MacStadium 

My thanks to MacStadium for sponsoring this week at DF (as well as my show from WWDC last week). MacStadium is the leading provider of enterprise-class Apple Mac infrastructure providing scalable, reliable, and secure private clouds and dedicated servers for workloads that require MacOS. MacStadium is trusted by iOS developers, mobile testing teams, and network engineers around the world. By combining patented technology, proprietary configurations, and unparalleled expertise in Apple infrastructure, MacStadium can meet the needs of any business from growing startups to large enterprises that require Mac hardware for iOS/Mac app development needs.

Coming soon from MacStadium is Orka — Orchestration with Kubernetes on Apple — a new virtualization layer for Mac build infrastructure based on Docker and Kubernetes technology. Currently in beta, Orka will be released later this summer.

MacStadium is a long-time supporter of Daring Fireball, and there’s simply no question in my mind that they are the experts at hosting Mac hardware.

‘The Nerds Apple Listens To’ 

Hannes Schrader wrote a piece for Zeit Online about my live show at WWDC, and Apple’s relationship with podcasters and writers who follow the company. I usually hate reading about myself, but Schrader’s story is just terrific — he really captures the gestalt of the event. The original story is in German, but Google Translate does a remarkably good job at turning it into English:

There are a few men who call themselves nerds and talk about Apple like others about football. And Apple has been listening for some time.

Rick Wilson on Trump 

Rick Wilson, writing at The Daily Beast:

We live in a world of counterfactuals, hypotheticals, and more tu quoque scenarios than a reasonable person can process. That said, I have to beg my Republican friends to imagine — just for a moment — what you’d be doing if Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama said they would accept the help of a foreign power in a campaign and not report it to the FBI.

I’ll tell you what you’d do: You’d lose your fucking shit.

You’d spurt blood from your goddamn eyes.

The obvious but difficult truth is that Trump and his Republican cohorts are not interested in free and fair elections. They see our democracy as a game to rig, not an ideal to uphold. These Republicans don’t view Democrats as their political opponents; they view them as their enemies.

The New Wilderness 

Essential reading from Maciej Ceglowski:

This odd situation recalls the cigarette ads in the 1930’s in which tobacco companies brought out rival doctors to argue over which brand was most soothing to the throat.

No two companies have done more to drag private life into the algorithmic eye than Google and Facebook. Together, they operate the world’s most sophisticated dragnet surveillance operation, a duopoly that rakes in nearly two thirds of the money spent on online ads. You’ll find their tracking scripts on nearly every web page you visit. They can no more function without surveillance than Exxon Mobil could function without pumping oil from the ground.

So why have the gravediggers of online privacy suddenly grown so worried about the health of the patient?

Part of the answer is a defect in the language we use to talk about privacy. That language, especially as it is codified in law, is not adequate for the new reality of ubiquitous, mechanized surveillance.

The New Dropbox Sucks 

Dropbox:

Today, we’re unveiling the new Dropbox. It’s the Dropbox you know and love, but better. It’s a single workspace to organize your content, connect your tools, and bring everyone together, wherever you are. The first thing you’ll notice is an all-new Dropbox desktop app that we’re introducing today through our early access program. It’s more than an app, though — it’s a completely new experience.

I don’t want any of this. All I want from Dropbox is a folder that syncs perfectly across my devices and allows sharing with friends and colleagues. That’s it: a folder that syncs with sharing. And that’s what Dropbox was.

Now it’s a monstrosity that embeds its own incredibly resource-heavy web browser engine. In a sense Steve Jobs was right — the old Dropbox was a feature not a product. But it was a feature well-worth paying for, and which made millions of people very happy.

If iCloud Drive folder sharing works as well as promised when it ships this fall, I’ll probably ditch Dropbox completely. There’s simply no clarity to this new Dropbox. I don’t even understand much of what Dropbox is saying it can do. I think they’re trying to be Slack or something? I already have Slack. All I want is a folder that syncs, with sharing.

See Also: Michael Tsai’s roundup of links.

Federico Viticci: ‘Initial Thoughts on iPadOS’ 

Federico Viticci:

For now though, after using the iPadOS beta on my 12.9” iPad Pro for a few days, I’d like to share some initial considerations on iPadOS and what it means for the future of the platform.

Good overview of everything new in iPadOS 13. I think “desktop-class browsing” in Safari is going to be a game-changer for many people. It really is like browsing on Safari with a Mac.

I still don’t get the multitasking metaphor on iPadOS, though. I can get an app into split view easily enough, but it seems devilishly tricky to get an app out of split view. The main multitasking interface/concept on iPadOS is a lot like Spaces on the Mac. You’re not switching between apps so much as you are between spaces, and a particular app might have instances in several spaces. But ⌘-Tab switching with a keyboard makes a hash of that. You can only get to the most recently used space for an app via ⌘-Tab. I think there should be one unified switching interface on iPadOS.

I’m so glad to see contextual menus as standard UI elements in iPadOS. But I find it annoying that they’re triggered by a long tap — I simply hate the delay. It feels to me like Apple has tightened this up in iPadOS 13 — there’s either less of a delay, or they’ve somehow made it feel like less of a delay. Either way it’s a win.

Apple Has Been Listening 

Marco Arment:

It’s hard to tell when Apple is listening. They speak concisely, infrequently, and only when they’re ready, saying absolutely nothing in the meantime, even when we’re all screaming about a product line as if it’s on fire. They make great progress, but often with courageous losses that never get reversed, so an extended silence because we’re stuck with a change forever is indistinguishable from an extended silence because the fix isn’t ready yet.

But there has clearly been a major shift in direction for the better since early 2017, and they couldn’t be more clear now:

Apple is listening again, they’ve still got it, and the Mac is back.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say the Mac is back, because it was never gone. It was more subtle than that, I think. Apple simply took its eye off the ball on Mac, with hardware that wasn’t suited to many users’ needs (and infrequently updated) and software that was clearly a lesser priority than iOS.

Apple told us two years ago they were more committed than ever to the pro market. Last week’s new Mac Pro proves it. And on the software side, most of the great new stuff Apple unveiled at WWDC is debuting on iOS 13 and MacOS 10.15 Catalina — SwiftUI, the great new voice control accessibility features, and on and on. For a good long stretch, WWDC felt largely like an iOS developer conference. Last week felt like what WWDC should be: an Apple developer conference. Off the top of my head, it was the best WWDC for Mac users and developers since 2005, when the Intel transition was announced.

In a footnote, Arment writes:

I’m excluding the 2018 MacBook Air because it feels like a stopgap that wasn’t originally planned to exist — the no-Touch-Bar 13-inch MacBook “Escape” seemed intended to replace it — that was rushed into the 2016-era generation mid-cycle, rather than being the first of a new design. Even so, with the large exception of the butterfly keyboard, it’s quite good.

I think if any MacBook was a stopgap, it was the no-Touch-Bar 13-inch MacBook Pro, not the Air. I think Apple always planned to ship this new Air, but it was delayed for years because they couldn’t get a chip from Intel that fit the thermal profile they needed. When the no-Touch-Bar MacBook Pro was announced, Phil Schiller did indeed compare it to the old non-retina Air — very similar in footprint, weight, and price*, but with faster performance and a retina display. But I never took that as an indication that it was intended as the old Air’s successor. I think Schiller made the comparison simply because he knew the new Air was still a long way off and the no-Touch-Bar MBP really was a decent machine for people who were waiting for a retina Air.

* The no-Touch-Bar MacBook Pro’s initial starting price of $1,499 was a lot higher than the old Air’s starting price of $999, but it was roughly in the range of better-than-the-base-model Air configurations. And as we all know, when the retina Air did debut, it didn’t start at $999 either.

Apple’s Swift Era Begins 

Brent Simmons:

I’m surely not the only person to think, all week long, that this WWDC marks the end of Apple’s NeXT era and the beginning of the Swift era. […]

Even if you’ve been writing mostly in Swift the last few years, you’re still writing in a NeXT context. Your apps still live in that world, whether you know it or not. Your apps are still Objective-C apps in a very real sense.

We can quibble about whether to call the old era Apple’s “NeXT era” or “Objective-C” era. I think it works better to compare language to language, frameworks to frameworks. But it’s the same point. SwiftUI and Combine (and whatever else is yet to come) are that big of a change.

We’ll probably see a lot of Mac apps ported from iPadOS using Catalyst. Some of them — games in particular — might even be good Mac apps. But effectively, Catalyst has already been deprecated. The future of app development on all of Apple’s platforms, including those yet to debut, is SwiftUI.

How ‘Sign in With Apple’ Works 

Comprehensive FAQ from TechCrunch’s Sarah Perez.

Pixelmator Photo 

My thanks to Pixelmator for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote Pixelmator Photo, their cutting-edge photo editor designed exclusively for iPad. It includes a collection of desktop-class photo editing tools, AI that intelligently improves photos like a pro photographer, a set of gorgeous film emulation presets, and a whole lot more. Pixelmator Photo has also just received an Apple Design Award for its editing power, native design, and approachability. And it costs just a one-time payment of $5 — no in-app purchases, no subscriptions.

Five dollars! For this spectacular app. Unbelievable. Just go buy it and enjoy.

Apple’s Audacity 

Great piece by Ben Thompson on WWDC 2019:

At the same time, here I am, leading with the Mac Pro, just like those headline writers, and I’m not incentivized by hardware driving clicks: it was fun seeing what Apple came up with in its attempt to build the most powerful Mac ever, in the same way it is fun to read about supercars. More importantly, I thought that sense of “going for it” that characterized the Mac Pro permeated the entire keynote: Apple seemed more sure of itself and, consequentially, more audacious than it has in several years.

My high level takeaway is that this is the first year where Apple seemed to succeed in pushing all of its platforms forward, in step with each other.

Craig Federighi on Federico Viticci’s AppStories Podcast 

Speaking of podcasts with Craig Federighi and Federico Viticci, here’s one more to add to your weekend listening queue.

Dialog: ‘Writing Online with John Gruber of Daring Fireball’ 

Federico Viticci and John Voorhees from MacStories have launched a new podcast, and I was honored to be their first guest:

For part one of a two-part conversation, Federico and John are joined by John Gruber of Daring Fireball and The Talk Show to talk about how he got started, the role of luck, privilege, hard work, and talent in success, the toxicity of social media, building a business writing online, advertising, sponsorships, hairpieces, and more.

Part 2 should drop on Tuesday.

The Dalrymple Report: WWDC With John Gruber and Matt Drance 

Jim Dalrymple:

John Gruber and Matt Drance joined me again this year to discuss WWDC and all of the announcements from the conference. From coding to the Mac Pro, we give our thoughts on what we saw at WWDC.

We three did the same two years ago, and I think it turned out great. Drance in particular has some keen insights into just how big a deal SwiftUI is going to be. (No Heinekens until after the show this year.)

The Talk Show: Live From WWDC 2019 With Craig Federighi and Greg Joswiak 

Now available as a regular audio podcast, in addition to the video that went up Wednesday night. Watch the album art if you want to catch the gag early on.

The Clever Cryptography Behind Apple’s ‘Find My’ Feature 

Andy Greenberg, writing for Wired:

When Apple executive Craig Federighi described a new location-tracking feature for Apple devices at the company’s Worldwide Developer Conference keynote on Monday, it sounded — to the sufficiently paranoid, at least — like both a physical security innovation and a potential privacy disaster. But while security experts immediately wondered whether Find My would also offer a new opportunity to track unwitting users, Apple says it built the feature on a unique encryption system carefully designed to prevent exactly that sort of tracking — even by Apple itself.

Just a brilliant feature.

Uber Chief Operating Officer, Chief Marketing Officer Stepping Down 

Christine Wang and Deirdre Bosa, reporting for CNBC:

The executive shakeup comes about a month after the ride hailing company went public.

“There’s never really a right time to announce departures or changes like this, but with the IPO behind us, I felt this was a good moment to simplify our org and set us up for the future,” Khosrowshahi said.

Late on a Friday afternoon seems like exactly the right time.

If you want to know what’s going on, read this great piece by Hubert Huran in the current issue of American Affairs, “Uber’s Path of Destruction”:

An examination of Uber’s economics suggests that it has no hope of ever earning sustainable urban car service profits in competitive markets. Its costs are simply much higher than the market is willing to pay, as its nine years of massive losses indicate. Uber not only lacks powerful competitive advantages, but it is actually less efficient than the competitors it has been driving out of business. […]

These beliefs about Uber’s corporate value were created entirely out of thin air. This is not a case of a company with a reasonably sound operating business that has managed to inflate stock market expectations a bit. This is a case of a massive valuation that has no relationship to any economic fundamentals. Uber has no competitive efficiency advantages, operates in an industry with few barriers to entry, and has lost more than $14 billion in the previous four years. But its narratives convinced most people in the media, investment, and tech worlds that it is the most valuable transportation company on the planet and the second most valuable start-up IPO in U.S. history (after Facebook).

Uber is a pyramid scheme, a scam. If they charged enough to make a profit almost no one would use the service. If I worked at Uber I’d get out now too, before the investment world wakes up.


The Talk Show Live From WWDC 2019, With Craig Federighi and Greg Joswiak

Recorded in front of a live audience at The California Theater in San Jose on Tuesday, 4 June 2019, John Gruber is joined by Craig Federighi and Greg Joswiak to discuss the news from WWDC 2019.

Brought to you by: 

  • MacStadium: Dedicated Mac hosting in world-class data centers.
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  • Slack: Hiring iOS developers who want to define the future of Slack for mobile.

Memos — Photographic Memory 

My thanks to Memos for sponsoring last week at DF. Memos lets you search, copy text from, and annotate your photo library.

This means you can quickly find and copy text from insurance cards, instruction manuals, serial numbers, receipts, screenshots, and whatever else is buried in your photo library.

  • Search for text across your photos — including from Spotlight.
  • Copy text by tapping the green boxes.
  • Add a title and notes to each photo — these are also searchable.

Memos is a new app, and works amazingly well. I’d love to see it jump up the paid app chart. Check it out at memos.org.

The Talk Show: ‘An Italicized “Finally”’ 

That’s right, another new episode of my podcast, The Talk Show. Special guest Rene Ritchie returns for a look at what we expect — and hope — to see from Apple at WWDC next week.

Brought to you by these fine sponsors:

  • Hullo Pillow: Your favorite pillow, guaranteed.
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WSJ: ‘Justice Department Is Preparing Antitrust Investigation of Google‘ 

Brent Kendall and John D. McKinnon, reporting for The Wall Street Journal:

The Justice Department is gearing up for an antitrust investigation of Alphabet Inc.’s Google, a move that could present a major new layer of regulatory scrutiny for the search giant, according to people familiar with the matter. […]

It couldn’t immediately be learned whether Google has been contacted by the department. Third-party critics of the search giant, however, already have been in talks with Justice Department officials, some of the people familiar with the matter said.

Stock up on popcorn now.

Facebook Lawyer Says Users ‘Have No Expectation of Privacy’ 

Mikael Thalen, writing for The Daily Dot:

A lawyer for Facebook argued in court Wednesday that the social media site’s users “have no expectation of privacy.”

According to Law360, Facebook attorney Orin Snyder made the comment while defending the company against a class-action lawsuit over the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

“There is no invasion of privacy at all, because there is no privacy,” Snyder said.

Get them in court and all of sudden they’re honest.

Mark Gurman Interview With Former App Store Approval Chief Phillip Shoemaker 

Excellent episode of Bloomberg’s Decrypted podcast, with Mark Gurman interviewing former App Store approval chief Phillip Shoemaker. Tons of insight into the early days of the App Store. It’s quite rare for a former Apple employee to be so forthcoming.

(No word, though, on Shoemaker’s own foray into selling apps back in 2010, which always struck me as a very odd story given his position at Apple at the time and the nature of the apps.)

Tickets for The Talk Show Live From WWDC 2019 

The first batch of 500 tickets for The Talk Show Live From WWDC 2019 are now available. These usually go fast. Update: Sold out in 90 seconds.

The second batch will go on sale tomorrow at 1:00pm ET. Update: Sold out.

The Talk Show: ‘The Dustin Egress Problem’ 

Special guests Cabel Sasser, Steven Frank, and Greg Maletic join the show to talk about Playdate, Panic’s exciting and surprising new handheld gaming system.

Brought to you by these fine sponsors:

  • Squarespace: Make your next move. Use code talkshow for 10% off your first order.
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Also, if all goes well, the first batch of tickets for The Talk Show Live From WWDC should go on sale at 9:00pm 10:00pm ET tonight.

Point-of-Sale Malware Found at 102 Checkers Restaurant Locations 

Lindsey O’Donnell, reporting for Threatpost:

The security incident stemmed from cybercriminals breaching Checkers’ systems and installing malware on point of sale systems across more than 100 of its stores. The malware is designed to collect data stored on the magnetic stripe of payment cards, including cardholder name, payment card number, card verification code and expiration date. […]

The incident impacted 102 stores Checkers across 20 states — which were all exposed at varying dates, including as early as December 2015 to as recently as April 2019 (a full list of impacted stores is on Checkers’ data breach security advisory page).

Can you imagine having to admit this has been going on since 2015 without detection?

Also: magnetic stripes need to be retired.

WWDC by Sundell 

John Sundell:

However, not everyone is able to actually attend WWDC in person. Not only do you have to win the “lottery” in order to qualify for purchasing a ticket, you also need to have the monetary means to be able to fly to, stay at, and attend the conference. So for a huge amount of people, WWDC can feel a bit out of reach.

I wanted to do something about that. This website is for everyone who wants to closely follow WWDC, but from anywhere in the world. Starting right now, this site will be updated daily with articles, videos, podcasts, and interviews, covering all things WWDC — from recommendations on what session videos to watch, to in-depth looks at new APIs, to interviews with people from all over the Apple developer community.

A lot of great content here already. And the site is very fast — no JavaScript, no tracking, no nonsense.

‘Putting the Soul in Console’ 

Anil Dash gets it:

I don’t know if Playdate will succeed in the market. I don’t know what kind of risk it represents for Panic as a company. But I know that people see this cute little device, and are reminded that they used to get excited when they saw cool new technology, instead of wondering how it would warp their reality, or steal their information. Here’s hoping for a return to tech that’s fun, that’s thoughtful, and that’s created with a little bit of soul.

NYT: ‘In Baltimore and Beyond, a Stolen N.S.A. Tool Wreaks Havoc’ 

Remember when the FBI wanted Apple to build backdoors into iPhones, arguing that Apple could trust them with the encryption keys because they would keep them safe? Good times.

Analysts Claim 3D Touch Is Going Away in All 2019 iPhones 

Joe Rossignol, writing for MacRumors:

Last week, in a research note shared with MacRumors, a team of Barclays analysts “confirmed” that 3D Touch “will be eliminated” in all 2019 iPhones, as they predicted back in August 2018. The analysts gathered this information from Apple suppliers following a trip to Asia earlier this month.

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard this rumor. The Wall Street Journal said the same thing back in January.

Michael Tsai:

Haptic Touch works well, but it isn’t a replacement for 3D Touch because it’s just about feedback, not input. 3D Touch had the potential to be like modifier keys on the Mac, a way to provide an additional “dimension” of input. iOS really needs something like that. I’m not sure why Apple never really did much with it, but the potential was wasted. Given that, and the fact that it never made it across the iPhone product line or to any iPads, I can certainly see why they would get rid of it and doubt most people will miss it (or even knew about it in the first place).

Lots of good links and comments on Tsai’s post, as always.

3D Touch is a great idea but Apple never rolled it out well, and it was never discoverable. I wouldn’t be surprised if most people with 3D Touch-enabled iPhones have no idea it exists. In and of itself, the lack of discoverability isn’t necessarily a problem. That’s how power user features often work. Right-clicking on the Mac, for example, is in the same boat. What 3D Touch never got right is that power-user shortcuts should be just that — shortcuts for tasks with more obvious ways to do them. Now imagine if right-clicking only worked on certain high-end Macs, but didn’t work on others. That’s what happened with 3D Touch.

I think it should have always been a shortcut for a long-press, pure and simple. Just a faster way to long-press. But because 3D Touch is not just a shortcut for a long-press, and is not available on any iPad nor many iPhones, developers could never count on it, so they never really did anything with it. It doesn’t get used much because there’s not much you can do with it.

iOS Apps Grossly Abusing Background App Refresh for Tracking Purposes 

Geoffrey Fowler, writing for The Washington Post:

It’s 3 a.m. Do you know what your iPhone is doing?

Mine has been alarmingly busy. Even though the screen is off and I’m snoring, apps are beaming out lots of information about me to companies I’ve never heard of. Your iPhone probably is doing the same — and Apple could be doing more to stop it.

On a recent Monday night, a dozen marketing companies, research firms and other personal data guzzlers got reports from my iPhone. At 11:43 p.m., a company called Amplitude learned my phone number, email and exact location. At 3:58 a.m., another called Appboy got a digital fingerprint of my phone. At 6:25 a.m., a tracker called Demdex received a way to identify my phone and sent back a list of other trackers to pair up with.

And all night long, there was some startling behavior by a household name: Yelp. It was receiving a message that included my IP address — once every five minutes.

This is all going on via Background App Refresh. You can see which apps have this permission on your iOS device in Settings: General: Background App Refresh (it’s the 8th item in General in iOS 12).

This feature exists for good reasons — it’s how email, messaging, and podcast apps can update in the background. You probably want new podcasts episodes to download in the background overnight. You want current weather information when you wake up in the morning. But anything that can be abused, will be abused, and it looks like a lot of apps are abusing the shit out of Background App Refresh.

I don’t know what Apple can do to make this more transparent — to somehow let you, the user, see what exactly these apps are doing in the background — but I sure hope it’s on their radar. At this point, a lot of these apps — because of the third-party “analytics” libraries they embed — are acting as spyware, pure and simple.

Sniping From Goldman Sachs Rivals on Apple Card 

Hugh Son, writing for CNBC:

Within the industry, the deal is widely perceived as one that’s risky for a bank to take on. Citigroup was in advanced negotiations with Apple for the card but pulled out amid doubts that it could earn an acceptable profit on the partnership, according to people with knowledge of the talks. Other banks, including J.P. Morgan Chase, Barclays and Synchrony, also bid on the business. Apple and the banks declined to comment on this story.

It turns out that the Apple Card’s consumer-friendly features — no fees of any kind, software that actively encourages users to avoid debt or pay it down quickly, and potentially lower interest rates — make it harder for banks to make money on the product. Even features like the card’s calendar-based billing can impact a lender’s cost of funding and servicing, since customers’ borrowing will be concentrated at month-end, rather than spread out over weeks.

No shit they’re going to make less money than cards that charge fees and higher interest rates. But they’re going to make money — I’ll eat my hat if Goldman and Apple don’t turn a profit on this card. CNBC’s headline — “A Goldman Sachs rival pulled out of the Apple Card deal on fears it will be a money loser” — makes it sound like they’re going to lose money, which is ludicrous. They’ll make money on each transaction and they’ll make money charging interest on any cardholder who carries a balance. Arguing that they won’t make enough money is just usurious greed.

I don’t use the word lightly, but it’s evil to argue against the software Apple is releasing to help cardholders avoid debt and pay down what debt they owe quickly.

Also, this whole CNBC article seems like a way to sell consumers on getting an Apple Card.

The Independent on Apple and Privacy 

Andrew Griffin, in a lengthy piece for The Independent:

“Privacy cannot be a luxury good offered only to people who can afford to buy premium products and services,” Pichai wrote in an op-ed in the New York Times. He didn’t name Apple, but he didn’t need to.

Pichai argued that the collection of data helps make technology affordable, echoing a sentiment often heard about Apple, that their commitment to privacy is only possible because their products are expensive and it can afford to take such a position. Having a more lax approach to privacy helps keep the products made by almost all of the biggest technology products [sic] in the world — from Google to Instagram — free, at least at the point of use.

“I don’t buy into the luxury good dig,” says Federighi, giving the impression he was genuinely surprised by the public attack.

“It’s on the one hand gratifying that other companies in space [sic] over the last few months, seemed to be making a lot of positive noises about caring about privacy. I think it’s a deeper issue than what a couple of months and a couple of press releases would make. I think you’ve got to look fundamentally at company cultures and values and business model. And those don’t change overnight.”

Griffin’s piece is an interesting read, and he was granted rare access to Apple’s testing facilities, but I think it’s a little all over the place, bouncing back and forth between security issues (testing Apple designed chips in extreme temperatures) and privacy issues. I think the above is the main point though — Google and Facebook are both pushing back against Apple, arguing that Apple’s stance on privacy is only possible because they charge a lot of money for their products.

I think the point that needs to be made is that free and low-cost products can be subsidized by privacy-respecting advertising — but privacy-respecting advertising is not as profitable as privacy-invasive advertising, as exemplified on Facebook and Google’s humongous platforms.

‘Nancy Pelosi and Fakebook’s Dirty Tricks’ 

Kara Swisher, writing at The New York Times:

This is ridiculous. The only thing the incident shows is how expert Facebook has become at blurring the lines between simple mistakes and deliberate deception, thereby abrogating its responsibility as the key distributor of news on the planet.

Would a broadcast network air this? Never. Would a newspaper publish it? Not without serious repercussions. Would a marketing campaign like this ever pass muster? False advertising. […]

By conflating censorship with the responsible maintenance of its platforms, and by providing “rules” that are really just capricious decisions by a small coterie of the rich and powerful, Facebook and others have created a free-for-all with no consistent philosophy.

On the Recyclability of AirPods 

Will Oremus, writing at OneZero:

When I contacted Apple for this story, I didn’t expect much of a response. The company is famous for being selective about its press relations. But I found the company more eager than usual to rebut the claim that AirPods are a planetary nightmare — a claim that appears to have caught Cupertino somewhat by surprise. […]

Most of all, Apple wanted to make clear that you can recycle AirPods — or at least important components of them — and you can go through Apple to do it. There’s a link on the company’s website to order a prepaid shipping label, which you can use to send the device to one of Apple’s recycling partners by dropping it in a FedEx box. Apple says that it has accepted AirPods for recycling ever since they were released, although it was only this year that the company added the product as a specific category of return on the website. The company also noted that you can bring your defunct AirPods to any Apple Store for recycling. “As with all of our products, we work closely with our recyclers to ensure AirPods are properly recycled and provide support to recyclers outside of our supply chain as well,” the company said in a statement.

$99 Is Not Nothing 

Apple has published a new “Principles and Practices” page regarding the App Store, which seems clearly in response to this month’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowing a class action lawsuit alleging the App Store to be an illegal monopoly to proceed. This bit caught my eye:

84% of apps are free, and developers pay nothing to Apple.

Like any fair marketplace, developers decide what they want to charge from a set of price tiers. We only collect a commission from developers when a digital good or service is delivered through an app. Here are some of the ways developers commonly make money on the App Store.

Any developer distributing an app through the App Store, free or paid, must pay Apple $99 per year for a developer account. You can build apps using Xcode free of charge, but you need a paid developer account to distribute them through the App Store.

Pretty good defense of the App Store overall, though, including a list of great third-party apps that compete directly against Apple’s own apps — camera, calendar, email, maps, etc. And of course, music. But one thing iOS users have complained about for 10 years now is that third-party apps can’t be set as the system-wide default in iOS. (They can on the Mac.) I’m not sure how tenable that is.

Update: There are exceptions to the $99 developer fee, for nonprofit organizations in five countries:

You can request to have the 99 USD annual membership fee waived if you’re a nonprofit organization, accredited educational institution, or government entity that will distribute only free apps on the App Store and is based in an eligible country. Apple will review your request and contact you to let you know whether your request is approved.

Eligible countries: Brazil, China, Japan, United Kingdom, United States.

It’d be interesting to know how many of these waivers have been granted.

A Few iOS 13 Screenshots 

The most interesting thing to me is the new interface for the screenshot editing tools. Actual depth, color, and shading — these new tools look great.

New A10-Based iPod Touch 

iPod Touch is such an oddball product, but I’m glad to see it updated. The last revision was four years ago. In the early years, I think a lot of iPods Touch were sold for use by kids. But today, most kids use hand-me-down iPhones. I think a lot of new iPods Touch are sold for enterprise purposes — warehouse scanning, point-of-sale, that sort of thing.

Layers + The Talk Show Live 

My thanks to Layers for sponsoring last week at Daring Fireball. Layers is a 3-day conference about design, technology, and a lot more (including great snacks). It runs Monday-Wednesday June 3-5, at the historic Montgomery Theater, right around the corner from Apple’s WWDC. Monday kicks off with an opening party from 5-8pm (they know everyone wants to watch Apple’s keynote), and the conference proper takes place Tuesday and Wednesday.

This is Layers’s 5th year. Back in 2015, I was on stage to interview Susan Kare — one of the highlights and great privileges of my career.

Use this link to register for Layers and you’ll get admission to the Layers Design Conference, June 3-5, and The Talk Show Live on Tuesday, June 4.

The Talk Show Live From WWDC will be held at the California Theatre. Doors at 6pm, show at 7pm. (General admission tickets for The Talk Show aren’t even available yet, but will go on sale early this week.)


An iOS 13 Wish: A Return of Vibrant Tapdown States

There’ve been a bunch of leaks about iOS 13, nearly all from Guilherme Rambo at 9to5Mac and Mark Gurman at Bloomberg. But one thing we don’t know yet — and I emphasize yet, because leaks often spring very close to keynotes — is what iOS 13 is going to look like. No screenshots, no mock-ups.

Most likely, I’d say, is that visually, iOS 13 will bring what we’ve seen each of the past 5 years — another annual refinement of the iOS 7 look-and-feel that debuted in 2013. But there have been rumblings that something more dramatic is afoot. The original (let’s call it classic) iOS look-and-feel lasted 6 years — it would be fitting for the iOS 7 look-and-feel to last 6 years as well. I don’t really see how Apple could do something as radical as the iOS 6 to 7 transition. But to me there are aspects of the iOS 7 foundation that are tired.

I don’t know why, but one of those things has been bugging me a lot in recent months: the drab gray color that indicates tapdown state for list items and buttons. Putting aside skeuomorphic textures like woodgrain and leather and the 3D-vs.-flat debate, the utter drabness of tapdown states is just a bad idea. I didn’t like it when iOS 7 debuted, and I like it even less 6 years later.

In classic iOS, when you tapped down on list items or buttons, they’d instantly light up in vibrant color. The standard color was a bright cheerful blue. In iOS 7 through 12, the tapdown state is the color of dirty dishwater.

iOS 6 vs. iOS 12:

  

The classic iOS style was both joyful and a perfect visual indication of what you are tapping. It was both aesthetically pleasing and more usable. It’s useful — and accessible — to make crystal clear what exactly you are tapping on. The classic iOS look-and-feel made it feel fun just to tap buttons on screen. I miss that. Again, put aside specific techniques like photorealistic textures and depth effects. To me the fundamental weakness in post-iOS-7 look-and-feel is simply that it’s been drained of joy.1 


  1. The Mac, thankfully, hasn’t lost as much vibrancy. Think about how dull, and how much less usable, the menu bar would be if the selected menu item just got a dishwater-gray highlight instead of a vibrant blue one — or whatever other accent color you’ve chosen if you’re running 10.14 Mojave. Even when using the monochrome Graphite theme, the menu item highlight is a dark gray with inverted white text — it’s deliberately not joyful the way the colorful options are, but it’s still a very distinctive visual state, not subtle like on iOS. ↩︎


YouTube Is the Only Social Platform Taking Down Doctored Pelosi Videos 

Kate Riga, reporting for TPM:

YouTube has taken down videos of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) doctored to make her seem drunk from its platform, saying that the posts “violated our policies.”

“YouTube has clear policies that outline what content is not acceptable to post and we remove videos violating these policies when flagged to us. These videos violated our policies and have been removed. They also did not surface prominently. In fact, search results and watch next panels about Nancy Pelosi include videos from authoritative sources, usually at the top,” a spokesperson told TPM.

Facebook and Twitter, on the other hand, are letting the videos live on their sites.

“We remove things from Facebook that violate our Community Standards, and we don’t have a policy that stipulates that the information you post on Facebook must be true,” a company spokesperson said in a statement obtained by Politico.

Shame on Twitter and Facebook. These videos are not parody or satire — they’re being passed off as real, and garnering millions of views. It’s dangerous propaganda.

iFixit Tears Down a New MacBook Pro 

Looks like Apple made two material changes: a different one for the transparent membrane, and (perhaps?) the metal dome switches.


Playdate

“We wanted this thing to come out of nowhere, fully formed, and just blow everybody’s minds.” That’s Panic co-founder Cabel Sasser, in the cover story of the new issue of Edge magazine.

The story is about Playdate, the most amazing and exciting product announcement, for me, since the original iPhone.

Everything racing through your mind right now as “but that’s impossible” is, in fact, not impossible. It’s true. Panic is making a handheld game player. It is adorable and exciting and fun and technically impressive. Go read all about it at Panic’s (also adorable, exciting, fun, and technically impressive) Playdate website, which even has a great domain name.

They’re making their own hardware (in conjunction with Swedish device makers Teenage Engineering). They wrote their own OS (there’s no Linux). It has a high resolution 400 × 240 black and white display with no backlighting. It has a crank.

It’s going to cost only $149 — $149! — and that includes a “season” of 12 games from an amazing roster of beloved video game creators, delivered every Monday for 12 weeks.


The idea of a new upstart, a company the size of Panic — with only software experience at that — jumping into the hardware game with a brand new platform harkens back to the ’80s and ’90s. But even back then, a company like, say, General Magic or Palm, was VC-backed and aspired to be a titan. To be the next Atari or Commodore or Apple.

In today’s world all the new computing devices and platforms come from huge companies. Apple, of course. All the well-known Android handset makers building off an OS provided by Google. Sony. Nintendo.

Panic is almost cheating in a way because they’re tiny. The Playdate platform isn’t competing with the state of the art. It’s not a retro platform, per se, but while it has an obviously nostalgic charm it is competing only on its own terms. Its only goal is to be fun. And aspects of Playdate are utterly modern: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, apps and software updates delivered over-the-air.

They’re taking advantage of an aspect of today’s world that is brand new – the Asian supply chain, the cheapness of Asian manufacturing, the cheapness of CPU and GPU cycles that allows things like Raspberry Pi to cost just $35.

And then there’s the issue of freedom. Last night Steven Frank, Panic’s other co-founder, tease-tweeted a link to Steve Jobs quoting Alan Kay during the introduction of the original iPhone: “People who are really serious about software should make their own hardware.”


You know that scene in GoodFellas where Tommy is about to be made, and Jimmy and Henry can’t contain their excitement because it’s as close as they themselves will ever get to being made? That’s a bit how I feel about Playdate — I have so many friends at Panic, and this feels as close as I’ll ever get to the makers of a hardware platform. (Let’s please ignore the fact that everything goes to shit in GoodFellas at that point.)

Cabel Sasser let me in on this about two weeks ago, and I don’t think I’ve spent a waking hour since when I haven’t thought about Playdate at least once. I am so excited to get one of these in my hands — and so proud of and happy for my friends at Panic.

This is fucking amazing.