Linked List: October 2014

On Not Moving On 

Casey Newton, The Verge:

There was a time when I struggled to come to terms with myself; when I felt alone; when I scanned the horizon looking for someone to point the way forward for me. There was a time when the only other gay men I knew were the ones I saw in TV and movies, and they seemed nothing like me. It feels embarrassing to say now that what I wanted back then was a role model — someone confident in himself, powerful, a real leader — to give me permission to be myself. But I very much did.

If you don’t think Tim Cook’s coming out yesterday matters, that it’s not worth savoring and celebrating, you are mistaken.

Adam Engst on BBEdit 11 

Adam Engst:

Bare Bones Software has released BBEdit 11, a notable upgrade to the venerable text editor that, I’m extremely pleased to say, requires an upgrade fee. Why would I be happy about the opportunity for current users to spend money? Because it reinforces the fact that we are Bare Bones’ customers. We’re the ones that Rich Siegel and company are trying to please.

It’s remarkable that an app I first started using in 1992 on System 7 is still going strong today.

‘The Life Aquatic’ Trailer in the Style of Kubrick’s ‘The Shining’ 

Nice work by Iván Róbert, mashing up two of my favorite films.

‘The Best Bullpen in Baseball Was Him’ 

Loved this take on the Giants’ World Series victory from Adam Kilgore:

The Kansas City Royals clung this October to the well-founded belief they owned the most dominant bullpen in the major leagues. On Wednesday night, Madison Bumgarner emerged from the gates of the left field corner at Kauffman Stadium and informed them of their mistake. The best bullpen in baseball, Bumgarner let them know, with no shortage of menace, dangled from his colossal left shoulder. The best bullpen in baseball was him.

Bumgarner’s entire postseason performance, culminated with his amazing appearance to finish game seven, is one of the greatest athletic feats I’ve ever seen. And then to end the whole thing with the potential KC tying run just 90 feet away from home plate? Two days later I still can’t believe how good a game that was.

Former Android Leader Andy Rubin Leaving Google 

Alistair Barr, reporting for the WSJ:

Andy Rubin, co-founder and former leader of Google Inc.’s Android mobile business and the current head of its nascent robotics effort, is leaving the Internet giant, the company said Thursday.

Mr. Rubin is starting an incubator for startups interested in building technology hardware products.

Took a lot longer than I expected, given the acrimonious nature of his being removed as Android’s chief. Maybe he was waiting for stock to vest or something?

How Spotlight Suggestions Handles Privacy 

Great piece by Rich Mogull for TidBITS on how Apple is handling privacy with Yosemite’s new Spotlight features:

As a security analyst, I worry constantly about becoming biased, especially with a company like Apple whose products are so deep a part of my life. To avoid this, I spend a tremendous amount of time researching and validating my findings before publishing them. While this may be pie-in-the-sky thinking, I believe journalists and publications should make similar efforts to avoid bias, and tamp down the desire for explosive headlines that leads to inaccurate reporting, particularly when such articles increase paranoia unnecessarily.

Samsung Reports Lowest Profit in Three Years 

Reuters:

The company, the global leader in smartphones, has lost market share in annual terms for the last two quarters, lagging Apple in the premium market and overtaken by rivals like Lenovo and Xiaomi at the bottom end.

Samsung said its third-quarter operating profit fell by 60.1 percent from a year earlier, to 4.1 trillion won ($3.9 billion), matching its guidance issued this month and signifying the weakest result since the second quarter of 2011.

The press has long pitted Samsung as a direct rival to Apple, but it’s always been clear that the low end of the phone market was a huge part of their mobile business. I don’t see how they get that back, now that Lenovo and Xiaomi have caught up, nor do I see how they take any of the high-end market from Apple.

But let’s face it: “only” $3.9 billion in profit is not a bad problem to have. They’re still a massively successful company.

Dan Frommer on CurrentC, and Why Retailers Are Unlikely to Devise a System Customers Will Like 

Dan Frommer:

While Apple Pay is designed to make payments as easy as possible — by riding on existing payments infrastructure, with security and privacy in mind — using CurrentC actually looks harder than typical payment techniques. Because it’s designed to skirt the existing credit-card infrastructure, CurrentC’s current version only supports payments via checking accounts and certain store cards. And it comes with a questionable privacy requirement: To “confirm your identity,” CurrentC demands both your driver’s license number and social security number.

When it comes to actually paying, the system gets even more cumbersome. CurrentC describes the process on its support site: You need to select a “Pay with CurrentC” option on the register, activate your phone, open the CurrentC app, enter a four-digit passcode, press the “Pay” button, “either scan the Secure Paycode that the cashier presents (default) or press the Show button at the bottom of your screen to allow the cashier to scan your Secure Paycode,” select the account you want to pay with, and then press a “Pay Now” button.

John Moltz quips:

Not only will I never use this system, I will strangle the first person I’m behind in a checkout line who tries to use it.

The Inside Story of Matt Taibbi’s Departure From First Look Media 

This is a shame, because I was really looking forward to Taibbi’s Racket, which he envisioned as a modern-day Spy magazine. But it’s no wonder Taibbi bristled under these First Look guys:

Taibbi and other journalists who came to First Look believed they were joining a free-wheeling, autonomous, and unstructured institution. What they found instead was a confounding array of rules, structures, and systems imposed by Omidyar and other First Look managers on matters both trivial — which computer program to use to internally communicate, mandatory regular company-wide meetings, mandated use of a “responsibility assignment matrix” called a “RASCI,” popular in business-school circles for managing projects — as well as more substantive issues.

The lack of autonomous budgets, for instance, meant that in many cases Omidyar was personally signing off on — and occasionally objecting to — employee expense reports for taxi rides and office supplies. Both Cook, The Intercept’s editor-in-chief, and Taibbi chafed at what they regarded as onerous intrusions into their hiring authority.

You start talking about “mandatory responsibility assignment matrixes” and I start counting my lucky stars that I don’t have to deal with shit like that.

Tim Cook: ‘I’m Proud to Be Gay’ 

Tim Cook, writing in Businessweek:

We’ll continue to fight for our values, and I believe that any CEO of this incredible company, regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation, would do the same. And I will personally continue to advocate for equality for all people until my toes point up.

When I arrive in my office each morning, I’m greeted by framed photos of Dr. King and Robert F. Kennedy. I don’t pretend that writing this puts me in their league. All it does is allow me to look at those pictures and know that I’m doing my part, however small, to help others. We pave the sunlit path toward justice together, brick by brick. This is my brick.

So great.

‘Still’ 

Sephko on Google conquering the world.

Assessing the Damage Caused by Credit Card Rewards 

Ron Lieber, writing for the NYT back in 2010:

Life might be simpler and more efficient if retailers could levy a surcharge that covers their costs to accept cards and let consumers figure out whether to pay it. But the card companies don’t allow that, and Congress hasn’t yet forced their hand, though this is now how things work in Australia (where some retailers charge excessive fees, alas).

So what’s an American consumer to do in the meantime? For help answering that, I turned to Dave Hanson. Mr. Hanson, a Spokane, Wash., resident, is one of the savviest card users I know. He also happens to have studied philosophy in graduate school at the University of Chicago and taught applied ethics at Gonzaga University.

He’s not cutting up his cards just yet. “The marginal effect of my individual use of plastic simply won’t impact the larger outcome,” he said. “The assumption that we ought to act in a way that we wish all of us would act ignores the fact that there is no mechanism by which we can ensure that we will all act that way. And we won’t.”

The only practical solution would be for Congress to mandate lower transaction fees. I fail to see how this either should or could be Apple’s problem to solve.

Yahoo Finance: ‘Apple Pay Sides With Credit Card Industry Over Consumer Interests’ 

Aaron Pressman, writing for Yahoo Finance:

Apple has regularly delighted its customers with cool products on its way to becoming the most valuable company in the United States. But it hasn’t always stood up for its customers’ best economic interests.

Take the case of Apple Pay. Apple partnered with the three major credit card networks, Visa, Mastercard and American Express and the big bank card issuers such as JP Morgan Chase. That is likely a smart move from a business perspective, because so many Apple customers are frequent credit card users and prior mobile payment services have had trouble gaining much traction.

But the partnership decision also meant Apple was taking sides in a long running war between the credit card industry on one side and retailers and consumer advocates on the other.

Retailers typically pay 2% or more on every credit card purchase, costs that cut into their margins and raise prices for all shoppers.

First, the headline. I think it’s clear that Apple Pay is siding with the credit companies and banks — but they’re not pitted against consumers, they’re pitted against retailers. It’s retailers who want to reduce the use of credit cards (and the resulting fees). Not consumers. Any consumer who doesn’t want to use a credit card can simply not use a credit card. (They can still use Apple Pay with debit cards.) Apple Pay is only allowing us to more easily and securely use the credit/debit cards we already have. For consumers, nothing is worse post-Apple Pay (transaction fees are not higher — the banks pay Apple’s 0.15 percent cut), and much is better (security, privacy, and convenience).

I understand the argument that the 2-3 percent processing fees that retailers pay for credit cards are ultimately passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices, but for consumers that can be offset by cash back and reward programs from their card providers.

I don’t understand how this article amounts to anything more than “Apple should have used magic” hand-waving. What could Apple have done differently that would have actually worked, without involving credit card processors? Remember, Apple Pay doesn’t require retailers to install Apple Pay-specific POS terminal hardware. It famously works with the standard NFC hardware that’s been out for years. Building atop the existing credit card infrastructure is fundamental to people’s willingness to try Apple Pay and to retailers’ ability to accept it. Pressman is implicitly arguing that Apple should have somehow reinvented the entire retail electronic payments industry, without the help of the banks or credit card companies, and presumably with the cooperation of retailers. But we see with CurrentC/MCX the sort of things the retailers would have demanded of Apple in such a hypothetical systems.

Update: Another point. Who is to say that Apple Pay won’t add additional non-credit-card payment options going forward? This is just the start. But the start needs to be something that gets the whole thing off the ground.

Towards an Ideal OpenType User Interface 

Kris Sowersby:

I like InDesign. I think it’s a good application. However, as a maker and seller of fonts, it pains me that a poor interface hinders and obfuscates the OpenType features I build into my fonts. I am certain all other type foundries feel the same. I would love InDesign — and all OpenType-savvy apps — to honour and respect the work we put into our fonts. This also means respecting the user, whether she be a student or professional.

Gerry Leonidas says “prototyping the proposed interface will need to be done in an app-agnostic way, and from a document designer perspective.” He’s absolutely right. My proposals are therefore not limited to InDesign. Anyone is free to steal these ideas!

Much of what he’s proposing is very similar to the typography palette built into Mac OS X’s text system. What I find absurd is that you can use many of these features in TextEdit (Apple’s free text editor), but not in Pages (Apple’s purportedly professional word processor). They worked up through Pages ’09, but were sacrificed in the name of iOS and web app compatibility.

Anita Sarkeesian on Video Games’ Great Future 

Anita Sarkeesian, in an op-ed for The New York Times:

Those who police the borders of our hobby, the ones who try to shame and threaten women like me into silence, have already lost. The new reality is that video games are maturing, evolving and becoming more diverse.

Those of us who critique the industry are simply saying that games matter. We know games can tell different, broader stories, be quirky and emotional, and give us more ways to win and have fun.

As others have recently suggested, the term “gamer” is no longer useful as an identity because games are for everyone. These days, even my mom spends an inordinate amount of time gaming on her iPad. So I’ll take a cue from my younger self and say I don’t care about being a “gamer,” but I sure do love video games.

Exactly right. The dead-enders are lashing out, in brutally ugly ways, because they’ve already lost. But they haven’t even lost their games — all they’ve lost is their de facto position as the only sort of game players who mattered.

72 Hours of Gamergate on Twitter 

Andy Baio, writing for The Message on Medium:

Anyone who’s mentioned the #Gamergate hashtag in a critical light knows the feeling: a swarm of seemingly random, largely-anonymous people descending to comment and criticize.

I’ve been using Twitter for eight years, but I’ve never seen behavior quite like this. This swarming behavior is so prevalent, it got a new nickname — “sea lioning,” inspired by David Malki’s Wondermark comic.

I wanted to understand #Gamergate, how its proponents and critics behaved and the composition of both audiences.

So I wrote a little Python script with the Twython wrapper for the Twitter streaming API, and started capturing every single tweet that mentioned the #Gamergate and #NotYourShield hashtags from October 21–23.

Three days later, I was sitting on 316,669 tweets, along with a bunch of metadata for trying to understand the composition of both sides of the #Gamergate movement.

Fascinating research.

The FTC Is Suing AT&T for Throttling Its Unlimited Data Customers 

Brian Fung and Craig Timberg, reporting for The Washington Post:

Federal officials on Tuesday sued AT&T, the nation’s second-largest cellular carrier, for allegedly deceiving millions of customers by selling them “unlimited” data plans that the company later aggressively controlled by slowing Internet speeds when customers surfed the Web too much.

The Federal Trade Commission said the practice, called “throttling” and used by AT&T since 2011, resulted in slower speeds for customers on at least 25 million occasions — in some cases cutting user Internet speeds by 90 percent, to the point where they resembled dial-up services of old. The 3.5 million affected customers experienced these slowdowns an average of 12 days each month, said the FTC, which received thousands of complaints about the practice.

Insert non-sarcastic finally here.

“It’s absolutely outrageous,” said John Bergmayer, a senior staff attorney at Public Knowledge, an advocacy group based in Washington. “They’re not allowed to promise one thing and deliver another… Unlimited is not unlimited when you put limits on it.”

In-Depth Look at CurrentC and the Personal Data They Want to Collect 

Nick Arnott, investigating for iMore:

On launch, the app immediately does a few things. First, it starts sending pings to https://my.currentc.com/mobile/pinggateway every two seconds or so. No interesting data is sent in the requests and blocking them seems to have no impact on the app. Next, a deviceState request goes out. In the request are your device type (iPhone or iPad) and a unique device identifier. This identifier is stored in the device keychain so even if you delete the app and re-install, it persists, allowing CurrentC to track users across app installs. The third and last request seen on launch is a call to Localytics. Localytics is a mobile analytics company and is used in countless other apps. As with the many other apps using Localytics, this call seems to include a variety of analytics information: not surprising for many apps, and not surprising for CurrentC (though it probably should be for an app seeking to handle payments and personal data).

Looks like an awful lot of personal information going over the wire.

How Apple Pay Really Works 

Kirk Lennon:

One of the objections I’ve seen to Apple Pay is “How is it faster/easier than just sliding my card?” The truth is, it isn’t always. It’s rarely going to take longer than sliding a card, but it’s not always going to radically faster either. However, it is much, much more secure. Merchants simply can’t be trusted with your card number, and the only real solution is to never give it to them. Apple Pay solves that, and it does so in a way that embraces industry standards and is easy and maybe even a little bit fun.

Good explanation of how Apple Pay works, and why it’s far more secure than swiping your actual card.

‘Why CurrentC Will Beat Out Apple Pay in the End’ 

Matthew Mombrea, writing for IT World:

What it boils down to is the fact that one technology is designed for the users (Apple) and the other is designed for the merchants (CurrentC). Normally I’d say that the product with the most user appeal will win but the power and size behind the CurrentC group is too big to ignore.

Noted for future claim chowder.

Charles Duhigg’s 2012 Report on Target’s Customer Data Collection 

Worth a revisit — Charles Duhigg’s 2012 report on Target’s customer data collection:

Andrew Pole had just started working as a statistician for Target in 2002, when two colleagues from the marketing department stopped by his desk to ask an odd question: “If we wanted to figure out if a customer is pregnant, even if she didn’t want us to know, can you do that?” […]

The desire to collect information on customers is not new for Target or any other large retailer, of course. For decades, Target has collected vast amounts of data on every person who regularly walks into one of its stores. Whenever possible, Target assigns each shopper a unique code — known internally as the Guest ID number — that keeps tabs on everything they buy. “If you use a credit card or a coupon, or fill out a survey, or mail in a refund, or call the customer help line, or open an e-mail we’ve sent you or visit our Web site, we’ll record it and link it to your Guest ID,” Pole said. “We want to know everything we can.”

Also linked to your Guest ID is demographic information like your age, whether you are married and have kids, which part of town you live in, how long it takes you to drive to the store, your estimated salary, whether you’ve moved recently, what credit cards you carry in your wallet and what Web sites you visit. Target can buy data about your ethnicity, job history, the magazines you read, if you’ve ever declared bankruptcy or got divorced, the year you bought (or lost) your house, where you went to college, what kinds of topics you talk about online, whether you prefer certain brands of coffee, paper towels, cereal or applesauce, your political leanings, reading habits, charitable giving and the number of cars you own.

This is what retailers like Target want to preserve, or even improve upon, with CurrentC. And this is exactly the sort of thing that Apple Pay, with its per-purchase unique tokens — is designed to prevent.

Tim Cook: Apple Pay Is Already the Leader in Contactless Payments 

Nathan Ingraham, reporting from the WSJD Live event:

It’s only been a week since Apple Pay made its debut, but apparently the launch has been successful thus far. Speaking at the WSJD Live event, hosted by The Wall Street Journal, Cook said that Apple is already the leader in “contactless” payments, “more than the total of all the other guys.” Within 72 hours, Apple apparently activated one million cards, and we presume it’s only gone up significantly since then.

One week, and Apple is already the market leader — using the same systems that Google Wallet and whatever else is out there have been using for years. And in retail locations (as opposed to within apps) it only works with one-month-old iPhone 6 devices.

I’ve seen people arguing that Apple hasn’t really brought much to the table here, that Apple Pay is nearly the same as Google Wallet except for Touch ID. I think it’s nonsense to dismiss the importance of Touch ID (and the secure element that goes along with it) to the success of Apple Pay. But even if we concede for the sake of argument that there’s nothing technologically novel involved with Apple Pay, the company still deserves enormous credit for making a breakthrough.

It’s just marketing, and Apple’s ability to let their users know about new features like Apple Pay, and their ability to partner with a bunch of nationwide chains right off the bat. There’s no “just” about any of that. Getting users to know about new features is not easy. Getting partners on board is not easy. Selling tens of millions of brand-new phones in the first month is not easy.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating. These NFC terminals have been in stores for years, and never became popular. Then Apple Pay went live one week ago, and the iPhone is already the market leader.

A Detailed Look at the CurrentC App Interface 

Josh Constine, writing for TechCrunch:

Thanks to research shared with TechCrunch by Stanford student and developer sleuth Andrew Aude, we have more details on MCX’s plan and a closer look at the CurrentC app.

The reviews of the app on the App Store are a hoot. And because these retailers are shutting off NFC terminals completely to block Apple Pay, the whole thing has united Android and iOS users on Reddit.

Wells Fargo Offering Customers $20 to Try Apple Pay 

Eric Slivka, writing for MacRumors:

In an effort to encourage users to adopt Apple Pay, Wells Fargo has just launched a program offering credits of up to $20 just for trying out the service. Wells Fargo credit card users can receive one-time $20 credits, while debit and prepaid card users can receive $10 credits simply by using their iPhone 6 or 6 Plus to complete an Apple Pay purchase on their cards through November 30.

That’s how much the banks like Apple Pay. They’re giving you money just to try it.

‘As Long as Visa Suffers’ 

Ron Shevlin, writing last month for Snarketing 2.0 on CurrentC:

Furthermore, let’s review again the impetus behind the MCX consortium. If merchants simply needed a place to push out more coupons and drive more business, they could have partnered with Google or Apple. But they didn’t. They set up their own payment processing capabilities, because the real impetus here is avoiding interchange fees.

Interchange fees vary greatly, of course, but it’s fair to estimate that, at a transaction level, the fee ranges from 1% to 5% of the transaction value.

That’s why CurrentC doesn’t work with Visa/Mastercard/Amex. The retailers are trying to create a system that cuts the card networks — and their transaction fees — out of the equation. The problem with that is that, as Tim Cook emphasized in the Apple Pay introduction, people like their credit cards. Credit cards are a lucrative business and a highly competitive market.

Retailers want to cut credit cards out of the equation; consumers don’t. For that reason alone, I see CurrentC as doomed.

Shevlin closes with this anecdote:

At last year’s BAI Retail Delivery conference, I hosted a meeting of CMOs from large FIs, which featured Lee Scott, the former CEO of Walmart (who is a member of MCX). I asked Mr. Scott why, in the face of so many failed consortia before it, would MCX succeed?

He said: “I don’t know that it will, and I don’t care. As long as Visa suffers.”

Apple Pay and Accessibility 

Steven Aquino:

But more than that, Apple Pay has the potential to be such an asset to the disabled. In my case, as someone with low vision and (mild) cerebral palsy, no longer do I have to fumble around my wallet trying to find my credit card or struggle with swiping my card into the terminal. All I do is pull my phone out of my pocket, rest my thumb on the home button, and I’m done. No eye strain, no dexterity issues, nothing. Just tag and go.

Apple Pay doesn’t need a special mode for accessibility. It’s just so simple and easy that the regular mode is highly accessible. And the things that make it accessible are the same things that make it so quick and convenient for those without accessibility needs. That’s good design.

Pixate 

My thanks to Pixate for once again sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Pixate is an amazing design tool for mobile developers. Pixate enables you to visually prototype mobile apps that run natively on iOS and Android. Here’s a comment from an actual Pixate user: “Designing with Pixate is like using the original iPhone for the very first time.” Pixate sounds like magic, but it’s real. If you design or develop mobile apps, take a few minutes and watch the demo at the website and see for yourself.

Getting an iPad Air 2 on Verizon 

Sam Davies, after having to go to a Verizon retail store to get a SIM for his new iPad Air 2:

Verizon is throwing money away by trying to take control back from Apple. People who don’t follow this stuff are never going to do what I did. They’re going to buy an iPad Air 2 and just choose service from one of the providers on the Apple SIM. Even if they know to go to the Verizon store, they might be turned away by an uninformed clerk.

Verizon is trying to get people to buy tablets from them. Verizon wants to change tablet buying from “buy anywhere” to “buy from your carrier’s store”.

I was under the impression that when you bought an iPad Air 2 from Apple online, you could specify whether you wanted an Apple SIM (AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile) or Verizon, but no, you can’t. When you order online you only get an Apple SIM, and if you want to use it on Verizon you have to go to either an Apple or Verizon retail store.

I think Davies is right: this is a mistake on Verizon’s part.

Layer Tennis: DKNG vs. DDL 

I’m in the commentator booth for today’s Layer Tennis match, a tag-team match between Dan Kuhlken and Nathan Goldman of DKNG Studios in Los Angeles, and Billy Baumann and Graham Erwin from Delicious Design League in Chicago. Check out the poster design work these guys do — amazing work from both sides.

Get your beverages ready and prepare to get nothing done for the rest of the day. Match starts in about an hour, 2 pm Chicago time.

Update: Just finished. Great match — terrific artwork and a lot of laughs.

AT&T Locks Apple SIM to Their Network 

Apple support document:

Using Apple SIM, you can choose from different cellular carriers and their various programs. The data plans vary by carrier. For instance, in the United States, you can choose a domestic plan from either Sprint or T-Mobile and also pick an alternate plan from the other carrier as needed. When you choose AT&T on iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3, AT&T dedicates Apple SIM to their network only.

If your Apple SIM becomes dedicated to a specific network and you want to choose from other carrier programs, you can purchase a new Apple SIM from an Apple Retail store.

Sprint and T-Mobile leave the SIM alone.

Markua 

Leanpub:

Markua is a superset of almost all of Markdown that has a strictly defined mapping to book and documentation concepts and that generates PDF, EPUB, MOBI and HTML.

I love these “start with Markdown and build something new on top of it” projects.

‘Backtrace’, Debut Album From James Dempsey and The Breakpoints, Debuts at Number Five on Billboard Comedy Chart 

Dave Mark, writing for The Loop:

James Dempsey is just a regular guy, a Mac and iOS developer who worked at Apple for about 15 years, toiling away on OS X releases Leopard through Lion, the Cocoa frameworks team, and Aperture.

Dempsey is also a songwriter, writing songs with a focus on development, with titles such as Model View Controller and Gonna Needa Pasteboard. Back in 2001, James got the chance to perform a song at WWDC that was received well enough that a yearly tradition was born. His band, James Dempsey and the Breakpoints has been spooning out these developer novelty songs ever since.

“Do what you love” is always good advice. What do you get when you love making music and Cocoa programming? You get this. So great to see it doing well.

Khoi Vinh on Yosemite’s Look and Feel 

Khoi Vinh:

This is true with Yosemite, too. Spend just a bit of time with it, and you can almost picture the iterations to come, when future releases will have fully worked out the visual language and the gestalt of the interface will have cohered to a more advanced state. OS X Balboa and OS X Palisades are going to look great.

In the meantime, though, I find Yosemite lacking in polish, full of awkward decisions and unresolved tensions.

This is probably my favorite Yosemite review that I’ve seen, or at least the one that comes closest to my own thoughts on Yosemite’s visual design. It’s a great start, but it can improve in so many ways.

Regarding contrast, Khoi writes:

My biggest complaint, personally, is that this fresh coat of paint does a poor job on visual contrast. Interface elements are often so light in color and/or so close to one another in color that they “bleed” into each other all the time. The effect is a blown-out look, as if a novice photographer stepped up the exposure on her camera well beyond advisability.

I spent yesterday with “Increase contrast” turned on (System Prefs: Accessibility: Display). It’s a really interesting look — like a modern-day descendant of the original Mac UI from Systems 1-6.

Porno From Apple 

Carl Smith:

It turns out Apple thought the best way to tell us our app could be used to surf porn was to surf for porn using our app. Then send us some pictures and say take a look at these! Except they said, “Please see the attached screenshot for more information.” So with no warning…

CLICK — Well hello there handsome! […]

Apple sent us pornography without trying to mask it and with no warning of what we were going to see. This means they exposed employees of my company to things Apple themselves said was objectionable. How is this acceptable?

Crazy. I can’t help but suspect that this was the result of a mistaken App Store reviewer, not company policy. A mistake, not a policy. But still: crazy, right?

That said, I think Smith could have toned down the get-me-to-the-fainting-couch histrionics.

BBEdit 11 

Solid update to my favorite app of all time. Markdown? Created in BBEdit. My articles on Daring Fireball? The long ones have all been written in BBEdit. Some really nice improvements to syntax coloring in 11.0, and the new “Extract” feature in the Find dialog is a “Where’ve you been all my life?” addition.

As Rich Siegel spoke about at Çingleton a few weekends ago, BBEdit 11 is no longer sold through the Mac App Store. Old-school download only.

(And of course, as usual, the full release notes set the gold standard for detail.)

The Ethics of The Guardian’s Whisper Bombshell 

Ryan Chittum, writing for Columbia Journalism Review:

What The Guardian did was entirely ethical. Whisper told its reporters highly newsworthy facts about its own service. The information was all on the record. The Guardian reported it. It would have been a journalistic lapse for the paper not to have told readers what it had learned.

In fact, even had the sessions been off the record, or as Primack asserts, implicitly private, The Guardian would have had to give serious consideration to burning its sources if it couldn’t otherwise confirm the information. I’d argue that the right of the public to know that it is being gravely misled clearly outweighs the agreement by the paper not to publish that information.

The Difference 30 Years Makes 

Kent Akgungor:

80 of the original Macintosh displays fit within a single Retina 5K display.

Gmail Inbox 

Google at its best: a thorough reimagining of what email should be (along with some imitation-is-the-sincerest-form-of-flattery inspiration from Mailbox). There’s a lock-in element here, because this takes Gmail even further — a lot further — from the concepts of standard IMAP, but how can you improve email in big ways without changing email in big ways?

Interesting too, that it requires a beta invitation and an altogether new app, separate from the regular Gmail app.

World Series Ballparks Are the First Pro Sports Venues to Support Apple Pay 

For the record, I’m rooting for Kansas City.

The Ikealook Hotel 

Speaking of Kubrick, Ikea has a little fun for Halloween.

BFI Releases New Trailer for ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ 

Well done. I’m curious, though, whether they needed the Kubrick estate’s permission to cut this. (Someone should have flagged those botched small caps on the quote attributions.) Also: Why is this film being re-released in cinemas in the UK but not here in the US?

Siri, a ‘Sidekick’ for the Autistic 

Wonderful story by Judith Newman, on her 13-year-old autistic son’s relationship with Siri:

It’s not that Gus doesn’t understand Siri’s not human. He does — intellectually. But like many autistic people I know, Gus feels that inanimate objects, while maybe not possessing souls, are worthy of our consideration. I realized this when he was 8, and I got him an iPod for his birthday. He listened to it only at home, with one exception. It always came with us on our visits to the Apple Store. Finally, I asked why. “So it can visit its friends,” he said.

Don’t miss this one.

Some Research on iOS’s Mysterious Storage-Consuming ‘Other’ 

Kevin Hamm:

Many people have had problems updating their iOS device to iOS 8 because they don’t have enough space. The weird thing is that many of us have plenty of space, except there’s a mysterious padding of yellow marked “Other” that is, well, unknown.

This has been going on for quite a while, and after some prodding from Wave and Gruber, I figured it was time to do some research. So, in pictures, here’s what I found.

Update: Fireballed; cached at fireballed.org.

How to Stop Mac, iPhone, iPad From Ringing for Phone Calls 

It’s a cool feature if you want it, but I have a feeling a lot of people are going to be turning it off.

Another Day, Another Writer Who Should No Longer be Allowed to Use the Word ‘Finally’ 

Mikey Campbell, writing for AppleInsider:

With today’s release of iOS 8.1, Apple finally activated SMS text forwarding from iPhone to OS X Yosemite, allowing users to send, read and reply to messages directly from their Mac.

Yosemite came out four days earlier. Four days.

Macminicolo Blog: A Look at the 2014 Mac Mini 

Brian Stucki, founder of Macminicolo:

We’ve been working extensively with Mac minis for nearly 10 years. (Yes, we’re nearing the tenth anniversary for the more-popular-than-you-think Mac. They are great servers, come and try one.) When a new machine gets released, we often get asked for feedback and any opinions on the new hardware. So below are ten things we noticed about the new Mac mini.

‘The Story Line’ 

Daisuke Wakabayashi, writing for The Wall Street Journal:

A year ago, the story line around Apple Inc. was that its formidable growth had petered out and Samsung Electronics Co. was eating its lunch. What a difference a year makes.

Driven by booming sales of its new bigger-screen iPhones, Apple on Monday said its quarterly profit rose 13%, and it predicted record holiday sales in the current three-month period.

Meanwhile, Samsung’s approach of offering smartphones at all sizes and prices in every market is struggling amid a wave of Chinese manufacturers with low-cost offerings.

I like the way Wakabayashi poses this. That was “the story line”. It wasn’t the actual truth, it turns out, it was just the story line. But whose story? Well, it was the story put forth repeatedly by, to name just one example, The Wall Street Journal itself, repeatedly. Samsung is beating Apple is a narrative that the WSJ drove. Here’s a perfect example from January 2013 (“Has Apple Lost Its Cool to Samsung?”):

Samsung’s surge in smartphones has caused more than just consumers to switch away from Apple. Some app developers have said they are now focusing more attention on Samsung devices.

Ken Yarmosh, chief executive of Savvy Apps in Washington, D.C., said his company began by making apps for Apple’s iOS operating system but lately has been focusing on Android as Samsung devices have become more prevalent, especially among his own company’s testing devices.

“There was a major flip — it was Apple, then if you have money build for Android,” Mr. Yarmosh said. “Now it’s Android first, or Android only.”

So it’s not that the WSJ was wrong. It’s the story that was wrong. Even though the WSJ wrote and drove the story. Got it.

Yosemite, Spotlight, and Privacy 

Russell Brandom, writing for The Verge, responding to a mostly-wrong piece in The Washington Post on Yosemite Spotlight and privacy:

But on closer inspection, many of the claims are less damning than they seem. There’s already a public privacy policy for the new feature, as well as a more technical look at the protections in the most recent iOS security report. That document breaks down five different kinds of information transmitted in a search: the approximate location, the device type, the client app (either Spotlight or Safari), the device’s language settings and the previous three apps called up by the user. More importantly, all that information is grouped under an ephemeral session ID which automatically resets every 15 minutes, making it extremely difficult to trace a string of searches back to a specific user. That also makes the data significantly less useful to marketers, since it can’t track behavior over any meaningful length of time. And most importantly, the data is transmitted over an HTTPS connection, so it can’t be intercepted in transit.

I’m not sure how anyone would think these suggestions would work if information weren’t being sent back to Apple. The only thing Apple could do differently is make this another one of the you-have-to-explicitly-opt-in stages when you first upgrade to Yosemite or create an account on a new Mac. But there are a lot of those on-boarding screens already — to Apple’s credit! — and in this case, even if you are using the feature, Apple has seemingly gone out of their way to protect your privacy.

This Is Tim: Apple’s CEO Answers the Analysts 

Jason Snell, now at Six Colors:

Then comes the question-and-answer session, which while hardly extemporaneous — you get the sense that most of the questions have been anticipated and talking points formulated — lets Apple CEO Tim Cook provide a level of detail into how Apple’s business is shaping up that can be illuminating.

And so, presented with minimal editing, here’s a transcript of how Cook answered the analysts on Monday.

Apple to Require 64-Bit Support and iOS 8 SDK for iOS Apps Starting in February 

Apple Developer news:

Starting February 1, 2015, new iOS apps uploaded to the App Store must include 64-bit support and be built with the iOS 8 SDK, included in Xcode 6 or later.

Keep up, or get out.

Tim Cook, in His Own Words, on the iPad’s Future 

Dan Frommer:

Apple’s iPad business was the lone drag in its otherwise strong earnings report today. iPad sales last quarter dropped 13% from the previous year, to 12.3 million, their third straight quarter of decline. The iPad, which once looked like it could become an iPhone-sized pillar for Apple, represented just 13% of the company’s sales last quarter.

It would be better for Apple if the iPad were more like the iPhone, with continuing year-after-year sales growth. Only a fool would argue otherwise. And until about two years ago, it seemed like that might be the case.

Ends up, no, the iPad isn’t the iPhone, and in a broader sense, the tablet market isn’t like the phone market. It’s more like the PC market. It would have been truly extraordinary if, with the iPad, Apple had managed to build another iPhone-sized business. But it’s still pretty extraordinary that, if you treat the iPad as a PC (and the average selling price supports that), Apple has become the largest PC maker in the world in terms of unit sales.

‘Finally’ 

Jason Parker and Nate Ralph, writing for CNet (emphasis added):

With the launch of iOS 8.1 today, Apple has finally launched Apple Pay, the new NFC payment system that lets you make purchases using an iOS device.

These guys should have their CNet CMS accounts flagged, such that they’re no longer allowed to submit copy including the word “finally”.

Apple Q4 2014 Quarterly Results 

Apple PR:

Apple today announced financial results for its fiscal 2014 fourth quarter ended September 27, 2014. The Company posted quarterly revenue of $42.1 billion and quarterly net profit of $8.5 billion, or $1.42 per diluted share. These results compare to revenue of $37.5 billion and net profit of $7.5 billion, or $1.18 per diluted share, in the year-ago quarter. Gross margin was 38 percent compared to 37 percent in the year-ago quarter. International sales accounted for 60 percent of the quarter’s revenue. […]

“Our fiscal 2014 was one for the record books, including the biggest iPhone launch ever with iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “With amazing innovations in our new iPhones, iPads and Macs, as well as iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, we are heading into the holidays with Apple’s strongest product lineup ever. We are also incredibly excited about Apple Watch and other great products and services in the pipeline for 2015.”

This is the first time I can recall that Apple’s press release for its quarterly results doesn’t include unit sales by product line — the total number of iPhones, iPads, Macs, and iPods sold. It’s listed in the “Data Summary” PDF, but not in the press release.

Year over year, iPhone sales were up (39M from 34M), iPad sales down (12M from 14M), and Mac sales had the biggest percentage change of all, up 21 percent (5.5M from 4.5M).

Update: Looks like they stopped including unit sales numbers in the press release earlier this year. Not sure why I didn’t notice then.

Paul Krugman: ‘Amazon’s Monopsony Is Not OK’ 

Paul Krugman:

So far Amazon has not tried to exploit consumers. In fact, it has systematically kept prices low, to reinforce its dominance. What it has done, instead, is use its market power to put a squeeze on publishers, in effect driving down the prices it pays for books — hence the fight with Hachette. In economics jargon, Amazon is not, at least so far, acting like a monopolist, a dominant seller with the power to raise prices. Instead, it is acting as a monopsonist, a dominant buyer with the power to push prices down.

And on that front its power is really immense — in fact, even greater than the market share numbers indicate. Book sales depend crucially on buzz and word of mouth (which is why authors are often sent on grueling book tours); you buy a book because you’ve heard about it, because other people are reading it, because it’s a topic of conversation, because it’s made the best-seller list. And what Amazon possesses is the power to kill the buzz. It’s definitely possible, with some extra effort, to buy a book you’ve heard about even if Amazon doesn’t carry it — but if Amazon doesn’t carry that book, you’re much less likely to hear about it in the first place.

Igloo 

My thanks to Igloo for once again sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Igloo is an intranet you’ll actually like. It helps you share files, blog updates, coordinate calendars, and manage projects.

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On Yosemite’s New Window Title Bar Style 

Jason Snell:

In Yosemite, there’s a new style. You see it in Safari and Contacts and Maps, to name three prominent examples. To save space, Apple has collapsed the two rows together into one. In Safari, the “stoplight” buttons are right next to the forward and back buttons, on the same level as the URL/search bar and all the rest of the toolbar items. This has the effect of reducing the height of the chrome on a Safari window, while also reducing the open space left to actually click on and move the window around the screen.

We can argue about whether or not this collapsed toolbar/title bar thing is a good idea. What bugs me is not that it exists, but that it only exists in a few of Apple’s apps. In Mail and Preview and TextEdit and even the new iWork apps, the old style prevails. The inconsistency rankles. If Apple thinks the tool/title bar is the future, why do many of its apps not follow the format?

I think the reason Apple’s not using this style in most apps is because most apps have so many toolbar buttons that there’d be very little space left for clicking to drag the window around. And without window titles, it’d be hard to tell which window is which. Safari gets away with this because the URL field acts like a de facto window title. (And given the way that so many websites junk up their <title> tags with SEO-ish cruft, the domain name/url is often better than the actual “title” for the page — and the actual titles appear on your tabs anyway.)

That’s Apple 

Matthew Palmer:

But look behind the exploded iMac. Behind the new ‘TCON’ there’s a girl holding her father’s hand. Not brought to the centre of the frame, not inflated to be the story of the video, just a consequence of this device being in their home. That’s incredible storytelling.

That’s Apple.

You either think things like this matter in product marketing, or you don’t. If you do, you’re a lot more likely to appreciate the details in Apple’s actual products themselves.

I also think it’s worth pointing out how good the special effects are in these videos. I was kind of blown away by the shot where the camera moves and zooms in on individual pixels. Impressive CGI work.

‘You’re My Favorite Client’ 

Speaking of Mike Monteiro and excellent writing, he’s got a new book. I read it this week, and it’s just great, and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen another book on this topic: a book for clients and employers on how to hire and work with designers. If I were still doing freelance design work, I’d give a copy of this book to every client I worked with. Highly recommended.

See Also: This interview with Mike by Khoi Vinh:

This book has a very unorthodox tone — the second line is an expletive! Why did you take this tack?

It’s not an unorthodox tone for me. I write like I talk. And I’ve generally always had better results being myself when I write and when I speak and when I deal with clients. Obviously, I read the room and know how much to pull back. I wouldn’t curse in front of your mom, for instance.

The Retina iMac Versus the Mac Pro, on Paper 

Marco Arment:

Intel’s next CPU cores (Broadwell) are significantly delayed, so in the meantime, they released a few more high-end Haswell models. The Retina iMac’s 4 GHz option is the Core i7-4790K, which is currently the fastest CPU in the world for most single-threaded tasks.

Since the Xeons in the Mac Pro are based on the even older Ivy Bridge microarchitecture, they’ve been lagging behind even the previous iMacs for single-threaded apps. According to early Geekbench reports, the 4 GHz, 4-core Retina iMac appears to be 25% faster than the 6-core Mac Pro in single-threaded tasks and only about 15% slower in multi-threaded tasks. That’s incredible.

I ordered one yesterday. Jaw-droppingly gorgeous display, outstanding performance, and amazing technology to make it all work. They could have gone “retina” with scaling earlier, but instead, Apple waited until they could truly go pixel-for-pixel @2× retina at 27 inches. I’ve never bought a new machine with less hesitation.

As for price, keep in mind that 10 years ago, the original 30-inch Cinema Display (resolution: 2560 × 1600 pixels) cost $3300. Just the display.

The Guardian: ‘How Whisper App Tracks “Anonymous” Users’ 

Paul Lewis and Dominic Rushe, reporting for The Guardian:

Approached for comment last week, Whisper said it “does not follow or track users”. The company added that the suggestion it was monitoring people without their consent, in an apparent breach of its own terms of service, was “not true” and “false”.

But on Monday — four days after learning the Guardian intended to publish this story — Whisper rewrote its terms of service; they now explicitly permit the company to establish the broad location of people who have disabled the app’s geolocation feature.

Whisper has developed an in-house mapping tool that allows its staff to filter and search GPS data, pinpointing messages to within 500 meters of where they were sent.

Update: Whisper denies everything in The Guardian’s report. Everything. (Curious that they put it on Scribd — why not on the company blog?) Either The Guardian blew it and got it wrong, or Whisper is lying.

Layer Tennis: Glenn Jones vs. Flavio Montiel 

My pal Mike Monteiro is doing the commentary, and he’s killing it. Redefining what it means to be a Layer Tennis commentator. If this keeps up he’s going to break my heart.

Apple in One Image 

Avinash Kaushik:

There are many signals that allow one to come to that conclusion. For me the latest one was the above slide from Apple’s keynote today. It represents that Apple family of products. Pause. Look at it. Think about it for a few seconds.

Isn’t it an amazing slide?

There are 50,000 ways to represent Apple products. But, there is perhaps only one incredible way to do it. It is above.

I thought the same thing yesterday when I saw this slide. If I recall correctly, they even showed it a second time. It’s a brilliant visualization.

The commenters on Kaushik’s piece, however, disagree. Worth a read. (Via Ben Thompson.)

The iPad Zombie 

Allen Pike:

The only thing we can do as developers to disavow support for these devices is require a version of iOS that won’t run on them. Unfortunately, Apple will surely continue support for the A5 in iOS 9. If they do so, we won’t have a mechanism to cut off support for these old iPads mini and iPods touch until iOS 10 has reached wide adoption, likely in early 2017.

2017.

Christian Bale ‘in Talks’ to Play Steve Jobs in Sorkin/Boyle Movie 

He’s got the look and the intensity. Who knows if a good movie can be adapted from Isaacson’s shitty biography, but that’s good casting.

John Siracusa’s OS X 10.10 Yosemite Review 

What a gift it is that we, as a community, have a library of Siracusa’s reviews all the way back to the dawn of the platform. A remarkable body of work.

‘Apple SIM’: iPad Air 2 Can Switch Between AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile 

Greg Kumparak, reporting for TechCrunch:

Whoaaa — here’s an interesting bit that went unmentioned in today’s Apple announcement: Apple has seemingly built a SIM card that lets you jump between AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile without having to swap it out (or, more annoyingly, track down/purchase a new SIM card when you want to switch carriers). Instead of swapping the card, you just pick a new carrier through the device’s on screen settings. As it should be!

Tucked into a page about the iPad Air 2’s wireless connectivity, Apple calls the new SIM — aptly — “Apple SIM.”

Curious that Verizon isn’t in there. I wonder if that’s a technical compatibility issue with their network, or a strategic decision on Verizon’s part?

Personally, the international advantage alone means I wouldn’t even consider a Verizon model, even though I’m a Verizon iPhone customer with a shared family account.

Yours Truly, Speaking at XOXO in Portland Last Month 

Great crowd, great venue, and an amazing array of fellow speakers. It was a real honor and a thrill to speak at XOXO. Hope you enjoy it.

Luma Labs: Loop 3 

I wrote about the Luma Loop a few years ago, but now they’re back, with an even better camera sling. I’ve got one, and it really is a remarkable piece of kit. Every detail is considered. Just one, that’s probably my favorite — adjustability:

We adapted the Cinch’s slide adjusters; both front and back to let you lock your camera down instantly. On the move? A simple slide of the adjuster tightens the Loop down and raises the camera above your hip for maximum stability. Ready to take the shot? A quick pull is all it takes to free the camera for unrestricted motion.

Simple, easy, and useful. I go months at a time without taking my Canon 5D off my Luma Loop. Highly recommended.

‘How We Got to Now’ 

Neil Genzingler, reporting for the NYT on Steven Berlin Johnson’s new series for PBS:

The opening episode, for instance, is called “Clean,” and it sets the pattern for the five that follow. We tend not to acknowledge just how recent some of the trends and comforts of modern life are, including the luxury of not walking through horse manure and human waste on the way to the post office.

The episode turns back the clock just a century and a half, to a time before our liquid waste stream was largely contained in underground pipes. Mr. Johnson then traces the emergence of the idea that with a little effort, cities and towns could have a cleaner existence, and the concurrent idea that cleanliness would have public health benefits.

Sounds like a great show. Looking forward to it.

AsyncDisplayKit 

Another intriguing open source project for iOS from Facebook:

AsyncDisplayKit is an iOS framework that keeps even the most complex user interfaces smooth and responsive. It was originally built to make Facebook’s Paper possible, and goes hand-in-hand with pop’s physics-based animations — but it’s just as powerful with UIKit Dynamics and conventional app designs.

I truly love the design work Facebook’s iOS team is doing. In some ways it feels as though they’re out there ahead of everyone, even Apple itself.

Android 5.0 Lollipop 

Android looks a lot better than it used to, that’s for sure. Most of this was revealed at IO back in June, but Android now supports 64-bit ARM CPUs (and the new Nexus 9 tablet comes with one — not sure why the new Nexus 6 phone doesn’t).

Google Announces HTC-Made Nexus 9 Tablet 

It’s new tablet week, apparently. Chris Welch, The Verge:

Nexus 9 is available in either black or white and comes in three configurations: 16GB for $399, 32GB for $479, and an LTE-enabled 32GB model for $599. Sadly, you can’t expand that storage through microSD, so we’d recommend opting for the 32GB SKU.

No “sadly” for not being able to swap the battery out? No “sadly” for not including Flash Player?

More on the Mac App Store 

Michael Tsai has a nice roundup of additional commentary on Mac developers’ increasing frustrations with the Mac App Store. The one that gets me, and which seems under-remarked-upon, is how Apple’s own apps in the App Store are exempt from sandbox restrictions. Third-party apps are never on equal footing with Apple’s, but with sandboxing, it’s almost absurd.

Mac App Store: The Subtle Exodus 

Milen Dzhumerov:

Let me make it absolutely clear why I’m writing this. First and foremost, it’s because I deeply care about the Mac platform and its future, it pains me to see developers abandoning it. The Mac App Store can be so much better, it can sustain businesses and foster an ecosystem that values and rewards innovation and high quality software. But if you talk to developers behind the scenes or explore the Mac App Store, you’ll find something completely different.

Before we look at what the Mac App Store can do better, let’s take a moment and give credit where it’s due. The Mac App Store is simply the most convenient way to purchase and download software, bar none. Unfortunately, that’s where the good things end.

Remembering Macworld Expo 

Chris Breen:

At Expo careers were launched, plots hatched, businesses created, minds changed, and friends made. It was an event that we looked forward to for months and whose ideas resonated for years. And it wasn’t just us shmoes. I saw countless Apple employees who were just as excited about the show as I was. It was the center of the Apple universe. It mattered. And it mattered because it was about more than just products and promotion. It was equally about people.

King of Click: The IBM Model M Keyboard 

Nice feature by Adi Robertson for The Verge:

The first thing you notice about the IBM Model M keyboard, when you finally get your hands on it, is its size. After years of tapping chiclet keys and glass screens on two- and three-pound devices, hefting five pounds of plastic and metal (including a thick steel plate) is slightly intimidating. The second thing is the sound – the solid click that’s turned a standard-issue beige peripheral into one of the computer world’s most prized and useful antiques.

Next year, the Model M turns 30. But to many people, it’s still the only keyboard worth using. It was recently spotted on the desk of Minecraft creator Markus “Notch” Persson, attached to a gaming PC whose graphic cards alone cost thousands of dollars. “The Model M is basically the best keyboard ever made,” he told PC Gamer. YouTube has dozens of Model M typing demos, unboxing videos, and sound comparisons between it and other mechanical keyboards. Since its introduction, the Model M has been the standard to meet for keyboard excellence.

Buckling spring keyboards have never quite felt right for me, but I can certainly see the appeal — and without question they are distinctive. Every few years I get the itch to try a new mechanical keyboard, but I still haven’t found anything I prefer to the Apple Extended Keyboard II.

Macworld Expo Bids Adieu 

IDG World Expo:

We are announcing today that Macworld/iWorld is going on hiatus, and will not be taking place as planned in 2015.

Goodbyes are in the air. Seems like a good time to re-read this piece I wrote back in 2009, after Apple withdrew from the show: “The Truth”.

Asymco: ‘What Next, Samsung?’ 

Horace Dediu:

What Samsung needs is a disruptive improvement. A disruptive improvement implies a new business model. Put another way, it means that Samsung needs to invent a new way of making money.

Good luck with that.

In a Flash Laser 

My thanks to In a Flash Laser for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. In a Flash Laser does amazing things with UV printing, laser cutting, and laser engraving. They decorate items ranging from iPads to coffee mugs. They work with businesses buying in bulk, and individuals buying one-off unique items.

Apple products are their specialty and they offer two colors of laser engraving, as well as full-color printing directly onto your device. If you’re not ready for that level of commitment, they also customize cases. (Apple’s leather cases come out great.)

They’re small, adaptable, social, and love to collaborate. Check out the examples at their website, and send them your project ideas today.

Update: Huge response, and their site is fireballed at the moment. Here’s a cached version of their home page to tide you over.

White-Hat Jerks 

Ross Floate:

As we move toward a model of the world where nearly every business is just a website with some people out the back, we’ve got to keep these jerks in mind and anticipate where they might fool around with your product to have what (to them) are a few childish laughs.

When we at Floate build things for people, I always ask “how could someone screw this up for shits and giggles?” People tend to think I’m joking but I’m deadly serious because if your site, network, or product becomes a playground for a bunch of jerks, it turns off the people whose time and attention you’re really trying to obtain. Almost nobody ever got a promotion doing that.

MacRumors: ‘Apple Reportedly Preparing to Remove Bose Audio Products From Retail Stores’ 

Kelly Hodgkins, reporting for MacRumors:

Apple is preparing to remove all Bose audio products, both demo and sellable, from its retail environment, according to a reliable source who spoke to MacRumors. The inventory change will begin early next week, with instructions for removal being sent to employees in the coming days.

The reasons behind this removal were not disclosed, but it is very likely tied to to Apple’s recent acquisition of Beats Electronics.

Dave Winer on Lock-In 

Dave Winer:

It’s true some patents hold, and some lock-in gets built on. Look at PDF for example. But there’s a reason HTML took us places PDF never could.

Cats Chasing Dogs 

From Gareth Beavis’s iPhone 6 review for TechRadar:

The rest of the interface is much as expected for an iPhone — and that’s a good thing in the eyes of most users. However, I will say that the touchscreen on the iPhone 6 isn’t as good as the competition — it doesn’t feel as responsive as the Project Butter / Project Svelte (and subsequent evolutions) that Android has been adding into the backend of its platform.

The problem manifests itself when swiping laterally through apps, and the internet browser doesn’t always have that super smooth reaction that I’ve come to expect from a modern smartphone.

I’m being really picky here, as it’s not a nuisance, but at the same time it’s perceptible compared to the competition, although nothing out of the ordinary for your average Apple user.

Really? I don’t know what Android phones he’s using, but man, if Chrome on Android is smoother-scrolling than Safari, that’s really something.

The Talk Show: ‘Copious Software Projects’ 

Special guest Guy English returns to the show to talk about iOS 8 quality concerns, and whether Apple’s annual software cycle is stretching the company too thin. Then things devolve into a bitter argument over the merits of file name extensions.

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Jony Ive Is Not Flattered by Xiaomi 

Kyle Russell, writing for TechCrunch on Ive’s appearance on stage at Vanity Fair’s New Establishment Summit:

“Many years ago we made prototypes of phones with bigger screens. They were interesting features, having a bigger screen, but the end result was a lousy product, because they were big and clunky,” Ive noted when the panel’s moderator asked why it took so long for the iPhone to get bigger.

I’m pretty sure Russell just referred to Graydon Carter as simply “the panel’s moderator”.

When a member of the audience came up to ask a question about Xiaomi and their unofficial tagline of “the Apple of China,” Ive was very straightforward with his response: “I’ll stand a little bit harsh, I don’t see it as flattery. When you’re doing something for the first time, you don’t know it’s gonna work, you spend 7 or 8 years working on something, and then it’s copied. I think it is really straightforward. It is theft and it is lazy. I don’t think it is OK at all.”

See also: Steve Kovach’s loose transcript at Business Insider.

Jony Ive on the Lessons He Learned From Steve Jobs 

On stage with Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter at the magazine’s New Establishment Summit. Interesting and thoughtful. (Via The Tech Block.)

Pointless Polls 

Sam Colt, writing for Business Insider, “Munster: Teens Aren’t Interested In The Apple Watch” (emphasis added):

Piper Jaffray conducted two surveys on the Apple Watch: one last spring and another this fall.

It found that 17% of teens were interested in “buying an iWatch for $350,” compared with 16% this fall. That’s a staggeringly low level of interest for an Apple product.

Munster notes that both surveys were conducted before the Apple Watch debuted — presumably more teens would be interested in purchasing the device now knowing what it looks like.

What’s the point of polling for interest in a product before it’s even unveiled? And for something like Apple Watch, and for a market like teenagers, before it’s been advertised?

‘Why Apple Pay Won’t Work’ 

Matt Krantz, writing for USA Today:

Investors and consumers might think Apple Pay is a game changer for the cash register. But new research shows there’s plenty of reason why Apple’s effort to dominate payments may not be as magical as some believe.

Apple Pay contains a variety of major shortcomings that will likely limit its ability to be the dominant form of payment in the future, according to a UBS note released to clients this week by analyst Steven Milunovich, quoting payments expert Richard Crone at Crone Consulting. The problems with Apple Pay stem from technical shortcomings of the system relative to other alternatives and the large fees Apple plans to charge, which banks will be eager to escape, the report says.

Filed in the pantry for future claim chowder.

End of the Road for The Magazine 

Glenn Fleishman:

Brittany Shoot, my managing editor, and I consider The Magazine a very successful experiment. As noted in our Kickstarter campaign, we’ve paid out over half a million dollars to contributors of all sorts over two years, and we have tens of thousands left to pay out this year. We’ve been profitable from the start, but ever less so. I’m a working stiff, and I can’t ride this all the way down. We’re going out happy with our work, delighted with our audience, and so ecstatic to have worked with so many terrific writers, artists, photographers, editors, designers, and others.

So, friends, this is the end. We will publish the next five issues, through Issue #58, and then say goodbye for now.

It was a good ride.

Bruce Schneier on iPhone Encryption and Law Enforcement 

Bruce Schneier:

This is why the FBI’s scare stories tend to wither after public scrutiny. A former FBI assistant director wrote about a kidnapped man who would never have been found without the ability of the FBI to decrypt an iPhone, only to retract the point hours later because it wasn’t true.

We’ve seen this game before. During the crypto wars of the 1990s, FBI Director Louis Freeh and others would repeatedly use the example of mobster John Gotti to illustrate why the ability to tap telephones was so vital. But the Gotti evidence was collected using a room bug, not a telephone tap. And those same scary criminal tropes were trotted out then, too. Back then we called them the Four Horsemen of the Infocalypse: pedophiles, kidnappers, drug dealers, and terrorists. Nothing has changed.

The uproar from law enforcement officials brings to mind a line from Orson Welles’s Touch of Evil. Charlton Heston’s character, Mexican drug enforcement agent Miguel Vargas, says, “A policeman’s job is only easy in a police state.”

(A masterpiece of a film, by the way. If you’ve never seen it, watch it.)

More DF RSS Feed Sponsorship Openings 

Speaking of revenue and pageviews, true story: I got an email yesterday from a sales rep at Taboola, pitching me on running their ads on DF. It included this line: “I see your site is not monetized at present, and I think there is room to do so in a non-intrusive manner that can still make you money.”

I don’t know what I love most about that. I think it’s that from the eyes of someone who sees Taboola ads as “non-intrusive”, what I’m doing at Daring Fireball doesn’t look like “monetization” at all. Needless to say, I find Taboola ads to be highly intrusive. (You may not be familiar with the “Taboola” name, but you’ve seen their ads. They look like this.)

DF’s weekly sponsorship system has worked wonderfully. I make a good living writing DF. Sponsors are happy with the results, and frequently return for subsequent sponsorships. And you, the readers, seem to be happy, with what are truly non-intrusive messages from sponsors who I think might truly be of interest to you. And it’s pretty cool that my model has paved the way for other small indie writers to do the same thing.

Not sure what’s going on with October, though. September sold out months in advance, and November is half-full already. But October remains wide open, including this current week, right now, today. With another Apple event next week, it’s going to be a busy month. If you’ve got a cool product or service you want to promote to the DF audience, get in touch and let’s make a deal.

Andrew Sullivan on Revenue for Journalism 

Andrew Sullivan, in an interview with Capital New York:

I think the only future for journalism is reader revenue. Without it, you are in danger of becoming a public relations or advertising company disguised as journalism, like Buzzfeed and even The Guardian. Buzzfeed is really an ad agency with some journalistic window dressing. They’re not the future of journalism; they’re the marginalization of it. And The New York Times, alas, is following suit with merry abandon.

I think he’s right about Buzzfeed, but in a different way. It’s not that reader revenue is the only future for journalism. It’s that pageview-driven revenue is a corrupting force. Pageview models so dominate online advertising that many people treat them as synonymous. They’re not. There are ways to do advertising online that don’t lead to the dangerous incentives (in a word, clickbait) and reader-hostile experiences that pageviews do.

Let a thousand non-pageview-driven revenue models bloom. Direct reader contributions are working well for Sullivan’s The Dish, and that’s great. But it’s not the only way.

WSJ: ‘Apple, Others Surprised by GT’s Bankruptcy Filing’ 

Daisuke Wakabayashi, reporting for the WSJ:

A hint of troubles at GT came last month, when Apple said it wouldn’t use sapphire screens in its new iPhones, contrary to what many observers expected. Apple added to GT’s financial pressures by not making a final $139 million prepayment loan because GT hadn’t met the technical milestones laid out by the company, the people familiar with the matter said. GT had said earlier that it expected Apple to make that payment by the end of October.

Sounds like my first take wasn’t far from the mark.

Samsung’s Woes: Saved by the Chips 

The Economist on Samsung’s plunging profits:

Samsung seems to have a different plan, however. It is betting that its chip business, which has done well in the third quarter, will provide more of its growth. On October 6th the firm announced that it will spend nearly $15 billion on a new semiconductor plant in South Korea to meet the growing demand for processors in mobile devices. Although the decline of its smartphone business will not be an existential threat to Samsung, it remains to be seen whether making chips will replace all the profits it has lost.

Ironic in the way that Microsoft profits from Android, Samsung is a major component supplier for Apple, and thus profits from the sale of iPhones.

The Horror of a ‘Secure Golden Key’ 

Outstanding piece by Chris Coyne:

Perhaps the reason the WaPo is so confused is that FBI Director James Comey has told the media that Apple’s anti-backdoor stance only protects criminals. Unfortunately he’s not seeing beyond his own job, and WaPo didn’t look much further.

Apple’s anti-backdoor policy aims to protect everyone. The following is a list of real threats their policy would thwart. Not threats to terrorists or kidnappers, but to 300 million Americans and 7 billion humans who are moving their intimate documents into the cloud. Make no mistake, what Apple and Google are proposing protects you.

Whether you’re a regular, honest person, or a US legislator trying to understand this issue, understand this list.

‘Other’ Dark Matter 

John Moltz, back in August:

My wife’s iPhone 5 has been complaining about space for months. To date she’d just keep reducing the amount of music she was keeping on it in order to install new apps. Finally I took a look at it yesterday. She only had two and a half pages of apps no videos and just 2 GB of music. Even on a 16 GB phone that shouldn’t fill it up.

Plugging it into her MacBook, I could see the “Other” part of the usage bar was huge, at least 2/3 of the bar if not half. So I suggested restoring it. I restored the phone to a base iOS 7.1.2 install and then restored the most recent backup in iTunes (yes, I back up to iTunes because I’m old school). If you’re going to try this, remember to select to encrypt the backup (and that you have a backup after doing that), that way you won’t have to enter all your passwords again.

I didn’t take notes of the sizes before restoring because I’m an idiot, but I can tell you she got back somewhere between 6 and 7 GB of space.

A bunch of the emails I’ve gotten today from readers who’ve struggled with the iOS 8 OTA update requiring more free storage space have mentioned this factor — “Other” consuming several gigabytes of space that gets freed up if you do a full restore. Not sure what’s going on there, but it seems like something Apple should look at.

HTC Re Camera 

Certainly a novel idea, but I’m not sure why anyone would buy this. It just seems pointless. Maybe they’re going after the GoPro market?

Apple Event on October 16: ‘It’s Been Way Too Long’ 

Curious slogan, given that it can’t be a reference to how long it’s been since we’ve had an Apple special event. A reference to retina iMac displays, perhaps?

And as Jason Snell points out, they’re clearly referencing the classic six-color Apple logo. I love that.

(Wild guess: Perhaps the slogan suggests the return of Mac hardware in a variety of colors?)

Apple: ‘Resolve Issues With an Over-the-Air iOS Update’ 

Just added a footnote to my piece today saying the same thing I’ll say here, but it’s worth a standalone entry: Apple should provide a link to this support document when alerting users that they don’t have enough space to install an iOS update. It’s really quite helpful.

MacRumors: ‘iOS 8 Adoption Stagnates Just Two and a Half Weeks After Launch’ 

Juli Clover, MacRumors:

After almost three weeks of availability, Apple’s iOS 8 operating system is now installed on 47 percent of devices, according to new numbers posted on Apple’s App Store support page for developers.

That marks a very slight increase in adoption over the past two weeks, as back on September 21, iOS 8 was installed on 46 percent of devices. 47 percent of iOS users continue to stick to iOS 7, possibly due to a number of bugs that have plagued the launch of iOS 8.

Very worrisome — a canary-in-the-coal-mine indicator that casual users no longer trust Apple with major iOS updates. Last year the number for iOS 7 adoption was in the 70s in October, which was a faster adoption rate than iOS 6 the year prior.

Follow-Up:Note to Self: It’s the Storage Space, Stupid”.

Samsung Warns of Lower Third-Quarter Earnings 

Dawn Chmielewski, reporting for Recode:

The company said it would report an operating profit of $3.8 billion for the quarter ending in September — a decline of nearly 60 percent from the same time a year earlier. Sales fell to $44 billion, off 20 percent from a year ago. […]

The South Korean electronics giant said that while smartphone shipments increased, its operating margins fell because of higher marketing costs, fewer shipments of high-end phones and a lower average selling price for the devices.

The company said it is responding with a new smartphone lineup that will include new mid-range and low-end devices, which would make Samsung’s products more competitive in markets such as China.

Yeah, that’s where the profits are. Good luck with that.

Analyst Claims Apple Will Consume 25 Percent of Worldwide DRAM Supply in 2015 

TrendForce:

Apple’s consumption of mobile DRAM will grow from the current 16.5 percent of the industry’s total production volume to 25 percent in 2015, as the California-based tech giant equips more smartphones, tablets and even notebook products with DRAM, said Avril Wu, Assistant Vice President of DRAMeXchange, a subsidiary of the Taiwan-based market intelligence firm TrendForce.

“Since Apple is already a major player in the mobile DRAM market, PC DRAM manufacturers will switch to mobile DRAM to meet the company’s demands,” said Wu. “This has indirectly caused supply shortages in the PC DRAM and server DRAM sectors.”

Take it with the usual recommended dose of Analyst Salt™, but that’s a rather astounding figure for a company that only makes mid- to high-end devices. (Via DF reader Ian Murren, who was speculating on Twitter today that perhaps the reason the iPhones 6 still only have 1 GB of RAM is that Apple is supply-constrained.)

Sapphire Supplier GT Advanced Shocks With Bankruptcy Filing 

Swetha Gopinath, reporting for Reuters:

GT Advanced Technologies Inc, Apple Inc’s partner in a sapphire glass plant in Arizona, filed for bankruptcy on Monday in a stunning turn of events for a company whose fortunes looked bright only a few months ago.

The stock fell more than 90 percent to 75 cents, wiping out nearly all of its $1.5 billion market worth. GT was worth more than $2.8 billion in early July on hopes of its scratch-resistant sapphire glass being a part of the new iPhones.

“It’s unbelievable.… I don’t think anyone expected this,” said Dennis Dick, a proprietary trader at Bright Trading LLC in Las Vegas.

Apology accepted, Captain Needa.

iOS 8 Third-Party Keyboards Explained and Reviewed 

Comprehensive piece by Josh Centers at TidBITS.

ThinkUp 

My thanks to ThinkUp for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. ThinkUp is social analytics for regular people. I admit I rolled my eyes a little when I heard about it, because I’ve seen so many other analytics tools/apps for social networking, and they’re usually just awful — dreadful interfaces, useless information. ThinkUp is different. It’s simple, beautiful, and clear. It’s just a way to make Twitter (and Facebook) more fun. One of the stats ThinkUp tracks: how often you drop the f-word. (Mine shot up as the Yankees season ended.)

ThinkUp has no ads, and they don’t sell your data. It’s a service you simply pay for — and they have a 14-day free trial. Sign up and see for yourself.

Tim Cook Issues Memo Marking the Third Anniversary of Steve Jobs’s Death 

Tim Cook, in a company-wide memo (italics added):

Steve’s vision extended far beyond the years he was alive, and the values on which he built Apple will always be with us. Many of the ideas and projects we’re working on today got started after he died, but his influence on them — and on all of us — is unmistakeable.

I can’t help but think that bit is more a message to the outside world.

Intel Issues Statement on Gamasutra Advertising 

Intel PR:

We take feedback from customers seriously. For the time being, Intel has decided not to continue with our current ad campaign on the gaming site Gamasutra. However, we recognize that our action inadvertently created a perception that we are somehow taking sides in an increasingly bitter debate in the gaming community. That was not our intent, and that is not the case.

As John Siracusa put it, that’s exactly the problem.

‘A Kind of Secure Golden Key’ 

The Washington Post editorial board:

How to resolve this? A police “back door” for all smartphones is undesirable — a back door can and will be exploited by bad guys, too. However, with all their wizardry, perhaps Apple and Google could invent a kind of secure golden key they would retain and use only when a court has approved a search warrant.

Just use their magic to help the good guys. Maybe if Apple and Google can’t figure this out, they can get help from the computer science department at Hogwarts.

Samsung Paid Microsoft $1 Billion Last Year 

Ina Fried:

Microsoft’s lawsuit against Samsung was unsealed on Friday, revealing that the software maker believes it is owed $6.9 million in unpaid interest from last year.

Microsoft sued in August, asking a federal court to rule that its Nokia purchase didn’t breach the company’s contract with Samsung. That contract calls for the Korean electronics giant to pay Redmond a royalty for each Android phone and tablet it makes.

A lot is at stake in the case, as is made clear by the details unsealed Friday. Microsoft notes in the suit that Samsung paid it $1 billion last year under the patent agreement.

That’s incredible. In all seriousness, could Microsoft be profiting from Android more than Google is?

Chinese Media Reports 4 Million iPhone 6 Reservations, Even Split Between iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus 

Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac:

Yesterday, Chinese iPhone 6 reservations were stated as 2 million in six hours, a rather stunning statistic. Today, an update from the Chinese media press Tencent now says that reservations have topped 4 million. If all these reservations convert into orders, China alone may beat out the iPhone 6’s launch numbers, which — at the time — were considered to be impressive.

What’s more interesting is that Tencent claims it has exact order numbers from one of the main companies offering reservations. This gives some insight into how sales will be split between the 4.7 inch iPhone 6 and the 5.5 inch iPhone 6 Plus. According to the report, Jingdong has seen 1,106,379 reservations for the iPhone 6 and 1,189,083 for the iPhone 6 Plus.

Now go back to Sunday, just five days ago, and try to make sense of this New York Times headline: “A Glum Sign for Apple in China, as Smuggled iPhones Go Begging”.

‘A Decent Lunch at a Fair Price’ 

Lovely piece by Dan Sinker on Doug Sohn, who today closed his namesake Hot Doug’s hot dog stand in Chicago:

Chicago, they say, is a city that works, and Doug, if he has done nothing else, worked. He greeted every customer and took every order for 13 years, nearly without interruption — not even for a bathroom break. His devotion made the work inseparable from the person in that uniquely Chicagoan way.

This is why, despite offers from investors and pleading from fans, Doug would never sell the restaurant, or franchise it, or even open a second location. You do your best work when you put yourself into it, and for Doug that was always literal: The idea of the restaurant existing without him was a nonstarter. When he severely broke his leg a few years ago, the entire restaurant closed while he recovered because he couldn’t work the counter.

‘ “Gamers” Are Over’ 

Here’s the Gamasutra piece by Leigh Alexander that has self-identified “gamers” so upset they convinced Intel to pull its ads from the site:

Developers and writers alike want games about more things, and games by more people. We want — and we are getting, and will keep getting — tragicomedy, vignette, musicals, dream worlds, family tales, ethnographies, abstract art. We will get this, because we’re creating culture now. We are refusing to let anyone feel prohibited from participating.

“Gamer” isn’t just a dated demographic label that most people increasingly prefer not to use. Gamers are over. That’s why they’re so mad.

She really nailed that.

Intel Buckles to Anti-Feminist Campaign by Pulling Ads From Gaming Site 

Rich McCormick, reporting for The Verge:

Intel has pulled an advertising campaign from video gaming website Gamasutra after it reportedly received a number of complaints from self-identified gamers upset that the site was championing fair gender representation in video games. The decision by the world’s largest chipmaker to remove its advertising from the site comes as a result of a coordinated campaign called Operation Disrespectful Nod, apparently orchestrated by supporters of the #GamerGate hashtag, who rail against so-called “social justice warrior” writers, journalists, and developers.

Organizers of the campaign exhorted people to contact companies that advertise on video game-focused websites such as Gamasutra and Kotaku in order to complain about five specific articles that suggested the concept of the “gamer” as an identity was fading away. In this case, their efforts were successful. “Intel has pulled its advertising from website Gamasutra,” an Intel spokesperson said to Recode. “We take feedback from our customers very seriously especially as it relates to contextually relevant content and placements.”

Embarrassing. Intel could have spent 15 minutes googling how stupid this GamerGate thing is. Now they seem completely gutless.

Google Drops Membership From Conservative ALEC 

Dustin Volz, writing for National Journal:

Last week, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt said in an interview with NPR’s Diane Rehm that the company was dropping its membership with ALEC, a coalition of corporations and state legislators that works to create and share model legislation in statehouses around the country.

Responding to a question from a listener, Schmidt attacked ALEC for helping to sponsor legislation that opposes environmental regulations and “just literally lying” about climate change.

“Everyone understands climate change is occurring, and the people who oppose it are really hurting our children and our grandchildren and making the world a much worse place,” Schmidt said. “And so we should not be aligned with such people.”

Great to see Google and Schmidt speaking out on this.

But Nelson, who was installed as ALEC’s chief executive just two weeks ago, said that Google’s departure, while disappointing, hasn’t hurt the group’s standing with other members, despite a wave of other companies announcing they, too, were leaving.

“Quite the contrary — I’ve had calls from companies that want to join,” Nelson said. “I am totally focused on growing the organization, and I am convinced we are poised for growth. We certainly are very optimistic about the future.”

In the wake of Google’s decision, several major tech companies — Facebook, Yahoo, and Yelp — announced they either already had or soon intended to leave ALEC as well. Microsoft also announced earlier this summer it was cutting ties with ALEC. The exodus was followed by a decision by Occidental Petroleum, the fourth-largest oil and natural-gas company in the U.S., to also divorce itself from ALEC.

You know you’re pretty far out on the right wing when you lose Occidental Petroleum as a member.

Eric Schmidt on Tim Cook’s Criticism on Google and Privacy 

CNNMoney:

“But at Apple, we believe a great customer experience shouldn’t come at the expense of your privacy,” Cook said on Apple’s newly updated privacy website.

Schmidt fired back against Cook, saying Google works extremely hard to protect its users’ information from other companies, the government, and hackers. He also noted customers have the option to change their settings and share less.

“Someone didn’t brief him correctly on Google’s policies,” Schmidt said. “It’s unfortunate for him.”

Not sure if Schmidt misunderstood what Cook was talking about, or if he’s being willfully obtuse. It was very obvious that Cook was talking about Google’s business model, not their security policies. It’s not about Google protecting its users from governments and criminals; it’s about protecting our privacy from Google itself and its advertisers.

KeySonic 

Speaking of third-party iOS keyboards, this one is really something. I can’t see how anyone could actually bear to use any of these, but it’s kind of funny. Hard to believe this is iOS.

Emoji++ 

David Smith:

Rather than the incredibly awkward paging interface the Emoji are listed out in a single, smoothly scrolling window. So you can easily browse through from top to bottom in only a few swipes. Along the right side is a jump bar letting you quickly skim to a particular category (organized in a way that actually puts similar things together). Long press on any Emoji to add it to your favorites list or view all your recently used Emoji in the Recents list. Simple. Fast.

First third-party keyboard I’ve tried that I actually kept installed.

(Via Casey Liss, who gives it a 👍.)

Tweetbot 3.5: iPhone 6 Support, Interactive Notifications, and iOS 8 Extensions 

Federico Viticci, MacStories:

From a visual perspective, Tweetbot 3.5 looks and works the same, keeping the foundation that Tapbots introduced with Tweetbot 3 last year. The app hasn’t changed considerably — it has evolved in expected ways and within the limitations imposed by Twitter’s API for third-party apps.

What’s changing today in Tweetbot is the action menu for tweets and links. With iOS 8, Tapbots has decided to fully embrace extensions (abandoning the custom contextual menu they had built for Tweetbot 3) by switching to Apple’s share sheet for action and share extensions. Every time you tap & hold a tweet/link or hit the share icon in your timeline or a web view, Tweetbot 3.5 will open the iOS 8 share sheet.

Great update to my most-used iPhone app.

Library of Congress Discovers Lost Footage of Washington Senators Beating the New York Giants in the 1924 World Series 

Dan Steinberg, writing for The Washington Post:

And when archivists from the Library’s Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation watched the reel, they found nearly four minutes of footage from that 1924 World Series, footage that somehow had remained in nearly perfect condition for 90 years. Bucky Harris hitting a home run, Walter Johnson pitching four innings of scoreless relief, Muddy Ruel scoring the winning run, fans storming Griffith Stadium’s field: It was all there, and it was all glorious.

Amazing. Love those old-time pitching windups.

Apple’s Roller Coaster Month 

Good rundown by Mark Rogowsky of Apple’s tumultuous September. The next few weeks should be interesting too: Yosemite, Apple Pay, and iCloud Drive are all imminent. And if they stick to the schedule of the past few years, they’ll hold an event to announce new iPads and maybe new Macs.

Faster Horses 

Álvaro Serrano:

People don’t like what they don’t understand and so far, nobody understands the Apple Watch. I’m not even sure anybody can; we just don’t know enough about it at this point. In the absence of a valid reference, many are sure to dismiss it as either irrelevant or flawed, simply because it doesn’t conform to their own existing preconceptions. Because, like the iPhone, the Apple Watch is not a horse either.

Paczkowski: Tim Cook Names Steve Dowling ‘Interim’ Head of PR 

John Paczkowski:

Sources close to Apple tell Code/red that Dowling was tapped as interim head of public relations last week by CEO Tim Cook, who has been looking to put a friendlier, more approachable face on Apple’s public relations efforts. Evidently, Apple’s search outside of the company has so far proven fruitless. Dowling’s appointment has been framed to employees as an interim one and I’m told Apple will continue to evaluate worthy outside candidates if one should pop up. That said, the fact that Cook has officially put Dowling at the top of Apple’s PR organization suggests he could remain there.

Sounds strange to me that after six months, this decision is still labeled “interim”. Looks indecisive.

Terms of Service; Didn’t Read 

Instant bookmark:

“I have read and agree to the Terms” is the biggest lie on the web. We aim to fix that.

We are a user rights initiative to rate and label website terms & privacy policies, from very good Class A to very bad Class E.

Update: Instantly fireballed, alas — site went down before even Fireballed.org could cache it. Here’s a snapshot from last month at Archive.org.

Daring Fireball RSS Feed Sponsorship Openings 

The schedule sold out for the summer back in early August, but there are now a bunch of openings on the DF sponsorship schedule for fall. Get in touch if you have a cool product or service you want to promote to DF’s discerning audience. Check out the list of previous sponsors, and look at how many have returned for repeat sponsorships.

In fact, this current week remains open. If you can pull the trigger quickly, let’s make a deal.
Inside Apple’s One-Day Watch Pop-Up at Paris Fashion Week 

Dan Frommer, reporting for Quartz from Paris:

Colette is the sort of high-fashion store that many expect to be a key part of Apple’s retail strategy for the Watch, especially the luxury “Edition” version. In its gadget section, Colette sells an unlocked iPhone 6 for €1,500, and fancy jeweled iPhone 5S devices for as much as €3,100.

Apple has two beautiful retail stores in Paris, at the Louvre and in the Opera district. So that it chose to use Colette for today’s pop-up suggests that the company is tailoring its strategy — and gets fashion pretty well.

Path Places 

New from Path:

Places gives you the power to message your favorite local businesses to request appointments, make reservations, or even check out prices and hours. It’s all by text. And it’s all for free.

Getting answers from a local business is now as easy as texting a friend. Search for Places like your hair salon, favorite sporting store, or the new restaurant down the street. Then send a message asking for anything — a haircut appointment, availability of running shoes in your size, or reservations for 2 at 8PM.

Once you send your message, one of our Path Agents will make the phone call on your behalf, doing all the talking for you. And when they get the response, they’ll immediately text you back with the answer or booking. You’ll never have to wait on hold again.

Sounds amazing, but how can that possibly scale?

‘It Just Works’ 

Russell Ivanovic:

Tim Cook keeps telling us that “Only Apple” could do the amazing things it does. I just wish that Apple would slow down their breakneck pace and spend the time required to build stable software that their hardware so desperately needs. The yearly release cycles of OS X, iOS, iPhone & iPad are resulting in too many things seeing the light of day that aren’t finished yet. Perhaps the world wouldn’t let them, perhaps the expectations are now too high, but I’d kill for Snow iOS 8 and Snow Yosemite next year. I’m fairly confident I’m not alone in that feeling.

From the outside, it seems like Apple’s software teams can’t keep up with the pace of the hardware teams. Major new versions of iOS aren’t released “when they’re ready”, they’re released when the new iPhone hardware ships. On Twitter the other day, I suggested that perhaps Apple should decouple major iOS feature releases from the iPhone hardware schedule. That’s probably untenable from a marketing perspective, and it might just make things more complex from a QA perspective. But something has to give.

(Just today: My iPhone 6 rebooted after I changed the home screen wallpaper. Tapped a new image in the wallpaper settings, and poof, it rebooted. Worse, it never stopped rebooting. Endless reboot cycle. Now I’m doing a full restore with iTunes. After changing my wallpaper to a different image.)

Jony Ive Profile in Vogue 

Robert Sullivan, writing for Vogue:

“Feels nice, doesn’t it?” On my second visit to Cupertino, Ive has finally handed it over: the new Apple Watch. It is more watch than the computer geeks would ever have imagined, has more embedded software than in a Rolex wearer’s wildest dreams. When Ive shows it to me — weeks before the product’s exhaustive launch, hosted by new CEO Tim Cook — in a situation room that has us surrounded by guards, it feels like a matter of national security. Yet despite all the pressure, he really just wants you to touch it, to feel it, to experience it as a thing. And if you comment on, say, the weight of it, he nods. “Because it’s real materials,” he says proudly. Then he wants you to feel the connections, the magnets in the strap, the buckle, to witness the soft but solid snap, which he just loves as an interaction with design, a pure, tactile idea. “Isn’t that fantastic?”

That Sullivan got to see Apple Watch before it was announced is pretty interesting, as is the fact that such access was granted to Vogue, of all magazines. “The Man Behind the Apple Watch” is an interesting headline, too.

The Players’ Tribune 

Derek Jeter:

I do think fans deserve more than “no comments” or “I don’t knows.” Those simple answers have always stemmed from a genuine concern that any statement, any opinion or detail, might be distorted. I have a unique perspective. Many of you saw me after that final home game, when the enormity of the moment hit me. I’m not a robot. Neither are the other athletes who at times might seem unapproachable. We all have emotions. We just need to be sure our thoughts will come across the way we intend.

So I’m in the process of building a place where athletes have the tools they need to share what they really think and feel. We want to have a way to connect directly with our fans, with no filter.

Nice design.

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