August 26, 2021

Philip Elmer-DeWitt, quoting an analyst note:

We now estimate that Google’s payments to AAPL to be the default search engine on iOS were ~$10B in FY 20.

And:

We now forecast that Google’s payments to Apple might be nearly $15B in FY 21.

And this, full of juicy tidbits:

We see two potential risks to GOOG’s payments to AAPL: (1) regulatory risk, which we believe is real, but likely years away; we see a potential 4-5% impact to Apple’s gross profits from an adverse ruling; & (2) that Google chooses to stop paying Apple to be the default search engine altogether, or looks to renegotiate terms and pay less. We have noted in prior research that GOOG is likely paying to ensure Microsoft doesn’t outbid it. That said, with payments likely to approach $18 – $20B in FY 22, it not implausible that Google could revisit its strategy.

Imagine Microsoft becoming the default Apple search engine. That would be an odd experience. And might antitrust regulators have some say in this? I’d imagine there’d be a lot of lobbying on all sides if that issue heated up.

August 25, 2021

Follow the headline link for video of a pair of AirPods dangling securely to the front of someone’s MacBook screen.

I tried this myself, with AirPods Pro on my M1 MacBook Air, though I think my magnet placement was different.

Wondering if there will come a day when your screen is used like MagSafe to charge your AirPods sans case. Seems like Apple had a patent a while back that let the closed Mac act as a wireless charger.

If you’ve not seen one of these little cuties, take a jump over to the Playdate front page and take a look.

Some gorgeous design (thanks to the folks at Teenage Engineering), in a fun yellow package.

If this whet your appetite, follow the headline link to the teardown. This looks pretty easy to take apart, which makes me think it’ll be easy to fix myself, and possible for folks to modify.

Check out the warranty sticker inside the unit. Props for not using scare tactics. Breaking voids the warranty. Opening does not.

Mark Savage, BBC:

Spencer Elden, the man who was photographed as a baby on the album cover for Nirvana’s Nevermind, is suing the band alleging sexual exploitation.

The cover depicts Elden as a four-month-old in a swimming pool, grasping for a dollar bill that’s being dangled in front of him on a fishing line.

Now 30, Elden says his parents never signed a release authorising the use of his image on the album. He also alleges the nude image constitutes child pornography.

A lot to unpack here but, at its core, lies the issue of parents never signing a release for the photo. I find that incredibly hard to believe.

From this backgrounder on the photo shoot:

Unable to find a stock shot of a submarine tyke, Fisher hired underwater-photo specialist Weddle, who donned a wet suit and set up a studio (complete with lights and waterproof cameras) in an Olympic-size swimming pool in Los Angeles last May. Spencer wasn’t the lone stunt baby: Weddle cast four other infants as well. “You need that many kids,” he says, “because you can’t count on a baby to do anything you want.”

And:

Later, the fishhook was stripped into the photo at Cobain’s direction.

And:

For his skinny-dipping adventure, Spencer was paid $250 (standard hourly rate for a no-name model) and was later presented with a triple-platinum album by Ed Rosenblatt, president of Geffen Records.

Sounds like his parents cashed the check.

Seattle Times [H/T Rob Devlin]:

A passenger’s cellphone caught on fire inside the cabin of an Alaska Airlines flight from New Orleans to Seattle that had landed at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport Monday evening.

It was a Samsung Galaxy A21, according to Perry Cooper, a spokesman for the Port of Seattle.

And:

“After much digging, I can tell you that the phone was burned beyond recognition”

How does this sort of thing happen?

From this How-To Geek explainer:

Lithium-ion batteries contain a ton of Li-ion cells. Each of these cells has a critical temperature—think of it as a boiling point. When the critical temperature of a cell is reached (due to external heat, overcharging, damage, or poor manufacturing), it enters an exothermic breakdown. Basically, the cell itself starts to release a ton of heat.

One sign of a potential problem is a swollen battery. If you spot signs of a swollen battery, follow up. If it’s an old, Mac, for example, back it up, then take it to the Apple Store.

Thinus Ferreira, TeeVeeTee (via the excellent Overspill blog):

Samsung South Africa has announced that it has activated a TV Block Function on all Samsung TV sets stolen during the looting, violence and unrest in parts of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng during July that saw TV sets stolen from Samsung warehouses.

And:

Samsung’s television block technology is already pre-loaded on all Samsung TV products and the company says that all sets taken unlawfully and stolen from Samsung warehouses are being blocked, rendering them useless.

And:

A TV blocking system has been activated on Samsung television sets stolen from its warehouse and the blocking comes into effect when the user of a stolen television connects to the internet, in order to operate the television.

Once connected, the serial number of the television is identified on the Samsung server and the blocking system is implemented, disabling all the television functions.

Similar to what Apple does with gear stolen from Apple Stores, though users of Apple gear have the ability to shut down their iPhones themselves.

Interesting that there appears to be a shift to require internet connection to verify the TVs, as opposed to purely if you want to access the app infrastructure (think the Apple TV or Roku apps). I have not given my TV my household WiFi password. Wondering if my next TV will require it.

Howard Oakley:

Over the last nine months, a great deal of work has gone into discovering just what is in Apple’s M1 chip, and what it all does. As Apple prepares to announce its successor in the next few weeks, I thought it might be worth surveying the work which has been accomplished so far, to establish the baseline for future Apple Silicon chips.

An interesting, link/detail filled walk through what we know and have inferred about the M1. Especially useful, sitting on the cusp of a rumored release of the next generation of M1.

August 24, 2021

Apple, from August 24th, 2011:

Apple’s Board of Directors today announced that Steve Jobs has resigned as Chief Executive Officer, and the Board has named Tim Cook, previously Apple’s Chief Operating Officer, as the company’s new CEO. Jobs has been elected Chairman of the Board and Cook will join the Board, effective immediately.

And:

“Steve’s extraordinary vision and leadership saved Apple and guided it to its position as the world’s most innovative and valuable technology company,” said Art Levinson, Chairman of Genentech, on behalf of Apple’s Board. “Steve has made countless contributions to Apple’s success, and he has attracted and inspired Apple’s immensely creative employees and world class executive team. In his new role as Chairman of the Board, Steve will continue to serve Apple with his unique insights, creativity and inspiration.”

Hard to believe it’s been ten years already. Sigh.

Sascha Segan, PCMag:

The global chipset shortage is hurting the supply of lower-cost Android phones in the US, a new report from Wave7 Research says, with US carrier stores reporting that Samsung and OnePlus are particularly hard hit.

“Sources have told Wave7 Research that Apple was able to lock down chipset supply well ahead of time. This was not the case for other OEMs,” says Jeff Moore, principal at Wave7.

And:

“iPhone share overall did not fall in July, as might be expected ahead of a September iPhone launch,” the report says. “Ongoing iPhone 12 resilience and issues with Samsung inventory were the top factors for this.”

Are there still a lot of fence-sitters out there, folks undecided between Android and iPhone? If so, the ability to get an iPhone without waiting, versus the uncertain wait time for a flagship Android phone might tip some folks into giving iPhone a try. Add to that the first time phone buyers, a new crop every year.

Juli Clover, MacRumors:

Apple appears to be expanding on the native Apple Maps review functionality that it first introduced in iOS 14, allowing ‌Apple Maps‌ users in the United States the option to review places of interest, restaurants, and other locations.

And:

In the ‌Apple Maps‌ app in ‌iOS 14‌ and iOS 15, U.S. users can now see an option to provide a thumbs up or thumbs down for most locations. Tapping on the thumbs up/down icon brings up a secondary interface for providing thumbs up and thumbs down ratings for various categories like products, customer service, food, atmosphere, and more, based on the location being reviewed.

Follow the headline link, check out the embedded images. You’ll see that “Rate” option on your Mac Maps app as well. You can also upload your own photos.

From the Maps interface:

Ratings and photos you share are linked to your Apple ID to ensure a safe experience. Maps usage outside of ratings and photos is not linked to your Apple ID.

And:

Your approximate location will be sent to Apple and used to confirm authenticity.

And:

Ratings & Photos does not share any of your personal information with third parties.

Is Apple going to replace Yelp? As is, there’s no way to submit written reviews, which I’d expect as an intermediary step before that treasure trove of Yelp reviews could be jettisoned.

Apple releases trailer for second season of “The Morning Show”

When Apple TV+ launched on November 1, 2019, The Morning Show was the big bet, got a ton of marketing push from Apple. Since then, we’ve seen a wide array of shows, including the first blockbuster hit, Ted Lasso.

The second season of The Morning Show, premiering September 17th (three weeks from Friday), will arrive in a different world. There’s the pandemic, of course, and a change of administrations. But this new season will not arrive as the unquestioned tentpole of Apple TV+. Apple TV+ is now a somewhat crowded space, the competition for eyeballs is now stiffer.

All that said, the trailer below does make the new season look every bit as compelling as the first season. Take a look.

David Becker, Appleosophy:

If you’re a California resident, you now have an easy way to put your vaccine record into the Wallet app on your iPhone.

Here’s the process:

According to the web page:

This tool operates entirely on your device— your health information is never transmitted to any server.

Details from the SMART Health QR Code are cryptographically verified by the California Department of Public Health to prevent forgery.

Most importantly:

This tool is not affiliated with Apple nor the California Department of Public Health nor the US Centers for Disease Control.

That last gives me pause, mostly about privacy. Can I trust that this app truly keeps my info on my iPhone, that it doesn’t somehow harvest my vaccine info?

Would love to have a comment from Apple on this, or have an official “add vaccine card to Wallet” mechanism added to Wallet.

And here’s the answer, courtesy Mark Malone:

Adding these verified records into the Health app in the iOS 15 beta is as easy as pointing the Camera app at the QR code then tapping the add to Health button.

My vaccine card does not have such a QR code, so this is specific to California. Not sure the headline linked app is bad in any way, but why go there if you can just use your camera?

And John Buck shared this official set of Add your vaccine card to Apple Wallet instructions from the Australian Government.

August 23, 2021

New! BBEdit 14 is still the power tool for text and also offers a new Notes capability plus greatly expanded language support!

Mark Gurman, Power On:

Steve Jobs used to say that consumers don’t know what they want and trust Apple to make decisions for them.

And:

That way of thinking has helped make Apple one of the most successful companies ever, topping $2 trillion in market value and selling billions of iPhones, iPads, Macs, AirPods and Apple Watches. Those products wouldn’t be the hits they are today without Apple’s approach. But it has also created problems for the technology giant.

One major example:

It took Apple about four years and several lawsuits before it admitted and fixed serious problems with its “butterfly” keyboards introduced in 2015.

All this leads to the point raised in the headline:

For iOS 15’s release this year, Apple planned to make some of the biggest changes ever to the design of the Safari web browser on the iPhone. The fundamental shift: moving the address bar from the top of the screen to the bottom, erasing nearly 15 years of muscle memory.

This past week, after mounting complains from users, including by me in Power On, Apple reversed course, making the new design an option in the Settings app. With that change, Apple will offer users two distinct interfaces for a core app, a rarity in the iOS world.

Interesting take. Mark’s Power On newsletter is a consistently good read.

I can’t remember the last time Apple made such a dramatic interface change in response to feedback from the user base. Of course, this assumes that feedback from users, as opposed to internal design feedback, is what caused the change.

This is some fun back and forth between the @AppleTV twitter team, representing Ted Lasso, and the opposition, Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney, representing the Wrexham AFC soccer team (which they own in real life).

Follow the headline link, read the whole thing. The mildest of spoilers on the latest Ted Lasso episode, so be mildly warned.

Side note: Interesting to me that the twitter account is @AppleTV and not @AppleTVPlus. Both of these are real Twitter accounts, but the former has a much bigger following. Simpler, for sure, and everyone knows the intent. But part of what makes the Apple TV+ branding a bit confusing. No matter, good stuff, worth a look.

That’s a lot of cheddar. Worth it, no doubt.

The handwritten part:

Julian, Your generation is the first to grow up with computers. Go change the world! steven jobs, 1980

Interestingly, it was also signed by Apple’s angel investor and former CEO, Mike Markkula.

Who was Julian?

“Julian” was a teenager at the time, son of entrepreneur Mike Brewer who had negotiated exclusive distribution rights for Apple products in the UK and later became the first Managing Director of Apple Computer (UK) Ltd. Julian recalls, “I was sitting in my bedroom writing games on my Apple II when Dad called me down to meet some guests. To my amazement it was Steve Jobs and Mike Markkula. I had the manual with me and only later understood how rare it was for Jobs to sign anything, let alone to write an inscription like this. He got on well with Dad, so I feel the inscription was made with care.”

The winning bidder was Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay, who also bought David Gilmour’s black Strat back in January 2019.

Follow the headline link for a zoomable image and more background on this historic document.

Follow the headline link, scroll to explore various services. There’s the Apple Services ToS, down at the bottom.

Note the various grades. Only two “A” grades, one of them for Duck, Duck, Go.

If you’re on a desktop machine, hover over any of the terms for a tool-tip with more detail. Tap or click around to explore. An interesting project, started in 2012.

Related note: Here’s a link to Apple’s official Privacy Policy, last updated June 1st, 2021.

Back in July, I posted about a machine made by ASML, The most important machine in Apple’s universe.

From that post:

The complex machine is widely acknowledged as necessary for making the most advanced chips, an ability with geopolitical implications. The Trump administration successfully lobbied the Dutch government to block shipments of such a machine to China in 2019, and the Biden administration has shown no signs of reversing that stance.

ASML makes the chip lithography machine that TSMC uses to produce Apple Silicon.

The tweet embedded below starts a thread filled with data, images, and video on ASML and that oh, so vital machine. A fascinating read.

August 20, 2021

The Dalrymple Report: Apple score, CODA, and double agent

Dave is interested in how many devices you have listed in your iCloud account, something he dubbed as your Apple Score. We also talk about the Apple TV+ movie CODA, and Spatial Audio in Netflix. Finally, reports came out this week about a double agent feeding Apple information from a community that deals in stolen iPhones and other data.

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August 19, 2021

Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai, Motherboard:

For more than a year, an active member of a community that traded in illicitly obtained internal Apple documents and devices was also acting as an informant for the company.

Wow!

On Twitter and in Discord channels for the loosely defined Apple “internal” community that trades leaked information and stolen prototypes, he advertised leaked apps, manuals, and stolen devices for sale. But unbeknownst to other members in the community, he shared with Apple personal information of people who sold stolen iPhone prototypes from China, Apple employees who leaked information online, journalists who had relationships with leakers and sellers, and anything that he thought the company would find interesting and worth investigating.

This is a riveting read, a look inside Apple’s efforts at preventing leaks, figuring out who is doing what leaking, and how they are getting their information. A riveting read.

There’s a movie in this!

Apple:

Seventeen-year-old Ruby (Emilia Jones) is the sole hearing member of a deaf family – a CODA, child of deaf adults. Her life revolves around acting as interpreter for her parents (Marlee Matlin, Troy Kotsur) and working on the family’s struggling fishing boat every day before school with her father and older brother (Daniel Durant). But when Ruby joins her high school’s choir club, she discovers a gift for singing and soon finds herself drawn to her duet partner Miles (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo). Encouraged by her enthusiastic, tough-love choirmaster (Eugenio Derbez) to apply to a prestigious music school, Ruby finds herself torn between the obligations she feels to her family and the pursuit of her own dreams.

The writeup above does a solid job setting up the plot for this new Apple TV+ movie. But the devil is in the details, and those details delivered. If emotional family drama is your bag, take a look at both videos embedded below. Or just head over to Apple TV and start watching.

The writing was tight, the performances, well, extraordinary. Top notch cast, led by Best Actor Oscar winner Marlee Matlin. For me, right up there with Ted Lasso for escapist, feel-good viewing.

CNBC:

Macy’s is joining forces with the owner of Toys R Us to bring an assortment of toys, games and other gadgets for kids to more than 400 of the department store chain’s locations and online.

The Toys R Us shop-in-shops in Macy’s will roll out next year, the companies announced Thursday.

Are you a Toys “R” Us kid? Did you ever go to Toys “R” Us to buy Lego sets, video games, or a new bike?

Glad to see this brand survive, even if only for nostalgia’s sake. Strikes me as good for Macy’s, a way to keep their stores relevant, or at least make better use of their space, adding a draw for parents and kids.

Chance Miller, 9to5Mac:

Netflix has confirmed that it is now rolling out Spatial Audio support to its iPhone and iPad applications. This enables an immersive experience using directional audio filters, and it has been a long time coming to Netflix users.

If you’ve not played with Spatial Audio, you’ll need AirPods Pro or AirPods Max. If you’ve got one or the other, connect them, then head to Settings > Bluetooth and tap the info button (the “i” in a circle) and scroll down.

In iOS 14, there’s a toggle to turn Spatial Audio on, with a link to try it out. In iOS 15, it’s slightly different, just a button to take you to the experience.

As far as the Netflix interface goes, it seems like it is still rolling out. Not clear to me how you can tell what shows support it or how you can tell if it is currently enabled, other than the obvious change in your ears.

This is a cool addition. I’m definitely looking forward to having this experience throughout the ecosystem, on my iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV. Wondering when other apps will join the party.

Apple press release:

Apple Card, created by Apple, is the only card issued by Goldman Sachs, which ranked highest among the Midsize Credit Card segment in the J.D. Power 2021 U.S. Credit Card Satisfaction Study and received a chart-topping score of 864. Apple Card and issuer Goldman Sachs also ranked highest in the Midsize Credit Card segment across all of the surveyed categories, including interaction, credit card terms, communication, benefits and services, rewards, and key moments.

And here’s the link to the original J.D. Power study. That second chunk of bar chart data, all the way at the bottom, shows the results. As Apple points out, Apple Card is the only card issued by Goldman Sachs, so that top position is Apple’s.

I’ve used Apple Card since day one and have to say, it’s been a real pleasure to use.

August 18, 2021

Follow the headline link, check that first image, showing the two new options for the Safari address bar in the latest iOS 15 beta.

Personally, I think both of these approaches are head and shoulders better than what we had before. I love that Apple listened to all the beta tester grumbling/feedback.

Still waiting for my iPad to find the beta 6 update to see what changes look like there. I’m hopeful we’ll see a similar redesign on iPadOS 15.

This is an incredible list, filled with tiny details, many of low discoverability. Even the most powerful of power users are sure to find a tip or two that are new to them. Perfect to pass along to folks who are new to iOS and who love digging in to the details.

Ben Feuerherd, New York Post:

A New York robbery crew that targeted drug runners hit the jackpot late last year, netting $500,000 in cash after tracking a targeted criminal’s car — with a hidden Apple Watch, new court documents show.

The seven-person crew based in the Hudson Valley pulled off the major score in January 2020 after their alleged leader, 30-year-old Darren Lindsay, bought an Apple Watch and linked it to his AT&T account.

And:

The thieves put the watch underneath the bumper of a car that belonged to a drug-runner they suspected was flush with cash, the documents say.

The suspects then tailed their mark, who was not identified, from Orange County to a hotel parking lot in Hartford, Conn., the feds said.

This is eerily similar to this story, where an iPhone was used as a tracking device.

Shaking my head.

Juli Clover, MacRumors:

Apple’s next Apple Watch Activity Challenge is set to take place on Saturday, August 28th, in celebration of national parks worldwide.

Apple:

Let’s take a day to appreciate the beauty of national parks all over the world. On August 28, earn this award by recording a hike, walk, run, or wheelchair workout of a mile (1.6K) or more with any app that adds workouts to Health.

Added this to my calendar.

August 17, 2021

From the PairPlay app home page:

PairPlay transforms your AirPods into a two-player adventure! You and your partner split the AirPods (one takes the left, one takes the right) and you hear OPPOSITE sides of the same story.

To get a sense of this at work, watch the video embedded below.

This is but a taste of what’s possible here. What strikes me is the power of that immersive audio, like the radio shows back in the days before TV came to dominate. This audio augmented reality unleashes the power of your imagination.

For game players working remotely, imagine a dungeon crawler that used separate audio tracks, customized for each player, that allowed fully remote collaboration to solve puzzles and make your way through the game.

As is, PairPlay seems like a lot of fun, especially if you’ve got kids.

Tim Hardwick, MacRumors:

Once ‌FaceTime‌ screen sharing has started, you can navigate to any app that you want to share with the callers. A sharing icon will remain in the top-left corner of the screen to indicate that ‌FaceTime‌ screen sharing is active, and you can tap it to reveal the ‌FaceTime‌ control panel.

Another delightful nugget coming with iOS 15, especially useful for folks who are tech support for their families.