that allows iPhone and iPad users to delete their Siri and Dictation history and opt out of sharing audio recordings, features that Apple promised after being called out for its ‌Siri‌ quality evaluation processes.

Earlier this year, it was discovered that Apple hired contractors to listen to a small percentage of anonymized ‌Siri‌ recordings to evaluate ‌Siri‌’s responses with the purpose of improving the assistant’s accuracy and reliability.

Apple promised tools to manage this stuff, and here they are.

Chance Miller, 9to5Mac:

macOS Catalina was released to the public earlier this week, making it easier for developers to port their iPad apps to the Mac. Twitter is joining the club today with a new Catalyst version of its iPad app that’s now available on the Mac App Store.

In case you want to dive in, here’s a link to the new Mac Twitter client.

This feels like a beta app, a work-in-progress. Try it for yourself. One clue: When you get to the login screen, try resizing the window. The panes within don’t resize. They are non-responsive. This is basic stuff. I suspect this is a Catalyst issue, not a Twitter issue, but not certain.

If you’ve got access to Catalina, try it out, see for yourself. Me? I’m back at my regular 3rd party Twitter client.

October 10, 2019

Bloomberg:

Apple Inc. Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook defended the company’s decision to remove a mapping app in Hong Kong, saying on Thursday that the company received “credible information” from authorities indicating the software was being used “maliciously” to attack police.

Apple pulled HKmap.live from its App Store on Wednesday after flip-flopping between rejecting it and approving it earlier this month. Apple made the decision after consulting with local authorities, because it could endanger law enforcement and city residents. Cook echoed that sentiment in an email to Apple employees.

I’ve never said this about a Tim Cook missive but what a load of crap. Apple is between a rock and a hard place on this and, as I said to Jim Dalrymple on last night’s Your Mac Life podcast, it’s a position they’ve put themselves in and I have no sympathy for the company on this issue. They deserve all the flack they are getting – from both sides.

Amazing take: Jimi Hendrix Voodoo Child, played on a traditional Korean Gayageum

Graceful and effortless, a brilliant take on a classic.

[VIDEO] Hands on with macOS Catalina

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.

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.

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.

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.

October 9, 2019

The Smithsonian Magazine:

are’s breakthrough designs for the Macintosh, which included the smiling computer at startup, trash can for recycling and a computer disk for saving files, are now commonplace in the digital era. They are so recognizable that they are legendary.

Known today as “the woman who gave the Macintosh a smile,” Kare had little experience with computers when she first went to work for Apple in 1983. She was a young sculptor when she received a call from an old friend asking if she would be interested in applying for a job creating graphics and typefaces for the new personal computer Apple was planning to release in 1984.

Kare had never designed a typeface before, but she didn’t let her unfamiliarity stop her.

I love reading stories about Kare’s design process and philosophies.

CNET:

I recently spent a few days trying a variety of Arcade titles on an Apple TV 4K and a 55-inch 4K TV, primarily using the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One controllers. In short, while there’s plenty of promise, Apple Arcade doesn’t yet work as well in the living room as it does on the go.

I’ve played a couple of games on the Apple TV but CNET is right in saying there’s a lot more work to be done. For me, using an Xbox One controller is not a fun experience.

How to search the web using macOS Catalina’s voice control

This was very interesting, great to know.

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.

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.

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.

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.

October 8, 2019

The Making Of Operator 41 for Apple Arcade

This is a great video.

PetaPixel:

If you’re a Mac user who regularly uses Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom Classic CC, we don’t recommend updating your computer to macOS Catalina just yet. Even though the new operating system has been in beta for months, updating your Mac today will lead to a few annoying issues that you might want to wait for Adobe to iron out.

Apple officially released macOS Catalina yesterday, and neither Adobe Lightroom Classic nor Adobe Photoshop CC were fully prepared to handle the new operating system as of this writing. According to Adobe’s macOS compatibility pages for both Photoshop and Lightroom, the latest version of these apps “work with macOS 10.15 (Catalina) but have … known compatibility issues.”

If you are a “professional” user of either app, you’d have to be insane to update to macOS Catalina until Adobe pulls its head out of its posterior and fixes these issues.

Variety:

Aniston: “There was really something exciting about being the first at Apple. Apple is pretty awesome. They make cool stuff. Why wouldn’t they maybe make cool television? And they are all about quality, not quantity, so that was really appealing. And in spite of their comical secrecy, it’s been worth it. Who doesn’t want to be part of the Wild Wild West?”

I’m really looking forward to this show and seeing what Aniston pulls off.