Linked List: September 2014

Schrödinger’s Shift Key 

Allen Pike:

In iOS 7.1, Apple changed the design of the shift key. This was the worst thing to happen in the history of software.

Single most surprising thing about iOS 8 to me is that Apple didn’t fix this.

Microsoft Skips ‘Too Good’ Windows 9, Jumps to Windows 10 

April Fool’s joke in 2013, actual news story in 2014.

How iOS 8’s Time-Lapse Feature Works 

Dan Provost, Studio Neat:

On Apple’s website, they claim that in time-lapse mode, “iOS 8 does all the work, snapping photos at dynamically selected intervals.” When I first read this, I thought they were doing something super fancy, like monitoring the frame for movement and only snapping a picture when something changes. On deeper reflection, this would be a bad idea. Time-lapse videos look best when they are buttery smooth, and dynamically selecting intervals in this fashion would create a jittery and jerky video. So what does Apple mean by “dynamically selected intervals”?

Turns out, what Apple is doing is quite simple, and indeed, pretty clever.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder ‘Endorses’ Apple’s and Google’s Data Encryption 

Julia Edwards, reporting for Reuters:

Apple’s new iPhone 6, released this month, and Google’s coming update of the Android smartphone have data encryption so sophisticated that only the user may unlock it. Even law enforcement officers with search warrants would not have access.

“It is fully possible to permit law enforcement to do its job while still adequately protecting personal privacy,” Holder said in a speech before the Global Alliance Against Child Sexual Abuse Online.

Holder said quick access to phone data can help law enforcement officers find and protect victims, such as those targeted by kidnappers and sexual predators.

This is no different than law enforcement asking for “quick access” into the locked doors of our homes or offices.

Why Clay Shirky Asked His Students to Put Their Laptops Away 

Clay Shirky:

Jonathan Haidt’s metaphor of the elephant and the rider is useful here. In Haidt’s telling, the mind is like an elephant (the emotions) with a rider (the intellect) on top. The rider can see and plan ahead, but the elephant is far more powerful. Sometimes the rider and the elephant work together (the ideal in classroom settings), but if they conflict, the elephant usually wins.

After reading Haidt, I’ve stopped thinking of students as people who simply make choices about whether to pay attention, and started thinking of them as people trying to pay attention but having to compete with various influences, the largest of which is their own propensity towards involuntary and emotional reaction. (This is even harder for young people, the elephant so strong, the rider still a novice.)

Interesting comparison to second-hand smoking, too:

The final realization — the one that firmly tipped me over into the “No devices in class” camp — was this: screens generate distraction in a manner akin to second-hand smoke. A paper with the blunt title Laptop Multitasking Hinders Classroom Learning for Both Users and Nearby Peers says it all.

On PayPal and Apple Pay 

Ian Kar, writing for Bank Innovation:

Apple and PayPal started talking early on in Apple’s development of Apple Pay, as Apple was setting up partnerships with the card issuing banks and card networks. Since PayPal’s a payments industry leader, it would have been shortsighted for Apple to not reach out to PayPal.

But while these talks were going on, PayPal went ahead and partnered with Samsung on the Galaxy S5 fingerprint scanner, a move that was reportedly forced onto PayPal by eBay CEO John Donahoe. PayPal’s now-former president David Marcus was purportedly categorically against the Samsung deal, knowing that it would jeopardize PayPal’s relationship with Apple. Donahoe won the day, however.

Apple was said to be absolutely furious that PayPal did the deal with Samsung, which led Apple to cut PayPal out of the Apple Pay process entirely. (One source said: “Apple kicked them out of the door.”) This dust up with Apple was a big reason that David Marcus ended up leaving PayPal for Facebook.

Smooth move.

What It’s Like to Fly in Singapore Airlines Suites Class 

As Jason Snell points out, keep the idea of $18,000 plane tickets in mind when it comes to the pricing of Apple Watch.

Update: Fireballed, still. Cached version here.

Update 2: It appears that the writer, Derek Low, plagiarized some of the passages and photos from his story.

‘It’s Just a Watch’ 

New branding campaign from Pebble. I like it. The playful, casual, colorful tone suits Pebble well, and the emphasis on price and battery life plays to Pebble’s strengths.

What gives me pause, though, is the “Breathe, Jony” headline. That seems a little petty. Personal, not playful.

Jonathan Hoefler and Tobias Frere-Jones Settle; Terms Undisclosed 

Here’s to hoping this worked out fairly for everyone involved.

The Bézier Game 

Clever game to help you master the pen tool in design apps. (Via Mike Davidson.)

Immutable Mean Mutable? What a Country. 

I’m usually a Mat Honan fan, but his iPhone 6 Plus review was a clunker. Take this:

No matter what Steve Jobs may have said, big phones are better. It’s a great sign for Apple that it doesn’t revere his public statements as immutable truths.

That’s from like page one of the book Ways People Get Apple Completely Wrong. Apple never treated Jobs like a deity whose word was The Truth — neither before nor after his death. He was almost infamous for it. Wired itself ran a list of such statements back in 2010.

Nobody said it better than Tim Cook, though:

“He would flip on something so fast that you would forget that he was the one taking the 180 degree polar [opposite] position the day before,” Cook told Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher. “I saw it daily. This is a gift, because things do change, and it takes courage to change. It takes courage to say, ‘I was wrong.’ I think he had that.”

That’s just one small line, but it crystalizes the way the whole piece just seems confused.

Ariel Adams on Apple Watch 

Ariel Adams, writing on A Blog to Watch:

I feel that people need to understand that the Apple Watch is not only a new type of product for Apple, but the first real “cross-over watch” that wades in both the waters of technology and horology. For a moment, I’d like people to put aside their criticisms and complaints, and consider what I believe to be a future inevitability: the dominance of the smartwatch as a necessary tool in the everyday lives of everyday people.

Apple as a company doesn’t like the term “smartwatch” and will not refer to the Apple Watch as such. They didn’t call the iPhone a smartphone, and as far as they are concerned, it is a “watch” produced by Apple — hence the name.

Long piece, full of insightful observations.

Omni 

Big news from my friend (and still, colleague) Brent Simmons:

I start my new job as a developer at the Omni Group today. You already know them and their wonderful products, and I’ve expressed my admiration for them here on my blog many times.

They’re assembling a Cocoa all-star team up there. There’s probably more concentrated Cocoa talent at Omni than anywhere other than Apple itself.

Steve Cheney: ‘On the Future of Apple and Google’ 

Steve Cheney:

System wide network effects are network effects that take hold when adjacent parts of an overall system are built out — e.g. smartphones, wearables, sensor networks etc. Each one of these categories makes the other much more valuable once it’s built out. These network effects effectively unlock compounded value from the previous layers. People expect value from new categories like wearables and sensor networks overnight. But the reality is that the pieces need to work harmoniously, tied together by software. And only after the infrastructure is in place can developers go and create cool new things. Wearables and sensors and connected devices are interesting — but much more so when tied together with killer apps. And platform history tells us that only after infrastructure is laid do developers write software. This was even true for the internet back in the 90’s. It wasn’t until the web browser and email and other killer apps came along that you really understood the value of the internet, even though it had connected people years earlier.

This is a great piece, thoughtful and thought-provoking. I find it surprising though, that Cheney never once used the word privacy. To me, that’s the fork in the road, the chasm between where Apple and Google are taking us.

Literary Lions Unite in Protest Over Amazon’s E-Book Tactics 

David Streitfeld, reporting for the NYT:

Now, hundreds of other writers, including some of the world’s most distinguished, are joining the coalition. Few if any are published by Hachette. And they have goals far broader than freeing up the Hachette titles. They want the Justice Department to investigate Amazon for illegal monopoly tactics.

They also want to highlight the issue being debated endlessly and furiously on writers’ blogs: What are the rights and responsibilities of a company that sells half the books in America and controls the dominant e-book platform?

Andrew Wylie, whose client roster of heavyweights in literature is probably longer than that of any other literary agent, said he was asking all his writers whether they wanted to join the group, Authors United. Among those who have said yes, Mr. Wylie said in a phone interview from Paris, are Philip Roth, Orhan Pamuk, Salman Rushdie, V. S. Naipaul and Milan Kundera.

So glad the Department of Justice set all this straight by taking Apple to court.

What’s the Difference Between Lucida Grande, Lucida Sans Unicode, and Lucida Sans? 

Glad you asked.

The Talk Show: ‘The Edition Edition’, With Ben Thompson 

Special guest Ben Thompson joins the show for an Apple Watch discussion: what it’ll cost, what it’ll do, how it will be sold, and more. Other topics include “Bend-gate”, Apple’s growing prowess in mobile chip design, and Derek Jeter.

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MacUpdate’s Biggest App Bundle of the Year 

My thanks to MacUpdate for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote their biggest app bundle of the year. Save 90 percent off the regular combined price for all these apps, and get great software, including: Toast 12 Titanium, Circus Ponies NoteBook 4, Tonality Pro, Scrivener, iStat Menus 5, NetShade 6, SimCity 4 Deluxe, and more. Early buyers also get the productivity-boosting Ember, a 2013 “Best Mac App” pick by Apple.

11 great apps for just $49.99. Time is running out, so check out the offer today.

Consumer Reports iPhone 6 and 6 Plus Bend Test 

Consumer Reports:

All the phones we tested showed themselves to be pretty tough. The iPhone 6 Plus, the more robust of the new iPhones in our testing, started to deform when we reached 90 pounds of force, and came apart with 110 pounds of force. With those numbers, it slightly outperformed the HTC One (which is largely regarded as a sturdy, solid phone), as well as the smaller iPhone 6, yet underperformed some other smart phones. […]

Below you can see the pictures of the smart phone carnage, but bear in mind that it took significant force to do this kind of damage to all these phones. While nothing is (evidently) indestructible, we expect that any of these phones should stand up to typical use.

Consumer Reports is the outfit that made Antennagate a thing. If anything, their reputation is such that you’d expect them to fan the flames on this, not extinguish them. They’re saying the iPhone 6 Plus is even more bend-resistant than the regular 6. This should put an end to Bendgate — but it won’t, because in the minds of the deranged, the new iPhones bend like a chocolate bar left out in the sun.

Inside the Building Where Apple Tortures the iPhone 6 

Josh Lowensohn, The Verge:

A few blocks away from Apple’s bustling campus in Cupertino is a rather nondescript building. Inside is absolutely the last place on earth you’d want to be if you were an iPhone. It’s here where Apple subjects its newest models to the kinds of things they might run into in the real world: drops, pressure, twisting, tapping. Basically all the things that could turn your shiny gadget into a small pile of metal and glass.

FBI and Police Departments Endorse Apple’s Full Device Encryption 

The Washington Post:

FBI Director James B. Comey sharply criticized Apple and Google on Thursday for developing forms of smartphone encryption so secure that law enforcement officials cannot easily gain access to information stored on the devices — even when they have valid search warrants.

I can’t think of a better endorsement of Apple and iOS.

“Apple will become the phone of choice for the pedophile,” said John J. Escalante, chief of detectives for Chicago’s police department. “The average pedophile at this point is probably thinking, I’ve got to get an Apple phone.”

Well, that didn’t take long. An even stronger endorsement. The pedophile card is pretty much the last resort for these law enforcement types who feel entitled to the content of our digital devices. Fear mongering with bogeymen and an appeal to base emotions.

Eternal vs. Ephemeral 

Nicolas Schobinger:

I could imagine that the Apple iWatch Edition will generate a lot of repeat buyers. A good trade-in program would recycle your precious metal and refund that to you. You could keep the straps. The price for your repeat purchase could be then a fraction of your initial buy. You could constantly renew your statement with the Edition line and stay current. Ephemeral disrupting Eternal.

Even if it’s not upgradeable (being able to replace S1 with an S2), there ought to be a decent trade-in value for the gold alone.

‘Apple Sells Lots of Devices, Pundits See Doom’ 

Busy week for The Macalope:

This is classic Apple derangement syndrome. Because one YouTube video maker bent one iPhone and could not bend one other Samsung device, no products competing against Apple are bendable. Not worth acknowledging is the fact that people who did some more rigorous testing say you kinda really have to try to bend the iPhone 6 Plus.

Layer Tennis: White vs. Taylor 

Look at the first two volleys in this match. How am I supposed to get any work done today?

Why Now for Apple Watch 

Good piece by Ben Thompson:

The question, then, is why 2015? After all, there are some key ingredients missing in the Watch, the most obvious being the lack of cellular capability. To my mind Apple had three alternatives:

  1. Release an accessory-like Watch today, then transform it into a standalone device once it had its own cellular stack
  2. Wait until the technology was ready and release a fully functional Watch in two or three years time
  3. Release a Watch in 2015 that is designed as if it is a fully functional device, even though for the next few years it needs an iPhone for full functionality

I am largely in agreement with Thompson about Apple having chosen #3.

The confusion about a standalone Watch that is technically not standalone may be too much to overcome from a marketing perspective. I definitely think this is why the presentation was so muddled: Apple wanted to convey that this was a standalone device that would one day be the only device we need all of the time, but they couldn’t actually say that.

That, and the fact that they have chosen to keep much of the Watch’s software secret. I think that’s partly because much of it is unfinished, but mainly out of competitive interests. They expect Apple Watch to be copied just as slavishly as the iPhone was, and don’t want to give their competitors a head start.

Apple Watch as a Standalone Device 

Amir Efrati, writing for The Information (paywall):

Apple doesn’t want to risk cannibalizing sales of the iPhone with a SIM-equipped watch.

That’s not why Apple Watch doesn’t have a SIM card or standalone Wi-Fi. Modern Apple has never been afraid to release products that cannibalize their own products. The iPad has clearly eaten into MacBook sales. The iPhone turned the iPod from Apple’s flagship product line into a small niche. (A company worried about cannibalization would have made a smartphone that required a tethered iPod for music playback.)

A few years down the line, I expect Apple to have a Watch that can replace your iPhone. The tech just isn’t there yet. Apple is already setting expectations for single-day battery life for the Apple Watch, at best. Adding cellular networking would make that significantly worse — and add physical heft.

Joanna Stern Reviews the BlackBerry Passport 

Joanna Stern:

BlackBerry says the apps and the store selection are being updated everyday. But the company’s chief operating officer Marty Beard admits many BlackBerry users also carry an Android phone or iPhone. In fact, that number is close to 40% — and includes billionaire adventurer Richard Branson.

Yet even if I did carry two phones, I wouldn’t pick the Passport. The bulky, awkward design and the unfamiliar keyboard make it hard to justify finding space for it in a pocket or bag.

Not good enough to be your second phone? Ouch.

‘Stacking Silly Pundit Tricks to Burn for Warmth’ 

The Macalope:

Look, all you need to do is get an Android phone from HTC for build quality. Then get an Android phone from Sony because their cameras are so good. Then get a Galaxy Note from Samsung for the largest screen. Then get a Nexus from Google to get a decent software experience. Finally, get a phone from Hauwei because they’re cheap. Then mash them all together and you’ve got one phone that’s better than the iPhone!

Afterlight 2.6: Support for iOS 8 Photo Filtering Extensions 

Joseph Keller, iMore:

You can now use Afterlight’s filters and editing tools without leaving the iOS Photos app. Simply open the available extensions when editing a photo, hit More, and turn Afterlight on. You can use Afterlight’s crop, rotate, color, and filter tools, among others.

The app has also added manual camera controls for taking pictures within the app, and has been optimized for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

Afterlight is one of my very favorite iOS photography apps, and the first one I use that supports the new iOS 8 photo filtering extensions.

The Verge Reviews the BlackBerry Passport 

Dan Seifert, The Verge:

Below the screen is what makes the Passport a true BlackBerry: it has a honest-to-goodness physical keyboard, something no other modern device offers. It’s a throwback to the keyboards that made BlackBerry smartphones so popular in years past, and BlackBerry says it’s essential for efficient productivity on the go. But the Passport’s three row layout isn’t as good as the older designs. It’s too wide, making it all but impossible to type the simplest words with one hand. And for some reason, the spacebar is jammed up into the third row of letters, splitting the keyboard and causing all kinds of confusion for my thumbs. I never got used to it and I remain a far faster and more accurate typist on a good virtual keyboard. It’s not clear to me why BlackBerry didn’t just make the Passport slightly longer to accommodate a fourth row of keys — it’s already a big phone, another quarter-inch wouldn’t make much of a difference in size but would go a long way to improving the keyboard.

Man, if the keyboard doesn’t make people happy, I’m not sure what the point of this is.

Weird Verge-ism toward the end (italics added):

Nobody would really argue that iOS is a super productive platform, but my iPhone offers the tools I need to get my job done, and the Passport does not.

Apple Releases, Then Pulls, iOS 8.0.1 

Juli Clover, reporting for MacRumors:

Following the release of iOS 8.0.1 this morning, numerous of users found that their cellular service was disabled, reporting “No Service” messages after updating. Affected users also appear to be experiencing problems with Touch ID, which seems to be completely non-functional. […]

Apple has pulled iOS 8.0.1 from the Developer Center and it is also no longer available via an over-the-air download.

Embarrassing.

Update: If you already upgraded and are seeing any of these problems, Rene Ritchie has instructions for getting back to iOS 8.0.0.

Credit Where Credit Is Due: Ming-Chi Kuo Nailed It 

Sometimes claim chowder comes out tasting good. KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo absolutely nailed both new iPhones all the way back in April:

In line with previous rumors, Kuo believes the new 4.7-inch model will come with a 1334 × 750 Retina display at 326 pixels per inch, while the 5.5-inch will see a 1920 × 1080 screen at 401 PPI. Both devices will have the same aspect ratio to the iPhone 5, meaning apps will not need to be redesigned for the second time in three years.

The iPhone 6 will include a new A8 processor, 1GB of RAM, Touch ID, a narrower bezel by 10 to 20 percent, and the phone to be thinned to 6.5-7.0mm (the current iPhone 5 is 7.6mm thick). He also expects Apple to finally include NFC chips in its smart phones.

So far as I can tell, Kuo was the first person anywhere to say 1334 × 750 for the 4.7-inch display, and the pixel math worked out perfectly. I disregarded his 1920 × 1080 dimensions for the 5.5-inch display because the math shows that such a display doesn’t even come close to working out at either @2× or @3×. What I failed to even consider is what Apple actually did: a 2208 × 1242 virtual display size that is scaled on-the-fly to 1920 × 1080. As I wrote in my review of the new iPhones, though it sounds like a recipe for blurriness, in practice, the pixels on the 6 Plus are so small that everything looks perfect. I haven’t seen any complaints from iPhone 6 Plus owners in the wild, either.

Kuo’s last-minute predictions were pretty close to the mark too, although he thought perhaps Apple would delay the release of the 6 Plus because of its supply constraints.

Chipworks Disassembles Apple’s A8 SoC 

In broad strokes, Chipworks’s analysis backs up what Phil Schiller told us on stage: the A8 is smaller, faster, and more efficient than the A7. And the competition still hasn’t caught up with the A7.

Smaller is the improvement that interests me most, because of that other product Apple announced two weeks ago.

WSJ: ‘iPhone 6 Is the Most Durable iPhone Yet’ 

Nathan Olivarez-Giles, writing for the WSJ:

The new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus may be the largest iPhones Apple has ever made, but they’re also the toughest, according to SquareTrade, a gadget insurer that publishes a “breakability” index.

Having put the new iPhones through its gauntlet of durability tests this weekend, SquareTrade found that the iPhone 6 holds up impressively well in drops, spills and slips — despite the fact that the new, thinner iPhones are tougher to hold onto given their smooth edges and bigger screens.

The iPhone 6 Plus fared well, too, managing to beat out Samsung’s Galaxy S5 as “the most durable phone with a screen larger than five inches.”

No word on the “sat on it in my ass pocket all day” test.

Get Bent 

I cannot believe that this “bent iPhone 6 Plus” thing is becoming a thing. Watch this jackass’s video — inexplicably promoted by Time magazine. Should not we be amazed that his phone didn’t snap in half under this pressure? That the glass didn’t fracture? Under pressure like this, bending but not breaking seems like an extraordinary feature. If you feel pressure like this on your iPhone 6 in your pocket, you need looser pants. And if you put your phone in your back pocket and sit on it, I’m not sure what to tell you.

Why SwiftKey Needs ‘Full Access’ 

This was very confusing to me when I tried out the SwiftKey keyboard for iOS:

Full Access simply means you are giving the keyboard extension permission to interact with the app (the SwiftKey app on your homescreen). None of your language insights leave your device unless you opt in to SwiftKey Cloud, which is a backup and sync service that also lets SwiftKey learn from your writing on sites like Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Good to know that nothing at all gets sent over the network unless you opt-in.

My one-day impression: for two-thumb tap-typing, SwiftKey feels a lot like the iOS system keyboard. (That’s a compliment.) “Flow”, SwiftKey’s swipe-around-without-lifting-your-finger method, feels really slow for me. Judging from my followers on Twitter, it’s really popular with people who type one-handed on their phones, but personally I almost never do that. And when I do need to type something one-handed, I just use the speech-to-text dictate button. So SwiftKey is not for me, but I can see why one-hand phone typists love it.

‘Derek Jeter Opens the Door’ 

Nice profile for New York Magazine by Chris Smith, with photos by Christopher Anderson.

How to Be Right a Lot of the Time 

Jason Fried, relaying advice from Jeff Bezos:

He said people who were right a lot of the time were people who often changed their minds. He doesn’t think consistency of thought is a particularly positive trait. It’s perfectly healthy — encouraged, even — to have an idea tomorrow that contradicted your idea today.

Manual for iPhone 

We have a winner for Best App Introduction of the Year.

Things That Were True on 8 September 2014 

I’m still catching up on my reading from the last two weeks. Here’s a good prelude to Apple’s event from Jon Bell:

So I’d like to write down a few things that we all know to be true on Monday, September 8, the day before Apple’s big announcement. It’s not that I think Apple’s new product will necessarily change the world, but it’d be interesting to have a way to compare the reality on the ground before and after Apple’s latest foray.

Samsung Exits Laptop Market in Europe 

Chris Martin, PC Advisor:

“We quickly adapt to market needs and demands. In Europe, we will be discontinuing sales of laptops including Chromebooks for now. This is specific to the region – and is not necessarily reflective of conditions in other markets,” said a Samsung spokesperson.

MacRumors: ‘Some iPhone 6 Plus Owners Accidentally Bending Their iPhones in Pockets’ 

Maybe this is why Samsung makes their big-ass phones out of plastic.

AnandTech: iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus Preliminary Benchmarks 

Here’s how utterly dominant Apple’s position is in mobile semiconductor design: not only are the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus the two top scorers in web browser benchmarking, but in third place sits the year-old iPhone 5S.

Also worth noting: the iPhone 6 is seemingly on par with the 6 Plus performance-wise.

(And what’s up with AnandTech not getting review units in advance? You’d think they’d know a guy who could put in a good word for them with Apple.)

‘iPod’s Dirty Secret’ 

If the name Casey Neistat rings a bell, that’s because he’s the rabble-rouser who made this bullshit video back in 2003 claiming that iPod batteries only lasted 18 months.

From the DF archive: “More Accurate (but, Admittedly, Less Sensational) Alternative Stencil Slogans for the ‘Neistat Brothers’”.

Stu Maschwitz on Casey Neistat’s iPhone 6 ‘Black Market’ Movie 

Casey Neistat made waves over the weekend with a short film documenting the mercenary nature of the lines outside Apple Stores in New York City for the iPhones 6. And yes, a seemingly overwhelming number of the line-waiters were Asian, many of them non-English speakers. I noticed the same thing in Portland last year, when XOXO was scheduled the same weekend as the iPhone 5S and 5C going on sale. My hotel was across the street from Portland’s downtown Apple Store, the queue stretched all the way around the block and most of the people waiting in line seemed to be non-English-speaking Asians, not the least bit enthused about the iPhone itself.

Things have certainly changed from 2007, when the lines for the original iPhone were like Apple fan club meetings. But so what? The world has changed. Apple only sold about 6 million of the original iPhone in the course of a year. They will sell well over 100 million iPhone 6 and 6 Plus units before we’re here again with next year’s new models.

Count me with Stu Maschwitz: this film is pointless, and I think more than a little racist. When you can wait in line, pay $1000 for a new 6 Plus, then walk out of the store and resell it immediately for $1500 or more, that’s going to attract people who want to buy them for no reason other than to flip them. And I guarantee you not everyone waiting in line (or as they say in New York, on line) Friday morning to buy new iPhones just to flip them was Asian. And if the going rate in mainland China is over $2,500, as Quartz is reporting, then it makes all the more sense, simply as capitalism at work, that many of the line-waiters are Chinese-Americans looking to turn a profit.

The problems start right with the title: reselling iPhones is not “black market”. “Black market” means illegal, and there is nothing illegal about reselling a legally purchased iPhone. These phones are gray market, at worst. The leaked iPhone 6 units that came out of the supply chain weeks ago — those were black market goods.

Apple Pay Human Interface Guidelines (PDF) 

A friend sent me this link, with the quip, “So simple the HIG is less than 3 pages.” I pointed out there’s a title page, so let’s be honest and call it 4.

One line that stuck out to me:

Note that the Apple Pay sheet always displays text in all capital letters.

I wonder what the deal is with that? I’m guessing it’s a legacy shit sandwich from the existing credit card processing infrastructure.

‘Not a Hobby’ 

Michael Lopp:

While I use my Apple TV every single day, my opinion is the reason Apple calls it a hobby is because it’s a derived product. It’s a bit of iTunes, a little bit of iOS, there’s some hardware there, too, but it’s hardware you shove into a corner and never see. With all respect to the Apple TV team, there was nothing “Apple hard” in Apple TV’s design – that important innovative work has been done elsewhere.

The Apple Watch is not a hobby.

Definitely not a hobby.

‘Cheaper Than Rocks’ 

Ted Rall on Amazon’s Fire Phone.

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Samsung Galaxy S5 

Side-by-side comparison from The Onion.

Igloo 

My thanks to Igloo, the intranet you’ll actually like, for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Igloo is built with easy-to-use apps, like blogs, calendars, file sharing, forums, microblogs (think: private Twitter), task management and wikis.

It’s everything you need to work better together, in one very configurable cloud platform.

With Igloo’s responsive design, your intranet already handles a range of devices: iOS, Android, even BlackBerry, and it will work on your iPhone 6 or 6 Plus right from the start. Igloo is free to use with up to ten of your favorite co-workers. Sign up now to start building your mobile-friendly Igloo.

iPhone 6 Slow Motion Wine Pour 

Watch this beautiful footage, then think about how far we’ve come, so fast. The original iPhone’s camera didn’t even shoot video at all.

Six Colors 

And speaking of Jason Snell, this week he launched his new post-Macworld home: the perfectly named Six Colors. So good. Instant RSS subscription.

The whole Macworld thing is still a bit of a shock, but I think it’ll all work out for the best in the end. This gets Jason back to what he does best: writing.

‘Orson Welles of the Genre’ 

Also speaking of podcasts, Horace Dediu, Jason Snell, and yours truly were the guests on the latest episode of Moisés Chiullan’s Electric Shadow, talking about Apple and their use of cinema and cinematic techniques.

The Rebound 

Speaking of nerdy tech podcasts, there’s a good new one: The Rebound, starring my pal John Moltz.

‘Twenty-One Thousand Words’ 

New episode of The Talk Show, with special guest Rene Ritchie.

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Swatch Inventor on Apple Watch: ‘I Would Definitely Wear It’ 

Elmar Mock, inventor of the Swatch:

The Apple Watch is by far the most attractive of the smartwatches. I would definitely wear it. Don’t forget that the early smartphones did not immediately replace conventional mobile phones. When the iPhone first launched, Blackberry was sure that consumers would notice the lack of a keyboard and Nokia was convinced that the big screen would put users off…

The True Cost of a Subsidized iPhone 6 

Ed Bott:

Those contract prices include a $450 subsidy by the carriers, who are not in the business of giving money away. And they make sure they recover that subsidy. In some cases, they end up charging you hundreds of dollars more than you would lay out if you simply bought it outright.

After you add that device to your shopping cart, you then have to select a monthly plan and agree to pay the price of that plan for two years.

And guess what? For the three carriers that dominate the U.S. mobile market, the monthly prices for contract plans are significantly higher than those you will pay if you buy the phone outright or finance the full retail price.

The FTC ought to step in and force the carriers to clearly tell you the true price you’ll pay for your phone over the course of your two-year contract. And kudos to T-Mobile for being the only U.S. carrier with honest pricing.

Remember Flash Player? 

[Posted this 30 minutes ago thinking it was a new story, but it’s from 2011. ZDNet’s “Related Story” widget fooled me, sorry about that. Still interesting to me re: the Lynch angle.]

Good to know the guy who was responsible for Flash Player at Adobe is now in charge of the software for Apple Watch. The optimist’s angle is that Kevin Lynch was just doing his part as a team player. But his evangelism for Flash Player for mobile devices looks downright silly in hindsight.

The Line for iPhones 6 at Flagship Fifth Avenue Apple Store Stretched 12 Blocks 

Good time to take a look back at Henry Blodget’s 2011 prognostication: “Android Clobbering Everyone, iPhone Dead in the Water”.

Android L to Offer Full Device Encryption, on by Default 

Craig Timberg, the Washington Post:

The next generation of Google’s Android operating system, due for release next month, will encrypt data by default for the first time, the company said Thursday, raising yet another barrier to police gaining access to the troves of personal data typically kept on smartphones.

Android has offered optional encryption on some devices since 2011, but security experts say few users have known how to turn on the feature. Now Google is designing the activation procedures for new Android devices so that encryption happens automatically; only somebody who enters a device’s password will be able to see the pictures, videos and communications stored on those smartphones.

Good news for everyone, but seriously — how many years until a majority of Android users are running Android L or higher? Five?

Android Browser Flaw a ‘Privacy Disaster’ for Half of Android Users 

Peter Bright, writing for Ars Technica:

A bug quietly reported on September 1 appears to have grave implications for Android users. Android Browser, the open source, WebKit-based browser that used to be part of the Android Open Source Platform (AOSP), has a flaw that enables malicious sites to inject JavaScript into other sites. Those malicious JavaScripts can in turn read cookies and password fields, submit forms, grab keyboard input, or do practically anything else. […]

Google’s own numbers paint an even worse picture. According to the online advertising giant, only 24.5 percent of Android users are using version 4.4. The majority of Android users are using versions that include the broken component, and many of these users are using 4.1.x or below, so they’re not even using versions of Android that use Chrome as the default browser. […]

Just how this fix will be made useful is unclear. While Chrome is updated through the Play Store, the AOSP Browser is generally updated only through operating system updates. Timely availability of Android updates remains a sticking point for the operating system, so even if Google develops a fix, it may well be unavailable to those who actually need it.

It’ll all work out in five or six years when most Android users are running 4.4 or higher.

Vesper 2.004 

Dave Wiskus:

There are a number of technical details that Brent can clarify, but the bottom line is that UITextView on iOS 7 had a number of significant technical problems. iOS 8 brings fixes for most of them, which allowed us to work around the rest fairly reliably. If you find any lingering problems, please let us know.

Also, while not technically a feature, we did use 2.004 as an opportunity to provide support for the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus. When you get your new phone, Vesper should look great.

First thing I did with my iPhone 6 review units was install Vesper, and I can testify that it looks good. For marketing purposes, Apple is (rightly) focused on what’s new in iOS 8. But under the hood, Apple fixed a lot of bugs and tweaked a slew of details. The TextKit improvements are near and dear to my heart because of Vesper, but there are improvements like that all over iOS 8.

‘I’ll Walk From Here’ 

Speaking of Derek Jeter and his impending retirement, if this new spot from Gatorade doesn’t make you feel something, you’re not hooked up right.

342,000 Swings Later, Derek Jeter Calls It a Career 

Fascinating data visualization from the New York Times. As Kottke wrote, “This is like Powers of Ten, but with Derek Jeter bat swings.”

(Web dev nerds: be sure to check it out on your phone, too. It runs smoother and looks better on my iPhone than it does my aging MacBook Pro.)

Apple Says iOS 8 Update Keeps Data Private, Even From the Police 

Brian X. Chen, writing for the NYT:

“Unlike our competitors, Apple cannot bypass your passcode and therefore cannot access this data,” the company said on the new webpage. “So it’s not technically feasible for us to respond to government warrants for the extraction of this data from devices in their possession running iOS 8.”

Christopher Soghoian, a principal technologist for the American Civil Liberties Union, said Apple’s new privacy policy reflected the revelations of the government surveillance programs revealed in documents leaked by Edward J. Snowden. “The public has said they want companies to put their privacy first, and Apple has listened,” Mr. Soghoian said.

Austin Mann’s iPhone 6 and 6 Plus Camera Review in Iceland 

Amazing, jaw-dropping review of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus cameras. Hats off to Mann (and his partners at The Verge) for this. Informative, amazing, and gorgeous.

Larry Ellison Steps Down as Oracle’s CEO 

Ashlee Vance, reporting for Businessweek:

Larry Ellison has agreed to step down as the chief executive officer at Oracle, ending one of the most entertaining and profitable runs for a leader in business history.

Oracle announced Ellison’s departure via a press release delivered on Thursday afternoon after the close of the U.S. financial markets. The company said that Ellison will remain Chairman of Oracle’s board and take on the role of chief technology officer. Mark Hurd and Safra Catz, both presidents at Oracle, will each inherit the CEO title. Catz will remain as chief financial officer as well.

He goes out on top, on his own terms, with Oracle stock at an all-time high.

Sign of the Impending Culture Clash 

Phil Nickinson, writing for Android Central:

Sure, the Horween Leather on the Moto 360 is mighty fine, but watches are all about customization, particularly when it comes to the straps. But because of the size and shape of the Moto 360, we’ve had to be a little careful of shoving just any old strap in there. A good many have turned out to just be too thick to fit in the curved plastic casing.

Meanwhile, a good many of us are waiting for the official steel bracelets to be made available (at a hefty a la carte price of $79.99). But it turns out that you might already have an alternative on hand, or can get one for a mere $20.

$80 for a steel watch band is a “hefty price”. That’s adorable.

Update: Allow me to elaborate. $80 is not a “hefty price” for a steel watch bracelet. It’s normal, for watches in the $200-300 range, which is exactly the range where the Moto 270 sits. Pebble’s $19 steel watch bracelet is the equivalent of $.99 prices for apps. $500 for a watch bracelet is “hefty”, I agree. $2,500 for a bracelet is extravagant, I’d agree. But $80 is squarely within the mainstream, the mass market.

(Via Rene Ritchie).

‘I Have a Great Way of Saying the Government Has Ordered a Pizza’ 

Geoffrey Fowler and Joanna Stern:

Now the latest version of Apple’s iPhone software, iOS 8, adds a layer of smarts on top of autocorrect called QuickType, predictive typing of a sort previously found on Android. Not only does it suggest spelling, it also suggests words you might want to type next. If you keep following its train of robotic thought, QuickType will form entire sentences on your behalf.

The result is so goofy that it is brilliant. For the last week, we — your WSJ personal technology columnists — have been conducting serious tests of the new iPhones and iOS 8, while also holding nonsensical auto-generated conversations with each other.

Tim Cook on Apple and Privacy 

Tim Cook:

A few years ago, users of Internet services began to realize that when an online service is free, you’re not the customer. You’re the product. But at Apple, we believe a great customer experience shouldn’t come at the expense of your privacy.

Our business model is very straightforward: We sell great products. We don’t build a profile based on your email content or web browsing habits to sell to advertisers. We don’t “monetize” the information you store on your iPhone or in iCloud. And we don’t read your email or your messages to get information to market to you. Our software and services are designed to make our devices better. Plain and simple. […]

Finally, I want to be absolutely clear that we have never worked with any government agency from any country to create a backdoor in any of our products or services. We have also never allowed access to our servers. And we never will.

That Tim Cook and Steve Jobs are very different people has been a common refrain for three years, and it came up again this week in his interview with Charlie Rose. But one trait they share is the ability to write in simple, straightforward words. I say clear writing is a sign of clear thinking. Tim Cook and the rest of Apple’s leadership are serious about this — both as a moral issue and as a competitive advantage to tout over Google. They should have called this “Thoughts on Privacy”, because it reads an awful lot like Jobs’s “Thoughts on Music” and “Thoughts on Flash”.

Apple Pulls iOS 8 HealthKit Apps From the App Store 

Apple statement:

We discovered a bug that prevents us from making HealthKit apps available on iOS 8 today. We’re working quickly to have the bug fixed in a software update and have HealthKit apps available by the end of the month.

These iOS releases are usually rough, because the software release dates are set in stone by the iPhone hardware release dates.

Apple Updates Privacy Policy 

Apple:

The Apple Privacy Policy was updated on September 17, 2014. The changes were made predominantly to cover new features that will be released with iOS 8 or to provide additional information on current data use such as date of birth and third party user data provided by our users (for example when sending products or gift certificates). None of the changes are retroactive.

We added language to cover Spotlight Suggestions, Analytics, Family Sharing and AppleID for users under the age of 13 or equivalent age in their countries. Finally, we added a description of technologies used by location-based services, including GPS, Bluetooth, IP address, and crowd-source wi-fi hotspot and cell tower locations.

Most privacy policies are written in opaque legalese. Apple’s isn’t. It’s straightforward and readable. They really want you to read it, and understand the privacy implications of using their products and services.

One More Thing 

Going through my notes, I realized that I neglected to write about pricing and storage tiers in my iPhones 6 review. I really wanted to, and blame exhaustion for omitting it. I just went back and added it, but assuming most of you have already read my review, I’ll quote the new section here for your convenience:

Pricing decisions are sometimes subjective, but to me it feels just right that the 6 Plus costs $100 more than the regular 6 at each storage tier. The superior display quality, optical image stabilizer, and larger battery seem like a fair deal for $100. This also means this is the first year ever in which I’m not buying myself the most expensive iPhone.

I’m glad to see Apple double the middle and high storage tiers, from 32/64 to 64/128. I like to store my entire music library on my iPhone, but with “only” 64 GB of total storage, that meant I kept running out of space as I shot videos and took photos. (I love panoramic photos, but they’re very large.)

But I don’t understand why the entry level storage tier remained at a meager 16 GB. That seems downright punitive given how big panoramic photos and slo-mo HD videos are, and it sticks out like a sore thumb when you look at the three storage tiers together: 32/64/128 looks natural; 16/64/128 looks like a mistake. The original iPhone, seven years and eight product generations ago, had an 8 GB storage tier. The entry-level iPhones 6 are 85 times faster than that original iPhone, but have only twice the storage capacity. That’s just wrong. This is the single-most disappointing aspect of the new phones.

(Don’t even get me started on the 8 GB iPhone 5C.)

Using the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus on a Trip to Disneyland 

Matthew Panzarino reviews the iPhones 6:

Last week I decided to test the most secretive, hotly anticipated smartphones on earth in a place where there was no danger of them being recognized or damaged or both: Disneyland.

Both my wife and I are Disneyphiles of sorts, and visit a dozen times a year or more. I have an appreciation for it because my daughter loves to go, but also because of how carefully the place is planned, constructed and run. Disneyland is the Apple of theme parks. What better place to test the new models?

I’ve had a ton of experience using phones to navigate, communicate and photograph in the park. It’s tens of thousands of people packed into the same square mile, all using devices to do the exact same thing you are. The network is crushed, it’s bright and hot and you’re juggling kids and strollers and other vacationers. It’s an ideal real-world test for smartphone batteries, screens, usability and cameras.

What a great conceit for a review. Panzarino’s is probably my favorite iPhone 6 review so far. I’m really impressed by the digital image stabilization on his video footage shot with the iPhone 6 (on Big Thunder Mountain — a good test). Maybe I’m just kidding myself, but I don’t think the optical image stabilization in the 6 Plus makes that much of a difference.

Room to Spare 

The original iPhone fits entirely within the display, just the display, of the iPhone 6 Plus. One of these iPhones, I love to death.

Promotional Images That Hide the iPhone 6 Camera Bulge 

Ben Brooks:

In other words with clever lighting and placement Apple hides that bump in profile view where it clearly would ruin the clean line and sleek looks. That doesn’t make the iPhone 6 bad, but it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. If you are embarrassed about the bump then don’t have it, but if you have a bump I think you need to own the bump.

I think this is a mistake on Apple’s part. If the iPhone 6 is going to have a camera bulge (and it does), they should wear it with pride. Like Brooks says, own it. Rock that bulge. And they do, in some shots. I noticed this one at the 9:06 mark during the keynote. That’s exactly what the iPhone 6 looks like in real life.

Songs of Anger 

One last post on the Songs of Innocence giveaway fiasco. Marco Arment:

It was a sloppy, ham-fisted execution uncharacteristic of Apple, much like the painfully awkward, forced, cheesy Tim/Bono marketing skit announcing this promotion that slaughtered the momentum of the otherwise very important iPhone 6/Pay/Watch event.

The damage here isn’t that a bunch of people need to figure out how to delete an album that they got for free and are now whining about. It’s that Apple did something inconsiderate, tone-deaf, and kinda creepy for the sake of a relatively unimportant marketing campaign, and they seemingly didn’t think it would be a problem.

I wonder about that last clause. Did anyone among Apple’s leadership raise questions about this promotion? Regarding either the “we’ll just add it to everyone’s purchased music” thing that has so many people upset, or, the way the whole thing was a complete and utter distraction punctuating the otherwise nearly flawless iPhones/Pay/Watch event.

Tim Cook’s Charlie Rose Interview 

Easily the best and most interesting interview with Tim Cook I’ve ever seen. A must-watch for anyone interested in Apple and Cook’s leadership. Part two airs tonight. (It’s Hulu, alas, so I suspect it isn’t available worldwide.)

Update: The version on Charlie Rose’s website apparently works everywhere.

Requiem for the iPod Classic 

Mat Honan:

For ten years my iPod — in various incarnations — was my constant companion. It went with me on road trips and backpacking through the wilderness. I ran with it. I swam with it. (In a waterproof case!) I listened to sad songs that reminded me of friends and family no longer with me. I made a playlist for my wife to listen to during the birth of our first child, and took the iPod with us to the hospital. I took one to a friend’s wedding in Denmark, where they saved money on a DJ by running a four hour playlist, right from my iPod. And because the party lasted all night, they played it again.

Everyone played everything again and again.

And now it’s dead. Gone from the Apple Store. Disappeared, while we were all looking at some glorified watch.

Apple, U2, and Looking a Gift Horse in the Mouth 

Peter Cohen, writing for iMore:

Let me say at the outset that I’m pretty ambivalent about U2 myself. They’ve never been one of those bands that I’ve absolutely had to have the latest album from. In fact, Songs of Innocence is the only U2 record I have in my iTunes library.

But the inordinate amount of actual anger directed at Apple and U2 over this is so disproportional to the actual event, I’ve started to wonder about the mental state of some of those complaining. It’s really been off the charts.

If you fall into that camp, let me speak very plainly: I have no sympathy for you. I have trouble thinking of a more self-indulgent, “first world problem” than saying “I hate this free new album I’ve been given.”

Nailed it.

‘Why Amazon Has No Profits (and Why It Works)’ 

Benedict Evans:

When you buy Amazon stock (the main currency with which Amazon employees are paid, incidentally), you are buying a bet that he can convert a huge portion of all commerce to flow through the Amazon machine. The question to ask isn’t whether Amazon is some profitless ponzi scheme, but whether you believe Bezos can capture the future. That, and how long are you willing to wait?

U2’s Forgettable Fire 

Sasha Frere-Jones’s track-by-track review of U2’s Songs of Innocence:

“California (Blah Blah Blah)”: The track sounds like seventeen different bands averaged out in Yelp and turned into an Active Rock Smoothie. Nowhere near as good as “Drunk In Love.”

Starting to get the feeling this promotion hasn’t worked out exactly the way U2 and Apple thought it would.

Bob Lefsetz on U2 and Apple 

Bob Lefsetz:

This looked like nothing so much as what it was, old farts using their connections to shove material down the throats of those who don’t want it. It’s what we hate so much about today’s environment, rich people who think they know better and are entitled to their behavior.

Not quite as scathing as Lewis Wallace calling it “a pity-fuck for a band that’s lost its edge”, but close.

Panasonic CM1: Hybrid Camera/Smartphone 

The most interesting Android phone I’ve seen in years: it’s more like a point-and-shoot camera with a phone than a phone with a camera.

New Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Commercial Mocks Apple for Being Late to Big-Ass Phone Game 

Weird ad. The time for Samsung to try to make hay out of this was last year, when Apple didn’t have a plus-sized iPhone. “We have something they don’t have” is a good marketing message. “We were first”, not so much. They’re just amplifying the already incredible public awareness that big new iPhones are available.

Dropbox 2014 Transparency Report 

They also published their “Government Data Requests Principles”. Sounds like they’re doing right by their users.

Apple Support Document: ‘Remove iTunes Gift Album “Songs of Innocence” From Your iTunes Music Library and Purchases’ 

There.

Chris Ware’s ‘The Last Saturday’ 

The Guardian:

A brand new graphic novella by the award-winning cartoonist Chris Ware, tracing the lives of six individuals from Sandy Port, Michigan, published in weekly episodes.

Great work from Ware, as always, and an interesting presentation from The Guardian. (Via Coudal.)

Markus Persson: ‘I’m Leaving Mojang’ 

Minecraft creator Markus “Notch” Persson:

I love you. All of you. Thank you for turning Minecraft into what it has become, but there are too many of you, and I can’t be responsible for something this big. In one sense, it belongs to Microsoft now. In a much bigger sense, it’s belonged to all of you for a long time, and that will never change.

It’s not about the money. It’s about my sanity.

Mojang: ‘Yes, We’re Being Bought by Microsoft’ 

Mojang makes it official:

As you might already know, Notch is the creator of Minecraft and the majority shareholder at Mojang. He’s decided that he doesn’t want the responsibility of owning a company of such global significance. Over the past few years he’s made attempts to work on smaller projects, but the pressure of owning Minecraft became too much for him to handle. The only option was to sell Mojang. He’ll continue to do cool stuff though. Don’t worry about that.

There are only a handful of potential buyers with the resources to grow Minecraft on a scale that it deserves. We’ve worked closely with Microsoft since 2012, and have been impressed by their continued dedication to our game and its development. We’re confident that Minecraft will continue to grow in an awesome way.

Record Pre-Orders for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus 

Apple:

Apple today announced a record number of first day pre-orders of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, the biggest advancements in iPhone history, with over four million in the first 24 hours. Demand for the new iPhones exceeds the initial pre-order supply and while a significant amount will be delivered to customers beginning on Friday and throughout September, many iPhone pre-orders are scheduled to be delivered in October.

Busy weekend.

Jonathan Mann Sums Up Day One of XOXO Fest 2014 

What an amazing event — there’s nothing else like XOXO.

Pixate 

My thanks to Pixate for once again sponsoring the DF RSS feed. With Pixate, mobile designers can craft sophisticated animations and interactions for any form factor. You can already start designing for new displays like those on the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, and they’re already working on support for the Apple Watch. And here’s the thing: Pixate generates 100 percent native iOS (and Android) prototypes. Native code, not web views.

They have a special deal just for DF readers: Sign up now to get on the waiting list and you’ll get a free month when Pixate launches.

Why Apple Pay Could Be the Mobile-Payment System You’ll Actually Use 

Rich Mogull, writing for Macworld:

But aside from the technical differences, Apple is in a unique position due to its business model. It doesn’t want or need to track transactions. It doesn’t want or need to be the payment processor. It isn’t restricted by carrier agreements, since it fully controls the hardware. Google, although first to the market by a matter of years, is still hamstrung by device manufacturers and carriers. Softcard is hamstrung by the usual greed and idiocy of mobile phone providers. PayPal has no footprint on devices.

This is a long-term investment by Apple, and possibly one of the most important since it first built the iTunes Store. Apple is putting its muscle behind improving the user experience of making payments, and using that to sell more devices. It won’t make much directly from Apple Pay now. But as more people use supported devices and push more merchants to support the user experience, odds are that those small per-transaction fees will grow into a significant source of revenue.

Letter of Recommendation 

Chris Breen sings the praises of his former colleagues at Macworld. An awful lot of talented writers just hit the market.

Larger iPhone 6 Plus Sells Out, ‘Record Number’ of iPhone Pre-Orders 

I spent over an hour trying to order from the online Apple Store (4.7-inch, space gray, 128 GB) to no avail. The closest I got was a properly configured phone but a disabled “Add to Cart” button.

Gave up, went to the Verizon website, and successfully ordered there. I think. Verizon’s website is almost spectacularly convoluted and ugly as sin.

You’d think after eight years Apple would be able to deal with this. No surprise demand is high — the iPhones 6 are amazing, and bigger displays have been long-awaited — but the online store crapping itself so utterly is just embarrassing.

PC Guys Aren’t Going to Just Walk In… 

CNBC:

Apple faces a mountain of challenges as it seeks to break into mobile payments with Apple Pay, a PayPal executive told CNBC on Thursday.

“Payments is a tough ecosystem and you know, other players, other major consumer Internet companies have tried to enter in the space and have found, you know, limited success,” said Bill Ready, CEO of Braintree, the parent company of mobile payment services providers PayPal and Venmo. “And a big part of that is it is a very difficult space.”

You can smell the claim chowder brewing.

Tentpoles 

Horace Dediu:

As in the Revolutionary User Interface story,  the symmetry in approach to the launch is telling, but what I want to note is that the three things which the iPhone was defined as being are no longer things that it is most used for.

Yes, the iPhone is still a wide-screen iPod which gets plenty of use but I don’t think anyone thinks that is a defining feature. It’s also a phone, but the Phone is just an app which, for me at least, is not frequently used. I communicate with my iPhone but the go-to app is iMessage or FaceTime or Skype or maybe Email or Twitter. Phone is something I use so rarely that the interface sometimes baffles me. And yes, it’s an Internet appliance. Browsing is something I do quite a bit but many of the browsing jobs-to-be-done are done better by apps. News, shopping Facebook and maps are “things which were once done in a browser.”

So I wonder whether the tentpole product-defining anchors used to introduce the Apple Watch will be faintly amusing a few years from now.

Timekeeping and fitness tracking, I don’t know. Those could fade in importance after we get a rich ecosystem of apps. But communication seems key to the Apple Watch concept — it’s the only feature other than the home screen with a dedicated hardware button.

Facebook and Politics 

Derek Willis, writing for the NYT:

The “Custom Managed Audiences” tool works like this: A campaign or group uses its own list of potential voters (or buys one from a state authority or private vendor) and uploads it to Facebook. The company then matches the names to its user base through databases managed by companies, such as Acxiom, that specialize in collecting information about individuals. This process effectively combines the electoral information it already knows about voters with their Facebook profiles: likes, group memberships, issues or even favorites. The process anonymizes the users’ personal identifiers but retains enough information to enable campaigns to target well-defined groups.

Eddy Cue on stage on Tuesday: “We’re not in the business of collecting your data.”

Can you even imagine what Facebook Pay would be like?

Apple Watch ‘Too Feminine and Looks Like It Was Designed by Students’, Says LVMH Executive 

The Telegraph:

Jean-Claude Biver, who heads the French group’s luxury watch division, said the US tech giant had made “some fundamental mistakes” designing the Apple Watch.

“This watch has no sex appeal. It’s too feminine and looks too much like the smartwatches already on the market,” Mr Biver said in an interview with daily Die Welt.

“To be totally honest, it looks like it was designed by a student in their first trimester,” added Mr Biver, who heads up the brands Tag Heuer, Zenith and Hublot.

“PC guys are not going to just figure this out. They’re not going to just walk in.”

iPhone 6 and 6 Plus Displays Demystified 

Great visual explanation from PaintCode regarding the new iPhone displays, particularly the clever downsampling used for the Plus.

Tim Cook Interview With USA Today 

Marco della Cava, USA Today:

Apple’s new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus both feature larger screens reminiscent of competitors’ devices. By design, says Cook. “It’s an incredible opportunity for us to switch people from Android to iOS. So yes, this is epic. It is epic,” he says.

That’s an honest take. There’s no use pretending that Apple isn’t last to the big-screen phone game. But now they’re here, and if you bought an Android phone just to get a big screen, now you have a reason to consider switching to iPhone.

How to Hide the Free U2 Album From Your iTunes Library 

Good tip from Kirk McElhearn. Me, I like U2. But I didn’t know you could manage your Recent Purchases list like this.

A Watch Guy’s Thoughts on the Apple Watch After Seeing It in the Metal 

Benjamin Clymer, Hodinkee:

I’m not even sure we can call it a watch. Okay, it goes on the wrist, and it happens to tell the time, but that’s about where the similarities between Apple’s just announced watch and the hand-assembled, often painstakingly finished mechanical watches we write about, and obsess over, end. I was lucky enough to be invited to Cupertino to witness the announcement of the Apple Watch firsthand, and though I do not believe it poses any threat to haute horology manufactures, I do think the Apple Watch will be a big problem for low-priced quartz watches, and even some entry-level mechanical watches. In years to come, it could pose a larger threat to higher end brands, too. The reason? Apple got more details right on their watch than the vast majority of Swiss and Asian brands do with similarly priced watches, and those details add up to a really impressive piece of design. It offers so much more functionality than other digitals it’s almost embarrassing. But it’s not perfect, by any means. Read on to hear my thoughts on the Apple Watch, from the perspective of a watch guy.

I’ve been a huge fan of Clymer and Hodinkee for years; his take on the Apple Watch is the best I’ve seen regarding the watch as a watch. Astute.

Valleywag: ‘Macworld Staff Mostly Canned After Biggest Apple News Day of the Year’ 

Sam Biddle:

The economic reality of running a print publication dedicated to Apple news is a total disaster, of course — blogs run a monopoly on that, and have for years. But squeezing one last grueling day of marathon iPhone coverage out of a team on the verge of firing is not cool.

Seems like a real dick move on IDG’s part.

Speculation on Apple’s Live Event Stream Failure 

Dan Rayburn:

Apple’s live stream of the unveiling of the iPhone 6 and Watch was a disaster today right from the start, with many users like myself having problems trying to watch the event. While at first I assumed it must be a capacity issue pertaining to Akamai, a deeper look at the code on Apple’s page and some other elements from the event shows that decisions made by Apple pertaining to their website, and problems with how they setup storage on Amazon’s S3 service, contributed the biggest problems to the event.

(Via Shawn King.)

Update: A lot of readers are saying Rayburn’s speculation is way off-base, so take it with a large grain of salt. The comments on his post explain much of what he got wrong/doesn’t understand.

Update 2: Another analysis of the stream problems, from Simon Fredsted.

Jason Snell Leaves Macworld, Staff Laid Off 

Jason Snell:

Unfortunately, many of my colleagues lost their jobs today. If there’s anything I can do to help them, I will. I have had time to plan for this day, but they haven’t. You probably know some of them. Please join with me in giving them sympathy and support.

I’ve known Jason and many of the staffers at Macworld for years. I just saw them yesterday. This is hard for me to believe, and very sad.

Macworld is not closing, but the print magazine is closing, and it sounds like a lot of the familiar bylines will be gone.

Update: Re-reading Snell’s announcement, I have to say, it’s a masterpiece of tone and restraint.

Apple Posts Video From Today’s Event 

If you haven’t watched already, enjoy.

(Don’t hold your breath waiting for my thoughts on today’s news; much to digest, and much to think about. I’ll have much to say, but not tonight.)

WSJ: Microsoft Near Deal to Buy Minecraft 

The WSJ:

Microsoft Corp. is in serious discussions to buy Mojang AB, the Swedish company behind the popular “Minecraft” videogame, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

The deal would be valued at more than $2 billion and could be signed as early as this week, this person said.

Believe it or not, this might be the biggest tech news of the day in the Gruber household.

ABC News Teases Report of Inside Access to ‘Historic’ Apple Announcement 

That sure as shit can’t be a reference to bigger iPhones, and it doesn’t sound like a watch that counts your steps and shows you notifications as they come in.

The Hidden Structure of the Apple Keynote 

Loved this piece by Dan Frommer at Quartz:

One of Apple’s most successful products — which rarely gets recognized as such — is made not of aluminum and glass, but of words and pictures. The Apple keynote is the tool the company uses a few times a year to unveil its other products to millions of people.

To understand their hidden structure, Quartz reviewed more than a dozen Apple keynotes, logging and analyzing key elements. Here’s what we found.

iOS Simulator Shows Possibility of iPad-Like Landscape Apps on 5.5-Inch iPhone 

Sounds exactly right to me. The thing is, Apple practically telegraphed this sort of thing in Session 216 at WWDC this year (“Building Adaptive Apps with UIKit”). The key to understanding it is that it’s not running an iPad app layout on an iPhone, but rather running an iPad-like layout. It’s not like with the iPad Air and Mini where you have the same layout at different scales. It’s an adaptive layout, where the scale remains the same as a regular iPhone, but the extra space on the big iPhone, in landscape, is used to show multiple columns.

Recode: ‘CVS and Walgreens Expected to Accept Apple iPhone Mobile Payments’ 

I’d call them “Apple mobile payments”, not “Apple iPhone mobile payments”. Otherwise, this sounds, uh, right on target.

The Talk Show: ‘Very Few Outhouses Anymore’ 

Speaking of podcasts, here’s one to occupy your time and mind while waiting for tomorrow’s much-anticipated Apple special event. Special guest Jason Snell joins me to discuss wearables, big-ass iPhones, what people tend to get wrong when expecting the next big thing, and more.

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Just The Tip 

The second season of my favorite podcast, and the only one which has ever addressed the issue of yours truly’s taste in men’s swimwear, is in full swing. I recommend subscribing.

Amazon Cuts Price of Fire Phone to 99 Cents 

If they were willing to go this low, why not start at this price six weeks ago, when people actually cared? My guess: this thing is such a dud that they’re just trying to dump inventory now.

Laugh It Up, Fuzzball 

Brian X. Chen:

To deal with concerns that a bigger phone will make typing with one hand difficult (the current iPhone has a four-inch screen), some changes to the design of the iPhones’ user interface will allow people to type or use apps with just one hand; there will be a one-handed mode that can be switched on and off, two employees said.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, Oh, that can’t be. Samsung tried that and it was ridiculous. Haha, the New York Times got punked.

The thing is, I’m not laughing. You wanted Apple to make a 5.5-inch iPhone? This is what you get.

Samsung Galaxy Alpha 

Exactly like I said a few months ago: Samsung doesn’t copy Apple nearly as well as Xiaomi does.

Charlie Rose Interview With Jony Ive and Marc Newson 

Worth another look given today’s news.

Timepieces Designed by Marc Newson 

Food for thought.

Pixate 

My thanks to Pixate for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Pixate is a mobile development tool that allows designers to visually define sophisticated animations and interactions that come to life in real-time on iOS and Android devices as 100 percent native prototypes. Native UI code, not web views.

Pixate is in private preview release currently, and working for great design teams from companies like Apple, Google, Yahoo, and Twitter. They’ve got a special offer for DF readers: sign up now to get on the waiting list and you’ll get a free month of service when it launches.

Marc Newson to Join Apple on Jony Ive’s Design Team 

Anyone else starting to get the feeling that Tuesday’s event might not be just about iPhones?

Is Switzerland Fucked? 

Nick Bilton, writing for the NYT:

While we don’t have much of an idea what the coveted iWatch will look like, I was able to glean one small detail from people at Apple who work on the company’s wearables.

According to a designer who works at Apple, Jonathan Ive, Apple’s design chief, in bragging about how cool he thought the iWatch was shaping up to be, gleefully said Switzerland is in trouble — though he chose a much bolder term for “trouble” to express how he thought the watchmaking nation might be in a tough predicament when Apple’s watch comes out.

Sure sounds like a watch, in particular, not a wearable, in general.

Yours truly, back in June:

If Apple is indeed making a wearable device that goes on your wrist, it should look like something you’d want to wear before you even see what it does.

(Betteridge’s Law holds, of course, that Switzerland is not in fact fucked.)

‘The Problem With Apple’s Juice’ 

Jessica Lessin, writing for The Information (paywall, alas)

In the build-up to the new Apple Watch, it is easy to get seduced by the rumored features. Curved screen! Wireless charging! Jony Ive thinks it’s slick!

But — and I hate to burst everyone’s bubble here — the appeal of the world’s most highly anticipated wearable computer is going to come down to something a lot more mundane: battery life.

And I have some bad news. I think it is going to be disappointing. People who have talked to Apple about the watch said that Apple employees have set low expectations. Maybe it’s Apple sandbagging. Maybe the battery life really is bad. We’ll learn more on Tuesday at the big unveiling and, eventually, when it ships next year.

If true, and it’s really a “watch”, that’s a problem. If it’s something more like a wearable iPod Nano, maybe not so much. But Lessin is saying it’s a watch.

[Retracted] ‘Just Photoshop in the Missing 90 Degrees’ 
Motorola’s promotional image of the Moto 270 shows the entire display filled in down at the 6 o’clock marker. That’s one way to solve the problem.

Ends up it only renders this way in Safari. Load the same page in Chrome, and when the animation finishes, it includes the flat tire.

Tim Cook Says Apple to Add Security Alerts for iCloud Users 

Daisuke Wakabayashi, writing for the WSJ:

In his first interview on the subject, Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook said celebrities’ iCloud accounts were compromised when hackers correctly answered security questions to obtain their passwords, or when they were victimized by a phishing scam to obtain user IDs and passwords.

He said none of the Apple IDs and passwords leaked from the company’s servers.

To make such leaks less likely, Mr. Cook said Apple will alert users via email and push notifications when someone tries to change an account password, restore iCloud data to a new device, or when a device logs into an account for the first time.

Until now, users got an email when someone tried to change a password or log in for the first time from an unknown Apple device; there were no notifications for restoring iCloud data.

That Cook would take time this week, in the run-up to Tuesday’s event, to address this says to me he’s taking it pretty damn seriously.

Joanna Stern Reviews the Moto 270 

Joanna Stern:

And the problem for women like me, with thin wrists, is that the watch may sound small — 1.8 inches in diameter and just a half-inch thick — but it almost looks like I grabbed a clock off the wall and strapped it to my arm.

Of course, size wasn’t an issue for everyone who tried it on. It looked decent on my father’s medium-size wrist, and just right on my co-worker’s extra-large one.

Motorola says it is working on smaller versions, but that makes me concerned about battery life: Even this big, honking model had to be charged twice a day. Most days, after charging it overnight, I had to put it back on its wireless charging cradle by 4 p.m. If only the large black circle could also work as a sundial so I could still tell the time when the battery dies.

So it’s way too big for at least half the population and has to be charged twice a day.

Good luck.

Side Note to Those of You Seeing Wacky Fonts on DF Using Chrome on Windows 

It’s a bug in Chrome that hit when they switched to a new font renderer on Windows. Hopefully they’ll fix it soon.

The Moto 270 Goes on Sale Today 

Congratulations to Motorola and Google for beating my joke by four days.

Update: Maybe they won’t beat my joke. I said “shipping”, and they’re quoting pick-up at Best Buy in “3-5 days”.

AppleInsider: Aerial Footage of Apple’s Mysterious White Box Next to Tuesday’s Event Site 

Hats off to AppleInsider for getting some impressive flyover drone footage of Apple’s intriguing (and I presume temporary) structure for next week’s event. The theory that it’s a large hands-on area for after the keynote is my guess as well, but who knows? This event is uncharted territory. (Via Jim Dalrymple.)

Intellectual Ventures: Patent Troll Funds Startups, New Products 

Ashlee Vance, reporting for Businessweek on Intellectual Ventures’ claim that it’s turning over a new leaf:

There’s no proof yet that IV has mastered that hard part of taking a product all the way to consumers and making it a hit. According to the power brokers in Silicon Valley, IV remains a company with a dark soul that’s using the startup talk as a ruse. “I’ll believe it when I see it and not before,” Thiel says of IV’s claimed transition to a product company.

Same here.

Apple Said to Negotiate Deep Payments Discounts From Big Banks 

Ian Kar, writing for Bank Innovation:

According to Noyes, while banks control the card-present/not-present rates, the networks negotiate the rates with payments processors. The differences can be dramatic. Apple was apparently adamant about getting the card-present rates and told issuers that it would assume some of the fraud risk inherent in every transaction by providing a secure element via biometric authentication (its TouchID feature) and location data provided through an NFC chip. The Apple payments platform will work with all of their cards.

Apple seems to be playing on a different level sometimes.

Dan Kaminsky on the Implications of Underground Celebrity Photo Theft Rings 

Dan Kaminsky:

There’s a peculiar property of much criminality in the real world: You notice. A burgled home is missing things, an assaulted body hurts. These crimes still occur, but we can start responding to them immediately. If there’s one thing to take away from this compromise, it’s that when it comes to information theft you might find out quickly, or you may never find out at all.

Terrific post.

Joan Rivers Dies at 81 

Some great examples of her wit and comedic daring in the NYT’s obituary:

On her husband’s suicide: “After Edgar killed himself, I went out to dinner with Melissa. I looked at the menu and said, ‘If Daddy were here to see these prices, he’d kill himself all over again.’”

Twitpic Is Shutting Down 

Noah Everett, Twitpic CEO:

A few weeks ago Twitter contacted our legal demanding that we abandon our trademark application or risk losing access to their API. This came as a shock to us since Twitpic has been around since early 2008, and our trademark application has been in the USPTO since 2009. […]

Unfortunately we do not have the resources to fend off a large company like Twitter to maintain our mark which we believe whole heartedly is rightfully ours. Therefore, we have decided to shut down Twitpic.

Why not just change the name to something original?

Apple Announces Live Video Stream for Tuesday’s Event 

I wonder how the viewership numbers for these events compares to major TV shows?

Ikea: Experience the Power of a Book Book 

The gag here is sort of the inverse of this classic bit.

Margins 

Beautiful piece by Craig Mod:

Thoughtful decisions concerned with details marginal or marginalized conspire to affect greatness. (Hairline spacing after em dashes in online editing software — for example.) The creative process around these decisions being equal parts humility and diligence. The humility to try again and again, and the diligence to suffer your folly enough times to find the right solution. […]

A book with proper margins says a number of things. It says, we care about the page. It says, we care about the words. We care so much that we’re going to ensure the words and the page fall into harmony. We’re not going to squish the text to save money. Oh, no, we will not not rush and tuck words too far into the gutter.

A book with proper margins says, We respect you, Dear Reader, and also you, Dear Author, and you, too, Dear Book.

Matthew Panzarino: ‘Apple Should Be More Transparent About Security’ 

Matthew Panzarino, writing for TechCrunch:

The question I’ve been asking myself over the months since the SSL vulnerability debacle has been ‘why?’ Why is a company who is generally very well-rounded operationally, and like it or not, produces extremely well-liked and complex devices so bad at communicating about security?

The answer I’ve come up with, and this is just a personal theory, is that Apple thinks about security communications in the same way that it thinks about product communications. In other words, it plays its cards incredibly close to the chest at all times by default. These tactics have served it well in the consumer products arena, creating a frenzy of attention around the releases of new devices and services. And that’s great; I don’t mind a little mystery around products as a consumer, even though my job as a reporter is to figure out what Apple could do next and decide whether that’s important enough to talk about publicly.

But in security, this kind of ivory tower comms strategy is a losing game, especially as smartphones become an increasingly information-rich repository of our personal lives.

Good piece, and I largely agree. Apple’s messaging on security- and privacy- related issues ought to come across as honest and straightforward, but instead it often comes across as evasive.

On the Potential of iOS and Mac App Extensions 

David Chartier:

With official, system-wide extensions on the way, the potential for Mac and especially iOS apps to work together expands immeasurably. Actually, it explodes in an invigorating display of colors, delightful sounds, and hope. Apps like 1Password can fill information directly into Safari forms and all the other apps that add support. We can archive webpages in Evernote and Stache. Afterlight — really, any photo app — can edit photos right in the Camera Roll. Even better, I’m just barely scratching the surface of this potential.

Part of the genius of these extensions is the way they’re bundled with the apps. So if you have the app installed, you’ll see its extension in other apps automatically. And if you don’t, you won’t. And if you want to get rid of an app, you don’t have to do anything extra to remove its extensions — they get removed when the app gets removed.

Feld & Volk 

I’d never heard of these guys until they made the news last week with their purported video showing an assembled new iPhone, but they run a fascinating/ridiculous business. They take new iPhones and customize them with gaudy, exotic replacement parts (e.g. solid gold volume buttons and silence switch), then resell them for almost $10,000. Think: Vertu but for iOS.

Samsung Gear S 

Samsung’s sixth — sixth! — smartwatch announced in the last year. (No shipping date or price on this device, either.) The curved screen helps, but it still looks like a small phone strapped to your wrist, not a watch. Like something you’d wear while working out, not something you’d wear all the time. One cool new feature: you can put a SIM card in it, letting it work as a standalone communicator rather than a tethered companion to a standalone phone.

Judging from the videos I’ve seen (see also: The Verge), Tizen, which the Gear S is running, is a bit of a turd in terms of animation fluidity and touch responsiveness.

The Galaxy Note Edge 

Lots of new phones and watches are being pre-announced this week, for some reason. Here’s David Pierce at The Verge on the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge (which doesn’t even have pricing or a release date, which tells you all you need to know about how Samsung wanted to present this ahead of next week’s you-know-whats):

It’s an odd idea, turning this vertical rail into essentially an always-on secondary display. Is it best-suited as a ticker? A notification center? A quick-launch taskbar? Samsung doesn’t seem entirely sure, and in a few minutes of using the Galaxy Note Edge it was clear that while well-implemented and useful the whole idea isn’t necessarily fully formed.

Still, by releasing the Note Edge broadly — it’s coming to AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint — and giving both users and developers a chance to figure out what they want, Samsung could find itself with a truly unique smartphone feature that no other manufacturer can copy.

Yes, let the people spending hundreds of dollars for these things figure out what the (oddly right-handed-biased) curved side screen is useful for.

(Somewhere inside Xiaomi, there are people laughing heartily at that “feature that no other manufacturer can copy” line.)

Notes on the Celebrity Data Theft 

Comprehensive piece by Nik Cubrilovic on the celebrity photo theft:

After this story broke I spent some time immersed in the crazy, obsessive subculture of celebrity nudes and revenge porn trying to work out what they were doing, how they were doing it and what could be learned from it.

  1. What we see in the public with these hacking incidents seems to only be scratching the surface. There are entire communities and trading networks where the data that is stolen remains private and is rarely shared with the public. The networks are broken down horizontally with specific people carrying out specific roles, loosely organized across a large number of sites (both clearnet and darknet) with most organization and communication taking place in private (email, IM).

  2. The goal is to steal private media from a targets phone by accessing cloud based backup services that are integrated into iPhone, Android and Windows Phone devices. To access the cloud based backup requires the users ID, password or an authentication token.

The deepest and most reasonable piece on the situation I’ve seen.

Rich Mogull on the iCloud Celebrity Photo Leak 

Rich Mogull, writing for TidBITS:

But Apple, like all major cloud providers, needs to step up its game, especially since it wants to store our photos, biometric information, and possibly even payment information in the cloud. These kinds of attacks are only going to increase, and online services need to make it easier for users to implement a higher level of security, without destroying the user experience. It’s the kind of challenge well-suited to Apple’s strengths, now it’s time for them to move up to the next level.

But what is the next level? I’m not sure two-factor is it, or at least not as currently implemented by Apple.

Apple Releases OS X Yosemite Developer Preview 7 

This is a pretty strong sign that Yosemite isn’t going to ship until October — the same schedule Mavericks was on last year. Yosemite seems like it’s in good shape, but it’s not that close to feeling like a GM release. Craig Hockenberry and I talked about this on The Talk Show this week — Craig thought Yosemite would have to ship alongside iOS 8 because of all the new “Continuity” features that require new versions of both OSes.

But that was true for iCloud Keychain last year, and it didn’t ship until iOS 7.0.3, after the October 22 event for the new iPads. I think we’ll see the same thing with Continuity this year — iOS 8.0 will ship with the new iPhones in late September, but the Continuity features won’t appear until an OS update in October.

S’Long, Jeet 

Roger Angell, eloquent as always, on Derek Jeter’s final days in uniform:

Jeter has just about wound up his Mariano Tour — the all-points ceremonies around home plate in every away park on the Yankees’ schedule, where he accepts gifts, and perhaps a farewell check for his Turn 2 charity, and lifts his cap to the cheering, phone-flashing multitudes. He does this with style and grace — no one is better at it — and without the weepiness of some predecessors. His ease, his daily joy in his work, has lightened the sadness of this farewell, and the cheering everywhere has been sustained and genuine.

Far From Silicon Valley, Tech Industry Finds an Oracle | Reuters 

From Noel Randewich’s July 2012 profile of Anand Shimpi for Reuters:

To make sure his reviews are ready in time for product launches, Shimpi pulls all-nighters and lays out his testing gear in hotel rooms during his frequent travels.

“If you put in an honest seven days of work - I’m not saying eight hours a day or less, I’m saying if you don’t sleep for a couple of nights, and that’s all you live and breathe and do - I think it’s possible to deliver a good review within that seven-day period,” Shimpi said.

“Anything less and you start making sacrifices.”

The first thing I do after publishing a review of a major new product is load up other reviews and see what they have to say; what they noticed that I overlooked. Shimpi’s iPhone and iPad reviews were usually the first ones I’d read. I even sat next to Anand during last year’s iPhone announcement.

I sure am curious to see what he’s going to be doing for Apple. It’s certainly Apple-like, but intriguing nonetheless, that he didn’t even mention Apple by name in his announcement that he was retiring from AnandTech. Also worth noting: former AnandTech writer Brian Klug left to join Apple earlier this year.

Apple Issues Statement on Celebrity iCloud Account Hacking 

Apple press release:

We wanted to provide an update to our investigation into the theft of photos of certain celebrities. When we learned of the theft, we were outraged and immediately mobilized Apple’s engineers to discover the source. Our customers’ privacy and security are of utmost importance to us. After more than 40 hours of investigation, we have discovered that certain celebrity accounts were compromised by a very targeted attack on user names, passwords and security questions, a practice that has become all too common on the Internet. None of the cases we have investigated has resulted from any breach in any of Apple’s systems including iCloud or Find my iPhone. We are continuing to work with law enforcement to help identify the criminals involved.

“A practice that has become all too common on the Internet” is a weird excuse. It’s certainly true, but it suggests that we still have a major problem. If the system works by design in a such a way that accounts can be easily hijacked via bad passwords or guessable security questions, that’s a problem.

(And on the other hand, make things too secure and people will be annoyed, or worse, locked out of their accounts.)

‘Find My iPhone’ Flaw: Login Attempts Weren’t Rate-Limited 

Owen Williams, reporting for The Next Web:

An alleged breach in Apple’s iCloud service may be to blame for countless leaks of private celebrity photos this week.

On Monday, a Python script emerged on GitHub (which we’re not linking to as there is evidence a fix by Apple is not fully rolled out) that appears to have allowed malicious users to ‘brute force’ a target account’s password on Apple’s iCloud, thanks to a vulnerability in the Find My iPhone service. Brute-force attacks consist of using a malicious script to repeatedly guess passwords in an attempt to discover the correct one.

Anand Lal Shimpi Heads to Apple 

Anand Lal Shimpi is hanging it up at AnandTech for a job at Apple. Wow.