December 3, 2019

Reuters:

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday signed legislation requiring all smartphones, computers and smart TV sets sold in the country to come pre-installed with Russian software.

And:

The law has been presented as a way to help Russian IT firms compete with foreign companies and spare consumers from having to download software upon purchasing a new device.

Seems impossible to predict the impact this will ultimately have, both in Russia and abroad. Seems like short term chaos for developers, device manufacturers, and resellers in that market, at the very least, with isolation sure to follow. Is that the goal?

Interesting interview with Scott Forstall, former software and Senior VP at Apple, significant contributor on both the Mac and iOS sides.

From Forstall’s Wikipedia page:

In 2005, when Jobs began planning the iPhone, he had a choice to either “shrink the Mac, which would be an epic feat of engineering, or enlarge the iPod”. Jobs favored the former approach but pitted the Macintosh and the iPod team, led by Forstall and Tony Fadell respectively, against each other in an internal competition. Forstall won that fierce competition to create iOS.

The decision enabled the success of the iPhone as a platform for third-party developers: using a well-known desktop operating system as its basis allowed the many third-party Mac developers to write software for the iPhone with minimal retraining. Forstall was also responsible for creating a software developer’s kit for programmers to build iPhone apps, as well as an App Store within iTunes.

The video embedded below is part of Stanford University’s Philosophy Talk series. The relevant part of the conversation, highlighted on the headline linked Reddit post, starts at about 31 minutes in.

In a nutshell, Forstall talks about giving everyone who reported to him (a fairly large group) a month off to work on whatever they wanted. Give a listen.

It used to be a common perq at big tech companies (Google and Apple are but two examples) that you got time to work on stuff that interested you. Sometimes that benefit came in the form of a long sabbatical, allowing you to travel around the world, or take classes in some unrelated field, all via paid leave.

Another take on this policy allowed you to carve out a percentage of your time each month to fiddle around with technology you thought might lead to something that might benefit the company in the long run.

Does this sort of thing exist any more? Anyone have that freedom at their job? Is there a value to the company, a value that’s now been lost because this sort of thing is hard to translate into dollars and cents?

And is it possible this approach, one that gives team members the ability to ease themselves from the threat of burn-out, has benefits in terms of more stable OS releases, less employee turnover?

Almost as an afterthought in Apple’s Apple Music Awards press release:

Apple Music Celebrates with Global, Live-Streamed Performance by Billie Eilish at the Steve Jobs Theater on December 4 at 6:30 p.m. PST

Arguably, the hottest artist in the world is going to perform on Apple’s campus, in a small, intimate setting.

Oh, yeah, and it’s being live-streamed. If this is for you, set a reminder for tomorrow at 6:30p PT, 930p ET.

Definitely worth the time to go through the list of winners. There are best apps for iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple TV, along with a series of gaming app awards.

December 2, 2019

A federal judge on Monday rejected Apple Inc’s bid to dismiss a proposed class action lawsuit by customers who said it knew and concealed how the “butterfly” keyboards on its MacBook laptop computers were prone to failure.

I don’t think Apple concealed anything, but there were certainly a lot of complaints about the butterfly mechanism.

‘Snowbrawl’ and the making of it

Apple’s latest “Shot on iPhone 11 Pro” spot is a “cinematic snowball fight.” I prefer the behind the scenes video.

OneZero:

What happened to me was that I found a glorious product review website called Wirecutter, which painstakingly tests both the exciting and banal in almost every category. It has reviews of air beds, TVs, kitchen knives, printers — you name it. Now, every time I need to buy, say, a screwdriver or a tent, I begin with a single search: “best tent Wirecutter” to see if the site has the answer.

The Wirecutter’s premise is that there is a best option, and that it can be discovered through rigorous testing. And this idea has ruined me.

I like Wirecutter and read their reviews for things I know nothing about but mostly for helping me to narrow down options. I don’t obsessively buy exactly what they recommend in a given category.

Andy Hertzfeld posts demo reel of proposed commercials with Apple’s OG Mac team, recorded in 1983

Andy Hertzfeld:

A few years ago, I uploaded some interview snippets recorded in October 1983 with members of the original Mac team, intended for commercials that were never used. This post is the entire reel of proposed commercials, featuring mini-interviews with Mike Murray, Burrell Smith, Bill Atkinson, Susan Kare, George Crow and me.

This kills me with nostalgia. The original Mac team, back before the Mac was even a thing. Oh how young they were.

Apple Arcade preview of new releases

This dropped while I was on vacation last week.

Worth watching if you have an interest in the new Apple Arcade games. But I also found this interesting from a marketing point of view. This is officially posted by Apple, but the take feels, to me, like a third party review.

AdAge:

New York-based Lemonade is a 3-year-old company that lives completely online and mostly focuses on homeowners and renter’s insurance. The company uses a similar color to magenta — it says it’s “pink” — in its marketing materials and its website. But Lemonade was told by German courts that it must cease using its color after launching its services in that country, which is also home to T-Mobile owner Deutsche Telekom.

And:

“If some brainiac at Deutsche Telekom had invented the color, their possessiveness would make sense,” Daniel Schreiber, CEO and co-founder of Lemonade, said in a statement. “Absent that, the company’s actions just smack of corporate bully tactics, where legions of lawyers attempt to hog natural resources – in this case a primary color—that rightfully belong to everyone.”

This is a ruling in Germany, but for an international company, it’s an issue with impact.

The idea of a company owning all rights to a color is problematic. Does Sprint own yellow? Does IBM own that specific shade of blue?

December 1, 2019

CNBC:

For users of Apple devices in Crimea, the territory is now shown as part of Russia when it is searched on the U.S. tech giant’s Weather or Map apps. However, those same apps do not show Crimea as part of any country when it is viewed from outside of the region.

Apple commented on the situation on Friday, saying:

“We would like to clarify for our customers around the world that we have not made any changes to Apple Maps regarding Crimea outside of Russia, where a new law went into effect that required us to update the map within Russia,” Apple said.

“We review international law as well as relevant US and other domestic laws before making a determination in labelling on our Maps and make changes if required by law. We are taking a deeper look at how we handle disputed borders in our services and may make changes in the future as a result. Our intention is to make sure our customers can enjoy using Maps and other Apple services, everywhere in the world.”

Not sure what “We are taking a deeper look” actually means. I suspect it’s MarketingSpeak for, “Throwing the media a bone.”

When you’re a weather presenter and your watch contradicts your forecast

Well, that’s embarrassing.

November 30, 2019

Vice:

Nimbus, the first CD manufacturer in the UK, said that it had done some research into the disc rot issue and found that most discs will self-destruct after between eight and 10 years. The company’s findings, which went against prevailing theories of the time that CDs were indestructible, blamed the problems on improper dyes that reduced the quality of the discs.

Michele Youket, a preservation specialist at the Library of Congress, often deals with similar situations in her role. She says that this kind of silent destruction, which shows up in three different forms—the “bronzing” of discs, small pin-hole specs located on the discs, or “edge-rot”—became an important one for the national library when the organization started archiving music on CD formats, with the format’s weaknesses soon becoming apparent.

While not well known, this is starting to become more of an issue as the CDs from 10-20 years ago start to “age out.” If you’ve got an old CD collection, you should check it for “disc rot.”

MacRumors:

Apple today started offering an extended three-month free trial period for Apple News+ to first-time subscribers in the United States and Canada, up from a one-month trial previously. According to the App Store, this is a temporary promotion available for the Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend only.

The three-month trial can be initiated on the Apple News website in the United States or Canada. After the trial period, Apple News+ automatically renews for $9.99 per month in the United States or $12.99 per month in Canada until cancelled.

Apple is trying to get those of you who didn’t sign up the first time around. You might as well give it a shot but fair warning, keep your expectations of Apple News+ low.

November 29, 2019

Intego:

A lot of computer security is based on trust. Your devices verify that you are, indeed, an authorized user, through the use of user names and passwords. And your devices trust services and servers, through a series of certificates and “trusted third parties” who work through a cascading system of verification and authentication.

If you use Apple devices, the company has its own chain of trust that allows you to use multiple devices in concert. Each link of this chain is carefully designed to ensure its reliability, and each link also enhances other links in the chain. This can seem complex, but when you break it down into its component parts, it’s a lot easier to understand.

In most cases, you don’t need to know how all these elements work together, but it can be good to be aware of how Apple ensures the security of your devices, your accounts, and even your payment methods.

Apple isn’t perfect and I don’t trust the company implicitly but I do trust Apple significantly more than any other company I deal with.

Gizmodo:

There’s a chance you had never heard of Ring cameras before Amazon bought the company for as much as $1.8 billion last year. It’s possible that Ring still wasn’t on your radar earlier this year, when reports emerged that the home security giant had partnered with scores of police departments, funneling videos and user data in some dystopian effort to make a profit by fighting crime and eradicating privacy. But there’s a good chance that you’re going to see a Ring video doorbell on sale—possibly bundled with an Amazon Echo—this Black Friday.

Do not buy it. And definitely don’t buy one for somebody else.

This kind of tech is insidious and we need to be aware of what kinds of surveillance devices we have in our homes.

November 28, 2019

The Verge:

Famed designer Jony Ive has disappeared from Apple’s Leadership page, signaling an end to his time in Cupertino. Ive joined Apple in 1992 and led the design team from 1996.

Jony Ive’s last day at Apple was always a bit of a mystery. The June press release originally announcing his departure only said that it would occur “later this year.”

All eyes will now be on LoveFrom. Ive and Newson have a long history of collaborations that include the Apple Watch, a diamond ring, and a Christmas tree. Who knows, with any luck, maybe we’ll finally see what a mythical “Apple car” design could have been?

You just knew someone would be obsessively refreshing Apple’s Leadership page, just waiting to write this story.

November 27, 2019

The Verge:

A new initiative has been launched to preserve tweets from deceased loved ones after the social network announced it will begin removing inactive accounts this December. The Twittering Dead project was announced by Internet Archive software curator and digital preservationist Jason Scott, and asks users to provide the Twitter handles of any accounts they’d like to see archived. Unlike Facebook and other services, Twitter does not offer a way to memorialize accounts.

Twitter announced its plan to remove old Twitter accounts yesterday. Starting December 11th, any account that has not been signed in to within the last six months risks being deleted, freeing up its username to be registered by someone else. Twitter says it made the decision to “clean up inactive accounts” in order to “present more accurate, credible information people can trust across Twitter.” But the move will also have the unfortunate side effect of removing some content with sentimental value.

This Twitter policy change is typical of the company – shortsighted, stupid, and made without regard to how it will affect real people.

UPDATE: Twitter has posted this tweet:

Ars Technica:

Over the years, people have suggested joysticks or other radical replacements for controls, but none has proven superior to wheels and pedals. However, when it comes to our other interactions with automobiles, the past decade or so has seen quite the change within our car interiors. The high-definition, multicolored glitz of the consumer electronics world has proliferated throughout the industry, replacing dials and buttons with touchscreens. Whether that’s an entirely good thing is up for debate.

It might all be infotainment’s fault. One problem with all of these additions is that they can be a distraction from driving. Taking your eyes off the road is bad, and touchscreen interfaces are generally not conducive to developing “eyes-off” muscle memory, particularly if they lack haptic feedback. It’s not that touch interfaces are inherently bad, but they do let designers get away with shipping poor user interfaces.

I say yes but I also recognize my bias as a motorcyclist.

BBC:

Apple has complied with Russian demands to show Crimea as part of Russian territory on its apps. Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, in a move that was condemned by most of the global community.

The region is now displayed as Russian territory on Apple Maps and Weather, when viewed from inside Russia. However, Apple Maps and Weather do not show Crimea as part of any country, when viewed outside Russia.

Obeying the law of other countries or not, these kinds of “capitulations” continue to be not a good look for Apple.

Dave Nanian @ Shirt Pocket:

I’m happy to announce the release of v3.3 of SuperDuper, our fully Catalina-compatible version: happier, perhaps, then even you are in reading the news. It’s available via the normal update mechanism, or by downloading it from the web site.

The process of getting to a final version took longer than I hoped it would, but for good reason: once again, Apple has made some pretty radical changes to the way things are stored on your drive, and we didn’t want to release a final version—a version that would be installed by “everyone”—without getting extensive test coverage in “real world” situations…that is, setups other than our own test setups and real-world “developer” systems.

In conjunction with Carbon Copy Cloner, SuperDuper has been part of my backup planning for years.

November 26, 2019

The Hollywood Reporter:

Hollywood has been weighing the merits of the binge model ever since Netflix popularized it with House of Cards in 2013. But with four streaming services expected to launch by the end of 2020, the question of how to release a TV show is taking on new urgency.

Each platform is approaching the calculation differently: Apple, which dropped its first batch of TV+ shows Nov. 1, has opted for multiple rollout strategies. It released Hailee Steinfeld period comedy Dickinson all at once but only the first three episodes of dramas The Morning Show, See and For All Mankind, which will unfold weekly.

I see the merits of both but lean toward preferring the weekly episodic approach. I think it allows for more buzz and conversation, avoids a lot of spoilers and builds anticipation for each episode. What do you prefer – episodes dropped all at once or the old school model of once a week?

Mac Observer:

Normally US$4.99, Pixelmator Photo is free right now. It’s a photo editor that promises a full collection of nondestructive color adjustments, full support for RAW images, and machine learning that can improve your photos like a pro photographer. It’s an exclusive app for iPadOS. Here are some of the other features: Batch edit photos using the entire collection of editing tools available in the app; Enhance automatically takes care of all the subtle improvements that go into every great shot — white balance, exposure, shadow, and highlight detail — so you can focus on adding your own creative finishing touches; Presets for film emulation, vintage looks, and more.

Pixelmator makes great software. Sadly, this app won’t work on my iPad mini and isn’t available on the iPhone but, if you have a compatible iPad, it’s a no brainer to grab this app.

OneZero:

In theory, it could be the next Tesla to electrify a whole new demographic, one for which previous electric vehicles have held little to no appeal: the 20% of U.S. vehicle owners who drive pickups. But for the first time, Tesla may have missed the mark with its marketing, building a vehicle that is so self-consciously futuristic that it overshoots the target audience entirely.

…No one can accuse the Cybertruck of lacking machismo. It is absolutely enormous, for one thing. It looks like an unholy union of a Hummer, a DeLorean, and a post-apocalyptic armored vehicle.

To succeed, remember, the Cybertruck needs to appeal to people who weren’t Tesla buyers until now. And market research shows that full-size pickup owners don’t just make their decisions on the basis of performance; they also highly value tradition, and show some of the highest brand loyalty of any vehicle buyers. There is nothing remotely traditional about the Cybertruck.

The best comment I saw was from Twitter (paraphrasing): “The Cybertruck is a truck for Tesla fans. Tesla should have designed a Tesla for truck fans.” Musk’s boasting of pre-orders notwithstanding, this is a tough market to crack with a tough audience.

AdWeek:

When it comes to ads about holiday travel, most skip past all the messy and frustrating bits, jumping instead right to the perfectly inviting family home waiting at the other end of the journey.

Apple takes a different—and far more realistic—approach in its 2019 holiday ad, “The Surprise.” Filmed in a real home (not a soundstage) and starring real sisters, the 3-minute spot tells the story of family’s visit to a grandfather who recently lost his wife.

This year’s ad is focused on the iPad, which plays a central role in the family’s holiday experience. But what begins as a convenient distraction becomes something far more powerful in the hands of the two young girls.

Great backstory on Apple’s latest holiday spot.

November 25, 2019

Variety:

Apple is delaying the theatrical release of “The Banker,” originally set for Dec. 6 with assistance from Bleecker Street, insiders familiar with the company said.

It’s being delayed as the filmmakers review accusations of historical inaccuracy and sexual abuse at the hands of co-producer Bernard Garrett Jr. The film was also set to premiere on Apple TV Plus in January, which is also being postponed due to the theatrical release’s delay.

Pushing the theatrical release back even further and delaying the Apple TV+ launch means Apple couldn’t make arrangements with the accuser that would satisfy them. The film’s release may either be canceled entirely and put away forever or, more likely, released later next year after the publicity has died down.

BGR:

Tesla’s Cybertruck unveiling last week was one for the ages. Aside from introducing a tank of a truck that looks like it belongs in a futuristic military movie filmed in the 80s, a demo meant to highlight the Cybertruck’s armored glass didn’t go exactly as planned. As you’ve likely seen by now, two of the truck’s windows shattered immediately on impact when Tesla designer Franz von Holzhausen threw a metal sphere at them. The sphere didn’t make it into the truck, but it was embarrassing turn of events nonetheless.

Naturally, the failed demo elicited an avalanche of laughter and hilarious memes from folks online. But if we move beyond the comical aspect of the demo-gone-wrong, you might be curious as to what exactly went wrong.

Interestingly enough, Musk himself provided some insights about the shattered windows via Twitter.

I’m not a fan of Musk or that monstrosity of a so-called truck but I did feel bad for him. Having done many presentations I know how awful a failed demo can feel. But the explanation is interesting and, in hindsight, obvious.

MacRumors:

Apple today announced that it will donate $1 to (RED) for every purchase made with Apple Pay on Apple.com, through the Apple Store app, or at an Apple Store worldwide through December 2, up to a total of $1 million.

Apple says 100 percent of all proceeds generated by (RED) partners goes to fund HIV/AIDS programs in Africa, as part of The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. Since 2006, Apple has raised over $220 million for (RED) through the sale of red-colored products and accessories.

Giving to a cause is noble but that “up to a total of $1 million” sticks in my craw a little bit. For a company worth north of a trillion dollars and one that will make billions of dollars from consumers this holiday season, a million dollars isn’t even a drop in the ocean of cash Apple has.

Macworld:

With the 16-inch MacBook Pro, the company set out to create a laptop that would satisfy user demand—and that’s a little different way of doing things for Apple.

With the prior 15-inch model, there was always a “Yeah, but…” With the 16-inch MacBook Pro that replaces it, there are fewer chances for users to say, “Yeah, but….” The new laptop is a great combination of usability and performance, and it fixes the biggest issues with its predecessor.

There’s not a lot for pros to dislike with this new machine. Also check out the Ars Technica review for even more details.

Apple:

Unwrap amazing offers this Friday. Get an Apple Store Gift Card of up to $200 on select products during our four-day shopping event. Friday through Monday.

Apple has posted its “Black Friday” deals but, for the most part, everything they are offering is available for even cheaper elsewhere.