Linked List: July 2015

Mapping the United Swears of America 

Fuck is bicoastal, but shit and pussy are East Coast swears. (Via Kottke.)

Safari vs. Chrome: Power Consumption 

BatteryBox:

Averaging data from all websites tested, Safari won first place with 6 hours 21 minutes of total usage, Firefox second with 5 hours 29 minutes of usage, and Chrome last with 5 hours 8 minutes of usage.

Basically, if you simply switch to using Safari instead of Chrome, on average you could get an extra 1 hour of usage from your battery life.

This exemplifies what the “Safari Is the New IE” crowd doesn’t get — Apple’s priorities for Safari/WebKit are very different from Google’s for Chrome/Blink. Innovation and progress aren’t necessarily only about adding new features. 24 percent better battery life is huge.

(Via Dave Mark.)

‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper Dies at 61 

I watched a lot of pro wrestling when I was a kid in the ’80s, and Piper was probably my favorite. “Piper’s Pit” was so great.

Now Available for Pre-Order: Trade Edition of Taschen’s ‘The Making of Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey”’ 

Only $50 from Amazon — about $950 cheaper than the original limited edition box set. (Via Kottke.)

Windows 10 Leaps Ahead of OS X and iOS 

Drew Olanoff, writing for TechCrunch:

As a heavy Apple user, I can’t tell you most of what is in Windows 10, but I can tell you that it now has a pretty awesome feature that I would use the shit out of: the middle finger emoji (and some other new ones, too). In my opinion, it’s quite revolutionary.

My pal Paul Kafasis has been on this case since last year, and I share his concern that Apple is falling behind in the emoji middle-finger race. He even filed a radar.

(Also interesting: Microsoft’s choice of gray for skin-tone-neutral emoji. I don’t like the yellow that Apple is using for neutral, but I’m not sure gray is better — they look like zombies to me. If you’re going to go with gray, perhaps the neutral emoji should be entirely grayscale, including hair and clothing?)

Designers Tackle George Carlin’s Seven Dirty Words 

John Brownlee, writing for Fast Company:

Have you ever wondered how famed Mac designer Susan Kare might go about designing a pair of pixel art tits, or how ornery ad legend Milton Glaser might handle a design brief that simply read “cocksucker?” Now you can find out, thanks to a new booster pack for the popular party game Cards Against Humanity, featuring original designs by Glaser, Kare, Debbie Milman, Paula Scher, Erik Spiekermann, and 25 more world famous designers.

Ordered.

An Apple Scale? 

Abdel Ibrahim makes the case for Apple to make a “smart scale”:

Over the past two years, we’ve seen Apple talk about Health over and over again. The conversation started with the Health app on iPhone and then got amplified with the introduction of the Apple Watch. Both of these products do a great job of capturing information. The only problem is that I have to rely on third-party hardware to tell me what that information means. If Apple is all about providing an ecosystem of great hardware, software, and services, then making a scale that can give me an output of all sorts of body-related information seems like a logical move.

My first thought when I read this was, Meh, who cares? But my second thought was that maybe something like this would be the modern-day equivalent of products like Wi-Fi base stations. If you think about it, Airport base stations are a weird product for Apple — small potatoes. But sometimes it makes sense for Apple to make small potato products that will help make Apple’s flagship products “just work”.

That said, I don’t think Apple would actually make a scale — that’s what HealthKit is for.

Windows 10 Solitaire Requires a Subscription to Remove Ads 

Andy Chalk, PC Gamer:

Windows 10 — which is out now, by the way — comes, as it used to in the pre-Win8 days, with Solitaire preinstalled. The Microsoft Solitaire Collection, in fact, which bundles the classic Klondike with other familiar variants like Freecell and Spider Solitaire, tracks stats and logs achievements, and will even have leaderboards at some point. It also has ads.

You can make the ads go away, but, as you may have guessed, it’ll cost you, and not just once: The Microsoft Solitaire Collection Premium Edition is effectively a subscription service that goes for $1.50 a month, or $10 for a year. The Premium version of the game does away with ads, and also offers more coins for completing “Daily Challenges,” and a boost when you play TriPeaks or Pyramid.

Classy. Real classy.

Steve Jobs at WWDC 1997 

This exchange from a Q&A session Steve Jobs held at WWDC 1997 is a classic. You’ve probably seen it before. But it’s one of those clips that never gets old, and is always worth revisiting. Jobs’s whole response is gold, and, in hindsight, he lays out that the sort of thinking that has guided Apple in the 18 years since. Consider this bit:

“Some mistakes will be made along the way. That’s good. Because at least some decisions are being made along the way. We’ll find the mistakes, we’ll fix them! I think what we need to do is support that team.”

The way to build a great anything — a product, a company, a book, a blog, an app, a service, a movie, anything — is not to obsess over not making mistakes. That leads to paralysis. Try to avoid mistakes, sure. But recognize that you’ll inevitably make some, and create a culture and work ethic where mistakes get identified and fixed.

Update: Elon Musk: “Failure is an option here. If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough.”

John Paczkowski: Apple Will Debut New Apple TV in September 

John Paczkowski, writing for BuzzFeed:

Sources familiar with Apple’s plans tell BuzzFeed News that the company intends to announce its next-generation Apple TV in September, at the same event at which it typically unveils its new iPhones. The device itself is pretty much as we described it to you in March, sources say, but “more polished” after some additional tweaks. Expect a refreshed and slimmer chassis and new innards; Apple’s A8 system on chip; a new remote that sources say has been “drastically improved” by a touch-pad input; an increase in on-board storage; and an improved operating system that will support Siri voice control. Crucially, the new Apple TV will debut alongside a long-awaited App Store and the software development kit developers need to populate it.

But, Paczkowski reports, it will not appear alongside Apple’s purported subscription TV content service:

While that service is most certainly in the offing, sources tell BuzzFeed News that Apple does not currently plan to announce it alongside the new Apple TV. “Late this year — maybe, but more likely next year,” said one, seconding a June report by Recode.

One of the theories bandied about when WWDC came and went without any Apple TV announcements — no new hardware, no SDK — was that Apple didn’t want to announce the new Apple TV until the subscription TV service was ready, too. According to Paczkowski, though, that’s exactly what they’re going to do in September. My guess: Apple held it back for September to have something significantly “new” to announce alongside the new iPhones. Last year, that was Apple Watch; this year, it’s Apple TV.

Apple Rents First Office Space in Frisco 

Cory Weinberg, writing for the San Francisco Business Times:

Apple Inc. reached an agreement to rent about 76,000 square feet of office space in the South of Market neighborhood’s 235 Second St., several real estate sources in San Francisco and Silicon Valley said.

The potential sublease is a modest amount of space for a company with the world’s largest market capitalization ($705 billion) that is constructing a 2.8 million-square-foot “Spaceship” campus in Cupertino. But this would signify Apple’s first push into San Francisco — piling onto the herd of Silicon Valley companies that have wanted a taste of the city.

I lost a nice hat in this building back in 2006, when CNet was a company that mattered.

The Talk Show: ‘A Sack Full of Plucked Feathers’ 

Special guest John Moltz returns to the show. Topics include bluetooth headphones, Apple Music and iCloud Photo Library, phone sizes (including speculation on the lineup of new iPhones in September), El Chapo’s social media intern, Apple’s stock price, Alex Gibney’s upcoming Steve Jobs documentary, and the new trailer for Spectre.

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Using Apple’s System Font in Web Content 

Myles Maxfield, writing for the Surfin’ Safari blog:

Web content is sometimes designed to fit in with the overall aesthetic of the underlying platform which it is being rendered on. One of the ways to achieve this is by using the platform’s system font, which is possible on iOS and OS X by using the “-apple-system” CSS value for the “font-family” CSS property. On iOS 9 and OS X 10.11, doing this allows you to use Apple’s new system font, San Francisco. Using “-apple-system” also correctly interacts with the font-weight CSS property to choose the correct font on Apple’s latest operating systems.

Gaming Uber 

Alex Rosenblatt, writing for Motherboard:

Over a six month period, my colleague Luke Stark and I have been studying how Uber drivers interact with the Uber app as part of a research project funded by Microsoft FUSE Labs. Our research was conducted primarily in Uber driver forums, and through interviews with Uber drivers. We’ve observed that drivers across multiple forums discuss the fake cars they see on their own residential streets. One driver, who makes regular broadcasts advising drivers about using the Uber system, even made a YouTube video to show other drivers how the app sometimes displays cars that aren’t there.

Vizio IPO Plan Shows How Its TVs Track Whatever You’re Watching 

Richard Lawler, writing for Engadget on Vizio’s IPO filing:

Vizio has made its name with impressive value-priced TVs that don’t skimp on features (it’s also a leader in the soundbar market, and has made attempts at selling tablets and phones too). According to the filing, Vizio has sold more than 15 million smart TVs, with about 61 percent of them connected as of the end of June. While viewers are benefiting from those connections, streaming over 3 billion hours of content, Vizio says it’s watching them too, with Inscape software embedded in the screens that can track anything you’re playing on it — even if it’s from cable TV, videogame systems and streaming devices.

We’ve never heard of Inscape before, but as explained in the S-1 Vizio filed today, it’s based on ACR (automatic content recognition) software licensed from a third party, and viewers can opt-out of participating in it while maintaining other connected features. That’s actually fairly common in modern TVs, and others like LG and Samsung have already rolled out features based on the tech to do things like integrate with TV shows, or display ads based on what the TV is showing. ACR software recognizes the video being displayed, matches it up and phones home the data. According to Vizio, its Inscape platform can pull some 100 billion anonymized datapoints from 8 million of its connected TVs every day. That kind of data can be used for ratings, and is valuable to both advertisers and content providers.

Note to self: never buy anything from Vizio.

The End of the TV Industry as We Know It 

Amol Sharma, writing for The WSJ:

Why would Comcast Corp.’s NBCUniversal unit be hunting for new media deals, and talking to companies like Vice Media, BuzzFeed and Business Insider, as The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday?

One explanation is that the cable giant is chasing young consumers who aren’t watching TV as much as past generations did. This chart illustrates the situation.

According to these numbers from Nielsen, among those 18-24 years old, TV viewing has dropped 32 percent since 2010. That’s the youngest group in the chart, but judging by my 11-year-old son’s habits, this trend is even more striking for kids. He hardly watches any traditional TV at all. Just YouTube, Netflix, and movies.

Kids React to the First iPod 

These videos are always funny, and always make me feel old. Very old. But this one also seems to suggest that a hunch I’ve had for the last few years is going to prove true: that the word phone — just plain un-prefixed, unmodified “phone” — is evolving to mean “a pocket-sized touch screen computer with a cellular network connection”. And for these kids, phone really just means “pocket-sized computer”, because they just presume the use of a touch screen and wireless networking.

Hugh MacLeod’s Illustrated Guide to Life Inside Microsoft 

A couple of these caught my eye, but none more so than “It’s more fun being the underdog.” The Churchill quote, too.

Apple Music vs. iCloud Photos 

Marco Arment:

iTunes is designed by the Junk Drawer Method: when enough cruft has built up that somebody tells the team to redesign it, while also adding and heavily promoting these great new features in the UI that are really important to the company’s other interests and are absolutely non-negotiable, the only thing they can really do is hide all of the old complexity in new places. […]

I have plenty of plausible theories on why iTunes didn’t get the iCloud Photos treatment — why Apple Music was bolted onto this ancient, crufty, legacy app instead of discontinuing iTunes, dropping its obsolete functions, and starting fresh with a new app and a CloudKit-based service. (Engineering resources, time to market, iPods, Windows, and people with slow internet connections.)

Exactamundo. iCloud Photos gets right everything that Apple Music gets wrong. Like Marco, I can imagine many reasons why Apple took a different route with music than the clean-slate approach they took with photos. I’m not in a position to judge what Apple should have done. All I’m saying is that the difference in results is stark. I understand the design and purpose of Photos (the app) on both Mac and iOS, and I understand how iCloud Photo Library is supposed to work. And, for me — and seemingly, almost everyone — that’s how iCloud Photo Library does work. You sign up, you enable it on all your devices, you wait for the initial sync to finish, and boom — now all your photos are available on all your devices, all the time. I don’t think this would have worked out as well if they had kept going with iPhoto on the Mac. They needed the clean break — both in terms of design and in terms of engineering.

Yours Truly on The Dalrymple Report 

Jim Dalrymple was kind enough to have me on his podcast. Fun.

Bushel 

My thanks to Bushel for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Bushel is a simple-to-use, cloud-based mobile device management solution designed for the Mac, iPhone, iPad, and iPod devices in your workplace. Bushel makes it easy for you to set up, manage, and protect your Apple devices — when you want, wherever you are. Your first three devices enrolled are free forever, and each additional device is just $2 per month, with no contracts or commitments.

Check out their website to see just how nice their design work is. Bushel is “device management” for people with discerning taste.

Tony Fadell on Apple Watch 

Tony Fadell (admitted watch aficionado), in an interesting interview with the BBC:

Tellingly, Mr Fadell reveals he recently started testing Sir Jonathan’s latest product, the Apple Watch, although he was not wearing it at the time of interview.

“I’ve had mine for about two weeks now,” he says.

“I think they did a tremendous job on the hardware components of it. They are trying many different things with that platform - some are going to be great, and some are not.”

Consider the difference between “I think they did a tremendous job” versus “I think they did a tremendous job on the hardware”.

Update, 3 August 2015: Leo Kelion from the BBC emailed me with some additional context. Immediately after saying the above, Fadell continued:

“The same thing happened with the iPhone. If we go back in history when the iPhone first shipped there were a few things that weren’t so right about it. But the second version, the third version started dialing in the right amount of each of those pieces and it really, you know, hit the ground running. So, I hope and I would fully assume they will do the same thing with the Watch as well.”

Clearly, I was wrong to read Fadell’s comments as a backhanded gibe at Apple Watch’s software.

Jim Dalrymple Got Most of His Music Back 

Jim Dalrymple:

It’s been an interesting and confusing day. I arrived at Apple this morning to talk to them about my issues with Apple Music and to hopefully fix my problems. The good news is that I have about 99 percent of my music back. […]

Apple said my music was never deleted and that it was in the cloud the entire time. Before Apple Music, iTunes Match would show me all of my songs — matched, uploaded, and purchased. However, if you turn off iCloud Music Library and Apple Music, iTunes Match will only show your purchased content now. There is no way to separate iTunes Match from the iCloud Music Library. Before, you would turn off iTunes Match — now you would turn off iCloud Music Library.

So now I have the iTunes Match service that I pay for separately, and Apple Music, both of which use iCloud Music Library. There is really no way to get away from them if you want to use the latest and greatest from Apple.

I’ll admit, I’m still trying to get my head around how this works.

As clear as mud how this all works. Why not make Apple Music a separate standalone app? Apple Music: subscription service with DRM. iTunes: music you own, no DRM.

Apple at Its Most Pompous 

From a new iPhone page, “Why There’s Nothing Quite Like iPhone”:

Also amazing? The fact that there are over a million and a half capable, beautiful, inspiring apps on the App Store. And each and every one was reviewed and approved by a team of real live humans. With great taste. And great suggestions. And great ideas.

Yes, thank goodness for those ideas and suggestions from App Store reviewers that make our apps so great. And thanks even more for their great taste that keeps all but the best 100 or so Flappy Bird ripoffs out of the store.

Update: What irks here, fundamentally, is that Apple is taking credit for the great apps in the App Store, rather than giving credit to the third-party developers who make them. This plays straight into the widespread misconception that everyone who makes iOS apps works for Apple.

Apple at Its Best 

Celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Apple has assembled a new App Store collection, promoting apps with great accessibility support.

Who Said It: Donald Trump or Frank Reynolds? 

“One is an inexplicably wealthy self-obsessed racist with the moral compass of a meth-addled 2-year-old, and the other is a character played by Danny DeVito.”

The Verge’s Web Sucks 

Les Orchard:

A page view on The Verge is a heavy load. I’ve known this for awhile, but it wasn’t until now that I decided to take a peek at what might be wriggling under this log. […]

Holy crap. It took over 30 seconds. In the end, it fetched over 9.5MB across 263 HTTP requests. That’s almost an order of magnitude more data and time than needed for the article itself.

What the hell is all this stuff?

Best part is that Orchard decided to look into this only after Nilay Patel pointed the blame for the crumminess of the mobile web at the browsers.

Amazon’s Market Cap Now Bigger Than Walmart’s 

Some interesting graphs from Quartz. Amazon wins on growth. Walmart wins on profit — but we all know Amazon doesn’t even try to turn a profit. More importantly, Walmart’s revenue remains more than five times that of Amazon.

More interesting, perhaps — and a big reason behind continued investor enthusiasm — is that thanks to AWS, Amazon is more than just a retailer now. AWS is now a $6 billion a year business.

Flopping Into the Lead 

John Moltz:

Apple leads the pack, but the pack is still a pack made up of smartwatches. No one really knows how big this market is going to get and how long it’ll have steam. Let me repeat that for emphasis: No one really knows. So feel free to point and laugh at anyone estimating the next five years of smartwatch sales. Remember when Windows Phone was going to overtake Android? Good. Times. We laughed ourselves until we died and then we were reborn, shiny and chrome.

‘Coming Soon’ 

Craig Hockenberry on the various ways Apple treats the Mac App Store as a second-class citizen to the iOS App Store: no TestFlight (which means no testing betas against production iCloud servers), no analytics, and, just to rub salt in the wound, they haven’t applied the new rule that disallows app reviews from users running beta versions of the OS.

Hockenberry:

I think the thing that bothers me most about this situation is the inequality. Mac developers aren’t getting the same value from the App Store as their counterparts on iOS. We all pay Apple 30% of our earnings to reach our customers, we should all get the same functionality for that fee.

Non-Sarcastic ‘Finally’ of the Week 

MacStories: “Apple Prevents App Store Reviews From Users on iOS 9 Betas”.

This is the first year Apple has done a public beta of iOS, so better late than never, but app reviews from people running developer betas of the OS have been a problem for years.

New Trailer for ‘Spectre’ 

Low on spoilers, particularly by modern-day trailer standards, but I’ve got a bad feeling about where this might be going with the “chilling connection between [Bond] and the enemy he seeks, played by Christoph Waltz”. Feels a little Luke/Leia/Vader-y. Hope I’m wrong.

Jim Dalrymple Is Done With Apple Music 

Jim Dalrymple:

As if all of that wasn’t enough, Apple Music gave me one more kick in the head. Over the weekend, I turned off Apple Music and it took large chunks of my purchased music with it. Sadly, many of the songs were added from CDs years ago that I no longer have access to. Looking at my old iTunes Match library, before Apple Music, I’m missing about 4,700 songs. At this point, I just don’t care anymore, I just want Apple Music off my devices.

Ouch.

Audi, BMW, and Daimler Near Deal to Buy Nokia Mapping Service 

William Boston, reporting for the WSJ:

A group of German auto makers agreed to pay slightly more than €2.5 billion ($2.7 billion) for Nokia’s digital mapping service, prevailing over Silicon Valley bidders in a battle for a key enabling technology for self-driving cars.

German luxury car makers Audi, a unit of Volkswagen AG, Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler AG, and BMW AG have agreed in principle to purchase the telecommunications group’s digital mapping service Nokia Here, according to a person familiar with the situation.

Both sides of this — why Nokia needs to sell Here Maps, and why the car makers want to buy it — were explained by Horace Dediu last month.

The Five Biggest Takeaways of Apple’s Q3 2015 Quarterly Earnings 

Good take from Jason Snell. On China:

Over the past couple of years, Apple has made a point–not just in conversations with the financial industry, but also on stage at media events–of discussing its efforts in China. The massive effort the company is putting into China is certainly paying off: While the last two quarters have showed 75 percent year-over-year growth, Apple more than doubled its China revenue in this most recent quarter, compared to the same quarter a year ago. Apple isn’t just growing in China, its growth is accelerating.

With the Chinese stock market and economy being called into question in recent days, it was interesting to hear Cook defend the market to financial analysts. He made it clear that Apple believes China will ultimately be Apple’s largest market. (It’s already surpassed Europe in total revenue.)

Tim Cook on Apple Watch Sales 

From Serenity Caldwell’s transcript of Tim Cook’s remarks on Apple’s quarterly analyst call:

Sales of the Watch did exceed our expectations and they did so despite supply still trailing demand at the end of the quarter.

And to give you a little additional insight, through the end of the quarter, in fact, the Apple Watch sell-through was higher than the comparable launch periods of the original iPhone or the original iPad. And we were able to do that with having only 680 points of sale. And as you probably know, as I had reviewed earlier, the online sales were so great at the beginning we were not able to seed inventory to our stores until mid-June. And so those points of sale, pretty much, the overwhelming majority of the low numbers of sales were not there until the last two weeks of the quarter.

Later:

On the Watch, our June sales were higher than April or May. I realize that’s very different than some of what’s being written, but June sales were the highest. The Watch had a more of a back-ended kind of skewing.

So, either Tim Cook is lying and committed securities fraud, or, those reports about Apple Watch sales “plunging” — all of them based on that one report from Slice Intelligence — were a pile of crap. It will take years to judge the overall success of Apple Watch, but it seems pretty clear it’s gotten off to a good start.

Luca Maestri: Apple Watch Revenue ‘Well Over’ $952 Million 

The AP:

Some analysts noted that Apple reported $2.6 billion in revenue from the company’s “Other Products” segment, which includes the watch. That’s about $952 million more than the previous quarter, when the watch had not yet gone on sale, or significantly less than the $1.8 billion in watch sales that analysts surveyed by FactSet were expecting.

But Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri told The Associated Press that revenue from the watch amounted to “well over” that $952 million increase. He said the watch sales were offset by declining revenue from iPods and accessories, which are also lumped into that segment.

As Dan Seifert tweeted (one and two), this means Apple Watch already generates more revenue than Microsoft Surface — which was up 117 percent:

While the company’s stumbles in smartphones have shown the bruising downsides of the hardware business for Microsoft, it had success with other devices, including its Surface tablet, the revenue from which grew 117 percent, to $888 million. Revenue from its Xbox game business rose 27 percent. In total, Microsoft said it had nearly $2 billion in computing and gaming hardware revenue in the quarter.

Apple Reports Record Third Quarter Results 

Apple PR:

The Company posted quarterly revenue of $49.6 billion and quarterly net profit of $10.7 billion, or $1.85 per diluted share. These results compare to revenue of $37.4 billion and net profit of $7.7 billion, or $1.28 per diluted share, in the year-ago quarter. Gross margin was 39.7 percent compared to 39.4 percent in the year-ago quarter. International sales accounted for 64 percent of the quarter’s revenue.

The growth was fueled by record third quarter sales of iPhone and Mac, all-time record revenue from services and the successful launch of Apple Watch.

Apple shares are, of course, way down in after-hours trading, because after-hours traders start drinking as soon as the markets close.

Beleaguered Microsoft Reports $2.1 Billion Quarterly Loss 

Dan Seifert, reporting for The Verge:

Microsoft today reported its earnings for the fourth quarter of its 2015 fiscal year and unsurprisingly, the massive $7.6 billion write down for its Nokia purchase last year tanked any chances of it turning a profit. The write down pushed Microsoft’s losses to $2.1 billion for the quarter. Excluding the write down and related charges, Microsoft’s other businesses earned a profit of $6.4 billion on $22.2 billion in revenue.

$7.6 billion write-off, no big deal.

$1 billion Xbox writeoff, no big deal.

$900 million write-off for Surface RT, no big deal.

$6.2 billion write-off for Aquantive, no big deal.

Web Design: The First 100 Years 

Maciej Ceglowski:

So the world of the near future is one of power constrained devices in a bandwidth-constrained environment. It’s very different from the recent past, where hardware performance went up like clockwork, with more storage and faster CPUs every year.

And as designers, you should be jumping up and down with relief, because hard constraints are the midwife to good design. The past couple of decades have left us with what I call an exponential hangover.

Josh Topolsky on Leaving Bloomberg 

Josh Topolsky:

The reality in media right now is that there is an enormous amount of noise. There are countless outlets (both old and new) vying for your attention, desperate not just to capture some audience, but all the audience. And in doing that, it feels like there’s a tremendous watering down of the quality and uniqueness of what is being made. Everything looks the same, reads the same, and seems to be competing for the same eyeballs. In both execution and content, I find myself increasingly frustrated with the rat race for maximum audience at any expense. It’s cynical and it’s cyclical — which makes for an exhausting and frankly boring experience.

I think people want something better, something more meaningful. Something a lot less noisy.

Sounds good to me.

Why iTunes 12.2 Changed Metadata, Artwork and iCloud Status for Files in Some Users’ iTunes Libraries 

Kirk McElhearn:

Now that I understand what happened, and why it happened, I can see that the process does make sense. Apple’s goal is to ensure that all your music is accessible from all your devices. Mine is certainly an edge case, but, judging from the number of emails I’ve received, and comments to articles on this website, there are plenty other people in the same boat as me. (Though that’s an infinitesimal number compared to the total iTunes user base.)

See also, Apple’s tech support document: “If Some Songs That Were Previously Matched by iTunes Match Show Up as Apple Music Songs in iTunes”.

Perspective on Apple Watch Sales 

We don’t yet know what Apple will reveal regarding Apple Watch sales in its quarterly finance numbers later today (and remember, Tim Cook said all the way back in October that Apple will not reveal Apple Watch sales figures, for competitive reasons), but in the meantime, Mike Wehner provides some useful perspective, by looking back at early sales numbers for the iPod, iPhone, and iPad.

The Talk Show: ‘Tommy Got Made’ 

New episode of America’s favorite three-star podcast, with special guest Jason Snell. Topics include the new Pebble Time smartwatch, the “Safari is the New IE” argument, the state of web advertising (and its adverse effects on performance and privacy) and monetization, and more.

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Report Claims iPhone Accounts for 82 Percent of Mobile Podcast Listening 

Benjamin Mayo, writing for 9to5Mac:

A report from Clammr collected data on podcast listening habits shows that iOS dominates Android on mobile usage. Despite Android having a larger install base of smartphone devices than iOS, the iPhone is responsible for the vast majority of podcast listening. According to the study, 82% of smartphone podcasting listening takes place on an iPhone with the iTunes Store podcast directory being a significant reason for uptake.

In addition, despite the vast array of third-party podcast apps available for the iPhone, the report says that over three-quarters of users listen to podcasts on the iPhone with Apple’s built-in native Podcasts app.

According to the analytics I get from SoundCloud, Overcast has a slight edge over Apple’s Podcasts app among listeners of The Talk Show. But it’s no surprise that listeners of my show aren’t exactly typical users. No other iPhone app even comes close to Overcast and Podcasts, though. Here’s a screenshot of the top ten clients by “play count” for episode 125, with Horace Dediu.

What’s funny is that the name “podcasts” stuck but very few people use iPods to listen to them any more.

Abdel Ibrahim on Developers and Apple Watch 

Abdel Ibrahim, writing at WatchAware:

I don’t know why developers holding back has to always be painted as skepticism. Is Instagram still skeptical of the iPad five years later because they don’t have an iPad app? Of course not. Developing apps for a new product category takes time. You have to think things through carefully if you want to create a good experience. Remember, Facebook for iPad came out 18 months after the first iPad which was available for purchase in April of 2010.

The truth is some apps are just not going to be ideal on the Apple Watch. This is not a smaller iPhone on your wrist. I’m not sure why people — especially those that cover technology for a living — can’t seem to understand that.

In fact, have you tried Instagram on the Apple Watch? It’s terrible. It has no business being on there. It’s a worse experience if you ask me.

From the Chen Wing of the Claim Chowder Hall of Fame 

For some reason this classic from the early days of the iPhone popped into my head today. Brian X. Chen in January 2009: “Why the Japanese Hate the iPhone”.

By the end of 2009, iPhone had 46 percent of the Japanese smartphone market.

See also:

Jason Snell on Brian X. Chen’s NYT Piece on Apple Watch Interest From Developers 

First, the nut paragraph from Brian X. Chen and Vindu Goel’s co-bylined pessimistic take on Apple Watch developer interest from yesterday’s NYT, “Apple Waits as App Developers Study Who’s Buying Its Watch”:

The lack of support from Facebook — and from other popular app makers like Snapchat and Google, which also do not have apps for Apple Watch — underscores the skepticism that remains in the technology community about the wearable device. That puts the watch, Apple’s first new product since the iPad in 2010, in something of a Catch-22: The companies whose apps would most likely prompt more people to buy the device are waiting to see who is buying it and how they use it.

Snell’s response:

This is a story about developers trying to figure out if they want to be on a new platform, and if they do, how best to accomplish that. Unfortunately, Chen’s story makes it seem like the development community is just holding its breath waiting to see if Apple’s selling watches, while users are similarly waiting to see if their favorite apps from their phones run on the watch before buying.

I’d say Chen’s piece is even worse than that. Apple Watch has only been out for three months, and the full SDK — which allows for truly native apps — was only released last month, and apps written using the native SDK won’t ship until WatchOS 2 ships this fall. Even with the new SDK, it makes no sense to me for Facebook to write an app to put their entire feed in a watch app. (Twitter, in my opinion, wasted their time making their current watch app.) Maybe someday Snapchat will find a good reason to make a watch app, but is it surprising that they haven’t already, given that the whole point of Snapchat is sharing pictures and videos — and Apple Watch doesn’t have a camera? Notifications make sense for the watch — but that already works for all iPhone apps. You don’t need a watch app to see notifications on your Apple Watch. Calling it a problem that many popular phone apps aren’t on the watch makes as much sense as calling it a problem that the iPhone, circa 2008, didn’t have the most popular apps from the desktop, like Microsoft Office or Photoshop. (And after a few years, versions of those apps did make their way to the iPhone.)

Which brings us to Google, and this delicious correction appended to The Times’s article today:

An earlier version of this article misstated Google’s status as a developer of apps for the Apple Watch. Google offers a news and weather app for the watch; it is not the case that it has no apps for it.

Survey Puts Apple Watch Customer Satisfaction at 97 Percent 

Sam Oliver, writing for Apple Insider:

Of the more than 800 Apple Watch owners surveyed by Wristly, 31 percent said they were “somewhat satisfied” while 66 percent were “very satisfied/delighted.” In comparison, just 91 percent of iPad buyers and 92 percent of those who picked up first-generation iPhones were satisfied with their purchase.

Casual users seem to be the most at ease with the Apple Watch, as 73 percent of survey respondents who do not work in technology reported being “very satisfied.” That number drops to 63 percent for so-called “tech insiders” and 43 percent for developers.

It’s just one survey, but rating higher than the first-generation iPhone and iPad is a good sign. Also telling: that satisfaction is higher among non-technical users.

iMore Tests the New iPod Touch Camera 

Much improved over the previous iPod Touch camera (as expected).

Obama on the Hoofbeats of History 

Josh Marshall on President Obama:

This has been a long long seven years. What seemed like an uncertain list of achievements, long on promise but hacked apart by mid-term election reverses and Obama’s sometimes over-desire for accommodation, suddenly appeared closer to profound, like a novel or a play which seems scattered or unresolved until all the pieces fall into place, clearly planned all along, at the end.

MailChimp 

My thanks to MailChimp for once again sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Their message is short and sweet: Over eight million businesses around the world use MailChimp for email newsletters, A/B testing, and marketing automation.

Great company, great product, great customer service. Email newsletters are a great way to keep in touch with your customers, and there’s no better way to send email newsletters than with MailChimp.

‘It Even Has a Heart, Unlike You’ 

Stephen Colbert and Neil DeGrasse Tyson discuss the detailed photos of Pluto from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft.

Apple vs. the PC Industry 

Robert McMillan, writing for the WSJ Digits blog last week:

Worldwide PC shipments saw their sharpest decline in nearly two years in the second quarter of 2015, dealing continued damage to retailers and makers of computers, chips and PC software.

Shipments fell 9.5 percent, year on year, to 68.4 million units, according to the research firm Gartner. Rival researcher IDC, which doesn’t include tablets in its tally, tracked an 11.8 percent drop, year on year, to 66.1 million shipments during the quarter. Both firms released PC sales reports on Wednesday.

To put Apple’s current industry position in perspective, the company probably sold somewhere between 60-65 million iOS devices last quarter. (I’m guessing ~50 million iPhones, ~10-12 million iPads, and a handful of million iPod Touches.) The average selling price of a PC has fallen to under $400. The average selling price of an iPhone has been estimated to be as high as $660. So while iOS devices, taken as a whole, might still fall a few million units short of the PC industry, they’re clearly generating more in revenue. More importantly, the PC industry operates on razor-thin margins; iOS devices sell with remarkably high margins. And, if that’s not enough, the “PC industry” includes the Mac, which appears to continue to be holding its own in the face of this overall slide in demand — IDC is forecasting a 16 percent increase in Mac sales globally for the quarter.

So, in short: Apple is the only “PC” maker stemming the tide against an overall decline in sales, and, with iOS, has created a new product line that is as large as (unit sales-wise) and far more profitable than the entire PC industry.

Also, they now make watches.

Apple IIgs System 6.0.2 

Here’s something — an unofficial software update for the Apple IIgs:

After 22 years, 2 months, 2 days and 2 hours since System 6.0.1 was released, this is a summary of the visible changes. There have been many bugs fixed and many features added that are not immediately visible–they will enable developers to create better future products. Be sure to also read the Shortcuts file on the SystemTools3 disk for more information.

Coda for iOS 2.0 

Jaw-dropping update to Panic’s remarkable iOS text editor (formerly known as Diet Coda). Unbelievable value: free for existing users, and now just $9.99 for new ones.

Swimming With Apple Watch 

Craig Hockenberry:

After the watch shipped, I discovered that I wasn’t the only person interested in the watch’s ability to be used during swim workouts. Ray Maker at the DC Rainmaker blog did a series of tests, including diving off a 10 meter (33 foot) platform and 40 meter (130 foot) pressure test. The Apple Watch passed these tests with flying colors, and along with the research below, I was convinced I wouldn’t have any problems. So far, that analysis has proven correct. I suspect that the watch’s water resistance has been undersold by Apple just like battery life: it’s better to under-promise and over-deliver. Still, it’s a personal decision on whether you want to ignore Apple’s recommendation. You’re not likely to get much sympathy at any subsequent trips to the Genius Bar.

Lots of great information on what makes water so problematic for electronics. Loved his suggestion on the side button and workouts, too:

This situation reminds me a lot of the problem with a shutter switch on the iPhone. When your attention needs to be focused on framing your photo, finding a virtual button is counterproductive. A physical button is much simpler and more practical, even if it’s normally used to adjust the volume.

So why can’t the side button be used during a workout? A single click could start or pause the workout; a double-click could stop the workout. Maybe a triple-click could do something more advanced like a lap time.

Be Careful Moving iCloud Drive Folders 

Long story short: bad stuff happens if you try moving an iCloud Drive folder containing files that haven’t finished syncing to a location outside iCloud Drive. The Finder probably shouldn’t let you move a folder that contains unsynced files, or at the very least it should give you a clear warning. The good news if you ever run into a problem like this, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to recover the missing files using iCloud.com’s Recover Documents feature.

Is the New iPod Touch a Harbinger of a 4-Inch iPhone 6C? 

Jason Snell:

The new iPod touch, for all its advancements, still sports the same 4-inch Retina display as the iPhone 5, 5S, and 5C. And it makes me wonder if maybe, just maybe, it’s the first hint that we’ll be seeing an updated 4-inch iPhone – let’s call it the 6C – this fall.

This would fit the pattern from two years ago, when the 5C debuted alongside the 5S and the iPhone 5 just disappeared. I think Apple’s logic is that they want top-tier iPhone industrial designs to sit atop the lineup for two years — so they might let the upcoming 6S stay around next year, when (if they hold to their usual pattern) they introduce an all-new design with the iPhone 7, but this year, they want the mid-tier model with last year’s specs to look different than the 6S and 6S Plus.

Video Shows Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman Escaping From Prison 

Joshua Partlow, reporting for The Washington Post:

In his last moments as Mexico’s most important prisoner, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman paces his cell, past his single bunk with rumpled sheets, the plastic water jugs on the floor. He seems particularly interested in what’s behind the waist-high wall of the shower stall, as he keeps bending down to look at the floor.

It is Saturday night, near 9 p.m., inside Cell 20 of the Altiplano maximum security prison, and the video surveillance camera captures Guzman’s shadow as it traces across the walls. The 60-square-foot room is inside the wing for the country’s most dangerous criminals, where the drug lord Guzman has spent the past year and a half in solitary confinement under 24-hour-surveillance, a monitoring bracelet on his wrist.

As the video shows, Guzman sits down on the edge of his bunk and slips off his shoes. He pads back to the shower, kneels behind the wall and disappears.

Altiplano is apparently run in a similar fashion to Arkham Asylum.

The New iPod Nano 

Very curious: the UI still looks iOS 6-style.

Update: Word from a few little birdies is that what remains of the iPod software team is now working on Apple Watch — the Nano UI wasn’t updated to look like iOS 7 because there’s no one left to do it.

The New iPod Shuffle 

Cool new button — VoiceOver:

Say you’re listening to a song and want to know the title or the artist. Just press the VoiceOver button on top of your iPod shuffle, and it tells you. You can even use VoiceOver to hear the names of playlists and switch between them.

Supports 29 different languages. Update: Apparently I’m an idiot, and this button has been on the Shuffles since 2010. I still think it’s a cool feature, though.

Apple Introduces New A8-Based iPod Touch 

Fascinating. First, the previous iPod Touch was introduced way back in 2012, alongside the iPhone 5 — a lot of people had reasonably assumed the iPod Touch was dead. Apparently not. Second, it’s jumped all the way from an A5 to an A8 — from outdated to state-of-the-art. Third, unlike the iPhones 6, the screen didn’t get bigger. Lastly, why introduce this mid-July with a press release? Why not do it in September?

The obvious answer: Apple cares enough about the Touch to update it, but not enough to spend even a few minutes on it during the September new iPhone event. Same for the refreshed iPods Nano and Shuffle. Apple’s website no longer even lists “iPod” as one of the top-level menu items.

Berkeley Breathed Publishes First New ‘Bloom County’ Strip Since 1989 

Ack thpt!

Accusing Amazon of Antitrust Violations, Authors and Booksellers Demand U.S. Inquiry 

David Streitfeld, reporting for the NYT:

Five years after Amazon secretly asked regulators to investigate leading publishers — a case that ended up reinforcing the e-commerce company’s power — groups representing thousands of authors, agents and independent booksellers are calling for the United States Department of Justice to examine Amazon for antitrust violations. […]

Among the destructive practices cited by the critics was Amazon’s appearing last year to engage in content control, “selling some books but not others based on the author’s prominence or the book’s political leanings”; selling some books below cost as loss leaders to drive less well-capitalized retailers — like Borders — out of business; and blocking and curtailing the sale of “millions of books by thousands of authors” to pressure publishers for better deals.

Facebook’s New Chief Security Officer Wants to Set a Date to Kill Flash 

Facebook chief security officer Alex Stamos, posting on Twitter:

It is time for Adobe to announce the end-of-life date for Flash and to ask the browsers to set killbits on the same day.

Even if 18 months from now, one set date is the only way to disentangle the dependencies and upgrade the whole ecosystem at once.

It’d be nice if Adobe led the way on this, but it isn’t necessary. Apple forever crippled Flash by not allowing browser plugins on iOS. If just a few of the major desktop browsers did the same — say, Safari, Chrome, and Microsoft IE/Edge — Flash would die quickly. It’s already teetering.

Satoru Iwata, Nintendo Chief Executive, Dies at 55 

Liam Stack, writing for the NYT:

Satoru Iwata, who as chief executive of Nintendo oversaw the introduction of gaming systems such as the Nintendo DS and the Wii, died on Saturday, the company said in a statement. The statement said the cause was a bile duct growth. He was 55.

A former video game development star, Mr. Iwata was appointed the president of Nintendo in May 2002 and became the chief executive of Nintendo of America in June 2013, the company said.

Man, just 55.

Apple’s Share of Phone Handset Industry Profits Climbs to 92 Percent 

Shira Ovide and Daisuke Wakabayashi, reporting for the WSJ:

Roughly 1,000 companies make smartphones. Just one reaps nearly all the profits.

Apple Inc. recorded 92% of the total operating income from the world’s eight top smartphone makers in the first quarter, up from 65% a year earlier, estimates Canaccord Genuity managing director Mike Walkley. Samsung Electronics Co. took 15%, Canaccord says. Apple and Samsung account for more than 100% of industry profits because other makers broke even or lost money, in Canaccord’s calculations. […]

Apple’s share of profits is remarkable given that it sells less than 20% of smartphones, in terms of unit sales.

At just 20 percent of unit sales, Apple isn’t even close to a monopoly. At 92 percent profit share, they have a market dominance that rivals any actual monopoly the tech industry has ever seen. We don’t even have a term for this situation, it’s so unusual. Profit monopoly?

‘Accustomed to Deference’ 

Ravi Somaiya, reporting for the NYT:

Earlier this year, after Michael Bloomberg reasserted control over the company he founded and began to scrutinize its online operations, he suggested in a meeting that perhaps Bloomberg — which makes the overwhelming majority of its money from desk terminals that provide financial data — did not need to have a website.

Joshua Topolsky, the founder of a prominent technology website who had been hired to oversee a glossy reintroduction of Bloomberg’s web properties, responded sarcastically, making fun of the suggestion, according to three people with knowledge of the exchange, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Mr. Bloomberg, who often challenges subordinates with provocative questions, has grown accustomed to deference, the people said. He was furious, and his relationship with Mr. Topolsky subsequently deteriorated to the point that both decided it was better if Mr. Topolsky left.

Specifying the OS System Font in CSS 

Craig Hockenberry:

As a developer, there are often cases where we need to use the system font on web pages. Many times these pages are embedded in our apps and manage things like remote settings or documentation. In these contexts, matching the content to what the customer sees in their surrounding environment makes a big impact on the user experience. Think about how out of place an app feels when it displays Sparkle release notes in Lucida Grande while running on Yosemite.

We’ll soon be faced with a lot of surrounding content that’s displayed in San Francisco and will need ways to specify that same font in our CSS. It turns out that’s not a simple thing to do.

Hopefully this will get easier, but his workaround seems pretty solid for now.

DevMate 

My thanks to MacPaw for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote DevMate. DevMate is a new powerful platform for indie Mac developers — a single SDK that includes all sorts of back-end services: in-app purchasing, software licensing, notification and installation of software updates, collecting crash reports, providing feedback from users, and more. DevMate’s data and analytics are available to you in real time, and are easy to access and monitor. DevMate is a great tool for developers who value their time and want to focus on the tasks that are really important. MacPaw created DevMate for their own needs (they make the award-winning CleanMyMac utility), and is now being used by other great developers like Smile, Coppertino, and more.

Reddit Shitshow Continues Unabated 

Mike Isaac, reporting for the NYT:

Ellen Pao, the interim chief executive of Reddit, resigned from the online message board on Friday after a week of ceaseless criticism from scores of angry users over the handling of an employee departure.

Reddit: a terrible, childish community posting on a site owned by a terrible, dumbass company. Good luck to the next CEO.

Politico: Michael Bloomberg Fires Josh Topolsky 

Dylan Byers, reporting for Politico’s On Media blog:

Joshua Topolsky, the top digital editor at Bloomberg, has been fired from the company due to Michael Bloomberg’s frustration with the website, sources with knowledge of his departure told the On Media blog on Friday. Bloomberg, a notorious micro-manager, had been fighting with Topolsky for months about the direction of the website, which had been relaunched under Topolsky’s leadership in January, company sources said. […]

In recent weeks, the disagreements between Bloomberg and Topolsky hit a fever pitch, sources there said. This week, Bloomberg finally declared that he no longer wanted to work with Topolsky and demanded that he be moved off the Digital team. Topolsky agreed to leave on Thursday, though he will stay at Bloomberg offices until next week, when the company is expected to make a formal announcement.

Nick Bilton on the State of Twitter 

Nick Bilton:

Marjorie Scardino, the former chief of the publishing firm Pearson, and another board member, has tweeted only eight times, ever. That’s like having someone on the board of Starbucks who doesn’t drink coffee.

Maybe they should fix the board before they choose a new CEO.

Unwanted Trackers 

Glenn Fleishman, writing for Macworld:

No matter your feelings about ads, it’s reasonable to be worried about and want to block sites that have no business — literally, it’s none of their business — tracking you, and to be angry at those feeding us malicious software and trying to coax our secrets from us. Some balance would be nice. Without it, readers will continue to take matters in their own hands.

Thomas Piketty: ‘Germany Has Never Repaid Its Debts. It Has No Right to Lecture Greece’ 

Economist Thomas Piketty, in an interview with Die Zeit:

Piketty: When I hear the Germans say that they maintain a very moral stance about debt and strongly believe that debts must be repaid, then I think: what a huge joke! Germany is the country that has never repaid its debts. It has no standing to lecture other nations. […]

ZEIT: Many Germans believe that the Greeks still have not recognized their mistakes and want to continue their free-spending ways.

Piketty: If we had told you Germans in the 1950s that you have not properly recognized your failures, you would still be repaying your debts. Luckily, we were more intelligent than that.

Rene Ritchie on Bad Web Ads 

Rene Ritchie:

We also have no ability to screen ad exchange ads ahead of time; we get what they give us. We can and have set policies, for example, to disallow autoplay video or audio ads. But we get them anyway, even from Google. Whether advertisers make mistakes or try to sneak around the restrictions and don’t get caught, we can’t tell. It happens, though, all the time.

When bad ads appear, we report them and ask that they be disabled. Since different people in different geographies see different ads, it can be a challenge to identify them, and it can take a while to get them pulled. It’s a horrible process for everyone involved.

It’s so bad, our tech team has been exploring their own “bad ads” extension that would identify any resource-heavy ads that violate our policies, and provide us with better information so the ad network can more easily find and kill them. And yes, we’re well aware of how insane that sounds.

Open and honest. I deeply appreciate that Rene and iMore (and Mobile Nations as a whole company) are facing this head-on.

To me, it’s a classic example of a slippery slope. They never should have started with these black box ad exchanges in the first place, but now, years down the road, they find themselves dependent on the revenue from them, with no obvious replacement in sight.

This, to me, exemplifies what’s wrong with the online ad industry:

Just as desktop ads pay far less than old-fashioned print ads, mobile ads pay far less than desktop. Because phone displays are smaller than desktop, ads are also far harder to ignore. They’re not off to the side or a small strip on a big screen. They’re in our faces and in our way.

As more and more people move to mobile, revenue goes down, and the typical response is to amp up the ads in an attempt to mitigate the loss. That, of course, just makes them even more annoying.

Because there is less screen space, and because attention is more focused on mobile devices, mobile ads should cost as much or more than desktop ads. Certainly not less. The industry is fucked up. Exclusivity has tremendous value.

Three Takeaways for Web Developers After Two Weeks of Painfully Slow Internet 

Gabor Lenard:

When we went to Hungary during the Christmas period last year I bought a 1GB data plan on a prepaid card. However, soon after I went online with my laptop the entire data allowance was used up. Strangely, I wasn’t able to add another data package. Instead, T-Mobile limited my internet access to 32kbps till the end of the month.

Since there was no easy way to fix it and I had nothing critical to do I decided to embrace the situation as an opportunity to understand how it feels to be on a slow network most of the time. I had already started reading the book Responsible Responsive Design at that time anyway so I was curious.

I learned a lot from this first-hand experience. […] Here’s the three most important things that I became aware of during this time as a web developer.

(Via Eric Meyer.)

Clippers Have a DeAndre Jordan Commitment as Mavs Move to Other Options 

Exactly as I expected, Steve Ballmer is turning into an outstanding pro sports team owner. This is such a great story.

The Verge Turns Off Comments 

Nilay Patel:

What we’ve found lately is that the tone of our comments (and some of our commenters) is getting a little too aggressive and negative — a change that feels like it started with GamerGate and has steadily gotten worse ever since. It’s hard for us to do our best work in that environment, and it’s even harder for our staff to hang out with our audience and build the relationships that led to us having a great community in the first place.

That’s a bad feedback loop, and we want to stop it. So we’re going to call timeout for a while and turn comments off by default on all posts for the next few weeks.

Déjà vu all over again. Turn them off and leave them off, I say.

Germany and Debt Relief 

Eduardo Porter, writing for the NYT:

It is an image that still resonates today. To critics of Germany’s insistence that Athens must agree to more painful austerity before any sort of debt relief can be put on the table, it serves as a blunt retort: The main creditor demanding that Greeks be made to pay for past profligacy benefited not so long ago from more lenient terms than it is now prepared to offer.

But beyond serving as a reminder of German hypocrisy, the image offers a more important lesson: These sorts of things have been dealt with successfully before.

Inside JFK’s Abandoned TWA Terminal 

Max Touhey photographs TWA’s glorious terminal at JFK, abandoned since 2001 but in better condition than most active terminals here in the U.S. today.

Human Curation and the App Store 

Jean-Louis Gassée, on the return of human curation against algorithms:

For a while now, music downloads have paled when compared to apps — hence Apple’s move to a streaming service. But there’s another idea lurking in there: If it’s a good idea to use human curators to navigate 30 million “songs”, how about applying human curation to help the customer find his or her way through the 1.5M apps in the Apple App Store? Apple bought Beats for $3B and spent a good chunk more to build its Music product. Why not take another look at the App Store jungle and make customers and developers even happier?

I was thinking about just this last week, when Apple Music debuted at the same time Brent Simmons reignited the debate over the state of the indie developer market in the post-App Store world.

The App Store has long recommended apps in the Featured tab, but Apple Music doesn’t just bring curation, it brings personalities. Beats 1 isn’t just curated, it’s curated by DJs who are front and center: Ebro Darden, Julie Adenuga, and Zane Lowe. What would the equivalent of Beats 1 be for apps? Something like a year-round, non-stop Apple Design Awards.

Apple Stores Revamping Third-Party Accessory Selection With Apple-Designed Packaging 

Mark Gurman:

Apple is looking to own yet another aspect of its product experience. The company is gearing up to revamp its third-party accessory selection across all of its retail stores by next week by reducing the amount of accessories available in stores to ones sold in packaging co-designed by Apple. Apple has been working with select third-party accessory makers over the past six months to redesign boxes so that the experience more closely matches the boxes of Apple’s own products.

Seems odd to make everything in the store look more Apple-y whether it’s made by Apple or not, but it’s yet another sign of Apple’s increasing power and influence.

Amazon ‘Prime Day’ 

Amazon PR:

“Prime Day is a one-day only event filled with more deals than Black Friday, exclusively for Prime members around the globe. Members tell us every day how much they love Prime and we will keep making it better,” said Greg Greeley, Vice President Amazon Prime. “If you’re not already a Prime member, you’ll want to join so you don’t miss out on one of the biggest deals extravaganzas in the world.”

Genius idea.

Hacking Team Hacked 

Steve Ragan, writing for CSO:

Specializing in surveillance technology, Hacking Team is now learning how it feels to have their internal matters exposed to the world, and privacy advocates are enjoying a bit of schadenfreude at their expense.

Hacking Team is an Italian company that sells intrusion and surveillance tools to governments and law enforcement agencies.

Christopher Soghoian’s tweets the past few days have been chock full of links and information on this story.

Reddit Moderators Shut Down Parts of Site Over Employee’s Dismissal 

What no one seems willing to say: As a commercial enterprise, Reddit is, and always has been, a shitshow.

Cabel Sasser’s 2015 Fourth of July Fireworks Roundup 

Cabel’s annual compendium of weird fireworks, celebrating everything great about this holiday.

Posting New Songs to Connect Is Hard 

Dave Wiskus:

Uploading a song in the Music app is clunky. In order to get the song to post, it has to be available in My Music. Which means that I need to import the track to iTunes on my Mac, convince it to sync with my iPhone (a process that took about 12 hours and restoring my phone from a backup), and then go searching for it in a list that doesn’t immediately present with a search field.

Apple’s goal should be to make it as easy — and low-friction — to post new stuff to Connect as it is to post a picture to Instagram. Why not let artists pick songs from iCloud Drive, for example? Having to sync via iTunes on your Mac to post from your iPhone is so 2008.

The Supply-Side Blues 

Allen Pike, on indie development as art:

This issue arises with all forms of art. Even when parents see their children excel creatively, they’re of course proud, but often become wary. Your tuba playing sure is nice kid, but how about you keep your grades up so you can get a real job one day? Sure, it’s kind of awful to discourage a kid from their wild dream of being a professional tubist, but you know what? They’re gonna have a bad time. The cliché knows best: artists starve.

iMore: ‘No, Apple Is Not Adding DRM to Songs on Your Mac You Already Own’ 

Serenity Caldwell:

Yes, Apple Music has a DRM component. Yes, it sucks, but it’s similar to every other streaming service. No, it does not overwrite the files on your Mac to make all your music DRM-laden. For those Googling in a panic, here’s the deal.

I can’t believe she had to write this.

How to Properly Use ‘Likes’ in Apple Music 

Jim Dalrymple:

When you play a radio song, you will notice a heart—this is the like button. If you tap the heart, indicating you like that song, it does absolutely nothing to “tune” that station. Since the stations are human curated, there is no need for a tuning algorithm.

Tapping the heart does affect “For You,” the section of Apple Music that’s custom built with playlists, albums and songs tailored to your individual tastes. For You also takes into account music you add to your library and full plays you listen to. Skips aren’t really taken into account, because there are so many reasons you may skip a song—maybe you’re just not in the mood for it right now.

The Future of Lego Plastic 

Adele Peters, writing for Fast Company:

Lego’s 57-year-old toy empire was built on plastic. But now the giant Danish toy company is investing millions into getting rid of it. By 2030, Lego bricks will no longer be made from ABS, the oil-based plastic in the 60 billion blocks the company makes each year.

Interesting that it’s a 15-year plan.

Gizmodo: ‘Apple Music’s a Crushing Disappointment, but Not Because It’s Bad’ 

Analysis like this piece — which reads more like an Onion-style parody of the petulant “Apple should be held to a standard in the realm of sheer fantasy” form than an ostensibly straight-faced actual instance thereof — is why the industry continues to hold Gizmodo in such high esteem.

Apple’s Updated Leadership Bios 

Right on target, Apple has updated its leadership bios page with Jony Ive’s new title, and new entries for Richard Howarth and Alan Dye. Not sure if there’s anything to make of it, but both Howarth and Dye are described as reporting to Tim Cook, not Jony Ive.

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