Tim Cook Appears Alongside Trump in Re-Election Campaign Ad Shot in Mac Pro Plant in Austin

Donald Trump, tweeting a re-election video shot during his tour of Apple’s Mac Pro assembly plant today:

Today I opened a major Apple Manufacturing [sic] plant in Texas that will bring high paying jobs back to America. Today Nancy Pelosi closed Congress because she doesn’t care about American Workers! [sic]

I’ve been on board with Cook’s stance on engaging Trump. Participating in Trump’s technology council does not imply support for Trump. Engaging Trump personally, in private phone calls and dinners, does not imply support. But appearing alongside Trump at an Apple facility in a staged photo-op is implicit support for Trump and his re-election.

This wasn’t a promotion for the Mac Pro or its assembly plant. It was a promotion for Trump. This video makes it look like Trump’s trade policies have been good for Apple and that Tim Cook supports Trump. Both of those things are false. Even Trump’s predictable claim that this is a new facility is false — Apple, in what at the time was a high-profile shift, has been manufacturing Mac Pros at the same facility since 2013. Apple isn’t bringing Mac Pro assembly back to the U.S. because of Trump’s trade policies; Apple is keeping Mac Pro production here solely because Trump granted Apple an exemption to his tariffs — tariffs that he himself clearly does not understand.

But Cook went into this knowing that this is how Trump would play it — a big pile of nonsensical horseshit all the way down.

This is how Apple chose to unveil the packaging for the Mac Pro — in a poorly-shot overexposed propaganda video by the White House, scored with bombastic music that sounds like it came from an SNL parody of a Michael Bay film. Think about how it feels to work on that team at Apple.

Jack Nicas, in an acerbic news analysis piece at The New York Times:

On Wednesday, Mr. Trump called Mr. Cook a “very special person” because of his ability to create jobs. He turned to Mr. Cook and said, “What would you say about our economy compared to everybody else?”

Mr. Cook replied, “I think we have the strongest economy in the world.”

“Strongest in the world,” Mr. Trump said.

The president then took questions on the impeachment inquiry and launched into a tirade against “the fake press.” Mr. Cook stood silently nearby.

“Mr. Cook stood silently nearby.”

A low moment in Apple’s proud history, and a sadly iconic moment for Tim Cook. I hope avoiding those tariffs is worth it. 


L’Affaire Vaperware

The Macalope is not a fan of Apple’s ban on vaping-related apps from the App Store:

If you’re not into vaping, it’s pretty easy to cheer this action. For starters, some vaping companies are terrible people. Second, some kinds of vaping are simply not good for you, even when they don’t contain cyanide. So who could be against this move?

Well, vapers, certainly. There are actually very good reasons why some people vape, medical ones. For now those who have installed the apps can continue to use them, but in the long term developers have no way to deliver updates that could provide bug fixes or firmware updates.

It’s worth pointing out that the canisters that did contain cyanide were counterfeit. The Macalope just checked his local liquor store and we haven’t banned alcohol sales because prison wine blinded some people. He also checked the App Store and we haven’t banned mixology apps, either. But one of the apps Apple banned actually checked canisters to see if they were counterfeit.

Neither is medical marijuana user Jason Perlow:

But there are also more sophisticated devices that have USB and even Bluetooth interfaces to enable the patient to control heat settings, display lights, and update the firmware. The Bluetooth devices are accompanied by apps on the iOS and Android mobile platforms which can allow the patient to measure and monitor their usage, and, as is the case with PAX to identify the medication loaded into the device, and to understand its contents, such as the overall cannabinoid profile, the terpene mix, and other components. It also allows a user to validate the authenticity of the medication as well as testing and batch results.

Neither is Ben Thompson:

Those apps — and by extension, device functionality — are no longer available to iPhone users — you can’t get this level of functionality in a browser — not because regulators ruled them illegal, or because Congress passed a law, but because a group of technology executives said so. And, what they said held sway because the App Store is integrated with the iPhone: Apple has a monopoly on what apps can or cannot be installed.

To keep it all here on one page, my take from Monday:

I think I’m OK with this overall, but it’s a close call. The stuff about selling cartridges, and sharing news — it’s fine for that stuff to be out of the App Store because you can get it on the web. But Bluetooth stuff where apps were used as the interface for controlling hardware — web apps can’t do that (nor should they be able to). There is no alternative to a native app, and native apps are only available on the App Store. This would be an easy call to make (and would have been made from the get-go by Apple) if vaping were illegal. But it’s not illegal.

Booze Is Not a Good Comparison

A few readers, objecting to my “I think I’m OK with this overall” stance, posed the same question The Macalope did: why not alcohol-related apps, too? Wouldn’t I — who partakes of an occasional libation — staunchly object to a ban on, say, cocktail recipe apps? Well, no. If Apple were to issue a blanket ban on alcohol-related apps, I wouldn’t object so much as I would worry that Apple had lost its mind. Vaping and alcohol are both legal in the U.S., but they are not in the same ballpark.

There is a stigma — growing rapidly — attached to vaping that is not attached to alcohol. Vaping is controversial in ways that drinking is not. Is that fair? No. Apple cited 42 recent vaping-related deaths in the U.S. in its decision to ban vaping apps from the App Store. The National Institute of Health estimates that 88,000 Americans die from alcohol-related causes annually — which, if true, means over 240 per day. There’s a good chance someone in the U.S. will die from an alcohol-related cause by the time you finish reading this article. Is it fair that we as a society have accepted that, but consider 42 vaping-relating deaths a crisis? No.

This isn’t about vaping being bad and alcohol being good. It’s about vaping being controversial and alcohol being firmly socially accepted. President Trump has not called for a ban on fruit-flavored vodka, but he did call for a ban on fruit-flavored vape cartridges. Now, in the past week, Trump has walked away from that proposed ban, because, it turns out, his proposed ban was politically risky. My point here isn’t whether vape users skew toward being Trump supporters — I have no idea, and wouldn’t be surprised if vaping demographics showed no tilt toward the left or right, per se, but merely toward being young — but simply to point out that vaping is so controversial as to have risen to the level of presidential politics.

If alcohol were as contentious an issue in the U.S. today as it were 100 years ago, I would expect Apple to ban alcohol-related apps long before Prohibition became the law of the land. But it’s not contentious today.

And, speaking of alcohol-related apps, in the early days of the App Store there were apps that flagged the locations of DUI checkpoints. These apps were not illegal — in some cases the data for the apps came from the police departments themselves. In testimony before the U.S. Senate in May 2011, Apple VP Bud Tribble cited that fact as one reason why Apple allowed the apps in the App Store.

Three weeks later, Apple updated its App Store guidelines to ban such apps, and removed them from the store. They have not returned.

Like vaping apps, those DUI apps were perfectly legal. Also like vaping, they were controversial. The analogy is not perfect. Having executives drawn into testimony before Congress — as with the DUI checkpoint apps — is no small matter. There are no Senate hearings on the vaping epidemic — yet. Look at those graphs in the PEW Research demographic study of vapers I linked to above — particularly this one. The rate at which vaping is growing among high school and college students is striking. In 2016 13 percent of high school seniors reported vaping in the previous 30 days; two years later it was double that figure. If this continues apace, it seems inevitable vaping will soon reach the level of Congressional investigations.

I would wager that Apple changed its mind back in 2011 on DUI checkpoint apps not because of political pressure — remember, they defended them in a Senate hearing — but because they decided it was simply the right thing to do. I would bet that’s a factor with the vaping ban.

Online gambling is legal in several U.S. states today. It’s perfectly legal in numerous countries around the word. There have never been any apps in the App Store that let you gamble with real money.1 Most pornography is legal — never been in the App Store, never will be. All of it: controversial. And, to varying extents: seedy.

Apple certainly isn’t being cowardly here. If anything, the quick political backlash to Trump’s proposed outlawing of flavored vape cartridges shows that taking a stand against vaping is the riskier route.

The Better Comparison: Tobacco and ‘Weed’ Smoking

Search the App Store for “tobacco” or “cigarettes” and most of what you’ll find are apps intended to help people quit smoking. But there are some eyebrow-raising exceptions.

Tobacco Inc. (Cigarette Inc.)” is an iOS game with the following premise:

You have been a president of tobacco company. By developing new varieties and diverse additives and by making cigarette having high-addictiveness, grow the company as the best company in the world. Achieve 99.9% of global smoking rate and 99.9% of market share.

The future of cigarette is up to you.

It’s not clear if that 99.9% figure includes children. (Also, consider one big “[sic]” applied to that whole description.)

A few others: “itSmoke” (a cigarette smoking simulator — with decent graphics!), “iRoll Up the Rolling and Smoking Simulator Game” (a “game” in which you roll and “spark up” your own “cigarettes”), and an entire sub-genre of games that show up when you search for “weed baron”.

As it stands today, tobacco and marijuana are OK in the App Store if you smoke them but banned if you vape them. That distinction seems impossible to defend, other than by noting that vaping is a hot topic in the news, and cigarettes and weed baroning are not.

The Case Against the Vaperware Ban

All that said, my personal take remains unchanged: I think I’m OK with Apple’s decision, but it’s a close call. I’m not even saying I agree with it. If the decision were mine to make, I’d have left the vape apps in the store — for now at least. But I think it’s an edge case that makes for a close call, so I’m OK with it.

This seems to be problematic for some readers to come to grips with — that I can accept a decision I disagree with. To me, it’s like watching an instant replay in baseball. The umpire calls the baserunner out. One replay camera angle makes the runner look safe; a different angle makes the runner look out. Neither angle is conclusive. Maybe I feel the angle that makes the runner look safe is more compelling. But the umps review the play and the call stands: out. I’m OK with that, because it was close. Usually, instant replays in baseball are conclusive. Usually, with App Store rejections and policy changes, the correct course of action for Apple is clear.

My strong preference for the App Store, so long as it remains the only way to install apps as a consumer2 (that is to say, non-developer, non-enterprise users), is for Apple to be guided by two factors: the law, and compliance with App Store technical policies.

The legal part is obvious. Apple has no choice but to comply with the laws around the world in every country in which the App Store operates. On the matter of technical polices, I mean things like forbidding the use of private APIs, abusing system resources, violating the privacy or security of users, etc. Rules that should apply equally to all apps from all third-party developers.

Does the app adhere to the law? Does the app adhere to Apple’s rules? If the answer is yes to both questions then the app should be in the App Store.

But there are always going to be exceptions. Pornography, gambling, and hate speech have been exceptions from the beginning.

The X-factor with Apple’s vaperware ban is Bluetooth — using apps to control hardware devices. All sorts of things that are banned from the App Store are adequately, if not equally, accessible via the web. The HKMaps.live app is a great example of that: the hkmaps.live website offers almost the exact same features and experience as the native app Apple yanked from the App Store. (To be clear, I oppose Apple’s decision in that case — I simply feel better about it knowing that iPhone-owning Hongkongers still have access to the same information.)

Hardware is different. Web apps can’t access Bluetooth. Without a native app there is no workaround. From Pax’s well-argued response to Apple’s ban:

At PAX, we are committed to delivering technology that enables adults to make educated, informed choices. Millions of consumers in 34 legal states, including a large number of medical patients and veterans, rely on the PAX Mobile App to control their session size, set the correct temperature and have lockout abilities to prevent children from accessing our devices. Last Tuesday, we announced our new PodID feature, which — in light of the current threats posed by the illicit market — provides consumers with unprecedented access to information about what’s in their pods, including strain information, cannabinoid and terpene profiles, access to state-regulated test results and more.

There are exceptions to almost every rule, and if Apple is considering exceptions to its vaping ban — and they should be — they should start with companies like Pax, whose apps cannot be replicated on the web and whose products can and often are used in legal, medically-sanctioned ways. 


  1. Unless it’s on Wall Street, where it’s called “investing” and is A-OK. ↩︎

  2. Which of course raises the obvious and long-debated solution to any dispute regarding Apple’s unconstrained control over what is allowed in the App Store: allowing apps to be sideloaded. Allow iOS to work like MacOS — where only App Store apps are allowed by default but users have the option to also install apps from identified developers. That would be a solution to the problem of Apple’s capricousness and/or moral rectitude — but the full ramifications of allowing sideloading on iOS aren’t simple at all. It’s a complicated situation that would require a complicated explication, and to pretend that it’s only about Apple protecting its 15-30 percent revenue cut — although undeniably that’s a huge factor — is disingenuous. ↩︎︎


Huawei’s Upcoming Android Tablet Looks Like an iPad Pro With a Hole-Punch Display 

What is it like to go though life without an ounce of shame or pride or respect for the creativity and hard work of others?

President Trump’s Handwritten Notes at Today’s Chopper Talk, Presumably on His Way to Austin to Tour Apple’s Mac Pro Factory 

These are not the notes of a man who’s losing his mind (and eyesight). No siree Bob. Everything is A-OK with this guy.

Amazon Will Pay $0 in Taxes on $11,000,000,000 in Profit for 2018 

Kristin Myers, reporting for Yahoo Finance:

According to a report from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), Amazon will pay nothing in federal income taxes for the second year in a row.

Thanks to the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), Amazon’s federal tax responsibility is 21% (down from 35% in previous years). But with the help of tax breaks, according to corporate filings, Amazon won’t be paying a dime to Uncle Sam despite posting more than $11.2 billion in profits in 2018.

That’s fucked up. Not Amazon’s fault, though — it’s our corrupt tax laws.

Apple Has Locked Guilherme Rambo Out of His Developer Account Since September 

Guilherme Rambo:

Determined to get someone on the phone, I used my employer’s developer account to be able to reach the phone support page, where I entered my number. Developer support then called me, and I gave my previous case number to a nice person on the other end of the phone, who explained that my case had been escalated to a supervisor, who then escalated it to their supervisor, and that I would hear back from them “soon”. This was in mid September. In early October, I called again and was told I would receive an e-mail explaining the situation, I haven’t.

More recently, I tried calling again and got to talk with a supervisor, who said I would be getting an e-mail with instructions to get my access restored. During the call, they told me my developer account is currently “inactive”. I followed up over e-mail a couple of days later and got a generic response that “the internal team is still investigating the issue” and thanking me for my patience.

Like I mentioned before, the problem began in August. So far I’ve tried every possible private communication channel before deciding to make this story public. It’s worth mentioning that I didn’t get any e-mail or call from Apple warning about any sort of action being taken against my developer account. Apple always says that “running to the press doesn’t help”. Unfortunately, they haven’t responded in any way, even when I tried reaching out through internal contacts that I have. So the only option I have left now is to “run to the press”.

It’s bad enough that his developer account has been disabled for nearly three months. It’s downright Kafka-esque that he hasn’t been told why and can’t get an answer from Apple.

Pure speculation on my part, but unsaid in Rambo’s write-up of this story is that he’s not just any random developer. Rambo is extraordinarily talented at what I would describe as digital spelunking — he explores the internals of beta OS releases and pokes at beta APIs and he finds things that weren’t supposed to have been exposed. And when he does, he publishes his findings. It would be quite a coincidence if that’s not the conflict at the center of his account having been disabled — that someone at Apple got pissed off and impetuously ordered Rambo’s account disabled, and now they don’t want to explain it.

Or, you know, maybe it’s just a simple mix-up with Rambo’s billing information. Could have happened to anyone sort of thing. Right?

Trump to Visit Apple’s Mac Pro Plant in Austin Tomorrow 

CNBC:

The White House confirmed on Sunday that President Trump will tour Apple’s manufacturing plant in Austin, Texas, on Wednesday.

This ought to be good.

Android Camera Bug Allowed Attackers to Access Camera and Microphone Surreptitiously, Without Permission 

Checkmarx:

After a detailed analysis of the Google Camera app, our team found that by manipulating specific actions and intents, an attacker can control the app to take photos and/or record videos through a rogue application that has no permissions to do so. Additionally, we found that certain attack scenarios enable malicious actors to circumvent various storage permission policies, giving them access to stored videos and photos, as well as GPS metadata embedded in photos, to locate the user by taking a photo or video and parsing the proper EXIF data. This same technique also applied to Samsung’s Camera app.

In doing so, our researchers determined a way to enable a rogue application to force the camera apps to take photos and record video, even if the phone is locked or the screen is turned off. Our researchers could do the same even when a user was is in the middle of a voice call.

Fixed in software updates from Google and Samsung before Checkmarx published this report, but it’s impossible to say if it had been exploited previously. An exploit like this would have been of keen interest to government spook agencies looking for ways to target individuals.

Also, as Dan Goodin reports for Ars Technica, Google has no idea how many Android phones out there remain completely vulnerable to this exploit.

Dolby Cinema Exclusive Poster for ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ 

Now this is how you design a movie poster. Yeah, yeah, yeah — there need to be posters featuring the stars of the movie, too. But as a simple teaser, this poster is magnificent, with a style paying perfect homage to Ralph McQuarrie’s intricate concept art for the original trilogy. This poster works as well in 2019 as it would have in 1977. Bravo.

(Via Matthew Panzarino — the replies to his tweet have links to higher-resolution versions.)

The Talk Show: ‘Maximally Thin’ 

Very special guest Casey Johnston joins the show to talk about the butterfly MacBook keyboard saga and the just-released 16-inch MacBook Pro, with its all new scissor-switch keyboard design.

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Energy Startup Backed by Bill Gates Achieves Solar Breakthrough 

Matt Egan, reporting for CNN Business:

Heliogen, a clean energy company that emerged from stealth mode on Tuesday, said it has discovered a way to use artificial intelligence and a field of mirrors to reflect so much sunlight that it generates extreme heat above 1,000 degrees Celsius. […]

The breakthrough means that, for the first time, concentrated solar energy can be used to create the extreme heat required to make cement, steel, glass and other industrial processes. In other words, carbon-free sunlight can replace fossil fuels in a heavy carbon-emitting corner of the economy that has been untouched by the clean energy revolution. […] Cement, for example, accounts for 7% of global CO2 emissions, according to the International Energy Agency.

Sounds like a fantastic breakthrough.

‘Meth: We’re On It’ 

South Dakota’s new meth awareness campaign was all over Twitter last night and all over the news this morning because of its attention-demanding slogan: “Meth: We’re On It”. My knee-jerk reaction was the same as many others who see this as an outrageously egregious mistake: How could they have missed the double entendre in this slogan?

But give it a second thought. Of course they knew. The whole point is the double entendre, and the attention they knew it would draw. Just look at the domain name they chose. They are in no way using humor to belittle South Dakotans addicted to methamphetamine — they are using humor to burst through the apathy around the issue. A campaign with the same budget and an anodyne slogan like “Just Say No” or “We’re Here to Help” would have gotten zero attention inside South Dakota, let alone nationwide. But here we are, one day after the campaign launched, and South Dakota’s meth problem is at the top of the news nationwide. That’s not good advertising; that’s great advertising.

Erika Hall nails it:

“I lost me to meth.” made everyone laugh and look away.

“Meth. We’re on it.” is a fantastic double entendre that gets everyone to laugh and look again.

Starting with a self-aware joke is so much better than all of the sanctimonious anti-drug campaigns that end up as jokes.

Humorless dullards complaining about the half-million-dollar budget being a complete waste of money are missing the point. Not only is this not a waste of money, it might be the most bang for the buck for any state-sponsored ad campaign in history.

Another tell: the graphic design of the campaign is stellar. Good typography, great logo, great photography.

Apple Is Removing All Vaping Apps From Its App Store 

Ina Fried and Mike Allen, reporting for Axios:

What’s happening: The company has never allowed the sale of vape cartridges directly from apps. But there were apps that let people control the temperature and lighting of their vape pens, and others provided vaping-related news, social networks and games.

Apple in a statement to Axios: “We take great care to curate the App Store as a trusted place for customers, particularly youth, to download apps. We’re constantly evaluating apps, and consulting the latest evidence, to determine risks to users’ health and well-being. Recently, experts ranging from the CDC to the American Heart Association have attributed a variety of lung injuries and fatalities to e-cigarette and vaping products, going so far as to call the spread of these devices a public health crisis and a youth epidemic.”

I think I’m OK with this overall, but it’s a close call. The stuff about selling cartridges, and sharing news — it’s fine for that stuff to be out of the App Store because you can get it on the web. But Bluetooth stuff where apps were used as the interface for controlling hardware — web apps can’t do that (nor should they be able to). There is no alternative to a native app, and native apps are only available on the App Store. This would be an easy call to make (and would have been made from the get-go by Apple) if vaping were illegal. But it’s not illegal.

Kolide 

My thanks to Kolide for sponsoring last week at DF. Kolide is a new Slack app that messages employees when their Mac, Windows, or Linux device is not compliant with security best-practices or policy.

With this app, Kolide will notify users or groups when a device is out of compliance along with clear instructions about what is wrong, and step by step instructions to remediate the issue themselves. They can even confirm in real-time that they resolved the problem with an interactive button inside the Slack message!

Unlike most endpoint security solutions, Kolide was designed with user privacy in mind. Your users will know what data is collected about their device, who can see that data, and can even view the full source code of the agent that is run on the device.

Kolide is already used by hundreds of fast growing companies who want to level-up their device security without locking down their devices. Try Kolide’s new product for free for 30 days for your entire fleet.

1Password Takes $200M Accel Investment 

Good roundup of links and commentary by the inimitable Michael Tsai. The 1Password founders seem confident that they can expand rapidly into the enterprise world without losing the soul that has made their indie consumer app so beloved (and trusted). Most companies that have tried this, however, have failed. (Dropbox is the one that pops to mind first.)

Designer AirPods Cases 

Kaitlin Serio, writing for PurseBlog:

If you’re one of the many who go sans a long, dangly wire and you love designer goods then we’ve got you covered. Unsurprisingly, designers like Burberry, Bottega Veneta and Dior are adding AirPod cases to their lines of tech accessories. Louis Vuitton has also tapped into this trend, though the Mini Trunk AirPod Case is not yet available online for sale.

AirPods seems downright cheap when you’re putting them in a $560 case. I’m curious how many of these will fit a sidewise AirPods Pro case.

Google Stadia Launch Seems a Little Rocky 

Only 12 games for now, and they’re all old titles. And in this Twitter thread, there’s a link to a Reddit AMA where someone from the Stadia team was “offering to hand-deliver kits in the Bay Area to make up for the shipping confusion.” All sorts of missing features and confusion about which devices work. Sounds like how you’d think Apple TV games would’ve rolled out, but instead, Apple Arcade rolled out perfectly.


16-Inch MacBook Pro First Impressions: Great Keyboard, Outstanding Speakers

If You Try Sometimes, You Just Might Find, You Get What You Need

Apple today released its much-rumored new 16-inch MacBook Pro.

It is full of good news.

Yesterday, Apple held a series of roundtable briefings for the media in New York. There was an on-the-record introduction followed by an off-the-record series of demos.1 The introduction was led by MacBook Pro product manager Shruti Haldea, along with senior director of Mac product marketing Tom Boger and Phil Schiller. Attending media received loaner units to review. Let’s not even pretend that a few hours is enough time for a proper review, but it’s more than enough time to establish some strong broad impressions. Here’s what you need to know, in what I think is the order of importance.

The Keyboard

We got it all: a return of scissor key mechanisms in lieu of butterfly switches, a return of the inverted-T arrow key arrangement, and a hardware Escape key. Apple stated explicitly that their inspiration for this keyboard is the Magic Keyboard that ships with iMacs. At a glance, it looks very similar to the butterfly-switch keyboards on the previous 15-inch MacBook Pros. But don’t let that fool you — it feels completely different. There’s a full 1mm of key travel; the butterfly keyboards only have 0.5mm. This is a very good compromise on key travel, balancing the superior feel and accuracy of more travel with the goal of keeping the overall device thin. (The new 16-inch MacBook Pro is, in fact, a little thicker than the previous 15-inch models overall.) Calling it the “Magic Keyboard” threads the impossible marketing needle they needed to thread: it concedes everything while confessing nothing. Apple has always had a great keyboard that could fit in a MacBook — it just hasn’t been in a MacBook the last three years.

There’s also more space between keys — about 0.5mm. This difference is much more noticeable by feel than by sight. Making it easier to feel the gaps between keys really does make a difference. Like the 15-inch MacBook Pro, all 16-inch models come with the Touch Bar. But even there, there’s a slight improvement: it’s been nudged further above the top row of keys, to help avoid accidental touches. No haptic feedback or any other functional changes to the Touch Bar, though.

It’s hard not to speculate that all of these changes are, to some degree, a de-Jony-Ive-ification of the keyboard. For all we on the outside know, this exact same keyboard might have shipped today even if Jony Ive were still at Apple.2 I’m not sure I know anyone, though, who would disagree that over the last 5-6 years, Apple’s balance of how things work versus how things look has veered problematically toward making things look better — hardware and software — at the expense of how they function.

Allow me to fixate on one particular detail: the arrow keys. The only reason to switch from the classic upside-down T arrangement to full-size left and right arrow keys is that it makes the keyboard look better. With the upside-down T arrangement, the gaps above the left and right arrow look a little funny, in the abstract. But those gaps serve a huge functional purpose — they make it so much easier to put your fingers on those keys without looking at the keyboard. The gaps give you something to feel for. Having used recent MacBook family keyboards for months at a time over the past few years, the arrow key arrangement has been my biggest annoyance by far. More than the low-travel keys, more than the missing hardware Escape button, more than narrow gaps between keys. I just could never get used to not having those gaps in the arrow key layout. I resorted to putting small strips of gaffer tape on the lower half of the left and right keys to have something to feel for.

What Apple emphasized yesterday in its presentation is not that the butterfly-switch keyboards are problematic or unpopular. They can’t do that — they still include them on every MacBook other than this new 16-inch model. And even if they do eventually switch the whole lineup to this new keyboard — and I think they will, but of course, when asked about that, they had no comment on any future products — it’s not Apple’s style to throw one of their old products under the proverbial bus. What Apple emphasized is simply that they listened to the complaints from professional MacBook users. They recognized how important the Escape key is to developers — they even mentioned Vim by name during a developer tool demo. And they emphasized that they studied what makes for a good keyboard. What reduces mistakes, what increases efficiency. And they didn’t throw away the good parts of the butterfly keyboard — including excellent backlighting and especially the increased stability, where keys go down flat even when pressed off-center. The keys on this keyboard don’t wobble like the keys on pre-2016 MacBook Pro keyboards do.

Typing is very quiet on the new keyboard, and the sound it does make is satisfying. Less click-ity, more chunk-ity.

In short, Apple did not simply go back to the old style keyboards. It’s a new design, with the best attributes of the old 2015 keyboards and the recent butterfly-switch keyboards.

Lastly, Apple seems very confident that this new keyboard design is durable and reliable. The new 16-inch MacBook Pro is not covered by Apple’s keyboard service program, because they apparently don’t need to be.

I expected Apple to do this — to correct the mistakes of the previous keyboard. But I feared that they wouldn’t, out of stubborn pride or just plain bad taste in keyboard design. It is a bit frustrating that it took them three years to do it, but they did it. This is what their modern MacBook keyboards should have been like all along.

Audio

A keyboard reboot we all saw coming. Here’s one I did not: the new 16-inch MacBook Pro has radically improved built-in speakers. This is the audio equivalent of going from chunky pixels to retina displays. It’s that big a difference.

It’s not simply about being louder, although they are louder at maximum volume. They just sound impossibly better. They don’t merely sound like good laptop speakers — they sound like good dedicated portable speakers, period. In a small room, you can credibly use the 16-inch MacBook Pro to play music as though it’s an entertainment speaker system. And at maximum volume they really are a lot louder — without the sort of distortion we’ve all come to expect from laptop speakers at high volume.

Apple’s demos pitted the new MacBook Pro against high-end models from Dell, Razer, and (I think) HP. It was an embarrassing comparison. I of course can see why Apple’s own demo compared the new MacBook Pro against laptops from competitors, but the difference is just as stark when compared to the 15-inch MacBook Pro from 2018.

In addition to sounding holy-shit-I-can’t-believe-these-are-laptop-speakers better, the new speakers also vibrate less when the volume is high. Other laptop speakers, including Apple’s, pump audio through the keyboard. You can feel the whole machine vibrate with your fingers on the keys. Not so much with the new 16-inch MacBook Pro, even with the volume pumped all the way. Apple credits this to force-canceling woofers. Speaker drivers are paired back-to-back, emitting sound both up and down, which cancels out the physical force that creates vibrations and distorted sound. They provide some real bass.

The amazing acoustic engineering that led to the HomePod and AirPods Pro is now starting to pay dividends in every product Apple makes with speakers. iPhone and iPad speakers have gotten really good too, but with those products, there’s been a steady improvement year after year. I can’t recall one single iPhone or iPad where the difference in sound quality over the previous generation was this significant.

Really, I don’t think there’s anything I can write here that will convince you how good these speakers sound. However good you think I’m saying they sound, they sound way better than that.

There’s more! Audio input is improved as well. The 16-inch MacBook Pro has a new 3-microphone array that Apple describes as “studio quality”. They claim you can credibly use it to record a podcast — a bold claim. The new three-microphone array certainly sounds noticeably better than the old built-in microphone. Here are some samples I recorded last night, at the desk in my basement where I usually record my podcast.

2018 15-inch MacBook Pro:

The new 2019 16-inch MacBook Pro:

My iPhone 11 Pro:

Shure Beta 87A microphone connected to an Onyx Blackjack XLR interface — the setup I use for my show:

Would I recommend the new built-in MacBook Pro microphone for recording a podcast? No. But would I be willing to use it for my own show in a pinch? Yes. And it should be a great improvement to audio for teleconferencing and FaceTime.

The New Display

The new 16-inch display has a native resolution of 3072 × 1920 pixels, with a density of 226 pixels per inch. The old 15-inch retina display was 2880 × 1800 pixels, with a density of 220 pixels per inch. Apple didn’t just use the same number of pixels and make the pixels bigger — they actually made the pixels slightly smaller and added more of them to make a bigger display. Brightness and color gamut are unchanged. No rounded corners (like on the iPad Pro and iPhone X/XS/11) — the display is still a good old-fashioned rectangle with pure corners.

Computery Stuff

The 16-inch MacBook Pro is the new “big” MacBook Pro — it replaces the previous 15-inch MacBook Pro in the lineup at the same prices: $2400 for a 6-core base model and $2800 for the 8-core base model.

The Intel chips are the same as the ones available on the May 2019 15-inch MacBook Pro. So it goes, until Apple switches to its own chips for Macs — these are still the best laptop chips Intel makes. It’s a bit unusual, to say the least, that a major update to the flagship MacBook uses the same CPUs as the generation it’s replacing.

But there are performance improvements. An all-new thermal system means the chips can run at peak performance longer. Graphics are faster, with the debut of AMD’s Radeon Pro 5000M series GPUs. The base models come with 16 GB of faster DDR4 RAM, and can now be configured with up to 64 GB. Apple also now offers up to 8 TB of SSD storage, which they believe to be the first 8 TB SSD on the market.

The port situation is unchanged: four Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports, two on each side, and a headphone jack.

The 16-inch MacBook Pro does have a slightly larger footprint than the old 15-inch models. It’s slightly heavier too (4.3 vs. 4.02 pounds) and as mentioned before, it’s slightly thicker (1.62 vs. 1.55 cm). But in hand and in use, it effectively feels the same size as the 15-inch MacBook Pro.

Conclusion

It feels a bit silly to be excited about a classic arrow key layout, a hardware Escape key, and key switches that function reliably and feel good when you type with them, but that’s where we are. The risk of being a Mac user is that we’re captive to a single company’s whims.

No one would ever suggest that the steering wheel for a car be designed by people who don’t drive. But yet somehow the entire Macintosh world has spent the last three years dealing with or avoiding keyboards that were seemingly designed by people who don’t type.3 The whole saga of the butterfly keyboards — their unreliable switches, poor typing feel, and anti-functional layout — betrays a certain arrogance. The more powerful an organization — a corporation, a nation, a sports team, whatever — the more at risk that organization is to hubris. It’s power that allows one to act on hubris.

We shouldn’t be celebrating the return of longstanding features we never should have lost in the first place. But Apple’s willingness to revisit these decisions — their explicit acknowledgment that, yes, keyboards are meant to be typed upon, not gazed upon — is, if not cause for a party, at the very least cause for a jubilant toast.

This is a MacBook you can once again argue is the best laptop hardware money can buy. 


  1. The demos all included the new Mac Pro too, which they announced will be shipping in “December”. No additional information on Mac Pro pricing until it ships, alas. ↩︎

  2. Actually, Ive is still listed on Apple’s leadership page as Chief Design Officer. ↩︎︎

  3. One could argue too, that in addition to keyboards designed by people who don’t type, modern MacBooks offer ports selected by people who never connect peripherals to their computers. But while USB-C is clearly taking over slower than Apple expected, it is taking over. Apple still thinks it will be proven right on going all-in on USB-C for MacBook ports. ↩︎︎


I Shit You Not: Disney+ Version of ‘Star Wars’ Alters the Han/Greedo Scene Again 

The 4K version on Disney+ — which launched today — was recut again while George Lucas was still in charge. If he hadn’t sold the franchise to Disney we’d eventually have Han armed with a squirt gun. 🔫

The Information: Apple Held 1,000-Person Internal Meeting Revealing Plans for 2022 AR Headset and 2023 AR Glasses 

Wayne Ma, Alex Heath, and Nick Wingfield, reporting for the subscriber-only The Information:

Mike Rockwell, who heads the team responsible for Apple’s AR and virtual reality initiatives, led the meeting, which included new details about the design and features of the AR headset, these people said. The product timetables run counter to recent analyst and media reports that said an Apple AR device could arrive as early as next year.

Pretty sure the only source for that is Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman. 2020 never seemed realistic to me.

The group presentation was attended by enough employees to fill the 1,000-seat Steve Jobs Theater at Apple headquarters, suggesting Apple has a sizable team working on AR projects.

This is an extraordinary leak. Either Apple very rarely holds internal events like this about future products, or, when they do, nothing leaks about them.

Apple’s headset, code-named N301, will offer a hybrid of AR and VR capabilities, according to people familiar with the device. It resembles the Oculus Quest, a Facebook virtual reality headset released earlier this year, but with a sleeker design, these people said. Cameras will be mounted on the outside of the device, allowing people to see and interact with their physical surroundings, they said. Apple wants to make heavy use of fabrics and lightweight materials to ensure the device is comfortable to wear for extended periods of time, executives said in the presentation in October.

Something even remotely like an Oculus Quest doesn’t seem like an Apple product. But who knows.

In contrast, Apple’s AR glasses, code-named N421, present bigger technical challenges than the headset and are further from release. They are meant to be worn all day, and current prototypes look like high-priced sunglasses with thick frames that house the battery and chips, according to a person who has seen them.

Additionally, Apple has explored the use of lenses for the glasses that darken when people are using AR on them, a way of letting others know the wearer of the glasses is distracted, said another person involved with the project.

That window-shade feature sounds dystopic.

And why would people who don’t need glasses want to wear thick glasses all day? And they think it will replace phones in a decade? Do we really want our phone display in front of our eyes all day? I just don’t get it.

People familiar with the October meeting said it was unusual for Apple, one of the most secretive companies in Silicon Valley, to brief so many employees at once about product roadmaps.

To say the least.

Morning Brew 

My thanks to Morning Brew for once again sponsoring DF. There’s a reason over 1 million people start their day with Morning Brew — the daily email that delivers the latest news from Wall Street to Silicon Valley. Business news doesn’t have to be dry and dense… make your mornings more enjoyable, for free.

I’ve been subscribed for over six months. It’s a great daily read — concise, fun, and a clean crisp design. You get one email each morning and that’s it. I recommend it.

Carfection Shoots Bullitt Mustang Film Using iPhone 11 Pro 

Carfection:

Our sister channel CNET challenged us to shoot an entire film using only an iPhone 11 Pro. We reviewed the Bullitt Mustang (the special edition of the Mustang GT) and tried to get as close to the quality of our regular Carfection films as possible.

Impressive results (and a very cool car).

CNet’s Andrew Hoyle has a story and behind-the-scenes discussion with cinematographer Charlie Rose.

(Via Gokul Bhargav.)

iOS 13.2.2 Released, With Fix for the Bug That Was Massacring Apps in the Background 

Chance Miller, 9to5Mac:

If you’re wondering what happened to iOS 13.2.1, Apple released it last week exclusively for the HomePod. The initial HomePod 13.2 update caused some people to experience bricked HomePods, and Apple released iOS 13.2.1 to solve those problems for HomePod owners.

The biggest change in iOS 13.2.2 is a fix for issues related to background applications and multitasking. This RAM management problem caused applications to quit when running in the background, which significantly hindered multitasking performance and capabilities.

So 13.2.0 was released for iPhones and iPads and HomePods, but it bricked HomePods and caused apps to be killed erroneously while multitasking on iPhones and iPads. 13.2.1 was only for HomePods. 13.2.2 is only for iPhones and iPads — but on iPads it’s called “iPadOS”, even though on HomePods it’s called “iOS”, even though a HomePod isn’t really what anyone would consider an iOS device.

Got it.

Every Horse Emoji, Ranked 

Jelena Woehr:

Believe it or not, this horse’s lack of eyes may not limit athletic performance. Many blind horses do well under saddle. However, the missing right hindlimb will severely limit potential for soundness even as a companion. Discuss euthanasia with vet.

For reasons I will not go into here, at this moment, I’ve got emoji on my mind today. This thread is delightful.

Amazon Patches Ring Video Doorbell Vulnerability That Could Allow Hackers to Breach Owner’s Wi-Fi Network  

Computing:

Once the device is reset, it starts the process of pairing itself with the owner’s Wi-Fi network. Because the exchange of information between the device and the app is performed via an unsecured HTTP connection, it enables a hacker within range of the Wi-Fi network to intercept the login details.

The patch released by Ring to mitigate the vulnerability ensures that the device uses an HTTPS connection while broadcasting a Wi-Fi signal for the phone to grab. The connection is also secured through a digital certificate, signed by the firm and validated by the app.

Ring was using HTTP? That seems less like a mistake and more like gross incompetence.

Inessential Turns 20 

Brent Simmons:

Old proverb: “The best time to start a blog is 20 years ago. The second-best time is today.”

Bond Film Title Anagrams 

“Overtired Newsroom” and “English Tutor Hoedown” are both amazing, in their own ways. Whole thread is very fun, including great poster art. 🍸

Apple TV, Apple TV, Apple TV, and Apple TV+ 

Dustin Curtis:

Apple TV is a hardware device.

Apple TV is an app on Apple TV that curates content you can buy from Apple and also content you can stream through other installed apps (but not all apps, and there is no way to tell which ones).

Apple TV is an app on iOS/iPadOS devices that operates similarly to Apple TV on Apple TV. Apple TV on iOS/iPadOS syncs playback and watch history with Apple TV on Apple TV, but only if the iOS/iPadOS device has the same apps installed as the Apple TV — and not all apps are available on all platforms. Apple TV is also an app on macOS, but it does not show content that can only be streamed from external apps on an Apple TV or iOS/iPadOS device.

When you spell it all out, as Curtis does here, it really does expose how confusing a lot of this is.

Electron Apps Are Being Rejected From the Mac App Store for Calling Private APIs 

Michael Tsai:

So there are a multiple problems here:

  1. It’s (apparently) impossible for Chromium to get competitive performance and battery life without using private API, which Safari freely uses.

  2. Apple probably has good reasons for keeping these APIs private.

  3. Private API has always been banned, but Apple has been accepting these apps for years and then abruptly stopped without any notice.

  4. Apps using Electron probably didn’t know that they were even using private API. Neither Xcode nor Application Loader reports this, and App Review was accepting the apps.

  5. The rule is not being enforced equally.

Doesn’t seem clear yet if this is a new policy, or just random App Store approval capriciousness. If enforced, this will require significant changes to Chromium, the rendering engine of Google Chrome that’s the foundation of Electron.

Nice Feature on Gus Mueller in the Mac App Store 

The Mac App Store:

Sure, it’s one of the fastest ways to crop, resize, and add text to an image. And yes, it offers more than 100 photo effects as well as nondestructive filters. But the appeal of Acorn has always been that it doesn’t overwhelm you. In fact, Mueller’s inspiration for coding the app was largely creative. “I was curious what it would take to write an image editor,” he says.

Nice little feature. Acorn remains one of my very favorite and most-used apps.

Guardian Firewall 

My thanks to Guardian Firewall for sponsoring this week at DF. Guardian Firewall is a personal data protection solution for iOS devices that offers system-wide blocking and detection of user location tracking, email receipt tracking, and other forms of undesired information collection, and additionally secures all network traffic using a VPN coupled with a lightweight custom-designed firewall.

Sounds complicated, right? Well, behind the scenes, it is. Guardian Firewall is doing a lot of clever stuff to block all these trackers and keep your network speeds super fast. From the user’s perspective, it couldn’t be simpler. It’s a simple app that starts with one big button to toggle Guardian protection. That’s all you need to do. In the second tab, Guardian keeps a log of all the trackers it identified and blocked. My list is hundreds long just from today. Guardian does one thing and does it really well.

Guardian is a small but fast-growing startup aiming to help users fight back against ubiquitous data collection by entities attempting to monetize and/or exploit their personal data. Over the next 90 days, Guardian plans to launch new features for power users, including custom firewall rules, as well as support for additional platforms. Founder and CEO Will Strafach has been a longtime mainstay in the iOS security community.

I’ve been running Guardian Firewall for weeks on my iPhone. It’s everything you’d want it to be: invisible, seamless privacy protection. Nothing breaks, nothing feels slow. It’s a service I’m happy to pay for and a company I’m happy to support. You can try it for free — and read their excellent FAQ for details on how everything works.

AirPods Pro Replacement Tips 

Mike Rundle, on Twitter:

The killer feature of the AirPods Pro is the interchangeable silicone tips that click into place and don’t have to be mashed and misshapen to reattach like every other stupid pair of earbuds on the market.

On the other side, Juan Carlos Bagnell:

iFixit confirming my fears. AirPod Pros are un-repairable. Apple will only replace buds for “service”. Worse, they use a proprietary ear tip design, so you can’t swap to aftermarket tips (NO FOAM FOR YOU) until the grey market rips off the design.

Quinn Nelson, responding to Bagnell:

Replacement tips are $4 for a six pack. This design is vastly superior to the universal barrel design which for people with small ear canals (like me) hurts a ton. This is not something to criticize, imo. It’s okay to deviate from the norm if you can improve on it.

That really is the crux of it. Better necessarily implies different. Complaining that the AirPods Pro tips are custom-designed by Apple is like complaining back in 2015 that Apple Watch used custom strap connectors. It’s a better connector and there will be dozens of third-party options soon — by the end of this month, I bet.

‘Puts’ 

Rachel Siegel and Tony Romm, reporting for The Washington Post on Google’s acquisition of Fitbit:

The deal puts Alphabet, Google’s parent company, in a race against Apple when it comes to tracking fitness and health data.

Somehow, if it were the other way around — if Google’s wearable devices had the sales and cultural ubiquity of Apple Watch and AirPods, and Apple’s five-year wearable efforts had the market share and brand-awareness of Google’s — I highly doubt that The Post would posit Apple’s acquisition of Fitbit at a garbage bin price as their entry into the fitness tracking race against Google.

Android Wear launched over five years ago. Google has been in this race against Apple for close to a decade and they’ve gotten their ass handed to them.

Google to Acquire Fitbit for $2.1 Billion 

CNBC:

Google will pay $7.35 per share in cash for the acquisition, Fitbit said. Fitbit’s all time high share price was $51.90 on Aug. 5, 2015, a couple months after its stock market debut at $30.40. The deal is expected to close in 2020, according to the announcement.

Apple is showing that wearables are a huge market moving forward, and Apple is the only one getting it right so far. I don’t see Fitbit helping Google here.

Daisuke Wakabayashi:

The hardware business is very hard. Even if you “make it” and avoid burning all your cash, the best you can hope for is to be gobbled up by a giant. Nest (Google), Ring (Amazon), Eero (Amazon), Beats (Apple) and, now, Fitbit (Google).

Off the top of my head the only hardware startup of this era that’s seemingly standing on its own is Tesla — and its future remains questionable.

Ben Bajarin:

Fitbit 2019 revenue estimates are $1.45B so Google buying for $2.1B is not even 2x revenue.

When negotiating an acquisition 3x revenue is usually the baseline. This is telling about the state of Fitbit.

I don’t know anyone who’s bought a Fitbit device recently. I know runners and cyclists with Garmin watches, but I don’t know anyone still wearing a Fitbit.

Jason Snell on Apple’s Drive for Services Revenue 

Jason Snell, writing at Six Colors:

Consider the soul-sucking term ARPU. It stands for Average Revenue Per User (or, alternately, Unit), and it’s a useful-yet-noxious lens through which businesses can view their customers. Of course, businesses should be aware about how much revenue their customers are generating — the issue is more that focusing on ARPU is often a sign that a business is on a path that will attempt to wring every last penny out of its customers. It’s a sign of nickel-and-diming, sliding in hidden fees, and all sorts of other questionable practices that make sense if you’re looking at a balance sheet — but are so infuriating if you’re a customer.

Apple doesn’t do hidden fees. And its media subscription services are all good deals. Music and News have fair prices, and both of those require Apple to pay the content providers. $5/month for TV+ —  including family sharing — is a lower price than most people expected, and the free-first-year-with-hardware-purchase makes it even better. And Apple Arcade is an undeniable bargain at $5/month — again, including family sharing.

To me, every one of these feels exactly in line with putting the customer experience first. Compare and contrast with the high prices and bullshit tack-on fees from your cable and cell phone providers.

But then there’s iCloud storage — Apple’s original subscription service. The prices for iCloud’s storage tiers compare OK against competitors like Google, but I’d still like to see a significantly higher free base tier (Google offers 15 GB vs. Apple’s 5 GB). That miserly 5 GB free tier is emitting an evermore pungent nickel-and-diming aroma.

Apple’s Q4 2019 Results 

Nothing surprising overall. What struck me looking at the numbers is that while everyone is talking about Services, the “Wearables, Home, and Accessories” category — driven primarily by Apple Watch and AirPods — is growing fast too:

  • iPhone: $33.4B
  • Mac: $7.0B
  • iPad: $4.7B
  • Wearables: $6.5B
  • Services: $12.5B

Wearables are now bigger than iPad and will soon be bigger than the Mac. And the glasses are supposedly coming next year, and the $250 AirPods Pro just shipped.

The best charts for visualizing these results, as usual, are at Six Colors.

Shootout: Best Wireless In-Ear Charging Case Lid Sound Competition 

Wait for it.

‘Maintainable Code Is More Important Than Clever Code’ 

The Dropbox company blog, giving thanks to Python creator Guido van Rossum:

“There was a small number of really smart, really young coders who produced a lot of very clever code that only they could understand,” said van Rossum. “That is probably the right attitude to have when you’re a really small startup.”

But as the company grew, new engineers who joined couldn’t understand the code. Clever code is usually short and cryptic, written by and for the individual who came up with it, but is hard for anyone else to understand — and nearly impossible to maintain. Guido called this “cowboy coding culture”. He recognized its value in our early stages of trying to implement things quickly, but knew it wouldn’t be sustainable over time, so he decided to speak up in his own quiet way.

“When asked, I would give people my opinion that maintainable code is more important than clever code,” he said. “If I encountered clever code that was particularly cryptic, and I had to do some maintenance on it, I would probably rewrite it. So I led by example, and also by talking to other people.”

My very favorite quote along these lines is from Brian Kernighan: “Everyone knows that debugging is twice as hard as writing a program in the first place. So if you’re as clever as you can be when you write it, how will you ever debug it?”

The Talk Show: ‘With Ham I’d Be Better’ 

That’s right, another new episode of America’s favorite 3.5-star podcast, this time with first-time special guest Dave Mark. Topics include AirPods Pro, the subscription streaming war, and the Washington Nationals’ then-impending triumph over the Houston Astros in the World Series.

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iOS 13.2 Is Overzealously Killing Apps in the Background 

Marco Arment, on Twitter:

Major new bugs introduced in iOS 13.2:

  • background downloads often hang forever and never run

  • apps get killed in the background so aggressively that iOS effectively doesn’t offer multitasking anymore

… continuing the iOS 13 pattern of breaking long-held basic functionality. I’m sure Apple has good excuses about why their software quality is so shitty again. I hear the same thing over and over from people inside: they aren’t given enough time to fix bugs.

Your software quality is broken, Apple. Deeply, systemically broken. Get your shit together.

This bug where apps are getting killed soon after they’re backgrounded is driving me nuts. Start a YouTube video in Safari, switch to another app, go back to Safari — and the video loads from scratch and starts from the beginning.

If I could downgrade to 13.1.3 I probably would, even though it’d mean losing AirPods Pro support until 13.2.1 comes out — which perhaps erroneously presumes that this overzealous process reaping is a bug and not a “feature”.

Twitter to Stop Accepting Political Ads Globally 

Jack Dorsey, in a tweet thread:

For instance, it‘s not credible for us to say: “We’re working hard to stop people from gaming our systems to spread misleading info, buuut if someone pays us to target and force people to see their political ad… well… they can say whatever they want!” […]

This isn’t about free expression. This is about paying for reach. And paying to increase the reach of political speech has significant ramifications that today’s democratic infrastructure may not be prepared to handle. It’s worth stepping back in order to address.

Political advertising is a drop in the bucket of Twitter’s overall revenue, but that’s true of Facebook too. “The money matters to us” would be a terrible justification for Facebook’s policy of allowing political ads to spread falsehoods, but the money doesn’t even matter to them. Facebook is allowing political ads to spread falsehoods because Facebook wants political ads to spread falsehoods. There’s no other explanation.

Transparency Is Audio AR 

Ryan Jones, on Twitter:

You can FEEL the pressure equalize when you put in AirPods Pro, wow.

You can really feel the difference between AirPods Pro and other ear-canal-sealing earbuds when you chew something with them on. Totally different experience.

But my favorite is Transparency Mode. It’s like a personal soundtrack to the world. Nothing changes, just an extra audio layered added. Holy hell.

This comment crystalized a thought that I couldn’t quite put my finger on while trying to describe transparency mode: it is audio AR. That’s it.

Ryan Block on AirPods Pro vs. Bose QuietComfort 35 Headphones 

Ryan Block, on Twitter:

AirPods Pro update: brought them to a relatively (but not ridiculously) noisy cafe, and compared them with my daily driver Bose QC 35 II (v4.5.2).

Thus far, the AirPods Pro are, for me, noticeably better at both noise cancelation and sound isolation. I’m pretty surprised!

I’ve swapped back to the Boses a few times over the last hour. Each time the cafe music and noise has been significantly worse with the Boses over the AirPods, and I’ve had to listen to music at much higher volumes to drown it out. I was not at all expecting this outcome, tbqh.

I have the same Bose headphones, and I agree. AirPods Pro noise cancellation isn’t just good for earbud-style headphones — it’s very good noise cancellation period.

Anyone want to buy my Bose headphones? They’ve got a nice case.