Linked List: June 2015

The Love Era 

Brent Simmons:

This is the age of writing iOS apps for love. […]

You the indie developer could become the next Flexibits. Could. But almost certainly not. Okay — not.

What’s more likely is that you’ll find yourself working on a Mobile Experience for a Big National Brand(tm) and doing the apps you want to write in your spare time.

If there’s a way out of despair, it’s in changing our expectations.

There is so much that could and should and will be said about this. But the bottom line is that indie development for iOS and the App Store just hasn’t worked out the way we thought it would. We thought — and hoped — it would be like the indie Mac app market, only bigger. But it’s not like that at all.

Whatever Happened With Apple’s PrimeSense Acquisition? 

Interesting piece by Matt Sayward on where Apple might be heading as the world’s leading camera company:

In November 2013, Apple acquired an Israeli 3D-sensor company named PrimeSense for somewhere in between a reported 350,000,000 and 360,000,000 dollars. As Apple acquisitions go, that’s a biggie. Only Beats (the foundation of Apple Music at $3bn), NeXT (the deal that brought Steve Jobs back for $400m), and AuthenTec ($390m that manifested itself in Touch ID) were certifiably bigger buys.

And yet, two years on, we still can’t really say what happened with PrimeSense’s technology with any sense of fortitude.

On this point:

Last November, on another episode of The Talk Show, John Gruber dropped a unusually heavy hint about what he’d heard about the upcoming set of iPhones that will debut in Q3 of this year:

The specific thing I heard is that next year’s camera might be the biggest camera jump ever. I don’t even know what sense this makes, but I’ve heard that it’s some kind of weird two-lens system where the back camera uses two lenses and it somehow takes it up into DSLR quality imagery.

Well, I had a think about this. And I might have something feasible.

For what it’s worth, I think I might have been wrong about the timing on this. If Apple sticks with the tick-tock schedule and unveils iPhone 6S and 6S Plus updates in September, the new dual-lens camera is probably a 2016 iPhone thing, not a 2015 iPhone thing. I should have realized this all along.

Anyway, rumors aside, Sayward has some interesting speculation on why Apple might go this route.

‘Improves Networking Reliability’ 

OS X 10.10.4 shipped today, and as expected based on the developer betas, Discoveryd is gone, replaced by an updated version of good old mDNSresponder. At WWDC, word on the street was that Apple closed over 300 radars with this move. Not dupes — 300 discrete radars.

‘It’s All About Curation, Curation, Curation’ 

Christina Warren’s first look at Apple Music:

The real heart of Apple Music is the For You tab. This is basically your music homescreen. When you open the section for the first time, you’re asked to go through a discovery exercise. This was lifted directly from Beats Music and it’s one of the best discovery tools I’ve used over the years. […]

It’s hard for me to over-stress how much I like For You. From the very beginning, the recommendations in playlists and albums that the app showed me were dead-on accurate, reflecting my various musical interests.

Straight out, I was given a recommendation of a Taylor Swift love ballad playlist and albums from The Kinks, Sufjan Stevens, Elliot Smith, The Shins, Miguel and Drake. So basically my musical brain.

Apple Music on Tumblr 

They’re on Twitter and Instagram, too.

Also: gorgeous use of the San Francisco font family on this page.

Jim Dalrymple Talks to Eddy Cue and Jimmy Iovine About Apple Music 

Jim Dalrymple:

“As part of this ecosystem, what if there was a station that didn’t have any of those rules and didn’t serve any of those masters,” said Iovine. “What if it just took anything that was exciting, whether it be on Connect or a new record out of Brooklyn or Liverpool.”

“Or whether it was rock or hip hop,” added Cue.

So one of those genres could literally follow the other on Beats 1 Radio.

“It works,” said Iovine. “And it works because the DJ is in the middle explaining how it works. DJs give you context.”

So what does Beats 1 Radio compete with? Nothing, according to Iovine.

“It doesn’t compete with anything that’s out there because there’s never been anything like this,” said Iovine.

See also: Jim’s first look at Apple Music.

‘Between Kickstarter’s Frauds and Phenoms Live Long-Delayed Projects’ 

Really enjoyed this feature by Casey Johnston for Ars Technica on Kickstarter projects that fall far behind schedule:

By this point, fairy-tales about successful funding and horror stories of projects that end in abject failure or corruption have led most of us to recognize the volatility of any Kickstarter project. But lost between these two extremes is a long, sometimes confusing road that is invisible, and sometimes even inaccessible, to the mildly interested passersby. In today’s Kickstarter Web storefronts, projects appear so singular to their backers that any unplanned activity can seem more erratic and suspicious than it actually is. In most cases, though, delays are normal.

This underreported grey area between funded and shipped (or sailed) isn’t necessarily something to loathe. Rather, it highlights many of the reasons crowdfunding is worth protecting — even if some of the practice’s worst contradictory forces are at play.

Uber Acquires Part of Bing’s Mapping Assets, Will Absorb Around 100 Microsoft Employees 

Alex Wilhelm, reporting for TechCrunch:

Uber will acquire assets from Microsoft Bing, including roughly 100 employees focused on the product’s image collection activities. In short, Uber is absorbing data-collection engineers from Microsoft to bolster its own mapping work.

The companies confirmed the transaction with TechCrunch, but each declined to name the terms of the agreement. Microsoft handing Uber part of its operating expenses is minor, given the financial scale of the firms. The technology transfer is far more interesting.

Interesting in light of my discussion with Horace Dediu about the state of the maps industry on this week’s episode of The Talk Show — Horace specifically mentioned Uber as the next major player in the game.

Apple Recalls Beats Pill XL Speaker 


Apple has determined that, in rare cases, the battery in the Beats Pill XL Speaker may overheat and pose a fire safety risk. This product has been sold worldwide since January 2014 by Beats, Apple, and other retailers.

Customer safety is always a top priority at both Apple and Beats, and we have voluntarily decided to recall this product. If you have a Beats Pill XL Speaker, please stop using it and follow the process below to send it to Apple. In exchange, we will provide you with an Apple Store credit or electronic payment in the amount of $325 USD or approximate equivalent in local currency.

This Week’s Mac Power Users 

Speaking of podcasts, Katie Floyd and David Sparks were kind enough to have me as their guest on Mac Power Users this week:

Katie and David sit down with John Gruber of Daring Fireball to discuss the origins of his site, how he finds and publishes the news, and how he uses his Mac and iOS.

The Talk Show: ‘They Buy a Hole in the Wall’ 

New episode of my podcast, The Talk Show, featuring special guest and ace Apple analyst Horace Dediu.

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Intercom: Connect With Your Mobile Users 

My thanks to Intercom for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Intercom allows developers to see their users, the actions they take, and communicate with them in a single integrated platform.

Intercom allows developers to collect product feedback and engage with their users with personalized, targeted in-app messages. Visit Intercom to learn more — they have a great intro video right on their home page — and get started for free.

iMore’s Apple Music FAQ 

A few words from Serenity Caldwell on Apple’s imminent new music platform.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal: ‘If We Want to Save Some Money Let’s Just Get Rid of the Court’ 

Catherine Thompson, reporting for TPM:

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) on Friday suggested doing away with the Supreme Court during a speech in Iowa that followed the court’s historic ruling on same-sex marriage.

“The Supreme Court is completely out of control, making laws on their own, and has become a public opinion poll instead of a judicial body,” he told the crowd, as quoted by The Advocate newspaper. “If we want to save some money let’s just get rid of the court.”

I was going to crack a joke about Jindal being more of a clown candidate for president than Donald Trump, but the more I think about it, the less funny this seems. It’s just outright pandering to bigotry and, especially, ignorance — from the sitting governor of one of our states.

It’s one thing to disagree with a Supreme Court decision. That’s part of politics and civic discourse. It’s another to argue that an entire branch of government lacks legitimacy. Keep in mind, too, that Republican nominees have held a majority on the Supreme Court for four decades. For fun, imagine the reaction from these Republicans if Justice Kennedy had been appointed to the Court by a Democratic president, instead of by Ronald Reagan.

DuckDuckGo Adds Live Scores for Every MLB Game 

One feature at a time. Just keep chipping away.

The Deck 

There are a few slots on The Deck available in July and August. Need to get your product in front of millions of curious folks? Drop Jim Coudal a line for a nice price for a new advertiser. Tell him I sent you.

‘Hooray for Obamacare’ 

Speaking of momentous Supreme Court decisions, here’s Paul Krugman on the Affordable Care Act:

Put all these things together, and what you have is a portrait of policy triumph — a law that, despite everything its opponents have done to undermine it, is achieving its goals, costing less than expected, and making the lives of millions of Americans better and more secure.

Knockoff Beats Used in Teardown? 

Remember that widely-linked but controversial teardown of a pair of $199 Beats headphones last week? Looks like they were actually a pair of knockoffs. This just keeps getting weirder.

‘They Ask for Equal Dignity in the Eyes of the Law. The Constitution Grants Them That Right.’ 

To me, that line from Justice Anthony Kennedy’s landmark 5-4 decision today says it all. More:

The nature of injustice is that we may not always see it in our own times. The generations that wrote and ratified the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment did not presume to know the extent of freedom in all of its dimensions, and so they entrusted to future generations a charter protecting the right of all persons to enjoy liberty as we learn its meaning.

App Camp for Girls 3.0 

Jean MacDonald:

App Camp For Girls is on a mission: we encourage girls to pursue app development as a career by teaching them how to make iPhone apps in a fun, creative summer camp program under the mentorship of women developers. We are shifting the gender balance in our industry. App Camp 3.0 is the next stage in bringing the program to more girls in more locations!

They’re hoping to expand to four new locations this year, but they need your help during the last week of their fundraising campaign for the year. Daring Fireball is already committed as a $1,000 Community Sponsor. Like with any of these crowdfunding campaigns, though, any amount, no matter how small, can help. I think App Camp for Girls is a wonderful idea, well-executed, and I’d love to see the DF readership help put them over the top for funding this year.

See also: This cool video from my pals at Story and Pixel with lots of footage from last year’s App Camp for Girls in Portland.

Apple Music to Pay Two-Tenths of a Cent Per Stream During Trial Period 

Ben Sisario, reporting for the NYT:

For each song that is streamed free, Apple will pay 0.2 cent for the use of recordings, a rate that music executives said was roughly comparable to the free tiers from services like Spotify. This rate does not include a smaller payment for songwriting rights that goes to music publishers; Apple is still negotiating with many publishers over those terms, several publishing companies confirmed on Wednesday.

According to the music executives, these rates would apply to all labels.

For independents, the negotiations with Apple are seen as a victory, allowing thousands of small labels to be part of Apple Music and earn money when people listen to their songs.

Maybe I’m vastly underestimating just how many songs are going to be streamed from Apple Music, but my gut feeling is that there aren’t many artists who are going to make serious money at just two-tenths of a cent per song streamed.

Let’s say Apple Music generates 100 million plays per day from customers on the free trial. At $0.002 per play, that’s $200,000 in payments to the artists and record labels, or about $6 million per month. That’s couch change for Apple.

Maybe I’m way off, and the number of plays will be more like 1 billion per day?

Retro ThinkPad Concept 

David Hill, vice president of identity and design for Lenovo:

For a while now I’ve been exploring the idea of introducing a very unique ThinkPad model. Imagine a ThinkPad that embodies all the latest technology advances, however, embraces the original design details in the strongest way possible. I’ve been referring to the concept as retro ThinkPad. Imagine a blue enter key, 7 row classic keyboard, 16:10 aspect ratio screen, multi-color ThinkPad logo, dedicated volume controls, rubberized paint, exposed screws, lots of status LED’s, and more. Think of it like stepping into a time machine and landing in 1992, but armed with today’s technology. Although not for everyone, I’m certain there’s a group of people who would stand in line to purchase such a special ThinkPad model.

Lenovo should totally do this.

iOS 9 and Safari View Controller: The Future of Web Views 

Federico Viticci:

In a technical session at WWDC, Apple detailed how Safari View Controller has been closely modeled after Safari with consistency and quick interactions in mind. Safari View Controller looks a lot like Safari: when users tap a web link in an app that uses Safari View Controller, they’ll be presented with a Safari page that displays the address bar at the top and other controls at the bottom or next to it — just like the regular Safari on the iPhone and iPad. There are two minor visual differences with Safari: when opened in Safari View Controller, the URL in the address bar will be grayed out to indicate it’s in read-only mode; and, a Safari button is available in the toolbar, so that users will be able to quickly jump to Safari if they want to continue navigation in the full browser.

Apple Music Strikes Deal With Thousands of Indie Artists 

Shirley Halperin and Lars Brandle, reporting for Billboard:

Apple Music, the hardware giant’s soon-to-launch streaming service, has landed an eleventh-hour coup, striking deals with the independents’ digital rights organization Merlin and with Martin Mills’ indie powerhouse Beggars Group, sources tell Billboard. Label group PIAS has also announced it has signed on.

In a letter sent to Merlin members, CEO Charles Caldas writes, “I am pleased to say that Apple has made a decision to pay for all usage of Apple Music under the free trials on a per-play basis, as well as to modify a number of other terms that members had been communicating directly with Apple about. With these changes, we are happy to support the deal.”

We’ve got a whole week before the “eleventh hour”, but, still, if this issue of paying artists during the free trial was the sole roadblock, it makes me wonder why it took until Taylor Swift’s open letter for Apple to rethink this. Shouldn’t this have been obvious months ago?

‘Everyone in Buenos Aires Is Communicating by Voice Memo Now’ 

Kari Paul, writing for Motherboard:

On any given block in Buenos Aires, you are likely to see someone speaking into their phone, but not on it; talking to someone, but not necessarily with anyone. I recently visited the city, and was struck by the fact that it seemed like all the citizens were walking around expressively talking to themselves. In reality, most people are perpetually sending voice memos to one another.

The phone call has long been a thing of the past when it comes to daily communication, but in Argentina, mobile phone users are increasingly turning to voice memos instead of texting to communicate.

Interesting how something like texting can evolve in very different ways in different countries. I think I’ve only received like three or four voice memo texts ever.

Samsung PCs Disable Windows Update 

Owen Williams, writing for The Next Web:

That software does something slightly sinister in the background, however: it disables Windows Update. A post by Microsoft MVP, Patrick Barker, details a small application that’s quietly installed in the background to block updates.

The app, conspicuously named Disable_Windowsupdate.exe, is installed automatically without the owner’s knowledge. According to a support representative, it’s there to stop the computer from automatically downloading drivers from Windows Update that could be incompatible with the system or cause features to break.

Glad to hear that the Windows PC experience remains as fun as ever.

Inside a Pair of Beats Headphones 

Avery Louie of Bolt:

One of the great things about the solo headphones is how substantial they feel. A little bit of weight makes the product feel solid, durable, and valuable. One way to do this cheaply is to make some components out of metal in order to add weight. In these headphones, 30% of the weight comes from four tiny metal parts that are there for the sole purpose of adding weight.


Update: Sounds like this teardown is widely regarded as baseless clickbait. Marco Arment says the metal pieces are hinges at stress points, and are made from metal for durability. And here’s a YouTube video that makes the point even more clearly.

Update 2: It gets worse — looks like this is a teardown of a pair of knockoff Beats, not actual Beats.

Google Promoting New Android Wear Watch Faces 

This post epitomizes the differences between Google and Apple.

Apple Changes Course, Will Pay Artists During Apple Music Free Trials 

Eddy Cue had a busy Sunday.

Apple’s Justification for Apple Music’s Three-Month Free Trial Period: Slightly Higher Payments 

Peter Kafka, writing last week for Recode:

Here are the real numbers, according to Robert Kondrk, the Apple executive who negotiates music deals along with media boss Eddy Cue: In the U.S., Apple will pay music owners 71.5 percent of Apple Music’s subscription revenue. Outside the U.S., the number will fluctuate, but will average around 73 percent, he told Re/code in an interview. Executives at labels Apple is working with confirmed the figures. […]

Apple won’t pay music owners anything for the songs that are streamed during Apple Music’s three-month trial period, a bone of contention with music labels during negotiations for the new service. But Kondrk says Apple’s payouts are a few percentage points higher than the industry standard, in part to account for the lengthy trial period; most paid subscription services offer a free one-month trial.

Not sure a 1.5 percent difference justifies two extra months of free service (compared to the de facto industry standard one-month free trial), but it’s not nothing.

Taylor Swift on Apple Music’s Three-Month Free Trial 

Taylor Swift, explaining why she’s withholding her latest album from Apple Music:

I’m sure you are aware that Apple Music will be offering a free 3 month trial to anyone who signs up for the service. I’m not sure you know that Apple Music will not be paying writers, producers, or artists for those three months. I find it to be shocking, disappointing, and completely unlike this historically progressive and generous company. […]

Three months is a long time to go unpaid, and it is unfair to ask anyone to work for nothing. I say this with love, reverence, and admiration for everything else Apple has done. I hope that soon I can join them in the progression towards a streaming model that seems fair to those who create this music. I think this could be the platform that gets it right.

Not sure what the solution is here, but her position seems perfectly reasonable. The problem is, Apple is leading the industry in pushing for streaming music to be entirely behind a paywall. The entire point of the free trial is to get more people to pay for streaming in the long term.

Also raises the question of just how many other top-shelf music acts will not be available on Apple Music when it launches. After the WWDC keynote, I simply could not get a straight answer from anyone at Apple about just how much of the iTunes Music library will be available on Apple Music when it launches. Part of that might be that they’re still negotiating with some labels and top-shelf acts, but I can’t help but suspect part of it is that they know they’re not going to have everything, and they don’t want to talk about that.


My thanks to Crashlytics for again sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote Answers, their mobile analytics platform. Answers has gone from zero to being the second-most-used mobile analytics tool in under a year, and it’s not hard to see why: it’s gorgeous, reliable, and powerful.

Check them out for the inside story of how and why they built Answers.

Facing the Music 

Still catching up from last week. Here’s Dr. Drang on the Apple Music segment of the WWDC keynote:

The new Apple Music service/app/thing occupied the celebrated “one more thing” position, and it was painful to watch. Apple used five presenters — Jimmy Iovine, Trent Reznor, Drake, Zane Lowe, and Eddy Cue — to try to explain what Apple Music is and why we should care, and they all failed. Of the five, Reznor and Lowe acquitted themselves best, but that’s probably because they were recorded, not live. I can imagine Iovine being very persuasive one-on-one or in a small group, but he certainly wasn’t impressive on the big stage. He never gave the impression that the words he was speaking were his. Drake seemed to think he could just wing it during his section; he’s obviously used to adoring fans applauding every off-the-cuff remark he makes on stage. Which leaves us with poor Eddy Cue, who’s going to bear the brunt of the criticism.

The Talk Show: ‘Schiller Did Not Have to Put Up With This Bullshit’ 

New episode of America’s favorite three-star podcast, with special guest Guy English. We make a valiant but failed effort to cover all of the technical/developer news from last week’s WWDC. Among the topics we did hit: app thinning, Bitcode, WatchKit 2.0, CloudKit (and opening it up to web developers), Swift 2.0, Metal coming to the Mac, accessibility and low-level support for right-to-left languages, iOS 9’s new low-power mode, and more.

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Today Is National Martini Day 


Apple Discontinues Original iPad Mini 

Jeremy Horwitz:

Apple’s discontinuation of the iPad mini leaves the remaining iPads as a completely 64-bit family, all using either A7 and A8X processors rather than the iPad mini’s aging A5. It also means that all remaining iPads have Retina displays and unified Wi-Fi + Cellular models.

‘A Papal Message That Spares No One’ 

Elizabeth Kolbert, writing for The New Yorker on Pope Francis’s new encyclical on climate change and the environment:

Whether the Pope’s message will have any influence — on the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, on the delegations currently trying to devise an international climate agreement, or on anyone else — remains to be seen. Up to now, the sowers of discord have done a good job blocking action on climate change, and, if the leak of the encyclical is any guide, they are still hard at work. Meanwhile, as @Pontifex tweeted to his 6.3 million followers Thursday, “The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth.”

I enjoyed Kontra’s observation:

We’re living in a country where the Pope likely couldn’t be head of several Congressional committees because he’s not unscientific enough.

Accessibility Is a User-Attracting Feature 

Craig Hockenberry on the results of Apple featuring Twitterrific on their “Popular Apps Using VoiceOver” page on the App Store. Looks like a bigger spike than when the Apple Watch launched.

Ad Blocking Irony 

PC Magazine ran a piece by Eric Griffith headlined, “Apple iOS 9 Ad-Blocking Explained (And Why It’s a Bad Move)”.

Here is what it looks like on an iPhone. Here’s what it looks like on a Mac. Ridiculous.

I run a business almost entirely based on advertising. I am, thus, naturally disinclined to support ad-blocking. But from the outset, I’ve followed the advertising version of the golden rule: Present ads to readers (and podcast listeners) that you yourself would not be annoyed by. Advertisers and publishers who present user-hostile ads should not be surprised when the users fight back.

(For a detailed look at WebKit Content Blockers, see Benjamin Poulain’s introductory article at the Surfin’ Safari blog.)

The Rise of DuckDuckGo 

John Paul Titlow, writing for Fast Company:

The premise of DuckDuckGo is simple: It doesn’t track your searches or any other online activity. Whereas Google has built a $66 billion dollar-a-year business around knowing more and more about its users’ every click, tap, and scroll, DuckDuckGo prefers ignorance. It doesn’t have user logins, it doesn’t log your search history or IP address. Even if they wanted to hand over data about your search history, they couldn’t. That data just doesn’t exist.

Instead of profiting from heaps of user data, DuckDuckGo has opted for a simpler business model: Old-school search ads that pair the keywords in people’s queries with relevant ads placed by the highest bidder. Weinberg says the company also makes money from affiliate links to sites like Amazon and eBay.

I’ve been using DuckDuckGo as my primary search engine in Safari for months now, and the results just keep getting better. I do have to switch to Google for some queries, but that’s happening less and less.

Apple and Accessibility 

Steven Aquino, writing for TechCrunch:

But it isn’t only Apple who’s doing good. Third-party developers have a responsibility to incorporate accessibility into their apps as well, and that’s where WWDC comes in. Apple provides numerous resources to developers during the conference that help he or she ensure that their app(s) are as accessible as possible.

The accessibility presence at WWDC is deep and far-reaching; Apple does much to raise awareness of and advocate for the accessibility community. Apple this week granted me behind-the-scenes access to sessions, labs, and developer interviews at Moscone so as to tell WWDC’s accessibility story.

Steven’s is a great roundup of the numerous ways accessibility was emphasized at WWDC last week. I’ll draw your attention to a few items though:

The EFF’s ‘Who Has Your Back?’ Scorecard 

Apple, putting its money where its mouth is, scores five stars.

Update: Interesting to compare the current rankings to those from 2011.

XARA Deconstructed: An In-Depth Look at OS X and iOS Cross-App Resource Attacks 

Nick Arnott, writing for iMore:

This week, security researchers from Indiana University released details of four security vulnerabilities they discovered in Mac OS X and iOS. The researchers detailed their discoveries of what they call “cross-app resource attacks” (referred to as XARA) in a whitepaper released Wednesday. Unfortunately, there has been a lot of confusion surrounding their research.

If you’re not at all familiar with the XARA exploits or are looking for a high-level overview, start with Rene Ritchie’s article on what you need to know. If you’re interested in slightly more technical detail on each of the exploits, keep reading.

Terrific layman’s overview. Highly recommended.

SummerFest 2015 

Save 25 percent on a slew of top-tier Mac apps for writers. Some of these apps are among the longest-standing professional apps on the market.

DuckDuckGo Search Growth 

Chance Miller, writing for 9to5Mac:

Speaking in an interview with CNBC, DuckDuckGo CEO Gabe Weinberg said that the company’s traffic has grown 600 percent over the past two years. A variety of factors likely played a role in this explosion of growth, but it is mainly attributable to the NSA’s surveillance program, which was revealed two years ago, and Apple adding it as a default search option with iOS 8 and Safari 7.1 on the Mac.

Would be fascinating to see how usage would spike if Apple set it as the default search engine.

Jim Dalrymple on Apple Watch, HealthKit, and Fitness 

Solid review of the overall Apple Watch experience, with a very personal twist:

If Apple Watch says stand, I stand. I still don’t know why. Maybe I just want to complete those rings every day and feel good about that. Maybe standing every hour really is good for me. I don’t know, but I’ll indulge this little device on my wrist and stand.

I work out every day now. I have incorporated a two-mile, 3.5 mph treadmill walk, a two-mile outdoor walk, and some light interval training, with eating better. […]

As of this writing, and using the exercises I talked about, I have lost 42.4 pounds.

I saw Jim a few times last week, and he really does look like a new man.

Stephen Elop Out as Microsoft Merges Windows and Devices Groups 

Peter Bright, reporting for Ars Technica:

Stephen Elop, the one-time Microsoft exec who left the company to become CEO of Nokia and then returned after overseeing the sale of Nokia’s devices division to Redmond, is to leave Microsoft as a result of a reorganization.

Headline from just 18 months ago: “Mulally Out, Elop Now Frontrunner for Top Microsoft Job”.

St. Louis Cardinals Face F.B.I. Inquiry in Hacking of Houston Astros’ Database 

Michael S. Schmidt (no relation to Michael Jack Schmidt, presumably), reporting for the NYT:

The F.B.I. and Justice Department prosecutors are investigating whether front-office officials for the St. Louis Cardinals, one of the most successful teams in baseball over the past two decades, hacked into internal networks of a rival team to steal closely guarded information about player personnel.

Investigators have uncovered evidence that Cardinals officials broke into a network of the Houston Astros that housed special databases the team had built, according to law enforcement officials. Internal discussions about trades, proprietary statistics and scouting reports were compromised, the officials said. […]

“Bill Belichick is holding on line one.”

Rene Ritchie on Last Week’s WWDC 2015 Keynote 

Speaking of iMore, Rene Ritchie’s recap was my favorite summary of last week’s keynote:

There’s no getting around it — the WWDC 2015 keynote was the most strangely divisive I’ve experienced. There’s always been a challenge in programming WWDC, given that the room is filled with developers, but a world of customers is watching. Every moment becomes a balancing act — too technical and the audience watching the stream might get lost. Too flashy and the people in the seats might feel abandoned. This year it was the latter. A lot of the humor and most of the music fell flat for many of the people at the show and in the media.

Some felt it was padded, or that music was drawn out. Given how much wasn’t even mentioned, however, like Safari View Controllers, the iCloud Drive app and mail attachments, TestFlight updates, text replies for third-party notifications, HomeKit management in Settings, NSCollectionView, content blockers, app slimming and easier upgrades, and much, much, more, it’s hard to make that argument.

Full Transcript of Phil Schiller’s Appearance on The Talk Show Live From WWDC 

Fantastic work from Serenity Caldwell at iMore — a 9,300-word transcript of last week’s The Talk Show, with special guest Phil Schiller.

Jackass of the Week: Christopher Mims 

Glenn Fleishman on Christopher Mims’s asinine “Why Apple Should Kill Off the Mac” column for the WSJ:

And it’s why it has its own computer platform: 100 percent of software development for the iPhone, iPad, and Watch (and Mac apps) occurs on Macs. There’s no other way to assemble software for those devices. Even with the highest-end Mac hardware currently available, developers strain against the amount of time it can take to compile and test builds, whether in Mac-based emulators or when cross-loaded onto a developers’ test devices.

The Mac, at some level, is a highly profitable developer-platform division that happens to also serve consumers and businesses.

Mims’s whole argument is nonsensical, but the heart of what makes it so dumb is what Glenn alludes to above. If Apple “killed off” the Mac, what would Apple’s own employees use? PCs running Windows? That’s not going to happen. Beefed up iPads that enable all the power and complexity of the Mac? That’s a terrible idea.

From a column I wrote for Macworld all the way back in December 2010:

The existence and continuing growth of the Mac allows iOS to get away with doing less. The central conceit of the iPad is that it’s a portable computer that does less — and because it does less, what it does do, it does better, more simply, and more elegantly. Apple can only begin phasing out the Mac if and when iOS expands to allow us to do everything we can do on the Mac. It’s the heaviness of the Mac that allows iOS to remain light.

When I say that iOS has no baggage, that’s not because there is no baggage. It’s because the Mac is there to carry it. Long term — say, ten years out — well, all good things must come to an end. But in the short term, Mac OS X has an essential role in an iOS world: serving as the platform for complex, resource-intensive tasks.

Five years later, it sure doesn’t look to me like the Mac is anywhere near running out of baggage to carry. The end of the Mac is not in sight.

Introducing San Francisco 

Apple’s unified system font for OS X, iOS, WatchOS — and, I’ll bet soon, Apple TV. See also: Yesterday’s excellent WWDC session on San Francisco.


My thanks to Answers for again sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Their landing page is just terrific — a gorgeous layout, and the inside story of how a small team went from zero to being the number two mobile analytics tools in just a few months. Check them out.

Video: The Talk Show Live From WWDC 2015 

Here we go: the full video from Tuesday night’s live audience episode of The Talk Show, with special guest Phil Schiller. Here’s the direct link to the video on Vimeo. Family-friendly note: there’s some adult language in the first few minutes with You Look Nice Today.

Pretty happy with the way this turned out.

Paul Ford: ‘What Is Code?’ 

Jaw-dropping, epic-length work of art from Paul Ford. Save this for when you have time to sit back and let it sink in. Glorious.

European Commission Opens Antitrust Investigation Into Amazon’s E-Book Distribution Arrangements 

The European Commission:

The European Commission has opened a formal antitrust investigation into certain business practices by Amazon in the distribution of electronic books (“e-books”). The Commission will in particular investigate certain clauses included in Amazon’s contracts with publishers. These clauses require publishers to inform Amazon about more favourable or alternative terms offered to Amazon’s competitors and/or offer Amazon similar terms and conditions than to its competitors, or through other means ensure that Amazon is offered terms at least as good as those for its competitors.

The Commission has concerns that such clauses may make it more difficult for other e-book distributors to compete with Amazon by developing new and innovative products and services. The Commission will investigate whether such clauses may limit competition between different e-book distributors and may reduce choice for consumers.

iOS 9 ‘Content Blocking’ Extension API for Mobile Safari 

Benjamin Mayo, writing for 9to5Mac:

Ad blocking extensions have been possible on Safari for Mac for a long time, but plugin architecture for Safari on iOS is much more limited. With iOS 9, Apple has added a special case of extension for ad blockers. Apps can now include “content blocker” extensions that define resources (like images and scripts) for Safari to not load. For the first time, this architecture makes ad blockers a real possibility for iOS developers to make and iOS customers to install and use.

The inclusion of such a feature at this time is interesting. Apple is also pushing its own news solution in iOS 9 with the News app, which will include ads but not be affected by the content blocking extensions as they only apply to Safari. There is also clearly the potential for Safari ad blockers to hurt Google, which seems to be a common trend with Apple’s announcements recently…

I think the timing with News is coincidental. But this is huge news — there are way more iOS Safari users than OS X Safari users.

Twitter CEO Dick Costolo to Step Down 

Vindu Goel, reporting for the NYT:

Dick Costolo, Twitter’s embattled chief executive, is stepping down, the company said Thursday.

Jack Dorsey, the company’s co-founder and chairman, will serve as interim chief executive while the board searches for a permanent successor.

The change is effective July 1. Twitter shares were up more than 7 percent in after-hours trading immediately after the news was announced.

Rightly or wrongly, the writing has been on the wall: Wall Street wanted Costolo out. But I think what Wall Street wants is a pipe dream: for Twitter to turn into another Facebook. No CEO is going to make that happen. Maybe someone else will do better, but I think Costolo started with a hand dealt from a stacked deck.

My biggest fear: Twitter brings in a new CEO with a plan that pleases Wall Street but ruins Twitter as we know it.

My biggest hope: the new CEO resuscitates Twitter’s neutered, stagnant developer platform.

The Talk Show: Live From WWDC 2015 With Phil Schiller 

Recorded last night in front of a live audience at Mezzanine in San Francisco, Phil Schiller joined me on stage to discuss the news from WWDC: OS X 10.11 El Capitan, iOS 9, the new native app SDK for Apple Watch, and the 2004 American League Championship series. (This is the audio recording of the show — the video will be coming in the next day or two, so feel free to wait for that.)

New listeners: subscribe to The Talk Show in iTunes.

Sponsored by:

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The Talk Show: Live From WWDC 2015 

[Update: Well, that was something. We’ll get the audio recording into the regular podcast feed soon, and we’ll publish the recorded video soon after that. My thanks to everyone in the audience, and to everyone who watched the live stream.]

Two notes on tonight’s live audience episode of The Talk Show:

  1. Last year we streamed the audio from the show live. This year, we’re going to try streaming the video. Fingers crossed that it’ll hold up. The event is 6-9 PDT (9-12 EDT), but the actual show should run from around 7-8 PDT (10-11 EDT).

  2. Tickets have been sold out for weeks, but we’ve got space for 50 more attendees. $25 each, while supplies last.

Move to iOS 

Another fascinating item that didn’t make it into the keynote: Apple is introducing a new app called “Move to iOS”, for Android switchers:

Just download the Move to iOS app to wirelessly switch from your Android device to your new iOS device. It securely transfers your contacts, message history, camera photos and videos, web bookmarks, mail accounts, calendars, wallpaper, and DRM-free songs and books. And it will help you rebuild your app library, too. Any free apps you used — like Facebook and Twitter — are suggested for download from the App Store. And your paid apps are added to your iTunes Wish List.

It’s both an Android app and an iOS app.

Apple Music 

One thing that wasn’t clear to me in the keynote is just how much of the iTunes Store library is included with Apple Music. The most Apple is saying publicly is that Apple Music has “over 30 million songs”. From what I’ve been able to gather today, that pretty much means “everything”. There might be some exceptions, and there might be some deals that haven’t been finalized yet, but the idea is that for $10/month you get access to everything, from every artist.

A mild surprise (to me at least) is that they’re bringing it to Android. So: Does that mean Apple will be paying Google 30 percent of their revenue from Android users?

Apple WatchOS 2 Preview 

Some of these features, like the time lapse and photo watch faces, were shown at the September event — they must have been dropped in the race to ship 1.0 in April.

It wasn’t mentioned during the keynote, but Activation Lock is coming. (Finally.)

Explaining Away Apple’s Success 

John Kirk, writing at Techpinions in response to John Naughton’s the-headline-alone-tells-you-just-how-craptacular-it-is column for The Guardian, “If Steve Jobs’s Death Didn’t Ruin Apple, the iCar Surely Will”:

The author has — as so many have before him — reversed cause and effect. People didn’t buy Apple products because they revered Steve Jobs. They revered Steve Jobs because he created products that people wanted to buy. Similarly, people don’t buy Apple products because they like Apple. They buy Apple products because Apple makes products they like.

Along similar lines, here’s a phrasing/line of argument I’ve been noticing a lot recently: “For now, Apple is doing well…”, employed by writers and pundits who seem to remain convinced that Apple is never more than a misstep or two away from collapse.

Privacy vs. User Experience 

The best piece I’ve read arguing for the other side of the “Google violates your privacy” debate is this piece from Dustin Curtis, written back in October:

Apple is going to realize very soon that it has made a grave mistake by positioning itself as a bastion of privacy against Google, the evil invader of everyone’s secrets. The truth is that collecting information about people allows you to make significantly better products, and the more information you collect, the better products you can build. Apple can barely sync iMessage across devices because it uses an encryption system that prevents it from being able to read the actual messages. Google knows where I am right now, where I need to be for my meeting in an hour, what the traffic is like, and whether I usually take public transportation, a taxi, or drive myself. Using that information, it can tell me exactly when to leave. This isn’t science fiction; it’s actually happening. And Apple’s hardline stance on privacy is going to leave it in Google’s dust.

There’s much I disagree with in Curtis’s piece, but it’s well-worth reading. I think he’s wrong, and that his fundamental mistake is conflating the collection of information in order to provide useful context-aware services with the collection of information in order to sell targeted advertising. But maybe he’s right. His is certainly the best articulation of the pro-Google perspective that I’ve seen.

The Online Privacy Lie Is Unraveling 

Natasha Lomas, writing for TechCrunch regarding an eye-opening study from the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania:

One thing is clear: the great lie about online privacy is unraveling. The obfuscated commercial collection of vast amounts of personal data in exchange for “free” services is gradually being revealed for what it is: a heist of unprecedented scale. Behind the bland, intellectually dishonest facade that claims there’s “nothing to see here” gigantic data-mining apparatus have been maneuvered into place, atop vast mountains of stolen personal data.

Stolen because it has never been made clear to consumers what is being taken, and how that information is being used. How can you consent to something you don’t know or understand? Informed consent requires transparency and an ability to control what happens. Both of which are systematically undermined by companies whose business models require that vast amounts of personal data be shoveled ceaselessly into their engines.

Hermann Zapf Dies at 96 

Anna Quito, writing for Quartz:

Hermann Zapf, the designer of fonts such as Palatino, Optima, Zapfino, Melior, Aldus, and the bizarre but much beloved Zapf Dingbats, has died at age 96. The revered German typographer and calligrapher passed away on June 4. In his long and prolific career, Zapf worked on many fonts, but his personal favorite was the humanist sans serif typeface Optima, the lettering chosen for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall in Washington, DC.

After Dark in CSS 

A fun dose of classic Mac OS nostalgia, thanks to developer Bryan Braun.

See also: A web browser port of Lunatic Fringe.

The Talk Show: ‘Everyone Needs a Jerk’ 

The WWDC 2015 prelude episode of my podcast, The Talk Show. My special guest is Mark Gurman, and talk about anything and everything you’d want to know heading into WWDC next week.

Sponsored by:

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The Inside Story of How the iPhone Crippled BlackBerry 

I missed this excerpt from Losing the Signal: The Untold Story Behind the Extraordinary Rise and Spectacular Fall of BlackBerry, by Jacquie McNish and Sean Silcoff, when it ran in the WSJ two weeks ago. It’s a good read:

The iPhone’s popularity with consumers was illogical to rivals such as RIM, Nokia Corp. and Motorola Inc. The phone’s battery lasted less than eight hours, it operated on an older, slower second-generation network, and, as Mr. Lazaridis predicted, music, video and other downloads strained AT&T’s network. RIM now faced an adversary it didn’t understand.

“By all rights the product should have failed, but it did not,” said David Yach, RIM’s chief technology officer. To Mr. Yach and other senior RIM executives, Apple changed the competitive landscape by shifting the raison d’être of smartphones from something that was functional to a product that was beautiful.

“I learned that beauty matters…. RIM was caught incredulous that people wanted to buy this thing,” Mr. Yach says.

Sounds to me like they still don’t understand the appeal of the iPhone. It wasn’t (and isn’t) only about beauty. It’s about being a real, true, personal computer in your pocket or purse.

Update: Here’s a link to work around the WSJ’s paywall.

Why Android Camera Phones Still Suck 

Evan Rodgers, writing for Motherboard:

Android phones do have good cameras, but what we need is better software. RAW support allows us to see what these cameras are technically capable of, but until we can trust phone makers to invest in quality processing algorithms, Android cameras will continue to lag behind Apple and Microsoft’s.

Shot on iPhone 6: Films 

I look at these gorgeous little movies, and all I can think is that eight years ago, we were all anxiously waiting for the original iPhone — which didn’t even shoot video at all. From that to this in eight years.

HTC Introduces 24-Karat Gold One M9 Using a Photo Taken With an iPhone 

You really can’t make these things up.


My thanks to Answers for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Their landing page is just terrific — a gorgeous layout, and the inside story of how a small team went from zero to being the number two mobile analytics tools in just a few months. Check them out.

Financial Times: Apple Reconsidering 70/30 Split With Media Companies 

Tim Bradshaw and Shannon Bond, reporting for the FT:

Apple is planning a departure from the pricing formula that has defined the economics of digital media for a decade, which would cut the 30 per cent fee that media companies pay on subscriptions.

The iPhone maker is discussing new commercial terms with media companies, people familiar with the matter said, to change the 70/30 “Apple tax” pioneered by Steve Jobs when its late founder launched the iTunes music store in 2003.

Unclear what the new terms would be, but interesting still.

No Women From Original Macintosh Team in Sorkin’s Steve Jobs Movie? 

Megan Smith, chief technology officer for the United States, in an interview with Charlie Rose:

“There are these incredible photographs from the launch of the Macintosh in the 80’s, and the Rolling Stone pictures that were published. The historic record shows this group of 10 people in a pyramid — actually 11, seven men and four women. Every photograph you see with the Mac team has Joanna Hoffman, who was the product manager, a great teammate of Steve Jobs, and Susan Kare who did all the graphics and user interface on the artist side. None of them made it into the Jobs movie. They’re not even cast. And every man in the photographs is in the movie with a speaking role. It’s debilitating to our young women to have their history almost erased.”

She’s misremembering the pyramid photo, slightly. It featured eight men and three women (Susan Kare, Rony Sebok, and Patti Kenyon). Joanna Hoffman wasn’t in the photo — but Smith is exactly right that Hoffman was instrumental to the project. If it’s true that none of these women are in Sorkin’s movie, that’s just criminal.

Update: It’s widely-reported that Kate Winslet plays Hoffman in the film, and the IMDB listing claims Sebok and Kenyon were cast as well.

Via Twitter, Hal O’Brien posits that Megan Smith’s criticism was about the Ashton Kutcher movie, not the upcoming Sorkin one.

Marc Newson Interview With The London Evening Standard 

John Arlidge, interviewing Marc Newson for The London Evening Standard:

Given that this is his first print interview since he formally started his new role, let’s start with the formalities. What’s your job title? ‘I don’t really have one but I work on special projects.’ Is it full-time? ‘It’s about 60 per cent of my time.’ How long will you do it? ‘Indefinitely, I hope.’ Did you work with Steve Jobs before he died? ‘No, but I met him.’ Who earns more, you or Jonathan? ‘I think you can guess that.’ Ive is equal 637th on the latest Sunday Times Rich List, worth £150m.

Is that a British thing, asking so bluntly who earns more? Strikes me as rather uncouth, but maybe that’s my perspective as an American.

What is Newson’s next move? He’s not allowed to say, of course. But the clue is in his job title. Don’t expect a Newson iPhone or iPad: stand by for something more. He’s particularly interested in what technology can bring to fashion. ‘We will start to see more technology embedded in garments — magic woven in. There are some incredible things that are going to happen.’

Another big leap would be a car. Both he and Ive are petrolheads. Each owns several hundred thousand pounds’ worth of mainly classic Aston Martins, Lamborghinis and Bentleys. Newson has designed a concept car for Ford. Car firms are racing to make their new models so hi-tech they create the auto-motive answer to the iPhone. BMW has even set up its own hi-tech division that makes electric cars with the prefix ‘i’. Why not accelerate ahead of the pack with an iCar? Newson does little to damp down the speculation: ‘There is certainly vast opportunity in that area to be more intelligent.’

Apple Watch Production Catching Up With Demand 

Apple PR:

“The response to Apple Watch has surpassed our expectations in every way, and we are thrilled to bring it to more customers around the world,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s senior vice president of Operations. “We’re also making great progress with the backlog of Apple Watch orders, and we thank our customers for their patience. All orders placed through May, with the sole exception of Apple Watch 42 mm Space Black Stainless Steel with Space Black Link Bracelet, will ship to customers within two weeks. At that time, we’ll also begin selling some models in our Apple Retail Stores.”

So space black stainless steel is one exception. Another — unmentioned by Apple in this press release — are the 38mm Modern Buckle bands. In the online store, they’re listed as “Currently Unavailable”. You can get the watches that come with the Modern Buckle (right now they’re quoting “June 18–25” as the delivery window), but not the standalone bands.

Uber and Carnegie Mellon’s ‘Partnership’ Sort of Like That Between Fox and Henhouse 

Mike Ramsey and Douglas MacMillan, reporting for the WSJ:

Carnegie Mellon University is scrambling to recover after Uber Technologies Inc. poached 40 of its researchers and scientists earlier this year, a raid that left one of the world’s top robotics research institutions in a crisis.

In February, Carnegie Mellon and Uber trumpeted a strategic partnership in which the school would “work closely” with the ride-hailing service to develop driverless-car technology. Behind the scenes, the tie-up was more combative than collaborative. […]

Uber and Carnegie Mellon have yet to work jointly on any projects.

The Misunderstanding of 3D 

Daniel Engber, writing for The New Yorker:

But the secret of 3-D — its central irony, let’s say — is that it isn’t any good for spectacle. Adding a dimension often serves to shrink the objects on the screen, instead of giving them more pomp; trees and mountains end up looking like pieces in a diorama; people seem like puppets. Action, too, suffers in the format, because rapid horizontal movements mess with the illusion and fast-paced edits in 3-D tend to wear a viewer out.

I spoke about this on last week’s episode of The Talk Show, with Rene Ritchie. I find when I watch 3D movies in the theater, when I walk out, I can’t remember half of what happened. I like 3D in short doses, like on attractions at Disney World, but for feature films I find it ruins the whole experience.

See also: Legendary film editor and sound designer Walter Murch, explaining why “3D doesn’t work and never will” in a 2011 letter to Roger Ebert. (Previously linked here.)


Remarkable new GUI Mac client for Git by Pierre-Olivier Latour (one of the founders of the late, great Everpix photo service). If you use Git, you need to check this out.

Om Malik: Google Should Buy Twitter 

Om Malik and Josh Topolsky on Bloomberg TV with Emily Chang, discussing Chris Sacca’s epic post regarding what Twitter should do.

Brent Simmons Resigns From Q Branch 

Brent Simmons on leaving Q Branch, the company he co-founded with me and Dave Wiskus to produce Vesper:

I decided to leave because I wasn’t working on the software that I’ve been obsessed with for more than a decade.

I turned 47 a little while ago, and I’ve had some reasons to reflect on the shortness of life, and I realized how very important it is for me to work on the software that I think about every day. I kept putting it off, but every day that I put it off hurt more than the previous day. I realized that I couldn’t continue — I have to do the work that I need to do.

I’ve known Brent since before I was writing Daring Fireball, and he’s always been on my short list of “people I’d love to work with”. And, he still is. He’s a good friend and one of the most amazing developers I’ve ever encountered.

For Q Branch and Vesper, life goes on. We don’t have anything to announce today, other than that this is not the end. In the meantime, I simply want to publicly wish Brent well. He’s still full-time at The Omni Group, which means Q Branch work had been relegated to nights-and-weekends time. Nights-and-weekends time is for your passions, not for obligations.

James Bond Cars Through the Years 

Another clever HTML5 site, this one from U.K. car dealer Evans Halshaw. (Can’t believe they left out the Ford Mustang Mach 1 from Diamonds Are Forever, though.)

Fantastical 2 for Apple Watch 

Speaking of updates to my favorite apps, the new version of Fantastical for iPhone now has a Watch app, and it’s good. In addition to providing a “list of upcoming events” calendar view that makes way more sense to me than the built-in Calendar app, Fantastical on the watch also gives you access to your system-wide reminders and provides a more useful glance.

Update: Turns out the built-in Calendar app does have a list view — you can switch to it with a force tap. I’ve obviously violated my own second rule of Apple Watch: Try force tapping everything. (My first rule of Apple Watch: Re-read the Getting Started pamphlet that came with the watch after a day or two.)

Tweetbot for Mac 2.0 

Sweet Yosemite-style update to my favorite Twitter client.

Margalit Fox, writing for the NYT:

Jerry Dior, a graphic designer who created one of the most instantly recognizable logos in the history of American marketing — the silhouetted batter that has long symbolized Major League Baseball — but who received official credit for it only 40 years after the fact, died on May 10 at his home in Edison, N.J. He was 82.

Truly one of the best and most enduring logos in the world.

Species in Pieces 

Gorgeous, amazing pure HTML/CSS/JavaScript website by Bryan James.

New PayPal User Agreement Opts You Into Receiving Robocalls 

Brian Fung, reporting for The Washington Post:

PayPal users, this is for you.

The payments company is rolling out an update to its user agreement that threatens to bombard you with “autodialed or prerecorded calls and text messages” — and worse, by agreeing to the updated terms, you’re immediately opted in.

PayPal can even reach you at phone numbers that you didn’t provide. Through undisclosed means, PayPal says it has the right to contact you on numbers “we have otherwise obtained.” […]

“If you do not agree to these amended terms,” the revised document says, “you may close your account within the 30 day period and you will not be bound by the amended terms.”

In other words, put up with it — or get out.

I don’t even see the need to comment on this one.

Chris Sacca: ‘What Twitter Can Be’ 

Chris Sacca — a major investor in Twitter — wrote an enormous essay on what he sees as the way forward for the service. I wish there were a Cliff’s Notes summary, because it’s rambling. But, it’s also full of interesting insights. I like this bit, as a summary of what’s wrong at the moment:

It’s worth noting that Wall Street is the only place in the world where 300 million people using a service and an additional 500 million people visiting a site each month lead to charges that it isn’t “big” or “mainstream.”

That said, Twitter has failed to meet its own stated user growth expectations and has not been able to take advantage of the massive number of users who have signed up for accounts and then not come back. Shortcomings in the direct response advertising category have resulted in the company coming in below the financial community’s quarterly estimates. In the wake of this, Twitter’s efforts to convince the investing community of the opportunity ahead fell flat. Consequently, the stock is trading near a 6-month low, well below its IPO closing day price, and the company is suffering through a seemingly endless negative press cycle.

Up Next 

Speaking of iOS apps, Up Next is interesting. It’s a to-do list manager that integrates with your iCloud reminders. I know, there are a million to-do list apps on the App Store, but what brought Up Next to my attention is that it has a good WatchKit app, too. I’m not sure why Apple didn’t include a built-in Reminders app on Apple Watch, but Up Next gives you access to your iCloud reminders list, right from your watch. Incredibly cheap: just $2.


Remember Bugshot, an iPhone app Marco Arment made a few years ago for marking up screenshots with red boxes and arrows? The guys at Lickability have taken it over, expanded its features, and rebranded it as Pinpoint. It’s good, and it’s free — with a clever (or at least novel) in-app purchasing model where you pay to unlock additional colors.

See also: Federico Viticci’s review.

Tony Fadell: ‘The First Secret of Design Is Noticing’ 

Good talk from Tony Fadell at TED.

New York Times: No New Apple TV Next Week 

Brian X. Chen, writing for the NYT:

Apart from more powerful watch apps, Apple’s developer conference is also set to showcase software advancements for OS X, the Mac operating system, and iOS, the mobile operating system powering iPhones and iPads. In addition, Apple plans to unveil a new streaming music service it developed with Beats, the music company it acquired for $3 billion last year, according to people briefed on the situation, who declined to be identified because the details were confidential.

Yet one much ballyhooed device will be absent from the conference: a new Apple TV, Apple’s set-top box for televisions. The company planned as recently as mid-May to use the event to spotlight new Apple TV hardware, along with an improved remote control and a tool kit for developers to make apps for the entertainment device. But those plans were postponed partly because the product was not ready for prime time, according to two people briefed on the product.

Insert sad trombone song here.

Update: I like Moltz’s take.

On Apple’s Privacy Argument Regarding Cloud Services 

Thomas Ricker, writing for The Verge, regarding Tim Cook’s harsh words on the privacy implications of “free” online services backed by targeted advertising:

Arguably, Google Maps is better than Apple Maps, Gmail is better than Apple Mail, Google Drive is better than iCloud, Google Docs is better than iWork, and Google Photos can “surprise and delight” better than Apple Photos. Even with the risks.

If Apple truly cares about our privacy then it should stop talking about how important it is and start building superior cloud-based services we want to use — then it can protect us.

There’s much I would quibble with regarding Ricker’s piece, but his conclusion, quoted above, is spot-on. Apple needs to provide best-of-breed services and privacy, not second-best-but-more-private services. Many people will and do choose convenience and reliability over privacy. Apple’s superior position on privacy needs to be the icing on the cake, not their primary selling point.

Showtime to Offer Standalone Over-the-Internet Service Via iTunes for $11/Month 

Wonder why they didn’t wait until Monday’s keynote to announce this? Maybe because Apple didn’t get a three-month exclusive window like they did with HBO?

Reconcilable Differences 

New podcast, cohosted by Merlin Mann and John Siracusa. Sweet.

See also: Cortex, another new podcast on the Relay network, with CGP Grey and Myke Hurley.

Last Task After Layoff at Disney: Train Foreign Replacements 

Julia Preston, reporting for the NYT:

The employees who kept the data systems humming in the vast Walt Disney fantasy fief did not suspect trouble when they were suddenly summoned to meetings with their boss.

While families rode the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and searched for Nemo on clamobiles in the theme parks, these workers monitored computers in industrial buildings nearby, making sure millions of Walt Disney World ticket sales, store purchases and hotel reservations went through without a hitch. Some were performing so well that they thought they had been called in for bonuses.

Instead, about 250 Disney employees were told in late October that they would be laid off.

What a dick move. I expect better from Disney.

Speaking of Unpaid Apple Product Placement on Twitter 

The Cleveland Indians bullpen caught teammate Brandon Moss’s landmark 100th career home run. They delivered a ransom note for the ball.

Stephen Colbert Made Us Something 

Nice watch.

PaintCode Telekinesis 

You remember PaintCode — it’s the cool Mac drawing app/developer tool that outputs Cocoa source code. You can use it to “draw” your app’s UI and the result is rendered by native code. They just gave me a heads-up on their latest feature: “telekinesis”. It lets you change the UI while the app is running on a device. Looks cool.

Apple Watch Face Off: Astronomical Faces 

Jason Snell, writing at Six Colors:

These two faces, Astronomy and Solar, are beautiful, well-designed creations, and the Astronomy face really is a stunning demonstration of the Apple Watch’s computing power and the high quality of the display.

And I never use either of them.

Tim Cook Delivers Speech on Encryption and Privacy 

Matthew Panzarino:

Yesterday evening, Apple CEO Tim Cook was honored for ‘corporate leadership’ during EPIC’s Champions of Freedom event in Washington. Cook spoke remotely to the assembled audience on guarding customer privacy, ensuring security and protecting their right to encryption.

“Like many of you, we at Apple reject the idea that our customers should have to make tradeoffs between privacy and security,” Cook opened. “We can, and we must provide both in equal measure. We believe that people have a fundamental right to privacy. The American people demand it, the constitution demands it, morality demands it.” […]

“We believe the customer should be in control of their own information. You might like these so-called free services, but we don’t think they’re worth having your email, your search history and now even your family photos data mined and sold off for god knows what advertising purpose. And we think some day, customers will see this for what it is.”

The Grand Overlook Hotel 

Nice editing work by Steve Ramsden.

Recode: ‘Apple Subscription TV Service Won’t Be Announced Next Week’ 

Peter Kafka and Dawn Chmielewski, reporting for Recode:

Apple won’t be announcing its much-anticipated subscription TV service next week at its Worldwide Developer Conference, according to several people with knowledge of the situation.

The Cupertino technology company has told network executives the planned unveiling will be postponed because Apple has yet to finalize the licensing deals. Industry executives predict Apple’s Web TV offering may not launch until later this year, or in 2016. Technology and money issues remain sticking points.

Do they still announce new Apple TV hardware and a new SDK for developers, even if they’re not ready to announce the subscription content service? My guess is “yes” — assuming it’s all ready to go. They could launch a next-generation Apple TV with the content they already have.

A Humble Suggestion for Activity Rings 

David Smith:

I love the Apple Watch activity rings. I really do. Whoever at Apple came up with the idea of showing your activity as three concentric circles that you close when you complete your goal deserves a raise. It taps into the completionist part of my brain a way few other things do. It bothers me to leave one un-closed, which is exactly what it should do.

But I do have one problem with the current approach.

I like his idea.

Web Decay Graph 

Tim Bray:

I’ve been writing this blog since 2003 and in that time have laid down, along with way over a million words, 12,373 hyperlinks. I’ve noticed that when something leads me back to an old piece, the links are broken disappointingly often. So I made a little graph of their decay over the last 144 months.

It’s absolutely depressing how many of the links from the early years of Daring Fireball now point to 404’s. I’ve long thought about hiring someone to go through my archive and try to fix all those broken links by updating them to point to the Internet Archive’s cache of their contents.

The Asus ZenWatch 2 

Abdel Ibrahim, writing for Watch Aware on the fresh-off-the-rip-off-express Asus ZenWatch 2:

It get worse, though. The video they’ve put together resembles so much of the video Apple used to debut the Apple Watch it’s not even funny. Seriously, just watch it.

Looking at The Verge’s photo gallery, the bands don’t even fit the watches well. Asus managed to make it look like a shameless rip-off and a complete piece of junk at the same time. Bravo.

Golf Tips From Steve Jobs 

Regarding Avie Tevanian’s promotion from SVP of software engineering to Chief Software Technology Officer, a relevant excerpt from chapter 16 of Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli’s Becoming Steve Jobs:

“Steve kept people in a box,” says Avie. Tevanian had talked to his boss several times about his itch to do something new, and in 2003, Steve had moved him into a role as the company’s “chief software technology officer.” It was unquestionably a promotion, but it turned out to be a job without much of a portfolio. Tevanian found himself with little concrete responsibility. He felt out of the loop, and realized that his new role would not work. “Being a pseudo individual staff person working for Steve doesn’t work, because he already has all the answers. He didn’t like it when I would be in a meeting where he was reviewing a product, and I would have an opinion. He just didn’t like it. And he grew to not like that I could be a senior person like that without having day-to-day responsibilities to deliver something,” he says.

“Tim Cook, now Apple’s CEO, says that he worried about Tevanian leaving, and urged Steve in 2004 to figure out another challenge to keep the brilliant software engineer at Apple. “Steve looked at me,” Cook remembers, “and goes, ‘I agree he’s really smart. But he’s decided he doesn’t want to work. I’ve never found in my whole life that you could convince someone who doesn’t want to work hard to work hard.’ ” Another time, shortly after Steve had learned that Tevanian had taken up golf, Steve carped to Cook that something was really amiss. “Golf?!” he thundered incredulously. “Who has time for golf?”

The TSA Is Even More Useless Than You Thought 

David Kravets, writing for Ars Technica:

Transportation Security Administration screeners allowed banned weapons and mock explosives through airport security checkpoints 95 percent of the time, according to the agency’s own undercover testing.

ABC News reported the results on Monday, but Ars could not independently confirm them. According to ABC News, a Homeland Security Inspector General report showed that agents failed to detect weapons and explosives in 67 out of 70 undercover operations.

Just shut them down.

(I was going to link directly to the ABC News page, but in Safari on my Mac, it doesn’t let me scroll and the video autoplays, so screw them.)

Topolsky on Android M’s Now on Tap 

Speaking of Josh Topolsky, his new column for Bloomberg is on Google’s Now on Tap, announced last week at I/O:

This is a major move for two reasons. The first is that it really brings Google back to a place of dominance as the glue that holds your digital life together. The web has thrived and grown in no small part because of Google’s ability to track, organize, and understand all of its disparate pieces. Now it’s able to do the same thing with every app running on your phone. It allows Google to get back into the search game by speaking the common language of apps. It gives the company a second life with access to user behavior and needs.

That’s a great way to think about Now on Tap. Google rose to prominence/dominance through their superior ability to (a) index the web and (b) make sense of what they’ve indexed. Everyone gets this — it’s obvious. But it’s also obvious that Google’s ability to index the web matters less in a world where people spend more and more of their time in native apps. Now on Tap is a step toward Google indexing the content we see in native apps.

Yours Truly Guesting on Josh Topolsky’s New ‘Tomorrow’ Podcast 

Speaking of podcasts I appear on, I’m on the latest episode of Josh Topolsky’s Tomorrow. I always dig talking with Josh, because we disagree — to some degree — on so many things. Fun show.