The Daring Fireball Linked List

Beware Desktop and Documents Folder Syncing on MacOS Sierra 

Josh Marshall had a really bad experience with the new Desktop and Documents folder iCloud syncing feature in Sierra:

So today at work I had Sierra start syncing my work Desktop and Documents folders. Later I checked in iCloud and there it all was. Awesome.

What I didn’t see were my Desktop files from my home computer. That was odd because I’d upgraded to Sierra at home the night before. So why hadn’t it worked from home?

When I got home I checked to see if I’d enabled this syncing operation on my home machine. I hadn’t. So I checked the box to enable it. But when I did it said I had too many files or too many nested folders to use this service. I poked around on Google to find out about this because I hadn’t seen any reference to any storage limits. I couldn’t find any information about this. So I moved some files off my desktop to see if I could get under whatever this limit I was bumping up against.

After moving a bunch of files, I tried again. Success! It let me do it. Then in a flash all the files on my desktop disappeared and were replaced by the files from my work desktop.

It sounds like his files weren’t vanished — they were moved to a sub-folder of the iCloud Desktop folder. But it sure looked like his files were vanished. From Ars Technica’s Sierra review:

Enable iCloud Desktop and Documents on a second Mac you’ve upgraded to Sierra, one that already has files in its Desktop and Documents folders, and you will momentarily panic, as all of your existing files are removed and replaced with the “canonical” iCloud versions. But don’t worry; everything that was already on your desktop has been moved to a subfolder in the iCloud Desktop folder named “Desktop — [Name of Mac].” From there, move files around however you want to reconcile the desktops on your Macs. […]

It takes a while for your Mac to upload all your files into iCloud the first time you turn it on — the service seems reluctant to overload your Mac or to completely saturate your Internet connection, both of which can easily happen while syncing a service like Dropbox for the first time. Going to the iCloud Drive folder in the Finder will give you status updates as well as show you how much storage space you have left in your iCloud account.

So it’s not so much that the feature is dangerous but that the experience of enabling it on a second Mac is really poorly designed. When you enable it on a Mac when there’s already an existing iCloud Desktop folder, there should be some sort of dialog that explains exactly what’s going to happen.

iFixit’s Pro Tech Toolkit 

My thanks to iFixit for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote their new Pro Tech Toolkit. It’s a set of tools specifically designed for modern electronics repair. They sent me one a few weeks ago and it is excellent. Even the case is nice. It has every little oddball screwdriver you might need. Last year the Apple Watch came out with a new tri-point screw, smaller than anything iFixit had seen before. Now their toolkit contains a screwdriver for that screw — which is also now used in the iPhone 7.

I actually have an older iFixit toolkit (I think I might have picked it up at a Macworld Expo, years ago?), and this new one is better in every way. These are just damn good tools. Check out iFixit’s recent teardowns of the latest phones from Apple and Samsung, and, if you’re interested in the toolkit, use coupon code “courage” (ha!) and you’ll save $5.

Snapchat Releases First Hardware Product, Spectacles 

Seth Stevenson, writing for the WSJ:

In an unmarked building on a quiet side street just off the beach in Venice, California, 26-year-old Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel stands in a small conference room. He’s draped a towel over a mysterious object sitting on a table. He is eager to the point of jitters.

“You wanna see it?” he asks, grinning widely. There’s drama in this reveal: I’m about to join an exceedingly small circle of people whom Spiegel has shown the object to. As he lifts the towel, he breaks into a delighted laugh. “Boom!”

What initially appears to be a normal pair of sunglasses turns out to be Spectacles, the first hardware product from Snap Inc., as the firm has been newly christened (Spiegel is refreshing the company name because its offerings now go beyond the Snapchat app). When you slip Spectacles on and tap a button near the hinge, it records up to 10 seconds of video from your first-person vantage. Each new tap records another clip.

Uh, those do not appear to be a “normal pair of sunglasses”.

Keith Olbermann: ‘Vin Scully Is a Legend, but He’s Not a Saint’ 

Keith Olbermann, writing for GQ, has the best appraisal of the retiring Vin Scully I’ve seen:

It is mind-bending to consider that he has not just been on 22 of the 94 annual radio and television World Series broadcasts ever, but been alive for 87 of them. It is goose-bumpy to recognize that the season he began broadcasting major league games, Connie Mack was still the manager of the Philadelphia Athletics (Mack had become A’s manager in 1901 and we’ve just passed the 130th anniversary of Mack’s debut as a major league catcher). And it almost requires the language of Light Years to realize that if you start a new job the day after his last scheduled regular-season Dodger broadcast and you stay in that gig as long as Scully has in his, you will not be leaving your new position until Sunday, September 26, 2083.

You will also have to be almost flawless at that job over these next 67 years. Lost in the pilgrimages and the longevity is the reality that unlike almost every other great broadcaster in any field and of any time, there is not only no long list of Scullyian Gaffes, there is almost no list. Amid the Kirk Gibson call, and the Bill Buckner call, and the Hank Aaron call, and the Larsen Perfect Game call, and the Koufax perfect game call — there just aren’t many mistakes.

I’ve been watching as many of his calls for the Dodgers down the stretch as I can. At 88 years old he’s still the best there is.

CNBC: ‘Twitter May Soon Get Formal Bid, Suitors Said to Include Salesforce and Google’ 

David Faber and Anita Balakrishnan, reporting for CNBC:

Twitter shares surged Friday after sources said the ailing social media company moved closer to being sold.

The sources said the company has received expressions of interest from several technology or media companies and may receive a formal bid shortly. The potential suitors include Google and, among other technology companies, sources said.

The news was taken seriously enough that Twitter’s share price closed up 21 percent for the day. If this happens, I sure hope it’s Salesforce that buys them, not Google. Why? Just a gut feeling that Salesforce would be less likely to screw Twitter up. I could be completely wrong on that, though.

The Curious Case of Chris Ziegler’s Employment at The Verge and Apple 

Nilay Patel:

Hey everyone — there have been questions about Chris Ziegler and his absence from The Verge in the past few weeks. I want to provide answers for those who have been worried about him.

First, Chris accepted a position at Apple. We wish him well. […]

Chris began working for Apple in July, but didn’t tell anyone at The Verge that he’d taken a new job until we discovered and verified his dual-employment in early September. Chris continued actively working at The Verge in July, but was not in contact with us through most of August and into September. During that period, in the dark and concerned for Chris, we made every effort to contact him and to offer him help if needed. We ultimately terminated his employment at The Verge and Vox Media the same day we verified that he was employed at Apple.

This is really bizarre. Obviously The Verge can’t have staff members simultaneously working for one of the companies they cover, but surely Apple would consider this just as much of a conflict of interest as The Verge would.

No word on what Ziegler is (or was? — several little birdies have told me Ziegler is not listed in the company directory) doing at Apple. And Ziegler’s Twitter account has been silent since August 8.

iPhone 7 Plus Portrait Examples 

I installed the first developer beta of iOS 10.1 on my iPhone 7 Plus review unit, and shot a bunch of portraits on the walk home from school with my son yesterday. Here they are on Flickr, each with its corresponding image without the depth effect applied. Some of them look great, most look pretty good, and at least two of them have serious problems.

MotionMark: A New Graphics Benchmark From the WebKit Team 

Jon Lee, Said Abou-Hallawa, and Simon Fraser:

Today, we are pleased to introduce MotionMark, a new graphics benchmark for web browsers.

We’ve seen the web grow in amazing ways, making it a rich platform capable of running complex web apps, rendering beautiful web pages, and providing user experiences that are fast, responsive, and visibly smooth. With the development and wide adoption of web standards like CSS animations, SVG, and HTML5 canvas, it’s easier than ever for a web author to create an engaging and sophisticated experience. Since these technologies rely on the performance of the browser’s graphics system, we created this benchmark to put it to the test.

We’d like to talk about how the benchmark works, how it has helped us improve the performance of WebKit, and what’s in store for the future.

Some of the tests are pretty enough to be screensavers.

How Hampton Creek Sold Silicon Valley on a Fake-Mayo Miracle 

Olivia Zaleski, Peter Waldman, and Ellen Huet, writing for Bloomberg Businessweek:

In January 2014 a Creeker on the West Coast, who asked not to be identified, received an assignment in an e-mail under the subject line “Secret Shopper Squad Stores.” She was directed to buy 20 bottles a week of Just Mayo from each Whole Foods store in a large territory. […]

After the secret purchases, the e-mail instructed, she should open one or two bottles at home to check for quality — specifically, whether the mayonnaise had separated. If the jars were all right, she could donate the rest to a food bank or give it to friends. “Do not return them to Whole Foods,” the e-mail said. It also included a link to a quality-assurance survey the Creeker was supposed to fill out for each store. But no one noticed when she didn’t do it. Within weeks she had bought so much Just Mayo that her friends and local food banks couldn’t handle any more, so she began dumping it. She spent almost $12,000 purchasing the product, she says, and she could tell the buybacks had nothing to do with quality control. “But I really didn’t think about it because I cared so much about the cause.”

With the buyback program in full swing, Tetrick celebrated the product’s success. “Wow! Some @WholeFoods are selling 100+ jars of #justmayo/day,” he tweeted on Jan. 30. Four months later, a company tweet said: “Proud to announce that #justmayo is now the #1 selling mayo at @wholefoods.”

This is just outright fraud, and Tetrick doubled down on it with his claims that the buy backs were only for the purposes of quality assurance.

Also, interesting interactive art direction on this story.

Yahoo Says Hackers Stole Data on 500 Million Users in 2014 

Nicole Perlroth, reporting for the NYT:

Yahoo announced on Thursday that the account information for at least 500 million users was stolen by hackers two years ago, in the biggest known intrusion of one company’s computer network.

In a statement, Yahoo said user information — including names, email addresses, telephone numbers, birth dates, passwords and, in some cases security questions — was compromised in 2014 by what it believed was a “state-sponsored actor.” It did not name the country involved.

The company said that it was working with law enforcement officials and that it was invalidating existing security questions and asking users to change their passwords. Yahoo also encouraged people to review other online accounts for suspicious activity, change passwords and security questions on those accounts, and watch out for suspicious emails.

Verizon, in midst of acquiring Yahoo, only found out about this two days ago. Not a good coda to Marissa Mayer’s tenure, to say the least.

Update: Also, doesn’t “500 million accounts” effectively mean all Yahoo accounts in 2014? How many accounts could there have been that weren’t stolen? They’re saying “500 million” but they really mean “They stole every account”. Right? Update: Here’s a report that claims Yahoo has 1 billion “monthly active users”, but even if true, that doesn’t mean every active user is signed into an account. Even if it’s not all accounts that were stolen, it has to be most.

Google Reneges on Allo Privacy Feature 

Russell Brandom, reporting for The Verge:

The version of Allo rolling out today will store all non-incognito messages by default — a clear change from Google’s earlier statements that the app would only store messages transiently and in non-identifiable form. The records will now persist until the user actively deletes them, giving Google default access to a full history of conversations in the app. Users can also avoid the logging by using Allo’s Incognito Mode, which is still fully end-to-end encrypted and unchanged from the initial announcement.

It would have been more surprising if Google had actually followed through on their promise for Allo message retention. And I still say “Incognito” is the wrong word. They should call it “Private”. Incognito carries a “What do you have to hide?” connotation. (I know Chrome uses the same word for private tabs, but I’d argue the same thing there — they should be called “private tabs”, like Safari does.)

Google wants to read and index your chats. It’s that simple.

According to Google, the change was made to improve the Allo assistant’s smart reply feature, which generates suggested responses to a given conversation. Like most machine learning systems, the smart replies work better with more data. As the Allo team tested those replies, they decided the performance boost from permanently stored messages was worth giving up privacy benefits of transient storage.

That’s a fair tradeoff, but it also shows very clearly who is in control at Google when it comes to features/advertising potential vs. user privacy debates. When has such a decision at Google ever erred on the side of privacy?

NYT: ‘Apple Is Said to Be Talking to Vehicle Technology Companies’ 

Daisuke Wakabayashi and Brian X. Chen, reporting for the NYT:

Apple has been talking with McLaren, the automaker known for its Formula One racecars, about an investment in the company, according to two people briefed on the talks who asked to remain anonymous because the discussions were confidential.

McLaren’s aforelinked denial is in the present tense — it doesn’t preclude previous or future discussions.

Apple is also in talks with Lit Motors, a San Francisco start-up that has developed an electric self-balancing motorcycle, about a potential acquisition, according to three people who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the conversations were private. Apple has already hired several former Lit Motors engineers.

Even as many Silicon Valley companies, including Google, Tesla and Uber, have embarked on high-profile electric and driverless car initiatives, Apple has kept quiet. Yet internally, it has pursued a car project, called Project Titan, which has had ups and downs in leadership and direction. The layoffs at the project this month came after the appointment of an Apple veteran, Bob Mansfield, to take over the effort.

When did Daisuke Wakabayashi leave The Wall Street Journal for The Times? Must have been recently — he got the scoop for The Journal on Bob Mansfield taking over Project Titan just two months ago.

The Financial Times: ‘Apple in Talks on McLaren Supercars Takeover’ 

Matthew Garrahan and Tim Bradshaw, reporting for The Financial Times:

Apple has approached McLaren Technology Group, the British supercar engineer and Formula One team owner, about a potential acquisition, in the clearest sign yet that the iPhone maker is seeking to transform the automotive industry.

The California technology group, which has been working on a self-driving electric vehicle for more than two years, is considering a full takeover of McLaren or a strategic investment, according to three people briefed on the negotiations who said talks started several months ago.

Whether this goes through or not, one thing I’ve been thinking is that if Apple does do a car, it ought to be a beautiful car. McLaren makes drop-dead gorgeous cars.

Benjamin Zhang, Business Insider:

On Wednesday, the Financial Times reported that Apple has approached McLaren over a potential takeover or strategic investment. McLaren has officially denied that anything is happening.

“There’s no takeover, no strategic investment,” a McLaren spokesperson told Business Insider. “It’s completely untrue.”

Tim Bradshaw:

Obviously we stand by our story despite McLaren’s statement.

Hands on With the iPhone 7 Plus Portrait Mode 

Matthew Panzarino, after spending a few days with the still-in-beta Portrait mode on the iPhone 7 Plus:

If you’ve skipped here to see how the heck it works, I don’t blame you. The short answer: incredibly, miraculously well in many instances. And pretty rough in others. Apple says this is still in beta and it is. It has trouble with leaves, with chain link fences and patterns and with motion. But it also handles things so well that I never thought possible like fine children’s hair and dog fur, shooting pictures with people facing away and objects that are not people at all.

What does it have major trouble with? Fine lines, wires, chain link, glass, leaves. Anything that merges with the edges of your subject a bunch of times could confuse it. The closer to the subject the harder it is for it to distinguish. Motion, too, is a no. If the subject moves a bit, ok. If it moves too much you get ghosting, as you do in HDR mode — because there is compositing involved.

Some of the examples look very good, some not so much. There’s no doubt we’re going to see a lot of these shots on Instagram and Facebook. That said, the examples aren’t good enough to make me regret ordering a 4.7-inch 7 (jet black, natch) for my personal use.

Update: Upgraded my 7 Plus review unit to the 10.1 developer beta released today, and shot a bunch of Portrait mode photos on the walk home from school with my son. Some of them are great — good enough to make the decision to go with a regular 7 weigh a little heavier on my heart. And even when it doesn’t work well, you always get the regular photo without the depth effect side-by-side in your camera roll. You can’t lose a shot by trying it with Portrait mode.

Studio Neat Material Dock 

Even if you’re not in the market for an iPhone/Apple Watch charging dock, the video is worth watching.

Non-Blurry Photos of the Google Pixel and Pixel XL Leak 

iPhone 7 form factor largely resembles iPhone 6: terrible, Apple has lost its edge.

Google Pixel form factor largely resembles iPhone 6: crickets.

Dropbox’s MacOS Security Hack 

Back in July, Phil Stokes at AppleHelpWriter documented some downright awful behavior on the part of Dropbox on MacOS: Dropbox prompts for your admin password, then misuses that authority to inject itself into the list of apps with permission to “control your computer” in System Preferences’s Security & Privacy panel. If you remove it from the list manually, Dropbox re-injects itself the next time it launches.

If you’re still on El Capitan, Stokes has simple instructions for removing Dropbox from this list for good.

Even better: on MacOS Sierra, Apple has closed the loophole Dropbox was abusing to circumvent this.

Safari 10.0 

Now available, both for MacOS 10.12 (Sierra) and 10.11 (El Capitan). Safari is a great browser, period, but where it really shines is in its integration with MacOS as a whole: Safari 10.0 introduces Apple Pay support, picture-in-picture video playback, and a lot more.

‘Pile of Poo Gains a Thicker, More 3D Appearance in iOS 10’ 

Jeremy Burge has a detailed change log of the emoji additions and changes in iOS 10. (I believe all of these changes apply to MacOS 10.12 Sierra, as well.)

Flag: Free Photo Prints, Forever 

Remember Flag? It was a Kickstarter project from two years ago, where the idea was they’d make high-quality photo prints for you for free, with advertisements on the back of the prints. They’re back with a second Kickstarter campaign:

Huge demand for premium free prints means access to Flag is constrained by our limited production capacity. Back us now to help us purchase the equipment we need, lower costs, and deliver to more free prints, to more people, more effectively.

Free with Flag means no printing, shipping or handling fees. […]

Archival quality printers deliver eight times more detail using inks that won’t fade for up to 300 years. Flag prints on real German photo paper and doesn’t compress the images you upload in any way. Every Flag print is gallery ready.

Seven colors of ink, specially formulated eggshell paper, and 2,400 dpi print heads deliver deeper blacks, brighter whites and a wider range or rich color than the best traditional wet-chemistry lab prints.

The Kickstarter campaign is already fully funded, and the funding tiers are filling up quick. The “earlybird special” tier only has 21/1000 spots remaining, for example.

I still think the basic idea is genius: the ads allow the prints to be free of charge, but don’t distract from the prints at all because they’re on the back.

Dan Golding: ‘A Theory of Film Music’ 

Remember that episode of Every Frame a Painting I linked to the other day about the unmemorable scores of the Marvel universe movies? Dan Golding has responded with a video of his own, and it is amazing. (Among several things I learned: Hans Zimmer was in The Buggles!)

Very Important Update: Hans Zimmer was not a member of The Buggles, he simply appeared in their video for “Video Killed the Radio Star”.

Bloomberg: ‘Rush to Take Advantage of a Dull iPhone Started Samsung’s Battery Crisis’ 

Yoolim Lee and Min Jeong Lee, reporting for Bloomberg:

Few things motivate Samsung employees like the opportunity to take advantage of weakness at Apple Inc.

Earlier this year, managers at the South Korean company began hearing the next iPhone wouldn’t have any eye-popping innovations. The device would look just like the previous two models too. It sounded like a potential opening for Samsung to leap ahead.

So the top brass at Samsung Electronics Co., including phone chief D.J. Koh, decided to accelerate the launch of a new phone they were confident would dazzle consumers and capitalize on the opportunity, according to people familiar with the matter. They pushed suppliers to meet tighter deadlines, despite loads of new features, another person with direct knowledge said. The Note 7 would have a high-resolution screen that wraps around the edges, iris-recognition security and a more powerful, faster-charging battery. Apple’s taunts that Samsung was a copycat would be silenced for good.

This was miscalculated on several fronts, starting with the fact that the iPhone 7 is not dull.

Twitter Changes Character-Counting Rules for Tweets With Links and Attachments 

John Voorhees, writing for MacStories:

Twitter began rolling out changes that take back space for text in tweets. As Twitter has gradually become a multimedia experience full of images, GIFs, videos, quoted tweets, and other things, each has encroached on the 140 character limit of a tweet leaving less room for text. That just changed.

Good news too: third-party clients like Twitterrific and Tweetbot will be able to support this.

Punching Down 

The Macalope, on Dave Gershgorn’s argument that Apple is “punching down” by competing against smaller companies like Fitbit and Spotify:

Inasmuch as Apple is the largest tech company in the world depending on the day and what measure you use, yes, it’s almost always competing against a company that’s smaller than it is. So, all the golf claps to you, you’ve created Apple’s Kobayashi Maru. The only way for them to win is to lose a lot of money and market value. […]

Fitbit is a publicly traded company with a market cap over $3 billion. Sure, it’s no Apple — as the Macalope said, no one is — but it’s not exactly two hard-working nerds in a garage. Spotify, meanwhile, has 100 million active users and half a billion registered users. Apple Music has 17 million subscribers.

A much better example than Fitbit would be Pebble. That’s a true David to Apple’s Goliath. The whole argument is nonsense though. There’s only one way for Apple to operate, and that’s full steam ahead.

In the 1992 Olympics, the U.S. men’s basketball “Dream Team” played their first game against Angola. At one point they went on a 46-1 run, and that 1 point was a free throw after Charles Barkley was called for throwing an elbow at a player for Angola. After the game, Barkley faced criticism for playing too aggressively. His answer was, more or less, that he only knows one way to play: as hard as he can. Whether he was playing against the Angolan national team or the mighty Chicago Bulls, he played the same way.

Austin Mann’s iPhone 7 Camera Review: Rwanda 

Whole thing was shot on iPhone 7 and 7 Plus cameras. If you can, look at his example photos on a display with wide color gamut. Mann on the 7 Plus 56 mm camera:

It works exactly as I hoped. It is super quick to switch between lenses, even while you are rolling video. As seen in the video above, jumping from 1× to 2× while recording can be a great way to punch in and emphasize a detail.

In terms of quality, I found the 2× zoom lens to be equally as sharp as the iPhone wide-angle we’re accustomed to. However, I do not recommend the digital zoom beyond 2×. The quality of digital zoom degrades quickly and I find it unusable for photography (although it’s actually kind of nice as an animal spotting tool).

The 2× works in ALL modes (photo, video, time-lapse, slo-mo, and even pano), which surprised me. I didn’t expect it in each mode, and I really enjoyed shooting 2× panos, capturing extra detail in the area of the landscape I found most interesting.

And on search, which truth be told I’ve not played with yet:

Shooting photos is one thing; finding them and sharing them is another. The new Photos app in iOS 10 has a great search feature (the magnifying glass at top right) that hasn’t been talked about much.

I’ve found this feature to be very powerful and way beyond what I expected. For starters, I can search for a location like “Lake Kivu” to see all the photos I took on the lake. But going further, I can search for “tree” or “mountain” and immediately see all images containing trees or mountains. Even further still, I can search for “palm tree” and it accurately displays palm trees I’ve photographed in the last week.

Sticker Pals 

This week’s DF RSS feed was sponsored by Sticker Pals, the most ambitious Messages sticker app I’ve seen, with wonderful visually exuberant hand-animated illustrations by David Lanham. You’ve got to see it to get how good it is. Download it for free.

Here’s one example, just to give you a taste.

An example sticker from Sticker Pals.

The Talk Show: ‘Hey Bruh You Bumped Muh Hat’ 

Jim Dalrymple returns to the show. Not much to talk about this week.

Sponsored by:

  • Global Delight: Global Delight’s screen capture and video-editing app for Mac. 15-day free trial and save 25 percent with code FIREBALL.
  • Casper: An obsessively engineered mattress at a shockingly fair price. Use code THETALKSHOW for $50 toward your mattress.
  • With Audible, you’ll find what you’re looking for. Get a free 30-day trial.
iPhone 7 No-Click Home Button Requires Contact With Skin to ‘Click’ 

Myke Hurley:

So here’s a thing.

Cover your iPhone 7 home button with material (like from a t-shirt) and try to click it.

I think I worked it out, the TouchID sensor is what’s making the connection.

No sensor connection, no click.

Never occurred to me to try this. It’s the capacitive ring around the Touch ID sensor that needs contact with skin — that’s what turns on the sensor. This means no home button clicking while wearing gloves — yet another reason to cast a stink eye in the direction of this new home button.

Update: Serenity Caldwell proves that the button does work with capacitive gloves.

How to Switch Your Apple Watch to a New iPhone 

This is easy to screw up. If you want to switch your Apple Watch to a new iPhone, you have to do it in this order:

  1. Unpair your watch from your old iPhone. This creates a fresh backup of your watch on your iPhone.

  2. Back up your old iPhone, either to iCloud or to iTunes. If you use iTunes, be sure to encrypt it, otherwise your Health, Activity, and passwords won’t get backed up.

  3. Restore your new iPhone from the old iPhone’s backup.

  4. Pair your watch with your new iPhone and restore your watch from the backup.

We got a few new iPhones here at the Gruber household today and I botched this, by forgetting step 1. Had to do it all over again with two phones and watches. It wasn’t fresh in my memory because last week when I was setting up my review unit iPhones, I also had a review unit watch, so it was natural to unpair my old watch before starting.

How to Find the Shuffle and Repeat Buttons in the iOS 10 Music App 

Kirk McElhearn:

Lots of people have been asking where the Shuffle or Repeat buttons are in the iOS 10 Music app. And it’s true, they’re not easy to find.

The problem is, the screen where you swipe up to reveal them doesn’t offer any sort of visual indication that there’s a reason to swipe up. There’s no reason to suspect there’s anything that would be revealed by swiping up, just by looking at it.

The Marvel Symphonic Universe 

Every Frame a Painting’s Tony Zhou on why you can’t remember the music from Marvel movies.

Variable Fonts, a New Kind of Font for Flexible Design 

Tim Brown, head of typography for Adobe:

Just minutes ago, at the ATypI conference in Warsaw, the world was introduced to a new kind of font: a variable font. Jointly developed by Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Adobe, a variable font is, as John Hudson put it, “a single font file that behaves like multiple fonts”. Imagine a single font file gaining an infinite flexibility of weight, width, and other attributes without also gaining file size — and imagine what this means for design.

This looks great. I was a big fan of Adobe’s Multiple Master typefaces back in the ’90s, but they never really took off.

How Samsung Botched Its Galaxy Note 7 Recall 

Georgia Wells, John D. Mckinnon, and Yun-Hee Kim, reporting for the WSJ:

In announcing the recall, however, experts say, the South Korean company neglected to first coordinate with safety authorities in the U.S. According to U.S. law, the CPSC must be notified within 24 hours after a safety risk has been identified, and recall announcements are generally then carried out jointly.

The U.S. agency didn’t issue a statement until Sept. 9, a week after Samsung’s initial announcement.

“This is completely unusual; companies just don’t issue recalls without the CPSC,” says Pamela Gilbert, a partner with Washington’s Cuneo Gilbert & LaDuca LLP and a former executive director of the CPSC.

Samsung should have just ripped the band-aid off in one motion, and officially recalled all Note 7 units immediately. None of this nonsense about issuing a software update that limits the devices to a 60 percent charge. Just take them all back.

The official recall was issued today. It should have been issued two weeks ago.

NPD: Bluetooth Capable Headphone Sales Surpass Non-Bluetooth Sales 

The leader, ranked by dollar sales: Beats.

Apple’s iPhone 7 Will Be Super Limited in Stores and All Jet Black and Plus Models Are Sold Out 

Matthew Panzarino, TechCrunch:

Apple has issued a statement tonight that is essentially setting expectations for those who hoped they’d be able to walk into an Apple store on Friday and pick themselves up an iPhone. The statement makes it clear that all iPhones will be in short supply for walk-in customers without a reservation.

The statement also indicates that Apple’s jet black iPhones and all iPhone 7 plus models in all colors have sold out completely in the initial online ordering period and that no inventory will be available.

Yep, that’s right, if you want an iPhone in jet black, just order it online and wait — you won’t find one in stores.

Imagine how much better the iPhone 7 would be selling if it had some cutting-edge design.

Getting Music Onto Apple Watch 

Joanna Stern (“Apple Watch Series 2 Review: Still Not a ‘Need,’ Finally a ‘Want’”):

Toggling through songs on my watch was far easier than getting them on there in the first place. Even after an hour on the phone with an AppleCare rep, I’m not entirely sure how I got the Apple Music playlist to wirelessly sync. Apple says it is actively working to fix this issue, but it illustrates the bigger problem of relying on a device with no cellular connectivity. I’d rather be able to stream music — and call people in an emergency.

Extra points for including an audio recording of the water eject beeps.

Lauren Goode, The Verge:

For whatever reason, I’ve had trouble syncing my iTunes to the Watch, which can support up to 2 GB of music. I can’t say I’m remotely surprised that I encountered something problematic with iTunes. A spokesperson for Apple said the company is aware that this may affect some people and is actively working to solve it.

With the combination of AirPods and GPS (for iPhone-free running and cycling), you’d think the company that invented the iPod would have made it really easy to get the music you want onto your Apple Watch.

Geekbench: Android Benchmarks vs. the A10 Fusion 

Looking at Geekbench’s results browser for Android devices, there are a handful of phones in shouting distance of the iPhone 7 for multi-core performance, but Apple’s A10 Fusion scores double on single-core.

Here are the top 5 Android phones, compared to the iPhone 7:

Device Single-Core Multi-Core
iPhone 7/7 Plus 3,450 5,630
Samsung Galaxy S7 1,806 5,213
Samsung Galaxy Note 7 1,786 5,228
Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge 1,744 5,203
Huawei P9 1,729 4,735
OnePlus 3 1,698 4,015

Apple’s A-series chip design team seems to be doing OK.

Update: The iPhone 7 scores better on both single- and multi-core than any most MacBook Airs ever made, and performs comparably to a 2013 MacBook Pro.

Update 2: Here’s another eye-opener. Matt Mariska tweets:

@gruber Grain of salt and all, but Geekbench has the iPhone 7 beating the $6,500 12-core Mac Pro in single-thread.

Apple Hires Former Time Warner Cable Executive Peter Stern 

Shalini Ramachandran, reporting for the WSJ:

Apple Inc. has hired former Time Warner Cable executive Peter Stern as a vice president working on cloud services, which includes the technology company’s subscription offerings such as Apple Music and a potential streaming television service.

Wonder what he’s going to be working on?

Digital Music News: ‘Samsung “Actively Exploring” Its Own Proprietary Headphone Jack’ 

Paul Resnikoff, writing for Digital Music News:

Samsung is now “actively and aggressively” exploring the possibility of releasing a proprietary headphone jack of its own, one that would be largely incompatible with newer iPhone devices, according to details shared confidentially with Digital Music News. Taking matters a step further, Samsung — alongside manufacturers developing Android products — could block Apple from licensing their proprietary jack, similar to the stance that Apple has adopted towards the Android community and other competitors.

This is the dumbest paragraph of news I’ve read in a long time. If Samsung comes out with its own proprietary audio jack, it’s by definition going to be completely incompatible with iPhones.

As for “block[ing] Apple from licensing their proprietary jack” — Apple wouldn’t use it even if Samsung paid them to.

When Bluetooth Audio Latency Matters 

Stephen Coyle:

This solution doesn’t work for sounds that start unpredictably, unfortunately. Taps on the screen happen when they happen, and all the system can do is rush the corresponding sounds to the Bluetooth receiver as quickly as possible. With most people used to streaming video and audio, a short delay after pressing play on a video feels acceptable, but when keyboard clicks don’t sync up with your fingers contacting the screen, it’s just unpleasant. […]

This latency is also a significant issue for an app I develop, Tapt. It’s a music game, which relies on tapping rhythms accurately in order to score points. When one needs to coordinate taps on the order of 100-200ms apart, latency is a problem (for any of my bluetooth gear anyway).

Apple has made this better with AirPods. Latency is noticeably better listening to say, keyboard clicks, than with my Beats Powerbeats 2. But it’s still noticeable.

Evolution of the 007 Logo 

Not sure what they were thinking with the one from 1973 — italics are essential.

iPhone 7 Plus: The Case for 56 mm 

I love this well-illustrated piece by Astramael, praising the idea of the secondary 56 mm equivalent telephoto lens on the 7 Plus:

If you get an iPhone 7 Plus, don’t just use the 2× mode when you want a little more zoom. Try it out for awhile. Think at fifty-six millimeters. Frame shots with it, isolate subjects with it, shoot parts of things rather than the whole thing, find interesting perspectives, fill the foreground, and so much more. I am excited because this puts a much more versatile photography tool into the hands of millions of people.

It might not be an ultra-fast, stabilized camera. It might not even be the same sensor. But it’s good enough to change the way you think about phone photography. Which is really the point, and almost certainly part of the reason Apple did it. You have to care about photography to build this feature.

56 mm really is a great focal distance. We’ll soon see a ton of shots in Apple’s “Shot With iPhone 7” campaign from the Plus’s 56 mm camera.


Despite “telephoto” sounding a bit funny for a lens that is only 56 mm. It is technically possible and perhaps not just marketing. If the sensor is 1/3-inch it likely contains a telephoto group, and the focal length of the lens is very likely longer than the lens’ physical length. Therefore it is, probably, actually a telephoto lens. The math doesn’t quite work out for it to be a 1/3-inch sensor without altering the optical center. So either there is a telephoto group, or the sensor is smaller than 1/3-inch.

Apple’s iPhone 7 30-Second Teaser 

Stark. I like it.

A Proposal for Screenshots in WatchOS 3 

In a footnote in my review today, I noted:

Pressing the crown and side button at the same time used to take a screenshot. In WatchOS 3, screenshots are not enabled by default. You can turn them on in the General section of the iPhone Apple Watch app. If you do, when you press both buttons to pause or resume a workout, it will work, but you’ll snap a screenshot too. Such is the price we pay for a device with only two buttons.

Here’s what I think Apple should do:

  1. Keep screenshots off by default. Most people don’t need or want them on the watch. Let the “press both buttons” command serve only for pausing and resuming workouts.

  2. When you enable screenshots in the iPhone Apple Watch app, reveal one more setting: “Take Screenshots During Workouts”. It should be off by default. This way, pressing both buttons would take a screenshot, except when you’re in an active workout. During a workout, pressing both buttons would pause/resume the workout. If you really want to take screenshots of the Workout app, you can turn on this extra setting.

It sounds a little complicated but keep in mind that the overwhelming majority of Apple Watch owners don’t want to take screenshots of their watch. They’ll never even know this is there. And most people who do want to take screenshots are advanced users who shouldn’t be confused by this.

Alternative: Make “Hey Siri, take a screenshot” work.

XKCD: A Timeline of Earth’s Average Temperature 

This is quite simply one of the best infographics I’ve ever seen. Also, it is terrifying.

iOS 10 Over-the-Air Update Glitch, Now Fixed 

Jason Snell:

There are lots of reports out there of iOS devices being kicked into reset mode by a failed over-the-air iOS 10 update. […]

Apple released a statement saying this was an issue that affected a small number of users early on, and has since been fixed.

Always backup first. And it sometimes pays to wait a few hours, see how things shake out.

Daring Fireball RSS Feed Sponsorship Fall Schedule 

It’s probably the busiest week of the year, traffic-wise, on Daring Fireball, but for some reason this week remains unsold. [Update: Sold.] (It was sold, then un-sold, then sold again to a different sponsor, then postponed, but that’s a long story.) November and December are nearly sold out already, but September and October are mostly open.

Traffic and attention are pretty consistent week-to-week and month-to-month at Daring Fireball, but new iPhone week is a big one. Most years, the second week of September sells out months in advance. (Same for the second week of June, targeting WWDC.) And it’s not just new iPhones this week — it’s new Apple Watches and AirPods week too.

The rest of September and October should be great weeks too, with MacOS Sierra and (hopefully?) new Mac hardware. Get in touch if you’ve got a cool product or service to promote, and check out the list of all previous sponsors to see how many of them have come back for repeat sponsorships.

Matthew Panzarino on the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus 

Matthew Panzarino, writing for TechCrunch:

Every time you take a picture with the iPhone 7, both the wide angle and telephoto fire off. Yes, two 12 megapixel pictures for every shot. This could be a prime driver behind the increase of the iPhone 7 Plus’ memory to 3GB.

Both images are needed due to an Apple technique it is calling “fusion” internally. Fusion takes data from both sensors and merges them into the best possible picture for every condition. If, for instance, there is a low-light scene that has some dark areas, the image-processing chip could choose to pick up some image data (pixels or other stuff like luminance) from the brighter f1.8 wide angle and mix it in with the data from the f2.8 telephoto, creating a composite image on the fly without any input from the user. This fusion technique is available to every shot coming from the camera, which means that the iPhone 7 Plus is mixing and matching data every time that trigger is tapped.

This technique is made possible because the optics, coatings, sensors, perspectives and color balances of the two cameras are perfectly matched.

Terrific review. He makes all sorts of points that I wish I’d made in mine.

In my testing I didn’t see any noticeable difference between 1× shots on the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. I think this “fusion” stuff only kicks in, or at least mostly kicks in, once you start increasing the zoom level. Put another way, I think the wide angle lens assists the telephoto lens more than the telephoto lens assists the wide angle.

The other thing I don’t think I emphasized enough in my review: it never feels like you are switching between two cameras. It feels like one camera that has remarkable zoom optics for its size. I emphasized the two-camera stuff because I’m trying to explain (and understand myself) how it works. But in use it’s so simple and integrated. It’s actually hard to believe it’s two cameras when you use it. And the new zoom control interface is so much better. You can still pinch the display to zoom, but the slider is a much better control.

Also worth noting: his jet black iPhone 7 picked up some scratches. Close up, easily visible. Arm’s distance, not so much.

Parakeet: Snacks 

Another delightful sticker pack. These look better than real food.

Iconfactory Stickers 

Who better to provide some excellent stickers for the new iOS 10 Messages app than the exquisite artists at Iconfactory? See their blog for more details, including how to get bonus stickers by buying multiple packs.

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