Linked List: November 2017

Nikkei Asian Review: ‘Apple to Design Power Chips in-House as Early as 2018’ 

Cheng Ting-Fang, reporting from Taipei for for Nikkei Asian Review

Apple is designing its own main power management chips for use in iPhones as early as in 2018, cutting dependence on Dialog Semiconductor, according to industry sources, as shares in the U.K. developer plunged as much as 19% in afternoon trade in Frankfurt.

Anything Apple doesn’t design itself is likely something it would prefer to design itself. The iPhone is getting more customized — using more Apple-designed components — with each year.

Why Didn’t Twitter Delete the Anti-Muslim Tweets Promoted by Trump? 

Ivana Kottasová, reporting for CNN:

The anti-Muslim videos were first posted by Jayda Fransen, deputy leader of the far-right party Britain First. They depict violent assaults and the destruction of a statue of the Virgin Mary.

They also appear to violate the terms of use published by Twitter. It warns users: “You may not promote violence against, threaten, or harass other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or serious disease.”

Asked why the original tweets have not been deleted, a Twitter spokesperson said:

“To help ensure people have an opportunity to see every side of an issue, there may be the rare occasion when we allow controversial content or behavior which may otherwise violate our rules to remain on our service because we believe there is a legitimate public interest in its availability.”

Translation from PR Weasel-ese to English: Twitter is afraid of pissing off Trump.

‘App: The Human Story’ 

The final cut of App: The Human Story is out, and it’s terrific. I’m happy to have played a small part in it. My blurb:

There’s a segment of the Apple developer community that approaches their work as craft, not mere work. They make apps that aren’t just used, but that are loved. App: The Human Story perfectly captures the ethos of this community in the explosive early years of the App Store. The film tracks many threads but tells one story: how apps became a fundamental part of our daily lives and culture.

Kickstarter backers already have access to the movie. It’s a $15 purchase from Vimeo’s On Demand service otherwise, and so very worth it.

Meet the Man Who Deactivated Trump’s Twitter Account for 11 Minutes 

Ingrid Lunden and Khaled “Tito” Hamze, writing for TechCrunch:

His last day at Twitter was mostly uneventful, he says. There were many goodbyes, and he worked up until the last hour before his computer access was to be shut off. Near the end of his shift, the fateful alert came in.

This is where Trump’s behavior intersects with Duysak’s work life. Someone reported Trump’s account on Duysak’s last day; as a final, throwaway gesture, he put the wheels in motion to deactivate it. Then he closed his computer and left the building.

Several hours later, the panic began. Duysak tells us that it started when he was approached by a woman whom he didn’t know very well. According to Duysak, the woman said that she had been contacted by someone asking about Duysak in connection with Trump’s Twitter account. After a moment of disbelief, he said he then looked at the news and realized what had happened.

There are an awful lot of people who would like to buy this guy a beer.

Security Update 2017-001 Breaks File Sharing (But a Fix Is Already Out) 

Better to close this security hole and inadvertently break file sharing than to leave the hole open, but this is why bug fixes aren’t usually released in under a day.

Update: Nice — an official fix for this is already out:

  1. Open the Terminal app, which is in the Utilities folder of your Applications folder.
  2. Type sudo /usr/libexec/configureLocalKDC and press Return.
The Information: ‘Android’s Andy Rubin Left Google After Inquiry Found Inappropriate Relationship’ 

Reed Albergotti, reporting for The Information:

Andy Rubin, the creator of Android and a key executive at Google Inc. for nine years, left the company in 2014 shortly after an internal investigation determined that he had carried on an inappropriate relationship with a subordinate, The Information has learned.

Mr. Rubin has taken a leave of absence from his new smartphone startup, Essential, for personal reasons, the firm’s employees were told on Monday. The Information had earlier contacted Mr. Rubin’s spokesman for this story.

That doesn’t sound suspicious at all.

Like many companies, Google has a policy that prohibits supervisors from having a relationship with a subordinate. Any manager entering into such a relationship has to report it to the company, which will move one of the two to a different department. The woman who made the complaint worked in Google’s Android division while Mr. Rubin ran it, The Information has confirmed.

Mike Sitrick, a spokesman for Mr. Rubin, denied that Mr. Rubin had done anything wrong or that his departure from Google was related to the complaint and investigation.

“Any relationship that Mr. Rubin had while at Google was consensual,” Mr. Sitrick said, and did not involve any person who reported directly to him. “Mr. Rubin was never told by Google that he engaged in any misconduct while at Google and he did not, either while at Google or since.”

Here’s a report from The Verge, for those who aren’t Information subscribers.

Matt Lauer Accused of Sexual Harassment by Multiple Women 

Ramin Setoodeh and Elizabeth Wagmeister, reporting for Variety:

Lauer, who was paranoid about being followed by tabloid reporters, grew more emboldened at 30 Rockefeller Center as his profile rose following Katie Couric’s departure from “Today” in 2006. His office was in a secluded space, and he had a button under his desk that allowed him to lock his door from the inside without getting up. This afforded him the assurance of privacy. It allowed him to welcome female employees and initiate inappropriate contact while knowing nobody could walk in on him, according to two women who were sexually harassed by Lauer.

Sounds like that button was only locking others out of his office, not locking women in, but still, that’s some fucked up shit. As Andy Richter observed, someone at NBC had to approve the installation of that button.

Apple Releases Fix for High Sierra Root Login Bug 

Statement I received from an Apple spokesperson, just a few minutes ago:

Security is a top priority for every Apple product, and regrettably we stumbled with this release of macOS.

When our security engineers became aware of the issue Tuesday afternoon, we immediately began working on an update that closes the security hole. This morning, as of 8:00 a.m., the update is available for download, and starting later today it will be automatically installed on all systems running the latest version (10.13.1) of macOS High Sierra.

We greatly regret this error and we apologize to all Mac users, both for releasing with this vulnerability and for the concern it has caused. Our customers deserve better. We are auditing our development processes to help prevent this from happening again.

Quick turnaround, and a strong apology. The bug never should have happened, but given that it did, you couldn’t ask for a better, faster response. To my memory, this is only the second time Apple has used MacOS’s automatic — that is to say, non-optional — update mechanism. The other was the NTP Security Update in 2014, that affected Mac OS X 10.8 through 10.10.

New Official ‘Apple Support’ YouTube Channel 

Slew of good tips and tricks here already.

It also occurs to me that this is a sign of just how dominant YouTube is. Everyone publishes video on YouTube, even Google’s biggest rivals — Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon. YouTube effectively is the internet for video content.

New ‘Sets’ Feature in Windows 10 Adds System-Wide Tabs 

Interesting idea, particularly the way that the tabs in a window can be from any application. I don’t think this idea would translate at all to the Mac, but it seems like it could work on Windows.

‘A Night at the Garden’ 

Shocking short film by Marshall Curry:

In 1939, New York’s Madison Square Garden was host to an enormous — and shocking — gathering of 22,000 Americans that has largely been forgotten from our history.

Chilling footage. About 4 minutes in, a protestor tries to storm the stage and he takes a serious beating from the Nazis and then some rough handling by the police. There are children on stage — American Nazi Youth? — and they seem gleeful watching this guy take a beating.

From the Q&A with Curry:

Q: Why do you think that most Americans have never heard of this group or this event?

A: The footage is so powerful, it seems amazing that it isn’t a stock part of every high school history class. But I think the rally has slipped out of our collective memory in part because it’s scary and embarrassing. It tells a story about our country that we’d prefer to forget. We’d like to think that when Nazism rose up, all Americans were instantly appalled. But while the vast majority of Americans were appalled by the Nazis, there was also a significant group of Americans who were sympathetic to their white supremacist, anti-Semitic message. When you see 20,000 Americans gathering in Madison Square Garden you can be sure that many times that were passively supportive.

MacOS High Sierra Bug Allows Root Access Without Password 

Juli Clover, reporting for MacRumors:

There appears to be a serious bug in macOS High Sierra that enables the root superuser on a Mac with with a blank password and no security check.

The bug, discovered by developer Lemi Ergin, lets anyone log into an admin account using the username “root” with no password. This works when attempting to access an administrator’s account on an unlocked Mac, and it also provides access at the login screen of a locked Mac.

There’s no “appears to be” about this — this is a serious bug. Allowing root access without a password is just inexplicably bad. I rarely describe any bug as inexcusable, but this is inexcusable.

Until Apple issues a fix, there is a workaround: manually enable the root user account and give it a strong unique password.

Pro-Neutrality, Anti-Title II 

Ben Thompson:

That, though, is the magic of the term “net neutrality”, the name — coined by the same Tim Wu whose tweet I embedded above — for those FCC rules that justified the original 2015 reclassification of ISPs to utility-like common carriers. Of course ISPs should be neutral — again, who could be against such a thing? What is missing in the ongoing debate, though, is the recognition that, ever since the demise of AOL, they have been. The FCC’s 2015 approach to net neutrality is solving problems as fake as the image in Wu’s tweet; unfortunately the costs are just as real as those in Congressman Khanna’s tweet, but massively more expensive.

Thought-provoking piece — I find myself persuaded.

See Also: Tyler Cowen: “What It Would Take to Change My Mind on Net Neutrality”. The key idea to keep in mind is that the basic principles of “net neutrality” and the specific regulations put in place by the Obama administration in 2015 are different things. You can be in favor of net neutrality in principle but be opposed to the current regulatory structure as the best way to achieve and protect it.

CNBC: ‘Uber Reportedly Trained Workers to Use Disappearing Messages to Evade Authorities, Former Employee Alleges’ 

Anita Balakrishnan, reporting for CNBC:

A U.S. judge on Tuesday said Uber “withheld evidence from me” and granted a request from Alphabet’s Waymo self-driving car unit to delay a trade secrets trial that had been scheduled to begin next week.

The delay centers around a letter from a former Uber security analyst’s attorney to an Uber lawyer. The former employee reportedly made bombshell allegations, including that employees at Uber were trained to “impede” ongoing investigations, multiple media outlets reported.

It never stops with these guys.

The Death of iOS Jailbreaking 

Joe Rossignol, reporting for MacRumors:

The closure of two major Cydia repositories is arguably the result of a declining interest in jailbreaking, which provides root filesystem access and allows users to modify iOS and install unapproved apps on an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.

I can’t see why anyone would want to jailbreak an iOS device today, other than a spare device for goofing around on. The security implications are severe and the advantages negligible.


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(Any product that puts “SE” in the product name is good by me.)

How Much Faster is the iPhone X’s ‘Telephoto’ Lens Than the iPhone 7 Plus’s? 

Dan Provost:

I also used the manual camera app Halide to get an ISO and shutter speed reading at the various light levels, and came to the conclusion that the iPhone X requires roughly 2 fewer stops of light before switching to the telephoto lens, as compared to the iPhone 7 Plus. This is obviously great news, and speaks to how improved the second lens is after just one year. In my own use of the phone for the past couple weeks, it does indeed seem to be the case that I am very rarely presented with a 2X cropped image.


FCC Unveils Plan to Repeal Net Neutrality Rules 

Brian Fung, reporting for The Washington Post:

The Federal Communications Commission took aim at a signature Obama-era regulation Tuesday, unveiling a plan that would give Internet providers broad powers to determine what websites and online services their customers see and use.

Under the agency’s proposal, providers of high-speed Internet services, such as Comcast, Verizon and AT&T, would be able to block websites they do not like and charge Web companies for speedier delivery of their content.

This is literally bad for everyone but these mega-ISPs. Horrendously bad — and unpopular — policy.

Google Collects Android Users’ Locations Even When Location Services Are Disabled 

Keith Collins, reporting for Quartz:

Many people realize that smartphones track their locations. But what if you actively turn off location services, haven’t used any apps, and haven’t even inserted a carrier SIM card?

Even if you take all of those precautions, phones running Android software gather data about your location and send it back to Google when they’re connected to the internet, a Quartz investigation has revealed.

Since the beginning of 2017, Android phones have been collecting the addresses of nearby cellular towers — even when location services are disabled — and sending that data back to Google. The result is that Google, the unit of Alphabet behind Android, has access to data about individuals’ locations and their movements that go far beyond a reasonable consumer expectation of privacy.

Quartz observed the data collection occur and contacted Google, which confirmed the practice.

The cell tower addresses have been included in information sent to the system Google uses to manage push notifications and messages on Android phones for the past 11 months, according to a Google spokesperson. They were never used or stored, the spokesperson said, and the company is now taking steps to end the practice after being contacted by Quartz. By the end of November, the company said, Android phones will no longer send cell-tower location data to Google, at least as part of this particular service, which consumers cannot disable.

If they were “never used or stored”, why did they start collecting them in the first place? This is like a kid caught with their hand in the cookie jar saying they weren’t going to eat any cookies. Sure.

CNBC’s Google Pixel Buds Review 

Todd Haselton, writing for CNBC:

There’s nothing I recommend about the Pixel Buds. They’re cheap-feeling and uncomfortable, and you’re better off using the Google Translate app on a phone instead of trying to fumble with the headphones while trying to translate a conversation. The idea is neat, but it just doesn’t work well enough to recommend to anyone on any level.

Hardware is hard.

iPhone 7 Plus and Portrait Mode Lighting Effects 

Steven Troughton-Smith discovered that portrait mode lighting effects can be edited on an iPhone 7 Plus after using a hex editor on an exported photo to enable the feature:

Just to add insult to injury, if you AirDrop that photo back to the iPhone 7 Plus now it shows the Portrait Lighting UI, and lets you change mode. So Portrait Lighting is 100% an artificial software limitation. 7 Plus photos can have it, 7 Plus can do it.

My understanding is that these effects aren’t enabled on iPhone 7 Plus because performance was really slow at capture time. It really does require the A11 Bionic chip for adequate performance live in the camera. And Apple decided against shipping it as a feature for 7 Plus that could only be applied in post, because that felt like half a feature. So I’ve heard.

What I don’t know is why the new lighting effects are not available when you use an iPhone X or 8 Plus to edit a portrait mode photo that was taken using an iPhone 7 Plus. This should be possible.

The Best iPhone Fast Chargers and Wireless Chargers 

Joanna Stern, writing for The Wall Street Journal:

Wireless charging means you can toss your phone on a pad (sold separately!) on your desk and it will charge throughout the day. With a fast charger (sold separately!), you can plug your phone in and go from zero to 50% in 30 minutes.

Both can make a real difference in how you combat battery anxiety disorder. But figuring out which gear you need is complicated.

I went in search of the best options for both speed and wireless convenience, charging and draining iPhones nearly 30 times. My finding: Getting the best chargers doesn’t mean running up your charge card.

I second her recommendation of this 3-in-1 cable from Monoprice — Lightning, USB-C, and micro USB all on a single cable.

BuzzFeed: McMaster Mocked Trump’s Intelligence in a Private Dinner 

Joseph Bernstein, reporting for BuzzFeed:

Over a July dinner with Oracle CEO Safra Catz — who has been mentioned as a candidate for several potential administration jobs — McMaster bluntly trashed his boss, said the sources, four of whom told BuzzFeed News they heard about the exchange directly from Catz. The top national security official dismissed the president variously as an “idiot” and a “dope” with the intelligence of a “kindergartner,” the sources said.

A sixth source who was not familiar with the details of the dinner told BuzzFeed News that McMaster had made similarly derogatory comments about Trump’s intelligence to him in private, including that the president lacked the necessary brainpower to understand the matters before the National Security Council.

The Talk Show: ‘Christmas Mitzvah’ 

Merlin Mann returns to the show for a Thanksgiving-week holiday spectacular. Topics include the history of Markdown, nerding out with Keyboard Maestro, kids today and the computers they want to use, caring about idiomatic native UI design, a look back at last year’s election, and more.

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Microsoft App Center 

My thanks to Microsoft for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote App Center, their recently-launched service for Apple developers that connects to your GitHub repo to automatically build, test, distribute, and monitor iOS and Mac apps. App Center is the next generation of HockeyApp, which was acquired by Microsoft a few years ago.

The basic HockeyApp features like beta distribution and crash reporting got a revamped user interface, and Microsoft added new features for building, testing, analytics, and push notifications. Simply connect your repo, build the app on App Center’s Mac cloud, and run automated UI tests on thousands of real iOS devices in their hosted device lab. You can not only distribute your builds to testers, but also deploy directly to the App Store.

You can use all of these features together, or just the pieces that complement your current workflow. Spend less time on drudgery, and more time on your app. Sign up now.

HomePod Delayed Until ‘Early 2018’ 

I just got this statement from an Apple spokesperson:

“We can’t wait for people to experience HomePod, Apple’s breakthrough wireless speaker for the home, but we need a little more time before it’s ready for our customers. We’ll start shipping in the US, UK and Australia in early 2018.”

I had a feeling this would happen when the iPhone X press briefings came and went without a word about HomePod. It’s a tough miss for Apple — there are surely going to be a lot of Amazon Echo devices under Christmas trees this year.

Apple Machine Learning Journal: ‘An On-Device Deep Neural Network for Face Detection’ 

Apple Machine Learning Journal:

We faced several challenges. The deep-learning models need to be shipped as part of the operating system, taking up valuable NAND storage space. They also need to be loaded into RAM and require significant computational time on the GPU and/or CPU. Unlike cloud-based services, whose resources can be dedicated solely to a vision problem, on-device computation must take place while sharing these system resources with other running applications. Finally, the computation must be efficient enough to process a large Photos library in a reasonably short amount of time, but without significant power usage or thermal increase.

Face ID’s Innovation: Continuous Authentication 

Rich Mogull, writing at TidBITS:

Every year, as I travel around the security conference circuit, the hallway conversations always turn to the interesting things attendees have seen lately. To be honest, I can’t remember the last time I was excited about a legitimately cool security technology. I see plenty of security evolution, but not much revolution.

That is, until my iPhone X arrived on launch day, and I got to try Face ID in real-world usage. Put simply, Face ID is the most compelling advancement in security I have seen in a very long time. It’s game-changing not merely due to the raw technology, but also because of Apple’s design and implementation.


Rene Ritchie has re-launched Vector as a daily — yes, daily — podcast. I’m halfway through yesterday’s “Designing for iPhone X Roundtable” episode, with guests Sebastiaan de With, Linda Dong, Marc Edwards, and Brad Ellis, and it’s terrific.

The Ringer: ‘The 50 Best Superhero Movies of All Time’ 

I largely somewhat agree with these rankings — but far more so than I usually do with such lists. But the whole thing is worth it just for the sub-list of the best superhero villains of all time — they nailed that one.

Jimmy Iovine and Most Bomb Record in the Solar System 

Jason Kottke on the golden record NASA sent into deep space with Voyager:

Carl Sagan was project director, Ann Druyan the creative director, and Ferris produced the Record. And the sound engineer for the Golden Record? I was surprised to learn: none other than Jimmy Iovine, who was recommended to Ferris by John Lennon.

As Kottke asks, how was this not in The Defiant Ones?

How Facebook Figures Out Everyone You’ve Ever Met 

Excellent investigation by Kashmir Hill, writing for Gizmodo, on Facebook’s creepy “People You May Know” system:

In the months I’ve been writing about PYMK, as Facebook calls it, I’ve heard more than a hundred bewildering anecdotes:

  • A man who years ago donated sperm to a couple, secretly, so they could have a child — only to have Facebook recommend the child as a person he should know. He still knows the couple but is not friends with them on Facebook.
  • A social worker whose client called her by her nickname on their second visit, because she’d shown up in his People You May Know, despite their not having exchanged contact information.
  • A woman whose father left her family when she was six years old — and saw his then-mistress suggested to her as a Facebook friend 40 years later.
  • An attorney who wrote: “I deleted Facebook after it recommended as PYMK a man who was defense counsel on one of my cases. We had only communicated through my work email, which is not connected to my Facebook, which convinced me Facebook was scanning my work email.”

Even if, like me, you’ve never even signed up for Facebook, they almost certainly have a detailed profile of you.

Ming-Chi Kuo on 2018 iPhones 

MacRumors on the latest from Ming-Chi Kuo:

Kuo expects the 5.8-inch model to have 458 pixels per inch, suggesting the second-generation iPhone X’s display will likely continue to have a resolution of 1,125×2,436. He said the 6.5-inch model will have roughly 480 to 500 PPI, while the 6.1-inch model is estimated to have between 320 and 330 PPI.

In his latest research note, obtained by MacRumors, Kuo said the 6.1-inch model will have a lower-resolution LCD display and target the low-end and mid-range markets with an estimated $649 to $749 starting price in the United States.

If accurate, next year’s new iPhone lineup would consist of the second-gen iPhone X with the same size screen, a larger 6.5-inch version that we’re tentatively calling the iPhone X Plus, and a mid-range 6.1-inch LCD model that adopts an iPhone X form factor and features but with a cheaper price point.

A “Plus” sized version of the iPhone X makes perfect sense. Even without these rumors from the supply chain, I’d have been surprised if Apple didn’t create such a phone next. The iPhone X may well draw some current Plus-sized iPhone users, but in use it feels like a “regular” sized iPhone with an edge-to-edge display. Given the popularity of Plus-sized phones, I can’t see why Apple wouldn’t do that with the X design.

But this 6.1-inch model with an LCD display makes no sense to me. First, I’d be surprised to see the X design trickle down to the $750 price range after just one year. Second, the size makes no sense to me. There’s a clear difference between the 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch regular and Plus classic-style iPhones. There would be a clear difference between 5.8-inch and 6.5-inch X-style phones. An additional 6.1-inch lower-priced X-style phone would just confuse things terribly. I don’t think Kuo has the story right on this phone.

Ina Fried Reviews Google’s Pixel Buds 

Ina Fried, writing for Axios:

Apple’s AirPods are more elegant as well as smaller and more comfortable. However, Pixel Buds have some other appeals, most notably the ability to aid in real-time language translation.

The real-time translation feature is cool, but how often would you need it? I’ve been using AirPods for about a year and I don’t think I would have used this feature even once. And it seems like it’s more of a feature of the Google Translate app, not the Pixel Buds themselves.

Given that they both cost $159, Apple comes out way ahead here.

Long-Term Coffee Consumption and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease 

New paper published in Circulation:

Background — Considerable controversy exists regarding the association between coffee consumption and cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk. A meta-analysis was performed to assess the dose-response relationship of long-term coffee consumption with CVD risk. [...]

Conclusions — A non-linear association between coffee consumption with CVD risk was observed in this meta-analysis. Moderate coffee consumption was inversely significantly associated with CVD risk, with the lowest CVD risk at 3 to 5 cups/d, and heavy coffee consumption was not associated with elevated CVD risk.

I like that 5 cups of coffee per day qualified as “moderate”. That’s right around what I consume.

Squarespace Domains 

My thanks to Squarespace for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Buying a domain name 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 percent off at with offer code “DARING17”.

The Talk Show: ‘Bed Is Where My Problems Are’ 

Ben Thompson returns to the show to talk about the iPhone X.

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Logitech Makes It Right 

Logitech, on their company blog:

We heard you and we want to make it right.

If you are a Harmony Link user, we will reach out to you between now and March 2018 to make arrangements to replace your Link with a free Harmony Hub, a product with similar app-based remote control features to Link, with the added benefit of controlling many popular connected home devices plus, it works with popular voice assistants.

Equifax Faces Hundreds of Class-Action Lawsuits and an SEC Subpoena Over the Way It Handled Its Data Breach 

Hayley Tsukayama, reporting for The Washington Post:

Equifax also said in its filings that it had received subpoenas from the Securities and Exchange Commission, as well as the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia “regarding trading activities by certain of our employees in relation to the cybersecurity incident.” Shortly after news of the breach broke, reports circulated that top officials had sold Equifax stock after the company found out about the breach, but before disclosing it to the public. Equifax said this week that it had cleared its executives of wrongdoing after an internal investigation found that the executives did not personally know about the breach before their stock sales.

Yeah, I’m sure the SEC will just take their word for it.

Clips 2.0 

Major new release of Apple’s app “for making and sharing fun videos with text, effects, graphics, and more.” Headline feature for iPhone X:

Selfie Scenes on iPhone X make Clips even more fun by using the TrueDepth camera to place you in beautifully animated landscapes, abstract art, and even onboard the Millennium Falcon from Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Each scene is a full 360‑degree experience, so however you move iPhone X, the scene surrounds you on all sides.

Here’s a perfect example from Rian Johnson.

For an app that only debuted six months ago, Clips 2.0 is an ambitious 2.0. The entire user interface has been redone, and I think it makes everything more clear and obvious. I think Clips is the single best example of a productivity app designed for iOS.

Ryan Christoffel, writing for MacStories, has a really good rundown of what’s new and what’s changed in 2.0:

When Clips first debuted earlier this year, it was unknown what kind of support the app would receive from Apple going forward. Would it be another Music Memos, released to the public then largely left alone? While Clips 1.1 was an encouraging sign of life, today’s 2.0 clearly demonstrates Apple’s commitment to this app. And I’m glad for that.

I think Clips has flown under the radar since its release, but Apple seems very serious about it. It’s a big hit, apparently, in schools, where kids are using it to create presentations for classwork using iPads.

And one for the road: Rene Ritchie has a good look at it for iMore.

SuperDuper 3.0 

Dave Nanian, Shirt Pocket Software:

With that last bit of explanation, I’m happy to say that we’ve reached the end of this particular voyage. SuperDuper! 3.0 (release 100!) is done, and you’ll find the download in the normal places, as well as in the built-in updater, for both Beta and Regular users.

SuperDuper! 3.0 has, literally, many hundreds of changes under the hood to support APFS, High Sierra and all version of macOS from 10.9 to the the present.

SuperDuper! 3.0 is the first bootable backup application to support snapshot copying on APFS, which provides an incredible extra level of safety, security and accuracy when backing up. It’s super cool, entirely supported (after all, it’s what Time Machine uses... and it was first overall), and totally transparent to the user.

Fantastic update to one of my very favorite Mac utilities. I bought SuperDuper 1.5 in 2005, and I believe every single update since then has been free. I wish they’d charge me, I love SuperDuper so much.

If you’re not familiar with it, SuperDuper lets you clone any volume to another drive or disk image. It’s really configurable, but with a very easy to understand UI. It’s also really smart, and incredibly trustworthy. I recommend it wholeheartedly.

Wallpaper Interview With Jony Ive on Apple Park 

Nick Compton, writing for Wallpaper:

The building, though, is not a metaphor for open systems, or creative flow made concrete. It is a made object. Apple’s success has been built on higher-order industrialisation; not just designing beautiful objects that do all manner of new things but producing them in incredible numbers and at consistent quality. Its new building is, in some ways, the ultimate Apple product, in places using the same materials the company uses in its laptops and phones.

Ive, above all else, is a maker, thrilled to have his CNC milling machines close at hand. This culture of making was at the heart of what Behling calls the ‘hybrid studio’ forged by the Apple and Foster + Partners teams. ‘One of the connections that we made very quickly was that their approach to problem solving was uncannily similar to ours,’ Ive says. ‘We both make lots and lots of models and prototypes. We made full-size prototypes of parts of the building, we made prototypes to examine and explore a material. The prototyping took many forms.’

Gorgeous architectural photography throughout this piece — save it to read on the biggest display you have.

USB-C Earbuds: Slim Pickings 

Helen Havlak, writing for The Verge:

Two weeks after starting my cheap Pixel 2 earbud search, I finally have a working pair — but they cost almost twice the amount I wanted to spend, and don’t feel very premium. If I lose or break them, it’ll cost me almost $50 and another 10-day wait. The next time I upgrade my phone, they may not be compatible. Even the Apple Store sells $29 Lightning EarPods. Google needs to do a lot better by its Pixel owners than a single $149 USB-C option. Even better, just give us back the damn headphone jack.

Apple does better than selling $29 Lightning earbuds — they include a pair in the box with every iPhone. It’s embarrassing that Google doesn’t include a pair of USB-C earbuds with the Pixels.

Nintendo at Its Best 

Chris Compendio, reviewing Super Mario Odyssey for Paste:

I found that this videogame was persistent in its mission to bring me joy. Super Mario Odyssey is extra — in that same area in the Wooded Kingdom, I stood next to a boom box, and Mario, without any button prompt, automatically began dancing to the music. When I left Mario alone for more than a few seconds, he would lay down for a nap, and a bird would eventually land on his nose, with each kingdom having a different kind of bird. There are many moments like this that serve little to no purpose other than smiles, laughs and entertainment. Nintendo has a classic charm in all of their products. They do not simply go for the extra mile, but for at least fifty miles beyond that.

I bought it last week, but haven’t had time to play yet. Looking forward to it.

Forking the iPhone 

Jean-Louis Gassée:

What we see is Apple is doing what they do best: Taking chances. They made a risky bet with the iPhone X and covered it with the iPhone 8. The new and improved perception of Apple might come from the realization that both bets are winning, and that the iPhone X is a radically new, as opposed to a merely improved, breed of smartphone — and probably is the start of a new succession of carefully incremented future models.

A fork is exactly right: the iterative, familiar iPhone 8 and 8 Plus on one side of the fork, and the novel, back-to-the-drawing board iPhone X on the other.

TripAdvisor Removed Warnings About Rapes and Injuries at Mexico Resorts 

Raquel Rutledge and Andrew Mollica, reporting for The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Seven years ago, TripAdvisor repeatedly removed a post written by Kristie Love, a 35-year-old mother of two from Dallas. Love told how she had been raped by a security guard at a highly rated all-inclusive Mexican resort owned by the global chain, Iberostar, based in Spain.

She wrote how, after an evening with friends, she had returned to her room to find the electronic key card no longer opened her door at the Iberostar Paraiso near Playa del Carmen. She headed to the lobby of the sprawling resort to get her card reactivated and stopped to ask a uniformed guard whether she was walking in the right direction.

He motioned her to follow him, then overpowered her, dragged her into some bushes and raped her. When she reached the lobby in tears, hotel staff refused to call police.

A TripAdvisor moderator spotted the post soon after it had published and deemed it in violation of the company’s “family friendly” guidelines.

The following year, another young woman, 19 and on vacation with her family, reported to hotel officials in the same resort complex that a security guard had raped her in the bathroom.

And in 2015, still another woman, Jamie Valeri, 34, a mother of six from Wisconsin, was sexually assaulted at the same resort after she and her husband simultaneously blacked out in the middle of the day, barely into their third drink.

It’s positively sickening that as a matter of TripAdvisor policy, actual rapes, sexual assaults, and druggings are OK, but reports about these crimes on their forums are not. TripAdvisor should get sued out of existence.

Most-Used OS in the World? 

Andrew Tanenbaum, creator of the MINIX operating system, in an open letter to Intel CEO Brian Krzanich:

Thanks for putting a version of MINIX 3 inside the ME-11 management engine chip used on almost all recent desktop and laptop computers in the world. I guess that makes MINIX the most widely used computer operating system in the world, even more than Windows, Linux, or MacOS. And I didn’t even know until I read a press report about it. Also here and here and here and here and here (in Dutch), and a bunch of other places.

It’s an interesting development, having a full-blown operating system running inside a CPU. And it’s a nice feather in the cap for MINIX, which heretofore had best been known as a teaching OS for computer science students. But it can’t be the most-used OS in the world. Android is. (Or, if you only want to count the kernel-level operating system, Linux, which runs at the heart of Android.)

MINIX is now almost certainly the most widely-used OS on Intel-based computers, but Intel-based computers are now far outnumbered by ARM-based ones.

Horace Dediu: Apple Watch Will Soon Generate More Revenue Than iPod at Peak 

Bookmark this for the next time you see someone claim Apple Watch is a flop.


Notcho, from Cromulent Labs:

Not a fan of the notch? Want to hide the horns? Now you can quickly and easily create wallpapers that hide the notch on your new iPhone X.

It’s a clever little hack: you give Notcho an image, and Notcho lets you export a version with black bars and rounded corners at the top to hide the iPhone X’s sensor array notch. I don’t actually think this is a good idea — if there’s anywhere where I think embracing the notch is just fine, it’s on the lock and home screens. Where the notch should have been hidden is when you’re using apps. This utility doesn’t (and can’t) do anything about it. This was Apple’s decision to make, and even if you disagree with how they decided to handle it, I don’t think you should fight it. I still don’t like it, but I have to say that after nearly two weeks with iPhone X, I really don’t notice it.

But damn if the name “Notcho” isn’t clever — it might be the best possible name for a utility that does this. Also clever is the monetization strategy: Notcho is free to download and use, but any wallpapers you create with it are watermarked with “Notcho” in the bottom right corner. For $2 you can remove the watermark. And if anyone is going to be bothered by that watermark, it’s the same sort of person who’s bothered by the notch.

(I really hope that floppy disk icon for the Save button is a joke.)

Understanding Apple’s Multinational Tax Payments 

Great piece by Shawn Tully for Fortune:

I figured that if this reporter found corporate taxes baffling, so did lots of sophisticated Fortune readers. So I dug into the financials of Apple to grasp how the world’s most valuable publicly traded company accounts for taxes. Albert Meyer, a forensic accountant and former academic who runs investment firm Bastiat Capital, helped explain how and why Apple books or defers taxes on different categories of income, and which rates it applies to each category. With his help, I present a primer on taxation of multinationals, using Apple as a case study.

I still don’t quite understand the whole thing, but I have a much better grasp than I did before. And I’m more convinced than ever that Apple is doing something complicated, not something devious.

It’s important to emphasize that Apple actually pays a lot of tax compared to other U.S.-based corporations with immense foreign earnings, and takes a highly conservative approach to tax accounting. [...]

For FY 2016, Apple booked total pre-tax earnings of $61.4 billion. On its income statement, Apple showed a “provision for taxes” of $15.685 billion. That number is an expense that’s deducted straight from pre-tax income of $61.4 billion to yield net income of $45.7 billion. Hence, its reported “effective tax rate” was 25.6% ($15.685 billion divided by $61.4 billion), well below the official 35%, but on the high side for multinationals, many of which are in the teens.

The news coverage on Apple’s tax avoidance would lead you to believe (and in fact has led many to believe) that Apple pays a lower effective tax rate than most companies, when the truth is they pay a higher rate than most of their peers.

And later:

It’s important to note that Apple is extremely responsible in the use of this exemption for reinvested earnings. Many multinationals report that they intend to plough all of their foreign profits into operations, and hence, don’t make any accruals for U.S. taxes on their offshore earnings. Apple is the rare tech titan that books large annual accruals that lower net income.

The problem isn’t Apple’s tax structure, it’s U.S. law. You can argue that Apple should voluntarily pay more in taxes than they’re legally obligated to, but no one who holds such views would ever get hired as a finance executive at a large publicly held company.

Barry Ritholtz: ‘Why Apple Should Buy Netflix’ 

Barry Ritholtz, writing for Bloomberg:

I try not to give billionaires or corporate managers unsolicited advice on what they should do with their money. Warren Buffett and Apple Inc. both have done rather well for themselves and their investors without my help. Today, I violate my own rule: Apple should buy Netflix Inc. in an all-stock deal for about $100 billion. [...]

The upsides for Apple are fairly obvious; the biggest downside is the cost. If anything, it might spare us the boring quarterly routine of analysts expecting soft iPhone sales and then being shocked when the company beats to the upside.

If Apple passes on Netflix, don’t be surprised if Amazon does not. That alone is reason to make the purchase.

Usually when someone proposes Apple make a huge acquisition, I hurt my eyes by rolling them so far back in my head. I remain unconvinced that Apple should buy Netflix, but I don’t roll my eyes at the notion.

I think the main problem is that there’s nothing magical about Netflix. Surely Apple could buy HBO for less money than Netflix would cost, and I would put HBO’s original content up against Netflix’s any day. I also think it’s a mistake to underestimate Apple’s ability to build its own first-class original content streaming service based on the crappy shows it’s released to date. A couple of more deals like the Amazing Stories one with Steven Spielberg and they’ll already have a foot in the game — for way less than the $100 billion it would take to buy Netflix.

And, just as I was about to publish this post, this just in: Apple has announced a deal for a two-season scripted TV series starring Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon as competing morning TV show hosts, with House of Cards producer Jay Carson writing the pilot and serving as showrunner.

Ritholtz (and others, like Om Malik and Ben Thompson) argue that Apple’s incredible cash hoard would allow them to make an expensive acquisition like Netflix. My argument is that Apple’s cash hoard would allow them to outbid the competition for the best new shows. Make Apple Studios the place where top notch talent takes new pitches first, knowing they’ll get paid top dollar and treated well. The trick isn’t the money — the trick is hiring the right executives to identify the best new shows.

Logitech Will Brick Its Harmony Link Hub for All Owners in March 

Chris Welch, reporting for The Verge:

Logitech has announced that it’s shutting down all services for the Harmony Link hub, a plastic puck the company released in 2011 that gave smartphones and tablets the ability to act as universal remotes for thousands of devices.

Owners of the product have received an email from the company warning that the Link will completely stop working in March. “On March 16th, 2018, Logitech will discontinue service and support for Harmony Link. Your Harmony Link will no longer function after this date,” the email says. There’s no explanation or reason given as to why service is ending in the email, but a Logitech employee provided more details on the company’s forums. “There is a technology certificate license that will expire next March. The certificate will not be renewed as we are focusing resources on our current app-based remote, the Harmony Hub.”

This sucks, but it seems like the way of the future with cloud-backed products. In the old days, products stopped working when they broke. Now, they stop working when the company that sold them loses interest in continuing to support them. It feels spiteful. More than ever, it matters how much you trust the company from which you buy stuff.

Apple at Its Best 

Ben Thompson, writing at Stratechery:

In these instances the iPhone X is reaching the very pinnacle of computing: doing a necessary job, in this case security, better than humans can. The fact that this case is security is particularly noteworthy: it has long been taken as a matter of fact that there is an inescapable trade-off between security and ease-of-use; TouchID made it far easier to have effective security for the vast majority of situations, and FaceID makes it invisible.

The trick Apple pulled, though, was going beyond that: the first time I saw notifications be hidden and then revealed (as in the GIF above) through simply a glance produced the sort of surprise-and-delight that has traditionally characterized Apple’s best products. And, to be sure, surprise-and-delight is particularly important to the iPhone X: so much is new, particularly in terms of the interaction model, that frustrations are inevitable; in that Apple’s attempt to analogize the iPhone X to the original iPhone is more about contrasts than comparisons.

“Surprise and delight” are intangibles. You can’t measure them with a benchmark or instrument. There are contingents of hardcore power user and open source nerd types who disdain surprise and delight as product attributes — and no surprise, those are the folks who seem to be dismissing iPhone X as a cynical cash grab.

Steven Soderbergh’s ‘Mosaic’ 

Angela Watercutter, writing for Wired:

Where they ended up was a smartphone-enabled story, developed and released by Silver’s company PodOp, that lets viewers decide which way they want to be told Mosaic’s tale of a children’s book author, played by Sharon Stone, who turns up dead in the idyllic ski haven of Park City, Utah. After watching each segment — some only a few minutes, some as long as a standard television episode — viewers are given options for whose point of view they want to follow and where they want to go next. Those who want to be completest and watch both options before moving on can do so, those who want to race to find out whodunit can do that too. Because each node, filmed by Soderbergh himself, feels like a TV show, launching Mosaic can be akin to sneaking a quick show on Netflix while commuting to work or waiting on a friend; but because it’s a long story that’s easily flipped through, it can also be enjoyed like the pulpy crime novel on your nightstand, something you chip away at a little bit at a time before bed.

This sounds fantastic, especially in the hands of someone as innovative and talented as Soderbergh. iOS-only (for now?), but that includes Apple TV.

iPhone X 4K Video vs. the Panasonic GH5 Professional Video Camera 

Impressive side-by-side comparison. The Panasonic GH5 sells for $2000 for the body only, and costs around $2800 with a lens. The iPhone X camera largely held its own in outdoor lighting.

Apple to Release Software Update to Solve iOS 11 Issue When Typing the Letter ‘i’ 

Benjamin Mayo, writing for 9to5Mac:

Some iPhone and iPad users are facing a weird bug after updating to iOS 11.1. When trying to type the lowercase letter ‘i’, autocorrect replaces the word with the letter ‘A’ and a question mark symbol.

Apple has documented steps for a workaround fix until a real bug-fix software update is released …

Such a weird bug — and embarrassing for Apple because it makes the device look so dumb. What I’ve heard is that this is a machine learning problem — that, more or less, for some reason the machine learning algorithm for autocorrect was learning something it never should have learned.

Bloomberg : ‘Walmart Pay Threatens to Surpass Apple in U.S. Mobile Payments’ 

Olga Kharif and Matthew Boyle, reporting for Bloomberg:

Available in 4,774 stores, Walmart Pay is enrolling tens of thousands of new users a day, up from thousands four or five months ago, said Daniel Eckert, who runs the business. Two-thirds of the customers who try it also use it a second time within 21 days, he said, giving him confidence Walmart Pay will surpass Apple Pay in the U.S. in terms of use by shoppers in stores where they’re accepted.

“If daily enrollments don’t slow down, I think that’s pretty well in the cards shortly,” said Eckert, senior vice president for services and digital acceleration. “I would have to imagine we are getting pretty close.”

Richard Crone, chief executive officer of researcher Crone Consulting LLC, estimates Walmart will pass Apple Pay in active U.S. users — those making at least two transactions a month — by the end of 2018.

What this guy Crone is saying is that Walmart Pay will surpass Apple Pay in active users — which, I think, is a legitimate metric for comparison. But what about total transactions? I make way more than two transactions per month with Apple Pay. And what about total revenue?

But the numbers from Eckert, Walmart’s executive, are downright misleading: “in terms of use by shoppers in stores where they’re accepted” is a bizarre choice for the denominator in this comparison. There seems to be no question here that Walmart Pay is a success, but I think by the metrics most people would choose, it’s not set to “surpass” Apple Pay in the U.S. (And this whole story is about the U.S. only — Apple Pay seems to be doing well worldwide.)

Kolide Fleet for Osquery 

My thanks to Kolide for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote Osquery, a great utility for Mac admins. Osquery is an open source agent released by Facebook. It transforms your Mac fleet into a database that you can query with real SQL. You can get instant and accurate answers from any device (it works on Windows and Linux too).

Getting started with Osquery has always been a challenge for newcomers. To help, Kolide (a new startup co-founded by Osquery’s creator Mike Arpaia) recently released Kolide Fleet, an app to help organizations use Osquery.

Like Osquery, Kolide Fleet is also 100 percent free and open source. Download it today, and hang out with the Kolide team in the Osquery Slack at #kolide.

iPhone X Campout 

Just after snapping a photo of the overnight campout line outside the Philly Apple Store, one of the teens in line noticed that I was taking the picture with an iPhone X. They had questions. So I interviewed them.

iPhone X Guided Tour 

Nice video from Apple showing everything new and different with iPhone X.

Daring Fireball Display Ads for November 

You see those ads in the sidebar here on Daring Fireball? I’ve got a few openings for November. If you’ve got a product or service you want to promote to the DF audience, get in touch via the email link on this page.

Apple Reports Fourth Quarter Results 

There’s only one week of iPhone 8 sales in these results, but the average selling price for iPhone was effectively unchanged from the year-ago quarter, and total unit sales were slightly up. So much for those reports that the year-old iPhone 7 was outselling the iPhone 8. iPad and Mac unit sales are both up about 10 percent year-over-year.

Guidance for next quarter is insane: “revenue between $84 billion and $87 billion”. Last year for the holiday quarter Apple reported $78.4 billion in revenue, which was a record for the company. Even the low end of Apple’s guidance would shatter that record.

Christina Bonnington on Apple’s iPhone X Strategy 

Another very astute take on Apple’s iPhone X marketing strategy, this one by Christina Bonnington for Slate:

If you’re reading an iPhone review on The Verge, or Engadget, or Wired, chances are you aren’t hemming and hawing about whether you want to buy the new device. Readers of those sites are already passionate about technology, have strong opinions about it, and often have the money to buy what they want. They’re also largely older and male. (As of 2017, the Wired audience was 57% male, with an average age of 42.) Apple doesn’t need to market as aggressively to this audience, which will seek out information about its products regardless.

Who Apple does want to market to: women and teens. According to 2015 data from Slice Analytics, older men spend the most on Apple products, while women aged 25 to 34 spend the least. Men of every age category (18-plus) outspent women of the same age range, and buyers tended to spend more money on Apple products as they got older. On top of that, women reportedly account for 70 to 85 percent of all consumer purchases and, according to Nielsen Consumer, have a buying power worth $5 to $15 trillion annually.

What all this means: Apple needs to focus its marketing efforts on millennials, teens, and wallet-controlling female buyers if it wants to expand its reach in the U.S., where Android controls 65 percent of the market.

Some Pixel 2 XL Units Are Shipping Without an Operating System 

That’s one way to mitigate the complaints about the display.

Matt Alexander on Apple’s PR Strategy for iPhone X 

Great piece by Matt Alexander, analyzing Apple’s new PR strategy for iPhone X:

How would Apple go about accomplishing these goals?

Simply put, they’d create a crashing wave, of sorts, of press around the product, which would enable them to control and manipulate consumer perception of the news, regardless of how more technical reviewers may feel.

Lesson learned from the Apple Watch Series 3 launch, the tech press created a huge amount of uproar about the device being unable to maintain an LTE connection. Although this was explained within hours of those reviews being published, it was already too late for the average consumer.

I think Alexander nailed Apple’s thinking on this. I do think Apple felt burned by the fact that day one coverage of Apple Watch Series 3 was dominated by the Wi-Fi hotspot bug encountered by The Wall Street Journal’s Joanna Stern and The Verge’s Lauren Goode that seemingly rendered cellular networking — the product’s signature feature! — inoperative. The news that it was just a simple bug and would soon be fixed (which turned out to be true) didn’t spread nearly as widely.

In short, Apple wants control over the narrative for its products, and in-depth reviews are mostly out of their control.

They can’t have it both ways though. Apple yesterday posted “iPhone X: What Reviewers Are Saying” to their Newsroom blog, but most of the quotes were from “reviews” which were written by people who’d only spent a few hours with the phone.

More Face ID FUD, This Time From Reuters 

Stephen Nellis, reporting for Reuters under the headline “App Developer Access to iPhone X Face Data Spooks Some Privacy Experts”:

Apple Inc won accolades from privacy experts in September for assuring that facial data used to unlock its new iPhone X would be securely stored on the phone itself.

But Apple’s privacy promises do not extend to the thousands of app developers who will gain access to facial data in order to build entertainment features for iPhone X customers, such as pinning a three-dimensional mask to their face for a selfie or letting a video game character mirror the player’s real-world facial expressions.

Apple allows developers to take certain facial data off the phone as long as they agree to seek customer permission and not sell the data to third parties, among other terms in a contract seen by Reuters.

This is dangerously misleading FUD. I say “dangerous” because this is the sort of story that could lead people to not set up Face ID, leaving their iPhones less secure and less useful.

There is no way, opt-in or otherwise, for third-party apps to access Face ID data. Face ID data is stored on the iPhone X’s secure enclave — even the OS itself can’t read it.

What third-party apps do have access to, if granted permission, is the front-facing camera with the TrueDepth sensor. That’s it. Apps have access to a front-facing camera that is better than previous front-facing cameras because it has 3D depth mapping. An app (like Snapchat or Instagram) can use this to implement augmented reality features like putting a mask or fake mustache on your face, but that has nothing to do with Face ID. I don’t think this is any more privacy invasive than what these apps are already doing with your iPhone camera — it’s just more accurate spatially for AR effects.

‘Inside the Great Poop Emoji Feud’ 

Charlie Warzel, reporting for BuzzFeed:

The debate appears to be between some of Unicode’s most prolific contributors and typographers (Unicode was initially established to develop standards for translating alphabets into code that can be read across all computers and operating systems), and those in the consortium who focus primarily on the evolution of emojis. The two chief critics — Michael Everson and Andrew West, both typographers — say that the emoji proposal process has become too commercial and frivolous, thereby cheapening the Unicode Consortium’s long body of work.

Their argument centers around “Frowning Pile Of Poo,” one of the emojis under consideration for the June 2018 class. In an Oct. 22 memo to the Unicode Technical Committee, Everson tore into the committee over the submission calling it “damaging ... to the Unicode standard.”

“Organic waste isn’t cute,” Everson wrote, aghast that the technical committee would even deign to consider additional excremoji. “It is bad enough that the [Emoji Subcommittee] came up with it, but it beggars belief that the [Unicode Technical Committee] actually approved it,” he wrote. Everson continued:

“The idea that our 5 committees would sanction further cute graphic characters based on this should embarrass absolutely everyone who votes yes on such an excrescence. Will we have a CRYING PILE OF POO next? PILE OF POO WITH TONGUE STICKING OUT? PILE OF POO WITH QUESTION MARKS FOR EYES? PILE OF POO WITH KARAOKE MIC? Will we have to encode a neutral FACELESS PILE OF POO?”

I’m all for taking most of the Unicode Consortium’s work deliberately and seriously, but emoji are inherently frivolous. The frivolity of emoji is why they’re so sensationally popular.

Also, Simon Willison:

I love how the fact that unicode chars are referred to by their name IN CAPS makes everyone seem even more angry.

Sports Illustrated’s 2014 Cover Story Predicting the Astros as 2017 World Series Champs 

Amazingly prescient. They even chose George Springer for the photo — who hit five home runs in the World Series to run away with the MVP. Words I never expected to type: the Houston Astros are indisputably the best team in baseball.

The Talk Show: ‘If You Trust Your Twin’ 

Jim Dalrymple returns to the show to talk about the iPhone X, which is now in the hands of reviewers and just days away from the hands of customers.

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iPhone X’s Home Indicator 

Apple seems to be going out of its way not to give the horizontal bar at the bottom of the iPhone X user interface a name. For example, in the “getting started” pamphlet that ships in the iPhone X box, they don’t give it a name. They just show a picture of it, with an arrow indicating the gesture, and say “Swipe up to go home.”

Those of us who write about these things need a name for it, though. I suggest “home indicator”. In Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines for iPhone X, they use a similar but more verbose construction: “the indicator for accessing the Home screen”.

Update: It’s also called the home “indicator” in the UIKit APIs. (Thanks to Sachin Patel.)

Installing Custom Ringtones on iOS 11 Devices With iTunes 12.7 

One frustration I have with the way iCloud backups work is that they don’t (at least for me?) seem to back up custom ringtones. So when I set up my iPhone X review unit, I restored from an iCloud backup of my personal iPhone 7. None of my custom ringtones — neither the ones I bought from iTunes nor the ones I created and installed manually — made it to the new phone.

Previously, you could copy these over by connecting the phone to iTunes over a USB cable. But iTunes 12.7 dropped support for managing things like ringtones and iOS apps. And searching the web for an answer to this gave me a long list of articles that were all outdated. This support document from Rogue Amoeba (whose audio editing app Fission is a great tool for creating your own ringtones) explains how to do it with iTunes 12.7 — and also tells you how to restore the tones you previously purchased from the iTunes Store.

Update: A few readers have chimed in to say that their custom ringtones do get backed up and restored by iCloud, so maybe there’s something wrong with my iCloud backup. But I’m not alone. I seem to recall running into this same problem every time I get a new iPhone. But even putting that aside, it seems to me that managing these ringtones is something iOS should be able to handle on its own — especially now that iOS has a Files app. There aren’t many things left you need to connect to a Mac or a PC to manage on iOS, but ringtones are one.

Matthew Panzarino Illustrating Face ID’s Advantage Over Touch ID 

Matthew Panzarino:

If you want to open a notification, for instance, you have to tap it then Touch ID to open it. With Face ID, it’s already open when you tap.

Notifications are the best example of how Face ID is better than Touch ID. Check out Panzarino’s video to see it in action.

Paul Kafasis’s Apple Dumbwatch 

Paul Kafasis was on pace to hit an ambitious activity goal for October (3,347 exercise minutes for the month). But then he updated to iOS 11.1 on his phone and WatchOS 4.1 on his watch yesterday, and, somehow, the numbers add up differently. Very strange bug — computers are usually pretty good at math.

Don’t Treat Face ID as an Extra Step 

Mark Spoonauer, writing for Tom’s Guide:

I’ve been using Face ID on the iPhone X for more than 24 hours, and I don’t need a stopwatch to tell you that it unlocks my phone slower than when I was using Touch ID on my older iPhone 7 Plus. I used a stopwatch app anyway to prove my point.

With Face ID on the iPhone X, it took 1.2 seconds from pressing the side button to the iPhone X’s screen turning on and for the phone to recognize me and unlock the device. And it was another 0.4 seconds to swipe up to get to the lock screen. Total time: 1.8 seconds.

On my iPhone 7 Plus, I could get to the home screen just by pressing and holding my thumb on the Touch ID sensor in an average of 0.91 seconds. That might not seem like a lot of time, but it adds up quickly when you’re unlocking your phone dozens of time a day.

There is a workaround of sorts, though. You can swipe up from the bottom of the iPhone X’s screen even while the iPhone X is looking for your face. Sometimes you might briefly see the word “Face ID” flash as the iPhone X transitions to the home screen, but you will still get to start using your phone faster.

This is not a “workaround”. This is how you’re supposed to unlock iPhone X. Starting with a tap of the side button is not how you’re supposed to do it — you’re creating a two-step process where you only need one.

If raise-to-wake kicks in and turns on the display, all you need to do is swipe up from the bottom. Don’t wait for the lock icon to change — don’t even worry about it. Just swipe up. If raise-to-wake hasn’t kicked in, and you’re holding your iPhone X in your hand with the display off, just tap the screen near the bottom and immediately swipe up. The best way to use Face ID is to pretend it isn’t even there, and just swipe up from the home indicator.

Tapping the screen to wake the display is one of my favorite features so far. There’s really no reason to use the side button to wake the phone.