The Daring Fireball Linked List

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?)

Bloomberg: Apple Exploring Google-Like ‘Paid Search’ for App Store 

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.

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