The Daring Fireball Linked List

‘iPod’s Dirty Secret’ 

If the name Casey Neistat rings a bell, that’s because he’s the rabble-rouser who made this bullshit video back in 2003 claiming that iPod batteries only lasted 18 months.

From the DF archive: “More Accurate (but, Admittedly, Less Sensational) Alternative Stencil Slogans for the ‘Neistat Brothers’”.

Stu Maschwitz on Casey Neistat’s iPhone 6 ‘Black Market’ Movie 

Casey Neistat made waves over the weekend with a short film documenting the mercenary nature of the lines outside Apple Stores in New York City for the iPhones 6. And yes, a seemingly overwhelming number of the line-waiters were Asian, many of them non-English speakers. I noticed the same thing in Portland last year, when XOXO was scheduled the same weekend as the iPhone 5S and 5C going on sale. My hotel was across the street from Portland’s downtown Apple Store, the queue stretched all the way around the block and most of the people waiting in line seemed to be non-English-speaking Asians, not the least bit enthused about the iPhone itself.

Things have certainly changed from 2007, when the lines for the original iPhone were like Apple fan club meetings. But so what? The world has changed. Apple only sold about 6 million of the original iPhone in the course of a year. They will sell well over 100 million iPhone 6 and 6 Plus units before we’re here again with next year’s new models.

Count me with Stu Maschwitz: this film is pointless, and I think more than a little racist. When you can wait in line, pay $1000 for a new 6 Plus, then walk out of the store and resell it immediately for $1500 or more, that’s going to attract people who want to buy them for no reason other than to flip them. And I guarantee you not everyone waiting in line (or as they say in New York, on line) Friday morning to buy new iPhones just to flip them was Asian. And if the going rate in mainland China is over $2,500, as Quartz is reporting, then it it makes all the more sense, simply as capitalism at work, that many of the line-waiters are Chinese-Americans looking to turn a profit.

The problems start right with the title: reselling iPhones is not “black market”. “Black market” means illegal, and there is nothing illegal about reselling a legally purchased iPhone. These phones are gray market, at worst. The leaked iPhone 6 units that came out of the supply chain weeks ago — those were black market goods.

Apple Pay Human Interface Guidelines (PDF) 

A friend sent me this link, with the quip, “So simple the HIG is less than 3 pages.” I pointed out there’s a title page, so let’s be honest and call it 4.

One line that stuck out to me:

Note that the Apple Pay sheet always displays text in all capital letters.

I wonder what the deal is with that? I’m guessing it’s a legacy shit sandwich from the existing credit card processing infrastructure.

‘Not a Hobby’ 

Michael Lopp:

While I use my Apple TV every single day, my opinion is the reason Apple calls it a hobby is because it’s a derived product. It’s a bit of iTunes, a little bit of iOS, there’s some hardware there, too, but it’s hardware you shove into a corner and never see. With all respect to the Apple TV team, there was nothing “Apple hard” in Apple TV’s design – that important innovative work has been done elsewhere.

The Apple Watch is not a hobby.

Definitely not a hobby.

‘Cheaper Than Rocks’ 

Ted Rall on Amazon’s Fire Phone.

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Samsung Galaxy S5 

Side-by-side comparison from The Onion.


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iPhone 6 Slow Motion Wine Pour 

Watch this beautiful footage, then think about how far we’ve come, so fast. The original iPhone’s camera didn’t even shoot video at all.

Six Colors 

And speaking of Jason Snell, this week he launched his new post-Macworld home: the perfectly named Six Colors. So good. Instant RSS subscription.

The whole Macworld thing is still a bit of a shock, but I think it’ll all work out for the best in the end. This gets Jason back to what he does best: writing.

‘Orson Welles of the Genre’ 

Also speaking of podcasts, Horace Dediu, Jason Snell, and yours truly were the guests on the latest episode of Moisés Chiullan’s Electric Shadow, talking about Apple and their use of cinema and cinematic techniques.

The Rebound 

Speaking of nerdy tech podcasts, there’s a good new one: The Rebound, starring my pal John Moltz.

‘Twenty-One Thousand Words’ 

New episode of The Talk Show, with special guest Rene Ritchie.

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Swatch Inventor on Apple Watch: ‘I Would Definitely Wear It’ 

Elmar Mock, inventor of the Swatch:

The Apple Watch is by far the most attractive of the smartwatches. I would definitely wear it. Don’t forget that the early smartphones did not immediately replace conventional mobile phones. When the iPhone first launched, Blackberry was sure that consumers would notice the lack of a keyboard and Nokia was convinced that the big screen would put users off…

The True Cost of a Subsidized iPhone 6 

Ed Bott:

Those contract prices include a $450 subsidy by the carriers, who are not in the business of giving money away. And they make sure they recover that subsidy. In some cases, they end up charging you hundreds of dollars more than you would lay out if you simply bought it outright.

After you add that device to your shopping cart, you then have to select a monthly plan and agree to pay the price of that plan for two years.

And guess what? For the three carriers that dominate the U.S. mobile market, the monthly prices for contract plans are significantly higher than those you will pay if you buy the phone outright or finance the full retail price.

The FTC ought to step in and force the carriers to clearly tell you the true price you’ll pay for your phone over the course of your two-year contract. And kudos to T-Mobile for being the only U.S. carrier with honest pricing.

Remember Flash Player? 

[Posted this 30 minutes ago thinking it was a new story, but it’s from 2011. ZDNet’s “Related Story” widget fooled me, sorry about that. Still interesting to me re: the Lynch angle.]

Good to know the guy who was responsible for Flash Player at Adobe is now in charge of the software for Apple Watch. The optimist’s angle is that Kevin Lynch was just doing his part as a team player. But his evangelism for Flash Player for mobile devices looks downright silly in hindsight.

The Line for iPhones 6 at Flagship Fifth Avenue Apple Store Stretched 12 Blocks 

Good time to take a look back at Henry Blodget’s 2011 prognostication: “Android Clobbering Everyone, iPhone Dead in the Water”.

Android L to Offer Full Device Encryption, on by Default 

Craig Timberg, the Washington Post:

The next generation of Google’s Android operating system, due for release next month, will encrypt data by default for the first time, the company said Thursday, raising yet another barrier to police gaining access to the troves of personal data typically kept on smartphones.

Android has offered optional encryption on some devices since 2011, but security experts say few users have known how to turn on the feature. Now Google is designing the activation procedures for new Android devices so that encryption happens automatically; only somebody who enters a device’s password will be able to see the pictures, videos and communications stored on those smartphones.

Good news for everyone, but seriously — how many years until a majority of Android users are running Android L or higher? Five?

Android Browser Flaw a ‘Privacy Disaster’ for Half of Android Users 

Peter Bright, writing for Ars Technica:

A bug quietly reported on September 1 appears to have grave implications for Android users. Android Browser, the open source, WebKit-based browser that used to be part of the Android Open Source Platform (AOSP), has a flaw that enables malicious sites to inject JavaScript into other sites. Those malicious JavaScripts can in turn read cookies and password fields, submit forms, grab keyboard input, or do practically anything else. […]

Google’s own numbers paint an even worse picture. According to the online advertising giant, only 24.5 percent of Android users are using version 4.4. The majority of Android users are using versions that include the broken component, and many of these users are using 4.1.x or below, so they’re not even using versions of Android that use Chrome as the default browser. […]

Just how this fix will be made useful is unclear. While Chrome is updated through the Play Store, the AOSP Browser is generally updated only through operating system updates. Timely availability of Android updates remains a sticking point for the operating system, so even if Google develops a fix, it may well be unavailable to those who actually need it.

It’ll all work out in five or six years when most Android users are running 4.4 or higher.

Vesper 2.004 

Dave Wiskus:

There are a number of technical details that Brent can clarify, but the bottom line is that UITextView on iOS 7 had a number of significant technical problems. iOS 8 brings fixes for most of them, which allowed us to work around the rest fairly reliably. If you find any lingering problems, please let us know.

Also, while not technically a feature, we did use 2.004 as an opportunity to provide support for the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus. When you get your new phone, Vesper should look great.

First thing I did with my iPhone 6 review units was install Vesper, and I can testify that it looks good. For marketing purposes, Apple is (rightly) focused on what’s new in iOS 8. But under the hood, Apple fixed a lot of bugs and tweaked a slew of details. The TextKit improvements are near and dear to my heart because of Vesper, but there are improvements like that all over iOS 8.

‘I’ll Walk From Here’ 

Speaking of Derek Jeter and his impending retirement, if this new spot from Gatorade doesn’t make you feel something, you’re not hooked up right.

342,000 Swings Later, Derek Jeter Calls It a Career 

Fascinating data visualization from the New York Times. As Kottke wrote, “This is like Powers of Ten, but with Derek Jeter bat swings.”

(Web dev nerds: be sure to check it out on your phone, too. It runs smoother and looks better on my iPhone than it does my aging MacBook Pro.)

Apple Says iOS 8 Update Keeps Data Private, Even From the Police 

Brian X. Chen, writing for the NYT:

“Unlike our competitors, Apple cannot bypass your passcode and therefore cannot access this data,” the company said on the new webpage. “So it’s not technically feasible for us to respond to government warrants for the extraction of this data from devices in their possession running iOS 8.”

Christopher Soghoian, a principal technologist for the American Civil Liberties Union, said Apple’s new privacy policy reflected the revelations of the government surveillance programs revealed in documents leaked by Edward J. Snowden. “The public has said they want companies to put their privacy first, and Apple has listened,” Mr. Soghoian said.

Austin Mann’s iPhone 6 and 6 Plus Camera Review in Iceland 

Amazing, jaw-dropping review of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus cameras. Hats off to Mann (and his partners at The Verge) for this. Informative, amazing, and gorgeous.

Larry Ellison Steps Down as Oracle’s CEO 

Ashlee Vance, reporting for Businessweek:

Larry Ellison has agreed to step down as the chief executive officer at Oracle, ending one of the most entertaining and profitable runs for a leader in business history.

Oracle announced Ellison’s departure via a press release delivered on Thursday afternoon after the close of the U.S. financial markets. The company said that Ellison will remain Chairman of Oracle’s board and take on the role of chief technology officer. Mark Hurd and Safra Catz, both presidents at Oracle, will each inherit the CEO title. Catz will remain as chief financial officer as well.

He goes out on top, on his own terms, with Oracle stock at an all-time high.

Sign of the Impending Culture Clash 

Phil Nickinson, writing for Android Central:

Sure, the Horween Leather on the Moto 360 is mighty fine, but watches are all about customization, particularly when it comes to the straps. But because of the size and shape of the Moto 360, we’ve had to be a little careful of shoving just any old strap in there. A good many have turned out to just be too thick to fit in the curved plastic casing.

Meanwhile, a good many of us are waiting for the official steel bracelets to be made available (at a hefty a la carte price of $79.99). But it turns out that you might already have an alternative on hand, or can get one for a mere $20.

$80 for a steel watch band is a “hefty price”. That’s adorable.

Update: Allow me to elaborate. $80 is not a “hefty price” for a steel watch bracelet. It’s normal, for watches in the $200-300 range, which is exactly the range where the Moto 270 sits. Pebble’s $19 steel watch bracelet is the equivalent of $.99 prices for apps. $500 for a watch bracelet is “hefty”, I agree. $2,500 for a bracelet is extravagant, I’d agree. But $80 is squarely within the mainstream, the mass market.

(Via Rene Ritchie).

‘I Have a Great Way of Saying the Government Has Ordered a Pizza’ 

Geoffrey Fowler and Joanna Stern:

Now the latest version of Apple’s iPhone software, iOS 8, adds a layer of smarts on top of autocorrect called QuickType, predictive typing of a sort previously found on Android. Not only does it suggest spelling, it also suggests words you might want to type next. If you keep following its train of robotic thought, QuickType will form entire sentences on your behalf.

The result is so goofy that it is brilliant. For the last week, we — your WSJ personal technology columnists — have been conducting serious tests of the new iPhones and iOS 8, while also holding nonsensical auto-generated conversations with each other.

Tim Cook on Apple and Privacy 

Tim Cook:

A few years ago, users of Internet services began to realize that when an online service is free, you’re not the customer. You’re the product. But at Apple, we believe a great customer experience shouldn’t come at the expense of your privacy.

Our business model is very straightforward: We sell great products. We don’t build a profile based on your email content or web browsing habits to sell to advertisers. We don’t “monetize” the information you store on your iPhone or in iCloud. And we don’t read your email or your messages to get information to market to you. Our software and services are designed to make our devices better. Plain and simple. […]

Finally, I want to be absolutely clear that we have never worked with any government agency from any country to create a backdoor in any of our products or services. We have also never allowed access to our servers. And we never will.

That Tim Cook and Steve Jobs are very different people has been a common refrain for three years, and it came up again this week in his interview with Charlie Rose. But one trait they share is the ability to write in simple, straightforward words. I say clear writing is a sign of clear thinking. Tim Cook and the rest of Apple’s leadership are serious about this — both as a moral issue and as a competitive advantage to tout over Google. They should have called this “Thoughts on Privacy”, because it reads an awful lot like Jobs’s “Thoughts on Music” and “Thoughts on Flash”.

Apple Pulls iOS 8 HealthKit Apps From the App Store 

Apple statement:

We discovered a bug that prevents us from making HealthKit apps available on iOS 8 today. We’re working quickly to have the bug fixed in a software update and have HealthKit apps available by the end of the month.

These iOS releases are usually rough, because the software release dates are set in stone by the iPhone hardware release dates.

Apple Updates Privacy Policy 


The Apple Privacy Policy was updated on September 17, 2014. The changes were made predominantly to cover new features that will be released with iOS 8 or to provide additional information on current data use such as date of birth and third party user data provided by our users (for example when sending products or gift certificates). None of the changes are retroactive.

We added language to cover Spotlight Suggestions, Analytics, Family Sharing and AppleID for users under the age of 13 or equivalent age in their countries. Finally, we added a description of technologies used by location-based services, including GPS, Bluetooth, IP address, and crowd-source wi-fi hotspot and cell tower locations.

Most privacy policies are written in opaque legalese. Apple’s isn’t. It’s straightforward and readable. They really want you to read it, and understand the privacy implications of using their products and services.

One More Thing 

Going through my notes, I realized that I neglected to write about pricing and storage tiers in my iPhones 6 review. I really wanted to, and blame exhaustion for omitting it. I just went back and added it, but assuming most of you have already read my review, I’ll quote the new section here for your convenience:

Pricing decisions are sometimes subjective, but to me it feels just right that the 6 Plus costs $100 more than the regular 6 at each storage tier. The superior display quality, optical image stabilizer, and larger battery seem like a fair deal for $100. This also means this is the first year ever in which I’m not buying myself the most expensive iPhone.

I’m glad to see Apple double the middle and high storage tiers, from 32/64 to 64/128. I like to store my entire music library on my iPhone, but with “only” 64 GB of total storage, that meant I kept running out of space as I shot videos and took photos. (I love panoramic photos, but they’re very large.)

But I don’t understand why the entry level storage tier remained at a meager 16 GB. That seems downright punitive given how big panoramic photos and slo-mo HD videos are, and it sticks out like a sore thumb when you look at the three storage tiers together: 32/64/128 looks natural; 16/64/128 looks like a mistake. The original iPhone, seven years and eight product generations ago, had an 8 GB storage tier. The entry-level iPhones 6 are 85 times faster than that original iPhone, but have only twice the storage capacity. That’s just wrong. This is the single-most disappointing aspect of the new phones.

(Don’t even get me started on the 8 GB iPhone 5C.)

Using the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus on a Trip to Disneyland 

Matthew Panzarino reviews the iPhones 6:

Last week I decided to test the most secretive, hotly anticipated smartphones on earth in a place where there was no danger of them being recognized or damaged or both: Disneyland.

Both my wife and I are Disneyphiles of sorts, and visit a dozen times a year or more. I have an appreciation for it because my daughter loves to go, but also because of how carefully the place is planned, constructed and run. Disneyland is the Apple of theme parks. What better place to test the new models?

I’ve had a ton of experience using phones to navigate, communicate and photograph in the park. It’s tens of thousands of people packed into the same square mile, all using devices to do the exact same thing you are. The network is crushed, it’s bright and hot and you’re juggling kids and strollers and other vacationers. It’s an ideal real-world test for smartphone batteries, screens, usability and cameras.

What a great conceit for a review. Panzarino’s is probably my favorite iPhone 6 review so far. I’m really impressed by the digital image stabilization on his video footage shot with the iPhone 6 (on Big Thunder Mountain — a good test). Maybe I’m just kidding myself, but I don’t think the optical image stabilization in the 6 Plus makes that much of a difference.

Room to Spare 

The original iPhone fits entirely within the display, just the display, of the iPhone 6 Plus. One of these iPhones, I love to death.

Promotional Images That Hide the iPhone 6 Camera Bulge 

Ben Brooks:

In other words with clever lighting and placement Apple hides that bump in profile view where it clearly would ruin the clean line and sleek looks. That doesn’t make the iPhone 6 bad, but it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. If you are embarrassed about the bump then don’t have it, but if you have a bump I think you need to own the bump.

I think this is a mistake on Apple’s part. If the iPhone 6 is going to have a camera bulge (and it does), they should wear it with pride. Like Brooks says, own it. Rock that bulge. And they do, in some shots. I noticed this one at the 9:06 mark during the keynote. That’s exactly what the iPhone 6 looks like in real life.

Songs of Anger 

One last post on the Songs of Innocence giveaway fiasco. Marco Arment:

It was a sloppy, ham-fisted execution uncharacteristic of Apple, much like the painfully awkward, forced, cheesy Tim/Bono marketing skit announcing this promotion that slaughtered the momentum of the otherwise very important iPhone 6/Pay/Watch event.

The damage here isn’t that a bunch of people need to figure out how to delete an album that they got for free and are now whining about. It’s that Apple did something inconsiderate, tone-deaf, and kinda creepy for the sake of a relatively unimportant marketing campaign, and they seemingly didn’t think it would be a problem.

I wonder about that last clause. Did anyone among Apple’s leadership raise questions about this promotion? Regarding either the “we’ll just add it to everyone’s purchased music” thing that has so many people upset, or, the way the whole thing was a complete and utter distraction punctuating the otherwise nearly flawless iPhones/Pay/Watch event.

Tim Cook’s Charlie Rose Interview 

Easily the best and most interesting interview with Tim Cook I’ve ever seen. A must-watch for anyone interested in Apple and Cook’s leadership. Part two airs tonight. (It’s Hulu, alas, so I suspect it isn’t available worldwide.)

Update: The version on Charlie Rose’s website apparently works everywhere.

Requiem for the iPod Classic 

Mat Honan:

For ten years my iPod — in various incarnations — was my constant companion. It went with me on road trips and backpacking through the wilderness. I ran with it. I swam with it. (In a waterproof case!) I listened to sad songs that reminded me of friends and family no longer with me. I made a playlist for my wife to listen to during the birth of our first child, and took the iPod with us to the hospital. I took one to a friend’s wedding in Denmark, where they saved money on a DJ by running a four hour playlist, right from my iPod. And because the party lasted all night, they played it again.

Everyone played everything again and again.

And now it’s dead. Gone from the Apple Store. Disappeared, while we were all looking at some glorified watch.

Apple, U2, and Looking a Gift Horse in the Mouth 

Peter Cohen, writing for iMore:

Let me say at the outset that I’m pretty ambivalent about U2 myself. They’ve never been one of those bands that I’ve absolutely had to have the latest album from. In fact, Songs of Innocence is the only U2 record I have in my iTunes library.

But the inordinate amount of actual anger directed at Apple and U2 over this is so disproportional to the actual event, I’ve started to wonder about the mental state of some of those complaining. It’s really been off the charts.

If you fall into that camp, let me speak very plainly: I have no sympathy for you. I have trouble thinking of a more self-indulgent, “first world problem” than saying “I hate this free new album I’ve been given.”

Nailed it.

‘Why Amazon Has No Profits (and Why It Works)’ 

Benedict Evans:

When you buy Amazon stock (the main currency with which Amazon employees are paid, incidentally), you are buying a bet that he can convert a huge portion of all commerce to flow through the Amazon machine. The question to ask isn’t whether Amazon is some profitless ponzi scheme, but whether you believe Bezos can capture the future. That, and how long are you willing to wait?

U2’s Forgettable Fire 

Sasha Frere-Jones’s track-by-track review of U2’s Songs of Innocence:

“California (Blah Blah Blah)”: The track sounds like seventeen different bands averaged out in Yelp and turned into an Active Rock Smoothie. Nowhere near as good as “Drunk In Love.”

Starting to get the feeling this promotion hasn’t worked out exactly the way U2 and Apple thought it would.

Bob Lefsetz on U2 and Apple 

Bob Lefsetz:

This looked like nothing so much as what it was, old farts using their connections to shove material down the throats of those who don’t want it. It’s what we hate so much about today’s environment, rich people who think they know better and are entitled to their behavior.

Not quite as scathing as Lewis Wallace calling it “a pity-fuck for a band that’s lost its edge”, but close.

Panasonic CM1: Hybrid Camera/Smartphone 

The most interesting Android phone I’ve seen in years: it’s more like a point-and-shoot camera with a phone than a phone with a camera.

New Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Commercial Mocks Apple for Being Late to Big-Ass Phone Game 

Weird ad. The time for Samsung to try to make hay out of this was last year, when Apple didn’t have a plus-sized iPhone. “We have something they don’t have” is a good marketing message. “We were first”, not so much. They’re just amplifying the already incredible public awareness that big new iPhones are available.

Dropbox 2014 Transparency Report 

They also published their “Government Data Requests Principles”. Sounds like they’re doing right by their users.

Apple Support Document: ‘Remove iTunes Gift Album “Songs of Innocence” From Your iTunes Music Library and Purchases’ 


Chris Ware’s ‘The Last Saturday’ 

The Guardian:

A brand new graphic novella by the award-winning cartoonist Chris Ware, tracing the lives of six individuals from Sandy Port, Michigan, published in weekly episodes.

Great work from Ware, as always, and an interesting presentation from The Guardian. (Via Coudal.)

Markus Persson: ‘I’m Leaving Mojang’ 

Minecraft creator Markus “Notch” Persson:

I love you. All of you. Thank you for turning Minecraft into what it has become, but there are too many of you, and I can’t be responsible for something this big. In one sense, it belongs to Microsoft now. In a much bigger sense, it’s belonged to all of you for a long time, and that will never change.

It’s not about the money. It’s about my sanity.

Mojang: ‘Yes, We’re Being Bought by Microsoft’ 

Mojang makes it official:

As you might already know, Notch is the creator of Minecraft and the majority shareholder at Mojang. He’s decided that he doesn’t want the responsibility of owning a company of such global significance. Over the past few years he’s made attempts to work on smaller projects, but the pressure of owning Minecraft became too much for him to handle. The only option was to sell Mojang. He’ll continue to do cool stuff though. Don’t worry about that.

There are only a handful of potential buyers with the resources to grow Minecraft on a scale that it deserves. We’ve worked closely with Microsoft since 2012, and have been impressed by their continued dedication to our game and its development. We’re confident that Minecraft will continue to grow in an awesome way.

Record Pre-Orders for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus 


Apple today announced a record number of first day pre-orders of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, the biggest advancements in iPhone history, with over four million in the first 24 hours. Demand for the new iPhones exceeds the initial pre-order supply and while a significant amount will be delivered to customers beginning on Friday and throughout September, many iPhone pre-orders are scheduled to be delivered in October.

Busy weekend.

Jonathan Mann Sums Up Day One of XOXO Fest 2014 

What an amazing event — there’s nothing else like XOXO.


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