Over a six month period, my colleague Luke Stark and I have been
studying how Uber drivers interact with the Uber app as part of a
research project funded by Microsoft FUSE Labs. Our research was
conducted primarily in Uber driver forums, and through interviews
with Uber drivers. We’ve observed that drivers across multiple
forums discuss the fake cars they see on their own residential
streets. One driver, who makes regular broadcasts advising
drivers about using the Uber system, even made a YouTube video to
show other drivers how the app sometimes displays cars that
Richard Lawler, writing for Engadget on Vizio’s IPO filing:
Vizio has made its name with impressive value-priced TVs that
don’t skimp on features (it’s also a leader in the soundbar
market, and has made attempts at selling tablets and phones too).
According to the filing, Vizio has sold more than 15 million
smart TVs, with about 61 percent of them connected as of the end
of June. While viewers are benefiting from those connections,
streaming over 3 billion hours of content, Vizio says it’s
watching them too, with Inscape software embedded in the screens
that can track anything you’re playing on it — even if it’s from
cable TV, videogame systems and streaming devices.
We’ve never heard of Inscape before, but as explained in the S-1
Vizio filed today, it’s based on ACR (automatic content
recognition) software licensed from a third party, and viewers can
opt-out of participating in it while maintaining other connected
features. That’s actually fairly common in modern TVs, and others
like LG and Samsung have already rolled out features based on the
tech to do things like integrate with TV shows, or display ads
based on what the TV is showing. ACR software recognizes the video
being displayed, matches it up and phones home the data. According
to Vizio, its Inscape platform can pull some 100 billion
anonymized datapoints from 8 million of its connected TVs every
day. That kind of data can be used for ratings, and is valuable to
both advertisers and content providers.
Why would Comcast Corp.’s NBCUniversal unit be hunting for new
media deals, and talking to companies like Vice Media, BuzzFeed
and Business Insider, as The Wall Street Journal reported
One explanation is that the cable giant is chasing young consumers
who aren’t watching TV as much as past generations did. This chart
illustrates the situation.
According to these numbers from Nielsen, among those 18-24 years old, TV viewing has dropped 32 percent since 2010. That’s the youngest group in the chart, but judging by my 11-year-old son’s habits, this trend is even more striking for kids. He hardly watches any traditional TV at all. Just YouTube, Netflix, and movies.
These videos are always funny, and always make me feel old. Very old. But this one also seems to suggest that a hunch I’ve had for the last few years is going to prove true: that the word phone — just plain un-prefixed, unmodified “phone” — is evolving to mean “a pocket-sized touch screen computer with a cellular network connection”. And for these kids, phone really just means “pocket-sized computer”, because they just presume the use of a touch screen and wireless networking.
iTunes is designed by the Junk Drawer Method: when enough cruft
has built up that somebody tells the team to redesign it, while
also adding and heavily promoting these great new features in the
UI that are really important to the company’s other interests and
are absolutely non-negotiable, the only thing they can really do
is hide all of the old complexity in new places. […]
I have plenty of plausible theories on why iTunes didn’t get the
iCloud Photos treatment — why Apple Music was bolted onto this
ancient, crufty, legacy app instead of discontinuing iTunes,
dropping its obsolete functions, and starting fresh with a new app
and a CloudKit-based service. (Engineering resources, time to
market, iPods, Windows, and people with slow internet
Exactamundo. iCloud Photos gets right everything that Apple Music gets wrong. Like Marco, I can imagine many reasons why Apple took a different route with music than the clean-slate approach they took with photos. I’m not in a position to judge what Apple should have done. All I’m saying is that the difference in results is stark. I understand the design and purpose of Photos (the app) on both Mac and iOS, and I understand how iCloud Photo Library is supposed to work. And, for me — and seemingly, almost everyone — that’s how iCloud Photo Library does work. You sign up, you enable it on all your devices, you wait for the initial sync to finish, and boom — now all your photos are available on all your devices, all the time. I don’t think this would have worked out as well if they had kept going with iPhoto on the Mac. They needed the clean break — both in terms of design and in terms of engineering.
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Check out their website to see just how nice their design work is. Bushel is “device management” for people with discerning taste.
It’s been an interesting and confusing day. I arrived at Apple
this morning to talk to them about my issues with Apple Music and
to hopefully fix my problems. The good news is that I have about
99 percent of my music back. […]
Apple said my music was never deleted and that it was in the cloud
the entire time. Before Apple Music, iTunes Match would show me
all of my songs — matched, uploaded, and purchased. However, if
you turn off iCloud Music Library and Apple Music, iTunes Match
will only show your purchased content now. There is no way to
separate iTunes Match from the iCloud Music Library. Before, you
would turn off iTunes Match — now you would turn off iCloud Music
So now I have the iTunes Match service that I pay for separately,
and Apple Music, both of which use iCloud Music Library. There is
really no way to get away from them if you want to use the latest
and greatest from Apple.
I’ll admit, I’m still trying to get my head around how this works.
As clear as mud how this all works. Why not make Apple Music a separate standalone app? Apple Music: subscription service with DRM. iTunes: music you own, no DRM.
From a new iPhone page, “Why There’s Nothing Quite Like iPhone”:
Also amazing? The fact that there are over a million and a half
capable, beautiful, inspiring apps on the App Store. And each and
every one was reviewed and approved by a team of real live humans.
With great taste. And great suggestions. And great ideas.
Yes, thank goodness for those ideas and suggestions from App Store reviewers that make our apps so great. And thanks even more for their great taste that keeps all but the best 100 or so Flappy Bird ripoffs out of the store.
Update: What irks here, fundamentally, is that Apple is taking credit for the great apps in the App Store, rather than giving credit to the third-party developers who make them. This plays straight into the widespread misconception that everyone who makes iOS apps works for Apple.
Some interesting graphs from Quartz. Amazon wins on growth. Walmart wins on profit — but we all know Amazon doesn’t even try to turn a profit. More importantly, Walmart’s revenue remains more than five times that of Amazon.
Apple leads the pack, but the pack is still a pack made up of
smartwatches. No one really knows how big this market is going to
get and how long it’ll have steam. Let me repeat that for
emphasis: No one really knows. So feel free to point and laugh at
anyone estimating the next five years of smartwatch sales.
Remember when Windows Phone was going to overtake
Good. Times. We laughed ourselves until we died and then we were
reborn, shiny and chrome.
Craig Hockenberry on the various ways Apple treats the Mac App Store as a second-class citizen to the iOS App Store: no TestFlight (which means no testing betas against production iCloud servers), no analytics, and, just to rub salt in the wound, they haven’t applied the new rule that disallows app reviews from users running beta versions of the OS.
I think the thing that bothers me most about this situation is the
inequality. Mac developers aren’t getting the same value from the
App Store as their counterparts on iOS. We all pay Apple 30% of
our earnings to reach our customers, we should all get the same
functionality for that fee.
Low on spoilers, particularly by modern-day trailer standards, but I’ve got a bad feeling about where this might be going with the “chilling connection between [Bond] and the enemy he seeks, played by Christoph Waltz”. Feels a little Luke/Leia/Vader-y. Hope I’m wrong.
As if all of that wasn’t enough, Apple Music gave me one more kick
in the head. Over the weekend, I turned off Apple Music and it
took large chunks of my purchased music with it. Sadly, many of
the songs were added from CDs years ago that I no longer have
access to. Looking at my old iTunes Match library, before Apple
Music, I’m missing about 4,700 songs. At this point, I just don’t
care anymore, I just want Apple Music off my devices.
A group of German auto makers agreed to pay slightly more than
€2.5 billion ($2.7 billion) for Nokia’s digital mapping service,
prevailing over Silicon Valley bidders in a battle for a key
enabling technology for self-driving cars.
German luxury car makers Audi, a unit of Volkswagen AG,
Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler AG, and BMW AG have agreed in
principle to purchase the telecommunications group’s digital
mapping service Nokia Here, according to a person familiar with
Over the past couple of years, Apple has made a point–not just in
conversations with the financial industry, but also on stage at
media events–of discussing its efforts in China. The massive
effort the company is putting into China is certainly paying off:
While the last two quarters have showed 75 percent year-over-year
growth, Apple more than doubled its China revenue in this most
recent quarter, compared to the same quarter a year ago. Apple
isn’t just growing in China, its growth is accelerating.
With the Chinese stock market and economy being called into
question in recent days, it was interesting to hear Cook defend
the market to financial analysts. He made it clear that Apple
believes China will ultimately be Apple’s largest market. (It’s
already surpassed Europe in total revenue.)
From Serenity Caldwell’s transcript of Tim Cook’s remarks on Apple’s quarterly analyst call:
Sales of the Watch did exceed our expectations and they did so
despite supply still trailing demand at the end of the quarter.
And to give you a little additional insight, through the end of
the quarter, in fact, the Apple Watch sell-through was higher than
the comparable launch periods of the original iPhone or the
original iPad. And we were able to do that with having only 680
points of sale. And as you probably know, as I had reviewed
earlier, the online sales were so great at the beginning we were
not able to seed inventory to our stores until mid-June. And so
those points of sale, pretty much, the overwhelming majority of
the low numbers of sales were not there until the last two weeks
of the quarter.
On the Watch, our June sales were higher than April or May. I
realize that’s very different than some of what’s being written,
but June sales were the highest. The Watch had a more of a
back-ended kind of skewing.
So, either Tim Cook is lying and committed securities fraud, or, those reports about Apple Watch sales “plunging” — all of them based on that one report from Slice Intelligence — were a pile of crap. It will take years to judge the overall success of Apple Watch, but it seems pretty clear it’s gotten off to a good start.
Some analysts noted that Apple reported $2.6 billion in revenue
from the company’s “Other Products” segment, which includes the
watch. That’s about $952 million more than the previous quarter,
when the watch had not yet gone on sale, or significantly less
than the $1.8 billion in watch sales that analysts surveyed by
FactSet were expecting.
But Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri told The Associated Press
that revenue from the watch amounted to “well over” that $952
million increase. He said the watch sales were offset by declining
revenue from iPods and accessories, which are also lumped into
While the company’s stumbles in smartphones have shown the
bruising downsides of the hardware business for Microsoft, it had
success with other devices, including its Surface tablet, the
revenue from which grew 117 percent, to $888 million. Revenue from
its Xbox game business rose 27 percent. In total, Microsoft said
it had nearly $2 billion in computing and gaming hardware revenue
in the quarter.
The Company posted quarterly revenue of $49.6 billion and
quarterly net profit of $10.7 billion, or $1.85 per diluted share.
These results compare to revenue of $37.4 billion and net profit
of $7.7 billion, or $1.28 per diluted share, in the year-ago
quarter. Gross margin was 39.7 percent compared to 39.4 percent in
the year-ago quarter. International sales accounted for 64 percent
of the quarter’s revenue.
The growth was fueled by record third quarter sales of iPhone and
Mac, all-time record revenue from services and the successful
launch of Apple Watch.
Microsoft today reported its earnings for the fourth quarter of
its 2015 fiscal year and unsurprisingly, the massive $7.6 billion
write down for its Nokia purchase last year tanked any chances of
it turning a profit. The write down pushed Microsoft’s losses to
$2.1 billion for the quarter. Excluding the write down and related
charges, Microsoft’s other businesses earned a profit of $6.4
billion on $22.2 billion in revenue.
So the world of the near future is one of power constrained
devices in a bandwidth-constrained environment. It’s very
different from the recent past, where hardware performance went up
like clockwork, with more storage and faster CPUs every year.
And as designers, you should be jumping up and down with relief,
because hard constraints are the midwife to good design. The past
couple of decades have left us with what I call an exponential
The reality in media right now is that there is an enormous amount
of noise. There are countless outlets (both old and new) vying for
your attention, desperate not just to capture some audience, but
all the audience. And in doing that, it feels like there’s a
tremendous watering down of the quality and uniqueness of what is
being made. Everything looks the same, reads the same, and seems
to be competing for the same eyeballs. In both execution and
content, I find myself increasingly frustrated with the rat race
for maximum audience at any expense. It’s cynical and it’s
cyclical — which makes for an exhausting and frankly boring
I think people want something better, something more meaningful.
Something a lot less noisy.
Now that I understand what happened, and why it happened, I can
see that the process does make sense. Apple’s goal is to ensure
that all your music is accessible from all your devices. Mine is
certainly an edge case, but, judging from the number of emails
I’ve received, and comments to articles on this website, there are
plenty other people in the same boat as me. (Though that’s an
infinitesimal number compared to the total iTunes user base.)
We don’t yet know what Apple will reveal regarding Apple Watch sales in its quarterly finance numbers later today (and remember, Tim Cook said all the way back in October that Apple will not reveal Apple Watch sales figures, for competitive reasons), but in the meantime, Mike Wehner provides some useful perspective, by looking back at early sales numbers for the iPod, iPhone, and iPad.
New episode of America’s favorite three-star podcast, with special guest Jason Snell. Topics include the new Pebble Time smartwatch, the “Safari is the New IE” argument, the state of web advertising (and its adverse effects on performance and privacy) and monetization, and more.
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A report from Clammr collected data on podcast listening
habits shows that iOS dominates Android on mobile usage. Despite
Android having a larger install base of smartphone devices than
iOS, the iPhone is responsible for the vast majority of podcast
listening. According to the study, 82% of smartphone podcasting
listening takes place on an iPhone with the iTunes Store podcast
directory being a significant reason for uptake.
In addition, despite the vast array of third-party podcast apps
available for the iPhone, the report says that over three-quarters
of users listen to podcasts on the iPhone with Apple’s built-in
native Podcasts app.
According to the analytics I get from SoundCloud, Overcast has a slight edge over Apple’s Podcasts app among listeners of The Talk Show. But it’s no surprise that listeners of my show aren’t exactly typical users. No other iPhone app even comes close to Overcast and Podcasts, though. Here’s a screenshot of the top ten clients by “play count” for episode 125, with Horace Dediu.
What’s funny is that the name “podcasts” stuck but very few people use iPods to listen to them any more.
I don’t know why developers holding back has to always be painted
as skepticism. Is Instagram still skeptical of the iPad five years
later because they don’t have an iPad app? Of course not.
Developing apps for a new product category takes time. You have to
think things through carefully if you want to create a good
experience. Remember, Facebook for iPad came out 18 months
after the first iPad which was available for purchase in April
The truth is some apps are just not going to be ideal on the Apple
Watch. This is not a smaller iPhone on your wrist. I’m not sure
why people — especially those that cover technology for a living
— can’t seem to understand that.
In fact, have you tried Instagram on the Apple Watch? It’s
terrible. It has no business being on there. It’s a worse
experience if you ask me.
The lack of support from Facebook — and from other popular app
makers like Snapchat and Google, which also do not have apps for
Apple Watch — underscores the skepticism that remains in the
technology community about the wearable device. That puts the
watch, Apple’s first new product since the iPad in 2010, in
something of a Catch-22: The companies whose apps would most
likely prompt more people to buy the device are waiting to see who
is buying it and how they use it.
This is a story about developers trying to figure out if they
want to be on a new platform, and if they do, how best to
accomplish that. Unfortunately, Chen’s story makes it seem like
the development community is just holding its breath waiting to
see if Apple’s selling watches, while users are similarly waiting
to see if their favorite apps from their phones run on the watch
I’d say Chen’s piece is even worse than that. Apple Watch has only been out for three months, and the full SDK — which allows for truly native apps — was only released last month, and apps written using the native SDK won’t ship until WatchOS 2 ships this fall. Even with the new SDK, it makes no sense to me for Facebook to write an app to put their entire feed in a watch app. (Twitter, in my opinion, wasted their time making their current watch app.) Maybe someday Snapchat will find a good reason to make a watch app, but is it surprising that they haven’t already, given that the whole point of Snapchat is sharing pictures and videos — and Apple Watch doesn’t have a camera? Notifications make sense for the watch — but that already works for all iPhone apps. You don’t need a watch app to see notifications on your Apple Watch. Calling it a problem that many popular phone apps aren’t on the watch makes as much sense as calling it a problem that the iPhone, circa 2008, didn’t have the most popular apps from the desktop, like Microsoft Office or Photoshop. (And after a few years, versions of those apps did make their way to the iPhone.)
Which brings us to Google, and this delicious correction appended to The Times’s article today:
An earlier version of this article misstated Google’s status as
a developer of apps for the Apple Watch. Google offers a news
and weather app for the watch; it is not the case that it has no
apps for it.
Of the more than 800 Apple Watch owners surveyed by Wristly, 31
percent said they were “somewhat satisfied” while 66 percent were
“very satisfied/delighted.” In comparison, just 91 percent of iPad
buyers and 92 percent of those who picked up first-generation
iPhones were satisfied with their purchase.
Casual users seem to be the most at ease with the Apple Watch, as
73 percent of survey respondents who do not work in technology
reported being “very satisfied.” That number drops to 63 percent
for so-called “tech insiders” and 43 percent for developers.
It’s just one survey, but rating higher than the first-generation iPhone and iPad is a good sign. Also telling: that satisfaction is higher among non-technical users.
This has been a long long seven years. What seemed like an
uncertain list of achievements, long on promise but hacked apart
by mid-term election reverses and Obama’s sometimes over-desire
for accommodation, suddenly appeared closer to profound, like a
novel or a play which seems scattered or unresolved until all the
pieces fall into place, clearly planned all along, at the end.
My thanks to MailChimp for once again sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Their message is short and sweet: Over eight million businesses around the world use MailChimp for email newsletters, A/B testing, and marketing automation.
Great company, great product, great customer service. Email newsletters are a great way to keep in touch with your customers, and there’s no better way to send email newsletters than with MailChimp.
Robert McMillan, writing for the WSJ Digits blog last week:
Worldwide PC shipments saw their sharpest decline in nearly two
years in the second quarter of 2015, dealing continued damage to
retailers and makers of computers, chips and PC software.
Shipments fell 9.5 percent, year on year, to 68.4 million units,
according to the research firm Gartner. Rival researcher IDC,
which doesn’t include tablets in its tally, tracked an 11.8
percent drop, year on year, to 66.1 million shipments during the
quarter. Both firms released PC sales reports on Wednesday.
To put Apple’s current industry position in perspective, the company probably sold somewhere between 60-65 million iOS devices last quarter. (I’m guessing ~50 million iPhones, ~10-12 million iPads, and a handful of million iPod Touches.) The average selling price of a PC has fallen to under $400. The average selling price of an iPhone has been estimated to be as high as $660. So while iOS devices, taken as a whole, might still fall a few million units short of the PC industry, they’re clearly generating more in revenue. More importantly, the PC industry operates on razor-thin margins; iOS devices sell with remarkably high margins. And, if that’s not enough, the “PC industry” includes the Mac, which appears to continue to be holding its own in the face of this overall slide in demand — IDC is forecasting a 16 percent increase in Mac sales globally for the quarter.
So, in short: Apple is the only “PC” maker stemming the tide against an overall decline in sales, and, with iOS, has created a new product line that is as large as (unit sales-wise) and far more profitable than the entire PC industry.
Here’s something — an unofficial software update for the Apple IIgs:
After 22 years, 2 months, 2 days and 2 hours since System 6.0.1
was released, this is a summary of the visible changes. There have
been many bugs fixed and many features added that are not
immediately visible–they will enable developers to create better
future products. Be sure to also read the Shortcuts file on the
SystemTools3 disk for more information.
After the watch shipped, I discovered that I wasn’t the only
person interested in the watch’s ability to be used during swim
workouts. Ray Maker at the DC Rainmaker blog did a series of
including diving off a 10 meter (33 foot) platform and 40 meter
(130 foot) pressure test. The Apple Watch passed these tests
with flying colors, and along with the research below, I was
convinced I wouldn’t have any problems. So far, that analysis
has proven correct. I suspect that the watch’s water resistance
has been undersold by Apple just like battery life: it’s better
to under-promise and over-deliver. Still, it’s a personal
decision on whether you want to ignore Apple’s recommendation.
You’re not likely to get much sympathy at any subsequent trips
to the Genius Bar.
Lots of great information on what makes water so problematic for electronics. Loved his suggestion on the side button and workouts, too:
This situation reminds me a lot of the problem with a shutter
switch on the iPhone. When your attention needs to be focused on
framing your photo, finding a virtual button is counterproductive.
A physical button is much simpler and more practical, even if it’s
normally used to adjust the volume.
So why can’t the side button be used during a workout? A single
click could start or pause the workout; a double-click could stop
the workout. Maybe a triple-click could do something more advanced
like a lap time.
Long story short: bad stuff happens if you try moving an iCloud Drive folder containing files that haven’t finished syncing to a location outside iCloud Drive. The Finder probably shouldn’t let you move a folder that contains unsynced files, or at the very least it should give you a clear warning. The good news if you ever run into a problem like this, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to recover the missing files using iCloud.com’s Recover Documents feature.
The new iPod touch, for all its advancements, still sports the same 4-inch Retina display as the iPhone 5, 5S, and 5C. And it makes me wonder if maybe, just maybe, it’s the first hint that we’ll be seeing an updated 4-inch iPhone – let’s call it the 6C – this fall.
This would fit the pattern from two years ago, when the 5C debuted alongside the 5S and the iPhone 5 just disappeared. I think Apple’s logic is that they want top-tier iPhone industrial designs to sit atop the lineup for two years — so they might let the upcoming 6S stay around next year, when (if they hold to their usual pattern) they introduce an all-new design with the iPhone 7, but this year, they want the mid-tier model with last year’s specs to look different than the 6S and 6S Plus.
Joshua Partlow, reporting for The Washington Post:
In his last moments as Mexico’s most important prisoner, Joaquin
“El Chapo” Guzman paces his cell, past his single bunk with
rumpled sheets, the plastic water jugs on the floor. He seems
particularly interested in what’s behind the waist-high wall of
the shower stall, as he keeps bending down to look at the floor.
It is Saturday night, near 9 p.m., inside Cell 20 of the Altiplano
maximum security prison, and the video surveillance camera
captures Guzman’s shadow as it traces across the walls. The
60-square-foot room is inside the wing for the country’s most
dangerous criminals, where the drug lord Guzman has spent the past
year and a half in solitary confinement under
24-hour-surveillance, a monitoring bracelet on his wrist.
As the video shows, Guzman sits down on the edge of his bunk and
slips off his shoes. He pads back to the shower, kneels behind the
wall and disappears.
Altiplano is apparently run in a similar fashion to Arkham Asylum.
Update: Word from a few little birdies is that what remains of the iPod software team is now working on Apple Watch — the Nano UI wasn’t updated to look like iOS 7 because there’s no one left to do it.
Say you’re listening to a song and want to know the title or the
artist. Just press the VoiceOver button on top of your iPod
shuffle, and it tells you. You can even use VoiceOver to hear the
names of playlists and switch between them.
Fascinating. First, the previous iPod Touch was introduced way back in 2012, alongside the iPhone 5 — a lot of people had reasonably assumed the iPod Touch was dead. Apparently not. Second, it’s jumped all the way from an A5 to an A8 — from outdated to state-of-the-art. Third, unlike the iPhones 6, the screen didn’t get bigger. Lastly, why introduce this mid-July with a press release? Why not do it in September?
The obvious answer: Apple cares enough about the Touch to update it, but not enough to spend even a few minutes on it during the September new iPhone event. Same for the refreshed iPods Nano and Shuffle. Apple’s website no longer even lists “iPod” as one of the top-level menu items.
About the Linked List
The Daring Fireball Linked List is a daily list of interesting links
and brief commentary, updated frequently but not frenetically. Call it
a “link log”, or “linkblog”, or just “a good way to dick around on the
Internet for a few minutes a day”.