Linked List: September 2015

Google’s New ‘Customer Match’ for Ads 

Sridhar Ramaswamy, Google’s senior vice president for ads and commerce:

Customer Match is a new product designed to help you reach your highest-value customers on Google Search, YouTube, and Gmail — when it matters most. Customer Match allows you to upload a list of email addresses, which can be matched to signed-in users on Google in a secure and privacy-safe way. From there, you can build campaigns and ads specifically designed to reach your audience. Users can control the ads they see, including Customer Match ads, by opting out of personalized ads or by muting or blocking ads from individual advertisers through Google Ads Settings.

Here’s Peter Gothard’s take on what this means, writing for Computing:

Google is close to rolling out a tool named “Customer Match” which, it appears, will combine a logged-in Google account with any email address handed by a customer to a retailer to create lists of addresses to target specific users with marketing material.

The search giant can sit comfortably with this arrangement, as the lists of emails are anonymised through the service, meaning Google keeps hold of the specific details and the retailer doesn’t get them, but can use them to blind dump advertising into Google-based sessions in services such as YouTube, Gmail or basic search functions on the Google homepage.

The bottom line: ever-more-personally-targeted ads, and a growing divide between Google’s and Apple’s approach to privacy.

Recode: Jack Dorsey to Be Named Permanent Twitter CEO 

Kara Swisher and Kurt Wagner, reporting for Recode:

Jack is back — for good this time.

Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, who has been serving as interim CEO for the past three months, is expected be named the company’s new permanent CEO as early as tomorrow, although that timeframe may change, according to sources. Dorsey will apparently continue to run Square, the payments company he founded where he’s also CEO.

I feel good about this — Dorsey values product design, and he understands what makes Twitter what it is.

How-To Geek: ‘Apple Maps vs. Google Maps’ 

Chris Stobing, writing for How-To-Geek:

Going into this article, I thought we were going to have a clear winner with Google Maps sitting comfortably out front. However, it was a pleasant surprise to find that with Apple Maps updated and all the kinks finally worked out, the debate between Google or Apple Maps eventually just comes down to your own personal preference.

I know that Apple Maps still has terrible data for certain parts of the world. But I’ve been saying for a while now that for a lot of us, it’s gotten pretty good. I do still have Google Maps installed on my phone, but I haven’t used it in months.

Apple Actually Wants You to Read and Understand Its Privacy Policies 

Matthew Panzarino on Apple’s new Privacy Policy:

This is the template for all other tech companies when it comes to informing users about their privacy. Not a page of dense jargon, and not a page of cutesy simplified language that doesn’t actually communicate the nuance of the thing. Instead, it’s a true product. A product whose aims are to inform and educate, just as Apple says its other products do.

An example:

Here’s a tidbit with regards to Apple Maps. When you query Maps for a trip, Apple generates a generic device identifier and pulls the info using that, rather than an Apple ID. Halfway through your trip, it generates another random ID and associates the second half with that. Then, for good measure, it truncates the trip data so the information about exact origin and destination are not kept. That data is retained for 2 years to improve Maps and then deleted.

Pretty sure Google Maps doesn’t work that way.


Kyle Wiens, iFixit:

You might have noticed that there’s no longer an iFixit app in the Apple’s App Store. We are sorry for anyone this has inconvenienced.

Not too long ago, we tore down the Apple TV and Siri Remote. The developer unit we disassembled was sent to us by Apple. Evidently, they didn’t intend for us to take it apart. But we’re a teardown and repair company; teardowns are in our DNA — and nothing makes us happier than figuring out what makes these gadgets tick. We weighed the risks, blithely tossed those risks over our shoulder, and tore down the Apple TV anyway.

A few days later, we got an email from Apple informing us that we violated their terms and conditions — and the offending developer account had been banned. Unfortunately, iFixit’s app was tied to that same account, so Apple pulled the app as well. Their justification was that we had taken “actions that may hinder the performance or intended use of the App Store, B2B Program, or the Program.”

“Evidently, they didn’t intend for us to take it apart” is the funniest thing I’ve read today. This isn’t some niggling technicality — they violated the spirit and plainly written letter of the developer kit agreement. Of course Apple was going to react. Whether a complete suspension of iFixit’s developer account is a just punishment is debatable, but it certainly shouldn’t be surprising.

There is, however, a certain purity to iFixit’s actions here, like the fable of the scorpion and the frog. It’s dishonest to blatantly violate an NDA, but it’s iFixit’s institutional nature to disassemble and publish every gadget they get their hands on.

The Success of iOS Ad Blockers Is Not ‘Ironic’ 

Jacob Davidson, writing for Time:

But Apple’s move to allow ad blockers has changed all that. In the days since iOS 9’s release, ad blockers quickly became the best selling software in the App Store. That means, ironically enough, that iPhone users want an ad-free mobile experience so badly they’re willing to pay directly for it.

That’s not irony. There is nothing ironic about people being willing to pay for something of value that removes something of negative value. What he’s trying to say here is that he had assumed that people are unwilling to pay for things and would put up with anything so long as it was free — and so he’s surprised to be proven wrong. But rather than face his wrong assumptions that led to his surprise, he’s chalking it up to iOS users doing something “ironic”.

What would be ironic would be if iOS users were buying ad blockers that were advertised via web banner ads that the blockers themselves block. Update: This isn’t quite irony, but it is chutzpah.

Philadelphia City Paper to Cease Print Publication 

Sam Wood, reporting for The Philadelphia Inquirer:

City Paper, Philadelphia’s feisty alternative newspaper, will cease its print publication as of Oct. 8. News of the prize-winning weekly’s demise came as a surprise this afternoon to the publication’s editors and staff writers. […]

City Paper’s website operations will be consolidated with, which until today was City Paper’s primary competitor.

Unsurprising, given the current media climate, but City Paper and Philadelphia Weekly were arch-rivals. An ignominious end.

MarketWatch: ‘Google Unveils Everything Apple Launched, Only Cheaper’ 

I love this headline. Seriously, it’s perfect.

Donald Trump Is Not Going Anywhere 

Terrific behind-the-scenes profile of Trump on the campaign trail, by Mark Leibovich for the NYT Magazine:

“Don’t speak,” Trump instructed me as I sat down next to him in a Suburban. That was fine by me. None of the five staff members and security people in the vehicle said a word. We sat, per Trump’s dictate, in silence for the half-hour drive. It was almost comforting to me that he would take a break from being Donald, the Brand, and turn relatively “off” in my presence; that he could, as much as he ever does, retreat into himself. I wondered what he was thinking about.

There’s a you-are-there feel to Leibovich’s piece that I just love.

AnandTech: iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus Preliminary Results 

It’s not just CPU performance: reading and writing to SSD storage have improved tremendously since last year — and are way ahead of the rest of the industry.

Donate to St. Jude Memphis for Stephen Hackett 

Stephen Hackett (of 512 Pixels fame):

St. Jude is a special place: The mission of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is to advance cures, and means of prevention, for pediatric catastrophic diseases through research and treatment. Consistent with the vision of our founder Danny Thomas, no child is denied treatment based on race, religion or a family’s ability to pay.

Over the last six years, St. Jude has spent millions of dollars on our son, saving not only his life, but our family from financial ruin.

It’s a fantastic cause, and one that is near and dear to his family. He’s already hit his funding goal of $18,000, but it’d be great to see the total raised blow past that. Let’s make it happen.

‘The Point Is He Is Not So Much a Broken Clock as a Compass That Points South’ 

The Macalope takes on a piece from Rob Enderle that is obviously wrong even by Enderle’s own standards — wherein he argues that Apple needs to abandon its custom A-series chips for mobile and use the ones everyone else does from Qualcomm. You know, the ones that are around three years behind in performance.

The State of JavaScript on Android in 2015 Is Poor 

Jeff Atwood:

It seems the Android manufacturers are more interested in slapping n slow CPU cores on a die than they are in producing very fast CPU cores. And this is quite punishing when it comes to JavaScript.

This is becoming more and more of a systemic problem in the Android ecosystem, one that will not go away in the next few years, and it may affect the future of Discourse, since we bet heavily on near-desktop JavaScript performance on mobile devices. That is clearly happening on iOS but it is quite disastrously the opposite on Android.

Looking at a JavaScript benchmark, the fastest-known Android device today performed worse than an iPhone 5. That puts state-of-the-art Android performance three years behind iPhones.

It almost certainly is not because Chrome/Blink has worse JavaScript performance than Safari/WebKit — desktop benchmarks tend to show Chrome as being faster, if anything. I think the obvious answer is that the ARM chips used even in the highest-end Android phones are years behind Apple’s A-series chips in single-core performance. I don’t think it’s because Android manufacturers are cheaping out, as Atwood implies. I think it’s because Bob Mansfield’s team inside Apple is that far ahead of the rest of the industry.

What It Means to Be a Great Product 

Horace Dediu:

This quandary came to mind when looking at the performance of the latest iPhone, the 6S. Observing it closely, we lose sight of it. We see only minute changes between versions; marginal changes which can’t be weighed. And yet these changes have a more important attribute: they are absorbable. A change that is ignored is not only valueless, it may actually destroy perception of value. It creates clutter and confusion. A change that is absorbable is valuable. It is meaningful.

Looking at new features like 3D Touch, Live Photos, and better cameras, one can observe how easily acceptable and desirable they are to those who first see them. As were Siri, FaceTime, Touch ID and iCloud, making something meaningfully better is a sign of sustaining innovation which does not over-serve.

Paradoxically, the improvements are not usually things that users ask for. Surveys always show that consumers want “better battery life” or a “bigger screen” but delivering something else entirely which nevertheless leads to mass adoption shows an uncanny insight into what really matters. Indeed, those who deliver only what customers ask for end up marginalized and bereft of profit.

Wonderfully astute, as usual.

Philly Without Cars 

Gorgeous video by Cory J. Popp of the car-free streets of Philadelphia during last weekend’s shutdown for Pope Francis. (Thanks to Shawn Medero.)

Apple’s iPhone 6S Breaks Record as China Boosts Sales to 13M 

Sam Thielman, reporting for The Guardian:

Enthusiasm in China drove sales of Apple’s latest iPhone to a record 13m units last weekend, topping last year’s record of 10m, when the manufacturer’s popular phone was held up in China by regulators. Analysts put sales in China at between 3m and 4m units, leaving sales elsewhere essentially flat year-over-year.

I had forgotten about the delay in China last year — that clearly explains a lot of the opening weekend bump. Worth noting though, that the iPhone 5S (and 5C) were available in China for opening weekend two years ago, and the total was “only” a then-record 9 million.

User Interface of the Week 

“Maintenance mode” of a cash-for-used-phones machine, as spotted by Dave Addey. This is only the first tab. Obviously this is crazy, but in an odd way I find it beautiful, too.

Axel Springer Buys Business Insider 

Peter Kafka, reporting for Recode:

Earlier this year, German publisher Axel Springer tried and failed to buy the Financial Times. Now it’s acquiring Business Insider.

This is the deal we told you about last week; Springer is announcing it today. The deal values Business Insider at $442 million — we had previously told you it would peg the site’s value at $560 million — but Springer already owned 9 percent of the company, and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who had previously put his own money into the company, will leave it in there. When factoring out the cash still on the books, the value comes down to $390 million. Springer will end up writing a check for $343 million when the deal closes; it says Business Insider has 76 million readers and 325 employees worldwide.

Pixar Artists Get Preview of iPad Pro and Apple Pencil 

Pixar developer Michael B. “Dr. Wave” Johnson, in a follow-up tweet:

It has perfect palm rejection as far as we were able to see.

Palm detection was a big question after the announcement event this month, where it looked as though the demonstrators were trying to avoid placing their palms on screen. I think that was the result of trying not to obscure the camera’s view of the iPad Pro display, not the result of poor palm detection. In the hands-on area, palm detection seemed spot-on.

Remembering Alex King 

Matt Mullenweg:

One of the original WordPress developers, Alex King, has passed from cancer at far too young an age. Alex actually got involved with b2 in 2002 and was active in the forums and the “hacks” community there.

Alex had a background as a designer before he learned development, and I think that really came through as he was one of those rare people who thought about the design and usability of his code, the opposite of most development that drifts toward entropy and complexity. One of my favorite things about Alex was how darn tasteful he was. He would think about every aspect of something he built, every place someone could click, every path they could do down, and gave a thoughtfulness to these paths that I still admire and envy today.

Heartbreaking news. Alex was just a great person: funny, clever, honest, diligent. Everyone who knew him liked him.

Another good remembrance, from Adam Tow.

Two-Week-Old Claim Chowder: ‘Top Analyst: Early Apple iPhone 6S Sales Are Weak’ 

CNBC report from two weeks ago:

Early evidence is suggesting demand for the iPhone 6S may be meaningfully lower than last year’s model, according to a top-ranked technology analyst.

Andy Hargreaves of Pacific Crest wrote a provocative note to clients on Wednesday evening showing Google search volume, device shipments availability, third-party surveys and a lack of quantitative statements from Apple and the wireless carriers all point to weak iPhone demand.

Hargreaves is one of the top analysts on Wall Street.

Apple today announced that iPhone 6S sales were up about 30 percent over last year.

Device shipment availability is obviously related to consumer demand, but it’s also a measure of Apple’s production. It might be the case that opening weekend demand wasn’t that much stronger this year versus last — but merely that Apple was able to produce more of them for opening weekend availability.

How Does the iPhone 6S Camera Compare to Every Other iPhone Generation 

Lisa Bettany:

Each year I do this comparison, and each year I am impressed at how much the iPhone camera technology has improved. The iPhone has made it easier to capture and share our memories. Each new phone gives us a better tool to capture better quality images and create incredible photographs.

The improved sensor, software updates and new A9 processor on the iPhone 6s has made this camera the best yet. There is an apparent increase in the speed of auto focus and improvements to colour accuracy, details and sharpness, especially in low light.

Apple Is Sourcing A9 Chips From Both Samsung and TSMC 


It had been industry speculation prior to the iPhone 6S launch that Apple would be dual-sourcing the A9 and A9X from Samsung and TSMC, respectively.

It was a surprise to find two different application processors in two otherwise identical phones. As pictured below, there is a difference in the die size for the APL0898 (Samsung) and the APL1022 (TSMC).

The Samsung version is slightly smaller. Both versions seemingly perform equivalently.

When Apple announces sales numbers for the iPhone (like they did today, for the 6S opening weekend), my thoughts first turn to what a marketing success that is. It’s absolutely amazing that 13 million people wanted to buy a new iPhone during its first three days of availability. But I think that number is even more amazing when considered as an operational success. It’s not just that 13 million people were willing to buy an iPhone, it’s that Apple was able to deliver 13 million new iPhones — made from a new aluminum alloy, with a new “harder” glass for the display, and with an industry-leading CPU/GPU that is years ahead of the competition.

The negotiations between Apple and Samsung for the production of these chips must be fascinating. The chips Samsung uses in its own phones are years behind in single-core performance. How is it that Samsung can fabricate these chips for Apple but can’t copy or clone them for their own use?

Conversation in the Post-iPhone World 

Sherry Turkle, in an essay for the NYT adapted from her new book, Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age:

I have seen this resilience during my own research at a device-free summer camp. At a nightly cabin chat, a group of 14-year-old boys spoke about a recent three-day wilderness hike. Not that many years ago, the most exciting aspect of that hike might have been the idea of roughing it or the beauty of unspoiled nature. These days, what made the biggest impression was being phoneless. One boy called it “time where you have nothing to do but think quietly and talk to your friends.” The campers also spoke about their new taste for life away from the online feed. Their embrace of the virtue of disconnection suggests a crucial connection: The capacity for empathic conversation goes hand in hand with the capacity for solitude.

In solitude we find ourselves; we prepare ourselves to come to conversation with something to say that is authentic, ours. If we can’t gather ourselves, we can’t recognize other people for who they are. If we are not content to be alone, we turn others into the people we need them to be. If we don’t know how to be alone, we’ll only know how to be lonely.

BlackBerry CEO John Chen Shows Off the Android-Based Priv 

This is one of the most awkward product demonstrations I’ve ever seen. Nothing worked, and Chen seems to think “Google” is the name of an operating system. Jiminy. (Via The Verge.)

Business Dry at Philly Restaurants During Papal Visit 

Michael Klein and Dylan Purcell, reporting for The Philadelphia Inquirer:

Said Stephen Starr, who owns about a dozen Philadelphia restaurants: “This affected business worse than Hurricane Sandy. The city scared all of our customers away. We have virtually no reservations. This is unnecessary overkill. What should have been a feeling of family and community was turned into a police and military operation.”

The slowdown seems to have affected restaurants at all price points. Business at the three casual Marathon Grills in Center City has been “terrible, especially at 1818 Market St.,” said Cary Borish, whose family owns the restaurants. “We spent a huge amount of timing planning and investing in a lot of food and we wound up donating much of it today. Major bummer.” He cited poor planning on the city’s part.

This weekend was surreal here. It sounds bizarre that restaurants suffered during a weekend when the city had a million or so tourists, but I’m not surprised. It wasn’t a fun or festive atmosphere — it felt like a military occupation.

iPhone 6S Water Test 

Interesting: Zach Straley submerged both new iPhones for over an hour, and they were none the worse for the wear. Apple is most certainly not claiming any sort of water resistance, but it seems like the new iPhones are lot more likely to survive a dunking than iPhones from a few years ago. Here’s another similar test, with the same results.

CocoaLove 2015 Last-Minute Tickets 

CocoaLove — a fun, smart conference right here in Philadelphia, October 9–11 — made room for a few additional attendees:

We were able to make a little more room during our main events, so we’re offering up some last-minute tickets for sale! We only have a few extra spots open, and we can only make them available through October 1st.

Last year’s version was great; this year’s looks even better.

Apple Announces Record Opening-Weekend iPhone Sales for 6S and 6S Plus 


Apple today announced it has sold more than 13 million new iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus models, a new record, just three days after launch.

Last year the number was 10 million, so sales really are up quite a bit.

Dave Pell: ‘News Is Different’ 

Dave Pell:

It’s hard to feel sorry for the news organizations that have utterly failed to pay enough attention to the top story of a generation. It’s one thing to bury the lede. It’s another to allow it to bury your industry.

But if you can’t feel sorry for news orgs, then at least feel sorry for yourself. Because news really is different. The demise of reporting outfits is not only about the loss of jobs and the diminishing of fortunes, it’s a severe blow to society. It represents the potential silencing of the only voice many people have.

iPads in the Dugout 

Jenifer Langosch, reporting for

With the blessing of Major League Baseball, teams have been permitted to utilize iPads in the dugout to call up statistics, scouting reports, spray charts and more. Teams received the go-ahead to incorporate the technology beginning on Monday. They cannot hook their devices to WiFi and only information downloaded before first pitch can be used.

While most of the information isn’t so much new — the Cardinals have always had stacks of paper with all that information — cueing it up on an iPad screen, Matheny believes, could be more efficient. And in some cases, it can also complement what the team already has in paper form.

How long until the rules allow for Wi-Fi?

Mapbox iOS SDK 

My thanks to Mapbox for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. The Mapbox iOS SDK is the new open source framework for making your app location-aware. It comes with beautiful vector maps for any scenario: detailed streets for navigating cities, terrain for adventuring, and satellite imagery for seeing the world up close.

You can even find out how users interact with your map. The analytics dashboard provides a continuously updated view of your user base, from places where your app is popular to better metrics around uses of your app.

Start developing with the Mapbox iOS SDK for free today. Mapbox’s Cocoa API works just like Apple’s MapKit — just swap out MKMapView for MGLMapView. Their “First Steps With the Mapbox iOS SDK” guide shows just how easy it is to switch.

Ben Brooks Surveys the iOS Content Blocker Field 

Ben Brooks wrote a comprehensive four-part series comparing and testing the top iOS content blockers. Really useful, really interesting information — he put a lot of work and thought into this.

Projecting the Ad Revenue Effect of iOS 9 Content Blocking 

Ben Ilfeld and Jake Goldman, in a report for 10up:

We invented a hypothetical mid-size publisher based in the United States and reliant on exchange banner ads, using private data from a variety of sources and industry data reviewed in the report, including adoption models that predict equal or greater adoption compared to desktop ad blockers.

Eight months from now, our hypothetical publisher could see a 3.7% drop in ad revenue. With astronomical content blocker adoption (3× desktop rates) driven by App Store visibility and media coverage, that number could be as high as 11%. A potentially severe setback for businesses with thin margins.

If their model is accurate, the effects of iOS content blocking on publishers won’t be too bad. Their 11 percent worst-case scenario requires iOS users to adopt ad blockers at three times the rate of desktop users, which does not sound likely to me.

How Graphics Worked on the Commodore 64 and Nintendo Entertainment System 

Great video from The iBookGuy. (Via Jim Coudal.)

App Slicing Currently Unavailable 


App slicing is currently unavailable for iOS 9 apps due to an issue affecting iCloud backups created from iOS 9 where some apps from the App Store would only restore to the same model of iOS device.

Matthew Panzarino on the iPhones 6S 

I’m still working my way through all the reviews of the new iPhones this week, but my favorite so far is Matthew Panzarino’s for TechCrunch. It’s a good complement to mine, too — he goes way deeper on the camera improvements and Live Photos than I did, and he was primarily using the Plus, not the regular 6S.

At the start, Panzarino writes:

By the way, given that the vast majority of folks will restore their phones from an iCloud backup, I ditched the whole “let’s pretend this is a new iPhone” testing methodology. I think it’s silly to test phones in a vacuum. So I loaded up my iCloud backup with all of my normal apps — nothing too crazy, not a lot of beta software, just a healthy mix of productivity, games, sports apps and the tools I need to run TechCrunch like Slack, Convo, Notefile, email accounts and messaging clients.

By “cloning” my current iPhone, I’m able to see how they both perform on an equal real-world footing, not as lab test dummies. It’s not the only method, but it’s the only one that makes sense to me.

I’ve been doing this for years. I treat my review units like I would if they were my own new iPhone, and with my new iPhones, I always restore them from a backup of my previous iPhone. Otherwise it’s too big a hassle restoring everything I need to feel at home — and in my experience, there’s no downside.

Starting with the 5S/5C two years ago, though, Apple has provided reviewers with two new phones. Last year and this year we got one in each size. What I’ve done with these is pick one to use thoroughly, as my “real” everyday iPhone. The other — the 5C in 2013, and the Plus models last year and this year — I do set up as a “new phone”, just so I can see what the defaults are like.

Anyway, for all of you expecting new iPhones to arrive tomorrow, I wouldn’t hesitate to set them as clones of your old iPhone.

iPhone 6s vs. iPhone 6s Plus: Digital and Optical Image Stabilization at 4K 

Interesting side-by-side comparison of 4K video shot with the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus, clearly demonstrating the benefits of optical image stabilization on the Plus.

The Fake Traffic Schemes That Are Rotting the Internet 

Terrific piece for Bloomberg by Ben Elgin, Michael Riley, David Kocieniewski, and Joshua Brustein:

“I can think of nothing that has done more harm to the Internet than ad tech,” says Bob Hoffman, a veteran ad executive, industry critic, and author of the blog the Ad Contrarian. “It interferes with everything we try to do on the Web. It has cheapened and debased advertising and spawned criminal empires.” Most ridiculous of all, he adds, is that advertisers are further away than ever from solving the old which-part-of-my-budget-is-working problem. “Nobody knows the exact number,” Hoffman says, “but probably about 50 percent of what you’re spending online is being stolen from you.”

Throughout history, the ad industry craved data. TV didn’t supply data. Print didn’t supply data. But online — online they got data. Tons of data. More data than they know what to do with. The catch is that online traffic is easily spoofed by fraudulent bots.

When you charge advertisers by the impression, and there’s no marginal cost to creating fraudulent impressions, large-scale fraud and click-bait content are inevitable consequences.

Upton Sinclair: ‘It Is Difficult to Get a Man to Understand Something When His Salary Depends on His Not Understanding It’ 

I’ve mentioned this quote from Upton Sinclair a few times over the years, but it’s certainly apt once again with the current debate over ad blocking. A few readers have asked, in light of yesterday’s link to Randall Rothenberg’s AdAge op-ed advising the industry to start making better and less-user-hostile ads, why it took so long for the industry to wake up to this. Why did they wait until after ad-blockers came to iOS to start thinking about how to respond?

The answer is that they should have seen this coming years ago, but remained blind or in denial because the entire mainstream online ad industry depends upon all this “programmatic advertising” crap, and programmatic advertising is a fundamentally flawed idea.

David Smith: ‘16 GB Is a Bad User Experience’ 

I linked to this piece in my iPhone 6S review, but it’s worth calling out on its own. David Smith:

For a long time I’ve used the usage data from my Audiobooks app as a indication of what typical iOS usage looks like. It is an old enough app with a wide enough userbase that its data has generally been pretty reflective of what I see reported overall. So while not perfect they should give a good general idea of what customer choices. […]

So amongst customers with 16 GB devices 37% of them have less than 1 GB of space available, compared to just 1% with 64 GB [devices].

I’d say it is pretty fair to say that if you have less than 1GB of data available on your iPhone you are in imminent danger of running out and ruining your day. Taking the 43% of customers with these devices and the 37% of them who fall in that range we have 17% of customers walking around each day with a damoclean sword dangling over their heads.

Apple surely has better data, but according to Smith’s numbers, one out of six iPhone 6 users have less than 1 GB of free space.

Yogi, the Elder Statesman 

One more on Yogi Berra — the story of how he humanized George Steinbrenner. No one else could have done it but Yogi.

VW Not the Only Carmaker Cheating on Emissions Tests? 


Shares of German auto maker BMW dropped sharply on Thursday after a German newspaper claimed its diesel engines were “significantly” exceeding regulatory limits.

Auto Bild — a publication owned by Axel Springer — said Thursday in an exclusive report that BMW engines were emitting nitrogen oxide levels that were 11 times more than the current limit set by the European Union.

Citing road tests by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), it said that a model of the BMW X3 was emitting more poisonous gases than the Volkswagen car that is currently at the center of the emissions scandal.

“All measured data suggest that this is not a VW-specific issue,” Peter Mock, the Europe Managing Director at the ICCT, told the publication.

U.S. Drops to 55th in 4G LTE Speeds 

Stephen Lawson, reporting for IDG:

The U.S. has fallen to No. 55 in LTE performance as speeds rise rapidly in countries that have leapfrogged some early adopters of the popular cellular system.

The average download speed on U.S. 4G networks inched up to 10Mbps (bits per second) in the June-August quarter, according to research company OpenSignal. That was an improvement from 9Mbps in the previous quarter, but the country’s global ranking fell from 43rd as users in other countries enjoyed much larger gains.

The great thing about carrier competition in the US is how it spurs innovation and improvement.

More on Color Complications on the Utility Apple Watch Face 

In addition to my complaint about the new color version of the activity complication on the Utility face, Ben Thompson observes that the alarm and timer complications are hard-coded as orange now. I missed that, because I use the light orange seconds hand — I assumed these tints always matched.

Apple really screwed the pooch on the Utility face in WatchOS 2.0. Did Alan Dye lose a bet? These complications all looked better before, in monochrome. They should have done what they did with the Modular face, and added a distinct “Multicolor” option to the color choices for the Utility face, for people who enjoy this sort of garishness.

Yogi Berra: One of a Kind 

Rob Arthur, writing for FiveThirtyEight:

By quantity, he played in 13.2 percent of all of the Yankees games in history and more World Series games than any other single player. But more than the obvious accolades — the three Most Valuable Player awards, the 10 World Series wins — Berra was exceptional by virtue of his improbability.

Pebble Round 

Nice bezel.

The Ad Industry’s Perspective 

Randall Rothenberg, writing for Advertising Age, presents the ad industry’s take on ad blocking. Look past his histrionics equating ad-blocking with “robbery” and his advice to the industry is solid: they need to respect users and create ads that we don’t want to block.

Yogi Berra, 10-Time World Series Champ, 3-Time MVP, Beloved Class Act, Dies at 90 

Bruce Weber, the NYT:

Beyond the historic moments and individual accomplishments, what most distinguished Berra’s career was how often he won. From 1946 to 1985, as a player, coach and manager, Berra appeared in a remarkable 21 World Series. Playing on powerful Yankee teams with teammates like Rizzuto and Joe DiMaggio early on and then Whitey Ford and Mickey Mantle, Berra starred on World Series winners in 1947, ’49, ’50, ’51, ’52, ’53, ’56 and ’58. He was a backup catcher and part-time outfielder on the championship teams of 1961 and ’62. (He also played on World Series losers in 1955, ’57, ’60 and ’63.)

All told, his Yankee teams won the American League pennant 14 out of 17 years. He still holds Series records for games played, plate appearances, hits and doubles.

No other player has been a champion so often.

It’s almost unfathomable how successful the Yankees were with Yogi. He spanned the era from DiMaggio to Mantle, and caught Don Larsen’s perfect game in the World Series. A perfect game in the World Series. But beyond his on-field success, if you don’t follow the Yankees closely, you just can’t understand how beloved the man was. When he showed up in recent years for special events at Yankee Stadium, the place just erupted. No one got a response from the crowd like Yogi did.

Among his Yogi-isms:

“You can observe a lot just by watching,” he is reputed to have declared once, describing his strategy as a manager.

“If you can’t imitate him,” he advised a young player who was mimicking the batting stance of the great slugger Frank Robinson, “don’t copy him.”

“When you come to a fork in the road, take it,” he said, giving directions to his house. Either path, it turned out, got you there.

“Nobody goes there anymore,” he said of a popular restaurant. “It’s too crowded.”

NYT: ‘E-Book Sales Slip, and Print Is Far From Dead’ 

Alexandra Alter, reporting for the NYT:

Now, there are signs that some e-book adopters are returning to print, or becoming hybrid readers, who juggle devices and paper. E-book sales fell by 10 percent in the first five months of this year, according to the Association of American Publishers, which collects data from nearly 1,200 publishers. Digital books accounted last year for around 20 percent of the market, roughly the same as they did a few years ago.

E-books’ declining popularity may signal that publishing, while not immune to technological upheaval, will weather the tidal wave of digital technology better than other forms of media, like music and television.

I read both, but for any book I truly care about, I prefer to get it in print.

Apple’s XcodeGhost FAQ 


We have no information to suggest that the malware has been used to do anything malicious or that this exploit would have delivered any personally identifiable information had it been used.

We’re not aware of personally identifiable customer data being impacted and the code also did not have the ability to request customer credentials to gain iCloud and other service passwords.

The Apple Bias 

Vlad Savov, writing at The Verge:

That’s justified bias. That’s relevant context derived from history and experience. Without it, we’d be reciting facts and figures, but no meaning. Megabytes and millimeters matter only after they’ve been passed through the prism of human judgment, and we shouldn’t pretend that it can, or should, ever be unbiased.

Capturing Baseball With an iPhone 6S Plus 

Photographer Brad Mangin shot a Diamondbacks-Giants series in San Francisco for Sports Illustrated last week with the new iPhone 6S Plus. Some great shots — my favorite is #3.

Update: In a small dose of irony, I had to disable content-blocking (long press the reload button in Mobile Safari’s location field) to get SI’s image gallery dingus to work. Here’s Ghostery’s report card.

The Deck’s Privacy Policy 

The Deck’s new privacy policy is clear:

As a network we have never issued cookies or tracked readers in any way. The only data we collect is gross impressions: the total number of times an ad has been served during a month. We have never known, or have had any way to know, who was served what ad. Basically, aside from our surveys, all we know is what we can learn from our server logs.

We have never allowed third-party ad serving via iFrames or Javascript. In years past however, we did allow for simple “standard” third-party ad serving. We discontinued that policy in 2014. As that technology became increasingly sophisticated, we felt we could not adequately police those situations. Nor do we have any desire to do so.

On rare occasions, we have allowed specific advertisers to use a simple 1×1 tracking pixel for limited periods of time. Given the current environment, we’re not going to be doing that any more. We have never allowed the injection of scripts, page takeovers, interstitial splash pages or any of the other tomfoolery that so frustrates readers.

It sounds odd to say that a privacy policy makes for a good read, but this one does. I highly encourage you to read it. This is why I’m proud to serve ads from The Deck here on Daring Fireball.

Former GM Vice Chairman: Apple Car a ‘Gigantic Money Pit’ 


Former GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz discusses why Apple shareholders shouldn’t be excited about the company’s development of an electric car.

His argument: no one has “made a nickel” to date selling electric cars, and Apple has no experience in the car business. In other words, it’s the auto industry version of “PC guys are not going to just figure this out. They’re not going to just walk in.

Rene Ritchie’s WatchOS 2 Review 

Want to know everything new in WatchOS 2? Rene Ritchie has you covered.

(Everything seems like an improvement to me, with one exception: the Activity complication on the Utility clock face (by far my favorite and most-used face) is no longer monochromatic — it shows your activity rings in color. All the other faces still show the Activity complication in monochrome. That small dose of colorfulness feels out of place on what is otherwise, to my eyes, Apple Watch’s most elegant face. Maybe this could be a setting?)

Apple Releases WatchOS 2.0 

Romain Dillet, writing for TechCrunch:

Here’s how you can update to watchOS 2. Open the Watch app on your iPhone, go to “General” then “Software Update.” Apple should then prompt you to update.

There’s no reason why you shouldn’t update to watchOS 2. In many ways, it feels like the Apple Watch was in beta, and watchOS 2 is the final version of Apple’s vision. Things load faster, developers are going to take advantage of the new features and everything is more reliable.

WSJ: Apple Car Now a ‘Committed Project’ 

Daisuke Wakabayashi, reporting for the WSJ:

Apple Inc. is accelerating efforts to build an electric car, designating it internally as a “committed project” and setting a target ship date for 2019, according to people familiar with the matter.

The go-ahead came after the company spent more than a year investigating the feasibility of an Apple-branded car, including meetings with two groups of government officials in California. Leaders of the project, code-named Titan, have been given permission to triple the 600-person team, the people familiar with the matter said.

Apple has hired experts in driverless cars, but the people familiar with Apple’s plans said the Cupertino, Calif., company doesn’t currently plan to make its first electric vehicle fully autonomous. That capability is part of the product’s long-term plans, the people familiar with the matter said.

Apple Car Sport: $25,000.

Apple Car: $40-60,000.

Apple Car Edition: $250,000.

Apple Removes Over 50 Malware-Infected Apps From iOS App Store 


The company disclosed the effort after several cyber security firms reported finding a malicious program dubbed XcodeGhost that was embedded in hundreds of legitimate apps.

It is the first reported case of large numbers of malicious software programs making their way past Apple’s stringent app review process. Prior to this attack, a total of just five malicious apps had ever been found in the App Store, according to cyber security firm Palo Alto Networks Inc.

The hackers embedded the malicious code in these apps by convincing developers of legitimate software to use a tainted, counterfeit version of Apple’s software for creating iOS and Mac apps, which is known as Xcode, Apple said.

This is a fiendishly clever assault. They didn’t attack the App Store itself, instead, they created a hacked version of Xcode that seems to work as expected but inserts the malware payload into the apps it compiles. Why in the world would developers download Xcode from a source other than Apple? Because China’s internet speeds are so slow (and Xcode is a multi-gigabyte download).

Zerodium Million Dollar iOS 9 Bug Bounty 


Apple iOS, like all operating system, is often affected by critical security vulnerabilities, however due to the increasing number of security improvements and the effectiveness of exploit mitigations in place, Apple’s iOS is currently the most secure mobile OS. But don’t be fooled, secure does not mean unbreakable, it just means that iOS has currently the highest cost and complexity of vulnerability exploitation and here’s where the Million Dollar iOS 9 Bug Bounty comes into play.

The Million Dollar iOS 9 Bug Bounty is tailored for experienced security researchers, reverse engineers, and jailbreak developers, and is an offer made by Zerodium to pay out a total of three million U.S. dollars ($3,000,000.00) in rewards for iOS exploits/jailbreaks.

Zerodium will pay out one million U.S. dollars ($1,000,000.00) to each individual or team who creates and submits to Zerodium an exclusive, browser-based, and untethered jailbreak for the latest Apple iOS 9 operating system and devices.

It says a lot about just how secure iOS is that these exploits are worth a million dollars. But I get the feeling that if any of these are cashed in, we’re not going to hear about them.

A Concise Summation of the Ad Block War 

Kontra nails it.

Pope Francis Visit to New York and Philadelphia Will Delay iPhone 6S Deliveries 

Joe Rossignol, writing for MacRumors:

UPS, a courier service that frequently delivers Apple pre-orders, has posted a temporary service notice on its website that states no pickups and deliveries will be available in the following ZIP code areas of NYC and Philadelphia between Thursday, September 24 and Saturday, September 26 due to security measures.

My wife figured this out right after we ordered our phones last week. I’m guessing we’ll get them next Monday. I’m not sure what would have happened if we’d ordered them for in-store pickup. So much of the city is getting shut down, I’m not sure the Apple Store will be able to get deliveries.

Seth Godin on Ad Blocking 

Seth Godin:

And advertisers have had fifteen years to show self restraint. They’ve had the chance to not secretly track people, set cookies for their own benefit, insert popunders and popovers and poparounds, and mostly, deliver us ads we actually want to see.

Alas, it was probably too much to ask. And so, in the face of a relentless race to the bottom, users are taking control, using a sledgehammer to block them all. It’s not easy to develop a white list, not easy to create an ad blocker that is smart enough to merely block the selfish and annoying ads. And so, just as the default for some advertisers is, “if it’s not against the law and it’s cheap, do it,” the new generation of ad blockers is starting from the place of, “delete all.”

MacUpdate’s Fall 2015 Bundle 

You’ve probably noticed that there’s a lot of talk about online advertising and sponsorships this week. I’ve been thinking about this my entire career — sustainable win-win-win advertising is the central tenet of Daring Fireball as a business. What I mean by “win-win-win” is that it is good for the sponsor (they get a response that makes the money they’ve paid worthwhile), good for me (financially and branding-wise — that these are all products and services I’m happy to promote to DF’s audience), and most importantly, good for you, the reader.

There are cynics in this debate who believe there is no such thing as “good advertising”. I beg to differ, and I can think of no better example than this week’s DF RSS feed sponsor, MacUpdate. They’ve been putting together great bundles of Mac software for years, and have been sponsoring DF’s RSS feed to promote them ever since April 2008. This week is the 11th time they’ve sponsored DF.

The benefits are obvious: MacUpdate gets their bundle promoted to an audience that cares about great apps; and you, the readers, get the opportunity to save a ton of money and score some great apps. (It seems to work out well for the developers, too — a lot of the participating developers have had apps in MacUpdate’s bundles before.)

With a value of over $550 and priced at just $49.99, their current bundle is another winner. With 10 of the best titles for the Mac, including ExpanDrive 5, DEVONthink, iMazing, and Toast 14, there’s something for everyone. Even if you just want one or two of these apps, it’s a good deal, and you get the rest of the bundle for free, effectively. The bundle only runs for another week, so don’t wait. The first 5,000 buyers will also receive Seasonality Core, a great weather app for the Mac. That’s 11 great Mac apps for only $49.99.

If you like great apps, saving money, and helping support one of the longest-running sponsors of Daring Fireball, go check it out.

Wired Gives Apple News Four-Day Exclusive on Feature Story 


This story is being previewed exclusively on Apple News until Tuesday, September 22nd. Please check this page again at that time.

To view this story in the Apple News app on your iOS 9 device, follow this link:

Interesting. I wonder what they’re getting from Apple for this? Cash? Is anyone else doing this? Update: Consensus is that no money was exchanged, and Wired did this purely for the promotional value.

You can’t even read this on a Mac until Tuesday, because Apple News is (for now) iOS-only.

Ad Blocking Irony 

Khoi Vinh:

I’ve been kind of neutral on all of the hubbub around Apple’s new ad blocking technology in iOS 9. But then just this morning I tried to read this New York Times article on my iPad — not just any article, but one that’s specifically about reactions to Apple’s introduction of ad blocking in iOS 9.

In maybe the sweetest bit of irony that ad blocking advocates could ever hope for, the article itself, as it was served to me, was so beset by a crippling ad position across the top of the page that I could not scroll it.

You can’t make this stuff up.

NYT: ‘Enabling of Ad Blocking in Apple’s iOS 9 Prompts Backlash’ 

Katie Benner and Sydney Ember, reporting for the NYT:

The potential toll of ad blocking has become particularly apparent over the last few days, when several website publishers got caught in the dragnet after Apple enabled ad-blocking apps. John Gruber, a technology blogger who publishes on his site Daring Fireball, posted on Twitter that “it’s wrong” if an ad blocker stops all types of ads.

“The ad network I’m a part of, The Deck, only serves ads that are fast to load and don’t track you,” Mr. Gruber said. “In my opinion, they’re good-looking ads for high-quality products and services. Why block that?”

If you want to block all advertising, I don’t understand you, but I won’t argue with you either. No one’s going to stop you. But most people just want to block garbage — privacy-invasive trackers, JavaScript that slows our devices and drains our batteries, obtrusive ads that cover the content we’re trying to read.

Are we fighting ads, or are we fighting garbage?

Begun the Ad-Blocking Wars Have 

Dave Mark:

With a content blocker enabled, I followed a link to a story on Here’s what I saw.

It didn’t take long for the whack-a-mole game to begin.

Popping the Publishing Bubble 

Ben Thompson:

This bifurcation in incentives has resulted in a plethora of ad networks: publishers collectively provide real estate in front of collated readers, while it is the responsibility of the ad networks to identify and track prospective customers on behalf of advertisers. Note, though, the orthogonality of this relationship: publishers and ad networks are working at cross-purposes.

The result is that ad networks don’t really care about the readers — which is a big reason Why Web Pages Suck — and on the flip-side publishers don’t really care about the advertisers, resulting in click fraud, pixel stuffing, ad stacking, and a whole host of questionable behavior that is at best on the edge of legality and absolutely not in the advertisers’ interest.

As with any other company or industry built on fundamentally misaligned incentives, this is unsustainable.

What we’re seeing this week was inevitable. A key observation on ad-blocking:

Notice that none of this depends on the adoption of ad-blockers. Indeed, ad blockers don’t really hurt advertisers that much anyways: an ad that is blocked is one that is not paid for, meaning the pain falls entirely on publishers. But, as I just noted, the truth is that advertising isn’t long for the majority of online publishing anyway.

I disagree with that last sentence. I just think online advertising as we know it — with the tracking, slow page loads, ads that cover the content, everything that could be fairly described as hostile to the reading/viewing/listening experience — isn’t going to work much longer.

Good advertising goes down easy.

Apple Watch Satisfaction 

Pogue’s aforelinked criticism of Apple Watch as being too complex made me think back to this months-ago piece from Ben Bajarin, regarding a customer satisfaction survey he helped Wristly conduct:

As I listened to 14 different people tell me about their Apple Watch, I observed a pattern. Those whose job it was to think about the Apple Watch or who were early adopters who thought deeply about tech and the tech products they buy, were all much more critical of the watch. You could tell they evaluated it and thought about it deeply from every angle by their responses. Then I talked with teachers, firefighters, insurance agents, and those not in the tech industry and not hard-core techies. These groups of people couldn’t stop raving about the Apple Watch and how much they loved the product. It was almost as if the farther away people were from tech or the tech industry, the more they liked the Apple Watch.

As we filtered the customer satisfaction answers by profile we saw something that fit this observation. While every profile ranked high in one of the two top satisfaction responses, it was the non-tech users who ranked the highest for “very satisfied/delighted” by the Apple Watch.

Whether it’s good or bad for Apple Watch in the long-term, I don’t know, but I think there’s something to this.

David Pogue: ‘A Humble Proposition: How to Fix the Apple Watch’ 

David Pogue makes the case that Apple Watch’s interaction model is too complicated, and proposes a redesign. It’s interesting in and of itself that Pogue would be making an argument that an Apple product is too complicated, and I think he makes several good points, many of which are in line with my analysis back in May. But at the outset, I think Pogue overreaches:

Here’s the central problem: Apple went overboard with input mechanisms.

How many ways are there to interact with the touchscreen of a phone or tablet? Four: tap, swipe, tap-and-hold, or pinch.

How about navigating your laptop? Four ways: Click, right-click, or slide on the trackpad, or use the keyboard.

But on the Apple Watch, there are eight ways to operate: Turn the crown (the knob on the side). Click the crown inward. Tap the side button. Hold in the side button. Tap the screen. Hard-press the screen. Swipe across the screen. Pinch the screen.

Describing the iPhone and iPad, he omits the home button, which can be clicked, double-clicked, clicked-and-held, and on Touch ID devices, touched — all of which do different things. And Android devices add more buttons: Back and whatever they call the button for switching.

A digital crown and one additional button are not too many inputs. If Apple watch suffers from being overly complex, the fault lies entirely in the interaction model. A good interaction model can allow for many forms of input without confusion; a bad model can seem confusing with just one form of input.

Apple’s ‘Move to iOS’ App Gets Blasted With 2700 1-Star Reviews by Angry Android Users 

Benjamin Mayo, writing at 9to5Mac:

Very few of the commenters seemed to have actually used the app to migrate data to an iPhone and are instead using the reviews section to vent their frustration at Apple in general. The reviews are dominated by Android users complaining about iPhone battery life, overpriced Apple Watches, ‘iSheep’ and more.

Here’s a selection of the reviews in the store.


The Talk Show: ‘If Only the Death Star Had That’ 

Just in time for your weekend listening pleasure, a new episode of my podcast, The Talk Show. Special guest Rene Ritchie returns to the show to discuss last week’s blockbuster Apple Event and the products that were announced: Apple Watch updates, the iPad Pro (and Smart Keyboard, and Apple Pencil), the all-new Apple TV, and the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus, and iOS 9.

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The Lost Apple Logos You’ve Never Seen 

Great 2012 post from TheBrainFever illustrating the evolution of Apple’s six-color classic logo. I’d never seen some of these before.

Masters of the Small Canvas 

Nice piece by John Pavlus for Businessweek on the role of icon (and now, emoji) design in the modern world.

Speaking of Lawsuits That Will Not Go Away 

Andrew Chung, reporting for Reuters:

A U.S. appeals court on Thursday said Apple should have been awarded an injunction barring Samsung from selling products that infringe its patents, handing Apple another victory in its ongoing smartphone fight with its biggest rival.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C. said the lower court abused its discretion when it denied Apple Inc an injunction after a jury ordered Samsung Electronics Co Ltd to pay $120 million in May, 2014 for infringing three of Apple’s patents.

The case involved Apple patents covering the iPhone’s slide-to-unlock, autocorrect and data detection features.

Apple Will Ask Supreme Court to Hear Its E-Book Price-Fixing Case 

Roger Parloff, reporting for Fortune:

Judge Cote’s ruling against Apple was upheld this past June, 2-1, by a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

At the time of the appellate loss, Apple’s press statement hinted that it might take this step: “While we want to put this behind us,” the company asserted at the time, “the case is about principles and values. We know we did nothing wrong back in 2010 and are assessing next steps.”

Whatever your stance on the case, know one thing: Apple really is standing on principle here. They truly believe they did nothing wrong, nothing illegal.

The G.O.P. Debate: Crowded, Bloated, Sour, and Trump 

Amy Davidson, writing for The New Yorker on last night’s Republican debate:

Trump’s core supporters may not mind his performance, even though, at times, he seemed to be insulting people just to stay awake, like a truck driver lighting another cigarette. He was missing what he would call his usual “braggadocious” verve. It’s going to be a strange and pot-holed road on the way to 2016.

More on Apple TV and the Web 

Manton Reece:

Apple TV’s success doesn’t change my argument. My Apple TV dev kit arrives on Friday, I’m going to build an app for it, and I can’t wait to watch Apple’s latest platform take off. When I wrote that the Apple TV “needs” the web I didn’t mean that it would be crippled and unsuccessful without it. I simply meant that the web should be there in some form, even if limited.

(It doesn’t even have to be Safari. There just needs to be enough web technologies to make some part of the open web possible. Again, that means web services, HTML, and links.)

In theory, sure, I agree. But in practice I don’t see how a good user experience could be crafted from that. I’ve never once seen a TV set-top box web browser experience that was anything other than terrible. I don’t think there are any politics at all in Apple’s decision not to expose WebKit to Apple TV apps in this SDK. I think it’s entirely about what makes for a good user experience. A good web browsing experience on Apple TV would be great. But better none at all than a crappy one. I know that’s not entirely Manton’s argument — his parenthetical quoted above makes that clear. But I don’t know what “some part of the open web” is without a browser.

Further, I’d argue that AirPlay is about as good as “the open web on your TV” is going to get. If it’s about sharing the experience on a big screen, that works. And it leaves the UI controls on the iOS or Mac device — far better than trying to navigate a web page using the remote control.

(There is a problem with my analogy yesterday, in which I compared the lack of a web browser on Apple TV and Apple Watch to the lack of a command-line on the original Mac. The difference is that the command-line-less Mac was intended to replace command-line-based computers. The GUI relegated the command-line interface to a permanent tiny niche. Apple TV and Apple Watch aren’t like that at all — they’re not meant to replace any device you already use to access the open web.)

Satya Nadella Uses iPhone in Onstage Demo 

Eugene Kim, writing for Business Insider:

During the keynote speech at Dreamforce Wednesday, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella was put in a situation where he had to use Apple’s iPhone to do a demo — a sight that would’ve been unimaginable just a few years back.

“I’m going to first start on this iPhone, and it’s not my phone, but it is an iPhone,” said Nadella, smiling, as he walked to the podium to show Microsoft’s email app Outlook on mobile.

“It’s a pretty unique iPhone. In fact, I’d like to call it the ‘iPhone Pro’ because it’s got all of the Microsoft software and applications on it,” he quipped, apparently referencing Apple’s introduction of the iPad Pro last week.

Steve Ballmer is rolling over in his iPhone coffin.

Manton Reece: ‘Every Device Needs the Web’ 

Manton Reece:

Apple has 4 major platforms now: iOS, tvOS, watchOS, and the Mac. It’s a dangerous precedent for 2 out of those 4 to not have access to the open web. Web services are only part of the story; HTML and the hyperlink are also both fundamental components of web access. A platform is too shut off from the rest of the world without them.

Not every platform needs the web. A watch certainly does not. The screen interface for a car doesn’t either. (That could be the third straight new platform Apple ships without a web browser.) TV seems in between. I think it’s ridiculous to think about a wrist-worn web browser. It’s not ridiculous to think about a TV web browser — but I don’t think the user experience would be good. It’s time to move on. “Every device needs the web” sounds like an updated version of “every device needs a command-line terminal”.

It could be that Apple plans to add WebKit to Apple TV in the future, but that they’re withholding it now simply to make it impossible for developers to create Apple TV apps that are merely thin web view wrappers — in the same way the original Macintosh, which shipped without any sort of command line, forced developers to write true native Mac apps.

Or it could be that Apple has decided never to open WebKit to developers on Apple TV. I’ve never seen a TV-connected device with a good interface for web browsing. Just leave it off, I say.

But either way, it won’t affect Apple TV’s success, and everything will be OK.

Subscription iPhones 

Benedict Evans on Apple’s new iPhone Upgrade Program:

So what happens to the old phones? When you take that upgrade, you have to hand in your old one. They go into the secondary market, which is rather the dark matter of the industry - we know it must be large and we can get some sense of that from survey data, but we don’t have a solid number. One illuminating data point is the fact that for the last several years the number of iPhones that seem to be in China (if you look at data from companies like Baidu) has been rather larger than the number of iPhones that Apple’s financial reporting implies could have been sold there. Second-hand closes some of the gap.

The reason the whole thing makes financial sense is that you have to give them back your old phone when you upgrade to the new one, and those old phones are worth a few hundred bucks.

Apple’s ‘Move to iOS’ App Hits Google Play Store 

So if Google made a similar “Move to Android” app, would Apple allow it in the App Store? They’d sure look like hypocrites if they didn’t — but App Store Guideline 3.1 states:

Apps or metadata that mentions the name of any other mobile platform will be rejected.

Rene Ritchie’s iOS 9 Review 

Rene Ritchie:

After the radical redesign of iOS 7, which gave us a cleaner, more flexible experience, and the functional revolution of iOS 8, which extended and continued that experience between apps and devices, iOS 9 takes a moment to solidify and round-out everything that’s come before, and start us towards everything that’s coming next.

This includes making Siri and Search broader and more proactive, expanding Apple Pay, rebuilding Notes, adding transit to Maps, launching a News app, enhancing the QuickType keyboard and bringing multi-app multitasking to the iPad, amping up performance, extending battery life, tightening up security and privacy, and making the update process much more efficient.

Absent the radical and the revolutionary, then, iOS 9 has to deliver on the promise not of more but of better. After the giant leaps, it has to stick the landing.

Book-length and comprehensive, in the spirit of Siracusa’s Mac OS X reviews.

Stephen Colbert’s Stealthy Humanism 

Megan Garber, writing for The Atlantic on Tim Cook’s appearance on Colbert last night:

Cook’s interview was, say what else you will about it, not fluff. It was funny, at points, but it was, more than anything else, serious. It had a distinct whiff of humanism in it — one that has been showing up in other Colbert interviews, as well. Which might indicate, just a little bit, what The Late Show is going to become as it settles into itself. Because when you hear a guest uttering the phrase “human rights” — multiple times! — on a late-night comedy show, that says as much about the show as it does about the guest.

‘Because of Apple’ 

Nilay Patel on Twitter:

Gotta say that @gruber sounds way too smug about the pain coming to small publishers like The Awl because of Apple.

Two points:

  • The coming reckoning for publishers is not “because of Apple”. It’s because of the choices the publishers themselves made, years ago, to allow themselves to become dependent on user-hostile ad networks that slow down the web, waste precious device battery life, and invade our privacy. Apple has simply enabled us, the users who are fed up with this crap, to do something about it. If aggressive content blocking were enabled out of the box, by default, I could see saying the result is “because of Apple”. But it’s not. What’s about to happen is thus because of us, the users.

  • Perhaps I am being smug. But I see the fact that Daring Fireball’s revenue streams should remain unaffected by Safari content-blocking as affirmation that my choices over the last decade have been correct: that I should put my readers’ interests first, and only publish the sort of ads and sponsorships that I myself would want to be served, even if that means leaving (significant) amounts of money on the table along the way. But I take no joy in the fact that a terrific publication like The Awl might be facing hard times. They’re smart; they will adapt.

Hide & Seek 

Hide & Seek is one of my aforementioned two favorite Safari content blockers:

With both Google and Microsoft, if you’re logged into one service, you’re logged into all of them. For example, if you use Gmail on the browser, you become automatically logged in when you use Google search. This means that Google can (and does) associate your search query with your Google account. To counter this, you can use Hide & Seek to hide your identity in Google search, while still staying logged into Gmail.

Before using Hide & Seek, you’ll have to decide which Google and Bing services you’d like to use logged out. Then, configure Hide & Seek to hide your identity in those services. After that, you can search as usual and your searches will be performed as a logged out user. You can simultaneously use other Google or Microsoft services (like Gmail or Outlook) in other tabs as a logged in user.

Note that Hide & Seek has nothing to do with “blocking ads”. It is simply about maintaining your privacy and anonymity while using Google and Bing for web search. In my testing, it works like a charm.

A List of Content Blockers for iOS 9 

Dave Mark is compiling a list.

WatchOS 2.0 Delayed, Will Not Ship Today 

Last night, writing about the expected release of iOS 9 today, I wrote: “iOS 9 probably ships tomorrow.” A few people questioned my use of probably, given that Apple had announced today as the ship date at last week’s event. Probably did read a little odd — in hindsight I would have written “is scheduled to ship tomorrow”.

But the thing is, I believe in Murphy’s Law, and in not counting unhatched chickens. And, lo, WatchOS 2.0, which was also scheduled to ship today, has been delayed. Here is the statement I received from an Apple spokesperson:

“We have discovered a bug in development of watchOS 2 that is taking a bit longer to fix than we expected. We will not release watchOS 2 today but will shortly.”

Tim Cook on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert 

If you want to skip ahead, Cook’s segment starts around the 27:00 mark. He and Colbert were both great. Unless I’m forgetting something, Steve Jobs never appeared on a live audience talk show.

Update: On the Mac, CBS’s video player requires Flash Player — it doesn’t even work with the Develop menu trick of changing your user agent to that of an iOS device. That’s absurd in 2015. It works fine on iOS, but if you’re stuck on a Mac, here’s a clip they released on YouTube where Cook talks about why he came out as gay.

CBS: get your shit together.

Welcome to the Block Party 

Casey Johnston has a interesting piece for The Awl on the reckoning that’s coming when ad-blocking goes mainstream with iOS 9:

The Awl’s publisher Michael Macher told me that “the percentage of the network’s revenue that is blockable by adblocking technology hovers around seventy-five to eighty-five percent.”

They better move fast. iOS 9 probably ships tomorrow.

Apple TV and On-Demand Resources (Or: Why Games Are Not Limited to 200 MB on Apple TV) 

Serenity Caldwell, writing at iMore:

Based on a screenshot from Apple’s developer guidelines, there are some folks up in arms about the new Apple TV’s 200 MB limit for app bundles (the app you download from the Apple TV’s App Store).

200 MB isn’t a whole lot of storage for game levels, offline content services, or anything really of the sort. The good news is, 200 MB is just the size limit for your initial App Store download. Once you open the app, you can download up to 2 GB more per app, with up to 20 GB of other resources available in the cloud. Apple lets developers do this by using On-Demand Resources, and here’s how it works.

Great explanation.

Everything but the Web 

Daniel Jalkut:

As Pasco acknowledges, we don’t know Apple’s real motivation for omitting web views from Apple TV. There may be technical challenges or performance shortcomings that contributed to the decision. But let’s assume for the sake of reasoning that it is purely political, that they want to discourage “web wrappers” and to promote a more native look and feel in TV apps. I propose that Apple could strike a compromise that would serve those ambitions while also supporting the tasteful handling of web content in apps. How? By forbidding network access to web content. Apps themselves could still access the network, but not from within their web views.

I don’t think that’s going to happen. Either WebKit isn’t there in tvOS 1.0 because (a) Apple doesn’t think it belongs on this platform, or (b) it just isn’t ready yet.

I think the answer is (a), and we’ll never see web content rendered on this platform. If the answer is (b), I think we’ll see a “full” WebKit eventually. I don’t think we’ll ever see Safari for Apple TV, but I could imagine WebKit for the “views and controls that are really just HTML/CSS” type stuff.

Apple TV: A World Without Webviews 

Daniel Pasco:

Webkit is the framework that Apple uses to allow developers to include webviews in their apps. UIWebview, a UIKit class, provides a simple way to do so. Both of these are missing from tvOS.

Even though the classes exist to fetch a page from a remote site, nothing else is really there — the content has to be parsed, the DOM has to be built, the actual HTML has to be rendered and styled, and any embedded Javascript has to be run. There’s no mechanism for doing any of these things or presenting the Web page to the users. […]

No matter what the motivation, there’s going to be a lot of work for people to do, particularly for companies that lean heavily on embedded Web content for their apps. Obviously this is going to be great for users, in terms of a consistent experience.

But the industry is going to be very, very busy for a while making the changes needed to support this new platform.

Apple Pencil vs. Wacom Cintiq 

Former Apple designer Linda Dong:

Quite plainly, the Cintiq sucks in comparison. And I’ve been using them for years for industrial design sketching, UI, and art. Let’s compare the experience.

Tim Cook Visits the Fifth Avenue Apple Store 

Nice piece by John Paczkowski for Buzzfeed:

Tim Cook is twisted sideways in the deep passenger-side backseat of a black Cadillac Escalade, rolling through Manhattan from the Flatiron district up to the company’s flagship Fifth Avenue Apple Store — where a great glass cube sits atop Apple’s subterranean retail center. Nobody at the store knows he’s coming. Not the manager. Not security. There’s no timetable for him to appear. And so for the 20 minutes or so it takes the car to wind through the late afternoon Manhattan traffic, I have him largely to myself.

Cook likes the secrecy. He does these store drop-ins periodically and has found that surprise visits are far better for everyone involved, himself included. The CEO of Apple visiting one of Apple’s many retail stores is de facto a big deal, particularly for store employees who’d likely agonize over preparations if they knew he was coming. So Cook keeps it quiet. “I almost always go in unannounced,” he says. “It’s rare that I tell anyone that I’m going. But I do try to go to stores every time I’m traveling to a new city. It’s important.”

Interesting, but not surprising, that Cook just pops in unannounced.

Cook will appear on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert tonight.

GameStop Stops Selling Digital Game Bundles for Xbox One and PlayStation 4 

Sam Mattera, writing for The Motley Fool:

The video game specialty retailer will no longer carry console bundles that offer digital copies of games. Buyers may still get their games, but only in the form of physical discs.

Since the Xbox One and PlayStation debuted nearly two years ago, Microsoft and Sony have periodically offered free games to entice console buyers. Most of these games have come in the form of digital download codes rather than discs. GameStop has sold many of these bundles, but will no longer do so going forward.

The desperation of a business based on obsolete technology. GameStop is where Blockbuster and mass-market record stores were a decade ago.

Status Board 2 

Saw this in action at Panic HQ over the weekend, while in Portland for XOXO (which was amazing, once again). Just beautiful.

Gee, I wonder if they’ll do a version for Apple TV.

‘Stop Pushing the Web Forward’ 

Peter-Paul Koch, back on July 28 (this one has been sitting in my to-link-to queue for a while):

I don’t think this is a particularly good place to push the web forward to. Native apps will always be much better at native than a browser. Instead, we should focus on the web’s strengths: simplicity, URLs and reach.

The innovation machine is running at full speed in the wrong direction. We need a break. We need an opportunity to learn to the features we already have responsibly — without tools! Also, we need the time for a fundamental conversation about where we want to push the web forward to. A year-long moratorium on new features would buy us that time.

I agree with Koch’s argument here, strongly, but I don’t think the solution is a one-year moratorium on new browser features. The solution is for the entire browser/web development community to get it through their heads that the web will never out-native actual native apps. The reason the web “won” in the late ’90s — where by “won” I mean became the dominant platform for software development — wasn’t because web apps were native-like. Quite the opposite: the web became dominant despite the fact that the apps were rather crude from a UI perspective.

“Simplicity, URLs, and reach” — those are exactly the things the web community should focus on. Native apps can’t out-web the web, and web apps should embrace that.

As a side note, I think this is more or less what is happening, whether the web community likes it or not, because this largely seems to describe Safari/WebKit’s approach to moving forward — and Safari, because of iOS in particular — effectively gives Apple veto power over new web technologies. Apple can’t stop Google from adding new features to Chrome/Blink, but Apple can keep any such features from being something web developers can rely upon as being widely available. That implicit veto power is what drove this summer’s “Safari is the New IE” drama.

Marco Arment’s Podcasting Microphones Mega-Review 

Marco Arment:

It’s hard to find useful microphone recommendations for podcasters: most people have only tried one or two, except pro audio engineers, who have very different needs and record in very different environments. And almost no reviews include audio samples to compare.

So I set out to change that. Some commonly recommended mics were disappointing, some were right on, and I’ve found some real gems that were previously unknown in my podcasting circles.

I bought his top-rated microphone, the Shure Beta 87A, a few weeks ago, and I’ve been very happy with the results.


Tareq Ismail:

The difference in screen size from the iPhone 3GS, the standard iPhone available at the time, to the original iPad is a factor of 2.7 times — which turns out to be the exact same factor between the iPhone 6/6s and the iPad Pro.

Update: I don’t think 2.7 is a magic scaling factor, I just think it’s funny how the numbers work out like this sometimes. The main thing is that the screen width of the Pro is about the same as the screen height of the “regular” size iPad Air. (And the Mini’s screen height is about the same as the width of the Air.)

Xcode 7 GM Suggests That the iPhones 6S Have 2 GB of RAM; iPad Pro 4 GB 

Developer Hamza Sood found a clever way to ascertain the RAM amounts from the Xcode 7 device simulator. In a separate tweet, he explains:

The image asset is chosen based on the memoryClass key in the simdevicetype’s capabilities.plist. 0 = < 1GB, 1 = 1GB, 2 = 2GB, 3 = 4GB.

Swiss Font Legend Adrian Frutiger Dies at 87 

Sad news from Switzerland:

The internationally renowned Bernese designer who created the famous Univers typeface passed away on September 12 in Bern at the age of 87.

He was one of the few typographers whose worked with hot metal, photographic and digital typesetting during his long career. Besides his well-known Univers family of sans serif typefaces, Frutiger designed over 50 other fonts like Roissy, Avenir, Centennial, Egyptienne, Glyphia, Seifa and Versailles. He was also the man behind OCR-B, the standard alphabet for optical character recognition.

What a remarkable career.

From Products to Platforms 

Ben Thompson, after Apple unveiled the iPad Pro last week:

Over the last several years both Microsoft and Adobe have altered their business models away from packaged software towards subscription pricing; while their users may have grumbled, they also had no choice given their dependence on the two software giants’ products. And, it’s that new model that justifies the expense of developing iPad apps and explains why it is Apple’s old nemeses who are doing by far the most interesting work on the iPad. Unfortunately, this isn’t a model that is readily replicable for the sort of development shops that Apple needs to invest significant time and resources in creating must-have iPad apps: what customer is going to sign up for a recurring payment for an app that doesn’t even have a service component and that the customer hasn’t even tried?

Why There’s No Sketch for the iPad 

Sketch is a well-done, very popular Mac tool for designers. It’s gained particular traction among UI designers.

Here’s one of Sketch’s developers, replying to a thread on Designer News from users hoping to see a version of Sketch for the iPad Pro:

We don’t have plans for an iPad pro version at the moment. Yes, it has a beautiful screen, but there’s more to consider, such as how to adapt the UI for touch without compromising the experience.

But the biggest problem is the platform. Apps on iOS sell for unsustainably low prices due to the lack of trials. We cannot port Sketch to the iPad if we have no reasonable expectation of earning back on our investment.

This, I think, is the single biggest problem holding back the iPad. Apple sees the App Store as a success because there are so many apps, and so many downloads. But the Mac has an established ecosystem that allows for sustainable pricing — including upgrade pricing — for professional tools. (Sketch for Mac costs $100.)

There are exceptions: pro software that sells for sustainable prices in the App Store. But they are exceptions, not the norms. The iPad is five years old and there just isn’t as much “pro” software for it as there should be. And I think it’s hurting the platform. In theory, developers like Bohemian Coding (the makers of Sketch) should be all over the iPad Pro. In reality, they’re staying away simply because they don’t think they’ll make enough money to justify the costs of development.

Apple Says It’s on Pace to Beat Last Year’s iPhone First-Weekend Record 

Apple statement:

Customer response to iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus has been extremely positive and preorders this weekend were very strong around the world. We are on pace to beat last year’s 10 million unit first-weekend record when the new iPhones go on sale Sept. 25.

As many customers noticed, the online demand for iPhone 6S Plus has been exceptionally strong and exceeded our own forecasts for the preorder period. We are working to catch up as quickly as we can, and we will have iPhone 6S Plus as well as iPhone 6S units available at Apple retail stores when they open next Friday.

So much for speculation that last year was peak iPhone.


My thanks to Igloo for once again sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Most intranets suck. Igloo doesn’t. Igloo lets your team or company put everything they need for collaboration — sharing news, organizing files, coordinating calendars, managing projects — in one place. Read receipts are a new feature that let you see whether essential people have seen important information. Simple and easy to use, just like the rest of Igloo.

Sound too good to be true? Sign up now and try Igloo yourself — completely free of charge for up to 10 team members.

‘In Three Years When Apple Copies This, You Cockwads Will Think It’s Genius’ 

Speaking of Apple’s new Smart Keyboard, this comic from three years ago proved remarkably prescient, timing-wise at least.

Hands-on With the iPad Pro’s Smart Keyboard 

Speaking of Jason Snell, here’s his take on the iPad Pro’s Smart Keyboard:

Would I want to write a novel on the Smart Keyboard or the iPad Pro’s touchscreen keyboard? No, I suppose I wouldn’t. But I’m pretty sure that I could absolutely do so with the Smart Keyboard–and I’d certainly benefit from having a physical keyboard with me all the time, not just when I had the time and inclination to tote along an external Bluetooth keyboard.

His first impressions match mine.

Jason Snell on Yesterday’s Announcements 

Great take from Jason Snell on yesterday. Here’s a bit from his notes on Apple TV:

Most exciting is unshackling developers who, even when granted access to the old Apple TV, were stuck fitting services into a very simple Apple TV interface template. Now that the Apple TV runs apps, that consistency is out the window. A few years ago I was blown away by the version of MLB At Bat for the PS3, but on Apple TV its interface was vanilla. On stage today, we saw the same kind of creativity in MLB at Bat for Apple TV that we saw on MLB at Bat for consoles ages ago. Other media companies — Netflix, Hulu, maybe even Amazon Instant Video — can create their own experiences in their own apps. I think it’s great news.

I agree with Apple that the future of TV is apps. But I think some people could misunderstand that. It’s not about the fact that there will be lots of apps (but there will be lots of apps). It’s about the fact that there are apps at all.

On the current Apple TV, some people call the current root-level offerings “apps”. But they’re not really apps. You could just as easily call them “channels”. They’re just different ways to get video streaming onto your screen.

Go back and look at the MLB At Bat demo from yesterday’s keynote. That’s an app.

A Well-Earned ‘Finally’ 

I know yesterday’s keynote was jam-packed, but this news would’ve made for a great slide.

Logitech Create: The First Third-Party Keyboard for iPad Pro 


Today Logitech announced the Logitech Create Keyboard Case for iPad Pro, developed closely with Apple to leverage the new Smart Connector. As a result, Logitech will bring to market the first ever third-party keyboard compatible with the iPad Pro Smart Connector, eliminating the need to power on, set up or charge the keyboard — it is always ready when you are. […]

The Logitech Create Keyboard Case for iPad Pro will be available in the U.S., and select countries in Europe and Asia at the same time the iPad Pro is available for purchase. Additional product information and pricing will be available on and our blog in the coming weeks.

Yet another sign of “new” Apple: working with a third-party company like Logitech in advance of a major new product introduction.

Adobe Survey: 62 Percent of Streaming Video Is Watched on an Apple Device 

Philip Elmer-DeWitt:

The chart below is based on Adobe’s analysis of 1.49 billion TV Everywhere authentifications in Q1 and Q2 2015. Between the iPad, iPhone, Mac, Apple TV and iPod Touch, Apple captured 61.9% of these viewers.

Windows PCs are in second at 18 percent; Android third at 9 percent.

And Apple hasn’t even launched its streaming video service yet.

From the DF Archive: ‘If You See That “If You See a Stylus, They Blew It” Quote, They Blew It’ 

I was wrong about one thing on this post from January: It’s come up way more than a thousand times already.

Last-Minute Predictions (Or: Pretty Sure I Was Wrong) 

Lot of little birdies out tonight in San Francisco. The consensus is that there’s only going to be one Apple event this fall, and it’s tomorrow. So if there’s an iPad Pro, it’s coming tomorrow, no matter how much or how little sense that makes.

TechCrunch: ‘Periscope Is Secretly Building an Apple TV App’ 

Two thoughts:

  1. This sort of thing could be what’s been missing from all previous living room boxes — a way for a company that’s hustling, like Periscope, to bring something new to the game. Simply put: what the App Store did for phones, maybe it can do for the living room.

  2. There’s a bit of irony here, given that Periscope has helped popularize vertical (portrait) video, and most people I know keep their TVs in landscape.

The Stupid, It Runs Deep 

The Macalope takes a look at a Fortune piece headlined “Why Android Wear Will Give the Apple Watch a Run for Its Money”.

iPhone users won’t be able to download third-party apps either, though this should be less of a dealbreaker.

Sure, who likes downloading apps? Practically nobody. Most of those “billions of apps downloaded” numbers Apple likes to report come from one guy in Duluth, Minnesota.

This guy has it completely backwards. The tight integration required between today’s smartwatches and their tethered phones means that anything other than a first-party solution is going to be rough going. Apple Watch only works with iPhone, and iOS is tied down such that no other smartwatch is going to offer a competitive experience for iPhone users.

Like I wrote two weeks ago, this is why I think the stakes are higher for Apple with the new Apple TV this year than they were for Apple Watch last year. Set-top boxes aren’t integrated with your phone. An iPhone user can freely choose a Roku or Fire TV or Chromecast and have a great experience. Apple TV has to be excellent, on its own, for it to succeed.

There’s Nothing Like an Impending Apple Event to Bring the Jackasses Out of the Woodwork 

Matt Krantz, writing for USA Today under the headline “Apple’s Latest iPhone 6S Is Already a Bore”:

Other new products including the iPad, Apple Watch and Apple Music have failed to meaningfully diversify the company’s offerings — especially profitability.

Is the iPad iPhone-like in profitability? No — but nothing else on the planet is, either. I think most companies, including Apple, would love to add a new product with iPad-sized profits their offerings.

Apple Watch has been on the market for a grand total of four months, and has yet to see its first holiday quarter. Apple Music launched two months ago and every single person using it is still within the three month trial period. Where do they find people like this guy?

‘But by Being Hit You Become Bigger, and That Makes You Feel Really Happy.’ 

So great: Shigeru Miyamoto explains the design of level 1-1 in Super Mario Bros.

Gizmodo: ‘The Real Reason Netflix Won’t Offer Offline Downloads’ 

Gerald Lynch, writing for Gizmodo:

Netflix however remains firm in its stance that it’s not going to offer offline downloads through its mobile applications, even in the face of competition from its rival. But why?

According to Neil Hunt, Netflix’s Chief Product Officer, Netflix users won’t be able to handle the complexity the added choice will bring.

“I still don’t think it’s a very compelling proposition,” said Hunt, speaking to Gizmodo UK at the IFA tradeshow in Berlin.

“I think it’s something that lots of people ask for. We’ll see if it’s something lots of people will use. Undoubtedly it adds considerable complexity to your life with Amazon Prime — you have to remember that you want to download this thing. It’s not going to be instant, you have to have the right storage on your device, you have to manage it, and I’m just not sure people are actually that compelled to do that, and that it’s worth providing that level of complexity.”

This amused me greatly, as I read it while flying across the continent. Without even standing up, I see at least four passengers watching movies they’d downloaded to their iPads and MacBooks. Air travel alone is a compelling use case for offline video, but I think cellular data caps are an important factor too.

Complexity isn’t the reason why Netflix doesn’t allow offline viewing. It’s just their excuse for not having it yet. It’s right out of the Steve Jobs handbook: something you don’t offer is a terrible idea, until you offer it yourself, at which point you explain why your solution is the first to get it right.

‘An Action Movie Driven Almost Exclusively by Words’ 

Pete Hammond, writing for Deadline after the Telluride premiere of Steve Jobs:

Boyle said the script is 200 pages and it is densely filled with the kind of dialogue only Sorkin seems to specialize in these days. It’s actually thrilling to listen to, an action movie driven almost exclusively by words, a rare thing for sure in today’s visually driven cinema. Boyle told me at the 221 South Oak dinner after-party that it was unlike anything he had ever done before, and a bear to edit due to Sorkin’s precise style of writing. His direction is flawless and really keeps this thing moving, avoiding the static pace it might have been in lesser hands. The result is well worth it, and those magical words provided lots of opportunity for great acting performances led by Michael Fassbender’s spot-on and relentless portrayal of the not-very-likable computer genius.

Sounds so great.

How to Set the Size of Finder Windows, and Other Tips 

Christopher Phin:

To have Finder windows in OS X open at a consistent size and location, open a new Finder window, resize it to how you want, then, and this is the important bit, close it again before you do anything else. Just open the window, resize and reposition it, then close it. Don’t click icons inside it. Now, subsequent new windows will be at the same size and position.

Vintage 2012 Henry Blodget Claim Chowder 

Henry Blodget, three years ago:

Over the past few days, the latest round of purported pictures of Apple’s forthcoming iPhone 5 have hit the web. And I can’t be the only potential customer who is deflated by what they see.

In fact, I’ll go far enough to say that, if the iPhone 5 looks like the pictures that have recently appeared, Apple may be screwed.

Why? Because the “iPhone 5” looks pretty much like the iPhone 4S. Which looked exactly like the iPhone 4, a phone that is now two years old.

Those pictures looked exactly like what the iPhone 5 turned out to be. Good call, Henry.

NYT: ‘New Apple TV Is Said to Focus on Games, Challenging Traditional Consoles’ 

Nick Wingfield, writing for the NYT:

Could a new Apple device — one linked to the television — shake up the market for game consoles?

The idea no longer seems ridiculous to many people in the games business.

Apple is expected to make games a primary selling point of its new Apple TV product, which is scheduled to be announced on Wednesday in San Francisco, according to people briefed on Apple’s plans who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The Talk Show: ‘A Full Canseco’ 

For your listening pleasure in the days leading up to Wednesday’s Apple event in San Francisco, a new episode of my podcast, The Talk Show, with special guest John Moltz. Topics include Google’s new logo, new iPhones, Apple TV, round-vs.-square watches, and more.

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For Meetings 

My thanks to For Meetings for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. For Meetings is, well, an iPad app for use in meetings: recording meeting notes, agenda items, actions, attendees, and more. It’s an unusual name, but after thinking about it, it’s kind of genius in its aptness.1 If you read about For Meetings here in this post on DF today, but then try to remember the name of it a few weeks from now when you find the need for it, you will recall it just by asking yourself “What was that iPad app for meetings?”

Creating and publishing official “meeting minutes” seems like a total pain-in-the-ass, and For Meetings is entirely focused on reducing the friction and drudgery involved. It makes great use of the iPad’s larger screen — it’s the sort of app and use case that the purported upcoming iPad Pro is targeting. This is about using an iPad as a serious business tool. Structure content using bullet points and numbered lists. Visualize attendees, apologies, and absentees. Use tags to organize your meetings.

Find out more (and watch a demo video) at their website, or download it — for free — from the App Store.

  1. They style the app’s name “for Meetings”, with a lowercase leading “f”. DF house style is to title case all proper names, with a handful of exceptions for prefixes like Apple’s iNames↩︎

Temple Beats Penn State for First Time in 74 Years 

This is the best thing to happen to college football in Philadelphia in my lifetime:

After 39 games of coming up empty against the state’s predominant football program, the Temple Owls came up with the signature victory they’ve been seeking since returning to “big-time” football in 1970.

Led by quarterback P.J. Walker and a swarming defense that totally befuddled Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg, the Owls upset the Nittany Lions, 27-10, in the season opener for both teams before a record crowd of 69,176 at Lincoln Financial Field. It was Temple’s first win against Penn State since 1941.

Great little Safari extension from Canisbos:

This extension circumvents certain techniques used by Google and Facebook to track link clicks.

When you click a link in Google search results, Google uses JavaScript to replace the actual link with an indirect one, which they use for click tracking. Google then redirects the browser to the actual destination after logging the click. DirectLinks disables the JavaScript that replaces real links with indirect ones, so that when you click a search result link, Safari goes straight to the destination.

If you’ve ever tried dragging-and-dropping a URL from Google search results and getting a Google redirection URL instead of the actual URL you wanted (and Google’s JavaScript will show the actual URL in the status field if you hover over the link, so it’s impossible to tell that’s what’s going to happen), this extension is for you. There are obvious privacy benefits as well.

[Update, 16 Nov 2020: Canisbos’s entire website is now defunct, so this link now redirects to The Internet Archive’s cached version. The extension doesn’t work any more, either, of course. So it goes.]

Boston Red Sox Fire Beloved Play-by-Play Announcer, Then Ask Him to Tweet That He Wasn’t Fired 

Joe Rodgers, writing for The Sporting News:

The Red Sox, who have angered fans with their decision to dismiss beloved play-by-play announcer Don Orsillo after this season, reportedly tried to defuse the backlash by asking Orsillo to lie about the reason behind his departure.

According to Boston radio station WEEI, NESN requested Orsillo tweet that the decision to part ways with the network was mutual, when in fact the network dumped him for Dave O’Brien in order to “re-energize” the team’s television’s broadcasts. Orsillo declined.

Orsillo, who has been the network’s play-by-play voice for Red Sox baseball since 2001, has the support of more than 58,000 fans who have signed an online petition to keep him in the broadcast booth.

This is really a bizarre story. I’m a Yankees fan, so I don’t watch many Red Sox telecasts, but I’ve watched a few over the years (via my MLB At Bat subscription) when the Sox were playing important games down the stretch. Orsillo is a great announcer — it’s no surprise that fans are upset.

Here’s a tip to the Red Sox organization: a better way to “re-energize” the team’s telecasts would be to field a team that isn’t in last place.

Jonathan Kim on Alex Gibney’s ‘Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine’ 

Jonathan Kim calls it “an Apple-hater’s manifesto”:

Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple and the man credited with bringing both personal computers and advanced mobile electronics to the masses, died on October 5, 2011. But the battle to define both the man and his legacy is being waged right now in the form of several books and high-profile films, the latest of which is the documentary Steve Jobs: The Man In the Machine, from Oscar-winning director Alex Gibney, a man I’ve interviewed in the past and whose work I greatly respect.

That’s why it really bums me out that The Man In the Machine makes little attempt to portray someone who was, by most accounts, a complex, iconic, but all-too-flawed man who, over the course of his career, could be both inventor and thief, monk and businessman, brat and sage, tyrant and beloved leader, and managed to use those conflicting traits to both change the world and create the most valuable, influential, and admired company on the planet. Instead, The Man In the Machine is focused largely on the thesis that Jobs was always and only a jerk, that people who enjoy Apple products and admire Jobs are idiots and cult members, and that the computer revolution that was born of Jobs’ vision must inevitably contain the same ugly darkness Gibney feels is Jobs’ defining trait, despite any evidence to the contrary.

Sounds like the film equivalent of Yukari Iwatani Kane’s book Haunted Empire — an attempt to fit the facts to a preconceived narrative, rather than craft a narrative from the actual facts.

Two Kinds of People 

Beautiful, clever blog by João Rocha. From the about page: “There are only 2 kinds of people in this world, those that find this blog hilarious and those that have no sense of humor whatsoever.”

How to Get a New Finder Window the Size You Want 

Glenn Fleishman, writing last month for Macworld:

In Yosemite, I tested one suggestion after I was unable to set a window’s default opening behavior. I created a model window, closed it, and then closed all windows (Command-Option-W, Option plus close button, or hold down Option while selecting File and choose Close All Windows). Then I held down Option and right-clicked the Finder icon in the Dock and selected Relaunch.

Voila! After that point, whenever I resized a Finder window, all subsequent windows would open in the same dimensions, offset slightly in location, including the width of the sidebar. I tried this in the current public El Capitan beta, but had zero luck. Perhaps it will be fixed by release.

It’s a little depressing that all these years later, the OS X Finder is still so bafflingly flaky at stuff like remembering windows sizes and positions.

Apple and the TV Market 

Well-researched, insightful piece by Pavan Rajam:

There is clearly a viable market for streaming media players like Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV. However, the bigger opportunity is breaking into the market for Pay TV set top boxes, which today are less compelling products but retain access to the content consumers want. The only way any tech company will be able to pull that off is by having a TV Service to accompany their hardware. Of the companies with streaming media products on the market, only one is rumored to be working on such a service.

Unlike its competitors, Apple is playing the long game in the TV market. Apple TV’s long term goal is not about beating Amazon, Google, or Roku in the streaming media player market, it’s about redefining the TV market by building a true smart TV platform.

‘Death to Bullshit’ 

Brad Frost:

We’re bombarded by more information than ever before. With the rise of all this information comes a rise of the amount of bullshit we’re exposed to. Death to Bullshit is a rallying cry to rid the world of bullshit and demand experiences that respect people and their time.

There’s a blog listing examples of bullshit. (I would argue that there’s a wee bit of bullshit on the no-bullshit version of the blog: all of the links are Tumblr redirects, so you can’t see the URLs where they lead. It almost feels wrong to complain about that, because I am so totally on board with the fight against bullshit, but I really do think URL redirects — particularly ones that completely obscure the destination — are bullshit.)

Who Is NetNewsWire 4? 


Because the answer to “who is NetNewsWire for?” used to be “people who want to use an RSS reader that’s stable, full featured, regularly updated and fast to use”. And that’s not the case any longer. For example, NetNewsWire 4.1 could just be the reimplementation of the back/forward buttons for article item selection, such that if I went to an item and then went to another item and since the first one now was marked as read, I have to hunt to find my way back to it, I could just press the back button, and I would happily buy two extra licenses just for giving me some of the sophistication back.

“Who is this for?” is an essential question when you’re designing any app.

RSS Readers 

Dan Moren, writing about NetNewsWire 4 at Six Colors:

Of course, the real question is whether an RSS reader is still software that people get worked up about. With the demise of longtime RSS staple Google Reader and the incursion of social networks and alternative news reading apps like Flipboard, Nuzzel, and soon Apple News, an RSS reader seems decidedly last decade. It’s a challenging environment into which to drop a new product — even one with as respected a brand as NetNewsWire.

RSS readers exploded in popularity a decade ago, and Dan is right that their use has died down dramatically. But I think “RSS is dead” is the new “email is dead”. And I know from my server stats that an awful lot of people still read Daring Fireball in an RSS reader — many of them using NetNewsWire. For me, as a news junkie, an RSS reader is something to get worked up about.

Brent Simmons:

There are plenty of software categories that are hot when they’re new, and then they settle down. RSS as a format remains huge (ask your local podcaster) — and RSS readers have become a type of productivity software that some people like and some people don’t. Simple as that.

NetNewsWire 4.0 

Black Pixel has finally shipped NetNewsWire 4.0 for Mac — and an all-new iOS app, and a new sync service. The apps are solid, and so far the syncing is working flawlessly and quickly for me.

But, I have some concerns. First, I think the prices are too low: $10 for the Mac app; $4 for the iPhone app; and the syncing service is free. I don’t see how that’s sustainable.

Second, Black Pixel has simplified so much, they’ve removed a lot of what made NetNewsWire NetNewsWire. Let Apple News and Flipboard be the simple news readers — I think the opportunity in today’s world for a non-free Mac RSS reader is at the high-end.

Michael Tsai:

It still has the “lite” feature set, nothing like my beloved NetNewsWire 3. There are no smart folders. There’s no meaningful AppleScript support. It doesn’t support the system share menu.

One can argue that most people don’t use smart folders, and few people script apps with AppleScript — but that’s exactly why there’s an opportunity for a paid app that does support such things. This is why BBEdit has so many esoteric features. This is why apps from Omni and Panic have esoteric features, and in Omni’s case lots of customization options.

Peter Kafka: Apple Discussed Podcast Deal With Bill Simmons 

Peter Kafka, writing for Recode:

And more recently, Apple showed interest in signing up former ESPN star Bill Simmons to an exclusive audio podcast deal. Apple media boss Eddy Cue discussed the idea a couple of times with Simmons this summer, say people familiar with the talks, who say that they were preliminary at best.

In July, Simmons ended up signing a “major exclusive multi-year, multi-platform agreement” with HBO; an HBO rep says that deal includes a podcast that should debut in October. It’s reasonable to assume that those podcasts will be available on Apple’s iTunes platform, as well as other outlets.

Interesting idea, but I wonder how the exclusivity would have worked? Would listeners have to use Apple’s Podcast app? Would they use DRM on the audio? If they didn’t, what would keep people from listening to the show using non-Apple devices? Podcasts have always been like websites — something anyone can consume using any app on any device. The complete opposite of “exclusive”.

SiriusXM has exclusive audio shows (most famously, Howard Stern), but to listen to them on your phone, you have to use their app, and their app is absolutely terrible. Update: Maybe that’s what Apple was thinking with Simmons — it wouldn’t be a “podcast” really, but a show you can listen to on Apple Music?

A Ruling for Tom Brady Ignores the Biggest Question 

William C. Rhoden, writing for the NYT:

The ruling clearly is a victory for the New England Patriots, for Brady, for the N.F.L. Players Association and for critics who argue Goodell has too often acted arbitrarily and hypocritically and even hamhandedly in administering discipline. But the decision did not address — because it was not asked to — the more important issue of sportsmanship that was at the heart of the suspension, and of what Brady knew about a supposed plan to deflate the footballs he used in last seasons A.F.C. championship game.

What a weird saga this whole deflate-gate thing is. Feels more like a storyline from pro wrestling than from a real sport.

Samsung’s Tizen-Based Gear S2 

Dan Seifert, writing for The Verge after some hands-on time with Samsung’s upcoming new watch:

The impressive things with the Gear S2 don’t end with its new design: Samsung’s actually figured out a really smart interaction model for smartwatches that I’m shocked no one else has done yet. There’s the touchscreen, yes, just like most other smartwatches, and the Gear S2 has a couple buttons on its side for home and back. But its real trick is in the rotating bezel, which lets you quickly and easily scroll through lists, apps, watch faces, and whatever else you might be looking at on the screen. It’s more predictable and intuitive than the Apple Watch’s Digital Crown and is a joy to use.

It does seem clever, and it’s a design that embraces the circular watch face.

The S2’s screen is colorful, sharp, and bright, and looked great in the few minutes I got to spend with the watch. It has an always on ambient mode — like many Android Wear watches — that makes it easy to quickly check the time. But this isn’t an Android Wear watch: it’s running Samsung’s proprietary Tizen platform. In the past, that was a huge red warning flag, but Samsung’s cleaned up its act, and the software on the Gear S2 is fast and intuitive. There are lots of different watch faces to choose from, including new “dynamic” faces that can update with various bits of information, and you can see all of your phone’s notifications and reply to incoming messages with canned responses, emoji, or text dictated by voice.

Some quick thoughts:

  • Using Tizen is huge. It separates Samsung from everyone using Android Wear, and gives them what Apple has: complete control over everything. I’d still bet against them switching to Tizen on the phones — even if they can pull it off technically, it’d be so hard for them to get iOS/Android levels of third-party developer support.

  • They’ve gotten the size down to something reasonable. I still think these look like men’s watches though, both because of their size and their design cues.

  • From what I’ve seen in the videos and photos, it looks like Samsung is using black backgrounds for most of the UI, like Apple Watch does. Android Wear’s use of white and primary-colored backgrounds just doesn’t look good on a watch.

Variety: Apple Exploring Original Programming 

Andrew Wallenstein, writing for Variety:

The moment the media and technology industries have been expecting for years may finally be arriving: Apple is exploring getting into the original programming business.

Sources indicate the Cupertino, Calif., colossus has held preliminary conversations in recent weeks with executives in Hollywood to suss out their interest in spearheading efforts to produce entertainment content. The unit putting out the feelers reports into Eddy Cue, who is Apple’s point man on all content-related matters, from its negotiations with programmers for Apple TV to its recent faceoff with Taylor Swift.

On the one hand, everyone else is doing it, so why not Apple? On the other hand, Apple makes devices where Netflix and HBO provide content/apps. If Apple starts competing against Netflix and HBO in content production, do they risk spoiling those partnerships?

Here’s a what-if: What if Apple had bought Pixar instead of Disney?

Alliance for Open Media 

Frederic Lardinois, reporting for TechCrunch:

Amazon, Cisco, Google, Intel, Microsoft, Mozilla and Netflix today announced that they have formed a new open source alliance — the Alliance for Open Media — with the goal of developing the next generation of royalty-free video formats, codecs and other related technologies.

It’s not often we see these rival companies come together to build a new technology together, but the members argue that this kind of alliance is necessary to create a new interoperable video standard that will work across vendors and platforms. While it goes unmentioned in the announcement, it’s also clear that none of the members involved in this alliance want to have to pay royalties to the likes of MPEG LA.

There seems to be a conspicuous absence from the list of companies involved.

Mark Gurman on Apple TV 4 Hardware 

Mark Gurman, writing at 9to5Mac:

The current Apple TV design, first released in late 2010, has 8GB of internal storage for caching media, and the fourth-generation boxes in testing surprisingly range from 8 GB to 16 GB of storage. We are told that Apple has considered two pricing strategies: the simultaneous release of a $149 base model with 8 GB of storage alongside a $199 16 GB model, or the release of the 16 GB Apple TV alone at $149. In either case, Apple will offer a $149 Apple TV.

While the new Apple TV will include an App Store for deep support for gaming, sources say that the limited storage offered by 8 GB and 16 GB flash memory is appropriate for the new model, as all content outside of applications will be streamed directly from the Internet.

It seems silly to have two pricing tiers separated only by 8 GB of storage. Seems a lot simpler to just go with one model with 16 GB of storage and be done with it. Keep it simple.

Curious too what Apple is going to do with the existing Apple TV? If the new model is as much improved as we’re all speculating — with a better controller and an actual App Store — I would think Apple would replace the current Apple TV with the new one. But the current model costs only $69. If they replace it in the lineup, and if Gurman is right about the new model starting at $149, it would mean the price of Apple TV would more than double. Even if you disregard the price drop from back in March, the price would still be going from $99 to $149. I can’t recall that ever happening before. But, it really does sound like the new Apple TV will be an unprecedented upgrade.

And for as much as we think we know about the new Apple TV, Apple has successfully kept a lot of it under wraps. We have a basic description of the remote control, but we don’t know how you’re going to move around the UI, or what the software interface actually looks like. I’m pretty excited about that.

The William T. Sherman of Crazy 

Josh Marshall:

But the speed issue is an entirely separate advantage, one Trump is dominating first because he’s been playing this game for decades but especially because he’s adept at social media and is palpably going by gut and operating on his own without the complex messaging operations that cling on to every other candidate. News organizations and media figures can always move faster than candidates because they have to hold press conferences and prep for them or send out press releases which by definition need to go through the media itself. Twitter has the added advantage of allowing him to flick the news cycle without showing his face or getting questions in response. But the whole picture brings home just how much the modern campaign is built around risk aversion, protecting the candidate from him or herself.

When you see tweets like these you are absolutely certain Donald Trump wrote them himself. It’s definitely him, as clear as a tweet from Chuck Grassley could only possibly be from the senator himself.

The same thought has struck me regarding Trump’s tweets. They’re so in his voice — it couldn’t be more clear that he writes them himself, just winging them from his phone. (It looks like they’re all sent from Twitter for Android.)


Today we’re introducing a new logo and identity family that reflects this reality and shows you when the Google magic is working for you, even on the tiniest screens.

Their old logo was goofy. This new one is simply garbage. Just right for a company with no taste.