Android N’s Name: Nougat ★
I think the “Submit your suggestion for the name” contest announced at I/O was total bullshit. My bet is that they were still negotiating with Nutella, it didn’t work out, and so now they’re stuck with “Nougat”, which is a shitty name.
Apple Gets Patent to Disable iPhone Cameras at Concerts ★
Collin Robinson, writing at Stereogum:
So that might be OK… assuming the technology is only used at
concerts and doesn’t extend to, like, disabling phone cameras
during instances of police brutality and/or
I hope this is one patent Apple puts in the drawer and never, ever implements.
It really doesn’t make any sense to me for Apple to implement this. It would only block iPhone cameras, not Android cameras. It would be worth worrying about if Apple had a monopoly, but they don’t. This must be a patent anything you can get a patent for patent.
WSJ: Apple in Talks to Acquire Jay Z’s Tidal Music Service ★
Speaking of Apple and streaming music rivals:
Apple is in exploratory talks to acquire streaming-music service
Tidal, headed by rap mogul Jay Z, according to people familiar
with the matter.
The talks are ongoing and may not result in a deal, these people
said. Apple is exploring the idea of bringing on Tidal to bolster
its Apple Music service because of Tidal’s strong ties to popular
artists such as Kanye West and Madonna.
Doesn’t really make any sense to me why Apple would do this, but I felt the same way about the Beats acquisition.
Spotify Bitches About the App Store ★
Speaking of Peter Kafka, here’s his report on Spotify’s complaint over Apple’s App Store policies:
In a letter sent this week to Apple’s top lawyer, Spotify says
Apple is “causing grave harm to Spotify and its customers” by
rejecting an update to Spotify’s iOS app.
The letter says Apple turned down a new version of the app while
citing “business model rules” and demanded that Spotify use
Apple’s billing system if “Spotify wants to use the app to acquire
new customers and sell subscriptions.” […]
“This latest episode raises serious concerns under both U.S. and
EU competition law,” Gutierrez wrote. “It continues a troubling
pattern of behavior by Apple to exclude and diminish the
competitiveness of Spotify on iOS and as a rival to Apple Music,
particularly when seen against the backdrop of Apple’s previous
anticompetitive conduct aimed at Spotify … we cannot stand by as
Apple uses the App Store approval process as a weapon to harm
Cry me a river. Spotify has long charged $12.99 via in-app subscriptions to get around the 30 percent “App Store tax”. And Apple has now cut the long-term subscription split from 70-30 to 85-15. And Spotify is the streaming service most at war with artists over their abysmal royalty rates.
Read between the lines and the real message here is that Apple Music is kicking Spotify’s ass.
In Senate, BlackBerry Era Officially Over ★
The reign of the Blackberry lasted a good decade or more in
Congress, early on due to the advanced nature of the devices and
obsession with email checking. Even when the iPhone and Androids
came about, the Blackberry still kept the throne for awhile
because typing on those tiny little keys was faster, a mastered
skill with which the iPhone could not compete. (This being
government, they were slow to adopt other devices and Bring Your
Own Device policies.)
Facebook Is Shutting Down Paper ★
Casey Newton, The Verge:
Facebook is shutting down Paper, a bold reimagining of the company’s flagship app for iOS that impressed critics but failed to attract a large audience, the company said today. The app transformed the core Facebook experience into a kind of newsreader, with customizable sections for politics, technology, food, and other subjects. Visitors to the app received a message saying the app would no longer function after July 29th.
Probably the most beautiful app I’ve ever seen. Wasted on Facebook.
Yours Truly on Peter Kafka’s ‘Recode Media’ ★
I’m the guest on Peter Kafka’s podcast this week, talking about the history and business of Daring Fireball. I really enjoyed it.
Facebook’s Unsettling Referendum on News ★
Charlie Warzel, writing for BuzzFeed:
This morning, Facebook VP of product management Adam Mosseri
announced that the social network is tweaking its News Feed
algorithm to show more stories from friends and family members —
a move that indicates Facebook is worried professional publishers
are crowding out the normal people in your life you care about.
The decision, according to the post, is based on “research,” which
is a way to say that Facebook has been listening to the myriad
signals of the real people who use its platform each day.
Facebook doesn’t really care about the news industry. The idea that Facebook was going to “save” the news industry, or even that Facebook traffic is something that news organizations should bank on for the future, is just goofy. Facebook’s first goal is to keep users using Facebook — as many users as possible for as much time as possible. If videos of cats walking around on two legs are more popular than analyses of the United Kingdom’s vote to leave the EU, well, that’s what they’re going to prioritize. Secondarily, Facebook’s goal is to monetize the aggregate attention from priority one. That’s it. So, going forward, news organizations are going to have to pay more for worse placement in Facebook news feeds.
You can call this unsettling if you want. I’d call it unsurprising.
Elizabeth Warren Says Apple, Amazon and Google Are Trying to ‘Lock Out’ the Competition ★
Peter Kafka, reporting for Recode:
Warren had different beefs with Google, Apple and Amazon, but the
common thread was that she accused each one of using its powerful
platforms to “lock out smaller guys and newer guys,” including
some that compete with Google, Apple and Amazon.
Google, she said, uses “its dominant search engine to harm rivals
of its Google Plus user review feature;” Apple “has placed
conditions on its rivals that make it difficult for them to offer
competitive streaming services” that compete with Apple Music; and
Amazon “uses its position as the dominant bookseller to steer
consumers to books published by Amazon to the detriment of other
Shockingly, Spotify agreed:
But Spotify, which has complained about the fee Apple charges
music services — and other services — that sign up subscribers
using its iOS platform, was happy to comment. Here’s Jonathan
Prince, who runs communications and public policy for the
streaming music company:
“Apple has long used its control of iOS to squash competition in
music, driving up the prices of its competitors, inappropriately
forbidding us from telling our customers about lower prices, and
giving itself unfair advantages across its platform through
everything from the lock screen to Siri. You know there’s
something wrong when Apple makes more off a Spotify subscription
than it does off an Apple Music subscription and doesn’t share any
of that with the music industry. They want to have their cake and
eat everyone else’s too.”
A few quick thoughts:
This is why America needs a sane, moderate, pro-business Republican Party. I love Elizabeth Warren, I really do, but as a staunch capitalist these remarks give me pause. These remarks sound more like something from a leader in the European Union, not the United States.
It’s hilarious that she cites Amazon’s dominance of the e-books market, but it’s Apple that is paying out a $400 million settlement. To me that’s a perfect example where government oversight power was turned into a political weapon.
How strange is it to the ears of anyone who lived through the 1990s that there’s a discussion of tech companies abusing their positions of power, and Microsoft is not even mentioned? Microsoft’s fall from dominance is evidence that competition works — it just takes a long time for big shifts to come into focus.
Tony Hawk Lands a 900 at Age 48 ★
The Apple I/O Death Chart ★
But how long does it really take Apple to kill legacy tech? We
threw together a chart to map it out. (It would be fun to do
this across the entire tech industry, but finding all that data
seems virtually impossible. If you figure it out email me and
we’ll run it!)
What I never realized is that most Apple I/O standards last about
15 years, give or take. Even the floppy, which seems like a
monumental change when it was removed from the iMac, was only
around for 15 years. We take the traditional USB connector for
granted, but it’s also been around for about 18 years, and you can
see how the new MacBook is ushering it out in favor of USB-C. It’s
an interesting cycle.
Not listed in The Verge’s chart: ethernet. I feel like that’s a good precedent for this headphone jack thing. Ethernet is faster and more reliable than Wi-Fi, but Apple dropped it from the MacBook Air years ago, and now doesn’t even include an Ethernet port on the MacBook Pros.
The more I think about it, the more I realize the trend isn’t just toward eliminating ports on devices — it’s about reducing the number of cables you use. There probably will be Lightning headphones and Lightning for audio out on the upcoming iPhones, but I think Apple’s push is going to be toward wireless. Cables are inherently fiddly, and fiddliness is un-Apple-like. Update: Yes, you can still use Ethernet on a MacBook, using an Ethernet-to-USB adapter. I have one of those in my bag. When Apple obsoletes a port, they don’t forbid you from using it. They discourage you from using it by requiring an adapter. I think the same will be true of 3.5mm headphones. (Hell, I’m typing these very words on an ADB keyboard.)
(User-replaceable batteries don’t qualify as I/O, but that’s another bit of fiddliness that Apple eliminated in the face of criticism that doing so was user-hostile. And I’ll bet they were used in PowerBooks and MacBooks for about 15 years. Update: 18 years starting from the original PowerBook — or 20, if you count the Macintosh Portable.)
Apple Supplier Cirrus Logic Releases Kit for Creating Lightning-Based Headphones ★
Joe Rossignol, MacRumors:
Apple supplier Cirrus Logic has announced a new MFi Headset
Development Kit, a reference platform that is designed to help
“Made for iPhone/iPad/iPod” accessory makers quickly develop
The development kit, available through Apple’s MFi Program,
includes a form factor reference design and other resources to
help MFi licensees create Lightning-based headphones. A reference
iOS app is also available.
The question is, are they just skating to where they think the puck is going to be, or do they know where the puck is going to be?
Amazon Will Start Subsidizing Android Phones With ‘Special Offer’ Ads on the Lock Screens ★
Lauren Goode, writing for The Verge:
Amazon today said it would begin offering Prime members
significant discounts on select unlocked Android smartphones, in
exchange for the ability to pre-install Amazon apps and show
customers more ads on the phones.
Right now the deal only applies to two smartphones — the new
Motorola Moto G and the BLU R1 HD — neither of which is available
yet in the US, but are expected to ship on July 12th. The lock
screen ads are not dissimilar from the ads that appear on Amazon’s
Kindle e-readers and Kindle Fire tablets with “special offers,” as
Amazon calls them.
Amazon’s Fire Phone was a dud (to say the least), but maybe this will work.
On iPad Features (or Lack Thereof) at WWDC 2016 ★
In my iOS 10 Wishes story from April, I wrote:
I heard from multiple sources a few weeks ago that some iPad-only
features will be shipped in 10.x updates following the release of
iOS 10 in the Fall. I wouldn’t be surprised if some iPad changes
and feature additions won’t make the cut for WWDC.
I didn’t have high hopes for major iPad-specific features to be
announced at WWDC. Still, I was disappointed to see the iPad
return to the backseat after last year’s revitalization. Every
time Craig Federighi ended a segment with “it works on the iPad,
too”, it felt like the iPad had become an afterthought again.
After WWDC, I strongly believe that Apple has notable iPad-only
features in the pipeline, but they won’t be available until later
in the iOS 10 cycle, possibly in early 2017.
It seems like Apple is shifting to a model where more features roll out in .1, .2, and .3 updates throughout the year, so this makes sense. As for what some of those iPad-specific features might be, Viticci’s own aforelinked wish list is a good start.
Pairing Over Lightning – First Pencil, Next ‘AirPods’? ★
How to pair an Apple Pencil with an iPad Pro:
The first time you use your Apple Pencil, take off its cap and
plug it into the Lightning connector on your iPad Pro. After a few
seconds, you’ll see the Pair button. Tap it.
After you pair your Apple Pencil, it will stay paired until you
restart your iPad, turn on airplane mode, or pair with another
iPad Pro. Just pair your Apple Pencil again when you’re ready
to use it.
There are many pros and cons to using Bluetooth headphones today. One of the cons is the pain of pairing with a device, especially compared to wired headphones. With wired headphones you can switch from using them with your iPhone to your Mac just by unplugging them from the phone and plugging them into your Mac. With Bluetooth headphones you’ve got to go into Settings on the iPhone and unpair, then go to Settings on the Mac to pair again. Then vice-versa when you want to go back.
Spitball: What if Apple is planning on Bluetooth earbuds that include a Lightning jack, like the Pencil? Plug them in to the device you want to pair them with, tap “Pair”, and you’re done. Easy to charge, too. (But again, this only works across iOS and Mac if Macs gain Lightning ports.)
Update: As pointed out by Jason Snell (and others), the new Magic Mouse 2, Magic Keyboard, and Magic Trackpad 2 all pair to a Mac by Lightning, too. But those peripherals are Lightning female; the Pencil is Lightning male. Something would have to give for a pair of wireless earbuds that pair by Lightning to work on both iOS devices and Macs. A dongle is of course possible, but would be frequently lost.
Newspaper Front Pages About Brexit From Around the World ★
Feels like The Washington Post really downplayed the magnitude of this story.
Update: The winner: next week’s cover of The New Yorker. Be sure to note the issue date.
New Accessibility Features in iOS, MacOS, tvOS, and WatchOS ★
Jordan Kahn, writing for 9to5Mac last week:
iOS 10 magnifier: In iOS 10 there is a new accessibility feature
called Magnifier that lets you use the camera as a magnifying
glass with a custom UI. The magnifier UI gives you access to the
camera flash, and the ability to lock focus and grab a freeze
frame. You can also adjust color filters to increase contrast for
easier viewing. […]
You can enable it in Settings → General → Accessibility →
Magnifier, and then activate it with a triple tap of the
Tons of great accessibility improvements across all four platforms, but I love this particular one personally.
Why the iPhone Will Not Switch From Lightning to USB-C ★
One of the ideas I’ve seen bandied about regarding the purported removal of the standard headphone jack on this year’s new iPhones is that maybe it’s because the iPhone is switching from Lightning to USB-C. The idea being that switching from one industry-wide standard to another would be more palatable than switching from a standard port to an Apple proprietary one. I say no way.
First, Apple likes having a proprietary port for strategic purposes. They like having control over iOS device peripherals. They like not having to wait for standards bodies to approve new designs and features.
Second, even if Apple wanted to switch to a standard port, they wouldn’t switch to USB-C — it’s significantly thicker than Lightning. Josh Flowers made some excellent renderings in March showing just how much thicker USB-C is than Lightning. That’s the end of the story, right there, if you assume that Apple wants to keep making iPhones thinner and thinner. (And if you don’t assume that, you are wrong.)
Missing the Point on Removal of the iPhone Headphone Jack ★
Steve Streza, “John Gruber Misses the Point Completely About Lightning Headphones”:
John can argue all he wants that this is all somehow in the best
interest of customers by virtue of it being great business for
Apple, but it simply isn’t true. It also won’t be a hill that many
customers will die on at the point of sale. People will not buy
into Lightning headphones, they will put up with it. This
transition will be painful and difficult because of just how
thoroughly entrenched the current solution is, how little the new
solution offers, and how many complications it adds for customers.
Nilay is correct, it is user-hostile, and it is stupid.
I didn’t argue that this change will be good for users. I argued that it could be. We don’t know yet! It might be stupid and user-hostile. It might not be. But if you look at history, these things tend to work out just fine.
July and August are pretty much wide open on the sponsorship calendar. If you’ve got a cool product or service to promote to DF’s astute audience, get in touch and let’s fill these spots up.
Apple Discontinues the Thunderbolt Display ★
Apple is discontinuing the Thunderbolt Display, the standard
resolution, external IPS monitor the company has been selling
since 2011. An Apple spokesperson provided us with the following
“We’re discontinuing the Apple Thunderbolt Display,” Apple told
iMore. “It will be available through Apple.com, Apple’s retail
stores and Apple Authorized Resellers while supplies last.
There are a number of great third-party options available for
This is a good example of Apple punditry being like Kremlinology. Does this mean Apple is getting out of the standalone display market? Or does it mean, Just wait, we’ve got a retina display coming, but because it isn’t ready to be announced, we won’t talk about it?
I’m guessing the latter, that a 5K display from Apple is coming. But that’s just a guess.
David Sparks on WatchOS 3 ★
David Sparks was brave/foolish enough to put the iOS 10 beta on his daily iPhone, which in turn allowed him to update his Apple Watch to WatchOS 3:
Likewise the watchOS Dock works swimmingly. I’ve pressed the
physical button for the Dock more times in the last week than I
did in the prior year when it was the Friends button. The
background refresh of Dock-based apps is the killer feature here.
I can actually now consider some third party apps that hold time
sensitive data without worrying whether or not they’ll be
I’m quite impressed with Apple’s ability to go back to the drawing
board and improve the user interface of the Apple Watch. I’m even
more impressed, however, that they are squeezing this much better
performance out of the exact same pokey hardware I had a week
ago. I simply didn’t think it was possible.
‘Helvetica’ Director Gary Hustwit Is Kickstartering a Documentary About Dieter Rams ★
Hell yeah, I’m backing this.
The Brexit Ballot Is Simple and Clear ★
Libby Nelson, writing for Vox:
The question is written in plain language: “Should the United
Kingdom remain in the European Union or leave the European Union?”
And while it’s a yes-no question, the options make it perfectly
clear which one you’re choosing and how you should do it. (The
Scottish referendum ballot in 2014 was even clearer: “Should
Scotland be an independent country?”)
This is a very good design — but points off for setting it in Arial.
Is Poor Shift Lever Design to Blame for Death of ‘Star Trek’ Actor Anton Yelchin? ★
Rain Noe, writing for Core77:
Over the weekend Anton Yelchin, the 27-year-old actor known for
playing Chekov in the recent Star Trek movies, was killed in what
was referred to as “a freak accident” in his Los Angeles driveway.
But was it really “freak?” It seems to us that lousy design may
have played a role.
Yelchin was found crushed between his car, a 2015 Jeep Grand
Cherokee, and the security gate at the end of his driveway. It
appears that Yelchin had exited his car and walked behind it,
perhaps to close the gate, and apparently believed the
transmission was in “Park.” Instead it appears it was actually in
“Reverse” or “Neutral” and the car rolled down his steep driveway,
This brings us to the design of the 2014-2015 Grand Cherokee’s
That is a horrendous design. Betteridge’s Law be damned, I think the answer to this headline is clearly “Yes”.
Update: Ben Sandofsky shows another bad shifter, from a Chrysler he rented. Chrysler owns Jeep — what the hell is going on over there?
Imagine if Exxon Was Protected From Liability After the Valdez ★
Evan Osnos, author of this week’s New Yorker feature on the U.S. gun industry, in a Reddit AMA:
Anybody — especially people who favor free markets — should
conclude that the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act was a
big mistake. Imagine if Exxon was protected from liability after
the Valdez? That’s not how markets should work. It will probably
be revised or repealed to make sure that companies are doing safe
work — as with any industry.
Update: The above comment seems to have been deleted from the Reddit thread. But The New Yorker Twitter account even tweeted it as a pull quote.
Can the Light on Modern Mac FaceTime Cameras Be Bypassed by Malware? ★
The previous bit about using tape to cover your laptop camera got me wondering about the indicator light that shows when Mac FaceTime cameras are in use. Back in 2013, security researchers at Johns Hopkins University showed how this could be overridden:
Marcus Thomas, former assistant director of the FBI’s Operational
Technology Division in Quantico, said in a recent story in
The Washington Post that the FBI has been able to covertly
activate a computer’s camera — without triggering the light that
lets users know it is recording — for several years.
Now research from Johns Hopkins University provides the first
public confirmation that it’s possible to do just that, and
demonstrates how. While the research focused on MacBook and iMac
models released before 2008, the authors say similar techniques
could work on more recent computers from a wide variety of
vendors. In other words, if a laptop has a built-in camera, it’s
possible someone — whether the federal government or a malicious
19 year old — could access it to spy on the user at any time.
I’m curious whether this remains true for recent Mac FaceTime cameras. Does the same technique still work?
LeBron James Played Steve Jobs’s Commencement Address to Inspire the Cavs During NBA Finals ★
Ramona Shelburne, writing for ESPN:
LeBron had spent the weekend watching old Muhammad Ali fights, in
awe at the champ’s perseverance. His longtime friend and adviser,
Nike executive Lynn Merritt, had suggested he study the way Ali
carried himself in those epic 12- and 15-round fights. The way Ali
took punches, knowing his opponent would eventually tire. The way
he taunted opponents, flaunting his superior skill and talents,
knowing he would get into their heads. His teammates needed
something else, though. Something they could connect to that would
make them believe this series was not over. And so LeBron gathered
everyone in the Cavaliers locker room before Game 3 and played a
portion of Steve Jobs’ commencement address to Stanford University
Script Debugger 6 ★
Great update to one of my all-time favorite apps. Major new features include code-folding, auto-completion, robust support for AppleScriptObjC (including inspection of Objective-C object values), and a whole lot more. If you write AppleScript, you owe it to yourself to try Script Debugger.
On Covering Your Laptop Camera With Tape ★
Katie Rogers, in a piece for the NYT headlined “Mark Zuckerberg Covers His Laptop Camera. You Should Consider It, Too.”:
On Tuesday, observers were reminded that Mr. Zuckerberg, 32, is
not just a normal guy who enjoys running and quiet dinners with
friends. In a photo posted to his Facebook account, he celebrated
the growing user base of Instagram, which is owned by Facebook. An
eagle-eyed Twitter user named Chris Olson noticed that in the
image’s background, his laptop camera and microphone jack appeared
to be covered with tape.
Other publications, including Gizmodo, used the tweet to raise the
question: Was this paranoia, or just good practice?
I think this is nonsense. Malware that can surreptitiously engage your camera can do all sort of other nefarious things. If you can’t trust your camera, you can’t trust your keyboard either. Follow best practices to avoid malware in the first place — don’t install Flash Player, and don’t install software from sketchy sources — and you’ll almost certainly be fine.
(If you look at the photo, Zuckerberg wasn’t even careful applying the tape — it partially covers his display. That would drive me nuts.)
Update: Covering the microphone with tape is downright pointless. Tape blocks light, yes, but not sound waves. Try it.
Long-Term Goals, Short-Term Annoyances ★
Neven Mrgan sums it up in a tweet:
Removing the iPhone headphone jack is a fine long-term goal.
Complaining about the short-term annoyances is also fine. These
Removing the analog headphone jack is inevitable, and the transition is inevitably irritating. This is what makes Apple different. They will initiate a painful transition for a long-term gain. Other companies will avoid inducing pain at all costs — and you wind up using VGA until the mid-2010s.
Adam Leventhal: ‘APFS in Detail’ ★
DTrace co-creator Adam Leventhal has written a detailed analysis of APFS:
I’m not sure Apple absolutely had to replace HFS+, but likely they
had passed an inflection point where continuing to maintain and
evolve the 30+ year old software was more expensive than building
something new. APFS is a product born of that assessment.
Based on what Apple has shown I’d surmise that its core design
- satisfying all consumers (laptop, phone, watch, etc.)
- encryption as a first-class citizen
- snapshots for modernized backup.
Those are great goals that will benefit all Apple users, and based
on the WWDC demos APFS seems to be on track (though the macOS
Sierra beta isn’t quite as far along).
It’s a shame that APFS lacks checksums for user data and doesn’t
provide for data redundancy. Data integrity should be job one for
a file system, and I believe that that’s true for a watch or phone
as much as it is for a server.
I hope to see data integrity features added to APFS later, but that’s not the top priority for APFS. The top priorities for APFS are encryption/privacy, and energy efficiency. Redundancy and checksums make perfect sense for a machine plugged into the wall; they create a trade-off for devices that run on batteries. I think we’ll see these features eventually in APFS, but I’m not surprised they didn’t make the first cut.
See also: “Introducing Apple File System”, Session 701 at WWDC 2016.
Thoughts and Prayers: The Game ★
Brilliant. (Careful with your audio, though — starts loud.)
Update: Turns out this is one of a series of satirical games that were rejected by Apple’s App Store.
The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act ★
From Evan Osnos’s excellent “Making a Killer” feature for The New Yorker, on the business and politics of selling guns in the U.S.:
With the help of Congress, the industry has avoided further
lawsuits. In 2005, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act
immunized gun manufacturers, distributors, and dealers from civil
liability for damages caused by their products. Mike Fifer, the
C.E.O. of the U.S. gunmaker Sturm, Ruger, said at an N.R.A.
convention in 2011 that the law is “probably the only reason we
have a U.S. firearms industry anymore.”
This passage jumped out at me. Rescinding this law should be a top priority for gun control advocates. You don’t have to go state by state. There is no Second Amendment angle. Rescind this law and let the victims of gun violence sue the manufacturers and sellers of guns. Personally, I’m all for mandatory background checks, banning high-capacity military rifles, repealing concealed carry laws, and more. But rescinding this one law shielding gun manufacturers and sellers from civil liability seems like the most politically viable first step. Why do I not hear more about this?
(Any movement on gun control is politically unviable so long as Republicans hold either house of Congress, but Democrats held both houses and the presidency as recently as 2011.)
Typeset in the Future: ‘Blade Runner’ ★
Dave Addey does it again.
Tim Cook to Host Paul Ryan Fundraiser Next Week ★
Tony Romm, reporting for Politico:
Apple CEO Tim Cook will host a fundraiser with House Speaker Paul
Ryan next week as the iPhone maker tries to strengthen its
relationships with key Republicans — despite its decision to pull
support for the GOP convention because of its distaste for Donald
Cook is hosting the fundraiser on his own accord, as Apple does
not have a corporate political action committee like Facebook,
Google and other tech giants in Silicon Valley. Still, the move
reflects Apple’s desire to court Republican and Democratic
officeholders alike, even at a time when it has serious
reservations about Trump, the GOP’s presumptive presidential
Trump isn’t merely “distasteful”. He’s radioactive. This is an interesting way to stay above the partisan fray.
20 Years of Iconfactory ★
Nice retrospective, including the archived websites of each of their major web designs. Man, icon design has changed a lot in 20 years.
See also: Exify, Iconfactory’s new iOS app providing a “collection of tools for people who take their iPhone photography seriously”. I’ve been beta-testing it — it’s great.
National Pancreatic Cancer Advocacy Day ★
My wife Michelle Petruzzi was diagnosed with, and died from,
sporadic pancreatic cancer entirely within the past six months.
She was thirty-six and probably the healthiest person I knew.
She was active in many volunteer efforts in our community, she
ran operations for a non-profit encouraging girls in tech, and
she was a kind and generous soul. You can read more in the
If you live in the US, you can help other people affected by
pancreatic cancer by making one or two quick phone calls this
Tuesday, June 21. Read on, or you can get the summary details
and make a difference in just a few minutes.
All cancer sucks, but for those of us in the Apple world, pancreatic cancer really hits home — in a famous way, with Steve Jobs, and now in a very personal way with Michelle. I know Justin, and I was happy to see him this week in San Francisco so I could offer my condolences and warm thoughts in person. But I also told him: if I can ever help you do something in Michelle’s honor, just say the word. And lo, he already has something I can help draw attention to.
It’s so easy:
- Sign up at the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. Takes about 15 seconds — all they want is your name and email.
- Look for their email on Tuesday, which will tell you who to call and what to say. That’s it.
These coordinated phone calls really make a difference in U.S. politics. And increasing efforts at early detection of pancreatic cancer will save lives.
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The Talk Show: Live From WWDC 2016, With Phil Schiller and Craig Federighi ★
- MailChimp: Send better email.
- Microsoft: Tools and services for any developer, any app, any OS. Really.
- Meh.com: A new deal every day at midnight Eastern.
MacStadium: Mac Hosting and Colocation ★
My thanks to MacStadium for once again sponsoring the DF RSS feed. Trusted by thousands around the world, MacStadium provides dedicated Mac hardware and infrastructure as a service. MacStadium rents Mac servers with a free trial and has a ton of experience with CI and iOS testing solutions.
Remember Macminicolo? MacStadium is the company they merged with earlier this year. They still provide the same great customer service, but now have way more capacity. Big companies like Uber, Travis CI, Unity, and more have huge installations in multiple data centers with MacStadium.
Even better: Use coupon code “DARING10” to save 10 percent on a year of hosting.
The Talk Show: ‘A Nokia Phone and Some Pills’ ★
A special prelude-to-WWDC episode of my podcast, The Talk Show, with special guest Dan Frommer. Topics include Jeff Bezos’s and Elon Musk’s appearances at last week’s Code 2016 conference, Apple’s changes to the App Store (subscriptions for all app categories, search ads, and huge improvements to app review approval times), and, of course, our expectations for WWDC 2016 next week.
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MacDailyNews: ‘Apple to Deliver iMessage to Android at WWDC’ ★
From whoever the hell it is who writes MacDailyNews:
Apple will announce that iMessage encrypted text messaging is
coming to Android users at WWDC next Monday at WWDC 2016,
according to a source familiar with the company’s thinking.
A lot of people are skeptical about this, but I’m not. It’s a little surprising if true, but remember that Apple is now boasting about its prowess as a services company. Messaging is a service. And it makes even more sense if, as rumored, there’s a payments component coming to iMessage.
How Activist DeRay Mckesson’s Twitter Account Was Hacked ★
Kate Conger, writing for TechCrunch:
After regaining control of his Twitter account, Mckesson explained that the hacker or hackers were able to take over by convincing Verizon to reset his SIM. With the SIM reset, the person responsible was able to receive text messages intended for Mckesson and therefore bypass the two-factor authentication the activist used to keep his account secure.
“Verizon takes the security and privacy of our customers very seriously. We are aware of Mr. Mckesson’s claims and Verizon security teams are investigating,” Verizon told TechCrunch.
Goes to show that two-factor authentication is only as strong as the second factor — and with Verizon it would appear your phone is not a strong factor. Scary.
Update: All the attacker needed were the last four digits of Mckesson’s SSN.
‘Bluetooth 5’ to Be Announced Next Week ★
Tim Hardwick, writing for MacRumors:
Bluetooth 5, the next generation of Bluetooth standard, will be
formally announced next week, offering quadruple the range and
double the speed of the current low-energy wireless protocol.
Executive director of the Bluetooth Special Interest Group, Mark
Powell, revealed the news in a published email sent to UK health
and monitoring company Blue Maestro. The Bluetooth SIG, which is
backed by Apple, Intel, and other major technology companies, will
officially make the announcement on June 16 in London.
I repeat: “Next year it will work great” should be Bluetooth’s slogan.
NYT: ‘Gawker, Filing for Bankruptcy After Hulk Hogan Suit, Is Said to Be for Sale’ ★
Sydney Ember, reporting for the NYT:
Gawker Media, under pressure from a $140 million legal judgment
and facing a determined foe in the Silicon Valley billionaire
Peter Thiel, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and is putting
itself up for sale..
The company is beginning an auction process and Ziff Davis, a
digital media company, has submitted an opening bid of $90 million
to $100 million, according to a person briefed on Gawker’s plans,
who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the auction..
Such an offer is known as a stalking-horse bid, meant to set a
floor in a court-supervised auction.
Tom Brokaw Interviews David Letterman ★
These two always had a great rapport.
(Thanks to my mom for the link.)
Apple Energy ★
Seth Weintraub, 9to5Mac:
Apple has quietly created an energy subsidiary, “Apple Energy”
LLC, registered in Delaware but run from its Cupertino
headquarters. The company was seemingly formed to allow it to sell
excess electricity generated by its solar farms in Cupertino and
Nevada, with plans to sell electricity across the whole of the US.
Interesting. (And who says 9to5Mac can’t get scoops post-Gurman?)
Gorgeous, unbelievably faithful one-bit camera app for iPhone done in the style of the original Mac. A lovely tribute to Bill Atkinson’s remarkable dithering algorithm. “Catnip for old-school Mac users,” says John Siracusa. Check out the fun recent-hire-at-Apple Chris Espinosa is having with it.
Also, try it with a Bluetooth keyboard connected.
Jason Snell on App Store Subscriptions ★
But does Apple really want to take the position that ongoing
maintenance of a web service has value, but ongoing maintenance
and development of an app does not? I don’t think it does.
Glenn Fleishman: ‘App Store Subscriptions Don’t Solve Problems for Most Developers’ ★
Glenn Fleishman, again at Macworld:
We’ve confirmed with Apple that Schiller’s expansive vision is an
accurate one: any developer can submit an app that relies entirely
on a subscription to perform a task. It can be effectively a login
screen, like with Netflix and Hulu, rather than conform to the
broader policy Apple has enforced on most apps that weren’t
periodicals and streaming media libraries to date. Schiller’s
examples included enterprise apps, which are effectively in
continuous development. In fact, many enterprise apps are already
sold on a subscription basis, but typically couldn’t charge a
subscription fee directly within iOS.
But Apple also stressed that not just every business model will
pass its muster. Unlike with periodicals and streaming media apps,
which are allowed to have no content or use without a
subscription, apps in other categories will need to “make sense.”
As Apple notes on the What’s New page, “the experience must
provide ongoing value worth the recurring payment for an
auto-renewable subscription to make sense.”
We don’t yet know precisely how Apple will evaluate that, and
uncertainty is bad for developers. Schiller also promised much
faster app review turnaround for developers, but speed doesn’t
matter if an app doesn’t meet Apple’s test, and Apple doesn’t yet
offer formal advance review of app features or business model. (We
have heard of developers discussing features more broadly, but
informally, with developer relations staff.)
What I was told from people at Apple today is that “Content” and “Service” are merely examples of the type of apps that qualify for subscription pricing, and they are willing to accept “all categories and apps that make sense as subscriptions”. They are very much open to feedback from developers on this; will be listening to developers on this next week at WWDC; will have more information about this during WWDC sessions on the new subscription features; and, most importantly, Apple will be providing more details on subscriptions, including a detailed FAQ and updated guidelines, after WWDC.
In short, we don’t have all the answers we need yet. But Apple is aware of the questions.
Macworld FAQ on Apple’s New App Store Subscriptions ★
Glenn Fleishman, writing for Macworld:
Does this change allow apps to offer a free trial?
Sort of. Apple lets developers optionally offer a free trial for
in-app purchase subscriptions, which range from 7 days for a
one-month recurring subscription to one month for a one-year term.
If an app requires a subscription to use at all, then a free trial
of the subscription effectively translates to a free trial of the
app. An app that has some features and sells the rest with
subscription can also offer a free trial just of those added
I confirmed with Apple today that free trials are definitely an option for any app that is approved for subscription pricing.
Headlines Matter ★
Ken Segall, in a preface to a post headlined “Has Apple Lost Its Simplicity?”:
Last week, I wrote an article for The Guardian with the above
title. It was a question, not a conclusion, and I tried to offer a
thoughtful opinion. Sadly, The Guardian chose to give it a
bait-click headline that contradicted my point of view. So, for
the record, here is the complete article as originally intended.
The Guardian’s headline: “How Apple Lost Its Way: Steve Jobs’ Love of Simplicity Is Gone”. If you read Segall’s article, you can see that it isn’t apt at all. Everyone knows what clickbait is, but even though we, collectively, are aware of it and presumably attempt to defend against it by not taking headlines at face value, it’s really amazing how much a provocative headline can affect the interpretation of a non-provocative article. I don’t do much writing for other publications these days, but at this point I would insist on approval over the headline.
I think Marco Arment did this to himself with this piece a few weeks ago. His original headline was “Avoiding BlackBerry’s Fate”; within a day he changed it to “If Google’s Right About AI, That’s a Problem for Apple”. Simply by changing the headline, he seemed to drastically change readers’ interpretation of his argument.
New Yorker copy editor Mary Norris on that vs. which. Usually I can play this by ear, but she cites a few examples where it’s a very close call.
Nest’s Time at Alphabet: A ‘Virtually Unlimited Budget’ With No Results ★
Ron Amadeo, writing for Ars Technica:
It’s hard to argue with the decision to “transition” Fadell away
from Nest. When Google bought Nest in January 2014, the
expectation was that a big infusion of Google’s resources and
money would supercharge Nest. Nest grew from 280 employees around
the time of the Google acquisition to 1200 employees today. In
Nest’s first year as “a Google company,” it used Google’s
resources to acquire webcam maker Dropcam for $555 million, and it
paid an unknown amount for the smart home hub company Revolv.
Duffy said Nest was given a “virtually unlimited budget” inside
Alphabet. Nest eventually transitioned to an Alphabet company,
just like Google.
In return for all this investment, Nest delivered very little. The
Nest Learning Thermostat and Nest Protect smoke detector both
existed before the Google acquisition, and both received minor
upgrades under Google’s (and later Alphabet’s) wing. A year after
buying Dropcam, Nest released the Nest Cam, which was basically a
rebranded Dropcam. Two-and-a-half years under Google/Alphabet, a
quadrupling of the employee headcount, and half-a-billion dollars
in acquisitions yielded minor yearly updates and a rebranded
device. That’s all.
Whatever you want to say about Tony Fadell’s leadership style, I don’t see how anyone could deny that Nest has nothing to show for its time as an Alphabet subsidiary. It’s not even like they launched stuff that failed. They’re still the same thermostat/smoke detector company they were before Google bought them. Kind of bizarre, really.
E.W. Scripps Buys Podcast Company Stitcher ★
Steven Perlberg, reporting for the WSJ:
Stitcher is a free app that streams more than 65,000 podcasts from
publishers ranging from NPR to MSNBC to The Wall Street Journal.
It will operate under Midroll Media, the podcast advertising
company that Scripps acquired last year for $50 million, plus $10
million more over three years if the company hits certain
Midroll sells ads for about 230 programs like “WTF with Marc
Maron,” “The Nerdist,” “StarTalk Radio” and “The Bill Simmons
Podcast.” But podcast listeners these days have a handful of ways
to actually tune into shows, through the likes of Apple’s podcast
app or Google Play Music. Stitcher, one such service, has 8
million registered users and is installed in about 50 car models.
Midroll owning Stitcher is not good for the podcast ecosystem. Stitcher is popular, but my show is not on Stitcher because Stitcher re-hosts the audio, compresses it to hell, and unless you opt out, inserts their own ads. That’s not how podcasting is supposed to work. I firmly believe podcasting should be open, like the web. (This is also why I don’t have my show on Google Play — they insist upon hosting and re-compressing the audio as well.)
I worry that it’s toxic to combine advertising sales with an exclusive app for playback. Advertisers want tracking? You got it — in Stitcher. The end goal here is lock-in, and so I think it’s worth fighting right from the start, even at the expense of a few thousand additional listeners for my show. Maybe they’ll never become dominant. Maybe even if they do, they won’t do anything to promote lock-in. But now is the only time to resist the possibility that they’ll grow dominant and abuse their position. It’s too late once it happens.
My thanks to Quentin Zervaas for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote Streaks, his excellent app for iPhone and Apple Watch. Streaks is a to-do list that helps you form good habits. The point is to motivate you to tackle the things you want to do: anything from daily exercise goals, learning a new language, taking your vitamins, or quitting smoking. Anything.
It’s a brilliant design, both visually and conceptually. I’ve tried a few apps like this over the years, and what kills most of them is friction. If it takes too many fiddly steps to mark off the things you do, you stop using the app. Streaks makes it incredibly simple to mark things done. For anything activity-related, you don’t have to do anything at all — it just tracks information from HealthKit (with your permission, of course) automatically. And in terms of the visual design, Streaks is both highly distinctive and very iOS-y — it doesn’t look like a stock iOS app, but it very much looks and feels like a good native iOS app. That’s a combination that takes a great eye to pull off.
And it is truly one of the best uses of Apple Watch I’ve seen in a third-party app. The complication is beautifully simple (and I’m happy to say, beautifully monochromatic, even on my beloved Utility watch face), the app launches fast (by Apple Watch standards), and then you just tap to mark something done and that’s it. One tap on the complication to launch the app, one more tap on the task/item.
I only accept sponsorships for products or services that I’m proud to support. But Streaks is so good that I want to go out of my way to draw attention to it. I’m not praising it with superlatives because it’s my sponsor; I’m doing so because it’s superlatively good. If you have any sort of interest in an app to help reinforce daily habits (or an interest in good UI design), go check it out.
Donald Trump Is Blatantly Racist — and the Media Is Too Scared to Call Him Out on It ★
German Lopez, writing for Vox:
As The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday, Trump said he
wants to disqualify the federal judge overseeing the Trump
University case because of his “Mexican heritage” and membership
in a Latino lawyers association:
Mr. Trump said U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel had “an
absolute conflict” in presiding over the litigation given that
he was “of Mexican heritage” and a member of a Latino lawyers’
association. Mr. Trump said the background of the judge, who was
born in Indiana to Mexican immigrants, was relevant because of
his campaign stance against illegal immigration and his pledge
to seal the southern U.S. border. “I’m building a wall. It’s an
inherent conflict of interest,” Mr. Trump said.
This is pure racism. There’s no subtlety, no dog whistle, no coded
Maybe the media plays a role here. After all, instead of calling
it like it is, CBS News, MSNBC, The Washington Post, and The New
York Times have called Trump’s comments about Curiel “racially
charged” and “racially tinged,” the weasel words the media
typically uses to describe racism. It makes one wonder: What would
it take for them to finally call Trump or his remarks just plainly
racist? If claiming a qualified, vetted judge shouldn’t be able to
do his job because of his race and ethnicity isn’t racist, then
what the hell is?
Yours truly, back in March, on “The R-Word”:
That phrase at the end — that we have “a culture in which some
people believe that it’s worse to be called racist than to be
racist” — is something I started noticing years ago. Once you see
it, you can’t un-see it, and it explains much about our current
discourse on racism.
What’s happened is that all but a small fringe of American society
has agreed that “racism”, in the abstract, is deeply wrong. But
there are many people who agree that “racism” is deeply wrong who
themselves hold racist views. One way they square this cognitive
dissonance is by redefining “racism” as applying only to grossly
overt racism — using racial slurs, refusing to hire people of
color, belonging to whites-only clubs, etc.
Tony Fadell Departs From Nest ★
Tony Fadell, today:
Today though, my news is bittersweet: I have decided that the time
is right to “leave the Nest.” […]
Although this news may feel sudden to some, this transition has
been in progress since late last year and while I won’t be present
day to day at Nest, I’ll remain involved in my new capacity as an
advisor to Alphabet and Larry Page. This will give me the time and
flexibility to pursue new opportunities to create and disrupt
other industries — and to support others who want to do the same
— just as we’ve done at Nest. We should all be disrupters!
Larry Page three years ago, announcing Andy Rubin’s “decision” to step down as the head of Android:
Having exceeded even the crazy ambitious goals we dreamed of for
Android — and with a really strong leadership team in place —
Andy’s decided it’s time to hand over the reins and start a new
chapter at Google. Andy, more moonshots please!
These Google guys sure love to use exclamation marks to express their enthusiasm for executives being shown the door.
Layers 2016 ★
Second edition of Layers, in San Francisco June 13-15:
Layers is a 3-day conference during wwdc to talk about design,
celebrate our industry, and eat snacks. Like a party, but for
Speakers include Christa Mrgan (occasional guest of The Talk Show, co-founder of Civil Comments), the never-opinionated Wil Shipley, and John Hodgman. Beyond the great lineup, Layers is just a great event: good venue, good food, and most importantly, an excellent full coffee bar. (I interviewed legendary designer Susan Kare at last year’s event.)
It’s not just coincident with WWDC, it’s only two blocks away, and is being promoted by Apple along with a few other community events. Jason Snell said it best last year: WWDC is now the heart of the Apple world’s calendar. Layers is a great way to be a part of it. And, for the next two days, Daring Fireball readers can save $100 on registration with the code “daringfiresale”.
[Update]: More good news: Layers will be streaming UI-design sessions live from WWDC.
Rene Ritchie: ‘No Apple Display With Integrated GPU at WWDC’ ★
An external GPU (eGPU)-powered Apple Display won’t be among the
things announced at WWDC 2016.
There’d been some speculation on Twitter and rumor reports about
Apple possibly introducing a display with an integrated eGPU.
Theory being, it would take some of the graphical processing
overhead off MacBooks and/or facilitate a single-cable connection
that could drive 5K. It sounds cool, but I asked around, and it’s
not happening at the keynote or any time in the immediate future.
Rene, as they say, is well-sourced, so I would definitely not go into the keynote holding my breath for this one. A shame, because an updated Mac Pro and a big retina display to connect it to are overdue.
Update: I don’t want to put words in Rene’s mouth, but my reading of this is that there won’t be a new display unveiled at WWDC, but that when a new display is finally revealed, it could still be based on the rumored integrated GPU design. In fact, given Intel’s chipsets, I don’t see how Apple could ship such a display in the next two years unless they go this route.
Apple Releases Updated Version of iOS 9.3.2 for 9.7-Inch iPad Pro ★
Juli Clover, MacRumors:
Apple today released a new version of iOS 9.3.2 that’s specific to
the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, presumably resolving an issue that caused
some iPad Pro devices to become bricked after installing the
original iOS 9.3.2 update.
The new version of iOS 9.3.2, build 13F72, can be downloaded
over-the-air on any 9.7-inch iPad Pro that has not previously been
updated to the latest version of iOS 9.
A friend with a bricked-by-“Error 56” iPad Pro told me that he was able to un-brick his iPad by installing this version of iOS through iTunes. He had to go through a few reboot cycles, but it worked.
Apple Is Experiencing Multiple Online Service Outages ★
That’s an awful lot of yellow.
Tribune Publishing Announces Corporate Rebranding, Changes Name to ‘tronc’ With a Lowercase T ★
Somebody launched a major re-branding after a four-martini lunch. Jiminy.