The Daring Fireball Linked List

Bloomberg Is Really Shitting the Bed Lately 

Bloomberg caused a huge stir (Hertz stock shot to a two-year high on the “news”) with this report yesterday by Alex Webb and David Welch:

Apple Inc. is leasing a small fleet of cars from Hertz Global Holdings Inc. to test self-driving technology, an agreement that echoes a larger deal between competitors Alphabet Inc. and Avis Budget Group Inc. Hertz shares soared the most in almost two years.

A few hours later CNBC uncovered the scope of this lease:

Sources familiar with the situation told CNBC that Apple is leasing six cars from a Hertz subsidiary for autonomous software testing.

Six whole cars!

And then Apple confirmed to CNBC that the company is simply leasing six cars, and there is no partnership with Hertz.

The Alphabet/Avis deal is a genuine partnership, involving over 600 vehicles. There is no “echo” of that partnership in Apple’s having leased six cars.

European Commission Fines Google €2.42 Billion for Abuse of Web Search Monopoly 

The European Commission:

The European Commission has fined Google €2.42 billion for breaching EU antitrust rules. Google has abused its market dominance as a search engine by giving an illegal advantage to another Google product, its comparison shopping service.

The company must now end the conduct within 90 days or face penalty payments of up to 5% of the average daily worldwide turnover of Alphabet, Google’s parent company.

The euro and dollar remain roughly in balance — that’s about $2.7 billion today. My guess is Google just shrugs this off, pays the fine, and goes right back to promoting its own stuff in search results. (E.g. they favor their own local business listings over, say, Yelp’s.)

Using Today’s Web Without JavaScript 

Sonniesedge turned off JavaScript completely in her browser and tested how a bunch of major websites looked. Many of them were simply blank. But The New York Times worked:

The NY Times site loads in 561 ms and 957 KB without JavaScript. Holy crap, that’s what it should be like normally. For reference it took 12,000 ms (12 seconds) and 4000 KB (4 MB) to load with JavaScript. Oh, and as a bonus, you get a screenful of adverts.

A lot of images are lazy loaded, and so don’t work, getting replaced with funky loading icons. But hey ho, I can still read the stories.

Again I say: the web would be better off if browsers had never added support for scripting. Every site on the web would load in under a second.

WWDC 2017’s Accessibility News 

Steven Aquino, writing for TechCrunch:

Enhanced Dynamic Type. As mentioned at the outset, Apple has put in a lot of work to optimize how Dynamic Type handles itself at its largest sizes. New this year are options for even larger sizes that smartly adapt to various user interfaces. The Dynamic Type API, available for third-party developers to hook up to their apps, has been updated to take advantage of this new capability.

I can’t say enough good things about Dynamic Type — and that’s before the improvements in iOS 11. I need text to be a click or two bigger than the default size on my iPhone. What I love about Dynamic Type is that it doesn’t look like a special “big type for bad eyes” mode. It just looks normal, but with larger type. You don’t have to give up the aesthetic satisfaction of having everything look just right in order to have larger type that you can read.

Jean-Louis Gassée: ‘Apple Culture After Ten Years of iPhone’ 

Jean-Louis Gassée:

Let’s see if we can bring these unimaginable quantities into a manipulable picture.

During the most recent Xmas quarter, Apple sold slightly fewer than 80 million iPhones, about 900,000 a day. Obligingly, a day has 86,400 seconds, so we round up to 90,000 to get a production yield of ten iPhones per second.

But producing a phone isn’t instantaneous, it isn’t like the click of the shutter in a high-speed camera. Let’s assume that it takes about 15 minutes (rounded up to 1,000 seconds) to assemble a single iPhone. How many parallel production pipes need to accumulate ten phones a second? 1,000 divided by 1/10 equals… 10,000! Ten thousand parallel pipes in order to output ten phones per second.

We can juggle the numbers, but it’s still difficult to comprehend the scale and complexity of the iPhone production machine, to build a reliable mental representation.

Did the unimaginable iPhone production process change Apple? With numbers so large, how could it not?

I find it very hard to comprehend the scope of the iPhone’s scale.

Kill Sticky Headers (a.k.a. Dickbars) Bookmarklet 

Brilliantly simple bookmarklet by Alisdair McDiarmid:

There is currently a trend for using sticky headers on websites. There’s even a sticky header web startup.

I hate sticky headers. I want to kill sticky headers.

So I made this bookmarklet.

If you hate dickbars like I do, you should install this bookmarklet. Works great on both desktop and mobile. Here’s how it works:

The bookmarklet just finds all fixed-position elements on the page, and removes them. This might remove the navigation, but if you need it back, just hit refresh. That’s why I created a bookmarklet and not a custom user-stylesheet or browser plugin: this is the simplest way to solve the problem.

Dickbars Don’t Work 

Josh Clark, back in March:

Hey, please, under no circumstances should you pin social buttons to the top or bottom of mobile screens. In an effort to try to boost mobile use of share buttons, About.com experimented with fixing them to screen bottom and separately to screen top, so that the buttons were always visible when scrolling. While this did modestly increase share-button usage, it also caused overall session engagement to go down.

You read that right: adding a locked toolbar to the small-screen experience shortened sessions and reduced page views. The very small increase in share-button usage was far outweighed by reduced site usage. (I can’t explain why this is the case, but I’ve seen it elsewhere with locked toolbars, too. They chase small-screen users away.)

Read the whole article. First, Clark’s advice is based on actual results, not just opinion and hunches (like mine). Second, he doesn’t advise against ever showing custom sharing buttons — but he does say only to show them to visitors coming from social media referrals. And but even then, don’t put them in fixed position dickbars.

As for why dickbars actually decrease site usage, I think the answer is obvious: when people see user-hostile fixed position bars at the top and/or bottom of their display, especially on phones, they’re annoyed, and the easiest way to eliminate the annoyance is to close the fucking tab and move on to something that isn’t annoying.

The Talk Show: ‘I Do Like Throwing a Baby’ 

New episode of America’s favorite 3-star podcast, with special guest John Moltz. Topics include more follow-up from WWDC 2017, the iPad Pro models and ProMotion, Scott Forstall’s interview with John Markoff regarding the 10-year anniversary of the original iPhone, the ongoing shitshow at Uber, quick thoughts on the Nintendo Switch, and more. Also: guess which John enjoys throwing babies into the air.

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Virgin Mobile Partners With Apple to Go iPhone-Only With $1 Service 

Josh Centers, writing for TidBITS on Virgin Mobile’s intriguing decision to go iPhone-only:

Pundits have long suspected that two roadblocks stood in the way of Apple becoming a carrier: the infrastructure is incredibly expensive, even if you lease it from the larger carriers, and Apple could limit the iPhone business if it were to compete with the major carriers.

But Apple has sidestepped those concerns by essentially taking over a carrier (actually a carrier-owned MVNO — Mobile Virtual Network Operator) without acquiring it. Apple may not own Virgin Mobile, but Virgin Mobile is now utterly dependent on Apple and will benefit through promotion in Apple Stores.

We shouldn’t read too much into this deal, but at the very least it’s unusual to see a company like Virgin Mobile going all-in on the iPhone. And it might point toward Apple dipping its toe into the MVNO business.

Virgin Mobile is owned by Sprint (and thus uses Sprint’s back-end), and in my experience Sprint is the worst of the U.S. carriers, so this is not a panacea. But it is intriguing.

The Verge: ‘Apple’s AR Is Closer to Reality Than Google’s’ 

Two great examples via the very fun Made With ARKit Twitter account: here and here.

Rene Ritchie’s First Look at the iOS 11 Public Beta 

Rene Ritchie has a comprehensive look at the just-released public beta of iOS 11. Romain Dillet has a good preview at TechCrunch too. The gist of both previews: it’s the “I hope Apple truly focuses on the iPad this year” release of iOS that we’ve been waiting for.

I’ve been using the developer betas on my 10.5-inch iPad Pro review unit and a spare iPhone. I’m willing to wait to install iOS 11 on my primary iPhone, but at this point, bugs be damned, I wouldn’t want to use an iPad running iOS 10.3. It’s stable enough, and the benefits of the great new features for iPad far outweigh the downsides of the beta (which, in addition to crashing bugs, include questionable battery life).

Amazon’s New Echo Show Is Very Cool and a Little Creepy 

Mat Honan, writing for BuzzFeed:

It has this wild new feature called Drop In. Drop In lets you give people permission to automatically connect with your device. Here’s how it works. Let’s say my father has activated Drop In for me on his Echo Show. All I have to do is say, “Alexa, drop in on Dad.” It then turns on the microphone and camera on my father’s device and starts broadcasting that to me. For the several seconds of the call, my father’s video screen would appear fogged over. But then there he’ll be. And to be clear: This happens even if he doesn’t answer. Unless he declines the call, audibly or by tapping on the screen, it goes through. It just starts. Hello, you look nice today.

Honestly, I haven’t figured out what to think about this yet. But, it’s here.

I know what to think of this: No fucking way do I want this.

Update: I’ve already gotten a few reader responses arguing that this feature could be great for an Echo Show in the home of an elderly relative. You visit and set it up in their house, explain to them what it does, and then you can check in with them without their needing to do anything at all. I can see that. You can think of it as the digital equivalent of having a set of keys to someone’s house — something you’d only grant to a deeply trusted friend or loved one.

Verizon to Block Email Addresses From Rival Carriers From Logging Into Yahoo or Tumblr Accounts 

From a Tumblr help document euphemistically titled “Heads-Up for AT&T Customers”:

Starting on June 30, 2017, att.net customers will no longer be able to log in to their Yahoo and Tumblr accounts through email addresses with the following domains: att.net, ameritech.net, bellsouth.net, flash.net, nvbell.net, pacbell.net, prodigy.net, sbcglobal.net, snet.net, swbell.net, and wans.net.

The sheer egregiousness of this is outrageous on its face, but it’s even worse when you consider that Tumblr, when it was independent, was a champion for net neutrality.

Update: TechCrunch says it’s just a deal expiring, not spite:

As part of the new corporate merger of Yahoo and Aol under the Oath brand, it looks like Yahoo accounts will no longer be accessible through AT&T email addresses (or those of any A&T subsidiaries).

The move provoked some uproar among net neutrality advocates, but it seems to be less about creating walled gardens and more about cleaning up prior commitments and pre-existing partnerships. While there is a level of inconvenience for AT&T customers, this is less about net neutrality and more about unwinding those corporate deals.

I still say fuck Verizon and their stance on net neutrality.

Trump’s Lies, the Definitive List 

Copiously documented and perfectly presented. Looked striking in the print edition, too.

Delta Updates and App Thinning Do Not Solve the Apps-Are-Too-Damn-Big Problem 

Matt Birchler:

“App thinning” is not a magic bullet that erases this problem though, as Facebook Messenger, which shows as being 154 MB, still downloaded 99 MB of data for its update. […]

So are giant app sizes a problem? Yes. Do delta updates allow these updates to use less data? Yes. Do delta updates make these large apps a non-issue? Hell no!

Mnml – A Mac Client for Medium 

My thanks to Mnml for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. It’s a native Mac app client for Medium, and can be used for writing, blogging, and notetaking. Based upon the same engine that twice won Desk “Best Apps of the Year” honors, Mnml has all the features you’ll need, wrapped in an attractive, fun – and yes, minimal – interface. Anyone who writes for Medium and prefers native client apps should check it out.

Scott Galloway on Amazon and Whole Foods 

Scott Galloway:

Amazon / Whole Foods will be the fourth-largest grocer in the US, and will likely post growth rates no $10B+ retailer, sans Amazon, has registered. The Seattle firm will apply its operational chops and lower (zero) profit hurdle to the Whole Foods business model and bring prices (way) down. If you wish you could shop at Whole Foods more often, but it’s too expensive, your prayers have been answered. Whole Foods will become the grocery equivalent of a Mercedes for the price of a Toyota. Grocery has stuck their chin out (little innovation), and the entire sector is about to have its jaw shattered.

It’s a great piece. I disagree with him on this though:

Amazon will displace Apple as the top tech hardware innovator, with Alexa cementing itself as the gadget that defines the decade (post iPhone). Grocery / commerce via Alexa will create the utility that Alexa needs to [maintain its lead] over Google and Apple’s home / voice offerings as they try to play catch-up.

Alexa may well maintain its lead in the smart speaker market. It may even grow. Maybe HomePod will be a complete bust. But even if all of that happens, the smartphone will remain the dominant device in people’s lives. Something will eventually replace the phone, but smart speakers aren’t it.

Hardware just isn’t where Amazon is good.

Google Will Stop Reading Your Emails for Gmail Ads 

Mark Bergen, reporting for Bloomberg:

Google is stopping one of the most controversial advertising formats: ads inside Gmail that scan users’ email contents. The decision didn’t come from Google’s ad team, but from its cloud unit, which is angling to sign up more corporate customers.

Alphabet Inc.’s Google Cloud sells a package of office software, called G Suite, that competes with market leader Microsoft Corp. Paying Gmail users never received the email-scanning ads like the free version of the program, but some business customers were confused by the distinction and its privacy implications, said Diane Greene, Google’s senior vice president of cloud. “What we’re going to do is make it unambiguous,” she said.

This is terrific news. Not just because it’s a good policy change in and of itself, but I take it as a sign that Google’s leadership is starting to realize how much damage they’ve done to the company’s reputation by playing fast and loose with their users’ privacy.

Who Americans Spend Their Time With 

Via Jim Coudal, who summarizes this perfectly: “Poetry, in data”.

Kevin Drum’s Thoughtful Critique of Trumpcare 

A succinct rundown of what’s wrong with the Senate Republicans’ “health care” bill.

Nintendo: Switch Shortages Are ‘Definitely Not Intentional’ 

Kyle Orland, reporting for Ars Technica:

Since the days of the NES, people have accused Nintendo of intentionally underproducing hardware in order to drive an artificial feeding frenzy of demand in the marketplace. With the Nintendo Switch remaining nearly impossible to find at retailers nationwide, those same accusations of “false scarcity” have been bubbling up in certain corners.

Nintendo Senior Director of Corporate Communications Charlie Scibetta wants to push back on those accusations. “It’s definitely not intentional in terms of shorting the market,” he told Ars in a recent interview. “We’re making it as fast as we can. We want to get as many units out as we can to support all the software that’s coming out right now… our job really is to get it out as quick as we can, especially for this holiday because we want to have units on shelves to support Super Mario Odyssey.”

How to Build Smaller Apps 

Ben Sandofsky:

Popular social networking apps are over 400 megs. With weekly releases, over one year you’ll download twenty gigs of data.

Since we launched Halide, the most unexpected compliment we’ve heard is about its size. At 11 megs, we’ll push less data in one year than a social network pushes in a single update.

“So you aren’t using Swift,” asked a friend. After all, Swift bundles its standard libraries into your app, bloating its size. Halide is almost entirely Swift. How did we do it? Let’s start with the technical bits.

His conclusion is spot-on:

There really is one weird trick to lose size: focus on your customers.

Bad App Citizens 

Jon Darke:

This got me thinking — as a user who has a lot of apps installed, how much bandwidth does my phone use to keep my apps updated? […]

One Friday I turned off auto-update for apps and let the update queue build up for a week. The results shocked me.

It’s getting to the point where most apps can’t be updated over cellular because they’re all over 100 MB. This is madness.

Update: Many readers have written to argue that the listed sizes in the App Store aren’t what you actually download when updating an app, thanks to app thinning and other features. OK, but even with app thinning and delta updates these apps are still way too big as downloads and take up way too much storage on devices.

More Than 1,000 Uber Employees Ask for Travis Kalanick to Return 

Dan Primack, reporting for Axios:

More than one thousand current Uber employees have signed a letter to the company’s board of directors, asking for the return of deposed CEO Travis Kalanick “in an operational role.” One of its venture capital investors also is chiming in, with a similar message.

Not surprising to me at all — Uber was made in Kalanick’s image.

Kara Swisher: ‘Susan Fowler Proved That One Person Can Make a Difference’ 

Kara Swisher:

It was Lao Tzu who said that “the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

In the case of complete and utter change reeling through Uber right now — culminating in the resignation of its once untouchable CEO Travis Kalanick — it turns out that it began with one of the most epic blog posts to be written about what happens when a hot company becomes hostage to its increasingly dysfunctional and toxic behaviors.

It was clear from the moment you read the 3,000-word post by former engineer Susan Fowler about her time at the car-hailing company that nothing was going to be the same. Titled simply, “Reflecting on one very, very strange year at Uber,” the essay deftly and surgically laid out the map that the media and others would use to prove to its out-to-lunch board and waffling investors that Uber CEO Travis Kalanick had to go.

The truth and courage are a powerful combination.

Gizmodo Investigation Exposes Websites Collecting Form Data Before You Hit ‘Submit’ 

Great investigative work by Kashmir Hill and Surya Mattu for Gizmodo:

During a recent investigation into how a drug-trial recruitment company called Acurian Health tracks down people who look online for information about their medical conditions, we discovered NaviStone’s code on sites run by Acurian, Quicken Loans, a continuing education center, a clothing store for plus-sized women, and a host of other retailers. Using Javascript, those sites were transmitting information from people as soon as they typed or auto-filled it into an online form. That way, the company would have it even if those people immediately changed their minds and closed the page. […]

We decided to test how the code works by pretending to shop on sites that use it and then browsing away without finalizing the purchase. Three sites — hardware site Rockler.com, gift site CollectionsEtc.com, and clothing site BostonProper.com — sent us emails about items we’d left in our shopping carts using the email addresses we’d typed onto the site but had not formally submitted. Although Gizmodo was able to see the email address information being sent to Navistone, the company said that it was not responsible for those emails.

They weren’t responsible for sending the emails, but they were responsible for the email addresses being sent to those websites in the first place. Sending form data surreptitiously is morally wrong, and everyone knows it.

This might sound hyperbolic, but I mean it: I think we’d be better off if JavaScript had never been added to web browsers.

Uber’s Biggest Problem: Its Business Model 

Christopher Mims, in his column for The Wall Street Journal:

But even when it steers through that thicket of crises, Uber will have to come to grips with a fundamental vulnerability that is increasingly apparent in the company’s business model. Uber may be great at technology, but unlike the businesses of Google, Facebook, Apple or Amazon, technology hasn’t proven to be a significant barrier to new entrants in ride-sharing. Across the globe, Uber has dozens of competitors, and in many markets they have grabbed the lion’s share of the ride-sharing market.

Even if Uber fixes all of its current problems, it’s increasingly unlikely that it can live up to the inflated expectations that come with the nearly $70 billion valuation that have made it the world’s most valuable startup. There are barbarians at Uber’s gate, and it’s sorely in need of a moat.

This is why they’re pursuing self-driving technology so aggressively. There’s simply no way that Uber is worth $70 billion without some sort of exclusive technical advantage. That’s the interesting flip side to Kalanick’s ouster — I’m not sure who would want the job.

Chris Lattner on His Stint at Tesla 

Chris Lattner has updated his resume with his accomplishments at Tesla. Unsurprisingly, it sounds like he got a lot done in just five months — including, ironically, addressing an engineering talent retention problem.

Inside Travis Kalanick’s Resignation 

Mike Isaac, reporting for The New York Times:

Travis Kalanick’s final hours as Uber’s chief executive played out in a private room in a downtown Chicago hotel on Tuesday.

There, Mr. Kalanick, who was on a trip to interview executive candidates for Uber, was paid a surprise visit. Two venture capitalists — Matt Cohler and Peter Fenton of the Silicon Valley firm Benchmark, which is one of Uber’s biggest shareholders — presented Mr. Kalanick with a list of demands, including his resignation before the end of the day. The letter was from five of Uber’s major investors, including Benchmark and the mutual fund giant Fidelity Investments. […]

By the end of the day, after hours of haggling and arguing, that course was clear: Mr. Kalanick agreed to step down as Uber’s chief executive.

Truly great reporting from Isaac, including the fact that even during his brief “leave of absence”, he wasn’t really absent at all:

In reality, Mr. Kalanick had little intention of staying away from his company. Almost immediately after announcing the leave of absence, he worked the phones to push out Mr. Bonderman for making the sexist comment onstage at an Uber employee meeting. With the two increasingly at odds, Mr. Kalanick sent out a flurry of texts, phone calls and emails to his allies to pressure Mr. Bonderman to step down from Uber’s board. Hours later, Mr. Bonderman did.

Narrative Maps for ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ Books 

Sarah Laskow, writing for Atlas Obscura:

The last installment of the original “Choose Your Own Adventure” series came out in 1998, but since 2004, Chooseco, founded by one of the series’ original authors, R.A. Montgomery, has been republishing classic volumes, as well as new riffs on the form of interactive fiction that seemed ubiquitous in the 1980s and ’90s. The new editions also carry an additional feature — maps of the hidden structure of each book.

Just looking at the maps included in the article, it’s interesting how wildly varying in complexity these stories were. See also: Christian Swinehart’s color-coded graphical representations of these books.

(Via Kottke.)

John Markoff’s Interview With Scott Forstall and Members of the Original iPhone Team 

The Computer History Museum (now on YouTube):

Museum Historian John Markoff moderates a discussion with former iPhone team members Hugo Fiennes, Nitin Ganatra and Scott Herz, followed by a conversation with Scott Forstall.

Fascinating stories.

Forstall was great. It’s hard to believe he’s been out of Apple and out of the limelight for 5 years — watching him on stage with Markoff it feels like he never left.

‘Four Things in Those Two Sentences’ 

Kara Swisher on Travis Kalanick:

Uber confirmed the resignation, and the company’s board issued a statement that said, in part: “Travis has always put Uber first. This is a bold decision and a sign of his devotion and love for Uber.” (For those who don’t speak fluent tech director, there are four things in those two sentences that are not true.)

Uber Founder Travis Kalanick Resigns as C.E.O. 

Mike Isaac, reporting for The New York Times:

In the letter, titled “Moving Uber Forward” and obtained by The New York Times, the investors wrote to Mr. Kalanick that he must immediately leave and that the company needed a change in leadership. Mr. Kalanick, 40, consulted with at least one Uber board member, and after long discussions with some of the investors, he agreed to step down. He will remain on Uber’s board of directors.

“I love Uber more than anything in the world and at this difficult moment in my personal life I have accepted the investors request to step aside so that Uber can go back to building rather than be distracted with another fight,” Mr. Kalanick said in a statement.

From the outside, it seems like this was inevitable. It was only a question of when.

Chris Lattner Out at Tesla 

Chris Lattner:

Turns out that Tesla isn’t a good fit for me after all. I’m interested to hear about interesting roles for a seasoned engineering leader!

That was quick — he was only hired 5 months ago.

The Outline: ‘Inside Apple’s Global War on Leakers’ 

William Turton has quite a scoop for The Outline:

A recording of an internal briefing at Apple earlier this month obtained by The Outline sheds new light on how far the most valuable company in the world will go to prevent leaks about new products. […]

The briefing, which offers a revealing window into the company’s obsession with secrecy, was the first of many Apple is planning to host for employees. In it, Rice and Freedman speak candidly about Apple’s efforts to prevent leaks, discuss how previous leakers got caught, and take questions from the approximately 100 attendees.

There’s some irony in a leaked recording of an internal briefing on stopping leaks.

This is news to me:

However, Rice says, Apple has cracked down on leaks from its factories so successfully that more breaches are now happening on Apple’s campuses in California than its factories abroad. “Last year was the first year that Apple [campuses] leaked more than the supply chain,” Rice tells the room. “More stuff came out of Apple [campuses] last year than all of our supply chain combined.” […]

In the years since Tim Cook pledged to double down on secrecy, Rice’s team has gotten better at safeguarding enclosures. “In 2014 we had 387 enclosures stolen,” he says. “In 2015 we had 57 enclosures stolen, 50 of which were stolen on the night of announce, which was so painful.” In 2016, Rice says the company produced 65 million housings, and only four were stolen. “So it’s about a one in 16 million loss ratio, which is unheard of in the industry.”

There’s a short (15 minute) podcast that accompanies the report, with Turton and The Outline’s Adrianne Jeffries. It’s worth a listen. (It doesn’t seem possible to link directly to a single episode of their podcast, so here’s a direct link for Overcast users.)

The Talk Show: ‘Egg Freckles’ 

New episode of my podcast, The Talk Show, with special guest Serenity Caldwell. We look back at WWDC 2017 — iOS 11, the new iPad Pro models, MacOS 10.13 “High Sierra”, updated Mac hardware and a tease at the upcoming iMac Pro, where Apple might go with VR and AR, San Jose as the venue for the event itself, and more.

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Microsoft Surface Laptop Teardown 

iFixit gave the Surface Laptop a 0 out of 10 on their “Repairability Score”. The lowest anything from Apple has ever gotten is a 1, I believe.

Verdict: The Surface Laptop is not a laptop. It’s a glue-filled monstrosity. There is nothing about it that is upgradable or long-lasting, and it literally can’t be opened without destroying it. (Show us the procedure, Microsoft, we’d love to be wrong.)

iFixit’s point of view on this is logical, and they’re certainly not alone in wishing for the good old days of user-accessible and user-upgradeable components. But it’s silly to argue that the Surface Laptop is “not a laptop” only because it’s a sealed box. It’s like saying the iPhone is not a phone because it doesn’t have a replaceable battery.

Update: Apple’s AirPods got a 0/10 from iFixit. That just goes to show how little correlation there is between iFixit’s concept of repairability and whether a product is good or not. I consider AirPods to be Apple’s best new product in years.

Standard Ebooks 

Standard Ebooks:

Standard Ebooks is a volunteer driven, not-for-profit project that produces lovingly formatted, open source, and free public domain ebooks.

Ebook projects like Project Gutenberg transcribe ebooks and make them available for the widest number of reading devices. Standard Ebooks takes ebooks from sources like Project Gutenberg, formats and typesets them using a carefully designed and professional-grade style guide, lightly modernizes them, fully proofreads and corrects them, and then builds them to take advantage of state-of-the-art ereader and browser technology. […]

Other free ebooks don’t put much effort into professional-quality typography: they use "straight" quotes instead of “curly” quotes, they ignore details like em- and en-dashes, and they look more like early-90’s web pages instead of actual books.

The Standard Ebooks project applies a rigorous and modern typography manual when developing each and every ebook to ensure they meet a professional-grade and consistent typographical standard. Our ebooks look good.

What a fantastic project. Project Gutenberg is an amazing library, but their books are a mess typographically. (Via Daniel Bogan.)

The Size of iPhone’s Top Apps Has Increased by 1,000 Percent in Four Years 

Randy Nelson, writing for the Sensor Tower blog:

According to Sensor Tower’s analysis of App Intelligence, the total space required by the top 10 most installed U.S. iPhone apps has grown from 164 MB in May 2013 to about 1.8 GB last month, an 11× or approximately 1,000 percent increase in just four years. In the following report, we delve deeper into which apps have grown the most.

Apple really needs to do something about this. It’s not just that these apps are too big, but some of them issue software updates every week (or even more frequently). It’s a huge waste of bandwidth, time, and on-device storage space.

Microsoft AI Team Achieves Perfect Score on Atari 2600 Ms. Pac-Man 

Dani Deahl writing for The Verge:

At long last, the perfect score for arcade classic Ms. Pac-Man has been achieved, though not by a human. Maluuba — a deep learning team acquired by Microsoft in January — has created an AI system that’s learned how to reach the game’s maximum point value of 999,900 on Atari 2600, using a unique combination of reinforcement learning with a divide-and-conquer method.

Unlike the notoriously bad 2600 port of Pac-Man, the Ms. Pac-Man port was both fun and true to the spirit of the coin-op.

Why Reach Navigation Should Replace the Navbar in iOS Design 

Brad Ellis:

As devices change, our visual language changes with them. It’s time to move away from the navbar in favor of navigation within thumb-reach. For the purposes of this article, we’ll call that Reach Navigation.

This design trend is clearly already underway, and Ellis does a terrific job explaining why it’s a good idea.

I can think of a few factors that led to the original iPhone having a top-of-the-screen UI for navigation. First, at just 3.5 inches diagonally, the whole screen was reachable. But another factor might be as simple as the fact that “navigation” was always at the top on desktops — window titles and controls have always been at the top on Mac and Windows. The iPhone didn’t use windows, per se, but there was a certain familiarity with having the titles and controls like Back/Close/Done buttons at the top. Something like the iOS 10 bottom-heavy design of Apple Maps is wholly different from a desktop UI design — as it should be.

Ben Thompson on Amazon and Whole Foods 

Great piece by Ben Thompson on Amazon’s intended acquisition of Whole Foods:

As Mackey surely understood, this meant that AmazonFresh was at a cost disadvantage to physical grocers as well: in order to be competitive AmazonFresh needed to stock a lot of perishable items; however, as long as AmazonFresh was not operating at meaningful scale a huge number of those perishable items would spoil. And, given the inherent local nature of groceries, scale needed to be achieved not on a national basis but a city one.

Groceries are a fundamentally different problem that need a fundamentally different solution; what is so brilliant about this deal, though, is that it solves the problem in a fundamentally Amazonian way.

Ikea Details Plans for Furniture Placement App Powered by Apple’s ARKit 

Mitchel Broussard:

At WWDC this year, Apple senior vice president of software engineering Craig Federighi performed a demo of the company’s new augmented reality platform, ARKit, while mentioning popular furniture company IKEA as an upcoming partner in the technology. Similarly, Apple CEO Tim Cook referenced an Ikea AR partnership in a recent interview with Bloomberg Businessweek.

Now, Ikea executive Michael Valdsgaard has spoken about the company’s partnership with Apple and ARKit, describing an all-new augmented reality app that will help customers make “reliable buying decisions” for Ikea’s big ticket items.

Very cool idea — probably the sort of thing that’s going to be common soon. I’m curious how much of a leg up ARKit will give iOS on this front.

Squarespace Domains 

My thanks to Squarespace for sponsoring last week’s DF RSS feed. Squarespace handles everything related to creating, hosting, and maintaining a website, including domain name registration.

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Designing the Worst Volume Sliders Possible 

This is a fun challenge.

John Markoff to Interview Scott Forstall Next Week 

Blockbuster event next week at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View:

How did iPhone come to be? On June 20, four members of the original development team will discuss the secret Apple project, which in the past decade has remade the computer industry, changed the business landscape, and become a tool in the hands of more than a billion people around the world.

Part 1: Original iPhone Engineers Nitin Ganatra, Scott Herz, and Hugo Fiennes in Conversation with John Markoff

Part 2: Original iPhone Software Team Leader Scott Forstall in Conversation with John Markoff

It kills me that I can’t make this. Hopefully there will be video.

Here’s the thing: Forstall was obviously a divisive figure inside Apple. He saw himself as an indispensable man after Steve Jobs died, and it turns out he wasn’t.

But there can be no dispute that Forstall led one of the most successful software projects ever undertaken. It’s a cliche to say that they achieved the impossible, but what Forstall’s team achieved was considered by many — including many of the members of the team — impossible. But they did it, and in the ensuing years they kept making iOS better and better. It’s not just that they managed to ship the original iPhone OS in June 2007, but the entire run up through Forstall’s ouster from the company was simply amazing.

Across the company, it’s clear that Forstall’s style was not popular. But I know many people who worked on his iOS team, and most of them loved working for him, or at the very least appreciated working for him. The thing I’ve heard over and over is that Forstall was incredibly demanding, yes, but if you were on his team and did good work he had your back.

Forstall pretty much hasn’t said a damn thing about Apple since he left the company five years ago. So if he opens up at all to Markoff, this could be fascinating. His team’s story about actually implementing the original iPhone remains largely untold.

Brian Merchant Has Tony Fadell on Tape 

Nilay Patel, announcing a special episode of The Vergecast with The One Device author Brian Merchant:

And, of course, we talk about the quotes from Tony Fadell and Brett Bilbrey in the excerpt we just published, in which Fadell tells a story about Phil Schiller arguing the iPhone should have a hardware keyboard. Schiller has said the story isn’t true, and Fadell has tried to walk it back as well.

“So I wasn’t in the room at Apple 10, 15 years ago when this would have happened,” says Merchant, who has the exchange on tape. “But this is a quote verbatim as Tony Fadell who was in the room told it to me. He told me this quote in such detail and he gave such a vivid account, and I had no reason to believe it was untrue.”

Merchant says the controversy has “blown him away.”

I figured Merchant had Fadell’s interview recorded. The quotes were too extensive not to have been recorded. It’s pretty clear what happened: Fadell told Merchant exactly what he’s quoted as saying, but now that he’s seen how it’s playing out, he wants to walk it back. It’s a little late for that.

Inductive Charging Is Not ‘Wireless’ 

In the wake of the previous item, allow me a brief rant on the word wireless. Merriam-Webster:

having no wire or wires; specifically : operating by means of transmitted electromagnetic waves a wireless remote

I like New Oxford American’s definition even better:

using radio, microwaves, etc. (as opposed to wires or cables) to transmit signals

Wi-Fi is wireless. No one would accept wireless as a description for an internet connection that required the device to be in physical contact with a charger, even if it were magnetic rather than a port you plug a cable into.

So Apple Watch, for example, does not use wireless charging. Apple describes it perfectly as “magnetic charging”. It sounds like this is what might be in store for the next iPhone. That’d be cool — but it wouldn’t be as cool as being able to charge over the air.

If we call inductive charging “wireless” now, what are we going to call it when it really is wireless in a few years?

Wistron CEO Blabs About Waterproofing and ‘Wireless Charging’ for New iPhone 

Debbie Wu, reporting for Nikkei Asian Review from Taipei:

iPhone assembler Wistron, a smaller rival to Hon Hai Precision Industry and Pegatron, on Wednesday confirmed that waterproof and wireless charging will be incorporated into the new 5.5-inch iPhones to be launched later this year.

“Assembly process for the previous generations of [iPhones] have not changed much, though new features like waterproof and wireless charging now require some different testing, and waterproof function will alter the assembly process a bit,” CEO Robert Hwang told reporters after the company’s annual shareholders’ meeting on Wednesday.

“Mr. Hwang?”

“Yes?”

“Jeff Williams is on the phone for you.”

“Uh, tell him I’m indisposed.”

Stack Overflow Survey: Developers Who Use Spaces Make More Money Than Those Who Use Tabs 

David Robinson, writing for Stack Overflow:

There were 28,657 survey respondents who provided an answer to tabs versus spaces and who considered themselves a professional developer (as opposed to a student or former programmer). Within this group, 40.7% use tabs and 41.8% use spaces (with 17.5% using both). Of them, 12,426 also provided their salary.

Analyzing the data leads us to an interesting conclusion. Coders who use spaces for indentation make more money than ones who use tabs, even if they have the same amount of experience.

As a devout user of tabs, I find this hard to believe. Jiminy. This is like finding out that people who move their lips while they read make more money.

Peter Bright’s reaction:

Developers who use tabs to indent their code, developers who fight for truth and justice and all that is good in the world, those developers have a median salary of $43,750.

But developers who use spaces to indent their code, developers who side with evil and probably spend all day kicking kittens and punching puppies? Their median salary is $59,140.

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