Linked List: August 2016

Tim Cook on the European Commission’s Tax Ruling 

Tim Cook:

The European Commission has launched an effort to rewrite Apple’s history in Europe, ignore Ireland’s tax laws and upend the international tax system in the process. The opinion issued on August 30th alleges that Ireland gave Apple a special deal on our taxes. This claim has no basis in fact or in law. We never asked for, nor did we receive, any special deals. We now find ourselves in the unusual position of being ordered to retroactively pay additional taxes to a government that says we don’t owe them any more than we’ve already paid.

The Commission’s move is unprecedented and it has serious, wide-reaching implications. It is effectively proposing to replace Irish tax laws with a view of what the Commission thinks the law should have been. This would strike a devastating blow to the sovereignty of EU member states over their own tax matters, and to the principle of certainty of law in Europe. Ireland has said they plan to appeal the Commission’s ruling and Apple will do the same. We are confident that the Commission’s order will be reversed.

I’m with Cook on this one. It’s about what the Commission (and many observers) think the tax law should have been, not what it actually was. It’s telling that Ireland is objecting just as strenuously as Apple.

Also: 13 billion euros isn’t all that much to Apple.

European Commission: ‘Ireland Gave Illegal Tax Benefits to Apple Worth Up to €13 Billion’ 

The European Commission:

Following an in-depth state aid investigation launched in June 2014, the European Commission has concluded that two tax rulings issued by Ireland to Apple have substantially and artificially lowered the tax paid by Apple in Ireland since 1991. The rulings endorsed a way to establish the taxable profits for two Irish incorporated companies of the Apple group (Apple Sales International and Apple Operations Europe), which did not correspond to economic reality: almost all sales profits recorded by the two companies were internally attributed to a “head office”. The Commission’s assessment showed that these “head offices” existed only on paper and could not have generated such profits. These profits allocated to the “head offices” were not subject to tax in any country under specific provisions of the Irish tax law, which are no longer in force. As a result of the allocation method endorsed in the tax rulings, Apple only paid an effective corporate tax rate that declined from 1% in 2003 to 0.005% in 2014 on the profits of Apple Sales International.

Hackers Stole 68 Million Dropbox Passwords in 2012 Attack 

Joseph Cox, reporting for Motherboard:

Hackers have stolen over 60 million account details for online cloud storage platform Dropbox. Although the accounts were stolen during a previously disclosed breach, and Dropbox says it has already forced password resets, it was not known how many users had been affected, and only now is the true extent of the hack coming to light.

Motherboard obtained a selection of files containing email addresses and hashed passwords for the Dropbox users through sources in the database trading community. In all, the four files total in at around 5GB, and contain details on 68,680,741 accounts. The data is legitimate, according to a senior Dropbox employee.

Two things: First, Dropbox is supposedly good at this stuff. If a company that is good at large-scale cloud computing can get hacked and lose 68 million passwords, imagine how hard this stuff is. Second, Dropbox severely underplayed how bad this attack was. That’s shameful.

The Mac: If Not September 7, Then When? 

Jason Snell on what Apple might do if new Mac hardware is imminent but not part of next week’s event.

Daring Fireball RSS Feed Sponsorship Fall Openings 

Next week is taken, but other than that the next month or so is wide open on the DF RSS feed sponsorship schedule. That includes this current week (which is showing higher than usual traffic, thanks to next week’s Apple event). If you’ve got a product or service you want to promote to DF’s savvy audience, get in touch.

Vesper Sync Shutdown Tonight, Open Source Plans 

Brent Simmons:

  • Data is stored on your device. The app will continue to work even without syncing. You can continue to use the app.

  • You can still export your data. As many times as you want. The Export feature works with the data on your device — it has nothing to do with syncing.

  • We plan to remove the app from the App Store Sept. 15, but you can continue to use the app even after that. The Export feature will continue to work after that.

And:

We will make Vesper for iOS, Vesper for Mac, and Vesper’s JavaScript sync service open source on my personal GitHub account. This code will also be provided as historical artifacts: they’re not intended as active projects. They’re also not intended as examples of how to write apps these days.

Bragi Hits the Panic Button 

Chance Miller, writing for 9to5Mac:

Earlier today, Apple officially sent invites to its iPhone 7 announcement event that will be held next week on September 7th. Shortly after Apple’s announcement, wireless headphone company Bragi announced that it has its own big news coming next week, lending some to believe that Apple might be in the picture…

Bragi today revealed that it has a “big announcement” coming next week on September 5th, just two days before the Apple event. What has really made people speculate, however, is the fact the announcement will occur out of Cupertino, which is also where Apple’s headquarters are located.

That’s stupid. If Bragi had a deal of any sort with Apple, they’d be keeping their mouths shut. And they certainly wouldn’t be announcing anything two days before Apple’s event. And why would Apple need anything from Bragi? Apple just bought a much bigger name in headphones. And why in the world would Bragi schedule an announcement of any sort on Labor Day, a major U.S. holiday?

Here’s what makes sense: Bragi has caught wind of Apple’s imminent wireless AirPods. They’re just like what Gurman reported eight months ago: no-cable ear plugs that come with a smart case for transport and charging. Bragi is trying to jump in front of Apple’s announcement, but the fact that they’re making the announcement in Cupertino on Labor Day makes them look panicked.

Gurman Says No Mac Announcements Next Week 

Mark Gurman and Jungah Lee, reporting for Bloomberg:

Apple is holding an event on Sept. 7 in San Francisco. The keynote will focus on upgraded versions of the iPhone, a new Apple Watch with GPS tracking and new health features, and an iOS 10 software update for iPhones and iPads, according to people familiar with the matter. The new Macs are currently expected to be announced at a later date, the people said.

I’m hearing rumblings that review units will be very limited this year.

While the new iPad features aren’t expected until next year, Apple is planning to release some of the new Mac products as soon as October, according to the people. The updated line includes tweaked MacBook Air devices with multi-functional USB-C port technology and iMacs with an option for new graphics chips from Advanced Micro Devices Inc.

An update to the MacBook Air of any sort is a bit of a surprise to me. I really thought the Air was sunsetted.

Wired: ‘How to Digitally Erase All Your Stuff When You Quit Your Job’ 

The article is kind of blah — I’ll bet most DF readers know this stuff already. But the comments from stick-up-the-ass IT professionals are solid gold.

Apple Event: Wednesday September 7 

Jim Dalrymple:

Apple on Monday send out an invitation for a special event to be held on September 7 at 10:00 am. This year’s event will be held at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco, California.

I made a lucky guess.

The visual style of the invitation strongly suggests bokeh, giving credence to what I first heard two years ago: that Apple is shooting for SLR-quality imaging in the iPhone cameras (or at least, alas, the Plus model).

Dalrymple:

There has been speculation that new Macs will also be announced at this event, but I don’t think so. I’ve previously outlined my reasoning for thinking the company will not introduce Macs in September.

Only a fool bets against Dalrymple, so I won’t. It makes sense to me, however, that Apple would announce new Macs alongside the new iPhones. The iPhones are already sharing the stage with the new Apple Watch 2 models, and I got the feeling last year that Apple very much wanted to stick with just one fall event. If Dalrymple is right, though, I would guess the new Macs will be introduced in October — not with an event, but with small-scale private media briefings.

The Verge: ‘Facebook Removes Fake Article About Megyn Kelly From Trending Topics’ 

This headline is charitable at best — the real headline should be “Facebook fires human curators, false headline immediately goes viral”.

Update: Ars Technica nails it: “Facebook Fires Human Editors, Algorithm Immediately Posts Fake News”.

The Talk Show: ‘I Do Feel the Pea’ 

New episode of my podcast, The Talk Show, with special guest Guy English. Topics include Tim Cook’s five year anniversary as Apple CEO, Steven Levy’s behind-the-scenes look at Apple’s AI and machine learning efforts, Apple’s decision to change the pistol emoji from a realistic revolver to a toy squirt gun, and the demise of Vesper. Also: our favorite Looney Tunes characters.

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  • Fracture: Your pictures, printed directly on glass.
On Beta Testing 

Brent Simmons:

This style of beta testing isn’t something I just accidentally fell into. It came from the mid-’90s. UserLand had just released Frontier’s free “Aretha” version, and there was a mailing list for people using Aretha.

I’d never been a part of anything like that. There were all these people talking about everything about the app. It was collegial and interesting and fun — and Dave Winer, the developer, was so open about everything, and he listened. It seemed like a miracle to me that such a thing could exist. I loved it. I’d been waiting all my life for such a thing, for a community like this.

I threw myself into it, then ended up working with Dave informally on some small projects, and later took a job at UserLand (which was my dream job, for sure). […]

It might seem funny to think of beta lists as having children and grandchildren, but the NetNewsWire list was very much the child of the Frontier list, and the Glassboard and Vesper lists were the grandchildren.

The best beta group I’ve ever been a part of is BBEdit’s. I got invited in the late 90’s after having sent a series of bug reports and feature requests. I’ve been on it ever since. If Frontier’s beta testing mailing list is one of Vesper’s grandparents, BBEdit’s is another. Even better, it’s one that’s still thriving.

University of Chicago Strikes Back Against Campus Political Correctness 

Richard Pérez-Peña, Mitch Smith, and Stephanie Saul, reporting for the NYT:

The anodyne welcome letter to incoming freshmen is a college staple, but this week the University of Chicago took a different approach: It sent new students a blunt statement opposing some hallmarks of campus political correctness, drawing thousands of impassioned responses, for and against, as it caromed around cyberspace.

“Our commitment to academic freedom means that we do not support so-called trigger warnings, we do not cancel invited speakers because their topics might prove controversial, and we do not condone the creation of intellectual ‘safe spaces’ where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own,” John Ellison, dean of students, wrote to members of the class of 2020, who will arrive next month.

Good for them.

Unique ‘Celebration’ Apple I Sells for $815,000 

Apple hardware is overpriced.

Spotify Is Burying Musicians With Apple Music Exclusives 

Lucas Shaw and Adam Satariano, reporting for Bloomberg:

Spotify has been retaliating against musicians who introduce new material exclusively on rival Apple Music by making their songs harder to find, according to people familiar with the strategy. Artists who have given Apple exclusive access to new music have been told they won’t be able to get their tracks on featured playlists once the songs become available on Spotify, said the people, who declined to be identified discussing the steps. Those artists have also found their songs buried in the search rankings of Spotify, the world’s largest music-streaming service, the people said. Spotify said it doesn’t alter search rankings.

Hardball.

Update: Spotify is not diddling with search results. Promotion, yes. Search, no.

Frank Ocean’s ‘Blonde’ Amplifies Discord in the Music Business 

Ben Sisario, reporting for the NYT:

Despite its idiosyncratic format, “Endless” — one long streaming film, whose songs (different from those on “Blonde”) were not available separately — fulfilled Mr. Ocean’s contractual obligations to Def Jam, enabling him to release “Blonde” through Apple without any involvement from the label, according to three people with knowledge of Mr. Ocean’s deal who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss it publicly. The financial arrangement between Mr. Ocean and Apple is not known. Apple, Def Jam and a representative for Mr. Ocean’s managers all declined to comment.

Record labels, more and more, are unnecessary middlemen, especially for well-known acts.

Nikkei Asian Review: ‘Intel Aims to Challenge TSMC Over Apple Chip Orders by 2018’ 

Cheng Ting-Fang, reporting for Nikkei Asian Review:

Intel’s recent pledge to expand its business making chips for others highlights its ambition to snatch chip orders for Apple’s popular iPhones from Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. as early as 2018, industry experts said.

Intel, the world’s largest chipmaker by revenue, announced earlier this month that it will license technology from British mobile chip designer ARM with the aim of securing more business from smartphone companies. LG Electronics will become the first smartphone company to adopt Intel chips following the ARM deal.

Would be a crazy story if Apple switched from Intel to AMD for x86 CPUs for the Mac, but switched to Intel for CPUs for iOS.

(Via MacRumors.)

Intriguing Rumor: ‘Apple Could Use Custom x86 SoC Made by AMD’ 

Gian Maria Forni, writing for Bits n Chips, back in October:

According to our sources, Apple is pondering about using custom x86 CPUs in its next iMacs and MacBooks, during 2017-2018. Nowadays it’s hard to avoid the use of x86 ISA in high end and professional personal computers, but at the same time Intel CPUs are too expensive if we compare these with ARM SoCs.

So, Apple’s target is to realize a complete x86 custom SoC family, like Sony and Microsoft did with their consoles. AMD is the perfect partner to do this.

Most of the speculation about Apple taking control of its Mac CPU is about switching the instruction set to ARM. That’s possible, of course, but problematic in many ways. (You wouldn’t be able to use Boot Camp to boot into Windows, for example.) This is just an idle rumor from a year ago, but it’s intriguing to think about Apple designing their own SoCs for Mac with the help of AMD.

Steven Levy, Behind the Scenes on Apple’s AI and Machine Learning 

Lengthy profile on Apple’s AI efforts by Steven Levy, for Backchannel:

Probably the biggest issue in Apple’s adoption of machine learning is how the company can succeed while sticking to its principles on user privacy. The company encrypts user information so that no one, not even Apple’s lawyers, can read it (nor can the FBI, even with a warrant). And it boasts about not collecting user information for advertising purposes.

While admirable from a user perspective, Apple’s rigor on this issue has not been helpful in luring top AI talent to the company. “Machine learning experts, all they want is data,” says a former Apple employee now working for an AI-centric company. “But by its privacy stance, Apple basically puts one hand behind your back. You can argue whether it’s the right thing to do or not, but it’s given Apple a reputation for not being real hardcore AI folks.”

This view is hotly contested by Apple’s executives, who say that it’s possible to get all the data you need for robust machine learning without keeping profiles of users in the cloud or even storing instances of their behavior to train neural nets. “There has been a false narrative, a false trade-off out there,” says Federighi. “It’s great that we would be known as uniquely respecting user’s privacy. But for the sake of users everywhere, we’d like to show the way for the rest of the industry to get on board here.”

This is the crux of the whole piece, to my mind. The AI community is largely focused on privacy-invasive data collection and doing the computation in the cloud. Apple’s approach protects privacy by keeping the data (and performing the computation) on the device.

The other interesting angle in the piece is about most researchers wanting to publish their work, whereas Apple is attracting those who are more interested in the products themselves. But Apple is allowing their researchers on differential privacy to publish their work.

Import Your Vesper Notes Into Ulysses 

Götz Fabian:

A few days ago, the creators of the notes app Vesper announced to end its development and eventually shut down the sync server. Being in this industry ourselves, we can understand that making this move isn’t easy, and we’re sorry for both the developers and the Vesper users who grew fond of the tool. If you’re a Vesper user and considering Ulysses as a future replacement, this post is for you. To ease migrating your notes from Vesper to Ulysses, we’ve created a small tool which lets you do exactly that.

Very cool. It even keeps your tags and photo attachments.

Jonathan Poritsky’s Elegy for Vesper 

Jonathan Poritsky:

But Vesper was innovative in two key ways: tags and photos. No note taking app before or since has treated photos as well. And I can find no replacement for the way it handled tags. […]

The brilliance of Vesper’s photo handling was that it didn’t treat photos as inline elements. They were almost like metadata, an aspect of your note. The photo itself could be the whole note.

When Apple added photos to Notes last year, many said it was the death knell for Vesper. But Notes treats photos differently. They are inline, part of the note. They are not the note itself. For me that’s not as attractive. It adds complexity where I’d rather have none.

He’s got a wonderful story at the end, about a particular note he wrote in Vesper. I don’t want to spoil it.

Blackbox 

Blackbox:

Blackbox is a new shipping company from the creators of Cards Against Humanity.

Our mission is to help you sell and ship stuff directly to your fans for a fraction of the cost and effort of doing it yourself. Blackbox works like a co-op: if we all go in together, we get the cheapest pricing, the fastest shipping, and the best service. The shipping is fast. We pay your sales tax. You can customize the packaging and the inserts. It’s pretty great.

We think the future will favor independent creators selling their own products, without publishers or bloodsucking middlemen taking most of the money. In fact, we’re betting the company on it.

It even has a cool domain name.

The Macaroni in ‘Yankee Doodle’ Is Not What You Think 

Michael Waters, writing for Atlas Obscura on a bit of British pop culture slang from the 1760s.

Yours Truly on Anil Dash’s ‘Pop Life’ Talkshow 

I was this week’s guest on Anil Dash’s Pop Life, on Talkshow. It’s like texting in public. It was fun, and there were some excellent questions from the audience. I tell the story about the first time I met Steve Jobs.

White Sox Change the Name of Their Ballpark to ‘Guaranteed Rate Field’ 

Also, 2017 will officially be the Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment.

Five Years of Tim Cook’s Apple in Charts 

Jan Dawson:

This week marks the fifth anniversary of Tim Cook’s appointment as permanent CEO at Apple — he was appointed CEO on August 24th, 2011. As a result, we’ll no doubt see quite a few retrospectives this week looking back over his time at Apple, and evaluating his tenure. As context for that analysis, I wanted to share some numbers about Apple in the quarter and year before he took over, and compare it with numbers for the quarter and year ending in June of this year. Not all the applicable data sets go back that far — Apple has changed its reporting segments in at least a couple of ways during this five year period, but we’ll mostly try to compare before and after as closely as possible.

Outstanding work. Both the factual comparisons and his analysis. Particularly eye-opening to me is Apple’s increase in R&D spending as a percent of revenue, and the correlating drop in margins. Dawson writes:

That reversed the trend under Steve Jobs, and the increased investment in R&D is roughly equivalent to the drop in margins during this time — Cook has made a massive bet on R&D and by implication on future products.

Mylan’s EpiPen Price Gouging 

Matt Novak, writing for Gizmodo:

EpiPen, the life-saving allergy product, is now a $1 billion a year business for Mylan, a drug company that’s currently enduring a wave of bad publicity over the extraordinary surge in EpiPen pricing. In 2007, an EpiPen cost about $57. Today that price has skyrocketed to over $600 — all for about $1 worth of injectable medicine.

EpiPen is an emergency medication that’s stabbed into a person experiencing anaphylactic shock, a life-threatening allergic reaction that can be triggered by anything from bee stings to food. I’ve never used an EpiPen, but as someone with a peanut allergy who once made his own trip to the ER after a particularly unfortunate restaurant experience (“these Chinese beans sure are crunchy…”) I can tell you that anaphylactic shock is really no fun.

Mylan is able to do this because they have no competitors in the U.S. Not one. If you need an EpiPen, you’re buying theirs. It’s despicable. Long-time DF readers may know that my son has a severe dairy allergy, so we’ve been buying EpiPens for years. Our insurance covers two per year, but after that we’re buying them out of pocket. We’ve never had to use one, knock on wood, but they expire every year, and we need a set for home and a set for school. We can afford it, but many parents can’t.

I don’t know how the executives at Mylan sleep at night.

Pinterest Acquires Instapaper 

Instapaper CEO Brian Donohue, on Hacker News:

Based on the comments I’ve read below the main concerns seem to be that Instapaper will either be shutdown or materially changed in a way that effects the end-user experience. I can tell you that neither of those are the plan for the short-term or long-term of the product, and I am personally looking forward to providing you with the same great service under a new owner.

We’ll see. Pinboard developer Maciej Ceglowski:

The “we sold to Pinterest but nothing is changing” email is Instapaper’s equivalent of reassuring grandma about her move to a nursing home.

Vesper Shutting Down 

Brent Simmons:

I loved working on Vesper. It was one of the great software-making experiences of my life. We’d get on a roll and it was wonderful.

And now it hurts to turn it off, but it’s time.

I’m working on a postmortem — or maybe more of a eulogy — but for now, I can’t express my feelings any better than those two short paragraphs from Brent.

XDA: ‘Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Still Delivers Embarrassing Real-World Performance’ 

Eric Hulse, writing for XDA:

The same lag carries onto scrolling performance in many applications, and infrequently in every application after heavy continuous usage. The phone does not get too hot, mind you, but we do notice that after continuous sessions, it progressively begins misbehaving. Scrolling behavior in particular is behind what you’d expect out of an $850 device, especially after this has been one of Samsung’s weak points for years.

When compared to the OnePlus 3, we find that the Note 7 often neglects using its four cores as opposed to the OnePlus 3, which efficiently mixes up its core utilization when handling the same task. GPU profiling on the Note 7 makes it extremely clear that the phone leaks frames on several actions, even minor animations throughout the UI such as a WiFi network spinning circle animation. In some instances, we found outright damning displays of the Note 7’s occasionally-pitiful fluidity accompanied by the walls of green bars denoting serious difficulties pushing the frames through.

But this is not just a matter of opening or returning to your application sooner than on other devices, Samsung’s software is noticeably slower than that of competing devices in almost every action.

The stock keyboard still sees issues with split-second lockups, and the sharing menu on the Note 7 often leaves you waiting for options to load. The notorious TouchWiz Launcher has earned itself a reputation for slow speed and stutters throughout the years, and while it is not as bad as it used to be, it can still miss clear frames while switching through homescreens, and despite years of integration, Flipboard still remains the most jerky leftmost homescreen panel ever introduced by an OEM.

Weird. The Note 7 scored 9/10 for performance at The Verge.

Galaxy Note 7 vs. iPhone 6S Speed Test 

Hard to say how much of this should be attributed to the A9 SoC (hardware) and how much to iOS (software), but it is impressive that a year-old iPhone blows away a brand-new top-of-the-line Samsung.

10K Apart: What Can You Do With 10 KB? 

My thanks to the Microsoft Edge team for sponsoring last week’s DF RSS feed to promote 10K Apart, a web design contest in which they’re awarding $10,000 in prizes to the most compelling web experiences that can be delivered in just 10 KB. With so much of an emphasis on front-end frameworks and JavaScript runtimes, it’s time to get back to basics — back to optimizing every byte and ensuring your site can work, no matter what. Check out the official rules and enter the contest today.

(Microsoft Edge is the all-new, modern browser for Windows. Check out dev.microsoftedge.com for tools to take the pain out of testing for Windows on your Mac, including free Windows 10 virtual machines, an open roadmap for their web platform, and a new public bug database.)

Apple Drops ‘Store’ From Apple Store Branding 

Juli Clover, reporting for MacRumors:

Apple appears to be making a slight branding change to its retail business, dropping the “Store” moniker when referring to its Apple Store locations. Apple has already made the change online, and all of its store pages now refer to stores by names like “Apple Union Square” or “Apple Valley Fair” or “Apple The Grove,” instead of “Apple Store, Valley Fair” or “Apple Store, The Grove.”

It’s a change that appears to have started rolling out with the launch of the newer Apple Stores, like the Union Square location in San Francisco. Apple has always referred to that store as just Apple Union Square, and over the course of the last few days, the company has updated all of its retail store webpages to remove the “Store” branding. What was once “Apple Store, Fifth Avenue,” for example, is now just “Apple Fifth Avenue.”

The “Store” branding only made sense when the concept was novel. Now that Apple’s stores are well established, it makes sense to drop the “Store”. Think about the brands that are Apple’s peers in retail. No one goes to the Tiffany Store or Gucci Store, they just go to Tiffany or Gucci. It’s not even just a premium thing — you say Target and Walmart, not Target Store and Walmart Store.

Gawker.com to End Operations Next Week 

J.K. Trotter, writing for Gawker:

After nearly fourteen years of operation, Gawker.com will be shutting down next week. The decision to close Gawker comes days after Univision successfully bid $135 million for Gawker Media’s six other websites, and four months after the Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel revealed his clandestine legal campaign against the company.

Josh Marshall:

Needless to say, Gawker courted a huge amount of controversy. And the decision to shutter it may, for all I know, be tied entirely to legal liability. But I have no doubt Gawker’s controversial rep put a permanent dent in ads sales - think of it as an inverse premium. The other thing though is that Gawker had no endemic ad proposition. Fun, news scoops and schadenfreude have no allied consumer products. But if you look at the other Gawker Media sites they were each carefully and wisely aligned with strong endemic ad propositions.

So given all that’s happened, even over and above whatever legal complexities are involved, it makes sense that a big corporate media giant would see the other Gawker Media sites as the drivers of value, not Gawker itself.

It always seemed clear to me that Gawker was Nick Denton’s baby, a labor of love. The other more targeted Gawker sites were there to prop up Gawker financially. Now that the company has been sold, there’s no one left who wants Gawker propped up.

Olympic Medals Per Capita 

This is an interesting perspective on Olympic medal counts — pro-rated by population. The United States finishes in the middle of the pack, right behind Russia and North Korea. New Zealand and Jamaica are performing the best (other than statistical outliers).

India comes in dead last, by a long shot. This year they have just one single medal, from a country of over 1.3 billion people. This story by Justin Rowlatt for the BBC News makes it sound like there are three main factors:

  1. India is very poor. Their economy is growing, but the government is spending on education, not sports. They spend so little they make their athletes pay their own way to the Olympics.
  2. Indian culture doesn’t put much value on sports, so even good athletes are under family pressure to give it up and focus on school.
  3. Cricket is so popular in India that most of the best athletes play it — but cricket is not an Olympic sport. (And even if it were, it could only give them two additional medals: one for men and one for women.)
The Talk Show: ‘Enjoyably Clicky’ 

This week’s episode of my podcast, The Talk Show, with special guest Jason Snell. Topics include the latest rumors regarding the upcoming new iPhones and MacBook Pros, Rick Tetzeli’s cover story for Fast Company on Tim Cook’s Apple, the saga of Apple Maps, and the connection between baseball and mechanical keyboards.

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Ming-Chi Kuo: Apple Planning 10.5-Inch iPad Pro in 2017 

Eric Slivka, writing for MacRumors:

According to Kuo, Apple is aiming to introduce a new 10.5-inch iPad Pro model next year to go along with a 12.9-inch iPad Pro 2 and a “low-cost” 9.7-inch iPad model. Kuo makes no mention about the fate of the current 7.9-inch iPad mini, although many have assumed that model may be phased out as the recent 5.5-inch iPhone “Plus” models have helped lessen demand for Apple’s smallest tablet.

If true, I’ll bet the aspect ratio changes. I can’t see why else they’d change to something so similar to the existing 9.7-inch size.

Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) 

My thanks to the Cloud Native Computing Foundation for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Are you running Docker containers in production? Ready to share your story with the industry’s top developers, end users, and vendors?

Cloud native computing uses an open source software stack to deploy applications as microservices, packaging each part into its own container, and dynamically orchestrating those containers to optimize resource utilization. CNCF hosts critical components of that software stack including Kubernetes and Prometheus and serves as a neutral home for collaboration. CNCF is looking for new members, and especially end users of cloud native technologies.

If that describes you, check them out and join today.

Jason Calacanis, 18 months Ago: ‘Apple Will Buy Tesla for $75B in 18 Months’ 

Jason Calacanis, 14 February 2015:

Apple will buy Tesla for $75b in 18 months — it’s a lock (in my mind).

Let’s use that lock to season the claim chowder on this one. (Yours truly at the time: “If Apple were going to do this they’d have done it years ago.”)

Update: Even more seasoning for the claim chowder — Tesla’s market cap today: $33.4 billion.

Symbolic Leadership 

Om Malik:

I think Gruber is missing the point — attending a game when a division you are responsible for is down for six hours is a clear lack of empathy for the customers, and also is a sign that standards are falling of what used to be an Apple Standard for building products of delight. Sure, things might have taken as much time to fix the iCloud, but the message you would have sent out to rest of the Apple team would have been different.

Let’s unpack this. First, it has nothing to do with “empathy for the customers”. 99.999 percent of the customers whose iCloud accounts were affected by the June 2 outage have no idea who Eddy Cue is, let alone care whether he attended the Warriors game.

As for the message to Apple employees, that’s really the only part of the “Eddy Cue should have skipped the game” argument that makes any sense to me. I disagree with it, but at least it makes sense. But it’s predicated on a lot of assumptions about Apple employee attitudes and morale, and Cue’s leadership and management abilities. Are the engineers and system administrators who were responsible for fixing the outage delicate emotionally fragile children who felt hurt when they found out Eddy Cue went to a basketball game while they were doing their jobs? Or are they mature professionals, who realize that the only thing that mattered was fixing the outage?

And let’s go further. Let’s say Cue did skip the game. How would the employees working on the outage know that he skipped the game? Should Cue have been calling them every 15 minutes to see how it’s going? Should he have made them feel small by screaming at them, telling them that they’re incompetent shitheads? Should he have made them feel guilty by telling them that he was missing Game One of the NBA Finals, because of this outage? Or, should he simply trust them, leave them alone and let them do their jobs — in which case, he might as well have just gone to the fucking game.

If we’re going to talk about symbolic leadership, I like what it says to Apple employees that Cue went to the game. It says having fun and a life outside work is good.

Facebook to Deploy Ad Blocker Blocker Blocker Blocker 

Josh Constine, writing for TechCrunch:

A source close to Facebook tells me that today, possibly within hours, the company will push an update to its site’s code that will nullify Adblock Plus’ workaround. Apparently it took two days for Adblock to come up with the workaround, and only a fraction of that time for Facebook to disable it.

Still, the cat-and-mouse game is sure to rage on.

Whack-a-mole all the way down.

One More Thing on Om Malik’s Eddy Cue Rant 

Philip Elmer-DeWitt (who was on the same episode of TWIT) transcribed Om Malik’s rant:

This is coming from the so-called celebrity influx into the company, whether it is through the Beats acquisition or Eddy Cue. I mean, look at Eddy Cue. The guy was hanging out at the playoffs when iCloud was burning. For six hours. You know, he wouldn’t have survived a day if Steve was around.

I’m sorry, that’s what gets me worked up about this company. They have all these wrong priorities. They want to do entertainment content? Buy damn Netflix and move on from there. Do it properly if you want to do it. Don’t try to do this stupid penny-ante stuff which adds no value to the company. Absolutely none.

(DeWitt’s comment: “I couldn’t disagree.”)

I’ll just point out that Eddy Cue started at Apple in 1989, and reported directly to Jobs while creating and running the iTunes Store, App Store, and iLife suite. You’re free to argue that Cue is doing a shitty job, but “he wouldn’t have survived a day if Steve was around” doesn’t hold water.

And the whole thing about Cue attending a Golden State Warriors game — Game One of the NBA Finals — during an iCloud outage is nonsense. If Cue had skipped the game, the iCloud outage would not have been fixed a minute sooner. Not one minute.

Om Malik: Apple Should Buy Netflix 

Om Malik:

I was on Leo Laporte’s TWIT show yesterday and ended up going on a bit of a rant about Apple and “Planet of the Apps.” My view on “content” efforts like this is pretty simple. It is distracting, non-core to Apple and basically avoids the bigger challenges: how to add data and Internet DNA into a company that has managed to struggle with services. The App Store needs more smarts and better search, and it needs to take a contemporary, data-centric approach to surfacing apps. “Planet of the Apps” is just an old media-like thinking applied to “apps.” I might be the only one who feels that way, but the reality is that these kinds of efforts are really not good for Apple at a time when it is competing with Google, Amazon and Facebook.

Apple — if it really wants to get into content and wants to make a strong statement to the Hollywood establishment that has stymied its television efforts so far — should make a big, bold bet. It should use its massive stock market capitalization and cash hoard to buy Netflix.

Om is a good friend, so it pains me to say this, but he’s off his rocker on this one. I’m as skeptical as anyone about this Planet of the Apps show and why Apple is producing it. But I highly doubt it’s a distraction for anyone at Apple. It’s not even shooting in the Bay Area; it’s shooting in L.A.

Buying Netflix, on the other hand, would be a huge distraction. I’m not saying it could never happen or would certainly be a bad idea, but Apple’s services are built to take advantage of its hardware. Netflix is the opposite — it’s a service designed to be available on any device with a screen. With iTunes, Apple already has a library of movies and TV shows. If Apple wants to produce original content, they could start their own production company for a tiny fraction of Netflix’s $42 billion market cap. A fraction.

To me, this reads as Om being bored with Apple, and wanting them to just do something. Saying Apple should buy Netflix is no different than Eric Jackson’s call two years ago for Apple to start making mega-billion acquisitions. As I wrote then:

Conglomeration may well work out well for Facebook. General Electric has done well with that model for over 100 years. But it would be a disaster for Apple. Apple makes acquisitions for integration. Exhibit A: PA Semi — a chump change $278 million acquisition that laid the groundwork for Apple to become the leading mobile semiconductor company in the world.

America Votes With Cards Against Humanity 

Cards Against Humanity:

Today, we’re letting America choose between two new expansion packs about either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump.

At the end of this promotion, Cards Against Humanity will tally up the sales of both packs, and depending on which pack gets more support, we will donate all the money in support of Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

Text Analysis of Trump’s Tweets Confirms He Writes Only the (Angrier) Android Half 

Interesting data and semantics analysis by David Robinson, stemming from a casual observation by Todd Vaziri that went hyper-viral.

On the Economic Feasiblity of Apple Providing Decent Wireless Earbuds With the New iPhones 

Thomas Ricker, writing for The Verge:

“I’d prefer ‘good enough’ wireless earbuds included with the iPhone,” says Gruber, “and ‘amazing’ headphones as the upsell product.”

Same, but that doesn’t mean it’s economically viable for Apple to do it. When I first read Gruber’s take a few weeks ago I thought bundling an acceptable set of wireless earbuds would be too expensive. After all, the most popular models recommended by experts start at around $80, and can easily cost more than $200. But that was before I received the Meizu EP-51 Bluetooth earbuds for testing.

These Meizu earbuds cost $28 and are pretty decent. Of course Apple could make something similar. Apple loves profit margins, but institutionally their distaste for wires and cables is even stronger. They might go with Lightning earbuds by default, but they should go wireless. That’s what justifies removing the standard jack — not that one port is better than another, but that wireless is better than wired.

Gurman on New MacBook Pros 

Mark Gurman, writing at Bloomberg:

The new top-of-the-line MacBook Pros will be slightly thinner than the current models but are not tapered like the MacBook Air and latest 12-inch MacBook, one of the people said. The new MacBook Pros have a smaller footprint than current models and the casing has shallower curves around the edges. The pressure-sensitive trackpad is also slightly wider, the person added.

Interesting. I was expecting a tapered design.

The new computers have been in advanced testing within Apple since earlier this year, said one of the people, who didn’t want to be identified discussing products before their release. The MacBook Pros aren’t likely to debut at an event currently scheduled for Sept. 7 to introduce next-generation versions of the iPhone, according to one of the people. Apple spokesman Bill Evans declined to comment.

Interesting. I definitely expected them to be announced at the September event, even if they’re not available for sale until late October or early November. That’s what Apple did with the iPad Pro last year. If they’re not announced at the September 7 event, when will they be announced? They could do a smaller event in October, but I was told last year that Apple no longer wanted to do that.

Chrome Will Start Blocking ‘Behind the Scenes’ Flash Content Next Month 

Anthony LaForge, “curator of Flash in Chrome” (talk about a shit job):

Today, more than 90% of Flash on the web loads behind the scenes to support things like page analytics. This kind of Flash slows you down, and starting this September, Chrome 53 will begin to block it. HTML5 is much lighter and faster, and publishers are switching over to speed up page loading and save you more battery life. You’ll see an improvement in responsiveness and efficiency for many sites. […]

In December, Chrome 55 will make HTML5 the default experience, except for sites which only support Flash. For those, you’ll be prompted to enable Flash when you first visit the site. Aside from that, the only change you’ll notice is a safer and more power-efficient browsing experience.

Finally.

Mark Gurman on the New iPhones 

Mark Gurman, writing for Bloomberg:

The standout features will be a dual-camera system on the larger iPhone, a re-engineered home button that responds to pressure with a vibrating sensation rather than a true physical click and the removal of the devices’ headphone jack, said the people, who didn’t want to be identified discussing unannounced features. Apple declined to comment.

It sounds like the plus-sized iPhone really will be the only model with the dual lens camera. Depressing if true.

The new iPhones will remove the headphone jack in favor of connectivity via Bluetooth and the charging port. That will make room for a second speaker, said the people. Apple started allowing headphone makers to build headphones that can connect via the iPhone’s charger connector in 2014, the same year the company acquired headphone maker Beats Electronics.

That’s a dodge around the fact that Gurman apparently does not know what sort of ear buds (if any) Apple is including in the box. The iPhone already supports both Bluetooth and Lightning headphones, but the one that Apple includes in the box is the one that the headphone jack is being replaced in favor of.

Philadelphia TV Pioneer Captain Noah Dies at Age 90 

Sad local note:

Produced at the Channel 6 studios, the show at its peak was syndicated to 22 other stations across the nation. Locally, the Magical Ark’s audience in the early 1970s was larger than Captain Kangaroo and Sesame Street combined.

Organist Larry Ferrari provided the music, which included “Send Your Pictures to Captain Noah” and their theme song, “I Can Sing a Rainbow.”

When I was a kid, Captain Noah was the show to watch. Over 3,600 episodes.

Daring Fireball Sponsorship Openings 

Couple of openings on the schedule this month, including this week. If you’ve got a product or service you’d like to promote to DF’s savvy audience, get in touch and we’ll make a deal.

Update: This week’s spot just sold, but next week remains available.

Milton Glaser Analyzes Olympic Logo Design Through the Ages 

Emily Gosling, AIGA:

There’s been much controversy recently around Olympic logo design, but let’s not forget the rich and varying narrative the Games’ graphic design has weaved over the decades. Ahead of Rio 2016, who better to cast their eyes and critical judgement over the good, the bad, and the ugly of logo design for Olympics past, present, and future than Milton Glaser? Here he is.

My favorite (and Glaser’s): Tokyo 1964. Perfect.

Joe Posnanski on Alex Rodriguez 

Nice take by Joe Posnanski on Alex Rodriguez:

And then, impossibly, Rodriguez got better. At 22, he had a 40-homer, 40-stolen base season and was probably the best player in the league again (the MVP went back to Gonzalez but this time it didn’t directly affect A-Rod — he finished a distant ninth in the voting). Two years later, Rodriguez added 100 walks to his superior shortstop defense, high average, big power — he was again probably the best player in the league. He finished a distant third in the MVP voting to Jason Giambi and Frank Thomas, a couple of sluggers who didn’t even pretend to play defense.

The lack of respect — the lack of love — obviously rankled him. At free-agency time, Rodriguez and agent Scott Boras made it clear that they had every intention of shaking up the world, every desire to let America know that this Alex Rodriguez guy was not a great player, he was THE great player, the consummate player, the ideal player, better than anyone.

And they signed a deal with Texas that dropped jaws all over the country. Through the years, baseball players have set records with big deals, but this one was on a whole other level. Even now, 15 years later, A-Rod’s 10-year, $252 million deal in 2001 ranks as the third-largest in baseball history. And one of the two deals ahead of it was the one A-Rod himself signed later as an extension with the Yankees.

A-Rod was the second-best hitter I’ve watched in my lifetime. The best, of course, was Barry Bonds, whose name is also inextricably linked to PEDs.

The Collatz Conjecture 

Fun little math problem, explained by Professor David Eisenbud in a video by Brady Haran. (I’m learning Swift, and wrote a little playground to mess around with this. Update: Here’s my code in plain text, too. And Charles Parnot posted a more elegant solution.)

‘Do I Hope Nobody Gets in My Way? They Better Not.’ 

Also in Fast Company, Mark Sullivan interviews Apple Music marketing chief Bozoma Saint John:

Q: What can you tell me about what you have learned about race and gender in corporate America? Some women and minorities have described the feeling of having to be twice as good to get where they want to go.

A: I always find that question quite funny, because I don’t have another experience. The experience I have is this. This body, this is it. I don’t have anything else to compare it to. Frankly, I think it is unfair to me, if I did it to myself, to say, “I wonder how this experience has been different to mine?” It would undercut my own successes and my own passion and my own journey. I really don’t do that. This experience is what I have. Do I work hard? Hell, yeah. Am I passionate about what I do? Yes. Do I hope I have a future in this? Absolutely. Do I hope nobody gets in my way? They better not.

Derek Jeter on Ichiro Suzuki 

Derek Jeter, commemorating Ichiro joining the 3,000-hit club:

Most of all, I’ve admired Ichiro because he’s a model of consistency. In my mind, the most underrated characteristic for anyone is consistency. It’s something that gets overlooked until it’s gone. I think baseball was always more than just a game to him. This was what he was born to do. And most impressive of all, the guy’s 42 years old and I can’t remember him ever being on the disabled list. He has taken great care of himself. He seems to approach baseball like a craft that can never be perfected. I don’t think he has a concept of “time off” from the game. It’s his life’s work. That starts with working hard all the time, even when no one’s looking.

He really has been remarkably consistent. What he’s doing this year is simply extraordinary for a 42-year-old. He looks like he could play for years. (And of course, much like Jeter did, Ichiro picked up his 3,000th hit in spectacular fashion.)

‘Playing the Long Game Inside Tim Cook’s Apple’ 

Excellent, must-read cover story for Fast Company by Rick Tetzeli (co-author of last year’s also excellent Becoming Steve Jobs biography). It’s about as accurate and insightful as a “state of Apple” profile could be. I wish I had written it.

What Apple has accomplished with Maps is an example of the kind of grind-it-out innovation that’s happening all the time at the company. You don’t hear a lot about it, perhaps because it doesn’t support the enthralling myth that innovation comes in blinding flashes that lead to hitherto unimaginable products. When critics ding Apple for its failure to introduce “breakthrough” devices and services, they are missing three key facts about technology: First, that breakthrough moments are unpredictable outcomes of ongoing, incremental innovation; second, that ongoing, behind-the-scenes innovation brings significant benefits, even if it fails to create singular disruptions; and, third, that new technologies only connect broadly when a mainstream audience is ready and has a compelling need. “The world thinks we delivered [a breakthrough] every year while Steve was here,” says Cue. “Those products were developed over a long period of time.”

That one paragraph goes a long way to explaining what Apple really does. Tetzeli also makes a compelling argument that Apple is better positioned on artificial intelligence than any of its competitors, because they’re the only company that’s with you everywhere — from your desk to your wrist to your car.

I spoke to Tetzeli while he was working on this piece, and I’m quoted a few times. This one begs for an explanation:

Under Cook’s leadership, Apple has come to seem quite fallible to many people. Its recent products have seemed far less than perfect, at least compared to the collective memory of its astonishing iPod–iPhone–iPad run from 2001 to 2010. There are the public embarrassments, like its 2012 introduction of Maps, or those 2014 videos of reviewers bending, and breaking, an iPhone 6 Plus. Apple Pay hasn’t become the standard for a cashless society, and the Apple Watch “is not the watch we expect from Apple,” according to John Gruber, editor of Daring Fireball, the preeminent Apple-centric website. Then there are the design flaws: Apple Music has been saddled with too many features, as if it were something designed by, God forbid, Microsoft; the lens on the back of the iPhone 6 extrudes; the new Apple TV has an illogical interface and confusing remote control.

If I recall correctly, the context of that remark was related to the Sport/steel/Edition tiering of the Apple Watch product lineup — particularly the $10,000-and-up Edition models. But it could have just as easily been about the slowness of the software. In hindsight — especially now that we’ve seen the zippy WatchOS 3 — Apple Watch was released before it was ready, which is un-Apple-like.

Ming-Chi Kuo: ‘Apple Watch 2’ With GPS, Barometer, Better Waterproofing 

Mikey Campbell, writing for AppleInsider:

Well-connected KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo in a note to investors on Sunday, obtained by AppleInsider, detailed Apple’s wearable timeline for the coming six months.

Kuo believes Apple is planning to launch two new Apple Watch versions in the second half of 2016, both of which offer moderate improvements over their predecessor. The first unit will be an iterative upgrade on the original Apple Watch and is expected to sport the same aesthetics, but with improved intervals like a TSMC processor built on the 16nm process. Waterproofing should also be slightly improved.

A second version, dubbed “Apple Watch 2,” is also expected to share the same general design as current models, but will include a GPS radio and barometer for improved geolocation capabilities. A higher capacity battery will be included to power the advanced components, but its size will prohibit Apple’s usual generational device slimming.

I can see Apple keeping the original Apple Watch models around (Sport edition only?) at lower prices. That’s what Apple does with old generations — keep them around at lower prices. But it doesn’t make any sense to me that they would both introduce a second generation model and upgrade the first generation model. Especially if they look the same.

Google Photos ‘Free Up Space’ Commercial 

Do you smell smoke? That’s the aroma of a sick burn wafting out of Cupertino. This Google Photos commercial is running during the Olympics, and it absolutely nails Apple right where they deserve to be nailed. This commercial is going to turn millions of people with 16 GB iPhones into Google Photos users. Running out of space is a real problem that real people face — and once storage gets tight, it will remain tight until you get a new phone.

Update: In addition to 16 GB iPhones, Apple’s other problem is the meager 5 GB limit for the free tier of iCloud. I think the $1/month 50 GB plan is a great deal. It ought to be a no-brainer for anyone who can afford an iPhone in the first place. But there are a lot of people who simply won’t budge from “free”, even if it means putting up with the daily annoyance of warnings about storage limits being hit. I realize Apple is building up its “services” as a profit center, but 5 GB just isn’t enough for the free tier.

MacUpdate’s Summer Mac App Bundle 

My thanks to MacUpdate for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote their Summer Mac App Bundle. It includes brand new releases of Toast 15 Titanium, Folx 5 Pro, Myriad 4, and free upgrades for the soon-to-be-released WALTR 2 and Disk Drill Pro 3.

For visual artists, the bundle includes Corel Aftershot and Next Flipbook Maker. Nerdy utilities include iStat Menus and DaisyDisk. (Daisy Disk is my personal favorite for analyzing disk usage on the Mac. It’s a beautiful app.)

As always with MacUpdate’s bundles, it’s a great value. The retail value for all these apps is over $500 — with this bundle, you get them all for just $49.99. Act now: there are only four days left in the promotion.

Title Case vs. Sentence Case in UI Labeling 

John Saito:

If you’re an Apple user, you’ll notice a lot of title case throughout their products. That’s because Apple’s design guidelines recommend title case for many UI elements, including alert titles, menu items, and buttons.

If you’re a Google user, you’ll see a lot more sentence case throughout their products. And that’s because Google’s design guidelines recommend sentence case for almost everything.

A subtle but telling difference between Apple and Google. Culturally, Apple is fussier; Google is more casual.

Hampton Creek Ran Undercover Project to Buy Up Its Own Vegan Mayo 

Outstanding reporting by Olivia Zaleski for Bloomberg:

In late 2014, fledgling entrepreneur Josh Tetrick persuaded investors to plow $90 million into his vegan food startup Hampton Creek Inc. Tetrick had impressed leading Silicon Valley venture capital firms by getting his eggless Just Mayo product into Walmart, Kroger, Safeway, and other top U.S. supermarkets within about three years of starting his company.

What Tetrick and his team neglected to mention is that the startup undertook a large-scale operation to buy back its own mayo, which made the product appear more popular than it really was. At least eight months before the funding round closed, Hampton Creek executives quietly launched a campaign to purchase mass quantities of Just Mayo from stores, according to five former workers and more than 250 receipts, expense reports, cash advances and e-mails reviewed by Bloomberg. In addition to buying up hundreds of jars of the product across the U.S., contractors were told to call store managers pretending they were customers and ask about Just Mayo. Strong demand for a product typically prompts retailers to order more and stock it in additional stores.

That is fraud. (And it should have been unnecessary: Just Mayo apparently tastes great.)

Also, don’t miss the wonderful animated illustration by Steph Davidson accompanying the article.

Glenn Fleishman Examines What’s New in Apple’s Emoji 

Emoji week continues on Daring Fireball. Glenn Fleishman, writing for Macworld:

As part of this update, Apple has also redrawn most faces and figures, among other changes. For the quasi-figurative smiley-style emoji, the changes are very slight. In most cases, you need to zoom way in to see them, although the subtle effects remain noticeable on a Retina or 4K display. Smileys now have a slightly different light source, with a more intense “hottest” point at the top, some lines are thinner, and the 3D effect is slightly more pronounced.

The way I’d describe it is that the old Pac-Man-style faces had an Aqua-like high-gloss texture. The new ones are no longer glossy.

Here’s my beef: Why isn’t Apple yet supporting the tumbler glass?

Top 10 Least-Loved Emojis 

Jason Snell:

I love emoji. But some emojis are more equal than others. I’d wager that there are 100 really popular emojis, and maybe 300 moderately popular ones. Every now and then, while flipping through my iPad emoji keyboard, I would find a symbol that would make me do a double-take and ask myself, “Why is this an emoji?”

There are now around a thousand base emojis and tens of thousands of variations. One day, in a dark mood, I wondered: What are the least-loved emojis? I checked out the live stats on emojitracker.com and asked Jeremy Burge of Emojipedia for his site’s least-favorite emojis. The result is this list: The world’s least-loved emojis.

Speculating on Apple Watch 2 

Abdel Ibrahim:

By the time Apple unveils the Apple Watch 2, it will probably be nearly 24 months since the original made its debut. Think about that for a second. What can Apple do in 24 months when it controls the whole stack? Answer: A LOT.

Look past how an iPhone looks and think about what happens in 24 months. Virtually everything changes. RAM, processor, screen technology, cameras, sensors, even materials. Compare an iPhone 5s to an iPhone 6s and it’s a night and day difference in terms of performance and technology. This is the type of leap I’m expecting this fall with the Watch.

I don’t think the industrial design is going to change drastically, but I do think it will change. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Watch get a tad thinner. I also think Apple may do some interesting new finishes with the Sport model, which has clearly become the go-to Watch for most of us. Everything will be improved, I think, from the Taptic Engine to the display cover.

I get why there’s so much speculation about the new iPhones — it’s the most successful consumer product in the world. But I find it curious that there’s so little speculation about the second generation Apple Watch lineup. And no supply chain leaks either.

Joanna Stern and I talked about this at length on the latest episode of my podcast, and she predicts an increased focus on health and fitness features — if only because Apple has learned that those are a major reason people are buying Apple Watches today.

Facebook to Reduce Rank of Clickbait Headlines in News Feed 

Facebook:

We’ve heard from people that they specifically want to see fewer stories with clickbait headlines or link titles. These are headlines that intentionally leave out crucial information, or mislead people, forcing people to click to find out the answer. For example: “When She Looked Under Her Couch Cushions And Saw THIS… I Was SHOCKED!”; “He Put Garlic In His Shoes Before Going To Bed And What Happens Next Is Hard To Believe”; or “The Dog Barked At The Deliveryman And His Reaction Was Priceless.”

To address this feedback from our community, we’re making an update to News Feed ranking to further reduce clickbait headlines in the coming weeks. With this update, people will see fewer clickbait stories and more of the stories they want to see higher up in their feeds.

I’ll bet this will decrease engagement in the short term. But it’s the right thing to do in the long run. It’s fundamentally a boy-who-cried-“wolf” scam.

ESPN.com Has Finally Replaced espn.go.com 

Joshua Benton, writing for NiemanLab:

It isn’t quite our-long-national-nightmare-is-over level, but one of the significant daily reminders of the early web just disappeared. ESPN’s website, which had been hosted at espn.go.com since 1998, is finally now just at espn.com.

This is the sort of thing where finally is truly apt in the headline.

Update: Disney itself now uses disney.com, but abc.com still redirects to abc.go.com.

Rich Mogull on Apple’s Security Bounty Program 

Rich Mogull:

A bug bounty program, like any corporate program, should be about achieving specific objectives. In some situations finding as many bugs as possible makes sense, but not always, and certainly not necessarily for a company like Apple.

Apple’s program sets clear objectives. Find exploitable bugs in key areas they consider a priority. Since proving exploitability with a repeatable proof of concept is far more labor intensive than merely finding a vulnerability, pay the researchers a fair value for their work. In the process, learn how to tune a bug bounty program and derive the most value out of it. High quality exploits discovered and engineered by researchers and developers Apple believes have the skills and motivations they feel will most help advance product security.

It’s the Apple way. Focus on quality, not quantity. Start carefully, on their own schedule, and iterate over time. If you know Apple, this is no different than how they release manage nearly all of their products and services.

Also:

Sources at Apple mentioned that if someone outside the program discovered an exploit in one of these classes, they could then be added to the program. It isn’t completely closed.

I was told the same thing.

Apple Announces Security Bounty Program 

Russell Brandon, reporting for The Verge:

The new program will begin as invite-only, including only a few dozen researchers. Still, Apple says the program will become more open as it grows, and if a non-member approaches Apple with a significant bug, they’ll be invited into the program to work it through. The invite system is unusual for a bounty program, but Apple explained it as necessary to weed out spurious submissions and make sure trusted researchers had adequate support from the company.

For now, the new program is also limited to five distinct categories of bugs. The most valuable category — worth up to $200,000 — is vulnerabilities that compromise the secure boot firmware components, cutting at the heart of Apple’s hardware protections. Notably, those vulnerabilities are also particularly useful for jailbreaks. Smaller rewards are available for the extraction of data from the Secure Enclave, extraction of arbitrary code, escaping a sandboxed process, and obtaining unauthorized access to iCloud account data.

The bounty program was announced by Apple head of security engineering, Ivan Krstic, during his presentation today at Black Hat in Las Vegas. Both the bounty program and the mere fact that Krstic was speaking at Black Hat are signs of Apple’s thawing relationship with the security industry.

Peter Kafka: ‘Apple’s New TV Plan Is a TV Guide’ 

Peter Kafka, writing for Recode:

Apple has started talking to TV programmers and other video companies about creating a digital TV guide that would work on both Apple TV boxes and other Apple devices, like iPhones. The idea is to let users see what kind of programming is available in video apps made by the likes of HBO, Netflix and ESPN, without having to open up each app individually, and to play shows and movies with a single click.

That is: Apple’s guide would tell you what’s on TV. Except now TV is apps. […]

But TV industry executives I’ve talked to view Apple’s plans as a mixed bag. They like the idea of making their individual shows easier to find, but they worry that moving consumers’ focus from their individual apps to a universal guide will reduce their power to promote their other shows.

The mindset of many TV executives is centered entirely around the special snowflake that is the channel they work for. In the real world, actual people just want to watch entertaining shows.

Joanna Stern on the Chip Card Shitshow Here in the U.S. 

Joanna Stern:

After pulling out the stopwatch for over 50 transactions at various retailers in recent days, I can confirm that it takes twice as long to pay with a chip card than with a card swipe or mobile payment — on average, 13 seconds versus 6 seconds.

Think about it this way: If you made two purchases every day for a year with a chip card instead of a swipe or smartphone, you’d spend 85 extra minutes at the checkout counter. That’s nearly an hour and a half of your time, to give someone your money.

And that doesn’t count the time playing swipe-or-chip roulette. Consider yourself lucky when you encounter a “NO CHIP!” sign or a duct-tape blockade over the slot.

Nice follow-up to last week’s episode of The Talk Show. And I love the embedded audio in her lede — words alone cannot describe just how bad that sound is for a successful transaction.

Samsung Uses Apple Watch Design Figures in Patent Filing 

Patently Apple:

In a patent application that surfaced today at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office titled “Wearable Device,” they discuss their new “exchangeable” strap mechanisms. What struck me was that a great number of their form factor patent figures were actually Apple Watch designs showing that indeed they set out to copy Apple’s design — even if they changed the method enough not to get sued. But it’s clear that the Samsung engineers were either inspired by Apple’s ingenuity or that their bosses handed them pictures of what they wanted their engineers to copy. It’s undeniable as you’ll see in the 12 patent figures presented below.

The illustrations aren’t just similar to Apple Watch. They’re exact illustrations of Apple Watch and several of its distinctive bands. In a Samsung patent filing. See for yourself. You can’t make this stuff up.

(Via Abdel Ibrahim at WatchAware.)

111 Designers File Amicus Brief Supporting Apple Against Samsung 

Andrew Chung, reporting for Reuters:

Apple Inc. deserved the hundreds of millions of dollars in damages Samsung Electronics Co Ltd. paid for infringing patented designs of the iPhone, because the product’s distinctive look drives people to purchase it, a group of design industry professionals told the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday.

Setting up a clash with a number of Silicon Valley companies that have come out on the side of Samsung, more than 100 designers and educators signed on to a new court brief supporting Apple.

They include famous fashion names Calvin Klein, Paul Smith and Alexander Wang, the industrial design director at Parsons School of Design, the design director for Bentley Motors, and Tony Chambers, the editor-in-chief of Wallpaper magazine.

The actual brief is a cogent read.

Philadelphia to Its Residents: Don’t Swim in Dumpsters 

Another local note. From a public service announcement from the Philadelphia mayor’s office:

In view of the City’s commitment to public health, safety and basic common sense, we will not issue permits for block party dumpster pools. And while you would think this decision would not require an explanation, three days of press requests have proven otherwise. […]

We are not screwing around, Philly. The Streets Department will not issue any future block party permits to the 2400 block of Cedar, and officials have contacted the dumpster rental company regarding its failures to obtain the proper closure permits and to take mandatory measures to protect the street during placement of the dumpster.

Bill Lyon Throws Out First Pitch at Phillies Game 

Tommy Rowan, writing for The Philadelphia Inquirer:

Bill Lyon took a few steps off the pitcher’s mound at Citizens Bank Park Wednesday night, wound up his left arm, and tossed the ceremonial first pitch before the Phillies squared off against the the San Francisco Giants.

Lyon threw a strike to the Phillie Phanatic, and nary a boo was heard throughout the stadium.

It didn’t matter where the ball landed on this night — Alzheimer’s Association Night at the South Philadelphia ballpark — in which the city paid tribute to the 78-year-old former Inquirer sports columnist.

I read Lyon’s column in The Inquirer religiously. I wanted to do what he did. He wrote with style, and a distinctive voice. He held no punches. Actually, scratch that past tense. He still writes with style and a distinctive voice, and holds no punches. Now, though, instead of sports, he’s documenting his own battle with Alzheimer’s.

Another Communications Executive Leaves Twitter 

Kurt Wagner, reporting for Recode:

This is yet another blow for Twitter, which is trying to take back its own narrative in an effort to boost its slumping stock price. The company’s VP of Communications, Natalie Kerris, left Twitter unexpectedly earlier this week, and at least two other members of the company’s tiny communications team have left in the past six weeks.

Prosser, in particular, had a lot of key responsibilities on the team. As head of corporate comms, he handled press for most of Twitter’s executive turnovers (and there have been plenty). That meant he was also dealing with company earnings every quarter (also a pretty tough assignment). As a result, Business Insider named him the top tech PR person in 2015.

Trump’s Suits 

Speaking of suits, Luke Leitch, writing for The Economist:

The potential impact of the Republican candidate in the American presidential election on world peace, global trade and democracy in America have been exhaustively covered. Less discussed is the dark shadow that Donald Trump casts over the world of fashion, but for those of us who live under it, it looms large. For I am not alone in suspecting that Trump will go down in fashion history as the man who killed the business suit.

‘We’re Apple. We Don’t Wear Suits. We Don’t Even Own Suits.’ 

In light of last week’s leak from Time Warner executives that Eddy Cue showed up for a meeting wearing “jeans, tennis shoes with no socks, and a Hawaiian shirt”, it’s worth a look back to this 2010 Wired story by Fred Vogelstein on Apple’s strained relationship with AT&T:

Looking back, it’s clear that the cracks in the Apple-AT&T relationship began forming as soon as Jobs announced the iPhone in January 2007. It was the first time the public got to see the long-rumored device — and, shockingly, the first time AT&T’s board of directors saw it as well. (Apple refused to show the phone to all but a handful of top AT&T execs before the launch.) The split only deepened from there. Apple and AT&T have bickered about how the iPhone was to be displayed in AT&T’s stores: Apple insisted the phone be presented on its own display stand, away from other models. They have even fought about wardrobe: When an AT&T representative suggested to one of Jobs’ deputies that the Apple CEO wear a suit to meet with AT&T’s board of directors, he was told, “We’re Apple. We don’t wear suits. We don’t even own suits.”

Rumor: Steve Ballmer in Takeover Bid for Twitter 

Jon Swartz, writing for USA Today:

Shares closed up 7 percent Wednesday on speculation about a rumored joint takeover bid by two billionaires who are major Twitter investors: former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, no stranger to substantial tech investments.

Crazier things have happened.

Mossberg: TV Sets Are Still Too Complicated 

Walt Mossberg’s decade-old Pioneer plasma gave up the ghost, so he replaced with an OLED set from LG. He loves the picture, but:

But learning to use the TV is a whole other story. The Bean Bird setup process was pretty straightforward, but it gets you going just enough to start watching something. Tweaking all of the TV’s many features, including common ones like picture tones and uncommon ones like zooming in on a part of the picture or using a built-in web browser, takes hours. You must wade through menus containing scores of choices.

And some controversial features common to modern TVs are buried deep in these menus. For instance, while I like motion smoothing others strongly dislike it — it’s sometimes known as the “soap opera effect.” If you don’t like it, the LG’s interface doesn’t make it at all easy to understand what’s happening to your picture or what setting to adjust to turn it off. It’s not even called motion smoothing in the menus — LG calls it “TruMotion.”

Motion smoothing should be illegal. It’s a crime against cinematography.

Evan Blass: New iPhones to Hit Retail on 16 September 

Fits with my theory that the announcement event will be Wednesday 7 September.

Samsung Executive Mocks Apple’s iPhone 7 and the Removal of the Audio Jack 

Live on stage during Samsung’s introduction event for the Galaxy Note 7:

You want to know what else it comes with? An audio jack. (Audience laughs.) I’m just saying.

You have to watch it to see just how smug he is about it. Merits of the decision to remove the headphone jack from next month’s new iPhones aside, think about how extraordinary it is that a Samsung executive can make a joke about an iPhone rumor and the entire audience gets it.

Also, how much says Samsung has new phones with no audio jack on the market by this time next year?

Natalie Kerris, Former PR Director at Apple, Leaves Twitter After Just Six Months 

Alex Kantrowitz, reporting for BuzzFeed:

Natalie Kerris, who joined Twitter as its VP of communications in February, is leaving the company, BuzzFeed News has learned. Leslie Berland, Twitter’s chief marketing officer, will lead both marketing and communications in a combined role.

BuzzFeed News confirmed the departure with a Twitter spokesperson. “During her time leading communications at Twitter, Natalie helped us share the Twitter story with the world. We are grateful for her energy and enthusiasm and the impact she’s had, even in this short time,” said the spokesperson. “We wish her all the best.”

Another sign of turmoil at Twitter. Kerris was a longtime PR director at Apple, who left Apple after Steve Dowling was named Katie Cotton’s successor.

Apple Releases New ‘Apple TV Remote’ App for iPhone 

Worth noting: it’s a brand-new app, not an update of the old Remote app.

iOS 10 Beta 4 Introduces New Emoji 

Apple:

More than one hundred new and redesigned emoji characters will be available to iPhone and iPad users this Fall with iOS 10. This exciting update brings more gender options to existing characters, including new female athletes and professionals, adds beautiful redesigns of popular emoji, a new rainbow flag and more family options.

Also notable: the “pistol” emoji is now a toy squirt gun.

Update: Intriguingly, Microsoft is switching their pistol emoji from a toy sci-fi ray guy to a realistic revolver. And Ben Sandofsky argues that the new emoji should be a variant, not a replacement, to avoid the ambiguity of the glyph conveying a very different meaning depending on the recipient’s OS. And, with this change, Apple’s pistol now points to the right; their previous pistol, and those of all other vendors, points to the left. I don’t know why CNN is showing the new water pistol pointing right, but it actually still points left.

Uber Sells Its China Operations to Rival Didi Chuxing 

Eric Newcommer and Selina Wang, reporting for Bloomberg:

Uber Technologies Inc. is selling its China operations to fierce rival Didi Chuxing, ending an expensive price war and freeing it up to focus on other markets and possibly an initial public offering.

The truce brings to an end a bruising battle between the two companies for leadership in China’s fast-growing ride-hailing market. Uber has already lost $2 billion in China in two years there, people familiar with the matter have said, prompting investors to pressure the company to cut a deal. As part of the arrangement, Didi will invest $1 billion in Uber’s global company, people familiar with the matter said.

Worth noting: Didi is the company in which Apple invested $1 billion back in May.

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