The Daring Fireball Linked List

Tim Cook: Pro-Discrimination ‘Religious Freedom’ Laws Are Dangerous 

Tim Cook, in an op-ed for The Washington Post:

This isn’t a political issue. It isn’t a religious issue. This is about how we treat each other as human beings. Opposing discrimination takes courage. With the lives and dignity of so many people at stake, it’s time for all of us to be courageous.

He doesn’t need to speak up like this, and throw Apple’s corporate might into the political fray, on the cusp of the most important product launch of his career. But he is.

Why the Galaxy S6 Doesn’t Have a User Replaceable Battery 

Charles Arthur:

Ever since it was announced that the Galaxy S6 wouldn’t offer either a removable battery or a microSD slot, there was all sorts of kerfuffle on tech blogs, and the comments therein: people said that they bought Samsung stuff specifically for those elements, and that those were key things which set them apart from the (reviled, in their eyes) iPhone range, which has never offered a removable battery or slot-in storage.

However, I’m pretty sure that Samsung’s move is not only idealistic — not having to make the back removable avoids all sorts of design compromises — but also driven by clear data.

If swappable batteries were a meaningful mass market selling point, Samsung wouldn’t have changed sides on this. Years behind.

Apple Watch Apps Begin Showing Up in the App Store Ahead of Apple Watch Launch 

Apple is getting their ducks in a row before we get to see Apple Watches in stores April 10.

Amazon to Remove Non-Compete Clause From Contracts for Hourly Workers 

Kudos to The Verge for their reporting on this.

SupportKit: Beautifully Simple In-App Messaging 

My thanks to SupportKit for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. SupportKit is a brilliant idea: in-app messaging for iOS apps. You add SupportKit to your app, and boom, your users will be able to message you as easily as texting with a friend. Users compose messages in a beautiful interface — without leaving your app — and their messages arrive in your inbox, Slack, or your favorite CRM. Your replies are instantly delivered back to the user in your app.

SupportKit also allows you to start conversations. You can send targeted and timely messages to your users that feel friendly, not spammy. Visit to learn more and get started for free in under 10 minutes.

My Interview With ‘Becoming Steve Jobs’ Authors Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli 

The SoHo Apple Store hosted a “Meet the Author” event last night with Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli, and I had the pleasure of playing the host for the interview. Apple recorded it, and it’s now available as both video and audio. I thought it was fun and fascinating. And I’m kind of proud that it got flagged as “explicit” — but that was Bill Gates’s fault.

Slack Hacked 

This sucks, but I like the way they’re handling this.

Amazon Makes Even Temporary Warehouse Workers Sign 18-Month Non-Competes 

Spencer Woodman, reporting for The Verge:

The work is repetitive and physically demanding and can pay several dollars above minimum wage, yet Amazon is requiring these workers — even seasonal ones — to sign strict and far-reaching noncompete agreements. The Amazon contract, obtained by The Verge, requires employees to promise that they will not work at any company where they “directly or indirectly” support any good or service that competes with those they helped support at Amazon, for a year and a half after their brief stints at Amazon end. Of course, the company’s warehouses are the beating heart of Amazon’s online shopping empire, the extraordinary breadth of which has earned it the title of “the Everything Store,” so Amazon appears to be requiring temp workers to forswear a sizable portion of the global economy in exchange for a several-months-long hourly warehouse gig.

The company has even required its permanent warehouse workers who get laid off to reaffirm their non-compete contracts as a condition of receiving severance pay.

More gruel, please.

Mat Honan on Periscope and Meerkat 

The ability for anyone and everyone to broadcast live video is just wild. This was the stuff of science fiction even just ten years ago. I don’t know if there’s room for both Periscope and Meerkat to succeed, but Periscope’s lower latency, higher image quality, and first-party status within Twitter will probably win out. I don’t think it matters that Meerkat launched three weeks sooner.

David Sparks on Fantastical 2 for Mac 

David Sparks:

One of my favorite features with the new full calendar menu is the infinite scrolling list of events. This is largely the reason why Fantastical 2 took over on my iPhone as my main calendar application. I really appreciate the ability to scroll through future events and see what’s coming up and I think Flexibits has cracked this nut better than any of its competitors. They took a lot of those same design cues over to the Mac with this new version.

So Much for Dart ‘Rescuing Us From JavaScript’ 

Lars Bak and Kasper Lund, Dart co-founders:

In order to do what’s best for our users and the web, and not just Google Chrome, we will focus our web efforts on compiling Dart to JavaScript. We have decided not to integrate the Dart VM into Chrome. Our new web strategy puts us on a path to deliver the features our users need to be more productive building web apps with Dart. It also simplifies the testing and deployment scenarios for our developers, because they can focus on a single way to build, test, and deploy their Dart apps for the web.

CNet, two years ago: “Google: Dart Will Rescue Browsers From JavaScript”.

Matthew Weiner on the Final Season of ‘Mad Men’ 

Matthew Weiner:

TV and film, in general… some of it is designed for escape, designed to satisfy the lack of justice that we feel in everyday life. We find heroes and we get to have the wish fulfillment of, for example, a woman who has it all, who talks tough and tells people where to go and, yeah, they fail sometimes. There’s not a lot of that on the show. I give the example of how we try to make it less abstract by making it more like real life: If a young man runs into a beautiful woman at a party on Mad Men and she gives him her phone number and he writes it on a piece of paper and then he loses his coat, he will, on a normal TV show, end up figuring out how to find her. On Mad Men, he will never see her again.

This is intriguing, too:

As far as I’m concerned, seasons five, six, and seven are the sequel to Mad Men.

The War Over Who Steve Jobs Was 

Steven Levy:

In the long run, though, I believe that the disagreements about Jobs’s personality will have diminishing importance as future students of technology and culture seek to understand what Steve Jobs actually did, and how he did it. To that end, the lasting value of Becoming Steve Jobs might have nothing to do with its effort to be a corrective to the previous biography. Instead, historians will appreciate the careful documentation of Jobs’s professional evolution. The official thesis of the book is that during Jobs’ so-called “wilderness” years, between his being fired from Apple in 1985 and his return in 1997, the prodigal co-founder gained management wisdom, patience and even a measure of tact, all of which helped him take the company to unprecedented heights. Far from a novel observation, this has long been the conventional wisdom. But never has this narrative been so carefully developed as in Becoming Steve Jobs.


‘Much of It Was Chutzpah and Self Delusion’ 

Adam Banks, reviewing Becoming Steve Jobs for The Register:

My biggest problem with Isaacson’s biography was staying awake. With Schlender’s, it was getting through a page without stopping to note something illuminating.

16 Smartphones That Were Deemed ‘iPhone Killer’, 2008-2011 

Sweet, sweet claim chowder, how I love thee.

Yosemite: The Apple Conference With a View 

File another one under “Conferences in a Beautiful Setting I Regrettably Have to Miss Because of This Detached Retina Thing”. The Yosemite conference has a great speaker lineup and an unbeatable location. (It’s put on by the folks behind CocoaConf, but don’t let that fool you into thinking that this is a developer conference.)

Amazon’s Not-So-Subtle Influence on IMDB 

Keith Bradnam:

At what point should we become concerned by Amazon influencing the IMDb ratings of movies that they would rather see portrayed in a more positive light in order to sell content from

Layout vs. Layout 

Mike Swanson:

Today, Instagram announced an app called Layout from Instagram. It’s described as “a new app that lets you easily combine multiple photos into a single image.” In 2012, I released an Apple Editors’ Choice app called Layout that lets you combine multiple photos into a single image. It was even named an App Store Best of 2012 app. Is it just me, or does it seem insincere for Instagram to release a similar app with the exact same name only differentiated by the inclusion of their company name? Do you think they’d be okay with me releasing an app called “Instagram from Juicy Bits?” Neither do I.

It’s not quite the same thing, since “Instagram” is a trademark and “Layout” is not, but the point stands: it’s a dick move for a company the size of Instagram/Facebook to simply take the name of an existing (and successful!) app that does the exact same thing.

Update: In case you’re experiencing déjà vu, you’re not crazy. Just last year: “Paper vs. Paper”.

Google Changes Course, Intends to Implement ‘Pointer Events’ in Blink 

That leaves Apple and WebKit as the lone holdout.

(Previously: “Why Google’s Blink (And I Think, Apple’s Webkit) Rejected the Pointer Events Spec” and “Lack of Support From Apple Scuttles W3C Pointer Events Spec”.)

Fantastical 2 for Mac 

Terrific new version of one of my very favorite apps. The first version of Fantastical for Mac was more like a widget — the whole app lived in your menu bar, and excelled at quick natural language input and giving you an overview of upcoming events. Fantastical 2 keeps all that, but adds a full-fledged calendaring UI. I’ve been using it for a few weeks, and it’s really good. I think Flexibits has nailed the way to do Yosemite-style design in a third-party app with strong visual branding.

See also:

‘Don’t Take a Flying Leap’ 

Dave Pell, on this thing with news sites agreeing to publish their work on Facebook:

News organizations should not take that leap of faith. They should not trust Facebook to deliver the news anymore than Facebook should fear their ability to build a competing social network.

Yes, Facebook has built a large and powerful network. But they do not know how to run the news business better than editors, journalists and publishers. And they don’t have the same goals.

Facebook to Host News Sites’ Content 

Ravi Somaiya, Mike Isaac, and Vindu Goel, reporting for the NYT:

Facebook intends to begin testing the new format in the next several months, according to two people with knowledge of the discussions. The initial partners are expected to be The New York Times, BuzzFeed and National Geographic, although others may be added since discussions are continuing. The Times and Facebook are moving closer to a firm deal, one person said.

To make the proposal more appealing to publishers, Facebook has discussed ways for publishers to make money from advertising that would run alongside the content.

I can see why these news sites are tempted by the offer, but I think they’re going to regret it. It’s like Lando’s deal with Vader in The Empire Strikes Back.

From the DF Archive: Big Fan 

I don’t often post video to DF, but when I do, it’s good. (Just updated these to HTML 5 <video> elements — they were <embed> tags with QuickTime content previously.)

The Shift-Option-K Apple Logo Glyph Is Not Cross-Platform 

On the Mac, you can put an Apple logo in any text field by typing Shift-Option-K. This might date back all the way to System 1.0 in 1984. Some people use this to spell the name of products like Apple TV and Apple Watch. It’s super-common with Apple Watch, in fact, almost certainly because Apple uses the logo mark (that is to say, the Apple logo glyph followed by “WATCH” in all caps or, even fancier, small cap Unicode glyphs).

This is a bad idea for a few reasons. First, it is not a standard Unicode character and almost certainly never will be — because it is Apple’s copyrighted intellectual property. You could argue that it’s the single most valuable IP asset the company owns. This means the glyph does not render on platforms other than Apple’s own. It just shows up as a “missing glyph” box or a space.

Second, the name of the product is “Apple Watch”. Even Apple spells it out like that in prose.

Third, as Nevan King points out, it could be misinterpreted as the Klingon Mummification Glyph. You wouldn’t want that to happen.

On the Apple Watch Display 

Craig Hockenberry:

I’ve always felt that the flattening of Apple’s user interface that began in iOS 7 was as much a strategic move as an aesthetic one. Our first reaction was to realize that an unadorned interface makes it easier to focus on content.

But with this new display technology, it’s clear that interfaces with fewer pixels have another advantage. A richly detailed button from iOS 6 would need more of that precious juice strapped to our wrists. Never underestimate the long-term benefits of simplification.

Apple hasn’t officially stated that Apple Watch uses an AMOLED display, but it’s sort of an open secret. The other thing is, regardless of the underlying display technology, iOS 6-style skeuomorphism would’ve felt downright gauche on the watch. I don’t think iOS or OS X needed to eschew skeuomorphic textures, but Apple Watch did.

The Making of NHL ’94 

Great feature by Blake J. Harris on the early years of EA’s sports franchises for Sega Genesis, culminating with their masterpiece, NHL ’94:

Even without featuring logos and teams from the NHL, Brook thought, there were other ways to improve the realism of this game. For example, it could emulate the ambience of a game day NHL arena by including the proper organ music. The problem, though, was that each team’s organist played different songs. ‘That’s not a problem, actually,’ explained Dieter Ruehle, the organist for the San Jose Sharks (and previously for the Los Angeles Kings), ‘I can do that.’ True to his word, Ruehle provided EA with organ music for every team; and he didn’t just provide all of their songs, but also noted which music was blasted during power plays, which tunes were used to celebrate goals, and all the other inside info needed to make each arena feel like home. Ruehle was so diligent about getting it right and capturing that home crowd essence, that during a recording session at EA’s sound studio he asked:

‘The woman who plays the organ for the Washington Capitals has arthritis; would you like me to play the songs how they are meant to be played, or the way that she plays them because of her condition?’

‘Definitely the way she plays it!’ Brook answered, after a laugh.

(Via Kottke.)

It’s Time for Baseball to Forgive Pete Rose 

Christopher Caldwell, writing for the WSJ:

On Monday, Rob Manfred, the new commissioner of Major League Baseball, got a chance to extricate his sport from a deepening moral quandary. Pete Rose, the disgraced onetime star of the Cincinnati Reds, petitioned Mr. Manfred’s office to be reinstated in the sport from which he was barred in 1989 for gambling.

Agree completely. Pete Rose has been punished enough.

Peak Cable 

Horace Dediu:

Paying for TV has been a curious consumer phenomenon. There was a time when TV was free to consumers. It was delivered as a broadcast over-the-air and paid for either by commercials (US mostly) or by taxes on viewers (Europe mostly). The consumers were delighted with the idea as it was far better than radio and radio was delightful because it was far better than no radio. […]

And so over a period of about 40 years, watching TV went from free to quite expensive. More expensive even than a family’s communications costs (i.e. telephone service.) That’s quite an achievement at a time when technology diffusions caused huge price reductions in other goods and services. Consider that the TV set used to watch the programming improved dramatically while decreasing in price over the same period.

The Billionaire’s Typewriter 

Thoughtful piece by Matthew Butterick regarding Medium:

As a writer, the biggest potential waste of your time is not typography chores, but Medium itself. Because in return for that snazzy design, Medium needs you to relinquish control of how your work gets to readers.

Tempting perhaps. But where does it lead? I fear that writers who limit themselves to providing “content” for some one else’s “branded platform” are going to end up with as much leverage as cows on a dairy farm. (A problem at the core of the recent Hachette–Amazon dispute.)


My thanks to Bushel for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Bushel is a simple, cloud-based solution designed to help anyone set up, manage, and protect Apple devices at work. Easily configure company email and Wi-Fi networks, distribute apps to your team, and protect sensitive data without locking down devices.

In short, Bushel turns IT from a career into a task. They have a great deal for you — Daring Fireball readers can create an account and manage three devices for free. Forever. Each additional device is just $2 per month. No contracts.

Úll 2015 

A few tickets are still available for this year’s Úll, coming up at the end of the month. I don’t hesitate to call Úll my favorite conference of the year, and it breaks my heart that I can’t make it this year. They’ve got a killer lineup of speakers, and the event is being held at a beautiful venue in Killarney, Ireland. But the best thing about Úll is the attendees. It attracts an amazing, diverse group of good people doing fascinating work. If you can swing it, you should go. I guarantee you won’t regret it.

(I’ve spoken at Úll each year since it started, and I was set to return again this year, but had to cancel a few weeks ago. Long story short, I suffered a detached retina, and part of the procedure to repair it involves a gas bubble injected in my eye to hold the repaired retina in place. It’s dissolving, slowly, over the course of two months, but until it’s fully dissolved, I cannot fly. You know when you take a bag of chips on a plane, and it puffs up like a balloon when the air pressure changes? That, but my eye.)

The Talk Show: ‘All of Us Assholes in Journalism’ 

New episode of my podcast, The Talk Show, with special guest Serenity Caldwell. Topics include last week’s “Spring Forward” Apple media event; the new Force Touch Trackpad for MacBooks, and the prospects for force touch in future iOS devices; and of course, Apple Watch.

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Dan Frommer: ‘Why Swiss Smartwatches Have No Chance Against the Apple Watch’ 

Dan Frommer, Quartz:

Ironically, if the Apple Watch is successful — and has any negative impact in Switzerland — it will be because Apple as a company follows the same tight, vertical integration that the Swiss watch industry does for its core product, mechanical watches.

Since the 1990s, watch companies “have been making increasing efforts to in-source as many steps in the production process as possible,” ranging from individual watch components to retail distribution, according to a Credit Suisse report on the Swiss watch industry. “The manufacturers’ objective is to have the greatest possible control over the entire value chain and to decrease their dependence on external suppliers.”

The Mystery of Lê From Hop Sing Laundromat 

This month’s Philadelphia Magazine has a good profile by Jason Sheehan of my friend Lê, the man behind what I honestly believe to be the world’s best cocktail bar, Hop Sing Laundromat. Worth checking out just for the gorgeous, evocative (and unprecedented, given Lê’s reticence) photographs by Justin James Muir.

Nick Bilton Shits the Bed With Pseudoscience-Laden ‘Could Wearable Computers Be as Harmful as Cigarettes?’ New York Times Column 

NYT public editor (translation from NYTese to English: ombudsman) Margaret Sullivan eviscerates Nick Bilton’s scaremongering column on wearable devices and cancer. Bilton’s column has since been given an “addendum” that pretty much walks back the whole piece. I think the addendum should be at the top of the story, though, not the bottom.

‘Swiss Horologists Are Well Positioned to Out-Apple Apple’ 

Leonid Bershidsky, writing for Bloomberg:

Swiss watchmakers haven’t really slept through the wearable-tech revolution. They’ve been watching as others did their market research for them. They can afford to wait: Export sales of high-end watches last year totaled 13.8 billion Swiss francs compared with just 3.1 billion francs in 2000. The industry has time to ponder strategies, play with designs and selectively choose from the new functions the Silicon Valley giants develop.

In other words, Swiss horologists are well positioned to out-Apple Apple. They are beginning to introduce new products after their competitors jumped in first. Swiss attention to detail can only be good for the emerging wearable industry, which, even with Apple on board, is still flying by the seat of its pants.

I don’t get this at all. Swiss watch companies may well be positioned to succeed with smartwatches, but it won’t be by “out-Appling Apple”. They have nothing that Apple brings to the table. They have no operating system. They have no developer platform. They have no expertise in semiconductors. If “Apple” is a verb, it means to own the whole widget, to “own the key technologies”, as Tim Cook said just this week. TAG Heuer partnering with Google for an OS and Intel for semiconductor design could not be less Apple-y.

The truth is that no other single company can do what Apple is doing with Apple Watch. (Maybe Microsoft, now that they own Nokia’s handset business? But even that seems like a real stretch.)

Apple Grants ‘Good Morning America’ Exclusive Behind-the-Scenes Access to Secret Health and Fitness Lab 

Expect a steady drip of such pieces for the next month, as Apple builds a crescendo of momentum for the Apple Watch launch.

Reviewing Apple Watch Without Having Used It 

Christian Cantrell on the Apple Watch for ReadWrite, “The Apple Watch Looks Great — But It’s Going To Disappoint Lots Of Users”:

Another key issue: Apple lists an 18-hour battery. In the real world, that likely translates into about 14 hours — especially when the device is new and people want to show it off as much as possible. […]

The watch’s complexity will also challenge some early customers. Instead of the app grids and folders iOS users are accustomed to, early adopters will face clusters of tappable dots that are, at first, easy to miss with your finger. You can use the “digital crown” (i.e., the scroll wheel) to magnify them, but it’s not obvious, intuitive or convenient. Users also have to acclimate to new inputs and interactions, including long-look notifications, glances, apps, taps, force presses, and when to use the digital crown button versus the side button.

Some users will deal with the learning curve, but others used to Apple’s typical simplicity will likely find the watch overly confusing.

That’s an awful lot of judgment — battery life, usefulness, complexity — for a device that he’s never actually used. The kicker:

I still plan on pre-ordering an Apple Watch along with millions of other people. But I can’t be at all sure how long I’ll stick with it.

Google Ad for Android Wear 

No functionality demoed whatsoever. The emphasis is on the variety of different watches available for Android Wear, and varying personal styles of the dancers in the ad. The slogan makes the target clear: “Be together. Not the same.” I’ve seen the same slogan on an ad for Android phones too. The message: Apple = conformity. Apple is The Man. Hilarious that Apple Watch is over a month away from shipping and Google is already painting it as the watch of conformity.

I don’t think this is going to be effective, but it’s interesting in the grand scheme of Apple’s history to see their products portrayed this way.

Paczkowski: ‘New Apple TV Set Top Will Debut This Summer With App Store, Siri’ 

John Paczkowski, writing for BuzzFeed:

Earlier this week, the Wall Street Journal reported that the subscription internet TV service Apple’s been trying to get off the ground since 2009 appears to be finally headed to market. And now sources familiar with the company’s plans tell BuzzFeed News that a successor to its dusty and recently discounted Apple TV set top box is headed to market as well. Apple intends to show the device off at its annual World Wide Developers Conference in June along with a long-awaited App Store and a software development kit to help developers populate it.

Sources say Apple’s new Apple TV is a significant overhaul of the device, one intended to undergird Apple’s vision of what the TV viewing experience should be, and to raise the table stakes in a set-top box market cluttered with barely differentiated devices from Amazon, Roku, and others.

The “Starting from $69” slide announcing last week’s price cut was an unusually obvious (for Apple) hint that new hardware was coming.

(Point deduction for BuzzFeed for decorating the article with a purely speculative artist’s rendering. Let’s put an end to this — it’s misleading, and adds nothing. Why decorate a factual scoop with fantasy artwork? Update: BuzzFeed has changed the artwork to a shot from Poltergeist — deducted point now restored.)

FTC Report Shows How Google Skewed Search Results 

Rolfe Winkler and Brody Mullins, reporting for the WSJ:

In a lengthy investigation, staffers in the FTC’s bureau of competition found evidence that Google boosted its own services for shopping, travel and local businesses by altering its ranking criteria and “scraping” content from other sites. It also deliberately demoted rivals.

For example, the FTC staff noted that Google presented results from its flight-search tool ahead of other travel sites, even though Google offered fewer flight options. Google’s shopping results were ranked above rival comparison-shopping engines, even though users didn’t click on them at the same rate, the staff found. Many of the ways Google boosted its own results have not been previously disclosed. […]

The report’s findings are at odds with Google’s descriptions of its search practices. Then-Chief Executive Eric Schmidt, now executive chairman, told a Senate panel in 2011 that “he was not aware of any strange boosts or biases” in Google’s results. “I can assure you we’ve not cooked” the results, Mr. Schmidt added.

Typographica: ‘Our Favorite Typefaces of 2014’ 

Always a good read; lots of interesting work from small indie foundries this year.

Bumpy Pixels 

Kyle VanHemert, writing for Wired, on haptic feedback as the new frontier in user interface design:

Apple showed its eagerness to explore this potential earlier this week, with an incremental upgrade to iMovie that adds haptic feedback for a handful of interactions. As explained in the release notes, “When dragging a video clip to its maximum length, you’ll get feedback letting you know you’ve hit the end of the clip. Add a title and you’ll get feedback as the title snaps into position at the beginning or end of a clip. Subtle feedback is also provided with the alignment guides that appear in the Viewer when cropping clips.”

So much potential here.

‘I Can’t Tell You Where I Work, and I Can’t Tell You What I Do, but I Need to Talk to You’ 

Daniela Hernandez, writing for Fusion, “The Inside Story of How Apple’s New Medical Research Platform Was Born”:

He was closer than he thought. Sitting in the audience that day was Mike O’Reilly, a newly minted vice president for medical technologies at Apple. A few months earlier, Apple had poached O’Reilly from Masimo, a Bay Area-based sensor company that developed portable iPhone-compatible health trackers. Now, he was interested in building something else, something that had the potential to implement Friend’s vision of a patient-centered, medical research utopia and radically change the way clinical studies were done.

After Friend’s talk, O’Reilly approached the doctor, and, in typical tight-lipped Apple fashion, said: “I can’t tell you where I work, and I can’t tell you what I do, but I need to talk to you,” Friend recalls. Friend was intrigued, and agreed to meet for coffee.

Great story. This is the best piece on ResearchKit that I’ve seen.

Tesla Can Now Resume Car Sales in New Jersey 

Matt Burns, writing for TechCrunch:

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie just signed a law that will allow Tesla to start selling its vehicles again to residents of the state.

About a year ago, New Jersey started enforcing a law that required vehicles to be sold to consumers through dealerships. Tesla doesn’t play nicely with dealerships. It sells its vehicles directly to consumers through company-owned showrooms instead of independently owned and state-certified dealerships. So about a year ago, Tesla stopped selling cars in New Jersey and the company’s two showrooms were unable to offer test drives or discuss sale information.

Nice outcome to this year-old piece.

Inside the U.S. Antitrust Probe of Google 

Fascinating look from the WSJ at a 2012 FTC staff report that recommended filing an antitrust lawsuit against Google:

In discussing one of the issues the FTC staff wanted to sue over, the report said the company illegally took content from rival websites such as Yelp, TripAdvisor Inc. and Amazon to improve its own websites. It cited one instance when Google copied Amazon’s sales rankings to rank its own items. It also copied Amazon’s reviews and ratings, the report found. A TripAdvisor spokesman declined to comment.

When competitors asked Google to stop taking their content, Google threatened to remove them from its search engine.

“It is clear that Google’s threat was intended to produce, and did produce, the desired effect,” the report said, “which was to coerce Yelp and TripAdvisor into backing down.” The company also sent a message that it would “use its monopoly power over search to extract the fruits of its rivals’ innovations.”

The FTC revealed this report to the Journal by mistake:

The Wall Street Journal viewed portions of the document after the agency inadvertently disclosed it as part of a Freedom of Information Act request. The FTC declined to release the undisclosed pages and asked the Journal to return the document, which it declined to do.

“Unfortunately, an unredacted version of this material was inadvertently released in response to a FOIA request,” an FTC spokesman said in a statement to the Journal. “We are taking steps to ensure this does not happen again,” the statement said.

Google Reportedly Preparing Android Wear App for iPhone and iPad 

A few readers have asked about this, regarding my comments earlier today regarding the lock-in advantage Apple Watch has for iPhone owners. An Android Wear app for iOS could definitely be a thing — look no further than Pebble. But the integration between an iPhone and an Android Wear device would be limited by the constraints of what iOS apps from the App Store are capable of. Apple Watch integration is built into iOS itself.

Jason Snell, who’s worn a Pebble for two years, writing for Macworld a few weeks ago:

Unlike all the Android Wear watches out there, Pebble’s watches have always claimed iOS compatibility. That’s true of the Pebble Time, too. But in the past two years as a Pebble user, one thing has been abundantly clear: My Pebble’s relationship with iOS has been fraught with difficulty. I had to fiddle endlessly with Notification Center settings to get alerts to properly display on my watch, and since the release of iOS 8 I’ve found that more often than not my Pebble has just silently lost its connection to my iPhone — or the Pebble app says it is connected, but it doesn’t actually send any notifications. Except when it does.

Meanwhile, Pebble keeps announcing new features that work pretty well with Android.

Apple Watch and the World Wide Web 

Paul Canetti:

The point is, if Apple announced a computer with no web browser, or a new version of iOS with no web browser, or I don’t know, a new MacBook with no ports, people would freak out. Like the way they freak out about everything Apple has ever removed ever.

And yet the lack of reaction, or even acknowledgement, that there is no Safari on Apple Watch, leads me to believe that not only is Apple right to not include it, but we are actually ready to accept it: a wearable world with no web browsers.

I disagree with Canetti’s headline — “Apple Watch Doesn’t Have Safari And You Didn’t Even Notice”. I certainly noticed, and I think many others did too. But I didn’t give it much thought, because it made no sense for me for there to be a web browser on a watch-sized display. But now that I think about it, it is interesting — the HTML/CSS/JavaScript web has no place in the wearable world.

Gucci and Unveil Wearable Tech Collaboration 

Alessandra Codinha, Vogue:

The musician has joined forces with Gucci Timepieces on a “smartband” that is completely standalone, which is to say untethered from any existing smartphone or mobile device. What makes it so smart? Well, it has the ability to make and receive phone calls; send and receive text messages and emails; hold music, maps, and your calendar; track your fitness; and even possesses a “sophisticated personal assistant” activated by voice command. “Wearable technology and smart devices represent a new frontier for the fashion industry. It is very appropriate that Gucci is leading the way through this collaboration with, as innovation has always been such an important part of our DNA,” wrote Gucci President and CEO Marco Bizzarri in a statement.

Dan Seifert, writing for The Verge back in November:

The Puls is a fully independent smartwatch — it has its own SIM card and doesn’t rely on being connected to a smartphone to work. introduced it to the world on a stage at Salesforce’s Dreamforce conference last month in front a bunch of devotees to CRM.

I got a chance to use an early production model earlier today. It’s objectively the worst product I’ve touched all year.

Good luck with that, Gucci.

Gene Munster Claims Apple Has Augmented Reality R&D Team 

Mikey Campbell:

Citing sources within the virtual and augmented reality industry, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster said in a report published Wednesday that he believes Apple is fielding a small team tasked with experimental work in the AR space.

Consumer oriented AR systems are likely ten years out, the analyst said, but Apple’s purported involvement suggests it is already plotting out the next evolution in computing. Munster suspects AR technology could be as transformative to the tech landscape as the smartphone.

For what it’s worth, I’ve heard about people getting hired for something like this at Apple. But it would be more surprising to hear that Apple isn’t doing any R&D regarding augmented reality than to hear that they are. Of course they’re looking into this.

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