February 17, 2022

Wesley Hilliard, AppleInsider:

Your iPhone, iPad, and Mac all have a free password manager made by Apple called iCloud Keychain. Here’s how to use it, set up two-factor authentication, and never have to remember a password again.

Nice little exploration of Apple’s updated password management process. If you use Keychain Access, you definitely need to read this.

Anthony Chavez, VP, Product Management, Android Security & Privacy at Google:

Currently over 90% of the apps on Google Play are free, providing access to valuable content and services to billions of users. Digital advertising plays a key role in making this possible. But in order to ensure a healthy app ecosystem — benefiting users, developers and businesses — the industry must continue to evolve how digital advertising works to improve user privacy.

Can’t help but be reminded of the quote, “If you are not paying for it, you’re not the customer; you’re the product being sold.”

The quote is often attributed to Steve Jobs, but I believe the original lies here.

Today, we’re announcing a multi-year initiative to build the Privacy Sandbox on Android, with the goal of introducing new, more private advertising solutions. Specifically, these solutions will limit sharing of user data with third parties and operate without cross-app identifiers, including advertising ID. We’re also exploring technologies that reduce the potential for covert data collection, including safer ways for apps to integrate with advertising SDKs.

From the section titled, “Blunt approaches are proving ineffective”:

We realize that other platforms have taken a different approach to ads privacy, bluntly restricting existing technologies used by developers and advertisers. We believe that — without first providing a privacy-preserving alternative path — such approaches can be ineffective and lead to worse outcomes for user privacy and developer businesses.

Seems pretty clear that Chavez is referring to Apple here. Blunt? Yes. Ineffective? Hardly. Just ask Facebook.

Google’s “ineffective” claim comes from this study, with the title “Effectiveness of Apple’s App Tracking Transparency”. Feel free to read it, but you might first click through to the company page, where they hawk a pair of privacy products of their own: Firewall and Secure Tunnel VPN. Free and open source, but with some in-app purchases:

  • One Month of Lockdown VPN — $8.99
  • One Year of Lockdown VPN — $59.99
  • One Month of Lockdown VPN Pro — $11.99
  • One Year of Lockdown VPN Pro — $99.99

Not judging the products (I haven’t used them), but feels a little disingenuous for Google to base their “ineffective” claim on a study so closely tied to an app designed to capitalize on that claimed ineffectiveness.

While we design, build and test these new solutions, we plan to support existing ads platform features for at least two years, and we intend to provide substantial notice ahead of any future changes.

So no privacy for at least two years. Got it.

February 16, 2022

Sultans of Swing

Sultans of Swing (original video here, Apple Music here) is a darling of Classic Rock, a rite of passage for guitar players, a song that demands to be covered.

The cover embedded below is one of my favorites. The sound is clean, the performance laid back and down-tempo, but the guitar work is right on the money. There’s a lot to enjoy here, especially the fade out at the end, not by turning a knob, but by lowering voices, softening the touch.

Love the guitars themselves. Check out that red Strat. Are those marks on the first few frets the sign of well worn finger placement? And don’t miss that reel-to-reel in the background.

Shout out to Kevin Hoctor for the share.

Chance Miller, 9to5Mac:

Apple today released the third betas of macOS Monterey 12.3 and iPadOS 15.4. These updates contain the long-awaited Universal Control feature, and today’s macOS Monterey 12.3 beta continues to iterate on the feature — specifically in regard to controls in System Preferences.

Follow the headline link, scroll through the images to see the latest iteration of the Universal Control settings. These controls are easier to find, more obvious.

Can’t wait until Universal Control hits the public, non-beta releases.

Rene Ritchie: M1 Pro Max vs M2 — Buy now or wait?

As usual, this Rene Ritchie explainer is a firehose of information, but really well explained. What I found most interesting is the comparison of the iPhone processors, like the A14, to their Mac counterparts.

As you watch Rene walk through the various Apple Silicon architectures, he lays out the similarities between the iPhone and Mac chips, makes it clear how one begat the other, and how the design evolved from the iPhone’s smaller enclosure to the bigger, higher powered, better cooled Mac.

Antoinette Siu, The Wrap:

TikTok can circumvent security protections on Apple and Google app stores and uses device tracking that gives TikTok’s Beijing-based parent company ByteDance full access to user data, according to the summaries of two major studies obtained by TheWrap that appear to confirm longstanding concerns raised by privacy experts about the popular video-sharing app.

The studies, conducted by “white hat” cybersecurity experts that hack for the public good, were completed in November 2020 and January 2021. TheWrap verified the studies and confirmed their conclusions with five independent experts.

When asked by TheWrap, reps for TikTok — whose parent company ByteDance has had ties to the Chinese government — declined to confirm or deny the validity of the research.

Most alarming of all:

The summaries of the studies, shared exclusively with TheWrap, suggest that TikTok is able to avoid code audits on the Apple and Google app stores. More alarmingly, the research found that TikTok is capable of changing the app’s behavior as it pleases without users’ knowledge and utilizes device tracking that essentially gives the company and third parties an all-access pass to user data. This is highly unusual and exceeds the abilities of U.S.-based apps such as Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms.

And:

Examining the backend, researchers also found that the app essentially acts like a web browser. It uses a JavaScript bridge, the programming language for the web, to directly pull the app from TikTok’s servers when it’s launched. This makes the security of the app hard to assess, because that can keep changing, according to Lockerman at Conquest Cyber. Theoretically, it also means TikTok can change its app behavior dynamically or test certain things on the fly without pushing an update to users.

If true, how is this possible? How does the TikTok app get through the App Store review process?

A spokesperson for TikTok declined to address the studies directly, but told TheWrap that the company adheres to app store policies, adding that its product meets information security standards in the U.S., the U.K., Ireland, India and Singapore and recently received certification by the ioXt Alliance for meeting standards and commitments to cybersecurity and transparency. In fact, TikTok said it works with the ethical hacker community and researchers through a program called HackerOne to test its product.

So is this much ado about nothing? Or is TikTok getting away with privacy-evading practices? And, if the latter, how is this getting past App Store reviewers?

Heather Kelly, Washington Post:

Starting this week, Uber passengers can see what ratings drivers such as Clarke have left them, though they are kept anonymous for everyone’s safety. In the past, riders were able to see an average score based on all past trips, for example 4.25 stars. The new setting, buried deep in the Uber app, breaks it down so you can see totals for how many drivers assigned you 5 stars or 4 stars, all the way down to a 1-star rating. The chart only shows your last 500 trips.

When Heather says “buried deep in the Uber app”, she’s not kidding. If you want a challenge, launch the app (make sure you have the latest update) and try to find your ratings.

Even following Heather’s instructions, it was not easy to find. I laid out the steps as a list, tweeted here, might make it a bit easier to find.

February 15, 2022

This is a terrific collection of artifacts up for auction.

My favorites:

  • Apple Computer Inc check signed by Steve Jobs and Woz, dated 1976, with an address of 770 Welch Road (adjacent to Stanford campus)
  • Steven Jobs, Vice President, Apple business card
  • Another Steve Jobs business card, this one for Pixar, with a @next.com email address

Lots more. A fun browse through early Apple/tech history.

Apple Support: How to watch together on your Apple TV during a FaceTime call

Another excellent Apple Support video. This one walks through the process of syncing your Apple TV watching experience with other folks on a FaceTime call.

Interesting that the Mac is not mentioned, even though SharePlay via FaceTime was introduced in macOS Monterey 12.1, as described here.

No matter, good to see the SharePlay process in action. Well done.

UPDATE: Note that everyone on the SharePlay needs to be in the same Apple Store Region (no simultaneous watching with folks from UK and US, say). [H/T Samir Estefan]

Daniel Deakin, NotebookCheck:

Xiaomi built its well-regarded reputation by selling affordable Android smartphones under its Mi, Redmi, and POCO brands, which consisted of devices that frequently “borrowed” popular features and design language from other tech products, with Apple typically being a target for “inspiration”.

Jarring dissonance there, with “well-regarded reputation” fighting against “frequently borrowed features and design language”.

The release of the iPhone 13 series allowed Apple to roar ahead again, and by Q4 2021 the fruit company had soared to 22% of worldwide smartphone shipments while Samsung lost a bit of ground on 17% and Xiaomi dipped drastically to 12%.

And, therefore, Xiaomi now sees its salvation in the high end market dominated by Apple.

Peter Kafka, Recode:

Facebook built one of the most amazing money machines the world has ever seen. Then Apple came and threw a wrench in the gears.

That’s one of the narratives that sprang from last week’s news, when Facebook’s parent company Meta delivered an alarming earnings report to Wall Street, which promptly cut an astonishing $250 billion out of the company’s value in a single day — a 26 percent drop.

Obviously, the goal was better privacy, not a move against Facebook specifically. But Facebook did get hammered. But they are still healthy enough:

Facebook is still making an enormous amount of money from advertising — analyst Michael Nathanson estimates the company will generate $129 billion in ad revenue in 2022. But that would mean its ad business will only grow about 12 percent this year, compared to a 36 percent increase the previous year.

A specific sign of the drop:

Alex Austin, the CEO of Branch, a company that helps advertisers figure out how their campaigns are working: After Apple introduced its anti-tracking changes in the spring of 2021, advertisers who used Branch’s services to measure paid ads on iOS dropped by 20 percent.

And this, on the push to grow Facebook’s Marketplace Platform, with digital storefronts on Insta and Facebook:

Facebook can’t tell a shoe store if someone saw their ad on the app, then clicked through to the store’s site or app and bought something — but it can tell them if a Facebook user saw the ad on Facebook and then bought the shoes on Facebook.

Obviously, that depends on building traffic to Facebook and Instagram, having people view those platforms as a trusted shopping option.

February 14, 2022

Follow the headline link, click on dailydordle or freedordle. Both will display a Wordle-like word guessing setup, with two words being guessed in parallel.

Once you get one of the words (all green), that word will lock and you’ll be left working on the other word.

Nice twist.

Malcolm Owen, AppleInsider:

A nursing student in Australia is encouraging Apple Watch owners to enable heart rate notifications, after the wearable device detected symptoms of a thyroid condition months before being diagnosed.

And:

“Instead of me waiting for the symptoms to get really bad, I could have gone to the doctor back in October, when there was this dramatic drop in a matter of days,” Lauren adds, alongside a screenshot of a graph from the Health app. “It dramatically dropped, which means my cardiovascular system wasn’t working as well as it once was.”

The drop also correlated with other symptoms, including fatigue, a sensitivity to heat, gaining weight, dry skin, and increased irritability. In December, she was diagnosed with thyroid hemiagenesis, and is undergoing treatment.

Here’s a link to Lauren’s video. Sound on.

A few years ago, I had a long conversation with a cardiologist about the future of Apple Watch and the patterns that indicate various health conditions. I walked away from that conversation feeling that the potential for Apple Watch as diagnostic tool is massive, far beyond the benefits we already see, especially as more sensors are developed and integrated with Apple’s Health infrastructure. Lauren’s video made me feel this even more strongly.

Crypto, Facebook/Meta Super Bowl ads

Crypto rivals Coinbase and FTX spent big on these two Super Bowl ads (first two videos embedded below). Clearly, the Coinbase ad (with its floating, corner-seeking QR code) was incredibly successful, as it saw the Coinbase ad shoot from 186th place on the App Store all the way to 2nd place. More importantly, it overwhelmed the Coinbase servers:

Interestingly, from all the NFL and Super Bowl crypto hype, the NFL prohibits crypto, as covered in The Athletic:

“Clubs are prohibited from selling, or otherwise allowing within club controlled media, advertisements for specific cryptocurrencies, initial coin offerings, other cryptocurrency sales or any other media category as it relates to blockchain, digital asset or as blockchain company, except as outlined in this policy,” according to the new guidelines, as read by a team official, who requested anonymity.

Another ad that stuck out in yesterday’s ad-apalooza was the Meta/Facebook Oculus ad (Third embed below). Quality of the ad aside, it’s interesting that the Facebook brand is completely absent (gives me a feeling that peak Facebook is in the past) and that Meta is betting its future on its take on the future of VR.

Whets my appetite to see what AR/VR device Apple has up its sleeve. Four months until WWDC.

February 11, 2022

The Dalrymple Report: Apple wishes, AirPods, and realityOS

Dave and I talk about a few things we would like Apple to add or fix in their current software. We also look at how dominating Apple has become in the headphone industry with its AirPods line of products. Finally, is realityOS finally coming to the consumer?

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February 10, 2022

Follow the headline link, watch the video.

The implication is that Siri thinks it’s speaking on a HomePod with a display. Is this fake? An accidental beta leak? A Siri misspeak?

Either way, interesting. According to the post, this is iOS 14.5 B1, audioOS 15.3.

From the FAQ (click the headline link):

Q: Why is your website so popular? Are you one of those famous people that no one knows why they’re famous? A: No, I’m not famous. It seems likely that most visitors simply mistype gmail.com and end up visiting gail.com by mistake.

And:

Q: How did you manage to get gail.com? A: My husband registered it as a birthday gift back in 1996.

Gmail launched in 2004. So this domain is OG.

And, finally:

Q: How many times a day is this page visited? A: In 2020 this page received a total of 5,950,012 hits, which is an average of 16,257 per day. Looking at just unique hits, we received a total of 1,295,284, for an average of 3,539 unique hits per day. Occasionally, we get Twitter-bombed and may get several tens of thousands of visitors a day. As an example, on July 21st 2020 we received 109,316 hits.

That’s amazing traffic, all accidental. Fascinating.

Statista:

When Apple introduced AirPods alongside the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus in September 2016, the reactions were mixed at best. While many were impressed with the technology behind Apple’s first true wireless headphones, their design drew a lot of criticism and the internet was having a field day cracking jokes about the headphones’ looks, price and overall appeal.

That was then. This is now. Follow the headline link and check out the numbers.

  • Apple has 34.4% of the market
  • Beats is next with 15.3% of the market

Taken together, that’s 49.7% of the market. Astonishing.

Reed Albergotti, Washington Post:

Inside Apple, your job classification can mean a lot. The difference between a “level 4″ engineer and a “level 5,” for instance, could mean a difference of hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation. And those titles help determine how much Apple employees can make when they leave the company for another job.

And:

In widely used databases that companies refer to for verification of job information, Apple changes the job title for every employee, whether they’re a PhD in computer science or a product manager, to “associate,” the company confirms.

And:

The practice recently came to light when Cher Scarlett, a former Apple software engineer who raised concerns about alleged discrimination and misconduct at the company, filed a complaint to the Securities and Exchange Commission, alleging that when Apple changed her job title to “associate,” it delayed the hiring process at a prospective employer by nearly a week, during which time the company rescinded the offer.

This is a long-standing practice for Apple, but it seems obvious that this can be an issue for folks who leave Apple and list a specific job title on their resume. What’s the harm to Apple if they change someone’s title to, say, “Former Level 4 Engineer” or some such? And what’s the benefit to Apple in changing someone’s title to “Associate”?

February 9, 2022

From OS X Daily. Follow the headline link for a detailed walkthrough.

In a nutshell, go to Terminal and enter:

defaults write com.apple.dock static-only -bool true; killall Dock

To return to normal:

defaults write com.apple.dock static-only -bool false; killall Dock

This has been around a long time, but I’ve never encountered anyone using it. Would love an option to put all running apps in its own section of the dock, as is done with recently used applications. There a setting for that?

Lightyear

Fantastic trailer for Pixar’s “Lightyear”. Was expecting a Toy Story look and feel. Very different than that. It’s about the fictional astronaut who inspired the Buzz Lightyear toy.

Also, Buzz is voiced by Captain America, Chris Evans. Coming June 17th.

If you use Zoom on your Mac, this is a bit of a must read. Great list of shortcuts.

For me, the most important one is Shift-Command-A, to mute/unmute your audio.

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.

February 8, 2022

Apple:

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.

And:

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

And:

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.

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 follows up The Perfect Apple TV+ Ad with another Jon Hamm spot

If you’ve not seen that great Jon Hamm commercial from last week, take a look.

With that as context, here’s a follow up ad, called “Everyone but Jon Hamm — Billboard”.

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.

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.

And:

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

And:

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.

February 7, 2022

The Dalrymple Report: Face ID, Wordle, Apple Wallet

This week, Dave and I talk about the advances Apple has made with Face ID, especially around the pandemic and wearing a mask. We also talk about Wordle and how it has become so popular and then being sold to The New York Times. The World Trade Center is replacing office keys with Apple Wallet and Dave gives us a few shows and movies that he’s watching.

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