Linked List: April 2016

Procreate 

My thanks to Procreate for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Procreate is an advanced, beautifully-designed painting app for iPad. It works with any iPad, of course, but with an iPad Pro and Apple Pencil it is simply amazing. If you’ve got an iPad Pro and Pencil, you owe it to yourself to get Procreate. This is one of those apps that is simply pushing the limits of “pro” app design.

And: it’s yours for a one-time $6 purchase. No subscription model or anything like that. You pay $6, you get an amazing, professional painting app.

Instagram Is Testing a New Black-and-White Design 

Looks like a great redesign. I’ve been using Instagram since the day it shipped, and I’m still thrown off by the way the camera tab always looks selected because it has a blue background.

Rovi Buys TiVo for $1.1 Billion 

Tony Maglio, reporting for The Wrap:

Entertainment technology company Rovi has purchased original DVR service TiVo for $1.1 billion, or $10.70 per share. Talks of such an acquisition heated up last month, and now it’s official — pending customary regulatory approval, of course.

That $10.70 per-share price represents a premium of approximately 40 percent over TiVo’s closing stock price of $7.66 on March 23 — the last trading day prior to media speculation about a possible transaction. It breaks down into $2.75 in cash and $7.95 in the new company’s common stock. Rovi stockholders will have an easy 1-for-1 swap for their own new stock.

The merged firms will be led by Rovi CEO Tom Carson, though it will adopt the TiVo brand as the new company name.

We’ve had a TiVo for the last 16 years. I really hope this isn’t the end of the line for TiVo as we know it. Crazy cool feature they added recently: they index the commercial breaks in many popular shows, and for those shows, you can precisely skip the entire commercial break with one button. Press the button, fun noise plays, and boom, your show is back on.

Carl Icahn Sells His Shares in Apple 

CNBC:

Icahn said China’s attitude toward Apple largely drove him to exit his position.

“You worry a little bit — and maybe more than a little — about China’s attitude,” Icahn said, later adding that China’s government could “come in and make it very difficult for Apple to sell there … you can do pretty much what you want there.” He added, though, that if China “was basically steadied,” he would buy back into Apple. […]

Last May, Icahn said he had a $240 per share price target on Apple when it traded around $130 per share. As recently as September, Icahn told CNBC he considered buying more of the company’s stock, saying it looked cheap.

Engadget: ‘Apple iPhone Sales and Revenue Finally Decline’ 

Finally, a headline where finally is actually apt.

Twitter’s Ad Problem 

Peter Kafka, writing for Recode:

And to be very clear: Twitter now has an ad problem because of its user problem. It doesn’t have enough scale to compete with Facebook and Google.

For a while, this didn’t matter, because Twitter and its ad boss, Adam Bain, had done a very good job of courting big brand advertisers and the ad agencies that spend their money. They got them to take a flier on Twitter. But Twitter isn’t novel anymore, and brands and agencies who want to play with a new shiny object can go to Snapchat. […]

Twitter’s answer to all of this is the same answer that everyone else on the web has: We’ll fix it with video.

Ugh.

Japanese Magazine Publishes Purported Schematics of Next iPhone, Showing Smart Connector 

Juli Clover, writing for MacRumors:

Schematics featuring the dual-camera 5.5-inch iPhone 7 Plus or “Pro” that’s set to launch in the fall of 2016 have been published in the June issue of Japanese magazine MacFan, reiterating many of the design details that have been previously rumored for the device. […]

Also depicted in the schematic is the dual camera setup that’s rumored for the 5.5-inch iPhone 7 Plus, a Smart Connector, and the absence of a headphone jack. Apple is planning to remove the headphone jack in its 2016 devices, with headphones instead connecting via Lightning or Bluetooth. Though some rumors have suggested the iPhone 7 will include stereo speakers, the design drawing features a single speaker.

I’ve ignored the rumors about a Smart Connector on the next iPhone until now. But now there’s enough smoke for me to wonder about it. If it’s true, what would it be used for? The iPad Pro Smart Connectors seem perfectly suited to the purpose of attaching keyboards. Is that what this is for on the iPhone? Maybe a magnetic charger, similar to (but incompatible with) that of the Apple Watch? I’m stumped on this one.

Anyone?

Update: Best ideas so far:

  • A battery case that uses this connector could be thinner and simpler (no “chin”). The problem I see with this idea is that they’d have to announce the battery cases along with the new iPhones, which would open Apple to accusations that the built-in batteries are too small and “need” $80 battery cases. I think the quiet November debut of the iPhone 6S Smart Battery Case was planned. But maybe now that they’ve broken the ice on first-party battery cases, it’s not a marketing problem to introduce better ones?

  • If the new iPhone charges via this magnetic connector, it would allow you to charge the device while using the Lightning port for your headphones. Or vice-versa: maybe we’ll see Smart Connector headphones?

  • Cases with camera peripherals, like external microphones and lenses? Or a waterproof “camera case”?

Yankees Manager Joe Girardi Wants MLB to Ban the Shift 

Andrew Marchand, writing for ESPN:

If New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi were the commissioner of baseball, he says he would ban the shift.

“It is an illegal defense, like basketball,” said Girardi, referring to defensive three seconds in the NBA. “Guard your man, guard your spot. If I were commissioner, they would be illegal.”

I like Girardi a lot — he’s a good manager, and a smart guy (he has an industrial engineering degree from Northwestern). But this is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard him say.

The rules have never said where the fielders need to stand, and infield shifts date back to the 1870s. Beating the shift is simple: Hit ’em where they ain’t.

Yours Truly on This Week’s Episode of The Dalrymple Report 

Fun show. We talked about the iPhone SE, new iPad Pro, and Apple Watch.

‘This Is Tim’ Q2 2016 

Rene Ritchie and Jason Snell transcribe Tim Cook and CFO Luca Maestri’s remarks from today’s analyst phone call.

Games for Apple Watch 

Some days my best material is on Twitter.

Demand for iPhone SE Exceeds Apple’s Expectations 

Tim Cook, during today’s analyst conference call:

“We’re thrilled with the response that we’ve seen on it. It is clear that there is a demand there even much beyond what we thought. That is really why we have the constraint that we have.”

I find it a little alarming that Apple was taken by surprise on this. Only a little, though, because I don’t think it’ll take them long to get supply in balance. Maybe even by the end of this quarter.

Apple Reports Q2 2016 Results 

Apple press release:

The Company posted quarterly revenue of $50.6 billion and quarterly net income of $10.5 billion, or $1.90 per diluted share. These results compare to revenue of $58 billion and net income of $13.6 billion, or $2.33 per diluted share, in the year-ago quarter. Gross margin was 39.4 percent compared to 40.8 percent in the year-ago quarter. International sales accounted for 67 percent of the quarter’s revenue.

A year-over-year decline for the first quarter in 13 years, but right in line with their guidance for this quarter three months ago. A streak like this had to end eventually.

Update: A slew of charts from Six Colors.

The Encryption Farce 

Scathing editorial from the WSJ in the wake of the Department of Justice dropping another last-minute “never mind”, this time with an iPhone in a drug case in Brooklyn:

Such assertions were as false in Brooklyn as in San Bernardino. Two hours and a half before a deadline on Friday night, the government withdrew the case after “an individual provided the passcode to the iPhone,” according to legal filings. This second immaculate conception in as many months further undermines the FBI’s credibility about its technological capabilities. Judges ought to exercise far more scrutiny in future decryption cases even as Mr. Comey continues to pose as helpless. […]

Yet forgive us if this “conversation” now seems more like a Jim Comey monologue. The debate might start to be productive if the FBI Director would stop trying to use the courts as an ad hoc policy tool and promised not to bring any more cases like the one in Brooklyn.

The Obama administration does not escape their attention:

Meanwhile, the White House has taken the profile-in-courage stand of refusing to endorse or oppose any encryption bill that Congress may propose. If the Obama team won’t start adjusting to the technological realities of strong and legal encryption, they could at least exercise some adult supervision at Main Justice.

The Talk Show: ‘The Greatest Mic Drop I’ve Ever Seen’ 

New episode of America’s favorite three-star podcast, featuring special guest Guy English. Topics include Ben Thompson’s argument that Apple’s functional organizational structure is hindering their efforts in online services, recalling our first Apple computers and the elegance of the classic Mac OS’s conceptual design, Prince (and his early use of Macs for creating music), WWDC 2016, and yours truly’s youthful foray into on-the-job vandalism.

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Casey Chan on Abandoning His Apple Watch 

It’s Gizmodo so there’s a heavy dollop of clickbait in the headline, but Casey Chan’s critique of the Apple Watch makes several salient points:

First, I still don’t know what the buttons do. This is ridiculous (and probably very stupid on my part) because, well, there are only two buttons, the digital crown and the side button. Most of the times, pressing the digital crown acts like an iPhone home button. But sometimes it’s a back button (like when you’re in the Favorites contact screen). It gets more confusing because you can scroll through a list with the crown but you can never select, you have to tap the screen for that to work. Most of these things you eventually figure out, but these little inconsistencies just add to the frustration of using it.

“When do I use which button and what do the buttons do?” needs to be obvious for the Apple Watch to truly feel Apple-y. And it fails. The longer I own mine the more obvious it is that Apple dropped the ball on the buttons:

  • Single-press on the crown takes you to the app screen. I almost never launch any apps from the “home screen”.
  • Single-press on the bottom button takes you to the “favorite contacts” screen. I almost never use this.

My hope is that Apple does more than just make the second generation watch faster/thinner/longer-lasting, and takes a step back and reconsiders some of the fundamental aspects to the conceptual design.

A Rolex-Sized Flop 

MG Siegler:

Last year, Rolex did $4.5 billion in sales. A solid year for the premium watchmaker. Of course, it was no Apple Watch. That business did roughly $6 billion in sales, if industry estimates are accurate.

The point here isn’t to compare the two devices — an Apple Watch is just about as comparable to a watch as an iPhone is to a phone. But it does provide an interesting context for Apple’s fledgling business — a new product category which has come under a lot of scrutiny since its launch a year ago. Many have called it a “flop,” which, again, is interesting in context.

Apple Watch, One Year In 

Daisuke Wakabayashi, writing for the WSJ:

Apple Inc. sold twice as many Watches as iPhones in each device’s debut year. Yet the smartwatch is dogged by a perception that seems premature given the history of Apple’s most popular devices: disappointment.

As the Watch marks its first anniversary on Sunday — two days before Apple’s quarterly earnings announcement — the product’s fate is critical to the company. It is Apple’s first all-new product since the iPad and a test of its ability to innovate under Chief Executive Tim Cook, when sales of iPhones are slowing.

​So far, the numbers appear solid. Apple doesn’t disclose sales, but analysts estimate about 12 million Watches were sold in year one. At an estimated average price of $500, that is a $6 billion business — three times the annual revenue of activity tracker Fitbit Inc.

Apple Watch can’t be neatly summarized with a one-word description like “hit” or “flop”. It has some serious, deep flaws, but it has sold well — especially considering those flaws. And the people who own one tend to really like it.

It’s a misconception that what Apple does best is unveil mind-blowing new products. What Apple does best is iterate year after year after year — exactly what Apple Watch needs.

On that front, Wakabayashi writes:

There are relatively easy fixes for some concerns. Apple is working on adding cell-network connectivity and a faster processor to its next-generation Watch, according to people familiar with the matter.

LeEco CEO Jia Yueting Says Apple Is ‘Outdated’ 

CNBC:

Apple is “outdated” and losing momentum in China, billionaire entrepreneur Jia Yueting told CNBC in his first international television interview.

Jia is chief executive and chairman of Chinese conglomerate LeEco (formerly LeTV), which is best known for being the “Netflix of China,” but has a product range that includes smartphones, televisions, mountain bikes and, most recently, electric vehicles.

As Michael Simmons quipped, that’s pretty rich coming from “the guy wearing gray sneakers, long-sleeved black t-shirt, and jeans.”

Panic’s Lost 1982 Artwork 

Worth a re-link, in light of the aforelinked The Art of Atari — Panic’s “alternate-universe, time-warped re-imaginings” of their Mac apps.

‘The Art of Atari’ 

I dare you to keep me away from this upcoming book. I dare you.

Imprint 

This week’s DF RSS feed was sponsored by Imprint, a new curated retailer and lifestyle publication offering weekly collections of exclusive products for the modern gentleman.

Put differently, rather than selling thousands of different items, Imprint sells only 10-20 core products per month, presented alongside beautiful independent photography and storytelling. And rather than selling flash-sale leftovers, Imprint works with top brands to source, produce, and sell a truly limited and exclusive selection of top notch clothing, literature, coffee, and more.

Last week, Imprint also launched on iOS — both for iPhone and iPad — allowing customers to shop internationally with Apple Pay, consult with Imprint’s on-demand stylists, and more. The website is good, but the app is really great.

Daring Fireball readers keen to try Imprint — on web or iOS — can use the promo code “BASEBALL” to save 20 percent. Shipping is free within the U.S. and a flat-rate abroad, and all returns are free.

Looking at the Future 

Craig Hockenberry, writing about the new iPad Pro display’s expanded color gamut:

After using this iPad for a couple of weeks, I’ve realized it’s like the advances of Retina in an important way: I never want to use a lesser display again. And as with higher density, I think it’s obvious that Apple will eventually update all its products to use this improved screen technology. I can’t wait!

It also wouldn’t surprise me to see these wider color gamuts coming to the cameras in our devices. All iOS devices currently create images in the sRGB gamut, while professional gear can produce images in ProPhoto or AdobeRGB. High dynamic range (HDR) photos need a wider range of color, too.

iTunes Movies and iBooks Store Shut Down By Chinese Government 

Paul Mozur and Jane Perlez, reporting for the NYT:

For years, there has been a limit to the success of American technology companies in China. Capture too much market share or wield too much influence, and Beijing will push back.

Apple has largely been an exception to that trend. Yet the Silicon Valley company is now facing a regulatory push against its services in China that could signal its good relations in the country may be turning.

Last week, Apple’s iBooks Store and iTunes Movies were shut down in China, just six months after they were started there. Initially, Apple apparently had the government’s approval to introduce the services. But then a regulator, the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, asserted its authority and demanded the closings, according to two people who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

China being China.

Microsoft’s Android Patent-Licensing Revenue Is Falling 

Matt Rosoff, reporting on Microsoft’s fiscal results:

In the release, Microsoft noted that its patent-licensing revenue was down 26% from a year ago. And it’s because of Android. […] Suh also noted that not every Android manufacturer has a licensing deal with Microsoft. He didn’t name names, but Chinese phone makers typically take a very loose approach toward licensing American intellectual property, and as those inexpensive phones take over the world, Microsoft doesn’t benefit as much.

At one point, Microsoft was reported to be booking $2 billion a year from licensing its patents and other intellectual property to Android handset makers like Samsung and HTC. Microsoft has never confirmed that number, but it’s probably a drop in the bucket compared to the overall Windows business, which booked revenue around $4.2 billion this quarter. (“Windows revenue decreased $292 million or 7%,” the release says.)

Still, the Android gravy train is slowing down for everybody.

Patton Oswalt’s Advice to His Fellow Bernie Sanders Supporters 

Maxwell Strachan, writing for The Huffington Post:

In anticipation of the special, The Huffington Post caught up with the comedian to discuss his stand-up tips, the state of the Internet, and, of course, the 2016 Election. Oswalt has been a supporter of Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders, but made it clear in the interview that he’s not “Bernie or bust.”

“I will vote for whoever the Democrats nominate against either of those two psychopaths,” he said. “I think they’re both equally dangerous and backward-facing for this country.”

Asked what he would say to a Bernie supporter who would rather not vote than cast a ballot for Hillary Clinton in the November general election, Oswalt replied, “Well, then you’re a fucking child.”

Amen.

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe Restores Voting Rights to Felons 

Sheryl Gay Stolberg, reporting for the NYT:

Gov. Terry McAuliffe of Virginia used his executive power on Friday to restore voting rights to more than 200,000 convicted felons, circumventing his Republican-run Legislature. The action overturns a Civil War-era provision in the state’s Constitution aimed, he said, at disenfranchising African-Americans.

This passage from the end of her report floored me:

In researching the provisions, advisers to the governor turned up a 1906 report quoting Carter Glass, a Virginia state senator (and later, a member of Congress who was an author of the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act that regulated banks) as saying they would “eliminate the darkey as a political factor in this State in less than five years, so that in no single county of the Commonwealth will there be the least concern felt for the complete supremacy of the white race in the affairs of government.”

Prince Composing Music on a Mac SE in 1990’s ‘Graffiti Bridge’ 

Ahead of his time, as ever.

European Commission Charges Google With Abuse of Android’s ‘Dominant Position’ 

Mark Scott, reporting for the NYT:

Google has long stressed that Android, its popular mobile software, is open for anyone to use, including its rivals.

But the company’s claims are now under threat after Europe’s antitrust authorities on Wednesday charged the company with unfairly using Android to promote its own services — like mobile search — over those of its rivals. In doing so, regulators brought particular scrutiny to Google’s relationships with some of the world’s biggest cellphone makers, which have helped expand the reach of Android.

Margrethe Vestager, the European Union’s antitrust chief, said Google had required some of the cellphone manufacturers to preinstall the company’s services, including its Google Play smartphone application store, and had given them unfair financial incentives to favor Google’s services on their mobile devices. Those practices undermined competition and consumer choice, she said.

Does Google play hardball? Yes. That’s the game. This seems like a bunch of bullshit. I agree with Nilay Patel here: “The EU’s idea of ‘potentially superior versions of Android’ is some real magical thinking.”

Researchers: Dyson Hand Dryers Spread Viral Germs 

Beth Mole, reporting for Ars Technica:

By far, the jet dryer was the biggest viral spreader in all measurements.

Clumping the data from all six heights together, the Dyson produced 60 times more plaques than the warm air dryer and 1,300 times more than paper towels. Of the viruses launched by the jet dryer, 70 percent were at the height of a small child’s face.

Looking across the distances tested, most of the jet dryer-launched viruses landed about 0.25 meters away. But at three meters, the number of plaque-forming viruses spread by the jet dryer was 500-fold greater than that from the warm air dryer (paper towels launched zero to this distance). In total across the distances, the jet dryer spread 20 times more viruses than the warm dryer and more than 190 times more than the paper towels.

It’s just one research project, but it seems pretty compelling. I’ve always preferred paper towels to any sort of air dryer. Speaking of which, from the DF archive: “How to Use a Paper Towel” — one of my favorite links ever.

Jason Snell on the Speed-Bump Update to the MacBook 

It’s faster, but the biggest change is that it’s now available in rose gold. Still just one port, and that port is USB-C, not Thunderbolt 3.

‘Humanae’ — A Color Palette of Human Skin Tones 

Photographer Angélica Dass’s Humanae is an ongoing project, matching portrait photos with Pantone colors of their skin tones. Perhaps someone should show this wide range of colors to Samsung’s marketing department. (Via Kottke.)

Manton Reece: Don’t Give Up on WWDC 

Manton Reece:

I think it’s possible to go out to WWDC without spending a fortune. You can attend AltConf, find an Airbnb room for $150/night, and stay a few days instead of all week. I downgraded my expectations for WWDC and booked a cheaper hotel room a couple of months ago. It’s about how much you want to be there.

In fact, I’d still argue that it’s less expensive to “attend” WWDC now because it has been proven how much you can get out of AltConf and other events without the $1600 conference ticket. When I went to my first WWDC back when it was held in San Jose (and the same could be said for the early years in San Francisco), hotels and flights were cheaper but it was pointless to attend without a ticket.

The problem with Manton’s idea is that there aren’t many Airbnb options within a walkable distance of Moscone. (Even if you don’t have a conference ticket, most of the social stuff you might want to attend is in the general area of SOMA or Union Square.) I count 83 results at this moment, and some of them are “shared rooms” (gross) and others are just as expensive as a decent hotel room.

WWDC as Community Hub, in the Face of San Francisco’s Hotel Prices 

Joe Cieplinski:

Folks say that WWDC is the one time where everyone in our community can get together, but frankly, the price of hotels in San Francisco has made that statement a bit disingenuous. Many — if not most — of us can’t afford to make it to this party, so maybe this is no longer the party for “everyone.” Maybe it’s time we acknowledged that WWDC has become a bit of a luxury, as much as that pains me to say.

San Francisco hotels have gotten really expensive. Looking at Priceline, four-star hotels in the general vicinity of Moscone are double — if not more — the price they were just a few years ago. To name just one example, the Parc 55 cost me around $250/night in June 2013. In 2011, I booked a room at the Parc 55 through Hotwire for $115/night. That seems downright comical today. This year, rooms at the Parc 55 are running over $400/night. That’s a lot of money for the whole week — particularly considering that the Parc 55 really stretches the definition of “4-star”.

It costs more to book a decent hotel in San Francisco now than it does in Manhattan.

Update: San Francisco hotels aren’t just expensive — according to Bloomberg they are now the most expensive in the entire world. Thanks to Chris Mohajer.

Ken Auletta on Bill Campbell 

Ken Auletta, writing for The New Yorker:

In the world capital of engineering, where per-capita income can seem inversely related to social skills, Campbell was the man who taught founders to look up from their computer screens. He was known throughout the Valley as “the Coach,” the experienced executive who added a touch of humanity as he quietly instructed Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Marc Andreessen, Ben Horowitz, the founders of Twitter, Sheryl Sandberg, and countless other entrepreneurs on the human dimensions of management, on the importance of listening to employees and customers, of partnering with others. His obituary was not featured on the front of most newspapers, or at the top of most technology news sites, but it should have been.

San Francisco Mono 

Apple’s WWDC 2016 website is sporting a “source code” theme, and is typeset using what appears to be a monospaced variant of San Francisco. Looks pretty good — I hope this is something they’re going to release at WWDC. I’d wager that it is.

(The parentheses should be rounder, and thus more distinctive, though. Compare the relatively flat parentheses on the WWDC 2016 site with the parentheses in a few of my favorite monospaced fonts. I wonder if this is simply a decorative decision made by the designers of the site. I wouldn’t be surprised if, at smaller sizes typically used by developers while actually editing code, the parentheses are rounder.)

Harriet Tubman to Replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 Bill 

Jackie Calmes, reporting for the NYT:

The Treasury Department will announce on Wednesday afternoon that Harriet Tubman, an African-American who ferried hundreds of slaves to freedom, will replace the slaveholding Andrew Jackson on the center of a new $20 note, according to a Treasury official, while newly popular Alexander Hamilton will remain on the face of the $10 bill.

Other depictions of women and civil rights leaders will also be part of new currency designs.

The new designs, from the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, would be made public in 2020 in time for the centennial of woman’s suffrage and the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. None of the bills, including a new $5 note, would reach circulation until the next decade.

The Hamilton musical is so wildly popular that it changed the course of this decision — the original plan was to put Tubman on the $10 bill, not the $20. Whatever the reason, this is a much better outcome — Jackson was opposed to paper currency. Good riddance to a terrible “great President”.

1986 in Photos 

Great collection of photos from 1986. Check out the watch on Woz in photo 6.

I’m more sports-minded than most, but it seems almost criminal not to include a shot of 46-year-old Jack Nicklaus tearing up the back nine at Augusta, en route to winning The Masters for the sixth time. Larry Bird’s Boston Celtics should have been in there too. Update: And Diego Maradona’s infamous “hand of god” goal in the World Cup.

Intel to Cut 12,000 Jobs, Forecast Misses Amid PC Blight 

Ian King, reporting for Bloomberg:

Intel Corp. will eliminate 12,000 jobs, or 11 percent of its workforce, embarking on the deepest cutbacks in a decade to gird for a fifth year of declines in the personal-computer market.

The world’s biggest maker of semiconductors said it’s shifting focus to higher-growth areas, such as chips for data center machines and Internet-connected devices. Intel also posted disappointing first-quarter revenue and gave a second-quarter sales forecast that fell short of analysts’ estimates.

Shipments of PCs, a market that provides Intel with more than half of its sales, fell to their lowest level in a decade in the first three months of 2016.

Intel’s decline has been rapid. They missed the boat on the mobile revolution. Microsoft — Intel’s partner during the go-go “Wintel” years — has missed the mobile boat, too, but has thrived by diversifying into areas such as cloud services. Intel can only thrive by selling chips, and they still don’t make the chips that device makers want for mobile devices.

I’m not counting them out yet, but this is ominous. Intel needs something new, because PCs have entered a permanent decline.

‘Coach’ Bill Campbell Dies at 75 

John Markoff, writing for the NYT:

Bill Campbell, one of the most influential background players in Silicon Valley, who was known as “coach” there for his work advising technology industry stars like Steve Jobs at Apple and Larry Page at Google, died on Monday at his home in Palo Alto, Calif. He was 75.

His family said the cause was cancer.

It’s almost impossible to overstate how influential Campbell was in Silicon Valley:

Mr. Campbell was an Eastman Kodak executive in Europe when he was recruited to Silicon Valley in 1983 by Apple’s chief executive at the time, John Sculley. Mr. Sculley named him vice president of marketing. Mr. Campbell later played a significant role in Apple’s spectacular turnaround when Steve Jobs, who had been fired by Mr. Sculley, returned to the company in 1997. Apple went on to revamp its Mac computer line and introduce the iPod, iPhone and iPad.

Mr. Campbell was an Apple director from 1997 until 2014.

It was Mr. Doerr who brought Mr. Campbell to Google to serve as an informal adviser to the two founders, Mr. Page and Sergey Brin. Mr. Campbell was instrumental in the hiring of Eric Schmidt to be Google’s chief executive in August 2001.

Strikingly, Mr. Campbell’s advisory role was often unpaid, at his insistence; he said he wanted to pay back what he felt was a debt to the nation’s technology region.

At Google, for example, he helped shape its leadership for a generation or more but, except for a single stock grant, never had a formal financial relationship with the company, according to Mr. Schmidt, who is now Google’s chairman. “Google would not be the company it is today without the influence of Bill Campbell,” Mr. Schmidt said, “and my guess is Apple wouldn’t be, either.”

Remember Claris? That was Bill Campbell:

Mr. Campbell was deeply involved in Silicon Valley’s start-up culture as well. In 1987 he led a group of Apple executives in setting up a software subsidiary, Claris, with the ultimate goal of spinning the company off as a start-up. When Apple decided not to let Claris become a separate public company, many of the executives, including Mr. Campbell, left.

Apple has a nice tribute on their home page today.

WWDC 2016: June 13 Through 17 

Apple PR:

Monday’s kickoff events, including the keynote address, will be held at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. The rest of the week’s conference sessions will take place at Moscone West. […]

Developers can apply for tickets via the WWDC website (https://developer.apple.com/wwdc/register/) now through Friday, April 22 at 10:00 a.m. PDT. Tickets will be issued to attendees through a random selection process, and developers will be notified on the status of their application by Monday, April 25 at 5:00 p.m. PDT. For the second consecutive year, there will be up to 350 WWDC Scholarships available, giving students and STEM organization members from around the world an opportunity to earn a ticket to meet and collaborate with some of the most talented developers of Apple’s ever-growing app ecosystem (https://developer.apple.com/wwdc/scholarships/). Additionally, this year, we will provide travel assistance to up to 125 scholarship recipients to ensure aspiring developers with financial limitations have an opportunity to participate.

Interesting that they’re moving Monday’s events to the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. That’s where they held the iPhone 6S/iPad Pro event last September. It’s a bit of a hike from the Moscone-area hotels, but it’s a really big space.

Apple’s Penchant for Consumer Security 

Ben Bajarin, on a security “deep dive” briefing he got from executives at Apple last week:

Apple is attempting something that seems unprecedented at an industry level. To bring industry leading security but do so by actually enhancing the user experience. Prior to Touch ID for example, many organizations required eight, and sometimes longer, PIN numbers. Imagine entering that many numbers every time you pick up your smartphone. To emphasize this point, Apple shared a great statistic: their average users unlocks their phones 80 times a day. Other reports state people look at their phones upwards of 130 times a day but those are less of the average and more the heavier users. Regardless, the simple act of logging into our phone via a secure form of login like passcodes or fingerprints is now taken for granted in much of Apple’s ecosystem when, just a few years ago, anyone could have stolen my phone and have access to my personal information. Here again, Apple shared that 89% of their users with a Touch ID-capable device have set it up and use it.

‘Never Never Never’ 

Kanye West, two months ago:

My album will never never never be on Apple. And it will never be for sale… You can only get it on Tidal.

Six weeks later, the album was on Apple Music and Spotify.

Today:

A Kanye West fan on Monday sued the rapper and the streaming service Tidal claiming they duped users into subscriptions based on the promise of being the exclusive outlet for West’s latest album.

The proposed class action lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco by Justin Baker-Rhett contends West fraudulently promised fans that his album, “The Life of Pablo,” would only be available on Tidal. The site charges users at least $9.99 a month, but West’s album has since been released for free on Apple Music and Spotify.

Keep in mind that West isn’t just an artist on Tidal — he’s a stakeholder. I tend to see lawsuits like this as frivolous, but anyone who signed up for Tidal based on West’s statements was flat-out duped.

iPad Multitasking’s Effect on MLB At Bat Viewership 

Sarah Perez, writing for TechCrunch:

During these first two weeks, MLB fans spent 20 percent more minutes per day, on average, watching live video on iPad compared with the 2015 season, when multitasking was not available. (MLB says that any form of multitasking behavior was counted here, not just spilt-screen viewing.)

In addition, fans who were using the new multitasking features and watching live video of MLB games in the At Bat application were spending 162 minutes per day on average consuming MLB.TV on iPad. That’s an increase of 86 percent from the 2015 season.

Watching two games at once on the new Apple TV is pretty sweet too.

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Custom Ringtones on iOS Are a Huge Pain in the Ass 

Dieter Bohn has a good piece for The Verge on what a complicated, confusing process it is to put a custom ringtone on an iPhone:

I find this eight-step process to be legitimately insane. It exists because Apple made a decision a long time ago that the iPhone should be made “simpler” in some very specific ways. You could argue that it’s about locking things down. You could definitely argue that Apple is constrained by music industry interests and can’t make the process for putting your own ringtones on a phone too simple or else it’ll get into hot water with record labels.

But whatever the historical or philosophical reasons behind abstracting access to a file system and ringtones might be, that doesn’t change the fact that this is a broken user experience.

I don’t agree with his main thesis, aptly summarized by the headline: “Why the iPhone Sometimes Feels Stuck in the Past”. Bohn points to Android’s method, where users can just move a ringtone file into the folder where the OS looks for them. That is less confusing and more straightforward than what iOS requires now, but to me, “give users access to the file system and expect them to move files into special folders” is the idea that is stuck in the past.

Setting a custom wallpaper in iOS shows the way to do this without exposing the file system. Open any image, hit the Share button, and choose “Use as Wallpaper”. There’s no reason iOS couldn’t do the same thing for setting an audio file as a ringtone or alert. Do it right from iCloud Drive or Dropbox.

(Another gripe: custom ringtones don’t make the trip when you set up a new iPhone from a backup of an old one. A real annoyance every time I set up a new iPhone. People who work at Apple and restore their iPhones more frequently than I do must stick to the system ringtones — otherwise they’d go mad. Update: A ton of readers wrote in to say that their ringtones restore just fine when setting up new iPhones. But a few wrote in to say they’d had the same experience as me — they had to put their ringtones back on their phone manually. I just tried a fresh restore on a spare iPhone here, and this time, all my custom ringtones were restored. I don’t know what’s going on here, but there might be some sort of edge-case bug.)

Another Instance of ‘MacOS’ Appears 

For a short time yesterday, Apple’s newly updated page on the company’s environmental initiatives read:

Years of use, which are based on first owners, are assumed to be four years for MacOS and tvOS devices and three years for iOS and watchOS devices.

They’ve since changed “MacOS” to “OS X”, but still. Intriguing that they might even capitalize the “M”.

(Previous posts: here and here.)

Photo-Realistic Renderings of People’s Sketches of Bicycles 

Gianluca Gimini:

Back in 2009 I began pestering friends and random strangers. I would walk up to them with a pen and a sheet of paper asking that they immediately draw me a men’s bicycle, by heart. Soon I found out that when confronted with this odd request most people have a very hard time remembering exactly how a bike is made. Some did get close, some actually nailed it perfectly, but most ended up drawing something that was pretty far off from a regular men’s bicycle. […]

I decided my job was going to be presenting the potential and the beauty inside these sketches. I selected those that I found most interesting and genuine and diverse, then rendered them as if they were real. I became the executor of these two minute projects by people who were mainly non-designers and confirmed my suspicion: everyone, regardless his age and job, can come up with extraordinary, wild, new and at times brilliant inventions.

This is amazing. (Via David Chapman.)

Apple Has Probably Killed the ‘Air’ Brand 

Jack March:

I think it’s pretty obvious at this point that Apple will never release a new product with the ‘Air’ branding again.

For starters, the words ‘Light’ and ‘Professional’ are no longer a dichotomy, though they were when the original MacBook Air was launched in 2008. For Apple to achieve the title of ‘World’s Thinnest Notebook’ they had to compromise on performance and expansion slots. It was a very niche and expensive product, only for people with the primary priority of portability. In 2016 — where nearly all products from Apple and competitors are thin and light — Apple’s distinction of ‘Air’ is redundant.

It’s possible they could do a minor CPU speed bump for the MacBook Air, but at this point I think it’s clear that the only reason MacBook Airs are still sold is to have laptops at sub-$1000 price points. The action going forward is entirely on the just-plain MacBook (thin, lightweight, super sleek design) and MacBook Pro (which will probably soon be about as thin and lightweight as the MacBook Air). At this point, “Air” just means “lower cost”. (“MacBook LC”, anyone?)

Adam Satariano and Alex Webb, writing for Bloomberg:

Apple Inc. has constructed a secret team to explore changes to the App Store, including a new strategy for charging developers to have their apps more prominently displayed, according to people familiar with the plans.

Every team at Apple is “secret”.

Among the ideas being pursued, Apple is considering paid search, a Google-like model in which companies would pay to have their app shown at the top of search results based on what a customer is seeking. For instance, a game developer could pay to have its program shown when somebody looks for “football game,” “word puzzle” or “blackjack.”

Paid search, which Google turned into a multibillion-dollar business, would give Apple a new way to make money from the App Store. The growing marketing budgets of app developers such as “Clash of Clans” maker Supercell Oy have proven to be lucrative sources of revenue for Internet companies, including Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc.

This sounds like a terrible idea. The one and only thing Apple should do with App Store search is make it more accurate. They don’t need to squeeze any more money from it. More accurate, reliable App Store search would help users and help good developers. It’s downright embarrassing that App Store search is still so bad. Google web search is better for searching Apple’s App Store than the App Store’s built-in search. That’s the problem Apple needs to address.

About 100 employees are working on the project, including many engineers from Apple’s advertising group iAd that’s being scaled back, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the plans are private. The effort is being spearheaded by Apple Vice President Todd Teresi, who led iAd.

Just make search better. That’s it.

Motherboard: How Canadian Police Intercept and Read Encrypted BlackBerry Messages 

Jordan Pearson and Justin Ling, reporting for Motherboard:

The key, according to Boismenu, is so powerful that it could be used to “illegitimately” decipher any “prerecorded communications encrypted with that key” — so it’s striking that the RCMP had access to it.

Indeed, Crown attorney Robert Rouleau stated in an ex parte hearing: “So right now, with my device, if I’m not on the [Business Enterprise Server], I’m a dead chicken. That’s the reality of it, that’s what we don’t want the general public to know.”

And:

RCMP inspector Mark Flynn testified in a heavily redacted transcript that BlackBerry “facilitated the interception process,” however, Flynn also stated that facilitation could mean mere information sharing or a physical action to aid interception.

Flynn further testified that revealing the key would jeopardize the RCMP’s working relationship with BlackBerry, and harm BlackBerry itself, since “it is not a good marketing thing to say we work with the police.”

You don’t say.

Apple Hires NFL Lobbyist Cynthia Hogan to Head Washington Office 

Tony Romm, reporting for Politico:

Apple has hired Cynthia Hogan, a top lobbyist for the National Football League and former aide to Vice President Joe Biden, as the new head of its Washington office — a major pickup for the tech giant as it continues to battle law enforcement officials who seek greater access to its customers’ data.

Hogan will become the iPhone maker’s vice president for public policy and government affairs for the Americas, a role that oversees not only the company’s D.C. operations but also Canada and Latin America. She’ll report to Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of environment, policy and social initiatives, who previously led the Environmental Protection Agency.

“Cynthia’s intellect and judgment have consistently distinguished her as a uniquely talented professional and we’re lucky to have her join the team at Apple,” Jackson said in a statement.

New Identity for Charlie Rose by Jessica Svendsen 

This identity is so spot-on perfect for Charlie Rose that it feels like it’s been his brand for decades. But it’s actually new work by Jessica Svendsen while she was at Pentagram. Svendsen, it turns out, left Pentagram for Apple last year.

(Via Stephen Coles, writing at Fonts in Use.)

Microsoft Sues U.S. Justice Department Over Secret Customer Data Searches 

Brad Smith, Microsoft’s president and chief legal officer:

We believe that with rare exceptions consumers and businesses have a right to know when the government accesses their emails or records. Yet it’s becoming routine for the U.S. government to issue orders that require email providers to keep these types of legal demands secret. We believe that this goes too far and we are asking the courts to address the situation.

To be clear, we appreciate that there are times when secrecy around a government warrant is needed. This is the case, for example, when disclosure of the government’s warrant would create a real risk of harm to another individual or when disclosure would allow people to destroy evidence and thwart an investigation. But based on the many secrecy orders we have received, we question whether these orders are grounded in specific facts that truly demand secrecy. To the contrary, it appears that the issuance of secrecy orders has become too routine.

The urgency for action is clear and growing. Over the past 18 months, the U.S. government has required that we maintain secrecy regarding 2,576 legal demands, effectively silencing Microsoft from speaking to customers about warrants or other legal process seeking their data. Notably and even surprisingly, 1,752 of these secrecy orders, or 68 percent of the total, contained no fixed end date at all. This means that we effectively are prohibited forever from telling our customers that the government has obtained their data.

Kudos to Microsoft to taking a strong stance on this.

From the NYT story on the lawsuit:

In its suit, filed Thursday morning in Federal District Court in Seattle, Microsoft’s home turf, the company asserts that the gag order statute in the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 — as employed today by federal prosecutors and the courts — is unconstitutional.

The statute, according to Microsoft, violates the Fourth Amendment right of its customers to know if the government searches or seizes their property, and it breaches the company’s First Amendment right to speak to its customers.

Microsoft’s suit, unlike Apple’s fight with the Federal Bureau of Investigation over access to a locked iPhone, is not attached to a single case. Instead, it is intended to challenge the legal process regarding secrecy orders.

Canadian Police Have Had Access to BlackBerry’s Global Decryption Key Since 2010 

Justin Ling and Jordan Pearson, reporting for Vice:

According to technical reports by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police that were filed in court, law enforcement intercepted and decrypted roughly one million PIN-to-PIN BlackBerry messages in connection with the probe. The report doesn’t disclose exactly where the key — effectively a piece of code that could break the encryption on virtually any BlackBerry message sent from one device to another — came from. But, as one police officer put it, it was a key that could unlock millions of doors.

Government lawyers spent almost two years fighting in a Montreal courtroom to keep this information out of the public record.

And while neither the RCMP nor BlackBerry confirmed that the cellphone manufacturer handed over the global encryption key, and both fought against a judge’s order to release more information about their working relationship, the Crown prosecutors admitted that the federal police service had access to the key.

This is why more recent messaging protocols, like iMessage and WhatsApp, are designed without a “golden key”.

Motor Trend Speculates on the Apple Car 

I almost didn’t link to this because it’s such gratuitous clickbait (“Exclusive!”), but it’s so terrible it’s worth it just for the laughs.

Update: Harry McCracken on Twitter:

$5 says Motor Trend’s visualizations of Apple’s car are on par w/pre-2007 iPhone renderings.

73 

Fun piece by Charles Bethea for both math and basketball nerds: “Golden State and the Mathematical Magic of Seventy-Three”.

(Via the excellent new The New Yorker Today app.)

GoPro Hires Apple Designer Daniel Coster; Shares Jump 

Fred Imbert, CNBC:

GoPro is having a good day. The wearable camera maker’s stock surged more than 19 percent Wednesday and the company announced it hired Daniel Coster away from Apple as vice president of design.

Coster was a core member of Apple’s industrial design team for more than 20 years and is credited with contributing to devices such as iPhone 4 and iPad wireless keyboard, the company said in a statement.

Remarkable that the hiring of a single designer could have an effect like this, even if it’s just a temporary stock price spike.

Coster has his work cut out for him. I bought a GoPro camera last year, and was sorely disappointed by how chintzy it is.

Sprint Calls T-Mobile ‘Ghetto’ in Ad (Now Pulled) 

There’s a saved copy of the ad here, at least for now. When this broke last night, it made me wonder what the people involved think the word ghetto means in this context. Because if they think it means what I (and seemingly many, probably most, other people) do, there’s no way the woman would have even said it off the record, let alone on-camera — and let alone the decision of Sprint to actually publish it and defend it for a few hours.

But damned if I can imagine what they might think it means.

The Talk Show: ‘Option P’ 

Serenity Caldwell returns to the show. Topics include the new 9.7-inch iPad Pro, using an iPad for “work”, podcasting microphones, the damn Siri Remote for the new Apple TV, the Star Wars: Rogue One teaser, and more.

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Bez 1.0 

Wow. Bez is a new vector graphics editor for iPad by developer Mike Swanson of JuicyBits, with great support for the Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil. I’m just blown away by how good this app is. It’s a serious, professional-quality design tool. Fascinating to me, too, as a long-time Mac UI nerd, at how “pro” style iOS apps are evolving.

It’s a free download with just about everything enabled, and a single $8 in-app purchase unlocks the rest. Just remarkable. I even love the name.

Glenn Fleishman on TextExpander 6 

Glenn Fleishman, writing at Macworld:

Scown says Smile stores snippets at rest in unencrypted form on database servers operated by Compose.io, an IBM company. The company evaluated using solutions in which data is always encrypted except during the moments items are needed for syncing or updating, and found the other security elements — such as how passwords were restricted — were lacking in its evaluation.

There’s a difference between unencrypted and insecure, and it’s not de facto unsafe that Smile has made this choice. An attacker has to defeat multiple lines of defense to obtain the raw data — like two-factor authentication — and the raw data in snippets isn’t likely to be as valuable (and thus it’s much less likely to be a target) as, say, information stored by a password-syncing company like AgileBits or LastPass. Data encrypted “at rest” is yet another bar an attacker has to pass, but it’s not insuperable, either.

However, I believe Smile’s approach is naive given the current security climate.

This is my primary concern about TextExpander 6. I see some amount of risk, and no benefit, with storing my text snippets on Smile’s servers.

Smile Adjusts TextExpander Pricing 

Greg Scown from Smile:

We will apply a lifetime discount of 50% off the Life Hacker pricing to customers of any past version of TextExpander. That amounts to just US $20 per year. In our initial rollout, we offered the discount for the first year only, and that was a mistake. We value our long-term customers, and it’s important for us to demonstrate that in our actions. Thanks for bearing with us as we sorted this out.

(To those who’ve already purchased an annual upgrade plan, we’ll apply two months of credit to make up the difference. Please give us a few days for this to be reflected in your account.)

Some people just don’t like subscription pricing, so no adjustment on the price will make everyone happy. But $20 per year feels much more in line with TextExpander’s scope. Kudos to Smile for addressing this — I’m sure it’s been a rough week for them.

We will continue to sell and support TextExpander 5 for OS X and TextExpander 3 + Custom Keyboard for iOS for those who need it. Some of you can only use Dropbox and/or iCloud at work. Some of you cannot or will not purchase subscription software. You’ve told us that it’s important to serve you in this way, and so we shall.

This seems untenable in the long run. How long are they going to keep developing TextExpander 5 in parallel with 6? It’s hard enough to keep one version of an app up to date, let alone two. And TextExpander 5 won’t be generating any revenue. Plus, these sorts of system-wide utility apps often need significant work when major new versions of MacOS ship.

Sean Malto Skateboard Documentary Shot on iPhone 

Some truly gorgeous shots, and an interesting behind-the-scenes video too.

Lytro’s 755 Megapixel Cinema Light Field Camera 

Lucas Matney, writing for TechCrunch:

Today, the company introduced Lytro Cinema, which is the company’s effort to woo those in the television and film industries with cool camera technology that makes their jobs easier.

The Lytro Cinema camera gathers a truly staggering amount of information on the world around it. The 755 RAW megapixel 40K resolution, 300 FPS camera takes in as much as 400 gigabytes per second of data.

Amazing technology.

‘Finally’ of the Week 

The Next Web headline: “SpaceX Finally Lands Its Rocket on a Drone Ship After Delivering Bouncy Castle for ISS”.

If the finally in that headline doesn’t make your eyes roll, your eyes aren’t hooked up right.

The Largest Ever Analysis of Film Dialog by Gender: 2,000 Scripts, 25,000 Actors, 4 Million Lines 

Fascinating research and data visualizations by Hanah Anderson and Matt Daniels, for Polygraph:

But it’s all rhetoric and no data, which gets us nowhere in terms of having an informed discussion. How many movies are actually about men? What changes by genre, era, or box-office revenue? What circumstances generate more diversity?

To begin answering these questions, we Googled our way to 8,000 screenplays and matched each character’s lines to an actor. From there, we compiled the number of words spoken by male and female characters across roughly 2,000 films, arguably the largest undertaking of script analysis, ever.

Internet Mapping Turned a Remote Kansas Farm Into a Digital Hell 

Kashmir Hill, reporting for Fusion:

For the last decade, Taylor and her renters have been visited by all kinds of mysterious trouble. They’ve been accused of being identity thieves, spammers, scammers and fraudsters. They’ve gotten visited by FBI agents, federal marshals, IRS collectors, ambulances searching for suicidal veterans, and police officers searching for runaway children. They’ve found people scrounging around in their barn. The renters have been doxxed, their names and addresses posted on the internet by vigilantes. Once, someone left a broken toilet in the driveway as a strange, indefinite threat.

All in all, the residents of the Taylor property have been treated like criminals for a decade. And until I called them this week, they had no idea why.

If this sounds reminiscent of the story about the house in Atlanta that keeps getting reported as the location of missing cell phones, that’s because Hill was the reporter on that story too.

Macminicolo’s Impossible Promo 

My thanks to Macminicolo for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote their “Impossible Promo”. They’re celebrating their recent merger with MacStadium with a promotion that gives you everything you need, including the server itself, at an extremely discounted price. That’s right — you don’t have to buy your own Mac Mini, they’ll let you use one of theirs for as long as you host with them. This is the sort of deal Macminicolo couldn’t offer previously.

Macminicolo is a great company and a long-time sponsor of DF. I really do think this move is going to make them even better. Find out more about Mac hosting and The Impossible Promo.

The Macs Apple Was Selling in 1996 

Riccardo Mori:

In recent times I have often seen mentioned a specific moment in Apple’s history — when Steve Jobs came back in 1997 and started streamlining the Macintosh product line as part of the plan to save the company from bankruptcy. This bit tends to surface every time Apple introduces new hardware; there’s always someone pointing out how today’s Apple is slowly reverting to the chaotic product line the company had around 1996, before being simplified by Steve Jobs. […]

Anyway, I thought it would be interesting to offer an overview of the Macintosh models Apple was selling in 1996 and make a few related observations. In a nutshell: there was some level of organisation in what many have called the chaos of Macs available back then, and despite the long list of Mac models, the families and form factors were just a few; one of the main causes that generated confusion in the Macintosh product line was the frequent rebranding, and the progressive meaninglessness of the Performa line as the consumer choice versus the Power Macintosh as synonymous of ‘Pro’ machine.

What a mess. That product lineup was even more confusing than I remembered it being.

The Trouble With 3D Touch 

Jason Snell, writing at Macworld:

Although Apple’s proud of the peek/pop interface that it unveiled with the iPhone 6s, I’m skeptical of its utility. Most of the time, when I accidentally initiate a “peek” of the content behind whatever I’m pressing on, it’s content I was already trying to see by tapping. Loading a “peek” doesn’t really take any more time than actually tapping on an item and loading the result, and returning back to the previous screen seems a lot less work than holding your finger on the glass while you peruse a “peek” to see if it’s worth opening the rest of the way.

In other words, most of the time I don’t see any benefit to using 3D Touch to reveal content in apps over just tapping to reveal that content the usual way. It’s a solution to a problem we didn’t have. And this says a lot about the problem with the way Apple has deployed 3D Touch in iOS.

The gimmicky nature of peek/pop is alarming. I never got into “peeking” while using my 6S — like Jason argues, it solves a problem we didn’t have. It’s not any faster than just tapping whatever it is you want to see, and worse, it’s harder to read because your thumb is still there covering the display. It’s a demo feature, not a real feature, and I find that deeply worrisome.

Snell:

That’s why the right thing for Apple to do is to change the behavior of 3D Touch in a future version of iOS so that it has a non–3D-Touch equivalent. In other words, 3D Touch should just be a faster, more efficient version of a gesture that every iOS user can perform. That way, users of devices with 3D Touch will get a benefit, but app developers don’t have to think about implementing a feature that won’t work with most devices.

The logical gesture to use is the long press, a gesture that’s common on Android but used a lot less frequently on iOS.

I couldn’t agree more. A force touch should just be a shortcut to a long press. In fact, a few weeks ago, I got confused while using the system’s Weather app. I wanted to reorder my list of saved cities. It took me around 45 seconds to figure out how to do it. My first few attempts were by force tapping the city I wanted to move. But this just opened a peek. Then I tried looking around for an “Edit” button, but there isn’t one. I started to wonder whether the list was not re-orderable. Then it finally occurred to me to long-press on a city. My natural instinct was to do that by force tapping.

Also worth noting: after two and a half weeks using an iPhone SE, I don’t miss 3D Touch at all. (Update: I do miss forcing tapping the keyboard to move the insertion point around. That’s a clever idea.)

Bruce Springsteen Cancels North Carolina Show Over North Carolina ‘Bathroom’ Law 

Bruce Springsteen:

Right now, there are many groups, businesses, and individuals in North Carolina working to oppose and overcome these negative developments. Taking all of this into account, I feel that this is a time for me and the band to show solidarity for those freedom fighters. As a result, and with deepest apologies to our dedicated fans in Greensboro, we have canceled our show scheduled for Sunday, April 10th. Some things are more important than a rock show and this fight against prejudice and bigotry — which is happening as I write — is one of them.

Good for him.

The Senate’s Draft Encryption Bill Is ‘Ludicrous, Dangerous, Technically Illiterate’ 

Andy Greenberg, reporting for Wired:

On Thursday evening, the draft text of a bill called the “Compliance with Court Orders Act of 2016,” authored by offices of Senators Diane Feinstein and Richard Burr, was published online by the Hill. It’s a nine-page piece of legislation that would require people to comply with any authorized court order for data — and if that data is “unintelligible,” the legislation would demand that it be rendered “intelligible.” In other words, the bill would make illegal the sort of user-controlled encryption that’s in every modern iPhone, in all billion devices that run Whatsapp’s messaging service, and in dozens of other tech products. “This basically outlaws end-to-end encryption,” says Joseph Lorenzo Hall, chief technologist at the Center for Democracy and Technology. “It’s effectively the most anti-crypto bill of all anti-crypto bills.”

Kevin Bankston, the director of the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute, goes even further: “I gotta say in my nearly 20 years of work in tech policy this is easily the most ludicrous, dangerous, technically illiterate proposal I’ve ever seen,” he says.

The good news:

The Burr/Feinstein draft text may in fact be so bad for privacy that it’s good for privacy: Privacy advocates point out that it has almost zero likelihood of making it into law in its current form. The White House has already declined to publicly support the bill. And Adam Schiff, the top Democratic congressman on the House of Representatives’ intelligence committee, gave WIRED a similarly ambivalent comment on the upcoming legislation yesterday.

The Voyeur’s Motel 

This story by Gay Talese — 84 years old and still killing it — is one of the most arresting things I’ve read all year.

I know a married man and father of two who bought a twenty-one-room motel near Denver many years ago in order to become its resident voyeur. With the assistance of his wife, he cut rectangular holes measuring six by fourteen inches in the ceilings of more than a dozen rooms. Then he covered the openings with louvred aluminum screens that looked like ventilation grilles but were actually observation vents that allowed him, while he knelt in the attic, to see his guests in the rooms below. He watched them for decades, while keeping an exhaustive written record of what he saw and heard. Never once, during all those years, was he caught.

Activity++ 

Speaking of David Smith, his new Activity++ app just shipped. Includes a Watch complication that, hallelujah, is always in monochrome. I’d pay $3 for that alone.

A Nerd’s Review of the Tesla Model S 

Speaking of Tesla, I really enjoyed David Smith’s review of his Model S:

The only real analogy I can think of to describe how different this feels is to compare it to SSD hard-drives. SSD hard drives when they came out were ‘worse’ than traditional spinning disks in a wide variety of ways. They were smaller capacity, sometimes had lower maximum throughput and were considerably more expensive. But, from the moment you first used one it completely ruined computers for you. Going back to spinning disks once you have tasted instantaneous delivery feels broken.

It is the same with driving a Tesla. There is essentially no latency in your driving interaction with the car. I’ve often heard car fanatics (especially those who love manual transmissions) describe the feeling of being ‘connected’ to their car as they drive it. That their desire and the car’s ability to deliver it become closely and completely linked. Tesla delivers that experience but without all the training and skill needed to dance with a transmission.

‘It’s a Tesla’ 

Ben Thompson:

With that out of the way, can we marvel at what Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk has accomplished? Nearly 300,000 people have willingly parted with $1,000 despite the fact they will not have a chance to purchase a car for years; an astounding 115,000 of them sent in their deposit before they even knew what the car looked like. A friend got in line to make his reservation at 6:45am and there were 123 people in front of him. This is, no matter how you measure it, a phenomenon that is nearly unprecedented; the only possible comparison is Apple and its iPhone. […]

The real payoff of Musk’s “Master Plan” is the fact that Tesla means something: yes, it stands for sustainability and caring for the environment, but more important is that Tesla also means amazing performance and Silicon Valley cool. To be sure, Tesla’s focus on the high end has helped them move down the cost curve, but it was Musk’s insistence on making “An electric car without compromises” that ultimately led to 276,000 people reserving a Model 3, many without even seeing the car: after all, it’s a Tesla.

My favorite take on the Tesla Model 3 announcement. I’m not sure how you can not make a comparison to Apple.

Michael Tsai on TextExpander 6 and Subscription Pricing 

Michael Tsai:

You can debate whether the app is worth it, but the bottom line is that the price increase is huge in percentage terms. TextExpander 4 was $35 in 2012, and there was a $20 update for TextExpander 5 in May of 2015, about three years later. Now, after less than a year, the price for a yearly subscription is $47.52. (There is a one-time, one-year 50% discount for previous customers.) So the price for three years has gone from $20 to $142.56. I have paid for a lot of apps recently, and the only ones that are in that price range are Microsoft Office, Adobe Lightroom, and TurboTax. TextExpander is a great app, but it just doesn’t feel like it’s in that league.

With Microsoft and Adobe, it takes multiple years of subscription payments to equal the previous single payment. So it was more a change in payment model than an increase in price. And the subscription offered the benefit of never having to suddenly make a large payment.

I’ve been loath to pile on here, because I try to be outspoken in favor of sustainable app pricing, especially for utility apps. But TextExpander was already well-priced. Tsai has (as usual) an incredible collection of links to commentary on this story, and there’s near-unanimous agreement that Smile is charging too much for an upgrade that to many users only takes away useful features (Dropbox and iCloud syncing).

Twitter Beats Amazon, Verizon for Global NFL Streaming Deal 

Peter Kafka, writing for Recode:

While the NFL and Twitter haven’t disclosed the price for the package, people familiar with the bidding said Twitter paid less than $10 million for the entire 10-game package, while rival bids topped $15 million. Those numbers are a fraction of the $450 million CBS and NBC collectively paid for the rights to broadcast the Thursday games.

I think the NFL chose Twitter because Twitter is the platform for live commentary on sports. My Twitter feed was nuts — and a lot of fun — during Monday’s NCAA men’s championship game.

iPhone SE Availability Tightening Online and at Apple Stores 

Three weeks delivery time for most configurations.

Macminicolo Merges With MacStadium 

Big news from Brian Stucki, founder of Macminicolo:

In short, I’ve decided to sell ownership of Macminicolo and merge it with another company. I will stay on as President of Macminicolo and also serve as a Vice President of the parent company, MacStadium.

Now, I could just announce this with no explanation and be done with it . I could also write one of those generic acquisition posts focused on sunsets and brands and blah. Instead, I’ll be forthright and real like I’ve always tried to be with customers.

Macminicolo is one of my favorite companies. Yes, they’re a longtime sponsor, but I’ve used their services personally and recommend them wholeheartedly. And Brian is the guy behind Fireballed.org, which attempts to cache all sites linked from DF.

The Loop Magazine App Is Dead 

Jim Dalrymple:

It is with tremendous sadness that I write this post today. I have tried to figure out a way for The Loop Magazine app to work on the App Store, for the last few months. It turns out, it just won’t. This morning, I removed the app from the App Store.

Wasn’t meant to be.

TJ Luoma on TextExpander 6’s Subscription Pricing 

TJ Luoma, on Smile shipping the newest version of TextExpander as a $45/year subscription service:

To be clear, I’m not saying that the Smile folks are bad, evil, mean, money-grubbers or anything like that. What I am saying is this: as an experienced power-user of your software, I do not have the slightest clue why you decided to make this service mandatory when it seems to offer very little for individual users, and I have no idea why I should pay a monthly fee for something that has worked fine before. What problem does TextExpander 6 solve for me?

I can’t answer that question.

And if I can’t answer that question, Smile has a big problem.

Subscription pricing makes sense, but I do think $45/year is a bit high.

Update: Joe Cieplinski has a good take, too.

WhatsApp Enables End-to-End Encryption 

WhatsApp co-founders Jan Koum and Brian Acton:

From now on when you and your contacts use the latest version of the app, every call you make, and every message, photo, video, file, and voice message you send, is end-to-end encrypted by default, including group chats.

The idea is simple: when you send a message, the only person who can read it is the person or group chat that you send that message to. No one can see inside that message. Not cybercriminals. Not hackers. Not oppressive regimes. Not even us. End-to-end encryption helps make communication via WhatsApp private — sort of like a face-to-face conversation.

If you’re interested in learning more about how end-to-end encryption works, you can read about it here. But all you need to know is that end-to-end encrypted messages can only be read by the recipients you intend. And if you’re using the latest version of WhatsApp, you don’t have to do a thing to encrypt your messages: end-to-end encryption is on by default and all the time.

Wired has a good story on this, but with a headline that makes it sound like they were trying to hit their quota of Apple-related stories: “Forget Apple vs. the FBI: WhatsApp Just Switched on Encryption for a Billion People”. WhatsApp’s use of end-to-end encryption doesn’t have anything to do with Apple — and the last thing anyone who cares about encryption and private communication should do is “forget” about Apple and the FBI. So strange.

Daring Fireball RSS Feed Sponsorship Openings 

The DF RSS feed sponsorship schedule is booked through mid-May, but due to a scheduling error by yours truly, this week’s spot is open. If you’ve got a product or service you’d like to promote to DF’s savvy audience, get in touch.

Update: This week’s spot has been sold.

Longtime Apple Software Engineer Francois Jouaux Killed in Car Crash 

Heartbreaking news:

Francois Jouaux played just as hard as he worked, according to his family.

On Sunday, the longtime Apple software engineer was returning home from kitesurfing at Waddell Beach in Davenport when a suspected drunken driver crossed the double-yellow line on La Honda Road and hit him head-on. Jouaux, 46, of Woodside, died at the scene.

There is a fundraising campaign for Jouaux’s family — would love to see the DF audience give it a bump.

Inside the Unorthodox Donald Trump Campaign 

Fascinating look inside Trump’s campaign by Gabriel Sherman for New York Magazine:

It was also thanks to some information he had gathered that Trump was able to do something that no other Republican has done before: take on Fox News. An odd bit of coincidence had given him a card to play against Fox founder Roger Ailes. In 2014, I published a biography of Ailes, which upset the famously paranoid executive. Several months before it landed in stores, Ailes fired his longtime PR adviser Brian Lewis, accusing him of being a source. During Lewis’s severance negotiations, Lewis hired Judd Burstein, a powerhouse litigator, and claimed he had “bombs” that would destroy Ailes and Fox News. That’s when Trump got involved.

“When Roger was having problems, he didn’t call 97 people, he called me,” Trump said. Burstein, it turned out, had worked for Trump briefly in the ’90s, and Ailes asked Trump to mediate. Trump ran the negotiations out of his office at Trump Tower. “Roger had lawyers, very expensive lawyers, and they couldn’t do anything. I solved the problem.” Fox paid Lewis millions to go away quietly, and Trump, I’m told, learned everything Lewis had planned to leak. If Ailes ever truly went to war against Trump, Trump would have the arsenal to launch a retaliatory strike.

Nest to Shut Down Revolv Home Automation Hubs 

Rob Price, Business Insider:

Just over a month ago, Revolv updated its website to announce that it is closing down completely, pulling the plug on its existing products in May. “We’re pouring all our energy into Works with Nest and are incredibly excited about what we’re making,” wrote Revolv founders Tim Enwall and Mike Soucie. “Unfortunately, that means we can’t allocate resources to Revolv anymore and we have to shut down the service.”

Shutting down Revolv does not mean that Nest is ceasing to support its products, leaving them vulnerable to bugs and other unpatched issues. It means that the $300 devices and accompanying apps will stop working completely.

Seems like a good way to create angry former customers.

‘Superman’ Director Richard Donner Tells the Inside Story of the 1978 Superhero Movie 

Stephen Galloway interviews Superman director Richard Donner for The Hollywood Reporter:

I called [writer] Tom Mankiewicz, who had been a friend for years. He said, “I don’t want to get involved. I don’t want to do a comic book.” I said, “Tom it’s more than a comic book. Please come over.”

I got a little stoned, smoked some weed, put on the Superman costume. I was in pretty good shape then. It was like elastic. And Tom pulled up, and I ran across the lawn and Tom turned and looked at me and ran back to his car.

Tom says, “You’re crazy. Get the fuck away from me!” I said, “Tom, listen. You’ve got to read this.” I gave him all my feelings about what we should do. I said, “The most important thing when you look at it is this: Make a love story. And prove a man can fly.” So he read it and he called me that night and said, “You know, there’s a lot we can do with this.”

Igloo 

My thanks to Igloo for once again sponsoring the DF RSS feed. Igloo is a modern intranet — one that you’ll actually like. With so many ways for teams to collaborate today — chat apps, shared file servers, email, etc. — it’s easy for things to get fragmented and overwhelming.

That’s why you should try Igloo. It combines department spaces, team calendars, corporate file sharing, internal communications capabilities, social features, and plenty more. It’s easy to get started, easy to customize, and most importantly, easy to use. Try Igloo today — you can get a free trial with no credit card required.

‘I Can See the Wind, Feel the Flowers’ 

Dillan’s Voice — wonderful two-minute film about teenager Dillan Barmache, who is autistic and non-verbal, and who uses his iPad to express himself.

40 Years Later: Apple 3.0 

Nice piece by Jean-Louis Gassée on Apple’s 40th anniversary.

Bloomberg Identifies FBI’s iPhone-Cracking Partner: Cellebrite 

Yaacov Benmeleh, reporting for Bloomberg:

The FBI was already a Cellebrite client before this project, the people said, who asked not to be identified as the matter is private. Cellebrite, founded in 1999, is a unit of Japan’s Sun Corporation. Sun Corp.’s shares are up almost 40 percent since March 21 when U.S. authorities said a third party had demonstrated a way to get into the iPhone.

Interesting that their share price would move so much on this.

Apple Flies Original Mac Team’s Pirate Flag for Company’s 40th Anniversary 

Apple Insider:

The flag resembles a stereotypical pirate flag, with the notable difference of a rainbow Apple “eyepatch”. It was originally hoisted by the Mac team in 1983, sewn together by programmer Steve Capps with an emblem painted by graphic designer Susan Kare.

The gesture was a reference to a quote by Jobs, “It’s better to be a pirate than join the navy,” and also marked the Mac team’s arrival in a new office building.

Update: Andy Hertzfeld on the story behind the flag.

Google Takes Internet Jackass Day to New Low With Gmail ‘Mic Drop’ Button 

You would think that the people who run Gmail understand that you can’t fuck around with people’s email. A terrible idea poorly executed. Exemplifies everything that’s wrong with Google’s company culture — they are institutionally socially inept.

Harry McCracken:

I am NEVER going to get in a Google self-driving car on April Fools’ Day.

Tesla Unveils Model 3 

A few notes and observations:

  • This car looks impressive, and with a starting price of just $35,000, it’s built to sell. As Musk explains on stage, this is the car they’ve been working toward — one for the mass market.
  • Tesla really has a great story.
  • “At Tesla we don’t make slow cars” — great line from Musk, on the quality of the baseline model.
  • At just 22 minutes, the event was wonderfully succinct. If you haven’t watched the whole event, I recommend it.
  • I thought Musk was a little under-rehearsed.
  • The crowd enthusiasm was palpable. Tesla took over 115,000 pre-orders before anyone had even seen the car. That is trust — and rather incredible for a car that they don’t intend to ship until the end of next year.
  • I think the car looks a little weird from the front, because it lacks a grill. But perhaps that’s just skating to where the puck is going to be in the EV world.

Extremely impressive overall. Tesla has a lot to do between now and putting hundreds of thousands of these Model 3s on the road, but it certainly looks like they’re building something amazing.

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