Yogi Berra (1925–2015)

The Daring Fireball Linked List

Porsche Refuses Android Auto Privacy Terms 

Number 5 on Jonny Lieberman’s list of “13 Cool Facts About the 2017 Porsche 911” for Motortrend:

So much for “Do No Evil.” There’s no technological reason the 991/2 doesn’t have Android Auto playing through its massively upgraded PCM system. But there is an ethical one. As part of the agreement an automaker would have to enter with Google, certain pieces of data must be collected and mailed back to Mountain View, California. Stuff like vehicle speed, throttle position, coolant and oil temp, engine revs — basically Google wants a complete OBD2 dump whenever someone activates Android Auto. Not kosher, says Porsche. Obviously, this is “off the record,” but Porsche feels info like that is the secret sauce that makes its cars special. Moreover, giving such data to a multi-billion dollar corporation that’s actively building a car, well, that ain’t good, either. Apple, by way of stark contrast, only wants to know if the car is moving while Apple Play is in use. Makes you wonder about all the other OEMs who have agreed to Google’s requests/demands, no?

Yes, it does.

Update: Google responds. I would call it a non-denial denial, but you be the judge.

Sony and Verizon Cancel Launch of Xperia Z4V Phone 

Chris Welch, reporting for The Verge:

After failing to deliver it on time for a summer release target, Verizon and Sony today announced that they’ve decided to completely cancel plans to launch the Xperia Z4v in the United States. The move represents a significant blow to Sony’s already-weak presence in the US smartphone market. Neither side is giving an explanation for the cancellation, though Verizon unveiled the Z4v way back in June and has remained silent on the device ever since.


Swiss TV Station Replaces Cameras With iPhones 

Imagine how crazy this story would have sounded just five years ago.

Microsoft’s Surface Book: Detachable Professional Laptop 

Innovative, attractive design, great performance — I even like the name. Kudos to Microsoft.

Tim Cook Marks the Fourth Anniversary of Steve Jobs’s Death in Memo to Employees 

Tim Cook:

What is his legacy? I see it all around us: An incredible team that embodies his spirit of innovation and creativity. The greatest products on earth, beloved by customers and empowering hundreds of millions of people around the world. Soaring achievements in technology and architecture. Experiences of surprise and delight. A company that only he could have built. A company with an intense determination to change the world for the better.

And, of course, the joy he brought his loved ones.

WSJ: Laurene Powell Jobs ‘Tried to Kill’ Upcoming Hollywood Biopic 

Ben Fritz and Daisuke Wakabayashi, reporting for the WSJ:

Mr. Jobs’s allies, led by his widow, Laurene Powell Jobs, say the film “Steve Jobs,” and other recent depictions, play down his accomplishments and paint Mr. Jobs as cruel and inhumane. Ms. Jobs repeatedly tried to kill the film, according to people familiar with the conversations. She lobbied, among others, Sony Pictures Entertainment, which developed the script but passed on the movie for financial reasons, and Comcast Corp.’s Universal Pictures, which is releasing the $33.5 million production on Friday. […]

People behind “Steve Jobs” say they offered to include Ms. Jobs in the film’s development, but she declined.

“She refused to discuss anything in Aaron’s script that bothered her despite my repeated entreaties,” producer Scott Rudin said in an emailed response to questions from The Wall Street Journal. He said Ms. Jobs “continued to say how much she disliked the book, and that any movie based on the book could not possibly be accurate.”

I’ll keep an open mind until I’ve seen the movie, but given my thoughts on Isaacson’s book, I tend to agree. What a terrible decision Jobs made when he picked Isaacson to be his authorized biographer.

Google’s Cute Cars and the Ugly End of Driving 

Mat Honan, writing for Buzzfeed after getting to ride in a Google self-driving car:

Cars are giant, inefficient, planet-and-people-killing death machines. Self-driving cars — especially if they are operated as fleets and you only use one when you need it, summoning it Uber-style — would mean we could have fewer vehicles per person, less traffic congestion, less pollution, far fewer vehicles produced per year (thus lowering the environmental impact of production), and, best of all, safer streets. The blind, people with epilepsy, quadriplegics, and all manner of others who today have difficulty ferrying themselves around as they go through the mundanities of an average day will be liberated. Eliminating the automobile’s need for a human pilot will be a positive thing for society.

Business Insider: ‘Evernote Is in Deep Trouble’ 

Eugene Kim, writing for Business Insider:

Evernote has laid off roughly 18% of its workforce in the past nine months, and said it will shut down three of its 10 global offices last week. Earlier this year, it replaced its long-time CEO Phil Libin with former Google exec Chris O’Neill.

“It’s going to be a tough road ahead,” one source familiar with the matter told us. “They want to go public, and, to do that, the focus on revenue now has to be a ruthless prioritization on things that make money.”

Depending on where you stand, Evernote is either a sinking ship or a maturing company going through a normal transition cycle. But most people we spoke to seem to agree that the company has failed to take advantage of its red-hot growth and make enough money from much of its huge user base — and is starting to show early signs of being an ailing unicorn.

Evernote has some very cool features — most impressive to me is that when you attach a photo to a note, they do OCR on any signage or text in the image so you can search for it. But the interface has always seemed so convoluted, I could never get into it. It looks like the result of a company that is focused on adding features, not focused on creating something well-designed.

CNet’s Amazon Fire Review: ‘Not Good, but Good for the Price if You’re a Prime Member’ 

Translation: “The food here is terrible, and the portions are so small.”

Charting Episode Lengths of The Talk Show 

Interesting (to me, at least) chart from friend of the show Todd Vaziri.

Many listeners definitely prefer longer episodes, but I know others feel the opposite. My take is that if you prefer shorter episodes, you can just listen to the long ones across multiple hour-long listening sessions. It’s also somewhat cyclical — at different times of the year, there is more to talk about.

American Apparel Files for Bankruptcy 

Hiroko Tabuchi, reporting for the NYT:

American Apparel, the one-time arbiter of edgy made-in-America cool, filed for bankruptcy protection early Monday, its business crippled by huge debts, a precipitous fall in sales, employee strife and a drawn-out legal battle with the retailer’s ousted founder, Dov Charney.

The Chapter 11 petition, approved by the board, was filed in federal bankruptcy court in Delaware. The filing followed a deal struck with most of American Apparel’s secured lenders to reduce the retailer’s debt through a process known as a debt-for-equity conversion, where bondholders swap their debt for shares in the company.

The deal, which also includes extra financing from the participating bondholders, would enable American Apparel to keep its manufacturing operations in Los Angeles and its 130 stores in the United States open, the company said.

I like their T-shirts (DF shirts have been printed on AA tees for many years), and I like that their products are proudly made in America, so I’m really hoping they recover from this. But I hope they recover with their brand intact.

Mapbox iOS SDK 

My thanks to Mapbox for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. The Mapbox iOS SDK is the new open source framework for making your app location-aware. It comes with beautiful vector maps for any scenario: detailed streets for navigating cities, terrain for adventuring, and satellite imagery for seeing the world up close. The maps are truly beautiful, and they zoom with the speed and smoothness of a video game. Check out their website for comparisons to Google and Apple Maps.

Start developing with the Mapbox iOS SDK for free today. Mapbox’s Cocoa API works just like Apple’s MapKit — just swap out MKMapView for MGLMapView. Their “First Steps With the Mapbox iOS SDK” guide shows just how easy it is to switch.

The Talk Show: ‘Peace, Porn, and Privacy’ 

New episode of my podcast, The Talk Show. This week’s very special guest: Marco Arment. We spend the entire episode arguing about “El Scorcho”.

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Patreon Hacked; Gigabytes of Source Code and User Data Dumped Online 

Dan Goodin, Ars Technica:

Hunt said the release appears to include the entire database taken in the hack, including a fair number of private messages sent and received by users. “Obviously all the campaigns, supporters and pledges are there too,” he wrote in one tweet. “You can determine how much those using Patreon are making.” In a separate tweet, he wrote: “The dollar figure for the Patreon campaigns isn’t the issue, it’s supporters identities, messages, etc. Everything private now public.”

Given that they stole the site’s source code, if you have a Patreon account, you should presume your password is compromised.

Apple Buys UK-Based Speech Technology Start-Up VocalIQ 

The Financial Times:

Apple has acquired a UK-based start-up whose artificial-intelligence software helps computers and people speak to each other in a more natural dialogue, according to people familiar with the deal.

VocalIQ uses machine learning to build virtual assistants that try to recreate the type of talking computers that appear in science-fiction films such as Samantha in Her or Jarvis in Iron Man. The deal marks Apple’s third acquisition of a UK company this year.

The VocalIQ company blog, back in March:

All major technology companies are pouring billions into building up of services like Siri, Google Now, Cortana and Alexa. Each was launched with a huge bang, promising great things but fell well short of consumer expectations. Some ended being used only as toys, like Siri. The rest, forgotten. Unsurprisingly.

Recode on Jack Dorsey 

Jason Del Ray and Kurt Wagner, writing for Recode:

He seems to be a completely different man than the one who returned to Twitter in March 2011 as executive chairman and product czar. Former colleagues recall a man looking for payback for his 2008 ouster; loyalty was key, and many who were loyal to Twitter’s other co-founder, Ev Williams, were booted from the company. Back then, Dorsey would routinely sit in on meetings without saying a word. When he did speak, his contributions were so abstract that few understood what he was talking about. In some cases, he’d simply write a single word or two up on the whiteboard.

He no longer sits silently in meetings — current colleagues say he provides the kind of direct, constructive feedback you’d expect from someone with Dorsey’s reputation as a product guru. There’s still some fear that Dorsey will send people packing, but the chip on his shoulder appears to be gone. Even Twitter co-founder and good friend Biz Stone said something has changed with his friend in the last few years at Square.

“I feel like he went into a time chamber and studied for 40 years and came out after one,” Stone said. “It’s like, what happened? Where did you get all this confidence and great answers and specificity? He seems to be much deeper now. It’s like talking to a much older person.”

The Normalization of Gun Massacres in America 

The Economist, back in June:

The regularity of mass killings breeds familiarity. The rhythms of grief and outrage that accompany them become — for those not directly affected by tragedy — ritualised and then blend into the background noise. That normalisation makes it ever less likely that America’s political system will groan into action to take steps to reduce their frequency or deadliness. Those who live in America, or visit it, might do best to regard them the way one regards air pollution in China: an endemic local health hazard which, for deep-rooted cultural, social, economic and political reasons, the country is incapable of addressing. This may, however, be a bit unfair. China seems to be making progress on pollution.

As Toynbee Tiles Dwindle, Philadelphia Streets Department Surfaces as Unlikely Hope for Preservation 

Jim Saksa:

Streets employees may be the least likely city workers to be found spending Sunday at the Barnes or catching a gallery opening on First Friday. And yet it’s probably the only city department that’s baked an art-preservation clause into its standard, bid-out contracts.

The city’s paving agreements stipulate that paving contractors must halt resurfacing and notify a Streets engineer if they come across a Toynbee Tile, those strange mosaic messages embedded into the pavement across Philadelphia.

The tiles are at once part of our local lore and art known the world over, the purported product of a South Philly man with a tenuous grip on reality and a tremendous amount of creativity. The tiles have inspired imitators and thieves alike, not to mention numerous news pieces and one award-winning documentary. And with all signs suggesting the mysterious tiler has left the city for good, the tiles are becoming ever more rare and in danger of extinction in their native habitat, Philadelphia.

As a Philadelphian whose favorite film is 2001, I’ve always loved these tiles. They’re everywhere in Center City. It’s crazy that there are even a few on I-676, I-95, and the Schuylkill Expressway.

The Decline of ‘Big Soda’ 

Margot Sanger-Katz, writing for the NYT’s The Upshot:

Over the last 20 years, sales of full-calorie soda in the United States have plummeted by more than 25 percent. Soda consumption, which rocketed from the 1960s through 1990s, is now experiencing a serious and sustained decline.

Sales are stagnating as a growing number of Americans say they are actively trying to avoid the drinks that have been a mainstay of American culture. Sales of bottled water have shot up, and bottled water is now on track to overtake soda as the largest beverage category in two years, according to at least one industry projection.

The drop in soda consumption represents the single largest change in the American diet in the last decade and is responsible for a substantial reduction in the number of daily calories consumed by the average American child.

Millions of Facebook Users Have No Idea They’re Using the Internet 

Leo Mirani, writing for Quartz:

Indonesians surveyed by Galpaya told her that they didn’t use the internet. But in focus groups, they would talk enthusiastically about how much time they spent on Facebook. Galpaya, a researcher (and now CEO) with LIRNEasia, a think tank, called Rohan Samarajiva, her boss at the time, to tell him what she had discovered. “It seemed that in their minds, the Internet did not exist; only Facebook,” he concluded.

You should not be surprised by this.

Vlad Savov: ‘Google’s Nexus Phones Are Just Ads’ 

Vlad Savov, writing at The Verge:

Unlike predecessors such as the Nexus One and Nexus 5, these phones don’t have a clear reason for being, and are not in themselves terribly unique. That’s led me (and others) to question Google’s overall aim with the Nexus line of pure Android smartphones, and I think I’ve finally arrived at an answer. The Nexus program is not so much about carrier independence or purity of Android design as it is about presenting Google in an overwhelmingly positive light. In other words, Google, the ultimate ad seller, sells Nexus phones as ads for itself. […]

It almost seems innocuous, except that it’s not. There isn’t a single Android device manufacturer that is happy with the Nexus program, and I’ve spoken with them all. Those who build Nexuses for Google often do so reluctantly — with the possible exception of Huawei this year, whose US reputation stands to improve dramatically from the halo effect of being associated with Google by manufacturing the Nexus 6P.

In other words, a vanity project.

Looks Like It’s Time for the U.S. Department of Justice to Investigate Apple Again 

Spencer Soper, reporting for Bloomberg, “Amazon to Ban Sale of Apple, Google Video-Streaming Devices”:

Amazon.com Inc. is flexing its e-commerce muscles to gain an edge on competitors in the video-streaming market by ending the sale of devices from Google Inc. and Apple Inc. that aren’t easily compatible with Amazon’s video service.

The Seattle-based Web retailer sent an e-mail to its marketplace sellers that it will stop selling Apple TV and Google’s Chromecast. No new listings for the products will be allowed and posting of existing inventory will be removed Oct. 29, Amazon said. Amazon’s streaming service, called Prime Video, doesn’t run easily on its rival’s hardware.

“Over the last three years, Prime Video has become an important part of Prime,” Amazon said. “It’s important that the streaming media players we sell interact well with Prime Video in order to avoid customer confusion.”

Given that they have Amazon Prime apps for iPhone and iPad, why not just make an Amazon Prime app for Apple TV? When they say “It’s important that the streaming media players we sell interact well with Prime Video in order to avoid customer confusion”, do they mean that they’ll only sell media players that include Amazon Prime by default?

The Cost of Mobile Ads on 50 News Websites 

The New York Times:

Ad blockers, which Apple first allowed on the iPhone in September, promise to conserve data and make websites load faster. But how much of your mobile data comes from advertising? We measured the mix of advertising and editorial on the mobile home pages of the top 50 news websites — including ours — and found that more than half of all data came from ads and other content filtered by ad blockers. Not all of the news websites were equal.

What is wrong with the people running Boston.com? What they’re doing is shameful.

Upgrade Episode 56: The Migration Experience 

Great episode of one of my favorite podcasts: Jason Snell and Myke Hurley’s Upgrade. They cover, in depth, something I’ve been meaning to write about: the lousy, painstaking, and at times downright confusing experience of migrating to a new iOS device. If Apple wants people to upgrade to new iPhones annually, they really need to take a long hard look at reducing the friction.

(I enjoy that this episode of Upgrade was literally about upgrading.)

Google’s New ‘Customer Match’ for Ads 

Sridhar Ramaswamy, Google’s senior vice president for ads and commerce:

Customer Match is a new product designed to help you reach your highest-value customers on Google Search, YouTube, and Gmail — when it matters most. Customer Match allows you to upload a list of email addresses, which can be matched to signed-in users on Google in a secure and privacy-safe way. From there, you can build campaigns and ads specifically designed to reach your audience. Users can control the ads they see, including Customer Match ads, by opting out of personalized ads or by muting or blocking ads from individual advertisers through Google Ads Settings.

Here’s Peter Gothard’s take on what this means, writing for Computing:

Google is close to rolling out a tool named “Customer Match” which, it appears, will combine a logged-in Google account with any email address handed by a customer to a retailer to create lists of addresses to target specific users with marketing material.

The search giant can sit comfortably with this arrangement, as the lists of emails are anonymised through the service, meaning Google keeps hold of the specific details and the retailer doesn’t get them, but can use them to blind dump advertising into Google-based sessions in services such as YouTube, Gmail or basic search functions on the Google homepage.

The bottom line: ever-more-personally-targeted ads, and a growing divide between Google’s and Apple’s approach to privacy.

Recode: Jack Dorsey to Be Named Permanent Twitter CEO 

Kara Swisher and Kurt Wagner, reporting for Recode:

Jack is back — for good this time.

Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, who has been serving as interim CEO for the past three months, is expected be named the company’s new permanent CEO as early as tomorrow, although that timeframe may change, according to sources. Dorsey will apparently continue to run Square, the payments company he founded where he’s also CEO.

I feel good about this — Dorsey values product design, and he understands what makes Twitter what it is.

How-To Geek: ‘Apple Maps vs. Google Maps’ 

Chris Stobing, writing for How-To-Geek:

Going into this article, I thought we were going to have a clear winner with Google Maps sitting comfortably out front. However, it was a pleasant surprise to find that with Apple Maps updated and all the kinks finally worked out, the debate between Google or Apple Maps eventually just comes down to your own personal preference.

I know that Apple Maps still has terrible data for certain parts of the world. But I’ve been saying for a while now that for a lot of us, it’s gotten pretty good. I do still have Google Maps installed on my phone, but I haven’t used it in months.

Apple Actually Wants You to Read and Understand Its Privacy Policies 

Matthew Panzarino on Apple’s new Privacy Policy:

This is the template for all other tech companies when it comes to informing users about their privacy. Not a page of dense jargon, and not a page of cutesy simplified language that doesn’t actually communicate the nuance of the thing. Instead, it’s a true product. A product whose aims are to inform and educate, just as Apple says its other products do.

An example:

Here’s a tidbit with regards to Apple Maps. When you query Maps for a trip, Apple generates a generic device identifier and pulls the info using that, rather than an Apple ID. Halfway through your trip, it generates another random ID and associates the second half with that. Then, for good measure, it truncates the trip data so the information about exact origin and destination are not kept. That data is retained for 2 years to improve Maps and then deleted.

Pretty sure Google Maps doesn’t work that way.


Kyle Wiens, iFixit:

You might have noticed that there’s no longer an iFixit app in the Apple’s App Store. We are sorry for anyone this has inconvenienced.

Not too long ago, we tore down the Apple TV and Siri Remote. The developer unit we disassembled was sent to us by Apple. Evidently, they didn’t intend for us to take it apart. But we’re a teardown and repair company; teardowns are in our DNA — and nothing makes us happier than figuring out what makes these gadgets tick. We weighed the risks, blithely tossed those risks over our shoulder, and tore down the Apple TV anyway.

A few days later, we got an email from Apple informing us that we violated their terms and conditions — and the offending developer account had been banned. Unfortunately, iFixit’s app was tied to that same account, so Apple pulled the app as well. Their justification was that we had taken “actions that may hinder the performance or intended use of the App Store, B2B Program, or the Program.”

“Evidently, they didn’t intend for us to take it apart” is the funniest thing I’ve read today. This isn’t some niggling technicality — they violated the spirit and plainly written letter of the developer kit agreement. Of course Apple was going to react. Whether a complete suspension of iFixit’s developer account is a just punishment is debatable, but it certainly shouldn’t be surprising.

There is, however, a certain purity to iFixit’s actions here, like the fable of the scorpion and the frog. It’s dishonest to blatantly violate an NDA, but it’s iFixit’s institutional nature to disassemble and publish every gadget they get their hands on.

The Success of iOS Ad Blockers Is Not ‘Ironic’ 

Jacob Davidson, writing for Time:

But Apple’s move to allow ad blockers has changed all that. In the days since iOS 9’s release, ad blockers quickly became the best selling software in the App Store. That means, ironically enough, that iPhone users want an ad-free mobile experience so badly they’re willing to pay directly for it.

That’s not irony. There is nothing ironic about people being willing to pay for something of value that removes something of negative value. What he’s trying to say here is that he had assumed that people are unwilling to pay for things and would put up with anything so long as it was free — and so he’s surprised to be proven wrong. But rather than face his wrong assumptions that led to his surprise, he’s chalking it up to iOS users doing something “ironic”.

What would be ironic would be if iOS users were buying ad blockers that were advertised via web banner ads that the blockers themselves block. Update: This isn’t quite irony, but it is chutzpah.

Philadelphia City Paper to Cease Print Publication 

Sam Wood, reporting for The Philadelphia Inquirer:

City Paper, Philadelphia’s feisty alternative newspaper, will cease its print publication as of Oct. 8. News of the prize-winning weekly’s demise came as a surprise this afternoon to the publication’s editors and staff writers. […]

City Paper’s website operations will be consolidated with philadelphiaweekly.com, which until today was City Paper’s primary competitor.

Unsurprising, given the current media climate, but City Paper and Philadelphia Weekly were arch-rivals. An ignominious end.

MarketWatch: ‘Google Unveils Everything Apple Launched, Only Cheaper’ 

I love this headline. Seriously, it’s perfect.

Donald Trump Is Not Going Anywhere 

Terrific behind-the-scenes profile of Trump on the campaign trail, by Mark Leibovich for the NYT Magazine:

“Don’t speak,” Trump instructed me as I sat down next to him in a Suburban. That was fine by me. None of the five staff members and security people in the vehicle said a word. We sat, per Trump’s dictate, in silence for the half-hour drive. It was almost comforting to me that he would take a break from being Donald, the Brand, and turn relatively “off” in my presence; that he could, as much as he ever does, retreat into himself. I wondered what he was thinking about.

There’s a you-are-there feel to Leibovich’s piece that I just love.

AnandTech: iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus Preliminary Results 

It’s not just CPU performance: reading and writing to SSD storage have improved tremendously since last year — and are way ahead of the rest of the industry.

Donate to St. Jude Memphis for Stephen Hackett 

Stephen Hackett (of 512 Pixels fame):

St. Jude is a special place: The mission of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is to advance cures, and means of prevention, for pediatric catastrophic diseases through research and treatment. Consistent with the vision of our founder Danny Thomas, no child is denied treatment based on race, religion or a family’s ability to pay.

Over the last six years, St. Jude has spent millions of dollars on our son, saving not only his life, but our family from financial ruin.

It’s a fantastic cause, and one that is near and dear to his family. He’s already hit his funding goal of $18,000, but it’d be great to see the total raised blow past that. Let’s make it happen.

‘The Point Is He Is Not So Much a Broken Clock as a Compass That Points South’ 

The Macalope takes on a piece from Rob Enderle that is obviously wrong even by Enderle’s own standards — wherein he argues that Apple needs to abandon its custom A-series chips for mobile and use the ones everyone else does from Qualcomm. You know, the ones that are around three years behind in performance.

The State of JavaScript on Android in 2015 Is Poor 

Jeff Atwood:

It seems the Android manufacturers are more interested in slapping n slow CPU cores on a die than they are in producing very fast CPU cores. And this is quite punishing when it comes to JavaScript.

This is becoming more and more of a systemic problem in the Android ecosystem, one that will not go away in the next few years, and it may affect the future of Discourse, since we bet heavily on near-desktop JavaScript performance on mobile devices. That is clearly happening on iOS but it is quite disastrously the opposite on Android.

Looking at a JavaScript benchmark, the fastest-known Android device today performed worse than an iPhone 5. That puts state-of-the-art Android performance three years behind iPhones.

It almost certainly is not because Chrome/Blink has worse JavaScript performance than Safari/WebKit — desktop benchmarks tend to show Chrome as being faster, if anything. I think the obvious answer is that the ARM chips used even in the highest-end Android phones are years behind Apple’s A-series chips in single-core performance. I don’t think it’s because Android manufacturers are cheaping out, as Atwood implies. I think it’s because Bob Mansfield’s team inside Apple is that far ahead of the rest of the industry.

What It Means to Be a Great Product 

Horace Dediu:

This quandary came to mind when looking at the performance of the latest iPhone, the 6S. Observing it closely, we lose sight of it. We see only minute changes between versions; marginal changes which can’t be weighed. And yet these changes have a more important attribute: they are absorbable. A change that is ignored is not only valueless, it may actually destroy perception of value. It creates clutter and confusion. A change that is absorbable is valuable. It is meaningful.

Looking at new features like 3D Touch, Live Photos, and better cameras, one can observe how easily acceptable and desirable they are to those who first see them. As were Siri, FaceTime, Touch ID and iCloud, making something meaningfully better is a sign of sustaining innovation which does not over-serve.

Paradoxically, the improvements are not usually things that users ask for. Surveys always show that consumers want “better battery life” or a “bigger screen” but delivering something else entirely which nevertheless leads to mass adoption shows an uncanny insight into what really matters. Indeed, those who deliver only what customers ask for end up marginalized and bereft of profit.

Wonderfully astute, as usual.

Philly Without Cars 

Gorgeous video by Cory J. Popp of the car-free streets of Philadelphia during last weekend’s shutdown for Pope Francis. (Thanks to Shawn Medero.)

Apple’s iPhone 6S Breaks Record as China Boosts Sales to 13M 

Sam Thielman, reporting for The Guardian:

Enthusiasm in China drove sales of Apple’s latest iPhone to a record 13m units last weekend, topping last year’s record of 10m, when the manufacturer’s popular phone was held up in China by regulators. Analysts put sales in China at between 3m and 4m units, leaving sales elsewhere essentially flat year-over-year.

I had forgotten about the delay in China last year — that clearly explains a lot of the opening weekend bump. Worth noting though, that the iPhone 5S (and 5C) were available in China for opening weekend two years ago, and the total was “only” a then-record 9 million.

User Interface of the Week 

“Maintenance mode” of a cash-for-used-phones machine, as spotted by Dave Addey. This is only the first tab. Obviously this is crazy, but in an odd way I find it beautiful, too.

Axel Springer Buys Business Insider 

Peter Kafka, reporting for Recode:

Earlier this year, German publisher Axel Springer tried and failed to buy the Financial Times. Now it’s acquiring Business Insider.

This is the deal we told you about last week; Springer is announcing it today. The deal values Business Insider at $442 million — we had previously told you it would peg the site’s value at $560 million — but Springer already owned 9 percent of the company, and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who had previously put his own money into the company, will leave it in there. When factoring out the cash still on the books, the value comes down to $390 million. Springer will end up writing a check for $343 million when the deal closes; it says Business Insider has 76 million readers and 325 employees worldwide.

Pixar Artists Get Preview of iPad Pro and Apple Pencil 

Pixar developer Michael B. “Dr. Wave” Johnson, in a follow-up tweet:

It has perfect palm rejection as far as we were able to see.

Palm detection was a big question after the announcement event this month, where it looked as though the demonstrators were trying to avoid placing their palms on screen. I think that was the result of trying not to obscure the camera’s view of the iPad Pro display, not the result of poor palm detection. In the hands-on area, palm detection seemed spot-on.

Remembering Alex King 

Matt Mullenweg:

One of the original WordPress developers, Alex King, has passed from cancer at far too young an age. Alex actually got involved with b2 in 2002 and was active in the forums and the “hacks” community there.

Alex had a background as a designer before he learned development, and I think that really came through as he was one of those rare people who thought about the design and usability of his code, the opposite of most development that drifts toward entropy and complexity. One of my favorite things about Alex was how darn tasteful he was. He would think about every aspect of something he built, every place someone could click, every path they could do down, and gave a thoughtfulness to these paths that I still admire and envy today.

Heartbreaking news. Alex was just a great person: funny, clever, honest, diligent. Everyone who knew him liked him.

Another good remembrance, from Adam Tow.

Two-Week-Old Claim Chowder: ‘Top Analyst: Early Apple iPhone 6S Sales Are Weak’ 

CNBC report from two weeks ago:

Early evidence is suggesting demand for the iPhone 6S may be meaningfully lower than last year’s model, according to a top-ranked technology analyst.

Andy Hargreaves of Pacific Crest wrote a provocative note to clients on Wednesday evening showing Google search volume, device shipments availability, third-party surveys and a lack of quantitative statements from Apple and the wireless carriers all point to weak iPhone demand.

Hargreaves is one of the top analysts on Wall Street.

Apple today announced that iPhone 6S sales were up about 30 percent over last year.

Device shipment availability is obviously related to consumer demand, but it’s also a measure of Apple’s production. It might be the case that opening weekend demand wasn’t that much stronger this year versus last — but merely that Apple was able to produce more of them for opening weekend availability.

How Does the iPhone 6S Camera Compare to Every Other iPhone Generation 

Lisa Bettany:

Each year I do this comparison, and each year I am impressed at how much the iPhone camera technology has improved. The iPhone has made it easier to capture and share our memories. Each new phone gives us a better tool to capture better quality images and create incredible photographs.

The improved sensor, software updates and new A9 processor on the iPhone 6s has made this camera the best yet. There is an apparent increase in the speed of auto focus and improvements to colour accuracy, details and sharpness, especially in low light.

Apple Is Sourcing A9 Chips From Both Samsung and TSMC 


It had been industry speculation prior to the iPhone 6S launch that Apple would be dual-sourcing the A9 and A9X from Samsung and TSMC, respectively.

It was a surprise to find two different application processors in two otherwise identical phones. As pictured below, there is a difference in the die size for the APL0898 (Samsung) and the APL1022 (TSMC).

The Samsung version is slightly smaller. Both versions seemingly perform equivalently.

When Apple announces sales numbers for the iPhone (like they did today, for the 6S opening weekend), my thoughts first turn to what a marketing success that is. It’s absolutely amazing that 13 million people wanted to buy a new iPhone during its first three days of availability. But I think that number is even more amazing when considered as an operational success. It’s not just that 13 million people were willing to buy an iPhone, it’s that Apple was able to deliver 13 million new iPhones — made from a new aluminum alloy, with a new “harder” glass for the display, and with an industry-leading CPU/GPU that is years ahead of the competition.

The negotiations between Apple and Samsung for the production of these chips must be fascinating. The chips Samsung uses in its own phones are years behind in single-core performance. How is it that Samsung can fabricate these chips for Apple but can’t copy or clone them for their own use?

Conversation in the Post-iPhone World 

Sherry Turkle, in an essay for the NYT adapted from her new book, Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age:

I have seen this resilience during my own research at a device-free summer camp. At a nightly cabin chat, a group of 14-year-old boys spoke about a recent three-day wilderness hike. Not that many years ago, the most exciting aspect of that hike might have been the idea of roughing it or the beauty of unspoiled nature. These days, what made the biggest impression was being phoneless. One boy called it “time where you have nothing to do but think quietly and talk to your friends.” The campers also spoke about their new taste for life away from the online feed. Their embrace of the virtue of disconnection suggests a crucial connection: The capacity for empathic conversation goes hand in hand with the capacity for solitude.

In solitude we find ourselves; we prepare ourselves to come to conversation with something to say that is authentic, ours. If we can’t gather ourselves, we can’t recognize other people for who they are. If we are not content to be alone, we turn others into the people we need them to be. If we don’t know how to be alone, we’ll only know how to be lonely.

BlackBerry CEO John Chen Shows Off the Android-Based Priv 

This is one of the most awkward product demonstrations I’ve ever seen. Nothing worked, and Chen seems to think “Google” is the name of an operating system. Jiminy. (Via The Verge.)

Business Dry at Philly Restaurants During Papal Visit 

Michael Klein and Dylan Purcell, reporting for The Philadelphia Inquirer:

Said Stephen Starr, who owns about a dozen Philadelphia restaurants: “This affected business worse than Hurricane Sandy. The city scared all of our customers away. We have virtually no reservations. This is unnecessary overkill. What should have been a feeling of family and community was turned into a police and military operation.”

The slowdown seems to have affected restaurants at all price points. Business at the three casual Marathon Grills in Center City has been “terrible, especially at 1818 Market St.,” said Cary Borish, whose family owns the restaurants. “We spent a huge amount of timing planning and investing in a lot of food and we wound up donating much of it today. Major bummer.” He cited poor planning on the city’s part.

This weekend was surreal here. It sounds bizarre that restaurants suffered during a weekend when the city had a million or so tourists, but I’m not surprised. It wasn’t a fun or festive atmosphere — it felt like a military occupation.

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