Linked List: June 2017

The WSJ: ‘How the iPhone Was Born: Inside Stories of Missteps and Triumphs’ 

Ten-minute video from The Wall Street Journal with new interviews from Scott Forstall, Greg Christie, and Tony Fadell on the creation of the original iPhone. Great stuff.

Fraser Speirs: ‘Can a Laptop Replace Your iPad?’ 

Fraser Speirs, back in 2015:

Firstly, consider the hardware. The huge issue with the MacBook Pro is its form factor. The fact that the keyboard and screen are limited to being held in an L-shaped configuration seriously limits its flexibility. It is basically impossible to use a MacBook pro while standing up and downright dangerous to use when walking around. Your computing is limited to times when you are able to find somewhere to sit down.

Brilliant, and particularly apt this week. As I pointed out the first time I linked to it, the original title for the piece says it all: “If Journalists Reviewed Macs Like iPads”.

From the DF Archive: iPhone First Impressions 

My thoughts and first impressions of the original iPhone from 10 years ago:

Real-time dragging is such a priority that if the iPhone can’t keep up and render what you’re dragging in real-time, it won’t even try, and you get a checkerboard pattern reminiscent of a transparent Photoshop layer until it catches up (typically, an instant later). I.e. iPhone prioritizes drag animation over the rendering of the contents; feel over appearance.

This was a profound change in priorities from the Mac. In the early years of Mac OS X, Mac hardware wasn’t powerful enough to render the Aqua user interface. Scrolling was slow, and when you resized windows, it felt really slow, because the interface was trying to keep up. The OS tried its best to render everything in real-time even if it couldn’t.

The original iPhone likewise wasn’t powerful enough to render the user interface, notably while scrolling long web pages. Rather than try to keep up, the iPhone would just show that checkboard, which could scroll as fast as your fingers could swipe. Prioritizing feeling fast over visual fidelity made the experience better. One of many brilliant decisions by the original iPhone team, and I suspect a lesson learned from Mac OS X’s debut half a decade earlier.

I’ve always had strong feelings on the design of note-taking apps:

Notes: The weakest app on the iPhone. Cosmetically, it’s a train wreck. The entire iPhone UI is set in one typeface — Helvetica — and it’s gorgeous. But Notes, in a lame attempt to be “friendly”, displays a UI that looks like a pad of yellow legal paper, and uses the handwriting-esque Marker Felt as the font for note text. This is not adjustable. Marker Felt is silly, ugly, and worst of all, hard to read.

How Lightspeed Venture Partners Responded to Partner Justin Caldbeck’s Alleged Behavior 

Dan Primack, reporting for Axios:

When Stitch Fix founder Katrina Lake told Lightspeed Venture Partners, an early investor in her company, that (then) Lightspeed partner Justin Caldbeck had sexually harassed her, the firm asked her to sign a non-disparagement agreement. Not signing, a source suggests, could have endangered her entire company’s future. So she signed, and remained silent about her experience.

Why it matters: Lightspeed today tweeted that it regrets not taking “stronger action” when it learned of Caldbeck’s alleged behavior. Lake signed the non-disparagement clause while Stitch Fix was trying to raise money — which it eventually did in a round led by top-tier VC firm Benchmark. Lightspeed could have blocked that investment.

Let me get this straight: Lightspeed now says “we regret we did not take stronger action”, but at the time, the only action they did take was to encourage Caldbeck’s accuser to sign a legal agreement to keep her mouth shut?

Translation: We regret that this has come to light.

Ends, Means, and Antitrust 

Ben Thompson on the European Commission’s €2.42 billion fine levied on Google for anti-competitive behavior:

The United States and European Union have, at least since the Reagan Administration, differed on this point: the U.S. is primarily concerned with consumer welfare, and the primary proxy is price. In other words, as long as prices do not increase — or even better, decrease — there is, by definition, no illegal behavior.

The European Commission, on the other hand, is explicitly focused on competition: monopolistic behavior is presumed to be illegal if it restricts competitors which, in the theoretical long run, hurts consumers by restricting innovation.

This is quite obviously true — best exemplified by, as Thompson himself writes, “the absurdity of the U.S. Justice Department successfully suing Apple for building a competitor to Amazon, the actual e-book monopolist.” That decision was entirely about the retail price of e-books.

But on the surface doesn’t this feel backwards? Shouldn’t the U.S. — the country where free-market capitalism is effectively a religion — be the country that values competition above all else? With genuine competition, fair prices should naturally result. Competition is the cause, fair prices are the effect. With a monopolist like Amazon that strategically keeps prices artificially low (Amazon sold bestselling e-books for $9.99 at a loss), not only does competition not follow as a result, the predatory pricing is the cause and lack of competition is the effect.

U.S. antitrust policy is blinded by the assumption that a monopolist’s only goal is to raise prices.

Glenn Fleishman on HEVC and HEIF 

Glenn Fleishman, writing for TidBITS:

If you haven’t already experienced abbreviation overload, Apple has added two more to your plate: HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding) and HEIF (High Efficiency Image File Format — yes, it’s short one F). These two new formats will be used by iOS 11 and macOS 10.13 High Sierra when Apple releases them later this year.

While you may never have heard of HEVC or HEIF before, both are attempts to solve a set of problems related to video and still images. As people take photos and shoot video at increasingly higher resolutions and better quality, storage and bandwidth start to become limitations. Even in this day of ever-cheaper and ever-faster everything, consuming less storage space and requiring less bandwidth when syncing or streaming still has many positive aspects.

Motherboard: ‘The Life, Death, and Legacy of iPhone Jailbreaking’ 

Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai and Brian Merchant, writing for Motherboard:

Ten years after the iPhone hit the sleek tables of Apple Stores worldwide, and the first-ever jailbreak, that Wild West is gone. There’s now a professionalized, multi-million dollar industry of iPhone security research. It’s a world where jailbreaking itself — at least jailbreaking as we’ve come to know it — might be over.

iPhone: The Bet Steve Jobs Didn’t Decline 


Suppose you were the CEO of Apple in 2005 when a couple of intergalactic visitors with time-warping technology offered you this bet:

Design and manufacture a small mobile device that seamlessly combines the functionalities of a cellular phone, a web surfer, an audio/video player and a small PC, and your company will double its market cap and establish a third mass-market computing platform after Windows and Macintosh.

Would you take it?

Before you say, “Are you nuts, why wouldn’t I?” ponder just a few of the issues involved.

Remarkably prescient — Kontra wrote this back in 2008, but it reads like it was written with today’s hindsight.

‘Not Even Wrong’ 

Love this piece by Benedict Evans last month:

First of all, it’s quite common, especially in enterprise technology, for something to propose a new way to solve an existing problem. It can’t be used to solve the problem in the old way, so ‘it doesn’t work’, and proposes a new way, and so ‘no-one will want that’. This is how generational shifts work - first you try to force the new tool to fit the old workflow, and then the new tool creates a new workflow. Both parts are painful and full of denial, but the new model is ultimately much better than the old. The example I often give here is of a VP of Something or Other in a big company who every month downloads data from an internal system into a CSV, imports that into Excel and makes charts, pastes the charts into PowerPoint and makes slides and bullets, and then emails the PPT to 20 people. Tell this person that they could switch to Google Docs and they’ll laugh at you; tell them that they could do it on an iPad and they’ll fall off their chair laughing. But really, that monthly PowerPoint status report should be a live SaaS dashboard that’s always up-to-date, machine learning should trigger alerts for any unexpected and important changes, and the 10 meg email should be a Slack channel. Now ask them again if they want an iPad.

Joanna Stern Tries to Spend a Week Using an Original iPhone 

She lasted 12 hours.

‘Dear Craig Hockenberry. Please Write Twitterrific for iPhone.’ 

Ten years ago today, just four hours after walking out of the Apple Store at the King of Prussia Mall with my original iPhone (and just an hour or so after I finally got the damn thing activated through AT&T’s overwhelmed servers), I wanted native third-party apps. Not sure what in the world made me write “kthnxbye”, but I wanted a native Twitter client.

(Thanks to Joe Chott for reminding me about this tweet.)

Bloomberg Is Really Shitting the Bed Lately 

Bloomberg caused a huge stir (Hertz stock shot to a two-year high their largest one-day gain in over two years on the “news”) with this report yesterday by Alex Webb and David Welch:

Apple Inc. is leasing a small fleet of cars from Hertz Global Holdings Inc. to test self-driving technology, an agreement that echoes a larger deal between competitors Alphabet Inc. and Avis Budget Group Inc. Hertz shares soared the most in almost two years.

A few hours later CNBC uncovered the scope of this lease:

Sources familiar with the situation told CNBC that Apple is leasing six cars from a Hertz subsidiary for autonomous software testing.

Six whole cars!

And then Apple confirmed to CNBC that the company is simply leasing six cars, and there is no partnership with Hertz.

The Alphabet/Avis deal is a genuine partnership, involving over 600 vehicles. There is no “echo” of that partnership in Apple’s having leased six cars.

European Commission Fines Google €2.42 Billion for Abuse of Web Search Monopoly 

The European Commission:

The European Commission has fined Google €2.42 billion for breaching EU antitrust rules. Google has abused its market dominance as a search engine by giving an illegal advantage to another Google product, its comparison shopping service.

The company must now end the conduct within 90 days or face penalty payments of up to 5% of the average daily worldwide turnover of Alphabet, Google’s parent company.

The euro and dollar remain roughly in balance — that’s about $2.7 billion today. My guess is Google just shrugs this off, pays the fine, and goes right back to promoting its own stuff in search results. (E.g. they favor their own local business listings over, say, Yelp’s.)

Using Today’s Web Without JavaScript 

Sonniesedge turned off JavaScript completely in her browser and tested how a bunch of major websites looked. Many of them were simply blank. But The New York Times worked:

The NY Times site loads in 561 ms and 957 KB without JavaScript. Holy crap, that’s what it should be like normally. For reference it took 12,000 ms (12 seconds) and 4000 KB (4 MB) to load with JavaScript. Oh, and as a bonus, you get a screenful of adverts.

A lot of images are lazy loaded, and so don’t work, getting replaced with funky loading icons. But hey ho, I can still read the stories.

Again I say: the web would be better off if browsers had never added support for scripting. Every site on the web would load in under a second.

WWDC 2017’s Accessibility News 

Steven Aquino, writing for TechCrunch:

Enhanced Dynamic Type. As mentioned at the outset, Apple has put in a lot of work to optimize how Dynamic Type handles itself at its largest sizes. New this year are options for even larger sizes that smartly adapt to various user interfaces. The Dynamic Type API, available for third-party developers to hook up to their apps, has been updated to take advantage of this new capability.

I can’t say enough good things about Dynamic Type — and that’s before the improvements in iOS 11. I need text to be a click or two bigger than the default size on my iPhone. What I love about Dynamic Type is that it doesn’t look like a special “big type for bad eyes” mode. It just looks normal, but with larger type. You don’t have to give up the aesthetic satisfaction of having everything look just right in order to have larger type that you can read.

Jean-Louis Gassée: ‘Apple Culture After Ten Years of iPhone’ 

Jean-Louis Gassée:

Let’s see if we can bring these unimaginable quantities into a manipulable picture.

During the most recent Xmas quarter, Apple sold slightly fewer than 80 million iPhones, about 900,000 a day. Obligingly, a day has 86,400 seconds, so we round up to 90,000 to get a production yield of ten iPhones per second.

But producing a phone isn’t instantaneous, it isn’t like the click of the shutter in a high-speed camera. Let’s assume that it takes about 15 minutes (rounded up to 1,000 seconds) to assemble a single iPhone. How many parallel production pipes need to accumulate ten phones a second? 1,000 divided by 1/10 equals… 10,000! Ten thousand parallel pipes in order to output ten phones per second.

We can juggle the numbers, but it’s still difficult to comprehend the scale and complexity of the iPhone production machine, to build a reliable mental representation.

Did the unimaginable iPhone production process change Apple? With numbers so large, how could it not?

I find it very hard to comprehend the scope of the iPhone’s scale.

Kill Sticky Headers (a.k.a. Dickbars) Bookmarklet 

Brilliantly simple bookmarklet by Alisdair McDiarmid:

There is currently a trend for using sticky headers on websites. There’s even a sticky header web startup.

I hate sticky headers. I want to kill sticky headers.

So I made this bookmarklet.

If you hate dickbars like I do, you should install this bookmarklet. Works great on both desktop and mobile. Here’s how it works:

The bookmarklet just finds all fixed-position elements on the page, and removes them. This might remove the navigation, but if you need it back, just hit refresh. That’s why I created a bookmarklet and not a custom user-stylesheet or browser plugin: this is the simplest way to solve the problem.

Dickbars Don’t Work 

Josh Clark, back in March:

Hey, please, under no circumstances should you pin social buttons to the top or bottom of mobile screens. In an effort to try to boost mobile use of share buttons, experimented with fixing them to screen bottom and separately to screen top, so that the buttons were always visible when scrolling. While this did modestly increase share-button usage, it also caused overall session engagement to go down.

You read that right: adding a locked toolbar to the small-screen experience shortened sessions and reduced page views. The very small increase in share-button usage was far outweighed by reduced site usage. (I can’t explain why this is the case, but I’ve seen it elsewhere with locked toolbars, too. They chase small-screen users away.)

Read the whole article. First, Clark’s advice is based on actual results, not just opinion and hunches (like mine). Second, he doesn’t advise against ever showing custom sharing buttons — but he does say only to show them to visitors coming from social media referrals. And but even then, don’t put them in fixed position dickbars.

As for why dickbars actually decrease site usage, I think the answer is obvious: when people see user-hostile fixed position bars at the top and/or bottom of their display, especially on phones, they’re annoyed, and the easiest way to eliminate the annoyance is to close the fucking tab and move on to something that isn’t annoying.

The Talk Show: ‘I Do Like Throwing a Baby’ 

New episode of America’s favorite 3-star podcast, with special guest John Moltz. Topics include more follow-up from WWDC 2017, the iPad Pro models and ProMotion, Scott Forstall’s interview with John Markoff regarding the 10-year anniversary of the original iPhone, the ongoing shitshow at Uber, quick thoughts on the Nintendo Switch, and more. Also: guess which John enjoys throwing babies into the air.

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Virgin Mobile Partners With Apple to Go iPhone-Only With $1 Service 

Josh Centers, writing for TidBITS on Virgin Mobile’s intriguing decision to go iPhone-only:

Pundits have long suspected that two roadblocks stood in the way of Apple becoming a carrier: the infrastructure is incredibly expensive, even if you lease it from the larger carriers, and Apple could limit the iPhone business if it were to compete with the major carriers.

But Apple has sidestepped those concerns by essentially taking over a carrier (actually a carrier-owned MVNO — Mobile Virtual Network Operator) without acquiring it. Apple may not own Virgin Mobile, but Virgin Mobile is now utterly dependent on Apple and will benefit through promotion in Apple Stores.

We shouldn’t read too much into this deal, but at the very least it’s unusual to see a company like Virgin Mobile going all-in on the iPhone. And it might point toward Apple dipping its toe into the MVNO business.

Virgin Mobile is owned by Sprint (and thus uses Sprint’s back-end), and in my experience Sprint is the worst of the U.S. carriers, so this is not a panacea. But it is intriguing.

The Verge: ‘Apple’s AR Is Closer to Reality Than Google’s’ 

Two great examples via the very fun Made With ARKit Twitter account: here and here.

Rene Ritchie’s First Look at the iOS 11 Public Beta 

Rene Ritchie has a comprehensive look at the just-released public beta of iOS 11. Romain Dillet has a good preview at TechCrunch too. The gist of both previews: it’s the “I hope Apple truly focuses on the iPad this year” release of iOS that we’ve been waiting for.

I’ve been using the developer betas on my 10.5-inch iPad Pro review unit and a spare iPhone. I’m willing to wait to install iOS 11 on my primary iPhone, but at this point, bugs be damned, I wouldn’t want to use an iPad running iOS 10.3. It’s stable enough, and the benefits of the great new features for iPad far outweigh the downsides of the beta (which, in addition to crashing bugs, include questionable battery life).

Amazon’s New Echo Show Is Very Cool and a Little Creepy 

Mat Honan, writing for BuzzFeed:

It has this wild new feature called Drop In. Drop In lets you give people permission to automatically connect with your device. Here’s how it works. Let’s say my father has activated Drop In for me on his Echo Show. All I have to do is say, “Alexa, drop in on Dad.” It then turns on the microphone and camera on my father’s device and starts broadcasting that to me. For the several seconds of the call, my father’s video screen would appear fogged over. But then there he’ll be. And to be clear: This happens even if he doesn’t answer. Unless he declines the call, audibly or by tapping on the screen, it goes through. It just starts. Hello, you look nice today.

Honestly, I haven’t figured out what to think about this yet. But, it’s here.

I know what to think of this: No fucking way do I want this.

Update: I’ve already gotten a few reader responses arguing that this feature could be great for an Echo Show in the home of an elderly relative. You visit and set it up in their house, explain to them what it does, and then you can check in with them without their needing to do anything at all. I can see that. You can think of it as the digital equivalent of having a set of keys to someone’s house — something you’d only grant to a deeply trusted friend or loved one.

Verizon to Block Email Addresses From Rival Carriers From Logging Into Yahoo or Tumblr Accounts 

From a Tumblr help document euphemistically titled “Heads-Up for AT&T Customers”:

Starting on June 30, 2017, customers will no longer be able to log in to their Yahoo and Tumblr accounts through email addresses with the following domains:,,,,,,,,,, and

The sheer egregiousness of this is outrageous on its face, but it’s even worse when you consider that Tumblr, when it was independent, was a champion for net neutrality.

Update: TechCrunch says it’s just a deal expiring, not spite:

As part of the new corporate merger of Yahoo and Aol under the Oath brand, it looks like Yahoo accounts will no longer be accessible through AT&T email addresses (or those of any A&T subsidiaries).

The move provoked some uproar among net neutrality advocates, but it seems to be less about creating walled gardens and more about cleaning up prior commitments and pre-existing partnerships. While there is a level of inconvenience for AT&T customers, this is less about net neutrality and more about unwinding those corporate deals.

I still say fuck Verizon and their stance on net neutrality.

Trump’s Lies, the Definitive List 

Copiously documented and perfectly presented. Looked striking in the print edition, too.

Delta Updates and App Thinning Do Not Solve the Apps-Are-Too-Damn-Big Problem 

Matt Birchler:

“App thinning” is not a magic bullet that erases this problem though, as Facebook Messenger, which shows as being 154 MB, still downloaded 99 MB of data for its update. [...]

So are giant app sizes a problem? Yes. Do delta updates allow these updates to use less data? Yes. Do delta updates make these large apps a non-issue? Hell no!

Mnml – A Mac Client for Medium 

My thanks to Mnml for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. It’s a native Mac app client for Medium, and can be used for writing, blogging, and notetaking. Based upon the same engine that twice won Desk “Best Apps of the Year” honors, Mnml has all the features you’ll need, wrapped in an attractive, fun – and yes, minimal – interface. Anyone who writes for Medium and prefers native client apps should check it out.

Scott Galloway on Amazon and Whole Foods 

Scott Galloway:

Amazon / Whole Foods will be the fourth-largest grocer in the US, and will likely post growth rates no $10B+ retailer, sans Amazon, has registered. The Seattle firm will apply its operational chops and lower (zero) profit hurdle to the Whole Foods business model and bring prices (way) down. If you wish you could shop at Whole Foods more often, but it’s too expensive, your prayers have been answered. Whole Foods will become the grocery equivalent of a Mercedes for the price of a Toyota. Grocery has stuck their chin out (little innovation), and the entire sector is about to have its jaw shattered.

It’s a great piece. I disagree with him on this though:

Amazon will displace Apple as the top tech hardware innovator, with Alexa cementing itself as the gadget that defines the decade (post iPhone). Grocery / commerce via Alexa will create the utility that Alexa needs to [maintain its lead] over Google and Apple’s home / voice offerings as they try to play catch-up.

Alexa may well maintain its lead in the smart speaker market. It may even grow. Maybe HomePod will be a complete bust. But even if all of that happens, the smartphone will remain the dominant device in people’s lives. Something will eventually replace the phone, but smart speakers aren’t it.

Hardware just isn’t where Amazon is good.

Google Will Stop Reading Your Emails for Gmail Ads 

Mark Bergen, reporting for Bloomberg:

Google is stopping one of the most controversial advertising formats: ads inside Gmail that scan users’ email contents. The decision didn’t come from Google’s ad team, but from its cloud unit, which is angling to sign up more corporate customers.

Alphabet Inc.’s Google Cloud sells a package of office software, called G Suite, that competes with market leader Microsoft Corp. Paying Gmail users never received the email-scanning ads like the free version of the program, but some business customers were confused by the distinction and its privacy implications, said Diane Greene, Google’s senior vice president of cloud. “What we’re going to do is make it unambiguous,” she said.

This is terrific news. Not just because it’s a good policy change in and of itself, but I take it as a sign that Google’s leadership is starting to realize how much damage they’ve done to the company’s reputation by playing fast and loose with their users’ privacy.

Who Americans Spend Their Time With 

Via Jim Coudal, who summarizes this perfectly: “Poetry, in data”.

Kevin Drum’s Thoughtful Critique of Trumpcare 

A succinct rundown of what’s wrong with the Senate Republicans’ “health care” bill.

Nintendo: Switch Shortages Are ‘Definitely Not Intentional’ 

Kyle Orland, reporting for Ars Technica:

Since the days of the NES, people have accused Nintendo of intentionally underproducing hardware in order to drive an artificial feeding frenzy of demand in the marketplace. With the Nintendo Switch remaining nearly impossible to find at retailers nationwide, those same accusations of “false scarcity” have been bubbling up in certain corners.

Nintendo Senior Director of Corporate Communications Charlie Scibetta wants to push back on those accusations. “It’s definitely not intentional in terms of shorting the market,” he told Ars in a recent interview. “We’re making it as fast as we can. We want to get as many units out as we can to support all the software that’s coming out right now... our job really is to get it out as quick as we can, especially for this holiday because we want to have units on shelves to support Super Mario Odyssey.”

How to Build Smaller Apps 

Ben Sandofsky:

Popular social networking apps are over 400 megs. With weekly releases, over one year you’ll download twenty gigs of data.

Since we launched Halide, the most unexpected compliment we’ve heard is about its size. At 11 megs, we’ll push less data in one year than a social network pushes in a single update.

“So you aren’t using Swift,” asked a friend. After all, Swift bundles its standard libraries into your app, bloating its size. Halide is almost entirely Swift. How did we do it? Let’s start with the technical bits.

His conclusion is spot-on:

There really is one weird trick to lose size: focus on your customers.

Bad App Citizens 

Jon Darke:

This got me thinking — as a user who has a lot of apps installed, how much bandwidth does my phone use to keep my apps updated? [...]

One Friday I turned off auto-update for apps and let the update queue build up for a week. The results shocked me.

It’s getting to the point where most apps can’t be updated over cellular because they’re all over 100 MB. This is madness.

Update: Many readers have written to argue that the listed sizes in the App Store aren’t what you actually download when updating an app, thanks to app thinning and other features. OK, but even with app thinning and delta updates these apps are still way too big as downloads and take up way too much storage on devices.

More Than 1,000 Uber Employees Ask for Travis Kalanick to Return 

Dan Primack, reporting for Axios:

More than one thousand current Uber employees have signed a letter to the company’s board of directors, asking for the return of deposed CEO Travis Kalanick “in an operational role.” One of its venture capital investors also is chiming in, with a similar message.

Not surprising to me at all — Uber was made in Kalanick’s image.

Kara Swisher: ‘Susan Fowler Proved That One Person Can Make a Difference’ 

Kara Swisher:

It was Lao Tzu who said that “the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

In the case of complete and utter change reeling through Uber right now — culminating in the resignation of its once untouchable CEO Travis Kalanick — it turns out that it began with one of the most epic blog posts to be written about what happens when a hot company becomes hostage to its increasingly dysfunctional and toxic behaviors.

It was clear from the moment you read the 3,000-word post by former engineer Susan Fowler about her time at the car-hailing company that nothing was going to be the same. Titled simply, “Reflecting on one very, very strange year at Uber,” the essay deftly and surgically laid out the map that the media and others would use to prove to its out-to-lunch board and waffling investors that Uber CEO Travis Kalanick had to go.

The truth and courage are a powerful combination.

Gizmodo Investigation Exposes Websites Collecting Form Data Before You Hit ‘Submit’ 

Great investigative work by Kashmir Hill and Surya Mattu for Gizmodo:

During a recent investigation into how a drug-trial recruitment company called Acurian Health tracks down people who look online for information about their medical conditions, we discovered NaviStone’s code on sites run by Acurian, Quicken Loans, a continuing education center, a clothing store for plus-sized women, and a host of other retailers. Using Javascript, those sites were transmitting information from people as soon as they typed or auto-filled it into an online form. That way, the company would have it even if those people immediately changed their minds and closed the page. [...]

We decided to test how the code works by pretending to shop on sites that use it and then browsing away without finalizing the purchase. Three sites — hardware site, gift site, and clothing site — sent us emails about items we’d left in our shopping carts using the email addresses we’d typed onto the site but had not formally submitted. Although Gizmodo was able to see the email address information being sent to Navistone, the company said that it was not responsible for those emails.

They weren’t responsible for sending the emails, but they were responsible for the email addresses being sent to those websites in the first place. Sending form data surreptitiously is morally wrong, and everyone knows it.

This might sound hyperbolic, but I mean it: I think we’d be better off if JavaScript had never been added to web browsers.

Uber’s Biggest Problem: Its Business Model 

Christopher Mims, in his column for The Wall Street Journal:

But even when it steers through that thicket of crises, Uber will have to come to grips with a fundamental vulnerability that is increasingly apparent in the company’s business model. Uber may be great at technology, but unlike the businesses of Google, Facebook, Apple or Amazon, technology hasn’t proven to be a significant barrier to new entrants in ride-sharing. Across the globe, Uber has dozens of competitors, and in many markets they have grabbed the lion’s share of the ride-sharing market.

Even if Uber fixes all of its current problems, it’s increasingly unlikely that it can live up to the inflated expectations that come with the nearly $70 billion valuation that have made it the world’s most valuable startup. There are barbarians at Uber’s gate, and it’s sorely in need of a moat.

This is why they’re pursuing self-driving technology so aggressively. There’s simply no way that Uber is worth $70 billion without some sort of exclusive technical advantage. That’s the interesting flip side to Kalanick’s ouster — I’m not sure who would want the job.

Chris Lattner on His Stint at Tesla 

Chris Lattner has updated his resume with his accomplishments at Tesla. Unsurprisingly, it sounds like he got a lot done in just five months — including, ironically, addressing an engineering talent retention problem.

Inside Travis Kalanick’s Resignation 

Mike Isaac, reporting for The New York Times:

Travis Kalanick’s final hours as Uber’s chief executive played out in a private room in a downtown Chicago hotel on Tuesday.

There, Mr. Kalanick, who was on a trip to interview executive candidates for Uber, was paid a surprise visit. Two venture capitalists — Matt Cohler and Peter Fenton of the Silicon Valley firm Benchmark, which is one of Uber’s biggest shareholders — presented Mr. Kalanick with a list of demands, including his resignation before the end of the day. The letter was from five of Uber’s major investors, including Benchmark and the mutual fund giant Fidelity Investments. [...]

By the end of the day, after hours of haggling and arguing, that course was clear: Mr. Kalanick agreed to step down as Uber’s chief executive.

Truly great reporting from Isaac, including the fact that even during his brief “leave of absence”, he wasn’t really absent at all:

In reality, Mr. Kalanick had little intention of staying away from his company. Almost immediately after announcing the leave of absence, he worked the phones to push out Mr. Bonderman for making the sexist comment onstage at an Uber employee meeting. With the two increasingly at odds, Mr. Kalanick sent out a flurry of texts, phone calls and emails to his allies to pressure Mr. Bonderman to step down from Uber’s board. Hours later, Mr. Bonderman did.

Narrative Maps for ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ Books 

Sarah Laskow, writing for Atlas Obscura:

The last installment of the original “Choose Your Own Adventure” series came out in 1998, but since 2004, Chooseco, founded by one of the series’ original authors, R.A. Montgomery, has been republishing classic volumes, as well as new riffs on the form of interactive fiction that seemed ubiquitous in the 1980s and ’90s. The new editions also carry an additional feature — maps of the hidden structure of each book.

Just looking at the maps included in the article, it’s interesting how wildly varying in complexity these stories were. See also: Christian Swinehart’s color-coded graphical representations of these books.

(Via Kottke.)

John Markoff’s Interview With Scott Forstall and Members of the Original iPhone Team 

The Computer History Museum (now on YouTube):

Museum Historian John Markoff moderates a discussion with former iPhone team members Hugo Fiennes, Nitin Ganatra and Scott Herz, followed by a conversation with Scott Forstall.

Fascinating stories.

Forstall was great. It’s hard to believe he’s been out of Apple and out of the limelight for 5 years — watching him on stage with Markoff it feels like he never left.

‘Four Things in Those Two Sentences’ 

Kara Swisher on Travis Kalanick:

Uber confirmed the resignation, and the company’s board issued a statement that said, in part: “Travis has always put Uber first. This is a bold decision and a sign of his devotion and love for Uber.” (For those who don’t speak fluent tech director, there are four things in those two sentences that are not true.)

Uber Founder Travis Kalanick Resigns as C.E.O. 

Mike Isaac, reporting for The New York Times:

In the letter, titled “Moving Uber Forward” and obtained by The New York Times, the investors wrote to Mr. Kalanick that he must immediately leave and that the company needed a change in leadership. Mr. Kalanick, 40, consulted with at least one Uber board member, and after long discussions with some of the investors, he agreed to step down. He will remain on Uber’s board of directors.

“I love Uber more than anything in the world and at this difficult moment in my personal life I have accepted the investors request to step aside so that Uber can go back to building rather than be distracted with another fight,” Mr. Kalanick said in a statement.

From the outside, it seems like this was inevitable. It was only a question of when.

Chris Lattner Out at Tesla 

Chris Lattner:

Turns out that Tesla isn’t a good fit for me after all. I’m interested to hear about interesting roles for a seasoned engineering leader!

That was quick — he was only hired 5 months ago.

The Outline: ‘Inside Apple’s Global War on Leakers’ 

William Turton has quite a scoop for The Outline:

A recording of an internal briefing at Apple earlier this month obtained by The Outline sheds new light on how far the most valuable company in the world will go to prevent leaks about new products. [...]

The briefing, which offers a revealing window into the company’s obsession with secrecy, was the first of many Apple is planning to host for employees. In it, Rice and Freedman speak candidly about Apple’s efforts to prevent leaks, discuss how previous leakers got caught, and take questions from the approximately 100 attendees.

There’s some irony in a leaked recording of an internal briefing on stopping leaks.

This is news to me:

However, Rice says, Apple has cracked down on leaks from its factories so successfully that more breaches are now happening on Apple’s campuses in California than its factories abroad. “Last year was the first year that Apple [campuses] leaked more than the supply chain,” Rice tells the room. “More stuff came out of Apple [campuses] last year than all of our supply chain combined.” [...]

In the years since Tim Cook pledged to double down on secrecy, Rice’s team has gotten better at safeguarding enclosures. “In 2014 we had 387 enclosures stolen,” he says. “In 2015 we had 57 enclosures stolen, 50 of which were stolen on the night of announce, which was so painful.” In 2016, Rice says the company produced 65 million housings, and only four were stolen. “So it’s about a one in 16 million loss ratio, which is unheard of in the industry.”

There’s a short (15 minute) podcast that accompanies the report, with Turton and The Outline’s Adrianne Jeffries. It’s worth a listen. (It doesn’t seem possible to link directly to a single episode of their podcast, so here’s a direct link for Overcast users.)

The Talk Show: ‘Egg Freckles’ 

New episode of my podcast, The Talk Show, with special guest Serenity Caldwell. We look back at WWDC 2017 — iOS 11, the new iPad Pro models, MacOS 10.13 “High Sierra”, updated Mac hardware and a tease at the upcoming iMac Pro, where Apple might go with VR and AR, San Jose as the venue for the event itself, and more.

Sponsored by:

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Microsoft Surface Laptop Teardown 

iFixit gave the Surface Laptop a 0 out of 10 on their “Repairability Score”. The lowest anything from Apple has ever gotten is a 1, I believe.

Verdict: The Surface Laptop is not a laptop. It’s a glue-filled monstrosity. There is nothing about it that is upgradable or long-lasting, and it literally can’t be opened without destroying it. (Show us the procedure, Microsoft, we’d love to be wrong.)

iFixit’s point of view on this is logical, and they’re certainly not alone in wishing for the good old days of user-accessible and user-upgradeable components. But it’s silly to argue that the Surface Laptop is “not a laptop” only because it’s a sealed box. It’s like saying the iPhone is not a phone because it doesn’t have a replaceable battery.

Update: Apple’s AirPods got a 0/10 from iFixit. That just goes to show how little correlation there is between iFixit’s concept of repairability and whether a product is good or not. I consider AirPods to be Apple’s best new product in years.

Standard Ebooks 

Standard Ebooks:

Standard Ebooks is a volunteer driven, not-for-profit project that produces lovingly formatted, open source, and free public domain ebooks.

Ebook projects like Project Gutenberg transcribe ebooks and make them available for the widest number of reading devices. Standard Ebooks takes ebooks from sources like Project Gutenberg, formats and typesets them using a carefully designed and professional-grade style guide, lightly modernizes them, fully proofreads and corrects them, and then builds them to take advantage of state-of-the-art ereader and browser technology. [...]

Other free ebooks don’t put much effort into professional-quality typography: they use "straight" quotes instead of “curly” quotes, they ignore details like em- and en-dashes, and they look more like early-90’s web pages instead of actual books.

The Standard Ebooks project applies a rigorous and modern typography manual when developing each and every ebook to ensure they meet a professional-grade and consistent typographical standard. Our ebooks look good.

What a fantastic project. Project Gutenberg is an amazing library, but their books are a mess typographically. (Via Daniel Bogan.)

The Size of iPhone’s Top Apps Has Increased by 1,000 Percent in Four Years 

Randy Nelson, writing for the Sensor Tower blog:

According to Sensor Tower’s analysis of App Intelligence, the total space required by the top 10 most installed U.S. iPhone apps has grown from 164 MB in May 2013 to about 1.8 GB last month, an 11× or approximately 1,000 percent increase in just four years. In the following report, we delve deeper into which apps have grown the most.

Apple really needs to do something about this. It’s not just that these apps are too big, but some of them issue software updates every week (or even more frequently). It’s a huge waste of bandwidth, time, and on-device storage space.

Microsoft AI Team Achieves Perfect Score on Atari 2600 Ms. Pac-Man 

Dani Deahl writing for The Verge:

At long last, the perfect score for arcade classic Ms. Pac-Man has been achieved, though not by a human. Maluuba — a deep learning team acquired by Microsoft in January — has created an AI system that’s learned how to reach the game’s maximum point value of 999,900 on Atari 2600, using a unique combination of reinforcement learning with a divide-and-conquer method.

Unlike the notoriously bad 2600 port of Pac-Man, the Ms. Pac-Man port was both fun and true to the spirit of the coin-op.

Why Reach Navigation Should Replace the Navbar in iOS Design 

Brad Ellis:

As devices change, our visual language changes with them. It’s time to move away from the navbar in favor of navigation within thumb-reach. For the purposes of this article, we’ll call that Reach Navigation.

This design trend is clearly already underway, and Ellis does a terrific job explaining why it’s a good idea.

I can think of a few factors that led to the original iPhone having a top-of-the-screen UI for navigation. First, at just 3.5 inches diagonally, the whole screen was reachable. But another factor might be as simple as the fact that “navigation” was always at the top on desktops — window titles and controls have always been at the top on Mac and Windows. The iPhone didn’t use windows, per se, but there was a certain familiarity with having the titles and controls like Back/Close/Done buttons at the top. Something like the iOS 10 bottom-heavy design of Apple Maps is wholly different from a desktop UI design — as it should be.

Ben Thompson on Amazon and Whole Foods 

Great piece by Ben Thompson on Amazon’s intended acquisition of Whole Foods:

As Mackey surely understood, this meant that AmazonFresh was at a cost disadvantage to physical grocers as well: in order to be competitive AmazonFresh needed to stock a lot of perishable items; however, as long as AmazonFresh was not operating at meaningful scale a huge number of those perishable items would spoil. And, given the inherent local nature of groceries, scale needed to be achieved not on a national basis but a city one.

Groceries are a fundamentally different problem that need a fundamentally different solution; what is so brilliant about this deal, though, is that it solves the problem in a fundamentally Amazonian way.

Ikea Details Plans for Furniture Placement App Powered by Apple’s ARKit 

Mitchel Broussard:

At WWDC this year, Apple senior vice president of software engineering Craig Federighi performed a demo of the company’s new augmented reality platform, ARKit, while mentioning popular furniture company IKEA as an upcoming partner in the technology. Similarly, Apple CEO Tim Cook referenced an Ikea AR partnership in a recent interview with Bloomberg Businessweek.

Now, Ikea executive Michael Valdsgaard has spoken about the company’s partnership with Apple and ARKit, describing an all-new augmented reality app that will help customers make “reliable buying decisions” for Ikea’s big ticket items.

Very cool idea — probably the sort of thing that’s going to be common soon. I’m curious how much of a leg up ARKit will give iOS on this front.

Squarespace Domains 

My thanks to Squarespace for sponsoring last week’s DF RSS feed. Squarespace handles everything related to creating, hosting, and maintaining a website, including domain name registration.

Buying a domain from Squarespace is quick, simple, and fun. Search for the domain you want, or type any word or phrase into the search field and Squarespace will suggest some great options. Every domain comes with a beautiful, ad-free parking page, WHOIS Privacy, and a 2048-bit SSL certificate to secure your website — all at no additional cost. Once you lock down your domain, create a beautiful website with one of Squarespace’s award-winning templates. Try Squarespace for free. When you’re ready to subscribe, get 10% off at with offer code “DARING17”.

Designing the Worst Volume Sliders Possible 

This is a fun challenge.

John Markoff to Interview Scott Forstall Next Week 

Blockbuster event next week at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View:

How did iPhone come to be? On June 20, four members of the original development team will discuss the secret Apple project, which in the past decade has remade the computer industry, changed the business landscape, and become a tool in the hands of more than a billion people around the world.

Part 1: Original iPhone Engineers Nitin Ganatra, Scott Herz, and Hugo Fiennes in Conversation with John Markoff

Part 2: Original iPhone Software Team Leader Scott Forstall in Conversation with John Markoff

It kills me that I can’t make this. Hopefully there will be video.

Here’s the thing: Forstall was obviously a divisive figure inside Apple. He saw himself as an indispensable man after Steve Jobs died, and it turns out he wasn’t.

But there can be no dispute that Forstall led one of the most successful software projects ever undertaken. It’s a cliche to say that they achieved the impossible, but what Forstall’s team achieved was considered by many — including many of the members of the team — impossible. But they did it, and in the ensuing years they kept making iOS better and better. It’s not just that they managed to ship the original iPhone OS in June 2007, but the entire run up through Forstall’s ouster from the company was simply amazing.

Across the company, it’s clear that Forstall’s style was not popular. But I know many people who worked on his iOS team, and most of them loved working for him, or at the very least appreciated working for him. The thing I’ve heard over and over is that Forstall was incredibly demanding, yes, but if you were on his team and did good work he had your back.

Forstall pretty much hasn’t said a damn thing about Apple since he left the company five years ago. So if he opens up at all to Markoff, this could be fascinating. His team’s story about actually implementing the original iPhone remains largely untold.

Brian Merchant Has Tony Fadell on Tape 

Nilay Patel, announcing a special episode of The Vergecast with The One Device author Brian Merchant:

And, of course, we talk about the quotes from Tony Fadell and Brett Bilbrey in the excerpt we just published, in which Fadell tells a story about Phil Schiller arguing the iPhone should have a hardware keyboard. Schiller has said the story isn’t true, and Fadell has tried to walk it back as well.

“So I wasn’t in the room at Apple 10, 15 years ago when this would have happened,” says Merchant, who has the exchange on tape. “But this is a quote verbatim as Tony Fadell who was in the room told it to me. He told me this quote in such detail and he gave such a vivid account, and I had no reason to believe it was untrue.”

Merchant says the controversy has “blown him away.”

I figured Merchant had Fadell’s interview recorded. The quotes were too extensive not to have been recorded. It’s pretty clear what happened: Fadell told Merchant exactly what he’s quoted as saying, but now that he’s seen how it’s playing out, he wants to walk it back. It’s a little late for that.

Inductive Charging Is Not ‘Wireless’ 

In the wake of the previous item, allow me a brief rant on the word wireless. Merriam-Webster:

having no wire or wires; specifically : operating by means of transmitted electromagnetic waves a wireless remote

I like New Oxford American’s definition even better:

using radio, microwaves, etc. (as opposed to wires or cables) to transmit signals

Wi-Fi is wireless. No one would accept wireless as a description for an internet connection that required the device to be in physical contact with a charger, even if it were magnetic rather than a port you plug a cable into.

So Apple Watch, for example, does not use wireless charging. Apple describes it perfectly as “magnetic charging”. It sounds like this is what might be in store for the next iPhone. That’d be cool — but it wouldn’t be as cool as being able to charge over the air.

If we call inductive charging “wireless” now, what are we going to call it when it really is wireless in a few years?

Wistron CEO Blabs About Waterproofing and ‘Wireless Charging’ for New iPhone 

Debbie Wu, reporting for Nikkei Asian Review from Taipei:

iPhone assembler Wistron, a smaller rival to Hon Hai Precision Industry and Pegatron, on Wednesday confirmed that waterproof and wireless charging will be incorporated into the new 5.5-inch iPhones to be launched later this year.

“Assembly process for the previous generations of [iPhones] have not changed much, though new features like waterproof and wireless charging now require some different testing, and waterproof function will alter the assembly process a bit,” CEO Robert Hwang told reporters after the company’s annual shareholders’ meeting on Wednesday.

“Mr. Hwang?”


“Jeff Williams is on the phone for you.”

“Uh, tell him I’m indisposed.”

Stack Overflow Survey: Developers Who Use Spaces Make More Money Than Those Who Use Tabs 

David Robinson, writing for Stack Overflow:

There were 28,657 survey respondents who provided an answer to tabs versus spaces and who considered themselves a professional developer (as opposed to a student or former programmer). Within this group, 40.7% use tabs and 41.8% use spaces (with 17.5% using both). Of them, 12,426 also provided their salary.

Analyzing the data leads us to an interesting conclusion. Coders who use spaces for indentation make more money than ones who use tabs, even if they have the same amount of experience.

As a devout user of tabs, I find this hard to believe. Jiminy. This is like finding out that people who move their lips while they read make more money.

Peter Bright’s reaction:

Developers who use tabs to indent their code, developers who fight for truth and justice and all that is good in the world, those developers have a median salary of $43,750.

But developers who use spaces to indent their code, developers who side with evil and probably spend all day kicking kittens and punching puppies? Their median salary is $59,140.

Richard Feynman’s ‘Prepare a Freshman Lecture’ Test 

David L. Goodstein, in his book Feynman’s Lost Lecture:

Feynman was a truly great teacher. He prided himself on being able to devise ways to explain even the most profound ideas to beginning students. Once, I said to him, “Dick, explain to me, so that I can understand it, why spin one-half particles obey Fermi-Dirac statistics.” Sizing up his audience perfectly, Feynman said, “I’ll prepare a freshman lecture on it.” But he came back a few days later to say, “I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t reduce it to the freshman level. That means we don’t really understand it.”

I keep thinking about that in the context of Brett Bilbrey’s quote in the excerpt published yesterday from Brian Merchant’s The One Device:

Schiller didn’t have the same technological acumen as many of the other execs. “Phil is not a technology guy,” Brett Bilbrey, the former head of Apple’s Advanced Technology Group, says. “There were days when you had to explain things to him like a grade-school kid.” Jobs liked him, Bilbrey thinks, because he “looked at technology like middle America does, like Grandma and Grandpa did.”

A couple of Apple folks who’ve had meetings with Phil Schiller and other high-level Apple executives (in some cases, many meetings, regarding several products, across many years) contacted me yesterday to say that this is pretty much standard practice at Apple. Engineers are expected to be able to explain a complex technology or product in simple, easily-understood terms not because the executive needs it explained simply to understand it, but as proof that the engineer understands it completely.

Based on what I’m hearing, I now think Bilbrey was done profoundly wrong by Merchant’s handling of his quotes. Take a close look at the above excerpt, and note how the narrative of the paragraph, painting Phil Schiller as a technological rube, is from Merchant, and how he only uses brief snippets of Bilbrey’s own words, with no surrounding context.

Tony Fadell Walks Away From Schiller Story: ‘Not True’ 

Tony Fadell on Twitter:

I respect @pschiller as a colleague and friend. The story about him is not true. Have asked writer to correct the record.

That’s in response to a tweet from Schiller last night, after being asked if he really did push for a hardware keyboard on the iPhone:

Not true. Don’t believe everything you read...

The Verge excerpt can be corrected, obviously, but it’s a little late to correct a book that’s coming out in 6 days.

I’m not sure what Fadell is alleging here. That he was profoundly misquoted by Brian Merchant? Or that he was quoted accurately but that the story he told wasn’t true? Has to be one or the other.

The Dalrymple Report: With Guests John Gruber, Matt Drance, and Lots of Heineken 

Recorded last week at WWDC in Apple’s on-site podcast studio, which was simply superb. I love recording podcasts in person, not over Skype, and I think this turned out great. A really good overview of WWDC 2017.

Post-Nomination, Trump Property Buyers Make Clear Shift to Secretive Shell Companies 

Nick Penzenstadler, Steve Reilly, and John Kelly, reporting for USA Today:

Since President Trump won the Republican nomination, the majority of his companies’ real estate sales are to secretive shell companies that obscure the buyers’ identities, a USA TODAY investigation has found.

Over the last 12 months, about 70% of buyers of Trump properties were limited liability companies — corporate entities that allow people to purchase property without revealing all of the owners’ names. That compares with about 4% of buyers in the two years before.

From 4 percent to 70 percent.

The clear post-nomination shift since last year to more shell-company purchases is unique to sales by Trump’s companies, even in his own towers and neighborhoods. Condos owned by others in the same buildings, and sold during the same time period, were bought by LLCs in no more than 20% of the transactions. In some areas, the share was far less.

David Frum, on Twitter:

Nobody’s calling it money laundering! But if you — purely hypothetically — were money laundering via US real estate, this is how you’d do it.

Tim Cook Tells Bloomberg That Apple Is Focused on Autonomous Systems 

Interesting interview with Bloomberg’s Emily Chang:

“We’re focusing on autonomous systems,” Cook said in a June 5 interview on Bloomberg Television that amounted to his most detailed comments yet on Apple’s automotive plans. “It’s a core technology that we view as very important.” He likened the effort to “the mother of all AI projects,” saying it’s “probably one of the most difficult AI projects to work on.” [...]

In the interview on Bloomberg Television, Cook was hesitant to disclose whether Apple will ultimately manufacture its own car. “We’ll see where it takes us,” Cook said. “We’re not really saying from a product point of view what we will do.”

It’s kind of surprising to hear Cook speak so openly about this. Why now, with no product to speak of? I mean, this is a company that will not publicly acknowledge that they’re planning to release new iPhones this September.

I can think of a few reasons. First, there’s no reason not speak about it as an area of interest, because public filings with regulatory agencies prevent Apple from being entirely secret about these efforts. It might also be a sort of recruiting effort for AI talent – a way of emphasizing publicly that Apple is serious about autonomous systems.

(Lastly, I’ll note that Cook spoke of “autonomous systems” in general, not “self-driving cars” specifically. He did speak of the disruptive opportunities in the car industry, but “autonomous systems” could include any sort of device that moves around on its own accord.)

Uber Board Member Cracks ‘Inappropriate’ Joke About Women at Company Event on Sexual Harassment 

Brian Fung and Craig Timberg, reporting for The Washington Post:

Billionaire businessman David Bonderman, a member of Uber’s board, apologized Tuesday for making what he called an “inappropriate” comment about women at a company-wide meeting that was aimed at addressing the harassment of women and other unprofessional conduct within the company.

At the event, Bonderman made a joke about women, saying that adding female board members would make it “much more likely there’ll be more talking,” said several people who heard the remarks.

The comment came as an interruption of fellow board member Arianna Huffington, who was explaining the benefits of having more female representation on Uber’s board.

This company is beyond parody.

Update: Bonderman has now resigned from the board.

A Bad Sign 

Looking at Amazon’s page for Brian Merchant’s The One Device, it strikes me as a bad sign that the lead promotional quote is from Dan Lyons.

Emil Michael, Second-in-Command at Uber, Leaves Company 

Mike Isaac, reporting for The New York Times:

SAN FRANCISCO — Emil Michael, Uber’s senior vice president for business and second in command at the ride-hailing company, left the company on Monday morning, according to an email sent to employees.

Mr. Michael’s departure comes after a series of scandals that have rocked the company over the past year, forcing the board of directors to call an investigation into Uber’s culture and business practices. [...]

It is not clear whether Mr. Michael, a deputy to Travis Kalanick, Uber’s chief executive, resigned or was terminated. Uber confirmed his departure but declined to comment further.

It was not clear whether the rat jumped or was pushed from the sinking ship.

Here’s a fun story about Emil Michael from Buzzfeed’s Ben Smith back in 2014:

At the dinner, Emil Michael, the right hand of CEO Travis Kalanick, heatedly complained to me about the press. The company, he told me, could hire a team of opposition researchers to fight fire with fire and attack the media — specifically to smear a female journalist who has criticized the company.

I suggested to him that this plan wouldn’t really work because the story would immediately become a story about Uber behaving like maniacs.

“Nobody would know it was us,” Michael responded.

“But you just told me!” I replied.

When Uber realized it couldn’t kill the story, I got a statement from Michael saying his words “do not reflect my actual views.” Then a Kalanick tweetstorm called his comments “terrible” and said “we are up to the challenge to show that Uber is and will continue to be a positive member of the community.”

That was three years ago and it took until now for Uber to get rid of the guy.

Drag and Drop on iPhone in iOS 11 

Steven Troughton-Smith uncovered the hidden settings to enable inter-application drag-and-drop in the first iOS 11 developer beta. He even posted videos showing it in action.

Count me in with Troughton-Smith: Apple should enable this for the iPhone in addition to the iPad. It’s hard to move stuff between apps on the iPhone today, and this would help. It’s clear from Troughton-Smith’s video that Apple is testing this internally — it seems to work really well already. It’s just disabled in the developer beta by a few preferences.

Is it as useful on iPhone as it is on iPad? No, because iPhone doesn’t have side-by-side multitasking. But it’s certainly more useful than not having it at all, and importantly, I don’t think enabling it will add an unwanted complexity for typical users who don’t need it.

Steven Sinofsky’s WWDC 2017 Trip Report 

Steven Sinofsky has a terrific report summarizing last week’s WWDC:

Delivering on “Pro” with the iPad Pro and iMac Pro is significant. The iMac answers the need for a high end workstation and does so with arguably the most powerful device available, yet in a sleek all-in-one form factor. The iPad Pro finally (almost?!) puts the iPad in a position to be a laptop for the masses, especially those who grew up only on phones.

Sinofsky really gets this. I think he had an idea with Windows RT and the original Surface that – if Microsoft had had the gumption to fully commit to it – could have made the Surface a viable competitor to the iPad in this post-PC tablet space. They doomed themselves to failure by watering the strategy down by only going half-in, with the other half sticking with legacy compatibility with Windows for Intel. The iPad would have failed too if it was half a Mac. You can’t get anywhere with one foot in the new boat and the other foot in the old one.

The other thing about the iPad Pro with the upcoming iOS 11 is that it’s not just for kids who grew up on phones, but for anyone for whom the complexity of Windows and even the Mac was too much to ever get comfortable with. There are adults who’ve spent two decades doing their work on computers without ever being comfortable with them until they switched to an iPad.

Field Notes 

My thanks to Field Notes for sponsoring this week’s DF feed (along with the display ad in the old Deck spot). Field Notes is offering two special kits for Father’s Day and they’re boxed up nice and ready to go. Each includes memo books, notebooks, and a hand-screened card. One features a matte, black Space Pen and the other a fine, limited-edition, hand-crafted rollerball pen.

They’re available through Tuesday, 13 June, and for U.S. addresses will arrive at dad’s house just before Father’s Day. A fantastic product and a great gift. (I would tell you that I’m ordering one for my dad, but he reads Daring Fireball and that would spoil the surprise.)

Apple Makes Major Podcast Updates 

Jason Snell:

Users will be able to download full seasons, and the Podcasts app will know if a podcast is intended to be listened to in chronological order — “start at the first episode!” — or if it’s more timely, where the most recent episode is the most important.

I’m excited by these changes because, yes, some of my podcasts are seasonal and are best consumed from the first episode onward. I’ll be adjusting my own podcast feeds to take advantage of Apple’s extensions as soon as it makes sense to do so.

The other big news out of today’s session is for podcasters (and presumably for podcast advertisers): Apple is opening up in-episode analytics of podcasts. For the most part, podcasters only really know when an episode’s MP3 file is downloaded. Beyond that, we can’t really tell if anyone listens to an episode, or how long they listen — only the apps know for sure.

I’m optimistic about Apple leading the way on these analytics, because they have a deserved reputation for respecting users’ privacy and no motivation to do anything intrusive.

Apple Introduces Core ML 

Otto Schnurr:

With Core ML, Apple has managed to achieve an equivalent of PDF for machine learning. With their .mlmodel format, the company is not venturing into the business of training models (at least not yet). Instead, they have rolled out a meticulously crafted red carpet for models that are already trained. It’s a carpet that deploys across their entire lineup of hardware.

As a business strategy, it’s shrewd. As a technical achievement, it’s stunning. It moves complex machine learning technology within reach of the average developer.

If it really turns out to be the PDF of machine learning, that’s quite an accomplishment.

‘These Go to 11’ 

MG Siegler’s take on Monday’s keynote:

The new App Store looks like Apple Music, which I like. Some people will find it too heavy-handed, but I find the old App Store paradigm very stale  —  because it was. The idea of creating a reason for people to come back to the App Store each day makes a ton of sense to me. And it will benefit both Apple and app developers. I like this move a lot. Almost as much as I like App Store games finally being separated from all other apps. Remember what I said about “finally” above? This may be the most finally “finally” yet.

iOS 11 Tidbits 

Nice rundown from MacRumors of small changes and additions in iOS 11.

Watch ‘The Talk Show: Live From WWDC 2017’ 

Recorded in front of a live audience at The California Theatre in San Jose, John Gruber is joined by Phil Schiller and Craig Federighi to discuss the news from WWDC: new Mac hardware, the new iPad Pro, Mac OS 10.13 “High Sierra”, iOS 11, the upcoming HomePod, and more.

Sponsored by:

  • Jamf: Great mobile device management for Apple products.
  • MacStadium: Get your Mac build infrastructure out of the office closet and into the hands of the experts.
  • Setapp: Subscription service for high quality indie Mac apps. For $9.99 per month you get over 70 fully-functional apps.

My thanks to everyone who helped put this show together, including Caleb Sexton for the audio, Jake Schumacher for the video, Marco Arment for the live audio stream, and Amy Jane Gruber and Paul Kafasis for producing the event.

The Second Coming of iPad 

John Paczkowski has a great interview with Phil Schiller and Craig Federighi:

It’s hard not to look at the new 10.5-inch iPad Pro running iOS 11 and recall that “The computer for the rest of us” slogan Apple used in 1984 to launch the Mac. Today, might the same be said of the iPad?

Perhaps. That said, Apple says it sees a long future for both Mac and iPad. “It’s simple, really,” says Federighi. “There’s a product you hold in your hand that’s designed for direct manipulation. And there’s product you use at your desk that’s designed for indirect manipulation. When you take those ideas to their fullest expression, when you extend their reach, there will inevitably be some overlap. But ultimately, people are going to choose the one that’s the most compelling for what they want to do.”

Apple Design Awards 2017 

No on-stage ceremony this year, but they held a reception for the winners.

The Talk Show Live From WWDC 2017 

Marco Arment is providing a live audio stream at ATP’s website.

Bozoma Saint John Heads to Uber From Apple 

Ingrid Lunden, reporting for TechCrunch:

Last week, ahead of WWDC, there was a ripple of news when Axios discovered that Bozoma Saint John — one of the more noticeable execs at the company for being a woman of color, who led an Apple Music demo at the previous year’s WWDC to some acclaim — was leaving Apple. Now TechCrunch has learned where she’s landing: she’s going to Uber.

We received the news via a tip, and have confirmed the appointment through multiple sources at Uber. The company, we understand, views the appointment as important in helping “turn the tide on recent issues.”

As for what role she will be taking, that’s something we’re still trying to figure out. We understand that Uber will be making more details public later. Saint John’s track record is in marketing — most recently at Apple but also with a long stint at Pepsi, among other places.

Did not see that one coming. Nice score for Uber.

Apple Removes Facebook and Twitter Integration From iOS 11 

This special treatment for Twitter and Facebook always seemed a little weird to me. It feels right that in iOS 11 they’re just apps again.

Claim Chowder: HomePod Touchscreen 

Mark Gurman and Alex Webb, in the report for Bloomberg last week I wrote about a few days ago:

Ahead of Apple’s launch, the competition has upgraded their speakers with support for making voice calls, while Amazon’s gained a touchscreen. Apple’s speaker won’t include such a screen, according to people who have seen the product.

Ming-Chi Kuo two weeks ago:

We also believe this new product will come with a touch panel.

HomePod has a touchscreen on top.

The Upcoming iMac Pro Is Not the New Mac Pro 


In addition to the new iMac Pro, Apple is working on a completely redesigned, next-generation Mac Pro architected for pro customers who need the highest-end, high-throughput system in a modular design, as well as a new high-end pro display.

John Nack: ‘Drinks and Food Worth Knowing in San Jose’ 

John Nack:

With the help of a few friends, I’ve gathered some links to places worth checking out during WWDC and beyond.

Jamf Now 

My thanks to Jamf for sponsoring this week’s DF feed. Jamf Now is a simple, cloud-based solution designed to help anyone set up, manage, and protect Apple devices at work. Easily configure company email and Wi-Fi networks, distribute apps to your team, and protect sensitive data without locking down devices. Jamf Now allows you to treat IT as a task, not a full-time career.

Daring Fireball readers can create an account and manage three devices for free. Forever. Each additional device is just $2 per month. Create your free account today.

Ina Fried: Bozoma Saint John Plans to Leave Apple 

Ina Fried, reporting a scoop for Axios:

Bozoma Saint John, the Apple executive who garnered significant attention for her demo at last year’s worldwide developer conference, plans to leave the company, Axios has learned. Saint John was head of Global Consumer Marketing for Apple Music (and predecessor Beats Music). [...]

While Apple has several women of color in higher-ranking positions, Saint John had a high profile beyond Apple and was widely praised for her on-stage work last year. She was also fairly unique among Apple executives in maintaining a strong personal brand beyond her work identity, with a strong following on Instagram and Twitter.

So much for my prediction on The Talk Show that we’d see Boz on-stage again in the WWDC keynote. I also enjoyed that the company with Woz and Joz now had a Boz.

‘App: The Human Story’ Screening Tomorrow Night in San Jose 

Tomorrow night in San Jose:

Join AltConf and Layers on Sunday June 4 for an exclusive pre-release screening of App: The Human Story, a documentary that gives an intimate view into the journeys of independent app makers as they traverse a dynamic new industry. Following the screening, a panel made up of cast members from the film, including Adam Lisagor, Brent Simmons, Cabel Sasser, Grey Osten, John Gruber, Ish Shabazz, Jay Dysart, Melissa Hargis, Steven Frank and Windy Chien, will discuss the documentary film.

Co-director Jake Schumacher will be there too. The screening is at 5p, and I’ll be leading the panel discussion afterward. I’ve seen a recent cut of the film and it’s terrific. I can’t believe this screening hasn’t sold out yet — get your tickets while there are still some left.

Tickets are $25, and all proceeds go to App Camp for Girls. If you see me there, please say hello.

‘New York Stories’ 

This week’s issue of The New York Times Magazine turned the entire magazine into a series of comics, illustrating stories from the newspaper’s Metro section. Even the crossword is hand-drawn. And the web version has some nifty animation.


Dave Hamilton on Apple’s Rumored Siri Speaker 

Dave Hamilton, writing for The MacObserver:

All the reports of Apple’s rumored Siri Speaker have it targeting Alexa and Google Home, and at one level that makes sense. The Siri Speaker seems like it will be a voice-controlled device in your home that happens to be able to emit sound. But I think there’s a different target Apple’s going after: Sonos. Remember, this isn’t rumored to just be a voice-controlled device with a speaker thrown in for audio feedback. Reports peg this as a device which contains multiple, high-quality speakers. [...]

I would expect a device with seven tweeters to provide truly room-filling sound, perhaps from all angles given that each of those tweeters could be aimed in slightly different directions. This might be something that could pair with an Apple TV and not only play music but also play the audio for your TV shows and movies. The Siri Speaker may be more of a living room device than a kitchen device.

Man, this sounds like a great idea. Like Sonos but with really good AirPlay — like next-generation “AirPlay 2” AirPlay. Sonos doesn’t support AirPlay period.

Outsourcing Your Online Presence 

Joe Cieplinski:

Look, I get that I’m the nut who doesn’t want to use Facebook. I’m not even saying don’t post your stuff to Facebook. But if Facebook is the only place you are posting something, know that you are shutting out people like me for no good reason. Go ahead and post to Facebook, but post it somewhere else, too. Especially if you’re running a business.

The number of restaurants, bars, and other local establishments that, thanks to crappy web sites they can’t update, post their daily specials, hours, and important announcements only via Facebook is growing. That’s maddening. Want to know if we’re open this holiday weekend? Go to Facebook.

Go to hell.

A Metaphor for How Cultural, Technological, and Scientific Changes Happen 

Proof that small efforts can lead to big results.

On Giving a Shit 

Joe Hewitt, possibly in response to Dave Winer’s and my objections to Facebook today:

Seriously guys, nobody gives a shit about the open web. Only your clique.

A few thoughts:

  • Most people don’t care about “the open web” at the technical or political (and in my personal case, business) level that Dave Winer and I do. Most people, I’m sure, couldn’t even offer a cogent definition of what “the open web” means. Nor should they have to. They just know they can open a web browser, search for things, visit their favorite sites, and click links from one site to another. But I’ll tell you what: I bet most people think it sucks that stuff posted publicly to Facebook — like Marc Haynes’s lovely story about Roger Moore — can’t be searched by Google. And I bet they’d be pissed if they knew that it wasn’t a technical issue on Google’s side but simply a deliberate strategic decision by Facebook. People may not know what the open web is but they like it.

  • What a sad way to go through life, discouraging people from fighting for what they know to be both right and good for the world, simply because most people may not understand. “Just give up” seems to be Hewitt’s advice.

  • Joe Hewitt in 2009:

    The web is still unrestricted and free, and so I am returning to my roots as a web developer. In the long term, I would like to be able to say that I helped to make the web the best mobile platform available, rather than being part of the transition to a world where every developer must go through a middleman to get their software in the hands of users.

Silicon Valley vs. Wall Street 

Matt Levine, in a fascinating and wide-ranging column for Bloomberg:

One of the most incredible feats of marketing of our century is that the internet companies have convinced a lot of people that selling advertisements on web pages is basically the same as curing cancer, while buying stocks and bonds is evil:

“At tech companies, the permeating value is that they’re about trying to make the world a better place, whereas at hedge funds it’s about making more money,” Mr. Epstein said.

That’s from a Wall Street Journal article — in its series on quants — about the talent battle between Wall Street and Silicon Valley. As far as I can tell, the pitch for data scientists from Silicon Valley is: “Come work here, you can build advertising models and pretend that you’re saving the world,” while the pitch for data scientists from Wall Street is: “Come work here, you can build trading models and not have to pretend that you’re saving the world.” I actually think that is a useful sorting metric, and I know which one I would take.

‘Climate Change Is Real’: U.S. Companies Lament Paris Accord Exit 

Daniel Victor, writing for The New York Times:

Twenty-five companies, including Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft, bought full-page ads in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Post last month to argue their case. Some of those companies, and others with similar views in the technology, energy and engineering sectors, reacted quickly on Thursday.

Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Tesla, Twitter, GE, Goldman Sachs — the leaders of all these companies spoke out against Trump’s moronic decision to withdraw from the Paris agreement. Even Shell and Exxon wanted the U.S. to remain in the agreement. The only CEO the Times quoted who supports this nonsensical decision is from a fucking coal company.

197 countries agreed to the Paris Accord. Prior to today’s U.S. withdrawal, only Syria and Nicaragua weren’t in — Syria isn’t in because they were in the midst of a brutal civil war at the time, and Nicaragua refused to sign only because they felt the accord didn’t go far enough. Every major captain of industry in the U.S. outside the coal industry publicly asked Trump to keep the U.S. in the Paris Accord. It’s good for business and good for the environment.

The United States stands utterly alone on this. Trump has put the United States on the fringes of civilization.

Swift Playgrounds Expands Coding Education to Robots, Drones and Musical Instruments 


Apple today announced that Swift Playgrounds, its educational coding app for iPad, will offer an exciting new way to learn to code using robots, drones and musical instruments. Swift Playgrounds is perfect for students and beginners learning to code with Swift, Apple’s powerful and intuitive programming language for building world-class apps. Apple is working with leading device makers to make it easy to connect to Bluetooth-enabled robots within the Swift Playgrounds app, allowing kids to program and control popular devices, including LEGO MINDSTORMS Education EV3, the Sphero SPRK+, Parrot drones and more. The Swift Playgrounds 1.5 update will be available as a free download on the App Store beginning Monday, June 5.

This is a very cool announcement in and of itself. But my first thought after seeing this announced today was that Monday’s keynote must be jam-packed. This could have easily been a 10-minute segment in the keynote, with cool on-stage demos.

Pinboard Acquires Delicious 

This is simply amazing given the history of Pinboard. Strike a win for the indie web.

Putin Hints at U.S. Election Meddling by ‘Patriotically Minded’ Russians 

Andrew Higgins, reporting for The New York Times:

Shifting from his previous blanket denials, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia said on Thursday that “patriotically minded” private Russian hackers could have been involved in cyberattacks last year to help the presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump. [...]

Raising the possibility of attacks by what he portrayed as free-spirited Russian patriots, Mr. Putin said that hackers “are like artists” who choose their targets depending how they feel “when they wake up in the morning. If they are patriotically minded, they start making their contributions — which are right, from their point of view — to the fight against those who say bad things about Russia.” [...]

Perhaps worried that American intelligence agencies could release evidence linking last year’s cyberattacks to Russia, Mr. Putin also put forward a theory that modern technology could easily be manipulated to create a false trail back to Russia.

David Simon nails it:

This is a ridiculous fallback position, meaning: Cat’s out of the bag. We fucked up your election and left evidence.