Linked List: September 2013

Delta to Use Microsoft’s Surface 2 Tablets in Place of Paper Manuals 

Ina Fried:

Delta said on Monday that it plans to buy Surface 2 tablets using the Microsoft hardware to replace paper flight books for the airline’s 11,000 pilots.

The deployment will start later this year with pilots of 757 and 767 aircraft, with the goal of having all cockpits paperless by the end of next year. The Surface tablets will contain charts, reference documents and other information. Delta estimates that it can save $13 million in fuel costs by replacing the paper manuals.

Nice coup for Microsoft.

Intriguingly, AppleInsider reports:

“We fought hard for iPad,” a pilot working for the airline told AppleInsider. He described the Delta deal as being about money, travel contracts, and Delta’s Information Technology staff historically being “in bed” with Microsoft.

I’ll take that with a grain of AppleInsider-sized salt (i.e. a big chunk of salt) for now. Would love to see someone else report something similar.

Android Police: Ads Are Coming to Gmail for Android 

Artem Russakovskii, writing for Android Police:

The most significant under-the-hood and probably not active yet addition to Gmail 4.6 is ads. Yup, ads are most definitely coming to Gmail for Android which managed to stay ad-free all this time, unlike its web counterpart. […]

The above appears to suggest that you’ll be able to save ads as messages. Like an ad? Save it, and it’ll become part of your inbox. Don’t like it, and it’ll get dismissed. Very interesting, isn’t it?

“Interesting” is one way to put it.

‘Black to the Mac’ 

This week’s episode of my podcast, The Talk Show, featuring special guest John Moltz. Topics include Martha Stewart, patent trolls, Touch ID and the iPhone 5S, making booze in prison, and more.

Brought to you by three great sponsors:

  • Bartender: Organize, hide, and rearrange your OS X menu bar items.
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Four Rules to Make Star Wars Great Again 

If I could add a fifth it would be: Star Wars is about camaraderie.

Apple Passes Coca-Cola as Most Valuable Brand in Interbrand Rankings 

Stuart Elliott, reporting for the NYT:

Not only has Apple replaced Coca-Cola as first among the 100 most valuable brands based on criteria that include financial performance, this is the first time that the soft drink known for slogans like “It’s the real thing” has not been No. 1.

Number two: Google.

Steve Ballmer’s Emotional Goodbye to Microsoft 

Goodbyes are hard. Ballmer went out his way, that’s for sure.

Mariano Rivera: The Perfect Athlete for Our Time 

Joe Posnanski, on Mariano Rivera:

But I do wonder if this misses the real story. How does someone close games in New York for 16 years and come out of it adored? How does someone who wears nothing but Yankees pinstripes his entire career — can you even picture Mariano Rivera without his Yankees cap on? — get honored at Fenway Park? How does someone in today’s Twittery, bloggy, First Take, Facebook, chat board, talk radio, GIF-infused world come out of a long career as universally beloved?

See, even people who loathe Mariano Rivera love him.

Scandal? Not a hint of it. Gossip? Never heard any. Embarrassing moments? Didn’t happen.

How BlackBerry Blew It: The Inside Story 

Splendid investigative report by Sean Silcoff, Jacquie McNish, and Steve Ladurantaye, for The Globe and Mail:

Mike Lazaridis was at home on his treadmill and watching television when he first saw the Apple iPhone in early 2007. There were a few things he didn’t understand about the product. So, that summer, he pried one open to look inside and was shocked. It was like Apple had stuffed a Mac computer into a cellphone, he thought.

To Mr. Lazaridis, a life-long tinkerer who had built an oscilloscope and computer while in high school, the iPhone was a device that broke all the rules. The operating system alone took up 700 megabytes of memory, and the device used two processors. The entire BlackBerry ran on one processor and used 32 MB. Unlike the BlackBerry, the iPhone had a fully Internet-capable browser. That meant it would strain the networks of wireless companies like AT&T Inc., something those carriers hadn’t previously allowed. RIM by contrast used a rudimentary browser that limited data usage.

“I said, ‘How did they get AT&T to allow [that]?’ Mr. Lazaridis recalled in the interview at his Waterloo office. “ ‘It’s going to collapse the network.’ And in fact, some time later it did.”

Publicly, Mr. Lazaridis and Mr. Balsillie belittled the iPhone and its shortcomings, including its short battery life, weaker security and initial lack of e-mail. That earned them a reputation for being cocky and, eventually, out of touch. “That’s marketing,” Mr. Lazaridis explained. “You position your strengths against their weaknesses.”

Apple had brought a gun to what had until then been a knife fight. And then BlackBerry wasted a few years trying to turn their knife into a gun.

MacUpdate’s Fall Bundle 

My thanks to MacUpdate for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote their Fall Bundle — a collection of great Mac apps, all for just $49.99 for a limited time. The bundle includes ScreenFlow 4 (normally $99), a terrific utility for creating and editing screen recordings; TechTool Pro 7 ($99), the Mavericks-ready version of the popular system utility; PDFpen 6 ($59), the essential PDF toolkit; Civilization V: Gold Edition ($49), the best-selling strategy game; plus several more great titles.

All told you’ll save over 90 percent over what you’d pay for these titles separately. You’ll save 50 percent just for ScreenFlow or TechTool Pro alone. It’s a terrific deal.

Mike Ash on ARM64 

Next time you see someone claiming that Apple’s move to 64-bit with the A7 was a marketing gimmick, point them to this, Mike Ash’s outstanding explanation of the advantages (and trade-offs) ARM64 has brought to iOS 7. Just one bit:

Adding it all together, it’s a pretty big win. My casual benchmarking indicates that basic object creation and destruction takes about 380ns on a 5S running in 32-bit mode, while it’s only about 200ns when running in 64-bit mode. If any instance of the class has ever had a weak reference and an associated object set, the 32-bit time rises to about 480ns, while the 64-bit time remains around 200ns for any instances that were not themselves the target.

In short, the improvements to Apple’s runtime make it so that object allocation in 64-bit mode costs only 40-50% of what it does in 32-bit mode. If your app creates and destroys a lot of objects, that’s a big deal.

Technical Notes on Vesper for iOS 7 

Speaking of Vesper and Brent Simmons, he’s got a nice rundown of iOS 7 technical details:

You remember in Lord of the Rings when Gollum finally gets the ring and he’s holding it up and dancing around? That’s me and TextKit.

So happy together.

Mariano Rivera Leaves the Mound at Yankee Stadium 

It’s been rough year for the Yankees, but they know how to do things like this right. What a great send-off.

Comedy Gold 

Samsung touts their long history of gold-colored phones. “We were making gold phones before anyone wanted one” isn’t a good argument for anything.

‘Room 237’: Gruber and Kottke vs. Sandwich 

Yours truly, on Twitter a few nights ago:

Broke down and watched “Room 237”. It was bad. Really bad. Boring bad. Crazy people.

Just watch “The Shining” again instead.

(Sidenote: I’m thinking “single-tweet movie reviews” is an interesting idea.)

Jason Kottke:

I agree. I watched it earlier this year and disliked the film so much, I didn’t even finish it, which is rare for me. As I hinted at on Twitter, I’m exposed to enough anti-vaccine, anti-evolution, anti-anthropogenic climate change, anti-science, and religious fundamentalist “theories” in my day-to-day reading that are genuinely harmful to humanity that an examination of how the minds of conspiracy theory crackpots take the smallest little details and weave them into fantastical stories that make no sense is not how I want to spend my time.

On the other side, Adam Lisagor:

Now, what I suspect has happened here is that both he and our friend John Gruber, whose tweet spurred Jason’s post, sort of missed the point. Which is that the film’s ambition was not to cast light on the conspiracy theories around their beloved Kubrick film (“The Shining”, in case you’re coming to this late), it was not to document further context around the film or to disclose any of its master filmmaker’s process or intentions, but rather to paint an artful picture — a media collage if you will-of obsession, and mania.

But “Room 237” isn’t about “The Shining” or about Kubrick, it’s about a small assortment of unrelated film scholars(?) who have selected “The Shining” as their thing. It’s about the degree of their obsessions, the intricacies of their fixations.

(Second sidenote: Whole front page of Kottke.org today is a nice birthday tribute to Jason.)

Apple Analysts and the Great Nine-Million iPhone Kerfuffle 

Philip Elmer-DeWitt:

Apple on Monday announced first weekend sales of the iPhone 5S and 5C. They “topped” 9 million. Wall Street was expecting 5 to 6 million. Big surprise, egg on faces. Estimates revised. Price points raised.

Then the second-guessing began. How solid, some analysts asked, were those 9 million sales?

These analysts remind me of the Apple rumor sites — when they publish something that turns out way wrong, the explanation is never that they were wrong, but that something changed after they ran the rumor.

This downplaying of the 9 million iPhones sold is just ludicrous, because it’s the same accounting Apple has used in all previous years.

If the iPhone Were a Standalone Business 

Derek Thompson, writing for The Atlantic:

Eric Chemi, head of research for Bloomberg Businessweek, pulls an amazing stat. iPhone sales in the last year exceed all revenue to Microsoft, Amazon, Comcast, or Google. The iPhone alone outsells Coca-Cola and McDonald’s, perhaps the world’s two most famous brands, combined.

Vesper 1.007 

I’m really pleased with how our redesign for iOS 7 turned out. There’s so much good stuff in iOS 7 (TextKit alone is worth its weight in gold iPhones) that we didn’t hesitate to go 7-only. Be sure to try the small caps option.

Time Stamps in iOS 7 Messages 

Khoi Vinh:

In fact, I think that Apple made the right call originally: only show time stamps where they add meaningful value; anything more is superfluous. I still regard these time stamps as superfluous; but this new availability is the best of both worlds: the time stamps are there, but they add no visual clutter until the user actively calls for them.

Using an iOS Device to Set Up Your Apple TV 

Very cool new feature for the third-generation Apple TV. Not sure there was any worse experience in all of Apple’s current product lineup than pecking out your Wi-Fi network password using the Apple TV remote control.

Jonathan Ive and Craig Federighi: The Complete Businessweek Interview 

Complete transcript of Sam Grobart’s interview; I found this much more interesting than the cover story that resulted from it. This bit from Federighi, on what it’s like working for Tim Cook, caught my eye:

Oftentimes, a product’s design requires manufacturing to solve unreasonable problems. That’s the same as engineering a user interface design. Both are about just solving these crazy problems. But you never get a sense from Tim or from Jeff [Jeff Williams, Apple’s current operations chief] that there’s a question about why are we solving this. Why aren’t we taking an easy way out and sidestepping this problem? It is, “No, this is the right design, and we’re going to do things that no one else in the world has ever tried to do in order to get it right.”

They’ve also published the full transcript of Grobart’s interview with Tim Cook, and that’s pretty interesting as well:

I think if I bought [an Android tablet] and used it, and I thought that was a tablet experience, I’m not sure I would ever buy another tablet. The responsiveness isn’t there. The basic touch is really off. The app experience is a stretched-out smartphone kind of experience. It’s not an optimized experience. However, that said, I have always said that the tablet market was going to surpass the PC market. I was saying that well before it was viewed to be sane to say that. It’s clear that we’re 24 months away from that.

iOS 7 and Motion Sickness 

Rene Ritchie:

For many people the iOS 7 parallax effect is cool, dynamic wallpapers amazing, the Messages bubbles fun, the folder and app zooming transportive, and so on and so on. For those for whom they trigger motion sickness, they’re off-putting, nauseating, or simply impossible to use.

Parallax can be turned off in Settings > General > Accessibility > Reduce Motion. So can Dynamic wallpapers in Settings > Wallpapers & Brightness. Message bubble bouncing, folder and app zooming, not so much. Apple also provides UI Dynamics as an application programming interface (API) so developers can more easily add some of those effects to their own apps. Those often can’t be turned off either. That some of the effects can be turned off means Apple probably foresaw at least part of the issue. That all can’t means they probably didn’t foresee enough of it.

Interesting side-effect of the new z-axis spatial interaction in iOS 7.

Unleashing Genetic Algorithms on the iOS 7 Icon Shape 

Fun post from Mike Swanson, wherein he attempts to generate the iOS 7 icon shape as precisely as possible.

Instagram for iOS 7 

Nice job overall, but I think making avatars (a.k.a. profile pictures) circular is a mistake. Sure, that’s what Apple is doing with them in Messages and Contacts, but I don’t think there’s anything inherently 7-y about circular avatars. And for Instagram in particular, it breaks a certain elegance — your avatar was the same thing as a post, a square image.

Update: For a perfect example, look no further than Instagram’s own company account avatar.

Amazon’s Kindle Fire HDX and Android 

J.R. Raphael:

Here’s what it boils down to, gang: The Amazon Kindle Fire HDX products are Amazon media devices — not Android tablets. You lose much of the power and versatility of Android but gain the simplicity of Amazon’s own Amazon-centric vision. It’s a completely different ecosystem and environment — which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, so long as that’s what you want.

Raphael is exactly right, but it’s been obvious ever since the first Kindle tablet that Amazon had no interest in the greater Android ecosystem. “Android” is just an implementation detail, from Amazon’s perspective. Amazon’s press release for the new tablets doesn’t mention “Android” even once. They call the OS “Fire OS”, and the only mention they make of Android on the Fire OS web page is this:

New Kindle Fire tablets are powered by the latest version of Fire OS — Fire OS 3.0 “Mojito”, which starts with Android and adds cloud services, a content-forward user interface, built-in media libraries, productivity apps, and low-level platform enhancements to integrate Amazon’s digital content and improve performance for Kindle Fire tablets.

Apple Denies Paying EA to Keep Plants vs. Zombies 2 an iOS Exclusive 

Patrick Klepek, reporting for Giant Bomb:

When these deals are made in the games industry, it’s often a co-marketing deal, not a briefcase full of cash. It’s possible Gibeau meant this but chose his words poorly. When asked whether Apple and EA had brokered an agreement regarding iOS exclusivity, the company would not disclose any details on its relationships.

This — an exchange of App Store promotional placement in exchange for a period of exclusivity — is almost certainly what is going on. Not sure why this has turned into a big story, though. Are people actually surprised that Apple cares about iOS exclusive titles? Are people surprised that App Store promotional placement for a game like Plants vs. Zombies is worth “a truckload of money”?

Update: Good piece by Matthew Panzarino on this kerfuffle.

‘Mayday’ – Live Tech Support for New Kindle Tablets 

Amazon:

Simply tap the “Mayday” button to be connected for free to an Amazon expert who can co-pilot you through any feature by drawing on your screen, walking you through how to do something yourself, or doing it for you — whatever works best. Mayday is available 24 × 7, 365 days a year, and it’s free. Throughout the process, you will be able to see your Amazon Tech advisor live on your screen, but they won’t see you. 15 seconds or less is the Mayday response time goal.

Simply amazing, if it works as promised. Not sure how something like this could scale for tens of millions of customers, though.

Nokia/Elop Saga Gets Even Better 

Tero Kuittinen, writing for BGR:

Tuesday night’s big drama in Finnish media circles is being driven by the Helsingin Sanomat scoop that Elop is resisting Nokia’s pleas to reduce his bonus because he is getting divorced. Apparently Mr. Elop believes he cannot make his wife accept a reduction in the $25 million severance package.

Samsung: Introducing the New Galaxy S4 Gold Edition 

Only thing surprising about this is that it took them this long.

Motorola Ships 100,000 Moto X Phones Per Week 

How many seconds did it take Friday morning for Apple to sell the first 100,000 new iPhones?

iPhone 5S Slow Motion Test Footage by Rishi Kaneria 

Not bad for a cell phone camera.

Investigating Touch ID and the Secure Enclave 

More from Rich Mogull on Touch ID and the A7’s “Secure Enclave”:

I suspect Apple will eventually release more details in response to public pressure — they still tend to underestimate the level of security information the world needs before placing trust in Apple (or anyone else). But if my assumptions are even close to accurate, Touch ID looks like a good part of a strong system that avoids a bunch of potential pitfalls and will be hard to crack.

The Myth of Steve Jobs’s Constant Breakthroughs 

Harry McCracken:

The golden age of Apple that Cannold pines for never existed. Steve Jobs didn’t change the world every two years like clockwork, and he was incrementalism’s grand master.

A Brief Comment on Josh Centers’s 39-Word Review of Apple’s $39 iPhone 5S Case 

Agreed.

Stephen Elop’s Contract With Nokia Rewarded His Failure 

Tero Kuittinen, writing for Forbes:

This adjustment meant that unlike previous CEOs, Elop was facing an instant, massive windfall should the following sequence happen to take place:

  • Nokia’s share price drops steeply as the company drifts close to cash flow crisis under Elop.
  • Elop sells the company’s handset unit to Microsoft under pressure to raise cash.
  • The share price rebounds sharply, though remains far below where it was when Elop joined the company.

Should this unlikely chain of events ever occur, Elop would be entitled to an accelerated, $25M payoff. Through some strange coincidence, that very sequence of events actually did happen to take place between 2011-2013. Practically instantly after Elop was handed his contract.

iOS 7: The Pixel Envy Review 

Nick Heer’s comprehensive take on iOS 7 fell to the bottom of my reading list last week. Wish it hadn’t — it’s fantastic. Detailed, insightful, and fair.

Computers Are Too Difficult and People Are Computer Illiterate 

Baldur Bjarnason:

Computers can both be too complex and people can be too lazy to apply themselves in computing. You can both criticise people for taking pride in ignorance and criticise computers for being needlessly complex. Despite what many commenters seem to think, pointing out the latter does not invalidate the former. And, conversely, pointing out the former doesn’t invalidate the latter.

Screens 3.0 

Solid update to Edovia’s excellent $20 utility for remotely logging into a Mac or PC from an iPhone or iPad.

On the Effective Security of Touch ID 

Marc Rogers, on Touch ID’s susceptibility to high-quality spoofed fingerprints:

Touch ID is not a “strong” security control. It is a “convenient” security control. Today just over 50 percent of users have a PIN on their smartphones at all, and the number one reason people give for not using the PIN is that it’s inconvenient. TouchID is strong enough to protect users from casual or opportunistic attackers (with one concern I will cover later on) and it is substantially better than nothing.

Clearly Touch ID is better than no passcode at all — which Apple claims is how the majority of iPhone users (and smartphone owners in general) have their devices configured. Further, I think it’s better than a 4-digit PIN. It seems far easier to me to spy on someone entering their PIN than it would be to capture a high-resolution fingerprint (from their correct finger) and reproduce it in way that works to fool Touch ID.

(The new lock screen PIN entry UI in iOS 7 might even make it easier than before to snoop someone’s PIN.)

Tee Trilogy 3 

11 great t-shirts, printed by my pal Brian Jaramillo (the maestro responsible for the quality of DF’s own shirts). $20 each, or pick three for just $51.

‘iMessage Chat’ Android App in Google Play Store 

My favorite part is the UI design mimicking (badly) the old iOS look.

Update: Google has pulled the app from the store.

Apple Releases iMac Speed-Bump: Faster Processors, Graphics, Wi-Fi 

I’m curious what Apple is going to do with the hopefully imminent new Mac Pro and Mavericks. My guess is that they’re going to show them off on-stage at next month’s press event for the new iPads.

Popular Science: ‘Why We’re Shutting Off Our Comments’ 

Suzanne LaBarre:

A politically motivated, decades-long war on expertise has eroded the popular consensus on a wide variety of scientifically validated topics. Everything, from evolution to the origins of climate change, is mistakenly up for grabs again. Scientific certainty is just another thing for two people to “debate” on television. And because comments sections tend to be a grotesque reflection of the media culture surrounding them, the cynical work of undermining bedrock scientific doctrine is now being done beneath our own stories, within a website devoted to championing science.

Hard to believe it took them this long.

Dean Holland’s iPhone 5S Camera Review 

Dean Holland has written a great review of the new iPhone 5S camera:

I often get phone calls asking me what camera I use, and I first have to clarify “Do you mean for work or pleasure?”. The answers are very different. My workhorse cameras are no-compromise performance tools, with no concessions at all to being easy to carry or enjoyable to use. They are all business, and they’re the last thing that I would want to take with me on holiday. I see the iPhone 5S as an attempt to make the opposite, a no-compromise fun phone-camera that adds to life. Each does its job better for not trying to do what the other does so well.

Totally agree. The 5S was the only camera I took with me to Portland for XOXO last weekend, and I got some great shots of the event and my friends. Over the years I’ve usually taken a “good” camera with me to conferences; the difference with the iPhone as my main camera is interesting. I get worse photos, technically, particularly in low light. But I get more of them, because the camera is always with me.

Dustin Curtis on the iPhone 5S 

Some nice observations on the design details.

Update: I think Curtis misunderstands how Touch ID works, though:

#14. Touch ID works well, but there’s a 1-2 second delay. When the phone is locked, using Touch ID to unlock is kind of unwieldy; you have to place your finger on the home button sensor, press the button, and then release the button — while still resting your finger on top of it — before Siri activates. It works, but feels strange.

Touch ID has nothing to do with clicking the button, and there should be almost no delay. Certainly not two seconds. You don’t need to press and hold the button to get it to scan your finger. You just rest your finger on the sensor — no click necessary — and it works. When the phone is asleep, you do need to wake it up, so you can do that with a click of the home button and then just keep your finger on the button, resting without pressing. There is no race condition with the press-and-hold action to activate Siri.

Try this: rest your finger on the home button while the phone is locked. Wake the phone using the power button, not the home button. Instantly unlocked.

Rob Enderle’s 2013 Mobile Forecast 

It’s hard to be this wrong.

SteamOS 

Valve:

As we’ve been working on bringing Steam to the living room, we’ve come to the conclusion that the environment best suited to delivering value to customers is an operating system built around Steam itself. SteamOS combines the rock-solid architecture of Linux with a gaming experience built for the big screen. It will be available soon as a free stand-alone operating system for living room machines.

Interesting that they’re giving it away to anyone who wants to make a box that runs it.

Behind the Scenes With Microsoft’s Surface Designers 

CNet’s Tim Stevens goes behind-the-scenes in Microsoft’s hardware design studio:

First among Bathiche’s fixes is the new Touch Cover, barely distinguishable from the previous version externally, yet vastly different on the inside. What was basically one sensor per key, about 80 total, is now an array of 1,100 discrete sensors that can detect exactly how hard your finger is pressing and where it landed — even if it landed between keys. This enables gestures and a new level of accuracy that the original Surface lacked. Along the way, his team added backlit keys and increased the rigidity of the typing surface. “We went from 80 sensors to 1,100, we added a light guide, and it’s thinner. And it’s stiffer. That’s cool,” Bathiche says.

That is cool, and indeed many of the most interesting innovations in this new line of Surface tablets lie not in the devices themselves but in their accessories. But just as with the first Surface, these innovations run the risk of receiving a giant collective shrug from the public. People just don’t get excited about accessories, regardless of how innovative. Microsoft doesn’t include any of the keyboards in the price of either tablet. This lets users choose whether and which keyboard cover to purchase, but it also has the side-effect of relegating these devices to footnote status.

I think that’s Microsoft’s problem exactly. First impression seems to be that these second-generation Surfaces are very nice upgrades over last year’s — but I’m not sure they have anything that is going to give them traction in the market.

iPhone Opening Weekend Sales: Nine Million 

Apple PR:

Apple today announced it has sold a record-breaking nine million new iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c models, just three days after the launch of the new iPhones on September 20. In addition, more than 200 million iOS devices are now running the completely redesigned iOS 7, making it the fastest software upgrade in history

That iOS upgrade number is more impressive to me than the iPhone sales. Worth noting: no breakdown or even a hint at how sales are split between the 5S and 5C. Apple is not going to reveal that.

Microsoft Announces Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 

Points for perseverance. Not sure how these are going to sell any better than last year’s models, though.

Apple’s iPhone 5 Touchscreen Is 2.5 Times Faster Than Android Devices 

Dean Takahashi, Venturebeat:

The results confirm what users believe about the devices, and they highlight a feature that is usually left out of technical comparisons.

In its first TouchMarks benchmark test, the iPhone 5 responded to touches at an average time of 55 milliseconds, compared to 85 milliseconds for the iPhone 4. The closest Android device was the Samsung Galaxy S4 at 114 milliseconds.

“Apple trounced the competition,” said Peter Relan, chairman of Agawi. “There is this whole other dimension of responsiveness that Agawi cares about.”

Interesting to see it measured, but this is something we’ve all known all along.

Squarespace 

My thanks to Squarespace for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Squarespace is an all-in-one website builder and hosting service, and when they say “all-in-one”, they mean it. Squarespace has everything from great-looking templates, code-level customization, domain name registration, 24/7 support, and now even built-in e-commerce. It’s easy to use, easy to customize, and easy to get started.

Best of all, you can try it for free. Go to Squarespace.com and see for yourself.

BlackBerry Co-Founder Is Said to Consider Bid for Company 

David Gelles and Michael de la Merced, reporting for the NYT:

Mike Lazaridis, the co-founder of BlackBerry who stepped down as co-chief executive in 2012, has reached out to private equity firms about a possible bid for the troubled company.

Let me guess his pitch: “The other guy was the problem.”

Do Me a Favor 

Once more: my wife is raising money for a charity that means a lot to our family.

What a Difference Six Years Makes 

Different company. Same reaction: just brutal.

We Have a Winner: The Worst Article About Touch ID 

Mind-bogglingly misinformed. Bravo, Toronto Star, bravo.

BlackBerry Announces Major Job Cuts, Quarterly Net Operating Loss of $1 Billion 

Brutal.

Apple’s A7 Is Made By Samsung 

So much for that speculation.

‘Green iPhone 5C Hidden in a Beard’ 

Special guest Jim Dalrymple joins yours truly on this week’s episode of The Talk Show to talk about the new iPhones 5S and 5C on the cusp of their release, as well as iOS 7. Something to listen to while you wait in line outside your local Apple Store tomorrow.

Brought to you by three excellent sponsors:

  • An Event Apart: The design conference for people who make websites.

  • Voila: A powerful screen capture & screen recording tool for your Mac.

  • Squarespace: Everything you need to build exceptional websites!

Jony Ive and Craig Federighi Interview With USA Today 

Another interview on the cusp of the release of the iPhone 5S and 5C, this one with Marco della Cava of USA Today:

Federighi says iOS 7’s new look is inextricably linked with technological advances.

“This is the first post-Retina (Display) UI (user interface), with amazing graphics processing thanks to tremendous GPU (graphics processing unit) power growth, so we had a different set of tools to bring to bear on the problem as compared to seven years ago (when the iPhone first launched),” he says. “Before, the shadowing effect we used was a great way to distract from the limitations of the display. But with a display that’s this precise, there’s nowhere to hide. So we wanted a clear typography.”

Very interesting — sounds like Ive and Federighi get along very well. (Although I think that was exactly the point of Apple having paired them together for these interviews — emphasizing the harmony atop Apple’s executive ranks, in stark contrast to the situation just one year ago.) Much better piece than the Businessweek one today.

Alan Hanson Reviews the Best Five iOS 7 Ringtones 

Regarding “Silk”:

You are folding laundry in the laundry room of your modest suburban Colorado home. You are pleased with this zen task. A cool breeze fondles the lace curtains of your open window. The crisp midday air begs you to inhale fully, which you do, and this also pleases you. Suddenly, but without startle, a marble-worker’s firm hands delicately grab your waist. You are flush. You are dreaming. You decide not to wake up. You see where this goes.

Nailed it.

Businessweek Scores Interviews With Cook, Ive, and Federighi 

Sam Grobart, writing for Businessweek:

To Cook, the mobile industry doesn’t race to the bottom, it splits. One part does indeed go cheap, with commoditized products that compete on little more than price. “There’s always a large junk part of the market,” he says. “We’re not in the junk business.” The upper end of the industry justifies its higher prices with greater value. “There’s a segment of the market that really wants a product that does a lot for them, and I want to compete like crazy for those customers,” he says. “I’m not going to lose sleep over that other market, because it’s just not who we are. Fortunately, both of these markets are so big, and there’s so many people that care and want a great experience from their phone or their tablet, that Apple can have a really good business.”

“We’re not in the junk business” is exactly why none of us should have expected the 5C to be cheaper than it is.

Concluding, Grobart writes:

You could say that Apple’s approach in mobile ignores history, specifically the Mac/Windows wars of the 1990s, which Apple clearly lost.

I know this is universally accepted as gospel in the business world, but how does this jibe with the fact that Apple has been the most profitable PC-maker in the world for the last decade? Not counting iPads or iPhones, just Macs, Apple makes more profit than any company producing Windows PCs — and yet we’re supposed to accept as fact that Apple “clearly lost” the Windows-vs.-Mac war? Methinks Grobart should have paid more attention to Cook regarding junk businesses.

Clueless 

Fred Wilson:

The C in 5C does not mean “cheap” as I had hoped. It means clueless, as in clueless about how the vast majority of new smartphone users are paying for their phones.

I would have gone with cash, but what do I know?

iPhone 5C Packaging 

Like the iPod Touch (complete with fake iOS sticker on the surface of the device), and not at all like any other iPhone to date (all of which were packaged in cardboard boxes).

A Few Points on iOS 7 

Short list from David Sparks. I agree with him on every single point.

12 New Settings and Features in iOS 7 

Good list from Dave Hamilton at The Mac Observer.

Rene Ritchie Reviews iOS 7 

Rene Ritchie goes deep on iOS 7:

iOS has always stressed direct manipulation and 1:1 touch tracking, because it created the illusion of genuine interaction. Combine that with the new engines, and now the illusion is even better. You’re not just tapping buttons, you’re moving objects through their own virtual space. You’re not just flipping through a stack of tabs tediously drawn to look and move like cards, hiccuping and losing proper perspective as you go. You’re flipping real card-shaped objects that fly past, always in perfect perspective because they’re rendered to be. It’s so real, it begins to feel like a game. and that’s exactly the point. Real gamification is about enabling discovery though play. It’s about rewarding intuition with delight. It’s about making computing fun.

No idea how anyone is getting any work done today — so much great stuff to read, so many updated apps to try.

Jim Dalrymple on the New iPhones and iOS 7 

Jim Dalrymple:

A fingerprint sensor could be one of those cool features that everyone talks about, but nobody ends up using in their day-to-day lives because it’s too much of a hassle. I’ll be honest, heading into the event, I was wondering if Apple’s implementation of the sensor would be good enough to actually make it useful. Not just for a demo to make people gasp and clap, but could I use it every day.

The answer is unequivocally yes.

The whole front page of The Loop is chockablock with great iOS 7 links. I won’t bother duplicating them, just go to The Loop and load them into tabs from there.

Pogue on iOS 7 

David Pogue:

The look of iOS 7 may grab you or not. But once the fuss about the visuals dies down, something even more important comes into focus: the work that’s been done on making iOS better. The longer you spend with the new OS, the more you’re grateful for the fixing and de-annoyifying on display.

For example, you no longer have to burrow into infinitely nested Settings screens to adjust your control panels. Now you can just speak what you want, using Siri: “Open Wi-Fi settings,” for example, or “Open brightness settings.”

Anand Lal Shimpi Reviews the iPhone 5S 

Copiously detailed and researched. A genuine pleasure to read. So glad Apple provided AnandTech with iPhone review units. As I concluded, the 5S is a performance and graphics powerhouse:

There’s more graphics horsepower under the hood of the iPhone 5s than there is in the iPad 4. While I don’t doubt the iPad 5 will once again widen that gap, keep in mind that the iPhone 5s has less than 1/4 the number of pixels as the iPad 4. If I were a betting man, I’d say that the A7 was designed not only to drive the 5s’ 1136 × 640 display, but also a higher res panel in another device. Perhaps an iPad mini with Retina Display? There’s no solving the memory bandwidth requirements, but the A7 surely has enough compute power to get there. Not to mention that Apple hasn’t had issues in the past with delivering a SoC that wasn’t perfect for the display.

Set Your Jackass Dials to Nine 

Barry Randall, writing for the WSJ’s MarketWatch:

And if you think that the built-in fingerprint reader on the new iPhone 5S means something, well, it doesn’t. For years I followed Authentec, the company Apple bought to acquire this fingerprint technology. Using a biometric solution like fingerprint recognition was going to go mainstream any day now. Any day now. Until it wasn’t. It turns out, passwords work just fine. And they never have a smear of peanut butter on them to stymie the fingerprint reader.

OK, sure.

Like the PC business before it, I think the handset hardware business is moving toward a zero-margin, loss-leader existence, where the customer experience is defined by software and systems often controlled by others. Tim Cook should ask Michael Dell how that transition has turned out.

A writer for a Wall Street Journal publication just suggested that Tim Cook, CEO of the most-profitable personal computer maker in the world, call Michael Dell to find out how the PC business is going. OK, sure.

Intel and Apple: An Interesting Tidbit 

Russ Fischer at Seeking Alpha speculates that perhaps it’s Intel, not TSMC, that’s fabricating the new A7 chip. That’d be a hell of a score for Intel. (Hell of a score for TSMC, too, if it turns out it’s from them.) Looking forward to iFixit’s 5S teardown.

Google Wallet Dumps NFC Requirement 

Shocker.

DPI Love 

Simple web app to calculate the pixels-per-inch density of any display.

9to5Mac: ‘Apple Stores to Show Off iPhone 5S Touch ID Feature Using Demo App’ 

Mark Gurman:

We’ve learned that Apple has designed a demo application specific to the iPhone 5s demo units that will be found in Apple Stores and Carrier stores. To test Touch ID, a customer can launch the demo app. In this app, a customer can setup the device to recognize a single fingerprint. When the setup process is complete, the application will direct the user to place that fingerprint on the Touch ID sensor on the Home button. The application will then show that the Home button successfully read the fingerprint. Then, the app will tell the user to place a different finger on the Home button. The app will then show a red fingerprint outline to note that the authentication was not successful.

Cool idea for a tough-to-demo feature.

The Folly of Extrapolating Product Sales From Apple Supplier Data 

More on the very-wrong Peter Misek from Daniel Dilger at AppleInsider:

It’s interesting to note, however, that back in June, Jefferies analyst Peter Misek reported that Apple had cut production orders for iPhones, based on his “inventory checks.” Misek didn’t detail all of his research, but he did specifically note one reason for believing that Apple was cutting its iPhone orders.

“Our checks also indicate,” Misek wrote, as covered by CNET, “that Apple’s wafer starts at Samsung’s Austin fab have likely been cut.”

We don’t know that Misek’s understanding of Apple’s “wafer starts” in Austin were accurate, but if they were, there’s more than one reason for that to occur.

The problem for Misek: speculation is mounting that the A7 is produced by TSMC, not Samsung. Thus, he may be right that Apple cut orders from Samsung, but wrong about the reason. The time may have come where Apple has told Samsung to, well, take its flunkies and dangle.

Claim Chowder: Peter Misek, Jefferies Analyst 

Philip Elmer-DeWitt, on a client note from Peter Misek back in December 2012:

He expects the iPhone 5S (“new super HD camera/screen, a better battery and near field communications”) to ship in June or July, and says that several iPhone 6 prototypes are reported to be floating around.

Not sure about “super HD” but the camera and battery are improved — but neither of those were hard to predict. Everything else: wrong. The display is unchanged, Apple still hasn’t touched NFC, and it didn’t ship in June or July. And if by “super HD” he means something greater than 1080p video, like 4K, then he was wrong on the camera too.

Good job, Peter Misek. (He also predicted a “TV event” hosted by Apple for March.)

Mariano Rivera, Gum-Thrower Extraordinaire 

Yankees pitcher David Robertson, heir apparent to Mariano Rivera as Yankee closer, on Rivera’s proclivity for bullpen pranks:

I tell you what: people don’t realize Mo’s gum-throwing skills. He’s exceptional at it. He has great aim. I want to say maybe it was 2009 and we were sitting in the bullpen here in New York, just watching the game. I think it was in September. I was sitting on one side of the bullpen and he was sitting on the other side at this point. And he takes a piece of gum that he’d been chewing on for a while, and tosses it at me, and manages to stick it directly in my ear, like right in the side of my ear.

So like a 20-foot throw, just lands perfectly. [The gum] is all nasty and gooey and in my earhole and I couldn’t believe he did it. Of course he was laughing, and I was laughing because I couldn’t believe he actually made that shot, but it was hysterical. It’s funny, when I think of Mo, I think of him throwing gum at me all the time. And now I throw it back at him all the time, so it’s a constant war.

‘He’s Been CEO for Much Longer Than It Seems’ 

Excerpt from an interview of Horace Dediu by Eric Jackson:

Q: Is Tim Cook the right CEO for the company at this time?

A: I hold the belief that he’s been CEO for much longer than it seems. Jobs was not a CEO in any traditional sense. He was head of product and culture and all-around micromanager. He left the operational side of the company to Cook who actually built it into a colossus. Think along the lines of the pairing of Howard Hughes and Frank William Gay. What people look for in Cook is the qualities that Jobs had but those qualities and duties are now dispersed among a large team. The question isn’t whether Cook can be the “Chief Magical Officer” but rather whether the functional team that’s around Cook can do the things Jobs used to do.

Exactly. That’s not to say Steve Jobs was not in charge, nor that he is not sorely missed. But Tim Cook has been, effectively, running the company for a long time. There are certain decisions and moments requiring leadership where the burden falls on the CEO. But much of Jobs’s authority — product design, marketing, media negotiations — now falls on the shoulders of executives like Jony Ive, Phil Schiller, and Eddy Cue.

App Store Ghosts 

Apple just unveiled a seemingly neat new App Store feature — the ability to download an older version of an app if the latest version of that app requires a newer version of iOS than the one you have installed on your device. Sounds great, right? Kyle Richter raises some interesting questions about it, though:

No one ever told us [developers] about it. Let me rephrase that, because it sounds pretty entitled. No developer expects Apple to run this kind of stuff by them ahead of time. The problem is no one ever thought this was a possibility. The common misconception here is when an app is updated it is updated to add new features and maybe some bug fixes. These new features may require a newer version of iOS so old users are left in the cold. The truth is a lot happens under the covers during updates, API endpoints are updated, data models changed, multiplayer protocols changed, even legal issues are addressed.

The likelihood of any complex app, especially anything API driven, working after several years of neglect are slim.

Regarding Apple Not Yet Announcing iPhone 5C Pre-Order Numbers 

One never quite knows what drives the stock market, particularly when it comes to Apple, but the consensus is that Apple’s stock took a hit yesterday partly because the company didn’t release opening weekend sales numbers for the iPhone 5C.

Of course they didn’t. Apple is remarkably open financially compared to nearly all its competitors (e.g. Amazon has never once, not once, announced Kindle sales figures — and good luck getting Nexus sales figures out of Google, or a precise definition of an “Android activation”), but even Apple keeps much data to itself. Apple has never broken down by model number the sales of iPods or iPads. They’re not going to start now with the iPhone. They don’t want competitors to know the breakdown of 5C/5S sales. If we get a sales number announcement from Apple, it’ll come next week, after the 5S goes on sale for a weekend, and the figure announced will be that of all new iPhones sold. I bet.

Natural Born ‘Killers’ 

Peter Kafka, AllThingsD, headline “As Amazon Preps Its Apple TV Killer, It Plays Nicely With Apple TV”:

Amazon is planning on going head to head with Apple TV later this fall.

But before that happens, it will work nicely with Apple TV: Amazon’s Instant Video app now supports AirPlay, which means you can stream old episodes of “The Good Wife” on your iPad, and fling them to your big screen.

What purpose does the word killer serve in that headline, other than to serve as shameless click bait? They’re purportedly releasing an Apple TV competitor.

Remember when the Kindle tablets were billed as “iPad killers”? Writers and editors should triple-check before using that word to mean competitor, lest they embarrass themselves.

‘If They Had Asked Us’ 

My Q Branch colleagues Dave Wiskus and Brent Simmons join me on the latest episode of my podcast, The Talk Show. The topic: last week’s Apple announcements and news — the iPhones 5S and 5C and iOS 7.

Brought to you by three great sponsors:

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Apple Market Share: Facts and Psychology 

Great piece by Jean-Louis Gassée on the “market share spells doom for Apple” naysayers:

Remember netbooks? When Apple was too greedy and stupid to make a truly low-cost Macintosh? Here we go again, Apple refuses to make a genuinely affordable iPhone. There will be consequences — similar to what happened when the Mac refused to join netbooks circling the drain.

PCalc 3.0 for iOS 

Great iOS 7 update to one of my all-time favorite apps. PCalc is on my iPhone’s first home screen.

Ralph Baer, ‘Father of Home Video Game Consoles’ 

Great short film profile by David Friedman. Baer turns 90 in March, and he’s still working.

‘Plastic Perfected’ 

First commercial for the iPhone 5C.

The iPhone 5S Secure Enclave 

Fascinating piece on Quora by Brian Roemmele on the new “secure enclave” in the A7 SOC of the iPhone 5S. (That’s where the encrypted fingerprint biometric ID is stored.)

Imagine what Apple could have come up with if they were still capable of innovation.

If It Looks New, It Is New 

Jenna Wortham, writing for the NYT Bits blog, on the allure of the iPhone 5C:

I told her that I’d been eyeing the gold one myself, even though I already had a perfectly good phone right now. She said the gold and silver ones looked nice, but that they weren’t flashy enough for her. Most people wouldn’t be able to immediately tell it was a gold iPhone simply by looking at it, she said.

“I want people to know that this is a new phone,” she said.

The interaction made me wonder if my knee-jerk reaction to the C-series phones was too hasty.

Like I wrote last week, in marketing, what looks new is new. If you don’t think the iPhone 5C is going to be a huge hit, call me up and let’s wager some money.

Rebel Fighters in Syria Use iPad Accelerometer to Aim Homemade Mortar 

Talk about unexpected applications.

Burberry Using iPhone 5S to Shoot London Fashion Show 

Interesting promotion, both in terms of showing off the 5S camera and in terms of branding. Check out Burberry’s Instagram feed for examples.

Six New Shows on Mule Radio 

Big day for Mule Radio, the network that hosts The Talk Show. They just added six new shows, including Jeffrey Zeldman’s Big Web Show, and Issues, a brand-new comic book podcast co-hosted by Ed Casey and Mike Essl.

Phonebloks 

Cool idea for a modular phone design, but cool ideas don’t count for much. Show me a working implementation and I’ll believe it’s feasible, let alone useful. Two other thoughts:

  • I don’t think the green angle works to sell this. They’re saying “Hey, with this, you wouldn’t have to throw your whole phone away every year or two.” But even if Phonebloks works as advertised, you’d still be throwing out old components on a regular basis, and the march of progress is such that it won’t take long until your base board is outdated too.

  • Interesting that even with its modular design, none of the examples involves a hardware keyboard. Remember when that was commonly held up as a flaw in the iPhone? Seems like a long time ago.

Update: Looks like there’s some sort of QWERTY keyboard module in one of the screenshots; I was going from the video.

Adobe Typekit 

My thanks to Adobe for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote Typekit. Typekit makes it easy to use great fonts on your website, across all modern web browsers and mobile devices. With a Typekit account, you have access to thousands of beautiful fonts from the world’s best foundries and independent type designers. Great fonts, great software.

Simple Cameras 

Mike Johnston:

But camera manufacturers don’t seem constitutionally capable of making a super-simple camera. They must be deeply convinced that the complexity of the feature set (which certainly does appeal to a lot of us) is an indivisible part of how they add value to their product, and the temptation to add more and more is something they can’t forswear even for one product. I mean, with hundreds of cameras on the market, wouldn’t you think they could make one that was super-simple, just for that segment of the population that wants it? And market it that way. You’d think. But no.

I think it’s one of the “stealth reasons” why cellphones are encroaching on the camera market so rapidly. Not the only reason, not the main reason, but a reason. (I also think that as cameraphones gain an ever-enlarging share of the camera market, the cameras in them will inexorably get more complicated.)

Bingo.

We Have a Winner for the Dumbest Thing Written About Apple This Week 

Fraser P. Seitel, writing for Fortune:

Jobs famously presented Apple products, always dressed in jeans and a black turtleneck sweater. Cook presents Apple products in jeans and a black open-collar shirt; evidently believing that switching the shirt for the turtleneck suggests a break with the past.

It doesn’t.

Why not take a risk and purchase a blue blazer! Anything to break the deleterious chokehold of the Steve Jobs’ legacy.

The whole piece, from top to bottom, is jacktastic, but the above advice truly takes the cake.

Nokia Was Working on an Android Phone While Microsoft Was Working on a Surface Phone 

Nice scoop by Nick Wingfield:

And now, it is clear that a Nokia Android phone was more than a possibility. It was real.

A team within Nokia had Android up and running on the company’s Lumia handsets well before Microsoft and Nokia began negotiating Microsoft’s $7.2 billion acquisition of Nokia’s mobile phone and services business, according to two people briefed on the effort who declined to be identified because the project was confidential. Microsoft executives were aware of the existence of the project, these people said.

And Tom Warren reports for The Verge:

While Nokia was testing Android in a variety of different ways, Microsoft was busy experimenting with a Surface Phone. Sources familiar with Microsoft’s plans have revealed to The Verge that the company built a number of prototype devices to test the viability of such a phone. We’re told that Terry Myerson, who now heads the Windows, Windows Phone, and Xbox operating systems, was in charge of the secret Surface phone project. We understand the company had originally considered the idea of its own phone devices as a “Plan B” if Nokia wasn’t successful with Windows Phone.

Think of all the wasted and duplicated effort between these two companies; if they were going to get married they should have done it two years ago.

Microsoft Posts, Then Retracts, Goofy Ad Mocking iPhone 5C and 5S 

Forget the issue of whether the guy they’re pitching to resembles Steve Jobs. That’s a non-issue. This is just a terrible ad.

The irony is that Steve Jobs himself explained it best: “The problem with Microsoft is they just have no taste. They have no taste and I don’t mean that in a small way, I mean that in a big way.”

Sonderklasse 

Craig Hockenberry:

Mercedes-Benz first introduced it on the S-Class line back in 1978. It was a revolutionary technology and the first hint of how digital electronics would change the course of the automotive industry.

The S-Class pioneered many other safety innovations: crash crumple zones, air bags and traction control are a few of the most notable. This line has also become synonymous with comfort and luxury: it was the first Mercedes to be available with an automatic transmission.

Right now there’s only one iPhone that runs 64-bit code, has the M7 motion co-processor, shoots 120 FPS slow motion video, and has a Touch ID sensor. Two years from now, these will be standard features across the line.

See also: similar thinking from Matthew Panzarino.

‘The Most Forward-Thinking Apple Yet’ 

Interesting analysis of this week’s Apple announcements from Sisir Koppaka. Bottom line: it seems like Apple has been quiet recently, but what they’re doing is laying groundwork.

Ray Dolby, R.I.P. 

What a legacy. The man’s name is synonymous with audio excellence.

Cubed Podcast, Episode 1 

New podcast featuring an all-star team: Ben Bajarin, Benedict Evans, and Ben Thompson. Nice.

Meet Hacking Team 

Adrianne Jeffries, writing for The Verge:

Ettercap was so powerful that its authors, ALoR and NaGA, eventually got a call from the Milan police department. But the cops didn’t want to bust the programmers for enabling hacker attacks. They wanted to use Ettercap to spy on citizens. Specifically, they wanted ALoR and NaGA to write a Windows driver that would enable them to listen in to a target’s Skype calls.

That’s how a small tech security consultancy ended up transforming into one of the first sellers of commercial hacking software to the police. ALoR’s real name is Alberto Ornaghi and NaGA is Marco Valleri. Their Milan-based company, Hacking Team, now has 40 employees and sells commercial hacking software to law enforcement in “several dozen countries” on “six continents.”

Microsoft Launches iPad Trade-in Promotion 

Never would have happened if Steve Ballmer were still alive.

Intermission 

If I told you there was a cool new Mac app for pausing and rewinding live Internet audio streams — think TiVo for radio — I bet you’d say, “That sounds like something Rogue Amoeba would make.” Well, you’d be right.

Why the iPhone’s Fingerprint Sensor Is Better Than the Ones on Older Laptops 

Mary Branscombe, writing for CITEworld:

With the new sensors you don’t have to move your finger, just press it against the reader. And like the sensor in the iPhone 5S, the sensors that will be in laptops and keyboards and other phones can detect the ridge and valley pattern of your fingerprint not from the layer of dead skin on the outside of your finger (which a fake finger can easily replicate), but from the living layer of skin under the surface of your finger, using an RF signal. That only works on a live finger; not one that’s been severed from your body.

This will protect you from thieves trying to chop off your finger when they mug you for your phone (assuming they’re tech-literate thieves, of course), as well as from people with fake fingers using the fingerprint they lifted from your phone screen.

Good to know.

Apple and Photography 

Justin Williams:

I don’t know what to attribute Apple’s camera magic to. Whether it’s hardware, software, or just that they care more than any other manufacturer I’m not sure. All I know is that for everything that Android and Google are getting right these days, they still haven’t gotten close to touching Apple in the area that is of utmost importance to me: photo quality.

I think it’s all three: software, hardware, and caring more. And also that they control the whole thing, hardware and software.

The 64-Bit Question 

John Paczkowski:

J.K. Shin, Samsung’s mobile chief, said on Wednesday that his company also has 64-bit devices in the pipeline. “Not in the shortest time, but yes, our next smartphones will have 64-bit processing functionality,” Shin told the Korea Times.

Apple has gone through a 32-64 bit transition before, with Mac OS X, and it was fairly seamless for users and developers alike. Will be interesting to see how Android fares.

Indeed, there’s little to be gained from slapping a 64-bit chip into today’s smartphones, aside from being the first to say you’ve done so.

“Adding 64-bit processor capabilities adds nothing to the user experience today, as it would requires over four gigabytes of memory,” Patrick Moorhead of Moor Insights and Strategy, and a former executive at AMD, told AllThingsD. “Most phones today only have one to two gigabytes of memory, and it will be years before the norm is four.”

That’s nonsense. There are serious performance gains by going 64-bit. Addressing more than 4 GB of memory is not the only advantage.

Derek Jeter Shut Down for Remainder of Season 

This is going to make the Yankees’ sneak-into-the-wildcard-go-on-to-win-it-all World Series victory this year bittersweet. Love this guy.

2013 Philadelphia FARE Walk for Food Allergies 

Amy Gruber:

We’ve been dealing with Jonas’s allergy since he was 11 months old. His first exposure to dairy was intense. He exploded in hives. His tongue swelled. We got him to an emergency room, where he was given epinephrine and steroids. His second exposure, very fortunately, was in a controlled hospital setting, but even worse. He went into anaphylactic shock. His third exposure, a waiter incorrectly brought real ice cream instead of soy ice cream. Jonas vomited after a single bite, but was otherwise fine. Generally, as a parent, you are mortified if your kid pukes in a restaurant. Here, I felt like we could just call it even. No hard feelings.

For the last few years, my wife has raised money for a charity that means a lot to our family. DF readers have been wonderfully generous with this, and it would mean a lot to me, my wife, and my son if you were again. Thanks.

Dyson Accuses Samsung of Vacuum Cleaner Design Rip-Off 

Jennifer Rankin, reporting for The Guardian:

“This looks like a cynical rip-off by the giant Korean company Samsung,” said company founder, Sir James Dyson. “Although they are copying Dyson’s patented technology, their machine is not the same. Samsung has many patent lawyers so I find it hard not to believe that this is a deliberate or utterly reckless infringement of our patent.” Samsung dismissed the claims as “groundless”.

Shocker.

The ‘S’ in iPhone 5S Stands for ‘Sensors’ 

Ian Betteridge:

But the really interesting – and in the long-term important – sensor in the iPhone 5S is the M7, a “motion co-processor” which allows it to measure data from the accelerometer, gyroscope and compass without draining the battery as heavily as would be required if the A7 processor were used. Effectively, using the CoreMotion API, apps can access data about movement all day, without destroying the battery life.

Think about that for a second. Your phone can now measure everything that the likes of a Jawbone Up or Nike Fuelband can. Plus, it can do it all day, with the processing power of a 64bit computer to crunch that data when it needs it. And that power is available to developers, to create applications which single-purpose devices like the Fuelband will never be able to match.

Seems like the sort of chip that could fit into a lot of other products, too.

‘With iBeacon, Apple Is Going to Dump on NFC and Embrace the Internet of Things’ 

Hari Gottipati, writing at GigaOM:

Apple has avoided NFC, and all the rumors about NFC getting added to iPhone 4 and iPhone 5 are turned out to be false. Instead of NFC, Apple worked on alternatives using Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. During the introduction of iOS 7′s AirDrop at WWDC in June, Apple’s mobile development chief Craig Federighi said, “There’s no need to wander around the room, bumping your phone,” referring how NFC phones need to be very close to transfer the data.

iBeacon has flown a bit under the radar thus far. Could be huge combined with Touch ID.

Apple Rivals Bought Twitter Ads Against the iPhone Event Today 

Sapna Maheshwari, writing for Buzzfeed:

Nokia UK , Samsung, LG, and Microsoft’s Windows Phone all bought Twitter ads to show up at the top of users’ timelines on searches for “Apple” or “iPhones,” today, taking advantage of an event that generated more than 25,000 related tweets per minute. According to Twitter, that’s on par with the volume of tweets sent about Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps’s race at the 2012 Olympics — in other words, huge.

But where was Jack Dorsey? At the Apple event.

Rich Mogull on the Security Implications of Fingerprint Scanning 

Rich Mogull, writing for TidBITS:

Practically speaking, for most consumers, a fingerprint is more secure than a passcode on your iPhone. It’s definitely more secure than a four-digit passcode.

But the real reason is that using fingerprints creates better security through improved usability. Most people, if they use a passcode at all, stick with a simple four-digit passcode, which is easy for an attacker to circumvent with physical possession of your iPhone. Longer passphrases, like the obscure 16-character one I use, are far more secure, but a real pain to enter repeatedly. A fingerprint reader, if properly implemented, provides the security of a long passphrase, with more convenience than even a short passcode.

Actually, according to Apple’s information today, most people don’t use any passcode at all to lock their phones. So if Touch ID gets widespread adoption it could be a huge win for security across the whole iPhone user base.

The Odd Placement of the Circles Cut Into the iPhone 5C Case 

Matthew Panzarino:

I mean, Apple had the iPhone in hand when it was designing these cases to go along with it. It could have easily made sure that the name was either exposed or covered. Or that the ugly regulatory text was obscured.

Does seem a little weird. Feels like a nice case, though, if you like a rubbery texture.

Video of Today’s Apple Event 

Do yourself a favor and watch for yourself. The event was brief and to the point.

Duds Don’t Start Revolutions 

Mike Elgan, regarding Samsung’s Galaxy Gear and Qualcomm’s Toq:

Press and pundits are treating these new entrants as the beginning of the revolution. But they’re not. They’re throwback, unserious relics from the past. They will both fail in the market. And they don’t represent the awesome smartwatch lineup to come.

No points for a swing and miss.

What’s Behind Microsoft’s Fall From Dominance? 

Good piece by Barry Ritholtz for the Washington Post:

Microsoft had its deal with the devil: Its lightning in a bottle was not some awesome technology or brilliant breakthrough – it was a clause in a contract that led to an enormously profitable monopoly. It then pre-installed Office in new PCs, creating a second monopoly and billions more in profits. By then, Office had become the dominant productivity software suite. Eventually, Microsoft’s server and tools division — which includes Windows Server and Microsoft SQL Database — also became a de facto standard.

Google’s motto, “Don’t Be Evil,” was a not-so-subtle swipe at how Microsoft had achieved its dominance.

‘The Limits of Innovation’ 

A long-time DF reader put forth this January 2004 Fast Company feature by Carleen Hawn as the best (i.e. worst) Apple claim chowder of all time. I wouldn’t go that far (the top of my all-time claim chowder list is mostly filled with 2007 iPhone doubter pieces), but this one does deserve consideration. It’s not comically bad, but rather a profound misunderstanding of where Apple stood a decade ago. A taste:

“Companies that rely too heavily on creativity flame out,” [Howard] Anderson says. “In many ways, execution is more important. Apple is innovative, but Dell executes.”

And:

Without the iPod, Apple is in trouble. That’s why recent releases of competing portable music players take on great significance. Selling for as little as $299, the Dell DJ is about $100 cheaper than the iPod with the same 5,000 song capacity. (A $500 iPod holds 10,000 songs). A third product, a 20-GB unit made by Samsung to work with Napster 2.0, costs $100 less than the 20-GB iPod, or about $300, and boasts a lot more features, including a built-in FM transmitter — to play songs on a car radio — and a voice recorder.

Ben Thompson on iPhone Pricing 

Smart take. The key takeaway: do not expect the iPhone 5C to be cheap or low-cost. It’s going to be at least $500 unsubsidized, I think. Lower cost, not low cost.

Update: My day-before best guess on what we’ll see tomorrow: new 5S takes over the high end spot in the lineup. The new iPhone 5C takes the mid-range spot currently occupied by the 4S, and the 4S quietly hangs around for another year as the third-tier model. I now think the 5C is replacing the plain no-letter iPhone 5. But don’t take my word for it, I’m heading into this event mostly in the dark.

Demo-wise, I’m most looking forward to seeing Apple’s iOS 7 designs for their App Store apps — iBooks, Find My iPhone, iPhoto, iMovie, iWork, etc. Update 2: Alas, now I’m hearing no updated iLife apps tomorrow. They have to update iBooks, though, right?

PS Vita TV 

Interesting new $100 set top box from Sony.

Game Over 

Horace Dediu and Dirk Schmidt analyze the sales numbers for Nintendo and Sony game consoles. The trend is bleak and clear:

The graphs above combine both Nintendo portable/consoles and Sony portable/console sales. Note the similarity in patterns of growth. It’s one thing to suggest that Nintendo consoles have “failed”, it’s another to show that Nintendo consoles and portables have failed, and yet another to show that two competitors in the games business seem to be failing in unison across all their product lines. The cyclicality is also over a long period of time: The peak for the combined Sony/Nintendo was in 2008, five years ago.

No coincidence about the timing of that peak. It coincides with the beginning of the post-PC era.

The implications are that Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft are beyond the point of no return in this industry. Gaming, as a business, cannot be sustained as a platform independent of a general purpose computer. Like other “applications” that used to have systems built around them conforming to their needs the dedicated-purpose solutions came to be absorbed into the general-purpose platforms. And the modern general purpose computer is the smartphone.

My only quibble is with that last word, smartphone. Tablets are just as big a part of this trend. Better, I think, not to treat smartphones and tablets as separate categories, but merely as different sizes of the same thing.

The Engineering Mindset vs. Graphic Design 

If you only read one more piece regarding the new Yahoo logo, it should be Glenn Fleishman’s.

New Micro USB 3.0 Cable: Hideous 

Looks like some sort of joke.

Shutterstock 

My thanks to Shutterstock for completing the trifecta, sponsoring the DF RSS feed for the third straight week. Shutterstock has a library of over 27 million stock photos, illustrations, vectors, and videos. The size and breadth of their collection is just amazing. I still remember the old days, doing design work in the ’90s with a collection of stock art on CDs scattered around the office. And Shutterstock adds over 10,000 images every day, from photographers around the world.

Shutterstock’s artwork is available by subscription and a la carte, and visitors can browse the entire collection for free. They even have a terrific free app for the iPhone and iPad. Everyone who does design work should check them out.

Brian Hogan: ‘Gizmodo Took Advantage of Me.’ 

Remember Brian Hogan, the guy who found the iPhone 4 in a bar and sold it to Gizmodo back in 2010? Ends up Gawker screwed him out of the money they promised him. Classy.

The Cringe-Inducing Amounts of Stretching, Resizing, and Let’s-Screw-Up-the-Kerning-and-Baseline-for-the-Hell-of-It Adjustments in the New Logo Remind Me of Someone Taking a Burberry Suit and Purposely Cutting One Sleeve Longer Than the Other ‘Just for Fun’. 

Dave Rahardja on the new Yahoo logo. Couldn’t agree more.

Pinterest and Path to Battle Over Letter ‘P’ Logo Trademark 

I’d like to see the Philadelphia Phillies get involved.

Say Goodbye to the iPod Classic? 

Christina Bonnington, writing for Wired Gadget Lab:

One thing we’re not expecting to see Tuesday? A new iPod classic.

“I don’t see Apple investing any more into the iPod classic, even just to upgrade the connector,” Forrester analyst Charles Golvin told Wired. Anthony Scarsella, chief gadget officer of Gazelle.com, shares a similar sentiment.

I’m surprised it stayed in the lineup last year.

The NSA Can Decrypt Much Encrypted Web Traffic 

This comes as no surprise, but it’s fascinating nonetheless. They’ve achieved much of this via cheating — not by cracking the encryption through brute force but by obtaining the keys, and by helping to engineer and establish encryption standards with weaknesses known by (or designed by) the NSA itself.

Apple Forces Omni Group to Abandon Upgrade Pricing for Mac App Store Purchases 

Ken Case:

My apologies: I’m afraid we will not be able to offer upgrade pricing to our Mac App Store customers after all. So long as we continue to sell our apps through the Mac App Store, we are not allowed to distribute updates through other channels to apps which were purchased from the App Store.

Really wish Apple would add a paid upgrade mechanism to the App Store, but I don’t think it’s in the cards.

Stephen Coles on Yahoo’s New Logo 

It’s just ugly to my eyes. Very disappointing, and bodes poorly for Yahoo. Bad taste begets bad products.

Update: Marissa Mayer on the logo and the design process.

More on Google Play Services and Android Fragmentation 

Nice post from Android developer Chris Lacy:

New Android OS features are often able to be used on older versions of Android via either the Support Library or 3rd party libraries. As an example, the action bar was first introduced in 3.0 (aka Honeycomb), yet Action Bar Sherlock and recently the Support Library allow apps targeting earlier versions of Android to display an action bar in their app. The point here: developers can write apps that look, feel and function like they were written for the latest version of Android but have them run on legacy versions of Android.

Later:

Between the endless screen sizes, browsers and their versions, input methods and operating systems, one would say the web is fragmented beyond all repair, but has that stopped it flourishing? No.

The argument isn’t whether fragmentation is preventing Android from flourishing. The argument is about how much of a pain in the ass it is to develop for. Comparing it to the web is apt in that regard.

Behind the Scenes of Microsoft’s Nokia Acquisition 

Nick Wingfield, reporting for the NYT Bits blog:

Microsoft and Nokia decided to reconvene over Memorial Day weekend in May at the London offices of Simpson Thacher, one of Microsoft’s law firms, when a small disaster struck.

Mr. Ballmer and Brad Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel, were walking across the law firm’s lobby, when Mr. Ballmer — absorbed in reading a document from Nokia related to the deal — tripped on a glass coffee table. Letting out a loud shriek, Mr. Ballmer fell to floor, hit his head and began bleeding above his eyebrow.

Executives from Nokia sequestered in a conference room elsewhere in the offices were baffled by the sound, wondering whether Mr. Ballmer was reacting badly to a counter-proposal they had made. His security detail patched him up, and Mr. Ballmer resumed negotiations.

By the afternoon of the next day, participants in the discussions noticed the coffee table was gone.

A bloody mess, both literally and figuratively.

Another Nokia Explanation 

Ben Thompson:

The problem for Microsoft in mobile is that Android has completely destroyed the value of a licensed OS; Microsoft’s traditional software model is broken.

And Microsoft doesn’t really know what to do.

‘The Hell With You, I’m Not Putting My Camera There’ 

Ken Adam on working with Stanley Kubrick:

When Letizia, Sir Ken’s Italian-born wife, came out to Ireland she was shocked at his state of mind. She persuaded him to return to England and see a doctor for the sake of his health.

“So now I was in hospital in England with a breakdown. Stanley rang the hospital every day to see how I was doing and if I was still alive. The day I left he phoned me at home.

“He said: ‘Ken you were right: we’re going to change the way we’re making the film and you’ll love it. I’m sending a second unit to Potsdam in Germany to pick up extra material and I want you to direct it.”

Sir Ken laughs. “Well I found that idea such a huge shock I had to go straight back to the clinic and check in again.”

Google Play Services: Google’s Solution to Android Fragmentation 

Ron Amadeo, writing for Ars Technica:

Calling Play Services an “app” doesn’t really tell the whole story. For starters, it has an insane amount of permissions. It’s basically a system-level process, and if the above list isn’t enough for whatever it needs to do next, it can actually give itself more permissions without the user’s consent. Play Services constantly runs in the background of every Android phone, and nearly every Google app relies on it to function. It’s updatable, but it doesn’t update through the Play Store like every other app. It has its own silent, automatic update mechanism that the user has no control over. In fact, most of the time the user never even knows an update has happened. The reason for the complete and absolute power this app has is simple: Google Play Services is Google’s new platform.

The big thing is that it’s available on 98.7 percent of active Android devices. So for Google’s own services, Android fragmentation is a solved problem. I don’t see how this helps third-party developers deal with Android fragmentation, though (other than integration between their apps and Google services). Google has solved their own fragmentation problem, and that’s it.

Qualcomm Announces $300 ‘Toq’ Smartwatch 

Better than Samsung’s, because it has an always-on display:

The watch, which is pronounced “talk” and is expected to sell for around $300, uses Qualcomm’s Mirasol display — a screen technology that combines the long battery life of E-Ink-style displays with color and other features usually found on an LCD display. It also packs Qualcomm-backed WiPower LE wireless charging, and connects to an Android phone via Bluetooth.

But it’s not even a serious consumer product:

“We expect to make tens of thousands of these, not hundreds of thousands,” Qualcomm executive Rob Chandhok said in an interview. “A success, for us, looks like our partners picking up and running with this. Qualcomm isn’t turning into a consumer electronics company.”

Bottom line: if your “smartwatch” is no more elegant than a previous-generation iPod Nano snapped onto a watchband, don’t even bother.

‘Many Dear Friends Wish I Would Shut the Fuck Up Regarding the Gotham Filter.’ 

Michael Lopp:

I have an opinion about Gotham. Yes, I’m spending my time obsessing about a retired, apparently unpopular Instagram filter, but my obsession is a gateway drug. It leads to the real addiction of building a defensible opinion.

‘A Little Bit of Dancing on Their Grave’ 

My podcast, The Talk Show, returns from its summer hiatus. We’re easing back into things with a brief two-hour plus episode featuring special guest John Siracusa. We talk Microsoft, and we talk Nintendo. It’s a good one.

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Samsung’s Galaxy Gear Watch 

Vlad Savov:

There are a couple of significant downsides that temper my enthusiasm for the new Gear. First and foremost is the speed and intuitiveness of the user interface — or rather, the lack thereof. There’s a tangible lag to anything you do with the Gear, while the swipe gestures are hard to figure out and do different things depending on where you are in the menus. […]

Also important will be the Galaxy Gear’s battery life. It does use the Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy standard to communicate, but at 315mAh its battery is decidedly small. Samsung promises “about a day” of endurance from the Gear, but by the end of our briefing with the company, the cameras on most of its demo units were refusing to turn on due to the watches running low on power.

About the best you could expect from Samsung without having anything to copy from Apple: overpriced, ugly, laggy UI, terrible battery life, dubious utility.

Android 4.4: KitKat 

Leo Kelion, reporting for BBC News:

The decision to brand the software with the name of Nestle’s chocolate bar is likely to be seen as a marketing coup for the Swiss food and beverage maker.

However, Google told the BBC that it had come up with the idea and that neither side was paying the other. “This is not a money-changing-hands kind of deal,” John Lagerling, director of Android global partnerships, told the BBC. Instead, he said, the idea was to do something “fun and unexpected”.

Weird.

Amazon Releases Next-Generation Kindle Paperwhite 

I’ve read a bunch of books on my Paperwhite; if they’ve fixed the light leaks I’ll buy one of these too. (Still wish they’d hire someone to fix their crap typography, though.)

Matt Drance on Microsoft/Nokia 

Matt Drance:

One thing must be observed: all the major mobile players — Apple, Google, Microsoft, and oh what the hell, BlackBerry — now own a top-to-bottom technology stack. Alan Kay was right as ever when he said “People who are really serious about software should make their own hardware.”

What if Microsoft Had Bought BlackBerry in 2009 Instead? 

Interesting thought experiment from Dan Frommer.

Michael Mace: ‘Now We’re All Like Apple’ 

Michael Mace:

Ten years later, the idea of an independent operating system licensed to all comers is a fading ideal. The two leading operating system licensors in mobile have now bought major hardware companies: Google with Motorola and Microsoft with Nokia. Both companies continue to license their software, of course, but clearly they don’t feel that’s enough. They need to also create hardware.

When you look at it in terms of tech history, this is a stunning change. I’m having trouble thinking of another industry that changed its basic assumptions so thoroughly in such a short period of time.

And:

In its presentation on the deal, Microsoft bragged about how it’s “outselling BlackBerry in 34 markets”. This is not the first time I’ve seen Microsoft use BlackBerry as its measure of success, and it needs to stop. It’s like bragging that you outran a dead guy in a marathon.

Microsoft Claims They Still Plan to License Windows Phone to Other Handset Makers 

Terry Myerson, vice president of the operating systems group at Microsoft:

Today’s announcement doesn’t change that — acquiring Nokia’s Devices group will help make the market for all Windows Phones, from Microsoft or our OEM partners.

Google’s acquisition of Motorola certainly didn’t halt OEM licensing of Android, but I don’t see it working that way for Windows Phone. Practically speaking, Nokia is already the only serious Windows Phone OEM.

A Week Using a Chromebook 

Jeffrey Van Camp:

The biggest realization came for me when I turned on my MacBook Air after a week. (I had to because I needed to take a Skype call.) It was so … fast. And I could use every Chat service I wanted. And the battery life was much better than the Pixel. And it was so much lighter. And I could run the full version of Spotify. And I could open iTunes. And I could edit Microsoft Office documents without a lengthy conversion process. And I could use Dropbox. And it didn’t slow down for me. And, best of all, I could use the Chrome browser, and every Chrome app I had installed, on my Mac. It was wonderful and such a relief to not have to think about what I couldn’t do, or worry if my next email attachment will open or not.

My favorite bit is this update:

Some readers say I’ve expected too much out of Chrome, but wanting to edit some documents, chat outside a browser window, and use common services is not excessive.

How can someone “expect too much” from a $1,450 notebook?

AT&T Provides Massive Phone Call Database to Federal Agents 

Scott Shane and Colin Moynihan, reporting for the NY Times:

The scale and longevity of the data storage appears to be unmatched by other government programs, including the N.S.A.’s gathering of phone call logs under the Patriot Act. The N.S.A. stores the data for nearly all calls in the United States, including phone numbers and time and duration of calls, for five years.

Hemisphere covers every call that passes through an AT&T switch — not just those made by AT&T customers — and includes calls dating back 26 years, according to Hemisphere training slides bearing the logo of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. Some four billion call records are added to the database every day, the slides say; technical specialists say a single call may generate more than one record. Unlike the N.S.A. data, the Hemisphere data includes information on the locations of callers.

All of it in the dark:

The program was started in 2007, according to the slides, and has been carried out in great secrecy. “All requestors are instructed to never refer to Hemisphere in any official document,” one slide says. A search of the Nexis database found no reference to the program in news reports or Congressional hearings.

There Will Never Be Another Nokia Smartphone 

Branding details:

Under the terms of Microsoft’s $7.2 billion acquisition of Nokia’s devices and services division, the “Asha” and “Lumia” trademarks will transfer to Redmond, but the “Nokia” mark will remain property of the Finnish company, and may only be used on featurephones running the basic Series 30 and Series 40 operating systems under a 10-year license agreement. (Nokia itself is barred from using the Nokia brand on any mobile devices at all until December 31st, 2015.) That means any future Windows Phones built by the newest division of Microsoft will be Microsoft-branded — and that Nokia has said its goodbyes to a smartphone market it once helped to create.

Kindle MatchBook 

Amazon:

For thousands of qualifying books, your past, present, and future print-edition purchases will soon allow you to buy the Kindle edition for $2.99, $1.99, $0.99, or free.

This is the e-book/print combination I’ve wanted since 2007.

From the DF Archive: ‘Surface: Between a Rock and a Hardware Place’ 

Yours truly, last June:

If I’m right, it’s inevitable now that Microsoft will acquire Nokia.

I’m pretty good at this claim chowder stuff.

Microsoft to Acquire Nokia Handset/Services 

So I guess Stephen Elop has jumped far out in front as the odds on favorite to take over from Ballmer.

John Siracusa: Nintendo in Crisis 

John Siracusa:

Any advice that leads in a different direction is a distraction. There’s no point in any plan to “save” Nintendo that fails to preserve what’s best about the company. Nintendo needs to do what Nintendo does best: create amazing combinations of hardware and software.

If you want to hear Siracusa and me argue about this, you’re going to love the next episode of The Talk Show.

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