Linked List: July 2010

The Line for a New Apple Store 

I got a press tour of the new Apple Store on Walnut Street here in Philly, about an hour before the grand opening yesterday afternoon. It’s nice. But it’s just a spacious Apple Store. But outside, it was truly a sensation. After the tour, I shot a video of the queue. People were lined up down the block, around the corner, and down the next block. Hooting and hollering, cheering and high-fives. There was a decent-sized crowd of people across the street. For a store that sells computers and phones. Crazy — especially when you think about where Apple was 10 years ago.

Movie Posters by Olly Moss 

Great work for some great movies. (Via Cabel Sasser.)

iPhone 4 Antenna Performance, Outside the U.S. 

Stephen Fenech, reviewing the iPhone 4 for The Daily Telegraph in Australia:

I’ve been using the iPhone 4 for nearly a week to make calls, send and receive emails and surf the web from various places around the city and suburbs.

Is the antenna an issue? No it’s not. Have I dropped calls? No, I have not.

Have I noticed an impact on the device’s performance? No.

Sourcebits 

My thanks to Sourcebits for once again sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Sourcebits offers software development services, specializing in mobile platforms like iOS (including both iPhone and iPad), Android, BlackBerry, and the web. If you’re looking for software development services, check out Sourcebits’s website for more information and examples of their work.

Creating Web App Content for the iPad 

Speaking of web app content for iOS devices, here’s a video where Sal Soghoian shows Alex Lindsay how to automate the creation of rich web content for the iPad using Automator and actions from Padilicious.com.

Open Web Apps for iOS Are Fully Supported by Apple, Folks 

Mike Masnick, on OpenAppMkt:

Overall, this fascinates me for two reasons. First, it’s good to get more people realizing that HTML is already pretty damn good at creating app-style experiences, without having to create special compiled code and, second, it’s a really clever way to totally route around Apple as a gatekeeper (without requiring a jailbreak), and is a reminder that even on “closed” systems, openness will often find a way.

OpenAppMkt is indeed clever, and it is a good way to get more people to see the potential in HTML5 as a mobile development platform. But it’s not “routing around” anything. iOS’s support for mobile web apps — totally open, no gatekeeping — is by design. This isn’t a loophole around the App Store. It’s a fully supported software platform.

Android Wallpaper App Developer Defends Data Collection 

Jackeey Wu, developer of the controversial Android wallpaper app that collects user data, defends himself in a message to Android Tapp:

In my applications I collected some device data, not user data. I collected the screen size to return more suitable wallpaper for the phone. More and More users emailed me telling that they love my wallpaper apps so much, because that even “Background” can’t well suited the phone’s screen. I also collected device id, phone number and subscriber id, it has no relationship with user data.

But why collect phone numbers?

Dan Frakes Reviews Apple’s Free iPhone 4 Cases 

All of them except for the one from InCase, which hasn’t shipped yet. Here’s my own review of Apple’s iPhone 4 Bumper.

RIM ‘Blackpad’ Coming in November, Reports Bloomberg 

Hugo Miller, reporting for Bloomberg:

Research In Motion Ltd., maker of the BlackBerry smartphone, plans to introduce a tablet computer in November to compete with Apple Inc’s iPad, according to two people familiar with the company’s plans. […]

RIM plans to call the tablet Blackpad, according to one of the people familiar with the company’s plans. RIM, based in Waterloo, Ontario, acquired the Internet rights to blackpad.com this month, according to the Whois database of domain names.

OmniFocus for iPad 1.0 

I’m drawing a blank trying to think of another long-standing Mac development shop that’s so strongly committed itself to the iPad.

You want a review? See MacSparky for a detailed one.

Fred Vogelstein: ‘Doing the Math on Android vs. Apple’ 

Smart piece by Fred Vogelstein for Wired:

The true comparison is between Android and iOS, Apple’s mobile operating system. Android’s activation numbers are not device dependent. Apple’s shouldn’t be either.  If we are going to truly compare the two mobile OSs we need to include sales of iPads and iPod Touches. Add them into the mix and the data shows that Android is catching up but still isn’t close.

Something to think about: If Android unit sales surpass those of all iOS devices combined, can iOS remain the dominant mobile software platform? I think the mobile market is going to be more like the console gaming market, with a handful of major players each with a 20-40 percent slice, rather than the monopoly-dominated PC market. Raw market share isn’t everything.

You’ll Never Get a Story Like This With an E-Book 

Kevin Guilfoile finds a ticket in an old book at his parents’ house. (Via Jim Coudal.)

PCalc 2.2 for iOS 

Still the best calculator for iPhone and iPad.

OpenAppMkt 

Gallery of iPhone-optimized web apps. Install it on your iPhone and it works like the App Store app. Interesting, but the fact that they clearly tried so hard to make it look good but that it still has janky scrolling and other visual rough edges says a lot about the technology’s shortcomings vs. Cocoa Touch.

IGN’s Sarcastic Gamer on the Xbox 360 Kinect 

Worth it for the ping-pong joke alone.

Ballmer Concedes the Obvious to Analysts Regarding the iPad 

It’s cute how he still calls them “slates”. It’s sad that their answer is still Windows 7.

iPhone Pull to Refresh 

Nice bit of open source iPhone code from Leah Culver, implementing Tweetie-style refreshing by pulling at the end of a list.

Update: Here’s another one, recommended by a developer friend: EGOTableViewPullRefresh.

Lookout Posts Details of Their Black Hat Conference Presentation on Those Suspicious Android Wallpaper Apps 

Nice technical write-up of what’s going on. It doesn’t appear that any particularly sensitive data is getting transmitted, but it sure is curious why they’re transmitting anything at all.

10K Apart 

Web app contest from An Event Apart:

It’s time to get back to basics — back to optimizing every little byte like your life depends on it. Your challenge? Build a web app in less than 10 kilobytes.

Urbanized 

Now in production: the final film in Gary Hustwit’s documentary trilogy on design, following Helvetica and Objectified:

Urbanized looks at the issues and strategies behind urban design, featuring some of the world’s foremost architects, planners, policymakers, builders, and thinkers. Over half the world’s population now lives in an urban area, and 75% will call a city home by 2050.

Apple Now Uses Its Own Location Service 

Interesting, but not surprising.

The Talk Show 

The comeback episode of Dan Benjamin’s and my podcast, talking about this week’s new Macs, the Magic Trackpad, Antennagate, and more. Sponsored by MailChimp.

Lookout, a Mobile Security Firm, Claims Android App Downloaded by ‘Millions’ Sends Personal Data to Server in China 

Dean Takahashi, reporting for MobileBeat:

The app in question came from Jackeey Wallpaper, and it was uploaded to the Android Market, where users can download it and use it to decorate their phones that run the Google Android operating system. It includes branded wallpapers from My Little Pony and Star Wars, to name just a couple.

It collects your browsing history, text messages, your phone’s SIM card number, subscriber identification, and even your voicemail password. It sends the data to a web site, www.imnet.us. That site is evidently owned by someone in Shenzhen, China. The app has been downloaded anywhere from 1.1 million to 4.6 million times. The exact number isn’t known because the Android Market doesn’t offer precise data.

I’m sure this story will get just as much attention as if it had been an iPhone app that did this. I’d like to see more proof from Lookout, though. Up to 4 million downloads?

Update: The article has been updated regarding what information the app captures: “Update: Lookout notes it does not capture browsing history and text messages.

Update 2: Lookout has posted details on their weblog.

The Emperor’s New Antenna 

Smartest piece written yet on Antennagate? This one, by Watts Martin.

New Amazon Kindles: $139 Wi-Fi-Only Version and $189 3G Model 

Now with a dark shell, like the new DX, which helps make the screen background look more like white. The pricing is aggressive, and Amazon seems committed to focusing on the e-reading market, not the tablet computing (or at this point, should we say pad computing?) market.

Walt Mossberg Reviews New Samsung Galaxy S Android Phones 

Walt Mossberg:

I’ve been testing the first two Galaxy S phones, the T-Mobile Vibrant and the AT&T Captivate, both of which cost $200 with a two-year contract. Neither has all the features of Apple’s latest model, like a front-facing camera for video calls or an ultra–high resolution screen, but they are worthy competitors. They have some attributes the iPhone lacks, like bigger screens and better integration of social networking.

They sound like good — maybe the best? — Android phones. What I find interesting is that “Galaxy S” is Samsung’s branding, but the phones aren’t called that. Each carrier gives them their own names. How many real people will know that the T-Mobile Vibrant and AT&T Captivate are pretty much the same phone from different carriers? And “Android” doesn’t get mentioned at all. The word “Android” doesn’t get much play from the carriers, either. There’s just one mention of “Android” on AT&T’s web page for the Captivate, and it’s near the bottom in the small print section.

Sprint Evo Ad in Sports Illustrated’s iPad App 

Specifically targets iPad owners: “Hello, iPad. Meet Evo, the first 4G phone.” Update: As Jason Snell pointed out on Twitter, they make a point of promoting the Evo’s on-the-fly Wi-Fi hotspot feature — something that pairs well with a non-3G iPad, and that the iPhone doesn’t offer.

Time Inc. Frustrated by Apple Over iPad Subscription Issue 

Peter Kafka on Time Inc.’s frustrations with the Sports Illustrated iPad app:

Last month, the publisher was set to launch a subscription version of its Sports Illustrated iPad app, where consumers would download the magazines via Apple’s iTunes but would pay Time Inc. directly. But Apple rejected the app at the last minute, forcing the Time Warner unit to sell single copies, using iTunes as a middleman, multiple sources tell me.

The problem is not as simple as Apple not allowing third-party publishers to bill users directly, without going through iTunes so that Apple gets a cut of the pie, because:

Confusing the issue even more is that Apple already allows a handful of app makers — like Amazon and the Wall Street Journal, which like this Web site is owned by News Corp. — to bill customers directly. Amazon itself, meanwhile, has been sparring with publishers over subscriptions for its Kindle platform. Jeff Bezos keeps most of the data and money that those transactions generate, too.

Here’s the difference, I think. With Amazon and the Wall Street Journal, users set up and create their accounts on the web, not within the iOS apps. The WSJ app requires a subscription that doesn’t go through iTunes, but you create, pay for, and manage that subscription on the web. Judging from Kafka’s description of the Sports Illustrated situation, it sounds like Time tried to add its own direct billing subscription system within the Sports Illustrated app itself.

(The Sports Illustrated iPad app is free, and from within the app, you can buy individual issues. Samples are free, most regular issues are $5.)

Anyway, the whole problem would just go away if Apple would spell out what the rules are for subscription publications.

Motorola Droid X Ad: ‘No Jacket Required’ 

Smart ad from Motorola — the message is that the Droid X is better than the iPhone 4, but they didn’t have to mention the iPhone by name. Maybe the biggest downside for Apple with the free cases offer is that it creates the impression that the iPhone 4 needs a case.

LG Posts Record Handset Loss 

Shinhye Kang and Seonjin Cha, reporting for Businessweek:

Losses from mobile phones totaled 120 billion won ($101 million) in the second quarter, compared with profit of 620 billion won a year earlier, Seoul-based LG said in a statement today. The loss, the division’s first in four years, was triple the size projected by the average estimate of five analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

This shows the folly of thinking “market share” is a primary concern. LG sold over 30 million handsets in the quarter — up 2 percent over last year — but lost money because most of them were cheap low-profit models.

iMac or Mac Pro? 

Marco Arment compares:

Today’s overdue Mac Pro update is a welcome change, but for a computer that’s so expensive, why not just get an iMac?

It’s a really good question.

Derek Powazek on Designing for iPad 

Derek Powazek:

I never realized how much web terminology had crept into my vocabulary. An iPad app doesn’t have pages, it has screens or views. You don’t click, you tap. You don’t scroll, you swipe. I spent much of our early meetings stumbling over my own words just to communicate the basics.

Safari Extensions Gallery 

Coincides with the release of Safari 5.0.1, which is now available through Software Update.

Dan Frakes on the Magic Trackpad 

The buttons are in the front feet underneath.

Kickstartup 

Craig Mod on his experience using Kickstarter. (I just got my copy of Art Space Tokyo, the book whose printing he funded through Kickstarter, and it’s exquisite.)

Neven Mrgan Compares the New iMac to All-in-Ones From Dell and HP 

Not the computers, but their websites.

Adam Lisagor on The Pipeline 

Really enjoyed this interview of Adam Lisagor by Dan Benjamin. Funny and very honest.

Mark Huot: ‘A Real Web Design Framework’ 

Thoughtful response to Jason Santa Maria’s plea yesterday for a new web design app; in particular, how something like Interface Builder — or at least exactly like IB — wouldn’t work for web pages.

Dell Streak Pricing: $549 Without Contract 

Question for those who think commoditization is going to to relegate iOS to a Mac-sized niche: where is the $200 Android competitor to the iPod Touch? It’s been a huge hit for three years, and still has no competition.

Apple’s Original Desktop Trackpad 

Nice catch by Simon Beckerman.

First Philly Apple Store Opens This Friday 

There are a bunch of Apple Stores in the Philly area, but this is the first in the city proper.

London Times Loses Almost 90 Percent of Online Readership 

Josh Halliday, reporting for The Guardian:

The Times has lost almost 90% of its online readership compared to February since making registration mandatory in June, calculations by the Guardian show.

Dumb.

Apple’s Magic Trackpad 

Multitouch trackpad for desktop Macs.

New $999 27-Inch LED Cinema Display 

Replaces not just the old 30-inch Cinema Display, but also the 24-inch. This will be Apple’s only standalone display going forward. Doesn’t go on sale until September, though.

New iMacs, Too 

Another SSD option:

Customers of the 27-inch iMac have the option to order a 256GB solid state drive (SSD) as a primary or secondary drive. The iMac SSD supports up to 215 MB/s data transfer rates for faster startup and application launch times.

Apple Unveils New Mac Pro With Up to 12 Processing Cores 

First update to the Mac Pro in over 500 days. Looks good. And they’re finally pitching SSDs as being faster, not just more reliable:

For the first time, Mac Pro customers have the option to order a 512GB SSD for the ultimate in reliability and lightning fast performance. With the ability to install up to four SSD drives in the system’s internal drive bays, the new Mac Pro can provide ultra high-speed disk bandwidth and random disk performance, two times faster than the average performance of a standard disk drive.

Rare Video Footage of Yours Truly Making Predictions Regarding New Products From Apple 

I missed the AA battery charger.

Yahoo Japan to Adopt Google’s Search Engine 

Reuters:

Yahoo Japan, Japan’s biggest Internet portal operator, said on Tuesday it will adopt U.S. rival Google Inc’s search engine and advertisement delivery system and provide Google with its data.

Not exactly a team player, I guess.

Settling Scores With MLB At Bat 

Speaking of Khoi Vinh, I’ll ditto his complaint about the excellent MLB At Bat app for the iPad: the “Condensed Game” videos are terrific, but they’re very difficult to access without spoiling the final score of the game.

A Real Web Design Application 

Jason Santa Maria on how he designs websites, and what he craves in a new design app:

I’m asking for something that sits on the fence between all of this. I don’t think any of the current desktop apps or any given browser gets the job done. They all do a pretty good job at a few things, but no single one does well enough to really make it a solid prospect.

Free Registration for Macworld Expo 2011 Ends in a Few Hours 

Get in while the getting’s good.

The Laff Box 

Fascinating interview by Mike Sacks with Ben Glenn II, a TV historian and perhaps the world’s preeminent expert on the laugh track. (Via Liz Danzico.)

The Deck 

Ever wonder how to get a display ad on Daring Fireball? There’s only one way: The Deck, the web’s best ad network.

Update: And it just got better: Khoi Vinh’s Subtraction is back in The Deck, starting next week.

Carl Howe Sets the Record Straight on That Survey Regarding iPhone and Android Customer Satisfaction 

Remember that link Friday about the survey that showed a startling difference in iPhone and Android customer satisfaction? Not so fast. Yes, 77 percent of iPhone owners plan to buy another iPhone. But, as Howe (the analyst who wrote the report) explains, their Android numbers were specific to owners of “Google-branded” phones:

You’ll note in the excerpt above, we were careful to say “Google-branded Android phone owners”. That’s because our data keys on the manufacturer of the phone as the way to determine what type of phone a consumer owns. Because all non-Google Android brands make phones using other operating systems, Google-branded phones are the only ones we can be certain run Android. However, restricting ourselves to that category means that we leave out a big segment of Android owners, specifically those who own Motorola Droids and HTC EVOs among others.

The only Google-branded phones are the Nexus One and the clunky 2008 G1, so the results clearly aren’t representative of Android owners in general.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Kubrick 

Maybe The Shining tonight, to celebrate.

The Ins-N-Outs of an in-N-Out Double-Double, Animal-Style 

J. Kenji Lopez-Alt’s obsessively detailed deconstruction of the In-N-Out Animal Style Double-Double hamburger. Consider it a sequel to his research on perfect McDonald’s-style french fries from a few months ago. (Via Kottke.)

The Talk Show Returns 

My pal Dan Benjamin is off the sauce and we’re celebrating by putting our podcast back on the air, on a weekly schedule. Listen live this Wednesday at 1pm ET. We’ll have much to talk about, what with the new Mac Pros (finally, right?), speed-bump iMacs, and the gorgeous new 16:9 27-inch Cinema Display that Apple might hypothetically release tomorrow.

Update: Doubly-hypothetical, but who knows, maybe even that desktop multitouch trackpad device I first mentioned last October, too.

Reviving Caslon 

William Berkson, on creating a new revival of William Caslon’s 18th century typefaces:

To go back to the analogy of the performance of an old song or old music score, the situation reminds me of what Ira Gershwin said when he heard Ella Fitzgerald’s recording of the Gershwin song book. “I never knew we were so good until I heard Ella sing our songs.”

Here’s the ruling itself from the Librarian of Congress. This is good news, but I don’t think there will be much of a practical effect — just because it’s legal doesn’t mean Apple must support it.

Ostrich 

Free Safari extension Twitter client by Jérôme Gravel-Niquet.

Update: The website is flaking in and out; here’s a cached version in case you need it.

The War Logs 

Series of articles from The New York Times on material from a WikiLeaks archive of military documents regarding the U.S. war in Afghanistan.

An Analysis of Lightroom JPEG Export Quality Settings 

Great research and analysis from Jeffrey Friedl. Must-read for any Lightroom user.

Terminal Tips and Tricks for Mac OS X 

Great collection of command-line tips from Super User.

Japanese Author Ryu Murakami Skirts Publishers With iPad Novel 

Yoree Koh:

Ever since the arrival of the slim and snazzy electronic book devices, the magnates of the traditional publishing industry have feared the worst: that precious big-name authors might sign directly with e-book retailers, relegating the old-school publishers as the dispensable middleman.

Let the nightmare begin. Novelist Ryu Murakami plans to release his latest novel exclusively for digital bookworms through Apple Inc.’s iPad ahead of the print version.

According to an update at the end of the story, Murakami doesn’t even have a deal for the hardcover rights yet. Pure digital at this point.

The article doesn’t make clear that Murakami’s novel, A Singing Whale, is an iPad app, not an e-book in the iBookstore.

John Naughton: ‘If Apple Wants to Be a Major Player It Needs to Start Behaving Like One’ 

Apple’s response to Antennagate certainly was not above criticism. I, for example, think Apple gambled unnecessarily by mixing in media criticism (however warranted said criticism was) with its defense of the iPhone 4 antenna. But what exactly does Naughton think Apple should have done differently? What are the negative consequences they’ll face from the way they handled Antennagate? He doesn’t say.

And anyone who thinks now that Apple is a big company that they should start acting and behaving more like other typical companies — well, they’re going to be disappointed. I’m not sure there are any companies that reach this size that are “typical”, anyway. Microsoft, Intel, Google — all very distinctive, even idiosyncratic.

AnandTech Reviews the Motorola Droid X 

Detailed and highly technical review of the Droid X, by Brian Klug and Anand Lal Shimpi. In a nut:

If you’re on Verizon and prefer the larger screen, the Droid X takes our pick for the best Android phone on the market today.

Apple Posts Video Showing Droid X Signal Drop 

Interesting, too, that Apple has its own YouTube channel.

ReadMore 

My thanks to Navel Labs for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote ReadMore. ReadMore is an iPhone app that works as a reading log — a diary of your reading habits and a motivational aid to get through more books. It tracks your reading sessions, holds your notes, and gently prods you to, well, read more. Think of it as Nike Plus for reading. And: it looks great.

Check out the demo video on the website to see how it works. Buy ReadMore on the App Store for just $2.

iPhone and Android Customer Satisfaction 

CNN buried the most interesting tidbit in this piece on the results of a Yankee Group survey:

77% of iPhone owners say they’ll buy another iPhone, compared to 20% of Android customers who say they’ll buy another Android phone.

That’s incredible, if accurate.

Update, 26 July 2010: It’s not accurate; see Carl Howe’s explanation for details.

Sean Dunne Interview With Keir Dullea on ‘2001’ 

“He said, ‘You’ve just been offered the lead in Stanley Kubrick’s next film.’”

What Happened to HyperCard 3.0? 

Geoff Duncan, writing for TidBITS back in 1998:

Apple already had a scripting language and authoring tool in HyperCard, and it was soon a done deal. HyperCard 3.0 would be re-implemented on top of QuickTime using QuickTime data formats, turning HyperCard 3.0 into an editor for interactive QuickTime movies. Projects authored in HyperCard would inherit all of QuickTime’s color capabilities and would work in any application — and on any platform — that supported QuickTime. The beleaguered, enervated HyperCard group became part of the high-profile, well-funded QuickTime group, and HyperCard aficionados rejoiced.

That HyperCard 3.0 existed and was built entirely on top of QuickTime is not a rumor. Apple was a very different company in the ’90s, and they showed development versions of HyperCard 3.0 in public several times. But then it was killed. Here’s a discussion thread on MacInTouch from 2002 wherein several people claim HyperCard 3.0 was “Steved” — that Jobs killed it because he “thought you could do everything in Cocoa and ProjectBuilder that you could do with HyperCard.”

That’s one explanation. But I’ve also heard stories that Macromedia pressured Apple to kill it — more or less telling Apple that if they shipped HyperCard 3.0, Macromedia would drop support for the Mac OS from Shockwave and, yes, Flash. If any readers out there know more about this story, I’d love to hear it. Confidentiality guaranteed.

Update: Two little birdies with good memories — and, as they say, familiarity with the matter — have written to state that it was killed simply as part of 1998 Apple’s belt-tightening refocusing of the company on core, essential products and technology. And one suggested that HyperCard 3.0 wasn’t nearly as close to being ready to ship as some reports suggested.

iOS 4.0 Performance on iPhone 3G 

It’s a lot funnier if you have an iPhone 3GS or 4.

Update: Several readers who’ve experienced this claim that a DFU restore helps significantly.

Verizon Quarterly Results 

Strong quarter, but they don’t break out how many Droids they activated. (AT&T said they activated 3.2 million iPhones.)

Will It Optimize? 

Another splendidly intricate post from Peter Ammon. Only of interest if you enjoy puzzles on GCC optimizations.

Joshua Topolsky’s Windows Phone 7 Hands-On Preview 

Based on a preview hardware unit from Samsung. Looks good, actually. The only serious problem they have is that they’re so far behind.

The Apache-Apple Event Bridge (AAEB) 

David Dantowitz:

The Apache-Apple Event Bridge or AAEB enables you to run AppleScripts via Apache on Mac OS X 10.4, 10.5, and 10.6 (both client and Mac OS X Server).

The Web’s Five Most Endangered Words 

Dave Pell:

The new national pastime: Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and making determinations and judgments without a full set of facts.

Electronista: ‘Microsoft Hopes Employees Will Write WP7 Apps in Spare Time’ 

Headline of the day.

White iPhone 4 Delayed Again 

Apple:

White models of Apple’s new iPhone 4 have continued to be more challenging to manufacture than we originally expected, and as a result they will not be available until later this year. The availability of the more popular iPhone 4 black models is not affected.

Every smartphone maker has trouble manufacturing white ones. It’s an industry-wide problem.

Nokia Profit Falls 

Sales are up 1 percent, but profit is down 64 percent.

Free iPhone 4 Case Program Starts 

Chris Foresman:

For current iPhone 4 users who want a new Bumper or other case, you’ll have to download the iPhone 4 Case Program app from the App Store. When the app launches, you sign in with your Apple ID, and you’ll be presented with a selection of cases to choose from. Currently you can choose either a black Bumper or one of seven cases from InCase, Belkin, Griffin, and Speck.

Doing it through an app is a clever idea. Also interesting: only the black bumper is available through this program.

HP Slate No Longer a Consumer Product, Supposedly Set to Arrive for Enterprise This Fall 

Good idea to unveil it at the year’s biggest consumer electronics show.

Farhad Manjoo on Call Drop Rates 

Farhad Manjoo:

The carriers constantly measure how well specific devices perform on their networks, and they send detailed dropped-call information to the manufacturers. But neither the phone makers nor the carriers want to make that data public — and they won’t say why, either.

College Humor Spoofs Apple’s Antennagate Press Conference 

The “here’s how you should hold it” bit says it all.

Amazon Quarterly Results 

Revenue and net income are up, but it sounds to me like they’re trying to position Kindle as a software platform rather than a hardware one:

“We’re seeing rapid growth in Kindle, Amazon Web Services, third-party sales, and retail. We’re also encouraged by what we see in mobile. In the last twelve months, customers around the world have ordered more than $1 billion of products from Amazon using a mobile device,” said Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com. “The leading mobile commerce device today is the smartphone, but we’re excited by the potential of the new category of wireless tablet computers. Over time, tablet computers could become a meaningful additional driver for our business.”

Amazon stock is way down in after-hours trading. Update: Perhaps the stock hit is because despite revenue being up, they missed their EPS estimate by $0.08?

Microsoft’s Record Q4 Earnings Keeps Revenue Ahead of Apple 

MG Siegler:

Microsoft has just reported its earnings for Q4 2010 (their fiscal calendar is a bit odd). Given Apple’s blockbuster quarter announced on Tuesday, there was a lot of talk that Apple would surpass Microsoft in revenue for the first time in recent history. That hasn’t happened. Instead, Microsoft had its best Q4 ever with $16.04 billion in revenue (Apple had $15.7 billion in revenue last quarter).

Android 2.2 Handily Beats iOS4 in JavaScript Benchmarks 

Pretty dramatic performance difference. I think Android 2.2’s JavaScript performance gains are from JIT compilation, which isn’t possible under iOS 4.0 because of a security feature where once a page in memory is marked writeable, it can never be made executable. It’s a nice security feature, but one that comes at the expense of significant potential performance gains.

Motorola’s Attention to Detail on the Droid X 

This might epitomize the difference between Android and iOS.

Portrait of Bill Atkinson 

Made, of course, using MacPaint.

The Ever-Arrogant Apple 

Ken Segall:

How dare Apple think they can make this problem go away with a free case that makes the problem go away. […] Look what they’ve done to poor Adobe, yanking away their right to spend more than 3 years figuring out how to run Flash on mobile devices.

(Via Faruk Ateş.)

Android in China 

Ryan Paul:

That is exactly what the Chinese mobile industry is doing with OPhone. They are creating a completely distinct third-party Android software ecosystem that is independent from Google and they are building a heavily-customized userspace stack that integrates with completely different Web services and allows them to deliver the kind of user experience that they want.

In effect, they are using Android—but not Google’s Android. They don’t need Google’s Android Market and they aren’t necessarily integrating with Google’s search or other services. When you think about it in those terms, it makes Android’s ascent towards dominance in Asia seem like a hollow victory for Google.

Wired: ‘Bloatware Creeps Into Android Phones’ 

Priya Ganapati:

Samsung’s Vibrant phone that launched last week on T-Mobile is a good example. The device includes apps such as Mobi TV, GoGo Flight internet and Electronic Arts’ The Sims 3 game. Both Mobi TV and GoGo are applications that require users to pay a fee beyond the trial period. Motorola’s Backflip phone, introduced on AT&T a few months ago, includes Where, a location-based service app, and YPMobile, a Yellow Pages app. Even the HTC Evo is packed with programs such as Sprint’s Nascar app, Sprint Football and Sprint TV, among others.

It seems more clear now why Google made the Nexus One: it’s hard to get a phone with the default Android OS. It also seems clear that Android’s openness is largely about being open to the carriers’ ability to customize the user experience. The difference between Android and iOS isn’t that Android comes with undeletable default apps and iOS doesn’t. Lots of iPhone users wish they could get rid of apps like Stocks and Weather. The difference is who gets to decide on those default apps. With iOS, it’s Apple. With the Nexus One, it was Google. With these new Android phones, it’s the carriers.

The ABC News App for iPad 

They brought out the big guns for the commercial. Not so sure about that “globe” UI, though.

Oil Spill in Dalian, China 

Horrifying photos from The Big Picture.

BP Cleanup Workers Gone Wild 

Great reporting from Mac McClelland.

Skype for iPhone Now Supports Multitasking and No-Charge Calls Over 3G 

They had been planning to charge for calls over 3G.

Henry Blodget’s Kids Are Addicted to Their iPad 

Henry Blodget:

Again, a month after we bought it, the iPad has become so central to our household that we have to hide it.  And in relatively short order, to preserve my family harmony, I’m probably going to have to buy two more of the damn things.

Makes you wonder how the iPad is going to do in the holiday quarter.

Legendary Dallas Cowboys Coach Jimmy Johnson to Be a Contestant on ‘Survivor: Nicaragua’ 

Not like a celebrity edition of Survivor; regular Survivor. Holy shit.

Zaky: Apple to Surpass Microsoft in Revenue This Quarter 

Andy Zaky:

In fact, when Microsoft reports second quarter calendar results after the bell this afternoon, its likely that Apple will have surpassed Microsoft in revenue for the first time in the company’s recent history — and that it will continue to do so in the future. Apple reported $3.25 billion in net income ($3.51) on a whopping $15.7 billion in revenue on Tuesday, smashing analyst expectations, and reporting more or less in line with my forecast.

Microsoft, on the other hand, is expected to earn $4.1 billion in net income ($0.46 in EPS) on $15.26 billion in revenue when it releases results after the bell today. That is nearly $500 million less than what Apple reported in revenue this quarter.

Apple passed Microsoft in market cap a few months ago, and now revenue this quarter. The big one is net income — profit — and it’s looking like that might happen within the next year.

Microsoft’s Innovative New On/Off Slider Checkbox Controls 

Innovative stuff. (Scroll down to the second screenshot.) Also looks like they’ve switched to hierarchy disclosure triangles instead of those asinine +/- toggles they’ve been using for decades.

Sledgehammer and Whore 

Great story from a TV screenwriter. (Via Andy Baio.)

Apple vs. the Rest of the Cell Phone Industry 

According to Goldman Sachs, Apple makes more profit from mobile phone sales than the entire rest of the industry combined.

Update: Actually, it doesn’t appear to be the entire industry — just RIM, Motorola, Nokia, HTC, and Sony Ericsson. So the list doesn’t include Samsung and LG. But still: striking.

The Top Idea in Your Mind 

Fascinating insight from Paul Graham on ideas and the act of thinking. Very true for me.

Apple Revenue by Product Segment 

That pink triangle for the iPad is rather amazing — it’s already bigger than the iPod, and the iPod segment includes the iPod Touch. Update: An alternative view on the same data from Macworld.

Who’d Win in a Fight, Batman or a Shark? 

I think this is the clip from the next Christopher Nolan movie they’re showing at ComicCon.

AT&T Spokesperson in May: 1.44 Percent Dropped Call Rate Nationwide 

Responding to a local TV report polling users to report their own dropped call rate on the major US cell networks, an AT&T spokesperson responded:

Statistically valid drive test shows the AT&T network continues to deliver the nation’s fastest 3G network and near best-in-class call retainability nationwide. AT&T’s network dropped only 1.44 percent of calls nationwide, within two-tenths of 1 percent of the industry leader and a difference of less than two calls out of 1,000.

That’s from May, this year. But it’s not specific to 3G, and not specific to the iPhone. For all we know, the iPhone 3GS is far better or worse than AT&T’s overall average. The other thing that’s interesting is that this 1.44 percent number comes from a “statistically valid drive test” — according to Steve Jobs last week, AT&T logs all dropped calls, so they should be able to state their actual dropped call rate, not just the rate from a “drive test”. One can only presume their actual dropped call rate is at least a bit higher than this 1.44 percent rate.

Update: On the other hand, a couple of readers suggest that drive tests are actually a better gauge, at least if you’re trying to judge the network itself. They isolate the test from problems that might be from the phones. So I think this 1.44 percent number might be a good baseline for judging phones on AT&T’s network.

BBC News: Do Typefaces Really Matter? 

Tom de Castella:

Selecting a font is like getting dressed, Ms Strawson says. Just as one chooses an outfit according to the occasion, one decides on a font according to the kind of message you are seeking to convey.

So the knock against e-books, in my opinion, is that they’re not carefully dressed like print books are. They’re wearing generic uniforms.

AT&T’s 3G Dropped Call Rate: 0.91 Percent (PDF) 

On slide 11 from AT&T’s Q4 2009 financial results presentation, they claim a dropped call rate for 3G calls of 0.91 percent for December 2009, down from 1.18 percent the year prior. We don’t know whether the iPhone 3GS already exceeded this average, though.

Help Menu Search as Shortcut Button 

Great tip from Mark Dalrymple: instead of remembering keyboard shortcuts for dozens of different menu items, just use the Help menu (Command-/) and start typing the name of the menu item you want. Sort of like LaunchBar for menu items.

Update: Ends up the standard shortcut is Command-Shift-/, not plain Command-/. (It’s like Command-?, get it?) I’ve been using this technique ever since the search field appeared in the Help menu, and long ago changed my system-wide Help Menu shortcut to Command-/ to make it easier to type. (You can change it, or any keyboard shortcut, in the Keyboard panel of System Preferences.)

Doesn’t Sound Smart to Me 

Donald Melanson for Engadget:

The latest addition was revealed in Australia by Toshiba’s Mark Whittard, who showed off a prototype of a so-called “Smart Pad” tablet but unfortunately revealed few details about it. He did say that it would have both HDMI and USB connectivity, however, and that it could run either Android or Windows 7 — Toshiba apparently hasn’t decided which, though. There’s no indication of a price either, but Whittard says Toshiba is looking to launch it “before October.”

So it’s launching in three months and they don’t know what the OS is yet?

Macworld’s Live Coverage of Apple’s Quarterly Finance Call 

Tim Cook has reiterated several times that Apple is selling both the iPhone 4 and iPad as fast as it can make them. They can’t make either of them fast enough to meet demand.

Apple Reports Third Quarter Results 

Apple:

The Company posted record revenue of $15.7 billion and net quarterly profit of $3.25 billion, or $3.51 per diluted share. These results compare to revenue of $9.73 billion and net quarterly profit of $1.83 billion, or $2.01 per diluted share, in the year-ago quarter. […]

Apple sold 3.47 million Macs during the quarter, representing a new quarterly record and a 33 percent unit increase over the year-ago quarter. The Company sold 8.4 million iPhones in the quarter, representing 61 percent unit growth over the year-ago quarter. Apple sold 9.41 million iPods during the quarter, representing an eight percent unit decline from the year-ago quarter. The Company began selling iPads during the quarter, with total sales of 3.27 million.

Andy Zaky did pretty well in his predictions.

Dan Fierman Interviews Bill Murray 

Bill Murray:

I have developed a kind of different style over the years. I hate trying to re-create a tone or a pitch. Saying, “I want to make it sound like I made it sound the last time”? That’s insane, because the last time doesn’t exist. It’s only this time. And everything is going to be different this time. There’s only now. And I don’t think a director, as often as not, knows what is going to play funny anyway. As often as not, the right one is the one that they’re surprised by, so I don’t think that they have the right tone in their head. And I think that good actors always — or if you’re being good, anyway — you’re making it better than the script. That’s your fucking job. It’s like, Okay, the script says this? Well, watch this. Let’s just roar a little bit. Let’s see how high we can go.

Curious Use of the Present Tense 

Netbook News reports: “ASUS EP101TC Now Shipping With Android”; where by “now shipping” they mean “set to ship in January” — and where by “with Android” they mean “not with Windows CE”.

(You can see the same mockup of the Eee Pad on this slide from Steve Ballmer’s presentation at Microsoft’s Worldwide Partners Conference just a week ago. How many Windows tablets is Ballmer going to promote that never wind up shipping with Windows?)

John Paczkowski on Friday’s Secret Antenna Test Lab Tour 

John Paczkowski:

Smartphone antenna design requires compromises. The trouble is, the public doesn’t expect compromises from Apple.

MacPaint and QuickDraw Source Code 

The Computer History Museum:

For those who want to see how it worked “under the hood”, we are pleased, with the permission of Apple Inc., to make available the original program source code of MacPaint and the underlying QuickDraw graphics library.

The crown jewels of the original Macintosh: the most amazing part of the system software and the best app. I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say that QuickDraw’s source code was the most valuable in the world.

Love this anecdote about Bill Atkinson:

A reporter asked Steve Jobs, “How many man-years did it take to write QuickDraw?” Steve asked Bill, who said, “Well, I worked on it on and off for four years.” Steve then told the reporter, “Twenty-four man-years”. Obviously Steve figured, with ample justification, that one Atkinson year was the equivalent of six ordinary programmer years.

Impressions by Kevin Spacey 

The Pacino is killer. (Via Coudal.)

Reddit on Third-Party Web Traffic Numbers 

Compete, Alexa, Quantcast — they’re all bullshit.

‘Inevitable’ 

Leander Kahney, seven days ago:

Apple will be forced to recall the iPhone 4 following Consumer Reports tests proving the “Death Grip” antenna issue is not software related, but a hardware flaw, PR experts say.

“Apple will be forced to do a recall of this product,” said Professor Matthew Seeger, an expert in crisis communication. “It’s critically important. The brand image is the most important thing Apple has. This is potentially devastating.”

Great call.

Don’t Hold It Wrong 

“Mobile phone manuals that describe where not to hold the devices”, collected by David Chartier.

Samsung Galaxy S Attenuation 

But I thought only the iPhone 4 suffered from attenuation with a finger touch on the wrong spot?

Scott Adams on Antennagate and the ‘High Ground Maneuver’ 

Scott Adams, unlike many others, thinks Jobs’s handling of the press conference was genius:

If Jobs had not changed the context from the iPhone 4 in particular to all smartphones in general, I could make you a hilarious comic strip about a product so poorly made that it won’t work if it comes in contact with a human hand. But as soon as the context is changed to “all smartphones have problems,” the humor opportunity is gone. Nothing kills humor like a general and boring truth.

The single biggest problem Apple faced last week — the only reason Apple responded at all, let alone with a major press event — is that their flagship product was being subject to ridicule. Ridicule is powerful, and difficult to deflect. It was the “look at the similar problem with these other phones” demonstration that deflected the ridicule. (That, along with the iOS 4.0.1 update which rejiggered the bar-display algorithm such that a finger on the spot no longer made more than one or two bars go away.)

‘I’m Going to Go Call Ralph and Yell at Him.’ 

Fascinating piece by Fred Vogelstein for Wired magazine on the Apple-AT&T relationship:

In a bid to avert the looming problem, a team headed by senior vice president Kris Rinne met with Apple to ask for help. Of course AT&T was planning to upgrade its network to handle the increased demand, Rinne’s team told Apple executives, but that was going to take years. In the meantime, would Apple take measures to help throttle back the traffic? Perhaps Apple could restrict its YouTube app to run only over Wi-Fi. Maybe the iPhone could feature a smaller, lower-resolution videostream or cut off YouTube videos after one minute. Rinne, who had already met with Apple’s iPhone team at least half a dozen times, fully expected the company to play along. After all, manufacturers agreed to such restrictions all the time. It didn’t make sense to build phones and offer features that carriers couldn’t support.

But in meetings with Apple engineers and marketers over the subsequent year, Rinne and other AT&T executives discovered that Apple wasn’t playing by traditional wireless rules. It wasn’t interested in cooperating, especially if it meant hobbling what had quickly become its marquee product. For Apple, the idea of restricting the iPhone was akin to asking Steve Jobs to ditch the black turtleneck. “They tried to have that conversation with us a number of times,” says someone from Apple who was in the meetings. “We consistently said ‘No, we are not going to mess up the consumer experience on the iPhone to make your network tenable.’ They’d always end up saying, ‘We’re going to have to escalate this to senior AT&T executives,’ and we always said, ‘Fine, we’ll escalate it to Steve and see who wins.’ I think history has demonstrated how that turned out.”

And:

They have even fought about wardrobe: When an AT&T representative suggested to one of Jobs’ deputies that the Apple CEO wear a suit to meet with AT&T’s board of directors, he was told, “We’re Apple. We don’t wear suits. We don’t even own suits.”

Jean-Louis Gassée on Antennagate 

Jean-Louis Gassée on how Jobs could have headed off Antennagate with a slightly different pitch at the iPhone 4’s WWDC keynote unveiling:

Jobs stops… and after a slightly pregnant pause, continues: The improved reception comes at a price. If you hold the iPhone like this, if your hand or finger bridges the lower-left gap between the two antennae, the signal strength indicator will go down by two or even three bars. He proceeds to demo the phenomenon. Indeed, within ten seconds of putting the heel of his left thumb on the gap, the iPhone loses two bars. Just to make sure, he repeats the experiment with his index finger, all the while making a live call to show how the connection isn’t killed.

It’s a trade-off: Better reception in the vast majority of cases; some degradation, easily remedied, in a smaller set of circumstances.

As I wrote Saturday, “trade-off” was the missing word from Apple’s press conference.

Gassée also makes some astute points about the tone of Jobs’s ad hoc customer support emails. It’s endearing, in a way, that Jobs is so honest in them, but Gassée makes the case that “the customer is always right” makes for a better response than “honesty is the best policy”:

When Dear Customer calls, “Canon Law” dictates the first words out of my mouth: ‘This is terrible, how could we have let this happen to you!’. This forces the caller to concede: ‘Well, it’s not the end of the world, I just would like to…’ A cooperative conversation ensues.

However, if I argue that it isn’t the end of civilization, civility goes out the window. Dear Customer feels disrespected and insists things are awful.

Benjamin Secher Interviews Penn and Teller 

Penn Jillette:

In Vegas, our investors don’t give a fuck about us. The people who are our bosses see our show maybe once a year. One of them will bring their kids and come by. And they are pleasant and they love us and they sincerely enjoy the show. Then they leave and they don’t think about us. And because nobody’s paying attention we do exactly the show we want. As long as people come to see it nobody cares what we do. And it means that we have done wilder things and more new stuff here than we ever did in New York. The contract is 100 per cent between us and the audience. And that’s crazy.

Artistic control. I can’t recommend their show highly enough.

(Via Kottke.)

Google’s Last Shipment of Nexus Ones 

Google:

Earlier this year, we announced that we will be closing the Nexus One web store. This week we received our last shipment of Nexus One phones. Once we sell these devices, the Nexus One will no longer be available online from Google.

It was also earlier this year that the Nexus One was introduced in the first place. Here’s the list of Android phones you can buy today other than the Nexus One which support Android version 2.2: {}.

Taiwanese News Animated Recreation of Antennagate Saga 

This is the best thing you’ll see all day. Brilliant.

Curiously, Consumer Reports’s list of “Recommended” smartphones includes all of the smartphones suffering from “holding it wrong” attenuation I’ve linked to tonight (Palm Pre, HTC Incredible, Nexus One, BlackBerry 9650) as well as three of the phones Apple posted videos about (iPhone 3GS, Droid Eris, BlackBerry 9700). I’d link directly to Consumer Reports’s web page for this list, but can’t, because it’s behind a paywall that their coverage of the iPhone 4 antenna is not. I’m sure they’ve been performing the exact same attenuation testing with all of these phones that they have with the iPhone 4, and that they have published precise technical standards regarding how much attenuation is acceptable to still qualify for a “Recommended” rating.

My next payola check from Apple is going to be a doozy.

Screenshot of Page 13 From the HTC Droid Eris User Manual 

See for yourself here.

Palm Pre Attenuation 

Another check from Apple came in, so I’m posting another video of a competing smartphone that loses its signal when “held wrong”.

Droid Incredible Attenuation 

My linking to these videos proves that I’m a hack on Apple’s payroll.

Brad Stone Leaves New York Times for Bloomberg BusinessWeek 

It says something about the shifting pecking order that Stone would leave The Times. The thing about Bloomberg is that they’ve always understood that their product was information. Not any specific format — like, say, a printed newspaper, or a proprietary trader-desk terminal — but the information itself.

New Tron iPhone Game (iTunes Link) 

Free game from Disney. I love the description.

Can’t find the Android version yet; will post a link when I do.

Nexus One Attenuation 

Remember the press conference Google held back in February after videos like this were posted online? Good times.

But I Thought the RIM CEOs Said It Was Unacceptable to Claim Their Phones Suffer From Attenuation? 

Boy Genius:

Here is a handset that Apple didn’t specifically call out, the Verizon BlackBerry Bold 9650, and you can see it takes a nice hit when we hold it pretty firm in our hands. I’m pretty sure this has always happened, but I’m not sure I noticed until now. Plus it’s on Verizon.

FaceTime With Philippe Kahn in the Middle of the Pacific Ocean 

1,000 miles from land.

‘Bars’ as a Unit of Measure 

Aaron Swartz:

If, on the other models they compared the iPhone 4 against, they had shown the actual dBm (the generally-accepted measure of signal strength) lost by “holding it wrong,” we could have fairly compared their issues to the iPhone 4’s. But instead of having a debate about signal lost — the real issue for users — Apple has consistently tried to distract people with the issue of bars shown.

This can’t be an accident. Those advanced phone testing facilities must keep full track of actual dBm — it would be ridiculous to try to test a phone based on how many “bars” it had — yet, even after a talk supposedly about “hard data,” Apple still hasn’t once shown us a real dBm number on any phone!

Astute point. So, why omit precise data? Could be that the dBm numbers make the iPhone 4 look bad. Could be that Apple felt they should talk and show “bars”, arbitrary nonsense though they are, because “bars” are what people think is the actual metric. Could be that a precise fair dBm comparison between these three or four phones would have taken a week or longer, and they didn’t want to wait for that because this was a PR fire. (Based on what we were told during the lab tour yesterday, it really might take several full days to accurately measure the antenna of a single device. Several individual tests run for 24 hours each.)

Three million and counting iPhone 4 users seem happy, or at least satisfied, with the device’s reception, so I don’t think Apple is hiding anything truly bad here. But because there was no discussion of actual signal strength numbers, we do not know.

(Swartz’s comparison of Steve Jobs to Richard Nixon strikes me as a little overwrought, to say the least.)

Nokia: ‘We Prioritize Antenna Performance Over Physical Design if They Are Ever in Conflict’ 

Judging by how their phones look, must be a lot of conflicts.

Consumer Reports Still Won’t Recommend iPhone 4 

They want Apple to do a little dance while they give away free iPhone cases.

Pre-Installed Android Apps 

The LA Times:

The Droid X comes loaded with several nonstandard applications for Google’s Android, most of which cannot be removed. Among the phone’s so-called junkware is a Blockbuster video app and a demo for an Electronic Arts game called Need for Speed: Shift.

You can’t remove them because Android is open.

Matt Buchanan on the Droid X 

Matt Buchanan:

As a pure expression of the limits of mobile hardware and industrial design, the Droid X is kind of a beautiful thing. But that’s about the only good thing about the Droid X.

The software — a discordant melange of the not-so-fresh Android 2.1 and various bits of the Blur “social networking” interface from Motorola’s lower-end Android phones — is the shudder-inducing poster child for the horrors that can occur when most hardware companies try to make software. It’s ugly, scattershot, and confusing. It feels almost malicious.

Sounds great.

RIM Statement on Antenna Attenuation 

RIM co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie:

Apple’s attempt to draw RIM into Apple’s self-made debacle is unacceptable. Apple’s claims about RIM products appear to be deliberate attempts to distort the public’s understanding of an antenna design issue and to deflect attention from Apple’s difficult situation.

Sounds angry, but I don’t see what exactly was “distorted”.

John Siracusa on the Unanswered Questions From Apple’s Antennapalooza 

I don’t think there’s even a question that the iPhone 4, because of its external antenna, is susceptible to a different type of signal attenuation than all phones with internal antennas. To drop the signal with other phones, including the iPhone 3GS, you have to grip them such that your palm is interfering with the antenna. The iPhone 4 is susceptible to this too, but also susceptible — sometimes — to attenuation from the light touch of any skin at all that bridges the antenna gap.

That doesn’t mean the iPhone 4 suffers from more or worse attenuation than other phones. Apple made the case that it does not. But it is different, and for whatever reason, Apple didn’t want to address that directly.

What I took away from the press conference is that Apple believes the iPhone 4 antenna is better than the previous iPhone antennas, but it has a more sensitive “weak spot”. And, that more sensitive weak spot is inherent to the external antenna design. In short, that it’s a trade-off — better signal quality overall, better aesthetics, more structural rigidity, even better battery life because there’s room for a bigger battery without an internal antenna. The trade-off is that all of those benefits come at the expense of a more sensitive “weak spot”. (I put that in quotes because it’s Jobs’s term for the infamous lower-left gap in the antenna frame.)

But Jobs never used the word “trade-off”, and clearly didn’t want to. I think he should have.

Andy Ihnatko on Antennapalooza 

Andy Ihnatko:

Steve Jobs didn’t fall to his knees, rend his garment, clap his hands together, and beg for forgiveness from users and stockholders.

This has upset many people.

These people are idiots.

‘Death Grip’ Would Be a Cool Name for Band, by the Way 

InformationWeek’s Eric Zeman on whether other phones really are easily susceptible to “death grips”:

Samsung held a huge launch event for its Galaxy S line of Android handsets in New York City a few weeks ago. During the event, Samsung’s media relations staff was sure to take some pot shots at the iPhone 4, and told me, “You can hold the Galaxy S any way you want.”

Um, not true.

iPhone 4 Proximity Sensor Fix Coming in Next Software Update, Presumably iOS 4.1 

The weirdest thing about this entire Antennagate situation is that both from my own personal experience and based on a lot of emails from iPhone 4-owning DF readers, this proximity sensor bug is causing far more actual problems than the external antenna.

TechCrunch Panel Discussion on Antennagate, Featuring Yours Truly 

Arrington had his jackass dial turned to 11, but his schtick has gotten so thick that I think it’s become sort of cute. And it actually makes for good, if not particularly elucidating, argument.

I’ve been working here at TechCrunch’s SOMA office all afternoon and evening, and I must say, they truly get the shittiest AT&T reception I’ve ever seen, even by San Francisco standards. Place is like a Faraday cage.

Apple’s Antenna Design and Test Labs 

Video from Apple showing off their remarkable wireless testing facilities. This is the lab a few of us got to tour in person after the event.

Why show this? They’re punching back, as best they can, at the accusations that the iPhone 4’s antenna was poorly or inadequately tested. The iPhone 4 antenna — “weak spot” and all — is behaving exactly as intended. It’s all right there in the first sentence on the page:

Apple never releases a product without thoroughly testing it first.

I wonder how quickly they were able to put together this video and the other assorted “antennagate” materials? Given the remarkably short notice for the press conference, I would think pretty quickly.

EleMints 

My thanks to EleMints for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. EleMints is a great periodic table app for iOS — examine all the elements and their properties through a great UI. EleMints also offers some very cool graphing features.

EleMints 2, with support for the iPhone 4 retina display and native iPad support, is coming soon. Purchase EleMints now and you’ll get a free upgrade to EleMints 2 when it ships.

Graffiti for Android 

A cool trick, but I used a Handspring Visor for like 18 months back in the day and never got the hang of Graffiti.

Dave Nanian’s Takeaway 

Dave Nanian’s tweeted summary of today’s event:

So, in sum: there is no problem, all phones have this no problem, a case fixes this no problem, free case to fix your no problem. Got it!

Twitter forces brevity, but I don’t think the “Jobs says there’s no problem with the iPhone 4 antenna” angle is fair. Jobs clearly stated that the iPhone 4’s antenna has a “weak spot”: the black antenna gap in the lower left corner. The message was that compared to previous models, the iPhone 4 antenna is better overall, but has a worse weakness. Jobs just didn’t — or couldn’t bring himself to — state it that directly, with the conjunctive “but”.

Update: Here’s a bit from Jobs taken from Josh Topolsky’s Engadget live blog coverage:

But not everyone is seeing this — a small number encounter it. For those customers we’ll get them a case, and if that doesn’t work, we’ll get them a full refund. And we’ll continue to work on antennas that don’t have this problem.

That doesn’t sound like someone arguing “there is no problem”.

Jeff Bertolucci, Marketing Genius 

Jeff Bertolucci:

Apple needs to act now. Rather than follow its annual upgrade cycle for the iPhone — a relatively leisurely pace in the mobile phone world — it must deliver a new model ASAP.

Again, the iPhone 4 has lost its cachet. It’s no longer the coolest gadget in town. People won’t swoon over your new iPhone, they’ll ask if you’re having signal problems.

So I guess that three-week wait for iPhones ordered today isn’t due to demand, and the white iPhone 4 isn’t going to sell?

This MacRumors Forum Poster Was Remarkably Prescient With His Prediction for How Today’s Event Would Go 

If anything, he made some of the same points more succinctly than did Jobs. (If you’re getting déjà vu, perhaps it’s because I linked to this on Twitter Wednesday night.)

The Bloomberg Story Steve Jobs Called ‘A Total Crock’ 

Peter Burrows and Connie Guglielmo, reporting yesterday for Bloomberg:

Last year, Ruben Caballero, a senior engineer and antenna expert, informed Apple’s management the device’s design may hurt reception, said the person, who is not authorized to speak on Apple’s behalf and asked not to be identified. A carrier partner also raised concerns about the antenna before the device’s June 24 release, according to another person familiar with the situation. […]

Apple’s industrial design team, led by Jonathan Ive, submitted several iPhone designs before Jobs and other executives settled on the bezel antenna, said the person familiar with the company’s design. Caballero, the antenna expert, voiced concern in early planning meetings that it might lead to dropped calls and presented a serious engineering challenge, the person said.

Jobs called this story “a total crock” during the Q&A, and later said he’d “asked Ruben about it, and he says it’s total bullshit too”.

But if you watch the event video or read a transcript, I think what Jobs is disputing is the angle, or at least the implied angle: that Caballero, the antenna expert, recommended against the design, and Jobs disregarded Caballero’s advice for aesthetic reasons. Clearly there are trade-offs with this new antenna. Apple is arguing that it’s better overall than previous iPhone antenna, but it has a worse “weak spot” (to use Apple’s parlance). There can be no doubt that Caballero would have made this trade-off explicitly clear to Jobs. That he “voiced concern” and said it “presented a serious engineering challenge” doesn’t mean Caballero recommended against the design.

(And, for what it’s worth, Caballero personally led the behind-the-scenes tour of Apple’s mega-millions wireless testing lab that Apple offered about a dozen members of the press after the event.)

The New York Times Story Scott Forstall Called ‘Patently False’ 

Miguel Helft, reporting yesterday for The New York Times:

One person with direct knowledge of the phone’s design said Thursday that the iPhone 4 exposed a longstanding weakness in the basic communications software inside Apple’s phones and that the reception problems were not caused by an isolated hardware flaw.

Instead, the problems emerged in the complex interaction between specialized communications software and the antenna, said the person, who agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter.

The person said the problems were longstanding but had been exposed by the design of the iPhone 4. All cellphones can be affected by the way a hand grips the phone, but well-designed communications software compensates for a variety of external factors and prevents calls from dropping, the person said.

Engadget’s Josh Topolsky asked about this NYT story during the Q&A, and Scott Forstall said the above quoted portion regarding a latent baseband bug having been triggered by the iPhone 4 design was “patently false”. But Forstall also made clear that Apple continually works on the tuning of their baseband software, so future software updates could improve iPhone 4 reception. What’s not true, according to Forstall, is that the iPhone 4’s antenna design uncovered latent longstanding problems in the baseband.

Apple’s ‘Smartphone Antenna Performance’ Page 

Part of Apple’s defense is their argument that most other smartphones can lose signal strength when held in certain ways, and they’ve shot videos of a bunch of smartphones losing bars when being “held wrong”. They showed three of these videos during the press conference today: the BlackBerry Bold 9700, HTC Droid Eris, and Samsung Omnia II.

What’s interesting to me is that on the web page, they’ve also included a video of the iPhone 3GS losing two bars (on the new iOS 4.0.1 bar scale) when held wrong — the same loss of bars as the iPhone 4. They didn’t include the 3GS video in the presentation, but should have.

Apple Posts Video From Today’s Press Conference 

Alas, it omits the Q&A segment, as usual. Worth watching, though. Jobs’s tone was very telling. And whatever you do, don’t get talked into a drinking game involving Jobs saying “hard data”.

Surprise, Surprise 

Gawker steals content. Film at 11.

Senator Chuck Schumer’s Open Letter to Steve Jobs Regarding the iPhone 4 Antenna 

Grandstanding — but it goes to show how this saga was (is?) spiraling out of control.

WSJ: Apple Won’t Recall iPhone 4 

Apple, adjusting expectations for tomorrow.

Anandtech on the Signal Strength Indicator Changes in iOS 4.0.1 

The most you should lose now, due to “holding it wrong”, is two bars.

Mike Arrington on Consumer Reports’s Erratic iPhone 4 Coverage 

Keep in mind that Arrington doesn’t use an iPhone anymore and recommends all iPhone users switch to Android.

How MG Siegler Thinks the iPhone 4 Press Conference Is Going to Play Out 

MG Siegler:

My sense is that the main idea behind this event is to get a bunch of big publications and other key Apple influencers into a room to go over the iPhone 4 antenna issue once and for all. I have little doubt that Apple CEO Steve Jobs himself will be leading this discussion, with other Apple executives talking as well. I also suspect we may see some antenna and wireless industry experts to offer their insights as well.

I was thinking the same thing yesterday, but I now have a hunch it’s going to be more — maybe a lot more — than just a defense of the iPhone 4 antenna. Sounds crazy, I know, but I think something big, or at least biggish, is going down tomorrow. This is not one of those “hunches” I get where I actually know something and play coy; I could be wrong and the thing could wind up just being 20 minutes of Steve Jobs telling us “not to hold it that way, or buy a case”. I’m betting on my hunch, though, and flying out late tonight.

Verizon Says No Droid X Shortage 

Haven’t seen any photos of the customer lines going around the block yet, but I’m sure they’re coming soon.

Silicon Alley Insider Reports That Apple and RIM Tried to Buy Palm Before HP Won the Bidding War 

Dan Frommer:

RIM basically had the deal in its hands and “had to work incredibly hard to blow it,” our source recalls. RIM initially came in higher than HP, but HP upped its bid, our source says.

And:

Google, likely interested in Palm’s intellectual property, supposedly only wanted it because Google thought Apple might want it. But Google supposedly didn’t know Apple was actually bidding for Palm, so it didn’t proceed.

Apple Releases iOS 4.0.1 for iPhone; iOS 3.2.1 for iPad 

Includes the rejiggered signal strength indicator for the iPhone.

Apple to Hold Special iPhone 4 Press Conference on Friday 

Jim Dalrymple:

Apple would only say that the press conference would be regarding the iPhone 4. No other information was available when I spoke with them tonight.

Ascender Releases New OpenType Font Pack for Microsoft Office 2010 

They’re all horrendous — Comic Sans needed improved OpenType features? — but will likely prove popular with the sort of people who do “design” work using Office for Windows. (Thanks to Joe Clark.)

Billy Martin and George Steinbrenner 

“You’re hired.”

Harry McCracken on the iPhone 4 Antenna 

Harry McCracken:

All of which leads me to believe that the conventional wisdom that seems to be forming is true: The iPhone 4’s innovative antenna-wrapped-around-the-case improves reception. Except when you use the phone in an area with marginal reception, aren’t using a case, and bridge the gap in the lower left-hand corner with your hand. In that situation, it can be deadly.

Bingo — and even then, only sometimes.

Microsoft Executive Mocks iPhone 4 

Gregg Keizer:

A top Microsoft executive today compared Apple’s iPhone 4 to his own company’s problem-plagued Vista operating system.

“It looks like the iPhone 4 might be their Vista, and I’m okay with that,” said Kevin Turner, Microsoft’s chief operating officer, in a keynote speech at Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC), which runs through Thursday in Washington, D.C.

Laugh it up.

Engadget on Real-World iPhone 4 Reception 

Engadget:

What’s more, at this point Apple’s sold well over two million iPhone 4s, and we simply haven’t heard the sort of outcry from users that we’d normally hear if a product this high-profile and this popular had a showstopping defect. Honestly, it’s puzzling — we know that the phone has an antenna-related problem, but we’re simply not able to say what that issue actually means for everyday users.

So we’re doing what we can do: we’ve collected reports from every member of the Engadget staff who’s using the phone, as well as reached out to a variety of tech industry colleagues for their experiences. As you’ll see, it seems like most of our peers seem to be doing perfectly fine with their iPhone 4s, but the people who are having problems are having maddening issues in an inconsistent way.

Ed Dale on Real-World iPhone 4 Reception 

Ed Dale:

Here’s the thing, out the front of my home there is a vortex of Next G misery — every time I pull my car in front of my house for the past five years, Blackberry, Nokia, First three iPhones — the call was cut mercilessly. You could set your watch by it. Regardless of phone, on the best network in the world, my call dropped.

Enter the iPhone 4.

For the first time in four years, the call kept going

Steinbrenner Slideshow 

Great photos.

Update: And don’t forget this classic Sports Illustrated cover.

Despite ‘Don’t Buy’ Recommendation, iPhone 4 Is Consumer Reports’ Top-Rated Smartphone 

John Paczkowski:

In short, the iPhone 4 is hands-down the best smartphone available today, but Consumer Reports advises against buying it.

Seems nutty to me to give it a “don’t buy” for this single annoyance alone.

Update: A bunch of people are giving me shit on Twitter for saying this is “nutty”. What’s the sentiment behind that, though? That the iPhone 4 antenna issue is so profound, that the problems are so severe, that the iPhone 4 is a bad product (or at least a bad phone) and people shouldn’t buy it? Then how come so many iPhone 4 users love their phones? And, to the point at hand, how come it’s still Consumer Reports’ top-rated smartphone? If the problem is that bad, shouldn’t the product be poorly rated? And if it’s not that big a problem, why give it a “don’t buy”? That’s what’s nutty.

Think of it this way: if they can’t recommend their top-rated smartphone, their buying advice must be to buy a lower-rated product. What should people buy instead? An iPhone 3GS? (That’s their second-highest rated smartphone.) Sorry, but that’s nutty, because the iPhone 4 is way better — antenna attenuation when held in certain ways or not — than the 3GS.

Update 2: CR didn’t actually give the iPhone 4 a “don’t buy”, they just didn’t give it a “recommended”.

Yankees Owner George Steinbrenner Dies at 80 

He demanded perfection, and accepted nothing less than championships.

HP Hints at Flexible Displays for Palm Devices 

Sounds cool — but why not, you know, actually make them first?

Consumer Reports Won’t Recommend the iPhone 4 Over Reception Issue 

Mike Gikas:

It’s official. Consumer Reports’ engineers have just completed testing the iPhone 4, and have confirmed that there is a problem with its reception. When your finger or hand touches a spot on the phone’s lower left side—an easy thing, especially for lefties—the signal can significantly degrade enough to cause you to lose your connection altogether if you’re in an area with a weak signal. Due to this problem, we can’t recommend the iPhone 4.

Louis Gray on Switching From iPhone to Android 

Thoughtful piece, but much of it boils down to thinking that Android will be better than iOS, not that it is now.

Aron Trimble on How to Use iPhone 4 Data Plan With iPad 3G 

Not exactly convenient, but it works.

App Inventor for Android 

Google:

App Inventor is a new tool in Google Labs that makes it easy for anyone—programmers and non-programmers, professionals and students—to create mobile applications for Android-powered devices. And today, we’re extending invitations to the general public.

So has Google beaten Apple in the race for a HyperCard for mobile, or is this something less?

ESPN on Bob Sheppard 

Nice essay by Wallace Matthews, and a great video segment by Buster Olney.

App Store Password Caching 

Manton Reece, on how Mike Rohde got stuck with $190 worth of unintended in-app purchases:

It is fairly well known that after the App Store prompts for your iTunes password, you can download more apps for a certain length of time (at least a few minutes) before it requires a password again. What seemed less clear is that this applies to in-app purchases as well.

Bob Sheppard, Voice of the Yankees, Dies at 99 

The NYT:

From the last days of DiMaggio through the primes of Mantle, Berra, Jackson and Jeter, Sheppard’s precise, resonant, even Olympian elocution — he was sometimes called the Voice of God — greeted Yankee fans with the words, “Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to Yankee Stadium.”

‘It’s a Twinge in Your Heart Far More Powerful Than Memory Alone’ 

MG Siegler compares Apple’s FaceTime commercial to Don Draper’s pitch for the Kodak wheel on Mad Men.

‘There Is No Hurry. Wait and See.’ 

Larry Rohter, reporting for the NYT on Mark Twain’s unexpurgated autobiography:

Whether anguishing over American military interventions abroad or delivering jabs at Wall Street tycoons, this Twain is strikingly contemporary. Though the autobiography also contains its share of homespun tales, some of its observations about American life are so acerbic — at one point Twain refers to American soldiers as “uniformed assassins” — that his heirs and editors, as well as the writer himself, feared they would damage his reputation if not withheld.

“From the first, second, third and fourth editions all sound and sane expressions of opinion must be left out,” Twain instructed them in 1906. “There may be a market for that kind of wares a century from now. There is no hurry. Wait and see.”

Tim Bray on Lightroom 3 

I’ll echo Bray’s sentiments — Lightroom is a great app and version 3’s noise reduction features are amazing. My only quibble with 3.0 is the video clip storage — seems like an afterthought.

And to head off the inevitable question: no, I haven’t really looked at Aperture since 1.0, so I can’t say how they compare.

Fring Update Approved for iPhone, Does Video Calling With Front-Facing Camera Over 3G 

The good news is it works over 3G. The bad news is, quality-wise, you can see why Apple requires Wi-Fi for FaceTime. And it’s not just the video quality that blows over 3G, but the audio too.

Pocket Informant 

My thanks to Pocket Informant for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Pocket Informant is a thoughtful, powerful app for iOS that combines calendaring and task management. It looks good and has a great new feature for the iPhones running iOS 4: location-based alarms. Pocket Informant is currently available for the iPhone and iPod Touch, and the iPad version is in review.

Speaking of Facebook Client App Stats 

58 million for the iPhone.

Lifehacker’s iPhone-to-Android Switchers Guide 

Is anyone actually doing this, though?

LeBron James Chooses Miami 

Oh to have been a fly on the wall to hear Pat Riley’s pitch.

James is only the third reigning MVP to go to a new team; the previous two won championships: Wilt Chamberlain went to the Lakers in 1968 and Moses Malone went to the Sixers in 1982. Chamberlain and Malone were traded, though.

Open Letter to Fans From Cleveland Cavaliers Majority Owner Dan Gilbert 

Guy sounds like a nut job:

“I PERSONALLY GUARANTEE THAT THE CLEVELAND CAVALIERS WILL WIN AN NBA CHAMPIONSHIP BEFORE THE SELF-TITLED FORMER ‘KING’ WINS ONE.”

Good luck with that.

Even crazier? He set the letter in Comic Sans.

‘2010: The Year Apple Enters a New Golden Age’ 

Andy Zaky on Apple’s staggering financial growth over the last few years. Great analysis.

Charles Jolley Goes Full-Time on SproutCore 

Charles Jolley:

In many ways, the iPad is the perfect web device.  It’s a lean-back experience optimized around consuming content. With HTML5 (which mobile Safari does better than just about anything else), the kind of experience you can create on these devices is just really spectacular. You only need to use the NPR demo we wrote earlier this year for a few minutes to realize this is obviously the future of software.

For this reason I decided about a month ago to leave Apple and form a new company centered around helping companies bring great native-style app experiences to mobile devices.  The center of this company, of course, is SproutCore.  Monday was my last day at Apple.

Apple Approves iPhone 4 LED Flashlight Apps 

They’re now allowed, provided they display a warning that extended use of the LED flash will dramatically affect battery life.

Aktiv Grotesk, Bruno Maag’s Would-Be Helvetica Killer 

Patrick Burgoyne of Creative Review interviews typographer Bruno Maag, who so loathes Helvetica he created a new font to be used instead of it. Quite a rant.

Personally, I think Maag is a crank. Univers is a fine typeface, and if you want to argue that it’s better than Helvetica, I won’t agree, but I won’t argue. But his Aktiv Grotesk is worse than both Helvetica and Univers.

dConstruct 2010 

I’ll be speaking at dConstruct in Brighton, England on September 3. Great lineup of speakers, including Merlin Mann and Brendan Dawes.

Newly Published Mark Twain Essay: ‘Concerning the Interview’ 

Mark Twain:

No one likes to be interviewed, and yet no one likes to say no; for interviewers are courteous and gentle-mannered, even when they come to destroy.

Google Updates Mobile YouTube Website 

Quite competitive with Apple’s native iPhone YouTube app, and, as the demo shows, it offers the same experience on Android.

Some are making hay over the fact that it’s maybe better than the native iPhone app, but what I think is interesting is that it’s a better, simpler, clearer, less junky website than the “regular” (non-mobile) YouTube.

Worst Gadget Review of 2010? 

Katherine Boehret seemed to really like the Kin when she reviewed it two months ago.

8,800 Active Kin Users on Facebook? 

Adam Lein points to the Kin Facebook app’s stats page, which indicates there are 8,800 Kin-using Facebook users. If this is accurate, it means my little birdie was wrong about Microsoft only having sold 503 units. I’m not convinced this Facebook stat is meaningful, though.

Bluetooth 4.0 Specification Gets Official, Devices Expected by Q4 2010 

Leading the way in the new spec’s features: “low energy consumption”. Totally guessing here, but maybe this is something Apple would use for a next-generation Apple TV remote control?

AT&T Claims Not to Be Capping 3G Upload Speeds 

They just suck.

Mini-Microsoft on the Kin, Ray Ozzie, and Layoff Rumors 

Regarding Ray Ozzie:

Meanwhile, Ozzie has made enemies of most of the leaders of the actual products that pay for his “Labs”. He’s made no secret of the fact that he thinks that Windows is run terribly, or that Office is dead technology. Behind closed doors, he is openly dispariging of Microsoft development practices and Microsoft technology. His efforts to build product display a stunning lack of a caring about how much things cost to run, or whether they will ever make money. To my knowledge, he doesn’t care in the slightest about the enterprise businesses at the company.

I don’t know if Ozzie is out to lunch, or if he’s the only executive at the company with an eye to the future instead of the past.

Microsoft’s Kin Humiliation 

An unnamed Microsoftie talks to Jay Yarrow:

“We had a huge launch party on campus and I bet that party cost more than the amount of revenues we took in on the product. As an employee, I am embarrassed. As a shareholder, I am pissed. It’s one thing to incubate products and bring them to a proof-of-concept to see what works, but it’s something else to launch. I suspect we launched because we felt like we HAD to so we could save face because we were trying to build buzz, but overall — HUGE fail.”

I can’t vouch for the following, but a well-placed little birdie told me over the weekend that they sold a grand total of 503 Kins before they pulled the plug. 503.

New MobileMe Calendar Beta 

The iPad-ification of the MobileMe web apps continues. I like the trend.

Apple’s New Shanghai Store 

Another striking store design.

Drowning Doesn’t Look Like Drowning 

Fascinating (but, for a parent, scary):

The Instinctive Drowning Response — so named by Francesco A. Pia, Ph.D. — is what people do to avoid actual or perceived suffocation in the water. And it does not look like most people expect. There is very little splashing, no waving, and no yelling or calls for help of any kind.

How Many iTunes Accounts Were Compromised? 

Not many. Clayton Morris reports:

Apple told me that an extremely small percentage of users, about  400 of the 150 million iTunes users — that is less than 0.0003% of iTunes users, were impacted.  

To the question of whether the iTunes servers themselves were ever in any danger of hackery Apple told me that the iTunes servers were not compromised in any way.  

Nielsen Norman Group Studies iPad and Kindle Reading Speeds 

Bottom line: people like reading on iPads and Kindles; they don’t like reading on PCs.

HTC Revenue Way Up 

Up 63 percent year-over-year, thanks mostly to their spot as the world’s leading Android phone maker. A year ago, they were best known as the leading Windows Mobile phone maker. Times change.

Andy Zaky on the End of the iPod Era 

Andy Zaky:

The first chart shows iPod revenue from 2006 to 2010. The second chart is of iPod unit sales. The third chart details iPod revenue as a PERCENTAGE of Apple’s overall revenue. This chart is important because it unmistakably illustrates how the iPod’s impact to Apple’s recorded revenue has been on a decline since 2006.

It’s not so much that Apple’s iPod business is doing poorly, as that everything else — the iPhone and even the Mac — has grown. But the growth points to where Apple’s future is.

Neven Mrgan’s iPhone 4 3G Reception Test 

Neven Mrgan:

The only conclusion I can draw from these data is that the iPhone 4 3G cell signal reception is really inconsistent.

Indeed.

Mary Jo Foley on How Microsoft Is Busting Its Own ‘The Browser Is Part of the OS’ Myth 

I’ve never understood why Microsoft made this argument in the first place. (Via Slashdot.)

Peek at Under-Construction Philly Apple Store 

Glad to see construction is underway. See also: IFO Apple Store’s write-up on Apple’s just-opened flagship store in Opéra (Paris), and their photo gallery.

Bootstrapped, Profitable, and Proud: iTeleport 

37signals interviews Vishal Kapur from iTeleport, on funding the company entirely through actual revenue. Their formula: build great software (I use iTeleport and love it — it’s fantastic on the iPad) and charge a fair price for it.

Apple Responds on iTunes Account Fraud 

It seems pretty clear that what happened is that a small number of iTunes accounts had their passwords cracked/guessed — probably weak passwords. More, from MacRumors, including the salient point that there’s nothing new going on.

Lenovo Chairmain Says Apple Is Missing Out in China 

From the chairman of Lenovo:

“We are lucky that Steve Jobs has such a bad temper and doesn’t care about China,” Liu Chuanzhi told the Financial Times. “If Apple were to spend the same effort on the Chinese consumer as we do, we would be in trouble.”

Is AT&T Capping 3G Upload Speed? 

I’m seeing this here in Philly. Just a few days ago I was getting over 1 Mbps upload speeds on my iPhone 4; today it’s under 0.2 Mbps. Latency is bad, too.

Prefix or Posthack 

Eric Meyer on vendor-specific CSS prefixes:

We ought to praise vendors for using prefixes, and indeed encourage them to continue. Beyond that, I hold that prefixes should become a central part of the CSS standardization process. I do this not for the love of repetition, but out of a desire to see CSS evolve consistently. I believe that prefixes can actually accelerate the advancement and refinement of CSS.

Agreed wholeheartedly.

Fake 0.2 

New app from Todd Ditchendorf:

Inspired by Apple’s Automator application, Fake looks like a combination of Safari and Automator and allows you to run (and re-run) “fake” interactions with the web.

Power Users will love Fake for automating tedious web tasks like filling out lengthy forms and capturing screenshots. Developers can use Fake for graphically configuring automated tests for their webapps, including assertions.

(Via Michael Tsai.)

Emily Brill Investigates Jonathan Zittrain’s Financial Ties to Apple Competitors 

Emily Brill:

Professors at Harvard Law School’s influential Berkman Center for Internet & Society consistently take positions on hotly debated business issues in support of companies like Google, which favor a free-wheeling Internet culture and less control over intellectual property, and against companies like Apple and AT&T, which — at least when it comes to hardware like the iPhone — favor closed digital systems and stricter intellectual property rights. […]

What most readers don’t know is that the Berkman Center and many of its leading professors have financial and personal ties to Google and other tech companies — ties that are not disclosed when these academics speak or publish, and that I discovered after auditing a class with Zittrain.

Killer App for Flash Player on Android 

Exploiting security holes in Flash Player for Android to jailbreak an HTC Evo. See step 6, which directs you to this page on macromedia.com; the jailbreak script manipulates a Flash cookie while the browser is open. (Via Reddit.)

Jesper Thinks Apple Is Working on a New Language 

Jesper takes a guess:

After watching the eminently early and freely available WWDC 2010 session videos, I think my scales have finally tipped. It is my belief that Apple is definitely working on a new language to surpass Objective-C as their intended, primary, publicly recommended programming language, which I will call “xlang”.

I don’t know if he’s right, but I sure hope so.

Rentzsch on Pester 

Wolf Rentzsch on Nicholas Riley’s wonderful free reminder/timer app, Pester. I’ve been using Pester for years. A true hidden gem.

Consumer Reports Update on iPhone 4 Reception Issue 

Mike Gikas:

While we’ve been unable to date to create the reported conditions in our National Testing Center in Yonkers, New York, I and a colleague did repeatedly experience loss of signal when using an iPhone 4 a few miles north of there today.

While in my home, I held the iPhone in my left hand, gripping it with normal pressure. My palm covered a gap between parts of the metal band that forms the outer ring of the iPhone and serves as its antenna. As I did so, I moved my pinky finger to the corresponding gap on the other side.

Almost immediately, the signal strength began to drop in the meter from the original three or four bars — depending on my location within the house — to zero bars. The drop took about 5 seconds.

So we seem to be nearing consensus. With strong reception, bridging that antenna gap doesn’t matter much. With weak reception, bridging that gap is enough to lose the signal.

Yay! Fireworks 2010! 

I love this country.

American Drink 

Perfect for the holiday weekend: American Drink, a new site from a bunch of my friends, full of good recipes and good writing. Catch up on the whole archive with an iPad and cold beverage in hand.

Mariano Rivera, King of the Closers 

Fascinating profile of Yankees pitcher Mariano Rivera by James Traub for the New York Times Sunday Magazine. That he’s the best closer in the game, and of his era, is without dispute. I say he’s the best pitcher of the era, period. A lot of baseball fans seem unwilling to consider anyone other than a starter for that honor.

Even if you’re not a baseball fan (or if you are, but despise the Yankees), do yourself a favor and at least check out this interactive infographic (Flash, alas) from The Times regarding Rivera’s cut fastball — a fascinating visualization of the best pitch in the game.

Asymco: ‘Open Always Wins, Unless It’s Symbian or LiMo or Openmoko or Qt’ 

My question: How come it only ever seems to be Apple that pundits put on the wrong side of “open always wins”, and not companies like, say, Nintendo and RIM?

Consumer Reports: ‘iPhone 4’s Supposed Signal Woes Aren’t Unique, and May Not Be Serious’ 

Who am I supposed to believe, the sensationalist hacks at Consumer Reports, or the straight-shooters at Gizmodo?

VaultPress 

My thanks to Automattic for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote VaultPress, their new protection, security, and backup service for WordPress. It’s a great idea. real-time monitoring and backup of your entire WordPress installation: content, comments, and even your dashboard settings.

VaultPress is powered by the same back-end grid that serves 11 million blogs and 250 million monthly visitors on WordPress.com. Sign up for the beta at the VaultPress website.

Google Acquires ITA, Leading Online Travel Reservation Company 

Greg Sterling:

ITA is behind the reservations systems for many major airlines around the world, as well as travel sites such as Kayak, Orbitz, Hotwire and many others. Bing Travel also relies on the software. Google, if allowed to complete the acquisition, would thus own the “infrastructure” behind its direct competitor’s travel product.

Why settle for indexing the world’s information when you can own it?

Macworld Tests iPhone 4 Battery Life 

Impressive improvement over the 3GS (but, I feel spoiled by the iPad).

AnandTech on the iPhone 4’s Antenna and Reception 

Detailed analysis by Brian Klug and Anand Lal Shimpi at AnandTech. They show a decided drop in signal strength when “holding it wrong”, but conclude that the antenna is significantly improved overall:

From my day of testing, I’ve determined that the iPhone 4 performs much better than the 3GS in situations where signal is very low, at -113 dBm (1 bar). Previously, dropping this low all but guaranteed that calls would drop, fail to be placed, and data would no longer be transacted at all. I can honestly say that I’ve never held onto so many calls and data simultaneously on 1 bar at -113 dBm as I have with the iPhone 4, so it’s readily apparent that the new baseband hardware is much more sensitive compared to what was in the 3GS. The difference is that reception is massively better on the iPhone 4 in actual use.

Mr. Fish on Rolling Stone 

Spot-on.

TechCrunch Reports Tapulous Acquired by Disney 

Erick Schonfeld of TechCrunch reports that Disney has acquired Tapulous, the makers of the popular Tap Tap Revenge iOS games. Update: Confirmation from Tapulous and Disney.

Don’t Eff With Fudgie the Whale 

Speaking of Rogue Amoeba, Paul Kafasis has a good piece on his personal weblog on the bizarre saga of Carvel Ice Cream and the “free ice cream for life” card they gave to Lindsay Lohan.

Andy Ihnatko’s iPhone 4 Review 

Andy Ihnatko’s detailed iPhone 4 review is just great. Here’s one tidbit I hadn’t noticed:

The iPhone 4 is 4.4 times faster than its predecessor when uploading. That’s a high enough increase that I insisted that the iPhone 4 submit to an immediate drug test.

It’s due to the iPhone 4’s improved implementation of HSDPA (which arrived with last year’s iPhone 3GS) and its brand-new support for HSUPA. Yes, take a guess at what the “D” (download speed) and the “U” (upload speed) stand for in those respective acronyms. The upshot: the iPhone 4 can make better use of all of the improvements that AT&T has been making to its network, and it shows immediately.

Pulsar 2.0 

Nice update to Rogue Amoeba’s Mac client for XM and Sirius satellite radio; highlights include a new UI look and the ability to pause live radio.

Microsoft Should Take a Look at the Latest Version of Photoshop 

Roz Ho, whom long-time Apple watchers will remember as the former head of Microsoft’s MacBU and frequent on-stage presence during Apple keynotes, led Microsoft’s Kin effort:

Roz Ho is corporate vice president for Premium Mobile Experiences at Microsoft, where she leads the team working on KIN. She has been responsible for the integration of Danger Inc., which was acquired by Microsoft in April, 2008.

I’d say the quality of the image manipulation on her bio photo (to knock her out from the background) is emblematic of the work her team produced with the Danger acquisition.

Jim Dalrymple on the Latest Verizon/iPhone Rumors 

The well-sourced Jim Dalrymple has heard the same thing I have:

Apple already has a Verizon compatible iPhone. It’s not that they have to rush around Apple HQ and start building the thing for a January launch with Verizon — it’s already there and being perfected all the time. As Gruber pointed out, think of this like the Mac OS X Intel version. People were shocked when they learned that Apple had parallel builds of OS X for Intel and IBM, but they had them for years.

But adds this:

Here’s where my thoughts differ a little bit from Bloomberg. I don’t believe a deal has been finalized with Verizon. It’s reasonable to assume that the two companies are in negotiations and the Bloomberg article is just another negotiating tactic, but I don’t think a deal has been signed.

New Kindle DX 

New dark “graphite” body, higher-contrast 9.7-inch e-ink display, and the price is down to $379. I just can’t see buying this over an iPad, though.

Some Trouncing 

Dennis Kneale, in a piece titled “Google Trounces the iPhone” for The Daily Beast, offers only these reasons (along with Google’s embrace of “openness”):

Both are digital dreams, but the Droid X (the X is for “extreme,” though it also will resonate with fans of porn. Brand bonus!) does some cool things iPhone can’t, such as shooting high-def video, which can be linked by broadband cable directly into your HDTV set and played instantly.

Sure would be great if the iPhone 4 could shoot HD video.

Matt Taibbi on Major Corporate ‘Journalism’ 

Matt Taibbi, regarding Lara Logan’s criticism of Michael Hastings’s explosive profile of Gen. Stanley McChrystal:

If I’m hearing Logan correctly, what Hastings is supposed to have done in that situation is interrupt these drunken assholes and say, “Excuse me, fellas, I know we’re all having fun and all, but you’re saying things that may not be in your best interest! As a reporter, it is my duty to inform you that you may end up looking like insubordinate douche bags in front of two million Rolling Stone readers if you don’t shut your mouths this very instant!” I mean, where did Logan go to journalism school — the Burson-Marsteller agency?

I don’t think it’s hyperbolic in the least to say that the argument comes down to whether a journalist’s job is (a) to report what is true, important, and interesting; or (b) to report what those in power want reported.

Engadget: Hands-On With Hulu Plus 

Ben Drawbaugh:

The bottom line is that while we doubt Hulu Plus will really spur the cord cutting that many think it might, but it will be a great supplemental source of content for those who can’t get enough TV.

Joshua Topolsky Reports on What Went Wrong With the Kin 

Joshua Topolsky, reporting on information from “a reliable source”:

It seems that after doing some initial work on these phones based around Danger’s proprietary Sidekick OS, Andy Lees — the SVP of Microsoft’s mobile division — instructed everyone to go back to the drawing board and rebuild the OS based on Windows CE. It appears the company didn’t want a project that wasn’t directly connected to its Windows kernel. This move allegedly set the release of the devices back 18 months, during which time [Verizon] became increasingly frustrated with the delays.

Mindless “Windows everywhere” politics. 18 months is forever in this industry. And why in the world did they buy Danger if they were just going to scrap the OS anyway? What a mess.

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