The Daring Fireball Linked List

Samsung Heir Faces Arrest on Charges of Bribing South Korea’s President 

Choe Sang-Hun, reporting for the NYT:

The sprawling investigation into President Park Geun-hye of South Korea took a dramatic turn on Monday with word that prosecutors were seeking the arrest of the de facto head of Samsung, one of the world’s largest conglomerates, on charges that he bribed the president and her secretive confidante. […]

Mr. Lee is accused of instructing Samsung subsidiaries to make payments totaling 43 billion won ($36 million) to the family of Ms. Park’s confidante, Choi Soon-sil, and to two foundations that Ms. Choi controlled, in exchange for help from Ms. Park in facilitating a father-to-son transfer of ownership control of Samsung.

Shocking that something like this would happen to a company as morally scrupulous as Samsung. Shocking.

Apple Insider: ‘Safari Not Able to Play New 4K Videos From YouTube Homepage, Likely Due to VP9 Shift’ 

Mike Wuerthele, reporting for Apple Insider:

What appears to be Google’s shift to the VP9 codec for delivering 4K video on the YouTube homepage is preventing Safari users from watching videos uploaded to the service since early December in full 4K resolution, but not from viewing webpage-embedded videos in the same resolution.

The shift appears to have taken place on Dec. 6, according to a Reddit thread delving into the issue. Google has been pushing the open and royalty-free VP9 codec as an alternative to the paid H.265 spec since 2014, but has never said that it would stop offering 4K video on the YouTube site in other formats, like the Apple-preferred H.264.

I’m curious what Google’s thinking is here. My guess: a subtle nudge to get more Mac users to switch from Safari to Chrome. 4K playback is going to require H.264 support if they want it to work on iOS, though.

Android’s Emoji Problem 

One practical side-effect of the fact that the overwhelming majority of Android phones are running old versions of the OS: they don’t have the latest emoji.

The Unsung iPhone Sine Qua Non 

Jean-Louis Gassée:

In retrospect, the ascendency of Smartphone 2.0 and the way it has shaped our culture seems obvious and natural. But the celebration and contemplation overlooks a crucial Sine Qua Non, a necessary (but not sufficient) condition: Unlocking the carriers’ grip on handset specifications, marketing, and content distribution.

More specifically, we owe Steve Jobs an enormous debt of gratitude for breaking the carriers’ backs (to avoid a more colorful phrase).

It wasn’t enough that it was revolutionary in both hardware and software. Apple needed something no major handset maker had ever gotten before, or has gotten since: total control.

A Russian Journalist on What to Expect Under Trump 

Russian journalist Alexey Kovalev, in the wake of Trump’s farcical press conference last week:

Given that Putin is probably a role model for Trump, it’s no surprise that he’s apparently taking a page from Putin’s playbook. I have some observations to share with my American colleagues. You’re in this for at least another four years, and you’ll be dealing with things Russian journalists have endured for almost two decades now. I’m talking about Putin here, but see if you can apply any of the below to your own leader.

Facts don’t matter. You can’t hurt this man with facts or reason. He’ll always outmaneuver you. He’ll always wriggle out of whatever carefully crafted verbal trap you lay for him. Whatever he says, you won’t be able to challenge him. He always comes with a bag of meaningless factoids (Putin likes to drown questions he doesn’t like in dull, unverifiable stats, figures and percentages), platitudes, false moral equivalences and straight, undiluted bullshit. He knows it’s a one-way communication, not an interview. You can’t follow up on your questions or challenge him. So he can throw whatever he wants at you in response, and you’ll just have to swallow it. Some journalists will try to preempt this by asking two questions at once, against the protests of their colleagues also vying for attention, but that also won’t work: he’ll answer the one he thinks is easier, and ignore the other.

Josh Marshall responds:

Trump wants to bully the press and profit off the presidency. He’s told us this clearly in his own words. We need to accept the reality of both. The press should cover him on that basis, as a coward and a crook. The big corporate media organizations may not be able to use those words, I understand, but they should employ that prism. The truth is that his threats against the press to date are ones it is best to laugh at. If Trump should take some un- or extra-constitutional actions, we will deal with that when it happens. I doubt he will or can. But I won’t obsess about it in advance. Journalists should be unbowed and aggressive and with a sense of humor until something happens to prevent them from doing so. Trump is a punk and a bully. People who don’t surrender up their dignity to him unhinge him.

Apple in 2016: The Six Colors Report Card 

Jason Snell:

As we close the door on 2016, I thought it would be useful to look back at the year gone by and ask a panel of my peers who pay attention to Apple and related markets to take a moment and reflect on Apple’s performance in the past year.

This survey is such a valuable service. The consensus scores feel like a very accurate assessment of Apple’s year.

Q1 DF RSS Feed Sponsorships 

The Q1 sponsorship schedule is pretty open, including a last-minute opening for this coming week. If you’ve got a product or service to promote to DF’s discerning audience, get in touch.

Bloomberg on Andy Rubin’s New Company, Essential 

Mark Gurman and Mark Bergen, reporting for Bloomberg:

Rubin, creator of the Android operating system, is planning to marry his background in software with artificial intelligence in a risky business: consumer hardware. Armed with about a 40-person team, filled with recruits from Apple Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Rubin is preparing to announce a new company called Essential and serve as its Chief Executive Officer, according to people familiar with the matter. […]

While still in the prototyping stage, Rubin’s phone is aimed at the top of the market where Apple Inc.’s iPhone and Alphabet Inc.’s new Pixel reside. It’s expected to include high-end materials and the ability to gain new hardware features over time, the people said. Representatives for Rubin and Sprint declined to comment.

The problem with any sort of modular design where the goal is to “gain new hardware features over time” is that the most important hardware components in a phone are the display, camera, CPU, and GPU, and Apple updates the iPhone with industry-leading displays, cameras, CPUs, and GPUs every year.

At least one prototype of Rubin’s phone boasts a screen larger than the iPhone 7 Plus’s (5.5-inches) but has a smaller overall footprint because of the lack of bezels, one of the people said. The startup is experimenting with enabling the phone’s screen to sense different levels of pressure, similar to an iPhone, the person said. Rubin’s team is testing an industrial design with metal edges and a back made of ceramic, which is more difficult to manufacture than typical smartphone materials, two of the people said. […]

Rubin is aiming to put the phone on sale around the middle of this year for a price close to that of an iPhone 7 ($649), a person familiar with the matter said, adding that all of the plans are still in flux.

If it’s in the prototyping stage right now, in January, and they don’t know what materials they’re going to use or what size the display will be, what chance do they possibly have of putting a phone on sale in the “middle of this year”?

Also, no word on what OS they’re using. I’m guessing Android with customizations, but it’s curious the story doesn’t say.

Speedtest Desktop Apps for Mac and Windows 

My thanks to Ookla for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote their new native apps for Mac and Windows. I’ve been using their speedtest.net web service since forever to diagnose network problems and measure performance. They’ve had a native app for iOS for years, and it’s great too.

Now they have native desktop apps. Very simple, very obvious, and beautifully designed. Try them out today by downloading the Speedtest app from the Windows or Mac App Stores — free of charge. That’s it — excellent new native apps for network speed testing, totally free.

U.S. Appeals Court Allows Group to Sue Apple Over App Store ‘Monopoly’ 

Stephen Nellis and Dan Levine, reporting for Reuters:

iPhone app purchasers may sue Apple Inc over allegations that the company monopolized the market for iPhone apps by not allowing users to purchase them outside the App Store, leading to higher prices, a U.S. appeals court ruled on Thursday.

That sound you hear is thousands of indie iOS developers laughing at the notion of the App Store leading to “higher prices”.

Apple had argued that users did not have standing to sue it because they purchased apps from developers, with Apple simply renting out space to those developers. Developers pay a cut of their revenues to Apple in exchange for the right to sell in the App Store.

A lower court sided with Apple, but Judge William A. Fletcher ruled that iPhone users purchase apps directly from Apple, which gives iPhone users the right to bring a legal challenge against Apple. […]

The courts have yet to address the substance of the iPhone users’ allegations; up this point, the wrangling has been over whether they have the right to sue Apple in the first place.

I think it’s fair to say that users buy apps from Apple, not from the developers, so the fact that they can sue Apple strikes me as the correct ruling. But I don’t see how Apple can be ruled to have a “monopoly” — everyone knows Android phones comprise a majority of the market. It’s fair to object to Apple’s tight control over iOS, but you can’t fairly call it a “monopoly”.

PodSearch 

David Smith:

I have a knack for remembering audio. I’m awful at remembering names and faces, but if I hear something I can often recall it later. This has manifested itself as a bit of a party trick for the podcasts I listen to, where I can quickly find the section of a show where a topic was discussed even years after I heard it. Fun, but not particularly useful.

This situation gave me the idea for a little side project, PodSearch, empowering the same quick podcast recall for anyone. The concept was simple. Take a few of my favorite podcasts and run them through automated speech-to-text and make the result searchable.

This is really amazing. I really ought to pay to get true transcripts for The Talk Show (including the back catalog of episodes), but this is a pretty good way to search my show for keywords.

Chris Lattner on Ted Kremenek 

Chris Lattner on Ted Kremenek, his replacement as project lead on Apple’s Swift team:

One thing that I don’t think is fully appreciated by the community: Ted has been one of the quiet but incredible masterminds behind Swift (and Clang, and the Clang Static Analyzer) for many years. His approach and modesty has led many to misunderstand the fact that he has actually been running the Swift team for quite some time (misattributing it to me). While I’m super happy to continue to participate in the ongoing evolution and design of Swift, I’m clearly outmatched by the members of the Apple Swift team, and by Ted’s leadership of the team. This is the time for me to graciously hand things over to folks who are far more qualified than me. Swift has an incredible future ahead of it, and I’m really thrilled to be small part of the force that helps guide its direction going forward.

Consumer Reports Now Recommends MacBook Pros 

Consumer Reports:

New Apple software fixes a battery issue found in CR tests. The software, now in beta, will be part of a broad update soon.

This makes it sound like CR found a problem with the batteries. They didn’t. They found a bug in a Safari developer mode. It’s a real bug, but it’s clear now that it didn’t justify the initial sensational “Wow, first ever Apple laptop not recommended by Consumer Reports!” report. There’s no way they would’ve published that rushed initial report for a laptop from any brand other than Apple. Clickbait, pure and simple.

‘This Is Why You Don’t Kiss the Ring’ 

Good piece by Hamilton Nolan, writing for The Concourse, on Trump’s press conference yesterday, which had the tone and substance of a professional wrestling promotion:

These things are not normal. These things are not okay. These are actions that flout well-established ethical and civil norms. Admittedly, there is something thrilling about watching him do this. What will he do next? It always keeps us tuning in, in the same way that a violent alcoholic father will always keep his children on his toes. But we should not fool ourselves about what is happening in front of our eyes. We are all coming to realize that our civil society institutions may not be strong enough to protect the flawed but fundamentally solid democracy that we thought we had. We are witnessing the rise to power of a leader who does not care about norms. Since these norms were created to prevent political, social, economic, and cultural disasters, we do not need to wonder how this will end. It will end poorly.

Matthew Yglesias: ‘Beyond Wild Allegations, What’s Clearly True About Trump and Russia Is Disturbing’ 

Matthew Yglesias, writing for Vox:

Allegations now floating around range from the salacious (Russia has Trump sex tapes made at the Ritz-Carlton in Moscow) to the serious (using intermediaries, Trump and Russia agreed to an explicit quid pro quo in which Russia would give him electoral help and in exchange he would shift US foreign policy). None of this is proven, and much of it is unprovable (if the FSB has a secret sex tape, how are we going to find it?) but the truth is that these kind of allegations, though difficult to resist, simply shouldn’t matter much compared to what’s in the public record.

Maureen Dowd Interviews Peter Thiel 

Maureen Dowd:

He recalls a story from his and Mr. Musk’s PayPal days, when Mr. Musk joined the engineering team’s poker game and bet everything on every hand, admitting only afterward that it was his first time playing poker. Then there was the time they were driving in Mr. Musk’s McLaren F1 car, “the fastest car in the world.” It hit an embankment, achieved liftoff, made a 360-degree horizontal turn, crashed and was destroyed.

“It was a miracle neither of us were hurt,” Mr. Thiel says. “I wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, which is not advisable. Elon’s first comment was, ‘Wow, Peter, that was really intense.’ And then it was: ‘You know, I had read all these stories about people who made money and bought sports cars and crashed them. But I knew it would never happen to me, so I didn’t get any insurance.’ And then we hitchhiked the rest of the way to the meeting.”

Peter Thiel may well be smart, but he’s also dangerously foolish and solipsistic. You have to be a reckless fool to be that smart and get into any car without wearing a seatbelt, let alone a McLaren being driven by a daredevil like Musk.

On whether Thiel is concerned about Trump’s upcoming nominee (singular, I hope) for the Supreme Court:

“I don’t think these things will particularly change. It’s like, even if you appointed a whole series of conservative Supreme Court justices, I’m not sure that Roe v. Wade would get overturned, ever. I don’t know if people even care about the Supreme Court.”

Like I said: Peter Thiel may well be smart, but he’s also dangerously foolish and solipsistic.

The Math Behind a Theoretical 10.5-inch iPad 

Dan Provost:

The math works out perfectly. This new 10.5” iPad would have the exact same resolution as the 12.9” iPad Pro (2732 × 2048), but the same pixel density of the iPad mini (326 ppi instead of 264 ppi). Crunch the numbers, do a little Pythagorean Theorem, and you end up with a screen 10.5” diagonal (10.47” to be precise, but none of Apple’s stated screen sizes are exact). In terms of physcial dimensions, the width of this 10.5” screen would be exactly the same as the height of the iPad mini screen.

Can’t believe I didn’t think to do this again regarding this rumor. The math works out.

WSJ: ‘Apple Sets Its Sights on Hollywood With Plans for Original Content’ 

Ben Fritz, Tripp Mickle, and Hannah Karp, reporting for the WSJ:

Apple Inc. is planning to build a significant new business in original television shows and movies, according to people familiar with the matter, a move that could make it a bigger player in Hollywood and offset slowing sales of iPhones and iPads.

These people said the programming would be available to subscribers of Apple’s $10-a-month streaming-music service, which has struggled to catch up to the larger Spotify AB. Apple Music already includes a limited number of documentary-style segments on musicians, but nothing like the premium programming it is now seeking.

Interesting, but I don’t get why they’re framing this in the context of “offset[ting] slowing sales of iPhones and iPads”. I think Apple would be pursuing the exact same original content course regardless of whether iPhone and iPad sales were booming, stagnant, or falling. It’s just the obvious thing to do.

App Extensions Are Not a Replacement for User Automation 

Sal Soghoian, writing for MacStories (there’s a byline I never expected to write — it’s going to take a while to get used to Sal as a civilian):

Here’s a thought experiment. Let’s imagine that Apple decided to combine their engineering resources to form app teams that delivered both iOS and macOS versions of applications.

In such a scenario it may seem logical to retain application features common to both platforms and to remove those that were perceived to require extra resources. Certainly Automation would be something examined in that regard, and the idea might be posited that: “App Extensions are equivalent to, or could be a replacement for, User Automation in macOS.” And by User Automation, I’m referring to Apple Event scripting, Automator, Services, the UNIX command line utilities, etc.

Let’s examine the validity of that conjecture, beginning with overviews of App Extensions and User Automation.

It’s a great article, and I think Sal’s case is very strong. App extensions are great, but they’re no replacement for automation. His conclusion:

But let’s take a step back, and think about this topic differently. Why not have both?

Perhaps it is time for Apple and all of us to think of User Automation and App Extensions in terms of “AND” instead of “OR.” To embrace the development of a new cross-platform automation architecture, maybe called “AutomationKit,” that would incorporate the “everyman openness” of User Automation with the focused abilities of developer-created plugins. App Extensions could become the new macOS System Services, and Automator could save workflows as Extensions with access to the Share Menu and new “non-selection” extension points. And AutomationKit could even include an Apple Event bridge so that it would work with the existing macOS automation tools.

Must-read piece for anyone who cares about the Mac as a power user platform. I’m OK with the current situation, where the Mac has these automation capabilities and iOS does not. I’d prefer to see iOS gain serious automation capabilities — even if it’s an altogether new technology. But I’m dreadfully afraid of a future where MacOS is devolved to iOS’s state, with no supported automation technologies.

Chris Lattner Lands at Tesla 

Tesla:

We would like to welcome Chris Lattner, who will join Tesla as our Vice President of Autopilot Software. Chris’ reputation for engineering excellence is well known. He comes to Tesla after 11 years at Apple where he was primarily responsible for creating Swift, the programming language for building apps on Apple platforms and one of the fastest growing languages for doing so on Linux.

This is a “holy shit!” hiring by Tesla. A year or two ago it felt like Apple was gunning for Tesla’s lead in electric cars. Now, it feels like Apple is out of the car game, and Tesla is gunning for Apple’s lead in computing. You can’t overstate what a star Chris Lattner is.

Update: Lattner’s only public comment to date is retweeting this observation by Daniel Jalkut:

I hope folks will not overlook that amid all the drama of @clattner_llvm leaving Apple, @tkremenek remains a huge asset for them.

Apple Statement on Consumer Reports’ MacBook Pro Battery Testing 

From a statement Apple sent to TechCrunch:

We appreciate the opportunity to work with Consumer Reports over the holidays to understand their battery test results. We learned that when testing battery life on Mac notebooks, Consumer Reports uses a hidden Safari setting for developing web sites which turns off the browser cache. This is not a setting used by customers and does not reflect real-world usage. Their use of this developer setting also triggered an obscure and intermittent bug reloading icons which created inconsistent results in their lab. After we asked Consumer Reports to run the same test using normal user settings, they told us their MacBook Pro systems consistently delivered the expected battery life. We have also fixed the bug uncovered in this test.

So there’s a bug in Safari when you disable the cache (Develop: Disable Caches — and the entire Develop menu is off by default). Disabling the cache should decrease battery life in a test like CR’s. And if there’s a bug, I can see why it might dramatically decrease battery life. But that still doesn’t explain how Consumer Reports’s testing showed results ranging from 3.75 hours (poor) to 19.5 hours (seemingly too good to be true).

I still think something was/is wrong with Consumer Reports’s testing (19.5 hours?) but I don’t think it’s fair to say that disabling the caches is unfair or a flawed method. And while the preference setting is obscure, I wouldn’t call it “hidden”. To me, hidden preferences are the ones you can only enable from calls to defaults in Terminal. You can turn the Develop menu on by clicking a visible checkbox in the “Advanced” tab of Safari’s preferences.

Chris Lattner Is Leaving Apple 

Chris Lattner, in an email on the Swift Evolution mailing list:

I’m happy to announce that Ted Kremenek will be taking over for me as “Project Lead” for the Swift project, managing the administrative and leadership responsibility for Swift.org. This recognizes the incredible effort he has already been putting into the project, and reflects a decision I’ve made to leave Apple later this month to pursue an opportunity in another space. This decision wasn’t made lightly, and I want you all to know that I’m still completely committed to Swift. I plan to remain an active member of the Swift Core Team, as well as a contributor to the swift-evolution mailing list.

Sounds like an orderly, no-drama (and perhaps long-planned?) transition. Sure am curious what his “opportunity in another space” is, though.

Lattner is a really smart, very well-liked, and deeply respected guy. His leaving is a loss for Apple.

Swift really is Lattner’s baby — he developed the earliest versions of it by himself starting in 2010, before work expanded to a larger group in Apple’s Developer Tools group. (Swift wasn’t announced publicly until June 2014.) The Apple developer community is still in the middle of the transition to Swift. I’m a little surprised he’d leave in the midst of the upheaval. It’s a thriving language, but it is far from a completed project — neither the language itself nor the OS frameworks.

The Talk Show: ‘Now Banned in China’ 

Jim Dalrymple returns to the show for the first episode of 2017. Topics include New Year’s Eve, Siri/Alexa/Google Assistant, Apple’s aging AirPort and Mac Pro lineups, the future of desktop Macs, Apple Watch battery life, and rumors of upcoming new iPads.

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Yahoo Leftovers Will Be Called Altaba, Marissa Mayer Will Not Be on Board 

10 years ago, Yahoo was important enough to get its own on-stage segment during the iPhone announcement.

Merlin Mann Interviewing Jason Snell and Yours Truly From Macworld Expo 2007 

Five minute interview wherein Jason Snell very closely predicts the App Store. That whole Expo was so damn exciting. It’s an overused phrase, but that iPhone debut was an instance where it really did feel like we’d been given a very clear glimpse of the future.

Merlin’s audio for the file was hosted at Odeo (remember them?), but Jason has a copy hosted at The Incomparable.

The Thing About Trucks 

Rob Rhyne:

While Brooks and others are arguing that iPad will eventually replace the Mac, Gruber is arguing there will always be a need for macOS — specifically a desktop operating system. Despite what my aforementioned dalliance with iPad might suggest, I’m firmly in Gruber’s camp.

Here’s the thought experiment, which I used to inform my opinion: If you could take only one device with you, which one would you take? Ben Brooks or Federico Viticci would almost certainly choose an iPad.

However, I’d take a Mac. Exactly the 11-inch MacBook Air, which I’m using to write this article.

If I could only use one device, it’d be a 13-inch MacBook Pro. I bet a lot of people would pick an iPhone, though.

The Ten Year Anniversary of the Apple TV 

Ben Thompson:

There is, though, one more lesson, and that comes from the Apple TV: none of us ultimately know anything, including the late Steve Jobs. There’s no question that Jobs knew that Apple was on to something — he said so in the keynote, when he analogized the iPhone to the Mac and iPod. And yet, had he truly known that the iPhone would be exponentially more consequential than either, the Apple TV would have not made an appearance.

The truth is that dents in the universe are only observable after they have occurred; this is why their continued creation is best induced by the establishment of conditions in which risk-taking and experimentation are rewarded. The temptation is to adopt the mistaken mindset that all there is to be invented — and, more pertinently, to be adopted — already exists.

I like Apple TV a lot, and use it for just about all my TV watching other than sports, but it’s been a very different 10 years for Apple TV than it’s been for the iPhone.

Daring Fireball Live at Macworld Expo 2007 

Here’s a fun bit of history. Macworld magazine used to have a stage on the Macworld Expo show floor, and in 2007 I hosted a “Daring Fireball Live” show, with Panic cofounder Cabel Sasser as my guest. We went on stage at the end of the day on Tuesday, the day of the iPhone keynote. We weren’t even sure yet whether or not there was going to be an SDK for native apps.

This was so long ago, it was six months before the first run of The Talk Show started.

Update: Photo, courtesy Patrick Gibson.

How the World Reacted to the First iPhone 10 Years Ago 

The Telegraph has assembled a fine collection of vintage original iPhone claim chowder, including this gem from John Dvorak:

Now compare that effort and overlay the mobile handset business. This is not an emerging business. In fact it’s gone so far that it’s in the process of consolidation with probably two players dominating everything, Nokia and Motorola. […]

The problem here is that while Apple can play the fashion game as well as any company, there is no evidence that it can play it fast enough. These phones go in and out of style so fast that unless Apple has half a dozen variants in the pipeline, its phone, even if immediately successful, will be passé within 3 months.

There is no likelihood that Apple can be successful in a business this competitive.

Phil Schiller on the Original iPhone’s Launch 

Steven Levy, interviewing Phil Schiller on the tenth anniversary of the iPhone’s introduction:

Schiller also cast light on why the iPhone shipped as a closed system. During the gestation period of the iPhone, Apple hosted a spirited internal debate. Some advocated that the device be an open system, like the Macintosh, and others advised a more closed system, like the iPod. The argument was put on hold when the engineers realized that even if the open-system adherents won the debate, it would be impossible to implement in time for the launch. Steve Jobs shut down the discussion, Schiller recalls. “He said ‘We don’t have to keep debating this because we can’t have [an open system] right now. Maybe we’ll change our mind afterwards, or maybe we won’t, but for now there isn’t one so let’s envision this world where we solve the problem with great built-in apps and a way for developers to make web apps.”

A few thoughts:

  • iOS is now older than Mac OS X was at the time the iPhone was unveiled.
  • This was the cell phone in my pocket as I sat in Moscone West, watching the keynote.
  • I just took my original iPhone out of the closet and charged it up. It’s thick and heavy, but overall feels tiny. It’s sized like a cell phone, not a pocket computer.
  • Interesting that Apple is choosing to mark the tenth anniversary now, on the occasion of its unveiling. Perhaps they’ll do something again on June 29, the day we all stood in line outside Apple and AT&T stores, waiting to buy one.
Ten Years Ago Today Steve Jobs Introduced the iPhone 

It was the Apple keynote we had always wanted: the announcement of a game-changing product that Apple had successfully kept secret until Steve Jobs took it out of his pocket. Rumors were rampant that Apple was making “a phone”, but no one outside the company had any idea what kind of phone.

Here’s video of the announcement. See you in an hour.

Aaptiv: On-Demand Audio Fitness 

My thanks to Aaptiv for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Aaptiv fuses the motivation and guidance of a personal trainer with real, exciting music playlists to create an on-demand audio fitness experience like no other. Aaptiv is the perfect way to give your gym membership a boost, take that hotel gym visit up a notch, or experience a boutique indoor cycling class wherever you are. From running to yoga to strength training, Aaptiv delivers on-demand audio fitness motivation and training straight to your ear — anywhere, anytime. Music and motivation — everything you need.

Even better: Daring Fireball readers can get a 30 day free trial using code “DARING” at signup. Free app, free trial.

Apple’s Annual SEC Filing Reveals Missed Revenue and Profit Targets 

Tripp Mickle, reporting for the WSJ:

On Friday, Apple said in a regulatory filing that annual sales of $215.6 billion were 3.7% below target, and its operating income of $60 billion came up 0.5% short for the fiscal year ended Sept. 24.

Mr. Cook’s total 2016 compensation dropped to $8.75 million for the year, down 15% from $10.3 million in the year earlier. The decline was tied to his cash bonus, which hinged on exceeding revenue and profit targets set by the board. His base salary rose 50% to $3 million.

Mr. Cook’s total compensation doesn’t reflect the mega-stock grant he received in 2011 when he took over as CEO, an award valued at the time at about $376 million.

Bullet vs. Glass 

I’d never heard of a Prince Rupert’s Drop before. Fascinating materials science.

LG Is Abandoning Its Modular Smartphone Idea 

Chaim Gartenberg, writing for The Verge:

LG’s modular phone accessory strategy that served as the primary differentiator for last year’s G5 smartphone appears to be no more. The Wall Street Journal reports that the South Korean company is pivoting away from the plug-in “Friends” modules for the upcoming G6 device after lackluster sales for the G5.

Per The Wall Street Journal, an LG spokesperson commented that consumers aren’t interested in modular phones.

No shit.

Prototype Interface for an iPod-Based Apple Phone 

Interesting stuff, but I don’t think the idea here was to ship a device with a virtual click wheel occupying half of a touchscreen. I think this is more like an emulator, and if Apple had gone this route, the display on the actual device would have been small — only the white rectangular area at the top.

Dan Nainan, the 55-Year-Old ‘Millennial’ ‘Comedian’ 

Bizarre story from Ben Collins, writing for The Daily Beast:

Nainan was 36 in 2012 in The Wall Street Journal, but 31 in The New York Times in the same year. In 2006, he remembered when he got the bug to do comedy: In 1998, while he was working as a senior engineer at Intel. As a 17-year-old.

Then, there it is on paper: a Maryland traffic court case from last year. “Failure to display registration card upon demand by police officer.” Daniel Nainan of New York City. Date of birth: May 1961. […]

A Virginia speeding ticket in the database Lexis-Nexis says Nainan was pulled over for speeding in 1987. The ticket is so old that it’s not retrievable anywhere but on archived public-records searches. Fairfax County General District Court only retains records for resolved traffic cases for 10 years, according to both a FCGDC spokesperson and Virginia law.

Millennial Dan Nainan would’ve had to have been a 6-year-old with a speeding ticket.

So what, he’s lying about his age, right? Where his schtick angers me is that he’s claimed for years to have witnessed the World Trade Center towers collapse on 9/11, firsthand, and that that’s what prompted him to become a comedian.

The thing about pathological liars is that they don’t care about their web of lies adding up or making sense as a complete story. It’s simply about manufactured drama.

Vermont’s Maple Syrup Logo 

My first thought when I saw this was that it had to be fake, but apparently it’s real.

Intel’s Compute Card Is a PC That Can Fit in Your Wallet 

Would be cool to see Apple do something like this as a Mac Nano. You know, in the alternate universe where Apple seems to have any interest at all in desktop Macs.

Apple, The New York Times, and China 

Katie Benner and Sui-Lee Wee, reporting for The New York Times:

Apple, complying with what it said was a request from Chinese authorities, removed news apps created by The New York Times from its app store in China late last month.

The move limits access to one of the few remaining channels for readers in mainland China to read The Times without resorting to special software. The government began blocking The Times’s websites in 2012, after a series of articles on the wealth amassed by the family of Wen Jiabao, who was then prime minister, but it had struggled in recent months to prevent readers from using the Chinese-language app.

Apple removed both the English-language and Chinese-language apps from the app store in China on Dec. 23. Apps from other international publications, including The Financial Times and The Wall Street Journal, were still available in the app store.

“For some time now the New York Times app has not been permitted to display content to most users in China and we have been informed that the app is in violation of local regulations,” Fred Sainz, an Apple spokesman, said of the Times apps. “As a result, the app must be taken down off the China App Store. When this situation changes, the App Store will once again offer the New York Times app for download in China.”

The Times’s headline reads “Apple Removes New York Times Apps From Its Store in China”. I think a more accurate headline would be something along the lines of “China Compels Apple to Remove New York Times Apps From Its Store in China”. I don’t think Apple had any choice here, other than pulling out of China.

And given that The Times’s website has been blocked in China since 2012, the closed, proprietary App Store has given Chinese readers four years of access to The Times that they couldn’t get over the open web. China’s authoritarian regime is the problem here, not Apple.

Ev Williams Announces Layoffs at Medium 

Ev Williams, announcing that Medium is laying off a third of its employees and somehow changing its approach to making money:

Upon further reflection, it’s clear that the broken system is ad-driven media on the internet. It simply doesn’t serve people. In fact, it’s not designed to. The vast majority of articles, videos, and other “content” we all consume on a daily basis is paid for — directly or indirectly — by corporations who are funding it in order to advance their goals. And it is measured, amplified, and rewarded based on its ability to do that. Period. As a result, we get…well, what we get. And it’s getting worse.

That’s a big part of why we are making this change today.

We decided we needed to take a different — and bolder — approach to this problem. We believe people who write and share ideas should be rewarded on their ability to enlighten and inform, not simply their ability to attract a few seconds of attention. We believe there are millions of thinking people who want to deepen their understanding of the world and are dissatisfied with what they get from traditional news and their social feeds. We believe that a better system — one that serves people — is possible. In fact, it’s imperative.

Sounds good, but with no details as to what this “different — and bolder — approach” is, it’s hard to judge.

I also don’t think the problem is “ad-driven media on the internet” in general, but rather, the specific ways most ad-driven media on the internet work — and have worked, ever since the first banner ad in 1994. Measuring clicks and page views inevitably leads to clickbait. Instead, measure attention. There’s no way to cheat that other than by producing content that is worthy of attention.

Sidenote: Does anyone actually like those “highlights from other users” on Medium? I find them distracting and gross, and the more popular an article is, the more of them I see (and the more nonsensical some of them are).

Why Chris Adamson Bought a New Mac Pro Last Week 

Chris Adamson, “Capitulation”:

So, my last post was about my angst about replacing my 2008 Mac Pro tower, the best Mac I’ve ever owned. So what happened? Well, upon further reflection:

  • The idea of a 2012 Mac Pro, even the CPU-upgraded Ramjet aftermarket ones, fell off the radar because with Apple’s definition of obsolescence, that hardware will become unmaintainable as soon as 2018.

  • Similarly, someone pointed out that with the very idea of a third-party graphics card no longer in any of Apple’s shipping Macs, it could become difficult for the Hackintosh community to keep going. No idea if this is true, but it makes sense, I guess?

  • If I wanted a year-old iMac, or the new MacBook Pro, I could have bought either of those ages ago and wouldn’t be in this position.

  • Waiting isn’t really an option, with my 2008 machine not supported by Sierra.

I think my needs, for development and especially for video work (Motion and Wirecast, mainly) are best served by the Mac Pro. Even the pathetic, three-year-old Mac Pro, because what I want is lots of cores, silent operation, and expandability of RAM and storage, something the iMac and MacBook Pro can’t offer.

Given his situation and needs, I think he made a reasonable decision. But “capitulation” is exactly the right word.

Wesley Moore’s Search for an Alternative to MacOS 

Wesley Moore:

I deeply value the consistency, versatility, reliability and integration of Mac OS X and the excellent quality hardware it runs on. However the current state of the Mac has me considering whether it’s still the right platform for me.

He tried 13 different OSes.

Running each one I was looking for these attributes:

  • An integrated, consistent experience
  • Opinions and thoughtfulness:
    • One tool for each job.
    • A sensible/minimal selection of pre-installed applications.
  • Design:
    • Simple, easy to use/understand interface
    • Visually appealing and consistent
    • HiDPI support
  • Timely updates

His favorite was Elementary, which, at a glance, does seem to be the open source OS that most values good design. But I don’t see how most serious Mac users could switch to it happily. Moore might be able to do it because he’s a Ruby developer who works in vim.

The truth is, for most of us, there is no good alternative to MacOS. Nothing. And it took so long — not years but decades — for MacOS to get to where it is that I don’t think any other OS could ever catch up. That’s what’s driving the arguably paranoid fear that Apple is abandoning the Mac. It’s not so much the evidence (lack of updates to Mac Pro and Mac Mini, and concerns about software quality) as the high stakes: if the Mac goes away, the world will be left without a Mac-quality desktop OS.

AirPod Cases Disguised as Dental Floss Dispensers 

I can see the appeal as a gag (especially if you live in a multi-AirPod-user household), but I don’t see how this is an “anti-theft” strategy.

I think the fear that thieves will attempt to snatch the buds out of your ears is going to prove unfounded, but I at least see how it’s possible. But how would thieves even see your AirPods case? Only scenario I can think of is if you want to keep them on your desk at work and have untrustworthy colleagues. (I had a stack of CDs stolen from my desk at a temp job just after college — the CDs were worth more than I made from the gig.) But if you’re worried about your case being stolen, it’s a lot safer to keep it in your pocket than to keep it on your desk with a dental floss disguise.

How Donald Trump Tweets 

Interesting analysis of Trump’s tweet style from Evan “Nerdwriter” Puschak. In a nut, he uses speech-like language, not written language. Puschak puts it well: “Instead of asking us to read, he forces us to hear.”

It’s no secret I do not like the guy, but there’s no denying that his use of Twitter is masterly.

So Begins the Apple Watch Series 3 Rumor Chain 

Tim Hardwick, writing for MacRumors:

On Tuesday, the Chinese-language Economic Daily News (EDN) claimed the next iteration of the wearable device will be manufactured by Taiwan-based Quanta, which was also responsible for the production of Apple’s first and second-generation smartwatch.

Citing market watchers with knowledge of Quanta’s plans, the paper said improving battery life is the manufacturer’s “main task”, but beside general performance improvements, the device’s other hardware would not see much change. Quanta declined to comment on the report, calling it “market speculation”.

I’ve been testing the Nike Plus Apple Watch, and it gets much better battery life than my original series Apple Watch. With WatchOS 3.1 it can go two days without a charge, even wearing it to sleep. If Series 3 improves battery life even further, it could turn Apple Watch into a “charge once or twice a week” device, which would be nice.

Update: Or even better, perhaps with increased battery life, Apple could give Series 3 an always-on display? That’s still my biggest gripe about Apple Watch.

With No Warning, House Republicans Vote to Hobble Independent Ethics Office 

Eric Lipton, reporting for The New York Times:

House Republicans, defying their top leaders, voted Monday to significantly curtail the power of an independent ethics office set up in 2008 in the aftermath of corruption scandals that sent three members of Congress to jail.

The move to weaken the Office of Congressional Ethics was not public until late Monday, when Representative Robert Goodlatte, Republican of Virginia and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, announced that the House Republican Conference had approved the change with no advance public notice or debate.

In its place, a new Office of Congressional Complaint Review would be set up within the House Ethics Committee, which before the creation of the Office of Congressional Ethics had been accused of ignoring credible allegations of wrongdoing by lawmakers.

A secret vote within the Republican caucus to effectively eliminate the office that investigates their own misconduct. This is an outrage.

Mr. Goodlatte defended the action in a statement issued Monday evening, saying it would strengthen ethics oversight in the House while also giving lawmakers better protections against what some members have called overzealous efforts by the Office of Congressional Ethics.

Orwellian double-speak: strengthening an ethics office by stripping its independence. The Republicans — in the House at least — are dropping all pretense that they intend to govern with any integrity.

Update: 12 hours later:

House Republicans, facing a storm of bipartisan criticism, including from President-elect Donald J. Trump, moved early Tuesday afternoon to reverse their plan to gut the Office of Congressional Ethics. It was an embarrassing turnabout on the first day of business for the new Congress, a day when party leaders were hoping for a show of force to reverse policies of the Obama administration.

Trump, it should be noted, didn’t voice opposition to the plan, only the timing of it.

‘Growing a Different Apple’ 

Vindu Goel, writing for the NYT:

At Apple, Brian Latimer was in charge of protecting some of the company’s deepest secrets.

After an engineer accidentally left a test version of the iPhone 4 at a bar in 2010, Mr. Latimer set up a system to track, recover and destroy prototypes of coming products. Later, he taught overseas suppliers how to shield production lines and compartmentalize information to avoid leaks.

Under Apple’s “need to know” philosophy, he did not even have access to much of the information he helped to secure. And like all Apple employees, he was discouraged from talking about his job with co-workers.

His current employer, Pearl Automation, could not be more different.

Founded in 2014 by three former senior managers from Apple’s iPod and iPhone groups, Pearl has tried to replicate what its leaders view as the best parts of Apple’s culture, like its fanatical dedication to quality and beautiful design. But the founders also consciously rejected some of the less appealing aspects of life at Apple, like its legendary secrecy and top-down management style.

The start-up, which makes high-tech accessories for cars, holds weekly meetings with its entire staff. Managers brief them on coming products, company finances, technical problems, even the presentations made to the board.

As the article notes, you just don’t see as many startups from Apple employees as you do from other companies.

MacOS Sierra PDF Problems Get Worse in 10.12.2 

Adam Engst, writing for TidBITS:

It pains me to say this, speaking as the co-author of “Take Control of Preview”, but I have to recommend that Sierra users avoid using Preview to edit PDF documents until Apple fixes these bugs. If editing a PDF in Preview in unavoidable, be sure to work only on a copy of the file and retain the original in case editing introduces corruption of any sort. Smile’s PDFpen is the obvious alternative for PDF manipulation of all sorts (and for documentation, we have “Take Control of PDFpen 8” too), although Adobe’s Acrobat DC is also an option, albeit an expensive one.

What went wrong? Engst quotes developer Christian Grunenberg:

Apple wants to use a common foundation for both iOS and macOS. However, it was released way too early, and for the first time (at least in my experience) Apple deprecated several features without caring about compatibility. And to make things worse, lots of former features are now broken or not implemented at all, meaning that we had to add lots of workarounds or implement stuff on our own. And there’s still work left to be done.

In other words, parity with iOS took priority.

On the bright side, when this happened with the iWork suite, the Mac apps eventually gained back most of the functionality that was removed for parity with iOS. But it sure seems like Apple pulled the trigger on this at least a year before it was ready.

The Difference Between Google Assistant and Siri 

Matt Birchler:

The tech narrative is that Siri sucks and Google Assistant is the second coming. I have been using Siri for years, and have been going 100% in on Android over the last few weeks and have given Google Assistant a solid effort. My experience has been a little different than the popular narrative.

This matches my experience as well.

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