Linked List: June 2016

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 sociopolitical/religious unrest.

Jason Snell:

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 competitors.”

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 

Jim Swift:

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 publishers.”

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 

Nilay Patel:

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 Lightning-based headphones.

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.

The Mill Blackbird 

This is absolutely amazing:

Until now, automotive content has often been dictated or hampered by car availability, model revisions, limited access to locations and footage that can quickly become irrelevant. In collaboration with JemFX, Performance Filmworks and Keslow Camera, The Mill has created The Mill Blackbird which sets out to transform the way automotive advertising is made — it’s a car rig that can be shot at any time, in any location, without the need to rely on a physical car.

The Mill Blackbird is able to quickly transform its chassis to match the exact length and width of almost any car. Powered by an electric motor, it can be programmed to imitate acceleration curves and gearing shifts and the adjustable suspension alters ride height, rigidity and dampening to replicate typical driving characteristics.

iOSDevCamp 2016 

Three-day hackathon in San Jose, July 22-24:

Our community is not only the most diverse (featuring over 25% female participants) but also the most successful of all hackathons. Fostering great startups (Getaround), amazing open source projects (OAuth), brilliant apps (TestFlight), and unicorn public companies (Square), iOSDevCamp is a year-round support network with thousands of members worldwide. This ninth annual iOSDevCamp is set to be take a giant leap forward into the realm where hardware overlaps with software in domains like Wearables and Civic Engagement.

Use the registration code “DARINGFIREBALL” and save 25 percent. Women and girls can use the code “DARINGWOMEN” and save 50 percent.

How Apple Could Replace the Headphone Jack 

Erik Person:

If Apple removes the headphone jack from the next iPhone, we’re going to need some new headphones. Let’s explore the possible options Apple has for pairing and charging to see if we can come up with the best strategy before Apple tells it to us.

There are a lot of ways this could play out.

The Talk Show: ‘Phil Z’ 

Marco Arment returns to the show. Topics include WWDC 2016, Phil Schiller and Craig Federighi’s appearance on the live episode of this show during WWDC, the purported removal of the standard headphone jack from the upcoming new iPhones, and more.

Sponsored by:

  • Wealthfront: An automated investment service with over $3 billion in client assets under management.
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Igloo: Try a Modern Intranet for Free 

My thanks to Igloo for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Legacy intranet solutions are difficult to update and manage, leaving them stale and unused. A modern intranet evolves over time and puts more control into the hands of the people who actually use it. Plus, it’s dead simple to use.

Try an intranet you’ll actually like. With Igloo, you can get a free, 100 percent cloud-hosted, secure platform that’s powerful and easy to use. Start your free trial today.

On iPad Features (or Lack Thereof) at WWDC 2016 

Federico Viticci:

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 home button.

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.

Daring Fireball RSS Feed Sponsorships for Summer 

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 

Rene Ritchie:

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 statement:

“We’re discontinuing the Apple Thunderbolt Display,” Apple told iMore. “It will be available through, Apple’s retail stores and Apple Authorized Resellers while supplies last. There are a number of great third-party options available for Mac users.”

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 up-to-date.

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, killing him.

This brings us to the design of the 2014-2015 Grand Cherokee’s shifter.

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 item 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 in 2005.

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 are compatible.

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.

Joanna Stern Cuts the Cheese 

Joanna Stern:

It’s why I’ve long felt technology’s thinolympics has been a waste of time. “Our new product is so much thinner than the competition that you can fit one more sheet of paper into your messenger bag! You’ll need to make room for the charger, though, since we cut out some battery. Sorry!”

The equation has long been: Thinner + lighter = poorer performance + shorter battery life. Both the Spectre and the MacBook, updated in April, still require you to make some sacrifices. But the trade-offs no longer outweigh the benefits of owning a laptop that could double as a cheese knife — if that’s what you want.

Pairs well with yesterday’s debate over the purported lack of a headphone jack in the next iPhone.

iOS 10 Kernel Code Is Not Encrypted 

Tom Simonite, writing for the MIT Technology Review:

Some security experts who inspected that new version of iOS got a big surprise.

They found that Apple had not obscured the workings of the heart of its operating system using encryption as the company has done before. Crucial pieces of the code destined to power millions of iPhones and iPads were laid bare for all to see. That would aid anyone looking for security weaknesses in Apple’s flagship software.

Security experts say the famously secretive company may have adopted a bold new strategy intended to encourage more people to report bugs in its software — or perhaps made an embarrassing mistake. Apple declined to comment on why it didn’t follow its usual procedure.

Rene Ritchie:

My understanding is that the reason was something else entirely: Streamlining the operating system.

Since it contains only the kernel, device drivers, and configuration files — and absolutely no user data — the iOS 10 kernel cache can be left unencrypted without any concerns over security or privacy.

Rene’s understanding of things is usually very well-informed. This strikes me as highly unlikely to be a mistake.

Update: Just got this from an Apple spokesperson:

“The kernel cache doesn’t contain any user info, and by unencrypting it we’re able to optimize the operating system’s performance without compromising security.”

So: definitely not a mistake.

Derek Jeter and Barack Obama in Conversation 

Derek Jeter:

This isn’t an interview, and it’s not about politics. I simply wanted to share our perspectives on a few things that are meaningful to both of us.

We talked about retirement and our inspirations — and the President even snuck in a few good jokes on me. Most of all, we shared thoughts about the importance of mentors and role models, and the work we both are doing through the Turn 2 Foundation and My Brother’s Keeper.

So great. I really enjoyed this.

Twitter Engage 

Casey Newton, writing for The Verge:

The app, which is available today on iOS, is designed to help famous people interact with their fans and build a bigger following. The app includes three main tabs. Engage highlights the most important interactions you’ve had on Twitter, and includes mentions from users who are verified, followed by a lot of your followers, or interact with you a lot. An “understand” tab shows you high-level analytics for your posts, showing you how many impressions you’re getting over time. And the “posts” tab shows you detailed performance numbers for individual posts.

One thing Engage doesn’t have: a timeline. Engage is for the celebrity who sees the value in tweeting, but would rather not pay attention to the broader conversation in the global town square. If reading Twitter makes you upset, but you still want to be able to broadcast the details of your latest juice cleanse, Engage may be the app for you.

Even with a verified account and a fair number of followers, I find this app almost totally useless. Anything you want to actually do, like respond to a tweet, it shoots you over to the official Twitter app. I fear for Twitter — they’re just spinning their wheels.

Update: I was wrong, you can send new tweets and replies from within Engage. Perhaps my thumb missed the tiny little “reply” button when I tried earlier. But to view details on a tweet or user profile you get switched to the Twitter app. And when you do tweet from Engage, you get this alert as soon as the tweet is sent, every time. What kind of a narcissist wants that? And how did the glaring grammatical error make it into production? It’s an alert you see after every tweet.

Collect Your Apple E-Books Antitrust Settlement 


In November 2014, a federal court approved a Settlement of antitrust lawsuits brought against Apple, Inc. (“Apple”) by State Attorneys General and Class Plaintiffs about the price of electronic books (“eBooks”). Those settlements resulted in credits for qualifying Kindle books purchased between April 1, 2010 and May 21, 2012. These credits are funded by Apple.

I got $6.28.

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 goals were:

  • 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).

Later on:

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 Trump. […]

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 nominee.

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.

Apple Won’t Aid Republican Convention Over Trump 

Tony Romm, reporting for Politico:

Apple has told Republican leaders it will not provide funding or other support for the party’s 2016 presidential convention, as it’s done in the past, citing Donald Trump’s controversial comments about women, immigrants and minorities.

Unlike Facebook, Google and Microsoft, which have all said they will provide some support to the GOP event in Cleveland next month, Apple decided against donating technology or cash to the effort, according to two sources familiar with the iPhone maker’s plans.

Apple’s political stand against Trump, communicated privately to Republicans, is a sign of the widening schism between Silicon Valley and the GOP’s bombastic presumptive nominee. Trump has trained his rhetorical fire on the entire tech industry, but he’s singled out Apple for particular criticism — calling for a boycott of the company’s products, and slamming CEO Tim Cook, over Apple’s stance on encryption.

You might say, well, of course Apple isn’t going to support the Republican Party. But in fact, in previous years, Apple has donated equipment equally to both major parties. Bipartisan sponsorship of the political conventions is a civic-minded gesture. But Trump is simply too toxic. Companies can’t afford to be associated with him in any way.

The Republican convention is shaping up to be a disaster. Major companies are (wisely) refusing to sponsor it, Trump’s campaign has little money to spare, and Trump himself can’t foot the bill because he actually has very little in liquid assets. None of the previous Republican candidates — Bush (neither 41 nor 43), McCain, Romney — will even attend the convention, let alone speak. Trump has so little support among prominent Republican figures that there’s even been the suggestion that Trump himself should speak every night.

It’d be funny except that our system of government depends upon both major parties being functional.

National Pancreatic Cancer Advocacy Day 

Justin Miller:

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 previous post.

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:

  1. Sign up at the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. Takes about 15 seconds — all they want is your name and email.
  2. 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.


My thanks to Squarespace for once again sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. If you’re a regular reader, then you almost certainly know Squarespace. But in case you don’t, Squarespace is the all-in-one platform for creating beautiful websites. Of course, sometimes a website isn’t what you need. That’s why they also offer Cover Pages and Commerce. Not quite ready for a blog, photo gallery, and all the rest? Create a simple yet striking single page website with Cover Pages. Ready to take your small business to the next level? Create a powerful online store with Commerce.

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The Talk Show: Live From WWDC 2016, With Phil Schiller and Craig Federighi 

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Billboard Interview With Apple Music’s Brain Trust: Iovine, Reznor, Cue, and Kondrk 

Interesting interview:

Billboard: Record labels and publishers are also concerned with the decline in download sales. Will we see a streaming-only future and when?

Cue: There’s no end date, and as a matter of fact, they should all be surprised and thankful to the results that they’re seeing because our music iTunes business is doing very well. Downloads weren’t growing, and certainly are not going to grow again, but it’s not declining anywhere near as fast as any of them predicted or thought it would. There are a lot of people who download music and are happy with it and they’re not moving towards subscriptions. We talked about subscriptions bringing a lot of new customers in, people who have never bought music. And if you look at Apple’s music revenue on a quarterly basis, because of subscriptions and because of sales, it’s now higher; it’s actually growing, which is great for the labels.

Trent Reznor: It feels as though we’ve turned a corner in terms of the adoption of streaming. I think it’s inevitable that downloads will diminish, much like CDs. But I’ve started buying vinyl — probably out of nostalgia, but also there’s something about a physical thing that has meaning to me as an artist. I think coexistence can take place.

Samsung to Buy Joyent 

Jonathan Cheng, reporting for the WSJ:

Samsung’s acquisition of San Francisco-based Joyent signals the South Korean technology giant’s burgeoning interest in “big data,” part of a broader effort to use powerful remote computers to bolster its data analysis and the computing capabilities of its devices.

Samsung said in a statement it will integrate Joyent into its mobile division, though the 11-year-old company will retain both the Joyent name and its top management, and operate at an arm’s length from its new parent company.

Long-time readers will remember that I was a very early employee at Joyent when it was founded in 2005. I left in 2006 to write Daring Fireball full-time. Kind of funny to think that in some alternate universe I’m now a Samsung employee.

What Is Differential Privacy? 

Matthew Green:

As an academic researcher and a security professional, I have mixed feelings about Apple’s announcement. On the one hand, as a researcher I understand how exciting it is to see research technology actually deployed in the field. And Apple has a very big field.

On the flip side, as security professionals it’s our job to be skeptical — to at a minimum demand people release their security-critical code (as Google did with RAPPOR), or at least to be straightforward about what it is they’re deploying. If Apple is going to collect significant amounts of new data from the devices that we depend on so much, we should really make sure they’re doing it right — rather than cheering them for Using Such Cool Ideas. (I made this mistake already once, and I still feel dumb about it.)

But maybe this is all too “inside baseball”. At the end of the day, it sure looks like Apple is honestly trying to do something to improve user privacy, and given the alternatives, maybe that’s more important than anything else.

The End of ThinkUp 

Anil Dash:

We have some tough news: We’re going to be shutting down the ThinkUp service on July 18 and issuing a refund then for the balance of all member subscriptions. There have been significant changes from Instagram, Twitter and Facebook that make it too hard for us to keep the service running, especially since we’ve been struggling as a business. We’re sorry, and we’re going to try to handle this shutdown the right way.

A shame — I really liked ThinkUp. Every week it surfaces something interesting from Twitter that I hadn’t noticed on my own.

Safari 10 Will No Longer Load Legacy Plugins By Default 

Ricky Mondello, on the WebKit blog:

By default, Safari no longer tells websites that common plug-ins are installed. It does this by not including information about Flash, Java, Silverlight, and QuickTime in navigator.plugins and navigator.mimeTypes. This convinces websites with both plug-in and HTML5-based media implementations to use their HTML5 implementation.

Of these plug-ins, the most widely-used is Flash. Most websites that detect that Flash isn’t available, but don’t have an HTML5 fallback, display a “Flash isn’t installed” message with a link to download Flash from Adobe. If a user clicks on one of those links, Safari will inform them that the plug-in is already installed and offer to activate it just one time or every time the website is visited. The default option is to activate it only once. We have similar handling for the other common plug-ins.

The worst is when a site that could serve you HTML5 media content instead sends you the Flash version, just because you have Flash installed. This should fix that problem for Safari users.

‘The End of Apple Man’ 

Katie Notopoulos, writing for BuzzFeed:

But the effervescent demo of Apple Music by the charismatic Bozoma Saint John — a black woman who looked and acted nothing like the typical Apple Men onstage before her and who in her opening remarks mentioned being a mother — felt like a breath of fresh air signaling that perhaps the winds are changing. There were other signals too. In the video segment cheering on developers using Apple’s Swift programming language, the video ended with a black woman joyfully expounding how awesome coding was — certainly not the stereotype of a coder, and not totally reflective of the crowd there watching the video. At another Apple event in March, another black female Apple executive, Lisa Jackson, took the stage to talk about Apple’s environmental efforts.

Breaking the Apple Man stereotype in the people who appear on stage as the Apple’s evangelists is symbolic. Having a black woman present on stage might just mean the company is more aware of the optics of its events.

Good points about the new “emergency alert” feature on Apple Watch being designed for women, too.

The Talk Show: Live From WWDC 2016 Video Stream 

Doors open for attendees at 6pm PT, but the actual show and live video stream will start around 7pm PT / 10pm ET.

Should be a good show.

Update: The live stream went down about halfway through — sorry — but the show went great. Top people are hard at work on the video and audio as I type.

Stripe: Apple Pay 

Stripe is already on board — it’s going to be pretty easy for websites to integrate Apple Pay this fall.

Microsoft to Acquire LinkedIn for $26 Billion 

Announced this morning, before the WWDC keynote:

Microsoft Corp. and LinkedIn Corporation on Monday announced they have entered into a definitive agreement under which Microsoft will acquire LinkedIn for $196 per share in an all-cash transaction valued at $26.2 billion, inclusive of LinkedIn’s net cash. LinkedIn will retain its distinct brand, culture and independence. Jeff Weiner will remain CEO of LinkedIn, reporting to Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft. Reid Hoffman, chairman of the board, co-founder and controlling shareholder of LinkedIn, and Weiner both fully support this transaction. The transaction is expected to close this calendar year.

That’s a lot of money but it seems like an obvious fit. Also, Nadella was probably tired of getting all those LinkedIn emails.

Apple File System 


HFS+ and its predecessor HFS are more than 30 years old. These file systems were developed in an era of floppy disks and spinning hard drives, where file sizes were calculated in kilobytes or megabytes. Today, solid-state drives store millions of files, accounting for gigabytes or terabytes of data. There is now also a greater importance placed on keeping sensitive information secure and safe from prying eyes.

A new file system is needed to meet the current needs of Apple products, and support new technologies for decades to come.

Remove Built-in Apps From the Home Screen on Your iOS Device With iOS 10 Beta 

iOS is growing up.

Update: More on this from Sarah Perez, writing at TechCrunch.

What’s New in WatchOS 3.0 

Big (and much-needed) changes to the entire UI concept.

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 

Jason Snell:

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 options.

I confirmed with Apple today that free trials are definitely an option for any app that is approved for subscription pricing.

Another Hint at ‘macOS’ Rebranding of OS X 

Chance Miller, 9to5Mac:

It’s widely expected at this point that Apple will rebrand Mac OS X to simply ‘macOS’ next week at WWDC, but hidden in today’s announcements regarding the App Store was yet another hint at the change. In a FAQ from on the iTunes Connect website, Apple mistakenly refers to Mac OS X as ‘macOS,’ again prematurely hinting at the change.

The previous instance that leaked styled it “MacOS”, not “macOS”.

Apple: App Store Search Ads 

Straight from the horse’s mouth. Apple’s elevator pitch: “Effective, efficient, and private.”

Motion Stills – New App From Google Creates Animated GIFs From Live Photos 

Ken Conley and Matthias Grundmann, from Google Research:

Today we are releasing Motion Stills, an iOS app from Google Research that acts as a virtual camera operator for your Apple Live Photos. We use our video stabilization technology to freeze the background into a still photo or create sweeping cinematic pans. The resulting looping GIFs and movies come alive, and can easily be shared via messaging or on social media.

The before-and-afters are impressive. John Nack has a few more examples on his blog. Google is creating some interesting iOS apps lately, and in this case they’ve solved a problem Apple probably should have solved — making it easy to share Live Photos on social media and the web.

(The comments are a hoot, too — Android users complaining that this is an iOS app, not an Android one, even though Android doesn’t have Live Photos.)


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 milestones.

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.

‘The Man Who Has No Imagination Has No Wings’ 

Nice tribute to Muhammad Ali on Apple’s home page.

The Talk Show: ‘Yo, Dingus’ 

Merlin Mann returns to the show to talk about artificial intelligence and Eddy Cue’s flip-flops.

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(The annual live audience episode of The Talk Show will take place Tuesday, 14 June 2016, 6–9 PM at Mezzanine in San Francisco. Half of the tickets are on sale now sold out; the second half will go on sale Monday at 3p ET / noon PT. Video of the event will stream live, and a good time will be had by all.)

Muhammad Ali Dies at 74: Titan of Boxing and the 20th Century 

Wonderful coverage of Ali’s remarkable life from The New York Times. You can lose yourself for hours watching footage of his fights and interviews on YouTube. Truly, he was the greatest of all time. A living, breathing superhero.


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 language. […]

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 learning.

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’ 

Rene Ritchie:

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.

Mary Meeker’s 2016 Internet Trends Report 

Meeker’s annual report is much-celebrated and her track record on these reports is simply amazing — but I find a 238-slide deck to be a terrible way to communicate. There’s gold in here, but damn if it isn’t misery to find it. It’s like having to sit through an interminable PowerPoint presentation by yourself. It’s better just to watch the video of her presentation.

A few things I spotted:

  • Slide 45 — On money spent by advertisers vs. time spent by people, print is still over-represented (by tradition) and mobile is still under-represented (novelty).
  • Slide 99 — Meeker’s list of monthly active users for messaging services doesn’t include iMessage. I think it should.
  • The series of slides starting at 111: “Re-imagining human/computer interfaces — voice and transportation”.
Chinese Government Issues Theme Park Etiquette Guide After Shanghai Disneyland Is Trashed 

Ken Storey, reporting for Orlando Weekly:

After an incredibly rough opening that included children defecating in the bushes and people carving graffiti on lampposts, the Chinese government has now issued an etiquette guide for visitors of Shanghai Disneyland. […]

The six rules include; throwing garbage into trash cans, protecting public property, don’t damage flowers or gardens, don’t lay down on the grass, don’t jump queues, and to overall “maintain decorum” (that means no Brazilian soccer chanting in line).

At this point, the guide is simply that, a guide, but there has been some talk in Shanghai of keeping records of violators and “public shaming.”


Paul Thurrott: Microsoft’s Upgrade Deceptions Are Undermining Windows 10 

Paul Thurrott:

Last week, Microsoft silently changed Get Windows 10 yet again. And this time, it has gone beyond the social engineering scheme that has been fooling people into inadvertently upgrading to Windows 10 for months. This time, it actually changed the behavior of the window that appears so that if you click the “Close” window box, you are actually agreeing to the upgrade. Without you knowing what just happened.

Previously, closing this window would correctly signal that you do not want the upgrade. So Microsoft didn’t change the wording in the window. It didn’t make an “Upgrade now” button bigger, or a non-existent “don’t ever upgrade” button smaller. It pulled a switcheroonie. It’s like going out to your car in the morning and discovering that the gas pedal now applies the brakes, while the brake pedal washes the windshield. Have a fun commute!

Continuing decades-long proof that the grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence.

Mark Gurman Is Leaving 9to5Mac 

Dave Smith, writing for Tech Insider:

9to5Mac founder Seth Weintraub told Tech Insider the move from 9to5Mac was “amicable” and “years in the works.”

Neither Weintraub nor Gurman could confirm where Gurman would be working next, or what his role will be, but Weintraub did say he would be working for a big name media publication. Gurman also confirmed plans to move to San Francisco to start his new gig, which will still include reporting and breaking news about Apple, among other companies. He will officially start work in July. […]

Gurman said the move was about exposure and pursuing new opportunities. Weintraub added that his 9to5 brand, while big and growing, doesn’t “offer the wider breadth of industry coverage and TV opportunities that Mark deserves.”

Based on the above description, a lot of people are guessing CNBC. I bet that’s because they forget that Bloomberg has a TV channel.

Update, a few hours later: Like I said, Bloomberg. Was not a very well-kept secret amongst us gossipy media types.